Can you help me understand this?

I’m confused about the different between catholic and evangelical protestant views of sin, judgment, and justification. This is my current understanding. Can someone fill in the blanks for me and help me understand? I was a practicing protestant for a long time and now am trying to figure this out as a catholic.

Protestants (at least evangelicals ) believe that we all sin and that once we turn our lives over to God, we are saved and everything from then on and before is completely forgiven. We have no further price to pay. Our salvation can never be lost. So we acknowledge we are sinners and it we really mean it, it will show in our lives. But if we do sin it doesn’t matter because we are already forgiven, as long as we don’t intentionally sin using the excuse that it won’t matter.

Catholics believe that Jesus died for our sins but we still have to strive for perfection all our lives because we will be judged at the end of the world for what we have done. So we are saved from going to hell, but we are still going to be held responsible for our sins and have to pay for them in purgatory. Tough we are forgiven through Christ, we are still responsible and have to pay for those sins we committed.

“Accepting Jesus” has nothing to do with receiving sanctifying grace in a spiritually dead soul – that idea is false – we have been redeemed by Christ, and now we have to cooperate with Jesus by having our souls spiritually alive by gaining sanctifying grace either through the sacrament of baptism, or by baptism of desire, and following His Way as best we can. Certainly we cannot be saved if we die in unrepentant mortal sin.

Jesus redeemed mankind, but each of us needs to cooperate with Him to be saved. It is St. Paul, who wrote: “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his Body which is the Church.” (Col. 1:24). What is lacking in Christ’s suffering is precisely what only we can do – take up our cross and suffer, repent and ask forgiveness, following the dictates of our conscience. [Frank Sheed, *Christ In Eclipse, p 105-7].

We can and do sin and need one of the sacraments provided by Christ, the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) if mortal, to return to sanctifying grace.

Why not study the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

I agree with the other poster who recommended that you read the Catechism on these points. I also recommend this book.

Modern American Evangelicals are strongly influenced by the heresies of John Calvin - specifically the TULIP. Therefore many of their ideas about sin, judgement, and justification represent a significant departure from what the Apostles believed and taught.

They don’t make a distinction between temporal punishment, and eternal punishment.
Only Jesus can and did pay for the eternal punishment for our sins. Sometimes the temporal consequences of them are set aside also, but sometimes, we are indebted, and we never get out until we pay the last penny! Our souls are saved, but only as through fire.

OSAS (once saved always saved) is not a completely foreign idea to Catholics either. We also believe OSAS, but we are taught by the Apostles that we are not “saved” in this life. During this life, we are working out our salvation with fear and trembling. When we depart this life, we enter the judgement, and one is either saved or not. At that point, Catholics will agree that we are OSAS… :smiley:

The idea that on cannot “lose your salvation” I think is a bad one, since the Church teaches that it is not yet “attained” in this life, it is really more accurate to say that we may not be united to our heavenly inheritance.

One thing that I find puzzling with our evangelical brethren is their apparent perception that the nature of sin has somehow changed. The Aposltes taught that sin separates us from God. In the modern innovated theology, sin no longer does this. :confused:

I would say that what needs to be acknowledged here is that we are a new creation in Christ. Anyone can acknowledge they are a sinner, and their lives may not changed. If they are not born again from water and Spirit, they will die in their sins. The idea that sin no longer matters is one of the most grievious problems with this theological approach.

I think this is not quite on the mark, either. Your description also does not distinguish between the temporal and eternal penalties for sins. We cannot pay the eternal penalty - only Jesus could do that. WHen we sin, we create damage,a nd God in His wisdom and justice sometimes wants us to face and make reparation for that damage. It is not so much "paying for the sins’ as it is paying the temporal consequence for the sins.

Dear AnneTeresa, your write, Protestants (at least evangelicals ) believe that we all sin and that once we turn our lives over to God, we are saved and everything from then on and before is completely forgiven. We have no further price to pay. Our salvation can never be lost. So we acknowledge we are sinners and it we really mean it, it will show in our lives. But if we do sin it doesn’t matter because we are already forgiven, as long as we don’t intentionally sin using the excuse that it won’t matter.

So if I turn my life over to God all is completely forgiven and my salvation can never be lost…
this means I can rob a bank, kill someone, be hateful and self any time I choose, but I am still saved, because once saved, always saved! No, you qualify that by saying, unless I deliberately sin! You contradict the ‘once saved, always saved’ by saying 'except if!" So actually you are saying the same thing Catholics do! You just don’t realize you are saying it!

“But when the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity and do the same abominable things that the wicked do, shall they live? None of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which they are guilty and the sin they have committed, they shall die.” Ezekiel 18:24

Ezekiel 33:18 If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it.

We Catholics believe in repentance and the Church offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) which Jesus provided when He said to the apostles, the first priests, giving priests authority to forgive sin: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20 21-23

In giving authority to the Catholic Church, in the person of the first Pope, Jesus said:
“But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."Matthew 16:15-19

Some Scriptural response to the ‘once saved, always saved’ argument:
supporting that good works as well as faith is required for our entry into heaven is the following.

"Take the case, my brothers of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty’, without giving them these bare necessities of llife, then what good is that?: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.
This is the way to talk to people of that kind:'You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds–now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show.

You believe in one God–that is creditable enough, but the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Do realise, you senseless man, that faith without works is useless. You surely know that Abraham our Father was justified by his deed, because he offered Isaac on the altar? There you see it; faith and good deeds were working together; his faith became perfect by what he did. This is what scripture really means when it says: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was counted as making him justified; and that is why he was called the friend of God. You see now that it is by doing something good, and not only by believing, that a man is justified." [James 2: 14-24]

“Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I say?
Everyone who comes to me an listens to my words and acts on them–I will show you what he is like. He si like a man who when he builds his house dug deeply, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house but could not shake it, it was so well built. But the one who listens but does nothing is like the man who built his house on soil, with no foundations; as soon as the river bore down on it, it collapsed; and what a ruin that house became.” [Luke 6:46-49]

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:12-13]

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart." [Galatians 6:7-9]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding Justification

The Catechism regarding sin and reconciliation

What the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on “Once Saved, Always Saved:”

  1. “Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. [Cf. Mk 16:16 ; Jn 3:36 ; Jn 6:40 ; et al.] ‘Since ‘without faith it is impossible to please (God)’ and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘But he who endures to the end.’’]”

  2. “Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: ‘Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.’ [1 Tim 1:18-19 .] To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; [Cf. Mk 9:24 ; Lk 17:5 ; Lk 22:32.] it must be ‘working through charity,’ abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church. [Gal 5:6 ; Rom 15:13 ; cf. Jam 2:14-26.]”

How can we be assured of our own salvation if St. Paul wasn’t (1 Corinthians 9:27)?

Salvation is not a “one time” event, but an ongoing process until “the end” (Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13).

The Inadequate Historical Precedent for
“Once Saved, Always Saved”

Dear Anne Teresa, I hope somewhere in these responses you can find reassurance .
God;s kindest blessings to you in your search.

What is TULIP?

What do you mean that they think the nature of sin has changed?

QUOTE=guanophore;7415206]I would say that what needs to be acknowledged here is that we are a new creation in Christ. Anyone can acknowledge they are a sinner, and their lives may not changed. If they are not born again from water and Spirit, they will die in their sins. The idea that sin no longer matters is one of the most grievious problems with this theological approach.

They do think one has to be “born again”. I know “water” is baptism. What is “Spirit” for Catholics?

It is an acronym that refers to a collection of heretical ideas spawned durng the Reformation that continue to wreak havoc and cause divisions in the Body of Christ. I know you have already been given a lot of links and references, and I don’t want to overwhelm you, but here is a brief response:

Sin separates humans from God. But they believe that, after they say the prayer accepting Jesus into their heart, that somehow the nature of sin has changed, and that it no longer separates them from God.

The Apostles never separated the baptism of the Spirit from the water, so we do not.

If you search the threads on baptism, you can find loads of discussion on this. It is one of the major points of difference between Catholics and evangelicals.

Since they are separated from the Apostolic faith, they have lost the understanding of the Sacramental nature of Baptism.

See the Catechism of the Catholic Church to understand Catholic views.

Regarding Paul and Faith and works that can come up in these questions read from Pope Benedict XVI

and regarding Purgatory read from his Encyclical on Hope:

What happens to such individuals when they appear before the Judge? Will all the impurity they have amassed through life suddenly cease to matter? What else might occur? Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, gives us an idea of the differing impact of God’s judgement according to each person’s particular circumstances. He does this using images which in some way try to express the invisible, without it being possible for us to conceptualize these images—simply because we can neither see into the world beyond death nor do we have any experience of it. Paul begins by saying that Christian life is built upon a common foundation: Jesus Christ. This foundation endures. If we have stood firm on this foundation and built our life upon it, we know that it cannot be taken away from us even in death. Then Paul continues: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15). In this text, it is in any case evident that our salvation can take different forms, that some of what is built may be burned down, that in order to be saved we personally have to pass through “fire” so as to become fully open to receiving God and able to take our place at the table of the eternal marriage-feast.

  1. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. In this way the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ’s Passion. At the moment of judgement we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy. It is clear that we cannot calculate the “duration” of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming “moment” of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart’s time, it is the time of “passage” to communion with God in the Body of Christ[39]. The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice—the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all. The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together—judgement and grace—that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate”, or parakletos (cf. 1 Jn 2:1).
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