Salvation in Catholic and Baptist Theology

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by JarJo, Jan 12, 2012.

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  1. JarJo

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    Hi,

    I'm a Catholic. I hope Catholic is considered a 'christian denomination' for purposes of this board. I wanted to come here and talk because I have a lot of respect for the Christian example I've seen in the baptists I've met.

    I'm having trouble understanding what is so different between Catholic and Baptist beliefs about salvation regarding faith and works. Here's what I believe, isn't this basically the same as what Baptists believe?

    1. Jesus died for my sins. My sins are forgiven, that is, I am justified because I believe in Jesus and repented and asked Him to forgive me.
    2. God plans for us to be sanctified. I can't accomplish this sanctification on my own. My only hope is to ask God to compete the work of sanctification in me.
    3. I believe God will complete the work of sanctification in me because I believe my name is written in the book of life and I am going to be in heaven one day. In other words I believe I will be given the gift of final perseverance. I have faith and hope in this.
    4. I was regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit and I am a child of God.

    Any help to understand what I'm missing would be appreciated!
     
  2. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Have you gone into the archives & read any prior corrispondence? I have commented on this (was a RC for 32 yrs) as well as others like DHC (both moderator & prior Catholic also)

    Regards
     
  3. JarJo

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    Well, I guess I didn't search hard enough through the old posts. I looked through the recent threads and searched for 'catholic & salvation' in titles but I didn't see anything that looked obviously similar. Sorry if I missed something.

    I guess I thought my question was a bit unique, because my way of looking at things isn't typical of Catholics. It's the perspective, I think, of a truly born-again Jesus-centered faith, but within the boundaries of Catholicism. I think anyway.
     
  4. drfuss

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    Maybe I can help with the question of what is different between Baptist and Roman Catholic church beliefs concerning salvation of the believer.

    Baptists believe that becoming a Christian depends only on accepting Christ as your Savior and Lord. This includes recognizing your need for salvation, repenting of your sins, accepting Christ's substitution in paying for your sins, and committing your life to accepting Christ as your Savior and Lord.

    Becoming a Christian is a free gift and has nothing to do with works or the church you attend. No church can save you. If you become a True Christian, some good works will follow, but these works have nothing to do with your salvation status. Baptists believe that salvation depends on belief only, has nothing to do with good works, or the church you attend.

    As I understand it, the Catholic Church believes that some works, including perservence on your part, also contributes to your salvation. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    In your post, it appears that items #1 and#4 are in agreement with Baptist beliefs. Baptists believe that items #2 and #3 have nothing to do with your salvation; but should be a part of your desire and your Christian life in serving the Lord.

    I suspect there is more to the differences that what I have indicated, but it is a start.

    Hope this helps and the discussion on here remains positive.
     
  5. JarJo

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    Hi DrFuss,

    Okay, I think that's the same as what I believe so far...

    I don't know that any specific works are definitely required to be saved. I understand that you become saved when you do the things you listed in the previous paragraph. Even baptism, while being a rule prescribed by Christ, isn't strictly necessary, since if someone dies before being baptized but after doing the things you list above, they are saved.

    Does baptism count as a work? If it does, then I guess what a catholic would say is that if you know that baptism is required by Christ, and you refuse to be baptized, then you have most likely not accepted Christ as your lord, or you have turned back away from God and walked away.

    Similarly, a good work isn't required, but a person who intentionally rejects the graces God gives us to do good works, if done in a serious, complete way, may actually be turning away from God. So it isn't a specific work that is necessary, but we do have to actually remain a Christian, and not, for example, become apostate and worship another god.

    Is that different from what Baptists believe?

    We think that #2 and #3 have to be finished before we can actually live with God in heaven. But this change in you is done by God, not through your efforts. You are saved once you do the things you listed above. God will complete that work in you. I would imagine you believe the same thing, that the people in heaven have reached a point where they no longer sin?

    Yes it was helpful, thank you.
     
