Thursday, April 04, 2002

William Sulik has been pondering what role works play in salvation. Now, I consider myself a Protestant, but I disagree with the idea that faith alone is all that's needed. Usually, Protestants will elaborate and say that good works flow from faith, but aren't essential. On the other hand, Catholics appear to advocate a merit-based system, where the more good works you do, the shorter your time in Purgatory before ascending to Heaven (or, I suppose, a longer time in Purgatory before going down to Hell). William's not sure exactly how good works, well, work, but I'd like to submit an idea. I don't claim it to be a sound doctrine, but it seems to make sense to me, and I figured that there are enough smart people who read this who might be able to say if I'm seriously off-base.

It seems to me that when you do good works, you're making a sacrifice to God. Not of a goat, unblemished calf, or anything like that, but of your time and efforts. What's important isn't how much you do, but that you do what you can, like the Little Drummer Boy (pa-rum pa pum-pum). In Mark 12:42, Jesus esteems a poor woman's gift of two copper coins more than all other donations to the Temple treasury. For some people, they may be able to do something good for others many times a day, every day, for many years. Other people may live in such dire circumstances that only once in their life are they ever able to actually do anything to help someone else. The Protestants do have a point about faith, though. If a grievous sinner were to truly repent, resolve to do good, and then get hit by a train before doing anything, he would still be saved.

Who knows, perhaps I'm the blithering idiot here.

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