Response to Jason Stellman, Part 1

In this comment, Jason began a biblical exposition of his understanding of salvation. I want to interact with this on the level he’s been asking. So, here goes. Jason’s words are block-quoted, and my commentary follows.

My basic thesis would be something like this: The gospel is the teaching that, because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and subsequent gift of the Spirit, the love of God is shed forth in sinners’ hearts, enabling them to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.

I could actually agree with a fair bit of this summary. I just think it is incomplete at one part, and wrong at one part. It is incomplete when he says that “the love of God is shed forth in sinners’ hearts.” This is true, but God’s work in the gospel is not only shed forth in sinners’ hearts, but also shown outside of us on the cross itself. Now, Jason does say “because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and subsequent gift of the Spirit.” However, the way it is worded there makes it seem as though those things are foundational to the Gospel, as opposed to being part of the Gospel itself. Most of the instances of the word “Gospel” that occur in the New Testament are not instances that define what the Gospel is. We must, of course, beware of the word-concept fallacy here. Definitions of the Gospel often occur without the word “Gospel” being present. But one of the most important instances of the word “Gospel” occurring in a context that also defines what that Gospel is is 1 Corinthians 15. Paul talks about the Gospel preached, in verse 1, which the Corinthians received, and by which they were saved. Then, verse 3 defines what that Gospel is: the propitiatory death of Christ (v. 3), His burial and resurrection (v. 4). Then all of Christ’s appearances post-Resurrection are listed next (verses 5-8) as still being part of that Gospel. His definition of the Gospel doesn’t really end until verse 11. Verse 12 starts the discussion about one particular aspect of the Gospel: Christ’s resurrection. So, the Gospel is not just stuff that occurs inside of us, but also stuff that occurs outside of us. I’m sure, at this point, that Jason would agree. Where we would disagree is in the “how” of the application. We would both agree, even, that there are definite internal aspects to salvation applied. God does change us internally by shedding forth His love inside of us. I would just argue that such is sanctification, not justification. More on that later. The part of his definition that is simply wrong is that the internal work of God inside of us is the basis for gaining eternal life. I would argue that it is the evidence of justification, and is therefore the necessary result of justification, not part of justification itself.

First, I would insist—contra some Reformed guys like VanDrunen—that in order to learn the gospel we need to start with Jesus and then look for his teaching echoed in the other NT writers (rather than saying that we should begin with Paul). So keep that in mind: Jesus gets the first and last word.

This is hermeneutically wrong, I’m afraid. Jesus does get the first and last word. But ALL the Bible is the Word of God, the communication of God, which He gave to us in Jesus Christ, Who is not only the subject of revelation, but also the object of that same revelation. Jesus spoke just as much through Paul’s words as He did through His own on earth (Hebrews 1 shows this conclusively, equating all of the “last days” revelation with the revelation of the Son). So, Jesus’ words in the Gospels are not somehow more (or less!) fundamental than the words of Paul. The reason that Reformed guys like VanDrunen argue for starting with Paul is simply that Paul is MUCH more full on the topic of justification than Jesus was. Paul has the most complete discussions of justification. So, wouldn’t it make sense to go to the most developed place where such doctrine is taught? When Jesus preaches about the Gospel, He primarily ties it to the Kingdom of God. And, in preaching to Israel, that makes a great deal of sense. He is telling them that what they were expecting has now broken into history. However, Jesus devotes much less time than Paul did to the discussion of how the gospel is applied to us.

On several occasions Jesus taught that love of God and neighbor fulfill the law and prophets (the golden rule in Matt. 7, his answer to the scribe in Matt. 22). In fact, in Mark’s account of the question about the greatest commandment, the scribe, after hearing Jesus’ answer, goes on and says that Jesus spoke truly, and that love for God and neighbor are more important than sacrifices and burnt offerings. Jesus then encourages him that he is “not far from the kingdom of God” (which leads me to believe that Jesus’ intent was not to use the dual command of love as a first-use, pedagogical tool that the scribe should have realized was impossible to keep. This love, I think, is the “righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” that Jesus spoke of in the sermon on the mount. In other words, that righteousness is not just more exact obedience than they offered already (as if), but a qualitatively different kind of obedience, one flowing from the heart, wrought by the NC gift of the Spirit.

No Reformed person I know of would disagree that love of God and neighbor fulfills the law and the prophets. We would merely qualify that by quoting Galatians 3:10, which quotes, in turn, Deuteronomy 27:26: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Incidentally, that verse certainly seems to see the law as a list of things to do or not do. Verses 11 and 12 of that same chapter (Galatians 3) contrast the two ways of justification: the hypothetical way of doing the law that no one can do (verse 11), and the way of faith (verse 12). The reason no one can do the first way is verse 10: no one can keep the entire law, and we are under a curse if we do not do all those things. But the essence of all those things IS love. The final kicker, and the essence of the Gospel as applied to us, is verse 13 of that chapter. The curse of verse 10 comes on Christ in verse 13 by a vicarious substitution (“having become a curse for us”). Now, having been justified (and I would argue, at the same time as justification, but not included in it), we also receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (verse 14). That the words of the law CANNOT be limited to boundary markers, or ceremonial works of the law (like the NPP and the RCC have affirmed) is proven from the all-inclusive nature of verse 10: “ALL things written in the book of the law.” Not merely some things, but all things. Of course, circumcision is included. But the works of the law are not limited to circumcision. In other words, to get back to the main point: no one can love God as they ought. Love for God and neighbor in this chapter of Galatians is equivalent to works of the law, which equals the way of justification that is not possible, because we are under the curse. In short, we cannot be justified by our love for God and neighbor. That the law does indeed have a pedagogical use in this chapter is confirmed by verses 23ff. To limit the law to boundary markers or ceremonial aspects of the law simply doesn’t work in verse 24. Love of God is only possible when we are sanctified, which means that justification must happen some other way. Faith in Christ, which is everywhere in Galatians 3 contrasted with works, is what justifies.

As to Mark’s account of the scribe, the passage proves too much. The scribe described the Roman Catholic position on love for God and neighbor (and Reformed, I might add!) fairly accurately. So why is he described as “not far from?” Why is he not described as “hitting the nail on the head?” If that is what is required for justification, then he has it right. The reason is that one element is missing in the scribe’s reasoning: how you get into the kingdom is not the same as how you live once you are in it. What the scribe described, then, is what life looks like in the kingdom of God. But how you get there is a different thing. So, it is not actually necessary for the Reformed view to look at this description of law as purely first-use pedagogical. The scribe is also describing what the Reformed would talk about as the third use of the law. It was the first use of the law that the scribe was missing, while he was describing the third use.

As to Christ’s statement in the SM about a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, I agree that it exceeds in kind what the Pharisees and the scribes tried to do, and I can even agree that such obedience is from the Holy Spirit imbuing us with that ability. I disagree that this is the way we are justified (which is hardly in the context). Jesus’ words have to do with what is necessary, not what is causative. This is especially true when He talks about entering the kingdom of heaven. Yes, we do not enter the kingdom of God without works. But we do NOT enter the kingdom of God BECAUSE OF our works, either. Turretin describes it well when he says that our good works are necessary for salvation not in a causative sense, but in a resultative sense. They necessarily follow. So, they are necessary. But they do not cause our salvation. Neither does our love for God or neighbor. Our good works are the result of God’s sanctifying work inside of us. And, to give a glimpse of where I’m going in the next few posts: the passages that connect good works to the final judgment are evidentiary in nature, not causative. The world will want to know whether our faith is genuine. At that point, God will trot out our works and show the world that our faith was genuine, and that the verdict already rendered in our lifetimes is a true verdict. That’s what our works will do on Judgment Day.

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980 Comments

  1. August 16, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I appreciate this, Lane. I will try to offer some thoughts later tonight.

  2. August 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Lane,

    Your discussion after the second block quote is quite thought provoking. Enough to make “The Origin of Paul’s Religion,” the book I am now reading. The relationship between Paul’s and Jesus’ teaching could really use more fleshing out in your future posts. I will be reading.

    Peace,
    AB

  3. paigebritton said,

    August 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Re. the priority of Jesus’ vs. Paul’s theology, Jesus’ teaching during his in-the-flesh ministry was limited by chronology, as it were: he was still speaking into an “OT” world, pre-Resurrection and pre-Pentecost. The meaning behind the revelation of the Word made flesh was thus necessarily something that, for the most part, had to follow along historically (i.e., in the apostolic ministry).

  4. Dave Houf said,

    August 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Really glad for this thoughtful and necessary interaction, and am looking forward to more. The Turretin reference is most excellent.

    Thank you.

    Dave Houf,
    Member, Christ Community Presbyterian Church West Hartford CT

  5. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Paige,

    By most accounts, the Gospels were written sometime later than the Epistles of St. Paul. In any case, I don’t think that the Son of God was limited by chronology. The deity of Christ is an important hermeneutical principle, as is the time of the compostion of the written Gospels. Both of these considerations mitigate against your claim about the “meaning behind” the Incarnation, as applied to the hermeneutical question of where we find that meaning most fully expressed in the NT writings.

    Of course, the immediate historical context in which he lived and taught and finally accomplished the work fo salvation has to be carefully attended to when interpreting the words of Jesus. But the same is true for the letters of Paul. It seems to me, following the thoughts of others, that the reason that Paul spent so much time on justification is that he was dealing with immediate historical circumstances; i.e., the Judaizer controversy. Once this was in abeyance, and the separation of Christians from the synagogues was nearly complete, there was not as much need to focus on justification by faith, which is not a major theme of the Gospels or of the early patristic period. That question had been settled by the clear inclusion of the Gentiles in the Israel of God.

    Andrew

  6. sean said,

    August 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Andrew,

    Do you hold to the historical-critical method of interpreting the scriptures?

  7. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Andrew, how would you respond to these three theses:

    (1) Paul’s immediate historical circumstances necessitated a clear presentation of justification and its distinction from non-justification. I’m thinking here of Romans in particular. Therefore, Paul’s words receive a conceptual priority because of their clarity.

    (2) Jesus’ teachings on justification were delivered to an audience every bit as tied to the Pharisees as Paul’s audiences were — more, in fact — so that we should look to Jesus’ historical circumstances and not the Gospel writers’ circumstances as the context for his remarks.

    (3) And in fact, Jesus delivered many of his remarks using parables that deliberately concealed truth from those who did not wish to hear. We should therefore be wary of taking Jesus’ words literally and thus using them as a framework to interpret Paul.

  8. August 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Lane,

    I know I’m not going to be able to keep up, but I will try. I’ll start by offering some thoughts about your first section. I may not get to write more until later tonight. I wrote:

    My basic thesis would be something like this: The gospel is the teaching that, because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and subsequent gift of the Spirit, the love of God is shed forth in sinners’ hearts, enabling them to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.

    And you responded:

    I could actually agree with a fair bit of this summary. I just think it is incomplete at one part, and wrong at one part. It is incomplete when he says that “the love of God is shed forth in sinners’ hearts.” This is true, but God’s work in the gospel is not only shed forth in sinners’ hearts, but also shown outside of us on the cross itself. Now, Jason does say “because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and subsequent gift of the Spirit.” However, the way it is worded there makes it seem as though those things are foundational to the Gospel, as opposed to being part of the Gospel itself.

    Well, no one-sentence summary is complete, is it? That’s what makes it a summary. But to allay any concerns, yes, I do think that the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ are part of the gospel (!).

    Most of the instances of the word “Gospel” that occur in the New Testament are not instances that define what the Gospel is. We must, of course, beware of the word-concept fallacy here. Definitions of the Gospel often occur without the word “Gospel” being present.

    Of course. I would be curious to know if you agree with this rule when applied to justification, since you argue later that Paul talked a lot more about justification than Jesus did. I would argue (and eventually will) that there are heaps of passages in the gospels that deal with the basis according to which sinners receive their eternal inheritance. And I see no reason, given your insistence that we beware of the word-concept fallacy, why these passages should not be included in the discussion. I’m getting ahead of myself though. I’ll address the Jesus/Paul thing later.

    But one of the most important instances of the word “Gospel” occurring in a context that also defines what that Gospel is is 1 Corinthians 15. Paul talks about the Gospel preached, in verse 1, which the Corinthians received, and by which they were saved. Then, verse 3 defines what that Gospel is: the propitiatory death of Christ (v. 3), His burial and resurrection (v. 4). Then all of Christ’s appearances post-Resurrection are listed next (verses 5-8) as still being part of that Gospel. His definition of the Gospel doesn’t really end until verse 11. Verse 12 starts the discussion about one particular aspect of the Gospel: Christ’s resurrection. So, the Gospel is not just stuff that occurs inside of us, but also stuff that occurs outside of us. I’m sure, at this point, that Jason would agree.

    Yep. This is easy so far!

    Where we would disagree is in the “how” of the application. We would both agree, even, that there are definite internal aspects to salvation applied. God does change us internally by shedding forth His love inside of us. I would just argue that such is sanctification, not justification. More on that later. The part of his definition that is simply wrong is that the internal work of God inside of us is the basis for gaining eternal life. I would argue that it is the evidence of justification, and is therefore the necessary result of justification, not part of justification itself.

    I know that is your position, Lane, so I would be curious to hear you respond to the biblical evidence I adduce both in the comment you’re responding to as well as in the others I have posted here.

    For example, I asked Jeff the following:

    Let me ask you this: The servant who took his master’s five talents and turned them into ten, was he not admitted into the kingdom for that very reason? The master says, “Well done, good and faith servant. You have been faithful in a few things, now enter into the joy of your Lord” (and remember: the servant who buried his master’s talents got thrown into hell, so this text is not about the rewards saved people get, but about being finally saved or condemned).

    My question, then, is: “Was that servant’s righteousness ‘a righteousness of his own’?” Of course not! He had no talents until his master gave him some. But was his being admitted into heaven (rather than condemned to hell) done for a reason irrespective of what he himself did? No, quite the opposite. This is like what Jesus says to the sheep on his right: “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom, FOR I was hungry and you fed me… you did these things to me.”

    There are loads of passages in the NT that directly connect our Spirit-wrought deeds of love and mercy to our inheriting eternal life in a causal way. So it seems to me that you can’t just “disagree” with my position, you need to demonstrate why those verses aren’t saying what I think they are.

  9. Bryan Cross said,

    August 16, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Lane,

    Of course I wouldn’t presume to speak for Jason, but something you said above turned on a paradigmatic difference quite similar to the one discussed recently. You wrote:

    No Reformed person I know of would disagree that love of God and neighbor fulfills the law and the prophets. We would merely qualify that by quoting Galatians 3:10, which quotes, in turn, Deuteronomy 27:26: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Incidentally, that verse certainly seems to see the law as a list of things to do or not do. Verses 11 and 12 of that same chapter (Galatians 3) contrast the two ways of justification: the hypothetical way of doing the law that no one can do (verse 11), and the way of faith (verse 12). The reason no one can do the first way is verse 10: no one can keep the entire law, and we are under a curse if we do not do all those things. But the essence of all those things IS love. The final kicker, and the essence of the Gospel as applied to us, is verse 13 of that chapter. The curse of verse 10 comes on Christ in verse 13 by a vicarious substitution (“having become a curse for us”). Now, having been justified (and I would argue, at the same time as justification, but not included in it), we also receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (verse 14). That the words of the law CANNOT be limited to boundary markers, or ceremonial works of the law (like the NPP and the RCC have affirmed) is proven from the all-inclusive nature of verse 10: “ALL things written in the book of the law.” Not merely some things, but all things. Of course, circumcision is included. But the works of the law are not limited to circumcision. In other words, to get back to the main point: no one can love God as they ought. Love for God and neighbor in this chapter of Galatians is equivalent to works of the law, which equals the way of justification that is not possible, because we are under the curse. In short, we cannot be justified by our love for God and neighbor. That the law does indeed have a pedagogical use in this chapter is confirmed by verses 23ff. To limit the law to boundary markers or ceremonial aspects of the law simply doesn’t work in verse 24. Love of God is only possible when we are sanctified, which means that justification must happen some other way. Faith in Christ, which is everywhere in Galatians 3 contrasted with works, is what justifies.

    You seem to be claiming that during this present life, agape within the believer cannot fulfill the law, because (a) Gal 3:10 teaches that no one can keep the entire law, and we are under a curse if we do not keep the entire law, (b) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, (c) the works of the law referred to in Gal 3:10 refer to more than boundary markers, on account of Gal 3:23ff, (d) love of God is only possible when we are sanctified, which means that we must be justified in some other way, and (e) everywhere in Gal 3, faith in Christ is contrasted with works, and it is faith that justifies.

    Here’s another way to view the Galatians 3 passage, seeing it through a different paradigm.

    Gal 3:10 ὅσοι γὰρ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσὶν ὑπὸ κατάραν εἰσίν: γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὃς οὐκ ἐμμένει πᾶσιν τοῖς γεγραμμένοις ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτά. (For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.”)

    From this point of view, St. Paul is here speaking of persons operating ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, that is, persons operating not out of the living faith by which the law is written on the heart, but operating in relation to the law (and the Mosaic Law is primarily in view here) as something external through which they can obtain justice before God by material observance, through their own efforts. For such persons, the law is (to them) a curse, precisely because they cannot abide by all the things written in it. For those having the law only externally, the law is a burden, and a curse.

    Gal 3:11-12 ὅτι δὲ ἐν νόμῳ οὐδεὶς δικαιοῦται παρὰ τῷ θεῷ δῆλον, ὅτι Ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται: ὁ δὲ νόμος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ πίστεως, ἀλλ’ Ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς. (But that by the law no one is justified before God is evident, for “The righteous by faith shall live.” The law, however, is not of faith; rather, “The one who does them shall live by them.”)

    Here too “by the law” is referring to life under the law-as-external. The law in that sense is not of faith. That in fact is the way it is not of faith, by being external, whereas living faith contains the law written on the heart (as explained in the agape paradigm post). The law-as-external offers the promise of life to those who keep it, but it does not empower anyone to keep it. (cf. Gal 3:21)

    Gal 3:13-14 Χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξηγόρασεν ἐκ τῆς κατάρας τοῦ νόμου γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα, ὅτι γέγραπται, Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὁ κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ ξύλου, ἵνα εἰς τὰ ἔθνη ἡ εὐλογία τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ γένηται ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ἵνα τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πνεύματος λάβωμεν διὰ τῆς πίστεως. (Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” — so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.)

    Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law not by abolishing the law, but by receiving the curse of death though He Himself had perfectly kept the law. In this way, the curse of the law has been removed for those united to Him (Gal 3:27), so that the same blessing of living faith given to Abraham, by which he was declared righteous in Gen 15:6, is offered to Jews and Gentiles alike under the New Covenant. This blessing is the gift of the Spirit, received through living faith (Gal 3:14), and with it the same righteousness Abraham had by faith, before being circumcised. By receiving the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, we enter into a sonship relationship with God our Father (Gal 4:7).

    In this way of understanding the passage, St. Paul in Gal 3:10-11 is not claiming that agape within believers does not fulfill the law and is not righteousness, because he is speaking in those verses of persons for whom the law is only external. Moreover, if justification is by living faith, that is, faith informed by agape, then it does not follow that justification must happen in some other way than by infusion of agape. If infused agape is justification and sanctification, then justification does not have to precede the initial sanctification of infused agape at regeneration. This understanding of the passage also does not depend in any way on the works being restricted here to covenant boundary markers. To receive circumcision as though necessary for salvation is to deny the New Covenant, and thereby place oneself back under the Mosaic Covenant (Gal 5:3). The problem St. Paul is addressing is not fundamentally a boundary marker problem, but a relation to the law-as-external, rather than in friendship with God as Father, with living faith in one’s heart. And finally, this reading also makes sense of St. Paul’s dichotomy of faith and works with respect to justification, because he is speaking of initial justification, and because the works in view are those done by persons without living faith, that is, persons for whom the law is only external. Such works, of course, cannot in any way contribute to justification.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  10. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Jason (#8): Sorry, that question did … ermm… merit an answer. I’ll pop it into the other thread.

  11. August 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Lane,

    I wrote:

    I would insist—contra some Reformed guys like VanDrunen—that in order to learn the gospel we need to start with Jesus and then look for his teaching echoed in the other NT writers (rather than saying that we should begin with Paul). So keep that in mind: Jesus gets the first and last word.

    And you responded:

    This is hermeneutically wrong, I’m afraid. Jesus does get the first and last word. But ALL the Bible is the Word of God, the communication of God, which He gave to us in Jesus Christ, Who is not only the subject of revelation, but also the object of that same revelation. Jesus spoke just as much through Paul’s words as He did through His own on earth (Hebrews 1 shows this conclusively, equating all of the “last days” revelation with the revelation of the Son). So, Jesus’ words in the Gospels are not somehow more (or less!) fundamental than the words of Paul.

    I think you’re reacting against something I didn’t say. Nowhere did I intend to imply that “all the Bible is not the Word of God” or that “Jesus’ words are more fundamental than Paul’s.”

    The point I am making is much more simple, and much less sinister, than that. All I am saying is that Jesus said a bunch of stuff, and that the apostles built upon that stuff in the letters they wrote. That’s it.

    So if something like the imputation of alien righteousness is essential to the gospel such that there is no true gospel without it, then we should expect Jesus to have taught it and all the NT writers to have expounded on his teaching (rather than Jesus, Peter, James, and John to have omitted it, while Paul only mentioned it in a couple places). If you think that is a false characterization, then show me how.

    The reason that Reformed guys like VanDrunen argue for starting with Paul is simply that Paul is MUCH more full on the topic of justification than Jesus was. Paul has the most complete discussions of justification. So, wouldn’t it make sense to go to the most developed place where such doctrine is taught?

    You’re just begging the question here, not to mention possibly committing the word/concept fallacy you warned about earlier. I would maintain that Jesus addressed the issue of the causal basis by which sinners gain eternal life all over the place (albeit without using the word “justification.” That said, though, the only time he did use it in a soteriological, day-of-judgment context he expressly ascribed justification to our words, with no mention of faith at all). So to say that Paul provides the “most complete discussion of justification” is to assume what is itself in dispute.

    When Jesus preaches about the Gospel, He primarily ties it to the Kingdom of God. And, in preaching to Israel, that makes a great deal of sense. He is telling them that what they were expecting has now broken into history.

    If I were to say the same type of thing about Paul that you say about Jesus—for example, that Paul primarily ties justification to the unique historical issue of boundary markers and table fellowship—what would you say? My guess is you’d complain that I am being evasive by hiding behind a supposedly unique historical issue, and refusing to see the broader application of those texts beyond that specific question. And you’d be right.

    So I am not arguing that the red letters are more inspired than the black ones. I am simply saying that there is a LOT more data outside of Paul’s corpus than within it dealing with the relationship between our Spirit-wrought works and our gaining eternal life. From where I sit, it is you, and not me, who are pitting one NT writer against the others.

  12. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Sean (re #6),

    I think that the historical-critical method is valuable, but by itself is dangerous. Also, in practice if not always in theory, practitioners of historical-critical exegesis often load the definition of “historical” with philosophical baggage (e.g., methodological naturalism) such that the “critical” aspect of their work belies its name, and becomes an exercise in hermeneutical suspicion.

    Jeff (re #7),

    (1) Paul was indeed careful to make distinctions, in response to confusion, which results in writing that is sometimes more analytical than the Gospel narratives. But I think that both Paul and the Evangelists were in essence engaged in Covenant theology. The heart of the Covenant, and hence the heart of our salvation in the Messiah of Israel, is most clearly expressed, in my opinion, in the Gospels. It is tempting to suppose that dialectic is more theologically rich than narrative, but I find, upon careful and sustained reading of the biblical narratives, that this is not the case. Remember, these Four are not mere chronicles. They are carefully constructed narratives expressive of a definitely Christian theology–which stands to reason, considering the Subject of each.

    (2) This is a both/and: Jesus’s immediate historical circumstances and the later historical circumstances in which the Evangelists wrote.

    (3) Ah, but for those who wish to hear, Jesus’s teaching in parables is rich with theological content and significance. Those mini-narratives, and the overall Gospel narratives, situated as they are within the culminating Covenant-story of Israel, are pregnant with theological meaning. It would be terribly impoverishing, both in a literary and a spiritual sense, to suppose that St. Paul simply “delivered the baby” by means of his dialectical passages in Romans and Galatians. If anything, in this symbiosis that is part of the analogy of faith, the Gospels exert a centripital force upon our Bible reading; bringing us again and again (if we have ears to hear) to the heart of the Covenant, which consists not of an argument, but a holy family.

    Andrew

  13. sean said,

    August 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Thanks for the response Andrew, I agree. What date do you attribute to the transcription of oral tradition. IOW, how long does it take, post resurrection, for the epistles and gospels to be transcribed?

  14. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    There are loads of passages in the NT that directly connect our Spirit-wrought deeds of love and mercy to our inheriting eternal life in a causal way. So it seems to me that you can’t just “disagree” with my position, you need to demonstrate why those verses aren’t saying what I think they are.

    Jason,

    I’m struggling figure out which of the passages you quote should be taken in a “causal” manner. Lane quotes your commentary on Gal. 6:8 (and other passages in Gal. 5) which says “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

    Your commentary on this passage is:

    Here we see Paul echoing Christ by saying that love of God and neighbor fulfills the law, but also adding that this is only possible through the NC gift of the Spirit, which he calls “walking in the Spirit.” This fruit-bearing, far from being a veiled attempt at self-righteousness, is the very “sowing to the Spirit” that will enable us to “reap eternal life.”

    So I just don’t get this conclusion, Jason. How does the statement that those who reap eternal life are those who sow the Spirit come to mean mean that that this Spirit sowing becomes a causal factor in our justification? Where is the causal element here?

    Or maybe there are other verses you cite which would be better examples?

    Cheers for now….

  15. August 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Do you not seeing a causal connection between sowing and reaping? Even for a Calvinist that’s pretty hardcore….

  16. Jason Loh said,

    August 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Hi Jason,

    You wrote (re #11):

    “So if something like the imputation of alien righteousness is essential to the gospel such that there is no true gospel without it, then we should expect Jesus to have taught it and all the NT writers to have expounded on his teaching (rather than Jesus, Peter, James, and John to have omitted it, while Paul only mentioned it in a couple places).”

    How about when Jesus said that He was the “Way, Truth, and Life.” Granted that Jesus wasn’t propounding a formulaic expression of justification by imputation, but His statement would seem to be much more compatible with imputation considered as what “happens *to* the person” rather than infusion considered as what happens *in* the person.” After all, “no one cometh to the Father by by Me” implies what “happens to the person” *through, with, in and under* Jesus rather than *created* grace in the soul of the Christian. The table could be turned thus: Where do we find Our Lord and Saviour teaching anything like infused grace/ righteousness?

  17. August 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Snark aside, there is clearly a causal connection between sowing and reaping, by their very definition. As far as how justification comes into it, I trace the connection in Gal. 5-6 in my comment:

    Justification by faith working through love –> love fulfills the law –> love is the fruit of the Spirit –> we are to walk in the Spirit –> walking in (or sowing to) the Spirit reaps the reward of everlasting life.

    To deny the causal connection is like saying, “The man who reaps happens to have sown, but his reaping is causally irrespecting of his having sown.”

  18. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Jason – I believe that there is a general connection between what I sow and what I reap, but the question at issue here is what God does with what I sow. Again we agree that only those who sow the Spirit will reap eternal life. But does this mean that God uses this sowing to my account, so as to speak? Or is His justification of me based on something besides what I sow? The Galatians verse does not seem to say one way or another, but I think you are suggesting that there is a necessary causal element here and I’m not sure why you think this

    So maybe there is another of the many verses you cite which would be better examples of this “causal” argument?

  19. August 16, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Andrew, I spelled out the causal element already, with cool little arrows and everything. What about that do you disagree with?

  20. Jason Loh said,

    August 17, 2012 at 12:02 am

    “The gospel is the teaching that, because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and subsequent gift of the Spirit, the love of God is shed forth in sinners’ hearts, enabling them to love God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law and gaining eternal life.”

    As a Lutheran, I prefer to highlight Jesus’ words at the Last Supper as the Gospel:

    “This is My Body broken for you; this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins …” Granted the Lord’s Supper is an event in which Christian partake of species of bread and wine (which for Lutherans are the true Body and Blood of Our Lord and Saviour), how are the words to be construed as infused grace? After all infused grace (habitual grace) whilst flowing from Uncreated Grace is nonetheless created grace that resides in the soul. In the Lord’s Supper (Lutherans as well Roman Catholics believe that) we partake of the actual flesh and blood of Jesus. Whilst it is true that the human nature of Jesus is *created,* it is neither a “substance” by itself (Nestorianism!) nor “inherent” in the Christian (Adoptionism!)) but always and only from the “outside” (since it is “repeatedly” administered) …..

    Again, how is infused grace compatible with the baptismal imagery employed in Romans 6? — death & resurrection … where the Old Adam is killed only to be raised up again in newness of life in, with and under Baptism … Granted that pouring is compatible with infusion, but immersion and sprinkling does not.

  21. Bob S said,

    August 17, 2012 at 12:17 am

    The Galatians verse does not seem to say one way or another

    Correction, it does not say.

    but I think you are suggesting that there is a necessary causal element here and I’m not sure why you think this

    Because someone has bought into the Roman presuppositions.
    Or if you prefer Is. 6:9,10, if not 2 Thess. 2:9,10.

    Don;t get me wrong, presuppositions are inescapable, but the real question is are they agreeable to Scripture. In light of all that has taken place here recently, in which Bryan and JJS openly balked at dealing honestly with 2 Tim. 3:15-17, it is no wonder that they also continue to buy into the Roman take/twist on Scripture when it comes to justification, never mind its perspicuity and sufficiency.

  22. Bob S said,

    August 17, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Further, to assume that because something comes before something else, that the former necessarily causes the latter is a fallacy. The real question remains.

    As Andrew put it: (B)ut the question at issue here is what God does with what I sow. . . . But does this mean that God uses this sowing to my account, so as to speak? Or is His justification of me based on something besides what I sow? .

    And the substantive answer?

  23. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 17, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Sean,

    So far as I can tell, most scholars date Paul’s epistles (leaving to the side critical conclusions about the authenticity of some that bear his name) between 50–67 AD. Assuming Markan priority, which most scholars do, we can go by critical opinion and place the beginning of the writing of the Gospels just before, or perhaps sometime after, 70 AD. Some patristic witnesses confirm a date after the martyrdom of St. Peter (67 AD). There are, however, at least two patristic witnesses that indicate an earlier date: (1) According to Eusebius, the Gospel of Mark was written during the reign of Claudius (41–54 AD). (2) Clement of Alexandria claimed that Mark was written before St. Peter’s death.

    I am not inclined to plunk for Markan priority, given that there is a tradition that Matthew wrote his Gospel first, and Mark drew from that source in composing his shorter work. Most modern scholars do not think that Matthew wrote the Gospel in the form in which it has been preserved, dating the composition of this form, our Gospel of Matthew, between 80–90 AD. But I don’t agree with that argument either, largely from consideration of tradition. Thus, I can accept that at least two of the Gospels were written more or less concurrently with Paul’s epistles.

    There is another literary consideration relevant to the matter of where the is the weight or center of gravity in the New Testament as a whole. It is tempting to see this in Paul, simply because his Epistles come *after* the Gospels in our NT table of contents, and he writes so many more Epistles than anyone else. So we can just sort of fall in with the view that the Gospels set the stage, and then Paul delivers the goods–brings out the big theology.

    However, sticking with the stage metaphor, and not allowing our reading of the NT to be pre-determined by the order of the TOC, another dynamic can and, for me, does emerge.

    Consider: Paul has very little to say about the actual events that occurred in the life of Christ. What Jesus said and did are not, with a very few exceptions (e.g., the Institution Narrative), recorded in Paul’s letters. On the one hand, we can, correctly, conclude that Paul is concerned with the *meaning* of the “Christ-event.” But even here Paul is almost never theoretical; he almost always has in mind very specific connections, whether large-scale (e.g., Jew–Gentile relations) or small-scale (e.g., scandals and practical concerns in the Church at Corinth), to the life of the churches.

    Jesus himself is always just off-stage in Paul’s letters. In my opinion, this has the effect of tantalizing us to know more of this Jesus, not “according to the flesh,” as a mere historical incident, but as the Lord and Savior to whom St. Paul constantly refers. (Remember, we are presupposing the order of the New Testament TOC, which is a later development. Just imagine that you have not seen the Gospels yet, but have been reading Paul.) We want this Jesus to be as real for us as he was for St. Paul, who actually saw the Lord in the light of glory. And for this, as readers (not yet, in most cases, being granted the heavenly vision), we want the details of the Lord’s actual life among us–knowing that these events, by the nature of the case, are not just curiosities, but genuine mysteries of the faith.

    Enter the Gospel narratives. Jesus comes center stage into the story, with a prologue, and in his birth, childhood, public ministry, teachings and travels, parables and miracles, friends and enemies, and that final journey to Jerusalem, and what happened there.

    End Romanist Ramble.

  24. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 17, 2012 at 1:39 am

    The bit in parentheses in the next to last paragraph should read:

    (Remember, we are *not* presupposing the order of the New Testament TOC, which is a later development. Just imagine that you have not seen the Gospels yet, but have been reading Paul.)

  25. johnbugay said,

    August 17, 2012 at 5:22 am

    Now that Andrew Preslar (21), a Roman Catholic, has used the word “Romanist” of himself, I think it’s a fair consideration to take off the table the excuse “I don’t deal with web sites where they call us ‘Romanists': it’s offensive”.

  26. johnbugay said,

    August 17, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Bryan #9, you have a problem.

    I keep asking you, “how do you know what ‘the Church that Christ Founded’ looked like?” And of course, you keep ignoring the question.

    The obvious response at that point would be for you to say, “we look at Scripture. The New Testament offers the best source of information about what the earliest Christian church was like”.

    When Protestants argue directly from Scripture and the church fathers to rebut the claims of Rome, you say that’s not allowed: it’s “question-begging” because our interpretations of the historical evidence are paradigm-dependent – dependent on “sola Scriptura”.

    But if you are going to go that route in response to Protestant critics, to disallow Scriptural and historical evidence, then you have engaged in a double standard now in lodging evidentiary appeals to Scripture regarding Justification. In invoking the Greek of Galatians, you have taken your “interpretive paradigm” off the table, and have now, in effect, begun to argue “sola Scriptura” in favor of your view of justification. Interesting twist.

    This is a dilemma that you have created for yourself: Until now, you won’t discuss the [lack of] biblical and historical evidence of the early papacy, but here, now, you have just brought this type of evidence back onto the table.

    If you can cite direct evidence in favor of your view of justification, [and I don’t have any doubts that the Greek scholars on this site are more than up to the task of addressing you on this issue, then you certainly must also cite your direct evidence for the papacy, as and you have now committed yourself to interact with our direct counterevidence.

  27. sean said,

    August 17, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Andrew,

    Thanks again for the response. I’m not sure all your friends in the RC seminary world share your conviction of earlier dates or willingness to turn to the patristics for help in dating boundaries. But, I appreciate that you do. It does however bring into relief again that Rome even on an issue of dating the scriptures is going to parallel something as diverse as mainline protestantism in the U.S. And so, it continues to perplex me, and cause me to question how useful or meaningful this visible roman catholic unity is, on yet another issue. It’s off-topic for this post and I know you have studied responses to these objections, but I really was curious as to where someone like yourself or CTC, assuming it’s uniform on this issue, stood on something as particular and foundational as transcription.

  28. dghart said,

    August 17, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Jason, around 11 you wrote:

    “So if something like the imputation of alien righteousness is essential to the gospel such that there is no true gospel without it, then we should expect Jesus to have taught it and all the NT writers to have expounded on his teaching (rather than Jesus, Peter, James, and John to have omitted it, while Paul only mentioned it in a couple places). If you think that is a false characterization, then show me how.”

    Another instance of how slippery history is. If the Early Church Fathers are an indication of what Christ told Peter about the primacy of Rome, why isn’t Paul an indication of what Paul had received from his Lord? RC’s often read back later developments into the kernel of the gospels. Why is it that when Protestants (may) do it, the response is how the ancient tops what came later. Isn’t Paul more ancient than the ECF and weren’t his writings infallible? So why do you (CTCers) sometimes appeal to ECF and sometimes to Christ?

    Interpretation is messy.

  29. Bob S said,

    August 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

    24 John,
    It’s sort of like Joseph’s multicolored coat. We get to choose what color it is when asked. So too, depending on our audience, level of attention and degree of naivety we get to choose how we will skew Scripture, reason or history to vindicate holy mother Rome.
    It’s quite the uhm … paradigm.
    Sort of like a chameleon.

  30. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 17, 2012 at 11:28 am

    John B.,

    There are some words that members of a group can use of themselves, but which it would rude for those outside the group to use. You understand this, I think, so no need for me to cite the obvious example.

    You asked Bryan what the early Church “looked like.” I think that the more relevant question, assuming that there was one Church early on (the one that Christ founded), is “Which Church today is that Church?” Substance is foundational, phenomena is not. See my response to Clark and Godfrey on “the lure of Rome.”

    Sean,

    Catholic seminaries are not the Magisterium, so diversity on opinion in the seminaries regarding who wrote what, and when, is not equivalent to the same sort of plurality in Protestant seminaries. So far as I understand things, higher critical questions about the origins and sources (etc) of the NT texts (and the OT texts, for that matter) are not foundational for Catholic theology, so long as the proposed answers do not conflict with what has been declared to be divinely revealed.

    Andrew

  31. johnbugay said,

    August 17, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Andrew Preslar — your “outside the group” category is bogus, no matter who is employing it.

    Second, regarding your “response”, it only touches my question with respect to your papering over the notion that there was no early papacy, and the authority structure of “the Church” is completely different in New Testament times from what it emerges to be, say, in the fourth century.

  32. dghart said,

    August 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Andrew P., why do you disregard the Eastern Church? The Orthodox could easily answer your question “which church today is that church” in ways that would complicate your narrative.

  33. August 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Darryl,

    I wrote: “So if something like the imputation of alien righteousness is essential to the gospel such that there is no true gospel without it, then we should expect Jesus to have taught it and all the NT writers to have expounded on his teaching (rather than Jesus, Peter, James, and John to have omitted it, while Paul only mentioned it in a couple places). If you think that is a false characterization, then show me how.”

    And you responded:

    Another instance of how slippery history is. If the Early Church Fathers are an indication of what Christ told Peter about the primacy of Rome, why isn’t Paul an indication of what Paul had received from his Lord? RC’s often read back later developments into the kernel of the gospels. Why is it that when Protestants (may) do it, the response is how the ancient tops what came later. Isn’t Paul more ancient than the ECF and weren’t his writings infallible? So why do you (CTCers) sometimes appeal to ECF and sometimes to Christ?

    Interpretation is messy.

    Sorry, but I don’t see how what you say here has anything to do with my statement. Like I said, if imputation is indeed central, then show me where you find it outside of two letters of Paul.

  34. sean said,

    August 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Andrew,

    I understand the distinction you’re wanting to make, it’s just that from the perspective of having been both within the fold and now without, it’s really a distinction without a difference. I mean, you can claim it of course, but outside of the textbook or the chalkboard it doesn’t seem to have the kind of traction, CTC would like to attribute to it. Now, sacerdotalism and the mass have much more uniformity in practice and really does seem to be a point of unity. We get slammed as protestants, by CTC for our lack of unity(30k denom. argument), and yet the plurality of doctrinal adherence within Rome certainly rivals the plurality of doctrinal fidelity you see within mainline protestantism, particularly when large swaths of roman theology(sacred scripture) since Vat II took it’s lead from German protestant liberalism. There’s a real dissonance within the roman communion. It’s fine if you want to argue, as has been argued, that there is reform afoot on these issues, but it’s a tough sell convincing that the unity that is exhibited within Rome is superior to that which adheres within even liberal protestantism. To give you an example of what might conflict with the deposit, the higher-critical method taught post Vat II, challenged the very historicity of Jesus Christ and even brought into play, Jesus Seminar conclusions(casting colored stones) to determine whether Jesus actually had said what was attributed to him(normally claims of divinity) and would often posit 100 to 200 years of oral tradition, thus setting the groundwork for what was essentially a ‘Jeffersonian bible’ and Jesus not so much the Son of God, but a ‘liberation theologian(rabbi)’. It would be one thing if this was particularly rogue clergy or order, but this was boiler plate stuff as late as 1992 at the seminaries. It still is as far as I know, and was used to good effect, as far as the roman catholic was concerned for both arguing for a ‘robust’ sacred tradition and a pious ‘community of faith’. Now all communions/denominations have their problems but you’d think the one holy roman catholic magisterium, would effect a more uniform and united doctrinal fealty than protestant liberalism. It certainly claims to do just that.

  35. dghart said,

    August 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Jason, your “show me” presumes your appeal to something earlier than Paul. And yet, Roman Catholic appeals to the later fathers and councils will not allow Protestants to appeal to something earlier, say Paul.

    So I am pointing out that your “show me” does not a paradigm make. Sometimes your development of doctrine works from earlier to later, and sometimes the other way.

  36. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Jason Stellman said in #19: Andrew, I spelled out the causal element already, with cool little arrows and everything. What about that do you disagree with?

    Jason,

    I lost Internet connection in the airport I was in last night and just getting back to this. Your arrow schema in #17 was thus:

    Justification by faith working through love –> love fulfills the law –> love is the fruit of the Spirit –> we are to walk in the Spirit –> walking in (or sowing to) the Spirit reaps the reward of everlasting life.

    OK, so you are saying that the command to walk in the Spirit necessitates that this Spirit walking is used by God to obtain our salvation (justification)? Am I stating this right? If so then I just don’t see that there is a connection. Why would the fact that we are commanded to obey certain principles mean that God uses this obedience to obtain our justification?

  37. August 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Darryl,

    Jason, your “show me” presumes your appeal to something earlier than Paul. And yet, Roman Catholic appeals to the later fathers and councils will not allow Protestants to appeal to something earlier, say Paul.

    So I am pointing out that your “show me” does not a paradigm make. Sometimes your development of doctrine works from earlier to later, and sometimes the other way.

    As Andrew has argued, the table of contents in our Bibles does not reflect the chronological order of when the books were written, meaning that gospel writers could very well have imbibed Paul’s works before penning their accounts of Jesus life and teachings.

    But earlier or later has nothing to do with it. Something resembling the imputation of alien righteousness should be present outside of two letters of Paul if that doctrine is indeed the sine qua non of the gospel.

    If you want you could bite the bullet and say that God revealed it to no NT writer before Paul, that God revealed it to no NT writer besides Paul, and that God then hid it from everyone in church history until Martin Luther, but if you go that route you’ll have to excuse me for expecting you to prove that position, or at least show that it’s plausible.

    The (Augustinian) paradigm I set forth has much more explanatory value, since it can be identified in all its basic features on the lips, or from the quills, of all the NT players.

  38. August 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Andrew,

    OK, so you are saying that the command to walk in the Spirit necessitates that this Spirit walking is used by God to obtain our salvation (justification)? Am I stating this right? If so then I just don’t see that there is a connection. Why would the fact that we are commanded to obey certain principles mean that God uses this obedience to obtain our justification?

    I am saying that there is a progression in Paul’s thought in these two chapters, such if you just sit down and read them through, you can’t miss it:

    “If you want to be justified, circumcision won’t cut it, so to speak. You need to be justified by faith working through love.”

    “Why is ‘love’ necessary?”

    “Because love fulfills the law.”

    “How to do we get that?

    “It’s the fruit of the Spirit.”

    “Oh. So what’s required of us then?”

    “To walk in the Spirit.”

    “And why must we do that?”

    “Because if you sow to the Spirit you will reap eternal life.”

    (A n d … scene!)

    Hence the irony. The very law-keeping that the Jews thought they could accomplish by the letter, God makes possible by the Spirit who sheds forth the love of God in our hearts. So faith alone is by definition dead faith, it is only living if it is formed by love (just like a body is only living if it is indwelt by a soul), thus if I have all faith so that I can move mountains, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

  39. johnbugay said,

    August 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    As a point of method, brought up earlier, Larry Hurtado gives a number of reasons why a study of Paul’s letters gives us a better understanding of the earliest church’s beliefs and practices – including its earliest leadership and authority structures – than other New Testament documents:

    1. Pauline Christianity is the earliest form of the Christian movement to which we have direct access from undisputed firsthand sources.

    2. Paul’s letters, which are addressed to Christian circles already established and operative in the 50s, also incorporate and reflect emergent Christian traditions of belief and religious practice from still earlier years.

    3. Paul’s own associations with Christian circles, which include important Jewish Christian figures such as Peter, James the brother of Jesus, Barnabas, and others, go back to his conversion, which is to be dated approximately 32-34, and so his acquaintance with beliefs and practices of Christian circles is both wide and extremely early.

    4. Several of Paul’s letters reflect disagreements between him and other Christians, in particular some Jewish Christians with different views of the terms for full acceptance of Gentile converts, making Paul’s writings our earliest and most unambiguous evidence that there was a certain diversity of beliefs and groups in the earliest decades of Christianity, and also our best indications of the nature of this diversity and whatever commonality linked the groups.

    5. The Christ-devotion attested in Paul’s letters amounts to a notable development in the history of religions, especially when set in the context of the Jewish religious tradition and the larger Roman-era religious environment, and his letters exhibit this development as having already taken place at a remarkably early point in the young Christian movement.

    6. Finally, the place of Christ in the Pauline letters also anticipates, represents, and likely helped to promote the Christological beliefs and devotional practices that came to be widely characteristic in Christian groups after Paul.

    From Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, ©2003).

  40. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    D.G.,

    I don’t disregard the Orthodox churches, nor do I take lightly their claim to be the one Church that Christ founded. You can read this post to get a glimpse of my appreciation of one of the complications introduced by this complicated schism.

    Sean,

    The Magisterium, in its ordinary teaching capacity, has repeatedly over the past century and up to the present day expressed itself on the subject of biblical exegesis. You can go to this link to get a sense of the lie of the land. You can read the Magisterial document referred to that post to gain some understanding of the position of the Church regarding higher critical methods of Bible interpretation.

    The Church’s charisms of teaching, governing, and sanctifying do not extend so far as to compel assent; thus, there have always been dissenters in the Church. If you think that the Church has been too slow to clean house, that is fine, but realize that the objective body of Magisterial teaching on Sacred Scripture exists, together with the Church’s long-standing interpretive traditions received from the Ancient and Medieval fathers, and these have not been fruitless–witness those Catholic academics and ordinary lay persons who receive the Church’s teaching concerning Sacred Scripture, along with her hermeneutical tradition, with joy and to great spiritual benefit.

    There have been, and perhaps in some places still are, dissenters teaching in the universities (this is indisputable) and even seminaries, but before we simply take for granted your broad brush characterization of Catholic seminaries up to 1992, as to the association with the radical conclusions and methodologies of the Jesus Seminar, it would be good to see the data upon which you are basing your claims.

    Andrew

  41. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    John B.,

    You quoted Hurtado:

    Paul’s own associations with Christian circles, which include important Jewish Christian figures such as Peter, James the brother of Jesus, Barnabas, and others, go back to his conversion, which is to be dated approximately 32-34, and so his acquaintance with beliefs and practices of Christian circles is both wide and extremely early.

    How far back goes the associations with Christian circles of Peter, James, Matthew, and John?

  42. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    In the first paragraph of my reply to Sean (#40), the first part of the third sentence should read:

    “You can read the Magisterial document*s* referred to *in* that post …”

  43. sean said,

    August 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Andrew,

    Just from my own experience there was OST(oblate school of theology), and the priestly formation center at the USD campus which was the diocesan center for San Diego, Ca. My prof’s, most multiple post grad degrees, were Notre Dame, OST, Cal-Berkeley, University of Dallas-believe that was Fr. Pachence at USD. Fr. Whitley was Cal-Berkeley, they sent him off to the Vatican to try to figure out the banking fiasco(no joke, Whitley was brilliant). Our Lady of The lake, Incarnate Word university, most have priestly formation centers where they don’t have seminaries or they put them through novitiates. From what I understand it doesn’t get better as we go East. They all taught higher critical method as a deconstructionist hermenuetic of sacred scripture. Didn’t matter whether it was Texas or the West coast, I’m not as familiar with the Northeast or midwest.

    Here’s an article about one of my own profs., he’s got a chair now at OST

    http://www.satodayscatholic.com/041009_OblateSchool.aspx

  44. Bryan Cross said,

    August 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    D.G. (re: #35,

    You wrote:

    And yet, Roman Catholic appeals to the later fathers and councils will not allow Protestants to appeal to something earlier, say Paul. … Sometimes your development of doctrine works from earlier to later, and sometimes the other way.

    Just in case there is some misunderstanding, Catholic appeals to church fathers and councils do not forbid Protestants appealing to anyone or anything, including appeals to the writings of St. Paul. From a Catholic point of view, not all such appeals are equally authoritative regarding the content and explication of sacred doctrine, but they are not forbidden.

    Also, in Catholic theology development of doctrine only takes place from earlier to later. Of course it clarifies what was held earlier, but that’s quite different from the notion that doctrine develops from later to earlier.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  45. johnbugay said,

    August 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Andrew Preslar 41: How far back goes the associations with Christian circles of Peter, James, Matthew, and John?

    Paul was converted just about a year after the resurrection, so it is ust a couple of years earlier.

  46. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Bryan (#44): Catholic appeals to church fathers and councils do not forbid Protestants appealing to anyone or anything, including appeals to the writings of St. Paul.

    Well, of course they don’t forbid them. They just ignore them as ‘just your own private interpretation.’

  47. sean said,

    August 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Well Andrew if you’d actually read your own link, there would have been no need to question the veracity of my claims, but thanks for the goodwill and ‘charity’ on the issue. The link absolutely substantiates my claim, which you already knew.

    “The official reconstitution of the PBC distances the Biblical Commission from the Magisterium, and is reflective of a growing divergence between the interpretive opinions of many Catholic exegetes and the definitive doctrines of the Catholic Church. For the past generation or so, an uneasy truce, and in some cases an outright antagonism, has existed between the Catholic faith and Catholic biblical scholarship. This tension has been the subject of much reflection at the highest levels of the Church, including the 2003 document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “On the Relationship Between Magisterim and Exegetes.”

    Like I said, it’s a dicey unity, particularly when the priests being trained by the questionable biblical exegetes are in turn training the parishioners in the faith.

    You do have the Mass.

  48. August 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Jason, in #38 you said:

    ““If you want to be justified, circumcision won’t cut it, so to speak. You need to be justified by faith working through love.”

    “Why is ‘love’ necessary?”

    “Because love fulfills the law.”

    “How to do we get that?

    “It’s the fruit of the Spirit.”

    “Oh. So what’s required of us then?”

    “To walk in the Spirit.”

    “And why must we do that?”

    “Because if you sow to the Spirit you will reap eternal life.”

    (A n d … scene!)

    Hence the irony. The very law-keeping that the Jews thought they could accomplish by the letter, God makes possible by the Spirit who sheds forth the love of God in our hearts. So faith alone is by definition dead faith, it is only living if it is formed by love (just like a body is only living if it is indwelt by a soul), thus if I have all faith so that I can move mountains, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

    ————————————————-

    But back in chapter 3 Paul had already said, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith [or "the hearing of faith"]? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (v.2-3).

    So the Spirit gives us new life, writes the law of God on our hearts, and enables us to fulfill the law (although not perfectly). But we receive the Spirit by “the hearing of faith.” The horse (faith) goes before the cart (love/works).

    And then, of course, we have v.6 where Paul quotes Genesis 15:6. How did Abraham attain righteousness? Not by faith working through love (sanctification), but by faith – he “believed God, and it [i.e.believing] was counted to him as righteousness.”

  49. jsm52 said,

    August 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Andy,

    You should have been a director. Maybe you are!

    Faith working through love used as Rome’s definition of how sinners are justified boils down to – those who become sanctified (works of love) will be justified. Christ plus… Exactly what Paul argues against in Galatians.

  50. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 17, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    “If you want to be justified, circumcision won’t cut it, so to speak. You need to be justified by faith working through love.”

    Jason (38),

    In your discussion here you are noting the fact that justification and love (the end of the law) are inextricably intertwined. And I would agree, we are justified by a living faith not a dead one. Your last line in your series of quotes is “Because if you sow to the Spirit you will reap eternal life.”. And sure we agree, only those who sow the Spirit will reap eternal life. But that’s your last line. Why? Why don’t you go on to say that this sowing of the Spirit, this love demonstrated to God as the end of the law, is partially used by God to justify us. That’s what you are trying to prove in the end, right?

    You are noting in the passages you quote that faith and love/works go hand in hand. But you are trying to make the case that they are not just closely associated, but more than this, that one causes the other. Now a logician might point out to you that you are in danger of committing cum hoc ergo proper hoc. A statistician might warm you that correlation does not necessitate causality. You have noted that love and justification cannot be separated, but are you sure that the verses you cite really demonstrate causality? Or do they just demonstrate correlation?

  51. Bryan Cross said,

    August 17, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Andy, (re: #48)

    The horse (faith) goes before the cart (love/works).

    From a Catholic point of view, what the Holy Spirit infuses into the heart (Rom 5:5) is not an *act* of love by those who receive it. Rather, the persons described in Rom 5:5 receive the virtue of agape, and a virtue is not an act. The “love/works” conflation, by assuming that love is to be placed in the “works” category, implicitly presupposes that there is no such thing as agape as a supernaturally infused *virtue.* If living faith is the supernaturally infused virtue of faith informed by the supernaturally infused virtue of agape, then living faith precedes all *acts* of agape, but does not precede the *virtue* of agape, because living faith is constituted, in part, by the virtue of agape, and therefore cannot precede the virtue of agape.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  52. jsm52 said,

    August 17, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Bryan,

    Where in Romans or Galatians (to mention two epistles of Paul) is love explicitly defined or described as a virtue infused in the believer?

    I can understand that I have Christ within through his Spirit. That God’s love in Christ has been shed abroad in my heart. I can understand I am now alive to God through the death and resurrection of Christ, through faith in him. I can understand I have been given a new heart and will inclined to God that cherishes his righteousness, desiring to live unto him.

    Can you point to the biblical references for love as a virtue infused in believers?

  53. Bryan Cross said,

    August 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    John B (re: #26),

    When Protestants argue directly from Scripture and the church fathers to rebut the claims of Rome, you say that’s not allowed: it’s “question-begging” because our interpretations of the historical evidence are paradigm-dependent – dependent on “sola Scriptura”.

    I’ve never said that Protestants aren’t allowed to argue from Scripture. I have pointed out ways in which uniquely Protestant notions are typically presupposed in the methods in which some Protestants appeal to Scripture to argue against Catholic claims.

    As I’ve mentioned to you before, the most helpful way to avoid accidentally misconstruing what I say, is always to quote me when claiming that I’ve said something, rather than attributing to me an interpretation you took from something I wrote.

    But if you are going to go that route in response to Protestant critics, to disallow Scriptural and historical evidence, then you have engaged in a double standard now in lodging evidentiary appeals to Scripture regarding Justification.

    Now that it is clear that I have never “disallowed Scriptural and historical evidence,” it should be clear that there is no basis for the “double standard” charge.

    In invoking the Greek of Galatians, you have taken your “interpretive paradigm” off the table, and have now, in effect, begun to argue “sola Scriptura” in favor of your view of justification. Interesting twist.

    Making use of the Greek, and engaging in Scriptural exegesis does not entail taking my interpretive paradigm “off the table.” On the contrary, I presented (in comment #9) an interpretation of the biblical evidence deeply informed by the broader Catholic interpretive paradigm.

    Nor does arguing from Scripture presuppose sola scriptura, because arguing from Scripture does not per se presuppose anything about the authority of the Magisterium or the Tradition. Only when the authority of the Magisterium or Tradition is denied, either explicitly or implicitly, in one’s arguments from Scripture would one be presupposing sola scriptura.

    If you can cite direct evidence in favor of your view of justification, … then you certainly must also cite your direct evidence for the papacy

    Except that that conclusion does not follow from your premise. Just because I argue for x, does not mean that I “certainly must” do anything.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  54. August 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Sean,

    Not only did I read the material to which I linked, I actually wrote it. But you could have at least assumed that I’d read it, before responding as you did in #47. So much for good will and charity, indeed. To be fair, you guys don’t usually make much of an effort to bring those qualities to the table in the first place, so I guess that I’ll just grant you the snark.

    Moving on:

    I have acknowledged in my previous comments that there have been and still are dissenters teaching biblical studies in Catholic schools and seminaries. When I asked for data to substantiate your claims, I was quite specific: “… but before we simply take for granted your broad brush characterization of Catholic seminaries up to 1992, as to the association with the radical conclusions and methodologies of the Jesus Seminar, it would be good to see the data upon which you are basing your claims.”

    There are distinctions within the guild of scholars who rely upon higher critical methodologies. The Jesus Seminary represents the radical end of the spectrum. So, when I ask you to support the claim that “the higher-critical method taught post Vat II, challenged the very historicity of Jesus Christ and even brought into play Jesus Seminar conclusions …” it does not suffice to refer to Catholic scholars practicing higher critical exegesis.

    Again, there is no doubt that destructive higher criticism has made inroads in Catholic scholarship, and this certainly has an untoward, trickle-down effect. But as I have already pointed out, the guild of biblical scholars is not the Magisterium, and for that reason, along with the Mass (which as you correctly indicate, we have), the Catholic Church has not fragmented into micro-denominations as did Protestantism, after Protestant scholars were given over to destructive criticism of the Bible.

    And that is a distinction with a difference.

