As an atheist I have no dog in the “faith alone” versus “faith with acts” fight. But I read the Bible quite frequently for ammunition and entertainment. I just don’t see the ‘faith alone’ concept supported by what I’ve read.
I understand that Martin Luther “recovered” the doctrine from the teachings of Paul. But it seems clear that the acts of the law which Paul spoke of were the ceremonial acts of the Jews.
When Paul spoke of justification by faith he could not possibly have been speaking of simple belief. The example he gave was of Abraham: “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
“Believing in” God was never a question for Abraham since he had a face to face relationship with God. The ‘faith’ issue was whether Abraham ‘trusted’ God to act according to his belief.
Paul had a problem with Jews who claimed salvation by the fact of their Jewish ritual, he certainly thought that people should do good deeds.
With the Catholic indulgence business the Protestants took Christianity from one extreme to another. They threw the baby out with the bathwater.
The Gospels are replete with the idea that men must follow the commandments of Jesus/God. Consider John 15:13-14: Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.”
So Jesus wasn’t a sin sacrifice for everybody (only potentially), He was a sacrifice only for those who follow all His commandments. That is what ‘faith’ means: acting on your professed belief, even when it is frightening.
The expression “Lord and Savior” is a succinct expression of the New Covenant. If you become Jesus’ slave you will be saved. A “lord” is someone whose commandments you are bound to follow. Jesus asked “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
A covenant is a contract. You do this for me and I’ll do this for you. Just as the covenant of Mosaic Law promised a land to the people only if they kept all of the commandments, the judgments, and the statutes of God. When they didn’t the deal fell through, null and void.
The New Covenant is the same way, people have to do the things Christ commanded or there is no deal. Period.
Martin Luther’s false doctrine was popular because it was easy and compatible with societies based on self-interest.
The amount of literature, of sophistry, to circumvent the clear teachings of Christ, is staggering.
How many damned souls is Martin Luther responsible for?