Salvation and redemption / Protestant vs. Catholic

I am reading a book by Karl Keating in which he explains the difference between a Protestant and Catholic view on salvation and redemption to sum up: most Protestants say once saved always saved - taken to its logical conclusion a person can have a born again experience and “be saved” and then regardless of the sin they commit afterword they can never lose heaven. Catholics believe you can fall away from grace and die and go to hell if you die in a state of mortal sin. Therefore a one time belief by a Protestant save them and the rest of their life doesn’t affect their eternal destiny, but Catholic teaching implies that dying in mortal sin nullifies a life in grace or better yet - dying right after repentance says that the sinful life up to that point doesn’t count against them. Protestants emphasize the moment of “being saved” while Catholics emphasize the moment of death and the souls state at that moment. It seems like they are saying essentially the same thing. Logically a Protestant can live how he wants after they are “saved” and a catholic can live how he wants up until the moment of death and repent. Either way a moment can save you not necessarily a life of obedience although very important. Am I way off on this? I am planning on converting to the Catholic faith but am still working out many questions from my lifelong Protestant background.

Redemption is regeneration of the soul. Salvation is about not going to hell.

Your soul can be regenerated in purgatory after death.

Protestants don’t believe in purgatory.

Keating’s books are good.

I’ve seen some additional points on the differences. Protestants do often believe in “once saved always saved”… Catholics believe in lifelong “being saved”. It’s like the “perfect” tense. We are being saved, never quite getting their until we die.

It’s up to God to judge whether we “have loved”.

Catholics certainly believe if we don’t love to the end we risk hell, but we realize it’s God’s call.,we don’t and can’t earn anything. But that doesn’t mean that struggling against vices, and building virtues until we die will help us HELP GOD in this life…helping others, making life, pleasant for others, pleasing God.

Protestants I think get into logical and spiritual trouble by trying to put God into a time line. Predestination, free will, once saved, always saved tend to collide.

Catholics believe that God is not bound or limited in time. We therefore can pray for the dead…since they are still dying (and living) in the eyes of God!

Another point that is not often discussed…Catholics believe in partaking in the life of Christ NOW, rather than focusing on an “over the goal line/ once saved/salvation” focus. The sacraments help us “begin again” with God…to receive graces for use in this life…so we can help others…so we will have the strength to serve Him tirelessly. Sacraments give graces…little helps…disposing us to small acts of love, if we are open to them.

Why did Paul teach: “run the race so as to win”, “for all run but only one wins the prize”, “fight the good fight”, “I fight, but not as one beating the air”, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”, and “provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off”? (Citations if needed.)

Why did Jesus say “he who perseveres to the end will be saved”?

It is not a one-time act. It is lifelong, and for that, we have the Sacraments. If the Lord’s supper is no more than symbolic, why must it be repeated throughout one’s life? Why does unworthy reception of the Lord’s supper make one guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord? How can you eat and drink damnation unto yourself by unworthily participating in something if it is only symbolic?

You would benefit greatly from a copy of Catholicism for Dummies. An excellent resource that you may rely on for years to come.

This thread might be useful

Should have read:

Catholics certainly believe if we don’t love to the end we risk hell, but we realize it’s God’s call.,we don’t and can’t earn anything. But that doesn’t mean that struggling against vices, and building virtues until we die WON’T help us HELP GOD in this life…helping others, making life, pleasant for others, pleasing God.

I have no idea who Karl Keating is, but if he characterizes “most” Protestants as OSAS then I disagree with him. I’m sorry, but most Protestants are not OSAS. While some Protestants may believe in Once Saved Always Saved, it is by no means the “standard” Protestant soteriology. It’s actually a very lazy and simplistic soteriology.

If I may, let me come at this from a Wesleyan/Pentecostal perspective.

Repentance is central to being saved. Through the agency of the Word (which presents the law of God by which we are judged and the promise of God which is Christ and by which we are forgiven) and the Holy Spirit, sinners are convicted of sin and drawn toward God in faith. The sinner repents of sin (which is not simply saying I’m sorry for sin but is actually a turning away from sin that involves the will, mind, and emotions). This is initial repentance.

Initial repentance must be continued throughout the believer’s life with the aid of God’s grace, which continues to be granted to the believer through the agency of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and the other means of grace, such as prayer, the ordinances, and church fellowship, etc. Repentance and the pursuit of holiness is integral to the Christian life.

(I’m not sure if Catholics use “means of grace” in a broad way like I am using it or if they limit this to just sacrament? When I use this term, I don’t mean simply “sacraments,” but I’m following in the tradition of John Wesley who identified as “means of grace” any works of piety (both communal and individual) and works of mercy that God uses to open up our hearts and lives to His grace.)

If a person:

  1. fails to truly repent of sin and pursue holiness,
  2. continually resists the conviction of the Holy Spirit,
  3. continually neglects the Word of God,
  4. and fails to make use of other means of grace and spiritual strengthening,

then yes they can fall into a situation where they backslide or shipwreck their faith.

It’s quite possible that someone who professed to have been born again was insincere. In such a case, then you could say that they were never really “saved” to begin with.

However, it is just as likely that a person was sincere and did truly repent when they made their initial confession of faith, but over time something happens that causes a deterioration of their spiritual condition and they turn their back on God.

This person was at one time “saved” having accepted the grace of God by faith and expressed this through repentance and seeking after holiness of heart and life. However, at a certain point, this person began to resist the grace of God and lost their salvation.

While Pentecostals do refer to professing and believing Christians as “saved,” this should not be understood as advocating Once Saved Always Saved theology. Pentecostals reject Once Saved Always Saved and acknowledge the possibility that a person could lose their salvation or fall away.

None of us know the future. Someone who is a believing Christian today could lose faith in Christ in the future.

He is the founder of Catholic Answers. I believe that the OP’s quote is from Mr. Keating’s book “Catholicism and Fundamentalism”, so the stress on OSAS would be appropriate.

BTW, very little to disagree with in your post. This shows how close we are.

OK, that makes the idea behind the OP’s post clearer.

But Protestantism is different from Protestant Fundamentalism. So, “most” Protestants would still be an over exaggeration of OSAS advocates. And then it also depends on how Keating defines a Fundamentalist. In popular speech, any conservative Protestant will be called “Fundamentalist” when in reality Fundamentalism refers to a distinct group within Protestantism. Often evangelicals are lumped in with Fundamentalists when in fact they are distinguished from each other.

I need a wall chart to keep them all straight!

Itwin, your post is excellent. Very much in the Catholic camp of understanding.

Almost Convert…
While there is a certain truth in your summary, there is a depth that is missing. As Itwin pointed out - there has to be a conversion and all that conversion entails…repentance, sorrow, conviction, commitment to reform etc. This is true even in a deathbed conversion - the conversion must be from the heart.

And if there is a true conversion of the heart…The person will not wait to come to the Lord nor will the person desire to continue in sin.

What there cannot be is a sense on the part of the person that either:

  1. Now I’m saved and can do whatever I want…I’m already forgiven…
  2. I know I must repent, but I’m going to wait because I don’t want to have to give up…whatever.
    Neither of these things reflects a person who is truly converted.


Itwin said it better than I can…:frowning:


With all due respect, you’re rather over-reaching here. I’ve met plenty of people who would describe themselves as Pentecostals that preached a version of “assurance of salvation” that clearly reduced to OSAS on examination. I’m glad that you and your local community reject that shallow approach, but you can’t hardly claim to speak for all Pentecostals. Nobody can, because there is no authority structure in Pentecostalism with the ability to rule on such matters.

What the OP needs to realize is that the catholic understanding of salvation and sanctification is not like OSAS protestants. The OSAS folks seem to have a view of salvation that is mired in binary legal status rather than real sanctification. You often hear them speaking of Jesus “covering” our sins with his righteousness. This is incorrect. Our sins won’t merely be covered over by righteousness. God offers us the Grace to be totally cleansed of our sins and even our inclination to sin. That’s a process, not an event. Most of us won’t have that inclination part cleaned up until AFTER death (catholics call that finishing process purgatory).

