Absolutely no absolute assurance

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De_Maria

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Hi,

As Catholics we frequently and correctly have to dispute the Protestant claim that we are “once saved always saved.” That is not the problem.

Unfortunately, due to our zeal, we frequently commit the opposite error. We claim that there is absolutely no absolute assurance of Salvation. That is a problem and seems to be a widely held belief. I have read this even in popular catechisms. However, I can find no foundation for this in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

And the Bible has examples of :

The Good Thief,
%between%
Luke 23:43
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Coming from Jesus, that would seem to be as absolute as it gets.

Elijah on his way to be picked up by the whirlwind spoke as one who was absolutely sure.
2 Kings 2
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
Paul , in most of his letters seemed not to be sure, but at the end of his life he seemed to be absolutely sure of receiving a crown ( of salvation).

.
2 Timothy 4
7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
If we look to Catholic History, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Theresa of Avila, and St. Faustina seemed to receive absolute assurance. And so did the the children of Fatima.

Any thoughts?

Sincerely,

De Maria
 
I agree that Catholics sometimes seem to go overboard in taking the opposite view of “no absolute assurance.” It makes it sound as though we go about in fear that we might lose our salvation at any time. This is not the case. We believe that in Baptism we first receive the grace of the Lord. The sanctifying grace that we receive in this and all the sacraments is the Lord dwelling within us, and it is an abiding presence.

The Lord never destroys our free will, so we can resist him, or even order him out, through serious sin. But the grace of the sacraments and the frequent reception of the Lord in the Eucharist does give us a great deal more than fear and trembling. It gives us a fervent hope of being united with Him in this life and in heaven, along with the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. By incorporating ourselves into Christ through His church and using the means of Grace he provided, we have the best assurance of all.

JimG
 
Absolute assurance? Perhaps.

But it may be more accurate to say that God’s assurance to us is absolutely ours to lose should we stray too far from the path and not return to it prior to our death.
 
Jimmy Akin has a great section on this in his book, “The Salvation Controversy”, where he is in agreement with your statements. Catholics can have assurance of salvation, just not infallible assurance (which is what Trent condemns, except by special revelation).

I always find it strange when Protestants speak of absolute assurance of salvation. Not only is it absolutely contrary to the “plain teachings of scripture” (another phraseology I find strange, coming from people who cannot for the life of them agree to what scripture means), but lack of absolute assurance is merely being pushed one level back.

For example: a Protestant can never fall away from the faith. Thus, a Protestant who falls away was never really a true Protestant. So, a Protestant is fully assured of his salvation. But he is not assured of being a Protestant. :confused:

On the contrary, Catholics can have as much assurance as is available because we can be sure we are Catholic. How? Participation in the sacraments. I am baptized. I am confirmed. I regularly participate in Christ’s sacrifice. I go to confession. These things are all tangible and objective. I know that I am Catholic, and that if I persevere, I will definitely be saved.
 
We can have no better than MORAL assurance, a firm conviction that we, because we are in the state of grace and keep in it, shall be saved in the end.

But, even at the end, we could commit some mortal sin (admittedly unlikely if we have been persevering in Grace) that would damn us.

Most fundamentalists and Baptists (not all, though) believe that they can have absolute assurance of salvation. They are in error, Scripture tells us otherwise.
 
Maybe we should start with some basics. This is from the Baltimore Catechism, 1962 Version:
  1. What is hope?
    Hope is the virtue by which we firmly trust that God will give
    us eternal happiness and the means to obtain it.
  2. What are the sins against hope?
    The sins against hope are presumption and despair.
Presumption: the belief that one can be saved without God’s help, or that God’s help alone can save without any effort by the individual.

Despair: Deliberate lack of trust in God.
 
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John_Henry:
…For example: a Protestant can never fall away from the faith. Thus, a Protestant who falls away was never really a true Protestant. So, a Protestant is fully assured of his salvation. But he is not assured of being a Protestant. :confused:
Gods peace be with you Theophilus,

Excellent! Very good point! I have never seen it put as well as you just put it. Assured of assurance but not assured of being protestant. What a slick way to support a lost cause. Your ‘Reuputation’ in this forum just went up in my book.

A prisoner of Christ

What do you use chick tracts for?
 
