Response to Pilgrim’s Progress on Sola Fide and Good Works

“Patrick, you must know that we teach Sola Gratia as well as Sola Fide and so you can’t say that Sola Fide is deficient because it doesn’t contain or seems to ignore Sola Gratia: again, they must be taken as a whole and not separated except for the purpose of explanation.” – “Answering The Catholic Thinker on Faith Alone (Sola Fide) and works”

I believe that Sola Fide is deficient in the fact that it focuses solely on faith (hence the phrase “faith alone”) instead of the necessity of faith and good works. Don’t get me wrong, Catholics are not forgetting about the important factor of faith. Without faith in Christ, no man can be saved. My point is that you cannot treat good works as unnecessary or merely optional. That is to say that a Christian can go through life believing in Christ, but obeying Christ, that is performing good works is not necessary. That person will still go to Heaven for not obeying Christ’s commands. How strange does that sound? If you have faith in Christ, then you would make the choice to obey His commands, and regard them as necessary, not unneeded.

“Genuine Bible-believing Christians (Protestants and Evangelicals) aren’t antinomians, which is the implication of your post. Yes, there are some who live as though one can sin all they like since they once “made a decision for Christ,” but that is not what the Bible teaches and what we hold. Genuine Christians aren’t lawless and don’t promote lawlessness. Christians understand Paul and James together, that is, that good works demonstrate that we have saving faith – living Faith – for as you note, even the demons know that God exists.” – “Answering The Catholic Thinker on Faith Alone (Sola Fide) and works”

I didn’t mean to paint non-Catholic Christians as lawless individuals, but was talking about how they view works as unnecessary, and the implications of such. Good works are faith in action, which makes it just as necessary as belief itself. Faith and works are two sides of one coin.

“Again, Martin Luther did not invent Faith Alone. The Bible teaches it, and it was taught by Patristics such as Clement of Rome, Irenaeus of Lyons, and John Chrysostom:

‘Similarly we also, who by His will have been called in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, or our own wisdom or understanding or godliness, nor by such deeds as we have done in holiness of heart, but by that faith through which Almighty God has justified all men since the beginning of time. Glory be to Him, forever and ever, Amen.’ – St. Clement of Rome (? – ~101 AD) (Letter to the Corinthians,  par. 32)

‘Human beings can be saved from the ancient wound of the serpent in no other way than by believing in him who, when he was raised up from the earth on the tree of martyrdom in the likeness of sinful flesh, drew all things to himself and gave life to the dead.’ – St. Irenaeus (130 – 202 AD) (Against the Heresies, IV, 2, 7)

‘They said that he who adhered to faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to faith alone is blessed.’- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) (Homily on Galatians 3)” – “Answering The Catholic Thinker on Faith Alone (Sola Fide) and works”

The passage from Clement is merely dealing with the reason for performing good works. Before your excerpt the text reads:

“All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will.”

Clement was speaking about the reason behind performing works; is it for our own gratification or performing God’s will. Because while preaching that we are justified by faith, Clement at the same time says that the people of Juda were made great through the “operation of His will”. Notice that nowhere did Clement teach faith alone. He merely said that we are not justified of our own doing,; we need to cooperate with God’s grace, the operation of the Divine will.

Irenaeus speaks about being brought out of the wound of the serpent (sin) by belief in Christ. To be saved we must believe in Christ, but that is not to say that works are not necessary. Works do not cause salvation, but are necessary for it to happen. We must obey God’s commands in addition to placing our faith in Him.

I cannot comment on the Chrysostom quote because I couldn’t find the excerpt in his 3rd homily on Galatians. That is not to say that you made it up, but that I cannot find it. The main message from Chrysostom’s homily is that we are not saved by the works of the Law, and that the Law is unneeded now. He spoke of the importance of faith and the needlessness of the Old Law, but I couldn’t find “faith alone”. This is the link I used:

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/23103.htm

God bless,

Patrick E. Devens

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Response to Pilgrim’s Progress on Sola Fide and Good Works

  1. Patrick, I’ve been looking at Chrysostom’s commentary on Chapter 3 of Galatians, both at New Advent (Catholic) and at Fourth Century Christianity (Lutheran);

    New Advent:

    “Again, they said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed. ”

    Fourth Century Christianity:

    http://www.fourthcentury.com/john-chrysostom-on-galatians-3

    “His opponents said that those who adhered to faith were cursed, but he shows that he who adhered to faith alone was blessed.”

    That at least shows the statement is there. It’s what we do with it in context, and that it’s of secondary importance to the Holy Scriptures:

    Ephesians 2
    4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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  2. Thank you, Patrick, for responding to my post. I believe the phrase “the operation of His will” refers to God’s good pleasure and not our performance of it. It would be pointless to continue to argue Faith Alone as how we are saved. Glad you know I wouldn’t make anything up. The quotes I referenced were found at the blog of another Protestant believer, a Lutheran (former Seventh Day Adventist). I hope to vet the quote of John Chrysostom.

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