A Second Look at Sola Fide

by Lawson “Trip” Cox III
Originally written in November 2006; edited April 2007


So much depends on one word: alone.

That word created a rift in Western Christianity in the 16th Century. And the Church has yet to recover.

The Catholic Church had always taught that sinners are saved by the grace of God, and that faith is a means through which we obtain that grace. But Martin Luther insisted that God’s grace was obtained through faith alone (or in Latin, sola fide). Nothing else factored into our justification. Not good works. Not obedience to Christ. Only faith.

When facing correction, Luther stood his ground. When the Catholic Church did not change her teaching to conform to his, he condemned the Papacy as Anti-Christ because he believed the Pope proclaimed a false gospel. To this day, millions of well-meaning, Christ-loving, Protestant Christians applaud Luther’s stance and celebrate him as a hero.

In ten years, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation – considered to have begun on October 31, 1517 [1] – will be marked. Should we cheer and celebrate this date as the rediscovery of the true gospel? [2] Or ought we instead mourn and repent, recognizing that our foolishness and hardheadedness has separated believers into unnecessary factions?

It all depends on that one word: alone. Was Luther right in insisting that we are saved by grace through faith alone?

I contend that Luther was wrong: he did not rediscover the gospel; he misunderstood it. And this key misstep has sadly led to schism after schism in Western Christianity. I wrote this essay to point out Luther’s flawed thinking in layman’s terms. My hope is that it will lead to healing and reunification among Christians.

After careful study and much prayer, I made the decision to leave my Protestant roots – 39 years, including the last 16 years as a member of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) – and become a Catholic. I invite my fellow Christians, whether Lutheran or some other form of Protestant, to take an honest second look at the doctrine of sola fide and carefully consider why Catholic authorities were critical of Luther and other Reformers. Although this essay uses LCMS teachings as a framework, non-Lutherans will likely see these doctrines in their own denominations, and so find this essay helpful.

It’s uncomfortable to engage in theological self-critique – I know this from personal experience – but I think we must to be faithful to the Truth. And we must remember that this Truth is no philosophical abstraction. Truth is a Person we all claim to follow:

John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [3]

By Faith Alone?

Martin Luther taught that justification by God’s grace through faith alone is the doctrine by which the Church stands or falls. [4] The question of justification was the central point of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and is the doctrine that separates Protestants from Catholics to this day.

But is justification by faith alone – also called the doctrine of sola fide after the Latin phrase – taught in the Christian Scriptures?

Lutherans and other Protestants claim that it is. For example, the website for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) puts it this way:

The Biblical view is that justification is God’s declaration of our complete righteousness and total forgiveness, apart from any works. This gift is received by faith alone – apart from works (Rom. 3:28; Eph. 2:8-9). [5]

For reference, the two Scriptures cited above are as follows:

Romans 3:28 – For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

In my years as a Protestant, it seemed quite evident that these verses clearly teach that faith alone saves us and that works play no role in our justification. But look closely: In Romans 3:28, Paul is not condemning all works, but only observance to the Mosaic Law. In Ephesians 2:8-9, note that Paul is contrasting grace and works, not faith and works (“…by grace…not by works”).

Paul Teaches Faith and Works

But if Paul is not teaching that we are justified by God’s grace through faith alone, what is he teaching? Paul teaches that:

1. Not all works are condemned – Paul nowhere condemns all types of works, but he does warn us to avoid a works-righteousness attitude that excludes God’s grace. Some people attempt to obligate God to reward them with salvation for outwardly performing certain acts. Paul stresses that such works – outward obedience to the law without love for God, faith in God or reliance upon the grace of God – will not save a person:

Galatians 5:4 – You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

2. Faith and obedience (i.e., works) are interconnected – Those who cite Romans 3:28 in support of a faith-alone theology fail to see that particular verse in context. In the opening of that same epistle, Paul makes it clear that faith and works of obedience are interconnected:

Romans 1:5 – Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. (or “…the obedience of faith” as translated in the NASB)

3. Our obedience factors into our justification – Another verse in Paul’s letter to the Romans helps put Romans 3:28 in context. Consider this verse where Paul explicitly teaches that works are required for our justification:

Romans 2:13 – For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Or as the NASB translation puts it: “…the doers of the Law will be justified.”)

