Thoughts on mortal sin/venial sin

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Truth, and Ethics' started by Lowly Layman, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Hi all,
    What do you guys think about mortal vs. Venial sins? I guess I never gave it much credence. I thought sin was sin and that prior to baptism and lively faith, all sin was mortal, but afterward sin could not remove salvation unless it destroyed one's faith. But I must confess, when I read scripture, I'm not sure I was on the right track. Our Lord talked about the "weightier matters of the law", implying a hierarchy. We are told also that not every sin after baptism leads to death...but the passage does not elaborate which sins are which.

    St. Paul provides lists in a couple of his letters of sins that destroy one's grace:

    "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 5:19-21).

    "Know you not that the unrighteous 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)

    How do you feel about mortal sins vs. venial sins. Any input would be helpful.
     
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  2. Joshua119

    Joshua119 Member

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    I think that one of the major faults of modern Christianity has been the growing movement to turn Christ into a no-rules hippy guru. He and the Apostles teach in very clear terms that there are sins that are truly abhorrent to God, and there does seem to be a hierarchy taught in the Bible. When we look at the Laws given to the early Israelites, the hierarchy is very clear, because different violations require different sacrifices.

    Furthermore, Christ taught that you can be forgiven for sins against the Father and the Son, but there can be no forgiveness for sins against the Holy Ghost. Now, what that means is highly debatable, and I am in no way qualified to be part of that debate, but He is obviously showing a difference in the way God categorizes sins.

    I do think, though, that the subject is a difficult one because even two people who commit the same sin can be judged differently. When Christ was on the cross, two thieves hung next to Him. One thief recognized Him, and Christ promised that they would be together in paradise. So it would seem that, by recognizing Him, the thief was forgiven. However, to the other thief who mocked Him, Christ said nothing. So the two thieves were judged differently based on their post-sin actions.

    But in general I think that the Bible does display a clear difference in the seriousness of some sins over others.
     
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  3. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Great post, Joshua. The next question that comes to mind for me is how does one become absolved of these "mortal sins"? Is prayerful confession to God alone enough? Romanists would say no, priestly absolution is required through the sacrament of confession. The Eastern stance is so murky I'm not sure what it is. And the Anglican stance, if indeed there is an official one at all, is lost on me. Is the public confession at worship enough?

    Ultimately, all sins find their forgiveness in the perfect life, death, and person of Jesus Christ...but how is Our Lord's forgiveness applied to the penitent after baptism? Through the sacrament of the Lord's Supper? By prayer? By faith? By declaration of absolution by an ordained minister of the church? All or none of the above?

    It all gets bogged down in the weeds the more I think about it...
     
  4. Joshua119

    Joshua119 Member

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    Yeah, the whole "what is required" vs "what feels right" debate can be quite murky. I found a great article about the debate here:

    http://livingchurch.org/covenant/2014/07/07/you-can-confess-to-an-anglican-priest/

    My understanding, and I stress that I am still new to Anglicanism, is that the typical position of the church is that no priestly confession is ever required. In fact, their is no Anglican formula for giving or receiving a confession. But the '79 BCP does urge people to seek out a priest if they are troubled, and confess their sins to him. (page 316-317) But it seems that the priest is expected to be more of a counselor and not act in the place of Christ, as a RC priest would.

    Interestingly, I heard a homily from a RC priest once that is quite relevant. He made reference to several biblical figures who sinned, begged for forgiveness, and then committed the same sin again, having had no change of heart. The priest proceeded to instruct the community that no amount of confession or absolution could save us if we didn't truly repent in our hearts first. Without a true change of heart, he said, the confession is nothing more than a scripted play with two actors.

    So I think that confessing to a priest can be quite helpful in times of extreme weakness, but in answer to you question I believe that prayer, faith, and a true desire to improve ourselves are what God is really looking for.
     
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  5. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Sounds like the "All can, some should, none must" formula I grew up with.
     
  6. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    ...but there seems to me to be something more definitive to be offered by our Anglican resources for souls who are burdened by those sins St Paul identified as damnable.

    A shoulder shrug doesn't quite fill me with the peace of God. Not when one's salvation is on the line.
     
  7. Joshua119

    Joshua119 Member

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    Yeah, I agree. It seems to me that this feeling is growing within the high churches, if not the whole communion. For the last few weeks my church has been offering a "confidential healing prayer and absolution" every Sunday after the service. I went last week and today, and it was a very centering and peaceful experience to simply sit and talk to a priest. Kind of like the Roman confession but less formal and more personal.

    Lately I've been wondering if this growing need is a result of our souls crying out as the world degrades.
     
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  8. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Powerful insight, Joshua!
     
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  9. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member Anglican

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    John 20:20 "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

    This is in the passage of the Gospel According to ST John in Chapter 20, verses 19-23. Here Christ breathed on the Apostles to receive the Holy Spirit and tells them as My Father sent Me, I also send you.

    The general Epistle of St James to the Church, chapter 5:13-18, tells one to call the priest/elder/presbyter for anointing, healing and confession.

    In the 1928 BCP, the rubrics for Visitation of the Sick, page 313, encourages the sick person to confess his sins to the priest.

    From the Apostles flow to the ordained priesthood to ability to forgive sins in the name of Jesus. In Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Communion
    there is a confession and absolution from the Priest or Bishop.

    I think we throw the baby out with the bath water in going to lengths to not be Roman or anything that my smack of Romish Doctrine. Christ gave us confession for our souls and peace. We should use it regularly. Does it have to be formal like in the Roman rite? No. I have done it both ways, formal in a confessional and informal in my office. I once heard confession on a city street.

    This brings up penance. It should not be rote, say 5 Hail Mary's and you are done. Sadly most Roman priest do that. Penance is repairing your relationship with God and with an individual. How? Each sin, person and situation is different. And playing games like asking forgiveness with no intention of stopping the sinning, well let say I don't play games with the sacraments.

    I have found in myself and other who say they do not need to confess to a priest or person but only to Christ as trying the easy way out. I have a Baptist friend, she say she only has to ask Jesus and He will forgive her. Do you see what she has done? She is the center not Christ. She binds Christ, He has to forgive her. No true facing of the sin or spiritual consequences. Jesus is just the pez dispenser of grace. She assumes much and this makes me fearful for her soul as I do not see the Jesus see says she worships in the Bible.

    If permitted here is a link to an Episcopal priest's blog with a good discussion of confessing to a priest. I agree with much of Fr. Jonathan's positions, finding his blog and reading them helped me come back to Anglicanism.

    http://conciliaranglican.com/2014/0...anglican-priest-but-dont-take-my-word-for-it/

    Fr. Mark
     
  10. zimkhitha

    zimkhitha Active Member

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    Is everybody here saying that the Sacramental Rite of Confession and Absolution is not available within their Anglican Churches? We have it here in ACSA, but somehow tends to be something kids do when they are due for confirmation, and that becomes the end of it.
     
  11. Joshua119

    Joshua119 Member

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    My church doesn't have any sort of Sacramental Rite, just the healing prayer and absolution which is done with a priest, but not considered a Sacrament.
     
  12. zimkhitha

    zimkhitha Active Member

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    Interesting..we do consider it a sacrament here, just not in the same sense as we do the Eucharist and baptism. It does seem to exist though, with the differences being pure semantics. What do you think?
     
  13. Joshua119

    Joshua119 Member

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    Yeah, I was actually wondering about that after my last post. I don't know a ton of African people, but I do work with some from South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania. From my experiences with them it seems to me that Africans are a very conservative people.

    On the other hand, Americans, and to a lesser extent the British, tend to be more liberal. Plus, in America there is a general attitude of "I can do whatever I want because I want to." So Americans tend to not want to confess their sins because they would have to be accountable to others for actions that may have felt good, but may not be Godly. Many times I've heard American Christians say "I don't need to confess to a priest because I have a personal relationship with Jesus." Every time someone says that all I hear is "I'm an unrepentant sinner and have no desire to better myself."

    Obviously confession was part of the pre-schism church, and retained in the early post-schism church, so perhaps the African churches have remained closer to true Anglicanism than the Anglo-American churches? Thankfully the practice does seem to be returning to American churches, if slowly.
     
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  14. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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  15. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Just basing my opinion on the webpage you provided, I think the church makes a subtle distinction between the office of reconciliation and baptism an communion. The first is labelled a "rite" while the other two are called "sacraments".
     
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  16. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The way I have seen it described is holy baptism and communion are the "Dominical Sacraments," whilst marriage, confession/absolution and holy orders are described as "ecclesiastical sacraments," or "sacramentals."
     
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  17. Religious Fanatic

    Religious Fanatic Well-Known Member

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    Some people who believe in once saved, always saved say 1 John 5:16 teaches that we know those who are not sinning mortally are those who confess and are given life and repent, whereas those who do not will not pray for it. But, it seems some people think that this means mortal sins are only forgiveable by a priest, thus, the line which says, "I do not say one should pray for that." means they shouldn't try to ask for forgiveness because mortal sins are only able to be done through a priest. Different interpretations.
     
  18. mediaque

    mediaque Member

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    My Church has confession available every Saturday.
     
  19. peter

    peter Active Member

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    It is of course quite a reasonable viewpoint that a person might need to confess their sins but does not need the mediation of a priest to do so. The BCP after all sates that Jesus Christ is our "sole mediator and advocate". As for mortal vs venial sins, clearly some sins are more serious than others, though these Catholic labels are not necessarily helpful. Scripture makes clear what is serious (the quotes above from St Paul alongside the 10 Commandments probably being the best guides).
     
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  20. Religious Fanatic

    Religious Fanatic Well-Known Member

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    I've heard RCs say that Jesus is the sole mediator between God and man, but that the man in question has to be a priest. Also seems to cause problems for those who pray to Mary based on the idea of her as a mediator between Jesus who is then the mediator between God. They say Mary was still alive when the NT was written and hadn't ascended yet so it was not true then, but later it became so after she was assumed and had all these incredible powers as co-redemptrix and mediatrix of graces.
     

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