Daniel and the Universal Kingdom

Posted by on November 13, 2014 in Apologetics, Catholicism, Church History, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Featured, History, Protestantism, Redemptive History | 1,677 comments

Daniel 2 contains a fascinating prophecy which speaks of God’s plan to set up a Kingdom upon earth that is not of human origin and will come to cover the whole earth. Christians as far back as the Early Church Fathers have interpreted this prophecy as referring to the Catholic Church being established by Christ, expanding all over the world, and lasting forever. After reflecting upon the prophecy, I see no other plausible interpretation. Let me explain my thoughts.

Back at the Babylonian Exile, God caused the Emperor Nebuchadnezzar to have a mysterious dream which only the Prophet Daniel could explain. In verses 2:31-45, Daniel interprets the dream in some pretty plain terms.

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was of a large statue that was divided into Five Sections: the statue’s Head was made of Gold, the Chest was made of Silver, the Lower Torso was made of Bronze, the Legs were made of Iron, and the Feet were made of an Iron-Clay mix (2:31-33). Then he saw “a stone not cut by human hands” was hurled down from the sky and struck the statue at the Feet, reducing it to pieces, and this stone went on to become “a great mountain that filled the whole earth” (2:34-35).

That was the dream which Daniel was then given the task to explain.

Daniel begins by telling King Nebuchadnezzar that he and his Babylonian Empire are the Head made of Gold (2:37-38). Then Daniel says another Empire will arise, not as fancy as Gold (i.e. Silver), and this second Empire will take over and become the new world super power. After that, a third Empire, the Kingdom of Bronze will succeed the Kingdom of Silver. This third Empire will be succeeded by a Kingdom of Iron, followed lastly by a Kingdom of Iron-Clay, which signifies “a divided kingdom” (2:41), partly strong and partly weak (2:42). And it will be in the time of this Iron-Clay divided Empire that God will set up His Kingdom which will never be destroyed, and in fact will shatter all kingdoms that stand in its way (2:43-45).

It really isn’t difficult to make a coherent interpretation of what Daniel is talking about. We know from the text that the sections of the Body represent a succession of world Empires and that the clock starts with the Babylonian Empire. We also know from other parts of the Bible as well as undisputed world history that the Persian Empire came in and replaced Babylon, and after that Alexander the Great came in and replaced the Persian Empire with his Greek Empire. The next big Empire to immediately come along was the Roman Empire, which we all know was the big dog at the time of Christ. As the Roman Empire began to erode, it eventually broke into two Empires, an Eastern (Byzantine) and a Western (Latin), starting around the time of the Council of Nicaea in 325AD. It was about this time that Christianity began making huge growth in the public sphere such that we see Christianity as a force to be reckoned with among the pagan remnants. And as we know, Christianity ended up long outlasting the Roman Empire(s) and that Christianity grew and grew to spread all over the world.

For apologetics purposes, we should note that the only “candidate” that fits this prophecy/interpretation is the Catholic Church. We see how the Catholic Church was around at this time and that this is the time when the Catholic Church began to grow in influence. There is no Protestant denomination that really fits as even a possible candidate. No Protestant denomination was around at the time frame of AD300-400, and Protestantism usually explains the Reformation was necessary because the Gospel started to become more and more lost over the centuries as Catholicism grew — despite the fact this Prophecy says these “dark ages” were going to be the time when the Church really begins to spread its wings!

The only ways I see a Protestant not being indicted by this Prophecy is to try and claim a different timeline or different Empires, but this is too tall of an order to fill. For example, what succession of Empires comes close to fitting the Five that were just mentioned? And the way the timeline goes, if you start the Kingdom of God too late down the centuries, e.g. starting at the time of the Reformation, then you have to both explain away the influence of Christianity during the “dark ages” of AD400-1400, as well as explain which Protestant denomination really comes close to modeling an united heavenly Kingdom that spreads all over the world. For those Protestants who say the Church went underground all this time, that certainly doesn’t fit the description that this Kingdom would be like a huge mountain that covers the earth, an image impossible for anyone to not see!

In conclusion, any attempts to get around the plain, straightforward traditional Catholic interpretation will cause more problems than it solves, leaving the Catholic Church as the most obvious candidate of this Scriptural Prophecy.

***

END NOTE: The above apologetic also works very effectively against the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who officially teach the same succession as the above, but they say the Iron-Clay Empire represents the British-American Empire, which is when the Watchtower comes on the scene. This interpretation suffers from the flaw of leaving a 1500 year gap between the last two Empires, conveniently side-stepping the disastrous implications to JW theology. To add to this, the JW interpretation has never produced a Church that fits the description of one which will cover the whole world, putting them in a similar dilemma to any given Protestant denomination.

1,677 Comments

  1. Robert, you write:

    Aside from assuming what must be proven—that Rome is the church Christ founded and has the authority it (nominally these days) claims, this answer is incredibly naive.

    By the grace of God, you believe that your Protestant bible is the inspired, inerrant, word of God do you not?

    Don’t assume anything, just read your Protestant bible. Find the two verses in the four gospels that use the word “church”. I will even save you the trouble of finding those two verses – they are Matthew 16:18 and Matthew 18:17.

    Matthew 16:18 shows Jesus personally founding his own church and promising that the gates of hell will never prevail against it. Matthew 18:17 shows Jesus telling those that would be his disciples that they must listen to his church or be excommunicated. Start with these two verses, and use your reasoning ability follow this argument below.

    Since the gates of hell will never prevail against the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, that church must still be here on earth. And that church must be a visible church that has authorized teachers that the brethren must listen to when some dispute involving faith or moral arises among the brethren. (Think Acts 15 – the Judaizers from Jerusalem brought dispute to the local church in Antioch by preaching that the circumcision of gentile men was a matter of their salvation. That dispute was NOT settled by the local church in Antioch. Even the Apostle Paul did not have enough authority to settle the dispute once and for all. The dispute was settle by bringing the dispute to the men of the church that had the authority to settle it).

    The fact that the gates of hell will never prevail against the church that Jesus Christ personally founded means that Christ’s church must have both a two thousand year old history, and this church must also claim that it is the church that Jesus personally founded. The age criterion alone eliminates every single Protestant denomination from even being in the running as the church that a Christian must listen to.

    With every single bickering sect of Protestantism eliminated, what is left? What is left is the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. There are ways to eliminate two of these contenders using unaided human reasoning, but I won’t go into that now. My main point is that no one that believes his Protestant bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God has any business whatsoever belonging to a “bible church” founded by a Lone Ranger rebel. Less yet, does anyone that claims that the Protestant scriptures are authoritative have any reason to be a stiff-necked Lone Ranger Protestant that listens to no one but himself. Robert submitting to no man but Robert, is not Robert listening to a church with a two thousand year history.

    The wrath of God are the consequences that you bring into your life for doing things your way, when your way is not God’s way. Being a Lone Ranger is not God’s way of doing things, so the wrath of God is sure to fall down upon the Lone Rangers. I speak from experience, when the wrath of God becomes so intense that you no longer care if you live or die, then, perhaps, you will be willing to do anything to get out from being under the wrath of God … even if that means becoming a Catholic.

    The wrath of God is a severe mercy to men that are clinging to some aspect of their lives where Jesus is not yet the Lord.

    Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, `They always go astray in their hearts; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, `They shall never enter my rest.'” Hebrews 3:7-11

  2. Robert
    In other news, the Vatican has decided to do nothing about the heretical nuns in America:
    This is the institution we’re supposed to trust for our salvation, not our own reading of Scripture. It boggles the mind.

    Mikel
    Network issues with data connection affecting my ability to post. Robert and Erico, sure you don’t know anything about it.

    So lets try with the posts from Hilaire Belloc’s book “Survivals And New Arrivals” and another from G. K. Chesterton’s “The Thing”

    First from Hilaire Belloc:

    It has been denounced upon all sides and for reasons successively incompatible: it has suffered the contempt, the hatred and the ephemeral triumph of enemies as diverse as the diversity of things could produce.

    This institution is the Catholic Church.

    Alone of moral things present among man it has been rejected, criticized, or cursed, on grounds which have not only varied from age to age, but have been always of conflicting and often of contradictory kinds.

    No one attacking force seems to have cared whether its particular form of assault were in agreement with others past, or even contemporary, so long as its assault were directed against Catholicism. Each is so concerned, in each case, with the thing attacked that it ignores all else. Each is indifferent to learn that the very defects it finds in this Institution are elsewhere put forward as the special virtues of some other opponent. Each is at heart concerned not so much with its own doctrine as with the destruction of the Faith.

    Thus we have had the Church in Her first days sneered at for insisting on the presence of the full Divine nature in one whom many knew only as a man; at the very same time She was called Blasphemous for admitting that a Divine personality could be burdened with a suffering human nature. She was furiously condemned, in later ages, FOR LAXITY IN DISCIPLINE AND FOR EXTRAVAGANT SEVERITY; for SOFTNESS IN ORGANIZATION AND FOR TYRANNY; for combating the appetites natural to man, and for allowing them excess and even perversion; for ridiculously putting forward a mass of Jewish folklore as the Word of God, and for neglecting that same Word of God; for reducing everything to reason—that is, to logic, which is the form of reason—and for appealing to mere emotion. Today She is equally condemned for affirming dogmatically the improbable survival of human personality after death, and for refusing to admit necromantic proofs of it—and pronouncing the search for them accursed.

    The Church has been presented, and by one set of Her enemies, as based upon the ignorance and folly of Her members—THEY WERE EITHER OF WEAK INTELLECT OR DRAWN FROM THE LEAST INSTRUCTED CLASSES. By another set of enemies She has been RIDICULED AS TEACHING A VAINLY SUBTLE PHILOSOPHY, splitting hairs, and so systematizing Her instruction that it NEEDS A TRAINED INTELLIGENCE TO DEAL WITH HER THEOLOGY as a special subject.

    This unique experience suffered by the Church, this fact that She alone is attacked from every side, has been appealed to by Her doctors throughout the ages as a proof of Her central position in the scheme of reality; for truth is one and error multiple.

    It has also been used as an argument for the unnatural and evil quality of Catholicism that it should have aroused from the first century to the twentieth such varied and unceasing hostility.

  3. Mikel:
    “She was furiously condemned, in later ages, FOR LAXITY IN DISCIPLINE AND FOR EXTRAVAGANT SEVERITY; for SOFTNESS IN ORGANIZATION AND FOR TYRANNY”

    “FOR LAXITY IN DISCIPLINE AND FOR EXTRAVAGANT SEVERITY; for SOFTNESS IN ORGANIZATION AND FOR TYRANNY.”

    Did you get that line Robert? Have been to Church, when it appears as if the priest/pastor is talking about you? You should be getting the feeling now. Belloc is talking to you. but there is one difference. When Belloc wrote this, he didn’t have it in mind that contradictory attacks on Catholicism will come from the same entities. You have achieved that. I think this book needs a revision, to accommodate oddities like you.

    You have accused the Church of attacking defenceless people for 1500 before Luther. For the Crusades. The Inquisition, for attacking the Jansenists, etc.

    You then simultaneously attack the same Church for being too lax, too tolerant, too accommodating.

    Let me ask you this simple question. Are you experiencing any symptoms of DID, Dissociative Identity Disorder? You don’t know the symptoms? Ok. I tell you. I good people. The symptoms include thinking and behaving exactly as you are Robert.

    Anyway in your of case of DID, how many alters do you have? One? Two? Or multiples? In that case you are legion. Remarkable.

  4. Next stop, G. K. Chesterton, my main man (I am dedicating this excerpt to Erico, and all the homies who love Chesterton, despite some not having the foggiest clue what they are doing):

    Every great heretic had always exhibit three remarkable characteristics in combination. First, he picked out some mystical idea from the Church’s bundle or balance of mystical ideas. Second, he used that one mystical idea against all the other mystical ideas. Third (and most singular), he seems generally to have had no notion that his own favourite mystical idea was a mystical idea, at least in the sense of a mysterious or dubious or dogmatic idea. With a queer uncanny innocence, he seems always to have taken this one thing for granted. He assumed it to be unassailable, even when he was using it to assail all sorts of similar things. The most popular and obvious example is the Bible. To an impartial pagan or sceptical observer, it must always seem the strangest story in the world; that men rushing in to wreck a temple, overturning the altar and driving out the priest, found there certain sacred volumes inscribed “Psalms” or “Gospels”; and (instead of throwing them on the fire with the rest) began to use them as infallible oracles rebuking all the other arrangements. If the sacred high altar was all wrong, why were the secondary sacred documents necessarily all right? If the priest had faked his Sacraments, why could he not have faked his Scriptures? Yet it was long before it even occurred to those who brandished this one piece of Church furniture to break up all the other Church furniture that anybody could be so profane as to examine this one fragment of furniture itself. People were quite surprised, and in some parts of the world are still surprised, that anybody should dare to do so.

  5. To whomever quoted C2C’s following argument:

    “As the same CtC article footnoted: “One possible response here is that agape always is co-present with justifying faith, but that justification is nevertheless not dependent on the presence of agape. But if we agree that agape is always co-present with justifying faith, then there is no reason to hold imputation-but-not-infusion, and hence no reason to remain in schism over the issue.”

    Wherever Christ is, there is love. JBFA has no problem with the presence of agape. It does have a problem with justification being associated with the exercise of that love.

    We are justified through union with Christ.

    We are justified by becoming new creatures.

    We are NOT justified by what we DO as new creatures.

  6. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    We are justified through [imputed] union with Christ.
    .
    We are justified by [forensically] becoming new creatures.

    That’s what you really mean, right?

    If not, then “we must just pray that when your head’s finished turning, your face is to the front again.”

  7. Robert
    That’s a good question but largely irrelevant to the issue at hand. The issue at hand in James is what kind of faith justifies.

    Mikel
    Yeah, St. James is talking about the dead variety of faith, which as we saw has people (including St. James) showing off their dead faith, and dead faith being used to justify Abraham. You need your collective heretical, blasphemous and stupid heads lobotomized.

    Robert
    Saving faith isn’t temporary. By definition it endures.

    Mikel
    Whose definition? How did “saving” get into the equation? Have you guys not mutilated and desecrated the Bible enough? Saving faith, genuine faith, living faith, authentic faith, look-up-the-thesauraus-entry-for-“good”-faith, dead faith, dead faith that isn’t faith but a pot of cold, overnight porridge. Where the heck did all these come from?

    All faith is temporal. All hope is temporal. There is nothing like permanent faith. Faith has an expiry date. Eschaton, baby. Only love isn’t temporal. Only love by definition endures. Get your definitions untangled my guy.

    And then you guys define yourselves by what is temporal and look askance upon what is permanent. The more you look, the more the madness contained takes shape.

    Erico
    By the way, was your quotation of 1 Corinthians 13 supposed to be an adequate rebuttal to my [brilliant] counterargument? Who do you know who has “all faith” (apart from Christ)? Heck, who do you know who has a mustard seed’s worth of faith and cam actually move mountains? Anybody?

    Paul, as acknowledge by probably every single reputable exegete, is engaging in hyperbole.

    Mikel
    What does this mean? Reputable exegete? Why should the exegesis of some fellow somewhere matter to you? Can’t you privately interpret the scriptures on you own? Why would you be looking for support from some nondescript exegete?

    So St. Paul is hyperbolic? He is an alarmist? What about Christ? He is also an alarmist? Because I am sure that “the faith to move a mountain” expression is from Christ. So Christ is also hyperbolic? What about parabolic? Or even elliptical?

  8. Erico
    “All faith” appears to be an ability to perform miracles, not saving faith.

    Mikel
    So “all faith” APPEARS to be the ability to perform miracles, not saving faith? It appears? Why the hesitation? You aren’t quite sure. Lol

    Ok. So besides saving faith, true faith, authentic faith and dead faith we also now have something called “all faith” that APPEARS to be the ability to perform miracles. This guys are going to kill with laughter. So how many variants of faith do we have already? Four, five, six? What about blasphemous faith? Stupid faith, incoherent faith? Can I add these to the list of faiths?

    Erico
    (So, yeah, in that sense, someone like Benny Hinn might be described as having “faith” without love.)

    Mikel
    Is “faith” another variant too? Faith enclosed in quotation marks. Can I add it to the list? “Faith”. That will make it like, what, eight or nine variants of faith. We are getting somewhere.

    Eric
    In 1 Corinthians 13, love subsumes both faith and hope (always trusts…always hopes). Faith and hope, in some sense, are fulfilled in the eschaton and cease to exist, except as they are components of love, which is forever.

    Mikel
    Wonderful apologetics for Catholicism! Erico, are you sure you are not a closet Cat……? First with Chesterton. Now stating the aeveternity of love.

    Love SUBSUMES (nice word there, Erico) faith and love. So the man who loves (notice I didn’t use a qualifying saving, genuine, true, authentic or any of those dust raising words you fellows favour) has faith and hope? And according to you guys its faith alone that saves. But the faith alone is a component of something (love) that also just happens to also contain hope. So love contains the two other theological virtues, while faith is just standing over there “alone”. And may even be dead and transformed into a pot of cold, overnight porridge. Revealing.

    Is it St. Paul that wrote this? First that “all faith” without love is bunk. Now he is saying that faith and hope are subsets of love. What other thing did he write? Getting interesting. St. Paul.

  9. Robert:
    Paul specifically denies that we are saved by works done in righteousness. The RC answer to this is to start playing footsie with initial justification, final justification, etc

    Mikel:
    Now Robert and everyone else please listen. I am going to be serious for the next few minutes. No clowning around because what I am going to say I believe is very important.

    Now there is a way the human ego always strives to be sublime. Criminals tend to get caught because they either begin to talk too much or they appear to make a very silly mistake. Criminologist will say the criminals subconsciously want to be caught. When men commit great evil that they either hide or present to the world as good, they always leave subtle indications that point to their handiwork.

    Protestantism subliminal message of its falsehood is found in its most identifying slogan. Sola fide. Faith alone. It’s a cry from the depth of the collective conscience of the reformers that they are false. That everything they stood for is unholy. For how can the most distinguishing catch phrase of Protestantism be an expression that is directly contradicted by the Bible? Everybody, think with me here. Think. Please reflect on this.

    Sola Fide: “We are saved by faith alone”.

    James 2:26: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone”.

    Think about this. Why would the reformers use this line “Faith alone”?

    It’s like the Nicaea creed starting with: “We believe in three Gods”. No matter the explanations we give about the “three” standing for the three persons of the Trinity and about natures and about generations and spiration, the bottom line will be that we have a line in our creed that directly contradicts what the Bible says in several places. There may be a way we can explain this, but it will just be such a bizarre and unnatural thing for us to have in our creed.

    We can all see the demonstration of this extraordinary situation here and anywhere the issue of Sola fide comes up. Experience the creativity and invention that has gone into explaining how faith alone, is not exactly alone after all. All manner of qualifiers have been created to append to faith. Saving, living, true, genuine, dead. All manner of mental contortion has been attempted to explain it. Faith that is supposed to be alone, is made to suddenly develop attributes that makes it indistinguishable from love. “All faith” is now having the appearance of the ability to perform miracles. Dead faith is not faith. It is some non-faith entity. Sola Scripturarist are openly rejecting the clear and express teaching of the Bible. All because the reformers said: Sola Fide.

    This is the line the reformers decided to tow. Like I said it is visceral groan, the subconscious trying to signal the world that they (the reformers) have torn the word of God asunder.

  10. Eric said – We are NOT justified by what we DO as new creatures.

    Me – not by itself but it plays a role. If it’s as you say, why will God look at our works on judgement day? He knows our heart why does He bother assessing something that is completely irrelevant to the task at hand?

  11. Eric,

    “Wherever Christ is, there is love. JBFA has no problem with the presence of agape.”

    Yes, we’re all aware. So either you agree with Benedict’s statement and RCism that we are justified by faith formed in/conjoined with love, or you agree that you are justified by faith that is not conjoined with love but has love as a necessary byproduct. As Calvin said, “When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle.”

    “We are justified through union with Christ.”

    We’ve done this song and dance before. If the union is ontological and that justifies, then there is no need for imputation – that’s why the patristic tradition affirming theosis didn’t have extra nos forensic imputation in their orbit and why they’re criticized for holding sanctification as intrinsic to justification. Are you infused with imputed righteousness?

    “We are justified by becoming new creatures.”

    You are justified by the extra nos imputed righteousness of Christ. That’s the point of the Reformation. Your internal righteousness remains ever inchoate in this life and so can never justify.

    “We are NOT justified by what we DO as new creatures.”

    Again we see Augustine et al are gospel-denying idiots. Initial justification/restoration is unmerited in RCism. Charity is a habit in the will, one doesn’t stop having charity when they’re asleep or undergoing surgery.

  12. Eric

    Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? – St. James

  13. Jonathan–

    Each of the satsumas hanging from the tree in my back yard has its own personality: cheerful or glum, rebellious or conforming, docile or assertive, generous or stingy…all of which makes about as much sense as saying that infants have faith. Infants may have immunity (from being vaccinated) which isn’t “activated” until a pathogen decides to attack the body. But they most definitely HAVE it. It is not just a potentiality. We cannot say–just because we feel like it–that babies have language skills or encyclopedic knowledge, no matter how much potential they may have for such things. Even the Catholic version of “faith” includes notitia and assensus…things which infants are incapable of. Bricks and mortar and steel girders and glass are but the components of a building; they do not constitute a building in and of themselves.

    Genuine faith and love are united but not confused; they are not the same thing. Many a Reformed theologian will divide them for the sake of justification, which for them is merely declaratory. I side with those who believe that Union with Christ is the ground of our justification. One cannot be touched by the God who is love and not encounter love. But it is Christ’s love which is the ground of justification, not our own. It is pure gift.

    Nowhere in the Parable of the Soils does it say (or even infer) that those plants which were choked by thorns and brambles and weeds had well-established roots system or that they were in good, fertile soil. Only the crops which produce are said to be in good soil, inferring (I would think) that the others were NOT in good soil, but that they were in ground only suitable for tares. The only other possibility is that they were not tended to by the sower…. A possibility I don’t believe either of us would wish to entertain.

  14. “Criminals tend to get caught because they either begin to talk too much or they appear to make a very silly mistake. Criminologist will say the criminals subconsciously want to be caught. When men commit great evil that they either hide or present to the world as good, they always leave subtle indications that point to their handiwork.”

    Mikel, this so eerily represents Satan, a great fallen angel.

  15. Mikel,

    Faith that is supposed to be alone, is made to suddenly develop attributes that makes it indistinguishable from love. “All faith” is now having the appearance of the ability to perform miracles. Dead faith is not faith. It is some non-faith entity. Sola Scripturarist are openly rejecting the clear and express teaching of the Bible. All because the reformers said: Sola Fide.

    The whole point of faith alone is not that faith is the only virtue that Christians have. The point is that our love for God is not what justifies us. Rather, it’s his love for us.

  16. Mikel,

    Whose definition? How did “saving” get into the equation? Have you guys not mutilated and desecrated the Bible enough? Saving faith, genuine faith, living faith, authentic faith, look-up-the-thesauraus-entry-for-“good”-faith, dead faith, dead faith that isn’t faith but a pot of cold, overnight porridge. Where the heck did all these come from?

    Parable of the sower, rich young ruler, etc. etc.

    Rome by definition affirms the distinction between saving faith and non-saving faith. Dead faith is not saving in Roman Catholicism. What you all would call living faith, we refer to as saving faith. The difference between us is whether those virtues that attend faith are justifying.

    For a Roman Catholic who is supposedly able to make all sorts of fine distinctions between latria, dulia, and hyperdulia, and between condign and congruent merit, and between sufficient and efficient grace, the fact that the distinction between saving faith and non-saving faith bothers you makes no sense.

    And then you guys define yourselves by what is temporal and look askance upon what is permanent. The more you look, the more the madness contained takes shape.

    We don’t look askance on what is permanent. God gives us His own love. You guys make love temporary. You can have God’s love, but God’s not strong enough to guarantee that you’ll possess it to the end. It’s all up to you baby.

  17. Debbie–

    When you react positively to silly comments, it makes you look silly.

    I have come to expect better things from you.

    (I realize you lifted the quotation out of context to make your observation. But we all know what the context was, and it was blatantly untrue and offensive.)

  18. James–

    I had no problem with B16’s proclamation on Sola Fide as it was written. But Protestants have come to realize that Catholics often speak in coded language. As far as I am aware, he was indeed smuggling into the conversation the concept of justification partly by our grace-assisted, spirit-wrought works of agape love. And nope, we ain’t buying that. It vitiates grace.

    “Faith” in Sola Fide stands neither for our ACT of faith in believing God’s promises, nor for our being convicted of sin and repenting of it…it stands for the gift of God which brings about transformation. Gift…gift…gift…gift…gift. That’s what actual grace is…not this crap which requires our cooperation. It is not your speaking of a salvific role for “our love” which bothers us, but the ascribing of justifying power to it. Faith is inherently joined to love and vice-versa. But it is NOT faith (or love, for that matter) which justifies us. We are justified BY GRACE ALONE through faith alone on account of Christ alone for the glory of God alone. Faith is merely the means by which Christ imparts the gift.

    We hold that Catholic soteriology irretrievably dilutes the concept of Sola Gratia…in spite of lip service on its behalf.

    Righteousness is both imputed to and infused in us…just as with Catholics. And if you want to say that Union with Christ justifies, I have no major problem with that. It’s not exactly what we would say, but it’s close enough. As long as theosis is worded properly, so as to avoid breaching the Creator-creature divide, again we have no major problem. And Union with Christ is mystical as well as ONTOLOGICAL…though few Reformed will say such a thing out of fear of being confused with Catholic and Orthodox dogmas, which are so unclear and complicated that no layman could understand them in a hundred years.

    As I have said over and over again, banging my head against the wall at this point, the difference between us is mainly the permanence or lack of permanence of justification. If initial justification is impermanent, then it remains conditional, and Sola Gratia is denied by definition. If you would only accept initial permanence–and I happen to believe that Augustine did–then the rest of our disagreements melt away, no matter how many variants on sanctification might be employed.

  19. Eric,
    I did not find Mikel’s comments to be silly, buy very insightful and prophetic.
    In fact I’ll say it again, eerily so:

    “Protestantism subliminal message of its falsehood is found in its most identifying slogan. Sola fide. Faith alone. It’s a cry from the depth of the collective conscience of the reformers that they are false. That everything they stood for is unholy.
    FOR HOW CAN THE MOST DISTINGUISHING CATCH PHRASE OF PROTESTANTISM BE AN EXPRESSION THAT IS DIRECTLY CONTRADICTED BY THE BIBLE?”

    Now, I don’t blame individuals who are Protestant, just the ‘spirit’ of Protestantism. Because Eric, there will be those who cry out “Lord, Lord ….. and He will not know them. How can that possibly happen?
    These folks has been GREATLY deceived by a powerful deceiver. And deceit can only happen when it is so close to the Truth. In reality, it is the last straw that makes a man or woman choose ultimately what THEY want, what appeases their will/desire/curiosity/need/intellect/emotions etc….

  20. Mateo–

    Now, isn’t that interesting. Barren, huh?

    “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

    So, then, you believe we are justified by a barren faith? That does kind of sound like the Catholic scheme, now that I think about it.

  21. Debbie–

    It is the height of ignorance to claim that Sola Fide contradicts Scripture.

    I don’t say that your soteriology directly contradicts the Bible. I believe it is a valid interpretation. Simply a wrong interpretation (in the final analysis).

    You all reconcile Paul and James in one way, and we do so in another.

    It is very difficult to retain respect for a theological system that we don’t believe in, but we must make the effort. I earnestly apologize for those times when I have fallen short.

  22. Debbie–

    Let me ask you this. One of the other Reformation “solas” is Solus Christus (justification on account of Christ alone).

    Is this “sola” also contradicted by Scripture?

    It means virtually the same thing as Sola Fide (JBFA does NOT refer to our acts of faith alone, but to the fact that faith is a free gift or grace from Christ alone.)

  23. Over and over and over again. I have no idea what you’re reading. You seem to be confusing the Calvinist misuse and misunderstanding of the passage with what Augustine actually said.

    Sorry, but those bolded quotes from Enchiridion don’t say anything of the sort. The section specifically says that both God and the evil son willed the death of the father. They will it in different ways, to be sure, but there’s nothing in there about “God wills to uphold the freedom of the evil son but does not will the death of the father.”

    But in any case, even in the scenario where God is willing to uphold the freedom, you still have what the Reformed would call the distinction of the perceptive and decretive wills. Because if God is going to condemn the evil son even as He wills to preserve his freedom, that’s almost exactly what Calvinists are talking about. God decrees (decretive will) to allow an act that he hates (precept).

    O’Malley: “Luther died the year before the decree was ratified. How well did it meet his challenge? … Surely, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification agreed to by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church in 199, which laid out areas of agreement and disagreement four hundred years after Trent, is a landmark in attempts to answer such questions.”

    I’m not sure how this is releveant.

    O’Malley also identified three basic principles of the decree on justification. One was that Catholicism was not Pelalgian, which wasn’t aimed at Protestantism except perhaps by way of reply.

    Since it was the Reformers who, rightly or wrongly, were accusing Rome of Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism, the decree was most definitely against Protestants.

    The next was that justification was not the result of human striving but nonetheless contributed to it, which might have been a backhanded repudiation of Protestantism, but which could have just as easily been a point of agreement as in the JDDJ.

    “The ink was hardly dry on the document when, despite its careful language, disputes broke out among Catholics about how to interpret it. Only a few decades after the close of the council the first major instance of disagreement burst to the surface in the so-called De Auxiliis controversy between the Jesuits and the Dominicans in Spain. That conflict served as a prelude to the bitter, prolonged, and destructive conflict between the Jesuits and the Jansenists, centered in France but with
    repercussions across Catholic Europe. The Jesuits accused the Jansenists of being Calvinists, and the Jansenists accused the Jesuits of being Pelagians. These conflicts show the limitations of the written word, especially when it touches on matters of deep personal concern— and most especially when it is the product of a committee.For all Trent’s insistence on the determining role of grace in justification and for all the later success of the Jansenists, it seems clear that what to a considerable extent prevailed in post-Trent Catholicism was a persuasion that doing one’s best was a prerequisite for God to give his grace. Catholics in their own view and in the view of their enemies stood for “good works.”

    Apparently Roman Catholics didn’t understand their own council until JDDJ.

    The last was that the human will was weakened but not destroyed by the Fall, and again, that grants to Protestant concerns almost as much as it denies.

    No it doesn’t. Not at all. It doesn’t grant Calvin or Luther’s concerns. It doesn’t grant the concerns of the great Protestant confessions.

    You’ve got nothing. Trent was self-consciously responding to Protestantism in its decree of justification, and in so doing mischaracterized Protestantism at several points. So much for ecclesiastical infallibility.

    See, the thing is, I don’t think you read these books any more than you read Augustine or you read my posts for that matter. You just see what you want to see, which is somehow always “Catholics wrong! Bad Catholics!”

    This from a man who takes one comment and twists it into Nestorianism on the part of Calvinists.

    He didn’t say that, and I never said that he did. What he said was that it doesn’t matter whether their reading is reasonable in the grammatical-historical sense, because the only relevant sense of Scripture is the ecclesial scope. In other words, if you read Scripture in conflict with the Tradition, then you aren’t reading Scripture as Scripture.

    Discourses against the Arians 3.28:?Now what has been briefly said above may suffice to show their misunderstanding of the passages they then alleged; and that of what they now allege from the Gospels they certainly give an unsound interpretation , we may easily see, if we now consider the scope of that faith which we Christians hold, and using it as a rule, apply ourselves, as the Apostle teaches, to the reading of inspired Scripture. For Christ’s enemies, being ignorant of this scope, have wandered from the way of truth, and have stumbled Romans 9:32 on a stone of stumbling, thinking otherwise than they should think.
    In other words, in Athanasius’s opinion, Scripture tells us that Scripture is to be interpreted according to the scope of the Catholic faith.

    And actually, I agree with Athanasius. The issue is that the scope of the faith in the early church almost always amounts to the Apostles Creed. That was certainly the case before Athanasius.

    Robert, you’re either dumb as a fencepost or slavering with anti-Catholic hatred if you can’t take the point, and it’s a sad comment on the state of your discourse that I honestly can’t tell which one is the case. Lord have mercy!

    The point isn’t whether people can be right or wrong about individual things. The point is that Athanasius completely rejects your position on Scriptural authority. As I said above, he thinks that Scripture teaches to follow the ecclesial scope in interpreting Scripture. In other words, he thinks Scripture doesn’t teach sola Scriptura. Could he be convinced that Paul got it wrong? Sure, he would just have to deny Scriptural inerrancy in order to do it, just as you could be convinced that Romans is a complete forgery and that it shouldn’t be in the canon of Scripture or you could be convinced that Jesus didn’t exist or wasn’t raised from the dead or that the Apostles were all charlatans. Do I get to now say that you would actually support atheism, because you might have gotten these individual things wrong?
    This is idiotic and specious reasoning. We have no idea what Athanasius might do in a manifestly ridiculous counter-factual situation, and that is in no sense legitimate historical reasoning. What we do know, for certain, is that he actually rejected sola Scriptura centuries before Protestants even existed.

    Whoa, you’re the one who told me that Augustine would have wanted to be corrected on the issue of the massa damnata. So you’re either guilty of idiotic and specious reasoning as well or you are applying standards to thee that you don’t apply to me. I’m going with the latter reason because it is your modus operandi. One set of standards for non-Protestants; one set for Protestants.

    Protestantism historically agrees that Scripture should be read within the ecclesial scope (the rule of faith). The question is, what constitutes the rule of faith. Again, it’s the Apostles Creed. Which, by the way, is all found in Scripture.

    Sola Scriptura does not mean don’t read Scripture within the ecclesial scope. If you are going to complain about me supposedly not reading what you are saying, you could at least bother to understand what sola Scriptura teaches.

    By the way, Athanasius speaks of the sufficiency of Scripture:

    Vainly then do they run about with the pretext that they have demanded Councils for the faith’s sake; for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the proceedings of the Fathers, for the Nicene Bishops did not neglect this matter, but stated the doctrine so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but be reminded by them of the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture. (De Synodis 6)

    He treats Nicea as almost irrelevant. IF a council be needed…

    The Catholic Christians will neither speak nor endure to hear any thing in religion that is a stranger to Scripture; it being an evil heart of immodesty to speak those things which are not written.
    (Athanasius, Exhort. ad Monachas)

    Sounds to me like he would have wanted to be corrected if he could be convinced that a portion of the ecclesial scope was wrong and not derived from Scripture. But wait, a Protestant is saying this, so it must be wrong. But you can say it about Augustine and you are right. Incredible.

    And it gets even worse for you. Was Athanasius a faithful Christian, or not? If he was, then he could only be so by the illuminating grace of the Holy Spirit revealing the Gospel to him. That Gospel, according to you, says that works cannot contribute in any sense to our salvation. Athanasius denied this and believed that works did contribute to our salvation (and that eternal life was a reward for works). So how does a Biblically literate, faithful Chrisian led by the Holy Spirit deny the Gospel and actively spread a false Gospel, a Gospel that is, by the way, exactly identical to the account of salvation taught at Trent?
    What you’re saying is so insane at this point that it hurts my head even to reply to it. Forget defending Catholicism; you don’t even understand your own position or what arguments you would need to make to present a case for it. If you can’t even coherently say what your position is, which is what Mateo and Mikel have been saying to you for days on end, then why do you even pretend that your position is rational?

    Depends on what you mean by salvation. As is typical of most Protestants, when I speak of salvation in that context, I’m talking about justification. Even Calvin had a place for works contributing to or leading to salvation. Trent specifically denies the Protestant tenant that our works play no part in our justification. To say that it is exactly what Athanasius believes presumes an awful lot.

    No, Robert, the approach I am taking is that if Athanasius tells us how he determines what is apostolic, then we can’t just make up imaginary scenarios about what his approach might have been, particularly when we have exorbitant evidence about what his approach was. Your disagreement with his approach is not a license to rewrite history.

    Except that he says that one should not believe anything not taught in Scripture.

    I’m not rewriting history. You are assuming that Athanasius would have to entirely reject the notion of the ecclesiastical scope of Scripture being what is Apostolic to become a sola Scriptura adherent. That’s false. It’s certainly not what the Reformers taught.

    Athanasius’ understanding of the ecclesial scope of Scripture is and what it means not what you think it is. If it were, he could not have resisted the Arian councils. If councils are infallible, they determine the ecclesial scope of Scripture.

    Evidently, according to Romanism, Athanasius was able to be wrong about some portions of the ecclesial scope of Scripture and still be orthodox. He doesn’t know anything of the final infallible and jurisdictional authority of the papacy. And yet I as Protestant can’t say something similar. The Great Reformed confessions all speak in various ways of the ecclesial scope of Scripture. I don’t disagree that Scripture is determined in an ecclesial context. It depends on what one means by that.

    Capitalism came out of secular Dutch culture, and religious and political freedom came out of massive social pain from Catholics and Protestants trying to kill each other for lots of years, thereby destroying any kind of faith in Christendom (kind of like how World War I destroyed people’s faith in Western society). The reason it went to the secular version, as opposed to a more developed version of past Christian empires, was Protestantism. The Reformation produced the kind of religious freedom that now runs rampant, where Christianity is excluded from the public square entirely, where the market has replaced (or assimilated) church, and where one is free to pursue whatever perversity one likes as a matter of right. That is the freedom of your Calvinists, not the Christian freedom that men had during centuries of Christendom. Your Reformation destroyed Christian society, and no matter how bad the Popes may have been from time to time, it was never as bad as the moral cesspool that your Reformation built.

    Oh my goodness. Are you mad? Yes, the pre-Reformation period is KNOWN for religious and political freedom. The popes and monarchs NEVER went after heretics. If I lived in pre-Reformation Europe, I would have been subject to torture and murder. Your railing against one’s freedom to pursue “whatever perversity one likes” demonstrates that all us Protestants would be dead if people like you were in charge, since you view Protestants as holding to perverse doctrine.

    And for all your ranting and railing here, your modern RCC is all about religious freedom that is virtually indistinguishable from Protestant notions, having transformed itself at V2.

    Catholicism didn’t produce the Nancy Pelosis of the world, who disrespect ecclesial authority and all kinds of guidance in favor of secularism. Your Reformation did.

    You’re just wrong When was the last time Rome did anything about those who fail to support their authority or who promote radical secularism even while being devout RCs. Oh wait, you said that wasn’t necessary anymore because everybody has access to information now. Please. That’s a total cop-out. Rome didn’t fail to excommunicate people in the past who had a lot of information. It didn’t help Luther or the Jansenists. Rome produces Nancy Pelosis by its failure to take what it believes seriously enough to discipline those who, if you read things in historical context, are on their way to hell.

    RC theology produced Nancy Pelosi. If one is to trust the judgment of the fathers on all matters, she is entirely correct to note that the tradition does not uniformly teach that life begins at conception.

  24. Debbie–

    And how do you know that it is WE who are the ones deceived? If Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (and if an angel of light, then certainly an apparition of Mary), then obviously one can buy into that which is spiritually untrue. Big old fancy-shmancy church, ancient intricate liturgy, grandiose claims of infallibility–I can see where one could get snookered by Rome.

  25. Eric,
    Being the last week before Christmas, I don’t have a huge amount of time, but this 9 minute video says ROUGHLY what I meant by my comments.
    It’s titled,
    Christ’s Meaningless Words; so how much did Jesus say that doesn’t really matter?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IeO6zNR1Bk

  26. Eric,

    “into the conversation the concept of justification partly by our grace-assisted, spirit-wrought works of agape love. And nope, we ain’t buying that. It vitiates grace.”

    Works of agape can only come into play in ongoing/progressive justification, not initial justification/translation into righteousness. It no more vitiates grace than your grace-assisted works in progressive sanctification vitiates grace.

    A faith formed in charity expresses itself in charity; if it never did it would not be a faith formed in charity. So either you agree with Benedict’s statement (and Trent that “this takes place in that justification of the sinner, when by the merit of the most holy passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of those who are justified and inheres in them; whence man through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives in that justification, together with the remission of sins, all these infused at the same time, namely, faith, hope and charity. For faith, unless hope and charity be added to it, neither unites man perfectly with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body.”) and that charity makes faith living, or agree that justification is by faith apart from charity although it necessarily follows faith.

    “[faith] stands for the gift of God which brings about transformation.”

    Benedict: “Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into his love.”

    From Heckel’s article linked earlier: “…the [JD] agreement even adopts the sola fide formula: “Justification takes place ‘by grace alone’ (JD 15 and 16), by faith alone, the person is justified apart from works (Rom. 3:28; cf.JD 25).” While the Joint Declaration speaks of “faith active in love,” like Regensburg it clarifies, “But whatever in the justified precedes or follows the free gift of faith is neither the basis for justification nor merits it.”

    “That’s what actual grace is…not this crap which requires our cooperation.”

    Lovely. I guess your progressive sanctification is crap. I guess when you give a gift to your wife that she has to I dunno ACCEPT that is crap and mocks your gift. I guess Augustine’s notions of cooperative grace is crap. I guess there was no synergism in Christ and monothelitism and monoenergism is orthodoxy and the 6th ecumenical council is crap.

    “It is not your speaking of a salvific role for “our love” which bothers us, but the ascribing of justifying power to it.”

    So you don’t agree with Benedict that sola fide is correct “if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love.” You agree with Calvin that “When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle.”

    “We are justified BY GRACE ALONE”

    No RC disagrees. Nor did Augustine in his teaching of being justified by faith formed in love and meriting eternal life as the Heckel article points out in sections on sola gratia – for example citing John Burnaby, “Fresh accents in the Reformation understanding of justification as by faith alone (sola fide), not simply grace alone (sola gratia), fundamentally challenged Augustine’s transformationist thinking.” Grace alone does not necessitate Protestant sola fide as you presume. A denial of grace alone leads to Pelagianism, but obviously Augustine and followers were not Pelagians or SPs but felt no problem with being justified by faith formed in love and meriting eternal life.

    “Righteousness is both imputed to and infused in us…just as with Catholics.”

    Only Catholics don’t hold to extra nos forensic imputation. That’s why you don’t see the Horton cartoon at judgment in our catechisms.

    “And Union with Christ is mystical as well as ONTOLOGICAL”

    So why the need for ongoing extra nos imputed righteousness? Why the tomes written about your infused righteousness is always inchoate this life and so cannot withstand God’s judgment? Are you only united to a “little bit of Christ” and his alien imputed righteousness makes up the deficit?

    “If initial justification is impermanent, then it remains conditional, and Sola Gratia is denied by definition.”

    Not “by definition” in the slightest. Which remains your problem, a problem none of the patristic tradition had in affirming both doctrines.

    “If you would only accept initial permanence–and I happen to believe that Augustine did”

    Augustine: “It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children–whom He has regenerated in Christ–to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also.” (On Rebuke and Grace)

  27. Erico
    When you react positively to silly comments, it makes you look silly

    Mikel
    And when you react negatively to a positive response to a comment that you swore never to respond to how does it make you appear? Spineless, timorous, pusillanimous, limp, shifty, two faced?

    Told you I aint someone you can ignore. My rhymes are too tight. My flow too smooth. When I lyrically wax my beat, you have no option than to nod, tap, shuffle, move to the right, move to the left, never mind your creaking arthritis.

    I am taking ownership of all the posts you directed to Debbie. They are directed to me now. And you know what that means, don’t you? You know what is coming your way Erico? But not today. You getting yours tomorrow. Long day at work. Got to unwind now. Night club. You ever did that Erico? Doubt that. Must be one of the conditions on your election card. No clubbing. Yuck!

    By the way have you done anything about the Mephistopheles signature on your card?

    Alrighty. Gat to go now.

  28. Debbie–

    Out of respect for you, I listened to all nine minutes. Please don’t provide with a link again unless you have prescreened it. Nine minutes of my life, totally wasted by the rantings of a man who calls for honesty and then proceeds to misrepresent and misrepresent and misrepresent.

    I absolutely HATE it when Evangelical or Reformed “talking heads” embarrass the whole movement. You should have enough respect for your own beliefs to do the same. Move on to Catholic teaching with more substance and integrity. It must be out there somewhere.

  29. James–

    I like this line of yours:

    “A faith formed in charity expresses itself in charity; if it never did it would not be a faith formed in charity.”

    That’s a very Reformed thing to say. Those who are baptismally regenerated in the Catholic Church may never possess a faith formed in charity; and if not, they were never “of” us. Regeneration for the Reformed includes the gift of perseverance. It also includes the concept of election. That’s why quotes from Augustine downplaying “regeneration” are meaningless. He’s not talking about the same thing. When he speaks of election, it is fixed and irrevocable. It is not in the slightest detail conditional. Compare apples with apples.

    You all use a paradox to justify the smuggling of works’ righteousness into the salvation process. I’m sorry, but to me, that’s just flagrant self-justification. You want to have your cake and eat it, too.

    By no means do you believe in GRACE ALONE. According to Trent, the formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation.

    In other words, individual effort is involved. One does not work for that which is free…else it is called “wages.”

    I’ll have to answer in brief bursts. The natives are restless!!

  30. Eric,

    When Mikel wrote “I am going to be serious for next few minutes. No clowning around because what I am going to say I believe is very important ….. Everybody, think with me here. Think. Please reflect on this.”

    I did. And it stirred me to write, mainly because it turned my brain a tad off the beaten path I was on today and inflamed my soul with a fullness of love that goes way beyond sola anything.

    I’m flattered (?,!, zzz, *) that you come to expect better things from me and I seriously doubt I am at the height of ignorance (I can say that with assurance because I’ve been much higher).

    My frustration with responding to you directly is that when you say ‘we’ I don’t know who ‘we’ is. When I say ‘we’ you know exactly who ‘we’ is because I’m one of the ones snookered by Rome and able to partake in the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord.

    My whole point is that sola fide, sola everything ……. there is no such thing.

    PS When you, a linguist, a sola anything person says, “it means virtually the same thing” to debate YOUR point (not a ‘we’ point) a red flag goes up because Eric, I expect much more from you.

  31. James–

    “Extra nos” just means “outside ourselves,” so-called because it points to Christ, whom you don’t appear to like too very much. Initial justification in Catholicism is first through imputation, which is extra nos, and secondarily through infusion, which is likewise extra nos. Our righteousness, even for Catholics, does not become inherent until faith is exercised in good works.

    When I give a gift to my wife, I don’t require her to get a job on the side to reimburse me for part of the cost.

    Heckel seems to believe that at Regensburg the Catholic negotiators gave away the store. I’ve never heard that. From everything I’ve heard the Protestants were willing to compromise on a form of double justification (which was also debated at Trent, but discarded). Anglo-Catholics still hold to a variant of this.

    The reason for imputation, concurrent with Union with Christ, is that a permanent union before our perfection REQUIRES imputation. But once again, a permanent union, where Christ attaches himself to us rather than vice-versa, resolves the problems between us. Speaking of the need to “add” hope and charity to faith sounds like self effort to me.

  32. James–

    Here is your Augustine quote in context, where it is clear that what he is addressing is the mystery of why some children of believers leave the faith…and why some children of unbelievers embrace the faith. He didn’t mean what you thought he did (and just a few chapters before, he spoke of the unchangeable and meritless nature of election). He holds to the permanence of justification in how Protestants speak of regeneration: conversion not baptism.

    “It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children— whom He has regenerated in Christ— to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also, when to children of another He forgives such wickedness, and, by the bestowal of His grace, makes them His own children. Who would not wonder at this? Who would not be exceedingly astonished at this? But, moreover, it is not less marvellous, and still true, and so manifest that not even the enemies of God’s grace can find any means of denying it, that some children of His friends, that is, of regenerated and good believers, departing this life as infants without baptism—although He certainly might provide the grace of this laver if He willed, since in His power are all things—He alienates from His kingdom into which He introduces their parents; and some children of His enemies He causes to come into the hands of Christians, and by means of this laver introduces into the kingdom, from which their parents are aliens; although, as well to the former infants there is no evil deserving, as to the latter there is no good, of their own proper will. Certainly, in this case the judgments of God, because they are righteous and deep, may neither be blamed nor penetrated. Among these also is that concerning perseverance, of which we are now discoursing. Of both, therefore, we may exclaim, O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments!” Romans 11:33

  33. Eric,

    I clicked on this blog this morning just to see what is happening. I have been using up my blogging energy over on James Swan’s lately and think I will go back there after seeing your comment.
    This has been dragging on for years now. You arrogantly speak as if you know Catholicism. I am convinced you don’t understand Arminianism or Calvinism either.
    You are babbling about Regensburg as if you were one of the insiders there. You are such a pompous name dropper.

    What in the hell does this mean?
    ” Our righteousness, even for Catholics, does not become inherent until faith is exercised in good works.”

    I can’t bring myself to set you straight on this bone-headed nonsense as I would be talking to a wall, an arrogant “know it all” wall.

  34. Eric,

    What the hell is wrong with me? What gets into me? Why do I have to be such an old Scrooge?
    I forgot to wish you a Merry Christmas.
    After my nasty post, I went merrily back into the kitchen and got busy baking my delicious spiced apple cake for my wife to take to the orchestra tonight so she can spread holiday cheer with her cronies after the concert.
    I started thinking about spiced wine, Santa, snow men, spiced wine, Bethlehem, spiced wine and you. I repent of my hasty comment above.
    God made you the wonderful, irritating, pretentious stuffed shirt that you are. And you have given me hours of blogging pleasure over the months. You are never going to change. And why should you? You are perfect just the way you are, one of a kind, an unrepeatable work of God’s art.
    Now back to baking.

  35. Jim is the master of disambiguation. What would we do without him ? He was baking at the foundation of the earth.

  36. Merry Christmas to all and peace on earth to people of good will!

    Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God
    was born of the most pure Virgin Mary,
    at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.
    In that hour vouchsafe, O my God,
    to hear my prayer and grant my desires for your children to be one
    through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ,
    and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

  37. @Eric:
    Robert’s nonsense will take a much longer post, but your error is refuted simply.

    Chap. 21 [IX.]—Instances of the unsearchable judgments of God.

    Therefore, of two infants, equally bound by original sin, why the one is taken and the other left; and of two wicked men of already mature years, why this one should be so called as to follow Him that calleth, while that one is either not called at all, or is not called in such a manner,—the judgments of God are unsearchable. But of two pious men, why to the one should be given perseverance unto the end, and to the other it should not be given, God’s judgments are even more unsearchable. Yet to believers it ought to be a most certain fact that the former is of the predestinated, the latter is not. “For if they had been of us,” says one of the predestinated, who had drunk this secret from the breast of the Lord, “certainly they would have continued with us.” What, I ask, is the meaning of, “They were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would certainly have continued with us”? Were not both created by God—both born of Adam—both made from the earth, and given from Him who said, “I have created all breath,” souls of one and the same nature? Lastly, had not both been called, and followed Him that called them? and had not both become, from wicked men, justified men, and both been renewed by the laver of regeneration? But if he were to hear this who beyond all doubt knew what he was saying, he might answer and say: These things are true. In respect of all these things, they were of us. Nevertheless, in respect of a certain other distinction, they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they certainly would have continued with us. What then is this distinction? God’s books lie open, let us not turn away our view; the divine Scripture cries aloud, let us give it a hearing. They were not of them, because they had not been “called according to the purpose;” they had not been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; they had not gained a lot in Him; they had not been predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things. For if they had been this, they would have been of them, and without doubt they would have continued with them.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/PATRISTC/PNI5-12.HTM

    St. Augustine says explicitly that both of the pious men were justified, renewed, regenerated and made righteous from wickedness. Yet one fell away. There’s no way that can be twisted into what you are suggesting. He is talking about completely regenerated and converted souls later being led into temptation and falling away.

  38. Debbie
    Mikel, this so eerily represents Satan, a great fallen angel.

    Mikel
    Debbie, who do you think is the architect behind the reformation? You think its Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, Zwingli, etc.

    These individuals are just agents, a conduit for the plan of the Arch fiend. They were just carrying out an arrangement prepared for them. Think of this. In what other way could Satan have attacked the Church, that has not happened to Christendom since the reformation?

    Heresy as you rightly explained Debbie, is not something completely different from the truth, at least not at first. Even fallen man can recognize something that is totally different from what they used to believe and the greater percentage of them will reject it. But present something that adulterates the truth with falsehood, with the falsehood appealing to men rationalizing tendencies, and you are guaranteed to convince more people. Because a heresy is not a lie or falsehood. It is a part of the truth that has been uprooted from its place in the Churches balance of mysteries, and promoted to the exclusion of the other truths. It is the result of finite man trying to explain an infinite God. That is why one attribute of heresies is that the theology that develops from them, tend to be, at first glance, simpler than orthodoxy. It’s why it always lends itself to one line slogans, like the Solae of Protestantism.

    So Calvinism for example takes the Sovereignty of God from all the truths of Catholicism and, ignoring or rejecting the balancing truth of that mystery, the Free Will of Man (and also the other attributes of God such as Mercy, Holiness, Justice, Love, etc) proceeds to build an entire body of theology on it. It appears at first look to be much simpler than trying to balance the foreknowledge of God and free will of man. But exactly therein is the heresy.

    The Arians tried to make the mystery of the Trinity accessible to human reason, and made Jesus a created being. Same with the other Trinitarian heresies. Simpler. Also very heretical. Docetism, Nestorianism simplified the hypostatic union mystery. And created heresies. Gnosticism, Marcionism, Manichaeism and Albigensian were all simplifying attempts to explain the problem of evil as contrasted with a good God. Marcionism was so simplifying that it even simplified the scriptures, removing the entire Old Testament and most of the New Testament, whilst promoting the Pauline Epistle above even the Gospels (exactly what our separated brethren do). All are heresies. It’s been the same with every heresy.

    One of the ways to easily identify a heresy, is simply to look at all the heresies that the Church has condemned. You will find one that is the direct opposite of the current one in question. Calvinism for examples, removes man’s free will from the equation. If we go through the Church’s record, we find Pelagianism, that elevated the same man’s free will above all else. Calvinism is the heretical counterpoint or over compensation for Pelagianism.

    So Satan’s trick is to present falsehood mixed with the truth, excites men’s heart to it, and then sit back and watch as men complete the job for him.

    Let’s go on a thought process here. Robert is always in the habit of saying there was something called “Western stream” of Christianity that split into two branches, birthing Catholicism and Protestantism. Let’s agree, for the sake of this process, with him on that queer theory of his. Now let’s compare this Robert’s theory to how “Old” Judaism “split” and birthed Christianity and “New Judaism”. Again let’s liken Catholicism to “New Judaism”, the bad guys and Protestantism to Christianity, the good guys.

    Now let’s compare the lives of reformers to the early Christians, since both of them were involved in the start of something different from before. As the early Christians were locked in an early battle with Judaism, so let’s imagine Protestantism was locked in an early battle with Catholicism. Now compare the men who called themselves the reformers to the Apostles and early Christians. Compare their lives. Debbie have you tried reading about the lives and writings of the reformers, Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, Zwingli? Any sustained reading of the lives of these men will reveal them to be cruel, vicious and highly dangerous men. Where the early Christians were persecuted and killed, the reformers were the ones persecuting and killing anyone that dissented from them. Where the early Christians lived exemplar lives, you would think twice about inviting the reformers into your house even if there was a hurricane outside. I am not sure I would even allow them into the flea infested dog house. They were vile, dreadful men who hated each other, hated Catholics, hated mankind and uttered such blasphemous theories that a closer look will tell you that they also hated God.

    These are the men, who are being presented as an equivalent to the Christianity building men of the early Church. Show me one place where the early Christians even retaliated against the persecutions they suffered for centuries? Show me one place where they cursed and swore at anyone? Look at the writings of the reformers. It’s full of vituperations, coarse and depraved words, disgusting use of fecal expressions and open blasphemies against God.

    Come to Africa and see the handiwork of Protestantism manifesting itself in the highly materialistic Pentecostals. Robbing the already impoverished masses blind, promoting atavistic and society destroying teachings, and taking advantage of the socio economic situation of the people. The legacy of the reformers to the third world. I believe for you guys in the West it is the pernicious and society killing contraception culture that Mr. Robert so proudly acclaim. Jim, sometimes ago, posted an excellent article about the malignant effect of contraceptives on the western culture and the lies that have been generated, propagated and fostered on the world just to sustain and promote the culture of contraceptives. Jim, do you still have that article? I can’t find where you posted it again. I wouldn’t mind your reposting it again.

    I posted a quote earlier from Johannes Janssen, the author of a 16-volume history of Germany during “Reformation” times. Here is what he wrote about the reformers and their offshoots:
    “The Protestant sects derided each other in just as immoderate and undignified a way as they one and all derided the papacy . . . Cursing and blaspheming were as frequent as praying was rare.” (111;v.16:4-5)
    ———————————–

    These guys didn’t come to do anything even remotely resembling God’s work. They all, without an exception are spawns of the Devil.

  39. Look at Robert and Eric. Do they seem like they are interested in the truth? They are only concerned with attacking the Church. And they are ever ready to use any means in that quest, including lying, fabricating stories, rewriting histories and coming up with all manner of wild theories.

    See what Robert attempted to do with the story about the reformed being the first Christians to introduce religious tolerance to America. If I hadn’t coincidentally been looking at the very page of a material that said the very opposite, his lies would have stood and he would have appeared to be telling the truth. When I brought the truth to his attention, what was his response? “My bad. I forgot”. And then he went on about Lord Baltimore being a rebel and such nonsense.

    Witness his byzantine theory about “Western stream” of Christianity and that Catholicism started after the Council of Trent. How can he say Catholicism started after Trent and then turn around and accuse Catholicism of the Crusades, the Inquisition and openly saying here that Roman Catholics have been attacking defenseless people for 1500 years before Luther? 1500 before Luther is the first century AD, the time of the early Church. When I confronted him with this, he said something about the legacy of the western Church being his own as well, but that as he didn’t claim an infallible Church, it was ok for him (listen to this) to use what is his legacy to mock, deride and ridicule Catholics, because Catholics believe the Church is infallible. I mean what level of abject stupidity will allow a full grown man think like that? In what world does that even make the slightest sense?

    Did you see what Eric tried to do with Chesterton? Picked up a line from a book of Chesterton that appeared at first glance to support his crazed “Lone Rangerism” personal model of Christianity and immediately used it against Catholicism. “Here is one of your most celebrated guys, and he too was a “Lone Ranger”. When I told him that he was heading for Australia by boring straight down, he double down on his claim, even though he hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. Started talking about paradigm shift, etc.

    I once said something about Green Baggins being anti-Catholic and the difficulty of finding any Calvinist blog that will tolerate any form of dissenting voice as CCC has allowed Robert, Eric and his wolf pack. Mr. Eric immediately accused me of lying against the blog, that he had done a check of the blog and there were reams and reams of respectable, give and take discourse, with no ad homines. And that I was the first and only person to make such a comment. When I showed blog post from Green begins where Jason Stellman himself was being called a liar and a thief, and a post from a Protestant posting at CTC, complaining about the vitriolic and intolerant nature of some of the posters on GB, what did our Eric do? Nothing. He just kept quiet, because the evidence was just too clear that he was a stupid and idiotic liar. He just moved on, without so much as an acknowledgement or recanting his statement.

    Those are the guys we are dealing with here. Lies, subterfuge, prevarication, befuddling ambiguities are the tools of their trade. Eric descends as low as mocking people’s grammar (over some queer claim, that I have failed to see any evidence of that he has something to do with being a linguist). This is the first blog I ever posted on. I was forced to do so, because I couldn’t believe what Eric and Robert were saying about the universal Catholic Church. I don’t know about the state of the Catholic Church in the West, but I couldn’t even begin to recognize the Catholic Church in my country from what they were saying. Syncretism in the Catholic Church of third world was constantly spilling from there lying, blasphemous mouth. Eric called the Catholic Church a spiritually dead Church. Both of them on several occasions have called the Catholic Church blasphemous and idolatrous. Like I said earlier, these guys aren’t interested in the truth, or in respectful dialogue. They just want an avenue to undermine the Catholic Church. Exactly like their progenitors, the reformers.

  40. Erico
    It is very difficult to retain respect for a theological system that we don’t believe in, but we must make the effort. I earnestly apologize for those times when I have fallen short.

    Mikel
    The guys at CTC are pansies eh? Isn’t that what you said just a couple of days ago? They created an environment that tries its possible best to keep discourse polite and on point, and you call them pansies and not allowing steam blowing. Now you are talking about respect for theological systems that you don’t accept. Because the Catholics here are no longer interested in giving you any quarter. You are a fraud (and mind you I do actually know a thing or two about guys who are fraudulent) and a very incompetent one at that. You just want a site where you can insult Catholics with nary a response from the Catholics. You aren’t interested in the truth. You are not concerned with respect. You just want a place to get in touch with your inner demon. Well two can play that game.

    I am starting to see that you are worse than Robert. At least the poor fellow can’t help himself given his nature, but you are so slippery, you actually make an eel look like its covered in abrasive. The guys at CTC are pansies. The Catholic Church is a spiritually dead Church. Your wife almost threw up when both of you attended a Catholic Mass because of Mary worship. You actually are the one who started that crap about the Catholics of the Third World not being able to tell where adoration stops and worship begins, before that crazed Robert assumed ownership of it. You talk about the Catholic Church with a derogatory sneering tone as if you have any authourity. But you can’t walk the talk. You want a situation where everyone allows you the privilege of mocking their beliefs whilst never responding in kind to you. I warned you for a long time about the deleterious effect of your manner of disputation. Somehow you thought that Catholics not responding to you and your wolf pack in kind was because Catholics somehow felt guilty and didn’t really have anything on you. Well you have been enlightened now, haven’t you?

    Now that it has dawned on you that there is no possible world where you can come up tops on Catholics, you are suddenly slinking, belly to the ground with some bogus apology. You suddenly want respect. Keep your dubious apology to yourself. Too many people have seen you for what you really are, are two timing, shifty, spineless anti Catholics, who talks from the four compass point of his mouth. You are a bare faced liar without a clue what respect and integrity is.

    And besides I think I actually like this method of apologetics. I mean where else can I find a couple of fellows who so deserve to be slapped around. And I really enjoy slapping you guys around. It’s both euphoric and nerve settling.

  41. Erico
    It is the height of ignorance to claim that Sola Fide contradicts Scripture.

    Mikel
    It’s the height of lunacy to say Sola Fide doesn’t contradict the Scriptures.

    Sola Fide: We are justified by faith alone.

    James 2:26: You see that a man is JUSTIFIED by works and NOT BY FAITH ALONE

  42. Erico:
    “Faith” in Sola Fide stands neither for our ACT of faith in believing God’s promises, nor for our being convicted of sin and repenting of it…it stands for the gift of God which brings about transformation. Gift…gift…gift…gift…gift. That’s what actual grace is

    JBFA does NOT refer to our acts of faith alone, but to the fact that faith is a free gift or grace from Christ alone

    Mikel
    Witness the mindless incoherence brought about by those who will desecrate the word of God. So Sola Fide is now Sola Gratia? Faith is now the same thing as grace, eh? That means you actually have four Sola, not five because the Gratia Sola part is repeated.

    So you guys now have:
    1 Sola Scriptura
    2 Sola Gratia (replaced Sola Fide, according to Erico)
    2 Sola Gratia
    3 Sola Christus
    4 Soli Deo Gloria

    Erico
    We are justified BY GRACE ALONE through faith alone on account of Christ alone for the glory of God alone.

    Mikel
    Based on your revision, the proper way to write out that sentence is:

    We are justified BY GRACE ALONE through GRACE ALONE on account of Christ alone for the glory of God alone.

    Crazy repetitive nonsense

  43. Eric, you quote St. Paul:

    “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

    After wrenching this quote out of context, you return to your childish form of argumentation by publicly slandering me by implying that I believe something idiotic that I don’t believe, and never have believed.

    So, then, you believe we are justified by a barren faith?

    I will say it again – grow up Eric. Become a man, and quit arguing like a snotty five year old brat. If you want to know what I believe, just ask me.

    The first rule of sound exegesis that you need to learn is that scripture does not ever contradict scripture.

    The faith that Paul is talking about is saving faith, a supernatural faith that is not dead because it is a living faith that manifests Spirit enabled works of charity. The faith that St. Paul is talking about here is not mere intellectual assent to theological propositions about Jesus, nor the dead faith that James teaches about.

    St. Paul is contrasting the saving faith of a Christian (who has the supernatural gift of infused charity conjoined with the supernatural gift of sanctifying faith), with a Jew doing works of law keeping that are done out of human effort alone without the supernatural gift of infused charity. Jewish law keeping like eating only kosher foods. The Jewish law keeping can even include trying, apart from the Spirit, to keep the moral commandments of God – something that is impossible to do in manner that is wholly pleasing to God without the Christian’s partaking of the divine life of the Trinity. Here, St. Paul is contrasting the supernatural life of the Christian with the natural life of a Jewish lawkeeper.

    St. Paul does NOT contradict St. James. Your problem is that you have no idea of what Paul is talking about. You will never know what St. Paul is talking about until you give up your unbiblical Lone Rangerism and begin to listen to men and women that can help you come out of the darkness of Protestant heresy and into the light of the Truth.

  44. One of the first rules of exegeting Mateo is that he fall into, or comes really close to, contradicting himself.

    Mateo wrote:
    You will never know what St. Paul is talking about until you give up your unbiblical Lone Rangerism and begin to listen to men and women that can help you come out of the darkness of Protestant heresy and into the light of the Truth.

    Compare “St. Paul is talking about” to “begin to listen to men…” St. Paul was a man ! St Paul was a man ! St. Paul was a man ! Mateo is not a Lone Ranger. Oh no, something much better. He is one of those men, or women, that Eric SHOULD listen to. He is a teacher. He is light into the light of Truth.

    Tell us great light how Eric will avoid “never know what” Mateo is talking about ? Or those other men and women ? Drop these stupid RC polemics. You have one thing to do Papal servant. Tell Eric to obey the Pope because that covers everything. Isn’t that so ?

  45. Eric,

    “Those who are baptismally regenerated in the Catholic Church may never possess a faith formed in charity”

    No, faith hope and love are all infused simultaneously. They may kill charity with mortal sin.

    “When he speaks of election, it is fixed and irrevocable. It is not in the slightest detail conditional. Compare apples with apples.”

    I am comparing apples to apples. You were asserting Augustine held to “initial permanence” in relation to justification. Now you want to redefine those who are justified to be the elect in order to “prove” he didn’t believe true regenerate justified believers can lose their salvation. No RC disagrees the elect persevere, but that wasn’t the question. Augustine says those who are regenerated and given faith hope and love can fall away. That’s not “initial permanence”. And because you apparently think that’s the red-line which causes RCism to deny the gospel, so goes Augustine.

    As he says elsewhere in same work, “And, consequently, both those who have not heard the gospel, and those who, having heard it and been changed by it for the better, have not received perseverance, and those who, having heard the gospel, have refused to come to Christ, that is, to believe on Him…”

    Note the distinction between those who never hear the gospel vs those who do not come to Christ and believe on Him vs those who do but do not receive perseverance.

    And “The faith of these [ie the elect], which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance even to the end is allotted to them. But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously.”

    Of course the clearest support that he held the initially justified and regenerate can lose their salvation is the fact that he affirmed the doctrine of mortal sin. If your analysis is correct, I fail to see how his doctrine of mortal sin makes any sense.

    “justify the smuggling of works’ righteousness into the salvation process. ”

    Sanctification is part of salvation according to Robert above and confessional Protestantism. I guess you’re smuggling works’ righteousness in.

    “You want to have your cake and eat it, too.”

    I guess Augustine wanted to have his cake and eat it too due to his doctrine of merit and cooperative grace.

    “By no means do you believe in GRACE ALONE. According to Trent [citation of infused righteousness]”

    So we see all the cheerleading about ontological infusion and the like is sound and fury after all. It’s all about the horton cartoon in the end.

    “In other words, individual effort is involved. One does not work for that which is free…else it is called “wages.”

    Individual effort is involved in sanctification according to your theology. Guess it’s all wages then.

    ““Extra nos” just means “outside ourselves,” so-called because it points to Christ, whom you don’t appear to like too very much.”

    Lovely.

    “Initial justification in Catholicism is first through imputation, which is extra nos, and secondarily through infusion, which is likewise extra nos.”

    Initial justification is not through imputation in Catholicism – that’s silly – see your criticism of Trent immediately above, unless you wish to qualify to say that when God declares us righteous we truly become righteous – i.e. that the declaration and reality reflecting said declaration (let there be light) happen simultaneously but the fact that you say infusion is “secondary” betrays extra nos forensic imputation yet again – infusion is not secondary in RCism – I’m not sure how you can read Trent or the Catechism to teach such.

    As I’ve said to you before, extra nos does not concern the origin of the righteousness, but where it is in relation to us. Extra nos means it remains outside and not within us, not that its origin was outside us, hence the Protestant and your disagreement with sanctification serving as any possible grounds for justification and the Horton cartoon.

    “Our righteousness, even for Catholics, does not become inherent until faith is exercised in good works.”

    This is shockingly bad for one who has been corrected on this multiple times. A baby and dying deathbed convert are inherently righteous even without yet performing any good works – faith, hope, and love are all poured into the heart at initial justification.

    “When I give a gift to my wife, I don’t require her to get a job on the side to reimburse me for part of the cost.”

    Does she have to cooperate and accept the gift or not? You were the one complaining any cooperation is crap and makes a mockery of any “gift”.

  46. Eric W, let the world note that you did not address your last post to anything concerning the substance of what I said to Eric – that St. Paul was not speaking about dead faith in the verse that Eric quoted. No, you skipped right over the heart of my argument and resorted to the childish level of argumentation that I have come to expect from Calvinists. Make up something that I never said, impute to me motivations that I don’t have, and then attack a straw man. For God’s sake, try to grow up!

    Mateo is not a Lone Ranger. Oh no, something much better. He is one of those men, or women, that Eric SHOULD listen to.

    Quite obviously to everyone with reading comprehension skills, Eric and I are interpreting the exact same scriptures in two completely contradictory ways. I think Eric, you, and Robert are all peas in a pod. That is, the three of you are half-baked heretics that need to be corrected.

    I am NOT saying that the solution is that you three should listen to me, I am saying that we are at an impasse, and we would be forever stuck at that impasse if Jesus did not give us the means to break the impasse.

    I am a Christian, and not the Lone Ranger that you falsely accuse me of being. Again, I am NOT insisting that Eric listen to me, and you are liar for insinuating such a thing.

    I am saying that we both need listen to Jesus – we both to do what Jesus has commanded of us when we come to such an impasse. We need to bring our dispute over interpretation to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, and then let Christ’s church settle the matter for the both of us. I listen to Christ, because Jesus is my Lord. I am fully willing to let the church that Jesus Christ personally founded have the final say in the manner.

    Neither Eric, nor Robert, nor you will listen to Christ when the impasse is reached. The three of you will not do what Christ commands of his disciples – to listen to his church or suffer the pain of excommunication.

    The impasse has been reached, and three of you continue on as stiff-necked Lone Rangers. You listen to no man but Eric W. Robert listens to no man but Robert. And Eric listens to no man but Eric. If you keep it up, the three of you will die as Lone Rangers, and you will have to account to the Lord for why you refused to listen to what the Lord has commanded of his disciples. You will be held accountable for the sin of trying to get men to listen to you as you spew out your destructive heresies into the world.

    Instead of bringing the wrath of God upon yourself, you could be encouraging men to listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded and save your soul by doing that. You are going to reap what you sow, and you are sowing the seeds of dissension by refusing to listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded.

  47. Mikel,

    See what Robert attempted to do with the story about the reformed being the first Christians to introduce religious tolerance to America. If I hadn’t coincidentally been looking at the very page of a material that said the very opposite, his lies would have stood and he would have appeared to be telling the truth. When I brought the truth to his attention, what was his response? “My bad. I forgot”. And then he went on about Lord Baltimore being a rebel and such nonsense.

    Baltimore was in the religious minority, so while it is a good thing that he allowed religious freedom in Maryland, it’s also not very impressive. Especially since he was acting against the prevailing opinion of his church.

    Someone like Roger Williams, on the other hand, part of the prevailing Protestant majority, to advocate religious freedom is more impressive. And in any case, why don’t you ask James about Roman Catholicism and religious freedom, since he admits it is not a universal right granted by the church. Only in places where it won’t disrupt the common order and good shall dissenting religious expression be allowed:

    http://oldlife.org/2013/11/whatever-happened-deserves-mentioned/#comment-106869

    Cletus and James are the same person, btw.

  48. @Robert:
    At this point, I’m just going to have to restart most of the discussion, because there’s so much noise and garbage in there that it’s become worthless. And that, sadly, is what ends up happening with you more often than not. What prevents it from being a complete waste of time is that I offer up the suffering of dealing with such miserable dialogue partners for the souls in Purgatory, so it’s at least helping someone.

    Anyway, to the serviceable part of the dialogue:

    Sorry, but those bolded quotes from Enchiridion don’t say anything of the sort. The section specifically says that both God and the evil son willed the death of the father. They will it in different ways, to be sure, but there’s nothing in there about “God wills to uphold the freedom of the evil son but does not will the death of the father.”
    But in any case, even in the scenario where God is willing to uphold the freedom, you still have what the Reformed would call the distinction of the perceptive and decretive wills. Because if God is going to condemn the evil son even as He wills to preserve his freedom, that’s almost exactly what Calvinists are talking about. God decrees (decretive will) to allow an act that he hates (precept).

    When you say they will it in different ways, that is correct. That is completely unlike the Calvinists conception of decretive and preceptive will, which says that God wills the act in two different ways. Augustine’s point is that God does not, in any sense, will the evil will of the wrongdoer. There is no distinction in God’s will with regard to precept and decree in His act of willing the person to do evil. God is willing the person to act, and the reason that this does not violate God’s preceptive will is that God is in no sense causing the evil intent that makes the act defective. In other words, God is simply not causing, in any sense, what makes the act violate His preceptive will. Nor is God’s own preceptive will for man a limit on Himself as God. God’s preceptive will applies to man willing as man, and God is not a man, nor does He will as a man. That is why God says that it is fitting and good, for example, for God to be able to will the death of someone where it would not be fitting for a man to do so.

    You’re still assuming that God willing someone to act in a certain way must *cause* the person to act in that way. That is exactly the assumption that Augustine denies. So put aside your own idea that this is the case, and read it assuming that God willing something does NOT cause it to happen, because that is not an assumption that Augustine shares. Then it makes sense; God wills the person to be able to act evilly without causing them to act evilly, which is exactly what I said it means.

    On O’Malley and Athanasius and Augustine, every wrong thing that you’ve said stems from the same error. The fundamental concept of the faith in Catholicism and Orthodoxy is what we do as a Church. You’re looking for some set of beliefs, but the most fundamental guide for dogma is the liturgical practice of the Church with specific doctrines being an explanation of that practice.

    This is what Athanasius means by “the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture.” That would be an odd turn of phrase if it meant that all religion was learned from Scripture, and it is also not consistent with Athanasius’s understanding of the ecclesiastical scope. Rather, what Athanasius means is that there is a right way to “do Christianity,” which he calls the faith, and the Scripture makes perfect sense when read in this way. It’s the same thing as Christians reading the Old Testament in light of Christ; all of Scripture is likewise read in light of the revelation of the Church.

    That means there’s a fundamental difference between the reading of faithful Christians and heretics; heretics are fundamentally unqualified to read Scripture because they don’t make the same dogmatic affirmations. Athanasius says that heretics “deny the Lord, falsify the Fathers, and attempt to deceive the Christians.” On the first point, Dragas describes Athanasius’s view of heretics as “misunderstanding the witness of Scripture to the truth as it is in Christ” and further explains that “a holistic approach is needed in order to understand the witness of Scripture and the Fathers.” In particular, Athanasius disdains viewing Scripture as just “little words” (ta lexeidia), viewed passage by passage or piece by piece, that Dragas describes as “divorced from the truth.” But the truth as it is in Christ is also as it is lived in the Church. So it isn’t the case that Scripture is completely opaque without the witness of the Church, but it also isn’t completely clear, so that there will always be errors for people who don’t accept all of the teachings of the Church. Augustine and Chrysostom follow this view on Church authority in the exact same way. It was clear that they did not believe that heretics were doing what the Church does in terms of the faith expressed in the liturgy.

    In the sense that you mean it, Athanasius believed in sola ecclesia. But that trivializes his belief. Rather, Athanasius recognizes the triple structure of the relevation within the Church, embodied by Scripture, Tradition (best exemplified by the Fathers). It’s impossible for there to be a sola ecclesia, because all of the distinct sources of authority perform their function within the Church. In other words, the Church itself has multiple authorities in the way She operates.

    That is why the findings of councils are routinely debated for decades afterward, because it takes some time to fully reconcile the doctrinal explanation with the life of the Church. That doesn’t suggest that it is wrong, but it does suggest that it takes some time to come to the correct understanding of how the Spirit-led expression is to be reconciled with the other aspects of Church authority. It’s not as if the Magisterium immediately resolves issues entirely; rather, that becomes one more reliable data point in the holistic synthesis.

    Turning to Trent, O’Malley describes it from a liberal perspective, so he doesn’t take the infallibility of the council (or the Church generally) seriously. But if you look at what he describes from the orthodox perspective, this is exactly what you’d expect. The life of the Church very clearly affirmed that the Christian life was one of “good works,” in the sense that effort definitely matters. It clearly isn’t a matter of a single, permanent declaration of righteousness (or any other single causal intervention during life) that assures salvation to the end. How exactly that is formulated may be debated, but the end state is that there is no such thing as irresistible grace, in the sense of a one-time transformation that guarantees salvation.

    The point is that neither the Protestant belief of sola Scriptura nor the Calvinist version of “grace alone” (i.e., that there is an irresistible, permanent grace of conversion that assures salvation) can be reconciled with Augustine, Athanasius or Trent. This isn’t a case of those authors being amenable to either interpretation; they fundamentally and directly contradict it. Their view of the authority of the Church directly opposed sola Scriptura, which doesn’t treat the ecclesiastical scope as the rule of faith (as opposed to a mere suggestion). And Protestants don’t hold the ecclesiastical scope as a rule of faith, i.e., as an unbreakable and infallible principle used to interpret Scripture rather than vice versa. Scripture is interpreted according to the rule of faith, what the Church actually does, rather than the rule of faith being derived from Scripture.

    The point of all of this is that if Calvinists want to condemn Catholics under the anathema of Galatians, then there is no alternative to condemning every orthodox author in Christian history. Protestants took this gamble based on the patristic sources essentially falling in line with the collections of isolated sayings in the Sentences and other collections, so that those accurately represented the authors’ views. But that view is no longer historically tenable; we aren’t limited to medieval prooftext collections anymore. That leaves us with two classes of Protestants in the present day: (1) those who admit that Catholicism, while arguably wrong from their perspective, nonetheless does not include any Gospel-denying errors and does not fall under the anathema of Galatians, and (2) the idiots.

    There are plenty of reasonable Protestants who don’t think that Catholics who sincerely and faithfully accept Catholic beliefs are going to Hell for it. But anybody who believes otherwise is not living in reality, because he would have to hold that Christianity went extinct from Ignatius on (since this idea of the Church as authority goes back at least that far). And yes, that may well mean that much of what caused the Reformation has now become obsolete, which is what the JDDJ basically said. But that’s what you’d expect; there’s no revealed Scripture prophesying the Reformation. It was just a contingent historical event without any special divine intervention or public revelation causing it.

  49. @Robert:
    At this point, I’m just going to have to restart most of the discussion, because there’s so much noise and garbage in there that it’s become worthless. And that, sadly, is what ends up happening with you more often than not. What prevents it from being a complete waste of time is that I offer up the suffering of dealing with such miserable dialogue partners for the souls in Purgatory, so it’s at least helping someone.

    Anyway, to the serviceable part of the dialogue:

    Sorry, but those bolded quotes from Enchiridion don’t say anything of the sort. The section specifically says that both God and the evil son willed the death of the father. They will it in different ways, to be sure, but there’s nothing in there about “God wills to uphold the freedom of the evil son but does not will the death of the father.”
    But in any case, even in the scenario where God is willing to uphold the freedom, you still have what the Reformed would call the distinction of the perceptive and decretive wills. Because if God is going to condemn the evil son even as He wills to preserve his freedom, that’s almost exactly what Calvinists are talking about. God decrees (decretive will) to allow an act that he hates (precept).

    When you say they will it in different ways, that is correct. That is completely unlike the Calvinists conception of decretive and preceptive will, which says that God wills the act in two different ways. Augustine’s point is that God does not, in any sense, will the evil will of the wrongdoer. There is no distinction in God’s will with regard to precept and decree in His act of willing the person to do evil. God is willing the person to act, and the reason that this does not violate God’s preceptive will is that God is in no sense causing the evil intent that makes the act defective. In other words, God is simply not causing, in any sense, what makes the act violate His preceptive will. Nor is God’s own preceptive will for man a limit on Himself as God. God’s preceptive will applies to man willing as man, and God is not a man, nor does He will as a man. That is why God says that it is fitting and good, for example, for God to be able to will the death of someone where it would not be fitting for a man to do so.

    You’re still assuming that God willing someone to act in a certain way must *cause* the person to act in that way. That is exactly the assumption that Augustine denies. So put aside your own idea that this is the case, and read it assuming that God willing something does NOT cause it to happen, because that is not an assumption that Augustine shares. Then it makes sense; God wills the person to be able to act evilly without causing them to act evilly, which is exactly what I said it means.
    (cont.)

  50. (cont.)
    On O’Malley and Athanasius and Augustine, every wrong thing that you’ve said stems from the same error. The fundamental concept of the faith in Catholicism and Orthodoxy is what we do as a Church. You’re looking for some set of beliefs, but the most fundamental guide for dogma is the liturgical practice of the Church with specific doctrines being an explanation of that practice.

    This is what Athanasius means by “the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture.” That would be an odd turn of phrase if it meant that all religion was learned from Scripture, and it is also not consistent with Athanasius’s understanding of the ecclesiastical scope. Rather, what Athanasius means is that there is a right way to “do Christianity,” which he calls the faith, and the Scripture makes perfect sense when read in this way. It’s the same thing as Christians reading the Old Testament in light of Christ; all of Scripture is likewise read in light of the revelation of the Church.

    That means there’s a fundamental difference between the reading of faithful Christians and heretics; heretics are fundamentally unqualified to read Scripture because they don’t make the same dogmatic affirmations. Athanasius says that heretics “deny the Lord, falsify the Fathers, and attempt to deceive the Christians.” On the first point, Dragas describes Athanasius’s view of heretics as “misunderstanding the witness of Scripture to the truth as it is in Christ” and further explains that “a holistic approach is needed in order to understand the witness of Scripture and the Fathers.” In particular, Athanasius disdains viewing Scripture as just “little words” (ta lexeidia), viewed passage by passage or piece by piece, that Dragas describes as “divorced from the truth.” But the truth as it is in Christ is also as it is lived in the Church. So it isn’t the case that Scripture is completely opaque without the witness of the Church, but it also isn’t completely clear, so that there will always be errors for people who don’t accept all of the teachings of the Church. Augustine and Chrysostom follow this view on Church authority in the exact same way. It was clear that they did not believe that heretics were doing what the Church does in terms of the faith expressed in the liturgy.

    In the sense that you mean it, Athanasius believed in sola ecclesia. But that trivializes his belief. Rather, Athanasius recognizes the triple structure of the relevation within the Church, embodied by Scripture, Tradition (best exemplified by the Fathers). It’s impossible for there to be a sola ecclesia, because all of the distinct sources of authority perform their function within the Church. In other words, the Church itself has multiple authorities in the way She operates.

    That is why the findings of councils are routinely debated for decades afterward, because it takes some time to fully reconcile the doctrinal explanation with the life of the Church. That doesn’t suggest that it is wrong, but it does suggest that it takes some time to come to the correct understanding of how the Spirit-led expression is to be reconciled with the other aspects of Church authority. It’s not as if the Magisterium immediately resolves issues entirely; rather, that becomes one more reliable data point in the holistic synthesis.

    Turning to Trent, O’Malley describes it from a liberal perspective, so he doesn’t take the infallibility of the council (or the Church generally) seriously. But if you look at what he describes from the orthodox perspective, this is exactly what you’d expect. The life of the Church very clearly affirmed that the Christian life was one of “good works,” in the sense that effort definitely matters. It clearly isn’t a matter of a single, permanent declaration of righteousness (or any other single causal intervention during life) that assures salvation to the end. How exactly that is formulated may be debated, but the end state is that there is no such thing as irresistible grace, in the sense of a one-time transformation that guarantees salvation.

    The point is that neither the Protestant belief of sola Scriptura nor the Calvinist version of “grace alone” (i.e., that there is an irresistible, permanent grace of conversion that assures salvation) can be reconciled with Augustine, Athanasius or Trent. This isn’t a case of those authors being amenable to either interpretation; they fundamentally and directly contradict it. Their view of the authority of the Church directly opposed sola Scriptura, which doesn’t treat the ecclesiastical scope as the rule of faith (as opposed to a mere suggestion). And Protestants don’t hold the ecclesiastical scope as a rule of faith, i.e., as an unbreakable and infallible principle used to interpret Scripture rather than vice versa. Scripture is interpreted according to the rule of faith, what the Church actually does, rather than the rule of faith being derived from Scripture.

    The point of all of this is that if Calvinists want to condemn Catholics under the anathema of Galatians, then there is no alternative to condemning every orthodox author in Christian history. Protestants took this gamble based on the patristic sources essentially falling in line with the collections of isolated sayings in the Sentences and other collections, so that those accurately represented the authors’ views. But that view is no longer historically tenable; we aren’t limited to medieval prooftext collections anymore. That leaves us with two classes of Protestants in the present day: (1) those who admit that Catholicism, while arguably wrong from their perspective, nonetheless does not include any Gospel-denying errors and does not fall under the anathema of Galatians, and (2) the idiots.

    There are plenty of reasonable Protestants who don’t think that Catholics who sincerely and faithfully accept Catholic beliefs are going to Hell for it. But anybody who believes otherwise is not living in reality, because he would have to hold that Christianity went extinct from Ignatius on (since this idea of the Church as authority goes back at least that far). And yes, that may well mean that much of what caused the Reformation has now become obsolete, which is what the JDDJ basically said. But that’s what you’d expect; there’s no revealed Scripture prophesying the Reformation. It was just a contingent historical event without any special divine intervention or public revelation causing it.

  51. Oh and Jonathan,

    On the Reformers destroying Western Civilization, when are you all going to take responsibility for the fact that it was in large measure the papacy that made the Reformation inevitable;

    http://www.reformation21.org/articles/pay-no-attention-to-that-man-behind-the-curtain-roman-catholic-history-and-the-e.php

  52. Jonathan,

    And Protestants don’t hold the ecclesiastical scope as a rule of faith, i.e., as an unbreakable and infallible principle used to interpret Scripture rather than vice versa. Scripture is interpreted according to the rule of faith, what the Church actually does, rather than the rule of faith being derived from Scripture.

    That’s a nice theory. Unfortunately, it specifically denies what the earliest references to the rule of faith say that it is. Namely, the Apostles Creed. See Irenaeus, for example.

    This is what Athanasius means by “the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture.” That would be an odd turn of phrase if it meant that all religion was learned from Scripture, and it is also not consistent with Athanasius’s understanding of the ecclesiastical scope. Rather, what Athanasius means is that there is a right way to “do Christianity,” which he calls the faith, and the Scripture makes perfect sense when read in this way. It’s the same thing as Christians reading the Old Testament in light of Christ; all of Scripture is likewise read in light of the revelation of the Church..

    Again, this demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what sola Scriptura teaches:

    1. Sola Scriptura does not mean all religion is learned from Scritpure.
    2. Sola Scriptura does not deny that there is a right way to “do Christianity.”

    It’s an odd turn of phrase for Athanasius to say Scripture is sufficient ABOVE ALL OTHER THINGS if its just one of several equal lines of authority and revelation, which is what you are asserting he believed. The STM triad as you all speak of it is not a patristic belief even if they would give more deference to the Magisterium and the consensus of the fathers than Protestants would be inclined to give. Athanasius quite clearly speaks of Scripture sui generis. There’s even a tendency in modern Romanism to give a nod in that direction, although there’s no dogmatic pronouncement on exactly what tradition is and where it is to be found.

    That is why the findings of councils are routinely debated for decades afterward, because it takes some time to fully reconcile the doctrinal explanation with the life of the Church. That doesn’t suggest that it is wrong, but it does suggest that it takes some time to come to the correct understanding of how the Spirit-led expression is to be reconciled with the other aspects of Church authority. It’s not as if the Magisterium immediately resolves issues entirely; rather, that becomes one more reliable data point in the holistic synthesis.

    That’s a nice theory, but it totally emasculates any notion of ecclesiastical infallibility. If it takes time for people to figure out how Trent works, then nobody living at the time of Trent can know what is infallible and what isn’t. Same is true of Nicea, V1, and any other council. Besides, in the aftermath of Nicea, you don’t have routine debate of the council’s findings. You have Athanasius being deposed by the church for a position that is supposed to be the orthodox position. You have Athanasius refusing to submit to the authority of the church in this deposition. And you have him, largely but not exclusively alone, defending the council and that based on Scripture. None of this is possible if the STM are equally trustworthy sources of divine revelation and if Athanasius had a view of this that was in any way identical to what Rome believes today.

    You’re reading the history of dogma as if it proceeded as the post-V2 situation has with near universal religious freedom. It’s not historically tenable in the slightest

  53. Testing

  54. Robert
    Baltimore was in the religious minority, so while it is a good thing that he allowed religious freedom in Maryland, it’s also not very impressive. Especially since he was acting against the prevailing opinion of his church.

    Someone like Roger Williams, on the other hand, part of the prevailing Protestant majority, to advocate religious freedom is more impressive. And in any case, why don’t you ask James about Roman Catholicism and religious freedom, since he admits it is not a universal right granted by the church. Only in places where it won’t disrupt the common order and good shall dissenting religious expression be allowed

    Mikel
    Don’t have much time here. Just a bit puzzled about telling me to ask James. Which James would that be? Our James here at CCC? If so why are you directing me to him? Is he reformed? How does his comment about Catholicism and religious liberty affect the fact that the people you said brought religious tolerance to America either forgot and didn’t realize it and were more concerned with witch burning and persecuting all they could?

    You got me confused there.

  55. And why would you direct me to a place that is called oldlife? I never understand what they say there, everybody seeming to write in a stepwise discontinuous manner. Why do they write in such a quaint manner? Is that why it is called oldlife?

  56. Mikel,

    James is the James who posts here. He posts at old life as Cletus Van Damme.

    The Puritans weren’t concerned with witch burning and persecuting all they could. They didn’t put a price on RCs heads that I am aware of. Then there was the papacy…

  57. Mikel,

    The point is that Baltimore was not heeding the dictates of His church. He was a bad RC. There’s nothing inherent to Romanism that would lead to religious liberty. The wedding of the church and state and the lack of emphasis on personal conversion and a personal relationship with Christ make religious liberty anachronistic among Roman Catholics until they started adopting more Protestant sensibilities. You’re welcome.

  58. Jonathan,

    There are plenty of reasonable Roman Catholics who don’t think that the Reformers who sincerely and faithfully accepted Protestant beliefs on church authority were the cause of everything horrible in modern society. But anybody who believes otherwise is not living in reality, because he would have to hold that the West before the Reformation was a glorious picture of religious liberty and concerned with personal faith and liberty of conscience (since these ideas were all anathema to the medieval papacy). And yes, that may well mean that much of Roman Catholicism has now become obsolete, which is what Francis is basically saying in his calls to reform the church. But that’s what you’d expect; there’s no revealed Scripture or church tradition prior to Constantine lauding the glories of the church being an arm of the state. It was just a contingent historical event without any special divine intervention or public revelation causing it.

    The point of all of this is that if Roman Catholics want to condemn the Reformers, then there is no alternative to condemning every orthodox believer in Christian history who has lived under a despotic regime. Older RCs took this gamble based on the assumption that Rome’s ecclesiology doesn’t inflict a mortal wound upon itself. But that view is no longer historically tenable; we aren’t limited to a single Christian expression and even Rome says we’re fully orthodox except for our failure to submit to the bishop of Rome. Like the East, we’re mere schismatics, which is serious, but not as bad a it could be. So we’re left with: (1) RCs who admit that Protestants while arguably wrong from their perspective, nonetheless are not the cause of every evil in society, and (2) the idiots.

  59. @Robert:
    I don’t know whether there is something missing in your replies, but you haven’t spoken to the attempt to anathematize Catholics under Galatians. Trueman refers to Catholics as his “Christian brothers” in this piece:
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/08/a-church-for-exiles

    There are Protestant out there who believe that Catholicism is a credible profession of saving faith. It may contain errors (such Protestants), but it doesn’t deny faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is consistent with viewing Athanasius and Augustine as having made credible professions of faith.

    Sensible Calvinists like Trueman put Catholics in the same “wrong but saved” camp as Arminians, Christian brothers all. And then there are those who deny that Catholics make a credible profession of faith. They do so in the face of the entirety of Christian history and even basic common sense.

    I don’t disagree with Trueman that the Reformation was precipitated by a massive and sinful failure on the part of the Church hierarchy to do their duty. It is not without cause that St. John Chrysostom said that the skulls of bishops were the signposts on the road to Hell. Do you agree with Trueman that Catholics have a saving profession of faith despite our alleged errors on justification by faith?

  60. @Robert:
    You’ve actually made my point for me. I completely agree that there is nothing in Catholicism that requires the state to exert authority over religious activity in the way it did at certain times in Church history. That was *not* dogma, and it did not affect the worship of the Church. We can drop it completely, and we did at Vatican II.

    As I said before, Rome had never said that Protestants are “fully orthodox except for your failure to submit to Rome.” That is true only of the Eastern Orthodox. We believe that people can be saved and even be validly baptized Christians without being fully (or even mostly) orthodox. That is why Arian baptisms are considered valid even though they obviously aren’t orthodox.

  61. Ellis, John Tracy, American Catholicism:

    For the first time in history . . . all churches would be tolerated, and . . . none would be the agent of the government . . . Catholics and Protestants side by side on terms of equality and toleration unknown in the mother country . . . The effort proved vain; for . . . the PURITAN ELEMENT . . . October, 1654, REPEALED THE ACT OF TOLERATION and OUTLAWED THE CATHOLICS . . . CONDEMNING TEN OF THEM TO DEATH, FOUR OF WHOM WERE EXECUTED . . . From . . . 1718 down to the outbreak of the Revolution, the Catholics of Maryland were cut off from all participation in public life, to say nothing of the enactments against their religious services and . . . schools for Catholic instruction . . . During the half-century the Catholics had governed Maryland they had not been guilty of a single act of religious oppression.

  62. Martin Marty (P)

    “Baltimore . . . welcomed, among other English people, even the Catholic-hating Puritans (8) . . . In January of 1691 . . . the new regime brought hard times for Catholics as the Protestants closed their church, forbade them to teach in public . . . but . . . the little outpost of practical Catholic tolerance had left its mark of promise on the land

    .

  63. Patrick O’Hare
    “Catholics . . . were the first in America to proclaim and to practice civil and religious liberty . . . The colony established by Lord Baltimore in Maryland granted civil and religious liberty to all who professed different beliefs . . . At that very time the Puritans of New England and the Episcopalians of Virginia were busily engaged in persecuting their brother Protestants for consciences’ sakes and the former were . . . hanging ‘witches’.” (50:300-01)

  64. Robert
    The Puritans weren’t concerned with witch burning and persecuting all they could. They didn’t put a price on RCs heads that I am aware of.

    Mikel
    I understand that you are unaware. But don’t let that worry. It has always been so.

  65. Robert
    The Puritans weren’t concerned with witch burning and persecuting all they could.

    Mikel
    Puritanism is a synonym for witch hunts/burning. Nobody taught you that in seminary? You never heard of something called Salem? Am I supposed to be teaching you your own history now?

  66. A. Johann von Dollinger
    “Historically nothing is more incorrect than the assertion that the Reformation was a movement in favour of intellectual freedom. The exact contary is the truth. For themselves, it is true, Lutherans and Calvinists claimed liberty of conscience . . . but to grant it to others never occurred to them so long as they were the stronger side. The complete extirpation of the Catholic Church, and in fact of everything that stood in their way, was regarded by the reformers as something entirely natural.” (51; v. 6:268-9/1)

    B. Preserved Smith (Secularist)
    “If anyone still harbours the traditional prejudice that the early Protestants were more liberal, he must be undeceived. Save for a few splendid sayings of Luther, confined to the early years when he was powerless, there is hardly anything to be found among the leading reformers in favour of freedom of conscience. As soon as they had the power to persecute they did.” (115:177)

  67. Robert
    The point is that Baltimore was not heeding the dictates of His church. He was a bad RC. There’s nothing inherent to Romanism that would lead to religious liberty. The wedding of the church and state and the lack of emphasis on personal conversion and a personal relationship with Christ make religious liberty anachronistic among Roman Catholics until they started adopting more Protestant sensibilities. You’re welcome.

    Mikel
    You believe Christ died for just you and your gang. Every non-Christian and all faithful Catholics/Orthodox and lots of Protestants as well are just marking time, waiting for their rightful place in Hell. That is where persecution starts. The attitude that you are better than the other man. And it’s exactly how the fundamentalist Muslims think of all non-Muslims. Both of you have the same “we are the only righteous ones, all others are infidel” attitude. It shows in your attitude here. It shows in all Calvinist blog online. Intolerance is part of your DNA. Your fathers were intolerant. The butchered anyone they could. You are intolerant. It shows in your willingness to do anything to undermine those who do not agree with you. Unfortunately for you and your group, you are trivial. A speck of dust. Irritating, but insignificant. You do not factor in.

  68. The Double Standard of Protestant Anti-Catholic “Inquisition Polemics” (John Stoddard)

    “This fact is forgotten by Protestants. They read blood-curdling stories of the Inquisition and of atrocities committed by Catholics, but what does the average Protestant know of Protestant atrocities in the centuries succeeding the Reformation? Nothing, unless he makes a special study of the subject . . . Yet they are perfectly well known to every scholar . . . If I do not enumerate here the persecutions carried on by Catholics in the past, it is because it is not necessary in this book to do so. This volume is addressed especially to Protestants, and Catholic persecutions are to them sufficiently well known . . .

    “Now granting for the sake of argument, that all that is usually said of Catholic persecutions is true, the fact remains that Protestants, as such, have no right to denounce them, as if such deeds were characteristic of Catholics only. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones . .

    “It is unquestionable . . . that the champions of Protestantism – Luther, Calvin, Beza, Knox, Cranmer and Ridley – advocated the right of the civil authorities to punish the `crime’ of heresy . . . Rousseau says truly:
    “`The Reformation was intolerant from its cradle, and its authors were universal persecutors’ . . .

  69. Mateo wrote:

    The impasse has been reached, and three of you continue on as stiff-necked Lone Rangers. You listen to no man but Eric W. Robert listens to no man but Robert. And Eric listens to no man but Eric. If you keep it up, the three of you will die as Lone Rangers, and you will have to account to the Lord for why you refused to listen to what the Lord has commanded of his disciples. You will be held accountable for the sin of trying to get men to listen to you as you spew out your destructive heresies into the world.

    Response:

    As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him – Titus 3:10

    Let the world note that Mateo listens to Mateo. Mateo will not obey Titus 3:10 with regard to Eric, Robert, and Eric W. If I catch Mateo having more to do with us, then Titus 3:10 will be displayed for all to see.

    Mateo, answer that you liar.

    Let God be true and every man a liar. – Rom.3:4

  70. @Eric W:
    Mateo had nothing to do with stirring up the division. He’s merely pointing it out.

  71. Jonathan,

    That’s funny…I will merely point out his disobedience by quoting Titus 3:10. Mateo painted himself into a corner and you know it. He cannot continue to engage us because that would violate “nothing more to do with him”. Since Mateo listens to himself, then he can disobey Titus 3:10.

  72. Jonathan,

    You should correct your RC brother. He wrote:

    1. stiff-necked Lone Rangers
    2. If you keep it up, the three of you will die as Lone Rangers
    3. you spew out your destructive heresies into the world.

    He is charging us as formal heretics under RC principles; therefore, obeying Titus 3:10 is required of him.

  73. @Eric W.:
    You’re assuming identical context between the divisions in the first century and the separation with Protestants today. That’s a bad assumption, and that’s the context in which I said that Mateo is only pointing out the division. It would be different if Mateo were repeatedly pointing this out to someone in full communion with the Catholic Church, but that obviously isn’t the case for Protestants.

    It seems pretty obvious to me that you had Protestant lenses on even when you were within the Church, so I am not surprised that you left given what you perceived the life of the Church to be. But I wish you hadn’t, because I can tell you it isn’t what you see it to be.

  74. +JMJ+

    Jonathan wrote:

    It seems pretty obvious to me that you [Eric W] had Protestant lenses on even when you were within the Church, so I am not surprised that you left given what you perceived the life of the Church to be. But I wish you hadn’t, because I can tell you it isn’t what you see it to be.

    It seems that, for Eric W, everyone that’s not a Neo-Thomist Integralist is a Modernist (or, if one is feeling particularly indulgent, “Suspect of Modernism”).

  75. “The STM triad as you all speak of it is not a patristic belief”

    I’ll just leave this here:
    http://cin.org/users/jgallegos/rule.htm which has links each on S, T, M along with SS.

    not to mention the debates with Webster and White. And since Athanasius seems to be the father du jour, 2 separate articles are dedicated to him.

    “even if they would give more deference to the Magisterium and the consensus of the fathers than Protestants would be inclined to give. ”

    Understatement of the century.

    “Athanasius quite clearly speaks of Scripture sui generis. There’s even a tendency in modern Romanism to give a nod in that direction”

    So that doesn’t speak to the divide.

  76. Eric W, you write:

    As for a person who stirs up division …

    Let’s get real. I did not create the scandal of division that is Protestantism. Protestants have wasted five-hundred years in internecine warfare, and what they have to show for that waste of time is doctrinal chaos that hinders the spread of the gospel. The first protesters started out fighting among themselves, and Protestant division has only grown worse as time has passed.

    I am only pointing out the obvious, that division exists, and that is something that anyone with a phone book can see. There are thousands upon thousands of bickering and divided Protestant sects that cannot all agree on a single article of the faith. This doctrinal chaos within Protestantism is not the work of the Holy Spirit; it is the work of Satan, the author of confusion.

    Protestantism is a failed experiment – a corruption of Christianity. It is past time to recognize that fact.

  77. Protestantism is a failed experiment – a corruption of Christianity. It is past time to recognize that fact.

    Amen.

  78. James–

    1. Many baptized Roman Catholics never, ever in the miserable, faithless, rebellious lives demonstrate the slightest iota of charity. So there is nothing there for them to kill with mortal sin.

    2. What I am saying about Augustine is that terminologically his use of the word “election” is much closer to our use of “regeneration” than any other term he employs. “Baptismal regeneration” is a meaningless phrase for most confessional Protestants (with the exception of Lutherans and some Anglicans…on the other hand, their view of conversion is closer to ours).

    The elect–which for us is virtually synonymous with the regenerate–will inevitably persevere for Augustine. Yes, for Aquinas, as well. There is no good reason to include those who fall away. If they were once, in some way, spiritually “alive,” it is not in any way that means a dadblame thing.

    3. I’ve already shown you where you have, with malice aforethought, taken Augustine out of context. I won’t be trusting you from here on out unless you include the ENTIRE necessary context. Besides, your quote here doesn’t go one scintilla in any other direction than my stated trajectory.

    4. You also gave this quote:

    “The faith of these [i.e., the elect], which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance even to the end is allotted to them. But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously.”

    This sentiment is so quintessentially Reformed it’s not even funny!!

    5. The concept of mortal sin makes perfect sense in terms of pinpointing those who will not persevere and those in danger of not persevering who will, nonetheless, make it in the final analysis.

    6. Sanctification is a very different thing from justification, and though they both have a role in salvation, these roles are also far different. Picture yourself on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. You jump into the top-deck swimming pool and swim a few laps. You have been practicing your stroke for weeks now and are improving immensely. This is your sanctification. It has nothing to do with making your way to Malta or Cyprus. Progressive justification in Catholicism appears to picture someone trying to “help out” by putting their oar in the sea or putting up a small sail to starboard…as if either of these would get you any closer to your cruise destination.

    7. Once again, I have no trouble with either merit or cooperative grace as long as [initial] justification is permanent.

    8. Goodness gracious. Me, oh my! I have said exactly nothing against inherent righteousness or infusion. The thing I won’t accept is that either has anything to do with justification. The Horton cartoon depicts the view of the Free Grace Movement…which Horton, to some extent, follows. He sees justification as purely declaratory (although he does associate it with speech-act) whereas Westminster Philadelphia will ground justification more in Union with Christ.

    9. Quit with the positively weird comparisons between justification and sanctification already. We actually hold that we are created for good works that we should walk in them…for it is God who is at work within us both to do and will after his good pleasure. He does everything….even in sanctification.

    10. But James, it DOES appear to us that you have something AGAINST Christ. You have such a problem with our ascribing TOO MUCH glory to Christ…as if that could ever happen. To me, it’s kind of like the woman who angrily refuses to change her married name to that of her husband even though there is no one earth that she loves and respects more!

    11. Well, plenty of Catholics have agreed that there is a sense of imputation in the beginning stages of justification. Declaration of righteousness DOES happen even according to you. I used the word “secondary” to indicate that which logically (and not temporally or hierarchically) comes “after” something else.

    12. Extra nos most certainly does NOT mean that which remains outside of us. No wonder you misrepresent us so badly! Learn this stuff as we teach it, not as Catholic propagandists stereotype us.

    13. You wrote:

    “This is shockingly bad for one who has been corrected on this multiple times. A baby and dying deathbed convert are inherently righteous even without yet performing any good works – faith, hope, and love are all poured into the heart at initial justification.”

    OK, fine, you got me. You don’t technically believe as we do across the board on this one. You have the infant exception. (We actually agree with you on the dying convert.) My own predilections were coming out. I happen to think the whole “baby thing” is pure nonsense.

    14. You wrote:

    “Does [your wife] have to cooperate and accept the gift or not? You were the one complaining any cooperation is crap and makes a mockery of any “gift.”

    No, James, my wife does NOT have to cooperate and accept the gift. Her faith–her acceptance–is a gift granted her by the Holy Spirit. Now, you are correct in that she DOES accept the gift. Perhaps this is what confused you so badly. You expect everything concerning the ways of God must make perfect sense to us very limited created beings.

  79. James–

    I should amend one thing (in my #12). Extra nos does remain outside of us in terms of Jesus’ perfection. That remains outside of us even in glorification. The imputation of his alien righteousness means that he is God and that we are not…and that we never shall be. We need Jesus. We will always need Jesus. We have no hesitation in declaring our dependence on the Sun of Righteousness himself. He is our Light. And there is nothing but pitch darkness without him.

  80. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    James–
    I should amend one thing (in my #12). Extra nos does remain outside of us in terms of Jesus’ perfection. That remains outside of us even in glorification. The imputation of his alien righteousness means that he is God and that we are not…and that we never shall be. We need Jesus. We will always need Jesus. We have no hesitation in declaring our dependence on the Sun of Righteousness himself. He is our Light. And there is nothing but pitch darkness without him.

    You wrote a laborious refutation only to give away the store in this brief addendum.

    So, in the end, the only internal righteousness of the Just is an irremediably and unalloyedly Human righteousness. A righteousness which, according to Reformed theology, is not only no righteousness at all, but is a positive and immedicable unrighteousness.

    And this is not the Horton Cartoon, how?

  81. Jonathan, you wrote:

    You’re assuming identical context between the divisions in the first century and the separation with Protestants today. . That’s a bad assumption…

    Response:

    I’ll take this seriously because it’s the reason why you granted Mateo a dispensation. Are you sure Mateo is not keeping the division alive ? Mateo dealt with us more than two times. It’s over for him based on the words I quoted from him. Of course, this new dispensation will only make him stronger to disobey Titus 3:10.

    I admit that Yesterday is not Today. But why does Mateo, with his cool polemics, pull us into a present context of obligation to RETURN ? If obligation was and is always in context, then your point is very dull. It’s not enough for you folks to obey Titus 3:10. You must provide a forum to “build and re-build a context” that keeps us in an ever-revolving heretical-disobedient-division making reality. Dialogue is the engine. The end for new dialogue partners will be excommunication based on breaking dialogical partnership.

    Shame on you for not correcting your brother.

  82. Wosbald wrote:

    It seems…

    Greater Light, tell us how “Catholicism”, in all her seductive pomp, is related to the Mystery.

  83. Mateo, Enjoy the dispensation.

  84. James,

    Eric wrote this,
    ““Those who are baptismally regenerated in the Catholic Church may never possess a faith formed in charity”.

    Thanks for setting him straight. I just can’t bring myself to correct him anymore. He just assumes he knows our religion well enough to keep making these absurd statements. Such pompous strutting about on a Catholic blog, engaging Catholics on Catholicism when he has not bothered to understand how we use terms like, grace, regeneration,justification, faith, charity, etc. etc.
    The guy is hopeless.

  85. Mikel,
    Yes, it was only Catholic Maryland and Quaker Pennsylvania that had religious tolerance in the 13 colonies.
    However, Maryland allowed so many Protestants in that they took over and then persecuted the Catholics in their own colony.
    I think Eric would, if he could, do likewise here.

    As for Protestant blogs like Green Baggins, Triabologue and Beggars All, they would prefer Catholics not post at all. They like to talk about us but not to us.

    PS, sorry but I can’t find the contraception article.

  86. Jonathan,

    I don’t know whether there is something missing in your replies, but you haven’t spoken to the attempt to anathematize Catholics under Galatians. Trueman refers to Catholics as his “Christian brothers” in this piece:?http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/08/a-church-for-exiles?There are Protestant out there who believe that Catholicism is a credible profession of saving faith. It may contain errors (such Protestants), but it doesn’t deny faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is consistent with viewing Athanasius and Augustine as having made credible professions of faith. ?Sensible Calvinists like Trueman put Catholics in the same “wrong but saved” camp as Arminians, Christian brothers all. And then there are those who deny that Catholics make a credible profession of faith. They do so in the face of the entirety of Christian history and even basic common sense.?I don’t disagree with Trueman that the Reformation was precipitated by a massive and sinful failure on the part of the Church hierarchy to do their duty. It is not without cause that St. John Chrysostom said that the skulls of bishops were the signposts on the road to Hell. Do you agree with Trueman that Catholics have a saving profession of faith despite our alleged errors on justification by faith????

    There’s nothing missing in my replies because I’ve said over and over again that the church fathers weren’t Tridentine Roman Catholics, and the attempt to paint them as holding to the full-orbed Tridentine definition of justification just doesn’t’ work.

    I agree that Roman Catholics may be saved. Trueman doesn’t say anything about RCs who fully embrace Trent in that article, probably because there are precious few RCs anymore who have any clue as to what it says. My experience knowing and working with RCs in college ministry and other contexts tells me that the average RC, if he isn’t simply going through the motions, is in this country at least, likely to have an understanding of the faith that is akin to evangelical Protestantism with its emphasis on Jesus and not on the institutional church. To the extent that such is true, I rejoice. I’ve personally known RCs who believe in JBFA in the Protestant sense but just stay RC because its how they were raised or they want to effect change within the church from within. My experience isn’t unusual. I’ve known other evangelicals who have experienced the same thing. More power to those RCs, but I think their mission is doomed to failure.

    Trueman wasn’t a signatory to ECT, and I know that he views attempts to paper over differences with Rome as impossible. I don’t personally know what he says about RCs who knowingly and consistently affirm Trent. Talking about American RCs as “Christian brothers” doesn’t imply that RCs who know and affirm all that Trent teaches, including its condemnation of Protestants to the curse of God, are in his view true Christians. He’s also unwilling to participate in explicitly religious gatherings with RCs, EOs, and others (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/reasons-separation/). As a Protestant, there is no reason to hold such a position if he believes Rome or the East profess a gospel that can save, especially when he’ll participate in similar gatherings with other Protestants who don’t share his Presbyterian convictions but who do agree with him on what the gospel is.

    You’ve actually made my point for me. I completely agree that there is nothing in Catholicism that requires the state to exert authority over religious activity in the way it did at certain times in Church history. That was *not* dogma, and it did not affect the worship of the Church. We can drop it completely, and we did at Vatican II.?

    But this is a convenient after-the-fact understanding that the church only acknowledged once it lost political power. And to say that requiring the state to exert authority over religious activity does not affect church worship is to ignore evidence. The state most definitely affects church worship wherever it is involved; to think otherwise is to ignore history, I’m sorry to say. When Rome made Christianity the official religion of the empire, the exaltation of the bishop of Rome first and then Constantinople was inevitable.

    Until such was dropped at V2, the faithful RC had no reason to believe that the state enforcement of RCism was not dogma. To protest it, would incur the wrath of the church. You guys can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a necessarily infallible Magisterium to give you all your principled distinctions if no one at present knows what the Magisterium means. You can’t have it if the Magisterium doesn’t even know what the Magisterium means. It’s all ad hoc special pleading that eliminates any importance for actual doctrinal understanding in faith and practice in the present.

    As I said before, Rome had never said that Protestants are “fully orthodox except for your failure to submit to Rome.” That is true only of the Eastern Orthodox. We believe that people can be saved and even be validly baptized Christians without being fully (or even mostly) orthodox. That is why Arian baptisms are considered valid even though they obviously aren’t orthodox.

    When the pope calls Billy Graham his brother in Christ as JPII did and Francis accepts the ordination of Anglicans and the orthodoxy of Kenneth Copeland as he recently did via video, I have no reason to conclude other than the fact that in Rome’s eyes, I’m no different from the East. The problem is that Trent is on the books, but none but the ultra-conservative RCs accept it anymore. Based on what Rome has said about itself, I have to believe that Trent is still official dogma out of respect for what Rome has said in context. The fact that Rome doesn’t even respect what it has said about itself in context is a huge problem that you guys keep trying to avoid.

    And which Arian baptisms are considered orthodox? The ones made pre-Nicea and Constantinople? JW baptisms are certainly rejected. And the Catholic Encyclopedia says:

    “From the foregoing it is evident that not all baptism administered by heretics or schismatics is invalid. On the contrary, if the proper matter and form be used and the one conferring the sacrament really “intends to perform what the Church performs” the baptism is undoubtedly valid.”

    Which Arian intends to perform what the church performs? For that matter, which evangelical Baptist, Lutheran, or Presbyterian intends to perform what Rome performs? None of those baptisms should be valid. If they are, I can only conclude that modern Rome views me as fully orthodox. This bears out in all my personal one-on-one dealings with RC priests and laity, all of whom who have been happy to let me be a good Protestant and not to call me to communion with Rome. Rome doesn’t think it’s important anymore. It has completely reversed its historic position.

    There is much inconsistency in your all’s approach to Protestants. You and Mateo want to call Protestantism an aberration. Pope Francis doesn’t even want to call Unitarianism such that Islam affirms an aberration. If there is no unity in the truth, there is no unity at all, and if there is no unity, there is no meaningful sense in which RCs and Protestants can be brothers. That’s why it goes back to why I can affirm only the profession of RCs that either don’t know Trent or confess a Protestant understanding of the gospel. A faithful Protestant can be the brother of an unfaithful RC or a faithful RC can be the brother of an unfaithful Protestant (according to the historic and dogmatic understandings of both communions). The idea that a faithful Protestant and a faithful RC can be brothers is a capitulation to the spirit of the age that ignores history and makes light of the martyrdom of people on both sides of the divide. While V2 was willing to go all postmodern, I’m not.

  87. Mikel,

    You believe Christ died for just you and your gang. Every non-Christian and all faithful Catholics/Orthodox and lots of Protestants as well are just marking time, waiting for their rightful place in Hell. That is where persecution starts. The attitude that you are better than the other man. And it’s exactly how the fundamentalist Muslims think of all non-Muslims. Both of you have the same “we are the only righteous ones, all others are infidel” attitude.

    We believe Christ died for His elect. Many of his elect are to be found among the Reformed. Many among Roman Catholics, many among Arminians, many even among Muslims. So you have this completely wrong.

    It shows in your attitude here. It shows in all Calvinist blog online. Intolerance is part of your DNA. Your fathers were intolerant. The butchered anyone they could.

    And of course, so was the papacy. Just ask the Waldensians, the Albigensians, Tyndale, Luther, et all. How many Inquisitions were there again? None of the Reformers claimed infallibility. None of their Protestant successors either. Rome has claimed infallibility while killing Protestants. Big difference.

    You are intolerant. It shows in your willingness to do anything to undermine those who do not agree with you. Unfortunately for you and your group, you are trivial. A speck of dust. Irritating, but insignificant. You do not factor in.

    Given the way that Rome has responded to us for the past 500 years, we aren’t that trivial in the eyes of your church, which, by the way, affirms the health-wealth gospel that you bemoan as destroying your country as orthodox. Kenneth Copeland, one of the fathers, is the brother of your pope. Why is it that the Reformed will condemn Copeland but your pope won’t? You are right to condemn the name-it-and-claim-it movement. But us poor divided Protestants agree while your guardian of orthodoxy and source of all principled distinctions does not.

    http://www.religionnews.com/2014/07/09/pope-francis-meets-u-s-televangelist-first-ever-papal-high-five-follows/

    The video of the pope calling Copeland and those of his ilk who plunder your poor countrymen is in this link, but its found in many places online:

    http://www.christiantoday.com/article/christians.mourn.death.of.bishop.who.was.friend.of.pope.francis/38973.htm

    And we’re supposed to think ROME has the answer?

    And by the way, Salem only killed about 20 people. Tens of thousands were killed in the witch trials of Europe carried out in the name of your infallible church:

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-the-salem-witch-trials-175162489/?no-ist

  88. To the Catholics here. And elsewhere as well. Just wanted to comment on an observation I noticed a long ago and that Robert has brought to the fore. I noticed a reluctance on the part of Catholics to engage Protestants on accusation of persecutions. I understand all the talk about two wrongs not making a right and dangers of washing dirty linen in public, but characters like Robert and his pack do not allow such to bother them. And the reluctance on the part of the Catholics makes it appear that the Protestants are not just correct in their accusations but that they are whistle clean with regards to persecutions. What I find is that Catholics are usually put on the defensive defending the Inquisition, Crusades, etc. with no mention of any wrong doing on the part of the Protestants. It happens so frequently that I actually thought the Protestants were completely free of the evil of of persecution and religious intolerance.

    Imagine my surprise when even the most cursory study of the subject immediately revealed that persecution and religious intolerance are woven into the very fabric of Protestantism. From its very beginning Protestantism has been a viciously intolerant group, whose collective history is mired in blood. Blood of both Catholics and fellow Protestants. So it puzzles me a great deal where people like Robert and his pack get off with pointing fingers at Catholicism when they are as guilty if not even more of the very crimes they accuse Catholics of.

    It’s the same with the sex abuse scandal of the Church. I have a 17 page material detailing scores of sexual abuse by protestant clergy of minors. Hardly any mention is made of such by anybody. It is as if this is solely a Catholic problem. Given my background I am particularly repulsed by the idea of grown men sexually abusing children, but for the story to be made into a stick with which to beat the Catholic Church over the head, is just devilry.

    I don’t know about you guys but any Protestant who tries the Catholic are intolerant line with, I will make for a very form fitting dress with the stories of protestant persecution and wear it over him, making sure to add sunglasses and a floppy beret along with it.

  89. Robert
    The idea that a faithful Protestant and a faithful RC can be brothers is a capitulation to the spirit of the age that ignores history and makes light of the martyrdom of people on both sides of the divide.

    Mikel
    Lol

    So begins the revision. So there was martyrdom on both side of the divide? I imagined it was on only side. You never get tired of your show of shame.

    Robert
    None of the Reformers claimed infallibility. None of their Protestant successors either.

    Mikel
    Tell this black hearted idiotic excuse to the people who were killed by your fathers. “We are going to burn you at the stakes, but since we do not claim infallibility, it shouldn’t be that bad for you”. You really following in the footsteps of yout fathers.

  90. Robert
    Given the way that Rome has responded to us for the past 500 years, we aren’t that trivial in the eyes of your church, which, by the way, affirms the health-wealth gospel that you bemoan as destroying your country as orthodox

    Mikel
    The health and wealth gospel are part of the legacy of the madness your blood thirsty fathers gave to the world. And there are others like the steady emptying your country and the west of humans due to you guys contracepting yourselves to oblivion. And you are in the fore front of that with your obstacle contraception.

    Your Calvinist with its inbred cruelty is a trivial proposition in the world because you are virtually unknown outside the West. Which is good for the peace of the world. We have enough religious fanatics as it is.

    Like I said you are exactly the same with the Islamic fundamentalist. Same unfounded preposterous claim of being better than everyone else. Same crazed belief that you have got it made for you while all others are going to burn for all eternity. But there is one difference between you and the Muslim. They are ready to walk the talk. You on the other hand are internet warriors, cyberspace superheroes, spewing your hate filled doctrine from the comfort of your room. Come out to the real world and play. And see where it gets you. Sissies.

  91. Robert
    And by the way, Salem only killed about 20 people. Tens of thousands were killed in the witch trials of Europe carried out in the name of your infallible church

    Keating, Karl, Catholicism and Fundamentalism
    …..one could also refer to the BURNING OF ALLEGED WITCHES, a PRACTISE ALMOST UNKNOWN in CATHOLIC COUNTRIES (Goethe, in his Italienische Reise, attributed the lack of belief in witches to Catholic’s use of the confessional.) in Britain 30,000 were sent to the stake for witchcraft; in Protestant Germany the figure was 100,000.

  92. Philip Hughes
    “In Scotland, 1560-1600 (then Calvinist), some 8,000 women were burnt as witches – the total population was around 600,000.” (45:273)

    This is actually, incredibly, 1.3% of the population!

    Johnson, Paul, A History of the English People
    Above all, Puritanism was the dynamic behind the increase in witch-hunting

  93. Smith, Preserved, The Social Background of the Reformation
    “A . . . patent cause of the mania was the zeal and bibliolatry of Protestantism . . . Luther . . . seeing an idiotic child, whom he regarded as a changeling, . . . recommended the authorities to drown it, as a body without a soul. Repeatedly, both in private talk and in public sermons, he recommended that witches should be put to death without mercy and without regard for legal niceties . . . Four witches were burned at Wittenberg on June 29, 1540. The other Protestants hastened to follow the bad example of their master. In Geneva, under Calvin, 34 women were burned or quartered for the crime in the year 1545. A sermon of Bishop Jewel in 1562 was perhaps the occasion of a new English law against witchcraft . . . After the mania reached its height in the closing years of the century, anything, however trivial, would arouse suspicion . . . The Spanish Inquisition, on the other hand . . . treated witchcraft as a diabolical delusion.”

  94. Jim–

    Let me rephrase for you, O excessively literal one:

    Many, many Catholics undergoing so-called baptismal “regeneration” never demonstrate the first iota of faith formed by love. So much so, in fact, that the only way to maintain a belief in this particular phenomenon is blind faith.

  95. Jim–

    Only the Catholics here have shown any sign of wishing to return to the days of religious intolerance.

  96. Robert
    The idea that a faithful Protestant and a faithful RC can be brothers is a capitulation to the spirit of the age that ignores history and makes light of the martyrdom of people on both sides of the divide

    Mikel
    I just read this line again. Do you guys see how hatred, killings and war are started and perpetuated, all in the name of religion? What is really wrong with you Robert? Are you truly this evil?

    So because of the reformation, you are telling me I should be at war with members of my extended family? What kind of evil, cruel, thinking propelled you to write this? I have Protestants, Muslims and traditionalist within my extended family. People who are my brothers and sisters. So because of the crazed madness that your blood thirsty, power drunk and utterly vile fathers unleashed on the world some 500 years ago, there should be a blood feud between me and my family members? What is really wrong with you? What madness is this? This is the kind of noxious poisonous message that leads to mindless bloodletting that has caused untold grief to humanity. It is what you are promoting under the guise of religion.

    You might be a Christian destined from time to go to heaven, but you are a horrible human being.

  97. Wosbald–

    In other words, less than perfect righteousness equals no righteousness at all according to you.

    I see how you roll!

  98. Eric
    Only the Catholics here have shown any sign of wishing to return to the days of religious intolerance.

    Mikel
    Yeah. The guys at CTC are pansies who wouldn’t let you blow off steam. The guys here are intolerant hitmen who want to blow steam on you. Powerful observational abilities of Catholic blogs you possess there. You might want to look into ways of turning that into a money making venture.

  99. From catholicculture.org:

    The 30,000 to 50,000 casualties of the European witch-hunts were not distributed uniformally through time or space, even within particular jurisdictions. Three-quarters of Europe saw not a single trial. Witch persecution spread outward from its first center in alpine Italy in the early 15th century, guttering out in Poland, where witchcraft laws were finally repealed in 1788. The center had generally stopped trying witches before the peripheries even started.

    The Spanish Road stretching from Italy to the Netherlands was also a “witch-road.” The Catholic-ruled Spanish Netherlands (today’s Belgium) saw far worse persecutions than the Protestant-ruled United Provinces of the Netherlands, which had stopped burning convicted witches by 1600. There were early panics in the German cities of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg, as well as in Lorraine, France, and parts of Switzerland and Scotland. The Rhineland and Southwest Germany suffered severe outbreaks, with German ecclesiastical territories hit hardest. Three-quarters of all witchcraft trials took place in the Catholic-ruled territories of the Holy Roman Empire. But Catholic Portugal, Castile and Spanish-ruled Italy, and the Orthodox lands of Eastern Europe saw virtually none. The panic in Salem, Massachusetts, was as bad as anything in England, but there seem to have been no executions in the Latin colonies of the New World.

    The regional tolls demonstrated the patchwork pattern of witch-hunting. The town of Baden, Germany, for example, burned 200 witches from 1627 to 1630, more than all the convicted witches who perished in Sweden. The tiny town of Ellwangen, Germany, burned 393 witches from 1611 to 1618, more than Spain and Portugal combined ever executed. The Catholic prince-bishop of Wurzburg, Germany, burned 600 witches from 1628 to 1631, more witches than ever died in Protestant Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland combined. The Swiss canton of Vaud executed about 1,800 witches from 1611 to 1660, compared with Scotland’s toll of between 1,300 and 1,500 and England’s toll of 500. The claim of some Catholic apologists that Elizabeth I executed 800 witches a year is gross slander. In Southwest Germany alone, 3,229 people were executed for witchcraft between 1562 and 1684 — more than were executed for any reason by the Spanish, Portuguese, and Roman Inquisitions between 1500 and 1800. (All three of these Inquisitions burned fewer than a dozen witches in total.)

    The most-dreaded lay witch-hunter was Nicholas Remy, attorney general of Lorraine, who boasted of sending 900 persons to the stake in a single decade (1581-1591). But the all-time grand champion exterminator of witches was Ferdinand von Wittelsbach, Catholic prince-archbishop of Cologne, Germany, who burned 2,000 members of his flock during the 1630s.

    Let no one argue that witch-hunting was a predominantly Protestant activity. Both Catholic and Protestant lands saw light and heavy hunts. Demonologists and critics alike came from both religious camps.

  100. Eric,

    1. Sins of omission as well as commission can be mortal. And one can refuse to cooperate with the grace of initial justification, as your citation of Trent stated.

    2. Yes and what I am saying about Augustine is that your attempt to shift the conversation to the elect is a red herring. The question was simple – does Augustine believe all the initially justified are justified permanently – which was your original assertion. The answer is clearly not as my 3 citations (and Jonathan’s) show as well as his doctrine of mortal sin.

    “The elect–which for us is virtually synonymous with the regenerate–will inevitably persevere for Augustine.”

    Yes and the elect will inevitably persevere for RCism. That’s just by definition. This is not the question. That’s why “yes, for Aquinas as well” is irrelevant – do you say that Aquinas of all people believed all the initially justified are justified permanently? Of course not. We’re not talking about election so stop shifting.

    “3. I’ve already shown you where you have, with malice aforethought, taken Augustine out of context.”

    Lovely – malice aforethought. You haven’t shown me taking him out of context. All you did was try to redefine the justified to be the elect and evade the question that Augustine directly addressed.

    “This sentiment is so quintessentially Reformed it’s not even funny!!”

    I was expecting this since you’ve shifted the conversation. RCism affirms the elect will persevere – if they fall into sin, they will be restored – just as Augustine says, because that’s by definition. But notice how he contrasts that with “But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously.

    So much for “initial permanence” for Augustine.

    “The concept of mortal sin makes perfect sense in terms of pinpointing those who will not persevere and those in danger of not persevering who will, nonetheless, make it in the final analysis.”

    Once again we see the shift to election. Not the question. The question is simply do the initially justified/regenerate inevitably persevere or can they lose salvation. Mortal sin makes no sense if they inevitably persevere or cannot lose salvation. By asserting Augustine holds to “initial permanence”, you make him incoherent.

    “Sanctification is a very different thing from justification, and though they both have a role in salvation”

    Yes so I guess you’re smuggling works’ righteousness in. Sanctification is not justification as you agree – you cooperate, exert effort, are active, etc. All very works righteousy and grace nullifying of you.

    “Once again, I have no trouble with either merit or cooperative grace as long as [initial] justification is permanent.”

    So I guess cooperation is not “crap” after all and RCs aren’t a bunch of grace-denying wage-earners. And you just threw Augustine under the bus again.

    “I have said exactly nothing against inherent righteousness or infusion. The thing I won’t accept is that either has anything to do with justification.”

    Yes so you do have something against it despite what you said earlier, “We are justified through union with Christ. We are justified by becoming new creatures.” It all boils down to the Horton cartoon at the end every time despite the praising of “ontological” union and infusion.

    “9. Quit with the positively weird comparisons between justification and sanctification already. We actually hold that we are created for good works that we should walk in them…for it is God who is at work within us both to do and will after his good pleasure.”

    Amazing that Trent and the Catechism cite that exact same passage. So bizarre. I’ll quit once you quit with the positively weird assertions that cooperation is crap and entails nullifying grace and quit holding a position that nukes the patristic (and biblical) tradition which had no problem affirming cooperation/merit right along with sola gratia.

    “10. But James, it DOES appear to us that you have something AGAINST Christ. You have such a problem with our ascribing TOO MUCH glory to Christ…as if that could ever happen.”

    On the contrary, you are the side that has such a problem by making Christ feeble and unempowering. He can’t graciously allow us to participate in salvation because that somehow detracts from his glory as if he’s a petty child. He can’t empower us to actually keep his commandments for even one second. It’s not you give too much glory, it’s you give far too little.

    11. Which Catholics agree that imputation happens in the beginning stages of justification so that infusion happens later? Yes declaration of righteousness happens – such declaration reflects reality and we are truly inherently righteous (let there be light). That is not the case in Protestant justification – you become inherently righteous, but it is ever-inchoate and so can never serve as the grounds of justification – you need Christ’s perfect righteousness (all the time, not just at regeneration) for that. So the declaration does not actually reflect reality, the reality remains at best a shadow of the declaration’s meaning.

    “12. Extra nos most certainly does NOT mean that which remains outside of us. No wonder you misrepresent us so badly!”

    I’m not misrepresenting. See what I said in point 11 above. See the Horton cartoon. See your addendum.

    “I happen to think the whole “baby thing” is pure nonsense.”

    Yes, we know given the previous conversation with Jim and Jonathan on this. Just because you disagree does not give you license to misrepresent RC theology.

    “No, James, my wife does NOT have to cooperate and accept the gift.”

    I thought you had no problem with cooperative grace above? Anyways, does this mean you just shove the gift in her hands and unwrap it for her? Christmas must be fun at your place.

    “Now, you are correct in that she DOES accept the gift.”

    She doesn’t accept the gift but she does accept the gift. Right, but any notion of cooperation in RCism means we are grace-denying wage-earners and the fathers are all gospel deniers. Give me a break.

  101. Eric,

    “Many, many Catholics undergoing so-called baptismal “regeneration” never *(demonstrate)* the first iota of faith formed by love”‘

    Earlier you said, “may never *( possess )* faith formed by love.”

    There is a mighty big difference between possess and demonstrate.

    ” So much so, in fact, that the only way to maintain a belief in this particular phenomenon is blind faith”.

    Blind faith, Eric? Correct me if I am wrong, but “blind faith” in Catholic doctrine for you means ” Stupidity”, doesn’t it? Admit it.

    Of course, the only way to know this phenomenon is by SUPERNATURAL faith. Yes indeed. I am proud to profess it.

  102. Erico
    I don’t know how many times I need to say this, but if I beat, you Erico must dance. If I whistle, you nod. It’s the nature of things. It’s actually beyond your powers. So don’t sweat it.

    So it’s no longer a case of Catholics alone persecuting and burning thousands? You are posting a document that actually indicts Protestants in witch hunts? Aren’t we finally making progress? So you agree that your fathers were blood thirsty persecutors? Good. I am very cool with that bro.

    Another thing, so the Inquisition burnt less witches in 300 years than the 20 Robert accepted was burnt by your fathers in just Salem alone? Well aint that a thing? How did that happen?

  103. Mikel–

    In general, I skip over your rantings without reading them. The fact of the matter is that Robert, whom I do not and cannot and will not control, continues to supply oxygen for your infernal, demonic fires.

    I can ask him not to feed the troll, but he can do as he sees fit.

    However that may be, I will not allow your patent nonsense to go unanswered. I would love to see you off this site for good, but I have no power to act, let alone act unilaterally.

    By far, the greatest number of witch burnings took place in Central Europe: in France, French Switzerland, Austria, Poland, and Southern Germany…all Catholic areas. (Bohemia was also a hotspot, and I simply don’t know if this happened mainly during times of Catholic domination or Hussite.) That being said, I know of no Protestant land that didn’t share the blame in this “black mark” on the reputation of Christianity. No Protestant I know denies our involvement. Scotland was probably the biggest Protestant perpetrator, where perhaps 1,500 witches died.

  104. Please can anyone tell me why he does this? Is he such a sucker for punishment? I mean, he knows what is coming his way. But he just seem unable to help himself. Oh well, I must oblige him.

    Erico
    In general, I skip over your rantings without reading them

    Mikel
    Common man, even you and your depraved intellect have to admit it. I don’t rant. I lyrically flow. I am a master MC. My rhymes are real tight. My flow so laminar.

    Erico
    The fact of the matter is that Robert, whom I do not and cannot and will not control, continues to supply oxygen for your infernal, demonic fires.

    Mikel
    Lol. Is Green Baggins still a place where there are reams and reams of respectful, give and take discourse? What about Chesterton? Is he still a paradigm shifting lone ranger? I really made you look like a right Muppet there, didn’t I? I particularly enjoyed that interlude. It was fun.
    Why are you guys such slow learners? You consistently fail to recognize something beyond you. You can’t match me here. I am a master MC like I said. You will just keep coming out with the short end of the stick. It’s your destiny with me. What’s that saying? “You are good kid. Very good. But as long as I am around you will always be second best.” Accept it man. It softens the ache.

    Erico
    However that may be, I will not allow your patent nonsense to go unanswered. I would love to see you off this site for good,.

    Mikel:
    Off course you would like to see me off. Everybody can see that. I am your bete noir. As long as I am here you wouldn’t be able to say the universe Catholic Church is spiritually dead. You won’t be able to talk about syncretism in the third world. And it just sticks in your craw. I am the aggravation that won’t go away.

    You always talk like someone with any authority. Like you have any legitimacy. Look around you. See how everyone is currently responding to your posts. You are no longer being given any quarter. You have shown yourself to be a liar and a supporter of anything evil as long as it furthers your doomed goal of undermining the Catholic Church. You have shown yourself to be shifty spineless individual who talks from the four compass points of your mouth.

    Let me tell you something. The measure of a man is usually shown in how much he sticks to what he says. I didn’t twist your arthritic arm or forced you to say you will never talk to me. You of your own volition choose to take that decision. But here you are. I got you dancing like a 2 dollar puppet. You have turned yourself into a plaything for me. If I say jump, you ask: “how high”.

    Erico
    No Protestant I know denies our involvement.

    Mikel
    You know of no Protestant who denies your witch burning binge? Ok. It’s just that you guys just conveniently forget to mention it when you continually accuse Catholics of intolerance and persecution? Or is your excuse that your hands are also blood stained when you accuse Catholics of the Inquisition, the Crusade, etc

    And something else, is there any good reason I should believe anything you say? I have caught you on more than one occasion, bare faced lying. So why should I be bother with your line “No protestant I know denies…” You lie a lot.

  105. Erico, did you see that flow? Laminar eh? That how I do my thing. With panache.

    And another reason why you are sick of the name Mikel. It makes your claim of being Miss Linguist appear to be the empty boast it is. Go ahead and make fun of my grammar. Isn’t that what you do? I am the dumb kid from the Dark Continent. Shouldn’t be hard. Go ahead. You have done it with a lot of posters here. Common! What are you waiting for?

    Muppet.

    Lights out

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  106. Jim–
    Where I come from, persons who never demonstrate any evidence whatsoever of possessing a certain trait are said to NOT POSSESS that trait.

    No, Jim, I was not indicting your inherent intelligence, merely the often truth-despising application of your Godgiven abilities.

    I am glad to hear, however, that your fideistic acceptance of the phantom phenomenon known as infant “regeneration” is at least (subjectively) “supernatural.” It reminds me of LDS adherents and their “supernatural” belief in the validity of the Book of Mormon through “burning bosoms.” Or the Health-Wealth Gospel’s self-validation through the “supernatural” assurance of their (subjective) inner voice, which they attribute to the Holy Ghost.

    Sacramental marriages end in divorce (or annulment) as often as the general population. Sacramental ordination often marks one as anything but holy. Sacramental confirmation confirms how pagan those who undergo the ritual have always been. Sacramental unction seldom if ever heals anybody. Sacramental reconciliation merely reveals the need for further reconciliation…over and over again. Sacramental thanksgiving for the sacrifice of Christ focuses on the emotional response of the worshiper rather than the glory of God. And baptismal “regeneration” brings virtually nobody to new life.

  107. James–

    1. So, comission or omission, huh? You’ve got your butt covered no matter what. What difference is there in your mind between those who lose their regeneration by omission and those who were never regenerated in the first place?

    2. All that I am “shifting” is YOU…away from your question begging. Given the Protestant paradigm, Augustinian “election” and Reformed “regeneration” are so much closer to being equivalent than anything else. Baptismal “regeneration” is not relevant, even in a tangential sense. It’s way, way, way out of the discussion. Augustine never speaks of “initial justification” as far as I am aware, so I have no clue how you can confidently assert what he believed on the matter.

    3. You did indeed take Augustine out of context. I’ll go back and show you, Mr. Short Memory. I have no confidence you understand Augustine in the slightest (except through Tridentine glasses).

    Put on your thinking cap. Protestant (initial) justification, which includes the regeneration of becoming a new creature in Christ with a new heart of flesh, is permanent. The justification is permanent. The regeneration is permanent. In other words, when we speak of either justification or regeneration, we are speaking of traits possessed by the elect. Regeneration and election go together. If they don’t, it is no longer true election. It is no longer true regeneration. It is merely appearance. This “appearance” of Christian faith is that to which Augustine appeals.

    The rest of your reply just goes to show how little you understand about Reformed thought. I do not misrepresent Catholicism. I simply believe that a good number of its tenets are inane. You seem to have a similar attitude toward Protestantism. Since I believe in the Reformed paradigm, I take your disagreement as ignorance (just as you do with mine). Well, one of us is right, and one of us is wrong. Unless, of course, we are both wrong. Allah hu akbar!!

  108. Eric,

    How would a baby demonstrate his regeneration? How does an adult? Can you read hearts?

    A sacramental marriage never ends in divorce. It is “until death do you part”.

    The Sacramental character given in ordination remains even if grace is lost.

    Your charge of “inner voice” proves that you, as usual, haven’t a clue. The “inner voice” of Mormons is a firm and visceral feeling. Faith is not a feeling.
    Nor is it “subjective”. One’s Faith is that of the Church, not a personal opinion or conviction.

    ” Sacramental thanksgiving for the sacrifice of Christ focuses on the emotional response of the worshiper rather than the glory of God.

    WOW!
    Sacramental thanksgiving is an “emotional response”? Have you ever received a Sacrament? Ever hear of “aridity”?
    You received the Sacrament of Matrimony, yes? So you are as married now as on your wedding day, correct? Tell me about the non-stop “emotional response” you have been enjoying since making your vows. ( Let me ask your wife about the honey moon high you have been on since then, eh? )

    ” And baptismal “regeneration” brings virtually nobody to new life.”

    Eric, this last statement is what is so irritating about you.
    Do you know why we Catholics would disagree with you? Do you? (Hint; not because we feel it ).

    Why do you post here? You don’t have to. What is your fascination with Catholicism? I mean, I am not telling you not to post here. I just don’t understand your interest in a religion and group of people you have written long ago as stupid.

    Do you want to win Catholics over to your way of thinking? I don’t get that feeling. As a matter of fact, I don’t get the felling you have any fixed beliefs to win a person over to.
    How is this dumb assertion, with absolutely no argument stronger than your opinion or observation behind it going to influence anybody? What is your authority base?

    Do you just like to heckle? That’s fine. I just would like to know why you keep posting. I am glad you do as you serve as a useful foil.

    It seems your read a lot on various Protestant denominations, their history, their doctrines, their strong points and weak points. You can drop names, facts and dates.
    But that’s as far as it goes. You are a dabbler, a dilettante. A jack of all trades but master of none, as they say. A butterfly going from Protestant flower to Protestant flower.

    Remember that silly girl on the playground who would sneak up behind the boy and grab his hat and run away screaming for help? She would run to the teacher and accuse the boy of wanting to kiss her or grope her or hurt her. Did she like him or did she hate him and just want him to chase her so she could get him in trouble?

    Do you want to be caught? Or just chased?

    ( I’m sure you don’t want to be kissed ).

  109. @Mikel:

    Robert
    The idea that a faithful Protestant and a faithful RC can be brothers is a capitulation to the spirit of the age that ignores history and makes light of the martyrdom of people on both sides of the divide

    Mikel
    I just read this line again. Do you guys see how hatred, killings and war are started and perpetuated, all in the name of religion? What is really wrong with you Robert? Are you truly this evil?

    This is the same thing I thought when I saw Robert (and others) ripping into Jason, which is what got me back into these kinds of discussions. I had concluded that discussions with this class of crazy was not worth the pain, but after the vituperation piled on Jason, I decided that it deserved moral condemnation as well, in terms of responding to all of the false charges and accusations being leveled against Catholicism.

    What you probably don’t know is that Robert’s “denomination,” which is barely older than I am, was formed in strife. They are the conservative remnant of the split in Presbyterianism due to the American Civil War, in part because Presbyterians like R.L. Dabney were convinced that chattel slavery could be justified Biblically (a position that Catholics never held, even though the papacy recognized the Confederacy as a somewhat legitimate government). The PCA and the Southern Baptists are the major relics of the pro-slavery “Christianity,” and the American triumphalism with its disdain for “lesser” cultures, anti-Semitism, and anti-Catholicism is certainly not foreign to its historical origins. The Old School Presbyterian faction, while defending traditional Christian doctrines like classical divine theism and Biblical inerrancy, was built historically on a foundation of Reformation-era polemic.

    The reason that I don’t bother with the tu quoque with respect to Protestant persecution, although you’re fair to raise it, is that I don’t want to create the impression that any of this makes it OK. At some point, everybody needs to admit that both sides are wrong in those conflicts, and then they need to get past it. I’m sure you’ve seen it with the “African colonials” who aren’t going to quit until the European colonialists are punished for their wrongs against the native people. There are nominally “Catholic” groups like Sinn Fein in Ireland who are still fighting the same conflict in their heads after it should have been over. And they all believe the same nonsense about compromise being contempt for the people who died in the conflicts. To think that peace, pardon, and understanding is the “spirit of the age” is the mark of a malevolent spirit, no matter who has it.

    Catholicism has learned that lesson, because we realized that internal dogma doesn’t apply to how we relate to other people outside the faith. That is the lesson of Vatican II; we don’t have to deal with outsiders the same way we deal with insiders. That was always part of the Christian tradition, but we didn’t always live up to that tradition. That is why we had to apologize for torture during the inquisition and for anti-Semitism over the course of centuries. And there are Catholics who can’t get over that either, so it’s not just a Protestant problem.

    Now the truth is that Protestants have learned, through ecumenical dialogue with us and the Eastern Orthodox, that Catholics (even Tridentine Catholics) aren’t the grace-denying, Gospel-denying Judaizers that Protestantism made us out to be. There’s just still the Robert faction of Protestants who can’t get their head around the fact that this particular conflict is already over.

  110. @Eric:

    I am glad to hear, however, that your fideistic acceptance of the phantom phenomenon known as infant “regeneration” is at least (subjectively) “supernatural.” It reminds me of LDS adherents and their “supernatural” belief in the validity of the Book of Mormon through “burning bosoms.” Or the Health-Wealth Gospel’s self-validation through the “supernatural” assurance of their (subjective) inner voice, which they attribute to the Holy Ghost.

    “We [Reformed] also deny the minor proposition; for infants do believe after their manner, or according to the condition of their age; they have an inclination to faith. Faith is in infants potentially and by inclination, although not actually as in adults.”

    Zacharias Ursinus was the principal author of the Heidelberg Catechism. The above is found on pages 369, 370 of this Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism.
    http://www.hornes.org/mark/2011/03/faith-is-a-compound-of-three-elements/

    So even though the authors of Reformed catechisms could see that faith could be in potency even if not in act (based on the Biblical witness of, among other things, John leaping for joy in Elizabeth’s womb), I suppose we should just accept your ridicule on this point.

    Augustine never speaks of “initial justification” as far as I am aware, so I have no clue how you can confidently assert what he believed on the matter.

    Augustine said, of the two pious men, one of whom was lost, the following:
    [H]ad not both become, from wicked men, justified men, and both been renewed by the laver of regeneration? But if he were to hear this who beyond all doubt knew what he was saying, he might answer and say: These things are true. In respect of all these things, they were of us.

    That’s not the appearance of justification. That’s actual justification and actual regeneration. So the Protestant hat doesn’t fit on Augustine.

    Also, note that Augustine isn’t saying that regeneration is lost. Someone is only regenerated once. All we’re saying is that the new creature can die (with respect to his supernatural life) and be revived. That revival (penance) is not new regeneration, because we are regenerated only once (becoming a new kind of creature with the permanent mark of baptism), but penance restores the justification that we had lost.

  111. @Robert:

    There’s nothing missing in my replies because I’ve said over and over again that the church fathers weren’t Tridentine Roman Catholics, and the attempt to paint them as holding to the full-orbed Tridentine definition of justification just doesn’t’ work.

    Then you’re just continuing the obfuscation. It doesn’t matter whether they held the “full-orbed Tridentine definition of justification.” All that matters was if they believed that human effort was relevant in justification (maintaining right standing before God), which they absolutely did. Dragas, for example, is unambiguous that Athanasius rejects predestinarianism, and I have not seen a single source maintaining that Athanasius excluded human effort from maintain justification before God or arguing that justification could not be lost. If you look at what I just quoted from Augustine, he likewise said that justification could be permanently lost. If the Fathers are the same as Trent in that respect, which you accuse of falling under the anathema of Galatians, then regardless of whether they have a full-orbed explanation, they should be anathematized on your reasoning.

    agree that Roman Catholics may be saved. Trueman doesn’t say anything about RCs who fully embrace Trent in that article, probably because there are precious few RCs anymore who have any clue as to what it says. My experience knowing and working with RCs in college ministry and other contexts tells me that the average RC, if he isn’t simply going through the motions, is in this country at least, likely to have an understanding of the faith that is akin to evangelical Protestantism with its emphasis on Jesus and not on the institutional church. To the extent that such is true, I rejoice. I’ve personally known RCs who believe in JBFA in the Protestant sense but just stay RC because its how they were raised or they want to effect change within the church from within. My experience isn’t unusual. I’ve known other evangelicals who have experienced the same thing. More power to those RCs, but I think their mission is doomed to failure.

    This is why you are an anti-Catholic bigot. Rather than drawing the obvious conclusion, which is that maybe you (and they) are wrong about what Catholics believe about “the institutional church,” like a normal person would do, you instead assume that they must be some kind of aberrant saboteurs who are denying what Catholicism actually believes. This is crazy town. Your experience should have taught you the same thing that Trueman’s interaction with people he describes as “Catholic friends” taught him, which is that they are lovers of Jesus who trust in nothing else for their salvation. They may be wrong, but they don’t deny Jesus as their Savior in the way the Judaizers did.

    rueman wasn’t a signatory to ECT, and I know that he views attempts to paper over differences with Rome as impossible. I don’t personally know what he says about RCs who knowingly and consistently affirm Trent. Talking about American RCs as “Christian brothers” doesn’t imply that RCs who know and affirm all that Trent teaches, including its condemnation of Protestants to the curse of God, are in his view true Christians. He’s also unwilling to participate in explicitly religious gatherings with RCs, EOs, and others (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/reasons-separation/). As a Protestant, there is no reason to hold such a position if he believes Rome or the East profess a gospel that can save, especially when he’ll participate in similar gatherings with other Protestants who don’t share his Presbyterian convictions but who do agree with him on what the gospel is.

    That’s not true. His point is that he shouldn’t participate in religious exercises with respect to those practices that he thinks are not correct. He gave the example of not serving in certain capacities in a Baptist church, allowing occasional preaching but not in such a way that indicates full agreement. Presumably, Trueman would not attend a Catholic Mass based on this principle, but he doesn’t put Catholics in the “non-Christian” category of Islam or even among those denying basic tenets of the Gospel, such as the resurrection. That’s not to say that he agrees with us on everything, but he isn’t advocating the complete sort of religious separation that is the case with non-Christians.

    There’s a lengthy explanation here, where Trueman certainly maintains that there is still a profound disagreement on JBFA, but doesn’t say that Tridentine Catholics are Gospel-denying:
    http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/is-the-reformation-over.php

    That’s where you should be, i.e., getting over it to some extent, even if you don’t agree with us completely.

    But this is a convenient after-the-fact understanding that the church only acknowledged once it lost political power. And to say that requiring the state to exert authority over religious activity does not affect church worship is to ignore evidence. The state most definitely affects church worship wherever it is involved; to think otherwise is to ignore history, I’m sorry to say. When Rome made Christianity the official religion of the empire, the exaltation of the bishop of Rome first and then Constantinople was inevitable.

    Until such was dropped at V2, the faithful RC had no reason to believe that the state enforcement of RCism was not dogma.

    Says the guy whose denomination was formed over a political split in the Civil War, arguing that the state allegiance shouldn’t affect one’s religious commitments. Come on. The point is that the exertion of state power ins’t dogma; it’s practice. Even the Eastern Orthodox recognize that the emperor’s role was a matter of canon law and not dogma.

    To protest it, would incur the wrath of the church. You guys can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a necessarily infallible Magisterium to give you all your principled distinctions if no one at present knows what the Magisterium means. You can’t have it if the Magisterium doesn’t even know what the Magisterium means. It’s all ad hoc special pleading that eliminates any importance for actual doctrinal understanding in faith and practice in the present.

    You’re assuming that nobody knows the difference between canon law and dogma, even though that distinction was understandable. It’s not like people suddenly forgot that there was a time before Constantine when Christians were persecuted by the Roman Empire, as if Christians could ever forget that Jesus was persecuted by the Roman Empire! Heck, Constantius persecuted St. Athanasius *after* Nicaea. Bad Church rules happen, but they aren’t matters of apostolic faith.

    When the pope calls Billy Graham his brother in Christ as JPII did and Francis accepts the ordination of Anglicans and the orthodoxy of Kenneth Copeland as he recently did via video, I have no reason to conclude other than the fact that in Rome’s eyes, I’m no different from the East. The problem is that Trent is on the books, but none but the ultra-conservative RCs accept it anymore. Based on what Rome has said about itself, I have to believe that Trent is still official dogma out of respect for what Rome has said in context. The fact that Rome doesn’t even respect what it has said about itself in context is a huge problem that you guys keep trying to avoid.

    That’s because you’re equating faith with belief in a set of doctrines, and we aren’t. We think that there can be true but imperfect faith, so that one can sincerely serve Jesus even while being wildly wrong in their beliefs about Him (and, to a lesser extent, to serve God in the same way). You’re inferring that “brother” means “orthodox,” and that is the Protestant view of brotherhood, not the Catholic view. The “separated” in separated brethren means “separated by doctrine.” That separation is, among other things, the condemnations of Trent.

    And which Arian baptisms are considered orthodox? The ones made pre-Nicea and Constantinople? JW baptisms are certainly rejected. And the Catholic Encyclopedia says:
    “From the foregoing it is evident that not all baptism administered by heretics or schismatics is invalid. On the contrary, if the proper matter and form be used and the one conferring the sacrament really “intends to perform what the Church performs” the baptism is undoubtedly valid.”
    Which Arian intends to perform what the church performs? For that matter, which evangelical Baptist, Lutheran, or Presbyterian intends to perform what Rome performs? None of those baptisms should be valid. If they are, I can only conclude that modern Rome views me as fully orthodox.

    And that’s the whole point of this distinction between faith and belief in a set of doctrines. You (and the Arians) certainly don’t believe rightly about baptism or what you’re saying. But you do intend to invoke what the Church is attempting to invoke, even if you don’t understand what it is that you are trying to do. In other words, you can “do what the Church does,” as in engage in this act of the Christian life, even if you have no idea what you are really doing. You just flat don’t get what Catholicism is or what the faith Athanasius taught was, which is a way of life, not some technical understanding or explanation of how it works.
    (cont.)

  112. (cont.)
    As to the Catholics dealing with you, you’re just not understanding what they’re doing. It’s not true that there is *no* unity unless there us unity in truth, and that belief is *premodern*, not postmodern. The modern belief is that religion is something mental, the right belief about something. We are just affirming that unity is real (though not complete) without orthodoxy. This is why we can affirm separated brotherhood, separated by orthodoxy but united by ontology.

  113. PS, I’ve been having so many problems with the website lately that I will just move any further comments to my blog if I do anything. It’s just become too much of a waste trying to hop around the website glitches.

  114. Jim–

    How does an infant demonstrate his “generation”? By learning to walk and talk and feed himself. Babies demonstrate their lack of “regeneration” when they fail to develop spiritually.

    And yes, I believe firmly that hearts can be read…not infallibly, of course. But spiritual vitality (or lack thereof) is not that difficult to discern. Pretty much all of the Catholics I know are nominal believers or cultural believers or legalistic believers or superstitious believers. If your religion is so lively, why is this the case? You have adamantly refused to say there are different sorts of Catholics. I have offered to compare traditional, faithful Catholics with confessional Protestants, and you all have called that anathema. I’d have to go hunt down some faithful Catholics, but at least it would be something.

    What in the world does it mean for your faith to be the faith of the church…and for it to lack all conviction and all subjective experience? In other words, you have no faith, as far as you know…and you’re sure hoping the Catholic Church has some pull with God because otherwise you’re out of luck.

    My relationship with my wife is stronger emotionally than when we wed, and it just keeps getting stronger. There have been no real ups and downs. Sorry about your marriage.

    I post here because I want to learn what my blind spots are when it comes to the details of Roman Catholicism. I have no illusions about changing livelong, hardened Catholics such as yourself. But I am daily surrounded by thousands and thousands of less committed Catholics whom I may have some positive influence over.

    It seems entirely disingenuous for you to complain that my rhetoric would never make Protestantism tempting for would-be Catholic converts. If I weren’t opposed to Catholicism before I arrived here, I sure would be now. You and Mateo and De Maria and Jonathan have made the Church of Rome about as appealing as completely unsalted oatmeal. Kenneth and James and Dennis, when he was around, add a little saltiness. But your own rhetoric is certainly not intended to create a millieu of peace and understanding and Christian love.

    Why are you here?

  115. Jonathan–

    Robert’s denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, formed in 1973 due to the increasing liberalism of the PCUS, the Southern branch of mainstream American Presbyterianism. Yes, Dabney and the like are forbearers in some sense, But the PCA has been vociferously anti-racist since its inception.

  116. Jonathan–

    So let me get this straight. If I believe in a Jesus who was thoroughly hellenized (so as to be more-or-less non-Jewish) and one who never rose from the dead and who wasn’t God in the flesh and who didn’t care about sexual ethics and a hundred other misrepresentations so as to render Jesus completely unrecognizable–like liberal “Christians” do–and I’ll still be OK as long as my beliefs are sincere?

    That is seriously warped!

  117. +JMJ+

    Jonathan wrote:

    That’s because you’re equating faith with belief in a set of doctrines, and we aren’t. We think that there can be true but imperfect faith, so that one can sincerely serve Jesus even while being wildly wrong in their beliefs about Him (and, to a lesser extent, to serve God in the same way). You’re inferring that “brother” means “orthodox,” and that is the Protestant view of brotherhood, not the Catholic view. The “separated” in separated brethren means “separated by doctrine.” That separation is, among other things, the condemnations of Trent.

    This is one of the clearest and most succinct capsule summations that I’ve ever read. It’s like a faith-based factlet all wrapped up in a big, Christmas bow. One could (and maybe some should) use this as an autofill response on Dr. Hart’s site.

    Merry Christmas, y’all! 😀

  118. Eric,

    “I post here because I want to learn what my blind spots are when it comes to the details of Roman Catholicism.”

    Really? If true, why don’t you pay attention to what we tell you about ourselves and let it go at that?

    You were told that we believe in Baptismal regeneration. Rather than accepting it, you mock it.

    You don’t really care what we say. If you did, you would have tried to understand our view of justification/sanctification. We both know you didn’t even make an effort. Your demeanor is not that of an inquirer but a scoffer. That wouldn’t be so bad if you knew what you were scoffing.

    “I have no illusions about changing livelong, hardened Catholics such as yourself.”

    Eric, you bigot. You don’t understand me, have never made an honest effort to learn our system. Yet you would want to change me?
    You say I am “hardened”. Hardened? That isn’t a term that an inquirer should be using. Sounds like your mind is already made up.

    Eric, you are such a know it all. Remember the video I sent you by Jerry Walls? Do you recall your response? You said the guy didn’t understand Calvinism.
    Do you?

    ” But I am daily surrounded by thousands and thousands of less committed Catholics whom I may have some positive influence over.”

    What would a positive influence be? You have no roots. Believe in nothing but your own opinion. Your beliefs are still in flux.

    Why do I post here?

    Okay.
    I started posting after watching Jason’s video. I was shocked at what I saw. A certain troll was running amok with the type of slurs and rants that I had assumed had gone the way of the dinosaur. And on a Catholic site. As someone who was victimized as a kid by anti-Catholic bigotry, I felt compelled to oppose him. When I saw he was a hopeless case, I started pushing for his muzzling as what he was saying was not only offensive but blasphemous.
    That was my first experience with blogging. From there I started checking out other Protestant blogs and came to see how much vicious anti-Catholicism is out there.
    I have come to appreciate my own faith more and understand it better by seeing it juxtaposed with other belief systems.

    I also think the truth has a right to be told. So I try to correct the caricaturing of my faith I see on the Protestant blogs.

    I live in a predominately Catholic country where the faith is a given. Sure. there are some Protestants but not many. So, I use the computer to talk about things that folks over here take for granted. Even the Communists and Freemasons over here don’t say devotion to Fatima makes them “gag” like you did. While they hate the Church, they take it seriously.
    On the Protestant blogs, I try to clear up their misunderstandings of Catholicism. I don’t try to teach them their own religion or tell Protestants they don’t understand Protestantism.

    Okay?

  119. Wosbald–

    Right. One can believe in a Jesus who is not, in any way, shape, or form, the real Jesus and still be OK.

    Succinct and inspiring….NOT.

  120. In my experience, I have noticed something about people who are fanatical about their religious belief. When talking to a Muslim of the radical variety in my country, they always are on the offensive. Telling you about the hypocrisy of Christians, the thieving pastors, the decadent lifestyle of Christian countries, the lies of the Bible, etc. They will tell you to you face that you are an infidel, that you are going to be their servant in heaven. Now the conversation will go on okay as long as you are on the defensive, trying to counter and explain why his views are wrong. The moment you say something against Islam, you will see a change in the attitude of your interlocutor. He gets visible angry and mad, and might start cursing and swearing at you for opening your blasphemous, infidel mouth to speak against Islam. We have had religious crisis started precisely because of situations like this.

    It’s exactly how Robert and Eric in particular operate. As long as they are the ones attacking Catholicism with talks of idolatry, syncretism, religious intolerance etc., is all good. Let Catholics return the favour and they become apoplectic. Especially Erico. He hates CTC because of the strict moderation policy of not engaging in ad hominen. He got kicked out for calling Cardinal Newman a ‘twit”. So to him part of apologetics is allowing him the freedom to insult Catholic beliefs. And since CTC won’t accept such, he brands them as pansies who wouldn’t allow him to blow off steam. Now since the Catholics here on CCC are no longer giving him any quarter again, he is sulking and pouting. Witness his impotent fury towards me. He talks like he has even an iota of authority. Whereas he is just a limp, loudmouth with all the courage of dormouse.

    Erico
    I post here because I want to learn what my blind spots are when it comes to the details of Roman Catholicism.

    Mikel
    Your blind spot towards Catholicism has grown tremendously in your time here. When you get to the point when bared lying is okay to you, then you have really expanded the blind spot. And mind you we can also see the well-developed blind spot. It really is large.

    Erico
    I have no illusions about changing livelong, hardened Catholics such as yourself.

    Mikel
    Having illusions or not are cool. I mean that is why you are ready to lie through your teeth. The Catholics here are hardened, so using falsehood won’t bother them. Isn’t that how your mind operates?

    Erico
    But I am daily surrounded by thousands and thousands of less committed Catholics whom I may have some positive influence over.

    Mikel
    Why Catholics? I hear that Islam is rapidly growing in your country and the west. Why not make them your target as well. lol. Try talking about their beliefs the way you do Catholics. That will be fun.

    You just a weak, weak, insecure individual. It takes a special kind of insecurity for you to behave the way you do. Telling bare faced lies, insulting people’s belief without being able to stand attacks on your belief. Mocking people’s grammar on a religious forum. Saying something and being unable to stand by it. You are so limp.

  121. Erico
    In general, I skip over your rantings without reading them. The fact of the matter is that Robert, whom I do not and cannot and will not control, continues to supply oxygen for your infernal, demonic fires.

    Mikel
    In situation like this, telling the truth actually strengthens your position. Lies that are supposed to make you look unconcerned are very easy to spot, because you simply wouldn’t have bothered otherwise. If you don’t read my rants how have you been able to post your furtive and scared responses to me all this while? How did you know what I wrote if you didn’t read it? Why did you jump on Debbie like a roadside mugger when she made comments about my post? How did you know the nature of my post for you to condemn her? Or you just choose to attack her arbitrarily?

    And while you are telling Robert not to respond, you doing exactly that. You have been pussyfooting around my post, like a frightened thief. But here you are quite stupidly telling someone to stop doing what you have been and are doing.

    You see how far beneath me you are? I am not your equal here. I said you are my plaything. I use to wonder why you persist in posting here, despite constantly be shown up for the incompetent limp fraud you are. Then I realize you actually are serving a good purpose here. You and Robert are excellent example of the farcical and evil nature of Calvinism. Both of you are witnesses to that fact. So it’s alright. Stay here and continue with your mission. But take note of the environment. It has changed towards you.

    Merry Christmas everyone. Ignore the confused lunacy of Eric and Robert. It’s the last dance of the doomed. They are part of a group that is rapidly fading into the night. The only part of Christianity that is growing in any meaningful way in the world is Catholicism and Pentecostalism. Eric and the wolf pack hate Catholicism and disdains Pentecostalism. So they are not in the equation. Their Calvinism and its incompetent and weak god are actually trivial. It’s the case of empty vessel. They make the loudest noise. Ignore them. They really are insignificant.

  122. Gentlemen (I use the term loosely)–

    Any fair minded reader knows that one side here issues little more than incessant invective, and that the other side at least attempts serious dialogue. The insults have intensified. The insensitivity is rampant. The arrogance, stifling. The total misrepresentations, progressively worse.

    Merry Christmas, guys!!

    Peace on earth; good will toward men (except Protestant “cockroaches”).

  123. Jonathan–

    I’m still utterly confused by your statements (as well as bewildered, nonplussed, and mystified).

    So faith to you has no doctrinal content? Faith in what??

    You can’t even reply without employing theological tenets. Do you have some sort of a bare minimum that you require? Or do you indiscriminately accept every individual’s genuinely held “faith”?

  124. Eric,

    “What difference is there in your mind between those who lose their regeneration by omission and those who were never regenerated in the first place?”

    One was infused with faith, hope, and love. The other was not.

    “Given the Protestant paradigm, Augustinian “election” and Reformed “regeneration” are so much closer to being equivalent than anything else.”

    And so the key question (again) is are all the initially justified and regenerate the elect for Augustine or not? Are all Christians who fall away to be considered to have never been Christians in the first place, or are they simply (if never restored) not to be considered the elect? In both cases, I believe it’s clear Augustine affirms the latter.

    “Baptismal “regeneration” is not relevant, even in a tangential sense.”

    Of course it’s relevant if Augustine believed it. If Augustine believes in baptismal regeneration and that faith, hope, and love are infused in it and that those who undergo it are *true* Christians, but can fall away through mortal sin, there is simply no way to hold that he believed in “initial permanence”. You can’t even say he believes in “initial permanence” for the elect because the citations above show that the elect can indeed commit mortal sin (but will be restored – as they have to be, by definition).

    “I have no clue how you can confidently assert what he believed on the matter.”

    Jonathan and I have offered 4 citations – more could be adduced – that directly address the matter. Augustine taught mortal and venial sin distinction which makes no sense if your analysis is correct. Augustine taught restoration through confession/penance which makes no sense if your analysis is correct. The only thing you’ve offered in reply is a dismissal of Augustine’s belief on baptismal regeneration as irrelevant (which is baffling) and an analysis of a citation of mine which simply redefines terms and misses the point.

    “Protestant (initial) justification, which includes the regeneration of becoming a new creature in Christ with a new heart of flesh, is permanent. The justification is permanent.”

    Yes, so mortal sin doesn’t kill it. So much for Augustine.

    “In other words, when we speak of either justification or regeneration, we are speaking of traits possessed by the elect.”

    Yes but Augustine doesn’t limit it to the elect, as you do. That’s the problem.

    “It is merely appearance. This “appearance” of Christian faith is that to which Augustine appeals.”

    Completely wrong. Augustine nowhere teaches those who commit mortal sin only “appeared” to be justified or Christian. He teaches the opposite. You keep thinking that because he teaches the elect are the elect, that means he holds to “initial permanence” for all Christians, or that those who fall away only appeared to be true Christians. That’s an unjustified leap.

    “The rest of your reply just goes to show how little you understand about Reformed thought.”

    Your free to point out where I’ve misunderstood Reformed thought instead of only asserting it. I’ve substantiated my claim you misrepresented RC theology on justification by actually interacting with and showing where your assertions are off. You have not shown where my assertions are off – note that none of my assertions have said the Reformed deny infused righteousness or union which you somehow apparently think I have – it’s important to distinguish between what could be my misrepresentation and what may be your misrepresentation of my statements.

    As an aside and in the spirit of the season, I will say some of the invective here is getting a bit out of hand – I was actually perusing Scupoli’s classic The Spiritual Combat today (free online) – even when these discussions get heated, some may want to see them as providential opportunities to grow in virtue and dial down the prideful rhetoric (not that I exempt myself of course).

  125. Whenever I see Eric on the defensive and cry the victim I always feel a perverse sense of fulfilment. Maybe I actually possess an evil streak. It’s fun either way. And it makes me say: “Mission accomplished”

    I have often seen this expression being bandied on some blogs, that a little “heat” is allowed. By “heat” is meant a “little” insult, snark, condescension is ok here and there. I often wonder how that is supposed to work in practise. Is it like, I insult you one and you insult me one? I insult you one and half, and you insult me one and half? How do you draw the line that has on one side allowable “heat” and on the other side “not allowable heat”? how is it supposed to work?

    I think it’s just an excuse for people to come online and insult other people’s belief. Its either you cut out all patronizing, mocking, derisive, insulting comments or you don’t. Trying to allow a little heat is a guaranteed failure because there is really nothing like a little insult, a little mocking, and derisive comment. Once it is allowed, it is certain to spiral into an escalating exchange of insults and you won’t be able to tell when little “heat” became giant “heat”. Cut it out totally. No “heat”. Little or any size. If you want heat or an avenue to blow off steam, go to a steam power station.

    My purpose here has been two fold. One is to inform people like Eric, that insulting people’s belief has no place on a Christian blog. If you do that be guaranteed that sooner or later, the gesture will be returned and you don’t have any moral leg to stand on and complain. You insult people and when they respond likewise and beat you at it, you turn around and say it is too much. Why is it too much? Why did you start it at all? What is civilized about a little “heat” that involves insulting people? Is that normal? Is that how you live your life every day?

    Secondly and more important is to again tell Eric, Robert and any other semi-illiterates out there that you don’t get to make generalized statement about people who don’t know much about. Do not insult Africans as a means of attacking the Catholic Church. I don’t care who you are, I am going to come after you relentlessly until you start doing what Eric is doing now; “Everybody look! See how Mikel has been insulting me!”

    Whether you admit it or not, you Eric, Robert and who ever had other ideas before has been enlightened. Being African doesn’t mean being an idiot. It has dawned on you that not only can an African equal you, I have easily outmatch you. And understand I am using your language, the language that you so arrogantly flaunt with your purported linguistic skills. English is not my first language. I wouldn’t even say second language. And I got all my education in Africa. Some I have used your own language to make you look like the clueless Muppet you are. Your fellow Westerners may be okay with you insulting and patronizing them, but this African isn’t willing to. Family is supreme here. And since you don’t respect other people, I simple took the respect from you.

    So you have changed from saying Africans are syncretising idiots who can’t tell the difference between worship and veneration, to calling me arrogant. Good. You have learnt. When next you see an African, you will always recall how Mikel handed your rear to you. Using your own language.

    Anyway I am here. Patrolling. You are not getting an inch any longer from me. Guaranteed.

    And you are actually fading into the night.

  126. Mikel,

    I just read this line again. Do you guys see how hatred, killings and war are started and perpetuated, all in the name of religion? What is really wrong with you Robert? Are you truly this evil?

    If it is evil to believe what Jesus said, then I guess I’m evil. Jesus is quite clear that He came to bring not peace but a sword. That doesn’t mean people have to kill each other; it does mean that we don’t play Kumbaya and pretend that we all are on a different path that all leads to the same place.

  127. Jonathan,

    What you are advocating is a Christianity that is orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. The problem is that such is not Christianity in any traditional sense. Even secular scholars of religion note that what sets Christianity apart from other faiths (at least one of the things), is that there there is a focus on doctrine.

    And where is Athanasius outlining his full-orbed doctrine of justification? Where does Augustine for that matter? It goes back to what Eric has said—you can read the church fathers and make them RC. You can read them and make them Protestant. They just aren’t laying things out systematically as was done by both Rome and the Protestants in the Reformation. There is not a focus on justification. The focus is on who God is and who Christ is. That’s not tangential; but you are continuing to act as if the fathers were Tridentine RCs even while you protest that such is not what you are dong. Protestants affirm that works are involved in salvation; it just depends on what you mean by that.

  128. @Eric:
    It’s Christmastide, which is supposed to be Good News for everyone, so maybe now is a good time to speak to it. There’s a reason that God was Incarnate as an infant, not as an adult, and it wasn’t just so that Jesus could experience “all stages of human life” (although that was an interesting idea by St. Irenaeus). The point is exactly that even an infant has all he needs to be in full communion with the eternal God, to receive the divinity in his humanity.

    Even the wisest theologian with the most perfect grasp of every known theological point is an infant compared to the object of his study. How well we receive theological truths is going to be a function of our human intelligence, but the degree of our faith in comprehension tells nothing of the degree of faith in working to bring us into communion with God. The faith that defines communion with God is the communion with God in the soul, with the belief being only an expression of that inner trait in correspondence with one’s belief. Love is a better indicator of that true faith, that intimate inner relationship with the very object of one’s knowledge, than any degree of theological comprehension.

    The point is that plenty of adults are still milk-drinkers (infants) from the perspective of faith. The more mature you are in faith, and the better you know God, the more you realize that God doesn’t need anything from us. God doesn’t need His name praised above others; He doesn’t need an elect, and He doesn’t need to have people running around and doing things for Him. He has done this all for our benefit out of sheer generosity, not because He needs anything for us, but because He knows what we need. That’s why universalism has always been a “better” error to hold from the Christian perspective than exclusivism (like Judaizing or Calvinist covenant theology).

    That’s also why iconoclasm is a Christian heresy, nor orthodoxy. The jealous God who hated idolatry above all else did so because He was not yet Incarnate. But the Incarnation reversed all that, proclaiming the Good News to all men. Through Christian history, we’ve sometimes mistaken that for worldly universality (“yay! we control the empire!” “yay! the Pope is the most powerful European sovereign!”). But I believe we’ve finally internalized the ability to see Christ in everyone, and Pope Francis seems to have a real gift for this. For the first time since the persecution of the early Church, we are living the doctrine to love our enemies and to pray for those persecuting us.

    From our perspective, you’re all infants (except the true but schismatic churches, the Eastern Orthodox). OK, so maybe the conservative Calvinist is the four-year-old, and the liberal Protestant is the three-year-old, and the militant Muslim or the atheist is flopping around on the floor or not even breathing. The point is that none of you are able to completely annihilate your human capacity for faith; that’s the Good News of the Incarnation. It doesn’t mean you’re right, because from the theological perspective, you’re all screwed up. But it means that you aren’t cut off from the connection that God made with all of humanity on Christmas. So we’re patient, waiting on the work of God, not because you’re right, but because God will bring you along in His own time (unless you don’t want to be brought along).

    So we’ll just smile at you spoiled children, fighting over not getting the same bike that your big brother got, and wish you all a Merry Christmas!

  129. @Robert:

    What you are advocating is a Christianity that is orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. The problem is that such is not Christianity in any traditional sense. Even secular scholars of religion note that what sets Christianity apart from other faiths (at least one of the things), is that there there is a focus on doctrine.

    You’re confusing individual salvation with Christianity. What also separates Christianity from other faiths is that it is universal in scope. In other words, the Incarnation benefits all of humanity, even those who don’t believe in it.

    And where is Athanasius outlining his full-orbed doctrine of justification? Where does Augustine for that matter? It goes back to what Eric has said—you can read the church fathers and make them RC. You can read them and make them Protestant. They just aren’t laying things out systematically as was done by both Rome and the Protestants in the Reformation. There is not a focus on justification. The focus is on who God is and who Christ is. That’s not tangential; but you are continuing to act as if the fathers were Tridentine RCs even while you protest that such is not what you are dong. Protestants affirm that works are involved in salvation; it just depends on what you mean by that

    Athanasius and Augustine both say that justification can be lost and that the regenerated can be damned for unrepentant sin. That’s not even debatable; the Protestants erroneously thought otherwise during the Reformation, because they were relying on limited prooftexts available in medieval florilegia, but nobody today actually believes that anymore. So it’s not a question of thinking that they were Tridentine; I actually just maintain that they believed the common doctrine of pre-Tridentine Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy that justification could be lost by mortal sin and that the truly regenerate could later be damned. And because Protestantism is opposite on this point, there’s no middle ground available; either Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism is right and Protestantism is wrong, or vice versa.

    It’s not a question of whether works are “involved” in salvation; it’s a question of whether justification, the declaration that one is free from sin, can be lost by subsequent sin. In other words, can the truly regenerate later be damned for sin? There is no question that all of the Fathers for whom we have documentation believed that we could, i.e., that someone in completely right relationship with God could later be damned. Yes, that’s a Tridentine doctrine, but it’s also an Eastern Orthodox doctrine, and it was also a medieval doctrine before the Reformation was a glimmer in anyone’s eye. Unless you believe that works are relevant to salvation in that specific way, i.e., that avoidance of mortal sin is necessary to avoid losing one’s justification (or alternatively, that justification is precarious and subject to being permanently lost so that even the non-elect can be truly justified), then you don’t accept that works are involved in salvation in the relevant sense.

  130. James–

    1. What I was asking was whether anyone could tell the difference between children who had been baptized and those who had not. Unless there is a criterion for falsifiability, all you have is blind faith that anything occurred.

    2. Of course, Augustine believes that all those who are Protestantly regenerate cannot fall away. For they ARE the elect by definition. Case closed. What does being Catholically regenerate even mean in the long run? Anything?

    3. There is no such thing as being Protestantly regenerated by baptism, so Augustine couldn’t very well have believed in it, could he?

    4. Citations can never show what Augustine meant by justification or regeneration. We need a grasp on his whole body of work (and realize that he changed on many issues…thus his “Retractions”).

    5. With the Protestantly regenerate, one can fall away for a time or feel in danger of falling away for good, so mortal sin is perfectly consonant.

    6. Augustine doesn’t limit WHAT to the elect? Can you demonstrate definitively what Augustine MEANS by “justification”? Can you tell me what he WOULD have said about Protestant regeneration? I didn’t think so.

    7. for Augustine, the elect are the elect, and their numbers are fixed. For the rest, no salvation awaits. You can call them truly Christian if you like. You can believe that Augustine thought so. What you cannot do is prove it. We cannot read his mind.

    8. I agree. Misrepresentation on the part of one’s opponent is difficult to prove in many senses. You are operating from different starting points. Plus, if your opponent is wrong, then he is confused. If your opponent is right,then you yourself are confused. Sorry I even included the accusation. Just frustration setting in, I guess. Too, too often we do not clarify terms. For example, from this particular discussion, Protestant regeneration and Catholic regeneration are unrelated terms. Thus, we need to discuss them as if this is the case.

    9. Thank you for saying something about the vitriol being spilled around here. You yourself may be frustrating at times, but you are always a gentleman. I hope you have had a very Merry Christmas and that 2015 is your best year yet!! May God richly bless you and yours.

  131. PS, I should correct my post above with respect to saying “Protestants.” There are Protestants, such as Wesleyan Evangelicals and Lutherans, who believe that true Christians could apostasize (lose their faith) permanently. They believe that this is the only mortal sin, which is not the same thing, but only Calvinists maintained that the truly regenerate could never lost their salvation. So I should have said “Calvinists” and not “Protestants.”

  132. @Eric:

    What I was asking was whether anyone could tell the difference between children who had been baptized and those who had not. Unless there is a criterion for falsifiability, all you have is blind faith that anything occurred.

    You’ve been to a baptism, right? They don’t exactly go into the back room and then bring them back out.

    Citations can never show what Augustine meant by justification or regeneration. We need a grasp on his whole body of work (and realize that he changed on many issues…thus his “Retractions”).

    The quote I gave you on justification was from his late anti-Pelagian period, so this was not an area of change. What he meant by justification and regeneration is both obvious and plain; he is obviously citing the relevant Biblical passages. If we can’t know this from citation, we can’t know anything. You really sound insane on this point; if we don’t know this much about Augustine, then you’re practically on the level of denying whether Abraham Lincoln existed. No mind reading is required, any more than we need to read minds of any historical author to know what he was thinking.

    You seem to be in denial of the manifest fact, which is that the Protestants didn’t really know much about what Augustine actually wrote. The reason that Protestants took Augustine wildly out of context and interpreted him in ways that are easily ruled out in context is that all they had were the quotes in isolation. Thus, you’ll see many examples of quotes from Calvin where the quote seems reasonable, but when you go back to the original work, it obviously is taken out of context. That’s because, by and large, Calvin didn’t have the original work. If it were anyone but your spiritual forbear, you would simply say “wow, he got Augustine completely wrong.” But because you’re convinced that Calvin got Scripture right, you assume that he must have gotten Augustine right too, because Augustine must have seen the same thing. It just isn’t true.

    You on Augustine and Robert on Athanasius are equally ridiculous. You’re talking as if we, today, don’t know anything about them. What you’re saying is entirely true about the early Protestants who formed your view; they really didn’t have a clue about what those authors believed, and they just made stuff up that was only consistent with what they wrote out of ignorance. But we know, for sure and beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that the Fathers held the opposite of the Calvinist belief. Modern Protestant scholars just excuse this error on the part of the Fathers, which requires them to admit that it isn’t “Gospel-denying.” That’s the reasonable, contemporary Protestant position. It’s only people who believe that Catholicism is under the anathema of Galatians who have problems.

  133. Eric,

    “Of course, Augustine believes that all those who are Protestantly regenerate cannot fall away.”

    This is getting increasingly bizarre. It’s not the end of the world to just admit you think Augustine was wrong – remember as your apologists love to say “we can let the ecfs be the ecfs”. Again, the question has never been does Augustine believe the elect cannot fall away to ultimate perdition. You keep redefining terms – Augustine does not believe that the only true Christians are “Protestantly regenerate”; he does not conflate true christians with the elect as you do. That’s enough to dispel your assertion of “initial permanence”. But even further, he teaches that the elect can indeed fall away via mortal sin, although they will be restored via confession/penance. That again dispels “initial permanence” – Calvinists don’t believe the elect who fall into grave sin and backslide lost their justification when in that state.

    “There is no such thing as being Protestantly regenerated by baptism, so Augustine couldn’t very well have believed in it, could he?”

    Again Augustine believed in baptismal regeneration that justifies. That’s why he believed true Christians can lose justification via mortal sin. That’s not “initial permanence”.

    “Citations can never show what Augustine meant by justification or regeneration. We need a grasp on his whole body of work (and realize that he changed on many issues…thus his “Retractions”).”

    Curious on Augustine’s teaching on justication? Here you go – http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/07/st-augustine-on-law-and-grace/ and http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/47/47-1/47-1-pp089-120_JETS.pdf

    I’ll leave it to you and Robert to evaluate whether we’re looking at him through Tridentine-colored glasses and everyone is so hopeless at figuring out what he taught on justification.

    “With the Protestantly regenerate, one can fall away for a time or feel in danger of falling away for good, so mortal sin is perfectly consonant.”

    No, mortal sin is not perfectly consonant because they do not actually lose their justification. They are backslidden, but never apostate – ones who do end up falling away for good were simply never regenerate in the first place. That’s why the patristic teaching on restoration via confession/penance is rejected by your theology.

    “Augustine doesn’t limit WHAT to the elect?”

    What you limit to the elect – “when we speak of either justification or regeneration, we are speaking of traits possessed by the elect.” Justification and regeneration are not limited to the elect for Augustine.

    “What you cannot do is prove it. We cannot read his mind.”

    We can read what he wrote and what others wrote in the time he lived. On the matters under discussion he was pretty explicit. On other less clear matters, one makes inferences and inductions. No one approaches history in this “well let’s just throw our hands up because we can’t read minds” manner.

    Robert,

    “And where is Athanasius outlining his full-orbed doctrine of justification? Where does Augustine for that matter? It goes back to what Eric has said—you can read the church fathers and make them RC. You can read them and make them Protestant. They just aren’t laying things out systematically as was done by both Rome and the Protestants in the Reformation. There is not a focus on justification.”

    Of course there’s a focus on justification. For Augustine, do you think Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism were just tangential? For Athanasius, do you think Christology is just tangential to soteriology? Just because they don’t talk like Aquinas doesn’t mean we can’t find salient data points – did they believe in theosis and infusion/transformational model of justification? Did they hold to baptismal regeneration? Did they hold christians can lose salvation? Did they hold to restoration via confession/penance? Did they hold to mortal and venial sin distinction? Did they hold to synergism in justification? All of those doctrines are consistent with each other and anticipated by Trent. To try to wedge Protestant sola fide into them either entails they didn’t actually affirm these doctrines (which are gospel-denying according to you and Eric) or that they’re incoherent and massively inconsistent.

  134. Jonathan–

    1. You wrote:

    “Love is a better indicator of that true faith, that intimate inner relationship with the very object of one’s knowledge, than any degree of theological comprehension.”

    And what exactly IS love in your most humble opinion? Is it niceness? Or passionate desire? Or butterflies in the stomach? Does it even have anything to do with God for you?

    If so, which God? And what is he like? And how does one have an “intimate inner relationship” with him?
    (And how are these things NOT doctrinal?)

    2. If you cannot discern that most of your fellow Catholics are not milk drinkers at all, but still in the NICU hooked up to an IV (if they are alive in any sense). Anyone who can put liberal “Christians” one rung below the likes of Billy Graham and J.I. Packer and Jack Hayford can’t possibly have reached the level of maturity himself to even discern what “discernment” means.

  135. Mikel–

    I forgot to put in an independent clause on my comment to Jonathan just above (first sentence of #2).

    Score points while you can! Christmas sale!

  136. James–

    This is getting increasingly bizarre…on whose part?

    You wrote:

    What you limit to the elect – “when we speak of either justification or regeneration, we are speaking of traits possessed by the elect.” Justification and regeneration are not limited to the elect for Augustine.

    Catholic justification and Catholic regeneration are not limited to the elect for Augustine. Protestant justification and Protestant regeneration, which by definition are limited to the elect, must be so for Augustine, as well. Unless you are prepared to maintain that Augustine did not believe the elect to be justified or regenerate. Now, THAT’S buzarre!

    You’re just reading Augustine how you want to read him…and that goes for Haeckel and C2C, as well. Does Augustine use terms differently than Protestants would use them? Certainly. But what does he MEAN? Do you really believe that if Augustine were writing a systematic that he wouldn’t differentiate between the justification of the elect (which effects salvation) and the justification of the baptized non-elect (which does NOT effect salvation)? What do you think he is? Stupid?

  137. @Eric:
    Sacrifice for the good of others with no earthly reward is a pretty good definition of love.

    The reason that I put those people at the same level is precisely that belief is not much of a differentiator. Either you accept the objective faith, or you don’t. That’s the whole “principled means” thing. Among people who reject the principled means of revelation, the fact that they happen to be right on some things correlates rather poorly with the virtue of faith. What is a better sign is real, objective love. See the good Samaritan.

    As to Augustine, the work I quoted was a systematic text written to St. Prosper of Aquitaine, who is recognized as a direct influence of Orange. It explicitly says that the justification of the elect and non-elect (who are justified) is identical, i.e., that they are the same with respect to justification. If your view were correct, the text wouldn’t exist. It is conclusive proof of the falsity of your view that it does.

  138. Eric,

    “Does Augustine use terms differently than Protestants would use them? Certainly. But what does he MEAN?”

    I agree getting to meaning and not just terms/semantics is important (hence the misfire of Robert’s puritanmind link that was equating any mention of the words faith or faith alone in ecfs as somehow implying or forerunning Protestant sola fide). That’s why the CtC and Heckel articles are valuable because they are actually engaging in thorough analysis of the relevant data.

    “Do you really believe that if Augustine were writing a systematic that he wouldn’t differentiate between the justification of the elect (which effects salvation) and the justification of the baptized non-elect (which does NOT effect salvation)?”

    He would differentiate between those who are given the gift of perseverance vs those who don’t (but who are also justified and regenerate). Which is exactly what he does. What he doesn’t do is say those who don’t persevere were only given the “appearance” of justifying grace or regeneration (a la Calvin) – both the elect and justified non-elect differ not in the grace of justification, but in the grace of perseverance. That torpedoes the notion of “initial permanence” you asserted he holds.

  139. Jonathan–

    “Sacrifice for the good of others with no earthly reward” is a pretty good definition for “self-sacrifice” (no one is termed self-sacrificial when the sacrifice given is for others’ ill or for personal remuneration).

    Love is either tied up with the knowledge and experience of God–who is himself Love–or it is not love, properly speaking.

    The so-called “principled means” (in the sense they are Roman and not merely Christian) are neither principled nor the conveyance to any intellectual or spiritual destination. They are only for already committed Catholics and vulnerable wannabe’s. Everyone else thinks they’re crap.

    You and James just don’t get it. Permanent [Protestant] justification of the elect and temporary [Catholic] “justification” of the non-elect cannot be considered “identical” by any rational being. They simply are not the same thing. One saves, and the other does not.

  140. Jonathan–

    Part of what you see as our “difference” with Augustine (and Tridentine soteriology, for that matter) is merely a choice. A kite without a tail can be seen as a dysfunctional kite or as no kite at all (but as a diamond-shaped piece of fabric stretched across a frame). If you have such an entity at a kite competition, and someone asks if you have a kite, you will undoubtedly answer, “No.” On the other hand, if someone offers you a trade-in for your old kite–no matter the condition–for a steep discount on a new one, you will answer, “Yes.”

    “Justification” of the non-elect is like a river without the water or a pickle without the cucumber.

  141. James–

    You’re trifling with me. Augustine would hold that the elect are unfailingly given the gift of perseverance. The justification of the elect is permanent…and saves. the “justification” of the non-elect is impermanent and cannot save.

    Sorry, but I was not impressed with either Heckel or C2C. If you could put yourself in the mindset of a confessional Protestant, you could see that. There may well be convincing evidence, but I have yet to see it. I have no commitment to Augustine’s views, one way or the other. And they are not nearly as significant to my paradigm as to yours. I am not blinded by paradigmatic commitments. My interpretation is simply my straightforward reading of Augustine, trying to ascertain what he really MEANS.

  142. James–

    Just so you understand where I am coming from. I’m inherently cynical concerning established consensi. (Yes, Mikel, I know that the “correct” plural of ‘consensus’ is “consensuses.” I just find it entirely too ungainly to employ.)

    Not just Heckel takes the stance he does in Evangelical circles. Phillip Cary, at Eastern University, is an acknowledged authority on Augustine and takes a similar stance. They may yet convince me, but I can be pretty stubborn.

  143. James–

    Part of the reason I’m cynical about Patristic consensi in particular is that just about the only scholars delving into the area are either Roman Catholic or what I would call “ambitious” Evangelicals.

    E.J. Carnell, a brilliant, rising Evangelical scholar in the fifties and sixties is known for his yearning to be taken seriously in academia as a whole. He became clinically depressed and died of a drug overdose, possibly accidental, possibly not.

    I have known any number of Evangelical scholars, willing to change their views to conform to academia. It’s not the same as with Catholic scholars. Catholic scholars, by and large, are accepted in the academy. Evangelical theology is derided as “devotional” rather than “scholastic” in nature. Evangelical theologians are routinely frozen out of faculty positions at secular university Religion departments. In fact, I know of no Evangelical scholar at a state university Religion department anywhere in the United States. I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder.

    I believe Heckel and Cary are both at Baptist schools. But I suspect them of wishing to accrue popularity and prestige through conformity. (Cary, for example, is featured in a number of “Great Courses” offerings, usually reserved for liberal scholars like Bart Ehrman and Amy-Jill Levine.)

  144. @Eric:

    Love is either tied up with the knowledge and experience of God–who is himself Love–or it is not love, properly speaking.

    I agree. And because God became human, all human love is now an opportunity to experience divine love. To put it another way, it is not possible to love humanly, consistent with our nature, without that love being an opportunity for grace. That doesn’t mean every act of love is an act of grace, but it has the potential to be.

    The so-called “principled means” (in the sense they are Roman and not merely Christian) are neither principled nor the conveyance to any intellectual or spiritual destination. They are only for already committed Catholics and vulnerable wannabe’s. Everyone else thinks they’re crap.

    I’m just explaining to you why anything you say on a theological matter is going to be worthless to me. It would be like me learning physics from an astrologer or chemistry from an alchemist; your method has no objective grounding in reality and provides no reason for anybody to think it will produce truth. That’s the definition of a method that’s going nowhere.

    You and James just don’t get it. Permanent [Protestant] justification of the elect and temporary [Catholic] “justification” of the non-elect cannot be considered “identical” by any rational being. They simply are not the same thing. One saves, and the other does not.

    Again, I agree, and Augustine held the Catholic view of justification (i.e., nobody receives justification that is saving in and of itself), and not the Protestant view.

    Part of what you see as our “difference” with Augustine (and Tridentine soteriology, for that matter) is merely a choice. A kite without a tail can be seen as a dysfunctional kite or as no kite at all (but as a diamond-shaped piece of fabric stretched across a frame). If you have such an entity at a kite competition, and someone asks if you have a kite, you will undoubtedly answer, “No.” On the other hand, if someone offers you a trade-in for your old kite–no matter the condition–for a steep discount on a new one, you will answer, “Yes.”

    “Justification” of the non-elect is like a river without the water or a pickle without the cucumber.

    Yes, if you want to say that actually being declared righteous and regenerated by God is meaningless, then what Augustine means by “justification” is meaningless. As long as you are willing to admit that both those who are later permanently lost and those who persist to the end are changed in exactly the same way, receive the exact same declaration of righteousness and the exact same indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and are made new creatures in exactly the same way, so that the only thing that distinguishes them is receiving the later gift of final perserverance and not in any way their regeneration and justification, you’re right that the distinction is merely terminological. To use your analogy, as long as you are willing to admit that Christians receive only the diamond-shaped piece of fabric on a frame and not the tail when they are regenerated, so God has to give them something else to be saved, then you and Augustine are on the same page.

    So for example…

    Augustine would hold that the elect are unfailingly given the gift of perseverance. The justification of the elect is permanent…and saves. the “justification” of the non-elect is impermanent and cannot save.

    Yes, and he also holds that the elect are NOT given the gift of perseverance at justification. In other words, being able to keep justification is, for Augustine, a completely separate gift from justification itself. Hence, the justified must ask for an additional gift in order to be saved, and if God does not give them this additional gift, then they will fall into sin and be damned. The justification of the elect is therefore NOT permanent for anyone who can still sin, and nobody receives perseverance at justification except for those who die literally at the moment of justification (baptism by blood or a person who is baptized at the moment of death).

    As long as you admit that there is no difference in justification between the elect and non-elect, i.e., that justification alone does not save and that justified people can be damned, you agree with Augustine.

    This isn’t a question of academic consensus. Augustine says exactly what I just said:
    “Lastly, had not both been called, and followed Him that called them? and had not both become, from wicked men, justified men, and both been renewed by the laver of regeneration? But if he were to hear this who beyond all doubt knew what he was saying, he might answer and say: These things are true. In respect of all these things, they were of us.”

    Both were (interiorly) called, justified, and regenerated identically. There was nothing different about them in this respect. The *only* difference was that one later received the gift of final perserverance and the other didn’t. I don’t even know what convincing is required here. That’s from “On the Predestination of the Saints and on the Gift of Perservance,” a late work representing Augustine’s full considered opinion on the subject, including reconsideration of his previous works, and he says that justification alone isn’t enough. What convincing is required?

  145. PS, I noticed another remark that I think should be emphasized:

    Part of the reason I’m cynical about Patristic consensi in particular is that just about the only scholars delving into the area are either Roman Catholic or what I would call “ambitious” Evangelicals.

    It’s interesting that you left out the Eastern Orthodox, because they continue to be very strong in this field, and they frequently disagree with the older Catholic scholarship. As to the Evangelicals, I can’t help but wonder if you’re carrying the study of Scripture over to patristics. Scripture implicates all sorts of other cultural issues that really aren’t relevant to most patristic work, while patristics is much closer to contemporary history in terms of having well-established languages and a literate class that frequently communicated in writing. So I think that the gap actually speaks much more clearly to a real problem that Protestants have, much as the absence of Evangelical engagement in evolutionary biology indicates a real gap in scientific study.

    I generally agree with your assessment that Protestant patristics is a ghost town, with one bit of nuance: the more Arminian/Wesleyan Protestants are still contributors (e.g, Everett Ferguson, Thomas Oden). Where there is a real gap is among Reformed Protestants, who really seem to have dropped off the map entirely. The few Reformed names I can think of tend toward the Anglo-Catholic, barely Reformed, end of the spectrum. And even the few Reformed people I can remember reading don’t seem to condemn Catholics as being Gospel-denying or espousing “works salvation” (at least, I don’t remember people like Widdicombe, Fairbairn, or Haykin ever saying things like that).

    What I take from this is that honest patristics scholars just can’t avoid admitting that, at the very least, what Catholics say doesn’t fall under the anathema of Galatians (unless we want to condemn the whole patristic age). This is just like honest evolutionary biologists being unable to accept human creation dating back six thousand years (or so) to a single pair of individuals. The reason one doesn’t find these people in those fields is that the facts are completely inhospitable to their (wrong) worldview. So the people who work in these areas are trying to cultivate academic respectability, not in order to advance their careers, but really to cover for their embarrassingly backward co-religionists who seem constitutionally incapable of accepting reality on these points, no matter how clear the evidence.

    And by the way, there are a lot of backwards Catholics in the traditionalist wing of the Church who do the same thing. This isn’t a Protestant problem; it’s a “can’t adapt their religious beliefs to facts” problem.

  146. +JMJ+

    Jonathan wrote:

    And by the way, there are a lot of backwards Catholics in the traditionalist wing of the Church who do the samething. This isn’t a Protestant problem; it’s a “can’t adapt their religious beliefs to facts” problem.

    OTOH, all facts are theory-laden.

    That is all.

  147. Jonathan–

    I never thought I’d be saying this, but a hearty “amen” to Wosbald! You, Jonathan, are so dang blind to your own weaknesses and blind spots. The history of “respectable” science is rife with instances of scientists holding onto old paradigms for far too long. Their very jobs tend to be tied to these anti-science circumstances. Good science is SUPPOSED to question everything. Even that which is firmly established. even that which has been around for a long, long time. Obviously, much that is established has been established soundly and thoroughly and will not be overthrown. But it is not true BECAUSE it has been established. You appear to be more impressed with the establishment of facts than the ultimate truth of facts.

    You didn’t bother to take what I said seriously (either that or you have real difficulty thinking for yourself and merely regurgitate what you’ve read). At any rate, most of what you wrote doesn’t deserve a reply.

    I will take on your Augustine quote as an example of how sloppily you research.

    Directly after your quotation, are these words:

    “But if he were to hear this who beyond all doubt knew what he was saying, he might answer and say: These things are true. In respect of all these things, they were of us. Nevertheless, in respect of a certain other distinction, they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they certainly would have continued with us. What then is this distinction? God’s books lie open, let us not turn away our view; the divine Scripture cries aloud, let us give it a hearing. They were not of them, because they had not been “called according to the purpose;” they had not been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; they had not gained a lot in Him; they had not been predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things. For if they had been this, they would have been of them, and without doubt they would have continued with them.

    This is why I say your view of justification is meaningless. Your concept of “justification,” according to Augustine, affords one no call, no selection, no securing of union with Christ, and no glory at the end of days. If one in such a circumstance is actually justified in some way, it is only as a temporary fiction within the mind of God.

    Give your citations in their entire context or do not provide them. Quit wasting my time!!

  148. Jonathan–

    And just as an example of your inability to think clearly, let’s take the kite analogy. The elect are PREDESTINED to receive the gift of perseverance, and thus to achieve final justification. In the timeless mind of God, their kites have a tail from the get go. It is NOT contingent on human effort. If it were, it would be nothing more than mere foreknowledge on God’s part. The very verb “to predestinate” would either be superfluous or devoid of meaning.

    So, in other words, nothing is and nothing can be added. It’s either there…or it’s not.

  149. Jonathan–

    And just for good measure, the Reformed cannot “tend” toward Anglo-Catholicism and remain Reformed. There is too much divergence between the two camps. Perhaps you simply meant that liturgically these guys were high church. Or that their sacramentality was stronger than you feel the Reformed normally exhibit.

  150. Eric,

    “Your concept of “justification,” according to Augustine”

    You mean Augustine’s concept of justification. What you just cited from Augustine was differentiating the elect from the non-elect. It was not differentiating them based on 2 different types of “justification” that are separately applied to the elect and non-elect (they were both justified and renewed/regenerated as he says). He is clear the difference lies in perseverance, not justification. That’s why there was nothing in Jonathan’s citation that was out of context that your citation somehow provided. If the RC view of justification is “meaningless”, then so is Augustine’s.

    Let’s cut to the chase – where is the citation from Augustine demonstrating your assertion of “initial permanence” and meaningful as opposed to RC meaningless justification? Where is a scholarly or academic article supporting your assertions? We’re all waiting for it. Forget whether it’s accurate or not for now (your cynicism of scholars and bare citations above) – It should be easy – and necessary – to provide something, anything that at the very least superficially supports your view or is a promising lead. Can you please provide it? I’ve seen plenty of citations and analysis from one side but nothing yet in support of your assertion.

  151. Jonathan–

    One last thing: I don’t happen to have an “I can’t adapt my religious beliefs to scientific facts” attitude. I study cosmology and evolutionary biology without fear that it will conflict with biblical truth…in the long run. In the meantime, I hold apparently conflicting “facts” in tension: something you evidently don’t bother to do.

    That’s because you have an “I can’t adapt my scientific beliefs to biblical facts” attitude. Scripture unambiguously describes a literal six-day creation, which you throw out without a moment’s hesitation…due to your fixed presuppositions. I honestly don’t know that there is any imaginable way to quickly create an immense universe without the appearance of age. So if such a thing happened, there is no dishonesty on God’s part. I live in a modern world, and I have a difficult time overthrowing the concept of an old earth. But to automatically rule out a young-earth scenario is to rule out the incredible nature of God’s power and to undermine the authority of Scripture (if only by the lackadaisical way in which you pitch the traditional understanding of these passages…including most ECF’s).

  152. James–

    Well, you can start with the citation of Augustine which I provided Jonathan above (10:53 pm).

    I’ll hunt you down some more.

  153. Eric,

    Re old/ young earth … that’s my position too. I keep an open mind — and yes, certain things in tension …

  154. James–

    I didn’t read your comment correctly the last time around. You were responding to my quotation of the Bishop of Hippo.

    Yes, Augustine IS INDEED saying that justification for the elect and the non-elect are different. From the very beginning, the non-elect are not called according to the Lord’s purpose; they are not chosen of God; hey have no portion with Christ; they are neither foreknown nor foreordained. In other words, their “justification” is so different that I keep putting it in quotes. They are so different that if one be called justification, the other really ought to be called something else.

  155. James–

    Catholic dogma asserts that justification, once one is baptized, is granted immediately, progressively, and finally.

    Here, in chapter 45 of “On the Spirit and the Letter,” Augustine eschews any such thing as progressive justification, opting for a justification that is given totally as well as immediately. (He makes no remark as to whether it is temporary or permanent.)

    But the statement that “the doers of the law shall be justified” [Romans 2:13] must be so understood, that we may know that they are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be justified, so that justification does not subsequently accrue to them as doers of the law, but justification precedes them as doers of the law. For what else does the phrase “being justified” signify than being made righteous–by Him, of course, who justifies the ungodly man–in order that this ungodly man may become a godly one instead?

    For if we were to express a certain fact by saying, “The men will be liberated,” the phrase would of course be understood as asserting that the liberation would accrue to those who were men already; but if we were to say, “The men will be created,” we would certainly not be understood as asserting that the creation would happen to those who were already in existence, but that they became men by the creation itself. If in like manner it were said, “The doers of the law shall be honored,” we should only interpret the statement correctly if we supposed that the honor was to accrue to those who were already doers of the law: but when the allegation is, “The doers of the law shall be justified,” what else does it mean than that the just shall be justified? For of course the doers of the law are just persons. And thus it amounts to the same thing as if it were said, “The doers of the law shall be created”–not those who were so already, but that they may become such–in order that the Jews who were hearers of the law might hereby understand that they lacked the grace of the Justifier, in order to be able to become its doers also.

    On the other hand, the term “They shall be justified” can be used in the sense of, “They shall be deemed, or reckoned as just,” as it is predicated of a certain man in the Gospel, “But he, willing to justify himself,” [Luke 10:29], meaning that he wished to be thought and accounted just. In like manner, we attach one meaning to the statement, “God sanctifies His saints,” and another to the words, “Sanctified be Your name” [Matthew 6:9], for in the former case we suppose the words to mean that He makes those to be saints who were not saints before, and in the latter, that the prayer would have that which is always holy in itself be also regarded as holy by men, in a word, be feared with a hallowed awe.

    The inference to me is that true justification completely (and permanently) changes us…though I realize it doesn’t say so directly.

  156. Eric,

    Good quote … it’s so Luther …

  157. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    James wrote:

    Eric wrote:
    .
    Your concept of “justification,” according to Augustine …

    Eric, …
    .
    You mean Augustine’s concept of justification. What you just cited from Augustine …

    Augustine wrote:
    .
    But if he were to hear this who beyond all doubt knew what he was saying, he might answer and say: These things are true. In respect of all these things, they were of us. Nevertheless, in respect of a certain other distinction, they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they certainly would have continued with us. What then is this distinction? God’s books lie open, let us not turn away our view; the divine Scripture cries aloud, let us give it a hearing. They were not of them, because they had not been “called according to the purpose;” they had not been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; they had not gained a lot in Him; they had not been predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things. For if they had been this, they would have been of them, and without doubt they would have continued with them. [emphasis added by Eric]

    … was differentiating the elect from the non-elect. It was not differentiating them based on 2 different types of “justification” that are separately applied to the elect and non-elect (they were both justified and renewed/regenerated as he says). He is clear the difference lies in perseverance, not justification. That’s why there was nothing in Jonathan’s citation that was out of context that your citation somehow provided. If the RC view of justification is “meaningless”, then so is Augustine’s.

    James–
    .
    Well, you can start with the citation of Augustine which I provided Jonathan above (10:53 pm).

    Dude, James is referring to your citation of Augustine at 10:53 pm.

  158. Wosbald–

    Look, homey, I KNOW I goofed up…that’s why I wrote the following (stamped at 2:09 am):

    “James, I didn’t read your comment correctly the last time around.”

    (By the way, my autocorrect wanted to relabel you as “Wow, bald!”)

  159. Jason–

    Well, that makes sense. Luther was deeply influenced by “On the Spirit and the Letter.”

  160. James, Jonathan–

    If there were absolutely no difference in the justification/sanctification of the elect and the non-elect, wouldn’t it stand to reason that no one could have any assurance of salvation? For us, there are evidences we can look to, to see if we are on track, to prove to ourselves that we are not deluded, to make our calling sure. For you–all the way up until your last breath–God could pull the rug out from under you. Just like Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” only with pereseverance: “No perseverance for you!!”

    Thomas Aquinas went a little crazy in his last days…disavowed all of his previous work…called it straw. Perhaps he was not given the gift!! Thomas a Kempis has never been sainted, partly because he was buried still somewhat alive. Later, when disinterred for some reason, he was found to have clawed at the lid to his coffin. The Catholic Church surmised that he may have despaired in his final moments, losing his hope in the process. In other words, the gift may have effectively been pulled even after he was in the grave!

  161. @Eric:

    I will take on your Augustine quote as an example of how sloppily you research.

    If you look at the quote that I provided originally, along with the link to the source, it included the same text that you quoted here. There are two different calls: one to grace, one to glory. Receiving the former does not entail the latter.

    Catholic dogma asserts that justification, once one is baptized, is granted immediately, progressively, and finally.

    And those are three completely different forms of justification that all fall under the general category of justification (i.e., standing before God). Initial justification means that one has righteous status before God. Progressive justification is a measure of how good one appears before God, the degree of one’s goodness. And final justification is when God judges you righteous and admits you to Heaven. They are three different things referred to with the same term. “On the Spirit and the Letter” refers to initial justification, basic right standing before God.

    For you–all the way up until your last breath–God could pull the rug out from under you. Just like Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” only with pereseverance: “No perseverance for you!!”

    Yes, exactly. That’s Augustine’s doctrine of grace: because God doesn’t owe you anything, He can, at any moment, take away your justification without so much as an apology. Congratulations! You finally understand Augustine!

  162. Eric, you write:

    For us, there are evidences we can look to, to see if we are on track, to prove to ourselves that we are not deluded, to make our calling sure.

    Eric, what evidence do you have that you are not deluded? Show us that evidence! Lay it out so that we can know that you are not delusional in your thinking.

    Out of one side of your mouth, you defend the Calvinist doctrine that even the elect do nothing but commit sin worthy of damnation every moment of their lives. But the “bad people” that are predestined for damnation live their lives in exactly the same manner – they also do nothing but commit sin worthy of damnation every moment of their lives too.

    So tell us, exactly how do you know with certainty that you really are not one of the deluded men that merely think that they are going to heaven, but are, in fact, living in a delusional fantasy concerning that that point?

    Since you admit that you do nothing but commit sin worthy of damnation every moment of your life, what, exactly, makes your life any different from the life lived by the men that are predestined for damnation?

    If the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity is actually true, then there are deluded men who are “damned, but don’t know it yet”. You could be one of those men.

  163. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Wosbald–
    .
    Look, homey, I KNOW I goofed up…that’s why I wrote the following (stamped at 2:09 am):
    .
    “James, I didn’t read your comment correctly the last time around.”

    Ah. My bad.

  164. Eric,

    “Augustine eschews any such thing as progressive justification, opting for a justification that is given totally as well as immediately. (He makes no remark as to whether it is temporary or permanent.)”

    Your citation hasn’t done any work. RCs believe we have to be initially justified (which translates us into immediately having complete righteousness before God) in order to be a doer of the law. If your citation was relevant, apparently you believe Augustine would not consider sanctification and justification are interchangeable right? Because if sanctification is justification, then it follows he would believe in progressive justification which you claim he is eschewing. I’m hard-pressed to think of how such a denial would be consistent with the rest of his writings (or Protestant scholars who always run to the latin translation and his ignorance of Greek as causing his confusion) – and even if we limit it to Spirit and Letter we find he doesn’t actually eschew that – http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/07/st-augustine-on-law-and-grace/#spirit

    “The inference to me is that true justification completely (and permanently) changes us…though I realize it doesn’t say so directly.”

    Saying justification completely changes us does not entail it permanently changes all justified. So your “inference” makes him not only contradict the rest of his theology he expounds in his corpus of anti-Pelagian writings, but even himself within the same work. Perhaps you have another candidate you’d like to offer.

    I don’t know why you keep beating this horse – Augustine doesn’t even say anything “directly” as you admit to support your assertion. He does say plenty “directly” that supports the assertion the justified can lose justification via mortal sin and are not coterminous with the elect. You are making “inferences” that make him self-contradictory and incoherent (talk about reading minds) and then accuse others of sloppy research.

  165. James–

    Quit saying that Augustine says this and Augustine says that without providing full citations in context.

    I’ve read the C2C piece…sorry, not impressed.

  166. Jonathan–

    I really don’t care that there are two calls in your own personal paradigm. Show me where Augustine differentiates between a call to grace and a call to glory. I think your reading things into him.

    A number of the Catholics here have said that they can and do have a measure of assurance. I see that you are calling them liars (or bad Catholics).

  167. Wosbald–

    Hey, no sweat.

    Have a blessed New Year!

  168. @Eric:

    Show me where Augustine differentiates between a call to grace and a call to glory. I think your reading things into him.

    I can’t show you anything if your eyes are closed. Here’s the quote:

    But of two pious men, why to the one should be given perseverance unto the end, and to the other it should not be given, God’s judgments are even more unsearchable. Yet to believers it ought to be a most certain fact that the former is of the predestinated, the latter is not. “For if they had been of us,” says one of the predestinated, who had drunk this secret from the breast of the Lord, “certainly they would have continued with us.” What, I ask, is the meaning of, “They were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would certainly have continued with us”? Were not both created by God—both born of Adam—both made from the earth, and given from Him who said, “I have created all breath,” souls of one and the same nature? Lastly, had not both been called, and followed Him that called them? and had not both become, from wicked men, justified men, and both been renewed by the laver of regeneration? But if he were to hear this who beyond all doubt knew what he was saying, he might answer and say: These things are true. In respect of all these things, they were of us. Nevertheless, in respect of a certain other distinction, they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they certainly would have continued with us. What then is this distinction? God’s books lie open, let us not turn away our view; the divine Scripture cries aloud, let us give it a hearing. They were not of them, because they had not been “called according to the purpose;” they had not been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; they had not gained a lot in Him; they had not been predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things. For if they had been this, they would have been of them, and without doubt they would have continued with them.

    The distinction here is between being called and following and being called according to the purpose. With respect to the original call, they were identical. They both heard the call and followed God. Nonetheless, one was called according to the purpose (i.e., to persevere unto the end), and one was not. Two different calls: one to grace (which both received identically) and one to glory. That is why we are instructed to make our calling and election secure. The initial calling and election is insecure; if it is not coupled to the call according to the purpose, the gift of final perserverance, then it will be lost.

    That’s a lot of work to do for something that you should basically be able to figure out yourself. And that’s one clear passage. Do you think James is going to be able to (or to want to) spoon-feed you through hundreds of pages of Augustine’s anti-Pelagian corpus when you’re going to do the same thing over and over again? You have to take some responsibility for yourself here; otherwise, it would be a waste of time for us. You should, at the very least, first produce a detailed, fully researched, line-by-line rebuttal of the entire CtC article before asking us to do anything else.

    A number of the Catholics here have said that they can and do have a measure of assurance. I see that you are calling them liars (or bad Catholics).

    Yes, and we are talking about different kinds of “assurance.” Assurance is never the kind of assurance that we have about past events, as if it’s a “done deal.” It’s the kind of assurance we have about future events, which is not certainty. As long as we are continuing to ask for something in the future, as long as we are treating salvation not as something that we have, but something that God must give us, then that is a present sign that we have not fallen away. But if we stop praying to receive it, that is a sign that we are in jeopardy of not receiving the gift. This is why the Protestant beliefs were anathematized as being contrary to the faith. If we have confidence that we have already received salvation, that is one of the surer ways to lose it.

  169. Gang,

    I have been busy elsewhere but periodically check back to see how Eric’s never ending obsession on the doctrine that got Luther excommunicated ( it wasn’t indulgences ) drags on unabated.
    By the way, I recently discovered a new site called “Steadfast Lutherans” and have read some stuff there that a Catholic might be interested in.
    I also read this and thought you might like to ponder it as a break from the heated discussion you are having on election.

    Luther had this pearl of wisdom to share to share;

    “””Almost every night when I wake up the devil is there and wants to dispute with me. I have come to this conclusion: When the argument that the Christian is without the law and above the law doesn’t help, I instantly chase him away with a fart…”.

    LW 54: Table Talk No. 469

    Okay! There you go.

  170. Eric,

    This is starting to border on ridiculous but I’ll trudge on. You have accused both Jonathan and myself of taking our citations of Augustine out of context. We have both responded explaining why they are not out of context – even in light of your citations that supposedly provide “proper” context – which you have then refused to further engage, but then simply repeat your charge. That’s bad faith dialogue.
    To summarize, no one disputes Augustine distinguishes between the elect and non-elect nor does anyone dispute Augustine distinguishes between the justified non-elect and the justified elect. What is in dispute is whether he distinguishes the type or kind of justification or justifying grace the non-elect receive vs the elect. Our citations (along with your additional “context”) show that he does not – he distinguishes only in the bestowal of the grace of perseverance, not initial justification. And if that’s true, then your assertion of “initial permanence” evaporates.

    Augustine obviously holds to mortal and venial sin distinction – that is beyond dispute (must I bother with citations on this point?). Those guilty of mortal sin lose justification and may restore it via confession – they are not said by Augustine to have never been justified/regenerated in the first place. If that’s true, then your assertion of “initial permanence” evaporates.

    Now a second issue emerged when I asked for anything that could help your assertion, and you provided a citation from Spirit and Letter. I engaged it showing why it doesn’t speak to the issue. You did not respond – again, bad faith.
    But to drive the point home, your whole analysis rested on your assumption that he “eschews any such thing as progressive justification, opting for a justification that is given totally as well as immediately.” So presumably you hold that Augustine did not hold sanctification as justification correct? Otherwise I fail to see how your statement is useful. So, I provided a link to the CtC article engaging that exact work (along with his other anti-pelagian works) arguing how Augustine considers sanctification as justification – and given your concern for context, if you think the CtC article takes things “out of context” then I’m at a loss – it is a thorough survey. You reply with “sorry i’m not convinced”. Well this is very useful. How would you like if I replied to any argument you provided with “sorry not convinced” and left it at that. Again, bad faith.

    Here’s Sermon 158:
    “We have been justified; but this justice can grow, as we make progress. And how it can grow I will tell you, and after a fashion compare notes with you, so that you may all, each and every one of you, already established in the condition of justification, namely by receiving the forgiveness of sins in the washing of regeneration, by receiving the Holy Spirit, by making progress day by day….”

    Established in the condition – initial justification. This justice can grow and we make progress – Progressive/additional justification. Sounds like RC justification to me.

    Moreover, non-RC scholars agree Augustine viewed justification as sanctification and progressive. I could cite them, but I fear all I would get from you is “sorry, I’m cynical of scholars” which was your amazingly weighty reply when Heckel was used, along with Cary who you dismiss. We could further add McGrath, Fesko, Lewis and Demarest, Peter Toon, Mark Ellingsen, and even Calvin himself. This is why this discussion is now bordering on ridiculous. If all you are going to do is table-pound and put your fingers in your ears instead of engaging with replies, there’s no point in even bothering to spoon-feed you.

  171. James–

    It’s Christmas time, Mr, Grinch McScrooge! I haven’t had the time to answer your every argument!

    (And if I had a nickel for every time you Catholics have skipped over my arguments, I’d be a very wealthy man. It often appears that you all only pick what you find to be low-hanging fruit. The arguments you have difficulty refuting are ignored entirely.)

  172. James–

    I do not dismiss Cary. He’s a very good scholar. I just happen to believe he may be wrong on this point.

  173. James/Jonathan–

    Banging my head against the wall, screaming out, “Sleepers awake!”

    How many times have I got to tell you two that the main difference between your Tridentine way of thinking and my “heretical” view is the line we draw in the sand as to where the balance of assurance lies…the balance between the polar extremes of double mindedness on the one hand and presumption on the other.

    To call a “call to grace” which does not ultimately save a true “call to grace” is to completely misconstrue what grace and redemption are. Only those called “according to purpose” receive a call worth more than a plug nickel. The others are called–ultimately–to damnation. Oh, how gracious! Oh, how redemptive!

    The elect are not called to grace, and then, only later, called according to purpose. Nothing is ever contingently added to some and not to others. Election is predestined by God. The number is fixed. There is no such thing as being elected, thrown out of office, and then reelected. The elect may have huge swings of faith and unbelief, but they are never not the elect.

    We Protestants choose to speak of justification and regeneration only as they relate to the elect. Search Augustine–heck, search Aquinas–and you will not find them speaking of the justification of the elect as temporary. As Peter Kreeft graciously admits, we are NOT soteriological heretics. We are merely looking at much the same thing from a different point of view, a different frame of mind.

  174. Eric,

    “I haven’t had the time to answer your every argument!”

    That’s perfectly fine. But in that case you should simply wait to reply instead of coming back with glib “quit taking Augustine out of context, your links bore me, find me citations that spell out exactly what I want – later chump!” replies.

    “Nothing is ever contingently added to some and not to others.”

    Then Augustine and Aquinas’ chatter about the separate gift of the grace of perseverance is completely superfluous and worthless.

    “Election is predestined by God. The number is fixed. There is no such thing as being elected, thrown out of office, and then reelected. The elect may have huge swings of faith and unbelief, but they are never not the elect.”

    Agreed. That does not mean they are never not justified though.

    “Search Augustine–heck, search Aquinas–and you will not find them speaking of the justification of the elect as temporary. ”

    If this was true, their shared doctrine of mortal sin makes no sense.

  175. The fact of the matter is that you gentlemen obsess over the inevitable apostasy of the non-elect (or over their continuing comission of unrepentent mortal sin…which amounts to the same thing). It’s as if you believe the non-elect can become elect through vigorous enough personal effort (or the elect can lose their election, making the concept of election meaningless).

    As a result, your soteriology tends toward a de facto Pelagianism you have smuggled into the mix. All Christian denominations slide in that direction unless boundaries are set and never crossed.

    If one can lose his or her (ultimate) salvation, then there is no such thing as election. Temporary salvation is no salvation at all (since one has not been saved from anything). One cannot lose what one has never possessed.

    (You know what? I had eternal life! Yeah, I only had it for two years, but it was great while it lasted!!)

  176. James–

    The reason I told you I had read c2c and was unimpressed was to let you know 1.) that I had considered your link…I didn’t just blow you off…and 2.) that I didn’t find anything there which advanced your argument. Point me to something you want me to scrutinize in greater detail, and I’ll take the time to refute it.

    Augustine makes it quite clear that perseverance is not some rare and esoteric gift. There is a “separate” Gift of Perseverance given to the elect which is not granted to the non-elect. Plus, we are indeed to ask for it. But it is clearly not contingent on our earning it in any way, shape, or form.

    What does it even mean to say that the elect are not justified during certain periods of their life? Even if it were technically true, it would have no significance whatever. A few people have been revived from being technically “dead” for several minutes. But their gravestone doesn’t read: 1917-1963 and 1963-1987.

    As a result, speaking of the justification of the elect as being here and gone and back again is utter nonsense. Go ahead and show me where Aurelius or Thomas ever say such a thing. I’ve already told you how mortal sin can still make perfect sense. Thanks for ignoring me.

  177. Eric,

    You are conflating the elect with those who are in a state of grace. The two are not necessarily the same.

  178. Kenneth,

    That point has been made to Eric about 1000 times to no avail.

    Eric,

    “Augustine makes it quite clear that perseverance is not some rare and esoteric gift.”

    Augustine: “It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children–whom He has regenerated in Christ–to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also.”
    One doesn’t “wonder” at some plain-jane thing that’s just a formality.

    “What does it even mean to say that the elect are not justified during certain periods of their life? ”

    What – the Reformed think all the elect are justified at birth? What happened to regeneration? Anyways, it means nothing different than what Augustine meant:
    “The faith of these [ie the elect], which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance even to the end is allotted to them. But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously.”

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

    “I didn’t find anything there which advanced your argument. ”

    The argument was that Augustine did not deny progressive/ongoing justification – justification is sanctification and hence progressive and ongoing – search the article for occurrences of sanctification – you’ll find 3 paragraphs within Spirit and Letter focusing on it. That was also part of the point of the Heckel article who is merely echoing other scholars I enumerated above, as well as the citation of Sermon 158. So your analysis of the citation you offered that rests on that assumption which leads you to conclude he “indirectly” speaks to “initial permanence” evaporates.

    “It’s as if you believe the non-elect can become elect through vigorous enough personal effort ”

    Here we go with the RCism is Pelagian schtick. Look, if Augustine affirms the elect are the justified given the grace of perseverance, and not all justified are given that grace, is he a Pelagian now? Stop jumping to false dichotomies – if one denies the grace of perseverance is given to all justified, that in no way entails Pelagianism or SPism. If it does, then Augustine and Orange and the patristic tradition affirming loss of salvation and mortal sin are P or SP which is silly.

    ” I’ve already told you how mortal sin can still make perfect sense. Thanks for ignoring me.”

    Yes and I’ve already told you how it differs from the patristic conception because for you, mortal sin unto perdition simply means they were never saved or justified in the first place – in fact in your theology mortal sin only makes sense if it is unto perdition – otherwise it was never mortal sin in the first place but just a temporary backsliding. Augustine and others no where affirm that – that’s why he distinguishes between the elect, non-elect who never hear or accept the gospel, and non-elect who believe and are justified but then fall away. Your theology does not allow for justified non-elect, hence any mortal sin can only be committed by the non-elect – the patristic tradition denies that.

    And you really are asking to be convinced Aquinas held to RC mortal sin (not your attempted gloss on it) and loss of salvation for the justified, and likewise that he did not hold the initially justified to be coterminous with the elect? Come on – the spoon-feeding is getting old.

  179. Kenneth–

    The Reformed do indeed conflate election and being in a state of grace. For us, they ARE necessarily the same. (Or should I say “irrevocably bonded”?) Moreover, as I keep saying–flapping my gums to no effect–if they are not conflated, it renders grace more or less meaningless.

    (And God said, “I forgive you…from now until next Tuesday.”)

    By the way, did you ever reply to my comments on your blog?

  180. James–

    I’ll have to answer you piecemeal.

    1. The reason it has been to no avail is that it is illogical.

    2. I would guess that the huge majority of the baptismally “regenerated” never receive the Gift of Perseverance. So it’s not at all a plain-Jane phenomenon. Augustine is asking why baptism is so ineffective.

  181. Even if there is only one stiff-necked person,
    it will be a wonder if he remains unpunished.
    For mercy and wrath are with the Lord;
    he is mighty to forgive, and he pours out wrath.
    As great as his mercy, so great is also his reproof;
    he judges a man according to his deeds.
    .
    The sinner will not escape with his plunder,
    and the patience of the godly will not be frustrated.
    He will make room for every act of mercy;
    every one will receive in accordance with his deeds.
    .
    Sirach 16:11-14

    Eric, we have been told by Robert that the evidence that his faith in Christ is saving faith, and not dead faith, are the good works that he has done.

    What evidence do you have that your faith is actually saving faith, and not merely the dead faith that St. James speaks about?

    For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
    Romans 2:13

  182. Eric, you assert:

    Augustine is asking why baptism is so ineffective.

    St. Augustine is NOT asking why baptism is ineffective! St. Augustine is pointing out that not all baptized men will necessarily persevere to the end. As St. Paul writes, it is the doers of the law who will be justified.

    But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
    James 1:25
    .
    But he who endures to the end will be saved.
    Matthew 24:13
    .
    Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end
    Hebrews 3:12-14
    .
    As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
    Matthew 13:20

  183. Eric you write:

    The Reformed do indeed conflate election and being in a state of grace. For us, they ARE necessarily the same … if they are not conflated, it renders grace more or less meaningless.

    Eric, the real problem is that you are a Calvinist heretic that is desperately clinging to a conception of grace is that is both defective and poisonously corrupt. You live in fear of the real gospel, and your desperation to avoid the real gospel is what forces you to deny both what the scriptures are teaching and what St. Augustine is teaching – i.e. that men can fall from grace.

    You need to start dealing with reality – God’s grace does not turn a man with free will into a robot or a puppet that is without free will.

    But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously. – St. Augustine
    .

    … if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.
    2 Peter 2:21-22

    Eric, no one escapes the “defilements of the world” without grace. And no one needs grace to commit the sin of returning to the defilements of the world.

    Men that are in a state of grace can fall from grace by making evil choices. That is what that scriptures teach, and that is what Calvinism denies – which is why Calvinism is deadly heresy.

  184. James–

    3. You really have trouble with this whole finding quotations to support your thesis, don’t you? Augustine states that even in that season when they are living well and piously (and are presumably baptized, and thus Catholically regenerate), those who will eventually “lose their salvation” are NOT to be considered elect. No one is temporarily elect. No one is temporarily justified (except in the utterly meaningless sense of modern-day Rome).

    Thanks for bolstering my point!

    4. Your second quotation is not in accord with Augustine’s statement that there are many sheep without and wolves within the Church. Inside wolves don’t have access to the keys in any effective sense. Outside sheep evidently don’t absolutely need the Church in order to be forgiven (which is in compliance with modern Roman soteriology, as well).

    I’ll check the context of your quote and get back to you.

  185. Mateo–

    You need to read up on Augustine. He was terribly embarrassed by the state of the Church. He felt there were MANY wolves within (far more wolves than sheep). How in the world could he NOT have wondered about the ineffectiveness of Catholic baptism?

  186. Mateo–

    If believers in “state of grace” can make evil choices, and then steadfastly continue in their wickedness, of what possible use to them is this so-called weak and utterly ineffectual “grace”? How in the world can you honestly look me in the face and even call it “grace”? It is clearly not of God.

  187. Eric,

    “You really have trouble with this whole finding quotations to support your thesis, don’t you?”

    Let’s see – Jonathan and I have provided and analyzed about 5 or so last I checked (along with 2 thorough well-sourced articles) concerning loss of salvation along with ongoing/progressive justification that you have yet to refute. You were asked to provide just one citation to support your thesis – you offered one which I engaged and disputed as relevant which you have simply ignored. So I’ll take this criticism with a grain of salt.

    “those who will eventually “lose their salvation” are NOT to be considered elect. No one is temporarily elect.”

    NO KIDDING. Those who lost their salvation and are never restored are not the elect by definition – there is no such thing as temporary election. How many times have we said this? That does not mean those who lost their salvation were never justified in the first place which is what you are glossing Augustine to imply!

    “No one is temporarily justified (except in the utterly meaningless sense of modern-day Rome).”

    Augustine directly contradicts you. The justified/regenerate and elect are not coterminous. The elect are the justified that are given the grace of perseverance.

    “Your second quotation is not in accord with Augustine’s statement that there are many sheep without and wolves within the Church.”

    Of course it’s in accord – that statement is in accord with current RC teaching along with its teaching on EENS. That doesn’t mean the RCC rejects mortal sin or that the justified can lose salvation as you posit Augustine does.

    “If believers in “state of grace” can make evil choices, and then steadfastly continue in their wickedness, of what possible use to them is this so-called weak and utterly ineffectual “grace”?”

    I see – so I guess when you sin in your sanctification, God did not give you sufficient grace to resist sin. Wonderful. Of what possible use to the regenerate is this so-called weak and utterly ineffectual “grace” when they sin?

  188. Mateo–

    The only evidence I care about (that I am part of the elect) is that which has been done to and for me, not anything I have done. I felt hunted down by the Holy Spirit. Most Reformed folk I know feel the same way. I know that I have been given an other-worldly love for God and for his Word and for my neighbor (including you, in spite of your name calling). But I have absolutely NOTHING that I have not been given.

    Evidentiary soteriological systems always tend toward Pelagianistic legalism. That’s part of the reason why Catholicism has all the ritualistic hoops to jump through. Wesley’s Christian perfectionism works much the same way. Dispensationalists sneak legalism in through “decisionism” (the result of rejecting Limited Atonement.). Even the Free Grace Movement (Dispensationalists who condemn John MacArthur’s evidentiary “Lordship Salvation”) still hold to a moralistic lifestyle. (They don’t dance or smoke or cuss or drink or chew…or go with girls who do.) Even Old-School Presbyterianism, looking to the evidences that their children have accepted the faith through their pure actions and beliefs, sometimes fall into this trap. Their children are thoroughly catechized, but does it ever reach their hearts? They jump through hoops marvelously well, but do they know the Redeemer?

  189. James–

    Point me back to whatever I haven’t refuted, and I will refute it. As far as I have ever seen, there is almost nothing there for me TO refute

    It simply doesn’t matter how many times Augustine uses the term “justification.” You say you understand the word-concept fallacy and then keep falling into it. I don’t CARE what Augustine meant by “justification.” He clearly DIDN’T mean Protestant justification. So quit already with the justification and regeneration quotes. THEY ARE IRRELEVANT!!!

    Think through this instead: what would Augustine have said about Protestant justification if it had been explained to him? Remember, it is virtually synonymous with election, for they are inextricably tied to one another.

    I have no problem with the non-elect being Catholically “justified” since Catholic justification (and regeneration, for that matter) is a meaningless concept. When the elect mortally sin, do you really maintain that they have “lost their salvation”? What nonsensical gibberish!!

    You and Jonathan haven’t shown diddly-squat. In fact, you haven’t engaged my arguments at all. You’re so entrenched in your “Catholic speak” that you seem incapable of thinking outside its box. Can you cease with the rehashed “talking points” that have been drummed into your dear little ear…and answer my arguments?

    My wife and I have child proofed our house so that they will be much less likely to hurt themselves. Given their lack of judgment, they could do irreparable harm to themselves. But that doesn’t mean that later on we won’t let them fall down while learning to ride a bike or skin their knees roller blading. Justification grants us life. Sanctification merely allows us to grow up. There is a world of difference.

  190. Eric,

    Sadly, no. Finals, then christmas, family, kids, work, etc have had me slammed. Im in the restaurant industry so this is our busiest time of year. I plan on responding shortly.

  191. Eric, you write:

    The only evidence I care about (that I am part of the elect) is that which has been done to and for me, not anything I have done.

    You have claimed in this thread that you live a life where you constantly commit mortal sin. As a Calvinist, you claim that there is nothing that you do with your life that is not corrupted and defiled by your wanton depravity. Please tell us, what, exactly, has been done to you?

    Nothing has changed if you still do nothing but sin continuously.

    I felt hunted down by the Holy Spirit.

    You have had the experience of the Holy Spirit convicting you of your sinfulness – you have experienced a call to repentance. That is good, but to repent means to turn away from your sinning. You insist that you do nothing but continuously commit heinous sin every waking moment of your life. Sinning that is so vile in the eyes of God, that if God were to mete out to you the punishment that your sinning is justly due, you would be cast into the lake of everlasting fire along with the demons.

    You have experienced the call to repentance. Are you ever going to repent of your sinning?

    I know that I have been given an other-worldly love for God and for his Word …

    To commit a sin against God that should be punished with everlasting damnation in hell, is to commit an act of hatred against God. How is that you are, at the same time, both loving God with your mind, and hating God with your actions? Do you not see that it is delusional for you to think that you can love God with your mind, while the life you live is that of a man with hatred towards God?

    Calvinists believe that a Christian can be deluded – that he can be “damned, but don’t yet know it.” How do you know with certainty that you are not one of the deluded men that are “damned but don’t yet know it ”?

  192. Eric, you write:

    If believers in “state of grace” can make evil choices, and then steadfastly continue in their wickedness, of what possible use to them is this so-called weak and utterly ineffectual “grace”?

    Again, there is no defect in God’s saving grace – it is sufficient. If a man is not saved, it is not because God did not give him saving grace; it is because the man rejected the saving grace that God gave to him.

    Eric, if you are saved, you will be saved as a man that exercises his free will to repent of your sinfulness. Do you need the grace of God to live a holy life on this earth? Absolutely. Is God going to force irresistible grace upon you to make you shape up? No.

    If God were to destroy your free will, you would no longer be a man. God cannot save you by destroying your free will, because to destroy your free will would be to annihilate you, and once you were annihilated, there would be nothing to save. Calvinism is like Pinocchio in reverse – the flesh and blood little boy with a conscience is turned back into the wooden headed puppet that can only dance when the strings are pulled.

    Eric, forget the Calvinist inanity that God is going to force irresistible grace on you to turn you into a little puppet that has no free will. That is never going to happen.

    You need to take responsibility for the life you live, because you are going to be judged by what you do with your life. Eric, be a doer of the word, and not a hearer only, lest you deceive yourself.

    How in the world can you honestly look me in the face and even call it “grace”? It is clearly not of God.

    What is clear is this – you have no understanding of the real gospel and an utterly corrupt understanding of grace.

  193. Eric said:

    If believers in “state of grace” can make evil choices, and then steadfastly continue in their wickedness, of what possible use to them is this so-called weak and utterly ineffectual “grace”?

    Are you saying that a Protestant who claims to be saved by faith alone can’t make evil choices?

  194. De Maria–

    Yes, a Protestant who appropriately/genuinely claims to be saved by grace will not make evil choices and then wantonly continue in them.

  195. Mateo–

    You have a tough time, don’t you? When you encounter something from outside of your narrow, little world, you reject it outright without even examining it.

    1. Have you repented of YOUR sins? You haven’t overcome your concupiscence and keep on venially sinning. My, oh, my!!

    2. No Calvinist knows for certain that he is elect. We are bound by the same sin of presumption you are.

    3. If a man is not saved, it very much IS because God did not give him the Gift of Perseverance. In my world (of sane and rational human beings), that translates into his not receiving “saving grace.” After all, the grace that would have saved him was not granted.

    4. Calvinists have a very strong sense of free will. We are not robots or puppets. I usually don’t talk about “irresistible” grace because people like you get the wrong idea. I call it “gorgeous” grace, for it is in no way coercive. It is irresistible like a gorgeous woman irresistible…except much more so. How could it be differently concerning the beauty of the Lord?

    Your God must be a somewhat homely woman at closing time at some dive bar where you’re half drunk and need to decide whether or not to try out your best “pick up” line. You have total freedom of choice. Yay!!

  196. Mateo–

    By the way, if I am a puppet whose strings are pulled by God himself, then it only stands to reason that I must be a most excellent “doer of the word.”

    Think things through, why don’t you.

  197. Eric,

    “I don’t CARE what Augustine meant by “justification.” He clearly DIDN’T mean Protestant justification. So quit already with the justification and regeneration quotes. THEY ARE IRRELEVANT!!!”

    Well this might explain why you have a problem with scholars. Let’s see – you assert Augustine held to “initial permanence” and to bolster this, further asserted that he “eschews any such thing as progressive justification, opting for a justification that is given totally as well as immediately.”

    But now we don’t care what he meant by “justification”. Fantastic. There’s no word-concept fallacy going on because what does he say justification is – he says it is the infusion of faith, hope, and love bestowed in baptism and that we can grow it – i.e. the RC position. The quotes are quite relevant if you’re going to keep parading Augustine like he didn’t really mean what he says he means. The initially justified and regenerate are not all given the grace of perseverance, and the elect can lose justification via mortal sin (but will be restored, and hence are still the elect). Your theology directly couples the grace of perseverance into regeneration and justification and does not allow for justified non-elect (such were never regenerated or justified in the first place). That’s not Augustine.

    “Think through this instead: what would Augustine have said about Protestant justification if it had been explained to him? Remember, it is virtually synonymous with election, for they are inextricably tied to one another.”

    There’s the problem – it is not “virtually synonymous” with election for Augustine. He would’ve said what Trent said. He would’ve said what’s this ongoing extra nos alien righteousness forensic imputation business? What’s this those who fall away were never justified in the first place business and why do you conflate the elect with those in a state of grace? He would’ve said what’s this zero-sum game you guys play with human cooperation/merit and God’s grace? He would’ve said why do you keep calling me a Pelagian – I fought those guys you know?

    “I have no problem with the non-elect being Catholically “justified” since Catholic justification (and regeneration, for that matter) is a meaningless concept.”

    He also would’ve said why do you say all my anti-Pelagian work is meaningless? Why does your sect claim me for itself?

    “When the elect mortally sin, do you really maintain that they have “lost their salvation”? What nonsensical gibberish!”

    Augustine was full of gibberish I guess – again:
    “The faith of these [ie the elect], which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance even to the end is allotted to them. But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously.”

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

    “In fact, you haven’t engaged my arguments at all….answer my arguments?”

    We’ve engaged with every citation and reply you’ve offered. You have yet to fully engage with our replies. If there’s an argument you want answered – feel free to restate it.

    “Justification grants us life. Sanctification merely allows us to grow up. There is a world of difference.”

    Your criticism was that if one in a state of grace could resist grace and do evil, that must mean it is ineffectual or weak. You do evil and sin in sanctification (every second of your life as you like to remind us). So to be consistent, either sufficient grace was not given by God for you to resist that sin and evil, or the grace was sufficient and hence not ineffectual or weak.

  198. ERIC December 31, 2014 at 5:51 am
    De Maria–
    Yes, a Protestant who appropriately/genuinely claims to be saved by grace will not make evil choices and then wantonly continue in them.

    Are you one of those Protestants who appropriately/genuinely claims to be saved by grace?

  199. De Maria–

    Yes.

  200. Eric, you write:

    … if I am a puppet whose strings are pulled by God …

    You miss the point. You are not a puppet, you are a man that can exercise his free will for choices that are evil. You don’t need grace to commit sin (you do, however, need to cooperate with grace to not commit sin.)

    … then it only stands to reason that I must be a most excellent “doer of the word.”
    .
    Think things through, why don’t you.

    Why don’t you think things through?

    If we are not men, but merely puppets whose strings are pulled by God, then it does NOT follow that you would necessarily be “a most excellent ‘doer of the word'”. There would be other puppets whose strings are pulled by God in such a way that are walking right into the everlasting flames of hell. If you are merely a puppet without free will, then you could be one of those puppets – a puppet that is “damned, but don’t know it yet.”

  201. James–

    OK. This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. But I have to slap you to wake you up out of your mindless stupor.

    SSsS-LLlL-AAaA-PPpP!!!!!!

    You cannot possibly know what Augustine would have said about Protestant justification because he never said ANYTHING. He didn’t address it.

    Prove that he meant something different by election than we mean by justification/regeneration. Telling me what he meant by justification and regeneration is as irrelevant as it is possible to get. (Well, not really once we got deep enough into the conversation. But we’re never going to get there. You’re far too blind. You keep on messing with the word-concept fallacy and can’t get yourself to see it.)

    Do any of the elect fail to attain final justification? Do any of the elect fail to become regenerated? Does the justification of the elect differ in any way from that of the non-elect? Does their regeneration differ?

  202. James–

    Called to Communion basically calls the concept of conversion a Protestant innovation.

    Why exactly does Augustine in his “Confessions” spend all of Book VIII and the first dozen or so paragraphs of Book IX talking about his conversion…and summarizes his baptism in one paragraph given over mostly to Alypius and Adeodatus? Why is his repentance/conversion the focus, the high point, the very theme of the entire narrative?

    Yes, he speaks of the laver of regeneration and of being “born again” in the waters of baptism. But his life changes dramatically from the moment of his conversion. And though his baptism is celebratory, it changes not a thing in him…other than assuring him of God’s forgiveness.

  203. Eric, you write:

    No Calvinist knows for certain that he is elect.

    Eric, that means that you don’t know with certainty that you are not on of the men that are “damned, but don’t know it yet”. The only way that you will know with certainty that you are not damned is if you persevere in good works to the end!

