A common soteriological view among Evangelical Christians (such as myself) is that we are saved by grace, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, this belief is usually accompanied by a belief that the inevitable effect of salvation is a life that bears fruit, and gradually conforms to Christ (sanctification).
1 John 3:9 (NIV)
9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.
Matthew 7:18 (NIV)
18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
James 2:17-19 (NIV)
17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
James 2:24 (NIV)
24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
It seems clear, especially from James, that genuine saving faith is accompanied by works. Of course, since we are not saved by works, we conclude that these works are the fruit of our salvation, and not the cause of it. In other words, we are first saved by grace through our genuine saving faith, and works result.
So it seems that it is possible to have a faith that is non-genuine, or non-saving, and thus does not lead to the bearing of fruit. My question centers around what the difference between these two types of faith is.
I'm interested in non-Calvinist viewpoints, because I believe that I understand the Calvinist one.
I think a Calvinist's answer to this problem would be that it is God who initiates the salvation process in the elect, and saving faith is the result. Non-Calvinists would hold that God initiates the salvation process for everyone and draws all men to him, but we must choose Him. So it is in the non-Calvinist viewpoint that the question arises: If there is such thing as a non-saving faith, or non-genuine "choosing", what characterizes saving faith?