Monday, August 27, 2007

Your Weekly Dose of Gospel
...a look at Rome's teaching on salvation and justification

...Through Rome Colored Glasses
I have been in discussion over at Roman Catholic apologist, Jimmy Akin's blog, these past few days trying to get anyone there to biblically apply the standard of God's Word to some specious and skewed statements I posted there made by the late Mother Teresa concerning salvation. What was very interesting to me, not one Roman Catholic at Jimmy Akin's blog could, would, or did give one Scriptural reference to either support her words or deny them (examples below). Not one.

With "Eggs-Benedict" all over their face, no matter how many times I simply asked that question, the "Vatican two-step" began immediately and they would not site one passage of Scripture to defend or deny MT's views.

In fact Jimmy A (who I fondly call, "The Catholic Cowboy") was so frustrated with me referring to Catholics as Romanists or even Roman Catholics (RCC) and that I shared two stories of two individuals that I know personally (one a Romanist, the other Dr. John MacArthur) where both met with Mother Teresa and shared that in her hut she hung on the walls "Hindu deities" to which she paid homage, that he created two new rules for his blog. You see, the doctrinal influence I bring to Romanists around the globe knows no bounds :-). (Having more fun than a Reformed Baptist deserves to).

Here is a sample of some of Mother Teresa's views:

In her book, Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations and Prayers, she says: “If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, [Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics] this is the way God comes into their life — his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation.” (Pages 81-82)

In an interview with Christian News a nun who worked with Mother Teresa was asked the following in regards to the Hindus they worked with, “These people are waiting to die. What are you telling them to prepare them for death and eternity?” She replied candidly, “We tell them to pray to their Bhagwan, to their gods.” (emphasis mine).

A Simple Path is a compilation of the teachings and meditations of Mother Teresa. In the foreword we read, “The Christian way has always been to love God and ones neighbor as oneself. Yet Mother Teresa has, perhaps with the influence of the East, distilled six steps to creating peace in ourselves and others that can be taken by anyone — even someone of no religious beliefs or of a religious background other than Christian — with no insult to beliefs or practices. This is why, when reading Mother Teresa’s words and those of her community, we may, if we choose, replace the references to Jesus with references to other godheads or symbols of divinity.” (emphasis mine).

“I love all religions. … If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there.” Or in another place, “All is God — Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God.” (emphasis mine).
Recent attention in the news concerning MT's Crisis of Faith (her own "Dark Night of the Soul") revealed a very troubled woman who not only was overwhelmed by the plight of so many she faithfully and selflessly served, but more importantly her lack of assurance in God, Jesus Christ and the exclusivity of the gospel. I am convinced that one reason she embraced all religions as having the same access and worship to the same God, is because she lacked assurance and confidence in salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone.

We all need to find comfort in the sovereignty of our God in the midst of tremendous pain and suffering don't we? In my darkest moments, I must run to Him who knows all things from the beginning to the end; and orchestrates all things for my good and His glory. What hope there is in the Lord when the questions are burdensome, and the night seems to go on with no light in sight (cf, Gen. 5:20; Psalm 139; Lam. 3:37-39; Phil. 4). Listen, sovereignty does not rob man of his assurance in the faith, but strengthens it. We are preserved in Christ so that we may persevere for Christ (Romans 8:28ff; 2 Peter 1:4-12; 1 John 2:28-3:1).

This is a very important issue beloved: what is salvation; what is the essence of saving faith; and once I am saved, what is the foundation and source of my assurance for all eternity? I wanted to raise this issue here, for as you know, not so few evangelicals consider Mother Teresa a genuine born again Christian. Even in a reformed PCA church I once attended in Nashville some years ago, the pastor there would boast of Mother Teresa saying, "she is the greatest example of a Christian in our generation!" No question she was a great humanitarian; but does caring for the poor merit salvation? According to some it does (they wrongly interpret or appropriate Matthew 25:31-46 as being the root of salvation, not the fruit of salvation [cp, James 2:14-26]).

What do you say? Is Romanism a true church, representing a true gospel, based upon Scripture alone and faith in Christ alone? OR, is it something contrary... another gospel masked in familiar religious language?

In light of that discussion, today's "Your Weekly Dose of Gospel" will feature an encore presentation by my friend William Webster that I posted back in May of this year. His words demanded a repost due to the urgency of the discussion at Jimmy A's. I hope it will bless you again and encourage you to the surety of the faith: that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

This article is lengthy, but worth every word.

Sola fide,
Steve
Romans 3:21-26

PS - For the record, I like those people at Jimmy A's very much. They are passionate about what they believe in, very lively and colorful in their choice of words, will "go to the mattresses" at a moments notice for their convictions, and when push comes to shove - they really do believe Roman doctrine - that Popes and Magistariums are to be trusted over the authority, sufficiency, veracity of God's Word... Like 'em or leave 'em... at least they are consistent.


by William Webster
Roman Catholic theology does not embrace the interpretation of salvation and justification as that presented by Scripture and the Protestant Reformers. The Roman Church does teach that we are justified by grace through faith on account of Christ. What is missing, however, is the word alone. By omitting this word the Roman Church redefines grace, faith and justification in a way that undermines and invalidates the teaching of Scripture. This will become clear as we examine the specific definitions given these terms by the official Magisterium of the Church of Rome.

The Roman View of the Work of Christ
Rome says that Christ made an atonement for sin, meriting the grace by which a person is justified but that the work of Christ is not the exclusive cause of an individual’s justification and salvation. Ludwig Ott makes this statement:

Christ’s redemptive activity finds its apogee in the death of sacrifice on the cross. On this account it is by excellence but not exclusively the efficient cause of our redemption....No one can be just to whom the merits of Christ’s passion have not been communicated. It is a fundamental doctrine of St. Paul that salvation can be acquired only by the grace merited by Christ (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford: Tan, 1974), pp. 185, 190).

According to the Church of Rome, Christ did not accomplish a full, finished and completed salvation in his work of atonement. His death on the cross did not deal with the full penalty of man's sin. It merited grace for man which is then channeled to the individual through the Roman Catholic Church and its sacraments. This grace then enables man to do works of righteousness in order to merit justification and eternal life. Robert Sungenis expresses the Roman Catholic perspective in these words:

What did Christ's suffering and death actually accomplish that allowed the Father to provide the human race with salvation? Did Christ take within himself the sin and guilt of mankind and suffer the specific punishment for that sin and guilt, as Protestants contend? The answer is no...Christ did not take upon himself the entire punishment required of man for sin. Rather, Scripture teaches only that Christ became a 'propitiation,' a 'sin offering,' or a 'sacrifice' for sins...Essentially, this means that Christ, because he was guiltless, sin-free and in favor with God, could offer himself up as a means of persuading God to relent of his angry wrath against the sins of mankind. Sin destroys God's creation. God, who is a passionate and sensitive being, is angry against man for harming the creation. Anger against sin shows the personal side of God, for sin is a personal offense against him. We must not picture God as an unemotional courtroom judge who is personally unharmed by the sin of the offender brought before him. God is personally offended by sin and thus he needs to be personally appeased in order to offer a personal forgiveness. In keeping with his divine principles, his personal nature, and the magnitude of the sins of man, the only thing that God would allow to appease him was the suffering and death of the sinless representative of mankind, namely, Christ (Robert Sungenis, Not By Faith Alone (Santa Barbara: Queenship, 1997), pp. 107-108).

What Sungenis is saying is that Christ's death merely appeased God's anger against man. He persuades God to relent of his anger and to offer a means of forgiveness to man. And that means is through man's own works cooperating with the grace of God. Grace is not the activity of God in Christ purchasing and accomplishing full salvation and eternal life and applying this to man as a gift. And it is not a completed work. Rather, grace is a supernatural quality, infused into the soul of man through the sacraments, enabling him to do works of expiation and righteousness. These works then become the basis of justification. In the Roman theology of justification there is an ongoing need to deal with sin in order to maintain a state of grace, and a need for positive acts of righteousness, which originate from that grace and then become the basis for one’s justification. So man’s works must be added to the work of Christ, in particular, the work of the sacraments. Consequently, justification is not a once–for–all declaration of righteousness based upon the imputed righteousness of Christ, but a process that is dependent upon the righteousness of man produced through infused grace.

The Sacraments
In Roman Catholic teaching there is no salvation apart from participation in the sacraments mediated through its priesthood. The Roman Church teaches that she is the mediator between Christ and the individual. Saving grace is mediated through these sacraments. John Hardon, author of The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism (which carries the official authorization of the Vatican) says this:
Why did Christ establish the Church?
Christ established the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation.

How is the Church the universal sacrament of salvation?
The Church is the universal sacrament of salvation as the divinely instituted means of conferring grace on all the members of the human family.

What does the Catholic Church believe about the forgiveness of sins?
She believes it is God’s will that no one is forgiven except through the merits of Jesus Christ and that these merits are uniquely channeled through the Church He founded. Consequently, even as the Church is the universal sacrament of salvation, she is also the universal sacrament of reconciliation.

How does the Church communicate the merits of Christ’s mercy to sinners?

The Church communicates the merits of Christ’s mercy to sinners through the Mass and the sacraments and all the prayers and good works of the faithful.

Are the sacraments necessary for salvation?

According to the way God has willed that we be saved the sacraments are necessary for salvation
(John Hardon, The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism (Garden City: Image, 1981), Questions # 401, 402, 461, 462, 1119).

These words clearly express the official position of the Church of Rome. There is no salvation apart from participation in the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. There is no other means of obtaining saving grace. Hardon’s words echo the teaching of the Council of Trent:

If any one saith that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation...and that without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain from God, through faith alone, the grace of justification...let him be anathema (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Found in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1919), Canon IV, p. 119).

According to Rome, there are three main sacraments necessary for justification and ultimate salvation. These sacraments supposedly communicate grace to an individual and help to maintain him in a state of sanctifying grace. They are baptism, penance, and the eucharist/mass. Through baptism, an individual is brought into a state of regeneration and sanctifying grace. The guilt and punishment for original sin and for all sins committed up to the point of baptism are forgiven in the sacrament of baptism. However, sins committed after baptism must be dealt with through the sacraments of penance and the mass. This is especially true for mortal sin which is said to kill the spiritual life in the soul and cause the loss of sanctifying grace and, therefore, of justification. In order to regain the state of grace the individual must participate in the sacraments. As Ott stated, the atonement of Christ is not the exclusive cause of man’s redemption. Man must supplement the work of Christ for sins committed after baptism by partially atoning and expiating his own sin through penance. Trent states that no one can be justified apart from the sacrament of penance (the confession of sin to a Roman Catholic priest, receiving his absolution and performing the required penance):

As regards those who, by sin, have fallen from the received grace of Justification, they may again be justified...through the sacrament of Penance...For, on behalf of those who fall into sins after baptism, Christ Jesus instituted the sacrament of Penance...and therein are included not only a cessation from sins, and a detestation thereof, or, a contrite and humble heart, but also the sacramental confession of said sins...and sacerdotal absolution; and likewise satisfaction by fasts, alms, prayers, and the other pious exercises of the spiritual life...for the temporal punishment, which...is not always wholly remitted.

If any one saith that he who has fallen after baptism...is able to recover the justice which he has lost...by faith alone without the sacrament of Penance...let him be anathema (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Found in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1910), Decree on Justification, Chapter XIV. Canon XXIX.

John Hardon also emphasizes the necessity of penance as a work of expiation:
Penance is...necessary because we must expiate and make reparation for the punishment which is due our sins...We make satisfaction for our sins by every good act we perform in the state of grace but especially by prayer, penance and the practice of charity (John Hardon, The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism (Garden City: Image, 1981), Question #1320).
In addition to Penance the Church teaches the necessity for the mass as an expiation for sins committed after baptism. The mass is the re–sacrifice of Jesus Christ as a propitiation for sin. It is declared by Trent to be a propitiatory sacrifice and necessary for salvation:
In this divine sacrifice...that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross...This sacrifice is truly propitiatory...If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice...and that it ought not to be offered for the living and dead for sins, pains, satisfactions and other necessities: let him be anathema (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Found in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1910), Doctrine on the Sacrifice of the Mass, Chp. II, p. 180, Canon III).
John Hardon says:
The Sacrifice of the altar... is no mere empty commemoration of the Passion and death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice. Christ, the eternal High Priest, in an unbloody way offers himself a most acceptable Victim to the eternal Father as He did upon the Cross...In the Mass, no less than on Calvary, Jesus really offers His life to His heavenly Father...The Mass, therefore, no less than the Cross, is expiatory for sins (emphasis mine) (John Hardon, The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism (Garden City: Image, 1981), Questions #1265, 1269, 1277).
Note the assertion here that in the mass Christ offers himself as a Victim for sin in sacrifice just as he did on Calvary. The mass, no less than Calvary, is expiatory for sin because the mass is supposedly the same sacrifice as Calvary. According to Rome, then, the offering of Christ in sacrifice is not finished but continues and is perpetuated through time. But such teaching contradicts Scripture. The word of God teaches that Christ has made a complete propitiation for sin through his once–for–all sacrifice of atonement. It is finished. The Greek word translated once–for–all is ephapax. It is used in particular with reference to Jesus’ death and communicates the thought that Christ’s death is a finished work which cannot be repeated or perpetuated:
Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives He lives to God (Rom. 6:10).
Jesus' death was a unique historic event which is completed and therefore he can never experience death again. In addition to Paul’s affirmation of this, Jesus himself states: ‘I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore’ (Rev. 1:18). The word used to describe the death of Jesus as a finished work—ephapax—is the same word used to describe his sacrifice and the offering of his body (Heb. 10:10; 9:25–26). Just as Christ cannot die again, neither can his body be offered again or his sacrifice be continued for sin. This is because apart from his death there is no sacrifice that is propitiatory for sin. What made his sacrifice propitiatory in God’s eyes was his death. Hebrews 9:22 makes this point: ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’ As a result then of this one sacrifice, the bible teaches that God has accomplished a sufficient and finished atonement. Since Christ cannot die again there is no more sacrifice for sin and therefore the mass cannot be the same sacrifice as Calvary. On the basis of that finished work God now offers complete and total forgiveness to man. There is no more sacrifice for sin: ‘Where there is forgiveness of these things there is no longer any offering for sin’ (Heb. 10:18). And since there is no need for further sacrifice, Scripture also teaches that there is no need for a continuing sacerdotal priesthood. Christ has fulfilled the Old Testament ceremonial law and it is now abrogated (Heb. 7:11–19). He has become our Sacrifice and Priest and the only Mediator by which we approach God (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:22–25). Christ’s atonement has completely removed the guilt of our sin and its condemnation because he has paid the penalty in full. To suggest that a sacrament is necessary to continue to offer Christ’s body and blood to make sacrifice for sin is completely antithetical to the teaching of Scripture, and undermines the sufficiency of Christ’s work. This teaching of the mass as a perpetuation of the sacrifice of Christ which is propitaitory for sin was a point of universal opposition by the Reformers. They vigorously objected to this teaching on Scriptural grounds that it made void the cross of Christ. These comments from Scottish Reformer, John Knox, and English Reformer, Nicholas Ridley are representative:
John Knox: How can you deny the opinion of your Mass to be false and vain? You say it is a sacrifice for sin, but Jesus Christ and Paul say, The only death of Christ was sufficient for sin, and after it resteth none other sacrifice...I know you will say, it is none other sacrifice, but the self same, save that it is iterated (repeated) and renewed. But the words of Paul bind you more straitly than that so you may escape: for in his whole disputation, contendeth he not only that there is no other sacrifice for sin, but also that the self same sacrifice, once offered, is sufficient, and never may be offered again. For otherwise of no greater price, value, nor extenuation, should the death of Christ be, than the death of those beasts which were offered under the Law: which are proved to be of none effect, nor strength, because it behooves them often times to be repeated. The Apostle, by comparing Jesus Christ to the Levitical priests, and his sacrifice unto theirs, maketh the matter plain that Christ might be offered but once (John Knox, A Vindication of the Doctrine That the Mass Is Idolatry. Found in The Works of John Knox (Edinburgh: James Thin, 1895), Volume III, p. 56. Language revised by William Webster)
Nicholas Ridley: Concerning the Romish mass which is used at this day or the lively sacrifice thereof, propitiatory and available for the sins of the quick and the dead, the holy Scripture hath not so much as one syllable...Now the falseness of the proposition, after the meaning of the schoolmen and the Roman Church and impiety in that sense which the words seem to import is this, that they, leaning to the foundation of their fond transubstantiation, would make the quick and lively body of Christ’s flesh, united and knit to the divinity, to lurk under the accidents and outward shows of bread and wine; which is very false...And they, building upon this foundation, do hold that the same body is offered unto God by the priest in his daily massings to put away the sins of the quick and the dead. Whereas by the Apostle to the Hebrews it is evident that there is but one oblation and one true and lively sacrifice of the church offered upon the altar of the cross, which was, is and ever shall be for ever the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and where there is remission of the same there is (saith the Apostle) no more offering for sin (Nicholas Ridley, Examinations of the Eucharist. Found in The Library of Christian Classics (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966), Volume XXVI, pp. 314–315).
In addition to expiation through personal penance and the mass, the Roman Catholic Church also teaches that sin can be expiated through the sufferings of purgatory after one dies and through indulgences. Many are acquainted with the fact that the doctrines of purgatory and indulgences were the catalyst for the Reformation but are unaware that they are still part of the official teaching of the Church. While the abuses of the doctrine of indulgences which led to the Reformation have been repudiated, the actual doctrine itself is still in force. The Church of Rome teaches that through indulgences the temporal punishment for sin can be expiated. Indulgences are applied through the authority of the pope from what is known as the Treasury of Satisfaction or Merit. This treasury consists of the merit of Christ in addition to the merit of all the saints and can be applied to individuals as remission for sins thereby mitigating the punishment due them either here or in purgatory. In 1967 Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical on Indulgences entitled Indulgentiarum Doctrina. This encyclical reaffirms the medieval teaching:

