Skip to content
July 4, 2007 / vivator

by faith alone but not by faith that is alone

In his book, Faith Alone, on page 156, Reformed scholar R.C. Sproul wrote: “Justification is by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.  Saving faith is not a “lonely” faith, having no works following as companion.”  He is not the first who made similar claim – Luther wrote: “Works are necessary for salvation but they do not cause salvation; for faith alone gives life.”  (What Luther says, page 1509).   Works in both Sproul and Luther’ statement refers to those we do in our Sanctification, after we become follower of or believers in Christ.  The question is: why call it “Justification by faith alone” if it is not by faith that is alone?   If works are necessary for salvation, as Luther stated, then we are not saved by faith alone.  The fact that faith in Christ (it means Justification to Protestants and “Bible only” Christians) and Sanctification are inseparable was also acknowledged by other Reformer, John Calvin, who wrote: “justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him [Christ], are inseparable (Institute of Christian Religion III.11.6, page 449).   What is Catholic position?  The Catholic Church declares that Justification includes remission of sins, sanctification and the renewal of the inner man (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2019).

Not all Protestants and “Bible only” Christians agree with the concept “salvation by faith alone but not by faith that is alone”.  In the same book (Faith Alone, page 25), Sproul wrote that Protestants are divided into two groups on the issue of whether saving faith necessarily produces the work of obedience or regeneration of believers.  The first group (which he belongs to, so did Luther and Calvin) believes that true saving faith must necessarily and inevitably yield work of obedience.  The second group believes that faith should, but not always, produce work of obedience.  The first group accuses the second to follow a form of antinomianism while the second accuses the first of adding works to faith as condition of salvation, i.e. it is no longer salvation by faith alone (and they are right).  Both groups accuse each other of preaching another gospel condemned by Paul in Galatians 1:8.

Advertisements

16 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Newchasm / Jul 23 2007 10:45 am

    Works are not necessary to faith or even salvation but they necessarily follow.

    Now lets look at the split.
    As for antinominism, The second group does not see how one is motivated to work without making it necessary. The second group also thinks predestination of the first group precludes works. Id does not.

    Whereas, the first group calls the second pelagians-semipelagians. The first group says the motivation comes from it being our spiritual act of worship. They reference verses used by Paul to exhort people to work. (Romans 12) They are independant of necessity for only the free service of the will is acceptable. It is from gratitude rather than necessity. It is to glorify God.

    As for preaching another gospel, they do not always accuse each other. Most reformed people like CS Lewis. An anglican who taught Christus Victor and arminianism. Whereas if you look at another protestant like Charles Finney, he was a pelagrian outright. He did teach another gospel. Most arminian protestants don’t teach prevenant grace. There is less original sin taught too. They open themselves to actually being what they are called. If the shoe fits…

    In the reformed camp, most of the charges are leveled at not, what they believe but a characture. Most of the time, it attacks a reliance on predestination that does not normally exist. They attack Hyper-calvinism. The difference is Reformed protestants also believe it is another gospel but not their own. It is much like how Roman Catholics get misrepresented by dumb fundamentalist evangelicals. Catholics are more nuanced than they give em credit. This goes to my favorite quote.

    “The amount of misrepresentation to which Calvin’s theology has been subjected is enough to prove his doctrine of total depravity several times over.” J.I Packer

    Finally,
    There are multiple gospels floating around protestantism. Protestants were mostly united for 250+ years on the gospel. It fell apart about 200 years ago. You have seen splintering and old heresies resurface since then.

    The protestants who were united for +250 on the gospel have now started acting like catholics. You have said so yourself. They did this instead of returning to actually defending. Actually teaching what they believe. They moved to teach morality rather than christ. I am reformed but I will never be strictly confessional.

  2. fredlybrand / Sep 24 2009 7:25 am

    As one in the Protestant Tradition…I agree with you about Sproul and Luther’s mistake…but I don’t wind up with a Faith Plus Works conclusion. I’ve just released a work on this exact topic..in fact, I trace the cliche back to Calvin’s Antidote to the Council of Trent where he says,

    “It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which
    justifies is not alone.”

