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Does “Faith Alone” Doctrine Contradict the Letter of James?

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Of the “five solas” of the Reformation, sola fide (Latin for “faith alone”) was so important that Luther called it the “doctrine by which the church stands or falls.” Rooted in Scriptures like Eph 2:8–10, it drew a line in the sand between Protestant and Catholic theology on the topic of justification.
“Faith alone.” It’s a simple phrase really. Its meaning seems equally simple … until we read that “faith apart from works is dead” in Jas 2:14–17. How do we reconcile that? Is there a contradiction going on here? How did Reformers like Luther and Calvin view this passage?
In this clip from his course on the Letter of James, Dr. William Varner explains that sola fide does not in fact contradict what James is saying. The key lies in understanding the difference between “faith alone” and a faith that is alone.

In NT365 Book Study: Letter of James, Dr. Varner presents a fresh perspective on James the man and also James the letter, showing how the emphasis on works complements rather than contradicts Paul’s emphasis on faith.
Learn more about this course today!

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Written by
Faithlife Staff

Faithlife (makers of Logos Bible Software) is the largest developer of Bible study software and creator of the world's first integrated ministry platform—a full suite of ministry, communication, and management tools for churches.

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Written by Faithlife Staff