Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Does Leviticus 19:20-22 Support Roman Catholic Confession To A Priest?

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic apologists sometimes appeal to Leviticus 19:20-22 in an effort to give credence to their dogma of confessing "mortal" sins to an ordained ministerial priest. The intention behind this is, obviously, to receive forgiveness from God for commiting such acts. This argument has been put into words by a Catholic source as follows:

          "Leviticus 19:20-22: A man who committed adultery had to bring a guilt offering for himself to the door of the tent of meeting (holy place where the ark of the covenant, which contained God’s true presence was kept). But then it adds “And the priest shall make atonement for him …before the Lord for his sin…and the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven.” (see also Leviticus 5:5-6) The priest could not make atonement if he were not aware of the man's sin. He is acting as a mediator for the repentant sinner."

           It should be noted that this text says nothing regarding auricular confession or priestly absolution. The context nowhere displays an awareness of the distinction made between "venial" and "mortal" sin that is upheld in Roman Catholic theology. Rather, sinners were simply to bring their guilt offerings (which were temporary coverings for sin) for the priest to make atonement. The priests managed the particulars of the Mosaic system. They supervised faithfulness to the Law. The priests presented gifts and animal sacrifices according to God's commandments.

          In offering up sacrifices for the sins of people, priests were to announce the means by which God chose for forgiveness. They were only doing as God had instructed them. This is similar to how Christians under the New Covenant clearly communicate the gospel and proclaim the way that God has chosen to offer forgiveness for our sins (1 Peter 2:5-9). The sacrificial system of the Old Covenant pointed to the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Besides, it is not as though Roman Catholics bring bloody animal sacrifices each time that they go to the confessional.

          There is no evidence in the Old Testament that the Jews were supposed to get their sins absolved by a priest or even confess their specific sins to them. Even if the latter happened, the point remains that Christ abrogated the Levitical priesthood. We now have direct access to God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:19-22). An ordained ministerial priesthood has been cancelled out by His everlasting High Priesthood. While the confession of sin is very much a biblical concept, there is no basis for receiving the forgiveness of God by confessing sins to a mortal man.


Doug Evans said...

My take on it is that if the RCC is using Leviticus to justify confession to a priest, shouldn't they be using Levite priests

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Yep, Jesus is our high priest and it is to God THROUGH Christ whom we confess our sins. There is no biblical basis for Catholic priests.