Forgivness for a Protestant vs a Catholic

Christianity has always encouraged asking God for the forgiveness of sins. The Catholic church however, also encourages frequent Confession to a priest (even for venial sins). I do understand that it is Jesus Himself forgiving and absolving your sins through the priest. If this is so, is there any value in asking God directly for forgiveness? Will God not grant absolution to sinners who don’t know about priestly confession? To those who do know about priestly confession, is it of no value to the soul to ask God directly for forgiveness? What about venial sins? Can those be forgiven when asking God directly without the use of the sacrament (seeing as mortal sin is the only type of sin where Confession is absolutely required)?

Protestants particularly emphasize praying to God directly for forgiveness. Are their sins, even mortal sins, forgiven when they pray with a contrite heart? If they became Catholic, would they need to re-confess those sins to a priest those sins they told God in prayer privately? If so, does that mean that nothing came of their asking God in prayer?

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

Since I’ve neve been exposed to Prodestent thinking, I can only offer my questions back to Prodestents.

Do they not believe in final judgement? Does not final judgement encompass personal judgement and mankind judgement? If this is so, why do they not want practice on how to experience final judgement? I’ve heard many people say they like to worship in the wilderness and make their confessions there … To which I think, “I goto the bathroom in the woods as a last result … But it is better for me and for all of mankind to do this in a place designated for the purpose.”

Then when standing in line to have my confession heard, I examine my conscience. How often are self-confessors examining their conscience? What makes them examine their conscience? For me, I want to recieve the Holy Eucharist without separation from God. So, when I feel dirty from venial sins, and take the holy Eucharist, I don’t get the same connection as I do when my soul is sparkly clean. I remember being at a retreat once and being in mortal sin, going face to face with the Holy Eucharist and not being able to recieve God) … I had my arms crossing my chest to show this and get a blessing from Priest … Anyways, how do Christians who know they are in sin get the undratandin of being separated from God? Another thing that happenes to me in the confession line is that I pray for my brothers and sisters in the confessional I have a good confession. I do so because of the prayer we say I holy Mass to pray for our brothers and sisters. So, again, for those who want to skip the process, how do they get these graces? Back to the examination of conscience … How do they grow to ask for forgivness if they are not exercising their conscience in an active manner which invokes a living conversation with another?

Now, an Irish Priest once told us that confessions used to be public. Yes, it was like an AAA meeting where you had to stand up confess your sins, and do penance in public … But thanks to the Irish, they became private. I’m glad at this … But also wonder how ill prepaired I am for final judgement in a group. During the Passion, Jesus faced a private and public trial. The public was crazy mean and yelled, “crucify him” … Will I too have to face the peoe I wronged and will they too yell, “crucify her”? In holy Mass we join Jesus in this judgement and also know that there will come a time when we too will have a private and public judgement. I thank God and the Priests for offering me all the practice, mercy , and forgivness they do.

Peace be with you

I was raised in Protestant churches and firmly believed that one goes directly to Jesus for forgiveness. The only problem I had with that was never really knowing if I was forgiven. I would ask for forgiveness over & over, rather like a scrupulous Catholic. I may have been alone in this - I don’t recall talking to any other Protestants who had the same problem.

It was a relief, when I became a Catholic, to KNOW that my sins were forgiven. For my first confession I had been instructed to confess sins committed after my baptism - I had been baptised in a Protestant church when I was a teen. I made no distinction between sins that I had asked forgiveness for earlier & sins that I had not asked forgiveness for.

Even though God established the sacrament of Penance to give us grace and forgiveness, there is still value in asking him directly for forgiveness:

– Asking God for forgiveness is a turning toward God, which always has value.

– After falling we should get back up without delay. Asking God “directly” to forgive us is part of this.

– Our goal should be perfect contrition, even though we may not always achieve it. If we do achieve it, we can obtain forgiveness even of mortal sin, without the help of the sacrament (though we are still obliged to go when possible).

– Confessing directly to God may prepare us for a better confession with the priest.

– It is an act of humility, and if we are still in a state of grace, an act of charity.

Yes a Protestant (as well as a Catholic) could be forgiven mortal sins if he had perfect contrition. And yes he would still be obliged, after entering the Church, to confess his sins. There are good reasons for this. One reason is that we can’t know for sure if our contrition was perfect. Another is that we get grace from the sacrament even if our sin was already forgiven, and it also helps remove the temporal punishment. There are other reasons as well.

I’ll answer from a Pentecostal Protestant perspective (and much of what I say will apply to other evangelical Christians as well).

We do.

Judgment for the believer is three-fold. First, judgment occurs at the cross. At the cross, the believer pleads guilty, confesses his sin, and identifies himself with Jesus, his substitute. (John 12:31-32; 1 John 1:19). Second, there is ongoing self-judgment (1 Corinthians 11:31-32). Then finally, there is judgment before the judgment seat of Christ. For believers, this is not a judgment of condemnation, but one for determining the believer’s rewards (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

We should always be examining our consciences. This is that second element in the self judgment of the believing Christian. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:31-32, “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”

The Holy Spirit. This is part of His sanctifying work in the life of the believer.

