No one sin is worse than the other - how can I refute?


#1

I got into a discussion with a friend of mine who is Lutheran and she made the comment that ‘murder is no serious a matter to God than stealing a dollar out of a friend’s purse’. This floored me! I attempted to explain 1 John where it talks about a ‘sin unto death and a sin not unto death’, but she said this was our human understanding of sin that was being conveyed, not God’s understanding. To him, sin is sin - the gravity is no different in God’s eyes. I proceeded to tell her about 1 Corint (neither idolators, fornicators, etc.) but she cut me off and paraphrased a verse that I can’t remember ( and she couldn’t remember where it was in the bible either) - but it was something to the effect that a lesser sin is the same as a greater sin.

Does anyone have an idea on what verse she might have been referring to and what it means in context? I’d like to study more on it before I see her again. Also, any other ideas on how to refute her claim? Thank you!


#2

1 John 5:16-17 mentions two types of sin, those that lead to death and those that do not: “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him 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 he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.”

– Mark L. Chance.


#3

[quote=mlchance]1 John 5:16-17 mentions two types of sin, those that lead to death and those that do not: “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him 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 he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.”

– Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]

Also, to paraphrase, that any sin can be forgiven, except a sin against the Holy Spirit.


#4

[quote=Elzee]I got into a discussion with a friend of mine who is Lutheran and she made the comment that ‘murder is no serious a matter to God than stealing a dollar out of a friend’s purse’. This floored me! I attempted to explain 1 John where it talks about a ‘sin unto death and a sin not unto death’, but she said this was our human understanding of sin that was being conveyed, not God’s understanding. To him, sin is sin - the gravity is no different in God’s eyes. I proceeded to tell her about 1 Corint (neither idolators, fornicators, etc.) but she cut me off and paraphrased a verse that I can’t remember ( and she couldn’t remember where it was in the bible either) - but it was something to the effect that a lesser sin is the same as a greater sin.

Does anyone have an idea on what verse she might have been referring to and what it means in context? I’d like to study more on it before I see her again. Also, any other ideas on how to refute her claim? Thank you!
[/quote]

I’d like to know what verse she’s referring to, but 1 Jn 5:16-17 is pretty clear that all sins are not the same.

Another verse that is in the synoptic gospels deals with blaspheming the Holy Spirit: “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mk 3:29; Mt 12:32; Lk 12:10). [font=Arial][size=2]Here’s a specific example of Our Lord citing a sin which is more serious than others.[/size][/font]

Good luck.

jb


#5

Elzee,

You have shown her the main passages referring to the diferent types of sin, and it seems as though she is just being “bull-headed” about the whole thing. Sin is sin, on that I’m sure you both agree, but the Bible does make the distinction between deadly and non-deadly sins. Try asking her the following questions:

  1. Ask her how she knows that your version is only “human” understanding and that hers is “God’s” understanding. Is she capable of correctly and infallibly interpreting Scripture?

  2. Ask her if she believes that God would condemn a soul to hell for stealing a dollar as He would for murder or adultery.

As for the verse she was referring to, I can’t think of it, but if she is a “Bible Christian” and is staking her salvation on the Bible only, she should know EXACTLY what it says, don’t you think?

One last thing. She probably isn’t willing to hear what you have to say unless you can show her in the Bible, but for your own understanding of this subject and to be better able to explain the Catholic Church’s teaching on it, I recommend the *Catechism of The Catholic Church. *If you don’t have one, it is more than worth the $12-$15 it costs. Also, you can read it online at:
scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm

Hope this helps.

In Christ,
Joe


#6

[quote=jusher7281]Elzee,

You have shown her the main passages referring to the diferent types of sin, and it seems as though she is just being “bull-headed” about the whole thing. Sin is sin, on that I’m sure you both agree, but the Bible does make the distinction between deadly and non-deadly sins. Try asking her the following questions:

  1. Ask her how she knows that your version is only “human” understanding and that hers is “God’s” understanding. Is she capable of correctly and infallibly interpreting Scripture?

  2. Ask her if she believes that God would condemn a soul to hell for stealing a dollar as He would for murder or adultery.

As for the verse she was referring to, I can’t think of it, but if she is a “Bible Christian” and is staking her salvation on the Bible only, she should know EXACTLY what it says, don’t you think?

One last thing. She probably isn’t willing to hear what you have to say unless you can show her in the Bible, but for your own understanding of this subject and to be better able to explain the Catholic Church’s teaching on it, I recommend the *Catechism of The Catholic Church. *If you don’t have one, it is more than worth the $12-$15 it costs. Also, you can read it online at:
scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm

Hope this helps.

In Christ,
Joe
[/quote]

Thanks Joe. (I just started reading the CCC last week. I have so much to learn. Thank you!)
I actually did reply similarly to what you have. Her response was basically - ‘it’s just obvious that’s what the Scritpures mean’ (in reply to #1 above). And… 'if you’re of God you wouldn’t murder, but if you did, God would not condemn you to hell because Jesus covered all my sins. He would not send me to hell for murder ’ (in reply to #2). (At this point I brought up 1 Corinthians ('neither fornicator, idolator, etc.). She said that applies to the people in Corinth who weren’t really saved yet (they had not been ‘washed’ - those who had been ‘washed’ did not do such things). We also briefly talked about purgatory in which case I was just flat out told ‘I was wrong’ many times (we revisited your #1 above at this point…). When I offered to show her the biblical basis for purgatory, she said* ‘I know all those verses. I used to be Catholic and they interpret them incorrectly. That’s why I’m Lutheran’. *

If her verse on God not differentiating one sin from another doesn’t ring a bell with anyone here, I’ll just ask her to show me where it is. I’d like to read it in context. Thank you!


#7

The verse that your friend was talking about (but didn’t remember) was James 2:10 (“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”). What your friend is doing, however is ripping this verse out of context.

Perhaps you would do well to read the following:
catholic.com/thisrock/1995/9505fea4.asp

What your argument is going to come down to, however, is the issue of authority. Who has the authority to determine what scripture says? This is where you would do well to start learning about the biblical basis for the Papacy and the Magisterium. Also, you may want to start hinting at the idea that we should worship like the 1st/2nd/3rd century Christians. Once they agree, you can start to show your friend how they were all Catholic.

Here’s a site that will help you in the future:
www.scripturecatholic.com
Also, you may want to print out this cheat-sheet and paste it into the front of your bible:
geocities.com/thecatholicconvert/biblecheatsheet.html

Good luck, and if you have more questions - ask! OR, invite your friend here to “shine the light of truth through our Romanist lies”! :smiley:

In Christ,
RyanL


#8

The scriptures do not use the terms “mortal sin” and “venial sin”. These are simply definitions that our church uses to describe the depth and seriousness of sins in general. Of course all sin is sin and one sin can send you to hell, just as much as another, if one refuses contrition and penance.

                          Common sense tells you that murder is worse in degree of sin, then cussing and saying a swear word. Also Jesus himself said that if anyone blasphemies the Holy Spirit that individual will not be forgiven in this world or the next. So right there is a clear example of how some sins is different in degree than others which can be forgiven.

                            Once again our church uses the terms mortal and venial to DISTINGUISH the degrees or seriousness of sins. All sins still are sins irregardless.

#9

[quote=Elzee]Thanks Joe. (I just started reading the CCC last week. I have so much to learn. Thank you!)
[/quote]

Elzee,
I recently finished mine and it took me almost four weeks! It is so full of truth, you can’t deny it when you read it. Keep going.

I actually did reply similarly to what you have. Her response was basically - ‘it’s just obvious that’s what the Scritpures mean’ (in reply to #1 above). And… 'if you’re of God you wouldn’t murder, but if you did, God would not condemn you to hell because Jesus covered all my sins. He would not send me to hell for murder ’ (in reply to #2).

“Jesus covered my sins” is so typical. Yes He did, or we wouldn’t have a hope of going to heaven, but I hope she doesn’t think that if someone “of God” relapsed into whatever sinful activity, be it murder, idolatry, fornication, etc., that the person would still be able to enter heaven (unless they were forgiven, of course).

(At this point I brought up 1 Corinthians ('neither fornicator, idolator, etc.). She said that applies to the people in Corinth who weren’t really saved yet (they had not been ‘washed’ - those who had been ‘washed’ did not do such things).

I love this one. Knowing what she meant by being “saved,” she is still incorrect. 1 Corinthians, as well as *every other *New Testament letter, was written to people who were already Christians, not unbelievers. And since they were Christians, we know that they had been washed, in Baptism, and yet, they were still messing things up. Her logic fails at the outset.