The doctrine of purgatory clearly demonstrates that even when the guilt of sin has been taken away, punishment for it or the consequences of it may remain to be expiated and cleansed. They often are. In fact, in purgatory the souls of those 'who died in the charity of God and truly repentant, but who had not made satisfaction with adequate penance for their sins and omissions' are cleansed after death with punishments designed to purge away their debt...Following in Christ’s steps, those who believe in him have always tried to help one another along the path which leads to the heavenly Father, through prayer, the exchange of spiritual goods and penitential expiation. The more they have been immersed in the fervor of love, the more they have imitated Christ in his sufferings. They have carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others. They were convinced that they could help their brothers to obtain salvation from God who is the Father of mercies. This is the very ancient dogma called the Communion of Saints...The “treasury of the Church” is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy. This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body...God’s only-begotten Son... has won a treasure for the militant Church... he has entrusted it to blessed Peter, the key-bearer of heaven, and to his successors who are Christ’s vicars on earth, so that they may distribute it to the faithful for their salvation. They may apply it with mercy for reasonable causes to all who have repented for and have confessed their sins. At times they may remit completely, and at other times only partially, the temporal punishment due to sin in a general as well as in special ways (insofar as they judge it to be fitting in the sight of the Lord). The merits of the Blessed Mother of God and of all the elect ... are known to add further to this treasure (Paul VI, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, January 1, 1967).

Through its doctrines of confession and penance, the mass, purgatory, indulgences the Church of Rome adds sacramental and moral works to the work of Christ. Justification and salvation are not through Christ alone but are instead a cooperative effort between Christ and man. Rome claims that it teaches justification by grace alone through the merits of Christ alone. The problem is that her interpretation is not the Scriptural teaching of grace alone and Christ alone. Just using the word does not mean that one is using it in a scriptural way. After all, Pelagius did not deny the need for grace. He used the term and affirmed it. The problem was not in the use of the word but in the interpretation he applied to it. Though he used the word his interpretation undermined its biblical meaning. This is precisely what the Roman Catholic Church has done with respect to its interpretation of grace and the work of Christ. While affirming these biblical doctrines, its interpretation of what they mean actually undermines their biblical meaning. When scripture says that justification is by grace on account of Christ it means on account of Christ exclusively, completely apart from the works of man or sacraments.

The Roman Teaching of Grace and Justification
When Rome states that an individual is justified by grace she means that grace has been infused into the soul of man. This makes him righteous before God and enables him to perform acts of righteousness. These then become the basis of justification and the means whereby he merits heaven. Justification is a process then by which the individual is made righteous in a moral sense. The Roman Catholic Church interprets the phrase the righteousness of God to mean a human righteousness which has its source in the grace of God, channeled through sacraments. But the righteousness itself is the work of man cooperating with that grace. The righteousness of God then is not the righteousness of Christ but rather the righteousness of man which results from the gift of grace, the source of which is God. The Roman Catholic theologian William Marshner explains the Roman Catholic position in these words:

Now, if what Paul means by dikaiosune theou (righteousness of God) is not something to remain in God but something to be conferred on us, then we must reckon with that mysterious possibility: a quality of man which is the property of God! Does St. Paul say anything to indicate a knowledge of this possibility? Indeed he does: ‘God has made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we in him might become justice of God’ (II Cor. 5:21)...It is not a question of replacement but of participation, and the participation is real in both directions. First in Jesus: just as really as the Word took our humanity, just that really his humanity became God. And then in us: just as really as Christ–God took our sins (so really that even the Father forsook Him—Mark 15:34), just that really we receive God’s justice. For if we dare to believe that in the Incarnation our nature, without ceasing to be a human nature, received God’s subsistence, then we may easily believe that we, in Christ, receive God’s justice as our quality. In fact, St. Paul even has a name for this quality. In the very next verse (II Cor. 6:1) he says: ‘As God’s co–workers, we beg you once again not to have received God’s grace in vain.’ What we should not ‘receive in vain’ is exactly what Paul has just said we have ‘become’ in Christ. God’s justice is His grace, a gift given to men. That is why the justice of God is identically ‘the justice which comes from God through faith’ (Philippians 3:9). What emerges from these texts then, is the existence in man of a justice conferred by God (William Marshner, Justification by Faith. Taken from Reasons for Hope: Catholic Apologetics (Front Royal: Christendom College, 1978), pp. 232-233).

Marshner equates the righteousness of God in justification with the righteousness of man in sanctification. This view is a fundamental contradiction of the biblical teaching that the righteousness of God in justification is the righteousness of Christ in his work of atonement. Marshner is correct in stating that just as our sins were imputed to Christ, so a real righteousness is given to the believer. However, it is a righteousness that is already complete and not something that must be worked out by man. We can agree with him when he says that ‘God’s justice is His grace, a gift given to men.’ This is the point the Reformers made in their controversy with Rome. God’s grace in justification is the provision of a completed, finished righteousness given as a gift which eternally justifies us in the eyes of God. But Marshner misinterprets the Scriptures when he refers to this righteousness as the process of sanctification in the life of the believer, rather than the righteousness of Christ himself. By defining justifying grace as God’s gift of the righteousness of sanctification, Marshner, and Roman Catholicism as a whole, misinterprets the biblical meaning of grace with respect to justification.

The Council of Trent explicitly condemned the biblical teaching of the imputed righteousness of Christ himself for justification:
If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby he merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just, let him be anathema (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Found in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1910), Decree on Justification, Chapter VII, Canons X, XXXII).
Trent teaches that men are justified by the righteousness of Christ only in the sense that in his atonement he has merited the grace which is infused into man for salvation. Trent denied that men are justified by the righteousness of Christ alone imputed to the believer. Trent taught that the righteousness which justifies is the work of the regenerated believer cooperating with the grace that Christ merited. So justification is equated with regeneration and sanctification. Rome does not acknowledge sanctification and justification as separate works of God in salvation. It makes human works the basis for justification which merit eternal life:
Justification...is not the remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man.
If any one saith, that the good works of the one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, and does not truly merit increase in grace, eternal life, and the attainment of eternal life, if so be, that he depart in grace, and an increase in glory, let him be anathema (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Found in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1910), Decree on Justification, Chapter VII, Canons X, XXXII).

Ludwig Ott emphasizes this in these words:
Justification is the declaration of the righteousness of the believer before the judgment seat of Christ...The Council of Trent teaches that for the justified eternal life is both a gift or grace promised by God and a reward for his own good works and merits... According to Holy Writ, eternal blessedness in heaven is the reward...for good works performed on this earth, and rewards and merit are correlative concepts (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford: Tan, 1974), pp.254, 264).
John Hardon likewise confirms this point of view when he writes:
Habitual or sanctifying grace is a supernatural quality that dwells in the human soul, by which a person shares in the divine nature, becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit, a friend of God, his adopted child, and able to perform actions meriting eternal life (John Hardon, The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism (Garden City: Image, 1981), Question #1074).
So Roman Catholic theology teaches that justification is obtained by receiving grace through baptism, and is maintained through the sacrament of penance, the mass and the works of sanctification which in turn merit eternal life. It is important to point out that sanctification in Roman Catholic theology is not only the righteous acts of individuals cooperating with the grace of God but participation in the sacraments of the Church. A state of sanctifying grace, by which a person is justified, cannot be maintained apart from the sacraments. Justification then is not by grace alone (in the biblical sense) or on account of Christ alone (in the biblical sense). Therefore it is not by faith alone (in the biblical sense). In fact, the Council of Trent condemned the teaching of justification by faith alone stating:
If anyone saith that by faith alone the impious is justified in such wise as to mean that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtaining the grace of Justification...let him be anathema...After this Catholic doctrine on justification which whosoever does not faithfully and firmly accept cannot be justified... (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Found in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1910), Decree on Justification, Chapter XVI, Canon IX).
John Gerstner gives a clear and concise summation of the Roman Catholic view of justification in contrast to the Protestant view in these words:
Some Romanists will say that they too teach justification by grace—by Christ’s righteousness, in fact. But the righteousness of Christ which they claim justifies is not Christ’s own personal righteousness reckoned or credited or given or imputed to believers. Romanists refer to the righteousness which Christ works into the life of the believer or infuses into him in his own living and behavior. It is not Christ’s personal righteousness but the believer’s personal righteousness, which he performs by the grace of God. It is Christ’s righteousness versus the believer’s own righteousness. It is Christ’s achievement versus the Christian’s achievement. It is an imputed righteousness not an infused righteousness. It is a gift of God versus an accomplishment of man. These two righteousnesses are as different as righteousnesses could conceivable be. It does come down to the way it has been popularly stated for the last four and a half centuries: Protestantism’s salvation by faith versus Rome’s salvation by works...The Protestant trusts Christ to save him and the Catholic trusts Christ to help him save himself. It is faith versus works. Or, as the Spirit of God puts it in Romans 4:16 (NIV), ‘Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace, and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring.’ It is ‘by faith so that it may be by grace...’ If a Romanist wants to be saved by grace alone, it will have to be by faith alone. ‘The promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace.’ You can’t be saved ‘sola gratia’ except ‘sola fide.’...We agree with Roman friends—salvation is by grace. That is the reason it must be by faith. If it is a salvation based on works that come from grace, it is not based on grace but on the Christian’s works that come from grace. The works that come from grace must prove grace but they cannot be grace. They may come from, be derivative of, a consequence of, but they cannot be identified with it. Faith is merely union with Christ who is our righteousness, our grace, our salvation. 1 Corinthians 1:30, ‘It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus who has become for us wisdom from God,’ that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Christ is our righteousness. Our righteousness does not result from His righteousness, it is His righteousness (Justification by Faith Alone, Don Kistler, Ed. (Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria, 1995), John Gerstner, The Nature of Justifying Faith, pp. 111–113).
We need to be clear about the fact that justification is only one aspect of the overall work of salvation. Scripture teaches that salvation means more than justification and also involves election, regeneration, adoption, conversion, sanctification and glorification, all applied as a result of union with Christ. Each of these is a separate and complete work in its own right. That is, justification is not the same as sanctification. They are completely independent works though they cannot be separated because they both come from union with Christ. The error of Roman Catholicism is that it equates sanctification with justification stating that the two are interchangable terms resulting in a perversion of the biblical teaching of justification. This is equivalent to the error of some in the early Church regarding the person of Christ. They failed to maintain the integrity of Christ's person because they did not retain the biblical balance of the truth of his humanity and deity. They subsumed either his deity into his humanity thereby denying his true deity, or his humanity into his deity thereby denying his humanity. The biblical and orthodox teaching is that Christ is both God and man, two truths which must be held in conjunction with one another. Similarly, the biblical teaching of salvation is that justification and sanctification are different aspects of the overall work of salvation which also must be held in conjunction with one another. If we subsume sanctification into justification we will deny the biblical teaching on the necessity for the works of sanctification. On the other hand, if we subsume justification into sanctification we will pervert the biblical teaching on justification. To fail to maintain a proper balance between justification and sanctification leads to the perversion of the biblical teaching on salvation, just as failure to maintain the biblical teaching on the humanity and deity of Christ leads to perversion of the biblical teaching of the person of Christ. The Protestant Reformers emphasized the Scriptural truth that in salvation an individual not only possesses an imputed righteousness which eternally and completely justifies but also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which results in the works of sanctification. It is a misrepresentation of the teaching of the Reformers to imply that their concept of salvation was limited to justification only and that faith alone meant the denial of works. Please refer to the article on the teaching of the Reformers on works and sanctification.

Faith
Roman Catholicism teaches that saving faith is not trust in Christ alone for justification and salvation. While the Church of Rome affirms the necessity for faith in the justification of adults, her definition is different from that of the scriptures and the teaching of the Protestant Church. To a Roman Catholic, justifying faith is called dogmatic faith. This has to do with the doctrinal content of the faith necessary to be believed for salvation. Essentially it means intellectual assent to eveything the Church teaches. In order to be saved an individual must believe and hold to every doctrine dogmatically defined by the Roman Catholic Church. This entails not only the teaching of the Creed, the sacraments and justification but also the doctrines related to the Papacy (papal rule and infallibility), Mary (immaculate conception and assumption), the canon of scripture and purgatory. Vatican I states that it is necessary for salvation that an individual believe not only all that is revealed in Scripture but also everything defined and proposed by the Church. To reject anything officially taught by the Roman Church is to reject saving faith and to forfeit both justification and eternal life:

Further, all those things are to be believed with divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment, or by her ordinary and universal magisterium, proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed. And since, without faith, it is impossible to please God, and to attain to the fellowship of his children, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will any one obtain eternal life unless he shall have persevered in faith unto the end (Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council, On Faith, Chapter III. Found in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (New York:Harper, 1877), Volume II, pp. 244-245).

