Analyzing "faith with works" belief


#1

I have been wanting to refute the Protestant Sola Fide belief firmly. This is what I end up currently.

Romans 4:5
However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

The “work” mentioned here means “works of the Mosaic law” right, which is being abolished by St. Paul. That is what is explained by one Catholic source. And I suppose that’s in context. Right?

Ephesians 2:8
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

This says faith is the requirement to be saved. It is the merit of God when a Christian does good works. But does not agree with Sola Fide, because of the following.

James 2:24
You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

In Christian teaching, the Bible is inerrant. So to reconcile this seemingly contradictory verse to the earlier.

I summarized it that:

The Christian needs to have both faith, and works being done by the Christian but it is not counted as merit for the Christian who worked, but the work is counted as a merit of God instead, although the Christian did the work. And the “work” mentioned in Romans is the Mosaic law. Is this right?

Also, what exactly is the Catholic belief on salvation with faith? I researched some articles but, they are confusing. One says they also believe in Sola Fide except that the Protestant version is intellectual affirmation only and not alongside works. One seem to say it is indeed faith and works working together. One says it is by grace though grace is not alone and needs faith and works. One seem to say not charity works but the work to avoid sin.


#2

Souldiver

The faith vs. works debate is often, though misleadingly, presented as a case of Paul vs. James. Not only James 2:24, which you quote, but several other passages as well, including this one:

*My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. *(James 5:19-20)

James 5:20 is a verse that Calvinists and other faith-aloners find particularly unsettling, since it seems to contradict their assertion that nothing we do through own efforts can merit God’s blessing. But there is a verse in Paul that is in full agreement with James on this point:

*Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you. *(1 Tim. 4:16)


#3

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. 13 For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will. 14 And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations;

CCC 162 Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: “Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.”44 To live, grow, and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith;45 it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.46 (2089, 1037, 2016, 2573, 2849)


#4

I think you are on the right track. I also would reference St. Paul’s discussion of faith, hope, and charity: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13). If faith is all we need for salvation, then there is a problem with this passage…what could be more important than our salvation? Yet St. Paul is saying that it is of lesser importance than love!


#5

If you really want to refute it then simply point out to the Protestant in question that he doesn’t for a second believe in sola fide. What we call cooperation with grace some sects call Lordship Salvation, some call progressive sanctification and others call “showing forth the salvation you already have”, but every Protestant denomination believes in works as an element to salvation. They will say salvation is a one time event followed on by a lifetime of sanctification because their sects demand they be saved on their own with no help from the church, but they at the heart of the matter believe salvation is ongoing and grace is received over a lifetime and this is lived out through works.

They will say works don’t add to their salvation, and by this they mean that our works don’t improve the work of Christ, but Catholics don’t believe that either so that’s really not a problem. Just point out to them that they don’t believe that they get to sin all they want after being saved too and sola fide immediately falls completely apart.

God bless.


#6

Thanks for the posts. I hope I get more posts.


#7

We are saved for works. Jesus is going to ask:

  • did you clothe Me? - help others get free from others’ apron-strings
  • did you visit Me?
  • did you feed Me? - help others get substance from Scriptures to help them grow and trust God in the midst of life’s turmoil

Thoughtful Protestants are as Bogeydogg describes. Unfortunately there are lots of very vocal ones that carry on denying these things. Some “Bible Christians” aren’t “Bible Christians”!


#8

John Martignoni has a great series of videos called “Questions Protestants Can’t Answer”. One I just saw recently was about forgiving others.

The question he posed is this: Can a person be saved who refuses to forgive others?

The problem for those who believe in sola fide is that forgiveness is an action, a work. But it is REQUIRED for us to be saved.

Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

There are many more just like that. Even the Our Father proclaims it. We are required to forgive others. And if we don’t we will not be saved. But if a sola fide believer admits this, they admit that a work is required for salvation.


#9

If the devil believes, why is he in hell?


#10

The only place in the bible where the words faith and alone appear together is in James- faith without works is dead, and man is justified by works and not faith alone.

In Romans 3, Luther literally inserted the word alone in his translation.

Matthew 25, sheeps and goats, is also pretty sobering.


#11

that is, it turns out that faith and works - are inseparable.


#12

Try this… TheBibleCatholic.com Scroll down a bit and click the audio button for John Martignoni’s talk on this subject. It’s about as clear as it gets.


#13

I found Jimmy Akin’s take on this issue to be revealing. Actually, I don’t even think about this issue that much anymore and leave salvation in God’s hands. The problem with this debate for me is that it is old and beaten to death. And really it is unenlightening in terms of how we live the faith. I prefer to look at the big picture rather than polarizing arguments. There is now a joint declaration on justification between The Catholic Church and the Lutherans. So there has been progress on this issue which previously divided us.

Also, in Jimmy Akin’s article he talks about how Catholics can accept “faith alone” when it is the right kind of faith, which is equivalent to Protestants who say that you have to have a saving faith that leads to repentance and works.

ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/SOLAFIDE.htm


#14

End quote: It is not scriptural.


#15

What are you talking about?


#16

Sola fide.


closed #17

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.