Some questions seem easy… but maybe not.

This post began as a seemingly nonsensical thought as I was enjoying the sun while my wife and sister-in-law went shopping in a high class mall.  Somewhere in my mind developed the thought of placing a confessional booth in place of a kiosk.  I live in a heavily populated Catholic community. Confessional booths would be a natural thing and I like to refer to myself as a priest, so the two just naturally fit.  Or so it seemed.

What happened next was my considering what really happens in a confessional booth and would the visitor get their money’s worth?  I know what happens in a traditional relationship between Catholic priest and visitor.
In that setting, the visitor may or may not get what they are paying for.  If I were the priest, I would want my visitors to get all they paid for.  So the question is what would I be marketing and would it be enough for the confessor?
I am in the habit of praying for people.  I even pray that God will forgive them of this and that.  I am now questioning how effective my requests might be?  Does forgiveness by God for other people happen sometimes and yet not others?  I don’t know.
And then there is the BIGGEST question of all.  If I can pray for the forgiveness of sins for a person, why can’t I pray and have him/her receive salvation?  That happens in the traditional confessional, right?  What is wrong with that line of thinking?
This is really important before I go and franchise my new line of confessional kiosks…

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It is the desire of my heart that God be Lord of my life. Life’s experiences have killed the old man and God is building a new creation in me. I look forward to experiencing the new man God creates in the old vessel known as Archie via "God Spots".

7 thoughts on “Some questions seem easy… but maybe not.”

  1. Jennifer Rutledge Freedom of choice..
    about an hour ago ·

    Archie Rhines I’m thinking. Father, forgive them. They know not what they do… what impact does the forgiveness have on the individual?
    about an hour ago ·

    Jennifer Rutledge They still have an obligation to choose better choices & ultimately choose Jesus dont they?
    about an hour ago ·

    Archie Rhines I’m sure you are right Jennifer. It’s funny. The thought all started with the crazy notion of putting a confessional booth in the middle of La Cantera mall. I still think it might be an interesting thing to do….. But it began me thinking about confessional booths and if they had any value?
    about an hour ago ·

    Eddie Vasquez you can pray for forgiveness for sure. but it is God who grants it. paul says that he wishes that himself where accursed that some of his jewish brothers might be saved. romans 9:3. however that whole chapter outlines the God of the bible who grants that forgiveness and grace by Him alone and not by our works.
    about an hour ago ·

    Bruce Stacey Donaldson * John 20:23 NAS

    “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
    about an hour ago ·

    Archie Rhines So Bruce. What are you sayin?
    about an hour ago ·

    Archie Rhines So Eddie. Am being serious and not trying to trap or bait into a debate. With forgiveness being up to God, we can pray for forgiveness for another but maybe the individual will receive. Maybe not?
    about an hour ago ·

    Sarah Hoover Martin That’s not a simple question!! LOL!
    about an hour ago ·

    Bruce Stacey Donaldson I’m thinking that there’s something very powerful about us forgiving others as ambassadors of Christ. I’m not sure that the context makes clear that we are forgiving them for stuff done to us by them, or just in general. We are encouraged to confess our sins to one another and pray for each other’s forgiveness…

    Salvation is a whole other issue. I’m more “reformed” in that area…I believe we are born again before we are “saved.” God touches our hearts and makes us alive to His Spirit. Only then, can we see and decide to enter the Kingdom–if there is actually a choice–not so sure about the whole “irresistable grace” thingy. No one else can submit my heart to God but me.
    about an hour ago ·

    Eddie Vasquez oh def. i dont argue. at very least i debate from scripture. the verse bruce quoted does not imply from Jesus that christians have a say in who God forgives, rather we affirm that if they repent, and turn from sin, and bear fruits of the Spirit which come by faith and FAITH ALONE, then and only then can we say they are forgiven.

    archie we pray for forgiveness daily for ourselves, God grants us forgiveness because of His great mercy, but it comes through that repentance. when we repent God forgives. when anyone repents God forgives. we can pray satan would recieve forgiveness, but no where does the scripture say satan will be in heaven. why? cause satan will not repent.

    it would be absurd, contradictory to the gospel and heresy to say that simply cause we pray forgiveness for someone that they are forgiven. why? because if we pray it, and they DONT, they have no repentance. no brokeness over sin. no shame of how we have trampled the Fathers name countless times.
    about an hour ago ·

    Bruce Stacey Donaldson Here’s the immediate context:
    * 21.
    * So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
    * 22.
    * And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
    * 23.
    * “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

    If we have the Holy Spirit in us does this include us? Or was Jesus just speaking to his disciples?
    59 minutes ago ·

    Eddie Vasquez we do indeed have the Holy Spirit in us however luke says Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, so if they come to us, we turn them to Jesus who forgives sins. i think the immediate context here is talking about the disciples Jesus is talking to.
    54 minutes ago ·

    Eddie Vasquez that verse doesnt really talk about when we pray for their forgiveness, it just says when we forgive them. so that leads me to believe that, that verse does not apply to us praying for someone to be forgiven.
    53 minutes ago ·

    Archie Rhines So i posted to my God Spot blog. with more explanation of how I got to this question. I am intrigued when i discover a question I have not answered after 50 years of being a believer. I trust i will never stop asking….
    42 minutes ago ·

    Jennifer Rutledge We can confess anywhere.. who needs a booth?
    41 minutes ago ·

    Eddie Vasquez ya that question was a little tricky. i found myself putting the cart before the horse in that like esau was not granted repentance at all, though he sought it with tears…and so then i came to God grants repentance which leads to forgiveness, which in turn…leads to more repentance. haha its like…splitting atoms sometimes.
    39 minutes ago ·

    Archie Rhines Thank you Eddie. If you have the inclination and time, take your thoughts to the blog. I am sincere with the question and have put predetermined inclinations on the back shelf for honesty in evaluation.

    Supposing you as a believer (a priest in the priesthood of believers) manned a confessional booth and you prayed for the sin of another. Would it work all the time or will you have to refund some money for lack of performance?

    Satirical maybe but meant to communicate the question? And if you can get God to forgive another’s sin, what stops you from acquiring salvation for the same?
    32 minutes ago ·

  2. Bruce Stacey Donaldson In the John 20 context we’re not praying but granting. It’s like blessing our meal. WE bless the meal and thank God for it. We are priests… as I understand it to this point (how’s that for a qualifier). I have only learned this from wiser believer’s than I, not necessarily Scripture, and I don’t fully understand it, nor fully put faith in it, but forgiveness seems to release those forgiven, and in many cases the forgiver, from some kind of bonds…
    2 minutes ago ·

    Archie Rhines I agree Bruce. Faith has a big part to play in the question for both the one praying and the one being prayed over.
    2 seconds ago ·

  3. OK. So there is Steven about to be stoned. He says something like Father, forgive them. To what purpose does he ask for the forgiveness of another AND to what expected impact on the other?

  4. First off i would like to publicly confess that i HATE the back button and losing a post…. GRRRR….

    for my second attempt i have:

    I am no scriptural scholar by any means – i have along way to go however i have read on at least one occassion in scripture something to the effect of ask for anything it will be done (within reason and according to what is right with scipture but i hope you got the jist of the comment).

    Did Steven want his final words to also be his last testimonial? If a single stoner (sorry for the choice of words here) had a change in heart or faith because of Steven’s request then his death was not in vein. Also, was his death his last example of being a christian. how could he have spouted off words of selfishness and hate – that would have undermined what he stood for and who he was.

    About the confessional booth though where did the catholic confession booth come from? I have always understood that my repentance comes from God alone through the Holy Spirit. How could a priest undermine the meaning of the holy spirit and your direct relationship to God? It is like going to the gardner and him saying all is forgiven with no consequence rather than having to put pride aside and go to your father emabarrased, humiliated, and broken asking for a second chance.

    Sure, a priest could offer council or scriptural references and maybe even offer some words of encouragement but in the end wouldn’t i HAVE to go to the father?

  5. I like that Brian. Steven’s last testimonial. That is good.

    The question remains, “Can I pray to God that you are forgiven of a sin and if so, to what impact?”

  6. Although i have no scriptural or factual basis for this answer i say no.

    God holds us accountable for our words and actions. We are to go to him as part of our relationship with him for forgiveness. When we pass on we are judged on an account of our words, our actions, and our works. No amount of plea from a friend, family member, priest, random person, etc. is going to sway the jugement of our father. He is righteous and fair in all that he does even if we cannot understand it.

    However, i would agree that you would be permitted to coach a believer in a prayer of forgiveness for the sin comitted. God knows the heart and if the heart is true God is true.

    Sometimes people need some guidance, some leadership, some direction as to how to begin something but eventually people have to learn to do it themselves. Still, as i said earlier why would i ask for frogiveness from God if i could just go to Archie and say “Archie, im really sorry; pray for my forgiveness”. I would essentially be saying that Archie is more soverign and powerful than the God i am supposed to have faith in.

    In Steven’s case though his plea is vague and general. For all we know steven could have been referring the group of people stoning him, or the town he was in, or the society of non-believers as a whole. Only God knows if it made any difference or if it was just Steven’s way of making his last words meaningful.

  7. Hi Archie;

    If you sell confessional booths and put them in various locations where they can confess for a paltry sum, let’s say for a buck or two if you want your picture taken, I will set up my little business beside your confession booth.

    I will make sure before anyone walks in there are no listening or filming devices so the confessor will know his or her confession is safe and private. 🙂

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