Through a recent trip to Europe my interest in the Catholic Church has been considerably renewed. I was baptized and raised Catholic, but early on in highschool I rejected Catholicism for Protestantism. After significant turblulance, my interest in Christianity and committment to Christ remains, but it is impossible for me to re-enter into full communion with the Church, because I am now an unrepentent heretic and will always remain so. However, this does not deter my respect and interest in the Church. If I had to be orthodox, I know I would choose Catholicism or the Orthodox Church, mainly because of its sacramentality.
My question to Protestants regards the well known passage in James 2:
“what good is it brother, if a man claims to have faith but no works? Can such faith save him?”
…“do you want evidence that faith without works is uselees?”
“You see, a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone”
Now, the Church has always taught co-operative grace. Essentially, we must co-operate with God’s grace in order for it to be salvific, obviously neccesitating works. Salvation does not come through works, but in my understanding, our works of mercy, love, charity and compassion activate the saving grace of God.
How do Protestants explain these verses in relation to the doctrine of being saved by “faith alone” and the common accusation that the Church teaches “salvation through works”?