Debate Forum (CDF) made by Bob Jaffray there, I post it
here as well as the original posting which can be found by
Jimmy Akin has an article on sola fide and his perception of the
Catholic teaching on this subject. Let us look at that site and
engage the discussion. Mr. Jaffray states that no Catholic has
been willing to engage him on this subject. I find that rather
hard to believe, and have searched the archives here on CDF
where he claims to have made this challenge "several times"
and I have come up empty. I did find a FEW passing comments
regarding Mr. Akin - but none which specifically dealt with the
subject of sola fide and/or included a link to Mr. Akin's site so
that we even COULD engage the discussion. If such a post
from Mr. Jaffray does indeed exist on CDF, I would like to see
Rather than wait for documentation from Mr. Jaffray (which
almost never - if ever materializes) here is the link to Jimmy
Akin's article on sola fide:
And below I will interact with Mr. Akin's article. For clarity I
will put Mr. Akin's words in blue and preface them with a ">"
Justification by Faith Alone>
> by James Akin
> Many Protestants today realize that Catholics adhere to the
> idea of salvation sola gratia (by grace alone),
Mr. Jaffray, are you among those who realize that Catholics
adhere to the idea of salvation sola gratia (by grace alone)?
> but fewer are aware that Catholics also do not have to
> condemn the formula of justification sola fide (by faith alone),
> provided this phrase is properly understood.
I too have said this in the past. However, as Protestantism
understands the terminology - it is heresy. Also, if we go
by a "straightforward reading" of Scripture - the ONLY place
the words "faith" and "alone" are used together in the same
sentence is James 2:24 and it is in NEGATION of faith
> The term pistis is used in the Bible in a number of different
> senses, ranging from intellectual belief (Romans 14:22, 23,
> James 2:19), to assurance (Acts 17:31), and even to
> trustworthiness or reliability (Romans 3:3, Titus 2:10). Of
> key importance is Galatians 5:6, which refers to "faith
> working by charity." In Catholic theology, this is what is
> known as fide formata or "faith formed by charity." The
> alternative to formed faith is fide informis or "faith unformed
> by charity." This is the kind of faith described in James 2:19,
> for example.
In other words - there are many ways to look at the word "faith"
in Scripture - not just one. Mr. Akin would then appear to be
positing that the kind of faith which MAY be applicable to sola
fide is not an "alone faith" but one which is WORKING through
CHARITY, per the Galatians 5:6 reference. Mr. Akin continues
this thought process...
> Whether a Catholic will condemn the idea of justification by
> faith alone depends on what sense the term "faith" is being
> used in.
Which is precisely my point as well.
> If it is being used to refer to unformed faith then a Catholic
> rejects the idea of justification by faith alone (which is the
> point James is making in James 2:19, as every
> non-antinomian Evangelical agrees; one is not justified by
> intellectual belief alone).
> However, if the term "faith" is being used to refer to faith
> formed by charity then the Catholic does not have to condemn
> the idea of justification by faith alone. In fact, in traditional
> works of Catholic theology, one regularly encounters the
> statement that formed faith is justifying faith. If one has
> formed faith, one is justified. Period.
My problem, however, is to embrace terminology invented by
the Protestants who came up with this terminology in direct
opposition to the Catholic Church. Perhaps Mr. Akin makes
this argument in a "spirit of ecumenism" - but in my humble
opinion, it would be a false ecumenism, for we truly do NOT
adhere to nor embrace what the Protestants embraced when
they invented the terminology.
> A Catholic would thus reject the idea of justification sola
> fide informi but wholeheartedly embrace the idea of
> justification sola fide formata. Adding the word "formed" to
> clarify the nature of the faith in "sola fide" renders the
> doctrine completely acceptable to a Catholic.
And therein lies the rub - Protestants who embrace sola fide
would not permit the "addition" of the word "formed" (or
formata) to one of their pillars of the so-called reformation.
> Why, then, do Catholics not use the ther (word?) in this
> regard, we would have to say, "Jesus is not God." Obviously,
> the Church could not have people running around saying
> "Jesus is God" and "Jesus is not God," though both would
> be perfectly consistent with the Trinity depending on how
> the term "God" is being used (i.e., as a noun or a proper
> name for the Father). Hopeless confusion (and charges of
> heresy, and bloodbaths) would have resulted in the early
> centuries if the Church did not specify the meaning of the
> term "God" when used in this context.
