(Photo: Associated Press)
A much-talked-about confession app has committed a sin – the sin of omission, according to an evangelist.
Ray Comfort contends that the "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" – which gives lapsed, confessional-bound Catholics a way to check which Ten Commandments they have broken – actually "messed up" the holy laws as recorded in Exodus.
"You will see that they have dropped the Second Commandment for their iPhone app, then split the last Commandment into two to keep the count at ten," says Ray Comfort, known for his street evangelism techniques on the "Way of the Master" television show.
For Orthodox Christians, the Second Commandment prohibits worshipping other gods, stating: "You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them..."
But for Roman Catholics, the Second Commandment condemns taking the Lord's name in vain.
And the Tenth Commandment for most Christians is against the sin of coveting. But he points out the Catholic rendition of the Ten Commandments prohibit the coveting of a neighbor's wife as the Ninth Commandment and forbids the coveting of a neighbor's belongings as the Tenth Commandment.
The Confession app, which was developed by priests and sanctioned by a Catholic bishop in Indiana, contains the Catholic version of the Ten Commandments, thereby leaving out the commandment against worshipping idols, the evangelist says.
"The purpose of the Ten Commandments is to tell us what is right and what is wrong, so how will Catholics know right from wrong if one Commandment has been deleted?" asks Comfort.
According to the evangelist, Catholics are committing a sin whenever they bow to statues or images in the church.
"How can sincere Catholics know that God Himself forbids the bowing down to any carved image of anything on earth or in heaven? This would include images of dead saints, angels, and images of Jesus and Mary," he points out.
"I think those who created the app should be held accountable and explain the omission."
On "The Way of the Master," Comfort often uses the Ten Commandments as a witnessing tool. He usually asks a person if he thinks of himself as a good person. The subject usually responds, "Yes." Comfort then asks if they have ever lied or stolen or broken any of the other Ten Commandments. He cites the Bible as saying the "wages of sin is death" but tells the person that God offers forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ.
Actor Kirk Cameron is also a co-host of the television show which approaches people from all walks of life, whether they are standing on a street corner or flying 10,000 feet up in the sky on an airplane.
The Ten Commandments serve as a "mirror" to show us that we fall short of God's standards and are in need of His mercy, explains Comfort.
"They reveal to us that we are sinners, that we are unclean, so that we will go to the water of God's mercy for forgiveness," he says. "Most people are trying to earn their way to heaven, but the Commandments show us that we are all guilty."
"The only way we can be saved from a very real hell is by trusting in God's mercy which was extended at the cross," says Comfort. "The Bible teaches that eternal life is a free gift of God, not something we earn by keeping the Ten Commandments."
Meanwhile, the Confession app, created by a company called Little iApps, received a hand from the Vatican Thursday in handling its PR problems.
Following the app's debut last week, multiple media outlets misrepresented the tool as allowing Catholics to skip the confessional booth and rather confess their sins to their iPhones.
The app cannot be substituted for the sacramental encounter between a penitent and a priest, according to the Vatican's spokesman.
"It's essential to understand that the sacrament of penance requires a personal dialogue between the penitent and the confessor, and absolution by the confessor who is present," says Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.
"This is something that cannot be replaced by any application." he says. "One cannot speak of a 'confession via iPhone.'"