You know, Catholics and Protestants, in many respects, are not as different as one might suppose. In other respects, they are worlds apart. But this is one of those similarities.
Coming from an evangelical Protestant background I have come to see this on a practical level in this way; God can be trusted to keep up His end, and so if at anytime I find myself away from God, it was me who moved, not God. Thus I have an absolute assurance with respect to God. He will always be there. This same principle applies with respect to the grace of the sacraments. The grace is always available but our disposition to receive determines the grace that we do receive.
Balthasar's concept of the dynamic relationship is very useful as well in avoiding the problem Luther had, ie. scrupulosity. It may be truthful and accurate to say that no Catholic knows absolutely that he is in a state of grace, such that if he died this moment he would be saved, but practically speaking, if one dwells on that too much, one could go as crazy as Luther.
That doctrine is really saying that only God truly knows the heart and when push comes to shove even a Protestant proponent of eternal security will avoid being cornered by giving God the ultimate judgement as to someone's salvation, if only to explain some high profile apostates and those who have lived a sinful life after conversion.
That being said, it is the uncertainty that motivates us to re-examine our conscience regularly, seek the graces available to us through Holy Mother Church, make every effort to live a holy life of charity. And we usually know, if we are spending any time in prayer and meditation, if we have crossed the line into sin that can jeopardize our salvation.
Posted on IgnatiusInsight Blog by "Les" Thursday, August 17, 2006 at 12:42 AM