The role of charity as doctrine

I recently had a discussion about the role of charity as a core doctrinal issue in the faith.   It was pointed by one of the parties that in Mt 7, when Jesus describes the general judgement, some were condemned even after accepting Jesus as lord because of their lack of charity. “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” The difference is the Catholic vs. Protestant view of salvation. Catholics don’t believe in salvation by faith alone unless you mean an active faith with works of love which are our free will responses to God’s grace.

The more traditional way of saying it is that if have to narrow it down to one thing that saves us, it is God’s grace. “Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” see paragraph 1996 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: . We respond to God’s grace with both faith and works, or belief and acts of love. Faith alone is not enough for as James 2:19 states, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” and James 2:24, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” and also Rom 2:5-8, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”. These are just a few samples, I could go on.

Of the two, faith and love, love takes precedence. That’s the meaning of the Matt citation I quoted above. Some of the damned had faith enough to call Jesus “Lord, Lord” (or accepted Jesus into their heart as their personal Lord and savior [clearly they were expecting salvation in the context of the passage] in Evangelical language) but were still lost among the goats. It is also summarized in the great passage read at so many weddings, “love is patient, love is kind…” that ends, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”. I think it’s worth reading at length and I also think it clearly supports the Catholic understanding of salvation.



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