    I think your assessment is dead on…except, I don’t accuse them (Piper, Sproul, etc.) of preaching another gospel. Instead, I observe that they are incongruent in their theology, understanding, and communication. At times they affirm ‘faith alone’ and at times they ‘do not affirm faith alone.”

    At any rate, the book is called Back to Faith and is available here on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Back-Faith-Fred-R-Lybrand/dp/1607918870?&camp=212361&linkCode=wey&tag=fredlyborg-20&creative=391821

    Grace and truth,

    Fred Lybrand

  3. vivator / Sep 24 2009 8:50 pm

    Dear Fred,
    In his book, Faith Alone page 25, R.C. Sproul wrote that Protestants are divided into two groups. The first one believes that true saving faith must necessarily and inevitably yield works of obedience or faith that justifies is never alone. Followers of this group include John MacArthur, James Boice, Michael Horton, J.I. Packer, Rod Rosenbladt and others like Sproul himself. The second group, led by Zane Hodges and Charles Ryrie,on the other hand, say that true faith should immediately produce works of obedience but it does not always do so.
    The first group accuses the second to adopt a blatant form of antinomianism while the second accuses the first of teaching a form of neonominiaism or legalism, by which works are added to faith as necessary condition of justification. Perhaps, correct me if I am wrong, you belong to the second group. If you belong to neither of those two, then, I believe, even Sproul would like to know. Note that Catholic position is Justification is by God’s Grace – to the best of my knowledge the Catholic Church never states we are justified by faith plus works.

    • Roger / Oct 24 2009 8:50 pm

      Dear Vivator,

      I couldn’t help recognizing the fact that you first heard the gospel from “dear” Evangelicals. You are not alone, 22 years in the Catholic church did not teach me the gospel either. It seems that so many nominal Catholics hear the gospel from non-Catholic sources, then need to reconcile their new-found beliefs with the old Catholicism they knew, often by way of a quasi-academic approach in order to “satisfice” it (to use Herbert Simon’s term).

      Regarding your statement “to the best of my knowledge the Catholic Church never states we are justified by faith plus works.” How do you read Trent’s Canons Concerning Justification, especially canons 9, 11, 20, 24, 29, 32?

      Elsewhere you ask the rhetorical question: “why call it justification by faith alone if it is not by a faith that is alone?” Elsewhere you call this a “contradiction.” But a contradiction says “‘A’ is not ‘non-A’ at the same time and in the same sense.” What Luther, Calvin, and other reformers meant with their distinction “justification that is not alone” was that ‘A’ is not ‘B’; in other words there are two kinds of faith: one that leads to works, and another that doesn’t. To persist in this misrepresentation would be dishonest.

      • vivator / Oct 25 2009 5:33 pm

        Dear Roger, While I am grateful to my evangelical friends (with whom I still maintain good friendship) I believe it is His plan for me to go through that way. You cannot generalize my (and your) experience – some Catholics I know do not go through that way. The first reason that draws me back to the Catholic Church, as stated in my testimony, is myriads of conflicting interpretations of the same Bible among Protestant and “Bible only” churches. Later I did (and am still studying) the teachings of the Church and discovered, whether you believe it or not, that they are in line with Scripture. I never tried to reconcile it with that of Evangelical, as you wrote – I want to know what the Church really teaches from herself, not from my Evangelical friends.
        I suggest that instead of reading only the Canons you should read also the preceding 16 chapters of the Decree on Justification. Let me quote from Chapter 16 (underline emphasis is mine): “For, whereas Jesus Christ Himself continually infuses his virtue into the said justified,-as the head into the members, and the vine into the branches,-and this virtue always precedes and accompanies and follows their good works, which without it could not in any wise be pleasing and meritorious before God,” Our ability, as branches, to do good works comes from grace of God through Christ, the true vine. For sure Catholic Church does reject Reformer’s Justification by faith alone (Canon 9).
        I am sure you are aware that the phrase “justification is by faith alone but not by faith that is alone” belongs to those who follow the so-called Lordship Salvation. As stated in R.C. Sproul’s book Faith Alone, those who oppose Lordship Salvation accuse them of adding works to faith as necessary condition of Justification. I am not the only one who noted the inconsistency (since you don’t like the word “contradiction”) of Lordship salvation.

      • Roger / Oct 26 2009 10:23 pm

        Dear Vivator, thank you for responding yesterday to my post. The conflicting interpretations among professing Christians should not be surprising given that there are as many Bible interpretations among Catholics themselves. The fact that Rome imposes a veneer of unity does not change the fact that Catholics engage in individual interpretations of church doctrine, as well as individual Bible interpretations(the reason no two Catholics I know have the same doctrine). It really is a tired old canard and probably time to give it up. As Carl Trueman wrote in his essay Thoughts on the Return to Rome of Professor Beckwith: “…for all the crowing over the chaos in Protestantism by various Catholic ex-Protestants, I know of no more practically flexible and ultimately meaningless notion of authority than that which has historically been practiced by the papacy. Protestantism’s chaos may be more evident at an institutional level; but maybe that just makes it more honest about its condition.”

        You suggested reading the preceding 16 chapters of the Decree on Justification – are the canons not conclusions to the chapter? Nevertheless it is clear from the entire context of the Decree on Justification that salvation is NOT by faith alone, but by the synergy of works and faith. Chapter 16: “by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life and to have truly merited eternal life…” Chapter 5: “that they who by sin had been cut off from God, may be disposed through His quickening and helping grace to convert themselves to their own justification by freely assenting to and cooperating with that grace.”

        Furthermore, it is clear from the context that Christ’s substitutionary atonement was insufficient. Chapter 10: The Increase of the Justification Received, Chapter 11: The Observance of the Commandments and the Necessity and Possibility Thereof.

        The phrase “justification is by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone” was used by Luther. Those who use the phrase today mean it in the same way he did. When you quote Sproul’s Faith Alone on this again, you might add his words on page 25: “None on the Lordship side regards works as contributing anything to the grounds of our justification. They insist that the works of Christ alone furnish the grounds for our justification. The issue is this: What constitutes saving faith? Is it possible for a person to have true faith and not have works?”
        To suggest there is an inconsistency committed by those who use Luther’s phrase is disingenuous and co-opting the phrase in support Rome’s view is to be guilty of the fallacy of equivocation. There is an eternal difference between the grounds of our justification, and the outworking of our justification.

  4. fredlybrand / Sep 25 2009 6:27 am

    Vivator,

    I so do appreciate your knowledge and objectivity in the conversation. You are right that I belong to the second group (sort of)…my earlier comments had to do with how I evaluate Sproul, Piper, etc. I discuss his book extensively in Back to Faith. I differ from most in that don’t accuse the group one folks of legalism, etc. My take is that they are incongruent (and a times confused) in their understanding. The affirm things that are by-and-large mutually exclusive.

    If I can, I’d like to point out that your explanation of their view, while accurate, displays the problem:

    You said, “The first one believes that true saving faith must necessarily and inevitably yield works of obedience or faith that justifies is never alone.”

    If works must be yielded ‘inevitably’ then clearly they may not be there initially. Yet, if they are not there initially, how can it be said that justifying faith is ‘never alone’?

    Piper, in his ministry and church changed the phrase to “does not remain alone.” Of course, that changes the discussion…and clearly does not match what Calvin, Luther, Owen, Wesley, etc. meant.

    A part of my argument is that they created a theoretical construct to answer the charge against them…the construct itself is actually something the Roman Catholics would be very happy with (you are eloquent on this in your section on salvation). We are all asking, “Where do works fit?” I would say, “I’m sorry, for the believer or the unbeliever?” When answered I would would respond for each—“For the unbeliever, no works, faith alone in Christ alone. And for the believer, works are vital…just read Titus.”

