About a week ago, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines was up in arms after a US-based software developer, Little iApp, released last February, Confession: A Roman Catholic App, touted as "the perfect aid for every penitent." The app received a declaration of nihil obstat ("nothing hinders" or "nothing stands in the way") and an imprimatur (mark of approval) —supposedly the first such official blessing given by the Catholic Church to an iPhone or iPad app. This application supposedly aids in confession preparation.
“No confessions can be made through mobile phones with video call capabilities and electronic mail because absolution is given by confessor to the penitent in person," according to Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news site.
And what's the take of the Vatican regarding this confession App? Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that, while such apps can be used as a guide, they can never be a substitute for real priests. He stressed that the sacrament of Penance (confession) "requires a personal dialogue between the penitent and the confessor, and absolution by the confessor who is present."
Wow! The priests are now protesting against something that they themselves have wrongly taken as their authority to do. No where in the Bible do we see God giving the authority to priests when it comes to the confessions of sins of people, much more, the authority to forgive sins. Instead, this is what the Bible tells us:
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16
This passage clearly tells us that for Christians, our High Priest is Jesus. It is to Him that we should come and not to human priests like what the Catholic doctrine tells us. And compare the kind of priest Jesus is to the Catholic priests. He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." The Catholic priests are as sinners as we are. And what does one receive from Jesus, our High Priest, when we come to him to confess our sins which we don't receive from a Catholic priest? Verse 16 tells us that we receive mercy and grace from Him. 1 John 1:9 further explains that if we confess to Him our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and He cleanses us from all our unrighteousness. He is "just to forgive us our sins" because He credits our sins to the payment He did on the cross. When we come to Catholic priests for confession, we receive penance, the works of satisfaction imposed or recommended by the priest on or to the penitent which we must agree to do so that they can give absolution (forgiveness of sins). This is some sort of punishment/sacrifice a person must go through to be fully forgiven. In a way, with Jesus, He pays the price for our sins, but with the priests, we pay the price for forgiveness.
I know this confession App just cost $1.99. A cheap price for forgiveness of sins. But this is a scam just as any other grow-rich-with-the-smallest-amount-of-money schemes out there. The Bible offers something incredible. A price for forgiveness that's more than the combined wealth of this world (the blood of Jesus) given free to anyone who is willing to repent of his sins and trust Jesus for his salvation.
Now that's what you call a great offer!
Watch this video clip of Ptr. James MacDonald explaining the difference between the social Gospel and the proclamation Gospel (the biblical Gospel). He explains that the social Gospel should not be taken and applied as the Gospel itself but should be treated as a manifestation of the result of the faithful preaching of the biblical Gospel.
First , the earthquake in New Zealand that started a series of not so devastating quakes in other countries. Then yesterday, half of the globe woke to unbelievable sites of a once beacon of strength Japan left asking for help after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that dwarfed the destruction of the one that happened in Indonesia not so long ago. And just this morning, while everyone's attention was on Japan, I saw in the news that China was also hit by an earthquake. One CNN analyst described what happened in Japan as "apocalyptic". Christians who know their Bible should describe what happened as "the hand of God".
Yes, the Bible clearly tells us that disasters like these will happen in the last days. God's Word will never fail. If the Scriptures say that this will happen, then God will move for such to definitely take place. This makes me more confident on my God. I'm not saying that the destruction and death seen in New Zealand , Japan & China brought me joy. No, definitely not. My heart weeps for the people that were affected. I pray for them whenever pictures of what happened there pop in my mind. The events there built more confidence in my heart towards the Creator of this world because the great God that made sure that these would happen after He had said it is the same great God that promised that for those who turn to Him in humble repentance and faith, a life absent of these disasters will someday be given them in Heaven. Oh what comfort!
And how I wish that the people of New Zealand, Japan & China who were either spared or had their lives taken away by what happened in their respective countries all have the right to claim the same promise. But it's sad to think that more and more people are ignoring God's call for repentance and choose to continue in the very sins that move God to give man a little taste of His wrath.
People may criticize that it's so politically incorrect for me to blame the whole of humanity for what has just happened when millions now are in pain. I willingly accept the criticisms if it means I get to declare what the Bible declares. The original world God gave us was nothing like the one we currently have. Imagine, if you were in Eden then, you can play with animals we categorize as "wild" in our time. That's how void that world was of any danger that we have now. But because man chose to follow sin rather than God, the great I AM cursed the world we live in. He is holy and that's why He demands that we also live holy. And because we chose to go our own way, we stand to face the other facet of His character, His justice.
The earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters, both natural and man-made we see around us, are not yet the full implementation of His justice. This is just a small tastes of His wrath. The worst is yet to come for everyone still living. Hell is God's wrath unleashed. And so, while you still have time, be sure to partake of the benefits of the other time God unleashed His fury on man's sinfulness...when He punished His sinless Son, Jesus, on the cross of Calvary so that a payment for sin could be made on our behalf. Yes. The cross was both the greatest show of God's wrath on man's sin and His greatest show of love for man. May we all plead for God's hand to move us to repent for our sins and trust Him before His hand moves to punish us for every transgression of His Law we have done.
Let us continue to pray for the people of New Zealand, Japan and China.
Dennis Aglosolos, the Director of Living Waters - Asia, will be answering questions.