Question for Protestants: What is the case for the rejection of infusion?

The quick-and-to-the-point question is, why do Protestants reject the infusion of grace? Why ONLY imputation?

The explanation and context of the question can be found below:

The question centers around justification and my seeking for the real root between the difference between Protestant and Catholic views of it.

The Protestant cries, " by faith alone!" and what the Catholic hears is that a faith devoid of works, literally faith all by itself, without hope or charity (love) saves you. Which the Catholic then points to 1 Cor 13 as well as James 2 and says, “huh uh…NOT by faith alone.” But the Protestant doesn’t mean, in actuality, a faith devoid of works, a dead faith. He means a true faith that manifests itself in works. I think it’s the Westminster Confession of Faith that phrases it as, “We are saved by faith alone, but that faith is not alone.” The Protestant means a faith that is rooted in love is what saves.

The Catholic cries/replies, “faith and works!” and what the Protestant then hears is that we somehow work ourselves into a state of justification/grace from a state of unjustification and says, “huh uh…faith alone” and proceeds to point to Ephesians 2 as well as Titus 3 (and others). But the Catholic doesn’t mean, in actuality, that we literally work ourselves from a state of sin into a state of justification. He means that once justified, we live according to that justification, and it manifests itself with works.

In both cases, I feel the everyday application of “faith alone” and “faith and works” should look the same to the casual observer, that being Gal 5:6, a faith working through love.

But is that to say that the two theologies are congruent?


I find the primary difference is that Protestants believe that the righteousness which justifies them is a righteousness that is alien to them, it is a righteousness that is external to them, it is not their own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ that gets credited to the believer account. While Catholics believe that the righteousness by which justifies them is a righteousness, of which the source is Christ, that changes them throughout their whole being. In justification, the Catholic is made righteous, and it then is by his own righteousness, graced to him by Christ by which he is saved.

The primary difference being that in Protestant theology, you are saved by a righteousness that is not your own, a righteousness that is outside of you, then you have no responsibility for that righteousness and therefore your actions cannot corrupt that righteousness. Hence, once saved, always saved and a theology arises where your actions are irrelevant to your salvation, “faith alone”. Whereas in Catholic theology, the righteousness which saves you is your own righteousness, it is a righteousness graced to you by Christ. Therefore, by sinning, you can corrupt that righteousness with sin and thereby defile the righteousness that has been graced to you, the righteousness that has changed you internally. Hence, a theology arises where actions are important upon being brought into the community of the faithful, the ekklesia, “faith and works”

Therefore, the primary difference is that difference between the Protestant’s understanding of only being declared righteous while not being made righteous (imputation), while the Catholic understands that when God declares him righteous, he is also made righteous as well (infusion + imputation).

Which bring me back to the question at the beginning: what is the case that Protestants make for the rejection of the infusion of grace actually making us holy?

(Feel free to correct me if any of this is wrong, I’m not an expert or anything, just some schmuck on a message board looking for answers.)

I have actually found one answer that I do not think is adequate and suspect is wrong.

The answer is rooted on human’s depravity being so mucked up that not even God can fix us. So he does only what he can, and declares us righteous, even though we are not actually righteous and cannot be made righteous, by Christ.

I really dont like this answer because it seems to restrict God. God can’t make us righteous? God can’t do something?

And for that reason, I suspect there is a better answer to my question than that.

Hopefully it’s out there, or at least a better explanation of the exhibited answer.

Thanks everyone/anyone.

To most Protestants, from my experience, don’t reject it. Not o lyrics is righteousness imputed but also imparted.

We are declared righteous by the righteousness of Christ, but also imparted by or sanctification…we become like Christ. We are freed from the chains of sin. We are given the grace to not sin. Our fallen nature is regenerated, recreated into the image of Christ.

So does anyone know why Protestants reject the doctrine of the infusion of grace into our souls?

God’s very purpose is to restore, and even increase, justice to His universe. This means real justice, defined as faith, hope, and, most importantly, love, rather than a sort of “pretend” justice. But even that righteousness is His, as He’s the source of it. We realize it to the extent that were in communion with Him. And from there it’s expected to grow even more, as we cooperate with His work in us, being transformed into His image.

