De Chirico’s Assessment of Berkouwer

Chapter 2 of Leonardo De Chirico’s book Evangelical Theological Perspectives on post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism (which I regard as the single most important Reformed work on Catholicism published since Vatican II) deals with various treatments of Roman Catholicism pre- and post-Vatican II.

The first theologian De Chirico treats is G. C. Berkouwer. Berkouwer wrote three books on Roman Catholicism, two of them before V2 and one after. De Chirico’s overall assessment comes at the end of the section: “Berkouwer’s studies on Roman Catholicism enrich Evangelical theology in terms of providing a model of serious scholarship, fair interpretation of Roman Catholic sources, and passionate concern for the Gospel’s sake” (65). Berkouwer recognizes at least one of the two pillars of Roman Catholicism that De Chirico mentions: the self-understanding of the Roman Catholic Church as an extension of the incarnation of Christ. For De Chirico, this seems to be the main reason why he describes Berkouwer’s work as a fair interpretation.

At the forefront of Berkouwer’s work, especially in the volume written after V2, is the discussion of continuity and discontinuity. This question became quite acute, given that many people thought of V2 (and many people still think today) as ushering in great changes. De Chirico quotes Berkouwer’s description of the semper eadem (“always the same”) as “no more seen in isolation but correlated in Roman Catholic fashion to the ever changing tempora” (61). It is unchangeability within all the variations of history. I could be wrong, but this sounds quite a bit like what Newman describes more simply as development of doctrine. After all, what promotes this development if not the historical circumstances? As De Chirico himself says elsewhere, the proper interpretation of V2, when seen within a Newmanesque viewpoint, is that the Roman Catholic Church did not change at all at V2: the RCC has always had the additive impulse.

To use a specific example of how the RCC is continuous while developing, the assertion of vestigia ecclesiae (remnants of the church) in bodies outside the RCC still assumes the unica ecclesia (62). This leaves the real ecclesiological problem untouched. After all, vestigial churches are not the same thing as the church. This must qualify our interpretation of the infamous “separated brethren” phrases in the V2 documents. In fact, this admittedly new way of speaking about non-RC folk doesn’t even (supposedly) contradict the dictum of Cyprian: extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the church no salvation). Instead, there is a “narrow” and a “broad” view of what constitutes the church. The fact of the matter is this: if one starts with Newman’s development of doctrine standpoint, there will be no contradiction between pre-V2 and post-V2. If one does not hold to the Newman development of doctrine, there will be contradictions. The Nouvelle Theologie fully embraced Newman, and this is why JPII and Benedict can assert continuity within renewal.

To end with an aside, my problem with Newman is that he doesn’t seem to distinguish between two different kinds of development. One kind of development comes from the logical inferences that are based on the texts themselves. This may be called “good and necessary consequence.” The doctrine of the Trinity is surely the prime example of this. The Bible tells us that the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and that there is only one God. We have to have some way of describing these facts, and the church logically came up with the Trinity. However, a second and different kind of development happens when the church looks at, say the virgin conception of Jesus (which, by the way, is a more accurate description of what happened than “virgin birth” if you think about it), which is explicit and logically derived, and then, based on a particular view of what sex could and could not do to Mary, proclaims that Mary was a perpetual virgin, despite the substantial biblical case that can be made against the position. There is no biblical evidence that Mary was a perpetual virgin, and it is certainly not logically derivable from the biblical texts. To me, these two cases are vastly different, because one is based on logical inference from the text, and the other is based on logical inferences from tradition that have no basis in the text.

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94 Comments

  1. January 30, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Lane,

    You mentioned a problem that you have with Newman, i.e. that he (in your view) fails to distinguish between Scriptural and non-Scriptural development. Here’s a relevant quotation from his Development of Christian Doctrine, which addresses that problem:

    “2. Again, if Christianity be an universal religion, suited not simply to one locality or period, but to all times and places, it cannot but vary in its relations and dealings towards the world around it, that is, it will develop. Principles require a very various application according as persons and circumstances vary, and must be thrown into new shapes according to the form of society which they are to influence. Hence all bodies of Christians, orthodox or not, develop the doctrines of Scripture. Few but will grant that Luther’s view of justification had never been stated in words before his time: that his phraseology and his positions were novel, whether called for by circumstances or not. It is equally certain that the doctrine of justification defined at Trent was, in some sense, new also. The refutation and remedy of errors cannot precede their rise; and thus the fact of false developments or corruptions involves the correspondent manifestation of true ones. Moreover, all parties appeal to Scripture, that is, argue from Scripture; but argument implies deduction, that is, development. Here there is no difference between early times and late, between a Pope ex cathedrâ and an individual Protestant, except that their authority is not on a par. On either side the claim of authority is the same, and the process of development.

    Accordingly, the common complaint of Protestants against the Church of Rome is, not simply that she has added to the primitive or the Scriptural doctrine, (for this they do themselves,) but that she contradicts it, and moreover imposes her additions as fundamental truths under sanction of an anathema. For themselves they deduce by quite as subtle a method, and act upon doctrines as implicit and on reasons as little analyzed in time past, as Catholic schoolmen. What prominence has the Royal Supremacy in the New {59} Testament, or the lawfulness of bearing arms, or the duty of public worship, or the substitution of the first day of the week for the seventh, or infant baptism, to say nothing of the fundamental principle that the Bible and the Bible only is the religion of Protestants? These doctrines and usages, true or not, which is not the question here, are surely not gained by the direct use and immediate application of Scripture, nor by a mere exercise of argument upon words and sentences placed before the eyes, but by the unconscious growth of ideas suggested by the letter and habitual to the mind.

    4.

    3. And, indeed, when we turn to the consideration of particular doctrines on which Scripture lays the greatest stress, we shall see that it is absolutely impossible for them to remain in the mere letter of Scripture, if they are to be more than mere words, and to convey a definite idea to the recipient. When it is declared that “the Word became flesh,” three wide questions open upon us on the very announcement. What is meant by “the Word,” what by “flesh,” what by “became”? The answers to these involve a process of investigation, and are developments. Moreover, when they have been made, they will suggest a series of secondary questions; and thus at length a multitude of propositions is the result, which gather round the inspired sentence of which they come, giving it externally the form of a doctrine, and creating or deepening the idea of it in the mind.

    It is true that, so far as such statements of Scripture are mysteries, they are relatively to us but words, and cannot be developed. But as a mystery implies in part what is incomprehensible or at least unknown, so does it in part imply what is not so; it implies a partial manifestation; or a representation by economy. Because then {60} it is in a measure understood, it can so far be developed, though each result in the process will partake of the dimness and confusion of the original impression.

    5.

    4. This moreover should be considered,—that great questions exist in the subject-matter of which Scripture treats, which Scripture does not solve; questions too so real, so practical, that they must be answered, and, unless we suppose a new revelation, answered by means of the revelation which we have, that is, by development. Such is the question of the Canon of Scripture and its inspiration: that is, whether Christianity depends upon a written document as Judaism;—if so, on what writings and how many;—whether that document is self-interpreting, or requires a comment, and whether any authoritative comment or commentator is provided;—whether the revelation and the document are commensurate, or the one outruns the other;—all these questions surely find no solution on the surface of Scripture, nor indeed under the surface in the case of most men, however long and diligent might be their study of it. Nor were these difficulties settled by authority, as far as we know, at the commencement of the religion; yet surely it is quite conceivable that an Apostle might have dissipated them all in a few words, had Divine Wisdom thought fit. But in matter of fact the decision has been left to time, to the slow process of thought, to the influence of mind upon mind, the issues of controversy, and the growth of opinion.”

  2. Dennis said,

    January 31, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Lane,

    I haven’t read these books so can’t offer any opinion on them. Nice review though.

    There is no biblical evidence that Mary was a perpetual virgin, and it is certainly not logically derivable from the biblical texts.

    From a Catholic perspective, I think Mary’s perpetual virginity can be derived from the text—albeit subtly.

    In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:26-34)

    So, reading the text, the angel Gabriel appears and announces to a woman who is betrothed to a man, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son…” and her response is, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”

    A normal woman who is betrothed to a man hears, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son…” would automatically assume that God means the old fashioned way. i.e. if God appeared to you and told you, “you will have a child.” Your assumption would be with your wife conceived the way every other child is conceived.

    Mary’s response is different. Gabriel comes to her and says, “You will conceive and bear a son” and her assumption is “How?”

    A Catholic can reasonably argue that Mary’s intention is to always be a virgin and that she was consecrated a virgin in the charge of Joseph who was likely an older gentleman—a widower who already had children from a previous marriage.

    This is really the only way the text makes sense and is consistent with the rest of Scripture.

  3. Don said,

    February 1, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Dennis #2,
    Your “subtle” reading of the Luke 1 text seems to hinge on the idea that Mary was already intending to be a perpetual virgin while still planning to marry someone. This seems implausible if not blatantly self-contradictory: if virginity were the goal, why would the relationship be described as betrothal (and, eventually, marriage)? Further, your speculation about Joseph’s lack of interest in marital relations does not follow from your speculation about his age.

    To rephrase it as a positive question, is there any evidence in Second Temple Judaism that perpetual virginity was ever a desired goal, and that it was found in a relationship described as marriage?

  4. Dennis said,

    February 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Don #3,

    Regarding perpetual virginity, St. Ambrose mentions the existence of Temple Virgins (Concerning Virgins, Book 1, Chapter 3, Paragraph 12). Also, Josephus mentions the existence of Virgins.

    Regarding the relationship described as marriage, both the Orthodox and Catholic Church which date back to antiquity hold the perpetual virginity of Mary. I don’t know of any other evidence but then again, I don’t have any other evidence of a virgin birth as well.

    The speculation of Joseph’s age and children is an Eastern Orthodox tradition. The Catholic Church doesn’t make any declarations but holds it as plausible–only that Mary was a perpetual virgin.

    Jesus having brothers and sisters also creates dilemmas from a different perspective. I don’t know how many children you have or if you have brothers and sisters but a mother would declare that she loves them all equally.

    With Mary, that couldn’t be the case. If she had one child who was God and another child who was not, then that would cause serious problems within the family as she would love one child far greater than the other. This would build resentment and animosity both toward Mary and Jesus.

    Logically, it makes less sense for Mary to have other children.

  5. Don said,

    February 1, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Dennis #4,
    St. Ambrose is rather too late to say anything about Mary’s time, but Josephus is interesting. What did he mention about virgins?

    But your concern about Mary’s unequal love for her children appears to me to be a complete non sequitur. As far as I know, she loved them equally as her children, but Jesus more as her Lord. But if not, who cares? Either way, it does look like there was some resentment implied in John 7:3-5. But that doesn’t say anything about Mary, her virginity, or her mothering skills.

  6. Bob S said,

    February 4, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    The incarnational aspect is a good hit for De Chirico, but I am still having a hard time swallowing $60 for his book.

    I would have said the essence of Romanism is externalism contra Rom 2:28,29 (as it also is for the FV, hence the similarities). There’s no doubt that the external is important, that Christ came in the flesh; that we will all be judged for what we did in the flesh, etc. etc. but at the expense of the spirit and the spiritual? The sacraments are not signs, but the thing signified? Nah, that’s one bridge too far.

    As per Newman, Romanism denies G&N consequences, so all we are left with is the vague “development of doctrine” schtick which boils down to whatever the pope cares to suck out of his thumb ex cathedra becomes the gospel truth. But Dennis can’t get perpetual virginity of Mary unless he brings something to the text which is a no no in some circles. Obviously not it all.

    Speaking of books, any recs on the history of the Jesuits?
    Or is anybody familiar with Andrew Willet’s Synopsis Papismi or Tetrastylon Papisticum?

    Thanks.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    February 5, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Yes, Bob, the book is expensive. Maybe some used copies can be obtained for less than the cost of it new. For me, it was worth every single penny. It is quite simply the best book on Roman Catholicism from a Reformed perspective that I have yet seen.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    February 5, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Dennis, do those examples of perpetual virginity also include marriage within the purview? If not, then they are not examples that are similar to Mary’s situation at all. Joseph’s age cannot be inferred or assumed from the text of Scripture. Yes, he disappears from Scripture rather early, but then the life expectancy of people in those days was rather low. I also agree with Don, that lack of interest in marital intimacy cannot be inferred from old age, even if we were to grant that point that Joseph was old. There is certainly no evidence whatsoever that Joseph was married before and had other children. This whole case of yours is based entirely on speculation.

  9. Dennis said,

    February 10, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Lane,

    My apologies for the delays in the response. I’ve been out of town working/on vacation.

    I obviously believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity as that is the historical view of the Catholic (and Orthodox) Church. If I were not Catholic, perhaps it would be harder to accept; so I can understand your perspective.

    Regardless of Scripture, logic can still lead me to the conclusion of Mary’s perpetual virginity.

    After Jesus was born, Mary–who knew He was the Son of God–would have to commit her entire life to her Son. She would have to as He was God…and she knew it. Joseph would commit his entire life supporting his wife and Son as Mary would have explained Jesus’ role.

    Having other children would take her focus…her gaze off of God which logically doesn’t make sense as her Son is God. Her entire life would be devoted to caring for Him.

    And Joseph’s role would be caring for both of them.

    I know that this is not the traditional view of marriage and family but I think we can agree that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is a unique family in the history of the world as Jesus is the central role in that family as opposed to the father or the mother.

    Putting it in other terms, if you were to give birth to God…would you have time for anything else? How would you react to that news? Would you change your life to revolve around your new Son?

    I think the answer would be yes.

  10. Don said,

    February 11, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Dennis 10,
    I’ll match your speculations for the opposite one: If one of your children were sinless, wouldn’t it be easier to have an extra kid or two? Parenting would be a whole lot easier if you knew that one child was never the problem.

