Well, it’s like this whole idea that the Catholic Church teaches salvation by grace alone. A lot of Catholics have embraced this. But it isn’t true. These words are causing the confusion:
Together we confess: By grace alone
These words are found in the “JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION” by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. Apparently, based upon these words, many Catholics are beginning to say that the Catholic Church teaches salvation by grace alone.
But no one, apparently, reads the fine print. If they read a bit further, they’d find this:
- “Where, however, Lutheran teaching construes the relation of God to his human creatures in justification with such emphasis on the divine ‘monergism’ or the sole efficacy of Christ in such a way, that the person’s willing acceptance of God’s grace - which is itself a gift of God - has no essential role in justification, then the Tridentine canons 4, 5, 6 and 9 still constitute a notable doctrinal difference on justification” (PCPCU 22).
In other words, the Catholic Church teaches synergism between the grace of God and man’s will to be saved. Anti-Catholic Lutherans teach monergism, the grace of God overpowers man’s will and forces some to be saved. If these Lutherans with whom we can say, “by grace alone”, claim that the Catholic Church is now accepting monergism, they are sorely mistaken and the condemnations of Trent, still apply.
If however, they have reinterpreted monergism and grace alone to mean that man must cooperate with God’s grace, then we are on the same page.
To me, this is a sign that the Catholic Church is bending over backwards to save as many people as she can. But she is not changing the Doctrines of Jesus Christ to do so. If she ever did that, she would not save anyone and imperil everyone. That is why God has given her the Charism of infallibility.
And no, she does not Teach salvation by grace alone. Historically, that is the Protestant doctrine that man has no free will, that priests are unnecessary, that the Church is unnecessary, it facilitates the doctrine of double predestination, in other words, it is one of the foundational doctrines of Protestantism. Unless it is re-interpreted, as that small group of Lutherans have apparently done.