The Gospel as Participation in the Divine Nature

Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Deification, Exegesis, Featured, Galatians, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Imputation, Incarnation, Justification, Law, Love, Paradigms, peter, Sola Fide | 316 comments

No lengthy preamble this time, you people know what I’m trying to do here.

If St. Peter believed that we inherit eternal life by the extrinsic imputation of an alien righteousness received through the exercise of a passive and non-contributory faith alone, the concomitant good works of which play no causal role in our final salvation, then for some reason he failed to mention it.

If, however, he believed that the way to be granted entrance into Christ’s eternal kingdom is by the indwelling Spirit making us partakers of God’s very nature, such that we can add to our faith the love of God and neighbor by which the law is fulfilled, then call me cray-cray, but it seems to me he’d say something like this:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Pet. 1:3-11).

Some noteworthy points:

1. The intersection between God and man is not merely covenantal-slash-stipulative, but follows the pattern of the Incarnation, according to which the Son partakes of human nature so that humans can partake of the divine nature.

2. Peter’s list of virtues that must be “added to faith” — culminating in love — is similar to Paul’s insistence that what avails for justification is “faith working through love,” and James’s teaching that we are “not justified by faith alone,” but by faith and Spirit-wrought works. Indeed, sola fide could not be more roundly denied than it is in these passages.

3. The one who fails to supplement his faith with other spiritual fruit is said to be “blind,” despite his “having been cleansed of former sins.”

4. The connection between “practicing these qualities” and being “richly granted entrance into the eternal kingdom” is conditional (as seen from the phrase “if  you do… then  you will be granted”), and corresponds to Paul’s formula already considered: “If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap everlasting life.”

So yeah, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the actual words Peter wrote correspond pretty closely to the gospel he believed. . . .

316 Comments

  1. Hey Jason,

    Your posts tend to mention only 2 paradigms: WSC Reformed Protestantism and CTC Catholicism. There are many types of Protestantism and many types of Catholicism. Look at 3 converts from Reformed Protestantism to Catholicism: Scott Hahn, Gerry Matatics, and Bob Sungenis. They represent very different paradigms of Catholicism, which seem to be quite incompatible when it comes to the role and status of Vatican II. Which one is correct? They all cite official Catholic statements. Who judges the right interpretation of those statements, indeed, who says which of those official statements are “official” and “infallible”? The Catholic church hasn’t.

    Concerning your take on the Gospel, I don’t see the word “Gospel” used in relation to 2 Pet. 1:3-11. Whenever I see the word “Gospel” used in the NT it refers to Christ’s redemption accomplished with a call to faith and repentance, not a message to do good works empowered through 7 sacraments (7 being a 12th century conclusion hitherto in flux) and other sacramentals. Moreover, Catholicism takes the Gospel to be a “New Law”. Given the centrality of the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-2) to Christianity why don’t we find any explicit NT statement that it is a “New Law”?

    How does 2 Pet. 1:3-11 contradict the fact that works are the fruit of salvation (namely the experience of reception of the Spirit, justification, redemption, reconciliation, adoption etc. etc.) not the root, the effect of salvation not the cause? Just because believers are called to bring forth good works that “richly” furnish their reception into the New Creation, that doesn’t make good works instrumental to salvation. Protestants have never said anything but that good works and a changed life will show forth the *experience* of salvation on the last day. But that doesn’t mean we confuse the root and fruit. We’re saved “for” good works (Eph. 2:10) not “by” good works (Eph. 2:8-9). Yes, some Protestants over-emphasize the latter. But that doesn’t mean salvation is not an experience that brings about change.

    Perhaps the most fundamental difference between Catholicism and Protestantism concerns the sacramental universe: Catholics believe grace is received through sacraments, Protestants through faith. I don’t see anything even vaguely hinting at a sacramental universe in 2 Pet. 1:3-11 (or in the NT for that matter). That’s where the issue really lies: doesn’t the NT ever say all grace comes through sacraments and sacramentals?

    Every blessing to you,

    Marty.

  2. Hi Marty,

    Your posts tend to mention only 2 paradigms: WSC Reformed Protestantism and CTC Catholicism. There are many types of Protestantism and many types of Catholicism. Look at 3 converts from Reformed Protestantism to Catholicism: Scott Hahn, Gerry Matatics, and Bob Sungenis. They represent very different paradigms of Catholicism, which seem to be quite incompatible when it comes to the role and status of Vatican II. Which one is correct? They all cite official Catholic statements. Who judges the right interpretation of those statements, indeed, who says which of those official statements are “official” and “infallible”? The Catholic church hasn’t.

    What can I say, I write what I know. When it comes to Reformed theology, I do think that WSC is among the best when it comes to representing the confessional tradition. That said, I don’t remember saying anything specifically about that school, or with it specifically in mind.

    On Catholicism, there’s no real analogue since there is plenty of freedom to differ on matters not addressed dogmatically by the Magisterium. But it’s also important to realize that differences between Catholics are in principle resolvable, while Protestant ones devolve into whose fallible interpretation of Scripture is to be preferred.

    Concerning your take on the Gospel, I don’t see the word “Gospel” used in relation to 2 Pet. 1:3-11. Whenever I see the word “Gospel” used in the NT it refers to Christ’s redemption accomplished with a call to faith and repentance, not a message to do good works empowered through 7 sacraments (7 being a 12th century conclusion hitherto in flux) and other sacramentals. Moreover, Catholicism takes the Gospel to be a “New Law”. Given the centrality of the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-2) to Christianity why don’t we find any explicit NT statement that it is a “New Law”?

    I don’t believe we need a word to be used in order for the concept to be in view. If Peter is talking about how to be received into Christ’s eternal kingdom, that’s explicit enough for me.

    Yes, the gospel is a new law (of sorts). Paul says in Romans that the law of faith is what precludes boasting, and that the law of the Spirit has set him free from the law of sin and death. And none of this is opposed to the “redemption accomplished” passages you allude to (and I would also note that you are presupposing Sola Scriptura in your objection [or seem to be], which would be like me asking you where the Magisterium has taught Sola Fide).

    How does 2 Pet. 1:3-11 contradict the fact that works are the fruit of salvation (namely the experience of reception of the Spirit, justification, redemption, reconciliation, adoption etc. etc.) not the root, the effect of salvation not the cause? Just because believers are called to bring forth good works that “richly” furnish their reception into the New Creation, that doesn’t make good works instrumental to salvation. Protestants have never said anything but that good works and a changed life will show forth the *experience* of salvation on the last day. But that doesn’t mean we confuse the root and fruit. We’re saved “for” good works (Eph. 2:10) not “by” good works (Eph. 2:8-9). Yes, some Protestants over-emphasize the latter. But that doesn’t mean salvation is not an experience that brings about change.

    This passage doesn’t contradict the idea that works are the fruit of salvation and not the cause of it. But it is also important to note that Peter says that our faith must be supplemented with good works in order for us to be provided entrance to the kingdom. The Catholic position is that we are initially justified by grace, but that must be increased in throughout our lives, to the point that we will be judged by our works and found worthy on the last day. The passages that teach this are too numerous to list here, but I have alluded to lots of them over the course of this series.

    Perhaps the most fundamental difference between Catholicism and Protestantism concerns the sacramental universe: Catholics believe grace is received through sacraments, Protestants through faith. I don’t see anything even vaguely hinting at a sacramental universe in 2 Pet. 1:3-11 (or in the NT for that matter). That’s where the issue really lies: doesn’t the NT ever say all grace comes through sacraments and sacramentals?

    Catholics don’t pit faith against sacraments because we believe this would be a false dilemma, as well as pretty gnostic.

    And since you don’t comment here often, I will just point out that I don’t really countenance the tactic of blaming each text I adduce for not teaching every single thing about Catholicism. So the “Where’s the immaculate conception here?” or “I’m not seeing purgatory there” type of questions simply will not be answered. This is why I usually list a handful of points in the texts I appeal to that I think are relevant to my overall thesis. So even if sacramental are superstitious priestcraft, that wouldn’t make the Protestant paradigm any more true.

  3. Jason,

    I had yet to see you comment much on the Catholic/Protestant authority debate, but I saw this nugget in your comment above: “But it’s also important to realize that differences between Catholics are in principle resolvable, while Protestant ones devolve into whose fallible interpretation of Scripture is to be preferred.”

    I think Catholics need to recognize that this argument cuts both ways, hard. Not much Scripture has been infallibly interpreted (and no one knows for sure how much!), so Catholics must also “devolve into whose fallible interpretation is preferred.” The counter to this is usually that many dogmas have been defined that set up parameters of proper Scriptural interpretation. Yet, (1) The dogmas themselves must be fallibly interpreted and people disagree about their meaning [e.g. Vatican I appears to teach against any acceptance of evolutionary theory in its canons] (2) Catholics here seem to argue that dogma (the words of men, even if protected from error by the Spirit) is clearer than the Word of God, and (3) It is not always clear whether infallible dogma has been defined.

    However, I do not intend to spiral into an authority debate because that’s not what your post is about. Here are some brief comments in response:

    1. Watch out for the Reformed hounds who will accuse you of intentionally failing to acknowledge election in the passage. Specifically, when Peter says “him who called us to his own glory” and “to confirm your calling and election.” I realize it is not directly relevant to the substance of your discussion, but since the Reformed see this as central they will not like that you don’t recognize it.

    2. Personally, I think you again have failed to acknowledge that Peter is talking to Christians here. Thus, it is logical to interpret the passage in the same way as many would say James is exhorting Christians not to be hypocritical, but, rather, holy in their behavior. This is consistent with letting the light of good works shine before men.

    3. The statement, “…if you practice these qualities you will never fall…” is not inconsistent with the Reformed paradigm. Remember, they don’t believe the regenerate are robots who become zapped into good works. The regenerate can fall into grave sin on their view. So, all exhortations for brothers to avoid sinful behavior and choose good instead do not fall on deaf ears.

  4. Hey Jason,

    Thanks for your response.

    On Catholicism, there’s no real analogue since there is plenty of freedom to differ on matters not addressed dogmatically by the Magisterium. But it’s also important to realize that differences between Catholics are in principle resolvable, while Protestant ones devolve into whose fallible interpretation of Scripture is to be preferred.

    This is a standard RC answer but, as I see it, it smacks of an idealistic view of the RC history not one of the messiness of the reality. How do you know when the Magisterium has infallibly spoken? This is not as simple as it seems. There is not clear statement about which “church” statements are infallible. All the RCC has is a fallible collection of infallible statements.

    Moreover, what do we do when the Magisterium appears to speak out of both sides of its mouth? For example, the Council of Florence clearly teaches Muslims qua Muslims can’t be saved, Vatican II does.

    Furthermore, I’m not sure you’ve felt the weight of the theological differences between the likes of say, Matatics, Hahn, and Sungenis on the differences about the status of Vatican II. The views held are an incompatible catholicism. Who is right? All claim to be the true Catholic. All quote “official” magisterial documents. I find it difficult to tell what Catholicism is when I look at these three making contradictory claims.

    I don’t believe we need a word to be used in order for the concept to be in view. If Peter is talking about how to be received into Christ’s eternal kingdom, that’s explicit enough for me.
    Yes, the gospel is a new law (of sorts). Paul says in Romans that the law of faith is what precludes boasting, and that the law of the Spirit has set him free from the law of sin and death.

    Yes, a concept can be spoken about with the word. But that’s not my point. The issue is that word and the concept (as found in the NT documents) don’t match what the RCC defines as the Gospel. The passage in 2 Pet. doesn’t shed light on the issue. Having examined a fair deal of medieval and counter-reformation theologians on this point, it’s all pretty clear to me. The passages you cite from Scripture just don’t go near defining the Gospel as a New Law (Augustine never defined the Gospel with that phrase).

    The Catholic position is that we are initially justified by grace, but that must be increased in throughout our lives, to the point that we will be judged by our works and found worthy on the last day.

    I can’t find one occurrence of the word “justification” as an ongoing process where righteousness is increased. It’s past and future in Scripture but not an ongoing process that increases. I can’t take later definitions of justification and read them back into the original NT documents. [Yes, I’ve read your post on Rom. 6, but find it wanting].

    But it is also important to note that Peter says that our faith must be supplemented with good works in order for us to be provided entrance to the kingdom.

    I’m sure that Peter says exactly that: “in order for us to be provided”. It is that we’ll richly enter into the Kingdom. No purpose clause in the verse.

    Catholics don’t pit faith against sacraments because we believe this would be a false dilemma, as well as pretty gnostic.

    Catholicism indeed does because it denies sola fide. If you can be justified without the sacraments then the RCC pits one against the other.

    And since you don’t comment here often, I will just point out that I don’t really countenance the tactic of blaming each text I adduce for not teaching every single thing about Catholicism.

    Fair enough point Jason. My problem is that I just can’t find the sacramental universe either in the NT, or in the church for a very very long time after the NT. If the faith was delivered “ONCE for ALL” to the saints, it makes it difficult to follow the RCC on this point with all of its supposed doctrinal developments (the papacy being one).

    Every blessing to you,

    Marty.

  5. Yes, a concept can be spoken about with the word.

    *without

  6. I’m sure that Peter says exactly that: “in order for us to be provided”.

    I’m *not sure

  7. Marty,

    Great observations, but you run the risk of confusing Rome with the facts. Other commenters here, such as Wosbald, will talk about the Incarno-sacramentalism of the world as an excuse to hold in tension things that cannot be reconciled, which is beyond ironic since Rome tries to reconcile so many things that are not in Scripture.

    Rome, in principle, could settle many things. But it doesn’t. Why? Could it be, perhaps, that the people in the know understand that such things are irreconcilable? Could it be that they are afraid of losing members and churches, so they just pretend that all communing Roman Catholics are one in the faith? Could it be that settling the “mysteries” would surrender Rome’s ability to hold the carrot of spiritual life/salvation in front of people without ever really allowing them to reach it?

  8. “1. The intersection between God and man is not merely covenantal-slash-stipulative, but follows the pattern of the Incarnation, according to which the Son partakes of human nature so that humans can partake of the divine nature.”

    Amen, Jason. Christ became man that we might become God (not by nature of course, but by participation). A favorite concept of the church fathers.

    Peace,
    Jeff

  9. Jason,

    1. The intersection between God and man is not merely covenantal-slash-stipulative, but follows the pattern of the Incarnation, according to which the Son partakes of human nature so that humans can partake of the divine nature.

    Sure, and where does the Reformed tradition say otherwise? Of course, there has been an emphasis on the stipulative/legal aspects of salvation, but that is actually due in large measure to the medieval Roman church’s stress on such things. Rome’s misunderstanding and denial of certain legal aspects of salvation is part of what provoked the Reformation.

    For sin X, you get Y number of years in purgatory. Do this, this, and this, and you’ll get a plenary indulgence that erases all of the time you have accrued in purgatory up to now. Sounds awfully stipulative to me, just like a judge issuing a sentence.

    For all the talk of incarnation, Rome denies its efficacy in the life of the believer: God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4–6). If we have been raised with Christ, we share in His resurrection life, and Christ cannot die again. Since Rome teaches that we can die again, Rome ends up denying that we share in His resurrection life no matter how you slice it.

    For all the talk of incarnation, there is a real question as to why it was even necessary if one can be saved while denying it, a la faithful Muslims.

    2. Peter’s list of virtues that must be “added to faith” — culminating in love — is similar to Paul’s insistence that what avails for justification is “faith working through love,” and James’s teaching that we are “not justified by faith alone,” but by faith and Spirit-wrought works. Indeed, sola fide could not be more roundly denied than it is in these passages.

    Culminating in love assumes that Peter is speaking of a logical and temporal sequence, but that is not necessarily so. Even so, isn’t the contention of you, Wosbald, and others that we are infused with God’s own perfect love? And that this infusion of God’s own life meets his perfect standard? Apparently this love is not so perfect if you have to keep adding to it. Apparently this love is not complete if you have to keep adding to it.

    Of course “faith working through love” avails for justification. But does that mean we have faith and then add meritorious works to it for justification, or that the faith that avails for justification is the faith that inevitably and always produces love. Is James talking about the same exact thing as Paul. I realize you have covered these points elsewhere, but you haven’t done it well, and you haven’t interacted in any extensive way with Calvin, Westminster, Buchanan, Fesko, or any other of those who have written on the matter. Simply to say that one who holds to a Reformed understanding would never have produced such texts is mere conjecture. I could just as easily say that a proto-Catholic would never have written a passage such as Eph. 2:8–10, but that in itself proves nothing.

    3. The one who fails to supplement his faith with other spiritual fruit is said to be “blind,” despite his “having been cleansed of former sins.”

    But if one held to a paradigm that affirms that justification is permanent and that human beings are not omniscient and so even the apostles must warn all their readers indiscriminately, then this is exactly the kind of text you would expect. What you would not expect if the author was a proto-Romanist is the statement that God has given to us all things necessary for life and godliness, because perseverance is necessary for the ultimate blessing of eternal life, and Rome denies that such is gifted to God’s people.

    Isn’t that cool?

    4. The connection between “practicing these qualities” and being “richly granted entrance into the eternal kingdom” is conditional (as seen from the phrase “if you do… then you will be granted”), and corresponds to Paul’s formula already considered: “If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap everlasting life.”

    Okay, but conditional in what sense? Where does the Reformed tradition deny that good works are necessary for salvation? We deny that they can merit citizenship in God’s kingdom. We deny that they can avail anything in the heavenly courtroom. We affirm that sanctification and its concomittant good works are necessary for salvation, we just simply say that those who have been justified will be sanctified and will persevere in the good works to which we are called. We deny that our good works can justify us. As Fesko writes, “One can say that works are necessary for salvation. They are necessary, not as the cause of one’s justification but as its fruit, the fruit of faith.”

    And here we are back to monergism. We will not reap eternal life unless we sow to the Spirit. Calvin, et al agree. I agree. But who sows to the Spirit? Can one who truly sows to the Spirit ever cease sowing? What is the foundation for this sowing? Is it the permanent resurrection of a dead soul by the Spirit who loves His people enough to guarantee their salvation and the declaration that we are righteous in Christ and therefore have nothing to fear? Or is the foundation the Spirit’s dispensation of medicine through the church to terminally ill patients who then must take it in regular intervals in order to make it to purgatory where sin is beat out of you so that you can have eternal life? One system says that Christ has done enough to save us, the Roman Catholic view says that Christ’s work is ultimately lacking and insufficient. If you can offer yourself up in the sacrifice of the mass every day and yet still die in sin, then Christ’s sacrifice is not enough. If you can truly reach a justified state but then lose it by mortal sin, then Christ’s work is not enough. If you can die again after having been infused with the Spirit, you do not share in Christ’s life. If there is no guarantee that you will persevere, then at the end of the day you are guaranteeing your salvation, no matter how much obfuscatory language is used to try and deny it.

  10. 3. The one who fails to supplement his faith with other spiritual fruit is said to be “blind,” despite his “having been cleansed of former sins.”

    I don’t think the force of this should be allowed to fall through the cracks. This verse is simply incompatible with Reformed theology on two fronts.

    First, it speaks of only “past sins” being forgiven, where as Imputation requires all sins – past, present, and future – to be forgiven. Really, there isn’t a single passage that suggests future sins are forgiven at the moment of Justification, but this verse is good in that it emphasizes the past sins are what are forgiven.

    Second, it’s ridiculous for Reformed folks around here to suggest Peter was making a blanket statement to a mix audience of baptized-elect and baptized-non-elect such that he was focused here on baptized-non-elect in the community who would not supplement their faith and thus manifest themselves as never saved in the first place. Peter is talking about people who have been cleansed of their sins who are not living up to their Christian calling, where as the Reformed must do damage control on this and other such verses to make it say “[those who claim they were were] cleansed from their past sins [but really were not].” The typical reader would instead read this verse at face value and realize that it’s possible for a Christian not to live up to his calling, proving good works are not guaranteed.

  11. If Peter is the ‘great supplementer’…then Paul is the great ‘Christ alone’ guy.

    A little bit of me and a lot of God is nothing new. It is the default position of a fallen humanity. It always has been.

    But the gospel brought something truly new. Truly radical. A totally free gift of grace and mercy NOT at all dependent upon what we do, say, feel, or think.

    We’d all better hope that it is grace alone. The ‘dipstick’ Christians will always have a job (mostly they’re checking yours)because of what I said earlier. But Christ doesn’t need our filthy rags…um…”good works” in any way. Our neighbors do.

  12. A totally free gift of grace and mercy NOT at all dependent upon what we do, say, feel, or think

    “17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household ; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,

    If it is hard for the righteous to be saved ,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

  13. Nick,

    No, what is ridiculous is that Rome says we are justified by a work of the law—namely, love.

  14. How does 2 Pet. 1:3-11 contradict the fact that works are the fruit of salvation (namely the experience of reception of the Spirit, justification, redemption, reconciliation, adoption etc. etc.) not the root, the effect of salvation not the cause?

    Once again, a western paradigm assumed in the above instead of the proper semitic paradigm. Under the latter, the root/fruit distinction is meaningless. Because there is no deterministic outcome assumed in a semitic mindset, a tree may or may not bear fruit. If it were otherwise, the parable of the fig tree becomes utterly moot. Christ fertilizes the fig tree and comes back expecting to see fruit on it. But if it doesn’t bear fruit, He cuts it down. As straightforward as could be. No, ‘oh but the fertilizer comes with a 100% guarantee that the tree will bear fruit’ proviso attached.

    The semitic mindset is seen in Peter’s exhortation as well:

    for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”

    In this way…, what way? the praxis of the faith. IF you practice, not when you practice. A jewish paradigm is not burdened by necessity, but preserves the freedom and hence responsibility of the believer. As Nick pointed out, it is exegetically irresponsible to argue that Peter was only addressing the non elect who were not adding to their faith the virtues he mentions. If that claim is made, then the burden of proof is upon the one making the claim. And the only proof that can be adduced is nowhere from the text, but has to be imported into the text from the paradigm.

  15. Jason, something you might appreciate: The following is a quote from Joseph Shulam’s commentary on Galatians:

    “… the true goal of the latter (Torah observance) is in fact to be sought in the love of God, expressed in love to one’s neighbour – enabled through the indwelling of God’s Spirit. In this, the fulfillment of the whole Torah, and this alone, can his disciples preserve and maintain their liberty from sin through participation in Jesus’ faithfulness – not in looking for social standing in circumcision of the flesh. In explication of this “law of love”, Paul appeals to the idea of serving God out of love rather than out of fear, the latter being associated with sin and death. This motif goes hand in hand with that of the Two Ways and “two masters”….” (A Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Galatians, Introduction, lxxxii)

    Shulam is a Jew , not a catholic, nor a protestant. He is like, Peter and Paul who were Jews as well and identified themselves as such:

    “14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? 15 “ We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ”

    We who are Jews by birth “, not protestants or catholics. So I wanted to underscore that the paradigm you embrace, or at least the gist of it, is not unique to catholicism.

  16. Robert,

    God’s Divine Agape Love is not a “work of the Law,” it’s a grace that’s infused into the soul.

    John 5:42, “But I [Jesus] know that you [Pharisees] do not have the love [Agape] of God within you.”

    1 Jn 3:17, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love [Agape] abide in him?”

    1 Jn 4:12, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love [Agape] is perfected in us.”

    Rom 5:5, “God’s love [Agape] has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

    These verses prove definitively that Calvinism is rank Pelagianism, since Calvinism’s understanding of “Christian Love” is explicitly understood as not “God’s Agape Love” given to creatures, enabling them to love in a super-natural (above natural) way, but rather a purely human/creaturely love, originating in man and growing from man’s autonomous self-sufficiency. It is a thoroughly man-centered love.

    You simply cannot substitute “work of the Law” in any of those places and have it make any sense.

  17. It blows my mind how people could actually believe that what ‘they do’ is actually good enough to be acceptable in God’s eyes.

    What ‘we do’ is what got us into this mess to begin with.

  18. It blows my mind how people could actually believe that what ‘they do’ is actually good enough to be acceptable in God’s eyes.

    Matt 25:23

    23 “His master replied, ‘ Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

  19. Don’t confuse Adam with Scripture, SS, it gets in the way of his system.

  20. I’m sure that you feel that you are a good and faithful servant in what you are doing and in what you refrain from doing. Right?

    There’s a huge difference between the obedience of the law (what ‘we do’)…and the obedience of faith (trusting in what He does, for sinners).

  21. But unfortunately, every single passage about being receiving the kingdom at the last judgment mentions works, while none mention having exercised faith alone.

  22. You guys have works on the brain. And that is a bad thing.

    Jesus told the workers (‘we did this that and the other thing in your name’…to depart from Him)

    Those who were totally unconscious about works…but just did them, expecting nothing in return…were the good and faithful servants.

    You guys are operating out of fear of punishment or hope of reward. Good luck.

    The Lord filled Paul on it all quite nicely. We believe that is why he was picked AFTER all the others. The others just didn’t get it.

  23. I’m sure that you feel that you are a good and faithful servant in what you are doing and in what you refrain from doing. Right?

    There’s a huge difference between the obedience of the law (what ‘we do’)…and the obedience of faith (trusting in what He does, for sinners).

    I am an unworthy servant.

    The obedience of faith entails faithfulness to Messiah’s commands. This is truth that a german/saxon such as Luther could not appreciate, given that he was outside the semitic world that gave rise to the Scripture he claimed to understand and expound.

  24. Give me a break. Luther understood fully that NO MAN is willing to keep God’s commands. No him, not me, and certainly not you.

    Right…we live on a thin margin of income and give the rest to the poor. We are hardly on our computers but instead are out searching for the poor and hungry. And we often go to the prisons to visit and comfort the prisoners.

    Spending a lot of time at nursing homes, are you? Unworthy? I’ll say so. it’s like you and I haven;t heard a word that Jesus has said about what He expects out of us.

    __

    But wait…didn’t the Jews ask Jesus specifically what it is to be doing the works of the father? I think they did.

    And Jesus answered them, just as I’m answering you.

    But you’d rather play ‘dipstick Christian’. More concerned with checking everyone else’s. That’s what command of the law types just naturally do. They tell others what must be done…and they hang out at the mall, or on the computer or at the ballgame.

  25. I”ve gotta go to work.

    You guys can rip me a new one until I get home tonight 😀

  26. Old Adam said: “I’ve gotta go to work.”

    That’s a very un-Lutheran thing to say. I’m disappointed.

  27. “The Lord filled Paul on it all quite nicely. We believe that is why he was picked AFTER all the others. The others just didn’t get it.”

    Old Adam, what exactly does this mean? That the other apostles didn’t understand the Gospel?

  28. Jason,

    You wrote But unfortunately, every single passage about being receiving the kingdom at the last judgment mentions works, while none mention having exercised faith alone.

    Because receiving the kingdom at the last judgment is the consummation of salvation, which includes justification, sanctification, glorification, and more. Faith alone pertains to justification, which for the Reformed guarantees all that follows. I realize that you should know this, btw.

    The Reformed, and I would say biblical, explanation of justification is set forward to preserve the sufficiency of Christ, that He is the author and finisher of salvation. Rome denies the sufficiency of Christ and it synergism makes Christ the author but man the finisher of salvation.

    Besides receiving the kingdom at the last judgment is not tied to submission to the Roman pontiff, indulgences, penance, purgatory, et al. is nowhere to be found, and for Rome, those things must be affirmed or at least not consciously rejected to get in the kingdom.

  29. That’s a very un-Lutheran thing to say. I’m disappointed.

    You crack me up Nick.

  30. That the other apostles didn’t understand the Gospel?

    Apparently so, apostle Luther got it. Who needs Kephas, Yohanan, Ya’akov when you can have Martin?

  31. Hi Marty,

    I wrote, “Yes, the gospel is a new law (of sorts). Paul says in Romans that the law of faith is what precludes boasting, and that the law of the Spirit has set him free from the law of sin and death.” You responded:

    Yes, a concept can be spoken about with the word. But that’s not my point. The issue is that word and the concept (as found in the NT documents) don’t match what the RCC defines as the Gospel. The passage in 2 Pet. doesn’t shed light on the issue. Having examined a fair deal of medieval and counter-reformation theologians on this point, it’s all pretty clear to me. The passages you cite from Scripture just don’t go near defining the Gospel as a New Law (Augustine never defined the Gospel with that phrase).

    What sets us free from the law of sin and death? The law of the Spirit of life. The entire NC promise has to do with what will happen with the law, namely, that it will be internally inscribed upon our hearts. Whether this constitutes “defining the gospel as a new law” is of no interest to me, since it is completely beside the points that I am making in this post (which I numbered so as to make them easier to find and interact with).

    I wrote, “The Catholic position is that we are initially justified by grace, but that must be increased in throughout our lives, to the point that we will be judged by our works and found worthy on the last day.” You responded:

    I can’t find one occurrence of the word “justification” as an ongoing process where righteousness is increased. It’s past and future in Scripture but not an ongoing process that increases. I can’t take later definitions of justification and read them back into the original NT documents. [Yes, I’ve read your post on Rom. 6, but find it wanting].

    Well, you either are unaware of the Catholic position on this or are just dismissing it without rebuttal. Not to rehash old arguments when there are new issues on the table, but I argued that both Rom. 4 and Jas. 2 speak of justification as an ongoing dynamic, since both Gen. 15 and 22 apply the whole “faith imputed as righteousness” thing to Abraham at times in his life long after his initial justification. Feel free to go to one of those threads and comment, and I’ll do my best to respond.

    I wrote, “But it is also important to note that Peter says that our faith must be supplemented with good works in order for us to be provided entrance to the kingdom.” You responded:

    I’m sure that Peter says exactly that: “in order for us to be provided”. It is that we’ll richly enter into the Kingdom. No purpose clause in the verse.

    Here’s Peter’s argument: The way by which we will be granted entrance into the kingdom is by supplementing our faith with spiritual fruit. Those who fail to do so, despite being (presumably) baptized and having had their “former sins forgiven,” are considered “blind.”

    Now, you can insist that the fruitfulness has no causal relation to the inheritance, but that would put you in the position of having to deny the same in dozens of NT passages, even ones where the connection between fruitfulness and inheritance is so causal as to be advanced by the metaphor of sowing and reaping (reaping doesn’t just happen to occur where sowing took place by some kind of uncaused accident).

  32. Robert,

    I wrote, “The intersection between God and man is not merely covenantal-slash-stipulative, but follows the pattern of the Incarnation, according to which the Son partakes of human nature so that humans can partake of the divine nature.” You responded:

    Sure, and where does the Reformed tradition say otherwise?

    I had Horton in mind, as his project consists largely of showing that the divine and human meet at the locus of covenant. And he is very wary of any talk of ontological intersection. But my point was that Peter (like the fathers who followed him) identified the great exchange not in terms of imputation of sin and righteousness, but of participation in respective natures.

    I wrote, “Peter’s list of virtues that must be “added to faith” — culminating in love — is similar to Paul’s insistence that what avails for justification is “faith working through love,” and James’s teaching that we are “not justified by faith alone,” but by faith and Spirit-wrought works. Indeed, sola fide could not be more roundly denied than it is in these passages.” You responded:

    Culminating in love assumes that Peter is speaking of a logical and temporal sequence, but that is not necessarily so. Even so, isn’t the contention of you, Wosbald, and others that we are infused with God’s own perfect love? And that this infusion of God’s own life meets his perfect standard? Apparently this love is not so perfect if you have to keep adding to it. Apparently this love is not complete if you have to keep adding to it.

    Well, his list does “culminate” in love since it is the final virtue he lists (which is unsurprising since the other apostles speak of love as the greatest and highest of spiritual fruits [Paul and John come to mind]).

    And to your argument, your hidden premise is that possessing something that pleases God precludes the need to increase in or add to it. But that premise is biblically false. We are often told to grow in grace, even if we already have grace. A Trinitarian theology that sees God as the archetypal Father would make this clear.

    Of course “faith working through love” avails for justification. But does that mean we have faith and then add meritorious works to it for justification, or that the faith that avails for justification is the faith that inevitably and always produces love. Is James talking about the same exact thing as Paul. I realize you have covered these points elsewhere, but you haven’t done it well, and you haven’t interacted in any extensive way with Calvin, Westminster, Buchanan, Fesko, or any other of those who have written on the matter. Simply to say that one who holds to a Reformed understanding would never have produced such texts is mere conjecture. I could just as easily say that a proto-Catholic would never have written a passage such as Eph. 2:8–10, but that in itself proves nothing.

    Yes, I have dealt with these questions elsewhere. If you weren’t persuaded, that’s fine. That actual faith exists and then is “added to” by love and other works is beyond dispute biblically, as far as I am concerned. It couldn’t be more obvious. The way Calvinists need to mangle and distort in order to escape this is unfortunate, but also obvious to everyone outside that tiny circle, whether Catholic, EO, evangelical, or even Judea-Christian (or whatever SS is!).

    I wrote, “The one who fails to supplement his faith with other spiritual fruit is said to be “blind,” despite his “having been cleansed of former sins.” You responded:

    But if one held to a paradigm that affirms that justification is permanent and that human beings are not omniscient and so even the apostles must warn all their readers indiscriminately, then this is exactly the kind of text you would expect. What you would not expect if the author was a proto-Romanist is the statement that God has given to us all things necessary for life and godliness, because perseverance is necessary for the ultimate blessing of eternal life, and Rome denies that such is gifted to God’s people.

    Isn’t that cool?

    Yes, I am very familiar with that approach (Fowler White has a good article on it in the Auburn Avenue colloquium book). But when you have to apply to so many passages the idea that “you say you’re saints so I’ll call you that even if it might not be true,” or, “I’ll just humor you and label you as justified, even though you might not be and not even realize it until judgment day,” it becomes more and more difficult to take seriously. For my part, I would rather side with the entire RCC/EO and ECF tradition, which says that the baptized are regenerate and can be treated like the Christians they are.

    I wrote, “The connection between “practicing these qualities” and being “richly granted entrance into the eternal kingdom” is conditional (as seen from the phrase “if you do… then you will be granted”), and corresponds to Paul’s formula already considered: “If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap everlasting life.” You responded:

    Okay, but conditional in what sense? Where does the Reformed tradition deny that good works are necessary for salvation? We deny that they can merit citizenship in God’s kingdom. We deny that they can avail anything in the heavenly courtroom. We affirm that sanctification and its concomittant good works are necessary for salvation, we just simply say that those who have been justified will be sanctified and will persevere in the good works to which we are called. We deny that our good works can justify us. As Fesko writes, “One can say that works are necessary for salvation. They are necessary, not as the cause of one’s justification but as its fruit, the fruit of faith.”

    Are we really going over this again? In virtually all the gospels posts I wrote I showed (with plenty of help from SS, who’s not Catholic) that there is a direct and contributory role for our Spirit-wrought works in bringing about our final salvation. And as for Fesko’s statement, it trades upon the denial that James doesn’t mean by his citation of Gen. 15:6 what Paul meant by it, since the former applied it in a way that the Reformed read Paul as denying, namely, that we are “justified by works.” So I can’t blame Fesko for saying what he says, since he is operating within a paradigm that sees James’s teaching on justification as not applying to initial Pauline justification at all. He’s just being a good Calvinist.

    And here we are back to monergism. We will not reap eternal life unless we sow to the Spirit. Calvin, et al agree. I agree. But who sows to the Spirit? Can one who truly sows to the Spirit ever cease sowing? What is the foundation for this sowing?

    It depends on what drives your answer. Biblically, the very people whom Paul tells to sow to the Spirit are done so in the midst of a two-chapter warning against falling from grace, against reaping destruction, and against Christ becoming of no avail for them. So yes, the person who is sowing to the Spirit must continue to walk in the Spirit and bear the fruit of the Spirit and not quench the Spirit, but despite these appeals he still may ignore them.

    But if systematic theology is driving the answer, then the only people who ever once sowed to the Spirit are those who end up in heaven, while the “many” who go through the wide gate only looked like they were sowing to the Spirit but never really were. But unfortunately, although this view makes sense in a hermetically sealed Reformed system, it is contradicted by almost everything Jesus ever taught.

  33. This is from Wosbald, who had trouble posting it:

    +JMJ+

    Marty wrote:

    Your posts tend to mention only 2 paradigms: WSC Reformed Protestantism and CTC Catholicism. There are many types of Protestantism and many types of Catholicism. Look at 3 converts from Reformed Protestantism to Catholicism: Scott Hahn, Gerry Matatics, and Bob Sungenis. They represent very different paradigms of Catholicism, which seem to be quite incompatible when it comes to the role and status of Vatican II. Which one is correct? They all cite official Catholic statements. Who judges the right interpretation of those statements, indeed, who says which of those official statement are “official” and “infallible”? The Catholic church hasn’t.

    And the Catholic world is richer for it. There are many flavors, many spiritualities, many theologies of Catholicism. There are a potentially infinite number of flavors, every one specific to a unique person and their life-journey.

    Think of Catholicism as a circle. The truths of Catholicism are like boundary markers arrayed around the circle’s circumference. Every person will look at this circle from a different position within it. For example, let’s take the truths of Christ’s Humanity and
    His Divinity. One man may be particularly drawn to a spirituality centered upon Christ’s Humanity, whilst another may be focused upon His Divinity. Now, as long as the first man doesn’t focus upon His Humanity to the exclusion of His Divinity (and vice versa for the second man), it’s all good. Both affirm the same truths, but they approach them from different directions. Each finds the path which is most profitable to his disposition and calling in life. This is each man’s personal theology (whether it is formally expounded or not).

    But if the dynamic tension of the circle is broken, such that one (or more) of the truths of Catholicism are excluded, then the circle is deformed. It is no longer a circle. After the circle is
    deformed, none of the other truths mean the same thing anymore.
    Christ’s Humanity only makes orthodox sense if it is held in tension with His Divinity. This is why Catholicism is all or nothing. Deny one truth, and one denies the whole. Any deformation almost always ends up being practically manifested in a deformation of Church praxis. e.g. Catholic Sacramentalism and Sacerdotalism become irrelevant within the Protestant framework.

    This is why an emphasis on Divine Sovereignty, to the exclusion of Man’s Radical Freedom, deforms the Catholic paradigm. There is absolutely nothing wrong with one’s spirituality being focused on Sovereignty. Many Catholic saints have had such a view. However, others might find that they more profitably meditate upon the awesome implications of Man’s Radical Freedom.

    Many Reformed-minded types, enthralled with the mystery of God’s Providence, could find a comfortable niche for this flavor of spirituality within the Catholic world, as long as they are willing to maintain, even if only in the recesses of their minds, Man’s Radical Freedom. There’s room in Catholicism for persons of every type and disposition. This is part and parcel of our Universality.

  34. Jason,

    Much to comment on in your response, but I’ll just note a few points:

    You wrote: For my part, I would rather side with the entire RCC/EO and ECF tradition, which says that the baptized are regenerate and can be treated like the Christians they are.

    Fine, but just be honest that such is your final authority, and bolster your arguments as they would by quoting tradition. And be careful about claiming that the entirety of the ECF tradition actually teaches this unless you have actually read all the church fathers. You’ve already made it rather clear that you haven’t.

    Paul does deny that we are justified by works, even those works wrought by the Spirit, unless you want to be a radical dispensationalist. You haven’t really explained how love is not a work of the law. You keep talking about the eschatological age in which we live as if that somehow makes love not a work of the law. At best, it means that love is more than the work of the law, but it is certainly not less. If Abraham could not be justified by loving his neighbor, and you have agreed that he had the Spirit in some sense, then we can’t be either.

    You keep talking about Abraham being rejustified as if it is self-evident from James 2. Well, where does Abraham commit the mortal sin between Genesis 15 and 22 that requires re-justification? Where does “fulfill” mean “do again?”

    I don’t know if I’ve asked this question of you Jason, but here it is: Who has the final say in your salvation?

  35. Nick,

    That was a good one!

  36. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    Who has the final say in your [Catholics’] salvation?

    Neither God nor Man are finally responsible. OTOH, both God and Man are finally responsible.

    Take your pick, based upon how you prefer nuancing the issue. They’re both the same.

  37. To say that man plays some role in his own salvation is to ascribe qualities to man that rightly only belong to God.

    Can you say, ‘blasphemy’?

  38. Robert,
    As one of my comments in the last thread mentioned, you’re confusing initial justification with an increase in justification. Abraham wasn’t rejustified, rather his justification was increased. You’re thinking of justification as a one time, either you are or you aren’t kind of thing as opposed to the Catholic view of justification as something which can be increased. Catholic justification is not distinct from sanctification as Reformed would describe it. Justification means being made righteous and our initial justification is completely by grace through faith but then can be deepened and increased as we work through love (which we would not have apart from the grace by which we receive such love in initial justification).

    Peace,
    Jeff

  39. Old Adam,

    You didn’t answer my question from earlier. Are you saying the other apostles didn’t understand the Gospel?

  40. JeffB,

    Fair enough, and I grant that I may have misunderstood what Jason was saying about Abraham specifically, but Jason does speak of David being re-justified.

    Chapter 14 of the sixth canon of the council of Trent (on justification) states:

    As regards those who, by sin, have fallen from the received grace of Justification, they may be again justified, when, God exciting them, through the sacrament of Penance they shall have attained to the recovery, by the merit of Christ, of the grace lost

    As a Roman Catholic, obviously you know this.

    Justification can be here today, gone tomorrow, back again the next day, and then gone again… —Roman Catholicism. Your justification is not merely something that is deepened and increased but something lost and recovered.

  41. Wosbald,

    If man is truly radically free, as you want to maintain, then he has final say in salvation. God can plead with me. He can infuse grace into me. He can order the circumstances of my life so that I have the ability to hear the gospel again and again. He can put me in a situation where I continually participate in the Eucharist. He can work in me to produce acts of righteousness. But in my dying breath, I can deny Him and pass into damnation. As long as that is a true and real possibility, I have the final say in my salvation. It really is as simple as that.

  42. Wosbald,

    And before you start citing the incarnation again, let me just say that I affirm the orthodox doctrine laid down at Chalcedon, namely that Christ is one person with two natures that are united without confusion. I deny that in the incarnation a divine person joined himself to a human person, because that gives us two persons, which is unorthodox.

    In salvation, however, we don’t have an interaction that involves one person with two natures, we have a divine person working with, on, in, under, above, etc. a human person. So the incarnation does not solve the dilemma even though you somehow think that it does. In salvation, either the divine person or the human person makes the final decision according to whether one is saved. Rome says it’s the human person.

  43. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    In salvation, however, we don’t have an interaction that involves one person with two natures, we have a divine person working with, on, in, under, above, etc. a human person. So the incarnation does not solve the dilemma even though you somehow think that it does. In salvation, either the divine person or the human person makes the final decision according to whether one is saved. Rome says it’s the human person.

    It would probably be best if you stopped trying to tell Us “what Rome sez”. We say “Both/And”. Or “Neither”. Either way, we’re cool.

    This ties back to Jason’s comments that we believe in the “ontological intersection of God and Man” established in the”pattern of the Incarnation”.

  44. Justin B,

    Yes. I am saying that, at times, and especially until after Paul was chosen, that the other apostles didn’t quite get it…yet.

    I mean, just think about it. Can you even name the apostles? God couldn’t count on them to do what Paul did.

    So many of ’em were hunkered down, or worried about trying to make people good Jews first, before they could become a Christian.

  45. Old Adam, you said this:

    “Yes. I am saying that, at times, and especially until after Paul was chosen, that the other apostles didn’t quite get it…yet.
    I mean, just think about it. Can you even name the apostles? God couldn’t count on them to do what Paul did.
    So many of ‘em were hunkered down, or worried about trying to make people good Jews first, before they could become a Christian.”

    I’d have to disagree with this statement completely, precisely due to it’s unbiblical nature. We know that Jesus specifically chose those Apostles before Paul, giving them the Holy Spirit and giving them their Apostolic Authority. I’m not sure why the “can you even name the Apostles” is a relevant question, unless you’re trying to say that the Apostles whom Jesus chose before Paul were irrelevant before Paul.

    Where do you find support for your last statement? Was it not Peter who presented the Gospel in Acts 2? Was it not the Apostles who were martyred and who led the Church, preaching the Gospel and performing miracles (especially after Pentecost)? It seems that you also forget that it was Paul who came to the Apostles to confirm his teaching, to make sure he was not running in vain (Galatians 1:18 & 2:2).

    It appears that you’d prefer Pauline Primacy over Petrine Primacy.

  46. +JMJ+

    In order to avoid simply repeating the same points ad nauseum (something which I’m not wont to do), I think it would do well to further demonstrate the Catholic insistence upon “The Neither/Nor” (or “The Both/And”)…

    Robert wrote:

    Rome, in principle, could settle many things. But it doesn’t. Why? Could it be, perhaps, that the people in the know understand that such things are irreconcilable? Could it be that they are afraid of losing members and churches, so they just pretend that all communing Roman Catholics are one in the faith? Could it be that settling the “mysteries” would surrender Rome’s ability to hold the carrot of spiritual life/salvation in front of people without ever really allowing them to reach it?

    No, the Church could, emphatically, not settle “many things”. On this plane of existence, some things will always be irreconcilable in the human mind and inexpressible in logical semantic formulae, even if that human mind is guarded by Infallibility. Some truths will always be inexhaustible Mysteries. These Mysteries are only abstractly resolvable in God at the plane of the Eternal Ideas and are only accessible to the Inner Man in proportion to his divinization. (e.g. The unutterable “secret words” of St. Paul’s ecstasy. Truths which not even Paul could express in human words.) However, these Mysteries are personally resolvable within the living Person of Jesus Christ in the Incarnationalism of Church praxis.

    For example, the only way to express the Mystery of Jesus Christ is to affirm that Christ is both fully God and fully Man. There is no more resolution that can be made, even though the semantic definition could be made more involved and precise. The only way to “resolve” this Mystery would be to reduce Christ to either God or Man. However, to do so would break the Mystery. It would no longer be a Mystery.

    So, no, the Magesterium could never “resolve” whether either Man or God has the “final say in salvation”. All that the Church can do is to affirm both dichotomous poles of the Mystery. which, in this world, is only resolved in the Incarno-Sacramental praxis of the Church, and to allow the theologians to try to make this Mystery more palatable to the rational demands the mind.

    This is Catholicism. Those uncomfortable with the Neither/Nor (Both/And) may not get it. And that’s understandable. But let’s not insist that Catholics cut their gordian knots. It almost comes off as culturally boorish.

  47. Wosbald,

    Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. Either man is radically free to reject God’s grace even after a lifetime of walking in it or he isn’t. If he is free in the sense that Rome defines, than he bears ultimate responsibility for his salvation. At his dying breath, he has to choose whether he will go out in faith or if at that moment he will reject the grace he has walked in all his life. God has no say in guaranteeing what decision he will make. If he does, then you are a de facto monergist.

    CCC 1732: As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach.

    This includes falling into mortal sin. Human freedom makes the final decision to bind itself to the ultimate good or it does not. Salvation is finally in your hands. Don’t be afraid to admit it. Christ made salvation possible for you, but He did not guarantee it for you. It’s up to you to make the right choice at the end of the day. It’s up for you to exercise your “radical freedom.”

  48. Chris,

    Come on, Chris. Did you not read where Paul straightened out Peter with regard to dietary laws?

    Do you not see how so many of the books of the Bible were authored by Paul?

    Did those who you (and most other people) cannot name, do what Paul did with regard to the Christian faith?

    Get real, my friend. All things being equal…all things are not equal.

  49. To Peter’s everlasting credit, he accepted Paul’s correction of his errant ways, and became a great man of the faith.

    And some of the others said and did great things, as well. But in my opinion, none of them could hold a candle to Paul and what he said and did.

    There is a reason, we believe, that Christ picked Paul, after all the others. The Lord picked a guy who was a righteous keeper of the law…a real good ‘religious’ guy…to show that righteousness has nothing at all to do with any of that stuff. Jesus could not have picked a better guy to be an example to the rest of us (and Paul said so himself) of how what we do, or do not do, has nothing at all to do with the gospel for the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus.

  50. Wosbald,

    Your examples are poor given that Rome has in fact settled many things for you (the listing of which vary from Roman Catholic to Roman Catholic but hey, whatever!).

    The incarnation is a poor example for you to use given that:

    1. Christ is one person with two natures, each of which retains its peculiar properties, while the dynamic of salvation involves the response and interaction of two persons.
    2. The doctrine of transubstantiation denies Chalcedonian Christology by imparting the divine attribute of omnipresence to Christ’s human nature, thereby making it not fully human.
    3. Rome used Aristotle to cut the gordian knot about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

    Moreover, creation is not a democracy. Somebody gets the final say. Remember that whole biblical theme about God being the King, y’know.

    The fact is, Rome has cut the gordian knot when it comes to this matter. If I can, by my libertarian free will, finally reject God’s grace, then I have made the final decision about my eternal destiny. If I bind myself to God fully and finally only through the exercise of my libertarian free will, then I have made the final decision about my eternal destiny.

    There’s a reason why Ludwig Ott has said that no one can know with certainty that they have accomplished everything needed for their final justification. It is because Christ has not done enough to guarantee it. I must do something more. If I can be truly saved and yet not persevere in it until the end, then I am finally the one who keeps myself in a state of grace. If I can be truly saved and truly reject Christ on my deathbed, then I am the final decision-maker. If I can be truly saved and, even if I move in and out of salvation several times over the course of my life, cannot truly reject Christ on my deathbed, then God is the final decision-maker. There ain’t no other alternative.

  51. Chris,

    While I would not put things exactly as Wosbald has, and while I affirm that every word of Scripture is as inspired as every other word, I would have to say that if Peter is the visible head of the church, the symbol of unity, and that his successors have a special role not shared by others appointed by the apostles, that it is a bit strange that Paul wrote so much more of the New Testament than Peter and that we know so much more about his biography than we do about Peter.

    That’s not to deny Peter had a leading role among Jesus’ disciples. But if he and his successors are to be the supreme pontiff, you’d think we’d have more from him than we actually do. Two letters and, if we accept the traditional designation, much of the gospel of Mark vs. 13 letters, plus about 15 plus chapters of Acts, plus Luke, if Paul was a source of it.

    I recognize that this argument proves very little, just like Jason’s argument that “if the apostles held to a proto-Protestant paradigm, they certainly would never have said x,y, and z.”

  52. +JMJ+

    Robert,

    You’re flailing. And you’re starting to become culturally offensive. Unclench.

  53. Old Adam, you said this:

    “Come on, Chris. Did you not read where Paul straightened out Peter with regard to dietary laws?
    Do you not see how so many of the books of the Bible were authored by Paul?
    Did those who you (and most other people) cannot name, do what Paul did with regard to the Christian faith?
    Get real, my friend. All things being equal…all things are not equal.”

    Paul was criticizing Peter over personal behaviour with regards to dietary laws, yes. Remember that it was Peter himself who was spoken to by God through a vision to understand that the distinction of Jew/Gentile had officially ceased through the Cross of Christ.

    The amount of epistles from Paul doesn’t mean that Paul was better than the Apostles. Note how many times Peter is mentioned first in the lists of the Apostles; doesn’t this same logic prove Petrine Primacy? Then again, we’d have to use your logic to argue that since Jesus never wrote a single word for the NT, Paul is greater than Jesus.

    To your last question, yes. The Apostles did do what Paul did; did Paul preach the Gospel? So did the Apostles. Did Paul die a martyr’s death? So did the Apostles. Did Paul start new churches and lead them? So did the Apostles. Did Paul write epistles? So did the Apostles. Furthermore, the Apostles were chosen first; they saw Christ in the flesh before and after the Passion. They were the ones whom authority was given to first; some of the first to see the Resurrected Christ, and they were given the Spirit at Pentecost.

    I point these things out in order to point out that the Apostles equally understood the Gospel, and are on the same ground as Paul, for all of them were chosen by Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith.

  54. What we seem to have here is an attempt to let systematics drive theology in such a way as to marginalize Scripture. If we were to just read the NT, would we not come away with the idea that believers are in a race that they may or may not finish, a fight that they may or may not win? While perseverence is attributable to God’s grace and its lack to human sin, if true believers cannot fall away, the guys who wrote the NT didn’t seem to get the memo.

    Sure, I get perseverence of the saints from a strictly theologically standpoint, but it runs roughshod over the totality of what the Bible actually says.

  55. Yes. I am saying that, at times, and especially until after Paul was chosen, that the other apostles didn’t quite get it…yet.

    I mean, just think about it. Can you even name the apostles? God couldn’t count on them to do what Paul did.

    So many of ‘em were hunkered down, or worried about trying to make people good Jews first, before they could become a Christian.

    I don’t know where you’re getting this from, but it’s certainly not biblical. If the apostles didn’t understand the gospel, then how did 3,000 people believe and get baptized at Pentecost? How was the Word ever able to spread before Paul came along?

  56. Let’s not get too derailed over TOA’s statements. Remember: he’s a Lutheran whose leader wanted James expunged from the canon!

    Plus, his argument begs the question by assuming that there was no early church and that apostolic street cred came from penning epistles.

    As usual with TOA, move along, nothing to see here, people.

  57. Chris,

    No. Peter was making people become good Jews first…before they could become Christians. Read it again.

    And the others were scared to death, hanging out in Jerusalem. Going nowhere. Doing nothing.

    Jesus didn’t choose Paul after all the others just for kicks, or to make it a baker’s dozen.

    There was real work to do. And Jesus needed someone to get the job done, and get it done right.

  58. Robert, you said this:

    “While I would not put things exactly as Wosbald has, and while I affirm that every word of Scripture is as inspired as every other word, I would have to say that if Peter is the visible head of the church, the symbol of unity, and that his successors have a special role not shared by others appointed by the apostles, that it is a bit strange that Paul wrote so much more of the New Testament than Peter and that we know so much more about his biography than we do about Peter.

    That’s not to deny Peter had a leading role among Jesus’ disciples. But if he and his successors are to be the supreme pontiff, you’d think we’d have more from him than we actually do. Two letters and, if we accept the traditional designation, much of the gospel of Mark vs. 13 letters, plus about 15 plus chapters of Acts, plus Luke, if Paul was a source of it.

    I recognize that this argument proves very little, just like Jason’s argument that ‘if the apostles held to a proto-Protestant paradigm, they certainly would never have said x,y, and z.'”

    Again, as I’ve noted above the same logic presented in the first two paragraphs ultimately lead to the conclusion that Paul is greater than Jesus, because we know much more of Paul’s life than the life of Christ, and we have much more of Paul’s writings than of Christ’s writings, obviously.

    However, the same logic would at the same time help support the Petrine Primacy, as we know that Peter’s name is mentioned in the NT more times than any other Apostle, and Peter is almost always named first when a list of the Apostles is given.

    Did you then give the above argument only to compare it to Jason’s? The difference between the two arguments is that Jason is logically applying our respective paradigms to the Scripture, in order to see which fits better, whereas your argument tends to hold that only a certain undetermined amount of biographical information and personal contribution to the deposit of the faith matters when determining the importance of certain people like Paul, Peter and Jesus.

  59. How many books of the bible were authored by Jesus? So the apostles sought Paul for clarification on what Jesus taught? I also find it interesting that Paul’s correction of Peter allowed Peter to become a man of great faith. I guess this kind of thinking is why the “minor” apostles and Jesus’s words tend to be explained away and trumped by your interpretation of Paul. It’s all the word of God and all the pieces need to fit together.

  60. They were all authored by Jesus, inasmuch as God used those authors and Jesus was fully God, as well.

    My point in all of this is that Paul was sent…after ALL the others…for a reason. At the time, the others didn’t quite ‘get it’, yet.

  61. Old Adam, you said this:

    “No. Peter was making people become good Jews first…before they could become Christians. Read it again.
    And the others were scared to death, hanging out in Jerusalem. Going nowhere. Doing nothing.
    Jesus didn’t choose Paul after all the others just for kicks, or to make it a baker’s dozen.
    There was real work to do. And Jesus needed someone to get the job done, and get it done right.”

    Except if you actually did your Scripture reading of Acts, you’d note that Peter presented the Gospel in Acts 2, and through one sermon he converted 3000 Jews in a single day (Acts 2:33-42). Right, the Apostles were sitting around doing nothing, like performing miracles (Acts 3:6-8), getting arrested (Acts 4:3), and were martyred (Acts 12:2). Peter was arrested more than once within the first 12 chapters of Acts. They also spent their time teaching and preaching and leading the Church (Acts 2:42). They were going nowhere and doing nothing, that’s the only legitimate understanding of the book of Acts, which is short for “Acts of the Apostles”, if you were not aware.

    Jesus chose Paul for the same reason he chose the Apostles; not because Jesus needed a “reformer” akin to Luther to go and help re-start the Church, but to lead an already existing Church that was built by Christ upon Peter and led by the Apostles, including Paul. You really need to read your Scriptures, Jesus already had several men on the job before Paul. Ignoring that is indicative of your paradigm.

  62. Old Adam, if the Apostles didn’t get it by the time Paul came in, then *no one got it*. Using your logic, all of the pastors and Church Fathers were chosen by God after Paul and the Apostles because Paul and the Apostles “didn’t get it”. Your logic doesn’t quite work.

  63. No. Wrong again.

    He chose Paul AFTER all the others, AFTER He had resurrected, BECAUSE of the reasons I mentioned above.

    That the apostles did good things (it was really the Spirit at work in them) was not in question. What is in question are the bad things and bad doctrines and the hunkering down.

    Paul was sent to get the ball rolling again and keep it in the right direction.

    It amazes me how much some people are unwilling to criticize anyone ‘in their club’.

    Call a spade a spade, and get on with it. It’s really ok. More than that, it makes you into a more intellectually honest person. Peter was a perfect example of that. He took the correction, made the changes and the Church was all the better for it.

  64. It helps to know the difference between a pastor, a Church Father, and an Apostle.

  65. God is constantly using His people to reform the Church, because of our natural predilection to curve everything back into ourselves.

  66. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone argue that the “fall” of the early church actually began with the apostles. Even for the Internet, this is a first for me.

  67. The Church was in constant need of reform from the git-go.

    Fallen, sinful people makes for churches that always need to be in reform mode.

    There was NO pristine early church. The epistles in the New Testament bear out that fact.

  68. Sometimes the best apologetic against Protestantism is just sittig back and letting its most consistent proponents take over. . . .

  69. TOA.

    Why is 1st and 2nd Peter in the Bible if it got the gospel wrong?

  70. Saying the church was always in need of reform is one thing, but claiming that the apostles got the very gospel message wrong is something else entirely. If Peter was getting it wrong from the get-go, then no one at Pentecost would have actually been saved, and the church wasn’t actually established until after Saul’s Damascus-road experience.

    Jason – This is one of those things that gives me, a Protestant, greater respect for Catholic and EO teachings.

  71. Along these lines, check out this conversation here on Green Baggins. Start with # 62. Note the comments of CD Host which while related to the comments here made by TOA, are somewhat different. His contention is that the ‘original’ church was actually Gnostic and then the Catholics came around and messed everything up.

  72. Robert,

    It seems to me in your later comments to Wosbald you impute to Catholicism a commitment to a Libertarian construal of Free Will. But this is first not necessary to read Catholic sources in that way. Plenty of Catholic theologians do not affirm a Libertarian construal and in fact affirm either some version of Soft Determinism or a Source Incompatibilist account (determinism is false, but alternative possibilities aren’t necessary for freedom.
    Second, plenty of Thomists and Scotists deny a Libertarian view (some Molinists too). The material from CCC 1732 does not commit them to it, for it implicitly denies that AP’s are had in the eschaton since there is only one good to choose and there is no further successive iteration of time in the Beatific vision.

    Third, you are reading Catholic theology as if human agency and divine power operated on the same causal plane, but any casual reading of Catholic theology on this point will make it plain that this is not so. This is why Aquinas for example can easily affirm that there is nothing of freedom that is not of predestination. All free acts are predestined acts in one way or another.

    ““Now there is no distinction between what flows from free will, and what is of predestination; as there is no distinction between what flows from a secondary cause and from a first cause. For the providence of God produces effects through the operation of secondary causes, as was above shown (Question 22, Art. 3). Wherefore, that which flows from free-will is also of predestination.”
    Thomas Aquinas, ST, Ia. Q. 23, a.5.

    Now, no distinction means not, some distinction. That doesn’t sound very or easily compatible with a Libertarian gloss on the conditions for freedom. Second, it makes plain that a given agent’s acts to reject grace is within the realm of divine providence. So it is wrong to say that for Catholic theology their destiny is entirely in their hands. I don’t think Catholicism affirms that anyone enters to heaven who wasn’t elected. It is important to keep in mind that Catholic theology is fundamentally Augustinian> The idea that some can receive grace and not election is Augustinian. To chide Rome on the basis that grace can be had and lost apart from election and to read them as semi-Pelagians is to convict Augustine of semi-Pelagianism.

    On to Christology. Chalcedonian Christology is a lot more than affirming a single person and maintaining two natures. It is controversial whether the Reformed actually adhere to the meaning of Chalcedon as Richard Muller makes clear in his Christ and the Decree. If you haven’t read it, I’d make the friendly suggestion that you do. The Reformed gloss on the communicatio idiomatum is an exchange of names, whereas for Chalcedon it was an exchange of properties, specifically properties or energies that deified the humanity of Christ. If there is only an exchange of names, then it is very difficult to see how there can be a hypostatic union, that is, that there is all and only one divine person in Christ who assumes human nature into his divine person. It was the on basis of this misreading of the commuicatio that we have people like Vermigli following the doctrine of Theodoret and Nestorius in denying that the divine person of the Logos suffered death on the basis that this would compromise the immutability of the divine essence. (See his Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ, pace the Lutherans) Much the same is true for Musculus, Calvin, Beza and other Reformed figures up to our present day. Just compare Berkhof on the communication with Theodoret. Not really any substantial difference. (See Clayton’s The Christology of Theodoret of Cyrrus)

    I might agree with you that Transubstantiation is incompatible with Chalcedonian Christology, but it in no way follows from that that the Reformed Eucharistic theology doesn’t also fall afoul of it. And this is so because the Reformed view turns on the same axis as that of Transubstantiation, namely that a genuine presence can’t be had without an annihilation of the essence of the elements. On this both Rome and the Reformed agree, they just take it in a different direction. And they do so because they have a fundamental Christological difference, via Aquinas for Rome overcompensating against Lombard’s defective Christology and the Reformed with a more Nestorian view of Christ as a single name covering two things, the Logos and the Humanity which then comprise a “divine and human person.” Wcf 8.2 That isn’t Chalcedon. It is on this view that the Reformed view the virtues of Christ to be communicated to the elect and so the eucharist can be *said* to be the body and blood of Christ because of the divine power received, but it really isn’t. the body and blood of Christ are not present in the elements. (Wallace, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Word and Sacrament) Like the humanity of Christ, the elements are an instrument of the divine will and power and so constitute “signs.”

    Further, to be fair, transubstantiation does not predicate omnipresence to the humanity of Christ. This is in part because the mode of presence of the body of blood of Christ is not a natural mode of presence. It is not in a place as a body is in a place a figures like Aquinas, make clear.. All transubstantiation implies is that many places are simultaneously accessible to one thing, namely the body and blood of Christ.

    There is a very good reason why Ott says that one cannot have an absolute assurance of one’s final destiny, because he is following in Augustine’s trail that one can be a recipient of grace, that is, be part of the kingdom of God, and still not be elect. For Augustine, even membership in the church is mixed between the City of Man and the City of God. Is Augustine semi-Pelagian now too?

  73. Jason,

    ISTM that the discussion is off on the usual rabbit trails. I suppose instead this is because your interlocutors have a case of theosis denial rather than theosis envy.

    That said, ISTM that we are owed by them some kind of commentary on what the passage from Peter means with respect to becoming partaker of the divine nature. Horton for examples views it as simply becoming naturally human again, which smacks of Pelagianism and just not what Peter says. Divine nature doesn’t mean, just good ole human nature. So we are owed a story as to what partaking of the divine nature could possibly mean.

    By the same token, I’t be helpful to spell out on your view how partaking in the divine nature is possible since there is nothing that is the divine nature that is not the divine essence. How do you partake of the divine essence?

  74. Old Adam, you said this:

    “No. Wrong again. He chose Paul AFTER all the others, AFTER He had resurrected, BECAUSE of the reasons I mentioned above. That the apostles did good things (it was really the Spirit at work in them) was not in question. What is in question are the bad things and bad doctrines and the hunkering down. Paul was sent to get the ball rolling again and keep it in the right direction. It amazes me how much some people are unwilling to criticize anyone ‘in their club’. Call a spade a spade, and get on with it. It’s really ok. More than that, it makes you into a more intellectually honest person. Peter was a perfect example of that. He took the correction, made the changes and the Church was all the better for it.”

    Adam, you didn’t mention any reasons at all beyond “The Apostles only got some of it, kept screwing up, and Paul was sent in to lead and clean house”. What bad doctrines did any of the Apostles teach? This is where the fact that they didn’t write much works in our favour, as you don’t have any proof that they actually did teach bad doctrine. The ball was already rolling at 85 MPH well before Paul came, and it only gained speed with Paul AND the Apostles. Again, the Apostles didn’t just do good things, they evangelized and pastored the first 3000 Christians, a number which exponentially increased under their pastorate.

    No one is denying that any of the Apostles acted foolishly at one point or another, even Paul admitted that he has his own issues in his epistles. What I’m denying is a Lutheran St. Paul; who came in and had to lead the Church and save it from itself. I agree, Peter repented of his sin and became a greater witness for Christ. I’d encourage you to follow his example.

  75. You really have to wonder how Saul was able to join the Christian community after his conversion, since no one was around to preach the pure Gospel until after Saul was saved.

  76. Perry,

    While I’m not prepared to offer a full explanation of the Catholic position on deification (but I would recommend Daniel Keating’s Deification and Grace), I would insist that the Son’s participation in our human nature is for the purpose of our participation in the divine nature, and that this is by grace and adoption and is therefore a participation proper to creatures. So the C/CD is not blurred, and we do not become gods in the exact same way that the Person of the Trinity are divine.

    What I want to explore here, in addition to the numbered points in the post itself, is the idea that for the Reformed, the incarnation simply does not serve as the locus of exchange between God and man, but instead that locus is covenant (which is where Horton says we “meet the Stranger”). And obviously his view of covenant is quite motivated by a fear of Platonism and any ontological intersection between God and us (as opposed to seeing covenant as a kinship bond, and God as a Father who reproduces his own life in his offspring).

  77. Jason,

    I’ve read Keating’s works. I don’ think they help. Telling me that the basis for the participation is the incarnation doesn’t tell me how participation in the divine essence is possible or what participation means. What does participation mean?

    Second, you are right about Horton and this is because of the Reformed gloss on the communcatio (an exhange of names) and because the idea of a kind of ontologically sealed human nature that he seems to work with is rather Pelagian.

    If Horton had actually read any substantial amount of Athanasius and current scholarship on Athanasius such as Anatolios’ work, his fear of Platonism with a cascade of being he would see that this is fully precluded in Athanasius Christology and hence soteriology. The same is true for Cyril’s theology. I have grave doubts that Horton has any signfiicant grasp of what Platonism in fact is beyond the popular level.

    Theosis for Platonists means the freeing of the soul, not the defication of matter It is therefore frankly stupid to worry about Platonism in a hypostatic union. Remember well that Platonists wanted to protect deity from contamination from this world, particularly as it relates to body and change. A desire to keep the two realms strongly separated is fully consistent with Platonism. The same is true with respect to immutability and the Incarnation which motivated Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrrus and Nestorius’ defective Christology. (See Gavrilyuk’s The Suffering of the Impassible God.)

    If the intersection between God and man is law and is therefore an extrinsic relation, then not only will we relate to God via a created intermediary (nominalistic Arianism if you will) but the hypostatic union is impossible.

  78. +JMJ+

    Jason Stellman wrote:

    What I want to explore here, in addition to the numbered points in the post itself, is the idea that for the Reformed, the incarnation simply does not serve as the locus of exchange between God and man…

    This seems to be well borne out by the following quote…

    Robert wrote:

    In salvation, however, we don’t have an interaction that involves one person with two natures, we have a divine person working with, on, in, under, above, etc. a human person. So the incarnation does not solve the dilemma even though you somehow think that it does.

    Thus, the Incarnation is not “for us”. It is not an unexpectedly new, revelatory Reality into which Man is called to enter. The Incarnation is a Reality reserved for The Other. “The Stranger”, as you mention.

  79. Perry: Check your Facebook inbox.

  80. Perry,

    The theosis envy remark just made my day!

  81. Jason, Check your FB inbox.

  82. Telling me that the basis for the participation is the incarnation doesn’t tell me how participation in the divine essence is possible or what participation means. What does participation mean

    Perry,

    The energies/essence distinction was not unique to Palamas, it is visible in the Tanakh (shekinah glory among other manifestations) and present in Paul’s thought and pneumatology. To that end Col 1:29 is quite telling, as part of the theological toolkit of a first century pharisee:

    “29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

    kata ten energian auto ten energoumenen

    The idea of a clear distinction between energy and essence is not at all original to Palamas, as grateful as the West should be to him for his thoughts. It is fundamentally and originally a Jewish notion. Afterall they are the ones who have such regard for the essence that they would not even pronounce His Name, and yet argue powerfully for His intervention in the human realm, a fact to which history attests.

    I do appreciate your comment here:

    That said, ISTM that we are owed by them some kind of commentary on what the passage from Peter means with respect to becoming partaker of the divine nature. Horton for examples views it as simply becoming naturally human again, which smacks of Pelagianism and just not what Peter says

    The truth is that they simply do not have an an answer and must resort to all sorts of odd glosses to make it fit their systematics. That Horton would commit such a blunder is enough to support this view, in my view.

  83. SS,

    Given that I am Orthodox, stating the the e/e distinction isn’t created by Palamas is not exactly informative. See my blog for example. 😉

    That said, Jason, the CTC crowd or Rome do not seem to qualify as plausible candidates for being Palamites (nothing personal) and affirming the e/e distinction. Consequently, if Jason and others wish to make use of the Petrine text pace the Reformed with respect to deification and a more “organic” view of justification, they owe us some story as to what it means to partake and participate in the divine nature on their own theological grounds.

  84. +JMJ+

    Perry Robinson wrote:

    That said, Jason, the CTC crowd or Rome do not seem to qualify as plausible candidates for being Palamites (nothing personal) and affirming the e/e distinction. Consequently, if Jason and others wish to make use of the Petrine text pace the Reformed with respect to deification and a more “organic” view of justification, they owe us some story as to what it means to partake and participate in the divine nature on their own theological grounds.

    I think that such would be a grave mistake (and not simply because it takes the discussion far afield from the heart of the topic). AFAIAC, one should never oppose a more Eastern, intuitive theological perspective (typified by Platonio-Palamism) with a more Western, rational one (typified by Aristotelio-Thomism). The two perspectives are compliments. To use one to exclude the other is to make the mistake of absolutizing the merely provisional value of theology. And yes, a Catholic could be a Palamist, though I grant that most Latin Catholics are not inclined by theological disposition to go that route. At any rate, a while back, I wrote something on this subject, and perhaps it is relevant. Sorry about the length….

    ——————————————–

    Both Thomism and Palamism (and the various East/West “dichotomies” in general) are orthodox theological perspectives. In fact, they are both true, even though they can’t be both held as true at one and the same time. They can’t be merged into a single system or perspective. One must change one’s perspective before one can switch between them.

    The best way to look at this would be by using a rough analogy with other relative realities. For example, let’s take heliocentrism and geocentrism. Both are true simply because neither of them are absolutely true; each applies to its own perspective or “darshana”, as the Hindus say. (The concept of absolute rest or absolute motion is nonsensical from a purely empirical standpoint, anyway.)

    For example, one may analyze the motion of the planets from an analytic perspective. If one using a heliocentric starting point, one can see the truth contained therein reflected by the beauty and homogeneity of the planets’ motions. One can, then, apply this perspective (an abstractive perspective) towards many good uses.

    On the other hand, one can simply employ one’s faculties in the sensible world (using a real world perspective) and observe that the heavens do, indeed, revolve around the earth. Trying to force oneself to believe otherwise would be counterintuitive to our daily, real-world experiences. This would truly be schizophrenic.

    But the fly in the ointment is that one cannot merge the truths of these two perspectives. For example, plotting out an analytic schematic of planetary motion and asserting that both the sun revolves around the earth while, at the same time, the earth revolves around the sun would be an absurdity.

    One could make a separate diagram which defined a separate center, but one couldn’t make a single schematic that simultaneously defines two centers. In other words, that with which we are dealing are defined, and therefore relative, realities. We can move between each of them, but we can’t conflate them. However, before one has the freedom to move between each perspective, one must accept that neither perspective encloses, encompasses, or absolutely explains the entirety of the Reality.

    In the same way, no single theological perspective encompasses the entire Reality of the Christic Revelation. Each theological perspective can be separately accepted and affirmed, but they cannot be merged.

    For example, to introduce Palamism into the Thomistic framework will certainly create “theological heresy”. If one inserts Palamism’s essence/energies distinction into the dynamic of the Thomistic noetic, one will truly come out with a theology that affirms two gods (or a god and a demiurge).

    But if one keeps each theological perspective in a separate box, not insisting upon the absolute truth of either, then one can accept that they are mutually complimentary even though they are not mutually consonant or compatible (IOW, even if they can’t be conflated into a single system).

    What this really shows is that no single theological system can be both complete and consistent. If it is complete (if it respects the demands of the entirety of the Apostolic Dogmatic Corpus), it won’t be consistent. Instead, there will be a vague and shadowy “undefinable element” at the core of the system. (This is the price of accepting Mystery.)

    OTOH, if the theological system is consistent, then it won’t be complete. It will not be faithful the the entirety of the Apostolic Faith. This the case with Calvinistic theology. Calvinism is certainly logically consistent as regards the Salvific Economy (i.e. the Ordo Salutis). Unfortunately, being consistent has its price: it sacrifices Christic completeness.

    And as we (Catholics/Orthodox) know, the Christic Revelation demands completeness. Our “narrative understanding of the Christic Revelation” (also known as the “Theological Work”) can only be consistent to a certain degree. Beyond that point, we must simply accept that there is a shadowy core of Mystery at the heart of Revelation. Either that, or we risk deluding ourselves as to the “consistency” of our theology or, worse, sacrificing completeness in order to obtain consistency. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

  85. Wosbald,

    Since the text of scripture speaks of partaking of the divine nature and the resulting material from Peter turns on whatever that ends up amounting to, how could a discussion of it take the discussion far afield? It seems that the discussion has done everything but discuss that.

    The Eastern view isn’t more “intuitive” “mystical” and such over against a more “western” and “rational” view. The differences are not about geography nor reason versus blind experience. Eastern writers are just as logic chopping as anything found in the west. Remember, they were reading Aristotle centuries before the Barbarians in the west were. The difference lies in metaphysical commitments, namely whether reality is dialectical (composed of opposite properties) and whether a theological method is built off such a view and can be informed by it, that is, whether theology is a science and philosophy her haindmaiden or whether theology is not a science and the relation to philosophy is asymmetrical. In this way the East is not only non-platonic, but not Hellenistic and hence non-Greek or rather anti-Greek.

    To say that the two views are compliments not only would require a rather hefty demonstration, but given my remarks above seem to be simply false. For the Orthodox, theology is not provisional. It is not our rational construction out of a book or a teasing out of implications from sources through a dialectical process whether that be historical, rational, organic, etc. To think so is to impose a characterization of Orthodox theology that it itself rejects.

    To assert that Thomism and Palamism are both orthodox theological perspectives is something that both parties have historically rejected relative to each other. You assert that a Catholic could be a Palamite, but having read quit a bit in the Orthodox theological tradition, I simply find that assertion very difficult to believe. Plenty of Catholics, including popes have thought and taught otherwise so it isn’t merely an orthodox reactionary claim.
    The kind of perspectival relativism you introduce is antithetical to the views you apply it to. Neither Thomists (let alone any other Catholic theological school of thought) nor Palamites take their views to be our reaction or construction of some perceived reality. That is, their ideas are not taken to be perspectivally relative. They are not aspectual. As far as your example about Geocentrism and Heliocentrism it simply fails for Geocentrism is physically speaking, false, flat out, pace Sungenis and his ilk. Moreover, the example even if true provides no actual demonstration that the two views inquestion are in fact logically and conceptually compatible. Any two seemingly opposed views could be reconciled in this way with no actual reason to think that they are compatible. As such, this line of thinking is sophistic and probably paralogistic as well (it deceives the hearer and the speaker as well)

    It is not a question of whether any given theological model encompasses the entire truth of Christ. And this is so for a very simple reason. None of them claim to do so, and so the reasoning measures them with a false measure. The question is whether they are true and compatible in what they do claim or not.

    To put Palamite theological claims in a thomistic box does produce problems, particularly because they are conceptually incompatible and not merely verbally so. To keep each in a separate box as you state is just to state what we already thought, they are not compatible. Incompatible claims cannot be complimentary on top of that. Besides, the Catholic Magisterium has not ruled that Palamism is complimentary or acceptable. They might rule that you are mistaken. Again, plenty of Popes and Catholic theologians have thought as much up to our own time.

    And I am not after a *foolish* consistency.

  86. Jason,

    What I want to explore here, in addition to the numbered points in the post itself, is the idea that for the Reformed, the incarnation simply does not serve as the locus of exchange between God and man, but instead that locus is covenant (which is where Horton says we “meet the Stranger”). And obviously his view of covenant is quite motivated by a fear of Platonism and any ontological intersection between God and us (as opposed to seeing covenant as a kinship bond, and God as a Father who reproduces his own life in his offspring).

    You are drawing a false dichotomy here, as you have been wont to do. Covenant and incarnation go hand-in-hand in Reformed theology, which is particularly clear in what the Reformed would call the covenant of redemption.

    And, I don’t necessarily fault you for citing Horton because you went to WTSC, but he’s not the only Reformed covenant theologian…

  87. +JMJ+

    Perry Robinson wrote:

    To say that the two views are compliments not only would require a rather hefty demonstration, but given my remarks above seem to be simply false.

    All I can say is that my above-posted thoughts on the matter received significant compliments from both knowledgeable Catholics and Orthodox. The two perspectives are complimentary, though simply not conflatable into a single mode of thought. However, they are compatible within a single person who is humbly willing to switch between multiple and complimentary perspectives.

    Perry Robinson wrote:

    Besides, the Catholic Magisterium has not ruled that Palamism is complimentary or acceptable. They might rule that you are mistaken. Again, plenty of Popes and Catholic theologians have thought as much up to our own time.

    That ain’t gonna happen. Specific iterations or conclusions of some Palamists might be ruled out, but the Palamist-mode of thought in itself? That ain’t gonna happen, protests of overconfident and complacent theological minds notwithstanding.

  88. Wosbald,

    Opinions of individuals do not overturn dogmatic texts in the tradition. besides, I have been Orthodox for a fair amount of time and I know plenty of priests, bishops, and laity with areas of competence who articulate what I laid out. I can’t see how your anecdotal evidence trumps mine.

    You would need to demonstrate that they were complimentary and compatible. So far no one has actually been able to do that, which is why there is no communio in sacris between us.

    As far as what is ir isn’t going to happen regarding the actions of the Magisterium, plenty of Popes and Catholic figures condemned Palamism as “heresy” up till the 1960’s. So I suppose I’ll take your judgment about the magisterium under advisement.

  89. +JMJ+

    Perry Robinson wrote:

    Opinions of individuals do not overturn dogmatic texts in the tradition. besides, I have been Orthodox for a fair amount of time and I know plenty of priests, bishops, and laity with areas of competence who articulate what I laid out. I can’t see how your anecdotal evidence trumps mine.
    You would need to demonstrate that they were complimentary and compatible. So far no one has actually been able to do that, which is why there is no communio in sacris between us.
    As far as what is ir isn’t going to happen regarding the actions of the Magisterium, plenty of Popes and Catholic figures condemned Palamism as “heresy” up till the 1960?s. So I suppose I’ll take your judgment about the magisterium under advisement.

    I’m sorry that you feel that way. There’s a lot of unnecessary polemicism and posturing on both sides. I’m willing to criticize Calvinism due to the imperatives dictated by adherence to dogmatics. But with the Orthodox, I’m not willing to absolutize legitimate and dogmatically insignificant theological variance. If you want to get into an argument, it won’t be with me. Though, sad to say, you’d probably find at least a few theologically myopic Catholics who’d take you up on that.

    Theology? Great. Theological Integralism? Not so great.

  90. Chris,

    “Peter repented of his sin and became a greater witness for Christ. I’d encourage you to follow his example.”

    What in the world do you think I have been trying to do here for the past however many months I have been coming here?

    Christ. Christ. Christ. And Christ again.

    Not me. You. Or them. Or us. Or what any of us does.

    Christ!

  91. TOA,
    Chesterton said that every heresy is an attack on the Incarnation. What he meant by this is that every heresy has in it an overbias and/or and underbias toward Jesus’ humanity or divinity. Christ is FULLY God and FULLY man. I appreciate your fervor for his divinity, and yes “Christ. Christ. Christ. And Christ again.” However, I see in your comments a practical denial of the FULLNESS of his humanity. 2 Peter 1 embraces this, and your overbias tendencies produce a denial of this. That Jesus involves OUR fallen, broken humanity in his salvific plan seem incomprehensible… similar to the ultimate condescension, his becoming flesh in the Incarnation. Embracing the great mystery that lies within will open horizons to the Catholic understanding here. So, I ask you, how deeply and completely can you accept Jesus’ humanity? Does it mean anything at all in your faith life? In mine, it means everything, just as his divinity means everything. It’s both! Blessings.

  92. Brian,

    “However, I see in your comments a practical denial of the FULLNESS of his humanity.”

    Huh? What ever gave you the idea that I don’t understand the fully human aspect of Jesus?

    I think that people don’t understand that He had to become fully human and be subject to all that we are subject to, and yet lead a sinless life, for sacrifice to be complete.

    A complete sacrifice for us. Without us having to ‘kick in’ anything at all.

    That’s to understand the fully God and fully man Christ.

    Most people just refuse to let go of the idea that they have something to offer God that is worthy…even though that something is merely “filthy rags” because of the taint of sin. Something that did not affect Jesus’ pure sacrifice. He was the spotless Lamb. We ALL look like painted ponies in comparison.

  93. Old Adam, you said this:

    ‘What in the world do you think I have been trying to do here for the past however many months I have been coming here? Christ. Christ. Christ. And Christ again.
    Not me. You. Or them. Or us. Or what any of us does. Christ!”

    I’m not sure how you think you’ve been managing this. You’ve clearly been preaching some sort of quasi-Pauline-Primacy Gospel that’s laced with antinomianism. Furthermore, I’m not sure why you’ve been “trying”; isn’t that what Christ is meant to do? For someone who is clearly dedicated to an antinomianist gospel, you’re pretty determined to *work* on us.

    One must remember that, as Jason has repeated (almost ad nauseum), Christ doesn’t work in a vacuum. All of our works and deeds that are good come from God, from Christ, from the Holy Spirit that lives within the Christian. Perhaps you’d find more traction on these threads when you stop denying the work of Christ.

  94. Chris,

    Honestly, I have no idea where you guys are getting these false notions of what I have said here.

    I NEVER have denied that Christ works in us. Not once.

    You guys, or many here, have said that we need Christ …+

    Christ + our sincerity. Our good works. Our…whatevers.

    Good works naturally follow in the Christian life, as breathing follows being born. But to TIE good works to one’s salvation and justification places the onus in the wrong direction. You place works ‘on the brain’ and then the proper motivation is shot to hell.

    ALL people do good works. There is nothing inherently Christian about good works. What makes them Christian is when they are the result of faith…NOT the goading of the law (‘what we should, ought, or must be doing’).

  95. Wosbald,

    It isn’t a matter of what I feel. Plenty of Catholics, including popes designated the Orthodox as schismatics and heretics as I said before, well into the twentieth century. What changed? Did Catholic doctrine change? Orthodox doctrine? Nope. The change is strategic and tactical, not substantive.

    Secondly, as far as variance is concerned, I’d suggest that on many fronts that doesn’t seem open to you as a Catholic. Orthodox deny Catholic teaching regarding the papacy for example. Why are Protestants heretics for denying it, but the Orthodox aren’t? How strange.

  96. TOA,

    How does good works naturally follows a Christian life, as breathing follows being born?

    If it comes that naturally, then it’s not much of a sacrifice and if it doesn’t, does that mean I’m not living a Christian life or better yet am I truly Christian?

    I breath whether I want to or not, but like everyone else I can struggle with doing all the good works Jesus asks us to do. If good works becomes that easy, it probably means you are not doing enough.

  97. Those in Christ have the Holy Spirit residing in them.

    The Holy Spirit inspires us to do good.

    Who says that Holy Spirit inspired works require no sacrifice? Who said that they are easy?

    But they happen, nonetheless.

    __

    Works done out of fear of punishment, or hope of reward, on the other hand, aren’t really “good works” because the motive is shot. Even though they may still someone.

  98. may still ‘help’ someone

  99. Off to the salt mine…again.

    This work stuff is getting out of hand.

  100. Your analogy implied it.

  101. +JMJ+

    SS wrote:

    The energies/essence distinction was not unique to Palamas, it is visible in the Tanakh (shekinah glory among other manifestations) and present in Paul’s thought and pneumatology… The idea of a clear distinction between energy and essence is not at all original to Palamas, as grateful as the West should be to him for his thoughts. It is fundamentally and originally a Jewish notion. Afterall they are the ones who have such regard for the essence that they would not even pronounce His Name, and yet argue powerfully for His intervention in the human realm, a fact to which history attests.

    Aye. And I would go one further and suggest that it is not fundamentally and/or exclusively Jewish. It is simply part of the Common Doctrine of Man. It is intrinsic to the Sanatana Dharma (the Perennial Way). It is those ripples and echos of Edenic Wisdom in the Heart of Man and which have been kept vigil in the Ancient Traditions of Mankind.

    The “Theological Work” proper to Christianity is little more than the re-illumintion and re-vivification (resurrection) of the significance of the Common Wisdom under the light of Incarnationalism and Trinitarianism. Christians have no lock on the Common Wisdom, except inasmuch as it is considered under its Christian significance.

    As I think I’ve mentioned before, getting hung up on the Jewish perspectives on the Dharma is just as myopic as doing so with the Palamist or Thomist iterations. Don’t absolutize the provisional.

  102. Wosbold,

    Uhm, no, it is not part of Buddhism or Eastern thought. Those traditions are dialectical and turn on the abolition of personhood. Christianity is not some Monism, Eastern, Hermetic or Platonic.

    Christianity turns on a claim of divine disclosure and revelation of persons, not their teleological annihilation.

    Your claims of provisionality simply contradict Christianity simpliciter. While tt is fairly common for Eastern religious traditions to try and map on to Orthodox spirituality in a syncretistic way, but it is not Orthodox. The Monks of Mt. Athos would rather commune with the Pope (the last one they designated a “two horned Satan”) than with the Yogi’s of Asia.

  103. As I think I’ve mentioned before, getting hung up on the Jewish perspectives on the Dharma is just as myopic as doing so with the Palamist or Thomist iterations. Don’t absolutize the provisional

    Wosbald,

    God revealed Himself to Abram, not to Hanuman or Vishnu. This is absolute fact, and there is no getting around it. If you’ve got a problem with that, take it up with the Almighty.

    And from that hard historical fact, and the ensuing Abrahamic promise comes the following from Paul:

    “26 And so all Israel will be saved , as it is written:

    “The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
    And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
    27 For this is My covenant with them ,
    When I take away their sins.”

    The sooner the West/East humbles itself and acknowledges the existence of the Jewish believer in Yeshua, the better off we will all be, because right now, the church is a broken and sick mess. Even a 12 year old can acknowledge this (true story, a 12 year old once asked the question in Sunday School: Why are there so many different churches? There is no answer but the truth: that the church is sinfully divided). Not that I expect any humility any time soon, hearts were hardened many centuries ago over this fact. But I will be the voice crying out, even if it falls on deaf ears.

    The church was founded by a Jew, and authority given to Jews. That the gentiles have deliberated over the centuries (post A.D. 70) in their councils while denying this reality absolutes beggars belief! Doctrines should never have been formulated without the input of believing Jews, and by believing Jews I don’t mean converts to the Catholic or Protestant faiths. The Scriptures are theirs, written by their own. At the Jerusalem council, the leadership was exclusively Jewish, and it was from them that another Jew, Paul, sought permission and approval. It wasn’t a Latin/Argentinian/German/Swiss contingent, but a Jewish contigent! They are the ones who did such gentiles a favor in allowing us (“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us…” And we gentiles ought to have included them and sought their wisdom and understanding, given that they are the natural branches which Paul speaks of. This is not to say that gentiles should never have a leadership position, but rather that a “Gentiles/Converts Only” approach, which has been the defacto M.O. since the destruction of the temple, is 100% wrong. It is a violation of the very principle that Paul fought so hard for when He confronted Peter’s hypocrisy/sin.

    Now the hypocrisy is on us and we are paying the price for it.

  104. +JMJ+

    SS wrote:

    God revealed Himself to Abram, not to Hanuman or Vishnu. This is absolute fact, and there is no getting around it. If you’ve got a problem with that, take it up with the Almighty.

    I’m well aware of your Jewish squint. And like I said, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with such a disposition. In fact, it can be admirable. As long as one doesn’t absolutize it, it won’t become a stumbling block. At any rate, I’m just giving my advice. Obviously, you don’t have to take it. I usually offer it whenever it seems relevant.

  105. Jason, I am a confessional Reformed Presbyterian. That being said, I do concur with your basic take on Peter’s meaning in 2 Peter 1:3-11. We can and certainly must “add” to our faith in order to inherit the kingdom, although of course, I believe that even those works are the result of the Holy Spirit working in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure (cf. Philippians 2). Only faith which works itself out through love saves. A bare faith which is not simultaneously a faithful/working faith is actually a “dead”, non-saving faith at all (cf. James 2:14-28). That being said, of course, the concept the idea that our works are somehow meritorious with respect to our salvation, adding to the finished work of Christ, I find hard to square with apostle Paul. So, I agree that we must “make every effort to supplement our faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” if there will be “richly provided for us an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” However, my question is this: On your reading of this text, how could we possibly know (apart from direct revelation from God or the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church) if we have added enough of these additional virtues to the base/foundation of faith to be sure that we will indeed have the entrance provided to us into the eternal kingdom? Indeed we must strive to make our calling and election sure/steadfast, but if we fail to achieve the fullness of perfection culminating in “love” that Peter describes here (on your reading) will we be sent to Purgatory for remedial purification until we reach a state of perfected “love”? Just curious how you, as a new Catholic, see this passage with respect to the doctrine of assurance and the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. Thanks in advance.

  106. I’m well aware of your Jewish squint. And like I said, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with such a disposition. In fact, it can be admirable. As long as one doesn’t absolutize it, it won’t become a stumbling block. At any rate, I’m just giving my advice. Obviously, you don’t have to take it. I usually offer it whenever it seems relevant.

    If you want to call it that, then Paul was squinting too in Romans 11. His disposition towards the natural branches/root has DEEP implications for our eccelesiology (in the West) or lack thereof, I should say.

    Truth, by definition, is absolute, and exclusive, so I am puzzled at your repeated emphasis on Hindu thought, which is replete with relativistic thinking and as Perry has pointed out turns on the abolition of personhood. God revealed uniquely revealed Himself to Abraham, and made a personal promise to Him. And it is through Abraham’s witness of energies of God that Israel was brought forth, and that hence Messiah was brought forth. For what was at work in Mary but the uncreated energy of God, who by His ineffable grace so condescended to us.

    The advice I have for everyone here, is to listen to what jewish believers like Joseph Shulam are saying and take them seriously. The time of the fullness of the gentiles has arrived and it is high time that we pay attention, after centuries of neglect and ignorance.

    P.s: While I agree with him, I have no affiliation with Shulam, so whatever I have presented here are my views only.

