Your donation helps provide answers and spread the gospel. GIVE NOW! Matching gift doubles your donation.

How do Protestants deal with James on faith and works?


I can certainly support this, as it is Catholic, but for us there is no separation between a personal expression of faith in Christ and obedience to the Church He founded. The reason it cannot be separated from doctrine is because it relates to the identity of Christ, which is a matter of doctrine. There is also the matter of how “faith” is defined. Is it just a profession once for all? Is it faith that works? These are doctrinal issues as well. What does it mean to “surrender”? This is all part of the teaching of the faith - what it means to be a disciple.

Acts 2 "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them**, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;** and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. "

They were baptized, which involves a profession of faith and then:

“41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Profession of faith > Baptism > devotion to the teaching of the Apostles.


Are you sure? I mean it is even in that first creed i think.


Jesus descended to the place of the righteous dead, where the souls of the Just awaited the savior. There He preached the gospel to them, so that they could accompany Him to heaven upon his ascension.


That is right…conditional even for the church…the church must also remain in unity with the apostles


And how is that place sometimes called?


This goes without saying, as it is the Divine Elements of the Church that keep her on track. Christ is her Head, and she is ensouled by the Holy Spirit, so there is never any division between her divine elements and those who have gone before us in the faith.

Yes, I agree that it is sometimes referred to as “hell”, but the place of the dead is not the same as the abode of evil. I think we will both agree that, at the final judgment, all will be raised and will be sent to their eternal dwelling place.

My point is that the idea that “death” will not prevail against the Church makes no sense in the context of the passage, which is about the struggle between good and evil.


Yes, but we in some cases we disagree about what the Apostles taught.


Of course! But Catholics do not separate faith in Christ from doctrine, or the teaching of the Apostles.

The truth is that we agree much more than disagree, and this will become more clear as Christianity is continually more persecuted and is opposing elements of the current culture.


I told my son, who is probably going to be Catholic before long, that it takes more faith to be a Catholic than an Evangelical. We Evangelicals have faith in Jesus and doctrine and understandings are of secondary importance. Catholics not only have faith in Jesus, but they have to have faith that the Church has never erred from what the Apostles taught and that it is impossible for the church to be in error.


Calvary …Jesus…is about that struggle about good and evil…the grave could not contain Him…could not force Him to see corruption…the Cornerstone laid securely…the gates of hell did not prevail.


How on earth could you let your own son come to such a pass?! :smile:

I don’t know, I think that being an Evangelical places one in a position to have faith in the ministers of one’s communion, but they are not protected by infallibility. Doesn’t that take more faith?

Yes, I think this is the foundation of the splintering that exists.

It is true, unlike Protestants, we do not separate Jesus from His Holy Bride, the Church. He is her Head, and she is ensouled by the Holy Spirit.

This is a very different definition of “church” than “the body of believers on earth”. Our definition of Church includes all the Holy Souls who have gone on before us in faith (with whom we continue in communion) and the angels who are His ministers of grace.

I agree, it is a matter of faith, but also of doctrine. If Jesus really did not intend to guide His Church into “all Truth”, then we have nothing to rely on but our own perceptions.


That is right.We both have to have faith in our respective churches.And as you say, P’s must be more vigilant, discerning the Lord’s voice, the Spirit’s guidance,divine revelation, personal conscience before the Lord on the matter.

Yet this is very apostolic as Christ asks each of us, “Who do you say that I am?”…requiring not only a personal experience with His voice, but also a spiritual understanding (doctrine).

None of this does away with any of the universally accepted church offices, giftings and ministry’s of the Body, the church…yet the dignity and divine responsibility of the one on one calling, the Godhead to the individual, is preserved


Again, i believe you misapply that verse…Christ is explicit that the apostles would be guideded as in “you”…that an institution, a ruling body, would be guided, is only implied…the guidance is always to apostles, and their disciples…to say that conditions for infallibility is only met by a ruling body but not disciples is a twist of writ, in many disciples opinion.


Are you sure about this??? All P’s believe in a visible and invisible aspects of church, the Body, the Bride, the working of the Holy Spirit corporately/ individually.???


He was speaking to the foundation stones of His fledgling Church. He guided them to select successors for themselves, and to pass on the responsibilities given to them. He told them He would be with them till the end of the age, not the end of their lifetimes! He did not leave the Church orphaned.

But I agree, all the disciples benefit from the gift of infallibility when remaining in unity with the Apostles.

I thought you were saying that the faith of Protestants is in the person of Christ, not doctrine. For us, there is no separation.

Yes, there is belief in the visible and invisible aspects of the Church, but the separation comes where Church is defined as “the body of believers on earth”. This removes Jesus as Head of the Church, and there is no place for the Holy Spirit as the Soul of the Church. If the church does not exist separately from the individual believer, then it has no life of it’s own.


Perhaps…or it could show that doctrine and practice matter even more…especially when the primary foundation, new life in Christ, are laid up front.

The flip side of some splintering due to carnality (the negative), is that the splintering is due because indeed doctrine is important. (positive)

Who was it , the Franciscans and the Dominicans , fighting tooth and nail doctrinally for generations over the Imaaculate Conception and finally in 1854 the Dominicans stop, acquiesce their doctrinal understanding, not being as important anymore…as being Catholic, being “saved”.

Is that any better than P’s who would be allowed to hold their perspective belief, because not hinged upon “being saved”? That salvation is not so much being a member of a particular church, but of the foundational new birth and its walking out in holiness,irrespective of denomination ?

Yes the catch 22, the good and the bad of it…the respect for divine revelation and personal conscience on a matter, and the denominational splintering though remaing part of the Body…and for the CC, the acquiescing of some possible divine revelation to remain saved in an unified church.

Oh Lord come quickly…



Correct…never said it would end…said, “apostles, and their disciples”, which is all belivers,including all offices and giftings,which is your “successors”…they would not be orphaned…you keep saying “church” when that is not as explicit…that error can lead to a foundation that only one brand of church will go on infallibly guided , not needing to honor, heed, fearfully workout, what another “disciple/successor” may have been shown as a child in the kingdom,resting on the apostles foundation.


Well, we have some separation.For instance we do separate the Assumption of Mary from the person of Christ, that is allow it or deny it, one can still be in Christ, though imperfectly.

Yet we do not separate the person of Christ from Christology…that is doctrine.

But yes, saving faith is in Christ. One can not discern the one who leads you to the well until you have been refreshed by the Drink.


This would be a great tragedy, and I think one that has often plagued the CC through the years. When I was a youngster I was never told anything about how to relate to Jesus as a person. I was told to learn memorized prayers, learned the doctrine, and never taught how to read the Bible. These methods eventually resulted in me leaving the Church, looking for an authentic spiritual experience.

For Catholics this is not separated from Doctrine, but rooted in it. This is because it relates to what “new life” means, who Christ is, and what it means to have Him at the center of life (the meaning of discipleship or committing oneself to the Teaching of the Apostles). I was starving for knowledge of Him (not just doctrine) and I finally encountered Him in the Scriptures and began to grow.

The problem is that the doctrinal distictives impinge directly on what it means to “be saved”.

Although I agree that being “in Christ” is more important, we are not at liberty to reliquish what was handed down to us through the Apostles. We are bound by the commandment where Protestants are not.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.”

Yes, I concur. And the CC also teaches that even those who do not know Christ may be saved by walking according to the light that has been given to them.

Yes, this is not an option for us.We are not at liberty to turn away from the One Faith that has been committed to us.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

We are not at liberty to begin pulling threads out of the seamless garment that was delivered to us.


Not entirely. For the Church founded by Christ only recognized valid successors - those ordained by an Apostle or one within the Apostolic succession. This was how counterfeiting was prevented.

I do say this, because Jesus only founded One Church, with One faith. It is not about a “brand”, except that it is His brand. Only that Church was promised infallibility. It was explicit for the Apostles, and their successors, as is clear from the reading of the Ante-Nicean fathers.

I don’t think these are mutually exclusive. Catholics are taught (or should be taught) that the Holy Spirit is at work in ecclesial communities of our separated brethren. This working is a call to unity, and we are all responsible to work to heal the wounds to unity in the Church.

Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, butthe Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her.

This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me."The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.

This is why we cannot start pulling threads from the garment. If it is up to human beings to decide what is “essential” then everyone will have a different idea about it.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit