We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Faith & Works

In the white heat of theological conflict, the early Reformers rejected the notion that we can be saved by our actions.  Drawing especially on Paul, they argued that we are saved by "faith alone, grace alone."  They set faith over against works, Paul against the Book of James.

It's a false choice that is both unfaithful and unworkable.  People of true faith will truly work at their faith.  Faith virtually demands action.  Faith for followers of Christ means trusting God in  Christ and seeking to live as God in Christ creates us to live.  Heart and mind are wrapped up in the quest faith sets us on.  Faith teaches us to slow down and "be still," which is a form of works that is not-doing rather than doing.  Faith also impels us to service, which is godly doing, another form of works.

We don't "get faith" before we "do works".  The two come together as a package deal.

And, most precisely, it is also not quite correct to claim that we are saved by faith when we consider that faith is a gift rather than an achievement.  We're not saved either by faith or works, but by the grace of God in the guise of the Spirit.  Amen.