Going to Heaven: Catholicism vs Protestantism

So, I am still fuzzy on the Catholic doctrine on salvation. The Protestant doctrine that I am all too familiar with, is as follows. You’re saved. You go to heaven. There’s no discouragement to do bad, or encouragement to do good other than that bad stuff is bad and good stuff is good, If you catch my drift.

So, how would I, once I have converted and everything, go to heaven? The term “good works” was tossed around alot by other protestants. My current understanding is, you get saved, and then you repent for your sins if you commit them (mortal especially) and if you die in a state of grace (no mortal sins?) You either go straight to heaven if you have no venal sins, or go to Purgatory to atone for your venial sins. Is this correct? Am I missing anything?

Another thing I’ve worried about a lot, is whether I am saved or not. I’m not sure if I am saved. I’ve been baptized. I feel like I’m not saved sometimes , though. I do believe. I prayed the prayers and everything. I do have doubts, now and then. Especially when I go to these Baptist churches, the pastor makes me feel as though I’m not saved 99% of the time. Any help with this would be extremely appreciated.

I’m sorry for all the questions as of late, by the way. I don’t have a priest or anyone to talk to about any of this stuff. Again, thank you, and sorry for all the questions.

nobody is saved automatically, people cant expect to be saved right on the dot. If Jesus said to take up your cross and follow him, than i believe it means that we should follow him and live our day to day lives in his presence. St.Paul writes in his letter to phillippians the following:

"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.

14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain."
phillippians 2:12-14

so nobody can really be so sure as to say their saved, only the saints felt this surety. Good works and grace go hand in hand.

If you want a fantastic and relatively brief article, I would read the following from Fr. William Most:


At the end of the article, Fr. William Most writes:

“Why good works? Because faith includes obedience, which calls for them. Also, out of gratitude to so good a Father who even gives us by grace an inclination to good works. He, being Holiness, loves all that is good, and so is pleased with our good works. But they do not at all earn salvation in primary sense (Cf. DS 1532 above):if they did, we would have a boast.”

GNM1999 31
Another thing I’ve worried about a lot, is whether I am saved or not.

Why don’t you learn from the CCC? The Protestant concoction fails to understand the teaching of Jesus.

**We are not “saved” by Christ’s suffering and death on the cross, but we are REDEEMED, and for salvation we have to work that out in fear and trembling.
The crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus has REDEEMED us from our fallen state in which heaven had been closed, but our SALVATION depends upon our cooperation with His saving Grace.

This wallowing in self-interpretation always leads to error.

What is lacking is our co-operation. That is precisely why St Paul teaches: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12). We don’t achieve salvation in one fell swoop by accepting Christ as our personal saviour as some are misled to feel. St Paul knows very well what he is teaching:

So, St Paul:
“But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” (1Cor 9:27). And again: “Wherefore he who thinks that he stands, let him take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor 10:12). Yet again, “And we exhort you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2 Cor 6:1).

“All, of us have a scrutiny to undergo before Christ’s judgment-seat, for each to reap what his mortal life has earned, good or ill, according to his deeds.” (2 Cor 5:10).

As Catholics we need to keep the Commandments and the precepts of the Church, participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and when we sin mortally we must confess.


Pray for me.


The doctrine of OSAS differs between descriptions from person to person that’s why I don’t believe in it there is no consistency in Protestantism.

Two main versions.

#1 Once saved always saved… that’s it.:shrug:

#2 Once saved always saved but if you sin after you were saved you weren’t really saved after all.

Here’s the thing the Bible in Corinthians 1 6:9 list off certain behaviors of people that will not be saved.

1 Corinthians 6:8-10Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

8 But you do wrong and defraud, and that to your brethren.

9 Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,

10 Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God.

Yet many people who purport to be saved commit these exact sins.

The other thing is if someone tells you they have not sinned and you are not saved Its likely they are blind to their own faults like the pharisees.

(John 8:12-30)

5And this is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: That God is light, and in him there is no darkness. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Then there are people who follow criteria #1 and they may tell you that you are not saved because you are Catholic.

This what you have to look at and even point out.

OSAS means one is saved by ALL past, present and future sins.
The first requirement is that one must profess Jesus Christ as their lord and savior and the only means for salvation which Catholics do.

So if being Catholic is a sin and Catholics believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and criteria one is met the rest would be null and void because all past present and future sins are forgiven.

A person is saved through their belief and forgiven for being Catholic in the past, present and future.

See their own condemnation makes no sense pretty much a serial killer child rapist could be saved simply believing the deity of Jesus.

