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Title: CHIEF ARTICLES OF FAITH - Article II - Original Sin

Discussion in 'Formal Debate Threads' started by MarkRohfrietsch, May 20, 2014.

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  1. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    Topic: Catholic Lutheran Dialogue - The Augsburg Confession and the Confutatio Pontificia - Where we were then, and where we are now. (First in a series of Article by Article discussions relating to these historic documents).

    Title: CHIEF ARTICLES OF FAITH - Article II - Original Sin

    1. MarkRohfrietsch will represent the Lutheran Position; Athanasias will represent the Catholic position.
    2. Following the historic pattern, the opening posts of each discussion in this series will consist of the particular Articles themselves (The Augsburg Confession) , and the corresponding response as presented from the Confutatio (1530 Roman Confutation). Mark will then open the discussion with Athanasias responding.
    3. Sincethis is a one-on-one discussion rather than a debate the number of rounds will be three each, however, by consent of both participants, if the discussion has run it's course, the discussion may be closed early; if it has not run it's course, the participants may agree to extend it. (Some articles such as the first historically resulted in little dispute, so the discussion may be quite short; others not so much;))
    4. The posts will be alternating.
    5. Since both of us lead busy lives, we will not be setting a time between posts.
    6. The maximum length for each post will be limited to the word count capacity of a single post.
    7. All quotes and outside references are allowed. Please note that all quotes will fall under the 20% copyright rule. Also note that all quotes from the Lutheran Confessions and the Confutation will be taken from the unaltered Book of Concord; 1580 edition found here: Welcome to the Book of Concord.
    8. Start date-Very soon.;)
    9. In this discussion, the three Peanut Galleries; set up in General Theology , One Bread, One Body - Catholic, and Theologia Crucis - Lutherans will be updated and links to this debate will be added. Please note that the Christian Only rules apply in General Theology, and the Congregational rules apply in both the OBOB and TCL threads.
    Peanut Gallery threads:

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
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  2. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    Augsburg Confession

    Article II: Of Original Sin.

    1] Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with 2] concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.
    3] They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.

    Confutatio Pontificia

    To Article II.

    In the second article we approve their Confession, in common with the Catholic Church, that the fault of origin is truly sin, condemning and bringing eternal death upon those who are not born again by baptism and the Holy Ghost. For in this they properly condemn the Pelagians, both modern and ancient, who have been long since condemned by the Church. But the declaration of the article, that Original Sin is that men are born without the fear of God and without trust in God, is to be entirely rejected, since it is manifest to every Christian that to be without the fear of God and without trust in God is rather the actual guilt of an adult than the offence of a recently-born infant, which does not possess as yet the full use of reason, as the Lord says "Your children which had no knowledge between good and evil," Deut 1:39. Moreover, the declaration is also rejected whereby they call the fault of origin concupiscence, if they mean thereby that concupiscence is a sin that remains sin in a child even after baptism. For the Apostolic See has already condemned two articles of Martin Luther concerning sin remaining in a child after baptism, and concerning the fomes of sin hindering a soul from entering the kingdom of heaven. But if, according to the opinion of St Augustine, they call the vice of origin concupiscence, which in baptism ceases to be sin, this ought to be accepted, since indeed according to the declaration of St. Paul, we are all born children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), and in Adam we all have sinned (Rom.5:12).
  3. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    Let me apologize for taking so long to get this underway; and I thank my dear and respected friend Athanasias for his patience and understanding.

    So, let me begin this discussion with the appointed collect for this Sunday Past, Exaudi, the Sunday after the Ascension:

    Almighty, everlasting God, make us to have always a devout will toward You and to serve Your Majesty with a pure heart; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit; now and forever. Amen.

    Article II of the Augsburg Confession is a short and cons ice statement of the historic teaching of the Church. The Confutatio accepts the statements that all men after the fall are born with sin, without the fear of God, and without trust in God... It also accepts the condemnation of the Pelagians.

    While they do question and even condemn "concupiscence" (the inability to do anything other than to sin) as I understand the term; the door is left open in the very last sentence:
    I believe that Article II may have been too simplistic; and I believe that the response in the Confutatio may well have been based on some unfounded assumptions.

