Faith Alone that is Not Alone?


#1

Various Protestant theologians have put forth this formula:

 ***"We are justified by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone."***

I do not understand. It seems to be a contradiction in terms.
I’m honestly trying to understand what this means. Can anyone help?


#2

Sure. It means that whenever faith is present, the virtues given by the Holy Spirit will also be present, because those virtues are a fruit of faith (faith being the presence of the Spirit in the Christian, through Baptism).


#3

If faith is not operating alone, how is sola fide not rendered meaningless?
(Or perhaps I should ask ‘how does faith operate alone if it is not alone?’)

Again, not trying to be antagonistic. :o


#4

Well, first, I think the term “faith” needs to be defined. At least, within the context of justification. Faith is a God given supernatural gift whereby the Christian comes to trust in the promises of God. More specifically, the promises of God that Christ lived, died, and was raised for the forgiveness of our sins and our justification. This faith unites us to Christ and thereby we are given everything that belongs to Him; eternal life, righteousness, etc.

When the Lutheran reformers used the term sola fide, they meant that faith is the alone instrument whereby we receive the merits of Christ.

In this context then, the fruit of faith is not the instrumental cause of our union with Christ. Rather, it is faith that is the alone instrument. However, when this instrument is present, the fruits will also be present. If the fruits are not present, then there is question as to whether the root (faith) is present.


#5

In other words, good works are necessary for salvation…


#6

[quote="IggyAntiochus, post:4, topic:281187"]
Well, first, I think the term "faith" needs to be defined.

[/quote]

Agreed

At least, within the context of justification. Faith is a God given supernatural gift whereby the Christian comes to trust in the promises of God.

Are you referring to intellectual assent, aka 'belief'? And is this distinguished from a free gift of grace which can manifest as faith?

More specifically, the promises of God that Christ lived, died, and was raised for the forgiveness of our sins and our justification. This faith unites us to Christ and thereby we are given everything that belongs to Him; eternal life, righteousness, etc.

When the Lutheran reformers used the term sola fide, they meant that faith is the alone instrument whereby we receive the merits of Christ.

All the merits? And how does one avoid the conclusions that faith is all that is necessary for salvation? (Or is that meant/implied by sola fide?)

In this context then, the fruit of faith is not the instrumental cause of our union with Christ. Rather, it is faith that is the alone instrument. However, when this instrument is present, the fruits will also be present. If the fruits are not present, then there is question as to whether the root (faith) is present.

Is it fair to say that it is not present in such a situation? (ignoring cases where there may not be time or ability for it to appear/mature/etc.)

Is it important to distinguish between fruits that are brought forth as a natural consequence of true faith AND "fruits" that are brought forth because we ought to behave so?


#7

[quote="ChrisCath, post:6, topic:281187"]
Agreed

Are you referring to intellectual assent, aka 'belief'? And is this distinguished from a free gift of grace which can manifest as faith?

[/quote]

Intellectual assent can be a part of faith. Faith is not dependent on it, however, since it is a supernatural gift. For example, a baptized infant or mentally handicapped individual possesses the gift of faith without intellectual assent. Intellectual assent by itself is not faith.

All the merits? And how does one avoid the conclusions that faith is all that is necessary for salvation? (Or is that meant/implied by sola fide?)

Because salvation is more than justification. Justification is a part of salvation. Regeneration, sanctification, and glorification are equal parts of salvation. Sola fide only refers to justification.

Is it fair to say that it is not present in such a situation? (ignoring cases where there may not be time or ability for it to appear/mature/etc.)

In what situation, sorry?

Is it important to distinguish between fruits that are brought forth as a natural consequence of true faith AND "fruits" that are brought forth because we ought to behave so?

Inasmuch as without faith, works that are done which we perceive as good are, in God's eyes, not good at all in a spiritual sense. "Without faith it is impossible to please God."


#8

That is a play o words, for they know that faith alone is outmoded so they put that faith is not alone.

I can play with words to: “We are justified by a faith that is not alone for being alone” and let others guess the meaning.

Faith alone cannot stand. And to children of Reformation, who had nothing to do with the choice of the Reformation Fathers, must deal with an untenable position. That is why that play of words was invented.

Better ask the person who invented that what he meant. I could invent that it meant that you are saved by Faith but Faith is not alone (now senses): ) 1) for Christ is with Faith; 2) for Faith is the based of other things, it is not alone, it generates other “what?” (works?, but if it is works, that is the Catholic Doctrine)…-.


#9

[quote="stewstew03, post:5, topic:281187"]
In other words, good works are necessary for salvation...

[/quote]

Yes. Just not justification :)


#10

[quote="IggyAntiochus, post:7, topic:281187"]

Because salvation is more than justification. Justification is a part of salvation. Regeneration, sanctification, and glorification are equal parts of salvation. Sola fide only refers to justification.

[/quote]

In other words, faith is the beginning (i.e., the basis) of justification.

Inasmuch as without faith, works that are done which we perceive as good are, in God's eyes, not good at all in a spiritual sense. "Without faith it is impossible to please God."

No disagreement there...


#11

[quote="stewstew03, post:10, topic:281187"]
In other words, faith is the beginning (i.e., the basis) of justification.

[/quote]

Justification is the beginning of salvation. Although, one could use them interchangeably, it's required, in some cases, to narrowly define the terms.

Salvation is a process. Justification is not. One is either guilty before God or not guilty before God. One cannot become not guilty over time. You either are or aren't.


#12

[quote="IggyAntiochus, post:9, topic:281187"]
Yes. Just not justification :)

[/quote]

Right.

So you agree with Trent that faith is "the beginning, foundation and root of all justification".


#13

[quote="IggyAntiochus, post:11, topic:281187"]
Justification is the beginning of salvation. Although, one could use them interchangeably, it's required, in some cases, to narrowly define the terms.

Salvation is a process. Justification is not. One is either guilty before God or not guilty before God. One cannot become not guilty over time. You either are or aren't.

[/quote]

Yes, either you are saved or you are not saved. Either you are justified or you are not justified. Justification is part of the salvation process. The justified man's good works are necessary for salvation - the justified man has "a faith that is not alone."


#14

No, because faith is not the beginning of justification. It doesn’t have a beginning. It either is or isn’t. Through faith, we receive justification in toto.


#15

[quote="stewstew03, post:13, topic:281187"]
Yes, either you are saved or you are not saved. Either you are justified or you are not justified. Justification is part of the salvation process. The justified man's good works are necessary for salvation - the justified man has "a faith that is not alone."

[/quote]

I might not be understanding you clearly, so forgive me if I didn't.

There is nothing I can work in and of myself for Justification without Faith. My works without Faith are nothing.

I have no good outside God, Jesus Himself said that only the Father is good. Without the Father, I have no good and anything good is from the Father.

[bibledrb]Romans 5:1[/bibledrb]

Our good works are the fruit of our Faith, yes our Faith is not alone.

But works alone don't justify.


#16

Seems we agree


#17

[quote="IggyAntiochus, post:14, topic:281187"]
No, because faith is not the beginning of justification. It doesn't have a beginning. It either is or isn't. Through faith, we receive justification in toto.

[/quote]

Practically speaking, this makes zero sense from the believer's perspective.

Iggy, you said:

Faith is a God given supernatural gift whereby the Christian comes to trust in the promises of God.

Did you mean to say that faith is a gift whereby the Christian instantly trusts in the promises of God?


#18

[quote="stewstew03, post:17, topic:281187"]
Practically speaking, this makes zero sense from the believer's perspective.

Iggy, you said:

Did you mean to say that faith is a gift whereby the Christian instantly trusts in the promises of God?

[/quote]

It cannot be quantified by time or amount. Faith, no matter how weak, justifies. "Comes to trust" isn't a technical theological term :)


#19

Okay, so half-hearted (weak) faith results in complete, total justification for all eternity…

What is the fruit of a half-hearted (weak) faith? Wouldn’t that lead you to

???


#20

[quote="stewstew03, post:19, topic:281187"]
Okay, so half-hearted (weak) faith results in complete, total justification for all eternity...

[/quote]

Yes, but hold up, lest this be a discussion of the Reformed doctrine of justification. A weak faith must be built up through God's word and sacraments because faith can be rejected...the goal is not to remain in a weak faith, but to mature. But we measure justification on Christ's merits, not the merits of faith.

What is the fruit of a half-hearted (weak) faith? Wouldn't that lead you to

???

No, because there are any number of people who have a weak faith but produce many works. I believe, help my unbelief.


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