> Of course, the Bible uses the term "God" in both senses,
> but to avoid confusion (and heretical misunderstandings on
> the part of the faithful, who could incline to either Arianism
> or Modalism if they misread the word "God" in the above
> statements) it later became necessary to adopt one usage
> over the other when discussing the identity of Jesus.
With all due respect to Mr. Akin here, I do not accept this
logic. Jesus IS God, and "God" is not merely a proper
noun/name for the Father. God the Father is not God the
Son, and neither are God the Holy Ghost - but ALL THREE
are God. It would NEVER be a proper Catholic argument
to say Jesus is not God. In every sense that the Father is
God, so is the Son and so is the Holy Ghost.
> A similar phenomenon occurs in connection with the word
> "faith." Evangelical leaders know this by personal experience
> since they have to continually fight against antinomian
> understandings of the term "faith" (and the corresponding
> antinomian evangelistic practices and false conversions that
> result). Because "faith" is such a key term, it is necessary
> that each theological school have a fixed usage of it in
> practice, even though there is more than one use of the term
> in the Bible. Evangelical leaders, in response to the
> antinomianism that has washed over the American church
> scene in the last hundred and fifty years, are attempting to
> impose a uniform usage to the term "faith" in their community
> to prevent these problems. (And may they have good luck in
> this, by the way.)
Before we proceed, for those who do not know the terminology,
we should define "antinomianism." Literally the word breaks
down as follows: anti = against nomos = law, thus the
Antinomians are "against the (moral) law." They hold to a
radical, yet logical, conclusion of the statement on sola fide,
and that being that good works do not promote salvation nor
do evil works hinder it (see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01564b.htm
for a more in depth discussion of this topic).
> This leads me to why Catholics do not use the formula "faith
> alone." Given the different usages of the term "faith" in the
> Bible, the early Church had to decide which meaning would
> be treated as normative. Would it be the Galatians 5 sense
> or the Romans 14/James 2 sense? The Church opted for the
> latter for several reasons:
> First, the Romans 14 sense of the term pistis is frankly the
> more common in the New Testament. It is much harder to
> think of passages which demand that pistis mean "faith
> formed by charity" than it is to think of passages which
> demand that pistis mean "intellectual belief." In fact, even in
> Galatians 5:6 itself, Paul has to specify that it is faith formed
> by charity that he is talking about, suggesting that this is not
> the normal use of the term in his day.
> Second, the New Testament regularly (forty-two times in the
> KJV) speaks of "the faith," meaning a body of theological
> beliefs (e.g. Jude 3). The connection between pistis and
> intellectual belief is clearly very strong in this usage.
> Third, Catholic theology has focused on the triad of faith,
> hope, and charity, which Paul lays great stress on and
> which is found throughout his writings, not just in
> 1 Corinthians 13:13 (though that is the locus classicus for
> it), including places where it is not obvious because of the
> English translation or the division of verses. If in this triad
> "faith" is taken to mean "formed faith" then hope and
> charity are collapsed into faith and the triad is flattened.
> To preserve the distinctiveness of each member of the triad,
> the Church chose to use the term "faith" in a way that did
> not include within it the ideas of hope (trust) and charity
> (love). Only by doing this could the members of the triad be
> kept from collapsing into one another.
> Thus the Catholic Church normally expresses the core
> essences of these virtues like this:
> Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God
> and believe all that he has said and revealed to us . . .
> because he is truth itself. (CCC 1814)
> Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the
> kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness,
> placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on
> our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the
> Holy Spirit. (CCC 1817)
> Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God
> above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as
> ourselves for the love of God. (CCC 1822)
> In common Catholic usage, faith is thus unconditional
> belief in what God says, hope is unconditional trust in
> God, and charity is unconditional love for God. When
> we are justified, God places all three of these virtues in
> our hearts. These virtues are given to each of the justified,
> even though our outward actions do not always reflect
> them because of the fallen nature we still possess.
> Thus a person may still have the virtue of faith even if
> momentarily tempted by doubt, a person may still have
> the virtue of trust even if scared or tempted by despair,
> and a person may still have the virtue of charity even if
> he is often selfish. Only a direct, grave violation (mortal
> sin against) of one of the virtues destroys the virtue.
