Thoughts on mortal sin/venial sin

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

  1. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    "As for mortal vs venial sins, clearly some sins are more serious than others, though these Catholic labels are not necessarily helpful."

    Great point, peter. In a similar way, while we believe in the Real Presence, the RC teaching on transubstantiation is not necessarily helpful in understanding it or explaining it.
     
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  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The distinction between deadly sins and venial sins is taught in the Articles of Religion, Article 16:
    Not every deadly Sin willingly committed after Baptism, is Sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable:

    In other words, some sins are deadly. And some sins are unpardonable. There is potential for a rich theology here, although not sufficiently elaborated especially in recent times.
     
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  3. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    I think there are only two types of sin; unpardonable, committed against the Holy Ghost, and all other sins which are deadly as presumably there aren't any non-deadly sins. I think the two words deadly and sin just go together like ,love & marriage, horse and carriage and dreaded and lurgy.
     
  4. Edmundia

    Edmundia Member

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    In the gracious words of the Prayer Book it does say (in the office of Morning Prayer): under the rubric:
    The Absolution and Remission of sins to be pronounced by the Priest alone............
    ..............and hath given power and commandment to his ministers,to declare and pronounce to his people,being penitent,the Absolution and remission of their sins.................

    Very much a justification for confession and absolution as is the office of the Visitation of the Sick with its direct (first person) form of Absolution.

    Funnily,growing up in the Church of Ireland none of this was ever explained to me until I asked our Curate about it. All of this well said by Mark above.

    The mediation of Mary is found in the very early writings and formulas. A mediator is not necessarily an obstacle it can be a bridge gently leading us upwards and onwards. It can be understood in a very human way. If I want something from an important person I can, of course, speak to him directly, but sometimes it's a help to go and talk to his wife or mother. I know this isn't very theological but, haven't we all wormed something out of our fathers by chatting up our mother first of all; and Christianity needs and has a Mother of the family.
     
  5. CFLawrence

    CFLawrence Member Anglican

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    My parish priest and I have decided on three times a year for auricular confession. Advent, Lent and around the middle of Pentecost. My confession this past Lent brought a period of tremendous spiritual growth and insight. Helped me see what in my life needed fixing. Of course actually doing that work is a very different story.

    For an examination of conscience I used the one toward the back of The Whole Duty of Man. I wouldn’t even know that book existed if it wasn’t for the kind people on this forum!
     
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  6. peter

    peter Active Member

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    Putting aside the Visitation of the Sick for a moment, the form of absolution in Morning Prayer is part of a liturgical service. The full form (which I and I'm sure many here are very familiar with) is that the priest invites the congregation to confess their sins by joining in a set formula collectively ("we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep...") and then the priest pronounces an "absolution" - though if you look at the wording carefully it actually says "He [God] pardoneth and absolveth all them that heartily repent and unfeignedly believe His Holy Gospel...". It is God doing the absolving here, to anyone who (to quote from the "absolution" in the Communion Service) "with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto Him".
     
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  7. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Right. This was carefully written to ameliorate the error in Rome where the priest by his own power is the one who absolves, quite apart from God, as if he somehow carries divine efficacy in himself, independently, on his own. We say, no, the priest absolves only because God had ordained absolution and he sends his ministers for his purposes, and is He who pardons, through his ministers.

    So we definitely push back on the Anglo-Catholic and Romish theology of the priesthood. But then the Reformed types with their (non-)theology of the priesthood try to argue that we don't need the priesthood at all, since "it is God who absolves, right?" They try to inject the priesthood of believers nonsense. And that is why (quite apart from the form in the Visitation of the Sick), the form in the Matins and Evensong says this:

     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Active Member

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    That would still leave the theoretical loophole however that there may be 'ministers' who are not legitimately ordained by God in the visible church on earth. The equivalent to Old Testament 'False Prophets' who are 'wolves' amid the flock. Matt. 7:15, Acts 20:29.

    Only those who are empowered by faith and The Holy Spirit can declare others sins 'absolved'. Any 'absolution' by unbelieving sinners might be mere presumption, not faith in the will of God in the specific case. God is not obliged to forgive sins just because a human being declares it so on their own initiative, without faith themselves in God's promises to mankind.
    .
     
  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Article 26:
    Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometime the evil have chief Authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments; yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own Name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by His Commission and Authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving of the Sacraments. Neither is the Effect of Christ’s Ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s Gifts diminished from such, as by Faith, and rightly do Receive the Sacraments ministered unto them, which be effectual, because of Christ’s Institution & Promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
     
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  10. Tiffy

    Tiffy Active Member

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    The problem part there is, "nor the grace of God’s Gifts diminished from such, as by Faith, and rightly do Receive". The onus is upon the reciever of the sacrament, not on the adminstration of such. This would apply to sacraments but is less obviously so with absolution. One sinner cannot absolve another sinner just by declaring them forgiven. That can only be true if a true disciple is assured of their own forgivness by God, through the Holy Spirit. They may then have confidence to declare God's forgiveness to others by discernment of genuine repentence, without which there can be no absolution. Once again though the onus is upon the faith of the sinner and whether the word of reconciliation is rightly received.
    .
     
  11. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think a pronouncement of absolution is nothing more than assuring the Christian of God's promise to forgive the confessed sins. And confession of sins is meant to help the believer who's sinned to repair his relationship with the Lord, in the sense that the person feels guilt and this sense of guilt must be dealt with so he can freely fellowship with his Creator.

    I say this because the Bible teaches us that the Christian has already received forgiveness for his sins, even the ones he has yet to commit, when he trusts in Jesus Christ as his redeemer and Lord and receives the promised Holy Spirit indwelling.

    Paul's letter to the Romans explains that we are justified (made just in God's eyes) by grace through faith (3:24,28; 5:1), that God's righteousness is received by us via faith in Jesus (3:22), that the believer now walks in new life and in the likeness of Jesus' resurrection (6:4-5), that the believer is freed from sin (6:7), and that there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus because they have been set free from the law of sin and death (8:1,2).

    How good is this righteousness that God has provided to us Christians? 2 Cor 5:21 says, For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. The believer receives "the righteousness of God" Himself.

    You see, we didn't receive a cheap imitation of God’s righteousness, or an inaccurate copy, or a clone of God’s righteousness. We received the very righteousness of Jehovah God Himself! God did not make some little carbon-copy righteousness that looks like His own righteousness. He took His very own, spotless, holy, unequalled, totally perfect, monumentally ideal righteousness---and shared it with you and me! God took of His own nature, of His own essence, and placed it inside you.

    How do you think the Holy Spirit could live within you if you were seen by Him as anything less in righteousness than God Himself is? God’s standard is perfection. To accept you, to find you tolerable, God had to go all the way and make you perfect in His sight with His own perfection, make you righteous with His own righteousness. You have been made, not righteous like God, no, you have been made the righteousness of God by the perfect redemptive work of Jesus Christ and by grace through your faith that He shed His blood for you personally. That is why, in God’s eyes, you never can be, and you never will be, more righteous than you are right now. And this is why you never can, and never should, try to add to this righteousness from God with your own penance, receipt of sacraments, good deeds, or anything else.

    The problem we have with sin rests in the fact that whenever we sin we lose our sense of right-standing before God. Our gracious Lord does not change how He sees us, but what changes is how we see ourselves. We no longer feel worthy to approach God in prayer, let alone have our prayers answered. Our intimate communion, our daily walk, with the Lord is disrupted. The remedy God has provided is for us to confess our sins, knowing that he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

    Now, what about magnitude of sins? If a human being lived a 99.9999% perfect life and his only sin was the time he envied another person for just a few moments, that one tiny sin would be enough to condemn him to hell. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10). So, in general, the 'seriousness' of a sin really is not the issue. The real issues are: (1) has the person believed and trusted in Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and (2) has he persevered in his faith and trust at the moment of his death? For it is possible that a person can cease in his belief that he needs (or even wants) redemption. Also it is possible that a person can choose to believe that his persistent sinful misbehavior (constant homosexual activity, for example) is not sinful at all, despite clear warnings to the contrary from the written Word and the Holy Spirit. Such a one, if he fails to repent before his expiration, may be judged by God as having failed to persevere in the faith. (Some would argue, based on Heb. 3:14, that such a person was never a true 'partaker of Christ' to begin with.)

    Yes, some sins are more serious than others, or perhaps it is more precise to say that some sins have much more serious earthly consequences than others. Murder does more harm than stealing a dollar (or a pound). But Christ died to redeem mankind from both of those sins, and His one death for all such sins seems in a way to place all such sins on an equal footing with God; thus the saying, "sin is sin." The RC view of mortal vs. venial sins is demonstrably false, for it supposes that the commission of a mortal sin causes the sinner to drop entirely out of a state of grace (salvation lost) until he confesses his sin and receives absolution. For this to be true, the Holy Spirit would necessarily have to depart from that sinner even if he still had faith in Christ; this contradicts the plain promises of scripture regarding salvation for those who believe. Also, the RC doctrine places the Holy Spirit in the awkward position of having to bounce out, then in, then out, then in as the person sins, then is absolved, then sins again, and so on. The Roman Catholic Church would have the Holy Spirit doing the 'hokey pokey' in and out of people constantly! Nothing in scripture supports the idea that the Holy Spirit flees the believer in disgust (and leaves him without conviction to repent?) every time he makes a big slip-up.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  12. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Surely this is a process and not an instant event; otherwise we would risk the errors of Pelagianism, Once Saved Always Saved, monergism, and also find ourselves unable to reconcile our exegesis with the examples given in Scripture of the faithful losing their faith, which St. Paul feared of. And what St. Paul fears of, we should fear of, and indeed what St. John fears of (heretics deceiving the elect; mere physical proximity to the Gnostic heretic Cerinthus creating a risk to personal safety) we should also fear.

    Also I lament in your post you do not engage with Matthew 16:18.

    I myself greatly appreciate how the Anglican church provides a confiteor in Morning and Evening Prayer, a confiteor ante communionem in many of the services for Holy Communion, as well as, in several prayerbooks, faculties for private oracular confession to a priest and the reconciliation of a penitent, and also related liturgical facilities available to those who are ill.
     
  13. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This strikes me as a Donatist sentiment, predicated upon the error, originating among the Novatians who refused communion with penitent clergy who had capitulated rather than be killed during the Diocletian persecution, rejected by the entire Christian church in the fourth century, before being inadvertantly revived by the Waldensians, who later repudiated it when they acceded to Reformed theology, that only a righteous person can administer the sacraments or exercise the offices of priest, bishop or deacon. I don’t see any way to reconcile it with the faith expressed in the 1662 BCP.
     
  14. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Indeed so. It might interest you to note that this paragraph concisely expresses the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, and I believe, the Roman Catholic, doctrines, with regards to the nature of the ecclesiastical ministry.

    Thus once again I feel a strong sense of deep spiritual brotherhood with you @Stalwart :cheers:
    (This should be interpreted as cream soda)
     
  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    If as you say it is "a process," what is the process? In other words, what must one do to proceed from unrighteousness, to gradually more and more righteous, to complete righteousness? Must we 'prove ourselves' by toeing the line every day, or must we pass some sort of test, or what?

    Rom 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
    Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
    Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
    Rom 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
    Rom 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
    Rom 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin
    .