4. Faith conjoined with works of righteousness, not “faith alone,” is what counts – Paul also teaches that faith is conjoined with actions, expressions or works of love. Faith is not alone:

Galatians 5:6 – The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Not By Faith Alone

Another key point about Romans 3:28 and Ephesians 2:8-9, cited earlier, is that neither passage uses the phrase “faith alone.” However, the phrase “faith alone” does appear in Scripture, but only once – where it is rejected:

James 2:24 – You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

In context, James had just described that faith without works is dead and used the example of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. It was not Abraham’s faith alone that justified him before God, but his obedience in faith. Here is the context:

James 2:21-24 – …do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

What an embarrassment to the Lutheran and Protestant position! Scripture directly states that we are not justified by faith alone. We are justified by faith and works.

The Lutheran Defense

What are Lutherans to make of this? How did Luther and his followers deal with the absence of a positive use of “faith alone” in the Bible and the rejection of it in the book of James?

Martin Luther handled it two ways: in his 1522 translation of the Bible into German, Luther altered the text of Romans 3:28 and strongly considered removing James’ epistle from the New Testament.

Later, his colleague Philip Melanchthon offered a novel interpretation of James 2:24 in an attempt to fit the passage into Lutheran theology.

A Little Addition

Let’s look at the Romans passage first. Here it is again:

Romans 3:28 – For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

And here is what Luther did to the passage in his translation [6]:

Romans 3:28 – For we maintain that a man is justified by faith alone apart from observing the law.

Notice how the word “alone” was added. When his opponents challenged him about adding the word “alone” to this passage, here’s what Luther wrote in his defense in An Open Letter On Translating, penned in 1530:

…the Papists are causing a great fuss because St. Paul’s text does not contain the word sola (alone), and that my changing of the words of God is not to be tolerated. …if your Papist wishes to make a great fuss about the word “alone” (sola), say this to him: “Dr. Martin Luther will have it so…” …I will it, I command it; my will is reason enough… “Luther will have it so, and he says that he is a doctor above all the papal doctors.” Let it remain at that. …For you and our people, however, I shall show why I used the word “sola” − even though in Romans 3 it wasn’t “sola” I used but “solum” or “tantum”… St. Paul’s meaning, urgently necessitated and demanded it. …he rejects all works so completely as to say that the works of the Law, though it is God’s law and word, do not aid us in justification. …when all works are so completely rejected − which must mean faith alone justifies − whoever would speak plainly and clearly about this rejection of works would have to say “Faith alone justifies and not works.” The matter itself and the nature of language necessitates it. [7]

Luther’s defense is basically (1) that he is a superior translator than any Catholic scholar and (2) that Paul must mean that faith alone justifies – even though Paul did not write this in his own words, Luther was convinced that Paul implied it.

Luther was wrong. Paul meant what Paul wrote – and he did not write “faith alone.” In his translation of Romans 3:28, Luther forced his theology onto the text, rather that deriving his theology from the text. Is it any wonder why the Catholic Church condemned Luther’s translation of the Bible? The Church sought to suppress the book, rather than see this mistranslation lead the faithful astray.

One of Luther’s close friends and an important theologian of early Lutheranism, Philip Melanchthon also responded to those who criticized the Lutheran use of the term “alone” in regards to faith and justification. In the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Melanchthon wrote:

The particle alone offends some, although even Paul says, Rom. 3, 28: We conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law. Again, Eph. 2, 8: It is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. Again, Rom. 3, 24: Being justified freely. If the exclusive alone displeases, let them remove from Paul also the exclusives freely, not of works, it is the gift, etc. For these also are [very strong] exclusives. [8]

Melanchthon misses the point. Protestants had adopted the slogan “sola fide” (or “faith alone”) based on Luther’s addition of a word (“alone”) that was not present in the original text of Romans 3:28. Luther’s critics were not objecting to other exclusives elsewhere in Paul’s writings because these exclusive terms were present in the original texts. Melanchton’s argument makes no sense!

