Clement of Rome’s Epistle to the Corinthians

Our church just purchased the Schaff-edited Early Church Fathers. I have immediately begun to read it. I would like to share my thoughts on what I read. I will do a bit of poking around as well (since this edition is quite old) to see what more modern scholarship has to say on each of these works, though this will by no means be exhaustive. I will offer what is basically a short introduction, a road map through each work, or part of a work.

We start with Clement of Rome’s Epistle to the Corinthians. It is sometimes called the first epistle, but the so-called second epistle is almost certainly spurious. No reasonable doubts have been raised as to the genuineness of this letter. It is generally dated to the late first century, around 96 AD. Clement of Rome is supposed by the Roman Catholic Church to be the fourth pope. However, as we shall see, his doctrine is hardly what later Romanist theologians would approve, especially on the doctrine of justification.

If you would like to read it online, you can go here, for the Schaff edition I am reading, or you can go here, for Lightfoot’s commentary. The Greek original is available here, in the Patrologia series, or, for a more elegant and streamlined version (with a gorgeous font!), here.

The occasion of this letter was very similar to what prompted Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: division in the church (see especially chapter 3 of our document). In this case, it seems that the congregation was rising up against their leaders. Envy, strife and disorder were marring what had before been a very godly situation (compare chapter 3 with chapters 1 and 2). What follows is an attempt to set forth every possible motive for humility and against division either from the example of those who have gone before, or from Christ Himself, or even from fanciful tales used as an illustration (confer the phoenix in chapter 25). This letter is Scripture-saturated. Indeed, it is remarkable how much Scripture Clement manages to cram into a mere 17 pages!

A brief outline is as follows: I. Praise of the Corinthians pre-strife (1-2); II. The destructiveness of strife (3-6); III. Call to repentance (7-12); IV. Call to humility (13-24); V. Encouragement from resurrection (25-26); VI. General encouragement to holiness (27-30); VII. How we obtain blessing (31-38); VIII. No self-conceit (39); IX. Order in the church (40-44); X. The sin of the Corinthians (45-47); XI. Love (48-55); XII. Final exhortation to submission (56-59).

I want to highlight a few things. Firstly, I want to highlight chapter 32′s statement on justification by faith alone. In the context, Clement is contrasting the holiness of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (chapter 31) with the “greatness of the gifts which were given by him” (chapter 32). A footnote indicates that the pronoun “him” is of doubtful reference. The note prefers the understanding “the gifts which were given to Jacob by Him,” i.e., God. This is also Lightfoot’s understanding, even though he acknowledges the awkwardness of the transition to the next sentence’s “from him,” obviously referring to Jacob. Regardless of the meaning of these two sentences, the contrast between works and grace is clear in the middle of chapter 32: “All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will.” The divine passives should be obvious here. Then follows a quotation which should be quoted in full to be appreciated (emphases is mine):

And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Note the contrast between “works which we have wrought IN HOLINESS OF HEART” (presumably, this means all works done by a believer) versus “by that faith.” Whatever Clement means by faith in this passage therefore cannot include works done in holiness of heart. Faith does not equal faithfulness in justification. Note that this is in the context of justification.

Clement makes no bones about including works when it comes to sanctification, as is obvious from the immediately succeeding chapters. Someone might point to chapter 35 and claim that the promised gifts are contingent on “casting away from us all unrighteousness and iniquity.” However, it is clear in this section that Clement is thinking eschatologically. The beginning of the chapter reads “How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, splendour in riighteousness, truth in perfect confidence, faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of our understandings (now); what then shalle those things be which are prepared for such as wait for Him?” The Protestant will cheerfully agree that salvation in the broader sense (not just conversion) includes God enabling us to good works as a necessary result of grace (not a foundational cause). However, lest we understand Clement to be taking back what he has given, he goes on to root all blessings in the grace of Christ in chapter 36.

The effect of these chapters on the argument as a whole is to bring back the Corinthians to an understanding of why they cannot boast. Boasting brings envy and divisions. The grace of God, however, precludes the divisions which have wracked the Corinthians. So it is much to Clement’s advantage to press upon them the truth of justification by faith alone. Otherwise, the Corinthians will continue to divide.

About these ads

71 Comments

  1. Bryan Cross said,

    April 28, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Lane,

    For a Catholic explanation of that passage in St. Clement, see the soteriology section of “St. Clement of Rome: Soteriology and Ecclesiology.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  2. Mark Kim said,

    April 29, 2012 at 12:48 am

    This is very interesting. Thanks for posting this Lane.

    I guess Clement would disagree with the foolish exegesis commonly found in contemporary critical scholarly circles (which some professing Reformed evangelicals have bought into) that Paul’s argument against the “works of the law” (cf. Rom 3:28) only have to do with boundary markers of the Mosaic covenant.

    I think the current controversy in today’s Reformed circles on justification can be put too rest if we just understand that 1) justification is never grounded on anything inherent in us (whether pre or post-conversion); and 2) that obedience is absolutely necessary, but only in a consequential and evidential way.

    I’ll try to read his material by the links you have provided.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    April 29, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Bryan, thanks for the link. Here would be my response to it: what you are really saying is that we are justified by love, not by faith. For your position holds that love is really the sine qua non of justification. Also, you introduce a very vague expression in “faith informed by love.” What does that phrase mean? A Protestant could affirm that with qualifications, but it would probably not mean the same thing. You use the phrase to affirm the position that justification takes places inside of us. I would affirm it in order to say that justification takes place outside of us, and that faith is always accompanied by love, but does not justify on that basis, but rather on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ. Faith is extraspective: it looks outside of ourselves to salvation, by its very definition. You would have us look to our love as the basis for justification. How does that not contradict Clement’s statement that it is not by works done in a holy frame of mind, but by faith? Are not the works he is talking about the very essence of love as it shows itself? We show our love by our obedience. Therefore, Clement is talking about faith as it is extraspective: that is the instrumental cause of salvation. In other words, you create a false dichotomy by phrasing it as either living faith or dead faith, because on this false dichotomy you hinge the presence of love as the truly justifying factor. Love always accompanies true faith. But faith does not justify because of that fact. Love is a (logically, not temporally) consequent accompaniment, not a constituent of faith.

    The citation from chapter 50 is rather far removed from the context in chapter 32. There, Clement is talking about those who are glorified: “Those who have been made perfect in love, now possess a place among the godly, and shall be made manifest a the revelation of the kingdom of Christ.” Further, I believe a case can be made that Clement transitions from speaking about our love (shown in obedience to the commandment) to God’s love for us. What follows the citation is a statement concerning how the blessedness comes to us: through election by God in Jesus Christ. So the “love” in the quotation could be interpreted as God’s love for us, which will always manifest itself in a reciprocal love from us to God. This is the way that Luke 7:36-50 works: the evidence of the woman’s being forgiven much is that she loved much. Jesus says “He who is forgiven little, loves little.” The corresponding truth is that he who is forgiven much loves much. The latter is the case with regard to the woman. The clause “for she loved much” is an evidential clause, not a causal clause. I believe the passage in Clement 50 is similar.

  4. Bryan Cross said,

    April 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Lane,

    By the expression “faith informed by love” I was referring to what in Catholic theology is meant by the Latin fides formata, which is contrasted with fides informis, the former being living faith, i.e. the faith that is made alive by agape, and the latter being the dead faith referred to in St. James. In heaven we will have agape but no faith, because we will see Him face to face. But in this present life, according to Catholic doctrine, we cannot have agape without having faith. So in Catholic doctrine, in this life we cannot be justified by agape alone. In this life, according to Catholic doctrine, we are justified by living faith, i.e. fides formata.

    The Reformed and Catholic traditions disagree here, and my point wasn’t to debate or resolve that disagreement, not here. My point was only about St. Clement’s position on justification by faith. At the article I linked, I laid out the evidence from other parts of his epistle showing that the faith of which he speaks is living faith, not dead faith. So when in chapter 32 he says that we are justified “by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men,” he is referring to justification by living faith, not by dead faith. And so what he says here is fully compatible with a Catholic understanding of what it means to be justified by faith.

    Likewise when he says that we are “not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart,” the holiness he is referring to is not the divinely infused holiness (i.e. sanctifying grace), but natural holiness, i.e. the sort of holiness a person might have through his own efforts, without grace. Consider, for example, the ‘virtuous pagan,’ who by his own efforts seeks to develop inwardly the natural virtues of prudence, justice, courage and temperance. We can see this described in the works of Plato, in which the virtuous person seeks to develop the [natural, i.e. not supernatural] virtue of justice (including toward that which is divine) and the virtue of piety. According to Aristotle, the only truly virtuous actions are those that come from a virtuous character. And Cicero holds a similar idea. But still, they are speaking of natural virtue, natural piety, natural justice — dispositions that man acquires not by grace but by his own practice and discipline. And the same is true of Hebrews who, like Saul, were blameless with respect to the letter of the law (Phil 3:6), but did not have living faith. St. Clement’s statement is an early patristic denial of what would later be known as Pelagianism. He is saying that no one has ever been justified by his own wisdom, his own understanding, his own godliness, or works done out of his own holiness. Anyone who is justified before God is justified by grace, through the divine gift of living faith. And that is what the Catholic Church still teaches. So in this way St. Clement’s doctrine is fully compatible with Catholic doctrine, including the teaching of the Council of Trent.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  5. greenbaggins said,

    April 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Bryan, where exactly in the text of Clement does he refer to this contrast between sanctified, infused grace, versus natural holiness, such that you get out of it that he is denying the latter as being part of justification, and not the former? Frankly, I don’t see it anywhere in the entire letter. That is a later theological construct you are imposing on an earlier document. It is certainly not present in the immediate context anywhere.

  6. Bryan Cross said,

    April 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Lane, (re: #5)

    He does not use the terms ‘sanctifying grace,’ or ‘natural holiness.’ But the distinction between natural righteousness, and the righteousness that is from above through Christ, was well known to St. Clement. St. Paul makes use of it in Romans 10:3, and also in Phil 3:9, where he writes, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

    And I think the context of St. Clement’s statement clarifies what he means here in chapter 32. In chapter 31, he turns his attention to the way in which Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons received the gifts of God. In chapter 32 he reminds the Corinthians that these gifts were given according to God’s promise: “Your seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” Then he adds, “All these [i.e. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.], therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will.” Just as St. Paul had taught them, St. Clement is reminding the Corinthians that it was not because of the patriarchs’ own righteousness that God gave to them [i.e. the patriarchs] all these great gifts. Then he directly adds, “And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Here St. Clement is bringing to the Corinthians’ attention the truth that just as the divine gifts were given to the OT patriarchs not because of their own righteousness or holiness, but through the divine gift of faith, so the Corinthian believers too, in the New Covenant, were called and justified through Christ not because of themselves — not because of any special wisdom they had, or exceptional understanding or godliness or good works done out of any holiness they had from themselves, but through the divine gift of faith, according to God’s benevolent choice in Christ Jesus.

