Faith Alone?


#1

If those who believe that “faith alone” assures salvation, what if evil men such as Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot said on thier death beds “i accept Jesus as my lord” Do you really think this enough to undo the evil someone has done?


#2

Actually, as a Catholic Christian I also believe a death bed conversion is enough to get any sincerely repentant person to heaven, just maybe an extended stay in purgatory.


#3

I guess what i was getting at was that i have met so many people who say they were “saved” yet know nothing about the teachings of our lord.


#4

satan believes in Jesus. he knows what God’s teachings are. and there aint no way in hell…pardon the pun…that he’s getting back into heaven.

bottom line, you have to take Christ’s teachings to heart and live the way He taught us to. You have to do good works, or else you’re not keeping God’s commandments, as He said those who love Him do. You can have all the faith you want and read the bible all you want, but if you dont do what the bible tells you to it won’t get you anywhere.


#5

If you are a good Christian then you naturally act like a good Christian. You are not a good Christian by only trying to *act *like a Christian.

That seems close but it really is very different.

Hadoque


#6

[quote=stevepgh]If those who believe that “faith alone” assures salvation, what if evil men such as Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot said on thier death beds “i accept Jesus as my lord” Do you really think this enough to undo the evil someone has done?
[/quote]

If the repentence was sincere, the possibility exists. Of course with Hitler, there is the end of his life in suicide as well to be dealt with. Thanks and God Bless.


#7

If the repentence was sincere, the possibility exists.

Exactly. Only God can be the judge of whether or not it is a sincere repentence.

For example: A fallen away Catholic did some horrible mortal sins. He/she is dying in the hospital. They are scared. They ask for a priest because they wish to confess and die moments after receiving the Sacrament. Even though this was an imperfect contrition, fear motivating it, it still does not make a person any less forgiven.

This would hold true if the contrition were perfect even without receiving the sacraments also.


#8

I’d like to point out that it’s not by “faith alone” but by “God’s Grace Alone.” It’s that they believe their faith in Jesus is enough to recieve all the GRACE necessary for salvation. I believe as Catholics we also believe that God’s grace is sufficent and anyone truly repentant can ask for forgiveness & receive God’s mercy - even on their death bed, regardless of the sins they’ve committed. I’m reminded of that parable of the workers - some worked all day, some only worked a very short time but all received the same pay. It doesn’t matter if you’ve believed in God your entire life or if you believed in Him for 5 minutes. What matters is are you sorry for your sins & have you asked for forgivness with a sincere heart. The rest is up to God.

So it would be possible for those terrible people to someday make it to heaven. Of course I’d expect an exceptionally LONG time in purgatory?


#9

[quote=stevepgh]If those who believe that “faith alone” assures salvation, what if evil men such as Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot said on thier death beds “i accept Jesus as my lord” Do you really think this enough to undo the evil someone has done?
[/quote]

Hi Stevepgh, :slight_smile:

Faith Alone is a concept I don’t believe truly exists. Why? Well, anyone who considers themselves a Christian, no matter how lapse, will endeavour occasionally at least to do some good in the world. For example; if someone in your parish had something aweful befall them, the Christian would give money / time / food / clothing etc to this person. That is a work, which was done in 'good christian charity.'
Back to Hitler and co…Before Hitler became the man we all know, who was to say he was not a good Christian? He may have done good deeds for people in need, prayed faithfully, etc, but then one day, lost the plot. Now, with this in mind; upon his death, if he was truly repentent (which only God can know) it might be possible. I believe that ones deeds in life run before them, in death. If you were not filled with the Holy Spirit in Life, then you would be unable to confess liability for your actions in death. For example, if Hitler was not a baptized Christian and had never believed in Jesus as our Lord, etc; He would not have been filled with the Holy Spirit, and a false confession of faith would not be able to follow him into death. His pride and lack of Holy Spirit would keep him from professing such a belief; but if he was baptized, was truly repentent and had done some good deeds in his life, then he would be able to make a true confession of repentence once dead, in which case, he would do his time in Purgatory, and therefore the man we know from WW2, would be a figure of the past, once he reached heaven.
Only if there is a good person dwelling within, can we be saved, because a truly good person, will find ways in their imperfection to let the Light of God shine through; however dimly. No true Christian just has faith. A true Christian will help his fellow human being in times of need, etc. This my friend is faith accompanied by works; whether they like to admit it or not.
To clarify my position a little further; I get my theory from a couple of sources, but the Biblical one is when we are told (not sure where, off hand) that no one, not in possession of the Holy Spirit, can confess Jesus as Lord; nor can someone in possession of the Holy Spirit, deny Jesus as Lord. (Paraphrased)
I hope this makes sense.

