Assurance of Salvation

Do Roman Catholics think that those who believe in ‘assurance of salvation,’ also believe they have a license to sin?

Not me. I just don’t think one can know if he is eternally saved. Or, I don’t think one can know what he is or is not going to do tomorrow or in an unknown circumstance that has not yet occurred.


If by assurance of salvation you mean that once one has accepted Jesus the belief is that he will be saved forever, OSAS, as it’s referred to here and also in protestantism, then my answer would be, from my observation, yes. This is a common misconception.

I’d also say that even in protestantism grace if very much misunderstood. Many believe that the grace movement gives a license to sin, as you put it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. People who understand the grace of God and the goodness of God, do not WANT to sin.

OTOH, you might mean something by assurance of salvation that I may not be familiar with.

I’m still wrestling with the idea, those who believe have been saved have never committed a mortal sin since they made their affirmation of faith. They truly must be saints…

It’s sort of a convoluted doctrine. They believe that one who is saved 1) knows they’re saved, and 2) will tend to lead a life of holiness as the Holy Spirit indwells and sanctifies them. But if one one falls into sin or doubt persistently then of course their salvation is in doubt. In the end no one can know with 100% certainty, except God, alone, whose names are written in the Book of Life and whose are not. Only extremists believe that one can sin wantonly and still be saved.

You’re right in that you cannot know what you’ll do tomorrow, but you can be sure of your salvation at this moment.

I also do not believe in OSAS, but that’s not what the OP was asking. He was asking a catholic conception, and you must agree that most caholics take this to mean that one could sin indiscriminantly. As do some protestants.

Not only is the doctrine convoluted, it’s not biblical.

However, I do wish we could understand it correctly. Could I change your number 1 and 2 a bit?

They believe that one is saved.
They will tend to lead a holy life. (as we all do who know the Lord)
They fall into sin.
They don’t lose their salvation.

In other words, they don’t think they could EVER lose their salvation, thus OSAS. Which brings many, such as catholics, to understand that the believers of that doctrine can just go ahead and sin - when in reality they do NOT believe this. Just that their sins are “covered”.

Are we saying the same thing?


In Catholicism we have assurance without over-confidence or presumption; humility, alone, should preclude that. Simply believing that we’re justified/saved is not enough to make it so:. This is from Trent session 6, CHAPTER IX:

**Against the vain confidence of Heretics.

But, although it is necessary to believe that sins neither are remitted, nor ever were remitted save gratuitously by the mercy of God for Christ’s sake; yet is it not to be said, that sins are forgiven, or have been forgiven, to any one who boasts of his confidence and certainty of the remission of his sins, and rests on that alone; seeing that it may exist, yea does in our day exist, amongst heretics and schismatics; and with great vehemence is this vain confidence, and one alien from all godliness, preached up in opposition to the Catholic Church. But neither [Page 37] is this to be asserted,-that they who are truly justified must needs, without any doubting whatever, settle within themselves that they are justified, and that no one is absolved from sins and justified, but he that believes for certain that he is absolved and justified; and that absolution and justification are effected by this faith alone: as though whoso has not this belief, doubts of the promises of God, and of the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ. For even as no pious person ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, even so each one, when he regards himself, and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension touching his own grace; seeing that no one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.**


**That a rash presumptuousness in the matter of Predestination is to be avoided.

No one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the secret mystery of divine predestination, as to determine for certain that he is assuredly in [Page 40] the number of the predestinate; as if it were true, that he that is justified, either cannot sin any more, or, if he do sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance; for except by special revelation, it cannot be known whom God hath chosen unto Himself.**

I have met both kinds, some who believe that, no matter what they do or don’t do, they will be saved, and then I have met more devout Calvanists that believe they are obligated to live a very holy live because they are saved.

This captures it well, I think. Persons who really understand God’s grace (and some of them do adhere to OSAS) believe that their fallen nature has been replaced by a spiritual nature that should not WANT to sin. I think these OSAS people are closer in practical theology to Catholicism.

I have heard them say that, if a person falls away, that could also mean they were never really saved in the first place.

One of the problems is that if one believes in “final perseverance” they end up with the cart ahead of the horse. All who will be saved will, of course, persevere. But can one know for sure that they’re numbered among the saved/elect to begin with? The answer is “no” so the doctrine is rather moot, until judgement day at least.

Thank God I’m a heretic…for “I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to him against that day.” “If any man sins, he has an advocate before the Fathef, Jesus Christ the Righteous.”

Most Protestants do not believe in “eternal security”, “perseverance of the saints”, “OSAS”, I find it strange that Catholics here tend to focus on a doctrine most of us do not hold with and always bring g it up as “proof” our understanding of grace is marred.

On the Co trary, perhaps our understanding of grace isn’t wrong or lacking, but your understanding g
That most of us do not believe OSAS.:shrug:

Thank God I’m a heretic…for “I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to him against that day.” “If any man sins, he has an advocate before the Fathef, Jesus Christ the Righteous.”

Most Protestants do not believe in “eternal security”, “perseverance of the saints”, “OSAS”, I find it strange that Catholics here tend to focus on a doctrine most of us do not hold with and always bring g it up as “proof” our understanding of grace is marred.

On the Co trary, perhaps our understanding of grace isn’t wrong or lacking, but your understanding .that most of us do not believe OSAS.:shrug:

There are many different theologies that have arisen due mainly to faulty understanding of scripture. Many Protestants do believe in the doctrines mentioned, while others do not. Many, many Protestants live in any case as Catholics generally do, with a guarded assurance. Sounds like you may not be a heretic after all. :slight_smile:

Trent was addressing the different teachings coming from the Reformers, teachings which have shaped Protestantism to this day.

I’m not a fan of Augustine. I like Aquinas. Why? Because he agrees with me?
No. Because he agrees more with what I read in the bible.

Augustine, on the other hand, did change his mind on a couple of things. Can’t remember both, but one was where evil comes from. He decided, at the end of his life, that really no one can know. And THIS I do agree with.

Your whole post sounds VERY calvinistic. I know that catholics also believe in predestination but not in the same way as calvin did. The easiest way to explain it the way we understand it would be to say that God foreknew who would choose to be with Him and He predestined those to be saved by the blood of Christ.

Also, Fra’ Lorenzo, A benedictine brother who reads not only the bible but books galore and will always give you an honest answer, has specifically stated that if we’re at the foot of the cross, we can be sure of our salvation. But what does being at the foot of the cross mean? Humility is one of the things, as you mentioned. Living in the Kindgdom of God, which starts here, is another. Living the beatitudes is another.

And why would I believe Fra’ Lorenzo over Augustine? Because he most follows what the bible is telling me so if different persons in the church are saying some different things, I have to go with the one who agrees with Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, Titus, James etc.

So we are not resting on our boastful confidence alone, as Augustine says, but on the Word of God. John 3:16 or example.

So let us be confident that Jesus is able and willing to save those who love Him and follow Him.

Well, that wasn’t Augustine; that was the Council of Trent, the basis of modern Catholic teaching on justification, etc-and very unCalvinistic BTW. :slight_smile:

I think part of the reason that happens is that most of the current famous Catholic apologists come from Protestant traditions that do embrace those doctrines; think Scott Hahn, who comes from Presbyterian Calvinism; or Steve Ray, a former Baptist. So, from the talks and writings of these (and other) apologists, this is some of the exposure Catholics get of Protestantism.

This sounds very much like calvanism.

Can I know for sure if I am numbered amount the elect?

You’re saying there’s a set number? And i can’t know if I’m among that number?

Could you clarify?

You posted the Council of Trent pages. What do they mean exactly. I’m so bad with old English.

I refer to John 3:16 for my belief.

I’ve come to understand that people are reading along who never even post. For their sake, I think the Catholic position should be clear. We do NOT believe in Calvin’s theory of predestination, double predestination, and the depravity of man. We each can choose to believe in God, believe Jesus is His son and be His disciples.


That’s right. The Council of Trent teaches that we cannot know with 100% certainy that we’re among the elect or predestined. That would be “rash presumption”. Only in the case of private revelation-very rare-might one be privy to such info. And, yes, the CC teaches against “double predestination”, that any are predestined to hell.

Than you, now that makes sense…the converts most well known are from Calvin is tic backgrounds…and evidently when read by Catholics, they tend to believe it’s a common or well known doctrine of Protestants, even though it is held by a minority of Protestants…and even among those who do hold the belief do OSAS tend to tailor it with “yes buts”…OSAS as expressed by modern Calvinit’s “forget” the the whole scheme of election, predestination , perseverance of the saints are not usually part of the discussikn.
OSAS would be TRUE if the other distinctive Calvin is beliefs were true.

If God has elected only a set number of individuals to be saved…and one was fortunate enough to know they were among the elect, then there would be NOTHING one could do to become “un-elected”, hence OSAS.

Also some of the most vocal and anti-Traditionalist Protestant apologists are staunchly Calvinistic, believing that the CC doctrines interfere with the believer’s right to complete assurance.

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