Council of trent/Justification

I grew up the son of a Baptist pastor and am currently going through RCIA. I have numerous friends on all sides of Protestantism telling me why my wife and I planning to join the RCC is a wrong choice. One friend who is a Reformed pastor made the point below:

You could both read the Reformers on WHY they were working towards Reformation. And you could also read the RCC document in reaction to that, the Council of Trent, especially the areas that refer to justification. Ultimately, it boils down to the gospel and whether you believe that Christ finished the work on the cross or didn’t and needed stuff added to it from our good works. I could give you some things to read, but really you have to focus on the gospel/atonement aspects of it all. It’s all of Christ OR it is Christ and…

What answers can I give?

The Necessity of Being Catholic
chnetwork.org/journals/nesschurch/ness_7.htm

What is the Gospel?
cin.org/users/james/ebooks/gospjust/gospel.htm

Salvation Past, Present and Future
ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/PASTPRES.htm

Justification in Catholic Teaching
ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/JUSTIF.htm
cin.org/users/james/files/justcath.htm

Justification by Christ Alone
cin.org/users/james/files/christ_a.htm

Justification by Grace Alone
cin.org/users/james/files/grace_al.htm

Justification by Faith Alone?
ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/SOLAFIDE.htm

Righteousness and Merit
ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/RIGHTEOU.htm

A Tiptoe Through TULIP
romancatholicism.org/akin-tulip.htm

The Works of the Law
cin.org/users/james/files/work-law.htm

The Justifications of Abraham
ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/ABRAHAM.htm

Justification in James 2
ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/JAMES2.htm

Not By Faith Alone – 2
chnetwork.org/journals/justification/justify_8.htm

The Predestination Debate
ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/LOSS.htm

Well I think isolating what role they find works to play is key. Also how do they view how justification occurs, what is a justified state, etc. Now then finding a common ground with them is the next step. Both you and them can agree that justification occurs by faith. That is of surety. However can one fall from a state of justification? Questions like this will open the door for discussion and place both of you on a common ground trying to figure out the Truth scripturally. And you will have to use sola scriptura reasoning with them as that is the only thing that they will accept to alter their viewpoint.

Many non-Catholics have a misunderstanding about what the Church teaches on salvation. Your Pastor friend is an example of this when he says he thinks the Church teaches that we “need stuff added to it from our good works.”

The Church says that the initial grace of justification comes on the basis of faith and is a free gift. But from that point on you need to maintain yourself in a state of grace by obedience to God’s Commandments. As the Catechism says, the “ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and…the justified man is still bound to keep them…” (Paragraph 2068) If you commit a serious enough sin, it will extinguish the life of grace within your soul and leave you spiritually dead again. (1 Jn 5:16-17, Gal 5:19-21) If that happens, you need to repent of that sin and seek God’s forgiveness so that He can re-justify you. In other words, once you have been justified by faith there’s a certain minimum level of righteous living necessary to avoid forfeiting what you have gained by faith, but works are not required to get the initial grace of salvation.

One of the reformers wrote that faith alone will save you even though you commit adultery 100 times a day. The Church, however, warns that such a person will perish as a washed sow that has returned to wallowing in the mire. (2 Pt 2:22)

Verses such as Ephesian 2:8-9 (For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God–not because of works, lest any man should boast), often quoted by non-Catholics, deal only with how one gets the initial grace of salvation.

Remind your Pastor friend that the Church baptizes infants. It teaches that the initial grace is so freely given that God will justify an infant brought forward for baptism by his parents and godparents. As the Catechism says, “The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism.” (Paragraph 1250)

A lot of times, fundamentalists incorrectly believe that Catholics think we can “earn our salvation.” This is simply NOT true. Works alone don’t cut the mustard. Faith alone doesn’t cut the mustard either (as St. James states in his Epistle).

I often like to point out an extreme example, that devil worshipers often believe Christ is real. They just chose to worship the evil instead. Therefore, they have “faith,” but they are not justified.

