- Religion and Philosophy
The Confession Bible-Thump
Bible thumping, the Catholic way
As Christians, we Catholics and Protestants have one thing in common: We love scripture!
Yes, the love of scripture is not solely a Protestant affair.
After all, for the first 1,500-years Christendom knew of no such thing as a Protestant Church.
Given this historical fact, what Christian sect could have preserved the scriptures and ensured access to them by future generations of bible-thumpers, if not the Catholic Church?
Indeed, if bible thumping is your game, then you’ve come to the right place. Just pull up a seat, sit back, and relax as we “bible-thump” the Catholic way.
Now, within the Catholic Church, there are different types of "bible-thumps." For example, we have the Eucharist Bible-Thump. We have the Mary Bible-Thump. We have the Purgatory Bible thump, and so on.
These bible-thumps are uniquely designed to do one thing: Prove through the use of the scriptures, the Catholic Church has preserved through the ages, that her doctrines are categorically biblical.
Given the constraint of time, however, there will only be time to demonstrate one particular bible-thump.
Today's bible-thump is called: The Confession Bible-Thump and can be learned in a few simple verses. So please humor us by opening your bibles to 1 John 5:16-17 where scripture states:
"If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly."
Here, the word of God tells us there is certain sin for which we can pray, as Protestants believe. However, we are also told, "There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray."
Scripture, therefore, presents Protestant doctrine on sin as an incomplete formula. For while it is true certain sin can be prayed for, there is deadly sin for which the same does not hold true.
In all actuality, therefore, scripture appears to teach Catholic doctrine on the matter of sin, does it not? For it is the Catholic Church that has long taught there to be such a thing as venial and mortal (deadly) sin. In other words, sin which is dispensed with prayer and sin with which prayer cannot dispense.
So, what are we to do about sin which cannot be "prayed away?" So glad you asked.
James 5:14-15 tells us, "Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up."
This scripture verse instructs the early Christian as to what must be done if one were to fall sick. And that is, "summon the priests (presbyters)" who will anoint the sick person, in the name of the Lord,with oil and pray over the person. And through the prayer of the priest (presbyter) the person will be saved from sickness and raised up by the Lord.
Now, what does this scripture verse have to do with confession?
Well, Verse 15 continues: "If he [the sick person] has committed any sins, he will be forgiven."
We are told the sick person's sins will be forgiven. But forgiven by whom? It stands to reason, the sick person cannot forgive himself, therefore, it must be the priests, who have been summoned, to whom this verse refers.
In fact, we know it falls to the presbyter of the Church to forgive sins because Paul, a presbyter, of the Church, in 2 Corinthians states: "whatever I have forgiven, if there is anything I have forgiven, I have done it for your sake in Christ's presence..."
Here we have Paul, acting in the presence of Christ, as forgiver for the sake of another. Just as the presbyters in James 5 (above) are acting in Christ as saving-healers, and forgivers of sin for the sake of another.
Now let us bible-thump our way over to John 20:21-23 where scripture tells us: "And he said to them again, 'Peace be with you. 'As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.'After saying this he breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone's sins, they are retained."
Let us first note, this very verse implies the act of confession. For Christ gives the Apostles the power to forgive sin or retain it. So how will the Apostles know whether to forgive or retain a certain sin, if the sin has not been told them - or confessed?
In fact, we see the same scenario in the old testament, Leviticus 5:1-26 wherein the priest offers up the sacrifice of a certain animal in expiation for certain sin committed. Each sin requires a different sacrifice.
Now, how would the old testament priest know which sacrifice he is to offer up for the expiation of a given sin, unless that sin is confessed by the transgressor? In fact, Leviticus 5:5 tells us: "if he is answerable in any of those cases, he will have to confess the sin committed."
We, therefore, see the confession of sin to a priest goes back much further than the new testament.
But let us get back to John 20:21-23. For the scripture passage also tells us Jesus, "breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit."
This is a profound scripture verse. For there is only one other time in all of scripture where God breathes on man. And that is at his creation.
It is at creation where man is given the power of carnal life through the breath of God. Here, Jesus (God) breathes on man and gives him the power of supernatural life by imbuing man with the power to forgive and unbind the eternal soul from sin (death).
Furthermore, we know this power to forgive sin must have been passed on by the Apostles to other men. For as we've seen in James 5, we are told to summon the presbyters (priests) when one is sick or when there is a need for the forgiveness of sin.
James does not say summon the Apostles. He says, "summon the priests (presbyters) of the church." Clearly then, there were those who came after the Apostles with authority to forgive sin. And those man remain with us today.
We can find them in confessionals within the Catholic Church throughout the world, forgiving sin for our sake in the presence of Christ.
With that, our confession bible-thump has come to an end. See you next time.
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