    Having other children would take her focus…her gaze off of God which logically doesn’t make sense

    This would be kind of plausible if not for the fact that she and Joseph LOST JESUS FOR HALF A WEEK. Granted, he was twelve, and he seemed to take care of himself fine. But the fact that Mary and Joseph didn’t comprehend what Jesus was saying in Luke 2:49 suggests that your description of the family, or of the parents’ understanding, is a little more idealized than the reality was.

    Anyway, I’d still be interested in your Josephus reference.

  11. Dennis said,

    February 11, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Don,

    I may have to stand corrected on the Josephus reference. I used a blog that references Josephus as my reference here:

    http://taylormarshall.com/2011/11/true-presentation-of-virgin-mary.html

    But later on, Jimmy Akin challenged him and he was not able to find it here:

    http://taylormarshall.com/2011/12/did-jewish-temple-virgins-exist-and-was.html

    Dr. Marshall does point out other Scriptural references that point to Temple Virgins.

    I was able to reference St. Ambrose and he does mention a reference from something. So, he’s referring to a writing from somewhere that may have been lost.

    If one of your children were sinless, wouldn’t it be easier to have an extra kid or two? Parenting would be a whole lot easier if you knew that one child was never the problem.

    On the contrary, I believe that having a sinless child would build enmity toward the sinless child. The imperfect child would be constantly compared to the perfect One and could not live up to the standard of his older brother.

    This would create rivalry and resentment as one son is being treated as if He is God and the other son a mere created being.

    This would be kind of plausible if not for the fact that she and Joseph LOST JESUS FOR HALF A WEEK. Granted, he was twelve, and he seemed to take care of himself fine. But the fact that Mary and Joseph didn’t comprehend what Jesus was saying in Luke 2:49 suggests that your description of the family, or of the parents’ understanding, is a little more idealized than the reality was.

    Well, the way I understand it is that men and women were separated in the caravan. Historically, the children would travel with their mothers. However, at age 12, Mary thought He was at the age where He would travel with Joseph and Joseph thought He would still be with Mary and thus the confusion as to why He was lost.

    In order to understand Luke 2, you need to put yourself in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. So, Mary has lost her son. She doesn’t know where He is and probably fears the worst.

    She believes that her Son is dead. And after three days, she finds Him and He explains that He was doing His Father’s will.

    So, at the feast of the Passover, Jesus goes to Jerusalem where Mary loses Him and fears that He has died only to find Him–with presumably great joy–doing His Father’s will.

    What Mary doesn’t understand at the time is that Jesus is preparing her. She keeps what she learns in her heart as it prepares her for the future. For the time they are in Jerusalem for the Passover and she loses Him again and she can have the faith necessary that she will find Him on the third day.

  12. Don said,

    February 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Dennis 11,

    On the contrary, I believe that having a sinless child would build enmity toward the sinless child. The imperfect child would be constantly compared to the perfect One and could not live up to the standard of his older brother.

    Quite likely! But this says nothing about the potential existence of an imperfect child. Even if they were Joseph’s children by another marriage, there were still some youths in this situation.

    Thanks for the reference to the Marshall blog. The second post has a few contemporary references (2 Baruch and 2 Maccabees) on the idea of temple virgins, the others are not particularly useful. However, it seems that any identification of Mary as one of these temple virgins is speculation with no historical grounding, except for traditions removed by centuries.

    Marshall says that the tradition of temple virgins is that they are supposed to leave the temple and marry at age 14. If Mary was following this track by becoming betrothed, it seems to me to be a greater insult to say that she was entering a sham marriage, than to elevate her to some sort of ideal of perpetual virginity.

  13. Dennis said,

    February 11, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Don,

    I can agree that it is speculation. Again, I believe it because it is Catholic Church Tradition. If I were to be Protestant, I would understand the reservations to it.

    To me, it fits. yes, I see that Scripture refers to Jesus’ “brothers” but they never refer to any of them as Mary’s sons.

    Additionally, if she had many sons, Jesus wouldn’t need to give her to John to take her into his home at Jesus’ death (John 19:26). The other sons would have cared for her.

    I don’t see it as a “sham marriage.” Joseph was planning on divorcing Mary quietly but God spoke to him in a dream and told him to not be afraid and to take her into his home.

    Logically, it’s plausible, Scripture does allude to it and overall, Mary’s perpetual virginity doesn’t conflict with Scripture.

  14. greenbaggins said,

    February 15, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    The biggest problem I have with perpetual virginity is the idea that her having sexual relations with her husband would somehow impair her piety or purity. A relationship between a man and a woman that does not have a sexual component but is called by the name of marriage is not actually marriage at all. Genesis 2 explicitly tells us that marriage is leaving and cleaving, and that there is a one flesh relationship in marriage that most definitely includes (though is not limited to) the sexual component. Sex is, in fact, commanded of married people in the command to multiply and fill the earth. Joseph was explicitly told not to fear to “take her as his wife.” That language of taking as wife includes within it the sexual component. Mary was never married to Joseph at all if there was no sexual component. Roman Catholicism actually implicitly recognizes this point (at least partially) when it grants an anullment of a marriage on the basis of there having been no consummation. Not only is there no need for the doctrine of perpetual virginity, but I think it says some pretty wrong things about marriage and sex as well.

    Also, I simply don’t buy the enmity argument. You’re leaving out entirely the possibility that Jesus might possibly have been able to handle His siblings in such a way that they didn’t inherently want to murder Him. You leave out Jesus’ power.

  15. Dennis said,

    February 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Lane,

    There are many things in Scripture that I don’t understand. Thinking about a man rising from the dead (let alone the many who rose after His death in Matthew 27:52). Trying to understand a man walking on water boggles my mind.

    Mary’s perpetual virginity is something I take on faith because the Catholic Church teaches it. It’s historicaly taught it since the beginning.

    I understand your reservations and quite honestly don’t have a response as it’s something that I accept in faith.

    Mary’s relationship with the Trinity is unique. She is quite simply the greatest creature ever. She is daughter daughter to the Father, spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother to the Son.

    As we are one with Christ, we can claim her to be our mother as we are also at the foot of the cross with John, Jesus’ direction to “behold your mother” goes out to all faithful believers.

  16. Bob S said,

    February 15, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    15. The difference Dennis, is whether or not something is clearly taught in Scripture. Or by the Roman church.
    It’s a big difference and plain enough to see for those with the eyes God gave them.

  17. Dennis said,

    February 15, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Bob 16,

    I guess it all depends on what your authority is. I obviously don’t adhere to Sola Scriptura as it’s not in Scripture and it’s not taught anywhere until the 16th century.

    My authority is the Church. The Church teaches Mary’s perpetual virginity and has taught it since its beginning. For me to believe otherwise is to make myself the authority. It makes me pope and I’m not ready for that.

  18. Don said,

    February 15, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Dennis 17,

    For me to believe otherwise is to make myself the authority.

    A reasonable argument so far, and then

    It makes me pope

    Well that escalated quickly.

  19. Bob S said,

    February 16, 2014 at 1:38 am

    17 Dennis,
    Again if you can’t see it in Scripture it must not be there.
    Maybe kind of like the child that thinks its mother can’t see them because they have their hands over their eyes.
    As to how you know that SS is not taught in Scripture and not taught until the 16th century, don’t tell me. That’s what the priests and the sisters told you, right?

     But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matt. 4:4

     It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. John 6:45

    But then again, Jesus also said “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44

    No draw, no raise, no taught of God or his Word – though taught by Rome. That is not an enviable position. You are more than welcome to it.

    pax

  20. Dennis said,

    February 16, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Bob,

    Well, again, I don’t see SS in Scripture so it must not be there.

    We have different authorities. Mine is the Catholic Church and yours is Scripture–or more accurately your interpretation of Scripture.

    It’s interesting that you quote John 6:45 for it says, that we must listen to the Father and learn from Him. The people who heard this heard God and walked away because they couldn’t accept what Christ said.

    We need to listen to God’s word and learn what He says. In order to learn, we must be taught. It’s not “listen to God’s word and discern what it says” It’s to learn. There is a teaching that needs to be taught. The Apostles were left to teach what Christ taught them.

    To hear the Church’s teachings and reject them because we “know better” is akin to the people in John 6:66 hearing God’s word and rejecting it and walking away back to their way of life because they know better.

    Peter’s response to Jesus is correct. It’s my response when the Church says something…”to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-68)

  21. rooney said,

    February 16, 2014 at 6:18 am

    No one answered my question from the other article, so I will post it here:

    Are papal electing methods (ie. Papal elections) infallible?

    Thanks.

  22. Bob S said,

    February 16, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    20 As before so many times in these “discussions”, there are none so blind as those who say they can see.
    IOW Dennis, nice shift of emphasis there.
    Jn.6:45 refers to the necessity of the God drawing, if not also teaching someone by the Spirit and just as obviously Peter doesn’t say in 6:67 that we should go to the church, but to . . . Christ. And all of this is no where else to be found but in the . . . . Bible. Which is the Word of Christ written in its entirety and not just what’s in red letters.

    Nevertheless as per the original post De Chirico says that the Roman Catholic Church understands itself as an extension of the incarnation of Christ.

    Good question, Rooney. Just how do fallible men elect an infallible leader? Do the fallible cardinals infallibly know who to elect?
    Can the stream rise higher than the spring?
    Hmmm.

  23. Dennis said,

    February 16, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Bob,

    What John 6 is referring to is the Eucharist. What Jesus is telling us is that He will draw all men to Him. As He draws all men to Him, they will learn from Him. They will learn to love their God, love their neighbor and love their enemies. They will learn to love all men and share God’s love with all.

    And they will eat His Body. And they will have life.

    The Church is the Incarnation of Christ because at the center of the Church is the Eucharist. At mass, we are all drawn together to the one point in time. We are all brought to Calvary so that we can all partake in the one sacrifice and we can have eternal life.

    You’re calling me blind and yet you’ve twisted John 6 to fit into your paradigm without truly understanding it.

    I’m not shifting the emphasis. I’m explaining to you that we need to learn. We need to be drawn to God and we need to be docile to His Holy Spirit so that we can be taught.

    To think we know better is pride.

  24. Dennis said,

    February 16, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    One other item. The selection of the Pope is as trustworthy as when the Apostles drew lots and selected Matthias to be the successor of Judas. (Acts 1:15-26). If I can trust in that selection, I can trust in the selection of Pope Francis.

  25. Bob S said,

    February 17, 2014 at 1:21 am

    23. Been there done that, Dennis.
    As in what then does your paradigm make of all the references to believing in Jn. 6 preliminary to verse 45, much more in 6:35 tying believing to hunger and thirst?
    That, not to mention the Lord’s Supper was not introduced as of yet.

    John 6:29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

    John 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
    36  But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and b>believe not.

    John 6:40  And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    The Roman explanation sounds plausible and makes some kind of sense – as long as we pay more attention to it than Scripture. But then, game over.

    See for instance, Stellman’s efforts to try to get Romans to teach that lawkeeping is part of justification, by concentrating on the hypothetical of Rom. 2 and then ignoring Rom. 3, contra WCF1:9 (2 Pet.1:20, Act 15:15) which as an ex presbyterian he also has to be aware.

    24. And if Mathias replaces Judas, what of Paul? Is he the thirteenth of twelve apostles?

  26. rooney said,

    February 17, 2014 at 4:05 am

    So looks like Papal elections are not infallible?

  27. greenbaggins said,

    February 17, 2014 at 11:10 am

    They can’t be infallible in all of history. The Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy certainly proves that. There are also problems with the location of tradition. The best description I have gotten from RCC’s about where it is located is the metaphor that it is the lifeblood of the church. The question then becomes this: how can one infallibly tell what is of the tradition and what is not? How can you avoid a fallible perception of what an infallible tradition is? Roman Catholics disagree on what is part of the tradition.

  28. Dennis said,

    February 17, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Infallibility is in regards to the teachings of the Church. Not necessarily in selection. I can trust in the selection as the Holy Spirit guides the Magisterium in choosing the Pope’s Successor. Not that the previous pontiffs have all been saints. Some have definitely been men of questionable repute.

    But in regards to the teachings…about the Church, we can trust in their infallibility. i.e. the Pope isn’t going to come out and teach something that’s contrary to traditional Church teaching.

    Papal elections are not “teachings about faith and morals” and thus are not technically infallible but yet, we can still trust them the way that we trust the Apostles when they drew lots and chose Matthias.

  29. Dennis said,

    February 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Bob S, 25,

    When Jesus is talking about “believing”, He is referring to believing in what He says.

    Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” (John 6:47-52)

    So what Jesus is telling us is that He is the bread of life and we must eat His flesh. The Jews who question Him don’t believe…and walk away.

    We are called to believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life. That we eat His flesh and drink His Blood. If we believe this, we will live forever. If we don’t believe, we will walk away to our former way of life (v. 66).

    In regards to the Lord’s Supper, John doesn’t reference the breaking of the bread in his Gospel. Rather, he replaces it with the Bread of Life Discourse from John 6. The Bread of Life discourse is obviously referring to the Eucharist as that has been the traditional view since the time of the Apostles.

    In regards to Paul, yes. He is not one of the original 12 and was on special commission by Christ to preach to the gentiles. He is considered an Apostle but not one of the 12.

  30. Dennis said,

    February 17, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Lane,

    The question then becomes this: how can one infallibly tell what is of the tradition and what is not? How can you avoid a fallible perception of what an infallible tradition is? Roman Catholics disagree on what is part of the tradition

    (Big ‘T’) Tradition are things that were handed down directly from the Apostles and have not changed (or changed minimally) over the last two thousand years. Small ‘t’ traditions are traditions that started after the Apostles and the Church has the power to change–or abolish.

    For example, the color of vestments that priests wear would be a tradition (small t) as the Apostles did not hand that down. The Church can change the color of vestments worn at different times (green for Ordinary time/purple for Lent, etc.)

    Other traditions: Eating fish on Fridays, celibate priesthood, rosaries, novenas, structure of the liturgy, etc.

