Faith without Works – The Catholic View


#1

To my beloved Protestant brothers and sisters. We have all heard the argument about St Paul’s letter to the Romans and St James letter on the subject of faith without works. In order to help you understand the Catholic position I thought perhaps it may be worth while showing another reference from the bible, in particular the story of the repentant woman that washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. A couple of points can be made here.

We read in Luke 7:41-42 “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both” Obviously the one that owed five hundred days’ wages refers to the sinful woman and the fifty refers to the Pharisee. We can all agree both were unable to pay their debts to sin hence only through the merits of Jesus can their debts be waived. So no good work of their own can save their debt to sin, only by mercy will their debts be cancelled. When Jesus forgave the sinful woman he said “Your faith has saved you” Luke 7:50. How did she show her faith? Did she simply say “Jesus I believe and accept you as my personal Lord and saviour”? No, her faith was shown by her works i.e. washing Jesus feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. These are works, yet Jesus said “your faith has saved you” Jesus calls this action faith because faith is only faith when practiced through good works.

I hope that helps brothers and sisters,

God bless,


#2

It does, indeed. Her faith justified her, which was evidenced by her works. A true, saving faith is an active faith. A faith that has not works is a dead faith, not a saving faith.

Jon


#3

I totally agree. :thumbsup: If a statement of faith is not followed by a life of discipleship, that shows the statement to have been untrue.

As I have explored Catholicism, I have been pleased to find put how much we have in common, and how little really divides us. I’m praying for unity of all of God’s Church.


#4

[quote="Godith, post:3, topic:297297"]
I totally agree. :thumbsup: If a statement of faith is not followed by a life of discipleship, that shows the statement to have been untrue.

As I have explored Catholicism, I have been pleased to find put how much we have in common, and how little really divides us. I'm praying for unity of all of God's Church.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#5

Many years ago, in a small ecumenical discussion group, a Lutheran lady explained that Faith must show forth its evidence in the form of good works. I thought that a good explanation.


#6

I posted the other day about this exact topic in another thread: forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=9714068&postcount=6

-ACEGC


#7

Related to this is the concept of antinomianism, which even Martin Luther condemned.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antinomianism


#8

That is the correct Lutheran view. If you have faith in Christ, then good works will follow but they do not count in our righteousness.


#9

I’m curious to know how do Protestants interpret the sermon on the Mount when Jesus teaches rewards for good deeds?

*“so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:4

"But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:6

“so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:18*

God bless,


#10

Yes, there are rewards for good deeds, but only good deeds done in faith, and again, good deeds do not merit salvation.
The Matthew quotes remind me of what Luther said about Eucharistic Adoration, indicating that the most important kind is the adoration within the heart, the genuflect of the heart, as it were.

Jon


#11

At what point can we say that there is truly so little that divides us that we may as well not have this debate?

Of course I’m sure there are certain evangelical denominations that probably wouldn’t be on the same page here, but it seems to me that Lutherans and Catholics really don’t need to even have this discussion. :slight_smile:


#12

Catholics also believe good works performed by the faithful does not merit them heaven. Only through the merits of Jesus Christ do we get to heaven. I think there’s a little confusion between merit and reward. The only way a person can receive a reward in heaven by his deeds is if he unites his good works with the merits of Christ. Remember St Paul tells us the church is the body of Christ, Christ is the head. Does the head ever separate itself from the body? Just the same way our faith and works are untied in Christ.

In the verses I quoted earlier what kind of rewards do Protestants believe them to be?

Brothers and sisters it’s not my intention to open this thread for debate but rather an open dialogue to hep understand each other…

God bless,


#13

This is exactly what I have always understood the Bible to teach. We cannot earn Heaven, and neither can we make God love us more (or less) by our actions. However, there is plenty in the Bible that tells us righteousness is rewarded, with earthly and heavenly blessings. Those who are most faithful to Christ in life will be closest to the throne in Heaven, and put in charge of more when Jesus returns to Earth.

I’m interested to hear of others think anything different. My church is more ‘orthodox’ than some evangelical groups.


#14

I think that nearly all of our doctrines are achingly close - its the practice of them that divides us.


#15

I think what St John of the Cross said best sums up Catholic teaching and the whole counsel of scripture on the matter:
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.

Faith, alone, accounts for nothing, although its the first step for a believer, the first step for man in a restored relationship with God that was destroyed at the Fall. Because of this, faith is the vehicle through which we’re saved, because it’s the vehicle to God without whom man is hopelessly lost. But this faith must lead to love in order for man to be truly just, which is why the greatest commandments read as they do.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Gal 5:6


#16

I think the biggest yet unresolved question is imputed v infused righteousness. The Joint Deaclaration on the Doctrine of justification seems to not address it.
Some of my lutheran brothers and sisters still believe that the phrase “faith and works”, and what that entails, is a point of division, in that they see that as works contributing to salvation on a footing with faith. And of course, there are Catholics who view the phrase “faith alone” as excluding the necessity of works. hence, the continuing debate here, and perhaps on a larger scale.

Jon


#17

=Augustine3;9729471]Catholics also believe good works performed by the faithful does not merit them heaven. Only through the merits of Jesus Christ do we get to heaven. I think there’s a little confusion between merit and reward. The only way a person can receive a reward in heaven by his deeds is if he unites his good works with the merits of Christ. Remember St Paul tells us the church is the body of Christ, Christ is the head. Does the head ever separate itself from the body? Just the same way our faith and works are untied in Christ.

essentially, I see no problem here.

In the verses I quoted earlier what kind of rewards do Protestants believe them to be?

What does scripture say in this regard?

Brothers and sisters it’s not my intention to open this thread for debate but rather an open dialogue to hep understand each other…

I hope you didn’t see my response as intending to open debate. It is the dialogue here at CAF that keeps me coming back. :thumbsup:

God bless,

And with you, as well,
Jon


#18

I think, from our perspective, that love is an indespensible evidence of faith. Luther’s quote about Galatians 5:6 is one I regularly use here:

Faith must of course be sincere. It must be a faith that performs good works through love. If faith lacks love it is not true faith. Thus the Apostle bars the way of hypocrites to the kingdom of Christ on all sides. He declares on the one hand, “In Christ Jesus circumcision availeth nothing,” i.e., works avail nothing, but faith alone, and that without any merit whatever, avails before God. On the other hand, the Apostle declares that without fruits faith serves no purpose. To think, “If faith justifies without works, let us work nothing,” is to despise the grace of God. Idle faith is not justifying faith. In this terse manner Paul presents the whole life of a Christian. Inwardly it consists in faith towards God, outwardly in love towards our fellow-men.

does this blend well with what St. John of the Cross says?

Jon


#19

[quote="Stilldreamn, post:14, topic:297297"]
I think that nearly all of our doctrines are achingly close - its the practice of them that divides us.

[/quote]

Is it a matter of style, then?


#20

This particular question seems rather easy to answer. I agree with you that we are saved by our faith in Jesus and His atoning work on the cross. However, we are obligated, (just as you have mentioned in other posts) to do our part by picking up our cross and being there for others in need. We can have faith and still lose out on our eternal reward, as per Jesus, “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” I know quite a few people who insist that the CC teaches a work-based way, (to the exclusion of Jesus) to heaven, which is so silly. :shrug:

“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For  I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you  gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”


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