Evangelicals believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith that Christ death and resurrection alone is the basis of their Salvation. Is this comparable to the Roman Catholic concept of salvation?
The Catechism is quite clear. Faith is absolutely necessary.
42 Cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:36, 6:40 et al.
I am going to explain the Catholic doctrine in terms that a Protestant can understand. I would not usually answer a question best directed to Catholics (as I am a Protestant) but I find there is an extreme different understanding of the terms used. It is necessary therefore to provide translations for the common words that each uses so that the almost opposite meanings can be understood and turned back into ones own frames of reference.
Salvation to a Catholic is a process of sanctification not an instantaneous 'justification by faith', therefore although faith is required and important it does not carry the same meaning. Faith to a Catholic is therefore restricted to something within the state of grace, which makes a believers duty grow as they understand more accurately the truth in Christ. Faith is similar to protestant faith in this sense but does not have this prime direction towards a justification apart from works.
Entrance into a state of salvation While evangelicals generally believe a person is born again, or made alive, by faith in Christ, Catholics understand a person to enter into a similar state of salvation by Baptism into the Roman Catholic church
Justification Protestants actually put this first and they mean that a sinner is declared fully righteous before God as though they had obeyed all of God's laws perfectly due to the righteousness of Christ being charged, or imputed to them. This is an event, the result being entrance into the church, or new birth and sanctification.
Catholics do not believe in justification in this sense. To them justification is a lifelong process but when one is first justified, it is just the first moment of sanctification. In other words in Protestant terms there is no justification, only sanctification and if you finally die in a justified state, your are just and will enter heaven. However, as mentioned, the word justification can be used as the first moment of sanctification, whereby through external baptism into the church the sinful nature is weakened to such a degree that holiness is first implanted into the soul. It is the point where original sin is removed however there is no perfection granted to a sinner prior to actual holiness, rather the actual holiness infused into the soul is the thing that justifies you, i.e your sanctification or holiness and works. In other words, in Protestant terms you are saved by your own holiness, or works of the law, but these come from something Catholics also call grace. Therefore under a Catholic view you still say in a different sense that you are 'only saved by grace' and 'faith'. Protestants will understand that Catholic 'grace' is a confusing terms for what Protestants call works.
Continued Sanctification Catholics believe that you have minor and major sins, they are called venial and mortal. Basically venial sin is just sin for most evangelicals in its consequence.. In other words venial sins do not destroy your sate of grace. However they still stain the soul and you might need some purgatory if you have not repented and confessed those sins to a priest.
Mortal sins actually take you out of the state of grace, or sanctification. If you die under the guilt of an unconfessed mortal sin, you go to hell. Most evangelicals do not have a concept that equals mortal sin, however arminian theologians believe you can loose your faith, which in that sense is the only mortal sin (for those who believe this is a possibility). Many, if not most, evangelicals think a believer does not have the power to fully loose their faith or commit curtains sins like hating the church, becoming a mass murderer, teaching false doctrines, etc.
Summary Most evangelicals believe they are justified prior to sanctification. While still enemies of God and without any holiness they are declared holy. Then afterwards they are protected by that justification, through sanctification, all the way to glory. It is all free grace and not derived from works, though works will automatically accompany this great freedom. Catholics, on the other hand, feel there is no such thing as justification apart from your continued works. This is all silly nonsense talk. Rather, sanctification is all that matters and it starts with your baptism into the Roman Catholic church body and then is maintained by your effort, works and confession. This sanctification justifying you is done 'in cooperation' with something they also call grace. Of course by grace they mean something quite different from a Protestant.
I know this is all complicated but I hope I have brought some light to your very good question. The two views all hinge on the difference of justification in a 'moment' versus a long period of obedience.
Note: It might be worth noting to understand the full practical outcome that Catholic teaching does not consider anyone who willingly and knowingly rejects the authority of the Pope to be in a state of grace, as this is obviously a so called mortal sin. Therefore, the faith that Protestants have and which justifies them is viewed as false and basically a lie invented by heretics under Catholic dogma.
All references are taken from a large classical Roman Catholic source, originally written to train Jesuit teachers in three volumes entitled 'OUTLINES OF DOGMATIC THEOLOGY BY SYLVESTER JOSEPH HUNTER, OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS'.
In general once you are Baptised in the Catholic church you are saved:
It should be noted to accomodate the person who believes in Christ and has not yet been baptised 'within the Catholic church' but genuinly wants to, is still protected but of course this time must be very short and rare exceptions, if it is a genuine desire.
Catholics treat justification as the sanctification which generall coincinced with Baptism (or the sincere desire to be baptised in teh Catholic church as a result of believing in the gospel).
Catholics imagine sanctification, or salvation to be a result of God 'infusing goodness into us' by faith. This is decpetively similiar to the Proetsant view of sanctification however we must remember that Justification is just the first part of that infusion and that if this state is lost through mortal sin, so is the justification.
Meritorious Good Works
Ultimately by having a decpetively subtle way of joining works of free will with grace, a concept of 'merits' results effectively meaning that one can 'derserve more grace from initail grace' which is effectively destroying the meaning of the word grace under the protetsant definiton. (However some forms of Arminina thinking are not that much different to this). Good works in this sense are at leat excluded from the initial moment of sanctification, like Protetsants, it is the maintetance of being in the state of grace, after Baptism and faith in the Catholic doctrine of the gospel, where meritorious good works is intended.
The key: Initial Sanctification or Inward Rewnewal
To ties up thee various toughts they key difference between Catholc and Protestant views is back on the topic of Justification. Catholic dogma asserts the the justification is caused by actual grace making the soul actually holy and just, not a justification for someone who is still dead in sins.
Note: The author does not attempt to explain that Calvinism does not exlude renewal of the inner man, but only exludes it from our justifcation. The author is right is understanding that justification comes prior to that renewal in theological order, as it must occur while the soul is still dead in sin. Then a moment after, the renewal occurs as a result of the justification under the Protestant doctrine.
According to What Catholics Really Believe: 52 Answers to Common Misconception About the Catholic Faith by Karl Keating (Ignatius Press):
Another part of the book:
I am not a Catholic, and I found this book highly informative.
protected by Mike May 10 at 13:31
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