But we know as Catholics it doesn’t work that way it’s not works as in helping little old ladies across the street or donating money to charities it’s the works of a Christian believe in Jesus by living through him and following his Fathers commandments and Christ teachings and the Holy Spirit that indwells inside us.

The whole story of the Old Testament is that Israel commits sin time and time again and God forgives his people places them back in his protection but only after they REPENT.

John the Baptist cried out in the desert for people to repent and be baptized.

Jesus forgave sins and commissioned his twelve apostles to do the same through his authority.

John 20:19-23
19Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. 20And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. 21He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. 22When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. 23Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

Matthew 28: 16-20
16And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17And seeing them they adored: but some doubted. 18And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. 19Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

In the book of Revelations Jesus cries out for us to repent.

All of us have moments of doubt about our salvation even apostles like Paul was not sure if he was saved.

That’s why we must repent everyday for our sins and go to confession frequently and do our best to love God with all our hearts and all our soul and all our mind and to follow every commandment to the best of our ability and most of all to love Christ.

If other people judge you don’t worry about it because the only ones judgment you should worry about is God’s.

Catholics account for the entire bible when forming it’s interpretation. A fundamentalist approach often relies on a few key verses while ignoring others.
Try google searching these words or phrases in the bible:

Repent or pennance
God’s judgement
Sheep and goats
Faith alone
Church/pillar of truth

Then, read about Ignatius if Antioch- who he was and what he wrote.

protestantism ran out of gas as far as a “threat” or challenge" to God’s Holy Church

young people no longer turn to “protestantism”

atheism, agnoticism and secularism or just plain intellectual laziness rule the spiritual mind of the “younger generation”

If you help another person gain a crown by helping them develop their initiative and discretion in the service of God’s Kingdom, you gain a share in that crown (otherwise you don’t have one yourself).

Worship is not stunting the growth of the widows and orphans (the fellow believers). It is about feeding the fellow servants their rations on time, because the master is coming back from the far country suddenly. The productive sons and daughters of the profitable family firm are those that traded with their talents (their own initiative and discretion). The New Testament is full of lists of the needed ministries. These are foreshadowed and indeed embodied in Old Testament personalities and situations, including when they went wrong.

Saved (or more probably redeemed as pointed out here) is not the same as and is not as much as gaining a crown or entering the kingdom of heaven.

Life in Christ is freely relational, and not about perpetuating the feudal system. It is about considering devoting one’s life to the upbuilding of one’s fellows. It is not about being doormats or pawns in a political campaign. The Old Testament is full of prophecy addressed to the Church.

Heaven appears to be parallel to earth: some people seem to be there at the same time as being on Earth or the new Earth.

Most passages in the Bible ostensibly about any kind of “afterlife” are ambiguous as between hell and purgatory, or purgatory and heaven. A number of passages aren’t though.

Not many Catholics teach that and not many protestants teach that either.

[quote=GNM1999]Another thing I’ve worried about a lot, is whether I am saved or not. I’m not sure if I am saved. I’ve been baptized. I feel like I’m not saved sometimes , though. I do believe. I prayed the prayers and everything. I do have doubts, now and then. Especially when I go to these Baptist churches, the pastor makes me feel as though I’m not saved 99% of the time. Any help with this would be extremely appreciated.

Unfortunately, Evangelicals have made “being saved” a sort of emotional experience, which supposedly stays with you if you are indeed saved. It is a vicious lie! There is no emotional experience like that, but rather a smug self-deception.

The problem is this: If an Evangelical feels himself saved, but later in life, due to new circumstances, commits heinous sins, his fellow Evangelicals will say he was NEVER saved in the first place! So there you have it! There is NO assurance of salvation due to your emotional feeling of having been saved. It is a lie. See it for what it is.

You must work past the supposed “imputed justice” or being “saved” to the True Christian belief of Baptismal regeneration. That is where Evangelicals cross the line from falsehood to Christian Truth.

Once you understand that difference, you will easily understand the necessity for works, and the True Christian meaning of Faith and works.

Yes. That’s right. But, first you have to realize how you are put right with God into a ‘state of grace’. How do you get in the state of grace/justification to begin with? Through good works? No. This is what many Protestants don’t realize about Catholicism because they think it is a works based righteousness. However, Catholicism does not teach a works based righteousness, but a grace based righteousness. This is why the Catholic Church condemned Pelagianism because Pelagius taught we didn’t need God’s grace.

We can not earn being in a state of grace. We can do nothing to merit being in a state of grace. The Council of Trent states that neither faith or works earns the grace of our initial justification.

