Earn Heaven


#1

As a convert to Catholicism from a fundamentalist background it concerns me sometimes when cradle Catholics misspeak. I was at a wonderful Catholic women's retreat this past weekend. It was a very wonderful day but in a small group discussion a young Catholic said it was her job to get to heaven and that her goal was to "earn Heaven". Of course this prickled my ex-fundamentalist skin and thought now if she had said that amongst a group of fundamentalists she would be lead to the slaughter. I wanted to pipe up and say Catholics don't really teach the, but it would have been inappropriate in the context of the small group to correct her and secondly my 40 year old mush brain couldn't think of a short and succinct way to explain that Catholics don't "earn " salvation. I know what she meant but if she had said that in from of a group of Fundamentalist it would confirm all their fears about Catholics. So I have since pondered what i might say in the future if a similar situation arose to gently correct the erroneous misconception that a statement like that creates. Anyway how would you explain that Catholics don't teach that one needs to "earn" their way to heaven? And what might a Catholic say instead of "I'm earning my way to heaven", which is incorrect. I was pondering maybe to say something like " I am continuing to workout my salvation". Anyway your thoughts and opinions will be appreciated.


#2

Great question.

I prefer the phrase, "be worthy". I seek to be worthy of the free Gift of salvation offered to me by God.

To me, the desire to be worthy speaks to a root of gratitude. It speaks to a proper response to so great a gift.

For example...I have the most wonderful wife. I do not deserve her, and I most certainly did not "earn" her. However - in thankful response to her free gift of herself to me, I have endeavored to "be worthy" of her.

Of course there can be many many more involved discussions on this matter, but if you are looking for something succinct, perhaps this will fill the bill.

Peace
James


#3

this is just one example of a larger problem within the Church! Catholics dont know thier own faith!.. This is why Life long Catholics can get easily picked off by other denominations, who then go on to preach against the “lies” of the Church. We have a real chatechesis crisis within the Church.

My responce to your orginal question it this:

No one can earn thier way into Heaven, only by the grace of God and by virtue of our faith in the salvific offer of Christ can we be given the grace nessesary for salvation, however if we have true faith good works will follow. Since as a follower of Christ we are called to tithle, serve the orphans and widows, and be the light of Christ to the world. As St. James says “Faith without works is dead”

However: since we believe God takes joy in the Good works His servants perform in His name out of Love for Him, that he will reward us in the next life, not because He owes us anything (we owe Him everything, he owes us nothing!), but because he loves us and like a Father who is proud of thier child rewards them, we believe that God our Father will reward us as well. What shape that reward will entail we cannot know, but we hope and trust in God’s loving care for us.

hope that helps


#4

[quote="deanarrca, post:1, topic:314499"]
As a convert to Catholicism from a fundamentalist background it concerns me sometimes when cradle Catholics misspeak. I was at a wonderful Catholic women's retreat this past weekend. It was a very wonderful day but in a small group discussion a young Catholic said it was her job to get to heaven and that her goal was to "earn Heaven". Of course this prickled my ex-fundamentalist skin and thought now if she had said that amongst a group of fundamentalists she would be lead to the slaughter. I wanted to pipe up and say Catholics don't really teach the, but it would have been inappropriate in the context of the small group to correct her and secondly my 40 year old mush brain couldn't think of a short and succinct way to explain that Catholics don't "earn " salvation. I know what she meant but if she had said that in from of a group of Fundamentalist it would confirm all their fears about Catholics. So I have since pondered what i might say in the future if a similar situation arose to gently correct the erroneous misconception that a statement like that creates. Anyway how would you explain that Catholics don't teach that one needs to "earn" their way to heaven? And what might a Catholic say instead of "I'm earning my way to heaven", which is incorrect. I was pondering maybe to say something like " I am continuing to workout my salvation". Anyway your thoughts and opinions will be appreciated.

[/quote]

Here are some quotes from Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.

"By his good works the justified man really acquires a claim to supernatural reward from God. (De fide.)"

"A just man merits for himself through each good work an increase of sanctifying grace, eternal life (if he dies in a state of grace) and an increase of heavenly glory. (De fide.) "

From this I don't see what is wrong with the woman saying "earn". "Merit" might be a better word but other than this I believe she is right.

The initial grace of belief cannot be earned, that is, God alone can give us the gift of faith to start with, and there is no way we could earn that. But after receiving the faith, when we possess the gift of faith and are in sanctifying grace, then we may earn/merit more grace and a higher glory in heaven. So she is correct, tho I must admit it does sound a bit self centered when isolated by itself.

If the fundmentalists were present, then this would need explaination so they would understand the catholic position. But if they are entrenched in their own tradition, I doubt if this would be understood in lieu of "faith only" doctrine. But we would please the Lord to try to explain, and then the rest is up to Him to give them inner illumination.

Just some thoughts.


#5

Hi Dean,

You can hardly do better than "I am continuing to workout my salvation". This is lifted straight from the Bible. In Philippians 2, 12-13, Paul writes, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his purpose.”

It is God who works in us, Our "work" is to cooperate with his grace.

Verbum


#6

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.