Roman Catholicism

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Works Salvation

Milo Y. has repented of his sins and become devout. Sounds genuine, actually-- he admits to slipping a bit. He still has a big problem, though--- bad theology of a kind which has bad practical implications for him, in particular.

He says, "Secular attempts at recovery from sin are either temporary or completely ineffective. Salvation can only be achieved through devotion to Christ and the works of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. "

And he says, "Secretly, I feel I've done enough good in this life to excuse me from earthly penance for past sins.”

This is a big problem of Roman Catholicism: works salvation, the Pelagian heresy that you can achieve forgiveness by balancing your sins with enough good works (a) helping other people, and (b) in prayer, fasting, and piety.

You can't. That's what got Martin Luther going. He tried to be the best monk he could--- and he had the desire and talent to do it--- and he saw it wasn't enough: he was still a miserable sinner. 1st Thesis: The Christian life is one of repentance (=change)---you never beat sin.

Rather, God forgives you despite your sin. In gratitude, you try to please him, but you do that knowing you'll fail. Thus, you expect failure, and you don't give up when it happens. And you don't grow cocky about temptation's dangers.

A good way to appreciate this idea is to read Tolstoy's novella, Father Sergius.