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.
Here is a paragraph taken from the Book of Concord:
Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam [Romans 5:12], all who are naturally born are born with sin [Psalm 51:5], that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence. Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin. It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit. [John 3:5]. Our churches condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original sin, thus obscuring the glory of Christ’s merit and benefits. Pelagians argue that a person can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.
AC II 1-3
When you have said
You made the accusation by saying that Salvation’s like a “Get Out of Jail Free Card.” It Here is another article from the Book of Concord:
Our churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works. People are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. By His death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins. God counts this faith for righteousness in His sight (Romans 3 and 4 [3:21-26; 4:5])
AC IV 1-3
Here’s another good article; again from the Book of Concord:
I do not know how to change in the least what I have previously and constantly taught about justification. Namely, that through faith, as St. Peter says, we have a new and clean heart [Acts 15:9-11], and God will and does account us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator [1 Timothy 2:5]. Although sin in the flesh has not yet been completely removed or become dead [Romans 7:18], yet He will not punish or remember it. Such faith, renewal, and forgiveness of sins are followed by good works [Ephesians 2:8-9]. What is still sinful or imperfect in them will not be counted as sin or defect, for Christ’s sake [Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 4:7-8]. The entire individual, both his person and his works, is declared to be righteous and holy from pure grace and mercy, shed upon us and spread over us in Christ. Therefore, we cannot boast of many merits and works, if they are viewed apart from grace and mercy. As it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31);namely, that he has a gracious God. For with that, all is well. We say, besides, that if good works do not follow, the faith is false and not true.
SA III XIII 1-4