Are we saved by baptism alone?

In another thread, David Filmer and I had the following exchange (excerpted here):

I think our disagreement is at least partly semantics. Ultimately, yes, it is God’s grace that saves us; but statements that “we are saved by X alone” tend to be wrong, because in common parliance they exclude the other conditions for salvation, as with the Protestant solas.

It is grace indeed that gives us the power to make salutary acts; but we do make salutary acts. Scripture tells us to work out our salvation (Phil. 2:12), and that “by works a man is justified…” (Jas. 2:24). I don’t think it ever says we are saved by X alone.

To further support my position I refer the reader to the Council of Trent, Session VI, Canons 24, 26, 31, & 32. These canons mainly treat “faith alone,” but I think are applicable also to “baptism alone.”

David, you are especially invited to comment here, but I also open the discussion to anyone else who has some input.

Define saved.

Salvation

[quote=“Original Catholic Encyclopedia”]Salvation, in Greek soteria, in Hebrew yeshu’-ah, has in Scriptural language the general meaning of liberation from straitened circumstances or from other evils and of a translation into a state of freedom and security (I Kings, xi, 13; xiv, 45; II Kings, xxiii, 10; IV Kings, xiii, 17). At times it expresses God’s help against Israel’s enemies, at other times, the Divine blessing bestowed on the produce of the soil (Is., xiv, 8). As sin is the greatest evil, being the root and source of all evil, Sacred Scripture uses the word “salvation” mainly in the sense of liberation of the human race or of individual man from sin and its consequences. We shall first consider the salvation of the human race, and then salvation as it is verified in the individual man.
[/quote]

Yes, I agree. My usual practice is to say “we are saved by Christian Baptism and by nothing else,” which, I think, avoids the protestant baggage. I’m not sure why I departed from my usual convention in that thread.

It is grace indeed that gives us the power to make salutary acts; but we do make salutary acts. Scripture tells us to work out our salvation (Phil. 2:12), and that “by works a man is justified…” (Jas. 2:24). I don’t think it ever says we are saved by X alone.

I don’t claim that works are not an important part of Christian life (because that would be a really stupid thing to say). I only maintain that no Christian is ever required, as a matter of his salvation, to perform any good work. As long as a Baptized Christian avoids (or Confesses) any mortal sin, s/he will be saved.

It’s possible that the failure to perform a work might constitute mortal sin (ie, a sin of omission), given sufficient knowledge and intent. But, had we done the work, it would not have contributed to our salvation (because we were already saved, and you can’t be “more saved”). Works cannot add anything to the person who is already in a state of Grace (nor can they restore someone who is not), but omission of works could possibly remove us from this state.

This is why I said that Baptism + ANYTHING is wrong. If we are in a state of Grace, works don’t add (+) anything. If we’re not in a state of Grace, works won’t help.

Again, I am not saying works are inconsequential. They certainly help predispose us to living as good Christians, thereby reducing occasions for falling into mortal sin. But “helpful” and “necessary” are not the same thing.

There are different states of salvation based upon performance of acts which please God and which God has promised to reward. Rom. 2:6–11, Gal. 6:6–10

*The degree of perfection of the beatific vision is proportioned to each one’s merits.

Council of Florence (1439 A.D.) - **Denzinger 693: *And that the souls of those, who after the reception of baptism have incurred no stain of sin at all, and also those, who after the contraction of the stain of sin whether in their bodies, or when released from the same bodies, as we have said before, are purged, are immediately received into heaven, and see clearly the one and triune God Himself just as He is, yet according to the diversity of merits, one more perfectly than another.
*

The Council of Trent - *Denzinger *842:

*Can. 32. If anyone shall say that the good works of the man justified are in such a way the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him who is justified, or that the one justified by the good works, which are done by him through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ (whose living member he is), does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life (if he should die in grace), and also an increase of glory: let him be anathema [cf. n. 803and 809].

This is true. Our Lord also alluded to this by saying,

In my Father’s house, there are many mansions. [John 14:2]

Clearly the experience of heaven will not be the same for everyone (though nobody will feel unfulfilled).

But that’s not what this thread is about. This thread is about salvation (meaning we get to heaven, no matter what mansion we wind up in, and without regard to how long we might linger in purgatory beforehand).

A lifetime of selfless acts of charity and mercy could certainly affect our experience of heaven (and diminish our experience of purgatory). But a failure to perform such acts will not forsake our salvation - ONLY unconfessed mortal sin can do that. No Catholic is ever required, as a condition of his salvation, to perform good works.

I understand. I was responding to “Works cannot add anything to the person who is already in a state of Grace”.

Yes, that’s what I thought you meant. But, on the off-chance that I was wrong about your meaning, I wanted to be sure that I represented (to the best of my ability) the teaching of the Catholic Church, that we are saved by the Grace of Christian Baptism, and by nothing else.

DavidFilmer #6
No Catholic is ever required, as a condition of his salvation, to perform good works.

Not only does the thread question apply to Catholics alone, but to all the baptised.

The CCC 1273 teaches that baptism “enables and commits Christians to serve God….by the witness of holy lives and practical charity.” [See *Lumen Gentium #10].

What is needed is to “remain faithful to the demands of baptism”, for the **CCC 1274 **emphasises that it is “the faithful Christian who has ’kept the seal’ until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life ‘marked with the sign of faith,’ with his baptismal faith in expectation of the blessed vision of God – the consummation of the faith – and in the hope of resurrection.”

“Faith without works is dead.” [Jam 2:26]

**What do Catholics teach about being saved?
Answer by Fr. John Echert on 09-02-2007 (EWTN): **
You are getting closer to the truth, but I must make further distinctions. The Catholic Church teaches that faith is necessary for salvation but not of itself sufficient. Our Lord Himself commanded that the disciples go forth and baptise the nations, which confers a particular grace of sanctification. This grace of sanctification is necessary for salvation – at least in the case of those who have access to baptism. The good works and repentance which you cite in James are essential, but we say that they proceed from supernatural charity as a motive, and not simply faith. In other words, someone can truly have faith in Christ by which they are drawn to Him and accept Him, but would not necessarily do acts of charity for the motive of faith alone – which is why we typically call them acts of charity, that is, supernatural love.
tinyurl.com/k27zdzs

So salvation depends not only on baptism but on actively doing what Christ requires through that sacrament as taught by His Church, and not as conjectured by anyone else.

In this context I mean “welcomed into heaven after death.”

David, for our purposes here is that close enough for you?

Let’s try an analogy.

Dismas and Gestas fall into a pit. Joshua comes along, ties a rope at the top of the hole, and unfurls the rest of the rope into the hole.

Dismas grabs the rope and climbs out of the hole, but Gestas remains where he is, cursing. “Gestas, save yourself,” Dismas says, to no avail.

Did Dismas save himself? Yes and no. Ultimately it was Joshua who saved him; but the act of tying the rope alone was not enough to save him, else it would have saved Gestas also.

So we can accurately say that Dismas was saved by Joshua or by the rope, but not by the rope alone; it was Joshua using the rope “plus” Dismas’s cooperation.

Yes. As I said in post #6,

This thread is about salvation (meaning we get to heaven, no matter what mansion we wind up in, and without regard to how long we might linger in purgatory beforehand).

Of course, I dislike the temporal reference to purgatory, but I know of no other language to express the concept. But purgatory is really out-of-scope for this discussion.

Abu, I don’t follow your post. Are you agreeing or disagreeing that we are saved by the Grace of Christian Baptism, and by nothing else, and that this is the unequivocal teaching of the Catholic Church?

Are you agreeing or disagreeing that no Catholic is ever required, as a condition of his salvation, to perform any good work?

Your first quote doesn’t seem to relate to the question at all (it has been stipulated that Baptism enables us to perform meritorious acts of charity, and we cannot do so without this Grace). Your second quote clearly establishes (from the Catechism) that we are saved by Christian Baptism. Your third quote is sometimes (erroneously) used by well-intentioned but poorly-informed Catholics to support the heretical idea that we are saved by faith + works (Catholics are accused by others of believing this so often that some Catholics actually believe it themselves. It’s akin to worshiping Mary - a lie told so often that Catholics start to believe it).

DavidFilmer #13
Are you agreeing or disagreeing that we are saved by the Grace of Christian Baptism, and by nothing else, and that this is the unequivocal teaching of the Catholic Church?
Are you agreeing or disagreeing that no Catholic is ever required, as a condition of his salvation, to perform any good work?

(Edited)
“You are clinging to a very narrow view and it comes across as a misrepresentation of the faith”.
(Edited)

And in post #27 I stated: “Fancy misrepresenting the teaching of the Church so badly, as well as insinuating that Archbishop Sheehan and Fr Joseph in Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, with a *Nihil Obstat *and Imprimatur, don’t know the faith.”

I further quoted:
For, as explained in *The Acts of Explicit Faith Necessary for Salvation *in Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine:
“without faith, it is impossible to please God. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” [Heb 11:6].

Further, “there must also be hope, which is expressed in the belief that ’He rewards those who seek Him’. There must also be the holiness that comes from charity. Hebrews also says, ‘Strive….for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.’ ” [Heb 12:14].

“Implicit always in this love or charity is repentance and contrition for sin: Our Lord warns, ‘unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’ ” [Lk 13:3].
Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, Archbishop Sheehan, revised by Fr Peter Joseph, The Saint Austin Press, 2001, p 288].

Baptism is the entrance ramp to the Christian life. The Catechism calls it the “gateway” to the Christian life.

CCC 1213a Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua) . . . .

The dichotomy of “grace” and supernatural faith, hope, and charity that is sometimes presented is a false dichotomy.

We receive supernatural faith, hope, and charity when we are Baptized (CCC 1813), even as infants (St. Thomas tells us [when discussing Confirmation but the same principle applies] we are not to think age of the body as being equivalent to age of the soul).

Supernatural faith, hope, and charity ARE graces! That is WHY they are called “supernatural”.

If a newly Baptized person virtually immediately dies, yes of course he/she will go to Heaven (and even an infant in this situation of immanent death should also be given Confirmation see CCC 1307 and the Eucharist although if they are not given these they will still go to Heaven).

So in that sense, yes a Baptized person will be saved. But there is MORE to the justification equation for most of us.

Once we are justified, we MUST be justified further still. That’s why our justification is a process—a lifelong process.

We MUST be “further justified”. This “further” justification of course depends on our state in life. It is not a legalistic checklist. An adult will have different expectations than a baby. This is part of the reason WHY we are “judged” and not “list-checked”.

Our justification is a moment followed by a lifelong process. And sins of omission not just committing mortal sin, but omitting the faith, hope, or charity we had received at Baptism can have disastrous consequences.

We must cooperate with grace. If we steadfastly refuse to cooperate with grace, we can accept the grace of God we received in vain. This grace will not avail us because of our rejection of it.

2nd CORINTHIANS 6:1 1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.

Please also see Justification: Process or One-Time Deal?

Having been justified we are called to advance from virtue to virtue presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church. This is likely WHY sanctification and justification are so inter-related, that St. Paul can matter of factly remind us we are saved “through sanctification” in a state of grace (“by the Spirit”).

2nd THESSALONIANS 2:13 13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

Faith cooperating with good works, give us an increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and we are further justified.

COUNCIL OF TRENT CHAPTER X
THE INCREASE OF THE JUSTIFICATION RECEIVED

Having, therefore, been thus justified and made the friends and domestics of God,[49] advancing from virtue to virtue,[50] they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day,[51] that is, mortifying the members[52] of their flesh, and presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification,[53] they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works, increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and are further justified, as it is written:

[INDENT]He that is just, let him be justified still;[54] and, Be not afraid to be justified even to death;[55] and again, Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?[/INDENT]

Someone might object and say: “Well someone who is just, let him be justified still more . . . . BUT . . . . it isn’t really necessary. It is an optional item as long as they don’t COMMIT a mortal sin.

But the CCC tells us we “MUST” increase in the Christian life.

CCC 162a,c Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. . . . we must beg the Lord to increase our faith;45 it must be "working through charity," abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.46

The Council of Trent tells us the same thing.

COUNCIL OF TRENT (Chapter XI) But no one, however much justified, should consider himself exempt from the observance of the commandments;

Sins of omission can have severe consequences, not just sins of commission.

MATTHEW 25:31-32a-33, 41-46 31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, . . . 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . . 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Edited)

On the other hand, we cannot stand back and let a misrepresentation like this occur on a public thread in an apologetics forum because it will give the wrong impression to people who don’t know any better.

Well, on this point, I ask you to explain how I have misrepresented anything, considering that I have quoted ONLY from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

And in post #27 I stated: “Fancy misrepresenting the teaching of the Church so badly, as well as insinuating that Archbishop Sheehan and Fr Joseph in Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, with a *Nihil Obstat *and Imprimatur, don’t know the faith.”

Since I could not find that thread after resonable due-dilligence, I have no idea how or why I “insulted” anyone. I quoted the Catechism (which, I believe, also carries a *Nihil Obstat *and Imprimatur)

I asked you a VERY simple question, and I would appreciate your answer. My question was:

Are you agreeing or disagreeing that no Catholic is ever required, as a condition of his salvation, to perform any good work?

I honestly did not perceive your position when I first asked this question in this thread, but I now perceive your position - that CCC 1263 is wrong or incomplete. Now I am asking you to cite your (apparently heretical) idea (and I don’t mean by citing a passage in a book by Father so-and-so, even if that Father happens to be Ludwig Ott (whom, umm, you did not cite)). I mean something promulgated by the Magesterial Office of the Catholic Church, which is the authority that I cited, which contravenes CCC 1263, which I have cited.

In leiu of such a citation (which I know you cannot cite), I am willing to entertain and critique your opinion of why CCC 1263 is in error. I encourage you to open a new thread to challenge the validity of CCC 1263, but I promise to monitor this thread for your response (even beyond my usual limit) if you care (dare) to reply.

David, how about our Lord’s parable of the sheep and the goats?

(Edited)

What is needed is to “remain faithful to the demands of baptism”, for the **CCC 1274 **emphasises that it is “the faithful Christian who has ’kept the seal’ until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life ‘marked with the sign of faith,’ with his baptismal faith in expectation of the blessed vision of God – the consummation of the faith – and in the hope of resurrection.”

**What do Catholics teach about being saved?
Answer by Fr. John Echert on 09-02-2007 (EWTN): **
You are getting closer to the truth, but I must make further distinctions. The Catholic Church teaches that faith is necessary for salvation but not of itself sufficient. Our Lord Himself commanded that the disciples go forth and baptise the nations, which confers a particular grace of sanctification. This grace of sanctification is necessary for salvation – at least in the case of those who have access to baptism. The good works and repentance which you cite in James are essential, but we say that they proceed from supernatural charity as a motive, and not simply faith. In other words, someone can truly have faith in Christ by which they are drawn to Him and accept Him, but would not necessarily do acts of charity for the motive of faith alone – which is why we typically call them acts of charity, that is, supernatural love.
tinyurl.com/k27zdzs

So salvation depends not only on baptism but on actively doing what Christ requires through that sacrament as taught by His Church, and not as conjectured by anyone else.

So be heartened by this:
faith and works
Answer by Bill Bilton on 04-16-2002 (EWTN):

Excerpts:
‘Catholics believe that faith and good works are both necessary for salvation, because such is the teaching of Jesus Christ. What Our Lord demands is ``faith that worketh by charity .’’ (Gal. 5 :6). Read Matthew 25:31-46, which describes the Last Judgment as being based on works of charity.’

‘The Catholic Church does not teach that purely human good works are meritorious for salvation; such works are not meritorious for salvation, according to her teaching. Only those good works performed when a person is in the state of grace – that is, as a branch drawing its spiritual life from the Vine which is Christ (John 15:4-6)–only these good deeds work toward our salvation, and they do so only by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ. These good works, offered to God by a soul in the state of grace (i.e., free of mortal sin, with the Blessed Trinity dwelling in the soul), are thereby supernaturally meritorious because they share in the work and in the merits of Christ. Such supernatural good works will not only be rewarded by God, but are necessary for salvation.

‘St. Paul shows how the neglect of certain good works will send even a Christian believer to damnation: But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.'' (1 Tim. 5:8). Our Lord tells us that if the Master (God) returns and finds His servant sinning, rather than performing works of obedience, Heshall separate him, and shall appoint him his portion with unbelievers.’’ (Luke 12:46).

Furthermore, Catholics know they will be rewarded in Heaven for their good works. Our Lord Himself said: For the Son of man . . . will render to every man according to his works.'' (Matt. 16:27).And whosoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.’’ (Matt. 10:42). Catholics believe, following the Apostle Paul, that every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor.'' (1 Cor. 3:8).For God is not unjust, that he should forget your work, and the love which you have shown in his name, you who have ministered, and do minister to the saints.’’ (Heb. 6:10). ``I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming.’’ (2 Tim. 4:7-8).’

“Justification by faith alone is a new doctrine; it was unheard of in the Christian community before the sixteenth century.”
tinyurl.com/ptfrpop

Gentlemen, I didn’t want the thread to turn into one of these:

:slapfight:

Can we disagree and be polite?

Oh, Oh, I know this one-

We are saved by baptism. But once saved does not mean always saved.

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