Is Protestantism a good thing? (Or “Why I Kissed Ecumenism Goodbye”)

Aren’t all 3 shown to be necessary in scripture? Yes
Is anyone of them shown to be alone such that the other 2 aren’t necessary? No

So why put sola in front or after any of them, if they aren’t “alone”?

While, by faith alone appears legitimately in scripture. Problem is, NOT is in front of it.


ALONE, doesn’t appear anywhere in scripture, after Grace or good works.

For 16 yrs on this forum, Protestants invariably quote Eph 2:8-9 and deliberately exclude v 10.

:thinking: Why do you suppose that is?

Here’s verse 10:

“10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”

Who’s really doing all the “work” here? Everything that we are, everything that we do, is by and through Christ - created in advance(!) by God. Perhaps there are better verses to use to wave a flag celebrating our good works, no?


So let’s see,

Are you saying God did it already so I don’t have to do a thing. Is THAT what I’m hearing?


Is it, whatever I do means nothing , even though, it’s said I should do good works?.



I’m saying that anything really good that I do - things that require sacrifice and dying to myself - are done in spite of myself. So much so that I’m almost surprised when I do them - and I’m thankful to see the Holy Spirit working in my life.

“20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Soli Deo Gloria.

From your translation

Here’s verse 10:

Eph 2:
“10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

IOW, we are to obey God’s plan for us.

As Paul complemented the Church of Rome on their. "obedience of faith".

Rom 1:5…
Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; 7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.[c]
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.

How much credit do you take personally for your obedience? And I’m not talking about showing up to Mass on Sunday. I’m talking about no-kidding, personal sacrifice - you first, me second stuff. I’m talking about overcoming addiction so powerful that you’ve lost yourself and everyone you care about. I’m talking about saving your marriage in the face of infidelity. I’m talking about reverse tithing - living on 10% of your gross income and giving the rest to God. How much credit do you take for doing things like that? My guess is that if you talk to Christian folks who have personally experienced these things - the vast majority of them give all the credit to Christ. (I said I guessed - no reference needed :slight_smile: )

I believe that I am commanded by God to do good works. I believe that I am to be obedient to my King. I also believe that the only reason I’m able to do them - good works pleasing to God - is because of Jesus Christ living in me.

Am I forced to obey? Is there a gun to my head to obey? Or do I make a free choice to obey? I obey freely :sunglasses:

Those challenges you mention are big… daunting in fact. That’s granted.

I’ll just say in response,

NO MATTER the degree of malady that befalls an individual, it still requires a person’s cooperation with grace to come out of the morass…agreed? THAT cooperation, probably is just as daunting as the morass one is trying to escape from. But it still requires one’s cooperation.



He also commands everyone to be in His One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church.

I hear you - I just think that we’re so naturally opposed to “cooperation” out of the gate that even that is thanks to Christ. I can see your side of the argument, and I could make it with a straight face, but when I look at my life, I see a different reality.

I had the over/under set at 3 posts before you’d bring this up. Nailed it. :slight_smile:

If I don’t see you on the boards this weekend Steve, have a good one.

Have been on both sides of the coin during my experience as a protestant, found myself to be more identifying with the catholic position with regards to free will and co-operation. I have seen protestants who believe in the faith alone concept, those in my family and they start to lower their expectation towards going church and eventually stopped going at all.

Yes, they are all neccessary. There would be no salvation without God’s grace, there is no receiving of that grace other than through faith and there is no faith without works.

Each of these have a different place and role in the scheme of salvation.

To reemphasize the crucial aspect of faith. Doing good works without faith is meaningless, and just for show. Works and faith are not interchangeable - they are not on the same level. This is not in conflict with the catholic understanding of faith+works. (yes, both are neccessary in the end.)

I know. But isn’t it weird James is so much concerned not with how we receive grace, but rather what constitutes a living, real faith. Yes, we are not justified by a mere intellectual assent, but by a very real trust and faith in our Lord - this is the faith with which we receive God’s grace and complete it with the good works He has prepaired for us. That is the “good” faith, real faith in the heart

I don’t know. I have seen it quoted by protestants a few times already in my short time here on CAF. I suppose it is because some American protestants were poorly formed in theology and developed the “doctrine” of OSAS into a false belief that you don’t have to actually be a renewed person who listens to God in their heart to be saved.

And I just wanted to say I admire you zeal and passion and the sheer number of posts you produce, Steve! :+1:

Faith is internal, the bible definition of faith as seen in Hebrews 11.1.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Catechism of the catholic church 1842: By faith, we believe in God and believe all that he has revealed to us and that Holy Church proposes for our belief.

My understanding is that a christian can profess that they follow Christ, but how then do they do it? This is when the works, the external aspect come into play.

In philippians 2.12, it is mentioned that “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,”

Luke 17.5 talks about the apostles saying to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”.

We also know that faith can increase from the aforementioned verse. It doesn’t stand still, it’s non-static and fluid.

The faith alone concept is too absolute, it brings out the problem of I don’t have to go to church, as long as I believe it’s alright.

This is not to say the faith and works concept is perfect, because there are problems of ritualism (go to church for the sake of it). In that situation, people subscribe to the works alone idea instead of faith and works.

If I were to put the two concepts together, I will personally believe in the faith and works concept. I will not deny the fact that they are genuine christians out there that are called towards following Christ by the faith alone concept, but if I were to weigh the two problems together, the former is worse off, as you cut contact with the church and stop following God altogether.

I don’t think that’s entirely fair, but I’ll grant that there have been some negative effects.

In my own life I’ve been involved in quite a lot of Catholic-Evangelical ecumenism over the years. (Not ecumenism with liberal Protestants so much.) But in recent years I’ve come to see that Evangelical Protestantism can, in its own ways, be just as dangerous as liberal Protestantism is.

It is not easy to say which is more dangerous for the Catholic faith: an open attack or a sincere and friendly alternative offered by people of goodwill. I speak as a former anglo-catholic who studied and worshipped in tge same places as Newman.

Agreed. But I would add that neither of those are as dangerous as propaganda.

One example I’ve been thinking about is when Evangelicals say things like “Catholics agree with us on morality.” Very nice sounding statement, but I’ve come to regard it as Evangelical propaganda.

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Yes I agree absolutely.


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Thanks and the same in return

To the first part of your post, all I can say is: Amen!

Yes, works are inseparably intertwined with faith, totally agree.

As to the part with faith alone allowing for an actually mediocre faith (I mean faith without real consequences to one’s behaviour) - Sola Fide is just a slogan, maybe poorly framed to fit with the other Solas. Together with Sola Scriptura, it is the most ambiguous one. That surely is a problem.

You see, it actually expresses a more complex theological idea. That is why back then Cardinal Ratzinger somewhat agreed with it. The issue I see is that Protestantism has steered away from complex theology and more into spiritualism and pietism. These ideas surely are nice, but much of the confusion we see today comes from people who were simply too poorly catechized in what they actually believe and are more concerned with good feels.

I think with enough clarification, Sola Fide may be compatible with the Catholic teaching. And that those two are maybe not conflicting but rather complementary views.

I’m not sure I saw where your following points were answered directly. If they were, just ignore my response.

Re: the selling of indulgences it was wrong and addressed.

Re: corruption and doctrinal errors,

I’ll just say, Luther was hardly the one to determine that.


The council of Trent addressed the issues behind the Protestant revolt.

Session VI on justification & 33 canons + reformation decree


Session VII + canons + reformation decrees


THOSE errors were Luther’s errors.
Exsurge Domine, Bull of Leo X (1520 ) errors listed

When Luther refused to respond

then came his excommunication

Decet Romanum Pontificem Leo X ( 1521 ) excommunication

It depends, the former is direct and the latter is indirect. If you ask me, the latter appeals to the non-scholarly. For instance, telling others that the church you go to have modern worship music or a solid bible study, people will be more open to exploring other churches. The former appeals to the scholarly. If others debate and manage to find a flaw in your reasoning, then it will encourage you to go find out about the other person’s church.

A video by bluecollarcatholic, mentioned this, in the joint declaration on the doctrine of justification between catholics and lutheran have came to an understanding on this:

"We confess together that sinners are justified by faith in the saving action of God in Christ. By the action of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, they are granted the gift of salvation, which lays the basis for the whole Christian life. They place their trust in God’s gracious promise by justifying faith, which includes hope in God and love for him. Such a faith is active in love and thus the Christian cannot and should not remain without works. But whatever in the justified precedes or follows the free gift of faith is neither the basis of justification nor merits it " --> Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (1997)

So, the huge disagreement would be the operational definition, rather than the result of it. Personally, I just find the protestant view of sola fide to be confusing, but many I known have came to accept this as part of their christian life.

I was raised in a feel good pentecostal church, so I have to admit that there are many who attend based on emotional assent. My mother had a church group leader who left the church during the recession after being retrenched from his job and cannot understand why God caused him to be retrenched. And usually, these leaders are meant to minister to 10-20 members. This wasn’t all, my family started to veer away from the faith altogether and stopped going to the pentecostal church. For this reason, it set me on a journey to discover the catholic faith, as I wanted to find a genuine faith as illustrated in early christianity in Acts 2, where each day, they devoted themselves to apostle teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2.42).

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