When was John the Baptist saved? When he recognized Jesus at the river? Or when he lept in his mother’s womb when the pregnant Mary approached?
When was Saul of Tarsus saved? When he was healed of his blindness by the Apostles or when he went into the desert for two years or when he started his missions or when Jesus tossed him off his horse and said: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
When were the First Nations saved? When they saw God in Creation long before they first saw the blackcoats? Or when the Jesuits told them “God in all Things?”
When was St Francis saved? When he heard God speaking to him? Or when he took in the poor and built his church?
Gosh, as a Catholic I sometimes wonder if there is any one point where one is saved or is it a culmination of many points like a song or a hymn rather than one single note?
So the notion of staying the course certainly has meaning for me.
To save without faith? Is faith any one thing? Is it the same thing for all people? Surely an unborn baby has faith. Otherwise why would John the Baptist leap in his mother’s womb? So faith is not necessary the mind’s road to God. But it could be, for some folks.
So what if I am inordinately dense or stubborn but really want to find God; really want to find goodness, virtue, holiness. In other words what if my faith is not absent, but merely disordered? Is my disordered faith not sufficient for God to come upside my head with a big wake up call? Sheesh isn’t that what happened to Saul of Tarsus?
Is the ‘fallen’ faith of each of us then not refined – or, if you will, redeemed or resurrected or sanctified by our encounters with God? And though we may encounter God in all things as the Jesuits claim, or in the faces of those who have fallen through the cracks in society as Mother Teresa claims, do we also not encounter God in the simple reality of the Eucharist?
Is there a place in all humans where faith resides? If so then if Faith Alone saves, then what need is there for Baptism? Ah, but we have different forms of Baptism, don’t we? Baptism of Water, Baptism of Blood, Baptism of Desire, Invincible Ignorance. So maybe Faith Alone can save afterall?
But what is Faith Alone? Well, faith is a grace. That place in all humans where faith resides is part of our nature. Our nature is a gift from God. So too is faith a Divine gift and not a human work.
I guess we can decide not to use that gift. That would be a work. Or we can destroy that gift outright. That would be a work. But these works are not salvific works.
Of salvific works, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my Law.” So a salvific work is the keeping of the Law of Jesus which buds and grows from the roots of our love for Him. Those roots are faith.
So, can we be saved without faith? Don’t think so. And faith cannot be separated from salvific works, so Faith Alone doesn’t make sense. We can, however, be unsaved by a repudiation of the faith which we have been given. That repudiation of faith is a work which is not salvific.
So unsalvific works = the exercise of free will to undo salvation.
salvific works flowing naturally from the gift of faith = salvation.
Faith alone = a logical impossibility.