Response to Jason Stellman, Part 2

Jason’s comments are here. He says (first quoting passages from Galatians, then his own words):

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace…. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love…. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” … But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…. But the fruit of the Spirit is love…. the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (vv. 5:4, 6, 14, 16, 22; 6:8)

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.”

By way of response, I would point to Galatians 3:1-6, which proves that the gift of the Spirit comes by faith through hearing. And what IS the gift of the Spirit? Well, it has several components to it. Union with Christ is the over-arching category (see Ephesians 1:3-14). Within that category is justification and sanctification. With that structure in mind, we ask this question: for what does “faith working through love” avail? While Jason does not specifically answer this question, he does seem to point in the direction that it avails for obtaining eternal life. I would answer that the text is saying that faith working through love avails for the hope of righteousness. The hope means that it is something we do not have yet. What is the hope of righteousness? It is the thing for which righteousness hopes. This implies that we have the righteousness now, but we do not have the thing for which righteousness hopes, which is glorification. The thing that counts is faith. It is gratuitous to assume here that “faith working through love” is actually just one idea. As Phil Ryken says in his commentary, “faith is faith and love is love.” The passage certainly says that you cannot separate faith and love. But that does not mean that we are justified by faith formed by love. The thing that avails is faith, and that faith, in addition to justifying by its instrumentality, also works through love. Why, then, did Paul add the phrase “working through love?” It is because he is opposing the idea of faith working through love to the idea of circumcision in verses 3, 6, and verse 7 (through the implied antagonists). In other words, Paul adds the thought of faith working through love in order to tell us that it must be a genuine faith, not one that relies on external things like circumcision, or baptism, hem, hem.

Next up is Jason’s treatment of 2 Peter 1. He says:

All the elements of Jesus’ and John’s and Paul’s paradigm are there: God’s divine power causes us to partake of the divine nature (Peter’s way of talking about what Paul speaks of in terms of the indwelling of the Spirit of the risen Christ). He then says that our faith, far from being alone, is supplemented with spiritual virtues, the final and greatest of which is “love.” Finally, he says that we must “practice these qualities,” for “in this way” we will gain our eternal inheritance.

A couple of things I could say in response to this. I agree with the equation of Peter’s language concerning “partaking of the divine nature” with Paul’s language of the indwelling of the Spirit (I might also include union with Christ, though I doubt Jason would have a problem with that). But then Jason says something with which I agree, but maybe not with the same slant. He says that faith must be supplemented. I agree. But doesn’t that mean that faith is one thing, and the things that accompany it are other things, at least distinct, even if not inseparable? Lastly, what is the way in which we obtain the eternal inheritance? The immediate context of the statement is not the virtues that Peter listed, but rather the idea of not falling. The passive voice of “will be supplied” in 2 Peter 1:11 is important here, as well. It is probably a divine passive, with God the implied subject. And who makes the calling and the election? We can add to our assurance, but not to our hope, for as 1 Peter says, we were born again to a living hope. We do not give ourselves the new birth any more than we gave ourselves physical birth. We enter into the eternal state not because of our works, but not without our works, since they are the inevitable result of God’s grace. 2 Peter is not saying that we gain an entrance into the eternal state because of what we do. Otherwise, why would he write 2 Peter 1:3, wherein ALL things necessary for life and godliness are given to us as a gift?

Lastly, Jason speaks of James 2: 8, 12-13:

James here speaks of a “royal law” which he also calls “the law of liberty.” If we love our neighbor by showing him mercy, we are placing ourselves under this law of liberty in order to be judged by it, the end result of which will be the triumph of mercy over judgment.

I would point out firstly that verse 10 completely negates the Romanist distinction between mortal and venial sins. Any sin against any one of the Ten Commandments, no matter how small, is a sin against the entire law, and is therefore mortal. There are ever and only mortal sins, no venial sins. Secondly, the question is not whether we are under the law, but in what way we are under it? Are we under it as a covenant of works? Or has Christ fulfilled the covenant of works, thus changing our relationship to the law so that it is now our guide and source of wisdom? Jason does not really address this question, but it is vital, because if we are still under it as an obligation to obey such that we will obtain eternal life by so doing, then Jason’s overall point is established. If, however, as Galatians clearly teaches us, we are not under the law in that way, but are under the law as a way of showing our gratitude for salvation obtained in another way, then Jason’s point is not proven at all. So far, I have not seen any convincing evidence that Jason’s new paradigm is more scriptural.

About these ads

63 Comments

  1. Nick said,

    September 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    You said something that I think could have serious theological ramifications if not clarified: “In other words, Paul adds the thought of faith working through love in order to tell us that it must be a genuine faith, not one that relies on external things like circumcision, or baptism, hem, hem.”

    By this logic, backing up a verse (5:4), you would be implying baptism can sever one from Christ just as circumcision is said to. So if you are lumping in baptism with circumcision, then that’s a problem.

    Then again, it’s not clear to me how Paul can speak of “falling from grace” and “severed from Christ” if the believer cannot lose his salvation.

  2. September 25, 2012 at 3:33 am

    Hey Lane,

    I may opt to respond to this on my blog, cool?

  3. Dennis said,

    September 25, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Lane,

    I would point out firstly that verse 10 completely negates the Romanist distinction between mortal and venial sins. Any sin against any one of the Ten Commandments, no matter how small, is a sin against the entire law, and is therefore mortal. There are ever and only mortal sins, no venial sins.

    No, that’s not correect. This does not negate mortal/venial sins. Any sin against the Ten Commandments is considered grave and therefore a mortal sin. So, yes. You are correct–which is why skipping mass on Sunday would be considered grave and thus mortal. However, per 1 John 5:16-17, there are sins that are not “deadly” and those would be venial.

  4. David Gadbois said,

    September 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Nick said By this logic, backing up a verse (5:4), you would be implying baptism can sever one from Christ just as circumcision is said to.

    Why is that unthinkable? Indeed, if one approaches baptism as a means of self-justification, as the Judaizers did with circumcision, then one is indeed severed from Christ.

    Then again, it’s not clear to me how Paul can speak of “falling from grace” and “severed from Christ” if the believer cannot lose his salvation.

    Various forms of grace and covenantal connection with Christ come to all within the visible church, including those who never have experienced personal salvation (i.e. regeneration, justification, etc.).

    Dennis said Any sin against the Ten Commandments is considered grave and therefore a mortal sin….However, per 1 John 5:16-17, there are sins that are not “deadly” and those would be venial.

    You have to run off to an epistle of John to buttress your case, but James has no such mortal/venial distinction here. Indeed, in 2:10 James is talking about failing to keep one point out of the “whole law”, not just the Ten Commandments (although the Ten Commandments are a summary of the whole moral law). There is no other class of sins that fall outside this scope.

  5. Dennis said,

    September 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    David,

    Why is that unthinkable? Indeed, if one approaches baptism as a means of self-justification, as the Judaizers did with circumcision, then one is indeed severed from Christ.

    It’s unthinkable because Paul explains to us in Galatians 3 that those who are baptized are “clothed in Christ.” (v.27). When Paul says “in Christ” he’s referring to those who are baptized as we are baptized into Christ’s death. Regardless of the approach to baptism, there is a grace and a unity with Christ by God that is received. Severing from Christ doesn’t come through baptism. It comes through sin.

    You have to run off to an epistle of John to buttress your case, but James has no such mortal/venial distinction here. Indeed, in 2:10 James is talking about failing to keep one point out of the “whole law”, not just the Ten Commandments (although the Ten Commandments are a summary of the whole moral law). There is no other class of sins that fall outside this scope.

    I think James does make the distinction. James explains in chapter 1 that “desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.” (James 1:15).

    Mortal sin would be the “sin reaching maturity.” At that point, death arrives. There are degrees in which sin does not reach maturity. At that point, it would be venial. If we are sinning and unaware of the grievous nature, we are killing charity but not severing the relationship with God. It’s when the sin matures that death arrives per James.

    We shouldn’t be trying to distinguish what is venial and what is mortal. Sin is sin and we should be contrite regardless of the severity. There are degrees highlighted in Scripture.

  6. David Gadbois said,

    September 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Dennis said Mortal sin would be the “sin reaching maturity.” At that point, death arrives. There are degrees in which sin does not reach maturity. At that point, it would be venial.

    James is positing a distinction between sinful desires, sinful actions, and mature/fully-grown sinful actions. But that doesn’t map onto the Romanist categories of venial and mortal. The CCC says:

    1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”131

    1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”132

    You also say that It’s unthinkable because Paul explains to us in Galatians 3 that those who are baptized are “clothed in Christ.” (v.27).

    Are you implying that *everyone* who has been water baptized is clothed with Christ? I don’t see how that is compatible with even Roman Catholic theology.

    Galatians 3:27 teaches that there is a right way to be baptized, it doesn’t mean that there is no wrong way.

  7. Dennis said,

    September 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    David,

    James is positing a distinction between sinful desires, sinful actions, and mature/fully-grown sinful actions.

    I don’t think James is positing a distinction. I think he’s drawing a correlation that from one’s own desire comes sinful action which leads to death…and NONE of it comes from God (per v. 13)

    But that doesn’t map onto the Romanist categories of venial and mortal.

    I think it does map into Catholic categories. In order for sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met. A. Grave, B. Full knowledge, C. Deliberate. If those three are not met, it’s venial. Once sin has “matured”, it can be argued that all three are met. Before that point, it had not matured and “death” had not occurred. Again, the proper approach would be to view all sin as grave and not try to distinguish and to come to God with a contrite heart for all your sins.

    Are you implying that *everyone* who has been water baptized is clothed with Christ?

    Yes. (CCC 1227)

    Galatians 3:27 teaches that there is a right way to be baptized, it doesn’t mean that there is no wrong way.

    If a person is baptized with water and with the Trinitarian formula (per Matthew 28:19) then the baptism is valid and they are “in Christ” regardless of their faith (Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox). (CCC 1271)

  8. September 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Lane,

    I published a response to the Galatians section, and will respond to the II Peter and James parts soon.

    http://www.creedcodecult.com/2012/09/on-faith-hope-and-love.html

  9. David Gadbois said,

    September 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Dennis said order for sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met. A. Grave, B. Full knowledge, C. Deliberate. If those three are not met, it’s venial. Once sin has “matured”, it can be argued that all three are met.

    The text does not establish this connection. The only similarity between the concepts is that certain sins “lead to death”. The rest you have to project back into the text.

    That some sins “lead to death” and others don’t does not negate what he goes on to say in 2:10, that one is accountable for breaking the whole law if one transgresses only one point of it.

    Are you implying that *everyone* who has been water baptized is clothed with Christ?

    Yes. (CCC 1227)

    That section of the CCC doesn’t seem to address the question. It refers specifically to “the believer.” What about active unbelievers who undergo baptism (we are talking adults here, not infants)? A case could be made from the NT that their baptism is valid, but not that they have “put on Christ.”

    If a person is baptized with water and with the Trinitarian formula (per Matthew 28:19) then the baptism is valid and they are “in Christ” regardless of their faith (Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox). (CCC 1271)

    This section of the catechism, again, doesn’t make a blanket statement regarding everyone who has ever been water baptized. You seem to be saying that true faith is not required . But even this section of the CCC refers to those who are “Justified by faith in Baptism.”

  10. Dennis said,

    September 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    David,

    The text does not establish this connection. The only similarity between the concepts is that certain sins “lead to death”. The rest you have to project back into the text.

    The text establishes that “when sin reaches maturity, it gives birth to death.” From that, I can deduce that there is a point where sin does not reach maturity before death. This would be “venial” in the eyes of the Church.

    that one is accountable for breaking the whole law if one transgresses only one point of it.

    I am in agreement with this. Sin is sin and we should be accountable for all of our sins regardless if our relationship is severed or not. We are accountable to God for all sins. Some sins, however, are deadly and some are not per 1 John.

    What about active unbelievers who undergo baptism (we are talking adults here, not infants)? A case could be made from the NT that their baptism is valid, but not that they have “put on Christ.”

    Well, for Catholics, before one is baptized, they catechumen has to go through one year of RCIA from which they can opt out at any time. The process for preparation is very long and they are free to back out; however, if they receive the sacrament, they are baptized regardless of disposition. For an adult, faith is required (and asked before the baptism) but that faith is expected to be nurtured once they have “put on Christ”.

    If one is an active unbeliever who happens to be baptized, they would still receive the grace however, their faith would not be nurtured as they may not come to God for spiritual nourishment. They would be “pruned” from the branch and wither and die.

    You seem to be saying that true faith is not required

    OK. Now I think I’m seeing where you are coming from. If a person receives the sacrament of Baptism but does not have “true faith” that person STILL receives the grace of Baptism. The only one who can truly judge if that person has true faith or not is God as nobody can peer into this person’s heart. God will still give that person grace; however, if their heart is not receptive to that grace, then they are like the seed who falls on rocky ground and their faith doesn’t take root.

    Is that person truly saved? I don’t know. I’m not God.

  11. Dennis said,

    September 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    David,

    Correction…then they are like the seed who falls on rocky ground and their faith doesn’t take root.

    They are NOT like the seed on rocky ground but rather like the seed that gets eaten by birds…would help if I actually read the parable before commenting.

  12. September 25, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Dennis said From that, I can deduce that there is a point where sin does not reach maturity before death.

    Again, you are just pointing out a single feature, a single similarity, in common with the category James is using. At best this means that there is compatibility, or no gross contradiction, between the Roman dogma of mortal sin, in this immediate passage, but not that this passage establishes it. There is more to the venial/mortal categories than whether the consequence is death or not.

    The appeal to I John 5 makes no sense from the Roman perspective. John has in mind a type of sin that far exceeds the rather common sins outlined under the CCC’s category of mortal sins. The mortal sin bar is far lower than what John has in mind – he even says that there is no mandate to pray for one committing sin leading to death. I trust that, if you committed the mortal sin of skipping mass next Sunday, you would still want and expect your brethren to pray for you.

    If one is an active unbeliever who happens to be baptized, they would still receive the grace however, their faith would not be nurtured as they may not come to God for spiritual nourishment. They would be “pruned” from the branch and wither and die.

    Trent said that sacraments “confer Grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto”, so the ex opere operato efficacy is not as unconditional in the Romanist system as you portray. You could not say that an unbeliever, a heretic or, say, a Mormon (who are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit) have put on Christ. Even the Romanist system must admit that not every single person with a baptism in the Triune Name has put on Christ. But if there are exceptions, then my main point is established – this interpretation of Galatians 3:26 would necessarily prove too much.

    It is much easier to note that 3:26 speaks of being baptized *into Christ*, not into water. All who have been baptized into Christ have indeed put on Christ, without any exception (as the grammar of the verse strongly establishes), but not all who are baptized into water are baptized into Christ.

