Sola Fide I: The Stench of Potpourri

PotpourriNot realizing the ramifications that would ensue, Marty dropped his list of grievances on the Manager’s (hereafter referred to as “The Man”) desk. He had been working for Potpourri Plush for years and years. Faithfully and almost flawlessly executing all of his duties, he was most loyal to the Company. Yet, he didn’t see it in such a light. He’d memorized and followed the Man’s Memos crossing every t and dotting every i, yet he just knew something was missing. The other Employees had looked upon him in confusion, not understanding his rigorous determination to please the President, according to the standards delineated by the Man. Regardless of the “better” Marty had done and the more disciplined he’d become, this missing component’s absence had grown like a Dark Cloud looming over him…consuming, overwhelming his entire livelihood. Potpourri Plush was his life!

If he ever wanted to be graced with the presence of the President, he would have to work hard. He felt it impossible. The more he mulled over the Man’s memos, the more inconsistencies and self-contradictions he found. This troubled him. Surely the Man was aware of such. Maybe it was a test. On one hand, the memos called for perfect attendance to Potpourri Plush’s scheduled work days. On the other hand, if certain employees missed, they could “buy out” the Man and be free from fear of reprisal. Yet, in the Man’s memos, there was no acknowledgement or attempt to reconcile the two apprarent contradictions.

As Marty pressed forward, albeit in blind loyalty to the Man’s memos, Providence intervened. Due to some recent renovation, Marty was asked by the Man to relocate to a much older office space. In fact, it was one of the originating spaces of the Company. While setting up his new office, Marty found a book called “The President’s Manual”. With veracious curiosity, Marty began to feast upon this presidential manna, noting its incredible similarities to the Man’s memos…but without the usual accompanying interpretations and traditions forced upon it. Unlike the Man’s self-contradictory, tradition-gridded memos, the President’s Manual had a beautiful cohesion about it…freeing Marty of the lingering Cloud above him.

Marty noted several liberating things in the President’s Manual. He learned that Potpourri was not as complicated and taxing as the Man’s memos had espoused. In fact, Marty learned that Potpourri Plush was never intended to function as a business in the first place! The President’s Scent was always intended as a free gift, given to Whom He pleased, whensoever He pleased. Furthermore, it wasn’t even called “Potpourri” originally. Nor was “Plush” anywhere in the mixture. It was a new name altogether! A name given by mere managers, in rebellion to the President’s initial intentions. Oh how Marty had misunderstood the President for so long, via the distorted picture he’d been handed from the Man’s memos. He’d thought it was a business. He’d thought it was an insurmountable task, only earned by militant perfection.

The President’s Manual told a different story. Though many words were similar to the phraseology found in the Man’s memos, they spoke of two very different views. The President was not a malicious businessman, hungry for lucre and gain; rather, He was a gracious man, giving His Scent to those who realized their great stench. The managers had seen fit, over the years, to ignore their own stench and profit from the destitute, who knew the gravity of their condition. Marty knew his well. He remembered the Dark Cloud which lingered about him. How it weighed him down and pushed him to despondency. Now there was New Hope!

Marty could not hold his zeal, nor keep it to himself. Immediately he began to list grievances against the Man’s memos, in light of the President’s Manual. Working furiously in time, he hoped to have the Man reconsider his ways and bring massive reforms. He also noted that if the other Employees saw these thoughts, they too might be liberated from the Dark Cloud. The next Day would be one of the Company’s most celebrated work Day. Every year on this Day their was a concentrated effort of workers and managers alike to focus on the “good” of the Company. Marty was resolved to bring his grievances to the Man this particular Day. Little did he realize the shockwaves that would resound in response to his meager thoughts.

Not realizing the ramifications that would ensue, Marty dropped his list of grievances on the Manager’s desk. Before the Man ever had opportunity to see it, his secretary took notice of it. She could not take her eyes or thoughts from it’s liberating, confrontational, tradition-challenging thoughts. She knew what to do. She would make copies and put it in all the Employees’ memorandum inboxes. Furthermore, she would scan the document, putting it into electronic form, and email it throughout. Such was the beginning of the Reformation of the President’s Company, bringing it back to its original roots and proclaiming the true nature of the President: Graciousness and Freedom From the Madeup Memos of the Managers.

On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenburg Chapel. Much like Marty (ahem…pun intended), Luther discovered some heart-wrenching inconsistencies in the establishment to which he belonged, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). He recognized the poor in heart being bogged down by the doctrines and commandments of men, thinking the way to God was through the mammoth RCC and her damning, unbiblical doctrines. Their only hope, according to these leaders (i.e. the managers, the Man) was to hope they could earn God’s favor by way of works, money, indulgences, etc. The RCC’s doctrine of Popery (potpourri 😉 plush) was a dark cloud making one fallible man the purveyor of all “truth”. However, God had a plan to reveal an essential doctrine of Biblical Christianity to a monk. This monk was Martin Luther who, by the grace of God, was changed by the fundamental doctrine Sola Fide.

Sola Fide means “faith alone.” Realizing the dissemination of such truth would turn them over on their backs, the leaders of the RCC scurried in frenzies to stop the spread of such a liberating doctrine. No longer would men feel the impossible pressure of having to earn their salvation via the extrabiblical commands of the RCC. No longer would it be about money, greed, corruption, etc. Rather, to whom God gives salvation, He gives freely by faith. This would be Luther’s Reformation Rally Cry. In Part II we will look more at the actual doctrine of Sola Fide.

7 thoughts on “Sola Fide I: The Stench of Potpourri

  1. Nice post. However, I have an academic question: If Sola Fide means “faith alone”, would this not mean a total rejection of dogma and doctrine in favor of a direct, personal connection with God? Can someone clarify?

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  2. S’akowin,

    “Sola Fide” proper is better understood within the greater context of the other “Solas” of the Reformation.

    1. Sola Gratia-Grace Alone
    2. Sola Fide-Faith Alone
    3. Soli Christo (some argue for “Solus Christus”)-Christ Alone
    4. Sola Scriptura-Scripture Alone
    5. Soli Deo Gloria-To the Glory of God Alone.

    So, that is to say:

    Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, and all this is to the glory of God alone.

    I hope that clarifies.

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  3. S’akowin

    While it’s true that “Faith”, in Christian Theology, does express a direct personal connection with God, we don’t mean by that something that can be had apart from knowing who He is (i.e. dogma). Faith always includes understanding, so to speak. It is never less than an apprehension of the truth. There may be more to it than that, but it is never without that. Thus believing correct dogma ‘is’ faith is some regards. If there is faith, it must be faith in something. A faith in nothing is not a faith that presumes that real and vital relation and dependence upon God, that ‘union’ with Christ, that we think of when we think of a Christian faith, and so a faith in Christ, which is more particularly what we mean by faith in Christian thought, than a faith in God in general.

    As the author of Hebrews writes on this, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone coming to God must first believe that He exists, and that He is that rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.” So there are at least two things there that are the content of faith.

    Jesus says that, “If you do not believe that I am the one I say I am you will die in your sins.” So there would be another thing. As to the total content of faith necessary for that kind of direct personal connection you write of, people disagree on the quantity and the particulars, but every Christian theological position holds at least something.

    Usually, the historic Church has held the minimum of necessary dogmatic apprehension for a true faith, or at least the things that cannot be dogmatically denied, to be the content of the “Apostles Creed”. Many denominations or sects tend to have their own little additions or things that they think are necessary components of orthodoxy, but for the most part only the big things, what Augustine called the “essentials” are considered dogma that is essential to faith.

    1. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,
    And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord,
    Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
    Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried;
    The third day he rose again from the dead;
    He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
    From there he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
    I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    I believe in the holy universal church,
    the communion of saints,
    The forgiveness of sins,
    The resurrection of the body,
    And the life everlasting.

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