In truth, Catholics can have an assurance of salvation, but that assurance comes with a huge “IF” attached. It is in no way guaranteed. We must receive the Sacraments and persevere. We must love one another as Jesus loved us. We must fight the good fight and run the race so as to win. God did not leave us without hope. Neither did He make salvation impossible or indiscernible. What the Church opposes is the quick and dirty, Kindergarten-level theology that sprang up once Pandora’s theological box was thrown open.

With all due respect: No, I’m not overreaching. I can claim to speak for the vast majority of Pentecostalism, because I am a Pentecostal, I’m familiar with the overall climate of the movement, and I’m read in actual Pentecostal theology, which I doubt you are.I’m familiar with what the Classical “official” Pentecostals teach and I’m familiar with what quasi heretical Prosperity and Faith churches teach. I’ve set under white and black pastors. I’ve had experience in holy rolling and the nice and quiet churches. I’ve had experiences with churches that make you dress a certain way. I’ve seen it all and felt it all, so yes I can speak for the movement. It does not teach OSAS, but some of its members may believe it and teach it. They also might drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes or pray the rosary, but that doesn’t mean that any of that is taught by Pentecostalism either.

I have no doubt that you may have met some Pentecostals and that some of those Pentecostals might have believed in OSAS. However, I’ve grown up Pentecostal and have met a lot of Pentecostals in my life (and not just in my “local community”) and the majority of them have not taught OSAS. So, I have the theology books and the anecdotal evidence to feel confident in what I’m saying.

What you are seeing is one of two things, in my humble opinion. 1) You are seeing a general American folk piety at work that is influencing Pentecostals who aren’t well formed in Bible doctrine. Also, its quite possible depending on where you are at geographically that OSAS Baptists are having an inordinate amount of cultural influence.

  1. I also think its entirely possible that many Catholics misunderstand Protestants and assume that they are talking about OSAS when they are not. I’ve had this experience when talking to people on Catholic Answers. I will speak the language of assurance that I grew up hearing without a hint of OSAS, and people automatically assume (even when I inform them over and over again) that I am advocating OSAS.

It sounds like you are talking about imputed righteousness, which is not exclusively OSAS but has been part of Protestantism since Luther, who did not teach OSAS. All Protestants to my knowledge teach that justification is a judicial act, not a growth process. Sanctification on the other hand is a process, a growth in grace. That “covering” language is not the language of OSAS. Any Protestant could use it.

I’m having trouble understanding the difference between the Old Covenant sacrificial system and the Catholic understanding of salvation. Under the Old Covenant there was a continuos need for the removal of sins for the hope of God’s favor. If salvation requires that I must continuously make sacrifice for sin through sacraments and penance to remain in God’s grace, how is that different? I am not challenging the catholic beliefs, on the contrary I’m converting and trying to understand and embrace them. Thanks for all your thoughts.

Interesting, but I’m still struggling with the defintion of “official” Pentecostal teaching. Is this simply a majority rules definition or is there an authority structure that can define such things? My particular contact with Pentecostals was with a community in college in which they also considered the gift of tongues to be THE indicator of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They called themselves Pentecostals. Sound familiar and consistent with what you’ve been taught?

I don’t want to derail the thread. I’ll just PM you if that’s ok.

I’m not sure I fully understand your question here…What continuous sacrifice are you referring to in the new covenant? Is it the mass?

My understanding is that under the new covenant there is a need for continuous repentance not continual (or repeated) sacrifice. As a Sacrifice, Christ offered Himself once and for all.
Repentance however must be ongoing. Of course repentance is, in a sense, also a sacrifice in that, like Christ, we offer ourselves up to God in humility, in sorrow, and in hope.

There may be better explanations - or maybe I am misunderstanding your question…:shrug:

Also - If you don’t get other, or sufficient, replies to this this morning, you might want to start a new thread on this question.


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