catholic view of salvation


#1

i am an episcopalian thinking of converting, but i am struggling to understand the catholic view of salvation. i have read that catholics believe that if you die in a state of mortal sin, you go to hell. thus, a person who has accepted christ and lived a “good” life will go to hell if he skips mass and dies before he can confess the sin.

if that is true, what was the effect of christ’s death on the cross? why wouldn’t faith in christ be sufficient to get us into heaven despite the unconfessed sin?

is faith in christ necessary to get us to heaven? and what exactly must we have faith in?

any help with these questions would be much appreciated.


#2

[quote=captainmike]i am an episcopalian thinking of converting, but i am struggling to understand the catholic view of salvation. i have read that catholics believe that if you die in a state of mortal sin, you go to hell. thus, a person who has accepted christ and lived a “good” life will go to hell if he skips mass and dies before he can confess the sin.

if that is true, what was the effect of christ’s death on the cross? why wouldn’t faith in christ be sufficient to get us into heaven despite the unconfessed sin?
[/quote]

First of all, Welcome to the forum, captainmike! :wave:.

If the teaching of the Church was what you described it would be unfair and unchristian. But, it isn’t what you described (a common problem many outside the Church have with the teachings of the Church :wink: ).

In order for a Catholic to be guilty of mortal sin, in the case of the one incident of skipping a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation Mass, the Catholic who did so would have to have met 3 criteria for being culpable of mortal sin: He would have to know it is a grave matter, will to commit the sin anyway, and do so with his full will. Most people who skip Masses of obligation do so from ignorance not willful disobedience. It is the willful disobedience that separates us, by the act of our own will, from God’s love. We do the severing, not God or the Church.

is faith in christ necessary to get us to heaven? and what exactly must we have faith in?

any help with these questions would be much appreciated.

Oh yes! Faith is definitely necessary to get us to heaven. This faith must be an active one, though. We can’t just give lip service to God and expect to be saved when we have lived our lives deliberately ignoring God and his Church when we know better. It all boils down to culpability. A sort of spiritual “what did he know and when did he know it” kind of thing which no one can really dispute because we all know how willfully we can be disobedient and want to follow our own ideas rather than conform our lives to Christ, yes?


#3

Della gave a good answer, and I would add what Pope John Paul II said about hell;

“God does not send people to hell, they go their on their own.”

It is their rejection of God, not God’s rejection of them, that leads souls to hell.


#4

Mike,

Salvation is a process, not a one time event. I think you would agree.
In becoming holy, we incorporate ourselves into Christ. We enter more deeply into the mystry of sharing in his divinity, as he has shared in our humanity.
Salvation is about relationship. Mortal sin is about breaking relationship.

We can look at our faith in legalistic terms, but i don’t think it is that way at all.

In a relationship with a beloved, does a lover ignore his relationship with his beloved, or does he nurture it and desire to enter into that deep intimacy that only comes with complete committment.

When we being to see sin as something that destroys the love between two who are married, we know that forgetting to take out the garbaage doesn’t ruin the relationship, but something big like adultery will.

Instead of looking at mortal sin in legalistic terms, it may help to try to understand salvation as a committed nuptial relationship in which we respond to the freely given love that God gives us and how sin can damage or even break the relationship between loved and beloved…


#5

Look at it this way. Catholics believe that you will go to hell if you have deliberately chosen hell. You must deliberately turn away from God, and continue to remain turned away from God, to end up in hell. Upon death every person gets the relationship with God which they have chosen.

I think your problem is that you don’t see a big deal about missing Mass. I’m not saying that to judge you, for I spent many decades with that same attitude. Nobody ever asks “How come if somebody lives a good Christian life and then goes out and commits just one mortal sin of torturing and killing a child, how come if they were to suddenly die they would go to hell?” No, nobody ever asks that, but they always ask about missing Mass.

Now, I accept that the commandment to keep the Sabath holy is understood by the Church to include attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday. We should never look at this as a burden, but as both a privelege and as a means to give thanks for that Sacrifice. Nowadays, even if getting to Mass is an effort, I don’t consider it a burden but an act of thanksgiving and obedience. I don’t go to Mass out of fear of mortal sin, but out of thanks and obedience, and as a way to continue to remain in and strengthen the New Covenant by which Christ has joined Himself to us. Rather than thinking “it’s just Mass, what’s the big deal?”, we should recognize that the Mass is not just anything, it is the One Sacrifice which has redeemed the whole world. Why would anybody ever deliberately miss Sunday Mass if they thought that way? What could ever be more important?


