Catholic vs. Protestant Soteriology
Quote:As a Catholic, I agree.
[As a Lutheran, I know] that I am forgiven provided I daily repent of my sins. I know that if I die today (so long as I trust in Christ) He is faithful and merciful and I am forgiven. I know that I can walk away from the faith and in doing so put my soul in mortal peril.
Quote:Perhaps you did. Perhaps you only think you did. To commit a mortal sin, you must have "full consciousness of the gravity of the sin" and you must have "deliberately willed the sin."
[As a] Catholic I understood myself to be in a state of mortal peril daily since I had committed mortal sins in my heart all the time.
There are impediments to the will and to the intellect which can diminish the guilt of sin, such that the sin may not be mortal but venial. Consequently, I doubt a state of mortal sin is very common among children. I think perhaps you suffered from being overly scrupulous, thinking every thought or opinion was a mortal sin. One must understand that we have disordered desires because we are children of Adam. Unintentional thoughts or opinions that pop into our head are still objectively contrary to holiness, but unless you deliberately will the thought and were fully conscious of the gravity of the sin, that is, you absolutely knew it was a damnable thing and you freely willed it nonetheless, then it was not a mortal sin.
Yet, for argument's sake, let's say that every bad thought you had as a teenager was a mortal sin (which I find unlikely). Weren't you sorry for that thought or opinion as soon as you had it? Why were you sorry? If you were sorry because you knew it to be against God's will, and your sorrow was rooted in your love of God, then your perfect contrition is efficacious for the forgiveness of sin. There was no need to live in fear of eternal damnation, so long as your contrition was genuine and derived principally from your love of God.
Quote:Me too. But I also know that "faith" is opposed to disobedience. We cannot, as Martin Luther asserted, commit murder and adultery a thousand times a day without separating ourselves from our Lord. We cannot just have faith in our faith. We must have also what St. Paul calls "obedience of faith."
Right now I am confident that God both saved me and sustains me in the faith.
Whether or not sin is mortal is up to God. Only He knows what impediments to the will and intellect are present within us, even when we fail to know them ourselves. We leave the eternal state of our soul up to the mercy of God. Our role is simply to know Him, love Him, and serve Him.
Quote:I had totally different experience growing up Catholic. Perhaps your Catechesis was different than mine. I suggest you have an overly scrupulous view of Catholic moral theology.
I don't know that I could sleep at night as a catholic. My focus would be on judgment not mercy.
I offer you this quote from St. Athanasius to consider. Perhaps this aspect of Catholic Moral Theology was not emphasized to you when you were a kid. It ought to have been. ...
St. Athanasius (ca. AD 358):
We, however, apart from the Spirit, are strange and distant from God. Thus, our being in the Father is not of ourselves, but is in the Spirit who is in us and who abides in us, and whose presence in us we preserve by our confession of the faith.... Therefore, when someone falls from the Spirit through any wickedness—that grace indeed remains irrevocably with those who are willing to repent after such a fall. (Discourses Against the Arians, 3, 24-25, ca. AD 358)Moreover, it's difficult to live in fear if one keeps in mind the following passages from Scripture.
"Love covers all offenses" (Proverbs 10:12)
"Love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Pet 4:8)
Quote:To quote a well-known Protestant bible scholar, C.H. Spurgeon, "To disbelieve is to disobey." To assert otherwise leads to antinomianism.
If one is saved they will always be unless they reject Christ. Unbelief is the only sin that will damn some one ultimately.
For example, we disobey, and therefore, disbelieve when we commit adultery or murder. This is in contrast to Martin Luther's assertion: "Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.... as long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin.... No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day." (Martin Luther, Letter to Melanchthon, Aug 1, 1521)
Quote:True. But you can reject Christ by your words and deeds, in what you do and what you fail to do, such as adultery and murder, and other such grave sins.
Rejecting Christ is the only thing that damns some one according to Him.
"For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified." (Rom 2:13)
This is not works-based salvation, but the "obedience of faith," which St. Paul emphasized to us in the same epistle (Rom 1:5; 16:26).
Again from Protestant scholar C.H. Spurgeon:
If we transgress against him, we shall soon be in trouble; but a holy walk—the walk described by my text as faith working obedience—is heaven beneath the stars. God comes down to walk with men who obey. If they walk with him, he walks with them. The Lord can only have fellowship with his servants as they obey. Obedience is heaven in us, and it is the preface of our being in heaven. Obedient faith is the way to eternal life—nay, it is eternal life revealing itself.In Sacred Scripture, the opposite of "believe" is "disobey":
The word believe in biblical times carried with it the concept of obedience and reliance. Kittel says "pisteuo means 'to trust' (also 'to obey') . . ." Vines says, ". . . reliance upon, not mere credence . . ." This is confirmed further by John the Baptist's statement in John 3:36 "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not (apeitheo) the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (KJV) The word apeitheo is understood by all good translators and commentators to mean obedience. The opposite (antonym) of believe is disobey. The verse in the RSV says "He who believes ("is believing", present tense) in the Son. . . he who disobeys ("is disobeying" present tense) the Son . . . " The NASB translates the verse like this: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him". Kittel, a Protestant reference work, clearly defines apeitheo to mean "to be disobedient." The word belief has the element of obedience wrapped in its arms and the opposite of biblical belief is disobedience. One cannot consider themselves to be biblical if they teach salvation by mental assent (which amounts to cheap grace) without the subsequent and corollary present and ongoing obedience. (Steve Ray, "Does John 3:16 Teach Eternal Security Through Faith Alone?")"There is sin which is mortal...there is sin which is not mortal." (1 Jn 5:16-17). There are many more mortal sins than Luther would have us believe. There are many ways in which we can completely turn our backs upon our Lord in favor of disordered selfishness, whether we do so in word or deed or both.
Yet, I don't live in fear, and neither should any child of God. I know that even on those occasions when I put my selfish disordered desires first, God sends his angels to prompt me to holiness. Every time I commit a sin, God tells me. Each and every time He melts away that disordered selfish desire that croaches at the door. And every time He places within my heart a love for Him which burns with such strength that I'm astonished at how I could have ever desired anything other than complete obedience to the will of the Lord.
Jesus teaches every sinner to repent of their sinful ways and to "Go, and sin no more." Do you believe that sinlessness is possible? If not, why not? Jesus tells us to sin no more. Do you suppose He would tell us to do something that was entirely impossible for us to do, given the gifts He has given us? I believe we can "sin no more," by the grace of God.
Yet, given the above teaching of St. Athanasius, even if one should stumble, what should I be afraid of? Isn't the Lord my shepherd? Does he not leadeth me to green pastures and still waters? So long as in word and deed, Jesus Christ is my shepherd, then I need not fear evil.
Catholicism is not about being perfect or else you go to hell. It's about repenting every moment of every day if need be, but continuing to grow in your love of God.
Yet, what of Luther's soteriology? If one does not even admit that if one commits adultery and murder a thousand times a day that we can be separated from the Lord, then don't you suppose it is easier to commit these grave sins "confident" that it would not affect eternal life? Isn't that exactly what the serpent convinced Eve to believe?
Luther's "Sin boldly" soteriology seems based upon permissiveness so as to relieve fear. Fear of the Lord is something I never want to be free from. I prefer a soteriology that emphasizes forgiveness of sin, yet still teaches what the Lord himself taught, "Go, and sin no more."
Quote:You don't really believe this, do you? Or is this how you see Catholic Moral Theology? If so, why? Do you agree or disagree with St. Athanasius quote above? I'd say he's a pretty trustworthy source of Catholic teaching.
unless we can keep the Commandments perfectly our entire life we are doomed.
With respect to Luther, it seems he can be understood in many various ways. Even Lutherans disagree as to what Luther meant. It seems to me his writings often contradict themselves. His "faith alone" soteriology promoted antinomian views, even if that was not Luther's intent. I don't find him to really have had a coherent soteriology, as it seems to me to have flip-flopped so much. In the final analysis, his soteriology differed greatly from the early Church Fathers, which ought to give us doubt as to its orthodoxy.
Quote:Yes. But many Protestants have re-defined "true Christian" at variance with Scripture, St. Augustine's teaching, and the teaching of the first millennium of Christianity.
[Perseverance of the saints] simply means that God will sustain a true Christian to the end of their life in the faith.
According to St. Augustine, true Christians were those baptized into Christianity. This included EVERYONE that was baptized, to include infants. Yet, according to St. Augustine, not all those regenerated/justified in baptism, not all those with "true faith" would persevere in their faith and attain eternal life. Only the elect would. And by the way, according to St. Augustine, nobody could know they were among the elect in their lifetime. So, we have, according to ancient Christian teaching, an assembly of baptized believers, all of which were considered true Christians, regenerated, justified, some of which will fall away from the faith and fail to persevere to eternal life. Let's fast forward now to the novelties of the Reformation ...
The typical Protestant definition of Perseverance of the Saints is ...
From Easton's Bible Dictionary (Protestant):
Perseverance of the saints - their certain continuance in a state of grace. Once justified and regenerated, the believer can neither totally nor finally fall away from grace, but will certainly persevere therein and attain everlasting life.Note the words "Perseverance of the saints" are the same as used by St. Augustine, yet the meaning is totally changed. According to Easton's definition, ALL the justified and regenerated attain everlasting life. In other words, all Christians will attain eternal life.
What they have done is reject the efficacy of baptism as really conferring sanctifying grace such that baptism now is not the same as the washing of regeneration as it had been universally understood by the first millennium of Christianity. Now, the Protestant understanding of the Church is made totally invisible. We don't know who the "real" Christians are and who are not. In this Protestant view, the gift of perseverance is made equivalent to the gift of faith. This is in contrast to Scripture and Tradition.
For example, Jesus testifies that Peter had faith. Jesus also prays that Peter's faith may NOT FAIL. Why? If "real" Christian faith cannot fail, why would Jesus pray that the faith that Peter surely had would not fail? It seems to me that perseverance and faith are different gifts, according to Scripture, just as St. Augustine asserted.
Consequently, one with real Christian faith may not have been given the gift of perseverance, therefore, a REAL Christian's faith, one who is really regenerated/justified by baptismal grace may indeed fail to persevere to eternal life. This is the universal constant consent of the fathers of the early Church. Many forms of Protestantism have departed from this understanding of baptism, of justification, of regeneration, and of perseverance in favor of some new and novel re-definition.
I am more Augustinian that Lutheran.
Glad to hear it! Once you become even more Augustinian and less Lutheran, you'll be Catholic!!!
... [there are many] things which most justly keep me in [the Catholic Church]. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should
... Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church; but if there is only a promise without any fulfillment, no one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion.
... For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. (Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental, AD 397)