Baptism, Eucharist & Mortal Sin

Sonja: I confess not to completely understand the passage in

I Peter 3:21 baptism now saves you

there are so many other instances where the Bible talks about belief/calling on the Lord only…John 3:16, Romans 10:9-13, .
Bread From Heaven: What is said in I Peter regarding baptism is very clear. What is unclear is why, Protestants, who profess to believe in Scripture and ONLY Scripture teach their members to reject what this scripture clearly says.

Faith and belief are also necessary for salvation. Baptism initiates us into the family of God exactly like circumcision did for the Jews (infant circumcision and infant baptism correspond to each other)

Col 2:11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Sonja:In Acts when he is talking to the jailor…how do you explain those away?

Bread From Heaven: Let’s look at the passage from ACTS.

Acts 16:29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

As you see they believed and were baptized. The Catholic Church teaches that if one believes but dies before being able to be baptized they are still saved through a Baptism of Desire. God can save us without baptism in His mercy and omniscience; but we were told by Jesus to be baptized.

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Being a disciple implies the Faith necessary for salvation. But, where does Jesus make baptism and obedience optional? Where does Jesus say salvation is by FAITH ALONE?

Many Protestant pastors and teachers tend to dichotomies: either this or that. ie. Either Faith or baptism saves us. But the Catholic Faith, with a 1500 year head start on Protestants in reading and understanding Scripture recognize dichotomies don’t do justice to Scripture. More often it is not either/or but both/and…faith and baptism and obedience as we see in the Matthew passage above. Other passages mention other requirements for salvation/eternal , “eating My Flesh and drinking My Blood”. Trying to force Scripture into an either/or dichotomy distorts the message beyond repair; or else many scriptures are totally ignored or interpreted away.

Sonja:Furthermore, does not baptize in the Greek meant to immerse? This is what I’ve been taught, but admittedly don’t know Greek myself, but it seems the only way you could accurately picture the death burial and resurrection like they pointed out in one of the letters

Bread From Heaven: And yes, baptismo means immerse. So, immersion is certainly a fuller sign of dying to self and rising to new life. But, if baptism initiates us into Christ and is necessary for salvation (Jn 3) then what of conversions on a sick/death-bed? What of infants close to death? Haul them miles and miles away to a body of water deep enough to fully immerse? They might die on the journey. For many reasons the Church compassionately and for practical reasons decided that a valid baptism could be accomplished without full immersion. A lake or river with moving, (living water) is preferred but at least the pouring of water on the head was required three times, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

CCC-1278 The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

This is an except from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But the whole entry is very beautiful. You can read it here Baptism.

Sonja: The Eucharist…the bread and wine have to be representative as there was never actually any physical bread that came down from heaven. The “bread” was Jesus Christ. If you could show me physical bread that came from heaven, I would probably concede to a literal interpretation here. Also, if you take these passages as literal they say whoever partakes of this bread will be saved. That is apart from all your other sacraments and belief only this one thing would need to be done. So the only logical way I can take it as meaning partaking spiritually in his body and blood via excepting his sacrifice for my sin…We do have unfermented wine and unleavened bread, but only “in remembrance” of what he has done.

Bread From Heaven: You are correct. Jesus IS the Physical Bread that came down from Heaven. A better Bread than the Miracle of the Manna that came down from Heaven. The physical Bread that we eat is JESUS’ body,blood,soul, and divinity in the Eucharist, after plain bread has been consecrated by our priests. It is no longer mere bread but JESUS, under the appearance of Bread. We partake of this Bread that comes down from Heaven by a miracle, of God, through the hands of a priest, at each of our masses.

Grape juice is just not wine. Grape Juice is grape juice and wine is wine. Wine comes from fermented grape juice. Grape juice does not come from unfermented wine but grapes. This is a very plausible sounding way for Protestants to try to get around the fact that, contrary to the fact that wine was one of the elements Jesus used at the Last Supper, they have arbitrarily decided to use grape juice instead. Protestants often do not use wine b/c of the tradition from a few years ago surrounding Prohibition and their recent tradition that drinking alcoholic beverages is sinful. This is another Protestant Tradition of men b/c it is nowhere supported in scripture. Getting drunk is a sin but drinking without getting drunk is not a sin.

Sonja:…mortal and venial sin…not sure what you think is a “sin unto death” but Revelation 21:8 lists liars as having their part in the second death. James 2:10 tells us if we “keep the whole law” and yet “offend in one point he is guilty of all.” The next verse explains why…the same God told you not to do it. There are some things however that do seem to be worse in the eyes of God when dealing with things on earth. I would agree there. Would love to hear any rebuttals (please make them educated and Bible based) that Catholics have.

Bread From Heaven: You are correct. There are several lists in the epistles that list very serious sin. I John mentions mortal sin/sin unto death.

I John 5:16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

The Catholic Church calls these sins that lead to death, Mortal Sins and the lesser sins that we, ourselves, can pray for forgiveness for, Venial Sin. We have merely given a shorter name to these sins than “sin-that-leads-to-death” and “sin-that-does-not-lead-to-death”.


James 2:10 tells us if we “keep the whole law” and yet “offend in one point he is guilty of all.”

Of course, it is TRUE. Any sin, small or large, brings us condemnation. An offense against and Eternal God is itself of Eternal Magnitude. And only and Eternal Sacrifice could suffice to make reparation for our sin both mortal and venial. However, as you so aptly pointed out some sin is an abomination in the eyes of God just like they are in the eyes of men. Even before I became Catholic I thought it was crazy to think that God saw all sin EQUALLY especially when so many verses refuted this sophistry.

11 Responses

  1. The last days are here soon folks…

  2. Just wanted you to understand my point in the mortal sin category…
    1) I think the passage in Peter about the sin unto death and the passage in Hebrews saying there is no repentance make it pretty clear that once you do this sin there is no going back…so what’s the point in confessing it? Furthermore there is only one sin listed in theBible as unforgivable.
    2) If you are making your lists of mortal sins based on lists that say they are going to hell etc…why ignore the liars in Rev. 21? Should this not be included in the mortal sins too?

    Also, I know we’ve discussed the baptism in private, just wanted to mention on the post that even by the didache you use this should be our last choice of baptism, using living water, cold water, or warm water if possible first. Why not show the whole quote?Seems deceptive to me…and why does the catholic church not follow this same order now?

    • Dear Sonja,
      Mortal Sin and “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” are not the same.

      Matthew 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

      Hebrews 10: 26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment.

      The passage in Hebrews is probably more like the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit than what we mean by a mortal sin. Mortal sin causes the soul to be separated from God and dead. It is a deadly sin. And there are many lists in the epistles. Mortal sin is NOT unforgivable sin. It does offend God. But it is not the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

      We believe that any sin, no matter how evil can be forgiven when a person truly repents and goes to confession if possible. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the lifelong repudiation of the work of grace by the Holy Spirit in one’s soul. But even atheism, hatred of God and Christ, persecution of Christians, etc. can be repented of and forgiven.

      Sonja, we do not have lists of mortal sins. That is for a soul and her confessor to determine b/c a sin must be grave matter, and the soul must know it is grave matter and do it with free consent anyway , in order for it to be a mortal sin. Many serious sins are committed without free consent, or without knowledge of the gravity of the sin or some mitigating circumstances that lessen the seriousness of the sin. However, one should always still go to confession for the good of one’s soul and to receive counsel.

      why ignore the liars in Rev. 21? Should this not be included in the mortal sins too?

      Bread From Heaven: We don’t ignore liars. And lying, if it was serious enough could certainly be a mortal sin. But every lie is not a mortal sin. If one lies and says they like their friend’s haircut, when they really don’t like it; that is not nearly as serious as lying under oath so that your testimony causes an innocent man to be executed or jailed for life.

      I don’t know what you mean when you accuse me of being deceptive by not showing the whole quote in the Didache. Where did i do this in this post? I sometimes don’t quote something in it’s entirety for the sake of brevity not for the sake of deception. I also try to give a link to the source for someone interested in seeing it for themselves.

      Oh, perhaps you mean the quote about immersion and pouring. It is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is a sort of systematic theology for everyman. This we use and follow. We do not use the Didache in the same way. It is an historical document of great interest but not binding on the Catholic Church

      • Ok, I was under the impression that you were looking at these sins the same way. Just wondering what your (catholic) interpretation would be of Heb.6:4-8 would be then?

