Monday, May 14, 2018

Quickie Apologetics: Sola Fide & Losing Salvation

My "election/calling in the NT" article as a follow-up to my last post is taking longer than expected, so here's a brief post (on a different subject) for now.

One line of argument I use against Protestants is to ask them early on in the discussion if they believe salvation can be lost through (grave) sin. About 'half' of Protestant denominations do believe salvation can be lost if we turn to sin, fall away, lose faith, etc. But this raises an interesting dilemma: how can you say we are saved by faith alone if salvation can be lost? If faith is what saves you, then your works obviously cannot play a role. If your works do play a role in saving you (including keeping you saved), then obviously it's not faith alone saving you. You would be surprised how many Protestants get stumped by this question - and indeed they should, since it's a blatant contradiction. 

I've found this argument is especially useful against Lutherans, since they believe salvation can be lost through grave sin. In fact, Luther himself taught that salvation could be lost:
When holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them. (Smalcald Articles #43).
Luther wrote the Smalcald Articles and Lutherans formally accepted them in their Confessional Book of Concord, so this is official Lutheran teaching. It is interesting that Paul himself quotes this example of David having lost his salvation and having to repent to become re-justified in Romans 4:6-8 (quoting Psalm 32). 

Recognizing this contradiction, we get the other 'half' of Protestants who logically hold that salvation cannot be lost. These require a different line of approach, but can still easily be exposed as well. Those who do believe salvation can be lost typically (rightly) appeal to the clear passages of Scripture indicating salvation can be lost (see HERE and HERE for some examples), and in this case they sacrifice logical consistency for Scriptural testimony. On the flip side, those who believe salvation cannot be lost are forced to explain away those many texts of Scripture, and in doing so they sacrifice God's Word for logical consistency. In reality, you shouldn't have to sacrifice either one, and that's why the Catholic Church is obviously correct in rejecting salvation by faith alone.


Mark Thimesch said...
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Mark Thimesch said...
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Mark Thimesch said...
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jack mills said...

Mark, I wanted to respond to your posts, but we had a power outage for the last 24 hours and I had no Internet. It just now has been restored.

I see that you removed your posts - not sure why. I see that my post has been removed also. If you would like to read my comments please send me your email or email me at

I would post my response here, but if Nick is censoring my posts I don't want upload my comments if they are not wanted.

Mark Thimesch said...


I believe your post was censored because it didn't even address the TOPIC of Nick's blog. You basically did the ole "shot gun" approach that many anti-Catholics do - attack the Church based on your preconceived ideologies and double standards.

It gets old, Jack, especially when a little bit of research from actual Catholic sources, public court documents and some non-religious based institutions would yield the answers to many "claims" against the Catholic Church.

I would suggest addressing Nick's TOPIC of this blog post before addressing me. That would be proper courtesy AND it would stay ON TOPIC.

jack mills said...

Thanks for your reply Mark. If I have mis-judged the Catholic Church, I am truly sorry.

Joe said...


I'm not so sure that Lutherans believe they can lose salvation as a result of serious sin, notwithstanding the Smalcald Articles. Seems that "apostasy" is the only cause of the loss of justification. I've been trying to research this and haven't been able to nail it down.

Your point is still valid for any Protestants who hold to JBFA but can be lost due to a behavior (regardless of how we categorize it).


ola said...

If Lutherans argued that apostasy is the only sin that causes one to lose their justification, an important passage to cite is Matthew 7:21.

Of course, a Lutheran could resort to the Calvinistic claim that such an individual never had "true faith" to begin with, but then this would resort to the Calvinistic fallacy of "No True Christian" (derived from the No True Scotsman fallacy).

If there are not other sins besides apostasy that can cause one to lose their justification, then what's stopping us from adopting the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (i.e., one that has been justified in actuality, will never lose that justification).

The idea that anyone who does not persevere in faith, no matter how perfect their prior Christian conduct may have been, was never justified in the first place, is an example of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. If there is no criterion for identifying who is justified independently of whether they actually persevere to the end, then it is impossible to know if someone is justified before that person's death. Hence, it fails to give assurance of either salvation, defeating the very purpose of the doctrine. However, if there is such a criterion, then it should be clearly articulated so we can test the claim that the justified always persevere. Otherwise, the claim that one who does not persevere was never justified is just an empty tautology, grounded in the definition of "justification" as entailing perseverance (i.e., justification entails perseverance, and perseverance entails justification).