Sola fide discussion with baptist dad


So I’m in a discussion about sola fide with my dad who is Baptist. I stated Janes 2:24 which says by works we are justified and not by faith alone. And I asked if faith alone is true then why is it that the only place in scripture that says faith alone it says “not” right before it. He then quotes ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 King James translation.”

So I then responded “Amen I agree with everything that passage says. But it doesn’t answer my question as to why if sola fide is true would the bible say that by works we are justified not by faith alone. Is the bible contradicting itself? Is the bible therefore useless? No. The answer is that the Ephesians passage you quoted doesn’t say we’re justified by faith [alone]. Somehow it seems to be forgotten that St. Paul who wrote Ephesians 2:8-9 also wrote Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto [good works], which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” St. Paul is saying any works done either before entering Christ or apart from Christ profit nothing for salvation. But works in Christ --faith working through love – do. James goes on to say “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” It’s no wonder Martin Luther tried to throw the book of James out of the bible. And when he was forced to put it back in he called it an “epistle of straw”. So faith + works is what the bible teaches. Sola fide is unbiblical”

He has now replied “We are saved by the Grace of God! We receive that grace because of our faith. And we are told to do good works. In your statement you say works “before or apart from Christ profit nothing”. Before entering Christ, God’s grace saves you because of your faith. After that your works profit you. You are saved before you are in Christ to have your works count…”

Can someone help with this?


It seems to me that he’s Thinking that salvation is something that happens once in your life and then you don’t worry about it and good works are something we just do cus were told.


Romans 2:
6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Revelation 14:13
13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”


Thank you for this. Do you know what verses show “we have been saved”, “we are being saved” and “we will be saved”? And what was the passage that said I’m working out my salvation with fear and trembling? Also if you can find anything else with his last response that needs addressing?


Reply with, “yes, Catholics 100% believe that we are saved by the Grace of God.” But we do not believe that we receive grace from faith alone.

If we did, how can we explain people who believe in God but choose to do evil? There are people who totally believe, but accept (or believe) they will be going to hell because of what they do. This was very common in the middle ages where some God believing men were in solders for hire. They believed they stood a good chance of going to Hell because of their job. They believed in God, they believed in Christ, but they choose immoral lives for money. Did they have Faith, yes. But did they corporate with God’s Grace? No.

May devil worshipers believe in God and some even believe in Christ. But they are evil and want to be with the devil. Do they have faith? Yes. Do they have Grace? No way!!!

Catholics believe that we must corporate with God’s Grace. We cannot earn our way into Heaven, but we can send ourselves to hell.

The once saved, always saved idea is false because it can be debunked by several real life examples:

(1) Let’s assume that there is a protestant minister who is a good person. Loves Jesus, prays daily, a saintly person who we all wish was a Catholic priest or deacon. He believes he is saved and has been saved for years now. Now, let’s assume one day he comes home and walks into his home during a robbery. The criminal had just finished brutally killing his wife and children. The minister, in anger-rage, etc attacks the robber and starts to beat him senseless with a lamp. After the robber is unconscious, in a fit of rage the minister grabs a knife and starts stabbing the robber over and over until he’s a bloody pulp. Then, the minister starts cursing God and starts committing blasphemy against God, denouncing his faith. He finally picks up the robbers gun and empties all but one bullet into the robber’s body. Then, finally with the remaining bullet, the minister blasphemes against God one last time and kills himself. NOTE: This whole process takes place over a 5 hour period filled with hate & rage.

Question: in this example, is the this minister saved? Did everyone believe he was before this happened? After this happened, is he still saved? Will God forgive him? Do any of us know? No, we don’t. No one an say he’s going to Heaven and no one can say he’s going to hell. So how can the once saved, always saved theory be true?



(continued from above)

  1. Example two… less extreme. let’s say the same protestant minister has one child. He and his wife tried for years to have more kids, but they were not able. His child is getting ready to start college and is tragically hit by a hit-and-run while walking home at night. But the son doesn’t die right away. He’s instead knocked into the weeds unable to get up or call for help. Lying there, he is slowly attacked by animals, bacteria, the weather, etc and slowly dies over a period of 48 hours. His devoured body is found 5 days after he went missing and the medical examiner can tell he was in agony for 2 days. The pastor loses all Faith in God as a result, and then dies from a heart attack.

Question: is he saved. Please note, this story is based on a true story regarding how my brother-in-law’s uncle died. Everything except the heart attack and the hit and run (he was in a self caused motorcycle accident where he ran off the road, into a field). My brother-in-law’s dad is still mad at God because of how his brother died and has lost all faith.

How does the once saved, always saved theory work in these instances. It doesn’t. A protestant might say, “well, he was never saved.” To which I will respond with, so how do you know you are saved? This is why Catholics believed that are have to continue to work on our salvation. That we can never become too holy and that we should strive to create more holy moments in our lives so we can continue to strive for holiness and continue to strive to be the best version of ourselves.

God Bless.


I’m thinking of replying with something like this.

Amen we are saved by grace. We receive grace because of faith but you seem to be ignoring the James 2 passages that show that your faith can’t be without works. Hence faith + works. We can’t just take bible passages out of context with the rest of the bible. Faith itself is a work. We don’t just faith. We have faith which in itself is a work. “You are saved before you are in Christ to have your works count…” Even by what you said if after you’re brought into Christ that faith you have will not count for anything if its not with works as James 2 speaks of. You seem to have a flawed view of salvation that it is a one time deal that afterwards nothing can take away from us. This is commonly referred to as “once saved always saved” and is also not scriptural.

What do you guys think of this response?


Romans 8:24
Ephesians 2:5,8
2 Timothy 1:9
Titus 3:5

Phillipians 2:12 “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”
1 Peter 1:9

Matthew 10:22, 24:13
Mark 8:35
Acts 15:11
Romans 5:9-10, 13:11
1 Corinthians 3:15, 5:5
Hebrews 9:28

Judged according to deeds
Romans 2:5-8
2 Corinthians 5:10, 11:15
1 Peter 1:17
Revelation 20:12-13
Colossians 3:24-25


Thanks for this! Sorry to hear about your uncle and dad. I will pray for them


This will help a lot


I find the bold to be good reasoning. What I’ve realized is that Catholics and non-Catholics really agree a lot more than either thinks when it comes to James 2. Most of the time it turns into semantics and either side wants it to be said this way or that. Sadly, however, I think that the semantics do inhibit us from completely agreeing.

For a while I tried to believe in sola fide and “once saved always saved,” but I couldn’t bring myself to believing it. The biggest reason, and maybe you could bring this up with your father, was that “once saved, always saved,” to me, throws out our free will. I couldn’t agree with the fact that if someone decided they didn’t want to go to Heaven after they were “once and finally saved” they couldn’t. The counter might be something like “well you didn’t believe in the first place.” Someone above me has commented on this idea as well, but who am I to say someone believes or not. How foolish of me to say something like that. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:2-5 that it is God alone who judges, not him, not anyone else, and all will be revealed in due time. I mean, it’s by God’s grace that we have free will at all. So, yes, it’s all by God’s grace, and thanks be to Him for that! This free will is what makes loving God and God loving us the greatest of all of creation. Without total free will to chose how we live our lives a part of the intimacy of love is lost. I began to think we were just robots pre-programmed to do stuff. I didn’t want to be a robot. We can freely chose to reject God BUT we can also freely chose to love Him and this is what makes God’s love so pure.


Christ is so good! Celebrate what you have in common and agree, not insignificant secondary details that you disagree.


When I was younger, my dad told me this to help me understand. I don’t know if it actually makes sense logically or if it is even technically correct, but it aided my understanding!

On the turnpike there is the regular lane and a “ONLY TRUCK” lane. We were driving in the “only truck” lane and I panicked because we were in a car, not a truck. It was explained to me that the sign meant that the only lane that trucks can use is the “only truck” lane, but cars can use either. “Only truck” and “truck only” do not mean the same thing. Similarly, it is true that we are “saved by faith alone” BUT that is not the same thing as saying we are “saved alone by faith” which, when you think about is, is a more accurate way of the concept of sola fide. Faith itself is the only thing that can save us, but is it not necessarily the only thing required.

Moving that “alone” (or “only” if you’re talking about the the parkway) word around changes everything.


There is faith in potential, and there is faith actually.
Faith in potential is the thoughts of trusting God.
Faith actually is the “ACT” of Faith (this is substantial, rather than potential)

Paul, in Romans, said that Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. This is “justification” where Abraham was justified in claiming he is God’s chosen “people” - Paul was trying to convince the Gentile Catholics in Rome that they were justified in referring to themselves as the “chosen people” when the Jews living there were telling them that only the Jews were the “chosen people”, that is only the Jews were justified in using that terminology about themselves, not some heathen Gentiles sinners who think that because they take Paul and Jesus at their Word and travel through Baptism to a new land of Discipleship they are somehow now the “People”.

Abraham’s Faith was “substantial”, “actually faith” or “Faith in ACT” - he believed God which meant he packed his camels and rode, out into the night, to a land 800 miles or so away, Hebron, abandoning his past neighbors and family. It was the “whole faith” that God counted in his smile as he saw Abraham riding to the west.
The Gentiles in Rome had Faith that was “substantial”, “actually faith” or “Faith in ACT” - They believed Paul, and in Jesus, which meant that that came up to their preachers and said, “Will you Baptize us and teach us?” They abandoned the sinful practices of the past, still practiced by their neighbors. Their faith was a “whole faith” that caused God to smile on them as he counted them to be “his People”.

James is describing the mechanics of faith, showing there is the inward understanding that is the “form of Faith” that takes the actual “shape of Faith” or “objective reality of Faith” in the doing of good (the doing of works desirable to God). “Good” means “desirable”. It is like an architect’s design of a house - blueprint equals inward understanding of trust in God, and the carpenter putting the last piece of trim on equals the good work (of Faith) looking just like the understanding (of trusting God) - The real house matches the blueprint - The house is real now, not just an idea, and Faith is real now in that work, not just an idea, not just a “form”.

Where is the “saved by Grace”? This is in Baptism. The Gentile Catholics wanted to be part of the “People”, but they could not just say, “Okay, I’m part of the People”. No, they had to depend on the “generosity” of the King of the Kingdom. Would he take them, or not? They asked to be Baptized. Would the King grant them citizenship (would the representative of the King baptize them)? Remarkably, Yes. They were granted this new birth into citizenship in the Kingdom, new birth into sonship to God. They could not take themselves into this relationship, no matter how much they wanted it. It is an action by Jesus, by the Apostle, by the Priest, that grabs you and pulls you into this new People, and then Jesus, the Apostle, the Priest, gives you literally the Holy Spirit, which you also cannot take for yourself. You see Simon the Magician, in the Book of Acts, who wanted this Spirit but could not get it for himself, and it was refused to him unless he would repent. Refused by whom? By the apostle, the ambassador or the King.

Yes, we are saved by Grace, we are brought into the People by someone else and given the Holy Spirit by someone else, which is Grace. And that Spirit and that Grace continue substantially in us, also Grace - new Virtues within us so we know how to do truly good works of Faith that we must do, for there is no one else in the world to do these works of Faith except the People who have the Virtues infused in their souls as we do.


Shaolen. Let me know if this helps.

If not I will try to supplement it on this thread.

God bless.



Aren’t we saved by Jesus’ death on the cross?
This is the problem I have with the song “Amazing Grace”.
Grace didn’t save me. Christ’s passion and death and Resurrection saved me. Grace is a bonus!


Isnt this what was settled by the Pope and the Lutherans.


Just out of curiosity, what does your Dad think of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25:31-46? Because it sure looks like it talks about

  1. Who gets saved and who doesn’t
  2. How works are involved in salvation, and
  3. It doesn’t mention faith at all (which would seem strange if we are saved by faith* alone*)


That was great!


I thank everyone for their help! Now I’d like to update everyone. The discussion has had an odd turn as my brother (who was previously catholic only in name and just recently joined a Baptist church) has jumped in. After I made the last response I talked about on this thread my brother stated this

““You seem to have a flawed view of salvation that it is a one time deal, that afterwards nothing can take away from us” contradicts with, “You are saved before you are in Christ to have your works count…” The part “to have your works count” says it is not a one time deal but rather you need to join the Body of Christ in order for your work to count. But it does not end there. Being “saved” doesn’t mean you will no longer be judged. Rather it means you have made a commitment to live your life more like Christ.”

I then responded “you make my case for me. I say he seems to be in the once saved always saved crowd because if he didn’t view being “saved” as a one time deal then he wouldn’t be arguing for faith alone.”

He then said “I think you misunderstand what “faith alone” is referring to. It’s not saying that it is all you do in life for salvation. If you read the definition of sola fide, it “excluding all ‘works,’ alone”. Therefore it never says works are not a part of it but the justification is by faith alone. Not the salvation. Sola fide directly translated means “Justification by faith”. Not “salvation” by faith alone.”

I then pointed out some errors of his saying “First let me correct something. Sola fide is Latin and directly translates to “by faith alone” its the doctrine of justification by faith alone. “Protestants exclude all human works from the legal verdict (or pardon) of justification.” That’s held as the definition of the doctrine. You’re playing a word game of semantics between justification and salvation. And even if we do take it as “justification is by faith alone” this doesn’t help your case because read the passage above “ye see then how by [works] a man is [justified] and not by faith [alone]” so you’re modified definition of sola fide is still in contradiction with scripture.”

He seemed to ignore most of my post saying only “I’m not playing a word game. Look it up.”

Finally I sort of repeated myself “like i said first get the translation right. “justification by faith” is not accurate. sola = alone, fide = faith. your translation is missing “alone” which is the key part. so if you truly believe that works play a role in it then you would not hold to sola fide (which is a great step in the right direction) because “alone” is apart from anything else. you can’t say we’re “justified by faith alone” without be in contradiction with true Christianity, one example why is James 2:24 which explicitly states the opposite”

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit