Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-387) vs. “Faith Alone”

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-387) vs. “Faith Alone” May 1, 2024

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[relevant sections from my book,  The Quotable Eastern Church Fathers: Distinctively Catholic Elements in Their Theology(July 2013, 303 pages; the back cover — Hagia Sophia in ancient Constantinople — is pictured above). To verify sources (standard Schaff edition of the Fathers), see the St. Cyril of Jerusalem section on the New Advent web page, “The Fathers of the Church”]


Baptism and Being “Born Again”

It is not I that say this, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power in this matter: for He saith, Except a man be born anew (and He adds the words) of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. . . . Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; in order that, the soul having been born again by faith, the body also might by the water partake of the grace. (Third Catechetical Lecture, 4; NPNF2-7)

And at the self-same moment ye were both dying and being born;  . . . (Twentieth Catechetical Lecture, 4; NPNF2-7)

Baptism and Justification / Sanctification

For since man is of twofold nature, soul and body, the purification also is twofold, the one incorporeal for the incorporeal part, and the other bodily for the body: the water cleanses the body, and the Spirit seals the soul; that we may draw near unto God, having our heart sprinkled by the Spirit, and our body washed with pure water. . . . Having gone down dead in sins, thou comest up quickened in righteousness. (Third Catechetical Lecture, 4 and 12; NPNF2-7)

Baptism and Salvation

Great is the Baptism that lies before you a ransom to captives; a remission of offences; a death of sin; a new-birth of the soul; a garment of light; a holy indissoluble seal; a chariot to heaven; the delight of Paradise; a welcome into the kingdom; the gift of adoption! But there is a serpent by the wayside watching those who pass by: beware lest he bite thee with unbelief. He sees so many receiving salvation, and is seeking whom he may devour. (Procatechesis for the Catechetical Lectures, 16; NPNF2-7)

When going down, therefore, into the water, think not of the bare element, but look for salvation by the power of the Holy Ghost: for without both thou canst not possibly be made perfect. . . . If any man receive not Baptism, he hath not salvation; . . . (Third Catechetical Lecture, 4 and 10; NPNF2-7)

. . . that having lived the rest of thy life in the flesh in soberness and godly doctrine, thou mayest enjoy the one salvation which flows from Baptism; . . . (Fourth Catechetical Lecture, 37; NPNF2-7)

. . . that Water of salvation was at once your grave and your mother. (Twentieth Catechetical Lecture, 4; NPNF2-7)

Baptismal Regeneration

If any here is a slave of sin, let him promptly prepare himself through faith for the new birth into freedom and adoption; and having put off the miserable bondage of his sins, and taken on him the most blessed bondage of the Lord, so may he be counted worthy to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Put off, by confession, the old man, which waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit, that ye may put on the new man, which is renewed according to knowledge of Him that created him. Get you the earnest of the Holy Spirit through faith, that ye may be able to be received into the everlasting habitations. Come for the mystical Seal, that ye may be easily recognised by the Master; be ye numbered among the holy and spiritual flock of Christ, to be set apart on His right hand, and inherit the life prepared for you. For they to whom the rough garment of their sins still clings are found on the left hand, because they came not to the grace of God which is given through Christ at the new birth of Baptism: new birth I mean not of bodies, but the spiritual new birth of the soul. (First Catechetical Lecture, 2; NPNF2-7)

For as Jesus took upon Him the sins of the world, and died, that by putting sin to death He might rise again in righteousness; so thou by going down into the water, and being in a manner buried in the waters, as He was in the rock, art raised again walking in newness of life. (Third Catechetical Lecture, 12; NPNF2-7)

. . . divine and life-giving Baptism . . . (Nineteenth Catechetical Lecture, 1; NPNF2-7)

Faith and Works

Let us therefore bear fruit worthily. God forbid that in us should be done what befell that barren fig-tree, that Jesus come not even now and curse us for our barrenness. But may all be able to use that other saying, But I am like a fruitful olive-tree in the house of God: I have trusted in the mercy of God for ever,—an olive-tree not to be perceived by sense, but by the mind, and full of light. As then it is His part to plant and to water, so it is thine to bear fruit: it is God’s to grant grace, but thine to receive and guard it. (First Catechetical Lecture, 4; NPNF2-7)

For the method of godliness consists of these two things, pious doctrines, and virtuous practice: and neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works, nor does God accept the works which are not perfected with pious doctrines. (Fourth Catechetical Lecture, 2; NPNF2-7)

There is much to tell of faith, and the whole day would not be time sufficient for us to describe it fully. At present let us be content with Abraham only, as one of the examples from the Old Testament, seeing that we have been made his sons through faith. He was justified not only by works, but also by faith: for though he did many things well, yet he was never called the friend of God, except when he believed. Moreover, his every work was performed in faith. (Fifth Catechetical Lecture, 5; NPNF2-7)

Salvation and Works

. . . when thou repentest shall He not give thee the remission of sins, and the kingdom of heaven, if thou live a worthy life? (Second Catechetical Lecture, 19; NPNF2-7)

. . . for the time to come ye must behave yourselves worthily of this grace both in words and deeds, that you may all be enabled to enjoy the life everlasting. (Eighteenth Catechetical Lecture, 33; NPNF2-7)

Salvation, Instant (Falsity of)

Guard thine own soul, that thou be not ensnared, to the end that abiding in hope thou mayest become an heir of everlasting salvation. (CJ, Procatechesis for the Catechetical Lectures, 16; NPNF2-7)



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Summary: I compile writings from St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-387): expressing his opposition to the novel Protestant 16th century innovation of “faith alone” (aka sola fide).

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