Rejoinder to Stellman

Stellman has replied here to my blog post concerning the interpretation of key passages. I will not focus on the areas where we agree, but concentrate on the areas where we are either disagreeing or miscommunicating.

He argues, concerning the Galatians passage:

Lane then says that what faith working through love avails for is the “hope of righteousness,” or, glorification. But I do not necessarily disagree with him here. The believer, as he lives a life of living faith which works through love, will thereby be granted on the last Day to enter fully into the eternal inheritance that Jesus won for him by his cross and resurrection. Perhaps Lane’s disagreement with me stems from his idea that justification is a once-for-all event rather than something that we receive initially, grow in, and then are fully granted on the last Day. But I would suggest that the more fully-orbed understanding of justification (one with initial, ongoing, and future elements) will better allow Paul to simply speak for himself in this text. After all, it is pretty obvious that the apostle’s formulation, “faith working through love avails for ________” should end with the word “justification,” since he just finished telling “those who would be justified by the law” that “circumcision avails nothing.”

I would dispute his translation of the Greek word “ischuo.” Jason is implying that the word needs to have some sort of direction arrow on it, as indicated by the large blank. However, this is not needed. Indeed, we can see this in several other translations of the verse. ESV has “counts for anything,” the HCSB has “accomplishes anything;” the NET has “carries any weight.” Looking up the word in BDAG reveals its opinion that the word in this context means “have meaning, be valid, be in force.” There is no reason to assume, therefore, that there is anything particular in Paul’s mind here for which this FWTL avails. It is merely that this is what counts. This is what matters. In this I am correcting what I wrote in the last blog post, wherein I wrote that FWTL avails for the hope of righteousness. I no longer think that such is the proper translation of “ischuo.”

Stellman thinks my paragraph about faith and love is confusing. Faith and love are distinct, yet inseparable, much like the two natures of Christ, or the persons of the Trinity. Justification and sanctification are distinct yet inseparable. I’m not sure where his confusion comes in. I am saying that faith and love are two distinct things, and yet you will never find the one without the other. This is the only way, I believe, to understand how James and Paul can both be correct. Paul emphasizes the distinctness of faith and love (while not ignoring the inseparability), while James emphasizes the inseparability (without ignoring the distinctness).

Stellman says:

So it would seem to me that it is Lane who imports works of love into his definition of saving faith, such that the latter necessarily includes the former, whereas I have been saying all along that faith alone is dead, unless it is “active along with works” of love (to borrow James’ phrase).

Now, this is confusing to me. I have worked for years to maintain the distinctness of love and saving faith. How exactly did he come to the conclusion that I was importing love into my definition of saving faith? I am at a total loss, I must confess. Maybe he can help with the actual steps of how I did this. I hasten to assure my readers that I do believe that saving faith is one thing, and love is something else, however much they always appear together. You never have the light of the sun without its heat, and yet they are two distinct conceptual things.

Stellman writes:

Lane here is altering Paul’s actual words in order to make them fit with his theology. Paul does not say, “Circumcision avails nothing for glorification, but faith does, since it alone justifies. But after we are once-for-all justified, we do works of love as a matter of course, which works play no role in our receiving eternal life.” That is at best a strained example of exegetical gymnastics.

This is an assertion, not an actual argument that I have so gymnasticified the text, if I may coin a rather inelegant word.

Stellman goes on to say:

What Paul in fact says, is this: “You who want to be justified by the law by receiving circumcision are severing yourselves from Christ. Circumcision avails nothing for attaining our inheritance, but faith working through love does. This love fulfills the law and is the fruit of the Spirit, and if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life.”

The words “for attaining our inheritance” are imported into the text in Stellman’s exegesis. I have already argued above that “ischuo” does not require the prepositional phrase “for x.” Nor does it require the translation “avail.” The meaning of the word (and there is no Greek prepositional phrase corresponding in any way to Stellman’s addition) seems more comfortably to be “have meaning, or validity.” In which case Paul is not in this verse telling us how a person may be justified. Jews believe circumcision is what matters. Paul believes that faith working through love is what matters. The contextual argument is still strong for contrasting FWTL with circumcision, and what the Judaizers expect and believe. The opposition goes something like this: circumcision is opposed to faith in justification. Love is opposed to Pharisaic works as the way of life that results from justification. Paul is, after all, transitioning to exhortations concerning sanctification in verses 13 and following. It seems logical to see verse 6 as a bridge verse between his discussion of justification and sanctification, showing us that union with Christ is where the two meet (see the “en Christo” formula at the beginning of the verse).

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294 Comments

  1. jsm52 said,

    September 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    A question – how does Stellman’s explanation line up with Roman Catholic teaching?

    He states

    The believer, as he lives a life of living faith which works through love, will thereby be granted on the last Day to enter fully into the eternal inheritance that Jesus won for him by his cross and resurrection.

    Is that a given in RCC theology?

  2. October 1, 2012 at 2:22 am

    Hey Lane,

    Since you did not participate in the super-long threads here, I am not sure if you came across my argument in which I trace the progression from “faith working through love” in ch. 5 to “sowing to the Spirit” in ch. 6 (I argued that they’re synonymous for Paul).

    If not, then I’d suggest you do, as they connect some important dots, as well as answer your question about why I “imported” the phrase “for attaining our inheritance” into my paraphrase of Paul’s argument in Gal. 5.

  3. Jason Loh said,

    October 1, 2012 at 9:19 am

    What ever happened to Purgatory?

  4. Andrew Buckingham said,

    October 1, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Jason,

    :-)

    Regards,
    Andrew

  5. michael said,

    October 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I for one appreciate the heavy lifting and hard work you are doing here, Lane! It is sharpening my senses to discern between good and evil arguments.

    It is astounding this dialog is happening now that Jason has cross over and in the RCC camp.

    It will be interesting to hear or read his justifications for the RCC doctrines he now embraces; and the comments from sound Reformed brethren who undoubtedly will take those justifications to task?

  6. paigebritton said,

    October 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Hi, Lane,
    If you want to take Jason up on his invitation to read thru past comments for summaries of his understanding of Gal 5-6 (“faith working thru love” and “sowing to the Spirit”) and you don’t happen to have all day to look for them, here are four from his dialogues with Andrew M.:

    One
    Two
    Three
    Four

  7. Reed Here said,

    October 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Jason (Lane): if Paige has got at least the core comments to provide background here, then a basic question seems to follow for me. I admit this might just be my own weakness, presuppositional blindness. But nevertheless, as you have time to think about this …

    Are you not just ignoring the issue of faith’s causative nature being merely instrumental? Gal 3:1-5 seems pretty cut and dry. (Had a much more detailed response, but a providential hitting of a wrong button resulted in me losing it all. I’ll take that as God’s sign that my thoughts aren’t all that vital in challenging you friend. Sorry.)

  8. David Gadbois said,

    October 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Lane said I would dispute his translation of the Greek word “ischuo.” Jason is implying that the word needs to have some sort of direction arrow on it, as indicated by the large blank. However, this is not needed…. Looking up the word in BDAG reveals its opinion that the word in this context means “have meaning, be valid, be in force.” There is no reason to assume, therefore, that there is anything particular in Paul’s mind here for which this FWTL avails. It is merely that this is what counts. This is what matters.

    This interpretation is buttressed by the parallel expressions Paul uses in 6:15 and I Corinthians 7:19. It seems to be a formulaic expression of Paul’s, referring to what matters in the Christian life, or simply just a generic “what matters.”

  9. October 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Reed,

    Are you not just ignoring the issue of faith’s causative nature being merely instrumental? Gal 3:1-5 seems pretty cut and dry.

    Where does Gal. 3:1-5 say that “faith’s causative nature is merely instrumental”?

    What Paul does say there, as well as elsewhere, is that God looked at Abraham’s faith and counted it as righteousness (he calls this “the obedience of faith” at the beginning and end of Romans). And I can affirm wholeheartedly and without the need to twist the text, that Abraham’s faith was counted as his righteousness.

    Can you affirm that Abraham’s faith was counted by God as his righteousness?

  10. Reed Here said,

    October 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Jason: what do you think is Paul’s point in Gal 3:1-5? Is it not that the reception AND ongoing work of the Spirit in the Christian life are experienced in the same manner? By faith?

    Is he not contrasting reception and ongoing by faith with by circumcision? Is not “by circumcision” by law-keeping by man? Must the “by faith” manner be contrasted with that?

    I understand we are working with controlling paradigms that result in the difference here for us. I simply do not think your (new) paradigm does justice to the significance of the distinctions Paul is making. In your new paradigm the “newness” of the new that is ours in Christ is nothing more than a “new and improved” version of the old way of life. Your new paradigm does not do justice to the radical nature of the new in Christ, the wholly other nature of it as described in Scripture.

    Yeah, I can affirm wholeheartedly and without the need to twist the text, that Abraham’s faith was counted as his righteousness. You remember that I follow the biblical interpretive principle of SIS. Doing so requires me to answer some questions with reference to other passages. When I do so, I find that the instrumental causal nature of faith is what the Bible teaches. Thus Abraham’s faith was counted, credited to him as righteousness not because of something intrinsic to his faith, but because of something intrinsic to the Object of the faith (God who promises covenantally).

    You probably didn’t mean to give this appearance, but this last question reads a bit like a set up.

  11. October 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Reed,

    Jason: what do you think is Paul’s point in Gal 3:1-5? Is it not that the reception AND ongoing work of the Spirit in the Christian life are experienced in the same manner? By faith?

    Is he not contrasting reception and ongoing by faith with by circumcision? Is not “by circumcision” by law-keeping by man? Must the “by faith” manner be contrasted with that?

    I don’t really understand your second paragraph. But yeah, Paul’s point in Gal. 3:1ff is that if the Galatians accept circumcision they will be attempting to perfect by the flesh what began by the Spirit. This is exactly what Paul says in Gal. 5: if you accept circumcision, you have severed yourself from Christ and have fallen from grace. Justification is not about circumcision, it’s about faith working through love.

    I understand we are working with controlling paradigms that result in the difference here for us. I simply do not think your (new) paradigm does justice to the significance of the distinctions Paul is making. In your new paradigm the “newness” of the new that is ours in Christ is nothing more than a “new and improved” version of the old way of life. Your new paradigm does not do justice to the radical nature of the new in Christ, the wholly other nature of it as described in Scripture.

    These are important observations. First, I would say that the Bible is very clear about what is “new” about the NC, namely, that under the NC we receive the Spirit as a permanently indwelling Spirit who accomplishes in us what the old law could not. He does this by pouring out God’s love in our hearts, which fulfills the law in us who walk not after the flesh.

    You call this a “new and improved version” of the OC. I don’t know what to make of that. Does not Hebrews say that the NC is better because it is founded on better promises? Does not Paul say that the “law of the Spirit of life” has set him free from the “law of sin and death”? Doesn’t he also say that the OC had glory, but the NC is more glorious? There’s a promise  fulfillment relationship between the two covenants, is what I’m getting at. Do you disagree?

    Yeah, I can affirm wholeheartedly and without the need to twist the text, that Abraham’s faith was counted as his righteousness. You remember that I follow the biblical interpretive principle of SIS. Doing so requires me to answer some questions with reference to other passages. When I do so, I find that the instrumental causal nature of faith is what the Bible teaches. Thus Abraham’s faith was counted, credited to him as righteousness not because of something intrinsic to his faith, but because of something intrinsic to the Object of the faith (God who promises covenantally).

    You probably didn’t mean to give this appearance, but this last question reads a bit like a set up.

    Well, your “SIS” principle seems like text-twisting to me. Your theological paradigm forces you to say that what was credited to Abraham was the alien righteousness of Christ which he received through the instrumentality of faith (which faith is only passive and non-contributory). But that’s just not what Paul says. What he says is that God considered Abraham’s faith as his righteousness. From where I sit, there’s no actually textual reason to deny this, although I understand why you need to read that statement in the way you do.

  12. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Jason (#11): First, I would say that the Bible is very clear about what is “new” about the NC, , namely, that under the NC we receive the Spirit as a permanently indwelling Spirit who accomplishes in us what the old law could not.

    There is something crucial that you have omitted.

    Under the New Covenant, we are no longer under the curse of the Law (Gal 3). What is that curse? That disobedience brings death.

    In the Catholic system, as with any system that embraces free-will, disobedience still brings about death. The believer remains under the curse of the Law.

    Now, in Catholicism, that curse that has been softened by penance and perhaps the “agape paradigm”, so that not all disobedience is counted as fatal disobedience, and even fatal disobedience can be remedied if the sinning believer takes the appropriate actions.

    But the curse remains: disobey and die, and the choice is yours.

  13. jsm52 said,

    October 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Jeff, well said:

    Now, in Catholicism, that curse that has been softened by penance and perhaps the “agape paradigm”, so that not all disobedience is counted as fatal disobedience, and even fatal disobedience can be remedied if the sinning believer takes the appropriate actions.

    But the curse remains: disobey and die, and the choice is yours.

    Good news, indeed?

  14. Robert said,

    October 3, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I haven’t read all of the back and forth because it is massive. But since love is a work of the law, has anyone pointed out to Jason that his conflation of love and faith leads him finally to deny Galatians’ message even if he thinks he is upholding it? Paul says that by works of the law shall no one be justified (Gal. 2:15–16). But love for God and neighbor are works commanded in the law, are they not? To mix love and faith to avail for final justification denies Paul’s teaching in Galatians (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5).

  15. michael said,

    October 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Amen jsm52 @#13! I agree with you! Even all those that bear the curse will rejoice when that curse is lifted for good and remains no more!

    By one man the curse was born. By One Man the curse will remain no more!

    The hard question for me is found out of these Words:

    Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

    Why doesn’t the free gift of righteousness reign in life to “all” that death reigned over?

    Jeff C. @#12 has highlighted well the issue of “choice” which is the harness the RCC unwittingly brings you too as you work out your salvation in her religious practice not in fear and trembling but by choices offered that inbreeds a subtle pride in one’s self works not in reliance on that one Work of Christ He proclaimed: Joh 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
    .

    As the saying goes, the solution to the pollution is not dilution it’s absolution. We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, just as the Apostle wrote:

    Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
    Eph 1:8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
    Eph 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
    Eph 1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

  16. October 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    I wrote, “First, I would say that the Bible is very clear about what is “new” about the NC, namely, that under the NC we receive the Spirit as a permanently indwelling Spirit who accomplishes in us what the old law could not.” You responded:

    There is something crucial that you have omitted.

    Under the New Covenant, we are no longer under the curse of the Law (Gal 3). What is that curse? That disobedience brings death.

    In the Catholic system, as with any system that embraces free-will, disobedience still brings about death. The believer remains under the curse of the Law.

    Now, in Catholicism, that curse that has been softened by penance and perhaps the “agape paradigm”, so that not all disobedience is counted as fatal disobedience, and even fatal disobedience can be remedied if the sinning believer takes the appropriate actions.

    But the curse remains: disobey and die, and the choice is yours.

    The problem here is that because of our different paradigms, we both believe in exactly the same phenomenon but call it different things.

    You believe that if a baptized person who professes to be a Christian lives a life characterized by disobedience and sin, that he, despite his profession, will most likely be condemned on the last Day.

    So do I.

    The difference between us is that you would insist that such a person was never a Christian in the first place, that he never truly experienced any saving blessings from God, whereas I would not insist that. But this doesn’t change the fact that we both agree on the possibility I described.

    There are also issues surrounding what it means for Jesus to have suffered the curse by his death on the cross, but those don’t necessarily need to be brought up now. My point is simply that the disobedient and sinful professor of faith will meet the exact same end in both our systems, despite the fact that we have differing ways of describing it theologically.

    And I think we could both admit (if life experience means anything) that either or both of us could end up being that person if we cease looking to Jesus in faith.

  17. johnbugay said,

    October 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Jason 15: You are equivocating here:

    The problem here is that because of our different paradigms, we both believe in exactly the same phenomenon but call it different things.

    You believe that if a baptized person who professes to be a Christian lives a life characterized by disobedience and sin, that he, despite his profession, will most likely be condemned on the last Day.

    So do I.

    For the Roman Catholic, this takes just one “mortal sin”, of which the “cradle Catholic” is typically neurotically afraid. The Roman Catholic (the cradle Catholic who cares about his or her faith) gets to live a life with fear in back of his mind. For the Reformed person, it would take something more than just “a life characterized by disobedience and sin”. It would take something much more persistent than that.

    So the “exact same phenomenon” really is a different phenomenon.

  18. October 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    John,

    For the Roman Catholic, this takes just one “mortal sin”, of which the “cradle Catholic” is typically neurotically afraid. The Roman Catholic (the cradle Catholic who cares about his or her faith) gets to live a life with fear in back of his mind. For the Reformed person, it would take something more than just “a life characterized by disobedience and sin”. It would take something much more persistent than that.

    So the “exact same phenomenon” really is a different phenomenon.

    Here’s what Jeff adduced as evidence that our systems are radically different:

    “Now, in Catholicism, that curse that has been softened by penance and perhaps the “agape paradigm”, so that not all disobedience is counted as fatal disobedience, and even fatal disobedience can be remedied if the sinning believer takes the appropriate actions. But the curse remains: disobey and die, and the choice is yours.”

    Can a baptized Protestant sin such that, his profession notwithstanding, he will be damned? If you believe in the passages that teach that “many” who went so far as to cast out demons and prophesy in Jesus’ Name will find out on judgment day (for apparently the first time) that they were never even saved in the first place, then I’d say we both suffer from a snag in our ability to offer infallible assurance.

    We both can reasonably offer assurance to the one who walks in the Spirit and looks to Jesus in repentance and faith, and we both ought to withhold it (so to speak) from the one who practices all those sins that Paul says will disqualify you from heaven.

    And if I sin mortally (say by cheating on my wife), I will immediately confess my sin to God and also plan to receive the sacrament of reconciliation as soon as I can. If you cheated on your wife, you would follow the same step #1, but then you may also confess it to God during the appropriate time at public worship, right?

  19. johnbugay said,

    October 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    We both can reasonably offer assurance to the one who walks in the Spirit and looks to Jesus in repentance and faith

    This is more fair, but still, the key difference is “what I do” and “what the Lord does” which account for the difference.

    I’m not sold by any stretch on the “list/agape” paradigms. When I was growing up, there was little “agape” in church, and lots of list, and even more of, “how far can we push that list and not be getting ourselves in trouble”.

    And “what I do” may be as simple as missing Mass on Sunday. Bryan has you able to get yourself forgiven for this by saying a simple act of contrition and scooting off to confession right away. But first of all, again, it’s something YOU GOTTA DO, and in real life, the saying of acts of contrition and getting to confession is a lot more problematic, and the guilt and dissembling remains.

    Sure, if you commit adultery, you need to think really hard about it.

  20. October 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    But John, your same objection could have been submitted to Jesus when he said, “Unless you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father won’t forgive you yours.”

  21. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    JJS (#17): Can a baptized Protestant sin such that, his profession notwithstanding, he will be damned?

    No, he cannot. For if he belongs to Christ then “nothing in all creation” can separate him from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 8).

    And if he is in the hands of Jesus, then “no-one can remove him from My hand” (John 10).

    God’s work, which was ordained from before all creation (Eph 1, 2.10) will most certainly bring about the repentance of those who belong to Him.

    If on the other hand this Protestant does not belong to Christ, then he is not condemned because he has sinned per se. Rather, he is condemned already because “he has not believed in the one and only Son of God” (John 3).

    There is no scenario in which God’s work can be wrecked by man’s choice. There is no scenario in which a saved person forfeits his salvation by “sinning bad enough.”

  22. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Jason (#15): My point is simply that the disobedient and sinful professor of faith will meet the exact same end in both our systems, despite the fact that we have differing ways of describing it theologically.

    Yes, there is an element of truth here: since we have no faith-o-meter that we may attach to others, we must admit that professions of faith do not guarantee the soil type.

    But the superficial similarity needs to be viewed with an eye towards the significant differences.

    The confessional system, and the penance system, and the indulgence system found in Catholicism do not arise because of minor differences in describing the same event!

  23. Zrim said,

    October 3, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    But John, your same objection could have been submitted to Jesus when he said, “Unless you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father won’t forgive you yours.”

    But, Jason, if adultery is the mortal sin then we have Jesus telling the woman caught in it to go and sin no more. I’m not sure how John is objecting to Jesus, but even if he is, we have you adding to Jesus’ prescription the need to “also plan to receive the sacrament of reconciliation as soon as” possible.

  24. David Gadbois said,

    October 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    In Matthew 6 Jesus says

    For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

    These if/then statements (if you X, then God will Y; if you don’t X, then God will not Y) establish a conditional relationship between our forgiving and God’s forgiving, but do not establish a causal relationship. God does not forgive us *because* we forgive others. So John B. is right concerning the “key difference” back in #18.

    It is also a good lesson that one needs to pay special attention to what logical and metaphysical connections the grammar of a passage actually establishes.

  25. October 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Jeff,

    I asked, “Can a baptized Protestant sin such that, his profession notwithstanding, he will be damned?” And you responded:

    No, he cannot. For if he belongs to Christ then “nothing in all creation” can separate him from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 8).

    And if he is in the hands of Jesus, then “no-one can remove him from My hand” (John 10).

    God’s work, which was ordained from before all creation (Eph 1, 2.10) will most certainly bring about the repentance of those who belong to Him.

    If on the other hand this Protestant does not belong to Christ, then he is not condemned because he has sinned per se. Rather, he is condemned already because “he has not believed in the one and only Son of God” (John 3).

    There is no scenario in which God’s work can be wrecked by man’s choice. There is no scenario in which a saved person forfeits his salvation by “sinning bad enough.”

    You are answering my question from the standpoint of election, but of course, I would agree with you that no one who is eternally elected to salvation can be lost. So, no disagreement there.

    You continue in your next comment:

    … since we have no faith-o-meter that we may attach to others, we must admit that professions of faith do not guarantee the soil type.

    This is my point. In both our systems, someone could be a baptized professing believer and member in good standing of the church, and yet be condemned on the last day. And further, in both our systems that man could think his entire life, until that final moment when Jesus says “I never knew you,” that he was in fact a true Christian. And in both our systems, this person is not, and never was, elect unto salvation (although he certainly thought he was).

    But the superficial similarity needs to be viewed with an eye towards the significant differences.

    The confessional system, and the penance system, and the indulgence system found in Catholicism do not arise because of minor differences in describing the same event!

    Yes, there are significant differences between us. But one of them is not that you get to offer people a better version of assurance than I can.

  26. October 3, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Zrim,

    But, Jason, if adultery is the mortal sin then we have Jesus telling the woman caught in it to go and sin no more. I’m not sure how John is objecting to Jesus, but even if he is, we have you adding to Jesus’ prescription the need to “also plan to receive the sacrament of reconciliation as soon as” possible.

    John’s entire objection to me was that going to confession is “something you gotta DO.” My response is that the same objection could have been leveled against Jesus when he said that the Father will forgive us if we forgive others (in other words, Jesus is telling us to do something).

    Nothing you’ve said speaks to that point.

  27. Bob S said,

    October 3, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Yes, there are significant differences between us. But one of them is not that you get to offer people a better version of assurance than I can.

    Huh? Please clarify. Trent anathematized assurance, (if not that the Roman system of faith plus works/faith working by love engenders doubt that one has done enough versus looking to the work of Christ alone as providing salvation). IOW we’re talking about Trent 6:16 vs. WCF18

    I think somebody is still operating as a protestant in ginning up their own theology all the while holy mother church has distinctly said otherwise. Indeed affirmation of assurance was one of the watershed issues between Rome and protestantism in the respective denial/affirmations of it.

  28. Zrim said,

    October 4, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Jason, I’m assuming the category of mortal sin you’ve suggested for adultery. And my point is that you’re adding to Jesus’ prescription to simply repent of it the need to receive the sacrament of reconciliation (more assuming). If John is leveling objections to Jesus about forgiveness, I fail to see how you’re not adding to Jesus’ prescription.

    Then again, it seems to me the Catholic paradigm doesn’t perceive anything askew about adding to the Lord’s words. But if that’s the case then so what that John is allegedly objecting to Jesus?

  29. johnbugay said,

    October 4, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Jason (19): But John, your same objection could have been submitted to Jesus when he said, “Unless you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father won’t forgive you yours.”

    My objection has nothing to do with forgiving or not forgiving. We are all required to forgive.

    Rome has placed “forgiveness” within the context (as described in the link at 27 — don\’t miss the picture — at such time as you become a Roman Catholic, you will be stepping out of the world where God’s grace effects things for you irresistibly — leads you to forgive, leads you to help little old ladies across the street, leads you to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick — and puts you into a world where you may or may not have to do any of those things, but you certainly have to attend Mass every Sunday, get to confession on a regular basis, say your Act of Contrition every time you commit adultery [and Luther took Matthew 5:27-29 seriously, and couldn't say enough Acts of Contrition to cover all his sins -- though for some Roman Catholics in the so-called Agape paradigm, what happens in Matthew 5:27-29 really isn't so bad]. Such a thing is what you’ve gotten yourself in for.

    You still have time to get out.

  30. October 4, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Zrim,

    Jason, I’m assuming the category of mortal sin you’ve suggested for adultery. And my point is that you’re adding to Jesus’ prescription to simply repent of it the need to receive the sacrament of reconciliation (more assuming). If John is leveling objections to Jesus about forgiveness, I fail to see how you’re not adding to Jesus’ prescription.

    You’re still missing the point. It’s not about adding to the Lord’s words according to John, but about our having to “do” something. I’m happy to drop it, though, because this doesn’t seem profitable.

    PS – There’s a rich case that has been made from Scripture and the early fathers about the sacrament of reconciliation, in case you’re interested.

  31. Andrew said,

    October 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Jason

    re: sacrament of reconciliation

    Where can I read the rich case that can be made from Scripture?

  32. johnbugay said,

    October 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Jason, you have been trying to say, “we’re not all that far apart”, but we really are.

    As for penance in the early church, it didn’t become a sacrament until the 12th century; prior to that, various practice arose in response to an inability to understand that people who sin can be forgiven freely even after they are in the church. The Roman church gradually made that into another kind of rigamarole. I don’t consider sixth-century practices to be “rich tradition”.

  33. Zrim said,

    October 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Jason, drop it if you please. But I understand that John’s point was about having to do something to receive forgiveness. All I am pointing out is that when you say that is a potential objection to Jesus’ “forgive and you will be forgiven,” I wonder where your addition of the SoR comes from when all Jesus demands is repentance. So:

    Jesus: “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

    John (you say): “Uh, pardon, but I think you’re making forgiveness a system of works to some extent.”

    Jesus: “Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

    You (I’m saying): “Uh, lady, that’s super but don’t forget to receive the sacrament of reconciliation as soon as possible as well.”

    Maybe you don’t think it profitable, but you brought it up.

  34. David Gadbois said,

    October 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Jason’s argument is premised on an idea that ought to seem ludicrous: that the basis of our justification, perseverance, and resulting assurance has little or nothing to do with the strength and quality of our assurance. “We’re not that far apart” if we only are looking at the subjective and phenomenological factors, but if we look at the differences between what RCC and Prot theology consider the ground of man’s salvation, and consider these objective grounds to be *at least* as important as the subjective factors as grounds of our assurance, then we are going to end up with very different forms of assurance from these two theological systems.

    And here is how the RCC system goes so wrong: the subjective factor (“am I walking in the Spirit?”) IS part of their objective ground. We will also ask that question in establishing our assurance as Protestants, but the fact that our ongoing obedience is evidentiary and not justificatory keeps this strictly in the subjective category for Protestants. For us, the person and work of Christ alone are the objective grounds.

    In seeking assurance, the Romanist asks a fundamentally different question – “have I obeyed enough to establish my justification?” The Protestant asks “am I obeying as an indication of what Christ irrevocably established for me 2000 years ago?” The causal vs. evidentiary connection that good works have to salvation really do make a world of difference, they are no mere academic distinctions to gloss over.

  35. David Gadbois said,

    October 4, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Also, an observation about the practical mechanics of the Romanist system. Romanists indulge in wild self-delusion to believe that they do not break the 10 Commandments on a weekly and, indeed daily basis. This is, by definition, mortal sin. Under the premises of RC theology, they would lose their justification tens of thousands of times throughout their lifetime in an unending cycle of being under the wrath of God (and therefore hellbound) to being under a state of grace (through confession and penance) to losing justification again by committing a mortal sin and going back to a state of wrath. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

    But all the Romanists I have known don’t seem too concerned about it, and that is because they imagine that they don’t break the 10 Commandments all that often. Even when they do, say, take the Lord’s name in vain, I don’t see them running to the nearest parish priest to seek confession and penance. I mean, if I knew I were in such a state that I knew I would go to hell if I died, I’d at least leave work a few hours early to attend a means of getting back to a state of grace! I wouldn’t just shrug and say “I’ll wait til’ Sunday rolls around.”

  36. Sean Patrick said,

    October 4, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    John.

    “As for penance in the early church, it didn’t become a sacrament until the 12th century.”

    Penance (confession/reconciliation) is a sacrament given by Christ. It did not ‘become’ a sacrament in the 12th century. It has always been a sacrament. The manner in which it was practiced may have developed over time. For example, in the early church sins were often confessed to the priest in front of the whole church but the constant belief is that the church holds the keys of the kingdom and that mortal sins must be confessed to a priest.

    Augustine says: “All mortal sins are to be submitted to the keys of the Church and all can be forgiven; but recourse to these keys is the only, the necessary, and the certain way to forgiveness. Unless those who are guilty of grievous sin have recourse to the power of the keys, they cannot hope for eternal salvation. Open your lips, them, and confess your sins to the priest. Confession alone is the true gate to Heaven.” Augustine, Christian Combat (A.D. 397)

    And Jerome says: “Just as in the Old Testament the priest makes the leper clean or unclean, so in the New Testament the bishop and presbyter binds or looses not those who are innocent or guilty, but by reason of their office, when they have heard various kinds of sins, they know who is to be bound and who loosed.” Jerome, Commentary on Matthew (A.D. 398)

    And Basil says: “It is necessary to confess our sins to those whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries is entrusted.” Basil, Rule Briefly Treated, 288 (A.D. 374)

    Even the Diadache references public confession of sins in church before receiving the Holy Eucharist.

  37. johnbugay said,

    October 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Sean, I don’t have time to follow up your rabbit trail, but your suggestion that Christ “instituted” penance in any way is perfectly ridiculous. The entire concept of “penance” is a mistranslation (yes, Jerome in the Vulgate) of the word metanoiea, through a convoluted process that was not regularized until after the end of the millennium.

  38. October 4, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Andrew,

    Where can I read the rich case that can be made from Scripture?

    I would begin with a consideration of the nature of ecclesiastical offices, with special attention given to Isa. 22 and Acts 1. I would then look at the nature of Jesus’ authority derived from the Father (particularly as objected to by the scribes when Jesus healed the paralytic) and what it means that he sent his apostles out with that authority. I would pay particular attention to the gift of the Spirit breathed on the apostles with the promise that whoever’s sins they remit/retain would be remitted/retained. And of course, I would recommend looking at what John meant by people committing sins that lead to death that ought not be prayed for.

    And it wouldn’t hurt to read and meditate upon these passages in conjunction with the fathers of the church and the tradition they held in common.

    PS – As always happens when I comment here too much, I end up getting buried beneath a pile of comments and objections that I simply cannot stay on top of. If anyone desires to continue engaging me on these matters, please do so at Creed Code Cult.

  39. Sean Patrick said,

    October 4, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    John.

    If you are going to make unsubstantiated and untrue claims about church history and the Catholic Church than expect to be challenged on it.

    I don’t have time to follow up your rabbit trail, but your suggestion that Christ “instituted” penance in any way is perfectly ridiculous.

    John 20:21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

    That very passage was cited by fathers explicitly as early as the 3rd century when teaching about the need to confess one’s sins in the church to priests.

    So, I hope you can see why Catholics do not view the fact that Christ instituted the sacrament as ‘perfectly ridiculous.’

  40. johnbugay said,

    October 4, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Nothing I said about penance is untrue. and it is ridiculous to suggest that Christ “instituted” it. And your objections are a rabbit trail to take poeple’s minds off the fact that new convert Stellman is making a fool of himself.

  41. Sean Patrick said,

    October 4, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    # 41

    Nothing I said about penance is untrue.

  42. David Gadbois said,

    October 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Sean said So, I hope you can see why Catholics do not view the fact that Christ instituted the sacrament as ‘perfectly ridiculous.’

    The fact that you have to run off to interpreters hundreds of years removed from Christ, as usual, speaks volumes. John 20 mentions nothing about penance, either in word or concept. It mentions authority given to the Apostles to forgive sins, but it says nothing about any procedure, rite, or sacrament (such as penance) as the necessary means for the Apostles to exercise this authority.

  43. Sean said,

    October 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    #43

    I quoted fathers ‘hundreds of years removed’ from Christ because those statements directly contradict John’s assertion that the sacrament was a 12th century invention.

    The second part of your statement presupposes that in order for the sacrament to be legitimate the exact procedure would have to be spelled out in the gospels. I could just as easily argue that Presbyterian ordinations aren’t valid because the procedure outlined in the book of church order cannot be found in the gospels. And, of course Catholics do not work from a SS paradigm.

  44. David Gadbois said,

    October 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Sean said I quoted fathers ‘hundreds of years removed’ from Christ because those statements directly contradict John’s assertion that the sacrament was a 12th century invention.

    But you claimed in #40 that interpreters from “as early as the 3rd century” was proof that Jesus instituted the sacrament.

    The second part of your statement presupposes that in order for the sacrament to be legitimate the exact procedure would have to be spelled out in the gospels.

    The problem is John 20 doesn’t mention a “procedure” at all that the sinner had to endure as a condition of forgiveness. The Apostles had the authority to forgive, that’s all the text says.

