A new and devastating quickie against Faith Alone?

I think I’ve come across a new and devastating simple argument against the Protestant doctrine of faith alone: We know that Paul says we are saved by “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) and that James says faith without love (works) is dead (James 2:24-26). Protestants answer these passages by saying that we aren’t saved without love because love always accompanies true faith. But can this be?

If love always accompanies true faith, this means that prior to justification, a person with true faith also has love for God. But a person who is unsaved by definition cannot have love for God, and thus the Protestant claim is false. This means that justification is what bestows love upon the believer, and that prior to justification the person only has dead faith. This means what saves us is ultimately the love we have, which can also be lost by mortal sin, and that faith alone isn’t enough. And thus the Protestant doctrine of Faith Alone is turned on its head, because they want “justified by faith” to mean “eternally saved by faith alone,” yet all Paul really means by this is “faith receives love,” and from there we must persevere in love to the end (Rom 13:8-14). :smiley:

IDK. I think a Calvinist, at least, would say that God’s first act, for the unbelieving elect, is complete regeneration. The person is justified and saved first, with the gift of a living faith the result rather than the cause. Sounds like putting the cart ahead of the horse but either way they’re always trying to work around the problem.

I’m not sure I entirely follow the argument there. My first Anglican church was very evangelical and believed in salvation through faith alone. We were always taught that love is the expression or evidence of faith. So a person wouldn’t have love for God before they have true faith. I’m not sure love and faith can be that clearly separated (which I think is what James is saying).

OP wondering here in this quiet place WHY you or anyone would even think of this? Make peace my friend,make peace and create bonds not war… Life and faith are precious and there is work to do. Blessings and peace this day and night, this dark and light,

Yes, it would be putting the cart before the horse. Why say we are “justified BY faith” if faith is actually a byproduct of being saved? The way they speak of regeneration prior to faith, it sounds as if they are speaking of what Catholics mean by justification. The term ‘re-generation’ means ‘born again’, and thus is speaking of adoption as children of God.

Love and faith would have to be separated if you cannot have love until after justification.

First of all, it’s a logical priority not a temporal priority. It’s all instantaneous. Justification is one part of salvation, from a Reformed perspective.

I think the logical/temporal distinction may also rescue the Lutheran/Arminian version of sola fide in which faith logically precedes regeneration. There is never a “moment” in which a person has faith without love. But faith logically leads to justification which leads to regeneration, all at the same time.

Edwin

Your first post said that love accompanies faith, not succeeds it. I don’t see why they have to be separated, it feels like a false dichotomy to me.

If you’re saying that love is infused alongside though independent of justification, I think that begs the question from a Biblical standpoint. To say faith, justification, sanctification, regeneration, love, adoption, etc, happen at the same time poses both problems and hope. For one, if Union with Christ by faith roughly corresponds to Catholic Justification, then the whole “justification by faith alone” debate becomes kind of becomes moot, since for Protestants justification is merely one ‘effect’ of the bigger category of Union.

Love and Faith are not the same, and it’s impossible for one to be unjustified and have Love, while it is possible to be unjustified and have Faith. There’s no point in becoming justified if you already have love for God.

The church has always taught that faith can exist without love:

Augustine: "Without love faith may indeed exist but avails nothing."

St Paul: **"…if I have a faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing."

            "Now these three remain, faith hope, and love, but the most important of these is     love".** (both from 1 Cor 13)

St James; “Even the demons believe, and tremble.” James 2

True, saving faith can exist without love?

I think what fhansen is referring to is that faith either with or without love is “true” it’s just that one is “saving” while the other is not.

Faith accompanied by love is saving but faith without love is non-saving – both faiths are “true”

Contarini. You mentioned . . .

QUOTE:

There is never a “moment” in which a person has faith without love.

We were just discussing this situation on another therad (here is a post from that thread).

QUOTE:
[INDENT]
**1st CORINTHIANS 13:2-3, 13 ** 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. . . . . 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

And notice what St. Paul DOESN’T say . . .

NOT 1st CORINTHIANS 13:2-3, 13 but a phantom verse 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, why this would be ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE.

And St. Paul doesn’t say this either . . . . . .

NOT 1st CORINTHIANS 13:2-3, 13 Another phantom verse 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. . . . . 13 So faith, hope, love don’t abide this kind of faith, because this is merely a “fake faith”.

No!

St. Paul tells you in this context to ABIDE by this faith!

So we KNOW its not a “fake faith” he is talking about here . . . . [/INDENT]

St. Paul warns there IS the potential for faith without love.

God bless.

Cathoholic

Well, “saving faith” is a more novel concept. Traditionally the church has separated the three theological virtues, with faith meaning *intellectual assent *to the truths of the faith while hope means *trust/confidence *in those truths and the promises surrounding them, while love is sort of the goal, the epitome of it all, the place where faith is meant to ultimately lead to. In common usage, however, it has been normal to use the term “faith” to mean placing one’s hope in/trust in/reliance upon God. Love may or may not get center stage depending on one’s theology and understanding of the gospel.

I don’t think it’s controversial to suggest that a person who is unsaved does not yet have the love of God infused into them. They can have faith prior to being saved, since this is needed to draw them to salvation, but it doesn’t make sense to say they also have love here.

The problem is that you’re imposing the Catholic view (faith exists by itself, then love is infused) onto the Protestant view (faith and love are both gifts of God and never exist without each other) and then declaring that the Protestant view doesn’t make sense. Of course if you start with the assumption that the beginning of faith and the beginning of love must be separate in time, then you will wind up with that conclusion.

Living faith, for Protestants, is one indivisible thing. When you begin to have faith you begin to have love. Period. There is no “infusing” that happens at some point after a person have faith in response to faith. That’s the Catholic position, not the Protestant position.

Edwin

I was describing the Protestant position. This was indeed one of the points on which I remained soteriologically Protestant long after I had abandoned other Protestant objections to Catholicism, but I submit to the judgment of the Church. I think that the language can be (and has been, by recent Popes) reframed to reflect Protestant insights, but clearly there is some kind of faith that is in some sense genuine even when it exists without love. Church teaching is clear on this.

QUOTE:
[INDENT]
**1st CORINTHIANS 13:2-3, 13 ** 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. . . . . 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

And notice what St. Paul DOESN’T say . . .

NOT 1st CORINTHIANS 13:2-3, 13 but a phantom verse 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, why this would be ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE.

And St. Paul doesn’t say this either . . . . . .

NOT 1st CORINTHIANS 13:2-3, 13 Another phantom verse 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. . . . . 13 So faith, hope, love don’t abide this kind of faith, because this is merely a “fake faith”.

No!

St. Paul tells you in this context to ABIDE by this faith!

So we KNOW its not a “fake faith” he is talking about here . . . . [/INDENT]

St. Paul warns there IS the potential for faith without love.

God bless.

Cathoholic

Yes, this is the strongest Biblical argument against the Protestant position. You are quite right to focus on this–I think Catholics tend to put far too much weight on James, because Protestants can argue that James means something different by “faith” than Paul does. But it’s more problematic to suggest that 1 Corinthians means something different by “faith” than Galatians or Romans, though it’s possible I suppose.

It is certainly possible that Paul is making a “per impossibile” argument here, describing what faith without love would be worth (nothing) if it existed. But nothing about the context necessarily points to such a rhetorical device, and the way faith, hope, and love are distinguished at the end of the chapter also, as you note, supports the Catholic view.

Again, I was describing the Protestant position and why the OP’s “quickie” doesn’t work against it. Your argument is much stronger.

I have in fact said for years that Biblically (largely because of this passage) the Catholic position is stronger, but pastorally the Protestant position seems to “work” better. Hence my statement above that recent Popes are right to try to find ways in which the pastoral force of the Protestant position can be reconciled with Catholic teaching.

Edwin

Well, faith, hope, and love/charity, are all divinely infused gift in Catholicism. To say “living faith” is one indivisible thing seems neither Biblical nor does it make sense of the distinction between faith and love. When Scripture says God is justifying a sinner, or “justifying the ungodly” (Rom 4:5), I don’t see how this is compatible with God justifying someone who already loves Him.

I think there is plainly a distinction in time between when a person hears the Gospel and when a person embraces the Gospel by faith, and also a distinction with after they’ve accepted the Gospel, wherein they receive blessings they didn’t have prior to accepting it.

And in my experience, FWIW, faith is easier to receive and cultivate than love. Love is more of a target, the ultimate goal, even as we can grow in faith and hope as well. I think it makes sense that faith is the beginning of it all, following grace, but that love doesn’t necessarily follow. But then this, of course, begins to separate out the elements of man’s justice, which means faith, alone, might not justify-a very divisive notion I’d bet. :slight_smile:

. . . . I was describing the Protestant position and why the OP’s “quickie” doesn’t work against it.

Fair enough. Thanks for the feedback Contarini.

Yes, I’d agree that intellectual assent and saving faith are separate - nobody would argue that the demons who ‘believe and tremble’ are saved by that faith (even if their intellectual understand would be more complete than many people’s would).

The OP was suggesting that this dismantles the Protestant idea of salvation by faith alone. As a Protestant, I was taught that no (true) faith exists without love - as your quotes demonstrate - and so the argument doesn’t seem to work.

I’m still not convinced that, even if these separate theological virtues can be identified, they can be so surgically removed from one another in real life.

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