Some theologies teach that man is so dead, so corrupt, so imperfect, no righteousness in him whatsoever, that righteousness can only be imputed or declared: man can never be perfect enough. And to say otherwise would be an insult to Jesus and the work He performed for our sake.

In Catholicism God created man perfect according to his nature; He certainly didn’t create man to be a sinner after all, or saddle man with laws that he wasn’t meant to fulfill. We just need His help, His grace, to do so. Jesus came to make this happen, to reconcile man with God so communion may take place again as is the right order of things, man rising from His lost and fallen condition.

I really enjoyed your post until I got to the part I bolded section. I believe we are made righteous by Christ’s sacrifice, but it isn’t because of any achievements I have done, it is entirely by His actions. I am righteous, because and through Christ.

This blog post from The Village Church might provide one reason Protestants rejected (and continue to reject) infused or imparted righteousness:

The distinction between the two understandings of justification is crucial especially for our assurance. If we believe that we have been made righteous, then any sin which we commit after salvation affects our justification. We are therefore less just and God once again is obligated by His justice and holiness to punish us (this is at the heart of the Roman Catholic doctrines of penance, indulgences, purgatory, and confession.)3 If Christ is not our righteousness, but rather we are infused with righteousness, then our standing before God shifts as we progress or regress in our faith.2 What Bunyan realized in the 17th century is the same truth which set the Reformation in motion a century earlier and it is the same truth which causes us today to declare that even now and forevermore, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). There is no condemnation for us because we never cease to be united to Him and He never ceases to be righteous. Jesus Christ is currently exalted and seated at the right hand of the Father and thus we declare that which Bunyan knew, “thy righteousness is in heaven.”

The poem from John Bunyan mentioned in the above paragraph is as follows:

“One day as I was passing into the field…this sentence fell upon my soul. Thy righteousness is in heaven. And methought, withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, he wants [lacks] my righteousness, for that was just before [in front of] him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, “The same yesterday, today and, and forever.” Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.”1

Its actually a.misunderstanding by. Catholics. Imputed.righteousness says when God looks He doesn’t."see"our sins because God sees Jesus standing in our place, imputed righteousness is.rooted in Calvinism.

Imparted.righteousness declares us just before.God,and when he looks at us, he sees a redeemed sinner ,the grace.and work.of the. Holy Spirit.cleanses us from the desire to sin…we are.righteous before.God.because of the work.of Christ…we.are.not o ly.declared.righteous, we.are.made.righteous and the imparted righteousness we.receive.thru.the work.of.the Holy Spirit as He indwells us and continues the.process of.sanctification…this more stance…not.Calvinist

Everything authored here is Catholic.

Catholics believe that through Christ’s sacrifice that we are made righteous, whereas Protestants believe that through Christ’s sacrifice we are merely credited with Christ’s righteousness, though no righteousness is given to the individual. Hence the terms Luther coined, “iustitia alienum” (alien righteousness), and “extra nos” (outside of us).

To give an analogy, if you could think of man as a black liquid in a glass jar: in catholic theology, God pours his grace, a white liquid, into us, making us white, whereas in protestant theology the jar is merely painted white while the liquid inside remains black

Well…“Infusion” is an alien substance being poured in. I am not sure of what the difference is. That’s not my focus right now.

When God declares a thing, something happens. When He declares someone forgiven, they are forgiven. It is not unreal, theoretical, false or tentative. He declares the unclean clean. He justifies the ungodly. And BLAM in reality they are justified, they are clean, they are forgiven. People point to “the golden chain” in Romans 8 that cannot be broken. When God gets you, He has you. He elects, calls, justifies, sanctifes, glorifies.

Some of the confusion comes in because Catholics and Protestants mean different things regarding the wording, particularly “justification”. The Catholic understanding of “justification” is roughly what Protestants mean by “justification and sanctification”, the former being initial, the second a process in which the believer begins increasingly to display that which God has done in him or her. In the end, the believer is conformed to Christ, but it is still not his own righteousness that saves him. He has had, if I may use the term, Christ’s righteousness “infused” on him so that when God sees him, He no longer sees a sinner but someone who is saved, who is being saved,who will be saved (my pastor actually used that sequence Sunday in a sermon).

