Theological Division


Systematic Theology


Mary Vanden Berg

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


Confession, Sins, Ecclesial body, Faith, Grace


A dangerous tendency plagues the scripturally mandated practice of confession within many mainline Christian churches. The danger is that the theological thrust of the practice has been ignored or compromised in such a way that the manner in which confession is practiced ignores fundamental elements which underlie the need for confession, specifically public confession performed before one's fellow believers. It is especially evident that the confession of one's sins, which once took place in pubic before the ecclesial body, has seen a significant amount of change within the Reformed context. The focus of this essay is to identify the theological reason behind the sinner publically seeking to be reconciled with God and one's faith community, as well as the reason behind public confession as a means through which one may embrace grace and overcome one's sinful behavior. In this work, I argue that the public confession of sins before an ecclesial body is theologically essential to the faith and life of the believer not only as a means by which one may acknowledge and accept God's freely given grace, but also as a means through which the believer is empowered to take responsibility for his or her sins. By publically taking responsibility, the believer is further empowered to accept the full measure of grace necessary for reconciliation with God and with humankind.



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