I was wondering if y’all could review my argument and point out any flaws in it. I would appreciate it very much. I will be teaching an apologetics course at my local Parrish after Lent, and I might use this idea, if it stands up to scrutiny. Please be as honest and as thorough as you can in debunking this argument (but please be merciful with spelling and punctuation ;) )
If Sola Scriptura is correct, and if Martin Luther was correct in saying that even a plow boy could understand the Bible, then the Bible must be written in a plain and simple language that does not require an interpretive authority for understanding by the individual. If the Bible is written plainly and requires no authoritative interpretation, then the following passage is written plainly with no hidden meanings that need to be interpreted:
(James 2:14-26, RSV)
(14) What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? (17) So faith itself, if it has no works, is dead.*
(18) But some will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me you faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. (19) You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-- and shudder. (20) Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? (21) Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? (22) You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, (23) and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. (24) You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (25) And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? (26) For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.* If this passage is plainly and accurately written, then faith without works is dead (verses 17 & 26), then good works are essential to keeping one’s faith alive. If works are necessary to keep faith alive, then the doctrine of Sola Fide (by Faith Alone) is erroneous. If Sola Fide is erroneous, then Protestants have been in error, and have been teaching error, for almost 500 years. If Protestants have been teaching error, then they have been endangering human souls for almost 500 years.
If Sola Fide (by Faith Alone) is true, then James 2:14-26 cannot be interpreted plainly and cannot be read without an authority to explain why, when Scripture says, (verses 17,26) “faith without works is dead”, it does not mean that faith without works is dead. If Scripture cannot be taken at face value, then it must be interpreted by an authority that can explain why and how the obvious meaning is wrong, and that when Scripture says “faith without works is dead” it actually means that one can and should have faith without works. If an authority is needed to interpret Sacred Scripture, then the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (by Scripture Alone) is wrong. If the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is wrong, then Protestants have believed, and have taught, error for almost 500 years. If Protestants have been teaching error, then they have been endangering human souls for almost 500 years.