Since I’m questioning “faith alone,” many of you may be thinking that I’ve denied the faith and need to shut up. Admittedly, I may be pushing one of your hot buttons, tipping one of your sacred cows. But please, don’t hate the messenger. You may think “faith alone” is a basic, settled doctrine of the church and scripture. It really is not.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
So, let me give you 10 reasons why I think “faith alone” needs to be questioned:
- The phrase “faith alone” is not found in scripture except in James 2.24: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.” St. James’ point: human beings are justified by faith and works not by faith alone.
- For over 1500 years, beginning with her inception, the apostolic Church did not teach faith alone (and does not, even to this day).
- A belief that salvation is by faith alone stymies motivation to engage practices that are necessary in being a Christian.
- There are no examples in scripture of men or women who are “saved or justified by faith alone.”
- “Faith alone” was “discovered” by one man, Martin Luther, who was searching for counter-measures to discredit the Roman Catholic church. Individual, independent interpretations of scripture must not be received without question.
- Justification by faith alone places a massive wall between justification and sanctification that is not borne out in scripture or real life (1 Corinthians 6.11).
- Not even one Church Father (100-700AD) advocates “faith alone.”
- Those who promote “faith alone” do so by quoting scriptures that only refer to faith yet present them as if they teach “faith alone.”
- Belief in faith alone causes other scripture to be overlooked, misinterpreted, or denied. For example: Jesus’ exchange with the wealthy young man (Mark 10.17-27) where faith for salvation is not mentioned but “selling all” is and Matthew 25.31-46 where Jesus teaches that the kingdom is prepared for those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty and welcome the stranger. See also Philippians 2.12-13: “work out your own salvation…”
- Faith alone just doesn’t make sense. In no other arena of life do we operate by faith alone. Having to believe is essential to most of life – marriage, friendship, children, jobs, science, driving, computers, shopping, practically everything else and certainly our relationship with the Trinity. Yet, belief always involves some form of effort. Faith alone does not enable a true experience of anything. Belief alone that I’m going to lose weight or have a clean house isn’t going to get it done.
Belief alone that Jesus lived, died and rose again for salvation will not “get it done.” Believing these truths is essential. Yet, a participation in them in some manner is necessary also.
Reminder: My objective is to eliminate “faith alone” as an excuse for not living as a Christian more fully.
Thanks for hanging in here with me.