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Skip to comments.What Is The Reformed Faith?
Posted on 02/24/2004 1:51:43 PM PST by Gamecock
How do I go to God?", someone asked the Scottish Presbyterian, Horatius Bonar. The parson answered, "It is with our sins that we go to God, for we have nothing else that we can truly call our own."
Much like Lutheranism, the Reformed tradition was forged out of the mighty storm known as the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin (1507-64) was a Frenchman who, through his own study of the Scriptures and reading the tracts of Luther and other older Reformers, became a convert to the "evangelical" faith. Like Luther, Calvin was anxious about the state of his soul. How does a sinner become acceptable to a pure and holy God who cannot tolerate sin and who has told us that He has prepared a place of eternal torment? "Just love the Lord," they told Calvin. "Love Him?" he asked. "How can you love a God who is always pointing His finger at you, just waiting for your foot to slip?" But then a marvelous discovery came to the French scholar, much the same way it came to Luther, and in no small measure through that great Reformer's writings. The Bible declares that Christians are justified by faith in Christ and not by anything they do. That revolutionized this timid, shy Frenchman and made him, reluctantly, a major influence on the Western world.
But what did Calvin teach that was so revolutionary in his day? Or Edwards or Whitefield in theirs? What made Charles Spurgeon such an amazing evangelist and launched the modern missionary movement, with William Carey, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone, and John Patton? What caused the Great Awakening and the Evangelical Revival in Britain and Europe? And why do we think these ideas--which are no more than the ideas of the Bible itself, could cause another revolution or reformation in thought and life today? First, the basic beliefs.
This Is My Father's World
Calvin wrote much on the beauty of the world as a "theater" in which God's attributes were displayed and highlighted. "As ever in my taskmaster's eye," wrote the famous Calvinistic poet, John Milton, expressing the sense of belonging to this world the Christian ought to feel. Of course, we are ultimately bound for eternity, but this life really does count.
That's why the Reformed tradition has always had a high doctrine of creation. If a cheap piece of pottery falls from the cupboard, it's no worry--just sweep it up and that's that. But what if the vase is a priceless antique in a museum, a master's signature edition and it is destroyed? Surely this would be a great tragedy. The difference doesn't lie in the quality of the material (both may have been clay pots), but in the greatness of the artist and the uniqueness of the work. So too, humans are not merely spirits caged in the prison-house of a body, but great works of art intended to have a certain enthusiasm and sense of dignity about being human.
Reformed theology has always emphasized the fact that everything has a reason--and that we have a reason. Nothing happens by chance, but is organized by the Great Director. And we are all "actors" on God's stage, as Shakespeare put it.
Far from making our own decisions and actions meaningless, it renders them truly significant. Who would ever say that the significance or freedom of Sir Laurence Olivier or Kathryn Hepburn is diminished by the existence of a script? Without a script, how could their acting have any meaning at all?
This means, too, that God did not create a separation between "secular" and "sacred," as many Christians today often do. Christians were meant to participate alongside non-Christians in every aspect of life. Reformed theology has no place for "Christian cruises" and "Christian media," "Christian books" and "Christian music." There is no "full-time Christian ministry" and "secular work," but vocations or callings for everyone. In creation, too, there is the gift of "common grace." "The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike," Jesus told the disciples.
The Fall Is Worse Than You Think
Sometimes we tend to view sin mainly in terms of actions: doing this or not doing that. But sin, according to Scripture, is mainly a condition which produces actions . "We sin because we're sinners," as the saying goes. Reformed theology takes sin seriously and argues with St. Paul that believers "were dead in trespasses and sins" and that "the unbeliever doesn't understand the things of the Spirit of God; neither can he know them...."
Think of it: Spiritually dead ! Have you ever had a good conversation with a corpse? Just try it sometime. It's a bore! Similarly, we can expect no life from fallen men and women until God decides to dispense His grace. "No one understands, there is no one who does good, no one looks for God, no not even one," lamented the Apostle Paul. This, of course, does not mean that we simply sit around and wait for unbelievers to be regenerated before we tell them the Gospel. Rather, we expect the Gospel, together with the Spirit, to regenerate them through our message.
The Reformed, like other Protestants, take the Fall in the garden of Eden seriously. We actually inherit the moral corruption and the guilt of Adam. We enter the human race as God's enemies, guilty enough to be condemned even before our first actual act of disobedience. "In sin," the Psalmist confessed, "my mother conceived me." This means that it is impossible for us to lift a finger to cooperate with God in our own salvation. Free will, the idea that everybody has the ability to accept Christ, is unbiblical and the root of serious misunderstandings from the Reformed point of view.
"Just as He chose us in Christ before the creation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His children....In Him we also have an inheritance, having been predestined according to the will of Him who works out everything in conformity with His own plan and purpose" (Eph.1:4-11).
Here, as in so many places, the Bible tells us that God had His eye on us long before we had ours on Him. "Herein is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us." I grew up with the illustration, "God has cast His vote for your soul; Satan cast his, but you must cast the deciding ballot." This, however, doesn't square with the Apostle Paul's remark that, "It does not depend on man's decision or effort, but upon God's mercy" (Rom.9:16). Election is not only a prominent doctrine in the Bible, but is of immeasurable comfort to those who are always anxious about whether they are doing enough to secure their salvation. Election teaches us, in Christ's own words, "You did not choose Me; I chose you and appointed you to bear fruit that would last" (Jn.15:16).
Reformed theology has also emphasized the fact that "God became flesh and lived among us" (Jn.1). I can remember in Sunday school singing, as a child, "Jacob's Ladder." We would make climbing motions while we sang it. But this is not sound theology, is it? For the ladder Jacob saw in His dream was not a ladder we were to climb up to God, but a ladder God climbed down to us. Do you notice a common theme here? God's doing all the work. He's the initiator, the One moving toward us while we are helpless.
The incarnation also teaches us that God took on our own nature, sanctifying it. While it was humbling for the Son of God to be subjected to the miseries of a fallen world, He was pleased to become a human being just like us.
Wait a second...Christ's life ? We hear about His death, but what did His life accomplish for us?
In Reformed theology (as in Lutheranism), we speak of Christ's active and passive obedience. His active obedience is His thirty years of perfect obedience to the Law of His Father. It wouldn't be enough, you see, for Christ to have died for our sins. The glass can't just be empty of guilt; it must be full of perfect righteousness, and we don't have it. Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law in our place. The "impossible dream" was finally realized by a human being--one of us, and He won the prize for us as though we were there with Him in every act of obedience.
His "victorious Christian life," therefore, replaces our own failings and we are saved because He lived for God, even though we do not.
Then there's the other part I mentioned--the passive obedience of Christ. We are saved not only by His life, but by His death; not only because He lived for the Lord, but because He surrendered all to the Lord even when that meant His own judgment in our place.
We all know what a substitute is. He stands in for someone else. Christ stood in for us and took the rap that was justly meant for us. Hanging on that cruel Roman scaffold, Jesus Christ was considered the greatest sinner who ever lived, carrying the sins of the world and enduring the outpouring of Divine wrath and hatred for those sins.
I used to live at Lake Tahoe, high in California's Sierra Mountains. First, there would be an ominous cover of dark clouds which could turn noon-time into evening in minutes. There was a storm and it would last for hours. The next day, I would step outside, blinded by the sun as it reflected off of the fresh snow and the skies would be painted in the deepest shade of blue on the spectrum.
In a similar way, the cross was the judgment of God on Christ as the believer's substitute. But the storm passed and the resurrection of Christ confirmed Him as the King of creation, the Lord of redemption. "He was crucified for our sins and was raised for our justification," according to the Scriptures.
It's important to remember, too, that all of this is historical. Jesus did not simply rise from the dead allegorically or as a myth which teaches us about new life. It was real space and time history, which hostile witnesses could not successfully refute.
Justification and Union With Christ
The central doctrine of the Reformation was justification by grace alone through faith alone. We believe that by trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, we are declared righteous. All of Christ's perfect obedience is charged to our account and our sins are regarded as having been paid for at the cross.
Through faith, we are united to Christ and through that union we share everything in common with Christ Himself. Is He righteous? Then we're righteous! Is He holy? Then so are we! Of course, this does not mean that we share His divine attributes, but everything He accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection is ours.
Many other religious groups believe that somehow, somewhere, we have something to do with our own salvation. We make some contribution. For some, that may be as little as "making a decision" or "walking an aisle" or "saying a prayer"; for others, it may demand a great deal more. But in this view, God's grace is seen as a substance, something that is infused or implanted within the believer, to enable him or her to live a godly life. In this perspective, the Holy Spirit and his guidance is the gospel, rather than the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ as our righteousness before God.
That's why the Reformers said that it was not sufficient to say that it was all God's grace from beginning to end. That's a good start, of course, but the Bible requires a further safeguard to the gospel: Not only are we justified (declared righteous or just) before God by grace alone, but it is by grace through faith alone. In other words, we do not become righteous before God, in a process of Christian growth, as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit; rather, we are declared righteous before God in an instant, as the merit of the perfect life and atoning sacrifice of our Lord is imputed or credited to our account. This kind of righteousness was not something that we produced; nor was it even produced by God within us. For that is sanctification, and in this life, even the holiest among us make only a short beginning in that kind of righteousness. What we need is this "alien" or "foreign" righteousness; that is, a righteousness that belongs properly to someone else, but is given to us as though it really were our own. Besides the banking image of credit, the Bible uses the image of a white robe that covers our sinfulness and shame.
It was this robe that God used to cover Adam and Eve, when they realized that their fig leaves would not hide them from God's judgment. And it was this covering that was prefigured in the sacrifices, until John the Baptist declared, "Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."
If this were really believed in our churches today, there would be awakening and reformation. Every great movement in church history has found its impulse in a recovery of these truths. In a movement that claims to adhere to the Protestant Reformation heritage, evangelicalism bears hardly any resemblance to that great work of God. The emphasis, once again, is on what's going on inside, in one's heart, in one's spirit. Gone again in our day is that objective proclamation of Christ crucified for our sins and raised for our justification outside of us, two thousand years ago in a city in the Middle East. "Steps To Victorious Living" have replaced the preaching of Christ's victorious life and death for sinners who cannot keep up a charade and give God the righteousness his holiness demands.
But for those who, by faith alone, have received this gift of righteousness, there is a process of growth in holiness. Although it is never the foundation for acceptance before God (for it is always an imperfect holiness), sanctification is the process through which the Holy Spirit gradually conforms us to Christ's image. Chipping away at our sinful habits and deeply-rooted beliefs, the Spirit is the Divine Sculptor who seeks to bring glory to the Savior by making "busts" of him in every place of business, in every institution and home, in work and in leisure. While the believer continues to struggle with sin, to the extent that the person even questions whether he or she has really been born again, the Scriptures promise that the resurrection of Christ, when applied by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, raises that person from spiritual death and attaches him or her to the Living Vine, Christ Jesus. Knowing that godliness is not something that one must achieve in order to be accepted by God and received or kept in his family, we can live for the first time as grateful and obedient sons and daughters, rather than slaves.
The Christian Life
Because all of that is true, those who emphasize these truths, as the Reformers did, understand the Christian life to be something very different from what many Christians are used to. First, it is liberty within the bounds of God's law that forms the motivation. Fear of punishment and hope of rewards is not a motivation one will likely see intentionally articulated or followed by those who take these truths seriously. If, when I am engaged in "spiritual" activities, God smells my fear, will he not be offended rather than pleased? And if he smells my selfish lust for crowns and mansions, will he not sooner accuse me of sin than of good works?
For the Reformed believer, "grace is the essence of theology and gratitude is the essence of ethics," as the Dutch theologian G. C. Berkouwer put it. Instead of analyzing every motive, often paralyzing the exercise of good works for fear doing them "in the flesh," the believer is to serve God and neighbor simply because that is what a gracious and loving Father has commanded. It is not simply because he is all-powerful and may, therefore, command whatever he wants, but because he is all-compassionate and has transferred us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of his own Son. Therefore, we belong to him--at the cost of his own blood, not to ourselves.
All of this means, too, that the Reformed believer can turn his attention from his own salvation to the salvation and welfare of others. There are so many out there who are lost and who need to hear this liberating message, the good news of freedom from sin's bondage and guilt. Furthermore, there are so many out there who are hurting, homeless, in pain or suffering, grieving, experiencing the ravages of sin--both as victims and perpetrators. That is where the Christian must be--out in the world, not stuck in a monastic community of super-spiritual zealots who want to polish each other's halo. To be sure, we need the fellowship of the saints and, more important even than that, the regular reception of Word and Sacrament, but all of this is for a life of service in the world, before the face of God.
My Elect Brothers and Sisters; Why are you Reformed?
Give us your testimony!
Because the Bible beat me into submission until I cried "uncle".
Been a Calvinist (of varying stripes) ever since.
Why am I Reformed?
It is the assurance that I was, am, and forever will be, His. It is the knowledge that I am a sinner and yet am firmly in the Creator's grasp. It is that he uses me for his own Glory.
First of all let's review the scriptures:
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:28)
Now it's interesting that this central doctrine rests on the word "alone." Yet if we look at the verse, the word "alone" isn't in there.
Then why is it a doctrine that man is saved by Grace through faith "alone"?
It's because Martin Luther, when he translated of scripture into German, added the word "alone" to this verse. In English, his version would read:
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith ALONE without the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:28)
That is a tremendous difference! Obviously Luther believed and taught that justification was by faith alone, and he tried to change scripture to reflect it.
While other Protestants rejected the addition to Scripture of this word, they accepted the new doctrine. Whenever this verse is discussed, there is the implied "alone" attributed to this verse. This contradicts the scripture passages in James 2:14-26.
"Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24)
Luther had a big problem not only with the canon of the OT, he had a problem with the canon of the NT.
Luther wanted to remove the last four books of the New Testament, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelations. He didn't consider them to be inspired.
In his initial translation He actually removed them from from the NT canon and put them into an unnumbered appendix. This treatment of these books illustrates how he considered them unequal to other New Testament writings.
He especially had a problem with the book of James since it clearly contradicted his doctrine of justifcation by faith alone.
Ultimately, he was persuaded to keep these books in the NT.
Justification by faith alone in unscriptural and one should be wary of it's roots -- it's a man made doctrine!
Grace saves us, and God gives the gift of faith and works. Faith without works is dead, and works without faith is dead. Both are dead without Grace!
Sure, most young Christians absorb the "doctrine of man" early on in their faith.
But, finally, the Holy Spirit grabbed me by the lapels and told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to believe that Romans 9:15-24 is true. Now, I hadn't met a lot of Christians who truly believed that Romans 9:15-24 is true, so I wasn't sure what the denominational "name" was for a Christian who believes that when Paul wrote Romans 9:15-24, he wasn't lying.
Your choice; either way, no skin off my teeth.
Actually, "Calvinism" is the name which the Church has assigned (de-nominate) to the Doctrine of Predestination taught in the Bible; just as "Athanasianism" is the name which the Church has assigned (de-nominate) to the Doctrine of Trinity taught in the Bible.
And I don't know any Christian who doesn't believe in the verses -- and most of them aren't "Calvinists"
Really? Well, let's take you, fer instance -- do you believe that God looks forward in time to see which Men will choose Him, and elects those individuals to salvation; or, do you believe that God pre-determines what Men's decisions will be, whether to salvation or damnation?
That same person would believe that the Resurrection was ludicrous too.
Define the Calvinist meaning of the word "Faith", as in "Faith Alone", as it relates to "Faith" and "Works".
This should be an easy one for you, no?
My parents were Calvinists, and still are. In high school, I rejected Calvinism as a distortion of the free offer of the Gospel. I found teachers who agreed with me, and hardened me in my position. I was convinced that Romans 9-11 spoke to God's dispensational dealings with Israel.
In college, a cascade of factors changed my mind. Freshman year, a song off a CD I bought knocked around in my head, causing me to think -- Can God plan the ends, and not plan the means? That summer, I started a word-for-word study of Romans. Enter stage right, Free Republic.
I saw a thread titled about the Trinity. It turned out to be the middle of a debate between the Calvinists and Arminians. I plunged in, and laid it all on the line: here's why Calvinism is in error. The posters rebutted every single argument I had, and posed ones to me I couldn't answer.
In September 2001, I became a four-point Calvinist. In October, the 5th point fell into place (although my Arminian buddy claims I'm only a 4.5 pointer...), and I became a full-fledged Calvinist. Never looked back, it all makes sense.
Okay... Define the Calvinist meaning of the word "Faith", as in "Faith Alone", as it relates to "Faith" and "Works".
This should be an easy one for you, no?
17 posted on 02/24/2004 4:38:19 PM PST by OrthodoxPresbyterian
I remember specifically trying to witness to an atheist friend of mine. I was laying out the general scope of redemptive history and trying to explain the gospel to him. I had composed a lengthy email to send to him and wanted to run it by my mother first since I knew she had been to seminary (I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything). After she read a particular part about it, specifically the part having to do with "love and free will" she said I might want to take a look at Romans 8 in light of what I said. Now, mind you, I had not studied a lot of theology. I had read through most of the New Testament and had a basic understanding of the Gospel. I read Rom 8 and was confused. I thought "this can't be right...how is it fair for us to be predestined as to what we believe?" I firmly believed that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God, so I knew that what was written had to be the truth. So, I set my mind to work and came back to my mother. I had it all figured out. You see, God could see ahead of time who would choose Him, and so just by the very act of creating them (and thus setting into motion the cosmic chain of events leading up to that choice) He was predestining them. I was rather proud of myself for being able to grasp such a difficult concept. Mom told me to read Romans 9.
I felt like Paul was speaking directly to me, answering each of my objections as I brought them up. I tried very hard to come up with a way to reconcile Romans 9 with my preconceived view, but I couldn't find one. I spent a great deal of time reading through the New Testament, particularly the Epistles, trying to find something that would "explain away" these passages, but all I found were more passages along the same lines. Acts 13:48 hit me very hard. So did John 6.
I finally realized how futile and vain my efforts were, and came to the conclusion that I had no choice but to embrace what I read...that God is sovereign over men and ultimately decides who is saved and who is not.
This experience lead me to spend more time in the Word and more time reading other works. Eventually I found out that the term commonly used for the doctrines I was discovering was "Calvinism." I continue to this day to find more and more in the pages of Scripture as I discover and explore the holiness of God as revealed in His Word.
However, I was "indoctrinated" with the Heidleburg confession during my stint with the 5 pointers. While I didn't remember the correct answer, I knew exactly where to find it.
From the confession:
Why do you say that you are righteous only by faith? A. Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God, and I can receive the same and make it my own in no other way than by faith only.
FAITH ONLY? FAITH ALONE? James Repudiates that doctrine! We could go all night into the reasons Calvinism's spinning of how works play into salvation, but we don't need to. James, contrary to the claims of this confession, solved this issue 1900 years or so ago.
Calvinism shares with Lutheranism, the "downgrading" of the book of James. While still considered scripture, James is twisted, spun, and explained away by giving other passages more promenance and importance. Like I said, scripture does not support justification by
faith alone. That's a man made doctrine. But.. I'd take it you don't accept the evidence of James. So, unless you can say "you have a very good point", let's not go round and round about this all nigh.
I see this as a what came first, the chicken or the egg type question. The answer, in light of the book of Genesis is the chicken. What saves us? Faith. What are works? The outward manifestation of our faith. Their works are a pretty good indication if the faith is real. (not perfect, but pretty good) One must read the totality of James 2 to understand that. Why works? Because God wants me to feed the poor, visist and pray with the ill, etc...
You just told me what Faith accomplishes. You haven't told me what Faith is, specifically as in "faith alone", as it relates to "faith" and "works".
So, let's try again: What is "Faith", specifically as in "faith alone", as it relates to "faith" and "works"?
FAITH ONLY? FAITH ALONE? James Repudiates that doctrine! We could go all night into the reasons Calvinism's spinning of how works play into salvation, but we don't need to. James, contrary to the claims of this confession, solved this issue 1900 years or so ago. Calvinism shares with Lutheranism, the "downgrading" of the book of James. While still considered scripture, James is twisted, spun, and explained away by giving other passages more promenance and importance. Like I said, scripture does not support justification by faith alone. That's a man made doctrine. But.. I'd take it you don't accept the evidence of James. So, unless you can say "you have a very good point", let's not go round and round about this all nigh.
I do accept the evidence of James. If you understood the Calvinist meaning of Faith (or even the Lutheran, though Calvinism has been IMO more clear in it's presentation), you would understand that.
Let me ask you this: No offense meant. Honestly. Would the following statement be true?
If that is False, then you are (again) cordially invited to provide a proper definition of what, to the Calvinist, Faith is; But if the statement is True, then just say so, and I'll explain what a Calvinist means by the word, "Faith"; as it attends to "faith alone", or "faith" and "works".
What do you say?
The "alongside" is what mars your definition of Calvinism -- and Rome's understanding of Salvation.
One little word -- but what a big impact. I'll compose a full response.
Do I belive this verions of works? No. It's just an attempt to whittle down works while focusing on faith. Calvanism seems to argue that if you are faithful, then you must be obedient. Christ taught love more than obedience. Works out done out of obedience may still be pleasing to God, but not as pleasing as works from the heart. An "active" obedience is required from a Christian, but IMO, it's part of faith. It *is* true that we need to actively obey God. That's not the issue. Works, when done from the heart and out of love and charity, are not works of "active obedience." I can get my kid to do things he dosn't want to, and he's not doing it out of faith or love. He does it "actively" because he doesn't want a time out or he want's something from me. That's not love. See the difference? I'd go on but I'm tired. I'll resume in the morning.
In order to keep our terms matched, I'll use the term "obedience" as regards Faith in my response... but I'm not really understanding this dichotomy between "love" and "obedience" you're drawing, there's no real corollary in Calvinistic understanding.
I understand that outward obedience can be compelled without a matching inward love... but if someone Obeys out of a humble, desperate awe and appreciation of the salvation which has been wrought for him, how is that not a Loving Obedience? Which is Calvinism's view of the matter.
As I said, I'll put together a proper response for your consideration on the morrow. Sleep well.
So, I'm going to go ahead and tell you what Protestants mean by "Faith Alone Saves" -- particularly Calvinists, who maintain the Reformers' doctrines most closely of the various Protestant traditions. Let's have at it.
Is Salvation through Faith and Works? First, lets examine the Roman Catholic teachings on the subject:
So, we see that the Roman Catholic teaching is quite clear: faith is the beginning of human salvation through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works, increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and are further justified.
Now, then, what is the Calvinist teaching? Is Salvation through Faith Alone?
The Calvinist Presbyterian Dr. D. James Kennedy defines Saving Faith thusly: "What is saving faith? I think we can say that it is the response of the whole soul to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. That means it involves our mind, our heart, and our will. Our intellect, our emotions, and our volition are all involved in our soul, and it is the yielding of that soul to Christ."
So we see that, to the Calvinist, Faith by definition incorporates three crucial facets:
And of this Faith, the Westminster Shorter Catechism declares: Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and receive by faith alone.
Thus, while the Calvinist would say that Saving Faith is a Vital Faith; no mere intellectual assent to Christs Lordship but a loving submission of Heart thereto. Good Works are the inevitable outworking of this Saving Faith (for a Faith which includes a Reverently Obedient Volitio is demonstrated in its performance of Good Works), but we are Saved through this Faith Alone a depraved thief, who truly possesses this Saving Faith for even single moment at the point of death, is immediately and completely Justified without the outworking of a single Good Work of his obedient Volitio.
It is important to note, at this point, that the Calvinist view is specifically anathematized by the Council of Trent:
This is unfortunate for Rome -- in fact, it is devastating. For as the Apostle Paul declares, we are Justified by Saving Faith itself apart from Good Works.
And this is the Calvinist definition of Saving Faith, the definition of the Bible the Knowing, Assenting, Submissive Faith which Justifies a Man, in and of itself, apart from Good Works.
But in clear contradiction to the Epistle to the Galatians, the Roman Catholics have said that Faith begins salvation but must cooperate with Good Works in order to Justify. Thus, they reveal their definition of Faith as being a faith to which Good Works must be added in order to Justify.
In doing so, they have brought down the Condemnation of James not upon Protestants but upon the Lords of the Roman Catholic Church. For if the Roman Catholic Definition of the Faith which begins salvation according to the Decrees of Trent, is a faith to which Good Works must be added in order to Justify, then their faith is by definition the very same Dead Faith which James condemned!
They claim that their faith does alone begin Salvation, and that to it Good Works must be added in order to Justify. But if theirs is a faith which begins alone, and to it Good Works must be added - then how can such a faith even "begin" salvation as they claim, when being alone at the beginning of salvation and requiring "cooperation" with Good Works in order to Justify, it is a Dead Faith from the beginning?
Instead, James gives us a ringing endorsement of the Calvinist Definition of Faith a vital, Saving Faith which Justifies apart from Good Works (Galatians 2:16) and is shown in its outworking of Good Works (James 2:18), the very same Biblical Definition of Faith which Rome anathematized in Canon 24 of the Council of Trent.
By promulgating a False and Un-Salvific definition of faith which begins salvation alone (being Alone, it is a Dead Faith and can begin no salvation, James 2:17) and which must cooperate with Good Works in order to Justify (even though true Saving Faith does Justify apart from Good Works, Galatians 2:16), and by anathematizing the True and Biblical definition of Saving Faith which Justifies apart from Good Works (Galatians 2:16) and is shown in its outworking of Good Works (James 2:18), Rome has led BILLIONS astray. And she has persecuted and killed the Reformers and preachers of righteousness whom God sent to the vineyard to warn her of her sins.
Rome must Repent of her sins immediately. She must rescind the false teachings of Chapters 8 & 10 of Trent and recant the false anathemas of Canons 24 and 32 of Trent. She must repent of her false teachings and false anathemas and proclaim publicly to all the True and Biblical definition of Faith as taught by Christ and Paul and James and the Reformers and the Faithful Remnant of God throughout the ages, a Saving Faith which Justifies apart from Good Works (Galatians 2:16) and is shown in its outworking of Good Works (James 2:18), and repent her persecutions of the Reformers and preachers of righteousness whom God sent to warn her of her sins.
The Sins of Rome in this matter are grievous. They are damning.
She must not continue in them for a moment.
I was of the free-will bent for many years, but during a spiritual crisis (I wonder where that came from, hmm?) I actually started reading the scripture and discovered that God was not the "doting father" that I had imagined Him to be, but was presently in absolute, unwavering control of the entire universe-even of the salvation of men. I grappled with God over this for about a year (and gave my Arminian pastor fits), but then the Lord reached down and touched my wife with unexpected, unasked-for salvation and healing (it was like a lightning bolt in our lives that changed everything-I'm not even sure I can explain it). Looking for a name for this new kind of unsought grace, I called an old friend of mine who had once told me about something called "Calvinism". During that chat, I realized that I was "Reformed".
So, I'm going to go ahead and tell you what Protestants mean by "Faith Alone Saves" -- particularly Calvinists, who maintain the Reformers' doctrines most closely of the various Protestant traditions.OP, having read your post, I see what is seemingly a good foundation for a debate. It may very well gain for you what you'd like to get out of it, and I hope it will. For me, a Catholic, I feel compelled to point out that my church, that is, the CHURCH of THE APOSTLES (the authors of TRADITION with the Holy Spirit's guidance -- you know keys, Peter), The Bride of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is where literally billions¹ have placed their trust as to having the right answers to the questions which we ask in order to lead us to Him.
Yes, the hounds of heaven were after me even before I knew Him. I hated God and the Church so badly, but had an inexplainable desire to understand the scriptures. I puzzled over them for two year with no luck until I heard that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It took a year before I understood the basics of His Blood and Atonement. It took 25 more years before I understood some of the Totality of my depravity and desperate situation in need of Christ. Our Lord Jesus was right when he said to the rich young ruler "Why do you call me good, no one is good but God alone". The rich young ruler did not know He was addressing God.
I have no goodness. Goodness comes from God alone, there would be no goodness on this earth if it were not for God's intervention. God is so good he even planned answers to my prayers before the foundation of the earth. The things God must have to do to get a prayer through me!
After 30 years of looking at the scripture, I see it ever truer than I ever imagined, I cannot exhaust it. It is inerrant as Christ Himself. It had to beat on me too until it broke through that this life is nothing in comparison to an Eternity with the Love of Christ.
Friends, Take in and eat the Word of God. It is bread indeed, you cannot exhaust it, bury it, chisel it, sing it, do whatever you have to get it into your heart and mind. The benefits are limitless.
Galatians 2:16 -- Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
I find it hard to believe that you don't know what is meant by "the works of the law" and that you confuse them with the good works flowing from a Christian working in cooperation with the grace of God.
This passage is not discussing "faith v works" as we Christians do, but is contrasting the Old and New Covenants.
If you misread this one verse, what are we to make of the rest of your writings?
As opposed to...sola Rome via sola Pappa + keeping the Church LAWS ( NOT BY THE WORD OF THE LAW)