    Andrew

  55. August 17, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    John B. (re #45),

    Do you mean the couple of years that those men spent with Christ, day in and day out? If wide and early acquaintance is a criteria for “better understanding of the early church’s beliefs and practices,” then Paul ranks lower on the scale than do the other Apostles. Thus, your point in #39 fails its own test, re the relative weight given to Paul compared to other NT writers. Time to take up the Gospels and the Catholic Epistles!

    Andrew

  56. dgh said,

    August 17, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Jason, earlier or later has nothing to do with it? Have you been reading CTC posts lately?

  57. dgh said,

    August 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Andrew, so how is your conundrum of choosing Rome over Constantinople any different from choosing Geneva over Wittenberg? You resolve this by saying you choose The Church? I can imagine an Orthodox Christian saying, “you missed.”

  58. August 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    DGH,

    Of course an Orthodox Christian would say or think that. So would an Orthodox Jew, in response to my resolution to remain a Christian rather than convert to Judaism, after having wrestled with the conundrum of the relation of Jesus of Nazareth to the Hebrew Bible.

    Andrew

  59. August 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    To answer your question: The differences between choosing between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, and choosing between a Calvinist denomination and a Lutheran denomination include: (1) Both of the former claim to be the Church that Christ founded. (2) In a closely related matter, “Rome” and “Constantinople” each represent, in different ways, one actual, visible body of Christians. This is not the case for either “Geneva” or “Wittenburg.” (3) Both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church stand in material continuity with the Apostles, by the succession of bishops. Lutheran and Calvinist denominations were founded by their namesakes in the 16th century, and your own denomination, out the plethora of Reformed denominations, was founded in 1936.

  60. sean said,

    August 17, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Andrew,

    I get that you wrote it. You also knew the landscape well enough to not require me to ‘show my hand’. That was bush. Yes, there is a spectrum and yes, I agree, Jesus seminar is an extreme, but the seminaries, particularly at the time were not exhibiting much variety. The whole ‘traditionalist’ movement is fairly new and though there may be now ‘pockets’ of conservatism, CTC and the like are on the outside looking in at most of the american catholic world. Dissenters my foot, more like majority opinion.

  61. sean said,

    August 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Andrew,

    I take that back, maybe you don’t know it well enough. That would explain it better

  62. jsm52 said,

    August 17, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Andrew,

    Which is to say your model of Christ’s church is an outward one, a visible church ala the nation of Israel.

    Rather, our citizenship is in heaven. A doctrine is not of this world, nor recognized by the world. You rest in succession of physical laying of hands and interpretations of history. We rest in succession of doctrine and Christ Jesus alone… that reaches back to the New Testament… to the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles.

    No, the churches of the reformation have a lineage that didn’t begin at Wittenberg. We identify with the church of 300AD, 700AD, 1300AD as our church… gradually going off course, finally coming to a head, in God’s time, in the early part of the 16th century.

  63. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Sean,

    Requiring you to substantiate a specific claim is not “bush,” though making unsubstantiated claims might be. Dissent from Catholic doctrine is not measured by “majority opinon,” because Catholic doctrine is not defined by the majority, but by the Magisterium.

    Regarding CTC, that stands for “called to communion,” communion not simply with “the american catholic world,” but with the worldwide Catholic Church of all ages. Each member of our project is very much on the inside of the Catholic Church in America. For example: I go to Mass each Sunday, participate in parish Bible studies, and engage in a variety of diocesan activities. These are not pockets or movements, but parishes and people, under the pastoral care of the local bishop, in full communion with the bishop of Rome.

    You seem to be having trouble making up your mind as to whether I “know the landscape well enough.” Well, you can read my article again, or you can point out some crucial fact that I am overlooking, in my response to your increasingly careless claims.

    Andrew

  64. sean said,

    August 17, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Andrew,

    It’s bush if you already know it to be the case. Which your article substantiates that you in fact do, or do you reason that the magisterium cut off it’s biblical arm, and over the very reasons I cited, just because……. I appreciate that you have the Mass, I’ve argued that from jump, and they are ‘pockets’ in the larger landscape, though I imagine in anglo-catholic communities it seems the norm.

  65. August 18, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I am perplexed by those who would give a priority to the Gospels over the Pauline epistles when constructing a doctrine of justification. We don’t even expect to find a full Christology or Triadology in the Gospel narratives, we find a fuller reflection and more direct exposition of those doctrines in the epistles. Setting aside the authors’ narration, we mostly find cryptic, round-about comments from Jesus on his own divinity (e.g. Mark 12:35-37) with precious few direct “ego eimi” moments. Similarly with justification, we find only one instance of justification being mentioned by name (Luke 18, a common Protestant proof-text), and so there is an exegetical burden of proof to establish that the *concept* is present in other places throughout the Gospels. Starting with, for instance, cryptic parables is an incredibly weak place to start as a doctrinal foundation. But we can find justification, both the word and the concept, found many times in Paul in direct didactic exposition.

    I sense that some Romanists cannot accept that Jesus would have said precious little on the instrument of justification and double imputation. But ought we really be surprised? Jesus spent His time pointing people to the *object* of their faith, Himself, against the background of the OT messianic hope and sacrificial system. People were justified during Jesus’ ministry because they *practiced* sola fide, that is they cast all their hope on Jesus alone, not because they understood the mechanics of justification. Sola fide, propitiatory atonement, and double imputation, are all more self-conscious and self-reflective ways of understanding *how* Jesus saves, but this is not absolutely vital to understanding *that* Jesus saves, although it is vital to having a sound, worked-out theology.

    I mean, we don’t consign Piscator, Gataker, Vines, Twisse, and various Lutherans and Anglicans who do not accept double imputations to hell (although obviously they would agree with us on sola fide). And, indeed, we find many, uh, curious theories of the atonement from the ECFs, yet we do not doubt that they had true faith in Christ unto salvation. The object of their faith was the true Jesus Christ of the Scriptures, and this faith was the instrument of their justification.

  66. August 18, 2012 at 1:21 am

    @ jsm52: The whole “and scene!” thing was Jason. I was quoting his earlier post in this thread. The part that I wrote was below the dotted line.

  67. johnbugay said,

    August 18, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Andrew Preslar 58:

    Do you mean the couple of years that those men spent with Christ, day in and day out? If wide and early acquaintance is a criteria for “better understanding of the early church’s beliefs and practices,” then Paul ranks lower on the scale than do the other Apostles.

    First of all, you’re driving a wedge between Paul and the other Apostles, which is a no-no.

    Second, you misconstrue what is meant by “better understanding of the early church’s beliefs and practices.” Paul was a religiously-trained Pharisee. He knew, systematically, both his own beliefs at the time, and the Christian beliefs he opposed.

    Third, when he met the Glorified Lord, and was carried to the third heaven, he learned things the Twelve could not have known.

    Fourth, he consulted personally with the Apostles, and so he benefitted from their knowledge.

    Fifth, as a trained theologian of his times, he was able to put what the Lord told him directly, and what he saw, and what the other Apostles reported to him into a unique perspective.

    Sixth, he traveled widely, giving him access not only to the Jerusalem church, but churches across Asia and Europe.

    Finally, he wrote widely, letting us know the state of beliefs and practices in a wide swath of churches across the empire of that time.

    Both his direct statements and his incidental statements reveal huge amounts of information, and in some cases, this information is very clear and systematic. Peter doesn’t tell you what they believed in Corinth. Nor does James. John wrote much later.

    If you want to know what the earliest church believed and practiced, from, say 30 AD to 60 AD, the only source of information we have for those years is Paul.

  68. johnbugay said,

    August 18, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Bryan 53:

    Bryan: Nor does arguing from Scripture presuppose sola scriptura, because arguing from Scripture does not per se presuppose anything about the authority of the Magisterium or the Tradition. Only when the authority of the Magisterium or Tradition is denied, either explicitly or implicitly, in one’s arguments from Scripture would one be presupposing sola scriptura.

    JB: If you can cite direct evidence in favor of your view of justification, … then you certainly must also cite your direct evidence for the papacy.

    Bryan: Except that that conclusion does not follow from your premise. Just because I argue for x, does not mean that I “certainly must” do anything.

    Oh, my bad, I mean, only if you want to give the impression that you are trying to have an honest discussion, instead of looking for some way to stack the deck in favor of your own position.

    As it is, what you are doing (avoiding providing evidence of the early papacy) is special pleading.

  69. Bryan Cross said,

    August 18, 2012 at 7:08 am

    John B. (re: #68)

    An honest discussion is one in which no participant demands of another that he provide in a combox evidence that would fill books, when he has previously referred to books providing the requested evidence, regarding a question that is not on the topic of the present thread, and then accuses him of special pleading and “avoiding providing evidence” when he chooses not to comply with the demand. That’s sophistry, not honest discussion. And choosing not to participate in a discussion, whether on-topic or off-topic, is not special pleading.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  70. Ron said,

    August 18, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Re: 65

    Great post, David.

  71. johnbugay said,

    August 18, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Bryan 69, yours is always the first comment in one of these Green Baggins threads.

    You yourself come to a place where the papacy is rightly rejected, Roman authority is rightly rejected, and yet, you come here presupposing your “Catholic IP”, which itself is begging the question.

    My attempts to understand the terms of the discussion here is not “off topic”. Yours is what’s not “honest discussion” here.

  72. August 18, 2012 at 9:12 am

    David et al, that is well put in 65. I was going to say something about how the Gospel of John is Christological, but your second paragraph explained precisely my point.

    We shouldn’t try to bifurcate Paul and Jesus, my Romanist friends. Of course the former is God, and the latter is our very important father in the faith. We need to see how the books of the NT fit together as to what God is communicating to us.

    I was reading on Wikipedia that for Romanists, the pope is required in order to understand the Bible correctly (or maybe in case of conflict over how to interpret?).

    No thanks, for me, anyway. Maybe I can talk about that issue with the pope when he accepts my golf offer. He may have some interesting thing to share about how he reads his bible. But I’m not going to blindly accept his interpretation. Sure, I submit to my elders, but some guy in Italy? He doesn’t even know me or answer my calls for golf….boo hop.

    In any case, I thought the 900 or so comments about creation issues was impressive. Clearly the Rome / Geneva dialogue is another ongoing debate. Thanks to all you ‘big sluggers’ in the faith, for hashing these things out for all of us in the peanut gallery to see. Or to stay with me theme, I hear its exciting to see Tiger Woods in real life.

    If we can get 4 fellas to debate this is a real live debate and post to YouTube, I may watch that too, while i exercise and train for my 8k.

    Apologies as always,
    Andrew

  73. August 18, 2012 at 9:13 am

    *latter

  74. jsm52 said,

    August 18, 2012 at 11:19 am

    @Andy 66-

    Ah, the pitfalls of reading too quickly at work. But your comments at the end are what I was echoing.

    So, amen and thanks for highlighting the righteousness of God that comes through faith alone in Christ, His final word to be believed unto salvation.

  75. dgwired said,

    August 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Andrew, so your decision to go to Rome instead of Constantinople is still a decision that you made on the basis of your opinion about which church makes the true claim to be the true church. Your conversion fits the Protestant paradigm.

    As for Reformed churches there is none called by name Calvinist. Calvin was one among many pastors who ministered in Protestant communions that were not Lutheran.

    I’d say that our communions are true churches by virtue of the work of the Holy Spirit (manifested in preaching, sacraments, and discipline). Our continuity with Christ and the apostles is spiritual. Do you think we do not have the Spirit? Are we deluded? Are we unsaved? Heretics because of such a claim? We admit that other churches are part of the true church even if deformed in important ways. It seems to me you have no room for such ecumenicity. I know Vatican II has tried to remedy this. But it used to be a doctrinal teaching (therefore infallible) that no salvation was possible outside fellowship with Rome. It seems to me you’re in a bit of a dilemma.

  76. johnbugay said,

    August 18, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Bryan 69:

    …when he has previously referred to books providing the requested evidence…

    The fact that you offer this, as a serious response, is in itself is just further evidence of the weakness of your position.

    You have to know this. You have to be aware, you coming here are very much like the emperor with no clothes on.

    Most of the folks here are too kind to tell you this. Or is it a kindness? Is it not more kind to tell you that you are a fool, and you really need to re-think everything that you stand for?

  77. August 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    John (re #67),

    “Better understanding” was your phrase, and it implies a comparison and gradation, as between Paul and the other NT writers. If that counts as “driving a wedge,” then you are the one doing the driving. As it stands, however, exploring the relations between Paul and the Gospels in the overall harmony of NT theology is not driving a wedge. So your claim is empty rhetoric, baseless, and beside the point.

    The argument that you are making in #67 is different than the excerpt of Hutardo’s argument that you offered in #39. The latter depended upon the nearness of Paul to the early Church. I responded by pointing out the Paul was not present at Pentecost, and his presence in the very earliest days of the Church was that of an outsider and a persecutor; i.e., as Saul. Peter, Matthew, and John, on the other hand, were there from the beginning. So the argument that we can glean “better understanding” from Paul, as compared to the other NT writers, of Christian origins and identity cannot be sustained on the grounds of nearness to the origin of the Christian religion.

    Moving on to your new points:

    2. On the other hand, the other Apostles knew our Lord himself, and spent years being directly taught by him. If you want to make comparisons (and, by your own logic, drive wedges), then I would say that that instruction trumps Saul’s training as a Pharisee.

    3. Each Apostle, at least the ones whose writings have been preserved, had his own distinctive understanding and appreciation of the “Christ-event.” The NT features a medley of voices. St. John knew things the St. Paul did not know, and so forth. Be careful about driving that wedge between Paul and the rest.

    4. But of course. And vice versa. See above.

    5. Ibid.

    6. Certainly. But he was not travelling, as a general rule, to where churches already existed that had been planted by other Apostles. He was bringing something that already existed (from before his own inclusion) to those places, and establishing local churches in communion with the one Church that Christ founded.

    7. Your final point indicates one of the primary reasons why St. Paul’s letters are of such interest to the historian of Christian origins. I simply don’t take the higher critical point of view, i.e., that the Gospels and Acts, being later compositions, are less significant in this regard. Thus I reject your concluding statement as an unwarranted bit of skepticism. Christ himself is the source and origin, the chief corner-stone, of the Church.

    Andrew

  78. August 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    D.G.,

    In a sense, yes, I had to make a choice between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, just as folks who come to believe in God, and seek to enter into a religious communion of fellow theists have to make a choice between becoming a Christian or joining another theistic religion making absolute claims that are at critical points incompatible with the Christian faith.

    Neither move presupposes the Protestant paradigm. As I understand it, the distinctive features of that paradigm is that in every case involving a disputed interpretation of divine revelation, the individual’s final authority, his last court of appeal, is his own interpretation. Thus, the paradigm applies to intramural dynamics, not to the dynamic of choosing between religions, which involves comparing various paradigms with one another.

    There is no dilemma, as between the teaching of Vatican II regarding separated brethren, and the teaching of earlier councils and popes regarding salvation “extra ecclesiam.” Vatican II simply points out the there is a sense in which non-Catholics might and do in fact participate in the life of the Catholic Church, and so are not completely outside her, and thus not cut off from the hope of salvation.

    Andrew

  79. dgh said,

    August 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Andrew, great, you get to define paradigms and ours comes up short. But always in the peace of Christ.

    So Vatican II did what the mainline churches had done 30 years earlier, recognized that God’s truth was at work in other religions. Now that’s not a great way to maintain continuity with Christ and the early church fathers.

  80. Bob S said,

    August 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    53

    When Protestants argue directly from Scripture and the church fathers to rebut the claims of Rome, you say that’s not allowed: it’s “question-begging” because our interpretations of the historical evidence are paradigm-dependent – dependent on “sola Scriptura”.

    I’ve never said that Protestants aren’t allowed to argue from Scripture. I have pointed out ways in which uniquely Protestant notions are typically presupposed in the methods in which some Protestants appeal to Scripture to argue against Catholic claims.

    Here we see the genuine Called To Comedy reasoning at work.
    IOW the gentleman is telling us that Paul in 2 Tim. 3:15-17 acknowledges that not only was Timothy a cradle catholic that knew about the infallible magisterium from his childhood, but the same inspired magisterium is so profitable that Timothy is perfected unto every good work of doctrine, correction and instruction in righteousness, to the end that only the most inveterate bigot and ignoramus could quarrel about it. (And they know who they are.)

    As I’ve mentioned to you before, the most helpful way to avoid accidentally misconstruing what I say, is always to quote me when claiming that I’ve said something, rather than attributing to me an interpretation you took from something I wrote.

    Fair enough, see below.

    Nor does arguing from Scripture presuppose sola scriptura, because arguing from Scripture does not per se presuppose anything about the authority of the Magisterium or the Tradition. Only when the authority of the Magisterium or Tradition is denied, either explicitly or implicitly, in one’s arguments from Scripture would one be presupposing sola scriptura.

    No mention of course of what Scripture explicitly itself says regarding the infallibility and sufficiency of . . . . Scripture. Which essentially denies the infallibility and sufficiency of the Magisterium/Tradition. After all, that is the definition of sufficiency – that nothing else is needed.

    Unless Humpty Dumpty is infallible and words mean just what we want them to mean. Then all bets are off and Alice in Wonderland is really an apocryphal gospel written by a rogue nun/CtC secretary.

    Of course the come back is, Scripture does not explicitly deny the infallibility and sufficiency of M/T, consequently they can co-reign in peace – this paradigm of course, is only mentioned by the M/T – of which oddly enough(?) infallible Scripture completely fails to mention.

    But what is written is written, not only in Scripture, but by our interlocutor, dead pan though he be.

    Except that that conclusion does not follow from your premise. Just because I argue for x, does not mean that I “certainly must” do anything.

    Correction. Just because you assert x doesn’t mean you have to do anything. Yet in that all men have reasonable souls, a genuine and consistent argument is expected from one’s hearers if one expects his argument to prevail.

    Unless we are talking about an implicit and blind faith in holy mother Rome with her infallible magisterium and tradition. In which case we can’t do more than second the Red Queen: “Off with their heads”.

    cordially

  81. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    D.G.,

    Regarding continuity between V2 and the Fathers on the question of the salvation of persons not formally Christians, here are some relevant tidbits:

    St. Justin Martyr (d.c. 165)

    Those who lived according to Logos are Christians, even if they were considered atheists, as among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus. {Apology, I, 46}

    St. Augustine

    From the beginning of the human race, whoever believed in Him and understood Him somewhat, and lived according to His precepts . . . whoever and wherever they may have been, doubtless were saved through him. {Epistle 102, 12}

  82. August 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Or this one:

    “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

    (Peter)

  83. johnbugay said,

    August 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Andrew Preslar #77:

    “Better understanding” was your phrase, and it implies a comparison and gradation, as between Paul and the other NT writers.

    Right, and what do you know of the church of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s from any document other than Acts or possibly James? Where else do you get details about practice and belief? And in such a large measure as you get from Paul?

    If that counts as “driving a wedge,” then you are the one doing the driving. As it stands, however, exploring the relations between Paul and the Gospels in the overall harmony of NT theology is not driving a wedge.

    You are quite far away from having an adequate understanding of what I am doing. I’ve written about this before, and have a long paper trail. You look for “an interpretation of Scripture”, failing to realize that Scripture itself is God’s “interpretation” of his own acts in history.

    “Exegesis” is the “making known” of what’s in the text. In John 1:18, Carson notes, “This Word-made-flesh, himself God, … has made God known. … John declares that the incarnate Word made him known (ἐξηγήσατο, exegesato). From this Greek term we derive ‘exegesis’: we might almost say that Jesus is the exegesis of God” (“The Gospel According to John”, ©1991, pg 135).

    Geerhardus Vos clarifies, “Biblical Theology is that branch of Exegetical Theology which deals with the process of the self-revelation of God deposited in the Bible.” (Biblical Theology, pg 5).

    So according to Vos, the main features of Biblical Theology are that it unfolds “the historic progressiveness of the revelation-process”. Revelation itself, the Scriptures themselves, are “the interpretation” of God’s process of redemption. “The facts of history themselves” (for example, the crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ) have a real significance. But the acts of redemption “did not take place primarily for the purpose of revelation; their revelatory character is secondary; primarily they possess a purpose that transcends revelation, having a God-ward reference in their effect, and only in dependence on this a man-ward reference for instruction. … Such act-revelations are never entirely left to speak for themselves; they are preceded and followed by word-revelation” (Vos, pgs 6-7). Thus, God gives prophecies of what he will do; then he performs the acts in history, and, especially in the New Testament, he gives us his interpretation of them in Scripture.

    What this means in the context of Roman Catholic discussions is that, when Roman Catholics say that you “need an interpreter” for Scripture, they are really saying that God’s own revelation, his own “interpretation”, in the writing down of the significance of the “acts” of revelation, is not sufficient. God is incapable of telling us what He intends to tell us, and he needs their “infallible” help.

    Thus, Paul’s letters are God’s interpretation of the Redemptive acts that Christ Jesus performed. And his analysis of “justification” in Jewish history (in the books of Romans and Galatians) are quite reflective of what he was teaching in the churches in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. In “the Church that Christ Founded™”.

    You are the one who placed Paul “lower on the scale than do the other apostles” (#55).

    As David G. said in 65, “we find a fuller reflection and more direct exposition of those doctrines in the epistles”. The key is, these are different aspects of the same thing, like looking at the facets of a diamond from different angles. Scripture interprets Scripture.

    More to follow

  84. dghart said,

    August 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Andrew, I guess the bishops at Trent hadn’t read the fathers. Nor Archbishop Piccolomini when he placed Galileo under house arrest.

  85. dghart said,

    August 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Jason, so Peter was a universalist, or simply figuring out that he wasn’t infallible when he refused to eat with the gentiles?

  86. August 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    No, he just agreed with Augustine (or, the other way around).

  87. johnbugay said,

    August 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Andrew Preslar #77, following up on my comments in #83:

    The argument that you are making in #67 is different than the excerpt of Hutardo’s argument that you offered in #39.

    I am adding to it. I stand by what I said in #39. There are more reasons to do so than what I related there… “a study of Paul’s letters gives us a better understanding of the earliest church’s beliefs and practices – including its earliest leadership and authority structures – than other New Testament documents”. The purpose of the Gospels is to show us the life of Christ. Not primarily what the earliest church believed or practiced.

    Moving on to your new points:

    2. On the other hand, the other Apostles knew our Lord himself, and spent years being directly taught by him. If you want to make comparisons (and, by your own logic, drive wedges), then I would say that that instruction trumps Saul’s training as a Pharisee.

    You here have already missed a bunch. Paul had theological training as a Pharisee. It’s true, he did not spend three years with “the Lord Himself”. But he spent time with “the Lord in Heaven”. And you are not in any position to know what trumps what at this point.

    And Paul was out teaching and forming churches in the 40’s and 50’s, and what he was teaching was (a) theologically structured, the way that Romans and Galatians are structured, for example, and in the scheme of things, in no way “trumped” by what came as writings in the Gospel.

    3. Each Apostle, at least the ones whose writings have been preserved, had his own distinctive understanding and appreciation of the “Christ-event.” The NT features a medley of voices. St. John knew things the St. Paul did not know, and so forth. Be careful about driving that wedge between Paul and the rest.

    I am not in any way driving wedges. But what I am doing is showing how Paul’s teaching fit into the scheme of “the Church that Christ Founded™, which you claim to know by what reason? How do you know what the church was teaching in the 30’s and 40’s and 50’s? Certainly you don’t know anything at all about this time apart from the Scriptures. Because it is Paul who traveled and founded new churches and taught them systematically the same things we see written down in his letters (Galatians and Romans for example), in the manner that I outlined in my previous comment (83).

    6. Certainly. But [Paul] was not travelling, as a general rule, to where churches already existed that had been planted by other Apostles. He was bringing something that already existed (from before his own inclusion) to those places, and establishing local churches in communion with the one Church that Christ founded.

    As noted above, Paul was a Systematic Theologian in his day, and as he traveled founding new churches, the message he was giving them was what you find in Galatians and Romans.

    Jason Stellman was discounting Pauline justification because he found it only in two letters of Paul’s. But Paul’s two letters are plenty sufficient for this explication that he provides. The right way to understand Paul is to take him at his word, not to try to force Paul’s doctrine of justification into later Roman Catholic thought. What you are trying to do is to force later traditions back on to Paul’s words. That type of practice is condemned in Matthew 15.

    7. Your final point indicates one of the primary reasons why St. Paul’s letters are of such interest to the historian of Christian origins. I simply don’t take the higher critical point of view, i.e., that the Gospels and Acts, being later compositions, are less significant in this regard. Thus I reject your concluding statement as an unwarranted bit of skepticism. Christ himself is the source and origin, the chief corner-stone, of the Church.

    Nor do I take “the higher critical point of view”. But in terms of the timeline of “the Church that Christ Founded™”, we do have actual, systematic teachings of what was taught by that church in that era, right after Christ founded it, in Paul’s letters. We may date Paul’s teachings to the 30’s and 40’s and 50’s. The Gospels were later writings and incorporating different facets of the Revelatory acts of God in creation that dealt with matters other than what Paul was dealing with. Paul was telling people how justification works, in a systematic way. The other New Testament writings may or may not have dealt with that topic in less systematic ways, but of course they must be found to be in agreement with what Paul had been teaching in “the Church that Christ Founded™”.

  88. isaiah said,

    August 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Just read through Gal. 5 & 6 with Jason’s synopsis in mind. I think it fits very well. Specifically, vss. 8 & 9:

    For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

    It seems clear to me that Paul has presented two different possibilities:
    a) going the way of flesh, which, earlier in Galatians and other places, Paul associates with following the (Mosaic) Law, and leads to death, or
    b) following the law of the Spirit and of Christ (cf. v. 2), which leads to eternal life.

    Choosing option b. means starting with faith in Christ and His work on the Cross and accomplishing ourselves (through God’s grace) the work of agape-righteousness, which has been poured out in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). Of course, none of this is possible without the Son of God’s incarnation and redemption by death on the Cross.

    And that, as I understand it, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    isaiah.

  89. Bob S said,

    August 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    51 From a Catholic point of view, what the Holy Spirit infuses into the heart (Rom 5:5) is not an *act* of love by those who receive it. Rather, the persons described in Rom 5:5 receive the virtue of agape, and a virtue is not an act. The “love/works” conflation, by assuming that love is to be placed in the “works” category, implicitly presupposes that there is no such thing as agape as a supernaturally infused *virtue.* If living faith is the supernaturally infused virtue of faith informed by the supernaturally infused virtue of agape, then living faith precedes all *acts* of agape, but does not precede the *virtue* of agape, because living faith is constituted, in part, by the virtue of agape, and therefore cannot precede the virtue of agape.

    Oops. Missed this one. Rome emphatically doesn’t do perspicuity. Got it.
    IOW scholastic obscurantism is eloquence, however opaque.

  90. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    JSM52 (#52): Where in Romans or Galatians (to mention two epistles of Paul) is love explicitly defined or described as a virtue infused in the believer?

    I can understand that I have Christ within through his Spirit. That God’s love in Christ has been shed abroad in my heart.

    This is an important point. Opening yet another front, it should be noted that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph 3.17), which language is universally understood to refer to the Holy Spirit.

    The fruit of the Spirit is love, among others; but “love” as a reified substance is never said in Scripture to dwell in us.

    So that raises the question: What is this “love” that is infused in us? For Protestants, the answer is clear. Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart by faith.

    Catholics, however, seem to speak of love as a reified substance or even as a synonym for the Spirit Himself.

  91. johnbugay said,

    August 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Bryan #51 (following on Bob S’s thought in 88):

    From a Catholic point of view, what the Holy Spirit infuses into the heart (Rom 5:5) is not an *act* of love by those who receive it. Rather, the persons described in Rom 5:5 receive the virtue of agape, and a virtue is not an act.

    Schreiner, Moo, Jewett, and “most” other commentators view the phrase “God’s love … poured out into our hearts” (“ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ”) “to be a subjective genitive, so that the phrase denotes God’s love for us” (contra Pelagius [de Bruyn, 1993:90]; Wright 1995; 45].

    Yes, Bryan, you and Wright have picked up the Pelagian meaning of this verse (from Pelagius’s Commentary on Romans).

    So we can trace, if not an actual “Pelagian” thread, something very close to it, through Philo, 1 Clement, Pelagius, Wright, and Bryan Cross.

    Maybe you can show us, from actual Roman Catholic doctrine, where “what the Holy Spirit infuses into the heart (Rom 5:5) is … a virtue”.

  92. Brad B said,

    August 18, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    “As noted above, Paul was a Systematic Theologian in his day, and as he traveled founding new churches, the message he was giving them was what you find in Galatians and Romans.”

    And when he was challenged, he reasoned from the scriptures and urged and praised others to do the same [showing confidence that the force of logic would prove him inspired]. In other words, Paul didn’t appeal to supernatural attestation of his interpretation, the Logos did it for him.

    His was not a paradigm shift apart from the Law and Prophets, the paradigm shift was personal, having received eyes to see what was hidden in plain sight from those who do not have the Spirit of God. Imputed righteousness didn’t offend Paul’s systematic understanding of the Word of God, or he would’ve reasoned from the scriptures [with the Spirit of God alongside] to a different conclusion and Romans and Galatians would bear it out.

  93. dgh said,

    August 18, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Jason, so Peter and Augustine were Protestant modernists? Trent sure wasn’t “can’t-we-all-get-along” (not to mention that your quote from Acts hardly does justice to what’s happening there when Peter gets his first taste of bacon.

  94. Bryan Cross said,

    August 19, 2012 at 12:02 am

    John B, (re: #90)

    In the case of participation in the divine nature, the hard line between obj gen and sub gen breaks down. Agape in us is a participation in God’s love for Himself and for us. So the two are not mutually exclusive.

    Pelagius viewed love for God as something man is capable of by nature, whereas in Catholic doctrine, agape is a supernatural virtue, which man cannot produce from himself or from the power of his own nature, but can only receive as a gratuitous gift of God. So it is not true that the Catholic doctrine of infused agape is Pelagian.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  95. Bob S said,

    August 19, 2012 at 1:44 am

    93. Regardless Bryan, the Roman gospel according to Trent is semi-pelagian, is it not? I seem to remember something about the Second Council of Orange in the 800’s.

    Yeah, I know. I’m asking the wrong person, but the more rope you give somebody, the more string they get to push into a straight line. Or a white lie. After all, those who asked where agape is taught in Scripture got 51 for a reply.

    Besides the Protestant criticism of Romanism is that it is synergistic, not monergistic. Man co-operates with God and his prevenient grace. Then through infusion of agape faith man performs the good works necessary to be judged righteous unto salvation. As above, while pelagians don’t require supernatural agape faith for good works, semi-pelagian synergists do. Yet to him that worketh salvation is not of grace, but a debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.Rom. 4:4,5.

    Further Christ’s work on the cross at Calvary is received automatically at baptism and only removes the stain of original sin. For sins after baptism, the mass (re-sacrifice of Christ), confession and penance are required, not to mention the extra biblical distinction of venial and mortal sins.

    On the other hand, monergism teaches that God graciously regenerates sinners dead in their trespasses who receive Christ’s imputed righteousness by faith and through the Holy Spirit working in them, can and do obey God out of gratitude. Yet their good works can add nothing to Christ’s work which saves them.

    All of this, I grant , is elementary and redundant, but sometimes that’s what it takes. If not, I am sure I will be apprized of it promptly enough.

  96. David Gadbois said,

    August 19, 2012 at 4:47 am

    As usual, Bryan’s bit of philosophizing and speculation in #93 does nothing to answer the exegetical question regarding whether or not Romans 5:5 is using a subjective genitive or not, or how one can establish that this passage has in mind his conception of agape as a virtue in us. It is his typical bit of evasion.

    While it is certainly true that love can be conceived of as a virtue or moral character within a man, as distinguished from acts of love, and both can be respectively in view in various parts of Scripture, for Paul it doesn’t particularly matter as far as justification is concerned. In Romans 4 the actions mirror the inward essence of the man, the “ungodly” in character is the one “who does not work” in deed, yet he is the one God declares righteous.

    Bryan said In the case of participation in the divine nature, the hard line between obj gen and sub gen breaks down. Agape in us is a participation in God’s love for Himself and for us.

    It is not the case that the line can be blurred between our love and God’s love, such that what can be predicated of the latter can be predicated of the former, nor that the “objective and subjective” distinction breaks down. Our “participation” in God’s love does not erase the creator/creature distinction, nor does the fact that our love is Spirit-wrought. Insofar as love is a virtue that characterizes a person, and created persons are not the divine tri-personal being, then the love of the Christian is distinguished from God’s love, regardless of the fact that the Christian love is a gift from God and reflects the character of God’s love. Bryan points out the similarity in the objects of love, “for Himself and for us.” Quite right, but the subject of Christian love is the Christian person, the subject of divine love is the Creator. Bryan is peddling ontological gibberish.

    Now did I really have to go through all of that to point out the obvious (at least, obvious to most dispassionate thinkers) regarding the fallacious nature of Bryan’s sophistry in attempting to blur these lines and distinctions? The answer is no.

    The answer is no because Bryan’s musings on the matter are entirely irrelevant. They are ad hoc bits of theologizing in an attempt to sustain his arguments that he presents as a self-appointed internet apologist who bears no office, nor imprimatur, nor any sanction from Rome. It just happens that the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches contrary to his earlier reasoning:

    From a Catholic point of view, what the Holy Spirit infuses into the heart (Rom 5:5) is not an *act* of love by those who receive it. Rather, the persons described in Rom 5:5 receive the virtue of agape, and a virtue is not an act.

    Ahh, but don’t take your eye off the ball, the Catechism teaches that it is our *acts* of love, and our good works more generally, and not just our loving character or virtue (as constituents of living faith) that merits justification:

    the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit….

    The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness….

    Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men.

    So Bryan can’t take the “out” of trying to sift agape into some non-works category in order to avoid the condemnation of St. Paul in his attempt to pary Andrew Schreiber’s point in #48. The Catechism says “yep, it’s good *works* that merit justification”, not simply good or loving virtues by which living faith is formed.

  97. johnbugay said,

    August 19, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Bryan 93:

    In the case of participation in the divine nature, In the case of participation in the divine nature, the hard line between obj gen and sub gen breaks down. Agape in us is a participation in God’s love for Himself and for us. So the two are not mutually exclusive.

    Of course it breaks down”, because you need it to break down.

    And thus, you know more than most commentators [except for Pelagius and N.T. Wright] who spend their lives studying Greek text and grammar. Because your need to avoid having an apparent contradiction become an actual contradiction at this point is acute. Because if an apparent contradiction becomes an actual contradiction at this point, or in fact, any of dozens of points that these discussions have located, then your Roman house of cards falls to the ground.

    And conveniently, you have a whole Roman Tradition, which infallibly makes it so.

  98. Bryan Cross said,

    August 19, 2012 at 8:53 am

    David, (#95)

    What it means for God’s love to be poured out into our hearts is more than that God gives us knowledge of His love for us. By pouring love *into our hearts* it is shown to be in us, not just for us. And this is a love of friendship, as shown by it being in the heart, not as God loves trees and mountains, which cannot love Him in return. As a love of friendship, there must be love for God, in this case, by which we call Him Abba, Father. So granting that it is a subj gen does not detract from its meaning that the result of this pouring is, in our hearts, love *for* God. The resulting disposition of our hearts is not fundamentally *love for ourselves.* As poured out into the heart of the rational creature, its directionality is reversed, being fundamentally *love for God for God’s sake,* and then love of neighbor for God’s sake.

    I also agree that this does not erase the Creator/creature distinction. Participation is not fusion.

    As for the statements from the CCC, they are not contrary to what I said earlier. They are talking about the *increase* in justification through acts done in agape, whereas I was talking about *initial* justification, which is by the divine infusion of the supernatural virtue of faith informed by the supernatural virtue of agape, not by a meritorious human act.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  99. August 19, 2012 at 9:07 am

    An observation…if I may. Then I promise…to go away.

    Some of us reading at home are paying attention to all this Rome/Geneva discussion. And plan to read these comments intently someday.

    What this reminds me of is a conversation over e-mail I had with friend, for about 2 or 3 years, over the nature of how I view that the Bible is the Word of God. My friend is older than me, and a very active mainline Episcopalian. He rejects an infallible Scripture.

    I think what made our back and forth (at least from my side) eventually subside was when I showed him very clearly in WCF 1 that it’s the Holy Spirit that does the work of convincing me that the Bible is God’s Word. The West. divines were pretty explicit on this point.

    But as regards Geneva and Rome, I am wondering if the people debating this topic see an end. Is there a vision, by either party, indepedent of the other’s vision, or is there a shared vision.

    To me, it just looks like people arguing because that’s what they like to do. Mean of me to say? Well, sure. But that’s what I see.

    I don’t mean to judge all ya’ll’s motives, or dismiss the very real issues at hand. But consider this post, is about a man, Jason Stellman, who left the PCA, and we’re still sitting around talking about these issues.

    I guess I am just wondering if either party wants to explain a little bit of their “vision” of the way forward in this debate. I understand we must “press on,’ but does any reader know whether this blog is the only place for Mr. Calvin and Mr. Pope to have a discussion? Or might these two caricatures (characters?) find themselves on a golf course someday, sipping a coors light after 18 holes, just laughing about all the differences?

    Maybe in heaven only. Anyhoo, back to my cave with John Owen’s writings, and not sure I will emerge. For those of you who have read some of John Owen…you know what I mean.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  100. johnbugay said,

    August 19, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Bryan Cross #95 said:

    I also agree that this does not erase the Creator/creature distinction. Participation is not fusion.

    But you are headed to “fusion”, and far earlier than what you are letting on. Are you practicing some sort of “mental reservation” with the folks here? It is the very “call to communion” that you have taken on as your identity. From Ratzinger’s “Called to Communion”:

    Through baptism, answers Paul, we are inserted into Christ and united with him as a single subject; no longer many alongside one another, but “one only in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:16; 26-29). Only Christ’s self-identification with us, only our fusion into unity with him, makes us bearers of the promise (pg 33).

    This “fusion” does erase the Creator/creature distinction. Following his good buddy Teilhard de Chardin, Ratzinger is headed to an eschatological “omega point”, in which “the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host”.

    In fact, tell the truth, it would not be a misnomer if you changed the name of your site to “Called to Pantheism”. This is your great vision for justification.

  101. Bryan Cross said,

    August 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    John B,

    That’s a classic example of the word/concept fallacy.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  102. johnbugay said,

    August 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Bryan 101 — it is not.

  103. Bob S said,

    August 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    101 Word/concept fallacy?

    That’s like agape list keeping is not the same thing as list list keeping thing over at OLTS, right? Just wanted to be sure, since my completely fallible private judgement keeps foaming and frothing and getting in the way of accepting any old arbitrary ipsit dixit that wanders down the pike.

  104. isaiah said,

    August 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Bob S,

    The Second Council of Orange took place in the early 6th century and the Catholic Church continues to affirm all that was stated therein, just as they affirm much of Augustine’s writings (though not all: they rejected Augustinian views of predestination, namely, that God does not predestine certain humans for evil). What the Council was primarily concerned with is the role grace plays in both the beginning of the Christian life (its necessity in believing in the Gospel) and the continuation of life in Christ (its necessity in doing good works).

    Nowhere, that I could tell, does it say that good works have no role in salvation. It does, however, say the following:

    Can. 18. “That grace is preceded by no merits. A reward is due to good works, if they are performed; but grace, which is not due, precedes, that they may be done.” [You can read more here]

    The necessity of God’s grace – both in the initial moments of conversion, and throughout our life in which we follow Christ’s example through works of charity and prayer – is undeniable for the Catholic. To say otherwise would be Pelagian, or Semi-Pelagian, heresy.

    However, affirming that our salvation involves cooperation with the Spirit of God through good works – provided they are founded in Christ’s love and grace, which we can only have if we are God’s children by being born of water and the spirit – is decidedly neither Pelagian nor Semi-Pelagian.

  105. Brad B said,

    August 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    “they rejected Augustinian views of predestination, namely, that God does not predestine certain humans for evil).”

    “The necessity of God’s grace – both in the initial moments of conversion”

    Two imcompatible propositions, not to mention the first is contrary to a plain lesson by the apostle Paul namely:

    Rom 9:24 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

    Rom 9:23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

    Rom 9:24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

    How silly of Augustine to read the apostle Paul plainly. btw, once again Pauls OT understanding being illuminated in NT teaching.

  106. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 12:24 am

    John B, (re: #102)

    If you think that the Catholic position and [then] Cardinal Ratzinger’s statement are pantheistic, you have seriously misunderstood them both. Here’s the Ratzinger quotation again with my clarifying comments in brackets:

    Through baptism, answers Paul, we are inserted into Christ and united with him as a single subject [i.e. the single Mystical Body of Christ of which He is the Head]; no longer many alongside one another [i.e. no longer a mere plurality], but “one only in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:16; 26-29). Only Christ’s self-identification with us, only our fusion into unity with him [incorporation into His Mystical Body], makes us bearers of the promise (pg 33).

    This is not an obliteration of the Creator-creature distinction, but an affirmation of our union with Christ — a union in which while we retain our created being, our individuality, our personality, our intellect, our consciousness, our will, etc., we are united to Christ and His family by incorporation into His Body and participation in His divine life. The Catholic principle is that grace builds on nature; grace does not destroy nature (because we’re not Marcionites or Manicheans). If redemption obliterated the creature, that would go directly against the principle that grace builds on nature and does not destroy nature. It would be a Marcionite position, not a Catholic position.

    In comment #98, when I said “participation is not fusion,” I was using the term ‘fusion’ in the sense of obliterating the Creator-creature distinction, as Horton uses the term in his The Christian Faith. To understand why participation is not fusion (in that sense of the term ‘fusion’) see my reply to Scott Clark in “Nature, Grace, and Man’s Supernatural End: Feingold, Kline, and Clark.”

    In your response in comment #100, you quote then Cardinal Ratzinger using the term ‘fusion’ of our union with Christ, as if that shows that he (and the Catholic Church) believe in an obliteration of the Creator-creature distinction. But that’s a textbook case of the word-concept fallacy, because what Cardinal Ratzinger means by the term ‘fusion’ there is communion/participation, as is obvious from the rest of the book. Just because he used the same term does not mean that he meant it in the same way Horton means it when Horton uses the term.

    I hope the discussion can now return to Lane’s reply to Jason.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  107. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Bryan #106:

    You said, “participation is not fusion”, and you have cavalierly sought to dismiss that, but there is far to it than what you have said here, and the folks deserve to have a clarification:

    Here’s the Ratzinger quotation again with my clarifying comments in brackets:

    Through baptism, answers Paul, we are inserted into Christ and united with him as a single subject [i.e. the single Mystical Body of Christ of which He is the Head]; no longer many alongside one another [i.e. no longer a mere plurality], but “one only in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:16; 26-29). Only Christ’s self-identification with us, only our fusion into unity with him [incorporation into His Mystical Body], makes us bearers of the promise (pg 33).

    This is not an obliteration of the Creator-creature distinction, but an affirmation of our union with Christ — a union in which while we retain our created being, our individuality, our personality, our intellect, our consciousness, our will, etc., we are united to Christ and His family by incorporation into His Body and participation in His divine life.

    Yes, Let’s take a further “clarifying” look at what Joseph Ratzinger genuinely means by “communion” and “fusion”:

    Communion means that the seemingly uncrossable frontier of my “I” is left wide open and can be so because Jesus has first allowed himself to be opened completely, has taken us all into himself and has put himself totally into our hands. Hence, Communion [capital in original] means the fusion of existences. Just as in the taking of nourishment the body assimilates foreign matter to itself, and is thereby enabled to live, in the same way my “I” is “assimilated” to that of Jesus, it is made similar to him in an exchange that increasingly breaks through the lines of division. This same event takes place in the case of all who communicate; they are all assimilated to this “bread” and thus are made one among themselves–one body (36)

    This is not a “one-time” thing that happens “at Communion”. This has eschatological aspects. Speaking of “the institution narrative”, he says:

    it is the act of entering into that inner core which can no longer pass away. That is why the “preaching” of Christ’s death is more than mere words. [The prayer of ‘institution’] is a proclamation that bears the truth within it. In the words of Jesus, as we have seen, all the streams of the Old Testament—law and prophets—flow together into a new unity that could not have been foreseen. Those words that had simply been waiting for their real speaker, such as the song of the Suffering Servant, now become reality. We could go farther and say that ultimately this is where all the great streams of the history of religions meet together, for the most profound knowledge of the myths had been that of the world’s being built up on sacrifice, and in some sense, beneath shadowy forms that were often taught, it was being taught that, in the end, God himself must become a sacrifice so that love might prevail over hatred and lies. With its vision of the cosmic liturgy, in the midst which stands the Lamb who was sacrificed, the Apocalypse [book of Revelation] has presented the essential contents of the eucharistic sacrament in an impressive form that sets a standard for every local liturgy (from the essay “Eucharist and Mission” in “Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith”, pgs 110-111).

    This “fusion” you are talking about becomes permanent. It is no matter that “we retain our created being, our individuality, our personality, our intellect, our consciousness, our will, etc” No one remains an individual in this vision of things. Everyone is “assimilated”.

    In the first place, you owe me an apology here for suggesting that I am making some kind of “word/concept” fallacy.

    Second, you owe the members of this board an apology for your abject dishonesty in suggesting that “participation is not fusion”, and trying to slough off the rest of all this.

    This discussion has a lot of range beyond merely the word “fusion” – there is much more to this – including the notion that “the church is the ongoing incarnation of Christ”, and the whole range of ontological aspects of where “infusion” language leads.

    Rome goes even further and incorporates its own hierarchical leadership structure into this ontological soup – the papacy as a permanent part of the “structure” of the body – and that is the tie in with some of these Green Baggins discussions. But of course,

    You have turned on its head the notion that “we should not attribute to our opponents positions that they will not own”.

    You, in fact, are denying Roman positions at this point, for the sake of sparing these folks the full impact of the Roman position so that you can set some sort of “foundational” point for it.

    But the Roman self-infatuation, in its desires to perpetuate its grandiose claims about itself, effectively repeats the promise of Satan: “You will be like God.”

  108. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:46 am

    Moderators: Can you please fix my broken “blockquote” after “pgs 110-111)”?

  109. August 20, 2012 at 4:06 am

    Bryan said What it means for God’s love to be poured out into our hearts is more than that God gives us knowledge of His love for us. By pouring love *into our hearts* it is shown to be in us, not just for us….So granting that it is a subj gen does not detract from its meaning that the result of this pouring is, in our hearts, love *for* God.

    This is a far more reasonable statement than your previous post. I won’t quibble too much (Calvin disagrees with Augustine’s interpretation here, but still calls his sentiment “pious”), except to say that since the passage doesn’t actually mention our love for God, you must deduce that God’s love being poured into our heart produces this, but it is not a necessary implication of that fact or, at the least, is not Paul’s point here. In the context, it specifically links God’s love being poured into our heart as the basis of hope and endurance.

    As for the statements from the CCC, they are not contrary to what I said earlier. They are talking about the *increase* in justification through acts done in agape, whereas I was talking about *initial* justification

    Aside from the fact that this distinction is extra-biblical and, indeed, anti-biblical, St. Paul was also talking about “initial” justification throughout Romans 4 and 5, where Christ is said to have died for the “ungodly”, “enemies” and “sinners”, and even that God justifies the ungodly. Such have neither good works nor inward virtue (such as agape) nor good character. Trying to say that Paul only meant to exclude good works from (initial or otherwise) justification and not virtue is complete subterfuge and foreign to the text at hand.

    Regarding the CCC, I’ll accept your explanation that you were talking about initial justification in distinction from the CCC’s discussion of the increase in justification. But even then, I find no basis in the CCC for your saying that the virtue of agape is instrumental in initial justification. It talks about repentance and baptism and the like, but no mention of agape: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P6Y.HTM

  110. Response to Jason Stellman Part 1 – Green Baggins Blog | Pilgrimage to Geneva said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:02 am

    [...] Response to Jason Stellman, Part 1 [...]

  111. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

    John Bugay # 107.

    Is it your argument that Pope Benedict advocates pantheism? Yes or no.

  112. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 10:08 am

    John B., (re: #107)

    Regarding Cardinal Ratzinger’s statement:

    Communion means that the seemingly uncrossable frontier of my “I” is left wide open and can be so because Jesus has first allowed himself to be opened completely, has taken us all into himself and has put himself totally into our hands. Hence, Communion [capital in original] means the fusion of existences. Just as in the taking of nourishment the body assimilates foreign matter to itself, and is thereby enabled to live, in the same way my “I” is “assimilated” to that of Jesus, it is made similar to him in an exchange that increasingly breaks through the lines of division. This same event takes place in the case of all who communicate; they are all assimilated to this “bread” and thus are made one among themselves–one body (37)

    (This is actually on page 37, not 36.) Here again the term ‘fusion’ is not meant in the sense Horton (and you) are using it [i.e. as obliterating the Creator-creature distinction], but in the participation sense. The human soul is immortal, and so has an everlasting existence by nature. But in Catholic doctrine “eternal life” is distinct from mere everlasting existence. Eternal life is God’s own life. To receive eternal life is to be granted to share in God’s own life, but this sharing in God’s own life does not eliminate one’s createdness, or one’s created life. Otherwise there would be no participation; there would be only God, and no creatures. Participation would thereby destroy itself. By grace the creature is granted a participation in the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). But grace does not destroy nature. This participation is a simultaneous sharing by a creature (who perpetually remains a creature) in a higher existence, namely, in God’s own eternal life, by God’s gratuitous gift. That’s what “fusion of existences” means here. We enter into and participate in the eternal communion that is the inner life of the Triune God. And that’s why the digestion analogy has to be understood in a qualified sense, not as destroying the individual, but as preserving him and all that belongs to him (except sin), while at the same time incorporating him into a higher existence, namely, the Body of Christ, perfectly conforming him to Jesus in heart, living by the same Spirit who is the Spirit of Jesus, and in this way making Him one with Christ who is the way, truth and life, thus perfectly imaging the Father, whose perfect image Christ is. Just as, contra the Eutychians, Jesus’ divine nature did not swallow up His human nature in the hypostatic union, so likewise our participation in the divine nature by the gift of grace does not swallow up or obliterate our human nature or our individuality.

    So to use this quotation as evidence that Cardinal Ratzinger or the Catholic Church believes in “pantheism” is just another example of the word-concept fallacy, by mistakenly assuming that the term ‘fusion’ here must mean the obliteration of distinctions, not realizing that here it means the simultaneous possession of [and existence in] two natures: one by the gift of creation, and the other by the gift of grace.

    David (re: #109)

    CCC 1991 says, “Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.”

    The term “divine love” is referring to the virtue of agape, and so is the term “charity,” which is the English translation of the Latin caritas, which is the Latin translation of the Greek term agape.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  113. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Bryan 111 — Let “pantheism” = “a duck” in the following:

    No, I’m not saying that “Cardinal Ratzinger or the Catholic Church believes in “a duck” as such. But if it looks like “a duck” and walks like “a duck” and quacks like “a duck”, then we are talking about something that is, at worst, very nearly “a duck”.

    Protestants, too, believe in “eternal life”, which is distinct from “God’s own life” and as well, is distinct from mere everlasting existence, as you say. However, we use a biblical term and call this “glorification”, and digestion metaphors are not included in theologies of “glorification”.

    We enter into and participate in the eternal communion that is the inner life of the Triune God. And that’s why the digestion analogy has to be understood in a qualified sense

    We are talking about the writings of Joseph Ratzinger here. I would think that his “qualifications” (and you can plainly read what he says) are in no need of your “qualifiied sense”. In a volume that is written by the “Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”, which has also gone through all the Vatican censors, what he is saying here is perfectly well “qualified”, without your help. In fact, your “qualified sense” [given Ratzinger's place] is clearly off the mark.

    Your efforts to correct and qualify Ratzinger are laudable. But, when Ratzinger says “fusion”, he certainly means something different from what you mean by mere “participation”.

  114. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 11:14 am

    John.
    # 112

    Does it matter that Pope Benedict affirms particular Christian doctrines that render pantheism impossible? For instance the Trinity and the Incarnation?

    Does it matter that Pope Benedict had publically repudiated pantheism before in writing and public statements?

    I really urge you to consider what you are saying.

  115. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 11:21 am

    John.

    # 112.

    By they way, are you aware of any theologians or scholars of Benedict or pantheism that accuse Benedict and Catholicism of being panthestic besides yourself?

  116. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 11:22 am

    John B (re: #112),

    We are talking about the writings of Joseph Ratzinger here. I would think that his “qualifications” (and you can plainly read what he says) are in no need of your “qualifiied sense”.

    These chapters of this book were originally lectures given to a hundred Catholic bishops. That was their intended audience. No qualification is necessary when a Catholic bishop and theologian speaks to other Catholic bishops well-immersed within the Catholic theological tradition. But to persons with no or very little theological training in the Catholic tradition, the words of a Catholic bishop and theologian speaking to other Catholic bishops may often need additional qualification and explanation, so as to avoid misunderstanding. The more immersed one is within a tradition, the more one is able to understand rightly others who speak and write within that tradition. Likewise, the less familiar one is with another person’s tradition, the less able one is to avoid misunderstanding that person’s speech and writing within that tradition, and thus the more one needs an interpreter or teacher.

    And your notion that the Catholic Church believes in pantheism shows you to be quite unfamiliar with the Catholic theological tradition, and hence in need of someone to explain the meaning of quotations such as the ones you have cited.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  117. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Bryan 115, I reject your notion that Ratzinger intended something that needs “qualification” when he is talking about fusion and digestion. He is perfectly capable of articulating Roman Catholic dogma no matter whom he is talking to. That is the point of your “formal proximate object of faith”. Your positing that “the words of a Catholic bishop and theologian speaking to other Catholic bishops may often need additional qualification and explanation, so as to avoid misunderstanding”, especially when he is speaking as plainly as he does, is perfectly ridiculous.

    And even if they did need explanation, you are not in a position to provide the proper explanation.

    And again, per 112, I do not suggest that “the Catholic Church believes in pantheism”. It is more complicated than that. Roman Catholicism simply has far too many [un-canonized] words in its doctrinal and theological writings to make the simple, and simplistic statement that “the Catholic Church believes in pantheism”.

    However, what they give with one hand (i.e., an orthodox doctrine of God and the Trinity), they take away in an eschatology that invokes Teilhard de Chardin’s “omega point”, “the world becomes a living host”, etc.

    I don’t claim to have investigated all the possibilities. But yes, let us put “something close to pantheism” on the table when discussing the endgame for “infused grace” and Roman Catholic eschatology.

  118. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Bryan 115:

    These chapters of this book were originally lectures given to a hundred Catholic bishops. That was their intended audience. No qualification is necessary when a Catholic bishop and theologian speaks to other Catholic bishops well-immersed within the Catholic theological tradition. But to persons with no or very little theological training in the Catholic tradition, the words of a Catholic bishop and theologian speaking to other Catholic bishops may often need additional qualification and explanation, so as to avoid misunderstanding.

    And again, even if you are right about this (which you are not), isn’t the publisher VERY IRRESPONSIBLE to have let this go out, not just under Ratzinger’s name, but re-issued with the sticker, “Pope Benedict XVI” without these “qualifications” that you seem to think are so necessary? And not just irresponsible of the publisher, but irresponsible of Ratzinger himself?

    Your dissembling is truly unbelievable.

  119. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

    John.

    So, it does not matter to you that the Catholic Church formally and dogmatically rejects pantheism entirely and affirms doctrines completely contrary to pantheism?

    You are still going to try to argue that the Catholic Church teaches ‘something close to pantheism.’

    Is that a fair summary of your position?

    Just want to make sure we’re clear.

  120. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Sean Patrick, just so we’re clear, I’m rejecting your interpretation of what the Catholic Church formally and dogmatically says in any way, and I also reject your interpretation (or “qualification”) of what Joseph Ratzinger himself has said.

    I let Joseph Ratzinger’s words stand for themselves.

  121. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    So, you don’t care that Joseph Ratzinger has publically repudated tenats of pantheism and formally has embraced orthodox Trinitarian dogmas that render patheism impossible?

    You are still going to try to argue that Pope Benedict teaches ‘something close to pantheism.’

    “I let Joseph Ratzinger’s words stand for themselves.”

    We do that as well. Therefore, we can say with certainty that Pope Benedict rejects pantheism entirely.

    One more time, are you aware of any theologian or scholar besides yourself that puts forth that Pope Benedict teaches ‘something close to pantheism?’

  122. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Sean, as I said, Rome (not just Ratzinger) gives with one hand, and takes away with the other. An orthdodox doctrine of God up front is no protection from a pantheistic concept at the end.

    From this point out I am going to ignore your comments, so that any individuals coming to this comment thread can read Ratzinger’s own words and comments in #107:

    Communion means that the seemingly uncrossable frontier of my “I” is left wide open and can be so because Jesus has first allowed himself to be opened completely, has taken us all into himself and has put himself totally into our hands. Hence, Communion [capital in original] means the fusion of existences. Just as in the taking of nourishment the body assimilates foreign matter to itself, and is thereby enabled to live, in the same way my “I” is “assimilated” to that of Jesus, it is made similar to him in an exchange that increasingly breaks through the lines of division. This same event takes place in the case of all who communicate; they are all assimilated to this “bread” and thus are made one among themselves–one body (37)

    The individuals here are perfectly capable of reading this — or the whole book, for that matter, and taking the proper meaning from it.

  123. jsm52 said,

    August 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Sean Patrick,

    I am sure that Pope B. rejects pantheism as a philosophy. But when John B. says, regarding this fusions issue, “what the RRC gives with one hand it takes away with the other,” highlights a problem with RCC theology. The “giving with one… and taking away with the other” also shows up in this whole discussion with Justification.

    RCC says we believe in justification by faith in Christ by grace. Pretty good so far. Then it adds “working through love.” And then explains this in ways that takes away justification by faith in Christ by grace. Tacked onto justification by faith are “grace assisted works of love” or some such Christ-plus-scheme that reverses the order of – those God justifies, He sanctifies to those God sanctifies, He justifies.

