Catholic Teaching

Once Saved Always Saved


Once saved always saved is often used by many Protestants and it is similar to the statement, "God will forgive me." uttered by Catholics. In the case of Catholics this is called 'presumption' and it is a sin in itself.

Verses such as John 10:28 which states "- and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand" can seem to support the notion of eternal assurance. But this is not the case. One does not even need to seek out the many verses which deny eternal assurance in order to prove this point to Protestants or to Catholics.

While it is certainly true no-one can "snatch them out of My hand", it is entirely possible for someone to willingly let go of God's hand. This is what sin is - a willing acceptance or doing of something that is not of God. Common sense tells us we cannot go to the front of the church on a Sunday Service, tell everyone we are saved and then go home and commit a sin with immunity; however, some people believe this.

If one continues in the Bible to James 2:19-26, it says, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works it is dead also."



For Catholics, we call the idea of "God will forgive me." the "Sin of Presumption". (Latin praesumere, "to take before", "to take for granted").

Presumption is here considered as a vice opposed to the theological virtue of hope. It may also be regarded as a product of pride. It may be defined as the condition of a soul which hopes for salvation without doing anything to deserve it, or for pardon of his sins without repenting of them. Presumption is said to offend against hope by excess, as despair by defect. It will be obvious, however, to one who ponders what is meant by hope, that this statement is not exact. There is only a certain analogy which justifies it. As a matter of fact we could not hope too much, assuming that it is really the supernatural habit which is in question.

We cannot believe, as the "Church of Nice" teaches, that no one goes to Hell. The Catholic Church actually teaches that Hell is populated (based on the words of Christ that not all will be saved - therefore some will be damned) - we cannot believe we cannot go to Hell.


What Presumption is not:

The sin of presumption does not include making statements such as "when we are in Heaven . . ." or by talking about seeing God face to face and all the other benefits of Heaven as something which we know will happen. Catholics who are in a state of grace (and it is possible to know when you are in a state of grace as only mortal sin takes that away, and you are always aware of when you have committed a mortal sin) are assured Heaven at that moment. The sin of presumption refers to a belief that regardless of mortal sins one will still merit Heaven. Common logic tells you this is not true.


Eternal Assurance:

Eternal assurance is an illogical position for the same reason that sola fides is illogical - it denies free will and the very existence of sin. If one is eternally assured of salvation after stepping into some "group" of the saved, then what does it matter if we sin? It in fact means that sin does not exist - there are no moral absolutes and there is nothing that will offend God. This means we cannot choose God, and hence do not have free will. If there is no sin and we have no ability to choose sin or God, what need do we have for a savior? Eternal assurance in fact denies the very purpose for Christ's incarnation.


Jim Fritz

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