    And, of course Catholics do not work from a SS paradigm.

    Sure, but we are still left wondering what historically credible evidence there is that Christ actually instituted this supposed sacrament.

  45. johnbugay said,

    October 5, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Sean, I said this:

    As for penance in the early church, it didn’t become a sacrament until the 12th century; prior to that, various practice arose in response to an inability to understand that people who sin can be forgiven freely even after they are in the church. The Roman church gradually made that into another kind of rigamarole. I don’t consider sixth-century practices to be “rich tradition”.

    And you turned that into this:

    John’s assertion that the sacrament was a 12th century invention.

    You either have a profound lack of ability to comprehend, or you are (as we’ve noted in the past) just plain dishonest. You need to get some help somewhere. Have you talked to your priest about this problem?

    I’ll just note for the record what I had in mind when I made that statement:

    “The systematic development of sacramental theology is a major feature of the medieval period, particularly between the years 1050 and 1240” (Cited in Alister McGrath,Iustitia Dei, A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, Third Edition, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, ©2005), pg. 117.

    McGrath also notes that Peter Lombard’s inclusion of penance among the seven sacraments was “an inclusion which is of major significance to the development of the doctrine of justification within the sphere of the western church” (120-121). He also says, “It may be noted, however, that there was no general agreement upon the necessity of sacerdotal confession: in the twelfth century, for example, the [Peter] Abelardian school rejected its necessity, while the Victorine school insisted upon it (121). It was not until the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) that “penance” officially became a “sacrament”. That council “laid an obligation upon believers to confess their sins to their priest annually” (122).

    Not coincidentally, Thomas Doyle traces the advent of priestly sexual abuse to the practice of private confession around this time:

    With the advent of the private confession of sins came the abuse known as solicitation for sex in the act of sacramental confession. Unscrupulous priests began to use the intimacy of confession as an opportunity to seduce the penitent into some form of sexual contact. This abuse is particularly heinous because it takes advantage of a person when he or she is most vulnerable and susceptible to the abuse of priestly power. It is not known when the very first reports of solicitation became known, but by the 16th century the Church had begun to pass legislation to control and eradicate this vile form of abuse.

    Regarding my “inability to understand” comment, I believe the first work mentioning anything resembling a “second plank” is Tertullians work “De paenitentia, or on repentence”. Tertullian.org gives this summary of the work:

    A short work in 12 chapters discussing whether forgiveness for major public sins is available after conversion, and outlines the position generally held at that time – once only, with public repentance. (De pudicitia 3 tells us the penitent can still be saved; but cannot be received in the church).

    This no doubt is the “undeveloped” view of the Catholic sacrament, instituted by Christ. So what you are saying, Sean, is that the early church “misunderstood” what Christ actually meant when he instituted that sacrament?

    Let me go further to cite Tertullian’s practice. When is the last time you did this?

    The narrower, then, the sphere of action of this second and only (remaining) repentance, the more laborious is its probation; in order that it may not be exhibited in the conscience alone, but may likewise be carried out in some (external) act. This act, which is more usually expressed and commonly spoken of under a Greek name, is exomologesis whereby we confess our sins to the Lord, not indeed as if He were ignorant of them, but inasmuch as by confession satisfaction is settled, of confession repentance is born; by repentance God is appeased. And thus exomologesis is a discipline for man’s prostration and humiliation, enjoining a demeanor calculated to move mercy. With regard also to the very dress and food, it commands (the penitent) to lie in sackcloth and ashes, to cover his body in mourning, to lay his spirit low in sorrows, to exchange for severe treatment the sins which he has committed; moreover, to know no food and drink but such as is plain,—-not for the stomach’s sake, to wit, but the soul’s; for the most part, however, to feed prayers on fastings, to groan, to weep and make outcries unto the Lord your God; to bow before the feet of the presbyters, and kneel to God’s dear ones; to enjoin on all the brethren to be ambassadors to bear his deprecatory supplication (before God). All this exomologesis (does), that it may enhance repentance; may honour God by its fear of the (incurred) danger; may, by itself pronouncing against the sinner, stand in the stead of God’s indignation, and by temporal mortification (I will not say frustrate, but) expunge eternal punishments. Therefore, while it abases the man, it raises him; while it covers him with squalor, it renders him more clean; while it accuses, it excuses; while it condemns, it absolves. The less quarter you give yourself, the more (believe me) will God give you.

    In the “rich tradition of the early church”, [instituted by Christ], you as a third-century Christian have the opportunity to go through this process precisely once, after which you are “cemented to contumacy”.

    Now, let me ask you, if Christ instituted this “sacrament”, what makes you think that the “developments” since this important early third-century “interpretation” are better than what Tertullian practiced? Isn’t this what Christ told the Apostles to practice? Or did Tertullian somehow get this wrong, only to have the later church get it right again? To have re-found the “original” apostolic practice?

    McGrath follows up on this:

    The ninth century, however, saw the Anglo-Irish system of private penance become widespread in Europe of private penance become widespread in Europe, with important modifications to the theology of penance following in its wake.

    These are the ones who, upon further “reflection” on the practice that “Christ instituted”, softened the experience for your tender 21st century sensibilities.

    Although earlier writers considered that penance could be undertaken only once in a lifetime, as a ‘second plank after a shipwreck’ (tabula secunda post naufragiam — see Jerome Epistola 130) this opinion was gradually abandoned, rather than refuted, as much for social as for pastoral reasons. Thus the eighth-century bishop Chrodegang of Metz recommended regular confession to a superior at least once a year, while Paulinus of Aquileia advocated confession and penance before each mass. Gregory the Great’s classification of mortal sins [sixth century] became incorporated into the penitential system of the church during the ninth century, so that private penance in the presence of a priest became generally accepted. Penitential books began to make their appearance throughout Europe, similar in many respects to those which can be traced back to sixth-century Wales.

    The spread of the practice in the Carolingian [French] church appears to have been due to the formidable influence of Alcuin, who has greater claim than any to be considered the founder of the Carolingian renaissance [ninth century]. It is therefore of considerable significance that Alcuin specifically links penance with justification….

    A further development of this idea may be found in the works of Rabanus Maurus, who became the leading proponent of private confession in the Frankish church after Alcuin; justification here is linked, not merely with the act of penance, but specifically with sacerdotal confession. The relationship between justification, baptism and penance was defined with particular clarity in the ninth century by Haimo of Auxerre:

    Our redemption, by which we are redeemed, and through which we are justified, is the passion of Christ, which, joined with baptism, justifies humanity through faith, and subsequently through penance. These two are joined together in such a way that it is not possible for humanity to be justified by one without the other.

    McGrath, pgs. 117-118.

    So what you are saying, Sean, is that the ninth century church, thus having the authority to “develop” doctrines, developed it in such a way that removed some of the severity from the third-century doctrine (articulated by Tertullian presumably as it was “instituted by Christ” directly to the Apostles).

    Or is there some step in “the Tradition” that maybe we don’t know about at this point, where Christ really did advocate the private confessional, and Tertullian somehow made the mistake of thinking it was that “one-time plank”, complete with “sackcloth and ashes”, after which time (“it is impossible to be brought to repentance”, Hebrews 6:6).

  46. Pete Holter said,

    October 5, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Bob S wrote, “…we’re talking about Trent 6:16…”

    “If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end—unless he have learned this by special revelation—let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Decree on Justification, Canon 16).

    It was encouraging for me when I discovered that the words of this canon were entirely drawn from the thought of Augustine…

    “From all which it is shown with sufficient clearness that the grace of God, which both begins a man’s faith and which enables it to persevere unto the end, is not given according to our merits, but is given according to His own most secret and at the same time most righteous, wise, and beneficent will; since ‘those whom He predestinated, them He also called’ (Romans 8:30), with that calling of which it is said, ‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance’ (Romans 11:29). To which calling there is no man that can be said by men with any certainty of affirmation to belong, until he has departed from this world; but in this ‘life of man,’ which ‘is a state of trial upon the earth’ (Job 7:1), ‘he who seems to stand must take heed lest he fall’ (1 Corinthians 10:12). Since (as I have already said before) those who will not persevere are, by the most foreseeing will of God, mingled with those who will persevere, for the reason that we may learn ‘not to mind high things, but to consent to the lowly’ (Romans 12:16), and may ‘work out our own salvation with fear and trembling…’ (Philippians 2:12…)” (On the Gift of Perseverance, Ch. 13.33).

    “For who will take upon him to deny that those first men in Paradise were blessed previously to sin, although they were uncertain how long their blessedness was to last, and whether it would be eternal (and eternal it would have been had they not sinned),—who, I say, will do so, seeing that even now we not unbecomingly call those blessed whom we see leading a righteous and holy life, in hope of immortality, who have no harrowing remorse of conscience, but obtain readily divine remission of the sins of their present infirmity? These, though they are certain that they shall be rewarded if they persevere, are not certain that they will persevere. For what man can know that he will persevere to the end in the exercise and increase of grace, unless he has been certified by some revelation from Him who, in His just and secret judgment, while He deceives none, informs few regarding this matter?” (The City of God, Bk. 11, Ch. 12)

    With the love of Christ our Lord,
    Pete

  47. Jason Loh said,

    October 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Blessed Augustine is indeed a great church father. But I’m so glad that the Reformation didn’t follow him on assurance.

    Instead Luther and the rest of classical Protestantism insisted that salvation includes justification, sanctification and glorification all at once and within the ordo salutis, respectively. For the Gospel is not the Law, not the Old Testament but the New Testament — that is the Reality in the Person of Jesus Christ here and now in the living present … given in words — the unconditional promise.

    When Jesus compared Himself to the Vine and the baptised to branches in John 15, Our Lord precisely meant to include *all* the baptised — this means infants and children. This means and this is why the christological words, “Abide in Me” is not Law, not a command, but Promise. For by being Incarnate, Our Lord has united all stages of human life to Himself. Union with Christ therefore embraces infants and children … all the more when infants are said by Our Lord as “of such is the Kingdom of God” …

  48. Jason Loh said,

    October 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    This is why the Roman paradigm/ perspective (whatever name it is called) is wrong.

    For the Gospel does not point the way to the Law coram Deo but the Law points the way to the Gospel as per St Paul. The former can only be for *imitation*. But Law and Incarnation (Gospel) do not mix or go hand in hand.

    If it were so, then the Satisfaction on the Cross was made/ paid/ fulfilled not by the Divine Person but by a *Nestorian* Christ, i.e. according to Our Lord’s human nature.

    That is to say, for the Law to stand as co-mediator means the Crucifixion is only half-satisfaction. The Law prevents the joyous eschange from taking place — where God becomes sin as the ultimate goal of the Incarnation = literally to sin and be the greatest ever sinner and sin itself, and simultaneously the sinner is effectively declared righteous. IOW, the Law only recognises *like with like* — conformity, imitation. (The joyous exchange shatters the legal scheme).

    This is consistent with the patristic doctrine of assumption: that is, what is not assumed is not saved. There is still reparation for sin — the work of the Atonement in actu secundo, i.e. in its application in the Church. IOW, the Crucifixion did not atone for sin but only made it possible for sin to be atoned … by the sinner.

    Otherwise if *God* atoned for sins, it precisely meant the *end* of the Law. Otherwise, for the Law to be upheld, only a *human* can stand guilty as charged under the Law. IOW, the joyous exchange goes hand in hand with orthodox christology and by implication and extension, orthodox soteriology.

  49. Jason Loh said,

    October 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    For God Who is without sin assumed/ took on sin. This goes against the Law which demands *rejection* of sin rather than assimilation thereof. This is why if God assumed/ took on sin as atonement, the Law is destroyed as to its purpose and goal.

  50. Jason Loh said,

    October 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    If God assumed/ took on sin, then there is no room for imitation but only faith. For no human can imitate God in Atonement and still be alive to obey the Law. The human can only die under the Law. But if the Law ends in Christ, then sinners can only die in Him *passively* and be likewise passively raised up anew in Him.

  51. Jason Loh said,

    October 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Therefore, the Roman paradigm undermines, disrupts, undercuts, distorts the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union in Whom there is the communicatio idiomatum. Hypostatic Union precisely means the personal union where the divine and human is so united in the One Divine Person of Jesus Christ the God-Man something *new* happens to both natures all at once. The divine is no longer merely divine and the human is no longer merely human but both are “interchangeable” in the One Divine Person of Our Lord.

  52. Jason Loh said,

    October 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    That is to say, no room for imitation, free-will, cooperation in salvation. No room for philosophy. No room for the Law, the opinio legis (legal scheme) where like recognises like; where the conformity, submission to the Law is the order of the day. None whatsoever … only faith and faith alone justifies … the way then (if one can speak as such) is not from virtue to grace but grace to faith … faith in the Word sub contrario (hidden under an opposite sign).

  53. Bob S said,

    October 8, 2012 at 1:04 am

    47 Pete,
    Come on, you know we believe in Sola Scriptura and not Sola Early Church Papa. Augustine is hardly infallible and you don’t touch the argument of the WCF.

    FTM I’m still trying to wrap my mind around Mr. Stellman’s (guaranteed? Lone Ranger?) offer of assurance according to the Roman paradigm in that that was what the Reformation was all about, wasn’t it? There is no point in selling indulgences and getting Luther all fired up if the faithful know they are saved by Christ alone by faith alone to begin with. But if the believer is still under some kind of covenant of works earning his salvation, albeit spirit infused works, well then maybe not when it comes to assurance.

    peace

  54. Andrew Preslar said,

    October 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    David (#35) and others have mentioned assurance of salvation vis-a-vis Catholicism. St. Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent both affirm the assurance of hope. In connection with the sacrament of penance, the Council teaches the following regarding assurance:

    But that which is signified and produced by this sacrament is, so far as its force and efficacy are concerned, reconciliation with God, which sometimes, in persons who are pious and who receive this sacrament with devotion, is wont to be followed by peace and serenity of conscience with an exceedingly great consolation of spirit. (Council of Trent, Session XIV, Chapter 3)

    For more information, see the post, St. Thomas Aquinas on Assurance of Salvation.

    Andrew Preslar

  55. Don said,

    October 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Andrew Preslar #55,
    I expect I’m missing something from the quote you give, but especially due to the “sometimes,” it seems to say “If you’re good enough and do the right things then you might have assurance.”
    Could you explain where there is any assurance in that quote?

  56. Andrew Preslar said,

    October 9, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Don,

    The assurance is found precisely where this excerpt from Trent says it is found: in the pious and devout reception of the sacrament of penance. But it is not only found there; cf. the post to which I linked in my previous comment.

    Andrew Preslar

  57. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Following on from Don (#56): Furthermore, how is assurance I the Roman sense related to the Protestant sense — of eternal security? The Roman sense based as it is on Augustine treads a fine line so-called between despair and pride (presumption). Augustine’s humilitas, however, is *at odds* with his incurvatus in se (curved inward on oneself). For the difference between humilitas and superbia (pride) is the difference between odium sui (self-hatred) and amor sui/ cupiditas (self-love) — IOW *self*-reference. This is why assurance of perseverance is impossible — particularly in light of Augustine’s other doctrinal feature, namely predestination.

    Luther turned the Augustinian humilitas inside out by removing the self as the introspective self, as the “reference point.” Humility is the antithesis of pride precisely because it looks outside of self to the external Word in creation (the union between Institution and Nature). Triadologically, it is the difference between the psychological and the social Trinity. Seeking God within-the-self is “Enthusiasm,” according to Luther. Humility as the opposite of pride therefore is faith clinging on the God-Man as He is present in the proclamation of the oral and sacramental Word, nothing more, nothing less. This is the esktasis spoken of by the early church fathers .. the ecstatic experience of living out of one’s self with others through the “I-it-Thou” communion patterned on the primacy of person(hood), i.e. the Ungenerate Father. Augustine’s model is more of “it-I-it” where the distinction between attributes & operations and movements and person breaks down and share the logical status – the movement of the soul (which properly belongs to human essence rather than person) to the Divine Essence mirroring the interior life (ad intra) of the Trinity –> the filioque where the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son and *is* the consubstantial and substantial love of both. It is the difference between St Paul and Plotinus.

  58. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Assurance in the classical Protestant sense means that as Luther found out that mercy and judgment occur one at the same time – distinct but not therefore separated. In the Roman sense, based as it is on Augustine humilitas versus superbia, the homo viator (pilgrim) status of the Christian is suspended between (past) mercy (misericordia Dei) and (future) judgment (iudicium Dei). Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Saviour but He is also the Judge to come. This is the temporal sequence. (As a digression, one can detect revivalism whether Wesleyan, Whitefieldian, Edwardsean, etc. operating on the same assumption — hence the expectation or need for spiritual terror).

    One of the dimension’s of Luther’s breakthrough – breaking through the opinion legis (legal scheme) via the proper distinction between Law and Gospel – resulted in the resolution of the two separate phases in the Christian life. IOW, judgment (alien work/ opus alienum) as an eschatological event occurs now in the living present and is executed in temporal sequence *before* the bestowal of mercy (opus proprium). There is no escape/ exit. This is the function of the theological use of the Law. The sinner under proclamation is killed/ destroyed (destruktion) completely by the Law only to be raised up anew by the Gospel. The proclamation is nothing else but the “extension” in time and space of the Cross. Thus, if one wishes to appropriate the medieval concept of imitation/ conformity to Christ on the Cross, then it is one entirely by faith and by faith alone.

    Hence, assurance is not based on self-anticipation – which is no assurance – but entirely the eschatological act of proclamation whereby the divine decree of predestination break-in, breaks-through to reclaim sinners and creation.

  59. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Incidentally, this is why the Roman system on the proper use the Law, i.e. the use of the Law as a means of righteousness and justification or more to the point, to use the Law as *self-defence* (alongside of course grace) against divine judgment is futile. The Law is not and never *neutral*. It cannot be for the Law always accuses/ judges. IOW, it is deadly, especially, particularly for one who is never fully/ completely justified.

    So, the Christocentric way is not to see the Law as a means of self-preservation/ self-justification but one can only die to the Law even as Our Lord Himself was cursed and damned and died under the Law.

    If one wishes then to imitate Christ and co-share in his sufferings on the Cross, then by faith and faith alone. This is why Our Lord said that “he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

  60. Don said,

    October 9, 2012 at 2:35 am

    Andrew Preslar #57,
    “Be good enough and keep doing the right things” does not at all seem like any sort of assurance to me. It sounds like a warning or threat. Or, more positively, an encouragement. But still not assurance. If that is basically not part of Catholic doctrine, isn’t it OK to say so?

  61. Andrew Preslar said,

    October 9, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Jason,

    I encourage you to read the post on St. Thomas Aquinas and the virtue of hope. Hope is not “a fine line between despair and presumption.”

    Don,

    The material that you keep placing in quotation marks is not what that quote from Trent actually says. Instead of commenting on the words that you made up and substituted for the teaching of the Council, it might be better to interact with the actual teaching of the Council, as well as that of St. Thomas on the virtue of hope.

    From these sources, it is evident that assurance of salvation is part of Catholic doctrine. There are Protestant doctrines of assurance (e.g., Puritan, Lutheran) that are not part of Catholic doctrine, but those are not the only possible doctrines of assurance.

    It could be that you are getting tripped up on the words “piety” and devotion.” But to approach the sacrament of penance or any other covenant gift and promise of God without these dispositions would be obviously inappropriate and ineffectual, not say sacrilegious.

    Consider for a moment what the words “piety” and “devotion” mean, at least for Catholics: According to St. Thomas, “piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit’s instigation, we pay worship and duty to God as our Father.” Devotion is similar to piety. In this context, devotion might be considered the practical expression of the spiritual gift of piety.

    A pious and devout person comes to the sacrament of penance precisely because he knows that he has not been “good enough,” and has not “done the right things.” And by means of this sacrament he receives grace, is forgiven his sins and reconciled to God and the Church. This truly is a source of “peace and serenity of conscience with an exceedingly great consolation of spirit.”

    Andrew Preslar

  62. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Andrew,

    Yes, but still an assurance that is not perpetual/ constant/ abiding is no (real) assurance. Precisely an assurance that is conditional on the piety and devotion of the penitent only breeds uncertainty as to the future. God is only merciful now if and when I’m truly and really contrite but there is no guarantee as to his mercy in the future — at least with regards to temporal liability and hence purgatory; hence not just penance but indulgences!

    Unfortunately the line between eternal and temporal liability is such an ever so fine line (hence the division between the purgatory as the mid-point between the beatific vision and hell), and the problematic of the Law’s satisfaction (i.e. according to the Roman system) remains. For it implies that Jesus Christ did not full satisfy the demands of the Law. There is a segregation of “energies/ operations/ wills” between God and the human, i.e. according to the natures/ the capacity & capability of each natures in relation to the satisfaction of the Law’s righteous demands. This in turn implies a Nestorian Christ — because the satisfaction of temporal liability is made possible only because, it presupposes the satisfaction of eternal liability. One Law but two distinct, nay, separate actors/ subjects … shades of Nestorianism.

  63. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Our Incarnate Lord did not atone for all sins; only eternal sins. There is still reparation for temporal sins or the effects thereof. IOW, temporal liability must still be atoned for by the Christian without which temporal punishment/ penalty remains unremited (by the Church). IOW, the God-Man did not assume the full dimension of human existence in sin and all its sinfulness. There remains temporal aspects of human existence unassumed by Our Saviour. Of course this fits well into the synergistic outlook of the Roman system where even the most rigorous Thomist affirms only monergism with regards to operative grace, i.e. at the beginning.

  64. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I have read Andrew’s article on Thomas Aquinas on assurance (re #55). My observations based on the article are as follows …

    1. Andrew acknowledged that: “It is true that Aquinas teaches, in language echoed by Trent, that one cannot know with “indubitable knowledge” that he is either in a state of grace or among those predestined to glory.” This clearly indicates Aquinas is merely following Augustine in the avoiding of “despair” and “presumption” in relation to assurance.

    2. It is also clear that assurance is *conditional* – that is, it depends on and requires the free-will of the Christian to “synergise” with God who desires the salvation of all and is merciful. And it is clear that the salvific will of God is, however universal, is defined only and operates only in conjunction with the free-will of man (consistent with the theological virtues and faith as mental assent). Andrew affirms as much: “Thomas’s claim that the assurance of hope is not founded upon “trust … in grace already received” ought not be taken to mean that sanctifying grace and good works are not necessary for salvation. Clearly, they are.”

    3. Thus, despite there is an *inherent contradiction* between the certainty of God’s mercy and uncertainty of the interior disposition which ought to be manifested in good works. So says Andrew (earlier on): “he need not conclude with certainty anything with respect to his own interior disposition towards salvation (i.e. whether he is in a state of grace), must not presume that reconciliation with God and the promise of glory occur apart from sanctifying grace, whereby he is cleansed from sin and enabled to do good works. IOW, assurance according to Thomas is uncertain certainty which is no certainty at all.

    4. Andrew’s concluding remarks which he cites from Trent’s Session VI, Chapter 6. alludes to the iustitia Christi (“grace of Christ the Redeemer” by which sanctifying grace is restored to the sinner). IOW, *initial* justification in Baptism but not *final* justification by which iustitia Dei comes into fore where the Christian is judged according to merits. Assurance pertains only to initial justification but not to final justification. This parallels Thomas’s teachings that Andrew quotes which refers to eternal life but makes no reference to the “mid-point.” This is the temporal culpa (guilt) and poena (punishment) which can affect immediate reception of eternal life and the beatific vision.

    In conclusion, whilst the goal of salvation is promised to all Christians, the assurance of the means of salvation re faith and good works is uncertain and dependent on the Christian himself/ herself. The problem is uncertainty in the means (even if only “half of it”) undermines certainty in the goal since the means is reception of the goal.

    IOW, whilst Thomas bids the Christian to look to and hope in God’s mercy (God for me) in the *in abstracto* as assurance, the increase and the outworking of sanctifying grace (God in me) in the *in concreto* is still necessary to attain the assurance of salvation (for the time being). This ultimately turns the in abstracto promise into an imperative/ subjunctive rather than indicative/ declarative.

    IOW, the Romanist wants to have his cake and eat it too.

  65. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Yes, there were different schools in the medieval Church, the Dominican being one of these. But Trent did not attempt to favour one school above the other as McGrath points out in Iustitia Dei. And the most important consequence of all — is that the medieval problem which confronted Luther (and the Protestant Reformers) never ever went away. The presentation (aggiornamento) may be different now notwithstanding the remnant Augustinianism in Mother Church in form or another which throws up the irony (if at all but then again maybe not) of hard predestinarianism (coupled with limited atonement) as held for example by the Jansenists is combined with rigorism in the Christian life which downplays assurance whereas the soft predestinarianism of theThomists is combined with a more accommodating outlook on assurance. But the problem of assurance for the homo viator regarding the future remains. This of course in principle undermines assurance in the present whilst past assurance offers no hope.

  66. Andrew Preslar said,

    October 9, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Jason,

    A major point of my post, following what is explicitly stated in St. Thomas’s article on hope, is that the assurance of hope pertains primarily to the end to be obtained; i.e., final justification / eternal life with God in heaven. Therefore, I am surprised that you read the post, but went on to claim that: “Assurance pertains only to initial justification but not to final justification.”

    In fact, Catholic assurance pertains to both the end (final justification eternal life in heaven) and the means (grace here and now). The former is accounted for by the assurance of hope, the latter by the grace of the sacraments.

    Synergism, which does involve our participation in the work of salvation (Philippians 2:12-13), does not undermine the work of Christ or preclude assurance of salvation, precisely because, per Phil 2:13, the believer remains completely dependent upon the mercy and power of God for his good works, and God’s mercy and power is the basis of assurance.

    Sacred Scripture sets forth several conditions for forgiveness, sanctification, and eternal inheritance (e.g., “If you confess your sins …”). Scripture also presents us with the doctrine of assurance of the same (e.g., “I write these things that you may know that you have eternal life”). Therefore, it would be a mistake to suppose that the presence of conditions undermines assurance.

    Andrew

  67. Don said,

    October 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Andrew Preslar #62,
    OK, so if piety and devotion are, in the Catholic paradigm, gifts from God, then that might change the tone of the quote from Trent toward assurance being based on God rather than man’s action. But if the context is penance, then it seems to me that the basis of assurance is still on what I do. So I guess my follow-up question is: does Catholic theology offer any assurance if I don’t perform the appropriate sacraments enough?

    You also haven’t addressed the word I said (in #55) that I was most concerned about, the “sometimes.” If this is only a statement of what often or usually happens, then there’s no assurance in applying it to a specific, individual believer. And “sometimes” is what “Trent actually says.”

  68. Andrew Preslar said,

    October 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Don,

    The basis of assurance is always God’s mercy and power, even when there are conditions, e.g., “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive is our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    Whenever there is a condition attached to a blessing, it would be presumption, not authentic assurance, to suppose that one enjoyed the blessing apart from the condition.

    Assurance is always based on something objective, i.e., the promises of God in word and sacrament. However, the subject of assurance is not an objective collection of persons (say, the set of all believers), but the specific, individual believer. The fact that some people who make use of the sacrament of penance do not enjoy assurance does not entail that no one who receives this sacrament enjoys assurance. Some do. As you know, people only “sometimes” respond in faith when the Gospel is preached. But this does not undermine the power of the Gospel to salvation.

    Andrew

  69. Don said,

    October 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Andrew Preslar #69,
    You’re missing my question. The Trent quote isn’t about what “sometimes” happens when the Gospel is preached. It’s about somebody who has already received the gifts of piety and devotion, (gifts being your, or rather Thomas’, word), performs the required actions of penance, who then “is wont” to have assurance. If out of everyone who receives the right gifts and does the right things, then on what basis is it decided who gets to receive this assurance?

    As you probably are aware, this version of assurance is so entirely different than that which is defined in, say, WCF 18, that I’m not sure it’s appropriate to use the same word.

  70. Andrew Preslar said,

    October 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Don,

    The analogy with the “sometimes” of believing reception of the Gospel was intended as a respond to your claim that if something does not occur every time for every one, then it does not occur for anyone. But that is obviously not true. Perhaps a better analogy would be this: Paul desired that all the members of the Church in Corinth would speak in tongues, but not all did. Does this imply that no one received the gift of tongues? Of course not. On what basis did some receive it? Who decided?

    Regarding assurance, one obstacle that some people face is scrupulosity. There may be other subjective factors, varying from case to case, that tend to promote or prohibit an individual’s enjoyment of the peace, serenity, and consolation of spirit of which the Council speaks. As you know, Reformed Protestants, particularly those in the Puritan tradition, are no strangers to personal difficulties with assurance. This is not a peculiarly Catholic problem, even as enjoyment of assurance is not an exclusively Protestant blessing.

    According to Catholic doctrine, assurance of salvation is not equivalent to or inseparable from being in a state of grace. Thus, one who lacks assurance regarding the condition of his own soul should not automatically conclude that he is not currently abiding in agape / in a state of grace. We do not judge anything or anyone before the appointed time, including ourselves (1 Corinthians 4:5).

    Protestants and Catholics have different understandings of many things, including grace, justification, sanctification, assurance, etc. But we cannot avoid using many of the same words to describe our respective (and often divergent) positions. For the Catholic, “assurance” is a particularly appropriate word to use to describe the position of St. Thomas on the certain hope of the wayfarer, and of Trent, regarding those gifts that a “wont to follow” a good confession.

    Andrew

  71. Don said,

    October 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Andrew Preslar #71,
    I’m struggling to understand what speaking in tongues has to do with this. Are you saying that assurance is not for all true believers? Is it only for some people? Is it earned or achieved? If assurance is not ultimate and complete, then how is it assurance at all?

    The only other thing I can figure is that maybe you’re considering “assurance” to be a feeling, rather than as an objective state. If my assurance is dependent upon my doing penance, then I should be nervous if I’m not doing it enough, and maybe also nervous if I don’t feel it. But if my assurance is based solely on God’s promise, then the assurance is there whether or not I feel close to God or feel like I’m doing a good job of following him on a given day. Would you say one “feels assurance” or “has assurance”?

    Again, what you’re describing is so different and apparently somewhat limited and/or conditional, that it’s really not at all what Protestants mean when they talk about assurance. It’s interesting that “assurance” was not even an entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia that you linked to.

  72. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Andrew (re#67),

    You wrote:

    “A major point of my post, following what is explicitly stated in St. Thomas’s article on hope, is that the assurance of hope pertains primarily to the end to be obtained; i.e., final justification / eternal life with God in heaven. Therefore, I am surprised that you read the post, but went on to claim that: “Assurance pertains only to initial justification but not to final justification.”

    But *reception* of eternal life is *conditional.* Whilst *assurance* of eternal life is, according to Thomas Aquinas, not conditioned on interior disposition, final justification is conditioned on synergism which means sanctifying grace and actual grace – the theological virtues and the outworking of these.

    The disjunction between assurance and reception ends up undermining the former.

  73. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Andrew re#69,

    “The basis of assurance is always God’s mercy and power, even when there are conditions, e.g., “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive is our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    But God’s mercy and power remains “conditioned” by the free-will of the human. There can, therefore, be no certainty *in* the assurance since to insist otherwise is to undermine synergism.

    Certainty pertains to faith but faith is defined as assent to the *objectivity* of Church’s teachings such as the salvific will of God. One can therefore be assured of the objective situation, i.e. the Church’s teachings. But in terms of subjective appropriation, even as Andrew has mentioned re#69, there is no “symmetry” or “idem species numero” (to borrow a cue from the Scotist theory of the Liturgy of the Mass where the unbloody oblation performed by the Church as the Body is identical with the Bloody Propitiation of the Head). There remains a “distance” or diastema (space/ gap) between the objective and the subjective.

    Andrew wrote: “The fact that some people who make use of the sacrament of penance do not enjoy assurance does not entail that no one who receives this sacrament enjoys assurance.” The subjective *condition* of the penitent may well prove a hindrance to the enjoyment of assurance despite the objective promises of God attached to penance.

    IOW, the subjective condition of the penitent must *precede* the objective efficacy of that “Sacrament.” Penance is the objective signum (sign) of the subjective res (reality) that takes place *in* the penitent. The absolution is therefore merely a declaration of the prior reality. There is no identity between the objective and subjective. It’s no comfort knowing this as Luther found out.

  74. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Don wrote (re#73): “If my assurance is dependent upon my doing penance, then I should be nervous if I’m not doing it enough, and maybe also nervous if I don’t feel it.”

    Yes, that is the nub of it (even if that might not be the intention).

  75. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    If I may, I think that it could be argued that penance and the last rites (including also the viaticum) stands out as anomalies within the Roman sacramental system. Penance seems to lack the “sacramental identity/union” (for wont of a better term) that the other Sacraments possess.

    The Christian’s Baptism is identical to Christ’s as the former is baptised into Our Lord’s death and resurrection and in His Baptism, Our Saviour identified with us (our Baptism).

    In the Lord’s Supper (or Mass for the Roman Church), the Body and Blood is taken orally by the communicant – which establishes immediate union by reception.

    In Ordination, the Roman priest becomes sacramentally identified with the High Priest (this is why the ministerial priesthood is male-only because Jesus is a man).

    In Marriage, the marriage of man and woman sacramentally embodies the marriage between Jesus and the Church.

    In Confirmation, one is immediately united to the progressive stages in the life of Christ where the spiritual maturity of the Christian parallels that of the physical maturity of Our Lord.

    IOW, penance seems to be a poor illustration/ imagery of *prevenient or unmerited* grace (in the Roman Church).

  76. Jason Loh said,

    October 9, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    If may put it again, in the Roman system, assurance is related to *future* salvation (abstraction/ potential). In classical Protestantism, assurance is related to *present* salvation (realisation/ real).

    Andrew employed the term, “eschatological” in his writing on Thomas Aquinas on assurance but the Roman term differs in meaning from the classical Protestant term. In classical Protestantism, the future is “brought forward” to the present — the Christian life here and now is “derivative” of the Christian life to come.

    In Romanism, the Christian life to come is dependent on the Christian life here and now. This is since assurance as regards eternal life is “co-located” in or “co-sourced” from temporal life (synergism). But this is awkward since even according to Roman theology, no human is capable making reparation for Original Sin and Actual Sins as regards the *eternal* wrath of God. But if Christ has made satisfaction on the Cross, why the need for penance (and assurance deriving from that *temporal* act)?

    This means that penance has no sacramental identity with the Cross, analogous to St Gottschalk of Orbais’ denial of the link between the Atonement and Baptism.

  77. Andrew Preslar said,

    October 10, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Don,

    In previous comment, I mentioned that in Catholic theology enjoying assurance of salvation is not the same thing nor inseparable from being in a state of grace. So one can have living faith (faith informed by agape) and, for various reasons, not enjoy assurance or certitude that he is in a state of grace or will attain final justification. As I mentioned before, one finds the same thing in Reformed theology, particularly in its Puritan expression. Assurance is a wonderful blessing, but its not simply part and parcel of being saved.

    I think that assurance is both a feeling and an objective state. Trent’s teaching on penance seemed to focus upon the subjective side of assurance, in describing the “great consolation” “peace” and “serenity” that “is wont” to attend a good confession. St. Thomas, on the other hand, in his teaching of the theological virtue of hope, focuses on the objective state of being certain, which is based on God’s promise for me in the Gospel. So it is a both and.

    The CE does have an article on “certitude,” which distinguishes several kinds or degrees of confidence that an individual can have regarding various things. I found that to be helpful. You can also refer to the long discussion with a Lutheran seminary professor following my post on Assurance according to Thomas Aquinas.

    Andrew

  78. Andrew Preslar said,

    October 10, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Jason,

    As I mentioned earlier, Sacred Scripture in several places stipulates various conditions for final justification / inheriting the kingdom / eternal life. So the affirmation of assurance is not inconsistent with conditions upon the blessing, unless you take it that assurance of salvation is not a doctrine found in Sacred Scripture.

    Andrew

  79. johnbugay said,

    October 10, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Andrew Preslar 78: Your whole interaction with Don here is disingenuous. The difference is, in the Catholic system, your “hope” or “assurance” is based on, “I can feel good about myself and my salvation if I keep on going to confession”. In the Protestant paradigm, it is rather, “I believe, therefore God will keep me”. The believer doesn’t have to “do” anything. One may trust in Christ alone for the “assurance”. In the Catholic system, the hope is, at best, “I believe God will keep me going to confession on a proper schedule”.

  80. October 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    John,

    I’m genuinely curious: If you were a pastor and a church member asked you if he could experience assurance despite not doing any of the things that Jesus says are necessary for being saved (such as forgiving others, carrying his cross, not practicing certain sins, or sowing to the Spirit), what would you tell him?

    In other words, would you stand by your insistence here that “the believer doesn’t have to ‘do’ anything” to have assurance?

    I ask, because such a position seems severely out of accord with the Puritan tradition.

  81. johnbugay said,

    October 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    The Roman Catholic “to do” list represents a whole super-structure of non-biblical things that you gotta do, on a regular schedule, before you feed your first hungry person, etc.

    “The Reformers’ forensic understanding of justification … the idea of an immediate divine imputation [of righteousness] renders superfluous the entire Catholic system of the priestly mediation of grace by the Church.” — (Bruce McCormack, “What’s at Stake in the Current Debates over Justification”, from Husbands and Treier’s “Justification”, pg 82.)

    In fact, should the Roman Catholic fail to do the “absolute minimums” of the Roman sacramental treadmill [at least under the pre-Vatican II list paradigm], and he or she could have fed all the hungry folks in the world, but that rejection of Mass / no confession was a mortal sin that nullified everything else.

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/10/roman-catholic-list-paradigms.html

    It is so ironic to me that you guys have got the testicles to just simply have forgotten that Roman Catholicism was the ultimate list paradigm for more than a thousand years.

    But if it’s inconvenient for you, feel free to sweep it all under the carpet. Semper eat’em, you know.

  82. October 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Was that supposed to be an answer to my question? I’m genuinely asking, because I am not sure.

  83. Darlene said,

    October 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    JohnBugay: You didn’t answer Jason’s question. Instead you responded by criticizing the RCC. I get that. You’ve made your position quite clear regarding the Roman Catholic Church. Why not answer the question JJS puts forth in the first paragraph? If not for him, for me. I’m not Catholic or Protestant and I’d like to be sure that my understanding of the Reformed position is correct.

    The way I understand it, if my salvation is a done deal, and it really doesn’t matter what I do because it’s all been done for me and my position with Christ is sealed in stone, then how should I live today, right now? And if & when I sin, does it even matter if I repent if my status with Christ is uneffected? And if the active obedience of Christ is the only side of the coin, then does it matter what I actively do in and with my body from now until my death? And how does once-saved-always-saved, or if you prefer, Perseverance/Preservation of the saints, foster the fear of God within the soul?

    You see…I’ve tried to reconcile the Reformed position with the stern warnings of the writer in Hebrews & (other places in Scripture), such as: “Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” Wait a minute…how can I fall away if my position is secure in Christ? And what about: “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” ?? So, need I even care about the condition of my heart if I’m guaranteed a place in heaven? And why did the writer of Hebrews even bother with such a warning if the outcome guarantees my secure position in Christ irregardless of anything I do or the manner in which I live? And then we’ve got the Hebrews admonition: “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Is the Christian not included in that no one category? Are the writings of Hebrews superfluous and unnecessary? I’d like to know because I’m faced quite often with a spiritual struggle, & temptations come my way rather fiercely at times. Is this struggle an illusion, or can it just be filed away in the category of unimportant, or does my part in this struggle and the choices I make – here and now in time and space – have any significance at all if my position is totally secure in Christ?

  84. johnbugay said,

    October 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Jason, a couple of things:

    I ask, because such a position seems severely out of accord with the Puritan tradition.

    This is not a question, but so far as I can tell, “Puritan tradition”, as effective as they may have been [I'm assuming you respect them], were not normative.

    In other words, would you stand by your insistence here that “the believer doesn’t have to ‘do’ anything” to have assurance?

    You ought to know how this works. See Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

    If you were a pastor and a church member asked you if he could experience assurance despite not doing any of the things that Jesus says are necessary for being saved (such as forgiving others, carrying his cross, not practicing certain sins, or sowing to the Spirit), what would you tell him?

    Nobody has to go out of their way to try to “do good works”. If a believer is wronged (and such opportunities will come), even if I don’t feel like forgiving person A, there will be a person B, a person C, etc. If a believer is not forgiving anyone, ever then I would suggest there is a problem. But the theology matters here. And no, I would not tell them “you better go out and look for good works to do, lest you end up having no evidence of your justification”.

    Have you read Scott Clark’s series on “Union with Christ”?

    http://heidelblog.net/2012/10/semi-pelagianism-and-faith-as-the-instrument-of-existential-mystical-union-with-christ-5/

    “Only the elect believe, I believe, therefore I’m elect…. Believers have union with Christ. I believe. Therefore I have union with Christ”. Etc.

    * * *

    However, even if I got all that all messed up, if the Roman system isn’t “divinely instituted”, if Rome truly isn’t what it says it is, then no number of confused Protestants make Rome right.

  85. October 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I still don’t think you answered my question. Forget the CC for a few moments and just provide a simple answer.

    I’ll state it again: If you were a pastor and a church member asked you if he could experience assurance despite not doing any of the things that Jesus says are necessary for being saved (such as forgiving others, carrying his cross, not practicing certain sins, or sowing to the Spirit), what would you tell him?

  86. Darlene said,

    October 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    JJS: You posted just before me with the same inquiry. :-)

    Oh, and by the way, if one’s position is secure in Christ, i.e.; imputed righteousness & forensic justification, well then why be so concerned for Jason Stellman’s soul? Was he not declared righteous upon regeneration and is that position not totally secure for him (within the Reformed viewpoint, that is) regardless of what he may do? Or is Jason a victim of false faith, and if so, how does one look for such a condition within themselves? I could go on further to inquire if Jason, or for that matter anyone, has been predestined to damnation per Calvin’s teaching, then isn’t it pointless to warn anyone? It’s all a done deal from before the foundation of the world and for the reprobate a lose-lose situation & of course for the one unconditionally chosen per Calvin’s teaching, a win-win situation. So, if I understand correctly, finally it doesn’t matter what one does per Reformed teaching on Predestination. If you’re chosen by God, or conversely damned by Him, there’s not a darned thing anyone can do about it. I suppose those in the former category can be consoled that they aren’t in the latter category. But then again, how can they know for sure? They could become like….er…Jason or one of those CtC guys. This all sounds rather fatalistic to me and not the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ at all.

  87. johnbugay said,

    October 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Darlene:

    You didn’t answer Jason’s question. Instead you responded by criticizing the RCC. I get that. You’ve made your position quite clear regarding the Roman Catholic Church. Why not answer the question JJS puts forth in the first paragraph?

    If the Roman system isn’t “divinely instituted”, if Rome truly isn’t what it says it is, then no number of confused Protestants make Rome right.

    The way I understand it, if my salvation is a done deal, and it really doesn’t matter what I do because it’s all been done for me and my position with Christ is sealed in stone, then how should I live today, right now?

    If your salvation were a done deal, you would not have the attitude that you could do whatever you wanted to do. “May it never be!”

    If your salvation were a done deal, you would respect the Scriptures as God’s word, and you would not doubt that God had the ability to communicate through the Scriptures without an interpreter.

  88. johnbugay said,

    October 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Did you all see Scott Clark’s latest?

    They call him our Lord, but with this condition, that the Servant of Servants of this Lord, may change and add to his commandments: having so great power, that he may open and shut heaven to whom he will; and bind the very conscience with his own laws, and consequently be partaker of the spiritual kingdom of Christ.

    http://heidelblog.net/2012/10/who-are-the-true-catholics/

  89. Darlene said,

    October 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    JohnBugay you said in #80; “In the Protestant paradigm, it is rather, “I believe, therefore God will keep me.” The believer doesn’t have to “do” anything. One may trust in Christ alone for the “assurance.”. Do you mean to say that believing and trusting are passive acts that render the will impotent? Do believing and trusting not require some act of the will, some need for obedience? Not long ago my Calvinist friend said to me, “There’s nothing I can do to please God.” Now that had me scratching my head because I thought we as Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live for and serve Christ, thereby being a delight to His heart. There is somethig that seems impersonal and dismal about Calvinism, if I may say so myself.

  90. johnbugay said,

    October 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Do you mean to say that believing and trusting are passive acts that render the will impotent?

    No. And perhaps Jason can explain to you how this works. He used to be a pastor, and I’m sure there was a time when Calvinism didn’t seem “impersonal and dismal” to him. And it probably wasn’t that long ago, if he can be trusted with his admission that he only started “fighting” just recently.

    Calvinism certainly doesn’t seem “impersonal and dismal” to me. In fact, there is a tremendous amount of freedom and joy to it. Both for the doer of good deeds, and the recipients. I know this because my wife was recently very ill, and my Reformed church was the biggest part of her life and mine during that whole time, when we had a whole slew of worries.

  91. sean said,

    October 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Darlene, JJS;

    I don’t really get this line of questioning. One minute we’re told the issues are paradigmatic(i.e. put on your roman/protestant glasses) then as protestants we’re told to consider certain scriptures divorced from
    their greater context in the entire testament(i.e. lets look at James and 2Peter without having Roman’s justification argument eclipse what it actually says in James-a big no-no as protestants read scripture) and then we’re flagged for bringing in romish paradigmatic issues like sacerdotalism. So which is it? Can I read scriptures in isolation from other scriptures and make them sound more roman or genevan or mormon for that matter? Yep. So what? Let’s do ball- bearings(paradigms) if it’s all about ball-bearings(paradigms) these days.

  92. October 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Sean,

    You only need to follow the comments back a couple clicks to see what I’m asking. John keeps insisting that assurance has nothing to do with anything we do, so I challenged him on that in the light of Scripture, and he refuses to answer me.

  93. sean said,

    October 10, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Jason,

    I get it, but then he’s answering with a paradigmatic point which trumps your concern or maybe better yet returns us to the purpose at hand. You are in here as an RC after all, and I assume still pursuing arguing for Rome but from the scriptures. So, it just seems a little narrow to argue for Rome while holding so much about Rome in abbeyance. There’s no talking about such things as it concerns Rome without also addressing the sacraments.

  94. sean said,

    October 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    One of the polemical arguments against Rome in these discussions is; what she gives with one hand she takes away with the other.

  95. October 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    But Sean, I assume you’d still have a theology if the Vatican burned to the ground and all the bishops on earth died (although John may run out of stuff to talk about).

    My question is a fair one, and a pretty simple one at that. Plus, it doesn’t require the Catholic Church to even exist to be answered:

    If you were a pastor and a church member asked you if he could experience assurance despite not doing any of the things that Jesus says are necessary for being saved (such as forgiving others, carrying his cross, not practicing certain sins, or sowing to the Spirit), what would you tell him?

  96. Don said,

    October 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Andrew, as far as I can tell, has not directly answered my question from #68, “does Catholic theology offer any assurance if I don’t perform the appropriate sacraments enough?”
    In #80, johnbugay has offered that the answer is “no, it doesn’t.” If any Catholics here would like to disagree with that, then I’d be glad to hear their response. But if the answer is along the lines of “Yes, with these conditions…” then please don’t bother. “Assurance plus conditions” may be encouragements, or threats, or exhortations, but if there’s no absolute basis for the assurance, then it’s not assurance at all. I’m not interested in probabilities.

  97. Don said,

    October 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Jason J. Stellman #95,
    What I would probably answer is that “assurance” is, fundamentally, not something you experience, but rather it is a state of being. Assurance is always based on God’s promises, which at least to some extent Andrew agreed with in #69.

    Obviously it is not a universal gift to all people, so it is a good question to ask how it can be recognized in (or by) an individual. The answer is not that doing the right things gives you assurance. But it could be said that doing the right things is evidence for, and makes you more aware of, one’s assurance. But if we don’t _feel_ assured, for whatever reason good or bad, that doesn’t mean that we break God’s promises and lose that assurance.

  98. sean said,

    October 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Jason,

    If he were ‘carnally presumptive’, I’d tell him he might want to reconsider his state. I’ve no misgivings that subjective assurance can be assailed. But the answer isn’t to receive the sacrament of penance and confession. You remember the analogy of the pilgrim and all the many false roads that promised relief.

  99. Darlene said,

    October 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    JohnBugay: You did not answer my question but rather, dismissed it with a conditional response, a response that erected a chasm, if you will, between the present dilemma and future outcome. You know, the if response…“If your salvation were a done deal, you would not have the attitude that you could do whatever you wanted to do.”

    Well, actually I think I could have that attitude because quite frankly there are times when I’d rather do a lot of other things than worship the Living God. And there are times when I’d rather commit sin than resist temptation with the full armour of God. And if I thought it was all a done deal, and that there was no chance of hardening my heart or falling away, No Matter What I Did because my position in Christ is secure, then I would not be urgent to resist sin, but become quite apathetic. Why bother if resisting sin and repentance are negligible because…well…there’s nothing I have to do because it’s already been done for me? I don’t even have to obey because in the Active Obedience of Christ paradigm, Christ obeys for me. So this will of mine is rather insignificant – a mirage if you will. Truly, Monergism befuddles me.

    Futhermore, I would suggest that such a view has a questionable Christology attached to it, since Christ had a Divine will and a Human will, and in the Incarnation He assumed humanity. And in that assuming of humanity we are made in the Image of Christ, and therefore have a free will as well. As the blessed Church Father said:

    “For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved. If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole.” – Gregory of Naziansus, Epistle 5

    So, it comes back to my (& your & all those others out there) Scriptural/Soteriological/Theological viewpoint/understanding. Now again, how exactly would you instruct me – in the here and now – if I’m being tempted to turn away from Christ and commit serious sin? What if I were to question (as a Calvinist) that I’m even one of the Elect? Is such questioning de facto proof that I’m not one of the Elect, because as you say….“If one’s salvation is a done deal……..”?? And what if one goes through a period of doubting, not necessarily the Scriptures themselves (though that could be the case) but that those Scriptures which pertain to the Elect, (as Calvinists understand,) do not pertain to them? Does such doubt proove one’s heart is unregenerate and that they are not of the Elect? I think Jason alluded to the Puritans of old for this very reason. But I suppose that if I’m not Elect all these questions hardly matter one way or the other. And if I am Elect I’ve nothing to be concerned about

    And now I’d really appreciate it if you, or someone in these parts, would answer my questions posed in posts #84, 87, & 90. I’ve dear Calvinist friends who I desire to communicate with regarding the nature of salvation, Christ, the Church, etc., but alas, we talk past each other. And I know a former Calvinist who, sadly, despaired of faith altogether and now is no longer a Christian, but embraces the New Atheism.

  100. Darlene said,

    October 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Sorry about my post with all the italics. It wasn’t meant to be that way, but hopefully it isn’t too confusing. Can such a thing be corrected?

  101. Darlene said,

    October 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Ok…most of it was corrected. I do look forward to your responses even though I realize that Jason is the main concern here.

    By the way, I am an Orthodox Christian as in Eastern, not a Roman Catholic. Carry on. :-)

  102. Andrew Preslar said,

    October 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Don (re #97),

    A person who is walking in the flesh, rather than in the Spirit, cannot enjoy authentic assurance of salvation. By living faith, we participate in the good things of God unto salvation, including the grace of the sacraments. A person who forsakes the assembling of ourselves together and refuses to confess his sins is spurning the grace of God by disobedience, and so abides in death. But no one who abides in death has eternal life dwelling in him. Therefore, such a person cannot enjoy authentic assurance of eternal life.

    I have already pointed out on several occasions that Sacred Scripture places conditions on several blessings of which we can nevertheless be assured (e.g., forgiveness, eternal life, final justification). Thus, the presence of conditions does not preclude the enjoyment of assurance.

    Andrew

  103. andrew b said,

    October 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Jason, wouldn’t you tell him/her to sell all possessions to the poor? Didn’t someone ask something similar in Luke 18? I dont get what’s getting everyone all confused here.. I’m probably lost in the weeds, but I say, as a hypothetical pastor to my hypothetical congregant, go read Luke 18. Whatever.

  104. Jason Loh said,

    October 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Jason (re#81),

    You wrote:

    “If you were a pastor and a church member asked you if he could experience assurance despite not doing any of the things that Jesus says are necessary for being saved (such as forgiving others, carrying his cross, not practicing certain sins, or sowing to the Spirit), what would you tell him?”

    If I may, I’d like to complement the Reformed response by John and answer on behalf of the Lutheran tradition. If I were a pastor, and a church member comes to me seeking to experience assurance, I’d ask that church member to confess his sins to me first. This is to prepare the way for assurance. Because assurance is a gift, not something one earns even if ever so “unmeritoriously*.

    Assurance is not a feeling, experience, illumination, etc. but faith and faith alone. To employ a classical or orthodox Reformed phraseology, assurance is of the essence of faith. I’m afraid there’s no such thing as half/partial assurance as taught e.g. in certain Dutch Reformed circles which the Reformed (and ex-Reformed) here would be familiar with.

    Thus, assurance comes from the outside, extra nos – it can be possessed but never owned. IOW, assurance is both objective and subjective one and the same time. This is because in a reversal of the reflexive faith, the “object” of assurance is the Christian himself/ herself whilst simultaneously Christ is the “Subject” of assurance.

    Thus, the Christian does not assure himself/ herself based on certain criteria – that’d be self-assurance. But the Christian simply hears the Word by faith and is assured thereby (extras nos). The Person doing the assurance is the Subject Himself, i.e. Jesus Christ Whose presence is mediated in the preached Word.

    The classical Protestant vis-a-vis Lutheran situation then would be – in response to Jason’s example given above: The Christian who comes seeking assurance inevitably is setting himself up for private confession –> confession of sins (though it is not necesary to confess or enumerate all sins) by confessing his *sins*, the same Christian is already under the accusing function of the Law. At the same time, that Christian is in the process of *repenting* his sins, otherwise there would be need no forgiveness in the first place –> then comes the absolution (either unconditional or conditional) – the Gospel part.

    Conditional here does not mean that is there is confusion of Law and Gospel in material terms but some Lutherans (due to Pietistic influences) confuse the function of the Law and Gospel in formal terms — “If you have truly repented ,.. by the authority given to me … I now declare unto the forgiveness …” The subject of the verb then shifts from Christ to the hearer. I disagree with conditional absolution but it does not entail conditional performance (obligation) but conditional circumstance (situation).

    Once forgiven/ receving the absolution, the Christian is sent home exactly in the same manner as when Jesus the preacher forgave sins, He sent the hearers back home. Where justification “ends,” vocation begins. The absolved is *free* to do good works for the neighbour. God doesn’t need our good works; our neighbour does.

  105. Dennis said,

    October 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Don #97,

    does Catholic theology offer any assurance if I don’t perform the appropriate sacraments enough?

    I’ll answer that question.

    Yes, Catholic theology does offer assurance of salvation if you don’t perform the appropriate sacraments enough.

    Those sufficiently graced by God can have assurance of salvation.

  106. Jason Loh said,

    October 10, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Darlene (#re84),

    You wrote:

    “You see…I’ve tried to reconcile the Reformed position with the stern warnings of the writer in Hebrews & (other places in Scripture), such as: “Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” Wait a minute…how can I fall away if my position is secure in Christ? And what about: “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” ??”

    Yes. Once we remove the *self* (violently as Luther was reported to have said – not by us removing ourselves but by having ourselves removed by another. This happens in Baptism where Jesus can takes us out of the Old Adam as both progenitor and the self and incorporates us into Him as the New Adam. This is what Luther meant when he said that we and Jesus are “baked into one cake” as an imagery in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) as the *subject* matter, then the scriptural warnings can be approached from the perspective of Christ as the *Subject* of Scripture. IOW, the warnings are applied *to* the Christian, not *by* the Christian. Or else it’s “Pelagianism” (or “Semi-Pelagianism”) all over again. These two pejorative terms are used to mean that ultimately we can only look to Christ as the Alpha & Omega, the source and summit of our salvation and everything that can be said our salvation.

    Thus, the scriptural warnings are not meant for us to “curve or collapse inwards” to make sure that we are *secure in Christ* – introspection only reveals our sins and thus the warnings apply equally to all Christians. But assurance of being in Christ is found in *Christ* alone.

    The issue of whether Christians can fall away or not is determined by whether the Christian is being addressed by Scripture as the proclaimed Word (preached God) or outside of the proclaimed Word (not-preached God) whereby Scripture becomes an “abstraction” to Christians in which case we are dealing with abstract categories, classes, sets of Christian divided accordingly. Any attempt to resolve the distinction between the two ends up undermining scriptural clarity and authority.

    Concretely, when the Christian is addressed by the scriptural warnings in preaching, he/she is encouraged (will) then to look to Christ as He is present in Word and Sacraments. The question of “election” (the quotation marks is in recognition that you’re Eastern Orthodox) vis-a-vis the “I” is not found within the self but ever externally in the external Word i.e. the Word in its oral and sacramental proclamation. The question of “election” as theology belongs properly to the hermeneutics of Scripture as written text. Otherwise we leave no room for the *freedom* of the Holy Spirit and the divine energies in the life of the Church. The distinction between the preached God and the not-preached God parallels the distinction between monastic (liturgical) and scholastic (philosophical) theology.

  107. Jason Loh said,

    October 10, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    “So, if I understand correctly, finally it doesn’t matter what one does per Reformed teaching on Predestination. If you’re chosen by God, or conversely damned by Him, there’s not a darned thing anyone can do about it.” (Darlene, re# 84).

    All the Three Persons are involved in predestination. The Father elected; the Son died, the Holy Spirit sanctified. Thus, the Holy Spirit sanctifies the elect.

  108. Jason Loh said,

    October 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    “Truly, Monergism befuddles me.” Monergism simply means that JESUS and Jesus alone is the Subject of every salvific/ soteriological verb. This is consistent with Jesus Christ as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Source and Summit of *my* salvation.

    The assumptio and recapitulatio is irresistible … the Person is the Work and the Work is the Person – Incarnation and Crucifixion are by the One Divine Person, i.e. what happened at the Incarnation happens precisely also at the Crucifixion, namely the communicatio idiomatum. Otherwise there the assumptio is incomplete and Nestorian; the recapitulatio is resistible and there are things, yes, persons whom Jesus did not – truly and really in the *concrete* reality – recapitulate and left out and hence *not* all of creation is recapitulated.

  109. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Darlene, re#100,

    You wrote:

    “Futhermore, I would suggest that such a view has a questionable Christology attached to it, since Christ had a Divine will and a Human will, and in the Incarnation He assumed humanity. And in that assuming of humanity we are made in the Image of Christ, and therefore have a free will as well.”

    Yes, but nature don’t will anything, persons do. IOW, whether wills are free *or* not is *determined* by the person. The Incarnation teaches us as much.

  110. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 4:33 am

    This article by John Bugay at Triablogue is excellent. So the need to place the link here again … http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-roman-catholic-bait-and-switch-on.html

  111. johnbugay said,

    October 11, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Jason Stellman 93:

    You only need to follow the comments back a couple clicks to see what I’m asking. John keeps insisting that assurance has nothing to do with anything we do, so I challenged him on that in the light of Scripture, and he refuses to answer me.

    I did respond to you directly in 85: “Nobody has to go out of their way to do good works”. The Puritans would certainly look to good works in one’s life as evidence that God had worked justification in a person’s life. But nobody was mandating that you do “good works” as a way of attaining salvation.

    The Roman system, at the time and now, was a behemoth of extra-biblical “things you’ve gotta do” — absolutely a “list”, all required outside of anything that Jesus said needed to be done.

    Jason Stellman 86:

    I still don’t think you answered my question. Forget the CC for a few moments and just provide a simple answer.

    You can’t forget the CC for a few moments. None of this occurs in a vacuum. The RC system existed, and the Protestants responded to it. They did so in a point in history, and if their emphasis didn’t seem quite appropriate at the time, it was because the original was so lopsidedly wrong.

    You studied at a Reformed seminary. You certainly understood better than I do how the Reformed Orthodox [the best theologians, IMO] would have characterized all of this. You really don’t need my response at this point.

    Search your own mind, and ask yourself, what is the more biblical way to go about doing achieving salvation?

  112. johnbugay said,

    October 11, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Jason Loh, thanks for your response in 104 regarding the Lutheran understanding, and your kind words in 110.

  113. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Thank you John.

  114. October 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    John,

    I did respond to you directly in 85: “Nobody has to go out of their way to do good works”. The Puritans would certainly look to good works in one’s life as evidence that God had worked justification in a person’s life. But nobody was mandating that you do “good works” as a way of attaining salvation.

    We’re talking about assurance, not justification. In the context of a discussion of assurance, you said that no one has to DO anything to enjoy it.

    So my question, which I have asked several times, has still not been answered:

    “If you were a pastor and a church member asked you if he could experience assurance despite not doing any of the things that Jesus says are necessary for being saved (such as forgiving others, carrying his cross, not practicing certain sins, or sowing to the Spirit), what would you tell him?”

  115. Bob B said,

    October 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    HI Jason,

    Please don’t confuse having assurance with experiencing it. In fact, assurance is most relevant and least experienced when we have failed to DO what we aught.

    Imagine your child sins against you gravely – she runs off unrepentant into a life of sin (the prodigal daughter). Assurance is when you call her up on the phone and tell her that she is your daughter and you love her anyways.

    In this hypothetical, your daughter might not ‘experience’ assurance from you on a day-to-day, and she probably isn’t feeling much love as you call her to repent (or as you chastise to encourage reconciliation) – but the assurance is that NO, it doesn’t matter what she does – she can never un-become your child (even if she was adopted).

    The Roman system, in contrast, puts our position as sons / daughters and co-heirs with Christ in constant flux – it changes based on the dead / alive position of our spirit according to when we sinned v when we last confessed. Assurance that you are God’s child is only available IF we are not in a state of mortal sin.

    Why does the Roman system put such stipulations in place, when we can see how in our own relationships with our children how to love them. If our example for fatherly love is God himself, wouldn’t He be able to give even greater assurance to us in the midst of our sin than we can give to our own children? Doesn’t the grace and love we show to our offspring pale in comparison to the love God can show us? If we don’t require our children DO anything to remain heirs, why do you insist that God does?

    In direct answer to your question – a pastor can say you ‘have’ assurance, but might not ‘experience’ it. However, I’m not a pastor – just a sinner who needs assurance every so often (especially when I sin). Believe your Baptism – and when you can love God back, begin doing the work he set out for you to do.

  116. johnbugay said,

    October 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Jason 115, I am not a pastor. Why don’t you ask some real pastors, or, absent that, why don’t you just refer to some of your seminary notes? All of those are likely to give you the kind of answers that you’ll expect to hear.

    If you want to know what the Puritans might say, this is on sale, 50% off, this week only:

    http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/8650?utm_source=A_Puritan_Theology&utm_medium=email&utm_content=cover_image&utm_campaign=A_Puritan_Theology

    No matter how bad you think some of the other responses may be (and I’m not convinced they’ll at all be bad), it doesn’t fix Roman theology. Rome was “the only game in town” for a long time.

    Enough folks rejected them in enough different ways that that should mean something to you. Look at the quality and intentions of the people who rejected them, first-hand. It’s too bad that there were multiple streams of thought going into the Reformation, that then went in different directions. But none of that means Rome was correct about any of this in the first place.

    You need to do a “thumbs-up” or a “thumbs-down” on Rome, apart from anything that anyone else is saying or doing.

  117. October 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    John,

    I am not a pastor. Why don’t you ask some real pastors, or, absent that, why don’t you just refer to some of your seminary notes? All of those are likely to give you the kind of answers that you’ll expect to hear.

    If you want to know what the Puritans might say, this is on sale, 50% off, this week only. . . .

    Let’s recap. You said this about assurance:

    In the Protestant paradigm, [assurance] is rather, “I believe, therefore God will keep me”. The believer doesn’t have to “do” anything. One may trust in Christ alone for the “assurance”. In the Catholic system, the hope is, at best, “I believe God will keep me going to confession on a proper schedule”.

    I challenged you on that with a question I have pasted verbatim 3 or 4 times. Your first answer dodged the question completely by insisting that justification is irrespective of anything we “do.” I responded by reminding you that we’re not talking about justification, but about assurance. Your answer then becomes, “I’m not a pastor. Why don’t you ask some real pastors?” You then refer me to my seminary notes or some Puritan works.

    John, I am not asking this question for my own information. I am asking how you, John Bugay, would reconcile your insistence that Protestants can have assurance without having to “do anything” (unlike with Catholics) with the statements in the NT like “Unless you forgive others, your heavenly Father won’t forgive you,” etc.

    If you’re going to make claims and then refuse to answer challenges because you’re not a pastor, then maybe you should stop making the claims. And continually railing against “Romanism” doesn’t help you, because any Protestant who knows his Bible could ask you the exact same question I am asking.

    You need to do a “thumbs-up” or a “thumbs-down” on Rome, apart from anything that anyone else is saying or doing.

    You’re in no position to make demands of me when you continually refuse to answer my simple question. Your tactic seems to be that as long as there are things about the Catholic Church that you consider bad, you no longer have to substantiate your own claims from Scripture.

    PS – Here’s the correct answer to my question (since you seem afraid/unwilling to answer it: “So, Joe Churchmember, you desire assurance of your salvation despite being unwilling to forgive others, sow to the Spirit, or bear your cross? Well, I certainly cannot see your heart, and neither do I have access to the Book of Life. But if you are admittedly not meeting any of the conditions the Bible attaches to being a believer, then you may be one, but I would be irresponsible to give you any assurance that you actually are. You need to check your heart and repent.”

    PPS – That’s the exact answer I would have given a member of Exile when I was its minister, and it is in direct contradiction to your assertion that having assurance is “irrespective of anything we do.”

  118. Bob B said,

    October 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I’m confused Jason, how can a pastor give a churchmember assurance? A pastors ‘job’ in that case would be to call the church member to repentance. We don’t go and call the church member to re-baptism, or even a re-conversion. They ARE ALREADY God’s child.

    Unless they aren’t – in which case, the call to them would be a conversion call. Is Joe Churchmember baptized? In either case, the feeling of assurance is between the churchmember and God, not the churchmember and clergy and God. Isn’t this one of the main reasons that Luther left?

    “Since God has taken my salvation out of my hands and into his, making it depend on his choice and not mine, and has promised to save me, not by my own work and exertion but by his grace and mercy, I am assured and certain both that he is faithful and will not lie to me, and also that he is too great and powerful for any demons or any adversaries to be able to break him or to snatch me from him.”

    Any demons and adversaries would also include ourselves and our self-destructive tendencies.

    So now that you are with Rome, where does your assurance come from?

  119. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Re Jason #118,

    Indeed, assurance *is* irrespective of anything we do. Otherwise, assurance becomes indistinguishable from self-righteousness/ self-conceit.

    On the one hand, assurance is not the same as justification; on the other hand, assurance is defined by how one grows in justification. This is classic Thomistic *begging-the question*.

    Roman assurance is something *we* have to *produce* – which ultimately means that it becomes a condition that we must have in order to be saved. Ironically, despite what is said, at the end of the day, obtaining assurance is *indistinguishable* from justification.

  120. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Carrying the Cross as the sum total of forgiving others, doing charity, etc. *presupposes* assurance. This is because carrying the Cross is DISCIPLESHIP. One who knows himself/ herself to be a disciple is already assured of his/ her position in Christ.

