Misunderstanding Assumption I
'The Catholic Church's teachings are unbiblical on Salvation and Justification. It teaches that one has to earn/merit and work their own way to Heaven.'
|photo from http://www.romeofthewest.com/|
I believe the problem lies with when a Catholic says they are saved by faith and good works - the Church's interpretation of "faith" differs from a non-Catholics interpretation. The term "faith and good works" is used to explain a "formed faith", the faith St. Paul talks about = faith, hope, and charity. I feel that the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification explains pretty clearly how the Church teaches we are justified and saved.
"We confess together that all persons depend completely on the saving grace of God for their salvation . . . for as sinners they stand under God's judgment and are incapable of turning by themselves to God to seek deliverance, of meriting their justification before God, or of attaining salvation by their own abilities. Justification takes place solely by God's grace. . . . When Catholics say that persons 'cooperate' in preparing for and accepting justification . . . they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities" (JD 19-20).
I purposely bold ed the last few statements. Many non-Catholics who believe this "Assumption I" back it up by saying the Church teaches that if you do not take "action" (merit/earn) and participate in the Holy Sacraments then you cannot be saved. They're implying that we Catholics believe it's our own action in addition to our faith that saves. But as you read in the JD above, the Church does not see this participation as "action of ourselves" but an effect of God's grace.
Not only does the Church's interpretation of the Scriptures on "faith" differ with non-Catholics but also it's interpretation of "grace" and how we receive His grace. The Church interprets that by the grace of Christ, we achieve the salvation God desires for us through perseverance in both faith and works - Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13. Obviously then it is of great importance to know how Jesus taught we receive His grace and how we must cooperate with His grace. The Church interprets the Scriptures to teach about Sanctifying Grace (grace that makes the soul holy and places you in perfect and absolute union with God) and Actual Grace (divine pushes, encouragement) as an answer to how we receive grace, again non-Catholics may differ in how they interpret the Scriptures to teach about grace.
So in conclusion I hope I've pointed out why this assumption is false and why it's wrong to misrepresent the Church's teachings with this misconception. I also made a point several times to recognize that non-Catholics may interpret the Scriptures differently, therefore our doctrines on these subjects will differ and disagree. But I'm not doing this Series of posts to debate over the interpretation - I'm doing them to hopefully clarify the Church's teachings and squash misconceptions and wrong assumptions of the Church. So to correct this "Misunderstanding Assumption I" I would say it's fair to say "the Catholic Church's teachings on Salvation and Justification is that a a person is justified by faith and works acting together (James 2:24) “faith working through love”, which comes solely from God’s divine grace."