  13. Steve G said,

    September 26, 2012 at 9:50 am

    “If a person is baptized with water and with the Trinitarian formula (per Matthew 28:19) then the baptism is valid and they are “in Christ” regardless of their faith (Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox). (CCC 1271)”

    That’s not true. Jesus says that many will say to him, “Lord, Lord” and he will say to them, “I never knew you!” I think it would be safe to say that many of them would have been baptized.

    The idea that a mere physical act accompanied by words regardless of what is in your heart makes you “in Christ” defies all sense of what it really means to be “in Christ”. It makes that term meaningless.

  14. Dennis said,

    September 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    David,

    The Catholic Church does not derive their doctrine from Scripture. The doctrine was established by the Apostles and have developed over time. Scripture supports it and doesn’t conflict with it. So, the fact that James doesn’t establish Mortal/Venial sins in his writings doesn’t hinder me from believing it. If his writings conflicted with the teachings, that would be a bigger problem but they don’t which you have pointed out. 1 John 5 also does not conflict with mortal/venial sins. It points that there are two types of sins which the Catholic Church also defines. Again, this does not conflict with Church teaching. The doctrine is not established from Scripture as the Catholic Church is not Sola Scriptura.

    You could not say that an unbeliever, a heretic or, say, a Mormon (who are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit) have put on Christ.

    Mormonism aside, yes. The grace is always given by God in baptism. If a person has an “obstacle” then that person’s heart may not be as receptive to the grace but God’s grace flows from the cross and is freely given regardless of the disposition. If one is baptized, they have “put on Christ.” If they don’t—from that point–abide in Christ then they will not be “in Christ” as their active disobedience will allow them to exit the Body of Christ and thus not be saved.

    Before someone is baptized in the Catholic Church, there is a lengthy process to make sure that they have the proper disposition. If that is not being done on the Protestant side, there may be obstacles to God’s grace but I wouldn’t know that as I’m not Protestant. If there are questions regarding the validity of the Baptism on the Protestant side, a “conditional Baptism” is performed in the Catholic Church but that baptism is only valid if the first baptism were done improperly. (and only God would know that)

    Now, in regards to Mormonism, that is not a valid baptism as the minister’s intent is not the same as the Church’s per the Seventh session of Trent Canon IV on Baptism even though the form and the matter are the same.

    It is much easier to note that 3:26 speaks of being baptized *into Christ*, not into water. All who have been baptized into Christ have indeed put on Christ, without any exception (as the grammar of the verse strongly establishes), but not all who are baptized into water are baptized into Christ.

    At this point, we are probably just talking past each other. If one is baptized with water in the Trinitarian formula by a person intending to baptize “into Christ” then they are “in Christ”

  15. Dennis said,

    September 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Steve G.,

    That’s not true. Jesus says that many will say to him, “Lord, Lord” and he will say to them, “I never knew you!” I think it would be safe to say that many of them would have been baptized.

    Someone asked me a question about that in Part 1. My reply can be found at #963:

    The idea that a mere physical act accompanied by words regardless of what is in your heart makes you “in Christ” defies all sense of what it really means to be “in Christ”. It makes that term meaningless.

    Well, then you need to discuss that with Christ as He established it that way. Christ tells us to “baptize all nations” and Peter tells everyone in Acts to “repent and be baptized” He then explains that it’s Baptism that “now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21)

    We are baptized into the Body of Christ (i.e. the Church) and it’s in the Church that we are saved. Outside of the Body of Christ, there is no salvation.

  16. Steve G said,

    September 26, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Dennis

    Regarding my first point, your analysis does not seem to work. You say that the ones that Christ said he “never” knew are baptized people that call themselves Christians but who are living sinful lives. I don’t necessarily disagree with that. But that doesn’t really address my objection. You say that these people because they were baptized were “in Christ”. I assume that you also mean that they at some point fell away because they are now living sinful lives. The problems with this is that Jesus says he NEVER knew them. How could they have even been “in Christ” if Jesus says he never knew them? You haven’t really explained that.

    As for baptism, your comments above don’t address my point at all. I stated that mere baptism doesn’t make you “in Christ’ if your heart isn’t right. You go on to state that Jesus commanded us to baptize and that Peter said people should repent and be baptized. Yes, they did, but that doesn’t address people being baptized but just going through the motions by any means. Just as faith without works is dead, works without faith is dead. If you get baptized without faith, then baptism avails you for nothing. It’s no different than circumcision. It’s an empty work.

  17. Dennis said,

    September 26, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Steve,

    The problems with this is that Jesus says he NEVER knew them.

    What I’m saying is that these people may have at one time been IN CHRIST but that He never KNEW them…i.e. These people did not have a level of intimacy of the Lord that Christ wants from all members of His Church. They did not love Him the way they were supposed to love Him. You may be close to a friend..but you may not KNOW her in an intimate sense. Are you catching the difference? Christ wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him. The way a spouse has with his wife per Ephesians 5. He wants us to be in friendship with Him. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s a love between a husband and wife.

    To be “in Christ” is more than just being baptized. It’s to be in friendship with Him where we are slaves to Christ and thus slaves of righteousness. It’s to keep His commandments. If we don’t keep His commandments then He doesn’t “know” us regardless of baptism. Baptism is to be “born again”. After that, we must live “in Christ.”

    If you get baptized without faith, then baptism avails you for nothing. It’s no different than circumcision. It’s an empty work.

    No. Baptism is necessary for salvation. It’s to be reborn into Christ. We are baptized into His death and born anew. After being born, we must live “in Christ.” The baptism is the start of newness in faith but then we walk in that faith. Grow in it. It develops and matures as we grow in Christian maturity. We have to nurture our faith after baptism. But we also have to be baptized and it’s not an empty work. It’s how we enter into Christ per Paul.

  18. Steve G said,

    September 27, 2012 at 8:13 am

    “What I’m saying is that these people may have at one time been IN CHRIST but that He never KNEW them”.

    I know you are saying that but sorry, but that makes no sense whatsoever. You can’t be “in Christ’ and yet Christ “never knew you”.

    You give an example where you can have a friend but not “know them in an intimate sense”. But you did “know” them or else they wouldn’t be your friend! Going further that’s not what Jesus said. He didn’t say he didn’t know them in an “intimate sense”, he said he never knew them, period. You’re adding a qualifier to the text that is not there.

    “But we also have to be baptized and it’s not an empty work. It’s how we enter into Christ per Paul.”

    You seem to totally miss my point. Paul also says we have to have faith to enter into Christ. Baptism without faith is an empty work. It has no meaning if there is no faith behind it.

  19. Dennis said,

    September 27, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Steve,

    I know you are saying that but sorry, but that makes no sense whatsoever. You can’t be “in Christ’ and yet Christ “never knew you”.

    Okay. I can appreciate that. I think I’ve explained my understanding enough for you to understand my perspective. Can you please explan how you understand the verse then? I’m curiious as to how a Protestant understands it.

    Paul also says we have to have faith to enter into Christ. Baptism without faith is an empty work.

    I can concede this point as the Church does teach that there has to be some faith from the catechumen (person being baptized) and that faith and baptism go hand in hand. (Or in the event of an infant, the faith of a parent that they will raise the child as a Christian)

    My point is that Baptism is essential.

