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Friday, September 09, 2005

Did the Church Fathers Teach Sola Fide?

I am not well-versed enough to answer this question, so here is a comprehensive response from someone else. As for whether the Bible teaches sola fide, here's another link to deal with that, focusing on the epistle of St. James who says "For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:14-26). It is part of a collection of 12 articles dealing with sola fide, justification and salvation can be found here. Me? I tend to think that this legalism might just obscure what really matters: to love God with all our being -- mind, heart and strength (various forms, Matt. 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, Deut. 6:2). Yea, and with my works, also. I realize that this makes a hippocrite of me every day, as I do fail the Lord far too often. But I'm workin' on it. God willing, I will grow in faith and love.

3 comments:

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

Romans 3,4 & 5 speaks of sola fide. The principle is that we can not merit salvation by our works or conformance to the law.

Personally I have come to the conclusion that I can not make it ever. The good news is that it has been performed by Jesus for us. His death is payment for your sins (and mine) such that if we receive it as ours, God counts us as righteous on account of Christ (not on account of our faith). Another thing, he regenerates us so that our hearts are willing to be like Christ, but this is the result of being "saved" not the cause of it.

If you and I can make it on our own, then what was his death for? Let us receive the good news, his death is a gift, let us be glad in it and say amen.

Jeff Tan said...

The problem with debating the points of sola fide is that it means different things to different people, even among Protestants. Some believe that sanctification is no longer necessary, and the lordship of Christ over our lives is likewise unnecessary. Others believe that there is no free will involved in faith. Still others say "sola fide" but subscribing anyway to what we Catholics say with St. James about faith: that without works, it is dead. Merely subscribing to the intellectual assent that Christ is our Savior does not justify, and I get the feeling that Lutherans will agree. And of course, there are too many "if" conditions in the New Testament about endurance and what it means to remain faithful, or to keep the faith alive, and it appears that the verses concerning judgment do so where our deeds are taken into account.

This is what Catholic Church tells us:

"[1996] Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.

[1997] Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

[1998] This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God's gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.47

[1999] The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:48

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.49 " (CCC)

I get the feeling that there are two completely separate issues at hand here: justification and endurance. More on that some other time, but here is something to think about:

There was once a man who fell into a raging river. Someone dove in, putting his own life at risk, and saved the first man. The savior was profusely thanked, and, after giving a warning about staying away from slippery slopes near raging rivers, went about his business. Many years pass and the first man found himself in depressing circumstances and decided to hurl himself onto the raging river once more. The original savior dove in, again to save him, but the first refused to be saved. He drowned as a result.

This example is far from perfect but it should be something to consider.

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

There is no confusion on what sola fide is. Both the Lutheran and Calvinistic reformers agree on it, please look at the confessions of faith. Both agree that the word justification is declaration or being accounted as righteous. Thus, being considered righteous. Some evangelicals will agree with RC because they fail to distinguish justification with sanctification. That is they lump them together. The confessional protestants believe that the Christian is both sinner and saint together.
St Martin Luther says "we are justified through faith alone, but the faith through which we are justified is never alone". The Christian who is justified by faith will progress in sanctification, but his sanctification is not what saves him or merits his justification. Also we do not consider faith as a type of new work that one is justified because you have faith. Faith is the hand that grabs the gift. When the gift is there, we focus on the gift rather than on the faith.

Jesus keeps the Christian, the spirit in him, according to scripture wants to be saved, again. The keeping of the Christian faith in not left to the Christian, it is kept by Christ, why? Because he is the author of that faith. For us faith is a gift, created by the gospel. That is why it is so important - the gospel not to be dilluted. Faith is not something inherent in man. It is a gift. Both Lutheran and Calvinist are monorgistic. They are not synergystic like some evangelicals and RC.