  124. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Jack, (re: #122)

    Christ-plus-scheme that reverses the order of – those God justifies, He sanctifies to those God sanctifies, He justifies.

    St. Paul does the same thing:

    And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:11)

    Notice that St. Paul places justification after sanctification and after washing. The washing refers to baptism, and refers to the removal of sin. ‘Sanctified’ refers to the immediate infusion of grace, faith, hope, and agape, by which we were ‘justified.’ If St. Paul had any notion that sanctification only follows justification, he would never have placed sanctification before justification.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  125. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    John,

    One more time, are you aware of any theologian or scholar besides yourself that puts forth that Pope Benedict teaches ‘something close to pantheism?’

  126. August 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Jack,

    regarding this fusions issue, “what the RRC gives with one hand it takes away with the other,” highlights a problem with RCC theology. The “giving with one… and taking away with the other” also shows up in this whole discussion with Justification.

    RCC says we believe in justification by faith in Christ by grace. Pretty good so far. Then it adds “working through love.” And then explains this in ways that takes away justification by faith in Christ by grace. Tacked onto justification by faith are “grace assisted works of love” or some such Christ-plus-scheme….

    Consider the following hypothetical exchange:

    Paul, preaching: “We are children of God!”

    Jack, listening: “This guy’s awesome.”

    Paul: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…”

    Jack: “Right on! This cat totally gets the whole grace thing.”

    Paul: “… provided we suffer with him, in order that we may be glorified with him.”

    Jack: “Aww, man! Why’d he have to go and take away with one hand what he gave with the other? He should have quit while he was ahead!”

  127. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Jason 125, “this guy”, “this cat”, etc., was Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, when he wrote (and not hypothetically) what he wrote.

    As Bryan has helpfully said, “the most helpful way to avoid accidentally misconstruing what I say, is always to quote me when claiming that I’ve said something, rather than attributing to me an interpretation you took from something I wrote” (comment 53).

    Your trying to hypotheticalize something that Joseph Ratzinger wrote, is simply laughable.

  128. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    John.

    Why don’t you answer: Are you aware of any theologian or scholar besides yourself that puts forth that Pope Benedict teaches ‘something close to pantheism?’

  129. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Jack.

    Further to # 125, it is not established that Pope Benedict “takes away” orthodox Trinitarianism and puts in its place ‘pantheism.’

    From the best that I can tell only one person has ever concluded this from the text, John Bugay.

  130. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Jason (re: 125),

    Are you saying that before your move towards Rome (not sure if you are 100% there yet) you did not believe that your profession as a Christian required you to “suffer with Him that we may be glorified with Him?”

    I feel like I’m talking to Chuck Smith here.

  131. August 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Without really knowing much…but hey, why not.

    “giving with one… and taking away with the other”

    I don’t know about other readers here, but it seems to me that God loves me unconditionally.

    That’s a good thing,
    Andrew

  132. jsm52 said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Jason,

    It seems that in order to “win a point” you merely caricature the Protestant position, and me.

    You sometimes give something serious with one hand, only to take it away with the other (like the above)…

  133. August 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Andrew McC,

    Are you saying that before your move towards Rome (not sure if you are 100% there yet) you did not believe that your profession as a Christian required you to “suffer with Him that we may be glorified with Him?”

    Paul doesn’t say, “We may profess to be Christians, provided we suffer with him.” He says, “We are children of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him.”

    I feel like I’m talking to Chuck Smith here.

    “Ah, well, you know, I, uhh…. Glor ious and all.”

  134. jsm52 said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Sean (128)-

    I think John B. addressed this. But suffice to say, the “taking away with the other” has to with implications of the teachings of Pope B. above, not a formal declaration.

    I’m not interested in establishing the pantheism-thing one way or the other. My point is the conflation of justification and sanctification.

  135. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Jack.

    The ‘implications’ of what Pope Benedict wrote are only present if one commits the word/concept fallacy and completely disregards everything else that Pope Benedict teaches.

    This is really quite obvious. To look at one passage and argue that the bishop of Rome ‘took away’ orthodoxy is just silly.

    I mean, don’t you think that if Pope Benedict really “took away an orthodox doctrine of God” and replaced it with “pantheism” that somebody besides John Bugay would have noticed it?

  136. August 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Jack,

    It seems that in order to “win a point” you merely caricature the Protestant position, and me.

    While I admit I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek there, there was a serious point to be heeded. Let me make it using a different example: One of WSC’s profs was challenging me a couple months ago, saying, “How much participation, Jason? How much is needed to be saved? How many works? That’s the question you’re constantly going to have to answer if you go down this road.”

    My response was that the exact same questions could have been asked by the crowd to Jesus when he said that unless you bear your cross you can’t be his disciple, and unless you do his commands you will not be finally saved, or of Paul when he said that if we sow to the Spirit we will reap eternal life: “How much cross-bearing, Jesus? How much obedience? What degree of Spirit-sowing do I have to perform to reap heaven, Paul?”

    In other words, the NT writers themselves seem to fall prey to your charge of sounding gracious at first, but then “adding” some other requirement.

  137. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Jason 133:

    blockquote>“We are children of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him.”

    There is an exegetical treatment of this verse, and an exegetical treatment of this verse that takes into account what theologians of the first five centuries have had to say about it.

    But if you think that it takes an infallible Magisterium to provide some “formal proximate object of faith” to understand this verse, then consider the backflips that your comrades are exercising in order to separate Joseph Ratzinger from the meaning of his words.

    And I could provide two paragraphs or two chapters from that work, and you still have the man fusioning existences and assimilating “I’s”.

  138. jsm52 said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Catechism of The Catholic Church:

    In Brief –
    2017 The grace of the Holy Spirit confers upon us the righteousness of God. Uniting us by faith and Baptism to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the Spirit makes us sharers in his life.

    2018 Like conversion, justification has two aspects. Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, and so accepts forgiveness and righteousness from on high.

    2019 Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.

    2020 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God’s mercy.

    2023 Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.

    2025 We can have merit in God’s sight only because of God’s free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man’s collaboration. Man’s merit is due to God.

    2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

    An explanation on the above:

    “The Gospel cannot be preached truly unless we believe that Christ’s sacrifice alone is all that is needed to take away human sin. Rome does teach this in their Catechism of the Catholic Church, but on the same exact page they restate their belief that the merits of the saints can be applied by the Church to remit human sins.

    “May I suggest that this apparent self-contradiction is because Rome confuses Tradition with precedent? The burden of having to keep every doctrine ever taught, instead of weighing truth against error by the standard of Scripture with Universal Consensus and Antiquity, creates a disability that hinders direct and powerful proclamation of the Gospel. They want to proclaim that Christ’s sacrifice alone is full and sufficient, but they are in bondage to a Medieval error that ought to be tossed out. This is no small matter. It must be thoroughly discussed and cleared up.” (Robert Hart @ The Anglican Continuum)

  139. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Part of the issue is that Rome does not write its doctrinal statements in the same style as Protestants (or indeed, as Thomas Aquinas, e.g.).

    The language used in Roman Catholic doctrinal pronouncements is sometimes fluid and capable of widely disparate interpretation.

    So while Sean P is no doubt correct that Rome has repudiated pantheism, here Ratzinger uses language that could be understood pantheistically

    Aside: and syncretistically as well … We could go farther and say that ultimately this is where all the great streams of the history of religions meet together, for the most profound knowledge of the myths had been that of the world’s being built up on sacrifice, and in some sense, beneath shadowy forms that were often taught, it was being taught that, in the end, God himself must become a sacrifice so that love might prevail over hatred and lies.

    Really? That’s what the Iliad was all about? I thought it was about an angry man. Boy, I must have slept through freshman English.

    /Aside

    As an example of linguistic fluidity, consider the Catholic Catechism on justification:

    1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.

    1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

    1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

    One reading this might think that faith is the instrument that justifies. But then …

    1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:

    and again,

    978 “When we made our first profession of faith while receiving the holy Baptism that cleansed us, the forgiveness we received then was so full and complete that there remained in us absolutely nothing left to efface, neither original sin nor offenses committed by our own will, nor was there left any penalty to suffer in order to expiate them. . . .

    Oops, misread that. It turns out that baptism is the instrument that justifies, and any faith prior to baptism doesn’t count as justifying faith, because faith must be expressed in baptism to justify.

    Unless one dies before baptism, with the intent of being baptized. Except for the thief on the cross.

    And I’m light-heartedly poking fun here, but with a real point: the slipperiness of the language leads to a theology that contains exceptions and loopholes. Whether this is good or bad, I won’t say; I can see both advantages and disadvantages. On the whole, I much prefer the straight-up style of the Confession.

    Bryan, some of our frustration in communication comes down, I believe, to a difference in these writing styles.

  140. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    # 138.

    Jack.

    The CCC is not ‘giving grace’ and then ‘taking it away.’ The CCC is simply presenting Catholic soteriology. You only see a ‘giving and taking away’ because you agree with the part it ‘gives’ and when you disagree with the rest say, “oh, they took it away.’

  141. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Jeff.

    # 139

    “And I’m light-heartedly poking fun here, but with a real point: the slipperiness of the language leads to a theology that contains exceptions and loopholes. “

    Respectfully, it would not be hard at all to read the WCOF and imagine the same kind of ‘exceptions’ and ‘loopholes.’

    What is it saying to say that a word or phrase here or there ‘could be taken’ to mean something that it doesn’t mean? That is not a unique feature to the writing of Pope Benedict.

    What John Bugay is doing is taking a statement and saying that it does mean what it clearly does not mean.

  142. jsm52 said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Sean Patrick – 140,

    2020 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us.

    2025 We can have merit in God’s sight only because of God’s free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man’s collaboration. Man’s merit is due to God.

    2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

    Words have meaning. I’m reminded of the Paul Simon song lyric, “slip-sliding along…”

  143. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Jack # 142.

    I don’t see your point.

  144. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Jason (#136): I don’t think you’ve grasped the difference entirely.

    When a Protestant wrestles with “how much is enough?”, his theology, informed by Hebrews, sends him to faith in Jesus.

    I had to wrestle with this issue in the early 90s after reading MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation, and in the end I had to conclude that whatever deficiencies my works had, the only remedy was to hold fast to Jesus, the anchor of my soul. If my works so far had demonstrated that I was not really a believer, then from this moment forward I needed to trust Jesus.

    When a Catholic wrestles with this issue … well, I’m not Catholic, so I have to imagine a bit. Naturally, I am open to correction. But it seems to me that the theology of Purgatory … which, by the way, is not derived from Jesus’ teachings nor Paul’s but from Tradition — so much for making sense of the Biblical data! … that the theology of Purgatory combined with the Catholic doctrine of free-will as a response to grace, forces the individual to introspect.

    Having been ‘initially justified’ by faith (or baptism?), Joe Catholic must now really wonder whether his works are sufficient to merit eternal life; and if not, then are we looking at Purgatory or Hell? Were my sins mortal, and what if I get hit by a bus before confessing a mortal sin? Am I going to be the wicked servant of the parable, or will I be the 1 Cor 3 guy that gets in with all the works burned to straw?

    Both the Catholic and the Protestant do have to wrestle. But wrestling with merit on the line is different from wrestling with what evidence means.

  145. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Here is an example of what I am talking about:

    Jonathan Edwards wrote:

    Formerly, nothing had been so terrible to me. I used to be a person uncommonly terrified with thunder…. But now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me. Ifelt God at the first appearance of a thunderstorm. And used to take the opportunity at such time to fix myself to view the clouds, and see the lightnings play, and hear the majestic and awful voice of God: which oftentimes was exceeding entertaining, leading me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God

    Source.

    Now, that COULD be taken as pantheistic. that Edwards believed the thunder and lightning were literally part of God. But, that would be reckless of me wouldn’t it?

  146. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Sean (#143 in re jsm52’s point): How about this. Three theses for debate

    P1: The Catholic doctrines of the atonement and of justification cannot be rationally reconciled.

    For the Catholic holds that Jesus’ death on the cross bore our punishment, but not our guilt. But he also holds that Jesus’ death secures cleansing from guilt, but not remission of punishment.

    P2: The Catholic doctrines of merit cannot be rationally upheld.

    For the Catholic holds that the Treasury of Merit is filled first by the merit of Christ on the cross. But this merit is of infinite quantity, and cannot therefore rationally increase by any amount. But he also holds that our works are meritorious and increase the treasury.

    P3: The Catholic doctrine of Purgatory is logically unnecessary.

    For the Catholic holds that Purgatory is necessary because our sins can be forgiven, but satisfaction for the punishment of our sins must still be paid.

    But no man can be rationally punished if he is not guilty. And if his guilt is forgiven and he is “washed as white as snow”, then it would be unjust to punish him for a crime of which he bears no guilt.

    And God is not unjust.

    Further, the Catholic holds that Purgatory is necessary because our cleansing must take place before we see God (to which Protestants agree).

    Yet there is no particular reason that our cleansing might not occur at the moment of death. Catholics already believe that the Pope has power to dispense grace arbitrarily from the Treasury of Merit and remit some or all of the penalty of sin.

    It is therefore obviously possible for God to do the same. And Purgatory is therefore superfluous.

  147. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Sean (#141, 145): First, I’m not joining into the thesis that Ratzinger is, in fact, a pantheist. I think it’s unlikely.

    That said, you wouldn’t be the first to notice that John Edwards’ writings can be interpreted pantheistically, and he has been criticized for it. But Protestant ministers don’t claim the same kind of authority as Catholic teachers, especially ones so high up the chain.

    So it is fair to notice that Ratzinger has made some remarkably uncareful statements here.

    And yes, the Confession is also subject to misunderstanding. But much less so. I remember the first time I read the Confession as a non-Presby, and I was struck by its clarity and forthrightness.

    The CCC doesn’t read in the same way.

    Again, that’s not a value judgment, for there are advantages to using fluid language. But it’s certainly a valid observation about style.

  148. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Jeff.

    # 147.

    “First, I’m not joining into the thesis that Ratzinger is, in fact, a pantheist. I think it’s unlikely.”

    That is a relief.

    I kept pressing for John to name one other Scholar/Theologian who held his position because it seems that John is the only person alive that has accused Pope Benedict of pantheism. So, on that basis alone I don’t agree that Pope Benedict’s words were ‘reckless.’ Nobody else walked away confused and thinking that the Catholic Church took away orthodoxy and replaced it with pantheism. This is just a snippet from the works of Pope Benedict that John honed in on to push forth his agenda.

  149. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Well, certainly unguarded statements give opportunities for one’s enemies.

    But the greater danger is that unguarded statements give ammunition for ‘forward thinkers’ who like to ‘move tradition along.’

    And I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to say that Catholics have those within their clerical ranks, right?

  150. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Jeff 147 — “it is fair to notice that Ratzinger has made some remarkably uncareful statements here”.

    This is the doctrinal watchdog of the church — the Prefect of the CDF, speaking to other members of the infallible magisterium.

    “Uncareful” is quite an understatement, and also, it is quite unthinkable in an organization that professes to infallibly provide “the formal proximate object of faith”. Think of the confusion his “uncareful” statements must have caused among the thinking bishops present!

    Did they all simply say, “Hear Hear!, Peter has spoken through Ratzinger!”

    Or rather, if he is “uncareful”, where are the Roman Catholic voices “cautioning” him about such statements? You, as a Protestant, certainly can challenge him. But who else?

    Think of poor Bryan and Sean here, doing the heavy lifting, separating the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the very doctrinal watchdog of the Infallible Church, from the meaning of these “uncareful” statements.

    The Roman Catholic world may rest infallibly again.

    (By the way, is Burton watching this?)

  151. August 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Bryan said The term “divine love” is referring to the virtue of agape, and so is the term “charity,” which is the English translation of the Latin caritas, which is the Latin translation of the Greek term agape.

    That’s all well and good, but the CCC doesn’t say that this charity/love is the instrument by which we receive justification. It says “With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts.” So love/charity seems to be given either simultaneously to the gift of justification, or perhaps a result of it. Curiously, the Catechism can’t even bring itself to say that it is received *by faith*, much less by love/charity/agape.

    Notice that St. Paul places justification after sanctification and after washing. The washing refers to baptism, and refers to the removal of sin. ‘Sanctified’ refers to the immediate infusion of grace, faith, hope, and agape, by which we were ‘justified.’ If St. Paul had any notion that sanctification only follows justification, he would never have placed sanctification before justification.

    Yikes, that’s an exegetical howler. The order of the elements in Paul’s sentence does not (at least, necessarily) indicate a chronological nor causal priority. The rest is mere assertion on your part – it is contested that the “washing of regeneration” refers to baptism. Some commentators accept that it refers to baptism (including some Reformed commentators), others don’t. And not all (or perhaps even most) Protestant commentators interpret this instance of “sanctification” to refer to our conception sanctification as the growing of holiness in the Christian life, they either conceive of it as referring to a general “setting apart” or else a definitive sanctification. The text really underdetermines the issue, but there are no contextual clues that it refers to “an immediate infusion of grace, faith, hope, and agape” and the grammar here does not establish that this sanctification is the means by which they are justified.

  152. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Jeff # 149.

    I don’t disagree. I remember a few years ago when a single paragraph taken from a 300 page book was bolstered around the media which was accompanied by the conclusion that the Pope ‘approved condoms for prostitutes.’ Of course, that is not what he said. I don’t think this is new and particular to the Pope, however.

  153. August 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    John B, I appreciate much of what you have to say but I’m afraid that the issue of Pope B.’s alleged pantheism is too far afield of the topic here.

  154. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    John.

    Think of poor Bryan and Sean here, doing the heavy lifting, separating the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the very doctrinal watchdog of the Infallible Church, from the meaning of these “uncareful” statements.

    I think you are giving yourself too much credit. Knocking down your argument did not require any heavy lifting at all : )

  155. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    David G 153, just trying to wrap some context around the fusion/participation thing.

  156. August 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Jeff Cagle, I too was thinking to myself yesterday how exceedingly poorly-written the CCC is on justification, even setting aside the fact that I think the theology is bunk. Some of it is due to the incoherence of, for instance, mixing merit and grace. But it just seems like someone took a bunch of words on the subject, threw them into a blender, and hit “puree”.

  157. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    And Sean — a kind word to you from a Protestant and an all-around agreement “uncareful statements” by your Cardinal Watchdog [on these few comments -- he's written much more along these lines] is hardly a “knockdown” of my argument, and nor is it anything that you should be happy about.

  158. Sean Patrick said,

    August 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    John #157.

    My final word on this – there is no doubt in my mind that Pope Benedict is not a pantheist and does not teach ‘something close to pantheism.’ No Catholic thinks that. As far as I can tell, no other person in the world thinks that except for you.

  159. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    As far as I can tell, no other person in the world thinks that except for you.

    They said that to Luther, too.

    But no, I’m not making that comparison. As far as I can tell, Pope Ratzinger will be replaced soon by Pope Somebody Else, and that new person will have his own “remarkably uncareful” statements as well.

  160. August 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Jason S said My response was that the exact same questions could have been asked by the crowd to Jesus when he said that unless you bear your cross you can’t be his disciple, and unless you do his commands you will not be finally saved, or of Paul when he said that if we sow to the Spirit we will reap eternal life: “How much cross-bearing, Jesus? How much obedience? What degree of Spirit-sowing do I have to perform to reap heaven, Paul?”

    But there is a fundamentally different answer the Protestant can give, based on the fact that we do not habitually commit the fallacy of reading verses that use *conditional* statements (such as Rom 8:17) regarding works and eternal life as *causal* statements. The answer is, the amount of cross-bearing/obedience that is needed to fulfill the condition is whatever amount, number, and quality of good works God has prepared in advance for us to do between our conversion and death (Eph. 2:10). Since Christ has satisfied the demands of God’s justice for us, we don’t have to wonder if we have done enough good works and accumulated enough merit to supplement the work of the Cross.

  161. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Jeff, (re: #144)

    well, I’m not Catholic, so I have to imagine a bit.

    Actually, you don’t have to imagine or speculate out loud. There’s another option: simply ask a Catholic.

    that the theology of Purgatory combined with the Catholic doctrine of free-will as a response to grace, forces the individual to introspect.

    Reformed persons need to introspect to know whether they are elect-for-glory. So the requirement of introspection applies to both.

    Having been ‘initially justified’ by faith (or baptism?), Joe Catholic must now really wonder whether his works are sufficient to merit eternal life;

    I’ve never met a Catholic who asks himself that question. We examine ourselves to see whether we are in a state of grace. Being in a state of grace at death is sufficient for attaining eternal life. It has nothing to do with trying to determe how much merit one’s works have attained to that point.

    These GB conversations continually reveal how far we have to go before we even understand each other.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  162. Bob S said,

    August 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    John, Jeff, DG, et al, whether pantheism, justification or whatever, the Roman tactic seems to be all about pumping out more and more bull schtick. Don’t stop to retract per se and only clarify by further confusing things.

    But if God cannot communicate perspicuously, and we are made in his image, well connect the dots and give up a reasonable faith for a head first cannonball into Teilhard’s mysticism. It’s got to be as cool, hip and refreshing as Humpty Dumpty’s version of fusion only means what Chuck Smith says it means.

  163. Bob S said,

    August 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    These GB conversations continually reveal how far we have to go before we even understand each other.

    That’s a howler. Your for-all-practical-purposes-completely-fallible private judgement can’t even understand itself, much more somebody else’s opinion of their own PJ in order to come to some sort of Roman version of ecumenicism.

    Was I baptized? Did I go to church on the five holy days this year and take communion? Did I commit any mortal sins, much more commit the venial/mortal? sin of not going to confession to confess my mortal sins? Then I am in a state of RC grace, but purgatory might await.

    Do I believe in and confess Christ? Then I am in the catholic state, not Vatican, of grace.

    cordially

  164. TurretinFan said,

    August 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    While there is something amusing about watching the defense of Ratzinger by those who serve him, the matter is not quite as cut and dried as they may like to believe.

    On the one hand, Ratzinger has (on a variety of occasions) identified pantheism as an error. He used the word “pantheism” to do so (an example is present in my comments below). So far so good. But what does he consider to be heretical pantheism? One can engage in the word-concept fallacy on either side of the orthodox-heretical divide.

    So, it would be helpful to see whether he has embraced any teachings that have already been condemned as pantheistic. Thankfully, we don’t have to a detailed comparison of his teachings to see if they line up with someone like John Scotus,

    After all, Ratzinger/Benedict XVI characterized John Scotus thus: “In fact, John Scotus represents a radical Platonism that sometimes seems to approach a pantheistic vision, even though his personal subjective intentions were always orthodox.”

    He goes on to state: “John Scotus, here too using terminology dear to the Christian tradition of the Greek language, called this experience for which we strive “theosis”, or divinization, with such daring affirmations that he might be suspected of heterodox pantheism.”

    And not only was Scotus (whom Ratzinger defends) suspected of heterodox pantheism, after his death his work was condemned for this heresy by a regional council and Honorius III in 1225 ordered all copies of the offending book (the very one that Ratzinger goes on to quote with approval from) to be burnt.

    So, perhaps Bryan Cross can explain to us why we should accept the teaching of Benedict XVI as orthodox, given that it seems to endorse the teaching of John Scotus, condemned by Honorius III. (The quotations above are from Benedict XVI’s general audience June 10, 2009.)

    And then, and perhaps this is key, he explain why we are able to judge the orthodoxy of Scotus based on his writings (praised by one pope, condemned by another), but we lack the authority to judge what doctrines the Bible teaches.

    – TurretinFan

    P.S. If Honorius III can be forgiven for seeing pantheism in Scotus (assuming he was wrong to do so), perhaps Bugay can be forgiven for seeing pantheism in Benedict XVI (since at least he would seem at least to have Honorius III on his side).

  165. TurretinFan said,

    August 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I recognize that my comment #164 explores a tangent that may be better addressed “off-line.” I have posted essentially the same comment to my own blog (link below), in case the conversation is better had there.

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2012/08/ratzinger-scotian-pantheist.html

    -TurretinFan

  166. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Bryan (#161): Reformed persons need to introspect to know whether they are elect-for-glory.

    They don’t need to, but I will give you this much: some do. And in fact, in some Reformed margins (H. Hoeksema, e.g.), there is an emphasis on this.

    But for Calvin, the question of election was not to be introspected upon. One looked to the promises of God and rested in them. Faith looks to the object, not the subject.

    BC: There’s another option: simply ask a Catholic.

    I suppose I could. But would a Catholic answer my question? I seem to have about a 20% success rate in getting my questions answered.

    JRC: Joe Catholic must now really wonder whether his works are sufficient to merit eternal life;

    BC: I’ve never met a Catholic who asks himself that question. We examine ourselves to see whether we are in a state of grace.

    Well, OK, then why is there such an emphasis in this discussion on passages that allegedly show that works done in love are needed to merit eternal life, and that those without works (like the wicked servant) are cast into Hell?

    And how would you know that you are in a state of grace other than by your works and/or sins? For the CCC rejects subjective feelings as a measure of being in a state of grace.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong. I just don’t understand how what you’re saying squares with what you’ve been previously saying.

    BC: These GB conversations continually reveal how far we have to go before we even understand each other.

    Amen.

  167. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    David, (re: #109)

    … St. Paul was also talking about “initial” justification throughout Romans 4 and 5, where Christ is said to have died for the “ungodly”, “enemies” and “sinners”, and even that God justifies the ungodly. Such have neither good works nor inward virtue (such as agape) nor good character.

    Of course they don’t have the virtues of faith, hope, and agape before regeneration. But in the Catholic paradigm that’s precisely what they receive at the moment of regeneration, when God justifies them.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  168. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Bryan (#166): To anticipate an objection — I have indeed asked this question of several former Catholics, and their unanimous testimony was that they had “Catholic guilt” in spades.

    You may argue that this shows that they didn’t understand Catholicism (“no true Irishman”?), but it also helps explain why they are no longer Catholic.

  169. isaiah. said,

    August 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Observation:

    All this talk about “slippery” – or perhaps just “confusing” – language, whether as said by this theologian or that, this confession or that: has anyone besides me ever been utterly perplexed by what exactly that great Theologian and Doctor of the Church, the esteemed and holy Paul, is saying from one epistle or one chapter (or one verse!) to the next?

    If I read commentaries and catechisms (indeed, even blogs and their combox-ers – but only when I’m desperate) to help me understand the Scriptures, it’s because the things said therein, by Paul, Peter – heck, even Our Lord Himself – just aren’t crystal clear. As evidence, why would we be arguing amongst ourselves if there were only one interpretation of the Scriptures on justification and salvation and faith (and their interaction)?

    Maybe this point is obvious only to me (though I doubt that very much). But, if everybody here thinks the Scriptures are crystal clear and unambiguous about all the things that have been raised in this blog post alone, then I guess I’ve been lurking around the wrong blog.

    Anyway: just sayin’.

    -ih.

  170. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    David G 156:

    it just seems like someone took a bunch of words on the subject, threw them into a blender, and hit “puree”.

    Bob S 162:

    the Roman tactic seems to be all about pumping out more and more bull schtick. Don’t stop to retract per se and only clarify by further confusing things.

    Jeff C 166:

    But would a Catholic answer my question? I seem to have about a 20% success rate in getting my questions answered.

    Can anyone see why someone who wanted to take this all seriously (i.e. me, and from the inside even!) would first of all become cynical about it, and second, make the conscious decision to warn people about it?

    And … why a really smart and cosmopolitan guy like Jason Stellman, who spent so much time not being able to understand it, would think, “hey, this is more than I can understand, so it must be right”?

    Same sort of experience that the disciples of Hegel had, I hear.

  171. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    TF (re: #164),

    So, perhaps Bryan Cross can explain to us why we should accept the teaching of Benedict XVI as orthodox, given that it seems to endorse the teaching of John Scotus, condemned by Honorius III.

    The aspects of Scotus which Pope Benedicts commends are not the errors for which his work was later condemned. So in no way does his general audience on Scotus call his [i.e. Pope Benedict's] orthodoxy into question.

    And then, and perhaps this is key, he explain why we are able to judge the orthodoxy of Scotus based on his writings (praised by one pope, condemned by another), but we lack the authority to judge what doctrines the Bible teaches.

    I don’t assume that you are able to judge rightly concerning the orthodoxy of Scotus. I don’t assume that apart from the Church I could rightly judge such a thing.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  172. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Jeff (re: #166)

    why is there such an emphasis in this discussion on passages that allegedly show that works done in love are needed to merit eternal life

    It is not “needed” in the absolute sense, as if all baptized babies who die before doing some good work go to hell. We get to, i.e. have the opportunity to, love God through our thoughts, words, and actions. Those who choose not to, have made themselves their own god, and chosen the way of perdition.

    But the person who is treating good works as some burdensome chore that must be done to get to heaven is thinking like a Pharisee — with the law external to him. God loves a cheerful giver. Those who by their lives show love for God, reap the reward of that love, which is union with the Beloved, i.e. eternal life.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  173. jsm52 said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    From BC @ 167: But in the Catholic paradigm that’s precisely what they receive at the moment of regeneration, when God justifies them.

    From BC @ 124: Notice that St. Paul places justification after sanctification and after washing. The washing refers to baptism, and refers to the removal of sin. ‘Sanctified’ refers to the immediate infusion of grace, faith, hope, and agape, by which we were ‘justified.’

    CCC 2019: Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.

    So, let’s see –

    – justified precisely at the moment of regeneration…

    or

    – justified after sanctification and after washing… the removal of sin… the infusion of grace, faith, hope, and agape…

    or

    sanctification is included in justification…

    Are we clear yet?

    To repeat the quote from my 138:

    “May I suggest that this apparent self-contradiction is because Rome confuses Tradition with precedent? The burden of having to keep every doctrine ever taught, instead of weighing truth against error by the standard of Scripture with Universal Consensus and Antiquity, creates a disability that hinders direct and powerful proclamation of the Gospel. They want to proclaim that Christ’s sacrifice alone is full and sufficient, but they are in bondage to a Medieval error that ought to be tossed out. This is no small matter. It must be thoroughly discussed and cleared up.”

  174. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Jeff (re: #166)

    And how would you know that you are in a state of grace other than by your works and/or sins? For the CCC rejects subjective feelings as a measure of being in a state of grace.

    Of course what we do, and why we do it, indicate what is in our heart, and whether we are in a state of grace. But that’s an altogether different question from “are my works sufficient to merit eternal life.”

    I have indeed asked this question of several former Catholics, and their unanimous testimony was that they had “Catholic guilt” in spades.

    I don’t know which question you are referring to, but changing religions because one feels guilt is not necessarily a good thing. If one is guilty, and needs to address sin in one’s life, one should feel guilt. The feeling of guilt, in such a case, is there for a God-given reason, to lead to repentance. Many people are practicing grave sins (e.g. pornography, fornication, etc.) and they feel guilty because they know that what they are doing is wrong.

    So the I-want-a-religion-in-which-I-feel-no-guilt phenomenon is, in my opinion, a form of ecclesial consumerism, and worship of self. But, it is also possible that persons not well catechized (and there are many of them) feel guilty for things that they ought not feel guilty. This is the problem of scrupulosity, and a good spiritual director is typically needed to resolve it, for a person struggling with this problem.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  175. August 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Bryan said Of course they don’t have the virtues of faith, hope, and agape before regeneration. But in the Catholic paradigm that’s precisely what they receive at the moment of regeneration, when God justifies them.

    I never said anything about “before regeneration”, nor does St. Paul mention regeneration at this juncture. You are trying to wedge this in because you want the virtues instilled in regeneration to effect justification. But this is foreign to the text. It says the ungodly is reckoned righteous/justified, it doesn’t say the ungodly is made godly/righteous and then is justified.

  176. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Jack, (re: #172)

    - justified after sanctification and after washing

    It is not a temporal order, but a logical order, hence simultaneous.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  177. Bryan Cross said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    David (re: #174),

    It says the ungodly is reckoned righteous/justified, it doesn’t say the ungodly is made godly/righteous and then is justified.

    In the Catholic paradigm, that’s just how God reckons an unregenerate person righteous, by making that person actually righteous, so that His reckoning is true.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  178. August 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Anyone who wants to debate the pantheism issue should go to the combox of the article on TurretinFan’s blog that he kindly posted above in #165.

  179. August 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Bryan said In the Catholic paradigm, that’s just how God reckons an unregenerate person righteous, by making that person actually righteous, so that His reckoning is true.

    Super, too bad the Catholic paradigm is not found, indeed is contradicted by St. Paul in this very text.

  180. jsm52 said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    BC –

    How does justification logically follow sanctification (BC 124) while at the same time sanctification is logically included in justification (CCC 2019)?

    I’m sure you have an answer. I’m just highlighting the maze-like complexity of RCC theology.

  181. August 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    jsm52, I think it is worthwhile to ask how the Greek grammar in Titus actually supports a logical or causal priority of sanctification.

  182. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Bryan, I think these cases were more the ‘scrupulosity’ case; sadly, it was encouraged by their spiritual mentors.

  183. jsm52 said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    David,

    I’m no Greek student… I’ll ask, how does it? Answer away, my friend!

    Jack

  184. August 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    jsm52, I meant ask Bryan. See my point on this at #151 (final paragraph).

  185. johnbugay said,

    August 20, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    David 151, JSM 182:

    Of course that would be because “Catholics have always looked to the Tradition; we seek to determine how the Church has understood and explained the passage over the past two millennia”…

    the Catholic approach to Scripture lies in its ecclesiology, its understanding of the Church as a family extending through time back to Christ and the Apostles, and perpetually vivified by the Holy Spirit. And this understanding of the Church as a family spread out through many generations, has methodological implications with respect to interpreting Scripture. Here’s why. If you were to come into my home, you would understand many things said in my family, because you speak the same language that our broader society speaks (i.e. English). But you would not understand some things that we say to each other, because you would not have the inside-the-family point of view. You wouldn’t get the inside jokes, the allusions to past family events you hadn’t experienced. You would not have the internal lived experience of my family as the fuller context of our present communication with one another. To understand fully our intra-family communication, you would have to live with us for quite some time, learn our in-house catch words, the events and habits and stories that form the mutually understood background against which we expect our speech-acts to be understood when we communicate to each other.

    The Catholic understanding of the Church as a family stretched out over two-thousand years entails likewise that there is within her an inside point-of-view, a context that is richer and fuller than the social context common to pagans and Christians alike …

    Thus, any error from any era can make its way into Catholic dogma, and no one is worse for the wear.

  186. jsm52 said,

    August 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    David,

    Again, not a “Greekie” – I was just handing it off to you. I have a feeling Bryan would find a way to conform the Greek to Tradition or any number of the multiple, yet conflicting, RCC teachings regarding sanctification. But, here goes:

    Bryan,

    “How does the Greek grammar in Titus actually support a logical or causal priority of sanctification?

    David, please stay in the on-deck circle…

  187. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Jason said (133),

    Paul doesn’t say, “We may profess to be Christians, provided we suffer with him.” He says, “We are children of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him.”

    Jason,

    As Lane points out in the last paragraph of the opening post of this thread, the big issue here is whether those works we all agree are absolutely necessary are causative of our justification or evidentiary. You have picked up on some verses which you are sure are causative, but it’s just not obvious at all. Take the verse above. I’m sure you know that the Puritans pounded on these kinds of verses over and over again to impress on their listeners that we must suffer with Christ or we are not the children of God. But they were in no way bringing into question justification apart from works in the Reformed understanding of such things. And there is no reason why we need to posit any kind of contradiction. But you are convinced for reasons I am not sure of (other than the fact that you now more closely associate with a Roman confession than a Genevan one) that the statement that being the children of God necessitates our suffering with him means that such suffering becomes part of what God uses to justify us.

    From the Reformed perspective – Yes, we MUST evidence works (such as those associated with suffering for Christ) if we are truly the children of God. But no, these are not causative of our justification. Is there any reason to assume a contradiction?

  188. TurretinFan said,

    August 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Bryan:

    You wrote: “The aspects of Scotus which Pope Benedicts commends are not the errors for which his work was later condemned. So in no way does his general audience on Scotus call his [i.e. Pope Benedict's] orthodoxy into question.”

    a) Yes, they were (“… daring affirmations that he might be suspected of heterodox pantheism … “).
    b) If my above demonstration was insufficient, note that he goes on to state, in so many words: “In fact, the entire theological thought of John Scotus is the most evident demonstration of the attempt to express the expressible of the inexpressible God, based solely upon the mystery of the Word made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth.”
    c) Praising a work that was condemned by his predecessor would be enough to call his orthodoxy into question, even in the absence of specific praise of his apparently pantheistic teachings and of his “entire theological thought.”

    “I don’t assume that you are able to judge rightly concerning the orthodoxy of Scotus. I don’t assume that apart from the Church I could rightly judge such a thing.”

    Your church provides contradictory guidance. Honorius III condemns and insults the book, Benedict XVI praises and quotes the book. Which pope will you pick?

    -TurretinFan

  189. TurretinFan said,

    August 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Oops – reading sequentially, I now see the admonition to go to my blog. I have cross-posted my reply there.

  190. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 12:14 am

    David, (re: #178)

    Super, too bad the Catholic paradigm is not found, indeed is contradicted by St. Paul in this very text.

    Which verses in Romans 4 and 5 do you think contradict the Catholic paradigm? From my point of view, all the verses of those two chapters fit perfectly into the Catholic paradigm.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  191. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Jack (re: #179)

    How does justification logically follow sanctification (BC 124) while at the same time sanctification is logically included in justification (CCC 2019)?

    Justification (in the sense of having the righteousness of God) follows logically (but not temporally) the infusion of agape. What CCC 2019 means is that sanctification is included in the justification event, precisely because sanctification must logically precede it. No one is justified who does not have infused agape. In order to be justified, one must have agape poured into one’s heart.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  192. Bob S said,

    August 21, 2012 at 12:22 am

    184 John
    Again, Scripture is not sufficient or capable of addressing, much more correcting dysfunctional family traditions, lexicons or vocabulary. Perish the thought. May it never be. Long live the infallible Magisterium.

    But I liked the last line:

    The Catholic understanding of the Church as a family stretched out over two-thousand years entails likewise that there is within her an inside point-of-view, a context that is richer and fuller than the social context common to pagans and Christians alike … …

    Now I don’t know about you, but maybe, just maybe reformed catholics are right up there with the pagans and miss out on the richer, fuller Roman Catholic context. As far as the insider POV goes, DT King nailed it when he called it gnosticism.

    Bryan likes to play the epistemological shell game and flirt, if not fornicate with equivocation. As for the” let your yea be yea, and your nay nay”, not so much. You can’t understand me and I can’t understand you because I represent such a richer tradition and context. Or maybe I am not such an articulate un-appointed spokesman in the first place and I ought to stand down and shut up.

    And now I am going to take my own advice, and be a good example for Bryan and Jason.

    ciao

  193. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Jack, (re: #185)

    “How does the Greek grammar in Titus actually support a logical or causal priority of sanctification?

    Here’s the passage:

    But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs [a]according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

    Here too the means by which Christ saves us is through the washing of regeneration (i.e. baptism), and renewing by the Holy Spirit. So the washing refers to the removal of sin, and the renewal by the Holy Spirit refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which includes the gifts of sanctifying grace, faith, hope, and agape by which the Holy Spirit is not merely present (as omnipresent) but in communion with us. In this way we were justified by His grace, and made heirs. What make us heirs is having a participation in the divine nature, and thus the indwelling of the Spirit of Jesus. In this way we become co-heirs with Christ. So here to the washing and inner renewal by grace and the Holy Spirit is the means by which we are justified and made heirs of eternal life.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  194. August 21, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Bryan said Which verses in Romans 4 and 5 do you think contradict the Catholic paradigm? From my point of view, all the verses of those two chapters fit perfectly into the Catholic paradigm.

    St. Paul says that God is the one who “justifies the ungodly” in Romans 4:5. It will not do to respond that the “Catholic paradigm” understands that “justification” to include inward renewal/making inwardly righteous. That definition of “justifies” has no lexical basis in the Greek text. Nor is there a basis for that in the immediate context of this chapter. Nor is there basis for that in the rest of Paul’s writings.

    You are not lifting a finger to demonstrate that the Catholic paradigm is Paul’s paradigm, as is par for the course for your comments. You are obsessed with what paradigms can be crammed, shoehorned, and crow-barred in and made to “fit” the text, rather than the paradigms the text actually establishes. Inserting a definition of “justification” from the CCC into the text and saying “hey, it fits” is doing theology in reverse. It is not only unscholarly, but impious, as it demonstrates contempt for treating the Word of God seriously.

  195. August 21, 2012 at 3:14 am

    It is most difficult to believe that Bryan is debating in good faith when his “answer” to Jack’s (and my) question in #192 in no way resembles an exegetical argument from the text of Titus 2, as if we wouldn’t notice. If he is debating in good faith then it is perhaps worse, because #192 then demonstrates his embarrassing and woeful incompetence in not even understanding what biblical exegesis is, and we might rightly wonder why we bother wasting any time reading and responding to any of the cyber-ink he spills.

  196. johnbugay said,

    August 21, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Note what Bryan Cross did to Turretinfan. This should be an object lesson about Roman Catholic exegesis.

    In 164, Turretinfan cites Pope Benedict XVI defending John Scotus Erigena, whose work “On the Division of Nature” (867) had been condemned in 1225 by a local council, and Pope Honorius III described his work as “swarming with worms of heretical perversity” and “ordered that all copies [of his book] should be burned”.

    Benedict, as pope, said this about him: “In fact, John Scotus represents a radical Platonism that sometimes seems to approach a pantheistic vision, even though his personal subjective intentions were always orthodox.”

    Bryan, without batting an eye, comes up with this (Comment 170):

    The aspects of Scotus which Pope Benedicts commends are not the errors for which his work was later condemned. So in no way does his general audience on Scotus call his [i.e. Pope Benedict's] orthodoxy into question.

    This is not an actual, and quick, analysis on Bryan’s part. Bryan could care less what was actually said. Instead, Bryan needs to say this: “in no way does his general audience on Scotus call his [i.e. Pope Benedict's] orthodoxy into question”.

    So he does say it. And for Bryan, the need to guarantee the orthodoxy of a pope supercedes all else.

    Whatever anyone else’s real intentions were, whatever they actually said, “in no way is the pope’s orthodoxy in question.”

    It’s his ruling assumption. Whatever the pope says is not in question. This is “the obedience of faith”, and it supercedes even the logic that he professes to profess.

  197. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 21, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Bryan (#191): Justification (in the sense of having the righteousness of God) follows logically (but not temporally) the infusion of agape.

    So this does seem to create a small problem, for Paul says that God justifies the ungodly. But here, you say that we are made godly, then justified.

  198. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

    David (re: #194),

    St. Paul says that God is the one who “justifies the ungodly” in Romans 4:5. It will not do to respond that the “Catholic paradigm” understands that “justification” to include inward renewal/making inwardly righteous. That definition of “justifies” has no lexical basis in the Greek text.

    The assumption that the meaning of a term is dictated by a lexicon, rather than by the Tradition, is part of the Protestant paradigm, as explained here. So here you are using a presupposition of the Protestant paradigm, to argue that the verses of Romans 4-5 do not fit into the Catholic paradigm. What I’m asking is for you to support, in a non-question-begging way, your claim (in #179) that the Catholic paradigm “is contradicted by St. Paul in this very text.”

    when his “answer” to Jack’s (and my) question in #192 in no way resembles an exegetical argument from the text of Titus 2, as if we wouldn’t notice. If he is debating in good faith then it is perhaps worse, because #192 then demonstrates his embarrassing and woeful incompetence in not even understanding what biblical exegesis is,

    I was awarded the Exegesis Prize by the faculty of Covenant Theological Seminary, as the top exegete of my graduating class. So, I know how to exegete. Your reasoning mistake here is assuming that when I do not exegete, that therefore I do not know how to exegete. In actuality, the meaning of a text is often not an exegetical question, because exegesis per se underdetermines the hermeneutical conclusion. If you think what I said about the meaning of the Titus passage is falsified by exegesis, feel free to show how.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  199. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Jeff (re: #197)

    So this does seem to create a small problem, for Paul says that God justifies the ungodly. But here, you say that we are made godly, then justified.

    Actually, that’s not what I said. They are justified precisely by being made godly.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  200. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

    TF (re: #188)

    I pointed out that the aspects of Scotus which Pope Benedict commends are not the errors for which Scotus’s work was later condemned. You replied:

    a) Yes, they were (“… daring affirmations that he might be suspected of heterodox pantheism … “).

    No, in fact, they were not. In no place in this general audience does Pope Benedict commend pantheism, but instead commends only what is true in Scotus’s account of theosis in union with the Truth. Even from the first centuries of the Church Catholics have understood that there are truths present in works containing errors.

    note that he goes on to state, in so many words: “In fact, the entire theological thought of John Scotus is the most evident demonstration of the attempt to express the expressible of the inexpressible God, based solely upon the mystery of the Word made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth.”

    That’s fully compatible with what I said.

    Praising a work that was condemned by his predecessor would be enough to call his orthodoxy into question

    Only in the mind that is not Catholic. The mind that is Catholic knows that the condemnation of a work does not mean that everything in it is false, and that the praise of a work does not mean that everything in it is true.

    Your church provides contradictory guidance.

    No it doesn’t. From the outside, perhaps, it might appear that way, but from the inside there is in actuality no contradiction, nor have you shown there to be one. To understand, you must first believe. Without belief, you will not understand. Credo ut intelligam.

    I hope the conversation can return to the topic of Lane’s response to Jason.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  201. johnbugay said,

    August 21, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Bryan:

    I hope the conversation can return to the topic of Lane’s response to Jason.

    Ha ha, Bryan, you missed it, I had already posted a link to your Tradition and the Lexicon article in #185 before you posted it in 199. I’ve already said all the important things that need to be said about that article, too.

    Lane’s response, which you so sorely seem to want to pursue, presupposes that words in the Bible have contextual and grammatical meaning, which mean nothing to you. How can you have a discussion about “Lane’s response” in that context?

    Maybe you guys are right about the need to iron out “interpretive paradigms” first. Although your “IP”, which relies not only on what human beings think of as “tradition”, but something quite malleable, which you call “Tradition”, in which real exegesis may or may not be required, depending upon what needs to be said in order to keep the Roman Catholic church from looking bad, as I have noted here.

    Congratulations on your “exegesis” prize, although, now that is wasted, in the saddest sense of the word, wouldn’t you think?

  202. TurretinFan said,

    August 21, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Bryan:

    You raise a number of straw men in your response at #200. My point that Benedict XVI praises what Honorius III condemned is fully consistent with your claim that Benedict XVI only praises what is true in Scotus’ account. It just requires that Honorius III erred. The same goes for part (b) – B16 can be fully right in praising Scotus’ “entire thought” if (and only if) Honorius III was wrong about part of that entire thought.

    Likewise, you attack premises that are not in my argument when you claim that “The mind that is Catholic knows that the condemnation of a work does not mean that everything in it is false, and that the praise of a work does not mean that everything in it is true.” Instead, I argued that praising a condemned work calls the person’s orthodoxy into question, which in no way depends on either of those premises.

    As for your ad hominem argument that one has to be inside your church in order to see absence of contradiction, that argument is a sword with two edges. Perhaps it is your zeal for your false religion that blinds you to the fact that one pope praising a work for its “daring affirmations” that sound like pantheism and another condemning it for its pantheistic sounding statements is contradictory guidance. But perhaps the question is this: does the law of non-contradiction work differently in the papalist mind than in the normal mind? If not, then your claim is at best a red herring.

    -TurretinFan

  203. TurretinFan said,

    August 21, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Re: #198, “If you think what I said about the meaning of the Titus passage is falsified by exegesis, feel free to show how.”

    Of course, the question wasn’t whether exegesis falsifies the alleged meaning but whether exegesis establishes the alleged meaning. We’ve repeatedly pointed out that this is the Achilles’ heel of Bryan Cross’ novel interpretation. It’s not derived from the text – it’s imposed on the text. Whether or not the meaning imposed on the text is “falsified by exegesis” isn’t the right touchstone.

    -TurretinFan

  204. August 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Bryan,

    I too am glad to hear you want to discuss Lane’s post. There’s a place for Geneva and Rome to discuss what is the proper role and authority of ‘Tradition’ in Christ’s church. Once we learn that we can agree to disagree, we can talk about the blog posts and whether blogging theology, at all, is worth while. I’m willing to concede, as a newb, that I don’t know the years of history leading up to all these blog posts and comments. So I can’t appeal to the ‘tradition’ of blogs and theological blog thought. So perhaps things written out here in blogoapheric space are a reaction to things, with deep history. Just know, for me, the new guy, this all seems a bit abusrd.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  205. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 21, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Bryan, that is precisely what you said. Logical priority shows the relationship of grounds. You said, Justification follows logically (but not temporally) the infusion of agape.

    The ground therefore of our justification is agape.

    God is therefore justifying the godly.

  206. Bob S said,

    August 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    This kind of arrogant and pompous boasting in 198 below after the repeated refusal to do exactly that when it came to 2 Tim. 3:15-17 in the Arguments For the Papacy thread, much more prove, rather than just assert, that sola scriptura was generated by a protestant hermeneutic instead of faithfulness to what the text actually said.

    I was awarded the Exegesis Prize by the faculty of Covenant Theological Seminary, as the top exegete of my graduating class. So, I know how to exegete. Your reasoning mistake here is assuming that when I do not exegete, that therefore I do not know how to exegete. In actuality, the meaning of a text is often not an exegetical question, because exegesis per se underdetermines the hermeneutical conclusion. If you think what I said about the meaning of the Titus passage is falsified by exegesis, feel free to show how.

    Then in 200 somebody wonders why the conversation doesn’t return to the topic of Lane’s response to Jason.

    No commento, Dr. Dimento. Far be it from me to think a dexterous and cunning Roman controversialist owes an answer to anybody. Blind /implicit faith is what it is, after all.
    Called to Chutzpah indeed.

  207. johnbugay said,

    August 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    “exegesis per se underdetermines the hermeneutical conclusion.”

    Telling.

  208. michael said,

    August 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Bob S @ 206 here is just my own arrogant and pompous boasting. I am ambidextrous when I type! :) And I have been known to type over a 100 words a minute, to boot!!

    Can I play in this game then?

  209. michael said,

    August 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Brian Cross:

    “Only in the mind that is not Catholic. The mind that is Catholic knows that the condemnation of a work does not mean that everything in it is false, and that the praise of a work does not mean that everything in it is true.”

    Brian, for me, that seems to me to be about the truest statement you have ever made making that distinction between the mind that is Catholic in juxtaposing those who have been given the Mind of Christ, wretched those we may be!

    On the contrary to the point about praising the work, the Apostle Paul made a different point about it by writing something different to the Ephesians.

    His point, if it is not clear is “all” the works of the True Believer are true works nothing false in or about them and these works are works of Righteousness done by Faith through Faith in Faith. And this Faith is the Faith of another, Christ Jesus’!

    Here’s what Paul wrote:

    Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    Now, of course, it is understood there are two kinds of works being distinguished and done these days in the Name of the Lord. Good works that we should walk in are the Works of the Lord done by Him through His Body as of course one realizes who has been born again to let Him do them as the same Apostle writes about here:

    Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    Col 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
    Col 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
    Col 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

    With Scriptures like those, nowhere am I able to claim anything as my own to boast in, like your boast (the Exegesis Prize by the faculty of Covenant Theological Seminary,) about being awarded the exegete award! How does that qualify you to be able to exegete what the Holy Spirit has had written for our learning and admonition upon whom the ends of the world have come?

    It is telling to me, too, that you bring us back to your best efforts and achievements all the while the True Church is bowing before Our King and Rule, God, Shepherd and Lord exhorting you!

    Isn’t that interesting?

    Can you cite anyone of us in here who boast as you have in here about yourself as a way to justify your truth?

  210. August 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Andrew,

    As Lane points out in the last paragraph of the opening post of this thread, the big issue here is whether those works we all agree are absolutely necessary are causative of our justification or evidentiary. You have picked up on some verses which you are sure are causative, but it’s just not obvious at all.

    Andrew, just stomping your feet is not an argument. I have adduced several passages and have argued that they connect our Spirit-wrought works to our final salvation in a causative way, and you have not even attempted an answer (beyond asking me why I think sowing and reaping are causally related, which is the most awesome question ever). So I will say to you what I said to Lane: you can’t just say “I disagree” when someone makes an argument, you need to show why the argument is wrong.

    Take the verse above. I’m sure you know that the Puritans pounded on these kinds of verses over and over again to impress on their listeners that we must suffer with Christ or we are not the children of God. But they were in no way bringing into question justification apart from works in the Reformed understanding of such things. And there is no reason why we need to posit any kind of contradiction.

    I brought up Rom. 8:17 in response to Jack, who complained that the Catholic gospel takes away what it gives by sounding gracious initially, but then adding some requirement into the mix. My point was that the NT does that all the time, Rom. 8:17 being one example.

    But you are convinced for reasons I am not sure of (other than the fact that you now more closely associate with a Roman confession than a Genevan one) that the statement that being the children of God necessitates our suffering with him means that such suffering becomes part of what God uses to justify us.

    Nope. Never said that. See my paragraph above.

    From the Reformed perspective – Yes, we MUST evidence works (such as those associated with suffering for Christ) if we are truly the children of God. But no, these are not causative of our justification. Is there any reason to assume a contradiction?

    As I said to Lane, I know what the Reformed position is. So when I adduce passages like the parable of the talents, the sheep and goats judgment, the reap/sow verse in Gal. 6, and all the others I have cited, is it your plan to just restate the Reformed position? Because that isn’t an argument.

  211. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Jeff, (re: 205)

    You said, Justification follows logically (but not temporally) the infusion of agape. The ground therefore of our justification is agape. God is therefore justifying the godly.

    You’re conflating justification as an action, and justification as a state. Justification as a state follows logically (but not temporally) the infusion of agape. But when you conclude “God is therefore justifying the godly” you equivocate by using justification as an action. And that’s why your conclusion doesn’t follow. God doesn’t justify the godly. He justifies the ungodly, by infusing agape into them. The result of this infusion is justification as a state.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  212. michael said,

    August 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Jason:

    As I said to Lane, I know what the Reformed position is.

    Do you?

    I think that statement has for me at least uncovered some truth about you in it like the demons complaining that they “knew who Jesus is” and then … .

    Luk 4:41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

    What seems to me, sitting from a far looking in at your life unfolding in blogs sphere on the blogs you make comment in about your conversion to Catholicism from the Reformed Faith, is you are a wolf in sheep cloth and as things began to become clearer to others who noticed that reality about you your answer was to do the right thing and jump in and swim the Tiber!

    With your level of intelligence and acumen you will or should do well there?

    Either that or you are just one deceived dude troubled deeply about why things in your own life don’t add up to Reformed Faith and orthodoxy and you were not able to find some brothers to help you through the trouble?

    If that is the case then the Tiber in time will become just another trouble for you and your days ahead as in your Reformed days became trouble for you in those days behind you??

    For me, it saddens me and in some sense it makes me tremble even more before the Lord knowing what I know.

    Here’s my hope if in fact you are just one deceived dude and not that wolf in sheep cloth.

    It is that you would find the same “peace” Paul wrote about to Timothy and that you come to personally experience the same result? The Apostle could come down to a human levelj in sharing his personal sufferings and conflicts without and within and be able to personalize it as we see here:

    2Ti 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
    2Ti 4:15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.
    2Ti 4:16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!
    2Ti 4:17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
    2Ti 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

    I will just say it boldly that the Lord will not stand by or strengthen someone who is supporting or participating in false religions of the world.

  213. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Bryan (#211): God doesn’t justify the godly. He justifies the ungodly, by infusing agape into them. The result of this infusion is justification as a state.

    OK, so you’re taking the action of infusing and the declaration of righteous as an atomistic event. And that makes sense.

    But having done so, you cannot then say that infusion is logically prior to justification. The two are one and the same.

    And that was my point: You can say that we are justified because we are first made righteous; but then you would also have to say that God justifies the godly.

    OR, you can say that ‘making righteous’ is synonym for ‘infusing agape.’

    In which case there is no order between them.

  214. TurretinFan said,

    August 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Bryan Cross wrote: “He justifies the ungodly, by infusing agape into them. The result of this infusion is justification as a state.”

    That’s roughly what Trent taught (On Justification, chapters 7-8).

    The question is, does Scripture teach this? And the answer is, “no.”

    “His faith is counted for righteousness” is what Romans 4:5 says, not “he receives love in his heart which actually makes him righteous.”

    You can follow the apostolic doctrines or you can follow the Tridentine heresy, but the two are not one.

    -TurretinFan

  215. August 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    “His faith is counted for righteousness” is what Romans 4:5 says….

    I thought it said that his faith was the instrument by which he received the alien righteousness of another?

    (Wink)

  216. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Jeff (re: #213)

    But having done so, you cannot then say that infusion is logically prior to justification. The two are one and the same.

    Again, you’re conflating the act and the state. The act of justification is the infusion of agape, but infusion is logically prior to the state of being justified.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  217. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    TF (re: #214)

    The question is, does Scripture teach this? And the answer is, “no.”

    “His faith is counted for righteousness” is what Romans 4:5 says, not “he receives love in his heart which actually makes him righteous.”

    You can follow the apostolic doctrines or you can follow the Tridentine heresy, but the two are not one.

    Unless the faith that God counts for righteousness is living faith, i.e. fides caritate formata (i.e. the supernatural virtue of faith informed by the supernatural virtue of agape).

    So the claim that this isn’t the apostolic doctrine presupposes that the faith referred to in Rom 4:5 is not fides caritate formata. But the truth of that presupposition has not been established. So it is question begging to presume that the Tridentine doctrine is heretical.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  218. TurretinFan said,

    August 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    JJS:

    The question of how faith is counted righteousness (which is exegeted from Scripture) is distinct from the simpler question of whether faith is counted righteousness, which is answered in the verse that declares that God justifies the impious.

