Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The Catholic Church holds to the doctrine of Penance. As I understand it, this refers to various deeds prescribed by a priest to the confessing person that must do to make amends for his own sin, since mere confession is presumably insufficient.

Wikipedia says this about the doctrine of Sacramental Penance:

In a sacramental understanding of the term, "penance" applies to the whole activity from confession to absolution. Generally speaking, however, it is used to characterize the works of satisfaction imposed or recommended by the priest on or to the penitent. Traditionally, penance has been viewed as a punishment (the Latin poena, the root of pen(it)ence, means "punishment"), and varying with the character and heinousness of the offences committed...

Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must 'make satisfaction for' or 'expiate' his sins."

Protestants generally reject this doctrine. So, what is the specific biblical argument they use to oppose the doctrine of Penance?

share|improve this question
    
Highly Related: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/7624/… –  Affable Geek Jan 29 '13 at 16:29
1  
I'd be more concerned with a biblical argument in favor of it from Catholics, first. –  Sparr Jan 29 '13 at 17:51
    
    
@svidgen that question seems more related to the confession, and tangentially the forgiveness, but there is little if anything there about penitence. –  Sparr Jan 29 '13 at 18:52
1  
@Sparr Will all due respect, you're not well aware of the Catholic stance, or you'd know the answer (to your question, that is). –  svidgen Jan 29 '13 at 19:10

2 Answers 2

The basis for the necessary rejection of Catholic penance in the reformation was threefold. a) We need no human priest as we are priests ourselves. b) we have access to Christ our high priest without any other mediator, and c) we never, under any condition, need to do a 'work' to obtain forgiveness - ever.

Forgiveness can only be obtained by faith in Christ. Confession of particular sins by believers is not to obtain justification or general forgiveness but particular application of our previous justification in cleansing - this is called forgiveness in brining us back into better fellowship with God. That is, as we have already been declared righteous by faith, God has sworn to give himself no other choice, according to the justice of his faithfulness, except to forgive is. If God has in a sense no choice (from his own gracious decree) how monstrous is it to imagine that we should approach a man, rather than our own high priest, to declare our forgiveness? Our forgiveness is not optional, rather it is our reasonable expectation to receive of God by faith, apart from any good work. To add to this monstrosity that we should receive an evil insinuation as though we also had to 'work' for forgiveness is a blasphemy against the high priesthood of Christ.

What does the scripture say:

Christ is our high priest who we are to approach, not St. Somebody, Mary, or any earthly priest:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16, ESV)

We are all priests:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9, ESV)

We obtain full and general forgiveness in our justification without respect to any good work:

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (Romans 3:28, ESV)

As a result of full pardon we can be cleansed in particulars that bother our conscience (without any requirement of a work, of course) by simply directly confessing our sin to our only high priest, Jesus;

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:9, ESV)


Under these consideration most Protestants fully reject the need for penance as a sinful thing contrary to faith in God. Actually, anyone who has performed any kind of penance under the guidance of a Priest would technically have fairly good reason to confess that sin to Christ. One must always go straight to the high priest and not ignore him by devious means and such a show of godliness that denies the power thereof.

share|improve this answer

Eph. 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. 9Not by works, lest any man should boast."

share|improve this answer
5  
Needs more detail. The cited passage is just as easily interpretable to a Catholic as an argument for Church's authority to forgive sins (and institute a standard practice for doing so). That is, how and why, according to what denomination(s) or generally accepted Christian belief, does the above passage refute sacramental confession? –  svidgen Jan 29 '13 at 18:29
1  
Welcome to Christianity.SE! Just as a note of encouragement, I think you are on to a good point, but as others have suggested, you really need to do some exegesis to go with your proof text. –  Affable Geek Jan 29 '13 at 21:01

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.