Catholic vs. Protestant Soteriology. HELP!


#1

This is a spin-off of the stumbling blocks to Catholicism thread. This is a very candid post. You have been warned.

This is a subjective post. But since it goes to the heart of why I left the Catholic Church and became a Protestant while I was still a child it is important to me. I also wish to avoid supposed implication of Sola Fide and “once saved always saved”. Particularly the latter since many here seem to think all Protestants believe this, which many don’t, including me.

Here is the crux for me. It seems to me that Salvation in Catholicism is extremely fleeting and ultimately all up to us in the end. What I mean is this as Lutheran I know faith without works is dead. But I also know that I am forgiven provided I daily repent of my sins. I know that if I die today (so long as I trust in Christ) He is faithful and merciful and I am forgiven. I know that I can walk away from the faith and in doing so put my soul in mortal peril.

But as a Catholic I understood myself to be in a state of mortal peril daily since I had committed mortal sins in my heart all the time. Even though I would repent several times a day I would fear death in one of those innumerable and unavoidable times of sin. What if I fall asleep and have an impure thought and die in my sleep before I wake up and repent? It just seemed like Salvation and being a Child of God in Christ was something I was and was not several times each week. So in that scheme I have basically a 50/50 chance if that of being saved. Since my salvation can be lost and regained on a daily basis. If I need confession to be in a state of Grace then I would need to be in the confessional every single day, several times a day.

Now how can I be Catholic knowing I can never have any real peace of mind. How can I hope in Christ is that mercy is so fragile and difficult to obtain. I still remember after all these years the utter terror of dying outside a state of Grace. Not just fear, but actual terror. That’s what being Catholic was to me, a legalistic religion that held sinners to an impossible standard the standard of the law and not the gospel. Since we are all sinners and indeed most of us sin daily how can we ever hope to be saved? I am just so wary of raising my children in a church that makes hope seem impossible.

As I said this is subjective. But since feelings and impressions are just as real as facts I thought I would bare my soul to my Catholic brothers and sisters to see how you deal with the idea that it takes very little to lose your salvation.

Right now I am confident that God both saved me and sustains me in the faith. I realize that apostasy is possible but I am confident of better things. I don’t know that I could sleep at night as a catholic. My focus would be on judgment not mercy.

Does anyone know where I am coming from?

Mel


#2

Greetings,

You have what is known as scruples and infact Martin Luther was afflicted with the same spiritual defect. Scruples is the inability to believe one is forgiven and the tendency to attribute every thought and negative action to mortal sin.

Scrupulosity is something which you need to work through with a good Confessor. Repent daily, confess your sins, receive Holy Communion. Once you enter into the life of grace, you will be given graces which you cannot yet imagine. Confession not only frees us from sin, but helps prevent future sin. I have experienced this in my own life.

Many of the things you think are mortal sin are probably not. Perhaps you do fall into certain mortal sins. I can’t know for sure. If you seek God’s grace though, you will persevere in it and learn to resist mortal sin.
God bless,
Ryan


#3

Mel, I do know what you’re saying, and I understand why you are currently a Lutheran… while this might raise the eyebrows and ire of others here, I am sympathetic to Luther’s central concerns (although not in full agreement), which yours seem to echo closely.

I think that you can find the same solace and confidence in the Catholic Church… our teachings are not substantially different from what you are espousing, in terms of confidence in the Lord. Yes, mortal sin is always a possibility, but we also trust in the Lord and His mercy and forgiveness, and know that the latter are more powerful and pervasive than sin. To examine one’s conscience does not mean to be scrupulous… they are very different things.

This isn’t a very cogent post… pretty rambling, in fact. I hope you can discern my meaning!


#4

[quote=Melchior]This is a spin-off of the stumbling blocks to Catholicism thread. This is a very candid post. You have been warned.

This is a subjective post. But since it goes to the heart of why I left the Catholic Church and became a Protestant while I was still a child it is important to me. I also wish to avoid supposed implication of Sola Fide and “once saved always saved”. Particularly the latter since many here seem to think all Protestants believe this, which many don’t, including me.

