So, I am just back from Houston, and am quite encouraged the response to my presentation by the same basic title concerning works and faith. This isn’t exactly a problem of debating whether a believer ‘must’ have works, but rather if one can discern ‘true-and-saving-faith’ from another’s works.
I’m a skeptic (as some of you know from my recent work, Back to Faith).
Here’s a bit of the logic I shared (called Affirming the Consequent)…which is a basic logical fallacy.
Here’s how it works (or doesn’t, as the case may be):
If it rain, the streets will be wet.
The streets are wet, therefore it rained.
This is clearly flawed because there can be other reasons for wet streets (dew, street cleaners, broken water main, etc.). It turns out that anything which works this way is a fallacy.
If x (rain), then y (wet streets).
y (wet streets), therefore x (rain)
…is wrong / invalid.
So, try it with faith and works!
If faith (x), then works (y).
Works (y), therefore faith (x).
False. The truth is that someone can do works for many reasons, including trying to work really hard to prove to God they deserve His favor!
Just because you see someone’s works, it doesn’t mean they have faith.
Even more intriguing is the fact that two Bible passages state that believers can basically be works-less (fruitless).
“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.” (Titus 3:14, ESV)
“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8, ESV)
In Greek, the word ‘unfruitful’ is exactly the meaning in the original language (not + fruit).
Crazy how much judging we like to do! Let’s let folks of the hook and keep sharing grace!
Grace and Truth,