    Righteousness in God's eyes is not a matter of how well we behave or how often we go to church. It cannot be earned. It is imputed to us because God is gracious. Even while we are yet sinners, because we believe and trust in Him we are recipients of that which we could never earn. Although we are in the process of progressive sanctification throughout our Christian lives, God sees us as already made perfect:
    Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are [being] sanctified.
    (Note that in verse 14 "hath" (has) is in the perfect indicative which shows completed action with existing results, and "are" is in the present passive participle which denotes continuing action with no indication as to time.)
    Heb 10:15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
    Heb 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
    Heb 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

    We now live in the days when our sins and iniquities are 'remembered no more.' The guilt for our sins has been removed from us 'as far as the east is from the west.'

    Righteousness in God's eyes is not at all the same thing as real, practical perfectness. Rather, it is a blessed state bestowed upon us wholly without merit (for otherwise we only merit condemnation).

    Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
    Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.


    Take note, it doesn't say Christ "will" redeem us from the curse, rather He has redeemed us. That, and the existence of our faith in His finished work, is what made it possible for us to receive the promised Holy Spirit when we believed. It is true that we will be redeemed at the Last Day, but it is equally true that we have been redeemed and that we are redeemed. We were saved when we believed, we are saved, and we will be saved; all are valid statements. Similarly, we were made righteous when we believed, we are made righteous, and we will be made righteous.

    As a consequence of God's gift of righteousness, we are set free from the guilt of sin. We are set free from the sinful nature's control over us and have the ability to resist sin.

    We certainly should confess our sins before God, and repent of them. We need to examine ourselves before Eucharist. And we certainly don't want to think that we have reached the pinnacle of human behavior or that we have a 'license to sin.' But at the same time, we should not feel weighed down with condemnation or an unworthiness-complex, for:
    Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
    What we do have is a 'license' to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).

    But to address your concern, can a person turn his back on God, reject Christ, and lose his salvation? Yes. Does this mean that the person was once righteous in God's sight but is righteous no longer, or rather that the person was never righteous before God? That is an interesting philosophical question to which I am not prepared to say much.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  16. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    According to our Lord, we must take up our cross and follow Him.
     
  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Yes, we are called to bear up under adversity and persecution. As Adam Clarke wrote on this verse in his commentary, "He who is not ready, after my example, to suffer death in the cause of my religion, is not worthy of me, does not deserve to be called my disciple."

    Jesus also said (Mat 5:48), Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    If I fail to be perfect, do I miss out on having God's righteousness imputed to me? Not at all. Only Christ was perfect. The rest of us fall short in many ways and on many occasions.
    If I fail to maintain my Christian testimony when faced with severe trial or punishment (like those who capitulated), do I miss out on having God's righteousness imputed to me? The Novatians thought so. Yet even Peter denied Christ three times.
     
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  18. Religious Fanatic

    Religious Fanatic Well-Known Member

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    From what I understand, venial sins or just things that dispose you to sin without committing it (i.e. joking about premarital sex but not doing it yourself) whereas mortal is theft, adultery, murder, etc.

    The passage at the end of 1 John 5 about "If anything sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death..." can be interpreted in a OSAS context. The footnotes in both the older Douay-Rheims and New American Bible by the RCC are stumped at what it means specifically and I find that ironic. At most they simply say "maybe, probably" as to whether it really does talk about mortal/venial sins.

    Also, the reason the sabbath is not continued literally in the NT era is because Jesus imputes the sabbath onto us, which was preceded by works before the day of rest set in. Most see that as symbolic of a OSAS soteriology.
     
  19. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    The way I was taught, examples of venial sins are:
    stealing a dollar or two
    telling a small, relatively harmless lie
    losing one's temper
    a child disobeying his parent.

    Examples of mortal sins:
    skipping Mass on any Sunday or holy day of obligation, unless ill or required by employer or something
    murder
    stealing a large sum of money
    telling a serious lie that considerably harms someone else
    adultery

    I hope that is clarifying.
     
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  20. Religious Fanatic

    Religious Fanatic Well-Known Member

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    Considering their theology on that matter, how does this factor in to Jesus' rebuke of Mary at Cana?
     

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