    Sacraments would be a Tradition as the Catholic Church believes they were given to us by the Apostles from Jesus Christ.

    Other Traditions: Sanctity of Life, Real Presence in the Eucharist, Virginity of Mary, Trinity, etc.

    I think the best way to determine Tradition vs tradition is to determine the origin of the idea. If there are ideas that we can trace back to the early Church Fathers then it would be Tradition.

    A recent item that has been declared Tradition is the all male priesthood. Pope JPII wrote an Apostolic letter where he reviews the history and declares that he does not have the power to ordain women as 1. Priests since the time of Christ have been all male. 2. Women had a very special role with Christ (that was beyond the traditional women’s roles)—but not priests. From this, the Pope concludes that this is something that Christ mandated from the very beginning and he does not have the authority to change it.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19940522_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html

  31. Don said,

    February 17, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Dennis #30 said,

    A recent item that has been declared Tradition is the all male priesthood.

    I was going to ask, in response to Bob S #25, whether Junia was the fourteenth of the twelve apostles. But maybe I should ask whether Tradition explains how she was able to skip over priesthood and all the other levels for which she was not eligible, and go straight to apostleship.

  32. Mark B said,

    February 17, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    “But in regards to the teachings…about the Church, we can trust in their infallibility. i.e. the Pope isn’t going to come out and teach something that’s contrary to traditional Church teaching.”

    Right. The only think that we can trust in infallibly here is that the next time the Pope or a Council contradicts Tradition some Catholics will come up with some convoluted explanation attempting to show that the contradiction isn’t a contradiction.

  33. Ron Henzel said,

    February 17, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Dennis,

    You wrote:

    ‘Papal elections are not “teachings about faith and morals” and thus are not technically infallible but yet, we can still trust them the way that we trust the Apostles when they drew lots and chose Matthias.’

    This is not a very good analogy. Papal elections hinge on human decisions expressed in votes. The outcome of casting lots hinges entirely on what superficially appears to be a random event but is actually the result of the providence of God. To trust them both in the same way requires either elevating human decisions to the level of God’s providence, or lowering God’s providence to the level of human decisions. But then: that pretty much sums up the central dilemma of Romanist ecclesiology, now, doesn’t it?

  34. Dennis said,

    February 17, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Ron,

    I believe that the providence of God can be felt in human decisions. I don’t think anything is random and the only time that God’s providence is not in man’s decisions is when man sins.

    In other words, when man does something good, it comes from God. When man does something evil, it comes from man.

    The choice of a Pope can be fully within God’s providence and still be part of human decisions.

    Man is always called to follow God’s will fully. The decisions of man fully lie in choosing to love God or not love God. It’s in not loving God that God’s providence cannot be acted out fully.

  35. rooney said,

    February 18, 2014 at 12:26 am

    So basically:

    1. Papal elections are not infallible because they are not “faith or morals”.

    2. A believer can and should trust, by faith, that God’s providence helped, rather than “forced” the right Pope to be selected.

    3. The non-infallible decision can be trusted, by faith, by believers because it [the decision] was considered sufficiently trustworthy, because the believers believe that God’s providence was helping.

    4. Therefore, believers can be reasonably sure (85-95% or above), that a Papal election selected the right Pope, despite being technically non-infallible. Thus, error in posse (in potential), but not in esse (in essence).

    Is that your position Dennis? More importantly, is that the actual position of the Church?

    Thanks.

  36. Dennis said,

    February 18, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Rooney 35,

    That would be “yes” on all counts. This is my personal position and I cannot speak for the Church as I am not an authority. I would say that this is general Catholic consensus. i.e, if you polled Catholics, I don’t think you’d have too many people disagreeing with the above four points. Pope Benedict’s final words from his final general audience reflect my sentiments fairly well:

    Dear friends! God guides his Church, he sustains it always, especially at times of difficulty. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the one true way of looking at the journey of the Church and of the world. In our hearts, in the heart of each of you, may there always abide the joyful certainty that the Lord is at our side: he does not abandon us, he remains close to us and he surrounds us with his love. Thank you!

    I would have to say that he would agree with me based off of his final words.

  37. rooney said,

    February 18, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Another thing I always wondered about the Church is why not have an ecumenical council to elect the Pope? Why have a papal election?

    I guess in a way, Papal elections are like a mini ecumenical council, with cardinals from all over the world.

  38. Ron Henzel said,

    February 18, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Dennis,

    You missed my point. I never denied that papal elections occur within God’s providence. In fact, as a subscriber to the Westminster Confession of Faith, I believe that God unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass (WCF 3.1), Nor did I say that anything is random, but only that it superficially appears to be so.

    My point is that when you say, “we can still trust them [papal elections] the way that we trust the Apostles when they drew lots and chose Matthias” (emphasis added), (a) the object of your trust has shifted from God’s providence to human choice, and (b) the Apostles did not vote on who would replace Judas, but left the matter totally up to God.

    You now appear to be trying to rescue your analogy by making human choice a second cause in God’s providence, paralleling the casting of lots, but then you turn around and eviscerate that same providence by holding that sinful decisions occur outside of it. So mans’ sinful decisions are totally outside of God’s control? What man intends for evil, God cannot intend for good (Gen. 50:20)? Redemption was a “back-up plan” in case things in the Garden didn’t go according to plan? If “the only time that God’s providence is not in man’s decisions is when man sins,” doesn’t that exclude, like, 90 percent (just to be charitable) of everything that people do from God’s providence?

    And how can anyone trust the decision of a college of cardinals that would elect a man like Alexander VI (pope from 1492 to 1503), the worst pope in all history? “His pontificate was marked by nepotism, greed, and unbridled sensuality…He also lived an openly promiscuous life, fathering several children before and after his election to the papacy,” (Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, [San Francisco, CA, USA: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997], 267). Of course, it was no secret at the time that it would come in handy for him to have a son born out-of-wedlock that he could appoint as a cardinal once he got himself installed.

  39. Mark B said,

    February 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

    This might be a bit of a rabbit trail, but as it’s been mentioned several times:
    The Apostles drew lots and selected Matthias to be the successor of Judas.
    Scripture seems fairly clear that there were to be 12 Apostles, and regardless of your interpretation of Revelation, that there are 12 Apostles (now, in heaven). It is also very clear that Paul was called by Jesus Christ to be an Apostle on the road to Damascus, and this status is clearly accepted by the other Apostles as seen in the record of their interactions with him in Acts, and also in the way, for example, Peter references him in his letter. So, would it not be appropriate to view the record in Acts of the casting of lots for Matthias as only a recording of historical events, and not necessarily as something that we should take as an example to be emulated in the governance of the Church? In other words, the Apostles thought that this was a good way to proceed, and playfully did so, but it would seem that God had a different plan. (And yes, disagree with the way that the LC references this passage.)

  40. Dennis said,

    February 18, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Ron 38,

    Ron,

    The selection of Matthias was still “human choice.” They didn’t completely leave it up to God’s providence. They chose two (Justus and Matthias) and drew lots between them. I don’t see how this is much different. How do we trust the Apostles choices of Justus and Matthias? I’m sure there was much discussion and debate between the 11 to narrow it down to Justus and Matthias.

    Notice what the Apostles say about Justus and Matthias…the Apostles chose the two (Acts 1:23) and yet, they believe God chose them (Acts 1:24). So, why is it difficult to believe that the Cardinals select the Pope and that God chose him?

    And how can anyone trust the decision of a college of cardinals that would elect a man like Alexander VI (pope from 1492 to 1503), the worst pope in all history? “His pontificate was marked by nepotism, greed, and unbridled sensuality…He also lived an openly promiscuous life, fathering several children before and after his election to the papacy,” (Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, [San Francisco, CA, USA: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997], 267). Of course, it was no secret at the time that it would come in handy for him to have a son born out-of-wedlock that he could appoint as a cardinal once he got himself installed.

    Well, I’d start by saying that every pope that has ever been elected has sinned. Some sinners are more grievous than others. Alexander VI appears to have been the worst of the popes and yet, the Papal Office was protected from error. He did not teach anything as Pope that was contradictory to the faith. Being elected Pope will not magically protect you from sin. I imagine that the amount (and magnitude) of sins remains constant from before one is elected Pope to after. It’s not what they do but what they teach. Granted, we want a Pope who is a good leader but none of them have been perfect. Pope John Paul II went to confession weekly. I personally find it hard to go to confession once or twice a year and I don’t think Pope JPII was 26x the sinner that I am.

    In regards to sin, God can take an evil act (sin) and use it for good. He does that all the time. 9/11 was a horrific act that was the result of the free will of some terrible men. And yet, God can use that to bring about a good. (e.g. conversion of souls, unity of a nation, increased faith, increased prayer, etc.) God does not interfere with man’s free will. Man is free to choose against God’s will as Adam chose to go against God’s will. God is free to use man’s choice to bring about a greater good. God’s intention was for God to be with man in paradise per Genesis and when Man sinned, God used his sin to create an even greater good where Man participates in God’s plan and His divine nature.

    Man does not sin “90% of the time.” 99% of the time, we are acting in accordance with God’s plan. It’s within our nature to do what God designed us to do. When we are hungry, we eat. When we are tired, we rest. When we are sleepy, we sleep. God wills us to breathe and we breathe. If we actively choose not to breathe then there are problems. If we eat when we are not hungry, that’s a problem. If we rest when we are not tired, that’s a problem. If we choose not to breathe when God wills us to, that’s suicide.

    Sin is when we are acting outside of God’s plan. It’s to choose against what God wants for us. God wants us to be happy. Sin can feel good but will ultimately make us unhappy. We live in a culture that focuses on the “I” What is best for me?

    God wants us to love others as we love ourselves (and love God). It’s in the act of not loving that we sin. Driving planes into buildings is not loving others. Choosing to abort a child is not loving. Satisfying the self (through drugs or other vices) is sin. It’s in the act of loving others that we know God.

  41. Ron Henzel said,

    February 18, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Dennis,

    The Scriptures are unmistakably clear about this: the Apostles only chose the candidates. They had enough discernment to know who qualified, but they did not choose between the two themselves, but left the final choice up to God. This is quite different from an election, such as the one in which the college of cardinals participates in.

    The notion that the papal office was protected from error is, of course, an indication that you stand on the other side of the seismic fault line between Romanism and Protestantism. You assume the truth of that idea while we assume the opposite. Since I was raised Roman Catholic and know their arguments well, I know how Romanists appeal to Scripture to buttress their case. I have come to believe that the biblical arguments demonstrating that the papal office has, in fact, fallen into grave error are much stronger.

    Being a Roman Catholic, you would also have a very different view of free will and human depravity than we Reformed Christians have. When I was referring to what people do, I was not referring to mundane tasks, and yet even in these we express our sinful natures. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. … the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” (Gen. 6:5, 8:21).

    God’s primary concern for us is not that we are happy, but that we are holy. And it is not in the act loving others (the 2nd greatest commandment) that we know Him, but rather it is through faith in Christ, which in turn gives us the power to keep both the 1st and 2nd greatest commandments.

  42. Mark B said,

    February 18, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    39 – prayerfully, not playfully

  43. Dennis said,

    February 18, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Ron 41,

    God’s primary concern for us is not that we are happy, but that we are holy.

    I don’t see how these two are in conflict with each other. Yes, we are to be holy. It’s in holiness that we are happy. It’s in our baptism that we are washed anew. We are sanctified and reborn. As Paul puts it, we are baptized into Christ’s death so that we may rise in newness of life. It’s in the newness of life that we can be happy as we are finally with God and it’s in accordance with His will that we remain friends with Christ per John. We love God so we keep His commandments and we are no longer slaves. We are friends.

    I’m not talking about a Joel Osteen kind of happiness. I’m not talking about a bigger house and a fancy car. I’m talking about true happiness. Joy because we are with God. John 15: 10-11 tells us that if we keep His commandments, we will remain in His love so that we receive the joy of Christ and our joy may be complete. It’s in following God’s commandments that we find true happiness.

    Being a Roman Catholic, you would also have a very different view of free will and human depravity than we Reformed Christians have.

    I would agree with you on this. I believe that Reformed Christians don’t have a complete view on human depravity or of free will. You quote Genesis without truly reflecting on its meaning. What does God mean that the intention of man’s heart is evil?

    How can something that God created be evil? All of God’s creation is good. When God created man on the sixth day, He looked over His creation and called it “Very Good.” So, the addition of man to creation made it go from “Good” (Genesis 1: 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) to “Very Good” (Genesis 1:31). Why is man now evil? How can someone who is created “in the image of God” (Genesis 9:6) be wicked. From your logic, if man is wicked and man is created in the image of God, then God is wicked. But God is good; therefore, your logic is flawed.

    The answer is that man is not wicked. He’s wounded. His will is inclined to sin. But God’s creation is still “Very Good” yet tainted. We lack the supernatural grace that Adam had before the Fall. We lack the perfection that Christ has.

    Adam’s sin wounded mankind. Man who was born in holiness is now deprived of that holiness because of Adam’s sin. We are now inclined to evil and have been kicked out of Eden but yet God has not abandoned us. After the Fall, God remains close to Man. God remains with Abel. God remains with Noah. God is constantly calling man back to holiness. Like Noah, God wants man to walk with Him. (Genesis 6:9) Even though His heart grieves because of the evil that Man does, God constantly calls man to renew his covenant with God.

    The final covenant, the New Covenant is to be one with Christ. To participate in the divine nature. We are baptized into Christ…into His Church and in obedience to Christ, we love God and love our neighbor. In Christ, we find Salvation. In Christ, we are saved.

  44. Ron Henzel said,

    February 18, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Dennis,

    You wrote:

    “I’m not talking about a Joel Osteen kind of happiness. …”

    Thanks for clarifying. To say, “God wants us to be happy. Sin can feel good but will ultimately make us unhappy,” sounds Osteenish in a Robert Schuller sort of way.

    You wrote:

    “You quote Genesis without truly reflecting on its meaning. What does God mean that the intention of man’s heart is evil?”

    Based on your subsequent comments it does not appear that I am the one lacking in reflection. You wrote:

    “How can something that God created be evil?”

    Have you not heard of original sin? Did not God create Satan and yet is not Satan evil?

    You wrote:

    “From your logic, if man is wicked and man is created in the image of God, then God is wicked. But God is good; therefore, your logic is flawed.”

    Balderdash.

    You wrote:

    “The answer is that man is not wicked. He’s wounded.”

    This insults the intelligence of anyone with the smallest measure of biblical literacy. You are flat-out contradicting God’s word here in a most egregious fashion. God’s wrath does not remain on people because they are wounded but because they are wicked.

  45. Dennis said,

    February 19, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Ron,

    Have you not heard of original sin? Did not God create Satan and yet is not Satan evil?

    Satan was not created evil. Satan was an angel. He was the most beautiful angel. Through his free will, his gaze turned inward. His pride was his downfall and he was cast out of heaven. (Ezekiel 28:11-16)

    In the original sin, Man places his will above God’s will. The original sin was not created by God but rather came from Adams free will. It’s in Adam’s desire to place his wants above God’s will that Mankind falls. Again, this is not created evil.

    God is love. God is good. God cannot create evil as evil does not exist. Evil is the absence of good. Evil is the absence of God. When man places his will above God’s will, sin abounds because God is not present in man’s decision and the action is therefore evil (as it is devoid of God).

    When we are born, we are born in Adam’s original sin as we have been deprived of Adam’s supernatural grace. Our nature has been wounded. Specifically, we lack the access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24) and are separated from God. Through Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life has been restored. The cross becomes the Tree of Life and Christ hangs from the Tree. Christ is the fruit from the Tree and we eat His Body and we have eternal life.

    Banished from Eden, Man has been deprived of the Tree of Life and is destined to work and eat bread until he dies (Genesis 3:19). Now in Christ, Eden has been restored and we now have access to the Tree. We are now destined for eternal friendship and we can eat bread and live forever. (John 6:51)

    We are born deprived of saving grace but yet God is calling us as He called Abraham and He called Noah to walk with Him. In Christ’s body, we have the opportunity to be saved. From the cross, there is sufficient grace to save the world. We need to hear God’s call and respond in faith. From that faith comes the hope in God’s message followed by love and obedience to His will.

  46. Bob S said,

    February 19, 2014 at 1:28 am

    If our nature has only been wounded, how come Christ says we need to be born again?

    Answer: Blah, blah, blah.

    IOW more of the same old roman palaver. It sounds good, but it bears no substantive relationship to, nor is it found in Scripture.

    Which only inspires the self willed romanist to believe in it and promote it even more. It would cost too much to admit that they were wrong.
    And short of God doing a work, that is impossible for sinners dead in their trespasses.

  47. rooney said,

    February 19, 2014 at 5:27 am

    Dennis [#40]: “So, why is it difficult to believe that the Cardinals select the Pope and that God chose him?”

    So in other words, since God chose the Popes, papal elections are infallible after all?

  48. Ron Henzel said,

    February 19, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Dennis,

    Confusion abounds in your replies to me. I believe that I am being quite clear and yet you misread what I write with remarkable consistency. I never said that God created Satan evil. That is something you have read into my words.

    You began by asking “What does God mean that the intention of man’s heart is evil?” which in turn led you to the question “How can something that God created be evil?” which in turn again led you to the conclusion, “The answer is that man is not wicked. He’s wounded.” So, since “evil” and “wicked” are synonyms meaning “morally bad,” you’re basically saying that even though the Bible says that the intention of man’s heart is evil (or wicked), man himself is not evil (or wicked). Thus you add non sequitur to an utterly unbiblical position.

    In essence you’re further degrading the already biblically-weak definition of sin provided in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1849 (page 505 of the paperback edition) which says that sin wounds the nature of man, but not that sin is merely the actual wound as you’re saying. The Romanist dilution of the pure biblical teaching can be traced back through the Council of Trent, which would only go so far as to affirm that “Adam, through that offense of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse” (“Decree Concerning Original Sin”), at least all the way back to Thomas Aquinas, who, in his Summa Theologica, had a whole lot to say about categories of individual sins and vices and the imaginary distinction between venial and mortal sins but little if anything about how sin corrupts man’s nature.

    The Bible says we are brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5), that by nature we are born into this world dead in trespasses and sins, followers of Satan, children of wrath (Eph. 2:2-3), loving darkness rather than light (Jn. 3:19). Our nature is far more than merely wounded by sin. Jesus didn’t pull any punches on this issue, but said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children…”

    Man was created morally good. Man fell. Man is now morally bad. To be morally bad is evil and wicked. Scripture is clear that such we are apart from saving grace.

    We can draw a straight line from the Romanist neglect of the Scriptural doctrine of sin to all of the historic and contemporary corruptions in its hierarchy, from its plenitude of popes who sired children out of wedlock to its priestly pedophile scandals. In place of the strong words of Scripture, this neglect settles for rhetoric like yours, which is more comfortable talking about what human sinfulness is not (i.e., sin as a “deprivation of grace”) rather than what human sinfulness is (a heart that is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” Jer. 17:9), and which thus prefers the metaphors for salvation (“Tree of Life,” etc.) to the real thing.

  49. Dennis said,

    February 19, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Bob S. 46,

    If our nature has only been wounded, how come Christ says we need to be born again?

    Blah…blah…hahaha….

    Again, because of Adam’s sin, man has been deprived of the supernatural grace. Specifically, we have lost access to the Tree of Life in Genesis 3.

    In order to live forever, we must be able to eat from the Tree of Life. We need to have God’s grace and be in His favor.

    When we are born, we are born as sinners. Our nature is wounded because of Adam’s original sin. We must be reborn into Christ.

    In Baptism, we are baptized into Christ’s death so that we may rise in newness of life (Romans 6:3). In Baptism, we enter into the Body of Christ. We enter into the Church. It’s in Christ that we are saved. Outside of Christ…outside of the Church, there is no Salvation.

  50. Dennis said,

    February 20, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Ron 48,

    Ron,

    In essence you’re further degrading the already biblically-weak definition of sin provided in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1849 (page 505 of the paperback edition) which says that sin wounds the nature of man, but not that sin is merely the actual wound as you’re saying.

    The Catholic definition of sin is the biblical definition of sin. It’s not weak. It’s not even biblically weak. Sin is disobedience.

    CCC1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.” Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,” knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.” In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.

    In your response to me, you reference Ephesians 2:2-3, in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.

    Paul outright tells us that it’s disobedience that’s the problem. Sin is disobedience. God is calling us to be obedient. Christ wants us to be obedient to Him. John tells us to be obedient. If we love Christ, we will keep His commandments. And His commandment is simple. It’s to love. Love God. Love our brothers. Love our neighbors. Love our enemies. It’s to love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. (1 John 3:18). That is the Gospel. It’s to love and share God’s love with all so that God’s love can spread throughout the world.

  51. Ron Henzel said,

    February 20, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Dennis,

    Yet once again, you miss my point. You actually appear to be avoiding it. I was not focusing on the weakness of the Roman Catholic definition as on the fact that your definition is weaker! I maintain my point that the Romanist definition is weak because it fails to see sin as the corruption of man’s entire being, as Scripture clearly teaches. You, on the other hand, water that down even further by declaring “man is not wicked.”

    The problem is not individual acts of disobedience, but a fallen nature that is bent on disobedience. Yes, if we love Christ we will keep His commandments, but we cannot do that until our nature is changed. And our nature cannot be changed until the merits of Christ (and Christ alone!) are applied to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is the Gospel! Attempting real obedience apart from a changed nature is futility itself. And you do not even know what God’s love is until you rely on Christ and Him alone (the sacraments do not stand at the center of salvation but simply confirm this message, and “the merits of the saints” are mere legalistic hallucinations), and so there is no true divine love to share until you rest your entire being on Christ, trusting only in His wrath-bearing atonement for your sins, apart from any and all works that you perform.

  52. Dennis said,

    February 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Ron,

    Thank you for clarifying. Obviously, we are in disagreement in regards to man’s nature.

    I maintain my point that the Romanist definition is weak because it fails to see sin as the corruption of man’s entire being, as Scripture clearly teaches. You, on the other hand, water that down even further by declaring “man is not wicked.”

    I would argue that you don’t understand the Catholic definition and that your understanding of Scripture is jaded by your paradigm. Something that you see as Scripture “clearly teaches” is really something that you see by ignoring parts of Scripture that you don’t like and/or choose to ignore.

    Man is not “wicked” but rather man is wounded. As Genesis clearly states, Man is made in the image of God. Being made in the “Image of God” would mean that Man cannot be made wicked as God is not wicked. Paul tells us that we are the “offspring of God”, and that in Him, we live and move and have our being.

    Man’s nature is wounded. We have an inclination to sin. We have a want to choose what is evil. Without God, we are doomed to eternal damnation. We are separated from Him by the Fall but yet, even in darkness, Man searches for God. He yearns for Him and God never abandons us. Paul himself tells us that “people might seek God, even perhaps grope for Him and find Him, though indeed He is not far from us.” (Acts 17:27)

    From your argument, nobody before Christ could be saved as all men are wicked and would have been doomed to damnation as they had not found Christ. Yet Hebrews tells us that there were righteous men in the Old Testament. These righteous men searched for God and found Him. I’ll grant you that they were not saved until after Christ’s Resurrection but yet, they were not wicked.

    Yes, if we love Christ we will keep His commandments, but we cannot do that until our nature is changed. And our nature cannot be changed until the merits of Christ (and Christ alone!) are applied to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    That’s almost correct. We cannot love Christ and keep His commandments until we are Baptized into Christ. It’s in Christ that we receive the supernatural grace that was lost with Adam. It’s through Baptism that we are born anew. After Baptism in which we are brought into Christ, we are in our infancy. We are new creatures who must be fed and we must grow in our faith. In the development of our faith comes the love and obedience to Christ and the promise of Salvation.

    However, with all this, we still have our wounded nature that is still inclined to sin (concupiscence) which means that we must be careful to avoid sin. With God’s help, we can avoid sin but without His grace, our sinful desires can take over and destroy us. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

  53. Ron Henzel said,

    February 20, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Dennis,

    I have yet to see any Scriptures from you which demonstrate that man is merely wounded but not wicked, and yet I have provided biblical texts that state that it is wicked with crystal clarity. It’s hard to ignore Scriptures that you haven’t actually provided. So why don’t you provide some that say man’s nature is merely wounded by sin?

    Acts 17:27 does not contradict Romans 3:10-12. God so arranged human history so that man might seek God, but both the Psalms and the book of Romans teach that in spite of that man has never sought God on his own.

    And it is incorrect to conclude from my statements that no one before Christ could be saved, since the Bible is clear that Old Testament believers were saved by trusting in the promised Messiah (John 8:56). They did not find God because they searched for Him, but rather because He chose them and sought them Himself.

    Baptism does not make anyone born again any more than a wedding ring makes anyone married. The Holy Spirit gives us new birth. Baptism signifies and seals the promise of the Spirit’s cleansing us with Christ’s atoning death. It does not effect that cleansing.

    When Paul talks about working out our salvation, it’s clear that he’s referring to moving forward in our sanctification after we have been justified—something we cannot do unless God gives us both the desire and ability to do so (Phil. 2:13), inasmuch as our inborn fallen natures have neither the desire nor the ability in themselves (Rom. 3:10-12; Jer. 13:23; Titus 1:15; 1 Jn. 5:19; 1 Cor. 2:14; John 6:37, 44).

    But, look: it appears to me that you are largely unaware of the past nearly 500 years of Protestant versus Roman Catholic debates on all these points. Nothing you have written is new to me. I was raised Roman Catholic, and I’ve studied the Romanist positions on all these things even more deeply in the years since I became an evangelical Christian. I have greatly abbreviated my answers here because I simply do not have time to give fuller responses, but such fuller responses have been given over and over and over again from the time of Luther and Calvin until today. I would suggest becoming better acquainted with the historic Reformational responses to what Catholicism teaches.

  54. Dennis said,

    February 21, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Ron,

    That’s interesting because I pointed out Man’s likeness to God as man is not wicked but only wounded.

    Rather, I don’t think you’ve sufficiently pointed out with clarity that man’s nature is wicked.

    Regardless, it doesn’t matter to me. My authority is the Church. So, it is crystal clear to me what the proper understanding is. I don’t have the authority to contradict the Church.

    Baptism is not a “wedding ring.” Baptism now saves you. The reason you disagree with the Church is because you’ve made a personal judgment that it doesn’t conform to your understanding of Scripture.

    You’ve made a personal decision that you disagree with the Church and have rejected it. Thus, you are your own pope…and you really can’t get around that. You can deny that but that is the truth.

    And yes, I’m very aware of the past 500 years where Protestants are arguing against the Church. For 500 years, people disagree with the Church. They don’t like what it teaches so they’ve formed their own communities in rebellion.

    I’m also aware that people disagreed with what Christ said…and they nailed Him to a tree.

    So, tell me what else you disagree with. Tell me how much you hate the Catholic Church. Tell me what else you hate. It seems that that is all you want to do.

  55. Ron Henzel said,

    February 21, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Dennis,

    The Scripture verses I quoted speak for themselves. I will treat you like an adult here and invite you to scroll up to re-read them if you are truly serious about this discussion.

    And Peter. whom you quote out-of-context, makes it clear that baptism now saves us in the same sense that a wedding ring “weds” a husband and wife (as in the wedding pledge, “With this ring I thee wed…”). He says that the act itself does not actually save but rather what it represents does, just as the ring itself does not actually wed two people but what the ring represents does. My analogy fits perfectly with Peter’s words.

