ECFs vs. WCF

Posted by on October 6, 2013 in Catholicism, Church History, Early Church Fathers, Ecclesiology, Eucharist, Featured, Means of Grace, Presbyterianism, Protestantism, Reformed Theology, Sacraments | 427 comments

Before we go any further in our series on the Eucharist, there’re a couple things I’d like to say. First, enough with the jumping from the theological or exegetical point under discussion to the whole throw-everything-at-the-Catholic-Church-but-the-kitchen-sink tactic, as if an appeal to lesbian nuns discredits the idea that the Eucharist is a sacrifice. Last I checked, guitars have room for more than one string, but if all you want to talk about is liberalism, feel free to do it in a thread on that topic rather than here.

Secondofly, the classical Protestant position on the Eucharist is that their view comports with the views of the early church fathers, and it was the medieval Catholic Church that imported all the magic, priestcraft, and sacrificial overstatement. This post is intended to call that idea into question. Off we go, then. . . .

Protestant church historian J.N.D. Kelly:

[In the early church] the Eucharist was regarded as the distinctively Christian sacrifice.… Malachi’s prediction (1:10–11) that the Lord would reject Jewish sacrifices and instead would have “a pure offering” made to him by the Gentiles in every place was seized upon by Christians as a prophecy of the Eucharist. Didache indeed actually applies the term thusia, or sacrifice, to the Eucharist.…

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It was natural for early Christians to think of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. The fulfillment of prophecy demanded a solemn Christian offering, and the rite itself was wrapped in the sacrificial atmosphere with which our Lord invested the Last Supper. The words of institution, “Do this” (touto poieite ), must have been charged with sacrificial overtones for second-century ears; Justin at any rate understood them to mean, “Offer this.” … The bread and wine, moreover, are offered “for a memorial (eis anamnasin ) of the passion,” a phrase which in view of his identification of them with the Lord’s body and blood implies much more than an act of purely spiritual recollection (Early Christian Doctrines, 196–97).

Didache:

Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be pure. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid profaning your sacrifice [Mt 5:23–24]. For this is the offering of which the Lord said, “Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations”[Mal 1:11, 14] [Didache 14 (c. A.D. 50)].

St. Clement of Rome:

Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices. Blessed are those presbyters who have already finished their course, and who have obtained a fruitful and perfect release [Letter to the Corinthians 44:4–5 (A.D. 70)].

St. Ignatius of Antioch:

Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of his blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow servants: that so, whatsoever you do, you may do it according to [the will of] God [Letter to the Philadelphians 4 (c. A.D. 110)].

St. Justin Martyr:

Hence God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: “I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord; and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands: for, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord: but you profane it” [Mal 1:10–12]. [So] he then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist [Dialogue with Trypho 41 (c. A.D. 155)].

St. Irenaeus of Lyon:

He took from among creation bread, and gave thanks, saying, “This is my body.” The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand: “You do not do my will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is my name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty” [Mal 1:10–11]. By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles [Against Heresies 4:17:5 (c. A.D. 189)].

St. Cyprian of Carthage:

For if Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, is himself the chief priest of God the Father, and has first offered himself a sacrifice to the Father, and has commanded this to be done in commemoration of himself, certainly that priest truly discharges the office of Christ, who imitates what Christ did; and he then offers a true and full sacrifice in the Church to God the Father, when he proceeds to offer it according to what he sees Christ himself to have offered [Letters 62:14 (A.D. 253)].

St. Serapion of Thmuis:

Accept therewith our hallowing too, as we say, “Holy, holy, holy Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of your glory.” Heaven is full, and full is the earth, with your magnificent glory, Lord of virtues. Full also is this sacrifice, with your strength and your communion; for to you we offer this living sacrifice, this unbloody oblation [Sacramentary of Serapion 13:3 (c. A.D. 350)].

St. Cyril of Jerusalem:

Then having sanctified ourselves by these spiritual hymns, we beseech the merciful God to send forth his Holy Spirit upon the gifts lying before him; that he may make the bread the body of Christ, and the wine the blood of Christ; for whatever the Holy Spirit has touched is surely sanctified and changed. Then, after the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service, is completed, over that sacrifice of propitiation we entreat God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world; for kings; for soldiers and allies; for the sick; for the afflicted; and, in a word, for all who stand in need of succor we all pray and offer this sacrifice [Catechetical Lectures 23:7–8 (c. A.D. 350)].

St. Gregory of Nazianz:

[C]ease not both to pray and to plead for me when you draw down the Word by your word, when with a bloodless cutting you sever the body and blood of the Lord, using your voice for the sword [Letter to Amphilochius 171 (c. A.D. 383)].

St. Ambrose of Milan:

We saw the prince of priests coming to us, we saw and heard him offering his blood for us. We follow, because we are able, being priests, and we offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people. Even if we are of but little merit, still, in the sacrifice, we are honorable. Even if Christ is not now seen as the one who offers the sacrifice, nevertheless it is he himself who is offered in sacrifice here on earth when the body of Christ is offered. Indeed, to offer himself he is made visible in us, he whose word makes holy the sacrifice that is offered [Commentaries on Twelve Psalms of David 38:25 (c. A.D. 389)].

St. John Chrysostom:

For when you see the Lord sacrificed, and laid upon the altar, and the priest standing and praying over the victim, and all the worshippers empurpled with that precious blood, can you then think that you are still among men, and standing upon the earth? Are you not, on the contrary, immediately translated to heaven? [The Priesthood 3:4 (c. A.D. 388)].

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Reverence now, oh reverence, this table of which we all are partakers! [1 Cor 10:16–18.] Christ, who was slain for us, the victim who is placed thereon! [Homilies on Romans 8 (c. A.D. 391)].

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“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ?” Very persuasively spoke he, and awfully. For what he says is this: “This that is in the cup is what flowed from his side, and of that do we partake.” But he called it a cup of blessing, because holding it in our hands, we so exalt him in our hymn, wondering, astonished at his unspeakable gift, blessing him, among other things, for the pouring out of this self-same draught that we might not abide in error: and not only for the pouring it out, but also for imparting it to us all. “Wherefore if you desire blood,” says he, “redden not the altar of idols with the slaughter of brute beasts, but my altar with my blood.” Tell me, what can be more tremendous than this? [Homilies on First Corinthians 24:3 (c. A.D. 392)].

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And in the old covenant, because they were in an imperfect state, the blood they used to offer to idols he himself submitted to receive, that he might separate them from those idols; which was a proof of his unspeakable affection: but here he transferred the service to what is far more awful and glorious, changing the very sacrifice itself, and instead of the slaughter of irrational creatures, commanding to offer up himself [ibid.].

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What then? Do not we offer every day? We offer indeed, but making a remembrance of his death, and this [remembrance] is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because that [sacrifice] was once for all offered, [and] carried into the holy of holies. This is a figure of that [sacrifice] and a remembrance. For we always offer the same, not one sheep now and tomorrow another, but always the same thing: so that the sacrifice is one. And yet by this reasoning, since the offering is made in many places, are there many Christs? But Christ is one everywhere, being complete here and complete there also, one body. Even while offered in many places, he is one body and not many bodies; so also [he is] one sacrifice [Homilies on Hebrews 17:6 (c. A.D. 403)].

St. Augustine of Hippo:

Was not Christ once for all offered up in his own person as a sacrifice? And yet, is he not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that the man who, being questioned, answers that he is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, declares what is strictly true? [Letters 98:9 (A.D. 408)].

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For when he says in another book, which is called Ecclesiastes, “There is no good for a man except that he should eat and drink” [Qo 2:24], what can he be more credibly understood to say [prophetically] than what belongs to the participation of this table, which the mediator of the New Testament himself, the priest after the order of Melchizedek, furnishes with his own body and blood? For that sacrifice has succeeded all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were slain as a shadow of what was to come.… Because, instead of all these sacrifices and oblations, his body is offered and is served up to the partakers of it [City of God 17:20 (c. A.D. 419)].

Rather than list all of the (many) affirmations here that Protestants cannot accept, I’ll just cite from the most robust and mature expression of Reformation theology, the Westminster Confession of Faith:

In this sacrament, Christ is not offered up to His Father; nor any real sacrifice made at all, for remission of sins of the quick or dead; but only a commemoration of that one offering up of Himself, by Himself, upon the cross, once for all: and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God, for the same: so that the popish sacrifice of the mass (as they call it) is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of His elect (xxix.2).

“Christ is not offered up to His Father; nor any  real sacrifice made at all “! Talk about a statement that no church father cited would have recognized as orthodox!

According to the doctrinal standard of confessional Presbyterianism, there is no sense whatsoever in which Christ of offered to his Father or the Eucharist is a real sacrifice. Instead, it is a commemoration only of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. And let it be understood that from the standpoint of Reformed ecclesiology, no private statement of any theologian carries binding weight, for while the writings, theology texts, and commentaries of theologians are considered important, it is to the confessions and catechisms of Reformed churches that ministers in those churches are bound.

I consider it beyond dispute, therefore, that even if the Reformed view of Communion is correct, unless the one holding it can affirm that in the Eucharist (1) a priest (2) offers up to God (3) an unbloody true sacrifice (4) that is propitiatory in nature, then his position is not only fundamentally different from the one held by the church fathers, it is in direct opposition to it.

427 Comments

  1. Mateo,

    And there, in my opinion, lies the greatest defect of Calvinism – the assertion that if a man is cast into the eternal flames of Hell, it is because God did not love him enough. Damnation, ultimately, is God’s will for those He does not love enough to save.

    Here’s the thing, unless you are a universalist, you do not believe that God loves everyone enough to save them. There is always something He loves more. For most non-Calvinists, it is some form of libertarian free agency. God deems it more important to preserve a person’s libertarian agency and the “free” choice to love in a libertarian sense than he does intervening and sovereignly, irresistibly, and omnipotently overcoming all resistance and change a person’s heart so that he loves them to the end. Essentially, God loves the fact that an individual has the ability to make a free choice in a libertarian, un-divinely-caused sense more than he loves that individual as a person and child.

    And yes, damnation is God’s will for those whom he doesn’t want to save, at least in some sense. It is God’s will for you as well, it’s just depersonalized and abstract. It is God’s will to damn any who reject him. John Doe meets the criteria of rejecting God, hence John Doe goes to hell.

    Unless you are a universalist, God does not love everyone in the way you want him to, and hell is not against his will in the way you want it to be.

  2. Wosbald–

    Not so fast! I asked for backup. I’m unsure of the exact Reformed response on this.

    I know that Calvin proclaimed the elements as “spiritual food” even for those who take unworthily (although it becomes poison in their mouths). He also definitely calls it the body and blood of Christ given to them.

  3. Wosbald,

    If, as Robert said, “God only loves some unto Salvation”, would that mean that the Reformed Jesus is only received by some in the Eucharist?

    I believe that is essentially correct, though I would add this caveat.

    Jesus is present in the Eucharist in different ways. For those of faith, He is present to bless and to strengthen. For those who do not have faith, He is present to curse.

    An examining of oneself and thus, active participation by the partaker, is required (1 Cor. 15). Come to the table without faith, and you are putting yourself at risk of eternal death.

    Reformed theology is highly sacramental. Especially when it comes to the Eucharist. Approaching the table in a worthy manner (i.e., with faith) is a matter of life and death.

  4. Zrim,

    I have no desire to reduce the “criteria” to identify someone as Reformed, and I think you are right to exclude someone with a dispensational eschatology, but that’s because it reflects a system that is dispensational at its core. But there are plenty of Reformed Baptists who could be classified as covenant theologians, albeit inconsistent ones. There are plenty of Baptists who have a fundamental covenantal understanding of Scripture, they just don’t baptize children. I think that’s inconsistent. But its not anti-Reformed unless infant baptism is the defining mark of covenant theology.

  5. Robert–

    It seems that some of these Catholics confuse indulgence and mercy. Without a sense of wrath and discipline, God’s love is transformed into something biblically unrecognizable.

    Evidently, for some of these Catholics, love is the thing they sing about on “Glee.”

  6. Susan,

    Personally, I would like to be a fly on the wall in that conversation you had with your Reformed pastor. It is one thing to say one does not need to be fervent in their faith to be a Christian—ridiculous! It’s another to be counseling someone who is excessively worried that they are not a Christian because they feel like their faith isn’t strong enough. In my experience in ministry, it’s that second case that predominates, and in that case you exhort people not to compare themselves to others and not to trust in the strength of their own fervor but in the strength of Christ.

    And the whole point about the prostitute story is quite vague. The person is okay because he didn’t repent? Well, I think most Reformed individuals would question that person’s salvation if the reason for his non-repentance is the fact that he refused to repent and had no desire to repent. But to my knowledge, even Rome is not going to deny salvation to that person merely for not having a chance to repent. What if he had remorse but then had a heart attack immediately before he could repent. Does Rome not have some kind of “if at least the desire is there on some level” thing going on.

    Rome has to introduce that distinction because of the “in one day out the next” view of mortal sin and salvation that you all have. That subtly undermines the whole system. “Hey, I’ll go to the beach on Sunday and it’ll be fine because on some level I thought I might want to go to mass one day!” And I guarantee you I could find more than one priest who would be fine with that and give me his blessing.

    The Reformed just admit that God’s grace is bigger than our sin and isn’t necessarily going to kick somebody out because they “slipped up.”

  7. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Wosbald–
    Not so fast! I asked for backup. I’m unsure of the exact Reformed response on this.

    That’s why I said that it would prove my point.

    Though, honestly, I doubt that you’ll find any Reformed answer other than the one which you already gave: “those who are without faith would not be eating the flesh of Christ.” because otherwise, you’d be “agreeing with ‘ex opere operato'”, which you don’t.

    In the Catholic view, one receives the Flesh of Christ, the whole Incarnate Person of Jesus, whether or not one receives Him to Life or to Condemnation. One Lord. One Faith. One Baptism. One Flesh. They are One because Christ is One. Heaven and Earth are One in Him. This is the essence of the Incarnational worldview.

  8. Eric,

    If there is anything I’ve learned about these RCs on this board, it is that they have no real place for God’s wrath. It’s really quite disconcerting. That weakens their view of love as well. The God I see in so many of the comments is that pathetic guy who has his heart handed to him by his ex-girlfriend and then he starts stalking her and begging her to have him back. “Please, please, please, please love me. You light up my life. You’re my reason for being.”

  9. Zrim–

    Though amillennialism is the majority report among Calvinists, it is not mandated by the confessions. I have known plenty of conservative Presbyterians who were postmillenial, historic premillenial, or partial preterist.

    I may be too broad, but you are definitely too narrow. You would not count as authentically Reformed some of the best examples of the mindset. That’s just silly.

    B. B. Warfield not Reformed? Come on!

  10. Robert,

    if someone dies in a state of mortal sin they go to hell. It doesn’t matter if they planned on repenting “one day”. Die in the arms of a prostitute… Hell bound. Reformed teach that a person is just as regenerated before during and after adultery. Insane.

  11. Kenneth-

    Anything less that total faithfulness to God is spiritual adultery.

    That the regenerate are forgiven before, during, and after adultery is called…grace.

    Grace is something you need to learn more about, my friend. You will not make it without it.

  12. There are plenty of Baptists who have a fundamental covenantal understanding of Scripture, they just don’t baptize children. I think that’s inconsistent. But its not anti-Reformed unless infant baptism is the defining mark of covenant theology.

    Robert, to suggest it isn’t is like suggesting that it isn’t anti-Catholic to deny papal infallibility and submission or that it isn’t anti-Republican to affirm more taxes and bigger government. But these particulars are essential to the systems. It isn’t clear to me what is to be gained by giving so much cover to those who clearly don’t get how the systems imply the particulars.

  13. Robert,

    ” The Reformed just admit that God’s grace is bigger than our sin and isn’t necessarily going to kick somebody out because they “slipped up.””

    Slipped up?? Did Jesus die to leave us in a state of sin? You make grace a blank check! If that isn’t antinomian, tellme what is?! You’d be wiser to wager that either it’s the Reformeddenominations or the Catholic Church that understands soteriology correctly. Since I have faith in God and I believe that God loves everyone so much that He laid down His life in sacrifice to redeem us from all unrighteousness, and since sin is the disease that necessitated His intervention in the first place and the abilty not sin has not been removed from us at once, then it is safer to trust Catholic soteriology and at least strive not to sin.

    “For if we sin wilfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins”

    Don’t be deceived, my friend.

    Susan

  14. Oops,correction . Rather,”since the ability TO sin, has not been removed from us, at once, upon our justification.”

  15. Susan–

    If your parents could bribe you off of death row, exactly how much money would they withhold in effecting your release or your indefinite stay of execution? Or if you were held for ransom by blood-thirsty terrorists, how high would they go? Would they say this far and no farther…we have to save something for our retirement?

    You’d better thank your lucky stars that God’s grace is a blank check for his children! There’s nothing even slightly antinomian about that. God loves us because we are his kids and not for anything we can do to make him proud. And because he loves is so much, there is nothing we wouldn’t do to make him proud of us! That’s the essence of sola fide. It speaks to our motivations. We are not to be motivated by pride or ambition or competitiveness, but by love. Your system has us competing for our Father’s love. Some of us are good enough, and some of us are not.

    The NIV translation of the verse you quoted has “if we deliberately keep on sinning….” In other words, if we are in rebellion against the Lord our God…not if we slip up. Hamlet waited for his father-in-law to get past his remorse, so he could kill him and send him to hell. That’s your nonsensical Catholic system at work!

    All of us willfully sin…even much of our unconscious sin is willful, for we have chosen not to deal with it.

    “If we say we have no (willful) sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

  16. Zrim–

    That’s only true if the system really does logically entail the particulars, which in the case of mode of baptism, you’d have a heck of a time trying to prove. I will agree with you that the five (soteriological) points of Calvinism really do fit together. I don’t acknowledge 4-point Calvinists (which dispensationalists and some Thomists claim to be) as true Calvinists soteriologically. But you’ll have to do more than assert that Reformed eschatology MUST be amillenial or that Reformed worship MUST be iconoclastic. Calvin himself was rather high-church liturgical.

  17. Eric,

    Hebrews 10:26: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”

    1 john 15-17

    15 And we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask: we know that we have the petitions which we request of him.

    16 He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and life shall be given to him, who sinneth not to death. There is a sin unto death: for that I say not that any man ask.

    17 All iniquity is sin. And there is a sin unto death.

    these were the very scriptures that first sent me on my path home to the Catholic Church. I was doing John Mac Arthurs bible study plan reading the book of 1 John once through for 30 days and for 30 days in a row those verses nagged at me. Then came Hebrews and the same thing. These passages present huge problems for an open hearted seeker who is considering Calvinism vs RCC.

  18. Eric/Robert,

    It seems that some of these Catholics confuse indulgence and mercy. Without a sense of wrath and discipline, God’s love is transformed into something biblically unrecognizable.
    Evidently, for some of these Catholics, love is the thing they sing about on “Glee.”

    No, this is not true. There is plenty of wrath from God. First off, “love” is not some squishy thing that they sing about on “Glee.” God is love. To understand God is to understand love. In everything that we do, we are called to love. To love is to sacrifice your wants and your needs for the good of another. To love God is to be obedient to Him. It’s to serve Him and Him alone. And your love for God is reflected in your love for others.

    To sin is to be disobedient to God. In disobedience, we experience His wrath as Adam was disobedient and was expelled from Eden so we are no longer united if we are disobedient to Christ.

    Fortunately, God is a God of mercy and grace. Through God’s mercy, we receive His grace and forgiveness when we are disobedient and seek His forgiveness. And we stay in His friendship provided we continue to love God through being in relationship with Him. As we continue in our relationship, we receive more grace and grow in Christian maturity and bear much fruit.

    So in summary:

    Disobedience=sin=God’s wrath=eternal punishment

    Obedience=love=eternal happiness

    Of course everything hinges on having the faith in God’s love and hope in His promise

  19. Robert, you write:

    Here’s the thing, unless you are a universalist, you do not believe that God loves everyone enough to save them.

    You are wrong about what I believe. I am not a universalist, and I do believe that God loves everyone enough to save them. I utterly reject your notion that if a man is damned, the fault lies with God, because God never loved that person enough. Actually, the scriptures are explicit on this point, God desires no one to perish:

    The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

    And yes, damnation is God’s will for those whom he doesn’t want to save, at least in some sense.

    I disagree, because I do not believe that God has created a class of men that He has no desire to save.

    Robert, you are getting at the root of the difference between the Calvinism and Catholicism. For the Calvinist, the Gospel is this: God might love you enough to save you, if you are lucky. If you are one of the special people, (like me), you can say that God died for your sins. But don’t get your hopes up yet, because God has created most men for damnation.

    The Gospel that Catholics preach is quite different. The Catholic can witness to anyone on the face of the earth this truth: God loves you, and he died for your sins so that you can be saved.

  20. Kenneth, you write:

    I agree that God loves everyone but that does not mean that He loves them all the same (which is what unconditionally would seem to entail?).

    To love without conditions, means exactly that. God loves you whether you are obedient or disobedient. Human beings, on the other hand, often do not love without condition. If you are nice to me, I will love you. If you are mean to me, I will withhold my love from you. That kind of love is mercenary.

    For no creature could be greater than another unless loved by God more.

    I don’t see it that way. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that God loves us both the same. But you choose to love God, and you show your love by how you live. I, on the other hand, choose to hate God, and I show it by how I live my life. You would be greater than me, not because God loves you more than me, but because you love God more than I do.

    Therefore, those whom love God are loved more by Him than those that do not.

    I think that you are missing one of the main points of the story of the prodigal son.

    As you know, God is love, God is power, God is good, and God is simple. His goodness IS His love which just IS His power etc.

    Exactly. Jesus says that he is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the truth. If I say. “I am the truth”, you would think that I am nuts. But if I said, I am speaking the truth, you might listen to what I am saying, because I am not claiming to be the truth. And that is my point; it is one thing to say that God is loving, and quite another thing to say that God is love. I can say that I am loving, and that may be true. But you would think that I am either insane or evil, if I said, “I am love”.

    In response to your other questions
    1. The sinner is the one doing the rejecting
    2. God is responsible for the hardened heart (he hardened it)
    3. The sinner is responsible for damnation because it was the sinner who grieved God by initially rejecting His sufficient grace and sinning against Him.

    I don’t see how 2 follows 1. If the sinner is doing the rejecting of God’s sufficient grace, then it is the sinner that is responsible for having a hardened heart. God is allowing the sinner to reap what he has sown.

  21. Eric, my point has been about recipients of baptism, not mode. So covenantal theology implies that children of believers are marked as children of the covenant, though the discontinuity from OT to NC includes the fact that it is now for both male and female children and from bloody ordeal to watery sign and seal. And if the Reformed confessions mean anything about what it means to be Reformed, HC 98 seems to affirm that to be Reformed is indeed to be iconoclastic:

    But may not images be tolerated in the churches, as books to the laity?

    Answer. No: for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have his people taught, not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of his word.

    You suggest that Calvin himself was rather high-church liturgical as if this undermines iconoclasm, but I’ve no trouble putting iconoclast and high-church liturgical together. I’ve been in plenty of Reformed churches that are free of images and highly liturgical.

  22. Mateo,

    First, I don’t know where you think that Calvinists believe most men have been damned. Postmillennialism has a very strong presence in Reformed theology, and postmillennialism says that most men will be saved.

    Second, if someone goes to hell, it is that person’s fault, not God’s. The Lord is never morally culpable for sin. However, again, if God knows the future, then if a person ends up in hell, then God wants them in hell more than he wants something else. Generally, for the non-Calvinist, it is to preserve some kind of libertarian free choice. God loves the fact that human beings possess a free choice to choose to love him more than he loves them as persons. He will not irresistably change them because he values their free choice more than he wants them to be in heaven.

    You haven’t solved the problem you think Calvinism has, and you’ve depersonalized God. He has a generic ooshy squishy love for all people that doesn’t really do anything for them. He’ll stand at the door and knock. He’ll even say “please let me in.” But at the end of the day, salvation is up to the individual making the “free” choice. Grace is necessary but insufficient to save. It’s medicine, not resurrection.

    I’m not saying there aren’t hard questions related to these things, but unless you are a universalist, you do not believe God loves everyone to salvation. You just don’t realize it. If God’s love is not effectual, it is not better than human love.

  23. Zrim and Eric,

    As far as iconoclasm, the 39 Articles are a Reformed confession, and the Anglicans are anything but iconoclastic.

  24. Kenneth,

    You need to keep the context of Heb. 10:26 in mind. The entire book has to do with people who want to abandon Christ and go back to the temple sacrifices. That suggests that the willful sin he is talking about is the rejection of Christ, specifically the return to the old covenant.

    The same author also says that Christ has perfected for all time those who are currently being sanctified. It doesn’t say that God might perfect those who are currently being sanctified, which is essentially the RC and every other non-Reformed position.

    The NT authors were not omniscient. They give blanket warnings. They know that the elect will receive those warnings and persevere to final salvation. They know the non-elect will not. That makes the passages where salvation is guaranteed (Rom. 8:28–30, all who are justified are glorified, and so many others; John 6 and 10, Christ raises up at last day all who come to him, no one can snatch Christ’s sheep out of his hand—even the sheep themselves) easily reconcilable with those passages that suggest one can abandon the faith. The one who does not affirm perseverance for all the justified are really left with no solution for the passages that suggest it is impossible to lose one’s salvation, and they make final salvation dependent finally not on God but on man. It’s man’s final decision to go to heaven, and if he gets there he cannot credit it to God alone. You and I get the same sufficient grace, but if I reject it there is something better about you or in you than there is in me.

  25. Susan,

    You are raising the same objection to what I just said that the Judaizers and other legalists raised to Paul in Romans 6. That should cause you to take a big pause.

    Grace is no license to sin, and any who think it is don’t understand grace and don’t understand the gospel. What you are saying is not what Paul was saying. There is no reason for any person to say to the RC scheme of salvation “but does that mean I can sin or doesn’t that mean I can sin all I want and get more grace?” If that question cannot be raised of one’s position, one is not preaching the gospel that the New Testament preaches.

  26. Kenneth,

    Back to the matter at hand. You wrote:

    I have been thinking of your objection on how one could know what sacrifice and altar mean when reading the ECFs. Would development be a way to know? If the successors to the ante nicene fathers all universally held to the same belief as the current RC paradigm that would seem to suggest a passing on of doctrine orally. Especially in light of the fact that there was no controversy over the mass as sacrifice until the 9th century…. And the people who rejected it were immediately dealt with. On the other hand…. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason at all to think that the early church meant what the WCF means by sacrifice and altar unless you just read it into the text. In other words…. There is at least SOME reason to believe they meant what a RC might….. There is NO evidence that suggests they meant what the WCF does. What are your thoughts

    Possibly, but not necessarily. I haven’t denied that a far more RC view of the Eucharist showed itself in church history quite early, but that does not necessarily mean it was the NT or the earliest fathers’ view. We’re living only two hundred years or so after the founding fathers of this country, and I think it is safe to say that so much of what our ruling class thinks about how the country should be is NOT what the founding fathers thought. Things can get corrupted quite early.

    I’m all for development of doctrine, but that development has to be a good and necessary consequence of apostolic teaching. The doctrine of the Trinity is a good and necessary consequence. I doubt Peter thought in terms of person vs. nature, perichoresis, enhypostasis and so forth, but all of that is reflected in the biblical teaching. The church’s job is to take the biblical teaching and, when heresies arise, formulate doctrine in a way that confronts the heresy and preserves the biblical truth. This means that all doctrine needs to conform to biblical teaching. In the case of the Eucharist, that means many things, not the least of which is the transformation of the elements. All biblical miracles are verifiable. When someone was healed, everyone in the town could see it and touch it. Everyone could see the five loaves become hundreds of pieces of bread. No one can verify that the Eucharist becomes anything other than bread and wine. Yet Rome makes it a dogma that the elements become Christ. It’s not unlike Benny Hinn claiming that somebody has been healed but no one can prove it medically.

  27. Robert-

    Good point, Robert.

    When a corroborating miracle (for the canonization of a saint) is claimed, Rome tracks I down and medically verifies it.

  28. Robert,

    All biblical miracles are verifiable. When someone was healed, everyone in the town could see it and touch it. Everyone could see the five loaves become hundreds of pieces of bread. No one can verify that the Eucharist becomes anything other than bread and wine. Yet Rome makes it a dogma that the elements become Christ.

    That’s not true. The Eucharist becoming Christ is similar to God becoming man. That was as unverifiable. In fact, like you and the Eucharist, the Pharisees did not believe that God became man and they killed Him.

  29. Robert,

    I understand how the Reformed read Romans. Problem is that is scripture is perspicuous we should all come to the same conclusions. Neither side is stupid, and neither side is trying to steal the glory from God. The world is watching and pointing out that Christianity is divided, so to them it must not be a truly revealed religion.
    I had an Anthropology professor, an atheist, mention this in her classroom that was filled with young agnostics, and broader evangelicals, and nominal Catholics( I say nominal because they were willing to accept that Christianity is becoming more and more fused with other religions,and they were admittingly living immorally). I was the only Reformed person in the class, and I realized that if there was not a body that could keep the truth straight, then Christianity was going to undergo a radical transformation over the next couple hundred years. I saw an attack going on against orthodoxy equivalent the geo-political laying to waste by the Huns. I thought to myself, “What’s going to protect orthodoxy? What these people need to hear is the gospel, that they don’t have to do anything but believe in the gospel and that way Christian practice will work itself out; and what the truth of Christianity won’t be wiped from the earth.” That’s when I really started to look back to the past, before the Reformation, to see how much my modern church looked like the ancient model. You think the scriptures will safeguard the great apostosy, but so far they haven’t.

    “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”

    You and I both believe that we should no longer be slaves to sin,because in our baptism we have been raised to newness of life. But we do have to persevere, and since we can’t do that on our own we need daily grace. Do you believe in the need for daily grace from God? This is walking in the Spirit.

    “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please”

    I think that the Judizers were being scolded for trying to make the new Christians be circumcized and fullfilling the law of Moses that way. If someone believes that we don’t have to obey the moral law and that we won’t be judged by the moral law they are antinomian.

  30. I somehow left out that since I was the only Reformed person in the class this didn’t bode so good for Reformed theology, assuming it is the locus of orthodoxy.

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/my-prediction-the-coming-evangelical-collapse-1

  31. What you’re describing sounds suspiciously like Solo Scriptura to me. I will submit to a church’s teachings provided they conform to my interpretation of Scripture, but the minute they don’t, I am free to disregard them.

    Jason,

    Since Keith Mathison and his colleagues coined the term “solo scriptura” I think it’s fair to allow him to define the term. For Mathison the solo people are those who reject tradition as having any value in theological discussion. If I was utilizing anything like the solo paradigm I would refuse to talk about any creed or confession – Catholic, Protestant, or whatever.

    You did not address my point when I asked you as to how dogmatic statement ought to be questioned if in fact creedal statements can be in error, or if a specific creedal statement (example under consideration is Trent) could be in error. In the case of Trent the EO and the Reformed judge Trent to be in error. Of course it’s not just the EO and the Reformed as individuals who are making such judgments, it our respective ecclesiastical bodies and traditions. Likewise you judge various Reformed and EO traditions to be in error, but it’s not just you as an individual, it’s the RCC tradition which you now associate with which judges some EO and Reformed traditions to be ought of accord with historic Christian teaching. We cannot escape the fact that we all must make individual judgments at some level. The question I asked you was how ought such judgments to be made. Now of course you might start with the assumption that 1) official church teaching cannot be in error, and more specifically 2) official Roman Catholic teaching cannot be in error. That’s exactly what the RCC paradigm does, but within the context of Catholic/Protestant apologetics it’s begging the question to start with this assumption.

    Concerning the example of the Arians you brought up, I’m not sure how this helps make your case. Yes indeed, the Arians rejected Nicea. It was then up to the non-Arians to make the case that the claims made at Nicea were in fact consistent with historic Christian teaching. And the non-Arians did just this using copious evidence from Scripture (see Athanasius’ evidence from Nicea in his ant-Arian discourses). And yes, Protestants and EO reject Trent as an ecumenical council. So here it seems to me it is up to the Roman Catholics to demonstrate that Trent’s teaching was in line with historic Christian teaching. I don’t how Catholic-Protestant dialogue can continue without such an analysis. The alternative is to assume that Trent was a truly ecumenical council apart from any evidence supporting this contention. I hope you are not suggesting such an alternative.

    But all of this is ancillary to the points I made which speaks directly to your original post. Firstly, there is no dogmatic teaching during the era of the ECF’s on the issues that the WCF (and other Reformed confessions) speak of with respect to the sacrifice that is celebrated at the Table. And then secondly, the Reformed creedal statements address the peculiarities of the Medieval understanding of the sacrifice of the mass, issues which are not part of the system described by the ECF’s.

    since schism is defined as heresy

    This is just not true. The Reformed do speak of schism distinct from heresy, but it’s not the kind of schism that is addressed by RCC dogma. The Reformed avoid what we see as errors with the Roman Catholic system that sees schism in purely formal terms. If you would like to talk about the Reformed understanding of “schisma,” to use the biblical Greek term from which the Reformed concept of schism arises, I would be happy to do so, but this is again not at the heart of the points you are raising in your original post.

    But it seems like you are allowing all sorts of comments which have strayed very far from your original post.

  32. Matteo,

    if I choose to love God and you choose to hate Him it is impossible that God loves us both the same. As saint Thomas writes

    “Since God’s love is the cause of goodness in things, no one thing would be better than another, if God did not will greater good for one than for another.” Further on in the same work St. Thomas likewise wrote: “He who is better prepared for grace, receives more grace. Yet it is not man who prepares himself for grace, except inasmuch as his free will is prepared by God. Hence the first cause of this diversity is to be sought on the part of God, who dispenses His gifts of grace variously.” Similarly St. Thomas says: “He who make a greater effort does so because of a greater grace; but to do so, he needs to be moved by a higher cause.” Otherwise the case might arise in which of two persons who are loved and helped to the same extent by God and who are placed in the same circumstances, one would correspond with the grace received and the other would not. Thus without having been loved and helped more by God, one would prove to be better than the other by doing something either easy or difficult to perform, whether this be the first or final act.

    2 follows 1 because God actually DOES the hardening. Therefore, it is a punishment that HE gave out. The sinner didn’t harden himself. So although God is the one who is responsible for the hardening (just like a parent is responsible for a childs sore backside) it is still ultimately a just punishment brought down upon the sinner by that sinners free choice to deny sufficient grace

  33. Robert, and that despite Article XXII: “The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.”

  34. Robert,

    If the tradition of the Church was so deeply corrupted from the beginning how do you distinguish between corruption and truth? How can you know what follows from good and necessary consequence when the very scriptures you are appealing to (and all the evidence that supports said scriptures authenticity) relies on said corrupt/corruptible tradition? That is where I really fell off a cliff as a protestant. Once you admit that there are numerous catholic corruptions from the earliest times (and I am not saying that you are admitting that) it won’t do to simply appeal to scripture…. Scripture came FROM that tradition. You hold in your hands a fallible collection of infallible books (whatever that means) and the COLLECTORS have a horrible history of corruption. That’s a faith breaker man. The whole religion is now thrown into serious doubt.

  35. The Eucharist was confirmed by Jesus when he said “this is my body” 🙂

  36. Kenneth,

    The fundamental issue is that I don’t believe that the NT comes from the same “stream of tradition” as what is later claimed to be oral apostolic tradition. That is something that has to be demonstrated, not just assumed.

    Their is plenty of evidence that the NT we have is made up of writings that all come from the first century and from the hands of the Apostles themselves. Once we get out of the first century, the best we have are sources that claim to have a tradition that either was given to them by the apostles directly or that they got from somebody else to whom the apostles spoke. If all it takes to verify it as an authentic tradition is a chain of witnesses, then you need to accept everything every church father believed who had such a claim. But then, Roman Catholics start talking about the “consensus” in order to get around the very real problem that it does not believe everything every church father wrote.

    God’s revelation birthed the church. The Apostles are its foundation. The very act of canonization means that the church views the canon as reliable and of prime importance in a way it does not regard anything else. God’s revelation=Scripture. The canon is not a huge problem. Christ’s sheep hear his voice. You really need to read Michael Kruger’s work on the subject.

  37. Susan,

    I understand how the Reformed read Romans. Problem is that is scripture is perspicuous we should all come to the same conclusions.

    Here again is where I scratch my head. The Reformed have never said that the perspicacity of Scripture means we all come to the same conclusions simply because we profess Christ. Perspicacity means that the basic gospel message is clear when you read the Bible like you read any other text. It doesn’t mean everything Scripture teaches is equally clear.

    The reason why people are so confused about Scripture is because people refuse to read it in its original context like they would read any other book. Instead, they read Paul’s statements that justification is by faith apart from works, and they say, “This is too easy. People will think it a license to sin. He must mean something different.”

    If Rome is the answer, then based on the criteria you have listed for perspicacity to be true, there would be a unity of belief within Romanism. And you don’t have that. Roman Catholicism is in utter collapse in this country. The numbers of people in religious orders is in vast decline. More than fifty percent of RCs support gay marriage. An even greater number are essential universalists and practice birth control with abandon. The Magisterium is not preventing collapse. It was its failure to prevent moral and ecclesiastical collapse that produced the Reformation.

    It sounds all good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice. Confessional Protestants may differ on how they explain the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but all will affirm sola Scriptura, sola fide, etc. Why does that disqualify Protestantism as an option anymore than the fact that Roman Catholics (in theory) all affirm that the Magisterium has the last word but differ on whether Mary died before she was assumed, how predestination works, etc.

    Your system does not solve the problems you think it does.

  38. Robert,

    you write

    “Their is plenty of evidence that the NT we have is made up of writings that all come from the first century and from the hands of the Apostles themselves”

    yes but that “evidence” IS tradition! In each and every case. Of course you can prove me wrong. Just tell me how you know that Matthew wrote Matthew.

    The Epistle of Barnabas is a book written between 70 and 130 AD. It is attributed to a companion of Pauls just as Luke or Mark. Why is this one not inspired? The Shepherd of Hermas is an early work too. Why is this one left out? Because the early Church says so that’s why! No way around it. Sure you can produce evidence that these books don’t fit in as well as the ones that were canonized…. But nearly ALL of this evidence will revolve around tradition in one way or the other. The cannon absolutely comes from the same stream of tradition that the mass does. The moment you admit that tradition is contaminated is the moment you have to face the fact that you can have no confidence in what books are in your bible…. Besides MAYBE the 4 gospels…

  39. Robert,

    “The Reformed have never said that the perspicacity of Scripture means we all come to the same conclusions simply because we profess Christ.”

    Yes, and this is why you allow for disagreement concering the Eucharist within the Reformed theology. You allow wiggel room because Christianity can’t possibly have cohesive doctrine except the 5 solas that is.

    “Perspicacity means that the basic gospel message is clear when you read the Bible like you read any other text. It doesn’t mean everything Scripture teaches is equally clear.”

    How do you know that the gospel is clear if something else is unclear unless you have some third way of knowing? To say that the basic message is clear, but thatit is exactly what the Reformed say it is, sounds like an empty assertion to me. I don’t have any way to be secure about your notion of “the gospel” if you don’t know all that is orthodox. But once again, according to you, you get the gospel and the Catholic Church doesn’t , so perspicuity fails.

    “The reason why people are so confused about Scripture is because people refuse to read it in its original context like they would read any other book. Instead, they read Paul’s statements that justification is by faith apart from works, and they say, “This is too easy. People will think it a license to sin. He must mean something different.”

    You have me scratching my head. The Catholic Church isn’t confused about scripture. Justification is by faith, but faith has to be living faith, and that means we actually have to do more than simply believe in God, but not less than believing in God.

    Here is something Benjamin Keil over at CTC said. I really hope it helps, but I won’t be wasting my time with you anymore unless you really want to understand.

    One of the big philosophical ruptures between Protestants and Catholics is the role of ecclesial authority. The two alternatives are the Church always deciding what constitutes orthodoxy (and using those standards to judge the individual), or the individual always deciding what constitutes orthodoxy (and using that standard to judge the Church). The problem for Confessional Reformed churches is that they want the middle ground (where sometimes the Church judges your orthodoxy while leaving open the possibility of your judging the Church’s orthodoxy). But this middle ground is untenable because it ultimately reduces to one of the above two options.

    Here’s why. Suppose we take a case (which has actually occurred) where the Church considers three positions (A,B, C) and decides that C is heretical – but leaves its members freedom to decide between positions A and B. This constitutes, I would think, an instance of the first alternative (where the Church always decides what constitutes orthodoxy) because the reason you’ve discarded C as a live option is because of the Church’s judgment – and having been given doctrinal leeway to decide between A and B, your choosing one (or the other) still reduces to allowing the Church to always judge your personal orthodoxy.

    Contrast that with the case where the Church considers three positions (A, B, C), decides that C is heretical, but you decide that the Church is wrong and adopt C anyways (because this is one of the times when the Church “got it wrong”). This entails, then, that you (the individual) have reserved for yourself the right to always judge the Church’s orthodoxy. This is the nub of the “If I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me”. And, of course, if there are any times when you wouldn’t submit because of your personal disagreement with the Church, you’re always the one in the doctrinal driver’s seat (and thus you fall into the second alternative: You decide what constitutes orthodoxy and use that standard to judge the Church).
    So anyway I don’t think the middle ground can be maintained in a principled way – you’re either always letting the Church decide what constitutes orthodoxy or always yourself deciding what constitutes orthodoxy and judging the Church. But if the Church decides what constitutes orthodoxy, and if the Church is protected from error when teaching with her full authority, then *poof* the whole Reformation just got delegitimized. (After all, Luther, Chemnitz, Melancthon, and all other Reformers began as Catholics who, instead of submitting to the Church’s judgment that their views were heretical, held onto their views and eventually got kicked out of the Church. But if the Church decides what constitutes orthodoxy, then Luther et al were wrong to not submit to the Church. So Lutheranism, wherever it contradicts Church teachings, is heretical. And those same moves will pull the rug out from under Calvin, Zwingli, and all the other branches of the Reformation as well.)

  40. Susan,

    How do you know the RC Church is the source of perspicacity without the third way of knowing. What tells you that Rome is the answer in a manner that Protestants cannot say of the Bible. I’m still waiting for somebody to answer that question.

    I mean this as respectfully as possible, but don’t tout your former Reformed credentials unless you are going to actually portray the Reformed position accurately. It is one thing to say you found Protestantism confusing. It’s another to talk about being friends with well-known Reformed authors, etc., etc., but then get basic Reformed doctrine just completely wrong.

  41. Kenneth,

    The Epistle of Barnabas is a book written between 70 and 130 AD. It is attributed to a companion of Pauls just as Luke or Mark. Why is this one not inspired? The Shepherd of Hermas is an early work too. Why is this one left out? Because the early Church says so that’s why! No way around it. Sure you can produce evidence that these books don’t fit in as well as the ones that were canonized…. But nearly ALL of this evidence will revolve around tradition in one way or the other. The cannon absolutely comes from the same stream of tradition that the mass does. The moment you admit that tradition is contaminated is the moment you have to face the fact that you can have no confidence in what books are in your bible…. Besides MAYBE the 4 gospels…

    I’m less familiar with the exact specifics of Barnabas, but I assume that it is rejected and not Mark or Luke because Mark and Luke are compendiums of apostolic preaching and research while Barnabas’ letter is not. Hermas is rejected because it has no apostolic credentials.

    I never said all tradition is contaminated. Who believes that? Certainly not the Reformers.

    If a book is in the canon simply because the church says that is where it belongs, then the church is the final infallible authority and you are left with sola ecclesia!

  42. Susan,

    You remain Roman Catholic only as long as what Rome says sounds plausible to you or you can make a case that Rome probably isn’t wrong even if you cannot see how. Same as every Protestant on the planet. Same as every person making every decision in any area of life.

    You are doing nothing different. You have nothing different now than you did as a Protestant except trust in an institution that must be right because, well, I guess because it says so.

  43. Robert,

    you didn’t say that all tradition was contaminated. I never said that you did! What I’m asking is how you can know what is and what is not contaminated? You’ll want to appeal to scripture but the canon is a part of the traditions in question. Again, as soon as you admit that the early church was fundamentally corrupted, your confidence in the canon is gone.

