Thursday, October 20, 2011

Point of Salvation

If you call yourself a Catholic, as I understand it, there is no "one point of salvation". There are no Four Spiritual Laws, no sinner's prayer, no altar calls to spur you on to tearfully surrender your life to God once & for all. The closest I get to finding a starting point for salvation is the sacrament of baptism. This of course, wrecks havoc with my deeply ingrained Protestant understanding that one chooses to have a personal relationship with Christ. How can a baby baptised into a Catholic heritage possibly be exerting choice? Can the child be "saved" by virtue of the parent's will? The Catechism states "...Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace & a gift of God that does not presuppose any human merit; children are baptised in the faith of the Church. Entry into Christian life gives access to true freedom." CCC1282

It appears from the catechism that the baby will indeed be "saved" & go to heaven. Ideally, the child grows up & receives instruction that culminates in confession of faith, confirmation & full reception into the Catholic community. Here, the other sacraments help guide the life of the faithful "from womb to tomb" as some like to say.

If I were to jump to conclusions, I might think Catholics believe in a "once saved, always saved" type of thing like most Protestants. But even if they do, there is an element of consequence & satisfaction of debt that is still expected. True "once saved, always saved" proponents make a quick escape with God's "free gift". As a result, arguments rage about the sufficiency of Christ's work on the Cross.

Catholics believe that while sin can be forgiven, the consequence remains. I'm not sure what I believe about that yet. But when all is said & done, is there a specific point of salvation for the Catholic? Its hard to say. I'm inclined to think it was the moment when Jesus proclaimed "It is finished". Faith, by its very nature, hinges on the grace He afforded us that day- Catholic & Protestant alike.

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