Let the Interpretation Resume

Or Jason Stellman has some ‘splainin’ to do.

Jason is still justifying his realignment by trotting out the familiar refrain that sola scriptura doesn’t solve anything, thus making Protestantism the road to ruin and mayhem.

For the confessional Presbyterian, the reason the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches is “not a [true] church” is that its theology disagrees with the interpretation of the Bible espoused by confessional Presbyterians, and therefore CREC pastors are not truly ordained and thus ”don’t have the sacraments.” But of course, this is completely circular: “Our view is that the marks of a true church include properly understanding the gospel [or, agreeing with our interpretation of the Bible concerning what the gospel is], and since the CREC falls short in this regard, it therefore fails to meet our criteria of what a true church must be.” But this is a perfect recipe — indeed a license — for anarchy and schism. Any fallible group of people can now gather together, decide what counts as a true church, and then dismiss from that category everyone else who disagrees with them.

This is why Sola Scriptura — even in its more churchly expressions — ultimately fails. As long as there’s some sincere, Bible-believing Christian who disagrees with the church on some issue, all that will result from an ecclesiastical decision on that issue (even from a church’s highest court) is a never-ending “yeah-huh!” / “nuh-uh!”, he said / she said dispute.

In fact, it’s not just that this may be the result, it’s that it must be, for the irresolvability of any theological controversy is built into the whole Protestant system from the get-go. So even if the proper formula is not Solo but Sola, the “A” at the end still stands for Anarchy.

If Protestants suffer from interpretive discord, what is the affliction that Roman Catholics experience when confronted with the statements of their interpretive authority? For instance, I wonder if Jason believes the following affirmations and denials from various popes (or does he have to explain them)?

From Boniface VIII (1305) on the church’s supreme power which includes wielding both swords:

We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: ‘Behold, here are two swords’ [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: ‘Put up thy sword into thy scabbard’ [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered for the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest.

However, one sword ought to be subordinated to the other and temporal authority, subjected to spiritual power. For since the Apostle said: ‘There is no power except from God and the things that are, are ordained of God’ [Rom 13:1-2], but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other.

From Nicholas V (1455) with global political power trying to arbitrate which Roman Catholic monarch gets to colonize the “new” world and vanquish the Saracens (i.e. Muslims):

The Roman pontiff, successor of the key-bearer of the heavenly kingdom and vicar of Jesus Christ, contemplating with a father’s mind all the several climes of the world and the characteristics of all the nations dwelling in them and seeking and desiring the salvation of all, wholesomely ordains and disposes upon careful deliberation those things which he sees will be agreeable to the Divine Majesty and by which he may bring the sheep entrusted to him by God into the single divine fold, and may acquire for them the reward of eternal felicity, and obtain pardon for their souls. This we believe will more certainly come to pass, through the aid of the Lord, if we bestow suitable favors and special graces on those Catholic kings and princes, who, like athletes and intrepid champions of the Christian faith, as we know by the evidence of facts, not only restrain the savage excesses of the Saracens and of other infidels, enemies of the Christian name, but also for the defense and increase of the faith vanquish them and their kingdoms and habitations, though situated in the remotest parts unknown to us, and subject them to their own temporal dominion, sparing no labor and expense, in order that those kings and princes, relieved of all obstacles, may be the more animated to the prosecution of so salutary and laudable a work.

Condemnations from Clement XI (1713) which repudiate the Augustinian convictions of the Jansenists:

41. All knowledge of God, even natural knowledge, even in the pagan philosophers, cannot come except from God; and without grace knowledge produces nothing but presumption, vanity, and opposition to God Himself, instead of the affections of adoration, gratitude, and love.

42. The grace of Christ alone renders a man fit for the sacrifice of faith; without this there is nothing but impurity, nothing but unworthiness.

43. The first effect of baptismal grace is to make us die to sin so that our spirit, heart, and senses have no more life for sin than a dead man has for the things of the world.

44. There are but two loves, from which all our volitions and actions arise: love of God, which does all things because of God and which God rewards; and the love with which we love ourselves and the world, which does not refer to God what ought to be referred to Him, and therefore becomes evi

Pius IX’s condemnation of the separation of church and state:

Others meanwhile, reviving the wicked and so often condemned inventions of innovators, dare with signal impudence to subject to the will of the civil authority the supreme authority of the Church and of this Apostolic See given to her by Christ Himself, and to deny all those rights of the same Church and See which concern matters of the external order. For they are not ashamed of affirming “that the Church’s laws do not bind in conscience unless when they are promulgated by the civil power; that acts and decrees of the Roman Pontiffs, referring to religion and the Church, need the civil power’s sanction and approbation, or at least its consent; that the Apostolic Constitutions,6 whereby secret societies are condemned (whether an oath of secrecy be or be not required in such societies), and whereby their frequenters and favourers are smitten with anathema — have no force in those regions of the world wherein associations of the kind are tolerated by the civil government; that the excommunication pronounced by the Council of Trent and by Roman Pontiffs against those who assail and usurp the Church’s rights and possessions, rests on a confusion between the spiritual and temporal orders, and (is directed) to the pursuit of a purely secular good; that the Church can decree nothing which binds the conscience of the faithful in regard to their use of temporal things; that the Church has no right of restraining by temporal punishments those who violate her laws; that it is conformable to the principles of sacred theology and public law to assert and claim for the civil government a right of property in those goods which are possessed by the Church, by the Religious Orders, and by other pious establishments.” Nor do they blush openly and publicly to profess the maxim and principle of heretics from which arise so many perverse opinions and errors. For they repeat that the “ecclesiastical power is not by divine right distinct from, and independent of, the civil power, and that such distinction and independence cannot be preserved without the civil power’s essential rights being assailed and usurped by the Church.” Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that “without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.” But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.

And Pius XII’s condemnation of evolution (complete with a reassertion of the loyalty that folks like Jason owe to the papapcy):

37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

(19. Although these things seem well said, still they are not free from error. It is true that Popes generally leave theologians free in those matters which are disputed in various ways by men of very high authority in this field; but history teaches that many matters that formerly were open to discussion, no longer now admit of discussion.

20. Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me”;[3] and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.)

Now maybe Jason agrees that the papacy holds both swords, the spiritual and temporal, or that the pope has power to grant the colonization of new lands around the world to European powers, or that something apart from grace prepares a believer for faith, or that church and state should be united, or that evolution is false and that the papacy has the power to rule on matters of science.

Or perhaps, he needs to interpret the very words of his source of supreme interpretation. Then again, he can always appeal to the theory and ignore historical reality.

102 thoughts on “Let the Interpretation Resume

  1. I think that Jason is painting with a pretty broad brush here:

    So even if the proper formula is not Solo but Sola, the “A” at the end still stands for Anarchy.

