The simpleminded generalization is that Protestants not Catholics quote Scripture. But it didn’t hold up tonight. It was Kerry who had James 2:14 and 2:26 at the tip of his tongue:
What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead.
[In the RSV: What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? . . . As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.]
These are heavily freighted verses. Between Catholics and Protestants, faith versus works is a crucial theological issue, probably the most crucial. The simpleminded generalization is that Catholics put more emphasis on works, Protestants on faith. But even the strictest Protestants don’t believe that a person may be so confident of his salvation that his works don’t matter. The idea that a saved soul may act lawlessly is, in fact, a heresy—antinomianism.
This is far from an accidental choice of verses on Kerry’s part. These are probably the aptest lines in the Bible to prove what he said about his opponent in the first debate: “It’s one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong.”