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How do Protestants deal with James on faith and works?


Because it is not faith in God. It is faith in self, or something else. It is a false faith. The Caesarius of Arles quote fits there too.

As for the “Andreas” bit, I don’t know the quotee, but you seem to be misapplying him to conflate belief and faith again. Lutherans don’t do that, no matter how much you wish they did.

Why does your church do the same? Is it because Christ’s work is greater? That He, alone, might deserve all the Glory? That it might cover all our sins in their entirety? That we receive it by grace and not because of any works we ourselves do to appease a bloodthirsty god?


Oh, son. You really should have read that Catholic Answers article earlier:

Trent on James
This leads us to what the Council of Trent had to say about James 2:24.

After discussing the justification that occurs at the beginning of the Christian life, Trent quotes several passages from St. Paul on how Christians grow in virtue by yielding our bodies to righteousness for sanctification. It states that by good works we “increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and are further justified” (DJ 10).

It is in the context of this growth in righteousness—and in this context only—that Trent quotes James 2:24: “Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?” Trent thus relates James’s statement not to the initial justification that occurs when we first come to God but to the growth in righteousness that occurs over the course of the Christian life.

Thus, a Protestant objecting that James is talking about a different kind of justification than the one the Protestant has in mind would be correct. James isn’t saying that you need to do good works in order to be forgiven. And neither is the Catholic Church.


And…? Your words were ‘doing justice’

‘Doing justice’ has nothing to do with doing ‘good works in order to be forgiven’.


The ESV also makes a correct distinction between belief and faith. You’re out of straws, here.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

James is saying Faith apart from works is just belief. Mere belief. Belief does nothing. Faith saves.


May I ask where you get these words from? You implant them into the Epistle of Saint James and into the quotes I use, and they just are not there.


Yeah, and he’s saying that faith alone does nothing and cannot save! Why do you think he compares a faith without works, i.e. faith alone, with the belief of demons!?


Is it really that hard to believe that a baptized Christian in a current state of grace can participate in the life of Christ and “do anything through Him”, even good works to increase in justification before God? Is it really that hard to believe that the Body of Christ, i.e. baptized Christians in full communion with His Church, can share and participate in His Glory, thus even magnifying and increasing His Glory?


Doing justice means exactly the same thing as good works. Read it again with that as your understanding.

Literally from James. It’s a paraphrase to help you understand. James is saying: “Show me this so-called ‘faith’ that can exist without works. I’ll prove it’s no ‘faith’ at all, but mere belief.’”

Are you truly unable to understand the difference between faith and belief?

Please, do yourself and your fellow Roman Catholics a favor and read this Catholic Answers article. I do not presume to teach Roman Catholic doctrine, so perhaps a knowledgeable Catholic like @guanophore can assist?


Yes, exactly! But doing good works does not mean meriting forgiveness of sins.

Sighhhhhhh…Sorry, that is not meant to be offensive, it’s just that I do not know what more I can do to show you that is not what Saint James is saying!

Let’s try this: when Saint James says faith is dead, does that faith still exist? Sure, it does, however, it is dead, it has no life, but it still exists. For example, when a body is dead, does the body still exist? Of course, however, there is no life, but the body still exists! As is with faith and works; if faith has no works, there is still faith, faith still exists, however it is dead! Works, done through, with, and in Christ gives life to our faith, they complete our faith, and they increase our justification before God! Does this make sense to you?


Amen, brother! Why not come home to the Catholic Church? :hugs:


If ‘belief’ is mere, intellectual assent…then what is ‘faith’? Remember, I’m not the one that ascribes justification to a mere, intellectual assent; Trent anathematized that. If ‘faith’ is something more than a mere, intellectual assent, viz. ‘belief’, then what is that more?


James says “if someone says he has faith” (ESV), “if someone claims to have faith” (NIV), “if a man say he hath faith” (Douay-Rheims). There is a difference between me objectively having faith and me claiming to have faith. I can claim all kinds of things. For example, I claim I weigh 170 but in reality I weigh 237. :sob:


This was all ultimately rooted in Luther’s neuroses… who was an Augustinian monk that went way overboard, and annoyed even his confessor (this is the story apparently). He was a Catholic himself! He only revolted because he heaped more guilt on himself than necessary. He was obsessed. So when he stumbled upon Justification By Faith, it was a Eureka moment that he’d never budge on. Because his own sanity was at stake.

And now we all have to pay for one man’s hangups. And instead of Luther, the world had to become insane instead.


Not for initial justification, but that is where Catholics and Orthodox differ from Protestants. We see salvation as a process, not something that happens at one moment in time. For us, a continued state of right relationship (justification) before God is based in working out our salvation. This is where we get the concept of “state of grace”. We are in right relationship/justified/state of grace when we are working out our salvation, demonstrating good works. We are not in a state of grace when we are doing opposite (mortal sin).

No. I don’t think there is a difference in this context. Faith is the hand that is inside the glove that expresses the good works. They are not separated. If faith is without the glove, and does not move the person’s actions it is not a saving faith. That does not mean the person does not believe in anything, it just means that the belief/faith has not moved the person into action, therefore, is not a saving faith. Faith that saves is faith that works.

I think you are doing a splendid job!


18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

James is not saying “You have faith and I have works.” He’s offering a hypothetical argument so that he can destroy it. He’s not saying its possible to have faith without works. In fact, he’s actually dismissing that line of reasoning. He’s challenging those without works who say they have faith to prove it, but his point is they can’t because they don’t.


I don’t think this is fair to Luther, who I do believe suffered mentally and emotionally. He did seem to suffer from scrupulosity, but that is not what made him revolt. He finally and fully grasped the concept (after leaving the monastery) that we are saved by grace, through faith, and not of works. Once he finally grasped this concept he became very provoked with even the appearance of “earning” grace. He was appropriately appalled with Catholics crawling on their hands and knees up to the Vatican, and with preachers offering the faithful a chance to spring their loved ones from Purgatory by accepting monetary donations to built St. Peters Basilica.

As it turns out, though his spiritual directors and religious superiors tried to convince him of this principle for decades, it took a long time for the light bulb to go on in his mind and heart. But I agree with you, it did help him with his sanity some, and as it turns out, he just did not seem to understand that what he “discovered” was what the CC always believed and taught. The message certainly seemed to be obscured in his own experience, but the Joint Declaration makes it clear that this is not a point of disagreement.


Do you have a good recommendation on the Pope and setting at that time? I find it difficult to even know how abusive the church may have been… there’s obviously propaganda too, to support Protestants… and things are lost in history. I’m open minded enough to say I’m wary of the Borgias and Medici having so much control, but I don’t think all of them were bad popes. I definitely don’t deny bad clerics either. Look at just a century earlier - they killed St. Joan, and got too entwined in regional concerns.


Red flag about what ? The experiences of a Catholic, even a Catholic cleric in the 15/16th century ?

Yet nothing is new. The Jews of Jesus time, even the clerics (rabbis), had similar challenge, that of the fine line between righteous works (even rites or sacraments) because of "new life’’ or to the way to “new life”. Simeon was probably circumcised and barmitzvahed and a devout Jew (seemed to have this “new life”, enough to see Christ), and Nicodemus was also probably circumcised and barhmitzvahed and a devout Jew, even a rabbi, yet apparently had not been graced with this “new life”, and could not see Christ for who He was. Both had righteous works thru and in their religious institution.

I think Luther said of himself to be the latter, like Nicodemus, bankrupt in new life and spirit, despite his religious life/works and sacraments, until filled with faith by grace. So, I would gather his experience in Christianity, was justification by faith alone, as the beginning for life lived to His glory, even in works, predestined and known in eternity.


Red flag in wanting to question the canon.

This makes him declare himself not only greater than the Popes he criticizes, but greater than the Ecumenical Councils and church fathers who produced these canons.

That red flag.


There is a huge wealth of material, but there is a thread running right now with a wealth of information and good links. It has gotten very long, so you might want to search the thread for topics or start at the end.

There is propaganda on both sides, of course. I think it is helpful to study the Medici family, as Luther’s Pope was a Medici. Leo X did not take Luther’s complaints seriously, and that was a big part of the problem.

These two Italian families kept the focus on their own family fortunes and the good of Italy, and treated the rest of Europe as vassal tributaries. Their mindset seemed much more like secular rulers than servants of the Church.

If Leo X had responded more immediately and with concern to Luther, and interrupted the indulgence preachers, at least in his region, then there may have been no rebellion at all. As it was, though a very intelligent and well educated individual, Pope Leo X did not see how the convergence of political, social, and economic forces would constellate around Luther.

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