  20. johnbugay said,

    September 27, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Dennis 19: Based on an exegesis of Ephesians 1:1-14, WTS professor Richard Gaffin teaches that Christians are “in Christ” in three senses of that phrase (in his recent iTunes U course on Christology):

    1. From “before the foundation of the world” (predestined for adoption, Eph 1:4-5);

    2. We are “in Christ” at the cross, when redemption “through his blood” is accomplished (1:7);

    3. When we believe, at which time “we have obtained an inheritance” (1:11).

    This is an exegetical treatment of one passage, which coheres very well with other teachings in Paul and throughout the NT.

    Baptism is not “essential” at any point in this process.

  21. David Gadbois said,

    September 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Dennis said The Catholic Church does not derive their doctrine from Scripture.

    No kidding.

    The doctrine was established by the Apostles and have developed over time

    If the doctrine does not proceed from good and necessary logical consequence of apostolic teaching, then the development does not have apostolic authority.

    So, the fact that James doesn’t establish Mortal/Venial sins in his writings doesn’t hinder me from believing it.

    The whole reason we got into this line of conversation was that you claimed “I think James does make the distinction.”

    The grace is always given by God in baptism

    This is your own opinion, not the teaching of your church. Trent says that there can be obstacles to sacramental grace.

    At this point, we are probably just talking past each other. If one is baptized with water in the Trinitarian formula by a person intending to baptize “into Christ” then they are “in Christ”

    This cannot be substantiated from the text at hand. You are the one who brought up Galatians 3:26, not me. Your claim was “It’s unthinkable [that baptism could be a means of condemnation] because Paul explains to us in Galatians 3 that those who are baptized are “clothed in Christ.” (v.27).”

    My point is that Baptism is essential.

    Even if baptism were essential (which it is not biblically), that would not logically mean it is sufficient, and therefore there would be exceptions where those who were baptized had not put on Christ.

  22. Dennis said,

    September 27, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    David,

    This is your own opinion, not the teaching of your church. Trent says that there can be obstacles to sacramental grace.

    Maybe this is my opinion. Can you cite where it says that there can be obstacles to sacramental grace in baptism?

    I get that you don’t think baptism is essential. I’m pretty sure you know where I’m coming from. Is it really necessary to keep arguing our points?

  23. Dennis said,

    September 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    John,

    Thank you very much for the reference. While I obviously don’t agree with your conclusion, I can get behind most of the rest of it.

    Dennis

  24. David Gadbois said,

    September 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Maybe this is my opinion. Can you cite where it says that there can be obstacles to sacramental grace in baptism?

    http://saints.sqpn.com/ncd06116.htm

  25. Dennis said,

    September 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    David,

    Thank you for the reference. That comes from Session 7 Canon VI:

    CANON VI.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace which they signify; or, that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto…

    First, this is talking about sacraments in general and not specifically baptism. For other sacraments like Eucharist or confession, I would agree with this. Baptism…maybe. As I had already conceded, faith and baptism go hand in hand. There must be at least a little faith in Christ to be baptized (for an adult)

    Secondly, the point of Canon VI isn’t about obstacles it’s about the fact that sacraments confer grace which is my point.

    My point which I’ve been explaining is that the grace is freely given regardless of our disposition (which is also explained in your reference). If our disposition closes ourselves off to the grace, then we produce the obstacle (per Canon VI). Our hearts would be made of stone and the grace cannot penetrate it. It’s not because of God not giving the grace. So, yes. The grace is always given by God. We, however, may have an obstacle in the way (which would be sin).

  26. David Gadbois said,

    September 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Dennis said Our hearts would be made of stone and the grace cannot penetrate it. It’s not because of God not giving the grace

    But that is just another way of saying that they haven’t “put on Christ” . The how’s and why’s of the matter are immaterial – there are some who are baptized who have not put on Christ. And therefore your original appeal to Galatians 3:27 proves too much.

  27. Dennis said,

    September 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    David,

    The obstacles to Baptism would be if the person rejects the Trinity (such as a Mormon) or has ABSOLUTELY NO FAITH in God.

    Any faith, no matter how small it is would be sufficient to receive grace from God and to “put on Christ” in baptism. Your point about a person seeking “self justification” would not “sever” them from Christ. An incomplete view of the sacrament does not prevent grace. So, if a person has a “misunderstanding” about justification or an incomplete view of the Trinity (i.e. they haven’t really contemplated what it means–like most typical Catholics), that is okay.

    Even your reference talks about it:

    According to Trent, therefore, the term opus operatum signifies that the correct use of the sign instituted by Christ produces the grace irrespectively of the merits of either minister or recipient (ex opere operantis), though the intention of conferring the sacrament is required in the minister and the intention of receiving in the recipient, if he be an adult, for a valid and worthy reception of the sacrament.

    This means that it doesn’t matter about the minister or the recipent as long as the intention of giving and receiving the sacrament is there, the grace is given.

    What Canon VI is talking about regarding obstacles to receiving grace in a sacrament are:

    1. Receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin
    2. Giving an incomplete confession (i.e. intentionally withholding a sin from a priest)

  28. David Gadbois said,

    September 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Dennis, I don’t understand what your response is supposed to prove, given that as a Protestant I am morally bound to the Apostle Paul’s understanding of sacramental efficacy, not Trent’s. I brought up Trent’s view as a counterargument to your fallacious appeal to Galatians 3:27. That is to say, it doesn’t work even under RCC premises.

    Regarding the sin of self-justification, Paul does not take the matter as lightly as you do. It was not merely an “incomplete view” or “misunderstanding” for the Judaizers to see the sacrament of circumcision, a divinely-instituted ordinance just as baptism is, as the means of justification, he condemned it as a false gospel. Thus, their faith was false, thus they were not in Christ.

  29. Dennis said,

    September 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    David,

    I think we both understand each others views on this. Arguing tires me out. If you want me to clarify my view, I’m more than happy to clarify more. In regards to arguing, I really don’t see the point as you said, you’re “morally bound to the Apostle Paul’s understanding of sacramental efficacy.”

    I’m okay with that. I wouldn’t try to point out how Calvin is wrong because quite honestly, Calvin’s not that important to me. Why bring up Trent? Does it matter that much to you?

    Regarding the sin of self-justification, Paul does not take the matter as lightly as you do. It was not merely an “incomplete view” or “misunderstanding” for the Judaizers to see the sacrament of circumcision, a divinely-instituted ordinance just as baptism is, as the means of justification, he condemned it as a false gospel. Thus, their faith was false, thus they were not in Christ.

    Paul condemns it as a false gospel because it is a false gospel.

    The Judaizers were trying to convince the Galatians that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Paul calls them stupid as it’s not circumcision that’s necessary as we are united to Christ in Baptism. Through Christ, we are sons of Abraham (as Christ is a son of Abraham) (per Galatians 3:29). We don’t need to be circumcised as Christ was circumcised for us (per Colossians 2:11). We share in His circumcision.

    Circumcision is of no avail.

  30. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Dennis (#29): Paul calls them stupid as it’s not circumcision that’s necessary as we are united to Christ in Baptism. Through Christ, we are sons of Abraham (as Christ is a son of Abraham) (per Galatians 3:29).

    So, I understand that the Catholic position is that baptism is the “sacrament of faith.”

    Do I understand correctly then that when you read this:

    But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

    Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. — Gal 3.22 – 26

    that you interpret it by mentally substituting the word “baptism” for “faith” in its every occurrence, perhaps because of this:

    For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. — Gal 3.27

    Is that the right way to think about the Catholic hermeneutic on this point?

  31. Dennis said,

    September 30, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Jeff,

    that you interpret it by mentally substituting the word “baptism” for “faith” in its every occurrence, perhaps because of this:

    For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. — Gal 3.27

    Is that the right way to think about the Catholic hermeneutic on this point?

    No. That’s not the Catholic way to read the passage. Baptism is a one time event and faith is something that is ongoing over a lifetime.

    For a Catholic, faith is to trust in God’s promise so that you completely submit your intellect and will to God. (CCC 143). It’s to completely trust in God’s promise (the Gospel) so that we have an “obedience of faith” like Abraham (per Romans). Also, faith appears to have multiple meanings in this passage. One is complete submission but when Paul talks about “faith coming” he appears to be talking about Christ’s promise/the Gospel.

    So, a Catholic would read the passage something like this:

    Now before faith (i.e. the Gospel of Christ) came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until faith (i.e. the Gospel of Christ) was revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith (i.e. trusting in the Mosaic law so that you have complete obedience to the Mosaic law) . But now that faith (i.e. the Gospel of Christ) has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith (i.e. trusting in Christ’s promise so that you have complete obedience to Christ).

    So, what this is saying is that before the Gospel (Christ’s promise) came, we submitted ourselves to the Mosaic law (and Circumcision) and were imprisoned by that Mosaic law…justified by following the Mosaic law in faith. Now that Christ has come, He has fulfilled the Mosaic law (per Matthew 5:17) and we are no longer under that law but rather now, we are all sons of God through complete obedience to Christ which then Paul continues to explain is through Baptism per verse 27.

    Am I explaining this clear enough?

  32. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Possibly. So “faith” is “obedience”, as you understand it?

  33. bsuden said,

    September 30, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    29 Why bring up Trent? Does it matter that much to you?

    Come on. Trent is either authoritative for Rome or its not and that includes trumping your – or anybody else’s opinion on what Rome teaches.Unless you can demonstrate that Trent has been over ridden by subsequent official announcements of the magisterium.

    Paul calls them stupid as it’s not circumcision that’s necessary as we are united to Christ in Baptism.

    Rather we are united to Christ by faith as signified by baptism. So the preceding context to Gal. 3:27:

    But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. . . .
    For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
    Gal.3:22,26

    All that believe – not all that are baptized.

    Circumcision is of no avail.

    Neither circumcision in the OT or baptism in the New is of any avail without faith.

    31 Am I explaining this clear enough?

    Unfortunately yes. It is clear that you don’t understand what you are explaining. You understand that circumcision is useless for salvation, but then can’t make the connection when it comes to its replacement by baptism.

  34. Dennis said,

    September 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Jeff,

    So “faith” is “obedience”, as you understand it?

    In essence, yes. God calls man and man responds with faith. Faith is man’s response to God. For a mature Christian, as I mentioned previously, faith is to trust in God’s promise so that you completely submit your intellect and will to God. For someone who has less faith, their response to God will be less than complete submission to Him.

  35. Dennis said,

    September 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    bsuden,

    Unless you can demonstrate that Trent has been overridden by subsequent official announcements of the magisterium.

    I’m not arguing against Trent. Trent’s decrees are still valid and infallible today. I’m asking why does a Protestant care about Trent? It doesn’t make sense to me. I’m okay if a person is Protestant. What’s important is to have a genuine desire for Christ. I am genuinely interested in the Protestant mindset because I don’t understand the paradigm.

    All that believe – not all that are baptized.

    Romans 6:3 explains that when we are “baptized into Christ Jesus” we are baptized into His death. It’s the baptism that unites us to Christ. Galatians continues this telling us that in baptism, we “put on Christ.” Scripture is very clear that we are united to Christ through baptism.

    It is clear that you don’t understand what you are explaining.

    If you don’t agree with me, that’s okay with me. If you’re not understanding what I’m writing then I will continue to explain it to try to clarify it more.

  36. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Dennis (#34): So it would seem that there is no difference between faith and works?

  37. Dennis said,

    October 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Jeff,

    From the Catholic perspective, faith and works have to go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Faith is more than just the obedience though. It’s to trust in His message so that you completely submit intellect and will to Christ. It’s the “obedience of faith.”

    Moreover, Jesus explains to us “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The obedience of faith works through love per Galatians 5:6. As I had mentioned previously, God calls man and man responds to God. God’s call to man was Christ crucified on the cross. It’s a visible sign of love to us per John 3:16 and our response to Christ is love out of obedience to Him. So, first we love Christ (per His command) and then through faith we keep His commandments (out of love).

    The response to God is out of love for a God who loved us first. If our obedience is not out of love–perhaps we are obedient in the hope of “being saved” or we are going to mass out of “obligation” then it is not truly a perfect response. It’s not out of love and is not properly centered. It’s an imperfect faith.

  38. jsm52 said,

    October 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Dennis said:

    So, first we love Christ (per His command) and then through faith we keep His commandments (out of love).

    The response to God is out of love for a God who loved us first. If our obedience is not out of love–perhaps we are obedient in the hope of “being saved” or we are going to mass out of “obligation” then it is not truly a perfect response. It’s not out of love and is not properly centered. It’s an imperfect faith.

    According to Jesus love is keeping the entire law. So your first sentence doesn’t make sense… We keep the commandments of the law and then we, through faith, keep the commandments (out of keeping the law)?

    And you next statement, again is like to the first: if our obedience to the law is not out of keeping the commandments then…

    God first loved us… In the person of Jesus Christ, who kept the commandments, lived a sinless life, and thus offered himself a perfect sacrifice for us sinners. He took our sins and gave us his perfection. That good news slays the hearer and upon faith, believing the news of that amazing grace, he is turned around. His response is out of gratitude for such a free and undeserved gift of salvation, i.e. the love of God.

    Our response is never perfect, even as our lives lived before knowing the grace of God were far from perfect. Rather our trust is in Christ’s provision of cleansing and his perfect obedience. Thus we are led back, again and again, to humble gratitude for such mercy which, by the Holy Spirit, directs us to the path of obedience to God’s commands which is to love God. But my love of God is never what I depend on or what God judges me by, for Christ has become to us

    wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.

  39. Dennis said,

    October 1, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Jack,

    According to Jesus love is keeping the entire law.

    That is not correct. Jesus explains to us that His commandment is to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) The key to the new covenant is love. It’s to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength. It’s not about keeping laws. John reiterates this in his epistles, This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:21). So, through loving God and loving neighbor, we keep His commandments and remain in Him.

    God first loved us… In the person of Jesus Christ, who kept the commandments, lived a sinless life, and thus offered himself a perfect sacrifice for us sinners. He took our sins and gave us his perfection. That good news slays the hearer and upon faith, believing the news of that amazing grace, he is turned around. His response is out of gratitude for such a free and undeserved gift of salvation, i.e. the love of God.

    What you’re describing is a different approach to Scripture than how a Catholic views Scripture. It’s interesting as I can see where the approach can lead to a different paradigm.

    A Catholic’s understanding of Salvation starts with Genesis 3. Adam’s disobedience has deprived man of the Tree of Life and thus eternal life (Genesis 3:22-24). Christ now restores the Tree of Life. The Cross is the new Tree and Christ is the fruit from the Tree. We now eat from the new Tree of Life (His Body) and have eternal life. Through Baptism, we unite ourselves to Christ so that through Him, we achieve salvation. The Catholic understanding is more complex than this but this is a bird’s eye view.

  40. jsm52 said,

    October 2, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Dennis,

    Matt. 22:
    34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

    Love is not a quality or an essence or an energy. It is something one does, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…” For us to love is to keep his commands, for all his commands are summed up in loving God and loving neighbor. Yes God is love, meaning God is selfless and other-centered in all his acts for the other’s good, i.e. he is righteous. To require love as something one must have in order to keep his commands is the same as saying one must keep his commands in order to have love.

    And if love is the keeping of all the law, then on that basis one must love perfectly, i.e. keep the entire law in order to be justified. That is impossible for a fallen creature. Is justification offered by God on another basis?

  41. bsuden said,

    October 2, 2012 at 12:36 am

    35 Yo Den,
    The reason why anybody here at GB brings up Trent is to rein in all the zealous newbie RC proselytes and the not so new, who think their opinion of what their church teaches is binding. FTM you have been hanging around protestant sites long enough and you don’t understand the sola fide/sola scriptura paradigm?

    Baptism is mentioned a total of three times in Romans and Galatians, meanwhile Paul tells us in Rom. 1:17 the just shall live by faith and goes on to wear the word out in expounding what it means. IOW Scripture is very clear about the emphasis and importance of faith. You need to stop parroting the Roman line and start really looking at what the Scripture actually says, in stead of cherry picking and taking things out of context. (As in again, what do the 5 chapters in front of Rom. 6 say about the necessity of . . . . faith in Christ?)

    And yes, I understand what you are saying quite well. It is the typical Roman line. What you don’t realize or apply is that just as circumcision is useless for salvation, so too the NT replacement for circumcision, baptism. You see the one, but balk at the other.

    Or if you prefer, you must be born from above (Jn.3:3) as the Douay version puts it; you must be baptized by the Spirit to be truly baptized into Christ, i.e. believe in him, without which belief your RC baptism is worthless, if not adds to your condemnation.

  42. Sean Patrick said,

    October 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    “Or if you prefer, you must be born from above (Jn.3:3) as the Douay version puts it; you must be baptized by the Spirit to be truly baptized into Christ, i.e. believe in him

    The gospel of St John, Chapter 3 is teaching the sacrament water baptism. Not simply ‘baptism of the Spirit’ as if the baptism of water did not matter. We must be born again of “water AND spirit” according to the words of Jesus.

    I almost cannot believe that you are using that passage as a prooftext against baptismal regeneration. To remove baptism from that passage is to do it serious violence and is completely unsupported by the church fathers.

    If you don’t believe me then here is an old discussion the “Puritan Board” that Lane took part in that should enlighten you.

    Allow me to quote Marty from that discussion:

    The general consensus in ECF scholarship is that baptismal regeneration was universally believed. The great proof text was John 3:5 “unless one is born of water and spirit”. A good summary is found in the work of J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines. He is fairly reliable.

    Of course, not all ECF speak about it. However, when they do they are pretty clear….You won’t find any of the ECF saying that baptism is simply a sign alone. Protestants have been reading the ECF for years and haven’t found anything convincing (especially when put in their context)…It’s an uncomfortable truth we just have to accept.

    Marty
    Ordained Presbyter; Currently Lecturer in Theology
    Anglican Church of Australia

    I think it was Zwingli that said that ‘all holy fathers erred…on baptism.’ Can you believe that? I can’t.

  43. David Gadbois said,

    October 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Sean P said I think it was Zwingli that said that ‘all holy fathers erred…on baptism.’ Can you believe that? I can’t.

    I can. It is an exegetical blunder, classic eisegesis to hold that John 3 is a reference to Christian baptism. Jesus’ audience would not have understood this as a reference to an ordinance that He had not yet even instituted.

  44. Sean Patrick said,

    October 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    David.

    I suppose that this is a symptom of a very different view of church history and tradition.

    Jesus often said things that his immediate audience did not immediately understand. However, I don’t agree that in this instance his audience would not understand. For one thing, Jesus himself had just been baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.

    Secondly, noting the actions of Jesus and the diciples just after His discourse with Niccodemus:

    John 3: 22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized.

  45. David Gadbois said,

    October 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Sean, that is not Christian baptism. While a “baptism of repentance”, there is no Triune Name. The NT explicitly distinguishes the baptism of John from Christian baptism (Acts 19).

  46. Dennis said,

    October 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Jack (40),

    To require love as something one must have in order to keep his commands is the same as saying one must keep his commands in order to have love.

    Yes, one must keep His commands in order to have love. Scripture calls for that.

    And if love is the keeping of all the law, then on that basis one must love perfectly, i.e. keep the entire law in order to be justified. That is impossible for a fallen creature.

    Well, I would disagree that it is impossible. To love your wife is not impossible. To love your children is not impossible. To love them perfectly is a judgment call. To love them as they are is what God wants. To love all people you come in contact with is what He is looking for.

    And if love is the keeping of all the law, then on that basis one must love perfectly, i.e. keep the entire law in order to be justified. That is impossible for a fallen creature. Is justification offered by God on another basis?

    I think you are jumping to a conclusion that I wouldn’t necessarily draw. Love isn’t about keeping all the laws. We are called to love God and our neighbor. When we offend God or neighbor, we sin. If we sin, we are called to repent. Love and repentance are necessary. But it’s through faith that we are justified. We are justified by saying “yes” to God. It’s in our faith that we are justified. (CCC 1993). When we say “no” to God, we can lose justification but through repentance, we have faith in God’s promise.

  47. Dennis said,

    October 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    bsuden, (41)

    FTM you have been hanging around protestant sites long enough and you don’t understand the sola fide/sola scriptura paradigm?

    I understand the teachings. I don’t understand the mindset. That’s what I’m trying to understand through dialog (and I’m learning a lot through this).

    (As in again, what do the 5 chapters in front of Rom. 6 say about the necessity of . . . . faith in Christ?)

    Yes, I understand the importance of faith. Faith is VERY important. I think you’re thinking that I’m saying that it’s only baptism that is necessary for salvation but that is not true. Faith is necessary for salvation. God wants all of us to have a strong faith. There is nothing in Romans 1 through 5 that I disagree with.

    What you don’t realize or apply is that just as circumcision is useless for salvation, so too the NT replacement for circumcision, baptism. You see the one, but balk at the other.

    No. What I don’t see is where baptism is not necessary. I see “Circumcision avails for nothing” in Scripture but I don’t see “baptism avails for nothing” and you seem to be drawing that conclusion out of the text. It’s not there.

  48. jsm52 said,

    October 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Regarding water baptism, Calvin on John 3:5-6

    Chrysostom, with whom the greater part of expounders agree, makes the word Water refer to baptism. The meaning would then be, that by baptism we enter into the kingdom of God, because in baptism we are regenerated by the Spirit of God. Hence arose the belief of the absolute necessity of baptism, in order to the hope of eternal life. But though we were to admit that Christ here speaks of baptism, yet we ought not to press his words so closely as to imagine that he confines salvation to the outward sign; but, on the contrary, he connects the Water with the Spirit, because under that visible symbol he attests and seals that newness of life which God alone produces in us by his Spirit. It is true that, by neglecting baptism, we are excluded from salvation; and in this sense I acknowledge that it is necessary; but it is absurd to speak of the hope of salvation as confined to the sign. So far as relates to this passage, I cannot bring myself to believe that Christ speaks of baptism; for it would have been inappropriate.

    For those interested: In that it is a bit lengthy, I posted the rest of his commentary on these two verses at my blog HERE.

  49. jsm52 said,

    October 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Dennis,

    by the way, Hi…

    The point to take from my comment is that it is Jesus who is the one defining love as keeping all the law when he answers the question, “Which is the great commandment?” His answer on loving God and neighbor is the summary of the Law. He then states: “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” The two great commandments fulfill all the law.

    Also Paul:

    Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    To love is an imperative. To love perfectly is to fulfill all the law. So we can also say that love is the expression or fruit of righteousness, for only a righteous person can keep the law, i.e. love.

  50. Dennis said,

    October 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Hi Jack,

    I don’t have any disagreement with your last statement. The entire Ten Commandments can be summarized by love for God and love for neighbor.

    Scripture is pretty clear that we are called to love all (friends, enemies, neighbor, God). While I don’t use language like “fulfill all the law” I don’t see problems with it. Do we fail at it? Yes. But we need to hope in the forgiveness of God. God tells us that He will forgive us as we forgive others. So, we are called to forgive those who trespass against us and God will forgive us. If we don’t have forgiveness in our hearts, then God won’t forgive us.

    There is some leeway to fulfilling the law perfectly through forgiveness.

  51. bsuden said,

    October 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    47 The Den

    1. Whatever you say, Romanism officially says baptism bestows faith and washes away at least original sin, no?
    2. Paul tells us in Romans 1:17 the just shall live by faith.
    But the faith working by love is not a major part of his exposition in Romans or Galatians, altho he mentions it. But it is the first foot forward for you and JJS. IOW it is the minority position when it comes to what the Scripture actually says and majors upon.
    3. The whole law vs. love schtick is exactly that. We have already been through the routine with Bryan and agape vs. list keeping.
    Contra all the philosophical speculation, Scripture tells us that love is a fulfilling of the law. IOW You can’t love someone by breaking the ten commandments.
    4. Again, sola Scriptura means tota scriptura. You can’t take one verse out of Galatians and build your paradigm upon it and then on top of it, expect to get taken seriously by protestants.
    5. Last but not least/again. Faith in Christ is not only very important, it is the sine qua non of being a Christian. (Not only that, one must be “born again” or regeneratedby the Holy Spirit or they will not be able to believe. Thus Christ to Nicodemus in Jn. 3.) Without it, one is nothing more before God than a pharisee or a hypocrite. True, before men, genuine faith bears fruit, but the apple is not the root, never mind the branch however much Romanism likes to confuse things.

  52. Dennis said,

    October 2, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    bsuden,

    I’m okay with you believing whatever you want to believe.

    1. Baptism doesn’t bestow faith but baptism is the “sacrament of faith” and some faith must be present at baptism. It does wash away sin. (Original and other).

    2. My explanation of faith working through love wasn’t from Romans or Galatians. It was from John and it’s a major part of his gospel.

    3. I’m interested in this. Can you explain it more? I’m not sure I’m following it.

    4. My paradigm isn’t built out of Galatians. It’s from the entire Scripture.

    5. Love is more important than faith. It’s the greatest of the theological virtues per 1 Corinthians 13.

  53. jsm52 said,

    October 3, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Dennis, you wrote:

    Scripture is pretty clear that we are called to love all (friends, enemies, neighbor, God). While I don’t use language like “fulfill all the law” I don’t see problems with it. Do we fail at it? Yes. But we need to hope in the forgiveness of God. God tells us that He will forgive us as we forgive others. So, we are called to forgive those who trespass against us and God will forgive us. If we don’t have forgiveness in our hearts, then God won’t forgive us.

    There is some leeway to fulfilling the law perfectly through forgiveness.

    “We need to hope in the forgiveness of God.”

    But then you write, “If we don’t have forgiveness in our hearts, then God won’t forgive us.”

    Rather than hoping in God’s forgiveness, that sounds like you are hoping in your forgiveness of others in order to be forgiven of God.

    If it is of works it is no longer of grace… One or the other, according to Paul. Our need is to be forgiven much, even the sin of not having enough forgiveness in our hearts. If forgiveness of my sins by God is dependent on my forgiveness of others, how is that not earning forgiveness through my works?

    Isn’t it the very free offer of grace and forgiveness in the gospel that one receives through faith alone in Christ Jesus? He saves us from our sins; those of commission and those of ommission. Jesus paid the full price for our forgiveness and justification through his obedience (law) – a life purposed in forgiveness – and his perfect sacrifice (grace).

    This good news supercedes your statement, There is some leeway to fulfilling the law perfectly through forgiveness.. God doesn’t merely fill in the gaps of our insufficient love and works. Rather Christ has covered the imperfection of our best obedience and our meagerly forgiveness of others with the perfection of his righteous obedience in the forgiveness he purchased completely with his blood for all that trust in him.

    Blessings

  54. Dennis said,

    October 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Hi Jack,

    This good news supercedes your statement, There is some leeway to fulfilling the law perfectly through forgiveness.. God doesn’t merely fill in the gaps of our insufficient love and works. Rather Christ has covered the imperfection of our best obedience and our meagerly forgiveness of others with the perfection of his righteous obedience in the forgiveness he purchased completely with his blood for all that trust in him.

    It’s hard for me to get behind that statement because it’s not fully lining up with my understanding of Scripture.

    Rather than hoping in God’s forgiveness, that sounds like you are hoping in your forgiveness of others in order to be forgiven of God.

    No. We forgive others because A. Christ commands us to (Matthew 18:21-22) and B. Out of love for God and neighbor. How can we truly love God and/or neighbor if we are holding grudges? Forgiveness is essential. In marriage, if we held grudges for all the times we argued with our wives, our marriage would be in trouble.

    In Scripture, God forgives us first and then we forgive others. Our forgiveness of others is an outpouring of God’s love to others. (Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. ) It’s a reflection of God’s love.

    . If forgiveness of my sins by God is dependent on my forgiveness of others, how is that not earning forgiveness through my works?

    Jesus tells us as much with the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35). At the end of the parable, the unforgiving servant is handed over to torturers until he pays back the debt. Jesus warns us specifically in v. 35, So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.

    The Catholic understanding of this is that it’s not a “forgive or else” dilemma. It’s more that if our hearts lack forgiveness, if we hold on to that which hurts us, if we fail to forgive “seventy times seven times” then our hearts turn to stone. We are no longer open to hearing God’s will in our hearts and we have turned away from Him. We lack charity to forgive and it is affecting our relationship with Him.

    Forgiveness of others is essential. Without forgiveness, marriages fail. Without forgiveness, we cannot spread the Gospel to all the ends of the world. Without forgiveness, we cannot love.

  55. David Gadbois said,

    October 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Sean P said Jesus often said things that his immediate audience did not immediately understand. However, I don’t agree that in this instance his audience would not understand. For one thing, Jesus himself had just been baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.

    Jesus specifically expected Nicodemus to understand:

    “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” (3:10)

    The background of “water and Spirit” would therefore have been language and concepts from the Old Testament, not the baptismal ordinance instituted later in Matthew 28.

  56. Bob S said,

    October 4, 2012 at 12:00 am

    52 TheDen


    I’m okay with you believing whatever you want to believe.

    What’s that supposed to mean? Besides you can’t believe whatever you want, your conscience is bound to whatever holy Mother Rome tells you.

    1. Baptism doesn’t bestow faith but baptism is the “sacrament of faith” and some faith must be present at baptism. It does wash away sin. (Original and other).

    That’s not what I’ve heard.

    2. My explanation of faith working through love wasn’t from Romans or Galatians. It was from John and it’s a major part of his gospel.

