By grace alone through faith alone - why this is true and we should not fight this. Advice from Pope Benedict

The real point I think, is that it can be critical to get this stuff right :)-in order for the “fullness of faith” to prevail. Otherwise confusion easily can-and has-set in.

My instincts tell me you are still wearing the robe of Protestantism, to some degree, for a few of your statements point to their doctrines. Most of them will readily quote Ephesians 8-9, but completely omit verse 10.

Ephesians 2:8-10New International Version (NIV)

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

I am still unsure what you are striving to teach here, since you emphasize the “faith, no works” verses, and seem to deny verse 10, which is a solemn teaching of the Church. :confused:

Hi TaylorDonBarret, we are saved by faith FOR good works,
and these are two sides of the same coin.
See Eph. 2:8-9 We are also told to REPENT of our
dead works(Heb. 6:1), and to fast, pray and
give alms(Matt. 6), put Others first and to fear(respect)
and Love God.(Deut. 10:12)

This is exactly the point. The flowers are not necessary for the bed to be fertile. They are proof of fertility in soil and seed, but are not requirements for it. Do not confuse initial justification with the increase thereof. Initial justification is an instantaneous event in time which results from heartfelt faith alone. Increases in justification are produced by Baptism, good works (love of God and neighbor) and the Eucharist.

And the best of the Protestant theologians, including Luther and Calvin, agree with this.

Faith without love is mere intellectual assent. There are a few Protestant theologians who would claim that intellectual assent has the power of justification, but they are truly few. Neither Luther nor Calvin would have agreed with the idea that mental assent justifies, for they would say that “we are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” With St. Paul, they would say that saving faith is not merely “head knowledge”, but resides in the heart of a man. “For if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it if with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10. And in the context of St. James, the point is that works are necessary to prove the kind of faith -> “I will show you my faith by my works.” Justification is by a kind of faith that is in the heart of a man; good works that flow from it are necessary as evidence that the kind of faith in the man is not mere intellectual assent but is united to love in the heart.

Refer to the post quoted below.

Yes, we are first saved, and one of the reasons why we are saved is so that we can do good works on earth to the glory of God. But notice the process. Your saved first, and then once your saved, then you do the good works prepared for you. The good works do not come before the justification, but flow from it afterwards.


I realize many of the things I have asserted in these comments may appear “innovative” to you all. I do not have the time or the desire to provide citations for each and every single assertion. But if you have an objection to a particular one, let me know and I will provide you with the citation from a Church-approved source (a Council, a Pope, the Catechism, New Advent, etc.)

(P.S. I am not supporting Protestantism. I am supporting an Evangelical understanding of the gospel that is consistent with Church teaching.)

Per Catholic understanding, this is an incorrect analogy. The Flower Bed is fertile because of the cooperation between the bed and water. The work is in the combination. Initial justification is that process of combining. Not instantaneous but a tilling, a work.

Faith without love is mere intellectual assent. There are a few Protestant theologians who would claim that intellectual assent has the power of justification, but they are truly few. Neither Luther nor Calvin would have agreed with the idea that mental assent justifies, for they would say that “we are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” With St. Paul, they would say that saving faith is not merely “head knowledge”, but resides in the heart of a man. “For if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it if with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10. And in the context of St. James, the point is that works are necessary to prove the kind of faith -> “I will show you my faith by my works.” Justification is by a faith in the heart of man, good works that flow from it are necessary as evidences that the faith is not mere intellectual assent but is in fact united to love in the heart.

Then the word ‘alone’ should not be emphasized.

Yes, we are first saved, and the one of the reasons why we are saved is so that we can go good works on earth to the glory of God. but notice the process. your saved first, and once your saved, then you do the good works prepared for you. the good works do not come before the justification, but flow from it afterwards.

There are plenty of non-believers doing wonderful good work, some come to Christ through their good work. The good work is still good despite lack of faith, many protestants would say that such work is not good.

Generally, yes, I agree. But let’s not put God into a box and make no provisions for Him to bless and reward works done before justification, and which may in fact be causative.

