I have this nagging suspicion that what some protestants call “sola fide” corresponds to the catholic idea of holiness as consisting in the submission of the will to God.
I agree. I think some Protestants DO see their “faith” as being integrated in “submission to the will of God”. These Protestants tend to be very close to the Catholic faith in this case. There is a whole Protestant school of thought called **“The New Perspective on Paul” ** (see it here) that is very close if not identical in many areas to Catholic theology in the Justification realm.
Other Protestants see “faith” as a mere intellectual assent to believing in Jesus.
Protestants almost all seem to say “obedience” is “important” concerning justification. . . . But is obedience “necessary” in some sense?
“Faith” can be seen as a mere intellectual assent . . . or . . . . “faith” can be necessarily wrapped up in one’s actions in ADDITION to intellectual assent. (The Church teaches this saving faith working in love concept and also affirms the supernatural element too that I won’t yet get into here)
If by “faith alone”, our Protestant friends and family members (or other non-Catholics) think an “intellectual assent” is all that is needed to get to Heaven (for those that can do more), I would take issue with that.
If, on the other hand, somebody asserts saving “faith alone” in the sense of some workings is included in the word “faith”, I would say, this is confusing language, but I would try to not use this as a theological bone of contention.
I think the Council of Trent (back in the 1500’s) took this approach.
Council of Trent Sixth Session - CANON IX If any one saith, that by faith alone
the impious is justified; **in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required **to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.
We use this “works” tied into “faith” in modern language too. For example, if a wife/husband is “unfaithful” to their spouse, we are pretty sure that this means MORE than an intellectual problem the way we often use the phrase here in society.
I think St. Paul conveyed to us there is more to a saving faith than mere intellectual assent. “Obedience” matters and is necessarily tied into a saving faith for example (again for those that can).
That’s WHY St. Paul explicitly talks about the “obedience of faith” the very first and the very last time he used the word “faith” in the Letter to the Romans (parenthetical addition of Romans 1:5 mine—taken from Romans 1:4).
ROMANS 1:5-6 5 through whom (Jesus Christ our Lord) 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;
ROMANS 16:26 26 but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—
St. Paul sees a saving faith as an obedient faith.
St. Paul reminds us that a saving faith, comes about through the work of Jesus Christ, but this saving faith is given to us by the WORK of “preaching” in another sense (this concept unpacked here: “Faith NEEDS the WORK of Preaching”).
A saving faith and works should not be divorced.
The “one time act” or “single acts saving or damning” issue I won’t get into here (yet) except to say . . . think of how much damage a “single act” bring in the mere natural realm.
People get life in prison all the time for a “mere” single act. If a single act can wreak so much havoc in the natural realm, how much more injury can a “single act” inflict upon others in the spiritual life? (I am not saying there cannot be repentance, etc.)