Sola fide


#1

Claiming you believe something and actually believing it are two different things. I could announce to all the world that I believe my real name is Fred. Doesn’t make it true!

I get the impression from many Catholics that the objection to sola fide isn’t really that we believe Faith is for Salvation and Works for Sanctification but instead that they mean to call us liars. “See you weren’t saved by faith cause you lied about your faith in the first place!”

If that isn’t what you mean please set me straight cause I keep seeing all these posts about how people say they are saved and still sin or accusing Protestants of being Antinomian. The first is not a result of sola fide and the second is just plain false.


#2

To be frank, the fact is Faith Alone is heretical and thus false and unBiblical, the problem is, in order to defend it numerous spins and other mental gymnastics have been attempted.

Approaching the issue head on we realize that if faith alone is all that is needed to be saved, then logically works dont affect your salvation. How protestants have answered this logical conclusion has been a matter of endless mental gymnastics.


#3

You didn’t answer my question though. I know the Catholic take on Sola Fide. The question is… is it really your intention to simply call Protestants liars?

Approaching the issue head on we realize that if faith alone is all that is needed to be saved, then logically works dont affect your salvation. How protestants have answered this logical conclusion has been a matter of endless mental gymnastics.

You are accusing protestants of Antinominism. Protestants are not Antinominists. If you believe so you are mistaken.

If you don’t believe we are antinominists abd you believe it’s possible to have real saving Faith and not any works then you are calling Protestant liars, not just heretics.


#4

Not liars, but rather spinning the issue to avoid the logical conclusions. For example when Catholics point out the charge of antinomianism (ie Christians are free to sin as they please) then the Protestant often responds with stuff like “they were probably never saved in the first place”.

You are accusing protestants of Antinominism. Protestants are not Antinominists. If you believe so you are mistaken.

If you don’t believe we are antinominists abd you believe it’s possible to have real saving Faith and not any works then you are calling Protestant liars, not just heretics.

Some protestants believe salvation cannot be lost, thus if one of them sins they wont lose salvation…how do you answer this without ending up claiming we are judged by our works (eg Rom 2:6-8).

I realize it is NOT your intention to be antinomian either in teaching or life practice, the fact is that doesnt address the reality of the teaching of faith alone and its logical conclusions (not to mention the Scriptural evidence against grave sin, eg Gal 5:19-21).


#5

This IS the point… You seem to not have a clear view of what saving faith is??? Perhaps we should start with your definition of “Faith” perhaps it is different than the protestant one.


#6

Right on. Look up “faith” in the OT. Only in 2 places does it refer to intellectual consent. Everywhere else, it is used as “faithfulness” – the match-up between what you say you’re going to do and what you do. It is most frequenly applied to God himself.

Only in the NT do you get this nuance that faith is an emotional assent. But then, even so, the Scriptures are loaded with the affirmation that faith and works are inseparable.

I think most Protestants do NOT define “faith” as pure intellectual assent on a one-time basis but that they really DO believe that faith requires “legs” – works. But the shriek of “faith alone! faith alone!” has been going on for 470 years so many people THINK that means intellectual assent as opposed to doing as you believe. It’s an old reaction against the supposedly Catholic teaching that you can work your way to heaven without faith or grace.

I don’t think we’re all that far apart. Listen to Charles Stanley try to wiggle out of the need for works: he can’t. Nor does he WANT to because he understands that works COMPLETE faith (James 2:22). Salvation is not about either faith **or **works. Scripture shows that they are inseparable. No respectable Protestant is an antinomian, although that IS the logical end of an absolute definition of faith alone..


#7

That is the thing the “need for works” isn’t whats disputed between Catholics and Protestants… It’s simply a dispute about “when” in the process we are “saved.”

Since we are looking at the protestant definition I will quote Luther (a first for me LOL; bold mine)

[quote= Luther]“Faith, however, is something that God effects in us. It changes us and we are reborn from God. Faith puts the old Adam to death and makes us quite different men in heart, in mind and in all our powers. And it is accompanied by the Holy Spirit. Oh, when it comes to faith, what a living creative active powerful thing it is. It **cannot do other than good **at all times. It never waits to ask whether there is *some good work to do, rather before the question is raised, it has done the deed and keeps on doing it. A man not active in this way is a man without faith. ***He is groping about for faith and searching for good works but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Nevertheless he keeps on talking nonsense about faith and good works. It is impossible indeed to separate works from faith just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire,”
[/quote]

Doesn’t sound even remotely like Antinominism to me. It’s not saying that works are not necessary or required by God. Sola Fide was never meant to separate works from faith.

If you say a Protestant has only “an emotional assent” and therefore can/might do whatever he pleases rather than obeying God, you are misunderstanding the Protestant position.


#8

Yes, you would be correct.

There is a different definition.

The Catholic Church has always defined faith as intellectual assent alone.

It would seem as if Luther should have known this so with the cry of “faith alone” Luther was not in fact saying the same thing that most Protestants say today.

Today, when Protestants say faith alone, for many, that would be the same as the Catholic saying faith + hope + charity.

However, no one has explained why Luther, a Catholic priest would not have understood the Catholic definition of Faith and why then, he would say we are saved by intellectual assent alone?

God bless,
Maria
by James AkinJustification by Faith Alone


#9

So basically Luther came along and redefined what the word faith had meant for 1500 years in christianity?

How could the Catholic Church not say it was wrong when the common man, who would not have read Luther, but just heard the “cry of the reformation” of faith alone, when the common man would have understood this to mean we are saved through intellectual assent alone since that was the definition of faith?

I think Catholics have such a problem with the TERM faith alone because it is so unbiblical.

We are NOT saved by faith alone, scripture clearly states this. It is only by redefining faith or calling it a “saving faith” that one cannot totally contradict the plain words of scripture. We are not saved by faith alone and to have that particular term, no matter how one wants to define it, is misleading and unscriptural.

I think that is the real heart of the matter.


#10

From some of what I’ve read, Luther believed that there was more to faith than intellectual assent alone.

“Instead, faith is God’s work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are.”

ctsfw.edu/etext/luther/quotes/faith.asc

Sometimes I think that Catholics and Protestants “let the words get in the way” when it comes to the faith/works “debate”. In the end, don’t we both believe that a true disciple of Christ --one who is squarely on the narrow road to heaven – would exhibit intellectual assent as well as submission to Gods’ will and works of charity or kindness? Then, again, maybe I just can’t grasp the distinctions…


#11

Well this attests to the very confusing debates on this forum. So often we are all using words that no one actually agrees on the meaning of.

It would seem as if Luther should have known this so with the cry of “faith alone” Luther was not in fact saying the same thing that most Protestants say today.

Today, when Protestants say faith alone, for many, that would be the same as the Catholic saying faith + hope + charity.

However, no one has explained why Luther, a Catholic priest would not have understood the Catholic definition of Faith and why then, he would say we are saved by intellectual assent alone?

God bless,
Maria
Justification by Faith Alone by James Akin

I think Luther DID understand the Catholic definition and was, in his writing, saying how it should be instead. Luther was protesting the Catholic Church not claiming to agree with it. Note his comment on how they cannot be seperated. Luther didn’t coin the 5 solas directly… the Reformers pulled them out as a summary. Now people seem to try and summarize the summary the more you keep summarizing summaries the more it loses it’s meaning.


#12

Well if you can’t then I can’t either. I agree that the words get in the way.

That is one of the reasons that I stay away from the EO boards. Someone will ask a question like, what is the difference in understanding of original sin of the Catholic Church and the EO. Someone will state the EO position and I am left scratching my head, because it sounds just like the Catholic one. I then am told that the Catholic church has come closer to the EO position, yet when shown this is simply not true, they again say that we have the wrong definition and understanding of original sin.

In fact, one of the funniest threads I have been in on these forums was when someone (non-Catholic) was arguing and telling us that the Catholic church does NOT teach that we earn our way to heaven. It was funny because he could not figure out why everyone always said this when the teachings of the Catholic Church clearly do not teach that we earn our way to heaven through good works. I think he even wondered when Catholics had changed this teaching to the right way:rolleyes:


#13

Very true.

And yet, James would seem to disagree with Luther’s assertion since James did separate them out by saying we are not saved by faith alone, ie that there is such a thing as intellectual assent alone.

But I would agree with you that the more something is summarized, the more it loses it’s meaning. But it also shows why the Catholic Church condemned so completely the term faith alone.

One can certainly come along and choose to change definitions that have been around for over a thousand years, but that doesn’t mean one has to agree to the definition.

It is similar to the word Pray. Pray for most protestants is a term that refers to something one does to God alone. However, this is NOT how the word has been used historically in over 2000 years of Christianity. It is like the new kid on the block coming along and saying, well your name is now Johnny, you can’t use the name John anymore. (Kind of like saying we are the Roman Catholic Church and not the just the Catholic Church anymore.)


#14

You have a point, yet when the language changes people should adjust or risk being misunderstood. The words “pray” and “charity” are good examples. They simply do not mean today what they meant in the past. It would be irresponsible of people to use the old meanings. Language does change, indeed it constantly changes unless, like Latin, it is dead.


#15

I don’t think Luther was denying there is a such thing as intellectual assent, I think he was denying it had the ability to save. I think that is what he meant when he said

[quote="luther]He is groping about for faith and searching for good works but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Nevertheless he keeps on talking nonsense about faith and good works.
[/quote]

But if we refuse to talk about the real original definitions and only talk about the new ones… we get nowhere but confused.

Sola Fide now seems to have three definitions:[LIST=1]
*]Luthers definition (and the one the Refomers meant when they used the term)
*]What Catholics interpret the summary of Luther’s definition to mean without looking at what it was a summary of.
*]What random people make up for it to mean.[/LIST]I see no point in discussing what random people arbitrarily decided. It woudn’t accomplish anything.


#16

Yet this is the teaching of the Catholic Church so what was the protest here?

One cannot be saved by faith alone, ie, intellectual assent alone. Nor was it the Catholic Church who coined the phrase “faith alone”.

Why was this term used? Why use a term that contradicts scripture in an effort to redefine what faith means?

But if we refuse to talk about the real original definitions and only talk about the new ones… we get nowhere but confused.

Sola Fide now seems to have three definitions:
[LIST=1]
*]Luthers definition (and the one the Refomers meant when they used the term)
*]What Catholics interpret the summary of Luther’s definition to mean without looking at what it was a summary of.
*]What random people make up for it to mean.[/LIST]I see no point in discussing what random people arbitrarily decided. It woudn’t accomplish anything.

I see no point in #3 either.

However, I do see merit in the first two.

However, as it comes to number 2, I submit to you that while the Catholic Church did in fact respond to Luther’s premise. Harshly and quickly. And the Catholic Church was not beholden to delve more deeply into his summary when the words on the surface were so misleading. (Although I am in no way saying the Catholic Church did not go into it in depth, just that when the surface is so misleading to the common man, this is what was responded to for the sake of the salvation of the common man.)

Whether or not Luther wished to change the definition of Faith to mean the same thing that the Catholic Church meant by faith hope and charity, to use the term “faith alone” is simply not acceptable and should not be acceptable to any Chrisitan today since the term, if not the meaning of the term, contradicts scripture. And any term that is so misleading, and contradicts scripture on so clearly, should not be used, even if one wants to redefine the term faith.

One is not saved by faith alone. This is the clear teaching of scripture so any desire to redefine the term faith to make it a “saving faith” does not make sense when scripture does not talk about faith alone as a saving faith, but does talk about faith alone NOT saving you.

Peace and God Bless,
Maria


#17

I got a vocabulary lesson! :smiley:
I had to look up the word “Antinominists”…

Antinomianism —Theology The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.

Source: Dictionary.com

So an antinominist must be someone that holds to that theology stated above; right?

Sadly, I personally know some Non-Catholics that hold to that theology. They can do whatever they want to do and they don’t have to have remorse. They don’t care about the 10 Commandments. They don’t care about anything but doing what they want to do… Seriously, for them all they have to do is have faith that Jesus is Lord. That’s it period. (Of course they believe that grace is a gift. Being a gift it is something freely given. So to me it seems it never crosses their mind.)

Then on the other end I know people that believe that they can work their way into Heaven. *(We can’t work our way into Heaven.) * This is something that Non-Catholic’s in general accused Catholics of all the time.

For me it seems that “mud” get flung both ways equally. Side A accuses Side B for having an antinomianism view and Side B accuses Side A for believing that they can work their way into Heaven. (Yes there are some on both sides that do believe this. However it should be clear that it doesn’t mean that it is true for everyone. Also in many cases it’s not the Official teaching of that person’s church. Yet, because they personally believe that way all members of that church get accused of believing it.)

I hear you! It’s not just a problem here but everywhere. We all time to time “assume” to know what the other person is talking about, because we have an understanding of what it is to us. Therefore, we apply our personal understanding to the people around us.

We see “black”, but the person we are talking to might see “white”. One of the key a points of Apologetics is to understand what the person you are talking to means when they say things like “works”; “faith”; “grace”; “tradition” etc. (The list is endless) If we can do that it will really help.

If it truly boils down to “when” in the process we are “saved” then why are we fighting about it? 2+3=5 and 3+2=5


#18

I know a lot of people, mostly Protestants, who think that sola fide includes the once-saved-always saved belief.
I also personally know several good people who at one time truly and sincerely believed in God and had accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. I have no doubt that they were sincere, nor do most of those who knew them at the time. Later, however, they came to believe differently. One is a Wiccan now, another is an atheist and a couple are agnostics. In the faith they had at one time (it was mine also), once you accepted Christ you were “saved” and nothing could prevent you from going to heaven. According to this way of thinking, their current beliefs and practices have no bearing on their salvation.
Some old friends now say that they could not have been sincere in their Christian beliefs. I can’t agree, and I knew all of them very well.
I do know that I’m very glad that God will make the final determination in all our cases!


#19

Well said mommof02green! And I had to look up antinominism too. :wink:


#20

Ah. There’s the rub. There is no “the” Protestant position. There are a multiplicity of Protestant positions.


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