On December 13, 1545, the first session of the Council of Trent took place under Pope Paul III. This council was an official council of the Roman Catholic church which met to discuss, among other things, the teachings of the Reformation – the teachings which most Roman Catholics of the day considered heretical. Obviously there is a lot to discuss about the Council of Trent, but in this blog post I simply want to focus on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints which the Reformers taught and Rome rejected.
Here’s Canon 16 of the Sixth Session of the Council:
“If anyone says that he will for certain, with an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance even to the end, unless he shall have learned this by a special revelation, let him be anathema [accursed].”The Reformed teaching, later agreed upon in the Confessions (Reformed and Presbyterian) can be summarized by these words from the Canons of Dort (Article 5.8-10).
“Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits, or strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings; which, with respect to themselves, is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated”Read more...