We receive this normally in Baptism through the blood of Christ. Now, if we commit mortal sin and lose that state of grace we can still not earn it back or do nothing to merit it back. We receive it as a gift through the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we are reconciled to God through the applied blood of Christ.

As far as salvation being a done deal we can not have absolute certainty for the future since it is always possible for us to walk away from Christ permanently, either through unrepentant mortal sin or apostacy. Since we still have free will.

Yet, we can still have a moral certitude and a confidence and true hope that we will be in heaven as St. Paul said. If we are in a state of grace, we don’t have unrepented mortal sin on our soul, we can have a reasonable moral assurance we will go to heaven. Ultimately, we must have trust in the Lord.

Salvation is also a process of God making true what he declares in us. This is still by grace. Works are the fruit of God’s grace and love working in us. We are created in Christ Jesus to do the works God has ordained. We don’t do them to earn our salvation. They are a result of God’s gift of grace, of remaining in the vine of Jesus where we can receive that grace. We can do nothing apart from him. But, with him we can do all things.

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. "
(John 15:5-7)

Thus, salvation is really abiding in Christ. This is to be in the state of grace cooperating with him.

Questions are great! Keep em coming.:thumbsup:

My understanding of both sides:

Catholic: Salvation is a free gift, but works are a part of the equation. Sin bad. (dont want to mis-represent Catholic doctrine, so keeping it real basic)

Protestant (mainline): Salvation is a free gift. Many teach once saved, always saved, but not all. Good works earn you rewards in Heaven, but are not necessary to make it to Heaven.

Weellll… it depends on the protestant denomination you are speaking of. It runs the gamut between what is called “easy believism” and a doctrine that matches what the RCC teaches.

I would hate to think you were a part of a denomination that didn’t discourage a person to do bad… I don’t know what denomination that would be, though some of the more cheerleading preachers seem not to realize that sin is real. Anywho, many, but not all, protestant denominations see a difference between justification and sanctification.

The idea is that we are justified by grace through faith. Faith is trusting with great confidence. So, by placing our trust in Christ and what He has done and gained for us, grace flows and we are made righteous in the eyes of God the Father via God the Son through the influence of God the Spirit (by, for example, conviction). Sanctification produces right action, or good works. The indwelling of the Spirit enables fruits of the Spirit. And those works, as well as bad works, impact us in life and follow us in death.

If one is Justified, the person isn’t judged because they are in Christ, but their works indeed are judged. The good are rewarded, the bad burned away. The emphasis is usually on the “have been saved” leg of the “have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved” triplet. Works from a protestant perspective, flow from the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and producing those works, and changing us into the image of the Son as we live our lives by faith. We can fight that, or give in to it.

So, how would I, once I have converted and everything, go to heaven? The term “good works” was tossed around alot by other protestants. My current understanding is, you get saved, and then you repent for your sins if you commit them (mortal especially) and if you die in a state of grace (no mortal sins?) You either go straight to heaven if you have no venal sins, or go to Purgatory to atone for your venial sins. Is this correct? Am I missing anything?

I’m obviously protestant, but have dialogued a lot and learned a lot about the Catholic position, so thought I’d take a crack at it for a fellow (current) protestant. Salvation is seen as an ongoing process (like we see sanctification), so the emphasis seems to be on the “is being saved, will be saved” side of the triplet. At baptism, all sin is forgiven up to that point (and takes care of original sin, though the effects still remain as we struggle with fallen nature). After baptism, if sin is accrued, mortal sin needs to be confessed directly, for if one dies with mortal sin on one’s soul, then one is damned (unless there’s a case of perfect contrition, with intent to confess).

You’ll get a difference on opinion on just which sins constitute mortal sin because of the necessary factors that determine that. Venial sin is much like you describe. Mortal sin is seen as being an almost deliberate turning away from God through conscious choice. So, for example, cold blooded murder. If a Christian intentionally and with malice aforethought knowingly kills another human, and the Christian is aware that that is a sin, is seen as turning from God.

From the Catholic view the sacraments are a vehicle of grace, by which God offers “helps” to us humans along the way in order to walk the way we should, to have our sins forgiven us, and to strengthen us as He conforms us to the image of the Son.

The main differences aren’t faith*** vs.*** works, but how it all adds up and interacts.

See this thread, especially post #23.

My belief

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior
My hope is in Jesus Christ that I am redeemed
I believe sanctification is an ongoing process - not instant when I say Jesus is my Lord and Savior
But with fear and trembling I am working out my salvation. My faith cannot be stagnated and must grow

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