I am a Protestant in the process of converting to the Catholic church, and am also in the process of filling out an application to be a volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center near where I live. One of the things I have to do is sign a statement of faith, one sentence of which reads, “We believe that for the salvation of the lost and sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential, and that this salvation is received through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and not as a result of good works.” Can a Catholic honestly sign this statement? Am I correct that the Catholic church teaches that a person must have BOTH faith and good works to be saved? Help! I don’t want to sign a statement of faith that I can’t honestly commit to.
“We believe that for the salvation of the lost and sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential, and that this salvation is received through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and not as a result of good works.”
God bless you for not wanting to compromise the Catholic faith. The above *Statement of Faith * is contrary to the Catholic Church’s teaching on justification. A Catholic cannot sign the document with this statement in it.
- The Catholic position on regeneration is that man is “born again” or “regenerated” through Baptism.
*Catechism of the Catholic Church *:
1213: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”
1215: …the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one “can enter the kingdom of God.” (Titus 3:5, John 3:5)
1271 …Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians…
1 Peter 3:21: “Baptism…now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
- The Catholic Church teaches what the apostles taught and what the Bible teaches: We are saved by grace alone, but not by faith alone (which is what “Bible Christians” teach; see Jas. 2:24).
When we come to God and are justified (that is, enter a right relationship with God), nothing preceding justification, whether faith or good works, earns grace. But then God plants his love in our hearts, and we should live out our faith by doing acts of love (Gal. 6:2).
Even though only God’s grace enables us to love others, these acts of love please him, and he promises to reward them with eternal life (Rom. 2:6–7, Gal. 6:6–10). Thus good works are meritorious. When we first come to God in faith, we have nothing in our hands to offer him. Then he gives us grace to obey his commandments in love, and he rewards us with salvation when we offer these acts of love back to him (Rom. 2:6–11, Gal. 6:6–10, Matt. 25:34–40).
“For [God] will reward every man according to his works: to those who by perseverance in working good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. There will be . . . glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality” (Rom. 2:6–11; cf. Gal. 6:6–10).