We know we are separated from God mainly in two ways: 1) the agency of the Holy Spirit who brings conviction (i.e. He convinces us that we are sinners; John 16:18) and 2) the Word of God, which reveals to us the commands and oracles of God thereby showing us how far we have fallen short of God’s glory and righteousness.

When I have unconfessed sin in my life, I do feel separation from God. I feel burdened when I try to worship Him in church (no liberty), and I often feel uncomfortable having to sit through a sermon because the Word often touches on the theme of rebellion against God.

In addition, I often feel this tug of war within myself. Part of me wants to walk down to the altar and pray for forgiveness, while the other part of me wants to stay in the pew because that part of me is still unwilling to acknowledge my sin. But when I do go to the altar its as if I am laying down my sin and surrendering it to the Lord. When I get up, I know I’m leaving it there and not picking it back up.

I am having a living conversation with another person. His name is Jesus, and He’s more real than you or I. What is so wonderful about the Incarnation is that our God is not ignorant of what it is to be human. He was tempted and tried just as we are, yet He lived without sin. When I confess my sins to Him, He knows me so deeply and truly that He can understand my weaknesses and my faults. Neither does He despise my human frailties. I come to Him knowing that in Him is perfect love and righteousness.

Yeah. That’s really how it was with me too. Except that I never figured I was really forgiven so much as suitably punished. So I mean I’d do something wrong, then say sorry to God about it and then wait for my punishment. Whatever happened that was bad over the next week was because of my sin. But I mean I never felt forgiven. I just sort of felt like God had punished me enough and had forgotten about me for a bit. Until the next time. So yeah, that’s how it was.



We (are able to) lie to ourselves. No, we actually tend to lie to ourselves.

Yes, you can confess to God. But are you really confessing? or are you saying words to comfort yourself (self-fixing)? Jesus knew the difference, and a priest knows the difference.
To some forgiveness is granted,
and to others a task is first assigned (“go and sell all you have and give to the poor, then come follow me”)

We lie to ourselves about our sin / sinfulness (and lie to God).
And then, we presume upon God - no one confessing directly to God can claim that forgiveness actually happened. They do not know because they were not informed.

While it is virtuous to be honest with God and always confess your sin directly to Him, it is also virtuous to listen for Him to say what He will say about it, in other words, remain in a kind of sadness for your sin until you hear actual absolution. Jesus sent that via the Priests to you (to give you the light and happy heart - or to point out to you that you are not contrite and not honest with God).

When you / protestants confess directly to God, they are supplying only 1/2 of a conversation - you can’t do the other half and speak for God just because the Bible says God forgives; you need to hear that other half of the conversation of him forgiving you in the mouth of his Sent Messenger. Otherwise you are only hearing wishful imaginings.

Every Catholic should be sorry for their sins and ask God’s forgiveness BEFORE even entering into the confessional. We must be sorry for our sins before we go to Confession .That’s why were there! Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, (Confession) for a very good reason. It makes us think about and face our sins before another, (The Priest) and ask forgiveness, and the Priest gives us God’s Absolution, and the Sacramental Grace, which we cannot get any other way, in the woods, in our room or anywhere else. Jesus knows exactly what HE is doing and why we need it. God Bless, Memaw

Non Catholic Christians do practice confessing their sins to one another. We also go directly to God. Normally we confess to more than one though, often in groups.

When I was a Baptist years ago the pastor at the time did something very different for the Wednesday night Bible study. He took the verse in James about confessing your sins one to another and said…let’s do it.
What followed was a very interesting meeting that humbled many of us and blessed many more with an openness they didn’t expect.
The pastor never did it again, maybe it scared him, I don’t know.

For Lutherans, it isn’t a matter of either/or, but both/and. Of significance for me is the comfort of hearing Absolution granted by a pastor/confessor.
I’ve linked to the Lutheran Service Book (sampler). Check the table of contents, and you will find the pages for both corporate and private confession and Holy Absolution.
It is also found in all settings of the Divine Service.


Very interesting story.

I have wondered about confession in the first generation Christians. It seems to me that there was a strong “assumption” that a serious trespass against the faith was naturally confessed to “the Church”.

The Church as a “body” had much more respect in the beginning. A true remorse of doing something sinful convicted the person to reveal himself to the mystical body of Christ equally with private prayer to God.

Scripture’s accounts of sins forgiven of Baptized Christians already relates the member’s forgiveness as significant and essential.

The development into the modern practice of the Sacrament seems to be from the community and elders (priests/bishop) to a private encounter with a priest.

Like many other “protestant” practices, it’s hard to generalize. Jon NC would be on the Catholic concept side of the hugely diverse protestant world. But in general, I believe confession to God alone is is relative to the tresspass. To keep certain things hidden from the Christian assembly and/or people directly affected by the tresspass yet show prayerful remorse to God seems very contradictory to my faith.

In many situations, there may be a genuine reconciliation with Christ, but to an imperfect degree to say the least. Is there forgiveness? I hope so, but the higher law of Christ involving the relational recourse with His mystical body as greatly desired.

Thank God for holy absolution .

I am WELS and I admittedly like the LCMS rite of confession and absolution much more. I have asked my pastor to use the LCMS rite when I have done private confession with him.

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