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Eric None wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am not Catholic but if your Church is right, I wouldn't want to be one.

There are a lot of things that seem wrong to me about Catholic thinking. One is, Baptists say that if you proclaim that you are a Christian, then use God's name in vain, you sin every time. The Bible seems to support this in Proverbs 30:9.

  • If every time you sin, you use God's name in vain, (which would be a mortal sin), how do you explain that there can be both: mortal and venial sins?


  { If you sin using God's name in vain, (a mortal sin), how can there be two types of sins? }

Bob replied:


Thanks for your question.

I'm not sure I fully understand the question but here goes. Catholics believe that everything we do against God's will is a sin, but some are worse than others. Mortal sins are the ones that really put your soul at risk. The distinction can be seen in 1 John 5:16-17.

16 If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

1 John 5:16-17

John was writing about Christians who see other Christians committing grave sins. He called sins that kill the soul deadly, we call that mortal.

Baptists will tell you that once you are saved there is no sin that is deadly to you, in other words you can't lose your salvation.

Catholics believe that salvation is a process that God fully completes when he gets us to Heaven. Until then, you can turn your back on God and walk away from the gift. There is plenty of scriptural evidence to support this viewpoint. It does not make God unfaithful if one of us turns away. He is never coercive. He will do everything He can; He gave His only Son, so now we must open ourselves to His grace and walk, the walk. You can lose it if you want, because you deny God the access to your heart.

Just for more clarification on the context of the Scripture above (read the whole text of 1 John). John clearly sees the deadly sins like sticking your middle finger at God. He doesn't think it proper to tell people they must pray for those individuals — he would rather spend our prayer time on those who struggle but are open to God's grace.

If a Baptist tells you that John is not talking about Christians, ask him why John says, if you see your brother sinning — a term referencing other Christians. The sins that are not deadly, as John calls them, are what Catholics call venial sins. They are signs that we need God and are far from perfect, but not so serious as to kill the soul. (There is a lot more on this, but I want to keep this short.)

Using the Lord's name in vain is obviously sin, and it breaks a commandment, but I imagine that, in most cases, God doesn't consider it a mortal sin. I don't think people even have a clue what they are saying half the time, and God is not vindictive. He judges hearts; He is not an ego maniac or hung up on petty stuff. If God made every sin a mortal sin, we wouldn't have a chance.

Salvation is the work of God in us to help us overcome these shortfalls and become truly His sons and daughters in the fullest sense. He is not going to scream penalty at every mistake, but rather He will inform our conscience so that we might become reverent and chose to follow Him more closely. It is a process where Salvation and sanctification are joined together in one organic act of God, according to our consent.

Jesus chose to hang out and dine with sinners and people who didn't always behave well and follow customs, manners, or other social norms. That didn't deter Him. He entered their world so as to love them and bring them closer to the truth. Someone who takes the Lord's name in vain needs to be loved into the deeper presence of God's love, so they will begin to see the irreverence of speaking in such a way and desire to change from within.

That is how being a good example can change someone.


Bob Kirby

Eric replied:


  • Do you mind if I ask a lot of questions?

I want the Catholic religion to be the right one but, for me, there are a lot of things in the Bible that seem to disagree with the Church's teaching. One question I have is from 1 John 5:16.

Baptists think that sin unto death means a physical death and not a spiritual one.

  • Is there any way to know if it's a physical death or not?
  • Also, why does St. John in his Epistle say not to pray for those in deadly sin?


Bob replied:


Context of the passage itself explains the correct meaning: eternal life versus eternal death.

John is talking about eternal life all throughout this context. For example, in verse 16 he says God will give life to one for whom you are praying (those that are already physically alive, though weak in their spiritual life).

It does seem peculiar that John says not to pray for those in deadly sin, but that is probably because there is some obstinacy there. Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust from the place where people rejected the gospel (Matthew 10:14-15), so in like manner, if someone isn't listening, perhaps their heart is hardened. It is not uncommon today to see people who call themselves Christian to be living in sin without repentance. It is also a common theme in Paul's writing as well.

If you read all of John, he doesn't have a lot of soft words for those who put on a show, call themselves Christian, but fail to walk, the walk, or humble themselves when they falter.

Christianity is an all or nothing proposition: if you are to follow Christ you don't get to make up the rules along the way. You must count the cost before proceeding.

This is why the Catholic Church has followed Christ's teaching most closely on divorce and marriage, reception of Communion, and the like. You can't live in sin and say you are in the state of grace. You must show the first marriage was sacramentally flawed to marry without committing adultery.

That is one example of an issue that is rampant among many who would call themselves Christian, among both Protestants and Catholics.


Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Hi Eric,

You said:

  • If every time you sin you use God's name in vain, (which would be a mortal sin), how do you explain how there can be both mortal and venial sins?

For a sin to be mortal it must include all three conditions:

  1. It must be a grave matter.
  2. We need sufficient time to reflect upon the sin we are about to commit and then must make the decision to sin anyway.
  3. We must give full consent of the will to commit the sin.

You said:

  • Do you mind if I ask a lot of questions?

You may ask as many questions as you want, as long as you are seriously interested in what we believe as Catholics. So we can better address each question, we require you limit each e-mail to 4 to 5 questions. Once you are satisfied with understanding those answers, you can ask 4 to 5 more in another e-mail.

These are questions we don't answer:

You said:
I want the Catholic religion to be the right one but, to me, there are a lot of things in the Bible that seem to disagree with the Church's teaching.

Since it is was the Catholic Church alone that gave us the Bible, there is no way the Bible can disagree with the Church's teachings unless you have a misinterpretation of specific Biblical passages like many Protestants do.

The Catholic Church canonized the Bible in 382 A.D. at the Council of Rome. Before 382 A.D. there was no agreed-upon collection of biblical books among all Christians at that time. It was the bishops of the Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, who decided which books were truly part of the Inspired Word of God, and which were heretical books.

Every time a well-intended Protestant opens their Bible they are implicitly saying:

I trust the decision of the Catholic bishops, guided by the Holy Spirit, at the Council of Rome in 382 A.D. as to which books are in the Bible I am reading today!

Although, there are many well-intended Protestants, a Protestant Bible Study is not going to give you a correct, Catholic interpretation of the Scriptures that the Church canonized at this council.

You see, the Church came before the Bible, not the other way around.

This can be shown in the Bible where it says, the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15), (not the Bible).

To understand what the Church teaches and why, you have to understand that the Word of God is not solely the Written Word but both the Written and Oral Tradition that has been passed down to us by Jesus to the Apostles from generation to generation.

There are many Scripture passages that directly or indirectly support Catholic teachings. The following web page should help to show you such support for Catholic teachings.


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
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The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.