I did not interject for a while here because I wanted Mr. Akin's
point to be contextually made. In short, though he's making
an argument where a Catholic could accept a properly
defined concept of sola fide - he's defined his way right out
of the "sola" of sola fide! Mr. Akin's argument (which is, the
Catholic and scriptural argument) is in reality that we are
justified by faith, hope AND charity - and NOT by faith alone!
> As our sanctification progresses, these virtues within us
> are strengthened by God and we are able to more easily
> exercise faith, more easily exercise trust, and more easily
> exercise love. Performing acts of faith, hope, and charity
> becomes easier as we grow in the Christian life (note the
> great difficulty new converts often experience in these
> areas compared to those who have attained a measure of
> spiritual maturity).
Again I emphasize, Mr. Akin is NOT preaching faith ALONE
here, but faith, hope and charity.
> However, so long as one has any measure of faith, hope,
> and charity, one is in a state of justification. Thus
> Catholics often use the soteriological slogan that we are
> "saved by faith, hope, and charity." This does not disagree
> with the Protestant soteriological slogan that we are "saved
> by faith alone" if the term "faith" is understood in the latter
> to be faith formed by charity or Galatians 5 faith.
I would like to see a proponent of sola fide accept Mr. Akin's
conditional soteriological statement of sola fide. It has been
my experience that once we start putting "conditions" on it,
they will reject it as no longer "sola" fide.
> One will note, in the definitions of the virtues offered above,
> the similarity between hope and the way Protestants
> normally define "faith"; that is, as an unconditional "placing
> our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own
> strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit."
> The definition Protestants normally give to "faith" is the
> definition Catholics use for "hope."
> However, the Protestant idea of faith by no means excludes
> what Catholics refer to as faith, since every Evangelical
> would (or should) say that a person with saving faith will
> believe whatever God says because God is absolutely
> truthful and incapable of making an error. Thus the
> Protestant concept of faith normally includes both the
> Catholic concept of faith and the Catholic concept of hope.
In other words, faith is not alone. Protestants must combine
two Catholic concepts (which existed before there ever was
a Protestant) to make one concept which they would call the
"faith" of sola fide. In short, they must play a word game and
Catholics really should have no part of this. We should insist
upon the traditional and scriptural view we have ALWAYS
held on to in this regard. To imply that we (Catholics and
Protestants) are really saying the same thing with different
words implies a unity which truly does not yet exist between
us. Again, I would be quite interested to see/hear an adherent
to sola fide actually accept what Mr. Akin says here. If they
do, then they have rejected faith alone, for what Mr. Akin has
presented is faith, hope AND charity are ALL THREE
necessary for justification. It would seem to me to be outright
deceptive to say the concept of sola fide includes hope and
charity - for now faith is not alone, and that is what "sola fide"
> Thus if a Protestant further specifies that saving faith is a
> faith which "works by charity" then the two soteriological
> slogans become equivalents. The reason is that a faith which
> works by charity is a faith which produces acts of love. But a
> faith which produces acts of love is a faith which includes the
> virtue of charity, the virtue of charity is the thing that enables
> us to perform acts of supernatural love in the first place. So a
> Protestant who says saving faith is a faith which works by
> charity, as per Galatians 5:6, is saying the same thing as a
> Catholic when a Catholic says that we are saved by faith,
> hope, and charity.
And again, if it is faith, hope AND charity - it is no longer faith
ALONE, and the concept of "sola fide" is null and void, no
matter how many word games we try to play to try and force
a unity between Catholics and Protestants. I might add, for
the same reason I don't play the word game over sola fide, I
do not play the same game with those who claim they are
not Protestants, while they stand there in "protest" of what
the Catholic Church teaches. I add this point because I
know there are some "Evangelicals" out there who are saying,
"I'm not a Protestant." That's another discussion for a later
time, but I wanted to make the point that I am consistent when
it comes to these word games.
> We may put the relationship between the two concepts as follows:
> Protestant idea of faith = Catholic idea of faith
> + Catholic idea of hope + Catholic idea of charity
In other words, a word game. My mentor and godfather always
told me, "words mean things," and that's a point I cannot forget.
