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11 Dec 2014 Q&A Comments (7)

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What happened to those who committed a mortal sin before the sacrament of confession was instituted?

Full Question

What happened to those who committed a mortal sin before the sacrament of confession was instituted?


They would have needed perfect contrition for their souls to be cleansed of mortal sin. Perfect contrition is having sorrow over sins that is motivated by love for God rather than the fear of punishment only. Since God is both perfectly merciful and perfectly just, they could still obtain the forgiveness of sins and the purification of the soul.



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Wait a minute. Let’s take masturbation, for example. It did not become a mortal sin until the RCC came into existence. Or abortion. In Numbers 5, Bible God provides his own recipe for abortion, and anyone who participated in his procedure would have committed a mortal sin according to the RCC, but didn’t know it, because they were doing what God told them to do. (Induce miscarriage by consuming e-coli based poison to test the fidelity of a wife). Mortal sins did not come into existence until the RCC began to classify sins in this manner. How can it be said that there even were any “mortal sins” prior to the advent of the Church? The only place in the bible that the two words even appear together in the same sentence is: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” Romans 6:12. There’s little, if any, biblical support for the “mortal sin” concept.

    “They would have needed perfect contrition for their souls to be cleansed of mortal sin.” Not like us. We can waltz on down to church on a Saturday evening and get the sacrifice of Confession and trot back home to start with a fresh slate. They had no such mechanism, yet this answer says they are being held to a far higher standard. How is that just and fair?

    What I think the answer discreetly says here, is that most people went to one of the other three Hell’s after Jesus opened the gates of Sheol and woke everyone up, because everyone commits so-called mortal sins and few of us have time to properly beg forgiveness with “perfect contrition” in a church-sanctioned way, prior to death. What the author is saying here, it seems to me, is that almost all of them went to Hell. Think about that. Sheol was not a place of punishment, it was a place of permanent unconsciousness. The Jews believed at the end of time they would be wakened and judged – not for what they believed, but for what they did. When Jesus came, he woke up everyone in Sheol early, opened the gates and a handful went to heaven while most of the others must have gone to one of the other three Hells. (Gehenna, Hades or Tartarus), because surely few would have met the condition of “perfect contrition.” So you’re wakened from a permanent sleep, quickly found to have a number of mortal sins, and promptly sent off to hellfire. And this is the good news of Jesus? Not for those who already died… I’m guessing the majority of them would have preferred to sleep forever in Sheol. Let Bible God do as the bible tells us, and punish one’s offspring “to the third and fourth generation” for our sins. I suppose that’s more just than sending us to eternal torment.

    Bible God allowed the people in Sheol, those who came before Jesus, to be born, to be uninformed about what a mortal sin was to begin with, and denied the sacrament of Confession. In fact it wasn’t till the mythical Exodus that He even told them what the rules were. He did this and must have known, if He’s omniscient, that practically everyone born before Jesus was going to one of the Hell’s that opened up after Jesus came. Ouch. That does not speak very well of Him, if you ask me. He had the opportunity to educate his people and remove original sin (now debunked by evolution) after drowning everyone in the mythical flood, but didn’t do so, choosing instead to let all those people stack up in Sheol so he could send them to one of the other (punishing) Hell’s when Jesus came to save those who believe, say and do the right things.

    None of this was what Paul preached. He thought the end of the world was imminent and that those who believed in Jesus would go straight to heaven and bypass being judged like everyone else. He was wrong. Jesus did not return, so they created a new religion. What they came up with sure seems convoluted to me.

  2. Mike H Reply

    The scripture clearly state there is sin that leads to death and sin that does not. The scriptures clearly state that those who commit these sins will not inherit the kingdom of God. The scriptures repeatedly from the old to the new testament speak of culpability of guilt. The church did not invent mortal sin. It is found all over scripture

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      You might want to read the OT, if you have not done so. The “hell” of the OT, was Sheol, and everyone went there, good and bad alike. Read Ecclesiastes for example. There were no mortal sins as invented by the RCC. The word Sheol means “grave,” “dead,” or permanent unconsciousness, depending on the context in which it was used. It was not a place of punishment, until the (forged?) book of Daniel, when it began to take on some of the characteristics of Hades, through influence from the Greeks. Hades of course is the brother of Zeus and Poseidon, so that Greek hell is clearly pagan in nature. The Church translated the words Sheol, Gehenna (Jerusalem town dump referred to allegorically by Jesus), Hades, and Tartarus (bottom level of Hades reserved for Satan and his demons) to the pagan word “Hell,” but what we think of as Hell today is probably due more to Dante’s “Inferno” and Milton’s “Paradise Lost” than anything else.
      There was no concept of an eternal (the original word means ‘of an age’), torment until after the “good news” of Jesus. It’s all made up, people… Who could worship a being that would send anyone for any reason to eternal torment – billions and trillions of years, despite having lived only a few short decades here? Even the aborted, miscarried or infants who died before baptism are destined for this imaginary place, according to the RCC. It’s despicable and inhumane. There is no greater evil imaginable. Either God, if such exists, is the epitome of evil, or the RCC is, for having invented Hell and using it to terrify people for centuries. Take a deep breath. Sin did not enter the world through one man (Adam) as Paul suggested because there was no Adam. According to DNA evidence, we did not descend from a particular pair of early humans, but rather from a larger, more diverse pool of earlier primates, who we can thank for the diversity in our DNA, without which we probably would not have survived as a species. Heck, Paul had no knowledge of a physical Jesus, and surely thought of him as a celestial god, similar to others of the time. Jesus didn’t even become human until the gospel of Mark.

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