  44. Susan–

    You said:

    “Justification is by faith, but faith has to be living faith, and that means we actually have to do more than simply believe in God, but not less than believing in God.”

    Sola fide says exactly the same thing. We are not saved by intellectual assent alone, but by a vibrant trust in Christ.

    We divide living faith and its consequent works of obedience to make clear our motivation for those works is love and not personal gain. Does that somehow sound like a bad thing to you? We don’t require less holiness than the Catholics; we’re just more humble about it. It is all of grace, including our cooperation with that grace..

  45. Susan–

    Luther was kicked out of the church for contesting the right of the church to sell indulgences and church offices, offenses which are no longer offenses because the church saw the error of its ways. He also got kicked out for his view of justification, which the church decided in 1999 was alright after all.

    As far as I remember, his views on clerical celibacy and the papacy and the Eucharist came after he was already excommunicated. Let’s be honest, shall we? The church messed up…big time. Which is not something you need to deny. They didn’t discipline Luther according to some new “ex cathedra” pronouncement. They retain plausible deniability…of any official magisterial culpability (or fallibility).

    The church makes mistakes, like with the holocaust (for which JPII apologized). I think he also apologized for the Crusades. It’s about time that the church apologize for fomenting the Protestant Reformation.

  46. Kenneth–

    What’s your point concerning the canon? Pretty much everything that was accepted was accepted by overwhelming consensus: the Gospels, Acts, the Pauline epistles, all of the general epistles except perhaps 2 Peter. What’s that bring us to, 23? So we’re down to Hebrews, 2 Peter, Jude, and Revelation. Can you name a single tenet of doctrine which would fall without these four? Can you name a single one that would be changed if we added the Didache or the Shepherd of Hermas or 1 Clement?

    I didn’t think so….

  47. Eric,

    AS was also accepted by overwhelming majority. As was the sacrifice of the mass, infant baptism, an authoritative Church (not a quasi authoritative reformed church), denial of sola fide sola scriptura etc etc. These were all arguably LESS controversial than the canon. That’s the point. You don’t think it matters that Hebrews could not be inspired? Or any number of other books? You don’t think it matters that other books that you haven’t read or paid any attention to are left out? B.S.

  48. Dennis, you write:

    I think we can agree that He loves Jesus (with whom He was well pleased) and Mary more than others.

    Can we agree to that? If we speak about loving more, or loving less, we are speaking about potential, that is, God can potentially love me more, or God can potentially love me less. But that way of speaking can cause a lot of misunderstanding, because God is pure act, and in Him there is no potency.

    I, on the other hand, am a created being, and I am both act and potency. So if there is potency in regards to God’s infinite love, the potency is in me, not in God. That is, I can potentially receive more of God’s love, or less of God’s love, depending on the state of my union with God.

    Kenneth, you write:

    if I choose to love God and you choose to hate Him it is impossible that God loves us both the same. As saint Thomas writes …

    I don’t think that you are understanding my point, but that is understandable, since it is difficult for me to find the words I need to convey what I am thinking.

    In my thought experiment, if I choose to hate God, then I am rejecting God’s love for me. I don’t need grace to sin, that is something I can do apart from grace. But no human can choose to love God apart from grace. In my thought experiment, my lack of greatness is of my own doing, but your greatness would not be of your own doing – your greatness would come about because of your union with God, and God’s part of this union is the first cause of your greatness.

    I think the parable of the vine and branches speaks to the point that I am trying to make.

    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.
    John 15:1-6

    In my thought experiment, you would be like the branch that is attached to the vine, the branch that bears fruit, while I would be like the branch that is broken off from the vine. The broken off branch withers and dies, because that branch is receiving no life (love) from the vine. You, the branch that is attached to the vine, can grow into something that is greater and greater over time. But that growth is fundamentally due to the fact that the living branch is continually receiving life (love) from the vine.

    In a figurative sense, we can speak of God loving one creature more than another, but what we are really describing is the actualized potency that is in the creature’s nature, or the lack of actualized potency that is in the creature’s nature.

    Does God create some humans a with greater potency for love than others? I don’t know. How great a saint could I become? I don’t know. But I do know that if I don’t become a great saint, it is not because God didn’t love me enough, it will be because I didn’t love God enough.

  49. Robert, you write:

    First, I don’t know where you think that Calvinists believe most men have been damned.

    Where did I get this idea? From John Calvin, of course.

    “….Not all men are created with similar destiny but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestined either to life or to death.”
    .
    Institutes, Book III, chapter 23

    … if someone goes to hell, it is that person’s fault, not God’s.

    That is what Catholics believe too, but that is not something that John Calvin believed, as far as I can tell from the Institutes.

    … if God knows the future, then if a person ends up in hell, then God wants them in hell more than he wants something else …

    If God knows the future? God is omniscient, so of course God knows the future. But God desires no one to perish. If, as you say, it is the person’s fault if he is damned, then God’s omniscience is not the cause of the person being damned.

    Generally, for the non-Calvinist, it is to preserve some kind of libertarian free choice.

    I am a non-Calvinist, but I have no idea what you mean by “it is to preserve some kind of libertarian free choice.” Would you please clarify what you mean by “libertarian free choice” so that I can understand you?

    You haven’t solved the problem you think Calvinism has, and you’ve depersonalized God.

    What are you talking about? What problem haven’t I solved, and why do you say that I’ve “depersonalized God” ?

    He has a generic ooshy squishy love for all people that doesn’t really do anything for them.

    Is this something that I am supposed to believe? That God’s love doesn’t do anything for human beings? That is certainly not what I believe!

    The point that I have been trying to make is that human love is defective because it is mercenary. God’s is love – God is infinite – God is free from all defect. God loves even sinners that are full of hatred of God, because God is not mercenary. God loves without condition. God desires no one to perish.

    But at the end of the day, salvation is up to the individual making the “free” choice.

    If you are saying Pelaginism is a heresy, then I agree. But if you are saying that human beings lose their ability to make bad choices because God loves them, then you are saying something that is incomprehensible to me.

    Robert, are you capable of committing a sin?

  50. No, Kenneth….

    A doctrinally sound AS was accepted, plus a non-propitiatory “sacrifice” of the Mass (where the bread and wine were termed symbols or antitypes), a non-regenerative infant baptism (as in non-conversional), a conciliar rather than papal form of authority, as well as a basic acceptance of sola fide and sola scriptura.

    Hebrews only had issues because of its uncertain provenance. But it doesn’t take a doctorate in textual criticism to figure put it belongs.

    I HAVE read the deuterocanonicals and in no way ignore them. I’m not at all sure the Reformers should have ditched them. I also do not believe that their inclusion really changes anything….

    In the final analysis, we don’t need the Tridentine church to confirm the canon, which had a firm consensus long before then.

  51. Matteo,

    First, I just want to say that God loves the ENTIRE World (each and every single person) enough to die on the cross to redeem them! So each person is indeed loved a great deal! I didn’t want you to think that isn’t a point of agreement between us. I am arguing for Gods love being the cause for greatness in others. If that is true, God loves some more than others, for no creature could be better than another unless loved more by God.

    you write

    “if I choose to hate God, then I am rejecting God’s love for me. I don’t need grace to sin, that is something I can do apart from grace. But no human can choose to love God apart from grace. In my thought experiment, my lack of greatness is of my own doing, but your greatness would not be of your own doing – your greatness would come about because of your union with God, and God’s part of this union is the first cause of your greatness. ”

    I agree with everything you wrote here. Those who sin do so of their own accord by resisting grace. Those who do not resist and merit salvation do so by Gods grace. What we are examining is WHY I was able to cooperate. Is Gods love the cause of goodness in things or not? That’s the most important question.

    this next part is key. You write

    “In a figurative sense, we can speak of God loving one creature more than another, but what we are really describing is the actualized potency that is in the creature’s nature, or the lack of actualized potency that is in the creature’s nature.”

    what we are speaking of is Gods love being the mover of mans potency! Nothing moves from act to potency on its own right? It first needs to be moved by another. Gods love is that mover. His love is the cause of goodness in others. Therefore, if I actualize more potency it can only be because God loved me more. That’s why it is accurate to say that God loves Mary more than any other creature. Mary is who she is BECAUSE she is loved so much by God. Not because she somehow was able to actualize her own potency. Does that help?

  52. Eric,

    you keep on telling yourself the early Church believed that! Lol as I have pointed out you absolutely HAVE to have them believe those things or else your confidence in even the most basic Christian truths crumbles. I just want y’all to admit the ECFs are just as important to you as they are to us and drop the whole “oh I don’t really have an opinion! I don’t really care if they agree with the WCF or not” act. Of course you care. Of course you have an opinion. Of course it matters what they thought. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Now, of you want to maintain (without any evidence at all) that the ECFs believed in your new and innovative definitions of AS and baptism and sacrifice than fine! Argue that until your blue in the face. As long as we all understand that you MUST do so.

    Sure, Hebrews fits in once you ASSUME The other 26 books! But the only way you can do that is by relying on church tradition. A tradition that is obviously more catholic than protestant (and what I mean is that they aren’t protestant at all lol) which entails that tradition is more corrupt than not. A good protestant can’t be to careful of his reading! Don’t let yourself read up on the early church to much. You might just find yourself in volume 387 of surprised by truth

  53. Robert,

    “You remain Roman Catholic only as long as what Rome says sounds plausible to you or you can make a case that Rome probably isn’t wrong even if you cannot see how. Same as every Protestant on the planet.”

    I would have good cause to be a skeptic and just say that there is historical proof that a man named Jesus lived upon the earth two thousand years ago, but unless those who were eye witness of the His miracles passed on, not only their account of His words, His death,resurrection and ascention, but also tag-teamed the “gospel” down to the current day without a 1500 yr gospel dark days intervening, I don’t have any reason to trust that Christianity isn’t the invention of 1st century Jews, or if it’s true that it has been preserved from error.
    The divisions within Protestantism put me in the situation of believing that the scriptures must not be clearly intelligible to the masses since no one on earth knows mostly what they teach. The closest I got to understanding the scriptures better( or at least I hoped) was when I was Reformed, but when I started learning about the Federal Vision thing and liking it, but was told that it was off limits because it didn’t get the gospel right, I began to see how insular my little denomination was. In fact, I wanted to send my daughters to New St.Andrews in Moscow ID but was deterred because my denomination(URC) didn’t want Doug Wilson and his ilk to have her as a trophy!! That began to put doubt in my mind that there was a way to know what the pure gospel was. I knew some FV people and I read Leithart, and these people loved Jesus, and lived their love better than some URC people I knew, and I’m being told that their not even Christians? I realized that I was initially saved by God’s grace and my salvation didn’t seem to hinge on being able to articulate the doctrine of sola fide, and that doctrine wasn’t going to see me to the end either. It’s Jesus who will.

    I’m not denying that things have to sound plausible to me. I was Reformed however because I believed that it was more than plausible than broader evangelicalism… I believed that the gospel was truly lost and that Luther had rediscovered it. If I think that way then I can convince myself pretty well that his claim is the unadulterated truth. But when his successors are dividing over the clear gospel message, I wonder where the holy spirit went.
    As for the dogma differences in Catholicism; there aren’t any.

    Susan

  54. Mateo,

    I, on the other hand, am a created being, and I am both act and potency. So if there is potency in regards to God’s infinite love, the potency is in me, not in God. That is, I can potentially receive more of God’s love, or less of God’s love, depending on the state of my union with God.

    The ONLY reason you could receive more of God’s love is because of God. We can do nothing without the grace of God. God moves man by grace to come to salvation. God’s desire is all men come to salvation. Unfortunately, some are not moved by that grace.

    Cardinal George from Chicago affirms that God does not love all men equally:

    http://catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2011/0227/cardinal.aspx

    Again, this is also straight out of Romans 9:13-20:

    As it is written:

    “I loved Jacob

    but hated Esau.”

    What then are we to say? Is there injustice on the part of God? Of course not! For he says to Moses:

    “I will show mercy to whom I will,

    I will take pity on whom I will.”

    So it depends not upon a person’s will or exertion, but upon God, who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “This is why I have raised you up, to show my power through you that my name may be proclaimed throughout the earth.” Consequently, he has mercy upon whom he wills, and he hardens whom he wills.

    So, in conclusion, God’s love for all men is not equal. He has bestowed different men with different talents. Some have the capacity to love Him more…some have the capacity to become doctors in the Church. The more talent God has given, the more He expects. We have all been given the grace to move to salvation but others have the capacity to do great things while others are given the capacity to do small things for God. Regardless of your talents are how much God loves you, He is calling you to do what you can for God.

  55. Kenneth–

    When I look back on the ECF’s, all I see is the nascent modern Roman Catholic Church in all its glory:

    They’re Trinitarian. They share the same Christology. They’re loosely liturgical (well, very loosely, but still…). They’ve got administrative officials called bishops. There is a semi-important bishop in Rome. Their canons of Scripture are roughly similar.

    Then there are all those similar practices: sappy folk masses, pedophile priests, gay seminaries, a clueless laity, deep-pocketed political clout, fru-fru websites, rampant superstition, and biblical illiteracy.

    Or we could bring in the medieval church and match them against the ECF’s:

    They both used enhanced interrogation techniques, involved themselves in genocide and the slave trade, bought and sold church offices, hoodwinked the poor into financing their grandiose building projects, and burned countless witches.

    I can see the similarities straight off. I’m not sure how anyone could miss them!

    Look, Kenneth, if it helps you sleep at night believing that WE are the delusional ones, more power to you. Just chalk all the discrepancies up to “development of doctrine.” Just read all the ECF terminology as if you and they were employing the exact same catechism.

    No unadulterated transubstantiation in the Early Church?
    No problem. It “developed.”

    No penance? No purgatory? No treasury of merits? No Iconodules? No hyperdulia? No Assumption? No Immaculate Conception? No papacy (and certainly, no primacy)? No sacerdotal priesthood?
    No problem. They “developed.”

    The Church of Rome has a far, far worse historical footprint than the NT’s Synagogue of Satan….

    If it IS the church Christ founded, then my mother once dated the Dalai Lama, and I am their illegitimate child, expertly trained from an early age in at least a dozen martial arts, then set loose upon an unsuspecting world. No, no super powers, but an incredibly fancy cape and a durable if pedestrian 2004 Nissan Sentra…..

    😉

  56. Susan–

    There aren’t any dogmatic differences among Catholics by definition . Any difference outside the bounds is termed heresy. Any difference inside the catechismal parameters is tolerated as a pious option. Great, great differences within Catholicism, but none of them “dogmatic.” Big whoop….

    You need to face the fact that you were in a narrow little sectarian version of the Reformed Movement. The Idaho variety of FV has its problems, but they are genuinely Christian and genuinely Reformed. Doug Wilson is an incredibly articulate spokesperson whom we cannot afford to throw under the bus. Do they mess with the WCF? Yeah, they undoubtedly do. Should Leithart have been thrown out of the PCA? Probably so. Is he Reformed and worth listening to? Yes, indeed.

    Zrim is too dang insular for his own good. But he’s a good guy nonetheless. The Reformed Movement doesn’t sink or swim based on whether a few guys have their heads screwed on too tight….

  57. Dennis,

    I’m not sure that you’re right. God could be accused of injustice if He doesn’t love all equally. Different people have need for more grace because they don’t love enough, not because they aren’t loved enough.

    And I’ve heard that section about Esau and Jacob as speaking about line from which the Messiah would come. IOW’s, God’s mercy is through the line of Jacob,but this doesn’t mean that God didn’t love Esau.
    It certainly doesn’t mean that God predestined Esau to be damned, as the Calvinists believe. I would think that if God has degrees of love then He wouldn’t be what we mean by the word love. We couldn’t say that God IS love if what we meant by that is that love is part of his nature. God is constant, He doesn’t change.

    Romans says,however, that there is no partiality with God and we all will be judged by what we do.

  58. Eric,

    “The Idaho variety of FV has its problems, but they are genuinely Christian and genuinely Reformed”

    Says who? You? I like your broad and inclusive view,but you can’t sweep an elephant under the rug. Is there an argument on the books or not? I heard that this was seriously important stuff. The very heart of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. What are we all doing here, if according to you there isn’t anything to be arguing about in the first place. You keep calling us into the boardroom to discuss the gospel, but when we arrive ask us why we’re here. I’m getting whiplash! 🙂 So,I’m out. If you can’t even be reasonable, why chat? Shadowboxing’s no fun.

  59. Susan,

    God can not be accused of injustice because the reprobate really ands truly had sufficient grace to be saved and rejected it. Some, God loves more and thus saves efficaciously. These are the elect. You’re free to think otherwise of course. there are plenty of capable molinists and congruists in the world. I just prefer the company of Augustine and Aquinas 🙂

  60. Eric,

    Susan is right you know. I often wish that there were protestants from more diverse backgrounds on this site so you couldn’t get away with constantly dismissing all other denominations as protestant and then making this enormous umbrella of unity for everyone else. you enjoy a utopian protestant world of your own imagination (not unlike some neocatholics I know that constantly pretend everything is fine in the Church). You agree with JUST ENOUGH of the ECFs not to be labeled a loon and then “muddy the waters” as much as you can so that no one can really have any idea what the early church meant with their vocabulary. Then, when convenient, their teaching becomes crisp and clear once discussing the things you agree with. No controversy at all when it comes to the trinity or the canon or the hypostatic union. After that you take off your make believe utopian glasses, glance across the Tiber, and call our church a train wreck out of touch with history. Puh-lease

  61. Susan–

    So, can you even attempt to explain all of this “seriously important stuff”? How EXACTLY has FV gone off the reservation of confessional Protestantism? Do you even have the first clue, or did you blindly follow your mentors?

    No, they are not WCF first-in-their-hearts sort of people (at least not according to how it has been historically interpreted), but they are clearly confessional. I don’t mind Zrim dismissing them from his sector of the Reformed world, but he cannot speak for the rest of us. I have the exact same problem with FV as I do with the Old School folks. I actually lump them together….

    I have stated that confessional Protestantism teaches the gospel and that Rome does not. How is that overbroad (or in any way unusual)? How is it any different than what Robert has said? How have I been the slightest bit inconsistent with what I believe to be the gospel?

  62. Kenneth–

    Personally. I would welcome a whole herd of “Protestants” from every stripe and hue. Then you’d finally realize that we don’t lump ourselves together in any appreciable sense.

    Confessional Protestantism is actually a fairly small group. I don’t have a clue how many evangelical Anglicans and Lutherans there are, but the Reformed (before this latest surge that everyone has taken note of) were usually said to be about 1% of evangelicalism. Evangelicalism as a whole is approximately 25% of the U.S. population (roughly the same as the Catholic population). So, how am I employing this huge umbrella you speak of? Who would it be used to cover?

    I use the term Protestant for those who actually follow the magisterial Reformers. How is that utopian?

    Quit insulting my motives. I WILL sic Jason on you! I am NOT muddying any waters to say that we must tread carefully in ascertaining what the ECF’s meant by their terminology. That is not obfuscation!!

    How do you deal with the “train wreck” that is the historical Roman church? Sure, it has done ENORMOUS good throughout the world throughout time. But arguably it has done just as much that is bad. I know of no other church one could say that of. The Church of Rome has perpetrated enough wickedness in this old world to be considered one of the most evil institutions in all of history. (I realize that is overstated a bit. But I react emotionally to a good many things which have come out of Rome. How do you not?)

  63. Susan,

    God’s mercy is through the line of Jacob,but this doesn’t mean that God didn’t love Esau.

    OK. I’m not saying God didn’t love Esau. Scripture says God hated him. I’m saying that the translation should be that he was loved less.. Which is consistent with God is Love.

    God is love. I think we all can agree with that. Scripture tells us that there are some that He loves less. He still loves them but they are loved less. I’m okay that God loved Mary more than He loved me. I’m even okay if He loves Susan, Eric, Robert, and Mateo more than me(–maybe not Kenneth…lol. )

    I’m not okay with saying God doesn’t love someone enough that He doesn’t want them saved. That goes against Scripture as Scripture tells us God’s desire is for all men to be saved.

    I’ve given a reference of the Cardinal of Chicago. Here’s Jimmy Akin essentially saying the same thing about who God loves more:

    http://jimmyakin.com/2006/08/who_does_god_lo.html

  64. Dennis,

    what up with that dawg? I can’t get no love?

    http://i.qkme.me/3ra792.jpg

  65. Kenneth,

    Just havin’ some fun!!! If we can’t laugh sometimes, then we are taking this too seriously.

    Peace.

  66. Eric,

    I’m not questioning your motives in just stating what your argument tactics amount to/look like from my perspective. Stop being such a pansy that’s twice now you’ve gotten all butt hurt. 3 strikes and your a GIRL!

    Any church can be said to have “arguably” done the same amount of good as bad. “arguably” is a pretty low bar 😉

  67. Kenneth–

    Well, let’s just put it this way. I don’t believe you can come up with another church that is in the Church of Rome’s “league” when it comes to the depth of depravity displayed. Your closest rival would probably be the Church of England. And just to give a little perspective there, Bloody Mary killed as many Protestants in five years as Elizabeth did in 45. I think that type of ratio would probably hold up across many eras.

  68. Eric,

    Bloody Mary killed as many Protestants in five years as Elizabeth did in 45. I think that type of ratio would probably hold up across many eras.

    I didn’t realize Queen Mary was part of the Magisterium.

    Do you have better examples? That one doesn’t fly.

  69. Dennis–

    Give me a break. She was embraced by the Magisterium like a long, lost sister!

  70. Kenneth–

    You should be made aware. My acting “all butt hurt,” as you call it, is just a “tactic” on my part…to get you to act more nicely, don’t ya know. 😉

  71. The Church can not be held responsible for the acts of every bloody Mary that happens to carry the flag! C’mon you can do better than that. If you were gonna insist on doing it that way you would have to keep in mind the ratio of evil per number of believers. So the CC has billions and billions over 2000 years and your camp (depending on how you or zrim define it…. Protestants can never agree on much) only has a tiny puny insignificant number over a relatively small amount of time. That plays a factor. lol

  72. Susan,

    God could be accused of injustice if He doesn’t love all equally.

    Why? Are you unjust to love your children more than you love mine?

  73. Kenneth–

    And why can’t they be held responsible when they encouraged and supported her every step of the way?

    So, per capita ratios are your fallback position? Fine, demonstrate that Dr. Hart’s OPC (the Only Perfect Church, don’t ya know) is guilty of even a single instance of the type of evil perpetrated by the Church of Rome. Genocide? Slavery? Wars of conquest? Inquisitions? Torture? Crusades? Brainwashing? Witch burnings?

    Good luck! 🙂

  74. Dennis, you write:

    The ONLY reason you could receive more of God’s love is because of God. We can do nothing without the grace of God. God moves man by grace to come to salvation. God’s desire is all men come to salvation. Unfortunately, some are not moved by that grace.

    I agree with this.

    Cardinal George from Chicago affirms that God does not love all men equally …

    Cardinal George is certainly free to have that opinion. I don’t, however, believe that it is a dogma of the Catholic Church that God loves some men more than he loves other men.

    Kenneth, you write:

    First, I just want to say that God loves the ENTIRE World (each and every single person) enough to die on the cross to redeem them! So each person is indeed loved a great deal! I didn’t want you to think that isn’t a point of agreement between us.

    Thank you, Kenneth. I didn’t think that this was a point of disagreement between us.

    I am arguing for Gods love being the cause for greatness in others.

    This is also a point of agreement that we share. The first cause of the greatness of a saint is God himself. A saint is in union with God, and the saint loves with God’s own love, since the saint is partaking in the nature of God.

    If that is true, God loves some more than others, for no creature could be better than another unless loved more by God.

    Do you concede that human beings make real choices, even if these choices are only made possible by human beings cooperating with grace? I am arguing that the choices that humans make when they are in a state of grace allow them to grow in their capacity to love God with a love that is not mercenary.

    Here is why I have a problem with saying that God loves some of his children more than others – it makes God sound like an all too human father – and a bad father at that. I suppose that if you have never experienced the pain caused by a human father that loves his children unequally, then you might not understand why it would be extremely upsetting for certain people to hear that God the Father acts just like his own human father – a father that shows more love to the favorite child than to him (or her).

    Robert, you write:

    Are you unjust to love your children more than you love mine?

    Is your love for your children mercenary? If your love was like God’s love, then you would willingly sacrifice one of your own children if you thought it would save a neighbor’s child – a wicked and rebellious child that might hate both you and the God that you worship. Could you do that, Robert?

    “You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    Matthew 5:43-48

    Susan, you write,

    I would think that if God has degrees of love then He wouldn’t be what we mean by the word love.

    Right. To what degree does God love me? I think that Jesus answers that question:

    As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you …

    It take this to mean that Jesus love me with the same intensity as God the Father loves his only begotten Son. Now if I am the least in the kingdom of God, how can the greatest in the Kingdom of God be loved with a love that is greater than the love that God the Father has for his only begotten Son?

  75. Mateo,

    Cardinal George is certainly free to have that opinion. I don’t, however, believe that it is a dogma of the Catholic Church that God loves some men more than he loves other men.

    I don’t think this has ever been elevated to dogma. It is in Scripture though which is where the Cardinal (and I…and Jimmy Akin) are drawing it from.

    Peace.

  76. You need to face the fact that you were in a narrow little sectarian version of the Reformed Movement. The Idaho variety of FV has its problems, but they are genuinely Christian and genuinely Reformed. Doug Wilson is an incredibly articulate spokesperson whom we cannot afford to throw under the bus. Do they mess with the WCF? Yeah, they undoubtedly do. Should Leithart have been thrown out of the PCA? Probably so. Is he Reformed and worth listening to? Yes, indeed.

    Zrim is too dang insular for his own good. But he’s a good guy nonetheless. The Reformed Movement doesn’t sink or swim based on whether a few guys have their heads screwed on too tight….

    Eric, some of us so-called insularists think that whatever else could be said about it, JJS did the right thing by coming clean on his confessional views and taking the proverbial swim instead of continuing to knock around the P&R world and shoe-horning his quasi-Catholic views into Reformed parameters (though if he thinks he can maintain his 2k over there maybe he still has a thing for shoehorns—but good riddance on those bow ties, which aren’t Reformed).

    And so some of us wonder why so much latitude is afforded the FVers who want to shoehorn and so much vitriol for those who have the chutzpah to go the whole nine yards. In other words, why so much tolerance for those who claim Reformed but are clearly so very bad at it, but so much intolerance for those who deny the Reformed faith because they’ve embraced Romanism (and paid some hefty personal prices for doing so to boot)? Maybe it’s this head of mine being so tightly screwed on, but I’d rather those who may have made and maintain some seriously damnable errors but act with a good deal of integrity than those who, as you say, mess with the standards and act as if they don’t.

    ps: “Should Leithart have been thrown out of the PCA? Probably so. Is he Reformed and worth listening to? Yes, indeed.” Huh? Why should someone who is Reformed and also worth listening to be thrown out of the PCA? Talk about a head being screwed on too tight…

  77. Robert,

    Why? Are you unjust to love your children more than you love mine?

    Nice try on that one.

    We are ALL God’s children. We are all made in the image and likeness of God and we are all loved by God accordingly.

    God loves us like He loves The Prodigal Son and his brother. Both were shown different kinds of love by the father. Both were treated with compassion and both were loved but one was given a feast after squandering his inheritance while one worked hard and was the dutiful servant to his father.

  78. Mateo,

    Is your love for your children mercenary? If your love was like God’s love, then you would willingly sacrifice one of your own children if you thought it would save a neighbor’s child – a wicked and rebellious child that might hate both you and the God that you worship. Could you do that, Robert?

    Well, I’m really not sure what you mean when you ask if my love for my children is mercenary.

    I will say this in response to some of some other things I’ve seen you and other RCs write:

    1. All human beings are not God’s children. That is a modern notion influenced by liberal theology. It’s certainly not taught in Scripture. The closest Scripture comes to saying anything like that is that we are all God’s offspring in Acts 17. John 1 says that only those who believe in Christ have the right to become children of God, which if we must become means that we are not that by nature. In fact, all human beings apart from grace are children of the devil.

    2. Human beings have degrees of love, and that is a praiseworthy thing. If I had the same degree of love for my for another woman as I had for my wife, I would be guilty of adultery. God has a special love for his children and His bride that he does not have for those who are not His children or His bride. I don’t know how to say it other than to say that God loves Christians more than He loves Muslims, Hindus, or anyone else. It’s not because Christians are better. It is because God chose in eternity past to set his love on certain human beings and because of that, they become believers. That love is based on nothing in those upon whom God sets it but only on his own good pleasure. It is because God loves me that I am a Christian. I love because he loved me first. Those who die without professing Christ were never loved unto salvation. Go read Romans 9.

    3. I am fallen, and I don’t know that I could sacrifice my child to save another. But in any case, you have it backwards. When God hands over Christ to be sacrificed, He does not do it for those who might reject Him. Christ died to save only His children. In other words, there is a sense in which Christ did not die for the person who remains in unbelief. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. He does not lay down His life for the wolves. If Christ died for the sins of all people in the same way for everyone, everyone would be in heaven.

  79. Zrim–

    Sorry if I gave the wrong impresssion. I thank God for those who tenaciously stick to the jot and the tittle of the WCF. I believe “semper reformanda” only works if there are those out there pushing the envelope, as well as those stubbornly pushing back.

    I know you were talking about Jason and not FV, but they have been accused of quasi-Catholicism, as well. There may be some super technical ways in which the accusation is true, but they will deny it vehemently. Nor will they give much credence to the notion that they are unduly influenced by NPP.

