Is Faith Without Works Dead, Or Just Sleepy?

Andrew Wilson | November 29, 2016

Steve Holmes and Alan Jacobs are two of the most thoughtful, insightful evangelical theologians around today. When they line up together on an issue, and you don’t, it’s usually safe to assume they are right and you are wrong. (Fortunately, since one is very Anglican and the other very Baptist, this doesn’t happen as often as you might think.)

Recently they’ve both written articles arguing that, although they hold to the traditional view of sexual ethics, holding to the revisionist view doesn’t make a person a false teacher. That perspective will cause some people to agree strongly, some to disagree strongly, and some to wonder what to think. But I want to focus on a particularly fascinating—and, I think, ultimately wrong—reason given for this view, especially in Steve’s article. The argument, essentially, is that ethical behavior does not put a person’s final salvation at risk.

Their Arguments

For Steve Holmes, the central evangelical claim of sola fide (“by faith alone”) should settle the discussion. If you start adding further conditions of behavior, or lifestyle, to the need for faith in Jesus, you undermine the gospel itself:

It matters to me desperately that salvation depends on our embracing of the forgiveness offered in Jesus and…

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