Some time ago I wrote a blog post called “Does the Roman Catholic church have the power to forgive sins?”
The post was quite for some time until the user “Godsadopteddaughter” posted a comment to it. She seems to run a blog of her own. And I thought I would take the time to blog about this comment she left. Not really as a reply, but more for showing people what I deal with from time to time when people disagree with me.
Now please do not take that the wrong way, I have no problem with Godsadopteddaughter and she did not attack me like many young earth creationist do for simply having a descending biblical opinion. She was actually quite civil with me. I am only using this as an opportunity to disuse a some what of a typical responses that are similar to what I do get. Well not always on my blog, but from my life out side the Internet and what I normally would get on YouTube.
First some back story of my post. Some time ago I wrote a blog posting about how Catholics believe that the church itself has the power to for give sin. I disagreed with the catholic view on forgiving sin and expressed my disagreement with it, as well as backed up my disagreement with the Catholics using scripture that makes clear that forgiveness of sin come form God, and God alone.
“Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” Mark 2:7
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
So I think the bible is incredibly clear on this, and I think I said it best in my previous post when I said: “The view that Catholic’s have about the church having “the the power to forgive the sins” is the opposite of what scriptures is clearly telling us.” And I still stand by this.
Now I will be braking down what Godsadopteddaughter says and I will be responding to it. I will be attempting to keep what she says in context so as not to confuse or mislead the reader.
Godsadopteddaughter starts with:
I respectfully disagree. Jesus gave the Apostles, the first priests the power forgive sins. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. ..and that is from the King James Version as well Yes, of course, I’m Catholic!
The first thing I notice is that Godsadopteddaughter does not give any scripture to back up what she says when she says that priest has the power to forgive sin. And it is not up to me to refute a just the claim. As it is up to her to show that her claims are backed up by scripture. And I suspect she cannot show any scripture that says that a priest in a confessional booth can forgives someone of their sins. Do not get me wrong I am aware of many different passages Catholics use to defend this, but though further study I have found that it does do not support the catholic view. But without Godsadopteddaughter providing scripture I can only speculate what she may think supports her and the Catholics view of forgiving sin form the many passed conversations I have had. So do to the lack of her providing supporting scripture I must reject her claim.
Also, she quotes from Matthew 18:18. And I am not sure what she is getting at here, but when one reads this passage it is important to read it in context. So I will put it in context here, starting with Matthew 18:15
Also she quotes from Matthew 18:18. And I am not sure what she is getting at here, but when one reads this passage it is important to read it in context. So I will put it in context here, starting with Matthew 18:15
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
So this does not support her view in anyway. How she thinks this I do not know, Perhaps I am reading into this incorrectly and it was not meant to support her view. But if so I do not see how it would, because when we keep this in context we can see that Matthew 18:18 is part of a bigger lesson that is going on here, A lesson about how to deal with a brother (Or at lest a person claiming to be), a brother who is not listening to anyone and how we are to let him go. Or as Paul puts it “put away from among yourselves that wicked person” Reading 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 will help a person have a far grater understanding of this. And even out of context with just Matthew 18:18 I cannot see how this supports her position.
The Bible says that even though we sin against God. We can and often are at fault with others but JESUS shows that while we sin against him, we have fault against others; Matthew 6:12-14; Mark 11:26; Luke 6:37 so we still forgive one another for are faults. But only God can forgive a person sins: Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:7,10; Luke 5:21,24, 1 John 1:9. 2 Chronicles 7:14 and more.
Now Godsadopteddaughter goes on to say:
There is something very humbling about going to Confession and it isn’t just about the fact that a priest is going to hear and “forgive” your sins, it is the very act of preparing for Confession that most non-Catholics don’t ever bother to go through.
Here Godsadopteddaughter says that it is humbling to go to Confession And that is her opinion not an argument. Just as it is my opinion that I do not find that Catholic version of confession to be humbling at all. What I do find humbling is confessing to the individual(s) or the company where I sinned. For example if I stole something I would go to the person I stole from and confess to them and accept responsibility for my actions even if it means I will spend time in jail for what I have done. And it will be God who forgives me for the actual sin. Not some priest. Although I do hope that the person I have faulted sees in his heart to forgive me as well. That to me is humbling.
And if I cannot find that person, who I faulted then I will pray to find them so that I can confess to them and ask God to for give me (Which I would do anyways). And if I still cant find them, I will confess to as many people as I can family, friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ and to authority figures if I have broke the law when I sinned.
The only reason why I would go to a priest once a year or whenever, would perhaps be to avoid the actual harsh consequences for my actions and to here someone tell me what I want to here (I’m forgive) in the hopes of clearing my conscious, so that I felt good about my self. And I suspect Godsadopteddaughter is aware of this, as that is why she says that “it isn’t just about the fact that a priest is going to hear and “forgive” your sins” notice the word “Just” meaning that its does play a part as to why people feel the need to confess to a priest. There seems to be a need to here a someone human tell them they are forgiven.
However, It is note worthy that priest do not always “forgive sins” and and do asked the person to turn them self in such as the case of Jurgen Bartsch. I just do not want people to think I am putting all priest in the same box here.But really this is just all off topic here, as the topic is can priest/the church forgive sins? Not what goes on before, during and after. And I think I am now guilty of excepting the bate for a red herring fallacy.
Now Godsadopteddaughter also goes on to say, “act of preparing for Confession that most non-Catholics don’t ever bother to go through. We call it the Examination of Conscience” This makes me wonder what she is basing this off of? Is their a study that shows her claim about non-Catholics to be true. Is see just assuming? Or is she attempting to attack non-Catholics with a Ad hominem attack here?
Now Godsadopteddaughter continues on and says:
We go through each of the Ten Commandments with a fine tooth comb and examine our lives for even the tiniest of sins before we step into that confessional. And the best part of it, and something else that non-Catholics don’t know is that there is an Act of Contrition in the confession where you you confess directly to God as well as to the priest. So, if confessing only to the priest gives you the willies, don’t worry, you are saying sorry to God as well!
As I continue reading I still notice that there is no actual arguments being made for the catholic position of the forgiveness of sin by man. Instead we get her talking about how Catholics go though their life with a “fine tooth comb.” and then she makes a claim about how “non-Catholics do not know is that there is an Act of Contrition.” Again, what is she basing this off of? I man heck, I am well aware of a lot of what Catholics believe (Which is why I am not a catholic). And I am again, unaware of any study that supports yet another claim she has made about non-Catholics.
Frankly this is a strawman of my original argument in that post. My argument is that the church/priest are not the ones who forgive sin, but it is God. Not that Catholics believe this or that or that they are confessing “directly to God as well.”
Strawman arguments or some other form of off topic/distracting argument are something I come across a lot. And I find it very frustrating because I spend a lot of time and effort in a discussion correcting a persons Strawman. Sometimes people are unaware due to their ignorance or their own personnel/religious biased, but also I encounter people who go out of their way to make a strawman argument. In Godsadopteddaughter case however, I do not suspect she is aware of the strawman she made.
Godsadopteddaughter finish her first comment to my post by saying:
Catholics are also free to pray to God for forgiveness any time they would like and are only “required” to go to Confession once a year. Confession is only required for Mortal Sins. We aren’t “scared” into going into going to Confession. We are afraid of the fires of Hell, just as any other person should be! I would suggest you do a little bit more research. God Bless you!
Again as we read, no argument was made for the Catholics position here just a bunch of thing about what Catholics do/believe. But she does point out some things again that are I feel are note worthy. Starting with; “We aren’t “scared” into going into going to Confession.” Which is another strawman of my actual argument. I never said that anyone was scared about going to confession. But what I did say was, that I suspect that this tactic of forgiving sins can (and has been) be used to “scare people into their arms. Or offering people a gift they cannot give.” Not that anyone was afraid about going to confession.
Here second to last sentience is a bit amusing where she says, “I would suggest you do a little bit more research.” Because this seems to be a case of physiological projection on her part. As she has made untrue assumptions about my knowledge about Catholics (and perhaps a large portion of non-Catholics), and used a Strawman.
Now Godsadopteddaughter did make a second post, but its more of the something, and I do not feel it is necessary to go though a second post making this blog even longer. As this post should be enough to get my point across.
Now with all that said I would like to say unlike many people I do have discussions and even debates with, Godsadopteddaughter I do not think was actively making arguments off topic. I suspect what happen is that she read my post, got emotional because my post hits hard with one of many things Catholics believe, and she just read into it wrong. An emotional reaction if you will. We are all guilty of this kind of thing time to time.
However, My original argument remains, And that it is God who forgives sin not man who does. As well as the treat from the idea that results from man having the power to say who is forgiven and who is not. History it self shows this, even in recently history we can see this happening with the resent scandal that plagues the catholic church still to this vary day… The child molestation/rape cases where the church knew about and hid what was going on. Priest forgiven and moved by senior clergy Many of whom died never to see the inside of a goverment or state court room, well now some have now that people had to force the church to do the right thing. (I think Newsweek said it best when they said: “Why is the church allowed to be judge in its own case and enabled in affect to run private courts where gross and evil offenders end up being “forgiven?”.
So we can see the abuse of this power the church falsely believes it has when church can forgive their own while allowing them to avoid legal responsibility/consequences and the humiliation for what they have done. Heck women who have had abortions can end up excommunication preventing them from receiving “any of the Sacraments, that including the Sacrament of Confession.” Good part is at lest there is an exception with in the catholic church on this, but I wonder how many succeed in getting this exception in time. And this may be one of many reasons why only god forgives the actual sin and does not give that power to man.