Will you go to hell because your faith is not strong enough, or because your deeds were not good enough? This is the fundamental difference between Catholic and Protestant theology.

For centuries in Western Europe, Christianity was the Catholic Church — other than a few small outbreaks of “heretics,” there was no option. Then, along come Luther and then Calvin, and “protest-ism” was born. One of the fundamental tenets of “protest-ism” was that salvation was by faith alone (sola fide): If you believed in Christ, you would be saved from hell. There are no Christians in hell, despite Dante’s depiction.

So, this is great — we no longer have to worry about our deeds catching up with us, right?

But — and here’s the kicker — what if you don’t believe enough? All real Christians, the theory goes, will demonstrate love of God and fellow humans with everything they do. So, if you take the large piece of pie or let slip God’s name in vain, maybe you are not a Real Christian. And, since belief is actually a gift from God anyway, you may have been damned before you were born.

So, Protestants live anxiously hoping they believe enough, while Catholics live anxiously hoping they act appropriately.

I guess the choice is up to you.

TAKE AWAY: Maybe it’s not God’s will that you be fraught with anxiety at all.

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