    The context indicates that he is not attempting to explain what happens in the soul at the moment of justification, so as to teach the Corinthian believers that they were justified not by a holiness divinely infused into their souls when they came to faith in Christ or by the good works flowing from that divine gift of holiness of heart. This is a pastoral letter, and his purpose isn’t theological analysis of that sort. Rather, he is exhorting the rebellious Corinthians to humility, by pointing to the example of the patriarchs and reminding the Corinthians that it was not by their own wisdom, understanding, godliness, holiness, etc., that they were justified, but rather by faith in Christ, as a gift from God, just as the saints of old were chosen and blessed not on the basis of their own righteousness, but by their faith and humility. He confirms this purpose at the end of the epistle where he writes, “even as also our fathers forementioned found favour by the humility of their thoughts towards the Father and God and Creator and all mankind.” (c. 62) So to read the ‘holiness’ here (in c. 32) as a reference to the sanctification believers receive through Christ, and then draw conclusions about St. Clement’s soteriology from that assumption, would be to read into St. Clement something he isn’t saying.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  7. greenbaggins said,

    April 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Bryan, I think it is kind of ironic here that you admit the distinction of which you speak is not something of which Clement speaks, and yet you say that I am the one importing into Clement something he isn’t saying. I would argue that the distinction you are asserting isn’t even remotely germain to his argument for humility and reconciliation between the congregants and their leaders, which we both seem to agree is the main point of the letter. The context, therefore, militates against your interpretation of artificially limiting the scope of “works which we have wrought in holiness of heart.” Besides, it seems highly unlikely that anyone would describe natural righteousness in these terms: “holiness of heart.”

    Your interpretation of Paul in Romans 10 and Philippians 3 will not hold water either. The righteousness that is by faith is a free gift. This is clear from what follows in Romans 10. Paul says that confession and belief are the constituents of salvation in the narrow sense of justification (see verse 9). The contrast is also elucidated in verse 5, where Paul contrasts the righteousness that is by Moses’ law (NOT natural righteousness) with the righteousness that is by faith. The contrast is between doing and believing, not between one kind of doing and another kind of doing. See especially “the person who does the commandments” in verse 5 contrasted with “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” in verse 9. The constituent aspects of salvation in verses 9-10 say NOTHING about infused righteousness.

    Philippians 3 certainly does contrast Paul’s former attempts at righteousness with the righteousness “from God.” But Paul does not say here whether it is an infused or imputed righteousness. He simply calls it the righteousness that depends on faith. It is gratuitous, therefore, to assume that Paul has in mind a contrast between a faithless doing and a faithful doing. It is much more likely that he has in mind a contrast between an effort to obey the law for salvation in any form versus an obtaining Christ’s righteousness by faith. Otherwise, how could Paul claim that he puts no confidence in the flesh (verse 3)? If he were advocating an infused righteousness that is dependent on faith, there would still be grounds for boasting in the flesh, because it is still an inherent righteousness.

    Your second to last paragraph contains nothing I would disagree with, but I would say it doesn’t address the issue. The issue is this: in justification, is Christ’s righteousness given to us by imputation or by infusion? I would argue that Clement, by excluding from justification works done in holiness of heart, precludes any kind of sanctified holiness being part of our justification. This would favor the imputation view, though of course he does not use that language.

    As to your last paragraph, if he is not attempting to explain what happens in the soul at the moment of justification, then I am at a loss to understand why you would be claiming that he is assuming the distinction between natural righteousness and faith-filled righteousness. There is no textual basis whatsoever for saying that Clement is including works of any kind in justification. Indeed, the whole historical context of taking AWAY any grounds for boasting would STRONGLY favor the view that he is excluding ALL works from justification, not just natural righteousness. Therefore, it is you who are reading into Clement what is not there. You are reading into Clement a distinction that you are also reading into Paul.

  8. Bryan Cross said,

    April 30, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Lane, (re: #7)

    My point in commenting was not to prove that St. Clement’s soteriology is Catholic, though I believe it is. I don’t have the time now to make that case here. I only wanted to point out that your argument here having as its conclusion that St. Clement’s doctrine is “hardly what later Romanist theologians would approve, especially on the doctrine of justification” depends on certain premises, among which are the following three: (a) when St. Clement says that we are justified by faith, the sort of faith he refers to is not what would later come to be referred to as fides formata, (b) when St. Clement says that we are not justified by works wrought in holiness of heart, the justification he is talking about is not only initial justification but also ongoing and final justification, and (c) when St. Clement says that we are not justified by works wrought in holiness of heart, the holiness he is referring to is that which believers receive from Christ in this present life, and not a virtuous moral character attained by discipline and practice through man’s natural powers and not through the grace of Christ.

    The problem, however, is that each of these premises begs the question, that is, each presupposes that St. Clement did not hold a Catholic soteriology, and instead held a Protestant soteriology. But that’s just what you’re attempting to show. So your argument is circular. You find what you’re looking for because you start by presupposing it.

    I understand that you think that the Catholic way of understanding St. Clement reads into him what is not there. And if a 50/50 toss-up were all that were needed, then we could each simply choose how we want to read him, and go our separate ways. But, when a party goes out from the Catholic Church, then a 50/50 hermeneutical toss-up, whether from Scripture or from the Church Fathers, is insufficient to justify the departing party’s arguments or positions. If a saint or doctor can be read in such a way that he is in agreement with the teaching of the Church, then that is the default interpretation unless there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. That’s why a question-begging argument that St. Clement’s soteriology was Protestant does not have parity with the Catholic way of understanding him. It wasn’t Luther who excommunicated Pope Leo, but Leo who excommunicated Luther, which shows who went out from whom. (Without ecclesial structure and hierarchy, every party in a split could claim that the other party was the one going out, and the ‘went out from us’ criterion would therefore be worthless.) And that’s why question-begging interpretations of the Fathers that construe the Fathers as holding or supporting uniquely Protestant doctrines do not support or justify Protestant doctrine. If you want to appeal to St. Clement to support Protestant soteriology, you need more than a question-begging argument.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  9. greenbaggins said,

    April 30, 2012 at 9:36 am

    And you, in turn, Bryan, need more than a mere assertion that it is question-begging. I have sought to show from the historical context, from the Scriptural interpretation, and from the words he uses, that he does not understand justification in the way that Trent does. In your last post, you answered not one of the arguments I set forth in #7. In fact, I could claim here that a mere assertion of question-begging without any evidence or arguments to support it is itself question-begging. It’s a mere rhetorical device.

    It is hardly the case that a Protestant would base his entire argument on the basis of how to interpret Clement, as you seem to suppose. The supposed 50-50 toss-up (I’m astounded you granted that ground to me) would only work as a rhetorical device against me if it were true that I was trying to argue the entire Protestant cause from Clement. Take a gander at Calvin’s massive, extensive, and exhaustive knowledge of the early church fathers to get a very good sense that Calvin believed the Protestant position to be the most consistent with the early church fathers as a whole.

  10. Bryan Cross said,

    April 30, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Lane, (re: #9)

    When your interlocutor says that your argument begs the question, the proper response is never to assert that his claim (i.e. that your argument is question-begging) is itself question-begging. Otherwise, he could then do the same in response to your assertion, and that would lead to an infinite regress of assertions of question-begging, rather than convergence on the truth. In rational discourse there are two proper ways to respond when your interlocutor claims that your argument is question-begging. One way is to substantiate, by way of evidence recognized by both parties, the premise(s) he claims are question-begging. The other way to respond is by demonstrating that your argument does not depend on the premise(s) he claims are question-begging. And you do that by showing that even if those disputed premises are false, your conclusion still follows.

    I have listed three premises (in comment #8) that [I am claiming] make your argument question-begging. So, if you want to show that your argument is not question begging, you can either substantiate those three premises by way of evidence we hold in common, or you can show how your conclusion follows even if those three premises are false.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  11. greenbaggins said,

    April 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Bryan, I have substantiated my claims by the evidence I set forth concerning the historical context of the letter, the Scriptural interpretation of Romans 10 and Philippians 3, which showed your assertions to be groundless, and from the words which Clement himself uses. You ahve answered none of these arguments. You have only answered with assertions that my arguments depend on certain premises (and have not shown either a. that my arguments are in fact based on those premises, or b. that I have not proven my case from the arguments I have mentioned above). Therefore, your assertions that my argument is circular are themselves mere assertions, not arguments.

  12. johnbugay said,

    April 30, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Lane — Jason Engwer has discussed the concept of “justification by faith” in 1 Clement extensively, at this link and in other places. He essentially makes the same kinds of arguments you are making here.

    There are more reasons why Roman Catholics would find 1 Clement not to be to their liking. Some reasons why Protestants might not, either. T.F. Torrance, in his The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers, suggested that, though 1 Clement uses verbiage similar to that used by Paul, he generally did not understand the Pauline usage of the word “grace”. Here’s what Torrance says:

    Clement definitely thinks of charis as referring to a gift of God without which the Christian would not be able to attain to love or salvation. But there is little doubt that this is held along with the idea of merit before God; for grace is given to those who perform the commandments of God, and who are worthy. He may use the language of election and justification, but the essentially [classical] Greek idea of the unqualified freedom of choice is a natural axiom in his thoughts, and entails a doctrine of “works” as Paul would have said. In all His dealings with men, God is regarded as merciful; but the ground for the Salvation He gives is double: faith and … [ellipses in original].

    Clement “thinks of God’s mercy as directed only toward the pious” (55)

    Also, Clement pretty much flatly contradicts the writer of Hebrews: “every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified… Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin” (Hebrews 10).

    But here is Clement, using some of the same language as in Hebrews 10 in precisely an opposite sense:

    These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behoves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable to Him. Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.

    Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him. Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned. Those, therefore, who do anything beyond that which is agreeable to His will, are punished with death. You see, brethren, that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed. (1 Clement 40, 41)

    Without going into a thorough analysis of these passages, it’s clear to see that there’s just a different understanding of what Christ’s sacrifice has accomplished, and what it really meant for Him to have “sat down at the right hand of God,” where “there is no longer any offering for sin.”

    There are a lot of sources that talk about 1 Clement, but unfortunately there don’t seem to be any up-to-date commentaries on this.

  13. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 1, 2012 at 8:38 am

    What is interesting, and salutary, about Bryan’s linked article is that it concedes, as JP2 concedes, that justification sola fide has an interpretation admissible to Catholics.

    In other words, while Catholics in general differ from the Reformed on the nature of the faith that justifies, they agree that it is proper to say that “justification is by faith alone.”

    In fact, Bryan goes even further:

    St. Clement is not in this paragraph speaking about growing in righteousness, but about being transferred from the state of sin into which we are born as a result of the sin of the first Adam, to the state of grace and to the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. St. Clement is saying here that justification (in this sense) is not by our own works or by the righteousness we have wrought or by our wisdom or our understanding or our godliness or by works we have done in holiness of heart, but by faith. (B Cross, St. Clement of Rome)

    Note the points of agreement:

    (1) Justification is *not* a matter of growing in righteousness, but about being transferred from a state of sin into a state of grace and adoption.

    (2) And this justification is not by works nor righteousness nor godliness, but by faith.

    While neither Bryan nor I would be ready to sign on to Evangelicals and Catholics together, I would still and all commend him for being willing to move so far towards the Protestant position.

    Here’s the distance still to go:

    * The debate over the nature of saving faith. Both sides agree that there is a living faith and a dead faith, and that only the former justifies.

    Catholics, following Augustine, stipulate that living faith includes a quality of love, caritas, infused into the soul.

    Protestants, also following Augustine, stipulate that living faith includes an element of trust, which receives God’s promises and hence the Spirit: living faith does not include, but results in, God’s grace infused (WLC 77).

    It seems to me that if Catholics could concede that WLC 77 eliminates the concern over antinomianism — specifically Canons 12 and 20 of Trent — then more progress could be made.

    * And of course, the debate over the proper Scriptural definition of justification. Does justification in Scripture comprehend sanctification as the Catholics would have it, or are justification and sanctification two distinct-but-always-cojoined graces, as Calvin and Luther have it?

    I find it interesting that Bryan’s article suggests that Catholics might be willing to move a bit here and admit that justification is about kingdom transfer and not growing in righteousness. If that movement is real, and not a lapse in language, then it suggests that Catholics might also be willing to concede that a man can be righteous in God’s sight without becoming perfectly righteous in nature.

    So Bryan: Would you be willing to say that justification proper entails kingdom transfer without a precondition of righteousness of nature?

    What I have in mind is Trent Chap 7: This disposition, or preparation, is followed by Justification itself, which is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just, and of an enemy a friend, that so he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting.

  14. johnbugay said,

    May 1, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Jeff, I think you are wrong to suggest that these “points of agreement” somehow will lead to what you are calling “progress”. I recall an article written with some distress by the late John Richard Neuhaus in his “Public Square” column entitled Setback in Rome, regarding Rome having squelched some aspect of “progress” regarding the “Joint Declaration” with the Lutherans. And I recall writing somewhere that there will always be “setback in Rome”. Here’s that bold ecumenist, Neuhaus:

    These developments received considerable play in the general media with stories about an “historic agreement” on the chief doctrine that had separated Lutherans and Catholics for almost five hundred years. The reality is somewhat more complicated than that.

    Rome did officially “receive” JD in the sense that it affirmed that very significant progress had been made in removing past misunderstandings, and in moving toward full agreement on what it means to say that the sinner is justified by faith. However, many of the Catholics and Lutherans involved in producing JD are saying—mainly off the record, for the present—that the Roman response is, in the most important respects, a rejection of the declaration. JD proposed that, with the new understandings achieved by the dialogue, the mutual condemnations of the sixteenth century no longer apply, and remaining differences over the doctrine of justification are not church-dividing. The Roman statement does not accept that proposal.

    It would be an understatement to say that the theologians involved in the dialogue, both Lutheran and Catholic, were taken aback by the Roman response. During the process, Rome had indicated problems with aspects of the declaration and, almost up to the last minute, revisions were made to take those concerns into account. The participants in the dialogue thought they had been assured that JD would be approved by Rome. Certainly that was the understanding that informed the LWF’s approval of the declaration. In the immediate aftermath of the statement by CDF and CCU, the mood among dialogue participants was bitter and despondent. One Lutheran pioneer of the dialogue declared that the theologians, both Lutheran and Catholic, had been “betrayed” by Rome. For decades to come, he predicted, it would be impossible to reestablish confidence in any theological dialogue with the Catholic Church.

    The reasons for this are many. First, even though you might come to some small agreement with Bryan, (a) he is not an official representative, and the hierarchy won’t consider them bound by anything he “agrees” to, and (b) any “agreement” with Rome is no good except for you swallow the whole Roman ball of wax. I wrote about it in this blog post, and more recently, this post from the Anglican Contiuum blog, “Baitticum and Switchorum”, regarding the Roman initiative “Anglicanorum Coetibus” which offers Anglicans the opportunity, sort of, to become Roman Catholics while retaining their identity as Anglicans. Except, as this Anglican writer noted (and has written extensively about), no matter what overtures are made, you accept Rome on Rome’s terms. If Rome leads you to think you can make nice with Rome on any terms other than Rome’s, it is offering you a bait and switch. [But that's ok, because dishonesty in the service of Mother Rome is acceptable.]

    You seem to be proceeding, unaware of these types of warnings.

    In reality, I do not believe you should be negotiating with Roman Catholics in any way. Looking for “areas of agreement” is not in any way going to solve the problem addressed by the Reformation. If you like Bryan and want to play golf with him, by all means you should do that. But you should also understand that not only is he an apostate, he is the worst kind of apostate, encouraging other apostates. One might appreciate your efforts to be friendly, but it seems to me that your efforts to try to somehow “find agreement” with Rome, while still trying to retain some semblance of a Reformational posture, is naive at best.

  15. johnbugay said,

    May 1, 2012 at 10:24 am

    And in any event, from my comments in #12, I do not think that 1 Clement should be an acceptable starting point. There’s just too many other things with this letter that must be understood before one can start talking about his view of justification.

  16. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 1, 2012 at 10:36 am

    John, I appreciate the warnings. Our eyes should be open wrt RC theology and how far agreement can go,

    Still and all: being a broken branch is different from having never been a branch at all. God values His church, and progress will come as the Spirit brings conviction.

    Your analysis assumes that God will never bring about repentance; mine assumes that affirming Scriptural truths lays a groundwork for repentance.

    (Also, asserting areas of agreement is not the same as conceding ground.)

  17. johnbugay said,

    May 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Jeff, don’t get me wrong. I have watched many of the threads recently in which you’ve interacted with Bryan, and I hope you’ll continue to do so. But there are a couple of things. What you see as “areas of agreement” cannot possibly be that given the “seamless garment” nature of Roman Catholic doctrine. You are not going to find a thread that you can pull on and unravel that garment. If you think I’m wrong, by all means continue to follow up with your efforts, and see where they get you.

    But while Bryan is not actively deceiving the folks here, there is no question his intention is to do so, and in any event, his web efforts are doing great harm to Reformed Christians in our day, in real life.

    There is a saying, and I don’t know where it came from, but it says, “to the unrepentant, preach the law, to the repentant, preach the gospel”. If you think Bryan is repentant, or on the verge of it, it would be good to see some evidence of that. But if he is parroting Rome’s entire posture — and he seems intent on doing that, then it just seems likely that you are banging your head in the same fashion that the hopeful crafters of the “Joint Declaration” were doing.

  18. TurretinFan said,

    May 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Lane:

    I’m glad you’ve highlighted this point. The author of 1 Clement (whether Clement is the author or the scribe is an open question) does clearly indicate that justification is by faith alone, and by faith to the exclusion of works of holiness.

    The contemporary Roman response to this (and Bryan’s response is illustrative of this category) is the same as their response to Paul’s similar clear teaching to the Romans (the ancient Romans) and the Galatians. That response is to attempt to divide justification up into parts, suggesting that initial justification could be by faith alone in some sense, while suggesting that final justification is by faith and works.

    There are major and minor problems associated with this response. First, neither Paul nor the author of 1 Clement make this distinction. Second, Paul in Galatians denies this tactic: “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)

    Next, notice that in their responses, Rome’s advocates invariably go to places where the author doesn’t mention justification. Bryan, to take an example, goes to Romans 5:5 and 1 Clement 12, 49, 50, 10 and 31, none of which mention justification.

    The author of Clement does actually refer to the word justification in another place, and one in which he speaks about justification by works. The naive reader may be wondering whether Bryan has just overlooked this passage. No, there’s a good reason that Bryan does not go there. In that place, the author is using the term justification the way James does:

    Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. “For God,” saith [the Scripture], “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words. For [the Scripture] saith, “He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous? Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking.” Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him.

    (1 Clement 30)

    I’ve presented a more complete response to Bryan’s points over at my blog to be thorough:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2012/05/clement-of-rome-and-bryan-cross.html

    To hit one other key deficiency in Bryan’s argument, Bryan’s argument relies on a mis-framing of the real question. The real question is not whether the author of 1 Clement viewed love as a virtue or as good works. After all, while Trent did argue that Faith must be accompanied by both Love and Hope (Chapter VII), Trent also positively stated that men are justified through the works that they do:
    Chapter X:

    Having, therefore, been thus justified, and made the friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day; that is, by mortifying the members of their own flesh, and by presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified, as it is written; He that is just, let him be justified still; and again, Be not afraid to be justified even to death; and also, Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. And this increase of justification holy Church begs, when she prays, “Give unto us, O Lord, increase of faith, hope, and charity.”

    And this doctrine predicated on an erroneous understanding of James’ epistle is irreformably made part of Rome’s dogma in at least two canons:
    On Justification:
    CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.
    CANON XXXII.-If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

    What Rome anathematizes, we embrace – for it is the apostolic teaching of justification by faith alone apart from works. That’s the real question – not the question of whether love is properly a virtue.

    - TurretinFan

  19. TurretinFan said,

    May 1, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I just submitted a comment and fear the link in it may have triggered a spam filter. I could resubmit it, but that might just make things worse.

  20. Joshua WD Smith said,

    May 1, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Jeff, re # 13:

    I think you’re too optimistic. Unfortunately, the Reformed have not always well understood the Catholic position on justification. As far back as Thomas, justification was understood to be instantaneous (I IIa 113, art. 7). So, the difference has never been about growing or not, but about the nature of the instantaneous transfer: is it imputation or infusion?

  21. Joshua WD Smith said,

    May 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    One of the central problems is that the definition of justification is different. The Catholic definition is a transformative one, while the Reformed definition is a purely forensic one. That allows the Reformed to distinguish justification and sanctification, while Rome doesn’t. Rome simply isn’t all that interested, as far as I can see, in forensic questions.

  22. Joshua WD Smith said,

    May 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    By the way, I don’t agree with the following claims about the Reformed doctrine:

    “Love is a (logically, not temporally) consequent accompaniment, not a constituent of faith.”

    “living faith does not include, but results in, God’s grace infused (WLC 77).”

    Here’s why:

    WCF 11.2: “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.” Notice that last antithesis: not dead, but works by love. That means that “working by love” faith is the contrary of dead faith, meaning that “living” means “working by love.” That means that “working by love” is actually a material constituent of faith, even when faith is considered in the act of justification. Otherwise, if love is logically consequent, then faith is in fact logically dead in justification.

    As for infusion, grace, if it is meant as a substantive change in nature, is initially infused in effectual calling, which logically precedes justification.

  23. Joshua WD Smith said,

    May 1, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    As far as I can tell, here’s the terminological difficulty:

    By “justification,” Thomas means “a certain movement whereby the human mind is moved by God from the state of sin to the state of justice.” (I/II 113 art. 5) A “state of justice” is “a certain rectitude of order in the interior disposition of a man, in so far as what is highest in man is subject to God, and the inferior powers of the soul are subject to the superior, i.e. to the reason…” (cf. I 95 art. 1)

    But this is not what the Reformed mean. Instead, it looks like the Reformed call “effectual calling” what Thomas calls “justification.”

    “to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.” (WCF 10.1)

    Notice especially “determining them toward what is good,” compared with Thomas’ definition of the “state of justice.”

    Thomas furthermore goes on to discuss the role of the will, as moved by infused grace (art. 3), which again sounds more like effectual calling (cf. the last clause cited).

    What the Reformed call “justification” is only a part of what Thomas is talking about:

    “pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous” (WCF 11.1)

    “There are four things which are accounted to be necessary for the justification of the ungodly, viz. the infusion of grace, the movement of the free-will towards God by faith, the movement of the free-will towards sin, and the remission of sins.” (I/II 113 art. 6)

    But it’s not as simple as that. Thomas also refers to “the transmutation whereby anyone is changed BY the remission of sins (per remissionem peccati) from the state of ungodliness to the state of justice…” (art. 1) Here is seems as though the transmutation which is justification is accomplished by means of remission of sin…but remission of sin is later said to be final logical step (not temporal–all four are instantaneous) in this transmission.

    But there are even seeds of the Reformed distintion in Thomas: e.g., in Rep. to Obj. 3 of art. 1, he says: “Being called refers to God’s help moving and exciting our mind to give up sin, and this motion of God is not the remission of sins, but its cause. ” But he doesn’t treat this call distinctly from remission, which means he’s collapsing a cause (“God’s moving & exciting our mind”) and an effect (“remission of sin”) into the same term (“justification”).

  24. Joshua WD Smith said,

    May 1, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    So, here we have (in logical sequence, not temporal):

    Thomas’ ordo:
    1. infusion of grace
    2. movement of the will toward God (also defined as “faith,” art. 4)
    3. movement of the will toward sin (i.e., rejecting sin)
    4. remission of sin

    Reformed ordo:
    1. effectual calling (=1 & 2 of Thomas’)
    2. faith
    3. repentance
    4. justification

    Notice the confusion: Thomas includes in “justification” FOUR elements that the Reformed treat distinctly. I actually think that the Reformed distinctions help to clear up what Thomas leaves unfortunately ambiguous, which makes the Reformed perspective a good development of the Thomistic one. Of course, I would think that.

  25. Joshua WD Smith said,

    May 1, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Maybe we need a thread on Thomas! I appear to have hijacked this one pretty well. My apologies. Here’s my contribution on Clement, though:

    There is no way Clement is talking about some kind of “natural holiness.”

    In Cap. 26, he refers to those being granted the resurrection who “served him in holiness” (οσιως). Clearly, this term is applied to those in Christ, being connected with faith and resurrection. In Cap. 29, he begins to discuss what it means to be holy, referring first of all to “holiness of soul,” (οσιοητι ψυχης, very similar to οσιοητι καρδιας in Cap. 32) in which we approach God. He goes on to say that this is due to our being made a “chosen portion” by God for Himself. He then goes on in Cap. 30 to say that, since we are a portion of one who is holy (variants are “a holy portion” or “a portion of the holy ones”), we should do “all the [things] of holiness/sanctification” (τα του αγιασμου παντα). In context, then, “holiness” refers to belonging to God, not to any consideration of righteousness apart from God.

  26. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Joshua, (re: #25)

    I agree that in those other places St. Clement is talking about the holiness that comes through faith. But that does not entail that in c. 32 he is talking about the holiness that comes through faith. In the immediate context of c. 32, the parallel he is making is to the patriarchs, who were honored and made great “not for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought.” [οὐ δι’ αὐτῶν ἢ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῶν ἢ τῆς δικαιοπραγίας ἧς κατειργάσαντο]. He follows this immediately with the line in question, namely, that we too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not of ourselves justified, … nor by the works which we have worked in holiness of heart.” [οὐ δι’ ἑαυτῶν δικαιούμεθα, οὐδὲ διὰ τῆς ἔργων ὧν κατειργασάμεθα ἐν ὁσιότητι καρδίας] By this parallel he implies that just as the gifts given to the patriarchs in the Old Covenant were not on the basis of the patriarchs’ own righteousness, so in the New Covenant, while we were yet unregenerate the works we did in any holiness of heart we might have had from ourselves were not the basis for our justification.

    However, even if in this line of c. 32 he were talking about the holiness that comes through faith, his statement there would still be fully compatible with Trent and subsequent Catholic teaching, because these do not teach that our justification, i.e. our translation from the state of sin to the state of grace, takes place by works done in holiness of heart. The very idea of a translation from the state of sin to the state of grace by way of works done in holiness of heart, doesn’t even make sense, given that the holiness in question is that which we have by grace. The person in a state of sin does not have sanctifying grace and therefore does not have the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. But the person who has such holiness, has already been translated to a state of grace. So the notion of a translation from the state of sin to the state of grace by way of works done in holiness of heart (where the holiness in question is that which we have by grace) is incoherent.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  27. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 9:37 am

    However, even if in this line of c. 32 he were talking about the holiness that comes through faith, his statement there would still be fully compatible with Trent and subsequent Catholic teaching, because these do not teach that our justification, i.e. our translation from the state of sin to the state of grace, takes place by works done in holiness of heart.

    1. Note: (a) Trent does not limit justification to a translation from a state of sin to a state of grace; and (b) the author of 1 Clement also does not provide such a limitation.

    2. Moreover, while Trent demands that justification includes works, the author of 1 Clement (like the Apostle Paul) demands that justification does not include works.

    So, the alleged compatibility is only fictitious.

    -TurretinFan

  28. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 9:56 am

    TF, (re: #27)

    So, the alleged compatibility is only fictitious.

    That conclusion does not follow from from the premises, because your argument necessarily depends upon another argument included within it implicitly (i.e. if St. Clement does not explicitly state that he is only talking about initial justification, then he is not only talking about initial justification, but also about ongoing and final justification.) And this argument commits the fallacy of the argument from silence, which is a form of non sequitur.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  29. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Bryan:

    The fictitious compatibility has been demonstrated on two grounds:

    1) That you aren’t using the term Justification as Trent does; and
    2) That the author of Clement doesn’t use the term Justification as you do.

    Your allegation of fallacy depends on you inserting premises into my argument that I didn’t use, calling them implicit, and then accusing me of fallacy for using them. That’s not a valid rebuttal.

    In order for 1 Clement’s comment about Justification to be compatible with the particular part of Roman teaching you’ve identified, it would be necessary for 1 Clement to be using the term “Justification” to refer only to the thing you call “initial justification.” However, you have provided no reasonable basis for thinking 1 Clement uses the term “Justification” this way. So, there is no reasonable basis for thinking that 1 Clement is compatible with Roman teaching. Therefore, as I said, the alleged compatibility is only fictitious.

    - TurretinFan

  30. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Jeff, (re: #13)

    I find it interesting that Bryan’s article suggests that Catholics might be willing to move a bit here and admit that justification is about kingdom transfer and not growing in righteousness.

    In Catholic doctrine there is a distinction between (a) justification in the sense of translation from the state of sin to the state of grace, and (b) justification in the sense of growing in righteousness, by growing in grace and agape. For clarity we can call the former justification-as-translation, and the latter justification-as-increase. Trent 6.4 is talking about justification-as-translation. Chapters 4-9 of Session 6 are about justification-as-translation. Chapter 10 of Session 6 is about justification-as-increase.

    So Bryan: Would you be willing to say that justification proper entails kingdom transfer without a precondition of righteousness of nature?

    In Catholic doctrine justification-as-translation has no precondition of righteousness. A person needs justification-as-translation precisely because he is not righteousness. But he must repent in order to receive the sacrament of baptism from the Church. As a rule, the Church does not baptize persons who refuse to repent (I’m obviously referring to persons who have attained the age of reason). But repentance does not make a person righteous; otherwise, not only would Pelagianism be true, but baptism wouldn’t even be necessary following repentance. And Trent 6.5-7 is referring to repentance as preparation for baptism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  31. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    TF, (re: #29)

    Your allegation of fallacy depends on you inserting premises into my argument that I didn’t use, calling them implicit, and then accusing me of fallacy for using them. That’s not a valid rebuttal.

    Actually it is. When someone claims that your argument depends upon a hidden premise x, the way to respond is not to assert that that’s not valid rebuttal. Otherwise arguments that do depend on hidden premises could never be refuted. Rather, the proper response to such an objection is to show how even if that [alleged] hidden premise is false, your conclusion still follows. And in that way you demonstrate that your argument does not depend on that hidden premise.

    However, you have provided no reasonable basis for thinking 1 Clement uses the term “Justification” this way. So, there is no reasonable basis for thinking that 1 Clement is compatible with Roman teaching.

    This too is a non sequitur. Even supposing that I haven’t provided x, it does not follow that there is no x.

    I have explained in #8 why, if you want to try to use St. Clement to oppose the doctrine of the Catholic Church, you have the burden of proof of demonstrating (in this case) that by the term ‘justified’ in c. 32 he could not have been referring only to initial justification (or justification-as-translation). That’s why the Catholic doesn’t have the burden of proof here, to demonstrate that by ‘justification’ in c. 32 he meant more than initial justification. You have the burden of proof, but you haven’t proved that by ‘justification’ in c. 32 he meant more than initial justification.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  32. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    To add to/modify what Bryan said, Jeff:

    a) In Trent’s view, the new birth is the event of justification (On Justification, Ch. 3)

    b) Moreover, Trent argues that “justification of the impious” is translation and that this “translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” (On Justification, Ch. 3-4)

    c) Trent goes on to explain that the beginnings of this justification being described in adults comes from prevenient grace and cooperation with that grace. (On Justification, Ch. 5)

    d) Trent further explains, that “… when, understanding themselves to be sinners, they, by turning themselves, from the fear of divine justice whereby they are profitably agitated, to consider the mercy of God, are raised unto hope, confiding that God will be propitious to them for Christ’s sake; and they begin to love Him as the fountain of all justice; and are therefore moved against sins by a certain hatred and detestation, to wit, by that penitence which must be performed before baptism: lastly, when they purpose to receive baptism, to begin a new life, and to keep the commandments of God. … This disposition, or preparation, is followed by Justification itself, which is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just, and of an enemy a friend, that so he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting.” (On Justification, Ch. 6-7)

    So, notice that all this faith hope and even love are the preparation that leads to justification, and that justification includes remission of sins, sanctification, and inward renewal.

    e) Trent also explains: “Of this Justification the causes are these: the final cause … ; while the efficient cause …; but the meritorious cause is …; the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified; lastly, the alone formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation.” (On Justification, Ch. 7)

    Notice that the instrumental cause is the sacrament, not faith, and the formal causes is not imputation but actual righteousness.

    Which explains this:

    CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

    And likewise this:

    CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.

    But most of all this:

    CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

    -TurretinFan

  33. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Bryan:

    I wrote:

    Your allegation of fallacy depends on you inserting premises into my argument that I didn’t use, calling them implicit, and then accusing me of fallacy for using them. That’s not a valid rebuttal.

    You replied:

    Actually it is. When someone claims that your argument depends upon a hidden premise x, the way to respond is not to assert that that’s not valid rebuttal. Otherwise arguments that do depend on hidden premises could never be refuted. Rather, the proper response to such an objection is to show how even if that [alleged] hidden premise is false, your conclusion still follows. And in that way you demonstrate that your argument does not depend on that hidden premise.

    a) Actually, it isn’t.
    b) I have freedom in how I deal with people who put words in my mouth, as your response did.
    c) Your argument wasn’t a demonstration that an alleged hidden premise was false. So, even though the mode you mentioned is one option I have for dealing with people who put words in my mouth, it wouldn’t be the most appropriate one.
    d) Your argument about the hidden premise was that it engaged in formal fallacy (namely about its status as a conclusion from other prior premises). But formal fallacies depend on form, and the form is entirely from you, whether or not any premises were hidden.
    e) Arguments that actually depend on hidden premises can be rebutted in a variety of ways that don’t involve imposing formal fallacies on the other side.

    So, no. When my opponent puts a formal fallacy in my mouth, I don’t have to accept it, I can point out his tactic and note that it wasn’t my argument.

    I wrote:

    However, you have provided no reasonable basis for thinking 1 Clement uses the term “Justification” this way. So, there is no reasonable basis for thinking that 1 Clement is compatible with Roman teaching.

    You answer:

    This too is a non sequitur. Even supposing that I haven’t provided x, it does not follow that there is no x.

    You’re wrong (again). You’ve mistaken an argument from evidence (an inferential argument) for a logical deduction. In fact, there isn’t any X. The evidence of that is that you haven’t provided it. It’s true that inference “doesn’t follow” in the sense of logical deduction, but the argument wasn’t that it logically follows.

    The remainder of your comments are premised on that same faulty foundation, namely that we have some kind of bizarre burden of proving by logical deduction that the author of 1 Clement didn’t mean something.

    That’s simply not the way that historical analysis of written documents works. We can conclude inconsistency on a far lower standard of (a) there is a conflict on its face; and (b) there is no reason to suppose that the conflict is resolvable.

    And that’s the case here. There’s a conflict on the face of things, and there is no reasons from 1 Clement to suppose that the author intended “justification” by “faith” to mean “initial entrance into justification by baptism” (or any roundabout way of characterizing Trent’s doctrine that is actually consistent with what Trent says).

    It’s not really a rebuttal to that to point out that it’s not a logical deduction, since it does not purport to be a logical deduction. It purports to be an inferential argument from the evidence.

    -TurretinFan

  34. jedpaschall said,

    May 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Tfan,

    Forgive a little bit of an aside, but here is something I have observed with yours, Jeff’s, and others interactions with the Romanists in these discussions:

    CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

    And from here forward, Rome lost her keys and hasn’t been able to find them since – without the anathemas she simply would have been in (grave) error, with them she has outright rejected the gospel that Luther, Calvin, et. al. sought to bring back to the doctrinal forefront within the structure of the Roman church. The gospel remains anathematized to this day, yet we read so many stories of our Reformed brothers succumbing to the allure of Rome – when the faithful denominations within Reformed Protestantism, with all her many problems, still has not abandoned the gospel.

    When a man truly understands, even in some small way, how sinful he is, and how he is alienated from God at the core of his being, the gospel according to Rome is of no comfort. Even after conversion, his hope rests in his ability to persevere in the faith, in a sense to follow the rules that Rome has laid forth, much of which cannot be found in Scripture, rather in the authority of tradition, again hopeless for men who are by nature weak. In order to join the Roman church, one must not only surrender the gospel, but the sole authority of Scripture where the gospel is clearly taught.

  35. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    TF,

    For the sake of clarity, would you please lay out with numbered premises your argument showing that St. Clement is incompatible with Trent. Thanks.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  36. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Rather than simply stick numbers next to all the evidence and arguments provided so far, here’s a very simplified version:

    1. The author of 1 Clement states: “we … are not justified by … works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men … .” (I provide a much fuller exposition at the link above, of course.)

    2. Trent states: “… they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified … .” (This point is rather oversimplified – I’d be happy to expand on this point a lot more if need be.)

    3. In 1 Clement “works which we have wrought in holiness of heart” refers to observance of the commandments of God, which is at least a sub-set of what Trent means by “good works.”

    Conclusion (A):

    Therefore, on their face, Trent and 1 Clement contradict one another, since 1 Clement excludes works, and Trent includes works, in justification.

    4. Facial contradiction is evidence of actual contradiction.

    Further Conclusion (B):

    We infer (not logically deduce) that Trent and 1 Clement actually contradict.

    For the sake of clarity, do you agree with premises 1-4?
    Do you also agree with Conclusions A-B?

    -TurretinFan

  37. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    TF, (re: #36)

    Ok, thanks. Here’s what I notice first, when looking at that argument. A statement about yourself in no way follows from statements about Trent and St. Clement. So (B) is problematic. What you need is something like this:

    (B’) It is likely that Trent and 1 Clement actually contradict.

    or

    (B”) Trent and 1 Clement actually contradict.

    I have a couple more things to say about the argument, but perhaps you could clarify (B) first.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  38. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I’m waiting for your clarification first, since I asked you first, Bryan. If the answer is that you agree with everything except that you are unclear on (B), I’ll be happy to provide clarity and help you understand (B) better.

  39. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    TF, (re: #38)

    As it stands, the argument is unsound, because a statement about yourself in no way follows from statements about Trent and 1 Clement.

    So, you have not yet shown that Trent and 1 Clement are incompatible.

    If you choose to make repairing your argument contingent on my saying x, then I’ll just refuse to say x, so that your argument remains in disrepair, and I can rest my case.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  40. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I didn’t ask you whether you think my argument is sound.

    Did you not understand my question? Or are you being intentionally evasive? (Is there some third option?)

    My question was:

    For the sake of clarity, do you agree with premises 1-4?
    Do you also agree with Conclusions A-B?

    I’m satisfied if you answer that, unless you really are not clear what “do you agree with premises 1-4″ and “do you also agree with Conclusions A-B” means.

    -TurretinFan

  41. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I should point out that it appears presumptuous of you to render judgment on the soundness of an argument with respect to a term that is unclear to you.

  42. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    While we wait to see whether you will provide clarity about whether you accept the premises or the conclusions, I’ll extend an olive branch in the hopes that it will yield the fruit of non-evasion.

    I earlier used the sentence: “We infer (not logically deduce) that Trent and 1 Clement actually contradict,”

    That sentence serves two purposes. First, in the main clause, the sentence explains the relationship between the conclusion and the premises (the relationship is inference, not deduction). Second, in the subordinate clause, the sentence identifies the conclusion inferred from the premises.

    I realize that this may be a bit hard to work out, if English isn’t your first language, and that I shouldn’t make any assumptions since I don’t know your language background.

    Let me add one additional point, when I asked if you agree with B, earlier, I suppose you could take that two ways: either that you agree with the sentence as written, or you agree with the subordinate clause. I just meant that you agree with the sentence as written.

    Hopefully, that eliminates any of the murk of obscurity cast on this discussion by my use of a sentence in which the conclusion of the argument is hidden within a subordinate clause.

    Can you now answer the question:

    For the sake of clarity, do you agree with premises 1-4?
    Do you also agree with Conclusions A-B?

    -TurretinFan

  43. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    TF,

    The subject of the sentence in (B) in comment #36 is “We,” and the predicate of that sentence is what you do (i.e.”infer”). But nothing about yourself follows from statements about Trent and 1 Clement. So as it stands, if (B) is supposed to be the conclusion of your argument, then your argument is unsound, because the conclusion [i.e. (B)] in no way follows from the premises. If (B) is not part of your argument, then you have not provided an argument having as its conclusion either that Trent actually contradicts 1 Clement, or that it is likely that Trent actually contradicts 1 Clement. Either way, you have not yet shown that Trent is incompatible with 1 Clement.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  44. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Your #43 is just a lame repetition of your your #39, which is already answered in ##40-42. I call “troll.”

    -TurretinFan

  45. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Let me expand on that “troll” designation. It’s justified two ways.

    1) You’ve been asked a clarifying question repeatedly, and you chose to evade the question repeatedly. That, by the way, is the same behavior we observed in the previous thread where you were asked many times to define “communion.” There, I assumed that perhaps you were simply too overwhelmed by having to answer questions from numerous disputants.

    2) You’re characterizing and criticizing my argument on grounds that amount to nothing more than sophistry. It strains credulity to think that you sincerely believe that your position “A statement about yourself in no way follows from statements about Trent and St. Clement” and “nothing about yourself follows from statements about Trent and 1 Clement” is actually inconsistent with my argument.

    Do you really imagine someone at the other end of the dialog scratching his head and saying, “Oh shucks, I thought that statements about myself do follow from statements about Trent?”

    You can tell, and so can everyone else, that I wrote this: “We infer (not logically deduce) that Trent and 1 Clement actually contradict.” They and you can tell from that sentence that the conclusion to the argument is that Trent and 1 Clement actually contradict, and that we arrive at that conclusion by induction not deduction.

    Now, perhaps if you are not good at English, we could excuse you making that mistake once. But after it is already explained to you at #42, there’s really no excuse for this kind of sophistry to persist.

    So, that’s the reason for the designation.

    - TurretinFan

  46. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    TF, (re: #45)

    the conclusion to the argument is that Trent and 1 Clement actually contradict,

    Ok, “Trent and 1 Clement actually contradict” is the conclusion of your argument. So here’s your argument from #36, cleaned up a bit:

    1. 1 Clement states: “we … are not justified by … works … but by that faith …”
    2. Trent states: “… they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, … increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified … .”
    3. In 1 Clement “works which we have wrought in holiness of heart” refers to observance of the commandments of God, which is at least a sub-set of what Trent means by “good works.”
    (3.5) On their face, Trent and 1 Clement contradict one another, since 1 Clement excludes works from justification, and Trent includes works in justification. [(1), (2), (3)]
    4. Facial contradiction is evidence of actual contradiction.
    5. Trent and 1 Clement actually contradict. [(3.5), (4)]

    That’s a deductive argument, not an inductive argument. One problem with the argument is that if in (4) by x ‘is evidence of’ y you mean something that includes the notion that the truth of x is sufficient to show the truth of y, then (4) is false, in which case the argument is unsound. But if in (4) by x ‘is evidence of’ y you mean something that does not include the notion that the truth of x is sufficient to show the truth of y, then the conclusion (5) does not follow from the premises. Either way, the argument fails. It fails for the same reason that a prima facie appearance of a contradiction in the Bible does not entail the conclusion that the Bible actually contradicts itself. Merely showing a prima facie contradiction is insufficient to show an actual contradiction.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  47. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    “That’s a deductive argument, not an inductive argument. ”

    It’s not my argument that you’re dealing with.

    My argument is not that 5 is deduced from previous premises. I think I said that around half a dozen times. You’ve simply done the same thing you did before, which is to mischaracterize my argument and then argue against the mischaracterization.

    Specifically, the fact that 5 does not follow (in terms of logical deduction) from the 3.5 and 4, is fully consistent with the argument I presented.

    -TurretinFan

  48. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Separately, let me address your assertion:

    “Merely showing a prima facie contradiction is insufficient to show an actual contradiction.”

    That statement has to be qualified. Merely showing a prima facia contradiction can be sufficient to show an actual contradiction, where sufficiency is sufficiency of persuasion. It can be sufficient, for example, in the absence of an off-setting consideration.

    Specifically, showing a prima facia contradiction shifts the burden of persuasion onto the side advocating for non-contradiction. That, in this case, is your side. When, as here, you can’t, don’t, or won’t provide something that offsets that, showing a prima facie contradiction is enough to carry the day.

    In the case of apparent Biblical contradictions, we have for thousands of years provided reasonable resolutions to the apparent contradictions. Of course, we also have another offsetting reason in the form of Biblical inerrancy, but that’s a basis that’s not applicable here.

    In other words, contradiction on the face of things does not automatically prove actual contradiction (it’s not “sufficient” in the sense that it always entails the conclusion) but it can be enough to demonstrate actual contradiction, in the absence of a good reason to think that the contradiction is not merely on the face of things.

    -TurretinFan

  49. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    My last line has too many negatives, and I think I tangled myself up in them. I wrote: “… in the absence of a good reason to think that the contradiction is not merely on the face of things.”

    What I should have said was “unless there is some good reason to think that the contradiction is merely on the face of things.”

    My apologies.

    -TurretinFan

  50. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    TF,

    Merely putting the label ‘inductive’ on an unsound deductive argument doesn’t make it into an inductive argument, let alone a cogent argument. In order to make it into an inductive argument, you would need to qualify the conclusion to a likelihood. That was one option I proposed in #37, which you rejected in #45.

    As a likelihood argument, the truth of premise (4) has not been established. In addition, whether what appears prima facie contradictory to a person is in more than 50% of the cases actually a contradiction or is in more than 50% of the cases actually a failure to understand their coherence (a) depends on the person, (b) depends on the subject matter, and (c) depends on the person’s level of familiarity with the subject matter, and (d) depends on the person’s relation to the subject matter, whether as something known from within (e.g. as a member of that community) or from without (as someone who has studied the tradition of that community but only as an observer). The notion that at least 51% of all cases of prima facie contradiction experiences are encounters with actual contradictions, is something that has not been established. But that’s what is needed to establish premise (4), if the conclusion of your argument is only that it is likely that Trent and 1 Clement contradict.

    As for showing how Trent and 1 Clement do not contradict, I have already done that in the comments above. The passage from Trent is talking about justification-as-increase (i.e. growth in justification), whereas 1 Clement is talking about initial justification (i.e. justification-as-transfer). So there is no contradiction, because they are not talking about the same thing.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  51. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Bryan:

    I’ve told you numerous times there is no allegation that the conclusion is logically deduced from the premises. You just keep repeating your false assertion that it is an unsound deductive argument.

    Your paragraph about percentages and likelihoods likewise does not seem to have any direct tie to an argument I’ve made. My argument does not depend on it being true that “what appears prima facie contradictory to a person is in more than 50% of the cases actually a contradiction.”

    Rather my argument is that what is prima facie true should be accepted as true, in the absence of a reason to deny its truth. One reason to accept that argument would be if things appeared to be what they are more often than not. But my argument does not depend on that being the case. If your position is that we should not accept as true what is prima facie true, in the absence of a reason to deny its truth, you are on strange ground indeed.

    “As for showing how Trent and 1 Clement do not contradict, I have already done that in the comments above.”

    No you haven’t. What you’ve done is assert this:

    “The passage from Trent is talking about justification-as-increase (i.e. growth in justification), whereas 1 Clement is talking about initial justification (i.e. justification-as-transfer). So there is no contradiction, because they are not talking about the same thing.”

    However, for the reasons I’ve given above and in more detail on my blog, we don’t have a good reason to accept this proposed reconciliation.

    If you want to persuade us that what appears to be a contradiction is not actually a contradiction on this basis, you have to actually give us a good reason to think that the author of 1 Clement had in mind initial justification.

    But you haven’t given us a good reason to think that.

    That issue, however, whether what the author of 1 Clement meant was “initial justification,” is the point you need to establish in order to rebut the prima facie case of contradiction. (Of course, you could rebut by establishing any other reason as a good reason, you’re not limited to this one approach. But you have to give us some good reason, not just a speculation.)

    -TurreitnFan

  52. TurretinFan said,

    May 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Since you like deductive arguments, here’s one.

    1) If it is true that in this case there is no good reason to think otherwise, then it is true that in this case we should accept that appearance corresponds to reality.

    2) If it is true in this case that we should accept that appearance corresponds to reality, it is true in this case we should accept Trent contradicts 1 Clement.

    3) It is true that in this case there is no good reason to think otherwise.

    Therefore

    4) It is true that in this case we should accept that Trent contradicts 1 Clement.

    To see the validity of the argument:

    1) If A is true, then B is true.
    2) If B is true, then C is true.
    3) A is true.
    Therefore
    4) C is true.

    where:
    A = in this case there is no good reason to think otherwise
    B = in this case we should accept that appearance corresponds to reality
    C = in this case we should accept that Trent contradicts 1 Clement

    Now, one would think that the crux of the debate is over (3), i.e. whether there is a good reason to think otherwise, not over (1), which describes the step of inference involved in the non-deductive argument outlined above.

    - TurretinFan

  53. Bryan Cross said,

    May 2, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    TF, (re: #51)

    Rather my argument is that what is prima facie true should be accepted as true, in the absence of a reason to deny its truth.

    From a Catholic point of view, we never assume as part of our theological methodology that a prima facie contradiction within the Tradition is an actual contradiction. Out of humility toward the Tradition, we instead assume as a working hypothesis that the appearance of a contradiction is due to our own ignorance or misunderstanding. So from a Catholic point of view, if we have at hand an explanation that integrates the apparently conflicting pieces of evidence, we already have a good reason to accept it rather than conclude that there is an actual contradiction.

    And in this case we have such an explanation. Trent distinguishes between justification-as-translation and justification-as-increase, and the positive role it ascribes to acts of agape pertains only to justification in the latter sense, whereas from a Catholic point of view it is clear from the context of 1 Clement c. 32 that he is talking there only about coming to a state of grace, i.e. justification-as-translation, so that what he says about works there is very much in agreement with Trent. Any Catholic who knows his theology will immediately see this as an explanation, and therefore immediately have a good reason to believe that Trent and 1 Clement are compatible.

    What provides this good reason is faith, faith which denies ecclesial deism, and affirms the authority, unity, and continuity of the Tradition according to our belief in the guidance of the Holy Spirit dwelling faithfully within the Church until Christ returns. Within a Protestant perspective in which ecclesial deism and the discontinuity of the Tradition are presupposed, that good reason is not available. So, this denial on your part, that there is a good reason to believe that Trent and 1 Clement are compatible, presupposes a Protestant paradigm. And for that reason, your claim that Trent contradicts 1 Clement is question-begging (in the sense described in comment #6 here) when it uses this paradigm to construe St. Clement as contradicting Trent. And for the reason I explained in the last paragraph of comment #8 above, question-begging arguments against the Catholic Church don’t even get off the ground, because in a 50/50 doctrinal toss-up between the visible Church and a dissident, the Church gets the presumption of truth, not the person opposing the Church or leaving the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 3, 2012 at 7:30 am

    So then, what would hypothetically count as an actual contradiction?

    This question is crucial, for on the atheist side of things many take a stance of “methodological naturalism” — we will assume that any phenomenon (e.g., the resurrection) has a naturalistic explanation until proven otherwise. And … it turns out that the burden of proof is entirely unreachable. Hence, methodological naturalism becomes ‘pragmatic empirical positivism.’

    Here, you have taken a stance that we shall assume that every apparent contradiction has an explanation. How do you prevent this from becoming Catholic positivism: “theology is true iff. it conforms to Catholic doctrine”?

  55. TurretinFan said,

    May 3, 2012 at 8:21 am

    “From a Catholic point of view, we never assume as part of our theological methodology that a prima facie contradiction within the Tradition is an actual contradiction.”

    No wonder you can never see the actual contradictions! Your methodology precludes it. Even after every rational attempt to harmonize them is addressed, it will still only be proven that it is a prima facie contradiction.

    “Out of humility toward the Tradition, we instead assume as a working hypothesis that the appearance of a contradiction is due to our own ignorance or misunderstanding.”

    It may sound and even feel pious to describe this as humility to “the Tradition,” but this humility isn’t justified. Your own church does not teach that “the Tradition” is free from contradictions. Indeed, councils that your church deems ecumenical have condemned some of the writings of prior bishops, including even at least one bishop of Rome.

    So, your working hypothesis should be that appearance and reality correspond, not that they are at odds for an as-yet-undetermined reason.

    “So from a Catholic point of view, if we have at hand an explanation that integrates the apparently conflicting pieces of evidence, we already have a good reason to accept it rather than conclude that there is an actual contradiction.”

    From a rational point of view, though, that explanation ought to be a warranted explanation, and the warrant needs to be something other than a strong wish to find continuity between a 16th century council and a 1st or 2nd century writing.

    “And in this case we have such an explanation. Trent distinguishes between justification-as-translation and justification-as-increase, and the positive role it ascribes to acts of agape pertains only to justification in the latter sense, whereas from a Catholic point of view it is clear from the context of 1 Clement c. 32 that he is talking there only about coming to a state of grace, i.e. justification-as-translation, so that what he says about works there is very much in agreement with Trent.”

    1) Even if the author of 1 Clement were talking about justification as translation, the author’s description is still not consistent with Trent’s description of justification by baptism and justification on account of real righteousness. In this case, there is initially an apparent harmony because Trent in some places uses the description faith. But when Trent speaks clearly, it makes clear that the instrumental means is baptism and the formal cause is actual righteousness. Whereas the author of 1 Clement is definitely not referring to baptism.

    2) But what you have not established from the context is that 1 Clement is referring to justification in the limited sense you assert. (The rebuttal on this point is already provided above and at my blog.)

    You continued: “What provides this good reason is faith …”

    Again, as noted above, your church doesn’t teach that all the ancient writings are consistent with later defined dogmas.

    One last point: there is nothing distinctly “Protestant” about not assuming a priori that 1 Clement is in harmony with Trent, even in the face of an apparent contradiction. Even many historians of your own church don’t take that approach, and no secular historian would take that approach.

    -TurretinFan

  56. greenbaggins said,

    May 3, 2012 at 8:36 am

    TFan, good points. I would only add that this is why it is so frustrating to argue with the Romanists: their tradition has so many (what I would call contradictory) strands, that if you poke them in one place, they always have a contradictory strand to push at you from some other place. It’s like trying to fence with foam: poke your sword in anywhere, the foam will always close in around it. The Reformed tradition, however, is so much more agreed in its confessional tradition. On points where the Reformed disagree, we happily concede that some of our forefathers were wrong, rather than trying to say that they were all correct. I think it is much more intellectually honest to admit that the tradition has errors than to try to reconcile every cotton-picking church father with later dogma (which is anachronistic anyway, as you have pointed out).

  57. johnbugay said,

    May 3, 2012 at 9:03 am

    It may sound and even feel pious to describe this as humility to “the Tradition,” but this humility isn’t justified. Your own church does not teach that “the Tradition” is free from contradictions. Indeed, councils that your church deems ecumenical have condemned some of the writings of prior bishops, including even at least one bishop of Rome.

    So, your working hypothesis should be that appearance and reality correspond, not that they are at odds for an as-yet-undetermined reason.

    Rome may not demand the kind of wishful thinking that Bryan is espousing here, but it does demand obedience, and if Bryan wants to rationalize things this way, maybe he’s doing it because it’s the only way he can find to be “obedient”. I’m not convinced he is entirely comfortable now in his own skin as a Roman Catholic. Sure, the scholastics had centuries to try and rationalize things, but Bryan is just too smart, and 21st century America just knows too much, to allow Roman Catholicism to stand “as is”. Bryan probably meant well, in becoming Roman Catholic, but you just can’t help running aground.

    That’s what I ran into. I spent about three years in Opus Dei. Yes, I was a devout Catholic. Not necessarily a theologian, but a devout Catholic nevertheless. One thing that I found was, the higher up and closer in you get, the more obedience is demanded, and the more contradictions there were. I made the decision to use the brain that God gave me, to search the Scriptures, and to try to understand what the contradictions were all about. Bryan has evidently made the decision to take the blue pill.

    Without getting too bold with my predictions, it doesn’t seem to me as if Bryan can continue on the path that he is on. He is intelligent enough to find out what Roman Catholicism is really about, but his “method” is genuinely wishful thinking, and he is also intelligent enough to know the things that you gentlemen are saying here. Up next for Bryan, if he is not already there, will be a “dark night of the soul”. And that will be, if he doesn’t break first. That’s always a possibility. I know he may not seem like it at times, but he’s only human.

  58. Bryan Cross said,

    May 3, 2012 at 9:58 am

    TF, (re: #55)

    I wrote:

    “From a Catholic point of view, we never assume as part of our theological methodology that a prima facie contradiction within the Tradition is an actual contradiction.”

    You replied:

    No wonder you can never see the actual contradictions! Your methodology precludes it. Even after every rational attempt to harmonize them is addressed, it will still only be proven that it is a prima facie contradiction.

    You’ve misunderstood what I wrote. There are cases where a defined dogma is contrary to something written previously by a Church Father or doctor. St. Thomas, for example, denied the Immaculate Conception, though it had not yet been defined. So the methodology to which I’m referring does not prevent the acknowledgment of such contradictions. By “assume” I do not mean “conclude.” In response to the prima facie appearance of a contradiction, when an interpretation is available that integrates apparently conflicting pieces of evidence, then out of faith and charity we follow that interpretation rather than unnecessarily concluding that there is an actual contradiction. And such an interpretation is available in the case of St. Clement. The Tridentine bishops were quite aware of 1 Clement, and did not consider, for example, Canon 9 or Canon 24 (of Session 6) to be contrary to St. Clement’s teaching on justification.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  59. Bryan Cross said,

    May 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    TF, (re: #55)

    Even if the author of 1 Clement were talking about justification as translation, the author’s description is still not consistent with Trent’s description of justification by baptism and justification on account of real righteousness.

    The Catholic Church is neither Pelagian nor Montanist. She is not Pelagian, in that, among other things, she teaches that grace and faith are gifts from God. She is not Montanist, in that, among other things, she teaches that the divine gifts of grace and faith come to us through Christ’s Church, and particularly through her sacraments. This is why the ancient rite of baptism begins like this:

    Priest: N., quid petis ab Ecclesia Dei? [What do you ask of the Church of God?]
    Sponsor/Catechumen: Fidem. [Faith.]

    Such a question would make no sense if Montantism were true, because from a Montanist point of view the person wouldn’t be there asking for baptism if he didn’t already have faith, and faith wouldn’t be something he received through baptism. But in Catholic doctrine baptism is the sacrament of faith, that is, the sacrament through which we receive the divine gift of faith as a supernaturally infused virtue. Subsequently in the rite of baptism, after the exorcism, but before the baptism itself, the Catechumen professes the faith of the Church by reciting the Apostles’ Creed. To someone who does not understand Catholic doctrine, it might seem that since the Church teaches that faith comes through baptism, and the Catechumen who has not yet been baptized is asked to profess the faith in the Creed, the Church is asking the Catechumen to do something contrary to the Church’s teaching, i.e. exhibit faith prior to baptism. But the Church distinguishes between an act of faith, and the virtue of faith. Both require grace, but the supernatural virtue of faith comes only through baptism. A Catechumen can make an act of faith without the supernatural virtue of faith, but it is through baptism that he receives sanctifying grace and the supernatural virtue of faith. The immediate fruit of preaching is the act of faith; faith comes by hearing. But this leads to requesting the Church for baptism, in which sacrament the Catechumen receives the supernatural virtue of faith. So in the New Covenant faith is never to be conceived as something divorced from the sacrament of baptism, because it is through baptism that we die with Christ and are raised with Christ, “alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 6) And thus it is through baptism that agape is poured out into our hearts and the Holy Spirit given to us (Rom 5:5). That is why passages such as Rom 10:9-10 are not endorsing “sinner’s prayer” theology, but are rightly understood in a sacramental, and thus ecclesial context. (Even the sending of which St. Paul speaks in Rom 10:15 is not Montanistic, but ecclesial, and so the preaching referred to in Rom 10:14-17 includes the reception of the sacrament of baptism, because that is part of the gospel; salvation is not by gnosis alone.) There is an overwhelming consensus among the Church Fathers concerning baptismal regeneration, as I showed here. And there is no evidence at all that St. Clement as the bishop of the Church at Rome, deviated from that Catholic teaching. So when St. Clement writes about justification by faith within the New Covenant, we should understand him to be talking about the faith that comes through baptism, because St. Clement was neither a Pelagian nor a Montanist, but a Catholic.

    As for justification by “real righteousness,” the notion that justification is by an extra nos imputation is a sixteenth century novelty. None of the Church Fathers taught it. St. Augustine, for example, expresses the patristic notion of justification as the infusion of agape, the writing of the law on the heart “so that they might be justified” (On the Spirit and the Letter, 29), and again, “See how he [i.e. St. Paul] shows that the one is written without [i.e. outside of] man, that it may alarm him from without; the other within man himself, that it may justify him from within.” (On the Spirit and the Letter, 30) And a bit later, “For this writing in the heart is effected by renovation, although it had not been completely blotted out by the old nature. For just as that image of God is renewed in the mind of believers by the new testament, which impiety had not quite abolished (for there had remained undoubtedly that which the soul of man cannot be except it be rational), so also the law of God, which had not been wholly blotted out there by unrighteousness, is certainly written thereon, renewed by grace. Now in the Jews the law which was written on tables could not effect this new inscription, which is justification, but only transgression.” (On the Spirit and the Letter, 48) There St. Augustine explicitly states that justification is the writing of the law on the heart, i.e. the infusion of agape. There are many other such examples (see, for example, “St. Augustine on Law and Grace“). Justification, for St. Augustine and the Fathers is not by extra nos imputation, but by the infusion of grace and agape, which infusion is the writing of the law on the heart. God, who is the Truth, counts us righteous only if we are, by this supernatural gift of grace and agape poured out into our hearts, truly righteous within, and thus have “real righteousness.” This understanding of justification as the infusion of grace and agape into the heart is what we find throughout the Fathers. To assume that by justification St. Clement was talking about extra nos imputation is to read back into St. Clement an idea that was first proposed 1,400 years later.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  60. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    May 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    And Trent wasn’t wrong. How do we know? Because it agrees with fathers like Clement. But it looks like Clement contradicts Trent! We know he didn’t, because Trent didn’t think he did. How do we know Trent is correct? Because it agrees with fathers like Clement.

