The protestant view of how humans are viewed by God

I came across this protestant quote today

If we got what we deserved from God, none of us would be in existence. We would be banished from His presence forever. The mystery is that we do not get what we deserve.

I agree that nothing in us can merit favor with God, and yet there is something divine in us by virtue of being His creation. Many protestants are taught that everything we do is tainted with sin, and that when God redeemed us he simply covered our sin, and our righteousness is only a legal declaration not something that increases with spiritual growth, paltry though it may be.

What does the Catholic church teach about this?

Not all Protestants believe in the same thing as there are many Protestant denominations.

There are Protestants who hold the view that saved Christians are clothed with the righteousness of Christ but are filthy inside that when the Father sees them from heaven he sees the righteousness of Christ in them.

On the other hand, Catholics believe that we are not merely clothed with Christ righteousness but we are made cleaned inside that when the Father sees us he would see us as like his own image, pure and holy, not just the superficial righteousness of Christ.

I don’t know of any Protestant church or denomination that believes that God just leaves us “tainted with sin.” Justification is a legal act, but sanctification is a progressive growth in grace where by the power of the Holy Spirit we become transformed into the image of Christ.

In justification, the righteousness of Christ is credited to us; when God judges us, he judges us on the basis of Christ’s merit, not our own. In sanctification, we become like Christ so that we are not just legally declared righteous but actually become so.

righteousness is the gift by grace, which is not a legal declaration (IMO)

living for God should be the result of this gift of grace, which is where we all fail.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has some teaching about merit and also some about justification. I’ll include some of the paragraphs below. I hope they help to clarify the matter a little for you. The glossary says - MERIT: The reward which God promises and gives to those who love him and by his grace perform good works. One cannot “merit” justification or eternal life, which are the free gift of God; the source of any merit we have before God is due to the grace of Christ in us (2006).
JUSTIFICATION: The gracious action of God which frees us from sin and communicates “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” (Rom 3:22). Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man (1987–1989).

Paragraphs 2006 to 2011 cover Merit.

Paragraphs 1987 to 1995 cover Justification.

You can read them online at usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm

I have seen some posts on some threads that leads me to believe that some protestants view salvation in a true legalistic sense. Christ gives is his righteousness, we give Him our sin, therefore we are justified…very contractual.

But salvation is so much more than being justified. We are adopted into God’s family. We have God as our father, Jesus as our eldest brother, Mary as our mother, the saints as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We celebrate feast days and birthdays, we ask for each other’s help. We look out for each other and intercede for each other when needed. The communion of saints…all part of God’s family, is part of ours…let us live that way.

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Calvin and Luther both taught that we are still tainted with original sin. That it pervades our very being and motives, and that nothing we do, think, or say is free from sin. At least as I understand it. Maybe I have a misunderstanding of the Presbyterian and Lutheran doctrines.

That’s right. It’s what Luther called “simul justus et peccator,” that you remained a sinner deserving of damnation, but were only declared just through the mercy of God. And this was an “alien imputed righteousness.” “Alien,” because it originated and remained outside the sinner, having only God as its source. “Imputed” because it was never possessed by the sinner, but merely credited to him.

For Luther and Calvin, both monergists, this was the only way to rationally make salvation “sola gratia” as allowing any modicum of remnant righteousness in man would make man a co-actor in salvation.

Other Protestants, however, of the Arminian/Wesleyan/Holiness traditions would disagree. They, along with the Catholic Church, retain the view that man is not wholly corrupt, even as he is lost to sin and doomed to damnation without the intervention of God. Man still possesses enough of his original goodness that when God calls to the sinner through the Gospel, he is able of his own will to answer the call.

No, you are correct (as far as Presbyterians and I think Lutherans). However, that’s not what I’m talking about.

The sin of Adam was imputed to all of us. In Adam, we all sinned. In Christ, we are all made righteous. This is justification. Sanctification deals with our personal sin.There is a justifying work and a sanctifying work. Justification accomplishes the legal work, and sanctification accomplishes the actual, personal transformation from sinful to righteous. So, to say that Protestants believe we are just left “tainted” by sin is not accurate. We are instantaneously justified and progressively sanctified.

Yes, prevenient grace. But even this is a work of God within man and not something that occurs outside of God’s intervention.

Trent:

Canon 11.

If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost,[116] and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema.

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[quote=ltwin] Quote:

Originally Posted by PatriciusRex

Other Protestants, however, of the Arminian/Wesleyan/Holiness traditions would disagree. They, along with the Catholic Church, retain the view that man is not wholly corrupt, even as he is lost to sin and doomed to damnation without the intervention of God. Man still possesses enough of his original goodness that when God calls to the sinner through the Gospel, he is able of his own will to answer the call.

Yes, prevenient grace. But even this is a work of God within man and not something that occurs outside of God’s intervention.
[/quote]

Trent:

Canon 32.

If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life, and in case he dies in grace, the attainment of eternal life itself and also an increase of glory, let him be anathema.

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