I. What does the Catholic Church teach on salvation?
A. Council of
2. CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man's free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.
3. CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.
4. CANON XI.-If any one saith, 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, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.
5. CANON XVI.-If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema.
6. CANON XIX.-If any one saith, that nothing besides faith is commanded in the Gospel; that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor prohibited, but free; or, that the ten commandments nowise appertain to Christians; let him be anathema.
7. CANON XX.-If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema
8. CANON XXIII.-lf any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial,-except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.
9. CANON XXVI.-If any one saith, that the just ought not, for their good works done in God, to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God, through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if so be that they persevere to the end in well doing and in keeping the divine commandments; let him be anathema.
B. Non-Catholic Christian Objections
1. Aren’t we saved by faith alone?
a. Paul teaches we are “justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom 3:28, Gal 2:16)?
b. Paul taught that we received grace by faith, not by works (Eph 2:8-9).
c. Luke said all we have to do is “believe” and we “will be saved (Acts 16:31).
d. Paul also said, “If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9).
e. The “good thief” was saved because of his faith, not because of anything he did (Lk 23:43).
2. Why don’t you Catholics believe we can know with absolute certainty we are saved?
a. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 Jn 5:13).
- In this passage John says we can know we have eternal life.
3. The Bible teaches you can’t lose you salvation. Why do Catholics believe you can?
a. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (Jn 10:28).
- In this passage John teaches that nobody can pluck us out of God’s hand once he has given us eternal life, therefore we cannot lose our salvation.
b. John teaches “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day” (Jn 6:39)
- So, once we are in Jesus, we cannot be “lost.”
c. Paul teaches that nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:38-39).
C. Catholic Responses to these Objections
1. The verses used in the objections do not support the non-Catholic Christian perspective.
a. There are two ways to interpret the phrase “works of the law” that are completely acceptable within Catholic teaching.
- The ceremonial law (i.e. Circumcision, Dietary customs, etc.)
- All works used to contractually obligate God (including moral)
b. Context, Context, Context!
- Grace vs. Law
- Eph 2:10
c. Careful not to read theology back into text
- Underlying false assumptions are that “belief” is a one-time event and that nothing else must necessarily flow from this afterward.
2. The Scripture teaches we are NOT saved by “faith alone”
a. James denies this teaching (Jam 2:14-26).
b. Paul also teaches we are justified by works (Rom 2:6-7).
c. Jesus taught that we must be obedient to be saved (Mt 7:21).
d. The Judgment of the Nations (Mt 25:31-46).
3. The verse here does not teach an absolute assurance, it teaches a moral assurance.
a. Example of studying for a test.
4. The Scripture teaches we cannot have an absolute assurance.
a. Paul teaches he does not even “judge” himself (1 Cor 4:3-5).
b. Paul teaches “those thinking they are secure, take care not to fall” (1 Cor 10:11-12).
c. Jesus taught to enter eternal life, one must keep the commandments (Mt 19:16-17).
5. O.S.A.S is one of the most dangerous doctrines resulting the Reformation.
a. What is being referred to here is merely that no external force can frustrate God’s plan of salvation.
b. Again, Jesus will not lose us, but says nothing about those who would choose to leave Him.
c. Role of free will after justification.
d. Another perfect example of how external forces cannot deprive us of God’s loving plan of salvation.
6. The greater context of Scripture makes clear that the non-Catholic has misinterpreted these passages.
a. Jesus taught that those who “persevere til the end will be saved” (Mt 24:13).
b. Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32).
c. Paul teaches we must remain in his kindness or we will be cut off” (Rom 11:22).
d. Paul also gave us three lists of sins we could not persist in if we wish to have eternal life; calling them works of the flesh” (Gal 5:19-21, 1 Cor 6:9-10, Eph 5:5).
e. Paul tells us to work our salvation out with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).
f. Paul fears he may be “disqualified” from the “race” for being a hypocrite (1 Cor 9:24-27).
g. Paul teaches when we are separated from Christ, we have “fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4).
h. Writer of Hebrews states that sin removes the “sacrifice for sins” from us (Heb 10:26-27).
i. Abraham’s justification (Heb 11:8- Gen 12:1-8, Rom 4:3-Gen 15:1-6, Jam 2:21- Gen 22).
j. David’s justification (p. 234).
II. Catholic teaching on Purgatory
- The doctrine of purgatory is associated with that of the
A. Council of Lyon II (1274) and Council of
1. The souls of the truly penitent just, who enter death insufficiently cleansed of sin, are cleansed after death.
2. Prayers of the living faithful can help relieve the suffering of purgation.
B. Council of
1. Defined doctrinally that there was a purgatory
- Canon 30 from decree on justification: If anyone says that after the grace of justification has been received the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out for any repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be paid, either in this world or in the other, in purgatory, before access can be opened to the kingdom of heaven, anathema sit ["let him be anathema" or excommunicated].
C. Church Fathers
1. Clement of
- Speaks of a spiritual fire in this world
- Relying on Matt. xii. 32, regarded the doctrine of purgatorial fire for the cleansing away of the remnants of sin as not incredible.
- "Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment"
4. St. Basil (329-379 AD)
- “A place for the purification of souls…a cleansing fire”
5. Gregory of Nyssa
- "When he has quitted his body and the difference between virtue and vice is known he cannot approach God till the purging fire shall have cleansed the stains with which his soul was infested. That same fire in others will cancel the corruption of matter, and the propensity to evil."
- “will not be able to participate in divinity, unless purgatorial fire will have purged away all stains of the soul.”
6. Gregory the Great (604) affirmed the doctrine.
D. Non-Catholic Christian Objections
1. Stem from the idea that we are justified by faith alone.
- All sins are forgiven (past, present, future)
2. Scripture doesn’t say the word “Purgatory.”
E. Catholic responses
1. Scripture doesn’t say the word “Trinity” either, but it teaches the concept. So too does it teach “Purgatory.”
2. Since we have already shown that we the Scripture does not teach we are justified by faith alone, the possibility of purgatory does not contradict our understanding of salvation.
F. Scripture passages
1. 1 Cor 3:12-17
- “The Day” speaks of our judgment day
- Wood, Hay, Straw speaks to bad works
- Gold, Silver, Precious stones speaks to good works done in Christ
- Some our rewarded for good work (v. 14)
- Some our punished, but still receive salvation because their “work is burned up” (v. 15).
- Some will “be destroyed” (v. 17).
2. Mt 5: 25-26, Lk 12:57-59
- No penalty in Heaven
- No release in Hell
- Must be an intermediary state
3. Heb 12:14, Rev 21:27
- Nothing unholy or unclean can enter Heaven
- Purgatory is where God finishes His work of purification
4. Lk 12:47-48
- In Heaven, no beatings
- In Hell, no living with “Master”
5. 2 Mac12:43-45
- Jews believed prayers for the dead could move God to forgive sins after death.
6. 2 Tim 1:16-18
- Paul prays for dead friend