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John_Henry:
For example: a Protestant can never fall away from the faith. Thus, a Protestant who falls away was never really a true Protestant. So, a Protestant is fully assured of his salvation. But he is not assured of being a Protestant.
Just one caveat - That is not a Protestant belief, but more accurately a Fundamentalist and Baptist belief (though even some of them reject it).

The argument you presented is one used by those confronted by the obvious fact that a person has fallen away: “he was never saved in the first place.” They fail to consider that if one was never saved in the first place, how do you have any assurance that anyone’s salvation really took hold? You can’t, which shows that there can’t be any absolute assurance even by their standards.
 
I have actually never met a well versed (literally) OSAS Protestant that did not hold to some exception for those that “fall away”. The exception of course being that those people would not have been Christians in the first place. I am sure if you asked those who fell away if they were saved beforehand I am sure they would have said yes.

Now,
if they were not assured salvation because they obviously fell away and
if they truly believed they were assured salvation
then how are you sure you aren’t like them?

To me, this is really more just jumbling of words over a similar meaning. To me, the OSAS position is a more complicated way to say what Catholics say on the matter. Neither denies salvation by grace and neither denies that some can fall away (at least the vast majority of OSAS Protestants). Whether or not we call that person Christian is the difference.

That said, the difference is not so minor. One is correct and one is wrong. The real problem with OSAS is that taken to a twisted logical end, it can be very dangerous. If one focuses too hard on an English literal interpretation of John 3:16 long enough (without considering the meaning of perseverence), one gets the idea that they can merely intellectually assent to the idea that Jesus is Lord and anything else they do is fine … I am sure some of us have met folks like this. They believe this out of ignorance, but they DO believe it.

The suggestion on the Salvation Controversy is an excellent one. Every Catholic and Protestant should have a copy of it.
 
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Southernrich:
Just one caveat - That is not a Protestant belief, but more accurately a Fundamentalist and Baptist belief (though even some of them reject it).
I will only say that my Presbyterian Calvinist buddy tried to pull it on me a few weeks ago. Except substitute the word “elect” for the word “Protestant”.

But I will admit that it is not accurate to characterize the whole sub-population as “Protestant”. There truly is no accounting for the rich and teeming diversity in that neck of the woods.
 
De Maria:
Hi,

As Catholics we frequently and correctly have to dispute the Protestant claim that we are “once saved always saved.” That is not the problem.

Unfortunately, due to our zeal, we frequently commit the opposite error. We claim that there is absolutely no absolute assurance of Salvation. That is a problem and seems to be a widely held belief. I have read this even in popular catechisms. However, I can find no foundation for this in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

And the Bible has examples of :

The Good Thief,
%between%
Coming from Jesus, that would seem to be as absolute as it gets.

Elijah on his way to be picked up by the whirlwind spoke as one who was absolutely sure.

Paul , in most of his letters seemed not to be sure, but at the end of his life he seemed to be absolutely sure of receiving a crown ( of salvation).

.
If we look to Catholic History, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Theresa of Avila, and St. Faustina seemed to receive absolute assurance. And so did the the children of Fatima.

Any thoughts?

Sincerely,

De Maria
It is firm dogma of the Catholic Church (See Denzinger 802) as follows:

Without special Divine Revelation no one can know with the certainty of faith, if he be in a state of grace. (De fide definita).

The saints you mentioned had that special Devine Revelation that they would gain Heaven. The three children of Fatima received that assurance from the Blessed Mother during her first appearance to them in May 1917. The oldest, Lucia de Santos, is still living. She is 97 years old.

St. Joan of Arc was question by the Inquisitor (evidently hoping to catch her in an error): he asked her if she was in the state of grace. She answered that if she was, she hoped God would keep her that way, if she was not, she hoped God would lead her into grace.

(See Denziger 808) The grace by which we are justified may be lost, and is lost by every grevous sin. (De fide definita)

We are in a fallen state and have lost much of the quality and quantity of graces enjoyed by our first parents, Adam and Eve; but, not even in their privileged position were they assured of salvation, as we well know.

I hope this helps.
 
De Maria,

I agree that perhaps many RC’s and Catholics in general may go overboard on assurance or hope. I may be guilty as charged as well.:whistle: No, better then that, I plead guilty as charged!

Why do I and many others go overboard? Its simple, many or most protestant sects push this topic to proselytize Catholics.:tsktsk: They use it fervently and relentlessly against us. I know, I’ve seen it work on RC’s who did not ‘know’ the RC Faith. As a matter of fact, I routinely saw my preacher(s) degrade, insult and belittle Catholics (i.e. RC’s) and Mormons from the pulpit during services. As a matter of fact my wife and I used to like to see how many Sundays the Baptist preacher could go in-between slinging mud at other denominations. I live in Utah so currently he slung more dung at the LDS but Catholics were just frosting on the cake. He never lasted more then 1 Sunday without attacking the Mormons and 2 without lying about Catholics. Its like they taught him (and others) to belittle other religions to draw attention away from his own religions fallacy and contradictions in ‘Bible College’ and at preacher school?

Example: Eph 2:8-9 says we are ‘saved’ by ‘faith alone’ and not of works. The preacher quotes this verse almost weekly. Verse 10 is virtually never used by protestantss. Why?:confused: Because it puts “context” on verses 8-9 showing that they only refer to works of the law and not to voluntary good deeds. I suppose I saw so many protestants at my churches lie and misquote or just misinterpret that I now have a mission with great zeal to show them the truth. Forget the book of James, it nothing but “Straw!”

Now you quoted Lk 23:43, I thought Jesus was speaking to the thief beside Him and not me or you? So I do not see this as assurance except for the thief?:confused: 2 Kings 2 I did not ‘see’ your point at all. I did not see how it applied to anyone else? 2 Tim 4 your getting close and you have a good point indeed. However as I read this verse I see (or ‘see’) St Paul clearly saying we have assurance only if we preserve to the end just as Jesus promised? He is saying if we endure then we do have assurance of salvation and I agree with him and you on this point. But again salvation comes at the end of our journey not during it (unless Jesus makes an exception like the thief).

Here is what Catholic Answers has at one of its articles I like to use. It also helps to prove your point you have been making::clapping:

“Are you saved?” asks the Fundamentalist. The Catholic should reply: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).”

Here are some great sites on the subject too:

http://www.catholic.com/library/Assurance_of_Salvation.asp

http://members.aol.com/uticacw/baptist/bibletruth.html Great site for Baptists!

http://www.catscans.com/catholicsite/

Perhaps I shall try at times to tone it down just for you. It is an important subject though and most RC’s I have met do not their own Church teachings on the subject and fall for the protestant propaganda tricks.

A prisoner of Christ
 
weunice
  • I have actually never met a well versed (literally) OSAS Protestant that did not hold to some exception for those that “fall away”.*
I sure have. I have argued with many, many, educated hardcore antinomian OSAS believers. They will tell you to your face that a Christian has eternal security, and that a “saved” man can die as an unrepentant, backslid, Satan worshipping, child molester - with a guaranteed place in heaven waiting for him when he dies. The antinomian heretics will argue that that there is no sin that can make a “saved” man lose his salvation, and there is no example of unrepentant sin that you could come up with that would make them back down from this position. The antinomian flavor of OSAS is certainly one of the most pernicious heresies that infest Protestantism today. And it is an extremely popular heresy that is leading many Catholics into the darkness of Protestant fundamentalism. It would be hard to underestimate the appeal of cheap grace and easy believism.

As soon as someone argues “that person was never saved in the first place”, they have tipped their hand, and they have revealed that deep down, they really do believe that a Christian must meet some minimal standard of moral behavior. That deeply held, but inchoate belief is impossible to reconcile with the antinomian flavor of OSAS.
 
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Matt16_18:
They will tell you to your face that a Christian has eternal security, and that a “saved” man can die as an unrepentant, backslid, Satan worshipping, child molester - with a guaranteed place in heaven waiting for him when he dies. The antinomian heretics will argue that that there is no sin that can make a “saved” man lose his salvation, and there is no example of unrepentant sin that you could come up with that would make them back down from this position.
And they criticize us because we have the sacrament of reconciliation… :rolleyes:
 
I will only say that my Presbyterian Calvinist buddy tried to pull it on me a few weeks ago. Except substitute the word “elect” for the word “Protestant”.

The Presbyterian / Calvinist flavor of OSAS is on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Southern Baptist / Fundamentalist flavor of OSAS.

The Southern Baptist flavor of OSAS is the antinomian flavor of OSAS – free will is not denied, a “saved” man has freedom in Christ to commit any sin he feels like committing with the “assurance of salvation”. The Calvinist flavor of OSAS denies that this is true. Instead, the Calvinist flavor of OSAS argues that free will is corroded away by “irresistible grace” and that the “elect” are incapable of committing mortal sin.

Of course, this is an overly simplistic summation of the distinction between Presbyterians and Southern Baptists and their beliefs in OSAS. But in general, it is true – Southern Baptists don’t generally deny the existence of free will, while Presbyterians get tied into knots over questions about free will, and this leads to two distinct flavors of OSAS.
 
Ok guys,

I think you all misundestood me. Let me try again.

If God stands before you, as we believe He did before Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Avila and so many other saints. And He says, “You are going to heaven.” Is that absolute assurance or not?

When Jesus said to the Good Thief, “This day you will be with me in Paradise”. Was that absolute or not? I don’t see the “if” clause in that statement. So I’m thinking it is absolute.

So, in my opinion, the correct stance for a Catholic is this, in general, we can’t have absolute assurance of Salvation, but certain individuals have had that in their lifetime. Some of the Canonized Saints.

Sincerely,

De Maria
 
Matt16_18 said:
weunice
As soon as someone argues “that person was never saved in the first place”, they have tipped their hand, and they have revealed that deep down, they really do believe that a Christian must meet some minimal standard of moral behavior. That deeply held, but inchoate belief is impossible to reconcile with the antinomian flavor of OSAS.

I think it’s interesting how these deep down beliefs based on truth somehow always manage to come to the surface every so often despite all the errors that the person may hold. Of course, there’s a mixture of truth and error in the antinomian OSAS fundie type, and all Protestants as well, but its the persistence of truth, it’s strength in the mix of alll that heresy, I find very interesting. It says that the spiritual dynamic there is towards truth and that the heresy must constantly fight to stomp it down.

In short, it’s easier to be Catholic, than Protestant. You gotta work hard to keep believing heresy.
 
De Maria:
If God stands before you, as we believe He did before Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Avila and so many other saints. And He says, “You are going to heaven.” Is that absolute assurance or not?
Absolute.
De Maria:
When Jesus said to the Good Thief, “This day you will be with me in Paradise”. Was that absolute or not? I don’t see the “if” clause in that statement. So I’m thinking it is absolute.
Absolute.
So, in my opinion, the correct stance for a Catholic is this, in general, we can’t have absolute assurance of Salvation, but certain individuals have had that in their lifetime. Some of the Canonized Saints.
Compare your statement with the following passages from the Council of Trent, Session VI :
". . .except by special revelation, it cannot be known whom God hath chosen unto Himself.
“If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; anathema sit.”
The examples you’ve provided sure sound like “special revelation”.
 
The reason we cannot be certain of our salvation is our own actions. Every book in the NT except Philimon has verse that ties our actions with salvation.

This is a short list of the Scriptures.
Matthew 24:13 he who endures to the end will be saved.

John 15:6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and wither; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

**Galatians 5:19-21 **The acts of the sinful nature are obvious…I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Note: Many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists deny Christians can do the sins Paul lists. Galatians 5 disproves that. First of all, he is writing to Christians. He accuses them of sinning. He isn’t refering to some hypothetical non-christians here. He is telling them they are the ones sinning.

**2 Timothy 2:12 **If we endure we will also reign with him. If we disown him he will also disown us.

Note: Some who teach “Once saved always saved” use the verse Hebrews 13:5 “…I will never leave you nor forsake you…”
In 2 Timothy it says “if we disown him” Jesus will never leave us, but we can certainly leave him.
 
Thank you all for your (name removed by moderator)ut and especially Vincent. I wasn’t aware of those passages from the Council of Trent. It is exactly what I was looking for.

Through the years I had been arguing that there was absolutely no absolute assurance of salvation and then one day I was reading about St. Catherine Siena and I realized she was speaking in absolute terms about her salvation and then I remembered so many other Catholic Saints that did the same thing. That is when I began to realize that something was askew in my own understanding.

Sincerely,

De Maria
 
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