    You sum it well (in your comments on salvation)

    Catholics who consider Sanctification as integral part of Justification believe works of regeneration are part of Justification. However instead of saying we are justified by faith plus works the correct expression is we are justified by grace – it is God’s Grace that first moves us to believe in Christ and to obey God’s commandments in our Sanctification.

    The essence of the issue is the discussion on justification and sanctification. To say that Catholics believe one is justified by grace…is the exact same thing any Protestant could say. Just that God gave us any means to reach Him is all grace!

    Yet, your words are what we all understand Faith plus Works to mean here. “Works of regeneration are part of Justification.” In other words, (inside ‘grace’) works are a necessary-and-additional element of Justification.

    I’m pretty confident a Catholic could say, “We are saved by faith in Christ alone.” Whereas, I would say, “We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone.” For me, works are a fruit of walking intimately with my Lord, and related to my reward in glory (not my entrance into glory). For Catholics (and Piper and Sproul at times…incongruence here) works are necessary in addition to faith for Justification, though it is all of God, and all of grace.

    Thanks for your good work! 🙂

    Fred Lybrand

    P.S. I deal with Antinomianism a bit in the book as well. The funny part is that the Roman Catholics of the day accused the Reformers of being antinomian…now the Calvinists (hyper?) like Sproul and Piper accuse us of the same. Seems like all I can do is accuse the Universalists of being the real antinomians! 🙂

  5. vivator / Oct 31 2009 9:51 pm

    Dear Roger,
    You give misleading statement that no two Catholics you know have the same doctrine – individual Catholic, unlike Protestant and “Bible onlyist”, cannot create doctrine. The Church, being the Magisterium, has the final say of the correct interpretation of the Bible and therefore she alone can declare doctrines. Unfortunately the Reformers abolished Magisterium and gave the right to interpret the Bible to whoever can read the Bible – something that is, ironically, never taught in the Bible.
    The sixteen chapters provide background of Catholic Justification and will help you to understand it, especially on the relation between Grace, freedom, works and salvation. Anyway it is up to you – if you don’t want to understand it, you will never understand it. You don’t need to repeat again and again your statement that Catholics do not believe in Salvation by faith alone – Catholics do not believe in such thing and neither do you if you follow Lordship Salvation. Lordship salvation teaches that we are justified by faith alone but we are not saved by faith alone, candidly admitted by Luther himself: Works are necessary to salvation, but they do not cause salvation, because faith alone gives life (Luther’s Works Vol. 34). If works, though not part of (your) Justification, are necessary for salvation then we are not saved by faith alone – you are simply hiding works under “faith alone salvation” mask. Since faith is a gift from God and it seems to me you are against synergism, my question to you is why God gives dead faith (faith that produces no works of obedience) to some and then later condemned them to hell for this defective gift from Himself?

  6. Roger / Nov 1 2009 11:12 pm

    Vivator, please pardon the format that follows. So much needs to be said that it is easier for me this way…italics would have been my preference, but BOLD letters will have to suffice to distinguish my comments from yours…UNFORTUNATELY, IT LOOKS LIKE I’M SHOUTING. (I’m not)

    You give misleading statement that no two Catholics you know have the same doctrine – individual Catholic, unlike Protestant and “Bible onlyist”, cannot create doctrine. The Church, being the Magisterium, has the final say of the correct interpretation of the Bible and therefore she alone can declare doctrines. Unfortunately the Reformers abolished Magisterium and gave the right (I THANK THE LORD FOR 2TIM 3:16-17) to interpret the Bible to whoever can read the Bible – something that is, ironically, never taught in the Bible (I THANK THE LORD FOR 2TIM 3:15).
    WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, I THINK I AM A BETTER JUDGE OF MY EXPERIENCE WITH CATHOLICS THAN YOU ARE. I WAS A CATHOLIC AND MY ENTIRE FAMILY IS CATHOLIC. I DO KNOW THE R.C. CHURCH DETERMINES DOCTRINE FOR CATHOLICS. I ALSO KNOW THAT ALL CATHOLICS INTERPRET CHURCH DOCTRINE FOR THEMSELVES. DO YOU PRETEND THAT ALL CATHOLICS ARE IN LOCK-STEP WITH THE VATICAN? HAVE YOU NOT HEARD OF “CAFETERIA-STYLE” CATHOLICS? ROME HAS.

    The sixteen chapters provide background of Catholic Justification and will help you to understand it, especially on the relation between Grace, freedom, works and salvation. Anyway it is up to you – if you don’t want to understand it, you will never understand it.
    A PROPER EPISTEMOLOGY DOESN’T DEPEND ON “WANTING” TO UNDERSTAND; AN INTELLECTUALLY HONEST APPROACH MEANS AN UNBIASED READING OF THE TEXT, A CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF IT, AND A CONSIDERED CONCLUSION. I HAVE DONE THAT AND CONCLUDE THE CATHOLIC JUSTIFICATION IS UNBIBLICAL.

    You don’t need to repeat again and again your statement that Catholics do not believe in Salvation by faith alone – Catholics do not believe in such thing and neither do you if you follow Lordship Salvation (WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, IF THIS IS YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF LORDSHIP SALVATION, THEN YOU SIMPLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND IT. SEE THE QUOTE BY SPROUL FURTHER ON).

    Lordship salvation teaches that we are justified by faith alone (CORRECT) but we are not saved by faith alone [PROPERLY STATED: “NOT SAVED(a fait accompli) BY A FAITH THAT IS ALONE” ](DON’T CREATE A CONTRADICTION WHERE NONE EXISTS), candidly admitted by Luther himself (NO REFORMER BELIEVED THAT WORKS HAD A ROLE IN JUSTIFICATION. THE ISSUE PROPERLY STATED IS WHAT DR. SPROUL SAYS IN HIS BOOK FAITH ALONE: “What constitutes saving faith? Is it possible for a person to have true faith and not have works?”

    Works are necessary to salvation (INCORRECT), but they do not cause salvation, because faith alone gives life (GRACE ALONE, BY FAITH ALONE, IN CHRIST ALONE)(Luther’s Works Vol. 34). If works, though not part of (your) Justification, are necessary for salvation (THEY AREN’T) then we are not saved by faith alone – you are simply hiding works under “faith alone salvation” mask.
    THERE IS NOTHING HIDING HERE EXCEPT YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINES OF GRACE. HERE IS SPROUL [AGAIN!] ON THE LORDSHIP CONTROVERSY, page 25 of FAITH ALONE: “None on the Lordship side regards works as contributing anything to the GROUNDS of our justification. They insist that the works of CHRIST ALONE furnish the grounds for our justification. The issue is this: What constitutes saving faith? Is it possible for a person to have true faith and not have works?” DO YOU HAVE REASON NOT TO TRUST SPROUL’S ASSESSMENT OF THE LORDSHIP DEBATE?
    RECAPPING: THE LORDSHIP ISSUE IS NOT ABOUT THE GROUNDS OF JUSTIFICATION, IT IS ABOUT WHAT FOLLOWS JUSTIFICATION. EVERY TIME YOU INSIST THAT THE LORDSHIP FOLKS ARE SYNERGISTS, YOU ARE ATTACKING A “STRAW MAN.”

    Since faith is a gift from God and it seems to me you are against synergism (I AM AGAINST ANYTHING THAT GOD IS AGAINST… ROM.4:5, 4:24, 11:6; TITUS 3:5; EPH 2:8-9; GAL2:16; ), my question to you is why God gives dead faith (faith that produces no works of obedience) to some and then later condemned them to hell for this defective gift from Himself?
    AH, THE MOTHER OF ALL RED HERRINGS(WEREN’T WE TALKING ABOUT JUSTIFICATION?), BEGGING THE QUESTION, AND OXYMORON (“DEAD FAITH”), ALL AT THE SAME TIME. YOUR QUESTION IS BEST SUITED FOR THE LORD, A GOOD PLACE TO START: ROMANS CHAPTER 9.

    • vivator / Nov 3 2009 9:05 pm

      Dear Roger,
      2 Tim 3 15-17 does not give the right to interpret the Bible to individual – it only says about the divine origin of Scripture and its profitability. Why don’t you read 2 Peter 1:20 that is flatly against private interpretation (of prophecies)? Why you are so afraid of authority other than your own? Christ had poor relation with the Pharisees but He still recognized their authority and told His disciples and listeners to practice and to observe whatever they told them (Matthew 23:2).
      You are bragging your knowledge in Catholicism just by reading 33 canons of decree of Justification. Wow, you are over-estimating yourself!
      I never wrote followers of Lordship salvation are practicing synergism – I wonder where you got that idea – just calm down and do not let your emotion control you.
      In Lordship salvation true and saving faith will inevitably (not optionally) produce works of obedience or regeneration – or you got two in one package of gift, so to speak. If no, i.e. if you have faith alone, then it is dead (or false?) and non-saving faith. Am I right?
      Now coming to my question: why God gives some dead faith and then condemning them to hell for having that defective gift from Himself? You do not answer it, though you gave a hint (read Romans 9). If you are a father, will you give your son defective gift, like broken or damaged toy? Well, I hope not. If no, why would God, our heavenly Father, do so? This issue is related to predestination and I presume you believe in double predestination, i.e. God from eternity predestines unconditionally whom He wants to be saved and whom who will end-up in hell. The former will receive gift of faith, which always comes together with works of obedience. They cannot refuse this gift, i.e. without their cooperation (monergism). The latter, unfortunately, will not receive any gift or they receive incomplete gift (dead faith). Am I right? How you reconcile this belief with Titus 2:11: For the Grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men and 1 Cor 15:22: For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

  7. Roger / Nov 5 2009 9:17 pm

    Hi Vivator:
    You claim: “I never wrote followers of Lordship salvation are practicing synergism – I wonder where you got that idea…”

    Oct 31, 2009 you wrote:
    “Catholics do not believe in Salvation by faith alone [monergism] – Catholics do not believe in such thing and neither do you if you follow Lordship Salvation.”

    Oct 25, 2009 you wrote:
    “As stated in R.C. Sproul’s book Faith Alone, those who oppose Lordship Salvation accuse them of adding works to faith as necessary condition of Justification. I am not the only one who noted the inconsistency…”

    July 4, 2007 you wrote:
    “If works are necessary for salvation, as Luther stated, then we are not saved by faith alone. The fact that faith in Christ (it means Justification to Protestants and “Bible only” Christians) and Sanctification are inseparable [ie. synergism] was also acknowledged by other Reformer, John Calvin…”

    In your post, Salvation in Catholicism, you wrote:
    “Without God’s Grace we cannot do both [believe in Christ and obey God’s commandments], not even have the initiative, but we, in using our freedom, have to cooperate with it. It is worth to note that not all Protestants and “Bible only” Christians believe that Sanctification is inseparable from Justification, i.e. they believe that works of regeneration during our Sanctification, are optional, not obligatory, for salvation.”

    You can see how this might appear as an attempt to appropriate Lordship people and the Reformed as implicitly embracing a justification according to Rome (synergism). Such a recruitment is wrong at best and deceptive at worst because Lordship people and Reformed people and Bible-as-authority people believe in grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. They are not synergists.

    You write: “Why don’t you read 2 Peter 1:20 that is flatly against private interpretation (of prophecies)?”