    Accusing me of being my own final authority (“you are your own pope”) because I choose the Bible as my final authority is an ultimately circular argument. You’re basically saying that I am my own authority because I choose which authority to follow. On that basis, you are your own authority because you choose the pope and the magisterium as your final authority over Scripture.

    Your argument reaches a particularly low point when you write:

    “I’m also aware that people disagreed with what Christ said…and they nailed Him to a tree. …Tell me how much you hate the Catholic Church. … It seems that that is all you want to do.”

    And yet, the Romanist church is so Christ-like that when people disagreed with her, she burned them alive by the hundreds, tortured them in Inquisitions, sent armies to destroy their cities, so that Roman Catholics like you could later come along and brand people like me as “hateful.” And in your own personal imitation of Christ you verbally abuse me.

    I now see that it serves no good purpose to try to reason with you from God’s word.

  56. rooney said,

    February 21, 2014 at 4:46 am

    When the Catholic Church burned/tortured the Waldenses, Valley CHristians, Reformers etc, was that an unanimous infallible decision by the Church?

    Some still say the Church was right the whole time to burn the valley christians or heretics, or plot assassinations against the Queen etc, and that it was in no way, by the judgement of the Church (then and now), moral heresy to burn heretics, lie to heretics etc, since the heretics also committed burnings.

    Has the church ever apologized or solemnly declared such acts to be wrong?
    (Seeing how ecumenical and loving Pope JPII was, I bet he might have infallibly declared such acts to be wrong sometime in his great pontificate).

    Thanks.

  57. Don said,

    February 21, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    It should be clear by now that Dennis’ beliefs are shaped by what his church tells him, and have rather little to do with what Scriptures teach. But in fairness, that is certainly not unique to Roman Catholics–there are plenty of Protestants who believe whatever their church teaches them without thinking much about it. Whether it’s legalistic versions of fundamentalism (“God hates you until you live up to his standards”) or therapeutic liberalism (“God loves you no matter what, so just try a little harder”), or anything in between, a theology not shaped by Scripture unfortunately is all too common and crosses denominational boundaries.

  58. Dennis said,

    February 22, 2014 at 2:43 am

    Ron,

    Christ doesn’t command us to wear wedding rings. Peter doesn’t demand the 3000 on Pentecost to wear wedding rings. Wearing wedding rings is not the same as being baptized.

    It’s not the water that washes off the dirt. It’s God’s grace that washes away your sins. Earlier, you quote Psalms 51:5. Note what David writes in v. 4 thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. Psalm 51 is a foreshadowing of Baptism and that’s about as clear as you can have it.

    In regards to man being wounded and not evil, Psalm 139: 13-15 says:

    You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth

    And as I said, throughout the Old Testament there are righteous men. Man leans toward evil but he is not totally depraved.

    Accusing me of being my own final authority (“you are your own pope”) because I choose the Bible as my final authority is an ultimately circular argument. You’re basically saying that I am my own authority because I choose which authority to follow. On that basis, you are your own authority because you choose the pope and the magisterium as your final authority over Scripture.

    No that’s not accurate. The final authority is Jesus Christ. So, Jesus tells us that we are to baptize all in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Church protects the words of Christ.

    The Pope and the Magisterium do not have the authority to say, “we have reviewed Scripture and we were wrong about Baptism.” The reason why is because this teaching was handed down from Christ.

    You, however, read Scripture and regardless of what Christ said, you interpret it and tell me that Baptism is as meaningless as a wedding ring. You reject the teaching because it doesn’t agree with your understanding of Scripture.

    This is not circular. I submit to the Church. You submit to your own personal view of Scripture.

    And yet, the Romanist church is so Christ-like that when people disagreed with her, she burned them alive by the hundreds, tortured them in Inquisitions, sent armies to destroy their cities, so that Roman Catholics like you could later come along and brand people like me as “hateful.” And in your own personal imitation of Christ you verbally abuse me.

    Really, I don’t think I was verbally abusive. Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of vipers and hypocrites. That’s verbally abusive. I’m comparing you to the Pharisees because you have an obvious hatred for the Church. You reject her because you think you know better.

    Incidentally, it’s not the Church that tortured people and sent armies to destroy cities. This was done by sinful people who were overly zealous I’ll grant you…but it was not the Church. The Church is made of sinners. People sin. These people had alterior motives and their actions fell short of the teaching of the Church. That is not the Church.

    You’re right about one thing. I think this conversation is fruitless. I’ve argued from Scripture. I understand Scripture and yet you refuse to acknowledge what I’ve written as Truth because it disagrees with your understanding.

  59. Dennis said,

    February 22, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Don,

    So, essentially what you’re saying is that anyone who doesn’t agree with TULIP is wrong.

    Essentially, the Reformed understanding of Scripture is correct and everyone else is wrong.

    I don’t see how that’s any different than me submitting to the Church. I submit to the Church and her teaching. You submit to the Reformed understanding of Scripture. Is that correct? I believe that the Catholic Church is correct and you believe that John Calvin is correct. Right?

    Thus, my authority is the Church and your authority is John Calvin. However, I think you would disagree with me on this as you would say that your authority is Scripture.

    But then, you can point to other Protestants who say the same thing (that their authority is Scripture) but you would say that their understanding is not “properly shaped. (“God hates you until you live up to his standards”) or therapeutic liberalism (“God loves you no matter what, so just try a little harder”), or anything in between,

    So thus, it’s your understanding of Scripture that’s right and everyone else is wrong…

    which de facto makes you pope.

  60. rooney said,

    February 22, 2014 at 7:38 am

    “Incidentally, it’s not the Church that tortured people and sent armies to destroy cities. This was done by sinful people who were overly zealous”

    Is this officially what the Church believes about herself?

    I have heard somewhere a recent ecumenical pope condemned (infallibily?) the atrocities. Which one was it and what document?

    Thanks.

  61. Ron Henzel said,

    February 22, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Dennis,

    My reference to wedding rings was an analogy explaining the kind of metonymous language Peter uses when explaining baptism. I never said that wearing wedding rings is the same as being baptized; I said that baptism bears the same kind of “sign and seal” relationship (cf. Rom. 4:11) to salvation that the wedding ring bears to marriage. To twist my words into “Baptism is as meaningless as a wedding ring” is difficult to excuse. Thus your attempt at reductio ad absurdam thus founders on the rocks of a truly malicious straw man fallacy.

    Of course I disagree with the Romanist view of baptism because it conflicts with my interpretation of Scripture. And you do the same! You disagree with my view of baptism because it conflicts with your interpretation of Scripture! The fact you allow your interpretation to be determined by Romanism is secondary to this point. You can say that Christ is your final authority all you want, and I say the same as well. But for you, that final authority is mediated by the usurped authoritarianism of Rome, which acts as your final arbiter of Christ’s authority, while for me it is mediated by the Spirit-inspired authority of Scripture, which acts as mine. The reason the Church cannot change its doctrine is not because it’s doctrine has been handed down to them by Christ, but because it assumes its own infallibility in formulating doctrine, and also because it depends on those who follow them to also assume it in order to maintain their authority over them.

    You wrote:

    It’s not the water that washes off the dirt. It’s God’s grace that washes away your sins. Earlier, you quote Psalms 51:5. Note what David writes in v. 4 thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. Psalm 51 is a foreshadowing of Baptism and that’s about as clear as you can have it.

    The first two sentences of this paragraph are my words being quoted back to me, though without quotation marks. I assume you are responding to that quote in the remainder of your paragraph. But the only way to get Christian baptism out of Psalm 51:4, even as a foreshadowing, is to anachronistically import the idea into the text. The Mosaic Law had washings in abundance; David was obviously alluding to them rather than Christian baptism, but was actually referring to the spiritual washing he needed. It is not water that cleanses us from sin, but only the blood of Jesus (1 Jn 1:7; Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:14, 10:19-20; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 7:14).

    Psalm 139 does not prove that man’s inner nature is not evil; it simply affirms that God’s creation, including man’s body, remains good in spite of the sinfulness of man himself. Any men that the Bible calls righteous are so by God’s grace alone through faith—not by any works of theirs (Eph. 2:8-9). You have to ignore a lot of Scripture to deny total depravity!

    You wrote:

    Really, I don’t think I was verbally abusive. Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of vipers and hypocrites. That’s verbally abusive.

    Really? So Jesus abused people? Pardon me, but I find that a bit on the blasphemous side.

    You wrote:

    I’m comparing you to the Pharisees because you have an obvious hatred for the Church. You reject her because you think you know better.

    So because I strongly disagree with Romanist theology I hate Roman Catholics? Has the political correctness that sees principled opposition to gay marriage as a “hate crime” now devolved into a theological correctness that sees biblical opposition to Catholic theology as a “hate sin?”

    I define a “church” in terms of the people in it. I do not hate Roman Catholics. I do not hate the pope. I do not hate his cardinals. I do not hate the priests or the laypeople. Most of my family is Roman Catholic. How can I hate them? And yet, judging by the vitriolic flourishes in your comments, it sure seems that you hate me!

    I don’t automatically see a church as an institution, although I, like everyone else, do occasionally use the word in that sense. And when I find institutions that call themselves “churches” to be leading people to hell with a false gospel. I reject them when their teachings because I believe Scripture is clear on the doctrine of salvation (which Rome denies) and that Scripture knows better. If I truly believe that, are you saying that I should still love those institutions?

    Incidentally, it’s not the Church that tortured people and sent armies to destroy cities. This was done by sinful people who were overly zealous I’ll grant you…but it was not the Church. The Church is made of sinners. People sin. These people had alterior motives and their actions fell short of the teaching of the Church. That is not the Church.

    So when, in 1095, Pope Urban II, called for the First Crusade, it wasn’t “the Church” that was sending the armies to slaughter and destroy? And when Inquisitors who were part of the established justice system of the Roman Catholic Church tortured people—and were even granted absolution for doing so!—that was not something that “the Church” was doing? And when the Vatican had clear information that Jews were being gassed by the millions in Nazi death camps and ignored it, that wasn’t something that “the Church” did? And so even though everyone who did all these things were either among the highest church authorities or did so at the behest of such authorities, it was only overly-zealous , sinful, non-Church with ulterior (proper spelling) motives who actually “did” them?

    Gee, thanks for clearing that up! (You might want to email the Vatican so they can attach that as a footnote to all the apologies John Paul II issued before he died! Just sayin’.)

    You’re right about one thing. I think this conversation is fruitless. I’ve argued from Scripture. I understand Scripture and yet you refuse to acknowledge what I’ve written as Truth because it disagrees with your understanding.

    So you understand Scripture and I don’t. Yeah, I think this is a good place for us to stop.

  62. Ron Henzel said,

    February 22, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Dennis,

    By the way: does your wife know that you think wedding rings are meaningless? Best keep that little gem of a remark under your hat!

  63. Don said,

    February 22, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Dennis,

    So, essentially what you’re saying is that anyone who doesn’t agree with TULIP is wrong.

    Nope. But I would say that anyone who disagrees with, say, Romans 3:9-18 is wrong. If you can read that passage and conclude that people are wounded but not evil, well, I don’t know what to say.

    So thus, it’s your understanding of Scripture that’s right and everyone else is wrong…

    Remind me where I said that?
    What I said was, one’s theology should be shaped by Scripture, not by whatever one’s church of choice teaches (if it is contrary to Scripture).

    which de facto makes you pope.

    Maybe this accusation makes sense to Catholics, but it seems like a rather bizarre non sequitur to me.

    Incidentally, it’s not the Church that tortured people and sent armies to destroy cities. This was done by sinful people who were overly zealous I’ll grant you…but it was not the Church.

    Hahahaha! Nice try. Unless you are tacitly admitting that the Roman Catholic church is not the Church.

  64. Bob S said,

    February 23, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Hmm. All in all, not a bad example of Ignatius of Loyola’s 13th Rule, if the church tells me that black is white, who am I to complain or question?
    Rather “Forward, into the breach”.
    Man is dead, but wounded; you are making yourself the pope if you disagree (with my interpretation of Scripture Romanism); blah blah blah etc..

    The devious and devilish dialectic of denial by The Den is on full display. That he must eat his hat, all the while speaking through it, even as he keeps his remarks on wedding rings under it, is a jesuitical juggling act that must be seen to be believed.

    But to clarify, it is not a dunce hat, even if it looks just like the papal mitre I am wearing. (Boy, am I glad we got that figured out.)

  65. Dennis said,

    February 23, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Rooney 60,

    Here is the apology:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/homilies/2000/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20000312_pardon_en.html

    4. Let us forgive and ask forgiveness! While we praise God who, in his merciful love, has produced in the Church a wonderful harvest of holiness, missionary zeal, total dedication to Christ and neighbour, we cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken towards the followers of other religions.

    Let us confess, even more, our responsibilities as Christians for the evils of today. We must ask ourselves what our responsibilities are regarding atheism, religious indifference, secularism, ethical relativism, the violations of the right to life, disregard for the poor in many countries.

    We humbly ask forgiveness for the part which each of us has had in these evils by our own actions, thus helping to disfigure the face of the Church.

    So, what the Pope is saying is that it’s individuals who disfigure the face of the Church and not the Church.

    Additionally, Pope JPII issued this Papal Bull:

    http://www.vatican.va/jubilee_2000/docs/documents/hf_jp-ii_doc_30111998_bolla-jubilee_en.html

    Paragraph 11 states:

    First of all, the sign of the purification of memory; this calls everyone to make an act of courage and humility in recognizing the wrongs done by those who have borne or bear the name of Christian….

    As the Successor of Peter, I ask that in this year of mercy the Church, strong in the holiness which she receives from her Lord, should kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters.

    So, he’s apologizing for the people in the Church and not the Church. It’s not the Church who does these things. It’s her sons and daughters who sin and the Pope is apologizing for these people.

