10 Reasons To Take A Second Look At “Faith Alone”

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

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. 

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So, let me give you 10 reasons why I think “faith alone” needs to be questioned:  

  1. 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. 
  2. For over 1500 years, beginning with her inception, the apostolic Church did not teach faith alone (and does not, even to this day). 
  3. A belief that salvation is by faith alone stymies motivation to engage practices that are necessary in being a Christian. 
  4. There are no examples in scripture of men or women who are “saved or justified by faith alone.” 
  5. “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.
  6. 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). 
  7. Not even one Church Father (100-700AD) advocates “faith alone.” 
  8. Those who promote “faith alone” do so by quoting scriptures that only refer to faith yet present them as if they teach “faith alone.” 
  9. 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…”
  10. 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. 

Dr. K