Friday, September 4, 2009

Sola Fide - thoughts from a Catholic blog

A week or so ago I found a blog of former Reformed scholars that have joined the Catholic church and blog about theology. Yesterday's post was about the Protestant stand on Sola Fide (Justification by faith alone).

If I'm reading it all right, I really brief summation would be that they say Protestants think:

Faith —-> Justification & Charity (love)

Where as for Catholics one must also love God, not just believe in Him, so:
Faith & Charity —-> Justification

I jumped in and said that I think the reformed model believes that man cannot ever produce the faith or the charity without the supernatural work of God first, and so it would be more like:

Regeneration-->Justification -->faith, charity (all other gifts of the Spirit)

What do you guys think? Thoughts?


Jaimie said...

I think the Bible is all over the place on this. But I am not a total-depravity chick. I think we can believe in God... because I do. And nothing supernatural happened to me to get here.


Faith ---> Charity ---> Justification

Because I think charity is more than just a tack-on, though not necessary for justification. As James said, charity WILL be there if we have real faith, but God looks at the heart attitude first.

Kacie said...

yeah, I do believe in total depravity, and I'd say it's not externally supernatural. I just think that no human on their own ever seeks God, that our hearts are fully turned away. So regeneration is that mysterious work of the heart when the Spirit changes the natural direction of the heart to seek for and long for Him.

I am not a total CAlvinist, but on this one I feel like all of Paul's insistance that is "not of your own work" or whatever follows in line with the idea that none of us, left alone, ever seeks God, let alone reach Him.

ahhh CAlvinism. This debate was interesting because I'd never really heard a Catholic arguement like that. I've heard more of a - "you must be in the church", but never a "faith must come from love"

In my assumption, because faith comes from the regeneration of the Spirit in our hearts, when HE comes, He by nature and necessity brings all of the "fruits of the Spirit" with Him - and so of course faith comes with love - they both come with the Spirit.

Jaimie said...

But I mean, of course Paul would say that. Look at his life. He was quite literally turned away from his sin and turned to God.

Maybe I am overly looking at the context. :P

Not trying to be belligerent. I know the total depravity position; I used to hold it. But recently I've reconsidered the idea that humans DO have some God-given power of their own. He created us and we are in His image, and I don't want to devalue that if I don't have to. My position on this could be motivated by pride. I can't really tell. I try to look at things honestly... what the text says, not "what is the most humiliating position to take." (I'm not saying that's how you arrived at that position AT ALL, nor anyone else, but that's how it feels if I were to accept that position, as if I was doing it for the sake of humiliation not for the sake of truth.) I will say that if Total Depravity is true, I won't be heartbroken or anything. Praise God either way. :)

This comment was way longer than I intended it to be. Haha, I argued about this so much in college I try not to anymore. You don't convince anyone in this area. But it's good to share.

CM said...

I don't believe in total depravity; we are created in God's image, and therefore there is good there (God's doing, not ours). I would say that I don't believe that we are completely turned away, but we are completely incapable of reaching out to Him without His grace. If we are dead in sin, it doesn't mean that every part of us is bad. The good is still there, it's just dead and incapable of responding to God until God first restores it to life.

Kacie said...

Well CM at least in how reformed folks define total depravity, you do believe in it! :) As I understand it, total depravity is simply the belief that without God first iniating it, we are completely turned away and incapable of reaching Him.

But, as you say, we are made in the image of God, so of course we are MADE beautiful, made for Him, it's just scarred and marred so that without His touch we can never reach Him.

Exactly what you said is how I understand total depravity.

Kacie said...

Yeah I totally argued about this a lot in college too! What I can't get is limited atonement... that's what I can't embrace fully. Ironically Isaac, who was anti-calvinism when we met, now is a whole-hearted advocate.

Jaimie said...

Yeah I made a switch in college (full Calvanist)... and then I switched back! I couldn't believe in the Calvanist God. I hated him. And so I've decided it is more important that I believe in God than believe these minor quibbles about God one way or the other. I withhold my opinion on it until I have more information.

CM said...

I guess total depravity was always explained differently to me. Basically that we are wholly bad, like a dung hill, but Christ covers it up, like with snow. So then we are snow-covered dung hills.

I like your way better. "Scarred and marred" ,yes, but full healing in Christ's grace, so that we truly are a new creation.

Umm, what is limited atonement? I don't think I've ever heard of that.

Kacie said...

oh... limited atonement... essentially it is the belief that Christ died for the elect, for those who would believe, and not the whole world.

I understand where that belief comes from, but ...ultimately I can't reconcile it with scripture

Jaimie said...

I don't even understand how limited atonement works. Theology gets to a point where it's really fantasy-ish. We are saying that God only died so much, or used this much power instead of that much power, and I wonder if God must be thinking, "Silly rabbit... I died. That is the beginning and the end of it."

CM said...

I guess I have heard of limited atonement...just not much about it. Thanks for explaining!

That Married Couple said...

So, I totally didn't read the original post because it's long and I'm about to dash off. But I don't think I've ever heard a talk along these lines before. Whenever I hear about sola fide, people get into the faith vs works thing: where Protestants say you're saved by faith alone, and they think Catholics say you're saved by works. But it turns out Catholics don't say you're saved by faith OR by works, but by grace. God's grace is the key to salvation.

Wish I had a chance to link to something about this, but I've gotta run. Let me know if you'd like me to, though, and I'll try and get on again to do so!

Kacie said...

Well, I think both Protestants and Catholics believe that we are only saved by the grace of God - but how? Catholics would say faith and charity, Protestants would say faith alone.

Specifically for Reformed Protestants, we would say that we can't have faith or charity or anything until the Holy Spirit moves us towards God, since without Him we are dead in our sin. So - when the Holy Spirit moves us towards God until we know Him and are His, I think it's not that we have faith alone, but we have the Spirit, which is faith, love, joy, peace...etc.. etc. So yes, we are saved through faith, but that is not seperate from charity/love.

That Married Couple said...

Okay, I think I see where you're coming from, and how the total depravity stuff earlier relates. Sorry - it took me a while! I don't know that I'm able to address that sufficiently.

Also, this might be a silly question, but what does it mean to be a Reformed Protestant? Is that a specific denomination? Or a different way of looking at established denominations?