    And a mocking wink may satisfy you in your responses to us Christians, but it will not serve you well on the day of judgment. Treat this serious topic seriously.

    -TurretinFan

  219. August 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    And a mocking wink may satisfy you in your responses to us Christians, but it will not serve you well on the day of judgment. Treat this serious topic seriously.

    I prefer “playful,” but whatever.

    And I notice that you don’t seem to mind when others display less than serious behavior here. But then, they’re Christians and I’m not, so I guess it’s OK, right?

    (Two thumbs up, plus a wink)

  220. August 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Listen to Turretin the Puritan.

    Yes, my golf references are forever enshrined. But my only point was to try to communicate how utterly appalled I am to see ministers of Christ doing what is being done, here, on the internet.

    Presbyteries need to be alerted.

    Consider me ignorant to all ya’lls motives, no winkie winkie,
    Andrew

  221. August 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    You’re not a Christian, Jason?

    Says who?

    Let’s talk offline, bro. You and I both are kind of the goofballs around here, perhaps. Peace.

  222. August 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Jason, I seriously don’t get your “wink.” And I have a high regard for you, as a seminary trained individual. So yes, your comments do carry some weight. So please be more careful. I’m actually really still very confused and wish I never stumbled upon the place called “Green Baggins.”

    Nothing but grief this place brings,
    Andrew

  223. August 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    *you, not me. I’m not seminary trained. I just pretend to golf.

  224. TurretinFan said,

    August 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    “Unless the faith that God counts for righteousness is living faith, i.e. fides caritate formata (i.e. the supernatural virtue of faith informed by the supernatural virtue of agape).”

    This is not a complete sentence. It seems to be an attempt to argue that if the faith that God counts for righteousness is accompanied by love, then the following is true: “He justifies the ungodly, by infusing agape into them. The result of this infusion is justification as a state.” But that is a non sequitur

    “So the claim that this isn’t the apostolic doctrine presupposes that the faith referred to in Rom 4:5 is not fides caritate formata.”

    a) No. You’ve misstated what the claim is. The claim is that your (and your church’s, where the two differ) doctrines are not what the apostles taught. Teaching 10 other things that the apostles taught does not make this teaching what the apostles taught.

    b) More especially, the question is not whether the faith is a faith formed by love (whether that is a Biblical category just invites a further tangent), but whether the apostolic doctrine is that God counts righteousness for faith or God infuses righteousness. The former is the apostolic doctrine, the latter is the error (in summary form) of Trent.

    “But the truth of that presupposition has not been established. So it is question begging to presume that the Tridentine doctrine is heretical.”

    You use the term “question begging” quite a lot. It’s almost as though you don’t know what it means (though surely you must).

    What makes it worse is that you don’t just allege that your opponents’ arguments have premises (which you label ‘presuppositions’) that are unaccepted by you (and then label that “question-begging”), but you attribute to them premises that you ought to know, full well, that they reject.

    Perhaps you should just deal with the argument you’re dealt, instead of attributing false premises, aka using the straw man tactics.

    -TurretinFan

  225. jsm52 said,

    August 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Romans 4:5 –

    Faith:
    counted for, reckoned as, imputed as righteousness…

    not faith makes righteous, nor faith infuses righteousness…

    But we know this already, don’t we? Move along, nothing to see here…

  226. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Jack (re: #225),

    But here is it God doing the reckoning. And He is Truth, and therefore only reckons things as they are; He never lies. God reckons those with fides caritate formata righteous, because by the possession of such faith (as a gift of God) they internally are righteous.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  227. TurretinFan said,

    August 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    JJS: If my standards of seriousness are double, it is because I am much more concerned for the salvation of your soul than for the salvation of theirs. – TurretinFan

  228. TurretinFan said,

    August 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    “But here is it God doing the reckoning. And He is Truth, and therefore only reckons things as they are; He never lies. God reckons those with fides caritate formata righteous, because by the possession of such faith (as a gift of God) they internally are righteous.”

    a) God reckoning things as they are not is not a “lie.” So, the argument does not stick.

    b) Indeed, Paul declares:
    Romans 4:17
    (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

    Was Abraham already a father? Yet he was reckoned so by God before it came to be. Will Bryan dare call that a lie?

    Wherefore, again, the argument is false.

    c) The idea that the people really are righteous (i.e. interpreting the second half of the verse that way) makes no contextual sense. Remember that the context is God justifying the ungodly, not God justifying the godly.

    d) More to the point, the text says that their faith is counted as righteousness. That does not fit with the proposal that “by the possession of such faith (as a gift of God) they internally are righteous,” either on its own two feet, or on the original proposal that justification is God infusing love.

  229. TurretinFan said,

    August 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    “You’re not a Christian, Jason? Says who?”

    The OPC and PCA standards forbid marriage between RCs and Christians on the ground of unequal yoking. See WCF 24:3 (“Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.”)

    They forbid the entering into of such marriages. They do not, of course, permit the dissolution of such marriages. After all, it may be that the believing wife will save her husband.

    -TurretinFan

  230. August 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Well, TF, I will wait for Jason to speak on his own behalf.

    Our standards may have something to say. But we should be gentle with Mr. Stellman. I’m very sorry to see him keep posting here. If there’s one thing him and I share, it’s that we’ve been scolded along the lines of:

    “no more posts on the internet.”

    or maybe that’s only me now. Maybe he’s got some mandate…

    fade to black,
    andrew

  231. jsm52 said,

    August 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Bryan – 226,

    Notwithstanding your assertions as to the necessity of infused righteousness as the ground of God’s declaration (nowhere asserted in Scripture):

    If “God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham”, then I think He is able to reckon righteousness to a wicked sinner through that sinner’s faith in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection.

    For Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him. – 2 Cor. 5:21

    Ah, the sweet exchange…

  232. August 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    the moment we start dictating who is and is not saved based on our standards, how are we not the church that once told it’s members it needed to buy an indulgence….i see your point. just, let’s move past mr. stellman. don’t make me quote machen “what is faith” on this matter, because i’ll pull it out. it’s between mr. stellman and God. as is true for us all. mr. stellman need answer to no man. i just advise him here to take a week off, if possible. i’ll be playing golf. but you didn’t need me to say any of this.

  233. jsm52 said,

    August 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Andrew – 232,

    TFan is well able to respond. Calling or not calling someone a Christian is not to make a determination on who is saved through God’s secret election. This only He knows. Rather it is to apply the name Christian to one who confesses the Christian faith as taught by the Church. That’s sort of the topic of discussion. I’m not making a judgment regarding anyone here, but we have Church confessions for a reason. Just clarifying.

  234. TurretinFan said,

    August 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    AB: You asked the question, “says who.” The answer is, “the churches who hold to the Westminster Standards.” I participate in these discussions because I agree, and because I care about the souls of those who are deceived by Rome and her grandiose claims.
    – TurretinFan

  235. August 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Then, TF, your reasons are good. In my humble opinion.

    Thanks be to God that it is He who does the work of saving souls. May we all be thankful to be a part of His work and plan. Thanks for the clarification, folks. Peace out.

  236. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Aside: JJS (#219): And I notice that you don’t seem to mind when others display less than serious behavior here.

    I hear you, but I don’t anyone should draw assumptions about what we each think about what the others say. It can be easy to assume that there are two “teams” and everyone is in agreement with everyone else on “the team.”

    But in fact, we are confronted with a deluge of comments, and there’s only so much one can do.

  237. isaiah. said,

    August 21, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Michael (212):

    Just how certain are you about the following statement?

    I will just say it boldly that the Lord will not stand by or strengthen someone who is supporting or participating in false religions of the world.

    And where is your proof? Have you talked to many Catholics about their perspective on the matter (i.e., whether they sense the Lord’s presence as they take up their cross daily, etc.)?

    From my observation of this heated (and not a little convoluted) discussion, I’d say that a Christian such as Bryan Cross (who happens to be Catholic) must have the Lord standing quite close to him, given that the lot of you are bent on attacking him in a most un-Christian fashion; and still he continues to persevere and fight the good faith in the face of it.

    Three cheers for Bryan!

    ih.

  238. isaiah. said,

    August 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    (My apologies: that should be “fight the good fight” … or perhaps, “fight on behalf of the good faith”: your choice.)

  239. Bryan Cross said,

    August 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    TF (re: #228)

    Romans 4:17
    (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
    Was Abraham already a father? Yet he was reckoned so by God before it came to be. Will Bryan dare call that a lie?

    Of course that’s not a lie. God said it, and God cannot lie (Heb 6:18; Titus 1:2). But it would have been a false statement if someone said to Abraham at that time, “You are the father of many presently existing nations.” In telling Abraham that he had been made the father of many nations, God was telling him (as the context in Gen 17 goes on to explain) that God had chosen him to be the father of many nations, and that this coming into existence and multiplication of his offspring into many nations would surely take place, according to the plan of God. He wasn’t telling him that He was the father of presently existing nations. So, what God said to Abraham was not contrary to reality, but corresponded to reality.

    In Rom 4 – 5, St. Paul is saying that when Abraham believed God, God reckoned this as righteousness at that very moment (e.g. Rom 4:3). And God does the same to all who believe (Rom 4:11). These persons presently receive “the free gift of righteousness.” (Rom 5:17) That would be a falsehood if these persons are not in fact presently righteous upon receiving this gift. Otherwise these passages in Romans would be referring only to future righteousness, requiring Rom 4:3 to be revised as “Abraham believed God and it was a sign that he would receive righteousness the moment after his death.” This would require revising Rom 5:17 into “much more will those who believe receive at their death the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness.” And so on. Since these passages are talking about God reckoning righteousness to persons presently, these persons must therefore be presently righteous, lest God be made a liar.

    It would be a mistake to construe Rom 4:17 in such a way that Heb 6:18 and Titus 1:2 become tautologies. In other words, construing Rom 4:17 as meaning that God could say any proposition at all, and this proposition would be true merely by the fact that God said it even if it does not correspond to reality, nullifies the truth-value of Heb 6:18 and Titus 1:2. In order for Heb 6:18 and Titus 1:2 to be not tautological, whatever God says must correspond to reality.

    The idea that the people really are righteous (i.e. interpreting the second half of the verse that way) makes no contextual sense. Remember that the context is God justifying the ungodly, not God justifying the godly.

    The doctrine that in justification persons are made righteous (or are already righteous and counted as such) makes perfect contextual sense. One of St. Paul’s main points in Rom 2 is that true righteousness is at the level of the heart, where there is friendship with God, whether or not the person is circumcised. Abraham exemplifies this in Romans 4.

    the text says that their faith is counted as righteousness. That does not fit with the proposal that “by the possession of such faith (as a gift of God) they internally are righteous,” either on its own two feet, or on the original proposal that justification is God infusing love.

    It fits perfectly. That faith is counted as righteousness because that faith (i.e. living faith) includes agape, which is righteousness.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  240. isaiah said,

    August 21, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Bryan:

    Excellent exposition. Keep it coming, my good man.

    TF (227):

    You say:

    JJS: If my standards of seriousness are double, it is because I am much more concerned for the salvation of your soul than for the salvation of theirs. – TurretinFan

    Concerned how and for what reason? Has Jason abandoned the faith? Is he planning on abandoning it? I only ask because I’m curious about the transition he is in. So, a few more questions:

    Did Jason believe before? If so, in what? What now has he ceased believing in? How does this affect the state of his salvation? Don’t you, after all, believe in “once saved, always saved”? Or, perhaps you would say (in your humble estimation) that if he is now turned apostate, that must suggest he was never “saved” to begin with.

    And yet, he once believed according to the Reformed/Presbyterian faith (I trust this can be undeniably said.) Was that not enough to “save” him? Or must one continue believing the correct way in order to keep one’s salvation? The faith that justifies is never alone, right? Was his faith “not alone” (accompanied by the proving, but not causative, good works) before, but has since become “alone” because his “faith” is now tainted by vile “Romanism”?

    On a much more simplistic level: What must one actually do to be saved?

    ih.

  241. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    As I said to Lane, I know what the Reformed position is. So when I adduce passages like the parable of the talents, the sheep and goats judgment, the reap/sow verse in Gal. 6, and all the others I have cited, is it your plan to just restate the Reformed position? Because that isn’t an argument.

    Jason,

    I’m not just restating the Reformed position, I’m showing how forcefully the texts you cite affirm the Reformed position. That’s why I raised the issue of the Puritans. They used verses like Gal. 6:8 (where we began our conversation) to prove something which is at the heart of Reformed/Puritan theology – only those who walk according to the Spirit will reap everlasting life. But the context of the verse has nothing to do with the mechanics of justification. Yes it is true that only those who follow the Spirit will reap everlasting life. But it’s a wholly unjustified conclusion that the good works that flow out of this following the Spirit are causative of our justification. So do you get it? I’m not just reiterating Reformed systematics, but showing how the text here does not in any way call into question Reformed systematics.

    I’m continuing to show that the verses you cite are not causative, but you continue to refer to them at me as if it is obvious there is a causative element here. Take you little set of arrow quotes in #17 as a summary of the Galatians texts. You feel that your final statement is a logical necessity based on the previous statements. But how you get the text to be inescapably causative here is entirely lost on all of us.

    Do you want to talk through the specifics of some of the other texts you cite?

  242. michael said,

    August 22, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Bryan at #239 it occurs to me to ask you what the Holy Spirit was revealing about some others who had been given the same Faith as Abraham?

    Might I suggest you read Hebrews 11 and the first seven verses.

  243. michael said,

    August 22, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Isaiah at #237, very certain. The proof you ask, well apparently my private interpretation of what Bryan comments in here is much different than yours.

    As for asking Catholics, well, half if not more of my own Tribe is deluded and deceived by the RCC. What is experienced on that reservation is disgusting to me having been there and attended Catholic Mass a few times.

    I can only witness and say when I was eight years old I came home after morning catechism at St. Joseph’s fully disgusted with what I was experiencing and asked my dad if it would be possible for me to stop attending. Unbeknowns to me my sister on that same Saturday asked the same thing. She’s a year older and attending a different class with a different teacher.

    Faced with an eight and nine year old on the same day asking for the same relief, I guess, was sufficient for my dad to agree with us.

    All I know is what I know by the Spirit of Grace and Truth. And I can tell you Bryan doesn’t have a grasp on the Spirit of Grace and Truth. He is full of head knowledge but the Spirit of God doesn’t speak through him like he wants everybody to believe.

    I suppose you are a dyed in the wool Roman Catholic, Isaiah?

  244. Bob S said,

    August 22, 2012 at 1:25 am

    Isaiah,
    Not only is it easily verifiable on the internet that Trent contradicts the Second Council of Orange and thereby falls into the category of semi pelagianism*, your question betrays your romanist presuppositions.

    You don’t have to do anything. You have to believe in Jesus. That he died on the cross for sinners and that then God the Father will forgive sinners who ask him to for Christ’s sake and for Christ’s work upon the cross.

    Romans 10:9,13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. . . .  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    Jason wants to return to the vomit the church was delivered from at the time of the Reformation: A salvation by works, whether the work of man’s free will in choosing Christ without, before or in cooperation with grace – though the will is equally dead in its sins and trespasses – or by agape influenced works of love.

    Much more would be the idea that the Book of James is as at loggerheads with Romans and Jame’s justification before man is the controlling paradigm instead of the Book of Roman’s emphasis on justification before God. IOW man, sinner that he is, wants to be in charge even when it comes to grace and somehow interject his own righteous works in some way some how in order to earn his salvation. And take glory away from the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

    Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

    *At least semi-pelagian in the sense that with infusion, the justification of sinners is dependent on their works, albeit agape love filled etc. instead of being justified by the righteousness of Christ and his work imputed to them.

  245. isaiah said,

    August 22, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Michael (243):

    I would describe myself as neither “dyed in the wool” nor “full of head knowledge”.

    If being full of head knowledge is somehow a negative to you, would you accept my testimony that I darkened the doors of the Catholic Church and now count myself among her faithful by God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not by filling my head with persuasive arguments for why the Catholic Church is True (or why Protestantism is not)?

    Your most recent accusations of Bryan Cross are very serious ones. You are judging his “grasp on the Spirit of Grace and Truth” by what you “know by the Spirit of Grace and Truth” (subjectively and personally, though experience does count for something). Also, I think it is uncharitable of you to say that Bryan “wants everybody to believe” that the Spirit of God “speaks through him”, as if he perfectly channels the voice of God, and the rest of do not, however slightly. To my mind, he is merely trying to explain his viewpoint and answer the many objections (and off-topic rants) that many in this blog post have leveled against him and against the Church he loves. Of course, I am overstepping my own guidelines by saying as much.

    As to your personal, apparently negative, experience of catechism as an eight year-old: I am sorry to hear about it. As a father, I can understand the struggles with spiritual discipline and weighty theological matters that I see children have, not to mention their general distaste for things related to adults and education. But I also see their hunger for something beyond themselves: a spirituality that reaches past the written word, and stretches further back in history than the last 10 or 20 years. Children, to put it bluntly, need guidance from those who know better than themselves.

    As it happens, I’ve seen remarkable spiritual growth in my 7 and 11 year-old since our turn to the Catholic Church (though I rather think it is intimately intertwined with an increase of devotion to Jesus experienced by myself and my wife).

    Let it be known that I have nothing but love and hope for my Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ (yes, I really consider them this way): how could I not? We both, in theory, want to love the Lord more: for neither of us love’s Him perfectly yet. So let us press on together.

    In Christ,

    ih.

  246. isaiah said,

    August 22, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Bob S:

    … your question betrays your romanist presuppositions.

    You don’t have to do anything. You have to believe in Jesus.

    … and your response betrays your Protestant presuppositions. Perhaps it puts too fine a point on it to ask: Is not believing in and of itself an action?

    As to wanting to take glory away from God by meriting my own salvation (or some such nonsense), I personally have no such delusions. In all that I have read of Christian belief (from a Catholic perspective) – from the New Testament to the Apostolic Fathers to the 2nd Council of Orange to Trent to the most recent edition of the official Catechism: God’s grace precedes our salvation, and goes after it (cf. St. Augustine, De natura et gratia, 31: “Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life …”). Thus, any co-operation we have with the Spirit of God (for it truly is a co-operation, just as the living God Himself co-operated with fallen humanity to provide for us, through the perfect sacrifice of Himself, salvation from our wickedness), is to God’s glory alone. When Christ crowns our merit, He is crowning his own gifts (again, the wisdom of Augustine: “You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts”; see CCC 2006).

    But you have not satisfactorily answered the question (not that it was directed at you, but still) about whether and how Jason has lost his salvation, if indeed you believe that. Would it be correct to say that a belief according to your interpretation of Catholic doctrine disallows somebody from being ultimately saved on the day of judgment?

    Whatever your answer may be, I would strongly disagree that a true understanding of the Catholic faith is a “salvation by works”. Instead, salvation is unequivocally by God’s grace, merited by Christ’s death on the cross, in which we take part daily. Perhaps you can affirm this statement, perhaps not. But as with any verse in the Holy Scriptures, I can certainly affirm the one you have given above: I can assure you that I have confessed Jesus Christ with my mouth (many times, in fact, though I wish I could be more bold about that action out in the world amongst non-believers), and I do believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, and call upon His name (at least a couple times a day, in fact, provided I’m not too distracted by the daily cares of the world).

    ih.

    P.S. I have not read the website you linked about the supposed contradiction between Orange II and Trent, but will try to give it a look-see.

  247. David Gadbois said,

    August 22, 2012 at 2:45 am

    I was on travel, so had to leave the conversation for the day. Picking up with Bryan’s response to me;

    The assumption that the meaning of a term is dictated by a lexicon, rather than by the Tradition, is part of the Protestant paradigm, as explained here. So here you are using a presupposition of the Protestant paradigm, to argue that the verses of Romans 4-5 do not fit into the Catholic paradigm. What I’m asking is for you to support, in a non-question-begging way, your claim (in #179) that the Catholic paradigm “is contradicted by St. Paul in this very text.”

    As usual you want to make everything about paradigms, presuppositions, and question-begging, but honest, contextual, grammatical-historical exegesis of a text is not unique to the Protestant position, indeed Romanists and those who don’t profess Christ engage in it. I take this response as tacit admission of defeat, that the Romanist interpretation of Paul cannot be defended without appeal to authority and projecting concepts foreign to Paul by people living centuries later back into his writings.

    I was awarded the Exegesis Prize by the faculty of Covenant Theological Seminary, as the top exegete of my graduating class. So, I know how to exegete. Your reasoning mistake here is assuming that when I do not exegete, that therefore I do not know how to exegete.

    Well, I’m glad you are not claiming that your response in #193 even remotely resembled exegesis, but then I wonder why you bothered to respond, given that the direct question given was for you to provide an exegetical answer. We didn’t just want to hear your theological musings and opinion on what Titus 2 means.

    In actuality, the meaning of a text is often not an exegetical question, because exegesis per se underdetermines the hermeneutical conclusion.

    That can sometimes be the case, depending on what the question is. But again, your are just stating a generality without actually bothering to show that this is the case in Romans 4 or Titus 2 concerning the matters at hand.

    If you think what I said about the meaning of the Titus passage is falsified by exegesis, feel free to show how.

    This is your lazy way of trying to avoid exegesis. The question was put to you to defend your assertions about what the text says, it is not up to us to “falsify” it. Especially when you stack the deck and call it question-begging when we do falsify it through grammatical-historical exegesis since we aren’t using “Tradition” to project concepts back into Paul.

    This is cult-like mentality. We can only understand Paul if we use the Tradition decoder ring. All well and good, I suppose, but you are leaving us without any reason to actually change our minds about Roman Catholicism. You undercut your ability to persuade by making understanding contingent on adopting an insider mentality.

  248. August 22, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Andrew,

    I’m not just restating the Reformed position, I’m showing how forcefully the texts you cite affirm the Reformed position. That’s why I raised the issue of the Puritans. They used verses like Gal. 6:8 (where we began our conversation) to prove something which is at the heart of Reformed/Puritan theology – only those who walk according to the Spirit will reap everlasting life.

    No, you’re just repeatedly restating your own position. Here’s what you said:

    “I’m sure you know that the Puritans pounded on these kinds of verses over and over again to impress on their listeners that we must suffer with Christ or we are not the children of God. But they were in no way bringing into question justification apart from works in the Reformed understanding of such things. And there is no reason why we need to posit any kind of contradiction.”

    You claim to be “forcefully showing how the texts I cite affirm the Reformed position.” Well, you are certainly claiming as much, but you’re certainly not “showing” me anything, forcefully or even mildly. I mean, if there’s a forceful demonstration of anything in that quote, I sure can’t find it.

    But the context of the verse has nothing to do with the mechanics of justification. Yes it is true that only those who follow the Spirit will reap everlasting life. But it’s a wholly unjustified conclusion that the good works that flow out of this following the Spirit are causative of our justification. So do you get it? I’m not just reiterating Reformed systematics, but showing how the text here does not in any way call into question Reformed systematics.

    No, I don’t “get it” at all. I have tried multiple times to connect the dots between our justification by faith working through love, our Spirit-wrought works of love, and our final salvation, and you answer that you don’t see the connection. That’s fine, I can try harder (which I am happy to do). But please don’t tell yourself that you have offered anything resembling a refutation of my argument. You just keep denying it, but that’s not the same as demonstrating its falsity.

    I’m continuing to show that the verses you cite are not causative, but you continue to refer to them at me as if it is obvious there is a causative element here.

    Wrong on both counts. You continue to claim that the causal element is missing (which is not the same as “showing me” it’s missing), and I continue to argue from the texts that it’s there (which is not the same as acting as if it’s obvious).

    Take you little set of arrow quotes in #17 as a summary of the Galatians texts. You feel that your final statement is a logical necessity based on the previous statements. But how you get the text to be inescapably causative here is entirely lost on all of us.

    OK, let me try again (but in your next comment you need to actually interact with what I say rather than continue to disagree for no stated reason):

    Paul, in Gal. 5, is explicitly talking about justification, since he asks, “Tell me, you who want to be justified by the law, do you not hear the law?” He then says, “Circumcision avails nothing.” For what? For justification, obviously. But what does avail for justification? “Circumcision avails nothing, but faith working through love.” OK, so FWTL avails for justification.

    Why does FWTL avail for justification while the law of Moses, as expressed in circumcision, does not? Because, as Paul goes on to say, it is love that fulfills the law.

    OK, but how does that come about? Paul answers by saying that “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” He calls this type of living “walking in the Spirit” and “sowing to the Spirit.”

    Finally, he says, if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life (hence the causality: people who reap are not just people who happen to have unrelatedly sown. People who reap are people who reap because they have sown. Only the most crass Edwardsian would deny the causality here). And as I argued earlier, this is the exact same progression that we find in all the principal NT writers.

    Do you want to talk through the specifics of some of the other texts you cite?

    Yes, please. But by “talking through the specifics” I mean I want you to show me that the texts I adduced do not connect our Spirit-wrought works with our gaining our eternal inheritance. What I don’t really feel like doing is having you simply insist that the connection is not there while giving me no arguments why.

  249. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 22, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Jason (#248): …show me that the texts I adduced do not connect our Spirit-wrought works with our gaining our eternal inheritance.

    Of course, they do connect. If ‘connection’ were all that were needed, this would have been over long ago.

    The question is, What kind of connection?

    * Is it causal in the sense that our love-wrought works merit our eternal life?

    * Or, is it causal in the sense that love-wrought works are rewarded on top of the eternal life that is had through faith?

    Teasing those two apart requires something much more precise than ‘connection.’

  250. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 22, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Bryan (#216):

    JRC: But having done so, you cannot then say that infusion is logically prior to justification. The two are one and the same.

    BC: Again, you’re conflating the act and the state. The act of justification is the infusion of agape, but infusion is logically prior to the state of being justified.

    Yes, and the act of adoption is logically prior to the state of being adopted, and the act of glorifying is logically prior to the state of being glorified.

    But states of being don’t show up in ordo salutis‘s. Only actions do.

    And since you are using the ‘logically prior’ language of the ordo salutis, it seems best to read (and write) in that framework.

    Now here’s the point: justification includes above all the forgiveness of sins. This is the burden of Romans 4 – 5.

    The question that every Catholic has to consider is, Is my forgiveness of sins logically prior to or logically subsequent to the infusion of grace?

    You make justification (the act) a synonym for infusion. But clearly, forgiveness is not a synonym for infusion.

    So are we forgiven of our sins because grace has been infused, making us righteous? That would be odd, forgiving a righteous man.

    Or are we infused with grace because our sins are forgiven by the merits of Christ?

    And if so, then haven’t we arrived at the Protestant ordo salutis?

  251. johnbugay said,

    August 22, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Jeff Cagle, not sure if you will have seen A.A. Hodge’s look at the very thing you are looking at:

    The work of Christ is the necessary presupposition of justification in the Mediæval and Catholic view of it, as well as in that of Protestant. In consequence of Adam’s sin, the whole human race is held under a sentence of forfeiture and of condemnation before God. Thomas Aquinas (“Summa Theologia,” Pars III., Qu. 48, Arts. i.-iv.; and Qu. 47, Art. 23) distinguished, in the bearing of Christ’s work upon the just and holy God, between its value as satisfaction and its value as merit: (1) As satisfaction, it expiates the guilt of sin and atones for sin as a wrong done the infinite God; (2) As merit, it deserves the favor and gracious help of God in behalf of those for whom it was wrought out. In both elements it is necessarily presupposed by God as the judicial ground of all his gracious dealings with the human race, and with each individual thereof. As satisfaction it removes the sentence pronounced against the sinner which would otherwise necessitate the expression of wrath, and prevent the exercise of grace. As merit it deserves the communication of initial grace to each designated beneficiary, which is effected in baptism, whereby the soul is cleansed from sin and habits of grace are infused; and, further, it deserves the co-operation of additional grace with the obedient will rightly using prevenient grace; and it is the ultimate and absolute meritorious basis upon which the good works of believers secondarily merit increase of grace ultimately eternal life. Aquinas himself affirms that the satisfaction and merit of Christ necessarily antecede and constitute the foundation of any merit subsequently acquired by the believer. Hence that which is ultimately founded upon grace is all of grace, and si gratia consideratur secundum rationem gratuiti doni, omne meritum repugnat gratia (Qu. 113, Art.5); and hence absolutely forgiveness of sins precedes and conditions infusion of grace. And yet, with palpable inconsistency, Thomas, and after him the who Romish Church, actually reverse this fundamental order when they proceed to elucidate the actual realization of redemption by the individual believer (Qu. 113, Arts. 2-8): “Therefore the remission of sins cannot be rationally believed unless there be present (first) infusion of grace.” “In justification (in the Romish sense) therefore four points are involved: (a) The infusion of grace; (b) The movement of the free will toward God through the awakening of faith; (c) The movement of the free will against sin; (d) The remission of guilt as the completion of justification.

  252. August 22, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Wow, 251.

    These forums DO work.

    Consider me silent and repentant, GBers,
    AB

  253. Bryan Cross said,

    August 22, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Jeff (re: #250)

    But states of being don’t show up in ordo salutis‘s. Only actions do.

    Here you’re attempting to restrict logical order to that which “shows up” in Protestant versions of an ordo salutis. But logical order is not limited to any such restriction.

    So are we forgiven of our sins because grace has been infused, making us righteous?

    Infusion of agape is necessary for forgiveness, because a man cannot be cleared of all debt while still adding to that debt.

    That would be odd, forgiving a righteous man.

    Whether “odd” or not, there is nothing incoherent about it. There is nothing contradictory or incoherent about being presently righteous (i.e. presently having agape) and still owing a debt due to past offenses.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  254. Bryan Cross said,

    August 22, 2012 at 10:55 am

    John B. (re: #251)

    Quoting Hodge, you wrote:

    Aquinas himself affirms that the satisfaction and merit of Christ necessarily antecede and constitute the foundation of any merit subsequently acquired by the believer. Hence that which is ultimately founded upon grace is all of grace, and si gratia consideratur secundum rationem gratuiti doni, omne meritum repugnat gratia (Qu. 113, Art.5); and hence absolutely forgiveness of sins precedes and conditions infusion of grace.

    Consider the argument:

    Premise 1: Aquinas himself affirms that the satisfaction and merit of Christ necessarily antecede and constitute the foundation of any merit subsequently acquired by the believer.

    Premise 2: Hence that which is ultimately founded upon grace is all of grace, and si gratia consideratur secundum rationem gratuiti doni, omne meritum repugnat gratia (Qu. 113, Art.5)

    Conclusion: hence absolutely forgiveness of sins precedes and conditions infusion of grace.

    Hodge’s premises are true, but his conclusion doesn’t follow from his premises. So his conclusion is a non sequitur. He conflates what belongs to the application of redemption with what belongs to the accomplishment of redemption. And that’s why he thinks (incorrectly) that there is some inconsistency in the Catholic doctrine in which the infusion of grace logically (but not temporally) precedes the remission of sins.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  255. jsm52 said,

    August 22, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Bryan,

    Infusion of agape is necessary for forgiveness, because a man cannot be cleared of all debt while still adding to that debt…
    There is nothing contradictory or incoherent about being presently righteous (i.e. presently having agape) and still owing a debt due to past offenses.

    Rom. 4:
    5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.
    6 Even as David also pronounceth blessing upon the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works,
    7 saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, And whose sins are covered.
    8 Blessed is the man to whom, the Lord will not reckon sin.

    My thoughts:

    The blessing of justification is upon the man to whom God has reckoned righteousness for Christ’s sake. That blessing comes upon the one whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered, and to whom the Lord does not impute or reckon sin.

    Paul is saying that the blessing of justification is in the forgiveness of sins, and that is, in a word: the reckoning of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner and the “not-reckoning” of sinner’s sin to the sinner. In other words, Paul equates forgiveness of sins with justification.

    “He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed Someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song, amazing grace. Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.”

    That is justification in a nutshell. It is that Justification that causes our eyes to look, not within for agape or grace or the Spirit, but to look to Jesus and His sacrificial death on the cross for forgiveness of sins and his resurrection that triumphantly established justification for all that believe in Him. I am cleansed and reckoned righteous for His sake. And it is to this good news that the Holy Spirit within bears witness. Faith looks to Christ crucified, not to agape or grace or the Spirit.

  256. August 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Jeff,

    The question is, What kind of connection?

    * Is it causal in the sense that our love-wrought works merit our eternal life?

    * Or, is it causal in the sense that love-wrought works are rewarded on top of the eternal life that is had through faith?

    Teasing those two apart requires something much more precise than ‘connection.’

    We’ve gone over this before multiple times, haven’t we? But I don’t think you ever addressed my remarks about the servant in the parable of the talents.

    That servant was not simply given rewards for his faithfulness over and above the eternal life he was given irrespective of his faithfulness (and if you think he was, you need to show it, which I don’t think you’ve attempted to do yet).

    The master in the parable says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things, now enter into the joy of your lord.” And as I have pointed out a few times now, the servant who buried his master’s talent was cast into hell, which indicates that the issue here is not varying rewards for the already-saved, but final salvation itself.

    Much of the same could be said of the sheep and goats judgment, where Jesus says, “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom… FOR I was hungry and you fed me,” etc. If Jesus didn’t intent anyone to read a causal connection into his words, he sure chose them poorly (especially if affirming that causal connection overturns the very gospel Jesus was trying to preach).

    If you go back to that initial sketch I provided, I believe that the same is the case with all the passages listed: there is a causal connection between Spirit-wrought works and the gaining of eternal life. Of course, this does not mean I would agree with your Option #1 above in an unqualified way, for reasons I am sure you can guess.

  257. michael said,

    August 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Isaiah:

    “…We both, in theory, want to love the Lord more: for neither of us love’s Him perfectly yet.”

    Well Isaiah, that is where we separate.

    You see, I am saved by Christ and His equitable deed, His perfect work, not mine. I hold to this promise. It is what steadies my steps.

    My steps don’t count for anything even the blameless perfect ones. It is Christ and Him crucified. He alone saves His people from their sins.

    When you speak about “love” you are speaking as though you are doing it or even more foolishly, you can do it (being enabled to love as Christ loves us)!

    No, no you can’t do it and you are deceiving yourself and others by believing you can love as God so loved the world.

    That is the separation between us.

    Here is what I hold too waking up daily struggling with thoughts back and forth between my flesh and His Spirit within me. By His Grace and Mercy He is bringing every thought of mine captive for me and loving others including me through me:

    Joh 17:25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.
    Joh 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

    1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
    1Jn 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
    1Jn 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
    1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

    The questions you need to answer, Isaiah, is “who” is doing “it”; Who is the one that is Love “loving” through and why? You are not “Love”. God is.

    You and the RCC have turned it around to make it a work you do loving another and I stand with the Truth of the Scriptures against that self righteousness because I can do nothing of my own worthy of God’s acceptance or man’s.

    It is as John revealed in both places cited above and I emphasize:

    “…that the love with which you have loved me may be in them and I in them.”

    “…In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son…”

    You in practice make void the Love of God and that is what God wants you to avoid. It is not until you understand your total depravity and attain the repentance that follows will you ever let Christ love you and love through you. Here’s how the Apostle Peter put it:

    2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

    Isaiah, not until you come to this “truth”, this “true” confession followed by true repentance it will be impossible for you to “so love the world God’s way” because until then it is just you in your fallen nature and character loving as God loves. That’s a work. That’s not something that God accepts from anyone.

    God is not interested in infusing His “love” in you making you perfect and clean and holy and loving. No, He has already stated your condition before Him and men. You are dead, dead, dead in trespasses and sins. He wants you buried with Christ so you can be raised to newness of Life, to the Life of Christ so that it is Christ in you doing it in that “love” God loved Him with!

    Tell me, you believe all on your own you went about sinning. Why would God want to then rehabilitate you and infuse in you His gift of Righteousness so you can of your own accord, again, come back to life to do what you could not do in the first place?

    God wants you dead and buried so that Christ can come alive in you. It is by Grace we are saved through Faith and that not of ourselves it is the gift of God lest any of us should boast. God doesn’t want us to do kind of like that little boasting rub Bryan did to rub in the face of someone above by pointing out his award as the best exegete of his class in theology school to justify himself before men. That’s what the RCC reduces you to, to the addah boy awards and exclamations as you did to Bryan above:

    “Bryan:

    Excellent exposition. Keep it coming, my good man.”

    So what if he was awarded that trophy.

    Just a personal digression as I conclude these comments. I was awarded the prize and a small plastic trophy during one catechism class because I could cite orally the Lord’s Prayer three times faster than anyone else in class during the Lord’s Prayer competition! Wow! I won!

    Did the teacher or anyone of my classmates have a clue the depth and meaning of the Lord’s Prayer? Not a chance!! The depth is yet to be plumbed. The Holy Spirit continues to give me insights into it as I prayer the Lord’s Prayer!

    I am, as I suppose a lot of others in here are too, still waiting for Bryan to actually exegete some Scriptures and thus prove that it is a work of the Spirit at work in him and not some one or something else.

  258. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    JJS: We’ve gone over this before multiple times, haven’t we? But I don’t think you ever addressed my remarks about the servant in the parable of the talents.

    I did (or tried to) in one of the comments above, or on another thread. I was wondering why I didn’t get a reply. :)

    I wonder whether I should throw up an open thread on my website re: the parable of the talents?

  259. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Bryan (#253):

    Infusion of agape is necessary for forgiveness, because a man cannot be cleared of all debt while still adding to that debt.

    That would be odd, forgiving a righteous man.

    Whether “odd” or not, there is nothing incoherent about it. There is nothing contradictory or incoherent about being presently righteous (i.e. presently having agape) and still owing a debt due to past offenses.

    Then there’s more ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy. For you argued previously that in the agape paradigm, one is either all-or-nothing righteous.

    If one still has guilt from past offenses, one is not righteous; Contrapositively, if one is righteous, there’s nothing to forgive.

    Further, there’s no question of ‘adding to debt.’ Either one has agape and is righteous, or else some mortal sin has been committed and the righteousness is all gone. We can’t consider whether or not the individual in question has kept some list of rules…

    That’s the agape paradigm as you explained it, and does not appear to be compatible with the order of infusion and forgiveness as you explained it.

  260. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    JJS (#256): That servant was not simply given rewards for his faithfulness over and above the eternal life he was given irrespective of his faithfulness (and if you think he was, you need to show it…

    So what I said way back somewhere is this (with a bit added):

    Textually, the two servants who are rewarded receive rewards that are proportional to their actions (Luke 19.17, 19; Matt 24.21, 24.23).

    Meanwhile the servant cast into hell is cast into hell because he did not trust the master (Matt 24.25, compare to Jhn 3.18).

    Further, there is no indication in the text that the third servant ever had any kind of initial grace. He’s given a talent. What does that talent represent? I would suggest in the larger context of Matt 22 – 25 that the talents refer to Jesus’ words. Those who have and do not believe are judged; those who receive and produce fruit are rewarded according to their fruit. This would accord with the parable of the soils, and Jesus’ teachings in John 5 – 6.

    So the text itself gives reason to think that there are two things going on. One is salvation itself; the other is rewards on top of that salvation. Jesus’ focus is not on carefully distinguishing between the two, but on emphasizing that both come together.

    Confirming evidence that salvation and works can be distinguished comes in 1 Cor 3, in which we discover that some will indeed be saved with all their works burned up.

  261. August 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Jeff,

    Textually, the two servants who are rewarded receive rewards that are proportional to their actions (Luke 19.17, 19; Matt 24.21, 24.23). Meanwhile the servant cast into hell is cast into hell because he did not trust the master (Matt 24.25, compare to Jhn 3.18).

    Yes, and I do not deny that this points to a truth we will experience as well, namely, that some will receive a greater inheritance than others will.

    Concerning the servant who hid his master’s talent, we read of him that he was “wicked,” “slothful,” “and worthless.” Jesus then says that “to him who has more will be given, but to him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

    The fact that this parable occurs in the context of the final judgment of the sheep and goats (whose admission into the kingdom is tied directly to their works of mercy) leads me to think that this parable is about entering, or failing to enter, the eternal kingdom. And the fact that in Matthew’s version the servant who invested most wisely was rewarded most abundantly doesn’t take away from anything I have said.

    Further, there is no indication in the text that the third servant ever had any kind of initial grace. He’s given a talent. What does that talent represent?

    Without trying to over-interpret the parable, would you not agree that the basics of Catholic soteriology fit quite nicely with the basics of what is taught in it? The slothful servant is given something he did not deserve, but his failure to be faithful with what was given resulted in his losing something he previously had, then being cast into outer darkness. Further, the eternal inheritance that his two fellow-servants received was tied directly to the faithfulness exhibited in their lives with what they had graciously received.

    So the text itself gives reason to think that there are two things going on. One is salvation itself; the other is rewards on top of that salvation. Jesus’ focus is not on carefully distinguishing between the two, but on emphasizing that both come together.
    Confirming evidence that salvation and works can be distinguished comes in 1 Cor 3, in which we discover that some will indeed be saved with all their works burned up.

    Again, nothing I am saying necessitates separating the degrees of enjoyment of our eternal inheritance from that inheritance itself. But the text gives no indication that anything played a role in the two servants’ salvation besides their own faithfulness. Now, we would both want to insist that there’s more to the story than that (it is a parable, after all), but my point is simply that the basics of the parable fit perfectly with the basics of the Catholic gospel, particularly the part about our Spirit-wrought works playing a role not just in the icing-on-the-cake rewards we may get, but in whether we are finally saved or not.

    I’m happy to move on from this if you like. There’s plenty of other biblical data we could discuss.

  262. David Gadbois said,

    August 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Jeff, I would say that the “talent” might very well represent not only Jesus’ words, but Word and Sacrament more generally. So it would then have reference to a covenant member who receives some measure of non-salvific grace through the church.

    I think time would be better spent on some of the other passages Jason brought up (especially those in Galatians). For those parables that Jesus nor the narrator provide explicit interpretation, one can only find a shaky foundation for dogma. We need to take seriously Jesus’ own claim that He spoke in parables to frustrate the non-elect in His audience, and we need to take seriously the principle of the priority of interpreting clearer passages over unclear passages.

  263. isaiah. said,

    August 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Michael (257):

    Wow, lots to take in here. Let’s start at the beginning.

    “…We both, in theory, want to love the Lord more: for neither of us loves Him perfectly yet.”

    Well Isaiah, that is where we separate.

    Where exactly do we separate here? Surely you do not mean that you have no desire to love Jesus more. I will also eliminate the suggestion that you or I already love Jesus perfectly (at least, I know I do not). So, perhaps you mean that, while I imply that it is possible to love the Lord perfectly, you would deny that as a possibility? If this is “where we separate”, my question to you is, Will we not be loving God perfectly in heaven? For surely to be glorified and sanctified in heaven, where we will be partakers of the divine nature and co-heirs with Christ, is to be unhindered to truly love God as we ought.

    Do I say that the source and power of that love is completely my own? I do not. But, in reference to the verses you quoted, God clearly wants us to love. And not just our neighbors, but the Lord Himself, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is the Lord’s very (and first) commandment to us. But while it starts (and ends) with God’s love, how can our relationship be said to be a true one, if we are not loving God in return and by our own free choice (however imperfectly that may be)?

    So, I must now ask: While there may be agreement between us on the nature of where this love comes from (i.e. from God, who is Love), would you disagree that we are actually able to love him in some way, on this earth, and that this love matters in some sense (even if not in a purely salvific manner)?

    For, how can we be said to have true faith in Christ’s perfect sacrifice and the salvation of the human race merited thereof, if we do not also love Him daily? Does not even St. Paul say that the greatest of these is love without which we are nothing? Do not even the verses you quoted for me above speak to the utmost importance of love, which God has poured out into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), and which Christ Himself prayed would be in us?

    I realize there is so much more to address, and I will, Lord willing, respond to the rest eventually.

    Blessings,

    ih.

  264. August 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    isaiah, if i may…

    first, i have been told i am (or maybe i am just practicing) “vacuous sophistry” on another string here on GB. no matter, but you can stop reading this comment now, if you want to. i just want you to be aware.

    here’s where i see the problem. and know that i am ignorant of RC theology. Here’s a hypotheical dialogue to illustrate:

    Calvinist = C; Non-Calvinist=NC

    NC: You need to Love God. Jesus says so

    C: Ok, how do I do that?

    NC: Well, obey the law

    C: Ok, how do I do that?

    NC: Simple. Read your Bible, do all that it says. Follow it to a tee.

    C: Ok, got it got it. This is exciting

    (several hours later)

    NC: Hi Calvinist. So, how’s it going?

    C: Not good. I did a sin. I don’t love God.

    NC: Well, try harder next time. Do what you should have done. read more Bible, etc etc etc… See you next time.

    C: ok, bye.

    (repeat cycle until physical death of either C or NC).

    What I am illustrating is what I personally experienced as “peace” when I found calvinism. Jesus lived the perfect life. Satisfied the law. I have justification by grace alone, through faith alone, because of the finished work of Christ alone.

    Now I am sure this conversation will continue much as it has for the last 500 (2000?) years. But after being raised in a pelagian church, Calvinism was a drink of cold water after a long walk through a desert. We’re pretty happy with what we’ve got.

    I’ve got more to learn,
    Andrew

  265. Brad B said,

    August 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    “The fact that this parable occurs in the context of the final judgment of the sheep and goats (whose admission into the kingdom is tied directly to their works of mercy) leads me to think that this parable is about entering, or failing to enter, the eternal kingdom. And the fact that in Matthew’s version the servant who invested most wisely was rewarded most abundantly doesn’t take away from anything I have said.”

    But this is founded on a refuted premise, namely that works of mercy prove a state of grace/justification. Consider

    “Mat 7:22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Mat 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ “

  266. August 22, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Jason:

    “our Spirit-wrought works playing a role not just in the icing-on-the-cake rewards we may get, but in whether we are finally saved or not.”

    So, I’m told you used to be a minister. You say I’ve got some works to do in order to enter into the presence of my Lord, after I die.

    Tell me, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

    You want to start looking at Biblical data. My suggestion – let’s look at Luke 18 together, brother.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  267. Bryan Cross said,

    August 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Jeff, (re: #259)

    If one still has guilt from past offenses, one is not righteous; Contrapositively, if one is righteous, there’s nothing to forgive.

    The concepts and strictures in your own paradigm are not necessarily those of another paradigm. The Catholic paradigm distinguishes between guilt (culpa) and punishment (poena). (St. Augustine makes this distinction in De Libero Arbitrio.) The removal of culpa is not the same thing as the removal of poena, even though they take place at the very same instant. Justification is not temporally successive; it is an instantaneous event involving one divine act in the soul. Nevertheless, there is a natural order to this act, when considered in relation to that upon which God acts. God has to act first, and so the infusion of grace is first, turning the will (at the level of disposition) freely to God and away from sin, the result of which is the remission of guilt, and the canceling of the debt of punishment. So, both of your statements are true, but that does not mean there is no order in the divine act by which at one and the same moment, the infusion of light expels the darkness (hence we do not say the fleeing darkness impels the infusion of light).

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  268. August 22, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Andrew,

    Tell me, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

    As you know, there’re lots of ways to answer this question, biblically (the exact question is asked a handful of times in the NT).

    “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    “Repent and be baptized.”

    And if you are already a believer, “Love God and neighbor.”

    Gotta go, sorry so short.

  269. jsm52 said,

    August 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    And to add to Andrew’s comments regarding our works:

    From John 6:

    26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
    27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”
    28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”
    29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

    Me: The meritorious efficaciousness of our works begin and end with our finding refuge in the reconcilliation of sinners in Christ Jesus.

    As per Calvin:

     In this way we can admit not only that there is a partial righteousness in works, (as our adversaries maintain,) but that they are approved by God as if they were absolutely perfect. If we remember on what foundation this is rested, every difficulty will be solved. The first time when a work begins to be acceptable is when it is received with pardon. And whence pardon, but just because God looks upon us and all that belongs to us as in Christ? Therefore, as we ourselves when engrafted into Christ appear righteous before God, because our iniquities are covered with his innocence; so our works are, and are deemed righteous, because every thing otherwise defective in them being buried by the purity of Christ is not imputed…

    Thus we may justly say, that not only ourselves, but our works also, are justified by faith alone… 

    Me: the wonder working power of the blood of Christ our Savior!

  270. jsm52 said,

    August 22, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    And a little more Calvin:

    In short, I affirm, that not by our own merit but by faith alone, are both our persons and works justified; and that the justification of works depends on the justification of the person, as the effect on the cause. (John Calvin, Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote)

  271. August 22, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Jack,

    Amen to it being solely due to the merit of Jesus’ death and resurrection that we can be saved. But as you know, there’s a lot more the NT has to say about our works and their contribution to our final salvation.

    “They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.”

    “Their white robes are the righteous acts of the saints.”

    Part of what makes the gospel so glorious and God-glorifying is the fact that, by grace, God allows us to participate in Jesus’ work of cross-bearing.

  272. August 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Jason at 268,

    I disagree with your last one. Not that I shouldn’t love. It is just, we are at odds.

    I would like to golf with you, if you are ever back in Cali. Yes, I know you sprang from So. Cal. I went tom school in Santa Barbara, so you and I are cool, on that front.

    More later,
    Andrew

  273. jsm52 said,

    August 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Jason,

    And what is it that makes those works righteous and acceptable?

    Rev. 12:

    11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

    Without a doubt there must be works. But they are acceptable works, not because of their inherent merit, but only because they are washed white as snow in the red blood of Christ.

  274. August 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Andrew,

    I’ve argued here somewhere that Jesus’ answer to the scribe about inheriting eternal life (love God and neighbor) is not intended to be taken as a first-use, drive-‘em-to-the-cross sense, but as normative, and as the way of life that the Spirit would eventually empower us for.

    I would argue something similar about Rom. 2. “According to Paul’s gospel,” God will “grant eternal life” to those who “continue in doing good by seeking glory, honor, and immortality.”

    I realize all of that has to be demonstrated and I’m just stating it, but I’ve got 3 little ones I’m trying to police. I mean parent.

  275. August 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    PS – Golf’s for people who don’t surf….

  276. August 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Jack, I don’t disagree at all!

  277. August 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Three little ones. Another commonality! Let’s keep talking.

    More later.

    PS I will take up surfing again, after I become a marathon runner. Peace

  278. jsm52 said,

    August 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Jason,

    Works are evidence of a true and lively faith in the blood of Christ, not as contributing to the salvation wrought by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The believer’s all is a testimony to the reconciliation of God in Christ crucified; not an addendum to help secure his place in heaven.

  279. August 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    We love our children, even if they don’t love us…

  280. August 22, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Jack,

    Works are evidence of a true and lively faith in the blood of Christ, not as contributing to the salvation wrought by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection….

    Yes, I know that is what you think. But no matter how often you repeat it (and even if you use all caps), it still fails to refute the exegetical arguments I have been making here.

    So, would you kindly (1) prove from Scripture your assertion above, and (2) refute my interpretation of the passages I have adduced, using the passages themselves, and others if need be?

    This will continue to be my constant refrain, because with the exception of Jeff, all I’m really getting is the Reformed position repeated with no actual demonstration of its truth.

    Thanks.

  281. jsm52 said,

    August 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Jason,

    wrote: Part of what makes the gospel so glorious and God-glorifying is the fact that, by grace, God allows us to participate in Jesus’ work of cross-bearing.

    We participate in the work of Jesus’ cross-bearing?!

    Pa-leease… No one participates in Christ’s cross-bearing. Everyone deserted Him. And if you give it some serious thought, so have (and do) you. I know I do so daily. The grace of God regarding the imperfect works of bearing our own cross as His servants is that they are covered by Christ’s ever-efficacious blood, a grace wrought by Him alone on His bloody cross to which alone faith looks.

  282. August 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Jason at 268,

    You missed the point. Please re-read Luke 18. There are not many ways to answer the rich young ruler’s question. Jesus answered with a riddle about a camel. The answer is that only with God is it possible.

  283. jsm52 said,

    August 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Jason,

    You quoting me:
    Works are evidence of a true and lively faith in the blood of Christ, not as contributing to the salvation wrought by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection….

    and you:

    Yes, I know that is what you think.

    you wrote previously:
    Amen to it being solely due to the merit of Jesus’ death and resurrection that we can be saved.

    What am I missing?

  284. jsm52 said,

    August 22, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Jason,

    wrote: Yes, I know that is what you think. But no matter how often you repeat it (and even if you use all caps), it still fails to refute the exegetical arguments I have been making here.

    So, would you kindly (1) prove from Scripture your assertion above, and (2) refute my interpretation of the passages I have adduced, using the passages themselves, and others if need be?

    This will continue to be my constant refrain, because with the exception of Jeff, all I’m really getting is the Reformed position repeated with no actual demonstration of its truth.

    Jason, I am just responding to your comments to me responding to comments by Andrew. Isn’t that acceptable? It’s a blog… kinda like a bunch of us sitting around a table at a pub.

  285. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Jason (re: 248)

    OK, let me try again (but in your next comment you need to actually interact with what I say rather than continue to disagree for no stated reason):

    So you are trying to make a connection now to Gal 5 and 6. I’m sorry, did I miss this before? Where did you previously make this connection to me? Was it in #210? Was it in #133? Was it in previous posts to someone else that I missed? I’m reading back through previous posts to me and I have not found it. I really would like you to tell me where you previously made this case to me. I don’t want you to have to make your case “again” so if I’m missing something please let me know via reference to your previous posts, OK?

    Finally, he says, if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life (hence the causality: people who reap are not just people who happen to have unrelatedly sown. People who reap are people who reap because they have sown.

    So Gal. 6:8 must be put into the context of the previous chapter of Galatians rather than the verses the immediately surround Gal. 6:8? Could I suggest that the context of Gal. 6:8 is most immediately Gal 6:1-7? So what does Gal. 6:1-7 have to do with the means of justification? Or for that matter what does Gal. 5: 16-26 have to do with the means of justification?

    And what does “FWTL” stand for?

    People who reap are people who reap because they have sown. Only the most crass Edwardsian would deny the causality here). And as I argued earlier, this is the exact same progression that we find in all the principal NT writers.

    Duh yea, nobody is denying causality here. But as folks have pointed out numerous times here, it is the nature of the causality that is at question here. The question is what exactly the cause and the results are. There is a general relationship here – If WE reap something it is because something that WE have sown – that’s clear. But what does this have to do with what GOD does with what WE sow? Your statements connecting what we reap and what we sow just underlines something basic to Reformed theology. And isn’t that exactly what Gal. 6:8 and it’s immediate text getting at? Or does Gal. 6:8 refer to something that GOD does with what WE sow?

  286. August 22, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Jack,

    We participate in the work of Jesus’ cross-bearing?! Pa-leease ….

    “Unless you bear your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”

    “I have been crucified with Christ….”

    “As many of you as were baptized, were baptized into Christ’s death.”

    “Joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him.”

    My guess is that you actually agree with me, but since you don’t understand what I am saying you choose to take a dismissive tone rather than just ask what I mean. But if you had asked, I would have answered that the NT everywhere speaks of us as co-sufferers with Christ because we are united with him. The Christian life is all about going to him outside the gate and bearing the reproach he endured.

    My point is, just ask what I mean if I say something that sounds silly to you (especially when I am also apologizing for being so brief because I’m trying to take care of my kids). You may actually discover that I’m not a complete moron.

    No one participates in Christ’s cross-bearing. Everyone deserted Him.

    Except for the guy who actually and literally bore his cross.

    And if you give it some serious thought, so have (and do) you. I know I do so daily.

    No argument here.

    The grace of God regarding the imperfect works of bearing our own cross as His servants is that they are covered by Christ’s ever-efficacious blood, a grace wrought by Him alone on His bloody cross to which alone faith looks.

    You seem to think that I am saying that my works are perfect and therefore have no need of Jesus’ blood or cross, in which case you’re not paying attention and just hearing from me what you previously decided I must be saying.

  287. isaiah said,

    August 22, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Jason (271 & 274):

    I think you’re on to something there. Really, the Scriptures (OT included) are filled with that kind of language. Consider Micah 6:8:

    He has shown you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justly,
    To love mercy,
    And to walk humbly with your God?

    If the Lord requires this, then it is imperative that we do so. Another example is Ezekiel 18.

    For me, these commands to be holy and righteous are not at odds with the fact that it is Christ who merited salvation for us (unequivocally), and that His grace is sufficient for our conversion and for a life of holiness accomplished in and through Him and for His glory alone.

    ih.

  288. Zrim said,

    August 22, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    (JJS, golf is a pilgrim sport invented in the land of Presbyterians. So, it sort of makes sense that you don’t play.)

  289. August 22, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Jack,

    What am I missing?

    You’re missing the fact that I think you are presenting a false dilemma when you insist that either Jesus provides the merit to save me, or my works are inherently meritorious on their own grounds. The biblical position is that Jesus’ merit is the basis for my salvation, and that the works he produces in me are graciously contributory. This is because God is a Father who, in Christ, is reconstituting humanity in his Son, which involves my bearing the image of Jesus by imitating him by offering myself as a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

  290. jsm52 said,

    August 22, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Jason,

    You may actually discover that I’m not a complete moron.

    I certainly don’t think that.

    “Unless you bear your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”

    Bearing our cross is not a paticipation in Christ’s cross.

    No one is making the case that we are not called to suffer for the name of Christ.

    You seem to think that I am saying that my works are perfect and therefore have no need of Jesus’ blood or cross, in which case you’re not paying attention and just hearing from me what you previously decided I must be saying.

    Not at all. I just hear you (or Rome) claiming that somehow man’s works somehow add to the merit necessary for salvation, which you are also affirming has been supplied by Jesus alone. I think I do understand the RCC position. I just think it is wrong.

