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

Mortal Sin Part 2

In my last post I hoped to present my thoughts for why the concept of mortal and venial sins resonate with nature and reason. But, what does the Bible say about this?
Both OT and NT writings describe sins in their varying degrees of severity as well as consequences.
St. Paul was a big proponent of the idea that a big sin could get you "locked-out" of the kingdom. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-20). Paul also tells the Corinthians, "know you no that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards nor railers, nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The Catholic Church tells us that there are definitely sins which constitute grave matter, and if they are committed willingly and with full consent, constitute mortal sin. St. John tells us in his epistle that there is a sin that leads to death (morte). It is from this Scripture that the Church derived the term "mortal sin."

Now why did I as a young Bible-believing Christian think I was exempt from these warnings?
It's as if I said to myself "Well, Paul was just talking to these heathen folks of Galatia and the unjust Corinthians, and this doesn't apply to me now that I am saved and justified." When I read them, my eyes must have glazed over the fact he was writing to the Church! Whoa, it sounded like Paul believed that there was a definite possibility that these believers could not inherit the kingdom of God based on their behavior even after they had come to know the Truth. It almost sounds like he was saying "I told you once, now I'm telling you again."

Despite Paul's emphatic warnings throughout many of his epistles regarding sin, I thought I was exempt because I had the "Get Out of Hell-Go Free Card." I didn't take the card and live licentiously and did try to live a moral life (on most days) but felt pretty assured (on most days) I could screw up pretty badly with no consequence other than "grieving the Holy Spirit."

We believe that God gives us his sanctifying grace (bought by Christ's work on the Cross) through the waters of Baptism. But by committing mortal sin (as above) we lose this sanctifying grace. Paul didn't use those exact words, but he believed one wouldn't inherit the kingdom who did such things, so we say they have lost that grace.
But we are not left hanging in this fearful and powerless state! Jesus gives us a remedy for sin and that is through his forgiveness and restoration of grace. The normative way of obtaining forgiveness and reconciliation for the Church has always been through the Sacrament of Confession as I have blogged before. But, despite all the Scripture and natural law arguments for venial vs. mortal sin, for me it comes down to submitting to the Church. Christ's first action after his resurrection was to give the Church authority to bind and loose sin. (John 20:22) I have come to believe that this very same Church that he breathed on can make the distinction of mortal vs. venial sins and provide the grace to be forgiven and overcome them as well. The Church doesn't give us lists of sins to bind us up and control us by fear! But, that's just how I used to view the Church after graduating from the JTC School of Anti-Papal Rhetoric. Instead I have discovered that Jesus shows us His love through the sacraments of the Church and encourages us to live a life pleasing to God, and get to heaven, which is our "lively hope."

" Christ came not to condemn but to forgive, to show mercy (cf. Mt 9:13). And the greatest mercy of all is found in his being in our midst and calling us to meet him and to confess, with Peter, that he is "the Son of the living God" (Mt 16:16). No human sin can erase the mercy of God, or prevent him from unleashing all his triumphant power, if we only call upon him. Indeed, sin itself makes even more radiant the love of the Father who, in order to ransom a slave, sacrificed his Son: his mercy towards us is Redemption" John Paul 2 Veritas Splendor

An excellent resource based on the Catechism for the Church on this topic can be found here.


Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

Splendid! I was going to comment a bit more, but chose to post my thoughts on our blog.


July 01, 2007 10:15 AM  
Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

TJ where did you find the card? Did you make it? It's so true. Funny yet scary because it's the belief of so many ignorant of scripture...

July 01, 2007 11:08 AM  
Blogger White Stone Name Seeker said...

My sister, who barely has any faith left any more frequently talks of those with a 'Get into Heaven Free' card and their appalling behaviour. It has shattered her faith. Very sad

July 01, 2007 11:19 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

no I just google images for get out of jail free card figuring someone had already thought of it!

July 01, 2007 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Growing up in the church of Christ (non-instrumental, non-institutional, non-etc.) I had the opposite problem. Since all sins are equal and sin separates you from God, ANYTHING can cause you to be lost, even the tiniest hint of a bad attitude. I think that's part of why Purgatory is actually comforting to me. If I'm in a state of grace, but I say a bad word as I have the car wreck that kills me, I'm not going to Hell for that one bad word. Maybe I'll go to Purgatory and be cleansed of it, but I won't be damned in Hell over such a piddly thing.

July 01, 2007 2:38 PM  
Anonymous vivator said...

Excellent article! May I pass it to other (copied and pasted and acknowledging the source)?

July 05, 2007 8:18 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear Vivator:
Thanks for reading it!
Please feel free to do with it as you wish, i have no claim to the the Truth of the Church, no need to credit me. I hope its a blessing
God bless and thanks so much

July 05, 2007 9:43 PM  

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