The Mediocrity of the New Covenant?

Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Beatitudes, Covenant Theology, Eschatology, Ethics, Featured, Galatians, Gospel, Hebrews, Holy Spirit, Law, Presbyterianism, Protestantism, Reformed Theology, Sanctification | 499 comments

According to Reformed Theology, even the “good works” which Christians are called to do are “tainted by sin”. And on top of that, Reformed theology says these “good works” are only pleasing to God in so far as they are “covered by the blood and righteousness of Christ”. But if you stop and think about what this is saying, no Christian should be comfortable with such teaching. Why would God give us a new heart and give us the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit if at the end of the day our “good works” are still as inadequate in God’s sight as before our conversion? Something isn’t right.

Such an understanding ultimately makes a mockery out of not only the new life which Christians are called to, but also the plain wording of the Scriptures which speak of “good works” without any qualification that they’re actually woefully imperfect works that are merely (graciously) imputed to be good. What happened to God’s unwavering standards of perfection that Reformed individuals like to brag about? Why is God all of the sudden fine with turning a blind eye to sin?

Jesus used the analogy of how a good tree produces good fruit and how a bad tree produces bad fruit, but this makes no sense if the good tree really doesn’t have the sufficient goodness within it to produce truly good fruit. Reformed theology would have us believe that the “good fruit” from the “good tree” is actually infested with at least a maggot or two (if not more), but that God is still pleased to impute goodness to the fruit.

It seems that Reformed Theology is operating from some flawed assumptions, and these assumptions are being projected onto the Scriptures, which in turn are “tainting” their reading of the Bible.

In the book of Hebrews, Chapters 8 and 10, we see the Old Testament prophecy from Jeremiah 31 about the “New Covenant” which Jesus would usher in. The prophecy says: “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, andwrite them on their hearts … and I will remember their sins no more.” Ezekiel says the same thing: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses … And I will give you a new heart … And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes andbe careful to obey my rules.” (36:25ff)

Based on these two clear passages, the New Covenant will be characterized by two marks: (1) the forgiveness of sins and (2) the renewal of the heart and gift of the Spirit so that we can keep God’s commandments. And these two marks are precisely what we see spelled out over and over in the New Testament, especially in Romans and Galatians.

Interestingly, these Old Testament prophecies make no mention of Christ’s Imputed Righteousness. No mention of the Messiah keeping the Commandments in our place because we’re unable to do so. In fact, it suggests just the opposite: God wants us to keep the Commandments, which is expressly why He renewed our hearts and gave us the Holy Spirit. How outrageous would it be to suggest God did these things so that we could be enabled to only half-heartedly keep His Commandments? God forbid!

In fact, Paul says explicitly that Christians are called to “fulfill the law” by loving God and neighbor, and he gives no qualifications suggesting either that Christ did this for us or that we aren’t really able to love. In Galatians 5:13f we read: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And in Romans 13:8ff we also read: “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Paul is giving practical commands to his listeners and is in no way suggesting they are incapable of this (and surely Paul is not suggesting mediocre love fulfills the law). And on top of this, in these very contexts Paul is speaking about Christians battling sin in their life, indicating that the struggle against sin doesn’t in any way disqualify a Christian from loving as God wants and us fulfilling the law.

It should be apparent that the only acceptable answer to all this is that Christians are capable of performing good works, truly capable of fulfilling the law, truly capable of following the beatitudes (Matthew 5:2ff), etc., in some true sense. Anything short of affirming this practically forces one to say God is pleased with mediocrity and that the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says when speaking of the Christian duty to perform good works.

499 Comments

  1. James–

    1. “What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.”

    2. If we are totally purified in Baptism, which takes but a few moments and causes no pain, why does it (seem to) take so long for Purgatory to get us clean…and probably hurt a good bit?

    3. If Nick’s original point was that without imputation we Protestants would stand condemned due to our ubiquitous defilement…why are Catholics not painted with the same brush…since without the Atonement, you would likewise be lost in your sin (no matter how inherent your rich-young-ruler righteousness)?

    4. You keep coming back to this inane argument that we hold to a standard that even Christ couldn’t keep. No, we don’t.

    5. His light burden is quite burdensome…to HIM…not to us. Do you somehow maintain that crucifixion was “just a walk in the park”?

    6. What difference does it make that God requires the cost to be paid? He himself pays the fine. What happens to sin covered by indulgences from the treasury of merit? Doesn’t someone other than the perpetrator “pay the fine,” so to speak? Doesn’t supererogation come under the same onus as imputation?

    7. If in this life penance is quite active, why is purgation passive after death?

    I didn’t ask Aquinas about the necessity of the Atonement; I asked you. Was it a difficult question for you to answer? Go cut and paste. It’ll take but a couple of minutes at best.

  2. Eric,

    Odd that even children can tell the difference between being tempted and acting on that temptation and also the difference between an action/intent that will ruin a friendship vs an action that can offend or annoy your friend but not destroy the friendship, but the adult sophistry of Calvinism cannot.

  3. Eric,

    “f we are totally purified in Baptism, which takes but a few moments and causes no pain, why does it (seem to) take so long for Purgatory to get us clean…and probably hurt a good bit?”

    Excellent question!
    Pre-Baptismal sins and all temporal punishment is wiped out when we become a new creation in Christ. We can only be baptized once.

    Post Baptismal sins are the sins of a Christian. Penance, a.k.a. suffering in union with Christ, is required now.

  4. James–

    We can sin by means of bad thoughts, words, and deeds (as well as by the omission of good thoughts, words and deeds). I doubt even you can tell at exactly what moment you go from visually appreciating a beautiful woman to lusting after her in your heart. I KNOW adolescent guys cannot!

    Children probably wouldn’t even comprehend the notion of coveting. A cookie is seen and that same cookie is coveted in one seemless thought.

    My wife, a couple of years ago, lost the friendship of the assistant pastor’s wife over something my wife supposedly said. The offending words were never revealed, and my wife racked her brain for what they might have been…and never came up with a logical answer.

    It is as plain as the nose on your face that children DO NOT know these things, and, for the most part, neither do adults. Maybe it’s time for you to revisit your certainty that Calvinism is illogical and uninsightful. Perhaps you do not have as good a grasp on the constitution of sin as you think you do.

  5. ERIC October 17, 2014 at 7:16 pm
    James–
    We can sin by means of bad thoughts, words, and deeds (as well as by the omission of good thoughts, words and deeds). I doubt even you can tell at exactly what moment you go from visually appreciating a beautiful woman to lusting after her in your heart. I KNOW adolescent guys cannot!
    Children probably wouldn’t even comprehend the notion of coveting. A cookie is seen and that same cookie is coveted in one seemless thought.
    My wife, a couple of years ago, lost the friendship of the assistant pastor’s wife over something my wife supposedly said. The offending words were never revealed, and my wife racked her brain for what they might have been…and never came up with a logical answer.
    It is as plain as the nose on your face that children DO NOT know these things, and, for the most part, neither do adults. Maybe it’s time for you to revisit your certainty that Calvinism is illogical and uninsightful. Perhaps you do not have as good a grasp on the constitution of sin as you think you do.

    Sooo, when you stand before the Throne of Christ you are going to plead ignorance? Let us know how that works for you. Come to think of it, are you sitting in Sing-sing or some other prison? Because if you don’t know the difference between right and wrong, you’re probably not a law abiding citizen.

    Certainly, children don’t know those things. That is why heaven is made up of such as they. But you are not an adult unless you can tell the difference between right and wrong. And if you can tell the difference between right and wrong, you know when you commit sin.

  6. Eric,

    Perhaps you do not have as good a grasp on the constitution of sin as you think you do.

    It is at this point that Roman Catholicism proves itself particularly unhelpful. The mortal/venial sin distinction is critical for salvation, but Rome can’t agree on all the sins that are mortal and all the sins that are venial. I could go to fifteen different priests and get thirty different answers.

  7. Eric,

    1. Initial justification is unmerited. So that citation is viewed in light of others such as:
    “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”
    “As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day”
    “God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”
    “whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
    “And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.”
    “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward”
    ““Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.”
    “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you”
    “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

    Note all these refer to eternal life, not just reward. And of course Abraham was justified before Gen 15.

    2. As Jim said, baptism makes us a new creature – that’s why we can’t just get baptized over and over again. Post-baptismal sin is not just about me and God, but the effects it has within me and to my neighbor.
    CCC: “But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused.”
    “On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.”
    “the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.””

    JP2: “The person must be gradually “healed” of the negative effects which sin has caused in him (what the theological tradition calls the “punishments” and “remains” of sin)….In this context temporal punishment expresses the condition of suffering of those who, although reconciled with God, are still marked by those “remains” of sin which do not leave them totally open to grace. Precisely for the sake of complete healing, the sinner is called to undertake a journey of conversion towards the fullness of love.”
    “Those who, after death, exist in a state of purification, are already in the love of Christ (that’s acceptance) who removes from them the remnants of imperfection ”

    3. I am not sure why you keep trying to posit this imputation – atonement at judgment parity. The atonement was required for sanctifying grace. And lots of other things were required for the atonement – Mary, Abraham, the Exodus, the Middle East, the Earth and solar system, Satan,the elements, physics, animals, etc. These things aren’t going to be all with me at judgment that God needs to look at to view me as just. Anyways, Nick’s point was that our good works – even with dross – are not worthy of punishment.

    4. I don’t see it as inane. Robert replied to Debbie: “Sure. But was your “something” of unending length and ever growing in intensity from start to finish? I notice you stopped at least to respond. Does not infinite love demand an infinite shout of praise? Maybe you are praising as you are typing?”

    which is very similar in perspective to your remark to me concerning venial sin and neglect:
    “If sins of omission (sins of neglect) are not sin, then sitting on ones hands and doing nothing to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, support the widow and the orphan, or visit the prisoner in jail…is fully compatible with the love of God in us.”

    5. Is Christ in a perpetual state of crucifixion? The point is you say even believers cannot bear the burden (contra John who says the commandments are not burdensome) – it is impossible (thus damnably sinning every second and best works are defiled) – that’s why Christ always has to bear it for you and your best works are covered with His justice. His yoke is light for you only because you are able to keep shrugging off the burden and giving him a heavy yoke – it’s a very weak unempowering view of grace.

    6. The difference was you were trying to pass off this free lunch. No free lunch with God’s justice. The merits of others can be applied to us given the communion of saints. They don’t “pay” for us – as JP2 remarked:

    “Just as in their earthly life believers are united in the one Mystical Body, so after death those who live in a state of purification experience the same ecclesial solidarity which works through prayer, prayers for suffrage and love for their other brothers and sisters in the faith. Purification is lived in the essential bond created between those who live in this world and those who enjoy eternal beatitude.”
    “This “distribution” [of saints merit] should not be understood as a sort of automatic transfer, as if we were speaking of “things”. It is instead the expression of the Church’s full confidence of being heard by the Father when — in view of Christ’s merits and, by his gift, those of Our Lady and the saints — she asks him to mitigate or cancel the painful aspect of punishment by fostering its medicinal aspect through other channels of grace. In the unfathomable mystery of divine wisdom, this gift of intercession can also benefit the faithful departed, who receive its fruits in a way appropriate to their condition…We can see, then, how indulgences, far from being a sort of “discount” on the duty of conversion, are instead an aid to its prompt, generous and radical fulfilment.”

    7. Because there is no opportunity to merit after death. Satisfaction during this life is meritorious though (that’s one reason why it’s better to undergo purification on earth).

  8. Eric,

    As for Aquinas, it’s just long. But ask and ye shall receive:

    First, to show why the atonement was not strictly necessary (if no satisfaction):

    “God of His omnipotent power could have restored human nature in many other ways….But if He had willed to free man from sin without any satisfaction, He would not have acted against justice. For a judge, while preserving justice, cannot pardon fault without penalty, if he must visit fault committed against another–for instance, against another man, or against the State, or any Prince in higher authority. But God has no one higher than Himself, for He is the sovereign and common good of the whole universe. Consequently, if He forgive sin, which has the formality of fault in that it is committed against Himself, He wrongs no one: just as anyone else, overlooking a personal trespass, without satisfaction, acts mercifully and not unjustly. And so David exclaimed when he sought mercy: “To Thee only have I sinned” (Psalm 50:6), as if to say: “Thou canst pardon me without injustice.”

    But then why satisfaction rather than divine fiat forgiveness?

    “God gave him His Son to satisfy for him, according to Romans 3:24-25: “Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood.” And this came of more copious mercy than if He had forgiven sins without satisfaction. Hence it is said (Ephesians 2:4): “God, who is rich in mercy, for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ.”

    “That man should be delivered by Christ’s Passion was in keeping with both His mercy and His justice. With His justice, because by His Passion Christ made satisfaction for the sin of the human race; and so man was set free by Christ’s justice: and with His mercy, for since man of himself could not satisfy for the sin of all human nature”

    Answering Whether there was any more suitable way of delivering the human race than by Christ’s Passion?:
    “Among means to an end that one is the more suitable whereby the various concurring means employed are themselves helpful to such end. But in this that man was delivered by Christ’s Passion, many other things besides deliverance from sin concurred for man’s salvation. In the first place, man knows thereby how much God loves him, and is thereby stirred to love Him in return, and herein lies the perfection of human salvation; hence the Apostle says (Romans 5:8): “God commendeth His charity towards us; for when as yet we were sinners…Christ died for us.” Secondly, because thereby He set us an example of obedience, humility, constancy, justice, and the other virtues displayed in the Passion, which are requisite for man’s salvation. Hence it is written (1 Peter 2:21): “Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps.” Thirdly, because Christ by His Passion not only delivered man from sin, but also merited justifying grace for him and the glory of bliss, as shall be shown later. Fourthly, because by this man is all the more bound to refrain from sin, according to 1 Corinthians 6:20: “You are bought with a great price: glorify and bear God in your body.” Fifthly, because it redounded to man’s greater dignity, that as man was overcome and deceived by the devil, so also it should be a man that should overthrow the devil; and as man deserved death, so a man by dying should vanquish death. Hence it is written (1 Corinthians 15:57): “Thanks be to God who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It was accordingly more fitting that we should be delivered by Christ’s Passion than simply by God’s good-will.”

    But then why the atonement necessary given satisfaction (besides just being most fitting way to express God’s justice and love as above)?

    “He properly atones for an offense who offers something which the offended loves equally, or even more than he detested the offense. But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race. First of all, because of the exceeding charity from which He suffered; secondly, on account of the dignity of His life which He laid down in atonement, for it was the life of one who was God and man; thirdly, on account of the extent of the Passion, and the greatness of the grief endured, as stated above (Question 46, Article 6). And therefore Christ’s Passion was not only a sufficient but a superabundant atonement for the sins of the human race; according to 1 John 2:2: “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.””

    Not Aquinas, but Ott: “By atonement in general is understood the satisfaction of a demand. In the narrower sense it is taken to mean the reparation of an insult: Satisfaction is nothing more than compensation for an injury done to another. This occurs through a voluntary performance which outweighs the injustice done. If such a performance through its intrinsic value completely counterbalances the grievousness of the guilt according to the demands of justice, the atonement is adequate or of full value….If the atonement is not performed by the offender himself, but by another in his stead it is vicarious atonement.”

    The offering/sacrifice has to adequately compensate for the debt – it cannot just be arbitrary. A mortal human could not satisfy our debt for example because our debt is infinite. Nor could Christ committing suicide or dying involuntarily or with resentment do it either.

    So Ott again: “The intrinsic reason of the adequacy of Christ’s atonement lies in the Hypostatic Union. Christ’s actions possess an intrinsic infinite value, because the [person doing the action] is the Divine Person of the Logos. Thus Christ’s atonement was, through its intrinsic value, sufficient to counterbalance the infinite insult offered to God.”

    Back to Aquinas: “He properly atones for an offense who offers something which the offended one loves equally, or even more than he detested the offense. But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race.”

    “The dignity of Christ’s flesh is not to be estimated solely from the nature of flesh, but also from the Person assuming it–namely, inasmuch as it was God’s flesh, the result of which was that it was of infinite worth.”

    “…although the grace of God suffices by itself for the remission of sins, as the nineteenth argument was proposing, nonetheless in the remission of sin something is required on the part of him whose sin is remitted: namely, that he satisfy the one offended. And since other men were unable to do this for themselves, Christ did this for all by suffering a voluntary death out of charity. ”

    “But it must further be noticed that satisfaction is also measured in accord with the dignity of him who satisfies. For one word of apology by a king offered in satisfaction for some injury is considered greater than if anyone else should either kneel, or prostrate naked, or undertake any humiliation to satisfy someone injured. No mere man, however, had that infinite dignity such that his satisfaction could be reputed worthy in respect to the injury done God. Hence, it was necessary that some man of infinite dignity be found who would undergo punishment for all and so satisfy fully for the sins of the whole world. For this, then, the only-begotten Word of God, true God and Son of God, assumed a human nature and willed to suffer death in it that satisfying He might cleanse the entire human race of sin. Hence, St. Peter also says, “Christ died once for our sins the Just for the unjust, that He might offer us to God” (1 Pet 3: 18).”

    And this also touches on the unfathomable extent of Christ’s suffering: “Christ grieved not only over the loss of His own bodily life, but also over the sins of all others. And this grief in Christ surpassed all grief of every contrite heart, both because it flowed from a greater wisdom and charity, by which the pang of contrition is intensified, and because He grieved at the one time for all sins, according to Isaiah 53:4: “Surely He hath carried our sorrows.”

  9. Eric, you write:

    For the sake of argument, I’ll grant you the mortal-venial distinction. It wouldn’t change a single thing for me because the difference between us is the respective evaluations of ourselves. You think of yourself as more or less free of mortal sin (granting the Catholic definition). I think of you (and all the rest of us, for that matter) as more or less permeated with mortal sin (using the Catholic definition).

    You say that for the sake of argument that you will grant me the mortal-venial sin distinction, but then you say that you see yourself as “permeated with mortal sin (using the Catholic definition).” To which I say, that is a lot of hogwash. If you were continually committing mortal sin (Catholic definition), the sins that you would be continually committing would be sins involving grave matter, that is, you would have to be constantly cheating on your wife, or be a serial killer like Ted Bundy or Gary Ridgeway. Which is why I don’t believe for a minute that your are granting to me the mortal sin- venial sin distinction in your counter argument.

    So, the only real difference between us is that I am a REPENTENT “stinking pile of filth” while you are an UNREPENTENT “stinking pile of filth.”

    This is utterly ridiculous. If you actually were constantly committing mortal sin (Catholic definition) then you would be anything BUT repentant, because the definition of repentant means to turn away. That is, if you were actually repentant, you would NOT be constantly committing mortal sin, because, by the grace of God you would have turned away from those deadly sins. As for your comment that I am unrepentant of my mortal sins, that is just another childish argument where you blather on concerning something that you can’t possibly know anything about.

  10. Mateo,

    You starry eyed optimist you! Maybe Eric is a serial killer. Take him at his word. He says he commits mortal sin all the time. He is either telling the truth or he is a liar. Either way, he is in trouble.
    Look at our own priestly scandal that Protestants love to trot out as proof of our wickedness. Eric is a dad, a husband, a well scrubbed church goer. He is an articulate and clever blogger on a Christian site. He is what folks would call a “Good Joe”, an ” All American Dad” or a “good neighbor”.

    Maybe “crafty” would be a better word than “clever”.

    Sorry Mateo, but I gotta believe Eric is a real Jekyll/Hyde character. By day, he is the upright Protestant gentleman. By night he prowls the alleys seeking victims of his totally depraved wants.

    Don’t answer this. Just think about it. Hmmmm?

  11. Mateo–

    Somehow, that’s what I thought you’d say. The only way you can retain a view of yourself that is free of mortal sin is to relegate mortal sin to the extreme range of sin. If you haven’t gang raped anybody, if you’re not guilty of genocide, if you’re not an axe murderer…well, then, you’re good as gold. Of course, you’re not any better than your agnostic, totally secular neighbor, but that’s no big deal. You’re righteous. Perfectly righteous. Who cares if almost everybody else is, too.

    Apparently, disobedience of the Ten Commandments means very little to you. You’ve never used God’s name to curse. You’ve never prioritized any earthly object or experience or person over God. You’ve never played with ouija boards or tarot cards or read your horoscope. You’ve never missed Mass when you had no good reason to do so. You’ve never held a job on Sundays, making it difficult or impossible to attend services for a good long stretch. You’ve never dishonored or disobeyed your parents. You’ve never disrespected your priest or your boss or your teacher or your congressman or your president. You’ve never insulted anyone or derided them. Never been angry with anyone for less than righteous reasons. You’ve never called anyone foolish…or dismissed their arguments as childish. You’ve never slapped or pushed or shoved or hit anyone, wishing they were out of your life for good. You’ve never viewed pornography. You’ve never lusted after a woman. You’ve never masturbated. You’ve never gone “too far” with a girlfriend before marriage. You’ve never cheated on your taxes. You’ve never rejoiced that a store made an error in your favor and then never gone back to return what you rightfully owe. You’ve never picked up money on the street and pocketed it rather than searching for the rightful owner. You’ve never stiffed a waitress, leaving her without a proper tip. You’ve never lied about anything. You’ve never gossiped about anyone. You’ve never wanted the shiny new things your rich neighbor possesses. You’ve never wished you had your best friend’s lovely girl friend. (You’ve never secretly wished you were a Protestant! 😉 )

    Your view of sin is not merely inadequate. It appears to be nearly nonexistent.

  12. Eric,

    Remember, in Roman Catholicism, everyone gets a free pass to heaven, except the REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bad people, of whom the RC interlocutor never is one because they keep going to mass, wearing the scapular, venerating saints, basically crossing all their t’s and dotting all their i’s.

    Modern day Pharisaism….

  13. Robert–

    Actually, their beliefs remind me more of Christian Smith’s moralistic, therapeutic deism (which is also rampant in most modern forms of Evangelicalism). They somehow think we’re all pretty good people way down deep.

    They seem to have little conviction of sin and are more or less Antinomian when it comes to genuine wrongdoing, while at the same time being fastidious in their ritual keeping (which has replaced commandment keeping). Like most postmodernists, they’re all about love and mercy (or, more precisely, tolerance and indulgence) except when it comes to a few Catholic shibboleths (homosexuality, contraception, abortion).

    Most thoroughly secular people I’ve met take offensive to being called sinners. They’re pretty good people, thank you very much. Catholics, even those who live wildly, have an almost identical reaction. No one is convicted of sin. And yet the society is falling apart….

  14. Roberto and Erico,

    Two Calvinistas having a ball on a Catholic site. Both of you must be feeling really good with yourselves eh? Funny dudes.

    Keep up with the tomes. And while you are here try not to misplace your election card. You know. The ones you have been hoarding since the foundation of the ant hill.

    Lol.

  15. Eric, you write:

    Somehow, that’s what I thought you’d say. The only way you can retain a view of yourself that is free of mortal sin is to relegate mortal sin to the extreme range of sin.

    Of course Catholics see mortal sin as a sin involving grave matter! You knew that already, so why you would NOT expect me to answer as I did proves nothing at all.

    Apparently, disobedience of the Ten Commandments means very little to you. You’ve never used God’s name to curse. You’ve never prioritized any earthly object or experience or person over God. You’ve never played with ouija boards or tarot cards or read your horoscope. You’ve never missed Mass when you had no good reason to do so. …

    Eric, you reveal once more that you do not know what you are talking about.

    I was an apostate for fifteen years, (which should be no surprise to you, seeing that I have already revealed that about my past life many times on this board). As an apostate, I lived a Christian hating, sex, drugs, rock and roll lifestyle. So yeah, on the list that you have given, I did commit many of those sins that you list. But I am no longer committing those sins because I am the repentant prodigal son:

    … the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. … when he came to himself he said… I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son …”‘
    Luke 15:17-19

    The prodigal son is me. I committed grave sin by loose living, and became dead in my trespasses. By the grace of God, I came to my senses, repented of my sins, and have been accepted back into my Father’s house.

    The story of the prodigal son is an explicit teaching by Jesus about how one can be a son in the family, but, through mortally sinning, become a dead son:

    It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was DEAD, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.
    Luke 15:32

    It was silly for you to quote the son “Amazing Grace” to me earlier, because I know exactly what John Newton is saying when he penned these words referencing Luke 15:32:

    “Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
    That saved a wretch; like me!
    I once was lost, but now am found,
    Was blind, but now I see.”

    Eric you accuse me of this:

    Your view of sin is not merely inadequate. It appears to be nearly nonexistent.

    You are wrong. I know the difference between sin that is deadly, and sin that is not deadly, because am an orthodox Christian that accepts what scripture teaches, and not a Calvinist heretic that denies the difference:

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

  16. Mikel,

    Don’t run off now. Stick around.
    You missed a doozie a couple of days ago when Tim Kauffman was on this blog with his crackpot theories of the Eucharist.
    We sure could have used your clear thinking and no nonsense perspective.( Maybe it was the “Two Years a Catholic” line )

  17. Eric,

    So I see you like the “Are You A Good Person” test.

    I learned to appreciate the Catholic and biblical distinction between mortal and venial sin by watching in amazement this weird test applied to kids who were unprepared to have it laid on them.

    On one hand, it is very powerful and at first, it seems the logic is iron clad. But after a while something snaps. It is manipulation.

    Plus, it is predicated on the error of penal substitution.

  18. Mateo–

    So, you acknowledge your sin in your former lawless life. Good for you. Now, acknowledge your present brokenness. Otherwise, I will assume you are still lost in your apostasy. Believers know their own wretchedness.

    Read 1 John 5 in context, or not at all. Do Catholics pray for those guilty of mortal sin? You bet your booty they do. Because they do not buy that 1 John 5 is about mortal sin.

  19. Mikel–

    The last time you spoke, you said the following about Kevin:

    “You are not typing challenged. You are just challenged. As a human being. Somebody who hated your ugly mug must have dropped you on your head as a baby to make you turn out so dysfunctional.

    The thing with you is that you are afflicted with a special kind of stupidity. Very unique. Nothing can be done for you. You are utterly beyond redemption. Bye bye.

    It is your wife I feel so pained for. Having the total bad luck of spending her life with a vomit like you.
    Be quick about it. Hang yourself.”

    On almost any other blog, you would have been permanently removed for such language. As far as I am concerned, you are no longer here on this site…Catholic or otherwise.

    Bye bye.

  20. Erico,

    Thanks for biting.

    In your set up, it is allowed to insult women and peoples wife. You insulted a married woman on this blog. Have you forgotten? Your fellow Calvinistas Kevin, takes it upon himself to insult a married woman on this blog. Repeatedly.

    If I saw a man assaulting a woman, I wouldn’t inquire what wrong the woman has done. I will simple get involved on the side of the woman.

    But you wouldn’t know that would you? Lying hypocrite.

  21. Hi Jim,

    I don’t really know about sticking around. I am just bored with these Calvinistas and their tendentious crankiness and cosmic appetite for double speak and obscurantism. Example; a REPENTENT “stinking pile of filth” who continually commits damnable sin? What is that? An oxymoron, paradox, irony or …. what?

    As for the Tim Kauffman fellow, I took a look at his blog sometimes ago. From what I saw I will place him in the lunatic fringe of anti-Catholicism.

  22. Jim–

    Quite honestly, I had never heard of the “Are you a good person?” test.

    It’s cheesy and simplistic and not very hard hitting…a little too namby-pamby for my taste…it actually downplays the seriousness of sin.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with one’s choice of Atonement theology…and far too tame to be considered “manipulative.”

    My guess is that you don’t like it because you’re not very serious about sin. That’s all that I can come up with.

    Is that true?

  23. Erico:
    My guess is that you don’t like it because you’re not very serious about sin.

    Mikel:
    Are you serious about sin? Your set up professes that the elect and the damned are in a state of perpetual mud wallowing sin binge. So sin is not the difference between the elect and the damned. Ergo sin is an irrelevant concept with you.

    But right here you are saying Jim is not serious about sin. More befuddling hypocritical double speak eh?

  24. Jim–

    Tell your “friend” to leave. And tell him to take his thoroughly false, scurrilous accusations with him!

  25. Eric,

    And I suppose you have never sacrificed for your kids, cleaned up the house, cooked for your wife, taken care of your parents, prayed, or ever feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick or imprisoned, bury the dead, admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, pray for the living and the dead, been merciful, been a cheerful giver, helped orphans and widows, etc.

    Oh you have done those but always infected with sin right – you could always do more or do better. In short youve never performed a single act of charity not shot through with sin and worthy of punishment. Your list paradigm view of sin negates the power of the NC. Your view of grace and its power is not merely inadequate. It appears to be nearly nonexistent.

  26. Why do you guys always make this mistake? Saying you will not interact with such and such persons? As much as it amuses me, it also puzzles me. Why do you have to post it? Just go ahead and ignore the person without the attendant advert.

    Especial you Erico. You have done this on so many occasions that it doesn’t mean anything any longer. Please, please display some iota of integrity and uphold what you said. About not interacting with my post.

    I will really enjoy taking potshots at you with total impunity. Its gonna be a ball.

    Lol.

    Let it begin.

  27. Eric:

    Tell your “friend” to leave. And tell him to take his thoroughly false, scurrilous accusations with him!

    Mikel:

    ughhh!!

    That didn’t last even two posts. Man! I am really disappointed in you. Can’t you uphold what you say? Common!

  28. James–

    You and I have totally different views of what sin is. I can accept that.

    In the meantime, you believe yourself to be OK. I believe you to be riddled with sin which you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge. One of us is right. One of us is wrong. In the end, God will judge.

    We can leave it at that. But one thing is for sure:

    I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes!

  29. CK is MIKEL

    MIKEL is CK.

  30. James–

    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    To acknowledge sin is not to negate the power of grace, but to liberate it to do its work.

  31. Eric, you write:

    So, you acknowledge your sin in your former lawless life. Good for you.

    I don’t need a condescending pat on the back from a man that claims he does nothing but constantly commit mortal sin (in the Catholic sense). I wrote, what I wrote, to show that you don’t know what you are talking about when you say that I don’t acknowledge my sinning.

    Now, acknowledge your present brokenness.

    My, my, aren’t you the arrogant one. Who are you to demand this of me? The Sacrament of Confession is the place to acknowledge my sins, not the internet.

    You have the gall to accuse me of not taking sin seriously, but I will point out to those following this thread that earlier I asked you a straightforward question about sinning and I have received nothing but senseless double talk from you. So I will ask you again.

    Eric, is there ANY possible sin that YOU could commit that would cause you to be damned?

  32. James, you write:

    Oh you have done those but always infected with sin right – you could always do more or do better. In short youve never performed a single act of charity not shot through with sin and worthy of punishment.

    And not just any sin, and not just any punishment, but sin so vile that it deserves nothing less than to be punished with a just punishment of the everlasting flames of Hell.

    If anyone took the Calvinist confessions seriously, the take away point from Jesus’s story about the the Good Samaritan is that this pagan non-Christian did something so horrible that he deserved everlasting punishment in Hell.

    No one takes the Calvinist confessions seriously.

  33. Mateo–

    Is there ANY possible sin that YOU could commit which cannot be covered by the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

  34. Erico,
    Is there ANY possible sin that YOU could commit which cannot be covered by the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

    Mikel:
    Yeah. If a person is actively gay, the sacrament of reconciliation will be worthless to him.

    Going to bed now. The fun actually begins tomorrow. Click.

    Nighty night.

  35. ERIC October 18, 2014 at 1:28 pm
    Mateo–
    So, you acknowledge your sin in your former lawless life. Good for you. Now, acknowledge your present brokenness. Otherwise, I will assume you are still lost in your apostasy. Believers know their own wretchedness.
    Read 1 John 5 in context, or not at all. Do Catholics pray for those guilty of mortal sin? You bet your booty they do. Because they do not buy that 1 John 5 is about mortal sin.

    We take mortal sin very seriously, Eric. But, really? I can’t believe you’ve read the Scripture. Here is what it says:

    1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

    Here’s an easier version:
    New International Version
    If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.

    New Living Translation
    If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it.

    “I do not say that he shall pray for it” means “Its up to you if you pray .” It doesn’t say, “You should not pray for these people.”

    And we pray for those who commit mortal sin because Jesus Christ said:
    Matthew 7:7 [Full Chapter]
    Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

  36. ERIC October 18, 2014 at 4:41 pm
    Mateo–
    Is there ANY possible sin that YOU could commit which cannot be covered by the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

    Yes. the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Mikel gave one example of that sin.

  37. Mateo,

    If anyone took the Calvinist confessions seriously, the take away point from Jesus’s story about the the Good Samaritan is that this pagan non-Christian did something so horrible that he deserved everlasting punishment in Hell.

    Actually the whole point of the Good Samaritan is to show us what neighborly love looks like.

    So let me get this straight. The Good Samaritan could be shot through with venial sin, you know, the kind of sin that’s only bad enough to get you tortured in purgatory and that can be alleviated if Grandma says a couple of Hail Marys’ or something, and still be okay. But if he has one mortal sin, Jesus can’t cover that. Good thing he didn’t get hit by the oxcart or something. Jesus’ death wouldn’t have been enough to save him if he didn’t have a chance to repent.

    But if it makes you feel better about yourself, then I guess it serves some purpose. How many times a day you thank God that you’re not like those REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bad people?

    No one takes the Calvinist confessions seriously.

    Apparently you take them seriously enough to keep misunderstanding attacking them.

  38. Eric,
    ““If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
    To acknowledge sin is not to negate the power of grace, but to liberate it to do its work.”

    Which is why RCs acknowledge our venial sin every mass and in daily prayer. When you acknowledge sin as incessant and damnable, then it is negating the power of grace. And what work in its liberation does it do – is it just a band-aid for pardoning your every-second mortal sin or something more powerful than that? What cleansing is going on if your best actions continue to be defiled with damnable sin immediately afterwards – it doesn’t seem to be doing anything to the root of the problem, just incessant scrubbing of the symptoms – no renovation, just throwing spackle up. If we know a tree by its fruit, a tree that is spewing forth damnable sin every second doesn’t seem very good.

    Mateo,

    Right I should’ve been more explicit with qualification but I assume the point was conveyed. Venial sin does result in temporal punishment, but not eternal punishment – and even if we have good works with such dross, it does not mean all our works must have venial sin as Trent states:
    “If anyone says that in every good work the just man sins at least venially, or, what is more intolerable, mortally, and hence merits eternal punishment, and that he is not damned for this reason only, because God does not impute these works into damnation, let him be anathema.”

  39. James,

    What kind of grace can be killed by sin? For all your whining about “what kind of power of grace,” you end up with a grace that doesn’t cover, well, anything. It all depends finally on how well YOU participate, or whatever you want to call it. Jesus starts salvation, you complete it.

    There is renovation. The Christian isn’t as polluted as the unregenerate person. The difference is that you guys think some pollution really isn’t pollution. I comes out even in your explanation for the “why” of purgatory. It’s so that we can enjoy heaven better, not because God can’t abide the presence of sin before Him. That’s a God who isn’t holy but an indulgent father.

  40. Eric, you have evaded once more in giving an answer to my question, and have instead asked me this:

    Is there ANY possible sin that YOU could commit which cannot be covered by the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

    To have sin forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession, I must have contrition (sorrow) for my offense against God, AND I must firmly resolve to never commit that sin again (IOW, I have to repent of my sin). Without doing either of these things, no sin is “covered” by the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To illustrate, if I were married and having an affair with my mistress, I could be feeling guilty for having an affair, but unless I repent of my adultery and gave up my mistress, no sin would be forgiven if I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and confessed to a priest that I was being unfaithful to my wife. No repentance, no forgiveness – that is part of the Gospel, Eric, a vital part of the Gospel that Calvinist can’t seem to grasp.

    Now, if you would, please answer my question without a lot of double talk. Is there ANY possible sin that YOU could commit that would cause you to be damned?

  41. Robert, in your confusion over what Catholics actually believe, you make this accusation:

    … if he has one mortal sin, Jesus can’t cover that …

    Robert, any sin involving grave matter can be forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus, IF the sinner is sorry for his sin, AND he repents of his sin. But many evangelical Protestants just cannot seem to grasp that this is the real Gospel, and instead believe the Satanic lie that if one is “saved” (or one of the “elect”) that there is no conceivable sin that one could commit that would cause him to be damned, not even unrepentant sin involving grave matter, like serial killing.

    Antinomianism can be deadly heresy if it is acted upon, and Gary Ridgeway (the Green River killer) and Ted Bundy are examples of evangelical Protestants that never repented of their killing. According to the Protestant OSAS “gospel” both these men will go straight to heaven when they die because there is no sin that isn’t covered by the Blood of the Lamb, even unrepentant sin.

    Robert, without a lot of double talk, do you believe that there is any possible sin that you could commit that would cause you to be damned. Yes, or no.

  42. Nick, Jonathan, Jason, ( Mateo? ),

    This article of Nick’s sparked a series of articles in response over on the Protestant blogosphere, first on Green Baggins and then on Southern Baptist Open Forum ( that I know of ).

    Reading the articles and blog comments it becomes painfully obvious that some preliminary work needs to be done before launching into the topic of grace/imputation/justification. We aren’t speaking the same language and need to define our terms when presenting our beliefs to non-Catholics.

    One of the SBOF articles I mentioned shows Catholics and Protestants don’t agree on the meaning of such concepts as soul and spirit.
    For Protestants, spirit is not 100% immaterial. It is actually akin to an animal’s soul and therefor an infusion of grace makes no sense. An animal can be declared righteous but it cannot be made righteous or elevated to a participation in the divine nature according to Catholic thought.

    Also, the term “supernatural” for us is not applied to all of God’s actions requiring His infinite power. Creation, whether of the world or of each human soul at conception, is not, for Catholics, a supernatural act. Yet Protestants use the term “supernatural” in a much more broadly way than Catholics do. For us it is technically applied only to the divinization and beatitude of a rational nature.

    This probably accounts for how Protestants can speak of regeneration to a supernatural state and yet say another element must be added in order to justify.

    The Protestant participants here on CCC love to quote Aquinas and the Council of Trent. However, if they actually fathomed what is said about Adam’s original state and what was lost in the fall, maybe we could actually get somewhere rather than arguing about the same stuff month in and month out.

    Think about it when considering subject matter for future articles.

  43. Mateo,

    Robert, any sin involving grave matter can be forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus, IF the sinner is sorry for his sin, AND he repents of his sin.

    Is God big enough to forgive a mortal sin if a person dies before He has a chance to repent? Or is the teenage boy who sees a pretty girl, lusts, and then is immediately struck dead by a car toast. Can Jesus save Him.

    Antinomianism can be deadly heresy if it is acted upon, and Gary Ridgeway (the Green River killer) and Ted Bundy are examples of evangelical Protestants that never repented of their killing. According to the Protestant OSAS “gospel” both these men will go straight to heaven when they die because there is no sin that isn’t covered by the Blood of the Lamb, even unrepentant sin.

    What in the world are you talking about? Bundy was a (very bad) Mormon. Yeah, there are plenty of professing evangelicals who haven’t a clue. There are plenty of professing RCs who believe they’ll go to heaven if at the end of their lives they have more good works than bad ones. Is that the RC gospel?

    Plenty of RCs engage in mortal sin throughout the week and go to confession to cover it, before starting right back up again. Does such antinomianism reflect the orthodox RC position?

    If you’re going to use such examples from “evangelicalism,” then Nancy Pelosi and her abortion loving ways are all kosher in Romanism.

    Robert, without a lot of double talk, do you believe that there is any possible sin that you could commit that would cause you to be damned. Yes, or no.

    Mateo, can the elect in Roman Catholicism commit the sin of final impenitence and thus be damned? Will they commit such a sin?

    If you answer yes to the first and no to the second, you’re confessing the Calvinist position. If you answer yes to both, you’re confessing not even the orthodox Roman Catholic position.

    Why is it double talk to say that the elect can but won’t commit that sin? Is not the very definition of elect mean that those people will persevere to the end because God somehow preserves them?

  44. Mateo–

    It is my understanding that a priest will give absolution for any sin repented of without distinction. Since it cannot be determined whether someone has committed “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,” no one will be turned away.

  45. Mateo–

    Why exactly are you not understanding what Robert has told you?

    All believers can fall prey to what Catholics call mortal sin. If they do not repent, they will be condemned.

    The elect are those whom God has foreseen and providentially determined WILL make it to the end of their lives without apostasy or unrepentent sin (at least the repentance of desire). So we theoretically CAN leave the faith, but we providentially WON’T leave the faith. He sees to it that we don’t.

  46. James–

    As regards your citations of Aquinas, the usual distinction drawn between Catholic and Protestant versions of Atonement by Satisfaction is that in the Anselmian version Christ does not receive punishment in our place for our sins.

    And yet, Thomas says:

    “Hence, it was necessary that some man of infinite dignity be found who would undergo punishment for all and so satisfy fully for the sins of the whole world.”

    Was Aquinas secretively for PSA? (In other words, did Rome not get the memo?)

  47. ERIC October 19, 2014 at 11:00 am
    James–
    As regards your citations of Aquinas, the usual distinction drawn between Catholic and Protestant versions of Atonement by Satisfaction is that in the Anselmian version Christ does not receive punishment in our place for our sins.

    Hm? No, the distinction drawn between Catholic and Protestant is that Jesus is punished for our sins, even though He is not guilty of our sins.

    Protestants ascribe guilt to Jesus. They claim that God the Father poured out His wrath upon His Son. THAT is the distinction.

    And yet, Thomas says:
    “Hence, it was necessary that some man of infinite dignity be found who would undergo punishment for all and so satisfy fully for the sins of the whole world.”

    Correct. That is why it is called a “sacrifice”. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us.

    Was Aquinas secretively for PSA? (In other words, did Rome not get the memo?)

    No.

    From the wikipedia

    St. Thomas Aquinas codifies the substitution theory

    St. Thomas Aquinas
    St. Thomas Aquinas considers the atonement in the Summa Theologiae into what is now the standard Catholic understanding of atonement.[citation needed] For Aquinas, the main obstacle to human salvation lies in sinful human nature, which damns human beings unless it is repaired or restored by the atonement. In his section on man, he considers whether punishment is good and appropriate. He concludes that

    punishment is a morally good response to sin: it is a kind of medicine for sin, and aims at the restoration of friendship between the wrongdoer and the one wronged.[11]
    “Christ bore a satisfactory punishment, not for His, but for our sins,” and
    substitution for another’s sin is entirely possible[12] as long as the offender joins himself in will to the one undergoing punishment.
    So the function of satisfaction for Aquinas is not to placate a wrathful God or in some other way remove the constraints which compel God to damn sinners. Instead, the function of satisfaction is to restore a sinner to a state of harmony with God by repairing or restoring in the sinner what sin has damaged. [13]This is Aquinas’ major difference with Anselm. Rather than seeing the debt as one of honor, he sees the debt as a moral injustice to be righted.

  48. Neither sin nor guilt is “ascribed” to Christ…our sin and guilt were imputed to him. He is punished for our sins as if guilty of them, but he was NOT inherently guilty. He bears our sin and guilt but is in nowise corrupted or stained by them. He who knew no sin, who knows no sin, who will never know sin…became sin…so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

  49. Eric, you ask me:

    Why exactly are you not understanding what Robert has told you?

    Robert can speak for himself, Eric. I asked Robert a direct question that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” answer and everyone that can read his posts can see for themselves that Robert has been nothing but evasive in giving me a direct “yes” or “no” answer.

    All believers can fall prey to what Catholics call mortal sin. If they do not repent, they will be condemned.

    Let me clear about this. Eric, you believe that you could commit sin that would cause you to be damned. If that is the case, then truly you don’t believe in OSAS, and you are quite different than a Southern Baptist.

    Please give me a specific example of a sin that you could commit that would cause you to be damned.

  50. Eric

    It is my understanding that a priest will give absolution for any sin repented of without distinction.

    Your understanding is defective. If the priest that you are confessing your sins to knows that you are lying; that you are neither contrite, nor do you have any intention of repenting of the mortal sin that you just have just confessed, then the priest won’t grant you absolution without committing a grave sin himself.

    If the priest doesn’t know that you are lying, he will say the words of absolution (because he isn’t a mind reader that knows you are lying), but those words of absolution won’t forgive your sins, because you were lying during your confession. The Sacrament of Confession is not a ritual that men can manipulate to their advantage by lying. The lying itself is damnable sin, sin that can’t be forgiven unless one confesses that he was lying and is truly repentant for his lying.

    Since it cannot be determined whether someone has committed “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,” no one will be turned away.

    It can be determined, by God, and it is to God that you are confessing your sins. If you are lying during confession, you are committing a damnable sin, and God will give you what justice demands for lying to God.

    … we theoretically CAN leave the faith, but we providentially WON’T leave the faith …

    This is just senseless double talk. First you claim that it is possible for you to commit damnable sin, and you vehemently affirm the Calvinist confessions that not only is it a theoretical possibility for you to commit damnable sin, but your reality on earth is that you do nothing but commit damnable sin every moment of your life. Then you immediately contradict yourself by saying God is going to prevent you from “leaving the faith”, and since God is omnipotent, that means that it isn’t even a theoretical possibility for you to commit sin that would damn you to Hell.

  51. Mateo,

    Robert can speak for himself, Eric. I asked Robert a direct question that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” answer and everyone that can read his posts can see for themselves that Robert has been nothing but evasive in giving me a direct “yes” or “no” answer.

    Whatever. You’re not asking a question that has a direct yes/no answer because your question is not specific enough. It’s like asking the question, “Is God one.” If God is a Trinity, there’s not a simple yes/no answer to that.

    If God has an elect, there is not a simple yes/no answer to your question. I guess you deny that God has an elect or something. If you don’t, then answer the question:

    Will the elect commit the damnable sin and never repent of it?

  52. Mateo–

    You must read all that we write and only what we write.

    I said that priests make no distinction as to the KIND of sin genuinely repented of. If one is lying, one is not truly repenting. I am saying you can go to a priest, fearful that you have committed “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,” but deeply regretful of your actions. Since no one knows exactly what this particular blasphemy consists of, the priest will say, “We will assume that what you have done is not such blasphemy (after all an unrepentable sin is not likely to be repented of), and therefore we will give you absolution.”

  53. Mateo–

    I am beginning to suspect that you have no idea what “senseless” even means…and no clue concerning the phrase “double talk.” Perhaps you don’t realize somehow that we are discussing theological ideas, supernatural concepts. It’s kind of what this particular blog is all about.

    God is timeless. In his Providence, he watches over us, protecting and guiding us.

    If you don’t understand predestination and election, let’s use foreknowledge:

    Let’s say we go back in time to 1980. We are allowed to keep all of our present knowledge of events up until 2014.

    Speaking of John Paul the Great, we could from our standpoint in 1980, say that he theoretically could apostatize. After all, even though a great man of God, he has a free will which he could exercise to rebel against heaven if he so wished. We, however, standing outside of his timeframe in terms of our knowledge, would say that though he technically could apostatize, he most definitely would not do so before his death in 2005.

  54. Eric, Actually, we do know what the sin against the Holy Spirit is. It is the sin not repented of.

    Remember the context. Jesus had been accused of casting out the devil by the power of the devil ( much as Tim Kauffman does with his theory of Our Lady of Guadalupe toppling the Aztec gods).
    The bad guys were calling good evil. How do you repent if you think good evil and evil good?

  55. Jim–

    Yes, that’s one theory. But the Church has not endorsed a particular theory.

  56. Eric, you write:

    I said that priests make no distinction as to the KIND of sin genuinely repented of.

    How can you possibly know that? Do you have wire taps in the confessionals?

    I am saying you can go to a priest, fearful that you have committed “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,” but deeply regretful of your actions. Since no one knows exactly what this particular blasphemy consists of …

    Eric, you are just making stuff up that you are ignorant about. You could educate yourself by reading Father Z’s blog where he explains why the sin of presumption can send one to hell:

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/10/quaeritur-the-sin-of-presumption-and-you-how-to-go-to-hell-in-an-uneasy-lesson/

  57. Eric, you write:

    I am beginning to suspect that you have no idea what “senseless” even means…and no clue concerning the phrase “double talk.”

    Senseless talk is talk that makes no sense. Double talk is when one says one thing is true, and then contradicts himself by saying the opposite is true.

    You and Robert give nothing but double talk when I ask you one of the most important questions that a man can confront. Can you, Robert and Eric, commit any sin that would cause you to be damned to Hell? The both of you answer with senseless double-talk – “Yes I could commit a sin that would damn me to Hell, but no I can’t commit a sin that would damn me to Hell because the omnipotent God will never allow me to commit a sin that would damn me to Hell.”

  58. Robert,

    “There is renovation. The Christian isn’t as polluted as the unregenerate person. ”

    Your best works are just as damnable as the unregenerate’s best natural works. I’m not sure how saying the former isn’t “as bad” gets you anywhere. The unregenerate is constantly damnably sinning. The regenerate is constantly damnably sinning, but just gets it covered up.

    “The difference is that you guys think some pollution really isn’t pollution.”

    List paradigm again.

    “not because God can’t abide the presence of sin before Him. That’s a God who isn’t holy but an indulgent father.”

    So how is God holy and not an indulgent father in rewarding your defiled works?

  59. Mateo–

    No, I have no wiretaps in place. I am going on the say-so of a major Catholic theologian. I certainly cannot trust you to know. You’re flumoxed by simple paradox. You wilfully cannot see it, so that makes it senseless double talk to you. You’re not philosophically competent enough to take on serious theological discussion.

    More’s the pity.

    And we didn’t say that we can fall, but we can’t. We said we can fall, but we won’t.

  60. Mateo–

    And yes, presumption can send one to hell if one never repents of it. That’s why the Reformed preach strenuously AGAINST presumption (and why we correct you all when you mistakenly connect us with OSAS, which we do not believe).

  61. James–

    It isn’t a lack of a “list paradigm” that allows you to whitewash all kinds of mortal sin and term it merely “venial.” It’s probably the only way you can attach yourself to the Catholic paradigm without going crazy.

  62. James,

    So how is God holy and not an indulgent father in rewarding your defiled works?

    Because they’re covered in the righteousness of Christ and any defilement in them has been atoned for perfectly, not only halfway so that you have to get it tortured out of you for some indeterminate amount of time in purgatory. Talk about a doctrine that rejects both justice and fatherhood.

    Since Christ met the “list” paradigm, God is free us. The demand for perfection has been met. In Romanism, not so much, which is why you maybe, just maybe, will make it to purgatory.

  63. Mateo,

    Senseless talk is talk that makes no sense. Double talk is when one says one thing is true, and then contradicts himself by saying the opposite is true.
    You and Robert give nothing but double talk when I ask you one of the most important questions that a man can confront. Can you, Robert and Eric, commit any sin that would cause you to be damned to Hell? The both of you answer with senseless double-talk – “Yes I could commit a sin that would damn me to Hell, but no I can’t commit a sin that would damn me to Hell because the omnipotent God will never allow me to commit a sin that would damn me to Hell.”

    Law of contradiction: A cannot be both B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense.

    Logical contradiction: The regeneration CAN commit the damnable sin and they CANNOT commit a damnable sin.
    Not a contradiction: The regeneration CAN commit the damnable sin, but they WILL NOT commit a damnable sin.

    If you can accept the distinction between sufficient and efficient grace that your tradition endorses, this should not be difficult. I’m beginning to wonder how well you understand your tradition.

    So here’s a simple question: Will the elect commit the damnable sin and fail to repent for it?

  64. Some clues to the answer to your question Robert from Matthew 24 and 25:

    22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

    1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

    2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

    3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

    4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

    5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

    6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

    7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

    8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

    9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

    10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

    11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

    12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

    13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

  65. Debbie,

    Maybe you will answer the question:

    Will the elect commit the damnable sin and fail to repent?

    This is not a hard question (I’m not trying to be snarky with you; I’ve given up on Mateo). Roman Catholicism has traditionally affirmed the existence of an elect people even if not all RCs agree on the basis of the election (same as the various branches of Protestantism, BTW). The very definition of being elect is that one perseveres to glory. By definition the elect will not commit the damnable sin and fail to repent. Either they will not commit it ever, or, if they do commit it, they will repent and not die in impenitence/with mortal sin.

    Can the believer commit a sin that will send him to hell. Yes. Will he? No. The only difference then is figuring out whether non-elect people ever have true faith.

    Traditional Romanism: True believers can and do commit the damnable sin, and they fail to repent and thus go to hell. However, the elect who commit this sin never fail to repent. IOW, the elect can but they won’t. This is true in Molinism, Thomism, and Augustinianism.

    Reformed Theology: True believers can commit the damnable sin, but God providentially prevents them from ever doing so. Only the elect come to authentic, saving faith. IOW, the elect can but they won’t.

  66. Robert,
    Let’s look at the 10 Virgins.

    10 believers, 10 exceptional chosen believers – 10 virgins who had lamps, 10 virgins who went out to meet the bridegroom.

    5 were foolish, not because they took their lamps, but because they took no oil for their lamps with them.

    What does it mean to be foolish? An interesting description is: resulting from stupidity OR misinformation.

    The 5 wise virgins took oil in their vessels, NOT in their lamps. The vessels are separate containers from the lamps and contain oil not being used, oil being stored for future use.

    All 10 virgins slept, all 10 virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.

    BUT, 5 misinformed virgins said to the wise, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”

    The 5 the wise virgins said no. Obviously there is only so much each wise virgin had and they were afraid there would not be enough. So they instructed them to go to a place where people SELL oil and buy oil for themselves.

    And while the 5 foolish virgins went to buy oil (yes, and oh my yes, you better believe they went to buy oil, it was the only hope left), the bridegroom came.

    The 5 wise virgins that were ready with oil in their vessels to put into their lamps went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

    Later (once they had bought oil), the 5 misinformed virgins, pleaded “Lord, Lord, open to us.”

    But he answered and said, “Verily (truly, in truth, I’m not lying) I say unto you, I know you not.”

    So your question,”Will the elect commit the damnable sin and fail to repent?” has a lot more to do about being foolish/misinformed then anything else.

    Oh, and also about this mysterious oil that wise virgins collect and accumulate while waiting for the Bridegroom.

  67. ERIC October 19, 2014 at 8:40 pm
    Neither sin nor guilt is “ascribed” to Christ…

    Yes, that’s why you have God the Father pouring out His wrath upon His Son.

    And, I haven’t forgotten that you tried to claim that St. Thomas Aquinas subscribed to Penal Substitution and you have been disproved on that point as well.

  68. Robert you write:

    You’re not asking a question that has a direct yes/no answer because your question is not specific enough.

    Sheesh! This is like trying to nail Jello to the wall.

    My question to you can most certainly be answered with either a “yes” or a “no”, because either you can commit sin that will damn you to the everlasting flames of hell, or you cannot commit sin that will damn you to the everlasting flames of hell. So without all the double talk, which is it?

  69. Robert, you write:

    Not a contradiction: The [regenerate] CAN commit the damnable sin, but they WILL NOT commit a damnable sin.

    This isn’t Christianity, and there are no verses in scripture that teach the Protestant heresy of Once Saved, Always Saved.

    At best, what you have done, is redefine the word “elect” to mean the set of Christians that will enter into Heaven. God, of course, being omniscient, already knows who belongs to that set, but to redefine the term “elect” in this manner is just saying something trivial – that there will be some Christians that don’t fall away, and because they did not fall from grace and die in a state of unrepentant mortal sin, in the end, they will be saved.

    The problem is that you don’t know with certainty that you belong to that set. However, if you are a real Christian, and not a presumptuous heretic, what you can have is the theological virtue of hope.

  70. Robert, you ask me:

    So here’s a simple question: Will the elect commit the damnable sin and fail to repent for it?

    If you redefine the word “elect” to mean the set of Christians that have not died in a state of mortal sin, then of course, the members of that set won’t have failed to repent of their mortal sins (that is, if they actually ever committed any mortal sins after they became a Christian).

    But again, by redefining the word “elect” in this manner is to say something trivial, and you, Robert, can’t know that you belong to that set, especially if you really believe that all you ever do in life is constantly commit sin that deserves to be punished with the everlasting flames of hell.

  71. Robert, you write:

    The very definition of being elect is that one perseveres to glory.

    No, Robert, that is not the meaning of the “elect” in Catholicism.

    When an unbaptized adult chooses to become a convert to the Catholic faith, he will typically follow the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). One of the rituals of RCIA is the “Rite of Election”, where the catechumens have their name written in the Book of the Elect at their local Cathedral. This happens before the catechumens receive the sacramental grace of baptismal regeneration. This meaning of the “elect” is part of the Apostolic tradition that has a two thousand year old history. One of the heretical novelties of Calvinism is that it has redefined the word “elect” into something that is nowhere taught in either Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition.

  72. Robert, you write:

    Law of contradiction: A cannot be both B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense.
    .
    Logical contradiction: The regeneration CAN commit the damnable sin and they CANNOT commit a damnable sin.
    .
    Not a contradiction: The regeneration CAN commit the damnable sin, but they WILL NOT commit a damnable sin.

    Robert, “can’t” and “won’t” can mean exactly the same thing. For example, Susan asks her friend Helen if her cousin Jim, whom Susan has never met, will come to the dance on Friday. Helen answers, “No, Jim won’t be coming to the dance”. If the reason that Jim won’t be coming to the dance is because Jim is paralyzed from the neck down, the reason that Jim won’t be dancing on Friday is that he can’t dance because he is paralyzed.

    You have been making the logically contradictory argument that you can commit damnable sin, and, at the same time, you cannot commit damnable sin. Your explanation for why you cannot commit damnable sin is because the omnipotent God has forced monergistic, irrestible, grace upon you, and this monergistic grace has made it impossible for you to commit sin that will cause you to be damned. Eric has been arguing in the same logically contradictory way – the regenerate CAN commit damnable sin, and the regenerate CANNOT commit damnable sin.

  73. Mateo–

    I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but Calvinism did by no means redefine the concept of election. Aquinas and Augustine held notions very, very similar to Calvin. In general, Catholics hold that one cannot know that one is a member of the elect without personal revelation to that effect. (Augustine, on the other hand, believed that a genuine recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, whereby it is requested that one not be led into temptation but delivered from evil, constituted assurance of perseverance since God would not fail to answer such a prayer.)

    I’m starting to wonder whether you are really Catholic. If nothing else, you show little evidence of having been properly catechised.

  74. Mateo,

    Whoo boy, you really need to talk to other RCs around here such as Kenneth and James. I’ve said absolutely nothing on this matter that Thomists wouldn’t or couldn’t say in terms of the difference between sufficient and efficient causality.

    Trent talks about the fact that nobody can know if he or she is predestined to final salvation without a special revelation of God. Those who are predestined to final salvation are those who will persevere. Those or whom I’m talking it about when I say they WON’T fail to repent of the damnable sin if they commit it.

    Now, I do happen to agree that in an ultimate sense the distinction between sufficient and efficient causality is probably a distinction without much of a difference. If God keeps the elect from falling finally into damnable sin, in what sense can we say they “can” do so? But if you’re going to yell and cry about irrationality, you are going to have to tar your chief theologian—Aquinas—with the same brush, as well as a huge part of your RC tradition. What I’m saying isn’t uniquely Calvinist. It’s nothing other than what Aquinas, Augustine, and many, many, many others have said.

    And God doesn’t “force” monergistic grace on anyone. He doesn’t ask before He gives it, but that’s a good thing because if he were to ask, no one would say yes. Born in sin, we all hate God that much, even those who look all nice and pious.

    And why you should think it would be so horrible for God to actually guarantee your salvation, I don’t know. Seems to me a good father would do whatever He could to keep His children out of hell, even changing their affections if he could. I’m sad that in your hatred of Calvinism, you end up denying the goodness of God toward his children.

  75. Robert,

    Foolish doesn’t mean childlike,
    it means stupid, silly, idiotic, witless, brainless, vacuous, mindless, unintelligent, thoughtless, half-baked, harebrained, imprudent, incautious, injudicious.

    It is foolish to think that if you do not have love, you still have everything.

  76. Debbie,

    Robert,
    Foolish doesn’t mean childlike,
    it means stupid, silly, idiotic, witless, brainless, vacuous, mindless, unintelligent, thoughtless, half-baked, harebrained, imprudent, incautious, injudicious.
    It is foolish to think that if you do not have love, you still have everything.

    And where have I denied any of that?

    Let me ask you my question again:

    Will any of the elect commit the damnable sin and fail to repent for it?

  77. +JMJ+

    Eric and Robert,

    Unclench. What Mateo obviously means is that “can’t” and “won’t” mean the exact same thing from any non-omniscient POV.

    But from any orthodox POV, neither “can’t” nor “won’t” means that God is the monergistic agent of the “can’ting” or “won’ting”. And thar be the rub for Calvinism.

  78. Robert,
    I answered, with the words of our Lord.
    See Matthew 25: 1- 13

  79. Wosbald–

    In many, if not most, contexts, cannot and will not have very different meanings without appealing to omniscience. I will not sprout wings and fly to the moon because I cannot do so. Basically the same meaning. I could forgive you, but I will not do so. Very different meanings. We don’t need omniscience to determine that one could indeed forgive if one wished it. If I vowed to never stand up again in my life…but to remain constantly seated for the rest of my life, only omniscience (or a medical screening, perhaps) could determine cannot from will not (since I may have become paraplegic in the intervening years).

    In our case in point, we are human, and self-evidently we can fall from grace. Whether we will or we won’t is a matter of personal character and providential empowerment. This outcome can be revealed to us even on the Catholic model, so no omniscience is needed. Special revelation alone is necessary. Some Catholic saints are reputed to have received such revelation, so I’m not sure how you can object to it.

    The term “orthodox” has no non-question-begging meaning on this blog, so you’ll have to explain what you intended to say. It would seem to me that the possibility of the perseverance of the saints (through special revelation) in Catholicism necessitates the inclusion of monergistic means.

  80. Eric,

    It would seem to me that the possibility of the perseverance of the saints (through special revelation) in Catholicism necessitates the inclusion of monergistic means.

    Bingo. If perseverance isn’t guaranteed by God, then human beings finally save themselves. Which is what Rome is supposed to deny, in theory.

  81. Debbie–

    You have failed to read the whole parable. Not only are these virgins foolish, but the Bridegroom DOES NOT KNOW THEM. More than likely, if friends of yours showed up late for your wedding, you’d let them in. You’d be more likely to bar the door to complete strangers.

  82. Debbie,

    You provided a parable that isn’t prefaced by my question or anything like it. I completely agree that there will be some who aren’t ready when Jesus comes. As a RC, you can say they are justified but fell from it. As a Reformed Xn, I say they were never truly justified to begin with. Fine. But that’s not the question being asked.

    Will the elect commit the damnable sin and fail to persevere?

    It seems to me that if you answer yes to this, you are denying election in the Augustinian, Calvinist, Thomistic, Molinistic, and even traditional Arminian sense. The only option left is heresy such as process theology or Open Theism.

    By definition, the elect persevere, whether they fall in and out of justification (a la Romanism) or don’t (a la Calvinism). The point is that tone of the elect die with, to borrow a RC phrase, mortal sin that has not been repented of.

    Again, we’re saying nothing different than what Rome should be able to endorse (aside from the permanency of justification). Rome teaches that there is an elect people who will persevere. Maybe they can fail to persevere, but they won’t.

  83. Eric,

    “It isn’t a lack of a “list paradigm” that allows you to whitewash all kinds of mortal sin and term it merely “venial.””

    Equating all sin and imperfection with mortal sin. List paradigm again.

    Robert,

    “Because they’re covered in the righteousness of Christ”

    So we have a legal fiction not only in justification, but also sanctification. It’s consistent at least.

    “Talk about a doctrine that rejects both justice and fatherhood.”

    Purgatory reflects both actually.

    “The demand for perfection has been met. In Romanism, not so much, which is why you maybe, just maybe, will make it to purgatory.”

    Equivocating on different senses of perfection. And of course in Romanism purgatory can be bypassed completely.

  84. Robert,

    The point is that the Virgins THOUGHT they knew the Bridegroom and thought they were called to meet Him and thought they had prepared adequately and DID persevere to the 11th hour. One might be struck to reflect on this very important distinction.

    Without oil, none of this matters and the Bridegroom will NOT KNOW YOU.

    This is what the Kingdom of heaven shall be compared to.

    “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.”

    This servant was very foolish/misinformed —- BUT he was a servant.

    “Cast the wicked servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

  85. Debbie,

    Okay.

    But you still haven’t answered the question:

    Will the elect commit the damnable sin and fail to repent?

    To bring it home to the parable—Was the servant who was cast out elect unto final salvation or not?

  86. James,

    So we have a legal fiction not only in justification, but also sanctification. It’s consistent at least.

    Ah yes, the old canard. Hey, if you think the absolute perfection of Christ is fictional, I can’t help you.

    Purgatory reflects both actually.

    How many fathers torture their children for gabillions of years to clean them up? Please don’t take a position on any board that deals with children and families.

    How many judges say “well, you’re not guilty of that sin for which you still need to be punished” Imprisoning people for sins that they are not guilty of. O wait, they’re guilty in a temporal sense, but not in an eternal sense. Comforting.

    Equivocating on different senses of perfection. And of course in Romanism purgatory can be bypassed completely.

    Sure it can. As long as you meet the standard for bypassing purgatory, which is different than the standard for getting into purgatory and not bypassing it. But you don’t have different standards.

  87. James–

    I’m not talking about the Reformed paradigm at all. Just consistently applying the Catholic paradigm on mortal sin. You are guilty of far more wilfull, knowing, serious sin than you are willing to admit. It’s what makes your system completely unworkable for me. If I were to become Catholic, I’d be pestering the priests 24/7. They’d get exhausted trying to deal with me. I’d just turn to them and say, “But this is the paradigm you taught me. You insisted it was true.”

    Live a week by your paradigm without sneakily sweeping everything under the rug, and by the end of that week, you’ll be begging to convert to the Reformed paradigm.

  88. Debbie–

    In the end, the foolish virgins HAD oil, but it made no difference. The only thing which mattered was being known by the Bridegroom.

  89. Eric,

    Live a week by your paradigm without sneakily sweeping everything under the rug, and by the end of that week, you’ll be begging to convert to the Reformed paradigm.

    Not to worry. Whatever venial sin goes unconfessed will get lovingly tortured out of him over 5 billion years in purgatory. As for mortal sin, hard to say. Apparently there’s some kind of covering of it as pertains to ignorance, cause heaven will be filled with Trinity-hating Muslims and unitarians. So as long as he can’t remember his mortal sins, God will give him a free pass—that’ll have to be paid for for a gabillion years in purgatory.

    Plain as day.

  90. Robert,

    “Ah yes, the old canard. Hey, if you think the absolute perfection of Christ is fictional, I can’t help you. ”

    Sure which is why when God sees Christ he sees such (also why he didn’t pour His wrath upon Him on the cross as if He was a sinner). But doesn’t explain why God sees things only “as if” they were the opposite of what they actually are when seeing the regenerate as well as his works.

    Eric,

    ” You are guilty of far more wilfull, knowing, serious sin than you are willing to admit. ”

    We are guilty of venial sin and we suffer from concupiscence – it’s a deep battle. That wasn’t hard to admit. It wasn’t hard for Paul to admit if we take him as a believer in Rom 7 man. That in no way means he was or we’re mortally sinning every second of life. One does not have to be a Luther to have a godly humility and conscience, nor does one have to conflate concupiscence and venial and mortal sin to do so. A priest might get exhausted or be very patient just as Staupitz did with Luther and tell you to look to Christ and stop brooding – despair is a sin and constant scrupulosity and anxiety is not god-honoring.

  91. Robert and Eric,

    I don’t think wailing and gnashing of teeth exemplifies repentance in anyone’s book.

    It is startling how unimportant this parable is to you.

    It is directly out of the mouth of our Lord and every letter of it is significant on a monumental scale.

    “The only thing which mattered was being known by the Bridegroom.”

    Precisely (on about 100 levels), but precisely!

    Doesn’t it ruffle anyone’s feathers that they might not be known by the Bridegroom (especially after working for Him and waiting for Him so long)?????

    Yes, they finally got their oil, BUT IT WAS TOO late.

    The question becomes, why would they be denied entrance into the Wedding Feast even after procuring this necessary oil?

  92. Thought you might enjoy reading Sermon XCIII written by Augustine of Hippo:

    “…. So then let us understand, dearly Beloved, that this parable relates to us all, that is, to the whole Church together, not to the Clergy only of whom we spoke yesterday; nor to the laity only; but generally to all. Why then are the Virgins five and five? These five and five virgins are all Christian souls together. But that I may tell you what by the Lord’s inspiration I think, it is not souls of every sort, but such souls as have the Catholic faith, and seem to have good works in the Church of God; and yet even of them, “five are wise, and five are foolish.” First then let us see why they are called “five,” and why “virgins,” and then let us consider the rest. Every soul in the body is therefore denoted by the number five, because it makes use of five senses. For there is nothing of which we have perception by the body, but by the five folded gate, either by the sight, or the hearing, or the smelling, or the tasting, or the touching. Whoso then abstaineth from unlawful seeing, unlawful hearing, unlawful smelling, unlawful tasting, and unlawful touching, by reason of his uncorruptness hath gotten the name of virgin.

    But if it be good to abstain from the unlawful excitements of the senses, and on that account every Christian soul has gotten the name of virgin why are five admitted and five rejected? They are both virgins, and yet are rejected. It is not enough that they are virgins; and that they have lamps. They are virgins, by reason of abstinence from unlawful indulgence of the senses; they have lamps, by reason of good works. Of which good works the Lord saith,” Let your works shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Again He saith to His disciples, “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning.” In the “girded loins” is virginity; in the “burning lamps” good works.

    The title of virginity is not usually applied to married persons: yet even in them there is a virginity of faith, which produces wedded chastity. For that you may know, Holy Brethren, that every one; every soul, as touching the soul, and that uncorruptness of faith by which abstinence from things unlawful is practised, and by which good works are done, is not unsuitably called “a virgin;” the whole Church which consists of virgins, and boys, and married men and married women, is by one name called a Virgin. Whence prove we this? Hear the Apostle saying, not to the religious women only but to the whole Church together; “I have espoused you to One Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” And because the devil, the corrupter of this virginity, is to be guarded against, after the Apostle had said, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ;”he subjoined, “But I fear, lest as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Few have virginity in the body; in the heart all ought to have it. If then abstinence from what is unlawful be good, whereby it has received the name of virginity, and good works are praiseworthy, which are signified by the lamps; why are five admitted and five rejected? If there be a virgin, and one who carries lamps, who yet is not admitted; where shall he see himself, who neither preserveth a virginity from things unlawful, and who not wishing to have good works walketh in darkness?

    Of these then, my Brethren, yea, of these let us the rather treat. He who will not see what is evil, he who will not hear what is evil, he that turneth away his smell from the unlawful fumes, and his taste from the unlawful food of the sacrifices, he who refuseth the embrace of another man’s wife, breaketh his bread to the hungry, bringeth the stranger into his house, clotheth the naked, reconcileth the litigious, visiteth the sick, burieth the dead;he surely is a virgin, surely he hath lamps. What seek we more? Something yet I seek. What seekest thou yet, one will say? Something yet I seek; the Holy Gospel hath set me on the search. It hath said that even of these, virgins, and carrying lamps, some are wise and some foolish. By what do we see this? By what make the distinction? By the oil. Some great, some exceedingly great thing doth this oil signify. Thinkest thou that it is not charity? This we say as searching out what it is; we hazard no precipitate judgment. I will tell you why charity seems to be signified by the oil. The Apostle says, “I show unto you a way above the rest.” Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” This, that is “charity,” is “that way above the rest,” which is with good reason signified by the oil. For oil swims above all liquids. Pour in water, and pour in oil upon it, the oil will swim above. Pour in oil, pour in water upon it, the oil will swim above. If you keep the usual order, it will be uppermost; if you change the order, it will be uppermost. “Charity never falleth.”

    What is it then, Brethren? Let us treat now of the five wise and the five foolish virgins. They wished to go to meet the Bridegroom. What is the meaning of “to go and meet the Bridegroom”? To go with the heart, to be waiting for his coming. But he tarried. “While he tarries, they all slept.” What is “all”? Both the foolish and the wise, “all slumbered and slept.” Think we is this sleep good? What is this sleep? Is it that at the tarrying of the Bridegroom, “because iniquity aboundeth, the love of many waxeth cold”? Are we to understand this sleep so? I like it not. I will tell you why. Because among them are the wise virgins; and certainly when the Lord said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold;” He went on to say, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Where would ye have those wise virgins be? Are they not among those that “shall endure unto the end”? They would not be admitted within at all, Brethren, for any other reason, than because they have “endured unto the end.” No coldness of love then crept over them, in them love did not wax cold; but preserves its glow even unto the end. And because it glows even unto the end, therefore are the gates of the Bridegroom opened to them; therefore are they told to enter in, as that excellent servant, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”What then is the meaning of they “all slept”? There is another sleep which no one escapes. Remember ye not the Apostle saying, “But I would not have you to be ignorant. brethren, concerning them which are asleep,” that is, concerning them which are dead? For why are they called “they which are asleep,” but because they are in their own day? Therefore “they all slept.” Thinkest thou that because one is wise, he has not therefore to die? Be the virgin foolish, or be she wise, all suffer equally the sleep of death.

    But men continually say to themselves, “Lo, the day of judgment is coming now, so many evils are happening, so many tribulations thicken; behold all things which the Prophets have spoken, are well-nigh fulfilled; the day of judgment is already at hand.” They who speak thus, and speak in faith, go out as it were with such thoughts to “meet the Bridegroom.” But, lo! war upon war, tribulation upon tribulation, earthquake upon earthquake, famine upon famine, nation against nation, and still the Bridegroom comes not yet. Whilst then He is expected to come, all they who are saying, “Lo, He is coming, and the Day of Judgment will find us here,” fall asleep. Whilst they are saying this, they fall asleep. Let each one then have an eye to this his sleep, and persevere even unto his sleep in love; let sleep find him so waiting. For suppose that he has fallen asleep. “Will not He who fails asleep afterwards rise again?” Therefore “they all slept;” both of the wise and the foolish virgins in the parable, it is said, “they all slept.”

    “Lo, at midnight there was a cry made.” What is, “at midnight”? When there is no expectation, no belief at all of it. Night is put for ignorance. A man makes as it were a calculation with himself: “Lo, so many years have passed since Adam, and the six thousand years are being completed, and then immediately according to the computation of certain expositors, the Day of Judgment will come;” yet these calculations come and pass away, and still the coming of the Bridegroom is delayed, and the virgins who had gone to meet him sleep. And, lo, when He is not looked for, when men are saying, “The six thousand years were waited for, and, Io, they are gone by, how then shall we know when He will come?” He will come at midnight. What is, “will come at midnight”? Will come when thou art not aware. Why will He come when thou art not aware of it? Hear the Lord Himself, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Lord hath put in His own power.” “The day of the Lord,” says the Apostle, “will come as a thief in the night.” Therefore watch thou by night that thou be not surprised by the thief. For the sleep of death—will ye, or nill ye—it will come.

    “But when that cry was made at midnight.” What cry was this, but that of which the Apostle says, “In the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump”? “For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”? And so when the cry was made at midnight, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh;” what follows? “Then all those virgins arose.” What is, “they” all arose? “The hour will come,” said the Lord Himself, “when all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth.” Therefore at the last trumpet they all arose. “Now those wise virgins had brought oil with them in their vessels; but the foolish brought no oil with them.” What is the meaning of “brought no oil with them in their vessels”? What is “in their vessels”? In their hearts. Whence the Apostle says, “Our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience.” There is the oil, the precious oil; this oil is of the gift of God. Men can put oil into their vessels, but they cannot create the olive. See, I have oil; but didst thou create the oil? It is of the gift of God. Thou hast oil. Carry it with thee. What is “carry it with thee”? Have it within, there please thou God.

    For, Io, those “foolish virgins, who brought no oil with them,” wish to please men by that abstinence of theirs whereby they are called virgins, and by their good works, when they seem to carry lamps. And if they wish to please men, and on that account do all these praiseworthy works, they do not carry oil with them. Do you then carry it with thee, carry it within where God seeth; there carry the testimony of thy conscience. For he who walks to gain the testimony of another, does not carry oil with him. If thou abstain from things unlawful, and doest good works to be praised of men; there is no oil within. And so when men begin to leave off their praises, the lamps fail. Observe then, Beloved, before those virgins slept, it is not said that their lamps were extinguished. The lamps of the wise virgins burned with an inward oil, with the assurance of a good conscience, with an inner glory, with an inmost charity. Yet the lamps of the foolish virgins burned also. Why burnt they then? Because there was yet no want of the praises of men. But after that they arose, that is in the resurrection from the dead, they began to trim their lamps, that is, began to prepare to render unto God an account of their works. And because there is then no one to praise, every man is wholly employed in his own cause, there is no one then who is not thinking of himself, therefore were there none to sell them oil; so their lamps began to fail, and the foolish betook themselves to the five wise, “give us of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” They sought for what they had been wont to seek for, to shine that is with others’ oil, to walk after others’ praises. “Give us of your oil, for our lamps are going out.”

    But they say, “Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you, but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” This was not the answer of those who give advice, but of those who mock. And why mock they? Because they were wise, because wisdom was in them. For they were not wise by ought of their own; but that wisdom was in them, of which it is written in a certain book, she shall say to those that despised her, when they have fallen upon the evils which she threatened them; “I will laugh over your destruction.” What wonder then is it, that the wise mock the foolish virgins? And what is this mocking?

    “Go ye to them that sell, and buy for yourselves:” ye who never were wont to live well, but because men praised you, who sold you oil. What means this, “sold you oil”? “Sold praises.” Who sell praises, but flatterers? How much better had it been for you not to have acquiesced in flatterers, and to have carried oil within, and for a good conscience-sake to have done all good works; then might ye say, “The righteous shall correct me in mercy, and reprove me, but the oil of the sinner shall not fatten my head.” Rather, he says, let the righteous correct me, let the righteous reprove me, let the righteous buffet me, let the righteous correct me, than the “oil of the sinner fatten mine head.” What is the oil of the sinner, but the blandishments of the flatterer?

    “Go ye” then “to them that sell,” this have ye been accustomed to do. But we will not give to you. Why? “Lest there be not enough for us and you.” What is, “lest there be not enough”? This was not spoken in any lack of hope, but in a sober and godly humility. For though the good man have a good conscience; how knows he, how He may judge who is deceived by no one? He hath a good conscience, no sins conceived in the heart solicit him, yet, though his conscience be good, because of the daily sins of human life, he saith to God, “forgive us our debts;” seeing he hath done what comes next, “as we also forgive our debtors.” He hath broken his bread to the hungry from the heart, from the heart hath clothed the naked; out of that inward oil he hath done good works, and yet in that judgment even his good conscience trembleth.

    See then what this, “Give us oil,” is. They were told “Go ye rather to them that sell.” In that ye have been used to live upon the praises of men, ye do not carry oil with you; but we can give you none; “lest there be not enough for us and you.” For scarcely do we judge of ourselves, how much less can we judge of you? What is “scarcely do we judge of ourselves”? Because, “When the righteous King sitteth on the throne, who will glory that his heart is pure?” It may be thou dost not discover anything in thine own conscience; but He who seeth better, whose Divine glance penetrateth into deeper things, discovereth it may be something, He seeth it may be something, He discovereth something. How much better mayest thou say to Him, “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant”? Yea, how much better, “Forgive us our debts”? Because it shall be also said to thee because of those torches, because of those lamps; “I was hungry, and ye gave Me meat.” What then? did not the foolish virgins do so too? Yea, but they did it not before Him. How then did they do it? As the Lord forbiddeth, who said, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men to be seen of them, otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven: and when ye pray, be not as the hypocrites, for they love to pray, standing in the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward.” They have bought oil, they have given the price; they have bought it, they have not been defrauded of men’s praises, they have sought men’s praises, and have had them. These praises of men aid them not in the judgment day. But the other virgins, how have they done? “Let your works shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” He did not say, “may glorify you.” For thou hast no oil of thine own self. Boast thyself and say, I have it; but from Him, “for what hast thou that thou hast not received?” So then in this way acted the one, and in that the other.

    Now it is no wonder, that “while they are going to buy,” while they are seeking for persons by whom to be praised, and find none; while they are seeking for persons by whom to be comforted, and find none; that the door is opened, that “the Bridegroom cometh,” and the Bride, the Church, glorified then with Christ, that the several members may be gathered together into their whole. “And they went in with Him into the marriage, and the door was shut.” Then the foolish virgins came afterwards; but had they bought any oil, or found any from whom they might buy it? Therefore they found the doors shut; they began to knock, but too late.

    It is said, and it is true, and no deceiving saying, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you;” but now when it is the time of mercy, not when it is the time of judgment. For these times cannot be confounded, since the Church sings to her Lord of “mercy and judgment.” It is the time of mercy; repent. Canst thou repent in the time of judgment? Thou wilt be then as those virgins, against whom the door was shut. “Lord, Lord, open to us.” What! did they not repent, that they had brought no oil with them? Yes, but what profiteth them their late repentance, when the true wisdom mocked them? Therefore “the door was shut.” And what was said to them? “I know you not.” Did not He know them, who knoweth all things? What then is, “I know you not?” I refuse, I reject you. In my art I do not acknowledge you, my art knoweth not vice; now this is a marvellous thing, it doth not know vice, and it judgeth vice. It doth not know it in the practice of it; it judgeth by reproving it. Thus then, “I know you not.”

    The five wise virgins came, and “went in.” How many are ye, my Brethren, in the profession of Christ’s Name! let there be among you the five wise, but be not five such persons only. Let there be among you the five wise, belonging to this wisdom of the number five. For the hour will come, and come when we know not. It will come at midnight, Watch ye. Thus did the Gospel close; “Watch, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.” But if we are all to sleep, how shall we watch? Watch with the heart, watch with faith, watch with hope, watch with charity, watch with good works; and then, when thou shalt sleep in thy body, the time will come that thou shalt rise. And when thou shall have risen, make ready the lamps. Then shall they go out no more, then shall they be renewed with the inner oil of conscience; then shall that Bridegroom fold thee in His spiritual embrace, then shall He bring thee into His House where thou shall never sleep, where thy lamp can never be extinguished. But at present we are in labour, and our lamps flicker amid the winds and temptations of this life; but only let our flame burn strongly, that the wind of temptation may increase the fire, rather than put it out.

  93. James–

    Perhaps the problem wasn’t with Luther, but the Catholic paradigm. For someone with integrity, your system is a recipe for scrupulosity.

    Myself, I don’t have a problem with scrupulosity. But I would have one if I converted.

  94. Eric,

    “your system is a recipe for scrupulosity.”

    If countless saints and confessors have counseled against scrupulosity, I fail to see how RCism engenders it. Luther was being an honest Catholic and Staupitz was deluded in the faith? No, I don’t think so – but if Luther was trying to adapt the list paradigm and conflate con/ven/mor distinction and then shoehorn that into RC theology, then it’s no wonder he would struggle in the manner in he did.

  95. James,

    If countless saints and confessors have counseled against scrupulosity, I fail to see how RCism engenders it.

    Yeah, the drive to make sure all sins are confessed so you get all of your time out of purgatory, superstitious visions of Mary in potato chips and glass skyscraper windows that attract pilgrims looking for assurance of salvation, the never ever being sure you are in a state of justification (unless you’re Mary, of course), the complex system of indulgences, etc. are in no way engendered by RCism. None of that reflects scrupulosity and terror of soul at all.

    Your faith places the burden of scrupulosity on the backs of people, which is why the common RC-Protestnat conversion story is all about the liberty of the gospel. Meanwhile, you guys talk about he conversion to the church and principled philosophical means.

    Every good RC is trying their darndest to get the most time they can out of purgatory, even though they can’t be sure that they’re actually gong to be going there. Or are you avoiding the confessional?

  96. Debbie,

    The parable isn’t unimportant, I just want to know why you won’t answer the simple question that your tradition should allow you to answer with a simple no.

    Will the elect commit the damnable sin and fail to repent?

  97. Eric you write:

    I will not sprout wings and fly to the moon because I cannot do so.

    Which is why you won’t fly to the moon, because you can’t sprout wings. This illustrates perfectly the why statement “The elect can commit damnable sin, but the elect won’t commit damnable sin” is nothing but senseless double talk within Calvinism. The Calvinists are asserting that an all powerful God will force the elect to not commit damnable sin, so the reason why the “elect” won’t commit damnable sin is because they can’t commit damnable sin (since they are less powerful than God). The Calvinist view of saving grace is that God is like a monstrous surgeon that severs the spinal cord of his victim so that he can’t ever walk again. The victimized man won’t ever walk again, because he can’t walk.

    And God doesn’t “force” monergistic grace on anyone. He doesn’t ask before He gives it, but that’s a good thing because if he were to ask, no one would say yes.

    You contradict yourself once more. If no one would ever say “yes” to an offer of grace from God, then the only way they could ever receive monergistic grace is to have it forced upon them. The problem with Calvinism is that asserts that saving grace a monergistic only process, and synergism is denied.

    I could forgive you, but I will not do so. Very different meanings.

    Quite true, because that sentence only makes sense if you are making a choice not to forgive (a choice that could damn a man to hell). Calvinism denies that men can make a choice to cooperate with saving grace, or to reject saving grace, which is why Calvinism is heretical. It is also the reason why everything that Calvinists say about the “elect” committing damnable sin, or not committing damnable sin, is senseless double talk.

  98. Eric, you write:

    Myself, I don’t have a problem with scrupulosity.

    Obviously you do not have that problem, because you have been trying to convince us that you do nothing but commit damnable sin every moment of your life, and you are not the least bit concerned about that!

  99. Eric you write

    In general, Catholics hold that one cannot know that one is a member of the elect without personal revelation to that effect.

    If Catholics really believe that they can’t know that men are of the elect, then why do Catholics have a liturgical ritual where we write the names of catechumens in the Book of the Elect?

  100. Robert,

    I have never agreed with your understanding of the ‘elect’ which is why I have tried to open your concept with scripture.

    The simple answer for Catholics is;
    those who WILL persevere are called “the elect”, therefore we don’t know who the elect are until the final judgement – – kind of keeps one on their toes because he who does not love, remains in death.

    Hence the parable of the 10 virgins …. and many more.

  101. Debbie–

    Obviously, one of the main points of the parable is to be persistent and patient and ready at a moment’s notice: to watch and wait.

    Is the message that one can be too late? Why don’t the workers who come late for work in the vineyard get turned away? They even get paid the same amount!

    Is the message that one can be caught without a procurement of oil? Why then, are we not even told whether the foolish virgins were able to buy oil?

    In the end, it seems, the wise virgins are known and accepted BECAUSE THEY WERE WISE. The foolish virgins remain unknown and are rejected BECAUSE THEY WERE FOOLISH. There was no in-between group, deciding whether it would be better to purchase oil ahead of time or not. Just those who did and those who didn’t.

  102. Robert, you write:

    And why you should think it would be so horrible for God to actually guarantee your salvation …

    The shed blood of Jesus is the guarantee of my salvation. I don’t doubt that for an instant.

  103. Debbie–

    The Thomistic and Augustinian notion of the “elect” has never been mere foreknowledge…but actual predestination. So your own personal concept is not very Catholic.

  104. Mateo–

    Quite clearly, there are catechumens who apparently accept the faith and are baptized who then fall away. Those who are apostate cannot be considered “elect” no matter where their names are written here on earth.

    Their names must be etched in the Lamb’s “Book of Life.”

  105. Mateo–

    You mistake me. I am incredibly concerned about my sin. What I am not concerned about is my acceptance in Christ. He is never unfaithful.

    You also severely mistake what we believe about our good works. They are pleasing to him, despite their earthly flaws. Taken on their own they might well be deserving of judgment…BUT THEY ARE NOT TAKEN ON THEIR OWN!!

  106. Eric @2:31 pm,
    Are you seriously telling me this is all you can come up with for a man of your intellect and ‘linguist gifts’ after carefully reading a 4th century homily given by St. Augustine on the parable of the 10 virgins?

    Man, I love reading his stuff because it makes one think think think.

  107. Mateo–

    Read up on compatibilism. Read up on paradox. Let me know when you are up to speed.

    There is no coercion in monergism. There is complete freedom of will…of choice.

    Critique something you know something about next time.

  108. Debbie–

    Do you really think that Augustine is correct about the oil being charity? How can charity be something in short supply? How can it be something we refuse to share? Why, that goes against the very character of charity!

    Augustine, in fact, has the so-called “wise” virgins MOCKING the foolish virgins. (Now, that’s what I call charity personified!) I love Augustine, but his words are not Scripture. And here he has simply blundered in my opinion. No big deal. He cannot get everything right.

  109. Eric,

    This actually made me laugh.

    Thanks for trying, maybe when you have nothing to do for an hour you can go back and read what he really said.

    I still have yet to meet a Protestant who wants to even tiptoe around this parable.

    Here is how a well-known Pastor prefaces to his audience before he talks about it:

    “Now the parable is very simple. It’s rich. It’s exciting. And I think its marvel is in its…it’s in its simplicity. As you read the many many writings that have been written around this parable, it can get very confusing. There are the allegorists who want to turn it into an allegory and give every single thing in it a mystical meaning so that you get lost in a mass of verbiage of hidden secret spiritual ideas. That is not the intent of a parable.

    And then there are the devotionalists who want to see in every single thing something applicable to the Christian life. And that’s wrong.

    And then there are the critics who just want to deal with the data and say it’s a confusing parable because they can’t figure out who the bride is and even where the bride is since there’s no bride mentioned. Where the bridesmaids at the bride’s house or the groom’s house or were they out in the street and if they were out in the street did they sleep in the street or did they go into a house and sleep? How heavy were the poles that they carried with the lamps on them? And could young maidens do that? Who are the young maidens? And on and on and on and on it goes.

    But all of that just needs to be set aside. The message is in the simplicity and clarity of the parable, not in the confusion brought to it by allegorists and devotionalists and critics.”

    He then cleverly goes on to explicitly state his take on the parable’s deeper meaning.

    And you think St. Augustine got it wrong.

  110. Eric,
    Try St. Thomas Aquinas:

    What the oil and lamps symbolize:
    There are numerous ways of interpreting both the virgins and their oil lamps. On the one hand, the virgins can signify all of humanity. On the other, the virgins might represent the Christian faithful only (and not those who have no faith). Finally, the virgins could specify only those Christian faithful who are consecrated to virginity (i.e. the religious). All of these interpretations enjoy the favor of certain of the Church Fathers.
    However, if we look more closely at the parable, it is clear that the best interpretation is that by which the virgins are not all of humanity generally, nor only those Christians who are consecrated to virginity, but all and only those who have faith. Hence, the one interpretation is too broad (including all, both believers and infidels) while the other is too narrow (excluding all non-virgins).
    We can see that the virgins must signify all and only the believers; since they all have lamps, though they do not all have oil. For the lamp is the theological virtue of faith, while oil is charity which makes faith to be alive and saving. Thus, since all the virgins have lamps, it is clear that they signify all those who believe (and not the infidels). On the other hand, the foolish virgins were those who lacked sufficient oil, being the faithful who do not persevere to the end in charity and are thus condemned to hell – for faith without charity does not avail unto salvation.
    Everyone needs his own oil and lamp
    St. Thomas Aquinas makes an interesting point in his Commentary on the Letter of St. Paul to the Hebrews, stating that the infidels (those who have no faith) are not judged at all but are straight away condemned without any judgment. Thus it is that our Savior does not speak of the judgment of those who lack both oil and lamps but only of the virgins, i.e. only of the faithful.
    The foolish virgins, then, are those who have faith but lack charity, and so are condemned to hell. Yet these virgins are doubly foolish insofar as they both lack the virtue of charity (being in mortal sin) and also seek to gain this virtue from other believers. Do they no know that only God can bestow the virtue of charity? This is why it is called a theological virtue!
    Thus, St. Thomas quotes St. John Chrysostom in the Catena Aurea: “For, though nothing could be more merciful than those wise virgins, who for this very mercifulness were approved, yet would they not grant the prayer of the foolish virgins. Hence we learn that none of us shall be able in that day to stand forth as patron of those who are betrayed by their own works, not because he will not, but because he cannot.”
    Again, St. Jerome: “For these wise virgins do not answer thus out of covetousness, but out of fear. Wherefore, each man shall receive the recompense of his own works, and the virtues of one cannot atone for the vices of another in the day of judgment.”

    (from Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide and the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas)

  111. Or, I guess you could look at it as Calvin did:

    Though this exhortation — as will appear from the conclusion of it—has nearly the same object with the former, yet it is properly added, in order to confirm believers in perseverance. Our Lord knew how strongly the nature of men is inclined to idleness, and how, for the most part, they not only grow weary after a great lapse of time, but give way through sudden dislike. To remedy this disease, he taught his disciples that they were not duly fortified, unless they had sufficient perseverance for a long period. When this is ascertained to be the design of the parable, we ought not to trouble ourselves much with minute investigations, which have nothing to do with what Christ intended. Some people give themselves a good deal of uneasiness about the lamps, the vessels, and the oil; but the plain and natural meaning of the whole is, that it is not enough to have ardent zeal for a short time, if we have not also a constancy that never tires. And Christ employs a very appropriate parable to express this. A little before, he had exhorted the disciples, that as they had a journey to perform through dark and dreary places, they should provide themselves with lamps; but as the wick of the lamp, if it be not supplied with oil, gradually dries up, and loses its brightness, Christ now says, that believers need to have incessant supplies of courage, to support the flame which is kindled in their hearts, otherwise their zeal will fail ere they have completed the journey.

  112. Debbie


    The simple answer for Catholics is;
    those who WILL persevere are called “the elect”, therefore we don’t know who the elect are until the final judgement – – kind of keeps one on their toes because he who does not love, remains in death.

    Fine. But does God know who the elect are? I’m assuming you would say yes.

    So God knows that there is a group that will not commit the damnable sin and fail to repent. That’s the elect. That point of view is what Calvinism, Thomism, Molinusm, et al all confess.

  113. Mateo,

    If I see my child running toward a busy intersection, I don’t stop and plead for him to exercise his free will and stop. I grab him and won’t let him break free to get hit by a car. It’s because I love him. You basically are saying that God loves his children less than that because he won’t keep them from running into hell. My son isn’t mad at me because I kept him from death. He actually thanks me once he understands what I did. That’s exactly what happens when God keeps his elect from committing the damnable sin. Could God let me go? Sure. If he were to let me go, would I run into the damnable sin? Sure. Will he let me go? No. He loves me that much.

  114. Eric, you write:

    Quite clearly, there are catechumens who apparently accept the faith and are baptized who then fall away. Those who are apostate cannot be considered “elect” no matter where their names are written here on earth.

    Quite clearly Catholics consider catechumens that have their names entered into the Book of the Elect at the Rite of Election to be members of the elect. And quite clearly the Catholic Church does not teach that every member of the elect has a guarantee of entering heaven. Which proves that you do not know what you are talking about when you claim that Catholics define the word “elect” to mean the set of Christians that will never fall away.

  115. Debbie–

    Most modern commentators and exegetes (Catholic and Protestant) go out of their way NOT to speculate concerning possible allegorical meanings of the various details of this parable. Quite honestly, Augustine and Aquinas are way over the top. The oil must be something 1.) one must abandon one’s post to procure, 2.) one must be able to garner quickly, and 3.) one must be able to employ to help provide spiritual light or guidance. Most of the ancient guesses don’t fit the circumstances: love, faith, grace, the Holy Spirit. Calvin’s choice of “courage” is at least a possibility. Better guesses might include spiritual disciplines (meditation, prayer, fasting, sacraments, mortification, Scripture memorization, etc.) or repentance. None of the possibilities are things which can be bought, but that need not be pressed…as long as whatever it is can be procured quickly.

    In general, it’s probably just best to see the parable as a charge to be diligent in faithfulness and watchfulness through spiritual preparedness. The details aren’t all that relevant.

    It looks to me that the Church Fathers tempt you into needless and fruitless speculation rather than toward any beneficial spiritual thought.

  116. Mateo–

    People calling themselves “Catholic” believe all sorts of things. Augustine and Aquinas did not believe as you do.

  117. “The details aren’t all that relevant”

    We obviously don’t feel the same way about the Holy Scriptures and the words recorded as spoken by our Lord (especially determining one’s entrance into the Marriage feast). To simply say it is important to be ready and not think the details are all that relevant makes a mockery of the Good News of the Kingdom.

    For someone or some people who tout Sola Scriptura as their banner of faith, this comment is inconceivable to me.

    I don’t have it in me to say this about one letter of any one word in the entire Bible.

    I just reread Mediocrity of the New Covenant? and this jumped out at me:
    “Such an understanding ultimately makes a mockery out of not only the new life which Christians are called to, but also the plain wording of the Scriptures which speak of “good works”

    Yes, I wholeheartedly agree.

  118. Debbie–

    I’m sorry, but you are the one being incredibly disrespectful of Scripture, wringing every last drop of possible meaning from this passage when your chances of being right are less than zero. You don’t respect the authority of scholars who know a good sight more than you do concerning how to interpret parables…and how to interpret this particular parable. You have no respect for your own church, which I’m certain would also disagree with your wild speculations. Whose authority DO you respect?

  119. Eric,

    “You have no respect for your own church, which I’m certain would also disagree with your wild speculations. Whose authority DO you respect?”

    Those aren’t my own speculations Eric, and there has never been any question whose authority I respect.

    The law of the New Covenant is Love.
    We will be judged on our obedience to Love.
    We love because He first loved us.
    “This is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

  120. ROBERT October 21, 2014 at 5:50 pm
    Mateo,
    If I see my child running toward a busy intersection, I don’t stop and plead for him to exercise his free will and stop. I grab him and won’t let him break free to get hit by a car. It’s because I love him. You basically are saying that God loves his children less than that because he won’t keep them from running into hell.

    You are making many gross errors. You are comparing humans to God. And comparing human ability to love to God the source of all love. And there are other errors in your logic.

    First. Both you and your child are God’s children.

    So, how do you say, “God loves His children less than we love ours”?

    Next. God loves both you and your child. That is why He gave that child to you so that YOU would keep him from getting hit by a car.
    Second. Your ability to love your child comes from God. You don’t have that on your own.
    Third. Your ability to stop your child comes from God. He is the source of love and of life.
    Fourth. Your ability to raise your child comes from God. He is the source of all that is good.

    Everything which you can do for you child comes from God. So, how do you say that God loves us less than you love your child?

    Now, if your child runs into hell, it is to a great extent, your fault, because you didn’t teach him the right way to go. You didn’t teach him to obey God’s Laws. You claimed they were obsolete and he could continue to sin even after he claimed justification by faith alone for himself.

    My son isn’t mad at me because I kept him from death. He actually thanks me once he understands what I did. That’s exactly what happens when God keeps his elect from committing the damnable sin. Could God let me go? Sure. If he were to let me go, would I run into the damnable sin? Sure. Will he let me go? No. He loves me that much.

    On the contrary, Robert. You make your false doctrines sound pretty and adorn them with high sounding words, but they are merely lies:

    But the Catholic Church merely Teaches the Wisdom of God:

    1 Corinthians 2 King James Version (KJV)

    1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

    2 Pet 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    We see from Scripture that God gives us guidance but does not force us to do His will. As the Scripture plainly says:

    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:

    That is plain. That is simple. Choose to do God’s will and He will give you eternal life.

  121. Debbie–

    No, those speculations do not originate with you, but you have made them your own. You accept them. You are convinced by them. The Catholic Church does not accept every jot and tittle that flowed from the pens of Augustine and Aquinas. So you could be accepting speculation that your church does NOT accept.

  122. Robert, you write:

    If I see my child running toward a busy intersection, I don’t stop and plead for him to exercise his free will and stop.

    This is a very bad analogy. What does a child running toward a busy intersection have to do with sinning?

    Jesus gives us the story of the prodigal son and his loving and long suffering Father. If I want an illustration that involves a Father that has a son that sins, I will take the story of the prodigal son over any story that a mere man can cook up. In the story of the prodigal son Jesus is giving an explicit illustration of mortal (deadly) sin. Calvinist doctrine cannot be reconciled with the story of the prodigal son, which is proof positive that Calvinism is heresy.

  123. Eric, you write:

    Augustine and Aquinas did not believe as you do.

    Eric, you are merely exposing your ignorance if you think that both Augustine and Aquinas did not teach synergism.

    Wosbald nailed it when he said, “But from any orthodox POV, neither “can’t” nor “won’t” means that God is the monergistic agent of the “can’ting” or “won’ting”. “

  124. Mateo,

    Jesus gives us the story of the prodigal son and his loving and long suffering Father. If I want an illustration that involves a Father that has a son that sins, I will take the story of the prodigal son over any story that a mere man can cook up. In the story of the prodigal son Jesus is giving an explicit illustration of mortal (deadly) sin. Calvinist doctrine cannot be reconciled with the story of the prodigal son, which is proof positive that Calvinism is heresy.

    Of course, the parable has absolutely nothing to do with mortal sin, since that’s a completely foreign concept to the Bible. In any case, the parade of the prodigal son is about God’s willingness to forgive, well, anyone, and a warning to the Jews—particularly the Pharisees (the older brother)—about questioning God’s goodness.

    Speaking of Jesus:

    The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:25–27)

    There’s no, “my sheep hear me and follow me but some of them commit mortal sin and then don’t follow me.”

    Eric, you are merely exposing your ignorance if you think that both Augustine and Aquinas did not teach synergism.

    So did Augustine or Aquinas believe that any of the elect will commit the damnable sin and fail to repent?

    Wosbald nailed it when he said, “But from any orthodox POV, neither “can’t” nor “won’t” means that God is the monergistic agent of the “can’ting” or “won’ting”. “

    If God is not ultimately responsible for the “won’ting,” then you believe that you save yourself with God’s help. Thank goodness that you were righteous enough to respond appropriately to divine grace. Course, I can’t remember where Jesus said “I came to call the righteous, not sinners, to salvation.”

  125. ERIC October 21, 2014 at 9:22 pm
    Debbie–
    No, those speculations do not originate with you, but you have made them your own. You accept them. You are convinced by them. The Catholic Church does not accept every jot and tittle that flowed from the pens of Augustine and Aquinas. So you could be accepting speculation that your church does NOT accept.

    But the Church gives them the title “Saint” and “Doctor of the Church”. Therefore, the dots and tittles which they wrote which the Church does not accept, are too few to be concerned.

  126. “Our faith is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. We have faith only if we believe in Christ’s entire public revelation. The Catholic faith is faith that Christ instituted a divine institution, a Church blessed with authority to infallibly teach His public revelation. If we accept only doctrines consistent with our own experience we are not accepting them on faith but rather on human analysis.”
    Fr. John Hardon

  127. Robert, you write:

    … the parable has absolutely nothing to do with mortal sin, since that’s a completely foreign concept to the Bible ….

    This is precisely why you are a heretic. You refuse to accept the words of Jesus in the story of the prodigal son:

    … for this my son was dead, and is alive again …

    Robert, you write:

    … the [parable] of the prodigal son is about God’s willingness to forgive …

    That is true, but you ignore that the story of the prodigal son also illustrates God’s willingness to forgive mortal (deadly) sin, if one repents of that sin. The prodigal son was dead because he had committed deadly (mortal) sin with his loose living. When the Father says my “my son was dead, and is alive again”, he is not talking about his son being physically dead and raised up from physical death like Lazarus.

    In your story, the Father grabs the child to prevent him running into danger. In the story Jesus gives us, the Father lets the younger son commit mortal sin, and then he waits patiently for his son to repent of his mortal sinning and come back home. What the Father does not do (even though he has the power to do it), is go after his wayward son an force him shape up and fly right.

    The prodigal son does repent of the mortal sins that he has committed, and the father rejoices because his repentance has brought him back to life. Which is the theme of the stories Jesus gives immediately before the story of the prodigal son – rejoicing in heaven when when a sinner repents of his sin:

    What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
    .
    “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
    Luke 15: 4-10

    If God is not ultimately responsible for the “won’ting,” then you believe that you save yourself with God’s help.

    You are preaching the hogwash of Calvinist monergism-only saving grace. Synergism is what real Christians believe. I have the free will to cooperate with the saving grace that God gives me as a free and unmerited gift, or I can reject that free gift of saving grace and be damned.

    Luke 15:24

  128. Mateo,

    For the purpose of this discussion, I’ll accept your mortal/venial sin distinction. So, will any of the elect commit mortal sin and fail to repent of it?

    And according to Rome, I am a real Christian. So get back in line with your Magisterium. Remember, since V2, all dogs go to heaven.

  129. Mateo,

    One more thing—the actual context of the parables in question are Jewish leaders complaining that Jesus was hanging out with sinners. And all of the parables show God’s willingness to do whatever it takes to save sinners, even loving them when they had wished Him dead (the prodigal son). There’s absolutely nothing about mortal/venial sins, for that is a distinction completely foreign to first century Jews.

    Jesus was Jewish, not Roman Catholic.

  130. So glad that no one is concerned with Augustine’s acceptance of double predestination (reprobation), seeings he’s a doctor of the church and all.

    So glad that no one is concerned with Thomas Aquinas’ rejection of the concept of the Immaculate Conception, seeings he’s a doctor of the church and all.

  131. Robert:

    If I see my child running toward a busy intersection, I don’t stop and plead for him to exercise his free will and stop. I grab him and won’t let him break free to get hit by a car. It’s because I love him. You basically are saying that God loves his children less than that because he won’t keep them from running into hell. My son isn’t mad at me because I kept him from death. He actually thanks me once he understands what I did. That’s exactly what happens when God keeps his elect from committing the damnable sin. Could God let me go? Sure. If he were to let me go, would I run into the damnable sin? Sure. Will he let me go? No. He loves me that much.

    If your analogy were to be helpful, it would seem to imply either universalism, or else that God loves some of us more than others.

    Or do you espouse semi-Pelagianism – that God’s will is to protect only His children from Hell – but that it’s up to us individually to become His children?

    jj

  132. “There’s absolutely nothing about mortal/venial sins, for that is a distinction completely foreign to first century Jews. Jesus was Jewish, not Roman Catholic.”

    There’s quite a bit Jesus said and preached that first-century Jews and contemporary Jews today think is completely foreign to Jewish thought and contradicts it.

  133. John Thayer Jenson,

    If your analogy were to be helpful, it would seem to imply either universalism, or else that God loves some of us more than others.

    The latter. God loves some people more than others. Or as Aquinas put it: God loves all people in some ways but only some people in all ways.

    IOW, not every person is a full child of God. One could speak of God being the father of all in the sense that He is the creator of all, but that is not what the Bible has in mind, at least not primarily, when it speaks of God as Father to His children. He has a special love for those that are His own, namely, those who are in Christ.

    Or do you espouse semi-Pelagianism – that God’s will is to protect only His children from Hell – but that it’s up to us individually to become His children?

    No, I don’t. But the type of election that Debbie and Mateo seem to be espousing is essentially saying that it is up to us individually to become God’s children, or at least that in the final analysis, its up to us to bring ourselves across the finish line into heaven. That’s why they won’t answer the question as to whether any of the elect will commit mortal sin and fail to repent.

  134. Eric,

    “Read up on compatibilism…
    There is no coercion in monergism. There is complete freedom of will…of choice.”

    No coercion maybe but just as bad. Compatibilism says God changes the wills of SOME so they come most freely when He could just as easily change the wills of ALL so they come most freely.

    He punishes those who don’t come most freely. Although they were not able to come freely, they are punished as if they were.

    That sounds fair to you?

  135. @Robert:
    You forget that, according to the Magisterium, Christians, the elect to grace, can go to hell. The fact that someone is a lost Christian actually makes it worse for him on the day of judgment.

    Let’s work on your analogy. You say “what kind of father would let his child be killed?” But I daresay that you would do the same, if you saw a stranger’s child in the same predicament, even if you didn’t know the child from Adam. If even you love complete strangers that much, how much more does God, Who knitted them in their mothers’ wombs, love them?

    So if you are not a universalist, you have to accept that a loving God allows His children to walk in front of cars all the time. St. Augustine’s point was that believers shouldn’t think they’re “special” at all in the regard. God allows believers and unbelievers alike to be run down in this sense.

    The point of the Catholic teaching is that the believers are no more important to God than the nonbelievers. The “special” love that God gives to the elect doesn’t result in that person being more important to God, nor does it indicate that he is more important to God. God can cut any man loose at any time; He has mercy on whom He will, and He hardens whom He will. It simply means that God has placed that person in the flock … for now. Today, he is a sheep, but tomorrow, he might be the goat.

  136. Jonathan–

    No, in Catholic theology, the regenerate can fall but not the elect. In Reformed theology, the regenerate are elect and so cannot fall.

  137. Robert,

    “But the type of election that Debbie and Mateo seem to be espousing is essentially saying that it is up to us individually to become God’s children, or at least that in the final analysis, its up to us to bring ourselves across the finish line into heaven. ”

    By this logic, does that mean the type of reprobation that you espouse is essentially saying it’s *not* up to us individually to sin, or at least that in the final analysis, it’s *not* up to us to bring ourselves to condemnation and wrath? In short, does that mean “it is not in man’s power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissively only, but properly, and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul”?

    If you’re going to posit that a denial of monergism necessarily implies and means man gets glory in salvation and saves himself ultimately, then it appears to me by that same token that an affirmation of monergism necessarily means man does not condemn himself ultimately with his sin, but rather God authors it and evil in exactly the same manner as he authors salvation and good.

  138. Jim–

    To be honest, none of the scenarios from any soteriology I have ever heard of seems fair to me.

    You do know it’s not up to us, don’t you? Our sense of fairplay (or lack thereof) doesn’t count for much.

    As you well know, Romans 9 spells things out:

    What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 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?

  139. @Eric:
    You’re equivocating. The “elect” in Catholic theology with respect to something in them means “elect to grace.” That is something that has actually been given to them.

    “Elect” in the sense of “elect to glory” is something extrinsic to them, something that God had chosen. The elect to glory are not distinguished in themselves in any way, but only by God’s action. In other words, the grace of final perseverance is not in anyone; it remains always in God’s hands to give or withdraw while the person is living.

    The Calvinist heresy is essentially confusing those two forms of grace.

  140. And PS, Eric, if you believe that God can harden whom He will, why do you exclude believers? Read the passage; God can have mercy on (or harden) anybody.

  141. ERIC October 22, 2014 at 11:53 am
    So glad that no one is concerned with Augustine’s acceptance of double predestination (reprobation), seeings he’s a doctor of the church and all.
    So glad that no one is concerned with Thomas Aquinas’ rejection of the concept of the Immaculate Conception, seeings he’s a doctor of the church and all.

    Your words above prove that you are aware that the Church does not accept those teachings. Did you think that the title “Doctor of the Church” endowed them with infallibility?

  142. Jonathan,

    Let’s work on your analogy. You say “what kind of father would let his child be killed?” But I daresay that you would do the same, if you saw a stranger’s child in the same predicament, even if you didn’t know the child from Adam. If even you love complete strangers that much, how much more does God, Who knitted them in their mothers’ wombs, love them?

    Assuming I didn’t have to make a choice between saving the other child or my own, you’re right. If I had to choose between my child and another’s child and could only choose one, I’d save my own child. Obviously, God isn’t subject to some kind of constraint like that.

    The fact is that didn’t say God doesn’t love the non-elect. He just doesn’t love them unto final salvation. Aquinas was exactly right about that.

    So if you are not a universalist, you have to accept that a loving God allows His children to walk in front of cars all the time. St. Augustine’s point was that believers shouldn’t think they’re “special” at all in the regard. God allows believers and unbelievers alike to be run down in this sense.

    God loves some men in all ways but only some men in all ways. God never allows any of His children to walk in front of a car. Believers aren’t special in the sense that there is anything inherently lovely about them that causes God to love Him. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t more special to Him. They’re his children. Scripture says that only those who believe in Jesus have the right to be called children of God.

    The point of the Catholic teaching is that the believers are no more important to God than the nonbelievers. The “special” love that God gives to the elect doesn’t result in that person being more important to God, nor does it indicate that he is more important to God. God can cut any man loose at any time; He has mercy on whom He will, and He hardens whom He will. It simply means that God has placed that person in the flock … for now. Today, he is a sheep, but tomorrow, he might be the goat.

    I’m going to key off also your response to Eric and note that you are equivocating. You know quite well that the Calvinist does not distinguish between the elect to grace and the elect to glory. So whether that is right or wrong, the question put more in RC terms is this:

    Can the person who is elect to glory commit mortal sin and fail to repent?

  143. James,

    If you’re going to posit that a denial of monergism necessarily implies and means man gets glory in salvation and saves himself ultimately, then it appears to me by that same token that an affirmation of monergism necessarily means man does not condemn himself ultimately with his sin, but rather God authors it and evil in exactly the same manner as he authors salvation and good.

    What do you mean by author? If by author you mean “morally responsible,” then no, God does not “author” evil in the exactly the same manner that He “authors” good. If you want a full explanation of how that is possible, I’m sorry but Scripture doesn’t give it.

    You have a similar problem in synergism if God is omniscient. How is God love if He lets people go to hell whom he knew would go to hell and that he could have stopped them but chose not to?

  144. Jonathan,

    And PS, Eric, if you believe that God can harden whom He will, why do you exclude believers? Read the passage; God can have mercy on (or harden) anybody.

    God can’t harden the elect (unto glory), or better, He could but He won’t. So the question shifts to whether the non-elect ever experience salvation. But that’s not the question being asked here, and it’s not the question that Paul is dealing with either.

    I’m still waiting for some RC around here to say “No, the elect unto glory won’t sin mortally and fail to repent.” Why is it so hard for you all to say that? Is that not orthodox Roman Catholicism?

  145. ROBERT October 22, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    ….
    I’m still waiting for some RC around here to say “No, the elect unto glory won’t sin mortally and fail to repent.” Why is it so hard for you all to say that? Is that not orthodox Roman Catholicism?

    Because it isn’t true. Scripture itself tells you:

    2 Peter 2:20-22King James Version (KJV)

    20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

    21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

    22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

    And again:

    Hebrews 6:4-6King 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.

    And also:

    2 Peter 1:4-10King James Version (KJV)

    4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

    6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

    7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

    8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

    10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

    We prefer to believe Scripture than your false doctrines.

  146. Robert,

    Won’t is the operative word.

    I’ll try saying this a different way:

    You are putting the cart before the horse or possibly ‘electing’ to see God with your human understanding.

    We will know the elect when the final judgement is here. All will come to light and be made clear.

    Until then, we can’t know who the elect are in this time and place, we only know that the elect are those that will persevere. It is Salvation History in the making.

    Kind of like naming your children before they are conceived or describing a canyon before it has been carved.

    The elect are intimately embedded within the past, present, and future providence of God. He doesn’t need you to understand this, only to have faith, hope and love.

    Patience is a virtue, the mercy of God endures forever.

    Peace.

  147. **banging head against table***

    Let me see if I can get this straight:

    De Maria seems to be denying that there is even such a thing as an elect unto glory because it sounds too Calvinistic.

    Mateo seems to be denying that there is even such a thing as an elect unto glory because there’s a book somewhere that the catechumens sign.

    Debbie seems to be saying that there is an elect unto glory but we can’t know who they are.

    Jonathan seems to be saying that there is an elect unto glory but that the elect unto grace may get the grace of final perseverance but then lose it.

    Wosbald seems to say that the elect unto glory is one pole and the elect unto grace is the other, and life is all about the dialectic dharmic oscillation between two poles.

    James hasn’t weighed in, though I suspect he’s on the same page as Debbie.

    I’m glad you have the Magisterium to sort it all out for you. All I know is that both Augustine and Aquinas, and many, many, many others said that there is a fixed number of elect persons who will certainly and finally persevere. I used to think this corresponded to the RC notion of “elect to glory.” Apparently it doesn’t, at least if I can go by the responses here.

  148. ROBERT October 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm
    **banging head against table***

    That must be the problem. Your brain has been knocked loose.

    Let me see if I can get this straight:
    De Maria seems to be denying that there is even such a thing as an elect unto glory because it sounds too Calvinistic.

    No. I have quoted you the Scripture which says that the Elect may lose their election if they don’t add to faith, virtue and do many other good deeds:

    2 Peter 1:4-10King James Version (KJV)

    4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
    5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge
    6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
    7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
    8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
    10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

    But you deny the Scripture.

    I’m glad you have the Magisterium to sort it all out for you. All I know is that both Augustine and Aquinas, and many, many, many others said that there is a fixed number of elect persons who will certainly and finally persevere.

    Absolutely! And St. Augustine and St. Aquinas also say that only God knows who they are.

    I used to think this corresponded to the RC notion of “elect to glory.” Apparently it doesn’t, at least if I can go by the responses here.

    Actually, you can. We are all on the same page. It is you who seems not to understand what we are saying because you are determined to read your anti-Catholic predispositions into everything that you read.

  149. It is simply untrue that none of those “elect to glory” know that they are so chosen. Roman orthodoxy includes the possibility of special revelation being given to these “elect.” These few, then, correspond fairly well with Calvinistic assurance.

    So, those of you who are apparently going with the “foreknowledge equals predestination” schtick simply aren’t orthodox Catholics.

  150. I sincerely doubt that much of any of Augustine’s exegesis from sermons and the like are considered authoritative in any way. There is so much biblical content that Rome takes no particular stance on. We are left to our own devices to figure them out. Kind of like–oh, I don’t know…what’s that thoroughly discredited method?…oh, yeah—Sola Scriptura.

  151. Robert,

    “What do you mean by author? If by author you mean “morally responsible,” then no, God does not “author” evil in the exactly the same manner that He “authors” good. If you want a full explanation of how that is possible, I’m sorry but Scripture doesn’t give it.”

    Yes I’m aware Calvinists say God is not the author of evil because apparently secondary/remote causes are sufficient to exonerate him – one degree of separation saves Him from moral responsibility. But you can take “author” however you like – “cause” may fit more since that seems to be your issue with synergism and man smuggling in glory (e.g. man must ultimately be the cause of his own salvation over God) – I simply mean for your criticism to work, it seems God must be “author/cause” in salvation in exactly the same manner as he is “author/cause” in condemnation – that’s why I cited Trent’s anathema on those holding “it is not in man’s power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissively only, but properly, and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul” – I don’t see how you can consistently deny that that “the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul” given your charge against synergism.

    “You have a similar problem in synergism if God is omniscient. How is God love if He lets people go to hell whom he knew would go to hell and that he could have stopped them but chose not to?”

    A separate issue. I’m concerned with how the logic in your criticism of synergism does not then apply to sin and reprobation. If you want to throw up hands and claim mystery – fine – but you can’t very well just turn around and deny synergists who appeal to tension in the reconciliation of sovereignty and cooperation in salvation, especially when they are quick to always say such cooperation is itself an effect of grace and result of God mysteriously working within the gifts he endowed our nature with and are just as quick in rejecting criticisms reducing cooperation to some zero-sum competitive game or semi-Pelagianism. (And if you’re going to go the “but you have no Scriptural warrant for synergism so it’s an invalid appeal to tension!” then sorry, any statement that nukes 1000+ years of christian thought and exegesis and also the majority of Protestantism as being just plain anti-biblical deserves an eye-roll)

    As for this whole election convo, tbh I’m not paying much attention and think some commenters are expending a lot of energy for little return – if there’s a fixed number of saved people, then they won’t be committing unrepentant mortal sin unto death by definition.

  152. Eric,

    “You do know it’s not up to us, don’t you? Our sense of fairplay (or lack thereof) doesn’t count for much.”

    We are made in God’s image. Our sense of fair play is universal. An Eskimo, an Arab dancing girl, a Minnesota farm boy, a California surfer dude, all agree on what is just or unjust as it is planted in our hearts by the Creator.
    Do you tell you children to perform tasks that you know are beyond their ability (tune up the car maybe ) and then punish them for their non-compliance?

    Recourse to “this is a great mystery” is a cop out.
    Remember, God could give all men the grace they don’t deserve just as easily as He gives some men the grace they don’t deserve. God’s choice to love one man and pass over another is not based on anything within the man. None of them can demand grace. On what basis does God choose?
    Is this God ALL loving? Does He deserve ALL of our love? Or is He SOME loving and deserving of some of our love?
    Finally Dad, would we call this god “Father”?

  153. @Rpbert:
    The fact is that didn’t say God doesn’t love the non-elect. He just doesn’t love them unto final salvation. Aquinas was exactly right about that.

    Then do you see why what you are saying has nothing to do with the analogy? God’s love isn’t like ours; it isn’t dictated by the object. So if God decides that the person is no longer elect (loves the person less), then that person inevitably ceases to be elect and falls away. You’re treating election as if it is something in the person and not something that God is completely free to change at any time. God doesn’t create things and then elect them; He elects them *by* granting them grace by His own good will.

    God loves some men in all ways but only some men in all ways. God never allows any of His children to walk in front of a car. Believers aren’t special in the sense that there is anything inherently lovely about them that causes God to love Him. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t more special to Him. They’re his children.

    Sure. but so is everybody. Being a beloved child of God is at the sufferance of the divine will. If God decides that person is no longer His child, then the person ceases to be His child (falls away). It is true that God loves His children and His own, but unlike natural children, God’s adopted children continue to be His beloved only by His will.

    Scripture says that only those who believe in Jesus have the right to be called children of God.

    Right. So if they fall away, then they cease to be in Christ and cease to be God’s own, which indicates that God no longer loves them as His own.

    I’m going to key off also your response to Eric and note that you are equivocating. You know quite well that the Calvinist does not distinguish between the elect to grace and the elect to glory. So whether that is right or wrong, the question put more in RC terms is this:

    Can the person who is elect to glory commit mortal sin and fail to repent?

    But that’s not the question put in Catholic terms, and that’s the same reason I said he was equivocating. From our temporal perspective, no one IS elect to glory unless he is already saved. Phrased correctly, it would be “can the person who in the future WILL BE elect to glory commit mortal sin and fail to repent?” And the answer to that question is obviously that he can’t have by definition. But it’s like saying “barring a miracle, can someone who will die at 9:23 PM on 10/22/2024 be alive on 10/23/2024?” It’s logically true, but trivially so.

    For temporal creatures, the future doesn’t exist until it happens, so there’s no truthmaker for the category “elect to glory.” You’re treating “elect to glory” as if it’s something that already happened. But in the order of time, it hasn’t happened yet. So the question you’re asking now doesn’t make sense; by definition, someone who is not already in Heaven cannot be “elect to glory.” Yes, God can always tinker with the temporal order by prophecy, but even then, the future itself isn’t real. It’s just that we know with certainly what God will do, meaning that we know with certainty what will happen.

    God can’t harden the elect (unto glory), or better, He could but He won’t.

    From the Catholic perspective, nobody is elect unto glory now, and He can and does harden some of the elect unto grace.

    So the question shifts to whether the non-elect ever experience salvation. But that’s not the question being asked here, and it’s not the question that Paul is dealing with either.

    On the contrary, that is the only question that is actually answerable, and it is the question that St. Paul is dealing with (specifically, can God’s chosen people be hardened and punished?) And Paul’s point is that election is a matter of sheer grace, not status, and the fact that God has given people some or another blessing doesn’t mean He won’t take it away from them. That’s why he gives the examples of Pharaoh and Esau, both blessed by God but later deprived.

    I’m still waiting for some RC around here to say “No, the elect unto glory won’t sin mortally and fail to repent.” Why is it so hard for you all to say that? Is that not orthodox Roman Catholicism?

    Since that can only possibly be a retrospective determination from our perspective, the only right way to say that is that the elect to glory won’t have sinned morally and failed to repent. You can never make that statement in advance, because the factual condition required to make it true can’t possibly be established in advance of it happening. You’re talking about the future as if it were present, and only God can do that.

    De Maria seems to be denying that there is even such a thing as an elect unto glory because it sounds too Calvinistic.

    Mateo seems to be denying that there is even such a thing as an elect unto glory because there’s a book somewhere that the catechumens sign.

    Debbie seems to be saying that there is an elect unto glory but we can’t know who they are.

    Jonathan seems to be saying that there is an elect unto glory but that the elect unto grace may get the grace of final perseverance but then lose it.

    Wosbald seems to say that the elect unto glory is one pole and the elect unto grace is the other, and life is all about the dialectic dharmic oscillation between two poles.

    James hasn’t weighed in, though I suspect he’s on the same page as Debbie.

    We are all saying the same thing. There is no “elect to glory” in life; the “elect to glory” are only “elect to glory” once they are actually glorified, just as the elect to grace are only elect to grace once they have received some degree of grace (actual grace in the case of catechumens, followed by sacramental grace and regeneration in baptism). So when you talk about the “elect to glory” as if they are in that category before they reach Heaven, from our perspective, you’re talking nonsense. God knows that He will choose them in the future, but they aren’t actually elected until they are glorified.

    The “grace of final perseverance” is a grace that is only received at its end. In other words, it’s impossible for somebody to receive the “grace of final perseverance” except by actually persevering. Before that, one hasn’t receive the grace. So it also isn’t possible to say that one has received “the grace of final perseverance” in one’s lifetime.

    I’m glad you have the Magisterium to sort it all out for you. All I know is that both Augustine and Aquinas, and many, many, many others said that there is a fixed number of elect persons who will certainly and finally persevere. I used to think this corresponded to the RC notion of “elect to glory.” Apparently it doesn’t, at least if I can go by the responses here.

    There is a fixed number of elect persons who will certainly and finally persevere. That is the same thing as saying that on the Last Day a certain number of people will be in Heaven and that God knows eternally who they are by causing all things to be. Every Catholic affirms God’s omniscience and omnipotence; we all know this.

    Maybe the desk will be more successful at beating this point into your head, but that in no way means that there is such a thing as someone being elect to glory while living. Theoretically, God could, via miraculous prophecy, provide knowledge that the person had been so selected, in which case that person would be actually elect to glory now.

    Your problem isn’t anything to do with the Magisterium; it’s just bad modernist thinking. It’s the same thing people do with “possible worlds.” Possible worlds are actually impossible, because by definition, they don’t exist. It’s just a thought exercise, a tool of imagination to analyze the real world. Same thing with the future. The future doesn’t exist now; that’s why it’s the future. You’re thinking about the future like it’s actually out there somewhere, like in a science fiction novel. But it’s what God is *going* to create, not what exists. Just because you can imagine the future as if it exists doesn’t make it real, in the same way that imagining possible worlds doesn’t make them real.

    But that’s the modernist fetish: the mind in a jar trying to make contact between its ideas and reality. Aquinas didn’t think that way. He realized both that God was outside time (not past or future but transcendent) and that the future was what hadn’t happened yet. This is completely the opposite of Calvin’s “eternal decree” (by which he means “for all time” not “outside of time”). It’s the same mistake you make when you think of having “eternal life” as a present possession of a future promise, and it’s the same mistake when you view God’s promises as future exchanges rather than declarations. The Protestant version of “already/not yet” is just fundamentally based on a wrong way of thinking about God.

    You (and Calvin) are both thinking of God like He’s in time, taking the anthropomorphic prooridzo as if it were literally true, as if God was literally doing things “before.” But in the context of this taking place “before the foundation of the world,” we know Paul can’t possibly be talking about chronological priority, because he means before the universe existed. He’s talking about ontological priority.

    The reason that none of us will go along with your reasoning is that none of us accept your Calvinist concept of “eternal decrees.” God’s eternal decree is something outside of time, not something that happened in the infinite past that persists throughout time into eternity. Until you get your head around the fact that God is simply not in time, you can’t even understand what Augustine and Aquinas were saying about election, much less actually interact with it. That’s why we reject both the Calvinist eternal decree AND Arminian foreknowledge; they’re both based on the same bad conceptual foundation (and so is “compatibilism,” by the way).

  154. @Eric:
    It is simply untrue that none of those “elect to glory” know that they are so chosen. Roman orthodoxy includes the possibility of special revelation being given to these “elect.” These few, then, correspond fairly well with Calvinistic assurance.

    That’s a hypothetical possibility based on a miracle. Yes, if God miraculously and privately told someone exactly what was going to happen in the future, then that person would be an exception. But I am not aware of any approved miracle in which that knowledge had actually been given to anybody. On the other hand, I don’t know every Saint who ever lived, so I wouldn’t categorically say that there hasn’t even been a person who lived having this kind of assurance. But practically speaking, none of the elect know that they are so chosen.

    The fact that your view of assurance corresponds “fairly well” with a miraculous occurrence of personal, immediate revelation from God in a similar manner to how Scriptures were inspired suggests that your view of assurance is not right. If you think you are communicating with God in a similar way as the prophets … hmmm, maybe that explains a lot of things about your views, now that I think of it.

  155. Robert, you write:

    Mateo seems to be denying that there is even such a thing as an elect unto glory because there’s a book somewhere that the catechumens sign.

    Have you even read what I have written? Jonathan and I are on the same page. I am well aware that within Catholic theology the terms “elect to glory” and “elect to grace” are used in the way that Johnathan has made clear.

    Eric, in his ignorance, was claiming that the ONLY way that Catholics use the term “elect” is as a synonym for the set of Christians that will not fall away and be damned (the elect to glory). My point to Eric was that properly catechized Catholics don’t see the word “elect” and automatically think “elect to glory”. This should be obvious to everyone, since Catholics have a solemn liturgical rite called the Rite of Election where catechumens have their name written in the Book of the Elect.

    Both you and Eric know that the Catholic Church teaches that catechumens can fall from grace and be damned. Which is why your question “Can the person who is elect to glory commit mortal sin and fail to repent?” is a trite question of no importance to a Catholic. By definition, a person that is a member of the set of the “elect to glory” will not have committed unrepentant mortal sin and fallen from grace.

  156. James, you write:

    … if there’s a fixed number of saved people, then they won’t be committing unrepentant mortal sin unto death by definition.

    Exactly! By definition the “elect to glory” will not commit unrepentant mortal sin.

  157. Eric, you write:

    It is simply untrue that none of those “elect to glory” know that they are so chosen. Roman orthodoxy includes the possibility of special revelation being given to these “elect.” These few, then, correspond fairly well with Calvinistic assurance.

    Not true. St. Jacinta of Fatima was given special revelation that revealed to her that she was going to heaven. But that special revelation does not correspond in any way to the heresy of “Calvinistic assurance”. St. Jacinta is a canonized saint because of her heroic virtue. She has to cooperate with the graces that were given to her to see her though a period of intense suffering; suffering that she offered up for lost souls. Having special revelation like that means that one has received a prophecy that one will cooperate with the graces that are going to be given.

    “Calvinistic assurance”, on the other hand, is the blasphemous heresy that asserts that a monstrous god turns some human beings in to meat puppets without freewill that are controlled by the puppet master with strings labeled “irresistible grace”.

  158. Well, Mateo, for the Reformed, having “assurance” means that one has “received prophecy that one will cooperate with the graces that are going to be given.”

    There is no coercion of the will going on.

    I guess we Reformed are just a little bit more spiritual than you Catholics.

  159. Mateo/James–

    Ditto, ditto.

    By DEFINITION, the Reformed “elect to glory” will not be committing unrepentant mortal sin.

  160. Jonathan–

    Quite so.

    And you are “communicating with God” in the same manner as the the rest of the educated unregenerate, through endless tomes of canon law and philosophy….

  161. Jim–

    I happen to view your soteriology as PARTICULARLY unfair. Maybe even quintessentially so.

  162. Mateo writes,

    “St. Jacinta of Fatima was given special revelation that revealed to her that she was going to heaven. But that special revelation does not correspond in any way to the heresy of “Calvinistic assurance”. ”

    We do know a small number that have been given miraculous revelation (St. Paul, Stephen etc..), but one of the main reasons these are few is the same reason instantaneous miracles are not good for God’s children. Humility, humility, humility.

    We all need to pick up our cross and follow our Lord. There is no other way.

    Lack of humility will kill love.

  163. +JMJ+

    Mateo wrote:

    James wrote:
    .
    … if there’s a fixed number of saved people, then they won’t be committing unrepentant mortal sin unto death by definition.

    Exactly! By definition the “elect to glory” will not commit unrepentant mortal sin.

    I think that we all have to agree that the team that will win the Series this year is the team that will win the Series this year. This stroke of logic obviously proves that God does everything.

  164. Wosbald,

    I think that we all have to agree that the team that will win the Series this year is the team that will win the Series this year. This stroke of logic obviously proves that God does everything.

    Calvinism denies that God does everything. What we are trying to get at is the why we or God do anything. You can say that is unknowable, or you can go with Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, et all that say that the reason why the people who are in heaven are there is because God ordained that they would be there, though the ordination makes use of means.

    The real question is the basis of the ordination, because Calvinists, Arminians, Molinists, Roman Catholics all agree that God ordains things. The question is whether God takes something in the creature into account prior to the decree (Arminianism, Molinism), whether He takes nothing in the creature into account prior to the decree (Calvinism, Augustine, Aquinas), or whether He takes nothing in the creature into account prior to the decree but then takes something in the creature into account prior to the decree but then takes nothing ITC into account prior to the decree but then takes something ITC prior to the decree but then takes nothing ITC into account prior to the decree…. (the version of Roman Catholicism that seems to be going on here).

  165. Debbie–

    The distinctive characteristic of Reformed belief, properly understood, is humility, humility, humility.

    Was St, Jacinta known for her arrogance or her presumption ?

  166. Eric,
    This sweet child died at the age of 10, I doubt she was either.

    http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2010/03/blessed-jacinta-marto-of-fatima.html

  167. Eric, you write:

    There is no coercion of the will going on.

    Eric, you contradict yourself. You said earlier that every human being hates God (this is where you preach the Calvinist heresy of Total Depravity), and that, if were up to human beings, no one would ever accept the grace of God. But then you turn right around and claim that a few special people (like you!) are of the so-called “elect” that do accept the grace of God.

    The only rational conclusion that one can draw from the doctrines of Calvinism, is that the “special people” that accept God’s grace, have done so because their will was coerced into accepting the grace of God, because if their will wasn’t coerced, they would continue to hate God and choose to reject God’s grace!

    Calvinism isn’t Christianity, Calvinism is an irrational religion that was made up by men.

  168. Eric you write:

    Well, Mateo, for the Reformed, having “assurance” means that one has “received prophecy that one will cooperate with the graces that are going to be given.”

    Eric, we have ample evidence that this is just nothing but delusional thinking on the part of many Calvinists, because when a Calvinist falls, the other Calvinsts turn on him and declare that “he was never one of the elect in the first place.”

    Eric, what special revelation did you receive that assures you that you are not suffering from delusional thinking that makes you believe that you will never fall? Seriously, you have been trying to convince us that you do nothing but commit damnable sin ever moment of your life, so why do you even think that you are one of the “special people”?

  169. Mateo–

    In Calvinism, only the elect RECEIVE the grace of God. It has nothing to do with our being “special.” Most of us are more of the opinion of why in the world did God’pick US.

    We believe that God’s grace accomplishes what it sets out to do, from regeneration to final justification. For you all, grace is just some potentiality that may or may not work, having come from a defective God who needs our help along the way.

    Paradox is still irrational to you–unless, of course, it’s Roman Catholic paradox! I guess you still need to do more reading.

  170. Mateo–

    Do you think St. Jacinta worried about whether she was being self-deluded?

  171. Debbie–

    Yes, I am well aware of St. Jacinta. She’s not exactly an obscure saint!

  172. It is simply untrue that none of those “elect to glory” know that they are so chosen. Roman orthodoxy includes the possibility of special revelation being given to these “elect.” These few, then, correspond fairly well with Calvinistic assurance.

    Not true. St. Jacinta of Fatima was given special revelation that revealed to her that she was going to heaven. But that special revelation does not correspond in any way to the heresy of “Calvinistic assurance”. St. Jacinta is a canonized saint because of her heroic virtue. She has to cooperate with the graces that were given to her to see her though a period of intense suffering; suffering that she offered up for lost souls. Having special revelation like that means that one has received a prophecy that one will cooperate with the graces that are going to be given.
    “Calvinistic assurance”, on the other hand, is the blasphemous heresy that asserts that a monstrous god turns some human beings in to meat puppets without freewill that are controlled by the puppet master with strings labeled “irresistible grace”.

    Worth pointing out, as well, that private revelation is – well, private! When God reveals something to someone – including his own infallible certainty of glory – the person is required to believe it (because it is God Who has revealed it), but no one else is. St Jacinta’s confessor could not have said, ‘OK, you don’t need to come to Confession any longer because I know you are glory-bound.’

    Similar comments apply to Marian revelations. St Bernadette is required to believe the revelation of God’s Mother to her; no one else is required to believe it. Catholics are permitted (indeed, encouraged) to believe in Our Lady’s appearances at Lourdes – but these are not matters of dogma.

    jj

  173. Mateo,

    The only rational conclusion that one can draw from the doctrines of Calvinism, is that the “special people” that accept God’s grace, have done so because their will was coerced into accepting the grace of God, because if their will wasn’t coerced, they would continue to hate God and choose to reject God’s grace!

    Fundamental misunderstanding of Calvinism and compatibilism in general. God doesn’t ask us before He changes our hearts. But He doesn’t force us to do anything. He’s not twisting anyone’s arm. Essentially, he’s not asking.

    In any case, nobody whom God has changed is raising their fists to heaven and saying “God, I am so mad that you changed my will so that now I will certainly go to heaven. I wish I had my “free will back” so that I could choose to go to hell.”

  174. @Robert:
    You still don’t seem to be hearing the point. Calvinism and Arminianism see eternity in terms of time, so that it is a matter of the “eternal decree” versus “looking down the corridors of time.”

    Both Molinism and Thomism reject that framework. Molinism says that there is middle knowledge, which is *not* knowledge of an actual future and which therefore cannot be grounded in anything in a creature. Thomism says that middle knowledge is superfluous given divine omniscience and locates the distinction directly in the divine operations. In both cases, it is impossible that anything in the creature determines what God does, because the creature has no existence apart from God’s act.

    What the creature can determine is purely negative, i.e., the creature can sin, can do wrong, etc. But even then, God still must allow this to happen, so it is not as if the creature’s wrongdoing determines God’s will. It simply means that the creature, in the scope of power that it has, chooses to act wrongly, and that does not result from anything in the creature. There’s never a reason, a “why,” for that case, because there is, by definition, neither reason nor cause for evil.

    That’s why James keeps coming back to this. Good and evil aren’t the same, and reprobation is a species of evil. Reprobation is the creature’s fault, but it doesn’t result from anything in the creature. In the same way, salvation doesn’t result from anything in the creature.

  175. Jonathan–

    Reformed theologians also posit the timelessness of God. Eternal decrees declared “before the foundations of the earth” are such logically rather than temporally. Heavenly matters in earthly terms will never be described accurately.

  176. Robert, you write:

    God doesn’t ask us before He changes our hearts. But He doesn’t force us to do anything.

    This is just senseless double talk. All men hate God and wouldn’t want anything to do with Him, if they had their way. But then God makes some of these God haters morph into the special people by “changing” their hearts so that they don’t hate Him anymore, but He didn’t really use his omnipotent power to make them change their hearts against their will, because that would be forcing them to do something that these God haters have no inclination to do. Sheesh!

  177. To all and sundry:

    I have been told that Augustine was a Doctor of the Church and that, in general, we can trust in the wisdom of the Bishop of Hippo. Here is what he has to say on perseverance:

    It is God’s grace both that man comes to Him, and that man does not depart from Him.

    This grace He placed “in Him in whom we have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things.” And thus as He worketh that we come to Him, so He worketh that we do not depart. Wherefore it was said to Him by the mouth of the prophet, “Let Thy hand be upon the man of Thy right hand, and upon the Son of man whom Thou madest strong for Thyself, and we will not depart from Thee.” This certainly is not the first Adam, in whom we departed from Him, but the second Adam, upon whom His hand is placed, so that we do not depart from Him. For Christ altogether with His members is—for the Church’s sake, which is His body—the fulness of Him. When, therefore, God’s hand is upon Him, that we depart not from God, assuredly God’s work reaches to us (for this is God’s hand); by which work of God we are caused to be abiding in Christ with God—not, as in Adam, departing from God. For “in Christ we have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things.” This, therefore, is God’s hand, not ours, that we depart not from God. That, I say, is His hand who said, “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they depart not from me.”

    If you give his treatise “On Perseverance” a read, you will see that (in chapters 3 through 15, approximately) he says that perseverance is a gift of God specifically requested for in the Lord’s Prayer (hallowed be thy name on earth as it is in heaven…lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil) and definitely answered by God…to those who pray the prayer believing. For him, and he specifically says so, those who believe that it is a gift rarely if ever imparted MOCK God!

  178. Jonathan,

    What Eric said on timelessness.

    It simply means that the creature, in the scope of power that it has, chooses to act wrongly, and that does not result from anything in the creature. There’s never a reason, a “why,” for that case, because there is, by definition, neither reason nor cause for evil.

    This is just nonsensical. I guess this means that Hitler wasn’t evil or that Satan isn’t evil. Oops, they just did something. Nobody knows why, not even God.

  179. Mateo,

    This is just senseless double talk. All men hate God and wouldn’t want anything to do with Him, if they had their way. But then God makes some of these God haters morph into the special people by “changing” their hearts so that they don’t hate Him anymore, but He didn’t really use his omnipotent power to make them change their hearts against their will, because that would be forcing them to do something that these God haters have no inclination to do. Sheesh!

    The entire point is that we DON’T change our hearts. God isn’t grabbing our arms and forcing us to change ourselves. He does it entirely apart from our invitation. It doesn’t make sense to speak of coercion because coercion forces people to do something against their will. God changes our will; he doesn’t force us to act against it. Nobody acts against their will, not even God.

  180. Robert–

    Being born from above and having our hearts transformed and our minds renewed in the spirit, being brought to life and freed from slavery to sin by the power of the resurrection of Christ Jesus…this is just denseless supple talk, and you really should know better!

  181. @Eric:

    Reformed theologians also posit the timelessness of God. Eternal decrees declared “before the foundations of the earth” are such logically rather than temporally. Heavenly matters in earthly terms will never be described accurately.

    It’s not whether they are logically rather than temporally prior. It’s how they intersect with reality. In other words, are they present in reality, or do they transcend reality? From the Catholic perspective, the divine decrees are both in reality and not in reality in the same sense that God Himself is both in reality and not in reality. And just as God is not in sinful actions in the same way that He is in good actions, so the decrees on salvation and reprobation are not in reality in the same way.

    Just saying that you believe that God is timeless isn’t enough. You have to believe that God is timeless in a certain way to be orthodox. And while we can’t fully or accurately describe this, there are still better and worse ways to describe it, right and wrong formulations. The Calvinist view of an “eternal decree” is a wrong way of thinking about it, just as the Arminian view of “looking down the corridors of time” is a wrong way to think about the issue.

    @Robert:

    This is just nonsensical. I guess this means that Hitler wasn’t evil or that Satan isn’t evil. Oops, they just did something. Nobody knows why, not even God.

    On the contrary, it just means that there is no reason or cause other than their free choice to be evil. There is an underlying reason for their existence, but that reason didn’t cause them to choose to be evil. It is not a question of not knowing what the reason was; there literally is no reason for what they did. There simply aren’t causes for evil choices in the same way that there are causes for goods. Evil is formally (and inherently) inexplicable; there can’t be a reason for irrational behavior.

    I note that you quite naturally picked out Hitler and Satan. But we are all equally worthless and defiled in God’s eyes, right? So why not Calvin and St. Michael?

  182. Jonathan–

    I seriously doubt that Reformed views of the simplicity or timelessness of God differ significantly from Thomistic understandings (around which most of them would be built).

    To humanly speak of an eternal decree from a changeless God CANNOT be wrong…though it is undoubtedly incomprehensive. To humanly speak of God’s foreknowledge as “looking down the corridors of time” CANNOT be wrong…though again, it is awkward and incomprehensive.

    Tamp down your superciliousness a bit. Heavenly truths spoken of from a human point of view need not be scrupulously accurate.

  183. Eric,

    “Tamp down your superciliousness a bit. Heavenly truths spoken of from a human point of view need not be scrupulously accurate.’

    I believe this is another way of stating “The details aren’t all that relevant”.

    Do you know what you are implying? One minute you want scrupulous proof from the Church about doctrine over 2,000 years old and yet are very laxidazical about the details of your own cafeteria style religion. I keep getting confused what you are? ( a little Calvinist, a little of this and a little of that)

    Truly, I don’t know what you are. You have accused me of not being Catholic enough several times whenever you agree with something I’ve said and then tell me I’m way too Catholic when you don’t understand something all the Catholics on this page and state over and over in many different ways as to offer some kind of clarity.

    I know you’re hoping that if you keep saying it, one of us will say, oh, he’s right, the Catholic Church is wrong.

    The beauty of the Catholic Church is that heavenly truths aren’t just reported about from a human point of view, WHICH IS WHY you have such a hard time understanding them.

  184. Sorry, I meant lackadaisical. My emotional outburst clouded my spelling.

  185. Jonathan,

    On the contrary, it just means that there is no reason or cause other than their free choice to be evil. There is an underlying reason for their existence, but that reason didn’t cause them to choose to be evil. It is not a question of not knowing what the reason was; there literally is no reason for what they did. There simply aren’t causes for evil choices in the same way that there are causes for goods. Evil is formally (and inherently) inexplicable; there can’t be a reason for irrational behavior.

    So basically, the will is entirely neutral. Course why a neutral will moves in any direction is inexplicable, but then again, no one ever said libertarianism was coherent.

    As for there being no reason for evil—

    22 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.

    Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

    Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.

    And so much more. To say there is no reason for evil is simply not biblical.

    I note that you quite naturally picked out Hitler and Satan. But we are all equally worthless and defiled in God’s eyes, right? So why not Calvin and St. Michael?

    Actually, if I take your view, there is no evil. HItler, Satan just are.

  186. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    To humanly speak of an eternal decree from a changeless God CANNOT be wrong…though it is undoubtedly incomprehensive. To humanly speak of God’s foreknowledge as “looking down the corridors of time” CANNOT be wrong…though again, it is awkward and incomprehensive.

    Of course, they can be wrong. The first, because it gives exclusive priority to Divine Sovereignty. The second, because it gives exclusive priority to Human Freedom.

    Of course, if you’re meaning to say that, because of this “incomprehensiveness”, both the Calvinist assessment of Human Freedom and the Arminian assessment of Divine Sovereignty are bupkis, then you might be verging on the fullness of a Catholic understanding.

  187. James,

    Yes I’m aware Calvinists say God is not the author of evil because apparently secondary/remote causes are sufficient to exonerate him – one degree of separation saves Him from moral responsibility. But you can take “author” however you like – “cause” may fit more since that seems to be your issue with synergism and man smuggling in glory (e.g. man must ultimately be the cause of his own salvation over God) – I simply mean for your criticism to work, it seems God must be “author/cause” in salvation in exactly the same manner as he is “author/cause” in condemnation – that’s why I cited Trent’s anathema on those holding “it is not in man’s power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissively only, but properly, and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul” – I don’t see how you can consistently deny that that “the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul” given your charge against synergism.

    Monergism is necessitated by the fall. Presumably if there were no fall and no enslaved will, synergism would be so. The problem is that you guys don’t think the fall really did anything to the will, which is certainly not how Scripture presents it.

    Even so, synergism would have always been governed by God’s decree.

    A separate issue. I’m concerned with how the logic in your criticism of synergism does not then apply to sin and reprobation. If you want to throw up hands and claim mystery – fine – but you can’t very well just turn around and deny synergists who appeal to tension in the reconciliation of sovereignty and cooperation in salvation, especially when they are quick to always say such cooperation is itself an effect of grace and result of God mysteriously working within the gifts he endowed our nature with and are just as quick in rejecting criticisms reducing cooperation to some zero-sum competitive game or semi-Pelagianism. (And if you’re going to go the “but you have no Scriptural warrant for synergism so it’s an invalid appeal to tension!” then sorry, any statement that nukes 1000+ years of christian thought and exegesis and also the majority of Protestantism as being just plain anti-biblical deserves an eye-roll)

    But monergism isn’t against 1,000 plus years of Christian thought. Once you have unconditional election unto salvation, monergism is inevitable. That’s essentially what Augustine realized, or at least was starting to realize once he started talking about the mass damnata. Remember, development of doctrine covers a multitude of sins.

    Paul certainly saw salvation as a “zero-sum game.” If it is by works then grace will no longer be grace. By grace you have been saved, not of works lest anyone should boast. Oh wait that’s only initial justification which doesn’t save anyone because what finally saves you is your cooperation that is good enough to get you across the finish line. Paul never got that memo.

  188. Wosbald–

    No, speaking of “AN eternal decree” (which need not be a Calvinistic one) from a changeless being is just common sense and cannot be gainsaid. Though you will never listen, for those who are lurking I will say once again, for the billion and first time, that Calvinism doesn’t prioritize Divine Sovereignty…since it is not even in conflict with Human Freedom/Responsibility.

    Acknowledging God’s foreknowledge by speaking of “the corridors of time” cannot be disputed unless you are trying to reject foreknowledge as a biblical comcept. Good luck with that.

  189. @Eric:

    Heavenly truths spoken of from a human point of view need not be scrupulously accurate.

    I’m with Debbie; that’s just nuts. That’s now how the Fathers of the ecumenical councils treated dogma. On the contrary, it is more important to be scrupulously correct about theological dogma than anything other intellectual endeavor. And theology is a science, not an art. It’s all about knowing what God has revealed according to sound methodology and carefully and exactingly deriving what follows from it. The creativity in theology is like scientific creativity; it operates within very strict standards of right and wrong.

    @Robert:

    Monergism is necessitated by the fall. Presumably if there were no fall and no enslaved will, synergism would be so. The problem is that you guys don’t think the fall really did anything to the will, which is certainly not how Scripture presents it.

    Even so, synergism would have always been governed by God’s decree.

    Based on your understanding, there’s no such thing as synergism. Your quotes above indicate your belief that God’s will is the monergistic cause of evil. By your reasoning about the eternal decree of the divine will, it is actually impossible for God to be anything *but* the monergistic cause of everything. The passages of Scripture that you quote must be equally true of Satan or Adam, since both of them fell according to the divine will. This is why secondary causation is completely incoherent in Calvinism; God must cause everything monergistically, because the divine will is by definition the determinative cause and reason for everything.

    Now you could interpret those quotes as simply affirming that God is ultimately in control, so that one doesn’t have to worry that these evil people are somehow able, by their evil, to escape providence. In other words, they could simply be taken as an assurance that even these people aren’t out of God’s control as ultimate cause, without taking that next step in saying that God was monergistically (deterministically) causing them to sin. But if you do that, then there is no reason to avoid the same conclusion about grace in salvation. In other words, the fact that there is divine causality need not contradict the divine will working itself out by means of synergistic operation. But you don’t want to take that eminently logical step, because it falsifies Calvinism and confirms the orthodox Catholic belief.

    In short, all we are denying is that the Fall somehow turned God into the monergistic cause of evil. He wasn’t the monergistic cause of evil before the Fall, and Adam’s fall doesn’t turn Him into the monergistic cause of evil, creating subsequent humans with an innate drive to do evil. That is likewise why you view deprivation of grace as causing evil, because you think that there must be some kind of evil impulse or drive to impel people to evil choices. But if that were the case, then God’s will would have to be the monergistic cause of evil; He would have to be the creator of the evil impulse in nature.

    On the contrary, what changed in the Fall is that God now allows more evil to take place by removing the degree of grace that Adam had. That is *far* from saying that people are born with an inborn impulse to evil; it simply means that they are exposed to many more opportunities to be evil, to the point that they realistically can’t avoid them without grace. That is no kinder an assessment of the Fall than yours. That God allows evil doesn’t make evil a less serious problem than if God were monergistically causing it. Evil is still just as real and still just as dangerous; we just don’t make God into a conspirator with it. There’s none of this nonsense about a secret will in which God monergistically causes evil acts while He condemns them in His decrees. We simply affirm what the Bible says: because there is no evil in God, His causality of evil must necessarily be different than His causality of good, and we read passages about good and evil differently for that reason. Your reading of Scripture belies a denial of that basic and necessary exegetical principle, and that means it’s wrong.

  190. Debbie–

    Sometimes details are incredibly significant and sometimes they are totally irrelevant. It all depends. Anyone that takes a monolithic stance one way or the other (they are always significant–they are never significant) would be a fool. If you don’t like what I had to say, then argue for the significance of your beloved details. Convince me. Don’t tell me I’m inconsistent when it comes to details. There is absolutely no rational need for me to be.

    Don’t worry yourself about what sort of a Calvinist I am. I am far more dead center in the middle of mainstream Calvinism than you are of Catholicism. Just think of me as a quintessential Calvinist with no variations from the norm whatsoever. Anything more will just confuse you. I tried being vulnerable with you all. Big mistake. You all took it as weakness. I won’t make the same mistake again. Evidently, Catholics are not a caring lot. I’ll remember to be self-protective from now on.

    I don’t want air-tight, comprehensive proof of the ancient validity of Catholic doctrine. Any proof at all would be a step in the right direction….

  191. PS, Eric:

    Acknowledging God’s foreknowledge by speaking of “the corridors of time” cannot be disputed unless you are trying to reject foreknowledge as a biblical comcept.

    On the contrary, the “corridors of time” don’t exist without God’s will, so it’s impossible that He looks down them as a condition to the exercise of His will. Even the term “foreknowledge” or “predestination” is misleading if it’s taken that literally. God is omniscient; He isn’t looking into the future.

    That’s why we have to be so very careful when we are speaking of analogical predication. It’s very tempting to anthropomorphize God, to take these analogies as if they were literally true in some sense, when they are intended to convey exactly how unknowable and alien God is to us. Again, the Fathers were very careful not to do that, not to speak univocally about God but only apophatically. When we talk about God’s “love” or “knowledge” or “will,” we aren’t talking about anything like what we have with those faculties, as if we somehow understand what God is like in Himself. We’re just trying to put words around how He relates to us in the economy.

    If you feel like you are relating to God in that way, as if you feel that these concepts are really “true” on God’s side, then that’s a sure sign that you are relating to the God that you’ve created in your head and not the One Who dwells in unapproachable light. If you want that kind of relationship, that’s why God gave us His Son and other human beings, to whom we can relate as human beings.

  192. Jonathan–

    Now you’re being “just nuts.” Speaking offhand about “eternal decrees” or “corridors of time” without a million and one exegetical and theological qualifications is just popular chit-chat, not indepth ecumenical dialogue. You were comparing apples and oranges, and I was just calling you on it.

  193. Jonathan–

    For crying out loud! The terms “foreknowledge” and”predestination” are in Scripture. Did God say things recklessly and inaccurately and “wrong,” according to you?

  194. Jonathan–

    I have no problem speaking of God, of theology proper, philosophically…when we are speaking philosophically. BUT WE WERE NOT DOING SO.

    Get your one-track mind out of the clouds and into the conversation we’re actually having!

  195. Eric, you write:

    The terms “foreknowledge” and”predestination” are in Scripture.

    Yes, they are. But the problem is that the Calvinists have redefined terms such as “sin”, “faith”, “elect”, “foreknowledge” and “predestination” to have meanings that are alien to how the orthodox Christians have always understood those terms.

  196. Eric, you write:

    The terms “foreknowledge” and”predestination” are in Scripture.

    Yes, they are. The problem is that the Calvinists have redefined the terms “mortal sin”, “faith”, “perseverance”, “foreknowledge”, and “predestination” into words with strange and novel meanings that are alien to the to the way that orthodox Christians have always understood those same terms.

    The other big problem is that you believe that whatever you think these terms mean are synonymous with the orthodox meaning of those terms, because you are a Lone Ranger Christian that believes that what constitutes orthodoxy is whatever you personally think is true.

  197. Mateo,

    The other big problem is that you believe that whatever you think these terms mean are synonymous with the orthodox meaning of those terms, because you are a Lone Ranger Christian that believes that what constitutes orthodoxy is whatever you personally think is true.

    I know right. It bugs me when people like Eric Mateo believes that what constitutes orthodoxy is whatever the Roman Catholic church he personally thinks is the proper understanding of the Roman Magisterium is true.

  198. Mateo–

    Yeah, we have all these bizarre definitions for simple, straightforward terms:

    Foreknowledge…to know ahead of time.
    Predestination…the divine determining of an outcome ahead of time.
    Perseverance…seeing a course of action through to the end.
    Faith…belief, trust, and confidence in the Supreme Being.
    Mortal sin…a sin which results in the death of the perpetrator.

    I can readily see now where we have been innovative and convoluted in defining these theological terms, against all propriety and common sense. Thanks for pointing this situation out to us. We have been incredibly disingenuous, if not downright spiritually blind!

  199. A similar question which I was asking on the Greenbaggins blog, is this.

    Is Abraham’s justification the same as New Testament justification? Was Abraham righteous because Christ was in him?

    Or is this a new sort of justification in the New Testament?

    This is not intended as a trick question. We believe we are justified in Baptism because of our faith in Jesus Christ. We believe there was a difference in Abraham’s justification and in ours. He was not born again in Christ, he was not regenerated and therefore did not receive the the Holy Spirit when he was justified.

    I just wanted to compare how Protestants answer those questions to what I believe and to Scripture. Because, on the other blog, it sounds as though Protestants make Old Testament justification equal to New Testament justification.

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