  6. drfuss

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    "Similarly, a good work isn't required, but a person who intentionally rejects the graces God gives us to do good works, if done in a serious, complete way, may actually be turning away from God. So it isn't a specific work that is necessary, but we do have to actually remain a Christian, and not, for example, become apostate and worship another god."

    Your comments above bring up another difference. Most Baptist believe in the doctrine of eternal secuirty, which says a True Christian will not stop trusting Christ (or turn away from God); if a professing Chrsitain stops trusting Christ, he was not a real Christian in the first place. The Calvinists Baptist also believe this, but may express it in different termonology.

    On the other hand, the FreeWill Baptists (very few on BB) basically agree with your above comments.

    Most Christian denominations, other than most Baptists and Prebyterians, agree with your above comments on this issue.
     
  7. JarJo

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    Wow, I'm really excited to learn that there's a branch of Baptists that believe pretty much the same thing as me about salvation! I had a feeling there was some overlap somewhere between what some catholics and what some baptists believe at least about this one topic.

    To be fair, I have to say that the Catholic faith isn't defined down to every last point, it's more like a circle that you can stand within at any point and still be catholic. I've certainly heard Catholics express their beliefs about salvation in a very different way than I did here, and yet their opinion is also an accepted Catholic opinion.

    For example, a lot of Catholics will say "salvation is by faith and works". But the Council of Trent didn't say that, it specifically just said that its an error to say that you can be saved just by believing, but without even being disposed to cooperate in any way with the Holy Spirit in your sanctification. Some people might take "cooperation" to mean that you have to do a bunch of good deeds. I take cooperation to mean that I just have to make a decision to allow God to change me. Both opinions would be catholic, but apparently only one of them would overlap with some baptists, if I understand correctly.
     
    #7 JarJo, Jan 12, 2012
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  8. Ruiz

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    Do you embrace Vatican II or are you more in alignment with Trent?

    I was a catholic but later embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My family even helped found a Catholic Church.

    However, I do believe that the doctrines of the Catholic Church is not Christian, and I believe Protestants would be incompatible with the doctrines of the Catholic Church. There are five reasons I hold to my viewpoint.

    1. I believe the Bible created the church; Catholicism believes the church created the Bible. As a result, Catholics believe the church is the ultimate authority of life, doctrine, and practice. I believe the Bible is the final authority of life, doctrine, and practice.

    2. I believe that there is only one mediator between God and man, that is the man Jesus Christ. No other person or "saint" can be that mediator or can infuse any salvation or grace upon me, all grace is bestowed by the work and merit of Jesus Christ and through the mystery of the God-head. The Catholic church believes certain saints can bestow grace and there are co-redeemers. To a Protestant, it is only in the person of Jesus, to a Catholic it is Jesus plus others.

    3. I believe faith alone brings about salvation, no amount of work or money can release me from purgatory, can spring a soul into a blessed state. The Pope cannot absolve people of sin. Only faith in Jesus Christ can accomplish this redemption and I do not need to suffer for my sins or work to inherit any merit. I need Jesus.

    4. I believe that we are saved by Grace alone, not because we keep the various sacraments, they have no merit in my salvation. I am saved because Jesus had grace upon me, not because I warranted any of that salvation.

    5. I believe that we exist for the glory of God alone, not for the glory of saints or Mary, or any other person in the past, present, or future. Uplifting any person, pope, or saint to have any part of what should belong to Christ, is idolatry.

    For these reasons, I believe that the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church are not the same. Trent was quite honest about this and while I disagree with the doctrines in Trent, I agree that this is a cataclysmic division.
     
  9. JarJo

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    Hi Ruiz

    Well, a Catholic has to accept both of them, but I know what you mean. I've definitely seen a works-based religion among a lot of Catholics that makes me wonder if they're really saved or really know the Gospel. I think the gospel is all about a free gift of salvation, and about the miracle of seeing God change you into a new person.

    Well I can see why some people would leave the Church after hearing Christ's call in the gospels. There does seem to be a big gap there. You list a lot of other issues that I know are real differences but I would like to just comment on the two that deal with salvation, because I really think there's a small spot where the two can overlap:

    I agree it is our faith that saves us. We believe in Jesus Christ and ask for forgiveness and that's how we get saved. But I thought Baptists also believe in sanctification, I saw it in the baptist confession of faith. Isn't sanctification a long slow and maybe painful process where God changes you and makes you more holy?

    Jesus forgives sins. It's true we have a rule that requires, if possible, a specific ritual with the priest when you've repented of some major sin. While we think that ritual was prescribed by Christ, it certainly isn't meant to keep people away from forgiveness. If you aren't catholic, or even if you are catholic and haven't been to confession yet, your true repentance is enough, and you've probably been forgiven before you even get to the sacrament of confession. The ritual is there more to give people guidance and help them understand for sure that they've been forgiven.

    Well, we believe you can get grace through a sacrament. Meaning that these sacraments are occasions to receive these graces that help you grow more holy. But as all Christians know, God will help you grow more holy all throughout your life, not just in a specific circumstance.

    I agree with you, the theology about sacraments etc is different between baptists and Catholics. . I just think there's some overlap on the question of whether works are required to be saved. I think its enough to just believe, which includes making a decision to accept Jesus as Lord, which means deciding to cooperate if God wants to change you into a person who does more good works.
     
    #9 JarJo, Jan 12, 2012
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  10. drfuss

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    I responded only to what is in your opening post. Ruiz has a much better handle on all the differences between the Catholic Church and Baptists beliefs since he has personal experience in the Catholic church.

    I will be following this thread.
     
  11. Doubting Thomas

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    Awesome! A Roman Catholic thread started by an actual Roman Catholic rather than by an RCC-basher! This might be promising. :thumbs:
     
  12. Thinkingstuff

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    Do you mind if I clear some things up Ruiz?

    Catholics believe that Jesus Christ established the Catholic Church though it is debated whether it was on Pentecost or when Jesus breathed on the Apostles in John 20:22
    Thus the Apostles gave us Jesus Teachings Orally and Writen. Therefore Catholics do not see the Bible as being subservant to the Magisterium. They see the Church teaching and the Biblical teachings to be of equal authority supporting the full teaching of Jesus the Apostles. The Catholic Church holds to the bible as being inspired by the Holy Spirit. And the Catholic Church views iteself as the body of Christ. This is what the Catholic Church Teaches.

    The Catholic Church teaches that there is one true mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ. However, in the same sense one might seek assistance or prayers from his protestant bretheren; Catholics believe that all people who are members of the Body of Christ in this life and the next can perform this task. Catholics also believe that in the same way an Evangelist participates, by obeying God, in preaching that convinces one to be "saved"; other members of the body of Christ also participates in the conversion and sanctifications of its other members. Not that the preacher gets the credit. God does. So is the case with the temporal and non temporal members of the Body of Christ.

    Purgatory is about sanctification. No one goes to purgatory who will end up in hell. Purgatory is not a second chance. It is the purgation or the sanctification of those on their way to heaven. Salvation is a gift of God as is the faith given. Thus Catholics consider themselves to be saved by grace by faith in Jesus Christ evidence by our obedience to his call. For Catholics Faith is not an intellectual assent but a daily motivation subjecting ourselves to the will of God. Faith does as it thinks. Thus we too are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. But if your not looking like Jesus Christ in your lifestyle then don't say you have faith in him. What the base line for the Catholic is this. Salvation is assured to those who die in a state of Sanctified Grace. In other words: we haven't left Jesus in our faith and actions.

    Curious I thought you said you were saved by faith alone?. Catholics Believe Grace comes from God at every stage of our life and that grace empowers us to sanctify our lives and live rightly until the end. And we receive that grace in many ways but particularily by the methods Jesus' instituted.

    Amen and Amen So does the Catholic Church.
    However, in your eschatology do you not believe that when you recieve your rewards that you will recieve crowns of Glory which to cast at Jesus feet? Do not the Patriarchs hold a special place in the Kingdom and the Apostles that things are named after them in the New Jerusalem. This is no different. And the Pope's role is the servant whom unifies the Church and ensures the Apostolic Deposit of Faith is not tampered with. Not as a Fuedal Lord as many imagine.

    Catholics adhere to both Trent and the Vatican II councils
     
  13. JarJo

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    Hi,
    I hope you don't mind if I comment on a couple of things you said? You seem to have a really good grasp of theology, but I think a couple of things should be pointed out to avoid making things appear more different than they are:

    This is true but we also have to explain that 'catholic' means universal, and that there is only one church, the body of Christ, and that every real Christian automatically becomes part of that one church. Of course we Catholics believe this church is led by bishops and the pope, but clearly not all the members (protestants for example) agree with that. In other words, we talk about the 'catholic church' being founded by Christ it is a bit different than a specific church organization.

    I think this is going too far. Few if any people end up really looking like Christ. Our sanctification starts at the point where we make an act of faith and we're regenerated into a child of God. We are still covered by Christ's redeeming sacrifice even if we have ugliness and sins in our lives, so long as we haven't completely turned away from Him (i.e. lost sanctifying grace in catholic theology).

    I liked your responses to the other points, especially the one about purgatory.
     
    #13 JarJo, Jan 12, 2012
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  14. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Maybe you will think me rude, but I am not trying to be....but I must ask this question of you ......Why are you a Roman Catholic?
     
  15. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Also here is your "Statement of Salvation"
    Baptism & Sacraments


    Thats radically different from what a Baptist would testify to. Just so you know.
     
  16. Amy.G

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    Where do Catholics get this idea of Purgatory?
     
  17. Ruiz

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    Sanctification:

    We believe in Sanctification; however, we make a stronger distinction between sanctification and justification as you. Let me compare two historic documents. The Council of Trent says:

    This Canon is rather clear, salvation is by more than faith alone and the teaching of the Protestant Church is an anathema. Sanctification is a part of what justifies us according to Trent. Protestants have traditionally stated the oppposite as shown in this quote from the London Baptist Confession 1689:

    I think you can see the clear distinction between the two doctrines. Catholics call our doctrine an "anathema", and I would say that Baptists would call the Catholic doctrine an anathema.

    What is the role of sanctification? Sanctification by no means saves or contributes to any merit as noted in the above quote. We believe that only through Christ's active and passive obedience were we justified, and that was completely and entirely. Again, this is exemplified in this statement below from the London Baptist Confession:

    Since sanctification is a result of the new spirit created in them, even sanctification is by grace through faith and will result for all Christians. This sanctification is strengthened by the same graces, faith and grace, that saved us. The Council of Trent seems to confuse sanctification and justification, making sanctification a part of justification and intrinsically linked to justification. Thus, without sanctification, we must pay our own penalty. The reformers said it was impossible for us to pay our own penalty in pergatory or here on earth. Rather, we will be saved because of Grace alone, our works will not contribute anything.

    Cannon 14 explains the Trent view of justification and sanctification better:

    In other words, a Catholic will not view justification as complete, but a part of the sanctification process. Protestants believe justification is full and complete thereby making sanctification possible. Trent, of course, calls my view an anathema. I call their view an anathema. I am justified not because of my sanctification, but I am sanctified because of my justification.

    We believe that justification was complete, there is no need of us to suffer in purgatory or to reach a sanctification to be justified. We also believe justification will result in sanctification because it is by Grace through Faith alone.

    The doctrine of the Bible is an important issue and one that I believe Trent addresses in contrast to the Reformation. Let me cite Trent below before making my argument (fourth session).

    The Scriptures is only rightly interpreted, according to Trent, if it agrees with the established church. If the church disagrees, the issue is not based upon the true statements of the text, but upon the interpretation of the Church. Protestants believe differently as noted in the London Baptist Confession 1689.

    Protestants view the Scriptures as informing the church, but the church is still under her authority and subject to the Scriptures as the final authority. The Catholic Church believes the Church is the proper interpreter and arbiter of the Scriptures, thus the final appeal is to the church itself. Trent even goes further in the fourth session:

    In a direct attack against Protestants, they call us an anathema. The key word they use is "traditions", by which they believe the traditions of the church must be true.

    Purgatory is a simple issue, if Justification is complete and total, as Protestants say, then there is no need for purgatory. If justification is by faith alone through grace alone, no amount of purgatory can make us ready for heaven. Protestants say we are saved by grace alone. The difference is that you think you can add to the work of Christ, you can add to his salvation. You believe we must do things with God's helping grace to be justified. We contend that we cannot add anything, it is all the work of Christ. My work in sanctification cannot add or take away from my justification.

    Trent called my view an anathema. I would agree that either one is an anathema, but both cannot be true.

    I believe I am saved by Grace Alone through Faith Alone, faith is a gift from God and is a grace. However, according to Trent it is said:

    In our view, grace is what gives us faith. Faith is in no way a work no more than it was a work for Adam to turn from mud to a living being. You can say that grace will always result in faith and both are needed for salvation. However, it is not a work of man... it is a work of God.

    Trent states that justification is not enough to blot out the debt of eternal punishment. There is much more needed! We disagree, the Grace of God at salvation is enough to blot out the debt of eternal punishment, nothing else is needed.
     
  18. Ruiz

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    I cited several quotes from Trent dealing with justification, I simply refer you to those quotes.

    I would like for you to address the specific references to the Council of Trent. If they must believe in both Vatican II and Trent, then Trent is authoritative. I tried to be specific quoting from primary sources in order to clearly represent both sides. Part of the modern problem is that many Evangelicals assume what the Catholic Church teaches. I think when you go to Trent, designed to combat the reformation, we clearly see the issues in dispute.
     
  19. JarJo

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    As a child I was raised Catholic but I noticed differences between the bible readings and our practices. I'm sure that's why most non-Catholics aren't catholic - a simple plain reading of the bible without regard for history would not likely ever lead someone to re-create the Catholic church from scratch. I was very impressed by the lives of some baptists that I knew growing up.

    I decided as a teen to find another denomination. I studied the bible for years and decided that I wanted to learn exactly when the Catholic church introduced these false practices - calling priests 'father', devotion to saints, saying the rosary, etc. I studied the history of Christianity to find when the church left the real Christians behind and changed things. But I was frustrated that no matter how far back I went in history, the Christian practice seemed to be Catholic. I eventually concluded that the christian church was always pretty much catholic, right back to the apostles.

    In my early 20's when I was undecided what to do about the denomination question, I decided I wanted to become a Christian, and I repented of serious problems in my life and asked Jesus to be my Lord and to save me. I decided to live my life for Christ. I was amazed to notice the Holy Spirit changing things in my life that I previously had no idea needed changes. I started to experience the assistance of the Holy Spirit in prayer.

    Eventually while studying the history of Christianity I started to realize how much wisdom so many catholic saints had in interpreting the bible. It started to make sense. The catechism seemed to tie it all together in a way that made sense. Later I developed a strong appreciation for the link throughout history that the catholic church provides. It's quite something to have a history that spans the entire story of Christianity from day one to today. A history full of Christian heroes but also scandalous moments that we can learn from as well.

    I decided that all of the objections to Catholicism based on the bible could be explained, and that these practices mostly originated with the apostles. I decided that I could live a Christian faith that didn't overly emphasize devotion to Mary, and that emphasized Jesus and salvation as a free gift from Jesus, within the catholic church. I think Christ wanted us to all be in one Church, and I couldn't see any objection serious enough to justify splitting Christianity up into different groups. Sure, some people get carried away with Marian devotion, or with doing good works, but those things aren't required to be Catholic.
     
  20. JarJo

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    Hi Amy,

    Purgatory is basically a theological extrapolation. It goes like this:

    People in heaven don't sin.
    We (Christians) are going to be in heaven some day.
    Most Christians have some failings or faults.
    Therefore, something has change us from what we are now
    We see this process going on in our lives, and we call it sanctification.
    Some of us become really sanctified before we die, others less so.
    We know from experience that sanctification is often painful (e.g. learning to be more patient, or less proud).
    Therefore, theologians reason, there must be some process after death that finishes this work off before we actually go into heaven to be with God.
    We gave it the name "purgatory"
     
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