Development of Doctrine — Protestant-Style

Dust-ups trickling down from recent Protestant conversions to Rome have revealed contrasting views of history. The Called To Communion view seems to involve a church in place — bulletins, pews, and all — just after Christ ascended to heaven. According to Bryan Cross:

[The Protestant convert to Rome] finds in the first, second and third (etc.) centuries something with a divine origin and with divine authority. He finds the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and its magisterial authority in succession from the Apostles and from Christ. He does not merely find an interpretation in which the Church has apostolic succession; he finds this very same Church itself, and he finds it to have divine authority by a succession from the Apostles. In finding the Church he finds an organic entity nearly two thousand years old with a divinely established hierarchy preserving divine authority.

If this is not a Roman Catholic version of Scott Clark’s QIRC I don’t know what is.

In addition to this non-Protestant version of primitivism (could it be that the Called To Communion guys are still affected by the primitivism that many of them knew when Pentecostals or Charismatics?) comes the argument that Protestants believe in ecclesiastical deism. Again, Bryan Cross is instructive (and wordy which is why I have not read the whole post). The logic runs like this. Protestantism came late, not until the sixteenth century. Protestants believed that Rome was a false church and had begun to apostasize about the time that Augustine’s body was buried. This leaves a gap of almost 1,000 years, between the right-thinking early church and the right-thinking Reformation church. In between, allegedly, God withdrew from his saving plan and planet earth was without a witness to (not hope) but Christ — hence, ecclesiastical deism. This is, by the way, the argument that Thomas More used against William Tyndale, a subject of a couple of papers by (all about) me while in grad school.

As effective as this argument might seem — and when I was studying More I found it intriguing — it is not very historical, at least in the way that people who regard the past as a distant country, a place not readily grasped, understand history. From a historical perspective, not to mention the way we understand ourselves, truths don’t simply fall out of the sky, pile up in neatly proportioned columns, steps, and arches, and remain intact for time immemorial. Instead, truths evolve (or develop if you don’t like Darwinian associations). This is true of the Bible. Redemptive history shows the unfolding of the gospel across millennia of salvation history, such that the seed of Genesis 3:15 does not blossom until 2 Samuel 7 which does not bear fruit until Luke 24 which then generates the harvest of Acts 2. The notion of development is also evident in our own lives. I am and am not the same person I was when I was 8. I loved my parents and the Phillies then (in that order) and I still love them but in very different ways (especially this season).

So if development is basic to history — to creation for that matter — why would church history be any different? The development that would make sense to a Protestant runs something like this. The church began among the apostles and disciples in Jerusalem and then spread to the center of the ancient church in Asia Minor and eventually to Europe. The Eastern Church remained relatively strong until the rise of Islam. The Western Church picked up the pieces of the Roman Empire and had fewer threats from Islam. Both of these churches, though different in culture and language, did not formally sever ties until the eleventh century. After 1054 Constantinople went into decline, Rome went the opposite way. The papal reforms of the eleventh century improved the authority of Rome. But even during the heyday of the papacy’s vigor — the high middle ages –Rome hardly controlled what was going on in the British Isles or France. Europe had no trains, not postal service, and little political consolidation. Trying to give coherence to Christianity was an impossible proposition until modernity gave us print, the nation-state, and effective transportation.

In these circumstances in the West Protestantism emerged. It was clearly different from the Eastern Church. The West’s understanding of salvation was always forensic — how am I right with God? — compared to the East’s which was more metaphysical — how am I one with God? Protestants were still asking the West’s question but found Rome’s answer insufficient. At the same time, Rome’s answer was hardly codified. It existed in any number of commentaries and summas. But Rome itself did not begin to rationalize or systematize its understanding of the gospel until the Council of Trent. Then Rome rejected the systems and reasons of Protestants with a fairly heavy hand. Then too Rome began to try to generate, through the activities of the Jesuits for starters, greater uniformity among the faithful and their clergy.

This view of Rome’s development is evident (at least to all about me) at a terrific website that includes a list of all the popes’ encyclicals and all the councils of the early and medieval churches. On the one hand, popes did not begin to send letters of counsel to their bishops until the thirteenth century. And then the encyclicals, which often pertained to matters of ordination and church-state relations, were infrequent. Between 1226, the first papal encyclical (or bull), and 1500 fifteen popes issued only twenty-two such communications. In contrast, Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758) issued 44 encyclicals (and I don’t think he was writing about the First Pretty Good Awakening). It may be a stretch, but the correlation between the papacy’s consolidation of the Western church and the use of encyclicals hardly seems coincidental.

The same goes when it comes to General Councils. Here is the list of councils at Papal Encyclicals Online:

1. The First General Council of Nicaea, 325
2. The First General Council of Constantinople, 381
3. The General Council of Ephesus, 431
4. The General Council of Chalcedon, 451
5. The Second General Council of Constantinople, 553
6. The Third General Council of Constantinople, 680-681
7. The Second General Council of Nicaea, 787
8. The Fourth General Council of Constantinople, 869-70
9. The First General Council of the Lateran, 1123
10. The Second General Council of the Lateran, 1139
11. The Third General Council of the Lateran, 1179
12. The Fourth General Council of the Lateran, 1215
13. The First General Council of Lyons, 1245
14. The Second General Council of Lyons, 1274
15. The General Council of Vienne, 1311-12
16. The General Council of Constance, 1414-18
17. The General Council of Basel-Ferrara-Florence, 1431-45
18. The Fifth General Council of the Lateran, 1512-17
19. The General Council of Trent, 1545-63
20. The First General Council of the Vatican, 1869-70
21. Vatican II – 1962-1965

Notice that in the early era, councils were in the East, suggesting the weight of authority and structure among the Eastern Orthodox. Notice also that Rome does not begin to hold church councils until the twelfth century, the same time that the papacy is emerging as the religious authority in Europe.

What this means, for the sake of doctrinal development, is that Protestantism emerged out of and did not necessarily break with what was happening in Western Christianity. During the crisis days of the sixteenth century, humanists and Protestants all agreed that the papacy was an institution that needed serious reform. Protestants also began to offer up interpretations of the Bible that were certainly possible in the Roman church but were forbidden after Trent.

It is an arguable point, but the compatibility of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the late middle ages looks plausible if you read the only existing confession of faith approved by one of the general church councils (it is anyway the only one I can find since all the other church councils in the West appear to be devoted to questions of papal authority, schismatic bishops, and uncooperative emperors). Here is the Confession of Faith of Rome in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council:

We firmly believe and simply confess that there is only one true God, eternal and immeasurable, almighty, unchangeable, incomprehensible and ineffable, Father, Son and holy Spirit, three persons but one absolutely simple essence, substance or nature {1} . The Father is from none, the Son from the Father alone, and the holy Spirit from both equally, eternally without beginning or end; the Father generating, the Son being born, and the holy Spirit proceeding; consubstantial and coequal, co-omnipotent and coeternal; one principle of all things, creator of all things invisible and visible, spiritual and corporeal; who by his almighty power at the beginning of time created from nothing both spiritual and corporeal creatures, that is to say angelic and earthly, and then created human beings composed as it were of both spirit and body in common. The devil and other demons were created by God naturally good, but they became evil by their own doing. Man, however, sinned at the prompting of the devil.

This holy Trinity, which is undivided according to its common essence but distinct according to the properties of its persons, gave the teaching of salvation to the human race through Moses and the holy prophets and his other servants, according to the most appropriate disposition of the times. Finally the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, who became incarnate by the action of the whole Trinity in common and was conceived from the ever virgin Mary through the cooperation of the holy Spirit, having become true man, composed of a rational soul and human flesh, one person in two natures, showed more clearly the way of life. Although he is immortal and unable to suffer according to his divinity, he was made capable of suffering and dying according to his humanity. Indeed, having suffered and died on the wood of the cross for the salvation of the human race, he descended to the underworld, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. He descended in the soul, rose in the flesh, and ascended in both. He will come at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, to render to every person according to his works, both to the reprobate and to the elect. All of them will rise with their own bodies, which they now wear, so as to receive according to their deserts, whether these be good or bad; for the latter perpetual punishment with the devil, for the former eternal glory with Christ.

There is indeed one universal church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice. His body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine, the bread and wine having been changed in substance, by God’s power, into his body and blood, so that in order to achieve this mystery of unity we receive from God what he received from us. Nobody can effect this sacrament except a priest who has been properly ordained according to the church’s keys, which Jesus Christ himself gave to the apostles and their successors. But the sacrament of baptism is consecrated in water at the invocation of the undivided Trinity — namely Father, Son and holy Spirit — and brings salvation to both children and adults when it is correctly carried out by anyone in the form laid down by the church. If someone falls into sin after having received baptism, he or she can always be restored through true penitence. For not only virgins and the continent but also married persons find favour with God by right faith and good actions and deserve to attain to eternal blessedness.

Protestant Reformers would have objected to parts of this confession especially in the last paragraph. But it is hard to see how with some Protestant clarifications this might have been a serviceable confession for both Rome and Geneva.

The contention here, then, is that justification came late to debates in the Western Church. Protestants initiated those debates and made proposals. Rome rejected those proposals outright at least at Trent. But prior to Trent Rome had no official position on justification. Protestantism accordingly developed within Roman Catholicism, which developed from relations with churches in the East, which developed from the ministry of Jesus and the apostles in Jerusalem. To say that what we have in Roman Catholicism is what the early church had in the first three centuries is like saying that some angel of God left some gold plates containing the final revelation buried underground somewhere in upstate New York.

205 thoughts on “Development of Doctrine — Protestant-Style

  1. Well said. I like to tell my Romish friends their church didn’t exist until Trent, and my Protestant friends that Calvin and Luther–especially Luther– were medieval men and thought as such, and that the Reformation sprang from all that was good and true of the medieval church . (Needless to say, I respect my Tridentine RC friends, because at least they’re honest about what their church teaches unlike some of their clergy and bishops.)

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  2. Yes, but doctrinal development occurs not because the deposit of faith lacked the orthodoxy prior to the encyclicals or councils, in fact the reason there is no official statement is because it was already commonly/uniformly believed and it wasn’t till further questions or challenges arise is there need for the infallible, in regards to doctrinal fidelity, ecclesial magisterium to render judgement. So, it was already there, maybe untidily arranged, awaiting needed clarification by the rightful authority should it be necessary. See! Get it! Now that’s some tidy for ya. Nice to see the 4th Lateran council was recognizing the undergirding unity of the priesthood and the sacraments as ground for unity.

    Did I mention that Rome is the mass? Just wanted to make sure that was out there.

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  3. D.G. Hart: Development of Doctrine — Protestant-Style

    RS: Great article. Has all doctrinal development stopped now? More specifically, did all doctrinal development stop with the TFU and the WCF?

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  4. If this is not a Roman Catholic version of Scott Clark’s QIRC I don’t know what is.

    Indeed…

    And regarding the convert to Rome, Mr. Cross’s comment – He does not merely find an interpretation in which the Church has apostolic succession; he finds this very same Church itself, and he finds it to have divine authority by a succession from the Apostles – demonstrates the operation of the gift of divine revelation, ex nihilo, in the one who discovers the Roman Church. Yet looking at the same record and finding no such Roman institution is prima facie evidence that one is operating only by personal interpretation.

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  5. D.G.,

    I don’t find much to disagree with in your article, even though you frame it in juxtaposition to something I wrote. I have only a few points. First, somehow, though I have no idea how, you took away from my “Ecclesial Deism” post the idea that I believe that the Church, just after Christ ascended into heaven, was in the same state of development it is in today. I never made such a claim; nor do I believe that to be the case. Such a notion would essentially be a denial of development. So your “gold plates” analogy at the end of your post doesn’t apply to my position. The essence of the Church was there on the day of Pentecost, in doctrine, in sacraments, and in hierarchy, but it was all only in nascent form. But the Body of Christ there on that day of Pentecost is the same Body of Christ that exists today, subsisting in the Catholic Church.

    Second, it is one thing to claim that “Roman Catholicism “developed from relations with churches in the East” in the sense that the development of Roman Catholicism was affected by the schism of 1054. I agree with that. But, it would be quite another to claim that the Catholic Church, within which the bishop of Rome enjoyed a certain primacy in the first millennium (see Chapman’s “Studies on the Early Papacy,” developed from relations with churches in the East. In Catholic ecclesiology, the essential unity of the universal Church is more than, but nothing less than a visible unity, and in that respect, the Church that Peter led on Pentecost Sunday is the very same [in the sense of numerical identity] Catholic Church led by Pope Benedict XVI today, though having undergone much development.

    Third, I agree with what you said about justification. The problem, of course, is that all heresies first arise *within* the Church, and subsequently become formally heretically when a council condemns them. So the fact that certain Protestant notions of justification arose within the Catholic Church, does not show them to be orthodox. And Trent made their unorthodoxy definitive. Without authoritative councils, there is no difference between development and corruption, because in such a case anyone can claim development for his own novel interpretation of Scripture. As Newman explains, authentic development cannot negate what has been laid down before. But if nothing can be laid down definitively, then nothing distinguishes development from corruption and accretion.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  6. Bryan – To your knowledge does the Roman Catholic Church make financial statements available to members as most reputable Protestant Churches do? Does anyone know what they own? What their annual income & expenses are?

    The reason I ask is that whenever an institution is making great claims for its own authority it would be nice for those who are members of that institution to know these details. Otherwise how does one know that they are not just being taken for a ride?

    With great authority should come great accountability and transparency, no?

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  7. If the Roman Catholic Church is not transparent with its finances it would be quite convenient to tell its members that there is no salvation outside of membership in the church, wouldn’t it?

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  8. Bryan Cross: Third, I agree with what you said about justification. The problem, of course, is that all heresies first arise *within* the Church, and subsequently become formally heretically when a council condemns them. So the fact that certain Protestant notions of justification arose within the Catholic Church, does not show them to be orthodox. And Trent made their unorthodoxy definitive. Without authoritative councils, there is no difference between development and corruption, because in such a case anyone can claim development for his own novel interpretation of Scripture. As Newman explains, authentic development cannot negate what has been laid down before. But if nothing can be laid down definitively, then nothing distinguishes development from corruption and accretion.

    RS: But how do you know that the council was correct about justification and not just defending its status in the world at that time? That is precisely what the scribes and the Pharisees did. Why was Trent authoritative at that point? Didn’t Wycliffe and Hus teach basically the same thing before Luther? It seems that it was not so much the teaching of Luther that got them moving, since that teaching was before Luther, but something else. It is hard for mere men to try to control grace though they try to condemn those who say that God alone can give grace as He pleases.

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  9. Bryan Cross: “the fact that certain Protestant notions of justification arose within the Catholic Church, does not show them to be orthodox”

    True.

    Bryan Cross: “And Trent made their unorthodoxy definitive. Without authoritative councils, there is no difference between development and corruption, because in such a case anyone can claim development for his own novel interpretation of Scripture.”

    False. Trent neither made their orthodoxy definitive or probative.

    Just as much as Protestants who look to the 1500 and 1600s for guidance, your faith is in interpreted history and fallible men. It ought to be in God who only speaks in Scripture. To claim that private interpretation is novel is to assume what you are unwilling to examine.

    But worse, it claims God has chosen to speak apart from His word (Word). For this you must be judged.

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  10. Bryan says;

    ” The problem, of course, is that all heresies first arise *within* the Church, and subsequently become formally heretically when a council condemns them. So the fact that certain Protestant notions of justification arose within the Catholic Church, does not show them to be orthodox. And Trent made their unorthodoxy definitive. ”

    Sean: This speaks to my point before about a nascent orthodoxy, that according to Bryan was ALWAYS there but was unnecessary to elucidate in encyclical form until it was challenged, the assumption being that it was widely accepted and that uniformly. The deviation(reformation) being cause for ecclesial pronouncement. But, in spite of all the unsubstantiated assumptions inherent in such an approach, I’m willing to accept the juxtaposition of protestant justification declarations to Trentian anathemas. I accept these polarizations. Cross and the CTC crew are now in the position of affirming Trentian declarations on justification, in contrast to parallel protestant declarations. This is finally ground for discussion of distinction between the two.

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  11. Sean,

    This is finally ground for discussion of distinction between the two.

    Couldn’t agree more here. So much of the recent discussion regarding Reformed conversions to Rome have been couched in terms of the antiquity and (supposed) continuity of the RCC to the apostolic Church and to the ECF’s. I don’t doubt that for Brian, or Jason, or any of the others over at CTC, that this was a major driving force behind their change. However, it is not the ECF’s that settles the matter of whether or not the Protestant Confessions were a recovery/reformation of orthodoxy really centers in on whether or not Trent was a valid expression of orthodoxy. This is the divide between RC’s and confessing Protestants, and the solas especially the question of justification was the material principle of the Reformation, a fact that many in our own camp are slow to admit.

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  12. I must say, this post was the Dude at his finest…I don’t know about you but I take a lot of comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there…

    Sasparilla anyone?

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  13. I love the point about redemptive history. It seems silly to not recognize the evolution (or development) of theology. Trinitarian thought is non negotiable now but was not clearly defined for saints like Justin Martyr. We articulate more clearly in the present because of the work of those who came before us. Talking as if God removed his plan of salvation from earth for X amount of time is much more akin to Mormonism than it is to reformation thought. Though, couldn’t one argue the true church was lost until the O(nly)P(erfect)C(hurch) was created by Machen?

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  14. Bryan, if you don’t disagree with the post in general, then your version of ecclesiastical deism is wrong.

