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Is It Faith or Good Works (That Gets U Into Hvn)?

geekgrrl

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I'm not a Christian, but I've studied (somewhat) both the Roman Catholic and Protestant versions, and the one thing that is the fuzziest to me is the notion of "Good Works". As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong), Catholicism says you must do good works to get into heaven. Some of the Protestant religions I've looked at say, "No, you don't need good works. All you need to do is accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior." This is a big disconnect between two religions which basically follow the same leader (Jesus).

So how is "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior" the moral equivalent of doing good works? Or is it? I mean, suppose I say that I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior but everyone knows that I am a heinous criminal. I have no intention of stopping my criminal behavior. But I just have to publicly confess Jesus as my savior and zap, I'm saved, right? Maybe I'd be less scornful if I understood this whole thing better. I can see the Catholic viewpoint of requiring good works, because isn't that what Jesus taught? So where do the Protestant religions get from scripture that all you need is to say Jesus is my savior and you're free from all your sins?

Or do I seriously misunderstand all parts of this issue? I'm asking because I really want to know.
 

Montalban

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Faith without works is dead.

geekgrrl said:
I'm not a Christian, but I've studied (somewhat) both the Roman Catholic and Protestant versions
What about the others; the Orthodox, for example?
geekgrrl said:
, and the one thing that is the fuzziest to me is the notion of "Good Works". As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong), Catholicism says you must do good works to get into heaven. Some of the Protestant religions I've looked at say, "No, you don't need good works. All you need to do is accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior." This is a big disconnect between two religions which basically follow the same leader (Jesus).
All accept that one gets to heaven through God's grace. However you need to be an active participant in this, because God, although He wants all of us, accepts us only if we accept Him; in other words, if you choose to reject His gift, He will respect that choice. The exact formula of this for Orthodox; it is a mystery the union between a sovereign God and a free-choosing human.
You need to have faith in God, but as St. James (from memory) said, faith without works is dead.
For us we believe in becoming like Christ. We follow His example in order to become participants in this union with God.
geekgrrl said:
So how is "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior" the moral equivalent of doing good works? Or is it? I mean, suppose I say that I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior but everyone knows that I am a heinous criminal. I have no intention of stopping my criminal behaviour. But I just have to publicly confess Jesus as my savior and zap, I'm saved, right? Maybe I'd be less scornful if I understood this whole thing better. I can see the Catholic viewpoint of requiring good works, because isn't that what Jesus taught? So where do the Protestant religions get from scripture that all you need is to say Jesus is my savior and you're free from all your sins?

Or do I seriously misunderstand all parts of this issue? I'm asking because I really want to know.
Catholics and Protestants, so it seems to me, believe in legalistic ideas of the union between God and man. Jesus, they believe, came to us to save us, and pay a "Great Price" which is like a contract that we can sign onto or not. Protestants believe it takes a once-in-a-lifetime affirmation or declaration, whereas Catholics believe that to sign on it takes regular payments of following the sacraments etc (and leading a penitential life).

A problem with the Protestant view-point is it is novel (made up by Martin Luther some 1,500 years later), and it poses many more problems, such as 'Can someone become 'un-saved'?'

Orthodox believe that one needs to be 'spiritually healthy' to pray, to follow Jesus' example, and to be akin to Him (as best as we are able). So in this respect we believe in 'works', too. Jesus lived a sacramental life, and so did the Apostles, even after Christ had returned to heaven.
 

geekgrrl

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Actually, I confess I don't know *anything* about Orthodox religons. This is Eastern Orthodox? Russian Orthodox? Greek Orthodox? Are they all the same or all different? Sorry, I really don't know. I was raised Jewish. Or, actually to be more honest, I was raised in a Jewish family wherein I was sent to Sunday School (Jews had them, too) until one day, when I was about 7, I was with my father (Reform Judaism) when he and my uncle (Orthodox Judaism) went into the latter's Orthodox temple to pray. Some old men in prayer shawls and phylacteries grabbed me, threw me into a chair in front of a table and told me to read some books printed only in Hebrew (which I could not read). They forbade me from following my father and uncle into the sanctuary because, as they reminded me harshly, I was a female and therefore "unclean", and my presence would "defile" the holy of holies. From that instant on I abandoned all religion. I understood people's need for it, but it had done all the harm to me that I intended to allow it.

I am intensely curious about religion and why people believe what they do. I confess also that sometimes I have a hard time reining in my natural skepticism. Even if I have to bite my tongue at times, I respect people's right to believe as they please. I remind myself that *I* was badly burned by organized religion, *they* weren't.

When I was in college, I sometimes hung around the local Newman (Catholic) student center, and sometimes poked my nose into some of the local Protestant student outreach ministries. To study religion and its institutional expressions is to study how people deal with the problem of belief versus knowledge. But I always preferred to study from the outside looking in. I didn't ever want to get trapped in religion.

BTW, what does your sig mean in English? I recognize it as Gaelic. Myself, I'm interested in the Breton language (also Celtic, but a different branch of the tree).

"Fàilte dhut a Mhoire, tha thu lan de na gràsan; Tha an Tighearna maille riut."

From the Breton legend of la blanche hermine...

Kentoc'h mervel evet bezañ saotret. -- "Better dead than debased."
 

Montalban

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

geekgrrl said:
Actually, I confess I don't know *anything* about Orthodox religons. This is Eastern Orthodox? Russian Orthodox? Greek Orthodox? Are they all the same or all different? Sorry, I really don't know. I was raised Jewish. Or, actually to be more honest, I was raised in a Jewish family wherein I was sent to Sunday School (Jews had them, too) until one day, when I was about 7, I was with my father (Reform Judaism) when he and my uncle (Orthodox Judaism) went into the latter's Orthodox temple to pray. Some old men in prayer shawls and phylacteries grabbed me, threw me into a chair in front of a table and told me to read some books printed only in Hebrew (which I could not read). They forbade me from following my father and uncle into the sanctuary because, as they reminded me harshly, I was a female and therefore "unclean", and my presence would "defile" the holy of holies. From that instant on I abandoned all religion. I understood people's need for it, but it had done all the harm to me that I intended to allow it.
All Orthodox Christian groups; Russian, Greek, Antiochian, Serbian etc share a general set of beliefs that make us all "Orthodox"; and we are in communion with one another. We are divided on administrative lines because in effect, when the church moved into a new area, they eventually handed everything over to the locals, so that the local language is used. There are some historical anominalies, such as the fact that the Orthodox should have created the Orthodox Church in America, instead of having Greek, Russian and so on in the one nation.
We are, with some justifiable claim, the oldest church. Catholics argue we split from them, we argue the other way round happened.
geekgrrl said:
I am intensely curious about religion and why people believe what they do. I confess also that sometimes I have a hard time reining in my natural skepticism. Even if I have to bite my tongue at times, I respect people's right to believe as they please. I remind myself that *I* was badly burned by organized religion, *they* weren't.
We believe God calls to us all. That is what you're experienceing.
geekgrrl said:
BTW, what does your sig mean in English? I recognize it as Gaelic. Myself, I'm interested in the Breton language (also Celtic, but a different branch of the tree).

"Fàilte dhut a Mhoire, tha thu lan de na gràsan; Tha an Tighearna maille riut."
It's the beginning of the Hail Mary. It's
"Hail Mary (Moire), full of grace (grasan), the Lord is with you."
Gaelic 1.01
When you put an 'a' in front of a noun, in this case Moire, it becomes aspirated/softened, by taking a 'h' as the second letter. Thus Moire becomes a Mhoire. This change only happens with some words; some don't get aspirated. To add to the confusion this changes the pronounciation radically, because mh = v. So it goes from ah Moira to ah Voira. The 'a' itself I forget it's exact meaning but it has something to do with when you're talking to or about something. I stopped learning Gaelic ages ago, but I remember bits such as the numbers aon, do, tri etc (1, 2, 3) change when you're actually counting 1 to 10 to become a-haon, a do, a tri.

geekgrrl said:
From the Breton legend of la blanche hermine...

Kentoc'h mervel evet bezañ saotret. -- "Better dead than debased."
Go raibh maith agat (thank you).

The saints of the western church, including the Irish/Scots ones (and even the Welsh, Cornish, Breton etc) are all counted as Orthodox Saints, if they were saints before our churches split.
 

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geekgrrl said:
I'm not a Christian, but I've studied (somewhat) both the Roman Catholic and Protestant versions, and the one thing that is the fuzziest to me is the notion of "Good Works". As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong), Catholicism says you must do good works to get into heaven. Some of the Protestant religions I've looked at say, "No, you don't need good works. All you need to do is accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior." This is a big disconnect between two religions which basically follow the same leader (Jesus).
No, Catholics say if you have been baptised you will go to heaven. For the Catholic, baptism=salvation. The good works they perform are for personal merit and include confession, penance, fasting, prayer.

The disconnect happened when Martin Luther was studying in Romans and realized that we are saved by grace. "By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is a gift from God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Originally, Paul was addressing the Roman Jews who wanted to compel new Gentile believers to keep the Law. Paul said that keeping the Law (good works) does not save us. But God, in his grace (grace=gift of unmerited favor. A gift we have not earned or deserve) has allowed us to participate in Jesus' sacrifice through faith. Through Jesus, the penalty for sin has been paid and we are now able to live holy lives.

Martin understood all this the way Paul meant it... not the way the Catholic church had started teaching it. So Martin objected to the works the church was requiring of its members (since works does not save us) and started a revolution.

So how is "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior" the moral equivalent of doing good works? Or is it? I mean, suppose I say that I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior but everyone knows that I am a heinous criminal. I have no intention of stopping my criminal behavior. But I just have to publicly confess Jesus as my savior and zap, I'm saved, right? Maybe I'd be less scornful if I understood this whole thing better. I can see the Catholic viewpoint of requiring good works, because isn't that what Jesus taught? So where do the Protestant religions get from scripture that all you need is to say Jesus is my savior and you're free from all your sins?
I hope I've answered this with the above. But I'm happy to clarify.

Accepting Jesus is not "equal to," it's "instead of." And repentance is a part of that. Repent=turn 180 degress. To make a heart change. If you say with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" but don't mean it with your heart, you haven't accepted Christ. "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart" 1 Sam 16:7

The good works that Jesus "required" were service to others. That's what Protestants teach...minister to the sick, the needy and the poor.

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. James 2:14-26
 

Rev.

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Montalban said:
Catholics and Protestants, so it seems to me, believe in legalistic ideas of the union between God and man. Jesus, they believe, came to us to save us, and pay a "Great Price" which is like a contract that we can sign onto or not. Protestants believe it takes a once-in-a-lifetime affirmation or declaration, whereas Catholics believe that to sign on it takes regular payments of following the sacraments etc (and leading a penitential life).
Not entirely accurate. Catholics believe salvation and membership are attained at baptism. And many Protestants (including me) would contest the "once in a lifetime" part.

A problem with the Protestant view-point is it is novel (made up by Martin Luther some 1,500 years later), and it poses many more problems, such as 'Can someone become 'un-saved'?'
I don't think Martin made it up. I think he discovered what was there all along and nobody had understood...or it had once been understood but forgotten.

Orthodox believe that one needs to be 'spiritually healthy' to pray, to follow Jesus' example, and to be akin to Him (as best as we are able). So in this respect we believe in 'works', too. Jesus lived a sacramental life, and so did the Apostles, even after Christ had returned to heaven.
What are the Orthodox sacrements?
 

shh!

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geekgrrl said:
I'm not a Christian, but I've studied (somewhat) both the Roman Catholic and Protestant versions, and the one thing that is the fuzziest to me is the notion of "Good Works". As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong), Catholicism says you must do good works to get into heaven. Some of the Protestant religions I've looked at say, "No, you don't need good works. All you need to do is accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior." This is a big disconnect between two religions which basically follow the same leader (Jesus).

So how is "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior" the moral equivalent of doing good works? Or is it? I mean, suppose I say that I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior but everyone knows that I am a heinous criminal. I have no intention of stopping my criminal behavior. But I just have to publicly confess Jesus as my savior and zap, I'm saved, right? Maybe I'd be less scornful if I understood this whole thing better. I can see the Catholic viewpoint of requiring good works, because isn't that what Jesus taught? So where do the Protestant religions get from scripture that all you need is to say Jesus is my savior and you're free from all your sins?

Or do I seriously misunderstand all parts of this issue? I'm asking because I really want to know.
My understanding is that Christian-based religions are faith-based, meaning belief in Jesus is required and is ultimately more important than behavior. (A couple of the more liberal denominations of Christians say that belief in Jesus is not required, but other denominations of Christianity will deny they are Christians.) Christian apologists will sometimes say that "true" Christians will have a "conversion of the heart" or some other such notion and will be inspired to do good works due to their belief in Jesus.

By contrast, Judaism and Islam are law-based religions which emphasize behavior over belief. Belief is certainly siomething one should strive for, but lack of belief does relieve one of the obligation to follow mitzvot.
 

geekgrrl

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Rev. said:
Not entirely accurate. Catholics believe salvation and membership are attained at baptism. And many Protestants (including me) would contest the "once in a lifetime" part.
Again, I'm not really knowledgeable in this area, but, OK, you're baptized a Catholic. Then you've got, say, 70 or 80 some years to live your life and, as I understand Catholicism, if you don't die in a "state of grace", you aren't going to heaven (which is how I understand "salvation" - correct me if I'm wrong). So you've been baptized, which at the time leaves you in a state of grace, but in the meantime, you do things that get you out of that state of grace - mortal sins, I guess. So if you die that way, you're damned for all eternity, except that if you apologize for your sins before you expire you might be OK (or not). But now suppose I'm in a state of sin, and I'm on my deathbed. So I have a flash of Protestant enlightenment on my deathbed, confess Jesus as my savior, and I'm home free? Yes? No? Maybe?

All I'm saying is that it seems to me that Catholicism has very little "wiggle room" and Protestantism has a whole lot of it. Human nature, being lazy, looks for the easiest way. So which one is the easiest way? If God made us as we are, then surely he understands that we do indeed want the easiest way, right? :)
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

geekgrrl said:
Again, I'm not really knowledgeable in this area, but, OK, you're baptized a Catholic. Then you've got, say, 70 or 80 some years to live your life and, as I understand Catholicism, if you don't die in a "state of grace", you aren't going to heaven (which is how I understand "salvation" - correct me if I'm wrong). So you've been baptized, which at the time leaves you in a state of grace, but in the meantime, you do things that get you out of that state of grace - mortal sins, I guess. So if you die that way, you're damned for all eternity, except that if you apologize for your sins before you expire you might be OK (or not). But now suppose I'm in a state of sin, and I'm on my deathbed. So I have a flash of Protestant enlightenment on my deathbed, confess Jesus as my savior, and I'm home free? Yes? No? Maybe?
LOL!

If you are Catholic, just before you die you are given "last rites" aka "extreme unction" which is the last sacrament and therefore an administration of grace. This is SOOOOOO important, that in cases of emergency, lay Catholics are authorized to administer it (like if you are dying in a car wreck.)

Catholics count two kinds of sin: mortal sin and venial sin. Mortal sins are the bad ones--murder, adultery, stealing. Venial sins are mild ones like telling Aunt Gerta you really love the hot pink sweater she knit you for Christmas. If you are baptised Catholic, your sins won't send you to hell. They will send you to Pergatory. In Pergatory, you have a chance to perform additional penenances, or have penances performed for you by the living. Nobody goes straight to heaven. Everyone (except Saints) make a pit stop in Pergatory. How long you stay depends on how many sins you have racked up.

Protestants and unbaptised babies go to Limbo for all eternity. Everyone else goes to hell.

From the Protestnat view, salvation occurs with a profession of faith. Baptism is a symbol of our death to self and resurrection into New Life. "Works" for the Protestant are mostly service oriented. There is very little "ritual" for the Protestants. The only two sacrements are baptism and Communion. If you make a confession of faith (and its for real) with your dying breath, you will go to heaven.

All I'm saying is that it seems to me that Catholicism has very little "wiggle room" and Protestantism has a whole lot of it. Human nature, being lazy, looks for the easiest way. So which one is the easiest way? If God made us as we are, then surely he understands that we do indeed want the easiest way, right? :)
Personally, I think Catholicism is easier. But it's harder to gain membership. Protestants have easy membership, but look for evidence of "fruit" and have expectations of a moral lifestyle.

I don't think it's laziness that keeps people from a life of faith. I think it's selfishness. I like what I like and I want to keep doing as much of it as I can KWIM?
 

geekgrrl

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Rev. said:
No, Catholics say if you have been baptised you will go to heaven. For the Catholic, baptism=salvation. The good works they perform are for personal merit and include confession, penance, fasting, prayer.

The disconnect happened when Martin Luther was studying in Romans and realized that we are saved by grace. "By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is a gift from God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Originally, Paul was addressing the Roman Jews who wanted to compel new Gentile believers to keep the Law. Paul said that keeping the Law (good works) does not save us. But God, in his grace (grace=gift of unmerited favor. A gift we have not earned or deserve) has allowed us to participate in Jesus' sacrifice through faith. Through Jesus, the penalty for sin has been paid and we are now able to live holy lives.

Martin understood all this the way Paul meant it... not the way the Catholic church had started teaching it. So Martin objected to the works the church was requiring of its members (since works does not save us) and started a revolution.

I hope I've answered this with the above. But I'm happy to clarify.

Accepting Jesus is not "equal to," it's "instead of." And repentance is a part of that. Repent=turn 180 degress. To make a heart change. If you say with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" but don't mean it with your heart, you haven't accepted Christ. "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart" 1 Sam 16:7

The good works that Jesus "required" were service to others. That's what Protestants teach...minister to the sick, the needy and the poor.
Thanks for the extensive effort you put into your explanation, Rev!

A question, though. If this is true: "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." then how does anyone know what God is really thinking at any given time about any given person? I know people who think God has blessed them when life is all blue skies and green lights, and that God has cursed them when things don't go their way. If the events of our lives are not signs from God, and this quoted statement is true, then how do we know what our standing is with God at any given instant?

To put it differently, Deists (my personal inclination, if I have any at all) believe that what we call "God" is actually an impersonal Prime Mover and does not take a personal interest in individual lives (and, by extension, is generally useless as a sugar daddy or granter of prayers). In this case, looking at the events of our lives tells us nothing about God. But if God is not the Deistic version and is indeed personally concerned about us, but we are incapable of seeing our situation as he sees it, then how can we know whether we are in a "state of grace" or "saved" (looking through both Catholic and Protestant eyes) at any moment, except through the events of our lives?

So, if we can't see ourselves as God sees us, it follows (to me, at least) that our only indicator of God's favor or disfavor is whether good or bad things predominate in our lives. Yes? No?
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Montalban said:
All Orthodox Christian groups; Russian, Greek, Antiochian, Serbian etc share a general set of beliefs that make us all "Orthodox"; and we are in communion with one another. We are divided on administrative lines because in effect, when the church moved into a new area, they eventually handed everything over to the locals, so that the local language is used. There are some historical anominalies, such as the fact that the Orthodox should have created the Orthodox Church in America, instead of having Greek, Russian and so on in the one nation.
We are, with some justifiable claim, the oldest church. Catholics argue we split from them, we argue the other way round happened.

We believe God calls to us all. That is what you're experienceing.

It's the beginning of the Hail Mary. It's
"Hail Mary (Moire), full of grace (grasan), the Lord is with you."
Gaelic 1.01
When you put an 'a' in front of a noun, in this case Moire, it becomes aspirated/softened, by taking a 'h' as the second letter. Thus Moire becomes a Mhoire. This change only happens with some words; some don't get aspirated. To add to the confusion this changes the pronounciation radically, because mh = v. So it goes from ah Moira to ah Voira. The 'a' itself I forget it's exact meaning but it has something to do with when you're talking to or about something. I stopped learning Gaelic ages ago, but I remember bits such as the numbers aon, do, tri etc (1, 2, 3) change when you're actually counting 1 to 10 to become a-haon, a do, a tri.


Go raibh maith agat (thank you).

The saints of the western church, including the Irish/Scots ones (and even the Welsh, Cornish, Breton etc) are all counted as Orthodox Saints, if they were saints before our churches split.
The Breton undergoes leading consonantal changes as well, depending on the terminal letter of the preceding work, but I am not sure yet of how all this works. It's as complicated as the Gaelic branches of the Celtic languages. Breton is a different branch, but there is clearly some crossover. There's a page of links to Breton language sites (and Breton-language Internet radio broadcasts from France) at the University of Oregon http://babel.uoregon.edu/yamada/guides/breton.html.

One of my friends is Armenian and she goes to an Armenian Orthodox church. Is that the same group or branch as you describe above?
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

geekgrrl said:
The Breton undergoes leading consonantal changes as well, depending on the terminal letter of the preceding work, but I am not sure yet of how all this works. It's as complicated as the Gaelic branches of the Celtic languages. Breton is a different branch, but there is clearly some crossover. There's a page of links to Breton language sites (and Breton-language Internet radio broadcasts from France) at the University of Oregon http://babel.uoregon.edu/yamada/guides/breton.html.
All the Celts must have had screwy minds - instead of saying "It is raining", you say "The rain is on it".
geekgrrl said:
One of my friends is Armenian and she goes to an Armenian Orthodox church. Is that the same group or branch as you describe above?
I am not sure if they're in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch (I had a look at http://www.ec-patr.gr/en/links.htm and can't find their church, unless it comes under one of those listed).


Note, Rev deals with a novel idea about salvation - through faith alone. It is 'novel' in the sense that Martin Luther invented it 1,500 years after Jesus.

The idea that I can make a once in a lifetime proclamation leads to the problem of being 'unsaved'.
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Rev. said:
Not entirely accurate. Catholics believe salvation and membership are attained at baptism. And many Protestants (including me) would contest the "once in a lifetime" part.
Catholics believe salvation is attained through the Grace of God. So do you, so do I.
Rev. said:
I don't think Martin made it up. I think he discovered what was there all along and nobody had understood...or it had once been understood but forgotten.
Please provide early church writing that backs this up.

Rev. said:
What are the Orthodox sacrements?
Contemporary Orthodox catechisms and textbooks all affirm that the church recognizes seven mysteria, or "sacraments": Baptism, chrismation, Communion, holy orders, penance, anointing of the sick (the "extreme unction" of the medieval West), and marriage. Neither the liturgical book called Euchologion (prayer book), which contains the texts of the sacraments, nor the patristic tradition, however, formally limits the number of sacraments; they do not distinguish clearly between the "sacraments" and such acts as the blessing of water on Epiphany day or the burial service or the service for the tonsuring of a monk that in the West are called sacramentalia. In fact, no council recognized by the Orthodox Church ever defined the number of sacraments; it is only through the "Orthodox confessions" of the 17th century directed against the Reformation that the number seven has been generally accepted. The underlying sacramental theology of the Orthodox Church is based, however, on the notion that the ecclesiastical community is the unique mysterion, of which the various sacraments or sacramentalia are the normal expressions.
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/doctrine3.aspx

This is because we don't break down things into little categories as such, but live an entire life as of Jesus..
 

geekgrrl

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

I read where the new Pope Benedict XVI is said to be "reaching out" to the various Orthodox churches. Your brief outlines of Orthodoxy are sufficient to make me wonder what he hopes to accomplish. Does he expect other churches to capitulate and bow to the Church of Rome? I seem to recall that it was, maybe, John XXIII (Vatican II) who was the last to make overtures to the East, but without the grandiose expectations. Of course, my memory may or may not serve me well on that; it was a long time ago.
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Montalban said:
[...]

Note, Rev deals with a novel idea about salvation - through faith alone. It is 'novel' in the sense that Martin Luther invented it 1,500 years after Jesus.
Not being either Catholic or Protestant (or any other type of Christian), and being of my own mind, if I were divine and were going to institute a religion, I'd like to hear the words of praise and devotion and smell the incense and hear the choir sing, but I'd also like to see some action now and then to back it up. Autrement dit, "Put your money where your mouth is."

Montalban said:
The idea that I can make a once in a lifetime proclamation leads to the problem of being 'unsaved'.
Sure. Because if you can confess your belief in Jesus, you can just as easily confess your disbelief. So, if you're Jesus, you hear this and you mutter something to yourself on the order of, "Well, we'll just see about that", or, "You're history, dude!" If, on the other hand, you've seen evidence (through works) that this person is basically well-intentioned and decent but goes off on a mental bender from time to time, you are more likely to cut him some slack. N'est-ce pas?
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

geekgrrl said:
I read where the new Pope Benedict XVI is said to be "reaching out" to the various Orthodox churches. Your brief outlines of Orthodoxy are sufficient to make me wonder what he hopes to accomplish. Does he expect other churches to capitulate and bow to the Church of Rome? I seem to recall that it was, maybe, John XXIII (Vatican II) who was the last to make overtures to the East, but without the grandiose expectations. Of course, my memory may or may not serve me well on that; it was a long time ago.
Many Catholics believe that their offers such as by the late Pope are genuine, and can't understand why they get indifferent responses or downright hostile ones. There is much blood shed.

Indeed there is also much ignorance of Orthodoxy, even from Orthodox. One Orthodox lady at my work told me she thought that there really wasn't much difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism; a view shared by another lady at work - a Catholic. This is because on a superficial basis there are many similarities - use of icons, incense, chanting, Holy Communion etc. However we have a different understanding about the nature of God, and the nature of salvation.

The Trinity, for us, is stated in the Nicene Creed. Catholics unilaterally changed the wording of part of this to change the relationship of the members of the Trinity.

We say
"We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father."
They say
"We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son".

This 'double procession' makes the Holy Spirit a 'junior partner' of the Trinity; as retorted by the great St. Photius in his Mystagogy (see it at http://www.geocities.com/trvalentine/orthodox/mystagogy.html)

The unity in diversity of the nature of the Holy Spirit is, we believe, reflected in the structure of the Church here on earth. The Orthodox churches contain units headed by a bishop which are all equal in power to each other. Thus the fact we don't have a 'pope' is not a mere administrative glitch, but a reflection on our understanding of God.

Any attempts by Catholics to seek unity will always fail because of the many changes that they have made; in changing the notion of the Trinity, in changing the Church structure on earth, in approaching aspects of dogma through speculation, instead of experience. They have changed the notion of Mary to one who was conceived without Original Guilt (Sin) (we have a different notion called "Original Guilt" which is different from "Original Sin" and thus we have different notions on salvation as well.).

Dialogue is always welcome, but further events have hampered this. I mentioned a lot of 'blood'. The Fourth Crusade against the 'infadel' ended up an attack against Constantinople. Many Orthodox were martyred at the hands of Catholics.

These attacks continue with the late Pope both saying he wants unity, and peace, but at the same time trying to establish Catholic missions and churches in Orthodox lands.
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

geekgrrl said:
Sure. Because if you can confess your belief in Jesus, you can just as easily confess your disbelief. So, if you're Jesus, you hear this and you mutter something to yourself on the order of, "Well, we'll just see about that", or, "You're history, dude!" If, on the other hand, you've seen evidence (through works) that this person is basically well-intentioned and decent but goes off on a mental bender from time to time, you are more likely to cut him some slack. N'est-ce pas?
The Scotsman James Hogg lampooned this Protestant notion in his 19th century work "Confessions of a Justified Sinner" which in a very brief summary has a person who is 'saved' who, once having been 'born again' or 'justified' can now be free to act out any sin he wishes, because he's already pre-ordained saved.
 

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geekgrrl said:
Thanks for the extensive effort you put into your explanation, Rev!
You're welcome! :)

A question, though. If this is true: "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." then how does anyone know what God is really thinking at any given time about any given person? I know people who think God has blessed them when life is all blue skies and green lights, and that God has cursed them when things don't go their way. If the events of our lives are not signs from God, and this quoted statement is true, then how do we know what our standing is with God at any given instant?
You are asking about what is called "assurance"..."How can we know we are saved?" Just an interesting side note: the Amish believe it is impossible to know whether or not you are saved. You work really hard to live a holy life and hope for the best. Pretty depressing if you ask me.

Especially because the Bible teaches that we can know. Romans 8:16 says, "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children."

So, if we can't see ourselves as God sees us, it follows (to me, at least) that our only indicator of God's favor or disfavor is whether good or bad things predominate in our lives. Yes? No?
No. As I said, the Holy Spirit bears witness that we are children of God.

But the issue of good and bad situations in our lives being indications of our favor with God...that is another issue entirely. Many Christians like to say that if things are going good, then God is blessing you and if things are not going good...then you must be in sin. While it can be true, it can also be true that there is no relation. Consider the verses that talk about the rain falling on the just and the unjust. I think it's altogether dangerous to judge our own spiritual condition based on our life events. They might be related...but they might not.

The Bible teaches that all are spiritually lost, and that only through faith in Christ Jesus may we be saved...a fact to which the Holy Spirit bears witness.
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Montalban said:
Catholics believe salvation is attained through the Grace of God. So do you, so do I.
Catholics believe that salvation is accomplished through the act of baptism. Once you are baptised, then you are saved.

It's an incredibly important point to understand, because it is the beginning of the difference between Catholics and Protestants.
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Montalban said:
The Scotsman James Hogg lampooned this Protestant notion in his 19th century work "Confessions of a Justified Sinner" which in a very brief summary has a person who is 'saved' who, once having been 'born again' or 'justified' can now be free to act out any sin he wishes, because he's already pre-ordained saved.
On what basis do you say it is impossible to be unsaved?

For the record, my position is "Of course it is possible to be unsaved!"
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Rev. said:
On what basis do you say it is impossible to be unsaved?

For the record, my position is "Of course it is possible to be unsaved!"

John 6:47
John 3:36
1 John 5:12

All show salvation in the present tense. It's not something that "will" happen or that it "might" happen but just IS.

Hebrews 12:5 - 11
1 Peter 5:7
Matthew 18:6
Philippians 4:19
John 14:26
Psalm 46:1
Matthew 4:4
Romans 8:28 - 29

These are the Biblical traits of a good father & our Heavenly Father. At no point does it suggest that God will kick you out of his family.

As for "a faith without works" being "a dead faith" I think it makes the case that you were not saved in the first place. Not that you ceased being saved.
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Arthur Fonzarelli said:
John 6:47
John 3:36
1 John 5:12

All show salvation in the present tense. It's not something that "will" happen or that it "might" happen but just IS.

Hebrews 12:5 - 11
1 Peter 5:7
Matthew 18:6
Philippians 4:19
John 14:26
Psalm 46:1
Matthew 4:4
Romans 8:28 - 29

These are the Biblical traits of a good father & our Heavenly Father. At no point does it suggest that God will kick you out of his family.

As for "a faith without works" being "a dead faith" I think it makes the case that you were not saved in the first place. Not that you ceased being saved.

Since not everyone (myself included) owns a bible, it would have been more useful if you'd cited the passages themselves, not just their locations, so people would know what you're talking about.
 

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Re: Faith without works is dead.

Rev. said:
Catholics believe that salvation is accomplished through the act of baptism. Once you are baptised, then you are saved.

It's an incredibly important point to understand, because it is the beginning of the difference between Catholics and Protestants.
No, the first cause in Catholic understanding of salvation is God's grace. You make them sound like Pellagians by stating that the first cause is this act or 'work'.

Here is what they themselves say on the matter...
"The Council of Trent describes the process of salvation from sin in the case of an adult with great minuteness (Sess. VI, v-vi).

It begins with the grace of God which touches a sinner's heart, and calls him to repentance. This grace cannot be merited; it proceeds solely from the love and mercy of God. Man may receive or reject this inspiration of God, he may turn to God or remain in sin. Grace does not constrain man's free will."
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13407a.htm
 
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