Catholics say: You can’t earn it, but it’s possible to blow it once you have it. (1)
Evangelicals say: You can never lose it once you have it.
HERE IS THE CATHOLIC POSITION
1. Salvation is by grace alone (Evangelicals agree).
2. One cannot earn salvation (Evangelicals agree).
3. There is no work an unjustified man could possibly do to become justified (Evangelicals agree).
4. Once justified, it is possible to lose justifying grace, which is needed for salvation. (Evangelicals disagree, saying not even the worst imaginable sin could cause one to lose their saving grace, even for one moment)
No need to repeat the contents of the articles listed below, but note that the Early Church, including Augustine and the other Church Fathers, agreed with the 2,000-year-teaching of the Catholic Church that it is, indeed, possible to lose one’s gift of salvation through mortal sin. (Bible: "There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." - 1 John 5:16-17) (also see www.catholic.com/library/Mortal_Sin.asp )
On the justification topic, three must-reads are: 1) Salvation Controversy by James Akin 2) Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie 3) A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, by Dave Armstrong.
Oh, one more thing…..Evangelicals hold that justification and sanctification are completely separate things, with justification happening at one instant in time, and sanctification occurring gradually afterwards. Catholics, on the other hand, have never separated justification & sanctification, believing they are virtually interchangeable.
What many Evangelicals do not realize is that separating justification and sanctification, as they do, goes against all Christian teaching from the first 1,500 years of Christianity. This is admitted even by noted Protestant scholars such as Alister McGrath who calls the separating of justification and sanctification a “theological novum” of the Reformation.
Finally…..when Luther realized he had previously taken on a mistaken understanding of the Greek meaning of Paul’s word “faith,” which served as the basis for his new doctrines, Luther logically should have said “Oops” and humbly put a halt to the tragic divisions that were spiraling out of control.
“The Council of Trent condemned this idea of faith as heretical. Even many Protestant scholars today modify the old notion of faith substantially. A standard Protestant reference work on Scripture, the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Supplement Volume, tell us “Paul uses pistis/pisteuein [Greek words for faith and believe] to mean, above all, belief in the Christ kerygma [proclamation or preaching], knowledge, obedience, trust in the Lord Jesus. “Note the word obedience. The Interpreter’s Dictionary admits St. Paul includes it in an important place in his idea of faith.
“In fact, Paul sometimes identifies faith and obedience when he speaks of the “obedience of faith.” Here, the of has the same sense as it does when we say the “city of Chicago.” We mean: the City that is Chicago (see Rom. 1:5; 16:26, and in a similar sense, Rom. 10:16; 6:16; 15:18; 2 Thes. 1:8). Similarly, Vatican II says, “the obedience of faith” is “an obedience in which man entrusts his entire self freely to God, offering ‘the complete submission of intellect and will to God who reveals.’”
“Clearly, such a concept of faith as that given in the councils of Trent and Vatican is radically different from Luther’s concept. So sadly, Luther’s “discovery” is not really a discovery but a mistake, since he did not get the true Pauline meaning of faith in the words “salvation by faith.” [ p. 108-109 Catholic Apologetics Today: Answers to Modern Critics by Rev William G. Most]
“Luther taught justification by faith - but did not know what St. Paul meant by that word faith. He thought it meant confidence that the merits of Christ apply to me -- there is no scholarly support at all for this. Instead Paul means: 1) belief in God's revelation' 2) confidence in
“His promises; 3) obedience to His commands (Rom 1:5) , all done in love. Very different from Luther. So the very basis of his church is gone.
Luther rejected the teaching authority of the Church. Luther taught, in "Epistle" 501: "Even if you sin greatly, believe still more greatly." One need not do anything if he has sinned, just believe it is all paid for. These are not small or honest errors. Objectively all outside have an obligation to investigate and find the truth.” (Rev. William G. Most: http://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/SCHRECK.TXT)
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