Catholic Justification

Catholic Justification

Mark Windsor has asked me to let you all know about his latest post at “Rafting the Tiber” on Catholic justification. Mark discusses the theological concept of justification, i.e. how we receive salvation, in light of how some Protestants see it and what they say the Church believes.

This is going to be a tremendous oversimplification, but here’s the gist of it: The Protestant idea of justification revolves around Sola Fide – Latin for “by faith alone”. They believe that by their faith - and their faith alone - they are granted access to heaven. We Catholics are condemned (as often as not, it comes in language such as this…or far stronger) because we believe that good works add to your chances of getting into heaven. It is one of the most divisive issues that stand between Catholics and Protestants, one in which misunderstandings exist on both sides.

So the question arises, how do we get into heaven?

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  • There really isn’t a separation between “faith” and “works”, because (for people who have reached the age of reason) faith itself is (among other things) a work; an act of the will.

    If I understand things aright, we don’t believe in “faith alone” (sola fide), but we do believe in “grace alone” (sola gratia).

  • I suggest the current (and ongoing, if you look in the archives under the subject of justification)  discussion of this issue at Pontifications. The issue is discussed at great length with great depth and the comments are from Catholic, Protestants, and Orthodox.

    In this issue “tremendous oversimplifications” really don’t work. They just aren’t true.

    Susan Peterson