So I accidentally got into an argument on Facebook about Luther and I need help lol


So it started with faith and works. I linked him an answer on Catjolic answers that quoted Carthage and Trent and the Bible on how we don’t believe we are saved by works ( alone). Either way, this was the response and I’m a bit unsure how to answer. Needless to say, the phone call will not happen, but I do want to give him a good answer on Luther and stuff, not to convert but to, you know, inform.
“the catholic church has come along way, i stand corrected. I don’t like typing that long of a text but I’ll say this… Lutherans believe faith alone grace alone scripture alone. Works come as a natural gift of the Holy spirt in working in you. Good works are great but the only reason I am saved is by faith in Christ that his grace is what saved me and scripture is my rock. I would like to talk to you on a phone conversation I love people that know the history I can tell you Lutheran history at the diet of worms and how the church ordered a hit on Luther’s head. Times whe re e different then 95 thesis changed a lot and I dont believe in all modern protestant theologians or the old catholic and Lutheran have been all I can say stand true and firm to the scriptures.”

So I guess I need help on faith alone, scripture alone, proof on how the catholic teachings apostolic and has always been the same as opposed to his belief that the Catholic Church “ came a long way”. And on the whole Luther’s head business. I know I’m asking for a lot lol, but I knew I’d find someone who can help in here.

Thank you guys!


Based on the comment I actually think he accepts the Catholic view on justification.

Scripture alone: I would begin with how can we trust that Scripture is actually inspired?


First, is this a person who is family or real life friend?


This isn’t opposed to Catholic teaching.

But he misses the full implication. You should tell him that saying “works come as a natural gift of the Holy Spirit” only makes full consistent sense in the Catholic view.

Here’s how: Luther and the Reformers taught imputed justification, that there is no inner change or transformation of the justified sinner. Behaviorally, maybe, but to them, the justified Christian is really still snow-covered dung. In other words, in Luther’s view, Christ stands before the justified person, and that person is declared righteous in view of Christ, whom God inflicted his anger on and punished because of humanity’s sin. The sinner does not become holy. He is only considered righteous, as if God is squinting his eyes to see Christ in our place while ignoring our true nature.

The Catholic view is very different: We are not merely declared justified but made so, through the transformation of the interior self. This is not Roman Catholic vs Protestant but, indeed, ancient Christendom, East and West, vs 16th century innovation. Look to the Greek Byzantine East, or the Syriac East, or other Eastern Christian traditions: They speak of divinization, of theosis, of becoming “partakers of the divine nature,” as Peter himself says in his epistle.

Why is this important to point out? Because according to Catholicism, the good works we do are expressions and manifestations of the inner TRANSFORMATION that takes place in the soul due to Sanctifying Grace, the virtue of Charity, and the indwelling of the Spirit (which are more or less all synonymous).

So see? Both Catholics and Lutherans will agree that good works are expressions of the justified soul. But Catholics say so precisely because the soul is transformed in grace and love. To traditional Protestants, there is no such inner transformation.

This is why Lutherans cannot truthfully agree with James, who says “you see that you are justified by works and NOT by faith ALONE.” James does not mean that we are made right with God by our own works. Rather, he means that our continual transformation (begun with God’s transforming grace) is truly caused by God’s grace in our good works, which are just responses to God’s grace, in the first place.

But (most) Protestants can’t say this, because they separate justification with the continual sanctification — precisely because of their above notion of imputed justification, whereby the sinner is merely declared righteous at a moment in time because of Christ’s work on the cross.


In other words, don’t argue that good works save us, because that misses the foundational issue. To your Lutheran friend, that will sound like you’re saying we do works before God can declare us justified before him. But that is clearly not the Catholic teaching.

We can only say good works “justify” us once we establish that justification is an ongoing transformation of the soul.

To say good works are part of salvation does not mean there is some set number of works we have to do before we can go to Heaven. God doesn’t judge us on the amount of works we do, as if there is a scale. Rather, good works are expressions of the transformed soul in Charity — and it is Charity, Love, that saves us.

This is why the baptized infant, who has done NO good work, can still be fully ready for the Beatific Vision of God in Heaven: He has the virtue of charity infused into his soul, which unites him to God.

If that infant goes on to live to the age of reason, then this same infused gift of Charity and Sanctifying Grace will have ample opportunities to grow as the person continually responds to God’s call.


you can get some ideas from here


I pulled this from Servant of God, Fr. John Hardon’s work on grace:

Chapter XX.


Beginning from his open attack on the practice of indulgences in the Church in 1517, Luther had gone on to expound certain fundamental doctrinal errors. He held that nature, entirely corrupted and deprived of moral liberty by sin, is forced to sin. Justification is something completely entrinsic to man and consists in this that sin is no longer imputed to the sinner but instead the merits of Christ, laid hold of by the faith of confidence alone, are imputed to him. After patient waiting and lengthy consideration, Pope Leo X (1513-21) finally issued the bull Exsurge Domine in June, 1520, condemning forty-one errors of Luther. They were taken from Luther’s own writings and related to free will, original sin, the sacraments in general, faith, grace, sin, penance, confession, the primacy, etc. As presented in the bull, the individual errors are not given a precise censure.

(1). It is a heretical, though common, opinion that the sacraments of the New Law give justifying grace to those who place no obstacle in the way.

(2). To deny that sin remains in a child after baptism is to despise both Paul and Christ alike.

(3). The tendency to sin hinders a departing soul’s entrance into heaven, even though there is no mortal sin.

(31). In every good work the just man sins.

(32). A good work perfectly performed is a venial sin.

(36). After sin, free will is a term without meaning; and when it does what is in its power, it sins mortally.


Begin here:


Well, it’s actually part of a therapy group that I am in because of my OCD . Like I said, we got into this almost accidentally because today’s topic was scrupulosity.


Ahhhh. The Vatican document I linked above may be of use.

If you have access to “Formed” there is a good study on the Reformation.


Thanks guys! This is awesome content. I will pull an answer together from what you all gave me!


Also, don’t give him the benefit when he admits “the Catholic Church has come a along way.” True, at least he is open to what the Catholic Church officially teaches. But he misunderstands that the Church has somehow taught differently in the past: It hasn’t.

And don’t forget to include the testimony from the East. I feel like Catholic apologetics often forgets this great asset. We always frame these issues as (Roman) Catholic vs Protestant. When really, we can look to the great tradition from the various Eastern expressions as well (many of which, of course, are included under the mantle of the “Catholic Church” united in Rome). Point out to your friend that no ancient christian tradition — Catholic, yes, but neither the Eastern or Oriental Orthodox, or the Assyrian Church of the East, teaches imputed justification by faith alone.


Gabrielle. Bow out gracefully. Copying and pasting what other people tell you here isn’t going to be helpful.

Study until YOU can answer the questions. Then go back into the ring. It may take a while.

Just leave it as you have no interest in debating, or talking on the phone, and the Joint Declaration is good enough for you.

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