“For God is not the author of confusion….”
—1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV)
As any Christian would doubtless agree, the single most important thing the Bible has to teach us is how to be saved. This is the heart of the message it brings, far and away its most elemental and consequential lesson; and so we would have every right to expect that, if any of the Bible is the word of God, if he has preserved any of his message to humanity, it would be this.
In light of this conclusion, it is all the more surprising to find, when we examine the Bible, that there is no single verse in it that tells us exactly how to be saved. All Christian beliefs on this matter are interpretations. There is no one passage that says, “Do X, Y and Z, and you’ll get into Heaven.”
In fact, there are several such passages – and this is where the problem lies. On this most critical of issues, the Bible is not consistent; it does not give a clear and unified picture. Instead, it contradicts itself, with verses addressing the topic of salvation that offer conflicting advice. And this is one of the main reasons why I am not a Christian, why I am confident that the Bible is not the word of God and never was.
I do not believe, as some fundamentalist Christians seem to, that even the slightest error or mistake in the Bible renders it entirely worthless. In principle, I have no problem with the idea that the Bible was once God’s word to humanity, but that minor changes and mistakes have been subsequently introduced by human copiers. But for the Bible to be worth anything, I believe it is more than reasonable to expect at least the most important parts of it to have been kept free of error, even if human influence has crept into the rest. However, this has not been done, and therefore there are only two possible conclusions: either the Bible was the work of a very apathetic and unconcerned deity, or else it was the product of human minds and human hands from the beginning. One of these solutions is simple and parsimonious; the other raises more questions than it answers. I know which one I pick.
Let us examine what the New Testament has to say on the issue of salvation. We will find that all the verses which address this topic fall into one of four categories:
- Faith alone – belief in Jesus Christ as the only Son of God will gain a person admittance to Heaven; nothing additional is required, and nothing else will suffice. The position of most modern-day evangelical Christians.
- Faith and baptism – a person must believe in Jesus Christ as divine, but must also be baptized in water, to gain admittance to the kingdom of God. The position of modern-day Lutheran, Seventh-Day Adventist and Oneness Pentecostal churches, it was also widely held in the early Christian church and by church fathers such as Origen and Augustine (see http://www.issuesetc.org/resource/journals/kastens.htm).
- Faith and works – a person must believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, but must also do good works, usually defined as giving to charity, feeding the poor, aiding the needy, etc. The position of the Roman Catholic church.
- Predestination – a person’s belief and actions are both irrelevant. God has chosen some for salvation and some for damnation, and nothing anyone can do will alter their status from one category to another. The position of 16th-century theologian John Calvin and the sect he founded, unsurprisingly called Calvinists.
These categories and the verses that support each of them will now be enumerated.
According to many modern-day evangelical (so-called “born-again”) Christians, the only thing a person has to do to be saved is to sincerely say the following prayer, or something equivalent to it:
“Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ shed his precious blood and died for my sin. I am willing to turn from sin. I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal savior.”
At the conclusion of this short prayer (it took me about 10 seconds to say it), we are told, Jesus Christ will enter a person’s heart, cleanse their soul of sin and take control of their life, guiding and instructing it from that point on. Nothing else is required to be saved, these Christians believe, and there is no other way to be saved. Though the new convert is likely to do good deeds from then on as Jesus transforms his personality, good deeds are not required for salvation, nor do they help attain it; they are merely the outward expression of inward faith, and it is faith alone that saves – so these Christians believe.
This position is not without Biblical support. For example, the New Testament’s Epistle to the Ephesians takes a similar position and states it clearly:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
—Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
The import of this seems simple enough and impossible to deny. Salvation “is the gift of God” and “not of works”; it is faith alone that saves. From these plain words generations of Protestants have gotten their inspiration. There are numerous other verses that say the same thing:
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
—Titus 3:5 (KJV)
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
—Acts 16:30-31 (KJV)
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…”
—Romans 1:16 (KJV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life…. He that believeth on him is not condemned.”
—John 3:16,18 (KJV)
The first verse, from Titus, repeats that good works do not save, and the latter three verses all say the same thing when discussing what does save: belief in Jesus Christ. None of them mention any other requirement.
However, there are other verses that say differently – verses that, when enumerating the requirements for salvation, add an additional requirement about which the above passages say nothing. For example:
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” —Mark 16:16 (KJV)
As plainly as the above verses say faith alone is needed for salvation, this verse from the Gospel of Mark says that two things are needed: faith and baptism. Needless to say, if this is the case, then the “faith alone” verses have omitted a crucial requirement. Was the jailor from Acts led astray and doomed by Paul’s bad advice?
There are several possible responses to this. A Christian who does not believe in the necessity of being baptized might say that the “baptism” being referred to here is not a physical water baptism, but a “baptism of the Spirit” or some such mystical event. Or (if he is of the non-inerrantist variety) he could point out that this verse does not rightfully belong in Mark, but is part of the clumsy, embellished addition tacked on to the gospel by a later interpolator. (The original version of Mark had no post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, ending instead with the women fleeing from the empty tomb. Verses 16:9 and onward do not exist in the earliest manuscripts.)
One additional verse answers both these objections:
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
—John 3:5 (KJV)
This verse from the Gospel of John, spoken by Jesus himself, makes it absolutely clear that water baptism is a requirement for salvation. It draws a distinction between baptism of water and “baptism of the Spirit,” and makes it plain that both are required: those who lack either one “cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Some Christian apologists who prefer the “faith alone” interpretation, such as J.P. Holding, have argued that this reference to baptism should be seen as metaphorical “in light of the intimate connection of water, spirit, and cleansing in Judaism.” I do not doubt that such a connection existed, but how Mr. Holding makes the leap from there to the conclusion that the baptism mentioned in John 3:5 is not a literal one, I confess myself puzzled. Mr. Holding also claims that a reference by Jesus to water baptism would have only confused Nicodemus, the Jewish priest who would not have known what it was – a claim that is clearly false, as John 1:19-26 records the Jerusalem priests sending emissaries to John the Baptist to ask about his identity and his work, and in any event there are many occasions in the gospels where Jesus has no compunction about speaking in ways that confuse all those around him.
Indeed, the existence of John the Baptist, his declared mission, and Jesus’ interactions with him, which are mentioned in all four gospels, raise difficulties for those who deny the necessity of baptism. In all three synoptic gospels, Jesus is depicted as undergoing baptism himself; John (3:22, 4:1) represents Jesus and his disciples as baptizing others, and in Matthew 28:19 Jesus commands his disciples to go and baptize “all nations”. Why would all four gospels place so much emphasis on something that was of no real importance? Why would Jesus himself be baptized, Christians should ask themselves, if not to set an example?
In a subsequent response, Mr. Holding argues regarding John 3:5:
“Nicodemus was taken aback at the notion of being ‘born again’, thus in the context ‘born of water’ means physical human birth… If you were never physically human, then you can’t be saved. It’s actually pretty simple.”
I wonder if it has occurred to Mr. Holding that, by this interpretation, human fetuses and children that die before being physically born will be damned to Hell.
And as already mentioned, there are Christian churches today who do believe baptism is a requirement for salvation, that it “washes away” original sin and helps a believer gain admittance to Heaven. Most prominent of these are the Lutherans – the oldest and largest Protestant denomination (see http://www.lca.org.au/aboutlutherans/whoweare.html) – who generally reject the “age of accountability” doctrine and preach the necessity of infant baptism, arguing that even infants are sinful, and even a child who dies without being baptized will be damned (see this document, an official Lutheran doctrinal statement, which says: “…both adults and infants have to be baptised if they are to be saved, that is, enter into the presence of God”).
One final attempt to deal with this problem comes from CARM, whose argument on the issue is essentially, “We know the Bible says X, therefore the verses which seem to be saying Y must be saying something else.” This amounts to assuming inerrancy in order to prove inerrancy, and will not suffice.
No Christian sect denies that faith in God and Jesus is necessary for salvation. But is that enough? Or must faith be supplemented with a component of action – must we do good deeds in the world?
The writer of the Epistle of James seems to believe so:
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone…. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
—James 2:14-17,24 (KJV)
The conclusion advocated by the writer of this epistle is an obvious one. Faith without works is “dead” and cannot save; people are justified by good works as well as faith, not by faith alone.