Here is the crux for me. It seems to me that Salvation in Catholicism is extremely fleeting and ultimately all up to us in the end. What I mean is this as Lutheran I know faith without works is dead. But I also know that I am forgiven provided I daily repent of my sins. I know that if I die today (so long as I trust in Christ) He is faithful and merciful and I am forgiven. I know that I can walk away from the faith and in doing so put my soul in mortal peril.

But as a Catholic I understood myself to be in a state of mortal peril daily since I had committed mortal sins in my heart all the time. Even though I would repent several times a day I would fear death in one of those innumerable and unavoidable times of sin. What if I fall asleep and have an impure thought and die in my sleep before I wake up and repent? It just seemed like Salvation and being a Child of God in Christ was something I was and was not several times each week. So in that scheme I have basically a 50/50 chance if that of being saved. Since my salvation can be lost and regained on a daily basis. If I need confession to be in a state of Grace then I would need to be in the confessional every single day, several times a day.

Now how can I be Catholic knowing I can never have any real peace of mind. How can I hope in Christ is that mercy is so fragile and difficult to obtain. I still remember after all these years the utter terror of dying outside a state of Grace. Not just fear, but actual terror. That’s what being Catholic was to me, a legalistic religion that held sinners to an impossible standard the standard of the law and not the gospel. Since we are all sinners and indeed most of us sin daily how can we ever hope to be saved? I am just so wary of raising my children in a church that makes hope seem impossible.

As I said this is subjective. But since feelings and impressions are just as real as facts I thought I would bare my soul to my Catholic brothers and sisters to see how you deal with the idea that it takes very little to lose your salvation.

Right now I am confident that God both saved me and sustains me in the faith. I realize that apostasy is possible but I am confident of better things. I don’t know that I could sleep at night as a catholic. My focus would be on judgment not mercy.

Does anyone know where I am coming from?

Mel
[/quote]

you don’t have to believe… go in peace… :thumbsup:


#5

Thanks for posting.

It would seem to me that the basis of your complaint is a misunderstanding of what a mortal sin is.

I think we both agree that salvation comes from God. That is, the grace he gives us through his passion and death to love him and have faith in his sacrifice for us. And that true faith comes from God, and is manifested in allowing God to work through us. And that our role in our salvation is completed simply by saying "Yes, I desire and accept what you give me."
But a yes in this sense is not necessarily a verbal “yes. Now I am saved.” But a lifelong yes of living our life to the best of our ability according to His will.

We are weak, and we sin. Through actions, impure thoughts, inactions we should have taken. But God understands our weaknesses and forgives us as soon as we repent in our hearts, giving us the grace to grow even closer to him. This is true as well.

However, this is all dependent upon our desire to still say, “Yes.” to God. Our hearts are still pure, but we fall because we are human. Yet the greater fall occurs when we don’t say “Yes.” We do not accept God’s salvation and Love into our lives. We do not desire him. We wish to separate ourselves from him. Like our “Yes” to him, our “No” is not necessarily a verbal or mental phrase, but a statement made by our actions.

See the difference there?
Venial sin:
Our overall desire it to serve and please God, but we unintentionally make mistakes and fall from time to time.

Mortal Sin:
We openly and freely choose to reject God, not from a mistake or temporary lapse of judgement, but of our full comprehending will.

That is why the church gives three criterion before a sin can be considered mortal:

  1. The sin must be a grievious act (That is, an action which plainly speaks to God, “I wish to be parted from you!”)

  2. The sinner must understand the grevity of the sin. (You must understand this is what you are showing God when you commit the act.)

  3. The sinner must commit the act fully of his own will. (Despite the previous two, you continue to freely choose it, even though you know what it means.)

To commit such an act plainly removes yourself from the grace of God, and deserves a public act of repentance for justification. (confession.)

Basically what I’m saying is if you love God and live your life to the best you can, you don’t need to live in fear of mortal sin. Having an impure though isn’t going to condemn you, because obviously your full will isn’t to separate yourself from God with it. Especially if it occurs while you’re sleeping.

From this point on it becames a discussion of what acts specifically could be considered this grevious, which is a different topic for each specific act.

Josh


#6

But I also know that I am forgiven provided I daily repent of my sins. I know that if I die today (so long as I trust in Christ) He is faithful and merciful and I am forgiven. I know that I can walk away from the faith and in doing so put my soul in mortal peril.

I agree.

Catholic I understood myself to be in a state of mortal peril daily since I had committed mortal sins in my heart all the time.

Perhaps you did. Perhaps you only think you did. To commit a mortal sin, you must have “full consciousness of the gravity of the sin” and you must have “deliberately willed the sin.”

There are impediments to the will and to the intellect which can diminish the guilt of sin, such that the sin may not be mortal but venial. Consequently, I doubt a state of mortal sin is very common among children. I think perhaps you suffered from being overly scrupulous, thinking every thought or opinion was a mortal sin. One must understand that we have disordered desires because we are children of Adam. Unintentional thoughts or opinions that pop into our head are still objectively sinful, but unless you deliberately will the thought and were fully conscious of the gravity of the sin, that you absolutely knew it was a damnable thing and you willed it nonetheless, then the sin was likely venial.

Yet, for argument’s sake, let’s say that every bad thought you had as a teenager was a mortal sin (which I find unlikely). Weren’t you sorry for that thought or opinion as soon as you had it? Why were you sorry? If you were sorry because you knew it to be against God’s will, and your sorrow was rooted in your love of God, then your perfect contrition is efficacious for the forgiveness of sin. There was no need to live in fear of eternal damnation, so long as your contrition was genuine and came from your love of God.

Right now I am confident that God both saved me and sustains me in the faith.

Me too. But I also know that “faith” is opposed to disobedience. We cannot, as Martin Luther asserted, commit murder and adultery a thousand times a day without separating ourselves from our Lord. We cannot just have faith in our faith. We must have also what St. Paul calls “obedience of faith.”

Whether or not sin is mortal is up to God. Only He knows what impediments to the will and intellect are present within us, even when we fail to know them ourselves.

I don’t know that I could sleep at night as a catholic. My focus would be on judgment not mercy.

Does anyone know where I am coming from?

I had totally different experience growing up Catholic. Perhaps your Catechesis was different than mine. I suggest you have an overly scrupulous view of Catholic moral theology.


#7

My friend, from your post I think that perhaps you suffer from religious scrupulosity. You felt that you “committed mortal sins <in your heart every day” and worried that if you fell asleep and died without confessing that you wouldn’t be saved.

But somehow you feel as a that so long as you “repent daily” that you’ll be saved. In other words, you chose to follow Lutheranism because it didn’t demand “too much” of you.

It appears to me that you value “peace of mind” and “convenience”–i.e., not having to run to confession “several times a day” over Almighty God.

Did you take your problems to HIM through confession to a priest? Through spiriitual guidance from one approved through the Magesterium? Did you pray? Did you get a “second opinion”?

How I FEEL about my faith and life are important, yes, but they aren’t the sine qua non of my life. I can FEEL spiritually empty, dry, and have a “dark night of the soul” and yet be full of grace and close to God’s heart even if can’t FEEL it.

Likewise, I can FEEL right comfortable about my “faith life” and how great I am as a Christian person–and be FAR from God while I FEEL that He’s RIGHT NEXT TO ME.

Feelings are as as facts, you say?
Well, that’s one interpretation. It’s a good crutch to use. I’m sure that all of those people who are “overwhelmed” by the urge to sin, and give in, feel that God is pretty unfair, asking them to not do things but making it “impossible to comply” because of those overwhelming, overmastering feelings.

What ever happened to the ideas of self discipline, moderation, prayer, contemplation, study, and mortification?

I suppose that in the current atmosphere where any “feeling” is deemed “repressed” if it is not indulged in immediately and to whatever extent is “desired”, the idea that feelings need to be considered in a balanced way seems hopelessly recherche and quaint.

Your way appears to give you the satisfaction of having your cake and eating it too. Your overly scrupulous conscience which caused you to believe that you sinned mortally several times a day is abrogated by allowing you, as a Protestant, to “repent daily” and thus “relieve you”. This is like putting a Band-aid on a gaping, infected wound, IMO.

The problem wasn’t that you were “expected” to do too much (overly frequent confession). The problem was that you allowed your “feelings” to overmaster your faith, to the point where you had to MAKE YOUR FAITH CONFORM TO YOUR FEELINGS, rather than the other way around.

I wish that you would consult a spiritual counselor who is familiar with scrupulosity and with CHRISTIAN psychology, to help you see where you allowed yourself to go wrong in the first place, followed by a good spiritual director who will help you to go back and re-examine your CATHOLIC faith once you have adequately addressed the real reason (scrupulosity) you left it in the first place.

My prayers are with you.


#8

Melchior:

But as a Catholic I understood myself to be in a state of mortal peril daily since I had committed mortal sins in my heart all the time.

From the Cathechism (CCC) located at:
Catechism
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” 131

Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 8, SubSection 4

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.” 132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 8, SubSection 4

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart 133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 8, SubSection 4

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

Melchior:

What if I fall asleep and have an impure thought and die in my sleep before I wake up and repent?

Sorry, but that doesn’t qualify as a willful turning away from God. It is unlikely that your free will is even active during that dozing, twilight zone immediately before sleep.

Both posters above gave good advice. Perhaps someone can recommend a good bok on scrupulosity.

Peace in Christ…Salmon


#9

Melchior

*Right now I am confident that God both saved me and sustains me in the faith. *

Do you have any problems at all with the following excerpts from the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification?

**The Justified as Sinner **

We confess together that in baptism the Holy Spirit unites one with Christ, justifies, and truly renews the person. But the justified must all through life constantly look to God’s unconditional justifying grace. They also are continuously exposed to the power of sin still pressing its attacks (cf. Rom 6:12-14) and are not exempt from a lifelong struggle against the contradiction to God within the selfish desires of the old Adam (cf. Gal 5:16; Rom 7:7-10). The justified also must ask God daily for forgiveness as in the Lord’s Prayer (Mt. 6:12; 1 Jn 1:9), are ever again called to conversion and penance, and are ever again granted forgiveness.

**Assurance of Salvation **

We confess together that the faithful can rely on the mercy and promises of God. In spite of their own weakness and the manifold threats to their faith, on the strength of Christ’s death and resurrection they can build on the effective promise of God’s grace in Word and Sacrament and so be sure of this grace.

This was emphasized in a particular way by the Reformers: in the midst of temptation, believers should not look to themselves but look solely to Christ and trust only him. In trust in God’s promise they are assured of their salvation, but are never secure looking at themselves.


#10

Here is the crux for me. It seems to me that Salvation in Catholicism is extremely fleeting and ultimately all up to us in the end.

What you abandoned was a distortion of Catholicism, not Catholicism. What you abandoned was Pelagianism - a heresy - anathematised by the Christian Church.

Here is a link to what the Catholic Church teaches about Justification

carm.org/catholic/trent.htm

As you weren’t an adult and you didn’t abandon the truth this passage is not likely to be dirrected at you, however, it can provide food for thought…

                              2 John 9 

[/font]Whosoever revolteth and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son.

It is the Christian Catholic Church which Teaches with the auhtority of Christ and her teachings are readily avaiable for free online.

scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm


#11

The truth is that you can have peace if mind in the catholic church, and probably more at that because you know for sure the truths which Christ wants you to know. It sounds like you have gotten the wrong impression about what the church’s message is. As a catholic, I can have a deep hope/confidence in my salvation. I also have all of the gifts of grace that Jesus gives to me in the sacraments, which help me to grow in Christ more and more.


#12

[quote=Melchior]What I mean is this as Lutheran I know faith without works is dead. But I also know that I am forgiven provided I daily repent of my sins. I know that if I die today (so long as I trust in Christ) He is faithful and merciful and I am forgiven.

Now how can I be Catholic knowing I can never have any real peace of mind. How can I hope in Christ is that mercy is so fragile and difficult to obtain. I still remember after all these years the utter terror of dying outside a state of Grace. Not just fear, but actual terror. That’s what being Catholic was to me, a legalistic religion that held sinners to an impossible standard the standard of the law and not the gospel. Since we are all sinners and indeed most of us sin daily how can we ever hope to be saved? I am just so wary of raising my children in a church that makes hope seem impossible.
[/quote]

Mel,

The description you give above of Christ being faithful and merciful as long as you trust in him is an integral part of the Catholic teaching; just as it was in Luther’s own day. The ability to daily repent of your sins and trust in Christ’s mercy is exactly what the Church teaches. As a Catholic, when I have repented of my sins, I receive God’s grace. Additionally, I understand that when Jesus gave the Apostles the ability to forgive sins in His name (cf: John 20:21-23) He was establishing the way He wants us to approach us for His forgiveness and, therefore, I desire to go to confession to have greater assurance that I am in the state of grace. However, the Church teaches that my desire to confess will suffice should I die before I can get to confession. Your terror was based on an incomplete understanding of the Catholic teaching. According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, God’s mercy is as simple as a prayer and as beautiful as the Sacrament of Confession. Anyone who experiences fear from the Catholic teaching simply doesn’t understand it; for the Church is constantly teaching that God is just, merciful, and loving.


#13

To go back to your example and to apply your impression of the legalistic nature of the Catholic teaching on to your professed understanding of Lutheran belief, exactly how do you know if your repentance is true? After all, repentance must include the determination not to fall into the same sin again, but sin again we all do. You say that Catholicism is legalistic, but so is all of Protestantism, even though they don’t seem to realize it. One of the legalistic aspects of Protestantism (including Lutheranism as we have discussed in another thread <and I’m still awaiting your answer in that thread>) is the idea that faith alone is the standard by which we are saved. Yes, I do understand that you believe that faith must be accompanied by works but in the end, it is only faith that determines whether or not you are in the state of grace. (“State of grace” is simply a term that describes the state of a soul that will go to heaven.) What of all those poor souls who lived in the American continents between the time Christ founded the Church and the arrival of missionaries? Did they all go straight to hell because they didn’t believe in Christ? No matter how good they were and no matter how closely they followed the natural law that God writes on each of our hearts? If we are all saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone then those people must be damned even though they literally couldn’t have the required faith in Christ. What could be more legalistic than that?

You believe that works are required as evidence that your faith is alive (not dead) but that they do nothing toward our justification. Is that not also legalistic? We are required to do works simply because we are required. Catholics are required to do works as well, but we believe that God has promised rewards for those works. (Note: We don’t earn those rewards because the works we do don’t deserve them, God gives them as an act of pure grace because He has promised to reward our works. The reason is not the merit of our works but the merit of Christ’s sacrifice and the promise of God.)

The Catholic Church teaches that the ultimate test for determining whether or not a soul is in the state of grace is that soul’s disposition toward God and that God is the only one who can pass such a judgment. This is why the Church teaches that, while the grace of salvation only comes to us through the Church, those who, through no fault of their own, remain outside of the Church can attain heaven through the grace entrusted only to her. This is due to the mercy and the justice of God; which are both perfect and always in complete agreement.


#14

I’m often tempted to succumb to scrupulosity, and so I sympathize with Martin Luther’s anxieties.

Consider what mortal sin really is: a deliberate act. No mortal sin is accidental. Mortal sins don’t just “happen”. Mortal sins are chosen, knowingly and willingly.

That rules out the possibility of losing our salvation while falling asleep or when disturbing thoughts come and go without any invitation on our part. To paraphrase Dr. Mark Lowery, it’s unintended arrogance to believe such things manipulate God’s grace that easily. And I’m often guilty of thinking this way.

It’s helpful to remember that God is not a sovereign Tyrant who extrinsically imposes arbitrary rules on slaves. Rather, authentic Catholic morality presents Him as the sovereign Father who gives us the gift of His own Life, so that, as sons, we can participate in His Truth and Goodness.

Unfortunately, defective catechesis infected with nominalism, whether in Martin Luther’s time or in our’s, might have given the impression that God was the sovereign Tyrant. No wonder generations of Catholics often lived in servile fear. Neither is it surprising that some were so burdened with the thought of losing their salvation on a whim that they fled into moral autonomy.

The good news is that we’re undergoing a renewal of Catholic life. Pope John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor goes a long way in addressing the heteronomous (and autonomous) distortions of the past which led us away from the peace which only life in Christ can bring.


#15

In checking out "Catholic Culture"s web site today I found a link to an article about working with scrupulosity.

Perhaps it will help Melchior.

Here it is: catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?RecNum=4248


#16

Mel,

I offer you this quote from St. Athanasius to consider. Perhaps this aspect of Catholic Moral Theology was not emphasized to you when you were a kid. It ought to have been. …

St. Athanasius (ca. AD 358 )

We, however, apart from the Spirit, are strange and distant from God. Thus, our being in the Father is not of ourselves, but is in the Spirit who is in us and who abides in us, and whose presence in us we preserve by our confession of the faith. … **Therefore, when someone falls from the Spirit through any wickedness—that grace indeed remains irrevocably with those **who are willing to repent after such a fall. (Discourses Against the Arians, 3, 24-25, ca. AD 358 )


#17

Mel,

It’s difficult to live in fear if one keeps in mind the following passages from Scripture.

“Love covers all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12)
**“Love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet 4:8) **

Some Catechesis on perfect sorrow for sins, called contrition:

From the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X:

**Q: What is contrition or sorrow for sins? **

A: Contrition or sorrow for sin is a grief of the soul leading us to detest sins committed and to resolve not to commit them any more.

Q: What does the word contrition mean?

A: Contrition means a crushing or breaking up into pieces as when a stone is hammered and reduced to dust.

Q: Why is the name of contrition given to sorrow for sin?

A: The name of contrition is given to sorrow for sin to signify that the hard heart of the sinner is in a certain way crushed by sorrow for having offended God. …

**Q: Of all the parts of the sacrament of Penance which is the most necessary? **

A: Of all the parts of the sacrament of Penance the most necessary is contrition, because without it no pardon for sins is obtainable, while with it alone, perfect pardon can be obtained, provided that along with it there is the desire, at least implicit, of going to confession. …

**Q: How many kinds of sorrow are there? **

A: Sorrow is of two kinds: perfect sorrow or contrition; and imperfect sorrow or attrition.

Q: What is perfect sorrow or contrition?

A: Perfect sorrow is a grief of soul for having offended God because He is infinitely good and worthy of being loved for His own sake.

Q: Why do you call the sorrow of contrition perfect sorrow?

A: I call the sorrow of contrition perfect sorrow for two reasons: (1) Because it considers the goodness of God alone and not our own advantage or loss; (2) Because it enables us at once to obtain pardon for sins, even though the obligation to confess them still remains. …

**Q: Why does perfect sorrow or contrition produce the effect of restoring us to the grace of God? **

A: Perfect sorrow or contrition produces this effect, because it proceeds from charity which cannot exist in the soul together with sin.

**Q: What is imperfect sorrow or attrition? **

A: Imperfect sorrow or attrition is that by which we repent of having offended God because He is our Supreme Judge, that is, for fear of the chastisement deserved in this life or in the life to come, or because of the very foulness of sin itself.


#18

Mel, you sound as if you have found a way to sin during the day and still sleep like a baby at night. :stuck_out_tongue:

Could you clarify a few statements for me? You said:

"Salvation in Catholicism is extremely fleeting "- Not unless you are perpetually commiting mortal sin!

“as Lutheran I know faith without works is dead. But I also know that I am forgiven provided I daily repent of my sins. I know that if I die today (so long as I trust in Christ) He is faithful and merciful and I am forgiven.” - What if you die in a state of serious sin? What are the consequences? You said you dont believe in “once saved always saved” .

" I know that I can walk away from the faith and in doing so put my soul in mortal peril" - is this the only way to lose your salvation? If yes, then there are no consequence for sin!

" I understood myself to be in a state of mortal peril daily since I had committed mortal sins in my heart all the time. Even though I would repent several times a day I would fear death in one of those innumerable and unavoidable times of sin. What if I fall asleep and have an impure thought and die in my sleep before I wake up and repent? -what are you referring to as “unavoidable times of sin”?, if it is really unavoidable then it wouldnt be even considered sin in the first place, certainly not mortal sin. The example you give of an impure dream is no good because for a sin to be mortal it must have been committed with full consent of the will, I dont think your subconscious counts.

“That’s what being Catholic was to me, a legalistic religion that held sinners to an impossible standard the standard of the law and not the gospel.”- its not impossible to avoid serious sin, its called “self discipline” and “spiritual maturity.” Show me where to gospel teaches us that there is no consequence for our sins or that following Jesus is supposed to be easy. I can show you exactly where it teaches that there will be severe punishment sin and that following Jesus will be extremely difficult, most wont be willing.

“Since we are all sinners and indeed most of us sin daily how can we ever hope to be saved?”- i dont think you understand the difference between venial and mortal sin. Not all sin causes the loss of sanctifying grace; only serious sin, committed with full knowledge and with full consent of the will cuts us off from God’s grace.

“I am just so wary of raising my children in a church that makes hope seem impossible.”- are you going to teach them that they have no hope of avoiding serious sin? You are the one taking hope away! will you teach them its impossible for them not to have premarital sex, because after all, they have no hope of controlling themselves! Oh yea, and they are going to do it anyway right?


#19

Melchior,

You have gotten some good answers. I just wanted to additionally point out why I think that God’s plan to normatively have sins forgiven through the sacrament of confession is a good one.

If you teach your children “once saved, always saved” (I know you don’t, but some people do) then when they grow up and perhaps experience very deeply their own sinfulness, it can cause them to doubt their salvation. That can happen even if you teach your children that they just need to “daily repent of their sins” and have faith; and what happens if they have a crisis of faith?

I think that’s why Christ instituted the sacrament of confession. I teach my children that no matter what they might do, God is always ready to welcome them back provided they are sorry, even if their contrition is imperfect. And I think the experience of hearing the words of forgiveness from the priest who is acting in persona Christi makes it much easier to believe that we actually ARE forgiven. It’s more objective, less subjective. Also, the experience of having to say out loud to someone else what you did can be a deterrent in the future. :slight_smile:

Also, of course, one receives many graces from the sacrament (also often some spiritual direction), so frequent confession is recommended even if one is not conscious of any mortal sin.


#20

[quote=Melchior]This is a spin-off of the stumbling blocks to Catholicism thread. This is a very candid post. You have been warned.

This is a subjective post. But since it goes to the heart of why I left the Catholic Church and became a Protestant while I was still a child it is important to me. I also wish to avoid supposed implication of Sola Fide and “once saved always saved”. Particularly the latter since many here seem to think all Protestants believe this, which many don’t, including me.

’ {Difficulty with Catholic teachings/living re: confession & salvaton}’

Right now I am confident that God both saved me and sustains me in the faith. I realize that apostasy is possible but I am confident of better things. I don’t know that I could sleep at night as a catholic. My focus would be on judgment not mercy.

Does anyone know where I am coming from?

Mel
[/quote]

Mel, I’m glad you made this post as it validates somthing I have always thought about why Catholics leave the Church. That is that living life as a Catholic is difficult and it’s much easier in any of the Protestant faiths. And that it is probable that when we hear a Protestant say that they don’t have to confess their sins to a man what they are reallly saying it that they don’t want to be concerned with worrying about whether the sins will actually be forgiven. It’s easier for them to fool themselves and believe that they can just sit there in their living room and say “I’m sorry God” and believe that everlything is OK. Especiallly when they know that in the Bible (you know "Sola Scriptura) that Christ gave Peter and the Apostles the ability to forgive or not to forgive sins in “persona Christi”. Protestants kind of just read right over that part; “Whatever you shall forgive will be forgiven, whatever you shall retain shall be retained.” And the only way for them to do either is for sins to be verbalized to them for them to know what to forgive or to retain.

Continued…


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.