I have read that modern protestantism on one hand, and catholicism on the other, tended to abridge their historical differences. Are there any cases in modern protestantism where justification can come other than from faith?

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    – JBH
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 5:39
  • Lovely to have you come in to the community! It would be helpful, though, if you could state where, exactly, you read this claim. If you can cite sources that others can check, that goes a long way to getting a question accepted on here. There is good potential in your question and it is worth asking, preferably by showing a bit of research on your part.
    – Anne
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 17:35
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    I can think of at least four ongoing debates that have involved some self-identifying Protestants claiming that other self-identifying Protestants have "added" something to sola fide. Is there a particular Protestant definition of sola fide that you are thinking of (there's more than one, naturally), or would you like an overview of the recent disagreements? Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 18:58
  • @Anne I think Alan Mr might be talking about this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – One Face
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 5:00
  • A helpful link One Face. Pity no clues came from Alan Mr as that puts me off answering. A great deal of time can be spent formulating an answer only for some other 'clue' to arise which shows the answer is off at the wrong tangent. Askers really need to be clear about what, precisely, they want to know, and why. Appreciate your input One Face.
    – Anne
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


Sola fide or faith alone is a key point within Reformed Protestantism. Sola fide—the doctrine of justification by faith alone apart from works—teaches that righteous works are the result and evidence of a born-again person who has been justified by God and regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sola fide is so important to a biblical understanding of salvation that Martin Luther described it as being “the article with and by which the church stands.” The teaching that we are declared righteous by God (justified) on the basis of our faith alone and not by works is a key doctrine of Reformed Protestantism.

There are some modern Protestant denominations that insist works are necessary in addition to faith although you would be hard-pressed to find any overt declaration to that effect. One clue is whether or not that denomination is “performance oriented.” They may place great emphasis on performance-related works—attending every meeting; volunteering to help at local, regional, and national events; and devoting required minimum amounts of time to proselytizing. Everyone must do more in the advancement of “God’s work.” The dedication of each member is tracked and measured by the amount of time, effort, and money they give to the cause. If an individual’s efforts begin to slip below expectations, it will be noticed, questions will be asked and privileges withheld.

To establish whether or not a Protestant denomination deviates from sola fide and proposes that justification can be achieved other than by faith alone, one would have to examine their doctrinal basis of belief with regard to their position on Calvinism and Arminianism. It boils down to whether or not the denomination subscribes to Calvinistic soteriology or not, namely:

“that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever; amen.” (J. I. Packer, “Introductory Essay,” p. 6)

“God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will... God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected... Thus God’s choice of the sinner, not the sinner’s choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.” (The Five Points of Calvinism by David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing in 1963 – pages 16-17)

“All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, is he pleased in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call by his word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.” (The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 10, Section 1)

In other words, we are justified not by anything we do, but entirely by what God has done, which includes giving us faith. Some Protestant denominations have deviated from this original position but it is very difficult to pin down any declaration as to whether they are with Luther and Calvin or whether they are in the Arminian camp.

I have first-hand experience of one fairly new (out of the late 19th century revival) denomination that insists upon good works in addition to faith being necessary to salvation, yet their official web site would lead you to believe otherwise. And no, I’m not about to name them because Christianity Stack Exchange is not in the business of calling out individual denominations. The only way to establish what a church really thinks about the Reformed Protestant position on sola fide is to examine how they operate and whether they are “performance orientated” or not.

Edit: The article in this link (provided by One Face) may be relevant to the question being asked: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Declaration_on_the_Doctrine_of_Justification

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    This is a problematic answer because it seems to rely entirely on your judgement that this denomination insisted that works were required for salvation, even though their official doctrine said they did not. This makes it impossible for anyone else to check what you wrote. Did officials of the church communicate to you that they did not agree with their official doctrine, or did their emphasis on certain actions cause you to form the opinion that they required works for salvation? Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 16:48
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    For a question like this, it's worth thinking about Protestantism as a whole – do any significant groups of Protestants believe that any other groups of Protestants have deviated from sola fide? Unfortunately, there isn't just one definition of sola fide, so some Protestants (for example, "free grace theologians") believe that whole swaths of Protestantism have "added" something to faith, namely, repentance (see How does repentance fit into the doctrine of sola fide (“by faith alone”)?) Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 18:47
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    And, as you mention, there are many Protestant traditions that would argue that other Protestant traditions add legalism to sola fide. Not to mention that some traditions seem to add baptism as a requirement, or the whole "federal vision" and NPP controversies. So there end up being a wide variety of examples of Protestant traditions that say "so-and-so add to sola fide." Thus the question becomes a matter of "according to who?" unless it can be answered with an overview. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 18:52
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    Yes, the Free Grace movement has detracted from sola fide, and churches in the Restoration Movement, specifically the Church of Christ and the International Church of Christ, strenuously promote baptismal regeneration. It's a spiritual can of worms, theologically speaking!
    – Lesley
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 8:31
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    Calvinists who insist that faith itself must be simply given to the believer by God are themselves replacing "justification by faith" with "justification by sovereign election" - you're saved not because you believe, but because you're predestined to be, in effect. The argument they are making muddies the waters on the issue. Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 12:06

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