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”.