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  #1  
Old Jun 26, '12, 7:08 am
Gethsemane Gethsemane is offline
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Default Is this heresy?

I was recently considering different ways in which I might combat those of the view that it is faith alone that saves us, and that a turning away from sin is not necessary therefore, to be saved, since this is viewed as working ones salvation out instead of simply having faith.

I came up with a new response that is a departure from ones typical response to this. In this hypothetical situation, I would argue that we are saved by neither faith nor works. That it is Christ's sacrifice on the Cross for all our sins that ultimately saves us. We choose whether we accept or reject this sacrifice. Should we accept it, then we are called to believe (faith), and if we really believe then it will follow from our faith that we do good works.

It seems to me that the argument against works alone can be applied to faith alone, since it seems as though faith is what we offer to God in exchange for salvation, but that isn't so. There is nothing we could ever do to deserve or "earn" our salvation. Both faith and good works are gifts of God and originate in the Holy Spirit, not us.

I am grieved, however, for my use and emphasis on the sacrifice of Christ implies that we are saved through grace alone, and I am uncertain that the Church actually teaches this. So, is this heresy?
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  #2  
Old Jun 26, '12, 7:21 am
TimothyH TimothyH is offline
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Default Re: Is this heresy?

I think you are close. It's all God's doing.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. (Phillipians 2:13)
God want's faith, but he wants all of our faith. He wants the fullness of our faith. He want's faith-fullness. Being faithful - actually doing what is required of us - is the fullness of faith.

I don't disagree with people who say faith saves us. I say "Amen!" but then ask how much faith is required. A little? A lot? Or is the fullness of faith - faithfullness - what is required?

But it's all God's doing - both the faith and the work.


-Tim-
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  #3  
Old Jun 26, '12, 7:43 am
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sw85 sw85 is offline
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Default Re: Is this heresy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gethsemane View Post
I was recently considering different ways in which I might combat those of the view that it is faith alone that saves us, and that a turning away from sin is not necessary therefore, to be saved, since this is viewed as working ones salvation out instead of simply having faith.

I came up with a new response that is a departure from ones typical response to this. In this hypothetical situation, I would argue that we are saved by neither faith nor works. That it is Christ's sacrifice on the Cross for all our sins that ultimately saves us. We choose whether we accept or reject this sacrifice. Should we accept it, then we are called to believe (faith), and if we really believe then it will follow from our faith that we do good works.

It seems to me that the argument against works alone can be applied to faith alone, since it seems as though faith is what we offer to God in exchange for salvation, but that isn't so. There is nothing we could ever do to deserve or "earn" our salvation. Both faith and good works are gifts of God and originate in the Holy Spirit, not us.

I am grieved, however, for my use and emphasis on the sacrifice of Christ implies that we are saved through grace alone, and I am uncertain that the Church actually teaches this. So, is this heresy?
We are in fact saved by grace alone, but grace alone is not the same thing as faith alone.

Personally, I don't find the faith/works distinction very meaningful. It's a product of nominalist (i.e., Protestant) reductionism. What in this formula constitutes "faith" and what "works"? Is "faith" simply assent (i.e., the unchosen intuition that God exists and understanding of all this entails) and "works" something you do in addition to that assent? But if that's the case, if faith alone saves, why isn't Satan saved? Satan understands that God exists. He assents to it. He knows firsthand that God exists. So clearly assent alone is not sufficient, and grace means assent plus something else. It seems Catholics and Protestants wind up disagreeing about what "something else" means, the only difference is that Catholics are honest about what they think "grace" entails and Protestants are confused and incoherent.

Perhaps "something else" is simply trust. In other words, not a mere recognition that X is true but adherence of the will to that truth. Under nominalist presuppositions, that sure sounds like a work to me, i.e., something you do to appropriate salvation. For Catholics (who believe that faith = trust in the truth of God), this isn't a problem because we see the faith/works distinction as kind of bogus.

Faith and works are inextricably intertwined, in much the same way that a man is inseparable from his legs. True, a man doesn't need legs to be a man (i.e., he'd still be a man if he lost them or was born without them), but that doesn't mean his legs are something else (and it certainly doesn't mean his legs are irrelevant and that he should cut them off). If you see a man standing on the street corner, you wouldn't say "Hey, see that man over there, standing on top of that pair of unsevered legs?" That'd be silly. The legs are him. They are a natural and logical fulfillment of him. To be a man is to (normatively) have legs.

Really, let's zoom out the lens a little. For me, "to be" and "to be a man" are the same thing. You cannot separate my being from my being a man, except etymologically. Being a man is the mode of my being. And so "works" are the mode of faith, the way that faith is actualized in our life. That means prayer, worship, the sacraments, etc. You can't separate them, again, except etymologically (and even then, not without introducing problems like the one mentioned above).
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  #4  
Old Jun 26, '12, 8:18 am
jschutzm jschutzm is offline
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Default Re: Is this heresy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gethsemane View Post
I was recently considering different ways in which I might combat those of the view that it is faith alone that saves us, and that a turning away from sin is not necessary therefore, to be saved, since this is viewed as working ones salvation out instead of simply having faith.
I haven't YET ran into a Protestant which would say that one doesn't have to turn away from sin. That perhaps sounds more along the lines of an extreme form of Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS) but even those who believe in that typically involve 'works' in a sorta backward kinda way.

They will often say that if one TRULY has faith, then they will of course, produce works, because works are the fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. And that if a person does NOT have any good deeds..then their faith is not genuine and they aren't a "TRUE Christian"

So I have yet to find a Protestant who doesn't in one way or another, either using the backdoor or the side door... make room for works, even though they do their best to downplay them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gethsemane View Post
I came up with a new response that is a departure from ones typical response to this. In this hypothetical situation, I would argue that we are saved by neither faith nor works. That it is Christ's sacrifice on the Cross for all our sins that ultimately saves us. We choose whether we accept or reject this sacrifice. Should we accept it, then we are called to believe (faith), and if we really believe then it will follow from our faith that we do good works.
.............

If it helps.. I've heard it put this way....


We are saved through grace (avoid "grace alone" but definitely emphasize 'through grace')
Q: What is Grace?
A: An undeserved gift

Q: What is one thing we know universally about gifts?
A: They must be accepted...they can not be forced, or else they are not a gift.

Q: What is involved in 'accepting' something?
A: Responding positively in some way, shape, or form.

Therefore, Grace requires a 'response' from the individual in order to be received. - This is important for the Protestant to agree with, because then it flows naturally for mankind to try and determine HOW exactly, one responds.
By a mere intellectual assent (knowledge)? A one time decision? A spiritual faith and nothing else? By deeds alone but never actually acknowledging it? HOW?

If we merely believe.. but don't actually LIVE by the teachings of Christ, then we could be accused of being a hypocrite or like the Pharisees. If we do all the right things but never actually acknowledge the gift, then we are arrogant and like a person who acts like everything is OK, but never says they are sorry.

It is clear from the bible that WHAT God wants is a response that involves ALL of us.. our entire body. Mind, Body, and Spirit. That we have faith, love and works.
That is the best and fullest response that we can have.

We should believe in Christ's sacrifice (faith), learn and grow in knowledge (mind) and live out the principles that Christ taught us (works)

You can go on to say that each of those re-enforce the others. That what we do influences what we think and feel and what we think and feel influences what we do with our bodies.
But hopefully you won't have to hit them over the head with all that. Hopefully.. if they've been agreeing with you all alone.. they won't be able to argue with the conclusion.

End with "Or as Galatians 5:6 puts it... "faith working through love" - that one phrase contains ALL 3 essential elements. Faith, Love, Works or our faith doing work through and because of our love.

Amen!
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  #5  
Old Jun 26, '12, 10:30 am
revert_jen revert_jen is offline
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Default Re: Is this heresy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sw85 View Post
Personally, I don't find the faith/works distinction very meaningful. It's a product of nominalist (i.e., Protestant) reductionism.
Yours was a really good post, but I feel compelled to point out that the original debates about nominalism took place before there were any Protestants. Also, not all protestants are nominalists.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sw85 View Post
What in this formula constitutes "faith" and what "works"? Is "faith" simply assent (i.e., the unchosen intuition that God exists and understanding of all this entails) and "works" something you do in addition to that assent? But if that's the case, if faith alone saves, why isn't Satan saved? Satan understands that God exists. He assents to it. He knows firsthand that God exists. So clearly assent alone is not sufficient, and grace means assent plus something else.
That's a good argument, and if it sounds familiar to people, it's because there is a summarized version in James.

"You believe God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder." (Jas 2:19)

In fact, there is a lot that is relevant in James. We should probably all read our Bibles more.

I think the thing that really catches how Grace does all, but works are still necessary, is that nobody ever did a single good work without God's help. We have free will: we can choose not to do good works even as God is holding out to us the grace to enable us to perform them. But even aside from the fact that we have neither life nor will nor power at all if God doesn't sustain us and the whole universe, the wisdom to know a good work, the grace to desire to do it, and the strength to carry out that desire all come from God. Our sole part is agreeing to accept God's will and God's help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sw85 View Post
It seems Catholics and Protestants wind up disagreeing about what "something else" means, the only difference is that Catholics are honest about what they think "grace" entails and Protestants are confused and incoherent.
I think that not all Protestant theologians can be confused and incoherent on this issue. If you are talking about the descriptions given by individual Protestants, well, I have heard some pretty confused and incoherent descriptions of theological position by Catholics as well. (Ever hear the old chestnut about being "personally opposed to abortion but pro-choice?") We need to be fair to our separated brethren as well.

--Jen
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  #6  
Old Jun 26, '12, 10:48 am
Zeno11 Zeno11 is offline
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Default Re: Is this heresy?

I would recommend this most thought provoking sermon from St Leonard on the subject of being saved; I warn you, it is entitled 'The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved'. It is food for thought for all those people who think they are saved already, just by their baptism.


http://olrl.org/snt_docs/fewness.shtml
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