Personalities of the Reformers aside, there is something to this discussion that it seems many overlook when shoring up the battlements.
Both Protestants and Catholics agree that Sin, both original and actual have an effect on our soul. How we look at those effects does however seem to me to be very different.
From what I understand of Protestant beliefs generally, (Lutheran, Calvanist, Baptist, and the various “Evangelical” sects) Original sin, which is not our fault, but does effect us makes us Reprobate, so utterly unacceptable to God that He must reject us, and we are only worthy of Hell fire. When one is “Saved” he remains a pitiful sinner, unworthy of heaven, but Jesus’ life and passion blinds God’s ability to see how defective we are, and Jesus merits cover up or mask any and all sins past, present and future that we may commit, giving us a place in heaven, however unworthy we are.
Catholic Theology discusses Original Sin as the “Felix Culpa” or Happy Fault, for we sould not have come to know our Savior if sin had not entered into the world. That is to say, while the Stain of Original Sin and actual sin weaken our relationship with God, it does not cut us off from the ability to accept God’s graces totally, or make us completely reprobate. God sees in us the spark of goodness that He created in each soul, and allows us to not simply accept Jesus’ passion as a means of restoring our relationship with Him, but when we are engaged in a relationship with Him, He elevates our own actions by His grace so that they help us to grow in spirit, and progress in our relationship with Him. While we cannot on our own become worthy of heaven, as God’s free gift of Grace is always needed, we can through our efforts, united with Christ’s come closer to being worthy of heaven.
It seems “easier” to me to take the Protestant position, because in doing so one has very little responsibility. One is totally lost, and even after accepting Jesus, it is He who takes all responsibility for our Salvation. I’d like to be able to belive that and go along for the ride.
However I do believe as the Catholic Church teaches, that accepting Christ into my life rather than taking away responsibility, adds to my responsibility to grow in spirit, and cooperation with God’s will. Christ offers the lifeline to me, but I don’t just hold on, waiting for Him to pull me, unworthy that I am into heaven. Rather He throws me the lifeline, and gives me the encouragement to climb up to him, out of the stormy sea.