The bottom line: Luther forced a word into the text of Romans 3:28 that did not belong there to make a case for his “faith alone” teaching.

Some Contemplated Subtraction

When Luther encountered James’ epistle – which explicitly teaches that we are not justified by faith alone – he did not reconsider his theology. Rather, his response was to question the canonicity of James and place it in the back of his translation, as a type of New Testament apocrypha.

In the Preface to the New Testament in his 1522 translation of the Bible, Luther wrote:

From all this you can now judge all the books and decide among them which are the best. …John’s Gospel is the one, tender, true chief Gospel, far, far to be preferred to the other three and placed high above them. So, too, the Epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter far surpass the other three Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke. …In a word, St. John’s Gospel and his first Epistle, St. Paul’s Epistles, especially Romans, Galatians and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first Epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and good for you to know, even though you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’ Epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to them; for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it. [9]

Luther thought that some New Testament writings were of greater value than others. By what authority does he do this? Ought we not give all books of Scripture equal weight in establishing sound theology?

In another writing, Luther commented that he’d like to get rid of James altogether:

That epistle of James gives us much trouble, for the papists embrace it alone and leave out all the rest. Up to this point I have been accustomed just to deal with and interpret it according to the sense of the rest of the Scriptures. For you will judge that none of it must be set forth contrary to manifest Holy Scripture. Accordingly, if they will not admit my interpretations, then I shall make rubble also of it. I almost feel like throwing Jimmy into the stove[10]

In his Preface to James and Jude in his 1522 translation of the Bible, Luther wrote:

I do not regard it [the Epistle of James] as the writing of an apostle… In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works (2:24). … This fault proves that this epistle is not the work of any apostle. … He mangles the Scriptures and thereby opposes Paul and all Scripture. … Therefore I will not have him in my Bible to be numbered among the true chief books… [11]

To his credit, Luther kept James in his translation of the Bible, although it appears that he strongly considered excluding it. However, it’s worth noting that Luther placed James and three other books at the back of his translation, as a type of New Testament apocrypha. According to Jaroslav Pelikan, one of the most highly regarded Lutheran scholars of the 20th century [12]:

In terms of order, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation come last in Luther’s New Testament because of his negative estimate of their apostolicity. In a catalogue of  “The Books of the New Testament” which followed immediately upon his Preface to the New Testament…Luther regularly listed these four –without numbers – at the bottom of a list in which he named the other twenty-three books, in the order in which they still appear in English Bibles, and numbered them consecutively from 1-23…a procedure identical to that with which he also listed the books of the Apocrypha. [13]

Luther and other Reformers placed an emphasis on the writings of Paul – or at least their flawed understandings of Paul. When encountering verses that were not in line with their faith alone interpretation, they had two options: (1) reconsider their interpretation and draw more accurate conclusions based on a balance of all Scripture; or (2) reject or tamper with the books of the Bible that taught what they felt was contrary to their theology.

Regrettably, Luther and the Reformers took the second option.

An Adjusted Apology

Philip Melanchthon offered another Lutheran response to James 2:24’s rejection of sola fide. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession attempted to prove how the Epistle of James did not contradict Lutheran teaching:

From James 2, 24 they [our adversaries] cite: Ye see, then, how by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone. Nor is any other passage supposed to be more contrary to our belief. But the reply is easy and plain. If the adversaries do not attach their own opinions concerning the merits of works, the words of James have in them nothing that is of disadvantage. …

For he speaks of the works of those who have been justified, who have already been reconciled and accepted, and have obtained remission of sins. …

Therefore James does not contradict St. Paul, and does not say that by our works we merit, etc. … [14]

This is a weak defense. James 2:24 has clear cause-and-effect wording when it explains that a person is “justified by works.” Yet Melanchthon claims that James is speaking of the works done by a person who is already justified, who has “already been reconciled and accepted.” He further has the audacity to claim that the Catholics “attach their own opinions” to their interpretation. It seems far more likely that Melanchthon attached his opinion to the verse while Catholic authorities were taking the passage at face value and being true to the intent of the sacred author.

This “rebuttal” of James 2:24 also provides an interesting reversal of Lutheran historical opinion. As cited earlier, Martin Luther’s 1522 Preface to James and Jude insisted that the Epistle of James “is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works (2:24). … He mangles the Scriptures and thereby opposes Paul and all Scripture.” But Philip Melanchthon’s Apology of the Augsburg Confession, written in 1531, contends: “Therefore James does not contradict St. Paul…” So which is it? Was Martin Luther right in saying that James “is flatly against Paul” or was Philip Melanchthon correct in saying there is no contradiction? One can assume that a Confessional Lutheran would side with Melanchthon in this instance, since the Apology of the Augsburg Confession is part of the Book of Concord while Luther’s Preface to James and Jude is not.

Truth Leads to Rome

Scripture teaches that both faith and works are required for our justification. The Catholic Church’s view of justification is in complete harmony with this Biblical truth:

1. We are justified by God’s free gift of grace

Some Lutherans and other non-Catholics are surprised to hear that the Catholic Church teaches that we are justified by God’s free and undeserved grace. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is a favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers in the divine nature and of eternal life. [15]

The Council of Trent – held in multiple sessions from 1545 to 1563 to defend Catholic doctrine against Protestant false teachings and to institute internal reform of abuses – also taught that no one can be justified by their own works. God’s grace is absolutely necessary:

Canon I. – If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema. [16]

Canon II. – If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema. [17]

This view harmonizes with Scripture:

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast

2. Faith is required for our justification

Also harmonizing with Ephesians 2:8-9 is the Catholic Church’s insistence that without faith no one has ever attained justification. This also comes as a surprise to many Lutherans and other Protestants, who incorrectly think that the Catholic Church teaches works righteousness. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. “Since ‘without faith it is impossible to please [God]’ and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘but he who endures to the end.’ ” [18]

The Council of Trent also taught that faith is a necessity, since it is the beginning of human salvation:

And whereas the Apostle saith, that man is justified by faith and freely, those words are to be understood in that sense which the perpetual consent of the Catholic Church hath held and expressed; to wit, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification; without which it is impossible to please God, and to come unto the fellowship of His sons: but we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification – whether faith or works – merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace. [19]

3. Works are also required for our justification

As addressed earlier, Scripture teaches that we are justified by both faith and works:

James 2:24 – You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

The Council of Trent defended the proper balance of faith and works in our justification:

Canon IX – If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema. [20]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church underscores this teaching, also taking care to emphasize that human works without grace cannot save a person:

The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit. [21]

Truth Leads Away from Lutheranism

Scripture teaches that both faith and works are required for our justification. However, the Lutheran Confessions presented in The Book of Concord say otherwise. Consider these examples, all of which contradict the teaching of James (who explicitly teaches that we are justified by works and not by faith alone) and Paul (who in essence teaches that we are justified by faith and not by works alone):

The Augsburg Confession – [Our Churches] teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. [22]

The Augsburg Confession – …our adversaries…teach that we are justified not by works only, but they conjoin faith and works, and say that we are justified by faith and works. [23]

The Formula of Concord – We believe, teach, and confess that faith alone is the means and instrument whereby we lay hold of Christ… [24]

To be a member in good standing of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, I needed to agree with the following statement:

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod accepts the Scriptures as the inspired and inerrant Word of God, and subscribes unconditionally to all the symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God. We accept the Confessions because they are drawn from the Word of God and on that account regard their doctrinal content as a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and as authoritative for all pastors, congregations and other rostered church workers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. [25]

After careful study of the Confessions and the Bible and much prayer, I found that I could no longer agree that the Lutheran understanding of the Scriptures was correct and could no longer accept the Lutheran Confessions as a true exposition of Holy Scripture.

The idea that we are justified by grace through faith alone is not supported in Scripture. Justification by grace through faith and works is what Scripture teaches – and it’s what the Catholic Church teaches and has consistently taught for nearly 2,000 years!

