Faith: Binary vs spectrum — faith/works discussion

Alright friends,

I hope I get some good feedback on this - just looking to start a conversation.

I have a hunch that the root of the differences between catholic/protestant understanding of the relationship between faith/works stems from “faith” being defined as either a spectrum or a binary.

I currently hold the view that faith is a spectrum. One can “grow in faith” - meaning one can have more faith today than yesterday.
Furthermore, this lends to the idea that faith/works is a “feedback-loop” - initiated by “grace”. (if you don’t know what a feedback loop is - google it)

That is to say that: “works” are prompted by ones “faith” and in-turn “faith” is grown through “works”.

To articulate this in more detail:
One accepts “grace” of initial “faith” through “works” — therefore leading to a closer relationship with god (faith) - thus leading to more works…and on and on.

I find, in-myself, a sense of “faith” that is noticeably gained through faithful action (works).

It concludes that salvation is achieved through faith, that is gained (in-part) through works.

It then follows, that one cannot “know” they are “saved” because a certain unknown level of “faith” is required of that.

On the other hand, If one takes the view that faith is binary. It necessarily follows that “faith” cannot be grown through “works”. Furthermore, it can be claimed with certainty that you are “saved” if you have “faith” - because you either have faith or you do not. But it is indeed accepted that it is not true “faith” if it doesn’t lead to “works”.

I wasn’t sure how to move it from one Topic to another. So I created a new post to get it out of the discussion topic it was in

Alright friends,

I hope I get some good feedback on this - just looking to start a conversation.

I have a hunch that the root of the differences between catholic/protestant understanding of the relationship between faith/works stems from “faith” being defined as either a spectrum or a binary.

I currently hold the view that faith is a spectrum. One can “grow in faith” - meaning one can have more faith today than yesterday.
Furthermore, this lends to the idea that faith/works is a “feedback-loop” - initiated by “grace”. (if you don’t know what a feedback loop is - google it)

That is to say that: “works” are prompted by ones “faith” and in-turn “faith” is grown through “works”.

To articulate this in more detail:
One accepts “grace” of initial “faith” through “works” — therefore leading to a closer relationship with god (faith) - thus leading to more works…and on and on.

I find, in-myself, a sense of “faith” that is noticeably gained through faithful action (works).

It concludes that salvation is achieved through faith, that is gained (in-part) through works.

It then follows, that one cannot “know” they are “saved” because a certain unknown level of “faith” is required of that.

On the other hand, If one takes the view that faith is binary. It necessarily follows that “faith” cannot be grown through “works”. Furthermore, it can be claimed with certainty that you are “saved” if you have “faith” - because you either have faith or you do not. But it is indeed accepted that it is not true “faith” if it doesn’t lead to “works”.

1 Like

Great post!

Catholicism also tends to be “both/and” whereas Protestantism tends to be “either/or.” It is Grace that saves us through Faith and Works, not faith OR works.

I’d hate to think that the Christian mission depends solely on an intellectual, subjective choice while rendering objective action wholly unnecessary. Such does not make the world a better place, and certainly doesn’t prepare it for the return of Our Lord. Works are required to make the world a better place, and those works are powered by faith.

1 Like

I appreciate the reply!

1 Like

I appreciate your wisdom.

Can someone please move this out of Casual Discussion to some forum where it fits better?

I’m not sure how

One can certainly increase in faith, and good works are the fruits of our faith. So you are on the right track IMO.

Wherever one falls on this matter of Faith or works or both, it seems to me that God wants something from us in response to the preaching of the gospel.

If He wants Faith, that is a human action, and act of the human will to accept Jesus and do his will. Isn’t that a “work?” It’s something we do, a human response to Jesus invitation. If one accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, that’s an act of the human intellect and will. Understanding what is required and then doing it. It’s our Faith that Jesus want’s, not His.

If nothing was required of us, then everyone is automatically saved by Jesus sacrifice, nothing further needed. But no one seems to believe that, on either side.

The way I see it is this:

I believe in Jesus and I do what He teaches me to do.

It’s like with Abraham and our Blessed Mother: They heard and they did. To me, it’s really that simple.

As for some sort of feedback loop, I could see how faith and works mutually renew and strengthen each other beautifully.

Yes, it’s a package deal within which salvation is worked out as we accept and cooperate with grace, the first of which is the gift of faith, and then “invest” it, and produce/grow in more justice yet, namely faith, hope, and, most importantly, love.

IOW, it’s not about faith, alone, but where faith is meant to lead to which is relationship or communion with God who is then the direct cause of our righteousness or justice, as we cooperate in doing His will.

Our Lord taught clearly that faith is a spectrum.

He addresses others as “men of little faith” - thus, if one can have little faith, one can also have more faith, or none at all.

The parable of the sower. Some believe quickly, but lose faith; others have faith but lose faith when they are overcome by the cares of this world. Those most blessed have faith that yields 30, 60 and 100 fold - works! But note that the two are inseparable.

The Apostles asked Jesus “increase our faith” (Luke 17:5) and He did not reply that you either had faith or did not. Rather, even faith compared to something tiny as a mustard seed could accomplish miracles (in each of the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke).

Saint Luke wrote that the Churches were being strengthened in faith (Acts 16:5)

Even Saint Paul, the ‘bible Christian Pope’ even teaches that faith can grow (2 Cor 10:!5, 2 Thess 1:3).

Confusion reigns among our brothers when they isolate verses from the seamless garment of scripture and make them a perverse theological litmus test - when our Lord did no such thing; when they rend faith from the works which it must produce if it is alive! A reflection of the human organism itself.

So no, faith is not binary, that is an assumption resulting from diluted, immature theology.

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