Faith and Works

Many will readily recall the arguments pro and con which have centered around the doctrines of faith as preached by Paul and that of works as enunciated by James. It will be remembered that the evangelical schools, so called, were almost a unit in the belief that James was guilty of something alarmingly like heretical opinions when he dared to affirm that faith was not all-sufficient, in the words, "Faith without works is dead," while the very opposite view appeared to be taken by the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, who speaks of "dead works;" the confusion having been created by failure to recognize the fact that the works spoken of by these two writers have reference to entirely different things, those of the latter referring to those perfunctory ceremonial works connected with Jewish worship, while James referred to those spontaneous evidences of faith or of understanding such as the healing of sin and sickness, which necessarily must accompany real faith.

There is nothing more satisfying to the student of Christian Science than to learn as he does that the commendable thing is not a blind, unreasoning belief, but an intelligent understanding, and that it is this kind of faith which is known by its fruits, whereas belief may just as surely be based upon an error as on truth, be hypnotic in its origin, and incapable of bringing forth "fruits meet for repentance." Belief, in other words, may or may not have any substantial foundation, may be predicated upon a lie, while faith based on spiritual understanding is founded upon the Rock, Christ, and consequently must be followed by works which demonstrate Truth. In the passage, "These signs shall follow them that believe . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover," the word believe has all the signification of understanding, for the reason that nothing can be proved unless it is understood.

That justification, purification, and sanctification are attained through, in, and by faith, there is ample Scriptural authority; in fact, there is no other way in which these desiderata may be reached; but who that has the least scientific knowledge will contend that they are attainable through a blind or unreasoning belief in some theological dogma or creed as was formerly supposed, much to the distress of some who complained that for some reason, unknown to them, they could not believe, and in consequence were led to suppose by those with more zeal than knowledge that they were "lost souls"? How much agony of mind the preaching of this class of zealot has been responsible for it would be hard to estimate. It is certain that progress in the study of mathematics would be very slow indeed if it were attempted upon any such lines. Why, then, try to know God without understanding Him in some measure? And yet to know God is the one thing needful, and only by emulation of the known can Truth be approximated.

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In His Likeness
October 29, 1921

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