Thursday, December 9, 2010

Can we achieve perfection on Earth?

Question So the difference between Catholics and Protestants ideas of salvation is that Catholics have hope of becoming perfect in this world, which might inspire us to try to make a difference, whereas Protestants think this to be impossible so it isn't worth trying, and therefore are less likely to make a difference? How is it possible for us to become perfect on earth? If we need the grace of God to be made perfect, why do we believe that we can work towards our own salvation? Basically what it comes down to then is that we will try harder if there is that hope, right?

Answer Sort of. Very few people actually aspire to perfection on earth... but we should try to be as righteous as possible. The difference is that Catholics think their efforts make a difference, and that if the process isn't finnished on earth, it will be in purgatory. Protestants still try to be righteous, as an expression of their faith, but they don't think 'salvation' is hinged on that. Some protestants- Calvinists- don't think they can do anything about whether they are going to Heaven or Hell- they think God just predestined them before all time, and they just have to put up with it!

I suggest you read the gospel of Matthew (7,8,25) and the letter of James (2) while thinking about this- and you will see that Jesus and his apostles clearly taught that works make a difference! While we may never be totally perfect in this world, we can gain in virtue and eliminate vice, and we should always push on towards that.

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