The story of Cornelius is a good example. Acts 10:4, “Thy prayers and alms have gone up and been remembered in the sight of God.” And as a result, God sent Peter to bring him into the faith.
The story of Rahab is another good example, off the top of my head.

I think it’s beneficial to clarify too that faith is not the equivalent of justice for man, as if that’s all God desires of us. Rather we’re saved by faith- via faith- so the Church teaches that faith is the “beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all justification” (Council of Trent, ses 6, chap 8). Justice for man is most fully defined by the virtue of love (which is why the greatest commandments are what they are) and in any case is lacking without all three theological virtues being possessed: faith, hope, and love. And the reason that faith is so crucial is that it’s the beginning of restored direct relationship between man and God, of communion with Him, without which we are lost and can do nothing.

Let me reword post #21-properly this time:
The real point I think, is that it can be critical to get this stuff right -in order for the “fullness of truth” to prevail. Otherwise confusion easily can-and has-set in.

In regards the “cooperation” between man and God:
From the Council of Orange:

Canon 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

Canon 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism — if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.

Canon 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

Canon 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).

In regards the instantaneous nature of justification:
From ST. Thomas Aquinas:

“On the contrary, The justification of the ungodly is caused by the justifying grace of the Holy Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit comes to men’s minds suddenly, according to Acts 2:2: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind coming,” upon which the gloss says that “the grace of the Holy Ghost knows no tardy efforts.” Hence the justification of the ungodly is not successive, but instantaneous…Therefore the justification of the ungodly by God takes place in an instant.”

Certainly God will at times reward the good works of a non-Christian with either actual grace to draw them to salvation or sanctifying grace to give it to them. But that is not the point of contention when it comes to the evangelical nature of the gospel. What is at contention is whether “saving faith” is sufficient. And it is.

See my last comments above.

Yes, faith is the beginning and root of all justification. That means, once you have saving faith, you thus have acquired by your saving faith the reward of INITIAL justification. when the Church talks about “the root of all justification” it has in mind a beginning point, at which justice is established, from which additional justice may be attained. But justice has already been established with the arrival of saving faith in the heart of man. Such faith is impossible to come about but by sanctifying grace, and the presence of sanctifying grace provides both the principle effect of baptism (remission of sins) and the assurance that God will begin the process of sanctification and increasing justification.

Sanctification is also instantaneous. Why do you think Paul says, “You WERE washed, you WERE sanctified?”

Taylor, I’m sure you remember the Parable of the Talents.

The master gives one of his servants 5 talents, the other 2, and the last 1, before leaving and going on a journey. The servant with five talents trades with them and doubles them, as does the servant with two. But the servant with one goes and buries the talent in a hole.

When the master returns, he praises the servants who doubled their talents.

But…

24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘**You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. **28 Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

We are the servants in the parable. We do nothing to merit the grace God has given us. However, if we do not cooperate with His grace and bear fruit, He will cast us out on the last day.

TaylorDonBarret:

Sanctifying grace is the only requirement for supplying the principle effect of baptism, which is the forgiveness of sins. furthermore, baptism of desire does not occur only at death, but occurs simultaneously at the moment a person comes to love Jesus more than they love sin. i do not have time to get into providing citations for these things. but you . . .

Let’s break this down somewhat.

Sanctifying grace is the only requirement for supplying the principle effect of baptism . . .

Actually Baptism is the “gateway” to getting sanctifying grace.

. . . the principle effect of baptism, which is the forgiveness of sins. . . .

Don’t neglect Divine Sonship. Baptism gives us much more than mere “forgiveness of sins”.

furthermore, baptism of desire . . . occurs simultaneously at the moment a person comes to love Jesus more than they love sin

I wasn’t aware of this TaylorDonBarret. Could you give me a citation so I can read it in context? (Thanks in advance)

baptism of desire . . . occurs simultaneously at the moment a person comes to love Jesus more than they love sin.

(Emphasis mine)

I notice you DIDN’T say . . . .

baptism of desire . . . occurs simultaneously at the moment a person comes to faith in . . . .

So you are saying MORE than “faith” is necessary here? (I’m not necessarily disagreeing with this TaylorDonBarret. But “faith” and “love” can be natural virtues AND also be supernatural virtues too. I think a little more clarification is in order here by you as I am not quite sure what you mean here).

Yes, it is faith alone in Christ, as opposed to faith in the Mosaic Law. We don’t need the Mosiac Law, only faith in Christ. And because we have faith in Christ, we follow His Law, the law of Christ. And of course this is the law of love. Gal 6:2 and 1Cor 9:21.

That was not “sponsored” by Cardinal Ratzinger. Such joint statements belong to the joint commission that produced them alone and are submitted to the judgment of the Church. See here from Pope Benedict:

Nevertheless their proper significance should be recognized as a contribution offered to the competent Authority of the Church, which alone is called to judge them definitively. To ascribe to these texts a binding or as it were definitive solution to the thorny questions of the dialogues without the proper evaluation of the ecclesial Authority, would ultimately hinder the journey toward full unity in faith.

Cardinal Ratzinger, on behalf of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, provided the official response of the Church in this case, here:
vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_01081998_off-answer-catholic_en.html

It’s a good read as to the ambiguities that lead to the appearance of, but not real agreement. With regard to that very paragraph, he wrote in summation:

If, moreover, it is true that in those truths on which a consensus has been reached the condemnations of the Council of Trent non longer apply, the divergencies on other points must, on the contrary, be overcome before we can affirm, as is done generically in n.41, that these points no longer incur the condemnations of the Council of Trent.

This isn’t Catholic teaching however.

Different reward though.

They’re part of salvation, as it’s being worked out. Faith, hope, love, and the works that follow as a result are all gifts of grace, to name a few. Protestant theology is generally shallow in it’s understanding of soteriology. It’s a package deal, beginning with faith, then formally at Baptism, the “sacrament of faith”, then continuing throughout our lives as we demonstrate whether or not we actually are just based on the way we live our lives, based on whether or not we fulfill our Baptismal vows and continue to follow God. Then God judges it all in the end.

We’re obliged to be righteous, obliged to love IOW even though the obligation (the command), itself, cannot accomplish that goal within us. But we’re obliged by justice, by God, nonetheless in order to enter His Kingdom, as Scripture tells us that no sinners will enter heaven.

Exactly.

Faith must of course be sincere. It must be a faith that performs good works through love. If faith lacks love it is not true faith. Thus the Apostle bars the way of hypocrites to the kingdom of Christ on all sides. He declares on the one hand, “In Christ Jesus circumcision availeth nothing,” i.e., works avail nothing, but faith alone, and that without any merit whatever, avails before God. On the other hand, the Apostle declares that without fruits faith serves no purpose. To think, “If faith justifies without works, let us work nothing,” is to despise the grace of God. Idle faith is not justifying faith. In this terse manner Paul presents the whole life of a Christian. Inwardly it consists in faith towards God, outwardly in love towards our fellow-men.

. - Luther

The old Lutheran in me, not to mention the new Anglican, would disagree with this assertion.

 6. Accordingly, we also believe, teach, and confess that when it is said: The regenerate do good works from a free spirit, this is not to be understood as though it is at the option of the regenerate man to do or to forbear doing good when he wishes, and that he can nevertheless retain faith if he intentionally perseveres in sins  

bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#IV.%20Good%20Works.

Failure to do the good works He intends for us to do is sin. He expects it of His regenerate.

That’s right-and we know what sin earns us. Faith was never meant to be an excuse to remain in ones sin, or even some kind of automatic cover for sin in case we slip up. Those ideas easily lead to confusion about our status with God. The new covenant was never solely about the grace of* forgiveness* of sin, but also about the grace to overcome sin, and the* necessity* to do so the best we can, with that help.

Fair enough.

But, what do you mean when “we give Him our hearts in faith”?

To me, giving Him our hearts should mean that we follow Him, and that we follow His Law. Now, would following His Law be sometimes described as “works”?

Looking to Christ is something you do. It’s a work.
Entrusting yourself to Christ is something you do. It’s a work.
Being united to Christ is something you do. It’s a work.
Being conformed to Christ is something you do. It’s a work.

Faith IS a work, it’s something you do.

But it’s not a work of the Law.

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