The Essential Difference between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Views of Assurance

Posted By on December 7, 2019

Here is the embodiment and summary of what
had generally been taught in the Middle Ages but it had never been officially defined that
God loves the lovely. “For God to love you, you need to become a different person. You
are not loved because of the external righteousness of Christ imputed to you. You are loved because
Christ comes into you and changes you so you’re a different person so that you can be loved
by God.” That’s a rather brief summary of a rather
long document but that’s the very heart of it. Rome defines itself now as committed to
this proposition that you are only justified by being changed into a different moral person
by the grace of God. And this is so important because it remains the essential difference
between Protestantism and Rome. And it relates very much to this matter of assurance that
we talked about. If you have to be a morally better person to be accepted by God, how much
better do you have to be? How do you have any confidence that you’ve gotten there? And
of course, Rome’s pastoral position is you shouldn’t be confident, you ought to be
worried. You’ll try harder if you’re doubting. It is not good for you to have assurance.
That’s just Protestant arrogance. One of the great Roman Catholic theologians
of the late 16th, early 17th century, Robert Bellarmine said “The essential Protestant
heresy is the arrogance of assurance.” You’ll get lazy if you are assured. You won’t try
hard if you’re assured. It’s good to be doubting and fearful and uncertain. So you have really
two quite different religions at work here. Calvin said, “The assured heart in Christ
will live for God out of gratitude.”

Posted by Lewis Heart

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