Peace be with you, and those who you love. :slight_smile:


#10

The question has more to do with “once saved, always saved.” If these individuals were “saved” by faith and professing the sinners prayer, at say, age 19, my understanding of OSAS would be that they cannot lose their salvation no matter what happens in the future.

The theology involved is that Christ’s death on the cross saves us from all sin, past, present, and future. All we have to do is accept Him. Having accepted Him, we cannot lose our salvation. Since, as far as I know, most Protestant theology does not allow for purgatory, then I presume that Hitler or Pol Pot, if they had been saved at age 19, would be eligible of immediate entry into heaven, regardless of subsequent events.

But this is only my understanding. Someone who is more conversant with protestant theologies may be able to correct me here.

This is not, of course, Catholic theology, which says that we can lose grace by freely choosing to reject God.


#11

I have always thought the interplay of faith and works was an interesting point of contention between Catholics and Protestants.

As I have looked at the beliefs of both groups, I think the generally good Christian will walk the exact same path through life whether they are Catholic or Protestant (as it relates to faith and works). The Protestant will believe that they are Justified by faith alone and that they walk the path of Sanctification with Christ after this initial Justification. The Catholic will link Justification and Sanctification into a combined whole. Faith and works are part of this path.

It is poor Protestant theology (although not non-existent in some small number of groups) to suggest that the profession of faith absent true conversion evidenced by works is sufficient for salvation. The general response to such a situation by the majority of Protestants would be that such “faith” is not real. Augustine put forth the idea of “formed faith” which was much more than just belief. Our modern concept that “faith alone” is “belief alone” has robbed some Protestants of a true understanding of Augustine’s ideas.

It is poor Catholic theology to suggest that the evils of Hitler or Pol Pot places them outside the Grace of Christ. Salvation is not earned by faith or earned by works. Proper Catholic theology in my mind does not have room for a balance beam at judgment where good works and bad works are weighted to see if Christ’s atonement is enough to make up for the disparities.

The best way to describe Biblical theology (IMO), Catholic theology, and the only Christian theology in existence before the Reformation is as follows. We are saved by Grace alone through faith and works. Faith is a gate we enter through (Baptism is associated with this gate and I will mention ordinances in a second) to begin our journey. Then we participate with Christ to perform works of righteousness. It is through Christ that these works are preformed so we shouldn’t boast of our goodness, but these works are integral to our Justification/Sanctification.

The separation of Justification and Sanctification was “theological novum.” It was never before proposed and was a new invention of the reformation.

Ordinances are a combination of two things. They are clearly works in that they are involved with performing something. They are also symbolic rites and actual vehicles for the reception of God’s Grace. Grace is poured out through the sacraments.

Purgatory is a place were cleansing from the temporal component of sins may occur. The Grace of God through Christ made effective through faith and works totally and completely pays for the spiritual component of sin. Those in purgatory are undergoing a final cleansing to wash away the temporal component of their sins.

My beliefs (which I believe are in alignment with Catholic beliefs for the most part) are as follows. We are saved by Grace alone through faith and works. Faith is the gate. Without faith a seemingly good act is not salvic for good acts only contribute to salvation when preformed through Christ. Again the works are works we choose, but Christ both gives us the ability to choose and then performs the works through us. Over time our uniting with Christ through His works results in us becoming one who would desire eternal life with God. At death the person who has become one who is “saved” (whether this occurred in a death bed conversion or a lifetime of progression toward God) chooses to live with God. Post mortal progression may be (and likely is) involved in this uniting with God, but what one has become is totally predicated upon what one believed/did/became during life.

Charity, TOm


#12

Thank you TOm, that was well said.


#13

[quote=carol marie]Thank you TOm, that was well said.
[/quote]

I agree whole-heartedly. (would insert smilie here, but for some reason, my options are not working!)

