On Lighthearted Tragedy

Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Catholicism, Chesterton, Darryl Hart, Development, Ecclesiology, Featured, Orthodoxy, Peter Leithart, Protestantism | 580 comments

Peter Leithart wrote a piece for First Things  recently titled “The Tragedy of Conversion.” Now as you probably know, Peter and I have a quite a history, so while I doubt I was the sole inspiration for his lament, I’m sure I was at least a significant part of it.

Leithart makes it clear that what he considers “tragic” are “cross-Christian conversions, from Protestant to Catholicism or Orthodoxy, or the opposite.” He elaborates:

What I have in mind is the logic behind some conversions, namely, the quest of the true church. Protestants who get some taste for catholicity and unity, who begin actually to believe the Nicene Creed, naturally find the contemporary state of Protestantism agonizing (as I do). They begin looking for a church that has preserved its unity, that has preserved the original form of church, and they often arrive at Catholicism or Orthodoxy.

Why is such a desire to discover the true church tragic?

Apart from all the detailed historical arguments, this quest makes an assumption about the nature of time, an assumption that I have labeled “tragic.” It’s the assumption that the old is always purer and better, and that if we want to regain life and health we need to go back to the beginning.

Now I would be curious to hear Leithart actually cite a convert who made a statement that betrayed an assumption like “old is always purer and better.” My guess is that the reason he makes no such appeal is that few, if any, of us have actually said something like that. I certainly didn’t. In fact, if I had been operating under that tragic assumption I would have become a Levitical Jew, or perhaps a worshiper of Baal and Ashtoreth. Catholicism is not the oldest religion in the world, is what I’m saying.

But if Catholicism is the oldest Christian  religion in the world (which I ask you to grant simply for the sake of argument), then I think a good question to ask is, “Hmmm. If Christianity is true, and the oldest expression of it is found in Catholicism, then why would it be a tragic thing for someone to consider it?”

Of course, Leithart’s entire reason for dismissing as tragic a conversion to Rome or Constantinople is hopelessly problematic:

Eden is not the golden time to which we return; it is the infancy from which we begin and grow up. The golden age is ahead, in the Edenic Jerusalem.

 

And the church’s history is patterned in the same way too. It’s disorienting to think that we have to press ahead rather than try to discover or recover the safety of an achieved ecclesia, disorienting because we can’t know or predict the future. But it’s the only assumption Trinitarians can consistently make: The ecclesial peace we seek is not behind us, but in front. We get there by following the pillar of fire that leads us to a land we do not know.

First, no Catholic or EO would deny, or even have the slightest problem with, the idea that our ultimate goal is the new Jerusalem which lies ahead of us, in the future. So the argument so far is a complete straw man.

But also embedded in the argument is the denial that there is such a thing as a visible church that Jesus himself founded, which will never be prevailed upon by the gates of hell, and which itself develops over time and grows into the maturity and stature of the fullness of Christ. So one of the premises needed to make Leithart’s argument work is that Catholicism and Orthodoxy are false (which is why it’s tragic when people convert to them). But this is just silly, since everyone agrees that converting to a false religion is tragic.

I’ll leave you with a bit of irony. The Catholic doctrine of the development of dogma and actually qualifies  the Church to be the kind of conversion-destination that Leithart should approve of. I mean, if there’s an ancient expression of Christianity that refuses to grow up or adapt to the times, it’s certainly not the Catholic Church (I’ll leave you to figure out who it might be [*cough-EO-cough*]).

And to add to the irony a touch of Chestertonian flavor, we have Leithart lamenting that the Catholic Church is stuck stubbornly in the past, while all we’ve heard from The Hart Attackers™ for the last year is how much the Church has capitulated to modernity. So which is it, Protestants?

My suggested solution to this conundrum is that maybe, just maybe, the Church is exactly where it’s supposed to be, while Peter’s just too much of a trailblazer and Darryl’s simply a stick-in-the-mud?

 

580 Comments

  1. Mateo–

    There are antinomies in all the various paradigms. Don’t let that stop you. You’ve got a long ways to go…..

  2. That is not true, which is why I brought up the question of babies that are validly baptized that die as infants or toddlers. Such children cannot express faith in Jesus, because they are incapable of doing so.
    Please tell me Jack, what do you think happens to babies and toddlers that die after they are validly baptized? Is it possible that some of these baptized children will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity because God does not love these baptized babies enough to save them? Eric is saying that the majority of Presbyterians believe that this is at least a possibility, but Eric is not a Presbyterian.

    Mateo, read Q.88. It says ‘ordinary means.’ Why don’t you stop playing gotcha. The comments with DH had to do with faith visi-vis baptism in general, not about the question of what happens to baptized children who die in infancy. Now if you ask nicely, I’ll answer your question about infants, again, if you ask nicely. Otherwise, go prosecute someone else.

  3. The first two paragraphs in my previous comment are a quote from comments by Mateo. Sorry for any confusion.

  4. Eric, you write:

    I’m fairly certain the whole notion that covenant babies are always elect is the majority report of Presbyterians. I’m not sure that it makes logical sense …

    That makes no logical sense at all. If valid infant baptism does not necessarily bring about baptismal regeneration, then the Presbyterians have no reason to believe that their “covenant babies” have been regenerated, since the Presbyterians deny that baptism necessarily accompanies baptism.

    Unless the Presbyterians are saying that unregenerate human beings can enter into Heaven, (which I have never known a Presbyterian to assert) then the only logical thing for Presbyterians to believe is that it is at least possible that some of their baptized infants and toddlers are going to be cast into the lake of fire. Why? Because God does not love these unfortunate children enough to save them. That is where a consistent understanding of Presbyterian soteriology is going to take you – babies in Hell.

    I think that you can see the point that I am driving at. No normal father or mother wants to think that their baby has been sent to Hell because they love their baby too much to think such a horrible thing. But if anyone thinks that they can love their baby more than God loves their baby, then maybe it is time to consider that some of the doctrines in the religion that he or she is involved in are false doctrines.

    The same thing can be said about justice. Sane humans know that it is unjust to punish a twelve year old child that has taken a candy bar from the store with the same punishment that is justly due for an unrepentant serial rapist. But Calvinists are proclaiming that there is no such thing as lesser or greater sins – that God sees all sin the same way – as an evil that is due the punishment of the second death. Which should tell you that this must be wrong, because it is impossible for humans to have a better sense of justice than God. If you are a normal human being, you understand that a distinction between sin that is mortal, and sin that is not mortal, makes perfect sense.

    If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.
    1 John 5:16-17 Revised Standard Version

  5. Jack Miller, you write:

    Now if you ask nicely, I’ll answer your question about infants, again, if you ask nicely.

    I am asking you nicely. Please give me your opinion about what happens to all the validly baptized infants that don’t live to be old enough to express a personal faith in Jesus Christ?

  6. Oops! The above should read: “since the Presbyterians deny that regeneration necessarily accompanies baptism.

  7. Kenneth–

    I wanted to get back to you on the flying snail illustration. The principal reason for rejecting the whole “everyone has wings” business is that it effectively negates the role of grace. None of us have wings, or at least none of us has wings which can carry us up to the leaf.

    I used to live in a small town in south Georgia, where–no lie–the wild chicken population outnumbered the human population by something like three to one. I never realized before how well a chicken can fly. They would perch to sleep in the tops of trees. Yes, they might only go up a few limbs at a time, but I was fairly amazed. What they did NOT do was to “fly high like a bird up in the sky.” I never saw a soaring chicken (except for the one I saw clutched in a hawk’s talons).

    I don’t think that the Reformed confessions mean that the unregenerate never do anything good, but that they never do anything purely good. Anything less than pure goodness is sin. It is tainted by impure motivations and unforeseen consequences. They often “good heartedly” do disastrously unwise things. They find nobility in immorality done well (like a homosexual couple remaining faithful to one another). They believe that things which are legal or popular are thereby “right.”

    Think of them as chickens. They can sort of fly, but they will never make it as high as your hypothetical “leaf of salvation.” They cannot will themselves to (since no one can) and so in that sense, they CANNOT. If they could, grace would no longer be grace.

    The regenerate are not given wings so much as transformed into eagles.

    (I assume you understand the permanence of the transformation in Reformed eyes. As new creatures, we are not like werewolves who morph back and forth with the phases of the moon. We are born again and grow, but we do not die and come back to life and die and come back to life and die again every time we commit some “mortal” sin and then go through reconciliation and then commit some “mortal” sin and then go through reconciliation….)

  8. Mateo–

    Actually, there’s no logical reason to prevent God from electing all covenant babies who die in infancy. So, I shouldn’t have said it that way. I just think it smacks of pastoral convenience. I don’t take a stance on the matter other than to trust my heavenly Father implicitly. Whatever he wants to do is fine with me. His is a love and a wisdom far beyond mine.

    Peraonally, I like to stick with Sola Scriptura unless there is a viable overriding reason not to. The fact of the matter is, Scripture does not definitively tell us what happens to the souls of children dying in infancy. Everybody who has a definitive “stance” on the issue is merely speculating.

  9. Mateo–

    As for your claim for the necessity of the distinction between mortal and venial sin, that only makes sense for those who do not take their sin seriously. You’re just trying to excuse everything that doesn’t come up to the level of “mortal.” We think of all sin as mortal. No excuses.

  10. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Kenneth–
    I wanted to get back to you on the flying snail illustration.

    That’s gnawing at you, isn’t it? It should. [no snark]

  11. Mateo,

    I am asking you nicely. Please give me your opinion about what happens to all the validly baptized infants that don’t live to be old enough to express a personal faith in Jesus Christ?

    Here is my belief:

    WCF 10:3. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

    Acts 9:38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.

    The Reformed confession, the Canons of Dort, Chapter 1, Article 17 (“The Salvation of the Infants of Believers”), affirms:
    Since we must make judgments about God’s will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.

    Acts 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.

    Note that baptism isn’t required of infants in order for them to be saved. Indeed those children of Christians, as well as unborn who die before birth, are considered covenant children. And therefore we can presume with confidence (as Peter says that the promise is also to the children) that by God’s grace, mercy, and faithfulness they are marked for salvation. Now you may object and say, “what about faith alone?” When someone reaches the age of reason where they can reject or believe the gospel then faith is necessary for salvation, as clearly taught in Scripture and affirmed in our confessional standards. If a baptized child when older rejects Christ, then the only path to salvation is repentance and faith alone in the merits of Christ Jesus.

    What about infants who die that are not of the covenant (i.e. of non-believers)? See above – WCF 10:3. In other words, as God so chooses an individual for election unto salvation, even one outside the covenant who dies in infancy, then they “are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth.” God’s sovereign grace and election are always the determining factors in salvation. As Paul wrote:

    For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.

  12. WCF 28 Of Baptism
    5. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

    For proof of this all we need to consider is our dear Lord Jesus as he hung innocently on that cruel cross for our damnable sins and the words he spoke to that guilty thief on the cross next to him:

    One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

    Amazing grace indeed…

  13. Mateo,

    The same thing can be said about justice. Sane humans know that it is unjust to punish a twelve year old child that has taken a candy bar from the store with the same punishment that is justly due for an unrepentant serial rapist. But Calvinists are proclaiming that there is no such thing as lesser or greater sins – that God sees all sin the same way – as an evil that is due the punishment of the second death. Which should tell you that this must be wrong, because it is impossible for humans to have a better sense of justice than God. If you are a normal human being, you understand that a distinction between sin that is mortal, and sin that is not mortal, makes perfect sense.

    You wrongly understand the Reformed view of sin. Because God demands absolute perfection, even the smallest sin is mortal. The kid who steals a candy bar is as deserving of hell as the rapist. In hell, however, there are degrees of punishment. That thief will have an easier time, whatever that means, because it is still going to be bad.

    Even in your scheme, the unrepentant thief and the unrepentant rapist are both going to hell. With Scripture, the Reformed affirm that there is no sin so small that it is undeserving of hell and that God’s grace is so large, it is enough to fully cover any sin, no matter how great. RC’s have a trivial view of God’s holiness and thus a trivial view of sin, and thus a trivial view of God’s grace. But that’s true of all man made religions. Because Rome will not submit itself to God’s Word, it is infected with the same problem.

  14. You are so right, Wosbald!

    I lie awake night after night, sweating profusely and struggling mightily in fervent prayer, in hope against hope, wondering, wondering…

    …whether, in the final analysis, our great God of love and mercy will be “fair.”

    (After all, Truth, Justice, and the American Way require a particular definition of fairness, which God must not dare to undermine! We’ll scramble a squadron of fighter jets if He does….) [no snark]

    ****************

    OK, OK, all right already…over the top snarkiness…what did you expect? 😉

    In all seriousness, we cannot judge God on the basis of what we believe to be good and right and fair, but on what He actually reveals in His Word.

  15. Andrew,

    No Dennis, he is not separating the two, he is drawing them together. That’s why he says that “he who plants and he who waters are one” in verse 8. And take a look at how Paul uses the term we that translate as “co-workers” or “fellow workers” elsewhere – Rom 16:3, II Cor 1:24, 2 Cor 6:1, Phil 4:3, Col 4:11. Paul continues to use co-workers to indicate ALL his brothers in Christ, not just those who were in positions of authority.

    I don’t think you’re grasping what Paul is writing here. Essentially, he and Apollos are farmers and they are growing/nurturing a field. This “field” are the Corinthians. What he’s saying is it doesn’t matter if he or Apollos plants or waters, they are both one and will get a wage for their work. This isn’t about “all Christians” but rather the ones who nurture/plant or water the fields. This is talking about the teachers.

    What I know is that the teachers in the Early Church never spoke of any kind of infallible teaching authority as the RCC spoke about much later in history. But you have to read the writings of the Early Church for yourself and come to your own conclusion. I hope by your statement about that don’t reject out of hand the possibility that God could work through a Church which can be in error, even on de fide matters. As I see it the quality of infallibility is God’s alone. God could of course extend this quality as a gift to people or institutions as He sees fits, but there ought to be crystal clear justification for according infallibility to any individual or institution.

    Well, I guess some things you take on faith. Does it say anywhere that Scripture is infallible? Why do you believe it?

    I believe the Magisterium is infallible for the same reason that I believe Scriptures are infallible. It’s really a matter of faith. I don’t have a problem with an infallible Magisterium—and I’ve never searched the ECF to see if the Magisterium is infallible. I don’t have to.

  16. Eric,

    The principal reason for rejecting the whole “everyone has wings” business is that it effectively negates the role of grace.

    that’s only the case if you do not make the distinction between sufficient and efficacious grace. Once that distinction is made how is the role of grace negated?

    Think of them as chickens. They can sort of fly, but they will never make it as high as your hypothetical “leaf of salvation.” They cannot will themselves to (since no one can) and so in that sense, they CANNOT. If they could, grace would no longer be grace.

    The regenerate are not given wings so much as transformed into eagles.

    Your analogy is probably more helpful than mine in that it does show that sinners at least think that they can do good. However, I don’t think your new choice of analogy helps at all in showing how we have a real choice as sinners to choose God and reject Him. The wild chicken, just like the snail before him, simply doesn’t have the ability to reach the proverbial leaf. It is not even in his nature to be able to do so. Therefore, there is no practical difference between the chicken and the snail. Both are free to “be themselves” but neither have the ability to “choose” the leaf which is impossible and contrary to their very being.

    Does Jesus weep over wingless snails? You can imagine the absurdity of Jesus looking at the slugs and crying out “Oh snails! Oh snails! How often I would have gathered you in my arms… If only you had flown to the leaf!” that’s absurd.

    It seems to me that Calvinists know that they NEED to say that we are free to choose in some way… But without sufficient grace you just don’t have the philosophical systems in place to produce a satisfactory view of predestination. Sufficient grace is the missing ingredient.

  17. Eric, you write:

    Actually, there’s no logical reason to prevent God from electing all covenant babies who die in infancy. So, I shouldn’t have said it that way. I just think it smacks of pastoral convenience.

    Of course it smacks of pastoral convenience – and even worse theology. If all baptized babies (or covenant babies if you prefer) go to heaven if they die as infants, then in Calvinist soteriology, the death of a baptized infant is a sure sign of God’s love, because God has loved the covenant babies right into Heaven. The pagan babies that die as infants, well God only loves them enough to send them to Hell.

    Personally, I like to stick with Sola Scriptura unless there is a viable overriding reason not to.

    Of course you do, because that way you don’t have to listen to the church that Christ personally founded in order for you to know what constitutes orthodoxy. You do, in fact, have an overriding reason not to make yourself the ultimate temporal authority in determining what constitutes orthodoxy, and the reason is that there is NOTHING in the scriptures that grants you the authority to be your own ultimate authority.

    “If he refuses to listen even to the church …”

    As for your claim for the necessity of the distinction between mortal and venial sin, that only makes sense for those who do not take their sin seriously.

    The reason I believe in the distinction between sin that is mortal and sin that is not mortal is because the Apostle John explicitly makes this distinction (in verses that I have already quoted). I agree with what the Apostle John has taught in scriptures about sin that is mortal and sin that is not mortal, so I don’t see how you can possibly accuse me of not taking sin seriously unless you are also accusing St. John of the thing.

    We think of all sin as mortal.

    I know that, and the belief contradicts what is explicitly taught in scriptures.

    Robert, you write:

    You wrongly understand the Reformed view of sin. Because God demands absolute perfection, even the smallest sin is mortal.

    What am I misunderstanding about the Reformed view of sin? You are claiming that a kid that sasses his mom has committed a sin as heinous as a father that rapes his own daughter.

    Did the Old Testament require the death penalty for every sin? No. Some sins were more serious than other sins, and as such, they deserved different degrees of punishment. But that isn’t “biblical” according to the Calvinists.

    No Robert, I understand the Calvinist view of sin quite well, it is utterly simplistic without any nuance at all – and it is completely unscriptural. In the Calvinist view of sin, a kid that sasses his mom deserves the punishment of the second death – everlasting torment in the flames of Hell.

    The kid who steals a candy bar is as deserving of hell as the rapist.

    Justice according to the Calvinists. If this is divine justice, then it follows that you should be seeking to transform our society so that it aligns itself with God’s justice. Which would mean the death penalty for kids that sass their moms.

  18. Jack Miller, you write:

    Note that baptism isn’t required of infants in order for them to be saved. Indeed those children of Christians, as well as unborn who die before birth, are considered covenant children.

    What I see WCF 10:3 saying is only “elect children” can be said to be regenerated if they they die as infants, which is NOT to say that every child that dies as an infant is going to heaven, since some children that die as infants may realize a final destiny of everlasting torment in the flames of Hell. And those unfortunate babies includes the babies of Calvinists that have been baptized, but who are, unfortunately, the progeny of the already-damned-but-don’t-know-it-yet Calvinists.

    In what you quoted, “believers” means “true believers”, and not just any old person that calls himself a Christian. And godly parents are, of course, not just any old person that thinks he or she is a Christian parent (since a man or a woman can think that he or she is a Christian and be wrong about that, since he or she is living under the delusion that God loves them enough to be saved). No, the “godly parents” are the special people that God loves more than He loves other people. WCF 10:3 is saying that special people breed special babies, and it is only the special babies that die in infancy that can be said to be certainly destined for Heaven.

    Jack, I have to ask you in all seriousness, do you understand how this sounds to a person that is not a Calvinist? When the Dutch Calvinists invaded South Africa, do you think that the natives were overjoyed to hear the Good News According to the Calvinists?

  19. Mateo,

    do you understand how this sounds to a person that is not a Calvinist?

    Well, I might say it only matters how it sounds to him who has ears to hear. I’m certainly not surprised how it sounds to your Roman Catholic ears. You pick a portion of what confirms your beliefs and dismiss the rest either out of willfulness or possibly ignorance. Not surprised. But I gave you an answer because you played nice… Carry on…

  20. Mateo–

    I didn’t “make myself” the ultimate temporal authority in determining what constitutes orthodoxy; I am that authority by default. There is no one else who can make those decisions for me. I feel sorry for you, abdicating a god-given responsibility to others due to laziness or cowardliness or what have you….

    Pagan babies may be elect or non-elect just like everyone else. God chooses whether they go to heaven or to hell. Do you have a problem with his doihg that? I’ve heard he’s fairly fair and just and trustworthy and good and loving and wise.

    There’s nothing even slightly explicit in what John has to say. You take a vague passage which nobody but nobody knows what it means exactly and build a whole theology of sin around it. Utterly irresponsible (and most likely, a “mortal” sin…since you did it knowingly and willfully). Should I pronounce penance, or would you rather shuffle off to your soft-on-sin parish priest?

  21. Mateo,

    What am I misunderstanding about the Reformed view of sin? You are claiming that a kid that sasses his mom has committed a sin as heinous as a father that rapes his own daughter.

    No I’m not. The rapist has committed a sin that is more heinous, and the wrath he feels in hell will be far greater than the one who only sassed his mom. The point is that both are going to hell without repentance, which is standard traditional RC doctrine. I realize V2 has basically oriented the church toward universalism, but this is not objectionable according to any standard Western theology of sin. Is the unrepentant kid who sasses his mom not deserving of hell?

    Did the Old Testament require the death penalty for every sin? No. Some sins were more serious than other sins, and as such, they deserved different degrees of punishment. But that isn’t “biblical” according to the Calvinists.

    Yes, which is why in hell there are degrees of punishment while in heaven there are degrees of reward.

    No Robert, I understand the Calvinist view of sin quite well, it is utterly simplistic without any nuance at all – and it is completely unscriptural. In the Calvinist view of sin, a kid that sasses his mom deserves the punishment of the second death – everlasting torment in the flames of Hell.

    In all traditional views of sin, all people deserve “everlasting torment in the flames of Hell” except for Christ Jesus. Even the “immaculately conceived Mary” had to be protected in advance by the work of Christ from such a fate.

    This really isn’t all that difficult. All people deserve hell. All people can escape hell through faith and trust in Christ alone. Those who do not repent will be punished in hell and receive a punishment in proportion to their crime by the infinitely just God.

    We don’t distinguish between mortal and venial sin. The RC inclination to see degrees of sin is not a bad one, it is the conclusion you all reach. Some sins are worse than others in terms of their offensiveness. But God is perfect and demands for His creatures to be perfect. That means even the least sin is deserving of hellfire.

    God is not an indulgent grandfather even in the traditional RC view, but that is what he sounds like in your theology.

  22. +JMJ+

    Mateo wrote:
    .
    … do you understand how this sounds to a person that is not a Calvinist?

    Jack Miller wrote:
    .
    Well, I might say it only matters how it sounds to him who has ears to hear.

    As Catholics have repeatedly noted, Reformism is simply incapable of mounting a positive apologetic to the Natural Man. This is what happens when 1) one’s beliefs are irrational and inhuman (against Natural Revelation) and 2) one does not admit Incarno-Sacramentalism.

  23. Jack,

    I just lost a long reply. I will boil it all down.

    Baptism if not accompanied by faith ultimately avails nothing as regards the salvation of the soul.

    God always accomplishes what He promises. So baptism always results in justification. Man can be a covenant breaker – but God never can.

  24. The second sentence above should have been in quotes. Sorry for my HTML fail.

  25. Mateo–

    Here is what the Bible says to do with “children who sass”:

    Deuteronomy 21:18-21

    18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”

    🙂

  26. Dave H –

    “Baptism if not accompanied by faith ultimately avails nothing as regards the salvation of the soul.” – [Jack]

    God always accomplishes what He promises. So baptism always results in justification. Man can be a covenant breaker – but God never can. – [DH]

    Two things.
    1. Of course we disagree with RCs that baptism is the instrument of justification. One might be able through a verse to infer that it is, but Scripture (OT and NT) in many places positively states that God justifies the ungodly through faith, even calling it the “faith of righteousness”… not the baptism of righteousness.

    2. God always accomplishes what he, in the counsel of his will, purposes. In order for His promise to be effectual according to the Roman Catholic one must be baptized and not commit mortal sin, and [add in other things here]. And if he does commit mortal sin then he seeks restoration via penance to return to a justified state. If he doesn’t do that then God’s promised justification in baptism passes him by. Works and justification are very much linked here.

    We maintain that Scripture teaches (for those of age) God’s promise of salvation is made effectual by grace alone through faith alone in – the One who fulfilled that promise for sinners – Jesus Chris alone, who died for their sins and fulfilled the demands of the Law for their justification. If man refuses to believe, then the promise of salvation is refused.

    John 3: 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

    … Jesus says that whoever believes (faith) is “not condemned”… to be “not condemned” under the law is to be justified under the law. So whoever has faith in him is justified and whoever has not faith in him is not justified, i.e. condemned.

    What is at issue is the instrument of justification. Is it baptism or faith? And Paul makes it clear to all who are willing to hear and consider and believe the good news he teaches:

    Justification:
    Romans 3:21-23 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

    Romans 4: 4-5 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness

    Romans 11: 5-6 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

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

    Sanctification:
    Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    Phil. 2:12b-13 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

    When it comes to justification Paul rules out works, even grace-assisted works. “Righteousness through faith”, not by baptism. Of course you reject this, as RCs see baptism and sanctification (grace-assisted works) as means to justification. We agree with Paul that sinners are justified through faith in Christ apart from any kind of works and that that one who is justified by grace will and does bring forth godly works (sanctification built upon justification) through the work of God’s Spirit (Eph. 2:10; Phil 2:12b-13).

    I’m content to agree to disagree with you. I’m not content to disagree with the apostle Paul. And by the way, this is not my personal interpretation, but the teaching of those churches which hold to the reformed confessions and catechisms.

    cheers…

  27. Test

  28. Jack,

    1. Of course we disagree with RCs that baptism is the instrument of justification. One might be able through a verse to infer that it is, but Scripture (OT and NT) in many places positively states that God justifies the ungodly through faith, even calling it the “faith of righteousness”… not the baptism of righteousness.

    Faith and Baptism are not opposed to each other in scripture. They are both necessary. No need to infer – it is clearly taught in scripture.

    John 3:5:“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’”

    Acts 2:38: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

    Acts 22:16: “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.”

    1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

    Titus 3:5: “he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit”

    1 Peter 3:19-21: “in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”

    2. God always accomplishes what he, in the counsel of his will, purposes. In order for His promise to be effectual according to the Roman Catholic one must be baptized and not commit mortal sin, and [add in other things here]. And if he does commit mortal sin then he seeks restoration via penance to return to a justified state. If he doesn’t do that then God’s promised justification in baptism passes him by. Works and justification are very much linked here.

    Well, yeah. That is what scripture and the church have always taught. Mortal sin, sin that leads to death is by definition soul destroying. But you have something wrong. Justification did not pass him by – he lost it.

    We maintain that Scripture teaches (for those of age) God’s promise of salvation is made effectual by grace alone through faith alone in – the One who fulfilled that promise for sinners – Jesus Chris alone, who died for their sins and fulfilled the demands of the Law for their justification. If man refuses to believe, then the promise of salvation is refused.

    You do maintain it but scripture nowhere teaches it.

    But your last sentence is correct and biblical. The first one is not.

    I’m content to agree to disagree with you. I’m not content to disagree with the apostle Paul. And by the way, this is not my personal interpretation, but the teaching of those churches which hold to the reformed confessions and catechisms.

    Paul rules out the “works of the law” he does not rule out faith working through love – he teaches it. Paul, properly understood, is teaching that you do not have to become a Jew to be saved.

    As for the rest I refer you back to those Baptism passages I quoted above.

    We are justified by faith working through love. That does not pit God’s gratuitous actions in the Sacraments against faith. Indeed to receive the means of grace Christ offers freely is to have true faith in Christ.

  29. DH –

    Faith and Baptism are not opposed to each other in scripture.

    Agreed. But there is the issue of priority and instrumentality or by what means we do receive that justification that Christ purchased with his blood. Granted, you point to verses that speak of baptism and the remission of sins. Sacramentally they are intimately connected. Not that I will convince otherwise… as this was the issue of the Reformation. But baptism though commanded is nonetheless a work, something commanded for one ‘to do.’ Its sacramental correlation to justification and regeneration doesn’t equate causality. And that is what I meant when I said there are verses that one can infer your claim but it doesn’t stand in in light of other more clear and explicit texts on justification.

    You speak of justification by ‘faith through love’ and wrote…

    Paul rules out the “works of the law” he does not rule out faith working through love – he teaches it.

    Works of the law are summed up, i.e. defined, by Jesus as love of God and love of neighbor. So love is the fulfilling of, or the doing of the works of the law. So love is indeed ruled out in acquiring justification. Paul teaches faith working through love, indeed, but not as the means of receiving justification. It is not faith and ‘works of the law’ otherwise defined as ‘love’ that justifies. Paul has been making that very case to the Galatians.

    Galatians 3: 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?… 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit[e] through faith.

    Paul clearly excludes works of any kind (and all true works of the law are summed up as love) when speaking of justification before the law. Thus he says clearly in Romans,

    And to the one who does not work [does not do works of law/love] but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness

    That is, Justification that comes through faith in Christ absent works of any kind.

    Yet faith working through love do go together in our sanctification, which follows on our justification. A true faith in Christ which justifies is always exhibited and accompanied by love for God and love for neighbor. The 39 Articles of the reformed Church of England express this quite well:

    XII Of Good Works: Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s Judgement; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith; insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

    As I said, I’m content to agree to disagree, but not… 😉

    cheers…

  30. Such weak analysis going here (galatians especially), it’s really sad to read the same old medieval arguments promoted as truth here. As if it ever means anything to quote a verse or WCF passage and go “See! I tode ya!”

  31. Works of the law are summed up, i.e. defined, by Jesus as love of God and love of neighbor. So love is the fulfilling of, or the doing of the works of the law. So love is indeed ruled out in acquiring justification. Paul teaches faith working through love, indeed, but not as the means of receiving justification. It is not faith and ‘works of the law’ otherwise defined as ‘love’ that justifies. Paul has been making that very case to the Galatians.

    Wrong. First, it is not the ‘works of the law’ which are summed up by Jesus, but simply the Torah.

    36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

    Jesus said that the 2 commandments are a summation of the entire Torah and also the Prophets. In no way did he abolish the Torah, He simply brought it to maturity in praxis via his own life but also in his own teaching. The Sermon on the Mount is basically the maturation of the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments did not disappear with the Sermon on the Mount, they were AMPLIFIED. And in that same sermon, Jesus concludes by saying this “Whoever DOES these things, he is like wise man who built his house on the rock”. But in reformed theology, there is no building going at all, that’s just a pretty little story for kids and a footnote to be safely ignored while we jump to Gal 3:10 (which by the way regarding which I have shown long ago on this site why the reformed interpretation is so lacking).

    Here is question for you Miller: if Jesus abolished the Torah, why did He tell the Pharisees to tithe on their dill and cumin as well? That’s #1. #2, do you tithe Miller? I assume you do. If that’s true, if from this day to to the day you die you willingly and knowingly refuse to tithe, despite your ability to do so, will you have loved your neighbor as yourself, knowing that your tithe would go to help your neighbor? If your answer is no to that, then do you expect to be justified? If you say yes I will be justified regardless, then why did Jesus mourn over the rich young ruler’s fate then? Do not dodge the questions, answer each one of them please.

    Mark 10:
    17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor , and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”

    A slightly less myopic view of faith working through love at a minimum, has to tie v 6 to v5 immediately preceding: FOR we are waiting for the hope of dikaiosunes (justice/righteousness). In other words we wait for the Hope of being justified. A FUTURE event, unmistakably and unequivocally.

    ” For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness . 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

    Did it not take faith in Jesus, working through love for the poor, for the rich young ruler to give up his property and follow Him? This is exactly what Paul links our final justification to:

    echoing Romans 2:7

    “5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek.”

    If you don’t want to listen to me, then go listen to what Douglas Moo is saying about Gal 5:5 and the medievals’ myopia in dealing with it.

  32. SS wrote:

    Wrong. First, it is not the ‘works of the law’ which are summed up by Jesus, but simply the Torah.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition:

    2055 When someone asks him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?”8 Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law:

    The commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    Jesus’ summation not that of the law? Hmm…

    As for the rest of your comments, you argue against things I’m either not asserting or are irrelevant to my previous comments…

    cheers…

  33. As I expected, a dodge. Not relevant to your prior comments? Thanks for the laugh.

  34. SS–

    I have some sympathy for your thesis that the complete gentilization of the early church was an illegitimate development which we should take pains to reverse.

    Here, however, I don’t care to listen to you as you make assertion after assertion which cannot be backed up.

    The following is from a review of a lecture by Moo on his take on Galatians 5:5.

    “Moo stresses that there exists a future aspect to justification, an idea to which mainstream Protestant theology has given little attention. He upholds the NIV’s translation of Gal 5:5 as an example of justification in the future. The issue in Galatians is not initial justification, but justification understood as vindication in the future on the last day. Moo emphasizes that it is incorrect to speak of two justifications, but being faithful to Scripture does lead us to speak of two aspects of justification. There is “a biblical tension at this point” that should be acknowledged. While he is not totally sure how these two aspects of justification can be reconciled, Moo suggests that the future aspect of justification is probably to be understood in terms of being a public confirmation on the last day of the initial justification that has already taken place in the life of a believer.

    “Moo links this second aspect of justification in with the biblical doctrine of judgment according to works. Disagreeing with the common Protestant view that views works as merely evidential, Moo argues that works contribute to final salvation “in some way.” At the same time, he makes it clear that these works are to be understood as those that God enables the believer to perform. Moo contrasts the zero-sum model that views divine agency and human agency as operating in competition with each other with the biblical-tension model that views divine agency and human agency working together, the divine agency being primary, and human agency secondary.

    “As a consequence, he surmises that justification, understood within the biblical tension of the present and future aspects of the concept, leads to assurance without presumption. We are justified fully by faith, yet at the same time we need to earnestly strive for holiness.”

    Though he is wanting to loosen up some of the language we Reformed use to describe justification, this is not an example of the double justification put forward during the Reformation as a compromise solution. He confirms that justification itself is “fully by faith” and NOT by “faith working through love.”

    I think he is saying much the same thing I have said within these threads: that the main difference between Catholics and Protestants is the permanence (or lack thereof) of initial justification.

    Moo concluded his lecture by noting that the ultimate cause of justification is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer, whereas the instrumental cause is faith alone. On the other hand, he hastened to remind us that this faith is a faith that goes together with works. (Much as Martin Luther is purported to have observed that we are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.)

    As long as we make sure to acknowledge faith as the sole instrumental cause of justification (and initial justification as carrying one through inevitably to final justification), we can afford to speak of the contingent role of works in the process of salvation “in some way.”

  35. While he is not totally sure how these two aspects of justification can be reconciled, Moo suggests that the future aspect of justification is probably to be understood in terms of being a public confirmation on the last day of the initial justification that has already taken place in the life of a believer.

    “Moo links this second aspect of justification in with the biblical doctrine of judgment according to works. Disagreeing with the common Protestant view that views works as merely evidential, Moo argues that works contribute to final salvation “in some way.” At the same time, he makes it clear that these works are to be understood as those that God enables the believer to perform.

    Eric,

    You can try to do damage control all you want, but the fact is that Moo has let the cat out of the bag. No amount of filibustering will change that. The minute one says the above bolded, is the minute one has departed from the Reformers and Protestantism today.

    Of course God enables one to do His will. But this an en-abling , to be made able, not an irresistible process. The problem with all reformed arguments on perseverance is this: they fail to recognize that grace in the NT is to be read in its proper historical-critical context, i.e., one in which grace is intimately linked to the Honor-Shame, Patron-client, Suzerain-vassal nature of the Benefactor-beneficiary relationship. It is a Covenantal relationship, in which the recipient of grace can indeed fail to honor the Benefactor with a response of gratitude in action. This is why in the famed warning of Hebrews 10, the author states that it is an INSULT to the spirit of Grace, to trample upon the Son of God, after one has been sanctified. No one is sanctified who has not been first justified! And Scripture states unequivocally, by way of an a fortiori, that the one who fails to honor Christ’s sacrifice will perish, regardless of whether they were once sanctified and thereby justified. It is about honor , fundamentally.

