Skip to comments.Catholic convert & historian: For evangelicals, beliefs more important than how one lives (vanity)
Posted on 06/24/2014 7:35:21 AM PDT by Faith Presses On
"For evangelical Christians, what one believes is more important than how one lives."
This is a quote taken from quite a long article posted in this forum called "A Protestant Historian Discovers the Catholic Church," by A. David Anders, Ph.D. I find it to be a very serious claim, even an accusation, and so it should be addressed.
What I know from years now of being an evangelical Christian is that we don't choose faith over works, as if it's one or the other. If we've truly become a "new creature in Christ," as the Bible says, then we have come to see the sinfulness of sin, as God sees it, and we trust Him to define sin for us and want it no longer. Instead, we want His will, and what He says is good for us.
Belief fits into this in that one acts out of their beliefs, as the Bible tells us, and also demonstrates. And we believe we can do nothing truly and purely good of ourselves alone. 1 Corintians 1 says that no flesh will glory in his presence and "He that glorieth, let Him glory in the Lord."
If I truly believe something that has a direct effect on how I live, I WILL live differently than if I did not believe, or since before I believed ... and it WILL be as important AS my belief.
I'm not worried.
“For evangelical Christians, what one believes is more important than how one lives.”
Living “right” will definitely make your life more enjoyable, but it won’t get you a centimater closer to salvation. Conversely, admitting you’re lost and trusting (believing) in God’s saving grace is the ONLY path to salvation. Works will follow. More with some than with others.
Works are not what saves, but salvation will result in a modification of your life. If you are concerned that your actions are risking your salvation, you’re doing it wrong.
You have hit upon the root of the problem. There are numerous both/ands in the Scripture, and very few either/ors (one of which is, of course, you either are saved or you are damned). The dialectical approach, which is nothing more than disguised Gnosticism in the West and undisguised Taoism in the East, always leads to fighting based on unnecessary claims of superiority--"it's faith!" "no, it's works!" being one of the most common within Christianity. James gives the answer: you show your faith by your works (2:18), and when you fail, you confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed (5:16).
So, does this explain why Catholic states elect Democrats?
Yes, it is faith that saves, and that even comes “by grace” in that it is a gift, so no one can boast. But in being reconciled to God, we come to see sin for what it actually is, rather than how we too often see it, as Satan wants us to - harmless, unavoidable, our choice, even enjoyable and “good.” Evil becomes good. But in becoming new creatures in Christ, if we have, then sin grieves us as it does God, and our concern then is not wanting to grieve Him and harm others and ourselves by doing it.
Why don’t you discuss this on the original thread?
Once we become new creatures in Christ, then our thoughts, words, and actions should always be examined. Paul says for us to examine ourselves. We are to open ourselves, too, to the Lord’s correction. The Lord is concerned with our hearts, and we can only recognize that there is an area of our lives that the Lord wants to work on and is bringing it to our attention, by looking at our works through the light of His truth. Then we can surrender it to Him and He can change us and grow our faith in that area.
It’s a thread in itself.
Why? Statements from converts are generally disparaging of whatever they left behind and full of blind worship of what they have embraced.
The Lord knows what is in my heart. He also knows that I am a sinner. That is why he came to Earth and died on the Cross - because of my sins. I will continue to be a sinner since only Jesus was perfect. My life is changed because of my faith, but I still need Him for the forgiveness of my sins. No matter how hard I work to be better and to do good, I will remain a sinner.
The ultimate purpose of this on my part wasn’t to be divisive, but to examine the things being considered here, including divisions that actually already exist, in the light of God’s truth.
Well, you absolutely nailed it, so I don't have to. You are right. It is a fool's errand to try and segregate the two intertwined priorities from each other. It can't be done.
And, like the tripartite elements of FAITH itself (belief, trust and obedience), without proper balance amongst all three, all you have is a foul ball or an incomplete pass. Something happens, but it isn't faith.
Likewise, the false dichotomy of belief vs behavior makes for the false distinctions we see in this article.
Thank you. I would say it takes a Lutheran to figure it out, except that Luther called James a "gospel of straw," thereby proving, among other things, that no one is perfect :-)
But in being reconciled to God, we come to see sin for what it actually is, rather than how we too often see it, as Satan wants us to - harmless, unavoidable, our choice, even enjoyable and good. Evil becomes good. But in becoming new creatures in Christ, if we have, then sin grieves us as it does God, and our concern then is not wanting to grieve Him and harm others and ourselves by doing it.
God Bless you for posting this article. You are correct.
Also, I was somewhat limited in what I could say in what I originally wrote because my cell phone, which I’m writing from, cuts things off a certain point, but some of the claims of this man, David Anders, do have to do with the “faith and works” arguments between evangelicals and Catholics. His claim, though, is that in his teen years, he didn’t “lose his faith,” but embraced it, and he says that evangelical faith was “fire insurance.” That is saying that evangelicals basically don’t love God and want to please Him, but want to sin and then have insurance just in case the Bible is true and there’s a God of judgment. There are certainly people like that, but Jesus Himself said there are the wheat and also the tares. But there are also many evangelicals who have been changed by God’s grace into new creatures in Christ.
Faith Presses on did the right thing.
I prefer this thread. One thing at a time.
When I joine Discipleship dynamics about 25 years ago, I had to write out my testimony. One of the instructions was that nobody wants to hear my life story so be concise, hitting the main points and supporting them when necessary. It had to fit on one sheet of paper.
The diatribe in the post you linked to is just way too narcissistic. But it does bring up an interesting point: Those that really love “church organization history” tend to like Catholicism. Reminds me of a friend who was a bibliophile. He loved books and collected a lot of them, some quite old. But he rarely read them.
i.e. a focus on church history as opposed to God and the bible is missing the point. And when one examines the history of the Catholic church and its actions over the centuries, especially AFTER reading the bible, one RUNS from it.
I see it as an “iron sharpening iron” sort of thing. It is actually very good to discuss this sort of topic with other believers.
However, if one has already discussed it quite a bit, they probably should focus on other threads. I do that sometimes.
But how one lives displays that belief for all to see.
But you are misconstruing what the author says.
**faith and works**
Do you have the letter of James in your Bible? As well as many other book?
Have you read it? Or did Luther alter it?
“For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.” James 2:26
"Not every one that saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of My Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 7:21
"But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his works. To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life: But to them that are contentious, and who obey not the truth, but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation." Romans 2:5-8
"For we must all be manifested before the judgement seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil." 2 Corinthians 5:10
"Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of justice, whose end shall be according to their works." 2 Corinthians 11:15
"You are made void of Christ, you who are justified in the law: you are fallen from grace. For we in spirit, by faith, wait for the hope of justice. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by charity." Galatians 5:4-6
"For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; Not of works, that no man may glory. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10
"Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to His good will." Philippians 2:12-13
"Knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve ye the Lord Christ. For he that doth wrong, shall receive for that which he hath done wrongfully: and there is no respect of persons with God." Colossians 3:24-25
"What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him?" James 2:14
"So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself." James 2:17
"But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" James 2:20
"Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?" James 2:24
"For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead." James 2:26
"And if you invoke as Father Him who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every one's work: converse in fear during the time of your sojourning here." 1 Peter 1:17
"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them; and they were judged every one according to their works." Apocalypse 20:12-13
"And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation; as also our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:15-16
As well as many other books?
“Regarding the debate about faith and works: It’s like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most important.”
“Regarding the debate about faith and works: It’s like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most important.”
That comment was removed before I even saw it. And as a follower of Christ, and knowing He will judge my works, I don’t want to post anything to hurt people and possibly even drive them from Christ, or further away. What this Catholic man David Anders wrote in his articles, which is considerably long, seems to be hundreds of claims about evangelicalism and Catholicism, but a few really stuck out. His claim was that because of evangelicalism, he stopped caring about trying to do right as a teenager, and he says that’s fundamental to evangelicalism. But that’s an utter lie. He’s made out his own experience as a teen “the truth” about evangelicals, even though he must know that there are many who believe that what they do is just as important as belief.
The man was talking about his conversion. He wasn’t trying to be divisive. He was just telling the details of his story.
I'm not worried.
I read the article yesterday as it was posted on FR. As a Catholic it gave me a lot of insights into the differences between Catholics and Protestants. It also had a lot of early church history.
That being said, I always bristle when over arching statements are made about large groups which seem to force all into a single specific frame of mind. I do not believe that all evangelicals feel the way that the title of this thread indicates.
Evangelicals can no more be put into boxes than Catholics can.
The subject of being saved by faith alone is indeed a difficult one to discuss. It is sort of like what comes first? “The chicken or the egg?” Are we saved by faith and then we do good works? Probably true. However, if one is ‘saved’ does that mean we can go through life superficially and never worry about the well-being of others, because Jesus has saved us? I don’t think so. A failure to live the life of a follower of Jesus, would indicate that we are not actually believers in His message and mercy. We are merely hitchhiking along for the ride.
We are called to witness to Jesus by our actions, and that means doing good works in imitation of the Savior. It is an obligation, not a way the ‘earn’ salvation. We are saved through the blood of Jesus on the cross.
If you don’t have works, then is your screename an oxymoron?
You can’t have faith without works.
Thank you. God bless you, too. From what I recall, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re Catholic, so I’m not sure of what your response to this is specifically, but I do thank you for the kind words of support.
I really disagree. People need to talk about this stuff. It’s how we learn - if we are teachable.
I’ve changed many of my opinions regarding Christianity as I learn more and bounce it off other people. A friend of mine once said that many Christians spend their first six months as a Christian forming their opinions on what Christianity means and then the rest of their life defending those opinions, many of which are easily destroyed via logic and a simple reading of scripture.
Having moved to the bible belt three years ago from Seattle, I’ve seen it in spades here. If it were not so serious it would be funny.