Catholic Justification vs Protestant Justification

Hello, I’d like to ask why Protestants complain so much about the catholic Justification?
I see many protestants sites arguing that it is unbiblical, but although i had seen a lot of discussion about it, anyone could resume it for me?

Couldn’t the protestant view of justification lead to a high immoralism, because a person think he is once saved, he will do everything he wants to?
And the Catholic view is not too harsh because one person that accepts jesus by faith is not automatically saved?

Those are just a few questions I would like to ask and I would be glad if anyone could help me, thanks.

Some Protestants are under the mistaken impression that Catholics believe we are justified by works apart from faith…a “works-based salvation”. The truth is that Catholics belief were are saved by grace, through a faith-working-through-love. Just like the Bible says, and just like the Church teaches. (Galatians chapter 5).

So, most of the complaints are based on a misunderstanding of what the Church actually teaches.

You are correct that a “once saved, always saved” might lead to a person thinking there will be no consequence to immoral behavior. The Bible could not be any clearer that this is not the case.

You might find this article helpful:
The Vine and the Branches: Once Saved, Always Saved?

The response above is a very good start; although, I doubt any response, no matter how good, will change anyone’s mind. In my opinion, the vast majority of complaints are due to misunderstandings and that most of those misunderstandings are not based on reality of that which is complained about but on the fears of those who do the complaining.

Some Protestants project their fear (that the importance of faith will be lost) onto Catholics. Some Catholics promote their fear that (the world will fall into immorality) onto Protestants. The reality is quite murky, though. There are truly heretics on both sides who actually fit the stereotypes. But, many on both sides have a philosophy with so many qualifications that in practice both sides are much closer than they appear.

Once saved always saved (OSAS), for instance, may seem to promote immorality (and for some heretical groups it does). But, for many who believe in OSAS there are qualifications such as people (like Judas Iscariot) can appear to be saved when they are not. With that qualification OSAS becomes moot, for if you can appear to yourself to be saved when you actually are not saved, then you really should lead your life as if you are not saved and must work toward salvation at every moment. (As Christ says, especially in Mark, be alert.) So that in the end, many OSAS and many ‘works first’ people actually live very similar Christian lives.

Greetings in Christ Ahs,

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA The predestination of the elect

Quote: “Consequently, the whole future membership of heaven, down to its minutest details, … HAS BEEN IRREVOCABLY FIXED FROM ALL ETERNITY. Nor could it be otherwise. For if it were possible that a predestined individual should after all be cast into hell or that one not predestined should in the end reach heaven, then God would have been mistaken in his foreknowledge of future events; He would no longer be omniscient.” End quote Emphasize mine.

Scripture Catholic by John Salza.
III. Predestination and the “Elect”

Quote: “There are two types of predestination, TO GRACE and TO GLORY. … Predestination is either to grace (which we COULD lose) or to glory (which we CAN NOT lose). …
1 Tim.2:6 – Jesus Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all (not just for the elect). But ONLY THOSE predestined to glory will be saved.” End quote. (Emphasize mine.)

With love in Christ,

Greetings in Christ,


Nihil obstate: Father Anton Cowan
Imprimatur: Monsignor John Crowley, VG Westminster, 28 May 1985

Quote: “There is ONE CENTRAL QUESTION here: how can we become righteous and be SAVED?

We are NOT justified by what we DO (works, observing law) but by FAITH IN CHRIST.

Salvation is NOT a matter of achieving but RECEIVING IT FREELY from God hands, in faith.” End quote. Emphasize mine.


Quote: “In fact, in TRADITIONAL WORKS OF CATHOLIC THEOLOGY, one regularly encounters the statement that FORMED FAITH IS JUSTIFYING FAITH. If one has formed faith, one is justified. Period. End quote. Emphasize mine.

JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church

3/17 Justification is SOLELY due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we RECEIVE IN FAITH, and NEVER CAN MERIT IT ANY WAY.

4/25 We confess together that sinners are JUSTIFIED BY FAITH in the saving action of God in Christ. WHATEVER in the JUSTIFIED PRECEDES or FOLLOWS the free gift of FAITH is NEITHER THE BASIS of justification NOR MERITS it.

4/27.The Catholic understanding also sees FAITH as FUNDAMENTAL in justification. FOR WITHOUT FAITH, NO JUSTIFICATION CAN TAKE PLACE. Thus justifying grace never becomes a human possession. While Catholic teaching emphasizes the RENEWAL OF LIFE by justifying grace, this RENEWAL in FAITH, HOPE, LOVE is always dependent on God’s unfathomable grace and CONTRIBUTES NOTHING TO JUSTIFICATION.


Quote: “The essence of supernatural love is unselfishness—doing something NOT BECAUSE IT WILL HELP US SOMEHOW, but because we want to do it out of SHEER LOVE for the other person, whether that person is God or one of our fellow human beings out of the love of God.

This is THE ONLY KIND of love that ultimately pleases God and therefore the ONLY KIND that ultimately gets us a reward IN heaven.” End quote. Emphasize mine.

