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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

62- Repentance and the Church


(3) Repentance and the Church

It is true that repentance is a work within the heart involving regret and a resolution to abandon the sin in addition to the actual abandoning of sin practically and from the heart. Yet repentance is completed inside the Church by confession and the absolution. The sinner is to confess his sins and the priest is to read the absolution and give the forgiveness, following the Lord's words: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John.20: 22,23). Image: A Coptic Orthodox Church (COC) by the River Nile, Egypt صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: كنيسة قبطية أرثوذكسية على ضفاف نهر النيل، مصر Image: A Coptic Orthodox Church (COC) by the River Nile, Egypt

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: كنيسة قبطية أرثوذكسية على ضفاف نهر النيل، مصر

This is also followed by the guidance that the penitent receives from his spiritual father in order to remain in his penitence.

As for our Protestant brethren, they present repentance as being completely independent from the Church. It is an individual act, with no relation with priesthood because they do not believe in priesthood but they believe in the direct relationship with God.

Regarding this point, our Protestant brethren are divided into two groups:

(a) A group which openly rejects confession and priesthood. This is the weaker group because it is so open that those who are steadfast in their belief will be aware of it. Also the notions of this group are clear and can be replied to.

(b) The second group does not speak against confession or priesthood or the Eucharist, but its followers try to make people forget these sacraments by not talking about them and by presenting alternatives, and we have discussed this issue before here on in other pages. For example, they say: “You are in need of repentance and in need to return to God. Go and cast yourself at God's feet; leave your sins to Him to erase by His blood and immediately you will come out justified as if you had not sinned before. He washes you and you will become whiter than snow.”

They do not speak about the importance of confession or the absolution or the Eucharist; they leave them out to make people forget about them. At the same time, they use spiritual words and thus deceive many naive people. This is an obscure way and it is our duty to reveal it to people.

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