Single acts saving or damning? Sola fide and submission to the will of God

I have this nagging suspicion that what some protestants call “sola fide” corresponds to the catholic idea of holiness as consisting in the submission of the will to God.

I say so because they speak of getting saved in terms of “making Jesus” lord of your life which sounds often like “trusting” Jesus and obeying him. Well, to catholics, this is just what sanctification and the whole salvation in fact consists in, submission to Christ. It is just we dont believe it is a one-time decision after altar call but a process of the whole life. Saints all say that total submission to the will of God is what holiness is about. so i wonder the real confusion about sola fide.

If i am submitting to jesus, then I am obeying, right? Because submission without obedience is nonsensical notion. When you fall you repent but by repenting you are already submitting. Deep down, beneath the very admission of sin is the acknowledgment Christ is Lord over me.

Hence the question is faith or submission one act or rather a state of the soul? A soul generally submitted to Jesus will fall but the general orientation of the will practically guarantees repentance. So is one act enough to damn the soul? Similarly a soul generally unsubmitted may choose christ momentarily but generally fall back because he has not submitted deep down.

I am questioning both catholic and protestant assumptions that place so much weight on singular acts, on gtting saved, or even on committing mortal sins for a catholic. perhaps when the church talk of full consent its about the general orientation of will not one act? If the will is submitted to Jesus?

The majority of Protestant churches do not teach that you “accept” Jesus and it’s a one time act but counsel the person and get them involved in a Pastor’s class for new members or find a small group within the church that will help you develop a day-to-day relationship with our Lord (There are those that do teach once saved always saved). There are those individuals who have a complete lifestyle change (quitting drinking, smoking, etc) and others who struggle with a nagging sin that tempts them to fall down in their daily walk.

Great discussion material here! Thanks for posting. God bless!


I came from one of the more “out there” sects of Protestantism.

This is what they, as well as several of the guest pastors, seemed to hold as true.
The Church was Assemblies of God, which has its roots in Pentecostalism. Their belief, “according to wiki” is this one-time profession, and an “thats all it takes approach.” And from experience, this seems to be the case.

The more traditional Protestants, like the Lutherans, Anglicans (Church of England/High-Anglican, etc) probably do not teach this idea (which I consider a fallacy).

When you go through catechism, and develop your Catholic faith, you are learning about what you are saying “I believe in…” This is the first step to becoming a Christian/Catholic. You NEED to know quite a lot about what you are getting yourself into.

The second part is, like the Protestants say, “Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior,” because that is the big part of it. Being Baptised and Confirmed is making the statement of faith, showing you intend to turn away from evil, and instead strive for righteousness.
If you make a profession, then don’t live it out, why make it in the first place? Its an empty promise to God. As I’ve been saying in another thread about Works and Catholicism, “Faith without works is dead faith,” as is work without Faith. Both are in the Bible. You need both to truly be a “Christian.”

That means, just showing up every Sunday isn’t enough. You need to be fervent in your prayer. Striving to help people who need help. Going to Church, and receiving the Sacraments (That means Confession, too!)

Hello JesusPeaceLove.

You stated:

I have this nagging suspicion that what some protestants call “sola fide” corresponds to the catholic idea of holiness as consisting in the submission of the will to God.

I agree. I think some Protestants DO see their “faith” as being integrated in “submission to the will of God”. These Protestants tend to be very close to the Catholic faith in this case. There is a whole Protestant school of thought called **“The New Perspective on Paul” ** (see it here) that is very close if not identical in many areas to Catholic theology in the Justification realm.

Other Protestants see “faith” as a mere intellectual assent to believing in Jesus.

Protestants almost all seem to say “obedience” is “important” concerning justification. . . . But is obedience “necessary” in some sense?

“Faith” can be seen as a mere intellectual assent . . . or . . . . “faith” can be necessarily wrapped up in one’s actions in ADDITION to intellectual assent. (The Church teaches this saving faith working in love concept and also affirms the supernatural element too that I won’t yet get into here)

If by “faith alone”, our Protestant friends and family members (or other non-Catholics) think an “intellectual assent” is all that is needed to get to Heaven (for those that can do more), I would take issue with that.

If, on the other hand, somebody asserts saving “faith alone” in the sense of some workings is included in the word “faith”, I would say, this is confusing language, but I would try to not use this as a theological bone of contention.

I think the Council of Trent (back in the 1500’s) took this approach.

Council of Trent Sixth Session - CANON IX If any one saith, that by faith alone
the impious is justified; **in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required **to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

We use this “works” tied into “faith” in modern language too. For example, if a wife/husband is “unfaithful” to their spouse, we are pretty sure that this means MORE than an intellectual problem the way we often use the phrase here in society.

I think St. Paul conveyed to us there is more to a saving faith than mere intellectual assent. “Obedience” matters and is necessarily tied into a saving faith for example (again for those that can).

That’s WHY St. Paul explicitly talks about the “obedience of faith” the very first and the very last time he used the word “faith” in the Letter to the Romans (parenthetical addition of Romans 1:5 mine—taken from Romans 1:4).

ROMANS 1:5-6 5 through whom (Jesus Christ our Lord) we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;

ROMANS 16:26 26 but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith

St. Paul sees a saving faith as an obedient faith.

St. Paul reminds us that a saving faith, comes about through the work of Jesus Christ, but this saving faith is given to us by the WORK of “preaching” in another sense (this concept unpacked here: “Faith NEEDS the WORK of Preaching”).

A saving faith and works should not be divorced.

God bless.



The “one time act” or “single acts saving or damning” issue I won’t get into here (yet) except to say . . . think of how much damage a “single act” bring in the mere natural realm.

People get life in prison all the time for a “mere” single act. If a single act can wreak so much havoc in the natural realm, how much more injury can a “single act” inflict upon others in the spiritual life? (I am not saying there cannot be repentance, etc.)

thank you for information. I hoped more will participate! I didn’t know that not all protestants besides anglican dont believe sola fide as one-time altar call. But why do they call it sola fide then? Is that not something else?

Cathoholic, I understand yes that mortal sins are so serious. I suppose I am wondering if mortal sins means just simple formula of one time act or rather more of an attitude of the soul that can show itself outwardly by grave sins as fruits rather than the grave sins be the mortal defect. Such sins if committed only once for example and quickly regretted, even if serious matter, would not indicate a soul that has rejected God, even if the soul is not able to make a perfect act of contrition but only an imperfect act of true contrition nonetheless. A serious sin might be strong evidence of that bad attitude but only suggestive.

As I understand it now, it is that the act itself if I know it is sin and i am not coerced, I am in mortal sin. So if i know the church says to go to sunday mass and that it is grave and I am lazy and I miss mass, that is mortal sin. But I have a hard time understanding this.

It seem to me mortal sin is rejection of God if it really means eternal separation. It cannot be simply missing mass. I may miss mass thinking I will get to confession so that my intent in missing mass is not really to be separated from God. If I were asked to choose God or not, I wouldnt reject him clearly thinking I am rejecting God. But as it is, missing mass is put in the same language as denying Jesus Christ of Nazareth and committing apostacy. I dont understand why missing mass is apostacy or denial of God, even if one knows the church considers it mortal sin. That is my confusion of single acts rather than deep inner attitude of will with God determine who are enemeies of God.

I can understand that deliberate sins are wounds. I dont understand that certain categories of deliberate sins if not from a place of true hatred or malice but from weakness of flesh are translated to mean something like 'I reject you God and wish to be separated from you." seems extreme. Wouldnt such persons instead spend long lenghts in purgatory until their love is purified, unless they really rejected God? as I see it, they just choose the easy way (sleep in bed) not “I don’t love you God”. That is sin, but I dont understand why it leads to spiritual death of the worst kind.

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