Explain "Sola Fide" to a Catholic from a Reformed/Calvinist Perspective

I have not been able to get a clear understanding of what Calvinist (I think that word might be more inclusive than “Reformed”) Protestants believe that justification by faith alone means so I hope that some posters from background (either currently or formerly) can give their perspective and relate it to the Catholic tradition.

One of my misunderstandings is when it is said that we are justified by faith, but then it is said that justification is entirely “outside of us.” For example, the Westminster Confession says,

Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God. (WCF 11.1)

It is clear that according to a Calvinistic interpretation, Romans 4:5 does not literally teach that faith, properly speaking, is literally imputed as righteousness. The way I have seen it put is that faith is the instrumental cause of salvation, and that faith reaches out like a hand to grasp hold of salvation. Is there a good article that explains what this means in the context of Romans 4:5 and the idea of justification “extra nos?”

Also, do you as a Calvinist (or former Calvinist) see the doctrine of justification by faith alone to be in opposition to the Catholic teaching on justification?

Check out this youtube video: youtube.com/watch?v=Daomzm3nyIg . It goes over what is wrong with Calvinism.


I can’t speak for calvinists, but get one in here and I’ll show him, for you, how RCC is by grace alone as well. And I can show them Calvinists, when they go to far, can be anti christ in their teachings…

You can always hit them with this, Faith doesn’t save you. Grace does. You get grace, through faith.

But the Grace is your salvation.

Rome teaches the same, when you get right down to it.

Grace from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:


1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.46

1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an “adopted son” he can henceforth call God “Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God’s gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.47

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:48

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.49

2000 Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.

2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:"50

Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.51

2002 God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of “eternal life” respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:

If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed “very good” since you have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life.52

2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning “favor,” “gratuitous gift,” "benefit."53 Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.54

2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.55

2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.56 However, according to the Lord’s words "Thus you will know them by their fruits"57 - reflection on God’s blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.

A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: "Asked if she knew that she was in God’s grace, she replied: ‘If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.’"58

YUP. that’s about what I thought you thunk.

We don’t see Grace as dependent on Baptism. It all boils down to two verses and how you read them.

Hi Isaiah 45: Nothing says it better than the CCC! Faith does not save one; Grace does; you get grace through faith.


Definitely not faith alone - where does that leave grace? :eek:

Grace comes from God, a free gift given to us by God for our salvation. Faith is given when we respond to the grace God gives.

Where do you think that is in scripture?

Who needs Grace? Just close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, and believe it hard enough, and you can change GOD’s WILL in that case… AS LONG AS you have strong enough faith, not even God can stop you.

So to be sure of your faith, you can’t listen to anything that challenges it. And you must convince as many as you can to agree with you, because God may get confused and think He promised something he didn’t.

See how that works?

My protestant friends hate me somedays… Usually when they have to concede something like this.

I would say check any of the 27 books of the New Testament, also the CCC.

I would say you are a smart alec and don’t know what you are talking about, merely parroting what you have been taught. I would suggest you didn’t even get that right in the parroting.

I can play the snotty game all day long. And my last name is Dickey so I can probably do it better than you can. But, it doesn’t make for much of a conversation. Wanna try again? Or do you wanna ride with the demonstration that you are too smug to waste time answering a question so I can see where you are coming from.

Ephesians 2:8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.

Eph 2:8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.HCSB

The verse says you are saved by Grace, which is definitely from God.

But the wording here would lead you to believe that FAITH is the gift from God in the wordking.

I wanted to hear your understanding.

Regardless Grace comes through faith. Is faith a gift from God (definitely, but may or may not be his claim here in this context.)

There is a lot of thinking to mastering that verse. I’m sorry I perplexed you so. Here’s a tissue for the left over snot.

Grace is God’s love for us! One can not change God’s will. Challenges can increase faith and make it stronger. It is not a matter of convincing as many people to agree. And as far as what you wrote, its just faulty thinking.

You are saved by grace through faith. Lacking faith, you don’t get grace.

Either Grace or Faith is a gift from God there.

In reality both are, Grace can only be a gift from God as it’s His to give and you can’t make Him.

But Abraham’s story shows his faith grew because of God’s interaction with him in his life. So that too is a gift from God.

Now in this verse, what is the gift from God Paul was mentioning. Grace, or faith.


While you are entitled to your opinions, there was no cause for you to be rude and disrespectful as well as offensive. it is very unChristlike to do so.

So “Grace” is our saviour, I thought and continue to think/believe that Jesus Is our Saviour.

“Our” as in humanity.

The Second Person of the Trinity became a human being therefore if one is a human being than Jesus is their Brother.

In the above you wrote, “One can not change God’s will.”

And it is written, “This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”

And also Jesus taught us to pray, “…Thy Kingdom come, Thy WILL be done…”.

Some may think it a waste of time to pray for God’s Will to be done, since as you said, “One can not change God’s will”, however prayer can be and is very “profitable” in changing the prayer (person) rather than the Prayee (God).

Could be that Jesus was teaching us one of the ways of aligning our will with God’s Will in this prayer known as both the Our Father and The Lord’s Prayer.

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