“Faith Alone” Does Not Mean “Intellectually Assenting to a Few Facts about Jesus Alone”, Works Are Important and Indeed Necessary

Sharing this short conversation I had with two protestants (one is Anglican). Both of them agree that Faith Alone should be accompanied by good works. This is in contrast to the belief of many other protestants who say they have been saved by Jesus’ dying on the cross and that once saved they are always saved.

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Protestant 1 posted.

Requiring anything in addition to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is a works-based salvation. To add anything to the gospel is to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation.

Comments section:

Protestant 2 Yes, but we need to define terms here. True faith always brings forth good works. The good works don’t in and of themselves contribute to salvation, but they are the necessary fruit of faith.Roman Catholics and Orthdox tend to assume that by “faith alone” Protestants mean “intellectually assenting to a few facts about Jesus” alone. That’s not what we mean. Often we find ourselves talking past each other because our terms are undefined.

  • Jong Esto I was wondering how Protestants interpret this verse? Early Christians never argued about having to work (a lot) to be saved.James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
  • Protestant 2 Jong Esto The context of the verse is dealing with what true faith means. James is concerned with a faith that does not manifest itself with action. If we assume that salvation is not of works at all, as Paul teaches in several of his letters (e.g. Ephesians 2:8-9), and that there cannot be a contradiction between James and Paul, in my view the Protestant understanding harmonises the two teachings: works are important and indeed necessary, but they don’t save us, but rather prove our faith (“I will show you my faith by my works”, as James says). They are brought forth because of the work of God in us; or, as Luther put it, true faith “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”.
  • Jong Esto Protestant 2 Thank you. I am Catholic and agree with you: like C. S. Lewis, he compared grace and works to the blades of a pair of scissors. Both are necessary.In my observation, Protestantism puts more emphasis on faith while Catholicism and Orthodoxy put equal emphasis on both faith and works.
  • Protestant 2 Jong Esto I am a traditional Protestant (an Anglo-Catholic), and to be honest I agree with Roman Catholicism about a lot of things: I think the scriptures teach baptismal regeneration and the real presence. As an Anglican I also think there’s a large role for tradition to play in the modern church (though a subordinate one to scripture). I also think that many modern Protestants misunderstand faith alone. I’m about as Catholic as you can get without actually being Catholic.There are two things that are stopping me from taking the final step and becoming a Catholic: justification by faith and works, and the Mary stuff. On the one hand, I’m prepared to accept that in many cases we are talking at cross purposes (misunderstanding what each side means by “faith” and “works”, for instance), but on the other I am sceptical about joining a church that officially anathematised sola fide at Trent. I’m also reticent to join a church that teaches (if inconsistently) that Mary is co-redemptrix when the scriptures say exactly the opposite.
  • Jong Esto Protestant 2 i appreciate this. Can you share which particular statements/canon/s the the council produced about sola fide that you don’t agree with. I would guess #29? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_excommunicable…
  • Protestant 1 Protestant 2 We are justified ( by faith ) , declared righteous, at the moment of our salvation. After we enter the stage of justification comes sanctification , sanctification is not the act of God declaring a person righteous; rather, it is the continual process by which God is actually making a person righteous. Sanctification is the deliverance from the power of sin and is a present and continuous process of believers becoming Christlike, accomplished by the Holy Spirit’s power and presence. Sanctification represents a believer’s victory over the flesh (Romans 7:24–25), the world (1 John 5:4), and the devil (James 4:7). During sanctification comes works we have to do works so our faith won’t be dead and those works are reading the Bible, picking up your cross daily, basically trying to be more like Christ as you possibly can be
  • Protestant 2 Protestant 1 I don’t disagree with what you say but my main point was that because we are imprecise in our vocabulary, we tend to confuse non-Protestant Christians into thinking we are basically antinomians who don’t care about holiness or obedience. In my experience, we tend to be talking about the same things in a different way, using different vocabulary — leading to all sorts of hostility which is often deeply overblown. That’s my two cents anyway.
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