Ludwig Ott explains the relationship of Dogmas defined by the Church and faith in these words:
By dogma in the strict sense is understood a truth immediately (formally) revealed by God which has been proposed by the Teaching Authority of the Church to be believed as such. Two factors or elements may be distinguished in the concept of dogma: A) An immediate Divine Revelation of the particular Dogma...i.e., the Dogma must be immediately revealed by God either explicitly (explicite) or inclusively (implicite), and therefore be contained in the sources of Revelation (Holy Writ or Tradition). B) The Promulgation of the Dogma by the Teaching Authority of the Church (propositio Ecclesiae). This implies, not merely the promulgation of the Truth, but also the obligation on the part of the Faithful of believing the Truth. This promulgation by the Church may be either in an extraordinary manner through a solemn decision of faith made by the Pope or a General Council (Iudicium solemns) or through the ordinary and general teaching power of the Church (Magisterium ordinarium et universale). The latter may be found easily in the catechisms issued by the Bishops. Dogma in its strict signification is the object of both Divine Faith (Fides Divina) and Catholic Faith (Fides Catholica); it is the object of the Divine Faith...by reason of its Divine Revelation; it is the object of Catholic Faith...on account of its infallible doctrinal definition by the Church. If a baptised person deliberately denies or doubts a dogma properly so-called, he is guilty of the sin of heresy (Codex Iuris Canonici 1325, Par. 2), and automatically becomes subject to the punishment of excommunication (Codex Iuris Canonici 2314, Par. I).
As far as the content of justifying faith is concerned, the so-called fiducial faith does not suffice. What is demanded is theological or dogmatic faith (confessional faith) which consists in the firm acceptance of the Divine truths of Revelation, on the authority of God Revealing... According to the testimony of Holy Writ, faith and indeed dogmatic faith, is the indispensable prerequisite for the achieving of eternal salvation (emphasis added) (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford: Tan, 1974), pp. 4-5, 253).

And John Hardon says:
What must a Catholic believe with divine faith?
A Catholic must believe with divine faith the whole of revelation, which is contained in the written word of God and in Sacred Tradition.

Can a person be a Catholic if he believes most, but not all, the teachings of revelation?
A person cannot be a Catholic if he rejects even a single teaching that he knows has been revealed by God.

What will happen to those who lack ‘the faith necessary for salvation’?
Those will not be saved who lack the necessary faith because of their own sinful neglect or conduct. As Christ declared, ‘He who does not believe will be condemned’ (Mark 16:16).
Why is divine faith called catholic?
Divine faith is called catholic or universal because a believer must accept everything God has revealed. He may not be selective about what he chooses to believe.

(John Hardon, The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism (Garden City: Image, 1981), Questions #44, 45, 46, 47).
The dogmatic teachings of Vatican I are a perfect example of this point of view. After giving extensive teaching on the need to be submitted to the bishop of Rome for salvation the Council makes this statement:
This is the teaching of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and salvation (Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council. Found in The Creeds of Christendom by Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1910), Chapter III, On the Power and Nature of the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff).
There are similar statements made by the Bishops of Rome in their decrees on Mary, as well as numerous anathemas which have accompanied the doctrinal promulgations of Trent and Vatican I on the sacraments and the papacy on papal rule and infallibility. According to Rome, all these dogmas must be believed and embraced for salvation. But where are these teachings found in scripture? Where are we told that it is necessary to believe in the assumption of Mary or papal infallibility in order to experience salvation? Such teachings not only are absent from scripture, but from the teaching of the Church historically. Not one of these doctrines was taught in the early Church.

From a Roman Catholic perspective, the concept of saving faith is far removed from the biblical teaching of commitment to and simple trust in Christ alone for salvation. The Roman Catholic Church has distorted the gospel of grace. It has fallen into the same Galatian error of legalism (a sacerdotal/sacramental/works salvation) addressed by Paul in his letter to the Galatian Churches. In that letter Paul dealt with the heresy of the Judaizers, who attempted to add the Jewish ceremonial law to faith in Christ as a basis for salvation. Temple worship and the ceremonial law included circumcision, an altar, daily sacrifices, a laver of water, priests, a high priest, special priestly and high priestly vestments and robes, candles, incense and shewbread. In the routine religious life of the average Jew there were feast days, prayers, fasts, adherence to the tradition of the elders and certain dietary restrictions. All of these things were included in the Judaizers’ teaching on salvation. So it was Jesus plus the Jewish system. How does this relate to Roman Catholicism? The doctrines of salvation embraced by Rome are, in principle, identical to the Judaizers. The Roman Church teaches that salvation is achieved by believing that Jesus is the Son of God who died for sin, by being baptized, by being a part of the Roman Catholic Church, by striving to keep the Ten Commandments and partaking of the sacramental system (which involves ongoing sacrifices, altars, priests, a high priest, along with the exercises of prayers, fasts, almsgiving, penances and until recently adherence to certain dietary regulations). The following lists demonstrate the parallels between Roman Catholicism and the Judaizers:

Judaizers
1. Belief in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God
2. Circumcision
3. Become a Jew
4. Sacrificial System
5. Priests
6. High Priests
7. Altars
8. Feast Days
9. Laver of Water
10. Dietary Regulations
11. Candles
12. Incense
13. Shew Bread
14. Keep the Ten Commandments
15. Tradition of the Elders

Roman Catholicism
1. Belief in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God
2. Baptism
3. Become a Roman Catholic
4. Sacrificial System
5. Priests
6. High Priests
7. Altars
8. Feast Days
9. Font of Holy Water
10. Dietary Regulations (Until recently)
11. Candles
12. Incense
13. The Eucharist Wafer
14. Keep the Ten Commandments
15. Tradition of the Church Fathers
The parallels are obvious.

The Roman Catholic teaching on salvation is essentially the same as that preached by the Judaizers. Paul warned the Galatian believers that if they embraced this false gospel they would actually desert Christ (Gal. 1:6). Those evangelicals who would promote spiritual cohabitation with the Church of Rome need to heed to the warning of Paul. He saw no basis for unity with the Judaizers even though they professed faith in Christ. Likewise, there is no basis for unity with the Church of Rome today. If evangelicals jettison the Reformation gospel distinctives for so called unity with Rome they will deny Christ.

81 comments:

Gomarus said...

I suspect it was no easy task on your part, pulling this information together for your readers. It is much appreciated. Especially in light of the Francis Beckwith "return to Rome." Most of the public response to his move does not see it as theologically significant.

Puritan Lad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FredR said...

My Catholic parents burdened their seven sons with circumcision which caused two of them to commit suicide from sexual dysfunctions. My Dad and two of my other brothers developed circumcision induced delayed PTSD's resulting in paranoid delussional schizophrenia with audio and visual halucinations, triggered by loss of a loved one. They cut off my prepucial frenular delta nerves and caused me to become erectile dysfunctional aftre puberty. So because they allowed their sons to be circumcised, Jesus lost value with us. He symple came to undo the Abrahamic covenent and replace it with Baptism, because circumcision was too heavy a burden even back then. When the Pharisees found out what Jesus and the deciples were up to, they payed the Romans to crucify Him for going against the covenent. Peace. Fred

Gordan said...

Where's that Twighlight Zone music coming from?

Joel said...

I don't even know where to begin on this.

David said...

Steve, I would love to spend about 12 hours demonstrating how many errors are in the article. More importantly I would love to show you the beautifully Christ centered teaching of the Catholic Church.

I would challenge you to pick up a Catechism of the Catholic Church and read for yourself how the Church has always interpreted scripture in regard to salvation. I find it strange that those who oppose the Church use false arguments against it.

If you can prove to me one false teaching of the Catholic Church I will leave it and join the church of Calvin or MacArthur, whichever you belong to. Jesus instituted a Church and it has always been catholic and remains catholic.

Please email me any actual teaching that is false or contradicts scripture. All I need is one.

ulmdog@hotmail.com

The KJV (AV) that I looked at only had the words "faith alone" one time. It's in James chapter 2. You should read it. I never found the words "scripture alone" in it. I guess I will have to search some other translations; any suggestions? If I am unable to find that dogma IN scripture, would you please direct me to your source.

Finally, since I doubt that you will take up my challange. I warn you to examine what you believe. It is a serious and significant thing to willfully call something good an evil. It is every bit as serious as calling something evil, good.

May you be filled with the grace and peace of the LORD Jesus Christ.
David Ulmer

SJ Camp said...

David:
Here is one involving Mass. Romanism considers the Mass propitiatory - this is heresy. Let me know your thoughts.

Steve

TWENTY-SECOND SESSION, CANONS ON THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS:
"If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA" (Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass, Canon 3).

Scripture says:
"whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed" -Romans 3:25

"Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" -Hebrews 2:17

"and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world" -1 John 2:2

"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" -1 John 4:10

gigantor1231 said...

David

How about the heresy of the teaching of the infalibility of the pope, the elevation of Mary to the same status of that as Christ. Need I go on, the Roman Catholic church is a entirely man made organization, formed by Rome as a compromise for those pesky little Christians that they wanted to control! You should have no problem proving error in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. There is a better way David and that is the understanding that the church is not that massive corporate body that you participate in, it is YOU. You are his church, you are his body and you need no man made mediator to intervene for you in any way shape or form because He loves you and He died for you!!! Let me put it this way, what you need to do is abandon all men and all man made institutions when it comes to your relationship with Christ, Calvinism, Arminianism or what ever man made ism that you want does not hold the answer for you but Jesus Christ and him alone does, there is no other name under heaven by wich we might be saved. Sorry to tell you this but the Catholic church is the worst place you could be, if you do not believe me pray and ask Christ himself, He will show you.

Joel said...

Steve not one of the verses you cited actually contradicts the snippet from Trent you posted. Christ's sacrifice is an eternal one.

However, as I've asked before, have you read the actual canons to which the anathema refers? If not, you're taking it out of context, which is like using Psalm 137 to justify infanticide.

David said...

You wrote that the RCC “considers the Mass propitiatory - this is heresy.” That is a serious claim. Before I mention my thoughts, perhaps we should define some terms. This is from protestant reference material.

HERESY
False doctrine, or teaching which denies one of the foundational beliefs of the church such as the Lordship or deity of Jesus. While the word itself is not used in the New Testament of the NKJV, the writings of the apostle Paul and other early church leaders make it clear that heretical teachings were a problem in the New Testament church.
(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Steve, thank you for you willingness to engage in dialogue. You quoted some verses I am assuming to add weight to your point. We can establish that we both agree that scripture is truth and it is therefore binding upon our will. I completely agree with the scripture verses you quoted. We both believe they are truth, but we may not agree on exactly what those truths mean. However, I think in this case we do actually agree about the meaning.

We have to start with the obvious. If sacred tradition claimed or scripture stated that “the Romish Mass is not propitiatory”, then certainly the claim that the Mass is propitiatory would be heresy. I am going to assume that you mean that only Christ is propitiatory as you quote “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world" -1 John 2:2

I will assume again that when you refer to the Mass that you are more specifically referring to the Eucharist. We believe that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. So if it is true that it is really His flesh and blood then it would be heresy to deny that the Mass is propitiatory. This is simple logic.

The question really should be “is the sacred and holy Sacrifice of the Mass a Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving only, or only a mere commemoration of the Sacrifice performed on the cross, or all of that AND truly a propitiatory Sacrifice?” Or even more simply stated, we could ask, “what IS the Eucharist?”

Part of knowing the truth is asking the right question. I want to be gracious to you as you were to me. You made a statement and then basically asked me for my thoughts in regard to your claim.

David

Arthur Sido said...

David,

>>I would challenge you to pick up a Catechism of the Catholic Church and read for yourself how the Church has always interpreted scripture in regard to salvation. I find it strange that those who oppose the Church use false arguments against it.<<

I would challenge you to do the opposite. Set aside your catechism, and read God’s Word as it stands, and see for yourself how God has dealt with His people and how He instituted His church. I have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and while this may sound harsh, the scriptural interpretations and references it uses make it no more valid than mormon teachings that do the same, because both set the Word of God under man-made authority rather than the other way around.

>>If you can prove to me one false teaching of the Catholic Church I will leave it and join the church of Calvin or MacArthur, whichever you belong to. Jesus instituted a Church and it has always been catholic and remains catholic.<<

Your comment on the “church of Calvin or MacArthur” was just silly. As far as the catholic church, all Christians believe in a catholic church, but the authoritarian pope is not a part of that church. (see for example in the Second London Confession of Faith, 1689: “Chapter 26: Of the Church 1. The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”) The suggestion that the church that Christ established, seen most clearly in the book of Acts, is the same institution as the corrupt church in Rome, with it’s bureaucratic hierarchy, with men kissing the ring of another man, referring to him as “Holy Father”, with lavish pomp and pageantry, earthly treasures beyond belief and doctrines that originate from men, rather than God, is distressing. Add to that the teachings of Rome that directly contradict the Scripture regarding salvation (see Steve’s post above), and you have a church that has wandered far from the teachings of Christ.

Joel said...

I would challenge you to do the opposite. Set aside your catechism, and read God’s Word as it stands, and see for yourself how God has dealt with His people and how He instituted His church.

Arthur, do you honestly believe that we have never read God's word as it stands? I'm no Bible scholar, but I'm as familiar with the Word as most laymen (even Protestant ones), and my experience has been that if you read it at face value, the Bible comes out Catholic. I hadn't realized as a Protestant how much twisting and tapdancing is necessary to make the scriptures fit Protestant assumptions.

The suggestion that the church that Christ established, seen most clearly in the book of Acts, is the same institution as the corrupt church in Rome, with it’s bureaucratic hierarchy, with men kissing the ring of another man, referring to him as “Holy Father”, with lavish pomp and pageantry, earthly treasures beyond belief and doctrines that originate from men, rather than God, is distressing.

Distressing, but the truth often is. :)

I'll be honest - the biggest turning point in my becoming Romanist was that I couldn't find any actual moment in history when the gates of Hell had prevailed and the Catholic Church had lost its teaching authority. If you can show me precisely when that happened, I'd be very interested to see it.

The references in the New Testament to the Church all seem to imply a visible one, but I don't see any reference to an invisible church in the Bible. The London Confession, then, has no Biblical authority behind it. Thus, it's a matter of Church tradition, and not very ancient tradition at that.

Michele Rayburn said...

If anyone saith that by faith alone the impious is justified in such wise as to mean that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtaining the grace of Justification...let him be anathema...After this Catholic doctrine on justification which whosoever does not faithfully and firmly accept cannot be justified... (Council of Trent. Chapter XVI, Canon IX).

This is such a stunning condemnatory statement against all true believers when the Scriptures clearly say in Ephesians 2:8-9:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

Why is salvation by faith so that it may be by grace? Because our works have already failed us. That’s what the Law has demonstrated for us. And that’s why Christ came to die for us on the cross...to pay for our sins, so that if we put our trust in *Him* now, instead of in the Law and in our trying to obey the Law, we will be saved.

The R.C.C. simply has a misunderstanding of what grace is. Our good works are the *fruit* of God’s grace toward us. They are not the *way* of salvation. They are the *fruit* of salvation...the fruit that comes from a person who is now a new creation in Christ by means of that grace of God which saved him. And after we are saved by God’s grace, we are exhorted to “*grow* in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18 (see also Ephesians 2:10)

Interestingly, 2 Peter 3:16-17 goes on to say, regarding all that the Apostle Paul had written in the epistles:

“…in which (re: Paul’s epistles) are some things hard to understand which those who are *untaught* and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”

Having been born and raised a Roman Catholic, I had never even seen a Bible until I was saved by God’s grace at age 23. I have never seen among my Catholic friends, family or clergy a Bible in their hands or in their homes. I have never heard them quote Scripture because they didn’t know any. And when I attended the R.C.C. (many years ago), the only Scriptures I recall hearing at that time by the church I attended were from the Gospels. And I only recall hearing the Parables.

