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  #1  
Old Sep 1, '10, 3:39 pm
Marc Anthony's Avatar
Marc Anthony Marc Anthony is offline
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Default Ephesians 2

Ah, Ephesians 2. The famous "faith alone" quote.

Here's my question: When people point out Ephesians 2, the quick Catholic response seems to me to always point to the letter of James.

So, how does a Catholic interpret Ephesians 2 in a way that does not signify that salvation comes from faith alone and not through works?
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  #2  
Old Sep 1, '10, 3:58 pm
James224 James224 is offline
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Default Re: Ephesians 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
Ah, Ephesians 2. The famous "faith alone" quote.

Here's my question: When people point out Ephesians 2, the quick Catholic response seems to me to always point to the letter of James.

So, how does a Catholic interpret Ephesians 2 in a way that does not signify that salvation comes from faith alone and not through works?
I'll just give you the answer to how works save us: We have to have Faith and Works but the Works must be done (IN) God's grace. Eph 2:8-9 speaks of Works done APART from God's grace so they cannot save us.
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  #3  
Old Sep 1, '10, 4:43 pm
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Randy Carson Randy Carson is offline
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Default Re: Ephesians 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
Ah, Ephesians 2. The famous "faith alone" quote.

Here's my question: When people point out Ephesians 2, the quick Catholic response seems to me to always point to the letter of James.

So, how does a Catholic interpret Ephesians 2 in a way that does not signify that salvation comes from faith alone and not through works?
Ephesians 2:8-10 – “Not by Works”

Ephesians 2:8-10
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Amen! Catholics agree that we are saved by grace and not by works. In this passage, Paul is not pitting works against faith, and the passage never tries to focus on the inner workings of justification. He is pitting works against grace (notice the use of the preposition “by”, twice)! This verse says that we are saved by grace; that even the faith we have is a gracious gift; and that the works we do are nothing to boast of because they too are a gracious gift. It is all grace through and through, from beginning to end.

However, the word “alone” does not appear anywhere in this passage. We are not saved by “faith alone” as James points out clearly in James 2:24.

For more details:

"NOT BY WORKS"
By James Akin
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9706chap.asp

Faith and Works
By Jimmy Akin
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1999/9909chap.asp


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  #4  
Old Sep 1, '10, 5:05 pm
James224 James224 is offline
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Default Re: Ephesians 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Carson View Post
Ephesians 2:8-10 – “Not by Works”

Ephesians 2:8-10
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Amen! Catholics agree that we are saved by grace and not by works. In this passage, Paul is not pitting works against faith, and the passage never tries to focus on the inner workings of justification. He is pitting works against grace (notice the use of the preposition “by”, twice)! This verse says that we are saved by grace; that even the faith we have is a gracious gift; and that the works we do are nothing to boast of because they too are a gracious gift. It is all grace through and through, from beginning to end.

However, the word “alone” does not appear anywhere in this passage. We are not saved by “faith alone” as James points out clearly in James 2:24.

For more details:

"NOT BY WORKS"
By James Akin
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9706chap.asp

Faith and Works
By Jimmy Akin
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1999/9909chap.asp


I agree with you but I would say we are not saved by "Works Alone". We are saved by Faith and Works but neither one "Alone". Matter of fact, of the 33 canons on Justification put out by the Council of Trent, the very first one says, "
If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema."
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  #5  
Old Sep 1, '10, 6:37 pm
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po18guy po18guy is offline
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Default Re: Ephesians 2

It is good to remember that, in all of Paul's letters, his reference to "works" often means the works of the Mosaic law, or also may refer to the sacrifices that were required in some of the Greek religions of the day. Ephesians was written with a definite purpose in mind, but that purpose is not spelled out in the letter. It is surmised that at least part of its inspiration was in response to the Greek and JEwish religions conflicting with Christian practice and belief. As well,the works of charity are often referred to as "deeds", perhaps to separate them from works, which were how the Jews obtained righteousness.
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  #6  
Old Sep 2, '10, 8:46 am
Catholic Dude Catholic Dude is offline
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Default Re: Ephesians 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
Ah, Ephesians 2. The famous "faith alone" quote.

Here's my question: When people point out Ephesians 2, the quick Catholic response seems to me to always point to the letter of James.

So, how does a Catholic interpret Ephesians 2 in a way that does not signify that salvation comes from faith alone and not through works?
This apologetics article does precisely what you're looking for:

http://sites.google.com/site/catholicdefense/eph2

It pulls the rug from out under the Protestant.
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  #7  
Old Sep 2, '10, 9:42 am
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EricFilmer EricFilmer is offline
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Default Re: Ephesians 2

Does anyone actually believe that works have no place in the practice of faith?

Generally speaking, it has been my observation that all Christians believe that works are a component of faith, it's just that some do not realize it or are unwilling to admit it. The real debate comes down to exactly what sort of works are important. Ask any Christian (Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox) how one is saved and you will see that the description will inevitably include things that one must do. If we have to do something, then that is a "work."

For example, am I to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior? If so, then "accepting Jesus" is the work I must do. Am I to believe in the promise of the gospels and put my trust in God? If so, then "believing" and "trusting" are the works I must do. Am I to be baptized? If so, then baptism is the work I must do. And so on and so on. Those who disagree with this either believe that everyone is automatically saved (which is contrary to what the Bible teaches about hell being populated) or they believe in predestination. Everyone else embraces the belief that we are to do some sort of work.

As a side note, someone once argued against my point by saying that a baby who dies has no way of doing any works. So let me clarify that I am speaking in terms of the "ordinary ways" in which we participate in God's plan of salvation. As the Church teaches, God operates in "extraordinary ways" as well, which we can realistically presume to include a plan of salvation for babies and people with mental handicaps who are prevented, by no fault of their own, from performing the works generally associated with the practice of the Christian Faith.

The real issue that becomes a problem is the belief that by works we can merit our own salvation. This is what Catholics are often accused of, but it is not a true representation of Catholic belief. Rather, it is the sacrifice of Christ that provides salvation. But salvation is a gift of love, and therefore we must be free to accept or reject it. The good works described in the gospels, and the sacraments are examples of the "works" we can do to accept this gift, and participate in the grace it provides. Faith is a gift from God, but one we are expected to put into practice after having received it.

And just to make sure I am "on topic" here, let me add that when St. Paul refers to being freed from the works of the Law (in Ephesians and elsewhere), he is referring to the customary requirement for a Jew to observe the Law of Moses. The Catholic Church officially interprets which parts of the Law of Moses are still binding on Christians (example, you can have a ham sandwich but you must still follow the Ten Commandmants). But in any event, we are to acknowledge that salvation comes through Jesus Christ and not by the practice of the Law of Moses.

It is also worth noting that Ephesians does not say "through faith alone" but simply "through faith." The concept of adding "alone" to the text comes through the Protestant tradition.
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Last edited by EricFilmer; Sep 2, '10 at 9:55 am.
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  #8  
Old Sep 2, '10, 9:52 am
thirdworld thirdworld is offline
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Default Re: Ephesians 2

I believe these verses are a little clearer on the faith vs. works topic:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

James 2:14-18 (NIV)
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  #9  
Old Sep 2, '10, 10:57 am
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Serafina17 Serafina17 is offline
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Default Re: Ephesians 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
Ah, Ephesians 2. The famous "faith alone" quote.

Here's my question: When people point out Ephesians 2, the quick Catholic response seems to me to always point to the letter of James.

So, how does a Catholic interpret Ephesians 2 in a way that does not signify that salvation comes from faith alone and not through works?
I always explain this to a non-Catholic friend by explaining the salvation process that Catholics believe in. That we have been saved, we are being saved, and have hope in our future salvation. (All of which are supported by the Bible). Eph. 2:8-9 are talking about the 'have been saved' part. There is nothing we could 'do' to earn that initial justification, it is 'not of ourselves'.

Also, something I learned from Gary Michuta, is to NOT go directly to James when Ephesians is quoted at you. Your protestant will look at James through the eyes of their interpretation of Ephesians. You have to first explain the Catholic understanding of Ephesians (which they think trumps all other Catholic 'works' verses, for some reason), then show how James supports your interpretation.
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