We also briefly talked about purgatory in which case I was just flat out told ‘I was wrong’ many times (we revisited your #1 above at this point…). When I offered to show her the biblical basis for purgatory, she said* ‘I know all those verses. I used to be Catholic and they interpret them incorrectly. That’s why I’m Lutheran’.*

Being an ex-Catholic, your friend should know not only the biblical basis for Purgatory, but also the Church’s Tradition on the subject. She may no longer agree with it, but she should at least understand why the Church teaches it.

It’s clear that your friend is very bitter toward the Catholic Church, or she wouldn’t have left. I don’t know why she picked Lutheranism, but I suspect it has something to do with Church authority (after all, that’s how Lutheranism started). Whatever the reasons for her leaving the Church, she is obviously not going to budge, at least not now. You could show her the biblical basis for any Catholic doctrine (and you can), and she’s still not going listen. Her mind is made up. Does that mean there’s nothing you can do? Not at all. Here are just a few suggestions (I’m in a similar situation and these are working for me):

  1. Pray for her. Ask the Holy Spirit to soften her heart and make it more open to the truth. Tell her you’d like to pray for her. She may not want you to, but do it anyway, and tell her you are. Prayer is the one weapon for which there is no defense.

  2. Be a good example. Live your faith and let her see the light of Christ shine through you.

  3. Ask her why she is so resentful toward the Catholic Church. Maybe it has nothing to do with doctrine (it almost never does), but rather something happened, or she had a bad experience with a priest or church, or perhaps she disagrees with a particular teaching on a social issue.

  4. Read, read, read. There is a ton of really good Catholic material out there. Also, if she’s willing to read Catholic literature, give her some good material. If she will listen to taped material, Catholic Answers Live has some excellent shows on Purgatory you can download, and EWTN has one of the best, most insightful explanations on Purgatory you’ll find at: ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=54&T1=hahn

Be patient, and best of luck.

Joe


#10

Yes - she really does believe someone who commits murder, adultery, etc. will go to heaven - even if they haven’t repented before death because when they die, if they have faith in Jesus, their sins are forgiven automatically. That’s what he died for. I didn’t think Lutherans held this extreme a view, but she apparently does. The only way to lose your salvation is to outrightly reject Christianity. But, when I asked what that meant (does it mean I have to explicitly say ‘Jesus I reject you?", is murder a way to reject Christ’,) she didn’t answer. She is definitely bitter about the Catholic church. One day I’ll ask her why.

Thank you for the EWTN link. I’ve been to that sight dozens of times but didn’t know about this section.

Thanks for your suggestions too. I think they will help. I’m glad they’re working for you.

I’ve been reading a lot of books during the past year (the Bible obviously, but also quite a few other books and also listening to a LOT of cds and tapes (Tim Staples, John Martignoni). My problem is I just can’t retain as much as I want to. Maybe I’m trying to understand and remember too much at one time instead of focusing on one topic at a time. Any suggesions?


#11

It might be best not to get into any really heated discussions with her, because whether she is rude, slaps you, or shoots you, it’s all the same to her. And she’s already forgiven, so she’ll get to heaven anyway.


#12

[quote=Elzee]I got into a discussion with a friend of mine who is Lutheran …I’d like to study more on it before I see her again. Also, any other ideas on how to refute her claim?
[/quote]

As your friend is Lutheran, please don’t make the mistake that many Catholics make and lumps her beliefs together with what many other Protestants believe. As the Lutherans were the first Protestant denomination, many of their beliefs and practices are much closer to Catholics than other Protestant groups. (As she was raised Catholic not Lutheran, she may not know what Lutherans teach and might blend it with others.) I don’t think Lutherans believe in “once saved, always saved”, and they typically don’t memorize the Bible as extensively as many Protestants do. But the issue of Purgatory is one of the big issues that led Luther to split from the Catholic Church.

Luther taught that Jesus covers our sins and said it is like we are “dunghills covered with snow.” That means he thinks heaven is filled with a bunch of snowy dung. Jesus doesn’t just cover our sins–He saves us from our sins and makes us holy. Rather than Luther’s metaphor, I like to picture that we are more like dung that He composts until we turns into good soil, then He sprinkles us with His seeds of love and we blossom. I prefer to imagine our souls resemble gardens filled with fragrant blossoms rather than snow covered dunghills. I think the garden metaphor matches the Biblical and Catholic teachings that God truly makes us holy. For those of us who die while still imperfect, Jesus make us holy in purgatory, rather than letting a bunch of dung into heaven.


