Can you see any flaws?


#1

Hello,

        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.
    

OR

        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.

#2

You’re asking the wrong people for answers.

Go to a nice protestant site, post your arguments, and they’ll sniff out logical defects lickety-split.


#3

After having read numerous posts here, I think there are some wonderful apologists here that can spot a problem area lickety split as well. I wouldn’t mind some helpful critiques of this idea, just to polish it up. Also, someone else my have stated something similiar in the past and are already familiar with the argument.

In His Mercy


#4

Not bad…it will lead to further discussion…or you will be burned at the stake. :thumbsup:


#5

Church Militant…I don’t mind being burned at the stake, 'cause I like my stake well done :smiley:


#6

[quote=Styree](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? *

*(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. *
[/quote]

If it were so easy, Luther would have been a footnote in history.

They make a distinction between real faith, which they say always is accompanied by works, and a false faith that has no power to save. So, in v. 14 “his faith” is not what they would call “real” faith.

Therefore, they get to eat their sola fide cake with sola scripture icing.
If that interpretation is not so plain to you, don’t forget, either, that Luther wanted to keep the plow boys away from James by deleting it from his canon of the NT.


#7

[quote=Styree] 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.
[/quote]

Suggestion; never “semi-quote”, you give an accurate assessment of Luther but show no reference. Quote him, don’t paraphrase him. He is indeed wrong, show them where.


#8

Thanks Tom, I will make the correction on my original.

Thanks JohnPaul0, but would you have a source for their interpretation? I suppose that I will have to answer that statement.

Thanks Guys, I really appreciate your input :thumbsup:


#9

Ok, JohnPaulO I have modified my argument to answer the idea that Faith originates good works to answer the idea that somehow faith necessitates good works.

          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. **In addition, verse 22 explicitly states *“You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works****, ***which shows that faith and works exist in a sort of symbiotic relationship. Works must be present to complete faith, thus faith alone is not, in itself, sufficient for salvation as it is dependent on something external to itself for it to be “alive”.  If works originated in faith, then faith would indeed be sufficient unto itself, as it would supply the necessary works to keep itself alive.  As verse 19 demonstrates, demons have faith in God, one might say they have an absolute faith, but that does not generate good works and a man practicing Sola Fide is likened to such creatures. Also the analogy of verse 26 shows, faith and works can exist without each other and do not necessarily give rise, or generate the other. A body can exist without a spirit, but it is a corpse, and a spirit can exist without a body, but it is a ghost. Mere matter does not create spirit, and an spirit (other than the creator) does not create matter.  But for life to be present, the two separate elements of body and spirit must coexist. For true righteousness to exist, the two separate elements of faith and works must also coexist ( see verses 22 and 23).  **If this 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.

#10

I don’t have a clickable reference for you, but here is a quote from the late Paul E. Little’s book “Know What You Believe”, copyright 1985, page 144:
"At first sight, the Epistle of James appears to disagree [with Sola Fide]: ‘What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can [such] faith save him?..Ye see then how by works a man is justified, and not by faith only’ (James 2:14, 24).
“The ‘faith’ James criticizes is ‘head belief’–mere intellectual assent to facts. Such ‘faith’ does not lead to holy living and hence is worthless, or ‘dead’ (James 2:20). It has no saving value. When we read about ‘faith’ in the other epistles, wholehearted trust in Christ is in view. This is the faith on the basis of which God credits a believer with righteousness and which leads its possessor to want a holy life.”

Points for you to ponder:

  1. I agree with you that verse 22 is the key because it clearly states that faith only becomes “completed” by works. It directly points out the Protestant omission of the fact that faith is not “completed” --dare we say “real”–without works. And the passage doesn’t describe works merely as a sign of faith but as a necessary ingredient, with faith, in our salvation.

  2. I don’t know how they can claim that faith means one thing in James and another in the other epistles, except that they do it to support their Biblical interpretation.

  3. I don’t know if you intend to keep the “plow boy” point, but you really can’t. That was Luther’s term, and Luther did not accept James as being Scripture. Modern Protestants accept James, but I imagine that most don’t like the plow boy metaphor because now they have pastors to whom they expect the plow boys to turn for answers.

  4. The Little quote from the KJV remindeth me of a thought I’ve had for a while. The King James English is becoming so archaic, that it’s becoming more and more difficult for anyone to interpret it correctly. Therefore, all Protestant users of the KJV will find themselves to be in the opposite state that Luther wanted: unable to understand anything for themselves in the Bible!

Peace,
JohnPaul0


#11

Greetings JohnPaul0,

 Thank you very much for your interest in my post, I am very grateful for your insights into my ideas. 
 
        In practice, I have found very few Protestants who even subscribe to Sola Fide anymore. I am sure there are some die-hard Calvinists out there, but I haven’t met any except for some “cultural Calvinists” who’s theology basically revolves the idea that anything the Church teaches must be wrong, but their attacks are usually the grosser kind, like those of Jack Chick. Indeed, I saw that R.C. Sproul has book out called Sola Fide, which he tries to reinvigorate that anemic doctrine. I should have bought the darn thing, the introduction was hilarious. He lamented that Protestants are now actually sitting down with Catholics in Bible study and working together on social issues of abortion, and such. He did not specifically say this, but I think he fears, rightly so, that the clear and logical progression of the Catholic Faith will entice confused Protestants into the Church. He damns the Church because in the 500 years since the Reformation, the Church has not changed its doctrines. Obviously, Protestantism is in a tailspin and is going to continue to fragment. In short, the Reformation is becoming an obvious failure, but the Church is still here and still the same. I think that is what people call “a clue”.  I found it interesting when speaking to two Lutherans that they both feel alienated from other Protestants because such doctrines as the Rapture and disregarding of original sin. It will be interesting to see if the Lutherans come home, eh?         

I am planning on keeping the reference to our allegorical plowboy because this idea is part of a larger argument that I am working on at this time. I am going to try to dovetail this argument in with others regarding the necessity of authority in interpreting scripture.

        Thanks for the references, those are always helpful. In regards to Protestants declaring the “faith” mentioned in James as being different, I believe this is what they call a case “special pleading” (My college logic class is many years in my past). I will have to modify my answer again slightly to cover this claim. I realize that I can’t force people to accept the truth of Catholicism, but I think I can force them to play “scriptural twister” to such a degree that their reasoning becomes so bent out of shape, that the Catholic position remains the only coherent theology in the game. That will annoy some and delight others.



        Again, thank you very much for your help.

In His Mercy,

Sam


#12

I’m humbled and glad to be of some service. If you’re teaching this in your parish, hopefully you will find receptive ears. Those who hold to the “Solas” do not readily change their minds, so lots of patience and a willingness to fail is needed. Perhaps you haven’t come across many adherents to Sola Fide, but it still is popular.

God bless you for building up our brothers and sisters in this spiritual work of mercy.

-John


#13

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