Those popes who bear the name, "Pius," are the greatest guardians of the Church against heresy. This blog is a watchdog for modernism in the Church. In reality, outside this blog, the members of the board temper their criticisms and opinions with prudence and charity so as to help souls in their journey towards Christ. But sometimes, for the sake of their own sanity, the authors of this blog just need to blow off some steam. The result is Totus Pius.

27 July 2006

Faith Without Works: Do Protestants Read the Bible?

We are increasingly puzzled at this protestant idea that faith without works is sufficient for salvation. The matter seems clear from James who states that, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). However, protestants twist this and state that works naturally follow from true faith. Thus, all man needs is true faith and then good works proceed as a logical consequence.

In many ways, this interpretation does not only show that all protestants are gnostics (for trying to seek truth through scripture on their own despite the admonition of 2 Peter 1:20), but also that they are subtly denying original sin. This seems to be a tough view to hold given the Lutheran view on grace, but in essence protestants do deny this sin because they deny that one who has true faith can still fall. Did not Adam and Eve have faith? They spoke with God. They even saw Him. What about Paul? Have they read him: "And if I should have prophesy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could move mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13: 2). Of course, the best scriptural evidence comes from the Gospels from those who have the most faith in Jesus Christ as Son of God: the demons whom He expels.

"And behold they [the demons] cried out saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Matt 8: 29). What faith! Not only do they profess that Jesus is the Son of God, but they also have a profound knowledge of the Old Testament because they also profess belief in the final judgment. And to think! Peter only professes that Christ is the Son of God in Matthew 16: 16-- eight chapters later! How come Jesus didn't make the demons the rock on which He built His Church? Oh yeah...good works don't necessarily flow from faith and faith alone does not save man.

Tune in next time for how protestants also have shades of manichaeanism because of their prudery-- especially in regard to their policies on alcohol.


Joseph, M.T.S. said...

There also seems to be a Pelagian aspect because it sometimes seems that for some Protestants faith becomes a work. Since they teach that people are justified by faith alone, if faith equals a specific work, then people would be justified by performing this specific work, apart from God's grace. Although I suppose it could be argued that God's grace is necessary to adequately have faith, but that would make grace an indirect cause of salvation.

I also don't know how far the Gnosticism argument will go. For the Gnostics, the material world was evil and a prison for the soul, which came from the good spiritual world. Through the acquisition of certain special knowledge (gnosis in Greek) one could realize this and attain salvation. However, the Gnostics, at least the Gnostics who embraced aspects of Christianity, believed that Christ was sent from the spiritual world and took the appearance of a human (since the material world was evil, they argue He wouldn't want to be associated with a body) in order to give this knowledge to people. Thus, I would argue that the Protestantism/Gnosticism link is tenuous at best. Like I mentioned earlier, there does seem to be a bit of Pelagianism, and what you describe as Protestants "trying to seek truth through scripture on their own" would seem Pelagian since it is done apart from those God gave authority to in the interpretation of Scripture (i.e. the Apostles and their successors in union with the Pope and guided by the Holy Spirit) and, presumably, is done to lead to faith and salvation. Thus it seems like an individual performs this work (seeking Truth through Scripture on his own), which leads to faith, which leads to justification and, therefore, salvation.

Anonymous said...

That statement about the demons believing is a great point.
I'll tuck that away for some ammunition later on.

P.S.: X, did you get my email about Myth Anathamatizers?

Caritas said...

Your Excellencies,

In reading the Book of Revelation last night, I came across several passages supporting the Roman Catholic Teaching concerning works that couple with the appropriate "Faith without works is dead" passage.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.-Rev. 14:13

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.-Rev. 20:12

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.-Rev. 20:13

All of these passages came from a King James version of the Bible no less. Who would of thought?!

JPSonnen said...

nice thoughts. as the de facto catholic apologetic book, ive always looked to "evidence for our faith" by joseph h. cavanaugh. it has all the answers in one.

Papa Sanctus Pius X said...

The connection between gnosticism and protestantism is more than tenuous. As you state, for gnostics the material world is evil. This explains protestant puritanism. How do they interpret scripture? A special, personal interpretation from the "Holy Spirit" which they receive totally independent from the authority of the Church. Are they full blown gnostics? Absolutely not. Do they adhere to a mild gnosticism? Protestantism, like modernism, being a synthesis of all heresies, certainly does.

Joseph, M.T.S. said...

I still don't buy your argument. The gnostics focussed on secret knowledge, which Protestants do not. The Protestants focus on self-interpretation of Scripture, but pretty much any group that dissented from Church teaching did to some extent, whether or not they were Gnostic. The Arians, for example, interpreted Scripture differently than the Church, but the Arians were by no means Gnostic.

Furthermore, the Gnostic view of the material world as evil and Protestant puritanism aren't the same. Protestants recognize the Book of Genesis as Scripture, and thus agree that God created the world and that creation was good. The Gnostics rejected Genesis and said that the material world was never meant to be; it was an accident and is intrinsically evil. Perhaps there is a slight similarity, but I don't think it is concrete enough to even speak of the Protestants as similar to the Gnostics in this regard.

Papa Sanctus Pius X said...

I am not saying that protestants are the same as gnostics. However, attitudes of complete abstinence from alcohol and the such stem from philosophical principles that when taken to their logical conclusions actually do state that created nature can be bad. That is the problem with not having the complete truth. They might believe in Genesis, but their error leads to contradictory beliefs.
Also, the argument isn't that they interpret scripture outside of the authority of the Church, therefore they are gnostic. The argument is that they state that they are inspired by the Holy Spirit privately (this is how they respond to 2 Peter 1:20) and thus they believe in a type of secret knowledge. Again, not to the same extent as the original gnostics, but there is clear evidence of gnostic strains.

Papa Sanctus Pius X said...

Just to show what I mean by following thought out to its logical conclusion: If alcohol is good in and of itself, then why abstain completely (and not just a 'personal choice' but with an argument that 'the Spirit demands it)? Why not simple temperence?

Raindear said...

I agree with Anonymous - brilliant point about the demons.

The passages from Revelation are also helpful.

Perhaps it is more precise to stay that Protestantism tends toward Gnosticism, by its emphasis on private, inspired knowledge of Scripture and by its implicit rejection of the goodness of some created things.

The alcohol example is a little weak, because God did not directly create alcohol. He created grapes and men ingeniously fermented them. (:

Anonymous said...

Faith is a free gift from God, but we are obligated to cooperate with his grace. If you bothered to talk to a sample of evangelical Protestants,instead of just sterotyping them, you would find that many believe the same thing. All I know is that when my family and I were faced with a crisis, it was my Protestant friends who were there for me, my Catholic friends bailed.
And who did most of the charity work during Huricane Katrina, the Protestant Churches. Yes, catholic charities is a big oranization, but they are more social-service oriented rather than Christ oriented God works through everyone.

David said...

Your Excellencies,

You mentioned the heresy of "modernism" in one of the posts. Since this term is laden with misconceptions and stigma, perhaps you would be so kind as to hand down a benevolent teaching as to what you mean when you say "modernism," as well as what might count - or not count - under the "modernist" heresy. I realize this is not the general thrust of the post, and is tangential to the issues being discussed, but I am most interested in avoiding error.

Yours faithfully,

Joseph, M.T.S. said...

I think we can come to some concensus here. Your argument has shifted slightly during the course of our discussion. Initially (and this is what I initially was responding to) you stated, "this interpretation does not only show that all protestants are gnostics," equating Protestants with Gnostics. In a later comment, however, you stated, "I am not saying that protestants are the same as gnostics."

Thus, I think we can both agree that there are Gnostic-like qualities to some Protestant beliefs. However, these Protestant beliefs are not equivalent to the Gnostic versions - homoiousios vs. homoousios ;).

While there is similarity in some of these beliefs, I still maintain that there is not enough similarity to speak of Protestants as Gnostics in the sense that this was done in the original post. I think it is better to use the term "Gnostic-like".

Papa Sanctus Pius X said...


I can agree with your terminology. I think you make a good point. However, in regards to the alcohol, while it may be true that God made the grapes and man the wine, The Doctor rightly asserts that everything in so far as it has being is good.

Papa Sanctus Pius X said...

Your distinction, Joseph, regarding our quotes seems clever. However, I did not change position during my argument. Protestants hold to a mild gnosticism. When I stated later that "they are not the same as gnostics" I was referring to the historical sense. This historical sense is the basis of your argument (that we can't call Protestants gnostics because they don't hold to the same exact gnosticism as the original gnostics). However, the error philosophically is the same. Thank you for pointing out where we needed to clarify, however.

Anonymous, a lot of Catholics say many things about Catholicism too. I suggest you stop being so intolerant of other religions by stereotyping them according to what others who are not qualified have to say about them. How about you respect them by taking them seriously and read some Luther or Calvin. I have plenty of friends who are evangelical Protestants-- stop assuming too.

David, thanks for your post. I promise a post in the future regarding modernism. IN the meantime, I suggest reading the encyclical "Pascendi Domini Gregis" written by yours truly. You can get it at

Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

Or the Syllabus of Errors by my own namesake, found at the same site.