Thursday, September 23, 2010

Salvation as Motivation

One thing that surprises many people is how hard a lot of protestants work at becoming holy even though they believe their salvation does not depend on it. I was that way as a protestant. I was really serious about serving Jesus and honestly believed in once saved always saved. Now one might point out that if I ever stopped being serious about my faith then my assurance of salvation would disappear pretty quick. That was probably true but it was not really on my mind at all. I just didn't think about heaven and hell that much. I wanted God's blessing in this life and I wanted to bless other people. That was my reason for doing good.

That is not the case for everyone. Some would cut some corners. Premarital sex was a popular choice. Why give that up when your eternal soul is not on the line? You need to trust God's way is better even if the devil's way looks very good. Many ended up making bad choices and disappearing from the church. That is going to happen but in hindsight it would have been good to tell them they were dealing with mortal sin and in serious danger of losing their eternal soul. To some of them that might have made a difference.

But the same choice happens at many levels. What happens when God is leading a protestant towards the catholic church? Most of them believe their salvation is not at stake. I am not convinced it is not. It comes down to the same thing. God's way and the devil's way. The question is do they know that is what the choice amounts too? At what level do they know? The church says if they are invincibly ignorant then it is not a mortal sin. Simply refusing to believe what God has revealed to your heart is not invincible ignorance.

We are not to judge protestants who weigh these choices. My feeling is often we do judge them by declaring them innocent. It is certainly better than judging them guilty. But it is still a disservice. We need to warn people that their soul might be lost by the choice they make. It depends on why they make it. They might make it because they prefer moral laxity and their protestant church offers them that. If they know in their heart that God is calling them to the higher standard of Catholicism then it is a mortal sin not to become Catholic for that reason. But the same is possible for a pet doctrine or a preferred worship style or a favorite pastor. Anything we prefer to following God in a serious matter can be mortal sin.

Protestants often commit the sin of presumption when they approach these matters. Presuming their salvation and not being open to the idea that their hope for salvation should properly be driving this choice. But we can encourage to sin worse them by assuming invincible ignorance. That might not be the case. You cannot know their heart. Sometimes just the drive for integrity of belief is enough to motivate them to make the hard choices. Maybe salvation would be effective as an extra motivation.

1 comment:

  1. I know there are many Protestants who strive for holiness, and they have my admiration. Me, I needed the extra motivation Catholicism provides. I'm willing to do a lot more as a Catholic than I was as a Protestant. :)

    Many Protestants do loudly insist that they're absolutely certain of their future residence in Heaven, and that seems so presumptuous to me now. But I remember when I was Protestant we were told we had to be certain of that, and it was an offense against God to doubt it.