Please bear in mind there is not one “Protestant” understanding of the process of salvation. Lutherans and Methodists and the Reformed (to name some, not to leave out the Mennonites and the Pentecostals and free will and Reformed Baptists) will all give different answers, and there are differences within each branch.

Nothing unclean enters heaven. But what God has declared clean is actually, really, truly clean.

It would depend on the Protestant. There is the whole spectrum when it comes to this point; so for example there was a former Holiness preacher (former Pentecostal) on the Journey Home on EWTN and he explained that they definitely believed one must be holy (act righteously) after coming to faith in order to be saved, and that if you did not, you were not allowed into Heaven. There are those that believe in both kinds, or types of righteousness, God being Our Righteousness, and His life in us changing us in order to be righteous, making us conformed to Christ.

As has been pointed out, you also have a more Reformed view that says we are incapable of righteousness unless directly “controlled” or changed (some even would argue that it is a change against human will) by God.

I, for one, don’t see why it is “either/or.”

There is a bunch of human political reasons to linguistically twist things and make the same thing different…

There in lies what and when and how humans operate.

Thank you for the response. And I feel like the logical conclusion it draws is accurate. If the righteousness which justifies is alien to man, then man can do nothing to screw it up (once saved, always saved), and if the righteousness that justifies is poured into us, becoming a part of us, then we in fact, can do something to screw it up…sin, unrighteous deeds, etc.

But, I feel like you’re assuming what you are to prove. You’re assuming once saved, always saved i think. Simply citing Romans 8:1 stating that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, in my opinion, is not adequate proof for once saved, always saved. I wholeheartedly agree that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, but I would state that when we sin*, we forfeit our status of being “in Christ”, we freely choose to reject the free gift granted to us.

So I thank you for your response, but I struggle to see how it holds any water.

*meaning sin that meets the criteria for mortal sin

Those influenced by the Holiness Movement owe a lot to John Wesley’s theology of Christian perfection (also known as “perfect love” and “entire sanctification”).

Wesley, for his part, actually owed a lot to the Church Fathers and medieval theologians (such as Clement of Alexandria, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Thomas Aquinas), but he was a Protestant and believed in justification by faith alone.

Wesley believed in both imputed and imparted righteousness. The first was the foundation of our salvation; the second was the consequence of our salvation. Yes, we are declared righteous, but we also become holy as we are progressively sanctified.

Ultimately, this process of sanctification and maturation would lead to a stage of Christian life where the believer is “perfected in love.” Wesley understood this to be a purity of intention and renewal of the heart in the whole image of God, so that we could truly love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.

This Christian perfection, Wesley believed, was received by simple faith, but while waiting for it, believers were expected to deny themselves and take up their cross and essentially utilize the means of grace, such as prayer, fasting, sacraments, and the Word of God.

John Bunyan was what we’d call today a Reformed Baptist. He definitely believed in eternal security and Calvinist predestination. Also, the Village Church is a Reformed Baptist congregation, so yes they would agree with eternal security (although they’d probably have a much more high brow understanding of it than the rather simplistic OSAS theology that is popular among some Baptists today).

No, I am not. I reject OSAS fervently.

I’m not arguing for once saved , always saved. I believe in the conditional security of the believer. Yes, “mortal sins” do injure us spiritually and remove us from a state of grace of which the remedy is confession and repentance. Even in this situation, we are relying on alien righteousness (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Isaiah 64:6 states, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” We can never put our hope in what we have and have not done, but our only hope is in the keeping power of Christ.

Actually, much of the difference is over semantics. Almost all Protestants (including Luther) affirm the infusion of God’s sanctifying grace at Salvation (not the least of which, of course, is the infusion or indwelling of the Holy Spirit Himself in the saved believer). Protestants do not generally use the term “infusion of righteousness”, but the reality is affirmed.

As Protestants we do acknowledge, however, that the (unrighteous) old man or sinful flesh remains after salvation, and it taints our character and prevents us from being perfectly righteous as our Lord was. Hence, we acknowledge our own continued failings and how we are utterly unworthy to even look up to Heaven, let alone, be brought into God’s presence on the deserving of our tainted life. We rely instead by faith on the perfect righteousness of the God-man Christ which is ours by His perfectly righteous Blood covering our sinful and imperfect life (i.e. the extrinsic or “alien” righteousness of our Lord covering our intrinsic lack of perfect righteousness).

Our reliance on extrinsic righteousness to stand before God does not diminish the reality that anyone who trusts in Christ for Salvation must be growing more and more in sanctification (i.e. increase in intrinsic or infused righteousness). As Luther and almost all Bible-believing Protestants after him have noted, those who lack the necessary evidence of salvation in their life–in the form of sanctification and good works-will be cast into the Lake of Fire at the Final Judgment (those who cry, “Lord, Lord” but do not do what I say).

Amen on your opposition to OSAS. I’m Augustinian rather than Arminian in my beliefs (as was Luther and many other reformers). However, it is helpful to note that even with Calvin and the Puritans who held OSAS, their belief in the necessity of persevering in sanctification prevented them from falling into some of the grosser errors of OSAS. In fact, they can sound down right Wesleyan (or even Roman Catholic :wink: ) on the centrality and necessity of holiness for those who are saved.

(Modern) Calvinist John Murray:

The truth is that the faith of Jesus Christ is always respective of the life of holiness and fidelity. And so it is never proper to think of a believer irrespective of the fruits in faith and holiness. To say that a believer is secure whatever may be the extent of his addiction to sin in his subsequent life is to abstract faith in Christ from its very definition and it ministers to that abuse which turns the grace of God into lasciviousness. The doctrine of perseverance is the doctrine that believers persevere. . . . It is not at all that they will be saved irrespective of the their perseverance or their continuance, but that they will assuredly persevere. Consequently the security that is theirs is inseparable from their perseverance. Is this not what Jesus said? “He than endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”

Let us not then take refuge in our sloth or encouragement in our lust from the abused doctrine of the security of the believer. But let us appreciate the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and recognize that we may entertain the faith of our security in Christ only as we persevere in faith and holiness to the end. (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 154-55)

(Puritan) Calvinist Thomas Watson:

The soul being so precious, and salvation so glorious—it is the highest point of prudence to make preparations for the eternal world. It is beyond all dispute, that there is an inheritance in light; and it is most strenuously asserted in Holy Scripture that there must be a fitness and suitability for it (Col. 1:12). If anyone asks, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” the answer is, “He who has clean hands, and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4). (The Godly Man’s Picture)

(Puritan) Calvinist John Owen:

That what I have of direction to contribute to the carrying on of the work of mortification in believers may receive order and perspicuity, I shall lay the foundation of it in those words of the apostle, Rom. viii. 13, “If you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body you shall live;” and reduce the whole to an improvement of the great evangelical truth and mystery contained in them.

Now, the connection and coherence of things being manifold, as of cause and effect, of way and means and the end, this between mortification and life is not of cause and effect properly and strictly, — for “eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ,” Rom. vi. 23, — but of means and end. God has appointed this means for the attaining that end, which he has freely promised. Means, though necessary, have a fair subordination to an end of free promise. A gift, and procuring cause in him to whom it is given, are inconsistent. The intendment, then, of this proposition as conditional is, that there is a certain infallible connection and coherence between true mortification and eternal life: if you use this means, you shall obtain that end; if you do mortify, you shall live. And herein lies the main motive unto and enforcement of the duty prescribed.

Assuredly, he that pleads in the most secret reserve of his heart that he is freed from the condemning power of the law, thereby secretly to countenance himself in giving the least allowance unto any sin or lust, is not able, on gospel grounds, to manage any evidence, unto any tolerable spiritual security, that indeed he is in a due manner freed from what he so pretends himself to be delivered. (Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers)

While I’m at it, I might as well give a quote (I just posted in another thread) from the mature Luther on the necessity of holiness (or, infused righteousness-using RC terminology):

That is what my Antinomians, too, are doing today. They are preaching finely and (I can think nothing else) with real seriousness about Christ’s grace, the forgiveness of sins, and the other things that can be said concerning redemption. But they flee the consequence of this, as though it were the very devil, and will not speak to the people about the Third Article, which is sanctification, i.e., the new life in Christ. For they think that they ought not to terrify people, or disturb them, but always to preach in a comforting way about grace and the forgiveness of sins in Christ, and utterly avoid such words as these: “Listen! You want to be a Christian and yet remain an adulterer, fornicator, drunken swine, proud, covetous, a usurer, envious, revengeful, malicious!” On the contrary, they say: “Listen! Though you are an adulterer, a fornicator, a miser, or any other kind of sinner, only believe, and you will be saved and need not fear the law; Christ has fulfilled it all!”
Tell me, is that not granting the premise and denying the conclusion? Nay, it is taking away Christ and bringing Him to nought, at the same time that He is most highly preached. It is saying Yes and No to the same thing.