    Implicit within the Honor-Shame framework is the understanding that grace cannot be repaid. That is why the typical riposte ala ‘you are trying to add to grace’ doesn’t work, when we read Scripture in its proper historical-critical, first century Jewish sitze in leben. Honoring a gracious gift, in fact the ultimate gracious gift which is salvation, is in fact gratitude-in-action. Living soberly, righteously and godly, is essentially an honoring of God’s grace, and has nothing to works of the law. That is why Paul takes a vow in Acts 18, he is doing it to honor the grace He had received from God (most likely protection on his trip among other things), and not as a ‘work of the law’. Works of the law, by definition, do not involve God’s grace revealed to all men, i.e., Yeshua HaMashiach. They have no room for Him, they exclude him. But the good works that we do in response to God’s grace are a response to the Messiah’s love for us. So Paul cuts his hair and takes a vow, living righteously in the process. There is nothing in Scripture indicates that such a response of honor will irresistibly happen, in fact there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. The third servant in the parable of the gold bags/talents receives just as undeserved a gift as the other two, and yet he chooses to dishonor his Master with it, burying it in the ground. “Could you have not put it in the bank at least and earned some interest?” says the Master. The Master is not offended by the servant who may be construed as ‘adding to grace’! The Master EXPECTS it, precisely because it was a gracious gift to begin with. There is no obligation here, but rather an expectation. An expectation does not entail obligation, precisely because the benefactee has the option NOT to honor the Benefactor.

    That’s why Moo has to politically navigate the academic minefield so deftly, tap dancing with his words and inflections. It’s career suicide for him to do it any differently, so I understand. But he is right, our response to Grace WILL factor into final justification, and whether we have honored God or not for what He has done, will be the standard.

    Heb 10:
    26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing , and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

    John 5:

    “22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

  36. Robert you write:

    The rapist has committed a sin that is more heinous, and the wrath he feels in hell will be far greater than the one who only sassed his mom. The point is that both are going to hell without repentance, which is standard traditional RC doctrine.

    No, this is not “ standard traditional RC doctrine.” There is a reason why Catholics make a distinction between sin that is mortal and sin that is not mortal. The child that sasses his mom does NOT deserve the punishment of everlasting torment in the flames of Hell, because that is a sin that is not mortal.

    Eric, you write:

    There’s nothing even slightly explicit in what John has to say. [i.e. in 1 John 5:16 & 17] You take a vague passage which nobody but nobody knows what it means exactly and build a whole theology of sin around it.

    Really? There is nothing explicit about the words “sin that is mortal” and “sin that is not mortal”? Eric, it seems that only Calvinists and Baptists find these words difficult to understand.

    The concept of mortal sin has been an integral part of the Christian message since the very beginning. Literally dozens of passages in the New Testament proclaim it a fearful reality, and these biblical teachings were fully accepted by, and indeed expounded upon, by the early Church Fathers. 
    .
    It was not until the time of John Calvin that anyone would claim that it was impossible for a true Christian to lose his salvation. That teaching, which was not even shared by Martin Luther and his followers, was a theological novelty of the mid-sixteenth century, a teaching which would have been condemned as a dangerous heresy by all previous generations of Christians. … Fortunately, most Christians today reject Calvin’s error, acknowledging that there are at least some mortal sins—sins which kill the spiritual life of the soul and deprive a person of salvation, unless he repents. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals—all acknowledge the possibility of mortal sin at least in some form. Only Presbyterians, Baptists, and those who have been influenced by these two sects reject the reality of mortal sin. …
    .
    Reference: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/mortal-sin

  37. SS–

    Here is a quote from a 2011 interview with Moo:

    DM: The Bible pictures all human beings as defendants in a courtroom: a courtroom in which God is the judge and our sins constitute the evidence against us. The judge weighs the evidence and finds every single one of us guilty of sin and announces that we, therefore, must be condemned. The marvelous news of justification is that God has himself provided for us the means of escaping that condemnation: by responding to his gracious initiative in faith, we become joined with Christ, who died for us and was raised for us. We become joined to Christ, who takes on himself the penalty for our sin and covers us with the ‘righteousness’ that we need to reverse the verdict of condemnation and receive the verdict of ‘justified’, ‘right’ with God. And because we have been joined to Christ, the holy one, and have in that union received the gift of God’s powerful holy Spirit, we, who have been justified, also find our lives transformed so that we love God and neighbor.

    Sounds pretty straightforward Protestant to me! I think you may have it wrong in terms of the consensus within confessionalism. Works are not “merely evidential.” They are essential without ever becoming instrumental. Our response to grace does indeed “factor into” an already accomplished/established/inevitable final justification. Moo is not “tap dancing.” He is giving a more nuanced but nonetheless faithful rendering of Protestant soteriology. For we are CREATED for good works in Christ Jesus, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

  38. Mateo–

    Literally dozens of passages, huh? (I looked some of them up…and had a good laugh!)

    Even Catholic commentaries speak of John’s topic in his first epistle as “final inpenitence” and NOT “mortal sin.” Notice how you cannot even pray for it? That’s not true of mortal sin!

    “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.”

    The only way this passage is clear is if you come to it with your mind already made up. Final inpenitence is a good guess. Early Church hamartiology is notoriously messed up. In general, they didn’t believe there was such a thing as valid repentance for major sins post baptism. The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t at all follow their take on sin, so why should you?

  39. Eric and SS,

    Sounds pretty straightforward Protestant to me! I think you may have it wrong in terms of the consensus within confessionalism. Works are not “merely evidential.” They are essential without ever becoming instrumental. Our response to grace does indeed “factor into” an already accomplished/established/inevitable final justification. Moo is not “tap dancing.” He is giving a more nuanced but nonetheless faithful rendering of Protestant soteriology. For we are CREATED for good works in Christ Jesus, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    This is well put. The Reformed confessions say that our works are not a part of our justification, but justification is only one component of our salvation, which also includes our sanctification. Part of the problem is that this is not taken into account and many equate justification with salvation. Justification guarantees that the whole complex of salvation will be accomplished but it is not in itself the whole of salvation.

    Nobody gets into heaven without works. The question when we stand before God is whether or not we can say our place in heaven is due to our works. If all grace does is enable us, then we can boast in our works. We can boast that we who received the same grace as another made the right choice while he did not. If all grace does is enable us, we save ourselves—with God’s help to be sure—but we finally get into heaven because we did the right thing and not because of the Lord. We end up deserving heaven.

  40. Robert–

    Thanks. I particularly liked this one line:

    “Justification guarantees that the whole complex of salvation will be accomplished, but it is not in itself the whole of salvation.”

    It bears mentioning that sometimes Calvinists so thoroughly stress the finality of initial justification that they relegate good works to existence as a nonessential afterthought; at other times they even appear to render the new creation in its pre-glorified state as incapable of genuinely good works.

  41. SS baldly asserts that Jesus words of loving God and loving neighbor do not refer to fulfilling the moral law but are simply a summation of the Torah.

    Jack posts what the Roman Catholic Catechism teaches:
    When someone asks him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?”8 Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.”9 The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law:

    The commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    Roman Catholic Church teaching (Part 3 Section 2 – 2055) agrees with Jack.

    SS’s response to the error of his private interpretation?

    *crickets*

    Therefore any defense by SS of his original assertion ‘is irrelevant’ in that it is inoperative, i.e. not RCC teaching nor Reformed church teaching.

  42. Jack,

    SS is not a Catholic.

  43. SS is not a Catholic.

    LOL!…. thanks, John S. This is really funny.

    Well, my point still stands (as do the *crickets*). I was initially responding to Dave H’s assertion concerning the law and love. SS comes in to object to the interpretation I wrote concerning Jesus’ summation of the Law as loving God and neighbor. I wrongly assumed he was an RC as what he wrote supported Dave H’s argument that:

    blockquote>Paul rules out the “works of the law” he does not rule out faith working through love – he teaches it.

    But for SS’s sake I’ll add this from the Westminster Larger Catechism:

    Q. 102. What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?
    A. The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God, is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.

    Q. 122. What is the sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man?
    A. The sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man, is, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to do to others what we would have them do to us.

    RC Catechism and reformed confessions and catechisms agree that Jesus was summing up the fulfilling of the moral law in the two commands of loving.

    Now back to the regularly scheduled donnybrook!

  44. Jack,

    Like John S said, SS is not RC. What you say in quoting from the CCC does apply to him, however. Love is a work of the law, so it can’t justify us. This is one of the fundamental points that the RCs around here, as well as SS, miss.

  45. Robert,

    Got it regarding SS. See my previous comment.

    Love is a work of the law, so it can’t justify us.

    The very point I have been arguing. And not only can ‘love’ not justify us, but it plays no role even as a companion to faith in justifying us.

  46. Robert,

    We don’t “miss” that point, we just don’t agree with you. If we were trying to muster up enough “love” out of our own resources, like dead branches lying on the ground trying really hard to be alive, then yeah it would be a work of the law. God’s love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. That’s what “fulfills the law.” We’ve been grafted onto the Vine. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    Jack,

    …not only can ‘love’ not justify us, but it plays no role even as a companion to faith in justifying us.

    Sez Luther and Calvin. But not the Bible.

    John

  47. John S –

    But not the Bible.

    Sez you and Rome’s medieval theology…

  48. Jack,

    Sez you and Rome’s medieval theology…

    Throw in the Fathers, and you got yourself a deal.

  49. John S,

    The old covenant Jew had the love of God poured into his heart if he was circumcised in the heart no less than the new covenant Christian, and yet that same Jew is told that his exercise of love is a work of the law.

    Love and law are not opposed. They are one. Law and faith are opposed in the writings of Paul, and then only in the matter of justification.

    When you have to create an entire system of condign and congruent merit, penance, and a host of other issues, you’re just pretending to care about what the Bible says about justification.

  50. But, you have the infallible teaching of the RC church, guaranteed no matter what. Why do you need to appeal to the ECF’s? Besides they’re not exactly always consistent on this point, i.e. somewhat of a mixed bag:

    some examples

    And I’m familiar with some of the ECF evidence that would support your view. Like I said, mixed.

    But in any event, since the ECF’s aren’t infallible, all one can do to really lend solid support to RC teaching is appeal to an infallible source, i.e Scripture. But then, even where there’s a question between Scripture and Rome’s teaching, Rome has the final trump card. I know that isn’t at all how you would frame it, but nonetheless that’s how it appears to those who doesn’t buy Rome’s claim to doctrinal infalliblity, which btw, as you know, includes the Eastern church.

    cheers…

  51. Robert,

    The old covenant Jew had the love of God poured into his heart if he was circumcised in the heart no less than the new covenant Christian, and yet that same Jew is told that his exercise of love is a work of the law.

    Where? Please show me one place where Paul tells the Jew that love is a “work of the law.”

    Love and law are not opposed. They are one. Law and faith are opposed in the writings of Paul, and then only in the matter of justification.

    I believe this is what they call “bare assertion.” Anyway, Robert, you’re collapsing Paul’s whole complex argument about the law. Love fulfills the law. That’s precisely what the “works of the law” don’t do when they don’t proceed from a circumcised heart.

    When you have to create an entire system of condign and congruent merit, penance, and a host of other issues,…

    I didn’t create it. I received it from my Mother the Church, who has discerned it over the course of two millennia of lovingly studying, praying over, and wrestling with the imperishable Word of Her Divine Spouse.

    In fact, in my view the “created system” in play here is the justification-sanctification, faith-love, imputed righteousness-inchoate righteousness dichotomy that has been falsely imposed on the text of Holy Scripture, creating a remarkably flexible system of exegetical trapdoors that allows any “problem” verse to be explained away.

    …you’re just pretending to care about what the Bible says about justification.

    Ad hominem arguments are not helpful. But for the record, I care deeply about what the Bible says about justification. Please don’t pretend to read my heart.

    best,
    John

  52. If all grace does is enable us, then we can boast in our works. We can boast that we who received the same grace as another made the right choice while he did not. If all grace does is enable us, we save ourselves—with God’s help to be sure—but we finally get into heaven because we did the right thing and not because of the Lord. We end up deserving heaven.

    This is the non sequitur that flows from your medieval paradigm. Under the correct paradigm however, which is one of Honor-Shame, there is no possibility of boasting, because the honorable Benefector is recognized as the source of every good gift, be it daily provision, future provision of services etc. That is why Christ reminds his servants that they are only ‘doing their duty’ in Luke 17:10. The duty in view here, is to honor the Benefactor, precisely because everything is owed to him. Under an Honor-Shame model, no one gets to boast, and this will remain true no matter how many times you try to make the now disproved objection.

  53. Jack,

    None of the quotes on the page you linked to is incompatible with Catholic teaching on justification.

    As for the rest, you’re just changing the subject. The accusation of sola ecclesia or solo magisterio or solo papa or whatever the slogan du jour is, is boring and not on topic.

    The point is this: I can read the Bible. I can read how the Fathers and medievals read the Bible. I can read how Luther and Calvin read the Bible and the Reformed tradition reads it. I’ve done so, and I think Trent got it right. I thought that before I even became a Catholic. It’s bad form to turn around and say, “Well, you would think that, because, you know, infallibility and whatnot.”

    And when iconoclastic Protestants who do not venerate the most holy Theotokos pull the “Eastern” card, the irony overwhelms my brain activity. So I’m skipping that part 🙂

    best,
    John

  54. Well, my point still stands (as do the *crickets*). I was initially responding to Dave H’s assertion concerning the law and love. SS comes in to object to the interpretation I wrote concerning Jesus’ summation of the Law as loving God and neighbor. I wrongly assumed he was an RC as what he wrote supported Dave H’s argument that:

    You are slow of understanding obviously. Again, you wrote that Jesus was summing up the ‘works of the law’ when He pointed to the 2 great commandments. You believe that ‘works of the law’ and ‘law’ are coterminous in Paul which is entirely question begging. They are not. Said most succintly, the ‘works of the law’ are those works which are generated under a Christ-less paradigm. They have no power to save. But now that Christ has redeemed His people, by the pistis Christou, the faithfulness OF Christ now actualized in the believer, the law (which Paul describes as holy, good and spiritual) becomes alive and is fulfilled in believers, who then fulfill it themselves, being icons of Christ and bearing fruit after His pioneering pattern (John 15:1-8).

    “He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    But for SS’s sake I’ll add this from the Westminster Larger Catechism:

    Q. 102. What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?
    A. The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God, is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.

    Q. 122. What is the sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man?
    A. The sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man, is, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to do to others what we would have them do to us.

    RC Catechism and reformed confessions and catechisms agree that Jesus was summing up the fulfilling of the moral law in the two commands of loving.

    Now back to the regularly scheduled donnybrook!

    Speaking of crickets, where are your answers to my questions earlier, below:

    Here is question for you Miller: if Jesus abolished the Torah, why did He tell the Pharisees to tithe on their dill and cumin as well? That’s #1. #2, do you tithe Miller? I assume you do. If that’s true, if from this day to to the day you die you willingly and knowingly refuse to tithe, despite your ability to do so, will you have loved your neighbor as yourself, knowing that your tithe would go to help your neighbor? If your answer is no to that, then do you expect to be justified or do you have the hope of righteousness as Paul says in Gal 5:5,6? If you say yes I will be justified regardless, then why did Jesus mourn over the rich young ruler’s fate then?

    Do not dodge the questions, answer each one of them please.

  55. Law and faith are opposed in the writings of Paul, and then only in the matter of justification.

    Is that so? Then explain this one to me:

    Acts 24:

    “14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”

  56. SS,

    You’ll have to explain to me why you think that quote from Acts is pertinent, because I have no idea why you think it is.

    As far as the “disproved” objection, you still haven’t answered the simple question as to how two people who both receive the same ennabling grace end up making different choices. Why does person A make the right choice but person B doesn’t and fail to persevere. At the end of the day, if my salvation is dependent on my cooperation and I can refuse to cooperate even if I have ennabling grace, my cooperation is a good thing, something in which to boast.

    You can say “I don’t know why person A chooses” and that would be more acceptable. Throwing out honor-shame language doesn’t answer the question if two people receive the same ennabling grace. There’s nothing medieval about the question. Why does Tom persevere and not Tim if both receive the same grace?

  57. John S,

    The works of the law are those things which the law commands, and the law commands us to love our neighbors in Leviticus 19. Paul is quite clear that Abraham is justified the same way we are justified in the new covenant, which means it cannot be by love because works of the law justify no one.

    Love fulfills the law, which at minimum means that to love is to do the law.

  58. SS –

    you wrote

    You are slow of understanding obviously.

    Matthew 7:12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
    Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    The law is given for man to do. Adam could have and didn’t. Fallen man can’t. Christ did… for all who believe!

    Moses, “Do this and live.” Paul, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

    I have no argument with the fact that by the works of the law there can be no salvation for fallen man. Though, depending on what you mean, I take issue with your phrase:

    But now that Christ has redeemed His people, by the pistis Christou, the faithfulness OF Christ now actualized in the believer, the law (which Paul describes as holy, good and spiritual) becomes alive and is fulfilled in believers, who then fulfill it themselves, being icons of Christ and bearing fruit after His pioneering pattern

    And nowhere am I arguing that Christ abolished the law. For he came to fulfill the law and the teaching of the N.T. is clear that the moral law is still binding, not as a means to salvation but as a guide for godly living by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit. If you’ve read my other comments you would know that I in no way affirm that one can be saved through works of the law, rather only through trusting in Christ’s taking the law’s penalty for our sin upon himself and fulfilling all the righteous demands of the law for his people – the good news of his death and resurrection. I’ll pass on adding anything further in response to your rather rude questioning.

  59. SS,

    Said most succintly, the ‘works of the law’ are those works which are generated under a Christ-less paradigm.

    Wrong. The works of the law are whatever the law commands. See Moo’s Romans commentary on this if, in fact, you respect him like you say you do.

    The Judaizers in Galatia certainly thought they had a Christ paradigm—see just about every commentary ever written on Galatians from every theological perspective—and Paul condemns them for trying to add obedience to Torah to faith for justification.

  60. Robert,

    You guys are the D team, the Dodgers, lol.

    Yes, considering the Honor-Shame setting of the 1st century does indeed answer all your questions, no matter how many times you wish to reassert them. The H-S paradigm does not preclude one from not reciprocating towards the Benefactor, this is entirely possible for some. And life itself testifies to this. How many times have we witnessed this in our own lives, where an honorable giver is trampled upon? And the ones that do indeed reciprocate, and act honorably having received a great gift, are doing so precisely because they know they cannot repay. It is intrinsic to the model, which you are either ignorant of or are feigning ignorance of. Go read David DeSilva, Bruce Malina, Ben Witherington if you don’t understand.

  61. The Judaizers in Galatia certainly thought they had a Christ paradigm—see just about every commentary ever written on Galatians from every theological perspective—and Paul condemns them for trying to add obedience to Torah to faith for justification

    The works of the law are works which have no correlation to Christ. Circumcision for a gentile has nothing to do with Christ, because it has been superceded and transcended by baptism into Christ. That’s why Paul was against it, because it’s trying to fit a new man (a gentile, not a jew) into old clothes. He was not against the Law itself, practicing it Himself as per Acts 18, 21, 24, 26. And in Galatians 5:5 he points to the future HOPE of righteousness, dikaiosunes, and ties it to faith working through love, i.e., the fulfillment of the Law, enabled by the Spirit.

  62. Jack Miller,

    Since you are a newcomer to this site, and have not participated in the discussion that has taken place over the last year plus, I’m copying my earlier writing on Gal 3:10-13

    Let’s look at Gal 3:10-12 and the curse of the law:

    10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”

    Paul uses Deut 27:26, Hab 2:4 and Leviticus 18:5 to frame a dialectical argument by way of a chiasmus taking this iteration ABB’A’, where:

    A: But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident
    B: For the just shall live by faith
    B’: But the law is not of faith
    A’: But the one who does them shall live by them.

    This dialetic is the product of a very sophisticated mind, and one that is easily misunderstood (cf. 2 Peter 3). Paul in the above is not simply saying that the law is powerless to save. If that were all he needed to say he most certainly would have not chosen such a complex literary tool to make the point he wanted to make… He’s a bit more nuanced than that, unfortunately for naive western minds accustomed to thinking in binary terms.

    He begins with the A statement, that no one will be justified by the law in the sight of God, echoes of Gal 2:15-16 where he affirmed earlier that Peter and himself as Jews already know that , hence the ‘evident’ bit. He would have been very aware of the parable of the Pharisee and Publican, taught by a fellow Jew, his master Yeshua and he begins by an appeal to that fact. It is our intention that matters, our heart, not the externals.

    Then comes B where he now appeals to Hab 2:4. Why does he appeal to Habakkuk? For two reasons, one tactical and the other dialectical: the Jews themselves would not be in any position to deny that faith/fulness is in view (given the covenantal overtones of the verse and the promise of return from exile) and secondly, faith/fulness stands in stark contrast to law keeping devoid of intention. Note that this is not law-keeping as ‘legalism’ but rather a nomism which is devoid of the kavanagh which comes from belief in Messiah. We are talking about a vacuum caused by the absence of Christ; this is fundamentally about the salvation-historical/cosmic significance of the Christ-Event. Paul is saying the Scriptures bear witness to this reality: there are two fundamentally opposed ideas here which we must resolve.

    He then repeats the dialectical argument in B’ and A’ by introducing a variation on B and appealing to Leviticus 18:5 for the variation on A. At this point what the Jew really wants to know is this: how will we live by them? How is this possible? They may very well at this juncture, point to David’s pessimism in Psalm 143, that no one is righteous before God.

    And it is precisely at this point of vulnerability that Paul delivers the coup de grace: he resolves the tension and synthesizes the two fundamentally opposed ideas in vv. 13-14: in the liberation from the curse by the Messiah’s faithfulness:

    “13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law , having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    It is through this same Spirit that we can now be doers of the law and be justified, and that is why we sing “Far as the curse is found”. This takes place when we walk in the Spirit and not after the flesh, by virtue of the redemption afforded us by Christ.

  63. SS,

    The H-S paradigm does not preclude one from not reciprocating towards the Benefactor, this is entirely possible for some. And life itself testifies to this. How many times have we witnessed this in our own lives, where an honorable giver is trampled upon? And the ones that do indeed reciprocate, and act honorably having received a great gift, are doing so precisely because they know they cannot repay. It is intrinsic to the model, which you are either ignorant of or are feigning ignorance of. Go read David DeSilva, Bruce Malina, Ben Witherington if you don’t understand.

    I’ve read Witherington, and both he and you aren’t answering the question.

    You believe that someone can be regenerate and not persevere, right? Why do two people who start out knowing the can’t repay end up in different spots with only one of them believing he can’t repay? If it’s the same grace, something has to be different between them? Saying that we see people trample on gifts doesn’t answer that question. Of course we see that. Why do we see that? What is different about the one who perseveres? Why does he keep on believing?

    That’s the question you aren’t answering.

  64. I marvel at your obstinacy.

    He keeps on believing because of the Great Grace of God poured out in Jesus Christ!

    That is the answer, so why pretend as if there is no answer. Your question isn’t what you think it is, it is stuck in medieval theology that was wrong and remains mistaken to this day.

    Tell me you don’t like my answer, and I can accept that. But don’t tell me I have not answered you.

  65. Robert,

    Why did the first two servants in the parable of the gold bags/talents persevere and produce a return on their Master’s gift/investment?

    And why were they complimented as “good and faithful servant”?

  66. Wrong. The works of the law are whatever the law commands. See Moo’s Romans commentary on this if, in fact, you respect him like you say you do.

    I respect Moo because he has the guts and integrity to apply the mantra of his own, “semper reformanda” to the medievals’ conclusions, as opposed to simply regurgitating what they said, and not because I agree with everything he has. I’m sure you can appreciate the distinction.

  67. SS–

    You have not answered Robert. As a matter of fact, you have not even attempted to answer him.

    Go ahead and explain the good and faithful boasting servants to him….

  68. SS,

    My simple answer is that the parable you are using isn’t talking about justification, which is where Paul says no boasting is to be found. But we can get into more detail after you answer my question.

    Saying “because of the grace of God poured out in Jesus Christ” isn’t an answer because you hold—I think—that it is possible for one who has truly received that grace to reject it. Two people have the same grace poured out. One perseveres and the other doesn’t. One makes the good choice and the other doesn’t. Why?

    There aren’t many possible answers:

    1. The same grace is not poured out on both and one conversion is ultimately a sham or visible only (the Reformed)
    2. One is more good than the other inherently and thus makes the right decision (no one says this formally except for maybe Pelagius)
    3. I don’t know why, but I know it can’t be because God elects only some and gives grace only to some and it can’t be because one is better than the other (most Arminians)

    The RC and EO could basically affirm 3, although they’d mix in a good bit more sacramentalism than the typical Arminian Protestant.

    If I may read between the lines, your answer is actually number 3, which is respectable. Just be honest about it. I would argue that logically answer #3 reduces to #2, but most of those who deny the Reformed doctrines of grace can’t see it. But that’s another discussion.

    So, why do two people upon whom Jesus gives the same grace make different decisions?

  69. My simple answer is that the parable you are using isn’t talking about justification, which is where Paul says no boasting is to be found. But we can get into more detail after you answer my question.

    It is absolutely talking about future justification, as Paul says in Romans 2:13

    “for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified

    So to you and Eric and every Calvinist I ask:

    Is Paul teaching you that you can boast in your future justification? Yes or no?

    Answer the question.

    Saying “because of the grace of God poured out in Jesus Christ” isn’t an answer because you hold—I think—that it is possible for one who has truly received that grace to reject it. Two people have the same grace poured out. One perseveres and the other doesn’t. One makes the good choice and the other doesn’t. Why?

    Here’s the inherent flaw in your question: it is basically a meaningless question , of the kind that says “Can God make a rock that He is incapable of lifting?”. Why is it meaningless? Because implicit in the question is a contrariety in its premises. God’s omnipotence does not include, logically, that which is logically impossible. Likewise, it is illogical to be persevering in the faith until those words are said “Well done, good and faithful servant”, and be boasting about this perseverance all along or at the end. Because perseverance, by definition , logically rules out boasting . And this assuming that said boasting is not the boasting which Paul speaks of here:

    2 Cor 10:

    ” 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. ” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”

    Your question is illogical and meaningless. Do you have the honesty to recognize that?

  70. John S

    None of the quotes on the page you linked to is incompatible with Catholic teaching on justification.

    Nor with Reformed, and that would go for those quotes that would seem to favor RC. That’s my point. ECF’s can be argued either way. Except RCs assume the ECFs are their exclusive property.

    The point is this: I can read the Bible. I can read how the Fathers and medievals read the Bible. I can read how Luther and Calvin read the Bible and the Reformed tradition reads it. I’ve done so, and I think Trent got it right. I thought that before I even became a Catholic. It’s bad form to turn around and say, “Well, you would think that, because, you know, infallibility and what not.”

    Where did I write what you just put into quotes? That isn’t what I said, nor meant. Of course you can read all those sources and come to conclusions. “I think Trent got it right.” But at the end of the day does that really matter unless it comports with your church’s teaching? If you really thought an RC teaching was wrong at any point, there is no church mechanism for correction. Which, of course, would never be necessary because whatever the church teaches is true in the RCC world. No longer a Paul needed who could tell a Francis, wait a minute! Btw, how did Peter the first Pope get things so mixed up at the church in Galatia? (rhetorical…) Apparently he needed correction.

    Bad form? Are we getting a little sensitive with the ‘iconoclastic’ Protestants…

    Your last comment seems to avoid the point I was making, which I added was obvious. The EO, a not-insignificant church also rejects Papal infallibility. To imply that a Protestant can’t state that fact because they have other issues with EO is beside the point. I might tell a Mormon, that not only Protestants disagree with the so-called infallibility of their book of Mormon, but also Roman Catholics. Do I undermined my claim because we don’t hold to the superstition of Mary’s non-Scriptural immaculate conception?

    carry on…

  71. SS,

    Do you subscribe to the N.T. Wright teachings on justification? I’m just wondering…

  72. Jack,

    I think N.T Wright, as Douglas Moo has been intimating recently with his amended views on Gal 5:5-6, is closer to the truth on justification. But he does not have it fully orbed, because he like other protestants has not grasped the significance of the Honor paradigm as the key backdrop for the New Testament. More precisely, I’m sure he knows of the paradigm but unfortunately he has not connected the dots and allowed its implications to alter his views on perseverance. I give him credit however for unambiguously pointing to a future justification which will be on the basis of response to the grace of God. As a side note, I find his response to Piper most regrettable, and wish he had taken the time to honor Piper’s book and questions, the latter’s naivete not withstanding.

    The error that Protestantism makes is this: that one can reject the grace of God in no way obviates said grace as THE reason for our perseverance. This is simply a non sequitur. It is as logical as saying that if today is not Tuesday, then it must be Friday… It is indeed, 100% the grace of God, and nothing else in or of ourselves, which motivates us to persevere. That some may depart from that grace of God does not and will never change the latter motivation for those who are doers of the law and finally justified: Rom 2:13, where Paul is proleptically hinting at Rom 8:1-4 and the outworking of his thesis, where he shows us HOW that doing of the law happens, or indeed, in what manner he establishes the Law (Rom 3:31).

  73. SS,

    The question is not meaningless. So you have no answer. Just say you don’t know. If two people receive the same grace and one rejects it and one doesn’t, there is a reason why. Maybe God hasn’t revealed it. That would be an honest answer as well, though I would disagree.

    It’s not a hard question. It’s not an illogical question. We see people who apparently received the same grace apostatize every day. There’s a reason why, just as there’s a reason why some people reject grace given to them by other people. There is nothing implicitly contradictory in the query such as the question as to how an omnipotent being could contradict his own omnipotence. You just don’t have an answer. What I think is more likely is that you are scared of thinking through the logical implications of how the question is answered.

    I affirm that perseverance is partly my effort. I affirm that those who receive the grace of God truly also receive the gift of perseverance. God gives it to me without me even asking for it. That’s grace. Perseverance is not presumption. There is indeed a sense in which one cannot be said to persevere until one gets into glory. That’s why all good Calvinists take Scripture’s warnings into account and reject the once saved always saved perversion of perseverance. If I have no concern to obey God, I’m not regenerate.

    If God’s grace can truly be rejected at the end of the day, then the final deciding factor in my salvation is me. I need God’s grace, but it is never enough because it guarantees nothing. That’s not fundamentally different from any non-Christian view of salvation. Muslims believe they need God’s help too.

    Answer the question.

    Romans 2:13: Yes, all who do the law will be justified. No one does the law. That’s the point of the gospel. You and Jason take Romans 2:13 and ignore virtually everything between it and Romans 8. You ignore Paul’s comment in Galatians 3 that the curse is on all who rely on the law not because they lack a Christocentric praxis and paradigm but because cursed is everyone who does not do ALL that is written in the law. It’s perfection, and forcing an “honor-shame” reading onto the plain statements of Paul does not do away with that. It’s why Paul says that if one accepts circumcision, one must take on the yoke of the whole law.

    If you start trying to add law-keeping to Christ, fine, just realize that no slip-ups are allowed.

    Finally, Moo is not saying anything that the Reformed have not said before him. Someone like Michael Horton might not like his comments, but Horton has been criticized for misreading Calvin and other significant figures in the Reformed tradition. Moo is not a systematic or historical theologian, and any reading of Calvin or even the Westminster Confession is entirely fitting with what he has said.

  74. SS,

    The error that Protestantism makes is this: that one can reject the grace of God in no way obviates said grace as THE reason for our perseverance. This is simply a non sequitur. It is as logical as saying that if today is not Tuesday, then it must be Friday… It is indeed, 100% the grace of God, and nothing else in or of ourselves, which motivates us to persevere. That some may depart from that grace of God does not and will never change the latter motivation for those who are doers of the law and finally justified: Rom 2:13, where Paul is proleptically hinting at Rom 8:1-4 and the outworking of his thesis, where he shows us HOW that doing of the law happens, or indeed, in what manner he establishes the Law (Rom 3:31).

    We’re not really talking about motivation. We’re talking about why the motivation works in some people and not in others. That’s the question. Why does grace motivate some regenerate to persevere to the end but not all the regenerate (unless you want to affirm that the regenerate can never lose that regeneration, in which case John Calvin would be quite proud of you)?

  75. The question is not meaningless. So you have no answer. Just say you don’t know. If two people receive the same grace and one rejects it and one doesn’t, there is a reason why. Maybe God hasn’t revealed it. That would be an honest answer as well, though I would disagree.

    More precisely, the objection you have is meaningless and your objection flows from your question. Your objection is this: that if some who are truly justified can fall away, it then follows that the one who perseveres has something to boast about. That proposition is what is truly, meaningless, because it contains a logical contrariety. Again, one cannot be said to be persevere and in that perseverance, boast. That is what you are saying one can do, but it is an illogical, and irrational theological proposition.

    Romans 2:13: Yes, all who do the law will be justified. No one does the law. That’s the point of the gospel. You and Jason take Romans 2:13 and ignore virtually everything between it and Romans 8. You ignore Paul’s comment in Galatians 3 that the curse is on all who rely on the law not because they lack a Christocentric praxis and paradigm but because cursed is everyone who does not do ALL that is written in the law. It’s perfection, and forcing an “honor-shame” reading onto the plain statements of Paul does not do away with that. It’s why Paul says that if one accepts circumcision, one must take on the yoke of the whole law

    Augustine: “On the Spirit and the Letter”

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1502.htm

    chapter 44:

    “13 Who they are that are treated of in these words, he goes on to tell us: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law,” Romans 2:14 and so forth in the passage which I have quoted already. Evidently, therefore, no others are here signified under the name of Gentiles than those whom he had before designated by the name of “Greek” when he said, “To the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16 Since then the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes, to the Jew first, and, also to the Greek;” Romans 1:16 and since “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, are upon every soul of man that does evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek: but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that does good; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek;” since, moreover, the Greek is indicated by the term “Gentiles” who do by nature the things contained in the law, and which have the work of the law written in their hearts: it follows that such Gentiles as have the law written in their hearts belong to the gospel, since to them, on their believing, it is the power of God unto salvation. To what Gentiles, however, would he promise glory, and honour, and peace, in their doing good works, if living without the grace of the gospel? Since there is no respect of persons with God, Romans 2:11 and since it is not the hearers of the law, but the doers thereof, that are justified, Romans 2:13 it follows that any man of any nation, whether Jew or Greek, who shall believe, will equally have salvation under the gospel…

    Augustine disagrees with you. He says that those spoken in Romans 2:13 ARE doing the law. If you don’t listen to me, or to NT Wright, or to Don Garlington, or to Ben Witherington, will you listen to Augustine?

    Re Gal 3, it is precisely because they are lacking a Christo-Centric praxis and are relying on the law that they are cursed. Christ, as I have explained above, came to redeem them from the curse so that they can receive as gentiles, the blessing of the Spirit. It is God Himself who revealed to Peter not to call that which is common, unclean, (i.e., the gentiles, Acts 10:28,29) just as Christ healed the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter, ignoring her ethnicity. Yes, if a gentile takes on circumcision now that Baptism is here, he is effectively nullifying Christ, and saying, being buried in Christ and raised with Christ is not sufficient for me! No wonder he is cursed.

    So, again Robert, when Paul says that the doers of the law WILL be Justified, is he giving you grounds to boast? Yes or no?

  76. Why does grace motivate some regenerate to persevere to the end but not all the regenerate

    Because Grace, ontologically speaking entails freedom. Grace does not coerce, it does not impose, it does not force itself upon the one who departs from it. Grace honors all of its recipients, even those who reject it, by granting them what they desire. Not all the regenerate persevere in their love of God.

    Again, that one can reject the grace of God in no way obviates said grace as THE reason for our perseverance. To assert the contrary is a non sequitur, through and through.

    I know this bursts your bubble, but it is what it is.

  77. Robert,

    Perhaps an illustration will help. 2 true stories. In the first, a child, the product of rape/assault, is saved from abortion by the biological mother, despite her husband’s request for one. He says to the mother, you have 2 choices: an abortion or a divorce. She decides to take the third choice, and honor God, keeping the baby to term and eventually giving it up for adoption by a Christian couple. That baby girl grows up to eventually be homecoming queen at her college and is so thankful for the gift of life that she has had, that she starts an organization called “Light up Life” a Christian adoption advocacy group which seeks to give a voice to the voiceless, i.e., the unwanted unborn. Molly is no less than a living example of the power of Grace.