  66. Dennis said,

    February 24, 2014 at 12:17 am

    Ron 62,

    Wedding rings really are quite meaningless. The marriage however is a sacrament. You (assuming you’re married) and I receive grace from God daily through our marriage. God gives us the grace but yet we still have to respond. We respond through faith, hope and love. It’s in the marriage and family that we learn about authentic love and life.

    In sacraments, God gives us grace and we respond to His grace in which we grow in faith from which our love for God and neighbor develops and grows.

  67. Dennis said,

    February 24, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Ron 61,

    But the only way to get Christian baptism out of Psalm 51:4, even as a foreshadowing, is to anachronistically import the idea into the text.

    The Old Testament is absolutely filled with these types. This is how I know that Catholic teaching is true is because I see it evident in the Old Testament.

    Jesus opened the hearts and minds of the Apostles to the Scriptures so they could see all the messianic references and understand the Old Testament (Luke 24: 27, 32, 45). These aren’t “anachronisms” these are there for a reason and there are too many to discount.

    Really? So Jesus abused people? Pardon me, but I find that a bit on the blasphemous side.

    I don’t personally think its abusive. I am using that term from your perspective. If I called you a “viper” and a “hypocrite” you would tell me that I’m being verbally abusive. I used terms less inflammatory and you took offense.

    Jesus didn’t come here to be “nice.” I’m not here to be “nice.” I’m here to reflect the truth as best I can. You’re having problems with what I’ve written because it conflicts with what you believe.

    Regardless, I need to point all people to Christ. It’s He who saves and right now, you’re having trouble really understanding what He’s saying. I’m willing to continue this dialogue more if you have further questions and we can keep it from devolving into a yell fest. I feel this is important. If you really feel you’ve heard all this, then yes, we can stop.

  68. Dennis said,

    February 24, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Don 63,

    Total Depravity is a misunderstanding of the Fall. Nowhere does it say in Genesis 3 that man’s nature is destroyed.

    What it says is that man is deprived of the Tree of Life. From the Tree of Life, Man receives eternal life (Genesis 3:22). That eternal life comes through the grace of God. God wills man to live forever from eating of the Tree.

    So, through Adam’s sin, death enters the world (because they no longer receive the grace from God that was from the Tree of Life.) Man no longer has access to this Tree and its fruit so man is doomed to suffer the same death as Adam as we are deprived of Adam’s original supernatural grace.

    Through Christ, the Tree of Life is restored (Revelation 22:2) and man now has the grace necessary to live forever.

    So, in summary, from Adam, death enters the world–through his disobedience and banning from the Tree of Life (Genesis 3) and from Christ, eternal life is restored–through His obedience and the cross. (Romans 5:19-21)

  69. Don said,

    February 24, 2014 at 2:23 am

    Dennis 68,
    You are the one bringing up TULIP and total depravity, not me. Further, I’m not disagreeing with you about what you explicitly say about Genesis 3. However, you write as if to imply that Genesis 3 gives a complete account of man’s post-fall nature. So if I may ask you based on Romans 3:9-18, more specifically this time: Who is righteous? Who seeks for God? Who does good? Does this passage describe the wounded or the evil?

  70. rooney said,

    February 24, 2014 at 3:19 am

    “It’s not the Church who does these things. It’s her sons and daughters who sin and the Pope is apologizing for these people.”

    I really dont get it. If the people in the church were killing, torturing etc, and it was not the church which did such things, what was the church at the time of the sinful events and what was the church doing?

    BTW, is this the actual position of the church? I simply have never read or heard any dogma/doctrine claiming that whenever the Church’s members do something scandalous, the church is never to be blamed, even if they did for the sake of the church.

    Thanks.

  71. Dennis said,

    February 25, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Don 69,

    In Romans 3:9-18, Paul is quoting Psalms and Proverbs.

    Who seeks for God? Who does Good?

    So, if you go to what he is quoting (Psalms 14: 1-4), you can see that it is the foolish who don’t seek God. He’s not talking about all people. He’s talking about the foolish. So, we need to be in the “company of the just” (Psalms 14:5) to be one who is wise and not foolish.

    Paul’s point is not highlighting that all are foolish but that there are foolish (i.e. not seeking God) in both Jew and Greek alike. He’s quoting Psalms 14:3 because the Roman Jews who are reading it will recognize it and know that they cannot be foolish. They need to be wise. They need to be in the company of the just.

    Understanding good and evil is like understanding darkness and light. Light has a source…a lamp, a flame, the sun, etc. The light comes from the source and illuminates the room and vanquishes the darkness. Goodness has a source…God. Jesus tells us that God is the source of all goodness. Evil is like darkness. Evil does not have a source. So, Evil is the absence of God. It’s the turning away from God.

    The Original Sin directly affected our relationship with God. After the Original Sin, we are deprived of a special relationship with God. A friendship that existed in Eden. A partnership to work for God and experience life. After the Fall, man worked for food and ate until he died. After the Fall, man’s relationship with God changed; however, God is still present with Man. He doesn’t fully abandon him (as seen in Genesis 4). Therefore, as God is the source of goodness and still present with man, man cannot be completely evil. He can only be evil when he turns away from God.

    The reason why Total Depravity is not correct can be found in Genesis 4. Note what God says to Cain, “ If you act rightly, you will be accepted; but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it” (Genesis 4:7) So, Man is given the capacity to rule over our urge to sin—if we act rightly. If we do not, sin lies in wait.

    So, in summary, the Catholic understanding must be the correct one. Man’s nature is wounded but not destroyed. Man is not totally evil as he is not totally devoid of God’s goodness and God’s promise to Cain is still in effect today.

  72. Dennis said,

    February 25, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Rooney 70,

    Yes, that is the actual position of the Church.

    There are four marks to the Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

    To be Holy would mean that:

    CCC823 “The Church . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy,’ loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.” The Church, then, is “the holy People of God,” and her members are called “saints.”

    However, the Catechism continues:

    “Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.” All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time. Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness:
    The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    So, the Church suffers and is disfigured but remains holy when people inside her do grievous things—and we are all sinners.

  73. Don said,

    February 25, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Dennis 71,
    OK, so you are claiming that when Paul writes “None is righteous, no, not one” he doesn’t actually mean nobody. That’s a rather amazing interpretation. Surely you are aware that when New Testament writers quoted Scripture (i.e., the Old Testament), they often applied the texts to situations that were not the exact same as the situations in the Old Testament. Here, Paul is taking a variety of Scriptures, originally applied to fools or whomever, and is applying them to everybody. Read on down to verse 20 if you don’t believe me.

    Anyway, your counterexample of Cain isn’t too useful, since he did not/could not act rightly. If your argument against Total Depravity hinges on God saying that Cain “can rule over it,” the translations I have checked say something like “must rule over it;” that is, it’s an imperative rather than a statement of ability. I’ll leave that to any Hebrew scholars who want to chime in.

  74. Dennis said,

    February 26, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Don 73,

    No, I think Paul believes that nobody is righteous. I think that Paul is explaining that the Jews changed righteousness from the original meaning i.e. walking with God in faith which leads to obedience to their understanding i.e. obedience to the Mosaic law. Paul is explaining to the Romans that obedience to the Mosaic law was not what leads to righteousness but rather faith in Christ (which leads us to obedience) i.e. the obedience of faith as described in Romans.

    What I do think is that when Paul says “nobody does good” it doesn’t mean that all of our works are wicked. Man’s nature is inherently good as it’s from God. It’s only when man turns away from God that he is wicked. Our nature has a tendency to choose evil over good (ie turn away from God) but we are not naturally evil as there is no evil source. Evil is merely a deprivation of good–as darkness is a deprivation of light. Darkness doesn’t exist…there is no source of darkness. You can’t make a room dark by introducing an element of darkness and you can’t make a person evil by introducing evil. You make a person evil by depriving them of goodness. Man is deprived of supernatural grace which wounds our nature but our nature (being from God) is still inherently good.

    In regards to Cain, I was using the New American Bible (NAB) translation which is sometimes criticized for it’s translation. The RSV translates it as “must rule over it” as well.

    Regardless, God has given man the capacity to “do well.” We do it the way Abel does it. Through loving God in a way that is pleasing to Him. Abel’s sacrifice was pleasing to God while Cain’s was not. We should strive to be like Abel.

  75. Ron Henzel said,

    February 26, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Dennis,

    You wrote:

    What I do think is that when Paul says “nobody does good” it doesn’t mean that all of our works are wicked. Man’s nature is inherently good as it’s from God. It’s only when man turns away from God that he is wicked.

    First of all, you blur the biblical distinction between man’s nature as originally created and man’s nature as fallen.

    Secondly, your words are impossible to reconcile with Paul’s point, which he documents from the Old Testament and expounds at length:

    10 as it is written:

    “None is righteous, no, not one;
    11 no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
    12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
    13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
    “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
    17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
    18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
    19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

    (Romans 3:10-19, ESV)

    Paul’s application of these OT citations to the entire human race is unequivocal. He does not say that we continue to be good until we turn away from God. Rather he says that we are not good because we continually turn away from God.

  76. Don said,

    February 26, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Dennis 74,
    Ron has pretty well said anything I would say regarding your ability to claim “Man is inherently good” in response to Paul’s “None is righteous.” This is basically evidence for my point back in 57, that you believe what your church tells you rather than what Scripture teaches. Nevertheless, regarding Abel:

    We do it the way Abel does it. Through loving God in a way that is pleasing to Him. Abel’s sacrifice was pleasing to God while Cain’s was not. We should strive to be like Abel.

    Yes, although maybe it depends on what one means by “loving God in a way that is pleasing to him.” Genesis 4 offers no explanation of why Abel and his sacrifice were accepted. But we know from Hebrews 11:4 (another example of the New Testament expanding upon and interpreting the Old) that it was not because Abel went through the motions of a specific act of worship, nor that Abel was inherently righteous, or that God likes animal rather than vegetable sacrifices, but because Abel’s offering was by faith.

  77. Dennis said,

    February 26, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Ron,

    First of all, congratulations on becoming a Baggins writer. I’m sure that you will do very well covering different topics of faith.

    I don’t have any problem with what Paul wrote in Romans 3. I agree with him. We are all sinners. What you all do is take it to a step that Paul doesn’t and say that man is completely wicked. He never says that. That is something that you and Don are reading into Scripture. Nowhere does it say that man is completely away from God.

    That conflicts directly with what Paul writes in Acts 17 when he says that man searches for God and sometimes finds Him. It also disagrees with him in Romans 2 when he talks about how the gentile has the law written into their hearts and how God will judge them according to their works.

    Nobody can follow the law perfectly. We are all inclined to sin. However, not everything that man does is sinful. That’s something that you are reading into Scripture.

  78. Dennis said,

    February 26, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Don 76,

    you believe what your church tells you rather than what Scripture teaches.

    You act as if this is diametrically opposed. I believe that what the Church teaches fully conforms to Scripture. I believe that where you disagree with the Church, you are wrong and you are conflicting with Scripture…ie you are misunderstanding what Scripture says.

    Genesis 4 offers no explanation of why Abel and his sacrifice were accepted. But we know from Hebrews 11:4 (another example of the New Testament expanding upon and interpreting the Old) that it was not because Abel went through the motions of a specific act of worship, nor that Abel was inherently righteous, or that God likes animal rather than vegetable sacrifices, but because Abel’s offering was by faith.

    The reason you think this is because you have a misunderstanding of what the Gospel teaches. Your gospel doesn’t revolve around loving God (which is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ) and centers around justification and thus you don’t understand what the story of Cain and Abel tells us.

    Abel’s sacrifice was more pleasing because his offering was by faith as you said. Cain’s offering was “the fruit of the land” and Abel’s offering was “the fatty portion of the firstlings of his flock.” So, comparing the two offerings, Abel gave the best of the firstborn of his flock while Cain gave God some of his harvest.

    The difference lies in the disposition of the sacrifice. Abel gave God his best while Cain gave God “stuff” God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice because it showed a sincere love for God while Cain’s showed that God wasn’t high up on his priority list. Abel’s focus was on his sacrifice to God while Cain’s focus was on what Abel was giving God. And Cain grew jealous and Cain murdered his brother…because his focus wasn’t on God.

    Abel’s sacrifice to God of his best and firstborn is a clear foreshadowing of God’s sacrifice of His best and firstborn for man.

    God wants us to be like Abel. Focused on God and giving our best to Him in faith and love. He doesn’t want “stuff” and He doesn’t want us focused on what others are giving.

    The fact that you can’t see that when you read Cain and Abel tells me volumes…and doesn’t encourage me to want to become Reformed anytime soon.

  79. rooney said,

    February 27, 2014 at 1:48 am

    Dennis 72,

    I have been told by many bloggers/commenters down the years that the CCC is not infallible and does not always represent the official views of the church, so I was actually looking for some infallible document from earlier ages expressing the view of the church being totally untainted despite being composed entirely of tainted sinners whose actions are scandalous. I have seen occasions where people say that since the CCC is not infallible, it must be measured by previous infallible documents.

    But anyway, going into the CCC:
    “The church is the holy people of God”
    >>Totally agree with that point. Just like to know if the church hold that unholy “believers” (moral heretics) are not the church?

    “Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”
    >>The word “however” seems to indicate the Church is not entirely “holy and innocent”.
    >>Who does the “always in need of purification ….. follows constantly the path of penance and renewal” refer to? The sinner or the Church?

    “This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
    >>Is the Church a living organism or a semi-living organism? It looks like its living, since it can do penance for the offenses, such as crusades, torture etc. I just want to know what those penances are that the church does.
    >>Since the Church is a living organism, does it mean that when it suffers and does penance, it refers to the true believers suffering and not the sinners suffering?

    Thanks

  80. Don said,

    February 27, 2014 at 4:14 am

    Dennis 78,

    [i said] you believe what your church tells you rather than what Scripture teaches.

    [you respond] You act as if this is diametrically opposed.

