The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

bible is not clear: faith = justification + works... OR faith + works = justification

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 0 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/18/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 474 times Debate No: 54971
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)




i tried to make the debate clearer than previous debates.

the bible is not clear one way or the other: faith = justification + works... OR if it's faith + works = justification. to be sure, works are required in both scenarios, they just play a different role. again, the bible isn't clear what role that is.

to lay the best examples of the ambiguity, we have two apparently conflicting versions of the story of abraham and his justification.

james 2
20You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is uselessd ? 21Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"e and he was called God"s friend. 24You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

then we have romans 4 on the other hand
'What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about"but not before God. 3What does Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."a 4Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
'We have been saying that Abraham"s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.

you can find more quotes to argue both ways. these are just great examples using the same story and seemingly different outcomes. it's not contradictory, though, just a matter of how you reconcile everything.

to be sure, the only place where 'faith alone' is used in the bible is when James says we are not justified by faith alone. but it's too much to take everything from just that one quote. taking everying together, it's ambiguous which formula is correct.


Thank you for posing this question. I am a Christian myself, and I am aware of many claims of contradictions in the Bible. These verses actually coincide.

Keep in mind that it is very easy to put Biblical text in whatever context you want and justify ANYTHING - even horrendous acts. I believe that is how many people try to argue a Biblical contradiction. Anyhow, let's get to the points.

1) The book of James is referring to something that happened in the old testament prior to Jesus dying on the cross. The "saved by faith" concept was instigated once Jesus died on the cross. Prior to his crucifixion, people were "justified" (cleaned of their sins) via the sacrifice of animals or whatever else God asked them for. Nowadays, salvation is gained by the acknowledgement/understanding that we are inherently born in sin, and the desire for forgiveness, and the desire to change.

2) This next thing is something that non-Christians seem get wrong quite a lot. Atheists often call us out as using the No True Scotsman fallacy when we say "They're not real Christians." The No True Scotsman fallacy only holds water when there is, in fact, no counterfeit. The No True Scotsman fallacy implies that their is a false claim of counterfeit. When people say "Obama isn't a Christian" or "The Westboro Baptist Church aren't Christians", I would agree with them. Professing Christianity, believing in Yaweh, and spouting Bible verses doesn't make you a Christian.

This might seem slightly irrelevant, but now I will explain what it has to do with my point. When someone is saved by faith and receives salvation, THAT is ultimately what saves them. However, BECAUSE they have been saved by faith, they will IN TURN start doing good works. They understand the love that God supposedly showed to them, so they will then project it out to someone else. You can do good works all day, and that won't save you by faith. Faith has to be gained through salvation, and hence you will desire to do good works.

So, to wrap up: Back in THOSE times, before the crucifixion, people WERE justified by works; sacrifices. HOWEVER, they made those 'blood' sacrifices (so to speak) because they realized they needed help.

Thanks, good luck.
Debate Round No. 1


responding to your points.

1. how do you necessarily say that 'faith alone' is the way? you're mostly just making assertions and how things are, and not even resorting to the bible, which is the whole foundation of the debate. also, how do you reconcile things like how jesus emphasizes works? the parable of the servants doing right before the master returns. the statement that at the last judgment he will separate the lambs from the goats based on their deeds. paul says we are "to work out our salvation in fear and trembling". the only place 'faith alone' is even used in the bible, is to say we are not saved by faith alone? i could go on and on.

2. im not sure how not everyone who says they are christian, are not really, has anything to do with the faith v works debate we're currently having.
on your side point of that topic (which i still dont see how it has to do with real v nonreal christians), i understand that is the argument. faith = justification + works. but how is this necessarily so and not the other equation? and again, you biblical support is lacking.


I withdraw from this round, because I have no good rebutting arguments. I'll have to look into this more.
Debate Round No. 2


thank you for your honesty and candor.


I've actually since changed my view on this...

I will quote both verses in ESV.

"20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness""and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."

"Abraham Justified by Faith

4 What then shall we say was gained by[a] Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in[b] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."

NEITHER verses say that we are justified by faith alone. BOTH imply faith AND works. That's really all I have to say.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by MetalheadWolfman 2 years ago
Thank you, I accept the challenge and I'll post later today.
No votes have been placed for this debate.