    Why is she motivated? Because of the power of Grace that enables her to live the life the she has! It is grace which compels her to say “Thank You”. It truly was amazing grace, on the part of her mother, because it took a painful and unwanted divorce, with all of the stigma and fear/anxiety that goes with that, to do what she had to do, which was to preserve Molly’s life. Molly perseveres BECAUSE of Grace. Not because of anything inside of her.

    Now, the second story: A very kind couple dedicated to the fight against poverty decides to adopt a little boy gripped by poverty. The husband works as a clinical psychologist with inmates and delinquent juveniles and is good at his job. The wife is a physician’s assistant and goes the extra mile to get even the homeless in to see a doctor. They are known as the kindest of people you could ever meet. So it’s no surprise when in 2002, they announce to their family and friends that they are adopting little Moses, aged 6. They shower him with love, giving him all the things that he could ever need and want. His mom drives him to school, to karate lessons. But he eventually drifts away and 10 years later, begins to hang out with the Occupy Wall Street crowd in Oakland. Then one day, after an argument with his parents over his involvement in the movement and marijuana and violent video games, Moses does the unthinkable: he strangles them to death and sets fire to their car. He returns violence for Grace.

    What you are truly asking is this: why won’t some people return grace for grace, instead rejecting grace and doing much worse in response. And the answer to that lies in the freedom that God has given to His creation, even mankind, to do that. That to me, is an infinitely amazing feature of Grace, no one can fathom that decision, because it is so pregnant and loaded with Divine forbearance and love which are beyond our comprehension. Why would he give us THAT much freedom?

    I believe it is partly because He loves us to that extent, even to the extent of allowing us to reject the unrejectable… Is it irrational to do that? Yes it is. But human beings prefer the irrational sometimes (I have Richard Dawkins). They just do, and there’s no need to look further than that. That they simply have the freedom to do that is a tragedy of epic proportions, but I can still rejoice in the fact that God will redeem His earth and bring justice for all one day, be it restorative, or retributive.

    Matt. 23:37
    “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

  78. Dear Jack,

    I disagree about the Fathers. The quotes you linked to are compatible with Trent. It would be easy to find plenty of quotes from the Fathers that are not compatible with your claim that it is faith apart from charity that justifies. That’s not what St Augustine said, and he’s typically claimed as the closest to the Reformed. E.g.:

    For, “to him that believes in Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted unto him for righteousness.” What then is “to believe in Him”? By believing to love Him, by believing to esteem highly, by believing to go into Him and to be incorporated in His members. It is faith itself then that God exacts from us: and He finds not that which He exacts, unless He has bestowed what He may find. What faith, but that which the apostle has most amply defined in another place, saying, “Neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that works by love?” Not any faith of what kind soever, but “faith that works by love.”

    Tractates on John 29.6

    For the rest, unless you venerate holy icons, you’re “iconoclastic.” That’s just a definitional thing. And it’s a marker of your distance from the Eastern Orthodox.

    And of course I’m aware that the EO do not accept papal primacy as defined by Vatican I. My point was twofold: First, papal — or more broadly, ecclesial — infallibility wasn’t the issue, so it’s a red herring for you to bring it up, as if I’m incapable of discussing scripture because I also believe in the infallibility of the Catholic Church. That move is “bad form” if you’re interested in more than scoring points. Are you? Second, like I said, I just can’t take it seriously when Protestants appeal to the EO. Our relationship with them is so qualitatively different from our relationship with Protestants, that it just sounds…funny. Sorry if that bugs you. But especially when we’re talking about sola fide…I mean, ask any EO what they think about sola fide.

    best,
    John

  79. John S.–

    We do not disagree with Augustine. It is NOT a faith of “what kind soever” which saves, but a “faith that works through love.” Nevertheless, it is also NOT a genuine, trusting “faith working through love” which saves, but that faith itself alone.

    We can logically divide mind and thought, but (nearly all) minds inevitably think. We’re doing a similar thing between a genuine, trusting faith and the works it produces, in order to preserve the kind of humility appropriate to an encounter with the living God.

  80. SS,

    If you want to know what I think about boasting etc. in relation to Romans 2, see Doug Moo because I follow his reading of Romans 2 pretty much down the line. If a person thinks their grounds for getting into heaven is an any way due to the fact that they do the law, they have reason to boast. And that is true even if their doing of the law is grace enabled, because the fact of the matter is, if God shows the same grace to everybody and only one makes the right choice, there is something noteworthy about that person. Now a Thomist might say that at the end of the day God does not show the same grace to everyone and that our doing of the law is still the grounds of our heavenly citizenship. At that point, he is just being inconsistent.

    I appreciate the illustrations, but I was right about your answer to my questions, and that is your answer is “I don’t know.” That’s an honest answer. I think it is a cop-out and that libertarian freedom is incoherent, but you’ve already identified yourself essentially as a Molinist so I understand. Good luck trying to find that in Scripture; even Craig can’t.

  81. @Robert:

    The works of the law are those things which the law commands,

    I don’t accept that premise. Paul uses “works of the law” in a technical sense: outward observance that doesn’t flow from a circumcised heart.

    Through Christ God gives us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit pours Trinitarian love into our hearts. That love fulfills the law. That doesn’t assimilate charity to “works of the law,” bu t rather enables Paul to say that “the just requirement [dikaioma] of the law [is] fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8.4).

    @Eric:
    I’m familiar with the distinction Protestants make between “faith alone” and “faith that is alone.” But I don’t believe that either Scripture or the Fathers, including Augustine, make that distinction.

    blessings,
    John

  82. John S,

    I don’t accept that premise. Paul uses “works of the law” in a technical sense: outward observance that doesn’t flow from a circumcised heart.

    Wrong. Paul clearly views David as being saved by faith on account of having a circumcised heart. Unless you want to be a dispensationalist of the radical kind, you have to believe that the old covenant saints were saved the same way new covenant saints are. And Paul still says that David’s righteousness is imputed apart from works. He had works of the law that flowed from his circumcised heart, and he still isn’t justified by them.

  83. Hi Jack,

    We can agree to disagree (which we do) but it is more fun to dig deeper for truth and I do appreciate your agreeable way of disagreeing. 🙂

    Agreed. But there is the issue of priority and instrumentality or by what means we do receive that justification that Christ purchased with his blood. Granted, you point to verses that speak of baptism and the remission of sins. Sacramentally they are intimately connected. Not that I will convince otherwise… as this was the issue of the Reformation. But baptism though commanded is nonetheless a work, something commanded for one ‘to do.’ Its sacramental correlation to justification and regeneration doesn’t equate causality. And that is what I meant when I said there are verses that one can infer your claim but it doesn’t stand in in light of other more clear and explicit texts on justification.

    I used to say the same exact think about them being intimately connected. We must have both heard that from the same (unscriptural) place. 😉

    We need to let those verses say what they say without explaining them away. That is a uniquely Protestant thing. I will tell you, as a Catholic, it is very freeing to not have to do that anymore.

    We are also commanded to believe. So by your own standard belief is a work. We are commanded ‘to do’ it. So if baptism is a work, so is faith.

    But let’s look a little closer. Is faith not a gift since it is commanded of us? No. It is a gift. Likewise, we are commanded to be baptized. This command is not a command to do something it is a command to receive something. There is a huge difference. Baptism is a liturgical action done to someone by God, via human agency. It is no more of a work than receiving Holy Communion is. Both are gifts to be received – like all Sacraments.

    It really does require a cognitive shift away from reading scripture with Protestant preconceptions. Once this happens you begin to see the overwhelming Sacramental nature of Jesus actions and many actions throughout scripture. Jesus could heal a blind man with a thought or a word. But instead he chooses to make a paste of common elements, spit and dirt which he smears on his eyes to effect the healing.
    He commands people to take ritual baths – similar to certain OT healings. We are instructed to use oil to effect physical healing. I could go on and on, cloth, shadows etc.

    God is pleased to use His creation, the mundane things for holy purposes in a completely gratuitious was that has absolutely nothing to do with the Protestant borderline gnostic idea that anything that has a physical element rises to the occasion of “works righteousness”.

    I have to run but I do have a question pertaining the Galations passage. How does one live by faith? What does it look like? And how does this passage harmonize all the other things that Paul, The Lord, James etc. said about faith without works being dead. It does not say faith without works is not-real faith, it says it is dead – as in non-effectual.

    Why are those passages even in there? Why did Jesus focus so much time on things that Paul “corrects”? Scripture sure does not seem perpescuous.

  84. If you want to know what I think about boasting etc. in relation to Romans 2, see Doug Moo because I follow his reading of Romans 2 pretty much down the line. If a person thinks their grounds for getting into heaven is an any way due to the fact that they do the law, they have reason to boast.

    Doug Moo isn’t my pope. I have referred to him only because he is a respected theologian in protestant quarters and not because I feel compelled to agree with everything he says. I’m also well aware of the standard reasoning on the law and boasting, it is a feudal/medieval concept and deeply flawed. A lot has happened in 500 years people, wake up! I believe in the faith once and for all delivered, but to put it in your terms, what happened to “Semper Reformanda”? If you’re wrong you gotta revise right? Then why the infatuation and obsession with a bunch of violent and naïve theologians from Germany? What good has ever come out of Germany? Can someone tell me?

    And that is true even if their doing of the law is grace enabled, because the fact of the matter is, if God shows the same grace to everybody and only one makes the right choice, there is something noteworthy about that person. Now a Thomist might say that at the end of the day God does not show the same grace to everyone and that our doing of the law is still the grounds of our heavenly citizenship. At that point, he is just being inconsistent. I appreciate the illustrations, but I was right about your answer to my questions, and that is your answer is “I don’t know.” That’s an honest answer. I think it is a cop-out and that libertarian freedom is incoherent, but you’ve already identified yourself essentially as a Molinist so I understand. Good luck trying to find that in Scripture; even Craig can’t.

    You either still don’t understand or are feigning ignorance. Either way, you are wrong. Here let me simplify it for you:

    Why do the regenerate persevere? Because of the Grace/Love of God.

    Why do the regenerate fall away? We don’t know, it is an unexplicable tragedy, even in God’s eyes. See Isaiah 5 below:

    Isaiah 5:

    I will sing for the one I love
    a song about his vineyard:
    My loved one had a vineyard
    on a fertile hillside.
    2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones
    and planted it with the choicest vines.
    He built a watchtower in it
    and cut out a winepress as well.
    Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
    but it yielded only bad fruit.

    3 “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,
    judge between me and my vineyard.
    4 What more could have been done for my vineyard
    than I have done for it?

    When I looked for good grapes,
    why did it yield only bad?

  85. Robert, you write:

    Two people have the same grace poured out. One perseveres and the other doesn’t. One makes the good choice and the other doesn’t. Why?
    There aren’t many possible answers:
    1. The same grace is not poured out on both and one conversion is ultimately a sham or visible only (the Reformed)
    2. One is more good than the other inherently and thus makes the right decision (no one says this formally except for maybe Pelagius)
    3. I don’t know why, but I know it can’t be because God elects only some and gives grace only to some and it can’t be because one is better than the other (most Arminians)

    There is the another explanation that you refuse to accept. It has to do with the fact that God is sovereign.

    Out of nothing, God exercised His sovereign will to create inanimate things like rocks; God exercised His sovereign to create living things like plants; God exercised His Sovereign to create living things like animals. And God also exercised His sovereign will to create living things like angels and human beings, and God has decreed that these created beings would be able to make choices for good or evil while they were in a state of grace – real choices that involve life or death.

    Why do some angels and some human beings make choices that bring about their death? It is because God, who is sovereign, has willed that angels and men should be free to make that choice.

    The devils were once angels in a state of grace when they chose to exercise their freewill to rebel against God. Adam and Eve were in a state of grace when they chose to exercise their freewill to disobey God and eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Regenerated men and women in a state of grace that are living in our world can also exercise their freewill to rebel against God by committing sin. Why can regenerated men and women make choices that will cause them to fall from grace? Because God, who is sovereign, has willed that they can make real choices for good or evil.

    I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live,
    loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you …
    Deuteronomy 30:19-30

    You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. Gal 5:4

    A man who is in a state of grace has to make choices throughout his life that involve life or death. It doesn’t take grace to make a choice that will cause you to fall from grace.

    The Calvinists are living in a fantasy world if they think that there is such a thing as an “irresitble grace” that takes away a man’s ability to make real choices that could cause him to fall from grace. The sovereign Lord has decreed that it is to be otherwise, and no amount of wishful thinking on the part of Calvinists is going to change what God has decreed.

  86. Dear Robert,

    That’s a fair point. You are right that Paul does not limit “works of the law” to the outward observances of those who do not have justifying faith. To be more precise, then, I should say that Paul uses “works of the law” to refer to outward observances considered as distinct from inward circumcision. Does that seem accurate to you?

    best,
    John

  87. Galatians not Galations. Sorry, Jack.

  88. Mateo,

    Now you haven’t answered the question either. Saying that God sovereignly gave man free will doesn’t answer the question. I agree that God sovereignly gave man free will. The question is what does free will mean, but that’s another issue.

    All you’ve said is that Person A makes the right choice because God gave him free will and he exercised that free will to make the right choice. That doesn’t answer the question. Of course he made the right choice. Why did he make it but not person B who was also regenerated. Both had the same opportunity. Both had the same grace. Both had the same free will. Only one did the right thing. Why?

  89. SS,

    Doug Moo isn’t my pope. I have referred to him only because he is a respected theologian in protestant quarters and not because I feel compelled to agree with everything he says. I’m also well aware of the standard reasoning on the law and boasting, it is a feudal/medieval concept and deeply flawed. A lot has happened in 500 years people, wake up! I believe in the faith once and for all delivered, but to put it in your terms, what happened to “Semper Reformanda”? If you’re wrong you gotta revise right? Then why the infatuation and obsession with a bunch of violent and naïve theologians from Germany? What good has ever come out of Germany? Can someone tell me?

    I only mentioned Moo because you wanted to know what I though about Romans 2:13. I’m well aware you don’t agree with everything he has said, but you wanted my opinion on that passage and I follow Moo.

    Semper Reformanda means changing when we are wrong. We’re not wrong here. Sure there was some medieval influence on the Reformers, but that doesn’t mean the fundamental insight of the Reformers was incorrect, and that is at the end of the day nothing we do is ever good enough to be righteous in God’s sight. A couple of obscure figures who read first-century Judaism through the lens of the Talmud doesn’t change that. The great insight of New Testament Jews such as Peter and Paul and Jesus is that sinners can’t do the law, at least to the standard required for justification. That is what much modern scholarship misses, but it is so plainly obvious. Jesus says we must be perfect as God is perfect. Paul says we are cursed by relying on the law because we don’t do ALL the law. It takes a lot of exegetical gymnastics to get around that. That makes for PhD dissertations. It makes for bad theology.

    You asked my opinion. My opinion is essentially that of Moo’s. I know you don’t agree with him on the gospel.

    I’d also be careful if I were you . You are concerned—rightly so—about antiSemitism, but then you just insulted an entire nationality because of your personal animosity towards Luther, which is based in your utter failure to read anyone since the 2nd or 3rd century in historical context. The Reformation is the reason why the pope isn’t killing you today. You’re welcome.

    Luther was neurotic, bombastic, and crude. Most geniuses are neurotic. It helps them to see things that “normal” people miss. Luther did much that was wrong, and he will have to answer for it. But he did understand the holiness of God, even if he didn’t live it out like he should. That’s true of all of us. We need Luther’s insight because none of us wants to believe that God is as holy as the Bible says he is and we are as sinful as the Bible says we are.

    Why do the regenerate fall away? We don’t know, it is an unexplicable tragedy, even in God’s eyes.

    I don’t know is an honest answer. But don’t attribute your ignorance to God. If that passage from Isaiah means God’ doesn’t know, then God’s question in Genesis 3 “Where are you?” to Adam means that somehow God was truly ignorant of Adam’s whereabouts.

  90. Robert,

    When Jesus compliments the first 2 servants in the parable of the talents, did he give them grounds to boast and do they have grounds to boast?

    Why did they do His will and not the 3rd servant?

  91. I don’t know is an honest answer. But don’t attribute your ignorance to God. If that passage from Isaiah means God’ doesn’t know, then God’s question in Genesis 3 “Where are you?” to Adam means that somehow God was truly ignorant of Adam’s whereabouts

    The point of Isaiah 5 is not to say that God is ignorant. It seems that you did not grasp that. The point was to show that God has allowed his creatures to choose evil and that even He is grieved by this. Why do they choose evil? Because they love evil more than they love His Grace. God knows that and is grieved by that.

    But this is the point at which you say: if they love evil more, then it must mean that the one who perseveres therefore has something to boast in. Isn’t that the whole point of your questioning and the core your objection?

    And again, it is obvious that your conclusion does not follow from the premises. There’s an asymmetry here that you seem bent on ignoring: that someone can choose evil over good does not necessitate that the one who chooses good over evil is doing so because of some innate superiority!

    For the one who perseveres, choosing good is entirely a function of the magnificence of the grace of God. All the credit goes to Him, as the servant says “We are only doing our duty”. No trace of boasting there. It is a logical contrariety to argue that persevering can include boasting, and that’s where does your objection fall apart 🙂

  92. SS–

    Hildegard of Bingen
    Johann Sebastian Bach
    Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Oskar Schindler
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    Benedict XVI

  93. SS–

    If you are in a dark alley alone at night, are you honestly more concerned with the free will of the shadowy figure following you or the content of his character?

  94. SS–

    “It is a logical contrariety to argue that persevering can include boasting, and that’s where does your objection fall apart.”

    I had an extremely difficult day yesterday. You just can’t even imagine. I don’t know how I got through it.

    Boy, aren’t I something!!

    😉

  95. SS,

    There’s an asymmetry here that you seem bent on ignoring: that someone can choose evil over good does not necessitate that the one who chooses good over evil is doing so because of some innate superiority!

    It does if they receive the same grace. Which is one of the many reasons why I reject the idea that all get the same grace, which ultimately means that the one who perseveres to the end is regenerate and the one who doesn’t never was.

    The parables you keep bringing up are rather easily dealt with. They aren’t about justification or regeneration. Where in the context does it say that they are? The parable of the talents shows us that the one with one talent had the wrong motivation, namely, a servile fear of the Lord. Why does he have that motivation and not the others? Or, better yet, why do the ones who do well have a right view of the Master.

    The fact is if two people with the same backgrounds get the same grace, and only one perseveres, there is something better about that person. More spiritually sensitive, more apt to learn his spiritual lessons, more disposed to hold what Christ gives as dear, etc.

    If saving grace is resistible, then my salvation is finally in my hands. I make the right decision. I could have done otherwise but I didn’t. That is grounds for boasting.

    If I’m teaching my daughter to ride a bike and I’m holding her steady to balance her, yes she needs me. But I can still be proud of her and expect her to boast in her own ability if she petals and makes the bike go. The fact that my help is necessary does not mean she can’t boast in her achievement. She could have refused and the fact she didn’t but had the courage to act is a praiseworthy thing. It’s the same thing with grace if grace is resistible. The only way there is no ground for her boasting is if my holding up the bike guaranteed that she would finally petal (Which I as a creature cannot impart because I can’t guarantee how another creature will act. But I’m not God.)

    I realize that you don’t think you have ground for boasting. I don’t think you go around saying, look at how good I am that I made the right choice. But I would say at that point you are being inconsistent with your theological commitments.

  96. A reformed and an non reformed are lost at sea and wash up on an island, not knowing what day it is.

    R: It can’t be Tuesday today right

    NR: Right, not enough days have gone by to make it a week.

    R: So it must be Friday.

    NR: Um…. no, it could also be Thursday, or Saturday.

    R: It has to be Friday.

    NR: Why?

    R: Because I said so.

    NR: (facepalm)…

  97. The parable of the talents shows us that the one with one talent had the wrong motivation, namely, a servile fear of the Lord. Why does he have that motivation and not the others? Or, better yet, why do the ones who do well have a right view of the Master.

    Why did the 3rd servant have the wrong motivation? Please answer the question I asked instead of repeating it.

    If I’m teaching my daughter to ride a bike and I’m holding her steady to balance her, yes she needs me. But I can still be proud of her and expect her to boast in her own ability if she petals and makes the bike go.

    Not at all. She does not have grounds to boast because were it not for her Daddy, she wouldn’t even know what a bike is, to begin with or even be able to hold it, for even her very hands were conceived in her mother’s womb, independent of her own will. Second, were it not for her Daddy who bought her the bike, she wouldn’t own one. Third, were it not for the her Daddy’s teaching, she would not pedal at all, but instead keep skinning her knee without success. She has no grounds to boast and as a good kid, she will not boast but say “I’m so excited I can ride and thankful because my Daddy taught me how to ride”.

    It’s the same with the one who perseveres. He perseveres because of his Daddy, not boasting in the process but boasting in His Father in Heaven. Eric commits the same non sequitur. In his own boasting about coming through a hard day, he does not recognize that his believer neighbor has had had twice or thrice of hard day and still gives glory to God at the end of it, instead of to himself!

  98. I want to emphasize the fundamental incompatibility between a recipient of Grace and boasting. Anyone who insists on mixing the two is arguing as logically as the one who says that water and oil mix. They simply don’t, that’s hard fact. Likewise, if one truly is a recipient of Grace from God our Benefactor, one simply does not have ANY grounds for boasting. This is a theological axiom you can count on, as much as you can count on any other axioms that God has set in place in life.

    Heb 12:28

    “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude ” (NASB)

    It is gratitude/grace that is in view, not a claimed ‘superiority’ over the one who is ungrateful. Gratitude, by definition , does not boast in itself, but is thankful for that which is outside itself . One cannot be grateful and boast simultaneously, for the simple reason that this is a contradiction in terms. So the Honor context of gratitude does not allow for boasting, it is completely foreign to the paradigm. What is allowed is a shameful response, which is a rejection of grace, but not boasting.

    De Silva writes in “Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity, Unlocking New Testament Culture”

    “Because we think about the grace of God through the lens of 16th century Protestant polemics against “earning salvation by means of pious works,” we have a difficult time hearing the New Testament’s own affirmation of the simple, yet noble and beautiful circle of grace. God has acted generously, and Jesus has granted great and wonderful gifts. These were not earned, but grace is never earned in the ancient world. Once favor has been shown and gifts conferred however, the result must invariably be that the recipient will show gratitude, will answer grace for grace.”

    Another insight into this topic is this: the Reformed who insists and relies on the boasting argument is no different than the atheist who says that he is entitled to boast in his own contributions to science and understanding. An atheist will look at man’s accomplishments and say “See, I told ya we could do great things! We don’t need God to explain the Universe (think Stephen Hawking)”. And yet we press them, we ask them, but pray tell, tell us where you get your notions of pre existing quantum vacuums, and gravity, space, particles, matter? Where do they originate from? “They were always there” says the atheist. But does that make any sense? It doesn’t because we know, from science, that nothing does not generate something. Nothing is that which rocks think about, and rocks have never generated anything now have they. The atheist is caught in a fundamentally unsound belief. Likewise, the reformed who argues that boasting can emerge out of gratitude is caught in an inherent contrariety which at first glance may seem plausible, but upon deeper inspection reveals itself to be completely and utterly illogical…

    I don’t expect Robert, Eric and others with theological pre commitments to get this, but others reading will.

  99. Dave H.

    We need to let those verses say what they say without explaining them away. That is a uniquely Protestant thing. I will tell you, as a Catholic, it is very freeing to not have to do that anymore…

    It really does require a cognitive shift away from reading scripture with Protestant preconceptions…

    the Protestant borderline gnostic idea that anything that has a physical element rises to the occasion of “works righteousness”.

    Dave, why would one want to present their views of Scripture in light of your assessment that those views are not only incorrect but, a country-mouse Protestant’s flawed way of explaining “them away” (verses), which the confused Protestant can only be freed from by becoming a Catholic? If only one became a Catholic he wouldn’t have to fool himself anymore…

    Some converts to RCism often present their new faith/church in a way similar to many inner ring religious communities, i.e. only the initiated can truly understand. Now, I doubt you are intending that. But I would suggest it’s a small step from an absolute certainty of Rome’s infallible teaching to an air of smugness in that position.

    the overwhelming Sacramental nature of Jesus actions and many actions throughout scripture

    I have no argument with the truth of the above phrase.

    Jesus could heal a blind man with a thought or a word. But instead he chooses to make a paste of common elements, spit and dirt which he smears on his eyes to effect the healing.

    But that interpretation, it would seem, could very well be flow from your Roman Catholic ex opere operato view of sacraments. Indeed, Jesus often did perform miracles with clear outward aids to emphasize to those around him that it was he, a man, who had the power of God to heal and it was indeed he, the carpenter’s son who was healing, and therefore Someone more than just a man. He was dispelling doubts about who he was. So as Jesus methodically used dirt and spit he was drawing attention to himself as the Christ, the one who was doing and effecting the miracle, not to teach dirt and spit as elements in a healing sacrament. One could say there was a sacramental nature to it, yet the earthly elements weren’t used in order to teach that they sacramentally “effected the healing.” They were aids Jesus employed to focus the attention of those watching on him – the Christ… that they might believe. You seem to want to make this more about a sacramental moment… the elements of dirt and spit as a sacramental method than about the One who employed them to magnify himself.

    How does one live by faith? What does it look like? And how does this passage harmonize all the other things that Paul, The Lord, James etc. said about faith without works being dead. It does not say faith without works is not-real faith, it says it is dead – as in non-effectual.

    You don’t refer to a particular passage. But looking at Hab. 2:4 we read: Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him; but the righteous shall live by his faith. Throughout the Bible we read of the impossibility of being justified by an inherent righteousness–that is, by our own works. Indeed, our best works are sinful (puffed up)–in fact ‘as filthy rags’ (Is. 64:6).

    Fast forwarding to Galatians 3: For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them. Now that no man is justified by the law before God, is evident: for, The righteous shall live by faith; and the law is not of faith; but, He that doeth them shall live in them.

    Because man is sinful, he is under the curse of death, for no fallen man can be justified (freed from that curse) by his own works as they are inherently “filthy rags” before the holiness of God’s standard. It is evident says Paul. So there is no righteousness leading away from death to life that is to be had via the law. The good news of salvation in Christ is that freedom from the curse and the free gift of eternal life comes through faith. Good news – A man shall live by his faith and be freed from the curse… in Christ Jesus, the sin-bearer and the law keeper. Why? Because by faith a man receives a righteousness not his own that meets the demands of the law in Christ. The whole argument Paul is making in Galatians is to not go back to a works paradigm in order to obtain justification. The Galatians, by receiving circumcision were returning to a method of salvation that was “believe in Jesus and keep certain laws and ordinances in order to retain one’s justified state. This conflates justification and sanctification. That is why Paul exclaims in chapter 5,

    Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
    Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace. For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love. Ye were running well; who hindered you that ye should not obey the truth?

    These were believer’s baptized into Christ. And Paul rebukes them for a ‘faith plus anything’ paradigm to retain their justification. What about they grand verse that the RCC always brings up… “but faith working through love?” Love is the works of the law. Paul did not say “faith working with love. Faith working through love. So the faith by which a man lives, i.e. receives the blessing of eternal life, is a faith that loves God and neighbor. It is a faith that one can see through deeds done (love) and thus before men that individual’s faith is justified, verified, or vindicated as not empty or vain but of God, the point of James. Justification and sanctification are not conflated. Rather, sanctification is the God’s working through the grateful obedience of the justified believer, conforming him to the image of the Son… A believer accounted righteous (justified) for Christ’s sake – by his faith receives life and lives. Not by works, not by faith and works.

    Again and again Scripture attest to faith which produces and shows forth good works. But to say that faith and works produce justification runs counter to Paul’s entire argument in Galatians.

    Of course, I presume you know these arguments and reject them for reasons that the Reformers found wanting and unsriptural, as do I 😉

    cheers…

  100. +JMJ+

    Jack Miller wrote:

    Some converts to RCism often present their new faith/church in a way similar to many inner ring religious communities, i.e. only the initiated can truly understand.

    That’s correct. One must be sacramento-initiatorially sealed and vivified in order for the Revelation to be believed and understood with Supernatural Faith. However, unlike Reformism, this Way is freely open to all men. They must simply choose, with their natural faculties, to petition the Church for that gift which She longs to bestow. It is Sacramentalism which weds the Natural and the Supernatural Orders in a single, personal, Incarnational Reality.

    The real question is, why do the Reformed, who confess an Incarnate God, think that is consonant that this God would have a Disincarnate Economy?

  101. 1 Tim. 2:5 – For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

    Except in the case of Rome. For in Rome, between God and men, there is another mediator besides Jesus Christ – the church which requires men to undergo a ceremony to be:

    sacramento-initiatorially sealed and vivified in order for the Revelation to be believed and understood with Supernatural Faith.

    And in order to receive the gift of eternal life one must:

    petition the Church for that gift which She longs to bestow.

    Rather than through the preaching of the gospel through which God presents to its hearers “his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

    And, ” For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom 1:16)

    Your ceremonies usurp the gospel’s free offer of salvation to all who hear and believe.

  102. +JMJ+

    Jack Miller wrote:

    Except in the case of Rome. For in Rome…

    Unclench, dude. I’m just trying to explain the Catholic theo-philosophical viewpoint.

    However, I do think that the Reformed would do well to ask themselves the question I asked in my last post.

  103. Wosbald–

    Last I checked, our Incarnate God had ascended and is seated on the right hand of the Father in heaven.

    Besides, our polity is just as incarnate as yours. Our churches are visible and physical, with flesh and blood leadership. Plus, we believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. How are you more “incarnational,” pray tell?

    Oh, yeah, it’s those idolatrous practices which win you such respect.

    J. I. Packer has been called by some the “evangelical pope.” We could stick a mitre on him. Then we could make graven images of Luther and Calvin and Knox and Cranmer and sprawl prostrate before them. Maybe label Katharina von Bora and Idelette de Bure as our co-redemptrices….

    😉

  104. Wosbald–

    I was just wondering. If all it takes is for one to be “sacramento-initiatorially sealed and vivified,” why are almost all Roman Catholic laity theologically clueless?

  105. No clenched fist at all. Simply a conclusion drawn by juxtaposing your prescription for faith and salvation through the RCC ceremonies with Scripture’s prescription for salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ preached which creates faith in those called of God, bestowing in them eternal life.

    cheers…

  106. SS–

    First off, unless my believer neighbor has nonuplets, there is NO WAY that he or she had thrice as hard a day as I did yesterday. Heck, even you should be proud of me!

    Why in heaven’s name do you think the Bible even includes phrases like “not of works, lest any man should boast”? Was Paul just flapping his gums at the Ephesians?

    By the way, my pre-commitments are to the truth. My “personal interpretation” is that the WCF approximates biblical truth. Your pre-commitments are to some esoteric, idiosyncratic, mystical Messianic je-ne-sais-quoi.

  107. Someone remarked a while back

    As Catholics have repeatedly noted, Reformism is simply incapable of mounting a positive apologetic to the Natural Man.

    So how do you reason with a dead man who is by nature opposed to salvation that he should choose to become alive?

    Scripture says it is done by God’s grace through the gospel, not through reasoning. The reformed church holds that the gospel is Scripture’s positive apologetic to the natural man, calling him out of death.

    Ephesians 2:
    1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
    2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-
    3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
    4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
    5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-
    6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
    7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
    9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    [see Romans 1:16]

    cheers…

  108. +JMJ+

    Jack,

    You only proved my point (which more factual than polemical). Reformism is simply incapable. It is what it is. No argument.

  109. WB

    LOL… You apparently didn’t give thought to my comments, don’t understand the gospel, or are so committed to RC dogma as to not engage. Or all of the above?

    cheers…

  110. SS,

    You miss the point of the Daddy illustration. Yes, the girl would not ride the bike without her father, but if at the end of the day she is the deciding factor as to who petals or not, she gets to boast no matter the motivation.

    It really is very simple. Again, I realize that you don’t go around boasting, but you’re being inconsistent with your theology.

    The third servant doesn’t boast because he wasn’t regenerate, but that’s really not the right point of view on the parable because the parable isn’t even about regeneration or justification, so it’s not germane to the discussion. This is the problem with building systematic theology on parables and ignoring clearer didactic passages that deal with the issue at hand. Jesus himself says that all that the Father gives to Him will come to Him and He will raise them up on the last day. There is no such thing as a person whom the Father gives to Jesus who isn’t saved, which is why regeneration is permanent.

    As far as theological pre-commitments, please don’t pretend you don’t have any. You’re a better thinker than that.

  111. Wosbald,

    That’s correct. One must be sacramento-initiatorially sealed and vivified in order for the Revelation to be believed and understood with Supernatural Faith. However, unlike Reformism, this Way is freely open to all men. They must simply choose, with their natural faculties, to petition the Church for that gift which She longs to bestow. It is Sacramentalism which weds the Natural and the Supernatural Orders in a single, personal, Incarnational Reality.

    The real question is, why do the Reformed, who confess an Incarnate God, think that is consonant that this God would have a Disincarnate Economy?

    That’s a lot of gobbledygook, no offense, that still fails to deal with the entirely negative view that Paul has of the Natural Man’s faculties, not to mention the rest of Scripture.

    And like Eric said, the Reformed are quite sacramental. We just don’t believe God’s hands are bound by guys in robes saying “hocus pocus.”

  112. +JMJ+

    Public Service Announcement: This is the part where Reformism’s inability to make a positive apologetic becomes the most glaring. You say “no argument”, and what do you get? Argument. Pure negativity on parade.

  113. And like Eric said, the Reformed are quite sacramental. We just don’t believe God’s hands are bound by guys in robes saying “hocus pocus.”

    I believe the proper Latin is Hoc est corpus meum or “This is my Body” in English.

    I guess I don’t understand why the Reformed are so against “Works.” It’s obvious that man has to do “something” albeit all through God’s grace. “Believing” is a process that will always involve man’s participation. Even if it’s driving to the Church or getting dressed on Sunday. Or the very act of “hearing God’s word” There is always something man must “do” before he “believes.”

    God doesn’t dress you up in the morning. God didn’t teach you how to read. You still learned how to read–albeit through the Grace of God and yet, you wouldn’t come to know God without your abilities. Would learning how to read be a “work” to come to know God? No. So, Baptism isn’t a work to coming to faith. It’s still a requirement for salvation though as Christ required it.

  114. You miss the point of the Daddy illustration. Yes, the girl would not ride the bike without her father, but if at the end of the day she is the deciding factor as to who petals or not, she gets to boast no matter the motivation.

    Well I’m sure she loves the petals on her pedals for were they only petals, I doubt she could accomplish much, lol.

    No Robert, you miss the point that your own illustration works against you. The minute you admit that the girl would not ride the bike without her father is the minute you have admitted that she has no grounds to boast. It’s really that simple. She has ground to be grateful for her father’s love and to keep persevering because he is lovingly encouraging despite this being the 5th time she fell off trying to find her balance. She has grounds to be excited. She has no grounds to boast.

    The third servant doesn’t boast because he wasn’t regenerate, but that’s really not the right point of view on the parable because the parable isn’t even about regeneration or justification, so it’s not germane to the discussion. This is the problem with building systematic theology on parables and ignoring clearer didactic passages that deal with the issue at hand. Jesus himself says that all that the Father gives to Him will come to Him and He will raise them up on the last day. There is no such thing as a person whom the Father gives to Jesus who isn’t saved, which is why regeneration is permanent

    Quite an amazing dodge, but nonetheless one that cannot sustain the weight of its own sophistry.

    24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

    Look at the bolded above: it is unmistakably a description of judgment of hell. The dishonorable servant who fails to honor his Master with an appropriate/proportionate response of grace for the Grace given him (for that is the point of the illustration of the talent , is thrown into the place of outer darkness in contradistinction to the other 2 who are told “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into your Master’s rest”. If you attempt to hand wave that away, the fact that it is dealing with eternal life, it only makes your argument all the weaker. The talent in Jesus’ day was an enormous sum of money, and he used that to get across the point that there was nothing the servant could do to repay Him for the gift of grace. It was a gift meant to initiate the circle of grace, as David De Silva calls it. But the servant breaks the circle of grace, returning laziness for honor. It could not be any clearer than that, and Paul is just as clear when He says:

    “12 Therefore, brethren , we are debtors —not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

    We are debtors, once again the language of Honor and the circle of grace. Dishonoring God by living according to the flesh results in being cast out into the outer darkness.

    So again Robert, I’m asking you to quit dodging:

    Why wasn’t the third servant who inherits hell not motivated to do the right thing?

    Come on, let’s advance the discussion, what are you afraid of?

  115. When one insists that the RCC is, by default, always right despite Scripture’s counter-argument, well then… one understandably needs respond in high dungeon denial.

    cheers…

  116. Jack,

    Rather than through the preaching of the gospel through which God presents to its hearers “his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

    And, ” For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom 1:16)

    Your ceremonies usurp the gospel’s free offer of salvation to all who hear and believe.

    You’re “picking and choosing” lines out of Scripture that match up with your theology. Catholicism doesn’t have a problem with those lines either.

    When they ask Peter, what must we do, he responds, “Repent and be baptized.” Jesus tells us we must eat His Body to have eternal life.

    Catholics don’t look at one line of Scripture but rather the whole body and understand it as an entire body. You have this belief and then point to certain lines and ignore other lines so that it all works out.

  117. First off, unless my believer neighbor has nonuplets, there is NO WAY that he or she had thrice as hard a day as I did yesterday. Heck, even you should be proud of me!

    🙂 With all due respect to your Daddy duties, consider what a parent with a terminally ill child endures, and then rethink your boast.

    Why in heaven’s name do you think the Bible even includes phrases like “not of works, lest any man should boast”? Was Paul just flapping his gums at the Ephesians?

    Because honoring God is not a work. It is a response of grace for grace. Honor, by definition, implies the total inability to repay. As Paul says in Romans 8:12-13, we are debtors. So we honor God with our bodies, offering them as a living sacrifice, for example, by faith in and the faithfulness of Christ(Gal 2:20). The life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and died for me. By contrast, when an agitator came and wanted to add circumcision to their burial and resurrection in Christ, effectively tempting the Galatians with something to boast in, he was not honoring Christ, but instead nullifying Christ’s sacrifice for the gentiles.

    By the way, my pre-commitments are to the truth. My “personal interpretation” is that the WCF approximates biblical truth. Your pre-commitments are to some esoteric, idiosyncratic, mystical Messianic je-ne-sais-quoi.

    Wisdom and truth are proven by their deeds. Your precommitments is to a tradition born in violence and blood, and that alone is enough to reject it entirely. You shall know them by their fruit, speaking of teachers, and your teachers’ victims’ blood cries out to God for justice and they will get it. Why don’t you come out of that dishonorable tradition, even if it means not having a place to lay your head as a result? I’d rather obey God than follow the traditions of men who have no authority to speak for Him.

  118. Dennis,
    the reformed churches are not against good works, but do warmly embrace them as necessary fruit in the life of one who has been justified.

    Belgic Confession Article 24: Of man’s Sanctification and Good Works.

    We believe that this true faith being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, doth regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of sin. Therefore it is so far from being true, that this justifying faith makes men remiss in a pious and holy life, that on the contrary without it they would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man: for we do not speak of a vain faith, but of such a faith, which is called in Scripture, a faith that worketh by love, which excites man to the practice of those works, which God has commanded in his Word. Which works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by his grace: howbeit they are of no account towards our justification. For it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works, any more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself is good. Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them, (for what can they merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he that worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Let us therefore attend to what is written: when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do. In the meantime, we do not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them. Thus then we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.

    cheers…

  119. Dennis,

    You’re “picking and choosing” lines out of Scripture that match up with your theology. Catholicism doesn’t have a problem with those lines either.
    When they ask Peter, what must we do, he responds, “Repent and be baptized.” Jesus tells us we must eat His Body to have eternal life.

    Well, in the confines of comments on a blog it seems rather valid to quote a verse or two to support one’s argument, as you just did the same with your quoted Scripture from Peter and Jesus… Which quotes reformed also embrace and believe. Reformed theology is not an eclectic mixture of disparate verses. So the issue is over which theology best reflects the truth of Scripture.

  120. Robert, you write:

    Now you haven’t answered the question either. Saying that God sovereignly gave man free will doesn’t answer the question.

    Yes, it does answer the question! I said that a man in a state of grace can make real choices for good or evil, which is backed up by scripture. No man could fall from grace unless he is already in a state of grace. But you are insisting that it is impossible for a man to fall from a state of grace, and in making that argument, you are not arguing with me, you are arguing against scripture.

    All you’ve said is that Person A makes the right choice because God gave him free will and he exercised that free will to make the right choice.

    No, I did not say that. I said when angels and men are in a state of grace, they can fall from grace. In a state of grace, angels and men can exercise their free will to choose between life and death, blessing or curse. It seems to me that you are hell-bent on denying that the inerrant scriptures use the word “choose”. God is laying before you the choice of life or death, blessing or curse, and, you must choose one or the other.

    You are also missing SS’s point about the asymmetry of the choice between choosing curse and choosing blessing. To choose curse and death is to choose rebellion – to choose to reject the gift of grace that one needs to be saved. It doesn’t take grace to rebel. But to choose blessing and life cannot be done by rejecting grace, and it cannot be done out of Pelagian will power apart from grace. When a man or an angel chooses the good, the man and the angel is making a choice to accept the grace that God has already given to a man or an angel.

    That doesn’t answer the question. Of course he made the right choice. Why did he make it but not person B who was also regenerated. Both had the same opportunity. Both had the same grace. Both had the same free will. Only one did the right thing. Why?

    How can you ask me why? I have already answered why! God has decreed that angels and men get to make real choices while they are in a state of grace. Why do some angels and men choose to reject grace? To choose to reject grace is an irrational decision, to be sure, and because it is an irrational decision, by definition, the decision can’t be rationally explained. Which is why Paul speaks about the mystery of iniquity. Robert, if you want a rational explanation for why men act irrationally, forget it. Quit trying to understand what can never be understood by rational men.

    God, is omniscient, and because God knows everything, God knows with absolute certainty when angels and men exercise their free will to make irrational choices. In the end, God knows when the ultimate choice for the irrational has been made, and God grants to demons and wicked men what they have chosen – everlasting irrationality. Which is why everyone in Hell is insane.

    At some point in your life, Robert, you are going to have to choose between blessing or curse, and your choice is going to have consequences that stretch into eternity. To not make a personal choice for blessing is to also make a choice.

    “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.”

  121. Mateo,

    Yes, sin is irrational.

    When I ask why the choice is made, I’m ultimately asking what is it about the character of a person that causes him to choose rightly. You are embracing some concept of libertarianism, which basically says our choices are not determined by the character we have. But that is an irrational view of the will.

    If grace does not guarantee perseverance, the person who makes the right choice can finally boast in that choice. He needed grace to be sure, but grace was not enough. He had to add something of his own to it.

    And BTW, I’ve already chosen blessing and continue to do so every day. I trust in Christ alone for my salvation.

  122. Jack,

    the reformed churches are not against good works, but do warmly embrace them as necessary fruit in the life of one who has been justified.

    I’m not talking about “good works.” Yes, I can agree with that as well.

    I’m talking about the point before Justification, there is some participation from man. You can point to a specific point that you were “saved.” Let’s say it was at a Church…well, in order to get there, there were certain things you had to “do” to get to the Church including waking up, getting dressed and driving your car. All of them were required to get to Church but none of them “saved” you. So, there is a participation from man in our Salvation. The Salvation is God’s work but at the same time, we still participate (all in God’s grace.)

    So it is with Baptism. The baptism doesn’t “save” us. It’s God’s grace that saves us. However, we still must be baptized as it’s a command from God. The baptism is a visible sign of the invisible sanctifying grace that we are receiving. It’s a step to receive the grace from God like how “driving your car to the Church” is a requirement before you go to Church.

  123. SS–

    You are so right. My next door neighbor with the paraplegic spouse, who suffers from debilitating chronic pain themselves and cares for a developmentally disabled teenager, an autistic middle-schooler, a terminally-ill toddler, not to mention those aforementioned nonuplets (all with colic), definitely has more on their plate than I. More power to them. And yet, you say, they have absolutely no temptation to boast…because they’re covered by grace? Is that really what you’re going with?

    My commitment is not to the WCF, per se, but to my own determination that it conforms with biblical truth. Wild Apaches could have come up with it for all I care. It has been used by very, very peaceable folks–not to mention, very, very devout folks–model Christians in every imaginable way. (Your particular stripe of Messianic Judaism has not been violent simply because it has never had enough power to do so. Quit kidding yourself.)

  124. Dennis, SS, Mateo, et al.–

    You all sound like the World Series or Super Bowl MVP who talks about all the homers he hit or all the touchdowns he scored…but then, as an aside, admits that he owes it all to God above, who endowed him with such incomparably awesome gifts in the first place.

    Pelagius himself had a place in his soteriology for grace. Your definition of grace is just a dodge, a smoke screen. It’s all just a disguise for your very own variation of Pelagianism (semi, hemi, demi, or quasi). You cannot let go of the notion that you are involved in all this. You and your copilot God are steering your way through all the anti-aircraft fire of life.

    We Protestants love good works and try our best to multiply them. What we don’t like is including them as part of grace. We cannot earn grace, even by our cooperation with grace. Grace must remain free and unilateral, hence the name.

    (A meal is not gratuitous if you had to wash dishes as part of the payment thereof, even if you never would have even gotten into the restaurant without the owner’s permission, and even if he helped you with the dishes. And it is not gratuitous if you left the restaurant, even of your own accord, before the meal was served. No gift, no grace. Strings attached, no grace.)

  125. Dennis–

    No Protestant has ever said that we don’t participate in the process of our salvation. But nothing we do brings it about. We can be saved in our beds, in our dreams if need be, without ever waking up, getting dressed, or carting ourselves off to church. We can be saved with or without baptism (as one can, even in the Catholic church, on account of martyrdom or the presence of a sincere desire for the sacrament).

  126. +JMJ+

    Jack Miller wrote:

    … one understandably needs respond in high dungeon denial.

    Feel no need to justify yourself on my account. As I said, I get it. No argument.

    (And just as an FYI, I think that the word for which you’re looking may be ‘dudgeon’.)

    Happy Halloween, y’all!

  127. Eric,

    (Your particular stripe of Messianic Judaism has not been violent simply because it has never had enough power to do so. Quit kidding yourself.)

    Bingo. And I’d add that it’s those who think they’re immune to such temptations that are most susceptible to them. Which is why I hope SS never gets the power of the sword. 🙂

  128. Mateo–

    Yes, I have choices in this life, but you are concentrating on the word “choice” and forgetting that they are MY choices. And I always choose what I would choose, given my character and predilections. Sure, I can purposefully change my character, but even that is part of my character: I’m adaptable.

    There are choices where I am indifferent (sometimes I have grits for breakfast and sometimes I have yogurt or oatmeal), but these are not life choices. They have little or no significance, however. Seldom if ever does one choose something at random. If one does, it is usually just to be novel and spontaneous or to simply prove that it can be done. I do not go with Jonathan Edwards’ thought that we ever and always pick the option corresponding to our strongest desire. But there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room.

  129. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    You are embracing some concept of libertarianism, which basically says our choices are not determined by the character we have. But that is an irrational view of the will.

    Some people might suggest that using ‘choice’ and ‘determinacy’ in the same sentence like that would pass for irrational.

  130. Wosbald–

    Yeah, “dudgeon” is one of those otherwise archaic terms that is only used in the frozen phrase “in high dudgeon.”

  131. Wosbald–

    Yes, and other people might suggest that using ‘choice’ and ‘INdeterminacy’ in the same sentence would pass for irrational.

  132. SS,

    The whole section on the freedom of the conscience in the WCF is key to later articulations of religious and political freedom, as is the whole concept of the law being king, which was developed by good Presbyterians.

    Again, you’re welcome.

  133. Wosbald,

    Some people might suggest that using ‘choice’ and ‘determinacy’ in the same sentence like that would pass for irrational.

    Well, since Augustine and Aquinas are far from irrational and both were determinists, I guess I’m in good company.

  134. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    Augustine and Aquinas … were determinists

    🙄

  135. Eric,

    Yes, I agree that grace is free however, there is some participation from man. Everything that man has and does is a result from God.

    (A meal is not gratuitous if you had to wash dishes as part of the payment thereof, even if you never would have even gotten into the restaurant without the owner’s permission, and even if he helped you with the dishes. And it is not gratuitous if you left the restaurant, even of your own accord, before the meal was served. No gift, no grace. Strings attached, no grace.)

    I agree that washing dishes is a “payment.” What about the effort of going to the restaurant or getting dressed to go to the restaurant? What about the effort of sitting down and eating? There is still participation in the “free gift.” When a parent gives a child a gift, the child still has to receive the gift. They have to receive it and unwrap the present. The present is all from the parents but there is still an active participation from the child.

  136. Eric,

    We can be saved in our beds, in our dreams if need be, without ever waking up, getting dressed, or carting ourselves off to church. We can be saved with or without baptism (as one can, even in the Catholic church, on account of martyrdom or the presence of a sincere desire for the sacrament).

    A Catholic believes this as well. God’s grace knows no bounds and we can receive it whenever He wills. The problem is that man has no visible sign of when man receives that grace. If the grace comes when we are in bed, how would you know? With Baptism, there is a visible sign that God has given you that grace. It’s not the cause of the grace. The grace was freely given but it’s a sign that the grace was given by God.

  137. You all sound like the World Series or Super Bowl MVP who talks about all the homers he hit or all the touchdowns he scored…but then, as an aside, admits that he owes it all to God above, who endowed him with such incomparably awesome gifts in the first place.

    “7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”

    If you want to consider the commandments of God as home runs and hits, all the power to you, but that still gives you no ability to boast as is said “we are unprofitable servants, only doing our duty”. Unless you want to accuse Jesus now of naivete and of misleading people into believing that they can be unprofitable servants, with nary a thing to boast about. Is that what you want to do? Btw, this was the very heart of the reply of Patriarch Jeremiah to the Lutherans at Tubingen. The Lutherans had no answer for it then and they don’t now. They lost the battle a long time ago. Everything since is simply pretension.

    (A meal is not gratuitous if you had to wash dishes as part of the payment thereof, even if you never would have even gotten into the restaurant without the owner’s permission, and even if he helped you with the dishes. And it is not gratuitous if you left the restaurant, even of your own accord, before the meal was served. No gift, no grace. Strings attached, no grace.)

    Your illustration only shows your ignorance of the Honor-Shame NT paradigm. A gift of grace from a benefactor did not entail any repayment. It was given regardless of whether the benefactee would respond with honor or dishonor. In fact, sometimes, a dishonorable response was met with more honor from the Benefactor, in the hopes that this would ‘change the dishonorable one’s heart’. It’s like that great Bonnie Raitt song, “I can’t make you love me, if you don’t.” Loving someone back who gives us a gift with no strings attached is a response of grace for grace. People who love don’t love to be repaid, they love for the sake of love itself, because it is holy and pure, and because they have first been loved themselves.

    So coming back to your example, if you are truly grateful for a free meal, then without the owner asking you, you will go to him and say “, I am truly grateful to you for this amazing $40 steak I couldn’t otherwise afford, and I’d like to advertise your restaurant on my website/blog, and tell everyone how good of a meal it was”. That is a response of Honor, not of ‘works’ and that’s what you either don’t get, or are feigning ignorance of. Either way you are mistaken. The owner never demanded that you would honor him, it was never part of the gift, but He did expect some sort of response from you, even if all it was was a decision to give him a referral or recommendation. Whether you responded at all would determine whether you are honorable or dishonorable.

    Consider a marriage. When a man works from 6am to 6pm to provide for his newly wed stay at home wife, he comes home beat but happy. He does not demand of his wife that she have a meal ready for her, but he expects it . In his heart he thinks “I worked really hard today, I hope she is appreciative”. The wife doesn’t ‘work’ for his love when she cooks the hot meal, she is simply honoring her husband, returning love for love. That’s called the circle of grace.

    Go read “Honor, Patronage, Purity, Kinship” by David DeSilva. Educate yourself a bit please.

  138. Robert, you write:

    Yes, sin is irrational.

    Which is why I have asked you repeatedly if it is even possible for you to commit sin. Robert, can you make a personal choice to act irrationally? Do y0u need grace to commit sin?

    When I ask why the choice is made, I’m ultimately asking what is it about the character of a person that causes him to choose rightly.

    You are creating a straw man by bringing up an attribute of man (his character which is part of his nature) and then arguing that human nature must be responsible for whether or not a person is in a state of grace. This argument doesn’t fly.

    For a man to be in a state of grace, he must be first be given the supernatural gift of grace. It is while he is in a state of grace that he can make the choice for good or evil, the choice for blessing or curse. What enables him to make the choice for good? First and foremost, it is grace, secondly it is the man’s will, which a man only has because the sovereign Lord has decreed that he should have this attribute of human nature so that he can make real choices while he is in a state of grace.

    You are embracing some concept of libertarianism, which basically says our choices are not determined by the character we have.

    I have no idea what you are talking about. Why must I be a libertine because I believe that I must choose, while in a state of grace, between blessing and curse, life or death?

    But that is an irrational view of the will.

    Again, I have no idea what you are talking about. Yon need to explain yourself if I am going to get whatever point you are trying to make.

    If grace does not guarantee perseverance, the person who makes the right choice can finally boast in that choice.

    This makes no sense. God’s grace is a free gift that is of infinite value. If the man in a state of grace chooses to reject the only thing that can save him, he has made the irrational choice to reject the supernatural gift that has been given to him. But if a man does perseveres to the end, it is because he has not rejected the supernatural gift that has saved him. The supernatural gift that saves him is his union with God, and on a scale of importance, there is no comparison to the gift of free will, and the gift of God himself. The man that is boasting in his choice to persevere is an idiot, because he is exalting in what is finite (the gift of God that decreed that he should have a free will) over what is infinite (his supernatural gift of grace that allowed him to partake in the very nature of God).

    He needed grace to be sure, but grace was not enough. He had to add something of his own to it.

    You are trying to limit the definition of grace so that only grace that exists is monergistic. But there is both grace that is monergistic (operating grace) and there is grace that is synergistic (cooperating grace). You are arguing for the Calvinist false dichotomy: either monergistic grace or no grace at all. But the reality is otherwise, it is a reality of both/and, not either/or. Both operating grace and cooperating grace is given to man so that he can be saved, and when a man is given cooperating grace he can either choose to cooperate with that grace or not choose to cooperate with that grace.

    And BTW, I’ve already chosen blessing and continue to do so every day. I trust in Christ alone for my salvation.

    Now you are contradicting yourself! You made the choice for blessing. You trust in Christ. So if you can make these choices, then why are you arguing with me?

  139. Bingo. And I’d add that it’s those who think they’re immune to such temptations that are most susceptible to them. Which is why I hope SS never gets the power of the sword. 🙂

    Talk is cheap Robert. Anyone can flap their gums, as Eric said.

  140. Jack,

    You said:

    Dave, why would one want to present their views of Scripture in light of your assessment that those views are not only incorrect but, a country-mouse Protestant’s flawed way of explaining “them away” (verses), which the confused Protestant can only be freed from by becoming a Catholic? If only one became a Catholic he wouldn’t have to fool himself anymore…

    It was not my intent to be condescending or triumphalistic. I was just honestly expressing my experience as both a person who made, in good faith, the exact same arguments but who is now Catholic for a reason and I was being honest about how I feel as Catholic when reading the scriptures. They really are so much more alive and it really is freeing to see these passage from this perspective because as a Protestant, even at my most anti-catholic, Protestant intepretations of those passages never fully jibed in my mind. I took it on faith because of my preconceptions.

    Some converts to RCism often present their new faith/church in a way similar to many inner ring religious communities, i.e. only the initiated can truly understand. Now, I doubt you are intending that. But I would suggest it’s a small step from an absolute certainty of Rome’s infallible teaching to an air of smugness in that position.

    I was still a Protestant when I saw the genuine context of these passages for what they were. It was painful. I mean what does “‘Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” mean? It takes a some serious mental yoga to make this passage say anything other than baptism washes away sins.

  141. The third servant doesn’t boast because he wasn’t regenerate

    Robert,

    I think you meant to say “the third servant doesn’t do the right thing”. Assuming that’s what it you meant, can you please explain a bit further?

    1. Why wasn’t the 3rd servant regenerate?

    2. Why did he receive a talent (a gift of grace) if he wasn’t regenerate?

    3. Why did his Master expect him to have a return if he was unregenerate?

    4. Why was did his Master have him thrown into the outer darkness if he was unregenerate to begin with and unable to invest his talent and produce a return?

    Thanks.

  142. Eric, you write:

    Yes, I have choices in this life, but you are concentrating on the word “choice” and forgetting that they are MY choices.

    How is it, exactly, that I am forgetting that your choices are your choices?

    And I always choose what I would choose, given my character and predilections.

    Eric, unlike Robert, you have admitted that you can commit sin. Which proves that you are a human being, and you can choose to reject the grace that would sanctify you and make you perfect. Welcome to the human race!

    Sure, I can purposefully change my character, but even that is part of my character: I’m adaptable.

    If you think that you can change your character, then you need to define for me what you mean by “character”. In my mind, you are no more capable of changing your human nature than you are capable of turning yourself into a tree frog.

    There are choices where I am indifferent (sometimes I have grits for breakfast and sometimes I have yogurt or oatmeal), but these are not life choices. They have little or no significance, however.

    De gustibus non est disputantum – in matters of taste, there can be no disputes.

    Seldom if ever does one choose something at random. If one does, it is usually just to be novel and spontaneous or to simply prove that it can be done.

    The choice to commit sin is a human choice that can bring about blessing or curse from God. The choice for blessing or curse cannot be compared to man choosing for vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream. Both are real choices, to be sure, but there are entirely different consequences for the choice for vanilla instead of chocolate, and the choice for committing sin that is mortal instead of choosing to persevere in grace.

    I do not go with Jonathan Edwards’ thought that we ever and always pick the option corresponding to our strongest desire. But there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room.

    I am not understanding your point. There is not a whole lot of wiggle room for what?

  143. Dave H. –

    “‘Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” mean? It takes a some serious mental yoga to make this passage say anything other than baptism washes away sins.

    Sacramentally, baptism washes away sins, just as sacramentally we eat and drink of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. So, no argument there. The question is how is one to understand Scripture’s teaching on the sacrament of baptism. And that is where the difference lies between Reformed and Roman Catholic on this issue and how to understand the verse above. You call the Reformed view “mental yoga.” Fine. I would reply that the RC view is two-dimensional in the three-dimensional world of God’s Word.

  144. Mateo,

    Eric, unlike Robert, you have admitted that you can commit sin. Which proves that you are a human being, and you can choose to reject the grace that would sanctify you and make you perfect. Welcome to the human race!

    I believe I have admitted that I can commit sin, but if I haven’t, then Yes, I can commit sin and yes I do commit sin.

    The regenerate cannot commit the sin of final apostasy. But they can and do reject grace all the time. The point is that at the end of the day, salvific grace wins.

  145. The regenerate cannot commit the sin of final apostasy.

    Calvin’s understanding of Heb 6:4-8:

    “To all this I answer, That God indeed favors none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after his image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts. Otherwise, where would be the temporal faith mentioned by Mark 4:17? ”

    Monsieur Jean basically believed that those who have fallen away (past/aorist tense) after having been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the good Word and the powers of the age to come, were essentially reprobates. Mais c’est du n’importe quoi as they say in Geneve. What I find most fascinating and telling in the prose above is the embarrasingly ostentatious equivocation in his response to the glowing description of these believers’ past: suddenly we see the idea that it is not grace proper which had been granted them, but rather this is ‘ some taste grace’, it is not enlightenment in view, but this has now been downgraded to ‘ some sparks of light’ , it is not a taste of the good Word, but rather a mere ‘perception of his goodness’. Any objective observer will notice that there is indeed an obvious sense of unease at the text, which requires the addition/insertion of modifiers to mitigate what was likely massive cognitive dissonance. No wonder Luther wanted it thrown out of the canon.

    My friend, if you are enlightened, a partaker of the Holy Spirit, have tasted the heavenly gift, tasted the Word etc and then turn around and tell me that there is a possibility that you could be unregenerate then you cannot have any present assurance of your salvation, period.

  146. SS,

    Any objective observer will notice that there is indeed an obvious sense of unease at the text, which requires the addition/insertion of modifiers to mitigate what was likely massive cognitive dissonance.

    I know, right. It’s kinda like what I see in you every time you have to deal with Galatians 3, Romans 8:28–30, Hebrews 10:14 and scores of other passages.

    Look, both of us have to deal with “problem passages.” You have to deal with passages that sound as if salvation can’t be lost, and we have to deal with those that sound at first glance as if it can. The question is, who has the better solution and which better fits the overall narrative of Scripture. Your view—which makes you finally responsible for your salvation—is hard to square with the grace of God.

  147. SS,

    My friend, if you are enlightened, a partaker of the Holy Spirit, have tasted the heavenly gift, tasted the Word etc and then turn around and tell me that there is a possibility that you could be unregenerate then you cannot have any present assurance of your salvation, period.

    Wrong. Assurance is not presumption. That is where the once saved always saved folk go off the road. Assurance grows stronger over time, and it something we are to be continually looking for. And you’re assuming a whole lot here, like that enlightened=regeneration, that there is no sense at all whatsoever in any possible world that the Holy Spirit cannot manifest himself to an unregenerate person (but he had no problem with Balaam, did he?), etc. There are plenty of people who know that Jesus did miracles and yet do not believe. Do you want to tell me they’re regenerate, I hope not. Do you want to tell me they are entirely destitute of understanding/enlightenment. I hope not

  148. Robert, you’re objection is stuck in a non sequitur.

    Unlike Calvin, I don’t insert modifiers like ‘some’ into a text whenever I feel like it. The guy in my view, was a weak theologian. Volume can never substitute for quality, which is why I use his books as door stop.

  149. Jack,

    Sacramentally, baptism washes away sins, just as sacramentally we eat and drink of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. So, no argument there. The question is how is one to understand Scripture’s teaching on the sacrament of baptism. And that is where the difference lies between Reformed and Roman Catholic on this issue and how to understand the verse above. You call the Reformed view “mental yoga.” Fine. I would reply that the RC view is two-dimensional in the three-dimensional world of God’s Word.

    Could you explain further? What do you mean by “Sacramentally”? Do you mean an outward sign representing an invisible reality as many Reformed do? Or do you mean an outward, visible sign that both represents and effects the thing signified as is the historic meaning of a sacrament.

    I mean it either does or it does not do what it says it does. Paul does not say it sacramentally washes away sins. Of course that is true that it does. But in any Reformed understanding of the word “sacrament” the verse loses all meaning.

    In the lowest Reformed view ala Zwingli a Sacrament is merely symbolic. In the highest Reformed view at best it may or may not effect what it symbolizes.

    So really they 2D theology is not the Catholic view which believes that God always accomplishes what He promises in the sacraments. Catholicism is thoroughly 3D. It is incarnational through and through.

  150. SS,

    1. Why wasn’t the 3rd servant regenerate?
    2. Why did he receive a talent (a gift of grace) if he wasn’t regenerate?
    3. Why did his Master expect him to have a return if he was unregenerate?
    4. Why was did his Master have him thrown into the outer darkness if he was unregenerate to begin with and unable to invest his talent and produce a return?

    You’re trying to press a simple story about the need to be watchful and alert into a doctrinal treatise on regeneration and perseverance. That’s a basic hermeneutical mistake to start with.

    Also, number 2 is an unproven assumption. Nobody knows what those talents are. Spiritual gifts? Access to the knowledge of God through preaching/teaching/etc.? Personal possessions? I tend to agree with Carson that the talents aren’t specified because the parable is designed for wide practical application. The basic lesson is that God expects his servants to be fruitful and that those who aren’t fruitful don’t get a reward but punishment. Your mistake is seeing the word servant and thinking “regeneration.” Lots of unregenerate people are called servants of God in Scripture. Cyrus would be an example.

    And on a broader theological point, God expects all people to serve Him, even those He knows and has ordained never to serve Him. Expectation of fruit does not equal capability to bear fruit. Jesus cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit even though it was not the time of year for figs. In Adam, we made ourselves incapable to obey God without His grace. But God didn’t just stop expecting people to obey him when Adam fell.

    In sum, if you want this parable to be about regeneration and perseverance, you have to prove that it is. You haven’t done that.

  151. Wrong. Assurance is not presumption. That is where the once saved always saved folk go off the road. Assurance grows stronger over time, and it something we are to be continually looking for. And you’re assuming a whole lot here, like that enlightened=regeneration, that there is no sense at all whatsoever in any possible world that the Holy Spirit cannot manifest himself to an unregenerate person (but he had no problem with Balaam, did he?), etc. There are plenty of people who know that Jesus did miracles and yet do not believe. Do you want to tell me they’re regenerate, I hope not. Do you want to tell me they are entirely destitute of understanding/enlightenment. I hope not

    My point had nothing to do with presumption, that’s a straw man. It had to do with the fact that under your theological grid, you have no grounds for real assurance. Again, if you are enlightened, a partaker of the Holy Spirit, have tasted the heavenly gift, tasted the Word etc and then turn around and tell me that there is a possibility that you could be unregenerate then you cannot have any present assurance of your salvation, period.

    In addition, it’s not that it is just “enlightened” that is a descriptor employed, even though that in and of itself is used of believers always and everywhere else in the NT and there is no contextual reason in Heb 6 to take it otherwise. It is that it is:

    Enlightened PLUS
    Partaker of the Holy Spirit (methochos used everywhere else in Hebrews of regenerate believers only) PLUS
    tasted the heavenly gift (grace via a personal and experience of either Christ or the Holy Spirit, as in Christ ‘tasted’ death for us, he didn’t just take a little nibble at it, he tasted the whole thing) PLUS
    tasted the goodness of the Word of God and powers of the age to come (experienced the effects of the word of God and the gifts of the Spirit)!

    The combined effect of all 5 attributes is unmistakable: it is true believers that we have in view here. This is further verified in the other warning in chapter 10:

    “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him , and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”

    In the above the one who is sanctified! insults the Spirit of Grace. Major honor-shame language going on here, but beyond that, how can anyone argue that the one who is sanctified is unregenerate or reprobate? I guess you can, but don’t expect anyone to think you’re sane or objective.

  152. SS,

    Unlike Calvin, I don’t insert modifiers like ‘some’ into a text whenever I feel like it. The guy in my view, was a weak theologian. Volume can never substitute for quality, which is why I use his books as door stop.

    Well to be fair to Mr. Calvin, he’s not inserting modifiers into the biblical text. His use of “some” appears in his comments as an interpretative expansion of the text, which is what all preachers do when expounding a text. Now, one might be able to debate whether his interpretation is correct, but merely stating that it isn’t should not be construed as an argument.

    That being said, there are places where Mr. Calvin takes flying exegetical leaps. Course, that’s true of everyone. The goal is to avoid that and to correct oneself when they are identified. Thinking that one is not speaking from a tradition, however, makes that impossible. Those who will not admit their traditions are most bound to them.

    As far as Calvin being a weak theologian, thank you for finally admitting that your problems with him really have almost nothing to do with his “violence.” I will say this, however, your weak theologian produced spiritual descendants in the Puritans, the Presbyterians, and others who championed religious freedom and a good many of the other modern benefits you enjoy. So on behalf of Calvin, you’re welcome.

    Today’s Reformation Day. Go thank a Protestant that the infallible pope isn’t hunting you down.

  153. You’re trying to press a simple story about the need to be watchful and alert into a doctrinal treatise on regeneration and perseverance. That’s a basic hermeneutical mistake to start with.

    A weaker dodge I have not seen.

    I am simply asking you, since YOU have said that the third servant is unregenerate , why is he unregenerate and as a corollary, why does His master expect Him to bear fruit to use your language and why does his Master punish him so severely? After all, he is unregenerate and incapable of bearing fruit according to you. So why?

  154. SS,

    Objectivity, thy name is NOT SS. 🙂

    unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him

    Sanctify does not necessarily mean regenerate. Paul says the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife. Does that mean he’s regenerate if he’s an unbeliever?

    You need to read Roger Nicole’s article on Hebrews 6 if you haven’t done so already.

  155. Well to be fair to Mr. Calvin, he’s not inserting modifiers into the biblical text. His use of “some” appears in his comments as an interpretative expansion of the text, which is what all preachers do when expounding a text

    To be fair to Jean and everyone else, that’s called EISEGESIS.

    Further it’s not either or, Calvin bequeathed us both physical/verbal violence and weak theology. He was sadly capable of both at the same time.

    I’ll thank the many Americans who welcomed those who were fleeing from the likes of Calvin and the Pope, thank you very much. It’s a good thing that certain Presbyterians such as Kuyper had the guts to call Calvin’s nonsense out. May all Presbyterians follow suit.

  156. SS,

    When I say the third servant is unregenerate, I’m not pressing the parable into service for that purpose. I should have said that if the parable is indeed about perseverance, then the third servant is unregenerate. You really need to read the rest of my answer, particularly this point:

    And on a broader theological point, God expects all people to serve Him, even those He knows and has ordained never to serve Him. Expectation of fruit does not equal capability to bear fruit. Jesus cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit even though it was not the time of year for figs. In Adam, we made ourselves incapable to obey God without His grace. But God didn’t just stop expecting people to obey him when Adam fell.

    If someone is not regenerate it is because God hasn’t regenerated them. If someone is unregenerate, it is because He fell in Adam. The moral responsibility falls on the person. When somebody does evil, it is because God ordained it. But that person is morally responsible for the act, and God is not. I don’t know how that can be. That is where the Calvinist must say that the thoughts of God are higher than our own thoughts. That’s how Paul answers the same basic question in Romans 9 when Paul asks “Why does He find fault?” The non-Calvinist faces the same issues, but has to result to non-biblical answers.

  157. SS,

    Where Calvin wrongly used the sword, he should be condemned. He was wrong to participate in Servetus’ execution. Is that good enough for you?

  158. SS,

    In Calvin’s commentary on the Heb. 4 passage that you referenced, he specifically mentions the parable of the sower in Mark 4. As Jesus explains that parable one can see what Calvin is getting at concerning those who “tasted” and yet fell away. I’m sure Jesus wasn’t equivocating…

    14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. </b?17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

    A lot of seed gets initially sown on what we could say is less than “good soil” and there are temporal signs of growth related to the word. Question for consideration to you and Robert – what is meant by good soil?

  159. Where Calvin wrongly used the sword, he should be condemned. He was wrong to participate in Servetus’ execution. Is that good enough for you?

    It’s good enough if you agree to never celebrate the man. God has given us standards for our teachers for a reason. If you want to elevate Kuyper as your teacher, go ahead and do it! But don’t throw birthday party bashes for murderers at heart, it is an affront to the name of Christ and everything He stands for. Take this memo and give to RC Sproul, Al Mohler, Pipeer and the whole sorry bunch who throw this kind of event and then giggle around when Servetus is brought up.

  160. SS,

    It’s good enough if you agree to never celebrate the man. God has given us standards for our teachers for a reason. If you want to elevate Kuyper as your teacher, go ahead and do it! But don’t throw birthday party bashes for murderers at heart, it is an affront to the name of Christ and everything He stands for. Take this memo and give to RC Sproul, Al Mohler, Pipeer and the whole sorry bunch who throw this kind of event and then giggle around when Servetus is brought up.

    When you find the perfect church, please don’t join it, because then it won’t be perfect anymore, as one of my seminary professors used to say.

    I’ll take you more seriously on this when you cut out the book of Psalms because David was more of a “murderer in his heart” than Calvin was. Yet God still used him and it is right for us to esteem him.

    It’s easy to bash Calvin. Much harder to actually face the implications of one’s own murderous heart.

  161. Jack,

    Well, since the parable is more aptly named the parable of the soils, this parable is closer to speaking of actual issues of regeneration. The same seed falls on different soils just as the same word falls on different hearts. Yet it only takes root permanently in one. The growth in the other soils is not good, healthy, strong growth. The Word can produce some fruit for a while even in the worst soils—and we all know this from experience having seen people who seem to minister under God’s blessing go apostate—but only good soil produces fruit that endures.

    The fruitful soil does not make itself fruitful. It’s the heart that has been truly regenerated. Might I add, that good soil can’t make itself ungood either.

    Jesus was a good Calvinist after all.

  162. If someone is not regenerate it is because God hasn’t regenerated them. If someone is unregenerate, it is because He fell in Adam. The moral responsibility falls on the person. When somebody does evil, it is because God ordained it. But that person is morally responsible for the act, and God is not. I don’t know how that can be. That is where the Calvinist must say that the thoughts of God are higher than our own thoughts. That’s how Paul answers the same basic question in Romans 9 when Paul asks “Why does He find fault?” The non-Calvinist faces the same issues, but has to result to non-biblical answers.

    So you say that God regenerates some, and He is entirely responsible for the act, but He ordains evil/ does not regenerate others, but is not responsible for their unregenerated state? So when the third servant does wrong, he gets thrown out into the outer darkness of hell even though he was not regenerated and could not obey? Jesus told the parable to get one key point across: God saves but He also expects a return on that salvation, with great consequences for those who do not respond to His grace. The Calvinist stance is utterly illogical and irrational.

    You can justify anything by a reductio with Isaiah 55:8. Here: God can make a rock that is too heavy to lift, because his ways are not your ways. See what I mean? One of the attributes of God is that He is does not contradict Himself, if He did He would not be God. If God is not the source of our temptation, by a fortiori, how much more is He not the source of evil! Evil is the absence of God, not the product of God. How logical is it for you to argue that God does not tempt anyone, but yet is the author of evil?”

    Re Romans 9: it is NOT Paul who asks the question “Why does He find fault”, it is his anticipated/imaginary interlocutor, the one who lacks virtue and in his arrogance tries to find fault with God. God finds fault with wicked men not because He denied men regeneration, but because they refused His Grace and hardened their hearts.

  163. When you find the perfect church, please don’t join it, because then it won’t be perfect anymore, as one of my seminary professors used to say.

    No disagreement there, I am well familiar with the joke, trust me. But where go wrong in your analogy is in suggesting that a lack of perfection must mean that the biblical standard for our leaders ( 1 Tim 3) can be safely ignored when convenient. It is a mistake with unfortunate and tragic evangelical ramifications, as a witness to the world and unbelievers in particular.

    I’ll take you more seriously on this when you cut out the book of Psalms because David was more of a “murderer in his heart” than Calvin was. Yet God still used him and it is right for us to esteem him.

    David repented of his sin and expressed just as much. Calvin never did, in fact, the evidence shows that he delighted in what he had done and continued to boast in it until his dying day. Go look it up, don’t take my word for it, read his own words.

    It’s easy to bash Calvin. Much harder to actually face the implications of one’s own murderous heart.

    God gives you standards for your elders and leaders. It’s a shame that most Presbyterians haven’t understood that in their continual celebration of Calvin.

  164. Robert,

    The Word can produce some fruit for a while even in the worst soils—and we all know this from experience having seen people who seem to minister under God’s blessing go apostate—but only good soil produces fruit that endures….
    The fruitful soil does not make itself fruitful. It’s the heart that has been truly regenerated. Might I add, that good soil can’t make itself ungood either.

    As a certain old life guy would say, “Ding, ding. ding!”

    cheers…

  165. To all Calvinists,

    By one who came from your own, Stanford Rives:

    http://www.amazon.com/Calvin-Murder-Servetus-Stanford-Rives/dp/1439208689/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    Read it and weep.

  166. http://www.amazon.com/Calvin-Murder-Servetus-Stanford-Rives/dp/1439208689/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    Calvin was responsible for 58 murders. And what do ‘teachers’ such as Sproul, Mohler, Piper, Storms etc do? They throw him a birthday bash to celebrate his 500th. Way to go!

  167. SS,

    Don’t let the fact that David was ordering the murders of Joab and others on his deathbed get in the way of your animosity to the man whose efforts are very much responsible for your religious freedom.

    Bit of advice for you. Stay inside in 2017. Just wait till we’re partying over 500 years of Luther’s posting of his 95 theses. I don’t know if you’ll be able to make it. 😉

    Romans 9—Yes, I know it is the interlocutor. The interlocutor is questioning how God can be fair to condemn Pharoah and Esau even though God did not choose them. Its an objection to God’s sovereignty in salvation. No one asks if it is unfair for God to save people and then expect them to show thankfulness and obedience. Such makes sense because it happens on a human level all the time. “Why does he find fault?” is a question that would only be raised if Calvin, et al are right about this passage.

    And as I’ve said to Mateo, you still have the same problem the Calvinist does as to how God can’t be responsible for evil. If he knows its coming and doesn’t stop it, there is a question that needs to be answered.

  168. test

  169. Don’t let an honest confession of a mistake get in the way of your blind allegiance to your tradition. David did not have the Messiah to tell him that he was to bless his enemies and not kill them. Calvin on the other did. To him whom much is given, much will be required…

    You can count me out in 2017, because doubling down and digging deeper when one is in the ditch to begin with is not a wise thing to do.

  170. God punished Esau (figurative for the Edomites in Jewish speak/culture) and Pharaoh for the same reason: not because he had unconditionally elected them unto reprobation, but because of their wickedness towards their fellow man. Obadiah 1:1-10 gives an account of the sins of Edom and Pharaoh’s story is clear enough. It was only after Pharaoh mistreated the Israelites and hardened his heart that God finally sealed it in order to show his wrath and power. God punishes the wicked, and it is a fair judgment. The interlocutor parodies Paul’s writing and falsely attributes a conclusion to Paul that Paul did not hold himself.

  171. Excuse me, but if the best you can do is “I don’t know” in response to the question of who God can ordain evil, do you honestly think you have grounds to turn to me and ask me about Molinism? LOL. The burden of proof lies on you, because you make the more difficult claim by FAR of the two.

  172. Dave H.

    Could you explain further? What do you mean by “Sacramentally”? Do you mean an outward sign representing an invisible reality as many Reformed do? Or do you mean an outward, visible sign that both represents and effects the thing signified as is the historic meaning of a sacrament.

    It cracks me up (again) that you want my understanding of something, i.e. sacrament, and at the same time define your view as “the historic meaning.” Sez your church… That’s your view of the history and the doctrine taught in Scripture. Then I would say that the Reformed view is the historic view. Now where are we?… The Westminster Standards, 3 Forms, and The 39 Articles of Religion would all present te teaching of the sacraments that I would argue (as did the Reformers) is more faithful to Scripture than that of Rome. But you knew that… 😉

    I mean it either does or it does not do what it says it does. Paul does not say it sacramentally washes away sins. Of course that is true that it does. But in any Reformed understanding of the word “sacrament” the verse loses all meaning.

    To say baptism doesn’t sacramentally wash away sins is odd since baptism is a sacrament. There can be no argument over that. The question is, what does it meant to sacramentally wash away sins. You say the actual outward act of the sacrament is what effects justification, regeneration, etc… We would say in the case of Paul, he was justified by Christ, made alive by the Spirit in which his baptism is both a sign and seal of those graces effectually bestowed upon him.

    Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus. A life changing encounter – Paul, interestingly, addresses him as Lord when just moments earlier he had reviled the name of Jesus. Something has happened. Jesus commissions Paul to be his apostle who would take the gospel to the Gentiles and that he would suffer for his Name (see Acts 22,26). Is Jesus commissioning as an apostle a man spiritually dead in his sins? A lot of spiritual activity and reality and face-time with Jesus is going in Paul’s life and he hasn’t even arrived at Damascus nor yet been baptized. Once there he spends time praying before the Lord tells Ananias to go to Paul. Still not baptized… and yet Paul’s effectual prayers are availing much as they are being heard and answered by the Lord (see James 5:16). Still not baptized. Still dead in his sins? The Lord finally tells Ananias to go to Paul, who is then baptized.

    Interesting testimony…

  173. The Word can produce some fruit for a while even in the worst soils—and we all know this from experience having seen people who seem to minister under God’s blessing go apostate—but only good soil produces fruit that endures…. The fruitful soil does not make itself fruitful. It’s the heart that has been truly regenerated. Might I add, that good soil can’t make itself ungood either

    How interesting that you rule out the parable of the talents as having didactic value regarding soteriology, but rush to the parable of the sower to support your theology. How convenient! 🙂 On that rule of YOURS alone I can reject all of your conclusions.

    But if that isn’t enough: your interpretation of the parable of the sower (POTS) presupposes unconditional election firstly and secondly, it presupposes a form of Gnosticism if not Gnosticism outright as in ‘we elect/good soil have been initiated into the mysteries’. But in fact, Jesus was teaching the very opposite of that: he was saying that believers can receive His word and allow the world to choke it. They can receive His word and not put roots down to remain in that word. In other words, they are rocky soil precisely BECAUSE they allow persecution to overcome them and not because they were created rocky soil. The point of the parable is about fruitfulness and if anything it shows that someone can receive the Word, be saved, and yet die because of a lack of endurance in the Grace of God, the exact opposite of what you claim! This is exactly what Heb 10 says:

    “26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth , there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

    I want to draw a parallel between the POTS and Heb 10:26 and the greek epignosis (knowledge) in “after we have received the knowledge of the truth”

    If knowledge here simply means information about Christianity, not much more to say here. But the normal word in Greek for knowledge – gnosis – is not found here. Rather, it is epi-gnosis which means perfect or complete knowledge – EPIGNOSIS always has a connotation of salvation in the NT. It doesn’t refer to just intellectually knowing Christian truths – it refers to an INTIMATE knowledge of God. It isn’t knowing OF the truth, or of God, but KNOWING the truth, and knowing God, intimately.

    Heb 10:26 is thus talking about a saved person sinning deliberately, and not someone never saved in the first place, as in the group in POTS that receives the word with JOY (joy is a gift of the Spirit by the way, not given to the unregenerate).

    2 Peter 1:1-2: “Simeon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of equal value to ours through the righteousness of our God and savior Jesus Christ: may grace and peace be yours in abundance through knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

    Here, the word “Epignosis” is used – NOT “gnosis.” It’s not just talking about knowing OF God and Jesus. It’s talking about truly KNOWING Them. That’s why Peter says that grace and peace are ours THROUGH knowledge, through Epignosis. If we receive grace, which saves, through Epignosis, then we cannot have Epignosis and never have been saved in the first place.

    2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power.”

    Epignosis again. We get everything that makes for life and devotion through Epignosis of God. That’s not just knowing doctrinal facts – that’s having an intimate relationship and a saving faith.

    2 Peter 1:4, “Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.”

    Through what? Through everything that makes for life and devotion. So, through Epignosis, we have everything that makes for life and devotion, and we have the precious and very great promises (one of which is baptism by the Spirit, if you read Acts!) and we can come to share – be partakers in – the divine nature. We escape from the corruption of the world, meaning we escape from sin.

    Thus, to have Epignosis clearly means that you are saved.

    2 Peter 1:5-7, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.”

    Epignosis is NOT used here. Gnosis is.

    Why? Because Peter finally IS just talking about a more intellectual type of knowledge, more of a sense of knowing factoids than knowing a PERSON.

    So, through Epignosis, we can come to have all these things listed, including gnosis. Through a relationship (Epignosis), we can come to know religious information (gnosis).

    Gnosis SUPPLEMENTS our faith, our Epignosis. , But it cannot begin it, as it does in Gnosticism

    2 Peter 1:8-9, “If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who lacks them is blind and shortsighted, forgetful of the cleansing of his past sins.”

    And guess who switched back to Epignosis? Peter just did, because he is talking about salvation again. Peter is saying that if we receive all the benefits of Epignosis listed above, they will help us to be fruitful in the “Epignosis” of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you don’t have those fruits of Epignosis, you forget your previous cleansing.

    Therefore, there is no way that epignosis in Hebrews 10:26 can possibly mean just intellectual knowlege – meaning that that passage disproves calvinism, since it talks about the loss of salvation of a “once saved” person.
    The whole reason that Paul and the other NT writers use “Epignosis” instead of “gnosis” is to attack Gnosticism and separate Christianity from that belief system.

    The POTs, as does Heb 10:26 clearly teaches that one can be regenerated but not finish the race. Deal with it.

  174. Regarding Calvin and Servetus check out this page at Heidelblog (R. Scott Clark, professor of historical theology at WSC):

    http://heidelblog.net/?s=Servetus++Calvin&submit=Search

    That Calvin murdered Servetus is historically inaccurate. And as someone on another blog wrote, “Servetus’ execution was the great “Ecumenical Consensus” of the day – Romanists, Lutherans, and Calvinists all supported his execution. He just happened to be caught in Geneva.

    Any number of historians have debunked Rive’s (a Unitarian, I believe) accusation.

  175. Regarding Clark on Servetus/Calvin, this link specifically:

    http://heidelblog.net/2013/04/the-calvin-as-tyrant-meme-2/

  176. Objectivity, thy name is NOT SS. 🙂

    unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him

    Sanctify does not necessarily mean regenerate. Paul says the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife. Does that mean he’s regenerate if he’s an unbeliever?

    You need to read Roger Nicole’s article on Hebrews 6 if you haven’t done so already.

    It’s not just “sanctified” that is in view, but rather the latter comes in conjunction with “by the blood of the covenant” (same thing as “ the blood of the covenant that sanctified him”)When you put the two together in proper context, you have a real problem on your hands as a Calvinist. Because we all know that the blood of the lamb does indeed sanctify the believer. Only a few verses back, the author (a Messianic Jew, by the way) writes:

    19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,

    Roger Nicole’s work is deficient in that he overemphasizes the allegorical parallels with Israel and fails to do justice to the semantic field in view not only in Heb 6, but also in Heb 10. Sorry, you’re going to have try much harder than that. I want to see your own analysis/defense, not some half baked thoughts.

  177. He was a successful businessman, who manufactured playing cards, and a member of the Petit Conseil and a leading member of the “Libertine” party seeking to discredit Calvin and the Reformation in Geneva. According to Bernard Cottret, Calvin, 187, “he was sentenced to make a circuit of the city, his head bare, a lighted torch in his hand.” This is a translation of CO 21.377, Registres du Conseil 41, fol. 68.

    Surely it strikes us as severe today—It wasn’t for nothing that Calvin was called “The Accusative Case” by his fellow students—but remember the times and the context. Was it a confusion of the civil and ecclesiastical spheres for Calvin to demand civil penalties for being identified with the sufferings of Christ? Absolutely. From the perspective of a distinction between the ecclesiastical and common spheres, Calvin might have had a case before the Consistory but not before the Civil Authorities

    This is from the link above posted by Jack Miller.

    And as I expected, what is the core of the defense? “Aw, shucks, but that was just the way things were done way back yonder”. Well guess what, if that’s the best you got, you got nothing. Countless radical reformers eschewed violence, and they were from ‘way back yonder’ too, in fact they were contemporaries of Calvin too. They understood Jesus very well, regardless of their culture and times, in the Sermon on the Mount To try and pin Cauvin’s violence on a ‘confusion’ between his state duties and church duties is laughably weak a defense too, precisely because Jesus instructed His disciples to render unto Caesar what is his and God what is His, meaning that the two were to never mix. The truth is that Calvin, like every bully, usurped his civilian authorities to murder 58 people. Even the most sympathetic of autobiographers have had to confess his involvement with Servetus as nothing short of murder. Only a Calvinist who’s drink the kool aid can defend that.

    To be fair to ZRIM, who’s not around, not all Calvinists defend Calvin. I just wish there were more of them around here.

  178. SS-

    You are indeed a piece of work… The accusation is that Calvin murdered Servetus? Not was his involvement free from any responsibility in the man’s death under the civil gov’t of Geneva. Any number of historians have debunked the notion that Calvin murdered Servetus without whitewashing the event (Calvin by Bruce Gordon).

    From a much more published and respected historian that Rives, or for that matter SS –

    R.S. Clark:

    Of course, the actually history is much more complicated. Servetus was a well-educated Spanish humanist, physician, and amateur theologian. Servetus published an attack on the doctrine of the Trinity in 1530. He and Calvin corresponded and in 1546 Calvin wrote to William Farel that, should Servetus visit Geneva, he would do his best to see that the heretic did not leave alive and he warned Servetus that, should he come to Geneva, his life would be in danger. Servetus was arrested in Lyons in 1552 for having published heresy against the catholic faith. He was tried and sentenced to death but escaped the prison and strangely made his way to Geneva in July of 1552. Servetus was spotted in church, arrested, and examined twice regarding his teaching on the Trinity. Calvin served as theological prosecutor on behalf of the city council. Servetus was convicted by a unanimous vote of the city council and a majority of the council of 200. Servetus was burned at the stake in October, 1553.

    As a matter of history it is inescapable that Calvin played a central role in the arrest and prosecution of Servetus but it is simply not true that Calvin killed Servetus. The city council is responsible for Servetus’ death. Had Calvin objected to the death penalty it is unlikely that the city council would have listened or could have listened. The House of Savoy was poised to invade Geneva without much provocation. Servetus was a condemned heretic. Had a protestant city failed to death a notorious heretic it would have confirmed the suspicion of Roman critics that the Protestants were nothing but crypto-fanatics, hiding their true colors under a false profession of Trinitarian orthodoxy.

    In fact, the killing of heretics at the stake was not uncommon under Christendom. Rome put her share of Protestants to death (including no fewer than 42,000 Reformed Christians in the period) and both Roman and Protestant magistrates killed about 3,000 Anabaptists (according to Claus Peter Clausen).

    The Reformed ministers in Heidelberg insisted on capital punishment of anti-Trinitarians in 1572 about which very little has been written in English. Arguably, that act was twice as heinous as the action of the Genevan civil authorities. Why then the focus on Servetus’ death? This episode is singled out because it is a convenient way to vilify Calvin and to reinforce the stereotype of Calvin the predestinarian monster of Geneva and, as Worthen’s article illustrates, the image of repressive Reformed churches.

  179. I welcome the ad hominem, it only shows that you have no argument. Of course one can expect the calvary to come to his defense, there’s nothing surprising about that. But as I said, when even the most sympathetic of autobiographers admits Calvin’s violence, there’s not much more to be said.

    In the words of John Piper, “I really wish Calvin had not done that”, speaking of Servetus’ murder. According to your logic Jack, then John Piper is a piece of work too. Thanks for the laugh.

  180. I welcome the ad hominem, it only shows that you have no argument.

    What you take as ad hominem is simply a reaction to your less than charitable comments to anyone who disagrees with you. As for having not an argument… I pointed you to two sources. There’s no lack of argument by other historians that debunk the notion that Calvin murdered Servetus. You simply discount them as disingenuous because you disagree with their conclusions. By the way, I wish Calvin had not participated in that event. I wish Archbishop Cranmer had not taken any role in cases of those that King Henry put to death. Are Calvin and Cranmer murderers? No. Does that discredit Calvin’s “Institutes” or Cranmer’s “Articles of Religion?” No. You seem to only see things in bright whites and blacks. Makes it tough to have a conversation.

  181. What you take as ad hominem is simply a reaction to your less than charitable comments to anyone who disagrees with you

    No the ad hominem is calling someone a ‘piece of work’.

    I believe, as many historians do, even those sympathetic to Calvin, that Calvin murdered Servetus. Had he not, there would be no reason for even John Piper to admit those words. I can just as easily say that you discount those historians a bit too easily, so spare me the condescension.

  182. You seem to only see things in bright whites and blacks. Makes it tough to have a conversation.

    Yeah, I do, like this “Thou shalt not murder”. Pretty white and black to me. If it’s tough for you to converse with that then you’re better off not posting here.

  183. SS,

    Don’t let an honest confession of a mistake get in the way of your blind allegiance to your tradition. David did not have the Messiah to tell him that he was to bless his enemies and not kill them. Calvin on the other did. To him whom much is given, much will be required…

    Since you think you don’t have a tradition, you are far more blind in your allegiance than I ever could be in mine.

    The mistake you are making is that this idea of blessing enemies was something new under the new covenant. It wasn’t.

    The second mistake you make is your failure to apply categories correctly. Calvin should not have been involved in the death of heretics. The state should not be killing heretics. Guess what, Calvin grew up in an environment when the church held the power of the sword. It is something that never should have happened. People will look back on our era and wonder why we couldn’t get past certain things.

    The third mistake you make is your assumption that you would have done any differently had you lived in the same situation and faced the same realities. Hindsight is always 20/20.

  184. SS,

    God punished Esau (figurative for the Edomites in Jewish speak/culture) and Pharaoh for the same reason: not because he had unconditionally elected them unto reprobation, but because of their wickedness towards their fellow man. Obadiah 1:1-10 gives an account of the sins of Edom and Pharaoh’s story is clear enough. It was only after Pharaoh mistreated the Israelites and hardened his heart that God finally sealed it in order to show his wrath and power. God punishes the wicked, and it is a fair judgment. The interlocutor parodies Paul’s writing and falsely attributes a conclusion to Paul that Paul did not hold himself.

    Except that God told Moses that he was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart even before Pharaoh heard the message and had a chance to respond. I’d say nice try, but that would be a lie.

  185. Since you think you don’t have a tradition, you are far more blind in your allegiance than I ever could be in mine.

    Logic fail.

    The mistake you are making is that this idea of blessing enemies was something new under the new covenant. It wasn’t.

    Can you support this claim? Let’s take an eye for an eye, for example.

    The second mistake you make is your failure to apply categories correctly. Calvin should not have been involved in the death of heretics. The state should not be killing heretics. Guess what, Calvin grew up in an environment when the church held the power of the sword. It is something that never should have happened. People will look back on our era and wonder why we couldn’t get past certain things. </i?

    Christ's teaching transcends and is intended to transform 'categories'. Menno Simons also grew up in an environment when the church held the power of the sword, and he not only came to this conclusion but lived it.

    "“ For true evangelical faith…cannot lie dormant; but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love; it…clothes the naked; feeds the hungry; consoles the afflicted; shelters the miserable; aids and consoles all the oppressed; returns good for evil; serves those that injure it; prays for those that persecute it." "

    The third mistake you make is your assumption that you would have done any differently had you lived in the same situation and faced the same realities. Hindsight is always 20/20.

    I don’t need to inject myself into the situation of the medieval at all. It is enough to point to the Anabaptist leaders who rejected violence to invalidate your rationalization for Calvin’s violence.

  186. Except that God told Moses that he was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart even before Pharaoh heard the message and had a chance to respond. I’d say nice try, but that would be a lie.

    Pharaoh’s heart was already hard against the Hebrews and God had foreknowledge ofthat.That’s why God hard- ened it. He took that which was already full of hatred for the Hebrews and used it against itself, for surely it was Pharaoh’s decision to pursue them into the Red Sea that was his final downfall.

    Try again.

  187. SS,

    Excuse me, but if the best you can do is “I don’t know” in response to the question of who God can ordain evil, do you honestly think you have grounds to turn to me and ask me about Molinism? LOL. The burden of proof lies on you, because you make the more difficult claim by FAR of the two.

    1. It’s more difficult, at first glance, morally, but not exegetically. Even the most skilled Molinists will admit you can’t find it in Scripture. I have the grounds because Molinism has no exegetical foundation. You may hate Calvinism, but it does have an exegetical basis even if you think it is not conclusive.

    2. The burden of proof is not on me because you are the one that apparently thinks God deciding to create a world in which he knows the Holocaust will happen is somehow more morally acceptable than one in which He ordains it. It’s not. There would be no Holocaust without his creative act. At this point you have to say you don’t know how God can’t be blamed for it in a moral sense.

    So we’re both left saying I don’t know, except Molinism has no exegetical warrant.

  188. SS,

    So God knew Pharaoh would do what he would do and he still allowed it anyway. There ain’t no “free choice” in that like you want it to be. If God foreknows it, it cannot happen any other way. Even in Molinism, once God decides to actualize the possible world, it is set as to what will happen in that world.

    You have the same “problem” that all theism has.

  189. SS,

    Menno Simons never had political power like Calvin did. He’s not a good contrasting example.

    Eye for an Eye was meant as a judgment in legal cases for assessing the maximum penalty depending on the circumstances on the crime and not for interpersonal relations. See just about any commentary on Pentateuch. The New Testament does not overturn it.

    The whole thing about doing good to your enemy and heaping ashes on his head in Romans—yeah, that’s from Proverbs.

  190. So we’re both left saying I don’t know, except Molinism, scratch that, Calvinism has no exegetical warrant.

    There, I did a fine job proving myself there 🙂

    That God foreknows does not necessitate that He be the causal agent behind it. We’ve gone down this alley before, no need to reinvent the wheel. But if you insist.

    I contend that Molinism offers a more cogent and coherent meta narrative than its alternatives. You are free to disagree with me, and the finest apologists the faith has ever known, Alvin Plantiga and Lane Craig among them.

  191. SS,

    This is probably all I have time for tonight, but we’ll see. I’ll get back to you tommorow if it is so.

    But if that isn’t enough: your interpretation of the parable of the sower (POTS) presupposes unconditional election firstly and secondly, it presupposes a form of Gnosticism if not Gnosticism outright as in ‘we elect/good soil have been initiated into the mysteries’.

    1. Well, I can admit I have a tradition and I do know that I bring a presupposition of unconditional election to my reading of Scripture. The sad thing is that I have yet to see you admit what your presuppositions are. You don’t want to be lumped in with Protestants, but you are basically saying you are a restorationist Protestant with such an approach.

    2. Gnosticism is the biggest non sequitir I’ve seen from you. Generally, you’re a better thinker than that.

  192. SS,

    I contend that Molinism offers a more cogent and coherent meta narrative than its alternatives. You are free to disagree with me, and the finest apologists the faith has ever known, Alvin Plantiga and Lane Craig among them.

    You may disagree with Calvinism’s reading of Scripture. The fact that neither of these men attempts to make an exegetical case for Molinism is enough to prove it is a philosophical construct imposed upon the Scriptures. At least standard Arminianism attempts to make an exegetical case for itself.

    God is the causal agent in some sense behind everything that happens. Molinism does not escape that. He did not have to create. He created knowing that evil would happen and apparently having no purpose in it until he knew the evil would happen, at which point he was really, really lucky that somebody chose to obey him.

    If I created a scenario in which I knew Tom would certainly murder Bill, my butt would be hauled off to jail. So no, Molinism doesn’t solve the problem.

    Be a Molinist if you want to, just don’t think that in so doing you have answered the question or “absolved” God from involvement in evil or responsibility in any way for it. You haven’t.

  193. From the Piper conference and the discussion on Servetus and Calvin. Oddly enough, a couple of the panelists echoing and expanding on my comments…

    http://youtu.be/h7-YQ9WZmw8

  194. Menno Simons never had political power like Calvin did. He’s not a good contrasting example.

    It is precisely because it was against his beliefs to gain political power that he did not. He was a model of leadership in the reformation, a voice of reason amidst the partisan ugliness.

    Eye for an Eye was meant as a judgment in legal cases for assessing the maximum penalty depending on the circumstances on the crime and not for interpersonal relations. See just about any commentary on Pentateuch. The New Testament does not overturn it.

    Excuse me? This show is getting better and better. The New Testament does not overturn an eye for an eye? So if someone does to you as Calvin did to men, and they torture you by plucking your eye out, you have a mandate to do the same to them? Then what are you waiting for? Join the muslims and their jihad against any infidels, especially non Calvinists. I am willing to bet that had society today allowed for that, Calvinists would be the first jihadists among christians. You need to turn to Matt 5 please, and sooner than later.

    The whole thing about doing good to your enemy and heaping ashes on his head in Romans—yeah, that’s from Proverbs

    Notwithstanding that, Jesus took the grace that was in the old, to an entirely new level, in the new covenant. How could it have not been so, when He indeed fulfilled the Law, meaning He caused it to stand by properly interpreting it and living it.

  195. If I created a scenario in which I knew Tom would certainly murder Bill, my butt would be hauled off to jail. So no, Molinism doesn’t solve the problem.

    Be a Molinist if you want to, just don’t think that in so doing you have answered the question or “absolved” God from involvement in evil or responsibility in any way for it. You haven’t.

    You can add Ravi Zacharias too to the list, I guess he doesn’t have an exegetical case either, according to you. Tsk tsk.

    You presuppose your beliefs in the above first statement. “If I created a scenario”. God did not create Pharaoh’s hatred of the Hebrews, as Calvinism teaches, Pharaoh did. Pharaoh was a free agent. He could have willed for good, or he could have willed evil. He chose the latter and God said finally to him, after multiple warnings to be beyond reproach, “I second your motion”.

    The more appropriate analogy would be this: if I created Tom and Bill, and allowed them to make free choices for either good or evil, and I knew that this freedom was the consequence of having a legitimate relationship with both of them, and I knew to my dismay that tragically Tom would murder Bill, but also knew that I would restore Bill to life and that Tom would be judged for his deed, I would ask anyone challenging my work to actualize a world that could allow for all these variables (moral freedom, eternal life, justice and righteousness) and somehow avoid evil in the process.

    Can you, Robert, or can anyone do that? Go ahead, challenge Him. Put your money where you mouth is.

    Start by fashioning a human being with moral freedom in his/her mother’s womb. And no, let me slap you on your hand….get your own dust!

  196. Where’s the bartender (single malt with a splash of water)? I’m lighting up an Arturo Fuente. Jason, get one of your Gurkha cigars and join me. I’m going out on the veranda…

  197. Comment

  198. Reformation Day… R. Scott Clark explains it and the Reformation quite clearly…

    What Reformation Day Really Is

  199. SS,

    I really need to go to bed.

    1. Calvinism does not say that God “created” Pharaoh’s evil. Typical misunderstanding of Calvinism there. You can do better.

    2. You aren’t paying attention. Eye for an Eye was a commandment never meant to cover interpersonal relationships but legal judgments. The Sermon on the Mount deals with the former. To read the Sermon on the Mount the way you are means we need to disband the army, and the police force, heck, any means of self-defense. Go ahead, be consistent.

    3. Calvin didn’t seek political power. It was forced upon him. Next time a city in bad need of help comes to you asking for leadership, let’s see you turn it down. Once again, it’s easy to judge past figures by modern standards and sensibilities. BTW, no Calvin, no Calvin College, no Calvin College, no Plantiga. Again, you’re welcome. You really need to sit down and thank the Lord for all the good he has brought to you through the influence of John Calvin and those who took his ideas, developed them further, and started colleges, hospitals, universities, advocated for political and religious freedoms, etc. etc. Even a Protestant like me can recognize God’s providential use of the papacy at certain points in history and be grateful for it.

    4. Good on Simons for not seeking political power. But your beef isn’t really with Calvin over his power but over his determinism.

    5. It’s an unfounded assertion to say libertarian freedom is necessary for true relationship. I never “chose” to love my children; I just did. I guess that means my relationship with them isn’t real.

    6. So evil is necessary now. The all wise God could not possibly have created a universe in which evil never would have entered. Oh wait, God’s just dealing with the hand he’s been dealt like Bill Craig says, right? God really is lucky one of those possible worlds had someone in it who would love Him.

    7. So God created a universe in which evil was certainly going to happen but he’s not guilty of that evil in a moral sense. However, if he ordains evil he is guilty of it. Still trying to figure out how putting a scenario in place in which you know disaster will come about makes you “less culpable” or “not culpable.” Say you don’t know how this is possible and that is fine, but then you are left with what the Calvinist says, and with no exegetical case for Molinism. Again, this is something that the philosophers you mention basically admit.

    8. If God knows that Pharaoh isn’t going to heed his warnings, how are his warnings real warnings? There is no real possibility for Pharaoh to do otherwise. God’s knowledge can’t be falsified.

    Once again, you’re left with the same problems facing all theists, and scant exegesis upon which to answer them.

  200. Robert, you write:

    … Yes, I can commit sin and yes I do commit sin.

    The Calvinists that are already-damned-but-don’t-know-it-yet commit sin too. So tell me Robert, how can anyone that is a Calvinist possibly have any assurance that they are NOT one of the already-damned-but-don’t-know-it-yet? Do the “special people” have a burning in the bosom that tells them that they are one of the “special people” or what?

    The regenerate cannot commit the sin of final apostasy.

    Says who? Not scriptures!

    But they [the regenerate] can and do reject grace all the time.

    If a Calvinist can resist grace by rejecting grace, then why do Calvinists insist on saying that grace is irresistible? It is simply irrational to assert that grace is both irresistible and resistible at the same time, unless you are talking about two different graces, like, say, operating grace and cooperating grace.

    The point is that at the end of the day, salvific grace wins.

    That is no point at all; that is an irrational assertion based on an irrational premise.

    And as I’ve said to Mateo, you still have the same problem the Calvinist does as to how God can’t be responsible for evil. If he knows its coming and doesn’t stop it, there is a question that needs to be answered.

    God is all holy. God is light, in him there is NO darkness. I don’t have a problem, the Calvinists have the problem, because the Calvinists are contradicting scriptures. According to the Calvinists, in God there is darkness, a lot of darkness, since, according to the Calvinists, God is the source and cause of all evil.

  201. Jack,

    You had me at single malt with a splash.

    Dave

  202. Jack,

    It cracks me up (again) that you want my understanding of something, i.e. sacrament, and at the same time define your view as “the historic meaning.” Sez your church… That’s your view of the history and the doctrine taught in Scripture. Then I would say that the Reformed view is the historic view. Now where are we?… The Westminster Standards, 3 Forms, and The 39 Articles of Religion would all present te teaching of the sacraments that I would argue (as did the Reformers) is more faithful to Scripture than that of Rome. But you knew that…

    C’mon, brother. You are dodging the actual issue. Yes I do say it is historical because this view is extant in the the Fathers and all generations of the Church for 2000 years. The Reformation era documents are noverl in church history. Not because I say so but because the historical evidence overwhelmingly bears that out.

    You are restating your position and claiming it is more Biblical but you are not engaging the actual text at all.

    To say baptism doesn’t sacramentally wash away sins is odd since baptism is a sacrament. There can be no argument over that. The question is, what does it meant to sacramentally wash away sins. You say the actual outward act of the sacrament is what effects justification, regeneration, etc… We would say in the case of Paul, he was justified by Christ, made alive by the Spirit in which his baptism is both a sign and seal of those graces effectually bestowed upon him.

    Read what I said again please. I said it does. But St. Paul does not qualify how Baptism washed away his sins by saying “sacramentally”. Of course it was sacramental – that is my point. But what does that mean? You still have not explained that verse at all. You seem to be dancing around it. I can understand why as verses like this do not fit into your systematics.


    Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus. A life changing encounter – Paul, interestingly, addresses him as Lord when just moments earlier he had reviled the name of Jesus. Something has happened. Jesus commissions Paul to be his apostle who would take the gospel to the Gentiles and that he would suffer for his Name (see Acts 22,26). Is Jesus commissioning as an apostle a man spiritually dead in his sins? A lot of spiritual activity and reality and face-time with Jesus is going in Paul’s life and he hasn’t even arrived at Damascus nor yet been baptized. Once there he spends time praying before the Lord tells Ananias to go to Paul. Still not baptized… and yet Paul’s effectual prayers are availing much as they are being heard and answered by the Lord (see James 5:16). Still not baptized. Still dead in his sins? The Lord finally tells Ananias to go to Paul, who is then baptized.

    Interesting testimony…

    His calling was completed by being baptized – otherwise what was the point? Again you are turning away from this passage to explain it away by other passages. Were the Jews at Pentecost all set when they were cut to the quick? Or when they obeyed, believed and were baptized. Could they have walked away justified otherwise? How about the Ethiopian eunuch?

    Please deal directly with this passage. Was Ananias using hyperbole? Did Jesus not really mean that the Apostles should make disciples by baptizing people?

    You term phrase above “the actual outward act” of baptism is telling and betrays the soft gnosticism of the Reformed branch of the Reformation. It misses a huge part of the Incarnational aspect of Christianity. That God does in fact use “outward” acts that He has ordained as real means of grace – not simply as “outward” signs signifying, yet still divorced from the spiritual reality.

    Was Jesus baptism just an outward sign?

    Is a Christian marriage just an outward sign of an invisible reality? Or does God actually do something that unites a man and woman in the rite of matrimony. If you think about it, even the most non-Sacramental protestant becomes a Catholic in their wedding day. Why because you do not believe it is the intention of the man and woman alone, or the already existing love and emotional bond that unites them in marriage. You believe it is the rite itself. Now just take that sacramental understanding that you already have and apply it to the rest of the Sacraments.

    Dave

  203. +JMJ+

    Dave H wrote:

    You [Jack] term phrase above “the actual outward act” of baptism is telling and betrays the soft gnosticism of the Reformed branch of the Reformation. It misses a huge part of the Incarnational aspect of Christianity.

    It’s like saying “the actual outward Jesus”, as if this “manifestation/avatara” is a sign pointing to some true, invisible Spirit Jesus.

  204. SS,

    It’s not just “sanctified” that is in view, but rather the latter comes in conjunction with “by the blood of the covenant” (same thing as “ the blood of the covenant that sanctified him”)When you put the two together in proper context, you have a real problem on your hands as a Calvinist. Because we all know that the blood of the lamb does indeed sanctify the believer. Only a few verses back, the author (a Messianic Jew, by the way) writes:
    19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,
    Roger Nicole’s work is deficient in that he overemphasizes the allegorical parallels with Israel and fails to do justice to the semantic field in view not only in Heb 6, but also in Heb 10. Sorry, you’re going to have try much harder than that. I want to see your own analysis/defense, not some half baked thoughts.

    The elementary exegetical mistake you making is that you are failing to take into account the overall message of the book. The author of Hebrews is clearly making the presentation that the blood of Jesus/Jesus sacrifice is effectual while the blood of the old covenant was not. If the atonement of Jesus can fail to save those for whom it was made, it is the exact same atonement as offered by the old covenant priests which also failed to save those for whom it was made. Instead of pointing forward to an atonement that works, the old covenant sacrifices typify a sacrifice that doesn’t work for all that is offered for. Jesus blood is insufficient to save. It makes salvation potential but not actual.

    Hebrews 10:14 says very clearly that Jesus’ offering has perfected/made complete all those who are currently being sanctified. Reading verse 29 in the way that you are reading it introduces a contradiction within the very same chapter. If one can be regenerate today and undergoing the process of sanctification, then he hasn’t been perfected for all time. At best he’s been perfected up until the point of apostasy, and that isn’t even a good way to phrase it.

    Verse 29 has to be read in a way that harmonizes with verse 14, and your reading just will not do it. Verse 14 doesn’t by his offering Jesus might perfect; it says he has perfected—perfect tense. Past definitive action with ongoing ramifications. His offering has perfected His people such that they continue always in that perfection.

    So, we’re left with how to understand verse 29. I’ve already suggested one possibility, and that is sanctification can refer to being set apart for God’s use without being regenerate. I don’t even think that’s the strongest possibility. Grammatically, the one sanctified by the blood is not necessarily the professing believer. The closest antecedents are either Jesus or the covenant. Jesus is sanctified or made the high priest by the blood or the covenant is set apart/made effectual by Jesus’ blood. In this case, the apostate treats as common the Lord who was set apart to be the one mediator by his blood or he treats as common the covenant which was made effectual by the blood of Christ. That fits quite well with Hebrews’ warning about going back to the old covenant. Go back to the old covenant and you are saying that Jesus is as common as those sacrifices, that he’s unable to save.

    But the author has already said that Jesus is not only able to save but that He perfects those who have trusted in him. He doesn’t just possibly perfect them. This, in turn, fits in quite well with Hebrews 12 with Jesus being not only the founder but also the perfecter of our faith. If one can resist Christ in the state of regeneration, my final salvation is dependent on my “yes” to Christ. He won’t perfect me unless I let him. That’s not a perfecter, that’s an enabler unto perfection. That’s not a better covenant.

    Basically you are left saying that it is not Jesus blood that sanctifies us but our decision to accept His blood that sanctifies us. Salvation is finally up to me. His blood is necessary but it’s not good enough. Something more than Jesus is needed. But the whole point of Hebrews is that while something more than the animal sacrifices is needed to save us, nothing more than Jesus is needed. That’s the whole point about the finality of his sacrifice, his role as the perfecter of our faith, the inadequacy of the old covenant, and so much more.

  205. Robert, you write:

    If one can resist Christ in the state of regeneration, my final salvation is dependent on my “yes” to Christ. He won’t perfect me unless I let him.

    Robert, you contradict yourself. You think that you are regenerate and you admit that you can resist grace by rejecting grace (i.e. by sinning, which is something that you admit that you do). You also assert that your salvation is by faith alone, which would mean that your salvation is dependent upon your “yes” to Christ, since without that “yes” you would have no faith in Christ.

    He won’t perfect me unless I let him.

    That is correct! A man cannot be perfected by choosing to sin instead of choosing to cooperate with the grace that sanctifies him. If a man resists grace by rejecting grace, the man is NOT allowing Christ to perfect him.

    Basically you are left saying that it is not Jesus blood that sanctifies us but our decision to accept His blood that sanctifies us. Salvation is finally up to me.

    The heresy of semi-Pelagianism is that one can say yes to Christ apart from grace. The Catholic Church has condemned semi-Pelagianism as heresy. The ONLY way that a man can confess Jesus Christ as his Lord is by the Holy Spirit.

    … no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:3

    To have Jesus as your Lord means making the choice to obey him when he demands that you keep his commandments, which is something that can only be done when one is in a state of grace.

    It seems to me that your real problem is that Calvinism teaches that grace can only operate monergistically. Now it is true that operating grace is monergistic, and is effectual monergistically. But the heresy of Calvinism is that the only grace is grace that is monergistic. If you would accept that there is also grace that is effectual that is synergistic, then your problem with understanding the bible would begin to disappear, and you could embrace a soteriology where you do not have to constantly contradict yourself.

  206. Mateo,

    It is increasingly clear that you have no clue as to what Reformed theology actually teaches.

    Robert, you contradict yourself. You think that you are regenerate and you admit that you can resist grace by rejecting grace (i.e. by sinning, which is something that you admit that you do). You also assert that your salvation is by faith alone, which would mean that your salvation is dependent upon your “yes” to Christ, since without that “yes” you would have no faith in Christ.

    The elect reject grace only temporarily. In the end, grace always wins. My salvation is dependent on Christ, who guarantees that all those whom he has died for will truly say yes. I can’t take any credit for my faith. If salvific grace is resistible, then grace is not enough to save me. If salvific grace is irresistible then God, without my help, guarantees that I will have faith. I contribute nothing.

    The heresy of semi-Pelagianism is that one can say yes to Christ apart from grace. The Catholic Church has condemned semi-Pelagianism as heresy. The ONLY way that a man can confess Jesus Christ as his Lord is by the Holy Spirit.

    Actually, that is the heresy of full on Pelagianism. The RC Church officially condemns Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism but in practice accepts the latter. Y’all are synergists.

    It seems to me that your real problem is that Calvinism teaches that grace can only operate monergistically. Now it is true that operating grace is monergistic, and is effectual monergistically. But the heresy of Calvinism is that the only grace is grace that is monergistic. If you would accept that there is also grace that is effectual that is synergistic, then your problem with understanding the bible would begin to disappear, and you could embrace a soteriology where you do not have to constantly contradict yourself.

    Regenerating grace is monergistic because it guarantees conversion. Effectual grace that does not guarantee conversion is misnamed. It should be called potentially effectual grace.

    On this matter have no trouble understanding the Bible. God always completes the works he starts. He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. Rome denies this categorically in positing this class of people who are given grace only half way—enough to convert them but not enough to bring them into heaven.

    And by the way, Calvinists do not believe that God creates evil.

  207. Robert,
    “The RC Church officially condemns Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism but in practice accepts the latter. Y’all are synergists.”

    This is rather silly – were Aquinas and Augustine semi-Pelagian because they were synergists? I have a feeling you might reply (contra all reputable scholarship) that they were monergists. If so, I’d still feel a little weird blatantly writing off the entire history of Eastern Christianity as semi-Pelagian just because the East were all synergists. Synergism does not equal semi-Pelagianism.

    I have a few questions for you related to the will.

    Does God have LFW? Could he have chose to create or not create?
    Did Adam and Eve have LFW?
    Did the angels before the Lucifer’s fall have LFW?

    Lastly, related to your discussion with Mateo. Do you view sanctification as synergistic? When you sin, are you resisting grace in order to do so, or is God not giving you sufficient grace in that instance to resist your fall into sin? Does God give you a different type/kind of grace in justification/regeneration than he does in sanctification? If sanctification is synergistic, why does it not fall prey to your same concerns about “boasting”/”detracting from glory of God” as you level against synergism in justification?

  208. Robert–

    Actually, Roman Catholic soteriology is semi-Augustinian, which is more like a semi-semi-Pelagianism. Logically, one cannot accept fewer than the five points of Calvinism without subverting the whole of it, and much the same is true for Augustine’s Doctrines of Grace. Semi-Pelagianism proper requires Man to make the first move toward God unaided. Instead, Catholicism inserts prevenient grace, which then allows one to freely choose for God or not.

    The fact that everyone gets prevenient grace more or less makes Catholic soteriology the equivalent of Pelagianism. For in Pelagianism, the ability to choose for God is built in…same difference really. We are all created by God. We can easily claim the “necessity” of grace even if we think we basically do everything on our own.

    I have seen the same type of irrational hostility toward Calvinism (exhibited by SS) over and over and over again. William Lane Craig displays it. The very term “semi-Pelagian” was coined by the Dominicans to describe Jesuit Molinists. They cannot stand their so-called “freedom” being taken away from them. They are veritably enamored of their self-autonomy. Thomists aren’t as bad, but they are wedded to a non-Augustinian view of prevenient grace. For Augustine, prevenient grace is just for the elect. That’s right. He actually believed in grace…gracious grace.

  209. @Eric,

    For Augustine, prevenient grace is just for the elect. That’s right. He actually believed in grace…gracious grace.

    Augustine, On Rebuke and Grace 13.40:

    it must be believed that some of the children of perdition, who have not received the gift of perseverance to the end, begin to live in the faith which works by love, and live for some time faithfully and righteously, and afterwards fall away, and are not taken away from this life before this happens to them.

    Note that he doesn’t say “seem to begin to live in the faith which works by love.” I have never found clear textual evidence that Augustine believed that only the elect receive the grace of justification. If you have any, I’d be very interested in seeing it.

    best,
    John

  210. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    The fact that everyone gets prevenient grace more or less makes Catholic soteriology the equivalent of Pelagianism. For in Pelagianism, the ability to choose for God is built in…same difference really.

    So, Grace couldn’t possibly be a Free Gift if every man were to get it?

  211. Eric,
    Good points but I must concur with John – all regenerate are NOT all the elect in Augustine’s view – the elect are those regenerate/justified who are also given the grace of perseverance.

    And yes Dominicans had no love for the Jesuits and in fact Calvinists (some even who participated at Dordt) of the 16th and 17th century approvingly cited Thomists/scholastics such as Banez and Alvarez in some of their disputes on predestination.
    As for prevenient grace, Thomists can distinguish between sufficient and efficacious grace – and whether efficacious grace is intrinsically efficacious (which in a certain sense can be understood as irresistible). Nuanced for sure, but Garrigou-Lagrange notes intrinsically efficacious grace holds that the will *could* and does have the power to resist it, but it infallibly will not and infallibly will freely consent (hence it is intrinsically efficacious and consonant with Thomas’ view of predilection) and thus still falls within parameters of Trent. He uses the example of a seated man retaining real power to rise, distinguishing between power to resist and actual resistance. But yes sufficient grace is given to all; man will have no excuse at judgment (‘Destruction is thy own, O Israel: thy help is only in Me’ and ‘What do you have that you did not receive?’ is quoted over and over by Garrigou-Lagrange to balance culpability in damnation, grace in salvation), but RCs can hold that sufficient grace is given to all while efficacious is only given to some.

  212. Dave H wrote:
    You [Jack] term phrase above “the actual outward act” of baptism is telling and betrays the soft gnosticism of the Reformed branch of the Reformation. It misses a huge part of the Incarnational aspect of Christianity.

    W-B wrote:
    It’s like saying “the actual outward Jesus”, as if this “manifestation/avatara” is a sign pointing to some true, invisible Spirit Jesus.

    Soft gnosticism… Kind of like the soft Pelagianism of the Roman Catholic Church?
    Your Spanish Inquisition skirts may be showing… So now I have to defend against a type of gnosticism and Docetism? By all means, don’t ask for clarification…

    Is this part of the CtC methodology of how to win converts and influence the Reformed?

  213. Eric,

    Yeah, thanks for that. I know that properly speaking Rome isn’t semi-Pelagian, but I struggle to label them. After all, there are differeing views within the communion. Semi-semi-Pelagian is helpful.

    Calvinism does provoke irrational responses, doesn’t it? I understand existentially why people don’t like it. The thing that always gets me is that the contrary systems do not get around the problem of whether or not God is morally culpable for evil in any theistic system, especially Christianity, but that those who hold them cannot bring themselves to admit it. At some point, we have to say that we don’t know, which is basically where Paul and Job leave us. At that point, the issue becomes which view has exegetical basis. And even someone like Bill Craig admits that there basically isn’t any exegetical basis for Molinism.

    But when one is blind to one’s traditions, one can’t see it.

  214. +JMJ+

    Jack Miller wrote:

    So now I have to defend against a type of gnosticism and Docetism? By all means, don’t ask for clarification…

    Considering that Reformism is incapable of mounting a positive apologetic, I don’t expect any. However, it might be profitable for you to simply mediate the things we’ve said here.

    Incarnate God? Disincarnate Economy? “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong…” and all that jazz.

  215. Eric, you write:

    Semi-Pelagianism proper requires Man to make the first move toward God unaided.

    That is correct, and that is why the Catholic Church condemns semi-Pelagianism. No man can make the first step toward God unaided by grace.

    Instead, Catholicism inserts prevenient grace, which then allows one to freely choose for God or not. The fact that everyone gets prevenient grace more or less makes Catholic soteriology the equivalent of Pelagianism. For in Pelagianism, the ability to choose for God is built in…same difference really.

    Eric, you are proving once again that you do not understand what the Catholic Church teaches. Pelagianism is the heresy that a man apart from grace can live a sanctified life wholly pleasing to God out of self effort and will power alone. The Catholic Church condemns Pelagianism as heresy.

    I want to return to the heresy of semi-Pelagianism, and why the Catholic Church does not teach semi-Pelagianism. To do this we can break apart this verse of scripture:

    Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
    Revelation 3:20

    The Council of Trent teaches that before an unregenerate man can desire the grace of regeneration brought about by the Sacrament of Baptism, that God has to first give the man the actual grace of prevenient grace. This actual grace is also called operating grace. Operating grace is monergistic, and as such, it is irresistible. Prevenient grace is what make a man hear God knocking at the door. In this grace, God works in man, without man.

    But the man has to exercise his free will to open the door before God will come in, as is explicitly stated in Rev. 3:20. The man cannot open the door apart from grace, and to be able to respond positively to the call from God, God gives the man the actual grace of “quickening and assisting grace”, also called called cooperating grace. This grace is synergistic, and with this grace, God works in man, with man. Cooperating grace can be resisted – a man can hear the Lord knocking, but not let him in.

    If a person has reached the age of reason, and has not yet been regenerated by the Sacrament of Baptism, the Catholic Church teaches that that person must receive the actual graces of operating and cooperating grace before he or she can desire to be saved by baptismal regeneration. This teaching is de fide definita, (the dogma was defined at Trent), and no practicing Catholic can deny this teaching without embracing heresy.

  216. Robert, you write:

    The elect reject grace only temporarily.

    A grace that can be rejected is, by definition, not monergistic! Since Calvinists reject the idea of any grace that is synergistic, (grace which can be rejected) you, once again, contradict yourself.

  217. Wos –

    Incarnate God? Disincarnate Economy? “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong…” and all that jazz.

    Who talks like this? I know, I know… I’m “incapable of mounting a positive apologetic.”
    Are you capable of proclaiming the unadulterated gospel of salvation? I wait to hear.

  218. James–

    Yeah, I understand what you’re saying. And Augustine “sides” with the Thomists (in some sense) when it comes to the ability of the believer to possess assurance that he will persevere. But the interpretation of Augustine is invariably anachronistic. He often didn’t delineate between Lutheran, Reformed, and Thomistic understandings. So we all read our own tradition into him.

    The concept of sufficient vs. efficacious varieties of prevenient grace differs from Calvinism but little. A seated man, who under no circumstance WILL rise, cannot actually prove that he CAN rise. It remains hypothetical (even though an orthopedist may declare him fit to stand). There is no significant difference between saying the non-elect do not receive prevenient grace and saying they do not receive an efficacious version thereof. It seems to afford you more comfort in saying that God is fair in his judgments than you otherwise would. But Calvinists are by no means uncomfortable.

    I have always heard that Augustine believed the non-elect did not receive prevenient grace. I haven’t been able to locate a quote either to corroborate that or negate it. I have spoken before when Lutheran understandings of regeneration came up that comparing any understanding of “regeneration” that is not tied to election with the Calvinist understanding of regeneration is to compare apples and oranges. We could go with the “sufficient” vs. “efficacious” qualifications again. Augustine, I would suggest, would maintain that the elect are efficaciously regenerated while the non-elect are not. I can live with that.

    To me, those who are temporarily enlightened or who but “taste” of the heavenly gift differ from the elect like night and day. They are like barnacles on a ship or lampreys on a trout or moss on the northern exposure of a tree trunk, temporarily along for the ride, but not an integral part of the whole.

  219. Mateo–

    I give you fair warning: I will write off the next person who tells me I do not understand Catholicism when all I have done is disagree with it.

    I was telling you that if you posit prevenient grace as an innate quality of every man, then it is simply a general grace. Everything about us–our character, our will, our natural abilities–can be ascribed to the general grace of our creator God. In other words, prevenient grace as a universal characteristic places you in the same category as Pelagianists when it comes to how you both speak of “grace.”

    If you believe that it was within your own power to “open the door” to Christ, then you are a functional Pelagianist. We Calvinists believe that we do indeed open the door, but only because were first regenerated.

  220. Mateo–

    Monergism for the Calvinist really only refers to (final) justification. Salvific grace cannot, in the final analysis, be rejected by the elect. Prior to true regeneration it can be. I don’t believe someone who is genuinely regenerate can become genuinely apostate and then return to genuine regeneration.

    Some Calvinists speak of monergism concerning sanctification, some speak of synergism, and others more or less say that neither term applies.

  221. Jack,

    I am disappointed that you did not even try to think about and respond to my what I wrote. Instead of reacting to two words why not engage the substance of what I wrote. Responding by tossing out “pelagianism” and “Spanish Inquisition” and refusing to engage because does nothing to further the cause or truth.

    How about what I said about marriage? Tell me how I am wrong in using the term soft gnosticism?

    I dealt with what you wrote directly why not do the same?

    Dave

  222. Mateo,

    Eric wrote:

    Monergism for the Calvinist really only refers to (final) justification. Salvific grace cannot, in the final analysis, be rejected by the elect. Prior to true regeneration it can be. I don’t believe someone who is genuinely regenerate can become genuinely apostate and then return to genuine regeneration.

    Exactly. God is sovereign in when he makes his grace effectual in the individual. A group of people can be sitting under God’s means of grace today, but God can make it effectual for some. Next week, he might make it effectual for some more.

    The point of irresistible grace, once again, is not that the elect never strive against the Spirit’s call. The point is that the grace will finally overcome all resistance.

  223. James,

    Good questions:

    Does God have LFW? Could he have chose to create or not create?
    Did Adam and Eve have LFW?
    Did the angels before the Lucifer’s fall have LFW?

    1. I’m not sure libertarian free will or compatibilist free will is an accurate way to describe God. I would say that God always makes choices that are in line with his character. So, he could have chosen not to create because not creating would not violate his moral character. He could never do evil because that would violate his character.

    2. I would say that true libertarian free will would mean that one makes decisions uninfluenced by one’s character, so I’m not sure it is a coherent concept in any world, pre-fall or post-fall. The mystery of the fall is why creatures created good, such as Adam and Eve, gained the inclination to do evil. They would have had to have this inclination or predisposition towards sin before actually committing sin. How they got it, I don’t know except to say God ordained that it would be so and in so doing remains morally blameless. I believe that is the only coherent and consistent biblical answer and that attempts to get around this in order to keep God out of evil don’t succeed and end up importing a lot of non-biblical philosophy in the process. Better to say I don’t know than to pretend that God is somehow more “off the hook” simply for creating a world that made evil possible. The advantage of saying God ordains evil is that it is biblical and enables one to see true purpose in evil even if we don’t know what it is. God is greater than us, so I have no trouble believing he can ordain things without being morally guilty of them.

    Personally, I just wish individuals such as Mateo and SS would think through their position a bit more and admit that they, no less than the Calvinist, have to reach a point where they don’t know how God cannot be morally responsible for evil in a world he created and knew for sure would fall into sin. All theists who believe God is omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent must reach that conclusion. The only way around it is to deny one of those attributes, and then you are left with even more problems. Once we admit that there comes a point at which we don’t know, then we have to really look at which position has the best exegetical foundation. Molinism has none. Arminianism is a little better, Thomism better still, and Calvinism is best able to take into account all of the biblical data about freedom, sovereignty, and moral responsibility. Plus, it has the advantage of starting with Scripture, whereas Molinism is a complete imposition of philosophy on exegesis. Arminianism and Thomism are less so. Leading Molinists such as Craig don’t even attempt to mount an exegetical case. I am grateful for some of the evidential aspects of Craig’s apologetic, but in the end I view it as a complete and utter failure.

    3. On Satan and the fallen angels, I would say the same things I said about Adam and Eve.

    Lastly, related to your discussion with Mateo. Do you view sanctification as synergistic? When you sin, are you resisting grace in order to do so, or is God not giving you sufficient grace in that instance to resist your fall into sin? Does God give you a different type/kind of grace in justification/regeneration than he does in sanctification? If sanctification is synergistic, why does it not fall prey to your same concerns about “boasting”/”detracting from glory of God” as you level against synergism in justification?

    1. Sanctification is synergistic.
    2. Maybe it is best to say that God is allowing you to resist his sufficient grace at the point where you sin. Paul says God is faithful and always offers a way out of temptation.
    3. I don’t know if God gives a different grace in sanctification. I’m hesitant to say there are different kinds of grace. Ultimately, all grace is effectual in the hearts of those whom God has chosen for Himself. The elect may resist for a time, but they are finally overcome by God’s mercy.
    4. Synergistic sanctification does not fall prey to the same danger as synergistic justification for at least the following reasons:

    a. Paul only opposes faith and works in the matter of justification and warns of it being a sin to boast in justification.
    b. Sanctification, though a synergistic work, is guaranteed to succeed in the elect because God undergirds the entire process. The final decider, as it were, is still God.
    c. Sanctification is not what gives us heavenly citizenship, justification is. If justification is synergistic, I can make myself the final deciding factor and take credit for my heavenly citizenship. If my works are not at all a part of my justification, then I can’t finally take credit for my sanctification because my justification guarantees my sanctification. No such thing as a person who is justified who will fail to be sanctified.

    Much of this is close to what Thomists would say (particularly #2). In making works a part of justification, they are being inconsistent with their own system.

  224. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    I was telling you that if you posit prevenient grace as an innate quality of every man, then it is simply a general grace. Everything about us–our character, our will, our natural abilities–can be ascribed to the general grace of our creator God. In other words, prevenient grace as a universal characteristic places you in the same category as Pelagianists when it comes to how you both speak of “grace.”

    Since Mateo didn’t posit that Grace is intrinsic to Nature, we can simply forget that red herring. Catholics merely insist that Grace be considered as ontologically prior to Freedom. More to your point, we don’t insist that God withhold Grace from some men in order to prove that the Grace which he gives to others is really-really-really, unquestionably and undeniably, doubleplus free and clear and gratuitous. The Salvific Economy is not a zero-sum game.

  225. Eric, you are not just disagreeing with what the Catholic Church teaches. It is obvious from your comments that you don’t understand what the Catholic Church teaches. For example, you write:

    I was telling you that if you posit prevenient grace as an innate quality of every man, then it is simply a general grace.

    The Catholic Church posits no such thing. Human nature is what is in innate to human beings. Prevenient grace is a supernatural gift that must be given to fallen human beings that have reached the age of reason so that they can hear God knocking on the door.

    If you believe that it was within your own power to “open the door” to Christ, then you are a functional Pelagianist.

    That is hogwash. A Pelagianist believes that he can be sanctified by willpower and self-effort apart from grace. The Catholic Church condemns this as heresy.

    Once an unregenerate man that has reached the age of reason, and he has been given the prevenient grace to hear God knocking at the door, he must receive another supernatural gift from God, the actual grace of cooperating grace, before he can open the door and let God come into him.

    We Calvinists believe that we do indeed open the door, but only because were first regenerated.

    That is where Calvinism teaches heresy, because the Calvinists deny what St. Paul explicitly teaches, namely, that it is by the reception of baptism that a man is buried into Christ’s death and resurrected into new life.

    … you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
    2 Col 2:12

    Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
    Romans 6:3-4

    The unregenerate man that has reached the age of reason has to receive the actual graces of operating and cooperating grace before he can receive the sanctifying grace that irresistibly regenerates him in the Sacrament of Baptism.

    Eric, look again at the verse I quoted from Revelation:

    Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
    Revelation 3:20

    First, an unregenerated man that has reached the age of reason has to hear God knocking at the door. God is taking the initiative here by doing the knocking. This is the actual grace of prevenient (operating) grace. Operating grace is monergistic; with this grace God works in man, without man.

    Second, the man has to open the door. But no man can open the door apart from grace (which even you acknowledge). That is why the man must be given another actual grace, operating grace, which is synergistic. With this grace God works in man, with man. With the help of this grace, the catechumen seeks and desires a valid Sacrament of Baptism which will irresistibly regenerate him.

    Third, if the man chooses to open the door by cooperating with God’s grace, it is then that “ I will come in to him”. That is, the catechumen that receives actual grace and cooperates with cooperating grace will seek to baptismal regeneration. After he is baptized, God will dwell within him – “I will come into him”.

    The Calvinists preach heresy. The Calvinist is saying that the unregenerated man that has never been baptized must be regenerated apart from the graces bestowed by the Sacrament of Baptism, which is a novelty that no Christians prior to Reformation ever believed. To be fair, the Calvinists claim that God could regenerate a man at the moment of his baptism, but that would just be an arbitrary thing that God did for a particular man in a particular circumstance. For the Calvinists, the baptism of infants only makes their infants “covenant babies”, and these babies could grow up to be adults before they were ever regenerated.

  226. Jason,

    I’m having withdrawals dude what’s the hold up?!?!?

  227. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:

    Jason,
    I’m having withdrawals dude what’s the hold up?!?!?

    Oh, BTW, I posted and provided a link for you on the “New Passover for a New Exodus” thread. Maybe that’ll help to slake your jones, until Jason chimes in again.

  228. Robert, you write:

    Personally, I just wish individuals such as Mateo and SS would think through their position a bit more and admit that they, no less than the Calvinist, have to reach a point where they don’t know how God cannot be morally responsible for evil in a world he created and knew for sure would fall into sin.

    Do the scriptures teach that God is omniscient? Yes. Do the scriptures teach that there is no darkness in God? Yes. I accept both of these truths because I have been given the supernatural gift of faith. God knows everything, and because God is all holy, there is no evil in God. I believe those truths by faith.

    So Robert, what, exactly, is the “problem” that I am supposed to think through? God allows angels and men in a state of grace to make real choices for good or evil, and that is only possible because the sovereign Lord has decided to make that a possibility. If a man or an angel makes the choice to fall from a state of grace, then it is the man or the angel that bears moral responsibility, not God, because God also gave the angels and men the ability to choose good instead of evil while they were in a state of grace.

    Maybe it is best to say that God is allowing you to resist his sufficient grace at the point where you sin.

    Of course! God’s perfect will is for you not to sin while in a state of grace, God’s permissive will gives you the ability to resist sufficient grace if that is what you want to do.

    Paul says God is faithful and always offers a way out of temptation.

    Right! Since it is blasphemous to assert that God tempts one to sin, it is even more blasphemous to assert that God is the source and cause of all sin.

    I don’t know if God gives a different grace in sanctification. I’m hesitant to say there are different kinds of grace.

    But you have just made that distinction! You are saying that the grace that sanctifies is synergistic and can be resisted, but that the grace that irresitibly sanctifies cannot be resisted, because, well, it is irresitible. The strange thing is that you don’t see that you are contradicting yourself.

    Ultimately, all grace is effectual in the hearts of those whom God has chosen for Himself.

    Now you add the qualification “ultimately” here about sanctifying grace – that it is ultimately effectual only for the “special people.” But that leads me right back to the question that you have never answered. How can any Calvinist ever know that they are one of the “special people” if they, at any time, can resist sanctifying grace by choosing to commit sin? If all Calvinists can resist sanctifying grace and commit sin, what gives any Calvinist the assurance that they are NOT one of the already-damned-but-don’t-know-it-yet crowd?

  229. The elementary exegetical mistake you making is that you are failing to take into account the overall message of the book. The author of Hebrews is clearly making the presentation that the blood of Jesus/Jesus sacrifice is effectual while the blood of the old covenant was not. If the atonement of Jesus can fail to save those for whom it was made, it is the exact same atonement as offered by the old covenant priests which also failed to save those for whom it was made. Instead of pointing forward to an atonement that works, the old covenant sacrifices typify a sacrifice that doesn’t work for all that is offered for. Jesus blood is insufficient to save. It makes salvation potential but not actual.

    Einstein said we should make things simple, but not any simpler. In the field of theology, the problem is that the reformed get even the simple wrong. It is precisely because Jesus is superior to anything in the Old Covenant that the author of Hebrews exhorts his readers to honor Him through perseverance in belief/obedience. In that regard, Heb 5:8-9 is a fitting and better leitmotif for the thrust of the entire book than what you suggest. The perfection that Christ achieved was by virtue of His obedience to the Father (in offering Himself up), and likewise this is the pattern set for believers. Moreover, it is exactly because other true believers have fallen away (Heb 6) and dishonored the Spirit of Grace (Heb 10), that the addresses are in danger of insulting he Spirit of Grace and bringing shame and reproach upon themselves in the process. There would not be an a fortiori re the insult warning if Jesus was not superior to the OC. The author’s whole rationale for perseverance lies in that fact!

    Hebrews 10:14 says very clearly that Jesus’ offering has perfected/made complete all those who are currently being sanctified. Reading verse 29 in the way that you are reading it introduces a contradiction within the very same chapter. If one can be regenerate today and undergoing the process of sanctification, then he hasn’t been perfected for all time. At best he’s been perfected up until the point of apostasy, and that isn’t even a good way to phrase it.

    The first mistake you make is to read v 14 in isolation from its immediate context, Heb 10:1ff and greater context, the entire book (see my comments above re leitmotif.) I’ll come back to that. The second mistake you make is to overlay a greek/western mindset on what was originally a document written in Hebrew, by a Hebrew, and for Hebrews. In other words, you are completely disregarding the fact that the author of Hebrews is a Messianic Jew (probably of the Diaspora) who was addressing Jewish believers on the cusp of abandoning the faith. With that sitze im leben in mind, understand that in the Jewish phronema, sanctification was never seen as a once and for all event, but rather a covenantal undertaking to be carried out by faith in God, a process of sanctification. In that regard, the rigidity in your approach re 10:14 is dismantled when one considers 12:14

    Make every effort to be at peace with all, and to be holy , for without holiness (hagiasmon) no one will see the Lord

    Heb 10:14 and 12:14 are the two Jewish truths held in tension, without one ever overpowering the other. “Make every effort” he says. In other words, the believer is exhorted to be active in making the effort. He can only make the effort because Christ perfected him (see my earlier posts). There is no opposition in the Hebrew mind to this, it is a completely natural thing to Honor the One who delivered them out of bondage in Egypt (cf. Heb 3). It is a response of grace for grace, a patron-client language (to which merit is conspicuously absent) which a Jew such as the author (Hellenistic not withstanding) would assume his hearers already understood. This is why one can read in Heb 10:1, coming back to context,

    “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.”

    The old would continually approach in the temple, offering their sacrifices. But now the author says that Jesus is the ‘once for all sacrifice’, meaning that those sacrifices were only a shadow meant to point to the real singular sacrifice, Mashiach. The “forever” in v 14 is referring to the validity of the sacrifice for those who continually draw near, not to the temple altar, but the Real Altar, Mashiach Himself, our kapporeth/mercy seat (cf. Heb 10:1, Rom 3:21, Matt 6:12). Secondly, the validity of the sacrifice in no ways impinges on the fact that there were in the Hebrew religion, some high handed sins for which there was no atonement! This is why hagiazomenous in 10:14 should be viewed as in the middle voice, as dictated by the context, in addition to the fact that it is in the present tense, hence translated as “ being sanctified” and why the author goes on to warn his fellow Jews about the risk of committing those high handed sins. There is no contradiction at all in the two tenses, perfect and present, it’s only business as usual for those who are cognizant of the Hebrew phronema, but only magnified this time (see the a fortiori of Heb 10:29-31).

    Verse 29 has to be read in a way that harmonizes with verse 14, and your reading just will not do it. Verse 14 doesn’t by his offering Jesus might perfect; it says he has perfected—perfect tense. Past definitive action with ongoing ramifications. His offering has perfected His people such that they continue always in that perfection.

    Talk about basic exegetical mistakes…You ought to know by now that a grammatical argument ought never be allowed to be made without due consideration for the context of the passage. Of course Jesus perfected His people is in perfect tense, by one offering, but you can’t just stop there and start dancing at the end zone, LOL. You must finish the sentence, and the rest of it says “them that are sanctified” or “them that are being sanctified”, hagiazemounous is in the middle voice, meaning that them that are sanctified are participating in that sanctification (a synergistic reality that a calvinist ought not to see as problematic). See Heb 12:14, and the implications of the implicit parallel to Heb 10:1 (drawing near, albeit this time not to the temple altar, but to the altar that is Christ Himself), made in 10:39.

    “39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul”

    So, we’re left with how to understand verse 29. I’ve already suggested one possibility, and that is sanctification can refer to being set apart for God’s use without being regenerate. I don’t even think that’s the strongest possibility. Grammatically, the one sanctified by the blood is not necessarily the professing believer. The closest antecedents are either Jesus or the covenant. Jesus is sanctified or made the high priest by the blood or the covenant is set apart/made effectual by Jesus’ blood. In this case, the apostate treats as common the Lord who was set apart to be the one mediator by his blood or he treats as common the covenant which was made effectual by the blood of Christ. That fits quite well with Hebrews’ warning about going back to the old covenant. Go back to the old covenant and you are saying that Jesus is as common as those sacrifices, that he’s unable to save.

    No, before you get to v 29, you first have an insurmountable hurdle in v 26. Where is your response to what I wrote earlier regarding “having received the knowledge of the truth” and the weight of epignosis? Robert, when someone takes the time to write, you can’t just ignore what you feel uncomfortable with, at a minimum the honorable response is to engage, even if it is a short answer. That’s #1.

    #2: It is clear from the context of the entire chapter, that sanctification is always pointing back to the believer, and never to Christ Himself.

    “28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment , do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

    The author argues from the lesser to the greater (kal va chomer), and says that the one who tramples the Son of God underfoot is worth of greater punishment. Why? Because

    1. he trampled on Christ
    2. he counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing.
    3. and thereby insulted the Spirit of Christ

    1-3 form one unit in the overall kal va chomer.

    The one trampling and counting is the believer. That is the natural flow of the passage. For you to switch the author’s emphasis mid paragraph, and say that now it is Christ being sanctified (!) is unnatural at best, and completely contrived at worst, especially given that said believers are described earlier (context!) in v 26 as having received the knowledge of the truth, the epignosis which always and everywhere is the possession of true believers only. It is only logical to believe that given this epignosis, and given the flow of the a fortiori, that the antecedent for “he” still remains the believer and not Christ. And no, your view doesn’t fit with going back to the old covenant, because in the OC the offering was always and everywhere unblemished. The sacrifices in the old were never common, but rather set apart…

    But the author has already said that Jesus is not only able to save but that He perfects those who have trusted in him. He doesn’t just possibly perfect them. This, in turn, fits in quite well with Hebrews 12 with Jesus being not only the founder but also the perfecter of our faith. If one can resist Christ in the state of regeneration, my final salvation is dependent on my “yes” to Christ. He won’t perfect me unless I let him. That’s not a perfecter, that’s an enabler unto perfection. That’s not a better covenant.

    Conclusions that follow from faulty analysis, see above.

    Basically you are left saying that it is not Jesus blood that sanctifies us but our decision to accept His blood that sanctifies us. Salvation is finally up to me. His blood is necessary but it’s not good enough. Something more than Jesus is needed. But the whole point of Hebrews is that while something more than the animal sacrifices is needed to save us, nothing more than Jesus is needed. That’s the whole point about the finality of his sacrifice, his role as the perfecter of our faith, the inadequacy of the old covenant, and so much more.

    Nothing to see here, people, move along now. Your exegesis Robert is missing too many things. It lacks the proper underlying social paradigm that defines the words you read, grace, sanctification, obedience etc. It lacks a kosher approach to utilizing grammatical facts in the larger context of the passage’s meaning (something that is lost on exegetes who are stuck in a narrow western mindset/approach). Etc. There’s no shame in being wrong, there only is in staying wrong. You choose.

  230. My friends, life gets in the way of this blog very easily for me, so please, if you notice that I haven’t answered in a while, you can safely assume that it is because I am busy. Spare us the triumphalism please. Argue exegetically as you would like, but please in the absence of a reply, eschew obfuscation and the victory lap, it is somewhat unbecoming for this arena. Thanks 🙂

  231. Dave,

    I’m disappointed, too…

    Several times you’ve brought up your conclusion of Reformed being gnostic as a type of argument. Your (and other’s) method of engaging Reformed doctrine is often (not always) to dismiss or accuse by terms like “gnosis” or simply make bedrock declarations such as “You do maintain it but scripture nowhere teaches it” with no follow up from Scripture supporting your assertion. If Rome (or you?) believes its true, that’s all that needs stating… and you move to your next interrogatory.

    Your recent comment actually makes the point of my last comment of yesterday. After reading WB’s gratuitous pontification, riffing off your ‘gnosis’ remark, I threw out ‘Spanish Inquisition.’ Why? Rather than a discussion, yours and WB’s approach is what I stated above. In other words, “prove Reformed is not gnostic, not deficient! Defend your erroneous doctrine!” If I bring up questions regarding Rome’s doctrines your response is essentially, “No Jack, Roman Catholic teaching is correct, you just don’t understand.” Not much real engagement. Do you converse with your wife that way?? See how you responded to me when I brought in the words ‘Spanish Inquisition’ and ‘soft Pelagianism’? It didn’t help move the conversation along for you, did it?

    I am disappointed that you did not even try to think about and respond to my what I wrote.

    “you did not even try…” Really? Are you now omniscient?… Again, the presumption you and others often bring to this discussion is, how do I say, smug – as the ones who get to call the shots and make firm judgment calls based on what you happen to think and believe. In fact, I had written a very long response to your comments and questions yesterday morning and was ready to post it (I saved it). But I decided to hold off after reading Wosbald’s “deep thoughts” that he combined with your comment.

    By the way, “Spanish Inquisition” was written as a tweak. ‘Soft Pelagianism’ was not. Yes, much of the Roman Catholic system of religion (imho) is indeed semi-Pelagian. I know, I just don’t understand…

  232. 1. Calvinism does not say that God “created” Pharaoh’s evil. Typical misunderstanding of Calvinism there. You can do better.

    To quote that fine scholar, Eric, “I give you fair warning: I will write off the next person who tells me I do not understand Catholicism (scratch that, substitute Calvinism) when all I have done is disagree with it”

    2. You aren’t paying attention. Eye for an Eye was a commandment never meant to cover interpersonal relationships but legal judgments. The Sermon on the Mount deals with the former. To read the Sermon on the Mount the way you are means we need to disband the army, and the police force, heck, any means of self-defense. Go ahead, be consistent.

    Distinction without a difference. The legal is in reference and pertains to the interpersonal and the S-o-M by default ought to influence the legal since it encapsulates the personal. The police/army are not the final authority, but only a palliative, while we wait for God who will one day supercede these and establish His Kingdom. Argue apples and apples, not apples and acorns. There is a difference between the kingdom of heaven/God and the kingdom of man.

    3. Calvin didn’t seek political power. It was forced upon him. Next time a city in bad need of help comes to you asking for leadership, let’s see you turn it down. Once again, it’s easy to judge past figures by modern standards and sensibilities. BTW, no Calvin, no Calvin College, no Calvin College, no Plantiga. Again, you’re welcome. You really need to sit down and thank the Lord for all the good he has brought to you through the influence of John Calvin and those who took his ideas, developed them further, and started colleges, hospitals, universities, advocated for political and religious freedoms, etc. etc. Even a Protestant like me can recognize God’s providential use of the papacy at certain points in history and be grateful for it.

    Yeah uh uh, it was forced on him… I guess it was forced on Menno Simons, but somehow he was able to say no to it, LOL. He had a huge following and could have very easily let himself be overpowered. If a city comes to someone in need of help, the Christian response is not to say “Sure, whom shall I maim first?” Re Plantiga, I am grateful to some Calvinists who have dared not to follow in the footsteps of their master. That is a good step forward. The next step is to cut all ties with him, for he is a disgrace to the name of Christ and the furthest thing from 1 Tim 3.

    4. Good on Simons for not seeking political power. But your beef isn’t really with Calvin over his power but over his determinism.

    My beef is with all who defend the undefensible. Good that you give credit to Simons, for he demonstrated that which Calvin ought to have. I see Calvin’s behavior as the product of his determinism, so again, a distinction without a difference.

    5. It’s an unfounded assertion to say libertarian freedom is necessary for true relationship. I never “chose” to love my children; I just did. I guess that means my relationship with them isn’t real.

    You do chose to love your children, you just don’t want to recognize even that basic fact because you would rather cling to some medieval nonsense. Some parents chose not to love their children, a cursory reading of the headlines proves this.

    6. So evil is necessary now. The all wise God could not possibly have created a universe in which evil never would have entered. Oh wait, God’s just dealing with the hand he’s been dealt like Bill Craig says, right? God really is lucky one of those possible worlds had someone in it who would love Him.

    Answer the question: Can God create a rock which is too big for him to lift? If you say, no, you’ve just defeated your argument above. If you say it is a meaningless question, you have also refuted yourself. God cannot create human beings and in the process contradict Himself, the One in whom there is no darkness. Moral freedom is a gift from God, precisely because God imbues freedom with all of its magnificence. We are the one who are really blessed to have moral freedom, for had we not been gifted with it, we could have never logically and authentically loved Him back.

    7. So God created a universe in which evil was certainly going to happen but he’s not guilty of that evil in a moral sense. However, if he ordains evil he is guilty of it. Still trying to figure out how putting a scenario in place in which you know disaster will come about makes you “less culpable” or “not culpable.” Say you don’t know how this is possible and that is fine, but then you are left with what the Calvinist says, and with no exegetical case for Molinism. Again, this is something that the philosophers you mention basically admit.

    God is not guilty period. Men are guilty. Disaster comes as function of sin in the world, and a fallen creation. Like I said earlier, the one who wants to challenge God’s goodness and decision to endow the world with such freedom should start by replicating creation and doing a better job at it than God did Himself, without any evil, and maintaining moral freedom in creatures as God has done. Only then will the challenger have any grounds to object. Any takers? The book of Job still speaks today. No, the Calvinist again has a FAR greater problem than the Molinist.

    8. If God knows that Pharaoh isn’t going to heed his warnings, how are his warnings real warnings? There is no real possibility for Pharaoh to do otherwise. God’s knowledge can’t be falsified. Once again, you’re left with the same problems facing all theists, and scant exegesis upon which to answer them.

    Bill Craig gives you plenty of exegesis on his site, but of course you refuse to see it. Disagree if you will, but don’t lie about the availability of exegesis. If I know my son so well, that I know that he will not obey me when I tell him not to finish the whole bag of chocolate cookies, are my warnings to him about losing his privileges not real warnings? You tell me. There was a possibility for Pharaoh to do otherwise, just as my son could have chosen not to eat the whole box, but he chose to do otherwise. Welcome to Reality 🙂

  233. +JMJ+

    Jack Miller wrote:

    Your recent comment actually makes the point of my last comment of yesterday. After reading WB’s gratuitous pontification, riffing off your ‘gnosis’ remark, I threw out ‘Spanish Inquisition.’ Why? Rather than a discussion, yours and WB’s approach is what I stated above. In other words, “prove Reformed is not gnostic, not deficient! Defend your erroneous doctrine!”

    Because you know that you can’t. It’s not possible for you to even try, and you can’t give us any positive avenue for us to come to your “liberating gnowledge” for ourselves.

  234. Wosbald–

    I never said that Mateo posited that Grace is intrinsic to Nature. I intimated that his stance amounted to as much. I wasn’t putting words in his mouth, I was making a claim as to the logical consequences of his stated position.

    You can tell Signor Mateo for me that I will be taking a break from responding to him. I gave him fair warning (plus, I do not especially cotton to being accused of heresy). Let him treat someone else like a complete jerk for a while.

    I’m not terribly serious. But it gets old, guys. Can we dispense with the pejoratives? I’ll quit inferring that you all don’t comprehend Calvinism a cotton-pickin’ lick if you will cease and desist from insisting that I don’t understand Catholicism one undotted iota.

    Can’t we all just get along?

  235. FYI, I do plan to write a new post tomorrow night. Not settled on the topic, so I’m open to suggestions!

  236. Jason,
    How about the duties required and the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment? I know I fail often in both aspects of this moral law of God. Hearing some clear and uneqivocating law would help everyone to better see sin and thus their need for the mercy of God in Christ while fostering greater thankfulness to God for his Son our Savior.

  237. Jack,

    Okay, I will take your criticism of the style in which I have been discussing/arguing with you as constructive criticism and try to avoid such tactics. I was not trying to be smug and I was hoping I was giving some food for thought/prayer. But I will accept that I failed to communicate in a manner that was respectful. Please forgive my fail – I really am not just trying to win an argument, so Iwill try to communicate better.

    In light of what I just wrote perhaps we could, if Jason does not deem it too off topic, define semi-pelagianism? In my Reformed days I accused the Catholic Church of beinf semi-pelagian fairly often. One thing I learned along the way is that the Reformed have a different definition than Catholics of semi-pelagiansim. Can we agree to let the Council of Orange provide the correct definition for both of us?

    Dave

  238. Einstein said we should make things simple, but not any simpler. In the field of theology, the problem is that the reformed get even the simple wrong.

    SS, the problem with you is that like the Roman Catholic, you make things much more difficult. You don’t typically overlay a system of penances and indulgences but instead some Jewish-sounding reading that you’ve cobbled together from a bunch of people who read the New Testament through the lens of the Talmud.

    It is precisely because Jesus is superior to anything in the Old Covenant that the author of Hebrews exhorts his readers to honor Him through perseverance in belief/obedience.

    Absolutely. This conflicts with what I’ve said, how?

    In that regard, Heb 5:8-9 is a fitting and better leitmotif for the thrust of the entire book than what you suggest. The perfection that Christ achieved was by virtue of His obedience to the Father (in offering Himself up), and likewise this is the pattern set for believers.

    Hebrews 10 is not talking about the perfection Christ achieved for Himself but the perfection He provides to believers. Granted, you can’t disconnect the two, but according to you then, Hebrews 10 must mean “Christ has set a perfect example for all time for those who He is sanctifying.” Once again, you ultimately reduce Christ to being a mere good example, which is why you have trouble with your understanding of the atonement.

    The leitmotif of the book is that Christ’s sacrifice accomplishes what the blood of the old covenant could not, and that is the purification of sins. He sits down when his work is finished (Heb. 1:1–4). Because of that, those who profess faith in Him must persevere. Jesus hasn’t accomplished purification if those for whom the sacrifice is made can truly fall away. He’s done nothing better than the old covenant sacrifices. He hasn’t purified anyone just like the OT sacrifices haven’t purified anyone.

    Moreover, it is exactly because other true believers have fallen away (Heb 6) and dishonored the Spirit of Grace (Heb 10), that the addresses are in danger of insulting he Spirit of Grace and bringing shame and reproach upon themselves in the process. There would not be an a fortiori re the insult warning if Jesus was not superior to the OC. The author’s whole rationale for perseverance lies in that fact!

    Your assuming that Hebrews 6 is talking about the true believer. You haven’t proven that, and running off to 2 Peter to figure out what the author of Hebrews means by epignosis in Hebrews 10 is another elementary exegetical mistake.

    The first mistake you make is to read v 14 in isolation from its immediate context, Heb 10:1ff and greater context, the entire book (see my comments above re leitmotif.) I’ll come back to that.

    See below.

    The second mistake you make is to overlay a greek/western mindset on what was originally a document written in Hebrew, by a Hebrew, and for Hebrews.

    Couple of things here, some are minor errors, some are major.

    1. The opposition of a Greek/Western mindset to a Hebraic mindset is such an old, utterly falsified understanding that I don’t even know where to begin. Granted, it was popular with German liberals and others, but Barr blew that idea out of the water. (This is your big error, and it pervades your responses on every subject you talk about.)
    2. Hebrews was not written originally in Hebrew, but in very refined Greek. Its probably the most refined book in the NT linguistically.
    3. Hebrews was certainly written by a Jewish Christian. Whether he was a Hebrew or not is up for debate. Could well have been a Jewish proselyte.
    4. Book was written primarily for Jewish Christians, whether or not they were ethnic Hebrews.
    5. If anything is a Greek mindset, it is the idea of libertarian freedom upon which you rely. That was an idea the Greek philosophers originated. It certainly doesn’t comport with Scripture’s view of God’s sovereignty, which as R.C. Sproul has colloquially and rightly said, there is no maverick molecule.

    In other words, you are completely disregarding the fact that the author of Hebrews is a Messianic Jew (probably of the Diaspora) who was addressing Jewish believers on the cusp of abandoning the faith. With that sitze im leben in mind, understand that in the Jewish phronema, sanctification was never seen as a once and for all event, but rather a covenantal undertaking to be carried out by faith in God, a process of sanctification.

    Actually, it’s both.

    In that regard, the rigidity in your approach re 10:14 is dismantled when one considers 12:14
    “ Make every effort to be at peace with all, and to be holy , for without holiness (hagiasmon) no one will see the Lord ”
    Heb 10:14 and 12:14 are the two Jewish truths held in tension, without one ever overpowering the other. “Make every effort” he says. In other words, the believer is exhorted to be active in making the effort.

    Absolutely.

    He can only make the effort because Christ perfected him (see my earlier posts). There is no opposition in the Hebrew mind to this, it is a completely natural thing to Honor the One who delivered them out of bondage in Egypt (cf. Heb 3). It is a response of grace for grace, a patron-client language (to which merit is conspicuously absent) which a Jew such as the author (Hellenistic not withstanding) would assume his hearers already understood. This is why one can read in Heb 10:1, coming back to context,
    “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.”
    The old would continually approach in the temple, offering their sacrifices. But now the author says that Jesus is the ‘once for all sacrifice’, meaning that those sacrifices were only a shadow meant to point to the real singular sacrifice, Mashiach. The “forever” in v 14 is referring to the validity of the sacrifice for those who continually draw near, not to the temple altar, but the Real Altar, Mashiach Himself, our kapporeth/mercy seat (cf. Heb 10:1, Rom 3:21, Matt 6:12).

    To be honest, I’m not really sure of the point you are making here. Of course it is a completely natural thing to honor the one who delivers one out of bondage. But to say merit is conspicuously absent fails to recognize one simple fact: those who do not respond grace for grace have done wrong; they have performed in a manner that is not only free of merit but is anti-merit. It’s a demerit not to return grace for grace. That’s why people are condemened.

    The direct object in verse 14 are the people who are being sanctified. Christ is not perfecting the sacrifice, He is perfecting them.

    Secondly, the validity of the sacrifice in no ways impinges on the fact that there were in the Hebrew religion, some high handed sins for which there was no atonement! This is why hagiazomenous in 10:14 should be viewed as in the middle voice, as dictated by the context, in addition to the fact that it is in the present tense, hence translated as “ being sanctified” and why the author goes on to warn his fellow Jews about the risk of committing those high handed sins. There is no contradiction at all in the two tenses, perfect and present, it’s only business as usual for those who are cognizant of the Hebrew phronema, but only magnified this time (see the a fortiori of Heb 10:29-31).

    Actually, being sanctified is a passive translation—it calls for a “by somebody.” Middle voice would be that “sanctify themselves,” which even for you should make no sense. “Christ has perfected for all time those who sanctify themselves.” Whatever role we play in sanctification, Christ has to be the one who sanctifies us. Reading this as a middle voice takes him out of the picture. Reading it passively incorporates both the believer and Christ, which makes it the superior reading.

    So Christ has perfected for all time the one who is being sanctified. The object being perfected is the “one who is being sanctified.” I have no idea if you read Greek, but I do. Basically you are left with Christ perfecting all those whom are now being sanctified by themselves and by Christ. On your reading, Christ does not do this for all whom he is sanctifying. It renders the verse itself incoherent.

    Talk about basic exegetical mistakes…You ought to know by now that a grammatical argument ought never be allowed to be made without due consideration for the context of the passage.

    Of course, but I haven’t made that error.

    Of course Jesus perfected His people is in perfect tense, by one offering, but you can’t just stop there and start dancing at the end zone, LOL. You must finish the sentence, and the rest of it says “them that are sanctified” or “them that are being sanctified”, hagiazemounous is in the middle voice, meaning that them that are sanctified are participating in that sanctification (a synergistic reality that a calvinist ought not to see as problematic). See Heb 12:14, and the implications of the implicit parallel to Heb 10:1 (drawing near, albeit this time not to the temple altar, but to the altar that is Christ Himself), made in 10:39.
    “39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul”

    And I have no problem with synergistic sanctification. In fact, I insist on it. I believe in perseverance. The question is whether the regenerate person can fail to persevere in sanctification. You assume that a warning about falling away means that some whom God has regenerated really and truly can fall away. That’s an unproven assumption.

    Absolutely, positively, the professing believer must sanctify himself just as Christ must sanctify him. And it is, in at least one respect, an ongoing action. But in Scripture it can also be a completed action. Hence the use of “perfected.” Christ has guaranteed that it is going to happen for those who are right now sanctifying themselves. So, those who fall away had never really been perfect—hence, regenerated in the first place—and the only way you know you have been perfected is if you continue in sanctification, repenting when necessary, seeking the Lord’s face, etc.

    Those who do not sanctify themselves have no share in the world to come. The question is always, why do they sanctify themselves. Only the Calvinist can say it is because of God. Everyone else has to give themselves the ultimate credit. I realize that you don’t do this consciously, but again that is because you haven’t though through the implications of your view.

    No, before you get to v 29, you first have an insurmountable hurdle in v 26. Where is your response to what I wrote earlier regarding “having received the knowledge of the truth” and the weight of epignosis? Robert, when someone takes the time to write, you can’t just ignore what you feel uncomfortable with, at a minimum the honorable response is to engage, even if it is a short answer. That’s #1.

    Thanks for the lesson in decorum, but I haven’t responded to you because you need to first deal with Hebrews and how the author is using that term before you run off to 2 Peter to prove that epignosis means what it means in Hebrews. Second, I haven’t had time yet. I’m interested in Hebrews right now, which is far more pertinent to the issue at hand.

    #2: It is clear from the context of the entire chapter, that sanctification is always pointing back to the believer, and never to Christ Himself.
    “28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment , do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

    The author argues from the lesser to the greater (kal va chomer), and says that the one who tramples the Son of God underfoot is worth of greater punishment. Why? Because
    1. he trampled on Christ?2. he counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing.?3. and thereby insulted the Spirit of Christ
    1-3 form one unit in the overall kal va chomer.
    The one trampling and counting is the believer. That is the natural flow of the passage. For you to switch the author’s emphasis mid paragraph, and say that now it is Christ being sanctified (!) is unnatural at best, and completely contrived at worst, especially given that said believers are described earlier (context!) in v 26 as having received the knowledge of the truth, the epignosis which always and everywhere is the possession of true believers only. It is only logical to believe that given this epignosis, and given the flow of the a fortiori, that the antecedent for “he” still remains the believer and not Christ. And no, your view doesn’t fit with going back to the old covenant, because in the OC the offering was always and everywhere unblemished. The sacrifices in the old were never common, but rather set apart…

    Yes the sacrifices were unblemished. The error is treating Christ’s sacrifice as if it wasn’t. I don’t disagree. I haven’t switched the emphasis mid-paragraph. You’re missing my point. You’re reading it as if it is the professing believer who is being sanctified. I agree that the person in question is still spurning Christ, the passage just isn’t saying that he is the one being sanctified. IOW, the spurner is stomping on the blood by which Christ was made high priest/sanctified/ratified the new covenant. It’s not saying that the spurner is rejecting his regeneration, falling away from the faith/regeneration, etc..

    Conclusions that follow from faulty analysis, see above.

    Analysis not faulty, see above.

    Nothing to see here, people, move along now. Your exegesis Robert is missing too many things. It lacks the proper underlying social paradigm that defines the words you read, grace, sanctification, obedience etc. It lacks a kosher approach to utilizing grammatical facts in the larger context of the passage’s meaning (something that is lost on exegetes who are stuck in a narrow western mindset/approach). Etc. There’s no shame in being wrong, there only is in staying wrong. You choose.

    Your exegsis SS is missing too many things. It is assuming that I disagree obedience is necessary and tries to read a social paradigm in a way that touches the question as to whether the regenerate person can fall away or not. I don’t fundamentally disagree that shame-honor language is used, you just haven’t used it to prove that the regenerate person can fall away effectively, nor can you. I fully agree that the servant has an obligation to honor the Master that is grounded in grace and that if he doesn’t, he is to be shamed. Moreover, your exegesis fails to take into account grammar in relation to the passage’s meaning in relation to the larger context of the book, and rushes off to another book without really dealing with the chapter in context. This is something that is lost on exegetes who are stuck in their traditions and fail to see it because they don’t think they have traditions. There’s no shame in being wrong, there only is in staying wrong. You choose.

  239. Dave, thanks for your response. It speaks well of you. I want you to know I tremble within when lodging a criticism such as I did. I know a log is always sitting somewhere in one of my eyes. And I think earlier I mentioned that what I was picking up from you wasn’t necessarily intentional. So, yes I forgive you. There are probably 7×70 such failures of my own imbedded in my comments on this and other blogs.

    Jason is the boss here. If he would like to define semi-pelagianism, I imagine he will. As a basis for conversation though, his definition (or yours) shouldn’t be a given, any more than his or your interpretation of Orange 529 AD should be accepted as definitive. For it’s how one interprets that and other councils where the rubber meets the road.

    For the sake of better blog communication, I still would like to have Jason take up the Ninth as mentioned above.

  240. How about writing on the similarities and differences between the Catholic and Reformed understandings of the perseverance of the saints & assurance, hope & presumption, and/or election & predestination?

  241. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    I never said that Mateo posited that Grace is intrinsic to Nature. I intimated that his stance amounted to as much. I wasn’t putting words in his mouth, I was making a claim as to the logical consequences of his stated position.

    This is the problem. As I continually note, for the Catholic, there is no question of logical consequences, simply because the relationship between Grace and Freedom is not logical. Reformism’s impulse to reduce this relationship to one of logical progression, under the aegis of protecting or defending the prerogatives of Divine Sovereignty, is the whole problem from the get-go. Catholics would say that the Reformed formulation of Grace and Freedom as being clearly and unequivocally determinate is self-evident proof of its falsity.

    What you are doing. whether you’re consciously intending to do so or not, is imposing this reductionist impulse on Catholics under the expectation that Catholics would feel necessitated to determine the Grace/Freedom dynamic in the same way that the Reformed, for whatever reason, feel obliged to do. However, Catholics know a priori that we simply can’t do this, even though this means that our resultant theological systematics will always carry an element of incompleteness/indeterminacy/incoherence/mystery.

  242. Wosbald,

    Shouldn’t that be for the Wosbald Catholic. I’m not sure Aquinas would agree.

  243. A recent talk by Michael Horton. A pull-quote:

    In preaching, the creaturely sign or medium is obviously human speech; water in baptism and bread and wine in the Supper. The reality is Christ with all of his saving benefits. Scripture unmistakably places the creaturely signs in the closest relationship with the reality, while at the same time teaching that it is the Spirit who makes these means effectual.

    More Here

  244. SS: It is precisely because Jesus is superior to anything in the Old Covenant that the author of Hebrews exhorts his readers to honor Him through perseverance in belief/obedience.

    Robert: Absolutely. This conflicts with what I’ve said, how?

    This is not a matter of conflict but a matter of establishing that the superiority of Christ does not necessitate or entail the Calvinist reading of a punctiliar salvation with irreversible consequences via sanctification. Seems like you missed that entirely.

    SS: In that regard, Heb 5:8-9 is a fitting and better leitmotif for the thrust of the entire book than what you suggest. The perfection that Christ achieved was by virtue of His obedience to the Father (in offering Himself up), and likewise this is the pattern set for believers.

    Hebrews 10 is not talking about the perfection Christ achieved for Himself but the perfection He provides to believers. Granted, you can’t disconnect the two, but according to you then, Hebrews 10 must mean “Christ has set a perfect example for all time for those who He is sanctifying.” Once again, you ultimately reduce Christ to being a mere good example, which is why you have trouble with your understanding of the atonement.

    Not at all, straw man. Christ’s obedience is much more than mere example, as important as that is. It effectively pioneers and enables the obedience of the believer in a very real sense (Gal 2:20). The life lived in the body is from start to finish a response of gratitude to the Obedient one, enabled by Him.

    The leitmotif of the book is that Christ’s sacrifice accomplishes what the blood of the old covenant could not, and that is the purification of sins. He sits down when his work is finished (Heb. 1:1–4). Because of that, those who profess faith in Him must persevere. Jesus hasn’t accomplished purification if those for whom the sacrifice is made can truly fall away. He’s done nothing better than the old covenant sacrifices. He hasn’t purified anyone just like the OT sacrifices haven’t purified anyone.

    No, the leitmotif involves not only the superiority of Christ’s blood but also the latter’s relation to the obedience actualized in the few believers who honor Him and hence, reverse the pattern of the majority of the Israelites in the desert. Now this is a key point: it is a non sequitur to argue that because Christ has now opened up the way to a genuine faith and genuinely persevering salvation that it will always and everywhere occur, and as a result that ‘he has done nothing better than the old’. The old covenant and the law could not engender faith, Jesus did. That is a complete and major overhaul of the status quo. The problem lies not in Him, but in the response of the believer who turns away. If I was to follow your logic, then Christ should have also admitted his weakness and failure when He could not heal some from His hometown. Did He fail there? Yes or no? If you say he failed, was it because of His weakness? If you say He did not fail there, neither does He fail when a true believer departs from him.

    1 John 3
    “but if we walk in the light…we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin”

    SS: Moreover, it is exactly because other true believers have fallen away (Heb 6) and dishonored the Spirit of Grace (Heb 10), that the addresses are in danger of insulting he Spirit of Grace and bringing shame and reproach upon themselves in the process. There would not be an a fortiori re the insult warning if Jesus was not superior to the OC. The author’s whole rationale for perseverance lies in that fact!

    Your assuming that Hebrews 6 is talking about the true believer. You haven’t proven that, and running off to 2 Peter to figure out what the author of Hebrews means by epignosis in Hebrews 10 is another elementary exegetical mistake.

    I have proven it, in this very thread. Did not see a response to my earlier writing on Heb 6, but you are free to try. “epignosis of the truth” is an expression which always and everywhere refers to true believers. If you believe that it means something else in Heb 10:26 you must at the very minimum propose something, which you have not done. Go ahead, make my day.

    Couple of things here, some are minor errors, some are major.

    1. The opposition of a Greek/Western mindset to a Hebraic mindset is such an old, utterly falsified understanding that I don’t even know where to begin. Granted, it was popular with German liberals and others, but Barr blew that idea out of the water. (This is your big error, and it pervades your responses on every subject you talk about.)

    Anyone who claims there is no such thing as a distinctively Hebraic mindset is out of their mind. That at some point in time the jews were influenced by greeks does not somehow remove their own idiosyncracies and their own tendencies absorbed into greek thought itself. For you to even play the liberal card is laughable (the chutzpah…) given that James Barr criticized no less than JI Packer for his views on Biblical inerrancy. Barr himself was a liberal, are you sure you want to boast in him?

    2. Hebrews was not written originally in Hebrew, but in very refined Greek. Its probably the most refined book in the NT linguistically. 3. Hebrews was certainly written by a Jewish Christian. Whether he was a Hebrew or not is up for debate. Could well have been a Jewish proselyte.

    Indeed (I should have noted that), but nevertheless, it was written by a Messianic Jew and that’s the main thing. Here something for you to ponder: the vast majority of Messianic Jews today (I would say 99%+ of them) reject your reading of the epistle as presenting salvation as being impossible to forfeit. They would just shake their head at you if you tried to insist!

    4. Book was written primarily for Jewish Christians, whether or not they were ethnic Hebrews.
    5. If anything is a Greek mindset, it is the idea of libertarian freedom upon which you rely. That was an idea the Greek philosophers originated. It certainly doesn’t comport with Scripture’s view of God’s sovereignty, which as R.C. Sproul has colloquially and rightly said, there is no maverick molecule.

    I’m afraid that RC Sproul is in no way qualified to speak on science, for that is not his field, and all he is doing there is reading his beliefs into the facts. If it is a Greek mindset that still does not remove the fact that it was originally a Jewish mindset, for it is the Jews themselves who say “everything is in the hand of God except the fear of God”.

    SS: In other words, you are completely disregarding the fact that the author of Hebrews is a Messianic Jew (probably of the Diaspora) who was addressing Jewish believers on the cusp of abandoning the faith. With that sitze im leben in mind, understand that in the Jewish phronema, sanctification was never seen as a once and for all event, but rather a covenantal undertaking to be carried out by faith in God, a process of sanctification.

    Actually, it’s both.

    That doesn’t help you because to the Jew, covenant is always something that is two sided and can be broken, hence the whole entire reason for the a fortiori in Heb 10:29-31.

    SS: In that regard, the rigidity in your approach re 10:14 is dismantled when one considers 12:14
    “ Make every effort to be at peace with all, and to be holy , for without holiness (hagiasmon) no one will see the Lord ” Heb 10:14 and 12:14 are the two Jewish truths held in tension, without one ever overpowering the other. “Make every effort” he says. In other words, the believer is exhorted to be active in making the effort.

    Absolutely.

    Again, you simply presuppose perseverance always and everywhere, instead of proving it.

    SS: He can only make the effort because Christ perfected him (see my earlier posts). There is no opposition in the Hebrew mind to this, it is a completely natural thing to Honor the One who delivered them out of bondage in Egypt (cf. Heb 3). It is a response of grace for grace, a patron-client language (to which merit is conspicuously absent) which a Jew such as the author (Hellenistic not withstanding) would assume his hearers already understood. This is why one can read in Heb 10:1, coming back to context,
    “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.”
    The old would continually approach in the temple, offering their sacrifices. But now the author says that Jesus is the ‘once for all sacrifice’, meaning that those sacrifices were only a shadow meant to point to the real singular sacrifice, Mashiach. The “forever” in v 14 is referring to the validity of the sacrifice for those who continually draw near, not to the temple altar, but the Real Altar, Mashiach Himself, our kapporeth/mercy seat (cf. Heb 10:1, Rom 3:21, Matt 6:12).

    To be honest, I’m not really sure of the point you are making here. Of course it is a completely natural thing to honor the one who delivers one out of bondage. But to say merit is conspicuously absent fails to recognize one simple fact: those who do not respond grace for grace have done wrong; they have performed in a manner that is not only free of merit but is anti-merit. It’s a demerit not to return grace for grace. That’s why people are condemened.

    Of course you’re not sure. If you were sure, you would admit that you are mistaken. And this is really the crux of your failure. For you to continue to insist, embarrassingly so AFAIC, that merit is involved in the honoring of a Benefactor, only shows your theological blindness. You do nothing and say nothing to counter the mountain of evidence, and simply do a drive by style pronouncement. You need to start reading up Robert, and acknowledge what others have acknowledged a long time ago. It is not de-merit, it is DIS-GRACE. It is DIS-HONOR. A dishonorable response is not demerit (merit was never involved in the first place) but also nevertheless results in the wrath of the Benefector. Dishonorable people are indeed condemned and that includes the regenerate who shrink back.

    The direct object in verse 14 are the people who are being sanctified. Christ is not perfecting the sacrifice, He is perfecting them.

    No problem with that, even if you say He has perfected them, which is probably what you meant to write. Yes, He has. But that in no way necessitates that they cannot depart from such a state of perfection!

    SS: Secondly, the validity of the sacrifice in no ways impinges on the fact that there were in the Hebrew religion, some high handed sins for which there was no atonement! This is why hagiazomenous in 10:14 should be viewed as in the middle voice, as dictated by the context, in addition to the fact that it is in the present tense, hence translated as “ being sanctified” and why the author goes on to warn his fellow Jews about the risk of committing those high handed sins. There is no contradiction at all in the two tenses, perfect and present, it’s only business as usual for those who are cognizant of the Hebrew phronema, but only magnified this time (see the a fortiori of Heb 10:29-31).

    Actually, being sanctified is a passive translation—it calls for a “by somebody.” Middle voice would be that “sanctify themselves,” which even for you should make no sense. “Christ has perfected for all time those who sanctify themselves.” Whatever role we play in sanctification, Christ has to be the one who sanctifies us. Reading this as a middle voice takes him out of the picture. Reading it passively incorporates both the believer and Christ, which makes it the superior reading.

    LOL. For me, “sanctifying themselves” makes total sense! Look at the context, in Heb 12:14, he says make every effort to be holy, in other words, “you make the effort, you sanctify yourselves”. In Heb 10:1, it is those who drew near in the temple who were attempting to be made perfect. How much more will a drawing near now work for those who are steadfast in their perseverance.

    By the way, this is exactly what God Himself says in Leviticus 11:44-45, in 1 Peter 3:15, 2 Cor 7:1, James 4:8, 1 1 Thess 4:3-6. We are to sanctify ourselves in all of these instances. So why does the idea strike you as strange in Heb 10:14?

    For example, 2 Cor 7:1
    “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

    Does Paul diminish the work of Christ by asking believers to perfect holiness? Then neither does a middle voice function for sanctified in Heb 10:14.

    So Christ has perfected for all time the one who is being sanctified. The object being perfected is the “one who is being sanctified.” I have no idea if you read Greek, but I do. Basically you are left with Christ perfecting all those whom are now being sanctified by themselves and by Christ. On your reading, Christ does not do this for all whom he is sanctifying. It renders the verse itself incoherent.

    Non sequitur. It allows for the believer’s response of honor to the perfect sacrifice offered up once and for all, for all time (forever). See above.

    SS: Talk about basic exegetical mistakes…You ought to know by now that a grammatical argument ought never be allowed to be made without due consideration for the context of the passage.

    Of course, but I haven’t made that error.

    I think you have. The ostentatious lack of engagement with the rest of the chapter besides v 14 shows a cherry picking approach which shows a lack of contextualizing.

    SS: Of course Jesus perfected His people is in perfect tense, by one offering, but you can’t just stop there and start dancing at the end zone, LOL. You must finish the sentence, and the rest of it says “them that are sanctified” or “them that are being sanctified”, hagiazemounous is in the middle voice, meaning that them that are sanctified are participating in that sanctification (a synergistic reality that a calvinist ought not to see as problematic). See Heb 12:14, and the implications of the implicit parallel to Heb 10:1 (drawing near, albeit this time not to the temple altar, but to the altar that is Christ Himself), made in 10:39.
    “39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul”

    And I have no problem with synergistic sanctification. In fact, I insist on it. I believe in perseverance. The question is whether the regenerate person can fail to persevere in sanctification. You assume that a warning about falling away means that some whom God has regenerated really and truly can fall away. That’s an unproven assumption.

    You contradict yourself here since earlier you couldn’t countenance the possibility that sanctified in v 14 could be read in a middle voice and now you tell me that you have no problem with synergistic sanctification. Which one is it?

    Absolutely, positively, the professing believer must sanctify himself just as Christ must sanctify him. And it is, in at least one respect, an ongoing action. But in Scripture it can also be a completed action. Hence the use of “perfected.” Christ has guaranteed that it is going to happen for those who are right now sanctifying themselves. So, those who fall away had never really been perfect—hence, regenerated in the first place—and the only way you know you have been perfected is if you continue in sanctification, repenting when necessary, seeking the Lord’s face, etc.

    There is no guarantee for the one who departs from Christ. You are simply reading your theology into the text.

    Those who do not sanctify themselves have no share in the world to come. The question is always, why do they sanctify themselves. Only the Calvinist can say it is because of God. Everyone else has to give themselves the ultimate credit. I realize that you don’t do this consciously, but again that is because you haven’t though through the implications of your view.

    Non sequitur again, not in an Honor paradigm.

    Thanks for the lesson in decorum, but I haven’t responded to you because you need to first deal with Hebrews and how the author is using that term before you run off to 2 Peter to prove that epignosis means what it means in Hebrews. Second, I haven’t had time yet. I’m interested in Hebrews right now, which is far more pertinent to the issue at hand.

    No, YOU need to first deal with the expression “epignosis of the truth” and show me why you believe it should be read as a false knowledge in Heb 10:26, for that is what your position requires you to believe. An intelligent answer from you would have to involve at a minimum the semantic range of the expression, so that includes consulting it’s use in 2 Peter and other places where it occurs.

    SS: #2: It is clear from the context of the entire chapter, that sanctification is always pointing back to the believer, and never to Christ Himself.
    “28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment , do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

    The author argues from the lesser to the greater (kal va chomer), and says that the one who tramples the Son of God underfoot is worth of greater punishment. Why? Because
    1. he trampled on Christ?2. he counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing.?3. and thereby insulted the Spirit of Christ
    1-3 form one unit in the overall kal va chomer.
    The one trampling and counting is the believer. That is the natural flow of the passage. For you to switch the author’s emphasis mid paragraph, and say that now it is Christ being sanctified (!) is unnatural at best, and completely contrived at worst, especially given that said believers are described earlier (context!) in v 26 as having received the knowledge of the truth, the epignosis which always and everywhere is the possession of true believers only. It is only logical to believe that given this epignosis, and given the flow of the a fortiori, that the antecedent for “he” still remains the believer and not Christ. And no, your view doesn’t fit with going back to the old covenant, because in the OC the offering was always and everywhere unblemished. The sacrifices in the old were never common, but rather set apart…

    Yes the sacrifices were unblemished. The error is treating Christ’s sacrifice as if it wasn’t. I don’t disagree. I haven’t switched the emphasis mid-paragraph. You’re missing my point. You’re reading it as if it is the professing believer who is being sanctified. I agree that the person in question is still spurning Christ, the passage just isn’t saying that he is the one being sanctified. IOW, the spurner is stomping on the blood by which Christ was made high priest/sanctified/ratified the new covenant. It’s not saying that the spurner is rejecting his regeneration, falling away from the faith/regeneration, etc..

    You completely and utterly switched emphasis! This is such bad exegesis, it’s like going past an accident, one can’t help but look at it. You’re upside down here Robert, with your wheels spinning. This is so obvious by your utter flip of “counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing” into “blood by which Christ was made high priest”. Where did that come from? the high priest bit? You simply insert that into the text! The ‘high priest/ratified the new covenant’ gives away the EISEGESIS. Sorry Robert, not going to convince anyone with these flying exegetical acrobatic leaps. Maybe in a circus. This ain’t a circus though, wrong venue.

    Heb 7:26-27

    “26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy , harmless, undefiled , separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily , as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”

    Where on earth do you get the idea that Christ needed sanctifying by his own blood? Pay attention to the italics here now. Heb 7:26-27 unequivocally states that the High Priest Jesus is holy and does not need daily sacrifices to purify Himself as Priest for (GULP) His own sins? Do you realize this is the unintended consequence of your view? Do you wish to say that Jesus needed purification for his own sins? Peterson, and Williams and Grudem no less, all disagree with your interpretation and they are Calvinists!

    I am really looking forward to your thoughts.

    Thanks.

  245. Eric, you write:

    I never said that Mateo posited that Grace is intrinsic to Nature. I intimated that his stance amounted to as much. I wasn’t putting words in his mouth, I was making a claim as to the logical consequences of his stated position.

    I don’t see how anything I have said logically entails that Catholics believe that prevenient grace is intrinsic to nature, and not a supernatural gift from God. I doubt anyone else sees this logical “necessity” either.

  246. Dave H, you write:

    In light of what I just wrote perhaps we could, if Jason does not deem it too off topic, define semi-pelagianism? In my Reformed days I accused the Catholic Church of being semi-pelagian fairly often. One thing I learned along the way is that the Reformed have a different definition than Catholics of semi-pelagiansim.

    To be honest, that thought never crossed my mind, i.e. that Calvinists have redefined the meaning of semi-Pelagianism, and we are merely arguing over semantics. I have been operating on the assumption that everyone has the same definition of semi-Pelagianism, as that controversy about grace occurred about one-thousand-five-hundred years ago, long before the Reformers were around to be involved in the debate that defined semi-Pelagianism as heresy.

    If the Calvinists have a new definition about what constitutes semi-Pelagianism, then I would be interested in what their novel definition actually is, because frankly, it mystifies me when Calvinists accuse Catholics of being semi-Pelagian heretics .

  247. Hi Mateo,

    While it may not be true of all Calvinists, when most use the term semi-Pelagian they are using it as a synonym for Arminianism. When I listened to or read popular Reformed preachers or theologians they would contextualize it in the 16th century instead of the 4th.

    Typically, Calvinists loosely define semi-Pelagianism in a way makes it a debate between synergism and monergism which is anachronistic since synergism was never in question during the 4th century debates and Orange.

    The biggest misunderstanding in the Reformed use of the term is that they are using foreign categories. For example the biggest problem with semi-Pelagianism is the heretical idea that man can make the first mive toward God unaided by grace and then God responds by adding grace into the mix. The Reformed often completely miss that thus was the central issue. To them any idea of cooperation (synergism) even if first initiated by God’s grace is semi-Pelagianism – which is a false understanding.

    The free will to cooperate or reject God’s grace as defined in Arminianism is the central issue to them. In other words the idea that grace can be resisted is the heart of semi-Pelagianism/Arminianism.

    So basically they redefine, often unknowingly, semi-Pelagianism to simply mean Arminianism.

  248. Wosbald and Dave H. (but NOT Mateo for the time being 🙂 )

    I was merely speaking of the definition of grace itself and not its interrelationship with freedom. Anything we are given intrinsically by nature is a supernatural gift from the Creator. If prevenient grace is given to everyone, it is definitely still grace, but it is not grace unto salvation unless we are positing a semi-Pelagianistic definition of grace. For it allows US to make the first movement toward God. It negates all the Scriptures which say this is impossible. It is an end-around, a circumnavigation of biblical obstacles to self-initiation.

    Calvinists do not for a moment eschew mystery and expect everything to be rigidly logical. The soft determinism of compatibilistic solutions to the “divine sovereignty-human freedom” conundrum is not particularly logical. And there are all sorts of other antinomies we employ. I just don’t think that works here.

    Roger Olson, of Baylor, who sometimes makes himself out to the spokesperson for classic Arminianism here in the U.S., has stated that up to 2/3 of those who call themselves Arminian are actually functional semi-Pelagians. When salvation is centered around “decisionism,” it’s easy to lose sight of the role of the Holy Spirit in preparing hearts for conversion.

    Classic Arminians are basically semi-Augustinian, for Arminianism was clearly influenced by Catholic soteriology. (Wesley, for example, was raised an Anglo-Catholic by his mother.) I think the reason many Calvinists term Catholics, as well as classic Arminians, as semi-Pelagian is just a matter of categorizing all synergists together. We just don’t see where it makes a whole lot of difference. And that’s why, earlier, I named it as semi-semi-Pelagianism. We just don’t believe that one can put a “semi” in front of Augustinian without creating a whole new ball game.

  249. Gentlemen (other than Mateo, of course 🙁 )

    Just thought I’d add that I still believe that our biggest point of contention is with the possibility of assurance. Without it, perseverance becomes a hypothetical without devotional or pastoral significance. Election becomes something we’ll only find out about after the fact, and this life is lived as if synergism reigned.

    Jason has admitted a time or two–in keeping with Augustine, by the way–that even one’s cooperation with cooperating grace is covered by grace. This makes for functional monergism in terms of positive salvation. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t cover protection from apostasy. So in terms of negative salvation (damnation), Thomists are synergistic. Overall, then, you all are still synergistic, for one must overcome oneself, one’s doubts and temptations, in order to be saved. That is simply one horrific oversight, for our biggest enemy, bar none, has got to be the self.

  250. Wosbald–

    Just curious. What is “Reformism”?

    I’ve never heard of it….

  251. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Calvinists do not for a moment eschew mystery and expect everything to be rigidly logical. The soft determinism of compatibilistic solutions to the “divine sovereignty-human freedom” conundrum…

    Whaddya think of this?…

    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/sovereignfree.html

    … theologians have come up with the term “compatibilism” to describe the concurrence of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Compatibilism is a form of determinism and it should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism. It simply means that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is “compatible” with voluntary choice. Our choices are not coerced …i.e. we do not choose against what we want or desire, yet we never make choices contrary to God’s sovereign decree. What God determines will always come to pass (Eph 1:11).

    We should be clear that NEITHER compatibilism nor hard determinism affirms that any man has a free will. Those who believe man has a free will are not compatibilists, but should, rather, be called “inconsistent”…

    So, we must conclude, according to Jesus in John 8:31-36, that the natural man does not have a free will. The will is in bondage to sin. Any consistent theologian who uses the term “freedom” usually is referring to that fact that while God sovereignly ordains all that comes to pass, yet man’s “free choice” (voluntary) is compatible with God’s sovereign decree. In other words the will is free from external coercion but not free from necessity. In my reckoning, there is no biblical warrant to use the phrase “free will”, since the Bible never affirms or uses this term or concept. So when some theologians use the word “free” they may be misusing or importing philosophical language from outside the Bible, but I think anyone who is consistent with the Text means “voluntary” when they say “free”, but NEVER affirm they are free from God in any sense. For to affirm that God sovereignly brings our choices to pass and then also say man is free FROM GOD, is self-contradictory. So I repeat, many of those whom I read seem equate the word freedom with the meaning “voluntary”. If any mean “free from God” they are confused. I heard R.C. Sproul say there are “no maverick molecules”. Nothing happens by chance, but all falls within God’s meticulous providence, no exceptions.

  252. Eric, you write:

    Anything we are given intrinsically by nature is a supernatural gift from the Creator.

    You are arbitrarily redefining “natural” and “supernatural” so that these terms are synonymous, which they are not.

    If prevenient grace is given to everyone, it is definitely still grace, but it is not grace unto salvation unless we are positing a semi-Pelagianistic definition of grace.

    From a Catholic POV this is nonsense. It is nonsense since you have personally redefined the meaning of supernatural, i.e. you are claiming that prevenient grace is “grace”, but it is a grace intrinsic to human nature, a grace that can also be called supernatural since everything that is intrinsic to nature is a “supernatural gift from the Creator.”

    For it allows US to make the first movement toward God. It negates all the Scriptures which say this is impossible.

    What is the “it” that “allows?

    For Catholics the “it” is the supernatural gift from God of the actual graces of operating and cooperating grace, something that is NOT intrinsic to human nature. But you have arbitrarily redefined actual graces to be something intrinsic to human nature so that you can accuse the Catholics of being semi-Pelagians, or even worse, outright Pelagians.

    Eric, my point in this is if you want to tell the world what Catholics really believe, then you should present to the world what Catholics really believe, and not your own highly eccentric definitions of terms that no Catholic would ever accept.

    Just thought I’d add that I still believe that our biggest point of contention is with the possibility of assurance.

    For sure, that is a point of contention. Robert has admitted that because he can resist sanctifying grace by making the choice to reject sanctifying grace, then sanctifying grace must be synergistic, in that there is a real human choice that can be made to either reject or cooperate with sanctifying grace.

    See Robert’s post, this thread, on November 2, 2013 at 7:18 am where he writes:

    1. Sanctification is synergistic.
    2. Maybe it is best to say that God is allowing you to resist his sufficient grace at the point where you sin. Paul says God is faithful and always offers a way out of temptation.

    Eric, you also admit that you can commit sin. Therefore, it follows that you also believe the grace that brings about sanctification, can also be resisted by rejecting that grace and choosing instead to commit sin.

    Robert is being orthodox by admitting that sanctifying grace must be resistible, since it is not only possible for him to commit sin, he also admits that he does commit sin. (Welcome to the human race!) You and Robert should follow this logic through to its conclusion about the necessity of sanctifying grace being resistible as long as one has the ability to sin. If you both would do that, then you would understand why resistible sanctifying grace is salvific for those who endure to the end.

    The men and women that make it to heaven are there not because God turned human beings into fleshly robots without free will. The saints are in heaven because, as human beings, they have persevered to the end by choosing not to reject the sanctifying grace that enabled them to live holy lives.

    … he who endures to the end will be saved
    Matthew 10:22

    The Calvinist can never have any real assurance that he is one of the “special people”, since in Calvinism there also exist Calvinists that sin (just like all Calvinists do), and yet these sinning Calvinists are living under a delusion. These deluded people think that they are one of the “special people” that will persevere to the end, but unbeknownst to them, they belong to the group of Calvinists that are already-damned-but-just-don’t-know-it-yet.

    Eric, if you think that you can know with absolute certainty that you are not one of the Calvinists that is deluded about his status, then you need to explain why you think that you are one of the “special people”. What criteria are you using to make that determination? Be specific, spell out your criteria in such a way that even a deluded Calvinist would know with absolute certainty that he will never be saved. I don’t believe that you can do that, and that is not me picking on you, because I don’t believe that any Calvinist can do that.

    Election becomes something we’ll only find out about after the fact, and this life is lived as if synergism reigned.

    You are correct that no Calvinist can ever be absolutely sure that he has been saved until he has faced his particular judgment, the judgement he will receive after his death. While the Calvinist is alive on earth, he can have the supernatural virtue of hope, but the virtue of hope is not the sin of presumption.

    Jason has admitted a time or two–in keeping with Augustine, by the way–that even one’s cooperation with cooperating grace is covered by grace. This makes for functional monergism in terms of positive salvation.

    Not at all. If one’s salvific cooperation is enabled by grace, what is being described is synergism, not monergism. Eric, if you redefine words willy-nilly to make an argument, don’t be surprise when people object to you doing this, especially when you impose your arbitrary definitions on Catholics to make a bogus case that Catholics are semi-Pelagians or Pelagians.

  253. Wosbald, you quoted:

    Compatibilism is a form of determinism and it should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism.

    Here is a website where one can discuss materialistic “hard determinism”:

    The Meat-Robots Are Stirring
    .
    Reference: Sandwalk, strolling with a skeptical biochemist
    http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/10/meat-robots-are-stirring.html

    It is awfully strange for me to hear Christians argue with all seriousness that Christianity is compatible with any form of determinism. If human beings can’t make real choices while in a state of grace, then Christians are nothing but robots that are controlled by irresistible grace. Sure, the theistic compatibilist has added God into the equation, but the compatibilists are in agreement with the materialists, in that they both believe that human beings have no free will. Which pretty much makes any discussion about “sinning” pointless, since in either case no man really chooses to commit sin, since a man that thinks he can make a real choice is deluded.

    “Repent and be saved” – an utterly meaningless phrase if determinism in any form is true.

  254. Wosbald–

    I don’t know much about John Hendryx, other than that he developed and still maintains the monergism.com website. He is evidently well read, but does not have a thorough theological education. (I believe he has done some distance ed courses at RTS.) So I don’t know how authoritative this article should be seen as.

    That said, I don’t see anything so horribly wrong. When he says men have no free will, he means no libertarian free will. No will to choose contrary to self and no will to thwart the will of God. But ordinary free will, which he terms voluntary choice, remains.

    Why, what problem does “Romanism” have with what he had to say?

  255. Mateo,

    If one will not decide to repent unto final salvation without efficacious grace, you have the same pseudo-problem as the Calvinist/determinist.

    And irresistible grace is better termed “finally irresistible grace.” The whole point of irresistible grace is that if God really wants you, in the end, He will have you. We’re just willing to admit that God doesn’t really want everybody, which if efficacious grace is necessary as you have posited, is true of you as well.

    You’re just too scared to admit it.

  256. Robert, you write:

    If one will not decide to repent unto final salvation without efficacious grace, you have the same pseudo-problem as the Calvinist/determinist.

    We need a definition of “efficacious”, since it is you, not me, that is adding that adjective to the word “grace”.

    efficacious – Producing or capable of producing a desired effect.

    That is my definition of efficacious.

    We both agree (I think) that no one can be sanctified without sanctifying grace. My point has been that sanctifying grace is efficacious only when it is NOT resisted by a man choosing to commit sin. That is, if a man is in a state of grace, if he chooses to do good, he must cooperate with the gift of sanctifying grace in order for his action to be wholly pleasing to God. No man does what is wholly pleasing to God without grace. If, instead, a man is in a state of grace, and he makes a choice to commit evil, he must resist the sanctifying grace that he already has, which he does by making the choice to commit sin.

    I will repeat again an analogy I have made before. Suppose you are sick and you go to a doctor to get healed. The doctor tells you that unless you take the medicine that he prescribes for you, you will surely die. You go to the pharmacy and get the prescription, take the medicine, and you live. The medicine that you took was efficacious in itself (because it was not a placebo), and it was efficacious for you because you took it and the medicine healed you. But you could make a different choice, you could get the medicine from the pharmacy, but then decide not to take it. The medicine that you have would still be efficacious in itself (since it is the same medicine), but that medicine would not be efficacious for you because you have made the choice to reject the medicine.

    In my analogy, grace that saves is the medicine that saves, and the grace that saves is sufficient to do the job, but only if you take the medicine. God gives to everyone sufficient grace to be saved, but whether or not one is saved by the gift that God gives to him, depends upon the man cooperating with the grace that he has received.

    And irresistible grace is better termed “finally irresistible grace.”

    No, that is an irrational statement because “irrestible” means only one thing: cannot be resisted. As long as a man retains his ability to commit sin, then sanctifying grace is always resitible. If you want to say that a Calvinst believes that at some time in the future, before he dies, “irresitible grace” will change a man from a human being that can choose to commit sin into a robot without free will that is incapable of resisting sanctifying grace, then you would be saying something that is at least rational. Rational, but also a dumb thing to say, since God saves men, and not robots made of flesh. God can’t save a man by destroying his free will, since destroying his free will would be changing him from a man into something else. Something that might look like a man, but would not really be a man.

    The whole point of irresistible grace is that if God really wants you, in the end, He will have you. We’re just willing to admit that God doesn’t really want everybody, which if efficacious grace is necessary as you have posited, is true of you as well.

    Two points. It is you, not me, that is bringing up “efficacy” into the conversation that I have been having with you. I have given you my definition of efficacious, which changes nothing about what I have already said. If you want to define “efficacious” differently, then you need to define your terms.

    Second point. You admit that Calvinists believe that God does not desire to save everyone, even though the scriptures explicitly say the exact opposite. So yes, this is a real point of contention, since we believe in two different gospels, the scriptural gospel of the Catholics and the unscriptural gospel of the Calvinists. I believe that I can go up to any man dwelling on the face of the earth and say to him, “God loves you, and he died on the cross for your sins.”

    The Calvinist “gospel” is different, the Calvinist “gospel” (as I see it) is this: “God might love you enough to save you, but only if you are lucky. If you are lucky like me,( a five point Calvinist!), I can tell you that God died for your sins. But don’t get your hopes up yet that you are loved by God unto salvation, because you could be one of the people that God has created for damnation. And by the way, there is no real way that you can ever know if you have been created for salvation or damnation in spite of what the Calvinists preach, since the Calvinists have is no objective criteria that would allow you to make that discernment.”

    You’re just too scared to admit it.

    I am not scared to admit that I reject the “gospel” of the Calvinists. My hope lies in the fact that Jesus loves me, and not in the false gospel preached by the Calvinists.

  257. Eric, you write:

    When he says men have no free will, he means no libertarian free will.

    No one posting to this thread has defined what he means by “libertarian” freewill, a term that seems to mean different things to different people. If someone can define “libertarian freewill”, and why this is something that men cannot possess, I, for one, would appreciate being enlightened on this matter.

  258. Mateo–

    I apologize for responding to you, but I am constitutionally incapable of holding a grudge for more than a few minutes (even though you are still doing what irked me in the first place).

    First, let me answer some of your last post to Robert:

    “Let us go then, you and I,
    When the evening is spread out against the sky
    Like a patient etherized upon a table….”

    Perhaps you recognize the lines from T.S. Eliot. A better analogy would be just this: a comatose patient laid out for surgery. Such a patient can’t exactly go down to the neighborhood pharmacy and pick up the correct medications. He is at the mercy of the surgeon, and the attending physicians and nurses. They pick out the correct medications, and they administer them. This a far better picture of the grace of God and his ministering angels.

    All that is meant by irresistible grace is that we will eventually accept our birthright as the elect. God will see to it. (I tend to call it gorgeous grace: irresistible like a super model or a Renoir painting or a sunset at sea.) There is no connection between regeneration and ceasing to sin. Flesh and blood never ceases to sin. Not even “saints.”

    We cannot out-sin God’s grace. We also cannot continue to sin that grace may abound. This is an antimony. Both are true without there being a logical systematization of their interrelationship.

    Calvinists are die-hard evangelists who go to the ends of the earth to tell one and all the good news of Jesus Christ. We believe that we can go up to any man anywhere in the world and say to him, “God loves you, and he died on the cross for your sins.” He may say “no thanks” to us just as he may say “no thanks” to you. The only difference between us is that we think God is in control of the whole situation, whereas you believe it’s just an exchange between you and that man (with Jesus standing by, just in case).

    Mateo, how would you know that Calvinism is a false gospel when you have no real clue as to what the Calvinistic Gospel even is?

  259. Mateo–

    Libertarian free will is the ability to choose contrary to any determining factor (one’s nature, one’s character, one’s needs and desires, one’s upbringing, one’s convictions, or also one’s outside influences…bullies, parents, friends, demons, employers, preachers, terrorists, even God himself).

  260. Mateo–

    I wasn’t “arbitrarily redefining” anything. I assume you believe, since we are created in the image of God, that we are more than just flesh and bone. We are spirit, as well. If we ourselves are supernatural, then the graces inherently given to us must be supernatural, too. If prevenient grace is given to everyone without exception, it is no different from other graces universally applied.

    Pelagianists have the same limitations everyone else has in ascribing merit to themselves. They are not uncreated. They require the grace of creation to accomplish anything whatsoever. Technically, they cannot legitimately boast, for every good gift comes from above. Scripture demands that they desist from boasting for that very reason.

    And yet, no good Catholic will agree that the Pelagianist abides by sola gratia. In similar fashion, I do not agree that the Catholic abides by sola gratia, for there is a reliance on self to choose for God, once prevenient grace kicks in. On your own, you can choose for or against God. God cannot be said to be empowering you to choose against him, so all that prevenient grace does is to allow you to decide ON YOUR OWN, in your own strength…pelagianistically.

  261. Mateo–

    Please understand something. I am not here to tell the world what Catholics really believe. That’s YOUR job. I am not a Catholic apologist. I endeavor to get Calvinism a fair hearing. I endeavor only to not misrepresent Catholicism.

    When anti-Calvinists accuse us of believing in a God who is a monster, do you suppose by any stretch of the imagination that we agree with this assessment? But that is what they happen to believe our convictions entail. They are well within their rights to make such an accusation. (Wrong, certainly, but well within their rights.) They are not thereby misrepresenting the Reformed faith. They never meant that WE Calvinists believe our convictions to entail any such thing. Obviously, we do not. They weren’t saying that we did.

  262. Mateo–

    I did not say that cooperation “enabled” by grace would be monergistic, but cooperation determined by grace, run by grace, empowered by grace. Augustine is clear that God gives the cooperation itself, not simply an ability to cooperate which can then be employed or not employed as the recipient sees fit.

  263. Mateo–

    Too tired right now to go into the ins and outs of assurance, but I will clear one thing up for you. There is no such thing as negative assurance. No one but no one can know with “absolute certainty” that they will never be saved.

  264. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Mateo–
    Libertarian free will is the ability to choose contrary to any determining factor (one’s nature, one’s character, one’s needs and desires, one’s upbringing, one’s convictions, or also one’s outside influences…bullies, parents, friends, demons, employers, preachers, terrorists, even God himself).

    This is a useless definition for Cath/Calv dialogue, since it assumes the existence of “determining factors”. Anything shy of”Determinism” is, thereby, lumped into “Libertarianism”. In short, it assumes a Determinism/Libertarianism dichotomy from the outset.

  265. Wosbald–

    I gave a pretty straightforward definition of LFW. You’re welcome to give your own. Personally, I don’t lump compatibilism in with determinism, and I would list Arminianism, Thomism, and Calvinism all under the heading of compatibilism, as being neither deterministic nor libertarian. Molinism excises the need for Providence, and is thus totally unbiblical. Plus, its practitioners are never even slightly consistent in its application. They tend to abandon sovereignty altogether as a practical matter. So I would list it as libertarian.

  266. On the (perhaps vain) assumption that people actually want to learn what Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism actually is, people should actually read and consider Mateo’s comment that the Protestants here are attempting to redefine the relevant terms. This is one of the numerous breaks from the ECFs in Reformed theology.

    The condemnation of Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism was dogmatically defined at the Second Synod of Orange. Here are the canons of that council:
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/orange.txt

    In particular, Canon 23 is helpful:

    CANON 22. Concerning those things that belong to man. No man has anything of his own but untruth and sin. But if a man has any truth or righteousness, it is from that fountain for which we must thirst in this desert, so that we may be refreshed from it as by drops of water and not faint on the way.

    CANON 23. Concerning the will of God and of man. Men do their own will and not the will of God when they do what displeases him; but when they follow their own will and comply with the will of God, however willingly they do so, yet it is his will by which what they will is both prepared and instructed.

    Here is the relevant conclusion:

    We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema. We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him.

    Note that the council explicitly condemns and anathematizes the belief that there is any deterministic cause for evil, because if evil were deterministically caused, then God Himself would have been its author. In other words, the explanation for why some refuse grace is identical to the reason that some commit sin: there is no explanation. All we know is that God did not will for it to happen but only willed to allow it. He does not have two wills (a decretive will and a hidden will) or any other kind of composition in His will, and we cannot ascribe any kind of will for evil, but only a will to permit free creatures to act in such a way that allows evil.

    Turning to Eric’s comments:

    I wasn’t “arbitrarily redefining” anything. I assume you believe, since we are created in the image of God, that we are more than just flesh and bone. We are spirit, as well. If we ourselves are supernatural, then the graces inherently given to us must be supernatural, too. If prevenient grace is given to everyone without exception, it is no different from other graces universally applied.

    Spirit, in the sense of the immaterial soul, is no more supernatural than flesh and bone. Spirit is natural, not supernatural. The fact that it is created in the image of God doesn’t make it supernatural; to put it another way, you have redefined the terms “supernatural” and “grace.” Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism deal with what man can accomplish alone, that is, by his natural physical and spiritual powers. It has nothing to do with the potential for man to respond to God’s grace, because once grace is received, there’s no question of man being able to act according to his unaided natural powers, nor is the potential to obey God’s grace (so-called “obediential potency”) an actual power of the nature that can be exercised by the man unaided. If you like the clay analogy, it is like the potential of the clay to be shaped into some form; without an artist, the clay’s potential in this regard cannot be actualized.

    Nor does your last conclusion follow from the argument. Prevenient grace is specific divine action of God’s shaping action, which is NOT given to everyone constantly and universally without exception; it is only given at specific times. All we affirm is that prevenient grace is given to each person at some or other time based on God’s discretion and that for the damned, that grace is resisted through that person’s evil choice, which is uncaused by anything in the person’s nature. Incidentally, that is true of both Thomists and Molinists, although both have been misinterpreted as saying otherwise.

    Pelagianists have the same limitations everyone else has in ascribing merit to themselves. They are not uncreated. They require the grace of creation to accomplish anything whatsoever. Technically, they cannot legitimately boast, for every good gift comes from above. Scripture demands that they desist from boasting for that very reason.

    There’s an equivocation here on the term “good.” If you talk about relative goods, they can accomplish it, but if you are talking about good relative to God in the sense of being pleasing to God, this is impossible. The latter sense is the sense in which “no one is good but God alone,” and it is the sense in which canons 22 and 23 speak of the human will.

    And yet, no good Catholic will agree that the Pelagianist abides by sola gratia. In similar fashion, I do not agree that the Catholic abides by sola gratia, for there is a reliance on self to choose for God, once prevenient grace kicks in. On your own, you can choose for or against God. God cannot be said to be empowering you to choose against him, so all that prevenient grace does is to allow you to decide ON YOUR OWN, in your own strength…pelagianistically.

    This is just abuse of language. The entire point of the condemnation of Pelagianism is that nature is NOT grace; the entire term “Pelagian” is senseless absent that distinction. Likewise, the idea of “reliance on self” or “on your own” is irrelevant to Pelagianism unless one means “by one’s own natural powers unaided by grace,” in which case what happens after prevenient grace is received is irrelevant. Lastly, the concluding sentence also doesn’t follow from the argument; as with any evil, the fact that God is not empowering you to choose against Him doesn’t mean that you don’t have a choice.

    In short, regardless of what disagreement you have with Catholics, you have no right to call us Pelagians or semi-Pelagians, at least not based on the historical definition of those terms.

  267. Jonathan,

    Eric said,

    I do not agree that the Catholic abides by sola gratia, for there is a reliance on self to choose for God, once prevenient grace kicks in. On your own, you can choose for or against God. God cannot be said to be empowering you to choose against him, so all that prevenient grace does is to allow you to decide ON YOUR OWN, in your own strength…pelagianistically.

    The point is that we believe the logical end of a theology of prevenient grace is not substantively different from a Pelagian or semi-Pelagian view. You yourself said that although PG is not given to all all the time,

    All we affirm is that prevenient grace is given to each person at some or other time based on God’s discretion and that for the damned, that grace is resisted through that person’s evil choice, which is uncaused by anything in the person’s nature.

    God restores the will just enough to give it the power to cooperate or not. That’s not substantively different from saying the will never really lost that ability in the first place.

    You may disagree, and I agree that the semi-Pelagian charge is a bit anachronistic. But what we see is that when the rubber meets the road, there really isn’t much difference.

  268. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Wosbald–
    .
    I don’t know much about John Hendryx,… So I don’t know how authoritative this article should be seen as.
    .
    That said, I don’t see anything so horribly wrong. When he says men have no free will, he means… No will to choose contrary to self and no will to thwart the will of God.
    .
    Why, what problem does “Romanism” have with what he had to say?

    Thou hast said it.

    We, all of us, every man to the last, was created to Will in accord with our Nature. We, all of us, every man to the last, can Will contrary to our Nature.

    God wills that we, all of us, every man to the last, is saved. We, all of us, every man to the last, can thwart that.

  269. +JMJ+

    Jonathan Prejean

    … grace is resisted through that person’s evil choice, which is uncaused by anything in the person’s nature. [emphasis added]

    Pow! Zowie!

    Indeterminism.

  270. Wosbald,

    So indeterminism although election determines one’s final destiny.

    I guess Augustine and Aquinas were wrong, then.

  271. @Robert:
    No one said anything about “restoring the will just enough to give it the power to cooperate or not” or “restoring” anything at all. The will never has the power to do what is pleasing to God by natural powers. To think that the will is “restored” to this state is just prelapsarian Pelagianism, believing that Adam could please God with his natural powers before the Fall but that he lost this ability.

    We never have the ability to please God via our natural powers. No creature could; creation has never been “good” in this sense, although it is “good” in the sense of not being created as evil or actively offensive to God. So yes, the will never lost this ability, because the will never had the ability in the first place. To believe that it did is exactly the Pelagian heresy.

    To say that prevenient grace is not “substantively different” than the Pelagian view is far more than anachronistic. It is completely inaccurate. Pelagianism is not the belief that the will cooperates with salvation or how the will cooperates in salvation; it is the belief that a naturally unassisted will can please God. Prevenient grace affirms that the naturally unassisted will cannot please God. Those two things are opposites.

    We need to stop the Humpty Dumpty terminology. Pelagianism means something, and we know what it means. Some Reformers thought it was something else, but that was a reflection of the primitive state of history at the time. The accusations of Pelagianism during the Reformation were both reckless and wrong, and we need to put those aside now that we know better.

  272. @Robert:
    No. Election determines one’s final glory; indeterminism produces one’s damnation. That is the orthodox teaching: good comes from God, and evil comes from the free, undetermined choice of men and angels. There is no symmetry between the two.

  273. Jonathan,

    Election determines one’s final glory; indeterminism produces one’s damnation. That is the orthodox teaching: good comes from God, and evil comes from the free, undetermined choice of men and angels. There is no symmetry between the two.

    So God chooses some for glory and passes over others, leaving them to make the choice for damnation. Sounds like Calvinism to me.

    Of course, if man cannot and will not finally choose the Lord apart from election, then God’s passing them by is a negative election unto damnation.

  274. @Robert:
    He doesn’t pass them over. Nobody is damned by default. They receive actual grace, and they refuse it. Everyone who is damned refused the Holy Spirit’s action in his soul.

  275. Jonathan–

    And under what conditions do they receive this vaunted chance to accept or reject? Why is it that every single person in the Maldives (a tiny, totally Islamic nation) has rejected the offer? Or on isolated islands in Indonesia where no one has visited from the outside for generations (or at least in one example, no one has visited…ever).

    There are no converts on these places…none whatsoever. Freedom of choice? I hardly think so.

  276. Jason–

    I have a post that will not show up, no matter how I reword it and attempt to re-post. Any thoughts?

  277. If it has too many links it will be categorized as spam. If that’s not the issue, send it to me and I will post it for you. Sorry about that.

  278. @Eric:
    That’s the whole point: there are no set conditions. That’s the Catholic interpretation of John’s teaching on the Holy Spirit being like the wind. It doesn’t refer to baptism, which is clearly visible, but to the actual grace that leads one to baptism. For that, there are no rules; it is strictly an internal encounter with God, and only God knows when or where it happens.

    That doesn’t necessarily end in conversion during life, although if followed, it will result in baptism either in this life or by desire in the afterlife. So to answer to the question about the Maldives, maybe they haven’t received the call yet, or maybe they have and they’re following it, but God hasn’t ordained that they will be baptized in their earthly lives. That’s not our business; we simply witness to what God has taught.

  279. Eric,

    Why is it that every single person in the Maldives (a tiny, totally Islamic nation) has rejected the offer?

    Easy, those people are anonymous Christians who are really closet RCs even though they hate the incarnation. Just ask Karl Rahner, Paul Knitter, or, apparently, the current pope.

  280. @Robert:
    No one who hates the Incarnation is an anonymous Christian, unless he just doesn’t understand the Incarnation. Given that it’s a theological mystery, that is the more likely situation.

  281. So both EO and RC have visible succession, so are their two true visible churches? Or is their only one? If two, why not three? If one…well, what does that mean for the visible laying on of hands issue…doesnt it then become a doctrinal issue (like for the Mormons you mentioned above)?

    Speaking of visible signs of the true church. How long did it take you to read the ordination records for the RC? Or did you just take it on their word, and air tight historical theology? Was it really visible history and record, or invisible faith that brought you to this particular conclusion?

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