#6

[quote=captainmike]i am an episcopalian thinking of converting, but i am struggling to understand the catholic view of salvation. i have read that catholics believe that if you die in a state of mortal sin, you go to hell. thus, a person who has accepted christ and lived a “good” life will go to hell if he skips mass and dies before he can confess the sin.

if that is true, what was the effect of christ’s death on the cross? why wouldn’t faith in christ be sufficient to get us into heaven despite the unconfessed sin?
[/quote]

The effect of Christs sacrifice was to bring the Holy Spirit(Grace) to men. The Holy Spirit gives us the grace to change ourselves. Catholics teach that we have the free will to choose God. That means that we can choose to not accept God. The Holy Spirit(The Uncreated Grace) dwells within us and causes us to be perfected. The Holy Spirit gives us created graces that reflect The Holy Spirit Himself. The Spirit makes us holy. So we truely are made to be like Christ.

Mortal Sin is an open rejection of God. It is a use of your free will to reject what has been given to you. Try not to focus too much on this idea, it is not as clear as it seems on the surface.

is faith in christ necessary to get us to heaven? and what exactly must we have faith in?

Yes, it is absolutely necessary. Without faith you have nothing. You must have faith in God and in Christ.


#7

i do take attending church seriously. i go every sunday.

i struggle with the doctrine, though, because:

  1. i’m a christian
  2. i’m also a sinner.

lord, help me not to commit mortal sins, and help me to have the chance to repent if i do.


#8

[quote=captainmike]i do take attending church seriously. i go every sunday.

i struggle with the doctrine, though, because:

  1. i’m a christian
  2. i’m also a sinner.

lord, help me not to commit mortal sins, and help me to have the chance to repent if i do.
[/quote]

Part of the hope that we have in the salvation offered by God is that He won’t make a “mistake” and send sombody to hell who would have repented and gone to heaven if that heart attack or car crash just hadn’t happened right then and there. We must believe that wherever we end up, that is the fate that we have irrevocably chosen. Sure, we can change that choice while we are alive (non-believers choosing God, or believers falling away), but I just can’t believe that a person will ever die and be sent to the “wrong” eternal fate.


#9

[quote=captainmike]i am an episcopalian thinking of converting, but i am struggling to understand the catholic view of salvation.
[/quote]

Hi Mike and welcome to the forums! :wave: The 2,000 year-Old Catholic position on salvation is that we are saved by Jesus Christ and Him alone (cf. Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:5). However, by the grace of Christ, we achieve the salvation God desires for us through perseverance in both faith and works. Many Protestants, on the other hand, believe that one just has to accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior to be saved, and good works are not necessary (they just flow from those already saved).

[quote=captainmike]i have read that catholics believe that if you die in a state of mortal sin, you go to hell. thus, a person who has accepted christ and lived a “good” life will go to hell if he skips mass and dies before he can confess the sin.
[/quote]

While it is true that if a person dies while in a state of unrepentant mortal sin he/she may be in danger of going to hell; only God knows the heart of that individual as well as the individual’s intentions. In order for a sin to be considered mortal, there must be 3 factors:

  1. Grave Matter - grave disorder in regard to God, our neighbor, ourselves, or society.

  2. Knowledge - the intellect must know and understand that the act is a grave sin.

  3. Consent - Upon the first 2 factors being met, the individual then willingly participates in the sin.

So, using the example you gave, if a person misses Mass because he/she simply didn’t feel like going, is he/she in mortal sin? Some would be and some would not be. Did that person know and understand that missing Mass is a grave sin? If not, then he/she is not under a mortal sin. This is why the Church does NOT pass judgment on whether someone is in hell. We do however, recognize when some enter into Heaven and we call those people Saints. That’s another topic though.

[quote=captainmike]if that is true, what was the effect of christ’s death on the cross? why wouldn’t faith in christ be sufficient to get us into heaven despite the unconfessed sin?
[/quote]

In response to your first question in the above quote, let me refer you to the Catechism of the Catholic Church #'s 606-608. As to your 2nd question, because the Bible says otherwise. The ONLY time in the Bible where the words “faith alone” appear is in Bible is in James 2:14-24 and in that verse it says, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” If you’ll look all 10 verses there you’ll see very plainly what is being said. Other verses, which support this, are:
Mt 7:21, Mt 19:16-17, Jn 14:21, Rom 2:2-8, Gal 5:4-6, Eph 2:8-10, Phil 2:12-13 just to name some.

[quote=captainmike]is faith in christ necessary to get us to heaven? and what exactly must we have faith in?
[/quote]

Yes, faith in Christ is necessary. We must have faith that Christ is the Son of God, that He died for us, and that on the 3rd day He rose again.

I hope that I helped in some way to answer your questions. If I may suggest a couple of things; first, many questions that you have have can be answered by referencing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (commonly called the CCC). Also, I’d like to suggest a couple of very good books. The first being “Why Do Catholics Do That?” by Kevin Orlin Johnson. The second is called “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” by Karl Keating.

Again, welcome to the forums, I look forward to seeing you around. God bless.


#10

i actually read keating’s chapter on “salvation” yesterday. that’s what prompted me to post.


#11

[quote=captainmike]i actually read keating’s chapter on “salvation” yesterday. that’s what prompted me to post.
[/quote]

Have our answers helped you with your question? If not (or in part) what would you like us to clarify? :slight_smile:


#12

I have not read it yet, but I have heard good things about “The Salvation Contraversy” by Jimmy Akin. It may be wortha look.


#13

Have our answers helped you with your question? If not (or in part) what would you like us to clarify?

    yes, they have.  thank you very much.

#14

[quote=captainmike]i am an episcopalian thinking of converting, but i am struggling to understand the catholic view of salvation. .
[/quote]

As an unconvential way of looking at this, we can imagine that God, in the eternal “now”, knows exactly how each of us responds to or rejects His gifts of grace, and thus He knows exactly, with perfect justice, what state each soul freely chooses in the hierarchy of Heaven or the “lower-archy” of Hell.

He gives us time to grow and accept his grace, and hopefully grow in holiness and knowledge of His will, and become more resistant to sin. Only if we distrust God’s perfect mercy and justice would we assume that God would take a soul in a moment of rebellion, without any possible way of repentance and send him to an unjust state in the lower-archy of Hell regardless of the totality of that person’s union of will with God’s will.

Given the Scriptural passages that tell us to persevere to the end, lest we be cut off, we can hypothesize that either God takes us from the earth at a just time, or that if it in accord with our heart, he gives us an opportunity to repent someway, somehow, as the soul sheds its mortal coil.

Here are some good links with sections or articles addressing Catholic teaching on salvation:
catholic.com/library/Pillar.asp
catholic.com/library/salvation.asp

Here are some passages:
SALVATION, FAITH AND WORKS
Faith Alone or Faith plus Works?
Jam 2:24 - a man is justified by works and not by faith alone
Jam 2:26 - faith without works is dead
Gal 5:6 - only thing that counts is faith working in love
1 Cor 13:2 - faith without love is nothing
Jn 14:15 - if you love me, keep my commandments
Mt 19:16-17 - if you wish to enter into life, keep commandments
1Tim 5:8 he who doesn’t provide for family worse than unbeliever.

Have You Been Saved?

Past Event (I have been saved)
Rom 8:24 - for in hope we were saved
Eph 2:5, 8 - by grace you have been saved through faith
2Tim 1;9 - He saved us, called us according to his grace
Tit 3:5 - He saved us through bath of rebirth, renewal by Holy Spirit

Present Process (I am being saved)
Phil 2;12 - work out your salvation with fear and trembling
1Pet 1:9 - as you attain the goal of your faith, salvation

Future Event (I will be saved)
Mt 10:22 - he who endures to the end will be saved
Mt 24:1 - he who perseveres to the end will be saved
Mk 8:35 - whoever loses his life for my sake will save it
Acts 15:11 - we shall be saved through the grace of Jesus
Rom 5:9-10 - since we are justified, we shall be saved
Rom 13:11 - salvation is nearer now than first believed
Cor 3:15 - he shall be saved, but only as through fire
1Cor 5:5 - deliver man to Satan so his spirit may be saved
Heb 9:28 - Jesus will appear second time, to bring salvation

Good Works
Mt 7:21 - not Lord, Lord but he who does the will of father
Mt 19:16-17 - to have life, keep my commandments
Jn 14:21 - he who keeps my commandments loves me
Rom 2:2-8 - eternal life by perseverance in good works
Gal 5:4-6 - nothing counts but faith working through love
Eph 2:8-10 - we are created in Christ Jesus for good works
Phil 2:12-13 - work out salvation with fear and trembling
Jam 2:14-24 - a man is justified by works & not faith alone

Judged According to Deeds
Rom 2:2-8 - eternal life by perseverance in good works
2Cor 5:10 - recompense accord to what did in body
2Cor 11:15 - their end will correspond to their deeds
1Pet 1:17 - God judges impartially according to one’s works
Rev 20:12-13 - dead judged according to their deeds
Col 3:24-25 - will receive due payment for whatever you do

Assurance of Salvation?
Mt 7:21 - not everyone saying “Lord, Lord” will inherit
Mt 24:13 - those who persevere to the end will be saved
Rom 11:22 - remain in his kindness or you will be cut off
Phil 2:12 - work out your salvation in fear and trembling
1Cor 9:27 - drive body for fear of being disqualified
1Cor 10:11-12 - those thinking they are secure may fall
Gal 5:4 - separated from Christ, you’ve fallen from grace
2Tim 2:11-13 - must hold out to the end to reign with Christ
Hb 6:4-6 - describes sharers in Holy Spirit who then fall away
Heb 10:26-27 - if sin after receiving truth, judgment remains

source:geocities.com/thecatholicconvert/biblecheatsheet.html


#15

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