Faith and Works


Faith – belief in God / relationship with God / acceptance of religious teachings

Works – good deeds, sacraments, rituals

Grace – free gift, not a reward

Salvation – eternal union with God (heaven)

Views of works

Works can be counter-productive

Works can be nice

Works are essential to salvation

Views of salvation

Catholicism: Faith and works are inseparable on the road to salvation

Luther: The choice to respond to God’s call to faith leads to salvation

Calvin: God saves whomever God chooses, humans have no say in the matter

21st century (?): Works are most important, religion may or may not be helpful

Salvation outside the church?

Is Gandhi in heaven?

No – dominant view until 20th century, many still

Maybe – 20th century Catholicism

Yes – popular view in 21st century America

Different concepts of hell

Punishment for bad deeds

Absence of God

Reading Responses


What would a Protestant say if someone their whole life a bad person like a murderer, but he was extremely devout in his faith. Would he be saved or damned?

What would Luther say about absolutely horrible people who are devoutly Catholic [Christian] and fully accept faith? Would they still go to heaven?


According to Calvin, can murderers be sent to heaven if they made God's list?

Why did Calvin believe in predestination?

Would this bring into question that life is meaningless and there is no point in being good since most of us are going to hell?