Allowing The Gospel

To Lutherans, sola fide is the very heart of the Gospel message. And because the Pope and the Catholic Church opposed that teaching, the Lutheran Confessions identified the office of the papacy as being Antichrist: [26]

If the adversaries defend these human services as meriting justification, grace, and the remission of sins, they simply establish the kingdom of Antichrist. For the kingdom of Antichrist is a new service of God, devised by human authority rejecting Christ, just as the kingdom of Mahomet has services and works through which it wishes to be justified before God; nor does it hold that men are gratuitously justified before God by faith, for Christ’s sake. Thus the Papacy also will be a part of the kingdom of Antichrist if it thus defends human services as justifying. For the honor is taken away from Christ when they teach that we are not justified gratuitously by faith, for Christ’s sake, but by such services… [27]

Now, it is manifest that the Roman pontiffs, with their adherents, defend [and practice] godless doctrines and godless services. And the marks [all the vices] of Antichrist plainly agree with the kingdom of the Pope and his adherents. [28]

When reading these 16th Century documents, a modern reader might dismiss the references to the Papacy being Antichrist as part of medieval rhetoric with little if any relevance today. However, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod maintains that the 16th Century allegation is still true in the 21st Century. The Synod’s Theological Commission is referenced on the LCMS website as stating:

To the extent that the papacy continues to claim as official dogma the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent which expressly anathematizes, for instance, the doctrine “that justifying faith is nothing else than trust in divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that trust alone by which we are justified,” the judgment of the Lutheran confessional writings that the papacy is the Antichrist holds. [29]

As we have demonstrated, however, the Catholic Church was and is quite right in denying sola fide. The idea that we are justified by faith alone is not taught in Scripture. In fact, Scripture teaches that both faith and works of obedience are required for justification (see James 2:24). Therefore, it is the Lutheran position that is wrong. The Catholic Church and the Papacy are defending and protecting the fullness of the Gospel, and thus are in no way against Christ (anti-Christ).

Martin Luther’s 1537 work entitled the Smalcald Articles – also part of the Lutheran Confessions – was signed by Luther and 42 others, including Philip Melanchton. Most men simply signed the document, but the following note accompanied Melancthon’s signature:

I, Philip Melanchthon, also regard [approve] the above articles as right and Christian. But regarding the Pope I hold that, if he would allow the Gospel, his superiority over the bishops which he has otherwise, is conceded to him by human right also by us, for the sake of peace and general unity of those Christians who are also under him, and may be under him hereafter. [30]

It appears that Melanchthon’s main reason for protesting the Catholic Church was his belief that the purity of the Gospel had been compromised. If only the Pope would proclaim the truth, Melanchthon would return to the Catholic Church.

Luther himself even wrote “I would have little against the Papists if they taught true doctrine.” [31]

One can assume that this sentiment is true for modern Lutherans and other Protestants. The belief that justification by faith alone is the doctrine by which the church stands or falls is the primary reason Protestants remain separate from Catholics.

But, as has been demonstrated, it was the Reformers who were wrong about justification. Now that we see that the Catholic Church has the true Gospel in its possession, and that Protestants have been in error for more than four centuries, it is only fitting for Protestants to return – it no longer makes sense to be a “protest-ant” against a true doctrine.

A Call to Unity

A short time before his crucifixion, our Lord prayed for unity in his Church:

John 17:21-22 – “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Christ linked the visible and doctrinal unity of his Church with evangelism. If we “may be one” then “the world may believe” that God the Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners.

How can we reach a fallen world unless we are truly unified?

My hope and prayer is that my fellow Christians will see the fullness of the Gospel that resides in the Catholic Church – and that the countdown to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will be a decade of healing and reunification.

About the Author

Lawson “Trip” Cox III joined the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in 2007 after 39 years as a Protestant, including the last 16 years as a member of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He lives in Georgia with his wife and two daughters.


[1] On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences – more commonly called the 95 Theses – to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. Historians consider this date to be the beginning of the Reformation.

