Definition: The belief that, through the sacramental system of the Catholic Church, a person can cooperate with God to achieve salvation and heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines grace as “the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of becoming his adopted sons.” This grace is mediated through the Church. The Catechism further states: “No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.”
Discussion: Catholics must spend their lives working to become adopted into God’s family. Christians are adopted when they repent and believe the gospel (Eph. 1:3-14). Catholics must be continuously converted to merit heaven. This is accomplished through the infusion of righteousness provided by their Church. Christians are accounted righteous according to the righteousness of another – the infinite righteousness of Christ – and are declared righteous based solely on faith in Jesus (Rom. 4:2-8). We cannot merit our salvation in any respect – it is a gift (Eph. 2:8-9) – and gifts cannot be merited (Rom. 11:6)!
Articles & Viewpoints:
- Article by Rob Zins – The Marketing of Merit in the Roman Catholic Religion