Which group believed in Faith alone before Luther?

Until today I thought Luther started it. I guess people before him have believed all kinds of heresies so he isn’t unique only in that he propagated it so much to the world.

I saw a quote in the Haydock Bible today from St. Augustine.

They that teach that it is sufficient to have faith only, do make such Christians as blindly follow them, as these Jews did their proselytes, children of hell far more than before. (St. Augustine, lib. de fide et oper. chap. xxvi.)

It was part of the commentary for Matthew 23:15.

As we know St. Augustine was around before Luther.


James the brother of the Lord addresses those guys.

It depends upon if there is inclusion of hope and charity in the belief.

H.H. Pope Benedict XVI said, Wednesday Audience, Nov. 19, 2008:
“Luther’s expression sola fide is true if faith is not opposed to charity, to love”

Council of Trent, VI, Canon 9:
If anyone says that the godless are justified by faith alone . . . let him be anathema.

Council of Trent, VI, Chapter. 7:
For faith, unless hope and charity are added thereto, neither unites one perfectly with Christ nor makes one a living member of his body.

Thanks for the Council of Trent references.

In this post I am referring to people who already have been Baptized. People who are already sons and daughters of God. People who are now graced and expected to work.

Nelka. Some of the fathers talk about “faith alone”.

Sometimes “faith alone adherents” will take these fathers quotes to mean no works done in grace or charity is necessary.

THESE “adherents” mean “faith alone” as a mere intellectual assent.

BUT . . . .

But when you look at EACH ONE of these fathers, and read their other points it is ALWAYS clear they are using “faith” not only in an intellectual belief sense, but in a “fidelity” sense TOO.

The reason I bring this up is, if you are having a private discussion on this “faith alone” issue, if you don’t know this beforehand, some “faith alone adherent” MAY trot out one of those fathers quotes to attempt to dissuade you from the Catholic belief.

If that happens, now you will not be bamboozled.

God bless.


I rather think that the theory now commonly used of the “faith alone” as saving us was developed over time rather than as a thunderbolt revelation. Once Luther became separated from the Catholic Church, he had to develop a theory to explain why sacraments were not necessary, doing penance to atone for sins, no apostolic succession, etc. In other words, no need to belong to the one, holy, apostolic and catholic church. Cherry picking certain scriptures was a way to prop up this theory.

I rather think that the theory now commonly used of the “faith alone” as saving us was developed over time rather than as a thunderbolt revelation. Once Luther became separated from the Catholic Church, he had to develop a theory to explain why sacraments were not necessary, doing penance to atone for sins, no apostolic succession, etc. In other words, no need to belong to the one, holy, apostolic and catholic church. Cherry picking certain scriptures was a way to prop up this theory.

Just off the top of my head, I would say that the Gnostics who believed that all matter was evil (and only spirit was good) would believe that any works in this world were, likewise, evil. Therefore, they’d have believed that only spiritual faith saves (whereas material/physical acts do not even have the capacity to work for the good).

Except that Luther never proclaimed that the sacraments were not necessary.

The Large Catechism of Martin Luther, Robert Fischer translation, pp. 80-81:

"It remains for us to speak of our two sacraments, instituted by Christ. Every Christian ought to have at least some brief, elementary instruction in them because without these no one can be a Christian …

First we shall take up Baptism through which we are first received into the Christian community. …

Moreover, it is solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved"

Please reread my post. “developed over time”:thumbsup:

I read and it looks like what you are saying is that over time Luther’s opinion on Sacraments changed?

To my knowledge he died a sacramental Christian

There are, in fact, seven sacraments.

I know this doesn’t address the question of origin, but the faith vs works discussion is always interesting. It could be argued that faith and works are two manifestations of the same thing. This is a bit like space and time. They look distinct, but they aren’t. One is a function of the other. Insisting it’s either/or is a false dichotomy.

Not so much…evolution in teachings across all protestant lines has transformed the true message of Jesus Christ and His church into the watered down version we have today. Reduction from seven sacraments to two, or in some cases, really none, sacramental matrimony and sacramental confession, even sacramental eucharist and holy orders exist no more. This certainly did not occur all at once. Erosion of the Christian faith and morals and even belief in the ten commandments as understood for many centuries have all fallen by the wayside in an attempt to destroy Christianity.

Saint Augustine on ‘faith alone’:

Christ’s saints imitate Him in order to pursue JUSTICE [Justification]. Whence also the same Apostle says: “Be imitators of me, even as I am of Christ” [1 Cor 11:1]. But besides this imitation, His GRACE also works WITHIN us our illumination and JUSTIFICATION, by that work of which His same preacher says: “Neither is he that plants anything, nor he that waters, but He that gives the increase, God” [1 Cor 3:7].

For by this GRACE baptized INFANTS too are ingrafted into His body, infants who certainly are not yet able to imitate anyone. Christ, in whom all are made alive, besides offering Himself as an example of RIGHTEOUSNESS for those who would imitate Him, gives also the most hidden GRACE of His Spirit to believers, GRACE which He secretly INFUSES EVEN INTO INFANTS. (Forgiveness of Sins 1:9:10)

You are the only authorities who suppose that JUSTIFICATION is conferred by the remission alone of sins. Certainly God JUSTIFIES the impious man not only by remitting the evil deeds which that man does, but ALSO by granting LOVE, so that the man may turn away from evil and may DO GOOD THROUGH the Holy Spirit. (Against Julian 2:165)

He that is by nature the only Son of God, in His mercy to us, was made Son of Man, so that we, by nature sons of man, might through Him BY GRACE BECOME SONS of God…For just as we, by the sinning of one man, have fallen into this so deplorable an evil, so too through JUSTIFICATION wrought by one Man, the same who is God, we shall come to that good so sublime. (City of God 21:15)

If anyone says that faith MERITS the grace of doing GOOD WORKS, we cannot deny it; rather we admit it most readily. THIS is the FAITH we wish they might have, the FAITH by which they might obtain that LOVE which ALONE truly DOES GOOD WORKS, those brothers of ours who glory so much in their works! LOVE, however, is so much the gift of God that it is called God [1 John 4:8]…

Let no one say to himself: “If [justification] is from faith, how is it freely given [Rom 5:1; 3:24] : If faith MERITS it, why is it not rather paid than given?” Let the faithful man not say such a thing; for, if he says: “I have faith, therefore I merit justification,” he will be answered: “What have you that you did not receive” [1 Cor 4:7]? If therefore, faith entreats and receives JUSTIFICATION, according as God has apportioned to each in the measure of his faith [Rom 12:3], nothing of human merit PRECEDES the grace of God, but grace itself MERITS INCREASE, and the increase MERITS PERFECTION, with the will ACCOMPANYING but not leading, following ALONG but not going in advance. (Letters 186:3:7,10)

What MERIT, then, does a man have BEFORE grace, by which he might RECEIVE grace, when our EVERY good merit is produced in us ONLY by grace, and, when God, crowning our merits, crowns nothing else but His own GIFTS to us? (Letters 194:5:19)

“He was handed over for our offenses, and He rose again for our JUSTIFICATION” [Rom 4:25]. What does this mean, “for our JUSTIFICATION” ? So that He might justify us; so that He might MAKE US JUST. You will be a work of God, not only because you are a man, but also because YOU ARE JUST…He who made you without your consent does not JUSTIFY you without your consent. He made you without your knowledge, but He does not JUSTIFY you without your WILLING it. (Sermons 169:13)

Now as to LOVE, which the Apostle says is greater than the other two, that is, than faith and hope [1 Cor 13:13], so much the better is he in whom it is found. For when it is asked whether someone is a good man, it is not asked what he BELIEVES or what he hopes for, but what he LOVES. For if someone loves rightly, without a doubt he believes and hopes rightly. But someone who does not love believes IN VAIN even if what he believes is TRUE; and he hopes IN VAIN, even if what he hopes for is rightly taught as pertaining to true happiness unless he believes and hopes for this also, that through prayer it may be given him to love…This however, is the FAITH of Christ which the Apostle commanded, which WORKS THROUGH LOVE [Gal 5:6]; and for whatever it does not yet have in love, it asks and receives, seeks and finds, knocks so that it will be opened to it [Matt 7:7]. Faith asks and OBTAINS what the law COMMANDS. For without the Gift of God, that is, without the Holy Spirit, through whom LOVE is poured out into our hearts [Rom 5:5], the law could command but could not help. Moreoever, the law could make a man a transgressor, who could not excuse himself on grounds of ignorance. Where there is NO love of God, carnal desire does reign. (Enchiridion of Faith, Hope, and Love 31:117)

What is grace? Something given -gratis-. What is given -gratis-? That which is bestowed rather than paid as owed. If it is owed, it is wages paid, not a gift graciously given. If it was truly owed, you have been good; but if, as is the case, you have been evil, but YOU DID BELIEVE IN HIM WHO JUSTIFIES THE IMPIOUS * – and what is MEANT BY “He justifies the impious?” That HE MAKES THE IMPIOUS PIOUS – think what was rightly threatened you by the law, and what you have obtained by grace! But since you have gotten that grace of faith, you shall be just by faith; for the just man lives by faith [Rom 1:17; Hab 2:4]. And by LIVING FAITH you shall DESERVE WELL of God; and when you shall have deserved well of God by LIVING by faith, as REWARD you shall receive immortality and ETERNAL LIFE. AND THAT IS GRACE. Because of what MERIT, then, do you receive ETERNAL LIFE? BECAUSE OF GRACE. (Homilies on the Gospel of John 3:9)*

It is accepted that there are two ordinances instituded directly by Christ himself and those are baptism and The Lord’s Supper. It is accepted by Protestants that the other 5 'sacrements" were established over the years but not directly institude by Christ’s command.

And while Lutherans recognize 2 (3) as sacraments, they practice all seven.

Neither Luther’s nor Lutheran belief developed over time away from the sacraments.

It can clearly be argued that confession/ absolution was instituted by Christ (binding and loosing).

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