If we believe: Work is condition of our salvation, then our works can NEVER BE UP TO THE ABOVE STANDARDS because we do it for ourselves to purchase salvation not for love and for the Glory of God, and ALL our work goes up in smoke at the judgment. In reference 1 Cor.3:11-15.

CANNOT BE OVER EMPHASIZE: This is THE KEY to do supernatural merit that God accepts and recognize!!! – There is NO other way to achieve supernatural merit which is the only good works.

With love in Christ,

Many mistakenly believe that the Catholic Church teaches that we can earn salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Council of Trent teaches: “If anyone shall assert that without the previous inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and his assistance, man can believe, hope, love or repent, as he ought, in order to obtain the grace of justification, let him be anathema.”

Without grace we can do nothing in the order of salvation. Nevertheless, we must not harden our hearts against God’s grace, lest we become castaways.

God desires that all men be saved. If they are not, it is not because they lacked “efficacious grace,” contrary to Salza and others. Here is what St. Alphonsus writes (though he does not attempt to explain how we can frustrate God’s grace):

“The ancient predestinarians asserted that God does not will all men to be saved, but only those who are saved.” These persons were condemned, first in the Council of Arles, A.D. 475, which pronounced “anathema to him that said that Christ did not die for all men, and that He does not will all to be saved.” [Anath. 6]

They were next condemned in the Council of Lyons, A.D. 490, where Lucidus was forced to retract and confess, “I condemn the man who says that Christ did not suffer death for the salvation of all men.” So also in the ninth century, Gotheschalcus, who renewed the same error, was condemned by the Council of Quercy, A.D. 853, in the third article of which it was decided “God wills all men, without exception, to be saved, although all men be not saved;” and in the fourth article: “There is no man for whom Christ did not suffer, although all men be not redeemed by the mystery of His Passion.” [Art. 3, 4]

The same error was finally condemned in the 12th and 13th Propositions of Quesnel. In the former it was said: “When God wills to save a soul, the will of God is undoubtedly effectual;” in the latter: “All whom God wills to save through Christ are infallibly saved.” **These propositions were justly condemned, precisely because they meant that God does not will all men to be saved; since from the proposition that those whom God wills to be saved are infallibly saved, it logically follows that God does not will even all the faithful to be saved, let alone all men. **

Greetings in Christ Devonsams,

This is an OTHER SET OF DOCTRINES/TEACHINGS OF JUSTIFICATION the Protestants complain so much. Please: 2 Cor.11:13-15; 2 Pet.2:1-3.

This set of salvation doctrines/teaching is the so called “DO – IT – YOURSELF” salvation or “WORK SALVATION” which is:
Faith in God’s grace, and Christ’s merit + our own merit. = Salvation.
All our works are done for: The purchase of salvation.

CCC [1821] … “In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere ‘to the end’ and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s ETERNAL REWARD FOR THE GOOD WORKS ACCOMPLISHED with the grace of Christ.”

CCC [2027] “No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we CAN MERIT for ourselves and for others ALL THE GRACES NEEDED TO ATTAIN ETERNAL LIFE, as well as necessary temporal goods.

Quote: Apologetics and Catholic Doctrines 2001 Edition.
Page 444
“The just man BY GOOD WORKS TRULY MERITS ETERNAL LIFE, an increase of Sanctifying Grace and of glory hereafter.”


  1. Justification is based on what we do, which means “works.”


  3. Apart from the initial grace, we CAN MERIT for ourselves and for others ALL THE GRACES NEEDED TO ATTAIN ETERNAL LIFE.


a. The MINORITY of the Catholics believe the salvation doctrines of our own Catholic Church. – The first set. Described on my above post.

b. The MAJOROTY of the Catholics believe some form of a “do – it – yourself” salvation. – This second set.

c. ALL PROTESTANTS, (Evangelicals, Pentecostals) believe the salvation doctrines of our Catholic Church. – The first set. Described on my above post.

With love in Christ,

Canon 29.
If anyone says that he who has fallen after baptism cannot by the grace of God rise again,[130] or that he can indeed recover again the lost justice but by faith alone without the sacrament of penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and Universal Church, instructed by Christ the Lord and His Apostles, has hitherto professed, observed and taught, let him be anathema.

Canon 4. If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation but are superfluous, and that without them or without the desire of them men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification,[2] though all are not necessary for each one, let him be anathema.

Canon 2. If anyone says that true and natural water is not necessary for baptism[9] and thus twists into some metaphor the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost,[10] let him be anathema.

Canon 5. If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation,[13] let him be anathema.

We recieve Salvation through the Sacraments, it is a free gift but we must co-orperate to revieve it. Sometimes to recieve a free gift we have to open a parcel rapper or an envelope, but it’s still a free gift and not earned, the sacraments are that parcel rapper or envolope. We accept and recieve that free gift through the Sacraments :slight_smile: some form of human works are always necessary to recieve a free gift, but not “works of the law” as they are not earned.

Anyone else find it humorous that no Protestant has responded yet? :stuck_out_tongue:

The difference between the two is pretty small, actually. Protestants traditionally have made a separation between sanctification and justification, while Catholics hold sanctification and justification aren’t distinct.

Speaking as a Lutheran (I can’t and don’t speak for protestants), the part I have bolded is not what we understand to be justification by grace alone through faith alone. It is, effectively, perseverance of the saints, which is a Calvinist/Reformed teaching, which we reject.


Usually, one will get a greater protestant response on the Non-Catholics forum. So, it may be more location than humor. :wink:

That said, while there is some truth in what you say about justification and sanctification or Lutherans (I say some truth because Lutherans say there is not one without the other), I have come to the conclusion myself that there is, indeed, only degrees of difference in the understanding of justification.


Protestants and Catholics (with the exception of some fringe Protestants) do not have substantially different perspectives about justifications. As a matter of fact, when all misconceptions are taken away, and when all obfuscating differences in terminology are taken away, and notwithstanding the complexities of soteriology but merely the fact and means of justification, I think the argument could be made that both positions are essentially identical.

“Salvation is by faith through grace and effectually proven by works”, the historical consensus Protestant view, really and truly is for all intents and purposes a different way of saying “Salvation is by grace towards faith operating in love”, which seems to be the Catholic formula. They both require grace which leads to faith and works. If there’s any difference at all it’s just that Protestants make a bigger distinction between the role of faith and works than Catholics do, but 99% of bona fide Protestants would not make any sort of claim that mere intellectual assent to a series of propositions about God constitutes saving faith. The Scriptures are clear: You must be born again. Even the demons believe, and at least they have the good sense to tremble. Protestants are familiar with these verses and they don’t read them, I don’t believe, substantially different than Catholics.

I bolded the pertinent part. I do not believe I have ever argued against predestination. What I argue against, and what the Church does NOT teach, and what Scripture does NOT teach, is that “predestination” somehow means we lose our free will to reject Christ and His free gift of Grace after having receieved the free gift of Grace. God, of course, already knows who will/won’t do this by their free will.

Because that’s literally their whole raison d’etre, they are named Protestant because they are “Protesting” Rome’s view of Justification. They claim Rome’s view is “unbiblial,” but if you scratch the surface you find out the opposite is true: Protestantism’s view of Justification is very unbiblical.

I see many protestants sites arguing that it is unbiblical, but although i had seen a lot of discussion about it, anyone could resume it for me?

There is unfortunately a lot of ignorance that goes into writing many of those articles against Rome, so while they might sound fancy and sophisticated, they’re really not. If you have specific issues to deal with, then please ask, as many Catholics are standing by to answer.

Couldn’t the Protestant view of justification lead to a high immoralism, because a person think he is once saved, he will do everything he wants to?

That is, in fact, what has happened. Many people living lives of sin have been taught or concluded that since they accepted Christ many years ago and cannot lose their salvation, then they’re safe. Classical Protestantism teaches that if you’re saved, God will transform you so that you wont want to sin and you’ll desire to live an upright life, which has some truth to it. Some Protestants even go so far as to say that good works will automatically flow if you’re truly saved, and if they don’t then you probably weren’t saved in the first place. But this kind of reasoning cannot explain the fact Christians still sin, sometimes gravely. So Protestants are in a bind and must decide between two extremes: either sin should cause you to doubt your salvation, or you shouldn’t fear sin and thus are safe regardless of how you act.

And the Catholic view is not too harsh because one person that accepts jesus by faith is not automatically saved?

The issue is basically this: In the Catholic view of salvation, you enter into a relationship with God, almost like a marriage. Sin harms that relationship, and can even destroy it if the sin is grave. But Protestants don’t believe salvation is about a personal relationship with God, but rather salvation is about your ‘legal standing’ before God, and since the believer is ‘covered by Christ’s righteousness’, the future sinful actions of the believer are not taken into account by God, which is why most Protestants believe Once Saved Always Saved. There is no relationship being harmed by their sin.

I think you make some excellent arguments against Calvinism.


Saved by Grace? Saved by works? Saved by “Faith Alone”?

To me it seems like a Byzantine argument.

Both Protestants and Catholics believe in Saint Paul’s faith and Saint Paul’s works. So let’s see how Saint Paul judges himself:

1 Corinthians (4:3-5) - 3. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.

With all due respect to the Protestant comprehension of God’s Grace, it seems to me that when Catholics talk, they just want to dig their head in the sand, and they just don’t want to listen, because they made up their mind a long time ago that Catholics are going to hell.

Hello my Protestant friends. I love you all. We Catholics don’t believe that we are worthy of salvation based on our own merits. I beg you to understand that point. But that does not free us from continuing to strive for perfection through our works.

Something to keep in mind here, and I think JonNC has pointed it out as well, is that not all Protestants think the same way. Not all of them hold a OSAS doctrine, and not all of them think that Catholics hold a “work’s-based-salvation”. It’s understandable that someone would generalize “Protestants”, but we also need to keep in mind that we can over-generalize to a fault. :slight_smile:

Good answer!

So…so much for that free will thing.
And what we do o whether we have faith…who cares?

Very kind of you. Thanks.


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