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.