Church Fathers on Sola Fide by Matt1618 Part 1


By: Matt1618

I stated in an email to a Protestant that nobody believed in Sola Fide, or Salvation by Faith Alone for 15 centuries. He responded by showing some quotes from various Church Fathers that to him, showed that some indeed believed in Sola Fide in at least some way, even if they did not write as comprehensively on the matter as Calvin or Luther would do in the 16th century. He sent statements from these Church Fathers that he claimed showed they believed in some form of Sola Fide. I did some research on these individual Church Fathers and found that absolutely none of them believed in Sola Fide or anything close to that. Below are the contents of the letter that I was sent, and my response to that letter. I have not cut out any of his letter to me in regards to this issue. I quote directly from the Church Fathers themselves to show what they actually believed in salvation. His letter is in green. My response to him is in black.

***8/02 I have just recently updated this piece. I originally gave all the quotes from the individual books that the Church Fathers have written, but I did not state where these citations and books can be found. Here I give where these books can be found, mostly from the 38 volume Schaff edition of the Church Fathers. In this updated analysis, at the end of this, I also give the links where these quotes can be found via the reference I give. This is to give easier access to people who want to research these quotes. Also, I have directly linked all of the Church Fathers in question to both the quote in question, and the other quotes that I found. This is to provide easier access for those who want to see specific Fathers.***

A) Clement of Rome
B) Ignatius
C) Justin Martyr
D) The author of the Epistle to Diognetus
E) Cyprian
F) Athanasius
G) Basil
H) Ambrose
I) Origen
J) Jerome

Dear Matt,
You had sent me a response to a file I had sent you a while ago, and although my time is limited now, I did want to quickly clear up a common Catholic attack to us poor Protestants, that frankly, you should be ashamed for using. Your e-mail contained the statement that "for 15 CENTURIES NO ONE BELIEVED IN SOLA FIDE". Now will you be surprised to find out that this is categorically false?



I made my statement because it is categorically true. In 1500 years no one taught it, as will be evidenced by this response. What one should be ashamed for doing is calling Catholicism a cult, putting the Church that Christ founded in the same category as Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons. One of the reasons supposedly that Catholicism is a cult is because we disbelieve Sola Fide. Well, I will restate it. "for 15 CENTURIES NO ONE BELIEVED IN SOLA FIDE". Therefore, according to your theory, Christ set up a church where no one could be saved for 15 centuries. There was a total apostasy on the issue of salvation from the very beginning That theory is almost as bad as the Mormons, just 3 centuries earlier than their theory.

Below I have enclosed a recent letter to someone else who demanded I produce the evidence from history, which I did, and as usual, it leaves all Catholics speechless. I will be very interested in knowing if you will be a man of integrity and delete this erroneous belief where ever it may be contained on your website or anywhere else you may have trumpeted this claim.

This response shows that I am not speechless. I have not trumpeted it that much on my site, but this challenge makes me do so. After your prompting, this will in fact go on my site. The first thing I notice, that of all your quotations, not one of them gives a source, and when I asked you to give me the specific citations, you never responded. If I can not check (I do have 38 volumes of Church Fathers written by a Protestant publication, Philip Schaff), the citations are worthless, and I am surprised that the Catholics did not respond to you noting that fact. I note that these quotes are taken from James Buchanan, who in his book likewise just quoted, without providing specific citations makes it impossible to check the context of these quotes.

I do not even need to quote Catholic scholars to affirm that I was correct that nobody before Luther believed in Sola Fide. Before I get into the individual quotes, I will quote from an anti-Catholic, "Reformed Protestant" who likewise admits that Faith Alone is a totally new idea. Alistair McGrath, a foremost so-called "Reformed" Protestant scholar admits:

McGrath on justification and regeneration Iustitia Dei, Vol. 1
p. 182 "Although Luther regarded justification as an essentially unitary process, he nevertheless introduced a decisive break with the western theological tradition as a whole by insisting that, through his justification, man is intrinsically sinful yet extrinsically righteous."

p. 184 "The significance of the Protestant distinction between justification and regeneration is that a fundamental discontinuity has been introduced into the western theological tradition where none had existed before. Despite the astonishingly theological diversity of the late medieval period, a consensus relating to the nature of justification was maintained throughout. The Protestant understanding of the nature represents a theological novum, whereas its understanding of its mode does not."

p. 36 "Augustine demonstrates of iustitia, effected only through man's justification, demonstrates how the doctrine of justification encompasses the whole of Christian existence from the first moment of faith through the increase in righteousness before God and man, to the final perfection of that righteousness in the eschatological city. Justification is about being made just."

p. 185 "The medieval period was astonishingly faithful to the teaching of Augustine on the question of the nature of justification, where the reformers departed from it."

p. 186 "The essential feature of the Reformation doctrines of justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between justification and regeneration. Although it must be emphasized that this distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the ordo sautis, THE ESSENTIAL POINT IS THAT A NOTIONAL DISTINCTION IS MADE WHERE NONE HAD BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE. A FUNDAMENTAL DISCONTINUITY WAS INTRODUCED INTO THE WESTERN THEOLOGICAL TRADITION WHERE NONE HAD EVER EXISTED, OR EVER BEEN CONTEMPLATED BEFORE. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification - as opposed to its mode - must be regarded as a genuine theological novum."

p. 182 " Although Luther regarded justification as an essentially unitary process, he nevertheless introduced a decisive break with the western theological tradition as a whole by insisting that, through his justification, man is intrinsically sinful yet extrinsically righteous."

We see admissions from a well known, so-called "Reformed" Protestant thus, that my original statement is indeed correct. My integrity stands fully in tact, thank you. The view of the Church Fathers is What God declares, he makes righteous, unlike the Protestant view of declaration only. All church Fathers saw the pursuit of holiness (only done through God's grace) as necessary to achieve salvation, not just a nice byproduct of salvation. Another dagger to the Sola Fide (at least the Calvinist view) view is something I will leave out, but could most easily be demonstrated is the fact that all saw the sacraments as God's established means of salvation. Everyone believed in baptismal regeneration, and saw the Eucharist as intimately linked to justification. If I just quoted the Fathers on those areas, that would polish off the idea that they believed in Sola Fide. However, in this detailed response, I will show that the Fathers that you cited, all showed the Catholic view, that grace empowered works were necessary for salvation, and God makes, not only declares his children righteous. BTW, many "Reformed" Protestants try to make Augustine their hero, when he specifically wrote that works were necessary for salvation, when done in God's grace. And of course, he believed in Purgatory, and all the sacraments as also necessary. There are tons of Fathers I need not quote who also believe in the necessity of works.



In the quotes you gave, not one gave a hint of forensic justification. In the following quotations I will first give the Church Father quote that you gave, and then what he also wrote elsewhere to show that whatever he meant in these unverifiable quotes, it was not even close, with no real traces of Sola Fide at all, unless whatever he holds that you agree to is in agreement with Catholicism. I give lengthy quotations from Pope Clement of Rome (amusing that a Protestant will quote a Pope for reference) and St. Cyprian, and I will be less extensive but still fairly thorough with the others. This by no means is meant to be an exhaustive list, but this is what I could find going through my books and accessing the matching urls online.

A) Clement of


"We are not justified through ourselves, neither through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works we have done in holiness of heart, but through FAITH."

What does Pope Clement mean by faith? How about all of his statement in context? POPE Clement of Rome, The First Epistle of Clement, Chapters 30-34, found in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace ed., ed. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, Anti-Nicene Fathers (Hereafter initialed as ANF), Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1994, Vol. 1, pp. 13-14:


Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change,(3) all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. "For God," saith [the Scripture], "resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble."(4) Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. LET US CLOTHE OURSELVES WITH CONCORD AND HUMILITY, EVER EXERCISING SELF-CONTROL, STANDING FAR OFF FROM ALL WHISPERING AND EVIL-SPEAKING, BEING JUSTIFIED BY OUR WORKS, AND NOT OUR WORDS. For [the Scripture] saith, "He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous? Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking."(5) Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him.

Let us cleave then to His blessing, and consider what are the means(6) of possessing it. Let us think(7) over the things which have taken place from the beginning. For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? was it not BECAUSE HE WROUGHT RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUTH THROUGH FAITH?(8) Isaac, with perfect confidence, as if knowing what was to happen,(9) cheerfully yielded himself as a sacrifice.(10) Jacob, through reason(11) of his brother, went forth with humility from his own land, and came to Laban and served him; and there was given to him the sceptre of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him.(12) For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, "Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven." All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men. Amen

What shall we do, then, brethren? Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice of love? God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! But rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work. For the Creator and Lord of all Himself rejoices in His works. For by His infinitely great power He established the heavens, and by His incomprehensible wisdom He adorned them. He also divided the earth from the water which surrounds it, and fixed it upon the immovable foundation of His own will. The animals also which are upon it He commanded by His own word(16) into existence. So likewise, when He had formed the sea, and the living creatures which are in it, He enclosed them [within their proper bounds] by His own power. Above all,(17) with His holy and undefiled hands He formed man, the most excellent [of His creatures], and truly great through the understanding given him--the express likeness of His own image. For thus says God: "Let us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness. So God made man; male and female He created them."[1] Having thus finished all these things, He approved them, and blessed them, and said, "Increase and multiply."(2) We see,(3) then, HOW ALL RIGHTEOUS MEN HAVE BEEN DORNED WITH GOOD WORKS, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and LET US WORK THE WORK OF RIGHTEOUSNESS with our whole strength.

The good servant(4) receives the bread of his labour with confidence; the lazy and slothful cannot look his employer in the face. It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of well-doing; for of Him are all things. And thus He forewarns us: "Behold, the Lord [cometh], and His reward is before His face, TO RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS WORK."(5) He exhorts us, therefore, with our whole heart to attend to this,(6) that we be not lazy or slothful in any good work. Let our boasting and our confidence be in Him. Let us submit ourselves to His will.

Preceding this section, Clement also wrote of Rahab's justification:

Chapter 12.-The Rewards of Faith and Hospitality. Rahab.
On account of her faith and hospitality, Rahab the harlot was saved. Chapter 48 says:
Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end to this [state of things]; and let us fall down before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully be reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice of brotherly love. For [such conduct] is the gate of righteousness, which is set open for the attainment of life, as it is written, "Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go in by them, and will praise the Lord: this is the gate of the Lord: the righteous shall enter in by it." Although, therefore, many gates have been set open, yet this gate of righteousness is that gate in Christ by which blessed are all they that have entered in and have directed their way in holiness and righteousness, doing all things without disorder.

Chapter 50 says:
Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us.

