Is it possible to have faith and not do good works?

Many of our fundamentalist friends justify their faith-alone version of Christianity by claiming that anyone who has faith will automatically do good works. However, this argument falls apart if it is possible to have faith and not do works of justice and charity.

We could define faith as complete confidence in an idea, going beyond the evidence to accept that idea as fact, without doubt or questioning. Is it possible to have complete confidence in the truth of the ideas taught by Jesus, but not to act on those ideas?

Update:

Lion and Chris, reiterating your doctrine does not answer the question of whether faith without works is possible. Do you mind editing your responses to address the question?

Update 2:

Garden man, please see the note just above this, and see the answer by Patience just below yours for an example of addressing the question with evidence.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    of corse it is possible. Man has a free willl, God does not in any way, determine for man the choices he makes as to doing works or not, so saying you will "want" to do them, is not reasonable nor is it the case.

    God lets us choose, or not choose, he only offers the grace to do a good work, but ultimately we choose whether or not it is done. I think they state this, because they do not want to "admit" that God commands us to do "anything", like obey the commandments, be kind, be generous with others etc. they like to think they are "free agents" and can do as they are "robotically" induced once they say a prayer of being saved.

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  • 1 decade ago

    In the book of James in the New Testament you can find a quote that goes something like this: "Faith without works is dead". Yet in still another new testament place you find that "Salvation comes through faith and not of works, lest any man should boast."

    Do these two contradict one another? I do not think so. If you used your sincere faith today to accept Jesus and died an instant later without time for good works, you would still go to heaven just like the thief on the cross.

    On the other hand, if you say you are a christian, and you live like the devil then more than likely, the truth is not in you. The good book says we can tell a tree by the fruit it bears. If someone were truly saved for any length of time, starting out as a spiritual baby, good works would begin to appear and works of the devil would certainly diminish and ultimately go away. But we all need to grow. Always.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Faith in English is almost invariably a noun. Not so in the New Testament Greek. In the New Testament Greek, the words used which are translated into our word 'faith' can be adjectives, verbs, and also nouns.

    For this reason, faith may be described as an action, based upon belief, sustained by confidence.

    But requiring action - which is typical for verbs.

    One thing I would warn you against is that you do not too actively pursue those who are seemingly without works. Sometimes we aren't aware that we are being a witness to people.

    Another fault is to remain legalistic in the way we see others. But if you have Christ in you, then do what God's Spirit directs you to do. Not that others must, but you.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Even using your definition of faith I doubt it is possible. However, I would add to your definition of faith. I maintain that faith requires action. When I read the comment from Patience, Linzhopper! above I immediately thought "Her ex-boyfriend has "belief" but not "faith". I still hold onto that difference. Action is inextricable from faith (making it a verb), belief is an intellectual assent to an idea and can certainly be tightly held but not acted upon (making it a noun).

    For example:

    Because I have "faith" in my gods I offer them worship and praise.

    I have "belief" that Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him, but I don't watch or read those plays any more or less than I would if I didn't believe.

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Yes, both are possible. Many people do good works outside of Christianity. For example, many nonchristians helped conserve the environment on Earth Day. Many people have faith but don't perform good works. They believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, that he rose from the dead and sits at the right hand of the father, but that faith does not lead them to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the ill-clothed, or perform other works of charity Jesus described as crucial to friendship with God and eternal life (see the sheep and goats parable in Matt 25). Some who have faith do not abandon such deadly sins as drug abuse, complicity in abortion, or sexual immorality. Friendship with God requires baptism, believing Christ and putting faith in him, self-renunciation, repentance to obtain forgiveness, obedience to God, doing what is just and charitable, adopting the humility of a child, eating the bread of life, and endurance to the end. CDF

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  • 1 decade ago

    We are saved by Christ's grace alone, through faith and works done in charity inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    It takes more than simply knowing Jesus is the Messiah to be saved; even the Evil One knows Who Christ is.

    The Catholic Church and Her Bible condemn the idea that one can work his way to Heaven on his own merit or that God "owes" a person for doing the right things.

    All our works get their merit only from Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf. We can do "works" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the rest of our lives, but without Christ's grace, they are nothing. Works have no merit in themselves -- and faith without works is not enough. We are saved by grace alone -- a grace that we accept neither "by faith alone" nor "by works alone," but "by faith that works in charity" (Galatians 5:6).

    Non-Catholics take verses of Scripture out of context, making them appear to say something they really don't.

    That's why we have to be careful to take Scripture in context, or we'll fall into the old trap, 'A text without a context is a pretext.'

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  • 1 decade ago

    No,

    living and saving faith is always connected to hope and love and must be lived out. Faith unconnected to commitment to acts of justice and charity is dead and damning

    Yes, one can be even fanatically convinced about some abstraction and do nothing good with it

    We are saved by grace alone but never by belief or trust alone and unlived

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    no it is not faith alone.

    That was never in the bible tell Luther added it to Romans, faith alone. Even admitted it in a letter. Read the Letters of martin Luther his theological basis was ""tell him Dr. Martin Luther will have it so." I will have it so is the reason enough. I know every well the word alone is not in the original Hebrew or Greek text."

    Faith without works is dead. Why do you think Luther called the book of James not written by an apostle and wanted it removed from the Bible?

    You can talk the talk, but if you don;t walk the walk it is all BS

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  • 1 decade ago

    We are justified by works through Faith. It is one thing to say you follow a homeless, poor, Christ on Sundays and another thing to turn your back on a homeless, poor Christ on Mondays.

    Christ said that which you DO unto the least of my Children you DO unto me.

    So I will continue to follow Christ's lead and work with Faith and Love on my side.

    Let those who believe what they shall beleive what they shall.

    Because in reality I don't care what others say because I know that God knows that I am right, and 2000 plus years of tradition, straight from those that wrote the same Bible that Chris and others read, tells me how I should live and that is what is important.

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  • 1 decade ago

    We claim faith alone in securing our salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Good works are something one may do after salvation, but not to receive it.

    If you pay attention to "where" you find scripture that says-'faith without works is dead', then you will know that it was written to converted Jews-not Gentiles. That will make a great difference as to why it was written.

    If you can not separate out which scriptures are commands specifically for "Christians" you will stay confused. James and Peter was dealing with Jews-Paul was dealing with Gentiles. Their religious backgrounds were vastly different. The Jews had to be brought "out" of the law. The Gentiles had to be kept from it.

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