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Handout #2: The Roman Catholic View of Salvation

What's the Difference? The Roman Catholic View of Salvation 9/14/14

I. Review of last week's sermon on the gospel as seen by the Reformed perspective (listen to it or read it)
A. Justification is a legal concept, the language of the courtroom
B. The protestant reformers believed that justification is by Christ alone through faith alone.
1. Christ’s righteousness is counted for us, and our sin is counted against Christ — both on account of our union with Christ which comes through faith. (I.e. Christ saves. Faith is the means by which Christ’s salvation is received.)
2. The Baptist theologian A.H. Strong likened faith to the coupling between a locomotive engine (representing Jesus) and the rest of the cars (representing our justification/salvation). It is the engine which pulls the train and not the coupling. But without the coupling even the engine cannot pull the train.
II. Roman Catholic salvation
A. Free will: Christ’s coming enables us to cooperate with divine grace and to accept Christ.
1. RC believes in the need for divine grace AND human cooperation.
B. Baptismal regeneration/conversion involves the forgiveness of all past sins.
1. Infant baptism and the age of accountability (7 yrs)
2. Sacerdotalism: salvation is very tied to what the priesthood does through the sacraments (baptism, confirmation, penance, etc.)
C. But there remains concupiscence (a proclivity to sin).
D. Mortal (serious) and venial (trivial) sins
1. A person loses his salvation every time he commits a mortal sin.
E. Penance to regain your justification: confession/absolution/satisfaction (paying back for what you’ve done)
F. In the RC system justification is on the basis of the obedience and godliness of our souls, which only comes by cooperating with the grace of God.
1. Meriting salvation by works (incl. faith, perseverance, hope, joy, alms-giving, etc.), not works of the flesh but works done in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
G. RC'ism says that justification is on the basis of infused righteousness, not imputed righteousness.
1. To infuse righteousness is to actually make someone righteous.
2. To impute righteousness is to count someone as being righteous in a legal sense — even though they are quite unrighteous in their hearts.
3. Remember that RC has a different view of sin than the Prot. Reformers, milder, more shallow view.
H. RC and Prot. imputation: Two very different ideas of the treasury of merit
1. RC believes that there’s a treasury of merit filled with the merit of the saints which is dispensed by the Pope.
2. Prot. believes that there’s a treasury of merit filled with the merit of Christ which is dispensed by God. Prot. believes that no person can be godly enough to merit salvation, even with the Lord’s help. Even one sin is enough to disqualify him/her. The thought that someone might be said to have more godliness than is needed to be saved is unthinkable.
I. In contrast to Protestant theology, which says justification is an act, RC theology, claims justification is a process, because righteousness is being worked out in the child of God.
1. The more obedient and godly you become the more you are justified, and most believers must complete their course of justification after death in purgatory.
2. Prot. believes that your godliness and good works flow from your justification, not vice versa.
3. Sabbath analogy illustrates the Prot. view:
a. OT: last-day-of-the-week Sabbath rest: work 1st, then reward (corresponding to the covenant of works)
b. NT: first-day-of-the-week Sabbath rest: reward 1st, then work (corresponding to the covenant of grace)
J. What about James 2:14–26? What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
1. James point is that real faith is a working faith: the works validate the faith which justifies the sinner.
2. Justification is by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone. (I.e. true faith is always accompanied by works)
3. RC/EO: Faith + Works –> Justification
4. Prot: Faith –> Justification + Works
5. According to the Bible, justification produces works. According to Rome, works produces justification.