    When I read response to this article in the Confutatio, I was left scratching my head, and re read it twice trying to figure out where their ideas that we may be teaching and believe that sin remains in a person after baptism. Personally, I could recall no such teaching in Scripture, our Church or our Confessions. I know what our Catechism says regarding Baptism and Original Sin; but to be certain I read Philip Melanchthon's response in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (which can be found here: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession). Melanchthon, while being excessively verbose certainly rejects any assumptions made in the Confutatio.

    While after looking more deeply into this article, it's my opinion that there is nothing but agreement regarding Original sin. Our terminology may be a bit different which may account for different perceptions; but I believe that we both have asserted the same position. That being said, I await Athanasias's response; to see if he concurs, and to hear his take on this doctrine in light of these documents.:)

    God bless!
  4. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Amen! That was beautiful Mark. Thank you for that wonderfully appropriate and beautiful liturgical prayer you opened with. What a thrill it is to prayerfully share such Holy Liturgical days on the calendar as the ascension of our Lord with our Lutheran brethren. :) This makes me smile!

    Thanks Mark my brother again for this opportunity to learn from you and to grow deeper in our understandings of each others theology. I really appreciate reading the articles of faith from the Lutheran church and hearing a educated Lutheran commentary on it from you, which in turn helps me understand better where we agree(which is on so much as I am finding out) and where we differ politely.

    Let me start out by saying I think your right. I think on this particular case each side may have misunderstood the terminology one uses and what they meant. I think we do agree here but since I am no expert on the historical documents I cannot be 100% sure. So let me tell you what I **think** the confiutio may suggest (which may be a huge misunderstanding on our part). It Seems the dissagreement is on the understanding of concupiscence and if a person remains a sinner even after baptism. I have no idea honestly what the Lutheran Church teaches on this but I have read the articles you listed from the confessional sources, I do know that you guys believe rightly in baptismal regeneration as we do, and I have read what you wrote and I trust you 100%.

    I know that **some** protestant Christians who even hold to infant baptism teach that just the fact that babies cry shows they are sinners and are sinning. I doubt highly that the Lutherans teach that. Catholics do not believe that babies crying are sinful actions. Catholic in general believe that a baby is born with original sin inherited by Adam as St. Paul talks about in Rom 5. And the sins are washed away in the sacrament of baptism.

    So in our understanding if a infant is baptized his sins are washed away completely(Acts 2:38, Ezekiel 36:25-27) even though he still has the scars of sin or the propensity to sin which we call "concupiscence" he remains completely sinless until he reaches an age of reason and commits personal sin. If an adult is baptized they have all sins (actual and original ) washed away completely(and even temporal punishments are washed away in our view) and they remain sinless until they commit personal sin even though they still have the propensity to sin(concupiscence).

    I understand that Luther taught(and maybe I am wrong here so please feel free to correct me) that one can be both a saint and a sinner at the same time. Perhaps this is what the confutio is getting at and maybe misunderstood at the time what Luther was saying? Catholics actually agree with this(I remember learning this in grad school) provided you make a big distinction between mortal sin like lust which cuts you off from God’s friendship and can send you to hell(Matt 5:27-30) and venial or lesser sins which damage your raltionship with God but do not cut your off for not all sin is mortal(1 Jn 5:16-17). So a Catholic adult can be in the state of grace(Gods friendship and have sanctifying grace in his soul) yet have venial sins on his soul and that way he can and is in reality both a sinner and saint. But if he is in mortal sin and lost God’s friendship and sanctifying grace he is just a sinner in our view and needs to get back to confession and repent to be re-justified(1 Jn 1:8-9) of course Gods grace will have to call man to that and man will have to use his free will(strengthened by Gods grace as we believe that man cannot even think of being saved apart from Gods grace calling man to that, and strengthening his will) which we believe God will do because of what scripture and apostolic tradition show about God's salvific will toward man. But that is another can of worms LOL.

    Well I hope that clarified a bit from the Catholic side of how we differ and are alike.

    What do you think? Do you think I may have misunderstood or missed the mark on anything?

