Why I rejected Sola Fide


#1

One of the two pillars of the Protestant Reformation is Sola Fide, or “Faith Alone.” When I attended a Baptist, and later a non-denominational church, I heard this from the pulpit, on Evangelical TV and radio programs, as well as tracts and books. I was told that salvation was merely a matter of “believing in Jesus.” However, as a devout Christian, I read the Bible thoroughly, and what I read troubled me. The most obvious was the second chapter of James where he tells us that faith without works is dead and that we are not justified by faith alone (and this is the only time in the entire Bible that the words “faith alone” is mentioned). When I expressed my doubts to other Evangelical Christians, they directed me to Romans 10:9:

for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

I was also given John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

        This and other passages indicated the importance of believing in Jesus to have eternal life, which I felt was Scriptural evidence of “Faith Alone.”

However, I read in James 2:19 that “Even the demons believe that and tremble.”Jesus himself warns in Matthew 7:21 that not all who say ‘Lord, Lord’ will inherit the Kingdom and in Luke 6:46 chides his listeners "Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?” Indeed, some of the things in the Bible that scared me the most were the words that came from the mouth of our Savior. In addition to the above quotes, the parables in Matthew 25 worried me greatly. In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the parable of the talents, and the parable of the sheep and goats no mention at all was made of faith or belief. In each parable, salvation or damnation was based clearly on what one did or failed to do. Also, a few verses down from John 3:16 (John 3:36) Jesus tells us “whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him” So exactly what kind of belief in Jesus would save one? And how does Jesus expect us to obey him?
When a rich young man came to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to keep the commandments:

“'You shall not kill;

you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself’" (Matthew 19:18-19).

Later, in Matthew 22:38-40 Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are to

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.

So, salvation then is based as St Paul tells us, on “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).

continued…


#2

St Paul also says:

If I had [FONT=Arial]all faith to move mountains, but had not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).

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St John gives us several warnings to this effect in his first epistle:

whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him (2:4)

and

The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth (3:16-18)

and

If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (4:20-21).

Paul tells us

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This is true. Salvation is purely the gift of God. It is not something we can accomplish on our own. However, as Paul continues in verse 10, we are “created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” How we respond to that grace is of paramount importance. Paul also stated the need to show one’s repentance by one’s deed (Acts 26:20), and tells us in 1 Tim 5:8 that those who neglect their families are worse than unbelievers. If we fail to respond to the grace that God gives us, we are like the foolish servant who buried his talent in the field. The Bible makes it clear that we will be judged according to our works.

Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29).

I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds” (Revelation 20:12-13).

Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds (Revelation 22:12).

As a Protestant I desperately wanted to believe in the doctrine of Sola Fide. However, as someone who read and accepted the whole Bible, I could not reconcile that doctrine with what I read in Scripture. Additionally, when I discovered what the Catholic Church actually taught (as opposed to what non-Catholics told me it taught), I realized that it and not the Protestant doctrine of Sola Fide, was in sync with the Bible.


#3

This is what made me uncomfortable when my wife made me go to Calvary Chapel. The questions were never answered, they were just glossed over and answered without answers.

Essentially once you start to delve into it then it really becomes that “we believe in Faith Alone, but it really isn’t alone”
“It is a Faith that involves action.”

So why not just say “Faith working through Love”?
Heck it is in the Bible…

Oops, we cannot since it is too Catholic.

Scylla


#4

RNRobert
You have made your choice as I have made mine. When faced with reconciling faith and works and my years of Bible reading and investigation of various thoughts, I gave it up. Put Bede back in a box, no need to read the church history of an obviously flawed belief system.
And then…
I found a person who said they believed all the Bible, which I thought was intellectually honest UNLESS a passage was clearly symbolic, and I laughed. Well, wouldn’t you? It cannot be done, I tried. In order to do that, verses have to be explained. It does not REALLY mean that and so forth. I will pick this guy apart and he will be warming a pew in the UU church just like me!
After spending years trying to find the errors in dispensationalism, I could not and so I can now be a Bible believer, and not a Bible corrector. I have no desire to argue your perspective. My purpose on Earth is to defend the Bible and bringing the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.


#5

Hi RightlyDivide,

My point is that in many Protestant churches, salvation is nothing more than a form of ‘fire insurance’ which is achieved by reciting a “sinner’s prayer” (which is mentioned nowhere in Scripture and “believing in Jesus,” whereas Scripture teaches our faith in Jesus is useless unless we back it up with our deeds, which is what we will be judged on. IOW, while they claim to follow the Bible, they contradict what the Bible teaches.
The only way for me to believe in Sola Fide would be to use one of these when reading Scripture:

In other words, pick out the few verses that seem to support Sola Fide and discard the rest.


#6

Speaking of cherry-picking verses to support Sola Fide, another forum member made this comment, which I think appropos here:


#7

RNRobert
I have a feeling you no idea what I am talking about. If you did, you would never use the words “sinners prayer” around a dispensationalist. A Baptist of course you would. I don’t blame you. You would not be expected to. You are a member of the world’s group and well…I am not. While I know you will not agree with a word of it, I submit a reasoned defense of my beliefs.
geocities.com/protestantscot/ttd/ttd_chap1.html


#8

Rightlydivide,

I went to the website you included in your post. Can you summarize the main tenets of faith for a dispensationalist? What is the world’s group? And in keeping with the topic, do you believe in Sola Fide?? Please exuse my ignorance…God Bless


#9

world’s group is a typo. My aversion to adjectives resulted in a dropped “largest”. It is a personal flaw and not dispensationalist theology to drop adjectives…my apologies.
I decided to give you an overview from our friends at Wikipedia. Your question is not ignorance, we are not mainstream.

The majority of dispensationalists are known as Acts 2 dispensationalists, or mainstream dispensationalism. They believe the present church began on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The majority also believe the New Testament epistles of James through Jude were written directly to the present church. Likewise, most dispensationalists also believe the doctrine contained in the Four Gospels also pertains to the present church.

However, there are two minority camps within dispensationalism commonly referred to as hyper-dispensationalists (or ultra-dispensationalists). One camp, known as the Mid-Acts view, believe the church began with the Apostle Paul in Acts chapters 9-13. The second camp believe that the church began with the Apostle Paul in Acts 28. Both camps differ over the relevance of Paul’s ministry from the middle of Acts to the end of the book, and consequently over Paul’s epistles written prior to the so-called Prison Epistles.

Both camps believe that the Church of today is based on Paul’s unique ministry. This concept may be referred to as the “Pauline Distinctive” or “Gospel of the Grace of God” and marks an unmistakable shift away from the Mosaic law and the opening of the Church to uncircumcised Gentiles. It is this distinction, rather than eschatology as such, that marks hyper-dispensationalists.

One notable implication of hyper-dispensationalism is the view that the four Gospels (biographies of Jesus’ earthly ministry) and many of the New Testament epistles written by the Twelve Apostles were applicable to the Jews of Jesus’ day, and will be applicable to the coming millennial kingdom. These books are held as proclaiming the “Gospel of the Kingdom”, and as such are not applicable for the Christian, largely Gentile, church of today. The Pauline Epistles are held to be the primary authority for the Church as they proclaim the Gospel of the Grace of God.

The prefixes “hyper” or “ultra” simply mean “farther than”, and are not meant to be derogatory terms, although some mainstream dispensationalists use them as such. These two groups are called “hyper-dispensationalists” because they tend to take dispensational concepts farther than their more traditional brethren.


#10

Rightlydivide,

Your apologies accepted for the adjective dropping error.:smiley:

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I will take more time with the website you included in your previous post but this gives me a good idea as a synopsis. I have always heard of dispensationalism but never heard it defined. Thanks again and God Bless :slight_smile:


#11

Kudos. Excellent. It is a completely clear and cogent explanation. God bless you for this.


#12

I used to be both a Southern Baptist and a dispensationalist. The Baptist theologian Charles Ryrie is one also and also the late Vernon Mcgee. I used to sinners prayer and knew many Baptist dispensationalists that did.


#13

I know you believe dispensationalism is Scriptural. However, I am curious as to when in history do you see dispensationalism being first taught after the Scriptural era?


#14

David Currie mentions dispensationalism in his book *Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic. *Basically, only certain books of the Bible are applicable to Christians today. Personally (and I’m trying to say this charitably) , I think it’s just another type of cherry-picking.

Many times people think there’s some sort of contradiction between Paul and James. There isn’t. Often Paul was writing to converted Jews (like Galatians) who were still focused on the Mosaic Law, and when he discusses ‘works’ he isn’t talking about good works, but works of the Law, that is, the Torah. If he believed in Sola Fide, then why we he say to “work out your salvation in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)?


#15

Aspects of dispensationalism have been taught throughout history so that is a very broad question. For example, a premillennial belief is found in many writings early on. Salvation by faith as well. Clement’s letter to the Corinthians and in the writings of Polycarp as well. As far as seeing the disntinct role of Paul, you have the Paulicians, probably the most misunderstood and mislabeled group in the history of Christianity, as the The Key of Truth found in the late 19th century attests.
As a former dispensationalist though, I would expect you to know that is irrelevent though. Who taught what, and when, outside of scripture, if followed to an extreme, could cause someone to abdandon biblical truth and adhere to a system which finds Christian truth in segments of noninspired writings…hypothetically speaking…
If I could reword your question,
When did modern dispensational understanding of biblical truths develop? That would be over the last 200 years. It took awhile for the Bible, freed from its…instituitional understanding …to be examined after the Reformation and so one would expect the understanding to take awhile. The key to dispensationalism is salvation by faith alone. While previous dispensations had works as an expression of faith, this present dispensation does not, although I am sure you were already familiar with that reasoning.


#16

#17

#18

The key to dispensationalism is salvation by faith alone.

If, as you believe, the key to all of this is salvation by Faith alone… I have a very simple test for you. The more preeminent the document, the more frequently its teachings are in the bible?

There is a second part to this. All teachings of Christ will have some shadow in the OT. (the Old is revealed in the New) The Larger and more important the Theology, the larger the shadow. Since Faith Alone is the KEY doctrine to protestantism in general, if it were true, there should be a huge shadow of it in the Old as well as in Jewish Worship.

Simple question

Where is Faith alone taught in the OT and Jewish Worship. If it is taught in the OT, why have the Jewish people never believed this.

If it is in the Old, please provide accepted OT verses that support it. Since it is such a huge doctrine for all protestants, there should be countless supporting arguments.

If it is NOT in the Old, then it cannot be true.

Why…

The Old is Revealed in the New…
The new did NOT abolish the Old, but was fulfilled in Christ.

It is a simple test. That being said, I look forward to the verses and documented Jewish worshiping traditions that support Faith Alone

In Christ


#19

#20

Correct me if I am misunderstanding you, but it sounds to me as though you are saying you do not believe the old is revealed in the new.

Am I misunderstanding you?

If however, You do agree that the old is revealed in the new, then there should be something resembling Faith alone in the OT.

If there is not, then faith alone is false…

I truly do pray that you do not regect that the Old is revealed in the New as it is in scripture. Both implicitly and explicit;y.

If it isn’t, why then does Christ say he did not come to abolish the law, but fullfill it. The first 5 books of the OT are all about the various aspects of the law. all following books are the applications (or lack there of) of the Law.

Also, If the old is NOT revealed in the New, why then do EACH of the NT Authors always have something akin to “scripture says” or “Prophecy says” or “It is written”. The NT authors most assuredly believed the Old was revealed in the New.

I pray I am misunderstanding you because otherwise, you are removing from Gods word.

with respect to your verses… yes there are aspects of CHRIST that were not known… for example, the Jews were looking for a political leader. Not Jesus. However, Once revealed who he was, you can go back to the OT with the new understanding and see that the scriptures were true. Those things that were not known or hidden from previous generations were because they did not have the Point of reference in Christ.Christ basically came and said here is what these verses truely meant.

IOW… The reason it was hidden was not because it was not revealed, but because the meaning of the scripture was not yet known and/or misunderstood. it took Christ to clarify…

So, even your verses, are used to show that in effect, the old is revealed in the new.

In Christ


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