In 250 A.D., St. Cyprian of Carthage wrote: “Adultery, fraud and manslaughter are ________________.”


a.      bad

b.      expected

c.      reprehensible

d.      mortal sins




THE ANSWER IS……  D…”mortal sins”

St. Cyprian’s mention of mortal sins reflect the common belief of the Early Church that there were degrees of sin.


When reading the Bible, Catholics are struck by the plain and simple teaching that some sins are worse than others. Even in the Old Testament, some sins were designated  worse punishment that others. The New Testament continues this theme.

1 John 5:16:17 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death…” (King James Version)


Some Protestants have introduced the novel interpretation that the “sin unto death” in this verse refers to sin causing physical death (rather than spiritual death), but Catholics counter that the historically Christian interpretation (the interpretation passed down constantly thorough the successors of the apostles) tells us it’s referring to mortal sin.


The concept that one could not lose one’s salvation was not introduced until the time of the Reformers, and not all the Reformers believed it either.




"Adultery, fraud, and manslaughter are mortal sins."  St. Cyprian of Carthage ("Treatise VII," c. 250 A.D.)

"The clergyman who is deposed for mortal sin, shall not be excommunicated."   St. Basil the Great ("Canonical Letter" c. 374 A.D.)

"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" c. 393 A.D.)


http://www.catholic-defense.com/sin.htm (cites Bible and Early Church Fathers on degrees of sin)

http://www.catholic.com/library/Mortal_Sin.asp (Mortal Sin in the Early Church)


The Internet apologist who calls himself Matt1618 writes:

“… every book in the NT, except Philemon, teaches that one can lose salvation..……. No one can come to the conclusion that one can not lose salvation unless one has been brainwashed. The scriptures are clear on that matter. Heb. 10:26-29 for example. In fact Paul says 'do not be deceived' in that matter.” (http://matt1618.freeyellow.com)



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