There is no such Christ, Who has died for these sinners who, after forgiveness of sins, do not leave their sins and lead a new life. Thus they finely preach the logic of Nestorious and Eutyches, that Christ is this and is yet not this. They are fine Easter preachers, but shamefully poor Pentecost preachers, for they preach nothing de sanctificatione et vivificatione Spiritus Sancti, i.e., concerning sanctification by the Holy Ghost, but preach only about redemption by Christ, though Christ, Whom they extol so highly (and rightly so!) is Christ, i.e., He has purchased redemption from sin and death, in order that the Holy Ghost shall make new men of us, in place of the old Adam, so that we die unto sin and live unto righteousness, as St. Paul teaches in Romans 6:1, beginning and increasing this life here on earth, and completing it yonder. What Christ has earned for us is not only gratia, “grace,” but also donum, the “gift” of the Holy Ghost, so that we might not only have forgiveness of sin, but also cease from sinning.

Whoever, then, does not cease from sinning, but continues in his former wicked life, must have another Christ from the Antinomians, for the real Christ is not there, even though all the angels were to cry only “Christ! Christ!”; and he must be damned with his new Christ." Martin Luther, On the Councils and the Church (1539)

Blessings StuMondo,

If someone doesn’t know:

The “Book of Life” completed before the foundation of the world.

From the completion, the “Book of Life” admits NEITHER ADDITIONS NO ERASURES.

Only the names of God’s ELECT, PREDESTINED TO HEAVEN stands written in the “Book of Life.” – No other name.

The Catholic Church affirms predestination as a de fide dogma (the highest level of binding theological certainty).


THE CATHOLIC DOGMA. – The predestination of the elect

Consequently, the whole future membership of heaven, down to its minutest details, has

been IRREVOCABLY FIXED FROM ALL ETERNITY. Nor could it be otherwise. For if it

were possible that a predestined individual should after all be CAST INTO HELL or that

one not predestined should in the end REACH HEAVEN, then God would have been

MISTAKEN in his foreknowledge of future events; He would NO LONGER be omniscient.

God’s unerring foreknowledge and foreordaining is designated in the Bible by the beautiful

figure of the “Book of Life” (liber vitæ, to biblion tes zoes). This book of life is a list which

contains the names of ALL THE ELECT and admits NEITHER ADDITIONS NO ERASURES.

(2) The second quality of predestination, the DEFINITENESS of the number of the elect,

follows NATURALLY from the first. For if the eternal counsel of God regarding the

predestined is UNCHANGEABLE, then the number of the predestined must likewise be


CANCELLATIONS. Anything indefinite in the number would eo ipso imply a lack of

certitude in God’s knowledge and would DESTROY His omniscience.

Furthermore, the very nature of omniscience demands that not only the abstract number

of the elect, but also the individuals with their names and their entire career on earth,

should be present before the Divine mind from all eternity. End quote Emphasize added.

What is Catholic view on predestination?

This is an often confusing and difficult subject to address.

The bottom line is that the Catholic Church does teach that the ELECT ARE PREDESTINED,

while concomitantly, free will is respected so that God is not involved with coercion.

The best way to explain this is that God has foreknowledge of ALL those that would RESPOND to his gift of self.

While He wills all to be saved (cf. 1 Timothy 2:3), NOT ALL accept Him (also, John 1:11-12).

In addition to this foreknowledge, God also has provided **ALL THE GRACE NECESSARY **for those to be saved.

In this way, He has DETERMINED their salvation: by INSURING it.

So, in the end, God not only knows who will be saved, He “saw to it” that they were saved,

and respected the free will of those who were not. End quote. Emphasize added.

CCC 1994 “… It is the opinion of St. Augustine that "the justification of the wicked is a

greater work than the creation of heaven and earth," because "heaven and earth will pass

away but the salvation and justification of the elect … will not pass away. …”



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