Let's see how wikipedia explains this one:
... and the debate goes further on and on ...
"Sola fide is the teaching that justification (interpreted in Protestant theology as, "being declared right by God"), is received by faith only, without any mixture of or need for good works, though in classical Protestant theology, saving faith is always evidenced by good works. Some Protestants see this doctrine as being summarized with the formula "Faith yields justification and good works" and as contrasted with the Roman Catholic formula "Faith and good works yield justification."However, this is disputed by the Roman Catholic position as a misrepresentation; they claim it is better contrasted with a comparison of what is meant by the term "justification": both sides agree that the term invokes a communication of Christ's merits to sinners, where in Protestant theology this is seen as being a declaration of sinlessness (while not yet necessarily being objectively so — "simul justus et peccator"(simultaneously justified and yet a sinner) for Luther). Roman Catholicism sees justification as a communication of God's life to a human being, cleansing him of sin and transforming him truly into a son of God, so that it is not merely a declaration, but rather the soul is made actually objectively righteous. "
I can't help think we are mostly just splitting hairs here, debating only over the best way to put into words a concept that we all agree on.
To simplify it to something a child can understand.
We need to believe and follow Jesus.Catholics and protestant children can agree to that - and aren't we to have child-like faith?
Let's look further at some verses.
Justified by Faith:
"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (NIV)
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
"For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." (NIV)Rom 5:1
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (NIV)Justified by Works
"You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."James 2:17-18
"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do."Matt 7:21
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.".Matt 25:34-35
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'"I find it interesting that the the words "faith alone" are only found in James 2:24, and are making the point that we can not be saved by faith alone. Supposedly Luther had added the word "alone" to his translation of Romans 3:28, but it does not show up in any current translations that I can find. So to be fair to all scripture I will not use that language in ways protestants have. I believe justification is through faith which leads to works. You can't have one without the other.
In practice there are likely many who call themselves catholic, who are hoping to get to heaven based on some steps they've taken, who shouldn't have that assurance. There are likely also many from protestant churches who have believed as a child and said a prayer, and have been told they are saved. But if they have gone on with their lives rejecting Christ, they also should not have that false assurance. Faith without works is not real faith.
Here is the wording that the lutheran church and catholic church now agree on in their 'Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification':
(3.15) "By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works."And more from that joint declaration:
(37) "We confess together that good works - a Christian life lived in faith, hope and love - follow justification and are its fruits. When the justified live in Christ and act in the grace they receive, they bring forth, in biblical terms, good fruit."I can agree to these statements too! I see nothing here that I would personally protest.
I think we are not far off from their official doctrine on this. In practice there may be a large gap between these teachings and how many who call themselves Christians live their faith... but then we should be there to encourage them in their walk with Christ.