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Faith alone

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 Contents - Mar 2010AD2000 March 2010 - Buy a copy now
Annunciation: Benedict XVI: Mary's acceptance of the Divine Word
Secularism: Benedict to UK bishops: resist secularist threat - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
Netherlands: Remnants of faith in Europe's most secularised nation - Marina Corradi
Year for the Priest: English-speaking clergy: first ever international conference - Fr Glen Tattersall
Courage: A Catholic psychologist exposes 'gay' myths - Marie Mason
Culture of Life: Cardinal Pell receives pro-life von Galen Award - Babette Francis
Archbishop Saldanha reports from Pakistan - Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha
Foundations of Faith: What the Second Vatican Council really said - John Young
Conversion: Paul Fitzgerald: my spiritual journey - Paul Fitzgerald
Youth: Summer School of Evangelisation: helping young people's faith - Johanna Banks
Events: AD2000 - Passover Meal - 30 March 2010
Letters: Climate censorship - Michael Griffiths
Letters: Genuine ecumenism - Rev Fr M. Durham
Letters: Evil laws - Ken Bayliss
Letters: Common sense - Maureen Federico
Letters: Faith alone - Frank Mobbs (Dr)
Letters: Women priests - Robert Prinzen-Wood
Letters: Seminarian's prayer - J. Loring
Holy Week: Holy Week 2010: Extraordinary Form of the Roman Liturgy (1962 Missal)
Books: Adrienne von Speyr: THE BOUNDLESS GOD and CONFESSION - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Books: THE GOD WHO LOVES YOU, by Peter Kreeft - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Books: LORETO IN AUSTRALIA, by Mary Ryllis Clark - Katharine Munro (reviewer)
Gaudeamus igitur: University graduation: a young Catholic's Valedictory Address - Michael Gleeson
Books: Order books from
Reflection: Mary in medieval art: an expression of the Church's faith - Bishop Arthur Serratelli

I offer a clarification of my brief exposition (September 2009) of the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone in response to Rex Dale's comments in the February issue.

I shall attend to only one point in his letter, which is less than clear.

He writes: 'It is so natural to want to gain salvation by one's own efforts. I remember going through a period of darkness and uncertainty and I would catch myself thinking, 'Oh I have done this and I have done that', instead of looking to the fullness and sufficiency of Christ's work on the cross.'

It appears Mr Dale favours Sola Fide.

Let us think about his statement. Apparently what Christ has done is sufficient to effect my salvation. There is only one requirement - Christ's actions, not mine. So whatever else he taught and did has no bearing on my salvation. Seeing that there is nothing for me to do I might as well forget about salvation. It is a thoroughly boring teaching.

However, Luther and the Reformers in general insisted there was a 'work' which an individual must perform in order to be saved. One must have faith, that is, one must hold a unique belief. Which one? That Christ has saved each person. This is something an individual must do, such that it is the only necessary condition of salvation. That is why the doctrine is named Salvation by Faith alone.

Being inconsistent, Luther went on to say: 'Faith cannot help doing good works constantly ... Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever.'

So one who has faith is already saved and does good works. But suppose a person does not: is he or she still saved? No, says Luther, for this individual never had faith in the first place! Luther is so muddled that he does not recognise the fact that he has incorporated in faith the doing of works in obedience to God.

The refutation of Faith Alone lies in the four Gospels. Therein the Son of God teaches that we are saved by our choices, as well as by God's assistance or grace. For instance, our sins are forgiven, provided we have forgiven others' offences against us.

Thus humans are ennobled. God gives us the responsibility to make of ourselves good characters by our choices to do good rather than evil, to obey God rather than disobey: to be 'soul-makers', thus fitting ourselves for his company in heaven

This is something which only we can do. God cannot do the impossible - he cannot make us good because he cannot make our choices, for any choices he makes are his and not ours.

Gosford, NSW

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 23 No 2 (March 2010), p. 16

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