    Then demonstrate it then. So far in this thread, faith working though love in Galatians has been the focus.

    3. I’m interested in this. Can you explain it more? I’m not sure I’m following it.

    Rom. 13:10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    Gal. 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    4. My paradigm isn’t built out of Galatians. It’s from the entire Scripture.

    See #2.

    5. Love is more important than faith. It’s the greatest of the theological virtues per 1 Corinthians 13.

    No. It is the greatest because it remains after faith and hope have been satisfied and fulfilled in heaven.
    See Heb. 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please, love or hope in God. Therefore it is the sine qua non of Christian virtues, much more contains them.

  57. Dennis said,

    October 4, 2012 at 12:20 am

    bsuden (Bob S),

    Then demonstrate it then. So far in this thread, faith working though love in Galatians has been the focus.

    It’s in comment #37. My explanation is from John If you love me, you will keep my commandments

    Regarding #3, I understand the fulfilling the law. I’m asking you to explain: You can’t love someone by breaking the ten commandments. and how is loving someone associate with abiding by the ten commandments? I will agree that abiding by the ten commandments fulfills our love for God. But love for others? Please explain more.

    See Heb. 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please, love or hope in God. Therefore it is the sine qua non of Christian virtues, much more contains them.

    Interesting as my translation of Scriptures doesn’t say, “love or hope” in God. I think you’re reading that into the text.

    Love is greater than faith.

  58. Bob S said,

    October 5, 2012 at 2:43 am

    57 Den
    Yeah, I missed #37.
    But you, ahem, already missed John 3 in that the reformers considered Romans and John to be the gateway to the NT. Failure to understand these two books meant a failure to understand the NT. Double dittos when it comes to the magisterium and its understudies when it comes to NT gospel.

    IOW the real question is just how does one come to love Christ even before they get to keeping his commandments in Jn 20? Is it something they can muster up of their own free will and strength or must they be regenerated/born again/born from above because they are dead in their trespasses and sins? Rome thinks it is magically/superstitiously bestowed in baptism, if not that spiritually dead men can cooperate with grace and believe in Christ. Nyet. “Ye must be born again”.

    Regarding #3, love and the law are inseparable as regards both God and our neighbor. Love is not just some fuzzy wuzzy warm feeling. There is some teeth to it and an objective standard. You have just dropped in on the discussion, but previously Bryan was trying to drive a wedge between the two and insist on the Roman agape paradigm over and against the prot law/list keeping “p” thing. But needless to say and true to form, Mr. Cross many times cannot tell us what the reformed position is, all the while that ex protestant knowledge is what is supposed to give him his edge now over all the other internet apologists for popery. Hmmm.

    I didn’t quote Heb. 11:6, I alluded to it.”See/confer/cf.” are standard shorthands for look at such and such and connect the G&N consequences.
    Ergo if you don’t have faith in God, it is impossible to love him.

    Again, love cannot be greater than faith because it justifies, but because it remains after faith and hope have been fulfilled in glory.
    Further our love and obedience always falls short of God’s perfect standard. Hence the need for the imputation of an alien righteousness instead of infusion of righteousness and judgement/justification on the basis of spirit infused but yet still imperfect works.Thus the protestant position.

  59. Dennis said,

    October 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Bob,

    Thank you for the comments. It’s helpful to gain a better understanding.

    IOW the real question is just how does one come to love Christ even before they get to keeping his commandments in Jn 20? Is it something they can muster up of their own free will and strength or must they be regenerated/born again/born from above because they are dead in their trespasses and sins?

    To love someone comes from free will. We choose to love someone. To love your wife doesn’t come from faith. It’s an active decision every day. “Today, I choose to love my wife” So it is with Christ. “Today, I choose Christ!” Loving God is something that we should be doing with every fiber in our being. It’s when we are not loving Him that we are in rebellion. It’s also not a “one time” event like baptism or being “born again.” It is ongoing. You didn’t just love your wife on your wedding day and then forget about it. It continues and grows deeper through the years.

    Being “born again” is a one time event that comes through faith in Christ. We call it baptism. When someone hears the word of God and comes to believe, they are baptized “into Christ.” Colossians explains that their old sinful selves are cut away as they enter into the Body of Christ. (See Colossians 2:11-14).

    Rome thinks it is magically/superstitiously bestowed in baptism, if not that spiritually dead men can cooperate with grace and believe in Christ. Nyet. “Ye must be born again”.

    It’s not “magical” Baptism doesn’t deliver faith. Faith is brought through evangelization. People need to deliver Christ to other people. Once the seeds of faith are planted in an individual, then through the grace of God, the faith can grow, nurture and develop. One comes to belief through faith then they are baptized “into Christ” and then their faith grows from there.

    Regarding #3, love and the law are inseparable as regards both God and our neighbor.

    The way a Catholic understands it… God’s laws are founded on love of God and love of neighbor. However, we follow God’s laws not because they are laws for that leads to a legalistic view on life. Rather, we follow God’s laws out of love for God. Our love for God transcends laws and we are no longer bound to the law but rather we are bound by love for God. So in essence, love for God frees us from the law. This doesn’t mean we can break it because as you point out, love and law are technically inseparable. So, we follow the law out of love for God but we are not “bound by the law.”

    I didn’t quote Heb. 11:6, I alluded to it.”See/confer/cf.” are standard shorthands for look at such and such and connect the G&N consequences.
    Ergo if you don’t have faith in God, it is impossible to love him.

    That’s my bad. I didn’t quite understand your terminology. I will give you that faith is important but faith can move mountains but without love, “I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2). Christ came to deliver love. It’s Christ’s death on a cross that exemplifies God’s love for us for God would rather be dead than to live without us. We come to Him in faith, hope and love. We need all three but most importantly is love. It’s the greatest commandment. Without love, we are clashing cymbals just making noise for nothing.

    Hence the need for the imputation of an alien righteousness instead of infusion of righteousness and judgement/justification on the basis of spirit infused but yet still imperfect works.Thus the protestant position.

    Thank you for this explanation. While I don’t agree, I appreciate the explanation.

  60. Bob S said,

    October 8, 2012 at 1:18 am

    59 Dennis,
    Plainly and simply put, unless you are regenerated/born again/born from above all your free will does is freely will to sin.

    That’s what it means when Scripture says the natural man is dead in his trespasses and sins Eph.2:1.

    Further Rom. 9:16  says that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

    IOW Rome believes in a works righteousness; that one is saved by the work of their free will in choosing/believing in Christ, but that’s not what the Scripture says.
    Rather God chooses/elects those who will be saved and they are irresistibly and effectually drawn by the preaching of the word and persevere/are preserved unto salvation.

    Likewise faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God and that preached (cf. Rom.10:13-17). It is not magically or superstitiously automatically given in baptism, but rather the same is a sign and seal of that faith. Your explanation at this point is rather vague and unconnected.

    Thank you.

  61. October 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    [...] second part of Lane Keister’s response to me concerns II Peter 1:3ff. I wrote, “All the elements of Jesus’ and John’s and Paul’s [...]

  62. October 14, 2012 at 12:50 am

    [...] September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized | 72 comments Over at Green Baggins, Lane Keister has published the second part of his response to me, which I will interact with here (although my reply will deal with the Galatians, II Peter, and [...]

  63. October 15, 2012 at 12:56 am

    [...] the final section of his response to me, Lane Keister quotes me saying of James 2:8, 12-13: “James here speaks of a ‘royal [...]


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 346 other followers

%d bloggers like this: