I’m not from a Reformed background

And so many things that seem immensely compelling to Reformed people as arguments for or against the Catholic faith simply have no impact on me or else strike me as gigantically inconsequential. Perhaps pre-eminent among these arguments is the issue which a certain species of Protestant seems to think “the article upon which the Faith stands or falls”: salvation by “faith alone”. I’ve never met a living soul who really believes in salvation by faith alone. It’s a phrase that get hauled out of mothballs for arguments with Catholics, but as soon as the Catholics are gone, normal Protestants go right back to saying things like “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”, “Faith is a muscle. You have to exercise it” and “Faith without works is dead” and all the normal stuff that both Catholics and Protestants believe. I wrote a piece about this once. I think most “faith alone” jargon is a fine example of eupocrisy in that most Protestants really believe pretty much what Catholics do: that we are saved by the Father through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, by faith expressing itself in concrete works of love. Take anything out of that formula and you have less than the biblical picture. Most Protestants know and live this. So I don’t worry about the “faith alone” sloganeering so long as they don’t take it seriously. For an interesting take on how Reformed theology can be reconciled with Catholic thought, see my friend James Akin’s Tiptoe through TULIP.


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