  291. August 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Andrew,

    So you are trying to make a connection now to Gal 5 and 6. I’m sorry, did I miss this before? Where did you previously make this connection to me? Was it in #210? Was it in #133? Was it in previous posts to someone else that I missed? I’m reading back through previous posts to me and I have not found it. I really would like you to tell me where you previously made this case to me. I don’t want you to have to make your case “again” so if I’m missing something please let me know via reference to your previous posts, OK?

    This entire thread is about Lane’s response to me where I first brought up the Galatians text (he even links right to it). I am pretty sure I have written about it here further in the last week, but I can’t give you an exact comment number. I apologize if you hadn’t come across it. On second thought, in your last comment you made reference to my argument specifically, so I know you’ve seen some version of it.

    So Gal. 6:8 must be put into the context of the previous chapter of Galatians rather than the verses the immediately surround Gal. 6:8? Could I suggest that the context of Gal. 6:8 is most immediately Gal 6:1-7? So what does Gal. 6:1-7 have to do with the means of justification? Or for that matter what does Gal. 5: 16-26 have to do with the means of justification?

    I know you know that Paul didn’t put the chapter- and verse-references in there, they are added later and are often somewhat artificial. So it doesn’t matter whether we are placing Paul’s words in the context of statements made in a previous chapter. The real question is whether the context I am arguing for is in fact where Paul’s train of thought begins. And if you look at my argument, you will see that I trace very clearly his progression from justification to love, from love to the Spirit, and from the Spirit to eternal life.

    And what does “FWTL” stand for?

    Faith working through love.

    Duh yea, nobody is denying causality here. But as folks have pointed out numerous times here, it is the nature of the causality that is at question here. The question is what exactly the cause and the results are. There is a general relationship here – If WE reap something it is because something that WE have sown – that’s clear. But what does this have to do with what GOD does with what WE sow? Your statements connecting what we reap and what we sow just underlines something basic to Reformed theology. And isn’t that exactly what Gal. 6:8 and it’s immediate text getting at? Or does Gal. 6:8 refer to something that GOD does with what WE sow?

    The passage is about what we sow, and what we reap as a result of it. Of course, our ability to sow in the first place is due to God’s gracious gift of life, just like the ability of the faithful servant to make ten talents was due to his master giving him five. But my point is that in both these cases—and in all the passages I have listed—our Spirit-wrought works of love are a contributing cause to our final salvation.

    And so far, no one but Jeff has even tried to argue from Scripture otherwise.

  292. August 23, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Jack,

    Not at all. I just hear you (or Rome) claiming that somehow man’s works somehow add to the merit necessary for salvation, which you are also affirming has been supplied by Jesus alone.

    I hate to use the P-word, but you are still evaluating what I am saying through the lens of your own paradigm, according to which any contributions I make necessarily devalue Jesus’ work by robbing him of glory.

    But glory is not a zero-sum game, any more than my own son’s learning how to dress himself threatens me because I think he doesn’t need me as much as he used to. In fact, the more my son grows and exhibits my traits and displays my image, the more glorified I am.

    I think I do understand the RCC position. I just think it is wrong.

    For the reasons I just stated, I don’t think you do understand it. Trust me, I had all the exact same objections as you a few years ago, for the exact same reasons. It wasn’t until I understood the Catholic paradigm that I realized my objections amounted to nothing more than criticizing Rome for not being Genevan enough (which is question-begging).

    But it’s not all about paradigms, of course. I also have begun to see that the familial paradigm has infinitely greater explanatory power for way more of the biblical data than I ever thought it did.

    PS – If you think what I am saying is wrong, feel free to argue as much from the Bible.

  293. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 23, 2012 at 12:20 am

    This entire thread is about Lane’s response to me where I first brought up the Galatians text…

    Jason,

    If you say that I’m ignoring what you have to say, I’m assuming that this references my previous post(s). If there is some larger context that I am to refer to that I’m supposed to respond to maybe you could reference that. Sound reasonable?

    I know you know that Paul didn’t put the chapter- and verse-references in there, they are added later and are often somewhat artificial.

    Fine, you want to make the case that Paul does not shift focus at all and everything he says must be brought back to the means by which God justifies us? And you are sure that Gal. 6:1-7 must be speaking of such means? But I just don’t see how Gal. 6:1-7 speaks to the issue of how we are justified. Is it possible that he has shifted focus? Take another example – Does everything in the book of Romans after Rom. 6 tie back to justification or is it possible that Paul shifts focus in later chapters of Romans? Forget about chapter divisions – tell me about what Gal. 6:1-7 says and whether it is focused on the mechanics of justification.

    And so far, no one but Jeff has even tried to argue from Scripture otherwise.

    There are no shortage of Scriptures which speak of our justification being parts from the works we do. We have not gotten into these (maybe Jeff did). I was hoping that you might see that the passages you picked could be taken either way. That is, they associate faith and works without one necessarily being causative of the other. But if we really want to talk about passages that clearly speak to the means by which we are justified then we can do that. My central point is that such verses as Gal. 6:8 don’t obviously speak to the issue of the means by which God justifies us, nor does the immediate context speak to the matter.

  294. jsm52 said,

    August 23, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Jason,

    I hate to use the P-word, but you are still evaluating what I am saying through the lens of your own paradigm

    Indeed, a two-edged sword.

    according to which any contributions I make necessarily devalue Jesus’ work by robbing him of glory.

    Contributions we make… To what effect? To the salvation that was wrought by Christ’s merit alone? Or is it simply our walking in the good works prepared beforehand for us by God, acceptable only by Christ’s blood to God’s glory?

    Trust me

    If you were a politician, I would be grabbing to protect my wallet. ;-)

    I wouldn’t assume that my questions or objections are the same as yours were. And frankly, the whole paradigm approach… isn’t it a bit of question-begging, in and of itself? How did Paul ever cut through all the competing philosophies of his Greek hearers to deliver and communicate the gospel? I don’t think he gave them the paradigm first.

    Again, I think I understand the RCC position. And, I may have more familiarity with it than you realize.

    cheers…

  295. Susan said,

    August 23, 2012 at 2:42 am

    I’ve been advised that I balance my blog reading by including learned Reformers as I am in the process of moving closer to Rome. Unfortunately what I found debated here is very clearly explained in intelligent and well written articles at Called to Communion minus the snark and ad hominems.
    Sorry, but I’ve got to be frank, this site’s administrator seems to permit pot shots and locker room butt slapping. If there was volume I think the laughter would sound like Patrick from Spongebob. Fun if your in detention, but if your seriously looking to for understanding there are better places to waste time.

  296. johnbugay said,

    August 23, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I’ve put up an article at Triablogue this morning, which speaks to the heart of the disagreement on Justification. I think an understanding of some of the historical issues are very important to understanding this discussion in the present time:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/08/augustine-goofs-on-justification-whole.html

  297. August 23, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Jason at 292:

    “The more my son grows and exhibits…the more glorified I am”

    Can’t say I agree, on your relationship with your own son, or the theological truth.

    Jason, I can’t help but think of your former congregation right now. As they see you continuing to write.

    It sounds like you are happy with your decision and where you are at. I don’t know the history of all this (you bloggers have been going at it a while).

    I do pray that whatever blogging and commenting we all do, is to Gods glory. But our righteousness is filthy rags. May we be thankful children, as we consider that God has so condescended, that he has regarded you and me. Indeed, “what is man that you are mindful of him.”

    The only other verse I can think of is how “the glory of the children is their father.” As a human, I necessarily fail and don’t love my children as I should. But someone has fulfilled that law. I rest on his law keeping, for peace for my soul. Or,as I read your quote on your blog about imputation, “I am so thankful for the active obedience of Christ…no hope without it.” You know who I quote, Jason.

    Here’s the glory of the father thing. Sorry if I am incoherent. I wish you all the best. Nice chatting, maybe we can surf someday, although Santa Barbara isn’t the best. Come up to Santa Cruz. Sometimes I wonder what they put in the water down their in So. Cal. Just kidding.

    http://www.esvbible.org/search/proverbs+17%3A6/

    Peace,
    AB

  298. August 23, 2012 at 7:53 am

    JB 295,

    Looks like a great article, I look forward to reading. I was especially pleased when searching for, ‘Stellman’, there were no references in your article. What we are talking about is much bigger than one former PCA minister, as sad as we l can be to see one of our own, leave us.

    I may be the wookie over in ‘evoltuion land,’ on those strings here at GB. But we all know who is the wookie around here. The wise words (not exactly quoting Scripture) are, ‘let him win.’

    These aren’t the droids your looking for.

    Nothing to see here. “Move along! Move along!“

    Andrew

  299. August 23, 2012 at 8:47 am

    PS I really was incoherent with my “glory” thing and verse, in 296. It took a 2.2 mile run for me to get my wits about me…

    The point is, in Scripture, we see, “Abraham is our father…” Meaning, we as God’s children, glory in who our Heavenly Father is.

    I really don’t see myself as adding to God’s glory. Rather, it is in union and communion with Christ that I SHARE in God’s glory. It’s all his to start with. Sure, I plan to be in a glorified state someday. But the basis is not me, Andrew Buckingham. It is in Him, whom I have trust.

    [post trimmed by moderator]

  300. johnbugay said,

    August 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Bryan 254: Hodge’s premises are true, but his conclusion doesn’t follow from his premises.

    So you say. It’s your word vs. his. And I’m far more inclined to take him at his word. Your methodology is to say “he thinks (incorrectly) that there is some inconsistency in the Catholic doctrine”. But your method involves assuming that Catholic doctrine is not inconsistent, so therefore there is no inconsistency. You’re just magically correct in this.

    I don’t buy into your particular brand of make-believe.

  301. Bryan Cross said,

    August 23, 2012 at 9:16 am

    John, (re: #299)

    It’s your word vs. his.

    Those who have never taken logic are dependent on others to evaluate the soundness of arguments for them. If I were in that position, I’d probably do exactly what you’re doing: trust those I know. But there is another alternative — learn logic, so that you don’t have to take people’s word about whether an argument is valid or invalid.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  302. johnbugay said,

    August 23, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Bryan, I’m also unwilling to follow one of your rabbit trails. A huge portion of your conclusion involves checking facts, which I’m sure you didn’t do, and I know that Hodge was a very thorough theologian, relying on other reliable theologians. I posted the article as background info for Jeff, not to make a statement about it.

  303. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 23, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Jason (#261): Without trying to over-interpret the parable, would you not agree that the basics of Catholic soteriology fit quite nicely with the basics of what is taught in it?

    No, actually, I wouldn’t. The key point that is missing is this (cross-posting from the other thread): Where does the third servant show any evidence of an initial justification? He ought to have some kind of love that then goes away, or that he destroys by mortal sin.

    Instead, he sins because he has fear and mistrust of the master from the beginning.

    Not that I’m biased ;), but I think the Reformed understanding sticks to the details of the text better; it runs closer to the metal.

    David G, I’ll try to push on Gal 5 a bit more.

  304. August 23, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I understand the motives of reformed dudes posting out here. Pretty loving of faithful men to answer and answer and keep answering. Especially of questions from people who claim they were once reformed. Its Mr Cross and Mr Stellman I dont get. Oh yeah, Cross runs a website to ‘se’ people from reformed theology.

    Keep it up, C2C people. The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers…

  305. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 23, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Jason, to put the point another way: I understand all of these parables, including the sheep and goats, in terms of the basic “root and fruit” paradigm of Matt 7.

    The Catholic paradigm would have us believe that in fact there are two different roots going on in an individual, and the thing that determines their eternal destiny is which root the free will chooses to follow.

    Well, the deciding organ — the free will itself — which root does it belong to?

    On the one hand, if it is transformed by agape, then why doesn’t that will always make righteous choices?

    On the other, if it is not transformed, then in what sense can we make righteous choices at all?

    On the third hand, if the free will is somewhat transformed and somewhat not transformed, then what organ controls that free-will to determine whether we freely choose the good or the bad?

    In my view, the very notion of “free-will” as an organ that chooses between the natures is philosophically incoherent — it leads to infinite regress and a mental model in which the real “me” stands outside of my own desires and arbitrates between them.

    The Reformed solution is to understand all of these parables in light of root and fruit. There is a good root in the justified because God has already determined that they will be righteous, and works by His Spirit to sanctify those whom He has declared righteous. The ‘old man’ is dead but not gone; the ‘new man’ is alive but not perfected, and we act according to the desires of our heart. In that sense, and only in that sense, are the wills free.

    Only one root is alive by the work of the Spirit, which is why, ultimately, the saints persevere.

    The root, not the free-will, determines the fruit.

  306. August 23, 2012 at 9:34 am

    *save

  307. TurretinFan said,

    August 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

    BC wrote:

    Those who have never taken logic are dependent on others to evaluate the soundness of arguments for them. If I were in that position, I’d probably do exactly what you’re doing: trust those I know. But there is another alternative — learn logic, so that you don’t have to take people’s word about whether an argument is valid or invalid.

    It’s amazing how much credit private judgment gets when it comes to some things but not others.

    – TurretinFan

  308. August 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Turretin the Puritan:

    Valid point.

    Not knowing specifically your eclessiological leanings, as Orthodox Presbyterians, we take a vow upon membership to submit to the leadership in a local congregation.

    My private judgment is part and parcel to my Christian Liberty. But being a presbyterian means I submit to oversight. Hence the problem with Romanism – is there anyone to whom the Pope must answer?

    Presbyterianism is something I treasure. It’s Jesus that I love. But I sense the Spirit is moving amongst presbyterian churches. It’s too bad Cross and Stellman may be learning, too late, just how poorly manicured the Pope’s golf courses are. As I recall, Luther also was pretty saddened by what he found.

    The Pope may not be updating twitter, does anyone know if he blogs? Does he allow comments via comboxes? I’d like to check out what his fingers are pouring forth.

    On second thought, I’ve got better things to read.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  309. Zrim said,

    August 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Those who have never taken logic are dependent on others to evaluate the soundness of arguments for them. If I were in that position, I’d probably do exactly what you’re doing: trust those I know. But there is another alternative — learn logic, so that you don’t have to take people’s word about whether an argument is valid or invalid.

    Bryan, for one so opposed to private judgment and so affirming of implicit faith in the Magisterium this is an amazingly ironic statement.

  310. Zrim said,

    August 23, 2012 at 10:31 am

    You seem to think that I am saying that my works are perfect and therefore have no need of Jesus’ blood or cross, in which case you’re not paying attention and just hearing from me what you previously decided I must be saying.

    JJS, this is what can get frustrating. I understand you’re wanting to make the Catholic case by way of Protestant methodology (what does the Bible say?). But at some point the Protestant project is also about evaluating a case made that isn’t Protestant, and one of the evaluations is how the Catholic case undercuts the exclusive work of Christ. I know you know that, and I know you make room for faith and even for the cross of Christ (though for different purposes than substitutionary atonement). But it isn’t the case that we “aren’t paying attention” so much as bringing the Catholic case in for criticism of what it seems to clearly imply. That might irk you, but we see it as our great burden, something I think you also understand, so I’d ask that you dial down the suggestion that nobody is paying attention to you or even understanding you.

  311. August 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

    “Those who have never taken logic are dependent on others to evaluate the soundness of arguments for them. If I were in that position, I’d probably do exactly what you’re doing: trust those I know. But there is another alternative — learn logic, so that you don’t have to take people’s word about whether an argument is valid or invalid.”

    My logic class (called Philosophy 3) at UCSB was extremely Atheistic. Just FYI.

    I don’t think it’s for lack of logic that people tend to want to set aside their own reasoning capabilities, and instead simply parrot others. There’s much more psychology involved with in individual who does not feel comfortable in his/her own skin.

    Once we recognize our identity is in Christ, we are no longer slaves to our old way, whereby we identified with our career, our abilities, or our reasoning or logic skills. We put all those squarely at the foot of Jesus, and serve him with all that is in us. Not because the church tells us that in so doing, we contribute to God’s glory. But rather, once we come under a full conviction of our sin and what God did in order to procure our salvation, we truly will run and not grow weary. Walk, and not become faint.

    http://www.esvbible.org/search/isaiah+40%3A31/

    http://www.hark.com/clips/zzbqrwjswk-what-are-you-trying-to-tell-me-that-i-can-dodge-bullets

  312. August 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Michael, right. I was speaking in human terms. Who gives the pope his yearly review and rating? Who determines whether he gets a raise?

    Luther had a simple message: indulgences have to go. That led to the correct questioning of papal infallibility.

    Why doesn’t the pope even entertain my offer to golf with him?

    If he’s got time for twitter feeds, clearly, he must have time to hit the links every once in a while.

    Oh, that’s right, he’s no presbyterian…popes do other things to get their frustration out. to let off steam.

    some people use comboxes.

    All fine and dandy.

    You GB’ers crack me up. If you won’t golf with me, anyone want to go for a run on Saturday? I’m slow right now….but getting better every day!

    For His glory alone,
    Andrew

  313. August 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I might add, that the Pope is not the only one with physical death in his future. I’ve actually been told that once day my brain waves will cease as well. Again, all fine and good. Can we see that as a part of God’s plan, these things are exactly as they should be? Sure, sin entered in, death is unnatural, yeah yeah, I get that.

    Hence the God who died for us, to take care of the problem.

    That God, he thought of everything…

    One would expect a loving God is with us not only in our grandiose theological blog comments. He’s with us in the details. Sure, the devil may be in the details (as an accountant, I kinda get this), but God’s there all the more. In fact, he’s with me while I go about my daily labor.

    Bringing glory to Himself.

    You want to know what glory I bring to the table, to add to God’s glory?

    Ummmm…

    Catholics – what does your good works look like before a holy God?

    There’s a great Five Iron Frenzy song, about a child bringing a dandilion to his/her parent. FIF fans, back me up.

    Humor me – I’m a nor-cal guy. Don’t get me started on the Christian Rock scene of the 1990’s. And all the bands that came through Concord CA.

    I could go on…

  314. David Gadbois said,

    August 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Andrew B. and others, I have trimmed back some of the comments here. Please stay focused and on-topic, and don’t put video links on the combox unless there is a very compelling reason to do so.

    The scriptural issues Jason S. brings up here are very relevant, and worth taking the time to answer thoughtfully (unlike those of most of his CTC brethren). And we genuinely thank him for sticking to substantive issues and avoiding the dishonest games we see around here too often. Lane (and some commenters such as Jeff Cagle) have begun providing such answers, for which I am grateful. I’m sure Lane will have more posts to come to follow up on more of these issues, but I have not been able to get a hold of him via e-mail for a few days, so I am quite sure he is legitimately busy with, well, the sort of all-consuming business that one would expect of a full-time pastor. So please be patient.

  315. August 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    David G, yes, please trim away. I do get carried away (understatement of the year?)

    I think I finally get “TF’s” idea of no church affiliations through his blogging.

    The problem I have with all of this is that the line between church and blog is being blurred.

    TF, I leave this all in your capable hands.

    See you all around e-mail airwaves,
    Andrew

  316. August 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Andrew,

    Concerning your assertion that Gal. 6:1-7, and not anything in Gal. 5, should be considered the context of 6:8-9, I wrote, “I know you know that Paul didn’t put the chapter- and verse-references in there, they are added later and are often somewhat artificial. So it doesn’t matter whether we are placing Paul’s words in the context of statements made in a previous chapter. The real question is whether the context I am arguing for is in fact where Paul’s train of thought begins.”

    And you responded:

    Fine, you want to make the case that Paul does not shift focus at all and everything he says must be brought back to the means by which God justifies us? And you are sure that Gal. 6:1-7 must be speaking of such means? But I just don’t see how Gal. 6:1-7 speaks to the issue of how we are justified. Is it possible that he has shifted focus? Take another example – Does everything in the book of Romans after Rom. 6 tie back to justification or is it possible that Paul shifts focus in later chapters of Romans? Forget about chapter divisions – tell me about what Gal. 6:1-7 says and whether it is focused on the mechanics of justification.

    Andrew, I have connected these dots for you in every way imaginable. I am not going to take you by the hand and do all the work for you. If you cannot see how, in my understanding, Paul’s statements about sowing to the Spirit are connected to his prior statement about being justified by faith working through love, then I suggest we drop it and move on to something else. We’re clearly just not communicating well at this point.

    You ask if “it is possible” that Paul shifted gears, thus destroying the connection I am making. The answer is yes. If you want to try to make that argument instead of just asking me if it is possible that I might be wrong, I’d be happy to listen. But again, that’s your job, not mine.

    I wrote, “And so far, no one but Jeff has even tried to argue from Scripture otherwise,” and you responded:

    There are no shortage of Scriptures which speak of our justification being parts from the works we do. We have not gotten into these (maybe Jeff did). I was hoping that you might see that the passages you picked could be taken either way. That is, they associate faith and works without one necessarily being causative of the other.

    Yes, comparing paradigms often means that a given passage could be taken in multiple ways depending on the lenses through which one is looking and the assumptions he brings to the table. I am trying to show that the “agape paradigm” has more explanatory value than the imputation one. You have disagreed with me, but haven’t attempted to provide an alternative (beyond merely restating your position over and over again).

    But if we really want to talk about passages that clearly speak to the means by which we are justified then we can do that. My central point is that such verses as Gal. 6:8 don’t obviously speak to the issue of the means by which God justifies us, nor does the immediate context speak to the matter.

    Yes, that is your point, but so far you haven’t argued it. But let’s drop this passage since we’re clearly getting nowhere, and I’ll suggest a different one:

    What is the “means by which we are justified” in Matt. 12:36-37?

  317. August 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Back up one verse, Jason. I think you skipped that one. Or back up one more verse, and see who it is that Jesus is talking to.

    Jesus is saying vs. 36-37 in light of his statement about “evil” persons and “good” persons. There’s an ordo-salutis thing very clear in that Matt 12 passage.

    The main thrust of Scripture speaks to a God who chooses Jacob/Esau before the foundation of the world.

    But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the guys who know their greek. My only point is, that I don’t think your point holds, when read, in context.

    Peace.

  318. August 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Jeff,

    Jason, to put the point another way: I understand all of these parables, including the sheep and goats, in terms of the basic “root and fruit” paradigm of Matt 7…. The Reformed solution is to understand all of these parables in light of root and fruit. There is a good root in the justified because God has already determined that they will be righteous, and works by His Spirit to sanctify those whom He has declared righteous. The ‘old man’ is dead but not gone; the ‘new man’ is alive but not perfected, and we act according to the desires of our heart. In that sense, and only in that sense, are the wills free.

    Yes, and the Catholic position sees a baptized person as having received the life of God within him, such that “as many of you as were baptized, were baptized into Christ’s death [and resurrection]”; “Repent and be baptized, and you will receive the gift of the Spirit”; “Rise, brother Saul, be baptized and wash away your sins”; “by the washing of regeneration… so that, being justified….”

    And of course, in Catholicism the number of the elect is smaller than the number of those regenerated in baptism.

    Would you say that the real issue here is whether one can indeed be well-rooted and yet, due to his failure to bear fruit, be up-rooted? Because it seems to me from what you say above that such a thing is impossible.

  319. August 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Of course, I know I am butting in. Too many andrew’s around here… :-)

  320. August 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Zrim,

    JJS, this is what can get frustrating. I understand you’re wanting to make the Catholic case by way of Protestant methodology (what does the Bible say?).

    Asking what the Bible says is not “Protestant methodology.” Do you really think that? I ask, because I am running the risk of saying that you don’t understand what Catholics believe about where Scripture fits in their view of authority, and I know you hate that.

    But at some point the Protestant project is also about evaluating a case made that isn’t Protestant, and one of the evaluations is how the Catholic case undercuts the exclusive work of Christ. I know you know that, and I know you make room for faith and even for the cross of Christ (though for different purposes than substitutionary atonement). But it isn’t the case that we “aren’t paying attention” so much as bringing the Catholic case in for criticism of what it seems to clearly imply.

    When you (or whoever) insist that what I am saying undercuts Jesus’ sufficiency, you are making a claim that contains within it a view of Jesus’ sufficiency that is uniquely Protestant, as I explained to Jack last night. It’s not a theologically neutral claim. So when I try to show that your view of sufficiency is different from mine, your job is to compare the two approaches to that issue and show why yours is better.

    That is very different from just continuing to insist that my view devalues Jesus’ work or undercuts his sufficiency.

    That might irk you, but we see it as our great burden, something I think you also understand, so I’d ask that you dial down the suggestion that nobody is paying attention to you or even understanding you.

    But Steve, in this very comment of yours you are demonstrating a lack of awareness of just how deep and paradigmatic our differences are, as well as (another) misstatement of the role of Scripture in Catholicism, despite my trying to explain to you at least twice before that you are misrepresenting your opponents.

    Now, that might irk you, but I trust we’ve known each other long enough for a bit or irking now and again.

  321. johnbugay said,

    August 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Jason, with this statement:

    in this very comment of yours you are demonstrating a lack of awareness of just how deep and paradigmatic our differences are…

    you sound just like the Dentist from the Seinfeld episode, who converted to Judaism, and said, “Jerry, our people have suffered for 5000 years …”

    You really do need to get on the sacramental treadmill for a few years, and have some fights with your wife about using birth control, and experience the kids not wanting to go to Mass on Sunday, and you wondering if you were sick enough to stay home, and is this even worth bringing up to the priest in confession.

    Do that for a while, and maybe you’ll have something to complain about.

  322. johnbugay said,

    August 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    P.S. re my 321, I am not an anti-Dentite.

  323. August 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I am not an anti-Dentite.

    You’re a rabid anti-Dentite. Pretty soon you’ll be saying they should have their own schools.

  324. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Jason (#320): Asking what the Bible says is not “Protestant methodology.” Do you really think that?

    I do. I’ve been many rounds with Bryan Cross, and it always comes to this: If the Bible seems to say what Rome says, he quotes the Bible. If the Bible seems to contradict Rome, he tells me that “that’s my private interpretation” and “you are an individualist.”

    Keep in mind that to join the Church, you must profess that you accept whatsoever the Church teaches.

    There is no room for “asking what the Bible says” on any matter of serious importance in this paradigm. The freedom to “ask what the Bible says” is limited to matters not already defined by Rome.

    The RC church claims creative authority over the canon, the authority to infallibly interpret the Scripture, and the responsibility of members to believe whatsoever the church teachers, even if “the church declares to be white what seems to me to be black.”

    That is the force of Bryan’s arguments.

    The reason I continue to hold out hope in our interactions is that you are still operating from the view that X theology is what is actually taught in the Scripture. Once you are all the way over, your view will be that X theology is infallible because the church teaches it, and any evidence in Scripture to the contrary must of course be misunderstood. Evidence is irrelevant, because evidence has to be interpreted and we already know that the Church is the highest and most correct interpretive authority.

    Asking what the Bible says — and seeking to listen to the text without an answer key ready at hand — is a radical disruption to “I believe whatsoever the church teaches.”

    WCoF 20.2: …and the requiring an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

  325. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    John

    # 296

    See here.

  326. Zrim said,

    August 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Asking what the Bible says is not “Protestant methodology.” Do you really think that? I ask, because I am running the risk of saying that you don’t understand what Catholics believe about where Scripture fits in their view of authority, and I know you hate that.

    JJS, yes, I have always understood the Protestant method to be the formal principle of the Reformation: sola scriptura, or asking what the Bible teaches. And I’m not attempting to “understand what Catholics believe about where Scripture fits in their view of authority.” I am talking about YOUR project, which seems to me to be exegeting the Bible and showing how that corresponds to Catholic conclusions.

    When you (or whoever) insist that what I am saying undercuts Jesus’ sufficiency, you are making a claim that contains within it a view of Jesus’ sufficiency that is uniquely Protestant, as I explained to Jack last night. It’s not a theologically neutral claim. So when I try to show that your view of sufficiency is different from mine, your job is to compare the two approaches to that issue and show why yours is better.

    That is very different from just continuing to insist that my view devalues Jesus’ work or undercuts his sufficiency.

    You are missing my point. I know what you think my Protestant job is, and I don’t have a problem with that. But what I am pointing out to you is that our job description is a little more expansive. Some here are trying to show why the Protestant view of sufficiency is superior to Rome’s. But sometimes it bears pointing out the implication of yours is to undermine the exclusive sufficiency of Christ. And it isn’t because nobody understands you or isn’t paying attention and is falling back on merely judging what they don’t understand (though I’m sure that does happen). It’s because it’s our job, and you’ll just have to accept that this comes with the territory of dealing with Reformed Prots, irksome as it may be.

    But Steve, in this very comment of yours you are demonstrating a lack of awareness of just how deep and paradigmatic our differences are, as well as (another) misstatement of the role of Scripture in Catholicism, despite my trying to explain to you at least twice before that you are misrepresenting your opponents.

    Now, that might irk you, but I trust we’ve known each other long enough for a bit or irking now and again.

    Fubar (cashing in on some of that friendly history). Like I have suggested to you before, the paradigmatic differences are the primacy of ecclesia (Cat) and scriptura (Prot). I know you think I misunderstand and misrepresent, but the primacy of ecclesia is what comes through in 99% of the Roman representatives here and elsewhere (i.e. “The RCC is the church that Jesus Christ founded”). I reserve a percentage for folks like you who seem to be coming from another angle, namely scriptura.

    And they DO have their own schools. Did you convert to Catholicism just for the jokes (lend Bryan a funny bone, will you please?)

  327. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    You really do need to get on the sacramental treadmill for a few years, and have some fights with your wife about using birth control, and experience the kids not wanting to go to Mass on Sunday, and you wondering if you were sick enough to stay home, and is this even worth bringing up to the priest in confession.

    In my marriage I’ll admit that the church’s teaching on life is not easy. It is a cross to bear in many ways. But this is what we’re called to do. Being open to life comes with the vocation to which we’ve been called. Furthermore, bringing four young children to mass is very difficult. We’re usually huddled in the ‘cry’ room and often times I am the one who feels like crying! I can admit that Sunday mornings may just be the hardest time of the week for us at present.

    Having said all of that we certainly don’t feel that we’re on some kind of ‘treadmill’ when we go to worship Jesus Christ and receive Him sacramentally. What a privilege. What a joy. My wife was raised in the Catholic Church but even in the years when we were Presbyterian she always held to a Catholic view of suffering and offering up our trials and pains to God.

  328. johnbugay said,

    August 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Don’t get me wrong Sean. The physical portions of the treadmill are bad enough. But when I started questioning myself for talking to the statues, then I think the Lord started working on my heart and convicting me of really how bad the doctrinal issues were. There was no “privilege” in Roman sacraments. Though if you believe there is, that is very telling.

  329. sean said,

    August 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Sean Patrick,

    No offense but seeing as I was raised a cradle catholic and Irish on both sides, I feel I can speak to the matter; that’s what we called the martyr complex. You look up the phrase in the dictionary, and you see a picture of an Irish catholic mother. I don’t know if your wife is Irish, but I hope you take that with the humor with which it’s meant.

    Sean Moore

  330. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    John # 328 – I don’t know what you are talking about when you say ‘physical portions’ of the treadmill?

    Sean # 329 – I know what a ‘martyr complex’ is but that is not what I am talking about.

    We could easily read St Paul and accuse him of a ‘martyr complex.’ I am talking about taking up our cross and following Jesus even when it makes us uncomfortable. Christians are not called to be comfortable and have it easy. Its not an easy road. Staying home in bed all day on Sunday is a lot easier than going to mass.

  331. August 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Your island? You mean, Ireland?

  332. sean said,

    August 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Sean P,

    Sorry it bombed. That’s why I work for a living. I wasn’t trying to seriously suggest a flaw in your practice or your wife’s, my mother is/was famous for it in our family, along with other more ‘virtuous’ attributes but she wasn’t one to shy from the guilt trip and she wasn’t the only one. Anyway, never mind. My bad. I’ve argued from the start that sacerdotalism and the mass is the heart of Rome. I don’t question your sincerity in it’s practice, even if I no longer share your convictions.

  333. sean said,

    August 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    JJS;

    We still haven’t met an Englishman we thought was worth more than a plug nickel and don’t get me started on Lord Protectors. By the way, everyone else is British they aren’t English, and they’ll spill your blood if you get it wrong. Jus sayin’

  334. August 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Well, I grant sean the award on this thread – ding ding ding – you got the 3 triple 3 comment award. That seems worth point out, trinitarians that we all are.

    nice to see folks chumming it up around these parts. maybe just one day, we can set aside 500 (or more?) years of strife in this, our western church, and enjoy some psalm 133 fellowship.

    it’s just nice that instead of the wars of 500 years ago, today, we only do this over theological blogs, like this pious place, green baggins.

    thank you all, for your fellowship. thank you all, you moderators. but in the words of JV Fesko (link “theology” on my google profile), “the more things change, the more, they stay the same.”

    the wars will continue. but nice to see men in the trenches enjoying a nice christmas together, as brothers.

    remember, devoted and pious churchmen – we your congregants are reading your thoughts. take care.

  335. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Sean Moore…It fine. I get it now, I think….

    My wife is actually of Polish lineage however I am trying to instill in my children militant Irish pride.

  336. sean said,

    August 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Sean P,

    Good man. The Irish are a gang at heart. Good luck with that. I mean it.

  337. isaiah. said,

    August 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    John (328):

    when I started questioning myself for talking to the statues …

    And right you were for doing so. Now, talking to Jesus and the saints is a whole different matter. But I suppose the materialists and atheists out there would question that practice. I pray that we never see the day they lock up all of us, Catholic and Protestant, for being downright loony bins! “Talking” to unseen things, indeed!

    ih.

  338. TurretinFan said,

    August 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Isaiah:

    There’s nothing distinctly Christian about attempts to communicate with those in the afterlife. But your better off talking to statues – at least they have ears (though they cannot hear) and eyes (though they cannot see).

    All those who offer dulia to them are like them.

    -TurretinFan

  339. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    # 338.

    Dulia is not offered to the statues.

  340. TurretinFan said,

    August 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    SP: Statues are venerated in your religion. Veneration, as distinct from adoration, is called “dulia.” You should learn what your religion actually teaches and then come to the Christian faith (or simply skip to step 2). -TurretinFan

  341. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    # 340.

    Dulia is given to saints, not statues.

  342. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    On Dulia

    “A further distinction is made between dulia in the absolute sense, the honour paid to persons, and dulia in the relative sense, the honour paid to inanimate objects, such as images and relics.”

    In #338 you remarked how we give Dulia to statues but remark how the statues cannot hear. Of course the statues cannot hear. You conflate the Dulia (absolute) given to the saints who can hear and the relative Dulia, or honor paid towards images and relics.

  343. TurretinFan said,

    August 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    AB #334: Either Rome’s gospel is true and it is absolutely necessary for salvation to serve the Roman pontiff, or Rome’s gospel is false. If Rome’s gospel is true, then why are you not serving the Roman pontiff? If it is false, then why are you treating those who follow that gospel as brothers? Do you think that they don’t really believe what Rome teaches? That’s possible – some don’t really understand their religion. Do you think that they understand it but don’t follow it? That too is possible – in fact internally the “conservatives” and “liberals” accuse one another of not following “the Church”‘s teachings on different issues.

    But I get the feeling that’s not what you meant.

    – TurretinFan

  344. TurretinFan said,

    August 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    SP:

    I didn’t conflate anything. You claimed dulia is not given to statues in your religion. Now you know better.

    Instead of apologizing for your false accusation and thanking me for educating you, you just add a new false accusation. Your fruit shows your root.

    -TurreitnFan

  345. August 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    “If it is false, then why are you treating those who follow that gospel as brothers?”

    I’ll answer when addressed. But otherwise, will remain silent.

    I think it’s a fair question. Until I met this blog and all the characters out here, I had only really started asking questions of 1 roman catholic who I met several months ago. I think the other RC I met was perhaps a date on Valentines day, freshman year at UCSB. I didn’t ask her a lot of theology on that date (or if I did, perhaps that’s why a second never materialised…)

    No matter.

    I don’t know TurretinFan – wishful thinking? I agree their pontiff creates a problem, a rift. I suppose if the world was going according to my way, yeah, the Pope would step down, and acknowledge that Christ is the true head of the church.

    But I’ll be the first to say – I don’t know what I’m doing out here in these blogs. Other than looking for friends. That and trying to be as honest (in and amongst my snark) as I can.

    Is calling them brothers going too far? Ok, I’ll grant you the point. In the kids music we have, there’s a song by “They might be giants,” called, “my brother the ape” (on a cd called, “here comes science.”)

    We skip that song, by the way, when we are listening to the others, about the planets, the period tables, etc.

    I also here there’s good music and song for saplings.

    Here’s my question to whomever will take the call:

    “What does the future of Rome/Geneva dialogue look like?”

    You all chew on that. I’ll be asking my committee on ecumenicity the question, in the meantime. Again, there are proper means and procedures. For me to be out here on blogs, huffing, puffing, and pontificating, this is not what makes God happy, at least for me.

    Trying to be open and honest, TF. Any other questions, shoot me another e-mail. I appreciate hearing from you or any other who takes that route.

    Golf?
    Andrew

  346. August 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I just call it like I see it. I thought I saw the troops laying down their arms, playing some soccer in the “dead zone” of green baggins:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_truce

    who knows,
    andrew

  347. August 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    *no man’s land

  348. August 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    don’t worry, TF, if need be, the mods can trim my comments. I’m ready for a fight. soccer game is over.

    i’m just a guy, who kinda wants to find someone to golf friday mornings. peace?

  349. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    #344.

    Glad we’re clear that your #338 was a straw man as Catholics do not believe that statues ‘hear them.’

  350. isaiah. said,

    August 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    AB (345):

    Just a quick correction on this:

    if … the Pope would step down, and acknowledge that Christ is the true head of the church.

    The Pope already acknowledges that Christ is the true head of the Church, as every good Christian should. If you mean that “the Pope is the head of the college of bishops,” which is a very different thing indeed, then I’m not sure why that would necessitate his “stepping down”.

    ih.

  351. August 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    isaiah,

    we’re cool. but let me get that from the horses mouth. do you know if he golfs?

    i’ll be sure to ask him when i see him.

    still hasn’t returned my call, I’d settle for a Saturday run around my block,
    andrew

  352. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    #349. In case its not clear, Turretin Fan, in Dulia that we give to saints we do not believe that statues hear us. Hence the straw man in #344.

    But, happy to assist you in your understanding.

  353. August 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    further questions should not be addressed to me, in this forum. I’m to busy training for a marathon.

    although please e-mail me (andrew(dot)d(dot)buckingham(at)gmail(dot)com).

    I will not be looking at this website until 2013.

    Otherwise, please see this website, for all matters pertaining to geneva and rome:

    http://www.opc.org/icr.html

    peace, all.

  354. August 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    ps my comments in this blog do not represent anything other than my own personal opinions. i represent no organization or church body blah blah blah

  355. TurretinFan said,

    August 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    SP #349 & #352. No, you didn’t properly understand my original comment. Perhaps that is due to a lack of clarity from my side. Let me clarify.

    I fully acknowledge you guys are trying to communicate with dead people, not trying to communicate with the wood. I take you for idolaters, not fools.

    I was saying you would be better off trying to talk to the statues themselves – at least they have the eyes and ears that the dead lack. At least you can know your words reach the statutes – you have no good reason to think they reach Mary, Joseph, Jude, Anthony, or any of the other of your pantheon.

    That’s what my typo-burdened line, “But your [sic for you're] better off talking to statues,” was intended to convey to you – that you would be better off talking to the statue.

    Of course, the best approach would be to follow the apostolic tradition and pray to God alone. That’s better than your religion.

    -TurretinFan

  356. Sean Patrick said,

    August 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    # 355. Thanks for clarifying.

    The apostolic tradition is the belief in the communion of saints but that is better saved for another day.

  357. August 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    see, isaiah at 350 (and yes, breaking my vow of silence), what you aren’t getting, is that the pope does not have oversight. however, my pastor, who may golf with me someday (he hasn’t taken it up yet…to busy). but he does come to my house, and had me over for dinner and beer a while back.

    the pope doesn’t even update his twitter feed!!!!

    it’s an oversight issue.

    so much more to be said. and it will continue. we should all stop blogging, and seek the proper people for answers, or go through right channels.

    as far as i am concerned, we are all just out here, looking for friends.

    for brothers.

    peace.

  358. TurretinFan said,

    August 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    SP: My pleasure.

    If you think that the expression “communion of saints” was in the “Apostles’ Creed,” from the earliest era you may want to check out Rufinus’ commentary on the creed (4th century or so). That’s even leaving aside the issue of the changing meaning of the expression “communion of saints” over time.

    Ultimately, when you explore the historical record, the fact is that the apostolic church had no such tradition of trying to communicate with the dead. It was not something handed down to the fathers, but rather something that developed out of a variety of things, especially the great respect that was given to martyrs and their mortal remains (the “cult of martyrs” as it is sometimes called).

    It’s not an apostolic tradition, just as the papacy is not an apostolic tradition (it’s a development). Usually, in this kind of discussion, I’m told that it’s not fair for me to expect a fully a developed view of X in the apostolic era. But that wasn’t my point. My point is that neither the papacy nor prayers to the deceased were traditions delivered by the apostles.

    I will not press you to answer the above points – I merely offer them up as something for you to check and see whether I speak the truth about this matter.

    -TurretinFan

  359. Bryan Cross said,

    August 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Zrim (re: #309)

    Bryan, for one so opposed to private judgment and so affirming of implicit faith in the Magisterium this is an amazingly ironic statement.

    I’m sure you know that Catholics do not have to consult the Holy See for the answers whenever we solve logic problems, or math problems. And surely you don’t think that Catholic doctors, scientists and accountants must send all their provisional findings to the Pope for an infallible confirmation.

    There is a difference between nature and grace, between the natural and the supernatural, between reason and faith, between what is knowable by the natural power of reason, and what is knowable only by divine revelation. Unaided human reason is competent in matters intelligible by its natural light, but unaided human reason is not competent or capable in matters beyond its natural light, i.e. what is supernatural. There is nothing wrong with private judgment per se, but it is wrong to treat unauthorized private judgment as authoritative when there is a divinely appointed authority to which our private judgments are to be subject.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  360. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 23, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Jason (re: 316),

    If you cannot see how, in my understanding, Paul’s statements about sowing to the Spirit are connected to his prior statement about being justified by faith working through love….

    I have been very careful to note exactly what post and even sentences I am referring to when I ask you to explain your comments. But all I get from you is vague and nebulous references to things you have already said. Come on Jason, what specifically are you referring to by the above comment? Give me a post number at a minimum. But hey, once again I’ll take a swag at trying to figure out what you are referring to. You had the “cool little arrows” of post #17. Was this what you are referring to? I answered you here in #36. Maybe it was in your post #38 you are referring to? But then I answered you in #50 showing that your final statement did not flow from your penultimate one. I’ve gone into great detail to show from the text of Gal 6 that the causal connection between what WE do and what GOD does with what we do is not a topic this passage considers. And this does not answer you in any way? And should I continue to play that what-is-Jason-referring-to-game or would you like to tell me where you have so clearly defined a position of yours that I have ignored?

    And should I just stop saying that we agree that the faith which are justified by is one that works through love? I guess that this just does not have any resonance with you?

    I am trying to show that the “agape paradigm” has more explanatory value than the imputation one. You have disagreed with me, but haven’t attempted to provide an alternative (beyond merely restating your position over and over again).

    As I said previously, the only thing we have gotten to so far (that is the conversation you and I have had) is that Galatians 6:8 is not necessarily speaking to the means by which God uses to justify us – It’s just not envisioned by what precedes the text (again, read the text immediately preceding the verse). Is there anything more that I have suggested? I was not trying to argue for an imputation paradigm at this point.

    On Matt 12:37, Jesus is speaking of what characterizes a “good tree” and a “bad tree.” A good tree is characterized by good fruit and a bad tree is characterized by bad fruit. So our works, in this case what we have spoken, will show us to be of the good tree type or bad tree type. Our words justify us in that they demonstrate that we are one type or another. Is there anything more to be made of the verse given the context? So what do you make of the term “justify” here? I’m guessing that you want to connect it with a certain concept, but I will let you comment.

    So if I am to defend an imputation paradigm I would like to suggest another passage to discuss – Phil 3:1-11, particularly verse 9. Do we get the picture from this passage (particularly verse 9) that the righteousness we have is infused in us, or does it come from another and thus is from outside of us?

  361. Jason Loh said,

    August 23, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Dear Susan (re #295),

    Excuse me, but just out of curiosity have you read the Lutheran Reformers … on Luther and perhaps even the Book of Concord? I’m not exactly recommending Lutheranism per se (as I’m not even a strict or unconditional subscriptionist the Lutheran that I am) but I’m sure the theological comparisons (if yet to be made) should be rewarding, enriching, enlightening, etc.

  362. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Susan (again re: 295),

    I meant to respond to you and Jason Loh’s comment reminded me. At CTC there is more moderation of the posts than here. It’s just a different philosophy of how best to let people interact. Please don’t let that be a hindrance to your engaging here. Do you think that Lane’s original post for this thread is less intelligent and less engaging than analogous posts at CTC? If so, why?

    If you are moving towards Rome from confessional Protestantism and want to engage in conversation on the important topics that separate Rome and Geneva (or Wittenberg or Canterbury) then you are in a good place here and I would encourage you to stay, listen, and engage even if some of the responses annoy you.

    Cheers for now,

    Andrew

  363. isaiah. said,

    August 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    TF (355):

    I fully acknowledge you guys are trying to communicate with dead people, not trying to communicate with the wood. I take you for idolaters, not fools.

    I was saying you would be better off trying to talk to the statues themselves – at least they have the eyes and ears that the dead lack. At least you can know your words reach the statutes – you have no good reason to think they reach Mary, Joseph, Jude, Anthony, or any of the other of your pantheon.

    More insults again, I see. No matter. I’ll steady on.

    A couple corrections: to call it “communicating with dead people” is wrong on a couple points.

    1. We are asking the saints for their intercession (which the book of Revelation tells us are offered to God in heaven: see Rev. 8.3-4), just as we would ask a fellow human in the flesh. It is not a seance, we are not calling them back from the dead in order to have to have audible communication with them. So, to say we “pray” to “the dead” is no more correct than saying we “pray” to our this-side-of-heaven brothers and sisters in Christ when ask them to pray for us.
    2. While the saints in heaven may be “dead” in the sense that they have experience physical death on earth, they are also alive in Christ. Do you deny this?

    If you can show us in the Scriptures where it is expressly commanded that we should not ask the saints in heaven (as opposed to fellow Christians in the flesh) to pray on our behalf to God, then do so. As far as the apostolic tradition is concerned, the prayers of the liturgy demonstrate fairly early on that asking the intercession of the saints (including those of the Blessed Virgin Mary) was a normative practice in Christian worship.

    Additionally, you speak of “knowing [our] words reach the statues” and “no good reason to think they reach Mary, etc.” which is fairly inept on another couple points:

    1. Statues and icons are what you say they are: wood (or paint or stone, etc.) and we hold no such illusions that they “hear our prayers” as you seem to think they do. For they are just what they are: the material they are made of: not the saint him or herself, nor some lesser god or goddess.
    2. My second rebuttal is that if we have no good reason to expect our requests to be heard by those who are with Christ, how much more idiotic to expect this so-called “God of the universe who made all we see” who supposedly “came in the form of a human, suffered death (really? God died?) and rose from the dead (what? first this guy deludes himself and others saying he is the son of God, and then his disciples claim that his body was not simply stolen!),” to be hearing our prayers. If you can give me undeniable proof that even the most hardened materialistic atheist would accept that there is a “God” who “hears our prayers” (all of them at once?!), I’ll cough up proof that the saints in heaven are hearing our prayers.

    That is all I have to say right now. Thank you for allowing me to correct your inaccuracies.

    In Christ,

    ih.

  364. Zrim said,

    August 23, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Bryan, if human reason needs the aide of divine revelation then I wonder what you make of Paul’s low opinion of philosophy in relation to the cross:

    For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

    Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

    For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

    But, on top of the puzzling notion of human infallibility, the more I read you the more it sounds like a Christianity that has decided to meet the world on its own philosophical terms and accommodate the faith to the quests of the logician instead of thwarting the wisdom of the wise by the cross. In other words, it sounds like Paul chooses the cross while you choose glorified logic and the inflated Magisterium.

  365. olivianus said,

    August 23, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Zrim,

    As a Protestant I think you are misusing that text. Paul is not creating a dialectic between Divine Wisdom and Logic. He is creating a dialectic between non-revealed human philosophy and revealed divine revelation.

  366. Bryan Cross said,

    August 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Zrim,

    the more I read you the more it sounds like ….

    A good basic principle in rational dialogue: don’t make a judgment based on “sounds like.” Find out the truth before making a judgment. That’s an application of the golden rule.

    The notion that one must choose between the cross on the one hand, and logic or the magisterium on the other, is a false dichotomy.

    But if all your subsequent comments are illogical, I’ll infer that you believed that you had to choose between Jesus and logic, and you chose Jesus, and abandoned logic.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  367. August 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Andrew,

    … all I get from you is vague and nebulous references to things you have already said. Come on Jason, what specifically are you referring to by the above comment? Give me a post number at a minimum.

    Look, everyone has their own way of doing this. Some people (like Bryan) have the ability to remember that they last addressed a question in comment #1276 in a certain thread from back in the ‘90s. I wish I had that kind of mind, but I just don’t. I look at this blog in the morning, and again after my kids are in bed. The comments that are directed to me that I feel need an answer I cut and paste into a Word doc and try to answer it paragraph by paragraph by directly quoting my interlocutor (which often takes me 15 minutes or more per comment). I’m sure you have your own method.

    All that to say, I can’t remember exactly where I said what, only that I have made the Gal. 5-6 point a handful of times. If I have a few minutes later I may wade through all the comments, but I can’t promise it. Sorry.

    I’ve gone into great detail to show from the text of Gal 6 that the causal connection between what WE do and what GOD does with what we do is not a topic this passage considers. And this does not answer you in any way?

    You have not gone into “great detail” about this at all. Here’s what you said:

    “Duh yea, nobody is denying causality here. But as folks have pointed out numerous times here, it is the nature of the causality that is at question here. The question is what exactly the cause and the results are. There is a general relationship here – If WE reap something it is because something that WE have sown – that’s clear. But what does this have to do with what GOD does with what WE sow? Your statements connecting what we reap and what we sow just underlines something basic to Reformed theology. And isn’t that exactly what Gal. 6:8 and it’s immediate text getting at? Or does Gal. 6:8 refer to something that GOD does with what WE sow?”

    In no universe is that “great detail.” What you do there is state what you think the issue is, assert that there’s a “general relationship” between sowing and reaping, ask what this has to do with what God does with what we sow, and then ask a couple more questions. That’s not an argument or a positive attempt at exegeting the text, let alone addressing the progression I have argued for in almost every single comment to you.

    And as I said when I responded to the above paragraph, the text is about OUR sowing and OUR reaping. If we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. Our sowing to the Spirit is only possible because of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (which is love, which fulfills the law, which is ahy Paul can say that we are justified by faith working through love).

    And should I just stop saying that we agree that the faith which are justified by is one that works through love? I guess that this just does not have any resonance with you?

    Not as long as we are looking through different lenses and bringing differing assumptions to the text. Both of us looking at a verse and agreeing with it is easy. Comparing paradigms is hard (as our exchange demonstrates).

    As I said previously, the only thing we have gotten to so far (that is the conversation you and I have had) is that Galatians 6:8 is not necessarily speaking to the means by which God uses to justify us – It’s just not envisioned by what precedes the text (again, read the text immediately preceding the verse).

    We have “gotten to” you asserting that, but you haven’t done anything with my argument except disagree with it a bunch of times. You should do the work to show me where I am going wrong, and why the connection I am drawing is illegitimate.

    On Matt 12:37, Jesus is speaking of what characterizes a “good tree” and a “bad tree.” A good tree is characterized by good fruit and a bad tree is characterized by bad fruit. So our works, in this case what we have spoken, will show us to be of the good tree type or bad tree type. Our words justify us in that they demonstrate that we are one type or another. Is there anything more to be made of the verse given the context? So what do you make of the term “justify” here? I’m guessing that you want to connect it with a certain concept, but I will let you comment.

    I am just curious if you affirm a final justification, and if so, whether it is on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ or not. And if yes, do you understand Jesus to be using “justified” in some other sense than a soteriological one, and if so, why?

    Because for a Catholic, the idea that there is a final justification in which our Spirit-wrought works play a role, is pretty much exactly what Jesus seems to be saying in that passage.

    So if I am to defend an imputation paradigm I would like to suggest another passage to discuss – Phil 3:1-11, particularly verse 9. Do we get the picture from this passage (particularly verse 9) that the righteousness we have is infused in us, or does it come from another and thus is from outside of us?

    Jeff and I have discussed this very passage at length here. The righteousness we have, according to the Catholic, is not “my own, based on the law [of Moses],” but rather is a righteousness that comes from God through Christ. It doesn’t remain outside me or simply cover me the way snow covered Luther’s dunghill, but I am not sure Paul in that passage gets into too much detail about this here. He does directly connect our union with Christ and our possession of this righteousness (“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…”), which fits perfectly with what I am arguing for all along.

    Do you see something in this text that necessitates imputation and with which you think I must disagree, and if so, what?

  368. August 24, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Andrew,

    I laid out (in varying levels of detail) Paul’s progression in Gal. 5-6 in comments 17, 38, and 248 of this thread, and in #s 23, 26, and 32 of the agape/list thread (most if not all of which were addressed to you specifically).

  369. Jason Loh said,

    August 24, 2012 at 12:29 am

    “It doesn’t remain outside me or simply cover me the way snow covered Luther’s dunghill, but I am not sure Paul in that passage gets into too much detail about this here. He does directly connect our union with Christ and our possession of this righteousness (“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…”), which fits perfectly with what I am arguing for all along.”

    Yes, but possession (“having”) does not necessarily imply property (“owning”). Maybe this is why Paul employed the Spirit-debt imagery in e.g. Ephesians except that – consistent with the having/ but not owning undestanding – the debtor (Christian) gets be “credited” whilst the”creditor” assumes the role of a “debtor” — what Luther liked to call (again in consonance with the Chalcedonian Definition), the “communicatio idiomatum”) (except that the transfer of attributes aen’t really verbal predicates but real “inherent” properties).

  370. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Jason, I’m ready to dive into Galatians. I’d like to begin with some observations before hitting ch. 5 – 6, and after we get to some kind of understanding (plus or minus actual agreement!), I’ll tackle “faith working through love.” Does that work?

    Problem

    I understand the Galatian problem to be identical to the Judaizing problem of Acts 15.1, 4. Specifically, the Galatians appear to be listening to the teaching that “You must be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses to be saved.

    In Acts 15, the joint Paul-Petrine-council solution was to affirm that, no, God cleanses hearts through faith (Acts 15.9). Reaching back to Peter’s experience in Acts 10, we see that Cornelius heard, believed, received the Spirit, and was subsequently baptized.

    Judaizing understanding of justification

    I understand the Judaizers to be teaching what is fashionably called “covenantal nomism”: We come into the covenant by circumcision; we stay in the covenant by law-keeping.

    By circumcision, we become sons of Abraham, and sons of Abraham are also sons of God.

    “Under the Law” Paul uses the phrase “under the Law” frequently in Galatians. By it, he seems to mean that one who is under the Law is obligated to keep the entire Law (Gal 5.3) and liable to a curse for disobedience to its requirements (Gal 3.10).

    Being “under the Law” can happen by choice. The Galatians who listened to the Judaizers desired to place themselves under the Law (4.21, and 5.4 seems to refer also to this).

    But being “under the Law” was also a part of God’s redemptive plan. The Jews between Moses and Christ were “under the Law” as a tutor (4.1 – 5). And Christ Himself was born under the Law (4.4) so that He might take the curse of the Law on our behalf (3.13).

    So it is important to note that being “under the Law” for Paul does not refer to a particular attitude towards the Law (“I will be justified by my works”), but rather to a legal relationship to the Law: To be obligated to its terms and subject to a curse upon disobedience.

    To be sure, attempting to be justified by works brings one under the Law, but being under the Law could happen in other ways.

    Justification By Faith

    The Pauline understanding of justification is that those who believe are made sons of God by being clothed with Christ. Faith is the instrument through which this happens (2.16-17, 3.7-9, 3.14, 3.22-29, etc.).

    Further, those who made sons of God by faith are also made children of Abraham (3.29), which makes circumcision superfluous.

    I’m hoping that these observations could be agreed to by Catholics and Protestants alike. However, I can foresee a conflict.

    I don’t see any room here for “faith brings us to the church, and baptism is the instrument of justification.” I will indeed talk about 3.27 later, but for now, it seems very clear that faith justifies by itself — as indeed Cornelius experienced.

  371. dgh said,

    August 24, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Jason, you say you don’t have a mind like Bryan’s. Hold that thought.

  372. Zrim said,

    August 24, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Bryan, my point wasn’t about dichotomizing faith and logic. It was about accommodating logic to faith. It seems to me there’s quite a difference. And what I take away from your response is that you don’t really see any possibility that logic has its great, even fatal limitations in the bigger picture of God’s redemptive project through the cross, and so accommodating logic to faith is folly. That seems to be Paul’s point, and it seems you disagree with him.

  373. Bryan Cross said,

    August 24, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Zrim,

    and so accommodating logic to faith is folly. That seems to be Paul’s point,

    See that word ‘so.’ That’s a logical operator.

    If using logic means “accommodating logic to faith,” and is folly, then what you say is “folly,” because you are using logic. But if using logic does not necessarily mean “accommodating logic to faith,” and is not necessarily folly, then my use of logic does not necessarily reduce my position to “folly.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  374. August 24, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Bryan,

    Sure. But it is like in the science/religion (tirate?) that went on before this blog was all about Pope and stuff.

    This blog could use your logical mind, in other areas. Or are you just out here to sheep steal?

    Regards,
    Andrew

  375. Zrim said,

    August 24, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Bryan, see, I told you I wasn’t dichotomizing faith and logic. But you’re the exegetical prize-winner, and I have yet to see you deal with Paul. So far you’re only exegeting me. So what about Paul and all that cross-versus-worldly-wisdom stuff?

  376. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Jason, a question for you: Do you, or do you not, agree with Augustine’s Treatise on Rebuke and Grace?

    In particular, what I have in mind is this:

    Such as these were they who were signified to Timothy, where, when it had been said that Hymenæus and Philetus had subverted the faith of some, it is presently added, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord has known them that are His.” The faith of these, which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at
    all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance even to the end is allotted to them.

    But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously. — Augustine, Treatise on Rebuke and Grace, Ch. 16.

    Augustine seems here to posit an ontological difference between the elect who are given a grace that includes perseverance, and the non-elect who are not given that grace.

    He further states that all who in fact have the faith that works through love will persevere to the end.

    Do you agree with him?

  377. Bryan Cross said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Zrim,

    So what about Paul and all that cross-versus-worldly-wisdom stuff?

    The wisdom of this world, of which St. Paul speaks, is not logic, or math, or carpentry or dentistry or farming or any such thing. He is referring to the speculation of men regarding things beyond their understanding, a form of speculation manifested in various philosophers (e.g. Stoics). According to the results of such speculation, it is impossible for God to become man, or for God to suffer and die on a cross. And by such ‘wisdom’ (which is not wisdom at all) the message of the cross of Christ is foolishness.

    What would be utter folly (and one more indication of the need for the magisterium) is taking this passage as a green light to toss logic in the trash, and commit any sort of logical fallacy because of a mistaken notion that logic is “worldly wisdom” that one sets aside for the sake of attaining Christ and His cross. Hating logic is next to hating the Logos, because logic articulates rules by which one attains truth and avoids error. And one cannot hate the truth and love the Truth. Those who despise logic fall into error immediately, even in their attempt to interpret Scripture. Scripture is not an alternative to logic, because one cannot understand Scripture without making use of logic.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  378. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Bryan (#267): Thanks for pointing me to Augstine. It’s been some years since I have read “On Grace and Free Will.”

    You write, The Catholic paradigm distinguishes between guilt (culpa) and punishment (poena). (St. Augustine makes this distinction in De Libero Arbitrio.) The removal of culpa is not the same thing as the removal of poena, even though they take place at the very same instant.

    Now here’s the point that I’ve been pushing towards.

    You have alleged two different paradigms.

    The agape paradigm holds that we are made righteous, period, by the infusion of agape, without any reference to keeping a list of laws.

    The Catholic paradigm holds, by contrast, that we are made ontologically righteous by infusion, but we are still legally liable for our transgressions. In the eyes of God’s law, we are not righteous — and therefore able to behold the beatific vision — until poena is satisfied. Augustine calls our failures to keep the list our “evil merits.”

    And he furthermore explains our righteousness as agape that allows us to keep the Law, which was the same explanation I was giving above.

    The agape paradigm is not the same as the Catholic paradigm. It truncates the role of the Law and is therefore left with the problem I mentioned above: God must justify the righteous.

    This point goes hand-in-hand with the point I made on the other thread:

    The list-keeping paradigm is not the same as the Protestant paradigm.

    Rather, Protestants believe (as explained before) that being righteous is a matter of having love for God and neighbor, out of which flows obedience to the Law. This is identical to Augustine’s paradigm, at least as far as the definition of righteousness goes.

  379. Zrim said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Bryan, yes, hating and discarding a perfectly good tool would be utter folly. But I hope you don’t really think that such hatred is the point. The point is that faith is not the sum of its logical parts anymore than a person is the sum of his physical parts, and to think so is the kind of utter folly Paul seems to have in mind. I don’t know how you get the former kind of folly from the text. Further, the plain message of Paul seems to be to preach Christ and him crucified for the reconciliation of God to sinners (i.e. the cross), and to know nothing else. That is hardly a point that ever comes through in anything I’ve seen you write. One of JJS’s points has been to be able to repeat whatever is in Scripture, no matter how much it may irritate particularly held doctrines (e.g. for a Prot with his Creator/creature distinction to say with Peter that we participate in the divine nature).

    And so I wonder if you can say with Paul that philosophy, just like any worldly endeavor by its very provisional nature, is utter folly in comparison with the cross of Christ. If so, then maybe you can see how telling someone that logic will hem him in from all manner of falsehood seems silly compared to how Jesus’ cross saves us from the wrath of God.

  380. August 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

    BC:

    You are pursuing a PhD in philosophy. Kudos! I love philosophy. Some time, I need to share with you my thoughts on Tillich, Bultmann, Barth, etc etc. I think you probably have a very big brain.

    Yeah, sure, we need logic. But amazingly, my three year old, as illogical as can be, at times (maybe I see myself in my children at times?) still seems to grasp something when she utters a prayer and I explain to her things about baby Jesus.

    It’s an amazing thing to behold the God that is condescending to us.

    Sorry about the sheep stealing accusation, above. But the point is, I don’t get all you bloggers and commenters. Either you are using these forums to write a book (Stellman?) or you are working on your PhD (you?)

    So I get it – keep going. Just know, some of things that I read out here, put out, by many of you, have really caused me theological harm, in the past. It makes me really sad to see the church reduced to these forums.

    It’s not GB at fault, per se. But clearly the blog post (ironically) by Michael Kruger, about blogging, requires a good read by everyone (see his blog, “Canon Fodder”). The internet has a way of exacerbating our sin problems.

    I for one, know this personally.

    Now, resume your work, of calling the church universal under one banner, how ever you see fit. For us in the OPC, our committee is tirelessly working away.

    But for you bloggers, if that works for you, hey, whatever floats your boat.

    I wonder what the next topic at GB will be…

    peace,
    ab

  381. August 24, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Zrim,

    Your outhouse blog should be my next stop…I’ve been meaning to make my way to the latrine ;-)

    “just like any worldly endeavor by its very provisional nature, is utter folly in comparison with the cross of Christ.”

    That’s well put. In the science/religion debate, we were talking along the lines of “special revelation over general revelation.” I should share some e-mails with you, to catch you up to speed, on that, if you are interested.

    Well, then again, I’ve got things to attend to in my immediate circles.

    But it’s fun finding another blog, Zrim! Boy, you internet people, very active, and fast typers…

    Peace,
    AB

  382. Bryan Cross said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Jeff, (re: #378)

    The agape paradigm holds that we are made righteous, period, by the infusion of agape, without any reference to keeping a list of laws. The Catholic paradigm holds, by contrast, that we are made ontologically righteous by infusion, but we are still legally liable for our transgressions.

    Your mistake here is adding the word “period.” The description I provided of the agape paradigm focused only on intrinsic righteousness, not on merits or debts due to actions. But there is no “period” in the agape paradigm. The agape paradigm, as I described it, is part of the broader Catholic paradigm.

    The agape paradigm is not the same as the Catholic paradigm. It truncates the role of the Law and is therefore left with the problem I mentioned above: God must justify the righteous.

    Here you equivocate on the word ‘justify,’ by conflating the two distinct senses into one. To justify in the sense of making intrinsically righteous, by infusing agape, is not the same as ‘justify’ in the sense of canceling debt. When you distinguish the concepts, then there is no “problem.” There is only a ‘problem’ if you conflate the two concepts, and thus make it seem that the Catholic position entails that God must make righteous those who are in that same sense already righteous. And that would be a straw man of the Catholic position.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  383. Bryan Cross said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Zrim (re: #379)

    The point is that faith is not the sum of its logical parts anymore than a person is the sum of his physical parts, and to think so is the kind of utter folly Paul seems to have in mind. I don’t know how you get the former kind of folly from the text.

    I didn’t say anything about faith being or not being “the sum of its logical parts.”

    If so, then maybe you can see how telling someone that logic will hem him in from all manner of falsehood seems silly compared to how Jesus’ cross saves us from the wrath of God.

    I don’t see the two [logic and the cross] as mutually exclusive, because nature and grace are not at war. The same God who made nature is the same God who redeems us through the cross. The same God who made human reason, is the same God who revealed the faith. Grace does not make nature silly or foolish. Grace perfects and elevates nature. Hence to despise nature is to lose grace, because grace comes to us through nature, through God becoming man. Losing grace is the inevitable result of the Marcionite heresy. We come to Christ through His human nature. We come to faith through reason. We receive grace through material sacraments. And to reject logic is to lose sacred theology, and to lose the faith. One can’t have the Redeemer while rejecting the Creator.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  384. michael said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Bryan:

    “Grace perfects and elevates nature.”

    No Bryan, Grace kills our human nature so Christ’s Divine Nature can come alive within us and lead us into His Life both here on earth now before we pass and then after we pass, we pass into the next Life as Romans 5:16-18 teach us.

    It’s His equitable deed that saves. I, dead in trespasses and sins, am made alive with Christ by the work of the Our Heavenly Father, conjoined to Him now in this life and though I am guilty in this life I am declared the Righteousness of God, an imputation of His Righteousness since mine is dead righteousness, through His Grace and His Faith from Him. It is His Grace I receive. It is His Faith I receive. It is His Righteousness that makes it possible for me to have communion with Him hence I am receiving the gift of Righteousness which in daily life is the gift of Eternal Life lived.

  385. Bryan Cross said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Michael, (re: #384)

    No Bryan, Grace kills our human nature so Christ’s Divine Nature can come alive within us

    If grace destroys human nature, then there is no “us” remaining, because there is no human where there is no human nature. So in that case there is only Christ’s “Divine Nature.” That’s the Eutychian conception of the incarnation, and entails the ‘pantheistic’ notion of heaven.

    The problem, of course, is that by ‘human nature’ you mean ‘sinful nature.’ But by ‘human nature’ I mean the essence of human. If human nature (in the sense of the essence of human) were sinful, then Christ could not have become man, without also having a sinful nature, and needing a Savior. But grace does not kill our ‘human nature’ in the sense of removing or destroying our essential humanity. Grace perfects and elevates our human nature in that sense of the term.

    So many (but not all) objections could be removed from the table immediately, if we understood each other’s paradigms, and didn’t assume that all concepts and terms in other’s paradigms must mean exactly what they mean in our own.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  386. Andrew Preslar said,

    August 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Jeff (re #376),

    There is a difference between (1) “all who will persevere to the end have faith that works by love” and (2) “all who in fact have the faith that works through love will persevere to the end.” In this passage, St. Augustine affirms the former but not the latter.

    Those who finally fall away “are not to be reckoned in the number of these,” meaning the elect. In fact, what there persons are said to fall away from is “Christian faith and conduct.”

    I agree that an ontological difference between the elect and the non-elect who have received baptism is that the former are given the grace of final perseverance, while the latter are not.

    Andrew

  387. michael said,

    August 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Bryan

    thanks for the interaction between us.

    There are more scholarly minds in here that can do a better job of it than I.

    However, I do agree that we are operating on different foundations and from different paradigms.

    Yours is based in human nature and the traditions men have taught over the years about communion with God of a religious order.

    Mine is based on a solid eternal Everpresent Rock (the gift of Eternal Life). And, of course, there are traditions that follow out of communion with God and Christ and the Word of Their Grace that grow out of it based on local nuance throughout written history.

    I would say in my opinion you don’t understand the “nature” or rather the “divine nature” of Grace as it is made alive within your natural man or your own personal human nature given to you from your parents.

    Over at Triablogue I responded to John Bugay’s new post put up this morning and focused my comments somewhat based on you with my remarks over there. My point there I will make here and hopefully the Spirit will give you ears to “hear” it?

    The Holy Spirit is sent to open the ears and eyes of the deaf and blind.

    When our ears are spiritually opened by the Holy Spirit and not some fallen spirit of wickedness we hear differently the Divine things of God than with natural hearing. When our eyes are opened we see or understand differently the Divine things of God God gives His children to see and understand.

    In John 16 Jesus, by the Spirit, speaks about sending the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin.

    What it seems to me you are resisting and because of why I do not as yet know or understand, but others in here of the Reformed Faith probably do, is being convicted of being totally naturally humanly depraved and so tainted with Adam’s sinful nature not one good thing of you is acceptable to God, not one good thing?!! The distinction you are making is your works add to God’s imputation of Righteousness which allows you to justify within yourself and argue for an infusion of God’s love and grace and peace all the while my position and I believe all True Believers position is one of starting with being dead in a sinful nature without committing one sin, yet still dead dead, dead, first born dead and then by living my natural life proving the nature of Adam’s transgression by accepting my own sinful natural desires as normal yet sinful so I am a total natural life of sinning proving there is no good thing in me even my blameless moral character is considered sinful to God “naturally”.

    The exercise here is an exercise from one of two lifestyles, yours as a Romanist calling people to communion with the RCC’s faith and practices and mine as a Christian in the truest sense of being made alive spiritually because Christ is now dwelling in me because God has conjoined me to Christ in spite of being dead in my own trespasses and sins..

    You don’t want to be convicted of your sin nature because you see some good meritorious nature in yourself that you believe and are convinced of is acceptable to God and useful to God as He does His work of evangelism calling out of darkness those sitting in it.

    I suggest you set aside your great learning and just go off and spend time in the Word of God from Genesis to the Revelation to John, with nothing else to read, no history books, or teachings, just you and God and His Word of Grace. Take that in all by itself into your spirit and ponder it and have communion with God basis it.

    I leave you with a passage from Acts as the import for why I suggest this:

    Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

  388. Jason Loh said,

    August 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    “I understand the Judaizers to be teaching what is fashionably called “covenantal nomism”: We come into the covenant by circumcision; we stay in the covenant by law-keeping.

    By circumcision, we become sons of Abraham, and sons of Abraham are also sons of God.”

    Jeff (re #370), you have highlighted a very important point here. I believe it fits in well with the Pauline “proposition” that is under consideration here: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Gal 5:6).

    1. Circumcision counts for nothing in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the concept of initial and final justification in the OT falls apart.

    2. Circumcision expresses obedience to the Law (or as Paul expressed it in verse 1 – “bondage” to the Law). If circumcision counts for nothing in Jesus Christ, then obedience to the Law counts for nothing in Jesus Christ. This is so “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” To reiterate, circumcision “represented” the circumcised’s bondage to the Law.

    3. Circumcision is (sharply) contrasted with faith (which is expressed as the Pauline formula of “faith working through/ by love”). The contrast takes place in Jesus Christ for whom circumcision counts for nothing but FWTL. Hence, obedience to the Law and Jesus Christ do not “mix.” Only faith and Jesus Christ go together. Since faith and Jesus Christ have the Gospel in common, the broader Pauline proposition of Gal 5:6 is consonant with a hermeneutic employing the Law-Gospel distinction.

    4. But is FWTL really compatible with the Roman Catholic paradigm of infused theological virtues? In other words, is the contrast between circumcision versus “faith alone” OR circumcision versus “faith formed by love”? A natural reading would make it clear that Paul did not say faith working *with* love or faith *and* love working together but faith working *through/ by* love.

    5. The difference in the preposition makes all the difference (of whether the Pauline formula is more compatible with the Roman Catholic or Protestant paradigm). Faith working through/ by love does not necessarily imply that faith and love are two “discrete” (or distinctive) virtues that need each other to complement each other. Through/ by implies “causation” — whereas and/ with implies “coordination” or “conjunction.” The two represents different paradigms. Faith causes love and not the other way round.

    6. FWTL means that it is faith that *does* the “working” not love. Faith would be “synonymous” with the doer (the person that does the work). Love would then be synonymous with doing, i.e. the act/ action (work) itself. Faith is the noun, love is the verb. Faith is the tree, love is the fruit.

    7. The Pauline formula FWTL comports with the patristic ordo theologiae of person-energies- essence as applied in the context of the law-Gospel distinction. “Faith” as person is the New Adam which in turn implies the simul (simultaneously saint and sinner) – distinction but never separation on this side of the eschaton; the Old Adam is implied in “working” (as in human energies) because a) person is bound to sinful nature (nature controls person so that “it” becomes the person – communicatio idiomatum) and b) faith as the New Adam (“transcendental I”) is beyond experience – from the “yet to come” but really and truly hidden “in, with, under” the “here and now” of the Old Adam (“empirical I”). And finally “love” refers to the human energies performed in, with and under the Old Adam but flowing from the New Adam, that having its source in faith. And since “all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” the Pauline “restatement” of the use of the Law means that good works are for the sake for the neighbour (coram mundo), not God for Whom faith alone justifies.

  389. Jason Loh said,

    August 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    “The problem, of course, is that by ‘human nature’ you mean ‘sinful nature.’ But by ‘human nature’ I mean the essence of human. If human nature (in the sense of the essence of human) were sinful, then Christ could not have become man, without also having a sinful nature, and needing a Savior.”

    Dear Bryan (re#385),

    Yes, as confessional Protestants, we confess that the “human essence is sinful” not as a “philosophical deduction” but confession of *faith.* It cannot be neither proved empirically nor by human logic but total depravity/ bondage of the will is simply the theological corollary or concomittant of justification by faith. Just as we are righteous by faith, we are one and the same time sinful by faith — with specific reference to the universal curse of Original Sin in which Actual Sins are but simply the “context-specific” and individual variation thereof.

    Thus, in confessing that human nature is sinful, Protestants are simply confessing the theological truth of Original Sin. However, nature is never considered abstractly apart from the person so that being, existence, that which is “concrete” and “real” is synonymous with the person,not nature. The nature can only be known in the acts or operations or energies. In other words, Original Sin whilst communicated via human nature has its “seat’ in the person. It is the person who is sinful and commits sins, not nature. Thus, Our Lord and Saviour was truly without Original Sin because Original Sin did not pass to Him as the only-virginally conceived One. If I’m not wrong, the patristic consensus (at least in western catholicism) is that Original Sin is transmitted by way of physical propagation which requires two parents.

  390. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Andrew (#386): Hi. What Augustine’s words say is your option (2).

    The faith of these, which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance even to the end is allotted to them.

    IF faith-working-by-love, THEN
    Does not fail OR is restored.

  391. Bryan Cross said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Jason, (re: #389)

    as confessional Protestants, we confess that the “human essence is sinful”

    If the human essence is sinful, and Jesus did not have sin (actual or original), then Jesus was not human, and neither were Adam and Eve before the Fall (they changed species at the moment they sinned — for a few minutes, from the time Eve sinned until the time Adam sinned, Eve was a human married to a member of another species), and neither are all the saints in heaven, because they have no sin.

    But, then unless Jesus became human, by taking on human nature, humans cannot be redeemed, for, as St. Gregory of Nazianzus said of the incarnation, “What is not assumed, is not redeemed.” So there will be no saints in heaven, and we’re all still dead in sins. Eat, drink, and be merry and all that.

    This notion that Christ did not take on human nature, is contrary to Chalcedon, according to which Christ assumed “human nature,” not the nature of some other species.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  392. Bryan Cross said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Jeff, (#390)

    Andrew is correct. That the faith of the elect works by love and either does not fail or is restored, does not entail that the faith in those who do not persevere does not also work by love.

    Hence when you say in #376 “He further states that all who in fact have the faith that works through love will persevere to the end” you misrepresent St. Augustine’s position, because he does not say that.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  393. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Andrew, on further reflection, I see what you’re saying: The “these” grammatically refers to the elect.

    And you are saying, further, that the difference between them is the grace of perseverance.

    OK.

    But go back a couple of chapters. He says,

    And, consequently, both those who have not heard the gospel, and those who, having heard it and been changed by it for the better, have not received perseverance, and those who, having heard the gospel, have refused to come to Christ, that is, to believe on Him, since He Himself says, “No man cometh unto me, except it were given him of my Father,”

    Those who have not received perseverance have refused to come to Christ, refused to believe on him.

    At this moment, I understand Augustine to be saying that those w/o perseverance do not have initial faith to begin with.

    Do you have a different take?

  394. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Andrew, more evidence of what I’m saying: For the former, while
    they live piously, are called children of God; but because they will live wickedly, and die in that impiety, the foreknowledge of God does not call them God’s children. For they are children of God whom as yet we have not, and God has already, of whom the Evangelist John says, “that Jesus should die for that nation, and not for that nation only, but that also
    He should gather together in one the children of God which were scattered abroad;” and this certainly they were to become by believing, through the preaching of the gospel. And yet before this had happened they had already been enrolled as sons of God with unchangeable
    stedfastness in the memorial of their Father. And, again, there are some who are called by us children of God on account of grace received even in temporal things, yet are not so called by God; of whom the same John says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us, because if they had been of us they would, no doubt, have continued with
    us.” He does not say, “They went out from us, but because they did not abide with us they are no longer now of us;” but he says, “They went out from us, but they were not of
    us,”—
    (Rebuke, ch. 20)

    This sounds pretty darn Calvinistic: There are some who are children of God in the eyes of men, but not in the eyes of God; and it is all according to election.

  395. August 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Jeff,

    I don’t see any room here for “faith brings us to the church, and baptism is the instrument of justification.” I will indeed talk about 3.27 later, but for now, it seems very clear that faith justifies by itself — as indeed Cornelius experienced.

    Well as you guessed, I am not completely satisfied with this, especially given all the NT has to say about the effectiveness of baptism. For example, the same Paul who teaches justification by faith not only says in 3:27 that “as many of you as were baptized have put on Christ,” but was himself told by Ananias, “Rise, brother Saul, be baptized and wash away your sins.”

    And since you brought up Cornelius, and since we’re warning each other about the stuff we’ll be talking about later, I will probably try to make some kind of case for Cornelius being precisely the kind of Gentile that Paul had in mind in Rom. 2: his conversion demonstrated the “no partiality” theory cited in Acts 10 and Rom. 2; his obedience to the law (as he had it) rendered his uncircumcision as circumcision; he was a Jew not outwardly by the letter, but inwardly by the Spirit and circumcision of the heart.

    But that said, please proceed….

  396. johnbugay said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Jason Loh 389 and Bryan 391:

    “human essence is sinful”

    Michael Horton, in his “Covenant and Salvation”, works at length to make the [thoroughly Protestant] case for an ontology of salvation in which man is not changed, from Adam and Eve before the fall, who were created “very good” and “in the image of God” — “there is no donum superadditum to lose; and thus “infusion” is not required, and “glorification” is not “deification” — that is, man is “restored” legally. There is no ontological change posited or required (because such a thing is foreign to Scripture, save for the possibility that 2 Peter 1:4 and “partaking” of the divine nature, which has a number of different meanings). The fall is a legal one; justification is forensic, and glorification is man restored to fellowship with God.

    The Roman scheme of salvation, however, posits an unbiblical “donum superadditum“, which is lost in the fall; the “infusion” of grace, then, is something like an “ontological substance” that then manifests itself through “increasing justification” and finally, an eschatological man with some sort of “donum superadditum” above and beyond his “glorified” nature.

    This positing of the “donum superadditum” is, in my opinion, an elephant in this room, and, given that it is hinted at but not discussed, it is one major problem in this whole discussion.

  397. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Jason Loh. In general, good work.

    In regard to Bryan’s #391, I would agree with him (!). Being sinful is not of the essence of being human, but is a defection in humanity.

  398. August 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Jeff,

    No, option (2), which is a quote of your previous construction of what St. Augustine says, is not what he actually says. The antecedent of St. Augustine’s conditional argument is not “all those who have been given the gift of faith working through love” but “all those who are known by the Lord as his” [i.e. the elect]. Thus, the argument is, “If one is elect, then he will persevere in faith to the end.” The argument is not, “If one has faith, then he will persevere in faith to the end.” In fact, as I said in my previous response to you, the second paragraph of the material quoted in #376 indicates that there are indeed persons who finally fall away from “Christian faith and conduct.” So not only do you misconstrue St. Augustine’s argument in the first paragraph, you misconstrue it in such a way as to deny what he says in the second paragraph.

    Andrew

  399. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Bryan, Jason, and Andrew, with regard to Rebuke, I will retract my point for now. Chap. 18 seems to indicate that some — the non-elect — receive faith, hope, love; while Chap. 20 seems to indicate that God never receives as His children the non-elect.

    So there’s something more complicated going on than I was allowing for. However, there’s also something more complicated going on than a simple gift of perseverance. Other things seem to accompany this gift, such as the right to be a child of God in God’s eyes.

    So I retract for now and will polish up the thoughts. Thanks for your helpful criticism.

  400. August 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Jeff,

    I just saw your two further responses (#393-94).

    The quote in #393 appears to be the conclusion of an argument (“consequently”), but I don’t see the argument. As the quoted passage stands, St. Augustine seems to be referring to two distinct groups of non-elect people, those who believe and those who do not believe.

    The quote in #394 again appears to be distinguishing the elect from the non-elect. The distinction is not, so far as I can tell, between those who have faith and the non-elect.

    Andrew

  401. August 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Jeff (re #399),

    I keep lagging behind. St. Augustine is indeed a deep study, and I am no master. I have read very little of his writings, and am simply trying to discern what is actually entailed by the portions that you have quoted. For whatever reason, I have been much more inclined to read and ponder the Cappadocian fathers than any of the Latin fathers from the Golden Age of patristic literature.

    Andrew

  402. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Jason S. -395,

    wrote: Well as you guessed, I am not completely satisfied with this, especially given all the NT has to say about the effectiveness of baptism. For example, the same Paul who teaches justification by faith not only says in 3:27 that “as many of you as were baptized have put on Christ,” but was himself told by Ananias, “Rise, brother Saul, be baptized and wash away your sins.”

    Well, that baptism wasn’t done in a vacuum. Christ had bestowed forgiveness on Paul. He believed and was baptized. What makes the baptism efficacious for the cleansing of sin? The outward act or the instrument of faith in Christ crucified gifted by God to the believer, due to His sovereign grace?

    Sing and seal… I know you know the deal (just wanted to a little Jesse Jackson rhyme-thing), but it explains the working of election, faith, and baptism unto the washing away of sin.

  403. August 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Yes, Jack, but it was Jeff, not me, that seemed to be placing a divider between faith and baptism.

    PS – Jibbity jibbity, rat-a-tat-tat!

  404. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    typos:

    *sign* and seal

    Oh, for an edit function, or a refresher course in typing…

  405. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Jason,

    Then you agree with what I wrote?

  406. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Jeff wrote; I don’t see any room here for “faith brings us to the church, and baptism is the instrument of justification.” I will indeed talk about 3.27 later, but for now, it seems very clear that faith justifies by itself — as indeed Cornelius experienced.

    I think above what I wrote is consistent with Jeff’s comments.

  407. Zrim said,

    August 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Bryan, when you say “we come to faith through reason” it sounds an awful lot like saying Aristotle, as opposed to John the Baptizer, was the forerunner to Christ. But faith come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, a text I still find curiously absent in all of your reasoning. And so, to the extent that you represent it, this only continues to affirm just how unduly dependent Catholicism seems to be on philosophy as opposed to the Bible.

  408. Zrim said,

    August 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    John B., bingo. It is not the essence of human nature that is sinful but rather its condition. Where are these Prots getting the idea that creation is essentially sinful? I’ll see your Horton and raise some RSC (apologies for the length):

    “Among the mainstream Protestants (Reformed and Lutheran) there was a general consensus against the medieval doctrine of the donum superadditum (superadded gift) i.e., that man was created with a certain deficiency in grace which was remedied before the fall with a “superadded gift” of grace. According to most medieval theologians, this “superadded gift” was lost in the fall. In such a scheme, the fall becomes not a primarily a violation of God’s law but a fall from grace. They held this doctrine because they assumed the existence of a sort of chain of being between God and humanity with God at the top and us at the bottom. They conceived of the fundamental human problem not as a legal problem but as a lack of being or even a lack of divinity. Thomas Aquinas spoke of salvation as “divinization” and the Roman Church today (Catechism, 1994) teaches that God and humans both participate in “being.” The “chain of being” lives on in Roman theology. In the medieval (and Roman) view, human beings, by virtue of being human and finite, are in need of this grace. Hence Aquinas taught the “grace perfects nature.”

    Scripture, however, knows nothing of such a “chain of being” or of the sort of “grace” before the fall. The medieval view makes sin an ontological or metaphysical (i.e., our ‘being’ or creation) problem rather than a moral-legal problem. [See s.v. donum super additum, Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985).] In contrast, the Belgic affirmed the paradox of man’s high state at creation, his free will and his mutability (posse peccare, posse non peccare), which made the fall a possibility.

    That’s how I have always understood the differences, which seem to owe to the medieval doctrine of the donum superadditum (superadded gift) i.e., that man was created with a certain deficiency in grace which was remedied before the fall with a “superadded gift” of grace. My understanding is that according to most medieval theologians, this “superadded gift” was lost in the fall, such that the fall becomes not a primarily a violtion of God’s law but a fall from grace; and they held this doctrine because they assumed the existence of a sort of chain of being between God and humanity with God at the top and us at the bottom. They conceived of the fundamental human problem not as a legal problem but as a lack of being or even a lack of divinity. Thomas Aquinas spoke of salvation as “divinization” and the RCC today teaches that God and humans both participate in “being.” Hence Aquinas taught the “grace perfects nature.” The telos of man seems to be the beatific vision moreso than being reconciled to God.

    But the Protestant view (Reformed and Lutheran) says that Scripture knows nothing of such a “chain of being” or of the sort of “grace” before the fall. The medieval view makes sin an ontological or metaphysical (i.e., our ‘being’ or creation) problem rather than a moral-legal problem. The confessional Protestant view is that grace renews nature, that the latter was created good (and was, therefore, not defective) and has been corrupted or is put to corrupt use by virtue of sin. All human faculties (e.g., the intellect, the will, and the affections) are radically corrupted by sin. Because of the fall, by inclination, we think wrongly, we choose wrongly, and we love wrongly. It is only by grace that we ever come to think, will, or love rightly.”

  409. Bryan Cross said,

    August 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Zrim, (re: #407)

    … it sounds an awful lot like

    Your mode of reasoning is to look at appearances, and then report your opinion about how things appear to you, without determining first whether these appearances are true. And that habit is unhelpful. (see #366)

    If you’re still in the “sounds like” or “looks like” or “seems like,” or “it’s almost as if you are saying” epistemic position regarding your interlocutor’s position, then you should ask for confirmation before criticizing.

    But faith come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,

    True, but one must first determine that something is divine revelation; otherwise, one falls into fideism by believing arbitrarily. So reason must be used in order to determine that an alleged divine revelation is truly such. Hence the motives of credibility, which I explain in “Wilson vs. Hitchens: A Catholic Perspective,” and the comments under that thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  410. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Bryan,

    I know Zrim will aptly respond, but…

    you wrote:
    But faith come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,

    True, but one must first determine that something is divine revelation; otherwise, one falls into fideism by believing arbitrarily. So reason must be used in order to determine that an alleged divine revelation is truly such. Hence the motives of credibility, which I explain in “Wilson vs. Hitchens: A Catholic Perspective,” and the comments under that thread.

    I think this is where a significant difference appears. A Reformed Christian believes that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, not through or by the determination of on’e rational judgment (thought the rational faculty is employed). Rather that the Word of God rightly proclaimed is, in an of itself, the power that creates faith in the one that hears. And when that one believes, it makes sense, but only after faith has been born within. He may not be able to explain everything as to the hows and whys, but he no knows, by faith, that the Word of salvation is not only true but efficacious to him personally. God, in a sense, trumps my personal/rational powers of determination or judgment and sovereignly saves me through His initiative of the Gospel.

  411. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    edit correction:

    He may not be able to explain everything as to the hows and whys, but he now knows

  412. August 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Might the peace mentioned in Philippians 4:7, be part of what you mean, jsm?

  413. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Andrew B.,

    Yes, and more. That peace is a peace now established between sinful man and his holy God through the mediation of Another. It is mind-boggling that One should gratuitously pay the penalty for my sin and guilt and give me eternal life. As the BJ Thomas song says – it’s more than a feeling. And I don’t just figure it out and then believe. God sovereignly “shuts my mouth” and graciously births His salvation in me through hearing the Gospel proclaimed. It isn’t a rational process per se, but an extra-rational intervention of God’s Word.

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom. 1:16

  414. August 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Yeah, I was looking at Gurnall, Calvin, etc, at this website just now:

    http://www.preceptaustin.org/philippians_47.htm

    Peace.

  415. August 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    as for shutting our mouths, job 40:4-5 seems an appropriate reference.

    I would advise, though, starting at job 38. remember, readers, you must consider context.

    hand over mouth (er…fingers tied up),
    andrew

  416. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Amen… also in Romans 3 –

    19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God:

    20 because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.

    21 But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

    22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe;

    The Word preached brings both the judgment of the law and good news of salvation for those that hear and believe. A Divine sovereign action of salvation through the Word made flesh.

  417. Paul Weinhold said,

    August 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Sean Patrick, (re: #327)

    In my marriage I’ll admit that the church’s teaching on life is not easy. It is a cross to bear in many ways. But this is what we’re called to do. Being open to life comes with the vocation to which we’ve been called. Furthermore, bringing four young children to mass is very difficult. We’re usually huddled in the ‘cry’ room and often times I am the one who feels like crying! I can admit that Sunday mornings may just be the hardest time of the week for us at present.

    Having said all of that we certainly don’t feel that we’re on some kind of ‘treadmill’ when we go to worship Jesus Christ and receive Him sacramentally. What a privilege. What a joy. My wife was raised in the Catholic Church but even in the years when we were Presbyterian she always held to a Catholic view of suffering and offering up our trials and pains to God.

    As a Catholic preparing to enter the sacrament of marriage, I wanted to thank you for writing this note. It’s inspiring for me to hear of these small acts of heroism through humble obedience. I respect your courage and your faithfulness to your family. May the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord continue to sustain you all.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul

  418. sean said,

    August 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Bryan says;Your mode of reasoning is to look at appearances, and then report your opinion about how things appear to you, without determining first whether these appearances are true. And that habit is unhelpful. (see #366)

    Sean says;

    Actually Bryan your boy Adler takes about this ‘atmospheric’ understanding of an issue, and recommends it before drilling down to the particular and details. I worry more about those who only engage in pedantic development who don’t trade on the intuitive(what benefit is experience). You’re merely exhibiting your ‘flatness’ of personality and acumen in your bias.

  419. sean said,

    August 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    that would be ‘talks’ not takes

  420. August 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Sean (re #418),

    Your claim about Bryan’s “personality and acumen,” besides being offensive, is inaccurate. I have actually spent time with Bryan, in person and in private forums, and can testify from experience that Bryan’s personality is not “flat,” nor is his acumen. It takes a great deal of discipline to hone in on the structure of an argument, in order to determine whether or not one’s interlocutor has successfully demonstrated his point. This is particularly difficult when one’s interlocutors freely indulge in personal insults, over and above sloppy thinking.

    What you take as pedantry is actually a most beneficial service, all the more so when it is a service that so few have the training and the discipline to consistently render. There is more than enough “atmosphere” to go around in this and similar forums. Precise evaluation of the merits of arguments, based upon reason rather than prejudice and emotion–not so much. You guys’ response to Bryan’s arguments, both as to their form and content, says a lot about the intellectual state of affairs among Reformed bloggers. And what it says is not flattering.

    Andrew

  421. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Andrew P.,

    Come on, Thou dost protest too much…

    First of all, Sean’s comment was not a slur, but an observation of how Bryan’s style of debate comes across. It’s termed “affect.”
    If you want to win converts, you can’t talk down to them.

    And, even if we grant that Sean stepped over the line (which I don’t grant), you, in response, take his comment and paint all the Reformed bloggers?

    Chill, my friend.

  422. August 24, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Trim, my mods, if you must. But Trueman’s essay in the book, ‘minority report’ has validated my M.O. since day one here. Everyone, go find that book by Carl Trueman and read that 5 page essay.

    Winkie winkie,
    Andrew

  423. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Jason (re: 367),

    Been all day driving in the wilderness of South Texas but am home now. So…..

    Concerning my response to you on Gal 5/6 you say: That’s not an argument or a positive attempt at exegeting the text,….

    For a start I have said considerably more than what you quote. You apparently think I have not answered you. So I’m trying to think how else to explain myself. In #248 (which is a more complete statement of your position than the other two posts you cite from this thread) you say:

    Paul, in Gal. 5, is explicitly talking about justification, since he asks, “Tell me, you who want to be justified by the law, do you not hear the law?” He then says, “Circumcision avails nothing.” For what? For justification, obviously. But what does avail for justification? “Circumcision avails nothing, but faith working through love.” OK, so FWTL avails for justification.

    You elaborate a little more in the next paragraphs but this seems to be the end of your argument. And I have been trying to draw your argument out, since what you state so far is something we can likely agree on. As I stated in #360 we are justified by a faith that is not dead, but one that is formed by love. But what I think you also believe is that this love (which is a the fulfillment of the law) is that which God uses (along with faith of course) to justify us in His sight. You have alluded to such a conclusion but when you state your argument in places like #248 you don’t say it, at least not explicitly so. In short, you are not carrying your argument out far enough for me to agree or disagree with it yet. So I’m not presenting a counter argument in a way that you hope for because I don’t see your argument clearly laid out, even when you say you are trying to do this, as in #248.

    You do hint at what I am trying to get you to say explicitly in #17 (“cool little arrows” diagram). Maybe you could flesh this out in more explicit statements.

    Concerning my answer to you on Matt: 12:37:
    I am just curious if you affirm a final justification, and if so, whether it is on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ or not. And if yes, do you understand Jesus to be using “justified” in some other sense than a soteriological one, and if so, why?

    Yes, there is something which we can call final justification – this is what is in mind when we speak of our works justifying our faith. But there is nothing in this passage about the “imputed righteousness of Christ.” I don’t see any evidence from this verse or it’s context to suggest that “justify” is being used to describe the means by which God declares us righteous. The words of the Pharisees condemned them, and the message for us is that our words can either justify or condemn us. That is, they can show us to be either “good trees” or “bad trees.” I don’t think we should try to use “justify” here to mean anything more than what Jesus describes in the previous verses – to demonstrate what is good/bad fruit and good/bad trees.

    Concerning Phil. 3:1-11:
    Jeff and I have discussed this very passage at length here.

    I’ve looked briefly and I cannot find your discussion with Jeff on this passage. Again, I really don’t like to play this searching and guessing game with you. Can you just reference the post and tell me what you think was significant in Jeff and your discussion?

    It doesn’t remain outside me or simply cover me the way snow covered Luther’s dunghill, but I am not sure Paul in that passage gets into too much detail about this here. He does directly connect our union with Christ and our possession of this righteousness (“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…”), which fits perfectly with what I am arguing for all along.

    Yes of course it does not remain outside of ourselves. But again you are not pushing your argument to the point that we disagree – Do our works which flow from this righteousness become partly the means by which God justifies us?

    And to your last question, yes, the verse here argues that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. It’s not our righteousness by which we are found in Christ, but an alien righteousness, that of Christ, which is the basis for Paul’s confidence that he is in Christ. And then twice Paul says that righteousness, which is not his but Christ’s, is apprehended by faith.

  424. August 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Yes,I am arrogant. The essay is, ‘theater of the absurd’

  425. August 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    jsm52 (re #421),

    This is what Sean wrote: “You’re merely exhibiting your ‘flatness’ of personality and acumen in your bias.”

    This is a claim about Bryan. Note the second person personal pronoun.

    Bryan does not “talk down” to you guys. Careful attention to detail for the purpose of evaluating arguments is not talking down.

    Finally, I made a claim about the intellectual state of affairs among Reformed bloggers, but should have been more specific: among Reformed bloggers that write and comment on this site. There are exceptions.

    Andrew

  426. sean said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Andrew says;. “It takes a great deal of discipline to hone in on the structure of an argument, in order to determine whether or not one’s interlocutor has successfully demonstrated his point.”

    Sean says:

    That’s why we have computers, math and scientific calculators. It’s inherently disingenuous to a conversation or dialogue amongst human beings to deny the intuitive and insist on the solely analytical. Otherwise the incarnation becomes superfluous. I never argued that the atmospheric was all that was entailed but it’s a wholly worthwhile starting point and valid tact amongst humans.

  427. August 24, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Lane,

    give your mods a break. shut down your blog for a week.

    think of the children!

    this is out of control,
    andrew

  428. sean said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Andrew,

    Bryan disparaged Zrim’s intuitive observation or maybe even generous/ecumenical dialogue. Bryan is biased toward his own predilection in his criticism of Zrim. I’m calling him on it. No more no less.

  429. August 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    428,

    if that’s to me, that’s cool.

    dude, everyone who ever posted on gb must read that essay. NOW!!

  430. sean said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Andrew B.,

    I was addressing Andrew P. Sorry for the confusion

  431. August 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    This blog needs a vacay! I declare out of order. Presbyterians, how dare we allow such disregard for proper procedure. The motion is before you: shut the blog down for a week. Second?

  432. August 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    If this is seriously how you all roll, enjoy your Friday evening. As for me, orthodox Presbyterian, signing off.

    Ninja smoke,
    Andrew

  433. August 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Sean (re #426),

    Computers and calculators cannot evaluate arguments. Only rational beings can do that. Therefore, it is not disingenuous, much less inherently so, to approach arguments analytically, i.e., as to whether or not the conclusion follows from the premises. Furthermore, Bryan has not “denied the intuitive.” He has simply taken a different approach to dialogue than those whose comments consist mainly of airing their intuitions. Again, this is a valuable service, especially when intuitions diverge.

    When it comes to tact among humans, you do not stand on very high ground. So you might want to watch out for that bit of admonition to come rolling back towards you.

    (re #428),

    Bryan “disparaged Zrim’s intuitive obervation”? Maybe even his “generous/ecumenical dialogue”? How so (and where)–surely not by pointing out that an individual’s intuitive observations are not conclusive, regarding the truth of the matter being discussed? To distinguish is not to disparage. Also, did Bryan make any offensive claims about Zrim’s personality and acumen? I doubt it. Watch out for that bit about tact.

    Andrew

  434. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Jason (#395):

    Children of the promise

    And you, brethren, like Isaac, are children of the promise

    The justification of the Galatians is not an ongoing action, but is a completed action. This is proved by several lines of evidence.

    First (and least), Paul appears to be careful with his verbal aspects. In each instance where δικαιοω is used in Galatians, Paul follows this rule:

    Justified by the Law: δικαιοω is present or future (2.16 x2, 3.11, 5.4).

    Justified by faith: δικαιοω is aorist (2.16, 2.17, 3.24) or future (3.8).

    This suggests that Paul sees being justified by faith as a completed action, in contrast to the futile ongoing process of being justified by the law.

    Nevertheless, having read our Silva, we place only a small weight on this point.

    Second, the purpose of justification, for Paul, is to make us into God’s children. That end has been accomplished, according to Gal 3.7, 3.26, 3.29, 4.6 – 7, and 4.28). The Galatians are not becoming children of the promise, but in fact already are.

    Third, the effect of justification is to set the Galatians free from the curse of and enslavement to the Law. This is the entire argument of chapter 4, culminating in 5.1; it is also taught in 2.19.

    Fourth, and finally, the consequence of justification is the crucifixion of the sin nature (2.20 – 21, 5,24, 6.14) and the corresponding giving of the Spirit (3.2, 4.6 – 7, 5.16 – 25).

    The facts of having been made God’s children, having been set free from the curse of the Law, and having been given the Spirit make it clear that the justification of the Galatians by faith is a completed action.

    Further, the fact of the crucifixion of the sin nature makes it clear that justification is irreversible. For if justification could be lost, the sin nature would have to be brought to life once again.

    Fallen from Grace

    A potential objection to the exegesis so far is that Paul states that “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” (5.4) and again

    “Now the works of the flesh are evident … I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (5.19 – 21).

    There are two possible directions to take these statements.

    (1) The Galatians have been justified, and some have lost their justification; others are in danger, if they carry out the works of the flesh, will fail to inherit the kingdom of God.

    (2) Some of the Galatians, though outwardly professing faith, have been seeking to be justified by the law and have now fallen from their profession. Their receptivity to the Judaizers is evidentiary of their lack of faith, and hence lack of justification.

    Still others are in need of warning that their deeds of the flesh are evidence that their flesh is not yet crucified.

    Admittedly, (1) seems at first to be the easiest route, for it does not require a distinction between outward profession and genuine possession of justification.

    However, it creates insuperable difficulties as one pursues that line of thought. How does one go from being a child of God to unbecoming a child of God? Is there Scriptural language to support the idea of loss of inheritance? How can the flesh nature be un-crucified?

    And if these things are possible, then would not Hebrews 6 teach that falling from grace is an irreversible process, so that the warnings here would be moot?

    For these reasons, (2) is worth considering.

    Unlike circumcision, faith is an invisible quality that can only be measured, imperfectly, on the outside. It makes sense, therefore, that Paul would be uncertain as to the true state of their hearts. It is for this reason that he is “perplexed” about them (4.11, 20).

    Outwardly, the church members in Galatia had professed faith. If that profession was genuine, then they received the Spirit, were crucified with Christ, and were made children of God.

    And, they would also trust in Christ and not in circumcision.

    The receiving of the circumcision is not a mere badge, but it reflects a heart belief that justification comes by an entirely different mechanism — the law — than the Gospel proclaims. The “faith” that leads to circumcision is entirely different from the Christian faith.

    For this reason, it is best to see those “fallen away from grace” as having fallen from the grace they professed and not the grace they possessed.

    Likewise, the warning of 5.21 is not a warning to tame the sin nature. For Paul reiterates that those who belong to Christ have crucified the sin nature. Rather, it is a warning about root and fruit: the fruit indicates which root is truly in operation in their lives.

    This reading fits well with the similarly-structured warning in 1 Cor 6.9 – 11. Paul warns that those who carry out various wicked deeds will not inherit; but he then rushes to say that the Corinthians had been like this, but have now been washed.

  435. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Andrew P.,

    Wrote: This is what Sean wrote: “You’re merely exhibiting your ‘flatness’ of personality and acumen in your bias.”

    Right. That is how some experience Bryan and how he comes across at times. Sean is not making a statement of fact, but giving his reaction.

    And yet you write: Finally, I made a claim about the intellectual state of affairs among Reformed bloggers, but should have been more specific: among Reformed bloggers that write and comment on this site. There are exceptions.

    Whereas your put-down to the bloggers on this thread is specific and intended. Where’s the love, Andrew?

    This is all to say, few of us here are without sin (none I would say) as we interact. So the less we get in a snit, the better.

  436. sean said,

    August 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Andrew P. says:

    “Bryan has not “denied the intuitive.” He has simply taken a different approach to dialogue than those whose comments consist mainly of airing their intuitions. Again, this is a valuable service, especially when intuitions diverge.

    Sean says:

    He has declared the intuitive ‘unhelpful’. That’s a declarative based on a bias and nothing else. It’s his opinion, and he’s welcome to it. I interpret it as ‘woodenness’ that is both dismissive and less than holistic and disadvantageous to dialogue. It lacks tact, charity and maturity. Your doubting ‘that’ is noted.

  437. August 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Where’s the love, Andrew?

    Dudes, its Friday night. You really wanna go hang at C2C? Here, try CoC instead, and enjoy a beer:

    http://creedorchaos.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/democracy-of-blogic-and-the-right-to-be-speak-the-absurd/

  438. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Faith Working Through Love

    Now we come to it. What does Paul mean when he says,

    εν γαρ χριστω [ιησου] ουτε περιτομη τι ισχυει ουτε ακροβυστια αλλα πιστις δι αγαπης ενεργουμενη

    ‘For in Christ, neither circumcision avails, nor uncircumcision, but faith working through love.’

    (1) Avails for what?
    (2) At what point in time?

    First, we consider the structure of Galatians. Gal. 1 – 4 is a strong argument against the Judaizers and for justification by faith; this corresponds to the first half of Paul’s thesis, “I have been crucified with Christ” (2.20a). Then, 5.16 to the end contain a description of life lived by the Spirit, corresponding to the second half, “the life I live I live by the Spirit…” (2.20b).

    The section in question, 5.1 – 5.15, serves as a transitional hinge between the two main halves of this book.

    So we are struck with a puzzle: Does faith, working through love, avail for our justification? Or, does it avail for the life lived by the Spirit?

    The answer immediately suggests itself. Consistent with Paul’s argument in ch. 3, and then further down in 5, we can confidently say that

    faith avails for justification

    and justifying faith works through love

    so that it avails for living the life through the Spirit.

    There is no question of ongoing justification, received by ongoing faith-working-through-love. This concept is foreign to the book; where does Paul speak of continuing justification (except in reference to justification-through-law)? And after ch. 4, when speaking of life in the Spirit, where does Paul speak of being justified?

    Rather, justification is once-and-done, with definitive consequences. One of these is the giving of the Spirit, so that the justified believer will exercise his faith in love.

  439. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Jeff,

    faith avails for justification

    and justifying faith works through love

    so that it avails for living the life through the Spirit.

    Good analysis, summed up in your words above.

    J

  440. August 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Andrew P, what’s your record for most comments, at C2C? I think Lane’s got you beat bro! If you don’t like us, why do you hang with us?

    Oh yeah, sheep stealing.
    Andrew

  441. Bryan Cross said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    sean (re: #418)

    Actually Bryan your boy Adler takes about this ‘atmospheric’ understanding of an issue, and recommends it before drilling down to the particular and details.

    Adler is not my “boy.” But what he is referring to is a general survey. That’s altogether different from basing one’s criticisms of one’s interlocutor on mere prima facie appearances or “sounds like” or “seems like” impressions. The appearance/reality distinction is not the general/particular distinction.

    In my experience, a dialogue aimed at resolving a disagreement is not aided toward that end when the participants do not exercise the discipline to withhold criticism of prima facie appearances or impressions of their interlocutor’s position, without first confirming that these appearances or impressions are accurate characterizations of their interlocutor’s position. Charity calls us to avoid setting up straw men of our interlocutor’s position, and so it calls to refrain from a shoot first ask questions later approach to our neighbor’s position. That’s a virtue necessary for fruitful rational dialogue.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  442. August 24, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Bryan, come on, we shared emails a while back. What is up with all the comments? Dude, I want to hear more of what you are learning in your PhD. Are you a professional blogger? Look, these ‘disagreements’ that you and your boys are trying to solve over here. What are you guys up to? Help the new guy out,

    Andrew

  443. August 24, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    jsm52,

    So is your position that if one does not intend to make a statement of fact, but only register a reaction, he is permitted to make offensive claims about another person?

    Person 1: “X is an ignorant jerk.”

    Person 2: “Hey, its offensive to call someone an ‘ignorant jerk.'”

    Person 3: “No, Person 1 is not making a statement of fact about X, he is only reacting to his experience of X by claiming that X is an ignorant jerk. So its okay.”

    Really?

    You wrote:

    Whereas your put-down to the bloggers on this thread is specific and intended. Where’s the love, Andrew?

    This is all to say, few of us here are without sin (none I would say) as we interact. So the less we get in a snit, the better.

    As a matter of fact, I did not specify which bloggers on this thread have been displaying a lack of intellectual discipline integrity in their comments. Anyone who cares to find out can read back through the thread. And its easy not to get in a snit, if the rules are that any personal insult is okay, so long as it is merely a reaction, and not a statement of fact. If you don’t like my claim about the sub-par intellectual state of affairs among Reformed bloggers on this website, then consider the claim to be simply my reaction to how I experience you guys. See? Not in a snit.

    Andrew

  444. August 24, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    I love all the opc references in the bios as c2c. You guys know we are a threat

  445. August 24, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    *at. I got comment 444! I’m an accountant, so sue me. -ab

  446. August 24, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Andrew, its a love hate relationship, you love us. Admit it.

  447. sean said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Bryan,

    It’s not ‘altogether different’, it’s an initial point of engagement and analysis and may indicate more a generosity and way of expression than mere generality of understanding. Thank you for acknowledging that it’s merely your experience. That was my point. What’s truly fruitful for rational dialogue, is a lack of ‘woodenness’ and stiffness in language and dialogue and more a willingness to acquiesce to known points of discontinuity without ‘hanging’ your opponent on semantics.

  448. jsm52 said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Andrew P.,

    Me: This is all to say, few of us here are without sin (none I would say) as we interact. So the less we get in a snit, the better.

    There are errors of omission and comission going on here. Are we to keep score? Forgive me for judging your intentions.

  449. August 24, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Just to be clear: by my claim about the “intellectual state of affairs” here, I am voicing my “atmospheric” understanding of matters, before drilling down to details; no pedantry, no analysis, just an intuition–or maybe a reaction.

  450. Zrim said,

    August 24, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    “But faith come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

    True, but one must first determine that something is divine revelation; otherwise, one falls into fideism by believing arbitrarily. So reason must be used in order to determine that an alleged divine revelation is truly such.

    Bryan, I know you’ll forgive me for my limited faculties, and I know I need to ask your confirmation before having the audacity to use those limited skills and press forward, but maybe you’ll indulge me even a bit further when I say that this sure sounds like (I know, sorry) if one has faith that the Bible really is divine revelation without having previously employed pristine reason to confirm it he is guilty of fideism. I always thought fideism was having faith in faith itself instead of faith in Christ. I’ve never understood it to mean simply believing that the Bible is the Word of God.

    So it seems to me (sorry) that this is something of a stall tactic. I quote the Bible and you stop tape to make sure I’ve done my due diligence on the validity of the Bible. Still, if we can both agree the Bible is indeed divine revelation, you tell me that faith comes by reason and the Bible tells me it comes by hearing the Word of God. You still seem (sorry) to be at odds with the Bible.

  451. August 24, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    You C2C folk really owe a ‘thank you’ to the good folks of GB. You put them down, say we are un-intellectual, and yet, they tirelessly answer you,question after question. Dudes, go post on your blog. I will read your posts, ans maybe, just MAYBE, will leave a comment. Peace.

  452. August 25, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Andrew,

    As I stated in #360 we are justified by a faith that is not dead, but one that is formed by love. But what I think you also believe is that this love (which is a the fulfillment of the law) is that which God uses (along with faith of course) to justify us in His sight. You have alluded to such a conclusion but when you state your argument in places like #248 you don’t say it, at least not explicitly so. In short, you are not carrying your argument out far enough for me to agree or disagree with it yet. So I’m not presenting a counter argument in a way that you hope for because I don’t see your argument clearly laid out, even when you say you are trying to do this, as in #248.
    You do hint at what I am trying to get you to say explicitly in #17 (“cool little arrows” diagram). Maybe you could flesh this out in more explicit statements.

    Fair enough, I’ll try again. If, after this comment, you still don’t think I have made my argument clear, then let’s just drop it.

    I think that “faith working through love” (FWTL) is synonymous in Paul’s thought with “sowing to the Spirit” (in Gal. 5 and 6, respectively). The reason I think this is that Paul’s thought progresses from the love through which faith works to the fact that this love is what fulfills the law in such a way as to bypass the need for circumcision for justification (which is what the Judaizers insisted upon). So the love that is given in the NC fulfills the law, and results in justification.

    From here, Paul goes on to say that this love comes from the Spirit and is his fruit, which is another way of saying that the Spirit pours out the love of God in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). So the love through which faith works (1) fulfills the law for justification, and (2) comes from the Spirit.

    Next, Paul goes on to describe FWTL, and he calls it “walking in the Spirit” in ch. 5, and “sowing to the Spirit” in ch. 6.

    Finally, Paul presents a conditional in ch. 6 when he says, “If you sow to the flesh you will reap corruption, but if you sow to the Spirit you will reap eternal life.” Given the progression of Paul’s thought in this pericope, Paul could very well have simply said, “If you exhibit faith, and the love which animates it, you will be justified. If you don’t, you won’t.” In fact, he said as much in I Corinthians when he said that if he had all faith such that he could move mountains, but had not love, it would profit him nothing.

    On Matt. 12:37 you wrote:

    Yes, there is something which we can call final justification – this is what is in mind when we speak of our works justifying our faith.

    I am not aware of a passage in the Bible where the object of “justify” is “our works” (I could be wrong, this isn’t a trick). In all the soteriological usages of dikaioo I can think of, the object is a person, not an action he has done. This is certainly the case in Matt. 12: “by your words you will be justified.” It is we who will be justified, not our words (our words are what will justify us on the last day). So you are just begging the question by insisting that it is our faith that will be justified on the last day, and not us by our words.

    But there is nothing in this passage about the “imputed righteousness of Christ.”

    Huh. Imagine that….

    [Therefore] I don’t see any evidence from this verse or it’s context to suggest that “justify” is being used to describe the means by which God declares us righteous.

    Here’s what you appear to be saying: “Jesus says that on the last day there will be a final justification. But since there is no mention of [the uniquely Protestant teaching about] the imputation of alien righteousness here, therefore this final justification cannot be a declaration of our righteousness on the day of judgment.”

    This is utterly circular.

    My interpretation of this verse is so much simpler and consistent with what is actually said: Some people are “made good” (using Jesus’ tree illustration); those good people who exhibit (by their words) good fruit in their lives will be justified on the last day. I have no need, as you do, to deny that Jesus is talking about a final declaration of righteousness based on something other than faith alone.

    Concerning Phil. 3:1-11 you wrote:

    I’ve looked briefly and I cannot find your discussion with Jeff on this passage. Again, I really don’t like to play this searching and guessing game with you. Can you just reference the post and tell me what you think was significant in Jeff and your discussion?

    Again, no I can’t. It would take me all night to sift through all of my comments to provide you with their #s. If I allude to something I said, either search for it yourself or just trust me when I say it’s been discussed. But if you’re following the discussion, then you’ll probably just remember what has been said. On the other hand if you’re skipping a lot of stuff, that’s on you.

    I wrote, “[The righteousness which comes through faith] doesn’t remain outside me or simply cover me the way snow covered Luther’s dunghill…. Paul directly connects our union with Christ and our possession of this righteousness (“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…”), which fits perfectly with what I am arguing for all along.” And you responded:

    Yes of course it does not remain outside of ourselves. But again you are not pushing your argument to the point that we disagree – Do our works which flow from this righteousness become partly the means by which God justifies us?