Theology was never taught. I never knew or even considered the doctrines of the R.C.C. None of my family or Catholic friends knew any of it either. We just blindly followed the traditions and rituals of the R.C.C. But none of us knew why we were doing it.

So, I greatly appreciated this post as it is eye-opening to see how the R.C.C. arrived at their teachings.

Michele Rayburn said...

After I was saved, and finally began reading the Bible, it didn’t take me long to see how the R.C.C. does the opposite of what the Bible says. For instance:

1) There are statues of “Saints” in the church (and in Catholic homes). And they are prayed to.

The Bible says to not make any graven images, to keep ourselves from idols, and that we true believers are Saints. And the Bible never says that we should pray to Saints, but only to God.

2) Marriage is forbidden for Priests.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 4:1-3, “...in latter times some will depart from the faith…forbidding to marry...”

3) We were only allowed to eat fish on Friday, though this “rule” has since changed to allow the eating of meat on Friday.

The Bible says, “...some will depart from the faith...commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3) And “...let no one judge you in food or in drink...” (Colossians 2:16)


4) The Pope is the Vicar of Christ on Earth.

The Bible says, “...keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)

5) The Priest is the mediator between God and man.

The Bible says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus...” (1 Timothy 2:5)

6) They crucify the Lord over and over again in the Mass.

The Bible says in Romans 6:9-10, “...knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more...” and in Hebrews 9:25-28, “...not that He should offer Himself often...so Christ was offered *once* to bear the sins of many...”

7) The R.C.C. condemns their followers if they do not perfectly adhere to their teachings, such as never missing the Mass and doing all the sacraments from infant baptism to last rites.

The Bible says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus...” (Romans 8:1)

8) The R.C.C. has its rites, rituals, and extra-biblical doctrines.

The Bible says, “If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life...” (Revelation 22:18-19)

David said...

Michelle,
I don't know if you read my post about asking the rights questions, but that is the key.

I am deeply saddened by your experience in the Catholic Church with those who were "cultural Catholics." However, I rejoice that you found Christ in the broader Church which is what most of Protestantism falls under. I grew up Baptist as did my wife. We do not oppose all that remains true in the many different denominations of the Not-yet-Catholic Christians. I am saying that all that is right and good in anything, especially within Christian groups, is in the Catholic Church. As you already well know, all that is bad in each denomination can be found in the Catholic Church as well.

Rejecting the Institution of the Catholic Church based upon your own personal experience is akin to a person rejecting marriage between a man and a woman because their parents were neglectful. The Institution of Marriage remains the truth regardless of individual "marriages" that resemble nothing of true marriage. In fact, it is possible to find more love in some “alternative” marriages (homosexual) than in some typical (heterosexual). This deeply sad fact still doesn’t mean you can change the true definition of marriage, just as you can’t change the true definition of Church, even if you find “alternative” groups of believers that exemplify Christianity better. A lesbian partner may give someone life in this day through artificial insemination, but it doesn’t make it right. However, the life given in that situation is no less valuable or real. Your life in Christ is no less valuable or real even though you found Christ outside of the true center. In Christ you are catholic whether you admit it or not. You are just Not Yet Catholic as all of us Christians alive are in Christ but Not Yet in Christ. You may want to read about the “reversion” of Dr. Frank Beckwith. Don’t be distracted by the analogy as though I am trying to make a connection of homosexuals to protestants. My point is about Institutions established by God.

If you are truly interested in understanding, I would be happy to explain the quote from the Council of Trent to which you referred. You are likely interpreting it incorrectly. For example if one defines the word justification differently it makes the meaning different. Also it has to be understood in light of other comments. This is true of most information whether scripture or a letter to a friend.

David

gigantor1231 said...

David

Looks to me that Michelle has rejected the Catholic Church based upon the word of God, the truth. You apparently could not pick this up probably because of the synchretistic nature of what you believe. The simplicity of the truth has been obstructed by the blatant and numerous lies that you have chosen to adopt. You will stand before God alone one day, unless you are a true Christian that has been deceived then Christ will stand with you, and your faith in Christ, a gift from God, alone will be what is accounted to you as righteousness.
It seems to be obvious that you have a explanation for every proof that has been given here and so one would conclude that you want to remain in Catholicism, the fact is though that Roman Catholicism is just a religion of idolatry and man made traditions and ordinances. This will be apparent to you when you stand before God as one redeemed or one lost.

Michele Rayburn said...

David,

I really do appreciate hearing from you, and there is a lot here to cover, so I am going to try to address everything that I can. So, here we go...

You rejoice that I found Christ, so I don’t know what the point is in your comments that follow.

“Cultural Catholics”? My point was that since the Bible was not used, I didn’t learn how to be saved. The Bible was not even allowed to be used in the Catholic Church at one time. And the Masses I attended were in Latin for many years, so that I had no way of even knowing what they were saying. Obviously, knowing what they were saying was not the point of the Mass!

You said, “All that is right and good in anything, especially within Christian groups, is in the Catholic Church.” But what does it matter, if they do not get the way of salvation right?

I didn’t reject the Catholic Church based upon “experiences”, as if to say I wasn’t enjoying myself so I left. I left because I knew that I wasn’t learning how to know God. I was hearing instead ritualistic prayers and vacant sermons that were nothing more than platitudes, and performing rituals that had no meaning.

You seem to be suggesting that I stay in a church that as an institution is “neglectful” of the Word of God.

You say that you can’t “change the true definition of marriage, just as you can’t change the true definition of Church”. But then you say that you *can* change the definition of justification. I see an inconsistency in your reasoning here.

What you say is peppered with confusion regarding absolute truth (since the Bible and the Church often disagree, there is no real authority), a redefining of Christian terminology to make people think that you are talking about the same thing as the true church, and a blatant disregard for what the Scriptures say about anything because your final authority does not come from what God says, but from what the Roman Catholic Church says.

Your strange analogy about marriage and the Church reminds me of the Scriptures which say:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?...Therefore, 'Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord.' ” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

In other words, what “marriage” is there between the true church and the RCC?

You say, “Your life in Christ is no less valuable or real even though you found Christ outside of the true center.” So, what’s the problem? Except that I found Christ outside of “the true center”. Where else would I find it, since “the true center” according to you is none other than...the Roman Catholic Church!? By the way, according to the Scriptures, "the true center" is Jesus Christ. It is Him that I follow, not “the Church”.

I have read your previous comments and it seems that perhaps you were a “Cultural Baptist”, not born again, but because you were born into a Baptist family, you were somehow deceived into thinking you were saved (regenerate). So, maybe because you weren’t saved, you left the Baptist church in disillusionment. And because of your lack of discernment regarding the Scriptures, and your unwillingness to receive them as the only authoritative Word of God, I see no evidence of your salvation now. What do you think you must do to be saved?

I also have seen that you give no Scriptural argument for what you believe. It all sounds like human reasoning to me.

What do you mean by Not Yet Catholic? You say:

"In Christ you are catholic whether you admit it or not. You are just Not Yet Catholic as all of us Christians alive are in Christ but Not Yet in Christ."

This is just wishful thinking on your part, and again, a redefining of terms to make Christians think that they are somehow “catholic”, but they just won’t admit it? What kind of talk is that? I know what a Catholic is and I am not one. And according to their teachings, I am not one.

Also, to say that “all of us Christians alive (not those who are deceased?) are in Christ but Not Yet in Christ” is a contradictory statement and really nonsensical. From the moment a Christian is born again, he/she is in Christ and that is their eternal condition. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation...” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Sadly, I quote Scripture knowing that it rolls right off your back, but I’ll quote Scripture anyway hoping that anyone else reading this will believe and understand Biblical truth.

You said, “If one defines the word justification differently it makes the meaning different.”

Therein lies your problem. The only way to define justification is *Biblically*. But as I have been saying, the Catholics have little or no regard for what the Bible says. They don’t regard it as the only authoritative Word. They hold the RCC’s views higher than the Holy Bible. And so they regard the words of mere men to be the authority, rather than the words of God Himself.

You don’t need to explain the quote from the Council of Trent. I already understand what it says. But, thanks.

Lastly, you said in a previous comment made on this post, “If you can prove to me one false teaching of the Catholic Church, I will leave it...”. But I just gave you 8 examples in my second comment and you did not address any one of them. So, I really think that you are being disingenuous in saying you will leave. I proved the false teachings of the RCC using the Scriptures, so I guess that’s why you are not convinced. And like I said before, therein lies the problem.

It is tragic that the Scriptures are not enough for you, but I will pray that God will change your heart about that. But remember, “In Him is life”. (John 1:4) Our life is not in a church or even in Scriptures. Our life is in Christ. Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life and these are they which testify of *Me*.” And they do testify.

Ironically, I left the RCC because they do not teach the Scriptures, but you joined them because they don’t!

In His Love,
Michele

Joel said...

Having been born and raised a Roman Catholic, I had never even seen a Bible until I was saved by God’s grace at age 23. I have never seen among my Catholic friends, family or clergy a Bible in their hands or in their homes. I have never heard them quote Scripture because they didn’t know any. And when I attended the R.C.C. (many years ago), the only Scriptures I recall hearing at that time by the church I attended were from the Gospels. And I only recall hearing the Parables.

Michelle, how on earth did you manage tobe raised this way? I don't know any Catholic family without any Bibles. I know our shelves are brimming with them, in various versons and translations. (And yes, we also read them.) I notice you mentioned Latin Masses, so you must be rather older than I am, which might explain the difference.

If you managed to attend Mass and never hear any NT except the Gospels, you had to have taken a nap through the second reading, which is almost always from the epistles. And it even includes all the verses that are so often cited as proof of the Catholic Church's heresy.


This piqued my curiosity:
The Bible was not even allowed to be used in the Catholic Church at one time.

That would make it very hard to celebrate Mass, since even the Tridentine Mass requires readings from the Bible. I'd be very interested to know what time period you're referring to, as I don't think that's ever been the case.

Ironically, I left the RCC because they do not teach the Scriptures, but you joined them because they don’t!

See, and I joined the RCC because they do teach the Bible, and without the tapdancing that I had to do to make it fit Protestant assumptions. (Like David, I was raised Baptist.) I've never understood the contrast that keeps being drawn between the Catholic Church's teaching and the Bible, as though there were a difference. Some of what we believe isn't explicitly taught in the Word, but no Catholic belief is permitted to directly contradict the Bible. You cited several verses, but they have little or no applicability to the pracctices you're matching them up with. If you'd like, I can go through them one by one, but I think David is probably doing a better job than I am.

I don't think you do understand the quote from Trent, as all you cited was the anathema. The actual canons don't fit the interpretation you put on it. I'm not trying to get on your back about that; it's a very common mistake to make.

I hope I didn't come across rudely here. I don't mean to at all. I'd be happy to disccuss this by e-mail if you'd like, so as not to clog up Steve's ccomment fields too much. :)

Michele Rayburn said...

Hi Joel,

Yes, that's how it was for me growing up. If anyone had a Bible, they hid it well. The Lord had been drawing me to Himself since I was a little girl. And so I was very conscious of the fact that there were no Bibles around, because I really wanted to read one.

There was a time when the people were not allowed to have Bibles. Of course, the Priest had his Bible during the Mass. Bibles weren't allowed, except for Priests, until sometime around the '60's. But the stigma of having one must have stayed, because we still never had any Bibles in the pews or in our homes. And the Masses were in Latin until the '60's. I google searched that information and came to DeceptionInTheChurch.com

You may also find it interesting to read what they wrote comparing Roman Catholicism to Biblical Christianity at the following link:

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/rcc.html

Yes, the Gospels, primarily the Parables, were the thing at my church when I was growing up. I certainly did not hear what it means to be born again, or what it means to be a new creation in Christ, or how to walk in the Spirit. Or, in being totally forgiven, and the eternal security of the believer.

The Parables were spoken by Jesus so that only those "that have ears to hear" would be able to understand them. Ironically, I could tell the Priests didn't understand them because they would just ramble on in platitudes and tell little stories, but were never able to teach the biblical significance of what Jesus was saying.

The Parables weren't taught in context so the meaning and purpose of them were lost. I would always wonder what came before and what came after those Parables, because the Priest never wanted to read on.

That's one reason why it's so important for the people sitting in the pews to own their own Bibles. It's to keep the Preacher honest! To keep him accountable. So that if you think he is in error, perhaps he would be willing to be corrected or at least be made aware of a possible error. In the Catholic Church, you are not supposed to question them or disagree with them. Remember, they are the final authority.

You said:

"I've never understood the contrast that keeps being drawn between the Catholic Church's teaching and the Bible, as though there were a difference."

If there is no difference, why did you leave the Baptist church? There is a lot of difference. So, check out the link I gave you to Deception In The Church. I think you will really see the difference there.

You said:

"Some of what we believe isn't explicitly taught in the Word, but no Catholic belief is permitted to directly contradict the Bible."

Again, I gave you 8 contradictions, and I still do not hear you or Dave dealing scripturally with them.

I really do understand the quote from Trent. And the interpretation I put on it is the Bible's refutation of it.

That quote from Trent contradicts the verse I quoted from the Bible:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

So, this and other quotes from Trent clearly state that salvation is by grace plus works. This contradicts the Scriptures which say (as in Ephesians 2:8-9 above) that salvation is by grace alone, not by works.

I don't think you are rude at all, and I am happy to talk with you. When discussing these kinds of things, sometimes it's hard to sound kind, especially using email and blogs. And I have seen too many times on the blogs people getting offended, sometimes needlessly, because of a misunderstanding. But I hope that won't be the case here. I look forward to hearing from you.

In His Love,
Michele

Joel said...

Michelle, I looked at the link you posted, and honestly, I've seen it before. The authors cherry-pick texts to make us appear to believe what we don't, and then insist it's accurate because it comes from the catechism. I can "prove" that God loves infanticide from Psalm 137, but it doesn't make it true.

There was a time when the people were not allowed to have Bibles. Of course, the Priest had his Bible during the Mass. Bibles weren't allowed, except for Priests, until sometime around the '60's.

That would come as a great surprise to my mother-in-law, who still has a Bible that belonged to her Catholic mother in the '30s or '40s. If it was forbidden to have one, why would the Douay-Rheims English translation have been made just before the KJV? The Church wanted the Bible to be read, and always has, although until the invention of the printing press literacy was so uncommon as to make that unfeasible. Even the Council of Trent maintained that, although it was pretty strict about unauthorized translations that might contain doctrinal errors.

But the stigma of having one must have stayed, because we still never had any Bibles in the pews or in our homes. And the Masses were in Latin until the '60's.

Well, the Baptist church I grew up in didn't have Bibles in the pews, either. We were expected to bring our own. In Catholic churches, you won't usually find Bibles in the pews, but you will find missals with the Bible divided up day by day. The way the lectionary is arranged, the entire Bible (except for some "begats," I think) is read over the course of three years. And even when the Mass was in Latin (before my time, alas), the scripture readings were in the local language. The old Mass had a reading from an Epistle, a Psalm and a Gospel; the new one has the Old Testament as well.

I really do understand the quote from Trent. And the interpretation I put on it is the Bible's refutation of it.

That quote from Trent contradicts the verse I quoted from the Bible:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)


Your citation from Trent was a little imprecise, so I had to look it up. Turns out it came from two separate places in the Council documents.

The anathemas are more or less summaries of the acctual documents, which makes them easy to take out of context. The canon you quoted appears to be referring to Chapter VIII:

"In what manner it is to be understood, that the impious is justified by faith, and gratuitously.

