SPLIT: Going where I do not want to go? (Part 2)


Two years ago (maybe more recently) I would have argued the RCC was not Christian. Today my wife and I found ourselves defending the RCC in our Sunday School class.

I desperately do not want to be RC, yet when I am honest I know many “unusual” RCC teachings make sense, I am unable to defend Sola Scriptura (I am still trying), and I suspect (I am no historian yet) that the early church didn’t look or believe like an Evangelical one.

A couple of quick questions/requests:

  1. The NT Epistles (especially Romans) screams Sola Fide to me. The RCC means of justification is confusing and awkward: If you are lucky enough (a phrase I know many will hate) to die in “a state of grace” you get to burn your venial sins away in purgatory then go to heaven. The RCC believes in salvation by grace, but discredits itself in that claim with its list of dos and don’ts (that effect salvation) while you must DO the sacraments to get that grace (it isn’t free). Can someone please clarify as much as possible and reconcile salvation by grace through faith with the RCC rituals and requirements?


  1. I think the Apostles, of all people in the history of the earth, would be twelve men of one mind and heart. St.James explicitly writes of faith *and *works, so all Apostles were in agreement with that also.
    Of course, as one non-denom said to me once, ‘…James is wrong…’, which would logically mean to a ‘sola scriptura’ guy that the Holy Spirit is wrong or that the NT Scriptures are not inspired, or that more Scripture is as wrong as St.James - but nobody can possibly ever tell what else might be wrong. So people just invent their own religions and so on…:shrug:


Timmy, read Matthew 25 beginning at verse 31. It contains a bunch of “do’s” that Our Savior said is necessary for salvation. Now, who you gonna believe, Him or somebody’s misinterpretation of Paul?


Hi Tim,

I can’t answer your question about Icons but I expect somebody else can.

About faith and grace, you have a very common and distorted view. Catholics who are living their faith don’t view the sacraments as things we must DO. They are points of contact with God, with his love and mercy and grace and forgiveness. Do Evangelicals think of e.g. prayer as something they must DO? You see the point? The few rules about needing the sacraments are there to give a little impetus to Catholics who are slacking off to not fall away from God.

The problem with sola Fide, besides the fact that it is not in the bible (I know you would disagree) and that it was never taught by the Church (can’t disagree there) is that makes a mockery of both God’s grace and man’s nature (man who is made in the image and likeness of God). To say that nobody can get to heaven without faith, but that only a split second of such faith can guarantee one’s place with God for all eternity, is a bizarre distortion of the nature and the magnitude of the choice we are are called by God to make. Sola Fide may apply to deathbed conversions, but it simply doesn’t correspond to the life that the more typical Christian is called to live for the many decades they may call themselves Christian.

But beyond that, what difference does it make? What difference does it make to the life of a Christian if sola Fide is true or not? Will the spiritual life of a fervent Evangelical really be that different than the life of a fervent Catholic? Think about that. Why is it so important to Evangelicals that sola Fide be true? What would be so awful if it weren’t true?


The most important thing to point out is what is meant by Justification by Faith Alone (Sola Fide). Here is a quote from the Protestant (Reformed) Westminster Confession of Faith:I. Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies;not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
(Ch 11-On Justification)
This is the FUNDAMENTAL difference between Catholics and all “classical” Protestants (eg Lutherans, Calvinists, etc), Sola Fide is a RESULT of this fundamental difference.
Here is an example: lets say fallen man is similar to a bank account in debt (that they cant pay). The merits of Jesus Christ are the only way that debt can be paid to satisfy the Manager (God). The differences is simply this, Protestants believe the Manager’s focus is taken OFF of your account and focused onto Christ’s bank account and thus He is satisfied and calls you “debt free” (justified)…Catholics reject this because YOUR OWN account is not actually considered and in effect God is CALLING someone “debt free” who is actually in debt still, that is precisely what the above quote is saying. Catholics believe the funds (grace) in Jesus’ account is applied DIRECTLY to our OWN accounts making us TRULY debt free and thus the Manager is declaring what is in fact a reality.
This is the most fundamental difference between Protestants and Catholics that must be understood.

Now, as it should follow when we sin it is akin to putting ourself back in debt in our bank account, thus we must leave this life with a sufficiently positive balance (“state of grace”) or else the Manager will no longer consider us debt free and we cant be saved. This doesnt make sense in Protestantism because your own account is never considered, rather it is overlooked.

St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is VERY IMPORTANT in regards to this situation because it actually teaches the CATHOLIC understanding of Justification (grace applied directly to our souls, aka “infused grace”), not the Protestant understanding (grace means overlooking your faults and focusing on Christ, aka “imputed grace”).
If you are ready for your life to change, read this short article and I guarantee you will no longer see things the same way again:


Catholic Dude,

Thanks for the replies…

I see justification (sola fide) more as God deducts the money (righteousness) from Christ’s account that I owe. My account is dealt with because Jesus spotted me the “money” and my debt is paid.

St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is VERY IMPORTANT in regards to this situation because it actually teaches the CATHOLIC understanding of Justification (grace applied directly to our souls, aka “infused grace”), not the Protestant understanding (grace means overlooking your faults and focusing on Christ, aka “imputed grace”).

Yet Paul speaks directly referring to our imputed grace:

Romans 4:20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.



The other question has it’s own thread here.

  1. Well, it may scream to you that, but ask yourself where in history did it scream this interpretation to any Christians before the reformation?

As for the confusion over faith and works, I will use an analogy that RyanL used, along with some pronouncements from the council of Trent session VI. I will also link you to some James Akin articles that may help.

Originally posted by RyanL

Canon 1.
If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.
(Paraphrase: You can’t earn initial justification - it’s a gift; this refutes the Pelagians.)

Canon 2.
If anyone says that divine grace through Christ Jesus is given for this only, that man may be able more easily to live justly and to merit eternal life, as if by free will without grace he is able to do both, though with hardship and difficulty, let him be anathema.
(Paraphrase: Grace doesn’t just get you started - it is responsible for the whole process; this refutes the Semi-Pelagians.)

Canon 3.
If anyone says that without the predisposing inspiration of the Holy Ghost and without His help, man can believe, hope, love or be repentant as he ought, so that the grace of justification may be bestowed upon him, let him be anathema.
(Paraphrase: God’s grace, through the HS, comes to us before faith - again with the Semi-Pelagians.)

That should get you past the whole “not of works” argument. After that, I like to give the following analogy to help clarify the Catholic position and contrast it with the Protestant ones:

Let’s say that instead of justification or salvation or sanctification or any of those complex and very precise words (which Catholics and Protestants sometimes define differently), let’s say that instead of calling it “Eternal Life”, we call it “a puppy”. It may sound silly, but hear me out…

How can you make God give you a puppy?
What can you do to make God give you a puppy?
Is there any work that you can perform that forces God to give you a puppy?

OF COURSE NOT! That’s good orthodox Christianity.

If God wants to give you a puppy, that’s His choice - you can’t make God give you anything by your own works. Here’s the thing, though - God wants to give you a puppy! All you have to do is say “Yes”.

So great. Now you have a puppy. Now what?

Well…you have to take care of it, silly! You have to feed it and walk it and potty train it - it takes work! If you don’t take care of your puppy, your puppy will die.

Now, God (just like every parent with their kids) knew going into this deal that you wouldn’t take very good care of the puppy, no matter what you said to the contrary. He knew that you wouldn’t always walk it or feed it daily. Maybe you do a pretty good job of things and mostly take care of your puppy, and if you do - GREAT! As long as your puppy makes it (even barely), you’re in. Welcome to Heaven!

If not, however, you’re like most of us and have let our puppies die; most times we let our puppies die through neglect, not malice. (This is what Catholics call a “mortal sin”.) It doesn’t really matter which way we kill our puppies, though, because in the end we’re still stuck with a dead puppy.

Here’s where God comes in again - He can restore your puppy to life! That’s part of the really good news! If our puppies die, God can bring them back and give us another chance. (The process for restoring our puppies to life according to the Bible is confession.) WARNING: Confession involves true contrition, which means we’re actually sorry for our sins (not just saying sorry, but actually meaning it). If we apologize to God and promise to try really hard not to do it again, He’ll raise our puppy for us. He paid that price.

So what do Catholics think about faith and works? You can’t “earn” a puppy, but if you don’t take care of it your puppy will die. If your puppy does die, God will bring it back to life if you’re actually sorry and promise to do your best to take care of your puppy in the future. If you die with a puppy, you get to enjoy the eternal puppy-love of God (a million times magnified)…

God Bless,

  1. James Akin Righteousness and Merit Keep reading it. It may not immediately be apparent but this article, I think, will help you clear up some misunderstandings.

First, they recognize what is called “initial justification,” which is a single event that happens to a person once, at the beginning of the Christian life and by which one is given righteous before God. Second, they recognize what is called “progressive justification,” which occurs over the course of the Christian life and by which one grows in righteousness.

Furthermore, when Catholics talk about progressive justification/sanctification, they are again thinking of God making us ontologically righteous. This is almost totally missed by Protestants when they compare the Catholic view of progressive justification to the Protestant idea of sanctification, which is in turn part of the basis on which they say Catholics confuse justification with sanctification. No, Catholics don’t. They recognize that growth in personal holiness (behavioral righteousness) is a separate and subsequent event to initial justification. The confusion is on the part of the Protestant who thinks Catholics are talking about growth in behavioral righteousness when they talk about progressive justification/sanctification. They aren’t. They’re talking about growth in actual righteousness.

This is sometimes a difficult concept for Protestants to grasp since they have heard so many sermons about righteousness being an all or nothing thing that they have trouble understanding the concept of how righteousness can grow. This is one of the things that keeps them boxed into a two-fold understanding of righteousness. However, the problem is solved when one grasps the concept of actual righteousness, which is not a one-dimensional but a two-dimensional concept.

This article has alot packed into it. Please take the time to read it slowly. And then read it again. And again.

God Bless,


This is not an either/or issue, it is a both/and.

Paul is telling us that we are saved by faith apart from works of the law.
Keep in mind of the issues Paul was addressing. There were Judaizers who were telling the Gentiles that they needed to be circumcised to be saved.

Paul is saying that this is wrong, you are saved by your faith.

But Paul is not saying that this should be an empty faith, it must be faith and obedience.

God has always demanded faith and obedience.

And that would be faith working through love.

We are saved by God’s grace alone, and our response to that grace is faith working through love.

If you don’t believe me then you might want to ask the “Goats” at the final judgement.


I don’t think that faith and works can be separated; they are two sides of the same coin. It is really strange to me that so many evangelicals seem so focused on this issue, since it also seems to me that evangelicals are some of the most “works oriented” people I know–and that’s a good thing.

Read the scripture passage from Matthew 25 mentioned by geezerbob. In this account of the Last Judgment, and how we will be judged–an account given by Jesus himself–it sure sounds like everything depends on our works.


The Letter of James clears up the confusion.

Mere belief is not enough. (If it were, St. Paul would not have needed to write 9 letters rebuking various congregations for the things they were doing wrong.)

Faith is necessary to salvation, but it is not the only thing that is necessary for salvation.

Obedience to Christ’s commandments and to the authority of His Church is also essential, as St. Paul proves, by the very act of writing those nine letters to the wayward congregations.

He also wrote three letters to Titus and Timothy, the Bishops that he himself had ordained and installed. If faith (mental belief) were really all that is required, why would he have bothered to ordain and install these next-generation leaders? And why would he have been so careful to pass down to them the instructions of the Apostles? If “anything goes,” just as long as you believe?

I think that if faith alone were the only requirement, the Apostles would not have bothered to write any of the New Testament, other than just to say, “Believe in Christ, and that’s it; you’re done.” They certainly would not have died for their faith - after all, if there is no such thing as sin when you have faith, then lying to save your skin should at least be understandable, if not actually a virtue. :shrug:


Why don’t you want to be Catholic? God often calls us throughout our lives to do things that make us uncomfortable. I have found however, that the rewards (of following God’s will in general- not just in this particular case) are greater than the pain, discomfort, and uncertainty- and that the suffering you go through as you are trying to carry out His will are worth it, and they make the reward seem even better. Please pray about this.


Why don’t you want to be Catholic?

With my answer I am being honest and mean to offend no RCC people here:

I do not like what I see on the other side of the fence. I live in one of the largest Catholic Arhdiocese in the country (I have been told) and half of my family is Catholic (my fathers side). I personally know many catholics, but know of no Catholic (literally) who I think practices or knows their faith well enough to tell me what transubstantiation means (It all seems to just be their cultural thing). Evangelicals are spiritually alive and with the RCC I see spiritual death and I fear to bring my family over (my wife is a fatihful woman who submits to her husband as told by Scripture and would go where I lead).


  1. Jesus merited the grace we need for salvation.

  2. Faith brings one to seek baptism, the sacrament Jesus established to impart to our souls the grace of rebirth/regeneration He merited. We receive it free; no good works - other than faith - are required to merit or qualify for the reception of Baptism. (For an adult it is his own faith; for a baby it is the faith of the parent)
    *Mt 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, *

Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 3:6 which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 3:7 so that we might be justified by His grace …

  1. Having received this saving grace/new life, **it is up to us not lose it **
    through serious sin;
    *Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. *

**or by burying it and not using it **(good works).
*Mt 25:25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 25:26 But his master answered him, You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? … 25:28 So take the talent from him, *

*Mt 25:41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 25:42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, *



Well, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that what you described above is in line with the Biblical and historical Christian understanding of salvation, which was defended by the Catholic Church at the time of the “Reformation”…the bad news is that what you described was explicitly rejected by the original “Reformers” (as well as those Protestant groups who claim to follow in their footsteps).

Under the view you propose above (ie Infused Grace) your actions in life directly affect your “account”, and thus good works do play a part in your salvation.

Yet Paul speaks directly referring to our imputed grace:

Romans 4:20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

First of all, what you described previously, "My account is dealt with because Jesus spotted me the “money” and my debt is paid."
is not imputed, it is infused. This is very important to distinguish between.
Second of all, that specific passage you cite above is very important as well because we see Abraham’s soul (ie his own account) is being considered here, this is in drastic contrast to the classical Protestant understanding where “Christ’s Righteousness” (ie Christ’s account) is considered RATHER THAN your own account.
Third, and this is the most important, you need to read that link I gave you (better yet give it to your pastor to read as well) because it deals with the Greek word (logizomai) for “imputed” as used in the above passage. I cant stress how important that link is. Different Protestant translations use different terms for that Greek word, “imputed”, “credited”, “reckoned”, etc. The use of “imputed” is a favorite Protestant pick because they think it proves their case, yet upon inspection you will see the usage of that Greek word in the New Testament doest work with the classical Protestant “imputed” understanding of overlooking your account and focusing on Christ’s account instead.


I do know exactly what you mean. I once thought I was called to the Catholic church to help Catholics become “truly saved”. I was humbled by the number of Catholics who had a deep and quiet faith in the Lord.

You will find that the faith is expressed differently. You will also find those will little faith who go to church every Sunday. In the Evangelical Churches, people just stop coming. But what does scripture say about it?

:bible1: Matt 13:29 But he said, `No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
30] Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’"

The Church SHOULD have weeds and wheat growing together. I know that sometimes on the outside looking in, the weeds seem to be more abundant that the wheat, but once you get inside, you see the strength and health of the wheat:)

I also wanted to add, since I see that you both seem to believe that a wife submits to the husband as per scripture:yup: , which Church is the only Church that has stood firm in the belief that it is wrong for women to be the spiritual leader of men? Maybe your church is one of them, but the Catholic church has stood firm on this, even against the intense criticism from INSIDE the Church.

May God bless you and guide you to all truth. May God grant your wife peace and understanding with your decision.

Your sister in Christ,


Do you trust God to keep your family spiritually alive? Or are you depending on the perceived “aliveness” of Evanglical worship to do that?

Funny you’d say that about Catholics specifically, that’s precisely why a lot of people I know won’t go to any church at all - because the Christians they know are poor representatives of Christianity. My husband and I used to teach Jr/Sr High Sunday School at an Independent, Fundamental Baptist Church. There were cradle Baptists in there that didn’t know squat about the Bible - it’s not just a RC problem by any means.

I have heard from cradle Catholics that those of us who are coming into the Church from Evangelical backgrounds actually can inspire them to learn more about the faith they’ve grown up in. Being an RCIA Sponsor is a great way for a cradle Catholic to learn the whys and wherefores of their faith.

I submit to you, that they don’t feel the need to know what “transubstantiation” means because they’ve just always believed that it’s the Body and Blood of Jesus. I really don’t think they teach 2nd graders (typical age for 1st Communion) that word, and if they do, what 2nd grader is going to remember a doozy of a word like that?

For the record, I didn’t want to be Catholic, either. God. Made. Me. :thumbsup:


Beautifully expressed Maria.


The majority of Catholics are not theologians, just as the majority of Protestants are also not theologians.

Ask your nearest lay Protestant what the term Sola Scriptura refers to, or to list the five Solas for you, and I bet you’ll get the same “deer caught in the headlights” look from them, too.

Evangelicals are spiritually alive and with the RCC I see spiritual death and I fear to bring my family over (my wife is a fatihful woman who submits to her husband as told by Scripture and would go where I lead).

Tip for you - try going to a weekday Mass. That’s where you’ll meet the really on-fire Catholics - those who would know the word “Transubstantiation,” and who would probably also be able to explain to you what’s wrong with the five Solas. :wink:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.