Friday, 7 December 2012

And a little bit more about Confession

Confession is not magic.
Although there is a bizarre caricature by many people of the hypocrisy that could exist in the process which goes along the line.... go to Confession before you go out on Saturday night so that you can go ahead and do the same thing and so the cycle repeats itself.... this is actually something that is expressly   forbidden.
If you are to receive forgiveness (absolution) then your intention has to be  that you intend to not commit the sin again.
You can't, for example, confess to stealing from work, have the sleight wiped claim but fully intend to go on doing it.
The Confessor could/would/should in this circumstance refuse absolution...there is no automatic right to absolution unless you resolve to not go on sinning..
This is not to say that an embezzler won't do it again....the nature of sin is such that even when we intend to not do wrong sometimes we do.


Eric said...

In the evangelical churches we never do confession in any formal way, and we only know about the practice through TV, which may be caricatured. (In fact James' instruction to confess our sins to one another tends to be neglected). So we don't have the situation where someone is sworn to absolute secrecy.

But my feeling has always been that priests ought not to break secrecy when that is assumed even in criminal cases. Just from an information theoretical point of view, law enforcement is never left with less information than they would have been.

Then I also wonder, does the penitent, in coming to confession, submit themselves to whatever course of repentance the priest tells them? If someone confesses to some crime, can the priest say "Repentance will mean owning up, and I will help you do that"?

And if they are happy to go along with that, as well as helping someone live in the light, the Church and the practice of confession actually gets credit for uncovering the truth. And if they don't, then it was as though they had not confessed.

Maybe a bit hopeful...

stephen clark said...

Yes I think your comments are correct
I actually think that there is a lot more confession goes on in evangelical churches than we may think. Methodism has a great tradition of 'wrestling together on our knees'
This is really my experience too