Is the Catholic concept of absolution biblical?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
One common definition of absolution is "the formal remission of sin imparted by a priest, as in the sacrament of penance." The Roman Catholic Church centers its teaching on the need for absolution,...

July 01 2013 5 responses Vote Up Share Report

Dsc 0043 Tim Collinson Tim Collinson
Can Man Forgive Sins?
By Wayne Jackson

“Does any man have the right to forgive sins? Some suggest that Jesus granted this authority to the apostles, and then, through them, to others (see John 20:23). Can you explain this passage?”

Shortly before His ascension, Jesus said to his apostles: “whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:23). The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christ was actually granting to the apostles the authority to forgive sins, and that the apostles passed on to their successors (supposedly the Roman priesthood) the same license to pardon sin.

This position is false. Consider the following points.

No interpretation is to be placed upon a difficult and obscure passage (such as this one) that would place it in direct conflict with numerous other clear texts. The fact is, though all Christians are to forgive one another, i.e., have a forgiving disposition (Eph. 4:32), ultimately, only God can bestow absolute pardon (cf. Psa. 130:4; Isa. 43:25; Dan. 9:9; Mic. 7:18; Acts 8:22). The Lord did not grant that right to the apostles or anyone else.
There is a biblical idiom whereby one sometimes is said to actually do what he is merely authorized to declare. Note:

Pharaoh’s butler said regarding Joseph, “... me he [Joseph] restored unto mine office, and him [the baker] he hanged” (Gen. 41:13). Joseph did not actually restore the butler to his office, nor did he personally hang the baker. He merely announced, by prophetic insight, what the fate of these men would be.
Did God appoint Jeremiah to actually destroy and overthrow kingdoms (Jer. 1:10), or merely to declare their destiny? The answer should be obvious. See also Ezekiel 43:3.

The Greek tenses of John 20:23 make it clear that the apostles were authorized only to announce the terms of forgiveness, and that upon the basis of God’s previous appointment. Literally, the text suggests: “Those whose sins you forgive, have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive, have not already been forgiven.” The first verbs in the two clauses are aorist tense forms, while the second verbs are in the perfect tense. The perfect tense verbs imply an abiding state which commenced before the action of the aorists. In other words, the apostles (and others since that time) were only authorized to declare forgiveness consistent with what the Lord had already determined. In a comprehensive treatment of this passage, noted Greek scholar J.R. Mantey pointed out that the Greek “fathers” never quoted this passage in support of the concept of absolution (see Journal of Biblical Literature, 58, 1939, pp. 243-249). 

For further comment, see: Boyce Blackwelder, Light from the Greek New Testament, Anderson, In: Warner, 1958, pp. 80-81.

Finally, this conclusion is confirmed by the fact that the apostles, on the day of Pentecost, in harmony with the Spirit’s guidance, did not personally forgive the sins of anyone; rather, they merely announced the conditions of pardon to which men and women were amenable. To believers who sincerely inquired: “... what shall we do?”, Peter responded, "Repent ye, and be immersed every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins... " (Acts 2:37-38). Subsequently the reader is informed that: "They then that received his word were immersed... " (41). Hence, we conclude, upon the basis of this testimony, that by means of that word, they received the forgiveness of their sins.

John 20:23 does not sanction the modern Catholic clergy procedure of granting “absolution” from sin.

© Wayne Jackson Christian Courier
source: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/763-can-man-forgive-sins

March 31 2014 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini Todd Rushing
If you read the account of Jesus' crucifixion, death and resurrection, then you have no choice but to conclude the answer here is a resounding "no." At the moment of Christ's death, the temple veil was torn from top to bottom. It was at this moment that everything changed. No longer did man have to go to the High Priest and provide a sacrifice for his and his family's sins. The person was now able to go directly to God for forgiveness of sin (Matthew 27:51). This eliminated the need for a priest to grant absolution of sin. 

Many religions base tenant's on one verse. The Bible clearly teaches that "we are save through grace, not of works, lest any man should boast." The Catholic tradition of granting absolution through acts of penance prescribed by a priest clearly goes against this. Christ's message was expressed best by Hebrews 4:16, "Let us there for come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need."

April 24 2024 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Vincent Mercado Supporter Skeptic turned believer, Catholic, father of 3
Did Jesus made his disciples judges and invest in them power to pass judiciary sentence, granting or withholding divine pardon, as the Catholic Church teaches? YES.

Did Jesus make them His ambassadors to proclaim forgiveness through faith in His name, as Christians believe? YES.

Can a sinner receive forgiveness directly from God through faith, or must he avail himself of the Catholic priest's mediation? OBVIOUSLY, that is how Jesus established it to be.

The Bible is clear. In John 20:23 Jesus gave authority to his disciples, saying "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."

September 20 2013 17 responses Vote Up Share Report

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