My personal thoughts on life after death, have me believing that it does not matter who you are, or what you have done; whilst you have breath in this life, you may have hope of life in death
if you keep your eyes on God and repent of your sins.
God is ever wonderful, and often gives us examples, even when we don’t realize it. The Apostles are a case in point. A few examples are;
Peter was a seemingly uneducated man, who loved our Lord with all his heart, yet he shows us that no matter how much you Love Jesus, you can fail Him at times, even when you don’t mean to. Jesus in turn shows us that He understands Peter’s sinful nature and forgives him time and again, because He knows that even though Peter fails, he tries hard, and is truly trying to please his Lord.
Paul shows us that a seemingly evil man, who was responsible for the deaths of many Christians, can be made right with the Lord. Jesus was made known to him, and he threw aside his horrid nature and accepted the Lord, our God. He became a faithful Advocate of the Lord.
Judas shows us a man who is right with the Lord, and follows His teachings, and would seem to have a heavenly reward at his fingertips. He then shows us a man who can be made corrupt, and betrays Jesus. Jesus then tells us that such a man would have been better off not being born. This would suggest that Judas, (and all those who follow his example, and reject the Lord) had lost his right to heaven.
Having said this, however, we can’t know for certain, the fate that befell Judas.
So using Paul as a prime example; can we say in all assuredness, Hitler and co. won’t make it to heaven? I guess we will just have to wait and see…

Peace and love to you, and your loved ones (Insert smilie here)


#14

I Know some Christians (Bible thumpers, some may call them) that have looked down at me for drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, yet they believe that they are “saved” because they said that to themselfs one day. So if they are assured salvation, where do they get the nerve to scorn me? Their “faith alone” doctrine seems to say they can do whatever they please, just as long as they go around telling everyone they are “saved”, they are a-ok.


#15

Actually, the Protestant and Catholic concepts are probably not as contradictory in practice as might be supposed.

Catholics believe that we are saved by Grace alone. By this they mean “sanctifying grace”—that free gift of God which puts his very life into our souls and makes us brothers of Christ, conformed to Him. This grace is an abiding
grace. It is intended to remain with us. Jesus comes and sets up housekeeping in our hearts, and intends to stay. And He does stay, unless we personally kick him out.

Too often, Catholics seem to get the idea that they are continually falling into and out of sin, into and out of grace. Endless cycles of grace, sin, confession, and grace. Now I don’t know how many are really stuck in such cycles, or if they only think they are stuck. There seem to be a lot of Catholics who are obsessive about confession, and many who are scrupulous, seeing as mortal that which is venial. In any case, I wouldn’t discourage any Catholic from continuing to seek the sacrament of confession whenever they perceive a need for it. For even if they are mistaken about the severity of their sins, the sacrament always gives grace—both sanctifying and sacramental.

On the other had, Protestants assert that since Christ’s sacrifice covers all the sins of our lives, after accepting Him, there is nothing further that we need to do. But their theology does not allow for free will after initial salvation, or for reconciliation after a subsequent fall. Having once accepted Christ, I must continue to accept him and follow his commandments. (“If you love me, keep my commandments.”) For a person like Hitler or Pol Pot to be saved, Catholics would presume the necessity of a deathbed repentance. But what if such a person had already accepted Christ at an earlier age, and then fallen into sin? Under Protestant theology, is he still saved, or is another act of repentance necessary?

In practice, I think that Protestants do expect that initial salvation will be followed by good works—that the grace given by God will be evidenced in one’s increasing conformity to Christ—that is, sanctification.


#16

[quote=JimG]Actually, the Protestant and Catholic concepts are probably not as contradictory in practice as might be supposed.

Catholics believe that we are saved by Grace alone. By this they mean “sanctifying grace”—that free gift of God which puts his very life into our souls and makes us brothers of Christ, conformed to Him. This grace is an abiding
grace. It is intended to remain with us. Jesus comes and sets up housekeeping in our hearts, and intends to stay. And He does stay, unless we personally kick him out.

Too often, Catholics seem to get the idea that they are continually falling into and out of sin, into and out of grace. Endless cycles of grace, sin, confession, and grace. Now I don’t know how many are really stuck in such cycles, or if they only think they are stuck. There seem to be a lot of Catholics who are obsessive about confession, and many who are scrupulous, seeing as mortal that which is venial. In any case, I wouldn’t discourage any Catholic from continuing to seek the sacrament of confession whenever they perceive a need for it. For even if they are mistaken about the severity of their sins, the sacrament always gives grace—both sanctifying and sacramental.

On the other had, Protestants assert that since Christ’s sacrifice covers all the sins of our lives, after accepting Him, there is nothing further that we need to do. But their theology does not allow for free will after initial salvation, or for reconciliation after a subsequent fall. Having once accepted Christ, I must continue to accept him and follow his commandments. (“If you love me, keep my commandments.”) For a person like Hitler or Pol Pot to be saved, Catholics would presume the necessity of a deathbed repentance. But what if such a person had already accepted Christ at an earlier age, and then fallen into sin? Under Protestant theology, is he still saved, or is another act of repentance necessary?

In practice, I think that Protestants do expect that initial salvation will be followed by good works—that the grace given by God will be evidenced in one’s increasing conformity to Christ—that is, sanctification.
[/quote]

Hi Jim, (insert smiley)
Very eloquently put. I fully agree.

Peace be with you and yours. (Insert smiley)


#17

[quote=JimG]Actually, the Protestant and Catholic concepts are probably not as contradictory in practice as might be supposed.

Catholics believe that we are saved by Grace alone. By this they mean “sanctifying grace”—that free gift of God which puts his very life into our souls and makes us brothers of Christ, conformed to Him. This grace is an abiding
grace. It is intended to remain with us. Jesus comes and sets up housekeeping in our hearts, and intends to stay. And He does stay, unless we personally kick him out.

Too often, Catholics seem to get the idea that they are continually falling into and out of sin, into and out of grace. Endless cycles of grace, sin, confession, and grace. Now I don’t know how many are really stuck in such cycles, or if they only think they are stuck. There seem to be a lot of Catholics who are obsessive about confession, and many who are scrupulous, seeing as mortal that which is venial. In any case, I wouldn’t discourage any Catholic from continuing to seek the sacrament of confession whenever they perceive a need for it. For even if they are mistaken about the severity of their sins, the sacrament always gives grace—both sanctifying and sacramental.

On the other had, Protestants assert that since Christ’s sacrifice covers all the sins of our lives, after accepting Him, there is nothing further that we need to do. But their theology does not allow for free will after initial salvation, or for reconciliation after a subsequent fall. Having once accepted Christ, I must continue to accept him and follow his commandments. (“If you love me, keep my commandments.”) For a person like Hitler or Pol Pot to be saved, Catholics would presume the necessity of a deathbed repentance. But what if such a person had already accepted Christ at an earlier age, and then fallen into sin? Under Protestant theology, is he still saved, or is another act of repentance necessary?

In practice, I think that Protestants do expect that initial salvation will be followed by good works—that the grace given by God will be evidenced in one’s increasing conformity to Christ—that is, sanctification.
[/quote]

I also agree. Let us remember that Hitler was indeed baptised a Catholic and raised Catholic, at least for the first years of his life as far as I know. But for the rest of his life, he rejected the Church and didn’t go to Mass or recieve the Sacraments. Not to mention the fact that he put 3 million Polish Catholics in the concentration camps to die (plus other Catholics in other parts of Europe).
So it is entirely possible that Hitler could have accepted Christ when he was a young child, and according to some Protestant reasoning, he was saved for life. How ridiculous a thought is that?


#18

[quote=Rand Al’Thor]I also agree. Let us remember that Hitler was indeed baptised a Catholic and raised Catholic, at least for the first years of his life as far as I know. But for the rest of his life, he rejected the Church and didn’t go to Mass or recieve the Sacraments. Not to mention the fact that he put 3 million Polish Catholics in the concentration camps to die (plus other Catholics in other parts of Europe).
So it is entirely possible that Hitler could have accepted Christ when he was a young child, and according to some Protestant reasoning, he was saved for life. How ridiculous a thought is that?
[/quote]

Totally ridiculous.

But the same ones who say that he “could have accepted Christ as a young child and been saved for life” would probably say that since he was a Catholic - he never had the opportunity to “know Christ.”

Equally as ridiculous.


#19

If faith alone were proper terminology for the way to get to heaven, I find it very odd that the word faith is used 273 times in the new testament, yet the sacred writers never thought to pair it with the word alone and settle this whole issue before it started. Oh wait they did pair them together once. But it happens to be preceded by the word NOT as in NOT by FAITH ALONE. James 2:24.

Now in one sense faith alone is used by some of the fathers of the Church but only in the context of an active faith.

Blessings


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