    As a clear proponent of logic, Cross can no doubt see why we find this so circular.

  61. greenbaggins said,

    May 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Bryan, out of curiosity, have you read Thomas Oden’s Justification Reader?

  62. Bryan Cross said,

    May 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Joshua, (re: #60)

    And Trent wasn’t wrong. How do we know? Because it agrees with fathers like Clement. But it looks like Clement contradicts Trent! We know he didn’t, because Trent didn’t think he did. How do we know Trent is correct? Because it agrees with fathers like Clement.

    That is indeed a circular argument, but one I haven’t made. I haven’t argued here that Trent is right, or that the Fathers are right. I’ve only argued here that Trent and Clement *are not incompatible,* and that the argument having as its conclusion that Trent and 1 Clement are incompatible is a question-begging argument.

    Lane, yes, I’ve read Oden’s Justification Reader. My opinion of it is very much along the lines of Andrew’s.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  63. Sean said,

    May 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    John B.

    # 57.

    Hope you are doing well.

    I don’t want to derail the conversation but something you said needs to be clarified.

    You said, “I spent about three years in Opus Dei.”

    However, on your blog here you say, of your involvement with Opus Dei, “About 15 years ago, I was still a devout Catholic, and attending Evenings of Recollection through Opus Dei…”

    Maybe you are unaware, but there is a difference between ‘in Opus Dei’ and attending Opus Dei sponsored events.

    From the Opus Dei website about membership: “One can be incorporated in the Opus Dei Prelature as an associate, a numerary or a supernumerary. Associates and numeraries commit themselves to celibacy; supernumeraries do not. But all the faithful of the Prelature share the same vocation of spreading the ideal of holiness in the middle of the world. Most members are married, and they strive to follow Jesus Christ by sanctifying their work both in the home and outside, maintaining a youthful love, generously receiving the children God sends them, educating their children well and transmitting the faith to them with their charity and their example. For apostolic motives, some lay men and women embrace celibacy as a gift from God. This enables them to dedicate themselves more to tasks of formation, without any change in their lay condition, their professional situation, or their position within the Church and society.”

    In short, I don’t think you are saying that you were ever a member of Opus Dei. Correct me if I am wrong.

    Generally in Catholic circles if somebody says “I am in Opus Dei” it does not mean that they merely attend Opus Dei events or talk with Opus Dei priests.

  64. johnbugay said,

    May 3, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Sean, thank you for showing off your Google skills. I had been completely ignoring you. Why am I not surprised to find that you are scouring my work for small discrepancies.

    When I’m writing a fairly quick comment for Reformed believers who most likely don’t give a rip about Opus Dei, no, I don’t feel compelled to be overly precise and type in the word “supernumerary”. I was not one of those. You might say I was “faithful” though. But the better part of three years in “evenings of recollection” (one of their main events for the public), private spiritual direction, outside activities, luncheons, etc., gets you pretty close to what they are thinking.

  65. Sean said,

    May 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    John.

    Believe it or not, I am not scouring your work. I do, however, read this blog and the conversations occasionally : ) With our fourth child on the way in five years I don’t have nearly as much time on my hands as previously. And, your reference to ‘Opus Dei’ to boost your street cred just stood out to me because I too have been lately going to ‘evenings of recollection.’

    Pip pip~

  66. TurretinFan said,

    May 4, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Bryan:

    You write: “There are cases where a defined dogma is contrary to something written previously by a Church Father or doctor. St. Thomas, for example, denied the Immaculate Conception, though it had not yet been defined.”

    a) It’s not just St. Thomas, but over a half dozen men who were bishops of Rome, as I’ve demonstrated in my post, “How many popes does it take to deny the Immaculate Conception?”

    b) It’s nice to see you acknowledge discontinuity and/or lack of homogeneity in tradition. But your acknowledgment of this point serves as further evidence of my point that your own church does not insist that any given ancient author, including the author of 1 Clement, is consistent with a council many centuries later, including the council of Trent.

    c) Moreover, I fully agree that there is a difference between “assuming” something and “concluding” something, That distinction, however, demonstrates that your reply to my point wasn’t really a response to my point. Recall that I had said: “Rather my argument is that what is prima facie true should be accepted as true, in the absence of a reason to deny its truth.” I didn’t say anything about assuming. So when you responded: “we never assume as part of our theological methodology that a prima facie contradiction within the Tradition is an actual contradiction,” you were not actually addressing my point (yet again).

    d) One is left wondering the very thing that I think Jeff inquired above. Even after every proposed attempt at harmonization has been shot down, all that is left is the same thing that has been thoroughly provided here: demonstration of apparent contradiction. If the absence of a good reason to deny its truth is not enough of a basis to accept the apparent truth of contradiction as the fact of contradiction, what would be enough? Is it when there is not even a speculative reason? Or when the speculative reason is only extremely remote in terms of your evaluation of the probabilities?

    e) The bottom line, though, is that your historical analysis is just an example of playing with loaded dice. At least Newman was open in conceding that he was doing this. You, on the other hand, accuse us of “question-begging” because we don’t accept the antecedent loading of the dice in favor of continuity.

    “So the methodology to which I’m referring does not prevent the acknowledgment of such contradictions.”

    Another conclusion is simply that you are inconsistent in your application of your methodology.

    “In response to the prima facie appearance of a contradiction, when an interpretation is available that integrates apparently conflicting pieces of evidence, then out of faith and charity we follow that interpretation rather than unnecessarily concluding that there is an actual contradiction.”

    Neither faith nor charity demand that we accept merely speculative explanations that purport to provide harmonization, in the case of ancient writers.

    Indeed, true charity includes obedience to the commandments of God, including the 9th commandment – which requires regard for the truth. Regard for the truth restrains humans from simply accepting convenient speculation on the grounds that fits with one’s preconceived ideas. Historians, both ours, those in the secular world, and even many in Rome’s communion, generally try to abide by this in their historical investigations.

    “And such an interpretation is available in the case of St. Clement.”

    That proposed interpretation has already been addressed, and the rebuttal has not been addressed.

    “The Tridentine bishops were quite aware of 1 Clement, and did not consider, for example, Canon 9 or Canon 24 (of Session 6) to be contrary to St. Clement’s teaching on justification.”

    What is the evidence of this? My guess is that you just made this up. After all, the council ended 1563, and the discovery of the text of 1 Clement was made in 1627, when Cyril Lucar gave Codex Alexandrinus to Charles I.

    And if you made it up, do you have any ethical explanation for your actions?

    -TurretinFan

  67. Bryan Cross said,

    May 4, 2012 at 11:58 am

    TF,

    My mistake. I was going from memory. It was St. Hilary (along with some other Church Fathers) who was discussed during the Sixth Session. The point still stands, however, that the Tridentine bishops were well aware of Church Fathers who wrote about justification by faith. And the Tridentine bishops did not consider the resulting document from Session Six to be in conflict with that teaching in the Fathers. They were careful about this precisely because they explicitly wanted to remain in continuity with the Fathers. What St. Hilary says on the subject is similar to what St. Clement says, and the Tridentine way of understanding the harmony of Session Six with what the Church Fathers said about justification by faith, applies also to 1 Clement c. 32.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  68. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Bryan #67: Thank you for being forthright about errors. I hope that we all can do the same (or at least that I can…); it greatly enhances one’s credibility when there is confidence that errors can be admitted.

  69. TurretinFan said,

    May 4, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    As to #59, Bryan, you wrote:

    And there is no evidence at all that St. Clement as the bishop of the Church at Rome, deviated from that Catholic teaching.

    a) There is good reason to believe that Clement was never “the bishop” of Rome.
    b) It’s unclear whether you are introducing the question of whether 1 Clement was written by a bishop in an official capacity. The book itself is anonymous, but purports to be from the church in Rome. It does not purport to be from “the bishop of Rome,” and is actually one of the evidences cited against the idea that the earliest government (late 1st century, early second century) of the Christians in Rome was rule by a single bishop.
    c) It’s anachronistic to ask whether a 1st or 2nd century writer “deviated from that … teaching” when “that … teaching” is a teaching that came later, based on centuries of development (“corruption” might be a more accurate term, but that term just raises the question of the quality of the development). In other words, the way that the issue is framed is wrong. The question is whether the author of 1 Clement taught or held those views. There is no good reason to think so.
    d) In particular, there is no good reason to think that the author of 1 Clement meant by “faith” (in the quotation Lane provided) what you call, “the virtue of faith,” namely something received by baptism.
    e) Your allegations regarding the history of justification by faith alone are misplaced for at least two reasons. First, we reject the idea that our view of justification by imputed righteousness is a 16th century novelty. Second, even if it were true that this particular aspect of the doctrine of justification by faith was entirely unknown to later writers until its rediscovery in the 16th century, it’s anachronistic to read those later writers’ views back into 1 Clement, just as it would be anachronistic to read any other medieval author’s views back into 1 Clement.

    -TurretinFan

  70. TurretinFan said,

    May 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Re: #67

    Jedin states:

    The Carmelite Vincent de Leone put the Fathers on their guard against a condemnation of the sola fide formula without supplementing it with an accurate explanation of its meaning, on the ground that it is also found, though in another sense, in the writings of many Fathers, for instance in those of St. Hilary of Poitiers, and in those of some other Catholic theologians.

    Hubert Jedin, A History of the Council of Trent, Volume 2, p. 245.

    Is that your basis for your statement: “The point still stands, however, that the Tridentine bishops were well aware of Church Fathers who wrote about justification by faith”? Or is there something that shows a greater discussion and/or awareness on the part of the Tridentine fathers than that?

    -TurretinFan

  71. TurretinFan said,

    May 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Regarding Andrew’s Amazon review of Oden’s work, this characterization is not one that reflects an honest assessment of the work: “He shows no interest in carefully trying to understand any father’s viewpoint and mindset. Rather he simply grabbed whatever snippets he could find that looked juicy and ran with them.”

    Also, regarding his opinion of Oden: “I was left with the feeling that his library must be quite small and that Oden isn’t familiar with the vast majority of patristics scholarship.” One has to chuckle a little at that description, if one knows Oden. Sadly, the review is targeted at people who don’t know Oden.

    -TurretinFan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 301 other followers

%d bloggers like this: