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Recently, I come to know that Lutheran Church practice Confession, though there is some difference in theology on it compared to the Roman Catholic Church.

As a man brought up in a place where Evangelicals, Presbyterians and Pentecostals are majority, I am very much surprised to know that Confession is still practiced in Lutheran church. I would never do this and I find this type of practice very awkward. I always thought that confession is practiced only by Catholics and Orthodox.

  1. Is the practice of Confession strange(bizarre) to other Protestants?
  2. If Lutheran is one of the first (or the first, I'm not sure) Protestant church, then why are other Protestant churches not practicing Confession?
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2 Answers 2

The Protestant Reformation is based on, among other things, "sola scriptura"--that the Bible alone is the basis for all doctrine and practice. There are probably two essential points in this matter.

The Priesthood of All Believers

First, a common doctrine of Protestants is the priesthood of all believers. It is believed that there is no biblical precedent in the New Covenant for a priestly class that is above the laity. Rather, the New Testament appears to affirm that all believers are priests.

You also, [God's elect, scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bythinia] as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 NASB

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 NASB

No Precedent for Hierarchical Confession

Secondly, there is no biblical precedent, so it is believed, for the practice of hierarchical confession--that the laity would be obliged to confess all their sins to a man of the clergy.

Perhaps the closest verse that supports confession to men is James 5:16:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16 NASB

However, this does not support the idea of hierarchical confession, but merely confession of sins to one another. It would seem appropriate, then, for a layman, after confessing his sins to a priest, to then switch places with the priest and have the priest confess his sins to the layman.

Even in the Old Testament, David confessed his sin to God in Psalm 32.

I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. Psalm 32:5 NASB

Conclusion

So, based on the conclusion that there is no biblical foundation for the priestly class of clergy, but rather an affirmation of the priesthood of all believers, and also based on the lack of biblical foundation for hierarchical confession, the vast majority of Protestant churches do not practice confession in the Catholic manner.

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“Protestants do not believe in confession.” The statement is correct only insofar as Protestants do not practice auricular confession (confessing ones’ sins to a priest in order to receive forgiveness). That statement along with others I have heard and read shows that there is a misunderstanding about the Protestant view of confession. That God calls us to confess our sin is clearly supported by Scripture. The Bible offers us clear teaching on this subject.

As a Baptist I cannot vouch for every other Protestant denomination, but I have found the following to be true of as many other Denominations as i have associated with.

The practice of auricular confession began in the book of Leviticus, when Moses established the Priesthood. At that time confession was tied to the sacrifice of animals.

Leviticus 16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

Protestants for the most part consider that Jesus became our High Priest, with his death on the cross:

Hebrews 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Protestants do practice confession, but in a different way than confessing to another human on the Earth.

As a precept to salvation we are required to confess to our High Priest (Jesus) that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

We are also taught that we must continually confess to God our sins, most people I know do this along with their prayers usually at the end of the day. Some of us however feel that we should confess our sins as soon as we become aware of having sinned.

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