Assurance of Salvation, fallacy?

The OSAS doesn’t make sense, because if someone turns away from the faith, then they weren’t saved to begin with. However, anyone could be deceived into believing they are saved, and so any claim that a person is saved can’t be certain because they can turn away from the faith in the future. This is not logical and does not make sense.

I know catholics believe we cannot be infallibly sure of our own salvation. There is no problem here, and makes sense.

However, I came face to face with a protestant minister recently (he works at UMC, although theology wise is a general protestant). He says one can lose his/her salvation but a person can have assurance of his/her salvation when that person has it.

Now my question is, is there some fallacy or illogical aspect that does not make sense in this viewpoint, that one can be certain of one’s salvation but can also lose his/her salvation (similar to how I pointed out how OSAS is illogical). This isn’t necessarily from a scriptural viewpoint, but more from a logical standpoint on whether it makes sense.

St. Paul had great confidence in his salvation toward the end of his life.

For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

But he never took it for granted.


His statement (bolded above) would be correct. The fallacy is that he wont KNOW till his death.


This guy is talking about a warm, fuzzy feeling. And that’s fine.

But the Church teaches that we cannot be absolutely certain if we are in a State of Grace:

For as no pious person ought to doubt the mercy of God, the merit of Christ and the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, so each one, when he considers himself and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension concerning his own grace, since no one can know with the certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God. [Council of Trent, Sixth Session]

i do agree with catholics, in that one shouldn’t say they ‘know’ infallibly, as a matter of faith that they are saved, even while in a state of grace.

but with that said, i tend to think an exact reading of this verse gives more support to those who say you can know…

1 John 5
“13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Hell Kmon.

There is no sure way of knowing you are a “saved” person in the sense that, you’re good to go when it comes to getting to Heaven. Wouldn’t it be nice if God did do that and ya’ know at say your four thousandth Mass one Sunday you heard a booming voice that said “Hey K’mon, that’s it! You’re saved. No more sweatin’ to the oldies that you’re a sinner. Congratulations my son, you’re a shooooin.” and the Church’s bells all started pealing and the folks in the choir started singing your favorite hymn and the Pastor stopped his homily to shake your hand and ask for your blessing so someday he too, might get his blessed assurance.

Okay. Not buying that, huh? I think it might help if you took the “ed” off the word saved and thought of salvation as an on-going process. It doesn’t get to the “ed” part till you are actually in Heaven. Just because you don’t see Frank in his usual pew at Church doesn’t mean he has stopped coming to Church either. He maybe going some place else for a while or sick or maybe he moved. Doesn’t really matter. Go to Church to worship God and keep His Commandment to be there on Sunday, not to find out whose dropped out already.

Sin is what turns folks away from the Church. But we all sin. Once you’ve gotten to RCIA, I suggest you make a solid commitment to learn all about Confession and go as often as you can. That is the Sacrament that will help the most in the sin department and if you frequent it, there is a greater chance that you won’t find reasons to leave. No guarantees though, I’m afraid. Nope. There won’t be any tolling of the Bells or booming voices from Heaven letting you know you got it made. The Pastor may want to shake your hand once in a while. They sometimes like to greet folks as they leave and mingle a bit after Mass is over, so he may block your way in a loving way just to say “Hi. I care. Do you need me for anything?” Shake his hand back and be nice, he’s got a tough job just getting to know everyone’s names.


P.S. I’m a convert and had 1,903,201 questions when I got to RCIA. I still have 807,313 to go.

That assumes the reader understands what he has read exactly as meant by St. John. What if we should misunderstand what is meant by “deadly sin” for example, in verse 16 of the same chapter?


The disciples walking with Jesus knew they were his disciples and with the one who spoke the words of eternal life. Being saved meant being in the company of the King, Jesus. And that would, at the proper time, include heaven and the resurrection.
Judas did not know he was saved, because he was always sneaking away to count his money and take unnoticeable amounts from the money bag. His mind was on his plan, not on Jesus, so he was not “with Jesus” even when with Jesus.

John Martin

I think there is good reason to not take everything in this epistle in the most extreme and absolute sense possible, because St. John writes in a somewhat hyperbolic manner. For example, he says later in the same chapter (1 Jn. 5:18), “We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not,” but of course you would find very few people that hold to some kind of “once saved, always saved” view who believe that saved people never commit any sins whatsoever.

The statement, “you may know you have eternal life,” is contingent upon the condition that the person “believes in the name of the Son of God.” He is repeating what he said earlier: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” However, what St. John has in mind is clearly not mere belief by itself since he also says that whoever sins is not born of God (1 Jn. 3:9).

I would say that we cannot have the infallible knowledge that we are among the predestinate, both because it is possible to be delusional and possible to fall away later, but we can have a reasonable assurance that we are in God’s grace because the criteria are laid out in Scripture. We can doubt our own strength but we cannot doubt God’s faithfulness. We can know that Christ offers eternal life, but it still remains for us to receive it.

This is an important point because Catholics are often criticized for not being able to provide any assurance of salvation. In actuality, it is the other way around. Catholics have the sacraments which are objective signs of grace, and we can look to our own faith and conduct as indicators of whether we are heaven-bound. If we are not conscious of any mortal sin, we are probably good. If we are in an adulterous relationship, we need to end that and go to confession. Assuming a well-formed conscience, we can be quite certain of our salvation. On the other hand, if you belive in a Calvinistic idea of justification, if you fall away (by whatever standards you happen to have), that means that no matter how much you thought you believed, your whole Christian life was a total lie. There was no grace whatsoever. That’s quite a nightmare if you stop to think about it. Most don’t.

For what that minister says it is hard to know exactly what he means without asking him more questions. At the very least, it is impossible to have infallible assurance because we could also be delusional. Even if you supposed that the elect somehow had infallible knowledge that they were elect, the reprobate could also think they had the infallible knowledge that they were elect, and so believing you are elect is not sufficient to be elect.

Calvin himself in his Institutes (III.2.11) talks about those who by all outward appearances have grace and who are inwardly convicted of their salvation, but in reality are delusional.

I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election; and yet the difficulty is easily solved: for though none are enlightened into faith, and truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Should it be objected, that believers have no stronger testimony to assure them of their adoption, I answer, that though there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are enabled to cry, Abba, Father. Therefore, as God regenerates the elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate. Meanwhile, believers are taught to examine themselves carefully and humbly, lest carnal security creep in and take the place of assurance of faith. We may add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it is correctly said, that 479the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.

2 Peter 1:5-11
5 For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election,** for if you do this you will never fall;** 11 so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Just to be clear, the protestant minister says one can be infallibly sure of one’s salvation at any time the person has his/her salvation while on earth (to give context, he asked me if I know if I am saved now, and if I said no, then I wasn’t saved :ehh:).
My question isn’t so much about why this is wrong. I already understand the Catholic teaching, and I agree with it. It makes perfect sense.

My question is whether there is any illogical aspect of this thinking of salvation of this protestant minister, that it does not hold up to scrutiny in making sense. I gave an example of how OSAS does not logically hold up in the opening post, and I am just wondering if anyone can point to why this pastor’s viewpoint of salvation is also illogical on its own (not necessarily through scripture) but through reasoning.

The reason you gave in the OP still applies to the Methodist pastor’s view because someone just as someone can believe that they have infallible knowledge that they are “eternally secure” in delusion, they can also believe that they they have infallible knowledge that they are saved at the time being in delusion.

Calvin was an attorney, and reasoned logicallly throughout many volumes of his Institutes to prove that his perception of the Scriptures was the correct and logical one.It seems to commend itself to a great many logical and rational people.

It is quite a departure from the Apostolic faith, but that does not concern them, since they don’t know what that faith was, they don’t realize how far this perspective departs from it. I think one of the best cures for OSAS is the reading of the early Fathers. No one in the whole history of the Church had ideas like this until Calvin.

St. Paul specifically rules out “assurance of salvation” here:

[quote=Bible]1 Cor. 4:3 It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; 4 I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord.

Only the Lord can issue judgment, not us, even of ourselves.

I agree. I always wonderered how the Calvanists reconcile this, and other verses that indicate the same. One Calvanist here on CAF told me he knew he was saved, but he was just being humble.:rolleyes:

as i usually approach it "i have a high degree of certainty I’m saved, but i’m not the one who decides

that’s usually how i approach it, as st paul says. “i’m not the one who decides”.

though taking that verse literally, and the St John verse literally, you could pick them apart enough to say “i know i am saved, even though it is not me that judges me but God”.

How very Catholic of you. :smiley:

Being saved requires a “saver” (Savior), who in this context utilizes an “administrator of saving” (ordinarily a priest or deacon, extraordinarily any Christian). The administrator saves in the name of the saver, so that the one saved is saved. The condition of being saved is the prerogative of the saver, not the one saved.

Therefore, the one saved has to depend on the intent of the saver for answering “am I saved?” The saver (via His administrators) let us know where we stand, when they announce that they give us the Holy Spirit when they baptize us / confirm us in that Spirit, when they announce that if we continue in sin we have no inheritance in the Kingdom, when they receive us at confession, grant us forgiveness and penance, when they feed us at the altar with the Sacrament, etc. So, the one saved knows his condition by hearing and obeying the word of the Saver via his administrators (“anyone who hears you hears me”).

Being “saved” is a relationship with the “Saver” administered through his ministers. In that relationship you have all that the Saver has. Don’t try to figure out if you see life in yourself, instead hear the one who has “the words of everlasting life”, and that he likes you and your company.

John Martin

(being “saved” in the book of Acts did not mean “going to heaven”, it meant going through the naturalization process into the Kingdom established with Jesus - being baptized so that you were now one of the People, a Citizen of the Kingdom, a sojourner in the world, but not of the world.)

It wasn’t a done deal for St Paul either.

**But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.** Phil 3:7-14

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