Okay, dig this: I was reading in the back of the 1979 BCP the Cannons of Faith, and came across this:
X. Of Free Will.
The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn
and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to
faith, and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good
works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ
preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when
we have that good will.
XI. Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or
deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most
wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely expressed
in the Homily of Justification.
XII. Of Good Works.
Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after
Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of
God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ,
and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith; insomuch that
by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by
Now, I read all that and thought, "Wait a second... if Faith is all that is needed to be saved, why do good works? It's not as though anything benefits you from doing them... or does it?" You see, it's more like this: that Faith instead engenders us to know the Mind of God, and in so doing, allows us to do those works which are pleasing to him (and therefore good, since I take it like most everyone else that God == Good in a very Platonic sense). However, each of us has a soul, and it is by Works, which is nothing more than being the Hand to the Mind of God, that your soul is made better.
And then, I thought, what if that is a definition of Jesus? What if Jesus very early on connected fully with the mind of God, and was then engendered to do the greatest of these works? And also perhaps this is the explanation of his apostles, and all other saints who perform miracles -- they are simply those who have come to know fully the Good, i.e. God. God therefore is no less open to us now than he was before (ditch that line about "well it was only in the past-times" and the tendency to read Hebrew scripture as the long departure from God), and we ought to be able, with enough patience and energy, to do good, even miraculous, works.
This is wonderful news, if it be true. God did not turn God's face from us; we turned our faces from God, and thus, being self-absorbed, we managed to reach the spheres and find them empty. Let us turn back to God, who waits for us with patience that would try any time-bound being, and put our trust in God.
I'm still having trouble with the salvific cross, though. That's going to take some time.