    My understanding of 2 Peter 1:20, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” is the same as the ESV Study Bible’s:

    Two main views of this verse have been proposed: (1) The first view, the one most in harmony with the esv rendering, understands the verse to explain the origin of the prophecies of OT Scripture, namely, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from (i.e., originates out of) someone’s own interpretation (i.e., from someone’s individual understanding of events, visions, or other things), but rather, that “all prophecy of Scripture” came about from the Holy Spirit’s leading (see v. 21). (This takes the Gk. word ginomai in its most common sense, as meaning “come into existence”.) According to this first view, then, Peter is assuring his readers that all the OT Scriptures that pointed to Christ were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that the readers should pay close attention to them (v. 19), perhaps in contrast to false teachers who were denigrating Scripture. (2) The second view understands the verse to be speaking of how OT prophecies are to be interpreted, therefore some translations render this verse, “no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of [or “for”] one’s own interpretation.” According to this second view, Peter is saying that one must interpret the OT Scriptures as they are interpreted by the apostles, and hence the interpretations of the OT by the false teachers should be rejected. Although this second view is possible, the first seems more likely, in light of the immediate context and Peter’s overall emphasis on the authority of Scripture.

  8. vivator / Nov 5 2009 10:05 pm

    Dear Roger,
    Please read again my reply on Oct 31, there is no word inside parentheses “[monergism]” after the phrase “faith alone”. You added it yourself! If you think faith alone followers are always monergist you are wrong – only those who follow Calvinism/Reformed believe in monergism. I think you are over-reacting here. You need to study more about monergism and synergism. In monergism when a person becomes believer in Christ, it is because he/she is regenerated by God without his/her co-operation – this leads to the concept of Irresistible Grace, the I of TULIP, which I am sure you are familiar with. In synergism God first moves a person to believe in Christ but he/she becomes believer only when he/she cooperate in using his/her freewill – in other words Grace is resistible. Thus there are synergist Protestants who believe in salvation by faith alone. In my post “Salvation in Catholicism” I wrote about two different views within Protestantism, the first is Lordship salvation and the second one is the opposing view (Sproul named Hodges Zane and another person who support this view). I have no intention to make Lordship salvation followers look like synergist – if you understand it that way, I am really surprised.

  9. Roger / Nov 9 2009 10:37 am

    Dear Vivator,

    Thank you for clarifying your position on monergism versus synergism. You rightly point out my bracketed addition of “monergism” to your quote – I was merely trying to make sense of your position.

    I understand now that when you describe Lordship people as “synergists” you do so in the ‘election/free will’ sense. What muddies the water is when you ascribe to Lordship people a synergism of the ‘cooperative/justication’ kind, as in your comment on Oct 31, 2009:
    “Catholics do not believe in Salvation by faith alone – Catholics do not believe in such thing and neither do you if you follow Lordship Salvation.”

    Adding to this difficulty is your failure to acknowledge this erroneous assessment of Lordship salvation. “Lordship” salvation is indeed by faith alone, contrary to your statement of Oct 31st, and as Sproul makes clear on page 25 of Faith Alone, the same source you used to support your case. Here is Sproul again for the benefit of your readers: “None on the Lordship side regards works as contributing anything to the grounds of our justification. They insist that the works of Christ alone furnish the grounds for our justification. The issue is this: What constitutes saving faith? Is it possible for a person to have true faith and not have works?”

    Your intransigence here and your continued appeals to a fringe element “Lordship” makes me wonder if you do so to recruit legitimacy (from Protestantism yet!) for a Catholic cooperative view of justification.