The most common evangelical reply to this is that James is not saying that good works are necessary for salvation, but that faith in God produces good works by definition, and so the two are inseparable. But this will not suffice. The writer of the epistle himself refutes this position in verse 2:19. As he explains, his argument is not that faith produces good works which are not truly needed – indeed, he says that “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” His argument is that faith alone is not enough for salvation – after all, he says, the demons also have faith in God, but they are not saved by it. Nowhere does the writer draw a distinction between the type of faith demons have and the type believers have. Instead, the distinction he points out is that believers do good works, and demons do not.
In response to this, some apologists argue that James’ statement “by works a man is justified” is in regard to fellow believers, not to God. This is not tenable. When the word translated above as “justified” (Greek dikaioo, to render, show or regard as righteous) is used in other contexts in the New Testament, it is always used in the sense of being justified before God. (Examples: Romans 3:20, 3:24, 3:28, 5:1, 5:9; Galatians 2:16; Titus 3:7). It is never used to imply justification in the sight of one’s fellow Christians.
To further illuminate the contradiction here, let us consider what is surely not an uncommon occurrence – the deathbed conversion. Suppose a dying man, with his final breath, is convicted of his sins, sincerely repents and cries out to Jesus to save him, and then dies, without ever doing any good deeds in the name of his newfound faith. Will he go to Heaven or not? By the logic of the verses listed in the first section of this essay, his salvation is as assured as that of a person who repented at any other point in their life. But according to the Epistle of James, since this man never had the chance to do good works, his faith is “dead” and cannot save him. We are left to conclude that he is therefore damned.
As a final point in favor of this interpretation, consider the words of a famous past Christian. Modern-day inerrantist apologists are stuck with the canon of the Bible, as inconsistent as it is, and will go to any lengths rather than admit that it contains a contradiction. But theologians of the past were not so concerned with protecting the canon above all else. Martin Luther, the key founder of the Protestant Reformation that led to the creation of all Protestant sects, read the Epistle of James and saw in it exactly what modern-day apologists insist it does not contain: a requirement for believers to do good works. He called it an “epistle of straw,” and said that it was “flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture” (see http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ325.HTM), which Luther believed contained a call for salvation through faith alone.
However, James is not the only biblical book which teaches that salvation depends on works; in fact, there are others that teach it even more explicitly. To show this, a brief digression on evangelical beliefs is required.
Christian evangelicals believe that God is the epitome of justice, righteousness and holiness, and therefore he cannot tolerate any sin (which is the opposite of these characteristics) whatsoever in his presence. By his nature, God is bound to send all sin to Hell. However, evangelicals believe that humans are inherently sinful creatures, unable to prevent ourselves from committing the acts that God cannot abide. This places us in a dilemma, they believe, since it means that none of us can attain Heaven by our own efforts. If God were to judge us on our deeds alone, everyone would go to Hell. The only solution, they conclude, is the blood of Jesus Christ, which “covers up” our sin and allows God to forgive us and let us into Heaven. Again: Were we judged purely by our actions, we would all be damned, and God would be fully justified in pronouncing such a fate upon us.
In light of this belief, it must be quite shocking for evangelical Christians to open the book of 2 Corinthians and read the following:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
—2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV)
Under a theology in which enough good deeds can outweigh a person’s evil deeds and gain them access to Heaven, this verse makes perfect sense. Under the evangelical theology of innate depravity, what this verse is telling us is that everyone who has ever lived or will ever live is condemned to eternal damnation, because if we receive “what is due us” for the things we have done, that is the inevitable result. The point of evangelical Christian theology is precisely that by accepting Jesus, a person will not receive what they justly deserve, but that God will forgive that person by his divine grace.
Other verses, some spoken by Jesus himself, confirm that our eternal fate will be decided based on our deeds in this life:
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
—Matthew 16:27 (KJV)
“And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
—John 5:29 (KJV)
“[God] will render to every man according to his deeds, to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life….”
—Romans 2:6,7 (KJV)
All these verses say the same thing – that at the time of judgment we will be punished or rewarded as our deeds deserve, that those who have done evil will be damned, and those who have done good will be saved. Jesus in the Gospels of John and Matthew says that those who have done evil (again, in the evangelical worldview, this means everyone) will be damned, and those who have done good (in the evangelical view, no one) will be glorified. Paul in Romans says that God will reward with eternal life those who seek it “by patient continuance in well doing”. These verses are clear: We will be judged by both our faith and our works. There is no other conclusion to be drawn.
The five key points of the predestinationist Christian sect called Calvinism can be summed up with the acronym “TULIP”:
- Total Depravity: Man is evil, sinful, utterly lost. Humanity is so depraved that no person can come to desire God and salvation of his own free will.
- Unconditional Election: Despite humanity’s sinfulness, God chooses some humans to be saved by his mercy. This choice is not made on the basis of any merit or redeeming quality in the individual so chosen, but (apparently) at random.
- Limited Atonement: Only those who are chosen by God receive the saving benefit of Jesus’ blood.
- Irresistible Grace: When God chooses an individual for salvation, there is nothing an individual can do to resist or deny this election. He has no choice but to be saved.
- Preservation: God’s salvation, once granted, cannot be lost or withdrawn; an individual is “once saved, always saved”.
There seems to be little that is Biblically objectionable about this doctrine; indeed, it is simply the theology of evangelical Christianity carried to its logical extreme. However, the dependence is in the other direction: Calvinism came first. Though today it is rare (though not absent: for example, the virulently hateful and homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, among others, is Calvinist), in past ages it was more popular; the Puritans who were largely responsible for the founding of America were Calvinists also. The opposite view, that an individual can bring about their own salvation as the result of conscious choice on their part (a doctrine called Arminianism) did not become popular in America until the religious revival period that followed the Revolutionary War.
Calvinism is rare today, probably due in part to the perception that a God who would condemn a person to eternal torment purely because that person is one of the ones whom God has decided to condemn to eternal torment, makes God out to be cruel, sadistic and unjust. This perception is correct. Nevertheless, the doctrine of predestination has abundant Biblical support.
“According as [Christ] hath chosen [Greek eklegomai, to pick out, to choose] us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated [Greek proorizo, to predetermine, to decree, to foreordain, to decide beforehand] us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will….”
—Ephesians 1:4,5 (KJV)
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw [Greek helkuo, to drag off, to lead, to impel] him….”
—John 6:44 (KJV)
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained [Greek tasso, to appoint, to ordain, to order] to eternal life believed.”
—Acts 13:48 (KJV)
“For many are called, but few are chosen [Greek eklektos, picked out, chosen by God].”
—Matthew 22:14 (KJV)
“For it stands in scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,’ and ‘A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall’; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined [Greek tithemi, to set forth, fix, establish, ordain] to do.”
—1 Peter 2:6-8 (RSV)
“For whom [God] did foreknow, he also did predestinate [proorizo] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? …. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”
—Romans 8:29-33 (KJV, emphasis added)
“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this day.” —Romans 11:7,8 (KJV)
“Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in him; it was that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe. For Isaiah again said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’” —John 12:37-40 (RSV)
“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
—Romans 9:14-24 (KJV, emphasis added)
The standard Arminian reply to predestinationist arguments is that God does not actually choose who will and will not be saved, but that in his omniscience he knows ahead of time who will freely choose him, and that these people are the “elect”. The above verses annihilate that argument. As the Greek translations show in each case, these verses speak of God’s predestination, of his decision (not his foreknowledge) beforehand, of his dragging or impelling people to come to him, of his appointing, or ordaining, or picking out, some for eternal life. John 12 and Romans 11 say specifically that God has prevented people from coming to him, by hardening their hearts and giving them “eyes [so] that they should not see” and “ears [so] that they should not hear” – they were “blinded”, and were “destined”, as 1 Peter says, to disobey and stumble. The verses from Romans 8 say that God predestinated people in addition to his foreknowledge, irrefutably demonstrating that the two are not one and the same. And Romans 9 is the most decisive of all.
If Arminian arguments were correct, these verses would have to have been phrased differently. The ones from Ephesians and Acts, for example, would have to have said “foreknew” rather than “predestinated” or “ordained” (Greek has a perfectly good word for this, prognosis). Matthew 22 should have said something like, “For many are called, but few choose to come.” And if predestination is false, verses such as the ones from Romans 9 or 11 should not even exist.
However, no verse better lays out the predestinationist position than the ones quoted from Romans chapter 9. Paul says flat-out that salvation “does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort,” but that “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden” (NIV). To be absolutely clear, Paul is saying that being saved has nothing to do with any desire or action on the part of any human. God has mercy on the people he wants to have mercy on, and those he does not want to have mercy on, he “hardens” them so they cannot or will not choose him (the example given is the Egyptian Pharaoh, who is indeed spoken of as having his heart “hardened” by God numerous times in Exodus).
The strongest proof that these verses are speaking of predestination comes next: Paul anticipates the obvious criticism of such a policy – that it is unfair for God to do this – and attempts to respond to it! His response is essentially, “God’s bigger than you so he can do whatever he wants,” but nevertheless. (The verses from Romans 8 say something very similar.)
Apologetics site the Christian Think Tank has offered an alternative interpretation for these verses, claiming that they should be rightfully seen as God’s selecting individuals for earthly tasks, not eternal destiny. This interpretation is a non-starter, unless the claim is that earthly behavior has no relation to eternal fate, because the “task” God “selected” for Pharaoh was to hold his chosen people in cruel slavery, and then, after being forced to let them go, to head out after them with an army determined to either re-enslave or massacre them, and finally to be drowned in the closing of the Red Sea in the course of that pursuit after having his heart “hardened” by God on numerous occasions. Does this sound like the kind of person who will end up in Heaven? This argument also does not adequately address verses such as the ones from John 12, Acts or 1 Peter, which specifically mention people being predestined to receive eternal life or disobey the Bible.
The Christian Think Tank also suggests that the main focus of this passage is on groups, rather than individuals, that are chosen for salvation or damnation. Since groups are made up of people, this makes no difference whatsoever, and in any event the specific reference to Pharaoh, an individual, again disproves this.
In conclusion, what do we have? We have a Bible whose writers apparently could not agree among themselves, a book that presents no fewer than four mutually contradictory paths to salvation, each of which is declared to be the only true one. They cannot all be correct. If salvation is by faith alone, it is not by faith and baptism; if it is by faith and baptism, it is not by faith and good works, and if it is any of these three, it is not by predestination. Throughout history, there have been and still are various Christian sects advocating in favor of all four of these possibilities. What is the source of this confusion?
Is it possible that it was only the epistle writers, God’s fallible human servants, who were confused? Unfortunately for Christians, it is not that easy, because each of the four possibilities is supported by direct quotes of Jesus from the gospels. Could Jesus Christ himself not make up his mind about how to be saved? Of course, the theological confusion among the epistle writers is understandable if their founder himself couldn’t get it straight – but this makes the problem even worse. Why did Jesus contradict himself on this most critical of all issues?
If he was the Son of God as he claimed to be, or even if he was simply a wise but human moral teacher, this is difficult to understand. However, it is easy to understand under the hypothesis that Jesus never actually existed, or at least that his sayings and deeds were greatly exaggerated, and that the various teachings attributed to him were merely words put into his mouth by contending factions of the early church, each of which wanted to claim divine support for its own particular viewpoint. The alternative is one extremely confused deity, one who not only could not make up his mind while on Earth, but is allowing the confusion to persist to this day, by failing to guide his scattered churches to the one true, originally intended answer.
But the existence of such a god seems highly unlikely, and belief in him pointless; and since Christians themselves insist they do not worship such a god, the conclusion is clear: the Bible is and has always been the work of human hands, guided by human minds. Given that the inevitability of death has always been one of the great fears of humanity, it is only natural that the writers and redactors of the Bible would invent comforting scenarios by which they could persuade themselves they would escape it; and given that there was no divine influence to guide their pens, it is entirely understandable why they would invent many different such scenarios – the human mind is a marvelously creative thing, and no two are alike.
Nevertheless, though these ideas may provide comfort, that does not make them true. Beliefs in a pleasant afterlife may once have reassured humans living in less advanced and more superstitious times, but as a species, we now have the wisdom and maturity to set them aside and face reality as it is. Life on this Earth offers us wonder and beauty enough that we no longer need dreams of a Heaven, and our time here is too short and precious to spend it chasing after one. Instead of looking forward to another life, we should spend our time improving this one for all humanity – that is the meaning of atheism.
• Some Biblical Contradictions on the Issue of Faith vs. Works: This short article outlines three contradictions regarding the conflict within the Bible over whether faith alone is sufficient for salvation or whether good works are also required.