  107. On your reading of this text, how could we possibly know (apart from direct revelation from God or the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church) if we have added enough of these additional virtues to the base/foundation of faith to be sure that we will indeed have the entrance provided to us into the eternal kingdom?

    This is a good and legitimate question. I wish we had more of this and less of the TOA troll like nonsense.

    Steve, if you can know that your wife will not issue you a certificate of divorce tomorrow, because she loves you, and you love her and are expressing that love, albeit imperfectly to her, can you grant that God can do the same with us?

  108. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Jason, I am a confessional Reformed Presbyterian. That being said, I do concur with your basic take on Peter’s meaning in 2 Peter 1:3-11. We can and certainly must “add” to our faith in order to inherit the kingdom, although of course, I believe that even those works are the result of the Holy Spirit working in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure (cf. Philippians 2). Only faith which works itself out through love saves. A bare faith which is not simultaneously a faithful/working faith is actually a “dead”, non-saving faith at all (cf. James 2:14-28).

    We are in agreement here. Catholics believe that faith alone (what James calls “dead faith”) is not enough, but must be supplemented with works, and that those works are Spirit-wrought gifts of grace that in no way originate with us.

    That being said, of course, the concept the idea that our works are somehow meritorious with respect to our salvation, adding to the finished work of Christ, I find hard to square with apostle Paul.

    Well as you know, Paul only wrote around half the NT. Yet he, along with Jesus and John (and perhaps Peter, I’m not sure), spoke of “being found worthy” on the day of judgment due to our Spirit-wrought works (I wrote a post on this a few weeks ago). So if you believe that we in some sense are regarded as worthy on the last day, and that the NT appeals to our works to substantiate this label, then we are in agreement here as well. Don’t let the idea of merit scare you off, it’s just our way of describing the NT’s teaching. And all merit is gained by grace, never by our unaided works of our fallen nature.

    So, I agree that we must “make every effort to supplement our faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” if there will be “richly provided for us an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” However, my question is this: On your reading of this text, how could we possibly know (apart from direct revelation from God or the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church) if we have added enough of these additional virtues to the base/foundation of faith to be sure that we will indeed have the entrance provided to us into the eternal kingdom?

    I appreciate your giving me the chance to clarify this. I was in a discussion with my session some years ago as we were going through a book on the Federal Vision, and one of my elders asked something like, “With all this emphasis on works, how will they ever decide how many are enough?” It hadn’t occurred to me before then, but my answer was, “Well, they’d need to start by distinguishing mortal and venial sin.” My point was/is that without that distinction, and without the sacrament of reconciliation, you’d need special revelation to have assurance. But when a Catholic believer knows that he is in a state of grace (having not deliberately and with full knowledge committed any of the sins that the NT says disqualify one from heaven), and as he seeks to love God and neighbor to the best of his Spirit-given ability, then he can have a moral certainty of his salvation that doesn’t require special revelation or access to the Book of Life.

    So ironically, the Reformed and Catholic positions on assurance are quite similar, but due to the former’s lack of a distinction between mortal and venial sins and lack of the sacrament of reconciliation, the assurance question cannot but devolve into seeking to peer into the divine decree of election (which is a quagmire).

    Indeed we must strive to make our calling and election sure/steadfast, but if we fail to achieve the fullness of perfection culminating in “love” that Peter describes here (on your reading) will we be sent to Purgatory for remedial purification until we reach a state of perfected “love”? Just curious how you, as a new Catholic, see this passage with respect to the doctrine of assurance and the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. Thanks in advance.

    Purgatory is only for those destined for heaven, but who have venial sins on their account whose temporal debts were not satisfied in this life. Think of it this way: if a man commits murder and serves his entire sentence, he is then free in the eyes of the law. But that doesn’t mean that he will be able to simply move back home and resume his roles and husband and father. There are still consequences to his actions despite justice having been served. So with Purgatory. If there are still stains from venial sins when we die, we will need to be purged of those before we are ready to stand in God’s presence.

    Hope that helps.

  109. SS, you wrote: “Steve, if you can know that your wife will not issue you a certificate of divorce tomorrow, because she loves you, and you love her and are expressing that love, albeit imperfectly to her, can you grant that God can do the same with us?” I would, of course, answer this question in the affirmative, and I do indeed grant that God can (yea, does) do the same with us. That’s actually the way that I, as a Reformed Presbyterian Christian (with definite Federal/covenantal sympathies) have typically read this passage. The call in this passage to “make our call and election sure” and to “do these things” so that we never “stumble” (so that an “entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”) is grounded on honestly looking at the DIRECTION of our faith (i.e. faith which “adds” virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and sincere love) rather than the PERFECTION of our faith. I think we concur on this. I just see the things we must “add” to faith in this text as the works/fruits which flow out of true/saving/living faith rather than as things separate from faith. So, the Catholic seems to say, “See, it’s not faith ALONE that saves and gives us assurance of salvation, but rather it’s faith plus these additional “qualities” which Peter lists out here which save and give us assurance.” I look at this and say “It’s faith ALONE that saves, apart from the works of the law (cf. Rom 3:28), but by the effectual working of God’s sovereign grace in the heart of the believer such FAITH which God bestows by its very nature moves the heart of the faith-bearer/faithful to “add” these qualities Peter lists here. The call to “make our calling and election sure” is not a call to make sure that we are, in fact, called and elect. Peter has already assured these saints that they are “elect” (cf. 1 Peter 1:2), that they have “faith” (2 Peter 2:1), and that they have an “inheritance… reserved in heaven for them who are kept BY FAITH [i.e. living/fruitful/working faith of the kind I described above alone? or faith plus the additional/separate “qualities” in 2 Peter 1?] through the power of God unto salvation…”. Rather, the call to “make our calling and election sure” is a call to make our already-existing calling and election which was certified in our baptism “sure” (i.e. steadfast). It’s like the idea of shoring something up, like a foundation, which is beginning to crack. This list which Peter gives us here in 2 Peter 1 is like a column with layers, each one building upward on the cornerstone/foundation of faith and flowing out of that faith. However, if a saint who was “elect” and “called” in baptism has seen his growth in faith grow become stunted/stagnant so that he has become “shortsighted, even unto blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins”, then he needs to shore up the column of faith (and all of the faith-full ‘qualities’ that flow/grow out from it) so that it can bear up under testing, proving itself “worthy” and inheriting the eternal kingdom promised to those who love the Lord. But in all these things, the saints are still “kept by the POWER of God through FAITH for salvation” (1 Peter 1:5); They are kept/preserved by a joy-filled faith through all of the faith-purifying trials which precede “the end of their FAITH – the salvation of their souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9). Thanks again, SS, for your interaction on this. Good discussion. Grace and peace to you in Christ our Savior.

  110. Jason,

    Since you brought it up, has the Roman Catholic Church ever posted a complete list of mortal sins?

  111. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    Since you brought it up, has the Roman Catholic Church ever posted a complete list of mortal sins?

    That’s just another one of those “absurd on a Natural level” kind-of-things. Natural Man knows the law on his Heart. And it’s preserved in the Common Wisdom (Sanatana Dharma). It’s preserved in the very fabric of Creation. Moslems, Jews, Pagans, etc. Everybody has it. Though well-known, Hammurabi’s Code is only one iteration.

    For the peace of heart of those scrupulous types who really need a divine doubling-down on what they already know in the Natural Law, God gave the Decalogue.

    If you can’t even walk on your own two feet on the Natural level and know the basic parameters of just being human, the Magesterium can’t do a whole lot for you. They can’t live your life for you. Seriously, do you want the hierarchy to hold your hand when you go pee-pee, too?

  112. Old Adam, you said this:
    “Honestly, I have no idea where you guys are getting these false notions of what I have said here.
    I NEVER have denied that Christ works in us. Not once.
    You guys, or many here, have said that we need Christ …+
    Christ + our sincerity. Our good works. Our…whatevers.
    Good works naturally follow in the Christian life, as breathing follows being born. But to TIE good works to one’s salvation and justification places the onus in the wrong direction. You place works ‘on the brain’ and then the proper motivation is shot to hell.
    ALL people do good works. There is nothing inherently Christian about good works. What makes them Christian is when they are the result of faith…NOT the goading of the law (‘what we should, ought, or must be doing’).”

    I’ve never said that we need “Christ + (insert word here)”. I’ve made it clear that it is Christ who gives us these things. We need faith, good works, baptism, the Holy Eucharist, proper doctrine, etc., and they come from Christ. To give this example: If I agreed to Penal Substitution, to the concept that Jesus Christ suffered the wrath of God the Father because he extrinsically bore the sins of humanity, and agreed that I had to receive Christ and repent from sin, you still would not accept me as an orthodox Christian. Why? Because I wouldn’t accept Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, or other man-made traditions of the ‘Reformation’.

    Since I wouldn’t accept these things, you would say that I need proper doctrine, not heresy. However, you would be contradicting yourself, because then it’s “Christ + proper doctrine”. Unless you recognize that you can’t separate Christ from these things, which are essential to salvation.

    If good works follow naturally, tell me, how well are you doing them? Surely, this logic would make every single “real” Christian a Saint! Yet the evidence is quite to the contrary; while Christ does make us holy, we must commit to Him and he will bear fruit of Holiness in our lives, and our lives shall conform to that of the Saints and ultimately, to His.

    I thought the Protestant concept was that *no one did good works*, Adam. Which is it?

  113. Wosbald,

    Thanks for not answering the question. Rome has defined things as mortal sin that are not in the Decalogue, so even that’s not good enough for your church.

    Where is the infallible list that gives us all mortal sin? Does Rome really care so very little for mankind and those with afflicted consciences among us that she can’t give us one? Or is it that by giving one, she necessarily surrenders some of her power over her people?

  114. Chris,

    Sola fide means “faith alone in the biblical Christ.” And the biblical Christ demands perfection (Matt. 5:48), but I’ve yet to see a Roman Catholic actually deal with that passage well, for Christ makes the demands of God reflect His own character.

    And at least the Reformed would not say we cannot do good works. What they would say is that we cannot do works that are good enough to merit God’s declaration of righteousness and citizenship in His kingdom. Rome, on the other hand, says we will not receive God’s declaration of righteousness and citizenship in His kingdom until we cooperate with His grace and produce good works to merit our final standing before God. That scheme of salvation is really not all that different from Islam, which is why it is completely understandable that your church has extended salvation to Muslims. Talk as much about Christ working in you as you want, but if people who repudiate the incarnation and the Trinity can be saved, it is really not clear at all that Christ needs to do anything.

    Like every other non-biblical system, the standard for salvation in Rome is “good enough.”

  115. But in all these things, the saints are still “kept by the POWER of God through FAITH for salvation” (1 Peter 1:5); They are kept/preserved by a joy-filled faith through all of the faith-purifying trials which precede “the end of their FAITH – the salvation of their souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9). Thanks again, SS, for your interaction on this. Good discussion. Grace and peace to you in Christ our Savior.

    Thanks Steve. Let me begin with a quote from Richard Hays:

    “In a mysterious way, Jesus has enacted our destiny, and those who are in Christ are shaped by the pattern of his self giving death. He is the prototype of redeemed humanity… ‘The faithfulness of Jesus Christ’ refers first of all to his gracious, self sacrificial death on the a cross… His fidelity to God is the pattern for the new life that he has inaugurated. The cross, as Christ’s saving action, is God’s action of pistis God’s demonstration of fidelity to the promise made to Abraham.”

    Hays is supporting his understanding of the ‘faith of Jesus’ as subjective genitive in the above. What I especially appreciate is the effort he makes to restore our understanding of faith to the only paradigm that it belongs to. Not a medieval/western paradigm but a semitic one. In a semitic paradigm, Messiah is faithful to the calling of His Father to be a light to the world, to jew and gentile alike, redeeming His creation and thereby breaking forth the Kingdom of God. It is through faith (1 Peter 1:5), meaning, through faithfulness that this takes place.

    Now, I am not a Catholic, so you won’t be getting the language of merit from me. However, here’s what I want you to see: it is a non sequitur to argue that if the the action of adding to one’s faith is non meritorious, it therefore cannot be the grounds or basis on which we shall be judged one day. That’s where the booboo is. Did not Christ Himself say:

    “10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do , should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. ’””

    Is this the language of merit? By no means. And yet the servants are judged on the basis of their actions:

    Matt 25:23

    23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness”

    and in Rev 3:21

    “21 To the one who is victorious , I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne”

    It is entirely consistent with the nature of the grace of God, that we should be held accountable for our stewardship of His grace without ever claiming any merit for such. This view is evident in 1 Peter itself. Let’s return to 1 Peter, chapter 4:

    “7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

    Is this covering of a multitude of sins meritorious? not on my understanding since it is Christ who gives the right to sit with Him. If He has decreed that our faithfulness to Him be the grounds on which He grants us the right to sit with Him, and this without us having any claims to merit, who are we to question? This love does what its says: it covers amultitude of sins and hence factors into the grounds on which we shall be judged. Skip a few verses down to vv. 16-17:

    “16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

    This is a very solemn and heavy passage which explicitly ties our willingness to suffer for the name to our salvation. For if it is hard for the righteous to be saved (v 18), what will become of the ungodly, an a fortiori argument with deep implications… (cf. Matt 22:14). This is precisely why he exhorts us to add the virtues to our faith. Faith which is mental assent to the existence of God, the deity of Christ, His Lordship and so on is not defective, but rather incomplete. It is made complete and perfected in the addition of the virtues through the faithfulness which arises out of submitting ourselves to the patterning that Hays describes.

  116. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote::

    Thanks for not answering the question.

    I did answer your question. I answered it by telling you that it’s absurd on the face. Or at the least, it’s absurd for anyone who believes that goodness and truth are inherent in the Natural Order. For those that don’t, I can see why the question isn’t absurd.

    The Church does occasionally speak to remind Natural Man of his human responsibilities (which he already knows). And She does occasionally speak when, imminently threatening to the Common Good, someone comes up with particularly novel ways to break the same-old Natural Law. However, if one doesn’t believe in the truth within oneself and has a scrupulous need for a nursemaid instead of a Mother, then I can see why this wouldn’t make any sense within one’s worldview.

  117. Robert, that’s a red herring. A mortal sin is a grave sin that is done with full knowledge and deliberate intent. An extreme example would be something like going on a sex cruise to Thailand. Does the Magisterium explicitly forbid sex cruises to Thailand? No, but neither does the Bible. But good thing we’re not idiots, as we both can pretty much figure out that when it comes to sex cruises, anything beyond two or three a year and it just becomes excessive.

  118. Robert, you said:

    “Sola fide means “faith alone in the biblical Christ.” And the biblical Christ demands perfection (Matt. 5:48), but I’ve yet to see a Roman Catholic actually deal with that passage well, for Christ makes the demands of God reflect His own character.”

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “faith alone in the biblical Christ”. Does that mean that you can only believe in the biblical Christ? Does it mean faith in the biblical Christ apart from works? You’d have to explain what you mean with your wording, as Protestantism tends to have diverse definitions.

    I’m not sure how that passage is difficult, considering the fact that it is a part of the Sermon on the Mount. Do you really believe that Jesus taught people all of those things, and then ends with saying “and you can’t do these things, because you need to be perfect, but I am so don’t worry”?!

    You’re absolutely right, the biblical Christ demands us to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. And we cannot do this on our own, for this is impossible. However, we know that with God, all things are possible. Therefore, Jason’s understanding of Spirit-wrought works fits far better with the biblical data with the Sermon on the Mount and with Matthew 5:48 than with your paradigm of “Perfect Law-Keeping/Penal Substitution”.

    Robert, you said:

    “And at least the Reformed would not say we cannot do good works. What they would say is that we cannot do works that are good enough to merit God’s declaration of righteousness and citizenship in His kingdom. Rome, on the other hand, says we will not receive God’s declaration of righteousness and citizenship in His kingdom until we cooperate with His grace and produce good works to merit our final standing before God.”

    First, you’re still running off of the assumption that the Church accepts the man-made tradition that God merely declares righteousness in an extrinsic manner, and not extrinsically and intrinsically giving righteousness to the believer through Christ. Second, I think that you should refrain from saying what Rome would say, and instead consider what Geneva is saying in comparison to what Rome *actually * says. Rome says:

    1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high.
    “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39

    1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

    1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

    1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:40

    Throughout the above 4 paragraphs, it continually and consistently says that it is God (through His Grace, per Ephesians 2:8) who has given us righteousness and citizenship in His Kingdom through adopting us as His sons and daughters. If the above paragraphs are in any way unclear in completely contradicting your understanding of “what Rome says”, let me know how I can help further.

    Robert, you said:

    “That scheme of salvation is really not all that different from Islam, which is why it is completely understandable that your church has extended salvation to Muslims. Talk as much about Christ working in you as you want, but if people who repudiate the incarnation and the Trinity can be saved, it is really not clear at all that Christ needs to do anything. Like every other non-biblical system, the standard for salvation in Rome is ‘good enough.'”

    As proven in the previous paragraph, the understanding of Salvation in the Catholic Church is entirely separate from Islam. Again, your reference to Islam is based on misunderstanding (or ignoring) what the Church teaches and why the Church teaches what it does. The paragraph referring to Muslims does not refer to those who are fully aware of what the Gospel is and who Jesus is, it is referring to those Muslims who do not know Christ and have been kept from knowing Christ through what they have been taught in Islam.

    I think you keep seeing things in the same way of Old Adam; namely, Christ is powerless. He is only restrained to this Penal Substitution concept, He cannot save in any other way. The biblical Church has taught and still teaches that Christ has and still does save men through His Cross, as noted above. Again, instead of speaking for Rome with your misconceptions, perhaps you should actually read what the Church teaches on salvation, which is that the standard for salvation *is * perfection; the perfection of Christ’s work within us, from the Holy Spirit.

  119. Robert,

    Sure God demands perfection, but that can be spoken of in quantitative or qualitative terms. Rome takes it in qualitative terms. Those who have a measure of justice are to that extant qualitatively complete. And this is just how the Augustinian tradition views it.

    Your gloss on Rome saying that we do not receive God’s declaration of righteousness until we co-operate with grace is actually not Rome’s position. What Rome does say is that the declaration of justified both initially and consequently first has its ultimate ground in grace, not co-operation, that is, it is of condign grace, not congruous grace. And second, that this grace is grounded in the agent from beginning to end. So your gloss would be appropriate to a semi-Pelagian view where someone does something good to acquire grace, but that Is not Rome’s position or pretty much anyone else’s, save semi-Pelagians. In sum, you seem to be creating a strawman and arguing against Augustine’s position since Augustine didn’t believe in sola fide either, but rather pretty much what Trent has put on the table.

    Rome actually hasn’t extended salvation to Muslims. What it has said is basically what Lewis says in His Last Battle, people can be receipients of grace without knowing it due to impediments. While this is possible Rome says nothing as to how widespread it is.

    As far as repudiating the Trinity and incarnation, well this depends on how far down the rabbit hole we go doesn’t it? I mean do you think there is some generic doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation with which we all agree? Would that be the Trinity with or without the Filioque? Would it be the incarnation with an exchange of names or energies? From where I am standing the Reformed don’t qualify.

    Of course, I don’t have a dog in the fight since I am not Catholic or Protestant, but your gloss on Rome’s view seems like a strawman for the reasons I stated. I’d recommend picking up Newman’s Lectures on Justification.

  120. All sin is “mortal sin”.

    “The wages of sin is death.”

  121. Robert,

    This is what I don’t get. You say God demands perfection from us which can not be achieved. The bible says with God all things are possible. God does not asks us to do anything we can’t do with his grace. In Mathew 5:48 He is demanding perfection here and now. He gave us all the tools to be perfect (not pretend perfect) Your solution implies that God pretends we are perfect and all is well. Since this can not be, it would seem you are not utilizing all the tools He provided us.

  122. CK,

    You are essentially saying that for Protestants, justification is a legal fiction. Not true. God sees me as righteous, not because of what I have done but what Christ has done. Furthermore, no one is justified without also being sanctified. Once justified, we will serve the Lord, not perfectly but in a blameless manner. But blamelessness is not enough to get us into heaven, which is why David in the Psalms can both appeal to His own blamelessness and despair of anyone being righteous in the sight of God.

  123. Old Adam,

    “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.” (1 John 5:17)

    See? I can play the “throw out verses to prove a point” game too. Except mine happens to challenge your interpretation of the verse.

  124. Perry,

    As I am sure you are aware, their is a vast difference between the Roman Catholic view of grace and the Reformed view of grace. That is due to a difference in our view of the fall of man. I am aware that Rome affirms the need of grace, but it is a different grace than the biblical view of grace. God makes us alive together with Christ (Gal. 2:1–10), and Christ will never die again. Since Rome has us slipping in and out of a state of salvation, Roman grace does not have the resurrecting power of Christ.

    Except perhaps for those who die right after baptism, Rome will not extend justification unless by your Spirit-wrought works you have increased the justification implanted at baptism. Our merit, mixed with Christ’s, becomes a necessary ground before the pronouncement of final justification. If my justification is based even partly on my works, it is not by grace. Again, I say this because Protestantism understands grace differently than does Rome.

    As far as Augustine, I affirm wholeheartedly that he was not a Protestant. I affirm wholeheartedly as well that he was not Roman Catholic. He was Augustine.

    Lumen Gentium 16: But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life.

    I understand that Rome at times sounds like Lewis, not that I would agree with Lewis either. But how can one conclude that Rome has not extended salvation to Muslims if, in fact, Rome says they adore the one merciful God. They deny the Trinity. They deny that God has a Son. They deny that Christ is His final revelation. They don’t worship the one and same merciful God confessed in the Christian tradition, no matter which branch you follow.

    As for the Trinity and incarnation, well, I could say that from my perspective the EO don’t exactly qualify, though they are closer to Scripture than Rome. This would not be because of the filioque, since there are all manner of questions related to this, but more so the whole idea of the exchange of energies since that seems to introduce a further separateness between us and God. But that is a discussion for another time.

  125. Chris,

    You and I have very different understandings of grace. For you grace is insufficient but necessary. For me, grace is both sufficient and necessary. As far as for Christ and the Cross being powerless to save, that is exactly what Rome denies. How else could you attend mass everyday and yet still possibly die in mortal sin? Christ makes salvation possible in Roman Catholicism. The Bible says Christ makes salvation actual.

    Ephesians 2:8–9 explicitly denies that salvation is by works but is by grace. It is one of the clearest prohibitions of the Roman gospel anywhere in Scripture. “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves but it is the gift of God.” If God’s grace does not guarantee that I will come to faith and persevere in it, then salvation is of my own will, it is of myself working up cooperation with the Lord. Two people can receive the exact same grace in Roman Catholicism and yet only one may finally be saved. Why is only that one person saved if salvation is not of ourselves but wholly the gift of God?

    I know what Rome says about grace. I deny that Roman grace is biblical grace. Roman grace is not free but dispensed through the church. Roman grace makes salvation possible, not actual. Roman grace says God cannot save a person until that person cooperates with said grace. I say that grace actually resurrects people so that they will never die again. Rome cannot say with Paul that we have been raised with Christ, for Rome says we can die again.

  126. Robert, you said this:

    “You and I have very different understandings of grace. For you grace is insufficient but necessary. For me, grace is both sufficient and necessary. As far as for Christ and the Cross being powerless to save, that is exactly what Rome denies. How else could you attend mass everyday and yet still possibly die in mortal sin? Christ makes salvation possible in Roman Catholicism. The Bible says Christ makes salvation actual.“

    Why do you think that I believe that grace is insufficient but necessary? Clearly you actually haven’t read Church documents on the necessity of grace. If you want proof of that, the Church through her Saints has bore the fruit spoken of by Christ. That’s grace working in the children of God.

    You’re right, we do deny that Christ and the cross is powerless to save. We affirm that it CAN save, therefore we deny that it can’t. You’ve simply agreed with me.

    I can do that the same way an entire “church” can go to hell in Protestantism, except one member won’t because he was of the elect. Robert, you say this while holding to the doctrine that of Perseverance of the Saints, which is dependent on if someone remains producing fruit. The moment they fall away, they never existed in the first place, according to your theology. In Catholicism, Christ makes salvation and repentance both possible and actual. In Geneva, Christ makes salvation actual only for those who have died. For everyone else, they can only be sure as long as they keep believing. The moment they don’t, their entire identity is gone, based on your theology.

    Robert, you said this:

    “Ephesians 2:8–9 explicitly denies that salvation is by works but is by grace. It is one of the clearest prohibitions of the Roman gospel anywhere in Scripture. “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves but it is the gift of God.” If God’s grace does not guarantee that I will come to faith and persevere in it, then salvation is of my own will, it is of myself working up cooperation with the Lord. Two people can receive the exact same grace in Roman Catholicism and yet only one may finally be saved. Why is only that one person saved if salvation is not of ourselves but wholly the gift of God?”

    You do realize that by this same logic, the Gospel and the Word of God’s power is based upon your own will. Note clearly that two men can equally hear the Genevan Gospel of Penal Substitution, and it’s equally possible that only one of them may be saved. They can hear the Gospel, they can hear the Word of God, both of which are considered efficacious, yet by your logic both are rendered subject to the will of men, and the Word of God is as equally powerful as the grace you refer to in Catholicism. Salvation is a gift, I agree. And guess what people can do with gifts? They can return them back to the store. The only issue is that those who return gifts don’t get a refund. The one person is only saved because they did not accept the Gospel, just as Jesus has said.

    I have to point out that we can easily fit Ephesians 2 with our paradigm the same way you can fit James 2 (which is one of the clearest denials of the Genevan Gospel anywhere in Scripture). “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Do you still have issue with the whole point of what Jason has been saying? We can take these anomalytic passages and fit them into our paradigms. We’re not interpreting Scripture objectively. The question is whose paradigm makes better sense of the Scriptural evidence. When you keep having Jesus say things like Matthew 25:31-46, or when you have Paul point out that people who practice evil works shall enter into hell, but those who practice good works shall enter into eternal life in Romans 2:6-8, your paradigm becomes much more flimsy.

    Robert, you said this:
    “I know what Rome says about grace. I deny that Roman grace is biblical grace. Roman grace is not free but dispensed through the church. Roman grace makes salvation possible, not actual. Roman grace says God cannot save a person until that person cooperates with said grace. I say that grace actually resurrects people so that they will never die again. Rome cannot say with Paul that we have been raised with Christ, for Rome says we can die again.”

    Can you tell me what we believe grace is in the Church? By your definition, “biblical grace” is not free but is dispensed through Protestantism. Except you would say that it comes from God, which is given through faith/the Scripture/whatever Sacraments you hold, I’m not sure what denomination you are (as you are aware, each denomination differs on the efficacy of the Sacraments and their relation to grace). As noted in my previous comment, the only way someone can be saved is from grace which is a precursor to their choice. A person couldn’t co-operate with God’s grace if it wasn’t for grace in the first place.

    Except there is no single statement with Paul that “grace resurrects people so that they will never die again”, insomuch as you refer to assurance/perseverance. What Paul does say is that we have been set free by Christ, therefore *do not submit yourself again to a yoke of slavery . How could someone possibly submit themselves to a yoke of slavery (the Mosaic Law) if they are regenerated, if they are free? Furthermore, Paul says clearly in Romans 11:20-23:

    “That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”

    These are not the words of someone who accepts assurance/perseverance, these are the words of someone who recognizes the power of grace and the necessity of abiding in Christ through following his commandments, just as Jesus says in John 15:10. These are just a few more paragraphs that you absolutely cannot fit into your paradigm naturally; the Catholic paradigm essentially fits the data far more.

  127. Pardon me, in my first paragraph that addresses your second comment, I made a Freudian slip. I meant to write “the person is only *not* saved because they didn’t accept the Gospel”, not what is written above. My apologies.

  128. Robert,
    The perseverance issue obviously looms large for you, and I can say honestly that it did for me as well in the transition from Reformed to Catholic. I always thought of perseverance as a comforting doctrine and I attributed instances in my life where God kept me from myself, so to speak, as examples of that doctrine in action. However, the reality is that even when Reformed, I knew that I had the power to choose right from wrong. I believe God helped me in removing me from situations where spiritual danger lurked and at times put in my own heart to remove myself from such situations. But nevertheless, *I* had to act and because of that, the possibility was always there that I would choose to go against God’s grace. The only sure way for me to know I was “elect” was to wait until I died and find that I persevered. Perseverance then (I almost hate to say it) is an abstraction but doesn’t change the practical reality that it’s up to us to choose right from wrong every day.

    Practically speaking, even while Reformed, I intrinsically realized that even though I thought of myself as ‘elect’, I *could* fall away.. In Catholicism, practically speaking, I have no less assurance about my salvation because I still believe as firmly as ever that God will give every grace possible to keep me on the right path. Catholicism simply acknowledges the will of the believer as still having the ability to fall. Reformed theology just says one wasn’t saved to begin with. Practically speaking in other words, even though I still miss the comfort of the abstract doctrine of “perseverance,” I don’t actually perceive the situation for me now to be all that different and certainly not a stumbling block in embracing the Catholic church.

    Peace,
    Jeff

  129. JeffB,

    What you wrote in your comment above is much of the same reason why I don’t hold to a Reformed understanding of perseverance. The only way to really know if I’m elect is to see whether or not I’ll keep confessing Christ or deny him on my deathbed. If it turns out that I deny him in the last moments of my life, then I was never really with him and all the acts of love I thought I was doing in his name turned out to be fabrications.

    However, when you wrote this …

    “Perseverance then (I almost hate to say it) is an abstraction but doesn’t change the practical reality that it’s up to us to choose right from wrong every day.”

    … I’m not entirely sure I agree with you here. If the Reformed believe that God will ultimately keep them from falling away, then couldn’t that encourage them to keep pursuing Christ and fighting sin?

  130. Hi Justin,
    I don’t mean at all to make light of the doctrine or come off presenting it as useless. My point was more to emphasize that in everyday living, the Reformed and Catholic both strive to do what is right and both (within their respective paradigms) can share a reasonable degree of assurance about being in a state of grace. There are some very deep and well spoken ideas going on in this thread (and others) but my comment in contrast was meant to be more about personal insight and experience since the perseverance issue seemed to be such a stumbling block to certain commenters.

    Peace,
    Jeff

  131. Chris,

    Romans 6:4–5: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

    Ephesians 2:4–7: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

    Sounds like Christians share in Christ’s resurrection, doesn’t it?

    And the Westminsterian view of covenant and baptism is sufficiently robust to account for John 15.

    With the Reformed tradition, I would affirm the sovereignty of God’s grace, that in regeneration grace is not received by faith. Rather, the Holy Spirit sovereignly changes the hearts of the elect, guaranteeing they will have faith. Grace makes faith actual, not merely potential. I would also affirm that while regeneration is monergistic, perseverance is synergistic. God gives us a role in persevering to the end, so yes, we must abide in Christ. It is by abiding in Christ that we persevere to the end. But ultimately, all those who have been regenerated persevere because God gives them a true, living heart whose natural disposition is to believe in the Lord, a disposition that cannot be destroyed fully and finally. That’s part of Christ’s resurrection power. In Roman Catholicism, a regenerate person can die again. If that is the case, you have not been raised with Christ.

    I am an enthusiastic Protestant and Reformed by choice. That means I believe grace is necessary and sufficient in that all those upon whom God bestows saving grace will persevere. His sovereign salvific grace guarantees that. Rome affirms the necessity of grace, but denies its sufficiency. Grace in your system does not guarantee perseverance. It must be completed by works, or at least by the decision to choose or deny Christ. I believe one must choose or believe in Christ for salvation, I just believe that such a choice is always made by those to whom God has given salvific grace.

    In other words, I don’t believe God gives salvific grace to everyone, even everyone who has been baptized. Rome says otherwise.

  132. For any who are seeking a good explanation of the difference between the way Catholics might resolve their theological differences and the way Protestants might, this article illustrates it nicely. While it is particularly addressing our differing approaches to the Church fathers, it shines a light on a broader issue.

    It is written from a formerly reformed pastor. I, myself, am a former PCA member, and found it useful.

  133. Chris,

    “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.” (1 John 5:17)

    See? I can play the “throw out verses to prove a point” game too. Except mine happens to challenge your interpretation of the verse.

    OK, friend.

    You just hang onto your ‘goodness’.

    I hope it takes you where you want to go.

  134. JeffB–

    You said:

    “I always thought of perseverance as a comforting doctrine, and I attributed instances in my life where God kept me from myself, so to speak, as examples of that doctrine in action. However, the reality is that even when Reformed, I knew that I had the power to choose right from wrong. I believe God helped me in removing me from situations where spiritual danger lurked and at times put in my own heart to remove myself from such situations. But nevertheless, *I* had to act and because of that, the possibility was always there that I would choose to go against God’s grace. The only sure way for me to know I was “elect” was to wait until I died and find that I persevered. Perseverance then (I almost hate to say it) is an abstraction but doesn’t change the practical reality that it’s up to us to choose right from wrong every day. Practically speaking, even while Reformed, I intrinsically realized that even though I thought of myself as ‘elect’, I *could* fall away.”

    Well, speaking as a currently Reformed believer, I intrinsically realize that I only consider myself elect because I fully know that I cannot possibly fall away. Christ must do it all, and Christ will do it all. I have that confidence. It is not self-confidence, but confidence in Christ’s faithfulness which he has made abundantly clear to me. Your confidence in Christ’s faithfulness comes through the church. Unnecessary, but acceptable, as long as you consequently trust fully in Christ’s faithfulness and not your own (or the church’s).

    Could I be mistaken? Surely. I could be psychotic or playing mind games with myself. As I have said before on this blog, we Reformed have assurance but not presumption. That is why we can relate so strongly to this passage from 2 Peter to make our calling and election sure…and if we strive to do so, we cannot fall. Calvinists absolutely adore this message. I have a really hard time seeing how it could be used against us.

    Perseverance is to me the focus of TULIP, and the very heart of the Gospel. It is the declaration of the faithfulness of Christ. It displays the purity of grace. It is straight out love.

  135. Eric,

    Well said, indeed.

    Ultimately, to deny perseverance is to deny God saves His people from their sin. It is to affirm that Christ has not done enough to save us. It denies His sufficiency as Savior. If a true believer can fall away, then Christ may have done 99% of what was necessary, but we must do the other 1%. It is to deny that salvation is wholly from the Lord.

  136. Ha ha, that is the raddest example of letting devotion to a prior-held theological axiom run completely roughshod over the clear statements of the NT with respect to apostasy ever.

  137. Ultimately, to deny perseverance is to deny God saves His people from their sin. It is to affirm that Christ has not done enough to save us. It denies His sufficiency as Savior. If a true believer can fall away, then Christ may have done 99% of what was necessary, but we must do the other 1%. It is to deny that salvation is wholly from the Lord.

    Was God insufficient as Savior when after being delivered from Pharaoh and having crossed the Red Sea, most of the Hebrews perished in the desert?

  138. Robert,
    Your comments regarding perseverance are throwing Lutherans under the Reformed bus, too. I’d love to hear a response from any Lutherans on here (Adam?) to your systematically (not textually) driven conclusions regarding the necessity of regeneration resulting in perseverance.

  139. Shawn,

    Inconsistent Protestants aren’t trying to add their works to what Christ has done, they’re just being inconsistent. Roman Catholicism has anathematized all those who say justification is by faith alone. Big difference.

  140. SS,

    Ah, but assuming that all those who died in the desert went to hell, did God intend to save all of them? Even you with your middle knowledge must say the answer is no, or at least that He put a greater premium on their libertarian freedom than He did in guaranteeing their salvation.

    So yes, God is a perfect Savior and saves all of those that He has intended to save from eternity past.

  141. Jason,

    The real example of a theologically-driven paradigm has to invent terms such as “condign merit” and “congruent merit” to get around Paul’s simple statement that if salvation is by our own works, it is no longer by grace. It has to come up with concepts such as initial justification to get around statements that those who are justified have peace with God and not a cease fire. It has to exalt Mary to co-redemptrix, invent a sacramental priesthood, pretend that the bishop of Rome was always the leader of the church, build up a treasury of merit, and much more.

  142. Not sure how Lutherans take to being called inconsistent by the Reformed. But you really have to ask yourself: Inconsistent how? With a systematic theology or with the text of Scripture? Big difference.

  143. Ah, but assuming that all those who died in the desert went to hell, did God intend to save all of them? Even you with your middle knowledge must say the answer is no, or at least that He put a greater premium on their libertarian freedom than He did in guaranteeing their salvation.

    So yes, God is a perfect Savior and saves all of those that He has intended to save from eternity past.

    God delivered all of them from Pharoah’s hand, so you cannot argue that He did not intend to save all of them (cf. Heb 3:16)

    12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:

    “Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
    as you did in the rebellion.”

    “16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.”

    The fact that many were called out of Egypt and yet few chosen in the end to enter into His rest does not diminish the Father in any way. And likewise, apostasy in the New Covenant does not diminish the saving power of the Son either.

  144. Robert, Shawn,

    We Lutherans have to leave open the possibility that we can believers can lose our faith. And be lost. The Scriptures leave open that possibility. jesus said to “guard yourselves against drunkenness and the worries of the day, lest you lose yourselves. Truth is, we wander off all the time. But He comes after us. How far would we have to go before He let us go? Hopefully, very far.

    But, on the other hand, we take great comfort from other verses such as “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and “I have not lost any that the Father has given me”.

    We never want to take our salvation for granted. We want to let God be God. he, after all, can certainly do as He pleases. We never want to look at all of this as a business deal, as do some Christians.

  145. SS,

    Heb. 10:14: For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

    If I am truly being sanctified now, Christ has already perfected me. And I prove that by heeding Hebrews’ warnings and persevering.

    You must say that if you are truly being sanctified now, then Christ has not already perfected you. His one offering was insufficient to perfect you, it is up to you by your own libertarian free will to keep yourself in the faith. Christ is author and finisher of my faith. He is the author of yours, maybe, and you are the finisher.

  146. TOA,

    I actually grew up in the Lutheran church, so I have high respect for the Lutheran tradition. But I have to say on this point, Lutherans are being inconsistent when they say Christ does it all but that the truly regenerate can fall away. Rome is consistent with itself, for if Christ hasn’t done it all, it makes sense that they deny perseverance.

  147. Jason–

    Paradigm-driven exegesis is in the eye of the interpreter. Your interpretation appears to us to run just as roughshod over this text, as well as the biblical text as a whole. Systematic theology springs from biblical theology as you well know. You can say we haven’t done our homework, I suppose, but you cannot go around claiming our interpretation comes anywhere but straight from Scripture without, as you are wont to call it, begging the question. How about an argument once in a while instead of all your blame assertions as to our lack of biblicity. You know good and well that any such arguments will end up in the equivalent of a tic-tac-toe “cat” game.

  148. Heb 10:14 speaks of the role played by Christ’s sacrifice (one offering) and links it to those who are persevering in sanctification. It does not speak to those who fall away, who by definition, abandon their sanctification.

    Only a few verses later, the same author to Hebrews warns the brethren:

    “26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left , 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

    “28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them , and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

    v 29 speaks of those who have been sanctified and turn away from that sanctification. This eventually gives rise to this statement:

    “14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord .”

  149. Robert,

    We understand how you feel. But Scripture certainly seems to allow for it. Some of the chosen Jews were allowed to go.

    We don’t focus on that. But we do believe that faith can be lost. Like the prodigal…God does allow us to leave. But He certainly has a way of coming after us…again and again and again.

  150. These verses (there are more that I could site) certainly seem to allow the possibility that someone could lose their faith and that God would let them go:

    Heb. 2:1-3; 3:12-19; 6:4-8

  151. This is only a page and it’s pretty good (‘eternal security’).

    It does present some of the other side of the argument. But it gives another perspective. Looking at the seemingly contradictory verses in light of the Old Sinner (Old Adam)…and the New Man…in Christ.

    http://www.orlutheran.com/html/once.html

    I think it’s a worthwhile read.

  152. Steve–

    I have some respect for where you Lutherans are coming from…though in the end I cannot agree. Christ cannot both never leave nor forsake us and then go ahead and leave and forsake us when we stray just a tad too far.

    We speak with such different words concerning apparent believers who apostatize. Both Lutherans and Catholics believe they may have been legitimately regenerate, whereas the Reformed definitely say no.

    It all depends on how we look at it. Most historical reports of Titanic survivors list the approximately 710 who made it back to home and safety. Technically, I suppose, the hundreds who tread the frigid ocean water for as many agonizing moments as they could after the mighty ship slipped beneath the waves could be said to have temporarily “survived.” Most of them might as well have been dead. The life boats only hauled in 13 of them despite room for hundreds more.

    Are some of these apparent believers genuinely “enlightened” or even “regenerate”? Do they participate in some sense in the divine life of the corporate body of Christ? What difference does it really make? They are not saved in any significant sense (any more than the temporary “survivors” of the Titanic would be termed “saved”).

    Of course, if one truly cannot ascertain which group oneself is a member of, then Reformed soteriology might as well be equated with the basically Arminian systems of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and the Radical Reformation. If “making one’s calling and election sure” means finding a way to stay in God’s good graces through sacrament and works, then Jason and his cohorts have carried the day. But that’s not how I read Scripture. That’s not how I read Augustine. And that’s not how I have experienced the wondrous grace of Christ.

  153. Eric,

    I sympathize with your thought on this matter.

    But Scripture clearly says in many place that believers have turned apostate.

    St. Paul tells the Galatians that they started out great…faith in Christ. But then started to rely upon works of the law. Therefore they risk “severing themselves from Christ.”

    One cannot sever one’s self from something that one was never bonded to in the first place.

    __

    It’s a tough one. We believe in the blessed assurance of our Lord…but we never want to take it all for granted…and we cannot ignore the Holy Word of God on the matter, as well.

  154. +JMJ+

    Reformist: “That can’t be true because it would ruin our systematics, rob God of glory, and allow Catholics to carry the day.”

    Lutheran: “But the Scriptures say ‘X’.”

    Catholic: “Aye. And BTW, the Scriptures also say ‘Y’.”

    Lutheran: “You just keep believing in your own ‘goodness’, and see where it gets you.”

    What’s wrong with this picture? My spidey-sense™ tells me that Total Depravity, that common doctrine of the mainline Protestantism triumvirate (Presbyterian/Lutheran/Methodist), is the prime suspect.

  155. Wosbald,

    Us Lutren types are NOT total depravity, either.

    We know that the human type being is capable of a lot of good, as well as a lot of rot.

    We believe that we are mixed bags. But we are NOT “free-will”er’s.

    We believe that when it comes to choosing the things of God, we have already made our choice. And He ain’t it.

    But He has decided for us. (for some crazy reason – maybe He really does love us)

  156. +JMJ+
    The Old Adam wrote:

    Us Lutren types are NOT total depravity, either… We know that the human type being is capable of a lot of good, as well as a lot of rot… We believe that when it comes to choosing the things of God, we have already made our choice. And He ain’t it.

    That pretty much seems the fundament of the classic TD position, right there. At the very least, I’d say that it stems from the exact same doctrine… Man is capable of a “natural” good, but, supernaturally speaking, he is intrinsically opposite the things of God.

  157. Wosbald,

    What’s TD? (pardon my ignorance)

  158. Off to the sulphur mines…yet again.

    Be back in 10 hours.

    Phooey.

  159. +JMJ+

    The Old Adam wrote:

    Wosbald,
    What’s TD? (pardon my ignorance)

    Total Depravity.

  160. Sorry, SS,

    The verb translated “perfected” in Heb. 10:14: teleioo is in the perfect tense, past action with an ongoing effect in the present. The verb translated “sanctified” is hagiazo is a passive participle. We could easily translate the verse: “For by one sacrifice he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified [by Him]”

    The perfection was accomplished for all time. If it can be lost, it wasn’t perfected for all time. It was potentially perfected for all time. But the verse does not say that. Perfect tense, ongoing passive participle. Christ has perfected forever those whom He is truly sanctifying right now.

    If those who are truly being sanctified can lose it, then Christ is not sanctifying us. We are the ones who ultimately keep ourselves in the grace of God. That means Christ is insufficient to save us. He only saves those who by their own libertarian choice want to be saved. That is a good thing. That denies a real need for grace, at least a grace that transforms us instead of boosting our natural goodness or inclination to make the right choice.

    There are passages in the Bible that on a first, cursory reading seem to indicate that one can be truly regenerate and then fall away fully and finally. There are passages in the Bible that on a first, cursory reading seem to indicate that the truly regenerate will never fall away. Your paradigm cannot explain the second category of passage:

    Rom. 8:28–30: We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    You end up having people predestined who aren’t glorified. What in the world, then, were they predestined to in light of this passage?

    But if regeneration is monergistic and permanent and perseverance is, in at least some sense, synergistic, I can easily account for both kinds of passages. If it is possible to be so closely related to Christ by virtue of being part of His visible church that one can share in a certain amount of the overflow of grace He shows to His elect, it is easy to account for passages such as John 15. It’s easy to account for much of the book of Hebrews as well, even more so since we know the apostles were not omniscient.

    Add in passages such as 1 John 2 —“they went out from us because they were not of us”— and Matthew 7 — “I never knew you” and it just all falls into place.

    God will not share his glory with another. If, in the final analysis, my decision is the overriding factor that keeps me in grace—which it must be in your understanding of salvation and the Romanist view as well because it can be lost—then salvation is not wholly of the Lord. He ends up sharing his glory with another (Isa. 42:8; 48:11).

    God does His best, but it is up to us to complete the circle. That is a view of salvation that takes glory from God and is not all that different from all other religions that don’t even care about the Bible at all.

  161. Steve–

    You said:

    “We believe that when it comes to choosing the things of God, we have already made our choice. And He ain’t it.”

    Total Depravity means that every aspect of our being is tainted, so that we cannot make the choice to follow God on our own. It doesn’t mean that we are not a mixed bag of good and bad. Just that our good is never good enough. We cannot rely on ourselves.

  162. Wosbald–

    Reformed systematics is our best effort at ascertaining the meaning of the whole of Scripture. We don’t willy-nilly come up with a system and then try to cram verses into it. We attempt to make sense of every passage in relation to every other passage. We don’t have an agenda, and we are certainly not trying simply to be contrary to Catholic interpretation. As hard as it might be for you to grasp, we read these passages in a thoroughly straightforward manner, but come to conclusions different from yours.

  163. Steve–

    You most certainly can sever yourself from something you were never committed to in the first place!

    It may indeed be true that “believers” can become apostate, but the truly regenerate cannot. Yes, Galatians 5:4 says that one who turns to relying on works of the law, specifically circumcision, will be severed from Christ. But just six verses later, Paul states: “I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is.”

    In other words, he has complete confidence that these genuine believers WILL NOT fall away.

  164. The perfection was accomplished for all time. If it can be lost, it wasn’t perfected for all time. It was potentially perfected for all time. But the verse does not say that. Perfect tense, ongoing passive participle. Christ has perfected forever those whom He is truly sanctifying right now.

    Once again, this is exhibit A in the role that assumptions and paradigms play in one’s reading. Under the proper Hebrew paradigm, there is a certain amount of tension that runs through Scripture, beginning with the Tanakh and through to the Prophets. The law in Deuteronomy is replete with the conditions for blessing, obedience resulting in blessing and disobedience removing that blessing. And yet the Prophets and Moses speak of the elect of Israel, and how all Israel will be saved, a promise echoed by Paul in Romans 11. There’s great mystery and paradox involved in the plan and Word of God. That is why the authors to the Hebrews, most surely a Jew himself, can say with no qualms just a few verses later and following on the heels of v 14, that there remains no sacrifice left for those who who treat as an unholy thing the blood that sanctified them. There is that tension again, which is natural to the Jew and feels so unnatural and illogical to the greek/western mind.

    The ‘forever’ in Heb 10:14

    “14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

    arises out of the author’s desire (and theme throughout the epistle) to contrast the superiority of the New Covenant sacrifice with the old sacrifices, which could not mature the faithful forever, let alone in their own generation. It is not inserted there to provide an argument for calvinists and the p in the tulip… As a corollary, no Hebrew would read this:

    “29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them , and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

    and say that those who were sanctified by the blood of the covenant weren’t really sanctified. This would be a completely unnatural reading to a first century jew or believer.

    Not to mention that the reality of apostasy has already been made clear long before chapter 10, in chapter 6:

    ” It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit , 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away , to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

  165. Steve–

    I should add: we Reformed clearly see the same passages you see. We don’t in any sense ignore the warnings against apostasy. We, like you, counsel against presumption. But we believe the Reformed paradigm more thoroughly accounts for the “blessed assurance” we both hold so dear.

  166. To all in general–

    When we Reformed say that someone who apostatizes was never truly Christian, we do not necessarily mean that they were duplicitous or half-hearted.

    Richard Burton–the British explorer, not the actor–became fluent in Arabic and flawless in Muslim custom and ritual. He successfully went to Mecca on hajj [pilgrimage] even though he likely would have been killed had he been found out. (Non-Muslims are not allowed within the confines of the holiest city of Islam.) He was, nonetheless, in no way, shape, or form a Muslim.

    Those who are not genuinely Christian may, in fact, share aspects of faith with the faithful. After all, demons truly believe in Christ…though they shudder at the thought. Clearly then, some may genuinely believe and enthusiastically attach themselves to the church. They may have maudlin feelings of regret for their sin and passionate emotions of welcome inclusion from and for the brethren. They may become in many ways enlightened, made wise under the teaching of the fellowship. They may engage in ministry and partake of the benefits of the community.

    What we are saying is that they have never been truly born again. They are not, in actuality, united to Christ. And we know this because they do not both hear the voice of the shepherd and stick like glue to his side. They stray off after other desires and temptations or fall away from fear or worry or faithlessness (and they are never dragged back kicking and screaming).

    According to this thinking, a marine who is validly given a dishonorable discharge was never a true marine in the first place. He cannot square his shoulders and shout out, “Semper fi!” He cannot enjoy the camaraderie of the band of brothers. He is not one of the few, the proud. He was around marines and did what marines did, but he showed his true colors in the end. (And even if of Scottish heritage, he was probably not a “true Scotsman” 🙂 )

  167. +JMJ+

    Eric wroteL

    Wosbald–
    Reformed systematics is our best effort at ascertaining the meaning of the whole of Scripture. We don’t willy-nilly come up with a system and then try to cram verses into it. We attempt to make sense of every passage in relation to every other passage. We don’t have an agenda, and we are certainly not trying simply to be contrary to Catholic interpretation. As hard as it might be for you to grasp, we read these passages in a thoroughly straightforward manner, but come to conclusions different from yours.

    It’s not hard for me to grasp. I get it. But like I’ve said before, my dismissal of Total Depravity is prior to any sort of appeal to a Public Divine Revelation. It’s a preeminently Natural dismissal.

  168. SS–

    How can you presume to know the “proper Hebrew paradigm” for Paul? Have you read any Talmud? There is never, ever ONE paradigm. Judaism builds consensus through disparate thought. There is a common saying that whenever you have two rabbis in a room, you have three opinions.

    It appears to me that “exhibit A in the role that assumptions and paradigms play in one’s reading” belongs more quintessentially to your own interpretations.

  169. How can you presume to know the “proper Hebrew paradigm” for Paul? Have you read any Talmud? There is never, ever ONE paradigm. Judaism builds consensus through disparate thought. There is a common saying that whenever you have two rabbis in a room, you have three opinions.

    What do you know of what I have read or not read? Why do you presume that I haven’t? The Jewish paradigm is a meta-paradigm, yes. And across that entire meta-paradigm jewish thought, no matter what the form it takes, clashes over and over again, and loudly so, with the Reformed paradigm, whether you like it or not. This whether one is reading Mishnah, Tanakh, Torah, Talmud, Qumran and so on.

  170. And by the way Eric, start by reading your own people’s books with a little more integrity. I am referencing your earlier claims to Calvin referencing the Apostolic Fathers in the Institutes. I couldn’t believe the nonsense you put on that, it still boggles my mind.

  171. Wosbald–

    Many Thomists accept the nomenclature of “total depravity,” meaning (along with the Reformed) that we cannot come to God all on our own but are in need of grace to do so. Catholic apologist Jimmy Akins is famous (or infamous, as the case may be) for analyzing TULIP in just this fashion. I have seen other Thomists do so, as well. Of course, Catholics see us as sick in our sin and in need of assistance. The Reformed see us as dead in our sins and in need of life.

    John Wesley and Jacob Arminius both ascribed to Total Depravity though taking the soft, Catholic approach of sickness rather than death.

    So, your version of Total Depravity may be inadequate, but it is Total Depravity nonetheless. The denial of Total Depravity is tantamount to Pelagianism, and thus not within orthodoxy. Many Charismatics, as well as faithful followers of brother Charles Finney, deny Total Depravity. Are you sure you wish to be agreeing with them rather than us?

  172. SS–

    Yes, and Paul is clearly clashing with that meta-paradigm! So if you wish to align yourself with the Synagogue of Satan, go ahead. But don’t call it the “proper paradigm” for interpreting Paul!

    Sure, Jewish thought for ever so long has been basically Pelagian. They have completely turned their backs on God (according to your precious ECF’s). Augustine saw the destruction and continued ruin of the Jewish temple as both a proper discipline on the stiff-necked chosen people and a display of God’s favor upon Gentiles. Jerome and Chrysostom were far more forthright than that. Why should we model our hermeneutics after that of a rebellious people? Doesn’t it stand to reason that their interpretation is skewed? Do you interpret Isaiah 53 according to Jewish thought and see the “suffering servant” as the people of Israel?

    In what way did I lack integrity concerning Calvin’s quoting of the AF’s? First off, I saw it as basically irrelevant. Still do. Second, I never said he quoted them extensively. Obviously he did not. Lastly, I quoted the (liberal Protestant) editor of Calvin’s Institutes who listed Calvin’s allusions to the AF’s. So this was the editor, not me. Does he also lack integrity in your book? Does anyone who dares to disagree with you lack integrity?

  173. Yes, and Paul is clearly clashing with that meta-paradigm! So if you wish to align yourself with the Synagogue of Satan, go ahead. But don’t call it the “proper paradigm” for interpreting Paul!

    That Paul clashes with the Jews does not obviate the fact that Reformed beliefs clash spectacularly with the beliefs of Jewish believers in Christ. Do you wish to call the latter a synagogue of satan as well?

    Sure, Jewish thought for ever so long has been basically Pelagian. They have completely turned their backs on God (according to your precious ECF’s).

    Read Justification and Variegated Nomism and then come back and substantiate your claim. They have not completely turned their back on God, for even at this very moment, there are Jews in Israel and elsewhere who are turning to Christ and reclaiming Paul as one of their own, not as the Protestant he has been painted as for centuries.

    Augustine saw the destruction and continued ruin of the Jewish temple as both a proper discipline on the stiff-necked chosen people and a display of God’s favor upon Gentiles. Jerome and Chrysostom were far more forthright than that. Why should we model our hermeneutics after that of a rebellious people?

    And Paul warned all of the above not to boast over the natural branches lest God cut them off as well. It’s a lesson the Romans needed to heed, and that the West has not heeded. Your statement reeks of replacement theology, which is completely 100% presumption. It is the root that supports you, not the other way around. The same God who allowed the temple to be destroyed has allowed both protestantism and catholicism to be the laughing stock of the world.

  174. Why replacement theology (and variants) are sorely mistaken:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fg_7AP9Urbo

  175. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Wosbald–
    Many Thomists accept the nomenclature of “total depravity,” meaning (along with the Reformed) that we cannot come to God all on our own but are in need of grace to do so. Catholic apologist Jimmy Akins is famous (or infamous, as the case may be) for analyzing TULIP in just this fashion. I have seen other Thomists do so, as well. Of course, Catholics see us as sick in our sin and in need of assistance. The Reformed see us as dead in our sins and in need of life.
    John Wesley and Jacob Arminius both ascribed to Total Depravity though taking the soft, Catholic approach of sickness rather than death.
    So, your version of Total Depravity may be inadequate, but it is Total Depravity nonetheless. The denial of Total Depravity is tantamount to Pelagianism, and thus not within orthodoxy. Many Charismatics, as well as faithful followers of brother Charles Finney, deny Total Depravity. Are you sure you wish to be agreeing with them rather than us?

    Last I checked, Arminian Methodists et al still believed in Total Depravity (that post-fall Natural Man is intrinsically opposite Supernatural Good/the things of God).

    Leaving aside any false dilemmas and semantic wrangling, I’m saying that Natural Man can dismiss Reformism’s Total Depravity before they even engage the Christian world.

  176. Wosbald,

    Semantic wrangling aside, if we are not pervasively or totally depraved, there is no need for grace. At least some of us will have a natural inclination to, or follow through on our inclination to serve God.

    As far as Methodism in the Wesleyan tradition, it would be more apropos to say that Adam’s fall made us depraved but that God’s prevenient grace restored to us just enough capacity to accept or reject the Spirit and be regenerated. There is a restoration from death to terminal illness, but the Reformed say we have been resurrected with Christ never to die again, because that is what Christ’s resurrection means.

    All of your incarno-universalistic-Natural Man mumbo jumbo aside, you do not have the life of Christ in you if you can die again.

  177. Once again, this is exhibit A in the role that assumptions and paradigms play in one’s reading. Under the proper Hebrew paradigm, there is a certain amount of tension that runs through Scripture, beginning with the Tanakh and through to the Prophets. The law in Deuteronomy is replete with the conditions for blessing, obedience resulting in blessing and disobedience removing that blessing. And yet the Prophets and Moses speak of the elect of Israel, and how all Israel will be saved, a promise echoed by Paul in Romans 11. There’s great mystery and paradox involved in the plan and Word of God. That is why the authors to the Hebrews, most surely a Jew himself, can say with no qualms just a few verses later and following on the heels of v 14, that there remains no sacrifice left for those who who treat as an unholy thing the blood that sanctified them. There is that tension again, which is natural to the Jew and feels so unnatural and illogical to the greek/western mind.

    This whole sharp distinction between the Western way of thinking and the Hebrew way of thinking was debunked so long ago by James Barr that it doesn’t even merit a response. The fact that modern Jews rank as some of the most Westernized people around also proves otherwise.

    I assume that the main point of the above paragraph was to accuse the Reformed of “resolving the tension.” Assuming there is a tension, which I would deny, you are just as guilt as resolving it as well. You just resolve it in favor of man’s libertarian freedom, his ability to leap out of the hand of Christ. Furthermore, the Middle Knowledgesque view that you hold denies the fact that people are chosen without any regard to what they have done (Rom. 9:11–12). You have God looking into all possible worlds and choosing people on the basis of what they will do. (And I know the arguments about corporate election, blah, blah. If God only chose one people and not those in it, then there is no reason to object that he is unfair, since one can just join those people. Natural man would only protest that this is not fair, as does Paul’s opponents, if he is in fact talking about individual, unconditional election).

    God works through us so that we have a role in perseverance that is meaningful, real, and necessary without denying the fact that His electing grace determines and guarantees salvation for the regenerate. That is the tension. If I have been elected and must persevere, how can it be that I won’t get there unless I persevere. That’s the tension.

    The ‘forever’ in Heb 10:14
    “14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
    arises out of the author’s desire (and theme throughout the epistle) to contrast the superiority of the New Covenant sacrifice with the old sacrifices, which could not mature the faithful forever, let alone in their own generation. It is not inserted there to provide an argument for calvinists and the p in the tulip…

    My argument was not that this verse was written to provide an argument for Calvinists but that the author says that Christ’s sacrifice has already perfected those being sanctified right now. The being perfected is a past event with ongoing ramifications. That’s what the grammar indicates. Nice try, though.

    If the new covenant sacrifice can start some people on the road to heaven but then they go astray then it cannot, in itself, perfect anyone. Something must be added to it, whether you call it a work of obedience or making the right choice. You make the new covenant sacrifice in itself as ineffectual for salvation as the blood of bulls and goats.

  178. As a corollary, no Hebrew would read this:“29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them , and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
    and say that those who were sanctified by the blood of the covenant weren’t really sanctified. This would be a completely unnatural reading to a first century jew or believer.

    Mere assertion. If the Reformed are right, then that is what the apostles believed when they wrote such verses. Sanctified can simply mean set apart without any inward transformation. God sanctified Nadab and Abihu, but they were destroyed. God sanctified the ark, He did not transform it inwardly. The Reformed understand this. Our children can be sanctified or set apart through baptism and yet not ever be inwardly transformed. They can be regarded as holy or “set apart”, as Paul regards the children of believers and even unbelieving husbands who are married to believers wives, but that certainly does not mean they are inwardly holy or inheritors of eternal life apart from faith (1 Cor. 7:14).

    Hebrews 10:14 refers to sanctification in the complete sense of being transformed inwardly and outwardly because Christ’s sacrifice perfects such sanctified people. He cannot perfect anyone without first transforming them.

    <

    ?Not to mention that the reality of apostasy has already been made clear long before chapter 10, in chapter 6:
    ” It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit , 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away , to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

    Couple of things:

    1. The Reformed do not deny that apostasy happens. One can be in the covenant, experience a number of blessings, partake in the overflow of the Spirit in the corporate gathering, exhibit a form of (ultimately false) repentance, etc. We just deny that the elect can do this and believe that God only regenerates the elect.

    2. The same passage concludes thusly:

    7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
    Land does not make itself fertile or infertile. Land cannot produce a good crop unless the seeds of a good crop are planted within it. A good seed does not first produce good crops that then twist and morph into thorns and thistles. Land can only do with the seed what the seed is. Some land doesn’t get good seed. Some land get’s the good seed of God’s transforming word.

    The passage points finally to God’s sovereign regeneration and preservation of His elect.

    Furthermore,

    Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). Your Jesus does not perfect your faith until you give Him the permission. He depends finally on you to do His work, which makes you the perfecter of your faith. Without you, no perfection can be accomplished. The Reformed believe that God always finishes what He starts. This Jesus alone is the perfecter of faith.

    Jesus can save to the uttermost because He ever intercedes for us (Heb. 7:25). If we draw to Jesus even once, is He not praying that we will persevere? If He isn’t, then this verse offers no comfort. If He is, how can we not persevere? Does God not promise that we will receive everything we ask for according to His will? (1 John 5:14–15). Does anyone know the Father’s will better than Jesus? (Matt. 11:27) Could He offer even one prayer that does not reflect God’s will? And if He offers even one prayer according to God’s will, will the Father not answer it?

    I guess your Jesus either does not pray that we will remain in faith or He prays that we will remain in faith and that prayer either goes unanswered or is not according to His will. On the one hand, we have a verse in Hebrews that cannot comfort us since Jesus isn’t praying for us to stay faithful. On the other hand, we have severe Christological problems. I guess the second option is worse.

    Finally, please do not take what I am about to say as picking on Shulam. But since you mentioned his name and keep linking to him, I’ll use him as an example, especially if you get much of your idiosyncratic thinking from him. Shulam does not define who is a Messianic Jew and who isn’t. Shulam does not automatically have magical insight into the text because he grew up speaking Hebrew and inherited Talmudic traditions from his forefathers. At best He has an advantage in the Hebrew language. We don’t know how many Talmudic traditions or ways of interpreting the texts go back to the first century. Much of the Talmud was written by those who, by definition, were apostate Jews. What it says is not a reliable guide to what first-century Jews would or would not have believed. The Qumran literature is not a good guide to what first-century Jews would or would not have believed. It represents one very small sect.

    I suppose you will accuse me of boasting or some such thing, but I don’t mean to. Furthermore, I believe that the gospel is for the Jew first and then the Gentile. I believe that a great many, maybe even the vast majority of existing Jews who deny Christ will come to believe in Him right before His return. But what I am saying is we have to look at the biblical text itself to understand what is being taught, not what you think first century Jews would or would not have believed or what Jason thinks someone holding to a paradigm would or would have not said.

    Are American Jews who worship in Messianic congregations not true Jews if they hold to TULIP? Are members of the Jews for Jesus who affirm some variation of P, and many in fact do so, not Jews because of that? Does a Jew cease to be Jewish if he believes in Christ and believes the Presbyterian tradition is the best example and fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures? Apparently for you, the answer to all these questions is yes. But you are a Gentile. What right do you have as a Goy to tell us who is Jewish and who is not?

    Seems to me that you are the one boasting.

  179. This is for SS. Sorry about the errors in the above formatting.

    ?Not to mention that the reality of apostasy has already been made clear long before chapter 10, in chapter 6:
    ” It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit , 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away , to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

    Couple of things:

    1. The Reformed do not deny that apostasy happens. One can be in the covenant, experience a number of blessings, partake in the overflow of the Spirit in the corporate gathering, exhibit a form of (ultimately false) repentance, etc. We just deny that the elect can do this and believe that God only regenerates the elect.

    2. The same passage concludes thusly:

    7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
    Land does not make itself fertile or infertile. Land cannot produce a good crop unless the seeds of a good crop are planted within it. A good seed does not first produce good crops that then twist and morph into thorns and thistles. Land can only do with the seed what the seed is. Some land doesn’t get good seed. Some land get’s the good seed of God’s transforming word.

    The passage points finally to God’s sovereign regeneration and preservation of His elect.

    Furthermore,

    Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). Your Jesus does not perfect your faith until you give Him the permission. He depends finally on you to do His work, which makes you the perfecter of your faith. Without you, no perfection can be accomplished. The Reformed believe that God always finishes what He starts. This Jesus alone is the perfecter of faith.

    Jesus can save to the uttermost because He ever intercedes for us (Heb. 7:25). If we draw to Jesus even once, is He not praying that we will persevere? If He isn’t, then this verse offers no comfort. If He is, how can we not persevere? Does God not promise that we will receive everything we ask for according to His will? (1 John 5:14–15). Does anyone know the Father’s will better than Jesus? (Matt. 11:27) Could He offer even one prayer that does not reflect God’s will? And if He offers even one prayer according to God’s will, will the Father not answer it?

    I guess your Jesus either does not pray that we will remain in faith or He prays that we will remain in faith and that prayer either goes unanswered or is not according to His will. On the one hand, we have a verse in Hebrews that cannot comfort us since Jesus isn’t praying for us to stay faithful. On the other hand, we have severe Christological problems. I guess the second option is worse.

    Finally, please do not take what I am about to say as picking on Shulam. But since you mentioned his name and keep linking to him, I’ll use him as an example, especially if you get much of your idiosyncratic thinking from him. Shulam does not define who is a Messianic Jew and who isn’t. Shulam does not automatically have magical insight into the text because he grew up speaking Hebrew and inherited Talmudic traditions from his forefathers. At best He has an advantage in the Hebrew language. We don’t know how many Talmudic traditions or ways of interpreting the texts go back to the first century. Much of the Talmud was written by those who, by definition, were apostate Jews. What it says is not a reliable guide to what first-century Jews would or would not have believed. The Qumran literature is not a good guide to what first-century Jews would or would not have believed. It represents one very small sect.

    I suppose you will accuse me of boasting or some such thing, but I don’t mean to. Furthermore, I believe that the gospel is for the Jew first and then the Gentile. I believe that a great many, maybe even the vast majority of existing Jews who deny Christ will come to believe in Him right before His return. But what I am saying is we have to look at the biblical text itself to understand what is being taught, not what you think first century Jews would or would not have believed or what Jason thinks someone holding to a paradigm would or would have not said.

    Are American Jews who worship in Messianic congregations not true Jews if they hold to TULIP? Are members of the Jews for Jesus who affirm some variation of P, and many in fact do so, not Jews because of that? Does a Jew cease to be Jewish if he believes in Christ and believes the Presbyterian tradition is the best example and fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures? Apparently for you, the answer to all these questions is yes. But you are a Gentile. What right do you have as a Goy to tell us who is Jewish and who is not?

    Seems to me that you are the one boasting.

  180. We Lutherans allow God to be God. To actually change His mind with regard to someone or something.

    We think He is a REAL God, and has that right.

    Does God ever change His mind (that we know of, in Scripture)?

  181. Scripture CLEARLY says that Christ’s death and forgiveness was for all (“the whole world”)…and “Father forgive them…” was for his murderers (all of us, truth be told)…so Jesus wasn’t praying for ‘the elect’ only.

    That not all who are forgiven come to faith, doesn’t change those facts.

    We realize that God is the One who gives people faith and that He is ultimately the One who brings people to Heaven, or not.

    But some things are a mystery and cannot be explained. I sure as heck wouldn’t want to ever tell people, “Well you know…Jesus MAY have died for you”. That is unbiblical, and untrue.

    That’s one of the reasons that I am a Lutheran. There’s no real assurance elsewhere. The Reformed go looking around inside of themselves for assurance. And we believe that is the last place we ought go. The external Word, which includes the sacraments, is our only ground for assurance.

  182. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    Wosbald,
    Semantic wrangling aside, if we are not pervasively or totally depraved, there is no need for grace.

    Like forcing a choice between Christ as either God or Man, or between God as either One or Three, this is a false dichotomy that one imposes upon oneself.

  183. Mere assertion. If the Reformed are right, then that is what the apostles believed when they wrote such verses.

    And the above is not an assertion?

    Land does not make itself fertile or infertile. Land cannot produce a good crop unless the seeds of a good crop are planted within it. A good seed does not first produce good crops that then twist and morph into thorns and thistles. Land can only do with the seed what the seed is. Some land doesn’t get good seed. Some land get’s the good seed of God’s transforming word.

    The Hebrews to whom these words were spoken had indeed produced good crops so to speak. They had endured persecution for Christ, stood with the brethren in the face of opposition, lost their property for the cause of Christ and so on. And yet to them not one but multiple warnings are given to not forsake the assembling and not to engage in high handed sin, even the sin of denying Christ under great pressure.

    Re Heb 12:2: that Jesus is the author and finisher of faith does not preclude our participation in His faithfulness. It is not like Christ will impose Himself on a believer who wants to turn back and head south, He allows us the freedom to do that just as He allowed the Hebrews to whine and complain and rebel in the desert. A Pharisee who believed in Christ and read the warning in Heb 10:29 would simply not take that sanctification as fictional, but real. Likewise, countless Jewish believers, not converts to the gentile expression of the faith, but jews do not take the warning passages in the way the reformed do, they treat these passages as relevant to the regenerate.

    Shulam does not define who is a Messianic Jew and who isn’t. Shulam does not automatically have magical insight into the text because he grew up speaking Hebrew and inherited Talmudic traditions from his forefathers. At best He has an advantage in the Hebrew language. We don’t know how many Talmudic traditions or ways of interpreting the texts go back to the first century. Much of the Talmud was written by those who, by definition, were apostate Jews. What it says is not a reliable guide to what first-century Jews would or would not have believed. The Qumran literature is not a good guide to what first-century Jews would or would not have believed. It represents one very small sect.

    If you were to ask Joseph Shulam I believe he would say that he speaks for himself as a Jewish believer in Christ. And that his 50+ years of experience as someone trained in the best Yeshiva in Israel, and natural background as a Jew counts for something, to put it mildly. You simply cannot dismiss him by hand waving just because you dislike his conclusions. As someone who voluntarily immersed and steeped himself into Jewish culture, Shulam is utterly more qualified to speak for the jewish roots of the faith than anyone you can bring up. Anyone who has picked up his commentaries on Romans, Acts and Galatians will realize this, if they are honest. Your statement that at best he has an advantage in the language shows your unwillingness to truly open your ears and listen. Who are you to determine that Qumran is not a good guide? Have you studied with Jews? Have you learned from Pharisees as to what their beliefs really are as Shulam has done? Your arrogance knows no bounds. I have read the very best that the West has to offer in theology, and in my view, no one comes even close to analyzing Scripture in the manner, depth and intensity with which Shulam has.

    I suppose you will accuse me of boasting or some such thing, but I don’t mean to. Furthermore, I believe that the gospel is for the Jew first and then the Gentile. I believe that a great many, maybe even the vast majority of existing Jews who deny Christ will come to believe in Him right before His return. But what I am saying is we have to look at the biblical text itself to understand what is being taught, not what you think first century Jews would or would not have believed or what Jason thinks someone holding to a paradigm would or would have not said

    You don’t mean to, but you will and are boasting. You say you believe the gospel if for the Jew first. If you truly believed that, you would at least contend with what someone like Shulam has to say on the topic of justification or apostasy or ecclesiology. He too concludes his video on the parable of the olives trees by saying study your Bible and look into its jewish roots. So you say you want to study it, but don’t give any care for reading in its proper first century context or listening to those who are qualified to do so.

    Are American Jews who worship in Messianic congregations not true Jews if they hold to TULIP? Are members of the Jews for Jesus who affirm some variation of P, and many in fact do so, not Jews because of that? Does a Jew cease to be Jewish if he believes in Christ and believes the Presbyterian tradition is the best example and fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures? Apparently for you, the answer to all these questions is yes. But you are a Gentile. What right do you have as a Goy to tell us who is Jewish and who is not?

    Seems to me that you are the one boasting.

    I am not here to point to converts to the gentile faith. They can do as they please. It is not my job or prerogative to speak about jewish converts to catholicism, presbyterianism, baptist, methodist or whatever. My calling is to point to legitimate jewish believers, as Jews, and get their message out to the larger audience of gentiles saying: Look, we as gentiles do not support the root. These Scriptures were written by them, and God has not rejected them. Today Israel is a nation once again, a direct and miraculous fulfillment of prophecy. And many within their midst have turned to Yeshua, and are living as faithful Jews in Jerusalem today. They have much to say about the Scriptures and what we ought to believe, and the least we can do, is listen to them. Where is the boast in that?

    You are the one boasting saying you have no need of someone like Shulam, you already know everything. You’ve already determined what is truth or not. Forget that you don’t know Hebrew, have not studied with Jews, have not lived with them, have not wrestled with the Scriptures for decades. I, as a gentile, recognize my rightful place, and am delighted to learn from those who are qualified not just by their academic achievements, but the life they lead. I was overjoyed when I first read Shulam to see that my basic approach was in keeping with his, although there is so much I have missed but that he has made clear in his work.

  184. SS–

    I do believe that Jewish believers in the Jewish Messiah deserve some sort of “pride of place” within the modern church. They are the natural branches, so to speak. (Kind of like the Kohanim deserve some sort of “pride of place” in modern synagogues even though there is no real role for the priesthood without a temple.) I actually liked what Shulam had to say on the youtube video you linked to, except that he seemed to imply Jews themselves were the roots of the natural olive tree. The Jewish Messiah is the root.

    Every orthodox Christian denomination holds to some form of supersessionism. No one who holds to the dual-covenant can be considered orthodox. Of course, some forms of supersessionism are far more philo-Semitic than others. (Just as Augustine was far more philo-Semitic than Chrysostom.)

    I certainly wouldn’t call it Replacement Theology. The Jews are not being replaced but joined:

    “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,

    “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
    and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
    “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
    And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.”

    But the branches of Christ, attached to the true vine, the true Israel of God, do indeed “supersede” the purely ethnic congregation of Israel.

    I have no difficulty studying the insights of a man such as Shulam. I am sure there is much to be gained in every way. But not more so than from a good Gentile OT scholar. There is nothing within Hebrew genetics that would make a Jew a better researcher. (And, quite frankly, there is so little in common between modern Rabbinic Judaism and Ancient Israelite Religion, or even Second Temple Judaism, that insider “experience” wouldn’t count for much.)

  185. SS,

    I will second what Eric said. Much to be gained in every way from studying Jewish writings.

    By the way, I do know Hebrew.

    My point in bringing up Shulam is, again, to point out that he does not define Messianic Judaism, nor do you. Like other branches of Christianity, Messianic Judaism is not a monolithic movement. The mere fact that some of them would have joined a Presbyterian church, for example, does not make them any less qualified to “speak” for other Jewish believers.

    If the Reformed are right, then there were first-century Jews who believed essentially what I am saying. That is not a mere assertion, I said IF the Reformed are right.

    You do not define who speaks for Messianic Jews. Shulam might be one voice. Jews for Jesus are another. Jews who become Presbyterians, or Baptists, or whatever, are another. All of them can include individuals with a background essentially similar to Shulam’s and yet come up with radically different conclusions.

    The way election is presented in Scripture as well as several basic grammatical considerations I brought up speak for themselves regardless of who says them. There is only so much you can do with the language. The truly regenerate cannot apostatize fully and finally. If they can, we are saving ourselves with a little bit of help from God.

    Yes we need to study the Jewish roots of Scripture, but that is not nearly as easily done as you think it is. There was no one first-century Jewish view of nearly anything except monotheism, that the Torah was inspired, and that God chose Israel to be a blessing to the world. I don’t dismiss Shulam because of his conclusions. All I know about his conclusions is what you have told me and I am trusting that you are giving an accurate summary. I dismiss your conclusions because they in large measure ignore the grammar of so many passages and rely much on Jewish traditions that may or may not reach all the way back to the first century. I dismiss your conclusions because they don’t fit a simple reading of the text. I dismiss your conclusions because if they were correct, there is no real reason to believe Jews would not have converted en masse in the first century. I dismiss your conclusions because the logical conclusions of your position is that Paul and the other apostles were not teaching anything all that different from some other groups. No Jew or Gentile would have persecuted them for that. I dismiss your conclusions because God will not share his glory with another, but the God you are presenting shares the glory of his saving work with us. I dismiss your conclusions because they deny the very simple fact that God demands death as the punishment for sin, as seen in the fact that Jesus Himself tells us He had to die. I dismiss your conclusions because Jesus and Paul tell us God demands absolute perfection if were to stand before Him. I dismiss your conclusions because the very existence of sacrifices themselves tell us that NO ONE can meet the standard God demands. If they could, there is no reason for sacrifices. A really holy person could live a life without doing them and be fine if we could meet the standard God demands. But there is no indication that anyone except Christ was ever exempt from the sacrifices. I dismiss your conclusions because you deny much of what the Spirit has done in church history in favor of people simply because they have a Jewish background, as if merely studying Judaism means your conclusions must be correct. I dismiss your conclusions because they cannot account for all of the promises that those whom God has chosen, regenerated, and justified He will also preserve until the end. I dismiss your conclusions because they are unbiblical.

    Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, I dismiss because it is essential historical revisionism and based on a whole lot of wishful thinking that might make some people feel good but whose historical basis is denied even by high ranking members of the Roman church.

  186. This is from SS, who had trouble posting this comment

    I do believe that Jewish believers in the Jewish Messiah deserve some sort of “pride of place” within the modern church. They are the natural branches, so to speak. (Kind of like the Kohanim deserve some sort of “pride of place” in modern synagogues even though there is no real role for the priesthood without a temple.) I actually liked what Shulam had to say on the youtube video you linked to, except that he seemed to imply Jews themselves were the roots of the natural olive tree. The Jewish Messiah is the root.
    You said it yourself, the Messiah is a Jew. He is the King of the Jews who appointed a number of Jews, including Paul who never identified himself as a christian but as an Israelite/jew, to share the Gospel with the world.
    Romans 11:1-2
    “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite , of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.”
    Paul is saying, I am a Jew, and I believe in Christ and by virtue of that fact, I can tell you that God has not cast us away.
    I certainly wouldn’t call it Replacement Theology. The Jews are not being replaced but joined:
    Whatever you want to call it, it has no biblical basis. Yes, there are the natural branches and the ingrafted branches supported by a Jewish Root. The problem is this: Since ~ A.D 135 (and possibly even before that), the ingrafted branches have denied the natural branches the right to exist theologically and for much of history, physically as well. So much so that today, you have people saying that there is no such thing as a jewish believer in Christ, but plenty of jewish converts to various christanities (catholic, orthdox, anglican, presbyterian, baptist, evangelical, ad infinitum).
    And yet, the natural branches are being revived as we speak. I am finding remarkable resistance from the ingrafted branch to what these natural branches are saying: men like Joseph Shulam, Daniel Juster among others.
    But the branches of Christ, attached to the true vine, the true Israel of God, do indeed “supersede” the purely ethnic congregation of Israel.
    Here’s the problem you’ve got on your hands : there is no biblical basis for such an appellation as ‘true’ or ‘spiritual’ Israel. And there is no such thing as ‘branches of Christ’. There is ONE tree with TWO branches. The ONE tree is ISRAEL comprised of a Jewish/Natural branch and a Gentile/Ingrafted branch:
    “16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree , 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

    19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.”
    Paul is dealing with the very same contention from gentile believers at Rome who believed that God had rejected ethnic Israel. And Paul says not true and reminds them that they were grafted into a jewish branch comprised of people like him, Peter, James, John, Jude etc. It was thanks to their missionary efforts that the gentile church came to be, not the other way around!
    (And, quite frankly, there is so little in common between modern Rabbinic Judaism and Ancient Israelite Religion, or even Second Temple Judaism, that insider “experience” wouldn’t count for much.)
    That’s not the problem. The problem is that gentile believers typically don’t have the first clue about what Second Temple Judaism looked like. And having a proper understanding of the later and the various jewish groups/beliefs in the time of Jesus and Paul is critical to reading the Scriptures in the right historical/cultural milieu. And it takes deep knowledge of not only the language but the rich literature to do that, something which people like Shulam have done over 50+ years. And what response do they get? Your pedigree is as good as mine. I call that type of ridiculous a priori bias for what it is, nothing less than meaningless posturing.

  187. This is from SS:

    My point in bringing up Shulam is, again, to point out that he does not define Messianic Judaism, nor do you. Like other branches of Christianity, Messianic Judaism is not a monolithic movement. The mere fact that some of them would have joined a Presbyterian church, for example, does not make them any less qualified to “speak” for other Jewish believers.

    You are missing the point entirely. The contention here is not about who defines Messianic Judaism. Shulam does not have to claim that he defines who is a Messianic Jew or not to have something extremely important to say, speaking as a Jewish believer and not as a convert to X type of Christianity ; basically your argument is a straw man and red herring at once. Shulam’s voice as well as that of other Messianics such as David Juster are unique and more importantly in keeping with the earliest model of church as we know it from the Scriptures, where Jewish believers in Christ co existed besides gentile believers and where the gentile believer’s genesis was in what the jewish believers had done for them, not the other way around.

    You do not define who speaks for Messianic Jews. Shulam might be one voice. Jews for Jesus are another. Jews who become Presbyterians, or Baptists, or whatever, are another. All of them can include individuals with a background essentially similar to Shulam’s and yet come up with radically different conclusions.

    See above.

    The way election is presented in Scripture as well as several basic grammatical considerations I brought up speak for themselves regardless of who says them. There is only so much you can do with the language. The truly regenerate cannot apostatize fully and finally. If they can, we are saving ourselves with a little bit of help from God.

    Grammatical considerations while important are not at the top of the list when it comes to sound exegesis. This is exegesis 101. At the top lies a needed respect for the context and historical setting of the text. And that is where reformed thought fails so badly. All of your objections as has been pointed out to you, are fundamentally objections wrought from your systematics and not from the historical context.

    Yes we need to study the Jewish roots of Scripture, but that is not nearly as easily done as you think it is. There was no one first-century Jewish view of nearly anything except monotheism, that the Torah was inspired, and that God chose Israel to be a blessing to the world. I don’t dismiss Shulam because of his conclusions. All I know about his conclusions is what you have told me and I am trusting that you are giving an accurate summary. I dismiss your conclusions because they in large measure ignore the grammar of so many passages and rely much on Jewish traditions that may or may not reach all the way back to the first century.

    You are approaching this again with the naive mindset of “none of those jews ‘had it right'”. Of course there was division then, is not gentile Christianity 100x more fractured today than they ever were? Does the fact that Christianity is fractured beyond belief today mean that there is no absolute truth to contend for (Jude 3)? Does the fact that there were many Judaisms and not a Judaism in the first century mean that we cannot identify the proclivities and inclinations that were common to those groups? A Pharisee and an Essene alike for example, after hearing the Sermon on the Mount would never have concluded “we can’t do this despite Jesus saying we must build on the rock, so let’s trust in the alien imputation of his righteousness to us”!

    My conclusions do not dismiss grammar, they put grammar in its proper historical/cultural context. If you are referring to your myopic analysis of Heb 10:14, without regard for the 1) theme of the epistle 2) context of the chapter 3) ensuing warnings given in Heb 10:26-31, then in fact your exegesis doesn’t stand. I will repeat my earlier point: no early jewish believer in Christ such as Peter, John, James, Paul, Jude etc would have read the sanctified in 10:29 as fictional.

    I dismiss your conclusions because they don’t fit a simple reading of the text.

    So a simple reading of the text means your reading of the text. How embarrassing.

    I dismiss your conclusions because if they were correct, there is no real reason to believe Jews would not have converted en masse in the first century. I dismiss your conclusions because the logical conclusions of your position is that Paul and the other apostles were not teaching anything all that different from some other groups.

    They were in fact teaching something radically different, AS JEWS: Speaking to Peter, Paul says:

    “15 “ We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”

    We who are Jews by birth. Not we who are converts to Robert’s calvinistic christianity.

    No Jew or Gentile would have persecuted them for that.

    Come again? The gentile agitators who were stirring the pot in Jerusalem on behalf of Jews (unbelievers in Christ) used persecution as their number one argument: be circumcised you so too can join the Jews socially and avoid persecution.

    I dismiss your conclusions because God will not share his glory with another, but the God you are presenting shares the glory of his saving work with us. I dismiss your conclusions because they deny the very simple fact that God demands death as the punishment for sin, as seen in the fact that Jesus Himself tells us He had to die.

    As has been pointed out to you many times before, God is no less glorified. Your argument is a non sequitur through and through. Christ chose to die for us, since eternity past, so as to condescend to us in the most loving way known to man, the sacrifice of one life for another. Not because there was any necessity to which the Father was bound.

    I dismiss your conclusions because Jesus and Paul tell us God demands absolute perfection if were to stand before Him. I dismiss your conclusions because the very existence of sacrifices themselves tell us that NO ONE can meet the standard God demands.

    You remind me of the bully who on the playground keeps shouting louder and louder expecting everyone to agree just because he is doing so. Why I am not surprised, this is what your father calvin did in his arrogance too. God tells us to be perfect yes, and He also recognizes that we are in need of grace and compassion in our striving for perfection. So He says make every effort to be holy and also remind us that He is faithful and just to cleanse us from our iniquities. Christ as our final sacrifice instituted this gracious covenantal commandment keeping to exist. It is because He died and rose again, that we can keep His commands. That is an intrinsic part of the Gospel. What you have as reformed is a mangled pelagian gospel where Christ must legalistically keep the letter of the law to satisfy a wrathful angry father. It is the product of twisted medieval minds and faulty analysis.

    If they could, there is no reason for sacrifices. A really holy person could live a life without doing them and be fine if we could meet the standard God demands. But there is no indication that anyone except Christ was ever exempt from the sacrifices.

    The doers of the Law do the Law written in their heart. And it is written in their heart precisely because Jesus is the sacrifice which makes this writing possible through the release of the Spirit.

    I dismiss your conclusions because you deny much of what the Spirit has done in church history in favor of people simply because they have a Jewish background, as if merely studying Judaism means your conclusions must be correct.

    Studying the jewish roots of the Scriptures is one of the necessities if we are to recognize the causes of the fractured and sinful state of Christianity today. Can anyone deny this state of sinfulness? One states that salvation can be forfeited (TOA), the other says no it can’t and passes judgment on those who say it can. This division is SIN in the eyes of God. And much of it is rooted in gentile arrogance in refusing to understand and acknowledge that there is such a thing as Jewish believer in Christ. Forget jewish converts to various christianities. I am saying acknowledge the truth: the Jewish believer in Christ was not present at any of your church councils because his identity was not recognized. And even today, it is not clear that he has a seat at the table, when in fact, by virtue of his descent and the PROMISE made to Israel (cf. Rom 11:1-2), He is eminently qualified to comment on the Scriptures.

    I dismiss your conclusions because they cannot account for all of the promises that those whom God has chosen, regenerated, and justified He will also preserve until the end. I dismiss your conclusions because they are unbiblical.

    God will have a remnant of faithful who will persevere regardless. Look Robert, you are doing your tradition a great disservice here by enforcing and proving the truth of the existing view that reformed are jerks and arrogant people with whom one cannot have a civil discussion. If you want to have a civil conversation without beating your chest like an alpha male, you will have to learn some humility and show some charity towards the people on this site. Make no mistake, no amount of table pounding or assertion making will convince anyone. You only make you and your people look like the kind of people no one wants to have a discussion with.

  188. +JMJ+

    SS wrote:

    Truth, by definition, is absolute, and exclusive, so I am puzzled at your repeated emphasis on Hindu thought, which is replete with relativistic thinking…

    Some truth is absolute. Some truth is relative. It is helpful to know which is which. Human systematics, of whatever field of study, are inherently provisional. Hindus understand this well.

    A better understanding of Hindu thought could help many to get over their hang-up of reifying theo-scientifico-philosophical systematics. It might be of help them to see that abstract systems, regardless of how much truth such systems may convey, are only provisional descriptions. And it might also help to help ameliorate their scorched-earth attitudes towards foreign, faith traditions.

    OTOH, a better understanding of Hindu thought may also lead Christians to more deeply value and appreciate that total paradigm shift which is at the heart of Christianity: Incarnationalism and Trinitarianism. Once one sees that Hindu thought, as noble and subtle as it may be, has no room for either of these exclusively Christian, foundational Mysteries/Dogmas, then it might lead some to a greater appreciation the radical newness of the Christic Revelation.

    But other than these two preeminent Mysteries (and the dogma/praxis that flow from them) Christianity offers nothing exclusive or special. This is why I find smug theological crowing (Palamistic, Thomistic, or whatever) to be tedious, at best.

    I don’t know much about your Judaistic views, but your views on Grace and Radical Freedom sound fairly orthodox, at least, upon first blush. However, what I do find tedious is the way that you seem to absolutize these views (thus, why I cautioned you against ethno-provinciality).

    OTOH, the Reformed view on Grace is no longer Grace, so saying that I find Reformism tedious doesn’t even begin to cut it.

  189. However, what I do find tedious is the way that you seem to absolutize these views (thus, why I cautioned you against ethno-provinciality).

    If I wanted to play hardball, I would tell you that I am no more absolutizing my views than you are making an absolute out of the inherent worth of relativistic hindu views.

    But I’d rather point to Paul who says most emphatically in Romans 11:1-2, for Scripture is weightier than any philosophical endeavor of man:

    “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite , of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.

    What I am advocating and appealing to here is not ethnic superiority, but rather the divine promise made to a certain nation, the Jews. If it is His decree, who are we to question? That promise first involves the revelation of the Incarnation to the ethnic jew (cf. Gal 2:15-16) who receives Christ as his Messiah and secondly to the gentile as consequence of the latter.

    Romans 11:28-29

    “28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

    Pretty absolute position if you ask me.

    But other than these two preeminent Mysteries (and the dogma/praxis that flow from them) Christianity offers nothing exclusive or special

    To me, this is analogous to saying to Heny Ford circa 1910: “hey the combustion engine is quite special, but apart from the pistons and the carburetor, this automobile offers nothing exclusive or special”. I guess you can say it, but methinks this to be a rather strange argument to make.

  190. Wosbald,

    You find exclusivity tedious because you have imbibed the prevailing postmodern worldview and all its attendant relativism. Thank goodness you didn’t live a few hundred years ago because the church you now attempt to defend would have been quick to silence you.

    Hinduism has a doctrine of incarnation. The Christian doctrine differs in that it only happens once and is a permanent union of the divine nature and the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth. So you are at least half wrong in saying that orthodox Xty only has two things different from other religions. But its understandable since the incarnation means so little in your worldview that one can be saved even with a full-throttled denial of it.

    Ironically, in your attempt to show respect and deference for other religions, you end up dissing them and their beliefs. Go tell a Muslim that he will be saved through the incarnation even if he remains a Muslim. I’m sure he’ll think you’re respecting his beliefs.

    You talk a good game, but at the end of the day, all you are promoting is the univeralistic hocus pocus that was absent from any form of Christianity until very recently. So, you deny the tradition in order to affirm the comfortable upper middle class Western European American view of enlightened religion. Which apostle would have died for your gospel again?

  191. +JMJ+

    SS wrote:

    If I wanted to play hardball, I would tell you that I am no more absolutizing my views than you are making an absolute out of the inherent worth of relativistic hindu views.

    But I don’t absolutize them. That’s the whole point. I don’t say that the “one true way” to unpack the Christian Revelation is by adopting a Hindu paradigm. In fact, I explicitly said that the Hindu worldview is essentially unfit for the task of fully explicating Incarnation and Trinity. There is no theo-philosophical system, no human culture, no single race which is up to that task. That’s why these are Mysteries.

    Similarly, and speaking from a Natural POV, there is no system or culture that has a lock on the mysteries hidden within Creation (e.g. the Mystery of Grace and Freedom). In these things, the Jews had no exclusivity over the Moslems or the Hindus or the Aztecs or whomever. These mysteries are part of the Common Wisdom of Man. All of the ancient faith traditions have a share in them.

    At any rate, take the provisional compliment and the note of caution for whatever they’re worth.

  192. In these things, the Jews had no exclusivity over the Moslems or the Hindus or the Aztecs or whomever.

    No less than Christ speaking:

    John 4:22

    “22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

    This is an exclusive claim, no matter what the angle you approach it from.

    Thanks for the provisional comment, I’ll have to disagree on the note of caution.

  193. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    You find exclusivity tedious because you have imbibed the prevailing postmodern worldview and all its attendant relativism.

    It’s funny you say that because Postmodernism is (or at least, can be) unintentionally helpful to the Catholic cause (and to the Common Wisdom of Mankind, as well). At the very least, Postmodernism is helping to sweep away the last remnants of Enlightenment Dualism/Modernism from the culture. And that’s bad for Protestantism.

    But along with these corrosive effects of Postmodernism, there is an unexpected benefit in that the world is now faced with a choice: either succumb to Postmodern Nihilism or, else, return to traditional Realist ontology. And that’s good for both Catholicism and the Common Wisdom of Mankind. Crisis and Opportunity are the same, after all.

  194. You’re getting a mite testy, guys!

    Calvinists tend to be convinced we have a corner on the truth. But in some sense, that’s the way everyone should be…firm in one’s convictions. In other senses, we sometimes go over the top. I do wish a few Reformed guys out there (e.g., James White, John Bugay) would tone down their rhetoric. There’s a bit too much condescension towards their opponents’ opinions. I would even admit to some needless arrogance of my own.

    What I seldom see or hear, however, is out-and-out contempt coming from the Reformed side. I personally fear for the soteriological safety of rival Christian clans, but I harbor no resentment toward any of them (except, perhaps, in an historical sense, toward the exploits of the Jesuits).

    Unless I read them wrongly, SS and Wosbald thoroughly hate Calvinism. It’s visceral. I feel like I’ve backed a dog into a dead-end alleyway and am being confronted by a low-pitched menacing growl.

    And I do not in the least understand the motivation. For the most part, none of you fear for either our own personal salvation or that of our disciples. We are in the clear. Neither do you fear that we lack a healthy emphasis on holy living. Without much room for debate, we encourage good works at least as much as, if not more than, any of you. Yes, some Reformed adherents, without the proper understanding of Calvinism’s subtleties, may be provoked into crises of faith as they seek to prove to themselves that they are indeed “elect” (although, in all honesty, I cannot recall my last conversation with someone on our side who actually had such a problem). At any rate, such “provocation” may miff some of you. And some of you seem “exercised” by our clear-cut heresy in terms of espousing an “alien righteousness.” (Shame on us for giving Christ too much recognition. We deserve to get slapped down for that!)

    You guys do need to get out more…to go beyond your comfort zones. Most Reformed folks don’t even bother to get involved in blogs. Many are soft-spoken, self-effacing, and generous to a fault. Some of the humblest people it has ever been my pleasure to meet on God’s green earth have been thoroughgoing Calvinists.

    And I have to tell you, I have been around enough to know that there are at least a few arrogant jerks in every communion. (I can name Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Messianic Jewish voices that fit this description if you’d like! Even a few Lutherans, heaven forbid….)

  195. SS–

    Just so you know, I’m actually very interested in Messianic Judaism. I have, for a long time now, valued its insights. Not only that, but I think they may well be right in a number of aspects. Paul clearly states that we are to present a united front, not one completely dominated by Gentiles.

    Like many ethnicities, however, Christian Hebrews tend to prioritize their culture over the faith at times. (I grew up as a Swedish Lutheran with the blond, blue-eyed Jesus of the Bethel Series!) Rabbinic Judaism was forged in the fires of a real tension with Christianity as the two grew apart, separating for good after the Bar-Kochba Revolt in 135 C.E. Some of modern Judaism’s identifying rituals probably originate in anti-Christian sentiment. (For example, the wearing of kippot may stem from negative reaction to the Christian tenet of men taking off their head gear as they enter into worship. If I remember correctly, before the twelfth or thirteenth century, it was NOT common Jewish practice, except among rabbis and sages, as evidenced by a myriad of still extant illustrations of the Jewish laity.) I’m not quite so sure Christians should be taking part in anti-Christian activities (though admittedly, it has long since lost this symbolism, at least for the most part).

    Most of the Messianic Judaism I have experienced has been Charismatic in nature, and in common with the Charismatic movement, I have found its theology often wildly subjective and unstable. Nevertheless, I have met wonderful, well-intentioned, devout believers of Yeshua. (In fact, I have some dear friends in the movement, and others on the periphery.) But, in general, it is not a movement that I would trust to lead or inspire the church as a whole. I sincerely pray that this changes!

    I have no problem with celebrating Purim, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh HaShanah, Sukkot, and Hanukkah. (I’m not quite so sure about Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur, though I have attended services in the past.) And there’s certainly nothing wrong with observing Shabbat. On the other hand, the castigating of Gentile festivals–such as Easter and Christmas–as pagan is plain wrongheaded. And they should not be including the practice of circumcision against clear Scriptural injunction….

  196. Wosbald

    You wrote,

    It’s funny you say that because Postmodernism is (or at least, can be) unintentionally helpful to the Catholic cause (and to the Common Wisdom of Mankind, as well). At the very least, Postmodernism is helping to sweep away the last remnants of Enlightenment Dualism/Modernism from the culture. And that’s bad for Protestantism.

    But along with these corrosive effects of Postmodernism, there is an unexpected benefit in that the world is now faced with a choice: either succumb to Postmodern Nihilism or, else, return to traditional Realist ontology. And that’s good for both Catholicism and the Common Wisdom of Mankind. Crisis and Opportunity are the same, after all.

    No doubt postmodernism is pointing out many of the failures of the Enlightenment, but Roman Catholicism with its traditionally low view of the body and sex influenced largely by Augustine and the Greek “matter is bad, Spirit is good” is hardly in a position to talk about dualism, especially when these ideas continue in the hierarchy today. Meanwhile, postmodernism is doing such a good job for the Roman Catholic church that one in ten Americans is an ex-Roman Catholic and that vast swaths of the Roman Catholic lay community attend mass regularly while practicing birth control in strict and open flaunting of Roman teaching.

    As far as the common wisdom of mankind:

    1 Cor. 1:18–3118 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

    20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

    26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

    Rom. 1:21–23 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    Luke 10:22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

    The Bible has a high view of the common wisdom of mankind, doesn’t it?

  197. SS,

    You wrote:

    You remind me of the bully who on the playground keeps shouting louder and louder expecting everyone to agree just because he is doing so.

    Methinks this is the pot calling the kettle black, especially since you dismiss anyone who sees through much of what you are saying as warmed over Roman Catholicism peppered with the thoughts of a very few people who profess to be Jewish followers of Jesus.

    No one has denied that there are Jewish followers of Jesus. What I am denying is that one ceases to be a Jewish follower of Jesus if he or she is born a Jew, comes to faith in Jesus, and joins a Protestant church. What I am denying is that one must be Jewish and come to your conclusions in order to be a Jewish follower of Jesus. There are plenty of Messianic Jewish congregations that would not recognize your gospel. You are not the arbiter of what qualifies someone to be Jewish or not.

    As far as charges of arrogance and humility, you are the one who keeps telling us Protestants that we are hopelessly lost because we don’t follow the teaching of modern people who read the New Testament through their own idiosyncratic understanding of Second Temple Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism. So, quite frankly, if telling someone that they are wrong and then attempting to back it up with Scripture is arrogant, then you are arrogant as well. You may not think I have proven my point. Fine. I don’t think you’ve proven yours.

    The fact of the matter, at the end of the day, is that if we can meet the standards God has in place in the way that he demands, then there was never any need for sacrifice. You can say it was a condescension, and that is fine, but what you cannot say is that it was in any sense necessary except perhaps as a good example. If we can meet the standards of God in the way he demands, Jesus did not have to die. He could have just breathed his Spirit on us and be done with it. If death is not necessary as the fulfillment of God’s wrath but God only demands blood for expiation, Jesus did not have to die. He could have just bled enough to expiate sin.

    The reason you are going wild is not that I have been arrogant but that you hate the gospel I preach. You hate that God is sovereign in His bestowal of grace. You hate that God makes no place for works in justification. You hate a God who would demand that His justice be satisfied before He could offer forgiveness. You hate a God that would demand perfection from those who by their sin in Adam made themselves incapable of rendering such perfection. Eric is right. You have a visceral hatred of all things Reformed, so please don’t lecture me on who needs humility and a willingness to learn and dialogue.

  198. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Unless I read them wrongly, SS and Wosbald thoroughly hate Calvinism. It’s visceral. I feel like I’ve backed a dog into a dead-end alleyway and am being confronted by a low-pitched menacing growl.
    And I do not in the least understand the motivation.

    It would probably be best to leave aside the psychoanalysis and, instead, stick with the issues.

    —————————————————————————

    Robert wrote:

    The Bible has a high view of the common wisdom of mankind, doesn’t it?

    The truth of the Common Wisdom of Mankind (Sanatana Dharma) is prior to any sort of Public Divine Revelation. The truth and beauty of this Natural Faith is the common heritage of Mankind. Its source is the inextinguishable ripples of Edenic knowledge.

    I’m sorry that you feel differently. It seems to me that, normatively, one has to have Natural Faith before one can even begin to unpack the truths of Supernatural Faith.

  199. Methinks this is the pot calling the kettle black, especially since you dismiss anyone who sees through much of what you are saying as warmed over Roman Catholicism peppered with the thoughts of a very few people who profess to be Jewish followers of Jesus.

    Warmed over RC? You have no idea of what you’re claiming.

    No one has denied that there are Jewish followers of Jesus. What I am denying is that one ceases to be a Jewish follower of Jesus if he or she is born a Jew, comes to faith in Jesus, and joins a Protestant church. What I am denying is that one must be Jewish and come to your conclusions in order to be a Jewish follower of Jesus. There are plenty of Messianic Jewish congregations that would not recognize your gospel. You are not the arbiter of what qualifies someone to be Jewish or not.

    You keep resorting to this red herring again. Here, let’s give you a dose of your irrational thinking: let’s substitute christian for “messianic jewish” congregrations and say “There are plenty of christian congregations that would not recognize your gospel. You (as a presbyterian) are not the arbiter of what qualifies someone to be christian or not.” There. Have I proved my case?

    Again, my argument has nothing to do with Jewish converts to whatever form of christianity. It has everything to do with the existence of thousands of Jewish believers in Israel and elsewhere today who have extremely important things to say about doctrine and praxis. Unfortunately, because the church is dominated by gentiles, no one seems to be listening.

    As far as charges of arrogance and humility, you are the one who keeps telling us Protestants that we are hopelessly lost because we don’t follow the teaching of modern people who read the New Testament through their own idiosyncratic understanding of Second Temple Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism. So, quite frankly, if telling someone that they are wrong and then attempting to back it up with Scripture is arrogant, then you are arrogant as well. You may not think I have proven my point. Fine. I don’t think you’ve proven yours.

    Where have I said that protestants are hopelessly lost? Unlike you, I don’t take it upon myself to be my brother’s judge. You judge Jason, tell him he’s going to hell and then come and call me arrogant for exposing you and your tradition? This is the height of chutzpah, but like I’ve said, over the years I’ve come to expect nothing less from the ‘reformed’. It is common knowledge that the reformed have a reputation for arrogance and being jerks, and you are exhibit A for the world to see. The arrogance is not in trying to defend one’s view with Scripture. It is taking the leap to judge another’s soul when one is carrying planks not just in one’s eye but all over one’s body as well. And like I told you, it is not for me or you to judge who will find what convincing.

    The fact of the matter, at the end of the day, is that if we can meet the standards God has in place in the way that he demands, then there was never any need for sacrifice. You can say it was a condescension, and that is fine, but what you cannot say is that it was in any sense necessary except perhaps as a good example. If we can meet the standards of God in the way he demands, Jesus did not have to die. He could have just breathed his Spirit on us and be done with it. If death is not necessary as the fulfillment of God’s wrath but God only demands blood for expiation, Jesus did not have to die. He could have just bled enough to expiate sin.

    The condescension was necessary in that that was what God chose to do. Who is man, a mere mortal to argue? If God chose to condescend to humanity in the deepest and most compelling way possible, He could not have merely breathed His Spirit and be done. He could not have just bled enough. Instead, He laid down His life for us, not so that we would go around judging our brother/condemning them to hell, but so that we would be transformed into the image of His Son.

    The reason you are going wild is not that I have been arrogant but that you hate the gospel I preach. You hate that God is sovereign in His bestowal of grace. You hate that God makes no place for works in justification. You hate a God who would demand that His justice be satisfied before He could offer forgiveness. You hate a God that would demand perfection from those who by their sin in Adam made themselves incapable of rendering such perfection. Eric is right. You have a visceral hatred of all things Reformed, so please don’t lecture me on who needs humility and a willingness to learn and dialogue.

    I receive the ad hominem with gratitude. Reminds me of liberals who call conservatives ‘haters’ for voicing strong concern over their values. The reformed gospel is not the Gospel preached in the early church. If that is a hateful statement, then so be it. You know, if at your conferences you celebrated a man such as Andrew Murray over John Calvin, I would have more respect for your tradition. But you continue to verbally taunt, torture and murder others who disagree with your gospels, just as your founder did physically to others. I will continue to point that out as long as I have to, whether you like it or not. Few know the real history behind the protestant reformation, and every opportunity they have to learn of it is a good one.

  200. What I seldom see or hear, however, is out-and-out contempt coming from the Reformed side. I personally fear for the soteriological safety of rival Christian clans, but I harbor no resentment toward any of them (except, perhaps, in an historical sense, toward the exploits of the Jesuits).

    Ah yes, you are concerned over the history of the Jesuits but seem perfectly comfortable with the founders of your faith and their own violent history.

    Unless I read them wrongly, SS and Wosbald thoroughly hate Calvinism. It’s visceral. I feel like I’ve backed a dog into a dead-end alleyway and am being confronted by a low-pitched menacing growl

    It is the reformed who have a reputation for being that dog and it is up to you to show goodwill towards your brothers. If you must disagree, then so do. But do not think for a minute that you can show up on blogs, taunt people, judge them, condemn them (has anyone read what is routinely said about NT Wright, even he had to say something about it) and expect not to be called out on it.

    And I do not in the least understand the motivation. For the most part, none of you fear for either our own personal salvation or that of our disciples. We are in the clear.

    I can only speak for myself: I don’t ever claim to be the judge of another, that is up to God to decide, not me. I can disagree with doctrinal beliefs and still be far removed from making that judgment. That is between the believer and God. If you have assurance of your salvation, good for you. I’m not here to call into question your assurance, but to debate doctrine.

    You guys do need to get out more…to go beyond your comfort zones. Most Reformed folks don’t even bother to get involved in blogs. Many are soft-spoken, self-effacing, and generous to a fault. Some of the humblest people it has ever been my pleasure to meet on God’s green earth have been thoroughgoing Calvinists.

    With the explosion of information on the web, the stereotype is reinforced not even every day, but every minute with every comment on thousands of blogs. Some of the most arrogant people I have ever had the displeasure of meeting have been thoroughgoing Calvinists and I am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses on that.

  201. SS,

    Exposing my tradition for what?

    Jewish believers in Israel have no better claim than Jewish believers outside of Israel simply because they are in Israel. That’s all I am trying to say. Their arguments are not better simply because they are Jewish but only if they are Scriptural. As I said before, I do not believe that you have shown them to take into account a lot of Scripture. Obviously, you don’t believe that I have either. Fine. Let the reader decide. But if I tell you that you have not made your point, that is not arrogance. If so, then based on that standard, you are no less arrogant.

    SS, you have said, with no little amount of snark, that the Reformed view of penal substitution is a pagan idea. So quite frankly, to say that you hate our gospel and that God that we preach is no mere ad hominem. I hate your gospel because I believe it diminishes the glory of Christ, turns God into an imperfect Savior, has God denying His justice, and overall makes God into your image. The question is, which of us is preaching the apostolic gospel? Again, the readers will have to decide that.

    The Joseph Shulam-SS gospel is not the gospel preached by the apostles. If that gets me labeled as hateful, then so be it. I will keep broadcasting the truth of the gospel of free grace until somebody listens. (My, my, that was productive, wasn’t it?)

  202. Just so you know, I’m actually very interested in Messianic Judaism. I have, for a long time now, valued its insights. Not only that, but I think they may well be right in a number of aspects. Paul clearly states that we are to present a united front, not one completely dominated by Gentiles.

    Great, that’s a good thing, let’s be Bereans (by the way, the Bereans searched the Tanakh, not the Brit Chadashah which didn’t exist yet) and reason with their heaviest theologians and see if there are any insights that we have overlooked. And yes, indeed for Paul, there’s one tree with TWO branches. Not one tree with one branch (a gentile branch at that).

    Like many ethnicities, however, Christian Hebrews tend to prioritize their culture over the faith at times. (I grew up as a Swedish Lutheran with the blond, blue-eyed Jesus of the Bethel Series!) Rabbinic Judaism was forged in the fires of a real tension with Christianity as the two grew apart, separating for good after the Bar-Kochba Revolt in 135 C.E. Some of modern Judaism’s identifying rituals probably originate in anti-Christian sentiment. (For example, the wearing of kippot may stem from negative reaction to the Christian tenet of men taking off their head gear as they enter into worship. If I remember correctly, before the twelfth or thirteenth century, it was NOT common Jewish practice, except among rabbis and sages, as evidenced by a myriad of still extant illustrations of the Jewish laity.) I’m not quite so sure Christians should be taking part in anti-Christian activities (though admittedly, it has long since lost this symbolism, at least for the most part).

    I think it is necessary for gentile christians to tread very carefully here. When you carefully consider the history of the church, let me ask you this: who were the aggressors? It was the gentiles, not the jews. I will use Chrysostom’s rabid anti-semitic language (eventually endorsed and embraced by Luther who in turn bequeated to the Nazis) as synecdoche for the zeitgeist of those times (dating back to AD 135). The aggression was first and foremost in telling the Jews that God had abandoned them and rejected them for rejecting Christ. And that He had proven so with the destruction of the temple. You yourslef have argued that on this very thread! I dont’ hold it against you, you are the product of your denomination. By that logic, I guess God rejected gentiles too when he wiped them off the face of the earth in the great flood… So what you are describing above is the REACTION to the prevailing bias against them. This bias still exists today, albeit not physically, but theologically. It is up to gentile christians to apologize and repent of this, and ask their jewish brethren for forgiveness. There was a very moving example of this, of two catholic priests who openly said that what the Catholic church did to the portuguese Marrano (meaning pigs) jews and in the inquisition was not just a mistake, but sin proper. I highly doubt that the CC as a whole will agree with these priests, but this is the direction in which we ought to be going.

    Most of the Messianic Judaism I have experienced has been Charismatic in nature, and in common with the Charismatic movement, I have found its theology often wildly subjective and unstable. Nevertheless, I have met wonderful, well-intentioned, devout believers of Yeshua. (In fact, I have some dear friends in the movement, and others on the periphery.) But, in general, it is not a movement that I would trust to lead or inspire the church as a whole. I sincerely pray that this changes!

    I am not the judge of this subset of messianic jews. What I can do however is point you to people like Shulam and Daniel Juster who lead congregations and are both heavyweight theologians (Shulam more so). He fully recognizes the right of gentiles to not participate in traditionally jewish culture. He himself has said, look, if the pig makes me holy, I will eat it from top to bottom including what it leaves behind. This is where the modern movement towards a breakdown of all natural divisions might be unhelpful. Divisions are good in a sense. Woman was divided from Man to be Man’s helper/completer. There’s a natural boundary there between the two. That’s why when that boundary is breached, reproduction cannot take place because it is unnatural. Likewise, there are two branches in the church, a jewish one and a gentile one. You wouldn’t know that today by observing the field. One could easily be forgiven for thinking there’s only one branch, but that is simply because the West has dominated economically and militarily since the days of Constantine. Status was gained by force and the sword, not by love and volition. What I am advocating for is a return in the academic arena and in the area of ecclesiology to the Jewish roots of the faith. My prior emphasis on the Apostolic Fathers I see as an incomplete subset of the latter. It’s not sufficient to read the AF and be aware of what they believed. 90% of what they believed, is held by Jewish believers today. So they are much closer. But it’s not enough, we have to go back to the very beginning, to Jerusalem, not Rome, or Ephesus. Jerusalem, where James and Peter held the first council, see Acts 15. Jewish believers were given the prerogative by God to lead the church theologically. Why such a radical mefiance and distrust of the same Jewish believers today, when the Scriptures clearly attest to the fact that God will and has grafted them back in?

    I have no problem with celebrating Purim, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh HaShanah, Sukkot, and Hanukkah. (I’m not quite so sure about Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur, though I have attended services in the past.) And there’s certainly nothing wrong with observing Shabbat. On the other hand, the castigating of Gentile festivals–such as Easter and Christmas–as pagan is plain wrongheaded. And they should not be including the practice of circumcision against clear Scriptural injunction

    The celebration of the feasts is not binding on Gentiles of course. Likewise, we should be giving people the freedom to celebrate Easter and Christmas or not, as opposed to causing them to stumble if we have a strong disagreement over it. And yes you are correct, no true Jewish believer would say that circumcision is binding upon gentiles. But think about it, take someone who has 50+ years of experience in the Jewish and gentile worlds, who has studied at the best Yeshiva in Israel, who leads a congregation in Jerusalem, has written many commentaries. Can we simply wave them away by saying “there are many kinds of jewish believers, so there’s no need to listen to what you are saying”. What if Paul said to James, “James, I’m really happy for you and AMMA let you finish, but I Paulus haz one of the best theologies of ALL TAHHME”? What kind of logic is that?

  203. Exposing my tradition for what?

    For it being birthed in physical and emotional violence. And the violence continues today, albeit not physically, but in the form of condemnation of the brethren, as you have done, condemning Jason. You are not the only one, one can turn to James White and be sickened by the same attitude or John Bugay and others.

    This is not of God.

  204. SS,

    The very act of excommunication is the church stating that, to the best of its ability, it has discerned that the heart of the person excommunicated is professing Christ falsely or teaching a false gospel or that the person is unconverted. I am not “consigning” anyone to hell as if I have that power, but only observing what would have happened had Jason remained in the PCA teaching what he is now teaching. He, lord willing, would have been excommunicated if he would not repent because the church would have discerned that his beliefs put him outside the kingdom of God. The fact that he voluntarily resigned does not alter that evaluation, although it does show that he has some integrity. He could have remained within, but he didn’t because he could not agree with the Westminster standards any longer. Good for him for resigning, though I would say he should have recused himself at least from prosecuting Leithart the moment he began wrestling with his concerns..

    Paul anathematizes those who preach a gospel different than the one he preached. If I believe Jason or anyone else is preaching a different gospel than what Paul and the other apostles preached, I must make the evaluation that I have. Can I do so with absolute certainty? No. I don’t know whether Jason might repent of his apostasy. I hope and pray that he does. Until I am convinced otherwise by Scripture, I believe Jason (and you) have embraced a false gospel.

    I would expect you to do the same as I have. Clearly you do not believe that I preach the gospel that Paul preached. If so, then you must believe that if I were to die right now, I would go to hell. If you don’t, then you need to go and do something else. Failing to affirm such is not an indication of humility but an indication that you either do not have the courage of your convictions or are ultimately indifferent in the matter of the gospel. Its the same postmodern wishy-washiness that ultimately says all roads lead to heaven.

  205. The very act of excommunication is the church stating that, to the best of its ability, it has discerned that the heart of the person excommunicated is professing Christ falsely or teaching a false gospel or that the person is unconverted.

    Which church? And by what authority? You have no authority, only the illusion of it.

    I am not “consigning” anyone to hell as if I have that power, but only observing what would have happened had Jason remained in the PCA teaching what he is now teaching. He, lord willing, would have been excommunicated if he would not repent because the church would have discerned that his beliefs put him outside the kingdom of God. The fact that he voluntarily resigned does not alter that evaluation, although it does show that he has some integrity. He could have remained within, but he didn’t because he could not agree with the Westminster standards any longer. Good for him for resigning, though I would say he should have recused himself at least from prosecuting Leithart the moment he began wrestling with his concerns..

    You have made it very clear on many occasions on this site, as to what the eternal fate of Jason is. By what authority do you speak? What is the WCF? Is it universally recognized by believers, jewish and gentiles, everywhere? Until then, realize that you have no authority to speak ex cathedra.

    Paul anathematizes those who preach a gospel different than the one he preached. If I believe Jason or anyone else is preaching a different gospel than what Paul and the other apostles preached, I must make the evaluation that I have. Can I do so with absolute certainty? No. I don’t know whether Jason might repent of his apostasy. I hope and pray that he does. Until I am convinced otherwise by Scripture, I believe Jason (and you) have embraced a false gospel.

    And who says that you are vested with the authority of Paul. Paul went to James and Peter to get permission. Where do you go? Michael Horton? John Calvin? If you cannot do it with absolute certainty, then by golly, don’t do it all!

    You can taunt and charge as much as you want. As for me, I am here to debate doctrine, not to pass ex cathedra judgments on my brothers.

    I would expect you to do the same as I have. Clearly you do not believe that I preach the gospel that Paul preached. If so, then you must believe that if I were to die right now, I would go to hell. If you don’t, then you need to go and do something else. Failing to affirm such is not an indication of humility but an indication that you either do not have the courage of your convictions or are ultimately indifferent in the matter of the gospel. Its the same postmodern wishy-washiness that ultimately says all roads lead to heaven.

    More posturing. You would expect me to do the same? Why? That begs the question. Why would I buy in to your paradigm, am I obligated to do so? I will not do the same as you have and condemn a brother, I will reason with him, ask him questions and disagree with him, but I will not condemn him. Re this:

    “If so, then you must believe that if I were to die right now, I would go to hell”

    This prima facie evidence of the hardness of hearts in the reformed tradition. This is a non sequitur through and through. I can believe you are mistaken and yet be completely non compelled to make a judgment on the state of your soul. As I have stated time and time again, that is not mine to make.

    I affirm with full conviction that not all roads lead to heaven and that there is only one Name under heaven by which men can be saved. And I also affirm that it is not my prerogative to condemn my brother’s soul to eternal death, God in His omniscience will have mercy on whom He wills. Your thinking and reasoning is deficient.

  206. SS,

    Any authority by which I say anything is not my own but Christ’s, insofar as it reflects His Word. If it does not, it has no authority. The same is true of you. The same is true of Jason.

    Do you believe that I, in affirming the gospel as traditionally taught in the Reformed tradition, am preaching the gospel that Paul promotes and defends in Galatia? Do you believe that I am opposing this gospel when I say that God does not take any of our good works into account when He justifies us? If you answer either one of those questions with a yes, and if you are right, then how am I not right now on my way to hell? If you answer either of those questions as no, then what is the point of saying anything to others within the broader Christian tradition?

  207. SS,

    That is, if you answer the first question with a no and the second with a yes.

  208. Any authority by which I say anything is not my own but Christ’s, insofar as it reflects His Word. If it does not, it has no authority. The same is true of you. The same is true of Jason

    Insofar as it reflects His Word. Who gets to determine that? You? I am saying that there once was a church, which spoke authoritatively in Acts 15, saying “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us “. That church does not exist today. You have no authority other than the authority you give yourself.

    If you answer either one of those questions with a yes, and if you are right, then how am I not right now on my way to hell?

    A non sequitur is a non sequitur. If tomorrow isn’t Tuesday, it does not follow that it must be Sunday. There’s not much more to say than that. It is not up to me to decide whether you are on your way to hell. I am more than comfortable to state what I believe and leave all the consequences to God.

    If you answer either of those questions as no, then what is the point of saying anything to others within the broader Christian tradition?

    The point is this: the church is fractured and broken. My voice proclaims this loud and clear for all to hear. It offers solutions to the problem, not condemnation. One of the ways in which we can repent is by giving Jewish believers in Christ a seat at the doctrinal table and conferring with them to reconsider our ecclesiology and beliefs. Not ignoring them and saying ‘oh they are just one voice among many, who cares about what they have to say’.

  209. Ss,

    You aren’t really answering my questions as much as evading it.

    Paul anathematizes the Judaizers for teaching a gospel contrary to what he preached. He says that all who deny the apostolic gospel are damned, right?

    Now, granted I am not an apostle, but how does it not follow that those who persistently and impenitently deny the gospel Paul preached are going to hell?

    If I am denying impenitently the gospel Paul preaches, how am I not going to hell?

    Seems to me the only way you can make a judgment like that is either to say that people can be saved without believing the apostolic gospel or that there is no way for anyone to know the apostolic gospel today, so we really cannot make even an educated guess about the spiritual condition of another person. But you keep telling many of us that we have the gospel wrong, or at least key elements of it wrong, so clearly you must believe we can know the apostolic gospel.

    Won’t you help a simple-minded Reformed Protestant like me figure this out?

    1. Can someone who denies Paul’s gospel or preaches another gospel than what he or the apostles preached be saved?
    2. Can any of us know what the gospel Paul preached was, and if so, how?

  210. If I am denying impenitently the gospel Paul preaches, …

    That’s your problem Bobby, you assume that which you are trying to prove.

    1. Can someone who denies Paul’s gospel or preaches another gospel than what he or the apostles preached be saved?

    No.

    2. Can any of us know what the gospel Paul preached was, and if so, how?

    Yes, we can. It would require repentance from sin. First and foremost the sin of division and of being a poor witness to the world. It would also involve a genuine and concerted voluntary effort at recovering the jewish roots of the Scriptures and of the Gospel. These Jewish roots point to ONE tree with TWO branches. Today, the Jewish branch is not recognized by the Gentile branch. It has no say in the doctrinal beliefs of the Gentile branch, in direct contravention of history and the first church (Acts 15).

  211. Let’s put it in even starker terms: the head of the PCA, SBC, AG (insert another 23996 protestant sects), the Pope, the Patriarch in the East, they all would have to get off their behinds and head to Jerusalem and meet with Jewish believers there and start apologizing. That would be a good start.

  212. SS,

    That’s better. I deny that God takes our works into account in our justification. I deny that the truly regenerate can commit final apostasy. I deny that the leaders of any of those communions have to meet in Jerusalem with Jewish believers. While I would affirm that there is much for the church to repent for in regards to its treatment of the Jews over the years, I deny Shulam’s understanding of the gospel if what you have told me of it is correct (and I assume that it is). I affirm that he must repent for making works a constituent part of our justification.

    Do I have Paul’s gospel?

  213. I deny that God takes our works into account in our justification. I deny that the truly regenerate can commit final apostasy. I deny that the leaders of any of those communions have to meet in Jerusalem with Jewish believers. While I would affirm that there is much for the church to repent for in regards to its treatment of the Jews over the years, I deny Shulam’s understanding of the gospel if what you have told me of it is correct (and I assume that it is). I affirm that he must repent for making works a constituent part of our justification.

    I deny that God will not take our deeds and works into account at the judgment and final justification. I deny that the truly regenerate cannot commit final apostasy. I deny that the gentile church/branch has any authority in and of itself and outside any meaningful communion with the Jewish branch. I deny the reformed understanding of the gospel (Calvin et al). I affirm that the reformed denomination must repent for making God the author of evil and teaching a doctrine of election and salvation that departs from the original Gospel.

    Do I have Paul’s Gospel?

  214. No, you don’t. But that’s essentially because you make your works part of “final justification” or however you want to put it.

    By the way, the Reformed do not make God the author of evil. But if you want to pretend that your way of understanding divine prescience, which based on our conversations I would assume is some form of Middle Knowledge, then you haven’t gotten away from the problem you think Reformed theology creates.

    If God actualizes a world in which he knows evil will take place and does not intervene to prevent sin from starting, you have the same “problem.” The only way to get out of it is to deny God’s omnisicence a la open theism or to deny His omnipotence.

  215. Robert,

    Do you really believe that it is up to the readers to decide who/what is right or wrong?

    Or do you feel compelled to keep continuously patting yourself on the back?

  216. SS–

    1. I never make excuses for Calvin. But his faults do not negate the soundness of his exegesis.

    2. The violence of Calvin, the tin-horn dictator of a single city (if you wish to push it that far…he was, after all, accountable to the Consistory), is in no way comparable to the violence of the Jesuits (and the Dominicans, for that matter) of the Catholic Reformation: brainwashing, intimidation, wholesale persecution, auto-da-fe’s, pogroms, and downright genocide. At least a quarter of Europe lay dead (up to half in some Germanic regions) before the conflicts–instigated by the Catholics and fought on Protestant land–finally came to an end in 1648.

    It is, of course, difficult to estimate how many “heretics” were executed in Europe in the time during and right after the Reformation. Certainly, it was in the thousands. But convictions for heresy overlapped with accusations of witchcraft and political intrigue. Somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 witches were put to death all told in Europe. (In 1515 in Catholic Geneva, 500 witches were put to death in one day.) How many heretics did Calvin burn? Just one. And Servetus was neither Protestant nor Catholic nor Anabaptist. He was an indisputable, non-Trinitarian heretic.

    I have yet to see you browbeat Jason for not repudiating Thomas Aquinas, a man who directly advocated the execution of heretics and witches in his writings.

    3. Conservative Christians in general (of all stripes: Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and Messianic) have the “reputation” of being arrogant, small-minded, and intolerant, mostly because they have the gall to stand up for absolute truth in a postmodern age. Reputation rarely matches reality: Jews are considered greedy, manipulative control freaks. Is that a correct assessment? (Or is it a reaction to their industry, self-reliance, intelligence, and competence?)

    Yes, there are genuinely arrogant Calvinists. They tend to be mouthy and gain attention. In truth, however, Calvinism rightly understood is a theology of utter humility. Those who do not understand this notion misunderstand Calvinism. (I might even include Calvin himself in this category.)

    Your “take” on the Reformed, seemingly based on very little face-to-face involvement with flesh and blood Calvinists, smacks of bigotry. I have been viciously attacked by Arminians, who knew little or nothing about me, simply on account of my religious convictions. I refuse to generalize these experiences to all Arminians. Some of my very closest friends–literally–are Wesleyan (as well as Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Charismatic, and Messianic, for that matter). I think all of them are wrong theologically, but I love them to death nonetheless.

  217. SS,

    I’m patting myself on the back how? By saying that Middle Knowledge does not get people out of the problem of God being the “author” (I don’t like that term) of sin in Christian theism? By saying that I don’t believe you have Paul’s gospel because you make works a constituent part of your justification? By saying that I don’t think you’ve made a good case for your position?

    If that constitutes patting myself on the back, then you are patting yourself on the back by criticizing the Reformed, telling us that Messianic Jews should not be considered Messianic Jews if they become Presbyterians, and so on. Your claim is ridiculous. The reader can decide who has the better case, yes. But for me to believe my case is sounder means that I’m bragging? So, you are allowed to have strong convictions but I am not? I’m sorry, and forgive me for “patting myself on the back,” but that’s just dumb. 🙂

  218. There you go again, with the self congratulatory behavior, which consists of repeating talking points which have already addressed and expecting that repetition to be the vindication of your position.

    Like I said Robert, you only pay lip service to letting the reader decide for himself.

    If you have a new argument to make, I’d be happy to address it. But your behavior here is only reinforcing the stereotype about calvinists.

  219. Acts 21:17-25

    “17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

    20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law . 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.

    26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.”

    Robert,

    I do not deny the right to any Messianic Jew to convert to one of the different forms of christianity. You have misrepresented my position in attempt to defend yours. So let it be clear.

    What I have said however, is that there is another category of Messianic Jew, namely one in which the believer is Jewish, through and through, just like the many thousands of jews who believed and were zealous for the law, in the beginning.

    Do you recognize that

    1) these men were legitimate believers? and

    2) there are jewish men today (not converts) who belong to this group?

  220. Your “take” on the Reformed, seemingly based on very little face-to-face involvement with flesh and blood Calvinists, smacks of bigotry.

    Why do make such blind assertions Eric? I would expect better of you. Have you lived with me and around me? Why the presumption then?

    I have had plenty of face to face involvement (more than I care to share) with calvinists (as an ex Protestant), and have experienced first hand the arrogance that everyone has noticed. Should I even raise the case of the pastor who told me I could not be saved if I rejected the calvinist P in the TULIP for instance. How is that any different than the ex cathedras pronounced by Robert here? You may not have done that, but sure seem pretty quiet to Robert, will you repudiate him? Oh, yeah I forgot, every protestant is his own pope, so you have no authority whatsoever.

    You see Eric, that you may think it is a theology of humility is what makes this whole thing so sad and ironic. Just go to google and type “calvinism jerks” and read of the many complaints. I wasn’t surprised to see Kevin Young attempt a defense in the Christian Post last tear when the blogosphere was really burning up,

    The perceived soundness of Calvin’s exegesis is irrelevant. I don’t care how brilliant a teacher claims to be or is said to be, if he does not have the Christlikeness that a servant should have, he has no authority. The problem with a book like the Institutes, isn’t first and foremost the content (which has been addressed and answered) but rather with the tone. I challenge any neutral observer to read his tone and not come away with the conclusion that this was a brash, haughty and arrogant man. Is it any surprise then, that a majority of his followers are the same?

  221. Another thought along those lines, Eric, Jason has shown himself to be a gentleman on this site. Even in the face of continued flaunting of the implicit rules (be fair in your language, address the Scriptures raised etc), such as the ‘drive by’ postings of TOA who clearly has no interest in arguing, only stating and restating his position, or the aggressiveness of Robert who continually repeats the same talking points ad nauseam as a form of flag waving.

    I’m surprised that Jason is still going to be honest with you.

  222. SS,

    Repeating talking points?

    Like using the parable of the talents to answer every question?
    Like using the parable of the unworthy servant every time somebody talks about boasting in works?
    Like talking about the root and the branches and the evil of John Calvin?

    I would not be so nearly “aggressive” if you would apply the same standard to yourself that you apply to others. I really dislike double standards. If I’m guilty of ex cathedra pronouncements, then so are you with the whole the church is ruined because “you won’t listen to some of these Messianic Jews I’ve been reading” schtick. If “every Protestant is his own pope,” so are you. Do you believe any church today has the authority to make binding pronouncements? If you answer no, then you are even more of your own “pope” than I am mine.

    You have claimed to have the God-given right to evaluate teachers by their fruit the best that you can, and you do have that right. But you cannot exercise that right and then call me arrogant for exercising the same God-given right to evaluate the teaching of others according to Scripture as best I can and draw conclusions that I believe the apostles would have drawn. That is a double standard.

    As far as your questions, you wrote:

    Robert,
    I do not deny the right to any Messianic Jew to convert to one of the different forms of christianity. You have misrepresented my position in attempt to defend yours. So let it be clear.
    What I have said however, is that there is another category of Messianic Jew, namely one in which the believer is Jewish, through and through, just like the many thousands of jews who believed and were zealous for the law, in the beginning.
    Do you recognize that
    1) these men were legitimate believers? and
    2) there are jewish men today (not converts) who belong to this group

    Well, I’ll grant that perhaps I have misunderstood you. So let me ask you a question. If a man grows up in a Jewish home, comes to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, reads the Bible and theology, and comes to the conclusion that the Presbyterian Church in America (or insert another denomination) is the most faithful expression of New Testament religion and joins the PCA, maybe even getting ordained therein, is he a Messianic Jew?

    1. Jewish believers in Jesus in the first century who were zealous for the law and not Judaizers, were legitimate believers.
    2. There are legitimate believers today who are Messianic Jews who have decided not to join the PCA or any other group but who observe Jewish festivals, etc. etc. and are zealous for the law in the proper sense in that they do not trust in their own law-keeping in any sense as the ground of their justification.

    But it seems to me that you have to identify any person who grew up in rabbinic Judaism and then believed in Jesus as a convert. Rabbinic Judaism and the Judaism practiced during the New Testament period are two different religions, the former having antecedents in the latter, of course. To put it very, very, very simply, one strain of first-century Judaism became Rabbinic Judaism and one became Christianity.

    If I come across as arrogant, I am sorry. I do not mean to. If I do not seem humble enough, well, I do not deny that I can be prideful, and I apologize for that as well. At least in my clearest moments I do not believe myself to be any smarter or godlier than anyone else posting, I can assure you of that.

    But you have to understand that IF the Reformed tradition is correct, than any person who is not trusting only in Christ but is looking to His or her works to secure justification in any sense is on their way to hell. It would not be humility to say otherwise but cowardice. Given what I believe Scripture teaches, I cannot look at my Muslim neighbor, see that he does not have the gospel, and then conclude “I’ll just let God decide.” The fact is, God has already decided and told us that those who will not come to Him through Jesus will not have eternal life (John 14:6).

    I sincerely believe that Roman Catholicism teaches a false gospel and that despite all the claims to the contrary, the institutional church does not bring people to God through Christ but tries to bring them to God through all sorts of other means in addition to Christ. I sincerely believe that there are true Christians within the Roman Catholic church, but that these are people who are Christians because they don’t really know what their church teaches. They are people with simple faith in Christ. How can I not conclude that Roman Catholics who knowingly affirm what their church teaches are on their way to hell? You can say that I am wrong. You can disagree with my assessment. You can believe the Reformed tradition is wrong. But it’s not arrogant to say what I have said. If it is, then we just need to end world missions right now and go around telling our neighbors that “Hey, I don’t think you have the gospel, but I won’t pass any kind of judgment on the state of your soul despite what I believe and can see with my own two eyes.”

    There are a lot of arrogant Calvinists. There are a lot of arrogant Roman Catholics. There are even a lot of arrogant Messianic Jews. But if a Roman Catholic tells me that I am going to hell because I knowingly reject its teaching, I do not see them as arrogant. I see them as faithful to their religion. Arrogance is not believing that one is correct. Arrogance is believing that I am correct because I am the one holding the opinion. I don’t think I’m right because I’m saying it. I’ve said nothing new. I think I’m right because I believe it is what Scripture teaches, and I’m not the only one to have reached said conclusions.

    I don’t know if Jason is reading this comment. But he can ban me if he wishes with his software. Or he can tell me to stop visiting and go away. If he were to do that, I would cease posting the moment I read it. All I ask is that no one play the “you’re arrogant and I’m not card.” That in itself seems quite arrogant.

  223. SS–

    I make the presumption because I have known countless Calvinists as close, close friends, who I have known inside and out, and I can assure you that not even you would classify them as arrogant or rude. Therefore, you either you have known very few Calvinists, or you have been deeply hurt by one or several and are no longer capable of forming an objective opinion concerning us.

    I don’t know which Kevin DeYoung posting you were alluding to, but perhaps it was “Does Calvinism Make People Jerks?”

    First off, if you cannot see that Kevin speaks in very modest, very measured tones, then you have–in all seriousness–lost the ability to evaluate the situation objectively.

    His immediate answer to the question: “No. But Calvinism is a useful tool for jerky people to act like jerks.”

    It’s kind of like conservative radio talk show hosts and pundits. Why are they all such jerks? Al Franken and Keith Olberman clearly show that one doesn’t have to be “on the right” to be a jerk, but almost without exception, for some unknown reason, conservative pundits are rudeness personified. This should not reflect on the legitimacy of conservative politics though, should it? Russell Kirk, arguably the founder of the modern conservative movement, was meticulously polite, soft-spoken, and unassuming….

    Here’s DeYoung’s developed answer, in brief, to the question:

    “But if you have a predilection toward nastiness, then developing an intellectually sophisticated set of beliefs that you understand and most people do not will help you immensely in your feelings of superiority and expressions of condescension.”

    Basically, Calvinism is on a par with Thomism intellectually. That’s why we have all the pyrotechnic firework displays between the Reformed and Catholics. It’s a competition! A little simplistic, perhaps, but there’s an element of truth to the explanation.

    Perhaps, SS, you might consider whether you are being a tad too sensitive. The blogosphere is not for the faint of heart, for sure. I have a good deal of animosity toward C2C that I’m sure I should drop. (I’ll do it if you do it!)

    For the most part, people questioning my salvation doesn’t bother me. They’re not the ones who are going to get to judge me. Thank goodness!! When they are concerned, however, I do reevaluate my convictions in light of those concerns. (Some atheists are grateful when we pray for them, realizing that it springs from concern and not judgment.) I would never tell you that a belief in Perseverance is a prerequisite for glory. I would, however, tell you that you are missing one of the quintessential aspects of the beauty of grace.

    Calvin’s rhetoric really does need to be judged partly by the standards of the time. These were life and death issues then. The two sides were at war. We must never excuse him, for there were those who rose above such pettiness. Some of these restrained voices, however…were Reformed.

    And yes, Jason is a consummate gentleman, for which we can all be grateful. (Thank you, Jason!)

  224. SS,

    I’ll second all of what Eric just said. I also want to underscore the fact that a lot of what we call arrogant and rudeness in the modern age simply would not have been seen that way hundreds of years ago. To some degree, those standards are culturally relative. Paul said that he wished the Judaizers would castrate themselves. Granted, Paul was an apostle and Calvin was not, but would we call Paul arrogant and rude for saying that?

  225. SS,

    For what it’s worth:

    I would never say that one cannot be saved if he denies perseverance. I would only say that one cannot be saved if he believes that he can secure his justification by his obedience.

    I would say that the most consistent affirmation of justification by faith alone is made by those who also affirm monergism and perseverance, but I do not deny that a non-Reformed person can be saved. As long as one trusts in Jesus alone and does not put any credit in his obedience for his justification in any sense, I believe that person is in a state of salvation.

  226. Robert and Eric,

    I give you the last word on the things discussed above.

    Re, what you said here Robert:

    1. Jewish believers in Jesus in the first century who were zealous for the law and not Judaizers, were legitimate believers.

    2. There are legitimate believers today who are Messianic Jews who have decided not to join the PCA or any other group but who observe Jewish festivals, etc. etc. and are zealous for the law in the proper sense in that they do not trust in their own law-keeping in any sense as the ground of their justification.

    Very good. My next question, given the above 2 points is this:

    Should the gentile church today strive for a reunification of the one tree of Israel comprised of two branches, a jewish branch, and a gentile branch? This given the apostle Paul’s teaching that we gentiles ought not to boast over the natural branches and say that God has rejected them? (Rom 11)

    If the answer is yes, shouldn’t the first step be to lend an ear to what the Jewish branch’s theologians are saying on salvation, faith, justification, Israel, covenant, supersessionism and so on?

    Thanks

  227. SS–

    The Reformed think of themselves as, first and foremost, not Calvinistic, not even Augustinian, but Pauline. Reformed convictions on salvation, faith, and justification admit to no compromise. (We are, however, quite welcoming for Messianic Jews to accept the teachings of the very Jewish St. Paul.)

    In terms of Israel and the Covenant, we are far more open to dialogue….

    I am, at any rate.

  228. Eric,

    By making conversion to reformed beliefs a prerequisite, are you not implicitly denying the import of a Jewish branch in the tree that is Israel? (that Jewish branch holds to a different understanding of justification, for example).

    The Pauline way, was submission to James and Peter as per Acts 15 and the passage shared above in Acts 21. If Paul willingly sought the approval and advice of James and Peter and the other Jewish elders in Jerusalem, how is it un-Pauline to seek to do the same today by reaching out to Jewish theologians who believe in Messiah?

  229. SS–

    Since there are Jewish Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, and Charismatics; there is no way for you to say that the “Jewish branch” of Christianity holds to a certain understanding of justification. Messianic Judaism is not the only form of Jewish Christianity and has no authority to anathematize any of their ethnic brethren. As I already mentioned, much of Messianic Judaism is probably pretty close to being semi-Pelagian. Would you have me embrace heresy for the sake of “unity”?

    My firm belief is that legitimate, biblical Messianic Judaism would adopt Pauline (i.e., Reformed) soteriology. I believe this is what genuine Jewish believers in the Apostolic era held to. To my mind, Shulam and Juster, if they espouse an unbiblical soteriology, are actually less Jewish in their affinities, not more so.

    That doesn’t mean I will dismiss them out of hand. I will give them a fair hearing. But you haven’t given me any good reason to evaluate them as more authentically Jewish than any other Jewish scholars.

  230. Since there are Jewish Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, and Charismatics; there is no way for you to say that the “Jewish branch” of Christianity holds to a certain understanding of justification. Messianic Judaism is not the only form of Jewish Christianity and has no authority to anathematize any of their ethnic brethren. As I already mentioned, much of Messianic Judaism is probably pretty close to being semi-Pelagian. Would you have me embrace heresy for the sake of “unity”?

    Robert agreed above that there is such a thing as a Messianic Jew who is Jewish in his praxis, just as the ‘many thousands’ of Jewish believers (Acts 21) were in the beginning. Let’s call them the O group, because they were among the very first to embrace Messiah. I assume you agree as well (if not, please state otherwise). Their latter day analogs (such as theologian Joe Shulam), are outside the set believers you describe above, and this, by definition. And they hold to a different understanding of justification than other Messianic Jews who may have converted to reformed, lutheran, baptist etc beliefs. Nowhere am I making a normative claim as to what Messianics should or should not believe. I am merely pointing to group O, i.e., torah observant believers in Messiah.

    My firm belief is that legitimate, biblical Messianic Judaism would adopt Pauline (i.e., Reformed) soteriology. I believe this is what genuine Jewish believers in the Apostolic era held to. To my mind, Shulam and Juster, if they espouse an unbiblical soteriology, are actually less Jewish in their affinities, not more so.

    If you make conversion to reformed soteriology a prerequisite for engagement with the O group, how are you then not affirming an a priori bias against them which contradicts the unity that Paul exemplified in his relationship with James, Peter and other Jewish believers? As stated above, Paul sought the input and permission of that O group. If you reject the O group on a priori basis,one cannot but conclude that you are being more Pauline than Paul was himself in stipulating that these Messianics must agree with you on justification for you to engage with them.

    That doesn’t mean I will dismiss them out of hand. I will give them a fair hearing. But you haven’t given me any good reason to evaluate them as more authentically Jewish than any other Jewish scholars.

    I am not making a relative comparison at all (matter of fact don’t need either), but merely pointing to the existence of the O group, back in Acts 21, and even today, as a separate group altogether. They are the ones (or if you want to argue, part of the ones) whom Paul describes as the natural branches, grafted in by the irrevocable call of God (Romans 11). That should be reason enough for anyone who believes the Scriptures are authoritative, shouldn’t it?

  231. SS–

    By the way, I can find no direct Jewish connection with Molinism though Jewish thought in certain eras might be said to be compatible. Some Jewish groups (e.g., eighteenth and nineteenth-century Hasidic thinkers) actually held to a form of fatalism: God was totally sovereign over the human will. The only freedom possessed was to freely believe in this overarching sovereignty.

    What do Shulam and Juster think of Kabbalah? How might they have been influenced by it? The only currently extant forms of Judaism not totally transformed by either modernity or kabbalistic gnosticism (that I can think of, at any rate) are Samaritanism and Karaitism.

  232. Would be happy to look into your questions. For now, your thoughts on my 12.58pm post?

  233. SS–

    But how can we establish any objective correspondence between your proposed Apostolic “O Group” and the modern “O Group” of Shulam, Juster, and any disciples they might have?

    My sense is that the historic Apostolic “O Group” would be Augustinian/Pauline in its soteriology, and thus Shulam, et al., are not a match.

  234. Jason,

    You said:

    No lengthy preamble this time, you people know what I’m trying to do here.
    If St. Peter believed that we inherit eternal life by the extrinsic imputation of an alien righteousness received through the exercise of a passive and non-contributory faith alone, the concomitant good works of which play no causal role in our final salvation, then for some reason he failed to mention it.

    If, however, he believed that the way to be granted entrance into Christ’s eternal kingdom is by the indwelling Spirit making us partakers of God’s very nature, such that we can add to our faith the love of God and neighbor by which the law is fulfilled, then call me cray-cray, but it seems to me he’d say something like this:
    His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Pet. 1:3-11).
    Some noteworthy points:
    1. The intersection between God and man is not merely covenantal-slash-stipulative, but follows the pattern of the Incarnation, according to which the Son partakes of human nature so that humans can partake of the divine nature.

    “by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,”

    In my opinion, he is speaking of precisely seven promises. The seven Sacraments.

    2. Peter’s list of virtues that must be “added to faith” — culminating in love — is similar to Paul’s insistence that what avails for justification is “faith working through love,” and James’s teaching that we are “not justified by faith alone,” but by faith and Spirit-wrought works. Indeed, sola fide could not be more roundly denied than it is in these passages.

    I completely agree.

    3. The one who fails to supplement his faith with other spiritual fruit is said to be “blind,” despite his “having been cleansed of former sins.”

    1. The Baptized are the elect.
    2. Even they who have been cleansed of sin in Baptism, must add to their faith these virtues.
    3.Note the following in Romans 2:13:
    Romans 2:13
    King James Version (KJV)
    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
    4. Note also that this fits the Sacramental Teaching. Before we approach the Sacraments, we must already be living a life of repentance. Obstinate sinners should not approach the Sacraments or they will commit the sin of sacrilege.

    4. The connection between “practicing these qualities” and being “richly granted entrance into the eternal kingdom” is conditional (as seen from the phrase “if  you do… then  you will be granted”), and corresponds to Paul’s formula already considered: “If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap everlasting life.”

    Revelation 22:12-15
    King James Version (KJV)
    12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
    13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
    14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
    15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

    So yeah, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the actual words Peter wrote correspond pretty closely to the gospel he believed. . . .

    Sounds like a safe bet to me.

  235. But how can we establish any objective correspondence between your proposed Apostolic “O Group” and the modern “O Group” of Shulam, Juster, and any disciples they might have?

    Both groups identify themselves as Jewish believers in Messiah, and are torah observant (in contrast with other jews who convert to various denominations). Scripture foretells of the grafting in again of the Jews into the Israel of God:

    Romans 11:

    “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew

    “24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

    Note the clear separation in Paul’s thought between gentiles and jews (no hint of any conflation of conversion of jews to gentile faith).

    My sense is that the historic Apostolic “O Group” would be Augustinian/Pauline in its soteriology, and thus Shulam, et al., are not a match

    And that is precisely what is in contention here. Your ‘sense’ is an a priori dismissal of the ones grafted back into the tree which begs the question, why would they necessarily hold to reformed soteriology? Because you have decided beforehand that it is true? That does not strike me as a logical argument at all, especially given that Paul is emphatic about the legitimacy of the ones who are grafted back in, by virtue of them being natural branches. Note too, that he considers himself an Israelite (belonging to the natural branch) and says with great conviction that God has not cast away his own, i.e., people like him, Jewish believers in Messiah.

  236. SS–

    1. Many Messianic groups are “Torah-observant,” not just those connected with Shulam and Juster. Why should I accept S & J over these groups?

    2. I’m not going into a far-flung argument as to why I believe the Apostolic “O Group” would be Augustinian. That’s not “begging the question.” That’s shelving the question for the time being.

    3. Are the “natural branches” ethnically Hebrew or religiously Jewish? Most Ashkenazic Jews have precious little Jewish blood left running through their veins. One doesn’t have to have a single drop of Hebrew blood to convert into Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism is a completely different religion from Second Temple Judaism. I doubt Shulam and Juster sacrifice many sheep. Anyone at all can research what the original “O group” may have been like and become as much like them as possible. If they did, they would be as tied to Second-Temple Christian Judaism (often called Jesus-centered Judaism in academia) as any of your current candidates!

    4. You say there was no “conflation” of Jew and Gentile, so of what significance then is the fact that the dividing wall of hostility was broken down, that the Temple was destroyed (making it impossible to obey more than 200 of the 613 mitzvot), or that the two sticks become one stick (Ephraim and Judah)? In what lies our unity as one faith?

  237. 1. Many Messianic groups are “Torah-observant,” not just those connected with Shulam and Juster. Why should I accept S & J over these groups?

    I am not asking you to accept them, per se. Far less than that, I am asking you if it is at all possible that they may be the very natural branches which Paul speaks of in Romans 11. In my view, Shulam’s academic work is second to none (I have yet to read any theologian, and I mean any, who has analyzed the Scriptures in their jewish context to the extent that he has. He is very unassuming in his videos, but fierce and painstakingly exhaustive in his commentaries. If you don’t own them, get his on Galatians). He has, in the words of Paul, ‘studied to show himself approved’. A telling sign to me is this: he fully recognizes and teaches that circumcision and the Mosaic Law is not binding upon gentiles, but only the Law of Christ. He affirms the Deity of Christ, arguing from the Old Testament only (as the Bereans did, to their satisfaction, they who are described as noble and good in the Scriptures). So right off the bat, I think Shulam has enormous street cred with gentiles, and is worthy of at the very minimum our attention. Now, note that my argument does not rest on Shulam. It rests on the promise which Paul speaks of that the natural branches will be ingrafted again. So it’s not a question of whether Jewish believers have the truth, instead, it’s a question of which ones.

    2. I’m not going into a far-flung argument as to why I believe the Apostolic “O Group” would be Augustinian. That’s not “begging the question.” That’s shelving the question for the time being.

    Whether you want to call it begging or shelving, to me it’s the same thing.

    3. Are the “natural branches” ethnically Hebrew or religiously Jewish? Most Ashkenazic Jews have precious little Jewish blood left running through their veins. One doesn’t have to have a single drop of Hebrew blood to convert into Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism is a completely different religion from Second Temple Judaism. I doubt Shulam and Juster sacrifice many sheep. Anyone at all can research what the original “O group” may have been like and become as much like them as possible. If they did, they would be as tied to Second-Temple Christian Judaism (often called Jesus-centered Judaism in academia) as any of your current candidates!

    The natural branches by definition are ethnically Hebrew and religiously observant. You can take an ultra skeptical view of their ethnicity, but that is an unreasonable stance in my view, since that would reduce Paul’s exclamations in Rom 11 to meaningless statements. If God is able to regraft natural branches, then by definition, the natural branches involve ethnic Jews in their own right.

    4. You say there was no “conflation” of Jew and Gentile, so of what significance then is the fact that the dividing wall of hostility was broken down, that the Temple was destroyed (making it impossible to obey more than 200 of the 613 mitzvot), or that the two sticks become one stick (Ephraim and Judah)? In what lies our unity as one faith?

    The quotation of Acts 21 above proves that there was no dividing wall of hostility. Peter, before his lapse into hypocrisy, sat with the gentiles and ate with them. Paul, as a Jew, did the same. Paul, a Jew, took a message which had beforehand approved by other Jews, to the gentiles. They existed side by side, under the leadership of James, Peter etc. That the temple was destroyed in no way removes the irrevocable call of God (see Rom 11 again). He will graft them in, Paul says. Our unity in the faith should be lying, if we care to be truthful to Scripture, in the ONE faith/tree, comprised of TWO branches (natural/wild, jewish/gentile).

  238. Hi Robert,

    You wouldn’t happen to be the fellow I know as Bob, would you?

    You said:

    I sincerely believe that Roman Catholicism teaches a false gospel and that despite all the claims to the contrary, the institutional church does not bring people to God through Christ but tries to bring them to God through all sorts of other means in addition to Christ.

    Such as?

    I sincerely believe that there are true Christians within the Roman Catholic church, but that these are people who are Christians because they don’t really know what their church teaches.

    I sincerely believe the opposite. Those Catholics, in the Catholic Church, who do not understand or believe the Teachings of the Catholic Church are in grave danger of destroying their salvation.

    Mark 16:16
    King James Version (KJV)
    16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    They are people with simple faith in Christ.

    Simple faith, entails obedience.

    Hebrews 13:17
    King James Version (KJV)
    17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

    Hebrews 5:9
    And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

    How can I not conclude that Roman Catholics who knowingly affirm what their church teaches are on their way to hell?

    You may come to any conclusion you want. But what does it profit you to do so?
    1 Corinthians 4:3-5
    King James Version (KJV)
    3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

    You can say that I am wrong.

    You are wrong.

    You can disagree with my assessment.

    I disagree.

    You can believe the Reformed tradition is wrong.

    I believe the Reformed tradition is wrong.

    But it’s not arrogant to say what I have said. If it is, then we just need to end world missions right now and go around telling our neighbors that “Hey, I don’t think you have the gospel, but I won’t pass any kind of judgment on the state of your soul despite what I believe and can see with my own two eyes.”

    But you can’t see anyone’s soul with your own eyes. Otherwise, you would be God.

    1 Samuel 16:7
    King James Version (KJV)
    7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

    Sooo…let’s see whose teachings stand up to Scripture. Yours or the Catholic Church’s. I’m ready when you are.

  239. SS,

    You asked:

    Should the gentile church today strive for a reunification of the one tree of Israel comprised of two branches, a jewish branch, and a gentile branch? This given the apostle Paul’s teaching that we gentiles ought not to boast over the natural branches and say that God has rejected them? (Rom 11)

    Yes. The church should strive for reunification, but it is to be a unity based on the gospel. If a Gentile group or Jewish group professes Christ but does not have the biblical gospel, they cannot be considered a branch but are in need of salvation.

    Gentiles should not go around saying that God has rejected the Jews, and to be honest, I’ve never met a Protestant or Roman Catholic who would say that. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but none of the people in the evangelical Reformed circles that I run in would say that God has rejected the Jews.

    I would say, in fact, that the Reformed tradition, when practiced consistently has a significant advantage over all other Protestant groups in relating to the Jews, addressing their concerns, and listening to them. I think you might find this article on Jewish evangelization and the Reformed tradition interesting. I would agree with basically everything Dr. Richard Pratt says therein: http://goo.gl/AzVvC

    I am happy to listen to Jews who profess Jesus as Messiah. I am not super familiar with Shulam’s work, but I am going to get his Galatians commentary. That link to the final part of his olive tree presentation on YouTube (with the illustration of the dry olive tree being planted and coming back to life) was interesting and I did not find anything objectionable in it. I did not hear the rest of the presentation however. I will say this, however. If Shulam believes that our good works, love, or other deed are a constituent part of justification, then I would say he does not have the gospel. I am trusting you to have summarized his views accurately, however, so I don’t know how he qualifies that, explains it, etc. I’ll know better once I get his commentary. There are some other concerns I have, however, and I’ll list them below.

    If the answer is yes, shouldn’t the first step be to lend an ear to what the Jewish branch’s theologians are saying on salvation, faith, justification, Israel, covenant, supersessionism and so on?

    Here is the rub and the point where you and I differ, I think. You mention in another comment that the Jewish branch has a different understanding of justification, for example. I do not agree. That is because I believe a Jew (or Gentile) is not part of any branch of the tree of Israel if he has a theology of justification that says our works contribute to, merit, secure, are a constituent part of, or otherwise contribute to our final justification.

    For some reason, I think you see that as boasting, but I disagree. I am willing to listen to Jewish Christian theologians on any number of topics, address their concerns, and otherwise recognize that the gospel is for the Jews first. But my understanding of Scripture is that justification is by faith alone, and until someone can show me that the Bible teaches otherwise, I cannot accept one who denies that fundamental gospel truth as a brother in Christ. I can wish him well. I can be friends with him. But I cannot say we are both a part of God’s people. If the Reformed tradition is right on justification, I can do no less.

    That’s not to say that the traditional Reformed doctrine of justification is the last word on the subject or that there is no room for adjustments from Jewish thinkers. But it is to say that I believe this fundamental point of the doctrine is exegetically sound and non-negotiable: Justification is by faith in Christ alone and our good works do not in any way contribute to our righteous standing before God. Good works are the fruit of justification, but God does not take them into account in declaring us righteous.

    You say that the Jewish branch of the one Israel in Christ has a different theology of justification, but I think that is because you are limiting the Jewish branch, by and large, to a group of Jews who hold the same beliefs of men such as Shulam. While I would not necessarily agree with every belief of the Jews for Jesus, I would view that group as part of the Jewish branch and must say that no Gentile can call them mere converts to Christianity or unJewish because they don’t hold to what I think is Shulam’s view of justification (if Shulam’s view matches yours, essentially). This is what the Jews for Jesus say:

    We believe that Jesus the Messiah died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice; that all who believe in Him are justified, not by any works of righteousness they have done, but by His perfect righteousness and atoning blood and that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

    There is nothing in that statement that I would or could disagree with biblically.

  240. SS,

    I have visited Shulam’s site and have looked at some of his articles and newsletters. He is right to argue that the Gentile Christians have not paid enough heed to Messianic Jews. But I am very concerned that he does not seem compelled to use the traditional Trinitarian language of Nicea. Now, one can have an orthodox view of the Trinity without using that terminology. You just have to believe there is one God, that the three persons are co-equal in dignity, power, glory, and so on, and that the Father is not the Son who is not the Spirit. However, when a person does not feel compelled to use language that was carefully developed over several centuries, and for which many people died, I am concerned that there is a kind of reverse arrogance going on. To refuse to use that language because it was developed largely by Gentiles is tantamount, in my mind, to saying that the Holy Spirit was not working in the church at that time, that the gates of hell were prevailing against it, that Gentile Christian ideas are automatically wrong or suspect if no Jewish Christian was present at the discussion, and that Gentiles and Jews are not on equal footing before God. I realize that you, nor Shulam, would not likely say that, but you have to see how Gentile Christians would view such thinking as arrogant even if we have been arrogant toward Messianic Jews.

    I sometimes get the impression that you believe men such as Shulam have an automatic advantage over the rest of the church in understanding the Bible because they grew up in Jewish homes and were taught Hebrew from an early age. Now, I would say that there are some advantages linguistically and, in Shulam’s case, geographically because living in Israel cannot help but make many of the illustrations of Scripture come alive. But I cannot agree that he has an intrinsic advantage theologically simply because he is Jewish, and that is largely because the Judaism he grew up in was not the Judaism from which the New Testament emerged. Rabbinic Judaism is a non-biblical religion that honors the Tanakh but, at the end of the day, does disobeys it. First-century Jews had an inherent advantage over Gentiles in understanding Jesus, the New Testament, and so on. But the same advantage does not automatically carry over today because modern Judaism is not biblical Judaism.

    That is not to say that one cannot gain an advantage in understanding the New Testament by studying Second Temple Judaism, the first century, and so on. Here and there, a modern Jew might have quicker insight because he carries with him some traditions that do go back that far. But at the end of the day, a Gentile who carries out the same type of study is just as well-equipped as any Jew who does so. Stephen Westerholm, Douglas Moo, Tom Schreiner, D.A. Carson, Greg Beale, and many other Gentiles are as studied as someone like you or Shulam, if not more so, and they come to very different conclusions than you do on justification. We don’t decide which side is right based on ethnicity. Again, in my mind, to believe modern Messianic Jews possess an inherent advantage in understanding Scripture or doing exegesis because they are Jewish comes close to Jewish branches boasting over the Gentile ones. When it comes to listening, a man such as Shulam needs to listen to Gentile Christians no less than Gentile Christians need to listen to Messianic Jews.

    The gospel is for the Jew first, then the Gentile. Jews, insofar as they affirm biblical Judaism, have the covenants, the promises, the patriarchs, and other blessings. Once the Gentiles were not a part of the covenant and were without hope in the world. We owe them everything, so to speak. But now Gentiles have been brought into God’s people in Christ, and we have the Holy Spirit. Insofar as Gentiles exegete the Bible carefully and rightly, they are actually listening to the Jews even if no Messianic Jew is sitting next to them. After all, with the possible exception of Luke-Acts, the Jews wrote the Bible.

    I hope you receive that with the humble and honest spirit in which it was offered. Professing Christians have much to repent for concerning the history of anti-Semitism in church history. By God’s grace, much has changed. By God’s grace, more needs to change. History is messy. All sides have been guilty of arrogance. Divisions in the church are always caused by sin—either the sin of party that leaves, the sin of party that stays, or the sin of both. I pray that such changes.

    BTW, I just ordered Shulam’s commentary.

  241. test

  242. Yes. The church should strive for reunification, but it is to be a unity based on the gospel. If a Gentile group or Jewish group professes Christ but does not have the biblical gospel, they cannot be considered a branch but are in need of salvation.

    Gentiles should not go around saying that God has rejected the Jews, and to be honest, I’ve never met a Protestant or Roman Catholic who would say that. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but none of the people in the evangelical Reformed circles that I run in would say that God has rejected the Jews.

    I would say, in fact, that the Reformed tradition, when practiced consistently has a significant advantage over all other Protestant groups in relating to the Jews, addressing their concerns, and listening to them. I think you might find this article on Jewish evangelization and the Reformed tradition interesting. I would agree with basically everything Dr. Richard Pratt says therein: http://goo.gl/AzVvC

    Thanks for the link, will listen to it. I am surprised that you say below that you don’t have any objections to Shulam’s youtube video, because in it he says:

    “Replacement theology is one of the biggest plagues in Christianity and one of the biggest wrongs wrought in the history of the church, because every church believes that they are the elect of God and the others are not…protestants split from the catholic church and they kept splitting and splitting and each one thinks, ok, we are the Israel of God , and the jews they are nothing. And this is directly opposed to what Paul says in Romans 11 when he asks has God rejected His people, the answer is no.”

    I am happy to listen to Jews who profess Jesus as Messiah. I am not super familiar with Shulam’s work, but I am going to get his Galatians commentary. That link to the final part of his olive tree presentation on YouTube (with the illustration of the dry olive tree being planted and coming back to life) was interesting and I did not find anything objectionable in it. I did not hear the rest of the presentation however. I will say this, however. If Shulam believes that our good works, love, or other deed are a constituent part of justification, then I would say he does not have the gospel. I am trusting you to have summarized his views accurately, however, so I don’t know how he qualifies that, explains it, etc. I’ll know better once I get his commentary. There are some other concerns I have, however, and I’ll list them below.

    As I said to Eric, if that is your litmus test, then it is logically flawed on the grounds that it is an a priori rejection of a different understanding of justification. I point to Paul’s prophecy in Romans 11 which states that the natural branches will be grafted in again. My argument rests on the irrevocable promise of God to His people, that He is able to graft them back in. And when I see someone like Shulam or Juster, faithfully upholding the Deity of Christ as their Messiah, and living their lives out of faithfulness to Him, I see no reason whatsoever to dismiss what they are saying a priori. Matter of fact, considering the weightiness of Shulam as a theologian, I cannot but conclude that here is a man who has studied to show himself approved and must be contended with.

    For some reason, I think you see that as boasting, but I disagree. I am willing to listen to Jewish Christian theologians on any number of topics, address their concerns, and otherwise recognize that the gospel is for the Jews first. But my understanding of Scripture is that justification is by faith alone, and until someone can show me that the Bible teaches otherwise, I cannot accept one who denies that fundamental gospel truth as a brother in Christ. I can wish him well. I can be friends with him. But I cannot say we are both a part of God’s people. If the Reformed tradition is right on justification, I can do no less.

    I understand your reticence, since I was once a Protestant myself and very skeptical of all jewish claims (including jews for jesus). However, in the light of Romans 11, I cannot conclude otherwise: an a priori rejection of Jewish believers who hold to a non reformed understanding of justification is nothing else but boasting. This because not only that it is the root that supports the gentiles (Christ), but the latter also share in the “fatness of the Olive tree”, meaning that Paul is saying that gentiles are nourished by the Olive tree as well. The root is Jewish and the natural branches are Jewish and the unnatural branches are gentile, grafted in contrary to nature.

    That’s not to say that the traditional Reformed doctrine of justification is the last word on the subject or that there is no room for adjustments from Jewish thinkers. But it is to say that I believe this fundamental point of the doctrine is exegetically sound and non-negotiable: Justification is by faith in Christ alone and our good works do not in any way contribute to our righteous standing before God. Good works are the fruit of justification, but God does not take them into account in declaring us righteous.

    You say that the Jewish branch of the one Israel in Christ has a different theology of justification, but I think that is because you are limiting the Jewish branch, by and large, to a group of Jews who hold the same beliefs of men such as Shulam. While I would not necessarily agree with every belief of the Jews for Jesus, I would view that group as part of the Jewish branch and must say that no Gentile can call them mere converts to Christianity or unJewish because they don’t hold to what I think is Shulam’s view of justification (if Shulam’s view matches yours, essentially). This is what the Jews for Jesus say:

    We believe that Jesus the Messiah died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice; that all who believe in Him are justified, not by any works of righteousness they have done, but by His perfect righteousness and atoning blood and that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

    There is nothing in that statement that I would or could disagree with biblically

    I believe that the Messianic Jewish debate is an intramural one. I do not have any interest in adjucating for one side, that is something that only they as ethnic jews have the privilege of doing. My focus is simply on a subset of Messianic Jews and I ask the question: can you afford to ignore them?

    “24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches , be grafted into their own olive tree?

    Now, one could try and fit “Jews for Jesus” and only those jews who agree with their doctrine into “natural branches” above, but this is hardly a maneuver that inspires confidence. It begs the question, why restrict the natural branches to those who are in agreement with certain forms of the gentile faith? (As a matter of fact, Jews for Jesus in the secular world is considered as an evangelical christian movement). Don’t the natural branches also include torah observant Jews who believe in Messiah and wouldn’t that be the more natural reading of the verse? What if the latter are right in their intramural debate with Jews for Jesus? If so, then why should the gentile church de facto ignore what these torah observant Jewish believers have to say? When you look to Acts 21, you find many thousands of jewish believers who were zealous for the law. Today, it is estimated that there are 100,000 jewish believers in Israel, of whom many are torah observant and hold to a different understanding of justification. To me, this is nothing short of the fulfilment of Romans 11, with great implications for our ecclesiology and our doctrinal epistemology.

  243. I have visited Shulam’s site and have looked at some of his articles and newsletters. He is right to argue that the Gentile Christians have not paid enough heed to Messianic Jews. But I am very concerned that he does not seem compelled to use the traditional Trinitarian language of Nicea. Now, one can have an orthodox view of the Trinity without using that terminology. You just have to believe there is one God, that the three persons are co-equal in dignity, power, glory, and so on, and that the Father is not the Son who is not the Spirit. However, when a person does not feel compelled to use language that was carefully developed over several centuries, and for which many people died, I am concerned that there is a kind of reverse arrogance going on. To refuse to use that language because it was developed largely by Gentiles is tantamount, in my mind, to saying that the Holy Spirit was not working in the church at that time, that the gates of hell were prevailing against it, that Gentile Christian ideas are automatically wrong or suspect if no Jewish Christian was present at the discussion, and that Gentiles and Jews are not on equal footing before God. I realize that you, nor Shulam, would not likely say that, but you have to see how Gentile Christians would view such thinking as arrogant even if we have been arrogant toward Messianic Jews.

    Regarding your concern about Shulam’s understanding of God. He derives His understanding of the divinity and Deity of Christ through the Old Testament. Why fault him for that, when the Bereans did the exact same thing in response to Paul’s preaching the Gospel to them and when the Scriptures bear witness to their nobility for doing such? Will you then also argue that the Bereans had to use Trinitarian language from Nicea to be kosher? You see, salvation is for the Jew first, says Paul. Then the gentile. We in the West have gotten this wrong from very early on. It is the root and the fatness of the olive tree that the unnatural branches were meant to partake of. The brunt of the injustice in church history is OVERWHELMINGLY towards the jews and jewish believers. Can anyone argue otherwise? They were denied a rightful place at the table, so much so that even Paul had to contend with what whatever anti jewish sentiment was germinating in Rome, hence chapter 11. The arrogance in the councils post Jerusalem was in denying Jewish believers in Christ a seat at the table/councils. They had to be converts to be acceptable and to have admission.

    I sometimes get the impression that you believe men such as Shulam have an automatic advantage over the rest of the church in understanding the Bible because they grew up in Jewish homes and were taught Hebrew from an early age. Now, I would say that there are some advantages linguistically and, in Shulam’s case, geographically because living in Israel cannot help but make many of the illustrations of Scripture come alive. But I cannot agree that he has an intrinsic advantage theologically simply because he is Jewish, and that is largely because the Judaism he grew up in was not the Judaism from which the New Testament emerged. Rabbinic Judaism is a non-biblical religion that honors the Tanakh but, at the end of the day, does disobeys it. First-century Jews had an inherent advantage over Gentiles in understanding Jesus, the New Testament, and so on. But the same advantage does not automatically carry over today because modern Judaism is not biblical Judaism.

    I believe someone like Shulam has a tremendous advantage because of the promises of God to him. He is a natural branch as an ethnic jew who believes in Messiah. Will you deny him that? That’s #1. #2, he has studied to show himself approved, for 50 years+ now and is considered one of the best, if not the heaviest Messianic Jewish theologian out there today. If there is such a thing as studying to show oneself approved and immersing oneself into jewish culture, then Shulam has done it. He studied at the best Yeshiva in Israel for years, with Jews, when they only take Jews. What gentile theologian can say the same? Can we write off his learning there merely because current Judaism differs from second temple Judaism? I think this is unreasonable. Shulam has gone as far as one can go, as a believer in Messiah.

    That is not to say that one cannot gain an advantage in understanding the New Testament by studying Second Temple Judaism, the first century, and so on. Here and there, a modern Jew might have quicker insight because he carries with him some traditions that do go back that far. But at the end of the day, a Gentile who carries out the same type of study is just as well-equipped as any Jew who does so. Stephen Westerholm, Douglas Moo, Tom Schreiner, D.A. Carson, Greg Beale, and many other Gentiles are as studied as someone like you or Shulam, if not more so, and they come to very different conclusions than you do on justification. We don’t decide which side is right based on ethnicity. Again, in my mind, to believe modern Messianic Jews possess an inherent advantage in understanding Scripture or doing exegesis because they are Jewish comes close to Jewish branches boasting over the Gentile ones. When it comes to listening, a man such as Shulam needs to listen to Gentile Christians no less than Gentile Christians need to listen to Messianic Jews.

    See above. Shulam has done a lot of listening to Gentiles, having lived in the US. But as he himself states in his video, it is the gentile church which bears the brunt of the non-listening, not the other way around.

    The gospel is for the Jew first, then the Gentile. Jews, insofar as they affirm biblical Judaism, have the covenants, the promises, the patriarchs, and other blessings. Once the Gentiles were not a part of the covenant and were without hope in the world. We owe them everything, so to speak. But now Gentiles have been brought into God’s people in Christ, and we have the Holy Spirit. Insofar as Gentiles exegete the Bible carefully and rightly, they are actually listening to the Jews even if no Messianic Jew is sitting next to them. After all, with the possible exception of Luke-Acts, the Jews wrote the Bible.

    This is the problem in my view: Paul, whom you claim as your own, never held the view that Gentiles were self sufficient and autodidacts by virtue of the fact that they were given the Holy Spirit. That is the very genesis for his statement that it is the root which supports you and you partake of the fatness of the Olive Tree. Further, the Bible speaks to the existence of a church in the beginning, where the leadership was exclusively Jewish and where permission had to be sought from them, before a Gospel was preached to the gentiles. Now that is not to say that today leadership must necessarily be 100% jewish, but the fact that it is 100% gentile, with each gentile group claiming orthodoxy as Shulam says, could not be any further from the Biblical and Scriptural model of the church as it was intended to be, a light to the world.

    I hope you receive that with the humble and honest spirit in which it was offered. Professing Christians have much to repent for concerning the history of anti-Semitism in church history. By God’s grace, much has changed. By God’s grace, more needs to change. History is messy. All sides have been guilty of arrogance. Divisions in the church are always caused by sin—either the sin of party that leaves, the sin of party that stays, or the sin of both. I pray that such changes.

    I pray with you.

    BTW, I just ordered Shulam’s commentary.

    Great. It’s not cheap, but worth every penny.

  244. I have a request for Eric and Robert: you guys have all sorts of commentaries by Schreiner, Siegfried, Moo, Westerholm, Campbell, Kim, Das and so on. Can you peruse them for any interaction with Messianic Jewish theologians? (index?). Can you find references to Shulam/Le Cornu, Nanos, Juster, Kinzer among others in the literature?

    I think this could be a good heuristic for the ‘who’s listening to who’ argument. In the commentary to Galatians, Shulam is all over the place, contending with Wright, Dunn, Abegg, Hays and so on.

  245. In keeping with the title of this thread, here is another quote from Joe Shulam’s commentary on Galatians:

    “In the light ofthe above, “justification” represents a person’s possession of the keys to God’s Kingdom – firstly through Jesus’ death and resurrection and secondly in his/her faithfulness to God in loving his/her neighbour in walking in God’s Spirit: “For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…Structurally, Paul’s understanding of justification is based, in Galatians, upon his rebuke of Peter’s rebuke of Peter’s hypocrisy – this being the place in which Paul himself introduces the term. On analogy with rabbinic texts which speak of hypocrisy as constituted by an emphasis on Torah -study to the neglect of the “fear of heaven”, Paul stresses that both Torah-study and the fear of heaven are necessary for access to God’s Kingdom. Paul’s remarks – according to the reading of the text – rely heavily (conceptually, if not historically) upon Jesus’ denunciation of Pharasaic hypocrisy in Matthew 23. Jesus himself appears to be quoting Micah 6:8 in the latter passage – with a hint towards Habakkuk 2:4 in mention of “faithfulness”: “hypocrites….[you] have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness, but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others” (Mt 23:23)….

    It is herein suggested than when Paul speaks of “faithfulness” in 2:15-21, he does not imply a “belief in” Jesus but refers to the “intention” with which a person is enabled to serve God. The Jewish believer will be hypocritical in saying that his Torah observance is sufficient to gain him/her entry into the God’s Kingdom without the “fear of heaven” or “intention” which gives practice its purpose (cf. Rom 2:12-29). The Gentile – who is “by nature a sinner” – has now by God’s grace, been given access to God’s Kingdom by Jesus’ removal of the barrier of sin in human nature. “Justification” on this interpretation is tantamount to inheritance in the Kingdom, walking “within the margin of judgment” being equivalent to “walking in the Spirit”

    Jason, I thought you’d be interested in reading this, as it relates to participation in the Divine Nature, from a Messianic Jewish perspective.

  246. SS,

    I guess my short answer to all of what you have said is that there has been theological development in the church history and that, in fact, God’s plan is for growth in understanding:

    And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Eph. 4:11–14

    So, no I would not hold the Bereans accountable to use Nicean language. I wouldn’t hold anyone prior to Nicea to using that language. Like I said, one can be an orthodox Trinitarian without using that language. It is the seeming refusal to use that language that concerns me.

    Many professing Christians have been guilty of anti-Semitism, yes. But that does not automatically mean the Gentiles didn’t come up with the best way of expressing at least certain doctrines.

    I would never say that one has to affirm the Reformed expression of justification in order to be a true Christian or to receive a hearing. I believe the Reformed teaching is the best summary and expression of the Bible’s teaching on the matter, but as long as one confesses that their works are not a constituent part of their justification, I would say that such a person is a believer. Paul speaks against those who want to add works of the law to their faith for justification. One only has to believe on the name of the Lord to be saved; he doesn’t have to have all the intricacies of imputation worked out, though one is better equipped, I think, for doing so. But part and parcel of believing on the name is abandoning all attempts to secure one’s right standing before God. That is why the Reformed have traditionally recognized anyone who confesses that their works play no role in their justification as a person who has saving faith.

    My commentaries are at work, but off the top of my head, if Shulam’s work is not addressed in these commentaries it would not surprise me. First, it appears that many of Shulam’s works were published after some of the commentaries I have (I could be wrong about this). Second, if Shulam is not being published in theological journals, few are going to know who he is. Third, his work in the U.S. is not as readily available, it seems. I could only find the Galatians commentary, and then not on Amazon but at CBD. Fourth, if he does not have a doctorate and does not run in scholarly circles, people with doctorates and who run in scholarly circles are less likely to know him. That is not a good thing. Scholarly circles are too internalized and cut off from the world. There are many people who are fine scholars who never earned a recognized doctorate. Finally, it could also be that some of these men have read Shulam’s work and do not find it worth addressing. There have been thousands of commentaries published on the book of Galatians throughout church history, one cannot address all of them.

    I guess all that is to say is that there is not some conspiracy of Gentile Christians trying to ignore Jews who profess faith in Jesus. If there is any neglect, I would say it is accidental, not necessarily excusable, but accidental. Professional scholars do not have the best reputation of coming down from their “ivory towers,” as it were.

    If Shulam believes what I think he does, then I don’t think he’s promoting anything substantially different from the Judaizers’ gospel. He may not want to impose circumcision on Gentile Christians, and good for him. But one can add works of the law to faith for one’s justification in other ways.

    If I didn’t think the Reformed have the best expression of the biblical gospel, I wouldn’t be Reformed. And I wasn’t always so strong in my convictions. I am Reformed by choice, but not without a lot of fighting against Reformed theology. I even used to have a much higher view of Roman Catholicism than I do now.

    I do not say one must be Reformed, though I believe the non-Reformed miss out on a lot of the riches of the gospel. But if the Reformed have gotten the whole “faith alone thing” essentially right, and I believe that they have, it is only natural for me or any other Reformed person to view people who do not agree as suspect. When a person, Jew or Gentile, comes preaching a gospel that we believe is not substantially different from the Judaizers, why would we think they deserve a greater hearing? Remember, too, that the Judaizers were otherwise orthodox except for trying to impose the law upon Gentile Christians as a means of justification. So, if Shulam affirms the deity of Christ, and it seems that he does, then good for him. But that does not automatically mean he has the gospel.

    Again, my concern is that you seem to think someone like him automatically deserves a greater hearing simply because he grew up Jewish and has Jewish blood. A Jew who believes in Jesus and then becomes a Reformed Old Testament scholar is no less Jewish, and no less worthy of a hearing. Such a man would have a different gospel than the one that Shulam appears to advocate. Here and there, God has been grafting the natural olive branches back into the one tree of Israel for centuries. Perhaps we should listen to their voices as well as “authentically Jewish” and not dismiss them simply because they don’t follow the Jewish festivals any more.

    That being said, Shulam’s Galatians commentary is on the way to my office.

  247. Robert,

    It seems to me that you want to restrict the natural branches to jews who have converted to the reformed faith or one of the many other denominations. That is basically question begging, given the promises of God in Romans 11, which I don’t see you interacting with.

    So you do not recognize Shulam as one of the natural branches grafted in basically on the basis of an a priori bias against him. That to me, is the readily apparent problem. I recognize that there are various Messianics, but I don’t think it’s up to us gentiles to decide that a Torah observant Jew cannot be a natural branch because his understanding of justification is at variance with the reformed understanding. Salvation is for the jew first, then the gentile. I think gentiles today are in dire need of the ‘fatness of the olive tree’.

  248. Robert,

    You wrote:

    “I believe the Reformed teaching is the best summary and expression of the Bible’s teaching on the matter, but as long as one confesses that their works are not a constituent part of their justification, I would say that such a person is a believer.”

    James wrote:

    21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
    22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
    23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”-and he was called a friend of God.
    24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2).

    I’m not asking this to sound like a jerk, but how do you reconcile what you said with what the Bible says here? My concern is that you’re robbing Scripture to pay your system.

    I’m not trying to isolate you so as to pick on you but, again, I want to offer that you may be so steeped in a particular system that you are being hindered from listening to Scripture and being able to actually speak as Scripture does.

    Peace

  249. “I believe the Reformed teaching is the best summary and expression of the Bible’s teaching on the matter, but as long as one confesses that their works are not a constituent part of their justification, I would say that such a person is a believer.”

    Robert,

    I know you are allergic to parables :-), but here’s another one: the unforgiving servant. Jesus tells the story of the servant who is forgiven an enormous debt but then refuses to forgive a much smaller debt. The end is terrible for him. And yet, he had had his sins forgiven prior to his refusal to forgive his fellow servant. If he had his sins forgiven, how was he ‘not really saved’? He was saved/forgiven, but upon refusing to forgive his neighbor (a work enabled by the Spirit), and resisting the Spirit he forfeits his prior reconciliation/justification with God.

    “If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds , live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.” (1 Peter 1:17)

    “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works , as recorded in the books. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. ” (Revelation 20:12-13)

    “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded”

  250. Shawn,

    I follow John Calvin on James 2. Basically, James is not talking about the same thing as Paul is. Paul is talking about what makes us right before the bar of God’s justice, namely faith alone. James is talking about the kind of faith that justifies us, a faith that is living an active, a faith that works through love, as Paul says. But the love itself, being a work, is not the grounds for our justification.

    I know you are not picking on me. 🙂 But I will say that the Roman church, with its treasury of merit, indulgences, Immaculate Conception, papal infallibility, praying to/through the saints, purgatory, sacramental priesthood, and more is not really in a position to criticize Protestants for not speaking as Scripture speaks or for “forcing” Scripture to fit their system.

  251. SS,

    I’m not allergic to parables, I just want them to be interpreted in their proper context in Jesus’ teaching ministry and the apostolic letters. A context that includes John 6:

    37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    1. The Father has given the Son a people.
    2. Those who believe on the Son have eternal life and are raised up on the last day
    3. Jesus will not cast out those who come to him, these are the ones whom the Father has given to Him and come to Him.

    If one can have eternal life at one point and then lose it the next, it is not eternal life.

    I believe we will be rewarded according to our works, but that these works are not the grounds by which one gets into heaven/is justified. First we’re justifed, then we work. Not first we’re justified, then we work, then we are justified again.

    Abraham was not justified by His faithful obedience to the law, He was justified by faith alone. That is Paul’s point. If justification is by faithfulness in the sense that said faithfulness is the ground for our justification, Abraham and David could not be examples of those who were not justified by the law. The only way the OT Jew could exhibit faithfulness was to obey the OT law.

    If Abraham and David had faith, they had the Spirit in some sense, if only proleptically. Otherwise they are saved in a different manner than NT believers, and Paul’s point that we are saved in the same manner as Abraham and David falls flat. The OT and NT law are substantially the same, at least in their moral aspects. If Abraham and David could not be justified by it even if they walked in it according to the Spirit in some sense, we can’t be justified by walking in the same law in the same Spirit either.

  252. Robert,
    Here comes some paradigm dynamite: I’m not a part of the Roman church. So your comments regarding indulgences, the papacy etc. are not a rebuttal against me.
    What I’m still suggesting is that your paradigm doesn’t give the best accounting for how Scripture actually speaks with regard to justification. If you say that works can have no role in our justification, then that is problematic in light of James 2 regardless of Calvin’s take on that passage. Again, how does James speak, and how can we get our articulation in line with him as well as Paul? There’ve been centuries of robbing James to pay Paul, and that really has to stop because this robbing has made us allergic (to use SS’s phrasing) to how Scripture uses vocabulary. In other words, systematics has been overwhelming the Bible, and this is not a good thing.
    I want to suggest this as a probable reading of James 2: God can and does make the declaration “righteous” of persons who do good works, which of course must be rooted in faith in the one true God. Systematizing this with passages like Rom. 2.6-16, Rom. 8.1-17 and Gal. 6.7-8 yields a paradigm in which our Spirit-wrought works can result in the declaration over us of “righteous” because in Christ our sin-debt is cancelled. This is not a system of earning anything. It is a system of God’s being able to transform a people in his Son into his own adopted children whose works will result in a righteous verdict at the last day.
    One more brief point: I want to suggest that you leave greater room for conditions in your reading of John 6 and other like passages. Scripture is abundantly clear that justification, life etc. can be forfeited because people can sever themselves from Christ. Apostasy is a sad reality. Judas was one given to Christ but he fell away because he did not persist in faith. In this regard I want to suggest an Augustinian framework of predestination to grace vs. predestination to glory.

  253. +JMJ+

    SS wrote:

    “In these things, the Jews had no exclusivity over the Moslems or the Hindus or the Aztecs or whomever.”
    .
    No less than Christ speaking:
    .
    John 4:22
    “22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.”
    .
    This is an exclusive claim, no matter what the angle you approach it from.

    Thanks for the provisional comment [compliment], I’ll have to disagree on the note of caution.

    It seems to me that you are just reinforcing my point. But in order to understand my point, you need to make a distinction between Jewish culture as considered in its continuity/organic connectedness to a Person and Jewish culture as considered in its abstracts and theo-philosophical artifacts.

    Salvation [of the Jews] is a personal, organic reality. Not a systematic, abstract, theoretical one. In the abstract and systematic things (such as, to use my example, in contemplating the Mystery of Grace and Freedom), the Jews and the Christians and the Pagans are all on common ground. And that’s good. If you find this Common Wisdom to be most amenable to your dispositions when it’s provisionally clothed in Jewish garb, then that’s great for you. I’m glad to hear it. From thus comes my conditional compliment.

    But on to my note of caution… If modern Jewish culture has no continuous, personal and organic connection to the Christ, then you should know that what they are giving you systematically is nothing special. (Nor would it be made any more special even if their culture did have such a personal and organic connection.) It’s nothing that the Moslems or Hindus can’t give you. It’s nothing that the Christians can’t give you. We, all of us, have these Mysteries of Nature in common. And that’s a good thing. But if you believe that the Jews have some some secret, systematic “in” with truth, then I believe that you’re getting hung up on that ethno-provinciality of which I’ve spoken before. And if the Jews selling this mindset really believe that they, as Jews, have some exclusivity on these things, then they’ve got to get over themselves and their racial pride.

  254. SS–

    It’s not that we Reformed believe that apparent believers are somehow not genuine. Many people genuinely cry tears of mercy when they see commercials for Compassion International or World Vision, but then they don’t follow up on that sentiment with any kind of contribution, monetary or spiritual. Calvin himself speaks of “temporary faith.” Are these people “saved”? Saved from what? Saved to what? If they don’t make it to glory, they’re not really saved from sin or death. They may have some temporary benefits, but in the final analysis, they are not “of us.”

    Augustine had thus to say:

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

    I’m not sure what Augustine would say if he used the same definition for regeneration as we. Certainly, Calvin spoke of regeneration in connection with baptism, as well. But we Reformed tend to associate it with true conversion. For us, true conversion would incorporate some of these intangible “other distinctions” Augustine describes.

    We will be judged according to our works, SS: for the purpose of doling out rewards and responsibilities in the kingdom of heaven. Those of us who have many gifts need to use them. These are great verses you cite, ones we pay much attention to.

    I would echo Robert in saying that Shulam and Juster and the rest have not established enough of a reputation in the academy for them to be noticed. I doubt that anyone is purposefully avoiding them. (I have never sensed any willful anti-Semitism in the ranks of academic evangelicalism. Even if they harbored some of these sentiments, they would likely go out of their way to be inclusive so as not to be labeled as discriminatory.) Nanos is cited 15 times by Schreiner in his commentary on Romans. Pretty much every note, I am sorry to say, is either critical or dismissive. I didn’t get the sense Schreiner found him to be particularly sound as a scholar. That could be part of the problem: they are seen as innovative rather than insightful.

    By the way, what do you know of Baruch Maoz, who is both Messianic and Reformed and pastoring in Israel?

  255. Hello Robert,

    You said:

    ROBERT March 29, 2013 at 5:37 am
    Shawn,
    I follow John Calvin on James 2. Basically, James is not talking about the same thing as Paul is. Paul is talking about what makes us right before the bar of God’s justice, namely faith alone. James is talking about the kind of faith that justifies us, a faith that is living an active, a faith that works through love, as Paul says. But the love itself, being a work, is not the grounds for our justification.

    Depending upon which verses you are comparing, you might be right. If you compare Rom 2:1-7 with James chapter 2, you are wrong. They are explaining precisely the same thing.

    However, if you are comparing Rom 3:28 and James 2:24, you are right. They are talking about two different things.

    They are however, based upon the same overarching paradigm. Faith and works save. Faith alone is dead.

    What you and the Protestants misunderstand and confuse with faith alone, is the Sacramental aspect of St. Paul’s teaching.

    When St. Paul says that we are justified by faith apart from works, that is a reference to our justification in the Sacraments. Wherein, God washes of our sins while we call upon the name of Jesus Christ.

    I know you are not picking on me. But I will say that the Roman church, with its treasury of merit,

    Matthew 6:20
    But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

    indulgences,

    Luke 11:41
    But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

    Immaculate Conception,

    Luke 1:28
    Luke 1:28
    Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
    28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, *(kecharitomene) the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

    *kecharitomene- ever full of grace

    papal infallibility,

    Matthew 16:18-19
    King James Version (KJV)
    18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    praying to/through the saints,

    Luke 16:24
    King James Version
    And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, ….

    1 Timothy 2:1
    King James Version (KJV)
    1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

    purgatory,

    1 Corinthians 3:15
    King James Version (KJV)
    15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

    sacramental priesthood,

    1 Timothy 4:14
    King James Version
    Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

    and more is not really in a position to criticize Protestants for not speaking as Scripture speaks or for “forcing” Scripture to fit their system.

    What I find missing in Scripture is any Protestant doctrine which disagrees with Catholic Teaching. Therefore, the Catholic Church is certainly right to criticize Protestants on their hypocritical attitude towards the Word of God.

  256. Shawn,

    1. If you’re not Roman Catholic, what are you? Eastern Orthodox? Non-Reformed Protestant? Some other animal? 🙂

    2. James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

    James is speaking of a specific kind of faith. I believe it is quite clear. Even a Roman Catholic commentator such as Luke Timothy Johnson agrees that James and Paul are not discussing the same thing.

    3. I agree that apostasy is a real thing. I deny that real apostasy requires prior regeneration. One can be so close to Christ and His people so as to experience the overflow of new covenant blessings without being regenerate. That is the Hebrews 6 person. Without faith, baptism does not unite one to Christ. But it is a real sacrament that brings us into the covenant community whether we have faith or not. To reject Christ is to be cut off from His covenant people and to be cut off from His covenant people is to be cut off from Christ.

    4. Faith and repentance are the conditions for citizens of heaven. Such are the gift of God (Eph. 2:1–10). Christ was raised never to die again, if one can die, ie, lose one’s regenerate status, then that denies that anyone is raised with Christ (Col. 2:12). If one can have eternal life one moment and lose it the next, it is not eternal life.

    5. I’ve had this discussion with SS and others, but all of those whom God justifies, He also glorifies (Rom. 8:28–30). He has already perfected those whom He is currently sanctified (Heb. 10:14). That is what the grammar of that verse says, not that He might perfect those whom He is currently sanctified.

    6. Scripture is clear that salvation is wholly of the Lord and not of ourselves. If he can lose any whom he regenerates and calls, then the individual casts the final deciding vote in our salvation. Salvation becomes not of Him alone but also of us. We end up saving ourselves by making the right decision. We need the help of grace, but it is not enough. It brings us to the gate of heaven, but we are the ones who guarantee our salvation by our right choices. But if saving grace is finally irresistable, if His grace guarantees our perseverance, giving us a role in it but ultimately being the overriding factor so that we cannot fall away fully and finally, then salvation is wholly of Him and I can give myself no credit. If two people can receive the same saving grace but only one perseveres, the one who perseveres gets some credit if only a little bit.

    Ultimately in Scripture, we have one set of passages that seem to indicate that salvation is permanent for the regenerate. We have another set that seems to indicate that the regenerate can lose salvation. Both of those interpretations cannot be right. Both could be wrong, but both can’t be right.

    What is clear that both sets of passages appear to be promises. If someone is justified, God will glorify Him. If a person does not do good works, obey the Lord, etc. etc., He will not see heaven. The non-Reformed, it seems to me, have to deny that the first set of passages are promises. The Reformed do not have to do that. To use some of the way Jason has been speaking:

    If the apostles were operating out of a paradigm that said salvation could be lost, then how could they have included any promises that the regenerate and justified will persevere and that Christ cannot lose those whom have truly been given to Him by the Father. But if the apostles were operating out a paradigm that said salvation cannot be lost but and that God works in and through us to guarantee our perseverance, then it makes sense why you would also have warning passages, since the apostles were not omniscient and could not see who had true faith in their audiences.

    I’m Reformed because I finally, after a long time resisting it, came to see that the P of TULIP is biblical and that the Reformed alone can make sense of such passages.

  257. De Maria,

    If you want to convince any Protestant of your position, you are going to have to do some kind of exegesis of those texts. I don’t always exegete well, necessarily, but I do try, at least on occasion. Simply telling me that Paul is talking about sacramentalism isn’t going to cut it. Simply quoting verses as if the edifice of Roman teaching has anything to do with the verse quoted isn’t going to do it either. You have to show how that happens.

  258. ROBERT March 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm
    De Maria,
    If you want to convince any Protestant of your position, you are going to have to do some kind of exegesis of those texts.

    If I discuss any of those doctrines with anyone, I certainly will do so. However, since you gave a scattergun objection to Catholic Doctrine. I gave a scattergun dispensing with your objection.

    I don’t always exegete well, necessarily, but I do try, at least on occasion.

    You don’t exegete at all, Robert.

    Simply telling me that Paul is talking about sacramentalism isn’t going to cut it.

    But simply claiming that the Church does not speak Scripture does? That’s a double standard if ever I saw one.

    Simply quoting verses as if the edifice of Roman teaching has anything to do with the verse quoted isn’t going to do it either. You have to show how that happens.

    I’ll begin to show how that happens when you begin to support your arguments. Meantime, I’ll make do with contradicting your unsupported claims and errors.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  259. ROBERT March 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm
    Shawn,
    1. If you’re not Roman Catholic, what are you? Eastern Orthodox? Non-Reformed Protestant? Some other animal?
    2. James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

    Because faith without works is dead faith. It can’t save anyone unless it is perfected in works of love. Read more:
    James 2:22
    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

    James is speaking of a specific kind of faith. I believe it is quite clear. Even a Roman Catholic commentator such as Luke Timothy Johnson agrees that James and Paul are not discussing the same thing.

    Not when you compare Rom 3:28 and James 2:24.

    But certainly when you compare Rom 2:13 and James 2:24.

    James 2:24
    King James Version (KJV)
    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    Romans 2:13
    King James Version (KJV)
    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    3. I agree that apostasy is a real thing. I deny that real apostasy requires prior regeneration. One can be so close to Christ and His people so as to experience the overflow of new covenant blessings without being regenerate. That is the Hebrews 6 person. Without faith, baptism does not unite one to Christ. But it is a real sacrament that brings us into the covenant community whether we have faith or not. To reject Christ is to be cut off from His covenant people and to be cut off from His covenant people is to be cut off from Christ.

    And to deny His Church is to deny Christ. To disobey His Church is to deny Christ.

    4. Faith and repentance are the conditions for citizens of heaven.

    Agreed.

    Such are the gift of God (Eph. 2:1–10).

    Agree. Note that v. 10 speaks of the works which we must walk in from the beginning, from the time of our coming into the world. These are the Ten Commandments.

    Christ was raised never to die again, if one can die, ie, lose one’s regenerate status,

    One can die again. Scripture is clear:
    Hebrews 6:4-6
    King James Version (KJV)
    4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
    6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

    This is where it is imperative to understand what St. Paul is talking about in Chapter 7 of the book of Romans. Although we are forgiven and washed of sin, the law of sin remains in our flesh. And the only way to continue in the Law of the Spirit is to be renewed in the grace of our Lord Jesus continually. That is, in the Sacraments.

    then that denies that anyone is raised with Christ (Col. 2:12).

    No it doesn’t. It simply makes clear that the Final Judgment of God is that to which we are all being prepared:

    If one can have eternal life one moment and lose it the next, it is not eternal life.
    Romans 14:10
    But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

    But those of us who receive the Sacraments have a huge advantage over those who do not:
    Galatians 5:2
    King James Version (KJV)
    2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

    5. I’ve had this discussion with SS and others, but all of those whom God justifies, He also glorifies (Rom. 8:28–30). He has already perfected those whom He is currently sanctified (Heb. 10:14). That is what the grammar of that verse says, not that He might perfect those whom He is currently sanctified.

    You have to come to that conclusion by ignoring that which he said previous:
    24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
    25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
    26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
    27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
    28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    When we put all that together, we see that in vs 29-30, St. Paul is speaking from the eternal perspective. But, in vs. 24-28, he is speaking from the earthly perspective. Understanding that we hope for that which is received in vs. 29-30. But which we have not yet received, otherwise, as he asks, “why hope?” If we have already receive it, we no longer hope for it.

    6. Scripture is clear that salvation is wholly of the Lord and not of ourselves.

    Agreed. But the Lord does not save those who do not elect to be saved. Those who do not elect to be saved are they who do not obey the Word of God:
    Hebrews 5:9
    And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

    Scripture is absolutely clear on that.

    If he can lose any whom he regenerates and calls, then the individual casts the final deciding vote in our salvation.

    Not in our salvation. But in his own. That is true.

    Deuteronomy 30:19
    I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

    Romans 6:16
    Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

    Salvation becomes not of Him alone but also of us.

    Again, that depends which aspect of salvation you are talking about.

    Are you talking about the fact that Jesus died for all of mankind’s sins? Only He can do that.

    Are you talking about the fact that only those who obey Jesus Christ are saved? Then salvation requires our cooperation.

    Are you talking about the fact that we can help God save our fellow man by preaching and leading men to God? Then salvation is open for our cooperation.

    Romans 10:14
    How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

    1 Timothy 2:1-2
    King James Version (KJV)
    1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
    2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

    1 Timothy 4:16
    Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

    We end up saving ourselves by making the right decision.

    Absolutely! We couldn’t do so if Christ hadn’t died for our sins. That is why the Jews who made the right decision could not receive the promise:
    Heb 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
    40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

    Until Christ died. But now, we have to make the same decision and thereby receive the same promise. With the added incentive that we can receive that promise, here on this earth, if we persevere to the end.

    We need the help of grace,

    This is why Christ instituted the Church and empowered her to provide the Sacraments.

    but it is not enough.

    No. The grace of perseverance to the end is required.

    It brings us to the gate of heaven, but we are the ones who guarantee our salvation by our right choices.

    Thanks for saying that. Even in the faith alone paradigm, you must add something to Christ’s death on the Cross. You must add your decision to believe. Your faith.

    But if saving grace is finally irresistable, if His grace guarantees our perseverance, giving us a role in it but ultimately being the overriding factor so that we cannot fall away fully and finally, then salvation is wholly of Him and I can give myself no credit.

    I would have to say the logic is sound. But the paradigm is false and can’t be found in Scripture. Therefore the logic which follows leads to a false conclusion.

    Scripture does not say that grace guarantees perseverance. And Heb 6:4-6, which was mentioned above is proof of that. By itself, without any other verse, it totally destroys your claim.

    But there are other verses which also destroy it:
    1 Corinthians 10:12
    Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

    1 Timothy 1:19
    Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

    1 Corinthians 9:27
    But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

    And so, Scripture contradicts your teaching.

    If two people can receive the same saving grace but only one perseveres, the one who perseveres gets some credit if only a little bit.

    True. Scripture says:
    Hebrews 6:10
    For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

    Ultimately in Scripture, we have one set of passages that seem to indicate that salvation is permanent for the regenerate.

    Only if you ignore half of that chapter and the rest of Scripture.

    We have another set that seems to indicate that the regenerate can lose salvation.

    This is the message of Scripture. You come to the other conclusion by reading into Scripture what is not there and by ignoring in Scripture these verses.

    Both of those interpretations cannot be right.

    True.

    Both could be wrong, but both can’t be right.

    One of those interpretations is the interpretation of the Catholic Church which Scripture says is the Pillar of Truth (1 Tim 3:15). Therefore, no. One can’t be wrong. One is the absolute Truth taught by the Catholic Church.

    What is clear that both sets of passages appear to be promises.

    Both passages agree with each other. You have twisted one to come to a false conclusion.

    If someone is justified, God will glorify Him.

    In heaven.

    If a person does not do good works, obey the Lord, etc. etc., He will not see heaven.

    Absolutely true.

    The non-Reformed, it seems to me, have to deny that the first set of passages are promises.

    False. We know that the first set are promised to those who persevere in good works to the end.

    The Reformed do not have to do that.

    The Reformed have changed the paradigm of Scripture and inserted their own man made doctrine. It is upon this false doctrine that they then add their logical reasoning. But the paradigm is false and therefore the conclusion is also false.

    To use some of the way Jason has been speaking:

    If the apostles were operating out of a paradigm that said salvation could be lost, then how could they have included any promises that the regenerate and justified will persevere

    Because some of them will persevere. But not all of them. You have added that understanding and thus your paradigm is different than that which Scripture presents.

    and that Christ cannot lose those whom have truly been given to Him by the Father.

    You have answered your own question. The key words are, “have truly been given to Him”. Obviously, some have not. And you, no matter how much you want to be equal to God, can’t tell one from another. You can’t tell who has been given to Christ and who has not. Only God can do that with omniscient infallibility.

    But if the apostles were operating out a paradigm that said salvation cannot be lost but and that God works in and through us to guarantee our perseverance, then it makes sense why you would also have warning passages, since the apostles were not omniscient and could not see who had true faith in their audiences.

    Now you’re getting it.

    I’m Reformed

    By choice. But you can change that.

    because I finally, after a long time resisting it, came to see that the P of TULIP is biblical and that the Reformed alone can make sense of such passages.

    You’ve come to the wrong conclusion. The P of TULIP is only biblical from the heavenly perspective. Not from man’s.

    Yes, it is Catholic Doctrine that the Saints will persevere. But that is because they have already persevered, in the case of those who have already passed. And because God knows who will persevere and who won’t, in the case of those who will be in heaven in the future.

    In fact, there is a case which can be made that those who will be in heaven are already in heaven, since heaven is outside of time and space and is not affected by time and space.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  260. Sorry about that. I missed a slash and it sure makes a difference in readability. Here’s what I meant to submit:

    ROBERT March 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm
    Shawn,
    1. If you’re not Roman Catholic, what are you? Eastern Orthodox? Non-Reformed Protestant? Some other animal?
    2. James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

    Because faith without works is dead faith. It can’t save anyone unless it is perfected in works of love. Read more:
    James 2:22
    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

    James is speaking of a specific kind of faith. I believe it is quite clear. Even a Roman Catholic commentator such as Luke Timothy Johnson agrees that James and Paul are not discussing the same thing.

    Not when you compare Rom 3:28 and James 2:24.

    But certainly when you compare Rom 2:13 and James 2:24.

    James 2:24
    King James Version (KJV)
    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    Romans 2:13
    King James Version (KJV)
    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    3. I agree that apostasy is a real thing. I deny that real apostasy requires prior regeneration. One can be so close to Christ and His people so as to experience the overflow of new covenant blessings without being regenerate. That is the Hebrews 6 person. Without faith, baptism does not unite one to Christ. But it is a real sacrament that brings us into the covenant community whether we have faith or not. To reject Christ is to be cut off from His covenant people and to be cut off from His covenant people is to be cut off from Christ.

    And to deny His Church is to deny Christ. To disobey His Church is to deny Christ.

    4. Faith and repentance are the conditions for citizens of heaven.

    Agreed.

    Such are the gift of God (Eph. 2:1–10).

    Agree. Note that v. 10 speaks of the works which we must walk in from the beginning, from the time of our coming into the world. These are the Ten Commandments.

    Christ was raised never to die again, if one can die, ie, lose one’s regenerate status,

    One can die again. Scripture is clear:
    Hebrews 6:4-6
    King James Version (KJV)
    4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
    6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

    This is where it is imperative to understand what St. Paul is talking about in Chapter 7 of the book of Romans. Although we are forgiven and washed of sin, the law of sin remains in our flesh. And the only way to continue in the Law of the Spirit is to be renewed in the grace of our Lord Jesus continually. That is, in the Sacraments.

    then that denies that anyone is raised with Christ (Col. 2:12).

    No it doesn’t. It simply makes clear that the Final Judgment of God is that to which we are all being prepared:

    If one can have eternal life one moment and lose it the next, it is not eternal life.
    Romans 14:10
    But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

    But those of us who receive the Sacraments have a huge advantage over those who do not:
    Galatians 5:2
    King James Version (KJV)
    2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

    5. I’ve had this discussion with SS and others, but all of those whom God justifies, He also glorifies (Rom. 8:28–30). He has already perfected those whom He is currently sanctified (Heb. 10:14). That is what the grammar of that verse says, not that He might perfect those whom He is currently sanctified.

    You have to come to that conclusion by ignoring that which he said previous:
    24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
    25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
    26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
    27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
    28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    When we put all that together, we see that in vs 29-30, St. Paul is speaking from the eternal perspective. But, in vs. 24-28, he is speaking from the earthly perspective. Understanding that we hope for that which is received in vs. 29-30. But which we have not yet received, otherwise, as he asks, “why hope?” If we have already receive it, we no longer hope for it.

    6. Scripture is clear that salvation is wholly of the Lord and not of ourselves.

    Agreed. But the Lord does not save those who do not elect to be saved. Those who do not elect to be saved are they who do not obey the Word of God:
    Hebrews 5:9
    And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

    Scripture is absolutely clear on that.

    If he can lose any whom he regenerates and calls, then the individual casts the final deciding vote in our salvation.

    Not in our salvation. But in his own. That is true.

    Deuteronomy 30:19
    I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

    Romans 6:16
    Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

    Salvation becomes not of Him alone but also of us.

    Again, that depends which aspect of salvation you are talking about.

    Are you talking about the fact that Jesus died for all of mankind’s sins? Only He can do that.

    Are you talking about the fact that only those who obey Jesus Christ are saved? Then salvation requires our cooperation.

    Are you talking about the fact that we can help God save our fellow man by preaching and leading men to God? Then salvation is open for our cooperation.

    Romans 10:14
    How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

    1 Timothy 2:1-2
    King James Version (KJV)
    1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
    2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

    1 Timothy 4:16
    Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

    We end up saving ourselves by making the right decision.

    Absolutely! We couldn’t do so if Christ hadn’t died for our sins. That is why the Jews who made the right decision could not receive the promise:
    Heb 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
    40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

    Until Christ died. But now, we have to make the same decision and thereby receive the same promise. With the added incentive that we can receive that promise, here on this earth, if we persevere to the end.

    We need the help of grace,

    This is why Christ instituted the Church and empowered her to provide the Sacraments.

    but it is not enough.

    No. The grace of perseverance to the end is required.

    It brings us to the gate of heaven, but we are the ones who guarantee our salvation by our right choices.

    Thanks for saying that. Even in the faith alone paradigm, you must add something to Christ’s death on the Cross. You must add your decision to believe. Your faith.

    But if saving grace is finally irresistable, if His grace guarantees our perseverance, giving us a role in it but ultimately being the overriding factor so that we cannot fall away fully and finally, then salvation is wholly of Him and I can give myself no credit.

    I would have to say the logic is sound. But the paradigm is false and can’t be found in Scripture. Therefore the logic which follows leads to a false conclusion.

    Scripture does not say that grace guarantees perseverance. And Heb 6:4-6, which was mentioned above is proof of that. By itself, without any other verse, it totally destroys your claim.

    But there are other verses which also destroy it:
    1 Corinthians 10:12
    Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

    1 Timothy 1:19
    Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

    1 Corinthians 9:27
    But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

    And so, Scripture contradicts your teaching.

    If two people can receive the same saving grace but only one perseveres, the one who perseveres gets some credit if only a little bit.

    True. Scripture says:
    Hebrews 6:10
    For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

    Ultimately in Scripture, we have one set of passages that seem to indicate that salvation is permanent for the regenerate.

    Only if you ignore half of that chapter and the rest of Scripture.

    We have another set that seems to indicate that the regenerate can lose salvation.

    This is the message of Scripture. You come to the other conclusion by reading into Scripture what is not there and by ignoring in Scripture these verses.

    Both of those interpretations cannot be right.

    True.

    Both could be wrong, but both can’t be right.

    One of those interpretations is the interpretation of the Catholic Church which Scripture says is the Pillar of Truth (1 Tim 3:15). Therefore, no. One can’t be wrong. One is the absolute Truth taught by the Catholic Church.

    What is clear that both sets of passages appear to be promises.

    Both passages agree with each other. You have twisted one to come to a false conclusion.

    If someone is justified, God will glorify Him.

    In heaven.

    If a person does not do good works, obey the Lord, etc. etc., He will not see heaven.

    Absolutely true.

    The non-Reformed, it seems to me, have to deny that the first set of passages are promises.

    False. We know that the first set are promised to those who persevere in good works to the end.

    The Reformed do not have to do that.

    The Reformed have changed the paradigm of Scripture and inserted their own man made doctrine. It is upon this false doctrine that they then add their logical reasoning. But the paradigm is false and therefore the conclusion is also false.

    To use some of the way Jason has been speaking:

    If the apostles were operating out of a paradigm that said salvation could be lost, then how could they have included any promises that the regenerate and justified will persevere

    Because some of them will persevere. But not all of them. You have added that understanding and thus your paradigm is different than that which Scripture presents.

    and that Christ cannot lose those whom have truly been given to Him by the Father.

    You have answered your own question. The key words are, “have truly been given to Him”. Obviously, some have not. And you, no matter how much you want to be equal to God, can’t tell one from another. You can’t tell who has been given to Christ and who has not. Only God can do that with omniscient infallibility.

    But if the apostles were operating out a paradigm that said salvation cannot be lost but and that God works in and through us to guarantee our perseverance, then it makes sense why you would also have warning passages, since the apostles were not omniscient and could not see who had true faith in their audiences.

    Now you’re getting it.

    I’m Reformed

    By choice. But you can change that.

    because I finally, after a long time resisting it, came to see that the P of TULIP is biblical and that the Reformed alone can make sense of such passages.

    You’ve come to the wrong conclusion. The P of TULIP is only biblical from the heavenly perspective. Not from man’s.

    Yes, it is Catholic Doctrine that the Saints will persevere. But that is because they have already persevered, in the case of those who have already passed. And because God knows who will persevere and who won’t, in the case of those who will be in heaven in the future.

    In fact, there is a case which can be made that those who will be in heaven are already in heaven, since heaven is outside of time and space and is not affected by time and space.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  261. De Maria,

    Still waiting for some kind of exegesis.

    Your fundamental assumption is the Roman Catholic Church is the church spoken of in Scripture. I disagree. It’s not self-evident that the Roman Catholic Church is the church spoken of in Scripture. It’s not an argument to say that one must obey the Roman Church because the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. You must first prove that the Roman Church is the church of Scripture.

    It’s not an argument that the ones who will persevere are those who have already persevered. That’s like saying the ones who are men are the ones who are already men.

    It’s not an argument to say that one must obey Christ and His gospel, as if I would even deny that.

    Until you have something worthy of addressing, this will be my last post in response to you. I may not agree with Jason, SS, and the others, but at least they’re making an effort.

  262. ROBERT March 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm
    De Maria,
    Still waiting for some kind of exegesis.

    I’ve given more exegesis than you. So why are you waiting for more from me when you are not providing any?

    Your fundamental assumption is the Roman Catholic Church is the church spoken of in Scripture. I disagree.</blockquote?

    You can disagree all you want. But the Catholic Church is described in Scripture:

    Scripture says that the Church teaches the Wisdom of God:

    Ephesians 3:10
    To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

    Is God's Wisdom infallible? I say yes.

    Is there really any need to say more? I don't think so. But there is more.

    Scripture says that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth:
    1 Timothy 3:15
    But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

    God is here saying that the Church always upholds the truth. I believe God. Therefore, I conclude that the Church is infallible.

    Scripture says:
    Matthew 16:18
    And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    Here the Church is depicted as keeping hell in a state of seige. And further it is said that hell will never prevail against the Church. If the Church committed errors in the mission given her by God, then the gates of hell would have prevailed.

    God says that won't happen. I believe God. Therefore, I conclude that the Church is infallible.

    But is this the Catholic Church?

    I believe the Church described in Scripture is the Catholic Church, yes.

    First, Jesus Christ appointed a Pastor as head of the entire Church:
    John 21:17
    He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

    I see only a few Churches with such a Pastor. Further, Jesus Christ said that the Pastor over His Church would be infallible:

    Matthew 16:17-19 (King James Version)
    17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    The list of Churches accept this teaching gets smaller. Certainly, all Protestant denominations can now be eliminated.

    Jesus Christ not only said that the Pastor was infallible but Scripture describes the Church as infallible:
    Ephesians 3:10
    To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

    The list remains the same, but now I can certainly eliminate all Protestant denominations.

    Back to Matt 16:18, Scripture says that Jesus Christ established one Church. History shows that all the Churches sprang from the Church which is frequently described as the Mother Church. The Catholic Church.

    By simple logic of elimination, that leaves only the Catholic Church.

    It’s not self-evident that the Roman Catholic Church is the church spoken of in Scripture. It’s not an argument to say that one must obey the Roman Church because the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. You must first prove that the Roman Church is the church of Scripture.

    I don’t have to prove anything. All I need do is provide evidence. Which you have not done. All you do is deny the evidence provided and claim to have evidence but you never provide it.

    It’s not an argument that the ones who will persevere are those who have already persevered. That’s like saying the ones who are men are the ones who are already men.

    That’s not an argument. That is to what the Scripture refers if read in context.

    It’s not an argument to say that one must obey Christ and His gospel, as if I would even deny that.

    You deny the necessity of any of man’s cooperation for his salvation. Therefore you deny the necessity to obey Christ and the Gospel.

    Until you have something worthy of addressing, this will be my last post in response to you. I may not agree with Jason, SS, and the others, but at least they’re making an effort.

    I understand.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  263. Hello Robert,

    Sorry. I double checked that one before I submitted. But I guess I missed a slash again. Anyway, if you look closely, your words are indented. So, I won’t post another one.

  264. De Maria–

    You may be exasperated with us. I know we are exasperated with you.

    It might help if you let us see more of who you are, what you’re like, and why you believe as you do. So far all we’re getting is straight Catholic “talking points.” We wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you were merely a software program spitting out dogmatic CCC data.

    I do want to commend you for getting straightway to one of the sticking points between Reformed and Thomistic thought: assurance of salvation. Trent more or less anathematizes assurance, but yet the Catholic church holds onto it in different terms: you all now call it “hope.”

    The catechism quotes St. Teresa of Avila:

    “Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.”

    And then there’s good old Hebrews 11:

    “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation….

    By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God….

    These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

    There is frankly no question that we are to have more than a modicum of certainty concerning our blessed hope. We are not to be double-minded in our faith. (Even Teresa of Avila, doctor of the Church, agrees with this, as I have shown.)

    St. Augustine guaranteed us that those who spoke the Lord’s Prayer, believing, had prayed for the gift of perseverance in the recitation of its petitions. And that such a prayer in nowise would be left unanswered.

    Reformed theology, the Bible, and some of the very best of Catholic theologians tell us we can have this certainty–the assurance of salvation. No, we are not to have presumption. We can agree on that.

    The outcome of the modern Catholic negative take on assurance is that no emphasis is placed on genuine conversion. The testimony of the Holy Spirit within us is entirely left out. Someone who has never known Christ is left to believe that regular attendance at Mass and Confession may be enough to suffice. After all, they have been “baptized”; they have received “regeneration”; and they have done nothing awful to lose their “salvation.” And yet, they have never actually possessed faith.

    (For what it’s worth, Old School Presbyterianism does much the same thing as Catholicism when it comes to conversion. Perhaps you two should merge!)

  265. ERIC March 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm
    De Maria–
    You may be exasperated with us.

    What gave you that impression?

    I know we are exasperated with you.

    Too bad.

    It might help if you let us see more of who you are, what you’re like, and why you believe as you do.

    You first.

    So far all we’re getting is straight Catholic “talking points.”

    If that is true, you should be able to quote the sources of the talking points.

    We wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you were merely a software program spitting out dogmatic CCC data.

    Really? And what of you? Are you merely a software program spitting out your anti-Catholic rhetoric?

    I do want to commend you for getting straightway to one of the sticking points between Reformed and Thomistic thought: assurance of salvation. Trent more or less anathematizes assurance,

    Correction. Trent anathematizes those who hold the doctrine of ABSOLUTE assurance.

    but yet the Catholic church holds onto it in different terms: you all now call it “hope.”
    The catechism quotes St. Teresa of Avila:
    “Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.”

    Beautiful! And very true.

    And then there’s good old Hebrews 11:
    “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation….
    By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God….
    These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

    Were you pointing to something in particular there? I don’t see anything about absolute assurance.

    There is frankly no question that we are to have more than a modicum of certainty concerning our blessed hope. We are not to be double-minded in our faith. (Even Teresa of Avila, doctor of the Church, agrees with this, as I have shown.)

    That is Catholic Teaching.

    St. Augustine guaranteed us that those who spoke the Lord’s Prayer, believing, had prayed for the gift of perseverance in the recitation of its petitions. And that such a prayer in nowise would be left unanswered.

    Good idea. Smart man that Saint from Hippo.

    Reformed theology, the Bible, and some of the very best of Catholic theologians tell us we can have this certainty–the assurance of salvation.

    But not absolute assurance. At least, not the Catholic Theologians. With, of course, the exception of those who have had a private revelation from God.

    No, we are not to have presumption. We can agree on that.

    But you have disagreed up to now. Presumption of salvation is the sin which you have brought up and are attempting to justify.

    The outcome of the modern Catholic negative take on assurance is that no emphasis is placed on genuine conversion. The testimony of the Holy Spirit within us is entirely left out. Someone who has never known Christ is left to believe that regular attendance at Mass and Confession may be enough to suffice. After all, they have been “baptized”; they have received “regeneration”; and they have done nothing awful to lose their “salvation.” And yet, they have never actually possessed faith.

    1. I don’t think it is a negative take.
    2. The outcome of the Protestant teaching of assurance is that many Protestants no longer care if they sin because they claim they are assured of salvation whether they sin or not.
    3. The Catholic Doctrine emphasizes the Holy Spirit which washes our souls in every Sacrament.
    4. Faith is not judged by verbal claims, as you seem to be inferring. According to the Word of God, faith is recognized by works of love (James 2:24).

    (For what it’s worth, Old School Presbyterianism does much the same thing as Catholicism when it comes to conversion. Perhaps you two should merge!)

    Its not worth much. Presbyterians, Old School or New are Protestants and contradict the Word of God also.

    Lets go over some Scripture. Whaddaya say? Lets compare your beliefs to Scripture and Catholic Doctrine to Scripture. See which lines up best.

    Or are you more comfortable simply making unsupported claims about the state of Catholic souls and other such things?

    Sincerely,

    De Maria


  266. 1. The Father has given the Son a people.
    2. Those who believe on the Son have eternal life and are raised up on the last day
    3. Jesus will not cast out those who come to him, these are the ones whom the Father has given to Him and come to Him.

    Once again Robert, you are reading Scripture without any regard for its Jewish context. John’s gospel has a specific goal: to convince the reader that Christ is the Lamb of God and the King of the Jews, Mashiach. That’s why for example, instead of recording Jesus’ agony in the garden (as seen in the synoptics), he instead focuses on the effect that his words have on the soldiers, they fall to the ground. Or why he includes the High Priestly prayer whereas other gospels do not.

    In chapter 6, Jesus is addressing Jews who says Moses fed their ancestors manna in the desert. V 36 is the key: he says to them:

    “36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe”

    Now this is a big problem to the Jewish reader who is assessing Jesus as Messiah, because Messiah was expected to be accepted by all Jews. So in response to correct their mistaken understanding, Christ says

    “37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

    “All those the Father gives” is not to be read with a calvinistic theological grid, but rather a Jewish mindset. It refers to the fulfilment of prophecy which anticipated the gathering of God’s sheep to the Great Shepherd. And who are these sheep given to the Son? Considering the proper jewish background to the text, they are the jews who were living in right covenant relationship with God under the old covenant and who were ready to embrace the Messiah. John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way of the Lord, and many of those sheep went to him to repent and prepare themselves for the one whose sandals John was unfit to untie.

    Malachi 3:16-18 gives us a glimpse of these jews whom God had prepared for the Son:

    “16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. 17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “ they will be my treasured possession . I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

    These Jews living in the time of Malachi, some 400 years before Christ, are examples of those whom God would in no wise cast out. Why? Not because of the doctrine of the unconditional election or perseverance of the saints, but because these jews had voluntarily prepared themselves through repentance and faith (unlike the jews who did not do this). They feared the Lord, so God was faithful to them and He gives them to the Son, thereby vindicating the Son. The Jews have a common saying “Everything is in the hand of the Lord except the fear of the Lord”. Elizabeth & Zechariah in Luke 1:6 would be of this contingent as well. They were blameless and righteous in God’s sight as they kept all the ordinances. They are the people of God given to the Son, by the Father. (see Ezekiel 34:12-17)

    So John 6:36-40 is about Jesus proving that He is Messiah, and the fulfilment of prophecy. He is the Faithful Fulfiller of the Covenant. It was not written to adjucate between calvinists and other types of believers or to be an argument for or against apostasy, but written instead to Jews primarily who would have faulted Christ for not being universally accepted by the people of God. Christ is vindicated.

    Re John 6:39-40

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

    When Jesus speaks in this manner, He is basically saying, look I am the Great Shepherd of Ezekiel 37 and Jeremiah 23. I am the Messiah, even if you think I’m not because not all believe in me and you don’t believe in me. The intention behind the text is not to teach about the possibility of falling away, but instead the identity of the Messiah. For direct teaching on the latter, however, see John 15 (more below).

    If one can have eternal life at one point and then lose it the next, it is not eternal life.

    Eternal life is the gift that we are in possession of and it remains in part, a future gift by virtue of the already-not-yet nature of salvation. We can choose to forfeit that gift by dishonoring the Giver. Jesus speaks directly to this real danger in John 15:6

    “6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you , ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

    To a jewish mindset, this is undeniably Covenant-Speak. V 8 is quite telling here, where Jesus intimates that fruit bearing qualifies the men that are with him to be his disciples. But wait a minute, these were the same men he had just spent 3 full years with and who had left everything behind to follow him? They were. So weren’t they already worthy to be called disciples? And yet Jesus says to each one of them you are only my disciple if you bear much fruit. And it is these very disciples who had left everything behind that He gives a direct warning of the consequences of a breach of covenant. This shows without doubt that apostasy is a clear possibility, even for someone who is part of the Vine already (cf. John 13:10), and it also precludes the claim that this verse refers to the ‘never really saved’ contingent.

    I believe we will be rewarded according to our works, but that these works are not the grounds by which one gets into heaven/is justified. First we’re justifed, then we work. Not first we’re justified, then we work, then we are justified again.

    Abraham was not justified by His faithful obedience to the law, He was justified by faith alone. That is Paul’s point. If justification is by faithfulness in the sense that said faithfulness is the ground for our justification, Abraham and David could not be examples of those who were not justified by the law. The only way the OT Jew could exhibit faithfulness was to obey the OT law.

    Re faith alone . This again, does not belong to the Jewish phronema which Paul belonged to. E Perry says this about faith and obedience:

    “the Old Testament does not set trust and obedience in contrast to each other as
    separate ways of satisfying the demands of God. emuna comprehends the totality of what we commonly mean in the familiar expression “faith and works.” Obedience without trust (i.e. obedience not genetically generated from trust) is not the obedience God requires. Only the obedience of trust is reckoned to man as righteousness and everything else is exposed for the sham that it is, “lying wind words,” “false lips” and “deceitful ways.” Conversely, trust inevitably expresses itself in action. “Trust in the Lord and do good” are two aspects of the same act of will by which man is declared righteous”

    D Hill in his book “Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings” says this:

    “Judaism has really no place for a rigid distinction between faith and works. Faith can only fully exist when it is embodied in works”.

    And G Fohrer comments:

    “Faith is action, this holds true for biblical faith as well as for post biblical Judaism”

    The Pauline phrase “obedience of faith” is a programmatic statement meant to convey the intention of the epistle and it’s found in the greeting and doxology alike. Paul doesn’t have a problem with the Jewish understanding of faith. It is the object of said faith that is the problem. For Jews, the mere possession of the Law /Torah study was thought to be salvific.. But Paul says your obedience must be generated by faith, towards Messiah Yeshua. And that obedience involves not just the assent to His identity and saving work, but also the keeping of His commands (hence Rom 6-8, 12-15). So there’s a transfer of Lordship happening here based on the Christ-Event, and which is at the heart of the polemic between Paul and the Jews.

    So therefore this statement

    “The only way the OT Jew could exhibit faithfulness was to obey the OT law.”

    is false. Elizabeth and Zechariah obeyed the OT law, keeping all the ordinances blamelessly, but were righteous in the sight of God precisely because their faith-obedience was directed towards Messiah. Again, the issue isn’t law keeping or not, but rather whether that law keeping finds its ground in Christ or not. Acts 21 details of the many thousands of jews who were zealous for the law, which James rejoices over.

    If Abraham and David had faith, they had the Spirit in some sense, if only proleptically. Otherwise they are saved in a different manner than NT believers, and Paul’s point that we are saved in the same manner as Abraham and David falls flat. The OT and NT law are substantially the same, at least in their moral aspects. If Abraham and David could not be justified by it even if they walked in it according to the Spirit in some sense, we can’t be justified by walking in the same law in the same Spirit either
    The NT law is not the same as the OT Law. It is the fulfillment of the old , even in the moral aspects. And Jesus says at the end of Matt 7 and the Sermon on the Mount that it is those who hear and practice these things, who will stand at the judgment. . So again, no Jew whether Pharisee, Essene, Sadducee or otherwise would have heard the commands Jesus was giving and pulled a Kanye “Jesus, I’m very happy for you and amma let you finish, but we can’t really do what you are telling us. Imputation is the best theology of all time!”. (again, see quotes on faith and obedience in the Jewish culture above by Fohrer, Perry, Hill, and that’s just scratching the surface). The Jewish position which Paul was repudiating was one which stipulated that the Mosaic Law was sufficient to justify. But Paul makes it clear that only Christ can lead us to true obedience, the obedience of faith, such that we become doers of the law who will be justified (future tense).

    6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

  267. It’s not that we Reformed believe that apparent believers are somehow not genuine. Many people genuinely cry tears of mercy when they see commercials for Compassion International or World Vision, but then they don’t follow up on that sentiment with any kind of contribution, monetary or spiritual. Calvin himself speaks of “temporary faith.” Are these people “saved”? Saved from what? Saved to what? If they don’t make it to glory, they’re not really saved from sin or death. They may have some temporary benefits, but in the final analysis, they are not “of us.”

    Don’t see any analysis here.

    Augustine had thus to say

    Augustine is notoriously unclear: both catholics and protestants each see what they want to see in his writing, so quoting him resolves nothing.

    We will be judged according to our works, SS: for the purpose of doling out rewards and responsibilities in the kingdom of heaven. Those of us who have many gifts need to use them. These are great verses you cite, ones we pay much attention to.

    Nowhere does scripture add the provisio that you do when it speaks for judgment according to works. Matter of fact, it is mentioned typically in conjunction with a solemn warning such as in 1 Peter 4:

    17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,

    “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

    The a fortiori in the above statement shows that judgment is not restricted to rewards only but also to the possibility of being found without wedding clothes, the white garments of holiness, and thrown out, as seen in the parable of the wedding banquet.

    I would echo Robert in saying that Shulam and Juster and the rest have not established enough of a reputation in the academy for them to be noticed. I doubt that anyone is purposefully avoiding them. (I have never sensed any willful anti-Semitism in the ranks of academic evangelicalism. Even if they harbored some of these sentiments, they would likely go out of their way to be inclusive so as not to be labeled as discriminatory.)

    It is not necessary that the sentiment be antisemitic for the lack of interaction with jewish theologians to be a major mistake. All that is necessary for the latter is a lack of interest or a care free attitude.

    Nanos is cited 15 times by Schreiner in his commentary on Romans. Pretty much every note, I am sorry to say, is either critical or dismissive. I didn’t get the sense Schreiner found him to be particularly sound as a scholar. That could be part of the problem: they are seen as innovative rather than insightful.

    No need to be sorry at all, I wasn’t looking for Schreiner’s approval. Many don’t find Schreiner sound as a scholar either, by the way, because of his inherent biases and party affiliation. The last place I would look for intellectual honesty in is precisely the ivory towers. Last place! So the lack of approval/affiliation I actually see as a good thing 🙂 I was only asking because it was claimed earlier that gentile scholars do listen to what jewish theologians are saying. I find that this is not true on the whole, while it may be so with certain scholars such as Schreiner.

    By the way, what do you know of Baruch Maoz, who is both Messianic and Reformed and pastoring in Israel?

    No I don’t. I’m sure that there are some jews out there in the vein of Moishe Rosen the baptist who founded Jews for Jesus, each with his own flavor of protestant doctrine. I am much more interested in what torah observant Jews are saying about doctrine, rather than what guys like Maoz have to say. I already know what reformed doctrine says. When it comes to Jewish believers as existed in the day of Paul (Acts 21) who are zealous for the law however, I do want to hear what they have to say and how they interpret Paul. Because the original church was ONE tree with TWO branches in communion with each other. Not ONE tree with ONE branch composed of protestants/evangelicals.

  268. SS,

    First, I’d like to say that I’m truly impressed by your exegetical skills and am learning quite a bit from your Jewish paradigm. However, I’d like to challenge this comment of yours:

    SS, you wrote,

    SS March 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    ….The church was founded by a Jew, and authority given to Jews. That the gentiles have deliberated over the centuries (post A.D. 70) in their councils while denying this reality absolutes beggars belief! Doctrines should never have been formulated without the input of believing Jews, and by believing Jews I don’t mean converts to the Catholic or Protestant faiths…..

