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Question: In a discussion with a member of the Reformed church, the topic of birth control and abortion came up, and the Reformed church's change in their policy on these issues. The argument used by this person to support his church's changing position was referred by him as the "theological suspension of the ethical". He recalled to me occasions in the OT where according to the Will of God, principles of the Mosaic Law were suspended by a direct command of God. These occasions altered the genealogical progression of some of God's people. His point was that if God in his infinite wisdom could invade in our natural systems of what is right and what is wrong to accomplish his Will, He could do the same now. What would you say to this?
Question: I am a practicing Catholic and have been involved in apologetics for the past six months. I have just recently stumbled upon your site and find it very helpful. I especially enjoyed your debate with "King" James White. (It seems his rebuttal section focused nearly entirely on a straw man argument that the Catholic position is Pelagian.)
My question is in regards to Luther's definition of "faith alone" vs the recent agreement being reached between the Church and the Lutheran church. The agreement on a misunderstanding of what "faith alone" means is confusing. The current definition of faith alone, but faith that includes including charity (?) I can understand. However, I have read some quotes by Luther that explicitly say his idea of faith alone is apart from works. Two examples:
Those pious souls who do good to gain the Kingdom of Heaven not only will never succeed, but they must even be reckoned among the impious; and it is more important to guard them against good works than against sin. (Wittenberg, VI, 160, quoted by O'Hare, in The Facts About Luther, TAN Books, 1987, p. 122.)
Speaking at the Augustinian church in Erfurt, Luther once again condemns good works:
…of no avail and must be done away with. Mark these words: All our works are worthless. I am your justification, says Christ our Lord…We don't care a straw for man-made laws…Where true Christian charity and faith prevails, everything that a man does is meritorious and each one may do as he pleases, provided always that he accounts his works as nothing…What matters it if we commit a fresh sin! So long as we do not despair but remember that Thou, O God, still lives! (Robert H. Fife, The Revolt of Martin Luther, New York 1957 652 Hartmann Grisar Luther, ed Luigi Cappadelta, 6 vols. St. Louis 1913 II 63, 339, quote on 63 )
Given the above quotes, is the current Lutheran definition of faith alone different than Luther's definition? Frankly I find the recent Lutheran definition, "faith alone" (alone/apart from what? works?) really means faith alone ( naturally leading to good works) extremely confusing and misleading.