21 January 2007

Pot Calling the Kettle Black

First off a disclaimer: this is not meant to be a full treatise on faith and works. My current project is on the burden of proof of those who bring doctrinal charges against the Church. This is just a quick note.

Today at Protestant-church, the pastor talked at great length about salvation. He used all the usual buzz words such as "personal relationship" "asking Jesus into your heart" and the like. In addition, he shocked me with this: "I'm not saying 'Do you believe in Jesus as your personal savior?' I'm asking you, 'Have you personally applied the blood of Jesus to your life?'"

I'm not sure what applying the blood of Jesus to my life could entail... (it could mean a lot, but what he's referring to, I don't know.) I've heard something like this before, but it clicked with me today. Here's the deal- Protestants are always shouting sola fide, works are not necessary. But Protestants really misunderstand the Church's position on works in the place of justification.

Looking at the first canon from the Council of Trent's decree on justification, we can see the proper place of works: "If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema."

Without grace, we can do nothing to achieve salvation. It is only through our Lord's sacrifice on the cross that we can merit eternal life. The difference is how it is applied. Catholics believe that this grace is applied through the sacraments. According to Pastor Danny, "we must apply the blood of Jesus to our lives." It seems that the Protestant plays a more active role in his salvation!

Catholics actually play a fairly passive part in the means of salvation. When it comes to the sacraments, we only approach them. We approach the baptismal font where water is poured over us. We approach the Eucharist where the Host is given to us- we never take the Body of Christ. We approach the priest in confession, where our sins are absolved- passive action. It is good to note that priests act in persona Christi. So man is barely involved. We are moved by God's grace, and indeed we must act on that grace (this is where the Protestants erred), but ultimately in the actual transmission of grace, we are much less active than some would have you think.

So taking all of that into consideration, and considering Pastor Danny's urging to "apply the blood of Jesus", what do you think of Protestants that say that works play no role in salvation and that Catholics rely too much on works?