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Life confession before baptism

lovesupreme

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Some of my Roman Catholic friends were scandalized when I told them that it is customary to hear a "life confession" of an adult prior to receiving them by baptism.

They pointed out that baptism washes the participant of all sins, and that an adult would not need to confess any sins prior to being received into the Church.

I tried looking for the reason why this is a practice (at least with the Antiochians), but couldn't find anything. And I'm admittedly a little stumped.

I seem to recall that my life confession was "conditional," in that it was not completed until my baptism and chrismation (i.e. my reception into the Church). However, what does that actually mean? To my Roman Catholic friends, it seemed like the priest was requiring one to confess in order to be received into the Church. It also seemed that the priest was setting a dangerous precedent by giving sacraments to someone who is not in the Church, even if conditional.

My immediate response is that the primary purpose of the "life confession" is for spiritual preparation. The baptism in fact does cleanse one of all sins, but a "conditional confession" beforehand is meant to expose the darkness of one's past life and assert one's desire to be a practicing Orthodox Christian. Are there more precise explanations?

It was odd to me that, in Catholicism, if one is received by baptism, they are not expected to talk about any of their past sins. When I brought this up, I received the mocking reply, "What, you don't think God's grace is sufficient for forgiveness?" I mean, just from a practical standpoint, if you were to enter the Church having spent most of your adult years in serious sin and never tell your priest about that, wouldn't that be a serious impediment to spiritual growth?

I'm worried about this because I know of someone who is pursuing Orthodoxy but is now hesitant because of the prospect of a life confession. This person obviously needs to talk to their priest and find out what's going on and why, but it still seems to have become a stumbling block for them.
 

PeterTheAleut

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This issue was recently discussed on OC.net. You'll find the discussion here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,68864.0.html
 

lovesupreme

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Oh, thanks. I wasn't able to search last night because the forums were down and forgot to check again.
 

rft183

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lovesupreme said:
...
They pointed out that baptism washes the participant of all sins, and that an adult would not need to confess any sins prior to being received into the Church.
...
My immediate response is that the primary purpose of the "life confession" is for spiritual preparation. The baptism in fact does cleanse one of all sins, but a "conditional confession" beforehand is meant to expose the darkness of one's past life and assert one's desire to be a practicing Orthodox Christian. Are there more precise explanations?

It was odd to me that, in Catholicism, if one is received by baptism, they are not expected to talk about any of their past sins. When I brought this up, I received the mocking reply, "What, you don't think God's grace is sufficient for forgiveness?" I mean, just from a practical standpoint, if you were to enter the Church having spent most of your adult years in serious sin and never tell your priest about that, wouldn't that be a serious impediment to spiritual growth?
I know the other thread exists, but I wanted to respond to your viewpoint vs the Catholic viewpoint.  I think that you, as an Orthodox Christian, have the right view.  Remember, the Church is a hospital for sinners.  It is trying to make us whole.  I spent a few years in the Catholic Church, and it seemed that their view is a little (lot) different.  You must follow the RULES!  However, during the time that I was a Catholic, I noticed that I focused more on the RULES than I did on loving God.  And I think a lot of Catholics end up that way.  They follow the rules, which ends up with them meeting the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.  I think that is why so many of them feel like they can leave as soon as they take communion.  Kind of like, "I met the requirements, now I can go!"

I think that the life confession before baptism in the Orthodox Church falls into this area.  It is not required according to the rules... but it is a good thing to do for the spiritual health of the individual.  And since the Church is attempting to make us whole, to tame our passions, to bring us closer to God, perhaps it is better to have the life confession, even though it is not required by the rules.
 

scamandrius

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Tell your RC friends that it may not be a "requirement" but that it is a good practice.  How can confession ever be a bad or even unnecessary thing.  I would think that RCs, being the legalists that they are, would actually jump on board with this.
 

rft183

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scamandrius said:
Tell your RC friends that it may not be a "requirement" but that it is a good practice.  How can confession ever be a bad or even unnecessary thing.  I would think that RCs, being the legalists that they are, would actually jump on board with this.
Perhaps it's because they want to do as little as possible to meet the requirements of the law.  :eek:
 
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