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Salvation and eternal life cannot be earned, but are a gift of grace from the Lord to the ungodly

Letter of the day: faith debate

Fr Patrick McCafferty's response to my and Robert Cousins' letters (Write Back, November 16) is both confusing and contradictory of his first letter (Write Back, November 7).

In his original letter, he states: "We are saved by both faith and works." Yet, in his later reply, he states: "The Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ alone, not by our own works."

These two statements are contradictory and incompatible.

Furthermore, he states in his reply that: "The Catholic Church condemns the notion that we can earn our salvation."

Yet, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life."

The verb "merit" and the noun "attainment" are of immense significance, for they clearly indicate an individual can actually earn eternal life.

We are not talking here about mere semantics, but the crucial means by which an individual receives God's salvation.

Reformed Christians believe that "salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9) and that it is wholly God's work from beginning to end (Rom 8:30-33; Gals 3:8). No human work whatsoever is involved (Rom 11:6; Gals 2:16; Titus 3:5-7). Even faith itself, whereby we receive Christ, is God's gift (Eph 2:8).

So, we cannot claim that our salvation, in any way, is merited, or attained, on our part. Salvation is simply God's gift of grace to the ungodly (Rom 5: 6-8).

D Howard Gilpin

Moira, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph

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