(Pardon the length - my original post was more concise, but wasn't clearly conveying my question.)
I am currently studying the Spiritual Disciplines at a Protestant seminary. For those unfamiliar with this term, I will give a very brief explanation. Paul instructs Timothy to:
discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness... For it is for this we labor and strive - 1 Timothy 4:7-10
For example, one Spiritual Discipline which is generally recognized among Protestant theologians is fellowship (or regular church attendance).
let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some - Hebrews 10:24-25
Basically the idea is that there are certain disciplines which followers of Christ are called to practice regularly. Despite the overwhelming witness from "Church Fathers" regarding the extreme importance of such disciplines, many Protestant theologians have called this the single greatest weakness in modern Protestantism. (Complete rejection of the doctrine of Spiritual Disciplines is a very modern position.) For the record, this is not "works-based salvation"; it is not "earning God's acceptance"; it is not church-mandated religion; it is simply a mature personal response to God's call for followers of Christ to be serious and intentional in following Him in all the ways which He has called us to follow Him.
Please note: My question has nothing to do with whether we should practice Spiritual Disciplines, or what value they have.
Confession as a Spiritual Discipline
One commonly recognized Spiritual Discipline is confession. The following passage is used to draw attention to the importance of confession.
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
Although Scripture does not (to my knowledge) explicitly command us to make regular practice of this, the idea behind the Protestant doctrine of Spiritual Disciplines is that we practice right behavior intentionally and diligently, including things like confession.
Rejection of the Catholic implementation
My impression is that:
Luther took issue with how the Catholic Church viewed confession. (i.e. working your way into right standing with God, intermediary "Priests", etc.)
Luther did not take issue with confession as a practice (Discipline)
Luther rejected practices which he deemed heretical, while retaining others
Somewhere along the line, the practice of confession in Protestant churches took a completely different form than in Catholicism. (Perhaps when Luther's band split?)
Protestant theologians have long regarded confession as an important Spiritual Discipline
Modern Protestant believers are generally very undisciplined about confession
I began to wonder if there might be aspects to the Catholic implementation which Protestants should have retained (from a Protestant perspective, of course). For example, Catholic confession seems to be any time, any sin (and indeed every sin), private, anonymous, etc. As a Protestant, this sounds like a very good idea - if Protestant churches had such a "booth" available, I wonder if Protestants wouldn't be more disciplined in this practice.
I became very curious... Why didn't Protestants just replace the "Priest" with a Pastor, guard against thinking of it as "working your way up to God", and retain the rest of these potentially valuable elements? Furthermore, if a Catholic Priest was a believer, and didn't think of confession as "earning salvation", what would be wrong (from a Protestant perspective) with Catholic confession in that case?
What I am specifically looking for:
When did the Protestant church reject the Catholic method of practicing confession? (Again, not the views, but the elements I just mentioned.)
Why were these methods originally rejected?
Are there any reasons why the Catholic methods should still be rejected today (according to Protestant doctrine)?
- If not, would a Protestant find value in participating in Catholic confession today? (I am of course asking about the church's doctrinal position, not personal opinions.)
Are there modern Protestant groups which participate in confession at Catholic churches?