Some people say that the Catholic church teaches salvation by works. Is this true?

To begin with, let me state up front that Catholics do not teach salvation by works. In fact, the Catholic church firmly maintains that man can only be saved by God’s grace. However, ask Catholics whether they believe that they are justified by faith alone and chances are pretty good you’ll get “no” for an answer. Consequently, some evangelicals have mistakenly concluded that Catholics hold to salvation by works.

Justification, to evangelicals, means that God declares us righteous the instant you or I repent and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior — and this, despite our sinfulness. Actually, it’s a singular event, something that is completed instantaneously. Catholics, on the other hand, understand justification to mean that God makes us righteous. It’s seen as a process whereby God gradually perfects us; and this is, incidentally, why Catholics believe that only in the end will believers be sure as to whether they’re truly justified or saved.

CATHOLICS AND SALVATION- Works as Vital Elements
In addition, evangelicals believe in justification by faith alone. And by faith we mean not only knowledge and agreement, but also personal trust in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. In sharp distinction, Catholics see faith as nothing more than passive agreement, which again is why they don’t believe in justification by faith alone. Catholics actually consider human works as vital elements in the process of justification. This is because they are held to be the result of God’s grace working through and perfecting believers.

CATHOLICS AND SALVATION- Serious Issues with Doctrine
Well, in sharp contrast to the evangelical belief that works are the fruits of justification, Catholics say that justification results from a combination of faith and works made possible by God’s grace. Yes, we regard the Catholic conception of justification to be confused. Yes, we take serious issue with the numerous doctrines and practices that it has produced. Though they can be rightly faulted on these points, no one can legitimately claim that Catholics teach a crass system of salvation by works.

So, once again, it is important to understand that while many Catholics believe in salvation through works, the official stance of Roman Catholicism is that justification results from a combination of faith and works which is made possible by the grace of God.On Catholics and the doctrine of salvation, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.