Sola Fide

Hi all!

I’m honestly starting to wonder if there’s any difference between protestant and catholic soteriology at this point. From what I can tell, we’ve changed definitions so much that everything’s the same. For example:
Faith: belief in God-even Satan believes in Christ
Works: every work we do is a choice to follow Jesus/verifies our faith, by showing this it does some part(???) in the saving
Faith: belief that Jesus died for us, is our savior, etc
Works: verifies our faith, do not do any part in the saving

Am I oversimplifying it? I might have mixed up the Catholic part. I’m a bit confused right now. P.S. i just stuck this in apologetics because I didn’t know where else

Pax Christi!

You are oversimplifying it. There is not even “one” Protestant soteriology. A lot of it has to do with understanding what the Fall is and how the virtue of faith works. A million questions to ask, many more distinctions to make.

Keep reading. :thumbsup:

You might be a little young to remember the Catholicism of the 40’s., 50’s, and early 60’s. Many religious who taught emphasized the idea that faith without good works is dead as the Scripture writer said. Hence much emphasis was put on doing good works as a way of following Christ. Many of the Protestant denominations saw this Catholic emphasis (particularly to young children) as doing works could “earn” one’s way into heaven. That one could give enough money to the church and charity, could feed the poor, clothe the naked, comfort the sorrowing, and the other corporal works of mercy, that God “owed” one a place in heaven.

I think many of the Protestant denominations took issue with this idea and quoted Scripture that said salvation is by faith alone. The dichotomy somewhat hardened into an us against them position. Personally, I think it got out of hand. After all, if faith alone is all that is needed to get into heaven, and if Protestants truly believe that, then Presbyterian Hospital here in Pittsburgh is an absolute oxymoron.

By the way, this dichotomy of thinking goes well back before the time frame I cited. I do think Luther himself took issue with it. In fact, it might well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak.


To the OP: If you are willing to dig deep into this issue, and willing to interpret the Church teachings through the Evangelical lens of the Gospel, then you will find that there really is not TOO MUCH difference between the best Protestant understanding on this and ours.

Although, one must be careful. Not all Protestants have the same understanding as all other Protestants. There is no single Protestant magesterium. But the best Protestants teach that saving faith includes love, is brought about by The Holy Spirit, and is inextricably connected with sanctification. Such an understanding is almost identical to ours, except for the fact that Protestants generally conceive of justification as a forensic declaration that does not necessarily include a change in the ontological quality of our souls so that we actually become “just” when declared to be so.

A good article on this subject:

Enjoy. :slight_smile:

Are you saying that securing justification is the only reason why we should do good things like create hospitals? :confused:

The Catholic Church teaches that we’re saved by grace alone. Anything that we do towards that end, of salvation, is a response to what God does to begin with, beginning with the gift of faith. The Church teaches that faith is “the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification”. Many other graces follow, such as the “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” spoken of in Eph 2:10.

The real key in any case is that in Catholicism grace is resistible at any point. Our part is to* cooperate* with it, a concept not all Protestant theology agrees with, and to cooperate with it all our lives, following God and growing in justice or righteousness continuously. Our salvation is only 100% assured when He says so, in the judgement at the end of our lives. Meanwhile we’re expected to do the best we can with the gifts given: time, opportunities, experience, knowledge, revelation, grace, etc. Reference Luke 12:48 & The Parable of the Talents to see how this dynamic plays out.

From the Catholic’s position and from the Gospels themselves as well as the Epistles, faith is most important but it is not all or only, good works go with it. All through the Gospel’s and Epistle’s we see that Good works go along with faith sine faith without good works is not faith at all its only a false faith.

When one reads James, he we see was having problems with converted Pharisees were going around Jerusalem preaching and teaching that no one needed to do any good works they only needed faith to be saved. james spoke against that saying faith without good works is a dead faith or no faith at all. Now Paul was having the same problem with converted Pharisees who were preaching and teaching converted Gentiles that in order to be saved they have to be circumcised and follow the Laws of Moses. Paul said as Christians one was no longer under the Laws of Moses as those Laws would not save anyone. Remember nearly all of the Laws of Moses were rituals one had to preform  whereas Paul was saying Christians were no longer under Jewish laws but now members of Christ's body and that having faith saves because one does good works. Good works are not the same as preforming the rituals under the Laws of Moses and Jewish Religious laws. There is a very big difference between the two.

Just saying one has faith, that one believes in Christ as the Son of God and the Son of Man is not enough to be saved Faith is a action word its something one does not something one just says. which is why sola fide never works.

Nope. Just an observation.

Were you implying that those who believe in justification by faith alone would be in some way acting illogically by doing good works?

Illogical, no; contradictory, yes. Sort of like an avowed vegetarian ordering a filet mignon in a restaurant.

there is nothing contradictory about it whatsoever.

there is no good deed we could ever do in order to merit initial justification.

the only thing we can do is receive the gift offered us by our Merciful God.

good works flow from the reception of His Love, and are worked in us by Him.

I think you are talking about the substance of this concept. I’m merely saying the semantics are contradictory.

If you internalize James 2:14-26 you will see that the writer is making it clear that faith and works cannot be separated. So the distinction of faith vs works is a false one.

Personally I would not know how to have faith, which requires an act of my will, without doing a work. So I am not very concerned with this distinction. You will find that most Catholics are not concerned with this distinction.

Salvation is a gift just like life itself. Let’s be thankful for it and stay humble. And to be practical, if you want to receive a gift from someone, it would be a good idea to show up, and be thankful. I think that is all we can do. Showing up means to do what Jesus told us to do. And he told us to do plenty of works since he wants us to help him.‘Take up your cross…’ Is that a work? And of course, this requires faith.

Yes indeed, making a distinction between faith and works is confusing and wrong, just like James tells us.

I agree with you that in the end there is no difference between Catholic and Protestant salvation. In both cases trying to distinguish faith and works fails. And in both cases, salvation is a gift from our creator. Of course it is.

The error is usually only when someone says that salvation comes by faith alone. We know some protestants that say that if they have faith in Jesus, then they are saved. That is quite a bold assertion and most Catholics would take issue with it since it is illogical and denies the fact that salvation is a gift from God It is also not biblical and is heretical. The problem being that faith and works cannot be separated as James explains and that salvation is obviously a gift from God. Most people understand this intuitively Catholic or Protestant.

God bless Frankenfurter and every readers of the CAF.


Quote: “In fact, in TRADITIONAL WORKS OF CATHOLIC THEOLOGY, one regularly encounters the statement that FORMED FAITH IS JUSTIFYING FAITH. If one has formed faith, one is justified. Period.

**Sola fide formata = FORMED FAITH ALONE

a. BELIEF (Unconditional BELIEF in what God says.)

b. HOPE (Unconditional TRUST in God.)

c. CHARITY (Unconditional LOVE for God.)**

On the subject of the kind of justification discussed in James 2:24.

Trent quotes this verse only once and then applies it to progressive, not initial justification, so one does not have to do good works to get into a state of justification; good works are fruits of the state of justification, not causes for entering it.

The fact this passage does not refer to initial justification should be obvious since the justification of Abraham it refers to occurred years after Abraham was first justified by faith in Genesis 12, when By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go (Heb. 11:8).

Thus James 2:24 refers to later, progressive justification, by which one grows in righteousness, not initial justification, when ones sins are forgiven. End quote.




Nihil obstate: Father Anton Cowan

Imprimatur: Monsignor John Crowley, VG Westminster, 28 May 1985

**Quote: **“There is ONE CENTRAL QUESTION here: how can we become RIGHTEOUS and be SAVED?

We NOT justified by what we do (works, observing law) but by FAITH IN CHRIST.

Salvation is NOT a matter of achieving but RECEIVING IT FREELY from God hands, in faith.” End quote.

JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church

3/17 Justification is SOLELY due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we RECEIVE IN FAITH, and NEVER CAN MERIT IT ANY WAY.

4/25 We confess together that sinners are justified by faith in the saving action of God in Christ. WHATEVER in the JUSTIFIED PRECEDES or FOLLOWS the free gift of faith is NEITHER THE BASIS of justification NOR MERITS it.

4/27.The Catholic understanding also sees faith as fundamental in justification. For without faith, no justification can take place. Thus justifying grace never becomes a human possession. While Catholic teaching emphasizes the renewal of life by justifying grace, this RENEVAL in FAITH, HOPE, LOVE is always dependent on God’s unfathomable grace and contributes NOTHING to JUSTIFICATION.

4/37 We confess together that good works - a Christian life lived in faith, hope and love - FOLLOW JUSTIFICATION and ARE ITS FRUITS.


C. Justification takes place "by grace alone“ (JD 15 and 16), by faith alone, the person is justified „apart from works“ (Rom 3:28, cf. JD 25).

D. "Whatever in the justified precedes or follows the free gift of faith is neither the basis of justification nor merits it“ (JD 25).

  1. The doctrine of justification is measure or touchstone for the Christian faith.No teaching may contradict this criterion. In this sense, the doctrine of justification is an "indispensable criterion which constantly serves to orient all the teaching and practice of our churches to Christ“ (JD l8).




Quote:** Protestants who say, … Catholics believe we must do good works in order to become justified — a position which was explicitly condemned at Trent, which taught “nothing that precedes justification, whether faith or works, merits the grace of justification” (Decree on Justification 8).

Justification is the cause, not the consequence, of good works.

The Church teaches that we are made totally righteous — **we receive 100% pure righteousness — in justification. **

You don’t have to do a diddly-do-da thing after being justified by God in baptism in order to go to heaven.

There is no magic level of works one needs to achieve in order to go to heaven.
One is saved the moment one is initially justified. End quote.

Unfortunately some Christian doesn’t know the differences between Initial Justification and Progressive Justification.

Our Initial Justification is an instant event at our baptism.

Our Initial justification is God’s free gift, Christ merited for us on the cross.

As God’s children/elect, at our Initial Justification we have received God free gift of IRREVOCABLE Everlasting life/Salvation, in addition **we have received God’s special grace The Gift of Final Perseverance **which is an Eternal Protection of our Everlasting life/Salvation, to lose it and to end up in hell is a theological impossibility. – DE FIDE Dogma.

For us as God’s children/elect It is crucial to know; at our Initial Justification we get our irrevocable entrance to Heaven as God’s gift and we don’t need to work for it, so all our future works can be done freely out of sheer love for the Glory of God and out of sheer love for others, not for to do slave works to obtain salvation.

After our Initial Justification (monergism) which is an instant event, follow our Progressive Justification (synergism) which is a lifetime event from our Initial Justification until we die.

This is the time when we all should put under our belts as much supernatural works as we can.

By our cooperation with the grace of God we do all kinds of Christian works, not for our entrance to heaven as we have it from our Initial Justification, and it is an irrevocable gift of God.

We do all kinds of Christian works out of sheer love for the Glory of God and out of sheer love for others, this is the only kind of works which is WORKS OF LOVE and the only kind of works that God rewards it in heaven.


As God’s children/elect,** heaven is God’s free gift we have received it at our Initial Justification at baptism,** it is an irrevocable gift.
We don’t need to work for it and we cannot work for it.

Our rewards in heaven is not free, by our cooperation with the grace of God we do all kinds of Christian works, God rewards our good works in heaven if it is up to the standard of supernatural works.

We get our rewards in Heaven by Faith + works.

If all our works we have done, is not up to the standard of supernatural works, than all our works are wood, hay and straw, rejected by God at the judgment, yet we still keep God’s irrevocable gift of Heaven and we enter to Heaven without any reward. – 1 Cor.3:12-15.

This is a great loss, because our position and glory in heaven is determined by God according to the outcome of the judgment of our works.

God bless Frankenfurter and every readers of the CAF.


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