The Difference between Luther's And The Catholic Church's Salvation


**** I have been trying to understand the all aspects of the views of salvation from both sides and I have often come across myths and inaccuracies, I was wondering if anyone can give me some insight of the difference between both sides, their opinion and by using both scripture and the teachings of the early church fathers , teachings of Luther and history. I will plan on re learning this subject. so I need something to start. Debates are permitted!


Before responding, can you perhaps be alitle more specific? When you say “salvation,” what do you mean?

Who will be saved? (Predestination/Original Sin)

How are they saved? (Justification and Sanctification/Faith alone vs. Faith and Works)

What are they saved from?

When are they saved?


Prayers and petitions,


In a nutshell: here are the main differences.

In the traditional Catholic understanding, a person is saved (i.e., placed into a relationship of friendship with God) by the infusion of sanctifying grace into their soul by God. This happens initially at the sacrament of baptism, and after serious sin a person is restored to a state of grace either by the sacrament of penance or by experiencing perfect contrition (sorrow for sin based on the fact that it is displeasing to God rather than on the fact that you will be punished). In Luther’s day, this had not been fully defined–some theologians seem to have taught that perfect contrition was necessary even when you confessed your sins sacramentally, which is one of the things that tortured Luther’s conscience. A person who receives the sacraments of baptism or penance receives grace unless they put an obstacle in the way–i.e., unless they resist the offer of grace. In all these cases, grace is a gift of God and not within a person’s power, although the person can choose freely to accept or refuse the gift. Human beings can prepare themselves for grace, but even this is possible only with the help of God, and one of the essential prerequisites for sanctifying grace–faith–is, like sanctifying grace, a gift of God. In no way can human beings earn the gift of sanctifying grace (again, this was not quite as clearly defined in Luther’s day). However, once people receive sanctifying grace, they are responsible for cooperating with it, and insofar as they do so the resulting good works “merit” (in the sense that they are worthy of) further gifts of grace resulting in final salvation. If a person wilfully commits a serious sin, they lose sanctifying grace and must regain it through penance and/or perfect contrition, and the cycle starts again. The process of transforming people into God’s likeness is usually finished off in Purgatory.

In Luther’s mature teaching, human beings receive grace at the moment when they place their trust in Christ and His saving work rather than in anything they can do for themselves. As in Catholic theology, this faith is a gift of God–indeed, Luther went so far as to deny that human beings have any meaningful free will with regard to salvation, which contradicts Catholic teaching. People cannot prepare themselves for grace by doing good works. However, the proclamation of God’s law does prepare people for grace in the sense that it drives them to despair in their own works. A person who believes is considered to be fully righteous by God, being united to Christ by faith. Such a person’s sins therefore do not count in God’s eyes. However, faith inevitably produces love and good works, and a believer will always struggle against sin. While in some cases a believer might fall into serious sin, they will do so through the weakness of the flesh and will not persist in sin (David’s adultery and murder are the most extreme examples of a believer’s sin, but David did repent when confronted with what he had done). If a believer does simply give up on resisting the flesh and living a holy life, they will not remain a believer. It is in fact possible to turn away from faith in Christ and thus be damned even after having truly put one’s faith in Christ. Thus, as long as one believes one does not have to worry about being condemned for one’s sins–but on the other hand a believer’s sins are always going to arise from weakness and not from a deliberate turning away from God, which is incompatible with saving faith.

The best source for Luther’s mature thought on this matter is his commentary on Galatians. Particularly helpful is chapter 5, v. 6 and vv. 17-19. His earlier works “Two Kinds of Righteousness” and “The Freedom of a Christian” are also very important.

In Christ,



Excellent exposition on the Catholic and Luther’s position on Justification. Tks.


I agree! Nicely done!


Forgive me if I’m sounding too simplistic, but here’s my take:

Lutheran: Eternal damnation to those who die as non-believers.

Catholic: Eternal damnation to those who die with unrepentant sin.


Luther said that his ‘reformed’ religion rose and fell on the understanding and belief of Justification.

If that is the case, your analysis is right on.



The Salvation plan is simple. I believe that Luther’s view is very much in line with scripture and unfortunately, the Catholic view is not.


Luther’s plan?

I think you could start out with the explanation of the creation of man, and God’s plan for salvation. And how that plan was derailed by Adam’s sin, and how God, out of his Divine Love and Mercy planned on redeeming man by sending His only Begotten Son, how he would tell us about God’s love, and how he would suffer and die for us, and on the Third day he would rise from the Dead, and after a while he would go back to the Father, but would send to us a Paraclete, and Comforter, founding his Church, and being with Her until the end of time, and the gates of Hell would not prevail against her.

And in and through His Church, we would find salvation, by the means of grace, the Sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, the Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders and Matrimony. And by living lives worthy of him, holy and blameless, he would take us to his Glory, for ever and ever.

As for Luther’s, he attacked God’s holy Church, and picked and chose among what truths and beliefs of the Church he liked, and feeling his own guilt and blemish and inability to work out his salvation in the Church, 1,500 years after God founded his Church, Luther said all that was necessary was to believe, and sin to your heart’s content, cause God saved you once for all, Once saved, Always saved, and there was little you had to do to claim the Reward of eternal life.



Luther’s Salvation plan is simple… yeah, a little too simple. Jesus said His burden was light – if it involves us picking up Jesus’ burden it can’t be all that simple.

Luther’s Salvation plan is very much in line with the scripture… yeah, if you ignore or don’t count as scripture that which is out of line with his plan (including the parts of scripture that say scripture is not the only guide to religious truth).


I agree – an excellent summary!

Is there a specifically Anglican take on salvation?


I didn’t say Luther’s plan, I said Luther’s view. Your statement about him attacking God’s holy church is merely your opinion. In my opinion, Luther redirected God’s church and attempted to put it back on the rails that it was on during the Early Church. Check your history and see how much the church had changed from its inception with Jesus and how it was in the early 16th century. It had become far from what jesus taught and intended. No pope or anyone for that matter has the right to intercede God’s truth.


Luther had a view -plan-, and he set himself up as the head of his own religion, or sect of the Roman Catholic Church.

Apparently you haven’tg read anything Luther had to say about our Holy Father the Pope. He reserved his worst blasphemy, insults, curses, snarles and spits for the Pope. I won’t dishonor this site by quoting any of it, (and I promised to be nicer to Martin Luther).

You say noone has the right to intercede with God’s truth. You are right, because in that you include Luther. The Holy Spirit was sent on Pentecost to guide the Church and the Pope from error, of the errors Luther developed, like faith alone without infused grace, including hope and charity for salvation, OSAS, and such other of his errors. Christ washed us of our sins; he didn’t cover them over, so that our souls were still putrified messes, covered over so God would not see the dung heap Luther called our souls. (“Simul Justus et Peccator”)

Please don’t start me off on Luther. I’m already having a bad day.



Did you ever stop to think for just one moment that Luther saved these vulgarities for the pope because of the kind of unChristlike person the pope was? It was certainly not a gracious thing for Luther to do but maybe just maybe it was out of complete frustration and righteous anger. Maybe just maybe. It is a historical fact that many popes were guilty of some very haneous things like pedophilia, beastiality, fornication and rape. Doesn’t sound like what Jesus had in mind for apostolic succession. Enter the Reformation.


The Catholic view was okay for 1500 years, and weve managed for the 500 years afterwards. Martin was having temptations to sin and he couldn’t control himself. It all got away from him. He had a darkened soul. God couldn’t intend for him to sin and go to hell, so Martin came up with a plan so sin was still okay, cause we have no free will according to him, (that explained how he handled his uncontrollable passions) and we are saved by the Jesus.

The devil visited him often. I’d feel better if he was going to form a new religion, that God would visit him like God did with Abraham.



The popes never answered Luther in kind for his vulgarities and blasphemies. Yes, there were human popes, but don’t talk like it was universal to every pope, or all the popes or to everything the ‘bad’ popes did. With all their faults they never committed doctrinal error. Remember, Christ promised and sent to us the Paraclete, to keep us from error, and ‘the gates of hell’.

Please don’t tell me Luther’s motivation was 'frustration and righteous anger". He had no reason to have ‘righteous anger’.
He tried making Catholicism easier not harder.

His religion survived because of 'cuius regio, cuius religio". The Princes came to his support for their own selfish reasons. Otherwise it would have come to a bitter end for him.

Just one more thing: “many popes were guilty of some very haneous things like pedophilia, beastiality, fornication and rape”,
I think you are getting carried away by many Protestant historians. That sentence would be one of the blasphemies told by Protestants.

The Catholic Church, as you have accused us of this, promoted truth, virtues and highly moral way of life. All you have to do is to look at the lives of the saints, which have been set before us for edification. You call it ‘idolatry’, but you can’t point to a list of Lutheran saints. Luther was an enormous sinner, yet you make a saint out him, one who sets himself up as a judge of others - please spare us this untruth.



Whoa, wait, I never said anything about idolatry. We believe in the communion of saints as well as you. Sounds like you need some education on the differences in Protestant denominations. I am sorry to say that there is no Protestant spin on historical fact that some of the popes were some horrible people. Child molesters and such. Not too hard to believe see that RC priests of today are guilty of the same thing.


It is not fair to paint Catholicism with the broadbrush that there were some sinners in the Church today. Such doesn’t affect our doctrine, our beliefs, our piety, or our religion. Some failed on their way. They were human, as you and I are human.

Do you feel better now that some of our priests were sinful, and failed. Or, if you profess this communion of saints, as you say, do you pray for them, and for their victims???

Pretty soon you will be attacking Mary, and saying she wasn’t so sinless after all.



Saying that Mary was not sinless isn’t attacking her at all and you know it. Attempting to bait me into a Catholic doctrine vs. a broadbased ignorant view of Protestantism in general is however attacking in nature.


Catholics freely admit that there have been wicked popes, but for us the personal wickedness of such popes does not detract from the legitimacy of the papacy and of the apostolic succession more generally. We see that the Apostles themseves were deeply flawed. Our Lord chose sinners to work through because that it is all He had and has to work with – sinful human beings.

It looks to me as if Protestants are more focused on men than on Christ and more on other men than on themselves. They seek an impossible standard that Christ’s true church must be a sinless one, one without sinners. They see that the Catholic Church is full of sinners and conclude that they must found a church of their own that will be sinless and Christ’s true church. When that second church shows itself to be full of sinners, many break off and find a third church and so on and so on. Meanwhile, they have mired themselves in self-righteousness and authorized themselves to create new doctrines further and further from the apostolic faith.

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