Discussion on Sola Fide, Justification, Sanctification and Glorification
#1
I've decided to come back onto the forum for a little while. 

As I have discussed before, I have a couple of friends who are Calvinists. Whenever we are talking about the Faith, I feel that I am able to explain decently the Catholic faith as opposed to the Protestant heresy.

One thing I am continually having trouble with is understanding the Catholic position on faith alone, on justification (initial justification, ongoing or progressive justification), sanctification and justification. The topic seems extremely convoluted. 

So, if anyone would please be willing to entertain some discussion on the topic, I would greatly appreciate it.

The first thing I wanted to know is how can Romans 3-5, which Protestants say teaches faith alone and not a "works-based" salvation, be reconciled with things like salvation through baptism? Now, I know that the Scriptures plainly teach that baptism saves us, and that we must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and that if we aren't born of water and the Spirit (which Protestants interpret in the most bizarre ways to get around the obvious implications of Christ's words) then we shall not enter the Kingdom of God. And I know the how the early Church interpreted those passages (in accord with the Catholic faith, and with some beautiful typology).

So how does it fit? How can we be saved by faith and by baptism?
"Especially [will I do this ] if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ." St. Ignatius of Antioch, Eph. 20
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#2
I'll try and give a little more to engage with.

So, the classical proof text Protestants cite to fortify their doctrine of sola fide is Romans 3:27-28

Quote:Where is then thy boasting? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? no, but by the law of faith. For we account a man to be justified by faith, without works of the law.

Now, I know that Catholics would point out that the phrase "works of the law" here refers to dietary laws, circumcision and other rituals and laws from the Mosaic covenant that are no longer binding upon Christians.

Nevertheless, the phrase "justified by faith" is used by St. Paul. I am trying to understand when the act of justification occurs? I know that the Church teaches that we receive divine faith, hope and charity in the Sacrament of baptism, but would that also be the first instance of justification?

Elsewhere the Scriptures teach that baptism is what regenerates us, remits sin, and unites us to the death and resurrection of Christ. That doctrine is picked up immediately by the all Fathers (a point which Protestants themselves admit.) So I have no qualms about sacramental realism with baptism, just a slight bit of confusion which I am hoping to have cleared up. 

Thank you,
Justin
"Especially [will I do this ] if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ." St. Ignatius of Antioch, Eph. 20
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#3
We need to turn to the Council of Trent to tackle this question.  It was at Trent that the Church’s definitive teachings on justification were formulated, and in direct response to the Protestant heretics.  In the first canon we are told, "If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema."  As I am sure you are aware, the Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by grace, which includes faith and works (all done not by our own effort but by God’s grace).  Consider what the Council of Trent says about our initial justification: "The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight. Whence, when it is said in the sacred writings: Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you, we are admonished of our liberty; and when we answer; Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted, we confess that we are prevented by the grace of God" (Ch. V).  

We cannot boast of being saved because God calls us, through His grace and not our merit, to initial justification.  We respond in faith to His offer of grace and receive our initial justification.  Thereafter, in order to remain in our new state of grace (our justification) we are told that "Having, therefore, been thus justified, and made the friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day; that is, by mortifying the members of their own flesh, and by presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified, as it is written; He that is just, let him be justified still; and again, Be not afraid to be justified even to death; and also, Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. And this increase of justification holy Church begs, when she prays, 'Give unto us, O Lord, increase of faith, hope, and charity'" (Ch. X). 

We are justified by God’s grace, His call to us to repent of our sins and be saved.  We respond in faith by receiving baptism (which is regenerative, it is how we accept justification from God).  Is not receiving baptism an act of faith?  To believe that God will forgive our sins if we allow His minister to immerse us in or to pour some water over our heads while saying a short formula?  Our faith is like that of Abraham, who was justified because he believed God’s promises and, in an act of faith, was willing to sacrifice his son to God.  Abraham wasn’t saved because he felt, in his heart, that God was going to keep his promises.  That is mere belief (which even the demons possess).  No, his faith was backed up by action, the near sacrifice of Isaac.  Similarly, we do not have saving faith until we’ve submitted to what God has told us to do, which is to receive baptism.  Once we’ve done that, our initial justification by God’s grace is achieved.  And we can lose that justification by falling into mortal sin, or we can merit more grace (now that we’re in a state of grace and no longer the slaves of sin) by doing the works of faith (obeying Our Lord’s commandments, doing good like feeding the poor and housing the homeless, etc.).  

Your friends quote part of the third chapter of Romans.  Here is how that chapter ends: "Do we, then, destroy the law through faith? God forbid: but we establish the law" (Romans 3:31).  The law of God is not destroyed through faith.  Even faith acts in accordance with a law of its own as verse 27 clearly states.  It is by faith that we can actually hope to obey God's law.  So, how to reconcile Paul’s statement about salvation by faith?  By understanding the role faith plays in our salvation.  We respond, in faith, to God’s call to initial repentance.  This is done by accepting His command to be baptized for the remission of our sins.  We then cooperate with God by refraining from doing evil and instead doing what is good.  This is pleasing to God, who gives us more graces to assist in our work of sanctification and justification (i.e. salvation).  The idea that salvation is only by mentally assenting to an idea (Jesus Christ died for my sins) has no basis in the Scriptures.  The Protestants must do mental gymnastics to explain how their heresy of sola fide actually fits with all of Scripture, not just a few proof texts.

Catholic teaching on salvation isn't really convoluted when you realize that the Protestant heretics have, basically, redefined what words mean (e.g. faith, law, works, etc.).
"For the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists."
- Pope St. Pius X

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables."
- 2 Timothy 4:3-4

"Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity."
- 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
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