Faith without works
With the beginning of the Catholic/Protestant war of the 16th century, faith—from the Protestant perspective—finally became little more than a mental confession that a person could not save him/herself. Faith was left bloodless and “ethic-less”. By the time the battle lines were fully drawn and the war against “a Catholic works salvation” was well under way, faith as presented in the entire biblical witness was not in sight.
"Faith" was now used to prove that Catholicism was wrong. It became a doctrinal war cry and into it was poured this and only this—“You can’t save yourself!” In that climate everything about faith was dismissed (not denied!) and orthodoxy became defined by one’s doctrinal correctness—“Faith means you can’t save yourself.”
You don’t find this lop-sided view of faith in the Bible. Faith is certainly trust (the psalms are saturated with that truth) but not trust in isolation. What the worst face of the Reformation wanted was a “workless” salvation and the word “faith” came to stand for “a workless inner understanding”; faith became nothing more than a theological way of believing things. It wasn’t allowed to be a moral reality for that would only allow Catholicism a foot in the door. All moral nature and content had to be removed from “faith” and it became “a trust without moral content.”
But in the NT’s Hebrews 11, faith builds arks, leaves home, defies genocidal governments, marches around city walls, goes to war, refuses to live peaceably with paganism and dies before betraying the faith, and so forth.
In times of great crisis (in awful war or horrifying calamity or personal devastation) to believe is moral heroism. To live in squalor and deprivation and continue to believe defies despair and prophesies the downfall of corruption and greed. Without the element of trust in faith that God will right all wrongs nothing of full faith exists or makes sense; but to water faith down to nothing but a denominational war cry, “I can’t save myself from sin,” is injurious and false to the biblical witness.
Faith insists that salvation is of God alone but the full story is not about what humans can’t do, it’s about what they do! They scorn all appearances, all pain, all failure and profound loss and in the name of God they put their foot on the neck of despair and say a permanent, No!