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Saturday, January 19, 2008

The God of the empirical

The Church declares that we are saved by grace alone through faith that works in love. It is dizzying how such an orthodox position can be attacked over ... well, over what I feel are technicalities. One that puzzles me is the bold assertion that we are saved by faith alone but it is a faith that is not alone. We certainly agree that we are justified by faith that is not alone, so I don't see the logic in claiming sola fide at all.

Not to seem offensive, but I just don't see the angst. It is sufficient to point out that we do not save ourselves, not even with God's help (as Trent condemns both). It is enough to point out that we are saved entirely by God's grace, and it is He who saves: we are simply participants whose will must not reject him. And when the Church puts emphasis on works? These passages from the Old Testament (yes, the OT is also inspired and inerrant) might explain:

 1 Kings 8:60 - 61
  May all the peoples of the earth come to know that the Lord is God indeed, and that there is no other. May your hearts be wholly with the Lord our God, following his laws and keeping his commandments as at this present day.
 Jeremiah 17:9 - 10
 The heart is more devious than any other thing, perverse too: who can pierce its secrets? I, the Lord, search to the heart, I probe the loins, to give each man what his conduct and his actions deserve.

It isn't that our actions will merit us our justification. That is pure grace and is clear. The words above are for the people of God, already justified, so it puts things in perspective. As the justified, we are adopted children of God, and there are expectations of us to conduct ourselves holy, for the Lord our God is holy. Likewise, since he judges our conducts, then there are consequences to our actions. What consequences are in store for evil actions? To whom much is given, much is expected indeed. People of God, to whom He has poured out His Spirit, for whom salvation was bought by the precious blood of the Lamb, have everything they need, despite their concupiscence, to conduct themselves worthily -- for they have the Holy Spirit. If we willfully turn away from God's grace, if we deliberately reject God's love and choose grave evil, what then does our choice merit?

[The passages above are from the Liturgy of the Hours, via Universalis.]

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