    God bless you!
  5. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter


    On this, the Festival of Penticost I would like to begin with the collect for the day:

    O God, who did teach the hearts of Your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit, grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things, and evermore to rejoice in Hos holy comfort; through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns now and forever.


    Thank you for your considerate and thoughtful response. Again, please forgive me for taking so long; but other debate threads must take precedence over my (ours). I don't think you have misunderstood or missed much at all; I would however like to add a few things for consideration; even though there is a bit of overlap with some other articles.:)

    I do believe that, regarding this article (and a few more) both sides were talking past each other. In this case, I believe that Article II was too brief, and that the Catholic respondents, having read or heard of some other things that Luther had written in the past; possibly out of context, read more into article II than was intended; it would have been most helpful to us had they included a clear reference to what they actually were.

    I truly believe that they also considered this possibility of misunderstanding, or lack of clarity shown by the parts I have highlighted in blue when they wrote:
    Moreover, the declaration is also rejected whereby they call the fault of origin concupiscence, if they mean thereby that concupiscence is a sin that remains sin in a child even after baptism. For the Apostolic See has already condemned two articles of Martin Luther concerning sin remaining in a child after baptism, and concerning the fomes of sin hindering a soul from entering the kingdom of heaven. But if, according to the opinion of St Augustine, they call the vice of origin concupiscence, which in baptism ceases to be sin, this ought to be accepted, since indeed according to the declaration of St. Paul, we are all born children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), and in Adam we all have sinned (Rom.5:12).

    In truth the Augustinian opinion is more in line with our understanding. Melanchthon, in the apology, quotes both St. Thomas Aquinas who says; "Original sin includes the loss of original righteousness, and with this a disorderly arrangement of the parts of the soul; therefore, it is not pure loss, but a corrupt habit' and St. Bonaventure: ""what is original sin?" the correct answer is that it is immoderate concupiscence. The correct answer is, also, that it is a lack of the righteousness that is due. And in one of these replies the other is included." Likewise he quotes St. Augustine who wrote in Against Julian "The Law, which is in the members, has been overturned by spiritual regeneration and remains in the mortal flesh. It has been overturned because the guilt has been forgiven in the Sacrament, bu which believers are born again; but it remains, because it produces desires, against which believers struggle."

    Indeed, were such the case, why do some babies cry during their baptism; why do some not?

    You nailed it!

    "Simul Justus et Peccator"; indeed, both Luther and we Lutherans hold this. Herein lies one of our major differences, the defining of sin as "venial" vs. "mortal". Yes all sins are forgiven at baptism; yes, for the penitent, all sins are forgiven through both the Eucharist and Confession and Absolution; yet the stain of original sin is still born as part of our humanity; as long as we are in this world we bear this stain; only in the next will we be totally and eternally free. Scripture supports that the only truly mortal sin is a sin against the Holy Spirit. Such would be the unrepentant and willful commission of sins; disregarding or shunning God's Grace in His word and Sacraments.

    Blessings to you also this Penticost!
  6. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Amen! Mark thank you for that prayer to the Holy Spirit. How awesome that we are doing this in the midst of the feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. May the Holy Spirit enliven our hearts and minds and help us to understand each other.

    Ok So this is very cool. I think we actually agree on this but like you said could have talked passed each other. This is one thing the Catholic Church has learned with the Lutherans in our ecumenical dialogs on justification. We often times misunderstood what one another was saying and sometimes it depended on how words were used. Sometimes we use the same words in describing a theological reality or theory but to each Church those words have different concepts or meaning attached to it. My professors in Grad school were always telling us to define terms when speaking in theology so this type of thing will not happen. So to get to a clearer understanding of all of this lets define a few terms we both use then we can have a better understanding of what we are really teaching.

    So we teach that concupiscence is not actual sin itself but basically the propensity to sin or as the Council of Trent stated it is the “inclination” to sin. Sometimes in the Fathers or scholastics the term sin would be used(confusingly LOL) but what was meant was not that actual sin remained in their soul once baptized but only the inclination or propensity to sin due to the lack of preternatural gifts such as integrity.

    So it sounds likes from what your saying that this is actually what Lutherans teach too. Is this correct? If so then yes we do hold to the same idea. ☺

    Here is a question. I have heard that Lutherans have a different understanding of the fall of man and his nature and this is one thing that may be a root cause of some of our division. Do Lutherans like Catholics hold to the preternatural gifts and sanctifying grace that were lost at the fall? Just curious? This may come up later in discussing justification.

    For example Catholics believe in the garden that God created Adam and Eve with 3 distinct sets of gifts and 2 of these sets they lost(the supernatural and preternatural).

    1). Natural gifts-- that is gifts common to human nature that define what it means to be human such as bodies and souls made in the divine image of God(Gen 1: 26-27)

    2) Preternatural gifts—are gifts not common to human nature but more common to angelic nature. These gifts are physical immortality, freedom from suffering, infused knowledge, and integrity (control over their instincts and drives).

    3) Supernatural Gifts--Gifts also not common to human nature or angelic nature but divine nature. This gift is sanctifying grace, which elevated mankind past his own finite human limitation and allowed him fellowship/communion with and infinite God.

    Another thing we differ on but only partially is the "Simul Justus et Peccator"
    We can hold to that as true when talking about sin but only venial sin in our understanding. To us if we fell into mortal sin and lost sanctifying grace we would no longer be holy or saints but just sinners. LOL Before I confuse you so lets start with a definition of mortal sin.

    From the Catholic point of view Mortal sin according to our Catechism is “A grave infraction of the law of God that destroys the divine life in the soul of the sinner (sanctifying grace), constituting a turn away from God. For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be present: grave matter, full knowledge of the evil of the act, and full consent of the will (1855, 1857).”

    We theologians also say that when one commits mortal sin he looses friendship with God and his soul is void of sanctifying grace(grace that sanctifies or makes him a saint) hence if he dies in that state unrepentant he does not go to heaven. God still often times gives the sinner “actual grace”(grace to “act on and repent” or that voice in your conscious that can get you to think about what you did convicting you concerning sin which the Holy Spirit does and gets you to repent and get to confession to be re-justified). We would agree with you that Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the only sin that cannot be forgiven. And you nailed it there. But we believe that sins have levels.

    Venial sin by definition is “ Sin which does not destroy the divine life in the soul( with the loss of sanctifying grace), as does mortal sin, though it diminishes and wounds it (1855). Venial sin is the failure to observe necessary moderation, in lesser matters of the moral law, or in grave matters acting without full knowledge or complete consent (1862).

    Catholic believe that all sin is wrong doing but not all sin is mortal as John has told us( 1 Jn 5:16-17). So we call those non mortal sins venial to give them a name. Jesus tells us that even internal lust is a mortal sin and must be avoided (Matt 5:27-30). This must be avoided but is not easy due to our loss of the preternatural gift of integrity. Yet with God’s supernatural grace we can avoid these sins and have our passions ordered properly again. St. Paul seems to warn his brethren and list several common mortal sins in his letters to the Galations and Corinthians that they can fall into and must try to avoid(Gal 5:16-21, 1 Cor 6:9-10 ).

    We do agree that communion forgives sins when receiving it but we teach that it only forgives venial sins and that one needs to come to the Lords table free of mortal sin (unless there is a emergency, one cannot get to confession and has repented and made a perfect act of contrition) or he commits a grave mortal sin and sacrilege just by that action alone. We get this understanding from St. Paul in 1 Cor 11:27-32 and from the history of the Church in seeing certain extraordinary cases.

    We believe that man will always commit venial sin. God can give man the grace and it is possibly to live a life free of mortal sin via God’s grace. Its even possible to live a life at some point where you are free of deliberate venial sin as many of the saints have shown us in history as our examples God can do this. However non deliberate venial sin will remain in most man before they die and they will only be 100% free of these things in the next life as you rightly say. Which to us Catholics and to Jews is why the concept of purgatory makes so much sense. LOL but that is another can of worms.

    Well I hope that was helpful. I sure am enjoying our dialog and look forward to your good answers. I am learning so much Mark it excites me. I truly wish we could get together and share a few beers at the pub and a burger and talk about these things face to face. God bless you my buddy!

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2014
  7. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

  8. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Thanks Mark for being so patient with me. I am really loving this. Sorry I am so chatty and I promise this will be my very last post on this article. You just brought up some great insights that should really be addressed that I think rarely get addressed. I think your right that our respective Churches agree on the big stuff but it’s the little things that we get caught up in. Some people would say that is nitpicky but I disagree with those people. I have too much respect for the Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church and I respect both our communions for this as correct doctrine is very important and means something so disagreeing over the finer points or having a highly nuanced theology is very important. The early Church also knew this as they to make distinctions in theology for all the heresies that would come up and needed to be answered. What comes to mind from them is the tiny distinction/nuance between homoousia(Same substance) and homoiousia(like substance) that made all the difference in how we view the nature of the Trinity and the relationship between the Father and the Son. I am sure you would agree.

    I think we can agree on the nature of concupiscence and I love the analogy you used of the ketchup stain. I can have sympathy with Luther and those who do not like scholastic theology. Certainly it is not for everyone in the Church. Now I love it but I have studied it deeply for more then 3 years in Grad school and I can appreciate how it all fits together logically and I think it has some great advantages and God used it (in my opinion) to help humanity develop our understanding of his sacred mysteries and appreciate Him and get closer to him by that. But saying that I also know that the Catholic Church does not require everyone to hold to or be thrilled with scholastic theology. We have many Eastern Catholics Churches that are not Roman Catholic(21 different versions from all nations) all united to the Pope and they do not as a general rule utilize scholastic theology at all, rather they use Eastern Patristics and arrive at essentially the same Catholic dogma’s but explain them in different ways by different traditions. In my opinion what turned Dr. Luther off to some of the best scholastic theology was most likely the strong influence of William of Ockham. But that is another discussion for another time.

    One thing though that I wanted to clarify that I think you would appreciate as a Lutheran was that our understanding of mortal and venial sin did not come by scholastic theology or its great developments but rather but scriptural exegesis and patristic/traditional interpretations of scripture. I may not have been clear on this earlier and I apologize if I was not. Let me give you a few examples of how Catholics and the early Church saw these distinctions.

    Now you may not agree with is but let me see if I can at least show you how we view it. So when Catholics read Matthew’s Gospel for example we see we have a great passage that I think shows the reality of venial sin(Matt 5:19). In that passage Jesus talks about the sin of not keeping one of the least commandments and he shows that this sin can be committed yet one can still remain in the “kingdom of heaven”(albeit he is least). This is a great definition for what we call venial sin. That is sin that will affect our relationship and us with God negatively(hence we will be least in the kingdom) but will not be sin that will cut us off from God or the kingdom of heaven if we die. If we die in this sin we still go to heaven eventually (although we may have to be cleaned up in purgatory LOL which I know is another talk for another time).

    Now keep reading Matthews Gospels in the same chapter just a few verse down and you will see Jesus makes distinctions between sins and also talks about sins that can send one to hell such as Lust(Matt 5:27-30) if they die and are unrepentant. Noticed the difference. In Johns epistle we believe he makes specific distinctions also and mentions that “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.”(1 Jn 5:17). This is just a few of many verses that Catholics have historically looked at to see this truth about the levels of sin and how they affect mankind. O fcourse this why the early Church and Catholic also hold to a purgatorial reality in the after life. But again that is another can of worms. The early Church and such greats of course know this as St. Jerome( in 393 A.D long before scholasticism was invented) who was the premier scripture scholar of the early Church while refuting the heretic Jovinian made these diction’s also saying:

    “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" ( St. Jerome Against Jovinian 2:30 – 393 AD)

    So Catholics and the early Church see this mortal and venial distinction as biblical. But you brought up another couple of good points that need to be addressed about this issue and that is the legalistic aspect of this. I would agree with you that you can get legalistic about this. Humans are sinners there is no doubt and this has happened and can. There can also be a false piety(if that is what you mean by pietism) that some may fall into. That is one thing Pope Francis is preaching on a lot of, that is not being legalistic in these types of things. But we still have to preach what we see is true from God’s Holy word even if there are those who will take these truths and abuse them. Since Jesus and St. John makes these dictions we need to preach them as they are true and since St. Paul does list several time various mortal sins for the Church to watch out for (Gal 5:16-21, 1 Cor 6:9-10 ) I think we need to preach this truth because souls are in danger here. However what we need to do is have a pastoral approach that is helpful for parishioners that balances out the truth on these issues and stresses God’s mercy, fairness, and grace so they do not fall into the legalistic aspects or scrupulosity from this.

    I can appreciate Dr. Luthers stress from this issue because I suffered from horrible scrupulosity for almost 2 years and I kept feeling on the inside that I was always committing a mortal sin(when I was not) and it drove me nuts. I felt I needed to die right after going to confession or I would be lost. This made me me hopeless and I fell into despair.

    Luckily God provided for me some great spiritual directors/confessors that identified the problem and helped me solve this over time. This is what we call scrupulosity. It is actually a form of spiritual pride that has been identified by the saints. Many people can fall into this. I sure did. I has been linked to minor ocd by some therapist also. The great thing about the Church is we have 2000 years of saints that show us that God can get us through even this. Several saints at one point in their life suffered from scrupulosity and legalistic approaches to this. Such spiritual masters as St Ignatius of Loyola founder of the Jesuits, St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus Liguori, And St. Thérèse of Lisieux all were able to overcome this by God’s grace and trust in him. The saints are great examples to look to and to help us not give up. Luckily I too had a great spiritual director who worked with me in confession weekly to help me overcome my spiritual pride of scrupulosity. I had to learn to trust Jesus and his grace in the sacraments and remember God’s mercy even if I felt like a horrible sinner all the time and even if thoughts popped in my head all the time. But it worked and after 2 years I no longer suffer it anymore. God’s grace is that strong. Occasionally demons love to use scrupulosity to get people to give up on the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist or the Churches truth which she teaches. The Church out of pastoral love also makes distinctions to help pastors guide their parishioners who do suffer this. For example St. Paul mentions drunkenness and homosexuality as mortal sins(1 Cor 6:9-10). Now the Church teaches that 3 things must be present to actually be guilty of committing mortal sin. 1). Grave matter 2) full knowledge of the evil act (we have to know its wrong and mortal) 3). Free consent of the will (we have to say to hell with it I am gonna do it anyway)

    If any one of those are missing it is not a mortal sin. For example my friend got drunk(grave matter) but at the time had no idea it was a mortal sin. He was missing the knowledge to do so and therefore he was not guilty of committing mortal sin. But now that he knows he is responsible if he ever does that again. Likewise just the same sex attraction(not lust) that some people experience is not sin in itself. Its just disordered passion due to concupiscence because we lack the preternatural gift of integrity. It is grave matter however and if one acts on this attraction knowingly he does commit mortal sin. The Church also takes into consideration on a private pastoral level the fact of habit and addiction which can as the Catechism say lessen the culpability of a person or as it quotes on some sins against chastity such as masturbation.

    “To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.”(CCC 2352)

    So the saint’s examples, trusting in Christ grace and mercy and a good pastor who can counsel in the confessional is going to be the key to keeping a balance for those who suffer this. But it does work. Well that is all . I promise now I will shut up LOL. It was great to dialog on this. I look forward to hearing your closing remark and to learning more from you as we continue our good discussions on the Lutheran confessional documents in relation to Catholic understanding.

    God bless you Mark.

    In Jesus through Mary,

  9. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    Athanasias, thanks for your detailed reply and explanations; as always I enjoy our conversations and thank God for this opportunity to learn and grow in faith.

    I understand that the Catholic view of sins predated scholasticism; yet scholasticism has played a part in the solidification of the Catholic view of mortal vs. venial sin.

    In our Lutheran theological view; ALL sin is "mortal", it is only through repentance, made possible by God's grace, given through the Holy Spirit in faith, and by our Lord in the Sacraments that these "mortal" sins become "venial".

    Regarding these three things; we believe that each and every sin (regardless of what we may see as serious vs. minor) is a grave matter; which includes sins of which we are not aware of and those of which we do not willfully consent to (those which may be habitual as well).

