Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Church Fathers and Mortal Sin

In discussing mortal sin, some may say that since the concept is not clearly outlined in the Scripture by chapter and verse it must be an invention of the Catholic Church (which at this point should hold a record at the US Patent Office for new inventions, if one were to assume all the accusations were true.)

The Early Church Fathers had a lot to say about mortal sin which would indicate that this was an important concept that was known to and discussed by the early Catholic Church. It is important because the early Church believed, and continues to, that a Christian can lose their salvation. Otherwise, the distinction between the mortality and veniality of sin becomes moot. All the language in Scripture of persevering to the end in order to be saved (cf. Matt 10:22; 24:13; Phil 2:12-13) makes no sense if there exists no "macula de morte."

St. Jerome said in the late 4th century: "There are venial sins and there are mortal sins. It is one thing to owe ten thousand talents, another to owe but a farthing. We shall have to give an accounting for an idle word no less than for adultery. But to be made to blush and to be tortured are not the same thing; not the same thing to grow red in the face and to be in agony for a long time. . . . If we entreat for lesser sins we are granted pardon, but for greater sins, it is difficult to obtain our request. There is a great difference between one sin and another" (Against Jovinian 2:30 [A.D. 393]).

For more on the Church Fathers and Mortal and Venial Sin Check out Catholic Answers


Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

Hey TJ,

Regarding the question of whether or not a person can lose his salvation, Reformed theology derives its doctrines of election and the perseverance of the saints partially from various verses in the gospel of John. I have highlighted those words which are most pertinent to this question in John 10:22-30.

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

And speaking of the Apostles and all who would come to believe in Christ from their ministry and beyond, in John 17:12-13 we read:

11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Although he was part of Jesus' personal entourage, a member of the church, as it were, the Bible is quite clear that Judas Iscariot was never a true believer. In fact, being a thief and a liar, he regularly stole money from the brethren (John 12:6). The Reformers would say that His final destruction does not reflect a "loss of his salvation" since he was never saved to begin with (Acts 1:15-26). Being a member of the covenant community is not a guarantee of ultimate salvation.

I am curious to know what is your understanding of the Catholic Church's teaching on these verses.

God's Best,


July 03, 2007 9:14 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Well, PA. This is going to be a non-answer. I really don't think us debating scripture with one another will gain us much here, but I don't want to disrespect you by not responding.

We can both find equal numbers of vs to support our disparate views (jn15:6) on this, but Catholics as you know don't use the Bible alone, but the collective teachings of the Church including councils, church fathers, etc which make up Sacred Tradition. As you know Catholic teaching takes the entire body of Scripture as a whole when it derives its teachings and doesn't view individual scripture passages and chapters as meant to be systematic theology.
Jimmy Akin(former Calvinist) has given a nice explanation from a Catholic point of view of eternal security which I will copy and paste which is better than what I was trying to get across. He touches on something I don't suspect you'll agree with but its food for thought. God bless

July 03, 2007 10:25 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...


Thanks for the link. May God richly bless you.



July 04, 2007 2:13 AM  

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