        Are you saying that the mortal sins then are left up to the laity to examine themselves? Along with maybe the priest…In 1 John we have the promise that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…there is no mention of another mediator, this confession seems to be to God. If this indeed is the promise, I still don’t understand the need for the priest.

        I did indeed mean the quote on the immersion. I didn’t realize they were from two different places (sorry about the accusation). If you hold such esteem for the teachings of the apostles (your oral tradition right?), to the point that they are equal to or greater than the word of God, why would they not be binding? What makes the catechism binding? Is it based on the assumption of the authority of the church? From what you said in the past I figured it was the teachings of the apostles and the Bible…now it seems like the Bible and the catechism. I am confused here.

  3. Dear Sonja,

    Heb 6: 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

    This was one of my favorite verses back as a Protestant when trying to prove from the Bible that people are NOT Once Saved Always Saved. This verse and hundreds of others show we can lose our salvation. It does not mean that if a Christian commits a mortal sin that he is going to Hell no matter how repentant he is; no matter how he turns his life around. It speaks to the reality that people who truly know the Faith and sin seriously resist admission of wrongdoing themselves and instead excoriate the Church. Many Catholics who leave the Catholic Church actually do so b/c of their own sin and refusal to repent. Repentance is difficult but the Mercy of God is infinite.

    No, mortal sins are not left up to the individual. If a Catholic thinks they have sinned mortally they go to confession. We all know the difference between serious sin and less serious sin. The priest will ascertain the reality of guilt of mortal or venial sin and counsel the person and if they are repentant he will absolve the penitent.

    The Catholic Church was the only Christian Church for centuries. It has always had oral confession. For many centuries a person had to confess mortal sin in public, in church. Later, confession was made private. Venial sin may be confessed and absolved by prayer to God. But mortal sin, suspected mortal sin must be confessed to a priest if possible or as soon as it is possible. So, historically, oral/aural confession has always and everywhere been the practice of the Christian Church until after the reformation when it was gotten rid of.

    Which is a better deterrent to sin; confession to God alone or having to go and confess to a priest?

    So we have confession to a priest b/c presumably that is what Jesus told the disciples to do and so they taught and practiced it.

    John 20:21Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

    22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

    23Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

    Jesus gives His apostles a special dispensation of the Holy Spirit long before Pentecost for the power they will have to hear confession. How could anyone remit or retain sin unless they heard what the sins were?

    Sonja: If you hold such esteem for the teachings of the apostles (your oral tradition right?), to the point that they are equal to or greater than the word of God, why would they not be binding?
    Bread From Heaven: As you can see from the catechism what was said in the Didache is still maintained in the most recent Catechism of John Paul II. The Catholic Church is just not as legalistic as many assume. Dogmas are unchanging but practices, such as baptism are changeable can be accomodated but the TEACHING/MEANING of Baptism is unchanging. The Church is dogmatic about her dogmas but not her practices over time, they can be changed. We do not believe that the teachings of the apostles are greater than the word of God. They are equal but not all writings of the fathers are deemed infallible. When it comes to ancient writing of the fathers of the church that conflict with scripture…scripture trumps the writing. Nothing incorporated from the Fathers may nullify the word of God. But that does not include Protestant or heretical interpretations of the word of God.

    Sonja: What makes the catechism binding? Is it based on the assumption of the authority of the church?

    Bread From Heaven: Yes. It contains the teachings of our faith. I was so happy to find it b/c I as a Catholic am not subject to the whims of any Catholic or even Catholic priest or bishop if what they teach conflicts with the Catechism/Scripture.

    Sonja: From what you said in the past I figured it was the teachings of the apostles and the Bible…now it seems like the Bible and the catechism. I am confused here.

    Bread From Heaven: There is not difference. The Catechism contains the teachings of the Fathers of the Church and and scripture. It has simply organized the teachings into a comprehensive whole. If you were to read the catechism you would be shocked at how beautiful it is and how much you actually agree with it.

  4. Dear Pam,

    In Heb. I was asking about the whole passage 6:4-8. It seems clear to me “in plain English” that it does teach that there is “no repentance.” God has much mercy, but there are some things He won’t tolerate. I have always been taught that Judas was never saved. But why? He repented after the fact to the tune of giving back the money and knowing he condemned the Righteous One. So why was he not forgiven? It makes sense to me that he had passed this point in Hebrews. Also later on it talks about Esau selling his birthright and not being able to get it back “though he sought it with tears”. I don’t think it is reasonable to lable this with a regular sin though since when Paul wrote to Corinth he said the fornicator should be thrown out for the destruction of his flesh that his soul might be saved. (Obviously paraphrasing there.) It makes sense to me that these are the same people that the “once saved always saved” people say were never really Christians. It works well with the sin in Peter since it seems that the people would have to be aware of what sin he was talking about. These are just some thoughts, trying to figure out if they are rational.

    As to the church always having confession, I was wondering about proof. I have read that a catholic counsel said that if anyone says that there wasn’t confession all the way back to the beginning of the church that they should be “accursed”. It seems to me a good way of scaring people into not investigating it.

    Your reference to John 20 makes sense. What doesn’t make sense to me is that we have no Biblical or historical reference to any of the apostles actually using this authority in the way the catholic church teaches. It seems more likely to me that they were given the ability to forgive the temporal effects of sin, such as when Jesus healed and told him that his sins were forgiven. We know they did miracles, so this would fit.

    I still have a hard time accepting the change in practice of baptizing, it doesn’t make sense to me.

    Back to the Eucharist…I was reading in Matt. through the last supper. It did not even say wine, it said the “fruit of the vine”. I looked at the cross references to the other passages and they all said they same thing. When I looked on internet for other versions, it seems most of them say fruit of the vine, while there are a couple that say wine. I found it interesting, since we never really talked about it…If we added yeast to the grape juice, it would seem the church is adding “corruption” to Jesus’ blood especially since you believe in real presence. Also I don’t believe the Jew’s drink/drank any wine fermented with yeast during the feast for the same reason the wouldn’t eat leavened bread. I haven’t done an extensive study, it’s just what I saw when I looked it up.

  5. If you believe that there are sins that God will not forgive no matter how repentant a person is and that these sins are not clearly stated in scripture so that we can avoid it/them…OK. But that is not the God I worship.

    Judas, I don’t know. Perhaps his repentance was efficacious. God could forgive even Judas. The Catholic Church does not teach that any particular person is in Hell. That is for God to decide and know about. Esau’s inability does not necessarily mean he is in Hell but that he could not get his birthright back.

    There are ancient writings about confession in the early Church. The council of Trent does not frighten Catholics into not doing research. The Council NEVER would have been so dogmatic about confession if there were no concrete evidence. Please see Confession for teachings on confession in the Early Church.

    Regarding John 20, everything Jesus did is not written down. Are you aware that you believe that there is/are sins that are never forgiven despite repentance even though the Bible never tells us exactly what they are so we can avoid them and yet you reject the practice of the only Christian Church there was in the ancient world b/c scripture does not explicitly describe the apostles in the confessional.

    You are right the Greek is “fruit of the vine”. I know nothing about wine making or if yeast is in it or not. I am convinced that the phrase “fruit of the vine” refers to wine rather than grape juice but technically it could be either.

  6. You misunderstand my first point. It would be the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit not any other random list of sins no matter how serious. We are both in agreement that this one is unforgivable right? I have done a lot wrong in my life, but even when I was in the “deepest” sin, there was something inside me that said I couldn’t totally reject my beliefs and be a Christian. I believe this is what it is stating. I am no theologian though. Like I said, once saved always saved would say it is impossible for anyone who is a Christian to do this.

    No, God would not make a sin unforgivable without full knowledge ahead of time. This would go against everything we know about God from the Bible. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear in the first post. I only wish to worship the true God and know more about Him.

    I understand not everything was written down right away, but there are so many accounts of people believing and being baptized by the thousands and not one mention of a human-human confession. Another question that would arise, was how in the world did they hear all these confessions? The people at Pentecost were from everywhere. Who would hear their confessions when they went home?

  7. Oh, good question. In order to be baptized one does not need to go to sacramental confession first. Baptism cleanses from ALL SIN both temporal and eternal. After baptism one is as sinless and pure as Adam, Eve,(before the fall) Mary & Jesus….for a short time anyway.

  8. Yep. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 1446 that, “Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as “the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.””

    According to Pope John Paul II the Catechism of the Catholic Church “is given as a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine.”

    By the way a confession bible verse John 20:23 if anyone wants biblical proof. And Galatians 5:19-21 for mortal sin.

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