A Response to Robert Sungenis’s Not by Faith Alone -- By: Robert N. Wilkin

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 16:2 (Autumn 2003)
Article: A Response to Robert Sungenis’s Not by Faith Alone
Author: Robert N. Wilkin

A Response to Robert Sungenis’s Not by Faith Alone1

Robert N. Wilkin

Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Irving, Texas

I. Introduction

Robert Sungenis grew up in a Roman Catholic home. As a young man, he converted to the Protestant faith and decided to go into the ministry. He then attended Westminster Theological Seminary, one of the leading Reformed seminaries in America, graduating in 1982. For ten years he was a strong proponent of Protestantism and Reformed theology.

In 1992 he reconverted to Roman Catholicism, and is now an active apologist for Catholicism. This book is his magnum opus.

This book is long and academic in nature. Evidently Sungenis was targeting a more scholarly audience. However, in an “Author’s Note to Readers,” we are told, “This book is designed to be read by both layman and scholar.”2

The book opens with a series of endorsements by Roman Catholics. The very first, by “The Most Reverend Fabian W. Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln,” gives a flavor for the book. While I normally don’t quote endorsements, this one is exceptional. Bruskewitz writes in part:

Faith implies works. We know that the words we long to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant…come share your Master’s joy” (Mt. 25:21), will be spoken to those who have done well. Faith alone is not enough. The Protestant Reformation sowed confusion about the biblical theology of faith and good works and many today rely on this confusion to defend or excuse a failure to live holy lives of service and goodness.

Robert Sungenis has systematically addressed the confusion and demonstrated what we have always known, namely the Sacred Scripture and the Catholic Deposit of Faith are in complete agreement about justification. I applaud this work, and recommend it for all who wish to know how and why the Bible teaches that we are not saved by faith alone.3

The book has just nine chapters covering a little over 600 pages (excluding the appendixes, bibliography, final prayers, and indexes). Thus each chapter is almost an entire book in itself. The nine chapters cover:

  • Paul and justification,
  • James chapter 2 and justification,
  • Jesus’ teaching on justification,
  • Justification as an ongoing process,
  • Justification is infused, not imputed, righteou...
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