Conclusion - So we see that Clement's quote (the one quote that I could find) that you took was totally out of context. When he made the quote that you noted, we see that surrounding it before and after was the necessity of works done in God's grace for salvation. He was in the quote contrasting a self-righteous holiness to the holiness that must be done in God's grace. The one that did not justify, is when one tries to justify himself, relies on his own wisdom, holiness, etc. One indeed who works on one's own power is condemned by Trent, canon 1, justification. That is what Clement was condemning, and saying that does not avail before God. He specifically speaks of justification by works in Chapter 30. Notice though that those works are done in grace, as he specifically says in that same chapter. In Chapter 31 he says Abraham was blessed (and the context is speaking of justification), because of the act of offering Isaac on the altar. In chapter 34, Clement says that in justification it is requisite to our actions to be well-doing. He gives us two choices. To be a faithful servant, we labor (in grace of course) and we get the reward of heaven. However, if we are a slothful servant, and don't labor for God, we are sent to hell. Clement is obviously referring to Mt. 24:45-51. The slothful servant gets what? weeping and gnashing of teeth. That is hell. Why, because he didn't work. Then Clement says, he forewarns us he renders accoring to our works (Rom. 2:6, Mt. 16:27). If faith alone, he wouldn't forewarn us (because our justification would be absolutely assured), and we would not fear damnation. In Chapter 48 he speaks of those can attain salvation only those who direct their ways in holiness. Thus, that direction in holiness is a cause of justification. In Chapter 50 he notes that we must keep the commandments and that love (not faith alone) forgives sins. Clement notes that works are what must be judged before God to achieve salvation, and not even a hint of forensic justification, or Sola Fide.

B) Ignatius


"For His Cross, for His death, and His resurrection, and the FAITH which is through Him, are my unpolluted monuments, and in these...I am willing to have been justified."

Letter to Polycarp 6:2 "Be pleasing to him whose soldiers you are, and whose pay you receive. May none of you be found to be a deserter. Let your baptism be your armament, your faith your helmet, your love your spear, your endurance your full suit of armor. Let your works be as your deposited withholdings, so that you may receive the back-pay which has accrued to you (ANF, Vol. 1, p. 95).

Letter to the Ephesians - Chapter 20 - Stand fast, brethren, in the faith of Jesus Christ, and in his love, in his passion, and in his resurrection. Do ye all come together in common, and individually, through grace, in one faith of God the Father, and of Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, and "the first-born of every creature, but of the seed of David according to the flesh, being under the guidance of the Comforter, in obedience to the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote which prevents us from dying, but a cleansing remedy driving away evil, (which causes) that we should live in God through Jesus Christ. (ANF, vol. 1, p. 57)

Letter to the Ephesians - Chapter 5 Let no man deceive himself; if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God.... Do ye beloved, be careful to be subject to the bishop, and the presbyters and the deacons. For he that is subject to these is obedient to Christ, who has appointed them; but he that he is disobedient to these is disobedient to Christ Jesus. And "he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."(ANF, vol. 1, p. 51)

Letter to the Magnesians - Chapter 5 - Seeing then, all things have an end, there is set before us life upon our observance of God's precepts, but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. The truly devout man is the right kind of coin, stamped by God himself. The ungodly man, again, is false coin, unlawful, spurious, counterfeit, wrought not by God, but by the devil. I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but that there is one humanity, sometimes belonging to God, and sometimes to the devil. If any one is truly religious, he is a man of God; but if he is irreligious, he is a man of the devil, made such, not by nature, but by his own choice. The unbelieving bear the image of the prince of wickedness. The believing possess the image of their Prince, God the Father, and Jesus Christ, through whom, if we are not in readiness to die for the truth into his passion, his life is not in us. (ANF, vol. 1, p. 61)

Conclusion - In Ignatius we have one who says that in order for one to attain eternal life we need to partake of the Eucharist and drive away, not cover, sin. We see the Catholic concept of merit as availing before God. One must partake of the sacrifice (note altar) of the Eucharist. One must obey the bishop in order to partake of eternal life. Then we see Ignatius say that if one wants to partake of eternal life, one must be obedient even until death. If one backslides and stays backslidden, the person is eternally lost. Not a hint of Sola Fide.

C) Justin Martyr


C)"No longer by the blood of goats...are sins purged, BUT BY FAITH, through the blood of Christ..."

First Apology 43 We have learned from the prophets and we hold it as true that punishments and chastisements and good rewards are distributed according to the merit of each man's actions. Were this not the case, and were all things to happen according to the decree of fate, there would be nothing at all in our power. If fate decrees that this man is to be good and that one wicked, then neither is the former to be praised nor the latter to be blamed. (ANF, vol. 1, p. 177)

. Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 45 - Since those who did that which is universally, naturally, and eternally good are pleasing to God, they shall be saved through this Christ in the resurrection equally with those righteous men who were before them, namely Noah, and Enoch, and Jacob, and who have known this Christ, Son of God. (ANF, vol. 1, p. 217)

The First Apology of Justin - chapter 21 - And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue; and we believe that those who live wickedly and do not repent are punished in everlasting fire. (ANF, vol. 1, p. 170)

The First Apology of Justin - chapter 12 - Each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions. For if all men knew this, no one would choose wickedness even for a little, knowing that he goes to the everlasting punishment of fire. but would by all means restrain himself and adorn himself with virtue, that he might obtain the good gifts of God, and escape the punishments(ANF, vol. 1, p. 166). The First Apology of Justin - chapter 16 For not those who make profession, but those who do the works, shall be saved, according to his word: "not everyone who saith to me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. By their works ye shall know them and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast in to the fire. (Mt. 7:17-21)" (ANF, vol. 1, p. 177)

Conclusion - St. Justin Martyr shows that one must do works in order to be saved. One must adorn himself with good works in order to be saved.. One must partake of God's divine nature and reflect God's holiness in their lives in order to attain everlasting life. Not a hint of Sola Fide.

D) The author of the Epistle to Diognetus


For what, save His righteousness, could cover our sins? In whom...could we be justified, save in the Son of God ALONE?"

The author of the Epistle to Diognetus 8 - He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of Gob, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God BE MADE ABLE. (ANF, vol. 1, p. 28)

The author of the Epistle to Diognetus 8 Having therefore convinced us in the FORMER TIME THAT OUR NATURE WAS UNABLE to attain to life, and having now revealed the savior who is able to save even those things which it was formerly impossible to save, by both these facts he desired to lead us to trust in his kindness, to esteem him our nourisher, Father, Teacher, counselor, Healer, our Wisdom , Light, Honour, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious concerning clothing and food.

He who takes upon himself the burden of his neighbour; he who, in whatsoever respect he may be superior, is ready to benefit another who is deficient; he who whatsoever thing he has received from God, by distributing these to the needy, becomes a god to those who receive his benefits: he is an imitator of God. Then thou shalt see, while still on earth that God in the heavens rules over the universe; then thou shalt see, while still on earth that God in the heavens rules over the universe; then thou shalt begin to speak the mysteries of God; then shalt thou both love and admire those that suffer punishment because they will not deny God (ANF, vol. 1, p. 177)

Conclusion - In this very short letter, there is not much in regards to justification. But of what is there, we see that what justifies is a making just, not a mere declaring just. Our own righteousness and works without grace merits nothing before God (Trent, canon 1, justification). God's grace does not merely cover us but makes us able. What was in the former nature unable to be just in God's sight is cleansed now by God's grace to merit justification. Nothing about a pile of dung just covered with snow (Luther). Not a hint of Sola Fide.

E) Cyprian


"If Abraham believed in God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness, then each one...who lives by faith, is found to be a righteous person..."

Treatise 1, On the Unity of the Catholic Church 15, 1st ed. [A.D. 251]).The Lord denounces [Christian evildoers], and says, 'Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and in Your name have cast out devils, and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity' [Matt. 7:21-23]. There is need of righteousness, that one may deserve well of God the Judge; we must obey His precepts and warnings, that our merits may receive their reward (ANF, vol. 5, p. 426).

Treatise 8, Works and Almsgivings 14 [A.D. 253You therefore, who are rich and wealthy, buy for yourself of Christ gold tried by fire; that you may be pure gold, with your filth burnt out as if by fire, if you are purged by almsgiving and righteous works. Buy for yourself white raiment, that you who had been naked according to Adam, and were before frightful and unseemly, may be clothed with the white garment of Christ. And you who are a wealthy and rich matron in Christ's Church, anoint your eyes, not with the collyrium of the devil, but with Christ's eye-salve, that you may be able to attain to see God, by deserving well of God, both by good works and character (ANF, vol. 5, p. 480).

Treatise, 8, Works and Almsgivings - 1. But, moreover, what is that providence, and how great the clemency, that by a plan of salvation it is provided for us, that more abundant care should be taken for preserving man after he is already redeemed! For when the Lord at His advent had cured those wounds which Adam had borne,(3) and had healed the old poisons of the serpent,(4) He gave a law to the sound man and bade him sin no more, lest a worse thing should befall the sinner. We had been limited and shut up into a narrow space by the commandment of innocence. Nor would the infirmity and weakness of human frailty have any resource, unless the divine mercy, coming once more in aid, should open some way of securing salvation by pointing out works of justice and mercy, so that by almsgiving we may wash away whatever foulness we subsequently contract.(5) You therefore, who are rich and wealthy, buy for yourself of Christ gold tried by fire; that you may be pure gold, with your filth burnt out as if by fire, if you are purged by almsgiving and righteous works. Buy for yourself white raiment, that you who had been naked according to Adam, and were before frightful and unseemly, may be clothed with the white garment of Christ. And you who are a wealthy and rich matron in Christ's Church,43 anoint your eyes, not with the collyrium of the devil,44 but with Christ's eye-salve, that you may be able to attain to see God, by deserving well of God, both by good works and character (ANF, vol. 5, p. 480). .

Cyprian- Treatise 8, Works and Almsgiving - 2. The Holy Spirit speaks in the sacred Scriptures, and says, "By almsgiving and faith sins are purged."(Prov. 16:6) Not assuredly those sins which had been previously contracted, for those are purged by the blood and sanctification of Christ. Moreover, He says again, "As water extinguisheth fire, so almsgiving quencheth sin." (Sirach; 3:30) (Cyprian quotes from the Deuterocanonicals, reflecting the fact that these books rejected by Protestants were seen as Scripture)Here also it is shown and proved, that as in the layer of saving water the fire of Gehenna is extinguished, so by almsgiving and works of righteousness the flame of sins is subdued. And because in baptism remission of sins is granted once for all, constant and ceaseless labour, following the likeness of baptism, once again bestows the mercy of God. The Lord teaches this also in the Gospel. For when the disciples were pointed out, as eating and not first washing their hands, He replied and said, "He that made that which is within, made also that which is without. But give alms, and behold all things are clean unto you;"(8) teaching hereby and showing, that not the hands are to be washed, but the heart, and that the foulness from inside is to be done away rather than that from outside; but that he who shall have cleansed what is within has cleansed also that which is without; and that if the mind is cleansed, a man has begun to be clean also in skin and body. Further, admonishing, and showing whence we may be clean and purged, He added that alms must be given. He who is pitiful teaches and warns us that pity must be shown; and because He seeks to save those whom at a great cost He has redeemed, He teaches that those who, after the grace of baptism, have become foul, may once more be cleansed (ANF, vol. 5, p. 476).

Cyprian- Treatise 8, Works and Almsgiving - 5. The remedies for propitiating God are given in the words of God Himself; the divine instructions have taught what sinners ought to do, that by works of righteousness God is satisfied, that with the deserts of mercy sins are cleansed. And in Solomon we read, "Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and these shall intercede for thee from all evil."(Sirach 29:12) And again: "Whoso stoppeth his ears that he may not hear the weak, he also shall call upon God, and there will be none to hear him."(Prov. 21:13) For he shall not be able to deserve the mercy of the Lord, who himself shall not have been merciful; nor shall he obtain aught from the divine pity in his prayers, who shall not have been humane towards the poor man's prayer. And this also the Holy Spirit declares in the Psalms, and proves, saying, Blessed is he that considereth of the poor and needy; the Lord will deliver him in the evil day."(Ps. 12:1) Remembering which precepts, Daniel, when king Nebuchodonosor was in anxiety, being frightened by an adverse dream, gave him, for the turning away of evils, a remedy to obtain the divine help, saying, "Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to thee; and redeem thy sins by almsgivings, and thine unrighteousness by mercies to the poor, and God will be patient(6) to thy sins."(Dan. 4:27) And as the king did not obey him, he underwent the misfortunes and mischiefs which he had seen, and which he might have escaped and avoided had he redeemed his sins by almsgiving. Raphael the angel also witnesses the like, and exhorts that alms should be freely and liberally bestowed, saying, "Prayer is good, with fasting and alms; because alms doth deliver from death, and it purgeth away sins."(Tobit 12:8, 9) (Cyprian quotes from a Deuterocanonical book as Scripture again) He shows that our prayers and fastings are of less avail, unless they are aided by almsgiving; that entreaties alone are of little force to obtain what they seek, unless they be made sufficient(9) by the addition of deeds and good works (ANF, vol. 5, p. 477).

Conclusion - Cyprian goes so far as to say that sins are purged by our works!!! Need any comment be made? How anybody can twist Cyprian to believe in Sola Fide? They obviously have not read Cyprian. No hint of Sola Fide.

F) Athanasius


"Not by these, i.e. works, but by FAITH, a man is justified as was Abraham...IN NO OTHER MANNER can there be redemption..."

Festal letter 11, 338 AD. 7 - Hence meditation on the law is necessary, my beloved, and uninterrupted converse with virtue, 'that the saint may lack nothing, but be perfect to every good works[2 Tim. 3:17].' For by these things is the promise of eternal life, as Paul wrote to Timothy, calling constant meditation exercise, and saying, 'Exercise thyself unto godliness; for bodily exercise profiteth little; but godliness is profitable for all things, since it has the promise of the present life, and of that which is eternal[20] Philip Schaff and Henry Wace ed. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series (Hereafter initialed as NPNP2), Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1994, Vol. 4, pp. 535) .'

Festal Letter 11. 10 For of these two things we speak of - faith and godliness-the hope is the same even everlasting life; for he saith, 'Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life.' And 'exercise thyself unto godliness, for it hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.' (1 Tim. 4:7,8)….and when he has been practiced by exercise in godliness, he will lay hold on the confession of faith, which also Paul, after he had fought the fight, possessed, namely, the crown of righteousness which was laid up; which the righteous Judge will give, not to him alone, but to all who are like him (NPNP2, vol. 4, p. 536).

Festal Letter 14. 2 He purifies our souls, as Jeremiah the prophet says in a certain place, 'Stand in the ways and see, and enquire, and look which is the good path, and ye shall find in it cleansing for your souls (Jer. 6:16). Of old time, the blood of he-goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled upon those who were unclean, were fit only to purify the flesh; but now through the grace of God the Word, every man is thoroughly CLEANSED (NPNP2, vol. 4, p. 542) .

Incarnation of the Word - 56. 4 He is to come, no more to suffer, but thenceforth to render to all the fruit of his own cross, that is, the resurrection and incorruption; and no longer to be judged, but to judge all, by what each has done in the body, whether good or evil; where there is laid up for the good the kingdom of heaven, but for them that have done evil everlasting fire and outer darkness. For thus the Lord himself also says: "Henceforth ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven in the glory of the Father. Matt. 25:31" (Matt's interjection - By the way, how anybody say they believe in the bible read Matt. 25:31-46 and believe in salvation by faith alone is beyond me)…For according to the blessed Paul: "We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive according as he hath done in the body whether it be good or bad." (NPNP2, vol. 4, p. 66).

Conclusion - Faith is not just a trust and belief in Christ's righteousness, according to Athanasius. Faith is godliness. How one lives his life is what is judged and determinative of their final destiny before God in the final judgement, not merely whether one has received Christ's imputed righteousness. God's grace purifies and that purification is what avails before God in the final judgment. Another aspect of Athanasius is that through God's grace man is divinized (actually made partakers of the divine nature, and that partaking of nature is intimately connected with justification) but not directly related so no quotations in that area. One thing, it is that Sola Fide is the farthest thing from Athanasius' mind. Not a hint of Sola Fide.




G) Basil


"This is the true and perfect glorying in be justified by FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST..."

On Psalm 114, no. 5 - "Turn to your rest; for the Lord has been kind to you." Eternal rest awaits those who have struggled through the present life observant of the laws, not as payment owed for their works, but bestowed as a gift of the munificent God on those who have hoped in him. William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1979, p. 22.

On the Spirit, Chap. 16, 40 They, then, that were sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption,(7) and preserve pure anti undiminished the first fruits which they received of the Spirit, are they that shall hear the words "well done thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things."(8) In like manner they which have grieved the Holy Spirit by the wickedness of their ways, or have not wrought for Him that gave to them, shall be deprived of what they have received, their grace being transferred to others; or, according to one of the evangelists, they shall even be wholly cut asunder,(9)--the cutting asunder meaning complete separation from the Spirit (NPNP2, vol. 8, p. 25).

Letter 174 - Truly blessed is the soul, which by night and by day has no other anxiety than how, when the great day comes wherein all creation shall stand before the Judge and shall give an account for its deeds, she too may be able easily to get quit of the reckoning of life. For he who keeps that day and that hour ever before him, and is ever meditating upon the defence to be made before the tribunal where no excuses will avail, will sin not at all, or not seriously, for we begin to sin when there is a lack of the fear of God in us.... Even while we are living this life in the flesh, prayer will be a mighty helper to as, and when we are departing hence it will be a sufficient provision for us on the journey to the world to come (NPNP2, vol. 8, p. 220).

Conclusion - Faith Alone with Basil means that this faith must struggle along and by God's grace merit salvation. Prayer, and reliance upon the Spirit is a process that must be relied upon to achieve eternal life. Not a hint of Sola Fide.

H) Ambrose


"Without the works of the law, but by FAITH ALONE...there is therefore no need of the law, since through FAITH ALONE, an ungodly man is justified..."

Duties of the Clergy, Book 1, 11.39 - Further, he bestows more on thee than thou on him, since he is thy debtor in regard to thy salvation. If thou clothe the naked, thou clothest thyself with righteousness; if thou bring the stranger under thy roof, if thou support the needy, he procures for thee the friendship of the saints and eternal habitations. That is no small recompense. Thou sowest earthly things and receivest heavenly... Not again is nay one more blessed than he who is sensible to the needs of the poor, and the hardships of the weak and helpless. In the day of judgment he will receive salvation from the Lord. Whom he will have as his debtor for the mercy he has shown (NPNP2, vol. 10, p. 7).

Duties of the Clergy, Book 1, 15.57-58 Why do sinners have abundance of wealth and riches, and fare sumptuously, and have no grief or sorrow; whilst the upright are in want, and are punished by the loss of wives or children? Now, that parable to the gospel ought to satisfy persons like these; (Luke 16:19 ff) for the rich man was clothed in purple and fine linen, and dined sumptuously every day; but the beggar, full of sores, used to gather the crumbs of his table. After the death the two, however, the beggar was in Abraham's bosom in rest; the rich man was in torment. Is it not plain from this that rewards and punishments according to deserts await one after death? 58 And surely this is but right. For in a contest there is much labour needed-and after the contest victory falls to some, to others disgrace. Is the palm ever given or the crown granted before the course is finished? Paul writes well; He says: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Tim. 4:7-8)." In that day," he says he will give it-not here. Here he fought, in labours, in dangers, in shipwrecks, like a good wrestler; for he knew how that "through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God." Matt. 5:3. Therefore no one can receive a reward, unless he has striven lawfully; nor is the victory a glorious one, unless the contest also has been toilsome (NPNP2, vol. 10, pp. 10-11).

Duties of the Clergy - Book 2, 2.5 But the sacred Scriptures say that eternal life rests on a knowledge of divine things and on the fruit of good works. The Gospel bears witness to both these statements. For the Lord Jesus spoke thus of knowledge: "This is eternal life, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent,"(Jn. 17:3) About works He gives this answer: "Every one that hath forsaken house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life."(Mt. 19:29) (NPNP2, vol. 10, p. 44).

Concerning Repentance, Book 2. 5.35-36 But the apostles, having this baptism according to the direction of Christ, taught repentance, promised forgiveness, and remitted guilt, as David taught when he said: "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin."(Psalm 32:1-4, quoted by Paul in Rom. 4:7-8) He calls each blessed both him whose sins are remitted by the font, and him whose sin is covered by good works. For he who repents ought not only to wash away his sin by his tears, but also to cover and hide his former transgressions by amended deeds, that sin may not be imputed to him. 36. Let us, then, cover our falls by our subsequent acts; let us purify ourselves by tears, that the Lord our God may hear us when we lament, as He heard Ephraim when weeping, as it is written: "I have surely heard Ephraim weeping." (Jer. 31:18) And He expressly repeats the very words of Ephraim: "Thou hast chastised me and I was chastised, like a calf I was not trained (Jer. 31:18)." (NPNP2, vol. 10, p. 350).

Conclusion - Ambrose obviously does not mean the Luther or Calvin version of Faith Alone. We see that the judgement of works is not just on who gets extra rewards for believers, but one's works determine whether one goes to heaven or one goes to hell. We also see a text that is often taken out of context by those who quote Paul in Romans, Romans 4:7-8, where Ambrose quoting the apostle as showing the necessity of good works!!! He even shows penance as necessary to wipe out past sin. And again it is only God's grace empowered works that avail before God. No hint of Sola Fide.

I) Origen


"Through FAITH, without the works of the law, the thief was justified...justified through his confession ALONE."

DE PRINCIPIIS, BOOK 3 1.6 The Saviour also saying, "I say unto you, Resist not evil;"[9] and, "Whoever shall be angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment;"[10] and, "Whosoever shall look upon a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart;"[12] and in issuing certain other commands,--conveys no other meaning than this, that it is in our own power to observe what is commanded. And therefore we are rightly rendered liable to condemnation if we transgress those commandments which we are able to keep. And hence He Himself also declares: "Every one who hears my words, and doeth them, I will show to whom he is like: he is like a wise man who built his house upon a rock," etc.[1] So also the declaration: "Whoso heareth these things, and doeth them not, is like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand," etc.[3] Even the words addressed to those who are on His right hand, "Come unto Me, all ye blessed of My Father," etc.; "for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink,"[5] manifestly show that it depended upon themselves, that either these should be deserving of praise for doing what was commanded and receiving what was promised, or those deserving of censure who either heard or received the contrary, and to whom it was said, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire (Mt. 25:34, etc.)" Let us observe also, that the Apostle Paul addresses us as having power over our own will, and as possessing in ourselves the causes either of our salvation or of our ruin: "Dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and of His patience, and of His long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But, according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou art treasuring up for thyself wrath on the day of judgment and of the revelation of the just judgment of God, who will render to every one according to his work: to those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and immortality, eternal life;[8] while to those who are contentious, and believe not the truth, but who believe iniquity, anger, indignation, tribulation, and distress, on every soul of man that worketh evil, on the Jew first, and (afterwards) on the Greek; but glory, and honour, and peace to every one that doeth good, to the Jew first, and (afterwards) to the Greek."[11] You will find also innumerable other passages in holy Scripture, which manifestly show that we possess freedom of will. Otherwise there would be a contrariety in commandments being given us, by observing which we may be saved, or by transgressing which we may be condemned, if the power of keeping them were not implanted in us (ANF, Vol. 4, p. 306).

DE PRINCIPIIS, BOOK 3 1.20 Whether it is possible for the apostle to contradict himself? And if this cannot be imagined of an apostle, how shall he appear, according to them, to be just in blaming those who committed fornication in Corinth, or those who sinned, and did not repent of their unchastity, and fornication, and uncleanness, which they had committed? How, also, does he greatly praise those who acted rightly, like the house of Onesiphorus, saying, "The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: but, when he had come to Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day."[5] Now it is not consistent with apostolic gravity to blame him who is worthy of blame, i.e., who has sinned, and greatly to praise him who is deserving of praise for his good works; and again, as if it were in no one's power to do any good or evil, to say that it was the Creator's doing that every one should act virtuously or wickedly, seeing He makes one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour. And how can he add that statement, "We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one of us may receive in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad? "[6] For what reward of good will be conferred on him who could not commit evil, being formed by the Creator to that very end? or what punishment will deservedly be inflicted on him who was unable to do good in consequence of the creative act of his Maker?[1] Then, again, how is not this opposed to that other declaration elsewhere, that "in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work."[4] He, accordingly, who purges himself, is made a vessel unto honour, while he who has disdained to cleanse himself from his impurity is made a vessel unto dishonour. From such declarations, in my opinion, the cause of our actions can in no degree be referred to the Creator. For God the Creator makes a certain vessel unto honour, and other vessels to dishonour; but that vessel which has cleansed itself from all impurity He makes a vessel unto honour, while that which has stained itself with the filth of vice He makes a vessel unto dishonour. The conclusion from which, accordingly, is this, that the cause of each one's actions is a pre-existing one; and then every one, according to his deserts, is made by God either a vessel unto honour or dishonour. Therefore every individual vessel has furnished to its Creator out of itself the causes and occasions of its being formed by Him to be either a vessel unto honour or one unto dishonour(ANF, Vol. 4, p. 324).

Conclusion - Origen spends a lot of time in this section showing that one's judgment showing free will but most of all how this free will gives people the ability to provide actions that will either merit salvation or condemnation. Judgment is based on actions. Not a hint of Sola Fide.

J) Jerome


"When an ungodly man is converted, God justifies him THROUGH FAITH ALONE."

Jerome - hmm, does Sola Fide show a need for Purgatory? Let us see whether Jerome agrees (or even comes close) with the Protestant concept of Sola Fide.

Commentary on Psalms 18, 66, 24, Just as we believe there are eternal torments for the devil and all the naysayers and impious persons who say in their heart: "There is not God." So too, for sinners and impious persons who are, nevertheless, Christians, whose works are to be tried in the fire and purged, we think that the sentence of the Judge will be tempered and blended with clemency.

Against Jovinianus, Book 2, 22 - To the Corinthians he says: (1 Cor. 3:6-15) "I have planted, Apollos watered: but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth: but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God, ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." And again elsewhere: "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder I laid a foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay, than thai which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if any man buildeth on the foundation, gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble: each man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall reveal it, because it is revealed in fire: and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire." If the man whose work is burnt and is to suffer the loss of his labour, while he himself is saved, yet not without proof of fire: it follows that if a man's work remains which he has built upon the foundation, he will be saved without probation by fire, and consequently a difference is established between one degree of salvation and another (ANF, Vol. 6, p. 405).

Against Jovianianus Book 2, 22 - As day is distinct from night, so righteousness and unrighteousness, sin and good works, Christ and Antichrist cannot blend. If we give Christ a lodging-place in our hearts, we banish the devil from thence. If we sin and the devil enter through the gate of sin, Christ will immediately withdraw. Hence David after sinning says: 2]"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation," that is, the joy which he had lost by sinning. [3]"He who saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." Christ is called the truth: [4]"I am the way, the truth, and the life." In vain do we make our boast in him whose commandments we keep not (ANF, Vol. 6, p. 388) .

Against Jovianianus Book 2, 3 - For it is not accordant with the righteousness of God to forget good works, and the fact that you have ministered and do minister to the Saints for His name's sake, and to remember sins only. The Apostle James also, knowing that the baptized can be tempted, and fall of their own free choice, says: [4]"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him." And that we may not think that we are tempted by God, as we read in Genesis Abraham was, he adds: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempteth no man. But each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full grown, bringeth forth death." God created us with free will, and we are not forced by necessity either to virtue or to vice. Otherwise, if there be necessity, there is no crown. As in good works it is God who brings them to perfection, for it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that pitieth and gives us help that we may be able to reach the goal (ANF, Vol. 6, p. 388).

Against Jovianianus Book 2, 3 - As in good works it is God who brings them to perfection, for it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that pitieth and gives us help that we may be able to reach the goal: so in things wicked and sinful, the seeds within us give the impulse, and these are brought to maturity by the devil. When he sees that we are building upon the foundation of Christ, hay, wood, stubble, then he applies the match. Let us then build gold, silver, costly stones, and he will not venture to tempt us: although even thus there is not sure and safe possession . For the lion lurks in ambush to slay the innocent. Sirach 37:5 "Potters' vessels are proved by the furnace, and just men by the trial of tribulation." And in another place it is written: Sirach 2:1 "My son, when thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thyself for temptation." Again, the same James says:James 1:22 "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only. For if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." It was useless to warn them to add works to faith, if they could not sin after baptism.(ANF, Vol. 6, p. 389-390).

Conclusion - The fact that St. Jerome believes in purgatory should do away with any concept of Sola Fide. If one is in God's grace he must avoid mortal sins to achieve eternal life, and good works is necessarily tied to salvation. In order to keep Christ and salvation, we must stay faithful to him. God gives us the grace to maintain this state of grace, but there is a real possibility of losing one's salvation. He even quotes Romans 9, a passage used by Calvinists often, to show this very possibility. BTW, a side note, St. Jerome, who is often quoted by some as saying he doesn't believe that the Deuterocanonical books should be used as Scripture, actually quotes Sirach as proof of the necessity of works. So much for him not seeing the Deuterocanonical books as Scripture. So much for any concept of Sola Fide.

K) Anselm: "If God would justify you, say, 'Lord, I plead the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and thy judgment....cover thyself with this ALONE."

L) Bernard: "Being justified by FAITH ALONE, he shall have peace with God."

I do not have in book form the writings of these two saints, but as I have conclusively demonstrated, when the Fathers use the term faith, and even Faith alone, it means Faith working in love (Gal. 5) that is obedient (Rom. 1:5, 6:16, 16:26) and this obedience is necessary for salvation. I have spent enough time on demonstrating the utter falsity of the assertion that Sola Fide was remotely in the mind of any of the Fathers mentioned. McGrath, Norm Geisler and Ralph McKenzie (all Protestant Apologists) have surveyed their writings (Bernard, Anselm) and they conclude likewise that Sola Fide was not a development, but a totally new idea in the 16th century. The fact that St. Bernard is a doctor of the church makes me doubt very seriously that he believed in anything like Sola Fide.

"Catholic Answers" distributes a tract I have before me, called "Seven Darned Tough Questions" wherein they make the statement that, "The doctrine of justification by faith alone originated with Luther. NO ONE (emphasis theirs) believed it before he proposed it." We may now lay that pathetic statement in the nearest coffin, and hammer it shut please, with ten horse nails for good measure.


The statement is thus vindicated and I hope you now encourage Catholic Answers now to spread more of these tracts, and forward these tracts to any who believe otherwise.



Update on sources for these quotes: Most of the citations for the Fathers that I found come from the 38 volume: Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1995. This 38 volume series is divided into three sections: There are 10 volumes of: Anti-Nicene Fathers; 14 volumes of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first Series ; and 14 volumes of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, second Series. The citations given here are from the Anti-Nicene edition and the 2nd Series of the Nicene and Post-Nicene edition. I have the books at home, but the full series is actually found online here. Each of the Fathers cited, who have quotes from the NPNF2, or ANF Schaff citations can be found online through that series with the volume cited. (Except for Vol. 10 of the Anti-Nicene Series, which is the index of all the writings. The indexes for the individual books, which was instrumental to my ability to do this research, is not available online. That is only available with the book series. The book series can be purchased here: Christian Book Distributors):


David King is an advocate for the Protestant position of Sola Fide, or justification by Faith Alone. On
Steve Ray‘s message board someone who agrees with him posted on the issue of Sola Fide a piece which has King arguing that the position of Sola Fide did not spring up in the 16th century ‘Reformation’, but had precedent from many Church Fathers. I do not believe that there were any pre16th century advocates of anything approximating Sola Fide in the Protestant sense. Here I will respond to King’s arguments. I will examine the statements of the Fathers and King’s comments as well. Now, in a prior paper, I responded to similar arguments from another advocate of Sola Fide who quoted some Fathers in an attempt to say that they believed in Sola Fide. I quoted these very same Fathers, to show that they taught the necessity of works as a cause of justification and did not believe Sola Fide even if they may have used the term 'faith alone.' In this paper, I also document that a very prominent Protestant scholar/apologist, Alister McGrath admitted that there were no Fathers who taught anything approximating Sola Fide. This paper can be found here and will be cited here throughout. Some of the Fathers that King cites in support of Sola Fide in the article I respond to here, I have documented in that aforementioned piece (St. Clement, St. Jerome, Origen, and others), that they do not mean what King argues that they do. When those specific Fathers that I have already responded to in the paper I just referred to are mentioned by King, I will refer to that paper, as I do not want to repeat here what I have already written there.

In responding to these comments I will acknowledge that individual Fathers use the term ‘Faith Alone’, but I deny that their use of that term means that they advocate ‘Sola Fide’ in the Protestant sense. I will spell the reasons out in my analysis and will also give commentary from these very same Fathers which show that it is impossible to read Sola Fide with Protestant theology into them, even if perhaps they used the term ‘Sola Fide.’ When the Fathers speak of faith, they never see faith as opposed to good works in grace, in justification. They never see faith as the only instrument of salvation, as the Protestant Sola Fide advocates do. Here the Fathers themselves will spell out the reasons that they don’t believe in justification by faith alone (in the Protestant sense). In addition, in this examination, we will see that this evidence will also destroy any concept of the Fathers holding to Sola Scriptura in the sense that the Calvinist proponents argue, who adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith. And this is not even touching specifically of the Fathers speaking of the authority of tradition or the magisterium. This I will explain at the end of this examination as well.

Now, in this paper I will put in red the comments of the Protestant proponent of Sola Fide, David King. Then I will put in italics the comments of the individual Fathers that he cites supposedly in support of Sola Fide. Then I will quote elsewhere these very same Fathers with their comments in maroon. I will follow with my comments in blue. Many of these citations will be drawn from the 38 volume series of Father, edited by Protestant Philip Schaff, and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1995. This 38 volume series is divided into three sections: There are 10 volumes of: Ante-Nicene Fathers; 14 volumes of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers , first Series ; and 14 volumes of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, second Series. The citations given here are from the Ante-Nicene edition and the 2nd Series of the Nicene and Post-Nicene edition. The citations will be noted as ANF (for the Ante-Nicene series), or NPNF1 or 2 (for the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series). I also give citations from William Jurgens, in the three volume Faith of the Early Fathers, which I also will give reference to. There will also be quotes from other sources that came up in research for this project. I also want to give credit to Shawn McElhinney, Apolonio, and Joe Gallegos, who helped me in coming up with some of these quotes. Here we go with King's comments in red:

Look at some patristic support for "Sola Fide" (which is further supported by a vast body of Scriptural evidence):

I deny that there is any Scriptural evidence for Sola Fide but that is another question. There is no patristic support for it either. If there were any Fathers who translated Romans 3:28 as Sola Fide, they surely did not do so with lending that translation to Luther’s intent on interpretation of that verse. They never interpreted it in such a way that excluded grace empowered works as being instrumental to one’s justification. So if in fact they did translate Rom. 3:28 as faith alone, they surely did not pour anything even close to the same meaning as Luther did. In brief, the Protestant position on Sola Fide, or at least Sola Fide in the sense advocated by King, is that one is justified by faith as the alone instrument of justification. Yes, in justification, one’s own holiness is a necessary byproduct, according to Sola Fide proponents such as King, but that holiness can never be any of the grounds of justification. In their view in justification, one is declared righteous, where Christ’s perfect righteousness is applied in a legal sense to one's account. God punishes Jesus for our sins, and Jesus is himself a sinner who gets justly punished by God. We get Jesus’ perfect righteousness applied to our account, independent of our own actions. Good works will ensue, but is a byproduct and only demonstrates that we are truly justified. In this theolology, good works and sanctification are none of the grounds of our justification. This can be seen down below as I give portions of the Westminster Confession of faith, with its statement on justification, and where I also will give a link to the whole statement. Sacraments are not a cause of justification (Although Lutherans and some Protestants do accept baptismal regeneration, they reject five sacraments that Catholics hold to, and deny that the Eucharist is a sacrifice that forgives sins). One cannot lose one’s salvation through sinful actions (although Lutherans do believe one can unbelieve one’s way out of salvation), if one is truly saved. That is what the Calvinists (Lutherans as well) such as King think on justification. We will see that the Fathers did not have these views on justification, even if some did actually use the term ‘faith alone.’

One thing to note, that in Protestantism through Sola Scriptura, there are many different groups who claim to go by Sola Fide, justification by faith alone. In this response I am in effect focusing on a response to Sola Fide proponents such as King, from the 'reformed' camp, and Lutherans. True, there are major differences between them on baptismal regeneration and whether one can unbelieve one's way out of salvation. As the founders of the rebellion against Christ's Church though, they thought that justification was a most important issue on which their church stands or falls, and is at the root of many of the issues that divide Catholics from Protestant, I thought it would be best to address the contentions of those who promote this particular brand of Sola Fide, since Luther and Calvin were the original proponents of this. There are Protestants who would disagree with Calvin and Luther who say they go by faith alone, but would actually be closer to Catholic soteriology than they are to Luther and Calvin. I am not responding to those people. This is what Luther said, was the issue that his Church stood or fell on. I am not here discussing the views of Protestants who ultimately think that Luther and Calvin are wrong, and still say they hold to Sola Fide. Now here we will examine King’s analysis of the Fathers:

In his commentary on Romans, Fitzmyer comments that Luther was not the first to invoke sola fide in his translation of Romans.

Whether someone actually translated Rom. 3:28 as 'faith alone' is besides the point. The question is whether the Fathers, when they so translated that, meant to exclude works done in grace, or sacraments, as being instrumental in justification.

Then King notes that he is gathering evidence from Joseph Fitzmyer, who does not hold to ‘faith alone’ as interpreted by Luther as true. Fitzmyer also denies that any of the Fathers believed in Sola Fide in any sense as promoted by Luther or Calvin. It is apparent that King is misusing him. Then King proceeds to give us some Fathers who supposedly teach Sola Fide.

Origen, Commentarius in Ep. ad Romanos, cap. 3 (PG 14.952).

Origen does not teach anything even approaching Sola Fide. I show this in the following paper here: Click on the link that goes to Origen’s writings on the issue.

A) St. Hilary
B) St. Cyril of Alexandria
C) St. Bernard
D) Theodoret
E) Theodore of Mopsuestia
F) St. John Chrysostom
G) Ambrosiaster
H) Oecumenius
I) St. Bede
J) St. Thomas Aquinas
K) St. Augustine
L) Westminster Confession of Faith, Sola Fide, and Sola Scriptura

A) St. Hilary [315-367/368]


Hilary, Commentarius in Matthaeum 8:6 (PL 9.961)

Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67) on Matthew 9: This was forgiven by Christ through faith, because the Law could not yield, for faith alone justifies. Migne’s Latin: Et remissum est ab eo, quod lex laxare non poterat; fides enim sola justificat. Sancti Hilarii In Evangelium Matthaei Commentarius, PL 9:961.


Sins are forgiven through faith. Here it is apparent St. Hilary is speaking about initial justification. He does not mean or say that once one is justified, one cannot lose that justification through sin as Calvin or Luther would say. Of course, just as in other fathers, St. Hilary has faith explicitly linked to baptism so the reference to faith here does not mean that justification is without baptism. Nor does he say that following initial justification that sacraments or works are not necessary to maintain that state of justification. He just spells out here that the law without faith, in and of itself does not justify, something any Catholic would hold to.

Now, here are a few quotes from St. Hilary himself on the issue of justification. This is in his work On the Trinity, Book 9.35:

And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. (Mark 12:34) What is the meaning of such moderate praise? Believe in one God, and love Him with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy heart, and love thy neighbour as thyself; if this be the faith which makes man perfect for the Kingdom of God, why is not the Scribe already within, instead of not far from the Kingdom of Heaven? It is in another strain that He grants the Kingdom of Heaven to those who clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and visit the sick and the prisoner, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Mt. 25:34) ; or rewards the poor in spirit, Blessed are the poor in spirit: far theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 5:3, Lk. 6:20). Their gain is perfect, their possession complete, their inheritance of the kingdom prepared for them is secured. But was this young man's confession short of theirs? His ideal of duty raises love of neighbour to the level of love of self; what more did he want to attain to the perfection of good conduct? To be occasionally charitable, and ready to help, is not perfect love; but perfect love has fulfilled the whole duty of charity, when a man leaves no debt to his neighbour unpaid, but gives him as much as he gives ,himself. NPNF2, Vol. 9, p. 163.


We see here that St. Hilary understands Jesus to mean that even loving the Lord with all one’s heart and strength is insufficient before God. Love of neighbor is also essential. Works of charity are important. He notes the Matthew 25 passage, where Jesus grants those who are going to heaven, are those who fed the hungry and clothed the naked: i.e. works. Thus, St. Hilary recognizes that love, as demonstrated by the actions, must be added to faith, and is instrumental in justification, as faith without charity is insufficient by itself. Faith alone, thus, does not make one perfect. One must give of himself to others to be just before God.

Is justification by faith alone without the sacraments, as King’s version of Sola Fide points us to, sufficient before God? Well, St. Hilary argues to the contrary. He says, On the Trinity, book 9.9 the following:

the Apostle continues the dispensation of human salvation in the words. In whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the stripping off of the body of the flesh, but with the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead . We are circumcised not with a fleshly circumcision but with the circumcision of Christ, that is, we are born again into a new man; for, being buried with Him in His baptism, we must die to the old man, because the regeneration of baptism has the force of resurrection. NPNF2, Vol. 9, p. 158.


When speaking of Paul, St. Hilary notes that he sees human salvation, as noted in Colossians 2, as being born again in baptism. Thus, the sacrament of baptism is the new circumcision that makes us a new man. Not Faith instead of baptism, but in addition to it.

One of the items of utmost importance in the Sola Fide view as espoused by the “Reformers” is the idea that one gets Christ’s perfect righteousness attributed to one’s account, and thus at one’s death, one does not need further purification (for justification) because one already has that perfect righteousness. However, as the Protestant editor of the Schaff series notes about St. Hilary:

But perfect goodness is only a theoretical possibility, and Hilary is not certain of the condemnation of any except willful unbelievers. Evil is mingled in varying proportions with good in the character of men at large; God can detect it in the very best. All therefore need to be purified after death, if they are to escape condemnation of the Day of Judgment...All who are infected by sin, the heretic who has erred in ignorance among them The Theology of St. Hilary of Poitiers, Introduction, Chapter II, NPNF2, Vol. 9, p. xciii-iv.

Thus, there is no perfect alien righteousness of Jesus that is accounted to the person that stands as the basis for justification. We need a true cleansing even after death before we can face God.

In his commentary on the very gospel of Matthew that King referred us to, that supposedly shows justification by faith alone, St. Hilary writes, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew [AD 353-355], [18:8]:

[On Matthew 18:18] The power of binding and loosing given to the Apostles:- In our present condition we are all subdued by the terror of that greatest dread (The Protestant Schaff editor noted that the dread is the possibility of losing salvation). And now, out in front of that terror, He sets the irrevocable apostolic judgment, however severe, so that those whom they shall bind on earth, that is, whomsoever they leave bound in the knots of their sins; and those whom they loose, which is to say, those who by their confession receive grace unto salvation: -these, in accord with the apostolic sentence are bound or loosed also in heaven. William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 1, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1978, #855a, pp. 372-373.

There is a great dread, according to St. Hilary of being put out of God’s grace by grave sin. Christ, however, has given his Church the remedy for those sins. Thus, the Church has the power, given to it by Jesus himself, (just as the Church teaches on Matthew 18:18) to forgive sins. This is seen in the Catechism (CCC 553, 1444). Thus, if one who is in a state of grace commits a mortal sin, he needs to go to the sacrament of confession in order to get that sin forgiven. This blatantly contradicts the so-called ‘Reformers’ view of Sola Fide.

Martin Luther, in fact, the inventor of Sola Fide writes something to show that what he means by the term ‘faith alone’ is drastically different from what St. Hilary or any of the Church Fathers taught. For example, as mentioned before, although Luther did not encourage people to sin in one sense, he did not think that sins could separate one from God, unless one loses his faith in God. He wrote the following to his friend Philip Melanchthon, in a personal letter.

If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God's glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly--you too are a mighty sinner.

Luther held that no matter what one does, even committing fornication and murder 1000 times a day, that will not sever the saving relationship with God. He has absolutely no ‘terror’ in committing sins. Grace is a ‘fictitious’ grace supposedly if one can commit murder and lose salvation. However, as we saw with St. Hilary, sin can indeed put us out of God’s grace, and he gave the remedy for that sin, as the Church’s possession of the binding and loosing of sins via the confessional. In fact Luther calls the kind of grace that St. Hilary believes in as 'fictitious grace'. The contrast in theologies is stark. There is no way that St. Hilary can be appealed to as a propounder of Sola Fide.

St. Hilary says this elsewhere as well. We see further that if one needs to be forgiven of sins, one must confess it or receive eternal punishment, Commentary on the Psalms AD 365, On Psalm 521[52], #23 :

There is hope of mercy in time and in eternity; but there is confession in time only, and not in eternity. There is no confession of sins in any time except in this present life. By his own will each man is permitted and has throughout life the freedom to choose confession. But when we die we loose life and along with it the right to exercise our will. For then a law already set down unto rest or unto punishment sustains, in accord with its past exercise, the will of those withdrawing from the body. Jurgens, ibid., vol. 1, #887, p. 385.


Ones sins must be confessed, which we just saw above must be done in Church, to get those very same sins forgiven. We either get rest if we have confessed our sins in Church, or if those sins have not been forgiven via the Church’s mandate from Christ, one will get eternal punishment. It is too late after one dies. Thus, there is absolutely no ‘imputed righteousness of Christ’ applied to one’s account in a legal manner which stands as a basis for his justification. We get to heaven based on what we did or did not do in our actions.

Finally, St. Hilary shows us that election is partly based on merit. Thus, merit is salvific. Commentaries on the Psalms [On Ps. 64[65]:#5:

Blessed is he whom you have chosen and have taken up, that he may dwell in your tabernacles (Psalm 64:5). Indeed, all flesh will come, which is to say, we will be gathered together from every race of men: but whoever will be chosen, he is blessed. For many, according to the Gospel, are called, but few are chosen (Mt. 22:14). The elect are distinguished in their wedding garment, splendid in the pure and perfect body of the new birth. Election, therefore, is not a thing of haphazard judgment. It is a distinction made by selection based on merit. Blessed, then, is he whom God elects: blessed for the reason that he is worthy of election. Jurgens, ibid., vol. 1, #889a, p. 386


Thus, St. Hilary says that God’s election is based on merit of the believer, who has been made worthy, not merely declared worthy. The fact that this selection is based on the merit of the believer shows us yet again, that the Saint has absolutely no trace of Sola Fide.

Basil, Hom. de humilitate 20.3 (PG 31.529C).


Let him who boasts boast in the Lord, that Christ has been made by God for us righteousness, wisdom, justification, redemption. This is perfect and pure boasting in God, when one is not proud on account of his own righteousness but knows that he is indeed unworthy of the true righteousness and is (or has been, dedikaiwmevnon) justified solely by faith in Christ.


See Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, p. 505. Text: oJ kaucwvmeno" ejn kurivw/ kaucavsqw, legwvn o{ti Cristo;~ hJmi`n ejgenhvqh sofiva ajpo; qeou`, dikaiosuvnh te kai; aJgiasmo;" kai; ajpoluvtrwsi": i{na kaqw;" gevgraptai, JO kaucwvmeno", ejn Kurivw/ kaucavsqw. Au{ ga;r dh; hJ teleiva kai; oJlovklhro" kauvchsi~ ejn Qew/`, o{te mhvte ejpi; dikaiosuvnh/ ti~ ejpaivretai th/` eJautou`, ajll j e[gnw me;n ejndeh` o[nta eJauto;n dikaiosuvh~ ajlhqou`~, pivstei de; movnh/ th/` eij~ Cristo;n dedikaiwmevnon. Homilia XX, Homilia De Humilitate, §3, PG 31:529. In context, Basil appealed to the example of the Apostle Paul as a regenerate man in Philippians 3:8-9.


Just like Origen, St. Basil does not teach anything even approaching Sola Fide. I show this in the following paper here: Click on the section that goes to St. Basil’s writings on the issue.

St. Cyril of
Alexandria [-444]


Cyril of Alexandria, In Joannis Evangelium 10.15.7 (PG 74.368 [but alludes to Jas 2:19]).

Mr. King doesn’t even give us a quote to respond to, where he quotes Fitzmyer quoting the Latin. ‘Alluding’ to James 2:19 probably shows that he would not be speaking of faith alone, since James 2 of course is a passage which shows that faith alone does not justify anyone. Now, St. Cyril of Alexandria sees the sacraments as means of salvation, thus excluding the Sola Fide view propounded by King: For example, St. Cyril writes in his commentary The Twelve Minor Prophets, which includes Joel, section 32:


The living water of holy Baptism is given to us as if in rain, and the Bread of Life as if in wheat, and the Blood as if in wine. In addition to this there is also the use of oil, reckoned as perfecting those who have been justified in Christ through holy Baptism. St. Cyril of Alexandria, in William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 3, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1978, #2100, p. 219.


St. Cyril shows that the three sacraments are salvific. Baptism is like rain that gives lives to a parched soul. One is justified through holy baptism, not any argument that King would put forth. The Bread of Life of course speaks to the sacrament of the Eucharist as food for the soul that gives life. He speaks of confirmation as perfecting those who are justified. Well, if faith alone was the only instrument of salvation, one would already be perfected because of Christ’s alien righteousness imputed to his account.

St. Cyril also notes the anointing of sick forgives sins. Worship and Adoration,6 (A.D. 412):

If some part of your body is suffering, and you really believe that saying the words “Lord Sabaoth?” or some such appellation which divine Scripture attributes to God in respect to His nature has the power to drive that evil from you, go ahead and pronounce those words, making them a prayer for your self. You will be doing better than you would by just uttering those names, and you will be giving the glory to God and not to impure spirits. I recall also the saying in the divinely inspired Scripture: 'Is anyone among you ill? Let him call the presbyters of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he be in sins they shall be forgiven.(James 5:14-15) Jurgens, vol. 3, #2092, p. 217.


St. Cyril speaks of the necessity of partaking the Eucharist for salvation: in his Commentary on John [10:2 on John 15:1]:


The Savior Himself declares, “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me and Me In him (John 6:56).” By this statement it is to be seen that Christ does not say he will be in us only after the fashion of some relation that is solely intellectual, but also through a participation truly according to nature. Just as if someone were to entwine two pieces of wax together and melt them with a fire, so that both are made one, so too through participation in the Body of Christ and in His Precious Blood, He is united in us and we too in Him. In no other way can that corruptible nature be vivified except in being united bodily to the Body of Him who is, by His very nature, life: that is, the Only-begotten. Jurgens, vol. 3, #2116, pp. 223-24


Notice that there is no other way that our corruptible nature can be vivified except via participation in the Body and Blood of Christ. We see that not only does he understand John 6 in the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, but he also writes the following in his Commentary on Matthew [Mt. 26:27]:


He states demonstratively: “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood“(Mt. 26:26-28) “lest you might suppose the things that are seen as a figure. Rather, by some secret of the all-powerful God the things seen are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, truly offered in a sacrifice in which we, as participants, receive the life-giving and sanctifying power of Christ. Jurgens, vol. 3, #2101, p. 220.


The only way we can be united bodily to him, is by the life-giving Body and Blood of Christ. King, as a Presbyterian, sees the Eucharist as a figure. St. Cyril uses John 6 to not only speak of it as the Eucharist, but also speaks of it as giving of salvific consequences. Participation in the Body and Blood of Christ, is the only way that the corruptible nature can be brought to life. He also cites Matthew not only in an authoritative way that it speaks to the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist (thus implying transubstantiation), but that it is offered in sacrifice so that our soul is given the sanctifying and life-giving power of Christ. It is a sacrifice offered for sins. No Sola Fide advocate sees the Eucharist in that way. This is not a side issue, but speaking directly of salvation.

Let us look at another highly instructive commentary on John 6. This has salvific consequences, Commentary on John 6:53 (In Jo. 4.2), 361a & b:

Let those who from lack of understanding have not yet accepted faith in Christ therefore take heed of he saying: ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you do not have eternal life in you’ (Jn 6:53). For those who do not receive Jesus through the sacrament will continue to remain utterly bereft of any share in the life of holiness and blessedness and without any taste of it whatsoever. Cyril of Alexandria, The Early Church Fathers, Commentary on John, Routledge, London; New York : 2000 pp. 114-115.

Cyril speaks of the salvific consequences of the Eucharist. which he had already declared previously to be the Body and Blood of Christ. Now he says that those who don’t partake of this Eucharist are actually ‘utterly bereft’ of any share in the life of Jesus Christ. As this grace feeds the soul, those who are bereft of receiving Jesus through the sacrament is bereft of any share in the life of Jesus. St. Cyril would call King utterly bereft of Jesus. How King can put forward Cyril as an advocate of Sola Fide, the same person who would say that King is personally ‘bereft of any share in the life of holiness and blessedness’ is beyond me.

St. Cyril also writes in Doctrinal Questions and Answers, 8:

What Christ says about the rich man and Lazarus is cast in the style of a clever parable. The tale goes (as the Hebrews tradition has it) that there existed a certain Lazarus at that time in Jerusalem who was at death’s door with poverty and weakness, and that the Lord mentioned him, using him as an illustration to make the point clearer still. Christ had not yet descended from heaven, the resurrection had not happened and no requital of action had followed anyone, but the parable picturesquely describes a rich man living in luxury without compassion and a poor man in weakness, with the aim that the owners of wealth on earth may learn that unless they intend to be good men, bountiful and sharing, and choose to help out the necessities of the poor, they will fall under a terrible and inexorable condemnation. ibid., p. 209.


St. Cyril uses the parable given by Jesus to show that the owners of wealth must be good men, and help the poor, in order to get into heaven. The parable is cause and effect. If he is good, he goes to heaven, if he is not, he goes to hell, as the good Saint sees it. This is different from Sola Fide because Sola Fide says that one is justified by faith alone, and although good works will necessarily follow, it is never the grounds of entering heaven or hell. St. Cyril says that if a Christian just refuses to help others, they will fall under a ‘terrible and inexorable condemnation’. Nothing about going in because of faith alone.

St. Cyril also speaks about the necessity of obeying God’s laws, thus works are entailed in salvation, Commentary on Isaias 429 AD, [4, 2]:

When God says to sinners, “You shall have help even yet (Is. 55:2 in the Septuagint) He gives endurance that even for those entangled in many and unavoidable sins, He will keep a remnant of kindness and clemency; and He says that even those He will not prevent from being saved if they will choose to return to better and more proper ways, in keeping with His laws. Jurgens, vol. 3, #2097, p. 218.


One is saved IF they keep His laws. It is not ‘as they are already saved, they will demonstrate their salvation by attempting to keep the law’, but they will be saved only if they keep His laws. Thus, keeping the law is a cause of one being saved.

St. Cyril notes of the necessity of being prepared for judgment to heaven or hell based on works by noting the parable about the rich man and Lazarus (in Luke 16) Against the Anthropomorphites, [From the Letter to Kalosyrius]

Since, therefore, the Judge of all has not yet descended from heaven, neither has the resurrection of the dead taken place. How, then should it not be thought incredible that some recompense has already been made either for works of evil or for good works? What is said by Christ, therefore, about the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-30), is elegantly expressed in the manner of a parable.

Since, therefore, Christ the Savior of all has not yet come down from heaven, neither has the resurrection taken place, nor has compensatory action been visited upon any; but it is as in a figure that the rich man is described by the parable as living in luxury and as being without mercy, and the poor man as being in ill health, so that those who possess the wealth of this world might know that if they do not wish to be liberal and generous and social, and choose to come to assist the needs of the poor, they will be overtaken by a terrible and inevitable punishment. Jurgens, ibid., vol. 3, #2140, p. 236

Thus, we see that from this passage in Luke, that the rich man who refuses to share his generosity with those who need it, will suffer the same punishment as shown to the rich man in Luke 16, eternal punishment. A lack of charity is the cause of one’s damnation. This seems to play out as in Matthew 25:31-46, where in the final judgment the sheeps were granted the inheritance of eternal life based on their good works, and were deprived of eternal life based on their lack of works. We see here that St. Cyril recognizes that in the particular judgment, it is already made based on works. Definitely not by faith alone.

Theophylact, Expositio in ep. ad Galatas 3.12-13 (PG 124.988).

Here we have a Father who is not normally at all seen as any significant Church Father. There are no references in either the Jurgens 3 volume or the 38 volume Schaff series. King gives us no quote to respond to. I doubt seriously that there is anything about forensic justification with an imputed righteousness being the basis for justification with the sacraments not being salvific. But if he did, he sure did not quote him so here there is nothing to respond to.

St. Bernard [778-842]


Bernard, In Canticum serm. 22.8 (PL 183.881): “solam justificatur per fidem,” is justified by faith alone.

That was taken from his commentary on the Song of Songs. Faith alone according to St. Bernard does not exclude the sacraments, nor does it exclude works from salvation. Nor does it exclude true human merit. We see this on his commentary On Grace and Free Choice, 13:42:


Vain indeed, would be its efforts to do good were grace not at hand to help it; they would not even be, had they received no stimulus. Moreover, as Scripture observes, man’s senses and thoughts are prone to evil (Gen. 8:21). Accordingly, as has been said, his merits must be seen as coming not from himself, but as descending from above, from the Father of lights (James 1:17), provided only that those merits by which eternal salvation is gained be truly reckoned among the good endowments and perfect gifts: St. Bernard of Clairvaux, The Works of Bernard of Clairvaus: On Loving God, #13B, trans. by Robert Walton, Treatises II, Vol. 5, Cistercian Publicans, Consortioum Press, Washington DC, 1974, p. 100.


Notice that he gives us the Catholic view of works. Works that are salvific are not things manufactured by us, but are from God the Father. The grace comes from the Father. These merits gain eternal salvation, not merely demonstrate that they are already saved. That is clearly Catholic and clearly shows that in grace we merit salvation, which is a gift from God.

He continues in On Grace and Free Choice, 13, 43:

For when God, our King from of old, worked salvation in the midst of the earth (Ps. 74:12), he divided the gifts which he gave to men into merits and rewards (See Eph. 4:8, cf. Ps. 68:18), in order that, on the one hand our merits might be our own here and now by free possessions, and on the others, by a gracious promise, we might await their, we for it, in the life to come....
If then, merits are the good things of the pilgrim’s way even as salvation and the life are of the homeland, and if David spoke truly when he said: “There is none that does good, except for one (Ps. 14:3) - that one, namely, of whom it is also said: “No one is good but God alone (Lk. 18:19) - then both our works and rewards are undoubtedly God’s gifts, and he who placed himself in our debts by his gifts constituted us by our works real deservers. To form a basis for such meriting he deigns to make use of the ministry of creatures, not that he stands in any need of it, but that through this or by its means he may benefit them. ibid., pp. 101-102.

Thus, we deserve our salvation based on the promise of God and the works that we do. He says due to God's promise, he places himself in debt for our works. We objectively become real deservers. In fact he even uses a passage often used against Catholicism by Sola Fideists, to show that it teaches that works are meritorious (Psalm 14, Rom. 3). Our works are God’s gift to us, but are really meritorious.

On Loving God, 4:11:

Woe to you, foolish, stupid people (Jer. 4:22; 5:21) who scorn his memory yet dread his presence! Not even now do you want to be freed from the hunter’s net, since they who want to make money in this life, fall into the devil’s net (Ps. 90:3; 123:7). Even then, you cannot avoid the harsh words. O the harsh and cruel sentence: “Depart accursed into everlasting fire (Mt. 25:41). Less harsh and less awful are the words brought to our mind each day in the memorial of the Passion: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting. (Jn. 6:55). That is, he who meditates on my death and, following my example, mortifies his members which belong to this earth (Col. 3:5), has eternal life (Jn. 3:36); meaning, if you share in my sufferings, you will partake of my glory (Rom. 8:17). Many shrink back at these words and abandon him, saying by their reactions: “This expression is too hard, who can listen to us?” (Jn. 6:61). Bernard of Clairvaux, The Works of Bernard of Clairvaus, transl. by Robert Walton, Treatises III, pp. 103-104.


Works. and disobedience are a cause of one’s damnation. The only way that one partakes of God’s glory is if one shares in his suffering, a clear reference to Romans 8:17. He refers us to the Eucharist (Memorial of the Passion) and the necessity of partaking of the Eucharist, but also we must mortify our own flesh (put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13) in order to inherit eternal life. Then, he gives his opponent’s complaint of it being too hard. In fact the Sola Fideist thinks it is too hard to make our works a cause of justification, whereas St. Bernard says when our works are God’s gift to us, it is not too hard. Mortifying our members is a cause of us partaking in his glory. It is not too hard.


To these eight Lyonnet added two others (Quaestiones, 114-18):

D) Theodoret [393-466]


Theodoret, Affectionum curatio 7 (PG 93.100; ed. J. Raeder [Teubner], 189.20-24). [DTK’s note - If I may be so bold as to correct Fitzmyer’s reference to Theodoret here. The reference in Migne is not PG 93.100, but should be PG 83.1001 - Obviously this may be a typo on the part of Fitzmyer, but at any rate I checked the reference myself and found it elsewhere in Theodoret's corpus to be PG 83.1001].

He doesn’t give us the quote. Anyway, he shows that God will judge us for our actions, and we will go to heaven or hell, based on what we do, not because of an imputed righteousness that was given through faith alone. Even though King does not give us the quote from Theodoret, it would be worthwhile to look at what he wrote elsewhere in reference to works:

Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus.
Letter CXXXI, To Longinus, Archimandrite of Doliche:

You have shewn alike your zeal for the true religion, and your love for your neighbour, both of which are at the present time clearly connected, for it is for the sake of the apostolic decrees that I am being attacked, because I refuse to give up the heritage of my fathers, and prefer to undergo any suffering to looking lightly on the robbery of one title from the faith of the Gospel. You have accepted fellowship in my sufferings, not only by comforting me by means of your letter, but further by sending to me the very honourable and pious Matthew and Isaac. You shall hear, I am well assured. from the lips of the righteous Lord, "I was in prison, and ye visited me.(Mt. 25:36) We are small and of no account, and burdened by a great load of sins, but the Lord is bountiful and generous. He remembers the small rather than the great, and says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these"((Mt. 25:33). "which believe in me” Mt. 18:6 "ye have done it unto me." (Mt. 25:40) I pray you in that yon are conspicuous for right doctrine, and shine by worthiness of life, and therefore have great boldness before God, help me in your prayers, that I may be able "to stand," to use the words of the Apostle, ” "against the wiles of error," (Eph. 4:14, and 6:11) escape the sins of the destroyer, and stand, though with little boldness, in the day of the appearing before the righteous Judge NPNF2, Vol.3, p. 303.


He commends the receiver of this letter as a person who has held to the faith of the apostles. Here we see that both he and the receiver of the letter will stand before God based on the works that they do. Thus, in judgment works determine their eternal destiny. He also speaks of the necessity of holding fast to the traditions of the Fathers, and what is necessary to withstand judgment is the ‘worthiness of life’ that one holds. Holding to the correct doctrines, and living a life of worthiness is the only way to escape the sins of the destroyer. It is not avoiding judgment because one gets an imputed righteousness based on faith only as an instrument, and works being there only as evidence that one is already saved. Theodoret then is another Father who sees Matthew 25 showing that faith alone is insufficient to stand before God.

In his Interpretation of the Fourteen Epistles of Paul, [On Eph. 2:8], he writes:

For all men, even if they are adorned with deeds of virtue, are in need of divine grace. The Apostle too, on this account, cries out: “By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves but it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8) Jurgens, Vol. 3, #2165, pp. 248-249.

Here he shows that whatever context he was speaking of if he implied justification by ‘faith alone’, he shows that the works are salvific, but only if empowered by God’s grace. Works without grace do not suffice before God. Here he is merely saying that he doesn’t espouse Pelagianism. However, here he shows that his emphasis is that divine grace is necessary for salvation and so are the works that follow.

He makes the point even clearer in his Letter XCI To the Prefect Euthrechius

If they give both to the pleadings of the opponents, and deliver a sentence acceptable to them, I shall put up with the injustice as bringing me nearer to the kingdom of heaven, and shall await that impartial tribunal, where there is neither prosecutor, nor counsel, nor witness, nor distinction in rank, but judgment of deeds and words and righteous retribution. "For," it is said, "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that every one may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done whether it be good or bad. NPNF2, Vol.3, p. 284.


The necessity of works in salvation are made also in his Letter CII To Bishop Basilius:


But this I will say, that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall give account of our words and deeds. I, who for every other reason dread this tribunal, now that Iam encompassed with calumny, find my chief consolation in the thought of it. NPNF2, Vol.3, p. 287.


Letter XXXII, to Uranius bishop of Emesa:

If they know that we do not keep the apostolic rule of the faith, but swerve to the right hand or the left, let them hate us; let them join the opposite side; let them be ranked with them that are at war with us. But if they bear witness to our holding the right teaching of the gospel message, we hail them with the cry, "Do you too `stand having your loins girt about with truth,...and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,'"Eph. 6:14 and so on, for it is said that virtue comprises not only temperance, righteousness, and prudence, but also courage, and that by means of courage the rest of its component parts are preserved. For righteousness needs the alliance of courage in its war against wrong; temperance vanquishes intemperance by the aid of courage. And for this reason the God of all said to the prophet "The just shall live by his faith, and if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." (Heb. 10:38, Hab. 2:4) ) Shrinking he calls cowardice. Hold fast then, my dear friend, to the apostolic doctrines, for "He that shall come will come, and will not tarry," (Heb 10:37) and "He shall render to every man according to his deeds,"(Rom. 2:6) for "the fashion of this world passeth away," (1 Cor. 7:31) and the truth shall be made manifest. NPNF2, Vol.3, p. 298.


We must have courage and persevere. We must have righteousness, prudence, and other means. If we draw back from this courage, God will have no pleasure in us, and we will be cut off from Him. He also quotes Romans 2:6 which says that God will render us according to his deeds. This is done in a Catholic sense. The Protestant Sola Fideist says that Romans 2:6 is only theoretical, and our deeds will never suffice before God, that is why we need an imputed righteousness. Our deeds are indeed salvific, according to Theodoret.

Next, he shows just like St. Hilary, that election is based on what the person does. He comments on his Interpretation of the Fourteen Epistles of Paul, with his comment [On Rom. 8:30]:

Those whom He predestined, those also did He call; and those whom He called, those also did He justify; and those whom He justified, those also did He glorify(Rom. 8:30)” Those whose resolve He foreknew, He predestined from the beginning. Predestining them, He did also call them. Calling them, He justified them by Baptism; and justifying them, He glorified them, calling them sons and bestowing on them the grace of the Holy Spirit. But no one would say that His foreknowledge is the cause of this: for His foreknowledge does not accomplish such things as these. Rather, God, since He is God sees from afar those things that are going to be....The God of the universe, since He is God, sees all things from afar. Assuredly this imposes no necessity on anyone of practicing virtue, nor on anyone of doing evil. For if a man be compelled to either course, it is not right that he be either praised and crowned, or condemned to punishment. If God is just, as just He be, He encourages to those things that are good, and dissuades from the contrary; and He praises those who do good, and punishes those who voluntarily embrace evil. Jurgens, ibid., #2162, p. 248.


Here he shows that his understanding of election is based on foreknowledge. This foreknowledge shows that God decides on their condemnation or salvation based on their actions. Thus, it is a foreknowledge based on merit. The position espoused by Theodoret is a position that the Calvinist says, makes God an ‘impotent’ God. The position that Theodoret gives, is that it is the foreknowledge of our actions which will determine whether we were predestined. We have a choice in our own ultimate destiny of either heaven or hell based on those actions. As Mr. King is a Calvinist this speaks directly against his position on predestination, which specifically says God predestines some to heaven and some to hell based solely on His choice. Besides that, according to Thoedoret, the initial justification is done via baptism, not faith alone. He praises those who do good, and condemns those who embrace evil. This merit and or evil, is the grounds of that choice. Thus, Theodoret of Cyr shows that he does not operate on the presumption of faith alone, but to its contrary. We see that for Theodoret, God wills the salvation of all men, as opposed to the Calvinist outlook of King,


Letter LXXVI To Uranius, Governr of Cyprus:

By raising the flesh He has given the promise of resurrection to us all, after giving the resurrection of His own precious body as a worthy pledge of ours. So loved He men even when they hated Him that the mystery of the aeconomy fails to obtain credence with some on account of the very bitterness of His sufferings, and it is enough to show the depths of His loving kindness that He is even yet day by day calling to men who do not believe. And He does so not as though He were in need of the service of men,-for of what is the Creator of the universe in want?-but because He thirsts for the salvation of every man. Grasp then, my excellent friend, His gift; sing praises to the Giver, and procure for us a very great and right goodly feast.

E) Theodore of Mopsuestia [350- 428]


See further:

Theodore of Mopsuestia, (350-428), In ep. ad Galatas (ed. H. B. Swete), 1.31.15.

Theodore of Mopsuestia, commenting on Rom. 3:28: Paul did not say we hold because he was himself uncertain. He said it in order to counter those who concluded from this that anyone who wished to could be justified simply by willing faith. Note carefully that Paul does not say simply without the law, as if we could perform virtue by wanting to, nor do we the works of the law by force. We do them because we have been led to do them by Christ. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), pp. 104-105.


This comment you can see is only speaking about the faith that we have that justifies is a gift from God. We don’t will our own faith. It is God’s gift to us. In fact, Theodore says that it is not by law how we are saved. The law does not justify outside the realm of grace, which is a gift of God. He says nothing about imputation of an alien righteousness to our account as the basis for our justification, or that works in grace are not a cause of justification. It is just that faith is necessary, which any Catholic agrees to. Now for Theodore of Mopsuestia [AD 428] we only have fragmentary comments. He has little in Jurgens and the 38 volume of the Fathers has none of his writings. So I only have access to a few quotes. But what I do have does show a very unsola fideist outlook on soteriology. The sacraments and works are essential to salvation. For example, here we see both works and the Sacrament as essential to getting our sins forgiven and being able to face God’s judgment in Catechetical Homilies, [16]:


If we have sinned, the Body and Blood of our Lord...will strengthen us... if we committed [those sins] voluntarily, and they came to us against our will from the weakness of our nature, and we fell into them against our desire, and on their account have been filled with remorse and have prayed to God in great repentance for our lapses....If with diligence we do good works and turn from evil deeds and truly repented of the sins that befall us, undoubtedly, we shall obtain the grace of the remission of our sins in our receiving of the holy Sacrament. Jurgens, vol. 2., #1113m, p. 83


The Protestant Sola Fideist says that one is justified by faith alone, and the sins past present and future are forgiven. The basis for this forgiveness is God punishing Christ, who is deemed a sinner, and the Christian in place gets his perfect righteousness attributed to his account. Thus, there is no punishment for sins, although one may get disciplined on earth, they will not ultimately be held to account for the sins they commit, because God looks only at Christ’s perfect righteousness, and does not see any of the sins that we commit in judgment before God. The above shows that Theodore of Mopsuestia does not think that way. In order to get the remission of sins we must repent, turn from evil, and do good works, according to Theodore.

He shows this outlook here in Catechetical Homilies [16] as well:

If we commit a great sin against the commandments..we must first induce our conscience with all our power to make haste and repent our sins as is proper, and not permit ourselves any other medicine... This is the medicine for sins, established by God and delivered to the priests of the Church, who make diligent use of it in healing the afflictions of men. You are aware of these things, as also of the fact that God, because He greatly cares for us, gave us penitence and showed us the medicine of repentance; and He established some men, those who are priests, as physicians of sins. If in this world we receive through them healing and forgiveness of sins, we shall be delivered from the judgment that is to come. It behooves us, therefore, to draw near to the priests in great confidence and to reveal to them our sins; and those priests, with all diligence, solicitude, and love, and in accord with the regulations mentioned above, will grant healing to sinners. [The priests] will not disclose the things that ought not be disclosed; rather, they will be silent about the things that have happened, as befits true and loving fathers who are bound to guard the shame of their children while striving to heal their bodies. Jurgens, ibid., vol. 2, #1113p , pp. 83-84.


He shows us that there are mortal sins that cut us off from the grace of God. There is only one medicine that God gives us to forgive those sins. The readers of Theodore’s epistle are aware of it. The priests have the authority to give that medicine, the forgiveness of sins. All the sins we commit are to be forgiven through the priests, who are termed ‘physicians’, who grant healing of the sins to those who come to the priest. That is the way Jesus forgives sins. And Theodore is actually a Sola Fideist?


Marius Vicorinus (ed. Pauli ad Galatas (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15-16: “Ipsa enim fides sola iustificationem dat-et sanctificationem” (For faith itself alone gives justification and sanctification); In ep. Pauli Ephesios (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15: “Sed sola fides in Christum nobis salus est” (But only faith in Christ is salvation for us).

To this above that Fitzmyer listed in his commentary, I add the following data, some (or most) of which I’ve posted here before...


Clement of Rome: Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words. ANF: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 30.


In other words, Clement is simply affirming that declaring our selves to be justified by “our words,” is not the proof of our justification, but our works; because here it is our works contrasted with our words, not our faith. He says, “Let us clothe ourselves, etc., i.e. demonstrate in deed that what we believe concerning ourselves is true, rather than merely claiming it. Otherwise, what he goes on to say two chapters later is utterly meaningless. For he goes on to say...


Clement of Rome: Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ANF: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 32.


It’s clear, then, that Clement denies in no uncertain terms that our works, performed in a state of grace, serve meritoriously in any sense as the grounds on which we’re justified, and declares that faith, not our works, has always been the means by which God justifies all men.


Here what we see is King's attempt to explain away Clement’s clear letter’s comments on Chapter 30, which says that one is justified by works. But he also teaches this in Chapters 12, 31, 34, 48, and 50 as well, in other ways. Despite that, King runs to chapter 32 and imagines that he is giving us Sola Fide. Well, Pope Clement of Rome does teach the necessity of works, but I go over the above passage and these other citations in much more detail here: Click on Clement and you will be able to see that he definitely does not teach justification by faith alone.


Mathetes to Diognetus: As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Savior who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honor, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious concerning clothing and food. Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, Mathetes to Diognetus, Chapter 9.


I go over Mathetes letter here:


Continue to Part 2