Catholic earning salvation

How do you respond to Protestants who point to CCC paragraphs 2010 and 2027 and say that RC’s believe we can earn our own salvation? Thank you!

Shari Clark

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Perhaps have them read it again, slowly this time, because they definitely missed something. :slight_smile:

In all seriousness, I think it might be effective to repeat the first part of paragraph 2010:

Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion…

We cannot earn our salvation apart from God.

Here is 2011, which makes a great point:

The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

Our merit comes from God’s grace. The only reason we can earn anything for ourselves to begin with is because of Christ.

I think one of the big reasons non-Catholics reject the idea of us being able to merit graces through our actions is because it seems to them to negate what Christ did. Protestants often tend to think that we’re trying to replace the cross with our own good deeds - and that is not at all what we’re doing.


We are saved by grace, not our own works themselves. And we require the grace of God in the first place in order to merit the graces for our salvation, which is why it says we do so when we are “moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity.”

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Did the person read 2025 and 2026? That seems to point to the source of that grace. Simple; there are others than can provide more depth.


GREAT reply. Thank you.

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We are saved by grace, and we accept this grace through works.

We have been saved by grace, accepted by faith which is also God’s gift.

Here’s a quote from HERE:

Protestants often misunderstand the Catholic teaching on merit, thinking that Catholics believe that one must do good works to come to God and be saved. This is exactly the opposite of what the Church teaches. The Council of Trent stressed: “[N]one of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification; for if it is by grace, it is not now by works; otherwise, as the Apostle [Paul] says, grace is no more grace” (Decree on Justification 8, citing Rom. 11:6).

The Catholic Church teaches only Christ is capable of meriting in the strict sense—mere man cannot (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2007). The most merit humans can have is condign—when, under the impetus of God’s grace, they perform acts which please him and which he has promised to reward (Rom. 2:6–11, Gal. 6:6–10). Thus God’s grace and his promise form the foundation for all human merit (CCC 2008).

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The Trinity gives us the grace but without our willing cooperation it will not be fruitful: neither salvation nor merit (promised as a reward).

Council of Orange II:

CANON 18. That grace is not preceded by merit.

Recompense is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be done.

I don’t know of any Catholics who believe we can earn our salvation. The CCC says to the contrary, so why would we think that? Why would a Protestant point to those paragraphs and say that we believe we can earn our salvation? I don’t believe they would.
One time during a Tootsie Roll drive, as a woman was driving away from me in her car, (after donating fifty cents) she sarcastically yelled, “salvation through works, right?” I thought, “what the hell is she talking about?” Then I remembered that some people think Catholics believe they reach heaven by doing good things. It’s another misunderstanding. One of many.

Parable of the talents.

We are given talents by God, however the one who buried it (didn’t do good works) was not saved.

I think part of this is that Catholics believe Christ actually makes us holy, rather than just standing in our place. In the latter error, since it is essentially Christ being judged in our place, there is no value to our works at all, since that is not what is being judged.

On the other hand, we believe that Christ actually sanctifies us, actually absolves and helps us expiate our sins, and enables us to do good works so that when we are judged, we it is truly we who are being judged. All the descriptions in the Bible of our judgment shows us being judged on our works. But of course, God loves us first, while we are still enemies–the initiative to sanctify us comes from Him, not as a result of our merits.

In all honesty, this tactic is a straw man. It’s a confirmation bias. It serves to confirm one’s separation from the beliefs of the Church. It’s grasping at straws to manufacture a point of contention where there is none.

Grace vs works is just an endless circular (and pointless) discussion.
Grace vs works is a distinction without a difference.

When I hear this I usually just say, “well we don’t believe that, so you are not objecting to Catholicism but something else…” and that usually just ends the issue right there since there is nothing to disagree about.

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