    Wikipedia (which you will again dismiss, no doubt) comments on this and includes a reference to Catholic Robert N. Wilkin:
    “Within Protestantism, there is debate as to how strongly sanctification is tied to justification. Thus, in modern times, the “Lordship Salvation” controversy between some faculty at Dallas Seminary (Charles Ryrie and Zane C. Hodges) and others (John F. MacArthur and R.C. Sproul) has resulted in serious thinking on this question: can one be justified without any evidence of sanctification whatsoever?
    (It should be noted that this question, however important, is a misunderstanding of the Lordship Salvation controversy. The proposition that all genuine born again people will do some good works is common ground, since grace advocates Wilkin, Ryrie and Hodges have all concurred that they will. [see, Wilkin, “Are Good Works Inevitable?” Grace in Focus, February 1990, Ryrie, So Great Salvation, and Hodges, “We Believe in: Assurance of Salvation” The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, 1990] In the Lordship debate, the question is: can true believers commit ‘apostasy’?)

    Looking at this controversy from the outside, Roman Catholics claim that “justification by faith alone” does not have a coherent meaning.

    Protestants meanwhile hold tenaciously to the sola fide formula, charging that without it, the Christian is led down a path that is inevitably Pelagian and Judaizing…”

    Finally, your depictions of Catholicism as “all grace” and of “grace merits grace” are unknown to the many Catholics I know, whereas the overwhelming majority of the Evangelicals I know would readily recognize ‘grace alone; faith alone; Christ alone’. This I would venture to say represents either your own “fringe” understanding, or a spectacular failure on the part of Rome to teach the true doctrines of grace.

    These links might be helpful to others:
    http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue93.htm
    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/whatismonergism2.html

  10. Steve Finnell / Feb 23 2015 4:50 am

    SAVED BY GRACE ALONE AND FAITH ALONE?—BY STEVE FINNELL

    Calvinists often make the statement we are saved by grace alone and by faith alone. This is in and of its self a conflicting proclamation. You can believe one or the other, but cannot believe both.

    Definition of alone: separate, apart, to the exclusion of all else.

    It take unbridled self deception to say “I believe I was saved by grace alone and saved by faith alone.”

    To be save by grace alone means that God does everything for you. Grace alone suggests that men have no free-will. Grace alone means that God forces men to have faith so that they might believe and be saved. Grace alone implies that men repent only because God makes it impossible to resist. Grace alone means that men are baptized against their free-will. Grace alone means that men only confess Jesus as the Son of God because God gives them no other choice.

    Faith alone, taken at face value means men are saved by faith alone. If you are saved by faith alone, then you do not need grace. If you are saved by faith alone then you do not need to be baptized in water.

    You cannot on one hand say I was saved by grace alone and then say I was saved by faith alone.

    There is no verse Scripture that says, “Men are saved by grace alone.”
    There is no verse on Scripture that says, “Men are saved by faith alone.”

    The Bible says men are saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.) It does not say men are saved by grace alone.

    Romans 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; (It says men are justified by grace, however, it does not say grace alone.)

    Acts 13:38-39 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.(Men receive forgiveness from sin because they believe in Jesus, however, it does not say men receive forgiveness by faith alone.)

    Acts 3:19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;(It says men need to repent so their sins may be wiped away, but it does not say repent only.)

    Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;(It says if you confess Jesus as Lord you will be saved, however, it does not say confess Jesus only.)

    Acts 2:38 Perter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (It says if you are baptized your sins will be forgiven, but it does not say baptism only.)

    The Bible teaches we are saved by grace, but not by grace alone.

    The Bible teaches we are saved by faith, but not by faith alone.

    The Bible teaches that we are saved by confession, but not by confession alone.

    The Bible teaches are sin are forgive because we repent, but not by repentance alone.

    The Bible teaches that are sins are forgiven because of water baptism, but not by baptism alone.

    GRACE: Romans 3:24
    FAITH: JOHN 3:16
    REPENTANCE: Acts 2:38
    CONFESSION: Romans 10:9-10
    BAPTISM: 1 Peter 3:21

    THERE IS NO SAVED BY “ONLY” FOUND IN THE BIBLE, WITH THE EXCEPTION BEING THAT JESUS IS THE ONLY SAVIOR! (Acts 4:10-12)

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

  11. Unknown / Dec 9 2015 12:26 am

    I am regular visitor, how are you everybody?
    This post posted at this web page is really good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: