non catholics views on confessing to each other

Do non catholics just confess to each other? Or just ask God directly for forgiveness and skip that?
Or both depending on the situation? How do you get spritiual guidance? I know this sounds silly to ask but I have been told that there is no one way to do it, and it depends (my friend who is non denomination). So, what do you all do?

From my perspective as a Lutheran, I’l confess to another if I have hurt that person (apologize). I can also ask God forgiveness directly (“forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”). But the standard practice for confession as a Lutheran is to confess to a confessor, the pastor, in either public confession or private confession. While the Catholic Church contends that Lutheran clergy lack the command of Christ to bind and loose, Lutherans believe that they do. So, therefore, after public or private confession, the pastor/confessor declares, by Christ’s authority, Absolution.

Luther’s Small Catechism

Q. What is confession?

A. Confession has two parts:

First, a person admits his sin

Second, a person receives absolution or forgiveness from the confessor, as if from God Himself, without doubting it, but believing firmly that his sins are forgiven by God in Heaven through it.


Hello Jon, and thank you for explaining. Is there a requirement in the Lutheran Church to confess to a pastor or is it up to the individual? And, is the pastor then, the spiritual advisor in matters? Or can you find a friend who is knowledgable that can be?

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

By the way- It is not my intention to argue with anyone about what their church does. I simply am looking for a good explaination on how things work in other denominations.

I hope this thread does not turn into an apologetics debate!:eek:

I just want to know how others do this.:slight_smile:

in my church (non-denominational or Assembly of God) one confesses to whoever was wronged.

All sin wrongs God so all sin must be confessed to Him as well.

If you wronged the whole church body you must confess in front of all of them.

As for a spiritual adviser, it is sometimes the pastor, other times (as in very large churches) one is sometimes assigned a mentor, or an “accountability partner”.

Hi Syele,

I am confused about one thing, what is it that you can do that is wronging the whole church body only?
Don’t all sins hurt the whole church body?

The reason I ask, is when I did not care about God at all, I felt that christians in general that I met in my life, were no more trustworthy, reliable, honest, or kinder than non christians.

So, what I am saying is- the fact that I was not a christian, but witnessing christians that either did not know or care how to conduct themselves helped convince me that christianity was not worth looking into.

So, while I was not a part of the church body, I was seeing that body go and do things, that they themselves claimed was wrong.

So, in my case- that prevented me from considering being in that body (there were other reasons though- that was not the only one by a long shot, but a big one)

I hope you know what I am saying here. If not, I can try to be more clear.:o

I don’t know about a “requirement”, per se. One is discouraged from communing without at least public confession (to a pastor/confessor), and, as Luther says, we are to believe with all certainty the Holy Absolution granted by him (by Christ’s authority).

I also believe that sins that go unconfessed and unabsolved will not only wear on the conscience of a believer, but also eventually drive the HS, and therefore, faith out.
Certainly, the pastor is the spiritual leader at the parish level, but a loving, knowledgable, faith-filled friend can also be a source of advise. Often over the years, my brother and I have served that role for each other. We also look to our church leaders, past and present, as well as the ECF’s, saints, etc.


Thanks again Jon, for explaining more. I am glad you have someone like your brother to help you out.
I think I am getting a better understanding of how Lutherans approach this.

Is penance ever a part of this? I wonder because I don’t know if penance is something that one would do anyway (regardless of direction to do so) or if one would only do it if reccomended to.

I know that must not make sense, but I am just trying to figure out if there is a voluntary action on the part of the one confessing to do any act of penance, or if its a conditioned way to think/believe.

We do not have penance as a part of our theology. Repentance, yes, acts of penance, no.

penance is biblical.

TU is, as usual, correct. We believe that the idea of penance undermines the full sacrafice for our sins done by Christ. This, of course, does not mean we don’t believe in good works (see my signature).


I have a very high degree of respect for TU. However, I don’t understand how penance undermines anything.

Yet, now I am guilty of going beyond just knowing what non catholics believe!:blush:

Sorry. I will leave it here. I am just very interested.
I intend to go to a Lutheran service this Sunday to a place close to me. I will also be attending a Methodist service the same day, (sunday) and attend the Vigil Mass on Sat at the catholic parish.

That’s ok, penance seems, at least to me, to put into my hands some power to contribute to my own forgiveness. Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection takes care of that.

Enjoy the various services you plan to attend.


Thank you.

I have the information that helps me decide now.

Warning: I am trying my best to get this to relate to the thread

Certainly Jesus suffering was sufficient for the whole world, but it is our playing our part to spread the benefits of that suffering…through prayer, almsgiving, works, suffering, etc.

Jesus says:
(Luke 14:27)
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

St. Paul spoke of this many times:

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church

2 Thessalonians 1:4-5
4 Accordingly, we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God regarding your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions you endure. 5 This is evidence of the just judgment of God, so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God for which you are suffering.
Hebrews 12:11
At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.

I could go on and on with examples…

It is not that penance makes up for anything lacking Christ did on the cross, penance (in the various forms it comes in), is our willingness to follow Christ.

Penance strengthens us spiritually and can be used as prayer (fasting, for example).

The life of a Christian is a life of penance. (I forget which Saint said this.)

In summation:
It is what we do here on earth that continues the purpose of the crucifixion of our Lord. Our works (cooperating with His Grace) are what make salvation possible for others. If no one chose to follow Christ, no one could be saved.

We do penance to share in Christ’s suffering. We do penance to commit ourselves more deeply to God.

We are not adding to the cross, per se, we are continuing the cross.

Don’t worry tGette, it helped me decide to be catholic. That’s what I meant.

Actually…the New Testament never once mentions it.

I am not sure if it does clearly or not- I believe it does- but you may not agree with my interpretation.
I do know, it surely does in the OT.
I do know Jesus never condemned the practice.

Well, you would have to point to a certain verse here that you’re referring to in Scripture.

Sure, let me get my laundry out and folded first. I think it was Paul but (hey- I don’t even totally trust Paul anyway) then agian, you cant tell me you dont know of penances in the OT.

What the heck are sackcloths and ashes for then?

Matthew 11:20-21
Rev 11:3-6
Esther 4:1 (you claim Lutherans are going with the 7 books you did not follow before in another thread)
Job 42:6
Isaiah 612:3
Ezekiel 27:30
Jon 3:6

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit