(I know that we’re all about ecumenical harmony on here, but it gets nauseating sometimes and I have to stir us some controversy to keep the readers awake.)
Okay, I’m trying to figure this out. Despite being heavy into Catholic teachings and having attended a Pentecostal church for a couple of years, I’m still pretty confused as to how the Protestant and Catholic views on this differ. I was listening to the Office of Readings today, and heard the following from St. Gregory the Great, as part of a teaching about St. Thomas:
What follows is reason for great joy: Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. There is here a particular reference to ourselves; we hold in our hearts one we have not seen in the flesh. We are included in these words, but only if we follow up our faith with good works. The true believer practices what he believes. But of those who pay only lip service to faith, Paul has this to say: They profess to know God, but they deny him in their works. Therefore James says: Faith without works is dead.
Now, that’s the Catholic view, but here’s the thing: isn’t that the Protestant view, too? How are the different? I know we’ve discussed them in-depth before, but it tends to get really theo-nerdy and I can’t understand the conclusion.
Also, I read this in James:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
— James 2:14
Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
— James 2:20
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
— James 2:24
And then I’m like… well, that’s totally clear then. But then, I find out that the legitimacy of the Book of James (and the Epistle to the Hebrews, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and the Revelation of John) was in dispute. Apparently, they were always sort of questionable, but were considered acceptable by the Church because they were being interpreted through the traditions. (Correct me if I’m wrong, as it’s the first time I’ve heard of this at all.)
Is it that Protestants think that nothing you do after baptism can send you to Hell? Or is it that the grace imparted through baptism is supposed to be enough to help you recover from all future sins? Or something? Don’t really get it. And what’s with the Bible stuff?
In plain English, please.