Confession is something that is an obvious difference between the Protestant and Catholic conception of Christianity. Indeed, the answer is not as trivial as the question suggests.
Is confession Protestant or Catholic? Confession is both Catholic and Protestant. The practical implementation, however, differs greatly between the two denominations.
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What elements are identical in Protestant and Catholic confession?
Both denominations promote and practice confession. It stems from Jesus Christ’s call to repent and confess one’s sins. Then God will take the sin from one and show His grace to anyone who does so.
In this respect, the theology is identical as far as the basic idea of confession is concerned. But, as in so many cases, tradition and transmission change Catholic practice.
The basic verse is James 5:16
Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. Much is the power of a righteous prayer in its effect.
What is the difference between Protestant and Catholic confession?
In the Catholic Church, praying was made a sacrament, which can be properly performed only by a priest. Here, confession is made to the priest, who guides through the confession process.
At the end, the priest emphasizes that the sins are forgiven (it is not true that the priest forgives the sins – it just comes across that way) and prays an appropriate prayer with the believer.
This is usually done in the church in a certain structure called a confessional.
Since, according to Protestant opinion, the priesthood was not instituted by Jesus, the Protestant version already lacks a main part of the Catholic version: the priest.
However, this is not needed at all to make a confession. The confessional partner can be any other Christian. He does not have to have a fixed position in the parish or education.
It is also possible for a Protestant believer not to make confession with a person. Then this is done in a prayer with God directly. This does not require a specific prayer either.
The difference is, as so often, due to the tradition of the Catholic Church. Since the Protestant Church alone, and quite alone, refers to the Bible, this eliminates everything that comes from tradition.
Why are there these differences in confession?
The differences in confession when practiced within denominations has the same reason as many traditions have between Protestant and Catholic: Tradition.
Catholic doctrine draws its source of information not only from the Bible, as Protestant Christians do, but also from tradition and the “natural” development of the Church. In the process, this very execution of confession had developed.
The evangelical church rejects this type of confession because it assumes that every Christian can talk to God without a mediator (which is the priest in this case) and the Bible does not show this practice.
This does not preclude evangelical Christians from doing their confession with an experienced priest, but it is not required, nor does the priest have to give confirmation of forgiveness.
Difference of catholic and protestant confession summarized
Again, briefly summarized: In the Catholic Church, a priest must hear confessions. With evangelical Christians, no intermediary is needed because the connection to God is made directly. However, as an aid, a brother or sister in spirit may assist in the confession.
In both denominations, however, it is important element, if not the most important, of faith.