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Transformation of the Category of Confession from Early Christianity to the Reformation Era. P. 102–113

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Section: Philosophy

UDC

141.4+248.156

DOI

10.17238/issn2227-6564.2019.5.102

Authors

Svetlana V. Vasil’eva
Petrozavodsk State University; ul. Lenina 33, Petrozavodsk, 185910, Respublika Kareliya, Russian Federation; e-mail: milorada07@mail.ru

Abstract

This article deals with the origin of confession as a Christian sacrament and its historical transformation from voluntary recognition of one’s guilt to repentance and penance. The research aimed to describe all the development stages of this religious rite in both the Eastern Orthodox and the Western Catholic Church. As a result, common origin of the practice of confession in early Christianity was revealed. The author turned to the history of confession in the Eastern Orthodox Church (Greek, South Slavic, and Russian). In addition, the origin of Catholic confession as the cleansing of the soul once in a lifetime, i.e. in the face of death, was studied in detail, as well as the development of this rite up to the present day, when there is an established procedure carried out regularly to clear one’s conscience and absolve one from the sins committed. Further, the author traced the process of turning confession into repentance from early Christianity to the Reformation era in Europe. Through improving the sacrament of confession and making it a separate procedure whose process is known in advance to both the priest and the believer, the Catholic Church, starting from the Middle Ages, had gradually brought under control not only actions, but also thoughts of its adherents. With the Reformation, when Martin Luther published his theses against the very essence of the Catholic Church, a new religion started to evolve, and with it a new rationality, which later affected all areas of believers’ life. Protestantism set new rules excluding solemnity and pomp from spirituality. The Protestant ethic, being primarily based on rationality both in faith and in life as such, introduced radical changes to the life of the church and its parishioners, in particular the abolition of the sacrament of confession.

Keywords

early Christianity, Eastern Orthodox Church, Western Catholic Church, confession, repentance, Reformation, Protestantism
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