Apologetics for the Masses #353 - What's Love Got to Do With It?

Bible Christian Society

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Topic

What's Love Got to Do With It? (Salvation, that is...)

 

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General Comments

Hey, folks,

     It's good to be back after a little summer down time. I hope the last few weeks have been joyful and prosperous for you. 

     I wanted to let everyone know - especially all of you living in and around Alabama - that Scott Hahn will be speaking at Samford University (a Baptist school), on Thursday, September 26th, at 7:00 PM.  He will be in the Wright Center on the campus.  Admission is absolutely free. 

     The Wright Center holds 2200 people and I am hoping to fill it up.  So, again, if you are in the vicinity - in Alabama or pretty much anywhere in the Southeast - I would love to have you join us for this truly historic occasion of one of the world's leading Catholic theologians speaking on the campus of one of the country's premiere Baptist institutions.  It should be awesome!

 

Introduction

     In this newsletter I want to continue the theme of Problems With Protestantism.  The previous problems I've discussed are the lack of an infallible authority in Protestantism that can decide doctrinal/moral disputes authoritatively and the fact that, for a vast majority of Protestants, the church is more of an afterthought in their theology rather than a necessity.  They believe they need their Bible, but they don't necessarily need their church.  They, in essence, separate the Head - Jesus - from the Body - the Church, thus decapitating Jesus.

     The next Problem With Protestantism that I want to highlight, relates directly to a line from a Tina Turner song: "What's love got to do with it?"  The question is in regard to salvation.  If we are saved by faith alone (Sola Fide) - which is one of the two core dogmas of Protestantism (the other being, of course, Sola Scriptura) - then what role does love play in our salvation?  Let's explore that below...

 

Challenge/Response/Strategy

     In Protestant theology, one of the two main dogmas is Sola Fide - salvation by faith ALONE!  That is the belief that all I have to do is believe that Jesus is God incarnate and that He died on the Cross for my sins and - BOOM! - I'm saved.  I don't have to do any works.  I don't have to be baptized. I don't have to worry about sacraments or growing in holiness or anything else.  All I have to do...the only thing I have to do...the only thing I can do that counts for anything...is to have faith.  I am saved by my faith, and by my faith alone, period!

     Which begs the question: What's love got to do with it?  What role does love play in my salvation?  Well, that's a pretty easy question to answer.  If we are saved by faith, and faith alone, then love has absolutely nothing to do with our salvation.  I mean, c'mon...it's right there in the name of the dogma - SOLA Fide - Faith ALONE - that's a pretty easy thing to figure out. 

     But, given what the Word of God says about love, can that really be right?  Does that make scriptural sense?  I mean, Jesus - the King of kings and Lord of lords -  tells us that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39).  The Word of God tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8,16).  "Faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love," (1 Cor 13:13).  "For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love," (Gal 5:6).

     Yet, love, according to Sola Fide theology, has nothing to do with our salvation.  It is faith...alone...that saves us.  Which means, that I don't have to love my neighbor as myself and I'm still saved...as long as I've accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior.  After all, loving my neighbor falls into the category of works, and works don't save us, right?  Shoot, I don't even have to love God and I'm still saved...as long as I've accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior.  So I don't have to keep the two greatest commandments - or any commandment for that matter (after all, keeping a commandment is a work) - and I'm still saved...as long as I've accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior.  How awesome is that!

     Sola Fide theology turns so many passages of Scripture on their head.  Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned (i.e., loving my neighbor as myself) - I don't have to do any of those things, and I'm still saved, regardless of what the Bible says (Matt 25:45-46).  And how can love be greater than faith when salvation is the greatest thing we can achieve, and faith alone, not love, is the only way to achieve it?  Faith has to be greater than love if Sola Fide is true.  "If you love me, you will keep My commandments," (John 14:14).  Well, I obviously don't need to keep the commandments, because I don't need to love Jesus in order to be saved.

     "For God so loved the world that He gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life," (John 3:16).  Awesome!  God loves me.  He loves me so much that I don't have to do a thing...not one thing...other than believe in Him...and I am saved.  He loves me, but I don't have to love Him, and I am still saved.  I can sin all I want, and as long as I have accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior, I'm saved.  And who was it that said the road to salvation is narrow and difficult?  Silly rabbit...no it's not...it's pretty easy actually. 

     Now, someone might say, "John, you're being ridiculous.  That's not what Sola Fide folks believe."  First point in response, it is actually what a number of them believe.  They may not frame it in the exact manner that I have, but based on their actions and their words, it is indeed what they believe.  That's why adultery is not a salvation issue.  Cheating and lying and stealing are not salvation issues.  Watching pornography is not a salvation issue.  Engaging in extra-marital sex is not a salvation issue.  Having an abortion is not a salvation issue.  Breaking the commandments is not a salvation issue.  Not loving your neighbor is not a salvation issue.  And on and on and on I could go.

     Second point in response to the argument that I'm just being ridiculous - it doesn't matter if they believe these things I'm saying or not.  The things I have said above are the logical consequence of the dogma of Sola Fide, whether Sola Fide adherents personally go that far with it or not (although I have had a Sola Fide person look me straight in the eye and say, in response to my question, "No, you don't have to love God in order to be saved.").  If faith alone saves you, then that means, by definition, that love has nothing - zero, zip, nada - NOTHING! - to do with your salvation.  That is the logic that is built into the dogma itself.  Because if love does have something to do with our salvation, then we are not saved by Faith Alone and the dogma of Sola Fide falls apart.  And if the dogma falls apart, then everyone who believed in Sola Fide would have to take a good long look at the Catholic Church, because we have always taught that love is necessary for salvation. 

     Think about it, folks - salvation by faith alone, precludes love having anything to do with our salvation.  Yes, God has to love us, but we don't have to love Him, or any of His creation, and we are still eligible for salvation.

     One final matter: Someone might say, "Well, if you don't love the Lord, or do the works of the Lord, then that means you haven't really accepted Him into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior."  My response: Really?!  Where does the Bible tell me such a thing?  Furthermore, how many works do I have to do to "prove" that I have truly accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior?  10?  20? 5 years worth?  10 years worth?  How many works does it take to "prove" that you're saved? 

     Sorry, but that is a specious argument.  The Bible doesn't say it and if the Bible doesn't say it, I don't have to believe it (Sola Scriptura).  Again, if faith ALONE saves us, then inherent in the dogma is the fact that love doesn't have anything to do with it.

 

Closing Comments

Another Problem With Protestantism next week.  I hope all of you have a good one!  And, again, please spread the word about the Bible Christian Society through Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Thanks!

 

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Apologetics for the Masses