My other thought experiment is this: let’s assume that the fundamentalist view is true. Let’s assume that a Baptist pastor believes he is saved. One day, he comes home and finds his wife and children brutally murdered for their faith, hacked to pieces (sorry for the graphic imagery). He become overcome with sadness, hopelessness, anger and hatred and blames God. His earthly life is shattered and he blasphemes against God and sins against the Holy Spirit. In his rage and hatred towards God, he goes to his gun closet and kills himself while cursing God.

[LIST]
*]Was the person saved or not? He lived his whole adult life thinking he was saved. Baptists believe once saved, always saved. They believe that if you are truly saved, you won’t do what Catholics call “mortal sins.” Even if they believe in free will. So was he saved? Do any of us on earth know?
[/LIST]

The Catholic Answer is that we humans do not know who is saved or not saved, that we only learn during our judgment. We Catholics (and the all of the Orthodox) believe that truly accepting Jesus into your heart is just the BEGINNING of your faith journey, not the end.

Catholic believe we have free will. And to use, that means that at anytime we can truly accept Jesus in our hearts and then we can give into temptation by sin or perhaps even rejecting God. A healthy prayer life helps us fight temptation. But the sacraments also help us to fight temptation (especially if we truly believe in the Sacraments), especially confession (I can personally testify how powerful Confession is to helping me refrain from sexual sin).

Personally, from my point of view, living your life believing you are already saved is very prideful. You are assuming you know something that only God knows. Pride is the root of all sin and can lead to arrogance etc.

The Catholic view is that we do not know, so we need to focus on continuing to improve our lives by working on becoming more holy. Not just in actions, but in mind, body and soul.

I pray that this is helpful. My you find peace and joy as this Advent Season comes to a close and as the Christmas season approaches.

God Bless!

Your friend is wrong.

Perhaps let your friend know that if he actually read the gospels, he will see Jesus repeatedly telling people to do things. To do radical and challenging things.

These things weren’t for their salvation. But obedience to Christ and demonstrative faith is required. Jesus makes it clear.

Perhaps your friend could read “is the reformation over” by Evangelical Mark knoll. It is an error to live in the 1500’s. We’ve had 500 years of teaching since.

I am convinced from my studies that neither Luther nor Calvin would be protesting the catholic church as it stands today.

Luther might not. Without a doubt Calvin would.

catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2014/01/three-major-arguments-against-assurance.html?m=1

SYNERGISM! We work out our salvation with He who works in us. We cant possibly be saved in any way, shape, or form without Him, and yet He elects to save us with us. Because the whole point of His creating us to begin with is to eventually arrive at perfect justice, where He is all in all and creation is aligned with His perfect will. Otherwise there would be no reason to allow Adam to fall to begin with. As Adam freely fell, we’re here to learn why and how to freely rise, not without the help of grace, but grace that we can reject. As Augustine put it: “He who created us without our consent does not save us without our consent”.

Read the Paranle of the Talents, keeping in mind what happens to the lazy servant, as well as Matt 25:31-46 and Luke 12:48. We’re expected to do something-the best we can- with what we’re given: revelation, grace, time, opportunity.

While the leap to not protest would be easier to bridge for Luther, I do not believe that Calvin would have felt the need to protest if the Political and Civil nature of the Church was as it is today rather than as it was in the 1500s.

Granted in response to his protest he came up with wild doctrines and ideas, but would he have even gone down that road with the Church as it is today…I personally cannot say that he definitely would have. I think it is far more likely he would have stayed in the church.

Yes, Calivn would. Well, not anymore; he knows better now! :slight_smile:

I am the son of a Lutheran pastor, and though I am not (yet) where you are, not ready to pursue RCIA,I would respectfully offer a couple of thoughts.

  1. The evidence presented in recent decades regarding the Catholic view of justification is not one of works righteousness. I think, frankly, there are some protestant communities who better define that term.

  2. If I get to that point, I expect the same kinds of questions, and my response would be I intend to pursue this, and allow the Spirit to lead me. I hope you will pray for my discernment.

I don’t know if any of that helps, but I will pray for the guidance of the Spirit, and your discernment.

Jon

:thumbsup: well said!

Thanks for all of the comments and links.

I think the parable of talents and just looking at the words of Jesus are great advice especially when bringing things up to the protestants who look at sola scriptura.

There is even a whole epistle in the NT largely focused on that issue.

What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works?.. Shall faith be able to save him?.. Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?.. For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:14, 24, 26)

To say nothing of the rest of the NT.

Earl of Funk.

You asked about Protestants and . . .

Ultimately, it boils down to the gospel and whether you believe that Christ finished the work on the cross or didn’t and needed stuff added to it from our good works.

Saying . . .

What answers can I give?

Suggest this to them:

Actually. Ultimately, it boils down to the gospel and whether you believe that Christ finished the work on the cross and CONTINUES finishing HIS work on the cross (Jesus’ work transcends time as Revelation 13:8 reminds us) and if we accept that work.

For example can your natural belief save you? I have had many non-Catholics think it can.

Yet the Bible talks about Christ as the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith (Hebrews 12:2 and also Cf. John 2:23-25). So if we have to believe, does that ADD to the work of Christ too?

If the answer is “yes” they have the same issue. If the answer is “no”, than I can say the same thing about Jesus’ works in me.

If we have to work does THAT add to the work of Christ if He is the author and finisher of our works done in grace? No! It illustrates HIS ongoing work.

CCC 2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

PHILIPPIANS 2:12a 12 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 . . .

HOW can we possibly WORK out our own salvation!!??

Fortunately St. Paul tells us in the very next sentence how. By God WORKING within us!

PHILIPPIANS 2:12-13 12 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; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

2nd CORINTHIANS 6:1 1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.

PHILIPPIANS 4:13 13 I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

GALATIANS 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

EPHESIANS 3:20-21 20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

HEBREWS 13:20a, 21 20 “Now may the God of peace . . . . 21 equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

ROMANS 8:8-11 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.

**
JOHN 6:55-56** 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

1st THESSALONIANS 2:13 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

**
PHILIPPIANS 1:6** 6 And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

ROMANS 6:3-5 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

1st CORINTHIANS 9:1 1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord

This from the Council of Trent too (when they tell you Trent taught we get saved by our own mere works):

Trent:

Canon 1.
If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law,[110] without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.

Hope this helps.

God bless.

Cathoholic

Hi Earl of Funk!
Greetings from the Fr of Jazz.

Get your friends to start examining their position. There are numerous problems:

  1. “Faith and trust in Jesus” or “faithful trust and acceptance . . .” is adding something to Christ’s work. It is a choice, a decision, and act of the will no less than the choice to live by all the teachings (including the moral teachings) of Jesus. If the true sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice is denied by adding anything, we wouldn’t even need to know what Jesus did or respond in any way. It would just save us automatically. Anything else would be an addition. So we both hold that Jesus sacrifice is sufficient to save us by the means God chose, and not just by its own utter, isolated self-sufficiency.

  2. It contradicts the teaching of Jesus and the NT taken as a whole. Faith includes belief in the teaching of Jesus and His teaching includes moral content.

  3. Isn’t repentance necessary for salvation too? Why isn’t that adding something?

Again, we both hold that Jesus sacrifice is sufficient to save us by the means God chose, and not just by its own utter, isolated self-sufficiency.

To make the inherent contradiction of their position clear read this post by Matt Slick entitled “How to become a Christian” and count how many time he urges readers to “do” something, i.e., make a (moral) choice.

I would suggest that you listen to Scott Hahn’s “The Fourth Cup” in which he explains what Jesus meant when he said on the cross, “It is finished.”

Hello Fr of Jazz,

QUOTE=Fr of Jazz;12600344]Hi Earl of Funk!
Greetings from the Fr of Jazz.

Get your friends to start examining their position. There are numerous problems:

  1. “Faith and trust in Jesus” or “faithful trust and acceptance . . .” is adding something to Christ’s work. It is a choice, a decision, and act of the will no less than the choice to live by all the teachings (including the moral teachings) of Jesus. If the true sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice is denied by adding anything, we wouldn’t even need to know what Jesus did or respond in any way. It would just save us automatically. Anything else would be an addition. So we both hold that Jesus sacrifice is sufficient to save us by the means God chose, and not just by its own utter, isolated self-sufficiency.

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

4.3/25 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.