    The Christian to whom Jason alludes to as a case example – who seems to be impenitent – is one that needs to go back to Christ (e.g. return to his/ her Baptism) *first* — and then only afterwards go and carry the Cross once again. This is the sequence.

  121. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    What did Our Saviour the Preacher did to the woman caught in adultery?

    Prescribe penance?

    He forgave her sins and sent her home with the words:

    “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.”

  122. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    The Church does not “determine’ who get assurance or otherwise. This is supremely ironic for a Church (i.e. the Roman Church) that rejects double predestination to be deciding – based on the keys of heaven – who can be assured or not.

  123. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Thus, the Roman Church is ever semper eadem. Always the same ol’ institution that likes to mix grace with something else, indeed the divine with the human(!! — Adoptionism!!), confusing Law with Gospel, theology with philosophy, tree and fruit, etc.

  124. October 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Jason L., John B., and Bob S., there is nothing Jason S. said that is objectionable in #118. We shouldn’t fear agreeing with what is, even on orthodox Reformed terms, a correct statement regarding the nature of assurance. Yes, good works/cross-bearing and so forth are a necessary evidence of salvation that thereby underwrite our assurance.

    Of course, that is pretty much where the similarities between the Reformed and RCC systems end. Jason S. still has not established that “we are pretty much in the same boat” on the issue of assurance merely by concentrating on this one point. He wants to accentuate this one point of similarity while downplaying the myriad other issues that separate our doctrine from the RCC concept of assurance and result in assurance, for the Romanist, being far more elusive than for the Calvinist.

  125. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    If Jason’s contention that verses such as Matthew 6:15: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” places a sine qua non condition that requires human movement first, then considering other passages, not only there’ll be “degrees” of assurance (certitude), authentic assurance will be impossible. IOW, those degrees of assurance are, in effect/ in practice, merely “simulacrum” (picking up a word I learned from here by way of Triablogue) of the “real McCoy.”

    After all, the same interpretation should be accorded to Matthew 5:48:

    “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (consistent with the Roman confusion between Jesus as Gift to be simply received by faith and Exemplar to be imitated in faith and deed),

  126. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    David, yes, I agree with you about the importance of sanctification and good works. And indeed, as John has reminded us, Jason’s Roman system goes “further” or “beyond” good works, i.e. the entire sacramental system and the priestcraft … where the church as divine institution gets mixed up with church as human institution. Incidentally, the division between eternal and temporal sins has implications for political theology – a basis for the confusion between the two kingdoms.

    The Church becomes Eutychian in its worldly/ temporal ambitions whilst adopting Adoptionist methods in service of what is sees as extending the Kingdom of God.

  127. October 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Jason L., but that is just to say that we disagree on the issue of causality vs. evidentiary value of good works. That’s a pivotal issue, to be sure, but not one that would nullify our agreement with him that good works are necessary for assurance.

  128. Brad B said,

    October 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Hi Jason Loh, regarding

    “Ironically, despite what is said, at the end of the day, obtaining assurance is *indistinguishable* from justification.”

    This is why Paul oftentimes compels the early Christians to obedience with identity reinforcement. The idea that they need to be reminded of who they/we are in Christ and that they/we should be living in a way that is consistent with the reality that Christians have been redeemed to newness of life.

  129. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    No, David. Your point is well taken (although as a Lutheran but not a confessional Lutheran in the sense of full subscription to the Book of Concord ala LCMS I would place the evidentiary aspect under vocation).

  130. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Yes, Brad B. Re#120, there is actually no difference between the Reformation and the Roman approach to assurance in its relation to justification. For us, assurance is grounded in our justification before God. For the Romanist, obtaining assurance is not much different than increasing in justification because of synergy despite what Andrew (Preslar) has articulated regarding Thomas Aquinas’ teaching on assurance.

  131. Jason Loh said,

    October 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Re #130: ” … evidentiary aspect under vocation.” As in evidentiary value of good works.

    As a Lutheran, I’m more inclined to assurance in the external Word (extra nos) alone. But the Reformed perspective of the evidentiary value of good works as a basis for assurance is one which I understand, appreciate, sympathise and empathise (having come from a Reformed background myself).

  132. Don said,

    October 12, 2012 at 12:04 am

    OK, so I got two answers on whether Catholic theology offers true assurance, without fulfilling a bunch of requirements (performing sacraments) on the believer’s part. #103 is a clear “No.” But #106 seems to say yes. However, I’m not sure what “sufficiently graced” means. Would that mean assurance is the exception rather than the rule?

  133. Jason Loh said,

    October 12, 2012 at 5:05 am

    Jason and CtC read Matthew 6:14-15: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” as a condition.

    However, the Lord’s Prayer to which Our Lord alludes in this connection does not set a condition but simply has, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). IOW, God’s forgiveness of our sins and our forgiveness of the sins of other are assumed to take place *simultaneously* not sequentially, i.e. “one after the other.” IOW, the Father’s forgiveness and our forgiveness coincide as respect to occasion and location. The one who prays to the Father for forgiveness is also forgiving of others.

    Thus, Matthew 6:12 is the thesis and Matthew 6:14-15 is simply the antithesis. Otherwise, it proves too much even for the Roman paradigm which underpins Jason and the CtC’s understanding of Matthew 6:15, namely that God’s initial justification is prevenient and hence unmerited.

  134. johnbugay said,

    October 12, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Jason Stellman (118), here is Bavinck’s account of how justification and adoption and perseverance and assurance all work together.

    Paul … speaks of (huitothesia, adoption) in a juridical sense. Just as on the basis of Christ’s righteousness believers receive the forgiveness of sins, so they are also adopted as children (huioi theou; not tekna theou). This adoption, which therefore rests on a declaration of God, has been procured by Christ (Gal 4:5) and becomes ours by faith (Rom 3:26). Those who have been pronounced free from the guilt and punishment of sin are thereby simultaneously adopted as children and counted as objects of God’s fatherly love. Believers are thereby put in the same position as Christ, who is the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8:29). He was the Son of God by nature (Rom 8:32) and so was designated at his resurrection (Rom 1:3); believers become the “children of God” by adoption. And just as at his resurrection Christ was declared to be Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness (Rom 1:3), and believers are justified in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11), so by the Spirit of adoption they are made the sons of God (Rom 8:14–16) and are subsequently assured of their sonship by the same Spirit (Gal 4:6). As children, then, they are also heirs according to promise (Gal 3:29, 4:7; Rom 8:17), and since this inheritance still awaits them in the future, also their adoption in its totality is still an object of hope (Rom 8:23).

    Justification, which has its origin in eternity, is realized in the resurrection of Christ and the calling of believers, and is only fully completed when God in the last judgment repeats his sentence of acquittal in the hearing of the whole world and every tongue will have to confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. But though the “legal implications of adoption” are still awaiting them, believers have nevertheless already been adopted as children on earth. By the Spirit as pledge and guarantee, they are sealed for the day of their redemption (2 Cor 1:22, 55; Eph 1:13–14; 4:30) and kept for their heavenly inheritance as this is kept for them (1 Peter 1:4–5). By that Spirit, they are continually led (agontai as in Rom 8:14; not pherontai, as in 2 Peter 1:21), assured of the love that God has for them (Rom 5:5; cf. Rom 5:8) and of their adoption (Rom 8:15–16, Gal 4:6), and are now already the beneficiaries of peace (Rom 5:1; Phil 4:7, 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23), Joy (Rom 14:17, 15:13; 1 Thess 1:6), and eternal life (John 3:16).

    Justification is able to produce all of these splendid fruits because along with active justification it includes passive justification, and by the testimony of the Holy Spirit gives believers the consciousness and assurance that their sins are personally forgiven them (fides specialis). Those who oppose justification by faith and make it dependent on works cannot accept this assurance. Even Augustine did not feel comfortable accepting this doctrine and wrote: “God, however, has judged it better to mingle some who will not persevere with the certain number of his saints, so that those for whom security in the temptations of this life is not helpful cannot be secure.” Rome, accordingly, established that no one can know with certainty that one has obtained God’s grace except by special revelation (Trent VI c. 9, can 13–15), and Catholic theologians therefore speak only of a “moral” or “conjectural” certainty. In this connection Möhler said that it “would be extremely uncomfortable for him to be in the presence of a person who was always certain of his salvation,” and that he could not resist the thought that “something diabolical was at work in such an attitude.” Also the Remonstrants and in a later period Lutherans opposed the assurance of faith, at least with respect to the future. But the Reformed confessed the truth of election and ascribed to faith a firm assurance of salvation that could be obtained, not indeed from inquisitive inquiries into the secret counsel of God, but by the testimony of the Holy Spirit from the nature and fruits of faith.

    For faith, by its very nature, is opposed to all doubt. Certainty is not added to it later from without, but is from the beginning implicit in faith and in due time produced by it, for it s a gift of God, a working of the Holy Spirit. In it he bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Rom 8:16; Gal 4:6), prompts believers to glory in the fact that nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ (Rom 8:38–39) and assures them of their future salvation (Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13–14; Eph 4:30). And this assurance of faith gives buoyancy and strength to the Christian life. This is a point that Ritschl has made very clear: Among Catholics, justification is a process of equipping people for a moral purpose; among Protestants, it is the restoration of the religious relationship with God. The latter has to come first before there can even be a truly Christian life. As long as we still stand before God as judge, seek life by conformity to law, and are obsessed with the fear of death, that live is not in us that is the fruit of faith, the fulfillment of the law, the bond of perfection, which casts out all fear. But if in justification we have been granted peace with God, sonship, free and certain access to the throne of grace, freedom from the law, and independence from the world, then from that faith will naturally flow a stream of good works. They do not serve to acquire eternal life but are the revelation, seal, and proof of the eternal life that every believer already possesses. Faith that includes the assurance that with God all things are possible, that he gives life to the dead, calls into existence the things that do not exist (Rom 4:17), and always enables people to do great things. This faith says to a mountain: “Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,” and it will be done (Matt 21:21) (from Bavinck, “Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 4: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation”, pgs 226–229).

    Elsewhere he says:

    The Reformation attacked [the entire Roman system] at the roots when it took its position in the confession that sinners are justified by faith alone. Communion with God came about not by human exertion, but solely on the part of God, by a gift of his grace, so that religion was again given its place before morality. If human beings received the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, adoption as children, and eternal life through faith alone, by grace, on account of the merits of Christ, they did not need to exert themselves to earn all these benefits by good works. They already possessed them in advance as a gift they had accepted by faith. The gratitude and joy that filled their hearts upon receiving all these benefits drove them to do good works before the thought that they had to do them even crossed their mind. For the faith by which they accepted these benefits was a living faith, not a dead one, into a bare agreement with a historical truth, but a personal heartfelt trust in the grace of God in Jesus Christ …

    Actually, therefore, it was not faith that justified and sanctified, but it was the one undivided and indivisible Christ who through faith gave himself to believers for righteousness and sanctification, who was imputed and imparted to us on the part of God, and whom we therefore from the beginning posses in that faith as Christ for us and in us. From its very beginning, faith was two things at once: a receptive organ and an active force; a hand that accepts the fit offered but also works outwardly in the service of the will; a bond to invisible things and a victory over the world; at once religious and ethical (242–243)

    Further:

    …the Reformed, and the Reformed alone, maintained this doctrine [of perseverance] and linked it with the assurance of faith.

    Now the question with respect to this doctrine of perseverance is not whether those who have obtained a true saving faith could not, if left to themselves, lose it again by their own fault and sins; nor whether sometimes all the activity, boldness and comfort of faith actually ceases, and faith itself goes into hiding under the cares of life and the delights of the world. The question is whether God upholds, continues, and completes the work of grace he has begun, or whether he sometimes permits it to be totally ruined by the power of sin. Perseverance is not an activity of the human person but a gift from God. Augustine saw this very clearly….

    It is a gift of God. He watches over it and sees to it that the work of grace is continued and completed. He does not, however, do this apart from believers but through them. In regeneration and faith, he grants a grace that as such bears an inadmissible character; he grants a life that is by nature eternal; he bestows the benefits of calling, justification, and glorification that are mutually and unbreakably interconnected. All of the above-mentioned admonitions and threats that Scripture addresses to believers [which he discusses at length], therefore, do not prove a thing against the doctrine of perseverance. They are rather the way in which God himself confirms his promise and gift through believers. They are the means by which perseverance in life is realized. After all, perseverance is not coercive but, as a gift of God, impacts humans in a spiritual manner. It is precisely God’s will, by admonition and warning, morally to lead believers to heavenly blessedness and by the grace of the Holy Spirit to prompt them willingly to persevere in faith and love. It is therefore completely mistaken to reason from the admonitions of Holy Scripture to the possibility of a total loss of grace. This conclusion is as illegitimate as when, in the case of Christ, people infer from his temptation and struggle that he was able to sin. The certainty of the outcome does not render the means superfluous but is inseparably connected with them in the decree of God (267–268).

    All of this is rooted in God’s covenant of grace. This is why the concept of ad fonts [back to the sources] was so important at the time of the Reformation. Believers for the first time could read the Scriptures straight through, in the original Hebrew, and gain the flavor of the blessings that the Jews [some of them] understood: that God is a God of promise and covenant:

    The Old Testament already clearly states that the covenant of grace does not depend on the obedience of human beings. It does indeed carry with it the obligation to walk in the way of the covenant but that covenant itself rests solely on God’s compassion. If the Israelites nevertheless again and again become unfaithful and adulterous, the prophets do not conclude from this that God changes, that his covenant wavers and that his promises fail. On the contrary: God cannot and may not break his covenant. He has voluntarily—with a solemn oath—bound himself by it to Israel. His fame, his name, and his honor depend on it. He cannot abandon his people. His covenant is an everlasting covenant that cannot waver. He himself will give to his people a new heart and a new spirit, inscribe the law in their inmost self, and cause them to walk in his statutes. And later, when Paul confronts the same fact of Israel’s unfaithfulness, his heart filled with grief, he does not conclude from this that the word of God has failed, but continues to believe that God has compassion on whom he will, that his gifts and calling are irrevocable, and that not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel (Rom 9-11).

    Similarly, John testifies of those who fell away: they were not of us or else they would have continued with us (1 John 2:19). Whatever apostasy occurs in Christianity, it may never prompt us to question the unchanging faithfulness of God, the certainty of his counsel, the enduring character of his covenant, or the trustworthiness of his promises (269).

  135. Jason Loh said,

    October 12, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Thus if one pursues the Roman logic of Jason and CtC, one is forgiven (made worthy) in order to be forgiven (made worthy), and so the temporal cycle goes on(!) This of course can be the Reformed and the Lutheran “throwback” answer at Bryan Cross’s contention not too long ago that the Protestant doctrine of imputation entails that the double imputation is repeated again and again.

  136. johnbugay said,

    October 12, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Jason Stellman (118), in light of what Bavinck says in my previous comment (135), and what the others here have said in the intervening comments, your “correct answer” seems to miss the mark greatly, given that you failed to understand God’s promise to the believer, and you failed to share God’s promise.

    Are you sincerely not mindful of what Bavinck said? Or do you just conveniently forget how all this works?

    If “that’s the exact answer” you would have given, you were indeed not a very good pastor, and it’s a good thing that the wolves from CTC have picked you off and carried you away from God’s flock. You need to be taught a lesson.

    From a historical, contextual perspective, you do indeed need to “do a thumbs-up or a thumbs down on Rome”. This is not a demand I am making of you. Rome itself makes this demand.

    The Reformers certainly looked at it in this light. All concluded that Roman authority indeed is not what it claims to be and is rightly rejected.

    You, however, seems to come to the opposite conclusion. You have accepted, in toto, all that Rome claims for itself.

    Now that is something you have to ask yourself. Is Rome correct about everything doctrinally? Is their “formal proximate object of faith” precisely the thing that the God of Israel would have you believe?

    Or are you just somehow feeling an inferiority complex because you can’t reason your way out of the problems that Bryan Cross poses to you.

    I genuinely think it’s the latter.

  137. Jason Loh said,

    October 12, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Indeed, as I’ve mentioned double imputation is repeated but not in the Roman sense which is temporal but rather eschatological from Luther’s theology. But as it is, Jason and CtC’s interpretation of Matthew 6:14-15 made Bryan Cross’s charge redundant.

  138. Jason Loh said,

    October 12, 2012 at 9:15 am

    If I may add further, to interpret Matthew 6:14-15 as conditional divine forgiveness implies a human forgiveness that is motivated by self-love/ self-interest. We forgive others in order to enjoy God’s forgiveness. Hardly an appropriate ground to address God as Our Heavenly *Father*.

    Of course, conditional forgiveness implies that divine and human forgiveness in blurred. Worst it implies that human forgiveness (unconditional vis-a-vis fellow human object) trumps divine forgiveness (conditional vis-a-vis the human object) as the most eminent symbolism/ or mimetic act of the Cross of Jesus Christ – hence Adoptionism. This means that conditional forgiveness leaves no room for imitation of the Cross apart from rendering its appropriation as superfluous.

    The Protestant paradigm is that Matthew 6:14-15 dealing as it is divine forgiveness and not just human forgiveness means that it is both eschatological *and* temporal one at the same time. IOW, God does not respond to our forgiveness as a condition to be met. Instead the final judgment where the forgiveness of God is to be had is brought *forward* into time and space which is the divine liturgy in the Absolution, Lord’s Prayer, etc.

    IOW, Law and Gospel distinction as applied to Matthew 6:15-15. Human forgiveness under the civil/ political or 1st use of the Law is conditional. The sequence is temporal. Human forgiveness in Matthew 6 is the 3rd use of the Law (2nd use of the Gospel) as subsumed under the 2nd use of the Law (theological). We forgive others because we have already been forgiven by God, am being forgiven, and will be forgiven by God – the divine act of which is one and the same and therefore focussed in the present tense.

    So in the Protestant paradigm, the verb “will” in relation to *divine* forgiveness is not a temporal act but an eschatological act of judgment and mercy simultaneously brought forward into the present time and space. For the Roman paradigm, divine forgiveness is a temporal act dispensed by the Church as e.g. in penance but this divine forgiveness is Adoptionistic because of synergy and limited in scope. IOW, wrath is merely *postponed* or *averted*. Divine forgiveness is like human forgiveness – an opportunity for the Christian to be a better person – amend his/her ways and progress in the life of justification/sanctification.

    Luther reversed the order so that wrath & judgment comes first to completely destroy the sinner as the work of mercy (overlapping with) forgiveness of sins and justification. In all of this we are completely passive.

    Hence, Matthew 6:14-15 dealing as it is with *divine* forgiveness is an *eschatological* condition in which we are rendered passive before God. There is room for the 1st us of the Law in terms of human forgiveness. But both cannot be mixed or confused.

  139. Jason Loh said,

    October 12, 2012 at 9:28 am

    In addition to the christological heresy of Adoptionism, conditional forgiveness implies Nestorianism where divine forgiveness is merely confirmation of the prior act of human self-worthiness. Sin before God is atoned for by the human forgiveness prior to divine forgiveness. For I forgive others in order to be forgiven by God, it means that my act is worthy. And if worthy, formally at least I no longer guilty. Hence the *division* between divine and human part – ironically due to confusion of both – in the DIVINE forgiveness is Nestorian.

  140. October 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    John,

    I wrote: “Here’s the correct answer to my question (since you seem afraid/unwilling to answer it: ‘So, Joe Churchmember, you desire assurance of your salvation despite being unwilling to forgive others, sow to the Spirit, or bear your cross? Well, I certainly cannot see your heart, and neither do I have access to the Book of Life. But if you are admittedly not meeting any of the conditions the Bible attaches to being a believer, then you may be one, but I would be irresponsible to give you any assurance that you actually are. You need to check your heart and repent. . . . That’s the exact answer I would have given a member of Exile when I was its minister, and it is in direct contradiction to your assertion that having assurance is ‘irrespective of anything we do.’”

    And you responded:

    If “that’s the exact answer” you would have given, you were indeed not a very good pastor, and it’s a good thing that the wolves from CTC have picked you off and carried you away from God’s flock. You need to be taught a lesson.

    You’re an amusing guy, John Bugay. I ask you a very simple question, you refuse to respond to it (and still have not), but instead cut and paste 1,729 words of Bavinck’s as a response (despite my being clear that I was asking you in particular), and then you turn around and criticize the answer I said I would have given to the question I myself asked, that you are too afraid to answer with your own words?

    I really am glad you’ve found your niche, because this stuff is just priceless!

    PS – Here’s what David Gadbois said about my answer (the one that made me “not a very good pastor”):

    [We agree] with him that good works are necessary for assurance. . . . There is nothing Jason S. said that is objectionable in #118. We shouldn’t fear agreeing with what is, even on orthodox Reformed terms, a correct statement regarding the nature of assurance. Yes, good works/cross-bearing and so forth are a necessary evidence of salvation that thereby underwrite our assurance.

    Watch out, David, John Bugay’ll be gunnin’ for ya before long! Don’t worry, though, he’s kind of cute when he huffs and puffs and starts foaming at the mouth! My advice? Just make some popcorn and watch him shadowbox for a few hours before he tires himself out and falls asleep.

  141. johnbugay said,

    October 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Jason Stellman 141, if you are aware of some place where you can cut and paste Bavinck, let me know, because I keyed that all in. And I didn’t do that for you. We always have the lurkers in mind. Maybe others will cut and paste this now.

    You can laugh this off, but simply not being objectionable doesn’t mean you’re doing the right thing.

    I have more than answered your question. For all your bluster, there continues to be a huge difference between works as an evidence of salvation and “the precepts of the church” (etc.) which you gotta do. That’s easy enough to see.

  142. andrew b said,

    October 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    From the lurkers corner:

    Yes, we read this stuff. Thanks to all you hard working comboxers.

  143. sean said,

    October 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    JJS,

    Speaking as one of those who traveled the bridge the other direction, you have to cut us some slack when we find the whole proto-catholic enterprise just a bit exasperating if not at times disingenuous. You’ve joined quite the eclectic church body and more often than not, the CTCers attempt to paint a monolith of belief, much less practice, apart from the mass(i’ll concede that ground of uniformity), is, well, humurous if it weren’t tragic. Bryan Cross comments that you have to be in a while before you get the complete sense of what it means to be or understand her doctrine-it’s a family(paraphrase). Well, John and I have been to the ‘circus’ and seen the ‘show’. We’ve been part of the family longer than you and a couple of CTCers combined. Some of us even trained to be clergy. So, when you want to start the discussion with ‘let’s just see if Rome is plausible from a plain reading of scripture’, my first response is ‘huh’? We didn’t even read the bible until 1965 and we were so bad at it, we had to borrow from protestant liberalism just to find room for our oral tradition to serve as doctrinal guide when the ‘plain reading of scripture’ contradicted previously articulated beliefs. I appreciate that you see yourself as being generous in these efforts, and that CTC see themselves as vanguards against the progressives of Vat II and I’m sure you can exegete me to death, but I do know who and what Rome is and though you do not mean it to be, the whole enterprise is quite pollyannish. I’ll even grant that Rome is happy to extend the tent pegs to include the proto-catholic, anglo-catholic communions, maybe even a forensic theologian or a 100. But that just adds another layer to a deposit of faith that already says too much and leaves so much ground to defend, that of course the fallback position ends up being, well, “I’ve surrendered my autonomy to the one holy and apostolic and Roman church.” “I believe that I might understand.” When she says everything, how are we to know when she really means it? The ground that ultimately must be defended, because it’s her one place of both visible and practicing unity is; sacerdotalism. It is the Mass. So when we respond back; “but what about the sacraments?” It’s not a dodge, but a reckoning with the elephant in the room. BTW, I responded to you straight up at # 99

  144. October 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    John,

    For all your bluster….

    Oh, that is just too rich! Seriously, comedic irony like this is a skill, John. You really should take your act on the road!

  145. Bob S said,

    October 12, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    145 snicker

    This from the author of I Fought the Lord, But the Lord Won sic (cf. 2 Thess. 2:11,12) wherein he denies WCF 1:9, that the clearer places in Scripture shed light on the more obscure:

    As a Protestant minister, I had always operated under the assumption that the fullest treatment of the gospel, and of justification in particular, came from the apostle Paul, and that the rest of what the New Testament had to say on these issues should be filtered through him. But as I began to investigate again things that I had thought were long-settled for me, I began to discover just how problematic that hermeneutical approach really was. If justification by faith alone was indeed “the article on which the church stands or falls,” as Reformed theology claimed, then wouldn’t we expect it to have been taught by Jesus himself, somewhere? Moreover, wouldn’t John have taught it, too? And Peter, and James? Shoot, wouldn’t Paul himself have taught the imputation of alien righteousness somewhere outside of just two of his thirteen epistles?

    Having realized that I was using a few select (and hermeneutically debatable) passages from Romans and Galatians as the filter through which I understood everything else the New Testament had to say about salvation, I began to conclude that such an approach was as arbitrary as it was irresponsible.

    Really. Let’s pretend everybody has to be smarter than they are to understand that. As in “res ipsa loquitur”.

    Likewise this gem from the discussion of On Faith, Hope and Love:

    1. Where does the Bible teach that the sole infallible norm for the Christian is the Scripture? And keep in mind that no one in this discussion is seeking to minimize the Bible’s value or inspiration (meaning that a mere appeal to II Tim. 3:16 is insufficient since no one disputes what it says).

    2. Do you agree that Sola Scriptura was not operative during the time of the apostles’ ministries, but rather, that the Word of God at that time consisted of both written and oral teaching?

    3. Finally, if you answered “yes” to #2, then how do you think Sola Scriptura first emerged in the post-apostolic church given the fact that the apostles nowhere in the NT gave any indication that the way the church was governed would change after their deaths from living officers to a collection of writings?

    While I appreciated S.Ádám’s comments, he didn’t really nail it.

    1. When 2 Tim. 3:17 says Scripture equips the man of God for every good work . . . uhhh that’s what it means, even every good work necessary for salvation — or even determining whether Romans trumps the Gospels for defining justification by faith alone.

    2. Nobody denies that SS was not operative in the interim period between the testaments and the death of the apostolic witnesses. But neither do the orthodox deny that one: there was ever any contradiction between the written and oral traditions, much more two: that with the New Testament we have the essence, if not the verbatim of the oral traditions inscripturated. End of supposed problem.

    3. See 1 above. It was already “indicated” in 2 Tim. 3:17 which our roman convert so studiously and adroitly ignores. Following in the footsteps of the patriarch of the sectarian CTC, one B. Cross. Much more, in the Gospels, where does Christ ever appeal to the oral traditions over Scripture?

    Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matt. 4:4, Lk. 4:4, Deut.8:3

    All this before we get to discussing whether Rome believes in assurance.
    As in the Council of Trent’s 6:16:

    If anyone says that he will for certain, with an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance even to the end, unless he shall have learned this by a special revelation, let him be anathema.

    But in 25 above we are told:

    Yes, there are significant differences between us. But one of them is not that you [protestants] get to offer people a better version of assurance than I can.

    But he who shall not be questioned does not reply to he who shall not be read, so pound sand boys and girls. The mighty apologetical juggernaut of the CTC rolls on and over all objections, if it does not just plain ignore them.

    And of course, if one begins with faulty presuppositions, one can prove/assume anything.
    Which is exactly what is going on.
    Even before getting to assurance and having conveniently bypassed the mass.

  146. Dennis said,

    October 13, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Don @133
    However, I’m not sure what “sufficiently graced” means. Would that mean assurance is the exception rather than the rule?

    Man is not saved by the Sacraments. Man is saved through the grace of God. If God bestows sufficient grace on a person–regardless of sacraments, then that person has assurance of grace. (Note: He doesn’t KNOW he has assurance…but that’s not what you asked).

    The Sacraments are not a means of salvation. The Sacraments are a visible sign of the invisible grace. God gives man the grace and he is saved through the grace. So, the Sacraments are a visible sign that man is receiving sufficient grace, however, God is not bound by the sacraments and has the ability to bestow grace on whomever He pleases.

    So, to answer your question, assurance is the rule for all men sufficiently graced and not the exception. .

  147. Don said,

    October 13, 2012 at 4:08 am

    Dennis #147,

    Note: He doesn’t KNOW he has assurance…but that’s not what you asked

    OK, this is getting bizarre. How is assurance not, by definition, known? Why would I have had to ask? We’re not talking about whether an individual’s salvation is assured (which is, certainly, known by God); we are talking about whether an individual can be assured of their own salvation, which necessarily involves a knowledge component.

    So based on this conversation, it’s becoming clear to me that Catholic theology explicitly rejects the Protestant view of assurance as a certainty based on God’s promises. Rather, at best it can offer a limited, conditional, and possibly unconscious assurance, which seems to me to be of very little comfort or value. Maybe the Catholics should just find a different word to use.

  148. Dennis said,

    October 13, 2012 at 6:21 am

    we are talking about whether an individual can be assured of their own salvation, which necessarily involves a knowledge component.

    Well, then, my apologies for the misunderstanding. When I see “assured” I don’t see the assumption of a knowledge component.

    Catholic theology does reject the Protestant view of self assurance.

    Salvation is something that is known but to God and is given through sanctifying grace and being in a state of grace at the time of death.

    We are called by Scripture to work out our salvation in “fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) which to me implies that there is no assurance.

    How does a Protestant–without receiving sacraments–know that they have received sanctifying grace?

    A Catholic hopes for the salvation for all people at the time of death including themselves.

    Assurance is assuming something that only God knows.

  149. johnbugay said,

    October 13, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Dennis 149: We are called by Scripture to work out our salvation in “fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) which to me implies that there is no assurance.

    This is mistaken. “Work out” does not imply that salvation is dependent on these “works”. Consider Eph 10: “or we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

    The foundation of this comment for Paul was Eph 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

    We are already “saved” (not merely “justified”) before we begin to walk in the good works that God prepared beforehand. It’s a done deal, and we may know that assurance.

    [Paul is not explaining these things so that we can somehow weave some kind of doctrine of sacraments into them. These are foundational explanations of what happens to us, what God does to and for us.]

  150. andrew b said,

    October 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Westminster chapter 18 was mentioned earlier, somewhere (I think on this string, maybe elsewhere). Check out the whole chapter Dennis, but this will do for right now:

    I. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation[1] (which hope of theirs shall perish):[2] yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace,[3] and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.

  151. andrew b said,

    October 13, 2012 at 9:43 am

    That is such a wonderful chapter, I feel compelled to emphasize, and post a link.

    “…
    being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto.”

    http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/

    In my ordination class, for deacon, where we studied the WCF, chapter by chapter, we made a point to pause on this chapter,and discuss what an ‘infallible assurance of faith,’ for the believer, is. I was struck by it. And the memory sticks out. Assurance is a big deal, and I’m happy to see a discussion of it here, between Roman Catholics and Protestants. For me, in my experience, this was a liberating thing to learn about, so enjoy relating my expeirnece of coming into contact with it. I do believe these reformed teachings are Scriptural and true.

    Peace,
    AB

  152. michael said,

    October 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    John B.

    reading that response to #149 I thought of that verse in Hebrews 4:

    Heb 4:9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
    Heb 4:10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
    Heb 4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

    The work we are called to do, as the Apostle there in Ephesians 2 develops is “good works” already prepared.

    The obedience to enter those works is to first cease or rest from our own works as God did from his.

    I guess the fracas could be over the work of obeying the Word of God and God of the Word?

    I like the way the Apostle develops that here:

    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.
    Act 20:33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.
    Act 20:34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.
    Act 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

    Once the Holy Spirit gets us trained up to do the works of God, those good works referenced at Eph. 2:10, we realize just how easy it really really is confirming what Jesus said, here about it, too:

    Mat 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
    Mat 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
    Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
    Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  153. Sean Patrick said,

    October 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    John.

    Why not just answer Jason’s question?

  154. johnbugay said,

    October 13, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Sean, I did.

  155. Sean Patrick said,

    October 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    John.

    I must have missed it. In which comment did you answer Jason’s question:

    “If you were a pastor and a church member asked you if he could experience assurance despite not doing any of the things that Jesus says are necessary for being saved (such as forgiving others, carrying his cross, not practicing certain sins, or sowing to the Spirit), what would you tell him?”

  156. Dennis said,

    October 13, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Andrew (151),

    Thank you very much for the WCF reference. While it conflicts with Catholic teaching (regarding assurance), there is a lot of it I can agree with. I do think it’s true that if a person sincerely believes in the Lord Jesus and love (meaning obedience to Christ per Scripture) Him in sincerity that that person would be “saved”, I don’t think we can “know” because we cannot see into the future and we are presuming something that only God knows.

    We can trust and hope in His promise if we remain in friendship with Christ but we should as per Philippians 2:12, work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

    Similarly, I can trust and hope that my wife and I will remain happily married until death but it’s not something I can presume…I need to work on my marriage one day at a time. It’s a walk in faith over a lifetime. It doesn’t mean that I’m on a “treadmill” with my marriage…walking a line between hope and despair.

  157. Dennis said,

    October 13, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    John (150),

    This is mistaken. “Work out” does not imply that salvation is dependent on these “works”. Consider Eph 10: “or we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

    Scripture explains clearly throughout…that we are called to love Christ and in love we are obedient to Him.

    Preceding Ephesians 2:8-9, in v. 2, Paul explains how they “once lived following the age of this world…” and how the spirit is now at work in the disobedient.

    To me, this implies that those who are saved by grace through faith are obedient (seeing as how they were once “disobedient.”)

    In Philippians 2:12, Paul mentions obedient as you have always been… which implies that it’s obedience that is key to working out your salvation in fear and trembling.

    So, in both cases, Paul is explaining that we need to love Christ by being obedient to Him in all things. If we are disobedient (e.g. by not forgiving all who have sinned against us) then we would not be saved. as we are not loving Christ as He commands us to forgive our neighbor 70×7 times.

  158. Don said,

    October 13, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Dennis #149,
    Please remember the next verse, which states who does the actual work (if I could phrase it that way): “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13) If it is God who is ultimately working out my salvation, then what uncertainty is left?

  159. Dennis said,

    October 13, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Don,

    If it is God who is ultimately working out my salvation, then what uncertainty is left?

    The way I understand this is that we are slaves to God…we are obedient to Him. So, God works in us. God commands us and we obey…He “works” in us. If we are obedient, then we do His will and His love takes over the world. We spread His love and the Gospel to all the corners of the earth.

    If we are disobedient, or “grumble” or “question” (per v.14) then we should have “fear” and “trembling” in our hearts for our salvation could be in jeopardy.

    Per v. 15, we must be blameless and innocent children of God…shining like lights in a wicked and perverse generation.

    We do that through obedience to God’s will.

  160. sean said,

    October 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Dennis,

    Is it possible to be obedient to God’s will, if knowing the claims of roman catholicism as to exclusivisity regarding apostolic succession and subsequent sacramental and priestly mediation, one rejects such claims and determines to not submit to Rome’s mediation?

  161. Dennis said,

    October 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    sean,

    Is it possible to be obedient to God’s will, if knowing the claims of roman catholicism as to exclusivisity regarding apostolic succession and subsequent sacramental and priestly mediation, one rejects such claims and determines to not submit to Rome’s mediation?

    Being obedient to God’s will is not necessarily about Rome or apostolic succession. It’s not about being Protestant. It’s about being a Christian. It’s to seek His will daily. It’s living a life of prayer and humility. It’s to be one with Christ and letting Christ live inside us. So that when one sees me, they see Christ.

    Now, if you were Catholic and are rejecting apostolic succession and the teachings of Catholicism, then the question is why? Is it because some of the teachings are too hard? Is it because you didn’t fully grasp what you were doing and you believed that Catholicism was wrong? A person who is aware of the Truth in Catholicism and rejects it would be accountable to God at the time of judgement. What He does is His call.

  162. sean said,

    October 14, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Actually Dennis since I’m not “invincibly ignorant” but have knowingly rejected the claims of the Roman communion, Salvation is not possible for me in this state according to Rome. I appreciate your charity of judgement but even Vat II doesn’t open the door for me. So, it’s not a matter of the sincerity of my heart or convictions but a matter of am I correct in my understanding of the gospel.

  163. Dennis said,

    October 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    sean,

    The Catholic Church reserves judgment to God…and holds that salvation is possible for all men. i.e. They don’t condemn anyone.

    Fact of the matter is that you may be a better Christian as a Protestant than you were as a Catholic…as I don’t know you, I can’t say and again, that would be God’s call.

    Additionally, knowing Catholicism is more than just knowing the Catechism. Just because you know “rules” doesn’t mean you know it. If you truly knew it, you wouldn’t have left it.

    Jason Stellman, among others, was compelled to leave everything behind to join the Catholic Church. Do you think he would do that if he knew what you think you know?

    Trust me…there’s more to Catholicism than what you know.

  164. sean said,

    October 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Dennis says; ” If you truly knew it, you wouldn’t have left it.”

    Sean: This is a manuever around ‘invincible ignorance’. But seeing as I was a cradle catholic who not only was raised in the bosom of the church but also initiated training in the religious life, it strains the bounds of credulity to claim I didn’t ‘really’ know her. Nevertheless, my interest was in ascertaining whether your definition of obedience to God’s will encompassed fidelity to the Roman communion. In actuality, it does, but I understand the movement of ecumenism and inclusivisity Rome wants to portray post Vat II. Which begs another question, if Rome is wanting to promote a christianity that utimately grounds itself not in subscription to Rome but in sincerity of faith to ‘known’ understanding of Christ and obedience to His commands, what do you think of a group like CTC who is actively trying to proselytize a group, who while in disagreement with the exclusive claims of Rome, is quite well known and very often criticized for taking both the word of God and consecration to Christ, too seriously? Seems like we’re plenty sincere on this side of the fence to a conscience held captive to Christ.

  165. Dennis said,

    October 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    sean,

    I don’t have a problem with CtC. I guess it depends on their motivation. If they are out there trying to “win arguments” then I would disapprove. If they are out there trying to draw people to Christ then I think that’s what we are all called to do. They have a deeper understanding of the Reformed faith and appear to be sincere in what they are doing. All in all, it doesn’t matter what I think…it’s what God wants. If they are actively doing God’s will then they should definitely continue.

    It takes two to debate. If people didn’t want to engage the CtC group, then they wouldn’t. God wants us on fire for our faith. If we are passionate (Catholic/Reformed or whatever) then He can work with us. If we are tepid about our faith, God can’t work as well with us. If the CtC group who appear to be on fire…engage with others who are on fire then iron sharpen iron.

    In all, the Truth prevails. I believe the CtC hold to that truth which may frustrate some of the Reformed group as they come up against it.

  166. sean said,

    October 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    According to your understanding, it seems to me the virtual trophy case of former sincere protestant christians at CtC has less to do with being on fire for Christ, according to your definition of love for and obedience to Christ commands( I don’t think either side would claim that Jason was insincere as a protestant minister in his love for Christ) and more to do with a belief in the importance of ‘denominationalism’ contrary to your statements of ecumenical charity in #162. If it’s not about me being ‘protestant’ but instead about being a ‘christian’ why the specific, particular targeting of not just protestants but reformed protestants as conscripts for the Roman communion over at CtC? Something doesn’t add up here. And if I’m an example of a person who is a better christian as a protestant, doesn’t the whole work of parading converts to Rome at CtC from the ranks of a protestant contingent who is particularly marked by consecration to the word of God and placarding Christ as savior for mankind, seem grossly unecumenical, redundant and terribly parochial?

  167. Brad B said,

    October 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    People dont just decide to be obedient in love to Christ, they discover that they love Christ first. During that revelation, they learn what He’s done for them, and then from gratitude show the evident works of one who’s been born again. If someone sets out to prove his love by his works, as though those efforts prove anything, they are surely deceived, and the Spirit of God is not in them and those efforts are less than worthless, they are damning proof of self love. This is why John B’s statement that the saint doesn’t have to do anything is correct.

  168. Dennis said,

    October 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    If it’s not about me being ‘protestant’ but instead about being a ‘christian’ why the specific, particular targeting of not just protestants but reformed protestants as conscripts for the Roman communion over at CtC?

    Well, I’m not part of the CtC group and cannot speak for them. However, as I mentioned, these guys are all former reformed protestants so they know how to “speak the language.”

    As Catholics, we are all called to share the good news throughout the world and draw all men to Christ. The CtC group is being called to share it with the Reformed group. As they are being successful to an extent of drawing people to Catholicism, then I would think their calling seems to be providential (i.e. they are not doing this in vain).

    For Catholics, to be ecumenical doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t share our faith. We should engage all faiths. We shouldn’t be afraid to share our faith and talk about it. We shouldn’t proselytize but rather we should seek to understand other faiths and find the common ground. Catholicism holds the fullness of truth. Other faiths hold varying degrees of truth. It’s important in ecumenism to find the truth we share (be it Hindus, Muslims or whatever) and work from there. The objective is to draw all men to Christ. It’s not to be nice to each other.

    doesn’t the whole work of parading converts to Rome at CtC from the ranks of a protestant contingent who is particularly marked by consecration to the word of God and placarding Christ as savior for mankind, seem grossly unecumenical, redundant and terribly parochial?

    I can understand why it looks like that; however, Jason Stellman isn’t being forced in front of a camera against his will. From my far away perspective, Catholics are drawn to Protestantism because they weren’t finding Christ in Catholicism (due to poor catechesis or misunderstandings–not including those in rebellion of the Church’s teachings) and Protestants are drawn to Catholicism because they find a more complete understanding of Christ in the Catholic Church.

    Peter Kreeft is one of the great Catholic minds today and he was a former reformed protestant. He has been a great gift to the Catholic Church in regards to Catholic philosophy.

  169. Dennis said,

    October 14, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Brad,

    People dont just decide to be obedient in love to Christ, they discover that they love Christ first.

    To love Christ is to be obedient to Him. Christ says it THREE times in a row as if to stress it:

    John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

    John 14: 21: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”

    John 14: 23: “Whoever loves me will keep my word”

    Moreover, Christ continues in v. 21…”Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

    Very specifically in Scripture, we are called to observe His commandments and then we will be loved and the Lord will reveal Himself to us.

    I appreciate your view but it doesn’t match up with Scripture correctly.

  170. Pete Holter said,

    October 14, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Bob S wrote,

    Come on, you know we believe in Sola Scriptura and not Sola Early Church Papa. Augustine is hardly infallible and you don’t touch the argument of the WCF.

    One of the passages that informed Augustine’s position is found in the Book of Wisdom: “There was one who pleased God and was loved by Him, and while living among sinners, he was taken up. He was caught up lest evil change his understanding or guile deceive his soul” (Wisdom 4:10-11). This thought coincides with the passages in Ezekiel concerning the righteous who turn from their righteousness and die (Ezekiel 3, 18, 33).

    We and the Israelites have all drunk from the same spiritual Rock of Christ, as many of us as have been made righteous through faith. And yet God was not pleased with most of the Israelites, and they were destroyed and overthrown as an example to us (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13). The logic of this passage necessitates that there exist a real potential of falling from our right standing with God, and that this is why the Christian must be exhorted, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). The one who has been “cleansed from his former sins… through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” can become the washed pig who “returns to wallow in the mire” (2 Peter 1:3-9; 2:20-22). We can “receive the grace of God in vain”; we can fail “to obtain the grace of God” (2 Corinthians 6:1; Hebrews 12:15). There can come a time when those who have once repented will forsake their own salvation and be unable to be restored again to this repentance, persevering in sin that leads to death (cf. Hebrews 6:6; 1 John 5:16). “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love (ἡ ἀγάπη) of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13; cf. Revelation 2:4-5). If the lukewarm are vomited out of the mouth of Christ (Revelation 3:15-16), how much more the cold of heart!

    In light of these passages, the key to our having an assurance that we shall indeed persevere to the end is “to place and repose a most firm hope in God’s help” (Council of Trent, Decree on Justification, Ch. 13). Trust in the promises of Christ! Throw yourself on His mercy! As Augustine put it: commit your faith, hope, and love to the will of God (cf. On the Predestination of the Saints, Ch. 11.21). And my personal favorite:

    “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised” (Romans 4:20-21).

    Amen!

    Thank you for extending peace to me.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  171. Brad B said,

    October 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Hi Dennis, none of “your” scripture references contradict “my” view. It’s the order, no one loves Christ first, no one is obedient in any way prior to the Spirit indwelling Even after the regenerating work of the Spirit, self serving works are filth and unsatisfying to the saint.

  172. Dennis said,

    October 14, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Brad,

    That’s not where the conflict is. It’s the “saint doesn’t have to do anything” part that conflicts. The saint has to be obedient as we are called to be obedient.

    As for the rest of it…

    During that revelation, they learn what He’s done for them, and then from gratitude show the evident works of one who’s been born again.

    Where is that from in Scripture?

    If someone sets out to prove his love by his works, as though those efforts prove anything, they are surely deceived, and the Spirit of God

    For God, it’s not about “proving” love. It’s about loving God. Love is what He wants. He knows if you love Him. He wants obedience.

    Also, I would appreciate to know where this can be found in Scripture as well.

  173. Bob S said,

    October 15, 2012 at 12:49 am

    164 Jason Stellman, among others, was compelled to leave everything behind to join the Catholic Church. Do you think he would do that if he knew what you think you know?

    Trust me…there’s more to Catholicism than what you know.

    That’s a joke right, Dennis? We got to rummage around in the more obscure places of Scripture in order to overturn those that are more clear on justification. That’s been the gig from the get go with Mr. Stellman. And Bryan. And CtC. IOW this is not rocket science, Werner.

    Or as one of the Westminster divines put it, Faith without works justify before God, while works justify before man.

    Previous to that we also know that he couldn’t answer the CtC propaganda; evidently he hadn’t heard it before and consequently he jumped to the conclusion that it must be true. Ergo where the man finds himself today. OK, that’s his business before the Lord and he will answer for it.

    But to hold him or Bryan etc. as an example of sterling integrity and penetrating theological insight and acumen, well maybe you could just hold the kool aid, please. As for passion, well, since when was passion the measure of truth?

    FTM You bailed on our last regarding regeneration and free will on the other thread, which means your credibility and comprehension of the issues as they have been historically discussed is, shall we say, somewhat deficient. We can only love God – and obey his commandments – because he first loved us in Christ. Apart from that love, all our sinful nature does is will to sin and disobey God (however much we might like the Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup). And that freely and that only. IOW fruit comes from the root and not the other way around.

    True as our mod DG – and you also – recognized, there is much that Prots and Romanists agree on when it comes to assurance ( so too, Wm. Perkins in his Reformed Catholick), but not all, much more the root of the matter in the disagreements over authority, justification, idolatry and the sacraments etc.override those areas where we do agree.

    171 Peter,
    One, you still haven’t touched the argument of the WCF.
    Two, my mention of peace was at large, not to you specifically. While I don’t have anything personal against you, peace between you and me will not save your soul on that day. What you really need to be concerned about is a genuine peace between you and God in Christ by faith as per the Scripture and not as per the fallible magisterium, EC papas and tradition.

    And before we start hearing the usual, protestantism doesn’t rule those out of the picture necessarily, just that they are not infallible as is the Scripture.

    But you still don’t demonstrate that you understand that, which is all the world and the difference between night and day, heaven and hell and salvation in Christ and damnation with the devil.

    Thank you.

  174. sean said,

    October 15, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Dennis says,

    “The CtC group is being called to share it with the Reformed group. As they are being successful to an extent of drawing people to Catholicism, then I would think their calling seems to be providential (i.e. they are not doing this in vain).”

    “We shouldn’t be afraid to share our faith and talk about it. We shouldn’t proselytize but rather we should seek to understand other faiths and find the common ground. Catholicism holds the fullness of truth. Other faiths hold varying degrees of truth.”

    “Catholics are drawn to Protestantism because they weren’t finding Christ in Catholicism (due to poor catechesis or misunderstandings–not including those in rebellion of the Church’s teachings) and Protestants are drawn to Catholicism because they find a more complete understanding of Christ in the Catholic Church.”

    Sean says;

    Dennis I don’t mind that you or I or partisan, what I mind is the denial that we are, and that what matters is consecration and ‘being protestant or catholic’ isn’t what it’s about. It obviously is. We both believe there is enough at stake to try and ‘win’ others to our side. When, the explanation for leaving Rome is that former RCers ‘misunderstood’ and that the reason protestants come to Rome is because they find a more complete understanding of Christ in the Catholic Church.” Well, we aren’t playing patsy anymore or just ‘iron sharpening iron.’ We have a different gospel, so let’s work from that basis, not feigned brotherhood.

  175. Dennis said,

    October 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Sean,

    We have a different gospel, so let’s work from that basis, not feigned brotherhood.

    I’ve had this discussion recently with Tim Prussic fairly recently as he believes that, “Christendom doesn’t define the Gospel.”

    I’m curious, is this common Reformed thought or only Tim’s opinion.

    i.e. For a Reformed person, what is the Gospel?

  176. Dennis said,

    October 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Sean,

    Additionally, wes, we are partisan and while I wouldn’t word that I’m out to “win” others to my side, I am trying to draw people closer to Christ. However, if a person never sees the inside of a Catholic Church, that really is okay with me. As long as they are a stronger Christian.

    In my discussion with others, I would keep that the Catholic Church holds the fullness of Truth and I would not compromise my view in the spirit of ecumenism.

  177. sean said,

    October 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Dennis,

    I’m not familiar with your discussions with Tim Prussic, but to the extent I understand what you mean by; “Christendom doesn’t define the Gospel”, then I would affirm that the theory or nation/state application of Christendom certainly doesn’t define the Gospel.” Rather the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for and unto the elect is the historical ground for our salvation. Finding common ground in cultural causes does not therefore make us brethren in the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  178. johnbugay said,

    October 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Dennis 178:

    I would keep that the Catholic Church holds the fullness of Truth and I would not compromise my view in the spirit of ecumenism

    Just for the sake of fairness (“equal time”), the Roman Catholic Church has dogmatically denied the Gospel, thus having denied the Truth. What it is “full of” is not printable here, but what’s left that resembles Christianity has been larded up with pagan ritual and practice and worse.

  179. Dennis said,

    October 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    sean,

    Thank you for your response. I would agree that we do hold to a different gospel. If the reformed faith can’t define it then how can they hold someone to it?

    When Paul entered into a new city to preach “the Gospel” and people asked him, “what is the gospel?” Do you think he couldn’t define it?

    If he told them, “well, it’s not defined but rather it’s the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for and unto the elect…”

    Do you think he would have convinced the Romans, the Ephesians, and the entire Roman empire with that definition of the Gospel? Do you think people would be skinned alive and martyred for that?

  180. sean said,

    October 15, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Dennis I think Paul did define it;

    1 Cor 15; “Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

    3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”

    12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope[b] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

    Martyrs were skinned alive because of Paul’s gospel. I can think of a lot more temporally gratifying ways to live if the Paul’s Gospel as quoted here is a straw-gospel. Apparently so can Paul.

  181. Pete Holter said,

    October 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Hey Bob S!

    You said, “you still haven’t touched the argument of the WCF.”

    I will try. :)

    In your first comment about this you said that “we’re talking about Trent 6:16 vs. WCF18.” Although there is a mingling between the two, I think that Chapter 13 and Canon 16 of Trent are better juxtaposed with WCF 17, so please allow me to address the assertions of WCF 17. Here it is said that the elect may “fall into grievous sins; and, for a time, continue therein” (http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/ch_XVII.html). The Scriptural proofs for these two points come from two cases concerning those who were left to live until repentance for the grievous sin was secured (Peter and David). Because of this, I think that the assertion of the confession goes beyond the Scriptural basis. WCF 17 says that the elect “can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” This means that the WCF does not allow for a difference, in terms of salvation, between (1) the one who has repented after having continued in grievous sin for a time, and (2) the one who has not yet repented but is currently persisting therein with hardness of heart. According to the confession, both are persevering in a state of grace, and so both must be promised to inherit the kingdom of God.

    The Catholic position, on the other hand, says that the one who dies in this persistent sin will not inherit the kingdom of God unless it is followed by a “godly grief [that] produces a repentance that leads to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God… Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. […] For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Galatians 5:21, 6:7; Romans 8:13; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:5).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  182. Bob S said,

    October 15, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    176 For a Reformed person, what is the Gospel?

    That in Adam’s fall, we sinned all, but yet God the Father in his infinite mercy elected some sinners unto salvation, sent his Son, Jesus Christ to die for them on the cross and by who’s Spirit they repent and believe in Christ when he is preached unto them and afterwards persevere/are preserved unto salvation in glory.

    182 Peter,
    For starters, the only unforgivable sin is unbelief.
    Two, the POV of WCF17 is the ultimate end of the elect.
    Humanly speaking, there are certain sins that one is excommunicated for – to the end of repentance – but again humanly speaking, we don’t pretend to know who the elect are. The elect, if excommunicated for grievous sin, repent; the reprobate continue on in unbelief and disobedience. The point of the matter being, salvation is of the Lord, not our good works after salvation, nor our good works even after infusion of grace and faith.

    Romans 3:28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    As above, he chooses us, enables us to repent and believe, much more live a life of obedience after that. On the other hand if you think the difference between that reprobate in the gutter, if not Judas and yourself, is that you repented and believed in Christ and obey him of your own sinful free will, then your faith is not built upon the solid rock.

    My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
    And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
    My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:27-29

    Of course if there is no assurance for the believer, according to the Roman paradigm, they can continue to make money off their churchgoers for charging for masses – propitiatory sacrifices for sin – to be said for those who have died and – hey we’re not sure, but you might as well hedge your bets – are still in purgatory and are not yet saved. At least that’s how it works out at ground level whatever the big muckymucks at CtC say.

    (Again as to how even a forgiven sinner/creature can ever perform perfectly satisfactory works to appease the wrath of a just God, well maybe we’d just not rather talk about it, if not that that is what purgatory is all about – an unending cash cow.)

    FTM neither can an unjust excommunication bar one from heaven despite the Roman anathemas upon those who preach and believe in justification by faith alone, if not the corollary of condemning the pope as antiChrist for his condemnation on the gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ alone as found in Scripture alone.

  183. Dennis said,

    October 15, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    sean,

    OK. So, is that the Good News that the Reformed faith adheres to? And if so, do you really believe that Catholics follow a different Gospel?

    Why is that so hard to define?

  184. Dennis said,

    October 15, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Bob,

    God the Father in his infinite mercy elected some sinners unto salvation,

    If God’s mercy is infinite then why only some…

    And do you think that’s a powerful enough gospel to spread to all the ends of the world?

    Would you die for that? What if you weren’t one of the “some”?

  185. sean said,

    October 15, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Dennis,

    Yes, that is the good news the reformed faith adheres to.

    Dennis, as a former RC, I describe it this way; you can discover the biblical gospel as an RC but the more you embrace the gospel of scripture, the worse RC you become. I know that’s all very offensive sounding, but it really is just shorthand for a rejection of RC divine tradition and sacerdotalism and exchange of the ‘parlor room’ for the ‘courtroom’ and an exchange of the ontological emphasis for the forensic emphasis. An exchange of the thomistic and aristotelian conception of ‘fitness’ and ‘capacity'(Rome) with a biblical idea of the fall, subsequent corruption and total depravity against the backdrop of a God who demanded strict justice in the garden(true merit) and provided a second adam(federal head) as both substitute and champion(Protestant). In protestantism, God declares the wicked just in Christ. In Rome, the just are declared just as they actually ‘become’ just but in Rome this is not according to a strict justice because that conception of justice is deemed incongruent with a loving father. In many ways, the difference comes down to a different conception of the justice and law of God. This is all very truncated and simplified for combox digestion.

  186. Dennis said,

    October 15, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    sean,

    I know that’s all very offensive sounding

    I won’t take offense to anything you say…

    An exchange of the thomistic and aristotelian conception of ‘fitness’ and ‘capacity’(Rome) with a biblical idea of the fall, subsequent corruption and total depravity against the backdrop of a God who demanded strict justice in the garden(true merit) and provided a second adam(federal head) as both substitute and champion(Protestant).

    I have a pretty good understanding of the fall…I think where we would differ here would be in the “substitue and champion” part. For, that is not in my understanding of Scripture.

    In protestantism, God declares the wicked just in Christ. In Rome, the just are declared just as they actually ‘become’ just but in Rome this is not according to a strict justice because that conception of justice is deemed incongruent with a loving father. In many ways, the difference comes down to a different conception of the justice and law of God.

    OK. And I think the reason for this boils down to what Jason Stellman was talking about with our paradigms. We understand Scripture differently.

    Take the Fall for instance…It’s not about substitutional atonement and the “Fall” doesn’t support your understanding.

    You see a God who demanded strict justice in the garden. I see a God who did not abandon Adam after the Fall. A God who remained with Adam after the Fall and a calling for love of God even after the Fall per Genesis 4:3-4.

    What God restricted from Adam was access to the Tree of Life. Adam dies because of disobedience to God and now has lost access to the Tree (Genesis 3:22). With the Tree of Life, Adam lives forever. Without it, Adam dies (along with all the rest of us.) His original sin brought death to him and all his descendants.

    Jesus Christ restores the access to the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:2). Jesus becomes the Tree of Life. The Cross is the New Tree of Life and He hangs from the Tree to give us eternal life. His Body is the new fruit. We graft ourselves to Him and we bear fruit per John 15. We eat His Body and we live forever (per John 6).

    Unlike Adam, who is destined to eat bread until he dies. (Genesis 3:19), we who are one with Christ will eat bread and live forever. (John 6:51)

    You’re right that we don’t share the same Gospel. The Gospel that I have is what Paul shared with the world. The Jews would have understood what I just explained.

    What they wouldn’t understand is substitutional atonement because it can’t be found in Genesis.

  187. sean said,

    October 16, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Dennis says;

    Take the Fall for instance…It’s not about substitutional atonement and the “Fall” doesn’t support your understanding.

    Sean says;

    Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[e] and her offspring;
    he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

    Gal 3:16 “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.”- Champion

    Rom 5:6 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation”.-substitute and champion

    Now Dennis you’re going too far here, even Rome recognizes the protoevangelium in Gen 3:15, and descrbes Jesus as both ‘Victor’ and ‘expiation’ for our sins. 1Jn 4:10 and allows Paul to guide is into a more full understanding Rom 5:18.

    It’s the thomistic and aristotelian undergirding of Rome’s theology that obscures Rome’s understanding of even what it confesses of Paul’s illumination of Jesus Christ and blunts the force of the law and the extent of the fall. As I said, you can discover the gospel in Rome, but upon that discovery and adherence to sacred scripture over divine tradition, you will eventually be faced with a choice of conscience.

  188. Bob S said,

    October 16, 2012 at 4:46 am

    185 Den,
    Since when does God owe anybody anything? By rights we should all be damned if not ever have seen the light of day. But he didn’t do that. He sent his Son to die an awful death to redeem his people.

    So what are you going to do? Balk and turn your nose up at the gospel because not all are saved or will you take hold of salvation by faith in Christ?

    I know what God’s people will do. They will believe and proclaim his praise all their days. The rest will continue to trust in their own works to save them, whether pagan or nominally Christian as per the synergistic Roman gospel where man cooperates with Christ and by infused grace performs the good works necessary to complete his salvation.
    Not to be flippant, but good luck with the last.

  189. johnbugay said,

    October 16, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Dennis, I’ve responded to one of your earlier comments here:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/10/assurance-and-fear-and-trembling-from.html

  190. Jason Loh said,

    October 16, 2012 at 7:39 am

    “Since when does God owe anybody anything?”

    Yes! In classical Protestantism, the Christian does not say to God, “Thou owest me.”

    Instead, the Christian says, “Thou OWNETH me.”

    Predestination is comfort because it is the promise of God unto salvation. Only predestination in Word and Sacraments by the Holy Spirit gives assurance and hope to the Christian.

  191. Dennis said,

    October 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Sean,

    I understand that Jesus died in expiation for our sins. Yes, He died so that I can live forever. What I’m saying is that the Reformed understanding isn’t complete enough and is something that would be totally foreign to the Jews of Christ’s time. i.e. They wouldn’t die for that as it doesn’t tie in to their Scriptures.

    In regards to the Thomistic and Aristotelian undergirdings of Rome’s theology, I guess I’m not entirely familiar with what you’re talking about. Can you explain more and how it differs from Reformed? (Bear in mind…I’m not a Theologian).

  192. Dennis said,

    October 16, 2012 at 11:36 am

    189 Bob,

    I’m not saying that God owes us anything and I agree with Jason’s comments that it’s not “You owe me” but rather “You own me.” That’s all fine.

    I have issues with “elected some sinners “ for that’s not what Scripture says. Not only that, but if Paul were to enter into a town and say something like, “God the Father in his infinite mercy elected some sinners unto salvation.” People wouldn’t choose to be stoned for that “Good News.” It’s not strong enough for a gospel message.

    Rather, what they said was more like, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) or “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16) or “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).

    Not to be flippant, but good luck with the last,

    If you disagree, that’s okay with me.

  193. sean said,

    October 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Dennis,

    This is terribly simplified but here goes; In Rome the nature is ‘wounded” by sin, both original and ongoing, this ontological(being) wounding undergoes renovation through the infusion of grace via the sacraments. Involved here is the concept of super-added grace in the original Adam(Roman considered) which Adam forfeited through disobedience, and this lack of grace is what is being restored and made accessible through the sacramental system. So, in Rome I am declared just as I actually become just(ongoing justification). In Protestantism the corruption of sin leaves me not merely ‘wounded’ but dead. And this ‘deadness’ ontologically considered is brought into bold relief through the pedagogical use of the law (IOW, just in case you think you are virtuously alive, here’s the Law of moral conformity go do it and do it perfectly in mind, will, affection and action)-this is where Paul proclaims in Romans “I was ‘alive’ before the law but sin taking advantage through the commandment produced in me death’. I recommend reading Rom 7 over and over. This doesn’t mean we are as ‘bad’ as we could be, but as regards holiness according to God’s perfection, all I produce is ‘filthy rags’. So, who shall save me from this body of death; both forensically(courtroom) before the judgement seat of God and ontologically(sanctification and eventual glorification)? Thank God for Jesus Christ who came and bore the punishment(judicial sentence/curse, cursed is everyone who hangs from a tree) and as second adam ‘imputes'(protestant) to me his merit as the second adam. Rom 5:15-21.

    So, in the Romish Scheme my justification is tied to my becoming and that becoming(being declared just) not according to a moral standard of perfection. In protestantism my justification(rightness before God) is declared judicially through faith in Jesus Christ(forensic) and it’s from this place of being acquitted and granted inheritance that I engage the moral renovation which is finally complete in glorification. We both aim toward Glory and perfection but protestantism argues, among many other things, that Rome does not rightly understand the depravity of the fall, it’s consequences and the remedy in the second adam(judicially considered) apart from inward renovation. And of course, even as it regards infusion of grace, protestantism is going to argue that this grace is not conveyed through the administration of the sacramental system in Rome.

  194. Dennis said,

    October 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Sean,

    Thank you. This helps a lot in my understanding of the Protestant mindset.

    I think it all boils down to our approach to Scripture.

    Rome does not rightly understand the depravity of the fall, it’s consequences and the remedy in the second adam

    I’ve shared the Catholic understanding. Can you share the Protestant understanding of the depravity of the fall, it’s consequences and the remedy in the second Adam?

  195. Bob S said,

    October 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    193 Couple of questions then Den.
    Did God elect all to salvation?
    And if he did, why aren’t they saved?
    Was it their free will John 6, Rom. 9 and Eph.1 to the contrary?
    Or are you going to tell us that election is not found in Scripture, if not that God only elects somebody because he foresees their choice?

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
    According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
    Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Eph.1:3-5

    For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
    So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
    For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
    Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

    Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
    What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
    And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
    Rom. 9:15-18, 21-23

    Further if the Good News is Jesus died for your sins, repent and believe and thou shalt be saved, implicit in that brief statement is all kinds of assumptions about man, God and sin.
    As in, who is Jesus? What is sin, etc.? All the five points does is spell those out. All you have done is object to one aspect, not the total message.

    FTM the Jews thought by they would be saved by their works, by their adherence to the Mosaic law, that they were saved period and that the Jews only would be saved. Why did the riot start when Paul was addressing the crowd in Acts22? Because he said God was going to save the Gentiles never mind that salvation was not contingent on obedience to the ceremonial law and circumcision.

    Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
    Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
    Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Rom. 3:28-30

    195 I think it all boils down to our approach to Scripture.

    Indeed it does. Scripture alone is the infallible rule, all of Scripture and Scripture interprets Scripture. Neither does Scripture include unwritten or oral traditions along side the written word.

  196. sean said,

    October 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Dennis,

    I thought I at least gave you the broad strokes. Depravity means there is not an area of our personhood; will, intellect, affections, actions that hasn’t been corrupted by the fall. The curse of sin is death and that eternal(hell). In protestantism you have the idea of federal headship in Adam who both represents and acts in accord with the will of man. IOW, as Adam goes, so goes humankind. The first Adam, in Eden, is there under ‘probationary’ circumstances. He’s is there in covenant with God, created Imago Dei set apart and above the rest of creation in imitation of God Himself, but creaturely. He is there, in imitation and under the rule of God, executing the threefold office of Prophet, Priest and King. As we both know, he fails this test and merits eternal damnation. However, God in His mercy, in covenant with His eternal Son, has executed a redemptive plan revealed in redemptive history in the scriptures, to redeem a remnant. A chosen people, an elect people. Whom Jesus through his incarnation and in fulfillment of what’s called ‘the covenant of redemption’ between the Father and the Son- “I have come to do the will of Him who sent me.” has come to redeem from Hell and sin as the second Adam. This salvation is complete and our inheritance is sure, it’s surety testified to by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet, we still live on this side of glory, in a state of anticipation and tension(already-not yet). The Heidelberg catechism outlines the process this way; Guilt-the law renders it’s judgement. Grace- in response to our guilt we cast ourselves upon the mercy of God in His son. Gratitude-having received by faith Jesus Christ and adopted by God such that we now call Him Father and with the assurance and hope of eternity in Heaven with God and redeemed from the curse of sin anticipating being fully removed from sins presence we work and do in gratitude for what has already been accomplished for us and to us in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this work we do is a mystery, in the sense that it is God at work in us to do and will according to His good pleasure. This is really broad strokes there’s lots of details left unsaid.

  197. Dennis said,

    October 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Sean,

    Thanks. While I’m not in full agreement with all of what you wrote, I understand where these points can be found in Scripture. Again, our approach to Scripture is different and the conclusions we come up with are different.

    I don’t think your approach can be derived from the Old Testament the way that mine is which means that Paul would have had a harder time explaining it to the Jews. Additionally, what you outline focuses more on what Paul wrote whereas my explanation focused more on what John wrote.

    Ultimately, it comes down to what Christ taught. Scripture isn’t really meant to be “interpreted.” Jesus came and taught very specific teachings. Obviously, we both think that what we believe is what Christ taught.

    The weakness I see in your belief is that nothing you wrote comes from what Christ said.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  198. Dennis said,

    October 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    196 Bob,

    Did God elect all to salvation?

    To be honest, who God elected is known but to God. I don’t know who is “elect” and who is not. Maybe it’s everyone. Maybe it’s no one. Maybe I’m elect. Maybe you’re elect. I don’t know. I do know that to assume I’m one of the elect is presuming something only God knows.

    Or are you going to tell us that election is not found in Scripture, if not that God only elects somebody because he foresees their choice?

    There is a flaw in your logic of that question. God doesn’t “foresee” their choice. God is outside of time. He doesn’t foresee anything. He knows if I’m elect because He is already there at my death and knows my outcome. He already knows my sins I’ve committed and will commit and knows if and when I’ve repented of those sins.

    God being outside of time and being omniscient does not deprive me of my free will. I still need to repent and choose God.

    I know that there will be some who are not saved (and thus not elect) as Scripture tells us the following people will not be saved:

    Unbelievers (Mark 16:16)
    Disobedient (Matthew 7:21-23)
    Sinners (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

    So, if the above says that these won’t be saved, then what should we do to be part of the elect?

    We should believe and be baptized in the Lord Jesus, be obedient to Him and avoid sin. If we do this, we will be saved. Not because we do this but because of the grace of God.

  199. Bob S said,

    October 17, 2012 at 1:05 am

    199 Den
    You didn’t answer the question.
    Did God elect some men or all men to salvation?
    Not “Who exactly did he elect, John, Dick or Jane Doe?”

    But we do know practically speaking that he did elect those who believe in Christ.

    Neither is it a flaw in my logic.
    The typical arminian evasion of Scripture – and romanism is in principal arminian if not vice versa, something cdh, our ex baptist gnostic positivist doesn’t understand – is that God only elects somebody on account of their foreseen faith. Which is not the testimony of Eph. 1.
    IOW is election in the first place, effectual or dependent on man and what he does and wills.

    Or to put it yet another way, as per sean’s comments, until one is sovereignly born again, their will is dead in its trespasses and sin and cannot choose the spiritual good in Christ. We are not just sick, lame or diseased as per Rome’s paradigm, but just as spiritually dead as Lazurua was physically dead.

    And neither do I have a beef with election. Rather closer to home, you object that it is properly included in a trinitarian definition of the gospel.

    Which means the question still remains.
    As numerous others re. the roman take, if not the various romanist opinions of how to define the gospel, authority, justification, idolatry, the mass/sacraments etc

    God the Father before the beginning of time, sovereignly chose out of a race of sinners damned in Adam, a church that his Son would redeem through his life and death on the cross, purchasing salvation for them and applying it through the gift of faith and perseverance by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  200. Dennis said,

    October 17, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Bob,

    God the Father before the beginning of time, sovereignly chose out of a race of sinners damned in Adam, a church that his Son would redeem through his life and death on the cross, purchasing salvation for them and applying it through the gift of faith and perseverance by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Aside from the fact that–as mentioned earlier–God is outside of time, what you wrote is not in Scripture anywhere. Rather it’s your interpretation.

    Yes, God knows who is saved from before the beginning of time. Yes, there are only some who are saved. I don’t know how many and you don’t either. I’ve pointed out who is elect and who is not. Those who believe and are baptized will be saved and those who are disobedient will not. Does God know who they are from the beginning of time? Yes. DId God choose them? Yes. Did He foreordain the rest into eternal damnation? Well, I think that’s something you’re pulling out of Scripture that’s not there.

    The problem I have with your gospel message is that it’s not nearly complete enough. It doesn’t plunge into the depths of Christianity and it has a very shallow view of Salvation and God’s love. Further, it has a sense of “easy-believism.”

    How do you know you’re elect? You don’t. You can’t. And please don’t point to 1 John because the only way you can use that line is by ignoring the rest of the epistle where it talks about love and obedience to God.

  201. sean said,

    October 17, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Dennis,

    Believe it or not, I don’t hold have a red-letter edition of the bible. I think it’s a false and irresponsible dichotomy to oppose or contrast Paul or Jesus or John or any of the apostolic writings with each other. The canon either is in harmony or it is unreliable. If I can oppose one writer with another writer of scripture such that they can be made to say contrary and not merely nuanced points about the same doctrinal positional, then I’ve got a golf game that needs some serious attention and early sunday morning is a perfect time to go work on it. Opposing Paul with Jesus or even John for that matter is an old canard of liberal christianity and has long since been refuted. Peter himself raised Paul’s writings to the level of God-breathed apostolic authority. If marshalling Paul to the defense of protestantism is inadequate or somehow deleterious of what Jesus or John has said than let’s all go do something better with our time. BTW, Paul much less Jesus as recorded in the NT, spend a great deal of their time proving and explaining that Jesus is the fulfillment of ALL OT prophecy and promise. Both Jesus and Paul were clearly understood by Jewish religious and paid for it with their lives. It wasn’t a matter of them not understanding.

  202. Dennis said,

    October 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Sean,

    Paul’s writings don’t oppose John’s writings or Jesus’ teachings. That’s not my point. Yes, Paul’s writings are God breathed and yes, they are Scripture.

    I don’t have a problem with most of what you wrote. I think that your focus is on what Paul wrote and not at all on what Jesus said. Additionally, Paul spent weeks in Synagogues (per Acts 17:2-3) discussing Scripture with the Jews. What you wrote would not match up with Old Testament Scriptures so that would not have been a focus on what Paul was talking about with them.

    What Jesus taught and what Paul wrote are perfectly harmonious with each other. What you wrote doesn’t have anything about what Jesus taught. In essence, you’re ignoring Christ in your Gospel message. That’s something that I know Paul did not do when he spent three weeks explaining the Messiah from Scripture in the synagogues proclaiming the gospel to the Jews of Berea or Thessalonica.

    BTW, Paul much less Jesus as recorded in the NT, spend a great deal of their time proving and explaining that Jesus is the fulfillment of ALL OT prophecy and promise. Both Jesus and Paul were clearly understood by Jewish religious and paid for it with their lives. It wasn’t a matter of them not understanding.

    I fully agree. You’re explanation doesn’t show any of that. It needs to.

  203. sean said,

    October 17, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Dennis,

    It’s a combox. I told you it was very broad strokes. Undoubtedly, not everything that should get said, gets said. If you want to quote the entire gospel of John, I’m good with it. It would be hard to argue that protestants don’t make use of the gospel of John. We have an entire t-shirt and bumper-sticker industry based around quoting just John 3:16. I’m not sure how to help you with what you think about what I’m saying having no resonance among OT Jews. It’s an odd complaint. If I find all of scripture inspired and profitable and foundational of my faith, I’m not sure why you would think I want to short-shrift any of it. There are limitations on my time and the medium in which we are engaged. Fuller treatments are undoubtedly available in books and treatises and journal articles and even blog posts.

  204. Bob S said,

    October 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    201 Den, we’re making progress.
    You admit that there is such a thing as election. You just don’t think it foundational to the gospel though. OK.
    But now my summary doesn’t go deep enough, while before it was too esoteric in 193.
    Whatever.

    Further if you care to play Don Quixote and break a lance on Rom. 9 or Eph. 1 regarding predestination or foreordination, be my guest.

    Likewise my attempt to summarize the five points of calvinism as given in the Canons of Dordt.

    But if you are going to be our teacher on Jn. 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments”, how is it we don’t seem to have Jn. 3:7 “Ye must be born again” dialed in?

    IOW this is a combox as sean above, but that still presupposes there are presuppositions to what one brings to the discussion. The problem we are having though, is that you don’t seem to realize what your own assumptions are, never mind if you agree with ours, much more what the official Roman magisterial presuppositions and positions are in that after all, like the Called to Confusion bunch, you are here to promote Romanism.

    Which is fine, but we expect you to know what you believe and that it’s in harmony with your side of the discussion which has been going on a lot longer than any of us have been around.

    cheers

  205. October 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    My reply to the last section of Lane’s response to me can be found here:

    http://www.creedcodecult.com/on-the-law-law-distinction/

    In it I point out that Paul often argues from the standpoint of a law/law distinction rather than a law/gospel one, and further, that he attributes to the law of the Spirit things that most Reformed folks would insist be attributed to the gospel (like setting him free from sin and death, resulting in his escaping condemnation).

  206. Bob S said,

    October 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    206 We went, we saw and the Dutch Annotations (called for by the Synod of Dordt 1618) reply quite well.

    Regarding James 2:12 and the “law of liberty” it says:

    “For the word Law is here taken in general for a doctrine, as Paul also calls the doctrine of the Gospel, the Law of faith, Rom. 3:27.

    The bracketed annotation for the “law of faith” of Rom.3:27 says:

    “(T)hat is, the prescript, or the doctrine of faith; which be a Hebraism and by a similitude he calleth a Law, as in Isa. 2:3.”

    As for Rom 8:2, “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” is the quickening spirit as opposed to the “law of sin” or its power.

    IOW cut the cake any way you please, we are talking about violation of WCF 1:9, equivocation or sola semantics, if not a category error. What we are not talking about is a legitimate criticism of the law/gospel distinction unless we can trade on our audience’s ignorance to put over the shell game.

    Thank you.

  207. Dennis said,

    October 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Bob,

    Further if you care to play Don Quixote and break a lance on Rom. 9 or Eph. 1 regarding predestination or foreordination, be my guest.

    As interesting as this sounds, probably not here as we have really veered off of “Rejoinder to Jason Stellman” and this should stay on topic as much as possible. If you’d like, we can go to a different blog (mine or yours) and break open the word together.

    Likewise my attempt to summarize the five points of calvinism as given in the Canons of Dordt.

    I actually don’t have too much of a problem with TULIP although it probably would have more of a Catholic spin and my understanding of it may be different than yours. For example, for the “P”, if a person ends up being saved, he did “persevere” and ended up in a state of grace at the end of his life. While I don’t think we can know who is and is not saved, those who are would have persevered and ultimately would have received enough grace from God to have been saved. As for the “I”, there is enough grace flowing from the cross to save the entire world. We would have to respond to the grace with faith for the grace to be efficacious. If we don’t have faith, all the grace in the world will not help. (We should be able to agree with that…and maybe I’m not understanding the “I” all that well.

    But if you are going to be our teacher on Jn. 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments”, how is it we don’t seem to have Jn. 3:7 “Ye must be born again” dialed in?

    Well, my understanding of being born is to have “newness of life.” When does that happen? When do we have “newness of life” again?

    According to Paul, that happens at Baptism.

    We receive “newness of life” at Baptism according to Romans 6:3-4 when we are Baptized “into His death.” Paul even uses the words “newness of life” in v. 4. This means that when we receive “Water and the Holy Spirit” at Baptism, we enter into Christ’s body and are reborn into newness of life. The water of Baptism represents the water and blood from the side of Christ (John 19:34) that now washes away our sins.

    So, when Jesus tells us to believe and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, we should love Him and be obedient and be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins for the water in Baptism washes away our sins per Paul in Ephesians 5:26.

    How do you see this as some sort of conflict in my understanding of Scripture?

    Which is fine, but we expect you to know what you believe and that it’s in harmony with your side of the discussion which has been going on a lot longer than any of us have been around.

    Yes, what I have been explaining is fully in line with Catholic teaching. If you find something that you think conflicts, let me know and I can give you the Catechism paragraph number.

  208. Dennis said,

    October 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    204 Sean,

    I understand your time is valuable and I appreciate the time you took with me explaining the Reformed faith. Can you point me to a Reformed web site that focuses on the teachings of Christ? I would like to learn more about it from a Reformed perspective. I have looked at Lane’s analyses of the Gospel of John here on Green Baggins and I don’t think it focuses on Christ’s teachings…if there are posts here, that would be fine.

  209. sean said,

    October 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Dennis,

    This will sound and read to some degree as an aside, but I think to get a feel for how a protestant reads the scriptures, you have to understand how we view the canon. To that end, I would direct you toward Meredith Kline’s; “The Structure of Biblical Authority”. As a primer you can go to this site and read his articles on canon and covenant, there is 4 total under that subject. http://www.meredithkline.com/klines-works/articles-and-essays/

    I’m hearing good things about a book by Mark Kruger on the canon as well, but I haven’t read it.

    Part of what you want to keep in mind is that the gospels, while obviously containing the teachings of Christ, are historical narrative and some, like the parables, are purposely structured as to be less than direct, even obscure. The epistles are much more didactic and therefore give themselves more readily to doctrinal development. Which is why we never what to consider the teachings of the NT in isolation from other NT writings, and further grant more weight to those writings where a particular doctrine or topic is developed more thoroughly. Protestant reading abides the principle of Scripture interprets scripture and the more clear readings give insight or light to the more obscure, or less clear.

  210. Dennis said,

    October 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    sean,

    Part of what you want to keep in mind is that the gospels, while obviously containing the teachings of Christ, are historical narrative and some, like the parables, are purposely structured as to be less than direct, even obscure.

    Is this your opinion or generally Reformed consensus?

    The Gospels are more than “historical narrative.” The entire scripture points to the four Gospels.. You cannot understand Paul without understanding the Gospels.

    You cannot know Christ without understanding the Gospels. Christ’s words tear you apart.

    This is giving me a much better understanding of the Protestant Reformed perspective.

  211. Jason Loh said,

    October 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Jason re #206

    Justification by faith alone apart from the Law comes first. St Paul cannot be anymore clearer.

    Galatians 2 first and then only followed by Galatians 6.

    IOW, one does not proceed from fulfilling the Law of Christ (Galatians 6) to justification which is clearly apart from the Law (Galatians 2).

    Likewise, Romans 8 says that the Law can only be fulfilled *in* Christ. In Christ, the Law is behind us, “There is therefore *now* no *condemnation* to them which are *in* Christ Jesus.” This is the “first premise” — the rest are consequences/ causes. We fulfil the Law in Christ by the Holy Spirit which Law is no longer the “law of sin and death” – IOW the Law is it is behind us – not as a way of righteousness but emptied (in vacuo) of its claims coram Deo.

  212. Jason Loh said,

    October 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Galatians 2 – Law-Gospel distinction re the Law in its 2nd use.

    Galatians 6 – Law re its 3rd use/ 2nd use of the Gospel (for Luther and some Lutherans as subsumed under the 1st and 2nd use of the Law).

    Romans 8 – The work of Christ for us frees from the Law in its ultimate claims; the work of the Spirit in us enables us to fulfil the Law in Christ a bit here and there in advance when the tension between the yet and not yet comes to an end and the Law will eternally behind us.

  213. johnbugay said,

    October 18, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Dennis 211: Christ’s words tear you apart.

    This is incredibly wrong. Just off the top of my head, the view of sin in the Sermon on the Mount is precisely what the Reformed hold to in doctrines of sin and depravity. Roman Catholicism waters it down with its notion of “venial sins”. Even an angry thought is worthy of hell.

    Reading through the Gospels, you will be amazed at how many times the phrase “your faith has saved you” appears. That was probably one of the most striking things for me when I sat down at age 19 and read through the Gospels for the first time.

    The concept of “the elect”, a concept that the Reformed are known for, is well established.

    You bring out Matthew 23:2 and the “seat of Moses” as a support for Roman Catholic authority, but Matthew 23 is a scathing indictment of everything Roman Catholics consider to be authority. I’m perplexed that Roman Catholics even know how to read when they bring up this verse. You don’t even know what the “seat of Moses” really was.

    Matthew 20: there is no distinction between believers. All are equally beneficiaries of God’s grace. Your emphasis on “the Petrine ministry” and “the successor of Peter” — virtually the whole history of “Roman” Catholicism, just simply flies in the face of Matthew 2:24-27.

    John 6:39:40: “this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

    The mere “looking and believing” is the criterion for eternal life. The notion that God-given “eternal” life can be lost along Catholic lines is ridiculous.

    “It is finished” — the completed work of Christ, the whole notion that you cannot add one inch to your stature. The Reformed faith is very much drawn from and shaped by what Christ says in the Gospels.

    You have no idea what you are talking about. What you’re saying here is shaped by pure ignorance.

  214. sean said,

    October 18, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Dennis,

    I honestly don’t know how many ways to tell you that protestants eagerly embrace the gospels as well as all scripture. That we bother to identify the genre and accommodate our reading to the particularities of that genre is in NO way a discounting of the writing or devaluing of it’s message. It’s elementary school level consideration of reading comprehension. I don’t read poetry the way I read history or apocalyptic writing the way I read didactic or pedantic instruction. It’s really that simple and ALL that I am communicating to you. John has included some specific texts and If you’d like, you can copy and paste the entire gospel of John. Not sure how to make it any more clear.

  215. sean said,

    October 18, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Actually Dennis don’t copy and paste any of the gospels in their entirety, I’m sure the moderators would be displeased with such an action.

  216. Dennis said,

    October 18, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Sean,

    OK. Just as an example, is there a Reformed commentary out there of the Beatitudes? or the whole Sermon on the Mount?

    I really would like to understand how Jesus’ teachings are viewed from a Reformed perspective.

    It’s not about “cutting and pasting” but rather it’s about reading a passage of Scripture and reflecting on it. Letting it soak in and talk to your heart.

  217. Dennis said,

    October 18, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Actually Dennis don’t copy and paste any of the gospels in their entirety, I’m sure the moderators would be displeased with such an action.

    I wouldn’t blame them and I’m thankful for their graciousness in allowing me to comment.

  218. sean said,

    October 18, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Dennis,

    Here’s a start and there are additional links to books and additional podcasts to listen to.

    http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/02/12/whi-1088-the-beatitudes/

  219. Dennis said,

    October 18, 2012 at 9:43 am

    sean,

    Thanks!

  220. Pete Holter said,

    October 18, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Hey Bob S! Thank you for the interaction…

    For starters, the only unforgivable sin is unbelief.

    Since you are talking about a saving faith in this context, i.e., a faith accompanied by hope and love, I do not think that we disagree on this point. John Paul II put it like this: the unfogiveable sin “is an obstinate refusal to be converted to the love of the Father of mercies” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia), and “the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the Cross” (Dominum et Vivificantem).

    Two, the POV of WCF17 is the ultimate end of the elect.
    Humanly speaking, there are certain sins that one is excommunicated for – to the end of repentance – but again humanly speaking, we don’t pretend to know who the elect are. The elect, if excommunicated for grievous sin, repent; the reprobate continue on in unbelief and disobedience.

    We are agreed that the elect repent and that the reprobate die in their sin.

    But the question at issue between us concerns the current spiritual state of the man who has been “handed over to Satan” (1 Timothy 1:20; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5), and prior to his repentance (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10).

    Let us imagine one of the elect who has already been regenerated. He subsequently persists in adultery for ten years, and repents of this adulterous relationship in the eleventh year. You are forced by your confession to say that this man is in a state of grace during those ten years and that he is worthy to inherit the kingdom of God on the basis of his faith during that time. This contradicts the Scriptures. Let us go back to the Scriptures and hear from Paul what the current state of that man is. Let us go there and hear him repeatedly warn us, “Do not be deceived.” We must ask ourselves concerning this man, “Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). No. And yet you confess that this man—in his fifth or sixth year of this adulterous union—has a faith that “is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love” because he was regenerated at some point in the past and will therefore repent before he dies (WCF 11.2). In the memorable words of Augustine, “You must excuse me for saying we do not believe a word of this” (Letter 93, Ch. 7:23).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  221. October 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Jason Loh,

    Justification by faith alone apart from the Law comes first. St Paul cannot be anymore clearer.

    Galatians 2 first and then only followed by Galatians 6.

    If Paul is talking in Galatians about how the law of Moses cannot justify anyone, but justification happens through faith, then we are in agreement.

    IOW, one does not proceed from fulfilling the Law of Christ (Galatians 6) to justification which is clearly apart from the Law (Galatians 2).

    As I point out in my Law/Law Distinction post, the argument you are making depends on an unspoken premise, namely, that “the Law” in Paul is a monolithic and a-covenantal idea.

    Likewise, Romans 8 says that the Law can only be fulfilled *in* Christ. In Christ, the Law is behind us, “There is therefore *now* no *condemnation* to them which are *in* Christ Jesus.” This is the “first premise” — the rest are consequences/ causes. We fulfil the Law in Christ by the Holy Spirit which Law is no longer the “law of sin and death” – IOW the Law is it is behind us – not as a way of righteousness but emptied (in vacuo) of its claims coram Deo.

    Again, you’re just conflating what Paul distinguishes. When Paul speaks of “the law of the Spirit” he is referring to the New Covenant whose law is written by the Spirit on our hearts.

    And I disagree about what you say about how everything after the “no condemnation” clause in Rom. 8:1 being “consequences / causes” (and I find that language quite confused, as a consequence and a cause are opposites).

    Here’s what Paul says: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, for the law of the Spirit has set me free from the law of sin and death.” Now, it is grammatically legitimate to connect the “therefore” not with what precedes, but with what follows. And his use of “for the law of the Spirit” encourages this reading. So the actual progression in Paul’s thought goes like this: liberation from the law of sin by the law of the Spirit, leading to the removal of condemnation.

    Galatians 2 – Law-Gospel distinction re the Law in its 2nd use.

    Galatians 6 – Law re its 3rd use/ 2nd use of the Gospel (for Luther and some Lutherans as subsumed under the 1st and 2nd use of the Law).

    You’re doing it again. Paul does not think in the kinds of a-historical and non-covenantal categories you are employing, as if there is this thing called Law-with-a-capital-L that drops down into history with various uses. Law is connected with covenant. So for Paul, the law he is talking about in Gal. 2 is the law of Moses, while the law he refers to in Gal. 6 is the law of Christ. He says so explicitly.

  222. Jason Loh said,

    October 18, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Jason,

    St Paul’s logic in Galatians 2 is simple. If you and I agree that to quote St Paul/ Luther again: If justification comes by the Law, then Christ died in vain, then we must agree that it’s an either/ or logic here. IOW, Law-Gospel distinction which distinction is absolute and cannot be resolved into a “higher synthesis.”

    In other words, justification by faith as the Gospel or Jesus dying for the unjustified excludes the Law without any qualification or condition whatsoever. IOW, the Law is useless, deadly, redundant, etc. etc. as a way of measuring, obtaining, receiving, increasing righteousness.

    IOW, justification by faith in Galatians 2 does not refer to initial justification (as it is clear from the text) and Galatians 6 does not refer to on-going justification (as it is clear from the text).

    If justification by *faith* refers to initial justification, then this makes justification be temporal. But since the Law is *excluded* from justification, justification by faith can only be eschatological — that is, the Gospel or Jesus alone has the *last, ultimate, final* word. These adverbials (adjectival verbs) indicate futurity — that covers or encompass the entire scope of human existence. IOW, eschatological.

    To put it simply, in order for the Law to be silenced, the Gospel must be able to “outrun” or stretch further than the Law, hence eschatological – not temporal. IOW, Law and Gospel are not partners-in-crime but the Law itself is the culprit which must be banished forever.

    This comports with what St Paul preached in Romans 10:4 where Christ is said to be the “end of the Law.” That is, Jesus Christ as the Alpha & Omega is the End of the Law as His christological title.

  223. Jason Loh said,

    October 18, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Jason re#222,

    “And I disagree about what you say about how everything after the “no condemnation” clause in Rom. 8:1 being “consequences / causes” (and I find that language quite confused, as a consequence and a cause are opposites).”

    Yes, my mistake. I meant consequences/ *effects.*

  224. Jason Loh said,

    October 18, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    “Again, you’re just conflating what Paul distinguishes. When Paul speaks of “the law of the Spirit” he is referring to the New Covenant whose law is written by the Spirit on our hearts.”

    Yes, the Law of the New Covenant written in our hearts by the Spirit is what it is — as St Paul says in Romans 8:1 — in them who are in Christ. IOW, justification of the ungodly comes first and then only life in the Spirit.

    The preceding verse in Romans 4: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Justification of the ungodly.

    This is why St Paul can say later on that “There *is* *now* (present continuous tense) *no* condemnation to them who are in Christ.” Those who are *in* Christ “… walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” IOW, no ifs or buts — only “a plain fact of the matter.”

    IOW, connecting Romans 4 and Romans 8 together: Those who are justified by faith walk in the Spirit because the Law is written in their hearts.

  225. Jason Loh said,

    October 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    IOW, life in the Spirit is not/ never a basis for our justification coram Deo. As St Paul says, justification *alone* is the basis of our life in the Spirit. The Roman paradigm reverses the sequence.

    This can be seen in the Roman Mass and the Roman theology of the Cross. Jesus is first imitated and only then to be received. IOW, Jesus can only be Sacramentum if He is first Exemplum.

    As if to underscore his point, St Paul preached on what is known particularly in Reformed circles as the “Golden Chain of Salvation” in Romans 8:30: “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” This ordo salutis is as Jason knows unbreakable – since the verse itself says so.

    For Luther, we receive predestination, justification, sanctification and glorification all at once.

    To top it off, St Paul says that NOTHING “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    IOW, justification of the ungodly is what it is – final, immutable, unthwartable.

  226. Jason Loh said,

    October 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    “Paul does not think in the kinds of a-historical and non-covenantal categories you are employing, as if there is this thing called Law-with-a-capital-L that drops down into history with various uses. Law is connected with covenant. So for Paul, the law he is talking about in Gal. 2 is the law of Moses, while the law he refers to in Gal. 6 is the law of Christ. He says so explicitly.”

    Yes, the Law as schoolmaster/ disciplinarian is Moses. This is the 2nd use of the Law – the Law always accuses, judges, terrifies, etc. Here we agree that the Law is never fulfilled.

    The Law of Christ is the Law fulfilled by, in and under Christ. If it is fulfilled by Christ and hence the Law of Christ – as we both agree – then it cannot be that this same Law of Christ judges us. IOW, the Law of Christ as the Law of the New Covenant justifies whilst the Law of Moses could not.

    Rather, as St Paul says, justification is apart from the Law. Justification apart from the (deeds of the) Law ends the Law of Moses coram Deo and at the same times establishes or upholds its coram mundo. The Law of Christ then is for the neighbour — the deeds of the Law now can be used for the sake of the neighbour. And so, the Christian who has the Law of Christ written in his/ her heart fulfils the Law in Christ.

    Faith honours God; love serves the neighbour.

  227. Jason Loh said,

    October 19, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Where the Law of Moses ends, the Law of Christ begins. The Law of Christ is a REVERSAL of the Law of Moses as to its use by sinners coram Deo. IOW, the Law of Christ is now used coram mundo.

    This is because Incarnation itself is the sacramental reversal of the way of salvation. This is the “meaning” of the God-Man “Who *for* us men, and for our *salvation*, came down and was incarnate and was made man.” This is justification — to be justified by the *Person* not *in* our person (Roman paradigm).

  228. Jason Loh said,

    October 19, 2012 at 12:15 am

    In Galatians 6:14 , St Paul says that “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the CROSS of our Lord Jesus Christ, *by* whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

    No Law of Christ here but ONLY the Cross of Christ as St Paul’s *own* glory. And if glorified, then sanctified; if sanctified, then justified; if justified, then predestined.

  229. Bob S said,

    October 19, 2012 at 12:29 am

    208 Den,
    The confusion and contradictions never cease.

    Election and predestination came up after you asked what the gospel is.
    The doctrines are plainly taught in Scripture. You don’t think they belong to the gospel. Yet you don’t have too much of a problem with the Canons of Dordt. Go figure.

    In 211 you tell us that Christ’s word “tears us up”. As in Jn. 10:35 the Scripture cannot be broken? Because then we are told that the Gospels pre-empt the Epistles – except when it comes to Jn 3 “born again”vs. Rom. 6. baptized into newness of life. But no conflict here right?, never mind the previous chapters leading up to 6 in Romans. Still as you love your own soul, you need to know if you are born again rather than just merely baptized by a Roman priest.

    Do your views conflict with Scripture? Well, let’s just say you might ask Bryan Cross about the word/concept fallacy. He probably can give you the right definition, however his application might be a little skewed, shall we say, in mistaking the sacrament for what it represents.

    Do your views conflict with the Roman catechism? Maybe, maybe not. But if you are asking what the reformed believe and haven’t read the reformed confessions, whether the 3 Forms of Unity or the Westminster Standards, I assume you don’t know what the reformed believe, much more are unqualified to even summarily dismiss the reformed objections to Romanism as frivolous, irrelevant or disingenuous, never mind prove them mistaken.

    As for 223 ya gotta love it. All bets are off.
    Romanism means you don’t have to answer salient objections to the sniper/outlier/exception is the rule/nitpicking criticism of the law/gospel distinction that something like the Dutch Annotations raise. You can just assume that argument is past being proven and that the reformed have never answered/have no answer for your law/law paradigm. ‘Cause we don’t/won’t read so and so’s post’. Whatever. Unfortunately those of us who were born and raised in that communion are not surprised, whatever the recent converts might think or raise as an excuse for such behavior.

  230. Jason Loh said,

    October 19, 2012 at 12:45 am

    The Law of Christ (in Galatians 6) – serving the neighbour (in imitating Christ) – “Bear ye one another’s burdens,”

    “Be not deceived; GOD is not mocked (coram Deo): for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall OF the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall OF the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

    To sow to one’s flesh is what it is – the works OF the flesh which is only corruption. To sow to the SPIRIT, on the contrary, means it is the Spirit that is the Subject – “shall OF the Spirit reap life everlasting.” IOW, justification.

    “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

    Here St Paul doesn’t talk about habitual grace, actual grace, penance, Novena devotion, pilgrimage, etc. He simply exhorts the Galatians not to be weary in well-doing. If good works are necessary to salvation, why on earth would St Paul be telling the Galatians not to be weary in well-doing? IOW, St Paul does not have doing good deeds coram Deo in mind but coram mundo. The next sentence cannot be anymore clearer, particularly with the inclusion of the word, “especially.” Good works unto salvation recognises no distinction between that performed to a Christian or non-Christian. St Paul is meaning to say that the needs of those closest to you, i.e. of the household of faith is great – closest neighbour.

    Again, after St Paul talks about justification, he immediately shifts to vocation — just like Jesus. Yes, St Paul said “and” at beginnig in verse 9 i.e. the joining together of two distinct propositions – justification and vocation.

  231. Bob S said,

    October 19, 2012 at 12:48 am

    221 Peter,
    The only thing forcing you is your own speculative imagination. What was David’s state before he repented of his murder and adultery?

    Better yet, there are a couple of other chapters to the WCF than just 17 if you have even done it justice. As in God saves sinners by faith. And even after being saved they are still sinners. What’s that all about? IOW no one is “worthy to inherit the kingdom of God” as you put it. That’s the whole idea of unmerited grace. Our faith doesn’t save us, Christ does. All our sins are grievous sins and damnable. I can’t answer for anybody’s sins or “state of grace” but my own. The same goes for you or David.

    Yet faith without works justifies us before God, works justify faith before men.

  232. Jason Loh said,

    October 19, 2012 at 12:54 am

    “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor *un*circumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15).

    IOW, *doing* (flesh) counts for nothing, only *being* (*new* creature). This is the doctrine of St Paul the Apostle.

  233. Jason Loh said,

    October 19, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Interestingly, in Galatians 6, St Paul does not talk about grace as substance but the Spirit Who is a Person. Thus, the contrast between sowing to the flesh and sowing to the Spirit cannot be anymore greater. IOW, we don’t sow to the flesh the same way we sow to the Spirit. In the flesh, we sow by using our members to work and do good works to our neighbour. But we don’t “use” the Spirit; it is the Spirit who use us(!). So sowing to the Spirit is not *active* but *passive.* Otherwise, the Spirit is reduced to an impersonal force.

    This is why St Paul preached in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the *fruit* of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is *NO* law.” This is why St Paul also preached in Philippians 2 that “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

  234. Jason Loh said,

    October 19, 2012 at 2:42 am

    “Here’s what Paul says: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, for the law of the Spirit has set me free from the law of sin and death.” Now, it is grammatically legitimate to connect the “therefore” not with what precedes, but with what follows. And his use of “for the law of the Spirit” encourages this reading. So the actual progression in Paul’s thought goes like this: liberation from the law of sin by the law of the Spirit, leading to the removal of condemnation.”

    Apologies for not dealing with this here.

    Yes, you ‘re right it is legitimate to connect the “therefore” with what follows *because* of the word, “for.” It is also equally, therefore(!) legitimate to connect the “therefore” with what precedes. That is the function of the word “therefore.”

    And I don’t disagree that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus removes condemnation for that is what the text says clearly. What I disagree is the use of the word, “progression.” There is no progression (temporal sequence), only logical sequence (to employ the Reformed phraseology).

    “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” St Paul is clear that the law of the Spirit is actually the law of Christ. IOW, the same understanding concerning “that” law which means that the law which Christ has fulfilled in his death and resurrection.”

    “*For* what the *law* could not do, in that it was weak through the *flesh*, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” The law could not justify; only demand. Thus the law remained unfulfilled until Jesus came.Thus, the law that is fulfilled as justification is not the law of the Spirit *in* us but the law of the Spirit of Christ who died on the CROSS.

    This is why St Paul could say so “that the righteousness OF the law might be *fulfilled* in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The word, “that” immediately connects with the Cross — that is, what happens in verse 3 also happens in the *same* location and occasion as verse 2. This is the communicatio idiomatum. Christ took on our sin (condemned sin *in the flesh*) and the righteousness of the law – which really is the righteousness *of* Christ Who *fulfilled* the law -is given to us so that *in* Christ we fulfilled the law. After all, one cannot fulfil the law (let alone *begin* to do so – for the sake of the argument) if one is under the condemnation of the Law. Thus there is no progression here. The fulfilment of the righteousness of the law is *total*.

    if one wants to speak of progression, it is from Christ as Sacramentum to Christ as Exemplum. We receive Christ as Saviour first for our justification only then do we imitate Christ as Model for our sanctification/ vocation.

  235. October 19, 2012 at 3:53 am

    Jason Loh,

    You responded to me with TEN comments. I’m sorry, but if you want to be interacted with more consistently (here or anywhere), you’re going to need to figure out a way to make your point more succinctly. Because now you’re like that assistant pastor who preaches for 47 minutes, when he could have made his point in 30 (or split the series into four weeks)!

  236. Jason Loh said,

    October 19, 2012 at 4:26 am

    OK. Being succinct is good. My points are as follows:

    1. For Romans 8, the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” relates to the New Man (which for me as a “Bondage of the Will” Lutheran rather than Lutheran Orthodox confessionalism is totally just with the Old Man as totally sinful one and the same time and space) in justification. Hence the contrast between carnal-minded vs spiritual-minded, flesh vs *S*pirit.

    2. Galatians 6 speaks of the “law of Christ” as the New Man in sanctification (or as a “Bondage of the Will” Lutheran, I prefer to speak of vocation). Hence carrying one another’s burdens and doing good works to the household of faith.

    3. Either way, justification is by faith apart from the deeds of the Law, or else Christ DIED for nothing (Gal 2:16). IOW, the Cross and the Law are mutually exclusive. It is Christ *alone* or nothing.

    4. The Law therefore plays no part in our justification/ salvation.

    5. The Law has its proper place in the life of the Christians in their relationship to their neighbour and this world of the old creation.

  237. October 19, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Cool, man. Thanks. I will respond in the morning.

  238. Bob S said,

    October 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    236 No mention of course, of the former pastor that tramples on WCF1:9, pits Paul against Christ and goes hunting and pecking on the margins in order to put over his Roman paradigm of faith plus works for justification.

    But that’s cool, man. No response is necessary because there is no real reasonable Scriptural or historical response.

    Again, from the top.
    Justification by faith alone is the key to the New Testament.
    The indicative precedes the imperative; what God has done precedes what man must do in the epistles.
    Stellman’s argument presupposes that we can’t see the forest for the trees, that the later Galatians sets the parameters for the earlier.

    That a spirit infused fulfillment of the law must necessarily accompany faith in order to be justified. As if that isn’t what Paul is talking about in the first place in Galatians, no? Well, not exactly, the Judaizers just wanted to add circumcision and the ceremonial law to faith for justification. Stellman/Rome just wants to add the believer’s obedience. No big deal, right?

    Other than that the just shall live by faith Rom. 1:17

    Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
    But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
     Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: . . .
    Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Rom.3:20-22,28

    But, but, but Paul talks about the law of faith Rom. 3:27, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus Rom.8:2, the law of Christ, Gal. 6:2, and the law of liberty Jm. 1:25, 2:12. Therefore the gospel includes the law and the whole playing the two off against each other as contraries in the Law/Gospel distinction is mistaken.

    Let the reader decide whether Romanism gives full weight not only to sola scriptura, but also tota scriptura, not to mention that scripture interprets scripture and that according to the analogy of scripture/faith. True to form, our Romanist hasn’t mentioned it in any meaningful way so far and won’t in the future, because then the unraveling would begin.

    Thank you

  239. October 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    J-Loh,

    OK. Being succinct is good. My points are as follows:

    1. For Romans 8, the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” relates to the New Man (which for me as a “Bondage of the Will” Lutheran rather than Lutheran Orthodox confessionalism is totally just with the Old Man as totally sinful one and the same time and space) in justification. Hence the contrast between carnal-minded vs spiritual-minded, flesh vs *S*pirit.

    I must confess, I have a really hard time understanding that paragraph.

    Yes, the law of the Spirit “relates” to the new man, but the point Paul is making is that the law of the Spirit—or, the law of Christ—sets him free from the Mosaic law that could only highlight man’s sin. The result of this liberation from the curse of death is there being no condemnation for those united with Christ.

    So in these few verses we see Paul working from the very paradigm I have been arguing for here: The New Covenant gift of the Spirit provides the life we need, as well as the love of God which fulfills the law, such that its requirements are now fulfilled in us, resulting in non-condemnation both in the present and on the last Day.

    2. Galatians 6 speaks of the “law of Christ” as the New Man in sanctification (or as a “Bondage of the Will” Lutheran, I prefer to speak of vocation). Hence carrying one another’s burdens and doing good works to the household of faith.

    Who is it who “bears another’s burdens”? Those “who are spiritual.” Who is spiritual? Those who display the “fruit of the Spirit.” What is the fruit of the Spirit? “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Why is love so important? Because “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” To what does this love avail?

    W a i t f o r i t . . . .

    Faith working through love avails for justification, according to 5:2-6.

    It is completely arbitrary for you to read ch. 6 and insist that it is about sanctification (since Paul stopped talking about justification a few chapters ago). There is no contextual reason to deny the very clear progression I am presenting, other than simply because what Paul says doesn’t fit the artificial breakdown of the book that your theology demands.

    3. Either way, justification is by faith apart from the deeds of the Law, or else Christ DIED for nothing (Gal 2:16). IOW, the Cross and the Law are mutually exclusive. It is Christ *alone* or nothing.

    Agreed, but that’s not the question. You, Paul, and I would all concur with what you just wrote. But the question is this: Does Paul lump together walking in the Spirit with laboring to obey the works of the law? If your answer is yes, then you’ve seriously misunderstood Paul. But if your answer is no, then you should have no objection to the idea that justification by faith is perfectly compatible with justification by Spirit-wrought works of love (and Luther would have needed to excise more than just James to avoid that idea!).

    4. The Law therefore plays no part in our justification/ salvation.

    If by “The Law” you mean what Paul usually means (the Law of Moses), then we agree.

    5. The Law has its proper place in the life of the Christians in their relationship to their neighbour and this world of the old creation.

    Which law? The problem we keep having is that your Lutheran theological understanding of Law-with-a-capital-L is simply not what Catholics (or many Calvinists) think Paul has in mind when he writes about the law.

    In the NC the law of the Spirit is inscribed upon our hearts (where God’s love is poured out), and according to Rom. 8, the difference this makes is that, unlike with the Mosaic law, the law of Christ is actually keepable since the power to obey comes with it by the Spirit. That’s why (coming back around to Gal. 6) Paul says that by bearing one another’s burdens we “fulfill the law of Christ” (which is just another way of saying, as he does a few verses later, that if we “sow to the Spirit” we will “reap eternal life”).

  240. sean said,

    October 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Jason,

    Holding aside the other less than scriptural grounds for certain Roman practices. Why is your move in Rom 8 to be preferred to NCT’s move in going from type(Mosaic law-list) to person(in-lawed to Christ, or law of Christ). So, the broader application of ‘salvation’ contains all the various soteriological movements, yet protects the implications of sola fide and at least covenantal righteousness imputed per the fulfillment of the pactum-salutis. I mean I can see some merit(no pun intended) with maintaining salvation as broader than justification but treating Rom 8 or Gal as ground for preferring Rome, I just don’t see. Granted the 3 uses of the law and the less than a-covenantal rendering you sometimes hear in reformed circles can create some BT issues, but there seem to be more compatible solutions than Rome and sacramentalism.

  241. October 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Hey Sean,

    If you read my piece at CTC you’ll see that soteriology was just one aspect of why I poped. I just talk about that aspect here since it is the topic Lane put up for discussion.

    Your point is important, though, because it shows that there could be someone with my basic soteriology who is nonetheless Protestant, and against whom arguments about how lame Mary and the pope are would not work.

  242. sean said,

    October 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Jason,

    Well, basic agreement on the the broader use of ‘Salvation’ with some small little protestant caveats such as; sola fide, imputation of merit solitary mediation to the father through the son, strict justice in the garden, spiritual deadness not just wounding………………………

  243. Jason Loh said,

    October 20, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Jason re#240,

    “So in these few verses we see Paul working from the very paradigm I have been arguing for here: The New Covenant gift of the Spirit provides the life we need, as well as the love of God which fulfills the law, such that its requirements are now fulfilled in us, resulting in non-condemnation both in the present and on the last Day.”

    Speaking as a Lutheran, your language re “The New Covenant gift of the Spirit provides the life we need, as well as the love of God which fulfills the law” is problematic.

    1.The New Covenant is really the New *Testament.* Recall Jesus’s Last Will & Testament at the Lord’s Supper. He bequeathed His very own Body and Blood as the Gift (Beneficium) of the New Testament. The Lord’s Supper took place BEFORE the Crucifixion and yet St Paul preached that at Lord’s Supper, we really do *proclaim* the Lord’s death until He comes. IOW, the Lord’s Supper and the Cross are *eschatological* events. On the other hand, the Mass is of course Sacrifice (Sacrificium). Imitation must precede Reception. This makes the Mass to be a *response* to the Cross. By extension. both events are temporalised.

    2. The gift of the Spirit is none other than the DIVINE life (IOW “Uncreated Grace,” not “created grace”). Again, it is eschatological – from another aeon/ age, another kingdom. Therefore, the divine life does not only “provide the life we need,” it is the very life we *have* — in faith/ hope alone (Romans 8: 24, Hebrews 11;1). The Christian life we live here and now in the living present of the old creation has its sources in the life to come. (Notice the sequence in Romans 8).

    3. The love of God is not our love for God but God’s love for us in the Person/ Work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. This is why the love of God fulfils the Law. So Paul preached in Romans 5:

    “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” And compare that with Romans 8: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” IOW, the joyous exchange — Christ takes our sin (Old Adam) and gives us righteousness (God-Man). The joyous exchange fulfils and at the same time ends the Law, Romans 10:4 – “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that BELIEVETH” — sola fide.

    4. The requirements of the Law are not neutral — lex semper accusat — the Law always accuses. We either conform or we do not. Christians therefore do not fulfil the Law out of conformity to the law but to CHRIST alone (solus Christus), conformitas Christi. Or to be more precise, Christians (passive) are conformed to Christ coram Deo. In Christ, we do not/ are not to meet the requirements of the Law. Ironically, this in itself is *contrary* to the Law which claims our whole being and not just our works – the entire person. IOW, just as Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law for sinners, i.e. for the other; likewise coram mundo we fulfil the Law for the sake of the neighbour, never the SELF.

    5. This is why conformity to the Law for justification is always deadly. For it is self-justification/ self-preservation. IOW, it is a TRAP for which there is no EXIT.

  244. Jason Loh said,

    October 20, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Jason re#240,

    “Who is it who “bears another’s burdens”? Those “who are spiritual.” Who is spiritual? Those who display the “fruit of the Spirit.” What is the fruit of the Spirit? “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Why is love so important? Because “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” To what does this love avail?

    W a i t f o r i t . . . .

    Faith working through love avails for justification, according to 5:2-6.”

    The fruit OF the Spirit is love because we *in* ourselves do *not* produce anything. IOW, we are the fruits of the Spirit. This what St Paul says … in none other than Romans 8 itself: “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

    On Galatians 5:6, St Paul doesn’t say faith working WITH love but faith working THROUGH love. This *presupposes* justification rather implies justification. This is why St Paul preached, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. For IN Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh BY love.

    This is why this verse is consistent with Galatians 2:16 – “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith OF Jesus Christ, even we have believed IN Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” And Galatians 2:21 – “… For if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

    IOW, *righteousness* either comes from the Law alone or Christ alone – Either/ Or. If from Christ, then it is HIS righteousness which destroys any distinciton between initial and final justification.

  245. Dennis said,

    October 20, 2012 at 12:43 am

    John 214:

    When I say Christ’s words tear you apart, I mean that when you read what He says and reflect on it, it will shake you to your core.

    He has the words of eternal life.

    I don’t ever remember talking about Matthew 23:2 and using it as a support for Catholic authority. Are you sure you’re talking about me? When have I been talking about the “Petrine ministry” and the “Successor of Peter”.

    virtually the whole history of “Roman” Catholicism, just simply flies in the face of Matthew 2:24-27.

    Do Protestants use a different New Testament? I can’t find Matthew 2:24-27. Can you give me the proper reference that “the whole history of ‘Roman’ Catholicism'” flies in the face of?

    You have no idea what you are talking about. What you’re saying here is shaped by pure ignorance.

    Sorry John, you’re going to have to reexplain this entire post. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.

  246. Jason Loh said,

    October 20, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Jason, re#240

    “Which law? The problem we keep having is that your Lutheran theological understanding of Law-with-a-capital-L is simply not what Catholics (or many Calvinists) think Paul has in mind when he writes about the law.”

    Actually, there is only one Law. Yes, you’re right. Luther rejected the separability amongst the ceremonial, civil, etc. Law. He only upheld 2 uses of the Law.

    “In the NC the law of the Spirit is inscribed upon our hearts (where God’s love is poured out), and according to Rom. 8, the difference this makes is that, unlike with the Mosaic law, the law of Christ is actually keepable since the power to obey comes with it by the Spirit. That’s why (coming back around to Gal. 6) Paul says that by bearing one another’s burdens we “fulfill the law of Christ” (which is just another way of saying, as he does a few verses later, that if we “sow to the Spirit” we will “reap eternal life”).”

    The statement that the Law is keepable is problematic, not only from the viewpoint of Luther but also St. Paul. The Law of Christ – which is really the Law of Moses reversed from bottom-up to top-down – is for us to co-use in the communal/ societal sphere of serving the neighbour, not as you say for our own selves. It is only in this sense we can talk about a law/law distinction.

    IOW, we fulfil the law of Christ passively coram Deo; and actively only coram mundo. This is the meaning of conformitas Christi. IOW, coram Deo, we fulfill the law because we have been conformed to CHRIST (as Sacramentum). It is then only on that basis, that we in conformity to Christ (as Exemplum) seek to fulfil the Law for the sake of others. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).

    We have to becareful here, for St Paul is not talking about the flesh but the Spirit Who is a Divine Person, not an impersonal force. IOW, if we apply human logic to the Divine Person, then we run afoul of pneumatological heresies (Macedonianism comes to mind). We do not sow the Spirit in the same manner we sow to the flesh. Recall that love is the fruit of the Spirit, not something we produce. In fact, we ourselves are the firstfruits of the Spirit, i.e. the entire person. Thus, St Paul does not have in mind synergy here.

    Rather consistent with Pauline witness, the the gift OF the Spirit is none other than the SPIRIT Himself. IOW, the Spirit gives/ sows Himself to/ in the Christian (who sows to the Spirit). We know this because the contrast is between flesh vs Spirit (Romans 8), or more immediately between *corruption* and *life everlasting*.

    Hence, whatever is done in the Spirit is the SPIRIT’s work, otherwise it is the work of the flesh which is corruptible and reaps corruption.

    Finally, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the CROSS of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

  247. Pete Holter said,

    October 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Greetings in Christ, Bob!

    You wrote,

    What was David’s state before he repented of his murder and adultery?

    David was at that time a man deserving to die (cf. 2 Samuel 12:5), but upon his repentance he was assured, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13).

    Better yet, there are a couple of other chapters to the WCF than just 17 if you have even done it justice. As in God saves sinners by faith. And even after being saved they are still sinners. What’s that all about?

    We also pray to our Mother in Christ as sinners: “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

    IOW no one is “worthy to inherit the kingdom of God” as you put it. That’s the whole idea of unmerited grace. Our faith doesn’t save us, Christ does.

    We believe that we are made worthy to inherit the kingdom by unmerited grace: Christ in us, the hope of glory, received through the gift of faith.

    “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering… To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:5, 11-12).

    “Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4).

    By the way, the Pope has started a yearlong teaching series on faith to coincide with our celebration of the Year of Faith. I hope you’ll check out his Wednesday audiences. Here is a highlight from this past Wednesday:

    “Here is the wonder of faith: God, in His love, creates in us—through the work of the Holy Spirit—the right conditions so that we can recognize His Word. God Himself, in His will to manifest Himself to us, to enter into contact with us, to be present in human history, enables us to listen to and welcome Him.”

    You then wrote,

    All our sins are grievous sins.

    Not all sins lead to death (cf. 1 John 5:16-17). Taking lawsuits before other believers, and having relations with your wife on account of your lack of self-control are two examples of venial sins. Augustine gives a brief treatment of the two together in his Enchiridion, Ch. 78.

    I hope you have a blessed weekend!

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  248. Jason Loh said,

    October 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Pete, re#248,

    “David was at that time a man deserving to die (cf. 2 Samuel 12:5), but upon his repentance he was assured, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13).”

    Samuel 12:5 records to us the words of David. IOW, the perspective of man, not God. “For the wages of sin (no distinction between venial and mortal) is death” (Romans 6:23).

    Samuel 12:13 is a case of absolution (just like that, flat-out) without penance. The death of David’s love child is not a basis for the doctrine of temporal guiilt & punishment. For the prophet Nathan himself gives us the reason, namely “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” IOW, an unique event within the history of Scriptures (economy of salvation).

    “We also pray to our Mother in Christ as sinners: “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

    On the other hand, Mary’s yes/”fiat” to the “Angelus” is the exemplar of synergy which implies free-will. Sinners who pray for the intercession of BVM also want to be self-justified (i.e. justified *in* themselves).

  249. Jason Loh said,

    October 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Pete, re#248,

    “By the way, the Pope has started a yearlong teaching series on faith to coincide with our celebration of the Year of Faith. I hope you’ll check out his Wednesday audiences. Here is a highlight from this past Wednesday:

    Here is the wonder of faith: God, in His love, creates in us—through the work of the Holy Spirit—the right conditions so that we can recognize His Word. God Himself, in His will to manifest Himself to us, to enter into contact with us, to be present in human history, enables us to listen to and welcome Him.”

    Faith is not creating the “right conditions” in us so that we can “recognize His Word.” The problem is not self-knowledge but sin. The former is liberalism (just like the Roman theology of the Cross where the love of God moves humanity to love in return. IOW, analogy of love, hence the primacy of sight rather than hearing; thus, the primacy of obedience rather than faith). The latter is the Gospel. Faith is created ex nihilo, out of nothing. Faith is New Man *in* Jesus Christ (union between the two) created by the killing of the Old Adam.Thus, faith presupposes *and* implies CONFLICT with Original Sin, the Devil and the demonic (both visible & invisible). Hence the patristic leitmotif of Christus victor.

  250. Pete Holter said,

    October 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Jason Loh!

    Samuel 12:5 records to us the words of David. IOW, the perspective of man, not God.

    I think that Nathan’s prophetic reassurance in 12:13 informs our understanding of David’s judgment upon himself and shows that it was truly reflective of God’s own justice. In other words, if David was not deserving of death, then why announce, “you shall not die”?

    “For the wages of sin (no distinction between venial and mortal) is death” (Romans 6:23).

    I do not think that there is a distinction stated here because “sin” in this passage is the entire superstructure of sin taken as a whole. And this superstructure is defeated by Christ, “Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) through his death and resurrection.

    Faith is not creating the “right conditions” in us so that we can “recognize His Word.” The problem is not self-knowledge but sin. The former is liberalism (just like the Roman theology of the Cross where the love of God moves humanity to love in return. IOW, analogy of love, hence the primacy of sight rather than hearing; thus, the primacy of obedience rather than faith). The latter is the Gospel. Faith is created ex nihilo, out of nothing. Faith is New Man *in* Jesus Christ (union between the two) created by the killing of the Old Adam.Thus, faith presupposes *and* implies CONFLICT with Original Sin, the Devil and the demonic (both visible & invisible). Hence the patristic leitmotif of Christus victor.

    Does this mean that you’ll be following his audiences? :) I hope so!

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  251. Jason Loh said,

    October 21, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Pete, re#251

    “I do not think that there is a distinction stated here because “sin” in this passage is the entire superstructure of sin taken as a whole. And this superstructure is defeated by Christ, “Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) through his death and resurrection.”

    But you see we’re not talking about John 1:29. The wages of *sin* is *death. IOW, distinction between venial and mortal sins.

  252. Jason Loh said,

    October 21, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Pete, re#251

    “Does this mean that you’ll be following his audiences? :) I hope so!”

    Ratzinger doesn’t impress me. Augustine of Hippo, Prosper of Aquitaine, Hilary of Poitiers, Caesarius of Arles, Fulgentius of Ruspe, the Scythian monks (East), Isidore of Seville, Gottschalk of Orbais, Servetus Lupus of Ferrières, Ratramnus of Corbie, Prudentius of Troyes, Florus of Lyons, Peter Lombard, Thomas Bradwardine, Gregory of Rimini, etc. these theologians, they impress me.

    Likewise, Newman was a third rate theologian whereby A can transmute to B and you and I are expected just to accept that as that.

  253. Jason Loh said,

    October 21, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Jason, re#242

    “If you read my piece at CTC you’ll see that soteriology was just one aspect of why I poped. I just talk about that aspect here since it is the topic Lane put up for discussion.”

    IOW, Jason’s already bought into the Romans paradigm even BEFORE he poped. In the Roman paradigm, soteriology and ecclesiology share the same logical status. No ecclesiology, no soteriology,

    Whereas Luther declared that justification (soteriology) is “the master and prince, the lord, the ruler and the judge over all kinds of doctrines; it preserves and governs all church doctrine and raises up our conscience before God. Without this article the world is utter death and darkness. No error is so insignificant, so clumsy, so outworn as not to be supremely pleasing to human reason and to seduce us if we are without the knowledge and the contemplation of this article.” Likewise, justification by faith is the “article is the head and the cornerstone, which alone begets, nourishes, builds, serves and defends the church of God. Without it the church of God cannot exist for even one hour.”

    IOW, all the errors of Rome can be traced to her unscriptural understanding of justification.

  254. Bob S said,

    October 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    248 Peter,
    While on the one hand we are told to do whatsoever our hand finds to do – even scribble away in the combox – on the other we are also told that zeal without knowledge is not good (Eccl. 9:10 Rom. 10:2).

    My question to you then, in light of yours regarding David and dying is exactly what do you make of Gen 2:17 in light of the fact that neither Adam or Eve literally died upon eating the forbidden fruit?

    Yet the point at issue is election including its application to David and it is clearly taught in Eph. 1 and Rom 8 & 9.

    As regards 251 and Jesus taking away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29) in order in part to defeat, if not confuse Jason’s rebuttal of the Roman distinction between venial and mortal sins, another verse commonly appealed to in order to justify universal redemption/atonement would be 1Jn 2:2:

    And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world .

    Yet if scripture interprets scripture, Rom. 11:12 tells us that:

    (I)f the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

    The point being the NT usage defines a word. Paul is talking about the fall and diminishing of “them” i.e the Jews. The result is the “riches of the world/Gentiles”. IOW “world” and “Gentiles” is interchangeable to Paul.

    Likewise in the total context of Scripture, when John talks about Christ being a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, he is talking about the Gentiles per se – which is anathema to what the Jews thought about who would be saved – never mind every last man, woman and child on the earth.

    Which is to say, the Roman distinction between venial and mortal sins is still on the hook/unproved from Scripture.

    254 IOW, all the errors of Rome can be traced to her unscriptural understanding of justification.

    Amen. Not to mention that the Reformers considered the pope Antichrist because he opposed the doctrine of justification.

    [At this point we slip into the invisible man mode, in that our ex PCA romanist in an immature snit- or if you prefer, faith working by love - refuses to read and answer what would be the typical objections to romanism from Luther on Galatians, the Dutch Annotations etc.
    IOW ignorance truly and proudly is the mother of romish devotion.

    Hard words, we suppose, but we give as good as we gets and this is not a small game. Mr. Stellman might like to try to bully, cow or ignore those who don’t quite go along with the program and buy into his presuppositions or assertions, but he is not the last word on what questions shall be asked or the parameters of the debate.]

    While we would agree with our romanist that brevity is the desideratum, the problem with #1 in 240 re. Rom 8 is the assumption that the “law of the Spirit” actually fulfills the requirements of the law in us, not that Christ’s death and obedience answers in our stead and we by grace walk in obedience and mortification of the works of the flesh. Our interlocutor assumes what he must prove. Rather the love of God in Christ fulfills the requirements of the law even before we get around to doing good works. Besides Rom. 4 already precludes works as having anything to do with justification.

    As for Gal. 6 and the notorious “faith working by love” which necessarily proves the Roman take, Luther says:

    For he saith not: Charity is efficacious, but: Faith is efficacious, and not Charity worketh, but: Faith worketh. But charity he maketh as it were the instrument of faith, through which faith worketh: and who do not know that an instrument hath its force, motion and action, not of itself, but of the workman, operator or agent? For who would say: The axe giveth power and motion of cutting to carpenter? The ship giveth power and motion of navigating to the sailor? Or, to adduce the example of Isaiah, who will say: The saw draweth the carpenter or the rod lifteth up the hand? (Isa. x.15). There is but little difference when they say charity is the form of faith, or that it imparteth force and motion unto faith, or that it justifieth. But seeing Paul attributeth not even works unto charity, how should he attribute justification unto it? It is therefore certain that great injury is done, and not only to Paul, but unto faith and charity themselves also, when this place is wrested against faith in behalf of charity.
    But so it happeneth to the careless readers and such as bring their own cogitations to the reading of holy Scripture, whereas they ought to come bringing nothing, but seeking to carry away thoughts from the Scriptures: and moreover they ought diligently to consider the words, comparing those going before with those following after, and endeavor to grasp the complete sense of each place, not picking out words and phrases to suit their own dreams. For Paul goeth not about here to declare what faith is, or what availeth before God; he disputeth not, I say, of justification (for this he hath largely done before), but as it were gathering up his argument, he briefly sheweth what the Christian life itself is.

    The saw before the carpenter? The rod before the hand? Great injury? Careless readers? Comparing those words before and following? Grasp the complete sense of each place? Protestantism has been there and done that. Not so Rome and her latest converts, their denials to the contrary. However it might irk some, the question before the house is not that complicated nor is the Roman paradigm a done deal, never mind if the Romanists even know the reformed objections to Romanism. But I repeat myself.

    Thank you.

  255. October 21, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    The idea that “justification” is faith “working” says it all. Any work whatsoever is insufficient to justify. The idea that justification are distinct but inseparable is misleading. Since sanctification is always imperfect, tainted by sin, and short of God’s glory it cannot withstand God’s judgment. In fact, the Thirty-nine Articles plainly teach that in Article 12. Therefore, justification and sanctification are not only distinct and distinguishable but are separate monergistic gifts of God. Justification is applied through the means of the gift of faith. It is always and only imputed. Sanctification, on the other hand, is a witness to other men that we have a valid profession of faith before the church. God needs no such proof of our conversion and progress since He is Himself the author of our faith, our justification, and our progress in the growth in the knowledge and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is the equivocations of the theology of paradox and analogy that leads to Rome, not the Scripturalist view of Gordon H. Clark.

  256. October 21, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    The idea that justification “and sanctification” are distinct but inseparable is misleading.

  257. Pete Holter said,

    October 22, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Hi, Jason Loh!

    But you see we’re not talking about John 1:29. The wages of *sin* is *death. IOW, distinction between venial and mortal sins.

    I think that if you follow Paul’s argument from 5:12 forward, you will see that “sin” is the whole course of life in Adam: the corruption of original sin, its resulting impulse to commit sin, and the ultimate fallout of the commission of personal sins. All of this leads to death. Jesus died to all of this providing redemption and reconciliation, and if we can somehow be united to Him in His death to sin, then we can escape sin and its wages through His resurrection.

    If we were to limit Paul’s meaning to personal sins, then we would have to further limit it specifically to sin that leads to death so as to exclude “sins that do not lead to death” (1 John 5:16).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  258. Bob B said,

    October 22, 2012 at 9:19 am

    256 Charles

    It sounds as if we have another answer to Jason’s question in 96 – what do we tell the church member living in sin concerning assurance.

    The answer would be ‘you might be justified, but you really need to work on your sanctification’.

  259. Pete Holter said,

    October 22, 2012 at 9:35 am

    John Bugay wrote,

    The entire concept of “penance” is a mistranslation (yes, Jerome in the Vulgate) of the word metanoiea, through a convoluted process that was not regularized until after the end of the millennium.

    Hi, John Bugay!

    I thought I’d share some thoughts on this, drawing primarily from John Paul II’s exhortation, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia.

    When the Catholic Church speaks of “penance,” we understand this to include the Biblical concepts of an internal, fundamental conversion and repentance, as well as “the movement whereby the preceding attitudes of conversion and repentance are manifested externally” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia). Here are some more thoughts from John Paul II that you might find helpful:

    “The term and the very concept of penance are very complex. If we link penance with the metanoia which the synoptics refer to, it means the inmost change of heart under the influence of the word of God and in the perspective of the kingdom. But penance also means changing one’s life in harmony with the change of heart, and in this sense doing penance is completed by bringing forth fruits worthy of penance: It is one’s whole existence that becomes penitential, that is to say, directed toward a continuous striving for what is better. But doing penance is something authentic and effective only if it is translated into deeds and acts of penance. In this sense penance means, in the Christian theological and spiritual vocabulary, ‘asceticism,’ that is to say, the concrete daily effort of a person, supported by God’s grace, to lose his or her own life for Christ as the only means of gaining it; an effort to put off the old man and put on the new; an effort to overcome in oneself what is of the flesh in order that what is spiritual may prevail; a continual effort to rise from the things of here below to the things of above, where Christ is. Penance is therefore a conversion that passes from the heart to deeds and then to the Christian’s whole life” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia).

    He says that repentance and conversion are a “real overturning of the soul,” and that the Greek word for conversion, metanoia, “literally means to allow the spirit to be overturned in order to make it turn toward God” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia).

    Furthermore, we define “doing penance” as “repenting, showing this repentance, [and] adopting a real attitude of repentance” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia). We take what John the Baptist said, “Bear fruit(s) in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8), and call this entire concept “penance.” We take Paul’s thought, “that [the Gentiles] should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20), and label this course of life “penitential.” That John the Baptist and Paul separated out the “fruits” of repentance from repentance itself and referred to these fruits as “deeds in keeping with their repentance,” demonstrates that the word “repentance” by itself does not necessarily entail the deeds that issue from it, but only necessarily entails the inner disposition that leads to the subsequent performance of these works. In other words, it was not superfluous for Paul to tell the Gentiles that they had to do both: (1) repent, and (2) perform works in keeping with their repentance. “Penance” is a term that we can use to capture this Biblical data in a single word.

    And the Catholic Church very beautifully defines “repentance” itself as “a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace” (CCC, 1431).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  260. Pete Holter said,

    October 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Bob S wrote,

    My question to you then, in light of yours regarding David and dying is exactly what do you make of Gen 2:17 in light of the fact that neither Adam or Eve literally died upon eating the forbidden fruit?

    Good morning, Bob! I basically follow Augustine’s thoughts on this…

    “When, therefore, God said to that first man whom he had placed in Paradise, referring to the forbidden fruit, ‘In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die,’ that threatening included not only the first part of the first death, by which the soul is deprived of God; nor only the subsequent part of the first death, by which the body is deprived of the soul; nor only the whole first death itself, by which the soul is punished in separation from God and from the body—but it includes whatever of death there is, even to that final death which is called second, and to which none is subsequent” (The City of God, Bk. 13, Ch. 12).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  261. Jason Loh said,

    October 24, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Pete, re#258,

    But there is still no distinction between venial and mortal sins in Romans 5. All actual sins (thought, word, deed) are rooted, ultimately, in the Original Sin of Adam and Eve; and hence, Baptism.

    The distinction between venial and mortal sin represents an implicit denial of Original Sin.

  262. davidmeyer75 said,

    October 24, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Jason (#262) said:

    The distinction between venial and mortal sin represents an implicit denial of Original Sin.

    I don’t see how an implicit denial follows from that distinction. Original and Actual Sin are very different in the Catholic system. How does distinguishing between types of Actual Sin implicitly deny Original Sin?

    Although Mortal and Original Sin result in the loss of sanctifying grace, the culpability makes them different, and the remedy is different. One cannot repent of Original Sin, it is only removed through the sacrament of baptism. Original Sin is not committed by us, so it is different than the other kind of sin: Actual Sin. Actual sin is defined (in the Baltimore catechism) as sin “which we ourselves commit”. The two kinds of actual sin are mortal and venial. Mortal sin meets the three conditions of: 1. It is grievous, 2. The sinner fully consents to it, 3. The sinner knows it is grievous or thinks it is grievous. Venial sin is by definition a less serious sin, as seen in 1 John 5:16-17 “…All wrongdoing is sin, but there is a sin which is not mortal.” Mortal Sin removes sanctifying grace and thus the life of the soul.

  263. Jason Loh said,

    October 24, 2012 at 11:51 am

    David, re#263,

    Yes, you’re right. I am looking from the Protestant (Lutheran) perspective. And yes, we can agree that we do not commit Original Sin. In classical Protestantism, we *are* Original Sin, i.e. the entire person (curved in on self). This is why only the guilt & liability is removed in Baptism. And this is why concupiscence *is* sin, and hence total depravity/ bondage of the will.

    Having said this, isn’t physical death an effect of the mortal sin of Adam? How therefore can one who remains inherits physical death from Adam not commit sin that is mortal in nature?

  264. davidmeyer75 said,

    October 25, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Ok thanks for the clarifying comment. Yes, I understand what the T in TULIP means. And I have even read Luther’s Bondage of the Will, and heartily agreed with it. I think the difference I see now as a Catholic is the infusion of sanctifying grace at Baptism which ‘un-turns’ ourselves from our self and makes us able (by God’s grace) to love God. This turns our heart from stone to flesh and to God, enabling us to love him. And that love does not die through sin which is not serious (venial sin). Just like the love between my wife and I does not end if I forget to buy my wife an aniversary card. (again, I think the mortal/venial distinction is clear from 1 John).
    And I dont understand how your last paragraph works. Are you saying that because we phisically die like Adam did as a result of his mortal sin that all our sins must therefore be mortal? That doesnt follow.

    “How therefore can one who remains inherits physical death from Adam not commit sin that is mortal in nature?”

    By God’s grace. Through love for God they can be a friend of God like Abram was, and truly be righteous. A righteous man does not commit mortal sin because he loves God.

  265. Jason Loh said,

    October 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    David, re#265

    “Yes, I understand what the T in TULIP means. And I have even read Luther’s Bondage of the Will, and heartily agreed with it.”

    Of course.

    “I think the difference I see now as a Catholic is the infusion of sanctifying grace at Baptism which ‘un-turns’ ourselves from our self and makes us able (by God’s grace) to love God. This turns our heart from stone to flesh and to God, enabling us to love him. And that love does not die through sin which is not serious (venial sin). Just like the love between my wife and I does not end if I forget to buy my wife an aniversary card.”

    Yes. The analogy of marriage is a bit more complex. Just between you and me, I hope we can agree that only death breaks the marriage bond because in the OT and NT, marriage is an *indissoluble* bond. This is the western catholic consensus. And this is one argument against purgatory. The sacramental nature of marriage of the Roman Church is at odds with purgatory.

    “And I dont understand how your last paragraph works. Are you saying that because we phisically die like Adam did as a result of his mortal sin that all our sins must therefore be mortal? That doesnt follow.

    “How therefore can one who remains inherits physical death from Adam not commit sin that is mortal in nature?”

    By God’s grace. Through love for God they can be a friend of God like Abram was, and truly be righteous. A righteous man does not commit mortal sin because he loves God.”

    Yes. That’s exactly what the argument is. Recall that we inherit Adam’s Original Sin which was responsible for his physical death in the first place. If sanctifying grace results in restoration of the situation of the *pre*-Fall Adam, this should include also reversal of physical death — *consistent* with Roman anthropology (of infusion, contra the *simul* of Lutheranism and Protestantism). Unless we reject Original Sin and assert death and corruption alone as per the Eastern Orthodoxy. Incidentally, mainstream consensus in EO reject the distinction between venial and mortal sin.

  266. Jason Loh said,

    October 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    David, re#265

    “(again, I think the mortal/venial distinction is clear from 1 John).”

    Yes, I should think so too if I were a Romanist. But, St John did clearly say: “All unrighteousness IS sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth NOT; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

    The question, therefore, hinges on what is that “sin not unto death”?

    The distinction is not between venial and mortal sins but the distinction between “begotten of God” (elect) – see also 1 John 3:9 – who sin mortal sins and “chldren of the devil” (non-elect) – as per 1 John 3:-10 – who sin mortal sins.

    Again, 1 John 3:9 – “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed *remaineth* in him: and he *cannot* sin, because he is *born* of God.” Here we see the (*existential* paradox of the) Johannine simul.

    IOW, “sin not unto death” relates to the Old Adam of the elect Christian. Here the Old Adam continues to sin but death is not the final word since the New Adam is raised in Christ. This is *theology*.

    *Pastorally*, there is space for venial and mortal sins corresponding to the 1st and 2nd uses of the Law. Ultimately, the wages of sin is death; and Christ is the end of the Law to all who believe.

  267. davidmeyer75 said,

    October 25, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    OK, you piqued my interest again. Yes, we agree, only death disolves the marriage bond (and this is the Catholic teaching). But how is that an argument against purgatory? The souls in Purgatory have died (in the sense of being seperated from their bodies) in the same way as those who bypass Purgatory and go to straight to heaven. For the purposes of marriage considerations, Purgatory is just the vestibule to heaven, and really the same destination in a sense. So whether I die and go to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, the point is my marriage is over.

    You said:

    we inherit Adam’s Original Sin which was responsible for his physical death in the first place. If sanctifying grace results in restoration of the situation of the *pre*-Fall Adam, this should include also reversal of physical death — *consistent* with Roman anthropology (of infusion, contra the *simul* of Lutheranism and Protestantism). Unless we reject Original Sin and assert death and corruption alone as per the Eastern Orthodoxy.

    Well, you stumped me. I know that what you say here contradicts Catholic teaching, and it seems to me there is a flaw in your reasoning here, but it is beyond my skill to say how. so I will defer to the Magisterium unless what you say can be proved. Are there any Catholics on the thread who can respond to Jason’s point about physical death? If not I will do the legwork to research it.

  268. Jason Loh said,

    October 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    “OK, you piqued my interest again. Yes, we agree, only death disolves the marriage bond (and this is the Catholic teaching). But how is that an argument against purgatory? The souls in Purgatory have died (in the sense of being seperated from their bodies) in the same way as those who bypass Purgatory and go to straight to heaven. For the purposes of marriage considerations, Purgatory is just the vestibule to heaven, and really the same destination in a sense. So whether I die and go to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, the point is my marriage is over.”

    But purgatory is more than a vestibule to heaven. It is a place of – not only purification – but punishment. The lines between purgatory and hell is very thin indeed. Hardly an appropriate analogy with *marriage*, especially *divine* marriage, which implies IMMEDIATE union and PERPETUAL communion. IOW, the only difference between human and divine marriage is the *duration*.

  269. Jason Loh said,

    October 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    In effect, Roman Baptism does not/ cannot restore the situation of the pre-Fall Adam. it’s really the OLD Adam all over again only this time better improved, etc.

    On 1 John 5, the blessed Apostle wasn’t articulating in the abstract the systematic distinction between venial and mortal sins which by their nature requires categorisation and classification (as in the Roman system) – IOW, the WHAT.

    But 1 John 5 is about WHO commits sin – hence the context of being begotten/ born of God and the counterpart of not begotten/ born of God.

  270. David Meyer said,

    October 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Interesting conversation Jason L. One more word on Purgatory. It is acceptable for a Catholic to believe that Heaven/Purgatory/Hell are not places, but rather they are states which really only describe the condition of the person in them. Given this freedom, I find it very helpful to see the three in this way. So, for the person who dies without love for God, he will forever burn in a fire which he finds painful and unwanted. For the person who dies with love for God, he will either be cleansed of remaining attachments that have no place in the Beatific Vision through a purging fire, or if there are no such attatchments, he will simply bask in the loving fire of God. Either way, God is unchanged, and the persons *location* is unchanged.
    And there is a huge difference between Hell and Purgatory. Hell results from an unrepentant rejection of God (I will say it is like handing God divorce papers, I hope that doesnt complicate things), but the soul in Purgatory has died in friendship with God, but is being spared the full vision of God until they leave all other attachments behind. Purgatory is a mercy for us, not a punishment. Like a loving father cleaning a dirty wound on his son. The pain is not punishment, although it may feel like it to some kids. But the fire of hell is not cleansing, it always burns at the sin, but never consumes, because the sinner will not let the sins go.

    Thanks,

    David Meyer

  271. Jason Loh said,

    October 26, 2012 at 1:07 am

    David, re#271,

    Thank you for your exposition/ articulation of purgatory. I find it rather intriguing, though, that the Christian should *ultimately* be forced to be cleansed of sins in the afterlife. Whereas in the here and now (the penultimate), the Christian is regarded as free to merit or forfeit the grace of justification. So, in the Roman system, one starts with free-will but ends up with bound will.

    In Lutheranism and Protestantism, the preacher starts with the Pauline bondage of the will and ends up with Pauline freedom in the proclamation of the Gospel in Word and Sacraments.

  272. Pete Holter said,

    October 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Greetings in Christ!

    Here is the highlight from this week’s audience from the pope on faith (just encouraging for everyone, I would think):

    “[I]n our time what we need is a renewed faith education, which includes a certain awareness of its truth and the events of salvation, but that mainly arises from a real encounter with God in Jesus Christ, from loving Him, trusting him, so that our entire life is involved…

    “Faith is not a mere intellectual assent to the special truths of God, it is an act by which I entrust myself freely to a God who is our Father and loves me, it is adherence to a ‘You’ that gives me hope and confidence. Certainly this union with God is not devoid of content: with it we know that God has revealed himself to us in Christ, He showed us His face and became really close to each of us. Indeed, God has revealed His love without measure for man, for each one of us: on the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God made man, shows us in the most luminous way how far this love can go, even to the point of giving himself up in total sacrifice. With the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, God descends to the depths of our humanity to bring it back to Him, to raise it to His heights. Faith is to believe in this love of God… And we must be able to proclaim this liberating and reassuring certainty of faith by word and show it with our lives as Christians.

    “But let us ask ourselves: where does man draw that openness of heart and mind from to believe in the God who has made himself visible in Jesus Christ who died and rose again, to receive His salvation, so that He and His Gospel are the guide and the light of existence? The answer: We can believe in God because He comes to us and touches us, because the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen Lord, enables us to accept the living God. Faith then is primarily a supernatural gift, a gift of God.”

    Jason Loh wrote,

    And this is why concupiscence *is* sin, and hence total depravity/ bondage of the will.

    Hi again, Jason!

    In case you’re interested, I’ve shared my thoughts on concupiscence, here: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=523893#8.

    David wrote,

    I will defer to the Magisterium unless what you say can be proved. Are there any Catholics on the thread who can respond to Jason’s point about physical death?

    Hi David!

    Welcome to the Church of Christ! Augustine talks about this in The City of God, Bk. 13, Ch. 4, and it is here that he refers the reader back to On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins (see Book 2 of that work, Chapter 30.49 and following). Augustine IS the magisterium. Ha, ha.

    Also, I do not think that it is accurate to say that (quoting Jason Loh) “sanctifying grace results in restoration of the situation of the *pre*-Fall Adam.” We would not be able to say that this is entirely true since the regenerate who live by faith contest with concupiscence and have to bear with the other burdens of living in a fallen world.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  273. Jason Loh said,

    October 26, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Pete, re#273,

    “Also, I do not think that it is accurate to say that (quoting Jason Loh) “sanctifying grace results in restoration of the situation of the *pre*-Fall Adam.” We would not be able to say that this is entirely true since the regenerate who live by faith contest with concupiscence and have to bear with the other burdens of living in a fallen world.”

    Yes, you’re right. In practice, my argument wouldn’t follow given the *post*-fall environment.

  274. October 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I just wrote a post arguing that Rom. 2:13 (“the doers of the law will be justified”) is normative rather than hypothetical. Although one can be Reformed and take this position, there are few who do. I’d be curious to hear some of your thoughts:

    http://www.creedcodecult.com/the-doers-of-the-law-will-be-justified/

  275. Pete Holter said,

    October 29, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Good morning, Jason Loh!

    You wrote,

    Ratzinger doesn’t impress me.

    The more I’ve come to know Pope Benedict through his writings since becoming pope (I’ve read next to nothing of his prepapal writings), I’ve come to love and appreciate him more and more. I hope you’ll have the same experience. I expect his next book about Jesus to be the best of the three. I hope you’ll check it out! Here is a recent thought of his that I found beautiful. It’s about evangelization and our faith becoming a flame of love that ignites our neighbor:

    “There is a passion of ours that has to grow from faith, that has to be transformed into the fire of charity. Jesus told us: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already.’ Origen handed down to us a word of the Lord: ‘Whoever is close to Me is close to fire.’ The Christian must not be lukewarm. Revelation tells us that this is the greatest danger for a Christian: not that he says no, but a very tepid yes. This tepidness really discredits Christianity. Faith must become in us the flame of love, flame that really ignites my being, becomes the great passion of my being, and so ignites my neighbor. This is the way of evangelization: ‘Accéndat ardor proximos,’ so that truth becomes charity in me and charity like fire ignites my neighbor. Only in this igniting of the other through the flame of our charity does evangelization really grow, the presence of the Gospel, which is no longer just words, but a lived reality” (B16 at the Synod of Bishops, 10/8/12).

    Also, I’ve enjoyed a number of his audiences. But my favorite so far—and one that I think everyone on this thread can appreciate—is from 11/8/06. Here are some highlights:

    “Paul states with absolute clarity that this condition of life does not depend on our possible good works but on the pure grace of God. […] Before the Cross of Christ, the extreme expression of his self-giving, there is no one who can boast of himself, of his own self-made justice, made for himself! […] [I]t is to [God] and His grace alone that we owe what we are as Christians. […] In short, we must indeed exclaim with St Paul: ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’ (Rom 8: 31). And the reply is that nothing and no one ‘will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom 8: 39). Our Christian life, therefore, stands on the soundest and safest rock one can imagine. And from it we draw all our energy, precisely as the Apostle wrote: ‘I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me’ (Phil 4: 13).”

    Amen! I hope you have a blessed day.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  276. Jason Loh said,

    October 30, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Pete, re#276,

    Actually it’s not just B16, but JPII too who doesn’t impress me. And it’s not just Vat II, it’s Vat I and Trent which do not impress me. I mean the Roman Church can affirm the pure grace of God all she wants, Roman theologians can affirms the grace of God all they want but It’s still in the abstract. I mean it’s all “on paper.” It sounds, it read very good in theology but how does that translate into reality? In practice, the pure grace of God depends on the Christian’s condition and action. It’s still grace without which there is no Christian but the Christian must do his/ her part because that is what the Scripture says and Tradition is consistent with Scripture. To quote Jason Stellman, the doers of the Law will be justified – where doing (good works) and the Law which judges (good works) are placed together as two sides of the same whole. Perhaps the tree-fruit analogy applies too?

    The Reformation shattered the legal scheme (opinio legis) because instead of grace being like finding like, grace is as Luther says in his Heidelberg Disputations, or rather grace creates that which is pleasing to it. This is the meaning of the Incarnation where God took upon Himself human flesh – like taking on unlike.

  277. Jason Loh said,

    October 30, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Jason, re#275:

    “One thing to note here is that there is no mention whatsoever of “perfect law-keeping” or “spotless obedience.” Instead what the apostle says is that there are two groups of people who will be judged on the last day according to their works. One group will receive wrath and fury because of their self-seeking and refusal to obey the truth. The other group will also be judged according to their works, but they will receive eternal life, and the reason Paul gives for this is not that they were legally perfect (either through their own or someone else’s perfect obedience), but because they patiently do good, and thereby seek for immortality. So to read this passage as though it were setting forth a covenant-of-works kind of arrangement according to which absolute perfection is demanded is to ignore what Paul says and put different words in his mouth.”

    1. Yes, and St Paul does not mention purgatory at all. Compatible with Protestantism.

    2. Yes, the goodness of God does lead the Christian to repentance. This is incompatible with Romanism but compatible with Protestantism.

    3. Yes, St Paul is being *prescriptive* here. That is, either one is bound to the Law OR the Gospel. IOW, if you follow the Law, then this is what you must do …

    4. This is why St Paul preached:

    “For circumcision indeed is of value IF you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, IF a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded[b] as circumcision?” (Romans 2:25-26)

    4. IOW, either St Paul preached justification by Law (works) *alone* OR justification by Gospel (faith ) *alone*. There is *no* middle ground; and this includes Romanism. The difference between the two is TOTAL.

  278. Jason Loh said,

    October 30, 2012 at 3:49 am

    St Paul preached justification is by faith alone apart from the deeds of the Law.

    The Pauline logic is If justification comes by the Law, Christ died for nothing.

    Good works are for neighbour; the Law is used for the neighbour, never for (the) self (-justification).

    This then is the Gospel of justification by faith alone.

  279. Pete Holter said,

    October 30, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Good morning, Jason Loh!

    You wrote,

    “It sounds, it read very good in theology but how does that translate into reality? In practice, the pure grace of God depends on the Christian’s condition and action. It’s still grace without which there is no Christian but the Christian must do his/her part because that is what the Scripture says and Tradition is consistent with Scripture.”

    It’s important for us to say that we see the “Christian’s condition and action” as themselves being the effect of grace”:

    “When Catholics say that persons ‘cooperate’ in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God’s justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities” (Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, 20).

    Also bearing on this topic, from the message I quoted from earlier:

    “[W]e cannot make the Church, we can only announce what he has done. […] [O]nly God can begin, we can only cooperate, but the beginning must come from God. […] Only God preceding makes our journey possible, our cooperation, which is always cooperation, and not entirely our own decision. Therefore, it is important to always know that the first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and only by inserting ourselves into the divine initiative, only by begging this divine initiative, will we too be able to become—with him and in him—evangelizers. God is always the beginning, and always it is only he who can make Pentecost, who can create the Church, who can show the reality of his being with us. But, on the other hand, however, this God, who is always the beginning, also wants to involve our activity, so that the activities are ‘theandric,’ so to speak, made by God, but with our involvement and implying our being, all our activity” (10/8/12).

    And again:

    “Paul, who places so much emphasis on the impossibility of justification on the basis of one’s own morality, is doubtless presupposing that this new form of Christian worship, in which Christians themselves are the ‘living and holy sacrifice’, is possible only through sharing in the incarnate love of Jesus Christ, a love that conquers all our insufficiency through the power of his holiness.

    “If, on the other hand, we should acknowledge that Paul in no way yields to moralism in this exhortation or in any sense belies his doctrine of justification through faith and not through works, it is equally clear that this doctrine of justification does not condemn man to passivity—he does not become a purely passive recipient of a divine righteousness that always remains external to him. No, the greatness of Christ’s love is revealed precisely in the fact that he takes us up into himself in all our wretchedness, into his living and holy sacrifice, so that we truly become ‘his body’ ” (Jesus of Nazareth, Volume 2, pp. 236-237).

    You said,

    “Perhaps the tree-fruit analogy applies too?”

    When Pope Benedict compares Paul with James, he actually mentions the tree and the fruit:

    “St Paul is opposed to the pride of man who thinks he does not need the love of God that precedes us; he is opposed to the pride of self-justification without grace, [grace that is] simply given and undeserved.

    “St James, instead, talks about works as the normal fruit of faith: ‘Every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit,’ the Lord says (Mt 7: 17). And St James repeats it and says it to us” (General Audience, 6/28/06).

    You wrote,

    “grace creates that which is pleasing to it”

    I like this formulation and it is certainly true. I wonder what you think of the following sentiments from our pope…

    “Let’s look at another verse: Christ, the Savior, has given Israel conversion and forgiveness of sins (v. 31)—in the Greek text the term is metanoia—he has given penance and forgiveness of sins. This for me is a very important observation: penance is a grace. There is a tendency in exegesis that says: Jesus in Galilee had announced a grace without condition, absolutely unconditional, therefore also without penance, grace as such, without human preconditions. But this is a false interpretation of grace. Penance is grace; it is a grace that we recognize our sin, it is a grace that we know we need renewal, change, a transformation of our being. Penance, being able to do penance, is the gift of grace. And I must say that we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word penance, it has seemed too harsh to us. Now, under the attacks of the world that speak to us of our sins, we see that being able to do penance is grace. And we see that it is necessary to do penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our life, open ourselves to forgiveness, prepare ourselves for forgiveness, allow ourselves to be transformed. The suffering of penance, of purification, of transformation, this suffering is grace, because it is renewal, it is the work of divine mercy. And so these two things that Saint Peter says—penance and forgiveness—correspond to the beginning of the preaching of Jesus: metanoeite, which means be converted (cf. Mk. 1:15). So this is the fundamental point: metanoia is not a private thing, which would seem to be replaced by grace, but metanoia is the arrival of the grace that transforms us” (Homily, 4/15/10).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  280. October 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    J-Loh,

    I wrote of the verses leading up to Rom. 2:13:

    One thing to note here is that there is no mention whatsoever of “perfect law-keeping” or “spotless obedience.” Instead what the apostle says is that there are two groups of people who will be judged on the last day according to their works. One group will receive wrath and fury because of their self-seeking and refusal to obey the truth. The other group will also be judged according to their works, but they will receive eternal life, and the reason Paul gives for this is not that they were legally perfect (either through their own or someone else’s perfect obedience), but because they patiently do good, and thereby seek for immortality. So to read this passage as though it were setting forth a covenant-of-works kind of arrangement according to which absolute perfection is demanded is to ignore what Paul says and put different words in his mouth.

    And you responded:

    1. Yes, and St Paul does not mention purgatory at all. Compatible with Protestantism.

    Not exactly sure what your point is here. My point is not that anything Paul failed to mention in that passage must therefore be untrue (!), but rather that the traditional Reformed interpretation of Rom. 2:13 needs Paul to have said things in vv. 6-12 that he simply didn’t say. Instead, what he said (that those who will be judged according to their works, and who patiently sought immortality by doing good, will be given eternal life) fits perfectly within the basic Catholic soteriology.

    2. Yes, the goodness of God does lead the Christian to repentance. This is incompatible with Romanism but compatible with Protestantism.

    You missed my point in bringing up repentance. If Rom. 2 is simply setting forth a covenant-of-works type of arrangement that cannot actually obtain because of sin, then Paul would not have couched the message in repentance language. In other words, what he is saying is not meant to be understood as “… but of course, none of this is possible because of the fall…” but rather as, “This message is my gospel, and it is meant to lead you to repentance.”

    3. Yes, St Paul is being *prescriptive* here. That is, either one is bound to the Law OR the Gospel. IOW, if you follow the Law, then this is what you must do …

    There you go again, reading Paul’s use of “law” with zero redemptive-historical nuance. Until you can see and appreciate the difference between the law of Moses and the law of Christ (which Paul refers to at the end of the chapter with his letter/Spirit contrast), then we’ll never get anywhere. I have pointed out to you several times, but you appear to have little interest in trying to understand Paul from my perspective (which calls into question your sincerity in these discussions).

    4. This is why St Paul preached: “For circumcision indeed is of value IF you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, IF a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded[b] as circumcision?” (Romans 2:25-26)

    The reason Paul said that was to illustrate how under the NC, Gentiles are attaining the very goal of the Mosaic law, yet they are doing it by the Spirit and circumventing Moses altogether.

    4. IOW, either St Paul preached justification by Law (works) *alone* OR justification by Gospel (faith ) *alone*. There is *no* middle ground; and this includes Romanism. The difference between the two is TOTAL.

    St Paul preached justification is by faith alone apart from the deeds of the Law.
    The Pauline logic is If justification comes by the Law, Christ died for nothing.
    Good works are for neighbour; the Law is used for the neighbour, never for (the) self (-justification).

    This then is the Gospel of justification by faith alone.

    All you’re doing is table-pounding here, restating your position without arguing for it (as if I don’t know what justification by faith alone is, and if you just say it more loudly and more often, I will eventually agree with you).

    When you have an actual exegetical argument that refutes (or even engages) my exposition of Rom. 2, then please stop by CreedCodeCult and present it. But until then, I’m having a hard time seeing the point of this discussion.

  281. Bob S said,

    October 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    281 tells us that:

    I wrote of the verses leading up to Rom. 2:13:

    One thing to note here is that there is no mention whatsoever of “perfect law-keeping” or “spotless obedience.” Instead what the apostle says is that there are two groups of people who will be judged on the last day according to their works. One group will receive wrath and fury because of their self-seeking and refusal to obey the truth. The other group will also be judged according to their works, but they will receive eternal life, and the reason Paul gives for this is not that they were legally perfect (either through their own or someone else’s perfect obedience), but because they patiently do good, and thereby seek for immortality. So to read this passage as though it were setting forth a covenant-of-works kind of arrangement according to which absolute perfection is demanded is to ignore what Paul says and put different words in his mouth.(emph. added)

    Different? Words? Like Rom. 3:19,20? You know. Where it says:

    Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    Finally we are told:

    When you have an actual exegetical argument that refutes (or even engages) my exposition of Rom. 2, then please stop by CreedCodeCult and present it. But until then, I’m having a hard time seeing the point of this discussion.

    Uh, me too. Neither did I see any engagement with Rom. 3:19,20.

    Yet, if the Dutch are supposed to have a saying: “Elke ketter heeft zijn letter” or “Every heretic has his text”, so too the gloss in broad strokes of the law in Rom. 2 in order to put over the Roman case for justification by faithful works.

    But Scripture cannot be broken Jn. 10:35. And Sola Scriptura includes Total Scriptura, as well the fact that Scripture interprets Scripture according to the analogy of Scripture/faith. Therefore Rom. 3:19,20 again.

    Likewise it goes without saying that I also look forward to having these objections definitively answered by being completely ignored on the part of the party responsible for provoking them.

    IOW as that good old Dutchman Harry Vrooman once said: If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

  282. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Jason, re#281,

    “Not exactly sure what your point is here. My point is not that anything Paul failed to mention in that passage must therefore be untrue (!), but rather that the traditional Reformed interpretation of Rom. 2:13 needs Paul to have said things in vv. 6-12 that he simply didn’t say. Instead, what he said (that those who will be judged according to their works, and who patiently sought immortality by doing good, will be given eternal life) fits perfectly within the basic Catholic soteriology.”

    My point is simple. We just can’t find Roman soteriology in Romans 2. Purgatory? None. The distinction between habitual and actual grace? None. The distinction between initial and final justification? None.

    Instead what we have is a clear-cut distinction between Law and Gospel. The problem with Romanism is that it wants to mix the two. But Paul is clear.

    “For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have *sinned* in the law shall be judged by the LAW…” (Romans 2:11-12)

    IOW, the Law claims our whole person, not just our works. Therefore, Paul knows NOTHING of the Roman system of forgiveness of sins and removal of stain by grace but good works according to the Law.

    Dont forget it’s Paul we’re talking here. Paul was a Pharisee who had two PhDs by the time he was in his 20s. So, he well knows what the Law is and what the Law requires, no thank you to Roman theology.

  283. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 12:16 am

    On traditional Reformed soteriology, even if it’s mistaken on the covenant of works (which as a Lutheran I do not hold to at all), it doesn’t mean that “by default” the Roman interpretation/ paradigm is the right one.

  284. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 12:21 am

    “You missed my point in bringing up repentance. If Rom. 2 is simply setting forth a covenant-of-works type of arrangement that cannot actually obtain because of sin, then Paul would not have couched the message in repentance language. In other words, what he is saying is not meant to be understood as “… but of course, none of this is possible because of the fall…” but rather as, “This message is my gospel, and it is meant to lead you to repentance.”

    Yes, I think I did (as a Lutheran). But your logic is/ seems to be that if the Reformed is wrong on the covenant of works, then the Reformed is also wrong on justification by faith. Not necessarily so since, as you well know, the Reformed conception of justification by faith is rooted in a different covenant.

    And of course the goodness of God that leads to repentance as cause and effect fits well with Reformed (and Lutheran) soteriology, at the very least to those who are keen on divine omnipotence found in Luther and Calvin.

  285. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 12:49 am

    “There you go again, reading Paul’s use of “law” with zero redemptive-historical nuance. Until you can see and appreciate the difference between the law of Moses and the law of Christ (which Paul refers to at the end of the chapter with his letter/Spirit contrast), then we’ll never get anywhere. I have pointed out to you several times, but you appear to have little interest in trying to understand Paul from my perspective (which calls into question your sincerity in these discussions).”

    Yes, as a Lutheran, the Law is “general”/ “universal”. Mosaic Law was a time-and-space bound expression of the Law. This then is the relation between Law in general and Law in its historical, context-specific dimension. Thus, my understanding of the 10 Commandments is that these were BOTH general and particular – in their application. General in terms of the 2nd use of the Law; particular in terms of the 1st use of the Law.

    Hence, re the 2nd use of the Law, each of the 10 Commandments strike at Original Sin/ Self both in relation to the 1st *and* 2nd Tables.

    But your approach is to see the Law coram Deo as information relating to self-knowledge. My approach is that the Law always accuses. That is the function of the Law coram Deo.

    To quote from Bob in his quotation of Romans 3:19-20 , re #282:

    “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

  286. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 1:31 am

    “The reason Paul said that was to illustrate how under the NC, Gentiles are attaining the very goal of the Mosaic law, yet they are doing it by the Spirit and circumventing Moses altogether.”

    The text in question is:
    “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?”

    To keep the Law is precisely to keep the Law in its “entirety”. IOW, one keep the Law by NOT breaking the Law. This is clear from verse 25. The implication is clear. If one breaks “any part” of the Law, then one does not keep the Law but is judged by the (same) Law.

    Hence we read earlier on in verses 21-23:

    “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?”

    Or even earlier:

    “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”

    “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?”

    St Paul is speaking as an ex-Pharisee. He knows the Law better than any Roman theologian. He knows how the Jews think; he knows how the Pharisees (that reject the Messiah) thinks.

    Thus, keeping the Law does require sinless perfection – contrary to Jason Stellman’s argument. It requires not breaking the Law at at all, at any moment and place.

  287. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 1:53 am

    IOW, it is NOT enough to do good works according to the Law, one must also not break the Law. The Law is TOTAL. It is either fulfilled or not fulfilled.

    100% conformity.

    Thus, there is no distinction between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ in terms of SELF-justification (i.e. justified in ourselves as in the Roman system).

    “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the DOERS of the law shall be justified.” No distinction.

    “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?” No distinction.

    The only distinction between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ is the distinction between the Law ahead of us and the Law behind us, respectively.

    The Law of Moses demands, and it is never fulfilled (at all). For when the Law says don’t commit adultery, the Law ALSO says thou shalt have no other gods and do not covet one at the same time. IOW, the Law basically says thou shalt the love the Lord thy God and thy neighbour as thyself all the time.

    The Law of Christ is the Law of Moses fulfilled coram Deo. Only then can one proceed with imperfect keeping of the Law *coram mundo* – for the sake of the neighbour – the sphere of civil righteousness, where progress is measured by steps … here and there …

  288. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 2:20 am

    “All you’re doing is table-pounding here, restating your position without arguing for it (as if I don’t know what justification by faith alone is, and if you just say it more loudly and more often, I will eventually agree with you).

    When you have an actual exegetical argument that refutes (or even engages) my exposition of Rom. 2, then please stop by CreedCodeCult and present it. But until then, I’m having a hard time seeing the point of this discussion.”

    Yes, I’m doing that too. But that is because Paul is clear on justification by faith alone apart from the deeds of the Law.

    1. The Law/Law distinction (of the Roman paradigm) cannot be found anywhere in Romans 2 (and the rest of the Pauline corpus). Not only does Paul speak of one Law without any dispensation in mind, he emphatically equates the Law of the OT (circumcision) with the Law of the NT (uncircumcision).

    2. Sinless perfection is required to keep the Law. This is because not only is there one Law, but that in breaking the Law, one cannot then keep the Law at all. IOW, one keep the Law entirely/ wholly or not at all.

    “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and *circumcision* is that of the *heart*, in the *spirit*, and not in the letter; whose praise is *not* of men, but of God” (Romans 2:29). IOW, circumcision is linked here to the BE-ing of the Christian – not Do-ing. Total status/state.

  289. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 3:48 am

    If I may, let me post Romans 2:6-10 which says …

    “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile …”

    1. In Romans 2, Paul directly addressed the (unconverted) Jew rather than the (Christian) Gentile. IOW, the context. Paul “begins” by laying out the full implications of keeping the Law. IOW, Paul is pressing the logic of keeping the Law to its ultimate conclusion. Hence, he is being “prescriptive.” But Paul is not confusing Law with Gospel. The prescription for the Law is not the same as the prescription for the Gospel. IOW, the Law does not work the same way as the Gospel. In fact, both are opposites/antitheses.

    2. If one claims to keep the Law, such and such is the process and outcome. The one keeping the Law is to patiently continue in well- doing with glory, honour and immortality/ eternal life as the reward. Thus, the judgment of God according to the LAW is as per verses 6-13.

    3. The Protestant and Romanist can agree indeed that the Lord will render to every human according to his/her deeds. The big/ unbridgeable disagreement lies in whether Christians are to be *justified* according to the Law.

    4. According to Paul, it is impossible to be justified by the Law. For although one knows what the Law SAYS (“the doers of the law shall be justified”), one does not know that it is impossible to keep the Law. That is, knowledge of the Law *says* does not mean knowledge of what the Law actually DOES. Hence, verses 17-29. And hence Romans 3 and 4.

    5. The distinction between what the Law says and does is the distinction between having a preacher and not having a preacher. Without a preacher, the human only knows WHAT the Law demands BUT doesn’t know that he/she HOW Law demands. The Law demands by claiming all of us.

  290. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Romans 2: 14-16 –

    “FOR when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my GOSPEL.”

    1. The Gentiles do what the Law says in their hearts (requirement of the Law). This Law also ACCUSES them and used for self-justification.

    2. This Law is the SAME Law as the Law Paul had outlined earlier in verses 6-13. IOW, what applies to circumcised JEW applies equally as well to the uncircumcised GENTILE. Verses 10-11 read: “But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.” IOW, justification by the works of the Law is the same for ALL. Ergo, Paul does not have in mind the GOSPEL when he preached against the Jew in verses 1-13. but *only* the LAW.

    3. It is only in light of the GOSPEL that the *ultimate* purpose of the Law is revealed. (This takes place in preaching or proclamation). Hence Romans 3 and 4.

  291. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Jason says that the difference between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ is the Spirit. And thus, NC Christians are enabled to obey and keep the Law coram Deo.

    But using the Law for self-justification is contrary to the Law (in its ultimate purpose). For the Law is summed up as loving God as He *is* and loving our neighbour *as* ourselves. IOW, the Law and SELF-love/ self interest do not mix. By being justified by faith alone, we are FREE to love God as He *is* and love our neighbours *as* ourselves.

  292. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Romans 2:7 –

    “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life …”

    Here one does not seek self-glory, self-honour and immortality as the *motive* for doing good works. Rather BY doing good works, one evinces/ shows that one is *seeking* glory, honour and immortality (indirectly). IOW, self-glory, self-honour and immortality comes at the END of doing good works, i.e. as effect.

    This contrasts with “by seeking glory, honour and immortality FOR the continuance in well doing.” IOW, these come at the START or become the *basis* for doing good works (directly), i.e. as cause.

    Obviously/ it goes without saying that ALL three things that Paul mentions do not take place during the lifetime of doing good works.

    Thus, either with or without the preacher, one does not do good works or keep the Law out of SELF but for others in keeping loving God as He is and loving our neighbours as ourselves.

  293. Jason Loh said,

    October 31, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Jason Stellman appeals to the flesh-Spirit dichotomy in Romans 8 in support of the Law/Law distinction.

    1. But Paul says “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me FREE from the law of *sin* and *death.” This is a TOTAL status/state which means Law-Gospel distinction (which means no purgatory).

    2. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” No distinction between venial and mortal sin. Which means the distinction between the flesh and Spirit is total. Thus, no inherent justification and no purgatory.

    3. Romans 8;28-30 – The Golden Chain of Salvation. No purgatory in between but glorification comes after justification. Or if one can agree with Luther, we receive the “whole of salvation” all at once. Reformed or Lutheran, salvation does not depend on synergy.


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