Saturday, March 24, 2012

Faith Alone as Viewed from the Other Side of the Tiber

"So according to some of our Protestant friends when Saint James says that faith with out works is dead, he really means "the kinda faith that has not works" without works can't save you. Does this give anybody else a headache? Wouldn't it just be easier to accept what is written by Saint James at face value that faith (not the dead kind as Calvinists claim) without works is dead, instead of John Calvin and others waving their fingers deftly so the reader comes away believing the opposite of what Scripture actually states?" [source]

Answer... using the same method:

So according to some of our Roman Catholic friends when Saint Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory” he really means salvation is also of works. Does this give anybody else a headache? Wouldn't it just be easier to accept what is written by Saint Paul at face value that salvation (not that  Trentian idea of the infusion of grace producing good works) is through faith and not of works,  instead of Roman Catholics waving their fingers deftly so the reader comes away believing the opposite of what Scripture actually states?

The point of course is that both what James says and what Paul says needs to be exegeted according to the contexts. Presenting a caricature of either position doesn't do anyone any good.

Addendum

Here's an interesting quote from Calvin... no wait, from John of Damascus:

"For faith apart from works is dead, and so likewise are works apart from faith. For the true faith is attested by works" (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith IV.9].

8 comments:

Hephzibah said...

The faith that the Bible refers to is a faith that later on produces works, that changes the life, heart & mind of a person & makes him give his life to Jesus. It's the faith that produces a disciple, not just a believer.
In contrast, there is the kind of faith that says "I believe in God, in Jesus, in the Gospel, but he's not my priority. My priority are my kids, my wife/husband, my career, family, etc. I'm not a religious nut". That faith is the faith James talks about & it's the faith that won't be accounted to you for righteousness.
But of course, in order to understand this, you need to have the revelation of the Holy Spirit, which catholic apologists do not have

Martin Yee said...

James,

Interesting how you reversed the thing on the Romanist :) You have a great sense of ironic humour. This is really a great blog to hang out.

Ironically among Lutherans, they also cannot agree among themselves on the relationship between good works and justification by faith, whether have third use of the law or not blah blah. How does you Reformed guys understand good works, justification and sanctification. For us Lutheran novices in Asia, we find it very confusing, don't know who to believe in, one Lutheran theologian says this, another says that...sigh :(

Is there any real difference with between Luther and Calvin on justification and sanctfication as far as you know? They seem to be the same to me now or am I missing something? Thanks.

James Swan said...

Is there any real difference with between Luther and Calvin on justification and sanctfication as far as you know?

While there are subtleties, I don't see any major difference. Justification is the work of Christ received with the empty hands of faith.

Ironically among Lutherans, they also cannot agree among themselves on the relationship between good works and justification by faith, whether have third use of the law or not blah blah.

I recently picked up this book, but have not had time to read it:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/09/luther-maintained-third-use-of-law-even.html

The author is a Lutheran.

Martin Yee said...

James,

The more I read, the more I realise that there is a lot more in common between Reformed and Lutherans than both sides like to admit.

Of course some of my fellow Lutheran will insist that we are closer to the Roman Catholics but I really doubt so. What has Rome to do with Wittenberg-Geneva?

Thanks again.

James Swan said...

I read recently that Calvin was fairly ecumenical towards the Lutherans.

I've always appreciated that Sproul's Table Talk Magazine has a Lutheran contributor from time to time. Similarly, despite the current in-house Reformed debate, I've also benefited from the discussions on the White Horse Inn show.

On the other hand, I don't have a problem with Lutherans who take their theology so seriously they think the Reformed are anti-Christ. So be it. It is what it is.

Nate Sjogren said...

Fantastic quote by Damascus! I wish I would have thought of that... here is a Catholic breakdown of faith and works!

http://www.allyoucaneatcatholics.com/2012/02/love-is-verb-part-i-faithfully.html

Nate Sjogren said...

Fantastic quote by Damascus! I wish I would have thought of that... here are some more Catholic thoughts on faith and works if you're interested!

http://www.allyoucaneatcatholics.com/2012/02/love-is-verb-part-i-faithfully.html

James Swan said...

Fantastic quote by Damascus! I wish I would have thought of that...

John of Damascus is an interesting read.

here are some more Catholic thoughts on faith and works if you're interested!

Thanks. Here are some thoughts on faith and works from Luther if you're interested:

http://tquid.sharpens.org/sin_boldly.htm#c5