    Please explain why you are so hostile to what the Catholic Church teaches.

    If a man is not saved, it very much IS because God did not give him the Gift of Perseverance.

    Right. If a man does not accept and cooperate with the gift of grace of final perseverance, he will not be saved. That is exactly what the Catholic Church teaches, and that is what St. Augustine teaches.

    Calvinists have a very strong sense of free will. We are not robots or puppets. I usually don’t talk about “irresistible” grace because people like you get the wrong idea.

    “People like me” – (mateo rolls his eyes). Eric, if “irresistible” does not really mean “irresistible”, then publicly make the affirmation that you believe that grace can be resisted!

    As it stands, you are flip-flopping all over the place.

    The Catholic Church teaches that unless a Christian accepts the grace of final perseverance, he will not be saved. There is a choice involving free will that impacts whether or not one is saved – a man’s rejection or acceptance of the grace of final perseverance. But that is NOT your understanding.

    You say that the Christian that is “damned but don’t know it yet” is not saved because he is NOT given the Gift of Perseverance. You say that God chooses who he will save, and there is no free will involved in whether or not one is saved or damned. IOW, only the puppets that have the Gift of Perseverance forced upon them by God will be saved. But wait! Calvinists don’t really believe men are puppets without free will; Calvinists don’t really believe that “irresistible” means “irresistible; and Calvinist believe that no man is forced against his will to be saved.

    Eric, you are irrational in your argumentation, because you constantly contradict yourself. You are a flip-flopper that cannot consistently take a position and hold to it, and everyone can see that.

  204. De Maria: Are you one of those Protestants who appropriately/genuinely claims to be saved by grace?
    .
    Eric: Yes

    Eric, when you commit a sin, who is ultimately responsible for the choice to commit the sin – you or God?

  205. Mateo–

    If I am an elect puppet, then I am indeed necessarily an excellent “doer of the word.”

    I can be assured that I am elect, but I cannot presume.

    You have wilfully mischaracterized me as a puppet, which I have continuously denied since such a belief is not now, nor ever has been, a part of Calvinism. And you cannot give the excuse that it is a logical entailment because then you would disparage Thomists everywhere. Give it a rest.

  206. Robert & Eric,

    I have only just had time to respond to your last round of comments. I should be available from here on.

    My quoting Mcgrath, Geisler, Schaff, etc. was to discredit Roberts link that argues that sola fide thundered through the ages. The point is that anyone can copy and paste some link. I am interested in the work that YOU can provide. It’s a simple challenge. Provide any evidence for a distinctively reformed doctrine being passed down from one generation to the next in all of Church history. Supply evidence for this “stream” of reformed theology that Luther and Calvin supposedly followed….. or else, abandon the battle field of history all together.

  207. Mateo–

    I am responsible for the evil. God is responsible for the ultimate good which will result.

  208. Eric you write:

    … a Protestant who appropriately/genuinely claims to be saved by grace will not make evil choices and then wantonly continue in them.

    You are flip-flopping again.

    Earlier in this thread, you said that you could concede, for the sake of argument, the Catholic distinction between mortal sin and venial sin. After making that concession, you insisted that you constantly commit mortal sin all the time. By definition, if you are constantly committing mortal sin, they you are wantonly persisting in evil – which means, according to you, that you are not “genuinely” saved.

  209. Eric, you write:

    I am responsible for the evil.

    My question was about who was responsible for making the choice to commit sin. You are saying that you, Eric, choose to commit the sin, and that you are responsible for making that choice. But then you also say that it is impossible for a “genuine” Christian to commit the sin of apostasy. You are contradicting yourself. Why can a “genuine” Christian exercise his free will to commit some sins but not other sins?

    Even more to the point, it is impossible to commit the sin of apostasy unless one is already a believer. Apostasy is one sin that non-believers cannot commit.

  210. @Eric:

    You and Jonathan haven’t shown diddly-squat. In fact, you haven’t engaged my arguments at all. You’re so entrenched in your “Catholic speak” that you seem incapable of thinking outside its box. Can you cease with the rehashed “talking points” that have been drummed into your dear little ear…and answer my arguments?

    OK, I finally get it. I apologize, because my emotional intelligence is poor with Calvinists. Seriously, to my knowledge, I can’t recall even having been friends with a Calvinist, and in fact, I can’t even recall having a conversation with a Calvinist except those I’ve met online. My closest friends are Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist, and I’m friendly with lots of Protestants, just not Calvinists. Please bear with me, because this is an alien culture, and I’m culturally tone deaf.

    I get it now. This is what comes up in a lot of philosophical debates: a conflict of intuitions. We can present arguments from now until doomsday, and it will still be very difficult for someone to accept that what they consider obviously true is false or vice versa. In those cases, argument is likely to be pointless. We need to step back and to discuss the intuitions first. That is why you feel that we aren’t answering your arguments and why we feel that you aren’t hearing ours.

    What I hear you saying is that there would be no real point in God loving someone if He isn’t going to save them. In other words, loving someone that you aren’t saving is not really loving them. By contrast, our intuition is that God loves everybody, so when we have the experience of being hunted by the Holy Spirit, we are equally sure that is true of everyone, because there is no reason that it wouldn’t be. And there are other Protestants with this sensibility as well; the Wesleyan doctrine of prevenient grace is similar. This is mistaken for universalism, but we don’t believe that this real intervention is efficacious for everyone. It does mean that we are always waiting on God’s grace for everyone, no matter what state they may be in currently.

    So the intuition at the heart of the Catholic view (and really the Wesleyan view) is that God’s saving love isn’t that much different than God’s love for all of creation. Just as God’s singular love for Moses didn’t indicate that He had a purpose to deliver him to the promised land, so God’s unique love for people in bringing them into the Church doesn’t mean that he has any purpose to bring them to Heaven. In other words, there are plenty of people who are saved from sin for a time to accomplish some purpose of God, but are then abandoned to sin again.

    It’s therefore very important for us to acknowledge that God authentically gives grace to everyone, elect and non-elect alike, and not to say that only grace that ends up saving is grace. Those graces include justification, being made righteous, which can be gained and lost. And yes, we consider eternal life, which we see as a current state rather than being saved in the end, as being gained for some time and lost. In other words, unlike natural life, which begins once and ends once, eternal life can begin and end many times during life.

    The point is really that we consider eternal life as God’s business, and all we can really do is to live with what God gives us. As to the analogy of appealing beauty, the point is really that grace, like beauty, can still be disdained. The same beautiful woman that someone loved years ago can become repellent simply because the man now dislikes her. That happens, and we don’t understand it or control it. We just live with it as best we can.

    Now, maybe you can explain a little bit as to why you think that grace needs to be permanent and saving to be meaningful. That’s the intuition I don’t understand, because as I said, I see us all as God’s children. I have difficulty understanding why you wouldn’t be a universalist based on that sensibility.

  211. ERIC December 31, 2014 at 5:51 am

    De Maria: Are you one of those Protestants who appropriately/genuinely claims to be saved by grace?

    Eric: Yes

    How do you reconcile your attitude with the Apostle’s?

    1 Corinthians 4:3 It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; 4 I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord.

  212. Mateo–

    Out wrote:

    “Eric, you are irrational in your argumentation because you constantly contradict yourself. You are a flip-flopper who cannot consistently take a position and hold to it, and everyone can see that.”

    No, Mateo, I am simply an individual with the ability to think for himself rather than let others do that for him as you do.

    Compatibilism incorporates a paradox, just like God being one and God being three. Nobody calls you a “flip-flopper” for insisting on the unity of the God and then turning right around and insisting he is divided into three persons. Nobody calls you a “flip-flopper” for insisting that salvation is all of grace and then turning right around and insisting that we have to cooperate for that grace to be effectual.

    So, yes, I incorporate a paradox into my argument, and everyone can see that.

    So?

  213. De Maria–

    I haven’t them foggiest clue what you’re getting at. My position is fully compatible with 1 Corinthians 4:3-4.

    Why in tarnation did you fancy that it might not be?

  214. Mateo–

    I am also responsible for choosing to bake acorn squash yesterday. What does that have to do with justification?

    By the way, elect Catholics with the Gift of Perseverance cannot apostatize. Have they lost their free will?

  215. Mateo–

    Here’s a text from another flip-flopper (according to your sage criteria):

    “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

  216. Jonathan–

    Thank you for the very warm and gracious reply. I was beginning to think no one on your side would see the real issues and engage them.

    I cannot reply eight now. Gotta run to the store for more milk for the kiddies. Again, thanks for the wonderfully constructive response!

    If I don’t get back to you today, have a blessed time bringing in 2015.

  217. @Eric:

    By the way, elect Catholics with the Gift of Perseverance cannot apostatize. Have they lost their free will?

    This seems to be another area where there is an intuitive disconnect. The gift of perseverance, in Catholic terms, means that it has been given to one to die in God’s grace. That can’t actually happen until somebody has died, so it’s not possible for a Catholic to have received the gift of perseverance while he is still alive.

    Here’s a text from another flip-flopper (according to your sage criteria)

    Leaving aside the prevailing Catholic view that this describes a person before conversion, which Mateo may well hold, this is another area where there is a disconnect in the reasons for sin. If grace actually determines the response, then there is no reason why someone who is determined by grace should ever sin. Mateo’s point is that if your nature has been determined against sin, then there ought to be no reason to grow up or to become sanctified. You should be the same as the saints in Heaven, incapable of sinning. There would be no purpose in continuing to allow you to sin.

  218. @Eric:
    Just saw that last comment, and now that I’ve realized how we’re talking past each other, I hope we can do better. Have a happy new year as well!

  219. Eric,

    “Prove that he meant something different by election than we mean by justification/regeneration.”

    This question is not germane to the discussion you kicked off by asserting Augustine held to “initial permanence” – to see why, let me ask you – prove that Augustine meant something different by election than what RCs mean by election.

    “Telling me what he meant by justification and regeneration is as irrelevant as it is possible to get. ”

    I fail to see how if you still hold to your claim that he holds to “initial permanence” in justification and that he also “eschews” progressive/ongoing justification – seems kind of important to define what he means then if we want to avoid “reading minds” as you cautioned earlier. If you no longer hold to those 2 claims, then yes it’s irrelevant.

    “Do any of the elect fail to attain final justification? Do any of the elect fail to become regenerated? Does the justification of the elect differ in any way from that of the non-elect? Does their regeneration differ?”

    No. No. No. No. Do you think Augustine would answer affirmative to any of those? If yes, show it, don’t just assert it.

  220. James–

    It’s a chore not to mix terminology in these discussions. Initial justification is a Catholic classification. My point had to do with Augustine’s inferred position on the permanence of PROTESTANT justification. Protestant justification begins when faith begins. So it has an initial stage (regeneration/conversion), a progressive stage (sanctification), and a final stage (perseverance). But there’s no going in and out. Those who have actually begun…WILL finish.

    If Augustine’s answers are no, no, no, and no, then he clearly believes the justification/regeneration of the elect is a horse of a different color, meaning he may have no qualms about accepting Protestant terminology for that horse.

  221. Jonathan–

    I have said on more than one occasion that the daylight between your position and mine is slight. It is, nonetheless, significant. We are looking at much the same thing from very different vantage points. I simply believe that the Protestant viewpoint has major advantages for the lives of the saints.

    The problems between us has nothing to do with the love of God. We hold to common grace…God’s love for the non-elect. He often blesses their lives in many ways. The rain falls on the just AND the unjust to water their fields. What God doesn’t do is to grant “saving grace” to those who are not eventually saved. Furthermore, he doesn’t grant some sort of eternal life that isn’t eternal. The “Immortals” in the Highlander series of films and TV shows…aren’t actually immortal. In the end, only one can survive.

    We hold that there are those who appear saved in every way. Certainly, they are blessed through their involvement with true believers, through their involvement with the church. They have the semblance of a spiritual life. Their lives might even be said to be significantly impacted by the Spirit. But we don’t believe the “life” these people have (or show) is worth being compared to the life experienced by genuine believers. As I have said before, to some extent it is a terminological choice. (If a baseball pitcher has a failed Tommy John surgery performed on his arm and shoulder and cannot throw the ball over 50 mph, is he still a pitcher? If he never comes back from the surgery, is he a pitcher? He might even be retained on the roster for a while, but is he a pitcher? He can’t pitch! In certain ways he is a pitcher; in certain ways he is not. Newspapers may doubtless say, “Yankees’ legendary pitcher Jonathan Prejean retired from baseball today.” Are they correct? Yes and no. It all depends on how you want to define terms.)

    We believe in extending the call to repentance and faith to one and all. We have no clue who is elect and who is not. Also, anyone who wants to come CAN come. No one who desires salvation is locked out because God somehow moves AGAINST someone’s natural inclination to believe in order to maintain his original choice “before the foundations of the world.”

  222. Jonathan–

    If one cannot receive the gift of perseverance before one’s death, then why call it “perseverance”? Why not call it being called home to heaven at an opportune moment, at a time of high spirituality in one’s life? Remember “Hamlet”? He chooses not to kill his step-father while the man is temporarily feeling guilty and gushing out a (temporary) regret for his actions. He fears if he dispatches his father’s murderer while the thug is crying out to God in prayer…he’ll send him to the “good place” instead the fires of hell he deserves. Is this really the way you look at perseverance? What does the word mean to you?

  223. Jonathan–

    Grace does not render us sinless. Justification concerns crossing over from death to life. When my kids were born (or more correctly, when they were conceived), they crossed over from non-life to life. Mere physical life did not make them mature. We have been made new creatures, not glorified creatures. Not yet. Does that mean that in the meantime God has not dealt graciously with us?

  224. Jonathan–

    Augustine says the following about the timing of one’s gifting in perseverance:

    “Now, moreover, when the saints say, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” what do they pray for but that they may persevere in holiness? For, assuredly, when that gift of God is granted to them,— which is sufficiently plainly shown to be God’s gift, since it is asked of Him,—that gift of God, then, being granted to them that they may not be led into temptation, none of the saints fails to keep his perseverance in holiness even to the end. For there is not any one who ceases to persevere in the Christian purpose unless he is first of all led into temptation. If, therefore, it be granted to him according to his prayer that he may not be led, certainly by the gift of God he persists in that sanctification which by the gift of God he has received.”

    It is quite clear at Augustine believes that perseverance is an ongoing gift, often granted significantly before the end of life. True, he doesn’t believe anyone can be certain he has been given the gift before successfully completing his sojourn here on earth.

    No, duh.

  225. ERIC December 31, 2014 at 1:53 pm
    De Maria–
    I haven’t them foggiest clue what you’re getting at. My position is fully compatible with 1 Corinthians 4:3-4.
    Why in tarnation did you fancy that it might not be?

    Because you have judged yourself faithful. But the verse says that we should not judge ourselves but await the judgement of Jesus Christ.

    So, how do you reconcile that verse with your attitude. It sounds like you’re exalting yourself. And Scripture also says:

    Matthew 23:12
    And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

  226. Eric,

    “My point had to do with Augustine’s inferred position on the permanence of PROTESTANT justification.”

    The elect are permanently elect for Augustine. They are not permanently in a state of grace for Augustine. Do you want to say Augustine believes those who are given the grace of perseverance are permanently elect? Of course – who ever denied that – but it’s a pretty trivial observation. If you are saying something more than that, then it won’t work as has been painfully repeatedly pointed out in this thread which is becoming tiresome.

    “Protestant justification begins when faith begins. So it has an initial stage (regeneration/conversion), a progressive stage (sanctification), and a final stage (perseverance). But there’s no going in and out. Those who have actually begun…WILL finish.”

    Does Augustine believe the elect can go “in and out” or not? If you want to redefine “those who have actually begun” to “those who are given the grace of perseverance”, fine, but that’s not a very interesting observation.

    “If Augustine’s answers are no, no, no, and no, then he clearly believes the justification/regeneration of the elect is a horse of a different color”

    He clearly believes the elect are not always in a state of grace at every point in their lives.

    Look, if you just want to say Augustine believes the elect are the elect, fine. RCs believe that. Calvinists believe that. That’s not very interesting. Tbh at this point I have no clue what your initial point even really was – it’s just become a hodge podge of shifting redefinitions to somehow try to pull Augustine over into your camp. Perseverance is not the only issue he differs from you on in salvation as I already pointed out above.

  227. De Maria–

    Do you believe yourself to be saved? Do you think you might have the gift of perseverance?

    Fine. Such an attitude is neither hubris nor presumption. My attitude is neither hubris not presumption. I await the judgment of God. I will not take on that role myself. Instead, I will strive to make my calling and election sure.

  228. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    The problems between us has nothing to do with the love of God. We hold to common grace…God’s love for the non-elect. He often blesses their lives in many ways. The rain falls on the just AND the unjust to water their fields. What God doesn’t do is to grant “saving grace” to those who are not eventually saved.

    Catholics don’t have any category for “Saving” Grace (since what other kind of Grace could there ever possibly be?).

    We have a Grace of Final Perseverance. True dat. But this grace is just as salvific as all other graces. The beneficent graces lavished on pagans as their fields are rained-upon are equally as salvific. “Salvific” does not equate to “Regenerative”.

    The real question for you to ask is whether or not the Grace of Final Perseverance can be rejected … whether or not it is offered to all men. Boooyakasha!

    ————————————————————————

    However … moving on to you.

    The more that you write, the more that it’s becoming obvious that “Saving Grace” is just your euphemistic application of “No True Scotsman” to Grace. In the past, you have argued for “True Faith”, “True Christian”, “True Parrot’s Body”, etc.

    The common denominator in all of these was that they all must be Living in order to be True. “True” things are Living things, and Living things are Saving (or Saved) things.

    As True Faith is faith that Saves, so therefore, Saving Grace is grace that is True.

    It might be hard for you to admit that your term “Common Grace” (the Grace given to the Non-Elect) is False Grace (or Deceiving Grace), but it’s simply this point which is becoming more and more obvious the more one reads between your lines.

    ————————————————————————————————

    Oh, and Happy New Year & Feast Day, y’all!

  229. James–

    The problem all along has been your refusal to acknowledge that Augustine might have a very different opinion concerning Protestant justification than he does concerning Catholic justification. And yes, it has grown tiresome indeed.

    I am not simply saying that the elect stay elect. I am also saying that Augustine sees the justification of the elect as qualitatively different from the justification of the non-elect.

    Who gives a flip if the elect are not always in a state of grace? We would say that the elect are not justified until they are regenerated and come to faith. We warn those not walking the Christian walk: the elect come back to repentance…the non-elect do not. It’s sort of like you are out of a state of grace. Not enough of a difference to beat each other up over.

    But we will be glorified for an eternity. Our present lives are but a drop in the ocean…and not worth comparing. Talk of being in or out of an unsubstantial “state of grace” is not very interesting. Talk of anything temporary is not very interesting. They are but vapors that disappear with the morning dew once the sun comes up.

    In the long run, the much more significant questions are these: Are we genuinely saved? Do we have the gift of perseverance to go along with that?

  230. When I read the comments about Augustine, with the attempts to make him a Presbyterian or Reformed churchman, I am immediately aware that this is the bishop who realized that fighting some of the heresies of his day required him to push them up the ladder to the pope. Historically that is recognized. One might aver that some of this heavy lifting required someone above his pay grade. That does not seem to have bother him, but then he was also humble.

    I am also aware that Augustine noted that he would not believe in the gospels if not for the authority of the Catholic Church.

    Augustine was, and is, Catholic in the Roman sense of that word. He is so Catholic that he is a doctor of the Church. The attempts to baptize him as a Calvinist does not work unless one is untutored in who Augustine was and what Augustine did.

  231. Donald–

    Name a single heresy that Augustine “pushed up the ladder” to the pope rather than dealing with it head on in his writings.

    I also would not believe in the gospels were it not for the authority of the catholic church. It’s the Roman church to which I grant no authority. Kind of like Augustine would be if he lived in this day and age.

    There are any number of “doctors” of the church who aren’t particularly orthodox in their teachings by modern Catholic standards.

    Augustinian thought dominated the first eleven centuries of the church, but his teachings were seriously modified a bunch of times, starting with Orange.

  232. Wosbald–

    A lengthy comment. I’m impressed!

    We are not speaking of a failing restaurant being “saved” from having its doors shuttered by a bank loan. Something can be generally redemptive without bringing about theological redemption. But we’re really talking about two extremely divergent meanings of the same word.

    Soteriology has to do with the kind of “salvific” that comes with final perseverance/justification. And it most certainly includes regeneration. No true Scotsman is only a fallacy when we are speaking of Scotsmen on the whole. Even you would admit that an Englishman masquerading as a Scot is “no true Scotsman.” It could likewise be said that an outlier, a misfit, could be labeled “no true Scotsman” for not being stingy or not believing the Stone of Scone should be returned. Without question, individual citizens of Scotland may be completely unrepresentative of Scots in general.

    I have screamed myself hoarse, with no attempt at reply from your side, that dead physical entities which were once alive have virtually nothing in common with dead abstract concepts or ethical traits. Dead people are buried under six feet of real estate and are seen no more. They are “absent” from our midst. We can no longer fellowship with them. Dead virtues, on the other hand, cannot be buried or hidden away under lock and key. They can only be absent. That is why I say that dead faith is no faith at all. It is absent. It is not there. There is no faith there…of any sort.

  233. Wosbald–

    There are weaker faiths and stronger faiths, but each–if genuine, if true–does indeed have the power to save. Dead faith–that lacking all commitment, all application, being mere assent–is not faith at all. We would tend to call it mere belief. (Greek has one word for both concepts.)

    Grace is anything given by the Father of Lights free of charge. Our word “gratis” means exactly that: free of charge. Rain is given to both the just and the unjust free of charge; therefore, common grace is properly called “grace.”

    Saving grace is grace that saves. Imagine that!

    Saving grace is free of charge. We are not required to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in order to gain it or maintain it. It would then not be free of charge…and thus, not grace.

  234. Wosbald–

    Just a basic tutorial on “no true Scotsman.”

    It rears its head when there is a looseness of definition.

    1. If I am speaking about the nationality (every citizen of Scotland), then Black or Asian Scots are NOT outliers. They are true (national) Scots.

    2. If I am speaking of the ethnicity, then Black and Asian Scots become outliers, They are NOT true (ethnic) Scots.

    3. If I am speaking of the culture, then those who disdain the wearing of kilts and have never heard bagpipe music are NOT true (cultural) Scots.

    Therefore, if I am speaking of Scots without distinction, and somebody gives me an example of a
    Scot who doesn’t fit my thesis, I cannot that retort that the person in question is “no true Scot.”

    If, on the other hand, I am speaking of Scots as an ethnicity, and somebody comes back with an example of an Asian Scot that doesn’t fit my thesis, then I am within my rights to retort that this person is no true (ethnic) Scot.

  235. Eric,

    “I am also saying that Augustine sees the justification of the elect as qualitatively different from the justification of the non-elect.”

    The qualitative difference between the two for Augustine lies in the grace of perseverance, not justification, as has been repeatedly explained. We all know Calvinism bundles in perseverance with justification. So when you are basically saying that Augustine holds that all who are given perseverance are the elect, as I said – that is a trivial observation and not very interesting. I don’t know why you took a flight around the world to get next door.

    “Who gives a flip if the elect are not always in a state of grace?”

    Well, you do – that’s apparently why you call RCs gospel-denying grace-weakeners/nullifiers since you always say it boils down to the issue of permanence/assurance for you.

    “Not enough of a difference to beat each other up over.”

    Then stop calling RCs gospel-deniers and Pelagians. That was Jonathan’s point concerning patristic scholarship in relation to soteriology which this discussion on Augustine is highlighting as well.

  236. James–

    1. Thanks for asserting that Augustine sees no difference between the justification of he elect and the justification of the non-elect. THAT really advances your argument!

    2. We Protestants don’t have at much problem with the concept of a “state of grace.” It’s just not particularly important. The ups and downs of sanctification have no bearing on final justification. You all focus on minor details and ignore far more important stuff. You confuse your adherents something silly. And THAT messes with the gospel big time.

    We differ on assurance and perseverance and the role of “ex opere operatum” sacraments in justification. I don’t think Thomism is Pelagianistic; just modern-day Thomists. And don’t even get me started on Molinism!

  237. @Eric:
    If I keep trying to be complete, I’ll never get anything written, so I thought I’d throw a couple of discussion points out. Maybe I will get a chance to elaborate further before too long.

    1. On the perseverance thing, you seem to be viewing it as the terminus of a transformative process. In other words, the effort at which you are persevering is this process of transformation, which ends in Heaven. In the meantime (or maybe even in the end), the imputation of Christ effectively “makes up the gaps” in that process. To be clear, that is NOT how Catholics think about perseverance (nor do I think it is how Augustine thought about it).

    It will help to think in terms of the two different concepts both referred to as justification: as translation into good relationship with God and as increase in righteousness. We see perseverance as relating to the first one. Think of it like those signs at factories that say “392 days without a stoppage due to accident.” While it’s true that the purpose of not having accidents is to keep the factory functioning, the fact of not having accidents doesn’t itself produce anything; it is simply a condition on which production can take place.

    Thus, perseverance isn’t working toward sanctification or increase of righteousness. It’s simply maintaining the basic, functional degree of justification required in order to be able to do those things. Given that view, there isn’t (and can’t) really be any difference in justification between the elect and the non-elect, because they’re all maintaining the same thing. It also doesn’t make any sense to say that justification is different between the two; the only difference is how long it lasts.

    2. Another thing to keep in mind is the patristic belief that we have the divine life by participation (grace) and not by nature. That makes it entirely different than natural life, which is our basic existence. When you talk about the Scriptural analogies to death and life, you have to remember that there is a fundamental difference from the patristic perspective. If you think of it as starting a second natural life, then it wouldn’t make any sense for that life to be gained and lost. But since it is life by participation, it can vary both in presence or absence as well as degree. And just as men can lose their natural goodness by sinning, so the new creature can lose its participation in the divine life that it is supposed to have, although it remains a new creature.

    3. A similar point can be made for the analogies about wolves and sheep or plants and soil. Again, the use of these analogies is conditioned by the fact that divine life, the Word in the heart, is held by participation rather than grace. So people move around between the classes in real life, even though wolves or soil don’t change their nature in ordinary terms. We are forced to use these analogies because this is an impenetrable mystery. There is nothing like it in ordinary experience, which is why to this day the Sacraments are referred to as the divine mysteries. If you don’t keep that in mind when reading authors like Athanasius or Augustine, we’re going to be significantly talking past each other.

    Would like to go point by point, but that’s the best I can do at the moment.

  238. James,

    Of course there’s a focus on justification. For Augustine, do you think Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism were just tangential? For Athanasius, do you think Christology is just tangential to soteriology? Just because they don’t talk like Aquinas doesn’t mean we can’t find salient data points – did they believe in theosis and infusion/transformational model of justification? Did they hold to baptismal regeneration? Did they hold christians can lose salvation? Did they hold to restoration via confession/penance? Did they hold to mortal and venial sin distinction? Did they hold to synergism in justification? All of those doctrines are consistent with each other and anticipated by Trent. To try to wedge Protestant sola fide into them either entails they didn’t actually affirm these doctrines (which are gospel-denying according to you and Eric) or that they’re incoherent and massively inconsistent.

    Of course these issues touch on the matter. But you still have yet to give me any treatise from Athanasius or Augustine on justification.

    The data points are only salient if they actually mean what Trent means by them and if there is consistency evident. For example, Augustine (and Rome for that matter) is massively inconsistent on the idea of the necessity of baptism for salvation. You can’t have it be required for justification (Rome) but then extend the benefits of it to those who are never baptized and be consistent as to whether it is required for salvation or not. End of story.

    Protestants affirm theosis, confession and evidence of penitence for restoration to the church (see, we actually practice church discipline), etc. So I don’t know what your point is other than to make the church fathers into Roman Catholics. It’s shoddy scholarship. They weren’t Protestant, and the idea that Athanasius or Augustine would sign onto Trent is at best conjecture.

    IOW, try again.

  239. If, as our RC interlocutors seem to suggest, perseverance is a gift that you get at death, then I don’t see how we don’t end up with a “do your best, and God will do the rest” theology. Certainly not a gift. You have to earn final perseverance by persevering.

  240. @Robert:
    As obnoxious as I find the prospect, I’ll try giving you the same benefit of the doubt as Eric, although you surely haven’t done anything to earn it.

    On your last point regarding justification, read my last comment to Eric. Given that perseverance is a matter of duration, it’s not possible by the nature of the gift itself to be given until the lifespan expires.

    It’s analogous to receiving some benefit “for life.” You can’t tell whether the provider of the benefit has actually fulfilled that grant until the recipient has died. Otherwise, it could be that the benefit won’t be given. Perseverance is the same; one can’t tell whether it’s been given until death, and it can’t have been given before.

  241. Robert,

    “But you still have yet to give me any treatise from Athanasius or Augustine on justification. ”

    In the past you (and Eric) have charged RCism with de facto Pelagianism (or if you’re feeling nice, maybe just semi-Pelagianism). This is usually intertwined with some tired criticism of RCism as denying the gospel and biblical justification and robbing God of glory. So that at the very least does more than merely “touch on the matter” by your own criticisms.

    So, if RCism being “de facto” P/SP directly ties to justification and your evaluation of RCism as gospel-denying, then certainly Augustine and the greater west’s dealing with the P/SP controversies sheds some light on the matter. So, presumably you exonerate Augustine from being P/SP right? So I’d like to know how he is not “de facto” P/SP but RCism teaching is “de facto” P/SP – we need to see the discontinuity.

    “The data points are only salient if they actually mean what Trent means by them and if there is consistency evident.”

    Of course – we always need to be careful of the word-concept fallacy (unlike your puritansmind link).

    “Protestants affirm theosis”

    Not as justification. Hence extra nos imputation and criticism of RC/EO (and patristic) confusion of sanctification and justification.

    “confession”

    Not to priests due to mortal/venial sin distinction (again a gospel-denying distinction according to you).

    “So I don’t know what your point is other than to make the church fathers into Roman Catholics.”

    My point is simply to point out beliefs they held that anticipate Trent and you hold as gospel-denying.

  242. Jonathan–

    Perseverance has to do NOT with the completion of an endeavor but in the process of actually completing it. It has to do with striving with all one’s might, with enduring through temptation and trial, with running a race to the finish line. If it is not given during our earthly existence, then it cannot ever have been given at all. The quote I gave from Augustine agrees with this evaluation.

    Even you cannot help from agreeing via Freudian slip:

    “Perseverance is the same; one can’t tell whether it’s been given until death, and it can’t have been given before.”

    If it is never given before death (whatever that even means), then there is no reason to add that one cannot tell when it’s been given. You’re dead.

    (Of course, you may be speaking of a third person who sees someone finishing the race in an apparently faithful manner. But that person cannot even tell IF the gift has been given. My only other guess is that you’re employing a tautology: if you make to the end, then you’ve made it to the end.)

  243. James–

    I don’t see modern RCism as in accord with Augustine and Aquinas on election. I get the impression that it is merely lip service. I also see no real distinction between Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. Both cross the Creator-creature boundary and ascribe to man what only God can do.

    It really doesn’t have anything to do with God not being self-confident enough to “share glory” with his creatures. We are his creation and as such are deemed “very good.” But we do not share in creation proper (the Hebrew verb for “to create” found in Genesis 1:1 can only have God as it’s subject). Sure, we put things together in new and innovative ways, so we can be called “creative.” But we simply have no capacity to come up with another primary color (as C. S. Lewis observed).

    Likewise, we cannot share in redemption proper. Yes, we do assist our fellow man through loving him and pointing him to the Redeemer, so we can be called “redemptive.” But we can never actually redeem anyone, including ourselves. That is reserved for God alone.

  244. Jonathan–

    For Augustine, perseverance is a gift granted when we ask for it. For the Reformed, even though we DO ask for it, it is a gift promised to all the elect at regeneration. I’m not at all sure he would disagree with that.

    It is NOT really the “terminus of a transformation,” for the transformation that matters most is already complete…and the other transformation is ongoing, even after death.

    If someone has open-heart surgery, their survival rate–of making it through the surgery–for one in otherwise good health, is over 95%. But if they die the following day, no one is going to call the surgery a success. How long something lasts, especially when we are speaking about life and death (either spiritually or physically), is a huge difference. And I don’t see how dressing it in the terminology of participation changes that in the slightest. When it comes to eternal life, the contrast is even more stark: how can being in a “state of grace” for five years be compared with being in a “state of grace and glory” for five BILLION years???

    To shroud everything in a cloud of inpenetrable mystery seems to me to give yourself license to say anything you wish or to make any writer you wish say whatever you’d like them to say.

  245. Jonathan,

    As obnoxious as I find the prospect, I’ll try giving you the same benefit of the doubt as Eric, although you surely haven’t done anything to earn it.

    What’s that old statement about when you point one finger at somebody, you have three pointed back at yourself?

    On your last point regarding justification, read my last comment to Eric. Given that perseverance is a matter of duration, it’s not possible by the nature of the gift itself to be given until the lifespan expires.

    It’s analogous to receiving some benefit “for life.” You can’t tell whether the provider of the benefit has actually fulfilled that grant until the recipient has died. Otherwise, it could be that the benefit won’t be given. Perseverance is the same; one can’t tell whether it’s been given until death, and it can’t have been given before.

    So of course you do not deny that we do our best, and if we make it to the end, then God pulls us over the line. I see hardly any way to distinguish what you are saying from “I do my best and then God gives grace to make up the lack.” I guess doing your best really is the prerequisite for God giving grace in the RC scheme, at least the grace that really matters, which is the grace of perseverance. None of the other graces really help because we’re all slipping in and out of them all the time.

  246. Eric,

    I don’t see modern RCism as in accord with Augustine and Aquinas on election. I get the impression that it is merely lip service. I also see no real distinction between Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. Both cross the Creator-creature boundary and ascribe to man what only God can do.
    It really doesn’t have anything to do with God not being self-confident enough to “share glory” with his creatures. We are his creation and as such are deemed “very good.” But we do not share in creation proper (the Hebrew verb for “to create” found in Genesis 1:1 can only have God as it’s subject). Sure, we put things together in new and innovative ways, so we can be called “creative.” But we simply have no capacity to come up with another primary color (as C. S. Lewis observed).
    Likewise, we cannot share in redemption proper. Yes, we do assist our fellow man through loving him and pointing him to the Redeemer, so we can be called “redemptive.” But we can never actually redeem anyone, including ourselves. That is reserved for God alone.

    That is one of the most concise and well put statements of what I’ve been trying to say. Thank you.

  247. James,

    Not as justification. Hence extra nos imputation and criticism of RC/EO (and patristic) confusion of sanctification and justification.

    Except that again, the church fathers weren’t having the debate about justification and sanctification, so you’re making pre-Tridentine individuals into Tridentine individuals again. They weren’t.

    Not to priests due to mortal/venial sin distinction (again a gospel-denying distinction according to you).

    I don’t know where I’ve said this is a specific gospel-denying distinction. I would say that it could be. The basic gospel-denying distinction is to believe that you have to add your own merit to Christ’s merit in order to be found righteous in God’s sight.

    My point is simply to point out beliefs they held that anticipate Trent and you hold as gospel-denying.

    Anticipate and equivalent are two different things. But I’ll freely admit that they say things that do anticipate Trent, just as they say things that anticipate Geneva. Thanks for making my point that Protestantism is a fully valid continuation of the historic Christian tradition. Good to see you are finally in line with the (modern) RCC that in practice has recognized that we’re not going to hell even though Trent still says we are. Maybe one day we’ll get those anathemas rescinded. I’m not holding my breath, however.

  248. @Robert:

    What’s that old statement about when you point one finger at somebody, you have three pointed back at yourself?

    Given that I was pointing the finger at myself, I’m just confused at this point.

    So of course you do not deny that we do our best, and if we make it to the end, then God pulls us over the line.

    Actually, that is exactly what I deny. Indeed, that is the entire point of affirming the gift of perseverance.

    I see hardly any way to distinguish what you are saying from “I do my best and then God gives grace to make up the lack.”

    Since the entire point of affirming perseverance as a gift is to deny exactly what you just said, I have to admit that I am completely confused as to how you could even think so.

    I guess doing your best really is the prerequisite for God giving grace in the RC scheme, at least the grace that really matters, which is the grace of perseverance.

    You would, obviously, be guessing wrong, because that would defeat the entire reason that perseverance is called a grace. In other words, we persevere because we receive grace, not vice versa.

  249. @Eric:

    Perseverance has to do NOT with the completion of an endeavor but in the process of actually completing it. It has to do with striving with all one’s might, with enduring through temptation and trial, with running a race to the finish line. If it is not given during our earthly existence, then it cannot ever have been given at all. The quote I gave from Augustine agrees with this evaluation.

    All I mean is that perseverance that doesn’t end in the state is not final perseverance by definition. In that respect, it does deal with completion of the event, because perseverance that doesn’t end in completion is not final perseverance. One might persevere for a time, but fail in the end, and my point is simply that one can’t have persevered until the end without having reached that end. Thus, one can’t be given final perseverance until one has died.

    You’ve put it quite well (and accurately) in the following quote:

    If it is never given before death (whatever that even means), then there is no reason to add that one cannot tell when it’s been given. You’re dead.

    I wasn’t actually adding anything. The reason one cannot tell that it’s been given is precisely because it cannot be given. That is why Augustine never speaks, at least to my understanding, of anyone receiving the gift of final perseverance who isn’t dead. I think that corresponds to the tautological interpretation, which I believe is the accurate one. The gift of final perseverance is not something other than having reached the end of one’s life in a state of grace; it just is the gift of being able to do so.

    For Augustine, perseverance is a gift granted when we ask for it.

    I don’t see that at all in Augustine. I see that perseverance, like many other gifts, is granted in answer to prayer. But I don’t see anything to suggest that it is granted immediately or that it is treated as given before it could possibly be given. It’s like any other gift requested in prayer in that respect; it will be granted to him who asks it faithfully, by which I mean that if he maintains the humble and prayerful attitude to which such prayers are granted.

    For the Reformed, even though we DO ask for it, it is a gift promised to all the elect at regeneration. I’m not at all sure he would disagree with that.

    Augustine disagrees with the fact that it is promised to all the elect at regeneration, because one has no idea who the elect are at regeneration. There are among the regenerate those who fall away and never return in Augustine’s view. They were not elect, but they were regenerate, and God did not give them the gift of final perseverance.

    It is NOT really the “terminus of a transformation,” for the transformation that matters most is already complete…and the other transformation is ongoing, even after death.

    And that is essentially the reverse of the Catholic view. The initial transformation is not permanent unless final perseverance is added to it, and there is no transformation (at least with respect to righteous standing before God) once one dies.

    If someone has open-heart surgery, their survival rate–of making it through the surgery–for one in otherwise good health, is over 95%. But if they die the following day, no one is going to call the surgery a success. How long something lasts, especially when we are speaking about life and death (either spiritually or physically), is a huge difference.

    Yes, but grace isn’t like surgery. It’s a gift. The point of getting surgery is to receive some corresponding benefit for incurring the risks of surgery; otherwise, it would be pointless. No one would risk dying the next day if one were not getting anything from it. But grace is something God gives to us for His purposes, and He doesn’t owe us anything. So if God wants to give someone the grace of regeneration, to allow that person to persevere for two years to accomplish His own ends, and then to choose to allow that person to fall into sin once that purpose is accomplished, He hasn’t wronged anyone. God doesn’t owe anyone further grace simply because He transformed their hearts and gave them a heart of flesh. He did that for His own reasons, and He can withdraw for His own reasons as well.

    And I don’t see how dressing it in the terminology of participation changes that in the slightest. When it comes to eternal life, the contrast is even more stark: how can being in a “state of grace” for five years be compared with being in a “state of grace and glory” for five BILLION years?

    Yes, but we’re talking about eternity, not any stretch of time. And in that respect, one’s life is the *only* thing that matters, because the quality of one’s experience in Heaven is completely locked in by one’s life. The heavenly hierarchy is a perfect reflection of earthly holiness. So the emphasis on the state of grace isn’t really for the damned, but for those who end up in Heaven. In the end, it doesn’t matter for the damned how much grace they had, but that isn’t the point. The point is to acknowledge for others the grace that they did actually receive.

    To shroud everything in a cloud of inpenetrable mystery seems to me to give yourself license to say anything you wish or to make any writer you wish say whatever you’d like them to say.

    The difference is that I’m not the one doing the shrouding; the authors themselves are. When they are the ones that say X can’t be explained, I am just following them. Many volumes have been written on apophatic theology and the Western theology of transcendence. Unfortunately, most modern thinkers either can’t comprehend it at all or can only condemn it as gibberish. That’s essentially Brad Gregory’s thesis on what Protestantism was: Christianity rewritten based on the modernist denial of divine transcendence.

    I think this statement goes right to the heart of that difference:

    Likewise, we cannot share in redemption proper. Yes, we do assist our fellow man through loving him and pointing him to the Redeemer, so we can be called “redemptive.” But we can never actually redeem anyone, including ourselves. That is reserved for God alone.

    The whole point of Christianity, at least as it was practiced for the centuries prior to the modern era, was exactly that we participate in the redemption of everything. It is for God alone to redeem, but we *participate* in God’s redemption of everything. St. Ireneaus, very early in Church history, called it recapitulation. That’s what the liturgy is; it is the foretaste of what we will be doing in Heaven.

    In a real sense, that’s what salvation was in patristic Christianity: to stop serving the body of death, the influence that breaks things down, and to start participating in the life of Heaven. That is why regeneration, being made a new creature, is only the first transformation. It’s not about what we are saved *from* but what we are saved *to*. That’s why the liturgy was the most important thing that we do here on earth, because it actually accomplishes more in the eternal sense than anything else that we do. But the rest of our life is the training, the ascesis, that makes us ready to fulfill our function in the heavenly choir.

    That’s why life and the state of grace now matter so much; as we do now, we will do in an eternal mode in the afterlife. If that is resisting God, then we will do it forever (“ever-ill-being” as St. Maximus called it), and we call that Hell. But as we do well here, so we will do well in the eternal mode.

    So this is very much where the intuitions are disconnected. You are thinking of what Christ has done to save you, and we are thinking of what Christ is doing with us to save the world. And interestingly, our personal salvation is an incidental benefit that we might not even receive!

  250. @Robert:

    I don’t know where I’ve said this is a specific gospel-denying distinction. I would say that it could be. The basic gospel-denying distinction is to believe that you have to add your own merit to Christ’s merit in order to be found righteous in God’s sight.

    And Trent “anathematized the Gospel” where, exactly? Because James’s point wasn’t that the Fathers don’t anticipate Trent generally, but anticipate quite specifically the exact same beliefs that were proclaimed at Trent.

    And a “valid continuation” doesn’t label one’s predecessors in the Christian faith “gospel-denying.” That is, in fact, the opposite of a “valid continuation.” That is why you don’t want to label them as “gospel-denying.” James’s point is that if you are going to take the now-ridiculous, antiquated, and thoroughly discredited position that Trent “anathematized the Gospel,” which really ranks up there with Holocaust denial these days in terms of historical legitimacy, then you need to own up to the fact that what you are doing is not a “valid continuation,” but a thorough repudiation of Christian history.

  251. Jonathan–

    Trent anathematized what we Protestants identify as the gospel. You cannot stick your own particular Catholic definition of “gospel” into that equation without misinterpreting us.

  252. Jonathan–

    1. Yes, but perseverance that DOES end in a state of glory IS “enduring” perseverance long before one’s death. (And my even calling it “enduring” perseverance is redundant.) Four days is an incomplete week. In other words, it is not a week at all. Perseverance that doesn’t endure isn’t perseverance because it doesn’t persevere. (One cannot persevere “for a time.” One either perseveres or one doesn’t persevere.)

    If one cannot be GIVEN perseverance before death, then one cannot be given perseverance at all. At the point of death, all of our persevering that’s going to occur in this life has already occurred.

    2. Chapter one of Augustine’s “On the Gift of Perseverance”:

    “I have now to consider the subject of perseverance with greater care; for in the former book also I said some things on this subject when I was discussing the beginning of faith. I assert, therefore, that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God; and I call that the end by which is finished that life wherein alone there is peril of falling. Therefore it is uncertain whether any one has received this gift so long as he is still alive. For if he fall before he dies, he is, of course, said not to have persevered; and most truly is it said. How, then, should he be said to have received or to have had perseverance who has not persevered? For if any one have continence, and fall away from that virtue and become incontinent,—or, in like manner, if he have righteousness, if patience, if even faith, and fall away, he is rightly said to have had these virtues and to have them no longer; for he was continent, or he was righteous, or he was patient, or he was believing, as long as he was so; but when he ceased to be so, he no longer is what he was. But how should he who has not persevered have ever been persevering, since it is only by persevering that any one shows himself persevering,— and this he has not done? But lest any one should object to this, and say, If from the time at which any one became a believer he has lived—for the sake of argument—ten years, and in the midst of them has fallen from the faith, has he not persevered for five years? I am not contending about words. If it be thought that this also should be called perseverance, as it were for so long as it lasts, assuredly he is not to be said to have had in any degree that perseverance of which we are now discoursing, by which one perseveres in Christ even to the end. And the believer of one year, or of a period as much shorter as may be conceived of, if he has lived faithfully until he died, has rather had this perseverance than the believer of many years’ standing, if a little time before his death he has fallen away from the steadfastness of his faith.”

    There can be no debate, Jonathan, that here Augustine is agreeing with me and almost ridiculing your stance. One cannot KNOW that one has perseverance before death just as one cannot KNOW one will finish a race before actually, physically breaking the tape at the finish line. But unless one HAS perseverance DURING the race, one will not persevere. To persevere is not merely to complete the race but to faithfully struggle to run with the determination required throughout the duration of the race. It may be a much shorter race for some who come to faith toward the end of their days. But one must churn one’s legs for however long his own particular race is set.

    3. Again, I do not know of’a single place where Augustine even discusses Protestant regeneration, so how would you know whether or not he believed that the Protestantly “regenerate” could fall away? The closest thing he speaks of is election. And the elect cannot fall away.

    4. Pretty much everything else you mention is just Protestant soteriology using different terminology.

  253. @Eric:
    Helpful comments. Let’s see if I can help clear some things up.

    1. Your point regarding Trent anathematizing the Gospel as Protestants may be correct, but it misses the point. Except for hyper-Calvinists, the Reformed believe that true churches can nonetheless be in error. So the question is whether Trent’s anathema of certain tenets makes it an erring but true church or a synagogue of Satan where people are saved only by not actually believing the Catholic faith. James’s point is that any standard that puts Catholicism in the synagogue of Satan category necessarily puts the entire historical practice of Christianity in the same category. That is why every historically aware Protestant now puts Catholicism in the “true but erring” category.

    2. I have no problem using perseverance to refer exclusively to final perseverance (FP), as Augustine does here. But then we can’t use your broader definition of determination, striving, endurance and effort toward a goal, perseverance in the broader sense, because there are plenty of people without FP who do all of those things. Many who are equally determined or even more determined when they are regenerated fall away. By contrast, there are those with FP who do nothing their entire lives and then sprint to the end (e.g., St. Dismas and deathbed conversions). As long as we are clear that those who are truly converted have the same degree of determination, endurance, or whatever other quality you want to assert that we are not calling “perseverance,” we can agree. The point is that while they are striving, the people are identical and indistinguishable. It’s only based on some later event that their determination is broken.

    As to Augustine’s use of Protestant regeneration, the point is just whether there is some kind of permanent change that causes someone to persevere thereafter. Augustine denies that there is any such thing; everybody can fall at any time, else salvation is not by grace. So Augustine that there is any kind of change in a person before death that will guarantee that person’s salvation, even in the elect. That is why Augustine’s concept of election is different from Protestant regeneration. I don’t think it’s fair to say that he didn’t consider the concept, since he expressly denies it.

  254. Should be “So Augustine *denies* that there is….”

  255. Request to the authors of CCC,

    Can we delve back into the world of exegesis of scripture at some point? The papacy, the eucharist, justification, grace, etc….. Talking about abstract philosophical concepts and ECFs is cool…. But we have been beating this horse for a while now…. Might be nice to mix it up? I woukd love to see some of yall break down and defend critical catholic proof texts…. Just a thought

  256. @Kenneth:
    You’re contributing to the same ugly blogosphere that I’m sure caused Jason to lose interest in this stuff:
    http://oldlife.org/2014/12/in-the-same-boat/comment-page-1/#comment-257161

    Given the general environment, I don’t know how much we can expect to be posted at all, much less upon request. If I were in his shoes, I would not likely care to wade back into the muck either.

  257. Jonathan,

    Oh i know Jason doesnt want to post anymore. Thats cool. I was under the impression that he had passed authorship on to you three and thats why I was asking. I didnt realize that you all had to ask permission to post.

    I dont think that the conversations at Old Life should be the litmus test for the blogosheres “general environment”. That place is uniquely nasty on the comment boards and only appeals to certain personality types. Jason has no problem talking about religion over a cold brew…. I dont see why he would be against letting you all exegete scripture.

  258. Jonathan–

    1. “In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.” It all depends on what the errors are. Catholics, I am sure, do not count as true churches those who err on basic christology or trinitarianism and the like. The Reformed believe that no truly ECUMENICAL council was ever held to determine whether Tridentine or Calvinistic soteriology embraces Nicene truth. Anybody who calls himself Reformed, including Carl Trueman, without holding to the marks of the true church–where the Gospel is rightly taught, the sacraments are rightly administered, and church discipline faithfully exercised–is not correctly labeled. In the Church of Rome, none of these marks exist.

    2. For Augustine’s clear meaning of “perseverance,” it doesn’t matter how “determined” one is at the start of the race or in the middle of the race. If one quits at any point and walks off the track, never to return, one has not persevered; instead, one has given up. The Gift of Perseverance is determination plus the endurance to complete the task. It is a spiritual gift of grace. One cannot “put on one’s game face” and compete in the flesh. No one without the Gift of Perseverance sees it through to the end. You are still confusing the inability infallibly to discern that one has the gift…with actually HAVING the gift in the eyes of God long before one’s death. Augustine makes it clear he believes in both.

    For Augustine, neither the elect can fall away nor those with the Gift of Perseverance. If the elect COULD fall away, then grace would be meaningless. We ourselves would then be responsible to endeavor to maintain our salvation. And that is clearly works righteousness, which Augustine forcefully rejects.

    If you wouldn’t mind, take the time to prove to me that Augustine sees election as distinct from Protestant regeneration…in his own words. Also, show me that Augustine distinguishes between true conversion and election. Citations please! You keep asserting that Augustine holds to this or that without documentation.

  259. Eric,

    “I don’t see modern RCism as in accord with Augustine and Aquinas on election. I get the impression that it is merely lip service.”

    Thomism and Trent is part of modern RCism. So please explain why Thomism or Trent/CCC is not in accord with Augustine and Aquinas on election. Lutherans and Arminians also deny your view of perseverance – does that mean they only pay lip service to election and the gospel?

    “I also see no real distinction between Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. Both cross the Creator-creature boundary and ascribe to man what only God can do.”

    Odd that the creator-creature boundary is crossed when the very defenders of that doctrine during Trinitarian debates had no problem affirming what you deny as gospel-denying and charge as P/SP. Secondly, this still doesn’t answer why you exonerate (I assume) Augustine as P/SP but not Trent or RCism.

    Robert,

    “Except that again, the church fathers weren’t having the debate about justification and sanctification, so you’re making pre-Tridentine individuals into Tridentine individuals again. They weren’t.”

    Once again, they were having “debates” with Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians. That speaks to justification by your own lights because you charge RCism with de facto P/SP in calling it gospel-denying.

    Secondly, even outside the P/SP controversy, the fathers spoke of justification. They spoke of how we are made right with God. In those writings, they affirm the theosis/infusion/participation model you reject as gospel-denying along with their “confusion” on sanctification with justification. It is irrelevant that they weren’t talking about scholastic concepts like congruent or condign merit or other such developments. What are the core concepts of justification you view in Trent as gospel-denying that you apparently think the fathers rejected and hence save them from being gospel-denying?

    “The basic gospel-denying distinction is to believe that you have to add your own merit to Christ’s merit in order to be found righteous in God’s sight.”

    Augustine and other fathers spoke of merit in relation to justification (being found righteous before God). Trent/CCC speaks of merit but I presume you think Trent and the CCC mean something different by merit than Augustine and the wider patristic tradition did since you apparently exonerate them from being gospel-denying. So as above, please explain why Augustine’s notion of merit is not gospel-denying but RCism’s is.

    “But I’ll freely admit that they say things that do anticipate Trent, just as they say things that anticipate Geneva.”

    What do you think Augustine or others say in relation to soteriology that anticipate Geneva but is discontinuous with Trent and its gospel-denying teachings? Are we going to get the puritanminds link again?

    “Thanks for making my point that Protestantism is a fully valid continuation of the historic Christian tradition. ”

    I am not sure why you think I made that point. My point again is that you exonerate the fathers for beliefs they explicitly held and defended that you see reflected in Trent which you decry as gospel-denying. I’m waiting for the justification of such a position that isn’t merely special pleading.

  260. James–

    Perhaps it does not apply to you personally, but my distinct impression from most of the Catholics I have dialogued with is that predestination has been watered down into mere foreknowledge in most modern RC soteriologies. Molinists strike me (in how they talk and act) as almost purely Pelagian.

    Lutherans like to answer everything paradoxically, refusing to systematize their soteriology. They both believe in perseverance and they do not. Some Lutherans come pretty darn close to allying themselves with the Calvinists on this point. The Remonstrants, including Arminius himself, took no stance on perseverance…and totally subscribed to total depravity, to boot.

    Once again, I have no problem with the theosis/infusion/participation model in and of itself, as long as Augustine’s view on perseverance is embraced, as well.

  261. Eric,

    I think you are too hard on molinists. The system is brilliant. Suarez and bellarmine formulated forms of molinism that even included election and reprobation without consideration of merits or demerits…. All of the RC versions of predestination out class the thought of Calvin. Read up on suarez sometime.

  262. Kenneth–

    I don’t think I besmirched the work of Molina and Suarez and the gang. I bemoaned what modern Molinists have made of their teachings: an excuse to countenance an extreme form of human autonomy and libertarian freedom.

    But I don’t think we can give them a free ride either. If they and the Thomists were always so compatible as you seem to infer, they wouldn’t have been trying to slit each others throats (metaphorically speaking).

  263. @Eric:
    I would suggest primarily “On Rebuke and Grace,” which is specifically on the subject of those who have “lost the grace of God” (see, e.g., ch. 9) in the sense of having been truly converted, regenerated and justified.
    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1513.htm

    Also “Against Two Letters of the Pelagians,” “On Grace and Free Will,” “On the Predestination of the Saints,” and “The Gift of Perseverance” are helpful and consistent on this point.

    The real issue here is whether you think of grace as something given at some particular time or whether you view it as something continuously supplied, more like electricity. You seem to view “Protestant regeneration” as a permanent change for which God has then contracted to continue to supply uninterrupted power until the end of some purpose. Our view, which I think is Augustine’s view, is that the power company chooses to supply or not supply based on its needs, which can include rolling blackouts for the good of other customers. In other words, even if you’re a customer, that doesn’t absolutely guarantee that the power company won’t prioritize someone else. And the power might go away and come back on. Perseverance is just another word for “the lights are on at the time of death.” It’s not a question of effort; it’s solely a question of whether God has chosen to maintain your grace supply at that particular moment.

    You also mention God’s point of view, appearing to suggest that this is merely an epistemic limitation and not a real one. The point of my explanation is not whether we know that the gift of perseverance has been given, but that we know it has not been given. God knows what will happen in any (and every) case, but we also believe that He knows what has happened in time. So with respect to perseverance, He knows, for anyone who is alive, “at time X when Mr. Y is alive, I have not yet given Mr. Y the grace of final perseverance.” Because He knows the future, He also knows “at the time of Mr. Y’s death, I will/will not have given Mr. Y the grace of final perseverance.” But that doesn’t change the fact that it has not actually been given (and cannot be given) until the very last instant of a person’s life.

    On the other issue, while I agree with what you say that there is a sense in which Protestants call Rome a “false church” in the sense of ordinary operation, and therefore worthy of schism, there is another sense in which what we believe is “true” in the sense that we hold is sufficient to affirm Christ as savior (i.e., whether it is a profession of saving faith). In that respect, Trueman, at least, refused to say that the Catholic Church was “not a true church.” That is to say, he would not say that the belief in the Catholic faith, if sincerely held, was not a credible profession of faith in Christ.

  264. One example of people all up in arms over Trueman’s position, which actually strikes me as the only reasonable position available to Protestants:
    https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/a-disappointing-discussion/

    These people cite confessional support to the contrary, but if ever there were a case for pointing out that Protestant confessions can err and can be revised, this must surely be the one.

  265. Eric,

    “I have no problem with the theosis/infusion/participation model in and of itself, as long as Augustine’s view on perseverance is embraced, as well.”

    You have yet to demonstrate how Augustine’s view on perseverance differs from the RC view. So seems you should have “no problem” with RC soteriology then unless you’re hiding some trump card from Augustine you keep refusing to show.

  266. Jonathan–

    From the very next chapter (ch. 10) of “Retractions”:

    “Jude the apostle, again, when he says, Now unto Him that is able to keep you without offense, and to establish you before the presence of His glory, immaculate in joy, does he not most manifestly show that perseverance in good unto the end is God’s gift? For what but a good perseverance does He give who preserves without offense that He may place before the presence of His glory immaculate in joy? What is it, moreover, that we read in the Acts of the Apostles: And when the Gentiles heard, they rejoiced and received the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed? Who could be ordained to eternal life save by the gift of perseverance? And when we read, He that shall persevere unto the end shall be saved; with what salvation but eternal?”

    True conversion to Christ, by faith and repentance, brings us, in Augustine’s mind, to an irrevocable, eternal salvation.

  267. Jonathan–

    Unless the lights are on before death, they cannot be on at the point of death. Even St. Dismas persevered for a time, however brief. If we contract out with Sherpas to guide us up Mt. Everest, we will not appear “poof” at the top…but must climb. The Sherpas will assist us and perhaps even carry us a time or two, but we must trek up the steep slopes. If they guarantee we will reach the top, we might not, for they are not God. But when God guarantees we will reach the top, we most certainly will. That doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility to climb. And God is there every step of the way, not solely when we reach the summit.

  268. @Eric:
    Just a brief point; the extract from Retractations (aka, Reconsiderations, not Retractions, as the typo on the website site says) was the place in which the work in question was described. The letter itself is generally referred to as “On Rebuke and Grace.”

    I’m not sure what you’re seeing that I’m not. The passage doesn’t say “and only those who were ordained to eternal life believed.” It just affirms that those who were ordained to eternal life did. Augustine’s point was that in order for anyone to be ordained to eternal life, there must be a gift of final perseverance to make it so. He most emphatically was not saying that they received the gift of final perseverance at that particular time, only that there must exist such a gift for God to give in order that they can be ordained to it.

  269. @Eric:
    As to the second point, I don’t understand what you’re asserting. Barring a miracle, God never actually guarantees someone is going to reach the top. Some people do reach it like “poof” either at the end of life or in infant baptism; the whole journey is done at baptism. Some slowly but steadily make it up the mountain. Some start up the mountain but go off the path. Some of those God retrieves; some He doesn’t. In each of these cases, no one is ever going up the mountain without God’s specific guidance.

  270. The electric company analogy is brilliant! Love it. However, isnt it true that for tye analogy to be completely in line with Church teachings, each of the houses would need to have some kind of culpability in having the lights turned off?

  271. Jonathan–

    There is a long history of its being called “Retractions.” Not only that, but “retractions” and “reconsiderations” mean roughly the same thing.

    I have absolutely no earthly clue how you got what you did out of the text. Certainly not from a straightforward reading!

  272. Jonathan–

    As to the second point, all I can think is that your idea of what constitutes predestination or election is seriously skewed.

  273. James–

    Yes, I have. Augustine clearly believes only in final perseverance and no other kind. He clearly believes it may be given far in advance of one’s death. He clearly believes the elect always receive it. He believes all others never receive it. There is no “temporary” perseverance! The regeneration of the elect inevitably includes final perseverance. The resulting co-existence and co-association of election, regeneration, and final perseverance coincides with Reformational belief.

  274. Jonathan–

    Your “electric company” analogy makes God into a capricious entity who doesn’t fulfill his promises. The power company cannot turn anyone’s power off on a whim. It must abide by contract stipulations. The whole thing is covenantal.

  275. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Jonathan–
    .
    I have absolutely no earthly clue how you got what you did out of the [Augustine’s] text.

    Probably by reading it in context of Augustine’s Incarno-Sacramentalism (Sacramental Realism).

    The real question is, how can the text bear the meaning that you assign when Augustine’s Sacramental Realism (which the Reformed affirm that he held) is cross-referenced with it? Don’t you have to reject the second as being erroneous in order to maintain the first?

  276. Wosbald–

    Augustine was “all over the map” when it comes to the Eucharist. Who are you to say you have a handle on what he had to say?

    At any rate, here is Peter Leithart on sacramental realism:

    “Insofar as Protestantism denies transubstantiation,” writes Douglas Farrow in Ascension Theology , “it collapses into idealism and subjectivism, turns eschatology into utopianism, and reduces ecclesiology to secular politics.” Without transubstantiation, Protestants appear before God empty-handed, or make the eucharistic offering “something of our own, something offered alongside of Christ rather than in, with, and through Christ.  ‘Unholy fire’ upon the altar of God.”

    Leithart responds:

    A weighty charge, and one with a good deal of truth, but qualified: By transubstantiation, Farrow doesn’t mean “the terms or the particulars of medieval metaphysics” but instead “the eucharistic realism of John 6.”  That qualification evacuates the charge, because of course much classic Protestantism has never denied eucharistic realism.  What was Marburg about, after all?  What Farrow is attacking is Zwinglianism, or the insipid “shadow” of Calvin that one finds in too many Reformed churches.

    And the notion that Protestantism treats the eucharistic offering as something “alongside” rather than “in” Christ is extraordinary.  Calvin, to be sure, didn’t think the elements constituted an sacrifice, nor did Luther.  But Calvin did speak of the eucharistic offering of praise and self-gift, and the notion that this self-gift is “something of our own” clashes with everything Calvin ever wrote.  We have nothing of our own – that’s the whole point of the Protestant protest!

    You see, Wosbald, much of the magisterial Reformation never did away with sacramental realism…and yet they did not interpret Augustine as you do.

  277. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Wosbald–
    .
    Augustine was “all over the map” when it comes to the Eucharist. Who are you to say you have a handle on what he had to say?
    .
    At any rate, here is Peter Leithart on sacramental realism: …

    So, you are claiming that Augustine did not necessarily believe in Sacramental Realism (especially with regard to Baptism, which is more relevant in this context than is the Eucharist)? This would go against the Reformed consensus upon which you seem to rely. And which, IIRC, you’ve affirmed in the past.

    And the Leithart quote mentions neither Augustine nor Baptism.

    So again … the historicity of Augustine’s Baptismal Realism? You reject this position?

  278. Eric,

    I’m still waiting for you to show how Augustine’s view of perseverance differs from the RC view of perseverance. The elect are given the gift of perseverance. No RC disagrees – how could they – the elect by definition persevere and such is a separate gift of grace. So there must be some other difference, since you would have no problem with RC model of justification if it embraced Augustine’s view of perseverance, so I’d like to see how it doesn’t since you continue to have a problem with it.

  279. Wosbald–

    Sorry. Personally, I have a difficult time talking about “realism” when it comes to infant baptismal regeneration. It’s more or less meaningless to me. I have no problem affirming Augustine’s acceptance of this realism. It’s just completely irrelevant.

    On the other hand, I would tend toward a higher degree of realism than many Reformed when it comes to adult baptism. To me, realism must include actual indelibility…and not just some ineffectual, temporal “state of grace” when it comes to baptism. For me, a realistic sacrament is an outward sign of a permanent reality…not just a fleeting shadow.

    At any rate, Leithart would say much the same thing concerning baptism.

  280. Wosbald–

    To clarify, Leithart would say much the same thing concerning baptism as he did concerning communion.

  281. James–

    Sorry. I haven’t had time to work on that. Why don’t you show me how modern RC notions of perseverance MATCH Augustine’s take…because I don’t believe they do.

  282. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Wosbald–
    .
    Sorry. Personally, I have a difficult time talking about “realism” when it comes to infant baptismal regeneration. It’s more or less meaningless to me. I have no problem affirming Augustine’s acceptance of this realism. It’s just completely irrelevant.

    Okay, so you accept that Augustine held to Baptismal Realism. But you reject his belief as erroneous (or “irrelevant”) so that Augustine’s text (“On Rebuke and Grace”) can bear the meaning that Reformed theology needs it to bear.

    Meanwhile, by simply reading that same text in context of Augustine’s Baptismal beliefs (that you freely admit he held), Jonathan easily comes to a Catholic understanding of it (though earlier you said that you had “no earthly clue” how he came to such a reading).

    Are you being honest with us here? Or just squirrelly?

  283. @Kenneth:
    If you want to include the idea of sinful resistance, then you could think about it misuse of power being one of the criteria for power removal. In other words, people who squander power are the ones from whom it will be taken, assuming that the power company has other reasons to do so. The point is that the deprivation itself is driven by other reasons on the part of the power company. It is a question of priority (election) on the part of the power company, not any absolute obligation.

  284. Wosbald–

    I don’t what your problem is. I have been consistent throughout this discussion. Why call me squirrelly now? Haven’t you been paying attention?

    I couldn’t care less about the realism or lack of realism displayed by Augustine on the topic of infant baptism. It doesn’t appear to occupy a significant space in his overall scheme of things. I want to know what he might have believed concerning Protestant regeneration if he had been confronted with the thought. How much does he bundle conversion, regeneration, justification, election, and perseverance? The elect always convert, always persevere, and are always regenerate and justified. Their regeneration and their justification is permanent for them. This much is clear. Would he acquiesce to evaluating the permanent regeneration of the elect as qualitatively different from the regeneration of the non-elect? He would certainly testify to the superiority of the length of time the elect will enjoy their justification. That is actually enough for me. What would it take for you?

    I am asking you to think “outside the box” here. Too difficult for you?

    As for Jonathan, we were disputing WHEN the elect receive perseverance. And the realism (or lack thereof) of infant baptism is irrelevant to the question. He is simply misreading Augustine.

  285. Jonathan–

    So…the poor non-elect can have their power turned back on once, twice, or even many times. What they cannot have is its permanent return. Actually, in your view, the elect cannot have it turned on permanently either. They’re just lucky enough to have the lights on when God haphazardly decides to snuff their life out.

    In your view, there is no difference between the elect and the non-elect other than the capricious choice of God. You’re like those Lutherans who tend toward antinomianism, completely downplaying the relevance of sanctification (progressive justification). ALL that matters is God’s selection.

  286. @Eric:
    The power company analogy seems to be dead on for Augustine’s doctrine of grace, but the difference helps to illustrate the different intuitions. You’re thinking of covenant as some sort of exchange or contract. So if you’re in the covenant, God has made a contract with you, so He has promised to give you something.

    I recognize that it’s not an exchange, in that you didn’t pay anything for it, but God gratuitously gave you this promise. It’s like winning a prize, and regeneration is your letter saying “Congratulations! Your pearl of great price will be delivered in three days’ time!” The letter comes from a thoroughly impeccable source, so that you are certain it will come. And the realization that you are receiving this prize changes your life, so that your entire way of living is reoriented around the profound gratitude for receiving this completely undeserved gift.

    That’s essentially the view that Romans 9 is written to rebut, and Augustine uses it in that way. The point is that God gives graces for His benefit, not yours, so they don’t come with any promises to you, impliit or explicit. Yes, you can be sure, based on God’s promise, that there will be an elect and that they will receive certain benefits , but you can never know based on previous graces who will be in that group.

    I’m surprised that you, as a Calvinist, would call that capricious. That is the doctrine of election according to Augustine and Aquinas. Read those works I cited above with this view of election in mind; they’ll make much more sense.

  287. @Eric:
    PS re: your comment to Wosbald, Augustine’s point is that there is no such thing as “permanent” regeneration. If there were, a gift of perseverance would not be required for such a person. The fact that there is a separate gift of perseverance means that no regeneration can even possibly be permanent of itself, or even to include what is necessary to permanently keep it. Otherwise, perseverance would not be a grace.

  288. @Eric:
    There’s a test case in chs. 32-33 of the following:
    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15122.htm

    What do you think Augustine means by “fall,” “lapse,” or “would have surely perished?”

    With the case of the elect man who is regenerated then falls before returning, how can he be “always persevering” in the fallen period, when he is clearly not justified?

  289. Jonathan–

    Permanent regeneration (or justification) is really nothing more than being made a (covenantal) “child of promise” (as Augustine puts it). Though the (eventual) true believer is elect before the foundation of the world, he or she still must come to (conversionary) regeneration in space and time. Augustine differs from the Reformed in not specifically bundling perseverance with regeneration, instead viewing it as a gift given when requested. I have no problem with his take on things. Indeed, it makes no real difference as long as perseverance is a promise that will be fulfilled without fail.

    For us Protestants, it is the Gift of Perseverance which renders our regeneration permanent. So, yes, it is required. Why CAN’T regeneration include the separate gift of perseverance necessary to maintain it till the end of life? Why–as Augustine teaches–can’t it be given subsequent to regeneration in order to maintain regeneration till the end of life? And how on earth does any of this make perseverance unworthy of the title of “grace”?

  290. Jonathan–

    There are different kinds of covenants made in Scripture. God’s covenant with the Israelites is basically a suzerainty treaty. It is conditional, and thus comes with all sorts of stipulations which must be followed to remain in covenant and receive blessings or to be excised from covenant and receive curses. But other covenants are divinely unilateral and therefore unconditional. This is why when Abraham cuts up various animals in half, only God passes through their midst, indicating that only he and his reputation are on the line. Abraham will have as many progeny as there are stars in the sky…without fail.

    Your middle two paragraphs are inconsistent. First you say that the promises of God are unilateral, free, and sure…since we know their divine source. And then you say that we can’t even know whether he’s given us a promise or not. You also morph into a Protestant momentarily to state that our sanctification is motivated by “profound gratitude” rather than the conditionality of the Catholic sense of our participation in the divine.

    How is your view of perseverance NOT capricious? We believe justification TRANSFORMS us. There is a reason we are counted among the elect…for only we have been (Protestantly) regenerated. Why us and not others? Surely not caprice…but rather profound mystery…within the purposes of God. In your view, there is no transformation…just people who please God for a time here and there. It’s as if you believe that God has ordained a moment for you to die–without telling you when–and then left you to hope against hope that when your time comes, the “lights will be on.”

  291. Jonathan–

    Did you pick these eminently Reformed passages from Augustine ON PURPOSE???

    CH. 32 of “On the Predestination of the Saints” speaks of God’s middle knowledge, his understanding of counterfactuals. He is never caught unawares. He never decides a man’s fate based on caprice. As George MacDonald says in the (retitled) “Curate’s Awakening” regarding a man who had died unrepentant and lost: “If another minute would have done it, he would have had it.” Augustine is not arguing against such a notion. He is arguing against Pelagians who believe that we merit salvation on our own and that we should not be cut down prior to being given every chance possible to reform.

    All that he is saying in his last (lengthy!) sentence is that God is in control of those who lapse and irretrievably fall, as well as those who stay the course or those who fall but ultimately return. We can do nothing to merit the outcome. (He does include the error that baptized babies have an advantage in God’s sight over unbaptized infants. We all have our faults!)

    Ch. 33 could come straight out of the Westminster Confession. You’ll have to explain to me why you cited it. You’ve got me scratching my head.

  292. @Eric:
    To be clear, that second paragraph was my description of your view, so if I’ve “morphed into a Protestant,” then I’ve understood correctly. That is exactly the belief with which I’m disagreeing, the one I believe is rejected by Romans 9 and by Augustine.

    The reason that perseverance can’t be given before death is that, at that moment in time, perseverance would cease to be by grace. That is likewise where there is never a moment where God promises to a specific person (again, barring miraculous prophecy) that the person in question will be saved in a way that would create a strict obligation. In short, children of the promise doesn’t mean a promise to us. It means people who end up being chosen by God to fulfill the promise to Abraham, which might or might not be us. We know that such people will exist, so we have hope, but we don’t know whether we will be in the group, so we don’t presume. We abide in Christ in hope that we can be saved, not certainty that we will be.

    You seem to suggest that it is not capricious for God to elect to save some people, but it is capricious to give them this great gift, to work this great change in their hearts, to make them a new creature who loves Him, and then to let them fall into sin. Why save them now only to let them die later? Augustine says it’s the same reason God allows anyone to exist and be damned: an unsearchable mystery. If it’s not capricious for God to allow people He creates to be damned, then there’s no reason that He can’t allow people He re-creates to be damned. It would be capricious if He had promised to them not to do it, but as I said, He never made that promise.

    That’s what I mean by this participation thing being important. Being in Christ is always a grace, and it can always not continue to be given. Baptism is an indelible mark, but it only permanently marks that we were in Christ at one time. It is only by grace actually working through that mark that we remain in Him.

  293. Jonathan–

    The elect don’t need to be “always persevering.” They need to persevere enough to make it to the finish line. And this they are given. It looks different in every regenerate life. For some, it is a walk along a flat plateau. For others, a moderately difficult but steady uphill climb. For still others, there are deeply cut valleys and steep mountainsides. God grants them all the ability to reach the end.

    Because their perseverance is assured, they cannot “fall out” of justification. They may indeed pass through a period where Catholics would identify them as temporarily out of a “state of grace.” But in the big picture, such a designation would be pretty much meaningless except as motivation to escape apostasy or continuous, unrepentant (mortal) sin.

  294. Jonathan–

    Ah, I see. So you weren’t losing your mind as I feared! It would have helped if you had written: “I recognize that FOR YOU it’s not an exchange.” But at any rate, I should have reoriented myself in light of your third paragraph. My bad!

  295. @Eric:
    The counterfactual is whether the man dies, not what he is. At that point, the man has lost the grace of regeneration, and he is no longer justified, because his standing before God is such that it would send him to hell if (counterfactually) he died at that moment. No matter how God ultimately see the man’s fate, He sees him as an enemy at that time, just as if he had never had his heart changed at all. His condition is not counterfactual, but factual. It is unlike the case of Tyre and Sidon, where people might believe in certain circumstances. This deals with someone who actually believed, actually lapsed from his belief, and later actually believed again.

  296. Jonathan–

    Only in our eyes is final justification unknown until the hour of our death. God has known for a long, long, long time. We create no obligation in him to fulfill his promises or to be true to his character. He does that himself. But we’re really talking past each other here. We also cannot be sure of our election (though we can be assured). We also do not countenance presumption. You’re preaching to the choir.

    Sure, God could allow people he re-creates to be damned. But he clearly said that he wouldn’t. He DID make that promise.

    It seems to me that your view of grace is bass ackwards. Grace is a free gift from God. It is free in the sense that it does not obligate US, not that it does not obligate God.

    Many of those who are not Reformed avoid Romans 9 through 11 like the plague. This is our home turf. I’ll not be intimidated by your misuse of it (or by your misuse of Augustine).

  297. Jonathan–

    God’s middle knowledge in this case is knowing how the man would have acted had he LIVED. Knowing what he would have avoided had he died is known to us all…it already happened in time and space.

    For God to know the counterfactual circumstances of one who fell and returned (if he had departed before his return) only goes to show that God predestines the man’s return. It is inconsequential to both God and to Augustine (and should be so to us) what might have happened had God not ordained the man’s return ahead of time. The fact of the matter is that he DID.

    God is in control, and we are not. That is the whole point of ch. 32.

  298. Jonathan–

    Before I forget, let me thank you for this cordial and constructive discussion. A great way to start out the new year!!

    You wrote:

    “Being in Christ is always a grace, and it can always not continue to be given. Baptism is an indelible mark, but it only permanently marks that we were in Christ at one time. It is only by grace actually working through that mark that we remain in Him.”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I have read that for Catholics, union with Christ remains even during excommunication. It is ineffectual, but it is still there…a potentiality waiting to be employed.

  299. @Eric:
    Thanks also for your efforts in trying to understand. I hope the fact that you realize that I am not proselytizing is helpful. The goal for me isn’t to be anti-Reformed, only to explain what I believe and to understand where we differ. Along those lines, I don’t think I am “misusing” Augustine or Romans 9-11. We just have a different understanding of what the purpose of the writings was.

    It sounds like the key point of disharmony is this idea of a promise. I see this (and I think Augustine sees this) as incompatible with the idea that salvation is *all* of grace. If that were the case, we would not need to make the petition “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” because God would have promised us not to do this. So yes, God could certainly bind Himself, but we know from the normative practice of the liturgy that He has not done so. If He did, then we would instead invoke the covenant, rather than asking for His grace.

    This is contrasted, for example, with eternal life, which is given as a reward for good works, a case of grace (favor that is not strictly merited) given as a promise to reward. But Augustine sees this as still being entirely of grace, since the good works are themselves graces. Thus, in the eternal judgment, we rightly say “pay what you promised.” But we do not say in the Lord’s prayer “reward us with the avoidance of temptation that you promised.”

    The point is that God being “in control” or knowing what will happen doesn’t really have anything to do with this. We all believe in election and divine omniscience and omnipotence; it’s not as if our prayers actually change God’s mind, although Scripture does sometimes speak metaphorically of God “repenting” from some planned evil. The question is not whether God is in control, but what God has actually promised.

    The Jewish belief, to which St. Paul responds at length in Romans 9-11 (and really the entire letter), was that God had promised them salvation as His elect people, provided that they remained in the covenant by following the Law. When Paul points out that Scripture says this isn’t so and that it includes judgment against many who had been given grace, then the hypothetical Jewish interlocutor mockingly says “well, then why didn’t God just make us better?” Paul demolishes the argument by pointing out that people who were poor and obstinate servants should not be complaining when the potter decides to trash them and use a better pot.

    The point being that we need to know *exactly* what God promised, not just what we think He promised. And from Augustine’s perspective, He wouldn’t have us constantly petitioning for what He had already promised to give us.

  300. Jonathan–

    You apparently believe that we Calvinists take perseverance to be some sort of a “free ride” to which we need not contribute anything. We are much like you in holding to the idea that we must work out our own salvation in fear and trembling. We persevere by the sweat of our brow, by exceedingly strenuous effort, not by lazily relying on an all-expense-paid trip to heaven. There is every reason in the world for us not to be led into temptation beyond what we can endure. There is every reason for us to be rescued from evil.

    We are placed on a high wire above the Grand Canyon, given a balancing pole, and encouraged to walk across. We are assured by God Almighty that we will make it across, but not that he will catch us if we fall. How much effort would you give in such a circumstance, a thousand or so feet above the Colorado River?

    We will be given strength; we will be given hope; we will be given guidance and skill. But we will not be caught if we just “give up.” For it is God who is at WORK within (and through) us to accomplish his purposes.

    We are given assurance (we will make it across)…but not presumption (we don’t have to bother to do anything; we can give less than our best effort).

    Grace, by the way, is NOT favor which is not strictly merited. It is favor which is totally UNmerited (which is why Augustine attributes our good works entirely to grace).

    You have yet to make any comment in support of actual predestined election. You seem to hold to some sort of foreknown election, which you then burden with a “predestination” tag which it doesn’t deserve.

    Quite obviously, our prayerful petitions are more for our own sakes than for God’s. He already knows our hearts and that which we desire. He already knows that which is best for us and that which he has planned for us.

    Our relationship with him is personal and dynamic nonetheless. I believe that he ACTUALLY repents of “planned” actions in response to our requests, that he ACTUALLY rescues and heals and forgives and reconciles in response to them. Yes, he knew he would change his mind. Earthly fathers do this every day. They know exactly what their children are going to ask for before they do so; they know that they themselves will relent of intended punishment in response to tearful apologies…and they know it all ahead of time. They know the sensitivities of their kids.

    How exactly do we go about delineating between what our convictions tell us that God has promised (through faithful study and prayer) and what he has ACTUALLY promised? You happen to think I am wrong about what he has promised, but isn’t that, after all, what YOU think concerning his promises?

    I’m not specifically out to proselytize you either. It is not my principal motivation. But unless one does not have the courage of his convictions, one will proselytize without fail on some level. Why argue for your own point of view if you believe your opponent could never, ever see it your way? I’m sorry for my own intolerance of diversity, but I firmly believe you would be better off coming over to my side. If I care for you, I will proselytize. If I don’t, I won’t.

    I will respect you more if you never back down from what you most strongly hold. I will respect you more if you acknowledge you would be pleased to see me convert.

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