    Well, I think St. Paul said that the Jews had been given their opportunity. Remember?

    Acts 13:46
    Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

    As much as St. Paul loved the Jews:

    Romans 11:
    1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

    He recognized that God had punished them yet again for their hardness of heart.
    25
    For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

    Which Jesus also confirmed:
    Matthew 11:20-22
    King James Version (KJV)
    20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:

    21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

    22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

    So, how can you blame the Church for continuing on in the name of Christ when the Jews refused the invitation? To this day, the Jews refuse to believe in Jesus, the Christ. Of course, with a few exceptions, like yourself.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  269. Hi SS,

    You don’t have to mention the word merit in order to describe it. You can even deny that it is merit, but as the saying goes, a rose by any other name is still a rose.

    Anyway, you said to Steve:

    SS March 21, 2013 at 10:08 am
    Thanks Steve. Let me begin with a quote from Richard Hays:
    “In a mysterious way, Jesus has enacted our destiny, and those who are in Christ are shaped by the pattern of his self giving death. He is the prototype of redeemed humanity… ‘The faithfulness of Jesus Christ’ refers first of all to his gracious, self sacrificial death on the a cross… His fidelity to God is the pattern for the new life that he has inaugurated. The cross, as Christ’s saving action, is God’s action of pistis God’s demonstration of fidelity to the promise made to Abraham.

    Ok.

    Hays is supporting his understanding of the ‘faith of Jesus’ as subjective genitive in the above. What I especially appreciate is the effort he makes to restore our understanding of faith to the only paradigm that it belongs to. Not a medieval/western paradigm but a semitic one.

    Hm? Not quite. There is another. A Christian one:
    Galatians 3:28
    King James Version (KJV)
    28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    The Christian paradigm is not altogether Jewish. If it were, the Jews would have accepted Him. But they didn’t. Proving that it isn’t.

    In a semitic paradigm, Messiah is faithful to the calling of His Father to be a light to the world, to jew and gentile alike, redeeming His creation and thereby breaking forth the Kingdom of God. It is through faith (1 Peter 1:5), meaning, through faithfulness that this takes place.

    Also through faith. As in “religious duty”. Jesus Christ established another religion and it was expected that men obey His Commands:
    Matthew 28:19-20
    King James Version (KJV)
    19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
    20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

    Now, I am not a Catholic, so you won’t be getting the language of merit from me.

    Without meaning any disrespect, you are denying it with one sentence and describing it with another. Merit is not mentioned in the Bible. But the Bible is clear, God only saves those that merit His salvation:
    Exodus 20:6
    And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

    Revelation 22:12-15
    King James Version (KJV)
    12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
    Note how those who keep the Commandments, receive a reward. Those who keep the Commandments are shown mercy. That is the language of merit.
    Those who do not keep the Commandments, receive a punishment. Those who do not keep the Commandments are not shown mercy. That is the language of merit as well. Their reward is not pleasant. Jesus said of the hypocrites:
    Matthew 6:2
    Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
    Jeremiah 25:14
    For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.
    Merit all over the place.

    However, here’s what I want you to see: it is a non sequitur to argue that if the the action of adding to one’s faith is non meritorious, it therefore cannot be the grounds or basis on which we shall be judged one day. That’s where the booboo is.

    That is difficult to understand. Let me break it down.
    1. It is not logical (non sequitur)
    2. To argue IF the adding to one’s faith is not praiseworthy (meritorious).
    3. THEN it can’t be basis on which one shall be judged one day.
    Hm? I don’t agree with the presupposition. But the logic seems sound to me. You are speaking in reference to 2 Pet 1:4-10, right?
    That verse is based upon the supposition that we will be judged by what we do, then, if they supplant that supposition with their own, they can supplant the logic as well.

    The supposition (If statement) is wrong and the logical steps are wrong therefore, the logical conclusion which results is wrong. Yet they don’t believe it is wrong so they use that argument all the time.

    Did not Christ Himself say:
    “10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do , should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. ’””
    Is this the language of merit? By no means.

    I disagree. It is not the language of pride. It is the language of humility. But doing one’s duty is meritorious in anyone’s book.

    There is a confusion outside of the Catholic paradigm about who judges the merit. What you or I judge meritorious is besides the point. It is in God’s eyes that the true value of any action is judged. It is God who judges merit.

    And yet the servants are judged on the basis of their actions:

    Back to merit.

    <Matt 25:23
    23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness”
    and in Rev 3:21
    “21 To the one who is victorious , I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne”
    It is entirely consistent with the nature of the grace of God, that we should be held accountable for our stewardship of His grace without ever claiming any merit for such. This view is evident in 1 Peter itself. Let’s return to 1 Peter, chapter 4:
    “7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. ”
    Is this covering of a multitude of sins meritorious? not on my understanding since it is Christ who gives the right to sit with Him. If He has decreed that our faithfulness to Him be the grounds on which He grants us the right to sit with Him, and this without us having any claims to merit, who are we to question?

    Exactly! If Jesus Christ, God the second Person of the Holy Trinity has judged our faith worthy, our faith meritorious in His eyes, who are we to question?

    This love does what its says: it covers amultitude of sins and hence factors into the grounds on which we shall be judged. Skip a few verses down to vv. 16-17:
    “16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? ”

    ??? Judgment is about merit. I don’t see how you are using this verse to support your view that God does not judge who merits salvation and who doesn’t, in His eyes.

    This is a very solemn and heavy passage which explicitly ties our willingness to suffer for the name to our salvation.

    A meritorious state of mind in the eyes of God.

    For if it is hard for the righteous to be saved (v 18), what will become of the ungodly, an a fortiori argument with deep implications… (cf. Matt 22:14). This is precisely why he exhorts us to add the virtues to our faith. Faith which is mental assent to the existence of God, the deity of Christ, His Lordship and so on is not defective, but rather incomplete.

    It is defective because it is incomplete. Incompleteness is a defect.

    It is made complete and perfected in the addition of the virtues through the faithfulness which arises out of submitting ourselves to the patterning that Hays describes.

    And at that point, it becomes meritorious (in a good way) in the eyes of God. Otherwise, it merits God’s punishment.

    Matthew 25:31-46
    King James Version (KJV)
    31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:… 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:…..45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
    That is the language of merit.
    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  270. SS,

    Sorry for the format errors. I hope it isn’t too hard to make out. I’m getting sort of embarrassed to double post so frequently.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  271. Well, I think St. Paul said that the Jews had been given their opportunity. Remember?

    Acts 13:46
    Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles

    DeMaria,

    Undoubtedly many Jews rejected the Gospel. But you are reading too much into his statement to the Jews of Pisidian Antioch (middle of Turkey). Paul’s words there regarding his turning to the gentiles were not meant to be an outright rejection of the Jews, but instead an act that would shame them into believing and push them towards jealousy as he himself states in Romans 11:

    “13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.”

    Further, considering the context of Acts 13, only a few verses later, the Scripture states in chap 14, vv. 1-2:

    “At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. ”

    So again, this shows that you are reading replacement theology into Acts 13 when it is wholly unnecessary. There were Jews who responded to the Gospel, and others who rejected it. The ones that did embrace the Gospel show up again in Acts 21:

    “15 And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. 17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.” 20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.

    Try this experiment: go to a bible study (catholic or protestant) and ask the question: Has God rejected the Jews? I can almost guarantee you that a majority will say yes, especially if they are catholic. The only problem with that is that it’s not how Paul answered the question.

    “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!”

    The judgment of Chorazin and Bethsaida is also by no means a wholesale rejection of the people of Israel. Remember, Paul, Peter, James, John and the elders were all jews. Believing Jews, but Jews nonetheless. Paul never identifies himself as “christian”, but rather as a Jew.

    “17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree , 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

    The problem with the Gentile church over history, is that it usurped its rightful place early on and continues to boast over the natural branches today. Not only has the attitude done untold damage to the effectiveness of the Gospel, but it has resulted in centuries of persecution which will be repaid at the judgment. Even today, gentile theologians refuse to partake of the fatness of the olive tree, and seek to marginalize Jewish believer/theologians who have tremendous insights into the Jewish roots of the Scriptures. It’s a shame if you ask me. The church is need of repentance: the original church was ONE Tree with Two Branches. Not one tree with one branch.

  272. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    The Christian paradigm is not altogether Jewish. If it were, the Jews would have accepted Him. But they didn’t. Proving that it isn’t.

    See above. The problem again is with your inferences. One tree, two branches, a jewish and a gentile one. Not just one branch comprised of gentiles. That is why Paul says neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters, but faith working through love, brought to life in Timothy on the one hand who was circumcised by Paul, and Titus who wasn’t. The verse is not meant to be read to collapse identities but to properly cause them to stand as they were meant to stand, side by side, as a witness to the whole world that God is impartial and accepts men from all nations (yes, even the Jewish nation!) who fear Him.

    That is difficult to understand. Let me break it down.
    1. It is not logical (non sequitur)
    2. To argue IF the adding to one’s faith is not praiseworthy (meritorious).
    3. THEN it can’t be basis on which one shall be judged one day.
    Hm? I don’t agree with the presupposition. But the logic seems sound to me. You are speaking in reference to 2 Pet 1:4-10, right?
    That verse is based upon the supposition that we will be judged by what we do, then, if they supplant that supposition with their own, they can supplant the logic as well.

    You misunderstood what I said. The non sequitur is assuming that because we are judged by our deeds/works it must therefore follow that our works have merit. I adduced Luke 17:10 (the language of humility) which shows that the works themselves are to be viewed as our duty only, and hence non meritorious. When God rewards a man with salvation on the basis of his deeds, it is not because of the merit of the deeds, but because of His grace. I affirm fully that it is on the basis of our deeds/words that we shall be judged.

    Let me illustrate: If I tell my young son who rebelled against me but came back and repented, I put you in charge of a section of the family business. And he does the best he can, tending to that section. When times comes, and I reward him with an inheritance, it will not be on the basis of his merit, but on the basis of my grace towards him. Because I had not chosen to grace him, no amount of work on his part would have sufficed. So whatever good tending he did was his duty, not anything he could claim merit in.

    The rest of your post is based on misunderstanding and I just don’t have the time to go into it right now.

  273. +JMJ+

    SS,

    Here’s what seems to be going on here… I think that everyone can agree that, in order for one to be a Christian, one needs to have some sort of “connection” or “relation” with Christ. No one gets the name “Christian” simply because they decide to claim His Name.

    For the Catholic, he gets this ontological connection by approaching the Church and receiving baptismal initiation. This incorporates him into Christ.

    As I understand it, for the Reformist, an invisible spiritual rebirth, discontinuous from everyday life, needs to happen to him. That one confesses Christ is considered reasonable evidence that one has been regenerated.

    But you seem to be saying that a Jew, simply by virtue of his Jewishness, simply because of his Jewishness, is not only regenerated and thus a Christian, but also automatically gains a position of formal ecclesial authority. Maybe this isn’t what you’re saying, but this is the impression that I’ve been getting over the course of your posts.

  274. Hi SS, you said:

    SS March 31, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    See above. The problem again is with your inferences. One tree, two branches, a jewish and a gentile one. Not just one branch comprised of gentiles.

    Nope. I’m not the one with the problem. Jesus instituted a different paradigm based upon the Jewish paradigm, but different nonetheless. See the beatitudes.

    That is why Paul says neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters, but faith working through love, brought to life in Timothy on the one hand who was circumcised by Paul, and Titus who wasn’t. The verse is not meant to be read to collapse identities but to properly cause them to stand as they were meant to stand, side by side, as a witness to the whole world that God is impartial and accepts men from all nations (yes, even the Jewish nation!) who fear Him.

    But not separately. They are one. That is why it says, neither Greek nor Jew nor anything. Not even man or woman.

    You misunderstood what I said. The non sequitur is assuming that because we are judged by our deeds/works it must therefore follow that our works have merit.

    Ok. But I think I addressed that supposition later.

    I adduced Luke 17:10 (the language of humility) which shows that the works themselves are to be viewed as our duty only, and hence non meritorious.

    Since when is work performed out of a sense of duty, non-meritorious?

    When God rewards a man with salvation on the basis of his deeds, it is not because of the merit of the deeds, but because of His grace.

    Amen. But it is still a reward.

    He rewards good deeds and punishes evil deeds.
    Hebrews 11:6
    But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
    See also Romans 2:1-13

    I affirm fully that it is on the basis of our deeds/words that we shall be judged.
    Let me illustrate: If I tell my young son who rebelled against me but came back and repented, I put you in charge of a section of the family business. And he does the best he can, tending to that section. When times comes, and I reward him with an inheritance, it will not be on the basis of his merit, but on the basis of my grace towards him.

    It may be unspoken, but it will be on the basis of both.
    1. If he doesn’t come back, will you give him the inheritance? If you do, then that would be pure grace.

    2. However, if there is a criteria (i.e. And he does the best he can, tending to that section) then you will judge whether he did the best he could do and
    judge him on the merit IN YOUR EYES.

    This is what God does. He doesn’t call us to succeed. He calls us to obedience. If we obey, He rewards us. If we don’t, He punishes us.

    That is merit which He judges. He judges whether our works are rewardable or punishable.

    Because I had not chosen to grace him, no amount of work on his part would have sufficed. So whatever good tending he did was his duty, not anything he could claim merit in.

    Since when is duty performed considered unmeritable?

    The rest of your post is based on misunderstanding and I just don’t have the time to go into it right now.

    No problem. The bottom-line is this. God rewards those who keep the Commandments and punished those who don’t. That is judgement based upon merit in His eyes.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  275. Hi SS,

    You said: SS March 31, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    DeMaria,
    Undoubtedly many Jews rejected the Gospel. ….So again, this shows that you are reading replacement theology into Acts 13 when it is wholly unnecessary.

    No, no. You are reading replacement theology into my words. But I don’t even know what that is.

    I do know this though. The Scripture says that the Old Testament vanished away:
    Hebrews 8:13
    In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

    And that Christ fulfilled the Old:
    Hebrews 9:15-17
    King James Version (KJV)
    15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance 16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator 17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

    There were Jews who responded to the Gospel, and others who rejected it. The ones that did embrace the Gospel show up again in Acts 21:

    No doubt. But if they are in Christ, they are no longer Jews:
    Galatians 3:28
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Colossians 3:11
    Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

    “15 And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. 17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.” 20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.

    St. James, I believe that is who is speaking, is explaining to St. Paul that many of the Jews who have converted to Christ, still observe the law of Moses, including the circumcision which St. Paul is preaching against.

    Try this experiment: go to a bible study (catholic or protestant) and ask the question: Has God rejected the Jews? I can almost guarantee you that a majority will say yes, especially if they are catholic. The only problem with that is that it’s not how Paul answered the question.
    “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!”

    1. That is neither here nor there, because I never said that God rejected the Jews. I said that the Jews, for the most part, rejected Jesus the Christ. They are still awaiting a Messiah, am I right or wrong?

    The judgment of Chorazin and Bethsaida is also by no means a wholesale rejection of the people of Israel. Remember, Paul, Peter, James, John and the elders were all jews. Believing Jews, but Jews nonetheless.

    Two things there.
    1. St. Paul did not exclude himself or any of the Apostles when he said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    2. There is another saying though:
    Romans 2:27-29
    King James Version (KJV)
    27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

    Therefore, St. Paul is saying that the believing Greek who is baptized (inward circumcision) is a true Jew. Truer than the one who is circumcised.

    Paul never identifies himself as “christian”, but rather as a Jew.

    St. Paul said that the Baptized are new creatures IN CHRIST. St. Paul was baptized.
    2 Corinthians 5:17
    Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

    “17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree , 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

    The problem with the Gentile church over history, is that it usurped its rightful place early on and continues to boast over the natural branches today.

    That is your opinion.
    1. The Catholic Church is the Universal Church. Not the Church of the Gentiles only.

    2. The Catholic Church acknowledges that God brought the New Covenant to an end by Jesus Christ. It is no more.

    Not only has the attitude done untold damage to the effectiveness of the Gospel, but it has resulted in centuries of persecution .

    The persecution of the Jews has come about as a result of their own hard heartedness. They have no one else to blame.

    which will be repaid at the judgment

    That is true of those who relish in the persecution of the people of God. But not if the punishment is a natural result of their own disobedience.

    Even today, gentile theologians refuse to partake of the fatness of the olive tree, and seek to marginalize Jewish believer/theologians who have tremendous insights into the Jewish roots of the Scriptures.

    Any Jews who believe in Christ will submit to His Church. Otherwise, they scatter:
    Matthew 12:30
    He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

    It’s a shame if you ask me. The church is need of repentance: the original church was ONE Tree with Two Branches. Not one tree with one branch.

    No. The Catholic Church is one Tree with many branches. Innumerable amount of branches. The Jews who are grafted back find it a very natural place to be. It is their spiritual home, should they choose to come back home.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  276. De Maria,

    You said,

    The persecution of the Jews has come about as a result of their own hard heartedness. They have no one else to blame.

    Finally, someone posting who actually knows what Rome has believed historically. Of course, to say that the Jews somehow merited their persecution by those professing Christ makes a complete joke of what Christ said about His people, but that’s another issue. Your comment also flies in the face of much of what Rome said about the Jews at Vatican 2 and more recently, but we’ve already seen that one can be a good Roman Catholic and ignore church teaching. Just ask Biden and Pelosi.

  277. Robert said:

    Finally, someone posting who actually knows what Rome has believed historically.

    Its from Scripture Robert. Try reading it sometime.

    Deuteronomy 28:15
    But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
    16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.

    17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.

    18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

    19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

    20 The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.

    21 The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.

    22 The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.

    23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.

    24 The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

    25 The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.

    26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.

    27 The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.

    28 The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:

    29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

    30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.

    31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.

    32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long; and there shall be no might in thine hand.

    33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:

    34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

    35 The Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.

    36 The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.

    37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.

    38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.

    39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.

    40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.

    41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.

    42 All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.

    43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.

    44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.

    45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:

    46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.

    47 Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;….

    Keep reading. That’s not all.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  278. But you seem to be saying that a Jew, simply by virtue of his Jewishness, simply because of his Jewishness, is not only regenerated and thus a Christian, but also automatically gains a position of formal ecclesial authority. Maybe this isn’t what you’re saying, but this is the impression that I’ve been getting over the course of your posts.

    The promises of God to His people are irrevocable. I didn’t say that, Paul did (Romans 11) If God has promised to the Jew and delivers on that promise, who is man to question Him? Will He not have mercy on whom He will have mercy and compassion on whom He will have compassion? I know, foolishness to the Greek…

    Acts 21 says that many thousands of jewish men believed in Christ and were zealous for the law. They weren’t christians, they were Jewish believers with Yeshua as their Messiah.It’s not because they were of a superior ethnicity, but because they believed in Him that they were regenerated.

    As for ecclesiological authority, you seem to have a problem with Jewish believers such as James, Peter, John and others leading the church in Acts 15. Why? Because they’re not Italian? What’s so offensive about a church led by Jewish believers or Jewish believers and Gentile believers? I understand that this is in contravention of your own ecclesiology, but history is what it is, and so are the promises of God.

  279. The persecution of the Jews has come about as a result of their own hard heartedness. They have no one else to blame.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex863pm0j3A

  280. +JMJ+

    Wosbald wrote:
    .
    But you seem to be saying that a Jew, simply by virtue of his Jewishness, is not only regenerated and thus a Christian, but also automatically gains a position of formal ecclesial authority. Maybe this isn’t what you’re saying, but this is the impression that I’ve been getting over the course of your posts.

    .
    SS wrote:
    .
    The promises of God to His people are irrevocable. I didn’t say that, Paul did (Romans 11) If God has promised to the Jew and delivers on that promise, who is man to question Him? Will He not have mercy on whom He will have mercy and compassion on whom He will have compassion? I know, foolishness to the Greek…
    .
    Acts 21 says that many thousands of jewish men believed in Christ and were zealous for the law. They weren’t christians, they were Jewish believers with Yeshua as their Messiah.It’s not because they were of a superior ethnicity, but because they believed in Him that they were regenerated.
    .
    As for ecclesiological authority, you seem to have a problem with Jewish believers such as James, Peter, John and others leading the church in Acts 15. Why? Because they’re not Italian? What’s so offensive about a church led by Jewish believers or Jewish believers and Gentile believers? I understand that this is in contravention of your own ecclesiology, but history is what it is, and so are the promises of God.

    So, that really is what you believe? I figured that I must’ve been reading you wrong.

    Firstly, it seems that your belief in regeneration pretty much follows the classic, spiritualized Protestant model (in that smply coming to the realization that one “believes in Jesus” is solid moral ground for believing that oneself is Regenerate). And so, there’s really nothing new and revolutionary here (unless one considers the revolutionary quality of the Reformo-Enlightenment thought as compared the worldview of ancient faith traditions.)

    But secondly, as to your contention that Jews automatically become hierarchs simply by virtue of their Jewishness, well, that’s a new one to my ears. Assuming that I’m reading you right, I don’t know what else to say about that except that this violates Catholic belief in the Supranational character of the Church. I’m glad that you put it out there, though, because it does help to crystalize your position for me.

    AFAIAC, your position (the importance of natural, national blood) is a return to the OT paradigm. This is, in a way, strangely parallel to Reformism’s own return to the OT (the insistence upon Christ perfectly keeping the Old Law). Just like the Reformed, your position is a strange mix of the Modern (Enlightenment philosophy) and the pre-Christian (a return the imperfect shadows of the OT World). This leads me to believe that, for both you and the Reformed, it is the common influence of the Reformo-Enlightenment error which necessitates a return to pre-Christic incompleteness. You just express this flight to the OT in different ways.

  281. Wosbald,

    Expressions of surprise and ad hominems do not constitute an argument. When you decide to engage with Scripture and the promises of God to the Jews, I’ll be happy to respond. Until then, God Bless.

  282. +JMJ+

    SS wrote:

    Wosbald,
    Expressions of surprise and ad hominems do not constitute an argument. When you decide to engage with Scripture and the promises of God to the Jews, I’ll be happy to respond. Until then, God Bless.

    One would need to have an a prioribelief in the Scriptures as being Public Divine Revelation in order to even consider the possibility that God has made some sort of “promise” to the Jews. Since Catholics have no intention of conceding that belief and arguing from a fideistic position, we simply have to treat Scripture as an historical document only.

    Therefore, I’m simply attempting to unpack your argument for my own benefit and the benefit of others. If we all know your paradigmatic assumptions, then we can level the playing field and better address your claims.

    But as is the case with the other Protestants, I think that your position goes off the rails on a purely Natural and philosophical level (your Enlightenment thinking) before it even gets the chance to make any sort of faith claim. Once one claims that initiation into a Divine Reality comes from a realm wholly discontinuous with organic everyday life, any claim that an organic reality is the way and means by which Man gets to know God is shattered. The attempt to tie this spiritualized faith encounter back into an organic reality (which, in your case, would be the Jewish Nation) is a purely secondary concern.

    However, just by taking into account your own professed belief in the Incarnation, I’ll offer the following…

    If, on the one hand, you claim to bring your spiritually-derived knowledge of Christ to the Jewish culture (just as the Reformed bring their spiritually-derived knowledge of Christ to the Scriptures) while on the other hand you claim to derive your materially-derived knowledge of Christ from the Jewish culture (just as the Reformed claim to derive their materially-derived knowledge of Christ from the Scriptures), then you both end up in the same schizophrenic and bifurcated boat. This is not surprising considering your shared adherence to Enlightenment dualism.

    But given this, your view of the Church is just as un-Incarnational as is the Reformed view. The Incarnation, in which you profess belief, is as odds with your religious praxis. Under both your view and the Reformed view, neither the Jewish culture nor the Scriptures are enough, by themselves, to initiate Man into communion with Jesus Christ. A “something else” is missing; a spiritualized regeneration (or “quickening”). The seamless union between Heaven and Earth, the meaning of the Incarnation, is missing in both of these worldviews. Perhaps, this is something upon which you should mull.

  283. Wosbald,

    I can’t speak for SS, but for me you once again seem to be moving your lips but not saying anything.

    How is your position less “fideistic” than anyone else’s?

    To call Scripture only a historical document requires an assent of faith alone. You weren’t there when they were written.

    To say initiation into the Divine life comes from a realm congruous with supernatural reality is also a faith claim. How do you know that realm is congruous with it.

    This is also a false caricature of at least the traditional Protestant view of regeneration:

    Once one claims that initiation into a Divine Reality comes from a realm wholly discontinuous with organic everyday life, any claim that an organic reality is the way and means by which Man gets to know God is shattered.

    Since we believe regeneration occurs by the Spirit, who was poured out and sent via the ministry of the Christ and His union of the supernatural and the natural, initiation does not come from a realm wholly discontinuous with “organic everyday life.” Furthermore, since the incarnation was possible at all, that means that the natural is not inherently opposed to the supernatural. There is a distinction, but not an unbridgeable one. So for the Spirit to operate from the supernatural to the natural does not necessitate your conclusion at all, no matter how flowery philosophical you try to make it.

  284. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    Wosbald,
    I can’t speak for SS, but for me you once again seem to be moving your lips but not saying anything.
    How is your position less “fideistic” than anyone else’s?
    To call Scripture only a historical document requires an assent of faith alone. You weren’t there when they were written.

    This doesn’t make sense, given the ground rules of Jason’s blog. We’re treating Scripture as the Natural Man would. This means that we place it on the same essential level as the Constitution or the Koran or the back of a box of Froot Loops. If you’re arguing from a POV that assumes the Public Divine Revelatory character of the Bible, then this would explain a lot of the static in these threads.

    Robert wrote:

    Since we believe regeneration occurs by the Spirit, who was poured out and sent via the ministry of the Christ and His union of the supernatural and the natural, initiation does not come from a realm wholly discontinuous with “organic everyday life.”

    Of course, it does, as the whole Visible/Invisible Church dichotomy amply demonstrates. If someone came to a Reformed “visible” Church and asked to be incorporated into Jesus/given Regeneration, he would be told that they couldn’t do it for him and that it would have to come from the spiritual realm, unbidden and unapproachable. For the Reformed, Baptism may incorporate one into the “visible” church/covenant community, but it certainly doesn’t intrinsically bestow Regeneration. Otherwise, the Reformed wouldn’t need (and insist so stridently upon) the Visible/Invisible distinction.

  285. But as is the case with the other Protestants, I think that your position goes off the rails on a purely Natural and philosophical level (your Enlightenment thinking) before it even gets the chance to make any sort of faith claim.

    The seamless union between Heaven and Earth, the meaning of the Incarnation, is missing in both of these worldviews.

    Methinks this is a case of the kettle calling the pot non-Incarnational. 🙂

  286. Wosbald,

    This means that we place it on the same essential level as the Constitution or the Koran or the back of a box of Froot Loops.

    If the Bible is on the same essential level as these things, why in the %&$#& would anyone care what it has to say about any of these matters. I though everyone agreed the Bible is the Word of God.

  287. Wosbald,

    The Incarnation is a supernatural event and unique to the Scriptures. Your apprehension of the Incarnation and its ramifications for (incarnational sacramentalism in your case) are informed by your reading of the Scriptures. So in no way shape or form can you claim neutrality when you claim to argue on a purely natural basis.

    What I find rather amusing is that you are willing to discuss Scripture at length, having argued over the Gospels, the epistle to the Romans, James, Galatians and so on, but suddenly Romans 11 if off the table.

    Come on, be a big boy, take of the Incarno-Sacramental suit and cape, and discuss Scripture as you’ve done before.

    Shalom,
    Kettle

  288. +JMJ+

    SS wrote:

    The Incarnation is a supernatural event and unique to the Scriptures. Your apprehension of the Incarnation and its ramifications for (incarnational sacramentalism in your case) are informed by your reading of the Scriptures. So in no way shape or form can you claim neutrality when you claim to argue on a purely natural basis.

    Actually, when we’re discussing the Scriptures, we are most often arguing from natural grounds. Jason has said as much many times. His entire project is to examine the Scriptures by the light of reason and to see, from a purely human POV, which paradigm seems to better account for the totality of Scriptural data.

    OTOH, I will readily admit that Catholics have been pressured, by practical necessity, to argue from faith claims due Protestants often changing the ground of the discussion. (This is not to say that Catholics are insusceptible to chasing the occasional rabbit trail, of course.) We can either just rule out their objections entirely, or else we can attempt to deal with them on their own chosen ground. Sometimes this is profitable. Of course, this type of argument is usually only made fruitful when the Protestants in question accept the early Church Councils’ canonical formulations such as the Incarnation. Then, we can try to build upon ostensibly common understanding of such formulations. It is at this point where the Catholic Sacramental paradigm shines by showing it’s holistic consonance with the typifying significance of Incarnationalism. As I said, taking a common faith doctrine and relating it to how the doctrine is reflected and amplified (or diffused and diminished) by each of our respective paradigms can be profitable, at times. Not definitive, of course, but occasionally fertile. This is why I prefaced the second half of my last post to you (the half that dealt with faith claims) with the caveat: “just by taking into account your own professed belief in the Incarnation, I’ll offer the following…”

    But even this potentially fruitful methodology doesn’t apply to your interpretation of Romans 11 because your racial doctrine of Jews gaining ecclesial authority simply based upon their claiming of Jesus’ name is incompatible with Catholic Faith. There is no common doctrine. So, unless you want me to summarily rule out your position on a faith basis, we need to move the discussion to the Natural Order so as to see whether or not your paradigm is even philosophically workable, being compatible or not with real life organic realities. Then, at least, we’ll have a shot at something approaching a conversation.

  289. SS April 1, 2013 at 7:04 am
    The persecution of the Jews has come about as a result of their own hard heartedness. They have no one else to blame.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex863pm0j3A

    I don’t understand Portuguese. But it isn’t necessary to listen to any Chatolique confession. All you need to do is answer two questions.

    Did God prophesy that the Jews would not keep His commands? Yes or no.

    Did God prophecy what would happen to the Jews who di did not keep His Commands? Yes or no.

    You have your answer right there. God did not reject the Jews. But He had the Jews punished in order to bring them to repentance. The cycle continues to this day.

    Deuteronomy 28:45
    Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:

    Deut 30:
    17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;

    18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.

    19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

    20 That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

  290. Hello SS

    In your message of April 1, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Wosbald said:
    But you seem to be saying that a Jew, simply by virtue of his Jewishness, simply because of his Jewishness, is not only regenerated and thus a Christian, but also automatically gains a position of formal ecclesial authority. Maybe this isn’t what you’re saying, but this is the impression that I’ve been getting over the course of your posts.

    You replied:

    The promises of God to His people are irrevocable.

    True.

    I didn’t say that, Paul did (Romans 11)

    No he didn’t. God never promised that Jews would be acceptable to Him simply because they are Jews. St. Paul said:

    Romans 2:1-13
    King James Version (KJV)
    1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
    2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
    3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
    4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
    5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
    6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
    7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
    8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
    9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
    10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
    11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
    12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    Show me where you claim that St. Paul said that the Jews are regenerated simply by virtue of their Jewishness. Please provide the Chapter and verse.

    If God has promised to the Jew and delivers on that promise, who is man to question Him?

    God has made the same promise to all His faithful.

    Will He not have mercy on whom He will have mercy and compassion on whom He will have compassion?

    Yes. He has revealed that He will have mercy on all who keep His commandments.
    Exodus 20:6
    King James Version (KJV)
    6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

    I know, foolishness to the Greek…
    Acts 21 says that many thousands of jewish men believed in Christ and were zealous for the law. They weren’t christians, they were Jewish believers with Yeshua as their Messiah.It’s not because they were of a superior ethnicity, but because they believed in Him that they were regenerated.

    They were regenerated because they believed in Him and were baptized. Belief entails obedience. You said so yourself:
    Mark 16:16
    King James Version (KJV)
    16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    As for ecclesiological authority, you seem to have a problem with Jewish believers such as James, Peter, John and others leading the church in Acts 15. Why?

    Says who? I didn’t see any Catholic complaining about the fact that these Saints were born as Jews. It is you who seem to have the problem with the fact that they gave away all that came before Christ:

    Philippians 3:1-9
    King James Version (KJV)
    1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
    2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
    3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
    4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
    5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
    6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
    7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
    8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
    9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

    When they turned to Christ, they gave up everything, including their Jewishness:

    Galatians 3:28
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Because they’re not Italian?

    There are many Italian Jews. And many Jews of many nationalities who have converted to the true faith of Jesus Christ which can only be found in the Catholic Church.

    What’s so offensive about a church led by Jewish believers or Jewish believers and Gentile believers?

    Nothing. But you need to answer the last part of that question. What is so offensive to about a Church led by Gentile believers, TO YOU? Because God did not set a bloodline prerequisite in the Church. God says:

    Romans 2:29
    But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

    That describes a Christian whether he be of Jewish stock or of Gentile stock. It does not describe a Jew who denies Christ.

    I understand that this is in contravention of your own ecclesiology, but history is what it is, and so are the promises of God.

    On the contrary, this is contravention of your presuppositions which do not line up either with history or Scripture or the promises of God. God did not promise faithless Jews anything but punishment. The Jews which converted to Christ are in the Catholic Church and no longer consider themselves Jews. They are now Christians.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  291. DeMaria,

    Most of the above is a straw man argument. Nowhere have I said that God has chosen Jews regardless of whether they believe in Christ or not.

    That God has blessed all nations through the Jews does not entail that He does not bless the Jews as well. That’s a blatant non sequitur in your thinking. Paul emphatically rejects any notion that God is done away with the Jews as a people:

    Romans 11:

    ” I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself , a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people , whom he foreknew.”

    He identifies himself as an Israelite (and in the book of Acts as a Jew), not as part of some amorphous mass of people or even as a christian. The promise applies to believing Jews as we see in Acts 15 and Acts 21. Turning to Christ does not necessitate a repudiation of one’s Jewishness, as is exceedingly clear in Acts 21 where many thousands of Jews are said to be believers and zealous for the Law.

    Likewise Gal 3:28 is not about the disintegration of diversity within the body of Christ but rather upholds the truth that men are saved by faith in Christ. The verse itself proves this by juxtaposing Jew Greek to male and female:

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”

    My question to you is this: Does the fact that salvation comes through Christ negate the distinction between male and female? If your wife is a believer, is she no longer a female for being so? Clearly, therefore, Paul did not at all mean that there is no such thing as Jew, but only a convert to Christianity. This is a deliberate twisting of his words to support your baseless ecclesiology. You do the same with Rom 2:29, which clearly speaks of a Jew. You have to eisegetically insert “christian” where Jew is instead.

    What is so offensive to about a Church led by Gentile believers, TO YOU?

    The issue isn’t about offense, but rather the unbiblical nature of such a state of affairs. The church was originally led by Jewish believers. No amount of hemming and hawing can erase that fact. And no amount of replacement theology can remove the promise of God to Jews who embrace Messiah. If one approaches the Biblical data with integrity and honesty, one at the very minimum would expect to see Jewish believers in cooperation/union with Gentile believers at the helm of the church. But this is nowhere to be found, given the domination of Gentiles since the days of Constantine and continued on with the protestant reformation.

    Romans 15:
    25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

    Again above, Paul does not conflate Jews and Gentiles. In fact, he states that the gentiles OWE the Jews and should be sharing material blessings with them. Your ecclesiology has no room for such thought, because it has usurped its authority and unilaterally set itself up aside from the will of God. Same for Protestantism, which grants itself authority apart from the Biblical precedent and claims that there is no such thing as a Jewish believer, only a Jewish convert to Christianity.

  292. Demaria,

    I noticed that your last post conveniently skips any response to my pointing to Acts 14. LOL.

    You had earlier argued that Paul had rejected the Jews since he said in Acts 13 that he was going to the gentiles. You said

    “Well, I think St. Paul said that the Jews had been given their opportunity. Remember?”

    So I pointed you to Acts 14 which states that

    14 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed….”

    If a great number of Jews believed in Christ, they must have therefore been in the audience when Paul preached.

    So my question to you is: why did Paul preach to Jews if ‘he had given the Jews their opportunity’ and they had missed it?

  293. I don’t understand Portuguese. But it isn’t necessary to listen to any Chatolique confession

    Why do you hide cowardly from the truth? You don’t understand Portuguese?

    They catholic priests are speaking english, so what will you say next? You don’t understand english as well?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex863pm0j3A

    Watch. Listen. Learn of the rotten fruit your church has produced over the centuries.

  294. . SS April 3, 2013 at 12:05 pm ?DeMaria,?Most of the above is a straw man argument.

    It is you putting forth the straw men arguments.

    Nowhere have I said that God has chosen Jews regardless of whether they believe in Christ or not.

    Does that mean that you do not believe that God has chosen the unbelieving Jews over Christians? Or are you playing with words?

    Say it directly. Because this is how you responded to Wosbald.

    Wosbald wrote:?.?But you seem to be saying that a Jew, simply by virtue of his Jewishness, is not only regenerated and thus a Christian, but also automatically gains a position of formal ecclesial authority. Maybe this isn’t what you’re saying, but this is the impression that I’ve been getting over the course of your posts.

    Here is what you responded:

    The promises of God to His people are irrevocable. I didn’t say that, Paul did .…

    Essentially agreeing that you believe that God has chosen the Jews regardless of whether they believe in Christ or not.

    If that is not what you meant by those words, then explain yourself.

    That God has blessed all nations through the Jews does not entail that He does not bless the Jews as well.

    Besides the point. Do you or do you not believe that God has chosen the Jews regardless of whether they believe in Christ or not?

    That’s a blatant non sequitur in your thinking. Paul emphatically rejects any notion that God is done away with the Jews as a people:

    I didn’t say He had done away with the Jewish people. But He has done away with the Jewish religion. Do you deny it?

    ?

    Romans 11:?” I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself , a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people , whom he foreknew.”?He identifies himself as an Israelite (and in the book of Acts as a Jew), not as part of some amorphous mass of people or even as a christian.

    St. Paul rejects everything that came before his knowledge of Christ and counts it dung. He counts his Jewish bloodline dung. That is what he said:

    Philippians 3
    King James Version (KJV)
    1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
    3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

    4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

    5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
    6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

    The promise applies to believing Jews as we see in Acts 15 and Acts 21.

    But not exclusively:
    Acts 10:
    34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
    42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
    47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

    Turning to Christ does not necessitate a repudiation of one’s Jewishness,

    1. I didn’t say it did.

    2. And the Apostles did not cling to their Jewishness as evidenced by what St. Paul said in the previous example.

    3. And they are as much our example as they are any person who claims to believe in Christ:
    1 Corinthians 11:1
    Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

    as is exceedingly clear in Acts 21 where many thousands of Jews are said to be believers and zealous for the Law.

    These are the same Circumcisers who were later repudiated for wanting to continue in circumcision and the ordinances which Christ crucified to the Cross:
    Acts 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;

    9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

    10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

    Likewise Gal 3:28 is not about the disintegration of diversity within the body of Christ but rather upholds the truth that men are saved by faith in Christ.

    Then you understand that Jews who do not believe in Christ have no place in the Church (i.e. Body of Christ), is that right?

    The verse itself proves this by juxtaposing Jew Greek to male and female:?“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”?My question to you is this: Does the fact that salvation comes through Christ negate the distinction between male and female? If your wife is a believer, is she no longer a female for being so?

    1 Corinthians 2:14
    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    There is no male or female where it comes to salvation in Christ. We are all married to Christ, male or female. Do you understand that?

    Romans 7:4
    Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

    THAT is why there is no more male or female in Christ.

    Clearly,

    Clearly you are interpreting the Scripture in a natural and not a spiritual manner. There is no Jew or Greek in Christ. There is no slave or free. There is no male or female.

    therefore, Paul did not at all mean that there is no such thing as Jew,

    Yes, he did. And we can see that in the Catholic Church today. For as you have shown, the foundation of the Church is Jew. But try to find them now, if you can. Those who Jews who became Catholic considered their Jewishness dung. And those Gentiles who became Christians likewise considered their Gentile heritage dung. They became one in Christ.

    but only a convert to Christianity. This is a deliberate twisting of his words to support your baseless ecclesiology.

    So far, it is your theology which is baseless. There is nothing in Scripture which supports your idea that the Jews are somehow to be exhaled over other Christians. In fact, anyone who is faithful to Christ and accepts Spiritual circumcision is a truer Jew than any Jew born of Jews.

    You do the same with Rom 2:29, which clearly speaks of a Jew. You have to eisegetically insert “christian” where Jew is instead.

    Nope. You have simply forgotten the spiritual aspect of the Word of God.
    ?

    What is so offensive to about a Church led by Gentile believers, TO YOU? ?The issue isn’t about offense, but rather the unbiblical nature of such a state of affairs.

    When St. Paul appointed Sts. Titus and Timothy to Bishopricks, he appointed them to the highest office in the Church. Even the Pope is a Bishop. Even Jesus is a Bishop.

    The church was originally led by Jewish believers.

    Originally. But nothing in Scripture requires this state of affairs to continue.

    No amount of hemming and hawing can erase that fact.

    That is another straw man of yours. Show me where I denied it?

    And no amount of replacement theology

    You’re the only one mentioning replacement theology.

    can remove the promise of God to Jews who embrace Messiah.

    Nor the promise of God to the Gentiles who embrace the Messiah.

    If one approaches the Biblical data with integrity and honesty,

    Which I do.

    one at the very minimum would expect to see Jewish believers in cooperation/union with Gentile believers at the helm of the church.

    We do. There are many descendants of Jews in the Catholic Church.

    You don’t consider them Jews because they aren’t recent converts or sons and daughters of unbelieving Jews.

    But this is nowhere to be found, given the domination of Gentiles since the days of Constantine and continued on with the protestant reformation.

    Your problem is that you, a Jew born of unbelieving Jews, no longer recognize the Jews who became Christians in the first centuries of Christianity. They became one with Christ.

    You consider everyone a Gentile who is not born of unbelieving Jews. But the fact is that every Gentile who came to Christ is a truer Jew than an unbelieving Jew. And every Jew who came to Christ is a true Jew than an unbelieving Jew.

    Jewishness if not of blood. But of faith.
    ?

    Romans 15:?25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. ”?Again above, Paul does not conflate Jews and Gentiles. In fact, he states that the gentiles OWE the Jews and should be sharing material blessings with them.

    You are reading the Scriptures Protestant style. Taking what you want from here and leaving out what you don’t like from there.

    This says that the Gentile converts of that period owe the Jew of that period a material blessing. It does not say that the Jews will always be leaders of the Church. Nor does it deny the Gentiles the right to be leaders of the Church.

    Many centuries have passed and the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians have become one in Christ. They are indistinguishable in the Catholic Church.

    Your ecclesiology has no room for such thought, because it has usurped its authority and unilaterally set itself up aside from the will of God.

    Those Jewish converts and those Gentile converts are now one in Christ. IN the meantime, things have changed. We, the Christians, are the children of God now. We, Christians, are the true Jews by faith.

    Unbelieving Jews who convert to the Catholic faith today, owe us a debt. Because they now share in our Sacraments. Our spiritual blessings.

    Same for Protestantism, which grants itself authority apart from the Biblical precedent and claims that there is no such thing as a Jewish believer, only a Jewish convert to Christianity.

    You are a Protestant. You grant yourself authority apart from the Biblical precedent and apart from the Ecclesiological and Traditional precedent.

    Unless you become Catholic, you scatter with the Protestants.

  295. ??SS April 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm ?

    Demaria,?I noticed that your last post conveniently skips any response to my pointing to Acts 14. LOL.?You had earlier argued that Paul had rejected the Jews since he said in Acts 13 that he was going to the gentiles. You said?“Well, I think St. Paul said that the Jews had been given their opportunity. Remember?”?So I pointed you to Acts 14 which states that ?14 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed….”?If a great number of Jews believed in Christ, they must have therefore been in the audience when Paul preached. ?So my question to you is: why did Paul preach to Jews if ‘he had given the Jews their opportunity’ and they had missed it?

    In order to convert them to Christ. However, he did not say that Jewish converts would become the leaders of the Church in perpetuity. That is the claim you are making to which both Wosbald and I are objecting.

  296. ??SS April 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm ?

    I don’t understand Portuguese. But it isn’t necessary to listen to any Chatolique confession ?Why do you hide cowardly from the truth? You don’t understand Portuguese? ?They catholic priests are speaking english, so what will you say next? You don’t understand english as well?

    They started out speaking a foreign language which I couldn’t understand. I didn’t stick around to find out if they would ever interpret their words.

    I don’t appreciate your calling me a coward. If you want to make this discussion unpleasant, I can certainly oblige.
    ?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex863pm0j3A?Watch. Listen. Learn of the rotten fruit your church has produced over the centuries.

    Your people killed Christ. There is nothing worse than that.

    Its up to you if you want this to continue to be a pleasant exchange.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  297. Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee?
    Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.
    ’Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee!
    I crucified Thee.

  298. Look, I am not completely sure what this has devolved into, but I would urge you all to cease and desist. This is getting ugly, and I won’t permit it to continue.

    PS – Eric, amen. I am as guilty as anyone of Jesus’ death. Why God would save someone like me is beyond my comprehension.

  299. +JMJ+

    De Maria wrote:

    Your people killed Christ. There is nothing worse than that.

    Though it’s legitimate to say that the the Jews killed Christ (as long as it doesn’t exclude other, equally important, ways of nuancing the issue such as… that the Romans killed Him, that Mankind killed Him, and that each one of us killed Him [and I’m sure that you know this]), why even go down this road? Perhaps someone has been waiting for the thread to escalate into just this sort of hyper-polemical rhetoric. (Jew-Baiting can work in both directions, ya know.)

    Besides, even going down this road puts the stress on the wrong syllable. For the Natural Man investigating the historical evidence for any culturally-continuous custodians of this ‘Jesus of Nazareth’s’ legacy, Messianic Jews might well be the lowest on the list as far as Motives of Credibility go. (For myself, I would go one step further and say that if I wasn’t Catholic, I wouldn’t see any point in even being Christian. Though I might consider going to the Jews if I were investigating becoming OC Jewish, I would be much more likely to go Hindu.)

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