    But you continue to assert that the church was there in essence at Pentecost. Protestants make the same claim. On June 23, 34 AD it would be very difficult to say which of those claims were right since a lot of development would have to happen to get to papal primacy of the 13th century or to the Westminster Assembly. In other words, if it is ludicrous for Landmark Baptists to say that they are doing in essence what the early church was doing, CTC Roman Catholics are equally ludicrous. No historical awareness.

    The same applies to heresy developing out of the tradition. The Judaizers developed out of the tradition in Galatia. (BTW, what solved the problem wasn’t a council but an epistle.) Traditions can produce both good and bad. But you don’t have the ability to judge which is good and bad without being told by the bishop of Rome. You cannot fathom that the Bishop of Rome might be wrong even though the Eastern Churches and church councils and rival popes told him he was wrong. Which is to say that Roman Catholicism could just as well be the error and Protestantism the truth that developed out of the tradition. I can give a better account of why Protestantism is right. All you can do is say the church cannot err. As I just wrote to Stellman over at Greenbaggins, this kind of anti-intellectualism is amazing. A system that is unfalsifiable is not divine, it is inhuman. (BTW, if the Bible is God’s word, which I believe it is, it certainly can be falsified in the sense that it permits a number of interpretations. It is not a phone book which is what your view of history reminds me of.)

    As for authoritative councils, well I’m flummoxed. I thought Rome’s advantage on your view was the papacy. Conciliarism tried to get around a heavy handed pope but the authority on which you rely shot it down. Now you say that councils are also authoritative?

    I’d like to see what Newman would do with Vatican II’s “development” of Vatican I. Again, beware of the anti-intellectualism. Let me help you out, admit that human officers may err and you have a way out. Rome can still be your church and it can be right. Presbyterians are right and we err. At least we can admit to being human and sinful.

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  15. Richard, I don’t think so. Some confessionalists think that the church should always be articulating its faith in the form of its own confession. Without that we tend to treat the WS and TFU as encyclopedias rather than as living breathing expressions of the church’s faith.

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  16. Sean, but you need to notice that Brian and CTCer’s not only affirm Trent but they must also affirm Vatican II which leaves them a little two-faced on how to regard Protestants. Are we going to hell, or are we estranged brothers? I don’t see how brotherhood follows from the essence of anathema.

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  17. Jed, as I just wrote to Sean, don’t get hung up on Trent. I’m serious. Many of my RC friends who are conservative but a little embarrassed by CTC believe that Trent is over thanks to Vatican II. Whether it’s development of doctrine of a less propositional understanding of propositions (look at Christian Smith’s handling of Vatican II), these folks believe that we need to get over Trent.

    I think that may be right given the current configuration of Rome and its teaching (CTC notwithstanding). But given Cross’ point about antiquity, and given that Trent is older than Vatican II, I am having a hard time figuring out how Cross’ steel trap view of history handles that anomaly.

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  18. D.G.,

    I think the argument you may get from the CTC crowd is gonna go along the lines of Trent is declarative/mandative where as Vatican II is suggestive. That’s why in certain corners of Rome, with CTC or people like my folks who want to roll back a number of the ‘progressive’ developments of Vatican II they are going back to the traditionalist route and live in the ECF, or baltimore catechism. This speaks to your primitive comment. As regards Vatican II, it’s not dissimilar to when a protestant assembly or synod makes a distinction between a study that is adopted, In thesi, but not necessarily creedal. Of course, even if Vatican II is in the, ‘In Thesi’ category, the roman traditionalists are treating it much like FV presbyteries in the PCA are treating the General Assembly’s FV report. I believe this is the sort of response you would get back from someone like Bryan. I could be wrong, I’ll have to go back and look at the exact formulation of Vatican II. Certainly, the Rome I know and you have interaction with outside of CTC are strongly Vatican II manifestations.

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  19. D.G.,

    You write; “I’m serious. Many of my RC friends who are conservative but a little embarrassed by CTC believe that Trent is over thanks to Vatican II.”

    I have yet to meet these conservative Catholics who believe that Trent is over. When I was going through my conversion process I was shocked to realize that many PCA pastors and even some seminary Professors had never read Trent in its entirety (or even the 6th session on Justification). Instead, they had merely read the Anathema’s. Realizing this I was shocked to read the 6th session of Trent on my own and find a clear affirmation of justification by grace alone. My experience was similar to what Peter Kreeft describes;

    “I remember vividly the thrill of discovery when, as a young Protestant at Calvin College, I read Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent on justification. I did not find what I had been told I would find, “another gospel” of do-it-yourself salvation by works, but a clear and forceful statement that we can do nothing without God’s grace, and that this grace, accepted by faith, is what saves us.”

    Look at the five causes of justification according to Trent;

    1) The final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, and life everlasting
    2) The efficient cause is a merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing, and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance
    3) The meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited Justification for us by His most holy Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction for us unto God the Father
    4) The instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified
    5) Lastly, the alone formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation.

    Conservative Catholics celebrate Trent and recognize it is an infallible Council which rightly teacher justification by faith through grace.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  20. Jeremy T:
    Look at the five causes of justification according to Trent;

    1) The final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, and life everlasting
    2) The efficient cause is a merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing, and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance
    3) The meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited Justification for us by His most holy Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction for us unto God the Father
    4) The instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified

    RS: Which is enacted by a work of man and so is not by grace alone.

    Jeremy T: 5) Lastly, the alone formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation.

    RS: There it is in clear words. God makes people just, that is, through their words and so they are declared just. That is not what the Bible means by grace alone. A person is declared just on the basis of the works of Christ alone and nothing by what that person does. God declares the ungodly just on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ rather than make people just in order to declare them just on the basis of their works.

    Jermy T: Conservative Catholics celebrate Trent and recognize it is an infallible Council which rightly teacher justification by faith through grace.

    RS: Yes, but your idea of faith ends up in works and your idea of grace ends up by works. This is not a Gospel of grace alone by the work of Christ alone.

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  21. Jeremy T,

    That’s why the Sola’s are everything. That’s why ECT and the Manhattan declaration are examples of ‘supposed’ reformation protestants selling the house, while the roman catholic’s sit in their recliner.

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  22. D.G.

    Here’s the closing statement of the vatican II council, sounds binding;

    “At last all which regards the holy ecumenical council has, with the help of God, been accomplished and all the constitutions, decrees,
    declarations and votes have been approved by the deliberation of the synod and promulgated by us. Therefore we decided to close for all intents and purposes, with our apostolic authority, this same ecumenical council called by our predecessor, Pope John XXIII, which opened October 11, 1962, and which was continued by us after his death.

    We decided moreover that all that has been established synodally is to be religiously observed by all the faithful, for the glory of God and the dignity of the Church and for the tranquility and peace of all men. We have approved and established these things, decreeing that the present letters are and remain stable and valid, and are to have legal effectiveness, so that they be disseminated and obtain full and complete effect, and so that they may be fully convalidated by those whom they concern or may concern now and in the future; and so that, as it be judged and described, all efforts contrary to these things by whomever or whatever authority, knowingly or in ignorance be invalid and worthless from now on.

    Given in Rome at St. Peter’s, under the [seal of the] ring of the fisherman, Dec. 8, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the year 1965, the third year of our pontificate.”

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  23. D.G.,

    Bryan, if you don’t disagree with the post in general, then your version of ecclesiastical deism is wrong.

    You do realize, do you not, that my article is an argument *against* ecclesial deism. If you think my article affirms or defends some form of ecclesial deism, then you have misunderstood my article.

    But you continue to assert that the church was there in essence at Pentecost. Protestants make the same claim. On June 23, 34 AD it would be very difficult to say which of those claims were right since a lot of development would have to happen to get to papal primacy of the 13th century or to the Westminster Assembly. In other words, if it is ludicrous for Landmark Baptists to say that they are doing in essence what the early church was doing, CTC Roman Catholics are equally ludicrous.

    That conclusion does not follow. There are dozens of beliefs and practices found in the first three centuries of the Church that still belong to the Catholic Church today, but which cannot be found among the Baptists. I list some of them in the “Ecclesial Deism” article. Not only that, but the institution of the Catholic Church did not form as a result of any schism from a prior institution, but extends back to AD 33, in the apostolic hierarchy and subsequently in the episcopal succession from the Apostles. That cannot be said for the Baptists communities, which formed as a result of schism from the Catholic Church. In addition, the developments that occurred within the Catholic Church over the course of the centuries were organic in nature, always preserving and more deeply explicating that which was already present. That is not the case with regard to Baptist theology and practice, which in many respects is a rejection of a great many beliefs and practices that had been held throughout the Catholic Church for over a thousand years. Baptists separated themselves from the Catholic Church, rejected Catholic tradition, and sought to return to the primitive church by restarting afresh from Scripture alone, rather than from the Tradition and hierarchical institution that had been handed down over the centuries.

    But you don’t have the ability to judge which is good and bad without being told by the bishop of Rome.

    That oversimplifies the Catholic position. The dogma concerning infallibility does not mean that lay Catholics are incapable of making judgments regarding what is good or bad, or cannot discern orthodoxy from heresy. For example, we know that any claim that contradicts or denies an already defined dogma is heretical, no matter who says it, even the pope. The dogma of infallibility precisely helps provide the means by which we can know what is good and bad, what is orthodox and what is heretical. We’re not left in the position of needing to use our own private interpretation of Scripture as the standard of orthodoxy.

    You cannot fathom that the Bishop of Rome might be wrong even though the Eastern Churches and church councils and rival popes told him he was wrong.

    An atheist could say the same thing to you regarding Jesus of Nazareth. So it is a question-begging criticism. If the dogma of infallibility is true, and one knows it to be true, then it would be irrational to treat the magisterium (under the dogma’s qualifications) as fallible. The requirement that every magisterial pronouncement be subject to the layman’s verification or falsification presupposes that there can be no such thing as a charism of protection from error. Such a notion [i.e. there can be no such thing as a charism of protection from error] has not been demonstrated, and is not safe to presuppose as a foundational premise in the task of sacred theology.

    In what cases do you think that “rival popes” told a pope he was wrong?

    Which is to say that Roman Catholicism could just as well be the error and Protestantism the truth that developed out of the tradition.

    Neither the dogma of infallibility nor its implications are semantically equivalent to the thesis that “Roman Catholicism could just as well be the error and Protestantism the truth that developed out of the tradition.” Nor does “Roman Catholicism could just as well be the error and Protestantism the truth that developed out of the tradition” follow from your premises.

    I can give a better account of why Protestantism is right. All you can do is say the church cannot err.

    Statements about me don’t falsify anything I said in my previous comment, or in my Ecclesial Deism article.

    As I just wrote to Stellman over at Greenbaggins, this kind of anti-intellectualism is amazing. A system that is unfalsifiable is not divine, it is inhuman.

    What exactly would it take to falsify that last statement?

    (BTW, if the Bible is God’s word, which I believe it is, it certainly can be falsified in the sense that it permits a number of interpretations.

    Here you’re using language as Humpty-Dumpty does, making up for yourself whatever you want ‘falsification’ to mean, as though language is not necessarily communal property. But ‘falsification’ already has a meaning, and it is not the notion that various interpretations of x are possible. I’ve discussed falsification in a 2009 podcast titled “Faith and Reason.

    As for authoritative councils, well I’m flummoxed. I thought Rome’s advantage on your view was the papacy. Conciliarism tried to get around a heavy handed pope but the authority on which you rely shot it down. Now you say that councils are also authoritative?

    We affirm twenty-one ecumenical councils, each being authoritative. On the authority of councils see chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium.

    I’d like to see what Newman would do with Vatican II’s “development” of Vatican I.

    He would be very glad to see it.

    Again, beware of the anti-intellectualism. Let me help you out, admit that human officers may err and you have a way out. Rome can still be your church and it can be right. Presbyterians are right and we err. At least we can admit to being human and sinful.

    Your warning against anti-intellectualism is duly noted. I assume you know that the dogma of infallibility does not rule out the possibility of error by human officers under many conditions. The dogma is the extension of a divine promise to protect the Church from error under certain specified conditions. It is the fruit of a divine promise by which we can know that development is movement toward a deeper understanding of the truth given to us in the deposit, rather than being left entirely to our own personal opinion based on our own interpretation of Scripture. If the dogma of infallibility were true, how would you know? It appears to me that your assumption that every Church teaching must be falsifiable presupposes that Christ either could not have, or at least did not, provide such a charism to the Church. But you have not demonstrated how you do or would know that He did not provide such a gift to His Church. Therefore, it seems to me, your falsifiability criterion is a question-begging criterion.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  24. Jeremy T., well anyone who has read Calvin and Luther would not be surprised to hear that Rome believes justification is by grace. The question is whether the righteousness of Christ is imputed or infused.

    Your surprise is similar to all those who sign Evangelicals and Catholics together. Protestants mean something gracious that is different from Rome’s graciousness.

    But if Trent is infallible council, why has Vatican 2 recognized Protestants as brothers rather than as heretics?

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  25. Bryan, here is how I know that Christ did not provide the infallibility (or charism) that you posit. I read the NT where infallible apostles met error everywhere they went. If God promised to preserve the church the way you interpret that promise, then were did the Judaizers come from and why did God ever let that record of dissent get into holy writ?

    In case you haven’t noticed, the Bible is much fuller of dissent and error (as in members of the community of faith who err and stray) than your view of Rome allows for error. I cannot fathom how the church, filled with fallible people, would turn out any differently from what transpires in Scripture.

    I worry about you and the CTC. You guys have built your faith on a notion of certainty and freedom from error that may be true of another planet but has never been evident on earth. How do I know? The Bible tells me so.

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  26. Darryl. Nice piece. While you try to pacify those bothered by the “evolution” word by using the word “development”, I think the distinction is unsustainable from an etymological and historical perspective.

    Your fundamental thesis opens the door to the “neo-ing” of paleo-Calvinism. I’m glad to see that. As the Reformation articulation of JBF, the doctrines of grace, etc. were developments of Christian doctrine since the ancient church, so neo-Calvinism may be a proper unfolding of Christian doctrine since the Reformation.

    The whole notion of development/evolution in the natural world, in society, in the church is a significant piece of the Reformational philosophy. Nice to see you embrace it.

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  27. This discussion about justification and grace is quite telling. Darryl’s point to Jeremy T. is the main issue. I think that Protestants have done a disservice to Catholics and to themselves by over-simplifying the discussion and saying that Catholics believe in salvation by works and Protestants believe in salvation by grace. A good Catholic would always say (like a good Protestant) that the good that they do is by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s enabling. But for a Catholic (following Trent) this good is part of what justifies. That’s the difference! Am I justified because of a righteousness outside of me (in Christ alone)? Or because of a righteous outside of me plus God’s work in me? (Again, Catholics would affirm that Christ’s righteousness and atoning sacrifice contributes to justification.)

    But we confuse the matter when we say Catholics don’t believe in justification by faith or in the atoning sacrifice of Christ or in grace. I once discussed this with a pastor friend who was emphasizing that, of course, Catholics believe in grace and in Christ–at least the ones he knew. I suggested to him that that wasn’t the difference but focused on infused vs. imputed righteousness as Darryl pointed out. He responded by saying that in his opinion that was a pretty fine point, theologically speaking, and that it may well be unreasonable for the average church member to grasp it. I was astonished that one of the key points of the Protestant Reformation was a mere “fine point” to this pastor. But I guess it helps explain why the evangelical world is so fuzzy on the basics of the gospel.

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  28. prior to Trent Rome had no official position on justification

    That would explain why Sola Fide is nowhere to be found in the ancient creeds.

    Protestant Reformers would have objected to parts of this confession especially in the last paragraph. But it is hard to see how with some Protestant clarifications this might [not?] have been a serviceable confession for both Rome and Geneva.

    Wouldn’t Protestants object to the second paragraph as well? Where’s Sola Christus? I see a lot of “according to their deserts, whether these be good or bad” and “find favour with God by right faith and good actions and deserve to attain to eternal blessedness”

    For not only virgins and the continent but also married persons…

    So is it the official position of Rome that all married persons are incontinent?

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  29. D.G. Hart,

    I read the NT where infallible apostles met error everywhere they went. If God promised to preserve the church the way you interpret that promise, then were did the Judaizers come from and why did God ever let that record of dissent get into holy writ?

    As I explained in one of my comments under your “Former Saint’s Remorse” thread, just because Judaizing was a problem in some *particular Churches,* it does not follow that God did not promise to protect the universal Church from doctrinal error. Error and heresy among individual persons and even within particular churches does not entail that the universal Church is not divinely protected from falling into heresy.

    In case you haven’t noticed, the Bible is much fuller of dissent and error (as in members of the community of faith who err and stray) than your view of Rome allows for error.

    That’s simply not true. All the error recorded in the Bible is fully compatible with the Catholic dogma of infallibility. If you disagree, please show how the doctrine of infallibility, as it is defined by the Catholic Church, is incompatible with these accounts of error recorded in the Biblical narrative.

    I cannot fathom how the church, filled with fallible people, would turn out any differently from what transpires in Scripture.

    The limitation of your fathoming capacity is no argument or evidence against the truth of the Catholic doctrine.

    I worry about you and the CTC. You guys have built your faith on a notion of certainty and freedom from error that may be true of another planet but has never been evident on earth. How do I know? The Bible tells me so.

    It is difficult not to notice the performative contradiction herein — how you criticize the Catholic position for its stance on certainty and infallibility, on the basis of an implicit certainty in your own mind that such a condition has never been present on this planet, based on your certainty that you’ve interpreted the Bible correctly regarding this question. Skeptics have no basis for confidently criticizing the truth claims of those who claim to know. To be consistent, as Aristotle pointed out of Cratylus in the Metaphysics, the skeptic must be silent, limited only to wagging his finger.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  30. Article 31 – The one oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross

    “The offering of Christ once made is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is no other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in which it was commonly said that the priests offered Christ for the living and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.”

    Of course Newman in his tract 90 argued the “sacrifice of the mass” was not being rejected here because “sacrifices” was plural in the article. But then Newman, as honest perhaps as Jason Stellman, knew better and left the Anglicans for Rome.

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  31. the doctrine of infallibility, as it is defined by the Catholic Church

    Can you give some linkage there? Also, in addition to the orthodoxy how about the orthopraxy? Is there a list of infallible artifacts? (Does that list include itself?)

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  32. quote from Bryan:
    Error and heresy among individual persons and even within particular churches does not entail that the universal Church is not divinely protected from falling into heresy.

    The Roman idea that the universal church is the same as the visible church makes “divinely protected from falling into heresy” an even more difficult circle to square when infallibility of said church is thrown in. As Darryl has asked a couple times (GB and here), are Protestants who hold to ‘justification through faith alone’ accursed as heretics (Trent)? Or are they separated “brethren” as Vatican II asserts? Is Vatican II holding a ‘heretical” view contra Trent?

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  33. Bryan,

    As I explained in one of my comments under your “Former Saint’s Remorse” thread, just because Judaizing was a problem in some *particular Churches,* it does not follow that God did not promise to protect the universal Church from doctrinal error

    But this totally ignores the fact that particular churches are part of the universal body of Christ, and catholicity demands that where one aspect of the body is affected, the whole is as well. If this sort of reasoning were employed in the Arian Controversy, we may never have ended up with Nicea. The fact that particular churches err has been the entire basis of councils in the past. Besides, this is a pollyanish view of the genuine warnings in Scripture where Christians, especially the leadership in the churches, were called to be on their guard against the threat of false doctrine.

    It is difficult not to notice the performative contradiction herein — how you criticize the Catholic position for its stance on certainty and infallibility, on the basis of an implicit certainty in your own mind that such a condition has never been present on this planet, based on your certainty that you’ve interpreted the Bible correctly regarding this question.

    Again Bryan, much of this boils down to faith, how we are persuaded in our consciences about what is true based on the rational evidence provided. The caveat is rational evidence, and how we interpret a falsifiable set of facts to back up our hypothesis. However to foist the certainty that a Roman Catholic possesses certainty regarding the infallibility of the Pope as the equivalent to how the (confessional) Protestant possesses certainty in Sola Scriptura, is to posit a lopsided comparison. Catholics must be (reasonably) certain regarding the Pope’s infallibility, and by extension all that the church formally teaches under his authority regarding matters of Scripture, Tradition, or otherwise. The Protestant’s (reasonable) certainty in Sola Scriptura simply places confidence in the veracity of Scripture as the only sufficient vehicle of inerrant divine revelation, however the Protestant can then assign varying degrees of certainty on the doctrines of Scripture based on the degree of necessity of these doctrines, which flows from the clarity of Scripture on the matter. Which is why we assign the highest degree of confidence say, in the Trinity, because it is a necessary teaching of Scripture, but we also concede that while we place a high degree of confidence in our own confessional statements, we must also acknowledge our fallibility, and that there may yet be room for our understanding of the doctrines contained in Scripture to develop, exposing areas of error to which we were heretofore blind. This places us in the position of building upon the historic interpretation of Scriptures without bowing to it according infallibility to any man, as Catholics seem prone to do.

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  34. D.G., Jack,

    Trent and Vatican II – My understanding is that Trent is speaking to a generation who willingly left the Catholic Church of their own accord while Vatican II is speaking to generations raised in communities outside the Catholic Church. I think the decree on Ecumenism from Vatican II makes a clear distinction;

    The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church- whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church–do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body,[21] and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  35. Jeremy T –

    I hold to justification by faith alone as inseparable from the true Gospel and thus salvation. I was raised as a Christian in the Lutheran Church and after some meanderings, via house-church and Anglican, I am securely ensconced in the OPC. Am I accursed (Trent) for holding the above doctrine? Or am I accepted as a brother (Vatican II)? Your explanation avoids answering this straight forward question.

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  36. Jed,

    But this totally ignores the fact that particular churches are part of the universal body of Christ, and catholicity demands that where one aspect of the body is affected, the whole is as well.

    That would entail either that Christ is not the Head of the Body, or that when one member sins, Christ sins. Which horn of that dilemma do you wish to take?

    If this sort of reasoning were employed in the Arian Controversy, we may never have ended up with Nicea.

    How so?

    The fact that particular churches err has been the entire basis of councils in the past.

    That’s fully compatible with everything I said.

    Besides, this is a pollyanish view of the genuine warnings in Scripture where Christians, especially the leadership in the churches, were called to be on their guard against the threat of false doctrine.

    Someone who denies that all the NT warning passages imply that any regenerate person can actually fall away, is telling me that other warning passages imply that the universal Church can fall into heresy? This is the result of an individualistic way of seeing Christ’s promises regarding the impossibility of the gates of hell prevailing against the Church, and being with her even to the end of the age; such passages mean, apparently, on your view, only that regenerate individuals cannot lose their salvation, and have no social dimension.

    But, to the point, you’re using your own interpretation of Scripture as the standard by which you judge the Catholic doctrine to be “pollyanish.” If you had the interpretive authority to establish for all Christians the hermeneutical standard against which interpretations are to be judged either too optimistic, or too pessimistic, you’d have a non-question-begging objection to the Catholic doctrine.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  37. But, Terry, by the same token the neo-ing of Calvinism may also be the same straying as any denial of sola fide. Development of doctrine cuts both ways.

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  38. So, Jeremy, if we Protestants are brethren “with respect and affection” and are “in communion with the Catholic Church” then what is the point of something like CtC? Maybe you’ll say it’s better to be close than afar off, but it seems to me Trent earns more Protestant respect and affection for understanding and anathematizing it.

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  39. Bryan, that’s impressive, “performative contradiction herein.” HAL could not have said it better.

    The problem is that the claim of infallibility is unbelievable (and unverifiable). It is different from a mystery. A mystery may not be comprehended. But to believe that human beings are infallible (with all due qualifications yada yada yada) is incredible. How do I know? Only God is infallible. I’m betting your friend Aristotle would even agree with that.

    But back to the question of protection from error, what does it mean if it dies the death of a thousand qualifications. Was the papacy in error when there were two popes? How about three?

    You can talk logic all you want. I’m trying to talk about real human existence in history not in Narnia.

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  40. Well best I can tell Bryan has substituted magisterial authority for canonical authority. And because no protestant church is willing to claim infallible interpretation (dogma creating and codified), but Rome does, Rome wins by default because it claims an authority protestant denominations, outside Jim Jones types, do not and therefore must necessarily be reduced to solo scriptura, and this isn’t question begging on the part CTC’s Rome cuz, Rome claimed it, and unless your Jim Jones or some sort of delusional character, you can’t play the game.

    It’s nice work if you can get it I suppose. Hal 2001 sounds reasonable.

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  41. D.G. Hart,

    that’s impressive, “performative contradiction herein.” HAL could not have said it better.

    It would be nice if contradictions within one’s theology or philosophy were removed simply by noting that HAL could not have pointed them out better.

    The problem is that the claim of infallibility is unbelievable (and unverifiable).

    If by “unbelievable” you mean “cannot be believed,” then I wonder why you are criticizing it, or trying to prevent people from believing it. Otherwise, you’ll have to define what you mean by “unbelievable.”

    As for “unverifiable,” I addressed that in my second comment above.

    It is different from a mystery. A mystery may not be comprehended. But to believe that human beings are infallible (with all due qualifications yada yada yada) is incredible. How do I know? Only God is infallible.

    Do you deny then that the angels and the saints in heaven are infallible? Do you think that the inability-to-resist-sin-necessarily, and thus the possibility of an additional fall from grace, remains eternally even in heaven? If not, then it is false that only God is infallible, and you have no principled basis for denying God’s omnipotence by asserting that God cannot possibly protect a person from error in this life, while acknowledging that He can do so in the life to come.

    But back to the question of protection from error, what does it mean if it dies the death of a thousand qualifications.

    The protasis of the conditional is false, because there are not a thousand qualifications. In my second comment above, I already referred to chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium in which these qualifications are stated.

    Was the papacy in error when there were two popes? How about three?

    There were never two (or more) popes at the same time. During what is known as the Western Schism there was simultaneously more than one antipope, but never two or more popes at the same time. But throughout the history of the Church, there have been antipopes, as can be seen in the Catholic Encyclopedia’s “list of popes.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  42. Bryan,

    All you do is question beg as it regards Rome’s magisterial authority. You have two requirements to meet. One, that Jesus(as testator) actually attests to and prescribes such a solitary, visible and infallible magisterium and two, that that communion is Rome. All you’ve done is presume and claim it.

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  43. Bryan,

    First of all, you are not distinguishing between error, heresy, and apostasy, so we may be talking past each other. But assuming error, yes Christ is still the head of the errant portions of his church, and errant churches are still part of the invisible church, and He calls them to repentance, generally through the officers of the church (e.g. the Galatian Controversy addressed by Paul; or the Arian Controversy by the Nicean Council). Assuming heresy, Christ speaks similarly through his prophetic Word, which is interpreted and applied by councils and synods (and other church courts). Concerning apostasy, Christ exercises headship by cutting the dead branches off, as they no longer bear fruit.

    That would entail either that Christ is not the Head of the Body, or that when one member sins, Christ sins. Which horn of that dilemma do you wish to take?

    I have no idea where you are actually going with this, either Christ can rule his church or he can’t, and to equate the church with Christ is to push the “body of Christ” imagery in Scripture beyond it’s intended limits.

    Someone who denies that all the NT warning passages imply that any regenerate person can actually fall away, is telling me that other warning passages imply that the universal Church can fall into heresy?

    Your inability to see the Universal Church beyond those who have bended their knee to the bishop of Rome is seriously impairing your ability to hear what I have actually said. There is always a faithful remnant, through the darkest days Christ has always protected his true church, and the sins of his people are not to be construed as his sin. Also, your charge of individualism is making you into more and more of a one trick pony and it’s sad. I subscribe to the Westminster Standards which were drafted in a catholic manner by the multitude assembled at Westminster, it was meant to comport with earlier Reformed confessional standards, and has been confessed by Christians for nearly 400 years, not to mention 500,000+ in the US alone. Besides, while my opinions regarding the fallacies proported by Rome are my own, they are hardly unique, and have been reiterated over and over again since the advent of the Reformation – again if your only argument is weak accusations of “individualism”, they are not convincing. It is also somewhat ironic that Protestant’s must endure the charges of individualism when Rome itself accords so much power to one individual, and on such flimsy bases – given the content and context of the discussions here and over at GB.

    BTW, you can continue to assert that this discussion is done “in the Peace of Christ”, I don’t seek to persuade you to stop. But it is fairly brazen – especially when you target Protestants to make the move to Rome. I realize and respect that you are following your conscience when doing so, but the cost of convictions on these matters make enemies out of men – and Christ came not only to bring peace, but also the sword. So long as you continue to propagate a faith that runs contrary to the Confession that I hold and has been held by so many before me and to now, there can hardly be peace between us.

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  44. Hi Jack,

    You wrote;

    I hold to justification by faith alone as inseparable from the true Gospel and thus salvation. I was raised as a Christian in the Lutheran Church and after some meanderings, via house-church and Anglican, I am securely ensconced in the OPC. Am I accursed (Trent) for holding the above doctrine? Or am I accepted as a brother (Vatican II)? Your explanation avoids answering this straight forward question.

    In seminary (at RTS) my Church History Professor, Dr. Frank James III,
    said in a lecture that Augustine would have been horrified by Luther’s
    doctrine of forensic justification (faith alone). Would you say that
    St. Augustine did not believe the gospel? St. Augustine has
    a view of grace every bit as powerful as Luther, but it did not entail
    forensic justification.

    Where does Trent say you are “accursed”? Protestants have commonly understand the term “anathema” (which is what I believe you a referring to) in a way that ignores what the Catholic Church actually teaches about the term. In an article over at Catholic Answers Jimmy Akin clears up some misunderstandings about the term. He writes;

    1. An anathema sentenced a person to hell. This is not the case. Sentencing someone to hell is a power that is God’s alone, and the Church cannot exercise it.

    2. An anathema was a sure sign that a person would go to hell. Again, not true. Anathemas were only warranted by very grave sins, but there was no reason why the offender could not repent, and those who repent aren’t damned.

    3. An anathema was a sure sign that a person was not in a state of grace. This is not true for two reasons: (a) The person may have repented since the time the anathema was issued, and (b) the person may not have been in a state of mortal sin at the time the anathema was issued.

    Anathemas—like penalties imposed under civil law—rest on the judgment of the court, which must make its decision based on the evidence presented. It cannot directly examine the conscience of the individual in question. Thus, while anathemas were imposed on account of gravely sinful behavior, this was not a guarantee that it was mortally sinful. For a grave sin to become mortal, it must be performed with the requisite knowledge and consent, and while an offender might have given every appearance of these conditions, they might not be there in reality—e.g., through a hidden cognitive or volitional impediment.

    4. Anathemas were meant to harm the offender. No. Anathemas were simply a major excommunication performed with a special papal ceremony, and, like all excommunications, their intent was medicinal, not punitive. The goal was to protect the Christian community from the spread of evil doctrines or behaviors and to prompt the individual to recognize the nature of his actions. While being deprived of the fellowship of the Church is not pleasant, this does not change the fact that the fundamental orientation of excommunications and anathemas is medicinal, not punitive.

    5. Anathemas took effect automatically. While the Church does have penalties that take effect automatically (latae sententiae), the penalty of anathema was not one of them.

    This should be obvious from the fact that a special pontifical ceremony had to be performed as part of the anathema. Obviously, the mere fact that someone utters a heresy in some part of the world does not cause the pope to suddenly stop what he is doing and perform a specific ritual concerning this person.

    The anathemas of Trent and other councils were like most penalties of civil law, which only take effect through the judicial process. If the civil law prescribes imprisonment for a particular offense, those who commit it do not suddenly appear in jail. Likewise, when ecclesiastical law prescribed an anathema for a particular offense, those who committed it had to wait until the judicial process was complete before the anathema took effect.

    6. Anathemas applied to all Protestants. The absurdity of this charge is obvious from the fact that anathemas did not take effect automatically. The limited number of hours in the day by itself would guarantee that only a handful of Protestants ever could have been anathematized. In practice the penalty tended to be applied only to notorious Catholic offenders who made a pretense of staying within the Catholic community.

    7. Anathemas are still in place today. This is the single most common falsehood one encounters regarding anathemas in the writings of anti-Catholics. They aren’t in place today. The penalty was employed so infrequently over the course of history that it is doubtful that anyone under an anathema was alive when the new Code of Canon Law came out in 1983, when even the penalty itself was abolished.

    8. The Church cannot retract its anathemas. Anti-Catholics love to repeat this falsehood for rhetorical flourish. But again, it isn’t true. The Church is free to abolish any penalty of ecclesiastical law it wants to, and it did abolish this one.

    Since your question is fundamentally flawed (See Akin’s first point…”Sentencing someone to hell is a power that is God’s alone, and the Church cannot exercise it” I am unable to answer it.

    Both Trent and Vatican II call those outside the Catholic Church towards unity in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church established by Christ. I am not ducking your question, I’m just not God and therefore I cannot answer questions about whether a person is accursed or not.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  45. J.T.,

    Why not quote the Pope rather than a fallible RTS professor? Your RTS professor’s statement is his opinion. Yet you present it as a fact, assign me the position of answering him (an over-used CtC tactic) and then ask the absurd question, did Augustine not believe the gospel? Since the doctrine of forensic justification had not yet been undermined, as it was in the latter medieval period, one wouldn’t expect full-throated discourses on the doctrine by the ECF. But it is hardly evident that Augustine held a view foreign to Luther’s, as the following words of Augustine show:

     Augustine (354-430): “Having now to the best of my ability, and as I think sufficiently, replied to the reasonings of this author, if I be asked what is my own opinion in this matter, I answer, after carefully pondering the question, that in the Gospels and Epistles, and the entire collection of books for our instruction called the New Testament, I see that fasting is enjoined. But I do not discover any rule definitely laid down by the Lord or by the apostles as to days on which we ought or ought not to fast. And by this I am persuaded that exemption from fasting on the seventh day is more suitable, not indeed to obtain, but to foreshadow, that eternal rest in which the true Sabbath is realized, and which is obtained only by faith, and by that righteousness whereby the daughter of the King is all glorious within.” NPNF1: Vol. 1, Letter 36, 25.
    Augustine (354-430): “Not so our father Abraham. This passage of scripture is meant to draw our attention to the difference. We confess that the holy patriarch was pleasing to God; this is what our faith affirms about him. So true is it that we can declare and be certain that he did have grounds for pride before God, and this is what the apostle tells us. It is quite certain, he says, and we know it for sure, that Abraham has grounds for pride before God. But if he had been justified by works, he would have had grounds for pride, but not before God. However, since we know he does have grounds for pride before God, it follows that he was not justified on the basis of works. So if Abraham was not justified by works, how was he justified?” The apostle goes on to tell us how: What does scripture say? (that is, about how Abraham was justified). Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:3; Gen. 15:6). Abraham, then, was justified by faith. Paul and James do not contradict each other: good works follow justification
    3. Now when you hear this statement, that justification comes not from works, but by faith, remember the abyss of which I spoke earlier. You see that Abraham was justified not by what he did, but by his faith: all right then, so I can do whatever I like, because even though I have no good works to show, but simply believe in God, that is reckoned to me as righteousness? Anyone who has said this and has decided on it as a policy has already fallen in and sunk; anyone who is still considering it and hesitating is in mortal danger. But God’s scripture, truly understood, not only safeguards an endangered person, but even hauls up a drowned one from the deep.  My advice is, on the face of it, a contradiction of what the apostle says; what I have to say about Abraham is what we find in the letter of another apostle, who set out to correct people who had misunderstood Paul. James in his letter opposed those who would not act rightly but relied on faith alone; and so he reminded them of the good works of this same Abraham whose faith was commended by Paul. The two apostles are not contradicting each other. James dwells on an action performed by Abraham that we all know about: he offered his son to God as a sacrifice. That is a great work, but it proceeded from faith. I have nothing but praise for the superstructure of action, but I see the foundation of faith; I admire the good work as a fruit, but I recognize that it springs from the root of faith. If Abraham had done it without right faith it would have profited him nothing, however noble the work was. On the other hand, if Abraham had been so complacent in his faith that, on hearing God’s command to offer his son as a sacrificial victim, he had said to himself, “No, I won’t. But I believe that God will set me free, even if I ignore his orders,” his faith would have been a dead faith because it did not issue in right action, and it would have remained a barren, dried-up root that never produced fruit.”   John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Part 3, Vol. 15, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms 1-32, Exposition 2 of Psalm 31, 2-4 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2000), pp. 364-365.
    Augustine (354-430): “But what about the person who does no work (Rom 4:5)? Think here of some godless sinner, who has no good works to show. What of him or her? What if such a person comes to believe in God who justifies the impious? People like that are impious because they accomplish nothing good; they may seem to do good things, but their actions cannot truly be called good, because performed without faith. But when someone believes in him who justifies the impious, that faith is reckoned as justice to the believer, as David too declares that person blessed whom God has accepted and endowed with righteousness, independently of any righteous actions (Rom 4:5-6). What righteousness is this? The righteousness of faith, preceded by no good works, but with good works as its consequence.” John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Part 1, Vol. 11, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms 1-32, Exposition 2 of Psalm 31, ¡±7 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2000), p. 370.

    As to accursed visa-vis anathema… You argue a point that is a diversion. Is Akin the voice of Rome? A doctrine is either heresy or not. A judgment on those who hold that heresy is either true or not. This is the problem with the whole “infallibility” deal with the Papacy. It really is all about development… massaging the historical record to continue the myth.

    Apologies for the length of this comment, but it is in keeping with the CtC way…

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  46. Terry, here’s a piece of advice: if you want to claim continuity for neo-Cal’s, lose the prefix. I mean, I’ve heard of neo-orthodox. But neo-Roman Catholic?

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  47. Terry, or maybe there really isn’t anything new under the sun and “paleo” is just a way to say “not neo.”

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  48. Bryan, the point wasn’t about the glorification of saints in heaven but the infallibility of saints on earth–you know, where we all actually live. Your response circumvents the point that the latter is an astounding (incredible!) claim. To boot, it still leaves little difference between Roman claims of the Magisterium and Pentecostal claims about continuing revelation in latter day apostles.

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  49. Both Trent and Vatican II call those outside the Catholic Church towards unity in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church established by Christ.

    But, Jeremy, V2 says “…the Catholic Church embraces us as brothers, with respect and affection…that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.” So, if we’re not outside the church but snuggled up inside, I still don’t know why we’re being called to communion.

    But the irony is how Protestantism has a higher view of the church, as in WCF 25.2: “The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ,the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” The first mark of said church is sola fide. Those who deny sola fide are outside the visible church and so remain in eternal peril. It would seem that on Rome’s view Protestants have nothing to lose by not heeding Rome’s call to communion, but on Westminster’s view the stakes are higher for those who stay in her.

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  50. Jack,

    I quote an RTS Professor to make the point that honest historians within Protestantism are willing to admit that a great disparity exists between Luther and St. Augustine’s teaching on justification.

    The problem with the idea that Luther was in keeping with Augustine is that Luther himself said that he was moving away from Augustine and the Church Fathers on the question of Justification. Listen to what he says in his sermon on the gospel of John;

    No one believes what a great obstacle this is and how deeply it offends a person to teach and believe something contrary to the fathers. I, too, have often had this experience. Again, it is an offense to see that so many fine, sensible, learned people, nay, the better and greater part of the world, have held and taught this and that; likewise, so many holy people, as St. Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine. Nevertheless the one Man, my dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, must certainly mean more to me than all the holiest people on earth, nay, more even than all the angels of heaven if they teach otherwise than the Gospel teaches or if they add anything to, or detract anything from, the teaching of the divine Word. When I read the books of St. Augustine and find that he, too, did this and that, it truly disconcerts me very much.

    So was Luther mistaken in believing that he was moving away from Augustine and the Fathers?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  51. J. T.-

    So was Luther mistaken in believing that he was moving away from Augustine and the Fathers?

    Quite possibly. Interestingly, you don’t interact with Augustine’s words concerning justification visa-vis the Reformational teaching on the same. What if we substitute Luther for Calvin or Cramner?

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  52. Jack,

    We began this conversation when you wrote

    I hold to justification by faith alone as inseparable from the true Gospel and thus salvation.

    Then I quote to you Luther talking about “the gospel” and you say that this is not a quote about justification. I’m not following, in your earlier comment you said the true gospel and justification by faith alone are inseparable.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  53. J.T.-

    No, you bring up Luther not talking about the gospel, but how Augustine would have been horrified by Luther’s teaching on justification by faith alone. And then a quote on how Luther would not be inlfuenced by what he understood Augustine’s teaching to be on the gospel. You ask the “absurd” question as to whether Augustine believed the gospel or not. Diversion. But I answer your absurdity with Augustine’s words which you ignore. You then claim you are just responding to me. Please…

    Still waiting to hear how Augustine would be horrified in light of his own words…

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  54. Jed,

    I originally wrote:

    just because Judaizing was a problem in some *particular Churches,* it does not follow that God did not promise to protect the universal Church from doctrinal error.

    You replied:

    But this totally ignores the fact that particular churches are part of the universal body of Christ, and catholicity demands that where one aspect of the body is affected, the whole is as well.

    Then I replied:

    That would entail either that Christ is not the Head of the Body, or that when one member sins, Christ sins. Which horn of that dilemma do you wish to take?

    To which you replied:

    I have no idea where you are actually going with this, either Christ can rule his church or he can’t, and to equate the church with Christ is to push the “body of Christ” imagery in Scripture beyond it’s intended limits.

    Here’s the point. Just because persons in the Church can sin and fall away, and just because *particular Churches* [e.g. the Church in Antioch, the Church in Corinth, etc.] can fall into heresy or apostasy, it does not follow that the universal Church (to which these individuals and particular Churches belong) can fall into heresy or apostasy. You seemed to think that if particular Churches can fall into heresy, then the universal Church must be able to fall into heresy, because particular Churches are “part of the universal body of Christ.” But, as I pointed out, although Christ is a member of the Body — He is the Head — just because a member can sin, it does not follow that Christ can sin. Likewise, just because members of the Church can sin, it does not follow that every member of the Church must be able to sin. For the same reason, just because individuals and particular Churches can fall into heresy or apostasy, it does not follow that the universal Church must be able to fall into heresy or apostasy. Similarly, and for the same reason, just because individuals and particular Churches can fall into heresy or apostasy, it does not follow that the Magisterium of the universal Church can fall into heresy or apostasy. Hence the dogma of infallibility is not refuted by pointing to the fact of individuals and particular Churches that have fallen into heresy or apostasy.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  55. Jeremy T., is your point that the pope is infallible or is it that the early church fathers are the norm? If I find an example of a pope disagreeing with Origen, does your house of certainty crumble?

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  56. Bryan, have you ever considered that your argument runs parallel to hard core leftists? Just because Stalinism didn’t work out so well, Marxism is still golden.

    In other words, nothing can challenge your argument, not because God is so great or because the pope is so infallible, but because YOU have defined the terms and make the qualifications.

    I mean, shouldn’t you really be offering explanations from the pope or the magisterium instead of your own? Why should anyone, including the CTC crowd, believe you? Or does belief in papal infallibility make you infallible?

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  57. Bryan, by unbelievable I repeat what I said — is it conceivable that a human being is infallible? I can certainly understand why the creator of the universe would be infallible. But to attribute that to fallen human beings is as I say unb. If you believe it, all I can do is marvel.

    As for infalliblity in heaven, why would there be a need? As I understand it, infallibility extends to teaching, not to conduct (as in impeccability). Why would the saints and angels need to teach anything? Does everyone get the charism in glory?

    For what it’s worth, Protestants and RC’s both believe in infallibility. RC’s stress infallibility outside the canon of Scripture. Protestants stress the infallibility of Scripture. What is credible is that God revealed himself perfectly but human beings might have difficulties interpreting it. What is not credible is that many human beings interpreting Scripture and speculating on the saints and angels would come to a coherent body of truth and do so infallibly.

    Come back to Protestantism, Bryan. We trust in God.

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  58. D.G.

    In other words, nothing can challenge your argument, not because God is so great or because the pope is so infallible, but because YOU have defined the terms and make the qualifications.

    No, the Church has done that. You can find most of what I’m saying in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I’m merely a man under authority.

    I mean, shouldn’t you really be offering explanations from the pope or the magisterium instead of your own?

    Like I said, most of what I’m saying is right out of the CCC, or other magisterial documents. If you knew the CCC, you would already know the answers to most of the questions you’re asking me. And in my opinion, to be a Protestant, one should at least know what one is protesting.

    Why should anyone, including the CTC crowd, believe you? Or does belief in papal infallibility make you infallible?

    If you thought I was infallible, you wouldn’t be disagreeing with me, unless you despise truth. So either you despise truth, or you don’t think I’m infallible, in which case your question is merely rhetorical.

    Bryan, by unbelievable I repeat what I said — is it conceivable that a human being is infallible? I can certainly understand why the creator of the universe would be infallible. But to attribute that to fallen human beings is as I say unb. If you believe it, all I can do is marvel.

    This is like talking to Bultmann about miracles. He has no argument against them, but just can’t believe them; instead, he simply marvels at those who do believe them. My response to you is exactly what I would say to Bultmann: there is a God, and He isn’t merely tucked away in a closet of the universe somewhere. He gives supernatural gifts to men, and to His Body, the Church. He gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter, whose bones are under the altar in St. Peter’s Basilica, and whose 266th successor now sits on Peter’s chair, and holds those keys. We’re not ecclesial deists. Christ has promised that He will never leave or forsake His Church (Heb. 13:5). The union of God and man in the incarnation continues, even now, not just in heaven, but in the Church, which is His Body. That union is such that not only does persecuting her members mean persecuting Christ Himself (Acts 9:4), but her life is His supernatural life; by His gifts we are partakers of the divine nature, as Peter put it (2 Pet. 1:4). You would believe that Moses led the people out of Egypt, through many amazing signs and miracles, but find it impossible to believe that Christ the Good Shepherd through His Vicar on earth leads and guides His Church away from heresy? Christ is greater than Moses, and the New Covenant greater than the Old! This is God we are talking about; you should be prepared to believe incredible things, if you truly believe that God became man.

    As for infalliblity in heaven, why would there be a need? As I understand it, infallibility extends to teaching, not to conduct (as in impeccability). Why would the saints and angels need to teach anything?

    The charism of infallibility enjoyed by the magisterium here on earth is limited to teaching, but in heaven the infallibility enjoyed by all the saints (and the angels) extends to all thoughts and words and deeds; all are divinely protected from heresy, and apostasy. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have perfect happiness, because they wouldn’t have the perfect peace of knowing that they can never lose communion with God.

    For what it’s worth, Protestants and RC’s both believe in infallibility. RC’s stress infallibility outside the canon of Scripture. Protestants stress the infallibility of Scripture. What is credible is that God revealed himself perfectly but human beings might have difficulties interpreting it. What is not credible is that many human beings interpreting Scripture and speculating on the saints and angels would come to a coherent body of truth and do so infallibly.

    If it were just “many human beings,” with no “charism of truth,” as St. Irenaeus put it, sure. But if Christ made a promise to His Church, that He would give her the Spirit of truth, and guide her into all truth, then believing that she has been and is being protected from heresy is the most rational thing in the world to believe, given that Christ is God, and the Church is His Body, of which He is the Head.

    Come back to Protestantism, Bryan. We trust in God.

    I know you mean well Darryl, but I’ve discovered the pearl of great price, the Church Christ founded, and the treasure of truth within it. If you really trust God, then trust that He is guiding His holy Catholic Church, the one Protestants left in the sixteenth century, and come back to her. As Carl Trueman said to his fellow Protestants:

    [W]e need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic; not being a Catholic should, in others words, be a positive act of will and commitment, something we need to get out of bed determined to do each and every day.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  59. You know aside from all the ‘special pleading’ that’s required philosophically for the CTC crowd to pull off what they are trying to pull off, there’s a more basic maybe psychological ‘itch’ that they are scratching. By positing an visible, infallible magisterium and claiming that that in fact exists what they’ve done is bypass faith in Jesus and given the christian a way to walk by sight. Obviously, they will say Nuh-uh, but that’s in fact what occurs, orthopraxy. It’s also the appeal to sacraments, ornamentation, pageantry, a mass every day on the hour, all the way down to last rites with priests on the battlefield or at the hospital bed as someone dies. Now some of that is very comforting and pastoral and admirable, and I respect them for it, there’s more than a few protestant pastors who could take a lesson from this sort of familial engagement I grew up with and around. However, there is a point at which one’s faith really does slip into; ‘I believe what the church believes’. One, because Rome positions itself as that sort of unassailable authority and two; the ‘deposit’ is so large and says so many different things all classified with varying levels of adherence and qualification attached to it, that almost all RCer’s faith melts down into sacerdotalism, which of course Rome is structured and organized to provide. Anyway, it’s a bit of an aside, and I’m sure to a degree the proto-catholics have carved out their own communions to better reflect their ‘Word’ based predisposition. But, Rome really still is that Mass and that purposefully.

    Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

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  60. Jack,

    Tell me if I correctly understand what you’re saying. – In light of everything Augustine wrote you think he would have agreed that man is ultimately saved apart from love (agape) for God, which is the chief reason Rome objects to justification by faith alone. In fact, Pope Benedict said he affirms Luther’s JBFA if it is not to the exlusion of love for God.

    I think we agree that Augustine articulated with great clarity the graciousness of God in salvation. It sounds like we both agree he believed the gospel (as you call the question I raise absurd). So did Augustine then believe a different gospel then Aquinas, who was the cheif influence on the doctrine of justification at Trent? It is impossible for Reformed people to insist that Trent condemned the gospel on the one hand and then affirm that Augustine and Aquinas believed the gospel on the other. Somewhere the chain has to break down.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  61. Jeremy Tate: Tell me if I correctly understand what you’re saying. – In light of everything Augustine wrote you think he would have agreed that man is ultimately saved apart from love (agape) for God, which is the chief reason Rome objects to justification by faith alone. In fact, Pope Benedict said he affirms Luther’s JBFA if it is not to the exlusion of love for God.

    RS: Augustine would have not have said that man is saved apart from agape for God, but neither would Luther or Calvin. The problem is where you place love in the process. The justification that the Bible speaks of is when sinners are declared just by God based on Jesus Christ alone. Christ has suffered what they deserved (propitiation) and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the sinner. The soul that has true faith is a soul that is united to Christ and is one with Him. One is saved in order to love to the glory of God, but their love does not add to their justification because that was already completed in Christ. The grace of God is such that it saves sinners based on who God is and what Christ has done rather than anything that the sinner does. The grace of God saves to the praise of the glory of His grace as the motive and does not need anything in the sinner or apart from the sinner to act. In fact, the only thing in the sinner is sin which is not a motive to save the sinner, but what the sinner needs to be saved from. Your addition of love to the Gospel is actually an enormous addition which in fact is such a subtraction from grace alone that it denigrates the completed work of Christ. It is adding a work to grace which makes grace no longer to be grace.

    Jeremy T: I think we agree that Augustine articulated with great clarity the graciousness of God in salvation. It sounds like we both agree he believed the gospel (as you call the question I raise absurd). So did Augustine then believe a different gospel then Aquinas, who was the cheif influence on the doctrine of justification at Trent? It is impossible for Reformed people to insist that Trent condemned the gospel on the one hand and then affirm that Augustine and Aquinas believed the gospel on the other. Somewhere the chain has to break down.

    RS: It is not impossible to insist that Trent did not understand true grace and so did not understand either Augustine or Aquinas. The chain breaks at the point of the writers of Trent who wanted to preserve the power of Rome. However, the issue is what Jesus and His apostles wrote in the Scriptures.

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  62. Bryan, I do have good reasons for not being RC. My only comfort in life and death is that I belong to my faithful savior Jesus Christ. I don’t need his church to be infallible to know that he is faithful. And you’re in denial to think that your church is faithful. Here’s something that New Advent posted:

    But wait a minute, doesn’t everyone want to go to heaven? Yes, but it often a heaven as they define it, not the real heaven. Many people’s understanding of heaven is a very egocentric thing where they will be happy on their terms, where what pleases merely them will be available in abundance. But the real heaven is the Kingdom of God in all its fullness. Truth be told, while everyone wants to go to a heaven as they define it, NOT everyone wants to live in the Kingdom of God in all its fullness. Consider some of the following examples:

    The Kingdom of God is about mercy and forgiveness. But not everyone wants to show mercy or forgive. Some prefer revenge. Some prefer severe justice. Some prefer to cling to their anger and nurse resentments or bigotry. Further, not everyone want to receive mercy and forgiveness. They cannot possibly fathom why anyone would need to forgive them since they are rightand the other person or nation is wrong.

    Now you’ll say not everyone in the church has the correct doctrine, only the pope. But your reason for going to Rome is an infallibility that eliminates the problems of Protestant incoherence and opinions. So again you have infallibility and the same problem that Protestants have — great misunderstandings and misconduct in Rome. So your account of the faith only works in the ivory tower of CTC.

    Also, if everything you say comes from the Catechism (which catechism) why not just quote the catechism rather than link to your posts. I’m betting the catechism is shorter.

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  63. Richard Smith,

    You write;

    Your addition of love to the Gospel is actually an enormous addition which in fact is such a subtraction from grace alone that it denigrates the completed work of Christ. It is adding a work to grace which makes grace no longer to be grace.

    Catholicism makes a distinction between justification and an increase in justification. Love for God (nor anything else of course) is required in initial justification. Once brought into state of grace, however, we are then called to abide in Christ (John 15) which entails agape for God. This is not adding to the gospel. John 15 is part of the gospel.

    One of the problems we’re bumping into here is that you hold to the Calvinist idea of once saved always saved (never before articulated before Calvin’s Institute’s). This makes it impossible to take seriously passages like John 15 where a continual relationship with Christ is necessary for salvation.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  64. Jeremy Tate:
    Catholicism makes a distinction between justification and an increase in justification.

    RS: True, but how can one increase what Christ has already accomplished? That demonstrates that you are not relying on what Christ has already accomplished, that is, the perfect righteousness He has earned and then imputed to those He is united with.

    Jeremy T: Love for God (nor anything else of course) is required in initial justification.

    RS: But Christ loved God perfectly and so a perfect love is required in order to be declared just at all. It would appear that you are insisting that God accepts less than perfect love.

    Jeremy T: Once brought into state of grace, however, we are then called to abide in Christ (John 15) which entails agape for God. This is not adding to the gospel. John 15 is part of the gospel.

    RS: Once again, as you clearly say, our abiding is necessary for our justification. That shows that you believe in justification by works of some kind and in some way.

    Jeremy T: One of the problems we’re bumping into here is that you hold to the Calvinist idea of once saved always saved (never before articulated before Calvin’s Institute’s). This makes it impossible to take seriously passages like John 15 where a continual relationship with Christ is necessary for salvation.

    RS: The doctrine of Calvinism is not once saved always saved, but that God will graciously work perseverance in those He declares just on the basis of the finished work of Christ. Perseverance is best expressed by God perseveringly working perseverance in His people by grace. Those who have eternal life dwelling in them will indeed want to do good works, but as John 15 tells us we can do nothing (good or spiritual) apart from Him. Since the good we do comes from Him, why would it add to our justification and our credit?

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  65. D.G.

    My only comfort in life and death is that I belong to my faithful savior Jesus Christ. I don’t need his church to be infallible to know that he is faithful.

    Your quotation is not even in Scripture, but comes from a document authored by men who were not validly ordained, and had no authority to speak for the Church, and yet you [seemingly] trust that document as if it is infallible, while claiming that you don’t need the Church to be infallible. The question, however, is not what you think you need (or what I think I need). The question is what Christ did, when He set up His Church.

    As for the quotation from the New Advent article, I have no idea what your point is in quoting it. You seem to think that it indicates that the Catholic Church is not faithful. But you don’t explain where or how you think it indicates such a thing.

    But your reason for going to Rome is an infallibility that eliminates the problems of Protestant incoherence and opinions.

    No, my reason for becoming Catholic was discovering that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded. If the Catholic Church were not the Church Christ founded, then it wouldn’t have this charism of infallibility, and in that case its claim to infallibility would be false, as would any supposed unitive benefit procured by its alleged ‘infallibility.’

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  66. Bryan Cross: No, my reason for becoming Catholic was discovering that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded. If the Catholic Church were not the Church Christ founded, then it wouldn’t have this charism of infallibility, and in that case its claim to infallibility would be false, as would any supposed unitive benefit procured by its alleged ‘infallibility.’

    RS: So you became Catholic simply by thinking you discovered that it was the Church Christ founded? Even if we assumed that was true, any unregenerate and natural man could come to that conclusion. There is nothing spiritual about that conclusion. So once a person comes to the conclusion that Roman Catholicism is the Church Christ founded (but I thought it would be Jerusalem Catholicism to be accurate), one must assume that the present Roman Catholicism is the same and taught the same. But again, a natural man could believe that. But what the natural man cannot accept is the things of the Spirit of God. For example, it is the Spirit of God who must regenerate dead souls and He does that as He pleases and not as the parents of the priests please. It is a sovereign and spiritual work that only the spiritual man can understand much of. Your view of Church is far too natural.

    I Cor 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
    13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
    14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
    15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
    16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

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  67. Bryan, my point in quoting the article is that it takes forgiveness and mercy as not something we find in Christ but virtues that believers must embody. So instead of looking to Christ for mercy, this person looks at forgiveness as a virtue. The more important point is that the charism of infallibility has not prevented error in Roman Catholicism.

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  68. D.G.

    You wrote:

    Bryan, my point in quoting the article is that it takes forgiveness and mercy as not something we find in Christ but virtues that believers must embody. So instead of looking to Christ for mercy, this person looks at forgiveness as a virtue. The more important point is that the charism of infallibility has not prevented error in Roman Catholicism.

    Monsignor Pope (the author of the article) is not at all claiming that forgiveness and mercy are not found in Christ, nor does he make such a claim in his article. He is saying in the paragraph in question that (a) unless we forgive others, we will not be forgiven by God, and (b) that unless we humble ourselves before God and become like children so as to receive mercy and forgiveness from Him, we cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven. And of course Jesus Himself said those very things.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  69. Richard,

    You write;

    RS: Once again, as you clearly say, our abiding is necessary for our justification. That shows that you believe in justification by works of some kind and in some way.

    Jesus is very clear

    If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:5-11 ESV)

    If you wil not hear Scripture you will certainly not hear me. Let’s end this discussion for now.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Like

  70. Bryan wrote:
    (a) unless we forgive others, we will not be forgiven by God, and (b) that unless we humble ourselves before God and become like children so as to receive mercy and forgiveness from Him, we cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven.

    Me:
    And just who can pull that off perfectly (hint, not you and not me)? For if not always perfectly performed, then Scripture presents us with a real problem. And there are no mention of mulligans ala the purgatory scheme in Scripture.

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

    Me:
    It seems, in your system, we need a Savior and then, once initially forgiven, we are handed off to the RCC as our life coach and trainer in order, moment by necessary moment, to make us worthy of salvation (eradicate sin from every square inch of our being). Only there will never be enough moments and the RCC cannot cleanse one from sin nor make one righteous.

    I think those who hold to the RCC system have too low a view of sin, too high a view of their own righteousness, too low a view of the Law and the holiness of God.

    Like

  71. Jeremy Tate: Richard, You write; “Once again, as you clearly say, our abiding is necessary for our justification. That shows that you believe in justification by works of some kind and in some way”

    Jeremy T: Jesus is very clear
    If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:5-11 ESV)

    If you wil not hear Scripture you will certainly not hear me. Let’s end this discussion for now.

    RS: Jeremy, I hear Scripture and I hear you. They are two voices that contradict each other. Indeed a person must abide in Christ, but Christ must also abide in that person for that person to abide in him. The text also does not say that a person must abide in Christ so that a person may contribute to his justification or what the person is doing will contribute to his justification. In fact, what you are writing denies the possibility of true love. Only a person can truly love because only then can a person be free of working for salvation and so work out of true love. So I do hear the words of Scripture, but I read you only hear Scripture as mediated and interpreted for you by a system of works. In the name of justification with love you are denying any possiblity of love for God. Be careful of what you are doing and pray for the Spirit to give you understanding.

    Like

  72. Richard,

    Indeed a person must abide in Christ, but Christ must also abide in that person for that person to abide in him.

    Exactly

    That’s why we do NOTHING to get justified (into a state of grace) Once justified, however, we “MUST” (as you say) abide in Christ. Well said.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Like

  73. Jeremy Tate quoting RS: Indeed a person must abide in Christ, but Christ must also abide in that person for that person to abide in him.

    Jeremy T: Exactly That’s why we do NOTHING to get justified (into a state of grace) Once justified, however, we “MUST” (as you say) abide in Christ. Well said.

    RS: Something tells me that we are still not speaking on the same lines. For example, a person that has truly been declared just on the basis of the propitiatiory work of Christ fully satisfied the wrath of the Father (so no purgatory needed) and on the basis of His imputed righteousness can abide in Christ in love. But a person that has not been declared just as stated in the previous sentence, that person cannot abide in Christ in love. That person is abiding for other reasons. As long as the kind of justification and Purgatory you speak of is future, you cannot truly abide in Christ in love. We must abide, but it is by the grace of Christ and the power of indwelling love that we do.

    Like

  74. Richard,

    Again, you are saying a great deal that if fully compatable with Catholic theology.

    We must abide, but it is by the grace of Christ and the power of indwelling love that we do.

    Again, exactly. This sounds Catholic enough to me.

    If we do nothing to get justified (initial justificatin) then why would we abide in Christ for any reason other than love for God? Look at 1996 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church;

    1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Like

  75. Zrim,

    You wrote;

    Jeremy, preservation is just as much by God’s grace alone as is justification.

    This is EXACTLY what the Catholic Church teaches!!! Look at 1992 in the Catholic Catechism;

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

    How does he make us just? “…by the power of his mercy.” We are sanctified and preserved by God’s grace alone. Our ability to “abide” in Christ comes from the grace of God at work within us. Yet, we are not passive as the Reformed insist. Because the grace of God is EFFECTIVE GRACE, it changes our will so we willingly abide in Him as true sons and daughters.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Like

  76. Jeremy, I don’t want to rehearse the substance of Protestant-Catholic differences on grace and faith in relation to justification, sanctification, and preservation. But in this latest remark of yours, coupled with your citing of VII and the rather clear language that we Prots are brothers who are actually members of the RCC, maybe you’re ready now to respond my hitherto unanswered question: if we’re really on the same page and brethren then why are we being called to communion? That makes no sense. But admitting to the differences and calling us to repentance would.

    Like

  77. Zrim,

    There are major differences for sure. One difference, however, is not that Reformed theology holds to a more robust view of God’s grace than Catholic theology. We are saved by grace alone. I trust that my Reformed friends believe this. It would be a step towards unity to trust that the Catholic Church means it as well. It is dogmatically taught. Salvation is a gift.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Like

  78. Someone has got to take a hard stand againt Catholic deception and grace cloaked in self-righteousness. Someone as smart and yet subtlely and deceptively deceived as Jason Stellman has been, well, it is just mind-boggling that it happened. It all has to do with who is elect and who is not elect. Do we trust in Christ’s imputed righteosness or not?

    Like

  79. Jeremy, but a repeal of Trent’s anathema of sola fide would do wonders to prove a robust view of salvation as a gift. Until then, when your church says that one is only as justified as he is sanctified it sounds an awful lot like my former semi-Pelagian Bible church pastor who said of grace, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.”

    Like

  80. John,

    I’d be happy to argue from Scripture alone that my views about the gospel are true. In fact, I plan to do that a lot in the future. But for you to show I’m “deceived” you’ll need to do more than just state it.

    Like

  81. JJS: I’d be happy to argue from Scripture alone that my views about the gospel are true. In fact, I plan to do that a lot in the future. But for you to show I’m “deceived” you’ll need to do more than just state it.

    RS: But only the Holy Spirit can give true illumination as opposed to tradition and rites. It is not just a battle of intellects, it is a spiritual battle.

    Like

  82. Great, more proto-catholic invention. I think I’ll pass. You proto-catholics let me know when you are 20 years in.

    Like

  83. Bryan, JJS and Bizarro Jeremy,

    99% of what I’m reading is both sides either asserting that which is disputed or misrepresenting one’s opponent. Besides sheep-stealing, what do y’all see as the essence of the disagreement?

    Also, I would submit that Protestants perpetually enjoy the same level of certainty as Catholic apologists prior to their vindication by council or Magisterium. Of what did their certainty consist prior to infallible settlement of the dispute? After the infallible settlements, does their confidence change from that which arises from reflection and argument to that which arises from faith in the Magisterium’s charism of infallibility?

    In the hope that DGH realizes I’m Presbyterian,
    Jeremy McLellan

    Like

  84. Please JJS,

    You haven’t even been received into communion and you’re gonna start telling us what Rome is. Trust me, I know more about Rome than you do. There’s that hipster, soul-patch, beatnik arrogance.

    Like

  85. Who said anything about Rome? John called me “deceived” about the gospel without even having heard any argument from Scripture about it from me, so I offered to explain myself.

    PS – Guess how many hipsters like me it takes to screw in a light bulb? On second thought, never mind. It’s a pretty obscure number, I doubt you’ve heard of it.

    Like

  86. Jason,

    There’s that open-mindedness you’re all so famous for!

    I don’t know what’s going on for you. But, there are any number of slights, condescensions, and outright misrepresentations toward Protestantism that have been offered up by the RCC brethren in the discussions on this blog and GB. I’ve yet to read of your objection to those. You keep noting the sins of your former Reformed brethren while over-looking that of your new RC friends. I’m not trying to by mean or harsh, but it comes across as a bit of whining. What is going on?

    These discussions involve serious topics… life and death subjects, one must say. That frustration breaks out in an inappropriate remark every now and then is a surprise? Apparently, so much so, that you take an off-remark, here and there, and use it to color all of the Reformed in a negative light? The pot and the kettle come to mind. Just wondering why…

    best regards…

    Like

  87. Ok Jason,

    You’re looking to be received into Rome, but you’re gonna make argument for your own journey apart from that reception and confirmation. I apologize.

    Like

  88. Zrim,

    Jeremy, but a repeal of Trent’s anathema of sola fide would do wonders to prove a robust view of salvation as a gift. Until then, when your church says that one is only as justified as he is sanctified it sounds an awful lot like my former semi-Pelagian Bible church pastor who said of grace, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.”

    How much have you read of Trent? Have you read all 25 sessions? Have you read the 6th session on Justification? Have you only read the Anathema’s? Like any other body of writing, context is key, you can’t just read the Anathema’s and assume you have understood Trent. Trent is not your semi-Pelagian Bible church pastor. The Catholic Church condemns semi-pelagianism. See here

    Protestants get their own identity by relation to the Catholic Church. She is the one you are protesting. This reality is inescapable. She preached salvation by grace alone for 1500 years before the Protestant experiment began and will continue to preach grace until our Lord returns. If you want to talk imputation that is one thing, but salvation by grace alone is fully Catholic.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Like

  89. Watching Reformed guys debate Roman Catholic guys reminds me of this conversation:

    Dr.: Where do you
    know Alan from?

    Fletch: We play tennis
    at the club.

    Dr.: California Racquet Club?

    Fletch: – Right.

    Dr.: – That’s my club too.
    I don’t remember
    seeing you there.

    Fletch: I haven’t been playing
    because of these kidney pains.

    Dr.: Right. How long have you
    had these pains, Mr. Barber?

    Fletch: No, that’s Babar.

    Dr.: Two B’s?

    Fletch: One “B.”
    B-A-B-A-R.

    Dr.:- That’s two.

    Fletch: – Yeah, but not together.
    I thought
    that’s what you meant.

    Dr.: Arnold Babar.
    Aren’t there
    children’s books…
    about an elephant
    named Babar?

    Fletch: – I don’t know. I don’t have any.

    Dr.: – No children?

    Fletch: No, elephant books.

    Dr.: Open wide.
    Say, “Ah.”

    Fletch: Aah.

    Dr.: It’s an odd name.
    I haven’t seen it
    on the club registry.

    Fletch: I don’t formally belong.
    I’m a guest of my aunt’s.

    Dr.: Your aunt?

    Fletch: – Right. Mrs. Smith.

    Dr.: – Joan or Margaret?

    Fletch: Uh-huh.

    Dr.: Which one?

    Fletch: Margaret.

    Dr.: Funny old bird.

    Fletch: I could tell you
    some stories.

    Dr.: I bet.
    You know,
    it’s a shame about Ed.

    Fletch: It was.
    That was really a shame.
    To go so suddenly.

    Dr.: He was dying
    for years.

    Fletch: But the end
    was very sudden.

    Dr.: He was in intensive care
    for eight weeks.

    Fletch: But the very end,
    when he actually died…
    was extremely sudden.

    Like

  90. “The reason I was asking about Alan is that I bumped into him this morning, and you know what I can’t figure out?”

    “Alan’s in Utah.”

    “I can’t figure out… what I was doing in Utah this morning.”

    Like

  91. Jeremy T: If you want to talk imputation that is one thing, but salvation by grace alone is fully Catholic.

    RS: Imputation is not just one thing, it may be the thing. Salvation by grace alone is indeed Catholic (holy, Catholic, Church), but it is not Roman Catholic. You cannot have grace alone apart from a denial of free-will and of the doctrine of predestination.

    Like

  92. Erik an JJS,

    There’s a bit of this involved,

    Jason; You fellas wanna read me my rights?
    Sean: You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have your face kicked in by me. You have the right to have your _ _ _ _ _ stomped by him.
    Jason: I’ll waive my rights.

    I hope that qualifies as conciliatory

    Like

  93. “You’ll like Chief Carlin. He’s a nice man.”

    “Yeah I heard he’s mellowed out a lot since he came out of the closet.”

    PS – I’ma start a new church where we all just quote movies all service. We’ll have liturgical seasons and everything, like Forty Days of Fletch and Lebowski Lent.

    PSS – If anyone quotes the line from Fletch about him being “six-five, with the afro six-nine,” he will be excommunicated.

    Like

  94. Bryan,

    You wrote on 8/3 at 11:42 a.m. to DGH: “Your quotation is not even in Scripture, but comes from a document authored by men who were not validly ordained, and had no authority to speak for the Church, and yet you [seemingly] trust that document as if it is infallible, while claiming that you don’t need the Church to be infallible.”

    This is something I genuinely and with no guile have wondered about you and the gang at CtC: Do you have holy orders? Do you have authority to speak for the RCC? It seems the card that you guys play on the website is, “We used to be Reformed, but came around to a fuller experience of Christ in the RCC because we recognized some deficiency in intellectual or spiritual life. You should come, too.” In short, your testimony is what is offered (albeit with long, long, posts) but no real authority at least as y’all understand/construe authority, since you are all laymen.

    Thanks,
    PGR

    Like

  95. Darryl, I’d be happy to lose the prefix, but how would I distinguish Calvinism (you know, the theology that Kuyper lectured on) from what you think (which is clearly not the theology that Kuyper lectured on). My sense is that most Calvinists actually embrace Kuyperianism as an out-working of “paleo” ideas such as sovereignty, kingship, the goodness of Creation (as in 1 Timothy 4), two kingdoms (a version of sphere sovereignty), vocation (that’s the “all of life piece”), and amillenniel eschatology.

    So fine. Call us Calvinists.

    Like

  96. As I recall, the RC Magesterium (the Pope and all) condemned Galileo’s heliocentrism as heresy. This demonstrates the difference between Protestants and RCs on a very important level:

    1) Protestants can admit we were wrong because no man is infallible (hence why we can disagree with Calvin on the age of the Earth)

    2) RCs can’t admit they were wrong, even though a child can see that they were.

    “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” 2 Peter 1:19

    Like

  97. McJeremy, such as I can understand your question, my sense of the disagreement between CtC and Reformed Protestants is certainty and infallibility. I say CtC because the other RC’s I read and talk to (conservatives, even Latin rite folks), I hear nothing about certainty and infallibility. They may believe those things but prefer to talk about the West, culture, human dignity, and order (or ordered liberty).

    That’s why I think the CtC folks show much more of their Reformed ties than they know. Who among Protestants has defended the infallibility of Scripture more than Reformed? So CtC folks take that paradigm with them to Rome.

    Like

  98. Jason, when you make your biblical case for the gospel, will you be acting as an RC? I mean, what about the magisterium and early church fathers? What does the Bible have to do with it? Obviously snark there. But isn’t the point of CtC’s quest for certainty that appealing to the Bible settles nothing. That’s what Protestants do and look where it leads.

    Like

  99. Jeremy Tate, woo hoo that Rome condemns semi-Pelagianism. In the pew most lay RC’s believe that free will is what distinguishes them from Calvinists. These folks aren’t semi-Pelagian. They’re Pelagian. Somehow with all of that charism Rome’s views on Pelagius aren’t getting out.

    Like

  100. Sorry Terry, if you lose neo another qualifier is coming — New School. Jim Bratt, your former colleague, says that Kuyper shares more similarities to the New School on church/culture stuff than to the Old School. It’s still about kingdom and Kuyper’s expansive view. The visible church is the kingdom of Christ. Let’s see how you develop from that into the kingdom of Christ extends beyond the church into all spheres of human activity.

    Like

  101. D.G.,

    I would love a real conversation here. You know that Catholicism is not defined by what a certain person in the pew may or may not be confused about. The authority on orthodox belief in Catholicism is the Magisterium, which, condemns semi-pelagianism. I sit in the pew, I’m not semi-pelagian.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Like

  102. Jeremy T,

    I believe you’re sincere, but your attempts to talk about Rome as if it were a monolith of doctrinal commitment much less magisterial fealty is really pollyannish. Additionally, Rome has long taken notice of ‘pew-practice’ as a true, though not sole, source of God’s movement among the ‘community of faith’ and sought to later offficially embrace many such practices/beliefs as part of the deposit. So, maybe your proto-catholic practices and piety will carve out it’s own place and particularity within the faith. But, all that would seem to do is extend the tent pegs out another mile or so. And all of this ‘conversation’ fails to be a conversation about what truly binds roman catholics; the mass – sacerdotalism.

    Like

  103. Sean,

    When an adult converts to Catholicism and gets confirmed they must profess to believe “ALL” that the Catholic Church teaches. Presbyterian denominations would never ask for such a committment because they’re not even quite sure about their own interpretation of Scripture (See. Dr. Ander’s most recent post @ CtC) This reality doesn’t fit well with your repeated charge that Rome allows for all beliefs under the sun.

    Even more so, why do so many lay people who support gay marriage and women’s ordination keep leaving the Catholic Church for Anglicanism with the complaint that their views are not tolerated?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Like

  104. Jeremy T,

    You don’t even know what ALL the roman church believes. You really want to compare the catechetical maturity of a practicing conservative presbyterian with a practicing conservative roman catholic? As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot of finger-crossing going on in the pew when it comes pledges of fealty to the magisterium. I have some openly homosexual clergy and religious to introduce you to, not to mention a number of Matthew Fox devotees at seminary, to speak nothing of the priests who abide a protestant liberal hermenuetical approach to the scriptures and that’s just scratching the surface of the diversity under the roman tent. But, everyone does go to Mass.

    Like

  105. When an adult converts to Catholicism and gets confirmed they must profess to believe “ALL” that the Catholic Church teaches. Presbyterian denominations would never ask for such a committment because they’re not even quite sure about their own interpretation of Scripture…

    Jeremy, not quite. Reformed churches ask adult candidates for membership:

    1. Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the inerrant and infallible Word of God, and its doctrine, summarized in the confessions of this Church, to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?

    2. Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?

    3. Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve Him with all that is in you, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?

    4. Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government and discipline of this church and, in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to heed its discipline?

    But on the Trent point above, what’s the problem with just lifting anathema of sola fide? Granted, simplicity is a Reformed virtue, but that seems much more simple a task than the semantic calisthenics you’re suggesting all the way through this thread in order to preserve church face.

    Like

  106. Jeremy T., here’s the point. The OPC and PCA have members who don’t believe what the Confession says. That was partly the reason for CtC guys to go to Rome. Sola scriptura couldn’t solve the problems of Leithart, for instance. But Rome has people — clergy and laity — who don’t believe what Rome teaches. Yet Rome is supposed to be the solution to Protestant diversity. I don’t see how Rome resolves the problem of diverse opinions. Reformed still believe in an infallible Bible. RC’s believe in an infallible pope. We’re at a stalemate at least pragmatically.

    All some of us are asking is that you acknowledge that your solution to your frustrations doesn’t solve the problem of a diversity of beliefs. Plus, it seems hardly disproportionate to talk about the order and stability that come with an infallible pope when Rome suffers the same problem that Reformed Protestants do. On paper, your views may be the silver bullet. On paper, so are mine. But each of us live in an ecclesiastical scene very different from the paper.

    So why all the triumphalism on your side?

    Like

  107. Jeremy, and regarding what the faithful must believe in RC’sm, also applies to priests. Have you noticed what Jesuits teach, or that Roman Catholic universities are hardly pillars of what the church teaches. Look at Georgetown.

    Like

  108. Dear Pat,

    I understand why you might think that a Catholic layman plays no role in Catholic life other than, “pray, pay, and obey.” But, that is a caricature, and in fairness to you, as an outsider to Catholic life, an understandable one. However, there are a number of us at Called to Communion who work for the Church, who meet and know our Bishops, who lead Bible studies, teach adult catechesis, etc… I wrote something that I believe touches on your perception of the Church at Called to Communion and I will link to it if you are inclined to read it.

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2012/06/the-dual-profile-of-the-church/

    Thanks,
    Tom

    Like

  109. Jeremy, but if salvation is by grace alone, why do Roman Catholics have to clear so many hurdles to become saints? If grace is sufficient, shouldn’t everyone be a saint — I mean really sainted, not this one day a year stuff.

    Like

  110. Jeremy, like I said, the point isn’t to debate the substance of our differences concerning sola fide. It’s so say that we have our differences and they sharply divide us. My point is that Prots acknowledge the difference and call those who deny sola fide to repentance, full stop. But what Rome does is anathematize us in Trent, then in V2 calls us brothers and members of the RCC without reversing Trent. This is confusing enough, but then CtC on behalf of the RCC comes along and calls us, who have been called brothers by the RCC, to communion. Are you all listening to your own church?

    Like

  111. Darryl,

    Jason, when you make your biblical case for the gospel, will you be acting as an RC? I mean, what about the magisterium and early church fathers? What does the Bible have to do with it? Obviously snark there. But isn’t the point of CtC’s quest for certainty that appealing to the Bible settles nothing. That’s what Protestants do and look where it leads.

    Unlike you, I am willing, for the sake of argument, to step into your interpretive paradigm for a moment and look at the data through those lenses (I used to wear them, after all). My reason for being willing to do this is (1) to disprove claim that the Bible’s teaching doesn’t matter to Catholics, and (2) to disprove the claim that the Catholic gospel can only be arrived at through magisterial imposition from on high.

    I believe the Bible teaches my position, is what I’m saying. And I’m willing to hold my nose and adopt your MO in order to try to demonstrate it

    Like

  112. JJS, some of us don’t make the claim that “the Bible doesn’t matter to Catholics.” What we claim is that the Bible is clear on sola fide, but the reality that some deny it–even those who think the Bible matters a lot–is a function of just how obscuring sin is in human beings.

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  113. Zrim,

    What we claim is that the Bible is clear on sola fide,

    Where? Where, exactly, do you think the Bible is “clear on sola fide”?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  114. Zrim,

    But what Rome does is anathematize us in Trent, then in V2 calls us brothers and members of the RCC without reversing Trent. This is confusing enough, but then CtC on behalf of the RCC comes along and calls us, who have been called brothers by the RCC, to communion. Are you all listening to your own church?

    First, the anathemas of Trent applied to Catholics, canonically, so they never applied to you. Second, V2 refers to Protestants as “separated brothers” (Unitatis Redintegratio). What is tripping you up is that you are leaving out the “separated” part. And that’s why you’re confused when CTC makes the case that Protestants ought to return to full communion with the Catholic Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  115. Zrim,

    You said,

    … some of us don’t make the claim that “the Bible doesn’t matter to Catholics.”

    Darryl had written:

    I mean, what about the magisterium and early church fathers? What does the Bible have to do with it?

    So as you can see, some of you do.

    Like

  116. JJS,

    It seems like it still won’t answer the question of which roman catholics. There’s quite a bit of mutual exclusivisity going on between certain groups on both the doctrinal and magisterial scoreboards. I mean if you end up excluding someone like Fr. Morrell over at OST, he might take umbrage at any implicit conclusion that he’s a bad catholic. He might want to have a long discussion with you and the CTC crew about who’s a better catholic. He might want to stack his record against Y’alls and play some chicken, or see who cries ‘uncle’ first. Some of these priests fresh off the boat from Ireland might have a few things to say about what you american catholics think you know and have, and after a shot or two of some of the good stuff, might revert to their amateur pugilist ways to settle the sitchation. I’m just sayin..

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  117. Sean,

    But won’t you just be question begging the whole time then and render your results moot

    Begging the question is what happens when a person assumes as part of his argument something that is itself in dispute. But granting an aspect of an opponent’s position for the sake of argument is not begging the question. In fact, I am extending you a courtesy by being willing to argue from Scripture alone.

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  118. Jason, sorry, but I don’t see a lot of references to the Bible by CtC folks either here or at Greenbaggins or at CtC. The interpretive advantage that CtC has apparently over Protestants is the early church, the magisterium, and charism — oh that’s right, and Matt. 16:18.

    BTW, when you make your case for salvation, will you distinguish it from Leithart, Shepherd, and Wesley? I mean, it’s not like Reformed haven’t heard biblical cases against the Reformed view before.

    Like

  119. Darryl,

    Jason, sorry, but I don’t see a lot of references to the Bible by CtC folks either here or at Greenbaggins or at CtC. The interpretive advantage that CtC has apparently over Protestants is the early church, the magisterium, and charism — oh that’s right, and Matt. 16:18.

    No offense, but you haven’t exactly been exhibiting an open-mindedness or a familiarity with the issues. Instead it’s mostly snark and cheap shots (like telling Bryan he should be the pope since he seems to know everything). If you took the time to click around at CTC you’d find plenty of biblical arguments for Rome’s view of justification.

    But what’s on display at CTC wasn’t even my point anyway.

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  120. DG,

    But if salvation is by grace alone, why do Roman Catholics have to clear so many hurdles to become saints? If grace is sufficient, shouldn’t everyone be a saint

    Because the sense here of ‘grace alone,’ is sine quo non. God begins the good work in us, and grace is continually at work in us. Without grace we can do nothing. But we must cooperate with the grace at work in us. That cooperation typically involves suffering and sacrifice. As Paul and Barnabas preached, “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

    In addition, salvation (in the sense of making it to heaven) is not the same thing as becoming a saint (in the heroic virtue sense).

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  121. Zrim,

    To help you out on the V2 stuff and how this works in Rome; Because you never were in the care and nurture of Rome you are regarded as not having as much culpability, as regards your soul, as someone like me, who though being raised and nurtured and trained in her ‘bosom’, has rejected her provision and possibly irretrievably, endangered my soul. I still have breath, so there may yet be hope. No one less than Patrick Madrid conveyed to me my current state. Fr. Morrell said he was full of stuff, so, I guess pay a nickel and make your choice.

    Jason,

    Thanks for the courtesy. So, you do intend to tell us about Rome. Which is fine, how far along are you in your work?(no snark fm me here) I really am gonna be interested to see where you are in say ten years compared to where you are now. So, if you continue to write and grow in your roman catholic faith and God grants you the years it will be interesting to compare and contrast. I hope you write about what particular influences within protestant theology contributed, if any, to your conversion, that would probably be of most interest to protestants who are engaged, particularly in the blogosphere dominated by West East, CTS, RTS , West West and the like.

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  122. Bryan, first, I said my point wasn’t about the substance of sola fide—it’s a given with regard to my actual point. Second, again, here is Vatican II:

    The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church- whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church–do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body, and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.

    Wow. Double wow. We’re already brethren. I get your point—better to be in-in than in-afar off. But if my soul is not in eternal peril by remaining in the URC, I really don’t see what incentive I have to come over. It just seems like either the RCC needs to dial down the love or CtC needs to back off. And since CtC works for the RCC, why not cease calling us to communion since your church has effectively extended the right hand of fellowship?

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  123. JJS, how about dealing with those of us who said in other places that it seems that the Catholic mind is primarily driven by ecclesia (secondarily by scriptura) and the Protestant mind primarily by scriptura (secondarily by ecclesia)? Secondarily doesn’t mean “not at all.” Do you really think my point is that “the church doesn’t matter to Protestants”? No, not anymore than “the Bible doesn’t matter to Catholics.”

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  124. Sean, thanks, I’m aware of that distinction. So if they won’t back off those in-afar off, maybe CtC needs to get more precise and call cradles back?

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  125. Jason,

    I have been out and about in Chicago since I posted last and then was more concerned about the Princeton post then the Catholic post this morning so I just saw that you responded to my “deceived” accusation. Why beat around the bush, you Catholics think we Reformed Protestants are “deceived” for believing in forensic union (the elects sin being imputed to Christ and Christ’s righteousness to the elect). We don’t add the sanctimonious “In the peace of Christ” at the end of our remarks though. I noticed that you don’t do that either yet. I will be all ears, Jason, when you start defending the Catholic “Gospel.” I imagine it will be great news to a sinner like me. I am one of those who has had to go through “experiences” in order that my depravity would be made known to me. That’s because I have different beliefs about Romans 7 than you do. I have read your book so I am somewhat familiar with your thought. I was very much against what you wrote about in chapter 12 of Dual Citizens.

    And I believe I was on my second orange juice and vodka when I wrote that post last night. Here’s to hoping to hear more about how you defend your positions. I am a big forensic priority guy because I think “cloaked” and half baked self-righteousness is more of a problem in believers than struggling with still indwelling sin which does not want to go away. Although, more than likely, they are related to each other.

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  126. Jason, ahem, I actually think I am fully aware of the issues. Your side doesn’t seem to be aware of our issue — the sufficiency of Christ.

    But the post that has sustained this discussion was precisely about CtC and its arguments about infallibility. I don’t know if you get out much in the RC world to know that infallibility is hardly a big deal even among conservative RC’s. I myself find the claims about an infallible officer in the church to be ludicrous. That may suggest a closed mind. It may also be Augustinian since I take sin pretty seriously. But even among conservative RCs, like the ones to whom I dedicated a book, the CtC claims about infallibility would receive glances away. It’s like Jewish Americans making a big deal of Protestants for not keeping a kosher kitchen. You may believe in an infallible pope, but you may also want to consider that lots of people — including RCs in good standing (is that a category that applies) — don’t think it’s a hill worth dying over, and hardly one to resolve disputes between RCs and Prot’s. And then you haven’t even dealt with John O’Malley’s or John McGreevy’s of the world or the folks at Communio who aren’t exactly dying for an infallible pope, let alone a conservative one.

    But my point was that in a CtC context, which appears to be one in which you’re now arguing, a biblical argument is window dressing since the bottom line here and at Greenbaggins has been ECF and infallible popes. Then again, if you’re trying to persuade us to become RC, a biblical case might work. But you know how we react to Shepherd, Leithart (boy do you) and Wesley. I’m not sure what you could add that folks across the Tiber haven’t considered.

    As for open-mindedness, is that something that an RC should be recommending?

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  127. Zrim,

    Since Bryan didn’t wanna get specific, I thought I’d help out.

    Sorry, I’m trying to picture Bugay and Moore on one side and Cross on the other. Bloodbath seems appropriate. We could sell tickets.

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  128. JJS

    My reason for being willing to do this is (1) to disprove claim that the Bible’s teaching doesn’t matter to Catholics,

    How would arguing your position from the bible ‘disprove [the] claim that the Bible’s teaching doesn’t matter to Catholics’?

    (2) to disprove the claim that the Catholic gospel can only be arrived at through magisterial imposition from on high.

    Does this not depend on what is necessary for the ‘Catholic gospel’?

    For instance, if the ECF and/or Magisterium contribute to the Roman Catholic understanding of the gospel then how is it possible to arrive at the Catholic gospel using only your prelapsarian lenses? And if it is possible to arrive at the Catholic gospel by the bible alone would that mean God’s whole council concerning all things necessary for man’s salvation are expressly set down in Scripture or can be deduced by good or necessary consequence (to say nothing of glory, faith and life)?

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  129. John,

    Why beat around the bush, you Catholics think we Reformed Protestants are “deceived” for believing in forensic union (the elects sin being imputed to Christ and Christ’s righteousness to the elect).

    None of the Catholics I know use that language, for the simple reasons that it automatically puts the other person on the defensive (which, unless we’re trying to offend our opponents, is counter-productive). Rather than simply calling you “deceived” (as you did to me), I would rather actually argue my position. And I’ll even do it in a non-circular manner. And I’ll even do it while granting one of your central positions (Sola Scriptura). Of course, I may end up failing to persuade you, but at least I will try, which should count for something.

    We don’t add the sanctimonious “In the peace of Christ” at the end of our remarks though. I noticed that you don’t do that either yet.

    That is just an attack on Bryan’s character, so I will ignore it.

    I will be all ears, Jason, when you start defending the Catholic “Gospel.” I imagine it will be great news to a sinner like me.

    Do you realize that your entire tone, as well as your sarcastic use of scare-quotes, makes me suspicious of your claim to be all ears when I do attempt to make my case? You should re-read what you write before posting, if indeed you are sincere about what you write. If you’re just trying to be sarcastic and mocking, then keep doing what you’re doing because it’s working just fine.

    And I believe I was on my second orange juice and vodka when I wrote that post last night.

    Now you’re talking. We should sit down over some screwdrivers some time (on me). I bet we’ll make way more headway than we ever will here!

    Here’s to hoping to hear more about how you defend your positions. I am a big forensic priority guy because I think “cloaked” and half baked self-righteousness is more of a problem in believers than struggling with still indwelling sin which does not want to go away.

    No one denies the forensic element (adoption, as Horton says, is both legal and relational). The Catholic thinks that you guys don’t do justice to the familial aspect of salvation, as indicated (as Bryan points out in his rebuttal of Nick Batzig) by your view of the need for letter-of-the-law perfection. And I know that you guys don’t think Catholics do justice to the forensic. That’s a paradigm issue, as the Bryan’s post on CTC argues. But each side needs to recognize the paradigm-level differences if we’re ever going to get anywhere.

    In the peace of Christ,

    Jason

    PS – Just kidding.

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  130. D.G. mentions “RCs in good standing” – Would that include pro-choice “Catholic” politicians John Kerry, Tom Harkin, and Ted Kennedy (when he was alive)? If the pope is infallible could he do something about those guys?

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  131. Sean,

    I really am gonna be interested to see where you are in say ten years compared to where you are now. So, if you continue to write and grow in your roman catholic faith and God grants you the years it will be interesting to compare and contrast.

    Look, I know I pissed a lot of people off by leaving Protestantism, and whenever I join the CC I’m sure it will only add to the anger some people feel. And I can understand the temptation to dismiss anything I might say on the grounds that I am some kind of Johnny-come-lately (not saying you’re doing this, I’m just saying). But there was a time when I was less than 10 years old in my Reformed faith, having come out of evangelicalism, and I’m sure none of you Reformed guys would have begrudged me my defense of Geneva.

    As far as where I’ll be in a decade’s time, I’ll probably be a Druid.

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  132. Zrim,

    JJS, how about dealing with those of us who said in other places that it seems that the Catholic mind is primarily driven by ecclesia (secondarily by scriptura) and the Protestant mind primarily by scriptura (secondarily by ecclesia)? Secondarily doesn’t mean “not at all.” Do you really think my point is that “the church doesn’t matter to Protestants”? No, not anymore than “the Bible doesn’t matter to Catholics.”

    I think I called you on this on Facebook a few weeks ago, and it looks as though you have modified your language a bit (you used to call the Catholic position “Sola Ecclesia,” but now it looks like you’re giving them a bit more credit for having the Bible as a secondary voice).

    Still, you’re not articulating what Catholics actually say their view is (Scripture-Tradition-Magisterium, sometimes called “Prima Scriptura”). Now, you may be aware that that’s their view and you think it is a misnomer or something, which is fine. But I have never heard you actually characterize your opponents’ position correctly, in a way that they would recognize as their own.

    But all this aside, I think the basics of the Catholic gospel are taught quite clearly in the NT. It was recognizing this, and not some QIRC, that led me out of Protestantism.

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  133. Darryl,

    Jason, ahem, I actually think I am fully aware of the issues. Your side doesn’t seem to be aware of our issue — the sufficiency of Christ.

    The “ahem” tells me I offended you. I am sorry. I didn’t say that you are not aware of the issues, but that you are not demonstrating an awareness of them (at least that’s what I meant, I don’t remember what I actually said). All the “gotchas” you’re throwing out there are things that any first-timer at an RCIA class would ask, and they are all clearly addressed in the Catechism and at CTC. For example, asking why Bryan bothers to talk if he’s not an infallible bishop, or about what to do when there are three popes, are not the questions of someone who has done a lot of thinking about Catholicism (much like the question, “If God is sovereign, why pray?” is not the question of someone who has thought much about Calvinism). If these issues are new, fine. But my point is that you don’t seem to be actually interested in talking about them.

    And we are aware of the issue of the sufficiency of Christ, and virtually everything Catholics say about the Trinity and Fatherhood of God is an attempt to deal with that very important objection on your part. If you cannot rehearse back to me those answers, then it just demonstrates that you are unaware that your concerns are being addressed, and what is said by way of response. And again, that’s fine. But if that’s the case, then why not just ask sincere questions instead of charging us with never having thought of these things before, or of avoiding them altogether? We’re not going to be able to recapitulate a half millennium of debate in a blog combox.

    … infallibility is hardly a big deal even among conservative RC’s.

    That’s like me saying that none of my OPC friends think the IAO matters that much, and that Machen was kinda cute when he talked about it on his deathbed. In other words, I don’t doubt you’re correctly relaying your friends’ attitude, but all it proves is that they’re no better Catholics than FV-ers are Presbyterians.

    I myself find the claims about an infallible officer in the church to be ludicrous. That may suggest a closed mind. It may also be Augustinian since I take sin pretty seriously.

    I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Augustine flatly denied that Mary ever sinned. Just saying.

    You may believe in an infallible pope, but you may also want to consider that lots of people — including RCs in good standing (is that a category that applies) — don’t think it’s a hill worth dying over….

    Look, I’ve always been a gospel guy, and soteriological issues are what get me excited, not issues about papal infallibility. Although I once considered it “ludicrous” too, once I understood the limited parameters of the dogma, as well as its relation to certain biblical and patristic statements, I ceased to consider it silly. But I don’t get a chub over it or anything. I’d much rather talk about Romans or Galatians.

    … in a CtC context, which appears to be one in which you’re now arguing, a biblical argument is window dressing since the bottom line here and at Greenbaggins has been ECF and infallible popes.

    The thread Lane wrote at GB was about infallible popes, which is why that’s what the CTC guys talked about over there.

    As for open-mindedness, is that something that an RC should be recommending?

    … says the guy who’s a part of a small minority in an already tiny American denomination!

    Shouldn’ta said that. That was snarky. But still: Pot. Kettle. Black.

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  134. Jason,

    Two questions (shamelessly copied from another conversation):

    Regarding the relationship between church authority and orthodoxy. I’m trying to compare “Protestants throughout history” to “Catholics throughout history before their orthodoxy was vindicated by infallible declaration.” So let’s compare my affirmation of the Trinity to Athanasius’s pre-Nicea. Athanasius had every reason to reject Arianism and publicly call it heretical before it was infallibly declared to be a heresy, so why can’t Protestants do that today? Functionally it seems the same. Many Catholics and Orthodox over the centuries have opposed heresy before they say their positions vindicated, sometimes dying before that. Was their orthodoxy based on a flimsy foundation?

    Of course, in Protestantism there is no human authority that infallibly adjudicates good from bad development, but neither did Nicea just assert it’s power via fiat and establish orthodoxy that way. Arianism was declared a heresy based on a long history of argument about Scripture, why we worship Jesus, etc. and Protestants join you in rejecting it on that basis, but only on that basis. We agree with the reasoning and conclusions of Athanasius, but we only give tertiary significance to the fact that it was established as orthodoxy by the church.

    Second, conversations around here seem to imply an either/or between imputation and infusion. But as you know, there’s also a wide variety of views in Protestantism, ranging from what I think you and I would both reject as a STRICTLY forensic idea of salvation that require considerable exegetical gymnastics ( Piper ) to groups that you might find closer to Paul and the ECF: the Finnish “Orthodox Luther”, certain Mercersburg Theologies, Radical Orthodoxy’s Neo-Platonic view of participation, New Perspectives on Paul, or Michael Bird’s Incorporated Righteousness (my preference in this list). Even Kevin Vanhoozer’s response to NT Wright (describing the “law court” metaphor as an adoption court) would be within the Reformed camp but only rely on imputation language to secondarily explain how Union with Christ justifies. All these folks reject justification as infusion. I think all these schools would have an easier time finding continuity with the ECFs than folks who think only in terms of imputation (though I do secondarily affirm what is meant by imputation). Seeing as how your conversion began in part through questioning Sola Fide.

    By the way, is there a fast food sandwich chain that we can go to if we want to protest your conversion?

    Presbyterian Jeremy

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  135. I am glad that Jason still wants to mainly talk soteriology. Me too. So when I read the “Roman Catholic view” in Justification: 5 views, IVP, 2011, by Gerald O’Collins and Oliver Rafferty, my first questions are not about if they speak infallibly or if they speak for the pope or if they or more or less legitimate than converts to Rome from Westminster East and West.

    Of course the Roman Catholic view in the 5 views book begins by agreeing with Gaffin’s student Michael Bird. “Original sin does not refer personal guilt but to the sinful condition in which and into which human beings are born.” (p128) But ths first denial goes along with an even worse second denial (that Bird would NOT make), that there is no penal substitution in Isaiah 53. “But what about ‘the Lord has handed him over to our sins…Through the discipline of such punishment, they can be turned from their evil ways and healed…In the sixth century bc, no distinction had yet been drawn between the absolute will of God and the permissive will of God. Such a distinction allows us to understand how God may allow even his totally innocent Son to be handed over to sufferings and to be punished by human beings…The meaning of this vivid poem should not be pushed beyond what it actually says or misread as if it were a precise theological treatise about the transfer of personal guilt.”

    A “catholic” view of course claims to be “catholic” in wanting to include everything and not be precise or exclude, but at the end of the day some Roman Catholics are always finally very precise in EXCLUDING PENAL SUBSTITUTION. We want more, they say, but they also always want less. They are motivated not only by a desire to say that Jews are saved apart from the obedience of Jesus Christ but also motivated by a hatred for the just God who cannot and will not justify the ungodly apart from the legal record of God having punished God for sins that God legally transferred to God. Don’t be so mechanical and precise, they say, but they routinely and specifically deny any legal solidarity with guilt or with Christ’s death as a legal satisfaction. Some Roman Catholics will allow “punishment” but not talk about individual guilt being borne by Christ and then taken away.

    So can we be certain that these Roman Catholic’s view of soteriology is to be included, and not excluded? How can there view be included, and it also be agreed that the guilt of Adam is imputed to human individuals?

    These two particular Romans Catholics are very willing to caricature and misrepresent penal substitution. On p 175, the Roman Catholic view explains II Cor 5:21: “supporters of the penal substitution view understand Paul to state that Christ really became a sinner. Our transgressions were counted against him …How could God transform an innocent person into a sinner? What about the possibility of saying, without doing that, God associated Jesus with all sinful men and women and charged him with their sins? …Paul does not use a judicial vocabulary here. God is not said to accuse, charge, judge, or punish.”

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  136. JJS, no, what I’m giving you now is what I gave you then (i.e. the primary-secondary point). And when in response you gave me the three-legged stool point (i.e, Scripture-Tradition-Magisterium, sometimes called “Prima Scriptura”), I wondered how honest this really is when all the Reformed converts—and even some cradles I know—always say something more or less like, “I came to see that the RCC is the church Jesus founded,” which is a statement that effectively gives primacy to ecclesia. You say I don’t characterize Catholics’ position correctly, but this is always the refrain. Like Bryan’s comment on page two of this thread: “No, my reason for becoming Catholic was discovering that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded.” How am I not articulating their position when this is what is always said? The Catholic, evidently, says find out which church Jesus founded, then find out what that church says the Bible teaches about the gospel. The Prot says first find out what the Bible teaches about the gospel, then find the church which affirms that.

    So, yes, I understand that you (and the Catholics) think the basics of the Catholic gospel are taught quite clearly in the NT. So what? Theonomists also think the Bible teaches the state should execute homosexuals and theocrats think sit says the state should enforce true religion. You’re all wrong from historic Protestantism’s viewpoint. Everybody thinks their conclusions are clearly taught in the Bible, which is why the Bible doesn’t really solve anything in the end because there always has to be a human interpretation and human sin is as real as the Bible is clear.

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  137. Jason, maybe I’m not demonstrating an awareness or maybe you guys (I mean CtCers) are so much of an amen corner that you don’t get out and hear how you sound. I think Bryan especially doesn’t understand that he does sound like HAL — he simply regurgitates at times the RC answer, and then he goes philosophical (perhaps by temperament) and sounds even more abstract. In other words, if you want to be persuasive, try again. And if you want to sound persuasive don’t sound like a know it all — we’ve been there (Protestant land) and now we know so so much better. I’m sure you know, condescension has a certain propensity to elicit snark.

    Now, if you are aware of the sufficiency of Christ why do we need saints to pray to, or why do we have to cooperate with grace? Or why has Rome worked out an agreement with Lutherans? Or why does Evangelicals and Catholics exist? The point is that as clear as the Catechism may be, it isn’t clear what Rome teaches. It could be that you have many catechisms. I still see some RC’s refer to Baltimore. Or it could be that the current one is long (and we thought Heidelberg was tough). For a teaching device, you guys really should reconsider. Or why is Trent so clear in anathematizing our view of Christ’s sufficiency? Or why have the leading RC voices of late been talking about the dignity of the human person (Fortnight of Freedom) and not talking about the gospel (even on your view)? The point is that post Vatican II Rome looks far more like the Protestant mainline than it resembles antiquity. You get social justice, the Trinity, and the superiority of the West without the silliness of liberal Protestantism. Oh, wait. This is the U.S. Roman Catholic church where the nuns were giving a pretty good impression of liberal Protestantism.

    The point Jason is that the Rome you think you’re kicking the tires on is a model that no one makes anymore. Yes, you can buy the parts the way CtCer’s do. But Rome is hardly the monolith of traditional Roman Catholicism that CtC peddles. And it would be good for someone to recognize this, especially with all the triumphalism and condescension.

    Big deal what Augustine said about Mary. Protestant believe that fathers in the faith, not to mention, councils may err. I believe Calvin was wrong. What does Mary or Augustine have to do with infallibility? And how exactly are you defending intellectual openness if you appeal to Augustine that way? So I believe Mary was sinless because Augustine is “just sayin'”?

    Further, what good does infallibility do if so many Roman Catholics disregard it? I’ve had numerous conversations with RCs in which I hear how bad off Protestantism is because we are so fractured. At least Rome has a single authority and order. Then I bring up a particular encyclical that may be disagreeable. And then I hear, well the pope isn’t infallible on everything, just when speaking ex cathedra. So which is it? Does infalliblity give Rome order (hardly)? Or is it just a debating point to show Protestants what they lack even though Rome is really only united around the Mass?

    BTW, did you know that leading RC historians say that the only infallible assertion by the papacy in over 2000 years came in 1950 about the Assumption of Mary? And this is from Eamon Duffy, a favorite of RC conservatives since he beats up the English Reformation.

    You may belittle the littleness of the OPC. I suspect this is a holdover of your PCA days. But maybe Rome would be as big as the OPC if you lined up all the Roman Catholics who thought semi-pelagianism was false. Or maybe, the OPC is simply an example of what Benedict recommended when he established a monastery. To escape the entanglements of a worldly church, you gotta go small. Heck, Jason, I’m a localist. I don’t have Keller envy.

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  138. JJS,

    I don’t begrudge you your desire to follow your conscience, though I’m suspicious about the public nature of it(endgames and all), the virtual trophy case at CtC tends to remind me of Calvary Chapel’s propensity for celebrity, which you know all too well. But, all those are relatively minor annoyances in comparison to the condescension shown by CtCers who presume to tell cradle catholics what’s what in Rome. I’m compelled to grant that as big as Rome is, it’s entirely possible and likely the proto-catholics/anglo-catholics are carving out their own niche and I’m sure there are more than a few bishops who enjoy having them on the end of the lead. It still doesn’t negate the fact that Rome is not a ‘word-based’ religious expression. Rome finally melts down to the Mass-sacerdotalism. This isn’t a cause for shame or disappointment among faithful RCers. This is what Rome is and what it is organized to provide, all the way down to last-rites. You think catechetical maturity is lacking in protestantism, just wait till you get settled in, in your local roman communion. The knowledge of Rome’s ‘deposit’, dogma, and ECF not only is almost non-existent, but you will come to find is UNIMPORTANT in the religious life of not only the faithful RC pew-sitter but the religious and priesthood as well.

    I learned protestant liberalism as the expression of V2 scriptural hermenuetics from priests with Cal-Berkeley post grad degrees, Notre Dame post-grad degrees, University of Dallas post-grad degrees et al…littering the walls of their office. They would take great umbrage to y’alls monolithic representation of the faith.

    My interest in where you are in ten years isn’t one of trying to paint you as ‘forever on a journey’, but a real interest with how you’ve dealt with the diversity of belief much less magisterial fealty discrepancies you will encounter every single day. If you are simply following your conscience, fine. But, be careful if what you think you will find is what’s being proferred at CtC and make sure you know what Rome is, before you start proselytizing protestants on the margin much less cradle catholics who, though may have had a much less public conversion heading the other direction, have paid some really steep prices to follow our conscience as well.

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  139. D.G. – “You may belittle the littleness of the OPC. I suspect this is a holdover of your PCA days.”

    I had to chuckle at that one.

    The OPC is small, but influential beyond its size.

    Thank goodness the attempts they have made to merge with other groups over the years have not come to fruition.

    I am a URC guy with an OPC temperment.

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  140. Today in our worship service at El Camino we sang hymn #519 (Red) by A. Toplady, a Church of England Calvinist of the 18th century – a concise presentation of the doctrine of justification by faith alone and what it means:

    Fountain of never-ceasing grace,
    Thy saints’ exhaustless theme,
    Great object of immortal praise,
    Essentially supreme;
    We bless thee for the glorious fruits
    Thine incarnation gives;
    The righteousness which grace imputes,
    And faith alone receives.

    In thee we have a righteousness
    By God himself approved;
    Our rock, our sure foundation this,
    Which never can be moved.
    Our ransom by thy death was paid,
    For all thy people giv’n,
    The law thou perfectly obeyed,
    That they might enter heav’n.

    As all, when Adam sinned alone,
    In his transgression died,
    So by the righteousness of one
    Are sinners justified;
    We to thy merit, gracious Lord,
    With humblest joy submit,
    Again to Paradise restored,
    In thee alone complete.

    This reminds me of another hymn that begins:
    For all the saints who from their labors rest, who to the world their steadfast faith confessed,
    your name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia! Alleluia!

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  141. Darryl, I’m not going to get bogged down on the word “kingdom”. The Kuyperian view flows out of the sovereignty of God and his Lordship over all Creation. It also flows out of the idea of vocation believers (those who are members of the church of Christ) serve their Lord in their individual callings. Thus they bring their Christian faith into all areas of life that are lawful. It seems to me that Van Drunnen and you admit to all of this. As I always have said–we’re not that far apart.

    As for Bratt–we’ve been there already. I’m not sure New Schoolers had any sense of sphere sovereignty. Hodge could be pro-union but against Gardiner-Spring. That already sets Kuyperians apart from New Schoolers and provides some common
    ground with 2Kers.

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  142. Terry, so which is it? Continuity or not? I don’t think you can claim development on your side while simply shrugging your shoulders. The creeds and catechisms have a fair amount to say about the keys of the kingdom. Your response? Whatever?

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  143. James 2: 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it

    Romans 2:12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

    Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth will be stopped, and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

    Galatians 3: 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is
    evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.

    These texts have no “family” exemption, in which less the absolute obedience to the law is still somehow accepted as one cause of our eventual justification. According to Roman Catholics Robert Sungenis, the “familial aspect ” means God is not so strict, and imperfect works are counted as merits by grace. To him, grace means “give me some slack”

    Sugenis rejects any idea of being adopted into the family once for all time on the basis of the perfect complete imputed righteousness (law-satisfaction) of Jesus Christ. So you better get busy. What have you done lately to stay in “the family”? Of course there’s some leeway, it’s not all that tough, you don’t really need to worry, but you gotta give me a little something, or out you go….

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  144. Jason,

    Your criticisms of my remarks were duly noted- I have gotten into the habit of laughing at, sneering at, and throwing snark at what I perceive to be a “cloaked” semi self-righteousness. It has been ingrained by years of arguing with my arminian brother and his sanctimonious “holier than thou” family. Also, it has been even more deeply ingrained by my three or so more years that I have regularly tuned in to oldlife. Maybe it is an addiction now- hey, it sure feels good when a good and creative snark manifests itself. My tactics have not worked with my brother and his family (in fact, it has gotten me into more deep do do because we own a family business together- he has more authority than me) so maybe I need to heed your words. I do give you credit for having the integrity to go where your thinking was leading you. And I, like McMark, am glad that you like to focus on soteriological issues. That is what floats my boat too. I would be more than willing to sit down with you over a few “screwdrivers” if we ever cross paths sometime, although McMark claims that being invited to have a drink with someone betrays hidden motives of some sort, so, he refuses those offers. No longer because of his former fundamentalism, but because of some hidden agenda and a word that is not coming to me now (the blogs name that Carl Trueman used to write at Reformation 21). I am going to have to google it- I have killed too many brain cells in my days No, it just came to me, spin. So, what I am saying, is that if there is no spin involved and I get rid of the sarcasm and snark we can be assured that we both really want to know what the Gospel truly is and the implications for what it teaches us. That is easier said than done, but I have to believe that it can be done.

    I have been around and dialoged with too many people who have been brought up in dire circumstances and have made messes of their lives who need the hope of a forensic imputed righteousness to keep them going. They don’t need what I am convinced of as false gospels. Focusing in on what we need to do to convince ourselves of a false assurance does not really help. We have a bent to believe that we are more righteous than we really are- even Walt, in Breaking Bad, is now convincing himself that all will be OK, while his wife is plotting how to get out of the dire circumstances by feigning suicide. Our only hope is the imputed righteousness of Christ. When we have truly been brought to our knees in this regard we will respond accordingly, even though still tainted with our still indwelling sin. I will allow you to try to convince me otherwise. Due to our human natures, the dialog has usually ended in bloodshed. Do you think we are any better now?

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  145. I also might add that, like you, I spent 19 years in charismania evangelical fantasy land. While 10 of those years were spent reading reconstructionist literature and scratching my head in confusion. I ended up in marital difficulties and losing my family. I dropped out, tuned out and self-medicated for 10 years after, while learning reformation theology from Sproul, Gerstner and Horton and Modern Reformation magazine. It took me awhile to sort out what was Gospel and what was not Gospel in their writings too. What I call grace and what you call grace are two different animals struggling in the same cage. Their is a paradigm problem- I agree; how are you going to get out of the paradigm problem? I find that interesting, I will be listening.

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  146. Darryl, I don’t get your point. As far as I can tell 2kers and Kuyperians have the same view on the keys of the kingdom. I’ve said this before. The church and her officers decide who’s in and who’s out based on a credible profession of faith. This is how the kingdom language in the WCF should be understood. Thus membership in the kingdom is tied to membership in the church. I don’t disagree with that. But those who are members of the church live before their Lord all the time and everywhere in a Creation over which he is the Sovereign Lord. They do his bidding all the time and everywhere. So the extent of believers’ vocations extend into all Creation. My holy calling extends to my “secular” life if I am not a “full-time” minister of the Word. This is why I don’t see a difference between “vocation” an idea that seems to meet your approval and 24/7/365 Christianity or thinking Christianly about x which seems not to meet your approval.

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  147. Terry, do believers do his bidding all the time or do they exercise their Christian liberty some of the time and heed his word other times? This is where the keys of the kingdom would give you greater clarity. The Bible is not a handbook to earthly vocations. It is ministered as part of the keys of the kingdom. Reviewing movies for The Banner is not kingdom work because the Bible has little to say about aesthetics of culture (minus the bits about Israelite culture). You may agree with the doctrine of the keys, but you don’t agree with WCF when you make it seem that the kingdom is evident in Christians planting apple seeds.

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  148. Darryl, all the time. Are you now ready to secularize the Christian life? Believers live before God continually. Who is the one who calls when we speak of vocations? Is it not God who calls me to my various vocations whether they involve church work or not? And does the Bible not inform me concerning the theological foundations by which I understand Creation (where vocations are worked out)–worldview! And does not the Bible inform me of some of the religious/moral how of my daily life–prayer for my daily bread, how I treat others, how I view myself and my vocation before the face of God? I’m all for centering this in weekly worship in the context of the Church as the covenant community. And I’m all for Christian liberty. But I don’t see how Christian liberty frees us from Biblically informed living. “Handbook” is your word not mine. See http://grayt2.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/the-role-of-the-bible-in-the-scientists-work/ for a more detailed comment.

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  149. Terry – “common” is a better term than “secularize”. If “everything” is sacred then nothing is sacred. Just because something is common doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.

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  150. Terry, secular is not a bad word. It means of this age. Since marriage is of this age, I don’t go knock kneed when I hear callings are secular. The same goes for fathers, mothers, pastors, and likely historians. And since we are going to be it seems doing a lot of worshiping in glory, I’m not sure we’ll need too many other secular callings.

    Again it goes back to kingdom. What is eternal versus what is temporal. That duality runs right through the heart of Paul. And yet neo-Cals want to avoid the problem of fundamentalism by adding spiritual lift to ever secular calling by saying it is kingdom work.

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  151. Darryl, I don’t object to “secular” (or “common” or “eternal”) as long as for the believer it’s all done in submission to our Lord. I’ve even heard of some Kuyperians seeing secularity as being the logical conclusion of sphere sovereignty.

    It seems our differences really are rooted in our conception of the age to come. I do think we will continue in some of our vocations in the age to come. Gospel preachers, missionaries, and worship leaders will be out of a job. I’m not so sure about scientists, historians, astronauts, etc. I think the Bible teaches a very earthy, Creational “otherworld”. I get this OT and book of Revelation imagery and a sense that the original Creation, while “un-eschatolized”, nevertheless embodied God’s intentions for Creation and humanity. (In anticipation of your mentioning marriage again, I found it intriguing that in my dialogue with Al Wolters that he suggested that the passage in question refers to marriage ceremonies not marriage itself.)

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  152. Terry,

    I understand that not every marriage produces children, and we don’t hold that every sexual act must allow for such an opportunity, but where does one arrive at the idea that marriage, particularly in the edenic situation, did not contain the intentionality of producing offspring?

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  153. Terry,

    Without quoting the verse that Wolter’s explains away by parsing ceremony from marriage. If death can terminate the legal bond, I’m not sure we want to argue as the mormons that we are married for time and eternity. ‘Till death do us part. And if we will be like the angels and angels don’t marry………………………. Seem like a difficult wedge for Wolter’s to try to drive.

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  154. Terry,

    IOW, one is going to have a tough time severing the legal bond(ceremony in this case) from the companionship therein much less offspring intention. Even in Eden, there’s no reason to believe that marriage was for eternity. Otherwise, Heaven might get dicey with more than one spouse claiming legal propriety when there was remarriage for say death of a prior spouse, such that the 2nd marriage was in fact legitimate as well… Pretty soon we’ll have our own planet.

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  155. Darryl, nope. But there is something between crass literalism and prophetic symbolism.

    For what it’s worth it’s hard to engage you seriously when your snarkiness is mixed with an unwillingness to see your “opponent” as a reasonable person.

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  156. Sean, oops. You caught me red-handed in my Mormonism. I was hoping to keep my conversion secret from the world. There is a certainty in those gold plates and a living apostolate, you know.

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  157. Terry, I don’t think you are reasonable about the problems created by neo-Calvinism. If it’s any consolation, yours is the majority view. Maybe I’m the unreasonable one. But neo-Calvinism like Rome is not going to reform itself if it can always brush away problems as misunderstanding what Kuyper really meant. Could Kuyper be wrong? Is it unreasonable to wonder if he was or to see where the CRC and its institutions (not to mention the GKN which no longer exists) are? For all of my snark, on this one you seem like a pollyanna.

    On the point of continuity between this and the next worlds, I don’t think Revelation helps your case for a continuity of vocations.

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  158. Terry, when I hear neos speculate about the next age, I truly have to wonder what they think it means that “no mind has conceived what God is preparing for those who love him.” Is that just pious speech, or should we really be more careful about suggesting, for example, we’ll have astronauts? To be honest, it often seems like the mirror error of the Fundamentalists who speculate on earth history to push back against the Darwinists’ own speculations. It could be the case that all we know about continuity is that we’ll have glorified souls and bodies.

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  159. Darryl, don’t the kings of the earth bring tribute to the heavenly city which is now on earth? Kings and tribute sounds like politics and economics to me. Isn’t that in the Book of Revelation?

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  160. Darryl, “neo-Calvinism will not Reform itself” is an interesting thing to say. Wouldn’t you say that any Reformation must occur in an ecclesiastical context. Sometimes you treat neo-Calvinism as a para-church group–one that transcends denominational boundaries. While it may be true that there are many expressions of neo-Calvinism in today’s evangelical world, your desire to see a consistent neo-Calvinism must be in a particular ecclesiastical context. I haven’t given up yet on the CRCNA–perhaps with the discussions of sphere sovereignty that were initiated this year, we’ll have a renewal of genuine neo-Calvinist ecclesiology. If not in the CRCNA, perhaps in the CRCan or even the OPC or URC. Isn’t it at least conceivable that developments in the GKN or CRCNA have nothing to do with neo-Calvinism but with a delayed embracing of theological Liberalism?

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  161. Terry, you already admitted that you don’t take Revelation literally. What territories will kings in heaven be ruling when there will be only one king? Sorry, but that seems weak.

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  162. Terry, but liberalism may have actually been a forerunner of neo-Calvinism. Both didn’t like the word secular. Both expanded the kingdom. Both wanted to transform culture. Both were activist.

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  163. Darryl, yes, according to the biographies of both Kuyper and Bavink they had liberal influences first. But liberalism was in the process of abandoning confessionalism. Not so with neo-Calvinism (or New Schoolism). In fact, it’s because they are confessional that they are in the Calvinist camp. No liberal that I know of wants to be a Calvinist by Confession (perhaps by heritage as in Leith or Loetscher).

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  164. Darryl, it’s not all or nothing with respect to literalism. The parable of the talents suggests a differentiation of authority based on one’s stewardship. Some will sit at Jesus’s right and left (places of greater authority and honor. I don’t know what all that means but it does suggest that there will be such things. Maybe there will be continued cultural and linguistic differentiation to celebrate the diversity of Creation (tongues, tribes, nations). Perhaps some of that continues in the age to come. You don’t have to be a hyper-literalist to admit to these things. It’s sort of like recognizing the historical character of the early chapters of Genesis and being an evolutionist.

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  165. Darryl,

    The contention here, then, is that justification came late to debates in the Western Church. Protestants initiated those debates and made proposals. Rome rejected those proposals outright at least at Trent. But prior to Trent Rome had no official position on justification. Protestantism accordingly developed within Roman Catholicism, which developed from relations with churches in the East, which developed from the ministry of Jesus and the apostles in Jerusalem.

    Prior to reading this blog post just now, you had mentioned the above in this way, in a combox, I think, and I held on to the thought you put forth as I worked on understanding these “ins and outs.” I want to thank you for your labors here at OldLife and in the comboxes of other blogs. You never know who might be reading.

    Regards,
    Andrew

    PS Let’s see after I hit post if my html tags work…(I’m new).

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  166. The contention here, then, is that justification came late to debates in the Western Church.

    The contention here , is that little ol’ AB came late to all y’alls little party out here, but here I am (hello Jason Stellman, Bryan Cross, et al).

    Still workin’ on those long drives and straight putts, D.

    Don’t stop what you do because of us. I mean just read the com box section here with a pipe in hand. Crazay stuff, yo, history and all.

    I’m out. Lates.

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  167. The logic runs like this. Protestantism came late, not until the sixteenth century. Protestants believed that Rome was a false church and had begun to apostasize about the time that Augustine’s body was buried. This leaves a gap of almost 1,000 years, between the right-thinking early church and the right-thinking Reformation church. In between, allegedly, God withdrew from his saving plan and planet earth was without a witness to (not hope) but Christ — hence, ecclesiastical deism. This is, by the way, the argument that Thomas More used against William Tyndale, a subject of a couple of papers by (all about) me while in grad school.

    As effective as this argument might seem — and when I was studying More I found it intriguing — it is not very historical, at least in the way that people who regard the past as a distant country, a place not readily grasped, understand history. From a historical perspective, not to mention the way we understand ourselves, truths don’t simply fall out of the sky, pile up in neatly proportioned columns, steps, and arches, and remain intact for time immemorial. Instead, truths evolve (or develop if you don’t like Darwinian associations).

    I agree. And your personal history here fascinates me. I’ll be reading.

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