The Good Thief and Salvation by Faith Alone

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

With these words, St. Dismas (one of the two thieves crucified with Jesus) was saved by Our Lord who promised: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43).

Unfortunately, some Christians cite this beautiful story as evidence against the Catholic theology of salvation, claiming that salvation is by faith alone and anything in addition is contrary to the gospel. (This is the Reformation doctrine of sola fide). After all, they point out, the thief on the cross was never baptized, never received the Eucharist, never did any good works—yet he was saved!

But there are several problems with proof-texting St. Dismas in this manner.