Are We Saved by Faith Alone or by Faith that Is Not Alone?
The Traditionalists use such statements as:
"A person is justified by faith alone BUT NOT by a faith that is alone"
(Which I stumbled across again recently in a Traditionalist's article at the blog named Expository Thoughts, which by the way, was linked to by a Free Grace brother on his website.)
By this sentence, they are, in fact, speaking nonsense. All this sentence is simply saying is that faith + works saves. The cleverness of the prose serves to conceal this fact. Proverbial sayings like this have been passed on in the theology textbooks for centuries. Yet for all intents and purposes, it is devoid of meaning, and furthermore, contradictory.
They say, "You aren't saved by faith alone, but you are saved by a faith that is not alone."
What is it not alone from?
Obvious answer: works.
Their pithy little statement says, in effect:
You are saved by faith that is accompanied by works (IOW, a faith that is not alone).
You cannot be saved by faith alone and at the same time be saved by faith that is not alone (apart from works).
How is this so difficult to understand?
The Traditionalists are so worried about Antinomianism that they fatally mar the gospel message by the introduction of a works contingency: Final salvation becomes conditioned on the supposed progressive sanctification and obedience til death that is supposedly necessitated by faith.
"You are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves you is never alone."
Let me complete it: "You are saved by faith alone (apart from works), but the faith that saves you is never alone (apart from works)." This is internally inconsistent, absurd, and heretical.
A person is saved by faith alone, and by faith that is alone. Faith plus anything = works salvation.