    Perhaps, but I never made that case I don’t think. You’re the one who brought up this verse and asked my take on it. It’s not up to me to find something for you to disagree with me about here.

    And to your last question, yes, the verse here argues that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. It’s not our righteousness by which we are found in Christ, but an alien righteousness, that of Christ, which is the basis for Paul’s confidence that he is in Christ. And then twice Paul says that righteousness, which is not his but Christ’s, is apprehended by faith.

    Here’s your argument: (1) The righteousness we need is not our own; (2) The righteousness we need is an alien righteousness, that of Christ; (3) We receive this righteousness by faith; (4) Therefore, this righteousness is imputed (as understood in the Reformed sense, I assume).

    I pretty much agree with your premises, but not your conclusion (because it doesn’t necessarily follow). In fact, all your premises are stated explicitly in the passage, but your conclusion is found nowhere.

    I understand Paul to be saying that the law of Moses cannot provide him with the righteousness he needs, and neither can he scrounge it up from his own works. Therefore he looks to Christ who, because of the new covenant, indwells him by his Spirit. Thus he can say, “I count all things rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own based on the law.” He then goes on to talk about participating in Jesus’ suffering and resurrection and the need for the Philippians to imitate his example as he presses toward the goal so that, if possible, they may all attain to the resurrection of the dead.

    Dang, that sounds Catholic….

  453. Jason Loh said,

    August 25, 2012 at 2:21 am

    “There is no question of ongoing justification, received by ongoing faith-working-through-love. This concept is foreign to the book; where does Paul speak of continuing justification (except in reference to justification-through-law)? And after ch. 4, when speaking of life in the Spirit, where does Paul speak of being justified?”

    Re Jeff #438 – If I may add, FWTL in Gal 5:6 does not necessarily imply progression. If it does, then perhaps the contrast between circumcision and faith would probably not be sustained. Contrast – at least in this critical verse – implies some analogy or parallelism between circumcision and faith, i.e. some common denominator. If there is no parallelism, Paul’s argument about the unconditional rejection of circumcision would not make much sense. IOW, Paul is both comparing apples with oranges and apples with apples/ oranges with oranges. I think that common denominator would be their “once-for-all” character. Circumcision and faith supposedly “impacts” on the “entire person” (status) in the “here and now” and beyond. As Jeff points out, the difference being that one is “outward ritual,” the other is “inward confessional.” One binds the person to the Law; the other sets free from the Law. Both bondage and freedom are “total states” — to be declared totally bound or totally free are total judgments on the total person. Therefore, it’d be hardpressed to glean for any kind of progressive state from Paul’s statement here at least.

    As it is, it is difficult and not altogether natural to assume with certainty that Paul had meant some progression (in the spiritual life) in the Pauline formula of FWTL. The parallelism or analogy would be lost — which would not even be conducive to the Roman Catholic paradigm in the first place(!) How is the circumcised (which is the theological equivalent to circumcision in Gal 5:6 since circumcision in the the context does not exist apart from the person) to progress in anything is bondage to the Law is in view — that is to say much more clearly, coram Deo, in the sight of Jesus Christ the God-Man?

    The contrast, therefore, is not between carnal progression and spiritual progression per se but bondage (enslavement) and freedom (liberty). The use of the Law is turned upside down in the Pauline exposition in Gal 5 — instead of being the means of justification, it becomes the means of service for the sake of the neighbour. Gal 5:6 thus is an intriguing proposition of the “doctrine” of justification by faith alone where the Law is simultaneously “negated” coram Deo (“circumcision avails for nothing”) and “affirmed” (“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”).

  454. Jason Loh said,

    August 25, 2012 at 5:42 am

    “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Phil 4:11)

    Yes, this verse is a problematic verse (which means that this must surely be a verse that Roman Catholics can claim greater legitimacy in interpretation) not least because in light of what Paul has just said in the preceding verses which creates the impression of ambiguity and or self-contradiction. The immediate preceding verses are “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

    1. “Not having my own righteousness” is Paul’s distinction between possession and dominion, between having and owning. Otherwise as Paul goes on to say, that righteousness would be according to the Law (“of the law”) since we are all born under the Law and bound to the Law.

    2. However, Paul not only says that our righteousness is not only Christ’s but is “based” on His (i.e. Christ’s) “faith.” And Paul also seems to equate the “what” of the righteousness of Christ with “how” it is received. Interesting for it seems to imply that faith as personal rather than natural (read: legal) not only “transcends” (or goes beyond) the Law from the perspective of the Christian but also Christ’s. In short, Christ’s righteousness is not legal (human) but personal (divine righteousness clothed in human nature) which in EO theology would be the divine energies which are as every bit deity as the Person and “Essence.” This being the case, to be “permeated” by the divine energies or righteousness of Christ, the Old Adam dies/ is destroyed only to be re-created anew as the New Adam.

    3. Which is why it’s no surprise Paul does talk about death and resurrection by the end of verse 10. “That I may know him” comes after the talk about faith (Christ’s faith is righteousness and vice and versa and is mine by/ through faith — this is Pauline union and communion) — Credo ut intelligam, I believe that I may understand (“know”/ “experience”).

    4. Coming to verse 11 itself … the problematic verse: “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” where it seems like Paul now introduces a distinction in justification – initial (that if were so has been talked about earlier) and (here the) final. Nonetheless, we are all agreed – irrespective of the interpretation of verse 11 in particular and the rest of chapter 4 in general – that there is no self-contradiction here. Hence, it’s quite possible at least for the Protestant to assert a contrast all the more since verse 11 is continuation of the latter part of verse 10, namely, “being made conformable unto his death.” To be conformed to the death of Our Saviour is to *participate* in His death and by extension/ inclusion, resurrection (which for Lutherans and Roman Catholics this take place in Baptism). IOW, participation in the death and resurrection) of Jesus is the “ground” on which we co-suffer with Our Lord. That is the order/ sequence in which we first receive Jesus as Sacramentum and then only imitate Him as Our Exemplum. Our participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is thus eschatological, not ontological — reality but “already and not yet” wherein the New Adam remains hidden in the Old Adam on this side of the eschaton and only “perceived” by faith alone.

    5. Thus, when Paul talks about *not* attaining the resurrection from the dead, it is highly plausible that he was referring to the Old Adam (i.e. in the flesh/ the empirical I) rather than the New Adam (transcendental I) who by faith is already resurrected. By extension, hence we find Paul’s speaking of having attained but not yet, not perfect but perfect, etc ….

    6. In either case, Old or New, Paul doesn’t seem to hint any spiritual progression other than the pressing “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The “prize” is glory (verse 21); the “high calling” is suffering (verse 10). IOW, having received the righteousness of Christ (Sacramentum), we now suffer after the manner of His example (Exemplum). Why suffer here (i.e. in this text?) I suppose it could be said that this is how we (i.e. who are still in our flesh – the Old Adam) can be made conformable to Christ. It is in our suffering that we daily die to be raised up anew in faith after the righteousness of Christ. Death & resurrection — total states, total “movement.”

  455. paigebritton said,

    August 25, 2012 at 8:04 am

    JJS #452 –
    Andrew M. can speak for himself here, but I do notice that in the Gospels dikaioo is used in a less technical and ultimate sense than in Acts and the Epistles. So that it is probably an anachronism to read soteriological ultimacy back into Matt. 12:37 — yes, even though the context is final judgment. Andrew’s reading (of one’s words simply proving what type of “tree” one is) is more in keeping with the simpler use of the verb in places like Luke 10:29 (“but he, desiring to justify himself”) and 16:15 (“You are those who justify yourselves before men”) and even 18:14 (“this man went down to his house justified”), though we’d maybe have to wrangle about that one a bit. You’ve also got the expression in Mt. 11:19 & Luke 7:35 that “wisdom is proved right by her children,” same verb. Doesn’t look like this verb in the Gospels can bear the weight of any kind of soteriology.
    FWIW.
    pb

  456. Jason Loh said,

    August 25, 2012 at 10:19 am

    If I may add, it’s curious that Paul (with no explicit hint of asceticism) refers to the body (here and now — Old Adam) as “vile” in verse 21 (of Phil 3): “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” it’s as if Paul has succumbed to “Gnosticism” where the body is disparaged as “pure evil” — implying a kind of a dualism which the Church has had to wrestle with and challenge. Consonant with the apostolic and catholic Faith in Scripture and Tradition, a (Gnostic) dualism within the human is exluded here in verse 21.

    I, therefore, believe it’s unhelpful for a Protestant (not specifically referring to any theologian – clerical, professional, lay – or theological movement) to infer or “insinuate” from Phil 3 that Paul is teaching that suffering the way or means whereby we attain (final) glory. Or to put it in another way, “the Christian’s perseverance in the way of righteousness and suffering is necessary (not meritoriously but instrumentally and finally) to his/ her attaining the state of glory.”

    Paul’s statement in verse 21 quite probably militate against such a notion … in fact, consistent with this is his earlier desire (aspiration?) to attain the bodily resurrection now (if only — “***If by any means*** I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead”), the suffering in a “vile” body in and of itself is not really esteemed or valued by Paul. Verse 8: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

    The compatible paradigm is one where glory (of the New Adam) is already a present reality but well and truly *hidden* in the flesh (of the Old Adam) … so that suffering becomes the sovereign means of God as One Who is both Hidden and Revealed to hide His glory “in” the saints —thus making way or room for *faith* whereby we know Our Saviour and the power of His resurrection having been conformed unto His death.

    For our conversation *is* in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Or to quote St Paul the Apostle from Romans 8;18:
    “For I reckon that the *sufferings* of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed *in* us.”

  457. paigebritton said,

    August 25, 2012 at 10:31 am

    @JJS once more:
    And to anticipate an objection, the parallel idea in Matt. 12:37, that one’s words might “condemn” one, is not an ultimate word either. It’s katadikazo, which is used only five times in the NT, each time referring to the mental act of judging someone guilty, sometimes wrongly, and maybe the earthly judicial act of sentencing to death (but not the ultimate judicial act of sentencing them to eternal punishment — that gets a different verb or two):

    “Do not condemn and you will not be condemned” (Lk. 6:37, twice);
    “If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy…,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” (Mt. 12:7);
    “You have condemned and murdered innocent men…” (James 5:6).

    pb

  458. Brad B said,

    August 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    “Finally, Paul presents a conditional in ch. 6 when he says, “If you sow to the flesh you will reap corruption, but if you sow to the Spirit you will reap eternal life.” Given the progression of Paul’s thought in this pericope, Paul could very well have simply said, “If you exhibit faith, and the love which animates it, you will be justified. If you don’t, you won’t.” In fact, he said as much in I Corinthians when he said that if he had all faith such that he could move mountains, but had not love, it would profit him nothing.”

    Paul also says in 2 Cor. 13:5

    “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”

    I dont think the conditional in ch.6 of Galations carries with it the assumption that his words are only heard by the elect [no more than the intended audience of 2 Cor]. The justified will persevere because they have Jesus Christ in them, this is why they pass the text of sow/reap inspection-not perfectly, but probably increasingly.

    2Pe 1:5 “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
    2Pe 1:6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
    2Pe 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
    2Pe 1:8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  459. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Jason and Andrew: The comments about Philippians are almost certainly in one of three threads: Response, List Paradigm, or Arguments Concerning the Papacy.

    From there, I would hit CTRL-F to “find”, and search for Philip.

    But y’all probably knew that.

  460. August 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Jeff,

    If I wait to have a full-on response to you before I post, it will take too long. So I will respond in installments and post them as I go. (You can probably tell that I hate sitting at my computer all day, so I may not respond right away to further questions about these responses until all of what you said has been responded to.)

    The justification of the Galatians is not an ongoing action, but is a completed action.

    You offer several lines of evidence for this claim, which I’ll try to respond to briefly:

    First, you point to the verbal tense Paul uses. I don’t find this compelling at all; Paul speaks elsewhere of future justification on the day of judgment (Rom. 2), as well as speaking of that concept while omitting the word “justification” (“waiting for the hope of righteousness” from Gal. 5 comes to mind). So there’s too much of a tie in your argument between the word and the concept. More on this eventually.

    Second, you point to the Galatians having become children of God as a result of their justification. But this argument only works if one of your premises is that the child-of-God status cannot be lost. You do address this later, so I will come back to it.

    Third, you argue that justification is once for all because it results in freedom from enslavement to the law. But if it were possible to be entangled again in that yoke of bondage after having begun in the Spirit, then there’s no reason why the freedom gained from justification (and maybe even justification itself) can’t be forfeited (which seems to be Paul’s whole point: “Stand fast in your liberty, and don’t submit again to a yoke of bondage”).

    Lastly, you argue that if justification is intended to crucify our sin nature, then that fact necessitates its being once for all. But unless your sanctity-level is way higher than mine, I think you’d agree that the putting-to-death of the flesh is a lifelong process. So if there’s both a once-for-all accomplishment and ongoing application of the crucifixion of our flesh, and if justification is instrumental in the crucifixion of our flesh, then there’s no reason why justification needs to be once for all. It can be both initial as well as ongoing.

    More tonight.

  461. August 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Lane,

    I’ve been poking around on C2C…

    We really need to start defending chapter 1 of WCF, I think, many of these former reformers forgot to read that. I’ll read your stuff here on the doctrine of Scripture. I think 2000 or more comments on all this Stellman stuff (in just the last couple weeks? Who knows how long this will continue) is enough. Of course, run your own blog, I’m just trying to help.

    My two sense (id be so luck if i have two…)only,
    Andrew

  462. Reed Here said,

    August 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Jason: I’ll let Jeff take this up if he wishes, but consider what you’ve said to him here:

    Lastly, you argue that if justification is intended to crucify our sin nature, then that fact necessitates its being once for all. But unless your sanctity-level is way higher than mine, I think you’d agree that the putting-to-death of the flesh is a lifelong process. So if there’s both a once-for-all accomplishment and ongoing application of the crucifixion of our flesh, and if justification is instrumental in the crucifixion of our flesh, then there’s no reason why justification needs to be once for all. It can be both initial as well as ongoing.

    I can’t help but observe that you were responding to Jeff’s comment about justification crucifying sin nature. Yet you responded with a sanctification perspective. You are swapping here, consistent with the RCC position to be sure, but swapping nonetheless.

    I admit I’ve not looked at the original context of your quote and discussion with Jeff. Yet I think this observation is nevertheless reasonable. The only way this is a problem for Jeff is if one mixes justification with sanctification. That is, it is only if the RCC confusion of justification with sanctification follows, that your experience based observation is effective in detracting from Jeff’s point. If the RCC position does not follow then there is something of substance to what Jeff is observing.

  463. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 25, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Jason,

    Thanks for the reply. I would say this:

    (1) Yes, the language argument is intended only to be suggestive and not compelling. The meat is in the second through fourth points.

    Still, it is striking, is it not, that Paul only uses the present aspect when speaking of seeking to be justified by the Law, while using aorist when speaking of being justified by faith.

    The question that it raises in my mind is, Coincidence or purposeful?

    That’s all. It’s not a proof, but the opening of a line of inquiry.

    (2) You write,

    you point to the Galatians having become children of God as a result of their justification. But this argument only works if one of your premises is that the child-of-God status cannot be lost.

    Not exactly. One could be Arminian, for example.

    We want to split out two issues. The first is, Are we already justified and therefore already made children of God?

    The Galatian answer is clearly Yes. For this reason, I would argue that “ongoing justification” cannot serve the function of making us children of God; it cannot be the justification that Paul is speaking of in Galatians.

    IOW, even if we were to accept a Catholic scheme of “initial” and “subsequent” justifications, it still would be necessary to say that Paul is speaking of “initial” justification here in Galatians.

    The second issue is, Can justification be lost? I argue from the “crucified” language that this is not so, but there is little evidence in Galatians for this.

    So no, I’m not arguing from the premise you are thinking of.

    (3) Your reply to the third point has the same need to split out the two issues above. Yes, it might be hypothetically possible to be re-entangled.

    But the point here is that since freedom has been accomplished, therefore the Galatians are not in the process of being justified. Rather, they have been justified.

    (4) JJS: So if there’s both a once-for-all accomplishment and ongoing application of the crucifixion of our flesh, and if justification is instrumental in the crucifixion of our flesh, then there’s no reason why justification needs to be once for all. It can be both initial as well as ongoing.

    I agree that there is both once-for-all and also an ongoing application. And hypothetically, this fact could open the door for both initial and ongoing justifications, if such could be demonstrated.

    But not here in Galatians. What Paul is talking about is initial only, as evidenced by his focus on “flesh has been crucified.”

    There is no language anywhere in Galatians that attaches the term “justification” to ongoing work of the Spirit or works of righteousness. For Paul, in Galatians, justification is an event already accomplished. That’s my point, independent of the question of whether this justification can be lost.

  464. August 25, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Jeff,

    In the section you title “Fallen from Grace” you write:

    How does one go from being a child of God to unbecoming a child of God? Is there Scriptural language to support the idea of loss of inheritance? How can the flesh nature be un-crucified?

    It seems to me that Paul’s and Hebrews’ (not to mention Jesus’) many allusions to OT Israel are intended to show how they, by their rebellion, disobedience, and faithlessness, lost their inheritance, and they both draw a direct connection to us with a warning attached lest the same happen to us. So the answer to your question is yes, there is biblical precedent for this all over the place.

    Unlike circumcision, faith is an invisible quality that can only be measured, imperfectly, on the outside. It makes sense, therefore, that Paul would be uncertain as to the true state of their hearts. It is for this reason that he is “perplexed” about them (4.11, 20).

    OK, no argument here. The same would be true if justification were received initially in baptism but losable due to mortal sin.

    Outwardly, the church members in Galatia had professed faith. If that profession was genuine, then they received the Spirit, were crucified with Christ, and were made children of God.

    Paul says these things about them anyway, without the qualification that your paradigm makes necessary. He tells them that they “began in the Spirit, but were seeking to be perfected in the flesh.” So all the things you’re saying could be said truly about a baptized person (in the Catholic paradigm), and moreover, in the Catholic paradigm those things can be said without the added “if your profession is genuine,” which Paul also omits.

    The receiving of the circumcision is not a mere badge, but it reflects a heart belief that justification comes by an entirely different mechanism — the law — than the Gospel proclaims. The “faith” that leads to circumcision is entirely different from the Christian faith.

    For this reason, it is best to see those “fallen away from grace” as having fallen from the grace they professed and not the grace they possessed.

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t see how you got from where you began to where you ended. And I don’t see why anything you’ve said necessitates that the Galatians, if they indeed fell from grace, never had grace in the first place. Your entire approach demands that what Paul threatens cannot in fact happen, and that the worst that could happen is that they made a false profession (rather than actually having lost anything real).

    More later….

  465. Bryan Cross said,

    August 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Jeff (re: #463),

    But the point here is that since freedom has been accomplished, therefore the Galatians are not in the process of being justified. Rather, they have been justified.

    As I have explained in “Justification: The Catholic Church and the Judaizers in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians,” in the Catholic paradigm the ‘process’ of justification-as-translation (i.e. translation from being dead in sins to being in a state of grace) is not the same thing as “growth in justification.” The ‘process’ of justification-as-translation is instantaneous (which is why it shouldn’t be called a process). So the fact of already accomplished justification-as-translation does indeed rule out the possibility of still being in the ‘process’ of justification-as-translation. But in the Catholic paradigm, the fact of already accomplished justification-as-translation does not entail that there is no ongoing process of growth in justification.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  466. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 25, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    So what about baptism and justification? How are we to understand Galatians 3.27?

    For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

    Are we to understand this in the classic Catholic manner, that By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin….Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,” member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. — CCC 1213 – 1284.

    and again, Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that “we too might walk in newness of life.” “When we made our first profession of faith while receiving the holy Baptism that cleansed us, the forgiveness we received then was so full and complete that there remained in us absolutely nothing left to efface, neither original sin nor offenses committed by our own will, nor was there left any penalty to suffer in order to expiate them. . . . — CCC 977.

    OR, should we understand this in the classic Reformed way

    Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world…

    Although it be a great sin to condemn or neglect his ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated. WCoF 28.1, 5.

    Or perhaps something else?

    Two considerations make the Catholic understanding impossible.

    First, Paul’s use of language here in Galatians unambiguously attributes faith as the cause of justification.

    Suppose I were to ask seniors to read Galatians, and then I asked them “According to Paul in Galatians, how are we justified?” If a senior responded, “by baptism”, I would conclude that he had read something other than Galatians.

    The language in 3.27 (all of those baptized into Christ have put on Christ) is not causal language. By itself, it could be consistent with baptismal regeneration; but taken next to the multiple statements of justification by faith, which is explicitly causal, and it is clear that 3.27 cannot be taken as any kind of evidence for the RC understanding.

    Catholics now respond, “But baptism is the sacrament of faith. We need to understand that justification by faith and justification by baptism refer to one and the same event.”

    This is linguistically unlikely. It asks us to read Paul in this way:

    “Gal 3.7: Know then that it is those of faith** who are the sons of Abraham.

    **Baptism, which is the sacrament of faith.”

    This stretches credulity.

    But the second consideration is absolutely fatal. How were the Old Testament saints justified? Paul makes it clear that they were justified by faith.

    And it is clear that they were not recipients of baptism.

    How then were they justified?

    We have two options. If we believe, as I do, that The sacraments of the old testament in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the new. (WCoF 27.5), then circumcision served the same sacramental function as baptism.

    But we know that Abraham was justified by faith prior to circumcision, and that he serves as the pattern for our own justification (Rom 4.1 – 15).

    So if circumcision served the same sacramental function as baptism, then our justification is by faith, apart from baptism — just as Abraham’s was by faith, apart from circumcision.

    If on the other hand circumcision did not serve the same sacramental function as baptism, then the argument is simpler: the OT saints were justified by faith, and they were never baptized. Baptism is therefore not necessary for justification.

    Either way, we come to the same conclusion. The OT saints were justified by faith and were not justified by baptism nor any equivalent to baptism.

    How then can we say that baptism is now necessary for salvation?

    So why does Paul bring up baptism in 3.27 if he is not speaking causally?

    We recall that Paul’s argument in Galatians is that receiving circumcision is not necessary for justification (and is in fact harmful, for it opposes faith in Christ). How does the argument proceed?

    He argues in chap. 3 that

    * We are justified by faith as Abraham was (3.1 – 9).
    * We are made children of God by faith (3.26).
    * All who are baptized into Christ have put on Christ (3.27)
    * All who are children of God are children of Abraham (3.29).

    This argument answers the Judaizers in this way:

    * Justification is by faith, not by works of the law
    * We are made children of God by faith, not by circumcision
    * Baptism, not circumcision, is the sign of our inclusion.
    * And belonging to Christ rolls up being part of Abraham’s people into it.

    Thus, any desired benefit of circumcision is already theirs in Christ. The language of 3.27 is placing sign against sign, baptism against circumcision — not cause against cause.

  467. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 25, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Bryan (#465): I understand your paradigm. My point is that in Galatians, Paul is speaking of Justification-as-Translation.

    This means that “faith working through love” is not evidence for ongoing growth in justification.

  468. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 25, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Jason,

    Sitting down with paint-stained fingers after a long sweaty day in hot and humid Houston (why do I live in Houston? – oh yea, I have an O&G job and we have oil here).

    OK, so I asked you to flesh out what I thought was incomplete in your position. You did this but I was expecting a more fully formed theology of faith and works from a Catholic perspective. But as mentioned before, I don’t really know that you are 100% in the RCC camp. Perhaps you are 9/10 across the Tiber and looking back now and wondering if this was a good idea after all. Maybe that’s why you are saying things that seem to be somewhere between Roman Catholic and Reformed theology. Don’t know. Anyway, what I thought I might hear in your fleshed out explanation is something that sounds more distinctly Tridentine – the kind of verbiage about people creating shipwreck of their souls after having received initial justification and being able to renew their justified state by means of the various sacraments and the treasury of merits and so on. You know what I mean – something clear about works (sacramental or works of charity) that (along with faith) justify us.

    But you say this at the end of your explanation of your now non-Reformed theology:

    Given the progression of Paul’s thought in this pericope, Paul could very well have simply said, “If you exhibit faith, and the love which animates it, you will be justified. If you don’t, you won’t.” In fact, he said as much in I Corinthians when he said that if he had all faith such that he could move mountains, but had not love, it would profit him nothing.

    I know this may annoy you somewhat, but I can’t say that I disagree with this. Surely the Reformers would have agreed that if we exhibit true faith (that is, one animated by love) we will be justified. But that does not really delineate the role that love, more specifically the works which flow out of this love, play in obtaining our justification.
    So maybe I should ask you if you are 100% there with respect to a distinctly Tridentine theology of justification. I don’t think I want to try to debate with someone who is most of the way along the road to Roman Catholicism any more than I imagine you want to debate with a three-point Calvinist who is wrestling with the other points but is not sure he is there yet. So are you fully on board or am I shooting a moving target?

    On Matt. 12 you say:
    My interpretation of this verse is so much simpler and consistent with what is actually said: Some people are “made good” (using Jesus’ tree illustration); those good people who exhibit (by their words) good fruit in their lives will be justified on the last day. I have no need, as you do, to deny that Jesus is talking about a final declaration of righteousness based on something other than faith alone..

    Well Jason, again, I can’t say that I disagree that those people who are made good and those people who exhibit good fruit in their lives will be justified in God’s sight. In the Reformed schema Regeneration precedes Justification so yes, only those who are made good will be justified, and yes, they will certainly exhibit good works. Why should I disagree with this if I am Reformed? And as to your last sentence, I did agree that our works do justify us in that it they demonstrate that our faith is real.

    I think I’ll stop prior to getting into Philippians. But I will quickly add that Paige’s response (#455) in reference to dikaioo is right on target. I would add a similar sort of analysis for dikaiosynē. I won’t go into my own analysis but will reference the discussion of the verb and noun here: http://deregnisduobus.blogspot.com/2008/08/paul-james-and-word-concept-fallacy.html. But of course this is the old Jason arguing here. So where is the new Jason? You fought the Roman Catholic Church, but has she won yet or just raised difficult questions you cannot answer at this juncture?

  469. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 25, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Jason (#464): Your entire approach demands that what Paul threatens cannot in fact happen, and that the worst that could happen is that they made a false profession (rather than actually having lost anything real).

    Actually, my approach is that Paul is targeting his warning to a narrow group: to those who have “fallen from grace.” He wants them to realize that they are outside of faith in Christ, to repent, and to trust in Christ.

    This would be consistent with either a Catholic or a Reformed approach to the passage.

    My point in that section was simply that Paul’s “fallen from grace” is not particularly strong evidence for either position.

  470. Bryan Cross said,

    August 25, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Jeff, (re: #466)

    Two considerations make the Catholic understanding impossible.

    First, Paul’s use of language here in Galatians unambiguously attributes faith as the cause of justification.

    Catholic doctrine also recognizes [living] faith as the cause of justification. So this “consideration” does not “make the Catholic understanding impossible.” The assumed premise in your argument is that if according to St. Paul faith is the cause of justification, then according to St. Paul nothing else (e.g. baptism) is the cause of justification. But then it would follow that according to St. Paul Jesus is not the cause of justification. So that’s an assumption that you yourself reject. So your argument depends on a premise that you yourself reject.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  471. August 25, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Bryan,

    Why is this hard to understand:

  472. August 25, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    C2C makes my blood boil:

    “For the Protestant alternative is to say that since Scripture alone is infallible, that means the Church cannot claim such authority when it comes to Scriptural interpretation. At the same time, we know we cannot simply leave this task to each individual Christian, for neither the individual Christian nor the tradition to which he belongs can claim to possess some sort of authority that he refuses to attribute to the Church. So, we are left with the question of how we can know, how we can decide with confidence, which of the endlessly diverse and contradictory Christian traditions has things right – hardly a trivial matter, if it might mean heresy on the one hand or fidelity to the Faith on the other.”

    Every sentence here is not true. I don’t even know where to start.

    Who are you, C2C people, and what are you doing here?

    You are hereby called to repentance and to communion with the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic church. And it’s not the one with ‘Roman’ in its name.

    I’ve heard enough,
    Andrew

  473. August 25, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Gb’ers,

    Time to mobilize and march to C2C. Post comments!

  474. August 25, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Oh, that’s right. That’s not the kind of people we are. Not to mention, we have better things to do.

  475. isaiah. said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Andrew (472) …

    Hello again. On this:

    You are hereby called to repentance and to communion with the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic church. And it’s not the one with ‘Roman’ in its name.

    If you are serious here (sounds like you are), and not just having more fun (no complaints here, but it will make my next point moot), my question for you is:

    Which church (or Church) is it that we are called to repent at and come into communion with, if not the Roman one? I do mean this in all seriousness. And it is of utmost importance to me that we resolve this.

    To me it seems the crux of the matter is an answer to the following question: For a Calvinist of your (or other GBers’) stripe, can one be “saved” while being a faithful member of the Catholic Church (i.e., the one that often, though not always, includes the word “Roman” in it)?

    Keep in mind that many of us Catholics grew up very faithful, very serious, very “born again” Protestants (need I remind you?). But there are many Protestants of the Reformed tradition who seem to indicate that we must no longer be “saved,” for we have turned from the faith of our childhood, which some say was the “correct” faith, to the “Apostate” “false religion” of the “Romanists”. Which, again, for many means we were never “truly saved” to begin with.

    Yes, this is a very serious matter indeed. Eager to hear your response.

    ih.

  476. August 26, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Finally.

    Hello Isaiah, it’s nice to ‘meet’ you.

    I promise to be kind and forthright. No equivocating. Where I make an error, or am hurtful, call me out. I am a sinner. I expect to fail going forward. But my God is with me. And in His strength, do I rest and have confidence.

    I will be the first to say I am not as sophisticated as people here are. They know more how to answer your questions. So there are better answers than I myself can give. Anyone, chime in, as you feel led.

    As for what church you must join, I seriously don’t know. But do you see just how hurtful C2C is, as a website? It’s truly an organization designed for no other reason than to stir up controversy, and disrupt the peace and unity of the church. I am serious. And this whole thing (the back and forth here, and the more I read at C2C) makes me sick.

    I’m willing to flesh out exactly what church the hypothetical C2C Romanist must join upon leaving that false communion. If you give me time, it should become apparent. I could make more statements here, but some have already been made, and you will just have to wait. I am not dismissing your question. But there’s much bigger issues going on here. Trust me for the time being. I’m going nowhere.

    And yes, God is not required to have his children be a part of a church. I don’t like saying this. Because I love church. But the simple fact is, God is God. The Church is not God. God is not the church. I had to realize in my own faith journey that it is God whom I have a relationship with, and not the Bible that has been at my side for as long as I can remember. There’s more to share, with anyone interested, in how my faith developed. And how I came to appreciate just what WCF 1 says. Go read it, please. I digress..

    My dear, Romanist, friend, Isaiah,

    I will pull out in Machen’s “What is Faith,” exactly where he states that whether a man or woman is saved is knowledge only known to God. I’m sorry if someone seemed to suggest to you otherwise, that they knew something about your eternal state.

    You need to seriously consider the “OPC” references in the C2C bios. The little band of Machen Warrior Children is indeed a threat to the monolithic RCC. There is indeed a serious problem. If you are truly an honest questioner and seeker, you (or anyone) and I can continue public dialogue. I don’t have all the answers, or all that many. But I am ordained in the OPC. And I’ll be damned if you tell me that I must kiss Benedict’s ring.

    And with that, I make my exit. By the way, do you golf?

  477. August 26, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Will a mod please delete my last comment? Here it is without the formatting error:

    Jeff,

    Concerning the issue of faith working through love (FWTL), you begin by saying:

    First, we consider the structure of Galatians. Gal. 1 – 4 is a strong argument against the Judaizers and for justification by faith; this corresponds to the first half of Paul’s thesis, “I have been crucified with Christ” (2.20a). Then, 5.16 to the end contain a description of life lived by the Spirit, corresponding to the second half, “the life I live I live by the Spirit…” (2.20b).

    The section in question, 5.1 – 5.15, serves as a transitional hinge between the two main halves of this book.

    A couple thoughts: first, who says that this particular breakdown of the epistle is in fact the correct one, and the one Paul (and/or the Holy Spirit) had in mind when it was originally written?

    Secondly, even if I were to grant this specific structure as a working hypothesis, it is full of holes. For example, the verses containing a reference to the Spirit in the section of the book you say is about justification total the exact number of verses referring to the Spirit in what you call the section on life in the Spirit (six). Further, in the first section of the book (the part supposedly before Paul gets to the issue of life in the Spirit), Paul talks about:

    How the Galatians received the Spirit (3:3)

    How that they have begun in the Spirit (3:4)

    The one who supplies the Spirit to them (3:5)

    Our receiving the promised Spirit (3:14)

    God having sent the Spirit into our hearts (4:6)

    How that the NC people of God have been born according to the Spirit (4:29)

    So in a word, I think your proposed breakdown of the epistle is arbitrary, and that it violates its own rules.

    So we are struck with a puzzle: Does faith, working through love, avail for our justification? Or, does it avail for the life lived by the Spirit? The answer immediately suggests itself. Consistent with Paul’s argument in ch. 3, and then further down in 5, we can confidently say that faith avails for justification and justifying faith works through love so that it avails for living the life through the Spirit.

    I agree that the answer immediately suggests itself, but disagree on what that suggestion is. Your answer—that faith working through love avails for sanctification—depends upon both a distinction between justification and sanctification that is uniquely Protestant and by no means obvious, as well as upon an artificial breakdown of the epistle itself.

    The immediate context of the FWTL is Paul’s question to those “who would be justified by the law” (v. 4). He then insists that circumcision avails nothing (v. 6). The only reasonable answer to the question “avails nothing for what?” is “avails nothing for justification.” I mean, it’s right there in the text! But what does avail for justification? Faith working through love.

    There is no question of ongoing justification, received by ongoing faith-working-through-love…. And after ch. 4, when speaking of life in the Spirit, where does Paul speak of being justified?

    He speaks of it in 5:4-6!

    Exhibiting a living faith that works through love is synonymous for Paul with walking in the Spirit, living by the Spirit, and sowing to the Spirit. This kind of living avails for justification, and will issue forth in eternal life (5:6; 6:8). I will even be as bold to say that the only way this can be denied is if one’s systematic-theological interpretive paradigm is exalted to the place where the actual Scripture needs to bow down to it. That’s not a shot at you, so please don’t that it that way. But to insist (like Horton did with me repeatedly) that Paul is talking about sanctification in Gal. 5 and not justification (despite the fact that he explicitly mentions the latter but not the former) is baffling if one just looks at the words on the page.

    Rather, justification is once-and-done, with definitive consequences. One of these is the giving of the Spirit, so that the justified believer will exercise his faith in love.

    The living faith that I spoke of above is what Paul says Abraham exhibited in Rom. 4 (and as is clear from the end of the chapter, his faith was anything but passive and non-contributory). Abraham clearly had justifying faith in Gen. 12 (else Hebrews 11 severely misinterpreted the significance of his leaving Ur and striking out for a land that God would afterwards show him). Abraham was explicitly declared righteous in Gen. 15:6 (“he believed God, and his faith was counted as righteousness”). But James cites that very passage from Gen. 15:6 to describe the “justification” that Abraham received in Gen. 22, when the patriarch’s “faith was active along with his works” (which sounds a bit like “faith working through love”!). And on top of all this, both Jesus and Paul speak of a final “justification” on the last day (both in unequivocally soteriological contexts).

    So no, according to the Bible, justification is not “once and done.”

  478. August 26, 2012 at 12:46 am

    PS Isaiah: are you CtoC?

  479. August 26, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Wow Jason, you are a thinker. Sorry I doubted. Stick around. Peace. -ab

  480. Bryan Cross said,

    August 26, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Jeff (re: #466)

    You said:

    Two considerations make the Catholic understanding impossible.

    I already addressed your first consideration in comment #470. Here’s your second consideration that is supposed to “make the Catholic understanding impossible.”

    Suppose I were to ask seniors to read Galatians, and then I asked them “According to Paul in Galatians, how are we justified?” If a senior responded, “by baptism”, I would conclude that he had read something other than Galatians.

    Suppose I were to ask seniors to read Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2, and then I asked them “According to Peter in his Pentecost sermon, how are our sins forgiven?” If a senior responded, “by faith,” I would conclude that he had read something other than Acts 2, because in his sermon the only things Peter says are required for forgiveness of sins are repentance and baptism.

    The point is that what seniors take from a reading of a portion of Scripture is not a good way of determining the full content of the apostolic deposit, and in no way “makes the Catholic understanding impossible.”

    You then say:

    The language in 3.27 (all of those baptized into Christ have put on Christ) is not causal language. By itself, it could be consistent with baptismal regeneration; but taken next to the multiple statements of justification by faith, which is explicitly causal, and it is clear that 3.27 cannot be taken as any kind of evidence for the RC understanding.

    Again, the presupposition implicit in your argument needs to be made explicit. Your argument presupposes that if justification is by faith, then justification cannot be by anything else. But as I showed in #470, that’s a presupposition you yourself do not hold. So your conclusion only follows by making use of a premise that you yourself reject.

    If hearing is the means by which Christ gives us the act of faith, and baptism is the means by which Christ gives us the supernatural virtues of faith and agape which together constitute living faith, and justification is by living faith, then justification is by baptism, because living faith is by baptism. It is not an either/or (i.e. faith or baptism), just as it is not an either/or in the case of justification by faith and justification by Christ.

    So your argument here in no way “makes the Catholic understanding impossible,” because your argument depends on a premise that you yourself reject, and which is not found in the epistle to the Galatians, or anywhere else in the whole Bible.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  481. isaiah said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Andrew B.

    Thanks for your response. Just a short answer for now.

    1. I disc golf. Does that count?
    2. I am not in any way associated with the CtoC bloggers, except that we share the Catholic faith. Or, if you are asking whether I am “called to communion”, I can only answer that I mostly just want to dispel the usual vitriol with which many (though certainly not all) Protestants disseminate their hatred for Catholic Christians and anything smacking of “Romanism”, and to do so by correcting the misinformation.

    In the grace of Christ going before and after me,

    ih.

    P.S. If you are in some way “called to communion,” (which I gather you define differently than your Catholic brothers), then I suggest you avoid the use of “Romanism” in reference to Catholics, as it has the ring of a pejorative and is therefore counter to the spirit of ecumenism.

  482. Bryan Cross said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Jeff (re: #466)

    You wrote:

    Catholics now respond, “But baptism is the sacrament of faith. We need to understand that justification by faith and justification by baptism refer to one and the same event.” This is linguistically unlikely. It asks us to read Paul in this way:
    “Gal 3.7: Know then that it is those of faith** who are the sons of Abraham.
    **Baptism, which is the sacrament of faith.”
    This stretches credulity.

    By now you know what I’m going to say. Here again you presuppose that if justification is by faith, then it is not by baptism. Your either/or presupposition is doing the argumentative work, by requiring that if justification were by baptism, then Paul could not have said that justification is by faith, without including asterisks and footnotes.

    Next you write:

    But the second consideration is absolutely fatal. How were the Old Testament saints justified? Paul makes it clear that they were justified by faith. And it is clear that they were not recipients of baptism. If on the other hand circumcision did not serve the same sacramental function as baptism, then the argument is simpler: the OT saints were justified by faith, and they were never baptized. Baptism is therefore not necessary for justification. Either way, we come to the same conclusion. The OT saints were justified by faith and were not justified by baptism nor any equivalent to baptism. How then can we say that baptism is now necessary for salvation?

    Your argument here presupposes that the conditions for justification under the New Covenant must be identical to (or at least nothing more than) the conditions for justification under the Abrahamic covenant, or even prior to the Abraham covenant. Given that presupposition, then if baptism was not required for justification at any point in the Old Testament, then baptism must not be required for justification under the New Covenant. This notion that the sacramental conditions for justification under the New Covenant must be identical to (or at least nothing more than) the conditions for justification under the Abrahamic covenant or prior to the Abrahamic covenant, is nowhere stated in Scripture. It is a philosophical presupposition imported from outside the text of Scripture. Christ cut the New Covenant with His own blood, and He therefore gets to establish the conditions of the Covenant, by which we are made partakers of its benefits. How then can we say that baptism is now necessary for salvation? Because Christ said so. He is the one who said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (St. John 3:5) And “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mk. 16:16)

    You wrote:

    So why does Paul bring up baptism in 3.27 if he is not speaking causally?
    We recall that Paul’s argument in Galatians is that receiving circumcision is not necessary for justification (and is in fact harmful, for it opposes faith in Christ). How does the argument proceed?
    He argues in chap. 3 that
    * We are justified by faith as Abraham was (3.1 – 9).
    * We are made children of God by faith (3.26).
    * All who are baptized into Christ have put on Christ (3.27)
    * All who are children of God are children of Abraham (3.29).

    This argument answers the Judaizers in this way:

    * Justification is by faith, not by works of the law
    * We are made children of God by faith, not by circumcision
    * Baptism, not circumcision, is the sign of our inclusion.
    * And belonging to Christ rolls up being part of Abraham’s people into it.

    Thus, any desired benefit of circumcision is already theirs in Christ. The language of 3.27 is placing sign against sign, baptism against circumcision — not cause against cause.

    If baptism were merely a sign of faith, there would have been no need to replace circumcision with baptism. Circumcision would have been the sign of faith in all those who are sons of Abraham by faith. But your reduction of baptism to a mere sign of faith, and not the sacramental means of faith, is nowhere to be found in Scripture, or in the Church Fathers, who unanimously affirmed baptismal regeneration, as I showed in “The Church Fathers on Baptismal Regeneration.”

    Not only that, but you have to make St. Paul not even mean what he says in Gal 3:27. He says there, “ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε.” That’s not mere sign language; that’s ontological language. As many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ, that is, become united to Him, inserted into His Body, regenerated by His Spirit, infused with grace, supernatural faith, and agape, which is His righteousness. This union with Christ, and all that goes with it, is effected in baptism, which is not merely a sign of faith, but is the means by which we receive the salvation Christ won for us on Calvary. In order to construe this verse as reducing baptism to a mere sign, you have to deny what it actually says, that as many as were baptized into Christ, put on Christ. What’s going on here is that your paradigm won’t allow you to grant baptism any efficacy, and so you have to try to force it to say something weaker than it actually says. But what St. Paul says here should cause you to reconsider the either/or presupposition that lies beyond your assumption that baptism can have no causal role in justification, because faith does.

    If what you are laying out here from Scripture is supposed to “make the Catholic understanding impossible,” it only shows that what makes the Catholic understanding impossible is not the text itself, but approaching Scripture through a paradigm that already denies the Catholic understanding.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  483. Bryan Cross said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:51 am

    “lies beyond” should be “lies behind”

  484. johnbugay said,

    August 26, 2012 at 4:04 am

    Isaiah 475:

    Which church (or Church) is it that we are called to repent at and come into communion with, if not the Roman one?

    I don’t have too much time to get into a discussion about this, but thing of Roman government and the Roman hierarchy as a parasite upon the one true church.

    Andrew Buckingham is talking about the one true church upon which Rome is the parasite.

  485. August 26, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Gentlemen, for the sake of “cleaning house” please take discussions relating to Galatians on the topic of justification to the new post:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/debating-galatians-on-justification/

    All other peripheral discussion relating to Lane’s post can continue here.

  486. August 26, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Isaiah,

    No problem with responding shortly. I do it all the time. With three kids under the age of 6, really, I have very little excuse spending my free time in these matters. I take these things very seriously, but these blog comments I write a more of a hobby than my job. So yeah, I like even short comments that acknowledge that someone read.

    “except that we share the Catholic faith”

    Ok, and, I got a little testy about the CtoC folk. I’d like to continue talking about the CtoC folk because it is their actions and what I read on their website that irks me. As for your being the in the “Catholic faith,” know that, for my part, I actually am able to dispel with the usual vitriol. Why? Well, for one, I am ignorant. I try to read these comments as quick as I can. Yes, I see vitriol out here. I hope you sense in me, personally, a hand reaching across the isle. I posted the J Gresham Machen quote that I mentioned, to my google plus “posts” section. I mean it – only God knows who is saved. I don’t want to go into that. But your salvation is something, while yes, I am concerned about, because I am a deacon in a presbyterian church, and just a human being who has experienced what it means to be loved by the Creator, that I want to share. I’m not here to judge you. But you need to know, I do have some concerns with what I know about the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. I am not the guy to explain what those concerns are…in and amongst others’ vitriol, I think, you will be reading real people who have real problems, and have really thought about the problems in the RCC’s teaching. So follow along, as you are able. I will too.

    Yeah, I will get rid of “Romanism.” From now on, your religious affiliation will be to me a label called, ‘Roman Catholic.” I will likely simply address you as Isaiah, however. It’s not an unreasonable thing to be asked to called something. Yeah, it seems rude, if people are unwilling to even budge on what to call someone. Consider me a sympathetic ear to your concern here. Words have meaning, and we should take seriously when people take offense at labels put forth upon individuals here or entire ecclesiastical bodies like the RCC.

    You say, “if I am in some way called to communion.”

    I don’t really know what “called to communion” means. But here’s my short soliloquy, and then I’m going to try to get back to training for my 8k run, which is in October. I’m out of shape, so it’s no easy task, but I’m doing it!

    What you’ll hear around here is that the “true” church is one that adheres to the Westminster Confession of Faith (“WCF”). We take that document really seriously. It is our secondary standard (for us personally in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and for many “reformed” churches that, like us, are a member of the body, “NAPARC.” WCF summarizes Scripture. We are really big Bible fans on our side, and feel that the “only rule of faith and practice” is the Bible. (“the Bible itself being the only infallible rule of faith and practice” – http://www.opc.org/confessions.html)

    But aside from that, yeah, sure, me personally, I am called to attend church today, for example, and God has me in a congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. And perhaps we are having communion today (which is the little cracker and small plastic cup with wine that doesn’t take like any wine I usually drink, but no biggee). “Communion” is a bigger concept which I personally have only begun to understand. I listened to the book, “Communion with the Triune God” by John Owen. I’m not going to lie – the pulse of that man’s thought, or something, truly does brought me to tears. I use a text to speech feature to listen to something like that. And I was so overwhelmed with the love of Christ poured forth, I had to stop listening and just kind of, I don’t know, really consider what exactly was being told me. It’s a wonderful experience to feel in the presence of Holy God who is love.

    So am I called to communion? Well, I’m currently not called to join with the CtoC folks, and pack up my bags, and leave my current church. I’m very very offended by what that website is and what I read out here. It truly is a disruptive organization, driven by I know not what, but I can’t believe that an organization puts itself out as the one place where people go to bring unity in the church. If only people like me would quit my church, and join what they KNOW is the true communion, in the manifestation of one of the many denominations in Christendom, namely, the RCC.

    I almost want anyone from CtoC, who shows up, to have some kind of scarlet C around their neck, or at least, any comment on this blog, to preface with the idea that the CtoC person talking is one who, really, is branded as a person who is trying to stir up strife. I fear for the damage done to people souls, who read their words, on blogs like this.

    I’m sure they have their motives. But I started reading in May. And it all makes me sick.

    I could go on and on. There’s more to share about me. But this is waaaay too long and personal and etc etc. Hence why we should probably continue via e-mail, about that stuff.

    But if there matters we wish to “discuss” publicly, I will stick around. Maybe Lane can do another post, and we can talk there. I personally don’t blog, and have no intention to start.

    I’m not sure, but maybe, David G. gave the green light for perhaps a type of discussion like this. But it needs to center on Lane’s words. I fear for our mods and their time. They shouldn’t be put through my words and drivel, because we are talking Godly men and women who sacrafice for people like you and me, who, for some reason, feel we must post public, and can’t resolve our questions by talking to people in our own immediate circles, or via e-mail.

    With that, no, I think I have only disc golfed once. But I would love to get it a try. Why golf? Because, man, if we can’t be friends at the end of the day, after all this typing, and golf together, than my goodness, and this goes for you all – stop your blogging and commenting if all it does is makes you angry at the individual typing here. Let’s use this opportunity to find people who are with us in the cause of promoting the Gospel. Isaiah, I wish to keep things here light hearted. I don’t always succeed. And my light heartedness gets offensive too. But golf is a really fun sport. I played a short course, nine holes, with a guy from my chuch, who is 15, who had never played before. We shared the joy of Christian friendship.

    So with that, get out and golf if you can. I will write more, and try to stick to Lane’s words, going forward. Hope that helps.

    Andrew

  487. Bryan Cross said,

    August 26, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Andrew B., (re: #471)

    Why is this hard to understand.

    Your question presumes that I don’t understand what Sproul says in the video you embedded. I do, however, understand what Sproul is saying there. The problem, however, is that he misrepresents the Catholic position.

    In describing the Catholic doctrine, Sproul says:

    The Roman Catholic Church said that the only way God will ever declare me righteous or you righteous or anybody else righteous is if they have a righteousness that inheres within them, an intrinsic righteousness, a righteousness that really belongs to John Ankerburg. They would say that you can’t be righteous, John, apart from the help of Christ and the grace of Christ and the infusion of His power, with which you must assent and cooperate, … and so you can’t be saved without the help of Christ or without grace or without faith. But added to that faith, added to that grace, added to that Christ, must be the contribution of John Ankerberg, without which God will not declare you just.”

    When he says that according to Catholic doctrine God declares a person righteous only if that person is righteous within, he is correct. We discussed this already in the “List Paradigm Versus Agape Paradigm” thread. But when he says that according to Catholic doctrine a person is not just before God unless, in addition to the faith and grace he has received within from Christ he must add his own contribution, he caricatures the Catholic position. The person coming up out of the baptismal font is already completely just; he does not then need to do something to add his own contribution in order to make himself fully just before God. Moreover, any good thing he subsequently does in a state of grace, by which he grows in grace and faith and agape and righteousness, is not accurately described as “his own contribution,” but is the grace of Christ within him, as St. Paul says, “On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Cor 15:10)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  488. August 26, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Sure, Bryan. But why doesn’t Benedict tell me that himself? On the golf course? Your actions are causing harm. You need to repent of C2C. I will email you my thoughts. The forum within which we discuss is where much of the problem lies. IMHO. Peace.

  489. Jason Loh said,

    August 26, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Jason,

    At #460, you wrote:

    “But if it were possible to be entangled again in that yoke of bondage after having begun in the Spirit, then there’s no reason why the freedom gained from justification (and maybe even justification itself) can’t be forfeited (which seems to be Paul’s whole point: “Stand fast in your liberty, and don’t submit again to a yoke of bondage”).”

    From that verse in particular, was Paul implying that a Christian can lose his/ her salvation? From the text (and indeed most of his epistles), we can see that Paul did not normally theologise or philosophise in the abstract — discoursing/ articulating in general terms and categories. He preached and here he was preaching to the Galatian churches (at least as the epistle was read out) concerning an existential problem that was confronting them. IOW, he did not speak about them; rather he spoke to them.

    “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

    The contrast that Paul meant to make an impression on his hearers was precisely the sharp contrast — the antithesis — the irreconcilable tension — the dialetical opposition — between freedom and bondage which here in contextual terms concretised as Gospel and Law respectively. IOW, he wasn’t laying out a doctrine of apostasy as such although, yes, his preaching here does speak to the issue also.

    1. The freedom “wherewith Christ hath made us free” – is at once both proclamation (preaching) and confession. We have been set free by Christ. There is no “quid pro quo”: Paul is preaching — he is not merely describing freedom in the abstract, he is not demanding that the Galatians be set free … no ultimatums, . Paul simply declares to them: You are free. No conditions; no requirements but you are already free. In other words, fait accompli — freedom is done. Full stop.

    2. To be set free is simply to be freed — meaning that freedom is given; freedom is a gift. We are “passive” — not “active” — we did not set ourselves free but were set free by Christ — from the outside, extra nos. hence, the absolute contrast with the “yoke of bondage.”

    3. In either case, to be freed/ free in/ by Christ necessarily implies being bound to Christ (or else there the contrast between freedom and bondage makes no sense) whereas to be bound to the Law necessarily implies the illusion of freedom (or the rest of the Galatians 5 makes no sense especially so in relation to FWTL).

    4. Hence, it is highly unlikely Paul’s statement in Galatian 5:1 meant to entail the “defectibility” of the Christian. This would by itself undermine and disrupt Paul’s unqualified and unconditional emphasis on the antithesis between freedom and bondage. We were not freed by our own “will” — freedom is entirely Christ’s doing.

    5. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty … and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” – We were passive when Christ set us free from the Law completely, totally. We are *now* passive in Christ Who set us free from the Law. Therefore, to stand fast in the freedom – is simply what it is … *stand* … (not do this or do that) … *in* … the *liberty* … *wherewith* … CHRIST … hath made us … FREE — *passivity* all the way. IOW, just be what you *are* … free in Christ. Paul is rendering the Galatian congregations passive with this verse (the active part comes later – sequence). When one stands in the freedom of Christ, one can never be in bondage. It is impossible, therefore, for freedom to be “exchanged” for bondage. For the implication is much more unpalatable (to both Roman Catholics and Protestants alike), namely the defectibility of CHRIST.

  490. johnbugay said,

    August 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Bryan 487 (with respect to your response to Andrew Buckingham 471):

    You said

    The problem, however, is that he misrepresents the Catholic position.

    He does no such thing. Here’s how you qualify that:

    when he says that according to Catholic doctrine a person is not just before God unless, in addition to the faith and grace he has received within from Christ he must add his own contribution, he caricatures the Catholic position. The person coming up out of the baptismal font is already completely just; he does not then need to do something to add his own contribution in order to make himself fully just before God.

    This is one reason why I have said in the past that you exercise “mental reservation”, that you are, in fact, dishonest.

    You make the claim that Sproul “misrepresents the Catholic position,” and then you leave open the suggestion that Sproul is even somehow being dishonest, or that he doesn’t understand “the Catholic position”.

    In fact, Sproul does not misrepresent anything. He in fact does a fine and succinct job here of articulating the Roman Catholic system in a sound-bite.

    The Roman Catholic system is such a convoluted mess that your statement is true about the person coming up out of the baptismal font being perfectly just at that moment.

    But here at that point you exercise mental reservation, in that you fail to mention that if this is an adult, this person MUST attend mass (and adhere to all the other “precepts of the church”) — in addition to any “work” that person may or must do — THAT PERSON’s “WORK” IS TO *DO* THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH. And if this person fails to attend Mass, for example, that person is condemned in the Roman system.

    Sproul is completely correct, if we assume that that person up out of the baptismal font lives another day or another week or another year (which is not an unreasonable assumption) in saying that “added to that faith, added to that grace, added to that Christ, must be the contribution of John Ankerberg, without which God will not declare you just.

    YOU MUST do something else, if you live after baptism, if you are to remain in that “state of grace”.

    Your portrayal of Sproul here is reprehensible.

  491. johnbugay said,

    August 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Bryan Cross’s 487 is a very clear example of the Roman Catholic practice of “mental reservation”, which is what is rightly called “Rome’s institutionally-sanctioned form of lying”.

    Bryan Cross and Mental Reservation

  492. Jason Loh said,

    August 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Galatians 5 follows on from Paul’s earlier preaching on the Law and Promise … hence, verse 1: “Stand fast *therefore* in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

    As Paul declared in Galatians 4:28: “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” That is the promise of the Word of God — Who became Incarnate by the Virgin Mary.

    “What saith Scripture (Word of God)? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free” (Gal 4:30-31). Heir — inheritance — by the promise.

    However, Paul knew that he was not only preaching to Christians (to the baptised) but also to converts from the old religion for whom circumcision was a pre-eminent sign of God’s covenant with them. Thus, the converts brought with them old religious habits and customs not least circumcision. Paul had to drive home the point, therefore, that there was *no* return to the old ways. How could it be? They have been set free by CHRIST.

    But of course, the question from the perspective of the “third party” — the so-called “interpreter” … is it possible for salvation to be lost/ forfeited? Is final apostasy possible?

    There are two perspectives or paradigms: the “Christ-paradigm” and the “Law paradigm.” The Christ-paradigm (christological, evangelical) is epitomised by the phrase, “in Christ”; the Law paradigm is the paradigm of free-will (including grace-enabled, Spirit-wrought). In Christ presuppose and implies “passivity”/ “receptivity” … Christ alone is the Subject. Freedom is complete and total or else it’s not freedom but bondage all over again. The Law paradigm emphasises synergy/co-operation.

    From the perspective of the Christ-paradigm, since freedom is complete and total — it is irreversible — this is what the patristics (especially St irenaeus) referred as “recapitulatio” (recapitulation). This “summing, gathering up” of all things is irresistible. The Law-paradigm undermines recapitulatio since there is some distance (diastema) which Jesus “has not covered” hence movement on my part towards the Good. Reformation discovery was that JESUS overcomes all distance *for you*. The Incarnation contradicts all “heaven-ward” movement since God came down to earth to die once and for all. His death was to “redeem us that were under the law” (Gal 4:5). To be redeemed from the Law is to turn our backs to (leave behind) the Law — forever. IOW, there is no turning back.

    The two paradigms therefore cannot be reconciled … just freedom and bondage are at odds with each other with no compromise … Christ-paradigm and Law-paradigm cannot be mixed without undermining Pauline preaching. That is, the distinction between Law and Gospel, freedom and bondage will be lost.

    Thus, pastorally whilst Christians do fall away finally, the mystery is not why they fell and others persevered, but why they were never in Christ in the first place — to which we can never know on this side of the eschaton. Otherwise, it’s all Law over all again … do this and it’s never done.

