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Author Topic: Confession and John 20:21-23  (Read 2532 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 17, 2010, 11:59:23 PM »

John 20
Quote
[21] He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. [22] When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. [23] Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

I was reading an article on Orthodox Confession:
Quote
Scholarly theology tended to transpose the concept of sin, repentance and forgiveness into a forensic idiom, and placed the emphasis on the power of the priest to absolve. In the Orthodox Church, the priest is seen as a witness of repentance, not a recipient of secrets, a detective of speci fic misdeeds. The "eye," the "ear" of the priest is dissolved in the sacramental mystery. He is not a dispenser, a power wielding, vindicating agent, an "authority." Such a conception exteriorizes the function of the confessor and of confession which is an act of re-integration of the penitent and priest alike into the Body of Christ. The declaration "I, an unworthy priest, by the power given unto me, absolve you" is unknown in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is of later Latin origin and was adopted in some Russian liturgical books at the time of the domination of Russian Orthodox theology by Latin thought and practice .[29] The idea served to bring confession into disrepute, turning it into a procedure of justification and exculpation in respect of particular pun ishable offenses. Forgiveness, absolution is the culmination of repentance, in response to sincerely felt compunction. It is not "administered" by the priest, or anybody else. It is a freely given grace of Christ and the Holy Spirit within the Church as the Body of Christ.

But then goes on to say:

Quote
Altogether, the function of the priest should not be ignored or minimized. "All who have experienced the blessing of having as their confessor one imbued with the grace of true spiritual fatherhood," writes Bishop Kallistos Ware, "will testify to the importance of the priest's role. Nor is his function simply to give advice. There is nothing automatic about the absolution which he pronounces. He can bind as well as loose. He can withhold absolution - although this is very rare - or he can impose a penance (epitimion), forbidding the penitent to receive Communion for a time or requiring the fulfilment of some task. This, again, is not very common in contemporary Orthodox practice, but it is important to remember that the priest possesses this right ... Not that the penitence should be regarded as punishment; still less should it be viewed as a way of expiating an offense ... We do not acquire 'merit' by fulfilling a penance, for in his relation to God man can never claim any merit of his own. Here, as always, we should think primarily in therapeutic rather than juridical terms."[31]
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8493


Tell you the truth, this appears contradictory. At first he says "the priest isn't doing anything, he's just a witness" and then contradicts to say "but seriously, the priest does absolve your sins".

?
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2010, 01:25:23 AM »

Both elements are present in the prayer of absolution used in Slav Churches:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins

(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative)

"and I an unworthy priest, through the authority given unto me by Him,
do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2010, 01:27:42 AM »

Both elements are present in the prayer of absolution used in Slav Churches:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins

(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative)

"and I an unworthy priest, through the authority given unto me by Him,
do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


I wish there was a ROCOR parish near me. That sounds much more theologically sound.
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2010, 01:56:01 AM »

The same elements are present in the Greek tradition, though not quite as directly and with more elaboration:

My spiritual child, who hast confessed to my humble self, I, humble and a sinner, have not power on earth to forgive sins, but God alone; yet through that divinely spoken word which came to the Apostles after the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, saying: Whosoeever sins ye remit, they are remitted, and whosoever sins we retain, they are retained, we too are emboldened to say: Whatsoever thou hast said to my most humble self, and whatsoever thou hast not succeeded in saying, either through ignorance or though forgetfulness, Whatever it may be: God forgive thee in this present world, and in that which is to come.

God it was who forgave David through Nathan the Prophet, when he confessed his sins, and Peter weeping bitterly for his denial, and the sinful woman in tears at his feet, and the Publican, and the Prodigal Son: May that same God forgive thee all things through me a sinner, both in this present world, and in that which is to come, and set thee uncondemned before his dread Judgment Seat.

And now having no further care for the sins which thou has declared, depart in peace.
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2010, 11:37:03 AM »

If someone came to you saying, "I have no faith in God but wish to know Him." What do you do?

The text book response is to live a life of good works, come to Church,  mimic what the faithful do, and slowly grow into the faith. This is not to say that works will save you but rather by living a life of works faith may be developed over time, God willing.

The mission of the Priest is not to absolve sin which only God does but rather to spread the Faith. He gives penance not as an act which in itself absolves sin but rather as a tool to grow in faith inorder to not sin anymore. Spiritual Fathers may order someone who has not sinned to do much more extreme "penance" not as punishment but inorder to grow in faith. In other words, performing good works is not the sign of a sinful person seeking absolution of their sins but rather the sign of a faithful person doing God's will.
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2010, 11:42:59 AM »

Both elements are present in the prayer of absolution used in Slav Churches:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins

(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative)

"and I an unworthy priest, through the authority given unto me by Him,
do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


I wish there was a ROCOR parish near me. That sounds much more theologically sound.
As Father says this is a prayer of absolution common to the Slavic tradition and not unique to ROCOR. This article may be of some assistance to you in your journey. http://www.acrod.org/readingroom/spirituallife/frequentcommunion
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2010, 11:57:29 AM »

If someone came to you saying, "I have no faith in God but wish to know Him." What do you do?

The text book response is to live a life of good works, come to Church,  mimic what the faithful do, and slowly grow into the faith. This is not to say that works will save you but rather by living a life of works faith may be developed over time, God willing.

Sorry, I don't understand the relevance.

The mission of the Priest is not to absolve sin which only God does but rather to spread the Faith.


Depends where you are going with this.

-Even Catholics don't believe the priest absolved the sin. It's the power of God through the priest by the authority from Jesus.

- the article in the OP makes both cases, hence the thread

He gives penance not as an act which in itself absolves sin but rather as a tool to grow in faith inorder to not sin anymore. Spiritual Fathers may order someone who has not sinned to do much more extreme "penance" not as punishment but inorder to grow in faith. In other words, performing good works is not the sign of a sinful person seeking absolution of their sins but rather the sign of a faithful person doing God's will.
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2010, 11:58:33 AM »

Both elements are present in the prayer of absolution used in Slav Churches:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins

(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative)

"and I an unworthy priest, through the authority given unto me by Him,
do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


I wish there was a ROCOR parish near me. That sounds much more theologically sound.
As Father says this is a prayer of absolution common to the Slavic tradition and not unique to ROCOR. This article may be of some assistance to you in your journey. http://www.acrod.org/readingroom/spirituallife/frequentcommunion

It is within some Russian service books only since the Latin influence of the 17th century. It is not seen in the Church liturgical books prior to that.
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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2010, 11:58:58 AM »

Both elements are present in the prayer of absolution used in Slav Churches:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins

(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative)

"and I an unworthy priest, through the authority given unto me by Him,
do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


I wish there was a ROCOR parish near me. That sounds much more theologically sound.
As Father says this is a prayer of absolution common to the Slavic tradition and not unique to ROCOR. This article may be of some assistance to you in your journey. http://www.acrod.org/readingroom/spirituallife/frequentcommunion

I was under the impression that the Russians outside of Russia were of the Slavic tradition. My mistake.
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2010, 12:07:55 PM »

The OP refers to a Latin innovation which made its way into some Russian service books in the 17th century but is not Orthodox Tradition. If your intent is to assert this Roman Catholic innovation to be Orthodox then it is in the wrong section and should be moved out of Faith issues. If you merely wish to understand the role of the Priest in Orthodox confession then let me make it clear that confession is meant to bring us closer to God and strengthen our Faith and not to punish.
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2010, 12:10:38 PM »

Both elements are present in the prayer of absolution used in Slav Churches:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins

(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative)

"and I an unworthy priest, through the authority given unto me by Him,
do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


I wish there was a ROCOR parish near me. That sounds much more theologically sound.
As Father says this is a prayer of absolution common to the Slavic tradition and not unique to ROCOR. This article may be of some assistance to you in your journey. http://www.acrod.org/readingroom/spirituallife/frequentcommunion

I was under the impression that the Russians outside of Russia were of the Slavic tradition. My mistake.

The article I cited addresses this:

"It is unfortunate that the Orthodox Church, so careful to preserve the faith of the Apostles, succumbed to infrequent Communion as the general practice of the Church, putting forward the issue of "unworthiness" as the reason.    

This was compounded in the 17th and 18th centuries by exposure, especially in the Slavic Orthodox Churches, to Western influences, principally in regards to the practice of Confession. Instead of the priest being a "witness" and minister of reconciliation in the Mystery of Confession, he now was seen as a judge with the "power" of absolution. A juridical absolution granted by a priest now became the necessary "ticket" to receive Holy Communion. (In fact, the prayer of absolution, "....I forgive and absolve you..." was introduced at this time from Latin sources
.)"

The current form, as cited by Fr. Ambrose corrects those 17th and 18th century changes.

(Again this points out how the perception of "True Practice' and "True Tradition" within Orthodoxy is certainly dependent, particularly among the laity, upon oral tradition, geography and local history.  When the Ruthenian Greek Catholics first returned to Orthodoxy under St. Alexis and later under +Bishop Orestes, the faithful took some time to accept and understand that many of the concepts cherished by their parents and grandparents for many generations were actually Latin innovations that were at odds with Orthodox practice. Hence, the restoration of proper practice did not occur overnight. The 'economia' practiced by wise hierarachs allowed for an evolutionary change over time. For some, it took more time than others, but the Church is patient in her understanding of time.)
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2010, 12:11:43 PM »

Both elements are present in the prayer of absolution used in Slav Churches:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins

(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative)

"and I an unworthy priest, through the authority given unto me by Him,
do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


I wish there was a ROCOR parish near me. That sounds much more theologically sound.
As Father says this is a prayer of absolution common to the Slavic tradition and not unique to ROCOR. This article may be of some assistance to you in your journey. http://www.acrod.org/readingroom/spirituallife/frequentcommunion

I was under the impression that the Russians outside of Russia were of the Slavic tradition. My mistake.

ROCOR is a Slavic tradition, but not all Slavic traditions are ROCOR.  In America the OCA, ROCOR, Serbian, Carpatho-Russian, and Ukranian (to name a few) jurisdictions would all be of Slavic tradition.
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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2010, 12:15:44 PM »

The OP refers to a Latin innovation which made its way into some Russian service books in the 17th century but is not Orthodox Tradition. If your intent is to assert this Roman Catholic innovation to be Orthodox then it is in the wrong section and should be moved out of Faith issues. If you merely wish to understand the role of the Priest in Orthodox confession then let me make it clear that confession is meant to bring us closer to God and strengthen our Faith and not to punish.

Please, stop reading into my posts. I'm debating to learn. Debate requires taking another position.
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« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2010, 12:17:06 PM »

Both elements are present in the prayer of absolution used in Slav Churches:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins

(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative)

"and I an unworthy priest, through the authority given unto me by Him,
do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


I wish there was a ROCOR parish near me. That sounds much more theologically sound.
As Father says this is a prayer of absolution common to the Slavic tradition and not unique to ROCOR. This article may be of some assistance to you in your journey. http://www.acrod.org/readingroom/spirituallife/frequentcommunion

I was under the impression that the Russians outside of Russia were of the Slavic tradition. My mistake.

The article I cited addresses this:

"It is unfortunate that the Orthodox Church, so careful to preserve the faith of the Apostles, succumbed to infrequent Communion as the general practice of the Church, putting forward the issue of "unworthiness" as the reason.    

This was compounded in the 17th and 18th centuries by exposure, especially in the Slavic Orthodox Churches, to Western influences, principally in regards to the practice of Confession. Instead of the priest being a "witness" and minister of reconciliation in the Mystery of Confession, he now was seen as a judge with the "power" of absolution. A juridical absolution granted by a priest now became the necessary "ticket" to receive Holy Communion. (In fact, the prayer of absolution, "....I forgive and absolve you..." was introduced at this time from Latin sources
.)"

The current form, as cited by Fr. Ambrose corrects those 17th and 18th century changes.

(Again this points out how the perception of "True Practice' and "True Tradition" within Orthodoxy is certainly dependent, particularly among the laity, upon oral tradition, geography and local history.  When the Ruthenian Greek Catholics first returned to Orthodoxy under St. Alexis and later under +Bishop Orestes, the faithful took some time to accept and understand that many of the concepts cherished by their parents and grandparents for many generations were actually Latin innovations that were at odds with Orthodox practice. Hence, the restoration of proper practice did not occur overnight. The 'economia' practiced by wise hierarachs allowed for an evolutionary change over time. For some, it took more time than others, but the Church is patient in her understanding of time.)

I don't see how it's been changed?
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« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2010, 12:29:57 PM »

I don't see how it's been changed?
You stated the change in your original post.

"The declaration "I, an unworthy priest, by the power given unto me, absolve you" is unknown in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is of later Latin origin...
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« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2010, 12:32:55 PM »

I still don't understand how John 20:21-23 fits in. It seems that depending on who answers, Orthodox either do or do not think that refers to confession.

Here is a quote from Tertullian from around 210 AD. He was from the West, however, 210 is far sooner than any Orthodox schism.

Quote
If, because the Lord has said to Peter, "Upon this rock will I build My Church,"278 "to thee have I given the keys of the heavenly kingdom; "279 or, "Whatsoever thou shall have bound or loosed in earth, shall be bound or loosed in the heavens,"280 you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has derived to you, that is, to every Church akin to Peter, [10] what sort of man are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, conferring (as that intention did) this (gift) personally upon Peter? "On thee," He says, "will I build My Church; "and," I will give to thee the keys," not to the Church; and, "Whatsoever thou shall have loosed or bound," not what they shall have loosed or bound. [11] For so withal the result teaches. In (Peter) himself the Church was reared; that is, through (Peter) himself; (Peter) himself essayed the key; you see what (key): "Men of Israel, let what I say sink into your ears: Jesus the Nazarene, a man destined by God for you," and so forth.281 [12] (Peter) himself, therefore, was the first to unbar, in Christ's baptism, the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, in which (kingdom) are "loosed" the sins that were beforetime "bound; "and those which have not been "loosed" are "bound," in accordance with true salvation; and Ananias he "bound" with the bond of death, and the weak in his feet he "absolved" from his defect of health. [13] Moreover, in that dispute about the observance or non-observance of the Law, Peter was the first of all to be endued with the Spirit, and, after making preface touching the calling of the nations, to say, "And now why are ye tempting the Lord, concerning the imposition upon the brethren of a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to support? But however, through the grace of Jesus we believe that we shall be saved in the same way as they."282 [14] This sentence both "loosed" those parts of the law which were abandoned, and "bound" those which were reserved. Hence the power of loosing and of binding committed to Peter had nothing to do with the capital sins of believers; [15] and if the Lord had given him a precept that he must grant pardon to a brother sinning against him even "seventy times sevenfold," of course He would have commanded him to "bind"----that is, to "retain"283 ----nothing subsequently, unless perchance such (sins) as one may have committed against the Lord, not against a brother. For the forgiveness of (sins) committed in the case of a man is a prejudgment against the remission of sins against God.

[16] What, now, (has this to do) with the Church, and) your (church), indeed, Psychic? For, in accordance with the person of Peter, it is to spiritual men that this power will correspondently appertain, either to an apostle or else to a prophet. For the very Church itself is, properly and principally, the Spirit Himself, in whom is the Trinity of the One Divinity----Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.284 (The Spirit) combines that Church which the Lord has made to consist in "three." [17] And thus, from that time forward,285 every number (of persons) who may have combined together into this faith is accounted "a Church," from the Author and Consecrator (of the Church). And accordingly "the Church," it is true, will forgive sins: but (it will be) the Church of the Spirit, by means of a spiritual man; not the Church which consists of a number of bishops. For the right and arbitrament is the Lord's, not the servant's; God's Himself, not the priest's.
http://www.tertullian.org/anf/anf04/anf04-19.htm#P1630_481652


By 210, Tertullian was a Montanist (similar to a Charismatic Pentacostal), and was mocking the undivided Church. In his mocking, he shows that the infant church, before the New Testement Bible was compiled, believed that the Church/priest, through confession, removed sins.

This also makes me wonder, if you don't accept John as meaning this, then what does it mean, and why?
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« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2010, 12:48:51 PM »

I still don't understand how John 20:21-23 fits in. It seems that depending on who answers, Orthodox either do or do not think that refers to confession.

Here is a quote from Tertullian from around 210 AD. He was from the West, however, 210 is far sooner than any Orthodox schism.

Quote
If, because the Lord has said to Peter, "Upon this rock will I build My Church,"278 "to thee have I given the keys of the heavenly kingdom; "279 or, "Whatsoever thou shall have bound or loosed in earth, shall be bound or loosed in the heavens,"280 you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has derived to you, that is, to every Church akin to Peter, [10] what sort of man are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, conferring (as that intention did) this (gift) personally upon Peter? "On thee," He says, "will I build My Church; "and," I will give to thee the keys," not to the Church; and, "Whatsoever thou shall have loosed or bound," not what they shall have loosed or bound. [11] For so withal the result teaches. In (Peter) himself the Church was reared; that is, through (Peter) himself; (Peter) himself essayed the key; you see what (key): "Men of Israel, let what I say sink into your ears: Jesus the Nazarene, a man destined by God for you," and so forth.281 [12] (Peter) himself, therefore, was the first to unbar, in Christ's baptism, the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, in which (kingdom) are "loosed" the sins that were beforetime "bound; "and those which have not been "loosed" are "bound," in accordance with true salvation; and Ananias he "bound" with the bond of death, and the weak in his feet he "absolved" from his defect of health. [13] Moreover, in that dispute about the observance or non-observance of the Law, Peter was the first of all to be endued with the Spirit, and, after making preface touching the calling of the nations, to say, "And now why are ye tempting the Lord, concerning the imposition upon the brethren of a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to support? But however, through the grace of Jesus we believe that we shall be saved in the same way as they."282 [14] This sentence both "loosed" those parts of the law which were abandoned, and "bound" those which were reserved. Hence the power of loosing and of binding committed to Peter had nothing to do with the capital sins of believers; [15] and if the Lord had given him a precept that he must grant pardon to a brother sinning against him even "seventy times sevenfold," of course He would have commanded him to "bind"----that is, to "retain"283 ----nothing subsequently, unless perchance such (sins) as one may have committed against the Lord, not against a brother. For the forgiveness of (sins) committed in the case of a man is a prejudgment against the remission of sins against God.

[16] What, now, (has this to do) with the Church, and) your (church), indeed, Psychic? For, in accordance with the person of Peter, it is to spiritual men that this power will correspondently appertain, either to an apostle or else to a prophet. For the very Church itself is, properly and principally, the Spirit Himself, in whom is the Trinity of the One Divinity----Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.284 (The Spirit) combines that Church which the Lord has made to consist in "three." [17] And thus, from that time forward,285 every number (of persons) who may have combined together into this faith is accounted "a Church," from the Author and Consecrator (of the Church). And accordingly "the Church," it is true, will forgive sins: but (it will be) the Church of the Spirit, by means of a spiritual man; not the Church which consists of a number of bishops. For the right and arbitrament is the Lord's, not the servant's; God's Himself, not the priest's.
http://www.tertullian.org/anf/anf04/anf04-19.htm#P1630_481652


By 210, Tertullian was a Montanist (similar to a Charismatic Pentacostal), and was mocking the undivided Church. In his mocking, he shows that the infant church, before the New Testement Bible was compiled, believed that the Church/priest, through confession, removed sins.

This also makes me wonder, if you don't accept John as meaning this, then what does it mean, and why?

Yes, you are correct in that Tertullian was at least a schismatic from the West if not an outright heretic. And yes you are correct in that the passage is not typically used by Orthodox to explain confession.

In regards to John 20:21-23, I personally read it as saying that Jesus died on the cross in forgiveness of sin and likewise he sends out the Apostles to die on the cross. This is indicated elsewhere in scripture also since if the Master had to suffer what makes you think his disciples will not suffer also.
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« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2010, 01:07:38 PM »

In regards to John 20:21-23, I personally read it as saying that Jesus died on the cross in forgiveness of sin and likewise he sends out the Apostles to die on the cross. This is indicated elsewhere in scripture also since if the Master had to suffer what makes you think his disciples will not suffer also.

What do you mean suffer?

I believe in penance. I also believe the Church was given the power to remove sins through confession.
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« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2010, 01:15:36 PM »

In regards to John 20:21-23, I personally read it as saying that Jesus died on the cross in forgiveness of sin and likewise he sends out the Apostles to die on the cross.
That's an interpretation of John 20:21-23 I've not heard before. Where did you learn it?
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« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2010, 01:29:33 PM »

In regards to John 20:21-23, I personally read it as saying that Jesus died on the cross in forgiveness of sin and likewise he sends out the Apostles to die on the cross. This is indicated elsewhere in scripture also since if the Master had to suffer what makes you think his disciples will not suffer also.

What do you mean suffer?

I believe in penance. I also believe the Church was given the power to remove sins through confession.
Penance is a Roman Catholic concept and not Orthodox. The Orthodox believe:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


The Bible uses words like hate, suffer, persecute. There meaning is plain.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
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« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2010, 01:40:18 PM »

In regards to John 20:21-23, I personally read it as saying that Jesus died on the cross in forgiveness of sin and likewise he sends out the Apostles to die on the cross.
That's an interpretation of John 20:21-23 I've not heard before. Where did you learn it?

From what I know of the life of the Apostles, I think it is plain to see that is exactly what they did. So by Tradition of the Church, we should do the same as the Apostles.

Did the Apostles demand penance for forgiveness of sins asking for money or labors from sinners? No.


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« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2010, 02:04:18 PM »

In regards to John 20:21-23, I personally read it as saying that Jesus died on the cross in forgiveness of sin and likewise he sends out the Apostles to die on the cross. This is indicated elsewhere in scripture also since if the Master had to suffer what makes you think his disciples will not suffer also.

What do you mean suffer?

I believe in penance. I also believe the Church was given the power to remove sins through confession.
Penance is a Roman Catholic concept and not Orthodox. The Orthodox believe:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


The Bible uses words like hate, suffer, persecute. There meaning is plain.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.


Quote
Penance is repentance of sins as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Anglican Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. It also plays a part in non-sacramental confession among Lutherans and other Protestants. The word penance derives from Old French and Latin poenitentia, both of which derive from the same root meaning repentance, the desire to be forgiven; (in English see contrition). Penance and repentance, similar in their derivation and original sense, have come to symbolize conflicting views of the essence of repentance, arising from the controversy as to the respective merits of "faith" and "good works." Word derivations occur in many languages
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penance

http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=54
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« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2010, 02:09:56 PM »

In regards to John 20:21-23, I personally read it as saying that Jesus died on the cross in forgiveness of sin and likewise he sends out the Apostles to die on the cross.
That's an interpretation of John 20:21-23 I've not heard before. Where did you learn it?

From what I know of the life of the Apostles, I think it is plain to see that is exactly what they did. So by Tradition of the Church, we should do the same as the Apostles.

Did the Apostles demand penance for forgiveness of sins asking for money or labors from sinners? No.




That's not what Penance is. See above.
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« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2010, 02:28:21 PM »

Quote
[edit]In the Greek Church
The Greek Orthodox Church has always believed that the Church has power to forgive sin. This is made clear by the formulæ of absolution in vogue among all branches within Eastern Orthodoxy; also from the decrees of synods which since the Reformation have again and again expressed this belief (Alzog on Cyril Lucaris III, 465; Synod of Constantinople, 1638; Synod of Jassy, 1642; Synod of Jerusalem, 1672). In the Synod of Jerusalem the Church reiterates its belief in Seven Sacraments, among them Penance, which the Lord established when He said: "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain they are retained." The formulæ of absolution are generally deprecatory, and if now and then the indicative form appears, it may be traced to Latin sources.
[edit]Russian Church
The belief of the Greek Church is naturally also that of the Russian. Russian theologians all hold that the Church possesses the power to forgive sins, where there is true repentance and sincere confession. The form in use at present is as follows: "My child, N. N., may our Lord and God Christ Jesus by the mercy of His love absolve thee from thy sins; and I, His unworthy priest, in virtue of the authority committed to me, absolve thee and declare thee absolved of thy sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolution

I don't like relying on third party sources, so as soon as I can find those councils and hopefully some other sources, I'll have my answer.
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« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2010, 02:48:53 PM »

I searched Penance on the orthodox wiki http://orthodoxwiki.org/Special:Search?search=penance
and got no page found. So it does not appear to be all that Orthodox.
 
My Spiritual Father says "reconcile and unite to the Holy Church". I am unfamiliar with penance being Orthodox but maybe in some other local custom it is. Other Orthodox terminology heard is epitemia and baptism of tears.

Do you want to be reconciled and united to the Holy Church after commiting a sin? Then come receive the sacrament of Confession.

By the way, this sacrament of Confession is given by a Spiritual Father and not necessarily by a Priest. It draws you closer to God and is not meant as punishment nor is it a fundraiser. The abusive practice of selling indulgences for the remission of sin is a heretic practice of the Roman Catholic church and not part of any Orthodox Tradition.
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« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2010, 02:55:18 PM »

If someone came to you saying, "I have no faith in God but wish to know Him." What do you do?

The text book response is to live a life of good works, come to Church,  mimic what the faithful do, and slowly grow into the faith. This is not to say that works will save you but rather by living a life of works faith may be developed over time, God willing.

Sorry, I don't understand the relevance.

The mission of the Priest is not to absolve sin which only God does but rather to spread the Faith.


Depends where you are going with this.

-Even Catholics don't believe the priest absolved the sin. It's the power of God through the priest by the authority from Jesus.

- the article in the OP makes both cases, hence the thread

He gives penance not as an act which in itself absolves sin but rather as a tool to grow in faith inorder to not sin anymore. Spiritual Fathers may order someone who has not sinned to do much more extreme "penance" not as punishment but inorder to grow in faith. In other words, performing good works is not the sign of a sinful person seeking absolution of their sins but rather the sign of a faithful person doing God's will.
The difference can be pointed out by pointed out that the Vatican holds that once a priest is ordained, "he is a priest forever." Hence the term defrocking, i.e. sort of like the French ceremony of tearing off the insignia of a court martialed officer dishonorably discharged, which holding that he can still validly perform sacraments but not licitly. The Orthodox term is correctly "laicized," because a deposed priest's sacraments would be held as void after the deposition.

In the Vatican practice, a priest can say mass all by himself.  According to Orthodox canonical practice, priest must have at least one other Orthodox with him: the Ethiopian Church by canon requires a deacon and a chanter and so many of the faithful (I forget the number).

Going back to the verse of the OP, yes it refers to confession, as it is in the prayer of absolution, already quoted, which leads to another distinction.  The Vatican holds that the priest is another Christ (Sacerdos alter Christus) who acts in persona Christi.  The Orthodox priest is the deputy of the Orthodox episcopate, which the Apostles addressed as fellow presybters (I Peter 5:1) after they had received, as "Holy Brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling," the priesthood of "Jesus Christ the Bishop of souls" (I Peter 2:25), "the Apostle and Chief Priest of our Confession, Who was faithful to Him Who appointed Him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house" (Heb. 3:1-2).

The sacramental formulas "I baptize you..." "I absolve you..." "I declare you [man and wife]..." versus "the servant of God...is baptized" "May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child...all your sins..." "The servant of God...is crowned to the handmaiden of God..." etc.  

So the priest does exercise Christ's priesthood. But since it is Christ's, not his, he can only do so as his conscience allows him to be faithful as a partaker of the heavenly calling. So I know Orthodox priests who refuse to baptize grandchildren unless they have explicit consent and commitment from the parents, and who will refuse absolution if it repentance is not brought: I recall one case where a woman wanted absolution from abandoning her husband (that she raised her voice ever higher arguing with the priest is how we knew.  A year later I saw her and the husband like honeymooners).  I know someone who could not receive communion at his daughters parochial Greek Orthodox school, untill he recently got a letter from our Antichian bishop absolving him over his divorce (the Antiochian parish priest, knowing the situation, had done so and given him communion already).  It is fully within an Orthodox priest's right and duty to refuse anyone communion if they do not know them and should doubt their preparation (I've never seen that happen, but every priest I know asks for some confirmation from a stranger if they are Orthodox, from where, and are they prepared).

I also know Orthodox priests who refuse to marry couples who they do not see committed to the requirements of Christian marriage. I am not sure about the ability for the Vatican's priests to do that, seeing as they think that the couple marry each other.

But to penance, it is not quid pro quo. The priest does not impose a penance to earn absolution. Rather absolution is like stabalizing a patient, and penance is the treatment plan to nurse the patient back to full health, and prevent relapse.  So as far as absolution, the priest's contributes nothing except administering in accord with the Church: given absolution without repentance is like a doctor writting prescriptions for a drug addict, and is much like giving communion to those unprepared and baptizing children of households devoid of Faith. As far as "penance," it is the pastoral responsibility given those about whom Hebrews (13:17) says "Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you."
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« Reply #26 on: November 18, 2010, 03:11:20 PM »

Tell you the truth, this appears contradictory. At first he says "the priest isn't doing anything, he's just a witness" and then contradicts to say "but seriously, the priest does absolve your sins".

I don't see it as contradictory.  In the prayer, the priest affirms the source of the absolution as God alone, and then continues by trusting "in the divinely spoken words," which is then a reference to John 20.  So, therefore, absolution isn't from the priest/bishop, or administered by the priest/bishop, but comes through him by God's grace and word alone, and the priest/bishop takes utmost care to not abuse that trust and responsibility.  The author (and Metropolitan KALLISTOS, in the quote) are doing their best to teach that, in my words, "Absolution and true Forgiveness come from God alone through His grace and love, Who has deigned that the clergy shall be ministers of this absolution, not as mere figureheads, but as His instruments in the world.  They are neither the source nor terminus of this grace, but rather exercise Christ's priesthood (since it is His priesthood and not theirs) by His directive and blessing, to both confirm His absolution, and provide useful tools and advice for the penitent to follow His command of, 'Go and sin no more.'"
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« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2010, 03:20:44 PM »

Tell you the truth, this appears contradictory. At first he says "the priest isn't doing anything, he's just a witness" and then contradicts to say "but seriously, the priest does absolve your sins".

I don't see it as contradictory.  In the prayer, the priest affirms the source of the absolution as God alone, and then continues by trusting "in the divinely spoken words," which is then a reference to John 20.  So, therefore, absolution isn't from the priest/bishop, or administered by the priest/bishop, but comes through him by God's grace and word alone, and the priest/bishop takes utmost care to not abuse that trust and responsibility.  The author (and Metropolitan KALLISTOS, in the quote) are doing their best to teach that, in my words, "Absolution and true Forgiveness come from God alone through His grace and love, Who has deigned that the clergy shall be ministers of this absolution, not as mere figureheads, but as His instruments in the world.  They are neither the source nor terminus of this grace, but rather exercise Christ's priesthood (since it is His priesthood and not theirs) by His directive and blessing, to both confirm His absolution, and provide useful tools and advice for the penitent to follow His command of, 'Go and sin no more.'"

Thank you Father, I understand this to be so, that there is no theological differentiation between the Greek and Slavic absolution. I remembered the quote, but I couldn't put my fingers on it.
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« Reply #28 on: November 18, 2010, 03:54:50 PM »

Thank you for being patient and taking the time to explain this to me. You've all satisfied my confusion and given me a new point of view to think over.
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« Reply #29 on: November 19, 2010, 04:42:51 AM »

It is within some Russian service books only since the Latin influence of the 17th century. It is not seen in the Church liturgical books prior to that.



Please note that the Slavonic form cannot be faulted -although much brouhaha is
written these days about the "Western Captivity."  The formula is NOT 17th century. 
It actually predates the Schism and is identical to that of the most holy and Orthodox
Church of Rome prior to the Schism when we were one.

People ask:  Do we have the "original formula" and from which Churches?

Certainly we do have the original pre-schism formula from at least one of
the holy Orthodox Patriarchates (the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome)
and that
is almost identical to the formula used today by the Russian, Bulgarian and
Serbian Churches:

"May the almighty and merciful Lord grant thee pardon, absolution and
remission of thy sins. May Our Lord Jesus Christ absolve thee (deprecative
up to this point; now it turns to the indicative formula
) and I by His
authority do absolve thee from thy sins in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Ghost."

Compare this pre-schism formula with the Slavonic usage:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins
(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative) and I an unworthy
priest, through the power given unto me by Him, do forgive and absolve thee
from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit."

I don't see how we can condemn our own usage without also condemning what
the Orthodox were doing before the schism?   The Patriarchate of Rome can be
documented as using both the deprecative and the indicative formula, either
separately or, as given above, in a combined form.
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« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2010, 09:19:08 AM »

It is within some Russian service books only since the Latin influence of the 17th century. It is not seen in the Church liturgical books prior to that.



Please note that the Slavonic form cannot be faulted -although much brouhaha is
written these days about the "Western Captivity."  The formula is NOT 17th century. 
It actually predates the Schism and is identical to that of the most holy and Orthodox
Church of Rome prior to the Schism when we were one.

People ask:  Do we have the "original formula" and from which Churches?

Certainly we do have the original pre-schism formula from at least one of
the holy Orthodox Patriarchates (the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome)
and that
is almost identical to the formula used today by the Russian, Bulgarian and
Serbian Churches:

"May the almighty and merciful Lord grant thee pardon, absolution and
remission of thy sins. May Our Lord Jesus Christ absolve thee (deprecative
up to this point; now it turns to the indicative formula
) and I by His
authority do absolve thee from thy sins in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Ghost."

Compare this pre-schism formula with the Slavonic usage:

"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins
(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative) and I an unworthy
priest, through the power given unto me by Him, do forgive and absolve thee
from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit."

I don't see how we can condemn our own usage without also condemning what
the Orthodox were doing before the schism?   The Patriarchate of Rome can be
documented as using both the deprecative and the indicative formula, either
separately or, as given above, in a combined form.

I agree.

This is why I hate people condemning anything Latin or Latinesqe. If Holy Orthodoxy is the True Church, Rome used to be a part of her. Things will look and sound the same for a reason other than "heretical" leaks. If Rome is in heresy, that doesn't mean everything is a heresy.
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« Reply #31 on: November 19, 2010, 10:02:39 AM »

Father Ambrose,

it is my understanding that reconciliation is done through the Church, with the priest/bishop being a representative of the Church with the power given to bind and loose in the greater name of the Church.

In the current latin rite, the priest's words of absoluteion include the phrase,

"...through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Does that understanding of the Church carry through in the rite used by the Orthodox?

Thank you.
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« Reply #32 on: November 19, 2010, 10:13:25 AM »

Father Ambrose,

it is my understanding that reconciliation is done through the Church, with the priest/bishop being a representative of the Church with the power given to bind and loose in the greater name of the Church.

In the current latin rite, the priest's words of absoluteion include the phrase,

"...through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Does that understanding of the Church carry through in the rite used by the Orthodox?

Thank you.


I am sure that such an understanding would not be antithetical to Orthodoxy, although it is rather diffuse.  We have to notice that in the Prayer of Absolution the priest states very specifically to the penitent that his authority to forgive sins is Christ's authority which is given to the priest by Christ.

I defer to wiser heads than mine.  Maybe some of the younger priests could make a contribution.
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« Reply #33 on: November 19, 2010, 10:24:22 AM »

Father,

If I understand correctly, in the first centuries of the Church, reconciliation took on a much more communal feel to it, with the order of penitents and public confession. After the time of penance was completed the Bishop would celebrate the liturgy when the penitents were returned to the communion of the Church.

There was no private confession as we know it and so no provate absolution. However absolution in those early days was more liturgical and public with the Bishop presiding with the presence of the entire Church community that received them back into communion. It was more corporate in that sense.

Any comment?

Thank you.
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« Reply #34 on: November 19, 2010, 10:32:10 AM »


it is my understanding that reconciliation is done through the Church, with the priest/bishop being a representative of the Church with the power given to bind and loose in the greater name of the Church.

Does that understanding of the Church carry through in the rite used by the Orthodox?


Perhaps we would run into difficulties here because of the Orthodox understanding that the bishop and the community with him ARE the Church, complete and entire, just as is his brother bishop 100 miles down the road.  There really is nothing like a higher entity which can act "in the greater name of the Church."  There is nothing greater than the local diocese in this context.

As you can see, I have not encountered your suggestion before and am really thinking aloud about it.
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« Reply #35 on: November 19, 2010, 10:37:26 AM »

the Orthodox understanding that the bishop and the community with him ARE the Church
Maybe I am not describing it quite correctly, then.

Maybe, my question should be, what is the relationship between the Bishop and the Church in forgiving sin? Is the the authority to forgive in Christ's name from the Bishop or from the Church, or is that really not even a valid distinction?
Trying to understand better.

thank you.
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« Reply #36 on: November 19, 2010, 08:40:25 PM »

the Orthodox understanding that the bishop and the community with him ARE the Church
Maybe I am not describing it quite correctly, then.

Maybe, my question should be, what is the relationship between the Bishop and the Church in forgiving sin? Is the the authority to forgive in Christ's name from the Bishop or from the Church, or is that really not even a valid distinction?
Trying to understand better.



I know that the authority to forgive sin is given to me by Christ.  In fact I say this to every penitent:  "I, an unworthy priest, through the power/authority  given to me by Him (vlastiyu ego mne dannoyu) do forgive and absolve thee..."

That is a concrete fact.

Beyond that we are getting into theoretical questions which I do not recall ever studying.
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