Sola fide

I have been trying to wrap my mind around Southern religion since I got here. Let me start with an anecdote that happened to the wife and I shortly after moving here in March of 2018. Note, we live in the western part of North Carolina. Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee and all a short drive away. Deliverance the movie was filmed not far from here. In fact, from my parents place you can drive to the nearby Walmart (eight miles) and meet the guy who played the kid on the banjo in the beginning of that movie. At least he worked there as late as 2014. Long drawls and extra vowels fill the speech of many who grow up here. While some of the modern world has pushed its way in, Hilly-billy Heaven still has a strong streak here.

What happened was we were driving east on the I-40 when a vehicle whizzed past us and another vehicle going over 80 (they all drive insane here) and then cuts both of us off – the driver behind us almost colliding with the back of our vehicle. We were going about 60 miles an hour, which is about the same as doing 40 mph on any other part of the country. The person who cut us off sticks out his entire arm and flips us off and kept it up there for us for a good half mile before cutting off another person to get into an off-ramp.

The person had a bumper stick. It read:


This, in essence, sums up the southern religious attitude.

It nagged on me for months. I was suspicious that it was a case of justification by faith alone – sola fide.

Then I was at lunch break last week and a co-worker (whose name, though I cannot repeat, would seem to be made up if I told it, but it is not a possible name outside of where I live) sat next to me and another individual. He started to talk about large slabs of salted and boiled pig’s meat his wife cooks him. Indicating with outstretched arms the size of these size hunks of flesh (three feet and longer) I, amazed and grossed out, asked him jokingly if he went to the cardiologist afterwards.

Being a man without a humor of self he assured me he wasn’t afraid to die. No? I asked. No, he told me. I know where I am going when I die.

And like a tumbler in a lock I had the combination. You believe. Therefore you are free to walk about the cabin and act any way you fucking well please cuz you justified. It explains all the behavior.

I am about to eat dinner, but if it were not for Catholicism, I would have nothing but the same disdain for religion I had most of my life.

6 thoughts on “Sola fide

  1. I, too, would disdain religious folks were that my only exposure. That “saved” attitude, down to the day, hour, and minute of salvation doesn’t lead to much humility. No “fear and trembling” as we make our way only by God’s grace. Yet, the attitude breeds even further arrogance because if any trepidation was shown it would question the belief. Hence, Christians doing really evil stuff, were never really saved — They did something wrong.

    Hoping your RCIA class isn’t a let down. Happy Halloween the American Catholic holiday.

    1. Agreed. Although, as I told taichiwawa below, to get specific in this is to come across a mine field of variables.

      It’s not at all a let down! I look forward to it every week. My instructor is really orthodox! Although he will not be teaching the Christian morality part of the course which worries me. I have a feeling we will be doused in modernism and some relativism. I’m pretty versed in philosophy and not too shabby on Catholic theology and social teaching so I don’t expect to be led to error. I’m not sure about the others though….

    1. Tricky.

      How do you mean? Would faith true, of itself, produce the actions? Man has free will. And nowadays he can be taught literally anything about his faith. Jesus spent a lot of time flapping his gums about correct behavior if all that was required was faith in him.

      Even when the faith was held in control with a magisterium it barely could contain the diverging views boiling over in the form of heresies and creative behavior.

      Also Christianity is not a worldly philosophical endeavor, so the world itself holds many trappings and man has free will. That is not really peculiar to Christianity so much as it is in the nature of the world, and of facts we have known since the ancients. It is, for instance, much easier to acquire a bad habit than it is to establish a good one which is why evil is so easy and the good way so hard. Lust is easier than enduring love, ugliness easier than beauty, sloth easier than effort.

      That said, I would expect at least something to manifest in one’s actions. However this depends also on what people are taught which was the point of my post. And what he can be taught is literally anything nowadays.

      He can be taught faith in Christ means hatred for others despite 2000 years of tradition saying the opposite (that is where sola scriptura comes in…). For instance, consider the issue of homosexuality. On the one hand you have the Westboro creatures who stand outside of funerals of homosexuals yelling and holding up signs that say GOD HATES FAGS; on the other extreme you have the considered response of the Catholic Church in the Catechism 2357-2359.

      As the Epistle of St. James says, “Faith without works is dead.” [As we know, Luther thought this an epistle of straw.]

      If we consider works action, then if one’s actions are not from what faith would bring, then it is faith dead.

      Of course, we are talking of general patterns of behavior, not exceptions. We are not talking about someone who succumbs to sporadic human frailties.

      Sorry. I don’t really consider my response an answer but merely a spatter of first thoughts on the subject. Your question opens a lot of other questions.

  2. As a Catholic analogue: confession without heartfelt repentance will not get you that golden ticket to the Chocolate Factory.

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