I am particularly interested in Lutheran belief regarding my questions. In the effort many of us Cats and Lutherans share in seeking a common/united faith regarding Justification and or salvation and how it is attained, I feel that the understanding of the terms ‘faith’, ‘works’, ‘conversion of heart’, and ‘believe in me’ must be broken down and agreed on what man’s participation in them include.
As it is, I think its too bad we don’t have a common agreement, and I can absolutely see a genuine goodness behind the ‘faith alone’ doctrine, while also seeing a genuine goodness in the ‘faith and works’ doctrine. Either or can have a good intended basis while not neglecting God’s grace behind, along and over the believer. To be honest, in itself, I see less of a potential for a misunderstood faith with the ‘faith alone’ doctrine. Yet, its only the defiant contempt for the Church’s position which brings a problem. And, properly understood, the Catholic position should not cause problem to the believer, but lead to a focus on the work of the Holy Spirit. Because no good work is from men, but from the Holy Spirit which descended through Jesus.
So my questions to discuss are these:
*]What is the work of God, and what is man’s co-operation with it?
*]What does it mean to ‘believe in Jesus’?
*]What is ‘conversion of heart’ and what is man’s co-operation in it?
*]What is ‘faith alone’ and what is man’s co-operation in it?
As I see the doctrine of Faith Alone, I understand that we are saved apart from any work that we do, therefore we do not have an earned participation in justification and salvation, and good works are the result of a saving faith which cause increase of grace in the life of the Christian, having nothing to do with his justification.
As I see the Catholic doctrine of faith and works, I understand that we are justified/saved apart from works of the law, and attain, freely without co-operation the gift of faith (ultimately through Baptism) and then reception of Justifying grace is dependent on man’s free will to consent to the work of the Holy Spirit and thus participate in the conversion of heart (which is the first and principal work of the Holy Spirit). This is the basis of every good work done by the Holy Spirit through us, while every consequent work done increases the grace in the Christian.
P.S. I am welcome to any correction by my Catholic and Lutheran brothers/sisters for misrepresenting any doctrine.