"And whereas the Apostle saith, that man is justified by faith and freely, those words are to be understood in that sense which the perpetual consent of the Catholic Church hath held and expressed; to wit, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification; without which it is impossible to please God, and to come unto the fellowship of His sons: but we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification - whether faith or works - merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace."

That doesn't sound to me like it contradicts the verse from Ephesians.

The whole documents of the Council of Trent are here. If you actually read Trent, rather than taking a quote someone else has taken out of context, you get a clearer idea of what the Church teaches. You still may not agree with it, but at least you'll know. (And you might also notice that the Council backed up their rulings with scripture.)

I'll get back to you with answers to your Bible contradictions in a bit. The trouble with this kind of discussion is that it takes me paragraphs to correct a misconception that you can state in one sentence. :)

Joel said...

Okay, Michelle, I have the answers to your Biblical points, but they're kind of lengthy. I'll put them up in pieces. Steve, for what I'm about to do to your comment fields, I'm sorry. :)

If you decide to delete them, Michelle and I can continue by e-mail, if that's all right with her. But she raised some important points, and they deserve to be answered.
--------
1) There are statues of “Saints” in the church (and in Catholic homes). And they are prayed to.
They're not supposed to be prayed to. Icons are more like a family album - they remind you of family members you love who aren't with you in person.

The Bible says to not make any graven images, to keep ourselves from idols, and that we true believers are Saints. And the Bible never says that we should pray to Saints, but only to God.

The Bible actually doesn't specifically say we should never pray to saints; it's silent on that subject. We don't "pray" to them in the same way we do to God. Rather, we ask them to pray for us, as you might ask a member of your church. That's what the saints are, really; they're members of our Church. They're not dead, because they have eternal life.

2) Marriage is forbidden for Priests.

Nope, actually it isn't. In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church (the one you're familiar with), presbyteral ordination isn't usually conferred on married men, although there are exceptions. In the other 24 rites, married men may be priests. The restriction is that the marriage must happen before ordination. Afterward, a priest may marry, but he has to leave off his presbyteral ministry to do so. He can't do both at once. (This, by the way, is not a doctrine; it's a discipline. The difference is that a discipline is simply standard practice under church rules, and can be changed if the Church decides it was a bad idea. Doctrines may not be changed, ever.)

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 4:1-3, “...in latter times some will depart from the faith…forbidding to marry...”

This was a reference to sects that prohibited marriage to all of their members, like the Gnostics and the Manichaeans. (And later on, the Albigensians.) Those sects believed that all matter was bad, and must be eliminated from one's life and replaced with spirit. That's why Paul goes on in verses 4 and 5 to say "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." God made marriage holy, and it's not for the Church to say it's bad. As obviously the Church doesn't, considering how darn many of us there are. (I've wondered if this verse should apply to the Shakers, although their celibacy wasn't for the same sort of reasons as that of the Albigensians.)

More coming...

Joel said...

Part two of what I think will be four:
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3) We were only allowed to eat fish on Friday, though this “rule” has since changed to allow the eating of meat on Friday.

Again, this is a discipline, not a doctrine, and an example of how they can be changed. Lenten disciplines are analogous to the notation in a hymnal. The whole Church celebrates Lent together by doing certain things simultaneously. Giving up meat on a specific day is more like fasting in unison than adhering to Jewish dietary laws, which is what Paul is referring to in Colossians.

The Bible says, “...some will depart from the faith...commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3) And “...let no one judge you in food or in drink...” (Colossians 2:16)

I dealt with the Timothy verse above, and this is the same thing. Dualistic sects rejected good food the same way they did marriage, on the grounds that matter was evil. "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."

If the verse in Colossians were applied as you suggest, then churches that prohibited alcohol would be equally guilty of violating that. As it is, the verse refers to accusing another of heresy for observing this or that holiday or for not adhering to dietary laws. It has nothing to do with the Church's celebration of Lent.

4) The Pope is the Vicar of Christ on Earth.

He's the senior pastor of a very large congregation. That doesn't make him any more than a man; it just makes him the leader of the Church. Is your pastor your leader?

The Bible says, “...keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)

That's a constant theme in the Bible. And we don't make an idol of the pope. What makes Protestants uncomfortable isn't that we mistake him for Christ, but that we give him more respect than you do your pastor. We may honor him, but we honor Christ infinitely more. Benedict would be the first to get upset if people started worshipping him.

Joel said...

Part three:
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5) The Priest is the mediator between God and man.

Nope. He's not. He dispenses the sacraments, which are gifts God gives to us, but it's his job to distribute them. It's not up to him whether or how he does it.

The Bible says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus...” (1 Timothy 2:5)

Follow that through to the next verse. I've yet to hear a priest claim to have given "himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." This isn't referring to pastors administering sacrifices; it's saying that there is only one God and only one Christ, and he died for us all. Which we believe as well.

6) They crucify the Lord over and over again in the Mass

Again, nope. We don't. Plain and simple. His Body and Blood are distributed anew at every Mass, but it's parallel to the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The fish weren't being re-caught nor the bread re-baked every time Jesus fed another person with them; they were just being multiplied for everybody. Jesus' gift of Himself is infinite and eternal, and the Mass reflects that.

The Bible says in Romans 6:9-10, “...knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more...” and in Hebrews 9:25-28, “...not that He should offer Himself often...so Christ was offered *once* to bear the sins of many...”

Both verses are out of context. The passage in Romans is about Christ's conquest of death by His resurrection, and that we have eternal life through Him. The one in Hebrews addresses the Jewish sacrifices, saying that Christ is the final and complete sacrifice. Neither one, though, actually contradicts the eternal nature of the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of the same Christ. If we thought we needed a new lamb every time, as the Jews did, then this verse would apply. But we don't; there's only one Jesus, and His death and resurrection is the only one we need.

Joel said...

And finally, the last:
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7) The R.C.C. condemns their followers if they do not perfectly adhere to their teachings, such as never missing the Mass and doing all the sacraments from infant baptism to last rites.

Pretty sweeping statement, that. I don't adhere perfectly, but nobody's condemning me. For that matter, the Church doesn't even condemn you for your opposition to it. You are considered a Christian, just one who is out of communion. I think what you're getting at is that we don't believe in once-saved-always-saved, so it's possible through sin to reject the salvation Christ offers.

As for the sacraments, we do believe that those are the means by which God communicates His grace to us. (He doesn't HAVE to do it that way, but in general, He does.) You and I are going to disagree on that point, which is fine. If you don't receive a sacrament, you don't go to hell for missing it.

Infant baptism to last rites? Neither one of those is what you think it is. I was baptized at nine; did I not receive the sacrament? (The Church recognizes my Baptist baptism as the same thing as a Catholic one.) And Last Rites is actually a combination of three sacraments: the Eucharist, Reconciliation (or absolution, anyway), and the Sacrament of Healing. They're usually given to a person in danger of death, but if he slips away without them, God doesn't hold it against him.

The bottom line is that the sacraments are God's gifts to us, and to reject them deliberately and knowingly is a sin. If you don't get them for one reason or another, that's not a sin.

Finally, the Church doesn't actually "condemn" anybody. The most it ever does is define what is a serious (or mortal) sin. The Church has never definitively stated that any particular person is in Hell, nor that any particular person will end up there. That's God's call to make, not the Church's.

The Bible says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus...” (Romans 8:1)

This passage doesn't really apply. It's an exhortion to live as Christians, and not to be attached to our old sinful ways.

8) The R.C.C. has its rites, rituals, and extra-biblical doctrines

Another sweeping statement. Rites and rituals? So do you. Or are there no wedding ceremonies performed in your church? You won't find the text of one in the Bible, only the spirit of the thing.

The Bible says, “If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life...” (Revelation 22:18-19)

That verse in context refers specifically to the prophecies in Revelation. If it were applied as you're using it, the first person condemned by it would be Luther, for removing the deuterocanonical books.

As for extra-Biblical this and that, yes, we believe things that aren't explicitly given in the Bible. That's because we believe that the Apostles and their successors have the authority to define doctrines in ecumenical councils. We see an example of that in Acts, where the apostles themselves met at Jerusalem to determine what to teach about circumcision. We believe that the Holy Spirit guides councils today in the same way He did then.

Those councils are where you get your definition of the Trinity (as opposed to, say, Arius' or Nestorius' definition), and also the canon of scripture. You can't get much more extra-Biblical than that, as the Bible wasn't given with a table of contents. There were a number of competing canons, and the Church met in Hippo and Carthage to determine which one was reliable. (You still use that canon today, which indicates that at least some council decisions must be right.) Anything that's in the Bible is true, period, but it doesn't go the other way round. The mere fact that a thing isn't in the Bible doesn't make it false; the Bible never commands us to push in the clutch before changing gears.

However, the most important criterion for a doctrine is that it can't contradict the Bible, and anything that a council decides is very carefully measured against Scripture, by men who know and love the Bible intimately. Now, I know I'm not a Bible scholar, but I know it as well as most laymen, and I figure that if there's a dispute between them and me over what a passage means, they're more likely to be right. That's not even taking in to account the Holy Spirit's guidance over the Church; aside from that, the men who determined over the centuries what is and isn't Biblical simply knew more about it than I do. When I consider also that God has placed the Church in authority over me, I don't see any way for me to justify contradicting them.
------
And that's it. Michelle, if you're still reading and your eyes haven't crossed from all this, I'd be happy to answer any other questions. I'd also be curious to know about your Catholic upbringing. From your picture, you don't look old enough to have attended Latin Masses, at least not and be aware of what was going on. Did you have any Sunday School or catechism or anything?

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

You are doing Fred Astaire and Al Jolson Proud, oh and Bo Jangles too!!!

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

Sorry about that, just could not resist with regards to your comment about having to tap dance to make things fit as a Baptist!

First, with respect to 1 Tim 2:5;

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying— a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Ti 2:1-7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

The entire context of this scripture is with regards to prayer, specifically prayer for leadership and all men, God would that none perish and that we be at peace with all men. The point Paul is making here is that there is one mediator between God and man that we pray to, He is the one who is the peace maker and there is no other that we can, or should pray to. Prayer to anyone else is pure idolatry! You see, with respect to gaining access to heaven there is only one way, one truth and one life and that is Christ, see John 14:6.

I will leave this one response for now, I am interested in how you refute the true context wich you see in the scriptures that I have just quoted.
Please use the scriptures to justify prayer to the saints, as well as the exultation of Mary and the doctrine of perpetual virginity. I would appreciate contextual scriptures if possible.

Joel said...

Gigantor, I don't think I understand how the scripture you quoted refutes anything Catholic. If I'm to take it as forbidding prayers to the saints, then I think it missed the mark, as I don't see any explicit prohibition.

I suppose a case could be made that there's an implicit prohibition, in that Paul speaks of prayers to God. The problem is that the word used for prayer to God and prayer to the saints is the same word, but two totally different situations. As I said to Michelle, "prayers"to saints is nothing more than asking a fellow Christian to pray for you. The only difference is that a fellow Christian in heaven is perfected, and so won't pray for anything that's against God's will, whereas we imperfect men will.

I'll have to get back to you with answers to your other questions, as I have kids in the next room demanding attention. (My lot in life for a couple more decades.) :)

I hope you really are interested in answers, and you're not just playing "stump the Papist."

Joel said...

Oh, and I'd be honored to be in the company of Astaire, Jolson and Bo Jangles, but I actually can't tapdance worth a darn. I'm lucky if I can walk through the house without tripping on something.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

I am interested in answers, biblical contextual answers! By the way, I do believe that you will find that every single true saint desires to become less and less while Christ becomes more and more, they do not want any attention from you rather they direct it all to Christ. It is safe to say that your prayers to them are offensive at best! Just as when Saul called on Samuel at En Dor, 1 Sam. 28:15;

15 Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Sa 28:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

I assure you that the saints do not want to be disturbed with your prayers.
Why would I go to a saint when I can go directly to the source anyway? I want Christ not a saint...... like me!!!
Even John said John 3:30;

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

It is pretty obvious per the context that he is saying that he is not the one to look to, he is just the forerunner proclaiming the good news in the wilderness. prepare the way of the lord, make his paths straight. I am also certain that John Calvin would be less than pleased to know that there is some biblical belief system named after him, let alone how upset he would be if people prayed to him.
As I said, any true saint in heaven is far to enamored with God in Christ, they do not want to be disturbed by your prayers, even if the Pope says they do.

gigantor1231 said...

PS

John 3:30 is John the Baptist of course.
Now bring on those supporting scriptures and put those tap shoes up!

Terry Rayburn said...

Joel,

It's appalling how deceitfully you have represented the Roman Catholic Church as 1) not disagreeing with Scripture, and 2) supporting salvation by grace apart from works.

Or if it's not deliberate deceit on your part, it is woeful ignorance, both of Church History and RCC foundational documents.

As the Scripture says, if works are added to grace, it no longer grace at all. It's what Paul tells the Galatians is "another gospel" which is not the gospel at all. Let those who teach such be accursed (anathema).

Here are just a few citations of RCC documents, CLEARLY showing salvation by works:

==========================
Look at some excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (this is the "new" "modern" "open-minded" one...you should see the Traditional One!):

". . Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that 'we too might walk in newness of life,'"(Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 977). [note this first of seven sacraments obtains the forgiveness of sins]

"In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere 'to the end' and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ," (CCC, par. 1821). [note "as God's eternal reward for the good works"]

"Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification." (CCC, par. 2010) [note we not only merit for ourselves, but for others]

And since the Catholic Church obviously teaches that salvation includes man's works, then it follows that the failure of man's works can destroy that salvation and damn him again, after he's been "justified". The solution: more works! Read the following:

"Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as 'the second plank (of salvation) after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace." (CCC, par. 1446).

Acts of penance may be such things as prayer, saying the Rosary, reading the Scripture, saying a number of "Our Father's" or "Hail Mary's", doing good works, fasting, etc.

Then we have the COUNCIL OF TRENT:

Among many other unbiblical teachings, the Council of Trent curses with damnation all of us who teach salvation "by grace through faith, not of works".

Excerpts can be viewed at www.carm.org/catholic/trent.htm.

Particularly note Canons 9, 24 and 30.
=============================

Joel, all your spin doesn't change the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has always preached a false gospel of works salvation.

How different from the pure and simple gospel of grace that the Scripture teaches:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works..." Eph. 2:8,9

David said...

Wow! lots of reading to get to the bottom. Joel, you are generous in answering so many questions. The real question is "what is true"? I sat up late in college having these theological discussions at a Baptist school. The Calvinists would claim that they had the "biblical" view. Those of more Arminian leaning would claim they had the "biblical" view (though usually more graciously). Those who opposed "tongues" said the Bible clearly states they have ceased while others said the bible clearly states not to forbid them.

Joel says that the RCC submits totally to the authority of scripture. Others say if you don't interpret it "this" way then you don't submit to the authority of scripture.

In my line of work I often see parents that hate each other more than they love their kids. In the blogosphere I often see people that hate the RCC more than they love Christ.

I would suggest that those who do not see the RCC as Christocentric have not read about the saints, do not know what the Church teaches, and may possibly be more concerned about defending their particular views than seek the face of our LORD.

In regard to scripture debates it must begin with most important question. It is not "what does scripture say". It is “what is scripture”. Then when we agree on what exactly is scripture and how we came to that conclusion we can talk about what it says. When the JWs come to my house we sit down and make three places. One place is for the JW Bible, one for the protestant Bible, and one for the complete Scriptures. Then we talk about how God communicates truth rather than arguing about interpretations. I only wish they would come back.

Once we establish what exactly is scripture then we can look to see if the scripture teaches sola scriptura, since the Bible alone isn’t enough to determine what exactly is the Bible alone. I still haven’t found that chapter and verse in Hebrews that says “Hebrews is scripture”. I love to quote scripture as much as any protestant but the devil loves to quote it as well. Somehow my dear protestant brothers and sisters have to come to understand that all truth is God’s, all scripture is truth, but not all truth is in scripture. The Holy Spirit is the Authority.

I raised an important question earlier. What is the Eucharist? Simple common sense would say that even if it does come to light in eternity that it was not “Biblical”, it was and is certainly Christ centered. I guess if we have been wrong for 2000 years about the “real presence” of Christ in the blessed sacrament and misinterpreted Christ’s words that stated “eat my flesh” (John 6) then He certainly won’t condemn Catholics (who believe the teachings of the Church) of taking the Lord’s Supper too lightly.

Somehow the Church functioned for 300 years without the cannon of the Second Testament in print in every believer’s hand. Yet, everyone agreed that it was really His blood and His body in the Eucharist. They used the word “sacrament”. The Second Testament is a gift to the Church. The Church, as the Canon states is the pillar and foundation of the truth. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know what scripture was.

It takes faith to believe anything. It takes free will to choose what we believe. The good news is that Christ set us free to believe the truth, that truth sets us free. Jesus is the truth. Lets focus on Christ and we will be one. The Church is His Body, He is truth and the scripture is truth, so all of these issues are of utmost importance.

May we all seek Him first and His kingdom.
In Christ,
David

gigantor1231 said...

David and Joel

Less rhetoric and more contextual scriptural support. By the way, if you do not have a definition for truth then more than likely you probably do not know him and, this is the scary one, He probably does not know you!
David; what did Christ mean when He said; I am the truth, in john 14:6 and John 8:32; If you abide in my word you are my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free?

Terry Rayburn said...

David,

With all the fluff about "truth", you have evaded one of the most important aspects of truth:

Truth doesn't contradict truth.

Therefore, if the Roman Catholic Church teaches salvation by works, which it does...

And if the Bible teaches salvation by grace through faith APART from works, which it does...

Then one or the other is not "truth", it is evil and lying, giving masses (no pun intended) of people the wrong road to God and salvation.

I don't believe the Bible is the evil and lying one, and in your heart you probably don't either, but you are willing to "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18) to justify your Institution.

You haven't dealt at all with the citations I gave from RCC documents, and you haven't dealt with Eph. 2:8,9, which I will cite again, this time from the Douay-Rheims Catholic translation (even they couldn't twist the Greek to mean salvation by works):

"For by grace you are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, for it is the GIFT of God. NOT OF WORKS, that no man may glory."[Emphasis Terry's]

Sidenote: "...that no man may glory" actually brings me to shake my head in this context. If you ever want to see men glory, watch the Pope and the Cardinals get together for a shindig. God have mercy, Christ have mercy.

David said...

gigantor1231,
The question on the table is about the Eucharist.

Here’s some more rhetoric. Since you aren’t interested in discussing the Eucharist or how we know what scripture is scripture alone.

I noticed that you like Tozer and Lewis. Tozer writes in Best of Tozer, p. 92, “What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scripture for the authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on giving, birth control, the bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters?”

Your thinking (perhaps), “See, Tozer gets it, we should go straight to the Scripture for the ‘authoritative answer’.” I hope you thought that because here is the catch. He said “birth control”. Tozer thought the Scripture was clear about it and as did the rest of the Christianity until 1930.
[see http://www.catholic.com/library/birth_control.asp ]

But you see sola scriptura breaks down and one needs authoritative INTERPRETATION when the Deceiver rears his ugly head. For me it was never clear in scripture that contraception was sin. I just thought that it was stupid to put chemicals in your wife and mess up a healthy system that the Creator designed for her health. Only later did I come to see the truth of how contraception is part of the “culture of death”. I’d be happy to explain more if you are interested. The RCC “alone” has never wavered on this issue. Where are you on this issue of contraception? Is it a personal choice, a personal interpretation?

As for Lewis, read his address in “The Weight of Glory” on Why I Am Not a Pacifist. It is one of the best short articles on how to reason and come to the truth or at least our best understanding of it. If this strikes you perhaps we could connect on this point in searching for the truth.

As for me Jesus is the truth and that is why I love truth and seek it with all my heart. May we be coworkers in the truth. "Cooperatores Veritatis" ( 3John 8)

David

David said...

Terry,
You are so correct about truth not contradicting truth. It is the law of noncontradiction. G.K. Chesterton is wonderful at explaining this reality.

I used to think that the RCC taught a works salvation too, but that was only what people said about it. You can read the Catechism for yourself. We believe we are saved by grace alone.

Faith is an act of obedience (Rom. 1:5, 16:26)just like works of righteousness are done in faith in obedience. Faith is a "good work" (John 6:29) We are able to believe and we are able to love by grace alone.

Once you see that faith and good works are both aspects of obedience it will start to make sense. Obedience is the KEY. Christ said those who obey my commands are those who will abide in Him.

Faith can be empty and works can be effective. In fact, you could have enough faith (I Cor. 13:2)to remove a mountain, but if you don't have love (which is a work Gal.5:6) you have NOTHING.

The Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by grace alone in Christ alone. That's all I can say. I can't make you believe. It's a choice. Althought the grace of the Church (Christ's Body) was irresistable to me. (it seemed) I still had to choose. God said, "choose this day whom you will serve" (Josh 24:15)RSV

gigantor1231 said...

David

I am not looking for common ground, rather, I am looking for truth! If you believed the truth you would honestly answer the questions you have been asked and support what you say with the word of God. There are so many things that you can not support in the RCC via the word, the truth and to be quite frank with you I have yet to see you answer any of the questions asked you in a straight forward manner. Time to cut it straight here, we are not asking anything un reasonable, as a matter of fact we are asking questions that, as a Christian, should be fundamental to answer. We are asking questions that deal directly with your faith.
I am not meaning to be rude here but I am simply drawing attention to the fact that what you say comes with no authority because you lack the truth, you are involved in a organization that is steeped in man made ordinances and traditions and truly has little to do with the word of God. For instance the worship of Mary and perpetual virginity, there is no support at all for this key doctrine in the RCC yet you support it. This should not be! Mary would be apalled if she knew and God is greatly offended, He calls this a abomination, it is idolatry. If what I say is not true then support your faith in this doctrine via the word of God.

With regard to birth control, I am celibate, my wife died of cancer in 2002 and I have 3 children, 11, 9 and 8. We did not like to use contraception but we methodically studied and used rhythm, it was very effective for us. I do not condemn those that use birth control, that is un less they use methods that cause the abortion of a child then what they do is abominable and murder. While this issue may be a critical issue with regards to life, I would still not say that it is common ground that you and I hold since we obviously deviate completely in the mosth central issue in life, that is salvation by grace through faith, salvation through Chris and his work on the cross alone. The work Christ did was once and for all and no work can be added to it that will attain any man salvation, there is nothing man can do to be saved or maintain salvation, either they are saved completely work free or they are not saved at all! This is what scripture teaches, it is not what the RCC teaches.
Bottom line here is I would like to see you support what you believe in the RCC with the truth, the word of God, you say you believe Christ is truth, then those acts of faith in your church should all be central to him, ie. the worship of Mary, perpetual virginity, exultation of men to special saint hood and prayer to saints. These are just a few things you should be able to support from scripture! Time to pony up.

gigantor1231 said...

David

Nice double speak! 'the obedience of faith,' now on it's own it (Rom. 1:5, 16:26) would appear that this is a work, a good work as you put it (john 6:29), problem is as a sinner you are dead and seperated from God, according to 2 Cor. 2:14 the unsaved do not have the spirit of God and they can not even understand the word to obey it because it is spiritually discerned, but in light of eph. 2:8,9 we know that faith is a gift and without the gift given first there would never have been the ability to obey. So faith came first via the holy spirit as a gift then obedience. Simply put, you are a preaching the gospel of works and the RCC is full of evidence that what they teach is not the Gospel of grace but of works, anathema.
Now, instead of avoiding the questions I asked before regarding prayer to the saints, the worship of Mary and perpetual virginity, answer like a man of faith. Answer via the word of God, the truth, use scripture in context and in the fullness of its explanation, don't twist things or give partial truths but lay it all out in the light for all to see!

SJ Camp said...

Great discussion here gentlemen! I have been focusing on other things this week and letting this discussion work itself out. Excellent.

One thing to keep in mind: Romanism is deceptive because it is not purely Pelagian--never has been. It has always been semi-Pelagian - faith plus works; grace plus merit; etc.

The most vivid example is that Romanism views the Mass as being a bloody sacrifice that is propitiatory. Heresy of the worst sort for it denies the once for sacrifice of Jesus Christ sufficient in and of itself for our justification.

Carry on,
Campi

gigantor1231 said...

who scared the papists?

David said...

Robert,
I am sorry about your wife. I pray that Christ will fill every inch of the massive gap that has been left in your life.

I think we do have much common ground. Here are 12 undeniable truths. I hope you believe them.

1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
1l. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting. Amen.

You seem to want something from me that I am unable to give. You want me to prove truth from scripture. I can’t prove anything true to you, but I can disprove false assertions. I can give a reason for my faith. I am prepared in season and out of it to give an answer. For instance, you assert that the RCC worships Mary. I say the RCC calls worship of anyone or anything other than God idolatry. I say it clearly states this fact in the Catechism (not to mention the scripture, which the RCC submits to as the Canon). If this is not a compelling argument, then I am interested in what you would require as a legitimate refutation of your assertion that we worship Mary.

If you want me to use scripture alone in making my arguments then simply show me where in scripture it states this, then we can look in scripture alone to see what is scripture. We can use the KJV only if you want. I prefer the 1611 AV myself since it includes the rest of scripture that you no longer choose to recognize as scripture. However, you won’t find it stating any such nonsense in the Deuterocanonical books either. It is all truth as well. That means no contradiction.

Now don’t get mad at me but think about what I am saying a little before you fly off on another tangent. Don’t forget that the question on the table for Mr. Camp and everyone else was about the Eucharist. You see, since I believe it is really Jesus (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity), it is central to my faith, because Jesus is the center of all reality. If scripture denies the real presence I would be compelled to stop making so much out of the LORD’s supper. As for now, I am concerned I don’t make enough out of the “unbloody” sacrifice, even as a Roman Catholic.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. (1 Cor 11:27-29) RSV

gigantor1231 said...

Nice tap dance! You seem to be afraid of something, what is it? You say you do not worship Mary, then why all the statues, why do people bow to her, even prostrate themselves and millions upon millions do this. I understand you fear and don't worry I am not angry, rather filled with pity for you, you are blind and do not know it! I know you can not answer these questions.... but you sure can dance!!!

Terry Rayburn said...

David,

The Apostle's Creed says God will judge the quick and the dead, but it does not say on what BASIS it will judge them.

It says "the forgiveness of sins", but it doesn't say on what BASIS sins are forgiven.

The RCC falsely says grace/faith plus WORKS.

The Bible says grace/faith ALONE.

You will not deal with the citations I made from the RCC Cathechism and the Council of Trent, because you cannot.

And you cannot, because they clearly teach the false gospel of works that you don't want to own up to. This false gospel was reinforced by John Paul II (who even visited Trento, Italy for the 450th anniversary of the Council). And certainly is by Benedict XVI, who is even more Old School than John Paul.

The diverted focus from the Bible, and its gospel, to the Mass and other non-biblical supernaturalism was a major contributing factor to the world entering the Dark Ages.

And you and the Beckwith's of the world would gladly lead us there again.

May the pure Word of God continue to go forth, bringing the light of the true gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, apart from works.

David said...

And David danced before the LORD with all his might; (2 Sam 6:14)

gigantor1231 said...

David

I will be kind to your inability to answer the critical questions that you have been asked, but I have to say because of that your blindness is apparent!

Joel said...

Gigantor, nobody scared the Papists. I had a fairly busy weekend (I've got seven kids and one under construction, like a good Romanist), and I didn't have time to sit down and respond to your questions.

Here are a few quick answers, as best I can in a hurry, to your initial list:

Prayer to the saints: Revelation 5:8. ":And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints."

The word used for "elder" is presbyteros, which is the origin of the English word "priest." In any case, this verse shows that the saints in heaven carry the prayers of the saints on earth before the Lord.

The exaltation of Mary: Luke 1:46-49. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

All honor that Mary receives is because of the things that God used her to do, not because she deserved it on her own. How much "calling blessed" is permitted isn't directly addressed in scripture, which appears to me to leave it as a matter of Christian liberty.

The doctrine of perpetual virginity: I don't think this particular marian belief is actually defined as dogma, but it's standard enough to warrant consideration. I guess you win on a technicality with this one: There is no explicit scripture saying that Mary remained a virgin through her life, although there are several things in scripture that argue in favor of it. First and most important, the Bible never actually records her having marital relations, which means her perpetual virginity can't be denied on Biblical grounds, either. Second, although the Greek word for Jesus' brothers does actually mean brothers, Aramaic makes no such distinction between brothers and other male relatives of your own generation. The adelphoi mentioned in the Gospels could just as easily be either cousins or step-brothers (tradition holds that Joseph was a widower with other sons already). Third, Jesus handed over care of Mary to John from the cross, something He wouldn't have had to do if He had brothers to take on the job.

So the Bible doesn't settle this one explicitly. We're left with two possible interpretations: one that accords with the oldest traditions of the Church, and another that contradicts them.

There is an interesting parallel in Ezekiel 44: 2, "Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut." That hardly constitutes contextual scriptures, however.

It's worth noting that none of these three things you named are actually requirements of the Catholic faith. It's very possible to live out your life as a Catholic, especially in America, without having much to do at all with Mary, and never praying with saints. I'm not sure if Mary's perpetual virginity is actually defined as dogmatic, but then, I really don't care that much about it. A lady's sex life (or lack of one) isn't really my business.

Now, how about some discussion of extra-Biblical Protestant practices? Are you up to that, Gigantor? Please find me contextual scriptures mandating electronic sound systems, Sunday afternoon potlucks, and youth groups. If you can't, then it clearly shows that Protestantism is not a valid form of Christianity, by the same logic applied to Catholicism.

Joel said...

Terry, you're hitting a little closer to the root of the controversy here, as well as facing me with some harder questions to answer. I wish I were theologian enough to do them justice, but here's the best I can do offhand:

We do not believe that we are saved by works. It's grace.

However, your bringing up of the word "merit" in the Catechism is a valid point. However, "I do not think it means what you think it means." :)

Merit, in Catholic-speak, is simply the righteousness with which God infuses us through His grace. It's not something we do on our own; we couldn't do anything without God enabling us.

And yes, we believe that that merit is corporate as well as individual, which means that we're all becoming more righteous together. The Church as a whole is made up of individuals, but it's also more than that. The best analogy is to Israel in the Old Testament, in which God judged them both on the actions of individuals and on the people as a whole. (This doesn't mean that I'm arguing for or against the Church replacing Israel; that's out of my league.)

And I really wish you folks would familiarize yourselves with Trent before citing it, as you're simply copying and pasting from websites whose purpose is to prove that Trent is anti-Biblical. It would be like taking your entire knowledge of the Bible from militant atheist sites. At no time does Trent say that we are saved by works.

I wonder if the people at CARM have read the canons preceding the ones they like so much:

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON II.-If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.


The canons are only a summary of the actual teachings of the Council, but for some reason, even people who limit themselves to the canons manage to miss these.

Steve, you said "One thing to keep in mind: Romanism is deceptive because it is not purely Pelagian--never has been. It has always been semi-Pelagian - faith plus works; grace plus merit; etc. "

That's interesting, because the Council of Orange condemned semi-Pelagianism in 529. Obviously the Church didn't believe that what they taught constituted semi-Pelagianism. (Apparently Trent didn't either, as it uses Orange as a basis for refuting Luther.)

Terry Rayburn said...

Joel,

You need not regret that you're not a RCC theologian, because they can't defend the RCC "gospel" either.

Your quotations from Trent are pointless, since no one has said that the RCC teaches salvation by works ALONE (technically). As Steve pointed out, they teach salvation by grace PLUS works. And that's a false gospel, indefensible even by the finest Catholic theologians.

It's also a ridiculous concept, since the Bible says that adding works to grace makes it no longer grace.

So when Rome says works PLUS grace, even their grace is not really grace. So in that sense it really is works ALONE.

The true gospel says that salvation is by grace ALONE, and anyone who believes that has no business in the Roman institution. Come out from them, all who believe the true gospel of salvation by grace alone.

BTW, I've learned years ago what a waste it is to debate Catholic practices like praying to "saints", Mariology, etc. They all detract from the real issue, the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God for salvation to those who believe.

Joel said...

You need not regret that you're not a RCC theologian, because they can't defend the RCC "gospel" either.

Despite managing for a millennium and a half before Calvin came along and wrote a new one.

It's also a ridiculous concept, since the Bible says that adding works to grace makes it no longer grace.

The verse you're referring to here seems to be Romans 11:6, and you're reading a lot into it. The clearest interpretation of this verse is exactly how the Catholic Church reads it: that if we earn it, it's not grace.The verse doesn't say anything about adding one to the other.

The proposition that nothing we do has anything to do with our salvation is a whole 'nother matter, and is contradicted repeatedly in the New Testament. The most obvious example is the parable of the sheep and the goats, but we can go into others if you like.

BTW, I've learned years ago what a waste it is to debate Catholic practices like praying to "saints", Mariology, etc. They all detract from the real issue, the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God for salvation to those who believe.

There you're right.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

Who scared the papists was just in response to your statement with regards to my questions being stump the papist, I did not intend to mock you at all.

Luke 1:46-56 in its context is simply Mary worshipping God. You using it as justification to pray to her or worship her is entirely out of context and misses the point of what is happening in this particular chapter. She is visiting her cousin Elizabeth and they are rejoicing together. As a matter of fact Mary is not intending to bring any attention on her at all here but she is directing all of the glory to God. Now your use of Ezekiel 44: 2 in one word is profane and not even close to the context. Now what you seem to be saying is that there was some type of intercourse that went between God and Mary, and that the gate is shut and no one else can enter because God was there, so Mary's womb was now holy ground and off limits to mortal man. What a bunch of garbage.
Revelation 5:8 in context is that of the book with seven seals that no one can open but the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David. John the Revelator is relating what he is seeing when he is caught up. You pull one little section out and apply your own spin on it, or the RCC's spin on it. This type of interpretation is what is called eisegesis and it is really nothing shory of heretical, when it is done with the full knowledge of developing a doctrine to accomplish ones own end and desire. All of the scriptures that you have produced have been done using eisegesis and I would hope this is something that you have done out of ignorance.
Your final statements about potlucks and youthgroups etc... seems to be nothing but you mocking out of frustration so I am not certain what to say other than I will pray that God somehow soften your heart and opens your eyes!

Terry Rayburn said...

"It was a dark and stormy night..."

That could be the beginning of this comment, since I've started it so many times, and then erased and started again, concerned for the souls of those caught in the ancient web of the Roman Catholic Church. And I'm painfully aware that I can do nothing to open the heart of a person. But the Gospel can.

Joel,

Finally, through your mention of the sheep and goats, you are at least admitting the simple truth that the Roman Catholic Church teaches salvation by WORKS [plus "grace"].

You have either always believed that, and therefore have never been born again, or you are like the Galatians, who were born again and then were deceived by false teachers, quenching and insulting the Spirit of Grace.

I hope it's the latter, and if so, would recommend reading and rereading the Book of Galatians, at least until you understand that Paul is saying that adding works to salvation is an anathemaic heresy.

If it's the former, and you are not born again, your only hope is the pure Gospel of grace alone.

If that is the case, I would recommend reading and rereading Romans 1 through 5.

There you will at least see that Paul is saying that you must not only receive forgiveness of sins as a FREE gift APART from works, but also must receive the FREE gift of God's righteousness APART from works.

All of grace, through the once-for-all death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May God use the burning truth of Rom. 1:17 to open your heart, as it did Luther's:

"For in it [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Joel said...

Your final statements about potlucks and youthgroups etc... seems to be nothing but you mocking out of frustration so I am not certain what to say other than I will pray that God somehow soften your heart and opens your eyes!

Gigantor, that really wasn't meant to be mockery, although I do admit I was feeling a little frustrated. God has already done a great deal to my heart and my eyes; you should have seen me a few years ago. And He's not finished with everything He's going to do, either. :)

The reason I included that part about youth groups and sound systems was to highlight the shortcoming of requiring every practice in a church to be directly commanded by scripture. The references I gave in defense of Catholic practices are less than explicit commands to do them, but the verses used to condemn them are even less so. The bottom line is that anything Catholics do, and Protestants do not, is easily taken for heathenish mummery.

I see no particular Biblical objection to potlucks and sound systems, but I'm sure I could find verses that could be used to refute those things. Certainly all the things you questioned me on were practiced by the ancient Church, whereas the ones I asked about were not. (Well, maybe Sunday potlucks. But I'll bet there wasn't any huckleberry pie, without which no potluck is complete anyway.) For lack of clear Biblical mandates, we both fall back on tradition and Christian liberty.

Joel said...

Finally, through your mention of the sheep and goats, you are at least admitting the simple truth that the Roman Catholic Church teaches salvation by WORKS [plus "grace"].

Terry, does that mean you don't believe that parable? Or do Protestants simply not mention that passage? I find both of those unlikely. I even was taught that one in Baptist Sunday School. It's one of the passages that I had a great deal of trouble reconciling with Protestant soteriology, although I'll admit I wasn't a terribly well-informed Protestant. I know a bit more about it now, and I have even more trouble making that parable fit. To a Catholic, it makes perfect sense.

You have either always believed that, and therefore have never been born again, or you are like the Galatians, who were born again and then were deceived by false teachers, quenching and insulting the Spirit of Grace.

I hope it's the latter, and if so, would recommend reading and rereading the Book of Galatians, at least until you understand that Paul is saying that adding works to salvation is an anathemaic heresy.


The other possibility, of course, is that what the Church teaches is what Christianity has been all along, and it's John Calvin's interpretation of the scriptures that's flawed, rather than that of the ancient and universal Church. If to be a Christian requires believing in the interpretation you espouse, then Christianity began in the 16th century, and there are no Christians even today outside of American and a few European countries.

I do believe the verse from Romans, just as I believe the rest of the Bible. The men to whom God gave it were members of the same Church I am.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

I never said every little thing that one does in their personal life, or that the operation of the church needs to be under some specific biblical command. The reason I brought up Mariology and prayer to the saints is because it is obvious blatant idolatry! If it is not a main doctrine of the RCC then why is there a statue of her in every church, even multiple statues and shrines. God even said to peter on the mount of transfiguration listen to my son in whom I am well pleased, Peter wanted to build shrines to Elijah and Moses and he was told to listen to Christ, focus on him ALONE. To be honest with you I see her image associated with the RCC more than either the cross or Christ. Mariology is a major issue alone, let alone prayer and exultation of the forgiven sinners, I mean saints, if you deny this then I do not know what to say, you may think that God has opened your eyes but if you can not at least see this detail then you have a major stigmatism. Idolatry is a major issue and if you are associated with idolatry via the body you are in, then you need to get out because Christ does not want you there.
With respect to your comments on the sheep and goats in Mt 25, you once again err in that you seem to be stating that this particular passage has something to do with salvation when it does not. The offer of salvation is off the table and these folks the sheep/the righteous and the goats/the unrighteous, they are being judged not for salvation but for reward, a recompense of what is due. Salvation is a gift, we neither earn it nor do we merit it in any way. Works are fruit and they have a reward attached to them 2Cor. 5:10

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

2 Cor 3:12 makes this all very clear in that the works that we do will be judged by fire and some may have their works entirely consumed by fire because of the work that they do, but they themselves will be saved because the foundation they built upon remains, the foundation of Christ Jesus. The unrighteous are strictly judged by their works because they live under the law. Since they are under the law and they do not have the foundation of Christ, grace through faith in Christ, the only thing to judge them by is what they have done and for that their reward they receive eternal seperation from God in Christ.
I do not mean to be mean here but you help me make my point in that your knowledge of the Bible is very weak and as far as I can tell your understanding of it is even weaker. I am praying for you that you will come to a full knowledge of the truth and that God will remove the blinders from your eyes. It is the news that Christ died upon the cross for you, Immanuel, God with us hung on a cross for you, this is the gospel alone, He purchased you here and no work can do anything with regards to this, it is a done deal, it is finished.

Joel said...

With respect to your comments on the sheep and goats in Mt 25, you once again err in that you seem to be stating that this particular passage has something to do with salvation when it does not. The offer of salvation is off the table and these folks the sheep/the righteous and the goats/the unrighteous, they are being judged not for salvation but for reward, a recompense of what is due.

I don't see how you get that from "Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

Everlasting punishment and life eternal seem fairly salvation-oriented to me.

I'm pretty sure you meant 1 Corinthians 3:12, which does indeed deal only with the saved. It appears to me to be a good description of purgatory, in which the works of the Christian that aren't pleasing to God will be removed, and only that which is perfect will be left to enter heaven. (Boy, I just opened another can of worms there, didn't I?)

2 Corinthians 5:12 says that the "we" will appear before the judgment seat, and that "we" certainly appears addressed specifically to the Church, but the rest of what you impute to that passage doesn't appear. If anything, it strengthens my point that God will judge us according to what we do with His grace.

As for idoltry, that one was dealt with at the Second Council of Nicea, by men who knew the Bible better than either you or I. I'm inclined to take their interpretations over my own.

I don't think you're being mean, Gigantor. That you're still talking patiently with me indicates that you're more interested in being informative than in feeding your own ego, which isn't always true of people I've discussed Christianity with. My knowledge of the Bible isn't as thorough as it might be, but I don't think my understanding is all that weak. I find that if I read it at face value, the Bible comes out supporting the Catholic position, particularly in regard to the plan of salvation. It doesn't take a great deal of understanding to read it that way.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

I have to make this comment short but I will elaborate later. With respect to the passage in Mt. 25 regarding the sheep and the goats, the context is obviously not that of a offer of salvation, the decision has already been made and what we see here is judgement. While it is true that the unsaved are judged according to their works because they rejected grace, it is also true, based upon the other supporting scripture that I reffered you to, that the saved are rewarded for their works and the reward is not salvation, that is based upon the foundation that was already laid 1 Cor. 3:12-15

12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Co 3:11-15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

it clearly states here that they are rewarded for their works after the works are judged through fire and even if their works are destroyed they still are saved. If you want to call this purgatory that is up to you, I am not going there, seems pretty un important compared to the different gospel that the RCC proclaims, works and grace, sounds like you just affirmed this by your interpretation of Mt. 25!!!
As far as whoever you speak of at the second council of Nicea, if they supported what is being done with Mary today in the RCC, blatant idolatry, then they were not to knowledgeable of the scriptures either, they supported a idolatrous lie and let them suffer the due penalty for this foul doctrine, I hope that they repented of this evil little deed.

Joel said...

So your take on the parable of the sheep and the goats is that (a) the unrighteous were actually saved, but departed into eternal punishment anyway, or (b) they were damned, but it had nothing to do with whether they had shown kindness to the least of these? I don't see any third possibility except that (c) salvation was given to those who did right and not to those who did not.

If you have any interest in the Second Nicene Council, the documents are here. It was held in 787, before the Reformation, so I can understand if you don't consider it binding, but there's no denying that the bishops who convened it were well-versed in scripture. Their reasoning is why we don't believe that our use of icons is idolatrous. The definition of idolatry is giving honor that's due to God, to someone or something else. We don't honor any saint above (or even equal to) God. How can we, when He's the reason they're saved, just as He's the reason we are?

If we take the parable of the sheep and the goats and apply it in context to 1 Corinthians 3, it becomes clear that we cannot be saved except by grace, but that salvation can be lost if we reject it through our ungodly actions, either before or afterward. (Not everyone who says Lord, Lord...) Which is exactly what the Catholic, Orthodox, and all other non-Protestant churches have taught since the first century.

Joel said...

Incidentally, Gigantor, I saw that you listed Lewis as one of your favorite Christian writers on your profile. How do you take his assertion that faith and works are like blades of a pair of scissors, both necessary to each other? I'm not asking to be argumentative; I'm honestly curious. I know that analogy made enormous sense to me back in my Protestant days.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

It is pretty obvious that you have chosen to follow the RCC and it's teachings hook, line and sinker! So why don't you. It is not important who is right between you and I but the truth is important and I know that we will be exposed to the full light of it one day. So, until that day let God judge between you and I!

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

I do not hold to the doctrines of CS Lewis, but I do like the imagination that he employees in his writings. As I said before, I do not use the Bible to flog every detail of life but I do use it to frame everything, it gives the bounds and definition. If the details of life that I am involved with deviate from the scriptures in a manner that exposes me or my family to undue danger then I avoid it, in other words, while I live in the world I am not of the world, it's system, it's darkness, if it were not so I would have nothing to do with you but you are not threat, you actually help me sharpen my knowledge of the word of God!

Terry Rayburn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry Rayburn said...

Joel,

Re: the Sheep and the Goats...

Always interpret less clear scriptures by more clear scriptures.

In this case, if there is confusion as to whether the Sheep and the Goats are judged for their salvation based on their works (a valid question), it must be compared to CLEAR Scriptures, preferably from doctrinal epistles.

For example, Titus 3:5 says,

"NOT BY WORKS of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit."

Much clearer than the Sheep and Goats illustration.

Eph. 2:8,9 settles the issue with as much clarity as could be asked by an honest person:

"By GRACE you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast."

Why the indication of works in the Sheep and Goats passage, then?

Because, just as a dog goes to his vomit, and a sow goes to the mud, a Goat acts against Christ, and a Sheep follows Him, and bears fruit through the new heart and the Holy Spirit given to him.

In other words, true Good Works are characteristic of a born-again child of God, because God works in us "both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13)

We humans can't always distinguish between a true believer and a false one, but it's as easy for God to do that as it would be for us to separate sheep and goats.

Unless you can twist Eph. 2:8,9 to include salvation by works, neither you nor Pope Benedict himself have any Gospel at all.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel


Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:8,9; Phil. 2:13;
1Cor. 3:12-15; 2Cor. 5:10

You need to keep in mind that one day you will be held accoutable for this information. These scriptures are very clear in describing salvation by grace and not of works at all, 'by grace, through faith, it is a gift,' you have nothing to do with your salvation, it is all Christ alone, when He said it was finished on the cross, it was finished once and for all. How can you deny the perspicuity of the scriptures on this topic?

Joel said...

Terry, the verse from Ephesians doesn't need any twisting.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.


I've said before that we're not saved by works. We're saved by grace, throuugh faith but our salvation can be lost by works. As the parable makes clear.

If the clearer verse should interpret the less clear one, then it should go the other way around. The parable is clearer, and the Gospels should be the standard by which the epistles are measured. If Jesus says that those who do right will be saved and those who don't won't, then that seems like a good place to start reading the other passages.

James 2:24 (you knew that one would come up, didn't you?) can also be used to interpret the verses in Titus and Ephesians. James states flat-out that we're not saved by faith alone. Combine that with the other verses, none of which say anything about faith alone, and we have a pretty good picture of the role of faith in salvation.

I don't think there's any real question about what the parable means. If anything, it's the epistles that need to be interpreted by the light of the Gospel.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

You have some tremendous error in your words in that you do not take into account that the entire Bible is the word of God, no one part is any more or less important than the other!
With respect to James 2:24 you err in your interpretation again, it says;

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

The New King James Version. 1982 (Jas 2:14-26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

So faith without works is dead. True statement, John 15:5 says that apart from Christ we can do nothing. Why is this? It is because anyone apart from Christ is dead, even their best work is filthy rags! So it is true that faith without works is dead. Why? Because if you say you are saved yet you do not feed your brother when he or she is hungry, or care for them when they are ill you simply are not bearing the fruit that accompanies saving faith, you are dead, and you are dead because your faith is dead.
You state that you can lose your salvation by works. Perhaps you could be more specific. If you can lose your salvation via works done or not done then perhaps you can quantify that. Is there a amount of work you have to do or not do to be saved? If you can lose your salvation then how do you know you are saved at all, perhaps you just sinned and you just lost your salvation. I guess this means that if you die in the act of a sin you are not saved either, correct? How about if you are looking on a woman with lust in your heart, keep in mind this is just one isolated moment, all the rest of your time here on earth you spent doing all those saving works that you refer to, but for this isolated moment you lust in your heart for this person and then, boom, you get hit by the bus and instantly you are dead, no chance for repentance here. I feel very sorry for you that you believe this bilge, you do not believe God can keep you and that he will complete the work He started in you! Must be a big crap shoot for you, one moment you are saved the next you are not. Also, if you sin hopefully will do it at the right time, so you have time to repent for it. When I say sin here, I mean that you practice it! whether once or a million times it is practice and no one who practices sin will be saved.

Joel said...

You state that you can lose your salvation by works. Perhaps you could be more specific. If you can lose your salvation via works done or not done then perhaps you can quantify that. Is there a amount of work you have to do or not do to be saved?

Gigantor, that's a really good point. When I say you can lose salvation, I don't mean you can lose it accidentally. The definition of a mortal sin is a deliberate rejection of God's grace. If I commit (say) fornication, knowing that it's a serious sin, intending to do it, and unrepentant afterward, then I have rejected God's salvation. I might as well never have been saved to begin with.

But if I repent of a sin, God is merciful and just to forgive it. All I have to do is ask. That's grace. (And it's also the crux of the faith/works dispute, since even repenting is an action, and hence can be considered a work.)

There's no amount of works I have to do. God has bought my salvation already and given it as a gift. I can't buy it. If I have accepted His grace, He won't turn me away because there were things I should have done. By the same token, if I accept His grace, I jolly ought to be doing His will. If I'm not, He'll mold me into the sort of person who will.

I don't live in uncertainty of salvation, because I know that God won't abandon me. I could abandon Him if I insisted on it, but I have no intention of doing so. (You could call that Arminianism, except that it predates Arminius by sixteen centuries or so.)

So your last paragraph and I are in complete agreement. If I am practicing sin, then I have no real wish for grace. In essence, I put my desire for sin ahead of my desire for salvation, and I end up with what I desired.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

You said;

'I could abandon Him if I insisted on it, but I have no intention of doing so.'

This statement is a uncertain statement in that you have to admit the possibility of losing your salvation. You are a unpredictable human and as you know anything is possible for you or I apart from Christ. If Christ is not 100% sovereign in bringing about your salvation, maintaining and seeing it through then you can not know for certain that you are saved. You could committ one of those mortal sins tommorrow having never intended to do it and then the next second you are gone. People do this type of thing all the time and then say 'I don't know what got into me?'
I do speak from experience on this since I had this belief for the major portion of my life. Arminianism, Pelagianism what ever else you want to call it, all tends to legalism and not grace. I have abandoned all of these types of beliefs and my life has been transformed forever. I do not serve Christ out of 'I have to', I do not have to fulfill the law or do good works because He saved me and sealed me for all eternity. This is why it is called eternal life, because when he gives you the gift of eternal life it is eternal and never ending, once you are in you are in! It is not called conditional eternal life where you can just scrap it when you want, Christ will not let go of those that are truly saved, they are His, He purchased us with his blood and all sales are final, no refunds or returns.
You also contadict your free will statement when you say

'By the same token, if I accept His grace, I jolly ought to be doing His will. If I'm not, He'll mold me into the sort of person who will.'

On one hand you say that you can lose your salvation, but on the other you say that if you are not doing Christ's will then 'He'll mold me into the sort of person who will.' You are speaking non-sense here, you speak of two conditions ea. of which are established on opposite premises
1. I can lose my salvation if I choose.
2. If I choose not to do the works I am supposed to God will mold me into the the sort of person who will.
So which is it, He will not allow you to make the wrong decision and perish, or will He just let you perish because you decide you want to. How could this be? And if it is true then what about this fellow 1 Cor. 5:3-5;

3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Co 5:3-5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

This man committed the very sin that you spoke of, fornication, and this fornication was even of a sort that the gentiles did not do, that is the context of this scripture and the condition of this man. Yet inspite of this the scripture states that his flesh might be destroyed but his spirit may be saved. Any way you look at it God takes over and makes sure that the lost sheep gets into the fold. Once we are saved he is not going to allow us to lose our salvation. And that is why I serve him out of Love, I do not have to, I want to, I am not under any legal mandate or command, I simply love him and want to serve him, and that is true salvation. No longer under the law, but 100% under his grace.

Terry Rayburn said...

Joel,

You are clearly rejecting the Gospel of grace.

May God open your eyes and heart.

Terry

Noah said...

Wow. This is quite the discussion I see. If I may help slightly in regards to the question of whether or not one can lose salvation. There were many verses given regarding the fact that a person who has truly received God's grace cannot lose it or have it taken away; how this is contrary to God's nature. If you'll permit, I'd like to offer another set of verses that I did not see mentioned (and often are not brought up; these are the verses that finally and fully convinced me of the doctrine of eternal security when I first read them).

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NASB)."

Summary: NOTHING, not even ourselves, can seperate us from the love or saving grace of Jesus Christ(Romans 8:1 is the context here, which makes such an idea a valid and proper application).

Joel said...

Gigantor:
1. I can lose my salvation if I choose.
2. If I choose not to do the works I am supposed to God will mold me into the the sort of person who will.


I don't see a necessary contradiction in those two statements, although the way I phrased them could be read that way. I do have the choice to continue to follow God or not. What I choose and what I do are two different things, because I'm imperfect. (A pardoned one, but a sinner nonetheless.)

The Lord will help me to become the sort of son He wants, but He won't force me to be if I adamantly refuse. There's an area in between that I lived in for many years, where I kind of wanted to do His will but was too weak spiritually to resist sin. I honestly don't know what the state of my soul would have been at that time, although I've come to believe that God would rather be merciful than not. In any case, He slowly dragged me out of that state. I'm still not as strong as He wants me to be, but He's changing that little by little.

Noah:
Using Romans to refute the Roman! :)

I can see how the verses in Romans can be read as you do, but I don't see anything that specifically denies our own ability to forsake God. What Paul seems to me to be saying is "Don't be afraid of the world; nothing in it can make God let go of you." I don't think the chapter is meant to address the Christian's own willingness to fall away; I think Paul assumes that the people he's writing to do want to persevere. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul implies that he himself could fall away, and Hebrews 6 says so much more blatantly.

Would you say that once-saved-always-saved is an indispensible tenet of Christianity? It seems to me that among Protestants there's a great range of opinion on it.

I guess the whole issue of saving sinners is less cut-and-dried than I'd like to say it was, and I have to fall back on the knowledge that God looks at the heart and sees farther into what our deepest desire is than we ourselves do. Which smacks of predestination, if you like, since He knows who will ultimately be willing to be saved and who won't. I'm sorry I don't have the theological knowledge to give a better answer than that.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

Here is the amazing thing in all of this, Christ in his infinite wisdom and mercy chose you and he chose to save you. You were dead in your sins Eph 2;1-10

2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in othe passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Eph 2:1-10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

and John 15:5;

5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

The New King James Version. 1982 (Jn 15:5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Now, correct me if I am wrong but when you are dead and you are seperated from God. Being seperated from God means that you can do nothing, you can bare no fruit. Dead is dead and nothing is nothing. Now you can point to all the scripture you want that say that you made some decision and chose him, which in reality within context you can not, but the fact is that you were helpless in every way, body, mind, soul and spirit and you could do nothing! Yet you still boast that you somehow made this decision to follow him. This is wrong and in the face of scripture in so many ways. As a newly converted Christian with a lack of knowledge of the word I can see how you could believe this, but after having fully read the word and having a mature understand you have to understand that you have no part in your salvation, you can claim nothing. Christ saw you helpless and He made you alive, He chose you, you did not choose him, if this were true then you would have a reason to boast, but you do not. It is the same with maintaining your salvation, you say that you can lose it. This would mean that you are still under the law but as Christians we are not under the law but under grace, we are made alive by Christ and controled by his Holy Spirit. While it is true that we can relapse into sin, but I guarantee you that once you are save He WILL NOT let you slip away. It is as though you want that though and by the RCC teaching you seem to revel in thinking that you can lose your salvation and that you can some how attain it by making a decision.
Did Christ purchase you with his blood? Is your decision somehow in addition to his cost? If you answer yes to this question then what you are saying is that Christ's death on the cross was not sufficient alone to save you but his death on the cross only brings salvation when it is combined with your decision. This is not true and it is a lie that removes the sufficiency of Christ's death upon the cross and brings in, again, legal sanctions. Simply put this is a carnal teaching in every sense of the word!!!

Joel said...

Gigantor, I'm not really sure how to respond to that last comment. Either it's not very clear or I'm just not understanding you very well.

I do know that I have nothing to boast of, nor to revel in. I'm a sinner saved by grace. The means by which God accomplishes salvation-by-grace is the matter at hand, not whether or not it's by grace. It may have been a mistake to use myself as an example; I just couldn't think of a better way to illustrate my point.

I'm also not a theologian, just a dimestore apologist at best, so my explanation of Catholic teaching may not be as good as it ought. I just didn't see any real Catholic theologians popping in to explain, so I took a swing at it. :)

I think overall that the Bible tends to support the Catholic position on salvation (as well as the other differences we addressed here) better than the Protestant one. Many (if not most) passages of scripture can be interpreted in at least two ways, which is how divisions start in the first place. I tend to believe that it's better to take the interpretation that accords with the ancient traditions of the Church over one that contradicts it. But I have no real quarrrel with any Christian who earnestly believes God is better served by taking the other interpretation. Part of being saved by grace is that we're not saved by havinng all the right doctrines.

gigantor1231 said...

Joel

Simply put, we have no part in our salvation if we are truly saved! To say that one made a decision to salvation is to say that there was a personal work that had to take place in order for salvation to occurr and that work was the decision. If it is true that by grace we are saved, through faith it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast, then the work of decision is simply a response to his regeneration and what appears to be something we did was of Him all along! Therefore I truly have nothing to boast in, He did it all!

Joel said...

If it is true that by grace we are saved, through faith it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast, then the work of decision is simply a response to his regeneration and what appears to be something we did was of Him all along!

In which case, it seems to me that the net effect is the same anyway. If we come to Him, then either we chose to come to Him, or He brought us to Him even as it appeared to us that we were choosing Him, or some combination or variant of the two that's beyond our understanding. I don't see that God's election and our assent are necessarily incompatible, especially as both are attested in scripture. We are both told that God chose us for Himself, and exhorted to choose Him (as in Deuteronomy 30 and Joshua 24). Moreover, the Gospels and Acts are riddled with accounts of evangelism, which would be pointless if there were no capacity to choose whatsoever. (I know there are Calvinists who believe it is pointless, but they seem to be a minority.)

But in either case, whether we choose (which is at least how it appears subjectively) or we are simply brought to salvation with no choice on our part, the final outcome is the same. It may be that we'll look back from Heaven and see that every choice we thought we were making was in fact inevitable. I don't know. (Which I think is what you were saying, from a different angle.)

Since the Bible isn't explicit on the subject, and traditions are divided (at least since the 16th century), I think I may have to admit that I don't understand it well enough to defend it.

Part of the problem may be the Protestant reluctance to accept paradox, or to recognize that God isn't bound by it as man is. We can't do two mutually contradictory things simultaneously (like predestination and free will), but God isn't limited in that way. A large part of the Protestant Reformation seems to have been trying to define doctrines in such a way that all of them are comprehensible to Man, and to reject any that aren't sufficiently cut-and-dried. Not that that was unique to Protestantism; Aquinas had done much the same centuries before. So had Augustine before him. But the Reformation occurred in the west, where such rationalism was a component of the culture. (You wouldn't have seen the same Reformation in the Eastern Church.) I don't think was it a coincidence that John Calvin was a lawyer. But saying "It's a mystery" must have driven him nuts. :)

irRational said...

I wanted to thank you for your words today on Iron Sharpens Iron, some of which covered this same topic. Thank you for standing up so boldly for God's Truth, and thank you for your openness about your own life and experience on last week's ISI as well. May God continue to bless you as you continue to walk in His will.
~FlameGurl <><

andy said...

Hi amazing thread! Joel your a very humble man!!

Joel i'm reading some books by a brilliant historian called Eamon Duffy,they've totally changed my view on the Catholic Church and the reformation in the UK,do you know him?..

highly recommended!! andrew

Joel said...

Thanks, Andrew. I had only heard of Duffy in passing, but after looking him up, I think I should read something of his. What he writes about is a fascinating (and frequently mischaracterized) period of history.

andy said...

Hi yeah his book The Stripping of the Alters is a real eye opener..

Lots of reform Christians would have you believe the reform was welcomed by all in England..Theres pretty strong evidences it was the opposite,that the majority of England were happy in their Catholic faith..

Also his other book The Voice of Morebath is fascinating..

In the 16 cent most priest would just write down basic info in the parish accounts,but this particular priest wrote detailed information about the people in his parish,fascinating (if you can get past the old language)
andy

gigantor1231 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

I read this whole thread and now I'm suing Steve Camp for my eye problems!

This post just illustrates the point that it's futile to try to keep things scriptural and refute or defend in light of the word.

I was raised RC and yes, works...no doubt about it...let's be truthful about what we believe and not try and put ourselves into the "faith only" bunch...it's simply not true.

I would like to comment that my household and those Catholic households of which I visited, never cracked a bible as long as I knew them...they were fed the information from the missel and thought that that "was it for the week" as sort of a "flu shot"...

If the RCC wants to say that they believe in faith alone...then Luther was really really wrong...

cyd said...

Robert:

"I would like to comment that my household and those Catholic households of which I visited, never cracked a bible as long as I knew them."

Exactly.

I was raised in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood. Whatever my friends learned at catechism was the rule, never the word of God. Now I hear this: the scriptures aren't the only word of God, but rather it's the bible plus...

BTW - isn't it interesting that the rules seem to continually change with the times. Remember "no fish on fridays"?