Protestants: "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven, if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

John 20:21-23
I was raised Protestant/Anabaptist/non-denom. Over the past yr or so I’ve been trying to figure out the claims of Catholicism, and have wavered back and forth on whether it’s true or not. One verse that really stumps Protestants (or at least I haven’t heard a good argument for) is the above. Without reading into it/or using my Protestant eyes, it seems pretty confirming of the Catholic teaching on confession to priests, absolution, etc. Please give me your (Protestant) explanation to this verse.

I’ve heard "The Greek tense is really saying more like ’ who’s sins you forgive will have already been forgiven in heaven, and who’s sins you retain / will have not been forgiven.’ " So more of an authority to declare what God has already done, and any believer can do this. We know that if someone sincerely repents/confesses they are forgiven, and vice versa, but that seems skethcy because it could vary it the individuals “declaration” or opinion. Plus, Jesus “breathed the holy spirit on them” right before which indicates he was bestowing on them some special power. There’s no indication of Jesus giving this to anyone else.

ANother possible explanation is that Jesus was saying “who’s sins you hold on to will be a weight on you, and who’s sins you forgive/let go of, will not hold onto you/will free you.” Or like the judge not lest ye be judged thing. Or the forgive us as we forgive others thing. But again, that doesn’t seem like it’d require a special “breathing on of the holy spirit.” Plus that would be apparent in the Greek I’d assume if it’s like Spanish, with reflexive verbs. We’d be able to see if it pertained to the other or the apostle.

I have the same question with the giving Peter the keys to the kingdom… bind and loose thing (Matt 16:18-20). Protestants don’t seem to have a good explanation for this either and if we take these verses as they say without fear that they might really mean what Catholics say they do, we have some re-thinking of forgiveness and confession to do.

The belief in confession to a priest or minister runs along the same lines as belief in apostolic succession (i.e. Orthodox, Catholics, some Anglicans and Lutherans). It seems like the closer you get to the trunk of the Christianity tree, the more likely you are to find it.

What do you think?

Yes, because it took a few generations to break away from the Catholic view. I don’t know of any Lutherans that believe you can only be forgiven through a priest / pastor though. I don’t know anything about Anglicans. I can surely see the benefit in confession…to anyone for that matter, but to believe that God ONLY forgives mortal sin through a priest does not seem like God…at least the God I’ve learned about in the New Testament.

Confession is the norm for Catholics. Since Protestantism isn’t set up for confession, I’d guess God finds another way.

at least the God I’ve learned about in the New Testament.

Maybe except for that God-man you alluded to in the op.:smiley:

One lady here points out that Protestants go to their pastor for baptism and marriage, but not to be received back into God’s grace after separating themselves through mortal sin.

And with the moral teachings presented by most Protestants, (such as masturbation and contraception not being sinful) how many mortal sins is a Protestant likely to commit?

Actually they do. The latest Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal -American anglicans) has a formula for it and during the communion service at my friend’s Lutheran church the Pastor pronounced a formula for absolution also there was a book written some years ago by a Quaker called Celebration of Disciplinein which he recommended auricular confession and AA also teaches the precept in their 12 steps.Even Luther himself recommends it in his small catechism. It is truely as has been said the further removed from the root the less clear things become. Protestants don’t usually take advantage of it because either they’ve been taught to “go straight to God” or aren’t even aware that the option is available in some denominations. Going back to confession when i returned to the church took a bit of coaxing because doing it in the “quiet of the heart” doesn’t really affect one’s pride in admitting that one is a sinner. The advantage that Catholics and other who use the sacrement have is that when we’re done the priest acting of God’s behalf tells us God has forgiven us something we don’t get from just going to God.

Here is the prevailing evangelical view. Those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ. This according to the NASB Study Bible published by Zondervan.

But do they teach you can’t be forgiven if you confess only to God, or confess to a lay person only? That’s the problem I have w/the concept.

It is truely as has been said the further removed from the root the less clear things become. Protestants don’t usually take advantage of it because either they’ve been taught to “go straight to God” or aren’t even aware that the option is available in some denominations. Going back to confession when i returned to the church took a bit of coaxing because doing it in the “quiet of the heart” doesn’t really affect one’s pride in admitting that one is a sinner. The advantage that Catholics and other who use the sacrement have is that when we’re done the priest acting of God’s behalf tells us God has forgiven us something we don’t get from just going to God.

Well, if we read God’s word we are told he forgives us if we confess our sins, so that’s at least as valid as a priest telling someone. Do Catholics not believe this?
Maybe for someone who has little faith hearing it from the priest is necessary (for the person’s “feeling better.” But in terms of the actual legal matter, the Bible seems to teach that we ARE forgiven just for confessing, and doesn’t make a specification as to who you must confess to in order to be forgiven. Elders are mentioned, which I guess could be priests.It’s just the have to part. I’d be happy to confess my sins after baptism here openly on the forum and I have confessed to many people, but not because I thought I needed to to obtain forgivness. It was more as just being up front w/people, or having rapport, etc. Or, because it’s the past. I believe God has wiped away the sins of my past so though my sins are digusting and when I confess them, he “remembers them no more.” The Bible tells me that.

So you think he DOES forgive non-Catholics/Protestants? Then I guess I don’t need to worry anymore about which religion is right if I’ll be forgiven anyway!:thumbsup:

Maybe except for that God-man you alluded to in the op.:smiley:

That was God though, not a mere man…which priests/bishops are.

One lady here points out that Protestants go to their pastor for baptism and marriage, but not to be received back into God’s grace after separating themselves through mortal sin.

But Protestants don’t believe your marriage /baptism is only valid if performed by a priest/bishop/pastor. Anyone can baptize (as Catholics also believe), and a Court wedding is just as much a valid marriage as a Church wedding but we do choose to do a church wedding or at least the minister invites God into the wedding, prays, etc, so we can make a public declaration of our commitment to Christian marriage. I’ve never thought of marriage as a “sacrament” but then again, we don’t use that word in my Christian background. We do say marriage is ordained by God, (but it doesn’t matter who performs it here on Earth, the covenant is between the believers and God) .

And with the moral teachings presented by most Protestants, (such as masturbation and contraception not being sinful) how many mortal sins is a Protestant likely to commit?

We don’t make the disctinction between mortal of venial sins. All sins separate us from God and we should confess all sins. The main sin to confess is the sin of not loving God which takes place when we convert. After that, we think of ourselves as already in the state of grace/forgiveness so the other confessions don’t really help to justify us, just to sanctify us. In other words, they help us move toward repentance and holier living. Just acknowledging that we have not been loving God as we should and asking for help to live according to his will is the initial crossing over from death to life.Just thinking about it lightens my soul right now. :slight_smile:

This really doesn’t explain the verse though. That’s not what Jesus was saying. Any other Protestants out there? I’ve heard several RC responses, but I really need some Prots to step up to the plate here!

Absolutely.

Then I guess I don’t need to worry anymore about which religion is right if I’ll be forgiven anyway!:thumbsup:

You don’t need to worry about it anyway, as long as you are open to the truth.

The attitude I seem to pick up from Protestants is that confession is in and of itself some type of punishment.

That was God though, not a mere man…which priests/bishops are.

The oldest belief, though, is that Jesus initiated confession in the upper room and sustains it through apostolic succession.

But Protestants don’t believe your marriage /baptism is only valid if performed by a priest/bishop/pastor.

Maybe its just too Catholic.

Anyone can baptize (as Catholics also believe),

The norm for Catholics is to be baptised by a validly ordained priest or deacon.

and a Court wedding is just as much a valid marriage as a Church wedding but we do choose to do a church wedding or at least the minister invites God into the wedding, prays, etc, so we can make a public declaration of our commitment to Christian marriage.

Couldn’t the bride and groom invite God?

I’ve never thought of marriage as a “sacrament” but then again, we don’t use that word in my Christian background. We do say marriage is ordained by God,

And I suppose that most Protestants prefer to be married by a minister, which speaks volumes for the Catholic approach to marriage.

(

but it doesn’t matter who performs it here on Earth, the covenant is between the believers and God) .

Of course it matters. Someone needs to council the couple about marriage. Again, I don’t think most Protestants believe this.

We don’t make the disctinction between mortal of venial sins.

I misunderstood because your op seemed to ask specifically about unconfessed mortal sins.

I don’t think so

Couldn’t the bride and groom invite God?

Absolutely, the state wouldn’t recognize it though so we also usually do the state papers.

(Of course it matters. Someone needs to council the couple about marriage. Again, I don’t think most Protestants believe this.

My pastor didn’t give me any sort of pre-marital counselling which I which he would’ve. In any case, a priest isn’t the only one who can counsel. Parents can, other godly friends/family, mentors, etc. Even the Bible alone can counsel you! That issue isn’t about cousel though, it’s about whether or not a marriage is valid outside of the Catholic Church. They say mine isn’t because my husband was a non-practicing Catholic that I brought to know the Lord and we were married first by the court, then to make it before God, we did it at my church, and now the RCs say it’s STILL not valid since it wasn’t in the RCC?! Does God not see my marriage as valid? I doubt that. I think he sees anyone who’s had sex as married and that’s why it’s such a sin to have sex outside of marriage/fornication/adultery. It’s the same as adultery. It’s like the sex is what binds you more than the papers you sign. Anyway…this is off topic I know.
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True. But the gift of confession and Holy Absolution, whether corporate or private, is the certain knowledge that my sins are forgiven. How? Because Christ, through the pastor/confessor, declares it so. “As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all of your sins, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” This declaration cannot be heard this definitively in any other setting (in private prayer or with a fellow believer), and the lifting of the burden of guilt is such a blessing.

Jon

“Prots” don’t deal with this verse very much. I have seldom heard it read in the Baptist church and then only as a part of the resurrection story. Never explained, and there are two good reasons for this.

First, it is difficult to address this verse without concluding that Jesus gave His disciples the power of absolution. Since Baptists understand that only God can forgive sins, they know it can’t mean what it purports to say.

Second, most Protestants, including Baptists, believe in OSAS. Therefore, the idea of having sins forgiven is rather fuzzy and there is no pressing need for it. They regard 1 John 1:9 as a process whereby Christians can maintain their fellowship with God and not as something necessary to retain our salvation. Botttom line: whatever it means is not very important.

For these reasons, I don’t think you are going to get any explanation other than what I gave you in my earlier post.

Originally Posted by mesl4
This really doesn’t explain the verse though. That’s not what Jesus was saying. Any other Protestants out there? I’ve heard several RC responses, but I really need some Prots to step up to the plate here!

I’ll try, and I hope Zenas won’t mind my using the following as a counterpoint.

=Zenas;5151126]“Prots” don’t deal with this verse very much. I have seldom heard it read in the Baptist church and then only as a part of the resurrection story.

Just a sidebar: I am not particularly offended by the term “prots”, but I think the moderators are not inclined to view it positively, anymore than “Cats” and “Orts”.

First, it is difficult to address this verse without concluding that Jesus gave His disciples the power of absolution. Since Baptists understand that only God can forgive sins, they know it can’t mean what it purports to say.

All Christians believe that only God can forgive sins, but Christ gave the power to bind and loose to the Church.

VII. Of the Keys.
1] The keys are an office and power given by Christ to the Church for binding and loosing sin, not only the gross and well-known sins, but also the subtle, hidden, which are known only to God, as it is written in Ps. 19:13: Who can understand his errors? And in Rom. 7:25 St. Paul himself complains that with the flesh he serves the law of sin. 2] For it is not in our power, but belongs to God alone, to judge which, how great, and how many the sins are, as it is written in Ps. 143, 2: Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. 3] And Paul says, 1 Cor. 4:4: For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified.

bookofconcord.org/smalcald.php#keys

Second, most Protestants, including Baptists, believe in OSAS. Therefore, the idea of having sins forgiven is rather fuzzy and there is no pressing need for it. They regard 1 John 1:9 as a process whereby Christians can maintain their fellowship with God and not as something necessary to retain our salvation. Botttom line: whatever it means is not very important.

No wonder knowledgable Lutherans and Anglicans prefer not to be called protestants. I have a hard time understanding the disconnect between maintaining their fellowship with God, and retaining our salvation. Unrepented and/or repeated sins eventually drive out the Holy Spirit, and place in peril salvation.

If I had to target one complaint I have with the early Lutherans, it was not upholding Confession and Holy Absolution as a sacrament on a par with Baptism and Eucharist. It is such an important part of our sanctification and maintaining our justification.

Article XII: Of Repentance.

1] Of Repentance they teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins whenever they are converted 2] and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these 3] two parts: One is contrition, that is, 4] terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of 5] the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven, comforts 6] the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.

7] They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. Also those who contend that some may attain to such 8] perfection in this life that they cannot sin.

bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php#article11

For these reasons, I don’t think you are going to get any explanation other than what I gave you in my earlier post.

:slight_smile:

Jon

No offense taken at all, but Baptists and other evengelicals give the Church almost no role in the plan of salvation. Here is how the Baptist Faith and Message, the statement of faith of the Southern Baptist Convention, describes the church:

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

As you can see, salvation is mostly an individual matter and the concept of binding and loosing is also something they do not address.

I also agree that there is a disconnect between maintaining fellowship with God and retaining our salvation but the overwhelming majority of Baptists see no disconnect at all. This is from the *Baptist Faith and Message: *

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

If you doubt that they take this seriously, I would encourage you to visit a Baptist forum on the Internet.

An interesting post that gets to the heart of the matter; Understanding what a “Sacrament” is could help solve your dilemma. First of all Protestants? non catholics should understand that the Priest himself does not forgive your mortal sins; It is the blood of Jesus Christ (standing as though slain before God for our confessed sins) himself working through Peter (successors of the apostles, bishops and their presbyters) in the Catholic church with the authority given by Jesus himself to “bind and loose” as you stated.

In every Sacrament it is Jesus Christ himself in the person of the ordained or consecrated Bishop, Priest and or Deacon, who promises Peter to never leave him, and exercising along with Peter (Catholic Magisterium) “What you bind on earth, I will bind in heaven, what you loose on earth, I will loose in heaven”. This is what Peter and the Catholic church has been practicing since the resurrection of Jesus.

Baptism, Marriage and all the 7 sacraments are signs instituted by Jesus Christ himself to part Grace to the believers. There is a change that occurs and these cannot never be removed once received in Catholic church, the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ are irremovable indelible mark on the person or persons this includes the absolution of Mortal sins in the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) where the angels rejoice for every sinner who repents, because it is Jesus operating from above in the person of the Priest on earth, thus binding and loosing on earth as it is in heaven.

Protestants? non catholics coming to this biblical sacramental teaching understanding from Jesus and the apostles would see scripture and apostolic oral Tradition come to life in the Catholic church. For you cannot have one without the other, if one is missing the full deposit of faith is not complete.

Peace be with you

That’s a tough situation. I always had a soft spot for abolishonists.

My pastor didn’t give me any sort of pre-marital counselling which I which he would’ve. In any case, a priest isn’t the only one who can counsel. Parents can, other godly friends/family, mentors, etc.

All can give council, that’s for sure. But as Catholics, we believe that the Church authority should council.

Even the Bible alone can counsel you!

The bible needs authoritative interpretation.

That issue isn’t about cousel though, it’s about whether or not a marriage is valid outside of the Catholic Church. They say mine isn’t because my husband was a non-practicing Catholic that I brought to know the Lord and we were married first by the court, then to make it before God, we did it at my church,

The spirit of this statement seem to me to contradict your previous statement that it didn’t matter who marries a couple.

and now the RCs say it’s STILL not valid since it wasn’t in the RCC?!

If you and your husband are not Catholic, I don’t think the Catholic Church can validate or invalidate your marriage. And I don’t see why you should care.

Generally speaking, Catholics have a different understanding of marriage than our culture does. It is only right that the Church be sure couples fully understand what they are getting into with the whole Catholic marriage thing.

I also agree that there is a disconnect between maintaining fellowship with God and retaining our salvation but the overwhelming majority of Baptists see no disconnect at all. This is from the Baptist Faith and Message:

[quote]Quote:
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

If you doubt that they take this seriously, I would encourage you to visit a Baptist forum on the Internet.
[/quote]

I’ve been going to a Baptist Church for 11 yrs and this definitly sounds like our belief. It also sounds Scriptural, but again, doesn’t help this forgiveness issue. :confused:
I argued with one of my pastors (at a church I atteneded for 1 yr) before when he preached that we only need to ask forgiveness for the sin of not loving God. That inital confession, repentance, and forgivness is our crossing over and it’s then not necessary for an ongoing confession of every sin we commit. I had never heard it put it this way before but his defense was that because people are constantly sinning and are imperfect, we would never have peace if we were always worrying about what sin we might’ve committed and if we confessed it or what. Our repenting is in itself a confession and conversion even if not confessed formally. We should constantly be looking at our life and behaviors and trying to make them more like Jesus while not worrying about our salvation constantly. This is my impression of what he was saying at least. I get that.

I would first like to thank the Lutheran gentleman for his eloquent apologetics FOR confession to the Priest or Minister of the church and retention of the sacrement in an earlier post. Ironically, the only folks making the Protestant arguements are us catholics who go on to shoot them down in flames for you.
So let me give you the ones I’ve heard here on this website and the rebuttals:
Only God can forgive sins. While that argument can be found in scripture it’s stated by the Pharisees Jesus’ enemies. Scriptural rebutall is James 5:13-19
Peter and the apostles are dead and their bones are dust. Paul passed the power on to Timothy who then passed it on to his sucessor down on and on until it reaches my own parish priest. Peter then Ireanaeus and then Polycarp through the laying on of hands in the sacrement of ordination.
And lastly, How can a sinful man forgive others? Because he is acting in place of Jesus who does have that power and has passed it on to the minster of the church to act on hs behalf since he is no longer here in PHYSICAL human form since his ascention.
As far as you pastor’s belief that God forgives you only once and humans are constantly sinning so we’d never have a moment’s peace. Sounds like he has a major scruple problem and needs therapy obviously overdosed on Luther’s charming view of mankind that we are piles of (substance unmentionable in either English or german here) with snow on us which his buddy Melancthon replied what happens when the sun comes out and melts the snow? God is rich in mercy (cf Eph. 2:4) and willing to forgive us more than the 70 X7 that Peter was told to forgive his brother. and this is the purpose of the sacrement to which God and the church calls us.:cool: This even without going to Saint Faustina and the Divine Mercy which merely reinforces the whole business.

You misunderstood what I was saying about the Pastor. He was saying tha we DON"T have to go around w/out peace because we know we’ve crossed over to grace just by acknowledging and repenting of our sin of no loving God. The other details were my additions of what I understood him to mean. I think most Protestants have that Luther view of being poo covered in snow but we don’t need to worry about the snow melting, because the snow is Jesus and he lasts forever!:thumbsup:

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