Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Luther's Actions Disproved Sola Fide!

Catholics often use Saint James to illustrate the role our works/behaviors have in determining our ultimate destiny. Catholics don't believe we work our way to heaven but by His grace we cooperate with Christ through faith working through love. The scripture tells us  that faith without works is dead and we are not saved by faith alone. Though there are many other examples in scripture which also illustrate this we often use James to help our Protestant brothers see that scripture clearly does not support the novel concept of sola fide, proposed by Martin Luther and subsequently taken up by the other reformers.
      But wait!  The Protestants claim that James 2 really doesn't mean that "we are not saved by faith alone." Instead, they claim that James was talking about a different kind of faith. A "non saving" faith is one explanation they use: "When James says: “Can faith save him?” his meaning is “Can the faith which he says he has save him?” that is, faith which is dead and produces no works; for that is the faith clearly* intended here, as it appears from what follows. To make the meaning more evident, Macknight renders the sentence thus, — “Can this faith save him?” that is, the faith that has not works." (Commentary on the Epistle of James by John Calvin)

      Here is my point in all of this:  I believe Luther knew exactly what Saint James was talking about. I suspect Luther exegeted this verse exactly the same way the Church had for over a thousand years. Luther took this verse at its face value and concluded that these verses in chapter 2 would contradict his new theology of sola fide. He didn't attempt to make it say the opposite of the "plain reading" of scripture as some of the reformers did. Instead, he took an easier route: "Let's throw Jimmy in the stove!" So he criticized the book of James and  attempted to remove it from the canon of the NT.  Luther claimed James was an "epistle of straw" and meant to be cast into the stove because it lacked "the nature of the gospel."
      By these actions and comments we can see that Luther knew sola fide wasn't scriptural and wouldn't fly with that pesky epistle of straw hanging around the back of the bible. His attempt to discredit the epistle of Saint James and remove it is an indisputable proof of this. In his heart of hearts he knew that James was clearly saying that faith without works is dead, but this troublesome "Saint Jimmy" clearly repudiated one of the keystones of his sola system. He would have none of that. Thus we have on record his actions of attempting to remove Saint James thus proving that even Luther himself felt his doctrine of sola fide was  un-supported by Scripture. Why else would he have tried to remove Saint James' epistle from the canon?

"Many sweat to reconcile St. Paul and St. James, but in vain. 'Faith justifies' and 'faith does not justify' contradict each other flatly. If any one can harmonize them I will give him my doctor's hood and let him call me a fool."  -DrLuther 1520

"Saint Paul and Saint James never contradict themselves. One focused on mosaic law, the other on the good behavior that was needed to accompany a proclamation of faith. Clearly Luther was wrong about his sola system by misunderstanding this. If anyone can't see this I will give him my stethoscope and let him call himself a fool." -Dr. Rentler 2012


Blogger babydane said...

Dr. Rentler, it's Dane from Nashville. I start Cathechumenate classes tonight! Keep writing!

June 21, 2012 1:19 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Hey Dane!
Good to hear from you!!! God bless you with your classes! Please let me know if you have questions.
Hope and pray the music is going well too!
Folks like you are the reason I do this. Thank you.

June 21, 2012 2:06 PM  
Blogger Ross Earl Hoffman said...

Very nice Doctor!

June 21, 2012 10:33 PM  
Blogger owen swain said...

The mental, theological and translation gymnastics performed by Protestants (as you know, I was one) in order to show how the Bible supports sola scriptura and sola fide are on a level with the Cirque Du Soleil.

It's kind of fun(sad) how those two key solas contradict each other.

June 22, 2012 10:29 AM  
Anonymous russ said...

Owen, that's an excellent point. I too wondered why the rallying cry of the reformers "sola fide" was in direct opposition to the new doctrine of "sola scriptura" Didn't anyone ask, "Wow man, like I think you may have got one of those solos wrong?"

June 22, 2012 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are some more of Luther's reasons for not including James in his personal canon of Scripture.

Therefore St James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it.
(Luther’s Works 35, 362)

The epistle of James gives us much trouble, for the Papists embrace it alone and leave out all the rest…Accordingly, if they will not admit my interpretations, then I shall make rubble also of it. I almost feel like throwing Jimmy into the stove, as the priest in Kalenberg did.
(Luther’s Works 34, 317)

We should throw the epistle of James out of this school [i.e. Wittenburg], for it doesn’t amount to much. It contains not a syllable about Christ. Not once does it mention Christ, except at the beginning. I maintain that some Jew wrote it who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any. Since he heard that Christians place great weight on faith in Christ, he thought, ‘Wait a moment! I’ll oppose them and urge works alone.’ This he did.
(Luther’s Works 54, 424)

I thought most of the Bible was written by Jews! I know Martin Luther was not too fond of Jews, but to remove a book of the bible because he thought it was written by a Jew who was out to confuse the Christians sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.

June 22, 2012 5:46 PM  

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