    Well, you are the one insisting we are wounded but not “dead in the trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), that our nature is wounded instead of being “by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:4). You judge if your view of woundedness is consistent with Scripture.

    Your gospel doesn’t revolve around loving God

    I’m not sure, but I think you may be saying this because in your view, loving God is what you have to do to make God happy with you. In reality, of course the gospel is about loving God, but it is not something I initiated. I suppose you know what Isaiah said about how good our righteous deed are (or “righteousnesses,” in the KJV). The gospel is not that we are supposed to do our best to love God. Instead, our love for God is a response to God loving us first (I John 4:19), while we were still sinners.

    Yeah, I’m kind of familiar with that explanation of why Abel’s sacrifice was better than Cain’s, but it’s never sounded convincing to me. Abel’s sacrifice is described positively (the firstborn, etc.) but Cain’s has no description either way. So it sort of hinges on the inference that if Cain’s offering isn’t described as good, there must be a problem with it. But I’m not sure that the lack of an adjective proves that God was not a priority to Cain, that he was offering just “stuff.” If anything, it seems that it was Cain’s idea in the first place to make a sacrifice, which should count for something. (I’m also not sure how Abel would know that the fat portions make for a good offering, since all people, at this point in the narrative, were vegetarians. Cain was sacrificing sustenance; Abel was sacrificing a source of wool.)

    Abel’s focus was on his sacrifice to God while Cain’s focus was on what Abel was giving God.

    I don’t see any textual support for the second of these claims. Per Hebrews 11, Abel’s focus was on God thru faith, but I suppose it’s fair to say that he did so via focusing on his sacrifice. Obviously Cain was mad at Abel after Cain and his sacrifice were rejected, but the text gives no indication of what Cain’s focus was before that point. Apparently Cain was not focusing on God thru faith, but to say he was focused on Abel is mere speculation.

    From 77:

    Nowhere does it say that man is completely away from God.

    That conflicts directly with what Paul writes in Acts 17 when he says that man searches for God and sometimes finds Him.

    Did I ever use a phrase like “completely away”? I believe I’ve been sticking to words like “unrighteous” and “dead” and “no, not just wounded.” Acts 17:27, as one isolated verse, is too brief to either support or conflict such ideas; this verse does not describe how men are to perhaps find him. But note that within four more verses, Paul calls “all people everywhere to repent” because of an impending final judgement.

    and doesn’t encourage me to want to become Reformed anytime soon.

    Wasn’t my goal. If you’d like a goal, then while we’re in Acts 17 I’d like you to be more like the Bereans, who did not take the Apostles’ teaching (!) unquestioningly, but instead searched the Scriptures to determine whether the teachings were true.

  81. Mark B said,

    February 27, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Don said in 80:

    ‘You judge if your view of woundedness is consistent with Scripture.”…
    ” I’d like you to be more like the Bereans, who did not take the Apostles’ teaching (!) unquestioningly, but instead searched the Scriptures to determine whether the teachings were true.”

    Don’s right of course, but a Catholic can’t do that. Scripture says what the Magisterium says that it says. An individual can’t do what Don asks and remain within the Catholic paradigm. If the position of the church is semipelagianism, no matter how many Scriptures one brings to the conversation that state the contrary (or if one quotes Agustine or another Father to the contrary), they must affirm the official position. This is one of the things that’s of the essence of being Catholic. It is impossible for Scripture to ever say anything contrary to the Magisterium, in their view, because the Magisterium norms Scripture.

  82. Dennis said,

    February 27, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Rooney 79,

    The Church is infallible when it speaks regarding faith and morals in Ecumenical Councils and when the Pope speaks ex cathedra–which has only been twice.

    The Catechism, while not infallible, does have the necessary requirements to be free of doctrinal error meaning that it has Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. In other words, using the Catechism is a perfectly legitimate reference guide to Catholic teaching.

    Additionally, the Catechism is footnoted to where the teachings can be found (e.g. Scripture, ECF, Church documents, etc.).

    Totally agree with that point. Just like to know if the church hold that unholy “believers” (moral heretics) are not the church?

    From the CCC (previously quoted):

    827 “Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.” All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time. Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness:

    The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    So, as paragraph 827 points out, there are “weeds” in the Church (per Scripture) and those weeds will be there until the end of time when God will sort out who goes into the fire and who is saved. (Matthew 13:24-40) The Church is holy and offers her teaching.

    The Catechism is also saying that these members are sinning and “prevent the radiation of her sanctity.” As Pope John Paul II says, they disfigure the Church. This is referring to people like Catholic pro abortion politicians, Pedophile Priests, bad popes, etc. Because of these public sins, people don’t see the true sanctity of the Church and the Church suffers for it.

    Is the Church a living organism or a semi-living organism? It looks like its living, since it can do penance for the offenses, such as crusades, torture etc. I just want to know what those penances are that the church does.

    The Church is the Body of Christ. It’s a “living organ of salvation” that serves the Spirit of Christ. (from Lumen Gentium 8). Continuing in Lumen Gentium 8, it says:

    Just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and persecution, so the Church is called to follow the same route that it might communicate the fruits of salvation to men. Christ Jesus, “though He was by nature God . . . emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave”,(77) and “being rich, became poor”(78) for our sakes. Thus, the Church, although it needs human resources to carry out its mission, is not set up to seek earthly glory, but to proclaim, even by its own example, humility and self-sacrifice. Christ was sent by the Father “to bring good news to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart”,(79) “to seek and to save what was lost”.(80) Similarly, the Church encompasses with love all who are afflicted with human suffering and in the poor and afflicted sees the image of its poor and suffering Founder. It does all it can to relieve their need and in them it strives to serve Christ. While Christ, holy, innocent and undefiled(81) knew nothing of sin,(82) but came to expiate only the sins of the people,(83) the Church, embracing in its bosom sinners, at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, always follows the way of penance and renewal. The Church, “like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God”(14*), announcing the cross and death of the Lord until He comes.”(84) By the power of the risen Lord it is given strength that it might, in patience and in love, overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without, and that it might reveal to the world, faithfully though darkly, the mystery of its Lord until, in the end, it will be manifested in full light.

    So, the Church does penance the way Christ did penance. Through her suffering and persecution she perseveres proclaiming Christ to everyone until the end of time. To answer your question, let’s use the pedophile priest scandal. Yes, there were pedophile priests. Yes, bishops covered it up. And for this, the Church suffers. The image of the Church has been bruised and battered and the Church needs to recover. The Church needs to resolve the situation and pray and ask for forgiveness from the vicitims. The Church needs to pray for the pedophile priests (and not put them in a situation where they can harm children). The Church (i.e. leadership in the Church) needs to punish the people involved and the Bishops who were involved in hiding the problems. Because of this scandal (and other scandals from the past), people don’t see—or choose not to see–the true beauty of the Church.

  83. Dennis said,

    February 28, 2014 at 12:17 am

    Don 80,

    I’ve looked up St. Augustine’s reference to concupiscence and original sin:

    Chapter 26.— Whatever is Born Through Concupiscence is Not Undeservedly in Subjection to the Devil by Reason of Sin; The Devil Deserves Heavier Punishment Than Men.

    This wound which the devil has inflicted on the human race compels everything which has its birth in consequence of it to be under the devil’s power, as if he were rightly plucking fruit off his own tree. Not as if man’s nature, which is only of God, came from him, but sin alone, which is not of God. For it is not on its own account that man’s nature is under condemnation, because it is the work of God, and therefore laudable; but on account of that condemnable corruption by which it has been vitiated. Now it is by reason of this condemnation that it is in subjection to the devil, who is also in the same damnable state. For the devil is himself an unclean spirit: good, indeed, so far as he is a spirit, but evil as being unclean; for by nature he is a spirit, by the corruption thereof an unclean one. Of these two, the one is of God, the other of himself. His hold over men, therefore, whether of an advanced age or in infancy, is not because they are human, but because they are polluted. He, then, who feels surprise that God’s creature is a subject of the devil, should cease from such feeling. For one creature of God is in subjection to another creature of God, the less to the greater, a human being to an angelic one; and this is not owing to nature, but to a corruption of nature: polluted is the sovereign, polluted also the subject. All this is the fruit of that ancient stock of pollution which he has planted in man; himself being destined to suffer a heavier punishment at the last judgment, as being the more polluted; but at the same time even they who will have to bear a less heavy burden in that condemnation are subjects of him as the prince and author of sin, for there will be no other cause of condemnation than sin. (On Marriage and Concupiscence, Book 1 Chap. 26)

    So, the way I’m reading it is that man’s nature which is of God is still good but wounded by the Devil. Since we are wounded, our nature is polluted and as such, we are subject to the Devil.

    I’m not sure, but I think you may be saying this because in your view, loving God is what you have to do to make God happy with you. In reality, of course the gospel is about loving God, but it is not something I initiated. I suppose you know what Isaiah said about how good our righteous deed are (or “righteousnesses,” in the KJV). The gospel is not that we are supposed to do our best to love God. Instead, our love for God is a response to God loving us first (I John 4:19), while we were still sinners.

    No. We love God because He loves us first. I don’t love God to please God. I love God because He loves me. God calls for us and we respond. We turn to God’s call in faith and we respond with love. Faith comes first, then hope and then love. All from His loving us first. I think we are in agreement on this…although I don’t hold to Sola Fide. For me, faith is our response to God’s call and our response is obedience out of love for God.

    If anything, it seems that it was Cain’s idea in the first place to make a sacrifice, which should count for something. (I’m also not sure how Abel would know that the fat portions make for a good offering, since all people, at this point in the narrative, were vegetarians. Cain was sacrificing sustenance; Abel was sacrificing a source of wool.)

    Abel is the keeper of the flock who is slain. (Another foreshadowing of Christ). Abel’s animal sacrifice wasn’t the first animal sacrifice in Scripture. It’s the second one.

    The first animal sacrifice is found in Genesis 3:21 when God sacrificed an animal to clothe Adam and Eve of their shameful nakedness. This is yet another foreshadowing of how God will sacrifice His Son to clothe the sinful Man in righteousness. Perhaps Abel knew the animal sacrifice was good because he was copying God from Genesis 3:21?

    Obviously Cain was mad at Abel after Cain and his sacrifice were rejected, but the text gives no indication of what Cain’s focus was before that point. Apparently Cain was not focusing on God thru faith, but to say he was focused on Abel is mere speculation.

    He was focused on Abel because he killed Abel. Why did Cain kill Abel? He killed him out of jealousy because God looked at him with favor and did not look at Cain’s sacrifice with favor. This made Cain angry and dejected (Genesis 4:5). Instead of fixing his relationship with God, he severed the relationship with his brother. I don’t think that’s a very big stretch or that I’m “reading that into the text.” It seems fairly obvious to me. God tells him what he as to do (act rightly) and instead, he kills his brother.

    If you’d like a goal, then while we’re in Acts 17 I’d like you to be more like the Bereans, who did not take the Apostles’ teaching (!) unquestioningly, but instead searched the Scriptures to determine whether the teachings were true.

    I think that’s a very fine goal. I believe that all people (especially Catholics) need to have a good grasp of Scripture. St. Jerome once said that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” I think something that Catholics can really learn from Protestants is to study Scripture more and to understand it. My grasp of Scripture is pretty good but like all of us, I can always learn more. Peace.

  84. Don said,

    February 28, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Dennis 83,
    For Cain, let me try to distinguish what I meant. After he and his sacrifice were rejected, then yes it’s clear that he focused on Abel–he was jealous of and violent toward Abel because Abel and his sacrifice were accepted. We agree there. But was Cain jealous of Abel before they performed the sacrifices? Was Cain and his sacrifice rejected because he was focused on Abel? Did animosity between the brothers already exist when God accepted one but not the other? I would say that there is nothing in the text (which is only five or so verses) that would let us answer these questions with any degree of certainty. In 78 you wrote “Cain’s focus was on what Abel was giving God.” I read this as a description of what was happening during the sacrifice act. If you were explaining Cain’s mindset before or during the sacrifice, that’s what I meant by reading into the text.

    So that’s that for Cain. For Augustine. Well. My first problem is that I don’t have any idea what he’s basing this teaching on. Apparently not Ephesians 2, but I don’t know what.

    A larger problem is that of all the wonderful, solid Christian teachers throughout history, Augustine would rank rather low on the people of whom I would ask marriage advice.

    But a more basic issue is that is that I suggested you compare your statements here with Scripture, and you respond with Augustine. Now, the Augustine quote is fine for defining/explaining the Catholic position, but you need to realize that to a Protestant audience, Augustine deserves respect but has no inherent authority.

  85. rooney said,

    March 1, 2014 at 8:02 am

    “The Catechism, while not infallible, does have the necessary requirements to be free of doctrinal error meaning that it has Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. In other words, using the Catechism is a perfectly legitimate reference guide to Catholic teaching.”

    I have spoken to many who say that the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur means nothing today. There was that bad K-8 kids sex education book “Growing in love”. That was approved with at least an Imprimatur.

    Furthermore, many people I have spoken to do not like the CCC, particularly the traditionalists.
    I was actually looking for something from earlier ages of the church (pre 19th century, thus tradtionalist/non-trads can agree on) that held that the church is untaintable. I want to know which century this teach was adopted by the church.

    You also quoted from Lumen Gentium. I have people telling me that Vatican II is not infallible and I have heard canon lawyers say that many documents in it are scandalous.

    “The Church is holy and offers her teaching.”
    “The image of the Church has been bruised and battered and the Church needs to recover.”

    I can agree that the church can be holy, just as any sinner can be “holy” at times.

    I just want to know the extent of this holiness. I pointed out earlier that the catechism seems to describe the church as “not entirely holy”.

    If the church is holy, but not entirely holy, that doesnt preclude the possibility that in civil affairs, it could do/command wrong, just as a sinner can lose his temper at times etc.

    Thanks.

  86. Dennis said,

    March 3, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Don,

    Sorry for the long delay in my response. It’s been a busy weekend!

    Alright…in order to understand Cain and Abel, I’ll try from this approach. Christ’s key message is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. This is central to the Gospel.

    Scripture explains that the love of neighbor is a reflection of our love for God. i.e. if your love for God isn’t correct then our love for neighbor is disordered as well.

    The story of the Fall shows how our love for God has been tarnished and it’s immediately followed by the story of Cain and Abel which shows that our love for neighbor has been distorted by the Fall. The “tiller of the ground” murders the “keeper of the flocks.” As I mentioned before, the “keeper of the flocks” is obviously a reference to Christ. The “tiller of the ground” is a reference to Genesis 3:17 and is a reference to the sinner. So, the sinner (“tiller of the ground”) murders the shepherd—the righteous one who finds favor with God (“keeper of the flocks”)–I personally find this pretty mind blowing.

    Cain’s reaction to Abel—followed by his actions shows that his relationship with God is not properly focused. The fact that he has a hatred for his brother to the point that he kills him is showing that his heart lacks charity. He’s already turned away from God to the point that his actions are showing a sinful nature. This lack of charity didn’t start after God showed disfavor with his sacrifice. It was there before. John explains that his actions were “evil”. (1 John 3:17). This is the reason why. They aren’t evil just because John says it. This is the reasoning behind it.

    Note: there was no command against killing at that point and yet God punishes Cain. He obviously punishes Cain because of Abel’s murder. Have you ever asked yourself…have you ever wondered why? I think it’s because there is still intrinsic value in man. God’s love for man is still present and there is still inherent goodness in man’s nature. If man’s nature was truly wicked, God would have abandoned us and killing wouldn’t be as egregious as it is. Yet, Cain is punished for the sin of killing Abel and regardless of how sinful Cain is, he can’t be murdered as well.

    The fact that God finds murder so egregious in Genesis 4 shows that He must still see inherent goodness in man. i.e. man cannot be fully wicked as you point out.

    In regards to Augustine, my brief cursory reading of his treatise, he’s explaining how two married baptized Christians—who have been washed away of their original sin—still give birth to a child stained by original sin. That question must have arisen and this is his response.

    His response addresses Ephesians 2:1 because before Baptism, we are “dead in our transgressions and sins.” Before Baptism, we lived followed Satan (Ephesians 2:2) and we were disobedient. Now, after Baptism, we are saved. We are washed anew. We have been washed clean of the Original Sin and by grace, we have been saved. (Ephesians 2:5).

    Augustine’s quote directly addresses Ephesians 2.

  87. Dennis said,

    March 3, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Sorry…that’s 1 John 3:12…not 1 John 3:17. A bit of a typo there.

  88. Dennis said,

    March 3, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Rooney 85,

    I have not read “Growing in Love” and cannot comment on it. From what I see on the internet, I probably wouldn’t want my child reading it—unless I review it first.

    When dialoguing with Catholics, you’ll find all kinds. There are those who lean extreme left (like Nancy Pelosi and her ilk) who think that the Catholic Church is too strict and needs to change her ways (ugh!) and then there are those who lean extreme right (like traditionalists) who think the Catholic Church is too lenient. They’re “holier than the Pope” and the Church is too lenient and needs to change her ways (double ugh!).

    Be very leery of either of these as they both are missing the point of the Church and their understanding of the Gospel may be distorted. The ideal place is orthodoxy. I’ll agree that there are likely some documents that are poorly written that contain Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur—likely by bishops who lean left. I don’t think something that has the Imprimatur of Joseph Ratzinger is something that we should be worried about.

    Regardless, you are looking for an older quote. Does the Catechism from Trent work? It was published in 1566:

    It should not be deemed a matter of surprise that the Church, although numbering among her children many sinners, is called holy. For as those who profess any art, even though they depart from its rules, are still called artists, so in like manner the faithful, although offending in many things and violating the engagements to which they had pledged themselves, are still called holy, because they have been made the people of God and have consecrated themselves to Christ by faith and Baptism. Hence, St. Paul calls the Corinthians sanctified and holy, although it is certain that among them there were some whom he severely rebuked as carnal, and also charged with grosser crimes.

    The Church is also to be called holy because she is united to her holy Head, as His body; that is, to Christ the Lord,’ the fountain of all holiness, from whom flow the graces of the Holy Spirit and the riches of the divine bounty. St. Augustine, interpreting these words of the Prophet: Preserve my soul, for I am holy,” thus admirably expresses himself: Let the body of Christ boldly say, let also that one man, exclaiming from the ends of the earth, boldly say, with his Head, and under his Head, I am holy; for he received the grace of holiness, the grace of Baptism and of remission of sins. And a little further on: If all Christians and all the faithful, having been baptised in Christ, have put Him on, according to these words of the Apostle: “As many of you as have been baptised in Christ, have put on Christ”; if they are made members of his body, and yet say they are not holy, they do an injury to their Head, whose members are holy.

  89. Don said,

    March 4, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Dennis 86,
    The allegorical applications of Genesis 4 are all well and good, but they don’t address what the narrative says about Cain’s relationship to Abel before their sacrifice. It may be fine to say that Cain serves as a type of someone who hates someone of whom Abel is the type; but this does not deal with the two actual historical people.

    The fact that God finds murder so egregious in Genesis 4 shows that He must still see inherent goodness in man. i.e. man cannot be fully wicked as you point out.

    I’m really confused how you can say this, unless you are only reading the half of the verse of I John 3:12 that says that Cain’s deeds were evil. In this very same verse, John writes that “Cain … was of the evil one.” He didn’t just do evil things. He was of the evil one. Are you saying Cain was “of the evil one” and still “inherently good”? Again, Isaiah 64:6 discusses how inherently good our righteous deeds are.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “fully wicked as you point out.” What do you mean by “fully wicked”? I’m not sure what I wrote that you are referencing.

    If man’s nature was truly wicked, God would have abandoned us and killing wouldn’t be as egregious as it is.

    It honestly makes me a little sad to see you write this. It’s as if you don’t understand the magnitude of God’s grace. God did have every right to abandon us. But he didn’t. He sent Christ to die, not for the wounded, not for the inherently good, but for the ungodly. This is Romans 5:6. This is grace.

  90. Dennis said,

    March 4, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Don 89,

    The allegorical applications of Genesis 4 are all well and good, but they don’t address what the narrative says about Cain’s relationship to Abel before their sacrifice. It may be fine to say that Cain serves as a type of someone who hates someone of whom Abel is the type; but this does not deal with the two actual historical people.

    You’re confusing allegory, types and the narrative. I’m not saying that Cain “serves as a type of someone who hates someone of whom Abel is the type…” I’m saying that Cain hated Abel. I’m saying that the real historical Cain had a distorted relationship with God and it reflected in his worship and it affected his relationship with Abel. John is also saying this in 1 John. I’m showing you the logic that John drew to come to his conclusions about Cain. Yes, Cain was of the evil one. His back was turned away from God before his worship and God was not pleased. Instead of righting his relationship with God, which is what God wanted, he murdered his brother and was punished for it.

    I’m really confused how you can say this, unless you are only reading the half of the verse of I John 3:12 that says that Cain’s deeds were evil. In this very same verse, John writes that “Cain … was of the evil one.” He didn’t just do evil things. He was of the evil one. Are you saying Cain was “of the evil one” and still “inherently good”? Again, Isaiah 64:6 discusses how inherently good our righteous deeds are.

    I’m saying that after the Fall, Abel was inherently good. However, as wicked as Cain is, God approaches him and urges him to act rightly and tells him that if he doesn’t, “sin is waiting for him.” Now, what the Apostles explain is that it’s not the “acting rightly” that really counts for God but rather it’s the disposition of the heart. It’s your faith in God that matters. Our hearts turn to God and from that inner conversion, we “act rightly” and God is pleased. Abel had the correct disposition. He acted in faith and was justified.

    It’s not the “action of worship” that saves us. Cain “performed works” but God was not pleased because his interior disposition wasn’t facing God. His faith wasn’t centered on Him. And it shows because Cain doesn’t love his neighbor. John goes on to explain that if we don’t show compassion…love for our neighbor, how can God’s love be in us. (1 John 3:17)

    I’m not sure what you mean by “fully wicked as you point out.” What do you mean by “fully wicked”? I’m not sure what I wrote that you are referencing.

    I was referring to Ron Henzel’s argument that man is morally bad and wicked. If you’re not in agreement with him then I stand corrected. Perhaps I’m not fully grasping the concept of Total Depravity but my understanding is that there is nothing good in man after the fall which I think is a misunderstanding of Scripture. The proper understanding is that Man is created very good per Scripture and after the Fall, man is still a created being and thus good albeit polluted by sin. God still yearns to be in relationship with man and still calls for him to act righteous but it’s only through Jesus Christ that true righteousness can be attained.

    It honestly makes me a little sad to see you write this. It’s as if you don’t understand the magnitude of God’s grace. God did have every right to abandon us. But he didn’t. He sent Christ to die, not for the wounded, not for the inherently good, but for the ungodly. This is Romans 5:6. This is grace.

    Well, I think I have a pretty good understanding of God’s grace and Christ’s role in my life. God accounts for everything. It’s in Christ that we are saved and it’s only through the grace of God.

  91. Ron Henzel said,

    March 5, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Dennis,

    You wrote:

    Note: there was no command against killing at that point and yet God punishes Cain. He obviously punishes Cain because of Abel’s murder. Have you ever asked yourself…have you ever wondered why?

    No, because Paul made it abundantly clear that there has always been a command against murder, because the knowledge of what God’s law requires has always been embedded in the conscience of every person.

    Paul wrote:

    14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    [Romans 2:14-16, ESV]

    In the meantime, we do not need to speculate as to why murder was evil even prior to the giving of the law, because God Himself explained it: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image,” (Genesis 9:6, ESV). So, yes, from the standpoint of creation man retains the image of God, but from the standpoint of the catastrophic moral Fall in the Garden, “…the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live…” (Ecclesiastes 9:3). Jesus Himself simply assumed this about everyone He met: “…you then, who are evil…” (Matthew 7:11).

  92. rooney said,

    March 7, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Dennis 88,

    “and then there are those who lean extreme right (like traditionalists) who think the Catholic Church is too lenient. They’re “holier than the Pope” and the Church is too lenient and needs to change her ways (double ugh!).”

    I actually think, from a neutral point of view, that the pre-Vatican II popes acted like this. Their encyclicals really use some harsh language such as “insanity” and “disgusting”.

    “I don’t think something that has the Imprimatur of Joseph Ratzinger is something that we should be worried about.”

    I have spoke to people who are telling me that some of cardinal Ratzinger’s books are less than impressive in terms of orthodoxy. For example, many have decried his book “Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Week”.

    “Regardless, you are looking for an older quote. Does the Catechism from Trent work? It was published in 1566″

    Its good to see a more ancient document. However, that document, admits itself to be quite limited. It also contradicts the institution narrative for the novus ordo mass, rendering the vast majority of modern masses invalid and just a piece of bread.

    “It should not be deemed a matter of surprise that the Church, although numbering among her children many sinners, is called holy.”

    Yes, the church proclaims itself as holy. I wanted to know what that word “holy” means in that context, whether it means perfectly holy and incapable of commanding “evil” or not entirely holy, thus capable of commanding “evil”.
    The original contention was whether it was the church or bad sinners who was responsible for scandalous acts. I am sure that it is very possible for something to be “holy” yet at times be responsible for committing horendous crimes (thus, the need, in Catholic terms, for penance). Thus, I am sure that its possible for the Church to be “holy” yet, be directly responsible for scandalous activity such as torture.
    I also see people on Youtube (like Hetman Wojtek. I would like to see what you think of his/her materials), who defend the church’s burning of heretics as correct action.

  93. Dennis said,

    March 7, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Rooney,

    I’ll watch the Wojtek video and respond to you and Ron hopefully by this weekend. It’s been a busy week!

  94. Dennis said,

    March 10, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Rooney 92,

    I actually think, from a neutral point of view, that the pre-Vatican II popes acted like this. Their encyclicals really use some harsh language such as “insanity” and “disgusting”.

    I was born in a Post Vatican II world and don’t hold to Latin Mass or Traditional Catholic views. I have no problem with these views but it doesn’t fit my personal tastes. As for Papal encyclicals using harsher language, I guess it depends on the time.

    Do you have specific quotes? It’s hard to discuss a criticism so broad.

    I have spoke to people who are telling me that some of cardinal Ratzinger’s books are less than impressive in terms of orthodoxy. For example, many have decried his book “Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Week”.

    Again, it’s hard to address such a broad statement. I have heard nothing but praise about his books and haven’t really seen any criticisms. Perhaps it doesn’t fit into the individuals view of Jesus Christ? I’m not sure. Can you be more specific?

    Yes, the church proclaims itself as holy. I wanted to know what that word “holy” means in that context, whether it means perfectly holy and incapable of commanding “evil” or not entirely holy, thus capable of commanding “evil”.

    I think the quote captures it quite well.

    The Church is holy because the Church is united to Christ. As Christ is the head and the Church is the Body, if the head is holy, then the body is holy. There are degrees of holiness as there are degrees of the word “artist.” So, some people may be holier than others but the Church itself is holy.

    The quote at the end, “As many of you as have been baptised in Christ, have put on Christ”; if they are made members of his body, and yet say they are not holy, they do an injury to their Head, whose members are holy. “

    So, if a person who is baptized into Christ does unholy things, they injure Christ with their sins (like the Romans who whipped Christ in His suffering). The Church remains holy regardless of the sins of her members.

    The Church is meant to draw people into her. She is an ark. A ship that is to guide people to Salvation. If there are people within the ark who are driving people away from her, it damages the ark but does not sink it.

    Her holiness relies on Christ.

    Regarding the Wojtek videos, I’ve watched a couple and don’t see any problems. Are there any specific ones you want me to watch that you think have any issues?


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