My question is:
Does the incorrect belief/intention behind an action negate the results of the action?
My question stems from sola fide belief of most, not all, Protestant denominations. Many Catholics on this forum are quick to point at Protestantism as heretical because of sola fide and sola scriptura. Ignoring sola scriptura for the moment, however, I’d like to question whether or not sola fide is a strong basis for the heretical label.
Ask 99% of all Protestants if they believe that works in the life of a Christian are important and you’ll get a resounding “Absolutely!” Granted, if the question was, “Are works necessary for salvation?” you’d likely get a different answer. But, the fact remains that the vast majority of Protestants ARE doing good works, not sitting on their bottoms.
So, back to my original question……if Catholics believe that faith produces works and works ARE necessary to confer more grace in their lives, does the average Protestant’s failure to believe this (but they are actually doing the good works) negate the grace that would be conferred to them? In other words, does it actually even matter what a Protestant’s motive for good works are as long as he is actually doing them? It seems to me that a Protestant doing good works for the sheer sake that they should be done is actually more honorable than doing them because you expect to gain something from doing them.
On the sacramental nature of baptism, which most Protestant’s do not believe actually confers anything, Catholic teaching seems to be that it doesn’t really matter what the Protestant thought beforehand, all that matters is that they were actually baptized.
Would not the same logic apply to works? And, if so, if the Protestant is being conferred grace because of his works, does not the grace he is conferred negate the incorrect belief?And if so, does the term “heretic” still apply to that individual Protestant?