My church background is Protestant, Evangelical, and mostly non-liturgical. But I’ve been wondering lately if our fear of rote ritual has led us to abandon some valuable spiritual disciplines, such as confession. People say that confession is good for the soul, and I don’t doubt it. Have Protestants lost an important spiritual principle by not keeping a culture of confession? I’m not suggesting that we adopt the Roman Catholic confessional. Too much of the related theology seems disputable. But perhaps we should try to foster a church environment that better allows or even encourages us to hold each other more accountable for our personal sins.
A former pastor of mine used to say that the circle of confession should be no bigger than the circle of offense, and generally I agree with that. In some circumstances it might be wise to confide in a spiritual leader or counselor, but usually it is appropriate to confess to and seek forgiveness from only those who have been sinned against or who are aware of the sin. So I don’t know what this might look like practically, but I wanted to bring it up and see what people think.
Should Evangelicals be more willing to own up to their spiritual failings? Should the Church encourage it, or even establish a “standardized” method of confession? What might the process be? Could we adapt the Roman Catholic system, or should we create something completely different? What dangers would we need to avoid? What benefits would come from it?