4.3/27.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.

The way the human race went into the state of mortal sin, in the same way/principle the human race (those who are NOT REJECTING the grace of God) go into the state of grace.

Did we contribute anything to Adam’s sin to condemn us?

The answer of course is NO.

Do we have to contribute anything to Christ’s sacrifice to take us to the state of grace/saved.

The exact same principle! Our salvation is God’s FREE GIFT.

As the above JOINT DECLARATION also explains it: The answer of course is NO.

For our sins the debt we owed to God, Christ on the cross, paid in full.

If Christ on the cross would paid only half of our debt we owed to God, then our salvation would be HALF of God’s gift and we would have to pay the other half of our debt to God by our suffering the penalty of our sins. – This would mean; our salvation is: HALF God’s gift and the other HALF is by our own payment/merit.

Without our participation in Adam’s sin we were AUTOMATICALLY CONDEMNED.

If we don’t reject the grace of God, through God’s gift of faith without our contribution to Christ’s sacrifice and without our contribution to our justification and salvation we are AUTOMATICALLY SAVED.

How is this possible? First in Christ we need to be saved.

Our salvation PRECEDES our ability of supernatural decisions/merit (1 Cor.2:14-15; 2 Cor.3:14-16; etc.) and our ability of supernatural works/merit.

Strictly speaking only a person in the STATE OF GRACE can merit, as defined by the Church.” (Denzinger 1576, 1582)

PROOF

  1. Our faith is God’s free gift.

We received God’s gift of salvation through faith by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God.

As the JOINT DECLARATION above explains it:

We have no contribution involved with Christ’s sacrifice or to our justification or to our salvation. – How could we even contribute anything to Christ sacrifice or to our salvation???; when our salvation PRECEDES our supernatural merit!!!

CONCLUSION

In the way Adam’s sin AUTOMATICALLY put the human race to the state of mortal sin, in the same way, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (those who are NOT REJECTING it) AUTOMATICALLY put the human race to the state of grace.
Those who are rejecting the grace of God end up in hell.

The above theological fact and principle is one of the bests demonstration of God’s justice and love.

  1. It contradicts the teaching of Jesus and the NT taken as a whole. Faith includes belief in the teaching of Jesus and His teaching includes moral content.

To freely accept the gift of faith, “THE WILL IS PREPARED BY THE LORD.” – Canon 4 of the Council of Orange (529 AD); John 6:44-45.

CONCLUSION

Our acceptance of God’s gift of faith dependent on God’s unfathomable grace and contributes NOTHING to justification or salvation and contributes NOTHING to Christ’s work on the cross.

Our good decisions and our good works AFTER OUR SALVATION as we are in the state of grace [are supernatural merit (if we are qualified to do supernatural merit)] rewarded by God.

Our supernatural merit cannot be used to purchase the grace of God in any shape or form (Rom.4:4; Rom.11:6; etc.), cannot be contributed to our salvation or to Christ’s work on the cross.

If we mix together Christ’s merit on the cross with our supernatural merit, that is the pollution of the heart if the Gospel.

Furthermore, we would lose our ability to do supernatural merit!!!

Continued

I have grappled with this question many times. Part of me wants to admire Luther for his intentions, but I think he got the theology wrong in some respects. He also did himself no favours in the manner of his assertions. (Neither, I must add, did the Church do itself any favours in its reaction to him. It was 500 years ago, we must remember.)

It seems utterly insupportable that faith alone is necessary for salvation. I can profess and maintain faith, yet do whatever I like? That’s a strange view of life, theology aside.

You have to live in the world, but not be of the world. You have to take on the devil and stand up to him. You have to get out into uncomfortable territory and let people know that you will not be cowed, that you will not surrender your basic humanity.

I can see the obvious rebuttal: 'If you have faith, my son, you will live well anyway." (or some such platitude). The thing is, this is illogical, drawing an insupportable conclusion.
One might as well say, “If you have a nice family, you will live well,” or “If you believe in yourself, you will succeed.” It’s just meaningless, feel-good talk.

No, you have to put your faith where your mouth is and actually do something good in the world. Leading by example (but not arrogantly) is the best way to show your colours.

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