I am struggling to reconcile a very strong statement from the Council of Trent pronouncing anathema with a very strong statement from the Apostle John pronouncing deception and lie. Both statements seem very clear and diametrically opposed. Many of the other Epistles also allude to a continued presence of sin but John is so clear that I need not muddy the waters.

To remove all further doubt on the subject, the Council of Trent, after other Councils had defined this, declared it anew, pronouncing anathema against those who should presume to think otherwise, or should dare to assert that although sin is forgiven in Baptism, it is not entirely removed or totally eradicated, but is cut away in such a manner as to leave its roots still fixed in the soul. To use the words of the same holy Council, God hates nothing in those who are regenerated; for there remains nothing deserving of condemnation in those who are truly buried with Christ by Baptism unto death, "who walk not according to the flesh" but putting off the old man, and putting on the new, who is created according to God, become innocent, spotless, pure, upright, and beloved of God. - The Catechism of the Council of Trent (First Effect of Baptism)

1 John 1:8: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

The Council of Trent, in this section on baptism, so strongly affirms that sin in a person is utterly remitted and removed that anyone who affirms sin's payment to have been made but sin's presence to remain is pronounced anathema!

The Apostle John so strongly affirms the continued presence of sin in himself and his audience that he declares, "If WE say WE have no sin, WE deceive OURSELVES and the truth is not in US."

Are there any options other than the Apostle John is anathema or the Council of Trent has deceived itself?

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    Are you sure you are understanding the phrasing of the Trent anathema entirely?
    – eques
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 15:21
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    Please link your sourced quote with a link that is in your question body.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 21:52
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    Your Trent quote deals with baptism and sin and not personal sin(s) committed after baptism.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 21:57
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    @KenGraham The section is inclusive of both original and 'actual' sins. "By the generation of the flesh, says St. Augustine in his book On the Baptism of Infants, we contract original sin only; by the regeneration of the Spirit, we obtain forgiveness not only of original, but also of actual sins. St. Jerome also, writing to Oceanus, says: all sins are forgiven in Baptism." Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


The Council of Trent, in this section on baptism, so strongly affirms that sin in a person is utterly remitted

The Council of Trent (Session V, Canon 5) declared

if anyone denies by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only touched in person or is not imputed, let him be anathema.

Trent is here talking specifically about the effects of baptism: remission of original sin (the inherited effect of Adam and Eve's disobedience of God) and that imputed sin is removed ("true and proper nature of sin is not taken away") truly (in other words, not merely isn't "counted"). It is not saying people never fall into sin afterwards (which is what John is referring to). The same Session of Trent goes on to teach that there "remains in the baptized concupiscence of an inclination although this is left to be wrestled with, it cannot harm those who do not consent, but manfully resist by the grace of Jesus Christ"

  • There also seems be confusion between original sin (lack of sanctifying grace) and personal sin with concupiscence. Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 21:54
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    @HenryMalinowski St. Paul calls concupiscence "sin" in Rom 7:23: "But I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind and captivating me in the law of sin that is in my members."
    – Geremia
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 22:31
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    @HenryMalinowski Council of Trent, session 5: "This concupiscence, which the apostle sometimes calls sin (Rom. 6:12; 7:8), the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood it to be called sin, as being truly and properly sin in those born again, but because it is of sin, and inclines to sin."
    – Geremia
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 22:34
  • How can concupiscence remain as "the fuel of sin" when it is also said that "By the Sacrament of faith the soul, entirely freed from sin, adheres to God alone."? What soul experiencing a strong inclination to sin can be called entirely free from it? Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 12:35
  • @MikeBorden where do you find that quote? Trent is talking about sin as an evil act that has been committed, not the inclination towards it.
    – eques
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 13:20

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