Sola Fide

Salvation is by faith alone. That is a core doctrine of the Christian faith that the RCC denies.

It is said that, "Sola Fide, and Sola Scriptura are the two pillars of the Protestant Reformation. The other two branches of Christianity, The Catholics and the Orthodox don't hold to them

This much it true - it's why the Reformers rejected the false teaching of the Roman Catholic church

and the same "sombody" said, "As such then they are only 500 or so years old. So they aren't "core doctrines." In fact, on the church history timeline, they're relative late comers.

Let's look to Scripture first.

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Rom. 3:24).

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” (Eph. 2:8).

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” (Titus 3:5).

Contrast that with Trent: “If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.” If you believe the Bible, Trent says, "let you anathema."

I wrote more here.


“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness,” (Rom. 4:3).

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:1).

Trent: Canon 24: “If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.”


“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law,” (Gal. 5:1-3).

Trent: Canon 30: “If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.”

Which will you believe? (imagine a balance scale, the magisterium on one side, God on the other)

As for the um..."miscommunication" that Sola Fide is a latecomer...let's look to early church writings.

CLEMENT of Rome: "All the ancient fathers descended from Abraham, both before the Law and under the Law, were glorified and magnified, not through themselves, nor through their works of righteousness which they had done, but through His will. Therefore we, also, being called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves, neither through our own wisdom, or understanding, or piety, or works which we have done in holiness of heart, but through faith, that faith through which the Almighty God hath justified all that ever lived; to whom be glory for ever, Amen!"

IGNATIUS (1ST CENT): "To me, Christ is in the place of all ancient muniments. For His Cross, and His death, and His resurrection, and the faith which is through Him, are my unpolluted muniments; and in these, through your prayers, I am willing to have been justified."

[Letter to the Philadelphians]: "The prophets also do we love, because they have announced the Gospel; and they hoped in him and awaited him. In him and by their faith in him they were saved, being united to Jesus Christ."

POLYCARP OF SMYRNA (AD 69-156) [in his letter to the Philippianss, ch. 1:3]: "Knowing that 'you are saved by grace, not because of works' (cf. Eph. 2:5, 8, 9), namely, by the will of God through Jesus Christ"
"The Lord Jesus Christ, who endured to submit unto death for our sins; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of hell; in whom ye believe, not having seen Him, but believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.... knowing that through grace ye are saved, not of works, but by the will of God, through Jesus Christ."

JUSTIN MARTYR: [Dialogue with Trypho, ch. XCII]: "For Abraham was declared by God to be righteous, not on account of circumcision, but on account of faith"

AMBROSE: "Without the works of the Law to an ungodly man, that is to say, a Gentile, believing in Christ, his 'faith is imputed for righteousness,' as also it was to Abraham. How, then, can the Jews imagine, that through the works of the Law they are justified with the justification of Abraham, when they see that Abraham was justified, not by the works of the Law, but by faith alone? There is no need, therefore, of the Law, since through faith alone, an ungodly man is justified with God."

CHRYSOSTOM (4TH CENT) [homil. de fide.] "If you believe faith, why do you bring other things in, as though faith alone sufficed not to justify?"

[2 ad Eph. serm. 5]: [speaking of the thief on the cross] "I can shew a faithful man without works... only faith by itself saved him."

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5 thoughts on “Sola Fide

  1. phd4jesus

    Thank you Ellen. Over the last week or so I have learned a lot from you both here and one another blog (O.C.W.). Keep up the God's work in truth and love!!

  2. Hey! Stop stealing my topics!

    Thank you for sharing all your knowledge on my blog. I have learned alot and realize even more how precious my faith is. Keep up the good work.

  3. Carrie, we come at them from different directions and different passions...

    Sometimes I'm afraid that the way I approach things gives me a greater "head knowledge" and I lose the "heart knowledge"

  4. Atlantic

    Hi Ellen!

    I think the Catholic position on this has always been more balanced than your quotes imply. Here are the same six early Church fathers:

    Clement of Rome: "Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. 'For God,' saith [the Scripture], 'resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.' Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words." (Epistle to the Corinthians)

    Ignatius of Antioch: "Be pleasing to him whose soldiers you are, and whose pay you receive. May none of you be found to be a deserter. Let your baptism be your armament, your faith your helmet, your love your spear, your endurance your full suit of armor. Let your works be as your deposited withholdings, so that you may receive the back-pay which has accrued to you." (Letter to Polycarp)

    Polycarp of Smyrna: "But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, falsewitness; 'not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing,' or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again; and once more, "Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.' " (To the Phillipians)

    Justin Martyr: "We have learned from the prophets and we hold it as true that punishments and chastisements and good rewards are distributed according to the merit of each man’s actions. Were this not the case, and were all things to happen according to the decree of fate, there would be nothing at all in our power. If fate decrees that this man is to be good and that one wicked, then neither is the former to be praised nor the latter to be blamed." (First Apology)

    Ambrose: "Finally Scripture teaches us how far from common are these stones, inasmuch as, whilst some brought one kind, and others another, of less precious offerings, these the devout princes brought, wearing them upon their shoulders, and made of them the 'breastplate of judgment,' that is, a piece of woven work. Now we have a woven work, when faith and action go together. Let none suppose me to be misguided, in that I made at first a threefold division, each part containing four, and afterwards a fourfold division, each part containing three terms. The beauty of a good thing pleases the more, if it be shown under various aspects. For those are good things, whereof the texture of the priestly robe was the token, that is to say, either the Law, or the Church, which latter hath made two garments for her spouse, as it is written'--the one of action, the other of spirit, weaving together the threads of faith and works.... Faith is profitable, therefore, when her brow is bright with a fair crown of good works.” (On the Christian Faith)

    John Chrysostom: " 'Is it then enough,' saith one,'to believe on the Son, that one may have eternal life?' By no means. And hear Christ Himself declaring this, and saying, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. vii. 21); and the blasphemy against the Spirit is enough of itself to cast a man into hell. But why speak I of a portion of doctrine? Though a man believe rightly on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, yet if he lead not a right life, his faith will avail nothing towards his salvation." (Homilies on John).

  5. Atlantic: Sure. It goes to show, though, that across the board, it is not a "given" that faith alone was never taught.

    Clement's quote still has grace given by God, the proof lying in works, not mere words.

    Ignatius: Let your works be as your deposited withholdings, so that you may receive the back-pay which has accrued to you.”

    This is Biblical, but it doesn't have to do with salvation, it's rewards in heaven.

    There is a difference between works being the "proof" of salvation, rather than the "cause" of salvation.

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