I was taught that Catholics confess their sins to the priest, while all other Christians confess their sins to God.
What is the truth of the matter?

Lutherans confess their sins to their pastor as well, same with Orthodox.

All Christians confess to God. Some Christians, such as Catholics, Lutherans, and others, confess to God in the presence of the pastor/priest who, acting* in persona christi*, declares absolution. There are varying understandings of this, depending on tradition.
From the Lutheran POV:


Indeed. IMO too few of us Lutherans avail ourselves to individual confession with our pastor. I try to do it at least once per year, usually during Lent. I find it a helpful practice.

I didn’t know that Lutherans confess to pastor. I live in a small, mostly Lutheran town and my Lutheran friends give me grief about it. They are Missouri Synod- does that group not have confession?

No. All Lutherans have private confession. Our beloved Augsburg Confession even says that.

"Article XI: Of Confession.

1] Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession 2] an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12. "

James 5:
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective…
1 John 1:
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

19Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. 20And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. 21He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. 22When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. 23Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

John 20:19-23

You can tell them to act more like Lutherans. :smiley:

But seriously. Just as Ents grew more tree-ish, Lutherans in America have grown Protestant-ish. Sometimes we forget what our Confessions say.

(I’m Missouri Synod, too.)

I agree. It’s something that has been lost over the last 30 or so years. In fact, when I was baptized and confirmed, I was told that church used to have confessional services before a communion service was held. Now we pretty much have a confessional prayer in the service before we go to the communion table. I have confessed to the pastors over the years and others who were in “ministerial” positions but not actually ordained. Verbalizing your confession and hearing the words that Christ forgives you makes a huge impact on how you deal with any sin that you have been carrying within you even if you have made a confession directly to God. Psychologically, it’s very healing!



In the CEC we have confession to Priests

Thanks for all the great answers everyone!

Jesus gave His authority to men to forgive sins through His power and with His authority. So when sins are forgiven by a priest, it is NOT the priest forgiving the sins, but Jesus. They are His priests, conveying His authority as given to them.

Jesus specifically gave the power of forgiving or retaining sins to the Apostles. He breathed on them to give this authority. That should tell us how significant that authority is. God breathed on man twice. The first was with Adam, giving life to him and life to all mankind. The second was with the Apostles, and He was giving the authority to restore spiritual life to those who had sinned and killed the spiritual life in themselves.

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