Defending Catholic View of Salvation


#1

A coworker of mine has been challenging my Catholic faith in the area of salvation. He said that in the Catholic construct, Faith + Works = Salvation and that the Bible teaches Faith = Salvation + Works. What would be the appropriate Catholic response to this?

In light of his formula for salvation above, he said that obedience comes as a result of salvation and that we are not called to clean up then come to Christ, but to come to Christ and let Him clean us up. If I disagree, he wants me to explain Romans 4:5 by answering where obedience comes in to play and what does it mean that God justifies the wicked.

This is my first posting. Any help is greatly appreciated.


#2

Your friend is incorrect (either mislead or dishonest) about what the church teaches. The catholic church has never taught that anyone can be saved by their works. In fact, the catholic church teaches that we are (almost) all unworthy of salvation. More to come on this subject.

and that the Bible teaches Faith = Salvation + Works. What would be the appropriate Catholic response to this?

Your friend is correct that this is what the PROTESTANT sects teach. However he is very incorrect in asserting that this is what the bible teaches. In truth the bible instructs exactly as the catholic position has always been:

Salvation comes only by the Grace of God (not faith)
which COMES THROUGH our faith
and that faith is MADE LIVING by our works.

you’ll clearly notice that your protestant friend has left out entirely the integral concept of grace which is taught by the church and supported by the catholic document known as the bible.

In light of his formula for salvation above, he said that obedience comes as a result of salvation and that we are not called to clean up then come to Christ, but to come to Christ and let Him clean us up.

There is no cleaning of sin EXCEPT through Christ. In other words, he should not be teaching catholic doctrine and then claiming it is not already the churches. The church has held this position for almost 2000 years now.

If I disagree, he wants me to explain Romans 4:5 by answering where obedience comes in to play and what does it mean that God justifies the wicked.

first, when quoting the bible it is polite to put the quote in so we don’t have to look it up. Second of all, your friend does not understand the difference between works of the law and works of christian charity, nor does he understand the motivation behind either.

  1. works of the law are those works prescribed by the pharisees. They were “designed towards salvation” but in truth do nothing for people. As such no matter how many works of the law are done, one is not saved by them. In fact, no action of the self can ever save man. The motivation here is self-salvation… a very BAD motivation.

  2. Works of Christian Charity (what the church teaches) are works that are NOT designed towards salvation. The doer knows that they gain nothing from doing these works except to sacrifice of themselves and thus to make their faith grow. The motivation is not self-salvation, but rather simply to do good for the sake of doing good works. These works complete the soul and make us grow in faith (see the church teaching on salvation by grace through faith made living by works above)

Ultimately, your friend falls prone to a grave error held by MANY protestants: since he lacks any authority or ability to infallibly interpret scriptures he has done a hack job taking romans 4:5 out of context and making it conflict with what the bible clearly teaches in whole. Pray for your friend’s soul and his turning back to the true church in which is kept the TRUE teachings of Christ.


#3

Thank you.

I know we do not earn grace, but is grace freely given to us or do we need to be justified first? How is a Catholic justified?


#4

catholic.com/library/Grace_What_It_Is.asp

If you go to the main website, you should be able to find more than enough information to get answers you’re looking for.


#5

Grace is freely given to those of faith. A catholic is ‘justified’ only as it’s document (the bible) says:
We are justified only by the grace of God through our living faith (and, as the book of james makes clear, the living faith DEMANDs works of Christian Charity to be made whole or otherwise is dead).


#6

Beautiful!!!:tiphat:

JOINT DECLARATION
ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION

[/FONT] by the Lutheran World Federation
and the Catholic Church


#7

So God still freely pours his grace into the hearts of even the wicked or do you have to be in some right relationship with God before he offers grace?

I just want to be 100% clear on this as I know my “friend” will be pressing me on this topic of grace. I have read the literature on the main page.

Thanks again and God bless.


#8

Welcome to CAF Dubgan! :tiphat:


#9

His grace is an unmerited gift to all. Think of it this way. He gives you a free gift. One has to choose to open it or not.


#10

To understand where the protestant is coming from you must understand what he means by grace and justification, here is a thread I made regarding what Protestants think about grace:
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=165229


#11

Salvation is a gift from God. It is pure grace.
James said,"Show me faith without works, and I will show you the faith that underlies my works."
Paul, who is most often quoted in the Faith=Salvation equation, said it is not enough to hear the Word of God, we must put that faith into action.
It is not the works themselves that lead to salvation, it is the gift of faith that allows us to do the work that is most pleasing to God. The works that we perform are a loving response to the gift of Salvation that God has given us.


#12

Thank you all. This is my first time using the forums. It is extremely helpful!

Two more questions, then I think I am done:

  1. I was asked regarding Hebrews 6:4-6. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”

He says it clearly states that if someone falls away and loses salvation, that person can never be saved again. Therefore, he is saying that justification can only be understood to be a one-time act. What is the appropriate Catholic response?

  1. He says paragraph 847 from the Catechism removes Christ from the picture of salvation. “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.” What is the appropriate Catholic response?

#13

When are we saved? at what point are we justified? certainly not while we are still on our road to the temple. No, salvation comes when we have reached the END of our journey and stand at the gates of God’s providence and He says to us “well done good and faithful servant.” If at that point we should reject God (for whatever stupid reason there may be) then we should be cast forever into the pit of fire.

  1. He says paragraph 847 from the Catechism removes Christ from the picture of salvation. “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.” What is the appropriate Catholic response?

It most certainly does NOT remove Jesus… in fact, it entrusts those poor invincibly ignorant souls directly to the loving mercy and compassion of the living Lord. Instead, what your friend is saying (much as a pharisee of old) is that HE (not God) is fit to judge these who by no fault of their own have been denied Christian truth and that HE (not God) is capable of determining the fate of their souls. Let me assure you, he is incorrect not to 1) hope and pray for the salvation of the invincibly ignorant souls, 2) trust in the mercy of God to forgive sins and 3) stay away from judging others…


#14

Dubgan,

I would be a little careful about the Bible translation being used. In the NAB the passage from Hebrews regarding repentance reads

“For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, **to bring them to **repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves”

The passage is talking about the impossibility of “bringing them to” repentance, not that forgiveness is impossible. It is also clear from the context, its like saying "how can you bring someone who has already experienced the benefits of Christianity and then regected them, back to the faith? Also, as always, in debates with non-Catholics, context is essential. This epistle was written to the Jewish community about reverting back to Judaism, which explains why they are “recrucifying” the Son of God—ie. rejecting him the in the same way He was rejected by the Sanhedrin.

As far as forgiving of sins after “falling away” the New Testament is full of them—start with the Prodigal Son. You can also make use of the authority that Jesus gave the Apostles to forgive sins:

“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:21–23)."

Also, look at the bright side. You are talking to a non-Catholic who doesn’t believe in “once saved always saved” and is using Hebrews as proof text. Looks like a potential convert to me!


#15

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