[2] The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), has launched a worldwide evangelism campaign called Ablaze! to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. According to the LCMS website, the goal is to evangelize “100 million unreached and uncommitted people with the Gospel by 2017…” Source: http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=5248

[3] Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. In certain Scripture citations, I have added emphasis using italics. The NIV was chosen due to its popularity among Protestants and because The Concordia Self-Study Bible, produced by the official publishing house of the LCMS, uses the NIV translation.

[4] This exact wording is not Luther’s, but is a popular formulation attributed to him. Martin Luther actually wrote of justification in his Exposition on the Psalms 130.4: “If this article stands, the church stands; if it falls, the church falls.”

[5] The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod – Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification located at http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2212

[6] Of course, Luther wrote in German, not English. I’ve presented here the English equivalent. The German word “allein” was inserted by Luther into the text, which corresponds to “sola” in Latin and “alone” in English. Of note is the fact that “allein” was not removed from Romans 3:28 in later revisions. The 1545 edition of the Luther Bible reads: So halten wir nun dafür, daß der Mensch gerecht werde ohne des Gesetzes Werke, allein durch den Glauben. A searchable version of the 1545 Luther Bible is available online at http://www.biblegateway.com

[7] Martin Luther, An Open Letter On Translating, 1530. Available on the Internet through Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/272.

[8] Italics in the original. Apology of the Augsburg Confession. Article IV (II): Of Justification. Paragraph 73.

[9] Luther’s Works, volume 35, page 362. Emphasis added.

[10] From The Licentiate Examination of Heinrich Schmedenstede in Luther’s Works, 34, 317. Emphasis added.

[11] Preface to James and Jude found in Luther’s Works, 35, 396-397. Emphasis added.

[12] From 1955 to 1969, Jaraslav Pelikan edited the 55-volume Luther’s Works, which translated all of Martin Luther’s writings into English. He and his wife converted to Eastern Orthodoxy in 1998. More information can be found in his biography on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaroslav_Pelikan

[13] Luther’s Works, 35, 394, footnote 43. Emphasis added.

[14] Apology of the Augsburg Confession, 123, 125 and 130.

[15] Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1996. Emphasis in the original.

[16] Canon I from the Decree on Justification from the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent. Taken from The Council of Trent – The canons and decrees of the sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent, Ed. and trans. J. Waterworth (London: Dolman, 1848), Hanover Historical Texts Project, available online at http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent.html. Emphasis added.

[17] Canon II from the Decree on Justification from the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent.

[18] Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 161. Emphasis added.

[19] Council of Trent, Sixth Session, January 1547, Decree On Justification, Chapter VIII. Emphasis added.

[20] Canon IX from the Decree on Justification from the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent.

[21] Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2008. Emphasis in the original.

[22] The Augsburg Confession, Article VI: Of New Obedience. Emphasis added.

[23] The Augsburg Confession, Article XX: Of Good Works. Emphasis added.

[24] The Formula of Concord, III. Of The Righteousness Of Faith Before God, 5. Emphasis added.

[25] http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=522. Emphasis added.

[26] Opposition to sola fide is not the only reason that the Lutheran Confessions cite in identifying the Pope and the Catholic Church as Antichrist. For example, the Lutheran Reformers felt that the Bishop of Rome’s claim to primacy or leadership over other bishops is not from God. They also opposed the practice of the invocation of saints, believing that this was a man-made doctrine. Providing a defense of papal authority and the intercession of the saints is beyond the purpose of this present work. For a Catholic defense of the papacy, please refer to the book Upon This Rock by Stephen Ray. For a treatment of the role of saints, please refer to the book Any Friend of God’s is a Friend of Mine by Patrick Madrid.

[27] Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XV (VIII), Human Traditions in the Church, 18. Emphasis added.

[28] Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope, 39. Emphasis added.

[29] From The Anti-Christ and the Papacy at http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2217

[30] Smalcald Articles, signature 7. Emphasis added.

[31] From Reformation in Deutschland by Joseph Lortz, vol. I, p. 390. Cited in Karl Adam’s Roots of the Reformation, p. 30.

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