#13

[quote=Elzee] … she said this was our human understanding of sin that was being conveyed, not God’s understanding …
[/quote]

Ask her how she knows what God’s understanding is? Does she have divine powers?


#14

tell her since this is the way god looks at sin she shouldn’t have a problem with a punishment in the courts for littering being the same for murder, or vice-versa. tell her god would want the punishment to be the same since it’s all the same to him.


#15

[quote=Elzee]Yes - she really does believe someone who commits murder, adultery, etc. will go to heaven - even if they haven’t repented before death because when they die, if they have faith in Jesus, their sins are forgiven automatically. That’s what he died for. I didn’t think Lutherans held this extreme a view, but she apparently does. The only way to lose your salvation is to outrightly reject Christianity. But, when I asked what that meant (does it mean I have to explicitly say ‘Jesus I reject you?", is murder a way to reject Christ’,) she didn’t answer.
[/quote]

Elzee,

She is sadly, even fatally, mistaken about that. He did die for our sins, but He also told us to repent, and sin no more. However, He knew we would sin, therefore He gave His church the authority to forgive sins. But we have to repent and resolve to sin no more. Faith alone isn’t enough. It’s necessary, but not sufficient for salvation. If she thinks the only way to lose one’s salvation is to outright reject Christianity, then by rejecting Christ’s teachings, she is doing just that.

I’ve been reading a lot of books during the past year (the Bible obviously, but also quite a few other books and also listening to a LOT of cds and tapes (Tim Staples, John Martignoni). My problem is I just can’t retain as much as I want to. Maybe I’m trying to understand and remember too much at one time instead of focusing on one topic at a time. Any suggesions?

Yes. If you haven’t done so already, start by reading or downloading the Catholic Answers tracts. You are also already reading the two most important resources, the Bible and the catechism (the Bible is a Catholic book, by the way). Like you said, you may be trying to take in too much at once. You might want to focus on one doctrine or teaching at a time until you understand it from the Bible and Tradition, then move to the next. I started with sola Scriptura and worked from there, but I still have a long way to go. Here is another really good web site that has plenty of information: www.scripturecatholic.com.

Joe


#16

Greetings Joe

  1. Ask her if she believes that God would condemn a soul to hell for stealing a dollar as He would for murder or adultery

.
How does that compare with Adam and Eve eating an apple?
Peace
Eric


#17

[quote=Eric Hyom]Greetings Joe
.
How does that compare with Adam and Eve eating an apple?
Peace
Eric
[/quote]

Nowhere in scripture is it said that Adam and Eve ate an apple!

They ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Quite a different thing.


#18

[quote=Eric Hyom]Greetings Joe
.
How does that compare with Adam and Eve eating an apple?
Peace
Eric
[/quote]

Eric,

I was trying to make the distinction between venial and mortal sin in that venial sin does not necessarily mean a person will go to hell. I guess I should have been more clear.

Joe


#19

call her on it - steal a dollar from her purse today, then steal her car tomorrow, see how upset she gets. remind her that as a believing Christian you are assured of heaven, so why should you do anything to make restitution for or, or even apologize and ask her forgiveness for that matter. ask her how long the church or society would function on that basis.


#20

[quote=Elzee]Yes - she really does believe someone who commits murder, adultery, etc. will go to heaven - even if they haven’t repented before death because when they die, if they have faith in Jesus, their sins are forgiven automatically. That’s what he died for. I didn’t think Lutherans held this extreme a view, but she apparently does. The only way to lose your salvation is to outrightly reject Christianity. But, when I asked what that meant (does it mean I have to explicitly say ‘Jesus I reject you?", is murder a way to reject Christ’,) she didn’t answer. She is definitely bitter about the Catholic church. One day I’ll ask her why.

Thank you for the EWTN link. I’ve been to that sight dozens of times but didn’t know about this section.

Thanks for your suggestions too. I think they will help. I’m glad they’re working for you.

I’ve been reading a lot of books during the past year (the Bible obviously, but also quite a few other books and also listening to a LOT of cds and tapes (Tim Staples, John Martignoni). My problem is I just can’t retain as much as I want to. Maybe I’m trying to understand and remember too much at one time instead of focusing on one topic at a time. Any suggesions?
[/quote]

To reject Christ is just another sin as we are commanded to believe in Him as God’s son. So if rejecting Christ is what sends you to hell, then if we reject Him and then say 10 years later come to Him again are we not forgiven?


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