Not having grown up in the Roman Catholic tradition, I was always puzzled by the whole idea of mortal versus venial sins. What is all of that about, and where is it in the Bible, (or is it)?
Well, it all stems back to one of the more difficult passages in the Bible to interpret:
- If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. (I John 5:16-17 ESV)
Bible scholars have been scratching their heads for hundreds of years on this one. Who is his “brother?” What are some examples of the different types of “sin“? What is meant by “death?” In other words, what in the world is John talking about here?
Spiritual Anxiety: Mortal vs. Venial Sins
Why are Christians so hesitant about talking about hell? Is it because we are not really sure what hell even is? A new edition of a Zondervan Counterpoints book, Four Views on Hell, provides some help, looking at the Bible for answers.
It is rare when a Christian mega-church pastor winds up somehow on the cover of TIME magazine. But when a story about (now former) pastor Rob Bell was plastered on the front of TIME five years ago in 2011, people took notice.
As the mind behind the popular Nooma series of videos, Rob Bell had written a controversial book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. In the book, Bell raises a lot of provocative questions about the classic Christian doctrine of hell, but he does not provide very firm answers. In his engaging and winsome way, Bell believes that when people experience rough times in this earthly life, such experiences can be truly hell. Who can argue with that? But as to whether or not hell exists in the next life, Bell is not so sure.
Uh-oh. There are yellow flags here.
As there should be.