Sin after baptism in early Christianity

In the early Church Christians were theoretically supposed to be sinless after baptism which is an idea present in the New Testament (Romans 5:6, Romans 6:22, 1 John 3:6-9).

Only those who remained in a sanctified state and followed the commandments would be saved, but those who fell back into sin were under God's judgment which is again also reflected in the New Testament (Romans 8:13, Hebrews 6:4-6).

Early Christians came to different conclusions about how, or if, it was possible to restore somebody who had committed a grave sin after baptism.

Within Proto-Orthodox circles ideas about penance were developed. Tertullian, for example, believed that via confession and penance, one could satisfy the wrath of God, and that the greatest way to do this was via martyrdom where not only would God's wrath be satisfied, but the act would be a supererogatory one that made God a debtor to the martyr owing him a reward in heaven.

Cyprian of Carthage further developed this idea which would later lead to the Roman Catholic doctrine on the treasury of merit. For him, the merits of the martyrs could be applied to carnal Christians that had lapsed from the faith and desired readmittance as a form of vicarious satisfaction. Later on this thought was also extended to the sufferings of confessors and the merits obtained through that to be applied to the faithful that had fallen.

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  1. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Some more conservative Proto-Orthodox took an even stricter viewpoint which would show up in Novatianism and later on Donatism where those who had lapsed or apostatized from the faith under Roman persecution could not be readmitted back into the Church. The Shepherd of Hermas written in the 2nd century allows for only one repentance for a major sin committed after baptism which was to be followed by a penance and that this was only valid within a certain time limit (Hermas Vision 2 Ch. 2)

    Other groups, like the Valentinians, came to hold a different perspective. Valentinians made a distinction between pneumatic (spiritual) Christians and psychic (natural) Christians. For the Valentinian, the pneumatic Christians were counted among the elect, it was believed that the truly elect indeed could not commit a major sin after baptism and that it would be these who would persevere until the end. For the Valentinian Gnostics, the Proto-Orthodox were psychic Christians, who continued to rely on the Law for salvation. Valentinians believed that while the Proto-Orthodox did good works to obtain salvation, the elect among the Valentinians simply did good works as a result of their assured salvation. They did not need to follow the commandments, it was already in their nature to do so as spiritual beings from the pleroma.

  2. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Of course, early Christian doctrine on forgiveness of sin is a response to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. You can't keep the scam running though if everyone is committing mortal sins after baptism.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Elaborate?

  3. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >which is an idea present in the New Testament
    No it isn't
    >which is again also reflected in the New Testament
    No it isn't
    >Proto-Orthodox
    There is no such thing, this is part of the mythology of secular academia

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      No arguments. Amazing.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Also no errors.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Still not an argument.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >No it isn't
      >If we deliberately go on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins remains, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume all adversaries. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think one deserves to be punished who has trampled on the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
      >Christcucks and not reading their own book
      Name a better duo!

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        This scripture is in the context of israelites denying the Lord and returning to pharisaical religion, which is the object of the whole book. The author's intent is not to contradict what he just said about the perfection of the propitiation, but he is speaking of the curse on apostates. Not that I expect angry atheists to be capable of exegesis

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          You didn't do exegesis, all you did was avoid the plain meaning of the passage with a non-response. But anyway it is factually true that one of the major debates in the early Church was about how major/grave sins done after baptism could be forgiven and it would be anachronistic to inject current Catholic-Protestant debates about atonement back into the early Church.

          Tertullian, who was of the stricter party of the Proto-Orthodox especially after becoming a Monatist, writes:

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >You didn't do exegesis
            I didn't say I did
            >avoid the plain meaning of the passage
            It is not the plain meaning of the passage. I interpret this book with the same respect I interpret your words. It is not reasonable to assume the author was attempting to contradict the immediately preceding passage, nor to interpret him out of context.
            >non-response
            Yes, this is.
            >it would be anachronistic to inject current Catholic-Protestant debates about atonement back into the early Church
            I don't recall doing this
            >Proto-Orthodox
            There is still no such thing

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >I didn't say I did
            You implied you did.
            >It is not the plain meaning of the passage. I interpret this book with the same respect I interpret your words. It is not reasonable to assume the author was attempting to contradict the immediately preceding passage, nor to interpret him out of context.
            Nothing about what you said somehow refutes the idea that this passages speaks about the possibility of no repentance after initial salvation and I don't know why you think it does. It's plain that this is the meaning and even if you don't think it is that interpretation would still make sense in the context of Hebrew's theology about the atonement and on top of that his talk of there being no "repentance" is more than just an off the cuff remark about it but probably more technical as the phrase was used by early Christians in the context of there being a first repentance (in baptism) and possibly a second one if a major sin was committed after baptism if we look for external factors here to help better interpret the meaning.
            >Yes it is.
            Nice so you admit you have no argument.
            >I don't recall doing this
            You obviously have a theological commitment.
            >Proto-Orthodox
            Yes there was.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          You have no understanding of anything at all. You are truly a blind sheep. God have mercy on your soul.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >[10] From the Epistle also of John they forthwith cull (a proof). It is said: "The blood of His Son purifieth us utterly from every sin."240 Always then, and in every form, we will sin, if always and from every sin He utterly purifies us; or else, if not always, not again after believing; and if not from sin, not again from fornication. [11] But what is the point whence (John) has started? He had predicated "God" to be "Light," and that "darkness is not in Him," and that "we lie if we say that we have communion with Him, and walk in darkness."241 "If, however," he says, "we walk in the light, we shall have communion with Him, and the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord purifieth us utterly from every sin."242 [12] Walking, then, in the light, do we sin? and, sinning in the light, shall we be utterly purified? By no means. For he who sins is not in the light, but in darkness. Whence, too, he points out the mode in which we shall be utterly purified from sin----(by) "walking in the light," in which sin cannot be committed. Accordingly, the sense in which he says we "are utterly purified" is, not in so far as we sin, but in so far as we do not sin. [13] For, "walking in the light," but not having communion with darkness, we shall act as they that are "utterly purified; "sin not being quite laid down, but not being wittingly committed. For this is the virtue of the Lord's blood, that such as it has already purified from sin, and thenceforward has set "in the light," it renders thenceforward pure, if they shall continue to persevere walking in the light. [14]

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            > "But he subjoins," you say, "If we say that we have not sin, we are seducing ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, faithful and just is He to remit them to us, and utterly purify us from every unrighteousness."243 [15] Does he say "from impurity? "(No): or else, if that is so, then (He "utterly purifies" us) from "idolatry" too. But there is a difference in the sense. For see yet again: "If we say," he says, "that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."244 [16] All the more fully: "Little children, these things have I written to you, lest ye sin; and if ye shall have sinned, an Advocate we have with God the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and, He is the propitiation for our sins."245 "According to these words," you say, "it will be admitted both that we sin, and that we have pardon." [17] What, then, will become (of your theory), when, proceeding (with the Epistle), I find something different? For he affirms that we do not sin at all; and to this end he treats at large, that he may make no such concession; setting forth that sins have been once for all deleted by Christ, not subsequently to obtain pardon; in which statement the sense requires us (to apply the statement) to an admonition to chastity.

            > [18] "Every one," he says, "who hath this hope, maketh himself chaste, because He too is chaste. Every one who doeth sin, doeth withal iniquity;246 and sin is iniquity.247 And ye know that He hath been manifested to take away sins"----henceforth, of course, to be no more incurred, [19] if it is true, (as it is,) that he subjoins, "Every one who abideth in Him sinneth not; every one who sinneth neither hath seen nor knoweth Him. Little children, let none seduce you. Every one who doeth righteousness is righteous, as He withal is righteous. He who doeth sin is of the devil, inasmuch as the devil sinneth from the beginning. For unto this end was manifested the Son of God, to undo the works of the devil:" [20] for He has "undone" them withal, by setting man free through baptism, the "handwriting of death" having been "made a gift of" to him:248 and accordingly, "he who is being born of God doeth not sin, because the seed of God abideth in him; and he cannot sin, because he hath been born of God. Herein are manifest the sons of God and the sons of the devil."249 [21] Wherein? except it be (thus): the former by not sinning, from the time that they were born from God; the latter by sinning, because they are from the devil, just as if they never were born from God? But if he says, "He who is not righteous is not of God,"250 how shall he who is not modest again become (a son) of God, who has already ceased to be so?

            (Tertullian: On Modesty)

            All we have left from history is pseuds misunderstanding things.
            I suppose that will be the legacy of this website as well.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          > "But he subjoins," you say, "If we say that we have not sin, we are seducing ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, faithful and just is He to remit them to us, and utterly purify us from every unrighteousness."243 [15] Does he say "from impurity? "(No): or else, if that is so, then (He "utterly purifies" us) from "idolatry" too. But there is a difference in the sense. For see yet again: "If we say," he says, "that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."244 [16] All the more fully: "Little children, these things have I written to you, lest ye sin; and if ye shall have sinned, an Advocate we have with God the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and, He is the propitiation for our sins."245 "According to these words," you say, "it will be admitted both that we sin, and that we have pardon." [17] What, then, will become (of your theory), when, proceeding (with the Epistle), I find something different? For he affirms that we do not sin at all; and to this end he treats at large, that he may make no such concession; setting forth that sins have been once for all deleted by Christ, not subsequently to obtain pardon; in which statement the sense requires us (to apply the statement) to an admonition to chastity.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          > [18] "Every one," he says, "who hath this hope, maketh himself chaste, because He too is chaste. Every one who doeth sin, doeth withal iniquity;246 and sin is iniquity.247 And ye know that He hath been manifested to take away sins"----henceforth, of course, to be no more incurred, [19] if it is true, (as it is,) that he subjoins, "Every one who abideth in Him sinneth not; every one who sinneth neither hath seen nor knoweth Him. Little children, let none seduce you. Every one who doeth righteousness is righteous, as He withal is righteous. He who doeth sin is of the devil, inasmuch as the devil sinneth from the beginning. For unto this end was manifested the Son of God, to undo the works of the devil:" [20] for He has "undone" them withal, by setting man free through baptism, the "handwriting of death" having been "made a gift of" to him:248 and accordingly, "he who is being born of God doeth not sin, because the seed of God abideth in him; and he cannot sin, because he hath been born of God. Herein are manifest the sons of God and the sons of the devil."249 [21] Wherein? except it be (thus): the former by not sinning, from the time that they were born from God; the latter by sinning, because they are from the devil, just as if they never were born from God? But if he says, "He who is not righteous is not of God,"250 how shall he who is not modest again become (a son) of God, who has already ceased to be so?

          (Tertullian: On Modesty)

  4. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Have you taken into account what Paul says in Romans 7?

    "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
    For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
    Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
    I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
    For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
    But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
    O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
    I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
    (Romans 7:18-25)

    I think that would explain all of these other passages. According to the Bible, when we die in this life we lose our earthly bodies which were part of the fallen world. And according to Paul that is the only part of the Christian believer in this life that remains with the capacity to sin. In other words, as soon as their earthly body dies, they will never sin again because that is the only part of them that had the capacity to do so after they became believers.

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