by Mr. Jake Griesel
The Early Church Fathers on “Sola Fide”
In an earlier post we looked at the early church fathers on the doctrine of “sola scriptura“, which can be found here:
Now we turn our attention to the doctrine of Sola Fide. It is often thought by some that the doctrine of Sola Fide (justification by faith alone) only really started with the Reformers of the 16th century, who set forth the truth of this doctrine from Scripture. If this is true, why didn’t anyone realize it before? The answer is that while the Reformers may have better systematized, organized, and rendered consistent the doctrines known under the umbrella of “sola fide,” or justification by faith alone, they were not in uncharted territory. That is not to say that the church fathers were consistent or that they all taught the same thing. Nevertheless, the idea of justification by faith alone certainly wasn’t new to the Reformers, as can be shown below:
Clement of Rome (1st century)
“Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, ‘Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.’ All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”.
- First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 32
Though Clement of Rome does not use the term “faith alone,” he specifically rules out works.
Hilary of Poitiers (c. 300-368)
“This was forgiven by Christ through faith, because the Law could not yield, for faith alone justifies.”
The Latin says “fides enim sola justificat.”
For more excellent quotes by Mr. Jake Griesel, see: http://deovivendiperchristum.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/the-early-church-fathers-on-sola-fide/