  493. Bryan Cross said,

    August 26, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Jason L. (#489)

    In either case, to be freed/ free in/ by Christ necessarily implies being bound to Christ …

    Perfect freedom in Christ includes the ability never possibly to sin. But believers do not enjoy that perfect freedom until the age to come. In this present life, says St. Augustine, believers are able not to sin (posse non peccare), but in the life to come we will be unable to sin (non posse peccare). So the freedom we have now under grace is a shadow of the freedom we will have in glory. That is why from the fact that we are freed in Christ it does not follow that we are already, in this present life, bound to Christ such that we cannot fall away temporarily or permanently.

    When one stands in the freedom of Christ, one can never be in bondage. It is impossible, therefore, for freedom to be “exchanged” for bondage.

    That is true for the saints in glory, but again, believers on earth do not yet have the perfect freedom of the saints in glory. Claiming otherwise would be an example of over-realized eschatology.

    For the implication is much more unpalatable (to both Roman Catholics and Protestants alike), namely the defectibility of CHRIST.

    For faith healers (of the Hagin, Hinn, and Copeland sort), sickness and disease in the bodies of believers during this present life would imply a defect in the work of Christ (or our failure to appropriate the benefits offered to us right now, through His work). But the Catholic Church does not share that belief. Nor do Catholics believe that the difference between the perfection enjoyed by believers on earth and the perfection enjoyed by the saints in heaven entails some sort of defect in the work of Christ. This present life, during which we see through a glass darkly, and must go through all sorts of sufferings and trials to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, and “pummel” our bodies lest after preaching to others we ourselves are not approved, is part of Christ’s perfect plan, not a defect or deficiency in His redemptive work.

    So for these reasons, the fact that in his epistle to the Galatians St. Paul refers to the liberty the Galatian Christians enjoy in Christ does not entail that they are bound to Christ in such a way that they can never permanently fall away from Christ.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  494. Jason Loh said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Dear Bryan,

    You wrote:

    “Perfect freedom in Christ includes the ability never possibly to sin. But believers do not enjoy that perfect freedom until the age to come. In this present life, says St. Augustine, believers are able not to sin (posse non peccare), but in the life to come we will be unable to sin (non posse peccare). So the freedom we have now under grace is a shadow of the freedom we will have in glory. That is why from the fact that we are freed in Christ it does not follow that we are already, in this present life, bound to Christ such that we cannot fall away temporarily or permanently.”

    It’s only true if grace is a “repair job” – if I may put it – whereby grace is infused to a “continuous existing subject.” But the baptismal language of Paul is death & resurrection – the Christ-paradigm, if I may put it. You have already died, Paul goes on to say. In other words, the death of the Old Adam and the resurrection of the New Adam. Two persons, not one, who are irreconcilable, existential tension on this side of the eschaton. of course it’s not just this type of realist language which Paul preaches in Romans but also Philippians where he claims to have attain and not attain the resurrection from the dead, perfect and yet not perfect … the simul which Luther “rediscovered.”

  495. Jason Loh said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    “That is true for the saints in glory, but again, believers on earth do not yet have the perfect freedom of the saints in glory. Claiming otherwise would be an example of over-realized eschatology.”

    I suppose over-realised eschatology is where the Pope claims to be the one holy apostolic and catholic Church.

  496. Bryan Cross said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    John B. (re: #490)

    But here at that point you exercise mental reservation, in that you fail to mention that if this is an adult, this person MUST attend mass (and adhere to all the other “precepts of the church”) — in addition to any “work” that person may or must do — THAT PERSON’s “WORK” IS TO *DO* THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH. And if this person fails to attend Mass, for example, that person is condemned in the Roman system.

    If my failing to mention that believers must then work out their salvation in fear and trembling constitutes “mental reservation,” then Sproul’s failure to mention that believers must always avoid repeating any of the sins mentioned in 1 Cor 6:9-10 (and always avoid becoming Catholic), lest it be shown that they never had faith in the first place, likewise constitutes “mental reservation.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  497. Jason Loh said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Bryan,

    You further wrote:

    “For faith healers (of the Hagin, Hinn, and Copeland sort), sickness and disease in the bodies of believers during this present life would imply a defect in the work of Christ (or our failure to appropriate the benefits offered to us right now, through His work). But the Catholic Church does not share that belief. Nor do Catholics believe that the difference between the perfection enjoyed by believers on earth and the perfection enjoyed by the saints in heaven entails some sort of defect in the work of Christ. This present life, during which we see through a glass darkly, and must go through all sorts of sufferings and trials to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, and “pummel” our bodies lest after preaching to others we ourselves are not approved, is part of Christ’s perfect plan, not a defect or deficiency in His redemptive work.”

    Yes, miracles performed by saints (before they were “sainted” of course) imply that the Roman Catholic Church share the same presuppositions with the faith healers on the work of Christ, namely “seeing is believing” rather than “believing is seeing.”

    “So for these reasons, the fact that in his epistle to the Galatians St. Paul refers to the liberty the Galatian Christians enjoy in Christ does not entail that they are bound to Christ in such a way that they can never permanently fall away from Christ.”

    Then I’m afraid Christ is of none effect for the apostate Christian, Galatians 5:4. Either way, the “cause” or “reason” for the permanent departure from the Faith must be sought IN CHRIST, not “free-will.”

  498. Jason Loh said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    “the Pope claims to be the one holy apostolic and catholic Church.”

    where the Roman Catholic Church claims to be identical to the one, holy, apostolic and catholic Church. And where the Pope claims to be Vicar of Christ and by implication Head of the Body of Christ (here on earth).

  499. TurretinFan said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Bryan Cross wrote:

    Moreover, any good thing he subsequently does in a state of grace, by which he grows in grace and faith and agape and righteousness, is not accurately described as “his own contribution,” but is the grace of Christ within him, as St. Paul says, “On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Cor 15:10)

    But Benedict XVI wrote:

    If the close relationship between the Last Supper and the mystery of Jesus’ death on the Cross is emphasized on Holy Thursday, today, the Feast of Corpus Christi, with the procession and unanimous adoration of the Eucharist, attention is called to the fact that Christ sacrificed himself for all humanity. His passing among the houses and along the streets of our city will be for those who live there an offering of joy, eternal life, peace and love.

    In the Gospel passage, a second element catches one’s eye: the miracle worked by the Lord contains an explicit invitation to each person to make his own contribution. The two fish and five loaves signify our contribution, poor but necessary, which he transforms into a gift of love for all. “Christ continues today” I wrote in the above-mentioned Post Synodal Exhortation, “to exhort his disciples to become personally engaged” (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 88).

    When Sproul says it, it’s a “caricature.” When Benedict XVI says it, what is it?

    Let Trent judge between Bryan and Benedict: 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.”(Trent, On Justification, Chapter X, “On the Increase of Justification Received”)

    And in the Tridentine model, co-operation is not just a contribution to the increase, it’s also implicated here:

    CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

    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.

    (Trent, Canons IV and IX on Justification)

    Source for Benedict XVI statement:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20070607_corpus-christi_en.html

    -TurretinFan

  500. August 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    TF,

    You rock the house.

    Tell me you golf,
    Andrew

    PS maybe you are a runner? My fingers are ties (like hand over mouth in Job 40…less talk, more golf!)

  501. Bryan Cross said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    TF, (re: #499)

    That’s another good example of the word-concept fallacy. Of course it is useful, rhetorically, but it is not a good faith practice.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  502. August 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Bryan:

    Golf?

    Wanna go jogging?

    Maybe not on Sunday. Really, you should not be commenting.

    Oh…right. You abandoned the reformed faith and the WCF. Well, I not perfect either, but should you be in church?

  503. TurretinFan said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    BC:

    Just asserting that something is a “word concept fallacy” doesn’t make it one. Maybe if you took the time to read the whole comment and then reconsider your ill-advised accusation against Sproul, you could provide a more reasonable answer.

    -TurretinFan

  504. TurretinFan said,

    August 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    BC wrote:

    If my failing to mention that believers must then work out their salvation in fear and trembling constitutes “mental reservation,” then Sproul’s failure to mention that believers must always avoid repeating any of the sins mentioned in 1 Cor 6:9-10 (and always avoid becoming Catholic), lest it be shown that they never had faith in the first place, likewise constitutes “mental reservation.”

    This is an invalid comparison. Works are part of justification in Roman theology, and they are not in Reformed theology. Sproul’s failure to mention the epistemological value of works is not equivalent to your failure to mention the soteriological value of works.

    Such an omission takes on the appearance of being deceptive when the question is whether, in Roman theology as opposed to Reformed theology, believers provide a contribution to their salvation. By contrast, in the same context there is nothing deceptive about failing to note the revelatory aspect of works.

    – TurretinFan

  505. August 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Ah-ha! I get it. Wow, there really are professional bloggers and commenters. I see some GB folk have taken up the call and are asking questions over at C2C. Ok, fellas, I gotta run. I’m really sorry for just asking over and over and over what all you all are doing out here in comment boxes. I’ve been a Christian my whole life, and am now 30. I never would have dreamed that Christianity is the comment box of a blog. But so be it. I will remain befuddled. Just consider that maybe it’s the ones not blogging and commenting, but actually away from the computer (DOING WHO KNOWS WHAT TO ADVANCE THE GOSPEL) that explains this internet blogging and commenting enterprise. The C2C people should get that – the are all about works righteousness and stuff. So I’m not saying that. But if you really, REALLY are convinced that God is using YOU to advance the Gospel in a combox, well then, my friend, fire away and hit post one more time. People should know my hobbies by now, who have been reading my drivel (maybe not all of it is?!?). But I seriously did not know how far the rabbit hole went.

    I think I just took the red pill, folks,
    Andrew

  506. August 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    PS that pill of coming to reality looks a lot like the Bible that I will crack open, and read, this morning. And like the prayer that I will engage in. And like the church service where the Word is preach and sacraments administered.

    Or just stick to the language as it put so well:

    http://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/wsc/wsc_088.html

  507. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Bryan, the problem here is that you are saying that both faith and baptism are the cause of justification.

    Break it down in time: At what point in time is the believer cleansed from sin? At the moment of faith, or at the moment of baptism? There’s your proximate cause. This has nothing to do with “Protestant presuppositions.”

  508. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Bryan: Your argument here presupposes that the conditions for justification under the New Covenant must be identical to (or at least nothing more than) the conditions for justification under the Abrahamic covenant, or even prior to the Abraham covenant.

    It’s not a presupposition. It’s a direct teaching of Romans 4. Abraham is the pattern of our justification.

  509. TurretinFan said,

    August 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Jeff #508:

    Keep in mind that in Tridentine theology, faith is infused at baptism. That makes no sense in Pauline theology, but it is what it is.

    -TurretinFan

  510. August 27, 2012 at 12:07 am

    All:

    Just a quick word about paradigms. Someone here recently observed that they’d read what I’ve written, and that nothing I have said necessitates the Catholic interpretation of the doctrines and texts we’ve been considering together. I would agree. The purpose of thinking about things on the paradigm level is not necessarily to demolish all other alternatives, for often a book like Galatians can be cogently understood in varying ways through differing paradigms.

    My point in all this is simply to try to deduce the big, underlying ideas that gave rise to the texts, rather than to merely decode the texts themselves. For example, I trust that every single one of us can read James on justification by works, or Jesus on the last judgment, or Paul on what will happen on the last day for the doer of the law, and fit those passages into our theology. That’s easy. But it doesn’t really get us anywhere, since people with diametrically opposed views on certain things can both read the same texts from which their views supposedly arose and agree with them.

    The harder, and more interesting, and less comfortable question is not, “How do I fit this verse into my theology?”, but “What previously-held views on the part of the author would have given rise to a statement like this?” and, “Would someone who holds the views I do ever think to say something like that?”

    This gets to the heart of one of my own struggles over the past several years. I just began to come across more and more passages in Scripture that, while they could fit into my theology, were things that someone holding my theology just would never think to say.

    On the other hand, the basics of Catholic teaching on issues like the nature of the church and the nature of salvation, in my view, would give rise very naturally to the actual statements we find in the Bible. Thus there is more explanatory power within the Catholic paradigm than there is in the Reformed one. I expect most of you will disagree (which is fine with me), but I just wanted to make sure you all know where I am coming from.

  511. Brad B said,

    August 27, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Jason, @ 511, completely agree with you, the nature of creatures and the nature of God separate the Roman Catholic from the Reformed from the first / foundational premise and the paradigms that go with each foundation. I spent some time going back through “Whose Lens Are You Using” and scanned your posts, and found that your tone was pretty sympathetic to the Roman view even 2-3 years ago. I wonder how you viewed Sovereignty back then? What did Rom. 9 speak to you?

    I think you know that Reformed systematic theology is much richer than the 5 points of Calvinism, but those 5 points put in place a paradigm to view the scriptures that give the Reformed more “explanatory power” but at the cost of the pride of man.

    How do you understand Sovereignty in the Roman system? My suspicion is that the RCC doesn’t start with Sovereignty but works backward to form a view that is categorizing man in a place where he doesn’t belong to avoid making God seem too controlling. I dont know, maybe I’m completely out of touch with Roman thought on this.

  512. johnbugay said,

    August 27, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Jason, 511m when you talk of the Catholic paradigm having more “explanatory” power, there are a couple of things to note.

    First, the “Catholic Paradigm” makes it a point to scour the sources for things that can explain Catholic dogma. This quote from Aiden Nichols, “The Shape of Catholic Theology” (253) notes that for the last several hundred years, according to these popes:

    “the theologian’s highest task lies in proving the present teachings of the magisterium from the evidence of the ancient sources.”

    The real criterion to use is not “explanatory power”. Roman Catholicism self-selects for “explanatory power”. Walter Kasper (now a Cardinal) has traced the origins of this method to the 18th century. So “explanatory power” is not really the criterion to use here. Roman Catholicism writes its history and theology with an eye toward “explanatory power”.

    The thing to look for is “what really happened?” What really happened at the very beginning, and what was it like being a part of that church?

    You said (511):

    The harder, and more interesting, and less comfortable question is not, “How do I fit this verse into my theology?”, but “What previously-held views on the part of the author would have given rise to a statement like this?” and, “Would someone who holds the views I do ever think to say something like that?”

    Even in this thread, I noted many reasons why the letters of Paul are the place to start with Christian doctrine. Paul wrote earlier, and the things he wrote, he was already teaching in his churches, on his missionary trips in the 40’s and 50’s. And, the things he wrote in his letters are corroborated in Acts. That is, Paul’s letters count as evidence.

    Thus, at this point, at the point the Gospels are being written (if you assume in the later 50’s or early 60’s), you’ve already got a body of doctrinal evidence in Paul. Paul is traveling around, founding and teaching churches, and learning of their struggles, and writing to them as to how to deal with their struggles, and in the process, he writes Romans and Galatians. He is certainly highly capable of integrating Christ’s teaching with the covenant theology that the first century Jews held.

    This gets to the heart of one of my own struggles over the past several years. I just began to come across more and more passages in Scripture that, while they could fit into my theology, were things that someone holding my theology just would never think to say.

    On the other hand, the basics of Catholic teaching on issues like the nature of the church and the nature of salvation, in my view, would give rise very naturally to the actual statements we find in the Bible. Thus there is more explanatory power within the Catholic paradigm than there is in the Reformed one.

    Earlier in this thread, I noted many reasons why the letters of Paul are the place to start with Christian doctrine. Paul wrote earlier, and the things he wrote, he was already teaching in his churches, on his missionary trips in the 40’s and 50’s. And, the things he wrote in his letters are corroborated in Acts.

    Thus, at this point, at the point the Gospels are being written (if you assume in the later 50’s or early 60’s), you’ve already got a body of doctrinal evidence in Paul. Paul is traveling around, founding and teaching churches, and learning of their struggles, and writing to them as to how to deal with their struggles, and in the process, he writes Romans and Galatians. They certainly want and need to know, “how does this work?” And Paul, having been theologically trained, is certainly highly capable of integrating Christ’s teaching with the covenant theology that the first century Jews held. Especially when they ask about it, or when he perceives a need.

    [I don’t need to remind you that Galatians was one of Paul’s earliest letters. Once he writes that, and maybe clarifies and extends his remarks in Romans, he never again needs to “re-invent the wheel”. He can and does refer people to his other letters.

    It just so happens that the church did not have its “Catholic” identity from the beginning. Any “early catholicism” dates clearly from the second century. The first century church rose up out of the Synagogues. And it just so happens, there has been quite a bit of research on what the Synagogues structure was like. And when Paul was kicked out of the Synagogues, he went to the Gentiles, and almost always, this involved house churches.

    There is an incredible amount of documentation on this:

    Roman Background: What the City was Like in the First Century
    Augustus Caesar as Pontifex Maximus

    the Roman mindset

    Leadership structures in the Synagogues:
    Elders Chairs Prologue

    Elders Teachers Chairs 1

    Elders Teachers Chairs 2

    Elders Teachers Chairs 3

    Elders Teachers Chairs 4

    Introduction Households and House Churches in the New Testament
    The nonexistent early papacy

    House Churches in the New Testament

    Households in Ancient Rome
    Part 1: Households in Ancient Rome: An Introduction

    Part 2: Christians and Jews in First Century Rome

    Part 3: Commerce and Household Communities

    Aquila, Priscilla, and the accurate history of Acts 18.2

    Part 4: Household Leadership as Church Leadership

    Part 5: Patronage and Leadership

    The People of Romans 16
    Aquila, Priscilla, Acts 18:2 and the Edict of Claudius

    “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, διάκονον and προστάτις”

    Andronikos and Junia, Part 1

    Andronikos and Junia, Part 2

    I won’t ask you to read all of this (I hope you’ll read some of it), but the thing that happens when I bring this stuff up is that Roman Catholics will say “that’s not wholly incompatible with the Catholic paradigm”. Well, that may be true, at some points, but it is wholly compatible with the notion that Roman Catholicism existed at the beginning, in “seed form” or otherwise.

    But what I will tell you, it’s wholly compatible with what actually happened, and it’s wholly compatible with the Reformed view of what the earliest church – this is a very good compendium of what “the Church that Christ Founded®” actually taught and believed, and how they worshipped and otherwise conducted themselves.

    Second and third century developments are also “wholly compatible” with this picture of the earliest church, and it’s no accident that someone like Dom Chapman begins his work with a look at the fourth century church. He had absolutely nothing to bite on, and I’d dare say that Adrian Fortescue’s work on Clement and Ignatius has been wholly discredited as a historical source in the historical studies that have come out in the century or so since these two individuals wrote about the “early papacy”.

    The earliest church that I’ve presented here is wholly compatible with the facts as they exist. Wholly compatible with the history of ancient Rome. Wholly compatible with the historical evidence provided in the New Testament. Wholly compatible with the Reformed understanding of how the earliest church functioned.

  513. August 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

    You are smart, Jason, and you knew going Roman Catholic would cause a stir. Maybe you couldn’t have seen that the nutty OPC golfer from Nor-Cal would all of the sudden start chiming in. But I have been reading your blog posts from before 2010. You really should recant those. Something did change, Jason, and even though I am new, I still think I should be able to figure out just what changed. I don’t think its as easy as saying you now read your Bible differently than Calvin and the reformers. Sure, I will take you at your word. Something just doesn’t seem right to me. I will be reading. Peace.

  514. August 27, 2012 at 9:56 am

    ps i sent you some emails, jason. i would like to share private correspondence with you someday in the future. until then, andrew

  515. TurretinFan said,

    August 27, 2012 at 10:12 am

    JJS:

    A few thoughts on your comment #511:

    a) One reason why ancient authors and even Biblical authors say things differently than we might today is that they were not framing their comments in light of the controversies that arose after their writing.

    So, for example, because of the innovation of transubstantiation today we might be extra careful to make it clear that the (“this is my body”) metaphor is a metaphor.

    b) While the framework for understanding the apostolic writings is important, it is something one can derive from the Scriptures. In other words, the easily understood historical parts of the Gospels and Acts illuminate the more difficult to understand theological statements, both in those works and in Paul’s epistles. Likewise, the clear theological statements in Paul’s epistles help to illuminate the allusions to theological points in the Gospels and Acts.

    In other words, the New Testament is not simply grist for an external mill: it contains its own system of understanding.

    c) And this is the very reason for inscripturation. See John’s reasons for inscripturation:

    John 20:31
    But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

    1 John 5:13
    These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

    It is also more theologically explained by Paul:

    1 Timothy 3:15-17
    And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    You see, the Scriptures explain their own purpose and that purpose then provides the framework by which we can understand and interpret them.

    The difference between the eisegetical methods of Cross and company (in which a “paradigm” not taught in Scripture is imposed on Scripture) and the more pure exegetical methods we champion is a significant one.

    Our methodology has the advantage of the authority of the text itself (an authority granted by both sides). Moreover, our methodology is not only the dominant one amongst the free churches of the modern era, but also the apparently dominant one amongst the orthodox fathers of both east and west. Even most of the ancient heretics accepted this methodology in principle. An exception would be groups like the Gnostics. As I wrote:

    Irenaeus in “Against Heresies,” Book IV, Chapter 2, explains that the Gnostics that he was dealing with opposed the perspicuity of Scriptures, opposed the self-interpreting nature of Scripture, and insisted that tradition is mandatory in order to be able to understand them. Irenaeus writes:
    When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition.

    (Against Heresies, 4:2:1)

    See more discussion here:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/07/gnosticism-hermeneutics-and-rome.html

    – TurretinFan

  516. August 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Wow, TF. Thanks. I need to read more at your blog. And comment less. As for this, TF:

    “The difference between the eisegetical methods of Cross and company”

    The problem I see, is that with him, it seems to all come down to word-concept fallacy this, and question begging that. I mean it – when I have discussed with atheists on the internet, I’m always the circular theist, claiming God exists because, well, he says so in His Word, the Bible (Heb 11:6):

    http://www.esvbible.org/search/heb+11%3A6/

    I’m not calling Cross and company atheists, far from it, and I appreciate their appeals to logic. But really, they need to read Van Til:

    http://www.reformed.org/apologetics/index.html?mainframe=/apologetics/why_I_believe_cvt.html

    Van Til is admitting here, he’s “circular.” Because his thoughts center around God.

    I really wish Cross and company would stop stirring up strife in our reformed blogs. Keep ‘em coming, ask away. But the more you post comments here, you Roman Catholics, the more apparent your system appears weak and flawed. I would encourage you to e-mail reformed pastors, or try the OPC Q&A. There’s many many people who want to help, for those that truly want help. This forum looks like a place for mostly stirring up strife. It’s why I want everyone to take a week off, and for Lane to call a cease fire. It looks really bad to the unbelieving world, people. Maybe let’s go to Jeff Cagle’s blog and read about butterflies. Seriously folks, everyone needs a chill pill (especially me…running seems to get my stress down) and just kind of reflect on all that’s gone on. Yeah, it’s a big deal, to lose one of our ministers to the RC Church. But it should be no surprise. Seriously, nothing to see here. Move along.

    But we should keep praying for Mr. Stellman and his family.

    Peace,
    AB

  517. August 27, 2012 at 11:11 am

    PS and along with my call for a cease fire…a “Christmas Truce,” I would urge to you read this blog post from 2006 by Dr. Carl Trueman of Westminster Theological Seminary. It’s mainly just a fun read. But basically, the C2C folks take themselves WAAAAYYYYY to seriously. We’re out here, and they come over here, because we’re just more fun. They love us. Let’s outdo them in showing love, people.

    http://www.reformation21.org/counterpoints/post-46.php

    Later,
    Andrew

  518. Bryan Cross said,

    August 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Jeff (re: #508)

    At what point in time is the believer cleansed from sin? At the moment of faith, or at the moment of baptism? There’s your proximate cause. This has nothing to do with “Protestant presuppositions.”

    Your criticism of the Catholic doctrine begs the question here because your assumption that if x causes y at time t, then z does not cause y at t, is not part of the Catholic paradigm. But you need that assumption in order to conclude that (a) if Catholic doctrine teaches that a person is justified at the moment he is baptized, then it is not true that he is justified by living faith, or (b) if Catholic doctrine teaches that a person is justified at the moment of living faith, then it is not true that he is justified by baptism. And you need (a) or (b) in order to support your notion that if St. Paul says in Galatians that justification is by faith, then for St. Paul baptism is not a cause of justification. But as I pointed out above, the notion that “if x causes y at time t, then z does not cause y at t” is something even your own paradigm rejects, because it would mean that at the moment a person is being justified by faith, Christ is not causing that person’s justification.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  519. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Jason (re: 511),

    My point in all this is simply to try to deduce the big, underlying ideas that gave rise to the texts, rather than to merely decode the texts themselves.

    Just a quick observation – One of the challenges in the comparison of Catholic and Protestant theological paradigms is that they are generally formed using different sets of data. This is obvious when we discuss something like The Assumption. It is less pronounced when speak of competing paradigms of justification, but no less of a problem. The specific formulations of the doctrine of justification in the Medieval era were not governed and delimited by considerations of the exegesis of certain Greek texts. There is a much broader set of theological concepts that the Medieval theologians drew upon to define what became the range of accepted theological paradigms leading up to Trent.

  520. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Re: #519…

    And now for something completely different… or is it really the same?

    OK, nobody said that in order to participate in this debate that math (i.e algebra and geometry) would be required.

    With all the x causes y at “t” time, no wonder z doesn’t cause y… because z doesn’t know “y”! He’s too confused.

    Truly a – Maze – ing stuff…

    – from the lighter side.

  521. August 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    T-Fan and Bugay,

    Couple thoughts. I find it interesting, John, that your reasons why Paul’s writings should be central (they are earliest) is the exact opposite of VanDrunen’s argument for the same conclusion (his writings are the final word). For my part, I think it is irresponsible either to ignore Paul on the one hand, or to exalt a mere two of his letters unduly above the rest of the NT, on the other. My goal is to neither pay him too little attention nor too much.

    And T-Fan, you speak of the need to avoid eisegesis by sticking to the details of the texts themselves. Well, I don’t think anyone here can accuse me of not caring or arguing about the details of the texts of the Bible. But if you believe that systematic theology is a legitimate discipline of theology (which I assume you do), then just think of what I am trying to do as sort of like that. Only rather than just culling together a doctrine of baptism from the texts, I am first asking what prior-held understanding of baptism would most likely give rise to the statements in the texts.

  522. August 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Well, JSM, really, all BC is saying is, is he is refuting a claim.

    Seems like a rhetorical flourish to me…maybe showmanship?

    It’s cool. Because, yes, math is not required, nor logic. Just an internet connection. Fortunately, we’ve got math people in Protestantism. It’s a piece of cake :-) We’re not all lining up quite yet to swim the tiber, even if they truly have a dizzying intellect. :-)

  523. August 27, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Andrew,

    Just a quick observation – One of the challenges in the comparison of Catholic and Protestant theological paradigms is that they are generally formed using different sets of data. This is obvious when we discuss something like The Assumption. It is less pronounced when speak of competing paradigms of justification, but no less of a problem. The specific formulations of the doctrine of justification in the Medieval era were not governed and delimited by considerations of the exegesis of certain Greek texts. There is a much broader set of theological concepts that the Medieval theologians drew upon to define what became the range of accepted theological paradigms leading up to Trent.

    That’s why I keep talking about “the basics of the Catholic understanding of the church and the gospel.” Whether there is such a thing as development, and how legitimate development can be recognized as such, and all that, is stuff we’ll have to get to eventually. But I think it would be tragic to short-cut the discussion with a question like, “What about the assumption?” or “What’s up with the treasury of merit?” Not that you’re doing that, but I’m just saying that both Catholics and Protestants believe that the rudimentary elements of their theology were there in the preaching and teaching that led to the writing of the NT, right? So it seems best to focus on that before we allow things to get more complex.

  524. August 27, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Yeah, Jason (I know you are not talking to me).

    They were laid down in the OT.

    Which is precisely where an RC is unable to explain the office of pope.

    I know it’s not that easy. But Christ is seen in Genesis 3:15. There is an unfolding of the plan of redemption. Graeme Goldsworthy might help here…(and he’s Anglican – gasp!).

    Peace.

  525. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Hi Jason,

    I don’t know that Paul’s writings being the earliest and also being the final word are exclusive of one another.

    And I don’t see how Romans and Galatians, as a greater or lesser percentage of the New Testament, really advances anyone’s argument. Obviously not all letters or the Gospels were addressing the issues addressed in R and G. And R and G specifically address how a sinner is saved from his sin and is accepted as righteous before a holy God. And those letters, being Scripture which major on the doctrine of justification, rightly inform those other portions of Scripture, such as James. Of course, I know you know the argument.

    I just don’t see a case from Scripture for an ongoing-justification-lens, especially when R and G make a clear case, in my view, against it, i.e. they present a one-time Justification through faith in Christ apart from works.

    Additionally, I think it can be argued that Scripture presents the work of the Holy Spirit as that which strengthens the believer’s faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, which trust in Christ sanctifies or cleanses our otherwise dead works (Romans and Hebrews), making them works acceptable to God in Him. So then, the righteousness of Christ which is by faith both cleanses and sanctifies. And, our sanctification, as the work of the Holy Spirit, follows from the established ground our justification through faith in Christ’s finished work.

    Any way, just my two cents from the back row…

  526. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Question:
    If a believer is already made righteous, ala Rome, through infused righteousness by baptism, then what does this verse mean or point to?

    Likewise, if the believer is reckoned righteous by faith in Christ, i.e. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him by faith, then what does the following mean?

    For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. (Gal. 5:5)

    For me, this beats math…

  527. TurretinFan said,

    August 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    JJS #524:

    The whole dogma of the Assumption is this: “we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

    That’s an allegation regarding what would be a simple historical fact. It doesn’t even resolve the question of whether Mary died or didn’t die. It just alleges that she was assumed bodily into heaven at the end of her time on earth.

    You wrote: “Not that you’re doing that, but I’m just saying that both Catholics and Protestants believe that the rudimentary elements of their theology were there in the preaching and teaching that led to the writing of the NT, right? So it seems best to focus on that before we allow things to get more complex.”

    I’m not sure that one can get much simpler than the Assumption, though. In other words, it’s not like there were rudimentary elements of Mary’s assumption in the NT. What I mean is that this not like justification – where Trent is supposedly providing lots of theological nuance about about a complex theological topic.

    The only thing that makes the assumption less than ideal as a topic of discussion is that we (Reformation Christianity) don’t think it is heresy to believe that Mary was assumed – we just treat it as heresy to elevate that (very late) human tradition to the level of gospel, as though men were required to believe it.

    -TurretinFan

  528. Zrim said,

    August 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    The harder, and more interesting, and less comfortable question is not, “How do I fit this verse into my theology?”, but “What previously-held views on the part of the author would have given rise to a statement like this?” and, “Would someone who holds the views I do ever think to say something like that?”

    This gets to the heart of one of my own struggles over the past several years. I just began to come across more and more passages in Scripture that, while they could fit into my theology, were things that someone holding my theology just would never think to say.

    It’s an interesting perspective (though, as you seem to allow, the explanatory power of Protestantism can beat for others that of Catholicism, which can leave everybody staring at each other).

    But it just still seems to have so much Protestantism about it, i.e. using a fair bit of private judgment, i.e. squaring up MY theology with the Bible. So I can’t help but wonder what a Bryan Cross would have to say about it. Nothing so far that I am aware of, which confirms my basic sense that the apologetic paradigm is: when someone uses his faculties to read the Bible and arrives at Catholic conclusions, it’s kosher. But when he does the same and arrives at Protestant conclusions, he’s not simply wrong but has made himself his own autonomous authority. And so Cross and others who take this tack read very much like the theomomists who say there is only theonomy or autonomy. Where is the middle button? And much like the way the revivalists accused their confessionalist critics of being unconverted, without a more charitable taxonomy of right and wrong, how does one have any chance to respond when any pushback is understood to flow from degeneracy or autonomy? How is this game not rigged?

  529. August 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Jason,

    I want to clarify something potentially provocative, that I said, in comment 514.

    “Something just doesn’t seem right to me.”

    I have grave reservations about how we are handling theological truth in these blogs and comments. Maybe you are all seminary trained, and what you all are doing is simply over my head.

    But for me, to jump in, and see all that is going on (I would have never known who you were, if not for someone who read a Christology book that I liked, recommended I check his blog, one thing leads to another, etc etc) in the thick of it, it has been eye opening, to say the least.

    I’m as guilty as anyone here, if there is a problem with engaging people over theological matters, in this way. Just what’s worth knowing is that I am taking all that I read and learn about what is going on, in these forums, to my local church leadership. That doesn’t mean anything is going to happen, or that you should stop. I’m not a tattle tale. But as someone who enjoys learning theology, this is an interesting wrinkle in my learning process, to find you, and all you bloggers, doing what you do, and how you do it.

    Not saying anything, other than, acknowledging that learning how theology is done over the internet, has been an experience.

    Peace
    AB

  530. August 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Does everyone know BC is posting Ferguson and Sproul, and commenting? Check out BC:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/07/ecclesial-deism/#comment-37213

  531. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Jason,

    both Catholics and Protestants believe that the rudimentary elements of their theology were there in the preaching and teaching that led to the writing of the NT, right?

    Right. But I just wanted to say (and maybe I’m just stating the obvious here) that this preaching and teaching that formed the foundation of the Christian faith (the “deposit of the faith” in Catholic verbiage) is the Scriptures for the Protestant, but includes the oral tradition of the Apostles for the Catholic.

    So it seems best to focus on that before we allow things to get more complex..

    So the “that” we are focusing on is not entirely the same for Protestant and Catholic, no?

  532. dgwired said,

    August 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Jason, by this standard, “What previously-held views on the part of the author would have given rise to a statement like this?” (#511), Eastern Orthodoxy makes more sense than Rome. At least with the Orthodox church you don’t have to do cartwheels to account for papal infallibility, which when you read the Bible, looks pretty far fetched.

  533. Bob S said,

    August 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    519 But as I pointed out above, the notion that “if x causes y at time t, then z does not cause y at t” is something even your own paradigm rejects, because it would mean that at the moment a person is being justified by faith, Christ is not causing that person’s justification.

    See also the same in 470 & 480

    As in good grief, do the idiocies never cease?
    Did it ever occur to the flim flam man that faith is in Christ after all?

    IOW the prince of the exegetes still has to falsify the argument.

    Falsify? Argument?
    What are you talking about?
    Didn’t you know? Faith, man, faith is the thing to drink for those whom it hurts to think.

  534. sean said,

    August 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Shoot, if we’re gonna compare paradigms and authority structure, particularly as it applies to the Jesus(gospels) vs. Pauline play going on. Let’s do ‘Treaty structure’ of the NT, which gives the protestant the ‘constitutional’ specifity of regard for the Pauline epistles, the historical preamble consideration of the gospels and the definitive authority of the NT canon that can’t be altered or added to by the vassal recipient(the community of faith or canonical community, whichever you prefer).

  535. August 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Is that Roman Catholic language, Sean? Almost everything you mention,I’ve never heard of. Scratch that…I don’t recognize any of it.

    Are you looking to discuss the protestant doctrine of Scripture? Have you heard of the Westminster Confession of Faith? I don’t mean to demean, its just, since finding that document in my own faith journey, I tend to make arguments along the lines that are delineated there. I can email you a link to chapter 1.

    Its a good read,
    Andrew

  536. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    A little fresh breeze from Calvin, Book 4:

    Here then is the difference. They place the authority of the Church without the word of God; we annex it to the word, and allow it not to be separated from it. And is it strange if the spouse and pupil of Christ is so subject to her Lord and master as to hang carefully and constantly on his lips?

    and…

    Hence Chrysostom most shrewdly observes, “Many boast of the Holy Spirit, but with those who speak their own it is a false pretence. As Christ declared that he spoke not of himself (John 12:50; 14:10), because he spoke according to the Law and the Prophets, so, if anything contrary to the Gospel is obtruded under the name of the Holy Spirit, let us not believe it. For as Christ is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets, so is the Spirit the fulfillment of the Gospel” (Chrysost. Serm. de Sancto et Adorando Spiritu.)

    Now back to the regularly scheduled programming…

  537. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    And…

    In other words, if faith depends upon the word of God alone, if it regards and reclines on it alone, what place is left for any word of man? He who knows what faith is can never hesitate here, for it must possess a strength sufficient to stand intrepid and invincible against Satan, the machinations of hell, and the whole world. This strength can be found only in the word of God. Then the reason to which we ought here to have regard is universal: God deprives man of the power of producing any new doctrine, in order that he alone may be our master in spiritual teaching, as he alone is true, and can neither lie nor deceive. This reason applies not less to the whole Church than to every individual believer.
    – Calvin

  538. August 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Good words, JSM, if I can be so bold to state.

    BC critiqued the RC Sproul link I put here on GB yesterday. My comment is “waiting moderation,” so instead, I posted my response to BC on my google+ post section.

    I stated earlier that C2C deleted my comments. I think they may have put my comment back in, they just added it to my earlier comment. No biggee, but it does read weird.

    Indeed. regularly scheduled programming, I think they are playing “Fletch.”

    Andrew

  539. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Where’s Fletch when we need him? You can call me Jack.
    ;)

  540. August 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks, Jack. I seriously haven’t seen it. But that will be solved tonight. Oh, and those C2C folk, they let my comment through. Sorry as always for my pervasive typos.

    You are in a good denomination, the PCA. I need to learn to let up on you guys…

    Grace and peace,
    Andrew

  541. sean said,

    August 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Andrew B,

    Jason will know what I’m talking about. I recommend to you Meredith Kline; Treaty of The Great King, Kingdom Prologue and The Structure of Biblical Authority. Set aside a few months and go slowly.

  542. August 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    PS Santa Barbara, huh Jack?

    If you know Doug Harley, pastor at El Camino OPC in Goleta, and you ever see him, tell him Andrew says hi.. and that I’ll take another gin martini anytime he wants to have me come by.

    Presbyterians…sheesh :-)

  543. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    OPC, a Machen-man.

    Jack

  544. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I know Pastor Doug quite well. He is the pastor of our church. I will give him your greetings.

  545. August 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    He was my first OP pastor from 2001 to 2004, when I was at UCSB. I visit that church often. Tell Jim, Mac, Al, Rinco, hello, from Andrew and Heather Buckingham. I’ll email Doug about all this GB stuff, he always likes hearing from me…peace.

  546. jsm52 said,

    August 27, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Pastor Doug is a good man and a faithful servant of God. I will pass on your greetings.

  547. Bob S said,

    August 28, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Some things never change.
    Over at Old Life on the Canonical Deism thread, the king of the philosophers and the prince of the exegetes has been so bold to patronize our credulity and inform us repeatedly that to appeal to Scripture is to presuppose protestantism before he finally took his bat and ball and stalked home in a huff.

    Now a CtC intern(?) wants to avoid the “tragic shortcut” of discussing the treasury of merit or the assumption of Mary here.

    (But didn’t the same thing also happen here on the Argument for the Papacy thread? Any attempt by protestants to appeal to Scripture, much more make a case that Scripture itself dictates the same was met with more table pounding, rote accusation and raw assertion that this was circular reasoning and begging the question.)

    Still to repeat the obvious, when the Book of Romans is the clearest, longest and most detailed exposition of the gospel and after that Galatians, to balk and insist on the gospels or what? the Book of Jude as the controlling paradigm, much more some speculative scenario that neither contradicts or confirms the Scripture dreamt up in some post modernist graduate seminar is the position of a hypocritical and pious unbelief.

    Further, no amount of buffalo breath, bullying or accusations of ad hoc ad hominens can deflect that.

    Or links to long winded digressions masquerading as timely excursus over at CtC that in reality obscure the issue like a haystack a needle.

    IOW carry on, Mr. Stellman. Keep pushing that rope of congruency into a straight line, please. As you suggest, we will have plenty of time to address further instances of Roman apostacy and declension later.

  548. Bob S said,

    August 28, 2012 at 2:37 am

    much more some speculative scenario that neither contradicts or confirms the Scripture that might as well have been dreamt up in some post modernist graduate seminar instead of the mental bowels of the Roman hierarchy of naturally religious men, is the position of a hypocritical and pious unbelief.

  549. August 28, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Fletch is a good movie, I found myself “lol-ing”

    rhymes with “trolling”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaqC5FnvAEc

    mr. underhill…thanks green baggins, for quite a show :-)

  550. August 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    “I recommend to you Meredith Kline”

    Sean,

    I’ve been meaning to get into Dr. Kline. I’ve heard good things, from people in my church who took his classes at WSCAL.

    Peace.

  551. August 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Jack,

    I just don’t see a case from Scripture for an ongoing-justification-lens, especially when R and G make a clear case, in my view, against it, i.e. they present a one-time Justification through faith in Christ apart from works.

    What do you think of the case I made from Romans, Hebrews, Genesis, and James? I think I addressed it to Jeff in the Response thread, and then I posted it again in this one.

    If a believer is already made righteous, ala Rome, through infused righteousness by baptism, then what does this verse mean or point to?

    Likewise, if the believer is reckoned righteous by faith in Christ, i.e. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him by faith, then what does the following mean?

    For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. (Gal. 5:5)

    For me, this beats math…

    It’s your view that that verse poses a problem for, for if the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to me once for all when I first exercise faith, then why would I need to express a “hope” that I will receive that righteousness in the future?

    On the other hand, for a Catholic it makes perfect sense, for justification is something received initially and then subsequently grown in, until our final justification on the last day.

    So again, the once-for-all imputation paradigm fails to explain the biblical data (or at least forces its adherents to accept a proposition from Paul that they themselves, because of their paradigm, would never think to say). I mean, if you have a statement from a sermon where the minister talks about hoping to receive Christ’s righteousness some time in the future, I’d love to hear it!

  552. August 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Zrim,

    the apologetic paradigm is: when someone uses his faculties to read the Bible and arrives at Catholic conclusions, it’s kosher. But when he does the same and arrives at Protestant conclusions, he’s not simply wrong but has made himself his own autonomous authority.

    Funny, I was taught for three years at WSC about the dangers of “biblicism,” which essentially meant any use of the Bible to come to the wrong conclusion! When the correct conclusions were reached, that was called “exegesis.”

  553. August 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Interesting to hear about that, Jason.

    Oh, and I’m learning what is and is not allowable over at C2C. Just so you know, Jason, I don’t think they let you talk Fletch over there…

    great movie!

  554. August 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Meaning, my comments, are being blocked.

    Happy blogging, people!

  555. August 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Andrew McC,

    I had written, “… both Catholics and Protestants believe that the rudimentary elements of their theology were there in the preaching and teaching that led to the writing of the NT, right?” and you responded:

    Right. But I just wanted to say (and maybe I’m just stating the obvious here) that this preaching and teaching that formed the foundation of the Christian faith (the “deposit of the faith” in Catholic verbiage) is the Scriptures for the Protestant, but includes the oral tradition of the Apostles for the Catholic.

    But we would both agree that, prior to the writing of any NT book (let alone the completion and recognition of the canon) there was apostolic preaching and teaching that, along with the OT, comprised the deposit of faith, yes?

    Now, it would probably be way off-topic for me to ask you where from Scripture you get the idea that, once the last apostle died, all the oral teaching they gave the churches ceased to be a part of the deposit, so I’ll drop it.

    So the “that” we are focusing on is not entirely the same for Protestant and Catholic, no?

    So what? I am playing by your rules here, aren’t I? I have not appealed to any extra-canonical authorities, which is why your question is a red herring.

    My point is very simple: The basics of the Catholic understanding of the gospel—justification by faith plus Spirit-wrought works of love—is found in all the NT writers, and therefore it makes sense to see that summary as a working paradigm that the writers had when they wrote the NT in the first place.

  556. Bob S said,

    August 28, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    552
    It’s your view that that verse poses a problem for, for if the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to me once for all when I first exercise faith, then why would I need to express a “hope” that I will receive that righteousness in the future?

    Somebody’s roman slip is showing,JJS. Again for the record, protestants believe in imputation, not,/b> infusion. Believers await that actual full righteousness in Christ upon their death and glorification.
    Romanists already have it so they don’t have to wait for it.

    Better recheck that infallible paradigm of yours again.

    cheers

  557. August 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    But for the record, I was talking good about Sproul, not Fletch, at C2C. C2C needs to be exposed, more, for what they are doing. I’ll take all this to my church. Peace.

  558. Bob S said,

    August 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    556 My point is very simple: The basics of the Catholic understanding of the gospel—justification by faith plus Spirit-wrought works of love—is found in all the NT writers, and therefore it makes sense to see that summary as a working paradigm that the writers had when they wrote the NT in the first place.

    The assertion is mistaken, not proven. Further “the basics of the Catholic understanding of the gospel—justification by faith plus Spirit-wrought works of love—is found” in the heart of the sinful natural man, albeit religious.
    Therefore it makes sense to see that summary as a working paradigm for the natural man when he reads the Scripture.

  559. jsm52 said,

    August 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Hey Jason,

    if the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to me once for all when I first exercise faith, then why would I need to express a “hope” that I will receive that righteousness in the future?

    Actually, I think it makes perfect sense. The way I see it, the Roman Catholic isn’t so much by faith waiting for the hope of righteousness as cooperating and progressing to the final goal of attaining complete righteousness.

    Whereas Paul is saying that, being justified by faith, we are now cleansed of our sins and clothed or covered with Christ’s perfect righteousness, which covering we receive and possess through faith in Him. I still sin and will continue to sin until the day I die. Yet by faith I stand secure before the throne of grace because Jesus my Advocate, by His sacrifice and merit, mediates my sin before that throne. Why the hope? That with the resurrection of the body, on that day when I see Him as He is, I shall be made like Him, i.e. confirmed in a righteousness which He purchased with His own blood.

    Doxology:

    And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests… (Rev. 5:9-10)

  560. August 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Bob S,

    I just thought you should know that it has literally been weeks since I even glanced at a single thing you’re written to me. Maybe your goal is to rally the troops behind you as you insult people with your mockery and snark, in which case, by all means proceed with your project. I’m sure Jesus is very proud.

    But if your goal is to engage me, then I just thought I’d save you some time by letting you know that when I see your name, I just scroll on down. Your behavior gives this blog a bad reputation, which is why I only engage the people here who display a bit of Christianity toward me.

    Oh, and whatever response you write? I’ll be ignoring that, too.

  561. August 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Jack,

    The way I see it, the Roman Catholic isn’t so much by faith waiting for the hope of righteousness as cooperating and progressing to the final goal of attaining complete righteousness.

    Kind of like how Paul “pressed toward the goal so that, if possible, [he] may attain to the resurrection from the dead”? Either Paul’s self-description in Phil. 3 contradicts what he says in Gal. 5 about waiting for the hope of righteousness, or the two are not mutually exclusive (in which case your comment presents a false dilemma).

  562. Zrim said,

    August 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Funny, I was taught for three years at WSC about the dangers of “biblicism,” which essentially meant any use of the Bible to come to the wrong conclusion! When the correct conclusions were reached, that was called “exegesis.”

    So Frame’s book really was “In Defense of Something Close to The Wrong Conclusion”? But that assessment seems to me a little cynical. The danger of Biblicism is to elevate the individual self above Scripture (the mirror error of elevating the collective self above it). But I think Protestants would acknowledge that it’s possible to employ Biblicism and still come to the right exegetical conclusion (or be Reformed and come to the wrong one), and that here is such a thing as Reformed narcissism, i.e. “I’m Reformed, I think X, therefore X is Reformed.” My point here is that Catholicism as Cross represents it doesn’t seem able to concede that there might be such a thing as Catholic eisegesis. Prots can admit we could be wrong, but to hear Cross tell it, it’s absolutely impossible over there. So I ask again, How is this whole discussion not rigged in your favor?

  563. Bryan Cross said,

    August 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Jack (re: #560)

    In the agape paradigm, agape in us is ordered to union with the Beloved, because it is already a participation in the Beloved. So the hope of righteousness is the hope to be no longer seeing through a glass darkly, but face to face. Hence the saints long for His coming, saying maranatha; come Lord Jesus. In addition, we know that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13). In this way, as we pray for His Kingdom to come, we are praying for the fullness of righteousness to cover the earth, when all creation is restored to its rightful order, injustice is removed from the earth, death is put away, creation no longer groans, concupiscence is removed, and even the possibility of sin is removed.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  564. August 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I would post on C2C as well, if not for being banned:

    “What everyone is doing here is public. You have no idea who is reading these comments. Only an internet connection is required. When a person puts forth theological truth, without proper credentials being known, there is danger for great harm. Those that engage in “guys talking theology,” to me, evidence their disregard for the seriousness of the Truth that they, to me, so flippantly put aside, for reasons I do not yet know. Although, I think the main driver, is for people to be a showman about their learning. And I just wish people found better things to do with their time than stir up strife and potentially cause harm to unknown readers.”

    Lane?

  565. August 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Zrim,

    The danger of Biblicism is to elevate the individual self above Scripture (the mirror error of elevating the collective self above it). But I think Protestants would acknowledge that it’s possible to employ Biblicism and still come to the right exegetical conclusion (or be Reformed and come to the wrong one), and that here is such a thing as Reformed narcissism, i.e. “I’m Reformed, I think X, therefore X is Reformed.”

    If I had attempted to demonstrate from Scripture that some tenet of the Reformed system of doctrine was wrong, I would have been warned about biblicism and reminded of the need to read the Bible through the lens of the WS/3FU. So essentially what biblicism meant was reading the Bible in such a way as to say that my fallible conclusions trumped the fallible conclusions of Calvin, Ursinus, or the Westminster Divines.

    My point here is that Catholicism as Cross represents it doesn’t seem able to concede that there might be such a thing as Catholic eisegesis. Prots can admit we could be wrong, but to hear Cross tell it, it’s absolutely impossible over there. So I ask again, How is this whole discussion not rigged in your favor?

    Steve, you can keep beating your favorite drums all you want, but I think that if you set aside your canned responses and actually let Bryan speak for himself, you’ll see they often miss the point.

    Bryan has said hundreds of times over the past several years here that there is no charism protecting his own personal positions on anything, but that it is the official pronouncements of the Church that are so protected. And it’s not that his personal interpretations trump yours, it’s that all of ours are trumped by the teachings of the Church Christ founded.

    This is off-topic, so I’ll give you the last word on this if you want it.

  566. johnbugay said,

    August 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Jason 566:

    … the teachings of the Church Christ founded…

    Tell me again how you know what this church looked like, back in the day? (Say, the 30s, 40s, and 50s AD?)

  567. August 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Knowledge of the power which creates and limits existence is not theoretical knowledge but is the knowledge which breaks in on us in critical moments of our existence itself. We never have it as a lasting possession or a latent insight; rather, it has to keep on making its way in the face of all temptations which continually arise out of existence, giving one the illusion that he is captain of his soul and master of his fate – even if by virtue of that very insight. Faith in God is continually being stifled by the cares of each day that lay hold of us, by wishes and plans, by the passions that drive us to pleasure, and from one pleasure to another; or by living together, which is always in danger of losing its real character as a community of free and solitary persons,

    and of deteriorating into a clamor of voices weakening us and deceiving us about our solitariness,

    a clamor in which we are distracted and lose ourselves and even join in it.

    -Rudolf Bultmann, from essay, “The Crisis of Faith”

  568. August 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    John,

    As I said to Zrim, that question is off-topic (which is why I said I’d drop the issue after he responds, if he wants to).

    PS – I don’t identify the essence of the church by “what it looks like.”

  569. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Andrew B.

    It’s a reasonable question. In my particular case, I am a ruling elder in the PCA, seminary trained (Chesapeake and RTS DC); and I engage in this particular discussion because I believe it is good and right to defend Reformed doctrine in the face of Catholic attempts to convert our teaching elders.

    I also feel some appreciation for Jason and would pull him back from the edge if possible — though it seems that I’m grabbing at his shirt hems on the way down.

  570. August 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Well, we in the OPC don’t operate this way.

    Signing off,
    Andrew

  571. sean said,

    August 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Zrim says;

    “My point here is that Catholicism as Cross represents it doesn’t seem able to concede that there might be such a thing as Catholic eisegesis. Prots can admit we could be wrong, but to hear Cross tell it, it’s absolutely impossible over there. ”

    Jason,

    It doesn’t sound like Zrim’s going after Bryan’s personal interpretation, but how Cross rightly represents the magisterium’s position on it’s declarations and interpretations of the deposit. Seems like a fair rebut. I also concede that you’ve gotten pigeonholed as well at different times. But, that shouldn’t be used to marginalize Zrim’s point.

    I also think it needs to be acknowledged that the answer to John Bugay’s question (#567) is no more and no less than an act of faith on your and Bryan’s part. In fact, it’s a supernaturally aided one from the RC paradigm. If not, it would lack the certainty that’s trying be put forth by the CTC crowd. I don’t share it, but if we’re going to talk paradigms that’s a rather large pivot point.

  572. August 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    PS

    “The best theology would need no advocates: it would prove itself.”

    -Karl Barth

    I’ll refrain from pulling out my Tillich, just yet. Peace.

  573. Bryan Cross said,

    August 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Zrim, (re: #563)

    So I ask again, How is this whole discussion not rigged in your favor?

    The Pharisees could have said the same to Jesus, “You claim to be the Son of God and all that, and therefore infallible and omniscient and stuff, so how is this whole discussion not rigged in your favor?” To which, apparently (given your presuppositions), Jesus would have had to respond, “You are so totally right. I’m being unfair, and unjust, rigging the discussion this way by attributing infallibility to myself. That would really handicap you in an exegetical debate with me. I’m sorry. I guess if we’re going to have a discussion about what Scripture means, and whether I am the Messiah promised in Scripture, I’m first going to have to concede that I’m fallible, and maybe not the Son of God.”

    Of course the intelligent observer to this discussion will note that if Jesus were a charlatan, then his claim to be infallible would not rig the discussion, because it would not prevent the demonstration of his errors. On the other hand, if Jesus were in fact Who He claimed to be, then being unable to falsify His claims and positions is precisely what should be expected. The whole idea that Jesus must give up His claim to infallibility in order to have a ‘fair’ discussion with men presupposes that there can be no fair or just discussions between an infallible God and a fallible man. In other words, it presupposes atheism. But that’s not something a theist should concede in the first place, because it is a question-begging presupposition against the theist. So likewise, and for the same reason, the notion that one cannot have a ‘fair’ or ‘just’ discussion with a Church that claims to be infallible under certain conditions, is also a question-begging presupposition against the Catholic.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  574. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 28, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    JJS: If I had attempted to demonstrate from Scripture that some tenet of the Reformed system of doctrine was wrong, I would have been warned about biblicism and reminded of the need to read the Bible through the lens of the WS/3FU.

    I sure hope that’s not what’s being taught.

    There is a crystal-clear distinction between deductive arguments from authority

    (WS says the Bible says X, so the Bible says X)

    and inductive arguments from authority

    (WS says the Bible says X, and the WS is the collective wisdom of the church, so it has high likelihood of being right. Check your work and make an overture to Presbytery).

    The former, the deductive argument, is wrong. It is a logical fallacy, and it usurps the authority of Scripture, because the WS is the final arbiter of truth.

    The latter leaves place for Scripture to be the final word.

    Jason, the whole notion of “who is the highest authority” is a mistake whose outcome is radical skepticism towards objective truth and radical fideism towards the Church. It is intellectually abusive, because the recipient of that argument is made to feel in rebellion against God for having the temerity to act like a Berean.

    Think about it: Can a bad argument become good, just because the Church makes it? Can a good argument become bad, just because Joe churchgoer makes it?

    Arguments are anonymous. A bad argument is still bad, regardless of whether Augustine or the pope makes it. A sound argument is sound, regardless of whether the pope or his cook makes it — or even “Anon.”

    The proper function of Church authority is to be subordinate to the truth, not to create it. The proper end of Church authority is move us towards the unity of the faith, not to shut down Bible reading unsanctioned by the Holy See.

    Tell me you don’t get the creeps when you hear talk of the RC church “defining” orthodoxy! Can the Church really create truth?

    You write, And it’s not that [Bryan's] personal interpretations trump yours, it’s that all of ours are trumped by the teachings of the Church Christ founded.

    This assumes that the teachings of the Church that Christ founded are infallible. You have no way of defending that premise outside of appealing to the teachings of the RC church or the EO church or the Mormon church — a manifestly circular argument.

    It further assumes that you or anyone else knows, outside of Scripture, which teachings of the Church are genuine, and which are whisper-down-the-lane. And if the teaching about papal infallibility happens to be one of those whisper-down-the-lanes, the whole edifice falls.

    You have no actual knowlege, no documents from the 1st century to point to that demonstrate, “Perpetual virginity was taught by the Church that Christ founded.” All there is are documents several hundred years after the fact that, of a sudden *poof*, claim knowlege, and make weak arguments for that knowledge.

    As a standard for knowledge, that’s far worse than Barton.

    So you have this double problem: You claim an epistemic weight for the teachings of the Church that cannot be borne (unless they were the word of God himself, in which case they would be Scripture). And, you can’t actually point with knowledge to a list of the true teachings of the Church, outside of the Scriptures. Sure, the Church teaches things now. But are they actually part of the apostolic deposit? Is the filioque?

    Sure, people will fill that void for you. But what do they actually know, and how do they know it? The “highest interpretive authority” argument bullies us into feeling bad for asking that question, but it’s the right question to ask.

    Don’t forget Grima, speaking for Theoden. He who claims to be the infallible interpreter wields the real authority.

    Please walk away. Even if you become convinced of Catholic soteriology from the Scriptures, don’t get sucked into this epistemology.

  575. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Bryan (#574), If the pope were God, it would be reasonable to make that analogy.

    But the pope is human. The church is made of human beings, all of whom have a sin nature — and demonstrate that fact regularly.

    Without sinlessness, there can be no claim to epistemological perfection.

    To the Pharisees, Jesus made a risky challenge: “Charge me with sin, if there’s anything to charge.” (John 8.46).

    Is the RC church willing to make that same challenge to demonstrate its authority?

  576. Bryan Cross said,

    August 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm<