“I vant to be alone” – Greta Garbo
Regarding the relationship between faith and works, I received the following comment from a Roman Catholic in response to my Piggy-back into heaven: The Roman Catholic “Treasury of Merit.”
The only time in Scripture that the words “faith” and “alone” appear together is when James 2:24 says, “A man is justified by works and not by “faith alone.” There is no other place in Scripture where these two words appear together. In fact Paul nor any other NT writer ever said, “We are justified by “faith alone.” Paul never uses the words “faith” or “only” in the same sentence either. Paul uses the word “faith” over 200 times in the Bible, but never with the word “alone.” So if James says, “A man is justified by works and not by “faith alone,” what do we do with this verse of Scripture? Do we just ignore it and continue on with what we want to believe, or what?
First let me shoo this canard away: “There is no other place in Scripture where these two words appear together.” And, where does the word “trinity” appear at all, never mind once, in the Bible. As for the assumption of Mary, and indeed the word “purgatory: – nada. That, of course, is not an issue with Roman Catholic theology for the reason that it posits two strands of divine revelation: scripture and tradition.
Now to whether the concept of “faith alone” is in the Bible.
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
The biblical view of “faith” is summed up in Ephesians 2:8-10 [my square brackets and italics]:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith [in Christ]. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them [be faithful in them). (See Christian and Jewish faith)
But, if Pope Francis is your guide, why bother with the distinction between faith (in Christ) and works at all. Indeed, why bother about faith. Francis is famous for his loving kindness. It lies at the heart of Judaism, going back to Adam himself. The Jewish view is that as long as Adam was alive, God wanted to have an interaction with him. He knew that Adam had the capacity to sin, God knew it was going to happen. That was part of Adam’s struggle. That’s what God wanted. So after Adam made a mistake, God demanded him to love kindness. To love kindness, that’s a state of being that we have constantly to grow into. Adam could certainly have loved kindness more than He did. (Sin in Adam and his descendants).
According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the road to salvation is festooned with acts of loving kindness. It may be, said the Rebbe, your one tiny act of kindness that may bring Messiah (Moshiach). Pope Francis has much in common with Judaism, if not with the real Saint Francis: it’s all about loving kindness, says Pope Francis; salvation is all about loving kindness – good works. Justification (reconciliation with God) says Pope Francis, is no longer about faith AND good works, but solely about works – opera solum (if my Latin is any good). You can be an atheist, says Pope Francis, on condition that you’re good and kind. Well that is what I read on the internet, so it must be true.
“LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – The Holy Father is full of surprises, born of true and faithful humility. On Wednesday he declared that all people, not just Catholics, are redeemed through Jesus, even atheists. However, he did emphasize there was a catch. Those people must still do good. In fact, it is in doing good that they are led to the One who is the Source of all that is good. In essence he simply restated the hope of the Church that all come to know God, through His Son Jesus Christ.”
The Vatican, it seems is alarmed, at best; no wonder, because Pope Francis is trashing Trent. Here is Trent:
Session 6, Chapter 8
“[I)t is most truly said that faith without works is dead and of no profit, and in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity [love].”
Here is how Pope Francis would, I suggest, rework Trent for the loving atheist:
“It is most truly said that an atheist without works is dead and will remain dead….unless he worketh by love.” (See Atheism without works is dead, says Pope Francis: Who cares?).
As for the Apostle James’s “faith without works is dead”:
“[W]hen Paul says that a person is justified by faith without works (Rom 3:28), his context makes it clear that he defines faith as something more than passive assent to a viewpoint; he defines it as a conviction that Christ is our salvation, a conviction on which one actively stakes one’s life (Rom 1:5). James declares that one cannot be justified by faith without works (James 2:14)—because he uses the word “faith” to mean mere assent that something is true (2:19), he demands that such assent be actively demonstrated by obedience to show that it is genuine (2:18). In other words, James and Paul use the word “faith” differently, but do not contradict one another on the level of meaning. If we ignore context and merely connect different verses on the basis of similar wording, we will come up with contradictions in the Bible that the original writers would never have imagined. (“Biblical Interpretation” by Craig Keener).
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes:
4 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. 9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (See Faith and Jerks…).
So, are we justified by faith alone where works are its fruit, or we justified by faith and works? I think my Roman Catholic blogger needs to rework, if not reword, his comment. And if you want to eschew those canards, let context be your guide.