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“Bottom line, you Catholics teach that we must work our way to heaven and earn eternal life — a notion the apostle Paul condemns again and again. Don’t you know that salvation is by the grace of God?”
This is an all-too-common caricature of Catholic teaching. What Catholicism teaches is that we are saved by the grace of God which flows to us from the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is the free gift of God. It’s just that we do not believe God saves us apart from our freedom, by which we are called to repent of sin, trust in Christ, take up our cross and follow him in the obedience of faith. As the Catechism says, “God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God created man in his image by conferring on him…the power to know him and love him.”
And why isn’t this “works salvation”? Because, as the saints have always understood, the ability to persevere in faith — and obedience — is itself the result of God’s grace working in us. As God said through the prophet Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezek 36:26,27).
A few Good Articles
A few Good Talks
by Stephen Ray
by Ken Hensley
In this series of four talks, former Protestant pastor and teacher Ken Hensley explains the process by which he came to reject the Protestant doctrine of sola fide (justification by faith alone) and embrace the Catholic view. Beginning with Martin Luther, Ken explains how the Protestant view came about and shows that it’s not the teaching of Scripture, nor had it ever been conceived before the Reformation in the 16th century.
by Brant Pitre
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Since Jesus was first asked this question, perhaps no issue has had greater impact on the history of the Church. For the last five centuries, the debate over how a person is saved has sharply divided Catholics and Protestants. It is a question that impacts every single one of our lives, both now and in eternity. In this unique series, Dr. Pitre takes up the issue that stands at the very heart of the Christian Gospel: the question of salvation.
A few Good Books
by Jimmy Akin
The drama of salvation involves every man, woman, and child on earth. To rescue us, God sent his son—Jesus Christ—to give his life on the cross. This supreme act of sacrifice made salvation possible for all mankind. Yet now, 2,000 years later, few people understand what Jesus did or how it affects us. In this book, Catholic Answers Senior Apologist Jimmy Akin uses his expertise in Scripture and Church History to offer a thorough treatment of Christian doctrine of salvation.
by Louis Bouyer
Bouyer is a former Lutheran who with this book has made an immensely important contribution to true interfaith discussion. In The Spirit and Forms of Protesantism, the author gives to us a generous and illuminating introduction to the genuine strengths of the Protestant movement. But then he also gives us a frank, charitable examination of Protestantism’s weaknesses. This is a wonderfully and profound work.
by Robert Sungenis
This is without doubt one of the most comprehensive works you will find comparing and contrasting the Catholic and Protestant views of salvation and making the biblical and historical case for the former. This makes it a great resource for those who want to understand the deep disagreement that exists on the issue of how the salvation we have in Christ comes to us.