    As Lutherans, we view Scripture as the final authority; as inspired Word of God we take what it says most seriously, not just bits and pieces, but all of it. Scripture gives context to Scripture.

    In looking at St. James Epistle, we see that all sin condemns. Taking this in light of the rest of Scripture, even those parts which you quoted; we believe that this is the only conclusion that we can come to.

    This is reflected in Luther's Small Catechism in the part addressing how one should confess, instructing the catechumen to confess all sin equally:

    Scripture tells us a whole lot about which sins are serious; I believe that it does not outright state that there are sins which are not serious.

    Regarding purgatory; we Lutherans certainly agree that we can not enter heaven with sin, even if all that remains is the stain of original sin. Since we are all taught that in heaven we will be in a sinless state, the sins and sinful nature of our humanity must be "purged". However, we see this process of purgation as being instantaneous. This belief is based on the interaction between our Lord and the good thief on Calvary. The good thief's only confession was that of his belief in Jesus Christ; in return for that faith he comes into paradise that very day.

    I hope this helps explain why we reject the Catholic view of mortal vs venial sin.

    While you stated that your post was the last regarding this article; and I know we got a bit off topic; please feel free to respond if you wish. If not, let me know and we can close this one, and move on too article III.;)

    I look forward to our continued and most enjoyable dialogue.

    Blessings to you my friend.:crossrc::prayer::crossrc:

  10. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Hey Mark thanks so much for your solid dialog on this and for allowing me this one extra post. We could go on forever with this and often times when I do this face to face with one of my theology buddies my wife has to break it up because she wants to go home and its late LOL. At any rate allow me to point out another possible solution to the objections you so very well brought up toward the Catholic understanding of sin. Now some of this may sound repetitious from my previous post but I will also add some new to it. These things are good to ponder on and build on when reflecting on the Lord and His doctrines. I know as you say that Lutherans take the bible seriously and in context of the whole. I am going to suggest to you that the Catholic Church in her outlook biblically can take all the verses you and I mentioned and see a greater picture and synthesize them to see a bigger truth that . I know the early Fathers did this when it comes to sin.

    I think one of the issues I see is that we have different understandings about what it means to be “mortal” and “Venial” when it comes to sin. LOL there’s that pesky terminology misunderstanding again LOL. But this is easily solved by defining our terms.

    So when a Catholic says Mortal sins, what we are describing are sins that cut us off from God that are serious and if we die without repenting of these we will not go to heaven. So far I think you agree with this. Where we differ is venial sin.

    What we mean by venial sin is sin that hurts our relationship with God but does not cut us off from Him so if we died unrepentant of these we still go heaven and are not cut off but we may have to be purged of these sins and attachments first before we can enter glory( 1 Cor 3:15). I know you define all sin at mortal that become venial once they are confessed. We would differ there. We define some sins as mortal and when confessed those sins are wiped away clean. They are never made venial. Does that make any sense to you?

    One thing you said which seems to stand out to me and many Catholics is that Lutherans see all sins as Mortal. Our biggest problem with that theologically is that the scripture teaches that not all sins are mortal.

    “ All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.” (1 Jn 5:17)

    This seems o be a huge problem and many in the early Church saw this too. It just clearly says not all sin is mortal. That’s huge and we cannot ignore that verse or the other evidences of Jesus either! Please forgive for getting excited. I am not suggesting your doing so. What I mean is this should touch our consciences when we reflect on this. It seems evident in many verses of scripture that sin has levels of seriousness and each has its own level of punishment. There are some that will mortally wound us as John says and cut us off from God if we die unrepentant in that state like lust(Matt 5:27-30) or there are other sins that do not cut us off from God but damages our relationship to him and if we die we still would go to heaven. Here this is evidenced I think when we see Jesus talking about the concept of non-mortal(or what we call venial) sin in Matt 5:19 as he describes the the sin of not keeping one of the least commandments and he shows that this sin can be committed yet one can still remain in the “kingdom of heaven”(albeit he is now least). Catholics and the early Church fathers like heavy hitters scripture Scholar St. Jerome, St John Chrysostom, Caesarius of Arles, Pacian of Barcelona
    and many others in the early Church saw these distinctions in the bible clearly.

    You brought up the epistle of James. Thanks for this it got me thinking and rereading. They say iron sharpen iron. So here is my humble suggestion. In Regards to James epistle take a closer look at the context and read all the way to verse 11. Notice he never mentions that all sins are equal. In fact the gravity of each sin is never his point contextually. His point is that if you break any of the laws you become a transgressor of the law. This we Catholics would say amen to. But this does not take away the fact that some sins are mortal and some are not. This is why John can say that there are sins that are not mortal. James is saying you cannot pick and choose which of Gods laws you will obey you have to obey them all. Again noticed in the context of the whole of scripture in Matthew 5:19 when Jesus speaks about the sins of omission of the least of the commandments(hence they are transgressors of the law too) that this sin does not lead to spiritual death in hell like the mortal sin of Lust just a few verse later(verse 27-30) but rather they remain in the “kingdom of heaven” but are made least. I think when you look at Jesus, John, Paul, and James the early Church scripture scholars like Jerome was able to see and synthesize a greater picture in scripture that there are sins that are mortal and venial even though all sin is a transgression.

    I also wanted to point out that just because mortal and venial sin became crystalized in the 1500’s at Trent this does not mean it is a product of Scholastic theology. Scholastic theology saw the same thing that the early Church such as St. Jerome saw. Eastern Catholics who do not go by scholastic theology but rather patristics know this. The Concept of mortal and venial sin have always been taught in seed form at least as we find it in 1 John 5:17 and Jesus in Matthews Gospel and the early Church never had a issue with is. Likewise the Church also always believed in the dogma of the Blessed Trinity and it can be found by looking at the whole of scripture and sacred tradition in the early Church but it was not formalized and infallibly declared until the Councils of 1 Nicea 325 and Constaninople 381. But this did not mean that the Trinity was a product of late patristic invention as the JW’s believe it was.

    Oh shoot one last thing. I just wanted to say Bingo you nailed it on purgatory. I know talking to other Lutherans that they essentially believe in the same concept but they do not call it purgatory. What you described is what we call purgatory. Lutherans seem to get this wheras some fundamentalist do not. But this is good and a point of commonality between us. We even agree with you about the good thief. In official Catholic theology the Church never gives a time attached to purgatory because ultimately we do not know how time works in the afterlife. Many theologians in the past have suggested there is some kind of time and the Church in general follows the Jewish tradition of praying for the dead often because we do not know how long purgation last. Jews pray for the dead for 11 months. Paul prayed for his dead friend too in a very Jewish fashion (2 Tim 1:18). The entire early Church adopted this concept of praying for the dead and offering the sacrifice of mass for them too. Sometimes private revelations in the early Church such as that of St. Perpetua and Felicity(Martyrs) have suggested there is a type of time of purgation, However the Church has not defined this. The CCC explains the very basics on what we need to believe and your definition fits perfectly with it. One cool thing is recently Pope emeritus Benedict has even postulated in his writing as Pope and private theologian that purgation may not be measure in time like we think of it.

    Here is his view: “It is clear that we cannot calculate the “duration” of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming “moment” of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart's time, it is the time of “passage” to communion with God in the Body of Christ[39]. The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace.” Spe Salvi - Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI on Christian Hope

    And with that I will truly now shut up and allow you to answer and then we can move to the next debate. Thank you again for this dialog and spiritual exercise my friend. It truly excites me to learn from you and to ask you questions and to be able to dialog on what our view is.

    God bless you Mark!
  11. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    We could indeed go on. Thanks for the great reply; it does clarify my understanding of the origins of the Catholic position on sin. I also much appreciate those things in which we agree. Regarding Purgation; Pope Emeritus Benedict's outlook is about identical to an old Catholic Priest whom I befriended more than thirty years ago. He has been with our Lord since the mid 80's; God rest his soul!:crossrc::prayer::crossrc:

    I believe the discussion of Article II has been a benefit in that it has reinforced those things in which we share, and has added clarification in understanding where we are still conflicted.

    Thanks Athanasias and God bless you!

    I'm closing this thread and I will prepare our continuing discussion with a thread for Article III:).
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