    I believe that much of the strict Presbyterian pushback on Idaho has not been sufficiently nuanced. It is meant to warn the vulnerable rather than to be eminently fair to Wilson and Leithart. (If you don’t wish to call them properly Reformed, I’m fine with that. Tell me what you would wish to call the category of folks who do adhere to Augustine’s Doctrines of Grace without necessarily toeing the line on other Reformed distinctives.)

    Also, are you inflexibly adverse to discovering that some of the differences between you and them (or between you and the Catholics, for that matter) are merely semantic…or point of attack…or the like?

  80. Robert,

    . All human beings are not God’s children. That is a modern notion influenced by liberal theology. It’s certainly not taught in Scripture. The closest Scripture comes to saying anything like that is that we are all God’s offspring in Acts 17. John 1 says that only those who believe in Christ have the right to become children of God, which if we must become means that we are not that by nature. In fact, all human beings apart from grace are children of the devil.

    No, that is not correct. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. What you are talking about is being God’s adopted children which occurs in Baptism when we are reborn. But Catholic theology tells us we are all children of God. Scripture tells us that God’s creation is all good. We are all part of God’s creation and God cannot create anything evil. God’s creation of Man made His work “very good” per Genesis 1:31.

    We become children of Satan when we are disobedient and we sin. In sin, we turn away from God and yet God still comes to us. God is still calling us to return and be in relationship with Him. We become children of Satan when our minds are darkened to God’s love and our hearts are hardened to His loving grace.

    Reformed theology is gravely in error by teaching that God’s creation is a “child of Satan.” It’s anti-scriptural.

    Here are Pope Benedict’s thoughts taken from his 1/8/12 Angelus prayer:

    Also before God we are all children. God is at the root of every created being’s life and is the Father of every human person in a special way: he has a unique and personal relationship with every human being. Each one of us is wanted and loved by God. And also in this relationship with God, we can be “reborn”, so to speak, in other words become what we are. This happens through faith, through a profound and personal “yes” to God as the origin and foundation of our existence. With this “yes” I receive life as a gift of the Father who is in Heaven, a Parent whom I do not see but in whom I believe and whom, in the depths of my heart, I feel is my Father and the Father of all my brethren in humanity, an immensely good and faithful Father.

    On what is this faith in God the Father based? It is based on Jesus Christ: he himself and his history reveal the Father to us, enable us to know him as much is possible in this world. Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, makes it possible to be “born from above”, that is, from God, who is Love (cf. Jn 3:3).

  81. “And so some of us wonder why so much latitude is afforded the FVers who want to shoehorn and so much vitriol for those who have the chutzpah to go the whole nine yards. In other words, why so much tolerance for those who claim Reformed but are clearly so very bad at it, but so much intolerance for those who deny the Reformed faith because they’ve embraced Romanism (and paid some hefty personal prices for doing so to boot)? Maybe it’s this head of mine being so tightly screwed on, but I’d rather those who may have made and maintain some seriously damnable errors but act with a good deal of integrity than those who, as you say, mess with the standards and act as if they don’t.”

    Whooooot! Yes!

  82. Eric,

    “Genocide? Slavery? Wars of conquest? Inquisitions? Torture? Crusades? Brainwashing? Witch burnings?”

    LOL! That list is loony. Were not going down that road. Most protestant denominations are so irrelevant and miniscule that its impossible to compare tit for tat what evils various people have committed in the name of religion. You may as well join Sam Harris and Dawkins in blaming all the evils of the world on various religious ideals. Its a more consistent angle to take than blaming other religions and claiming your own as unblemished.

  83. Eric,

    Give me a break. She was embraced by the Magisterium like a long, lost sister!

    No, Queen Mary is not part of the Magisterium. She was Catholic and she persecuted Protestants. You cannot take her sins and blame “the Church.”

    From that logic, I can blame US Slavery on Protestantism. Please.

  84. Dennis,

    You are veering quite close to Pelagianism, my friend. We are born into this world tainted thoroughly by sin. God did create us originally very good, but now we are fallen. The image of God is still in us, but it is marred.

    Where do the Apostles teach that we are all children of God by nature? Paul calls all people outside of Christ “by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” in Eph. 2:3.

    The personal relationship God has to all people outside of Christ is not a positive personal relationship. If it is, we do not need a Savior.

  85. Very relevant quote. Eric and Robert should get on with reading a whole lot of Scott Hahn! Their world would be bigger, brighter and more Catholic!

    “If the Eucharist that Jesus instituted was just a meal, then Calvary was just a Roman execution. But if Jesus instituted the Eucharist to be the Passover of the New Covenant, then it had to involve both sacrifice and communion, as did the Old Covenant Passover.”
    Scott Hahn– Consuming the Word: The Eucharist and the New Testament in the Early Church, p. 144.

  86. Eric, I’ve always found the term “evangelical” more or less fitting for those non-Catholic Christians who like parts of Protestantism but not necessarily all the distinctives. And, no, I’m not inflexibly adverse to discovering that some of the differences are merely semantic, but I’m also not convinced that this fully explains them.

    But my point to you is that Reformed Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are at their hearts different religions and trying to straddle them is a fool’s errand. This is what I see in something like the FV. I understand you find that lacking in nuance, but I also think as fine as it is, nuance can be over-rated. People who swim the Tiber get this, whatever their other problems may be.

  87. Matteo,

    Yes I would affirm that humans make real choices. What I deny is that one creature can have something within him that is greater than another unless he is loved more by God. If you agree that Gods love is the cause of goodness in things I don’t understand how you will deny this?
    It seems that you have an emotional rejection of the doctrine of predilection rather than an intellectual one. God as father is an ANALOGY. It is very useful but not the only analogous way that God is revealed to us. Calvinists are often guilty of viewing God ONLY as our Potter. They pray “our Potter, who art in heaven”. They have elevated the analogy of God as Potter above that of any other analogy. There is no balance. I think that you have done the same. God is our heavenly father but that is not ALL that He is. He is also our master, potter, redeemer, judge, etc. Balance is the key. Our creator and master is not under any obligation to love everyone equally. We are analogous to being Gods children but we are ALSO analogous to being slaves. Keeping both in mind is crucial when examining the divine mystery of predestination

  88. Kenneth and Dennis–

    I have absolutely no problem with blaming the leadership of Southern Presbyterianism for their wretched advocacy of racist, chattel slavery in the South, disgustingly employing Scripture twisting to do so. No problem whatsoever. I make no excuses for them. Plain and simple, they messed up! Quite frankly, I spit on them for what they did.

    Roman Catholic officials at the highest levels through many eras have espoused, supported, and participated in some of the great evils I listed. If you two don’t wish to blame them, YOU’RE loony!!

    (By the by, Catholics weren’t exactly innocent in terms of the slave trade here in the U.S. Nor were they particularly active in the Abolition Movement….)

  89. Zrim–

    Unfortunately, the “evangelical” label has just about outlived its usefulness. I have a really hard time continuing to wear it, as do many others (Carl Trueman, for example). All of my allegiances are with groups that term themselves Reformed. Unlike you, I don’t believe my points of contention with the confessions are essential ones. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that.

    As for modern Roman Catholicism being a totally different religion (or at least having a totally different gospel), I can agree on that. As for straddling the two, if one straddles two boats in order to help bring those in immanent danger of drowning in the one boat into the safety of the other boat, I cannot see why that would not be commendable.

    Also, if we confessional Protestants say we adhere to the first four ecumenical councils, don’t we have to deal with the apparent Catholicism within them? The Reformers thought of them as substantially orthodox. Shouldn’t we do likewise?

  90. Kenneth,

    God as father is an ANALOGY.

    I agree with EVERYTHING you said except for this. Just wanted to mention that God as father is not an analogy. God is Father to the Son. God begets the Son and is Father to Him and the Holy Spirit.

    As we are one in Christ, we are adopted sons and daughters of God the Father so we can call Him “Our Father” through Jesus Christ.

    I’m sure you knew this but just wanted to clarify in case somebody got the wrong idea.

  91. Eric,

    OK of you want to play it that way then you also have to account for all the good the Church has done in relation to other denominations. Enjoy hospitals? Your welcome. Universities? Your welcome. The scientific method? Came from a catholic! Who educates the mist children, feeds the most hungry, cares for the most sick, houses the most poor, etc etc. You guessed it! Mother Church. What has your denomination given to the world? That can compare?

  92. Robert,

    You are veering quite close to Pelagianism, my friend. We are born into this world tainted thoroughly by sin. God did create us originally very good, but now we are fallen. The image of God is still in us, but it is marred.

    No, This is Catholic teaching and is not Pelagianism. Pelagianism is a heresy.

    Man cannot be saved by himself. Man needs a redemptor to be saved and that person is Jesus Christ.

    All men—both saved and unsaved have been given certain talents and gifts by God. They have been bestowed by their Creator charisms which are attributable directly to God. A man who has not turned to Christ can still experience love and that love comes only from God. A man who is not “saved” can still find happiness and that happiness is from God.

    So, all men who have been loved and have experienced happiness have been called by God. God is reaching out to them to acknowledge He who created them so that they may be saved through faith in Christ Jesus.

    Man is created by God. All things created by God are good. Mankind has been tainted by sin but we are still creatures of God. God never abandons mankind even after the fall. God is still with Adam, still with Cain and Abel, still with Noah, still with Moses on down through the line to Christ. God never abandons man. At God’s urging, God calls man to be in relationship with Him. Man responds to that call through Jesus Christ in faith.

    Vatican 2 states:

    13. Although he was made by God in a state of holiness, from the very onset of his history man abused his liberty, at the urging of the Evil One. Man set himself against God and sought to attain his goal apart from God. Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, but their senseless minds were darkened and they served the creature rather than the Creator.(3) What divine revelation makes known to us agrees with experience. Examining his heart, man finds that he has inclinations toward evil too, and is engulfed by manifold ills which cannot come from his good Creator. Often refusing to acknowledge God as his beginning, man has disrupted also his proper relationship to his own ultimate goal as well as his whole relationship toward himself and others and all created things.
    Therefore man is split within himself. As a result, all of human life, whether individual or collective, shows itself to be a dramatic struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness. Indeed, man finds that by himself he is incapable of battling the assaults of evil successfully, so that everyone feels as though he is bound by chains. But the Lord Himself came to free and strengthen man, renewing him inwardly and casting out that “prince of this world” (John 12:31) who held him in the bondage of sin.(4) For sin has diminished man, blocking his path to fulfillment.
    The call to grandeur and the depths of misery, both of which are a part of human experience, find their ultimate and simultaneous explanation in the light of this revelation. (GS 13)

    Where do the Apostles teach that we are all children of God by nature? Paul calls all people outside of Christ “by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” in Eph. 2:3.

    “Children of God” was my expression (and Pope Benedict’s.) The Apostles teach that man is given a soul. Jesus teaches the beatitudes and those are for all men to hear. We all need to be meek and humble. We all need to be poor in spirit. God is calling all men to turn to Him.

    Vatican 2 teaches that all humankind demands a certain dignity because we are all created in the image of God. To destroy a life is to destroy something created in God’s goodness. If we start saying that certain men are “children of Satan” then that person can potentially lose his dignity and becomes less of a person.

  93. Eric,

    Roman Catholic officials at the highest levels through many eras have espoused, supported, and participated in some of the great evils I listed. If you two don’t wish to blame them, YOU’RE loony!!

    I can agree that there have been Catholics–even bishops and perhaps popes who have espoused violence. I can even believe there may be bishops and popes who may not have made it into heaven as they were held accountable to God.

    That’s still not the Church. Church teaching does not condone violence. It does not condone that we treat humans without dignity. The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ and as such is without blemish. The people inside it can be as guilty as Judas and may need to repent–like Peter.

  94. Eric, by straddling I mean syncretism, as in mixing Protestantism with Catholicism. The FV strikes me as similar to that strange brew called Calminianism (or 3-point Calvinism, etc.). Both seem to be functions of modernity that mixes and matches things that are intrinsically coherent and opposed to one another. I don’t see what’s commendable in that.

    I think Reformed Protestants should do what they’ve always done—examine the doctrine in the historical record and determine its biblical veracity, regardless of whether it seems Catholic or not. And once it’s determined to be biblical and embodied confessionally to adhere stridently. This is actually what it means to be Reformed and always reforming. It means 1) to determine what is biblical and 2) bring whatever is diverging from it back into accord. It doesn’t mean to always be returning to what was determined biblical and second guess ourselves, which I how I think many who invoke that slogan tend to think about it, usually indicated by leaving off the “to be Reformed” part and emphasizing the “always reforming part.”

  95. Dennis,

    God as father IS an analogy. It is not literal. Otherwise you would have to ascribe to God a gender (male) and all kinds of other things. I wrote a post on this thread to Matteo describing Thomistic doctrine of analogy. Check it out and get back to me.

  96. Kenneth,

    Thanks for the lesson. Yes, I see your point. It truly is analogous. We see God as Father as He is the giver and we are the receiver but He is not male or female.

  97. Kenneth,

    I thought you might see that! It doesn’t fit in with Aquinas doctrine of analogy because we wouldn’t want to suggest that the father, son, and holy spirit are all analogies that describe the same person. (like power, knowledge, goodness etc are analogies that describe the attributes of God) However, I still think that while there are some literal ways to look at Christs human nature as son I don’t think it is literal when describing Him from all eternity. If you focus to much on Christ as son you lose the sense of Christ as Logos. You might even slip into some heretical Arian or JW thought. In the same way, when God is looked at SOLELY As Father you cab lose the sense of master, creator, sovereign lord, etc.

  98. ^^^^^ addressed to Dennis ^^^^^^

  99. Zrim–

    I definitely do NOT emphasize the “always reforming” part of the slogan. I would die on my shield for 95% of the content of the Reformed confessions. And I don’t believe they got the rest “wrong.” They just raised to the level of dogma things that are properly indifferent.

    I may be wrong about the (Idaho version of the) FV, but I’ve looked into it fairly extensively and thus far, I find the charge of syncretism unwarranted. What specifically in their doctrine do you find amiss? Are you positive you have not misjudged them?

    Calminianism is usually associated with dispensational Baptists, who are 4-point “Calvinists.” But no one who adheres to fewer than all five points can escape the charge of de facto Arminianism (which I believe “crossed the gap” from Catholicism into Protestantism). As I have mentioned before, Thomists are usually analyzed as 4-point (leaving off the “P” in TULIP due to their rejection of Assurance).

  100. Kenneth (and Dennis)–

    It’s no “game” for me. And I don’t need to compete. Though there are plenty of hospitals and universities founded by Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians, that is not the point. (And the “scientific method,” while quite the collaborative effort, is usually attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, an Anglican.)

    What sticks in my craw is that violence and tyranny have historically overwhelmed the hierarchy of Rome for generations on end, effectively nullifying any claim to infallibility which could be attempted logically. If you want to argue for the Catholic “ideal,” then I will hear you out. That’s what Protestants do. The Southern Presvyterians who advocated chattel slavery were wrong, wrong, wrong, and dead wrong…and did not properly represent true Presbyterianism. We can say things like that. You simply cannot…until and unless you ditch infallibility.

  101. Eric,

    your convo with ZRIM is PERFECTLY illustrating why so many of us ran from Protestantism and haven’t looked back. You write

    “They just raised to the level of dogma things that are properly indifferent. ”

    “What specifically in their doctrine do you find amiss? Are you positive you have not misjudged them?”

    who decides that? You? Them? How can we know what is dogma and what isn’t? In principle, you have absolutely no way of discerning this as a protestant. Thank you for illustrating the point y’all have been denying for all to see.

    “Thomists are usually analyzed as 4-point (leaving off the “P” in TULIP due to their rejection of Assurance).”

    Thomists do not leave off the P. Everyone predestined to final perseverance will infallibly effacaciously persevere. Only God knows who these people are so from our perspective we do our best not to fall away.

  102. Eric,

    The Southern Presvyterians who advocated chattel slavery were wrong, wrong, wrong, and dead wrong…and did not properly represent true Presbyterianism. We can say things like that. You simply cannot…until and unless you ditch infallibility.

    I already conceded that there were bishops and popes who have done terrible things. That does NOT negate infallibility. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    The bishops along with the pope are still protectors of Christ’s message and when they speak in unison, they speak infallibly. The Holy Spirit protects them from error. It doesn’t matter if they are sinful men…which they are.

  103. Yes, Kenneth, unlike you, who must look to others to think for him, I am perfectly capable of making up my own mind where the strongest evidence leads.

    You must be off your ever-living rocker if you imagine I am ever going to apologize for that…or if you think I am ever going to take up your cowardly way of doing things.

    In no uncertain terms, I do not agree that it is noble to let others decide these things for you. Use your God-given mind and quit capitulating to the will of others. You freakin’ door mat!!!

  104. Kenneth–

    Perseverance looks altogether different if you leave off assurance. So, yes, you believe in perseverance, but you do not believe in the Reformed doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints.

  105. Dennis–

    Who exactly is protected from error during those points in time when seemingly the whole church is lost in perversion and evil? Some solitary priest living in a cave on the rocky coast of Croatia? When whole generations of the hierarchy have gone off the deep end, teaching and exhibiting immoral behaviors, what exactly is protected? Canon law? The catechism? A faithful few holding out for better times?

    In the final analysis, you have nothing better to offer than we do: an ideal, a creed, a confession, a deposit if faith…something that will stand the test of time though all around it fail.

  106. Kenneth, you write to Dennis:

    I thought you might see that! It doesn’t fit in with Aquinas doctrine of analogy because we wouldn’t want to suggest that the father, son, and holy spirit are all analogies that describe the same person. (like power, knowledge, goodness etc are analogies that describe the attributes of God)

    I agree that when we speak about God as Father we are speaking in an analogous manner. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms this:

    370 In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.

    Sometimes the scriptures speak of God in an analogous manner, such as speaking of God as Father. But when the Apostle John says, “God is love”, John is not a statement making a statement of analogy.

    Perhaps the problem that I am having expressing myself is that in English we only have the word “love”, whereas in Greek there are four different words that get translated into English as “love” – agape, philea, storge, eros

    C. S. Lewis wrote about agape, philea, storge, eros in his book The Four Kinds of Love:

    Taking his start from St. John’s words “God is Love”, Lewis initially thought to contrast “Need-love” (such as the love of a child for its mother) and “Gift-love” (epitomized by God’s love for humanity), to the disparagement of the former. However he swiftly happened on the insight that the natures of even these basic categorizations of love are more complicated than they at first seemed: a child’s need for parental comfort is a necessity, not a selfish indulgence, while conversely parental Gift-love in excessive form can be a perversion of its own. …
    .
    Agape – unconditional love
    Charity (agap?, ?????) is the love that brings forth caring regardless of the circumstance. Lewis recognizes this as the greatest of loves, and sees it as a specifically Christian virtue. The chapter on the subject focuses on the need of subordinating the natural loves – as Lewis puts it, “The natural loves are not self-sufficient” – to the love of God, who is full of charitable love, to prevent what he termed their ‘demonic’ self-aggrandisement.
    .
    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Loves

    “while conversely parental Gift-love in excessive form can be a perversion of its own”

    and

    “ The chapter on the subject focuses on the need of subordinating the natural loves … to the love of God, who is full of charitable love, to prevent what he termed their ‘demonic’ self-aggrandisement”

    – these words express the idea that human love can be mercenary.

    Keeping in mind that human love can be mercenary, if I make the statement “God is love”, and by love, I mean human love, then I would be making an analogous statement, and in that statement, I would have to note that one must be careful, because the love that one receives from God is free from the defect of being mercenary.

    But if I say “God is love”, and I mean for you to understand “love” as agape, then I am speaking about unconditional love, and I am saying that God is unconditional love. Which is why I said earlier that it is one thing to say God is loving, and quite another thing to say God is love.

    Kenneth, you write:

    power, knowledge, goodness etc are analogies that describe the attributes of God

    For human beings, power, knowledge, goodness, are all things that are something other than the essence of a human being. So it is possible to speak power, knowledge and goodness as it relates to God in an analogous manner.

    I can also speak about the essence of God as directly as possible, and if I am speaking about the essence of God, I could say that God is what he knows, God is power, only God is good, and God is agape. In these statements, I am not making statements of analogy.

  107. Kenneth, you write:

    Our creator and master is not under any obligation to love everyone equally.

    God is not under any obligation to anything, less yet a human being! But it seems to me that you are making the assertion that God is loving (as an analogy to human love), and missing the entire point that I have been trying to make about the meaning of the phrase “God is love”.

    It seems that you have an emotional rejection of the doctrine of predilection rather than an intellectual one.

    I am not sure what you mean by the “doctrine of predilection”, so I can’t speak to whether or not I have an emotional or intellectual disagreement with this doctrine. But as you know by now, I don’t think much of Domigo Banez’s theology of grace, and would recommend to you the writings of Fr. William G. Most and his analysis of what is wrong with both “Thomism” and “Molinism”.

    That said, I understand that you can claim to be a “Thomist” without being charged as man holding to a heretical view point. I would hope that you can see that my “Mostian” views are also legitimate for me to hold as a practicing Catholic. We both cannot be right, but we could also both be wrong.

  108. Dennis, you write:

    God loves us like He loves The Prodigal Son and his brother. Both were shown different kinds of love by the father.</blockquote.
    Brother, I have to disagree with you here. The father had the same love for both sons.

  109. am i miaking a floaty white box?

  110. OHHHH SNAP SON!!!!!!! IM AWESOME!!!! IM AWESOME!!

  111. Matteo,

    Sorry, i have been trying to figure those things out for a while now…. anyways…. you write

    Perhaps the problem that I am having expressing myself is that in English we only have the word “love”, whereas in Greek there are four different words that get translated into English as “love” – agape, philea, storge, eros ”

    My parish preist recently did a talk on the different greek words for “love”. I enjoyed the quotes and article that you provided as well. There is a certain kind of divine love (agape) that comes from above that no one can earn or merit. We can also posses and share that love if we cooperate with Gods grace (similair to faith and meritorious spirit wrought works). Agape love is indeed a love that one can not earn nor lose. I believe that God has this love for all of his children (every person on earth). However, that does not entail that He loves all of them equally. It only entails that He loves everyone with a divine love that they did not merit. A love that begins with “them” rather than a love that begins with “God”. Unselfish, divine, perfect love. But not equal for all.

    For human beings, power, knowledge, goodness, are all things that are something other than the essence of a human being. So it is possible to speak power, knowledge and goodness as it relates to God in an analogous manner.

    I can also speak about the essence of God as directly as possible, and if I am speaking about the essence of God, I could say that God is what he knows, God is power, only God is good, and God is agape. In these statements, I am not making statements of analogy.

    I have to vigorously disagree with you here. Without appealing to the Thomistic doctrine of analogy divine simplicity is rendered incoherent. How can God be simple (composed of no parts) and yet BE love and BE power and BE knowledge without appeal to analogy? It is impossible. You can not simply say “those are words that describe His essence” to get out of it either. Because divine simplicity demands the Gods nature and essence be simple and thus all of His attributes be identical. The problem you must explain is how you can claim that God IS love and that God has omipotence, power, etc. and yet maintain the mandatory catholic doctrine of divine simplicity? It is impossible. Ed Feser explains

    Thomistic doctrine of analogy tells us that when we correctly predicate some attribute of God, we are using the relevant terms, not in a univocal way, but in an analogous way. That is to say, when we say for example that God has power, we don’t mean that He has power in exactly the sense we do, though we also don’t mean that His power is completely unlike what we call power in us. Rather, when we call God powerful we are saying that there is in God something analogous to power in us…..

    When we bring the concept of analogy to bear on the doctrine of divine simplicity, we can see what is wrong the assertion that the doctrine is unintelligible. For this assertion has whatever plausibility it has, I would suggest, only if we think of God as having an essence, as existing, and as having power, knowledge, etc. in the same or univocal sense in which we and other creatures have these things. For what we call power in us is clearly different from what we call knowledge in us; our essences are different from our “acts of existing” (to use the Thomistic jargon); and so forth. So to say that knowledge (in that sense) is identical to power (in that sense), etc. does seem unintelligible. But that is simply the wrong way to understand the doctrine of divine simplicity. Properly understood, the doctrine does not say that power, knowledge, goodness, essence, existence, etc., as they exist in us, are identical. Rather, it says that there is in God something that is analogous to power, something analogous to knowledge, something analogous to goodness, etc., and that these “somethings” all turn out to be one and the same thing. “Power,” “knowledge,” “goodness,” etc. are merely different, analogously used descriptions we use in order to refer to what is in God one and the same reality, just as (to borrow Frege’s famous example) the expressions “the morning star” and “the evening star” differ in sense while referring to one and the same thing (the planet Venus).

    If you have some alternative method of explaining how God can BE love and yet also posses knowledge power goodness etc. while still maintaining divine simplicity I would love to hear it…. but I have never heard of any other defense. The doctrine of analogy is the only show in town. Gods love IS His power which IS His goodness which IS His knowledge…. if you are using these terms in a univocal sense…. the doctrine of simplicity is doomed.

  112. Matteo,

    I am not sure what you mean by the “doctrine of predilection”, so I can’t speak to whether or not I have an emotional or intellectual disagreement with this doctrine. But as you know by now, I don’t think much of Domigo Banez’s theology of grace, and would recommend to you the writings of Fr. William G. Most and his analysis of what is wrong with both “Thomism” and “Molinism”.

    That said, I understand that you can claim to be a “Thomist” without being charged as man holding to a heretical view point. I would hope that you can see that my “Mostian” views are also legitimate for me to hold as a practicing Catholic. We both cannot be right, but we could also both be wrong.

    The Thomistic principle of predilection is that no created being would be better than another unless it were loved more by God. I was observing that it seemed that you had an emotional rejection to this principle (as suggested by your comments that a father shouldnt love one son more than the other). That is why I wanted to remind you that “father” and “children” is an analogy in the same way that “master” and “slave” are. Balance is key. Domingo Banez theology IS the theology of Aquinas. The distinction of “banezian” came from molinists who did not want to admit that the two greatest doctors of the Church (Augustine and Thomas) were both in general agreement against them. Its a hard pill to swallow but anyone familiar with the writing of saint Thomas would be hard pressed to deny this. I love fr. Most and I think that he wasa brilliant and wonderful man. I enjoy his thoughts on predestination and find them to be orthodox and very clever. He is not RGL… but he was definitely a great theologian. I have already recommended to you John Salzas work on predestination. It is LITERALLY the only answer to Fr. Most in print. He also discusses calvinism, molinism, scripture and various ecuminical councils. REALLY great book. Check it out

  113. Robert, you write:

    Human beings have degrees of love, and that is a praiseworthy thing. If I had the same degree of love for my for another woman as I had for my wife, I would be guilty of adultery.

    Jesus loves your wife more than you do. Is Jesus guilty of adultery?

    God has a special love for his children and His bride that he does not have for those who are not His children or His bride. I don’t know how to say it other than to say that God loves Christians more than He loves Muslims, Hindus, or anyone else.

    I take that you believe that God’s love for human beings is NOT unconditional. Is that correct? What are the conditions that makes God love you more than He loves a Muslim?

    It’s not because Christians are better.

    So God loves you for what reason? Because you were lucky?

    It is because God chose in eternity past to set his love on certain human beings and because of that, they become believers.

    I don’t see salvation by lottery being preached in the Gospels. If God is so capricious in whom he loves unto salvation, then how do you really know that you are one of the lucky ones that has won the salvation lottery? What make you think that you are not really one of the damned, but just don’t know it yet?

    That love is based on nothing in those upon whom God sets it but only on his own good pleasure.

    This is the gospel of salvation by divine lottery. What really makes you think that you are one of the special people that has won the lottery?

    It is because God loves me that I am a Christian. I love because he loved me first.

    Are you really a Christian? What makes you so sure about that?

    Those who die without professing Christ were never loved unto salvation.

    What about all the stillborn infants, the aborted infants, and the children that die before they profess Christ? Can we infer that these human beings are all damned?

    I am fallen, and I don’t know that I could sacrifice my child to save another. But in any case, you have it backwards. When God hands over Christ to be sacrificed, He does not do it for those who might reject Him.

    The scriptures explicitly teach the opposite of what you are claiming:

    Jesus Christ the righteous … is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
    1 John 1-2
    .
    For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
    John 3:16-17
    .
    And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.
    1 John 4:14

    Robert, you write:

    If Christ died for the sins of all people in the same way for everyone, everyone would be in heaven.

    God loves everyone without condition. That is why the a Christian can witness to anyone the words, “ God loves you”, and it doesn’t matter if the person being witnessed to is the worst person in the world.

    Salvation, on the other hand, is not unconditional, because part of the Gospel is, “Repent and be saved.”

    Robert, you did not answer a question that I asked you earlier. Is it possible for you to commit a sin?

  114. +JMJ+

    Mateo wrote:

    That said, I understand that you can claim to be a “Thomist” without being charged as man holding to a heretical view point. I would hope that you can see that my “Mostian” views are also legitimate for me to hold as a practicing Catholic. We both cannot be right, but we could also both be wrong.

    *facepalm*

    Of course, you can both be “right”. In abstractly dealing with the root mysteries of Nature and Faith, though there is such a thing as being “wrong” (i.e. heretical), there is can be no such thing as being exclusively “right”. If there could be, Jesus wouldn’t have had to have come personally to be The Way (“in Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”). Instead, God could have just delivered some systems and equations that would reveal the “solutions” to Life, the Universe and Everything.

  115. Mateo,

    I know you’re struggling with how much God loves us and you disagree.

    However…

    1. You haven’t pointed us to any Catholic reference that agrees with your point (dogma or otherwise)
    2. You haven’t addressed Romans 9:13 (and context) which directly references that God loves some less
    3. All you’ve given us is your opinion

    I find it hard to argue with your opinion. The fact of the matter is that the Catholic Church hasn’t dogmatically proclaimed how much God loves us but yet there’s still Romans 9 which tells us that very thing. You obviously disagree with Cardinal George but he is a Cardinal of the Church and it was published in an official Catholic newsletter.

    Please give something more than your opinion. Is there anywhere in Catholic history where it says God loves us all the same?

  116. WOSBOLD,

    I don’t understand how we could both be right? I say that God does not everyone equally. He says God does…. Both are correct how?

  117. Eric,

    Who exactly is protected from error during those points in time when seemingly the whole church is lost in perversion and evil?

    The whole Church was never “lost in perversion and evil.” There may have been bishops and some popes who may have gone wayward but that does not condemn the entire system.

    It would be akin to tossing the whole US democratic government system based on Bill Clinton’s impeachment or Richard Nixon and Watergate—or more recently with Anthony Weiner and his inability to keep it in his pants. Chucking the whole government system based on a few people is ludicrous. So it is with the Church.

    Throughout history there have been plenty of good and courageous people who have upheld the Church and kept it going amidst any strife that may have been caused by wayward people. Moreover, those wayward people did not alter doctrine nor can they. The doctrines of the Church have been preserved back to the time of Christ. I can read Irenaeus or St. John Chrysostom or other ECF and recognize the beauty of the same gospel being preached by my parish priest on Sundays.

    In the final analysis, you have nothing better to offer than we do: an ideal, a creed, a confession, a deposit if faith…something that will stand the test of time though all around it fail.

    Maybe. The only difference is that my beliefs were given to us by Christ and preserved by the Church. Your beliefs were derived by people from Scriptures.

    So in summary, here is the difference as I see it:

    Source of Catholic teaching = Words of Christ given by the Apostles and preserved by Scripture and the Church

    Source of Protestant teaching = Scripture as interpreted by men

    Do you notice the difference?

    It’s evident when I see you arguing against transubstantiation—because you think it’s idolatry. Does it really matter to you that much? Why argue about something like this? Is it because you’re generally concerned for our souls or is it because you have an axe to grind with the Church?

    Now for the Calvinistic teaching of “God does not love some people and damns them.” That is heresy that you and Robert need to understand is wrong. I care greatly that you understand how wrong this is because it distorts your view of humanity and God’s divine providence. It changes how you look at certain people and that genuinely needs to be corrected.

  118. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:

    WOSBOLD,
    I don’t understand how we could both be right? I say that God does not everyone equally. He says God does…. Both are correct how?

    Each from his own POV.

    Simply ponder which dogmatic truths heretical theologies must exclude in order to make their respective systems ‘work’ and the answer should become clearer. (Hint: The doctrine that “God loves some more than others” is not held unequivocally in any orthodox Catholic theology, whereas it is held unequivocally in some heretical systems.)

  119. Smells to much like post modern relativism to me

  120. Dennis–

    You’re quite right that the WHOLE church was never lost in perversion and evil. There was that one forlorn priest, sleeping off a hangover, in his backwater parish in Croatia, who still remembered a few of the things of God and wondered whether they might be true….

    How is it, by the way, that a belief in reprobation might change how I look or act toward a fellow human being? Since I do not (and indeed cannot) know whom God loves and does not love, on what possible criterion would I look down on anyone? I must assume that everyone I meet is loved of God. That is the default position pure and simple.

  121. Kenneth, you write:

    … divine simplicity demands the Gods nature and essence be simple and thus all of His attributes be identical.

    Exactly! That is what I have been trying to say.

    How can God be simple (composed of no parts) and yet BE love and BE power and BE knowledge without appeal to analogy? It is impossible.

    If I have to appeal to analogy to make the point above, then fine, I won’t argue against that. My point is that God’s attribute of love (if you want to phrase it that way) and his attribute of power are identical. How powerful is God? God is omnipotent, God is infinitely powerful, therefore his “attribute of love” is infinitely powerful. God is love, God is infinitely powerful /i> love.

    What do you receive in the Eucharist? Do you receive only a dollop of infinite love, or do you receive 100% of infinite love? You receive infinite love, right?

    Now it is quite true that for some people, the Eucharist will bring condemnation, not blessing, even though they have received the same infinite love as every other person that has received the Eucharist. But why is that? That brings us to a discussion of ex opere operato, ex opere operantis.

    Ex opere operato is a Latin phrase meaning “from the work done” referring to the efficacy of the Sacraments deriving from the action of the Sacrament as opposed to the merits or holiness of the priest, minister, or participant.
    .
    In modern usage, the phrase often refers to the idea that sacraments are efficacious in and of themselves rather than depending on the attitude either of the minister or the recipient.
    .
    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_opere_operato

    Ex opere operantis A term mainly applied to the good dispositions with which a sacrament is received, to distinguish it from the ex opere operato, which is the built-in efficacy of a sacrament properly conferred. But it may refer to any subjective factor that at least partially determines the amount of grace obtained by a person who performs some act of piety. Thus in the use of sacramentals or in the gaining of indulgences, the blessings received depend largely on the faith and love of God with which a sacramental is employed or an indulgenced prayer or good work is performed.
    .
    Ref: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33472

    The efficacy of the Eucharist depends on you – on your love of God, and not on God’s love for you. Everyone that validly receives the Eucharist receives the same infinite love, but not everyone benefits equally from the infinite love that they receive in the Eucharist.

    I was observing that it seemed that you had an emotional rejection to this principle (as suggested by your comments that a father shouldnt love one son more than the other).

    My rejection of this “principle” is that it is bad theology, and it leads to blaming God for the bad things that happen when humans reject the love due God for inordinate self-love. Adam and Eve fell, blame God, because God did not love Adam and Eve enough to prevent the fall. A man is damned, blame God, because God did not “love him unto salvation.” I can’t become a great saint, blame God, because God doesn’t love me enough to make this happen.

    The reason I find Calvinism repulsive is not because Calvinists give credit to God for making them saints, or that they credit God for everything good that happens in the world. The are right about that. Calvinism is repulsive because Calvinists implicitlty blame God for everything bad that happens in the world. And the basis of their bad theology is the principle that God loves some more than he loves others, as Robert has been explaining to us.

  122. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:

    Smells to much like post modern relativism to me.

    The problem with Postmodernism isn’t relativism. Things that are relatively true take their truth from their correspondence to that which they exist in relation. The various orthodox theologies are true inasmuch as they correspond to (or participate in) the Dogmatic Corpus (to which, they exist in relation). None of them are absolutely true, but they all share (or have a perspective on) the Dogmatic Truth.

    The problem with Postmodernism, far from being relativism, is rather, skepticism.

  123. Eric,

    You’re quite right that the WHOLE church was never lost in perversion and evil. There was that one forlorn priest, sleeping off a hangover, in his backwater parish in Croatia, who still remembered a few of the things of God and wondered whether they might be true….

    I would argue that there wasn’t that much of the Church that was lost to perversion and evil. Throughout history, in each and every century, there have been great saints who have been canonized for their holiness. As Shakespeare says, the evil that men do lives after them…the good oft lie interred with their bones.. People remember the evil ones and forget the good.

    I bet most people can’t name all twelve apostles but they all remember Judas. Without the Catholic Church, you wouldn’t even have Scripture as there were monks who dedicated their lives just transcribing bibles from older rotting bibles to preserve the Word.

    Yes, there were evil men and women…but for every Queen Mary, there were more like Queen Elizabeth of Hungary or King David I of Scotland who became saints.

    How is it, by the way, that a belief in reprobation might change how I look or act toward a fellow human being? Since I do not (and indeed cannot) know whom God loves and does not love, on what possible criterion would I look down on anyone? I must assume that everyone I meet is loved of God. That is the default position pure and simple.

    I’ll take your word on that. I do know that Calvinists have been called arrogant, unfriendly, and jerks and this is from Calvinists.

    I guess my opinion is from my interaction with Calvinists and my conclusion is that because their distorted image of God as unloving is affecting their approach to people and it makes them come off as arrogant, unfriendly jerks.

  124. Sorry…still learning how to do the references…

    Here are the links that refer to Calvinists as Arrogant, unfriendly jerks:

    Arrogant: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frenchrevolution/2012/07/23/are-calvinists-arrogant/

    Unfriendly: http://pastortubbs.com/why-are-calvinists-so-negative-and-often-unfriendly.html

    Jerks: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/be-a-kinder-calvinist

  125. Matteo,

    What do you receive in the Eucharist? Do you receive only a dollop of infinite love, or do you receive 100% of infinite love? You receive infinite love, right?

    You receive infinite love in kind but not in measure. If God poured out 100% of His divine love into someone they would INSTANTLY become the greatest saint that ever lived. Why? Because Gods love is the cause of goodness in things. He who is greater than another can only be great because of Gods love not because of his response. Otherwise grace is not grace. It definitely can not be considered efficacious grace when there is a big IF YOU ACCEPT sign attached to it.

    Predilection can only lead one to blame God for the sins of the world if one has no understanding of sufficient grace. Therefore, while your critique IS valid for Calvinists who have no concept of sufficient grace…. It does not show in any way the failures of Thomism

  126. Kenneth, you write:

    If God poured out 100% of His divine love into someone they would INSTANTLY become the greatest saint that ever lived.

    Kenneth, in the Eucharist you do receive 100% of God, do you not? When I made the analogy of a medicine that is efficacious in itself, I had the Eucharist in mind.

    The Eucharist is always efficacious in and of itself, for that is what ex opere operato means: “ex opere operato – referring to the efficacy of the Sacraments deriving from the action of the Sacrament as opposed to the merits or holiness of the priest, minister, or participant.”

    Note that the divine “medicine” is efficacious in itself, and is not dependent on the merits of the participant. But the Church also teaches ex opere operantis, that is, for the divine medicine to be efficacious for you, you have to do something other than just take the medicine: “ex opere operantis – A term mainly applied to the good dispositions with which a sacrament is received, to distinguish it from the ex opere operato, which is the built-in efficacy of a sacrament properly conferred. But it may refer to any subjective factor that at least partially determines the amount of grace obtained by a person …”

    There are things that you must do to properly dispose yourself to receive the grace that the Eucharist confers. To become a great saint, one must receive grace, no doubt about that. But for the grace of the Eucharist to be efficacious for you, you also have a role to play in the grand plan of salvation – things like make a commitment to prayer, strive to live a holy life, put love of God before love of mammon, practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, etc. It is true that doing all these things in a way that is pleasing to God is only possible with grace, but it is also true that the grace of the Eucharist can be rejected, which would mean that the grace inherent in the Eucharist is not efficacious for you, if you are not making the right choices in life.

    Kenneth, you raise a good point – if we are receiving 100% of infinitely powerful divine love in the Eucharist, why don’t we become instantly the greatest saint that ever lived? I don’t know if we would become the greatest saint that ever lived if we became fully aware of what we were receiving in the Eucharist. But I do know if we were fully aware of what we receive in the Eucharist, we would beholding the beatific vision, which would mean that we would instantly be dead, because no human on this earth can see the face of God and live. And, that, I think, is a key to understanding what is going on with human beings on this earth. God wants us to behold the beatific vision, but God has to work with on this earth us to make us into saints that can behold the beatific vision.

    Gods love is the cause of goodness in things.

    I absolutely agree with this! Only God is good, and all good things come from God. But the Calvinists are claiming that all bad things come from God too, which is why the Calvinists are preaching blasphemous heresy. If a man is damned, it is not because, as the Calvinists claim, that God loves him only enough to send him to everlasting torment in the flames of Hell. If that is love, then what would hatred from God look like?

    The Calvinists are dead wrong – the man that is damned to Hell is damned because the man has rejected the sufficient grace of God, grace that God gives to every man. On the other hand, the saint that dies and goes straight to Heaven, has accepted grace, and cooperated with the grace of God. (And God has given to men the Eucharist as the primary channel of grace.)

    Kenneth, I would think that as a Catholic, that you can acknowledge that between the extremes of the man who is totally depraved, who, upon his death, is cast into the lowest depths or Hell, and the saint that goes straight to Heaven when he dies, that there is a wide spectrum of “in-betweeners”. The cause of the man being cast into Hell lies with the man, because the bad that a man does is the result of his own choices. God desires all men to live holy lives that would send them straight to Heaven when they die, but for many, that doesn’t happen upon their death. Why? It is not because God does not desire every human being to become a great saints that go straight to Heaven when they die, it is because human beings are often only half-hearted in their desire to become great saints, and that is a bad thing that cannot be attributed to God.

    If you do not purify yourself in this life, you may not be damned for all eternity, but you will be purified in Purgatory before you can behold the beatific vision. But there is no need for anyone to go to Purgatory. Purgatory is how God shows mercy for those who are not bad enough for Hell, but not good enough for Heaven.

    He who is greater than another can only be great because of Gods love not because of his response. Otherwise grace is not grace.

    You are making this statement as if it is obvious to me that this should be true. But this is no more obvious to me than the Calvinst’s assertion that God’s foreknowledge means that God foreordains that some men have been created for Hell.

    It [grace] definitely can not be considered efficacious grace when there is a big IF YOU ACCEPT sign attached to it.

    Kenneth, it seems to me, that you are arguing against the Catholic understanding of grace being efficacious ex opere operantis.

  127. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:
    .
    He who is greater than another can only be great because of Gods love not because of his response. Otherwise grace is not grace.

    Mateo wrote:
    .
    You are making this statement as if it is obvious to me that this should be true. But this is no more obvious to me than the Calvinst’s assertion that God’s foreknowledge means that God foreordains that some men have been created for Hell.

    The point is that the converse is also equally true: “That God’s love is greater for one than for another can only be because of his response and not because of God’s love. Otherwise freedom is not freedom.”

    The simplest truth is that “Grace is impotent without Freedom, and Freedom is impotent without Grace” (or, if one prefers, “Grace is empowered by Freedom, and Freedom is empowered by Grace”). That’s the Paradox of Grace and Freedom. No one’s system is ever gonna “figure it out”. Not Most. Not Banez. Not Molina. No one. The only way to “figure it out” is to beyond the bounds of orthodoxy. The only way to resolve the paradox is to break it.

    That’s why Christ had to come personally. He had to resolve the paradox within His Incarnate Person.

    So, if you like one way of conceptualizing the issue better than another, if it is more helpful to your own dispositions to place more stress one side of the paradox than on the other, then go for it. It’s neither better nor worse as long as it does (at least implicit) justice to the other side as well.

  128. Wosbald writes:

    So, if you like one way of conceptualizing the issue better than another, if it is more helpful to your own dispositions to place more stress one side of the paradox than on the other, then go for it.

    That makes sense to me. I know my tendency towards spiritual sloth when God isn’t giving me consolation. That is why I appreciate this advise by St. Augustine:

    “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” ~ St. Augustine

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