Saturday, July 20, 2002

Tracts for World Youth Day 2002

Here is one of the tracts I am printing up for distribution at World Youth Day in Toronto.

Myth #4 - Faith Alone

This is probably the one single issue that separates Catholics and Orthodox Christians from their Protestant Christian counterparts.

The “doctrine” of “faith alone” began with Martin Luther in the 16th century when he added the words “alone” and “only” after the word “faith” in the Epistle to the Romans on three separate occassions as he was making his German translation of the Bible. When told about this translational error, Martin Luther replied: Tell them that Dr. Martin Luther will have it so!

Before this insistence on “faith alone”, no Christian had ever advocated such a theological position. However, it has now grown to be the dividing line between Catholics and their Protestant brothers and sisters.

The problem is though, that the phrase “faith alone” is only found once within the Bible and that is in the Epistle of James. That particular verse states:

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)

So how do Catholics view this theological stance? The Catholic Church states that faith must present itself in the form of works. St. Paul referred to this as “faith working by charity” (Gal 5:6).

In an ecumenical work between the Catholic and Lutheran Churches, the Catholic Church ellaborated on it’s position by stating:

Catholics stress, however, that the indwelling Holy Spirit brings about in believers not only assent and trust, but also a loving commitment that issues in good works.

Such an insistence on good works is evident throughout the Gospel and the New Testament Epistles. Probably the most well-known insistence of Jesus on good works can be found in Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 31-46.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans tells us:

For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life... (Romans 2:6-7)

In his letter to the Ephesians, he tells us:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Jesus Himself tells us, in the Gospel of Matthew:

If you would enter life, keep the commandments. (Matthew 19:17)

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