“On Grace and Salvation: A Post Dedicated to My Protestant Brothers and Sisters”
We are saved by the grace of God! How accurate and abiding is this basic truth of the Christian faith! Yet how much misunderstanding it has produced!
The most common Protestant objection to the Catholic Church deals with a simple misconception about what the Church actually teaches. Many Protestants believe that Catholics think that they can earn their salvation merely by meritorious actions that please the Lord. While some uneducated Catholics may claim that moral activity is the only means of justification, the Catholic Church has constantly and vigorously condemned the heresy of works-based salvation. The true position is that of justification by faith and by God’s grace.
The reason for the difference, then, is the addition of the word alone to the salvation “formula.” The Church has maintained that salvation by faith alone is un-biblical. Though I’m not typically one to quote the Bible without providing the context, I would ask Protestants to consider the following verses (in the appropriate context):
1) “And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God fora good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 3:21). This section demonstrates that baptism, a sacrament, also saves. Furthermore, the Bible connects baptism with a good conscience.
2) “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone,” (James 2:24). The only time that salvation by “faith alone” is mentioned in the Bible, it is explicitly condemned. Given that James 2:24 is the inspired word of God, it is very difficult to explain away the verse.
3) “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did,” (Luke 13:3). Repentance, too, is essential.
4) “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified,” (Romans 2:13). Justification necessitates the “doing” of the law, which is written on the hearts of all men according to the teaching of St. Paul.
Now, I equally understand that there are numerous verses that suggest a faith-based salvation. They are not to be ignored. However, neither should we ignore the verses that I’ve noted above. We can’t toss out certain parts of the Bible simply because those parts don’t align with our personal theology. Therefore, with this in mind, I choose the Catholic faith. Or, better put, God has ordained for me to be a follower of the Catholic Church. I accept both sorts of verses. We are saved by faith, but not by faith alone!
Please leave a comment if you have a statement or a question to add.
May the Lord our Savior bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN!
Your friend in Christ,