Protestant's Sola Fide = Catholic's faith and works combined?


#1

Hello,

I have heard from a Protestant friend that, by faith alone, Protestantism does not mean to say that a Christian can do whatever he wants (anything from murder and stealing to being rude and uncharitable) and only believe in Christ to be saved. She said something along the lines of "If you do things like that while saying "Christ is Lord," then you clearly don't have faith in Christ to begin with."

This made me think. Is the doctrine of sola fide in Protestantism just a combination of Catholic's doctrine of faith + works?

Catholic's faith = believing Christ is Lord (very simplified);
Catholic's work = obeying the Ten Commandments, giving to the poor, personal devotions, attending Mass, etc.

Protestant's faith = believing Christ is Lord and obeying the Ten Commandments, giving to the poor, etc.


#2

[quote="The_Scott, post:1, topic:306995"]
Hello,

I have heard from a Protestant friend that, by faith alone, Protestantism does not mean to say that a Christian can do whatever he wants (anything from murder and stealing to being rude and uncharitable) and only believe in Christ to be saved. She said something along the lines of "If you do things like that while saying "Christ is Lord," then you clearly don't have faith in Christ to begin with."

This made me think. Is the doctrine of sola fide in Protestantism just a combination of Catholic's doctrine of faith + works?

Catholic's faith = believing Christ is Lord (very simplified);
Catholic's work = obeying the Ten Commandments, giving to the poor, personal devotions, attending Mass, etc.

Protestant's faith = believing Christ is Lord and obeying the Ten Commandments, giving to the poor, etc.

[/quote]

There are some that have suggested that and indeed I myself personally agree that Catholics and Protestants on this subject simply see the same thing but differently.

Catholics seem to view faith and works as separate, while most Protestants see them as one and the same. I've been raised as a Pentecostal, and never once have I heard that "faith" meant only the assent that Jesus is Lord. Faith meant a lot more - incorporating works into it. But Evangelicals will generally say that these works flow naturally from the faith you receive in Christ. They tend to view the Catholic perspective as meaning that they are trying to do good works to "buy" themselves into heaven.

I think there is a lot more agreement on this issue on both sides than is generally lead on.


#3

[quote="The_Scott, post:1, topic:306995"]
Hello,

I have heard from a Protestant friend that, by faith alone, Protestantism does not mean to say that a Christian can do whatever he wants (anything from murder and stealing to being rude and uncharitable) and only believe in Christ to be saved. She said something along the lines of "If you do things like that while saying "Christ is Lord," then you clearly don't have faith in Christ to begin with."

[/quote]

This is a common misconception. Allow me to explain the point of contention.

This made me think. Is the doctrine of sola fide in Protestantism just a combination of Catholic's doctrine of faith + works?

Yes and no. Both sola fide and faith + works are sola gratia. The difference is in the concept of grace. The ramifications of the difference are not trivial.

For a Catholic, grace does two things: elevates and heals. For a Protestant, grace does one thing: heals. So for a Catholic, works are necessary for salvation because they are intrinsically good works, because they have been elevated by grace to be the merits of Christ. In other words, good works are a result of infused grace. For a Protestant, works are not necessary for salvation because they are not intrinsically good works, but their merit is imputed on the work-er by the efficacy of the Cross.
To present this in a metaphor, we could imagine a tree being the faith, and the fruits being the works. For a Catholic, if a tree with no fruit is presented, it is literally because the tree has not chosen to produce fruit. For a Protestant, if a tree with no fruit is presented, the tree is automatically exclaimed to be bad. This also outlines the difference between the understanding of free will between Catholicism (objective free-will) and Protestantism (subjective free-will).
That's basically the simplified version. I actually wrote an article on this very subject last Friday to better explain my reasoning. It's a bit more harsh, I'll admit, but it does lay out all the implications. You can view it by clicking here.


#4

Yes. I think we're quite close on this issue. If you truly have faith in God as the Fat&er Almighty and Jesus Christ as Lord, you'd probably be strongly minded to obey his commandments!


#5

[quote="Anthony_V, post:3, topic:306995"]

To present this in a metaphor, we could imagine a tree being the faith, and the fruits being the works. For a Catholic, if a tree with no fruit is presented, it is literally because the tree has not chosen to produce fruit. For a Protestant, if a tree with no fruit is presented, the tree is automatically exclaimed to be bad.

[/quote]

Hi Anthony V. Thanks for the explanation. I am one who is not very conversant with Protestants or other belief, for that matter.

You have to excuse me for being blurred but I thought it would be, for the Protestant it is the tree, whether it bears fruit or not. (Faith alone).

For the Catholics, yes, I agree, the tree has to bear fruits. (Faith and work).

p/s. Great to see you are discerning vocation. You are in my prayer. :):thumbsup:

God bless you.


#6

[quote="Anthony_V, post:3, topic:306995"]
This is a common misconception. Allow me to explain the point of contention.

Yes and no. Both sola fide and faith + works are sola gratia. The difference is in the concept of grace. The ramifications of the difference are not trivial.

For a Catholic, grace does two things: elevates and heals. For a Protestant, grace does one thing: heals. So for a Catholic, works are necessary for salvation because they are intrinsically good works, because they have been elevated by grace to be the merits of Christ. In other words, good works are a result of infused grace. For a Protestant, works are not necessary for salvation because they are not intrinsically good works, but their merit is imputed on the work-er by the efficacy of the Cross.
To present this in a metaphor, we could imagine a tree being the faith, and the fruits being the works. For a Catholic, if a tree with no fruit is presented, it is literally because the tree has not chosen to produce fruit. For a Protestant, if a tree with no fruit is presented, the tree is automatically exclaimed to be bad. This also outlines the difference between the understanding of free will between Catholicism (objective free-will) and Protestantism (subjective free-will).
That's basically the simplified version. I actually wrote an article on this very subject last Friday to better explain my reasoning. It's a bit more harsh, I'll admit, but it does lay out all the implications. You can view it by clicking here.

[/quote]

Thank you very much for a wonderful post, Anthony. I admit my knowledge of Catholic beliefs in grace/justification is very limited, so I will need to look into relatively basic tracts before tackling yours. However, I have your blog bookmarked for future references.

Thanks again!


#7

[quote="Reuben_J, post:5, topic:306995"]
Hi Anthony V. Thanks for the explanation. I am one who is not very conversant with Protestants or other belief, for that matter.

You have to excuse me for being blurred but I thought it would be, for the Protestant it is the tree, whether it bears fruit or not. (Faith alone).

For the Catholics, yes, I agree, the tree has to bear fruits. (Faith and work).

p/s. Great to see you are discerning vocation. You are in my prayer. :):thumbsup:

God bless you.

[/quote]

Thank you! I will need even more graces to bear the unfathomable and awe-full reality that is discerning the life of our Lord.

May God bless you and keep you,
Anthony


#8

Both sola fide and faith + works are sola gratia.

Yes, I agree with this. As a former Methodist, I think that much of mainline Protestant high church (Anglicanism, Methodism, Lutheranism) thinking is very in line with Catholic teaching, but because of culture, history, family influence and more, they have to find some spin to make sure that they are distinguished from the Catholic Church, because that would then mean submission and obedience to the one true Catholic faith. And by default, an admission of error in some Protestant teaching.


#9

[quote="FabiusMaximus, post:2, topic:306995"]
There are some that have suggested that and indeed I myself personally agree that Catholics and Protestants on this subject simply see the same thing but differently.

[/quote]

Agree - in many cases this is true...But as I have been reminded of on a number of occasions here...we can't lump all "protestants" together...So while many protestants DO hold views very close to Catholics on this matter, there ARE those who insist on the view that takes "Faith Alone" to the point of teaching that all there future sins are already forgiven....An OSAS approach...

Catholics seem to view faith and works as separate, while most Protestants see them as one and the same.

I have to say that this is somewhat false, though I can understand why it might seem this way. In truth it was the reformers who separated faith from works. At first, the intention was to get the Church to refocus on faith, because at the time there seemed to be an excess emphasis on works...But in truth, the Church had always taught that Faith and works were intertwined. One was no good without the other.

So - no - Catholics do not view faith and works as separate....

I've been raised as a Pentecostal, and never once have I heard that "faith" meant only the assent that Jesus is Lord. Faith meant a lot more - incorporating works into it. But Evangelicals will generally say that these works flow naturally from the faith you receive in Christ. They tend to view the Catholic perspective as meaning that they are trying to do good works to "buy" themselves into heaven.

And this is that leftover from the days of Luther...long since addressed in the Church...but somehow, there are those who continue to believe it to be true...

Also - while I respect the view that works flow naturally from faith....there is a "feedback loop" that seems to be overlooked in the Sola Fide community. Works reinforce and build faith just as faith reinforces and builds works...in fact, it can be said with some confidence that there have been people who have come to faith through doing good works.

I think there is a lot more agreement on this issue on both sides than is generally lead on.

Amen to that...I have found that much of the issue is really little more than a combination of semantics and a bit of difference in emphasis.

Peace
James


#10

[quote="coachkfan1, post:8, topic:306995"]
Both sola fide and faith + works are sola gratia.

Yes, I agree with this. As a former Methodist, I think that much of mainline Protestant high church (Anglicanism, Methodism, Lutheranism) thinking is very in line with Catholic teaching, but because of culture, history, family influence and more, they have to find some spin to make sure that they are distinguished from the Catholic Church, because that would then mean submission and obedience to the one true Catholic faith. And by default, an admission of error in some Protestant teaching.

[/quote]

I should mention, they are sola gratia within their respective systems. If you want to see if there is a fault within a system, you must entertain the rules and play the game.


#11

[quote="The_Scott, post:1, topic:306995"]
Hello,

I have heard from a Protestant friend that, by faith alone, Protestantism does not mean to say that a Christian can do whatever he wants (anything from murder and stealing to being rude and uncharitable) and only believe in Christ to be saved. She said something along the lines of "If you do things like that while saying "Christ is Lord," then you clearly don't have faith in Christ to begin with."

This made me think. Is the doctrine of sola fide in Protestantism just a combination of Catholic's doctrine of faith + works?

Catholic's faith = believing Christ is Lord (very simplified);
Catholic's work = obeying the Ten Commandments, giving to the poor, personal devotions, attending Mass, etc.

Protestant's faith = believing Christ is Lord and obeying the Ten Commandments, giving to the poor, etc.

[/quote]

As a Protestant (please don't hold that against me everybody), I can say most Protestant Churches are a bit less structured than the Catholic, Orthodox and Coptic Churches. The Catholic Church has tons of edicts and canons, while Protestants simply have the Bible.

As a Protestant there is the first Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37) to love God and the Second to love people in the way Jesus love you (Matthew 22:39). If one can achieve these two things, all the others should come naturally (Matthew 22:40).

Protestants don't do good works in order to be saved. They do good works because they are saved and have a desire to carry out our Heavenly Father's will. It is an outward expression of the love we have for God and our fellow man, as given by Jesus' Commandments.


#12

And you have just expressed the Catholic view as well. :thumbsup:

The “tons of edicts and canons”, flow from those two great commandments, just as all of the law and prophets likewise flowed from them.

Peace
James


#13

I see you are new. Welcome! I hope we can engage in meaningful dialogue in our common faith of Jesus Christ, our lover and our Redeemer.

Quite right. However, I should say that these edicts and canons serve an ascetical and mystical purpose, which does not fit within the Protestant ideology as we will see below…

As a Protestant there is the first Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37) to love God and the Second to love people in the way Jesus love you (Matthew 22:39). If one can achieve these two things, all the others should come naturally (Matthew 22:40).

How did you arrive at the conclusion that the other should come naturally? I think you mean to say that we need to do both of them, because we ought to love. We cannot do half of it and say we are doing the other because they are both love, together. They are both the whole, when they are together.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen [works], cannot love God whom he has not seen [faith]. 1 John 4:20

Protestants don’t do good works in order to be saved. They do good works because they are saved and have a desire to carry out our Heavenly Father’s will. It is an outward expression of the love we have for God and our fellow man, as given by Jesus’ Commandments.

That is a common belief. We can only do good works because we are saved and filled with the grace of God in either case. The point of contention still lies in the question of what exactly this grace that we possess does. For Protestants, it does not elevate, but only heals. So, there can be no good works done by the person, because grace does not affect good works. Rather, the works of Christ are said to be imputed to make up for the biblical demands of James 2, 26, and the like.

In other words, of course you believe in that. You have no other choice, because the Protestant concept of grace is limited.


#14

[quote="JRKH, post:12, topic:306995"]
And you have just expressed the Catholic view as well. :thumbsup:

The "tons of edicts and canons", flow from those two great commandments, just as all of the law and prophets likewise flowed from them.

Peace
James

[/quote]

Thanks. Its good to know that Catholics and Protestants are alike in a lot of ways, despite a few differences in doctrine. :)


#15

Thank you. I really enjoy talking to Christians of other faiths and learning about their points of view. Its also great to talk to a fellow Texas.

Perhaps there was a miss-communication there. I meant if a person can master BOTH of the Great Commandments (to love God and love others), than all the other Commandments would fall into place. Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:40)

I think you took what I said to mean 'If you follow the First Great Commandment, the Second will come naturally." (I agree with you, its a lot easier to love God than some people, and the second one takes a lot of work) Sorry, I should have been a bit more concise.

I wouldn’t call God’s grace limited, whether I was talking about it from a Protestant or Catholic perspective. The fact that God knows every bad thing I have ever done and still loved me enough to send Jesus to die for my sins…that seems like unlimited grace to me. I do not feel that God’s love for me in contingent upon my doing good works. Rather, I do good works, because I am grateful for everything God has done for me, and because I want share God’s love with others.


#16

[quote="TravisJTH, post:15, topic:306995"]
Thank you. I really enjoy talking to Christians of other faiths and learning about their points of view. Its also great to talk to a fellow Texan.

[/quote]

:)


#17

[quote="The_Scott, post:1, topic:306995"]
Hello,

I have heard from a Protestant friend that, by faith alone, Protestantism does not mean to say that a Christian can do whatever he wants (anything from murder and stealing to being rude and uncharitable) and only believe in Christ to be saved. She said something along the lines of "If you do things like that while saying "Christ is Lord," then you clearly don't have faith in Christ to begin with."

This made me think. Is the doctrine of sola fide in Protestantism just a combination of Catholic's doctrine of faith + works?

Catholic's faith = believing Christ is Lord (very simplified);
Catholic's work = obeying the Ten Commandments, giving to the poor, personal devotions, attending Mass, etc.

Protestant's faith = believing Christ is Lord and obeying the Ten Commandments, giving to the poor, etc.

[/quote]

Scott,
See what you think of this by James Akin.

catholicfidelity.com/apologetics-topics/justification-salvation/justification-by-faith-alone-by-james-akin/

Jon


#18

[quote="Anthony_V, post:16, topic:306995"]
:)
I say "limited" in the systematic and functional sense. Within the Protestant system, grace objectively serves a smaller function than in the Catholic system. Within the Catholic system, grace heals and elevates the nature. Within the Protestant system, it only heals the nature, but leaves the elevating principle to the nature.

[/quote]

That may be true. I would say that in most Protestant Churches, it is the Holy Spirit that elevates a person's nature. The Holy Spirit is given to us through the grace of God, but strengthened within us, as we spend time in God's word, prayer and occasionally fasting. When I am facing temptation, the Holy Spirit often guides me away from it. When I do stumble, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts me and leads me to repentance.


#19

[quote="TravisJTH, post:18, topic:306995"]
That may be true. I would say that in most Protestant Churches, it is the Holy Spirit that elevates a person's nature. The Holy Spirit is given to us through the grace of God, but strengthened within us, as we spend time in God's word, prayer and occasionally fasting. When I am facing temptation, the Holy Spirit often guides me away from it. When I do stumble, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts me and leads me to repentance.

[/quote]

I am glad you believe that grace can elevate the nature of a person as well as heal the nature. And I am equally as glad that you can determine this from your faith life.

May God bless you,
Anthony


#20

[quote="TravisJTH, post:18, topic:306995"]
That may be true. I would say that in most Protestant Churches, it is the Holy Spirit that elevates a person's nature. The Holy Spirit is given to us through the grace of God, but strengthened within us, as we spend time in God's word, prayer and occasionally fasting. When I am facing temptation, the Holy Spirit often guides me away from it. When I do stumble, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts me and leads me to repentance.

[/quote]

Beautifully said...Again - very Catholic in understanding. :thumbsup:

If I may interject - I think that maybe one of the differences between the Catholic and protestant view is how we understand the "co-operation" between the Graces received and our free will application of those graces.

Some of the protestant churches (Calvinists??) tend to play down the "free will" aspect in these matters where the Catholic view is that, as you say above, the grace comes from God to elevate us, but then we must submit our free will to cooperation with that grace.

Peace
James


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