So long as "words mean things" we cannot accept a watered
down concept of "sola fide" really meaning what Catholics have
said all along. IF it is as Catholics have taught all along, then
let's be honest about it - and drop this Protestant invention of
> The three theological virtues of Catholic theology are thus
> summed up in the (good) Protestant's idea of the virtue of faith.
> And the Protestant slogan "salvation by faith alone" becomes
> the Catholic slogan "salvation by faith, hope, and charity (alone)."
He's repeating himself, I believe I've made my point here.
> This was recognized a few years ago in The Church's Confession
> of Faith: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, put out by the German
> Conference of Bishops, which stated:
> Catholic doctrine . . . says that only a faith alive in graciously
> bestowed love can justify. Having "mere" faith without love, merely
> considering something true, does not justify us. But if one
> understands faith in the full and comprehensive biblical sense,
> then faith includes conversion, hope, and love good Catholic
> sense. According to Catholic doctrine, faith encompasses both
> trusting in God on the basis of his mercifulness proved in Jesus
> Christ and confessing the salvific work of God through Jesus
> Christ in the Holy Spirit. Yet this faith is never alone. It includes
> other acts
And this is exactly what I am saying! "(T)his faith is never alone.
It includes other acts!"
> The same thing was recognized in a document written a few
> years ago under the auspices of the (Catholic) German
> Conference of Bishops and the bishops of the Council of the
> Evangelical Church in Germany (the Lutheran church). The
> purpose of the document, titled The Condemnations of the
> Reformation Era: Do They Still Divide?, was to determine
> which of the sixteenth-century Catholic and Protestant
> condemnations are still applicable to the other party. Thus
> the joint committee which drafted the document went over
> the condemnations from Trent and assessed which of them
> no longer applied to Lutherans and the condemnations of the
> Augsburg Confession and the Smalcald Articles, etc., and
> assesses which of them are not applicable to Catholics.
> When it came to the issue of justification by faith alone, the
> document concluded:
> "[T]oday the difference about our interpretation of faith is no
> longer a reason for mutual condemnation . . . even though in
> the Reformation period it was seen as a profound antithesis
> of ultimate and decisive force. By this we mean the
> confrontation between the formulas 'by faith alone,' on the
> one hand, and 'faith, hope, and love,' on the other.
> "We may follow Cardinal Willebrand and say: 'In Luther's
> sense the word 'faith' by no means intends to exclude either
> works or love or even hope. We may quite justly say that
> Luther's concept of faith, if we take it in its fullest sense,
> surely means nothing other than what we in the Catholic
> Church term love' (1970, at the General Assembly of the
> World Lutheran Federation in Evian).
> If we take all this to heart, we may say the following: If we
> translate from one language to another, then Protestant
> talk about justification through faith corresponds to Catholic
> talk about justification through grace; and on the other hand,
> Protestant doctrine understands substantially under the one
> word 'faith' what Catholic doctrine (following 1 Cor. 13:13)
> sums up in the triad of 'faith, hope, and love.' But in this
> case the mutual rejections in this question can be viewed as
> no longer applicable today
> "According to [Lutheran] Protestant interpretation, the faith
> that clings unconditionally to God's promise in Word and
> Sacrament is sufficient for righteousness before God, so that
> the renewal of the human being, without which there can be
> no faith, does not in itself make any contribution to justification.
> Catholic doctrine knows itself to be at one with the Protestant
> concern in emphasizing that the renewal of the human being
> does not 'contribute' to justification, and is certainly not a
> contribution to which he could make any appeal before God.
> Nevertheless it feels compelled to stress the renewal of the
> human being through justifying grace, for the sake of
> acknowledging God's newly creating power; although this
> renewal in faith, hope, and love is certainly nothing but a
> response to God's unfathomable grace. Only if we observe
> this distinction can we say
> "In addition to concluding that canons 9 and 12 of the Decree
> on Justification did not apply to modern Protestants, the
> document also concluded that canons 1-13, 16, 24, and 32
> do not apply to modern Protestants (or at least modern
> During the drafting of this document, the Protestant participants
> asked what kind of authority it would have in the Catholic
> Church, and the response given by Cardinal Ratzinger (who
> was the Catholic corresponding head of the joint commission)
> was that it would have considerable authority. The German
> Conference of Bishops is well-known in the Catholic Church for
> being very cautious and orthodox and thus the document would
> carry a great deal of weight even outside of Germany, where
> the Protestant Reformation started.
> Furthermore, the Catholic head of the joint commission was
> Ratzinger himself, who is also the head of the Congregation for
> the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, which is the body charged
> by the pope with protecting the purity of Catholic doctrine. Next
> to the pope himself, the head of the CDF is the man most
> responsible for protecting orthodox Catholic teaching, and the
> head of the CDF happened to be the Catholic official with
> ultimate oversight over the drafting of the document.
For those who do not know, then Cardinal Ratzinger is now His
Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.
> Before the joint commission met, Cardinal Ratzinger and
> Lutheran Bishop Eduard Lohse (head of the Lutheran church
> in Germany) issued a letter expressing the purpose of the
> document, stating:
> "[O]ur common witness is counteracted by judgments
> passed by one church on the other during the sixteenth
> century, judgments which found their way into the
> Confession of the Lutheran and Reformed churches and
> into the doctrinal decisions of the Council of Trent.
> According to the general conviction, these so-called
> condemnations no longer apply to our partner today. But
> this must not remain a merely private persuasion. It must
> be established in binding form."
> I say this as a preface to noting that the commission
> concluded that canon 9 of Trent's Decree on Justification
> is not applicable to modern Protestants (or at least those
> who say saving faith is Galatians 5 faith). This is important
> because canon 9 is the one dealing with the "faith alone"
> formula (and the one R.C. Sproul is continually hopping up
> and down about). It states:
> "If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, so
> as to understand that nothing else is required to cooperate
> in the attainment of the grace of justification . . . let him be
> The reason this is not applicable to modern Protestants is
> that Protestants (at least the good ones) do not hold the
> view being condemned in this canon.
"The good ones?" That terminology would seem to be a bit
offensive to both sides (Catholic and Protestant).
> Like all Catholic documents of the period, it uses the
> term "faith" in the sense of intellectual belief in whatever
> God says. Thus the position being condemned is the
> idea that we are justified by intellectual assent alone
> (as per James 2). We might rephrase the canon:
> "If anyone says that the sinner is justified by intellectual
> assent alone, so as to understand that nothing besides
> intellectual assent is required to cooperate in the
> attainment of the grace of justification . . . let him be
We start walking on thin ice when we start paraphrasing
the Council of Trent. The statement from Trent is "faith
alone" and it should remain such.
> And every non-antinomian Protestant would agree with
> this, since in addition to intellectual assent one must
> also repent, trust, etc.
> So Trent does not condemn the (better) Protestant
> understanding of faith alone. In fact, the canon allows
> the formula to be used so long as it is not used so as
> to understand that nothing besides intellectual assent
> is required. The canon only condemns "sola fide" if it
> is used "so as to understand that nothing else
> [besides intellectual assent] is required" to attain
> justification. Thus Trent is only condemning one
> interpretation of the sola fide formula and not the
> formula itself.
Again, I respectfully beg to differ. Trent condemned the
theology of "faith alone," period. When we start playing
with the words - we can get them to say anything we
would want them to say. A straight-forward reading of
the text from Trent is faith alone is condemned and any
Catholic who would hold this statement is anathema.
> I should mention at this point that I think Trent was
> absolutely right in what it did and that it phrased the
> canon in the perfect manner to be understood by the
> Catholic faithful of the time. The term "faith" had long
> been established as referring to intellectual assent, as
> per Romans 14:22-23, James 2:14-26, 1 Corinthians
> 13:13, etc., and thus everyday usage of the formula
> "faith alone" had to be squashed in the Catholic
> community because it would be understood to mean
> "intellectual assent alone"
Again, I respectfully beg to differ. The statement of "faith
alone" - as understood or used by the adherents to the
soteriological slogan of "sola fide" - does not include
anything added to faith. We do find the doublespeak of
the likes of RC Sproul, stating "it is faith alone, but not
a faith which is alone," and that - again - leaves us with
nothing more than word games or doublespeak.
> The Church could no more allow people to run around
> indiscriminately using the faith alone formula than
> other confusing formulas. While this formula can be
> given a perfectly orthodox meaning, that is not how it
> will be understood by the masses.
And again, this is and has been my point! Using the
terminology of "sola fide" has a different meaning to the
masses. For Catholics to embrace the Protestant slogan
would be confusing, to say the least, and since our God
is not a God of confusion - neither should His Church be.
Let us stand FIRM in the traditions we have been taught!
Let us not wilt to the "spirit of ecumenism" and compromise
our faith - or even have the appearance of compromising
our faith for the sake of (a false) ecumenism.
> There must be continuity in the language of the faithful
> or massive confusion will result.
And again, this is and has been my point!
> In fact, one can argue that the problem of antinomianism
> in Protestantism is a product of the attempt by the
> Reformers to change the established usage of the term
> "faith" to include more than intellectual assent. The
> English verb "believe" (derived from Old High German)
> and the English noun "faith" (derived from French and
> before that Latin) were both formed under the historic
> Christian usage of the term "faith" and thus they
> connote intellectual assent.
> This is a deeply rooted aspect of the English language,
> which is why Protestant evangelists have to labor so
> hard at explaining to the unchurched why "faith alone"
> does not mean "intellectual assent alone." They have
> to work so hard at this because they are bucking the
> existing use of the language; the Reformers effort to
> change the meanings of the terms "believe" and "faith"
> have not borne significant fruit outside of the Protestant
In short, Mr. Akin is again agreeing with the stance which
I have maintained throughout. Protestantism started playing
a "word game" and invented the slogan of "sola fide" - and in
choosing Latin (which was still the "standard" for educated
and literate individuals in the 16th century) they do more
harm to their position than good. The pertinent question is,
if this were such a foundational teaching - why do NONE of
the Latin Early Church Fathers use this Latin phrase? Why
is it that the ONLY place in Scripture where the words "faith"
and "alone" are used together is in James 2:24 and the
statement is a DENIAL of faith alone? The conclusion here
is rather simple - for the objective reader, that is.
> This is also the reason Evangelical preaching often
> tragically slips into antinomianism. The historic meaning of
> the terms "believe" and "faith," which are still the
> established meanings outside the Protestant community,
> tend to reassert themselves in the Protestant community
> when people aren't paying attention, and antinomianism
> This reflects one of the tragedies of the Reformation. If the
> Reformers had not tried to overturn the existing usage of
> the term "faith" and had only specified it further to formed
> faith, if they had only adopted the slogan "iustificatio sola
> fide formata" instead of "iustificatio sola fide," then all of
> this could have been avoided. The Church would have
> embraced the formula,
So why would we now want to embrace the failed terminology
of the "Reformers?" Mr. Akin makes the point quite clearly
that Luther and those who followed, invented this terminology
in redefining the meaning of Justification. To ask the question
IF they had included "formata" in the statement really begs
the question in the first place!
> the split in Christendom might possibly have been avoided,
> and we would not have a problem with antinomianism today.
Well, there was more going on in the 16th century than a
mere scrimmage between Rome and Luther. The German
princes were using Luther to help them separate from the
authority of Rome. If it weren't Luther and justification, it
would have been someone else shortly thereafter. Who
knows if the split would have been so "successful" (in the
worst sense of the word) but such speculation is really
meaningless - it happened the way it happened and today
we must deal with the consequences.
> So I agree a hundred percent with what Trent did.
As do I!
> The existing usage of the term "faith" in connection with
> justification could not be overturned any more than the
> existing usage of the term "God" in connection with
> Jesus' identity could be overturned.
Again, I am not crazy about the analogy Mr. Akin uses here,
but the point is - saving faith is not alone. A faith which is
alone is a "dead faith" and a "dead faith" cannot save you.
> What both communities need to do today, now that a
> different usage has been established in them, is learn to
> translate between each others languages. Protestants
> need to be taught that the Catholic formula "salvation by
> faith, hope, and charity" is equivalent to what they mean
> by "faith alone." And Catholics need to be taught that
> (at least for the non-antinomians) the Protestant formula
> "faith alone" is equivalent to what they mean by "faith,
> hope, and charity."
Again, I'd like to see how many Protestants would actually
agree with Mr. Akin's assertions here. I, for one Catholic,
do not agree. I do not believe that what Protestants believe
is sola fide is in agreement with what Catholics teach on
justification - not without playing word games, and as I
said earlier - and even Mr. Akin agrees to a point - such
melding of terminology can serve to confuse the masses.
> It would be nice if the two groups could reconverge on
> a single formula, but that would take centuries to develop,
> and only as a consequence of the two groups learning to
> translate each others' theological vocabularies first.
Why should we go an retranslate what we have ALWAYS
taught? We are not the ones who came up with this
invented terminology in the 16th century. No, there was
no "reformation" in the 16th century - the Protestants did
not "reform" they developed new churches and used new
terminology and new definitions of existing terms. True
ecumenism does not cave in to what is true and what is
right. True ecumenism might explain to THEM that if they
really examine their arguments - it is THEY who need to
COME BACK to US.
> Before a reconvergence of language could take place,
> the knowledge that the two formulas mean the same
> thing would first need to be as common as the knowledge
> that English people drive on the left-hand side of the road
> instead of on the right-hand side as Americans do. That is
> not going to happen any time soon, but for now we must
> do what we can in helping others to understand what the
> two sides are saying.
Again, IF they are not REALLY meaning anything different,
then let them CONVERT or REVERT back to the One, Holy,
Catholic and Apostolic Church! Let's not submit to their
word games. Let us remain firm in the traditions we were
> (Needless to say, this whole issue of translating theological
> vocabularies is very important to me since I have been both
> a committed Evangelical and a committed Catholic and thus
> have had to learn to translate the two vocabularies through
> arduous effort in reading theological dictionaries,
> encyclopedias, systematic theologies, and Church documents.
> So I feel like banging my head against a wall whenever I hear
> R.C. Sproul and others representing canon 9 as a manifest
> and blatant condemnation of Protestant doctrine, or even all
> Protestants, on this point.)
Well, I too have been an "Evangelical" - in fact, I was a Lutheran!
And when I converted, I did not make a statement that I accept
that what I had believed all along was the same thing that
Catholics teach - just with different definitions! No! I stood there
and RENOUNCED my former faith! I publicly declared that what
I once believed was ERROR and that I now embraced the One,
Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as THE Church which Jesus
Christ Himself built. Again, with all due respect, I believe it is
a serious error to embrace the 16th century errors as a simple
> The fact "faith" is normally used by Catholics to refer to
> intellectual assent (as in Romans 14:22-23, 1 Corinthians 13:13,
> and James 2:14-26) is one reason Catholics do not use the
> "faith alone" formula even though they agree with what (better)
> Protestants mean by it. The formula runs counter to the historic
> meaning of the term "faith."
EXACTLY! So let's not water down OUR FAITH for the sake
of appeasing those who "protest" against OUR FAITH!
> The other reason is that, frankly, the formula itself (though
> not what it is used to express) is flatly unbiblical. The phrase
> "faith alone" (Greek, pisteos monon), occurs exactly once in
> the Bible, and there it is rejected:
> "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
> (Jas. 2:24)"
Again, that has been the point I have been making all along! We
should stand firm in the biblical statement and boldly correct those
who wish to play word games and alter the plain reading of the
Scripture in James 2:24.
> Without going into the subject of what kind of justification is
> being discussed here (which is misunderstood by most
> Evangelical commentators on Catholicism, see below), the
> phrase "faith alone" is itself rejected. Even though Protestants
> can give the phrase orthodox theological content, the phrase
> itself is unbiblical. If we wish to conform our theological
> language to the language of the Bible, we need to conform
> our usage of the phrase "faith alone" to the use of that phrase
> in the Bible.
> Thus, if we are to conform our language to the language of the
> Bible, we need to reject usage of the formula "faith alone" while
> at the same time preaching that man is justified "by faith and
> not by works of the Law" (which Catholics can and should and
> must and do preach, as Protestants would know if they read
> Catholic literature). James 2:24 requires rejection of the first
> formula while Romans 3:28 requires the use of the second.
Again, that is EXACTLY what I have been saying all along! So,
in summary, Mr. Akin negates all the platitudes he offers in the
earlier part of his article! In the end - WE AGREE 100%! It
would be ERROR for us to embrace the terminology of the
Protestants! It would be, on the other hand, desireable for us
to teach them what we mean and show them that what they
must REALLY mean is in compliance with what we have been
teaching all along. If they remain insistent on the protest
language of the original Protestants - then they are just not
yet ready to convert.