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Faith and Works

Is salvation by works or by faith? The question is not often asked by Catholics, because we are taught the proper balance between those two things, so it is not given much consideration. This can be good because we know what that balance is; however, it can also be bad when someone forgets about the balance and ends up overemphasizing either one.

The Catholic Church teaches neither salvation by works or salvation by faith, and (in another way) she teaches both salvation by works and by faith. Catholic teaching is that we are saved by our personal cooperation with the work of Christ. This means that we need to be working (salvation by works) and we need to be believing all that Christ says (salvation by faith). To attempt to isolate these two aspects of our redemption destroys the nature of salvation.

Protestants claim to teach salvation by faith alone, and accuse Catholics of teaching salvation by works (alone). This is like people in Louisiana saying that people in Arkansas are "northerners"--it depends on where you are standing. The Protestant teaching, however, almost always degenerates into salvation by works alone--not in their actual teaching, but in the individual actions. You have to "do something" in order to distinguish the saved from the unsaved, so they make up a "work" and call it "faith". This basically proves that they are trying to figure out what Scripture says, but really do not know how, so they end up contradicting themselves.

If we take all that our Lord says to us, we will realize that He encourages us (quite often) to have faith, and (even more often) to have works (obedience, faithfulness, etc.). We cannot oppose faith and works since they each flow from each other. What you believe will impact what you do; and what you do will impact what you believe (even if you do not recognize it). So then, believe God, and do all that He has commanded you.


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