Answer: oftentimes, protestants try to contest Catholics about how James 2 is taken into context. Here is an example: Note: I will use the argument of Mr. Franklin Li (which can be read in his personal apologetic blog) since he is one of the vocal defenders of Faith-alone doctrine in Cebu.
He said: The fact is James 2 talks about justification which is MORE than salvation. Salvation means saving, justification is setting things right AFTER NOT PRIOR to salvation. Let’s try and see what James 2 really means.
Answer: the point there is that James 2 explains on how a man is truly saved, not just on how a man is justified, that’s why if we read the preceding texts of it (especially James 2:14), it talks on salvation that is being maintained by those 2 elements (though using this word is awkward to apply), the faith and works that is of God’s will. We all know also that justification is different from salvation. The Catholic Church is in agreement to the fact that one’s salvation is not based on either works-alone or faith-alone, but rather on grace-alone that was given to us by God, and since it is a free gift from Him, the faith which is being understood on that verse is received because of the grace He showered unto us, and the works that is from God’s will is the one who maintains the grace received, without the cooperation of those two elements, the faith remains stagnant.
He said: James 2 talks about faith and works saying that faith PRODUCES works. It’s the fruit of salvation.
Answer: the chapter did not even say that works is just the product of faith. We all know that many of us have faith in Christ, even people who are adamant in doing bad things also have faith in Christ, but did not produce works in the first place SINCE THEY DID NOT WORK OUT the faith they received through the grace that is given freely by God.
He said: Often ignored or even twisted is James 2:10 which talks about how SINFUL we really are- break one part of the law and ALL is broken. Even the Catholic Bible states that. The Good News Bible even says it that way! The fact is NOBODY can keep the whole law. The Catholic doctrine of lordship salvation is STUPID!
Answer: in that case, james 2:10 is emphasizing to the law that was given by God to maintain and must not break it, but since NOBODY can perfectly keep the law, we are subjected to work out of it and repent if we broke those such, that’s why, keeping the law needs effort in order to make it happen.
He said: James 2:23 says, “And Abraham believed God and was imputed into him righteousness and his faith was put up right with God.” in the Catholic Bible. Simple. Notice the words: believed God and was imputed into him RIGHTEOUSNESS. Answer: but you rejected the previous texts of it (read James 2:21-22) that Abraham’s obedience (good works) of offering his son to God at the altar made him justified. Notice the words: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou that faith did cooperate with his works and by works faith was made perfect? It only shows that since he(Abraham) accepted God and believed in Him, he maintained it by obeying what God commanded him to do so (and that is to offer his son). It also shows that the two elements cooperate with each other in the salvific plan of God to us. He said: The fact is faith is the root. Faith + Christ = salvation. Salvation results to good works, not the other way around. That means, I do good works because I am saved, not to be saved. Jesus is my Lord because I’m saved, I’ll endure to the end only because I’m saved.
Answer: wrong formula: the right formula that James 2 is trying to explain to us is this: Salvation (total liberation from sins)= faith (received by grace) + works that is of God’s will (maintains the grace received). So good works are not just manifestations…but a cooperation to the grace that God gave to us. The formulation of Mr. Li is really absurd and misleading and since his OWN FORMULATION did not even help his reasoning to support sola-fide doctrine, it all ended to Mr. Li’s personal interpretation of the scriptures. And by the way, Not all who believed that they are saved are doing good works, notice how many of our brethren remain stagnant and are waiting for the time they will get old before they will go back to God. You see, they are just waiting for it. I remember a Baptist friend of mine who is doing bad things when we are still in college often reason out that he doesn’t need to do good things because what is important is that you are saved since you already believed in Him, no matter how bad you are. Isn’t it a contradiction to the words you said Mr. Li? Anyway, he is just one of the protestant friends whom I talked with and have that kind of mentality, and there are still plenty of them in which I think if I will write down the names of them, it would be very impossible for you to locate and give sermon to them Mr. Li.