The Apostle James distills the debate about faith and works so well in his epistle, it is staggering. I remember as a Reformed Protestant having to sort of *wince* a bit at some of St. James' language. The book of James was full of what Protestants must call "hard sayings", which is another way of saying either "we dont like what it says", or "it doesn't fit in our interpretive paradigm, so let's shelve it".
Well, that's not good enough. And James calls you an "ignoramus" for doing so.
You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. For just as a body without a spirit is dead,so also faith without works is dead.
James apostolic smack down just reached out from the 1st century and slapped the Protestant cheek.
I think the fear of Protestants is that any talk of works *gasp!* will immediately devolve into a religion of "us seeking God" or a neglecting of God's grace. Or they may view faith and works as oil and water (respectively) in a glass: Pour more works in the glass and grace flows out. But I think the Catholic version of this analogy is that for the baptized Christian who has been washed in the Blood of Christ there is only oil (faith) in the glass and the entire glass gets miraculously bigger when we admit works into the scene. In this sense faith and works can be seen as one and the same thing.
Car and gas.
Lamp and oil.
Bread and yeast.
There is no antagonism between faith and works for Catholics. All is of grace, all is from God and for God. If I see myself doing a "good work", then praise God He has given me the grace to do that. The glory goes to Him.
And isn’t that "work" really another way of saying I have faith? According to James, Jesus and Paul it is!
The longer I am Catholic, the more I realize that the doctrine of sola fide is just dressed up antinomianism. And if you are a Protestant and don't know what that word means but you do know what legalism means, then you are probably an antinomian. As James would say, you are an ignoramus.