    The Protestants initially tried to reform Rome along biblical lines, but Rome emphatically refused this at Trent. While Sola Scriptura doesn’t necessarily solve the problems of divisions in the church, Rome hasn’t done much to biblically justify it’s position on a wide variety of matters, and so is left pointing to extra-biblical authority sources, such as tradition, or the charisma present in the magesterium.

    He also quickly dismisses the role of confessions in establishing a Protestant understanding of catholicity, which is Word centered, seeking to establish doctrines in accord to Scripture. The WCF doesn’t posit it’s subscribing bodies to be the “One True Church” as Rome seeks to do for itself, rather it acknowledges the the church in her various geographical and historical expressions has been “more or less pure”, and that it is possible for ecclesiastical bodies to so lack in purity to cease existing as a true church. So the confessionalists, in this case adherents to the WCF, is not calling the CREC a false church, rather, we claim simply that the CREC does not meet the standards of a pure church as articulated in our confessions (WCF 25), therefore we are not in communion with them. Whether or not the CREC is so apostate as to be a false church is not really in the purview of the FV debates, at least as I presently understand it. Their great danger is that they are not articulating the pure gospel as we confess it – to the degree that this represents a real danger to CREC members should be a matter for them to prayerfully consider, but whether or not they are a false church seems to be a judgment call we don’t have to make. All we need to do is determine where they meet the criteria of our confessions.

    Regardless, Rome’s rejection of Sola Scriptura hasn’t put all controversies to rest. In a sense Rome does something not altogether different than confessionalists do, determine who is “in” with Rome, and who isn’t. But we don’t anathematize those outside our confessional bounds, much less double back and call them “separated brethren” and then maintain that both pronouncements are equally true and binding

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  2. Catholicism always looks so good…until you actually learn about the history of the church and its magisterium. And then you realize that it is just as messy as Protestantism. Or to put it differently, Protestantism replicates the messiness that was already present within the Roman Catholic Church; we simply have forsaken loyalty to the bishop of Rome.

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  3. Can somebody tell me what the opc book of order says about your members (and/or your office-bearers) “taking the sacrament” in a congregation that won’t water baptize infants? Is this something which could be done occasionally but not ordinarily? I would imagine this decision is some place close to your decision on the Hodge-Thornwell debate about the validity of Roman Catholic water.

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  4. is not calling X is a false church, rather, we claim simply that X does not meet the standards of a pure church as articulated in our confessions (WCF 25)

    Thanks for this distinction, Jed. Seriously. I am all for distinctions. And I can see the distinction between being forced to answer the question (are we a church? yes or no? ) and not having to answer every question asked. When people tell us that we have created a situation in which we have no choice but to choose, we can choose not to choose or otherwise answer what they think we have to.

    As John Howard Yoder taught me, it’s not merely stalling to question the questions….

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  5. Maybe when Jason grows up he’ll realize that just because someone doesn’t claim to have the final authoritative word on the Christian faith, they might be speaking Biblical truth. Children want an unquestionable authority figure, adults learn to get by without one.

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  6. Ecclesiologically [?] speaking, the only doctrinal variations that are significant are those that produce schism. What with only a handful of Catholic sects and a billion members, and 30,000+ Protestant sects and not quite as many members, Jason Stellman has the better of the argument in both theory and practice. Under magisterial theory, form meets function, the Church’s [read: the Church’s hierarchy’s] authoritative interpretation of scripture is the only truth. One pronounces himself a heretic–the Church doesn’t need to. Aside from the occasional Mel Gibson “Old Catholic,” no normative claim on the Roman Church can reasonably have been made since the early Reformation.

    And so, on the whole, the Protestant sects didn’t tear off one-by-one from the Roman Church, but from each other. Therefore, noting RCC doctrinal inconsistences from century to century is not probative, any more than the Presbyterian Church [most of it anyway] is less the Presbyterian Church for ordaining gay bishops, unthinkable–unimaginable!–a scarce half-century ago.

    But this is a perfect recipe — indeed a license — for anarchy and schism. Any fallible group of people can now gather together*, decide what counts as a true church, and then dismiss from that category everyone else who disagrees with them.

    Now there might be an interesting argument to be made that some, most or all Protestant sects haven’t really undergone schism–they just set up taken different names, built separate churches, appointed elders, promulgated doctrine sets and ecclesiologies to minister to the various 30,000 flowers growing under the same Protestant sun. But I’m not sure who’s making it.
    _________

    *I would not rub a Calvinist’s nose in the execution of the semi-unTrinitarian Michael Servetus. [Stuff] happens.

    But the “co-founder” of Lutheranism, Philipp Melanchthon, conceded that once the Reformation toothpaste was out of the tube, such doctrinal drift was inevitable once the magisterium of the Roman Church was rejected–and once executing heretics become unpracticable by the sheer number of them alone, schism after schism became inevitable. This reality forms the core of Stellman’s argument–it’s not even a particularly theological one, just a reasonable one.

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  7. Is this really his argument? What has the papacy done about the Coptic, Orthodox, and other branches of Christianity that broke off from Rome prior to the reformation? Ok, they are heretics because the Pope or some council says so. But of course others disagree and go on their merry way. How is this logically different from protestantism other than the fact that the state doesn’t punish dissidents anymore. If not for the state, would the Catholic church enjoy the “unity” it enjoys today? It seems much more likely that sans a friendly emperor, Christianity would have continued to bifurcate throughout the middle ages as it has in America. I doubt a denomination’s theory about authority is as determinative as the power of the state to enforce an official line…maybe might makes right after all…

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  8. Darryl,

    Now maybe Jason agrees that …. Or perhaps, he needs to interpret …. Then again, he can always appeal to ….

    That your interlocutor might possibly agree with x, or that perhaps he needs to interpret y, or that he can always appeal to z, is not an argument. It is just hand-waving.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  9. Tom,

    The 30k Protestant denominational/organizational bodies is a number that RC’s like to throw around as evidence of the hopeless fractiousness of Protestantism. While fractiousness is certainly a problem, the 30k number is most likely a fabrication. Some of the bodies are separated simply by geography, others over minute doctrinal differences, and others over more significant differences.

    John Bugay has done some good work refuting this number over at Triablogue, I’ll try to dig up some specific citations if that will help. But, there’s probably no more than 25 significant divisions in Protestantism in terms of historical-doctrinal roots, much of the fragmentation has been as a result of the impact of modernism fracturing many of the mainline Protestant bodies, often sending orthodox parties into smaller, yet similar ecclesiastical bodies.

    This isn’t to say that RC arguments against Protestantism on the basis of ecclesiastical unity aren’t serious, just to say that some might be guilty of utilizing inflated stats to bolster their argument.

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  10. Mark:
    “It is my privilege as a minister of Christ to invite all who are right with God and his church, through faith in the Lord Jesus, to come to the Lord’s Table. If you have received Christ and are resting upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to you in the gospel, if you are a baptized and professing communicant member in good standing in a church that professes the gospel of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ, and if you live penitently and seek to walk in godliness before the Lord, then this Supper is for you, and I invite you in Christ’s name to eat the bread and drink the cup.”

    Many explain this in the shorthand “if you are a member in good standing of an evangelical church…”

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  11. Bryan, your claim of hand waving is ad hominem. It is also a denial of disagreements within the magisterium. Go ahead. Appeal to the development of doctrine and I’ll show you what Cardinal Newman thought of the Syllabus of Errors.

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  12. Bryan’s continued posturing is in and of itself compelling evidence that he’s all wet. Where else in a fallen world does one find such self-satisfied certainty that one’s position is logically unassailable? Maybe in high school geometry class.

    I know, it’s not his job to defend the logic of his own claim, just to point out the errors of others’ logical claims.

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  13. If one starts with the presupposition that one’s church cannot err where it really matters, then when one is confronted with history one can only say that (a) an error did not occur, (b) an error occurred but it did not really matter, (c) the presupposition is false. What other choices are available? Once Catholics are fully invested in their faith (c) is not an option, so all we are left with is playing games with them on (a) or (b).

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  14. if you are a baptized and professing communicant member in good standing in a church that professes the gospel of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ

    mark: I would think the last part is most important, I mean, “a church”, instead of “the church”. Some protestants have as much problem saying “a church” as they do “a covenant”. But certainly this means that anybody who is a member of an Arminian church or Roman Catholic should not communicate. Even if Arminians profess “grace”, what these churches claim is not the biblical gospel.

    I understand my original question goes both ways: since you will welcome credobaptists to your “administration of sacrament” (your charity), the credobaptists should reciprocate by welcoming paedobaptists to their “obeying the Lord’s command in the Lord’s supper” even if they don’t call it (because of ignorance or rebellion) the “sacrament”. After all, you don’t disagree that it is “commanded”, and you will call it “sacrament” for them.

    Of course, when you welcome as “baptized” and I accept, does my acceptance implicitly agree that you too are “baptized”? Many credobaptists have no problem with this anymore. But some of us still get off the bus about this.

    But we accepted yours, why don’t you accept ours? We also baptize those who already believe, when they come to us from paganism (or Arminianism or Romanism), so we do what you do, and “more besides”. At which point, some of us still get off the bus.

    To get back to my original question (which I have agreed you can refuse or ignore), Mike or Jed or anybody, it’s not about what you accepting credobaptists (even ones with newborn infants) to your “means of grace”. It was rather about the members of “the true church” not just visiting a credobaptist congregation once or twice a year, but about one of your members continuing to communicate in a “church” where infant water baptized is not done? Of course if this “church” accepts that you have been baptized, perhaps that is enough for you to know that they are part of the true church.

    I think we can agree that a person has been baptised by Christ with the Spirit without agreeing that they have obeyed the command concerning water.

    But who talks about “water baptism” these days. Don’t we all agree with the pope that baptism is just “baptism”? And even a biblicist must know that the Bible never says “water baptism”…..The distinction between water and baptism with Spirit must be…not Protestant, not confessional, but sectarian, heretical. Beware.

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  15. Tom,

    The 30k Protestant denominational/organizational bodies is a number that RC’s like to throw around as evidence of the hopeless fractiousness of Protestantism.

    Actually, I looked the number of Christian sects on my own. I don’t recall it being a Catholic source or any sectarian source atall. I subtracted the handful of Catholic sects and that left the rest.

    But if you think citing the number is too contentious or pejorative, should I just have softened it a bit with “hundreds?”

    In any case, I’ve been meditating on ecclesiology the past few days, so Darryl’s post here is timely for me. I was spurred by the question of how an elder of a dissident sect within his own denomination goes about charging a certain non-denominational Alaskan politician with “betraying the Gospel.”

    I honestly don’t know how it works. I mean who isn’t? I understand when they call Roman Catholics “idolators” or unitarian Christians of the Founding era and Mormons not even being Christians, but once the hairs are split down to “evangelical”–a term few agree on what it means and who is and who isn’t one–then “schism and anarchy” doesn’t seem an unfair charge, the war of all against all.
    _______________

    As for “disagreements within the magisterium,” there’s an essential difference between non-normative theology and outright heresy. Every change or development since the dawn of the Church left a winner and a loser, where the non-normative became the normative.

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  16. Bryan’s continued posturing is in and of itself compelling evidence that he’s all wet. Where else in a fallen world does one find such self-satisfied certainty that one’s position is logically unassailable? Maybe in high school geometry class.

    I know, it’s not his job to defend the logic of his own claim, just to point out the errors of others’ logical claims.

    There’s a lot of that in these things*. But I think perhaps Bryan just gave up and contents himself now of just stopping by to question the premise.

    *Where the ecclesiology question throws me. I guess you need to schism if your church starts ordaining gay bishops, but I don’t think everything has to be a dealbreaker. Even the Papists don’t insist that all normative theology is non-negotiable. [For instance, hell. Normative theology is that there is one; the Church prays that everyone will be saved and that it will be empty.]

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  17. Darryl, as to the question of what they’re afflicted with, I think it runs the gamut from disbelief and incredulity, to noumenal( CTC-whether they own it or not, Mortimer Adler) claims of coherence, to belief in magic.

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  18. D.G. Hart quoting Jason: So even if the proper formula is not Solo but Sola, the “A” at the end still stands for Anarchy.

    RS: This statement is simply absurd and grossly unbiblical. Either way Jason is not setting out the true formula of Sola Scriptura, but is instead butchering the intended meaning. Historical Protestants do not bow before Scripture and think of it as the authority, but instead think of this as SPECIAL REVELATION from God. In other words, the real authority of Scripture is God. It is Rome that sets out the way of anarchy because it will not submit to God and His authority and instead relies upon man-made methods and doctrines to get people to listen to it rather than Scripture. It is Rome that encourages anarchy because it teaches a false gospel and as such men do not bow to God with humbled hearts to His free gift of righteousness by grace alone through faith alone. It is Rome that encourages anarchy because it wants men to bow to it instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Rome that encourages anarchy because it wants to be able to give grace rather than grace being in the hands of a sovereign God to give as He pleases. It is Rome that encourages anarchy against Christ because it teaches people to listen to it rather than to Christ who speaks in His Word.

    When Rome took Trent I as a standard of truth which anathemized the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, it demonstrated what true anarchy was. Rome is the group that declared itself a non-Church when it anathemitized the Gospel and took authority to itself rather than bowing to the authority that God gives. Rome is guilty of true schism and not the Protestant Reformers. It is Rome that is leading its billions of followers in schism and in anarchy against the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Christ who has had all authority given to Him and not Rome. In taking authority to itself, Rome is guiding its members into the ultimate anarchy against the Lord of the universe. There were three in the Garden and one lied to two by deceiving them and lying to them about what God had said. Rome is continuing that dishonorable practice by getting people to turn from the voice of God in the Scriptures and listening to Rome which says, “Indeed, has God said”? Some of us hear that whisper and recognize it as familiar in its leading humans to anarchy against what God has said.

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  19. Attacking Rome doesn’t address Protestantism’s structural problems. By your own account, they are lost. Better to get the Reformation’s house in order.

    It is Rome that encourages anarchy because it teaches a false gospel

    Wow. This stuff makes John Hagee look absolutely chill. No wonder there are so few of you. I see the Orthodox Presbyterian Church claims only 30k followers. Not “catholic” as in “universal,” you must admit. Are all of Darryl’s followers like this or are you just the vanguard?

    Rome is guilty of true schism and not the Protestant Reformers. It is Rome that is leading its billions of followers in schism and in anarchy against the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Well, 1.2 billion, which since it represents over 1/2, puts the onus of “schism” on the Reformationists–esp considering how many, um, hundreds* of schisms they’ve had from each other.

    ________
    *Better, Erik? 😉

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  20. TVD,

    “schism and anarchy” doesn’t seem an unfair charge, the war of all against all.

    I understand this problem, and when I think on matters of ecclesiology, I am not sure how one cannot be at least slightly troubled at the divisions in the church. There are no easy solutions, even Rome, for all of it’s claims to unity and antiquity, only manages to keep things together with monarchical power structures that demand submission to the magesterium with one’s soul imperiled by landing outside of Rome. The divisions amongst Protestants have many complicated origins which I won’t delve into here. However, amongst confessionally minded Protestants I am not sure there is any way around them between believing 1) in Scripture as the sole arbiter of all theological questions, and 2) freedom of conscience.

    For me, Rome is simply out of the question, as I find the whole notion of the Papacy, not to mention its checkered history, as repugnant. So, I see the confession of one “holy catholic church” as an article of faith, acknowledging the painful realities of division, but also the necessity to join myself to this church – entailing deciding on which local and denominational expression seems to best embody this belief, knowing that there are always alternatives and arguments to be made for other ecclesiastical bodies. As a matter of conscience I hold to the WCF, and belong to a church that holds it as our confessional standard. As for the divisions in the church, they are real, and quite deep, yet not beyond the power of God to redress. Personally, the only time I believe the church will achieve both visible and invisible unity is when Christ has returned to claim his own, and vanquish all sin, then all the divisions that beset the church militant will give way to the perfect unity of the church triumphant.

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  21. Thx, Jed. My own ecumenicalism is more built on fallibilism than a Barney-type pluralism. Viva la difference, always be working toward and open to the truth. Was the Reformation wrong on every single thing it questioned or demurred upon? Of course not.

    Is it right about everything? Well, by definition it can’t be because there are 30,000 100s of reformations of the Reformation. Which is why I’m not going near the Papist-bashing. The Reformation needs to get its own house in order–but it’s looking increasingly impossible. Even each denomination is looking more an example of theological entropy [which again is Stellman’s argument].

    I do think that the Reformation, esp in its early days, didn’t always understand what it was reforming, and further that outright schism was not the only way to achieve the reforms it sought. At this point, push come to shove between joining the Romish or the American mainline, y’d have a better chance of reforming the RCC than the NCC.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/08/001-the-death-of-protestant-america-a-political-theory-of-the-protestant-mainline-19

    Which makes it all the stranger that, somewhere around 1975, the main stream of Protestantism ran dry. In truth, there are still plenty of Methodists around. Baptists and Presbyterians, too—Lutherans, Episcopalians, and all the rest; millions of believing Christians who remain serious and devout. For that matter, you can still find, ­soldiering on, some of the institutions they established in their Mainline glory days: the National Council of Churches, for instance, in its God Box up on New York City’s Riverside Drive, with the cornerstone laid, in a grand ceremony, by President Eisenhower in 1958. But those institutions are corpses, even if they don’t quite realize that they’re dead. The great confluence of Protestantism has dwindled to a trickle over the past thirty years, and the Great Church of America has come to an end.

    And that leaves us in an odd situation, unlike any before. The death of the Mainline is the central historical fact of our time: the event that distinguishes the past several decades from every other ­period in American history. Almost every one of our current political and cultural oddities, our contradictions and obscurities, derives from this fact: The Mainline has lost the capacity to set, or even significantly influence, the national vocabulary or the national self-understanding.

    I would think that OPC types would agree that it now follows them. In that respect, the more interesting–and scary–part of 2K comes to bear, not the church ruling the state, but the other way around.

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  22. I wonder if this place has elements of the true church.

    http://www.mbird.com/2013/04/mockingbird-bringing-you-the-gospel-pt-24/

    Tim Furry reviewing Radner’s A Brutal Unity: Radner’s approach is to address how the Church herself has intensified and aided violence in the centuries since the Reformation. As a result, Radner must engage William Cavanaugh’s argument regarding religious violence and modernity

    Radner argues that Cavanaugh has not taken the church’s material history seriously enough and in doing so risks making the Church a sideshow in God’s providential movement in history. Radner does neglect to mention that Cavanaugh addresses St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, albeit rather briefly on less than half a page, in an earlier essay. However, Radner’s most trenchant counterargument to Cavanaugh should not be minimized and has little to do with the subsequent wars of religion in post-Reformation Europe. Instead, Radner wants to discuss 20th genocide in Rwanda and Germany. He thinks that Cavanaugh’s view of “religion” cannot but fail to account for these historical events (see pp. 23-24) and criticizes Cavanaugh from several angles. .

    Radner ultimately concludes that due to the “embodied…religious corporate structures and their message” in Rwanda understanding genocide there requires one to use the language of religious violence (38). In fact, it would be “irresponsible not to use it” (38).

    Radner does distinguish between religion causing violence and religious division cohering with violence: “the relationship between Christian division and violence is not so much causal as it is cognate, ‘germane,’ consanguineous…religious antipathies of ecclesial fracture, which permitted lines of identification and contrast to form along ultimate claims, attached themselves to and re-created and energized existing or nascent lines of antagonism, whose result was destructively explosive” (67). The case of Rwanda is Radner’s argument of this reality, along with National Socialism in 20th century Germany.

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  23. Tom now joins Mark is saying lots of things that kinda sorta sound learned to me, but not to the point that I ever really understand what they are trying to say. Reminds me of my brother-in-law. I just nod and say uh-huh a lot.

    No way Tad is going to have any clue.

    Add to Mark & Tom…

    D.G., Zrim, Mikelmann, Jed & Sean who I pretty much always understand and agree with,

    Richard, Doug, and Old Bob who I pretty much always understand and disagree with,

    and Bryan who never really says anything so who knows.

    Like

  24. Erik,

    No way Tad is going to have any clue.

    I think that just managing to brush his only three teeth without drowning in his own drool is an accomplishment.

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  25. Erik, you don’t understand that the natural response of a Reformed dude to being asked about his children (and grandchildren) attending a credobaptist church (where no infant baptism is allowed) is to answer the question by saying: well we always offer the credobaptists to join us more catholic folk….

    You get the pecking order? That patronizing presumption that–to begin with, we are the true church, and in charity to your lack of knowledge and to your not having yet caught up with us, we will say you also are true church….and the Arminians, and the Romanists, as long as you all keep it to yourselves…Who knows, it could even be true that some your own Reformed office-bearers are in reality Arminians or even folks who teach a future justification by UNION with what Christ is going to do in us…..

    But,Erik, if it’s true simply that I can’t communicate, then of course there’s nothing for you to consider.

    If your seed are only one generation from being credobaptist (like many of you were raised), perhaps it’s time to to (half-way) back to a little older school….

    Think Stoddard, not Edwards.

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  26. Mark,

    It wasn’t any particular post I couldn’t understand. It’s all of them. It could just be me, though. If others are getting it don’t change anything on my account.

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  27. Mark, I read your question in haste on my phone, hence the unreponsive quote. I don’t think our standards directly address taking sacraments elsewhere.

    There are a number of ways other churches are described. There are churches of like faith and practice that I take to be a group probably a liittle wider than NAPARC. Then there are churches not of like faith and practice that I would understand to include baptistic churches. These descriptions are in the context of where members are going to from the local church, and whether they may be transferred or if the Session should be trying to dissuade them.

    Our Form of Government includes the following:

    “4. The visible unity of the Body of Christ, though not altogether destroyed, is greatly obscured by the division of the Christian church into different groups or denominations. In such denominations Christians exercise a fellowship toward each other in doctrine, worship, and order that they do not exercise toward other Christians. The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error, and some have gravely departed from apostolic purity; yet all of these which maintain through a sufficient discipline the Word and sacraments in their fundamental integrity are to be recognized as true manifestations of the church of Jesus Christ. All such churches should seek a closer fellowship, in accordance with the principles set forth above.”

    The issue of members taking the Lord’s Supper elsewhere is rarely an issue. It makes the most sense to have a standard reciprocal with the quote I earlier supplied – “in a church that professes the gospel of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ.”

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  28. Tom now joins Mark is saying lots of things that kinda sorta sound learned to me, but not to the point that I ever really understand what they are trying to say. Reminds me of my brother-in-law. I just nod and say uh-huh a lot.

    and Bryan who never really says anything so who knows.

    Perhaps it’s you?

    It’s so hard to gauge–esp among a crowd of self-selected insularity such as this–just what is painfully common knowledge and what’s virgin territory. Part of why I’m here, to find out.

    As for Bryan Cross, I noticed him here awhile back. He appears to be a Papist who agrees with Bishop Fulton Sheen of a half century ago

    “”There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

    Protestant sects have an annoying habit of defining themselves [or puffing themselves] in terms of their differences with Roman Catholicism. Mr. Cross seems to stop by to correct the record on Catholicism–or at least he used to, until he gave up. But I could be wrong. What I do know is that what with where the Protestant mainline is heading these days, those battles half a thousand years ago over the nature of grace or the Real Presence seem pretty moot.

    As for Jason Stillman, the RCC’s own internal inconsistencies affect his argument not a whit, his personal conversion [or reversion] to Papism affects his argument not a whit, and no one’s so far laid a glove on it. There’s a structural problem with Protestantism’s rejection of the magisterium. Even to take its part, its end result is that instead of 2 interpretations of scripture, the correct [Reformed] and wrong [Catholic] ones, we have the one correct one and 30,000 an infinity of wrong ones.

    Oy.

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  29. Tom, but what about Rome’s structural problems? It was a global empire before the British captured the world. It is now reduced to 900 square acres. And the popes still think they have as much power as Boniface VIII. Can you say discrepancy? Sure you can.

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  30. Tom, the structural problem of Rome is the same as Protestantism’s. They believe the pope is infallible and the sure and certain and infallible interpreter of all truth. Then you find the Jesuits. Doh!

    Protestants believe the Word and Spirit are infallible and interpret all truth. Then you find the Methodists. Doh!

    Our theory is just as theoretical as theirs. But ours actually involves God. Theirs doesn’t.

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  31. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
    Tom, but what about Rome’s structural problems?
    ____

    Darryl, I’m thinking/hoping this isn’t intended as a principled reply to my comment from 9:59 above, where I point out that even if Rome’s own problems are stipulated, that doesn’t affect Jason Stillman’s argument a whit.

    A discussion of the problems of magisterium is a worthy one, but so far, the Reformation’s theological anarchy has made an even bigger hash of it.

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  32. Tom – Perhaps it’s you?

    Erik – Very well could be. What happens is I read people who write short posts, get what they are saying, and keep reading all their posts, even when they are long.

    Then there are people who write long posts, I don’t get them the first few times, so then I don’t read them or only skim them. It’s a self-reinforcing bias.

    Then there’s Richard who I always try not to read unless he’s talking about Catholics.

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  33. Tom, the structural problem of Rome is the same as Protestantism’s. They believe the pope is infallible and the sure and certain and infallible interpreter of all truth.

    Not exactly. The claim to papal infallibility goes back only to the late 1800s, and then only on faith and morals, and then only when the pope speaks ex cathedra, invoking infallibility, which they’ve seldom done.

    Is this all new to you or is a discussion you’ve had 1000 times? Because this is where the tall weeds start and exactly what Bishop Sheen was talking about.

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  34. Tom – What I do know is that what with where the Protestant mainline is heading these days, those battles half a thousand years ago over the nature of grace or the Real Presence seem pretty moot.

    Erik – Mainline? They’ve been dying for decades. Catholics have to worry about evangelicals and Pentecostals, especially among Latinos where they have made great inroads into what used to be unquestioning Catholics.

    The oddest thing about CTC is how they focus their “ministry” on Reformed people. Why go after the hardest people to convert?

    Time for you to show your cards and tell us what your church membership (or lack thereof) is.

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  35. Tom quoting Fulton Sheen – “There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

    Erik – So are we debating with Sheen’s definition of the Catholic Church or Called to Communion’s definition? I highly doubt they are the same. You’ll need to enlighten us on Sheen’s

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  36. So are we debating with Sheen’s definition of the Catholic Church or Called to Communion’s definition? I highly doubt they are the same.

    I’m not debating atall, Erik. There have been many things I’ve run across from Darryl Hart that I like very much. It’s the polemics I don’t think are so solid, or necessary. My understanding is that affirmation is what makes Christianity go, so what you reject is of secondary importance, if any atall.

    But if it must be a debate, then the Reformers should have a full understanding of what they’re Reforming, which in this case requires as thorough a knowledge of the Roman Church as the pope himself, or at least Bishop Sheen’s. Such a thoroughness is not in evidence. As they say, he who knows only his side of a debate knows neither one.

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  37. Richard,
    As a recent Reform Christian who loves Christ and knows I can’t save myself apart from the Gospel of Christ and who is now moving near two years in communion with my Bishop who is in communion with Rome; I still can say if it isn’t the Lord of us all who brought me here… then to hell with Rome and I’ll fight til I die to keep one more person joining her communion. But if it is I’ll be burned to bits before I leave the vision God has given me in the fullness of his Church and all I have learned in her arms from the faithful children who have God feed in her bosom. God in Christ chose a bride and said “do not stop the little children” from coming to Him and that we “must become like children” to enter His kingdom. We must be learners(disciples) of the Lord. Therefor Christ trained and sent teachers. Which I can’t make sense of the God I’ve know so well, having me go though finding myself such a fool for previously hating the Catholic Church without it being the leadings of our Lord in union with the scriptures, which we both love, who has and is teaching me humility in the truth. I have not and will not abandon the Word of His saving power and call. His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. I can not and shall not work my way to heaven, nor could I have come to Christ with out Him and His grace.
    Pease don’t assume Catholics are scriptural and doctrinal idiots who have abandon the love of Christ and the saving truth of the Gospel, because we disagree with your current understandings, unless you can convince me and yourself I am called to be your disciple instead of a disciple of Christ. Or, at lest prove I have abandon the God who has said He will lead me and not allow me to be snatched from His hand. Otherwise, let my Good Shepard care for me and be accountable for my instruction and training preparing me for entry into His Heavenly Jerusalem. I don’t mean to be harsh with my words, but you present your ideas as if I must just be stupid to be Catholic. I don’t think that is the charity with which Christ calls us to, or the love with which we might come to understand each other and at least be able to talk about our differences with respect. I don’t even know you, but I assume you must try and understand everything you can to the ability and opportunity God has graced you with. I really am nobody to your world, but I do hope for the sake of your future you will learn to consider your words with the belief that as a Christian you represent Christ to all people.
    Hoping for more a more charitable response and continual blessings on you,
    Mike

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  38. Tom – But if it must be a debate, then the Reformers should have a full understanding of what they’re Reforming, which in this case requires as thorough a knowledge of the Roman Church as the pope himself, or at least Bishop Sheen’s. Such a thoroughness is not in evidence. As they say, he who knows only his side of a debate knows neither one.

    Erik – How can you even evaluate that unless you yourself have such knowledge of the Roman Catholic Church?

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  39. Michael,

    How can you be a “Reform Christian” and have a bishop who is in communion with Rome? What does that even mean?

    What is your source for truth? The Bible? The teachings of the Catholic Church? Both? What do you do when they disagree?

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  40. Protestants believe the Word and Spirit are infallible and interpret all truth. Then you find the Methodists. Doh!

    Our theory is just as theoretical as theirs. But ours actually involves God. Theirs doesn’t.

    “Theirs,” both via the papacy and for 2000 years the magisterium, maintains that The Church is a living organism that can and must interpret the Word of God, guided by the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, part of the Trinity [God]. Are we actually having this conversation? We gotta clean this up if we’re to proceed together. I’m not going to argue that it’s the cosmic truth in a forum such as this, but it’s internally valid and consistent.

    [Yes, we anticipate the objection that it’s a “living constitutionalism” of the sort that conservatives hate, but even the judicial liberals who have stretched the Constitution like so much Silly Putty can’t claim omniscience on the part of the Founders when they wrote it, nor the Holy Spirit [God] or even the ghostly Founders providing supernatural guidance.]

    [Although they sort of try. But that’s outside our scope here.]

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  41. Tom – It’s the polemics I don’t think are so solid, or necessary

    Erik – Do you know what you call a theological blog without polemics? A blog nobody goes to.

    If they weren’t solid I wouldn’t be here.

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  42. TVD quoting RS: It is Rome that encourages anarchy because it teaches a false gospel

    TVD: Wow. This stuff makes John Hagee look absolutely chill.

    RS: Ouch squared. C’mon, you don’t have to bring up Hagee.

    TVD: No wonder there are so few of you. I see the Orthodox Presbyterian Church claims only 30k followers. Not “catholic” as in “universal,” you must admit. Are all of Darryl’s followers like this or are you just the vanguard?

    RS: I am not a follower of Dr. Hart and am not Presbyterian. Though I am not Brian, I do know that appealing to greater numbers is not a great way to arrive at the truth. Jesus did say (Luke 13)m when asked if few would be saved, that just a few would be. ” And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

    TVD quoting RS: Rome is guilty of true schism and not the Protestant Reformers. It is Rome that is leading its billions of followers in schism and in anarchy against the Lord Jesus Christ.

    TVD: Well, 1.2 billion, which since it represents over 1/2, puts the onus of “schism” on the Reformationists–esp considering how many, um, hundreds* of schisms they’ve had from each other.

    RS: But of course the Gospel of grace alone is the real issue in this. Rome declared all who believe in justification by grace alone through faith alone anathema. The Reformers said the Church stood or fell with that teaching. Only one of those can possibly be right. Regardless of how many “divisions” people have over relatively minor issues, they are not necessarily guilty of schism as long as the believe the Gospel. When group A leaves group B over the Gospel, that is not schism but the clean coming out from the unclean as Scripture commands.

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  43. Thanks, Mike, for your answer. I appreciate that most folks don’t think much about water baptism when it comes to the question if they should participate in a table.

    I can’t say from “an evangelical church” because I am not “evangelical”. That’s because I am not Arminian. I don’t claim to have been converted by God’s sovereignly using the lies of Billy Graham Arminianism in God’s holy and effectual call. That would be even worse than claiming to know that an infant was born regenerate.

    James 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

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  44. Erik,
    Sorry for the wording confusion there.
    As in meaning, I was previously Protestant in the strand of Reformed tradition. But, I would also say similar to your thought, yes I am still a Reformed Christian in the sense that I will always be reforming to the more clear understanding that Jesus guides me into, as will the Church. The Truth given never changes but our adherence to it will ever be increased by the loving grace of the teaching and correcting hand of God though Christ. I didn’t and will not give up the essential love of the Scriptures and the love and Christ and devotion to Him and compassion for others taught to me in that background which was used by the providential hand of our loving Creator to draw me closer to Him which includes my now full communion parallel with Rome and the Bishops of the Church, but namely and primarily with my Bishop in my area. Semper reformanda est, because we follow the unmoved mover.

    Hope that clarifies a bit,
    Mike

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  45. MichaelTX: Richard, As a recent Reform Christian who loves Christ and knows I can’t save myself apart from the Gospel of Christ and who is now moving near two years in communion with my Bishop who is in communion with Rome; I still can say if it isn’t the Lord of us all who brought me here… then to hell with Rome and I’ll fight til I die to keep one more person joining her communion.

    RS: What do you mean by a recent Reform Christian? Do you mean that you were Reformed in the past?

    What do you mean when you say you love Christ?

    If you say you are saved by the Gospel of Christ, then why are you in communion with Rome when they say that salvation is not of Christ and His grace alone?

    MichaelTX: Hoping for more a more charitable response and continual blessings on you,

    RS: Michael, Jesus who was love had searing words for the Pharisees. I would not be faithful to your soul and others if I was more “charitable” toward Rome. Michael, Rome does not teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone. Rome does not teach the Gospel of grace alone through faith alone. I think I want the best for those who are Roman Catholic, but I cannot say that what Rome teaches is anything less than the anti-Gospel. I will try to answer more tomorrow. But until then, may God give you all spiritual blessings in Christ.

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  46. Richard,
    Sorry but your wording here is not what the scriptures call for:
    When group A leaves group B over the Gospel, that is not schism but the clean coming out from the unclean as Scripture commands.
    Though that passage does call us out of the world and friendship with the world and its idolatress ways unto the living temple of God and to not be yoked with unbelievers.

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  47. Tom,

    You say Rome us “internally valid and consistent”. The problem with that is, part of Rome’s doctrine is that the truth of the Roman Catholic faith can be discerned merely on the basis of logic and history. For them to only point to their own internal validity and consistency as the grounds of faith would be fideistic, which they have condemned.

    Now how can you say that are “internally valid and consistent” unless you agree with them on this point?

    For more details read this debate (which did not go well for Bryan Cross):

    https://oldlife.org/2013/02/the-limits-of-unlimited-authority/

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  48. Richard,
    For some of your question I refer you back to my response to the similar questions from Erik a half hour or so back.
    To your other I will respond below and I thank you that I now hear you talking to me as a person not some anonymous idiot Catholic who hates our King and His superabundant grace.

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  49. Michael,

    You and Bryan Cross appear to be at opposite ends of some kind of Catholic spectrum — he’s on the “logical” end, you’re on the “mystical’ end. Richard will make biblical arguments to you as to why Catholicism is false, but if you are fixated on relationships, feelings, and experiences they may not resonate with you. Relationships, feelings, and experiences are fleeting, however. A Book that is thousands of years old is much less so.

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  50. Richard,
    To begin with I am no theologian, nor yours or anyone’s pastor apart from my scriptural exhortation to love wife as Christ loves the Church and the fatherly example and authority to teach and instruct our four children which God calls me to. Therefore, take my words as a fellow of our common humanity, men made in God’s image called to do unto each other as we would have the other do to us.
    I respect a man who believes something to be wrong and stands against it with all God gives him. That is what I by God’s grace would do too. Therefore, I respect you from what little I have read from you. All I ask is that you would do the same to me, but that is not a necessary requirement I have. Nor has Christ called me to make that a requirement for my respecting you. He respected and loved me when I would have been the one to crucify Him with the rest of us rebels.

    So to my first concern with what you have ask me. I most definitely, as a faithful Catholic instructed by the Church, know apart from Christ I am and will be lost and never meet the glories for which I was made, namely union and fellowship with our beloved Maker. Do we have different understandings of the functionality and application of Christ’s grace and mercy to us as Catholic Christians? Yes. At least with some Protestants. Do I work my way to heaven? No. Do I know I will get to heaven? No. There is possibly one of our differences. I believe the rebel sinner in me can still rebel even at the moment of death. Does that being me comfort? Yes and No. Why? I know it will not be because God has not given me all I need to come to Him. His grace and mercy is sufficient. It will be because He loves so much that He leaves me to choose to abandon Him if I wish. Did I come to Him just because I wanted to? No. I am a sinner in need of His grace, without which I will not and could not come to Him.

    So, I hope with just the few question and answers above that you can see that it is not so cut and dry as to the fact of a Catholic who is faithful to the teaching of the Church not living and being saved by grace alone through Christ alone by true faith alone.
    Hope we can talk about it a bit more tomorrow.
    Peace and blessing on you,
    Mike

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  51. Erik,
    You make me laugh. Though, me and Bryan are a bit different in our approach to dialog. Nothing per sa wrong with his way. It is just I am not Bryan. Though I am quite a logical person. I just don’t talk or seek to lay out my thoughts in philosophical form. I most definitely wouldn’t say I follow my feelings though. I enjoy the pleasures of hell. The difference is I know the foolishness there is in that.

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  52. Erik,
    It is kind of funny, me and Bryan have been in the same blogs chatting several times. Yet, we never have interacted once. Just been that way so far I guess. I respect his knowledge and have learned some things from him. I just don’t interact with folks the way he does. God has different callings on us all. Gos’s people are God’s people. He is accountable to Christ for his heart and I for mine. I do not see him acting in sin, so I would charitable receive his counsel if it is true. Same as I would with you or anybody else in here or elsewhere.

    Blessings on you all,
    Mike

    Still smiling. Me a mystic? Funny Erik

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  53. You say Rome us “internally valid and consistent”. The problem with that is, part of Rome’s doctrine is that the truth of the Roman Catholic faith can be discerned merely on the basis of logic and history. For them to only point to their own internal validity and consistency as the grounds of faith would be fideistic, which they have condemned.

    There are a lot of things that are valid and internally consistent that still aren’t true. I don’t do truth claims in fora like this if only because no one is qualified to serve as judge.

    For more details read this debate (which did not go well for Bryan Cross):

    Sez you. 😉

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  54. Tom, and I hope your reference to the Reformation’s theological anarchy includes an awareness that Lutherans and Reformed Protestants still have the gospel. Check mate.

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  55. Tom, if infallibility is as limited as that (which I have heard plenty of times), then why does any Roman Catholic care or attend to all the other stuff the papacy says and does? Do people follow just in case he speaks ex cathedra? Or could it be that the limits of infallibility is a way to explain away all the times the papacy overreached? Do you really think Boniface VIII did not believe he was asserting infallible truth in Unam Sanctam? Was it just pious advice?

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  56. Tom, if you don’t like polemics then what are you doing here? Are you sure you’re not Old Bob Morris?

    As for knowing what the Reformers were reforming, I think they understood the papacy better than you. You do understand, right, that the papacy claimed to the temporal and spiritual lord of all of planet earth, and then European politics finally eroded the papacy’s temporal claims such that they got down sized to Vatican City when Italy united in 1870. And lo and behold, claims of infallibility became dogma at the same time that the Vatican lost its temporal clout. It decided to double down on spiritual power because it was the lap dog of European politics.

    And what the Reformers understood (and Francis may as well) is that the papacy was more interested in worldly affairs than the care of souls.

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  57. Michael, then why do the Callers and Stellman (great name for a band) make it seem like Protestants are stupid to be Protestants — all those charismatics and no-church evangelicals? What is good for the goose is good for the gander, right? I never once get the sense from the Callers and Stellman that Roman Catholicism has its own problems and that those problems to to the very matters that are supposed to make Roman Catholicism grand — namely, the bloated claims and politics of the papacy for most of 1400 years. If Protestants knew better the dark side of the papacy, it would give new meaning to the audacity of the papacy.

    For instance, do you know about the case of Edgardo Mortara?

    On the evening of June 23, 1858, in Bologna, papal police broke into the home of a six-year-old Jewish child, Edgardo Mortara, and snatched him from his distraught and bewildered parents. According to Inquisition authorities in Rome, the family’s Catholic housekeeper testified that she had had Edgardo secretly baptized when he fell ill at the age of one. The kidnappers had the law on their side, for the abduction of Edgardo, which was the most infamous example of several such cases in nineteenth-century Italy, was sanctioned by canon law, which maintained that a child once baptized was forbidden to be reared in a Jewish home. Edgardo was spirited away to the Catechumens and his Catholicization began immediately. Frantic efforts to have the child released came to naught; his parents were repeatedly told, however, that they could be reunited with their son provided they themselves converted. Despite the storm of international protest, both popular and diplomatic, Pius IX refused to relent and in fact raised Edgardo as his own “son.” Pio Edgardo Mortara joined the priesthood in 1873. A celebrated preacher, he failed, despite consistent efforts, to induce his parents to convert. Mortara died in a Belgian abbey on March 11, 1940.

    Beyond the immediate family tragedy occasioned by the kidnapping, the event had profound historical implications. Men such as Count Camillo Cavour, the architect of Italian unification, and Napoleon III of France, both of whom sought to destroy the temporal authority of the Papal States, used the affair to agitate against Rome. Protestants across Europe and the United States were incensed by the injustice and mobilized against the obscurantism of the Catholic Church. Both the failure of world Jewry’s protests to free the boy and the abduction itself only underscored Jewish vulnerability. The Mortara Affair made Jews aware of the need for a central body to represent their interests. In 1860 in Paris they founded the Alliance Israélite Universelle (Universal Jewish Alliance). Its motto, taken from the Talmud, was “All Israel is responsible for one another.” The organization actively sought to combat discrimination against Jews wherever it occurred. When Pius IX was elected pope in 1846, liberal Catholic circles had hoped that Pius would lead a liberalizing trend and reverse the conservative thrust of his predecessor, Gregory IX. Pius’s first two years fulfilled their expectations but the political upheavals of 1848 saw him reverse policy, and his thirty-two-year-long pontificate, the longest in Church history, waged a relentless battle against the forces of modernity. The Mortara Affair is emblematic of this stance, as was Pius’s issuance of the Syllabus of Errors in 1864, which, among other things, condemned freedom of speech and religious tolerance. In September 2000, Pope John Paul II beatified Pius IX.

    The kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara was not the act of an all-powerful church. Rather, it was a last-gasp effort to assert its shrinking temporal authority. While Edgardo was lost to his family and community, the long-term effect of the abduction was to diminish the power of the Papacy, for it galvanized those forces promoting liberalism, nationalism, Italian unification, and anticlericalism. In 1870 Italian troops entered Rome and the temporal power of the popes, which had lasted for a thousand years, came to an end.

    If you want this to stop, why not ask the Callers and Stellman to find other targets?

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  58. Tom, your statement about the magisterium is not historically accurate. To be internally valid, it needs to involve earlier generations of the magisterium who asserted precisely this. The history of the church prior to roughly 1100 does not include this understanding of Rome even by Rome itself. Your claim is a later one, read back into the “sources.”

    As you say, are we actually having this conversation?

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  59. MichaelTX, you gotta love Vatican 2. Back before that council, your fellowship with the Bishop of Rome would have required much more loyalty and submission than your personal quest. I don’t even think the Callers and Stellman would approve of such lone ranger Roman Catholicism.

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  60. DGHart,
    I do love Vatican II, but I don’t think it is for the reasons you seem to think. Most of my personal reading and understanding of the Catholic Church came from studying pre-Vatican II works. Mainly because I am a broke father of four with internet and most pre-1933 works are free. If I can do it with out spending the cash then I will. Some of my favoriate reading came out more than a hundred years ago in France, Germany and England. Sorry, I just don’t see the rupture in teachings of the Church which you assert. Are the sacraments still the sacraments? Are the Holy Orders still the orders? Are the priests still the priests sent out by their Bishops in fellowship with Rome? Are the prayers of the Church still the basic prayers now in local vernacular? Yes. I just don’t see the break in the teaching of Church that you do and nor do most Catholics. Though, I will not doubt that many have taken the opportunity to seek to dismantle the Church from within by the idea you present. Judas also sought to betray Christ from within the sheepfold. We will always have a Judas. Christ chose him too.
    Peace,
    Mike

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  61. For clarity,
    I most definitely don’t think Protestants are stupid and I don’t think Catholics in general would think that. But if you feel that Jason or others act in such away that makes you feel that the do, go to them privately and tell them. God willing you will gain a brother. If not take it to his or their elders.
    Peace,
    Mike

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  62. Oh Hart,
    By the way, I am not a lone ranger Catholic. There is no such thing. I am willing to have any of my words corrected by the Scriptures or the teaching authority of the Church. It’s either His Church and Word or it is mine or possibly the theoretical lone ranger Christian or Catholic you speak of.
    Enjoy the day,
    Mike

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  63. Tvd,

    Darryl exhausted much of the response, but I’m not sure internal coherence means what you think it means when in order to uphold it, RC apologists have to engage a hermenuetic of coherence and continuity not only when assessing their philosophical and theological underpinnings but more incredulously when their faith claims eventually reach the touchstones of the biblical and historical record. It’s one thing to draw circles on a chalkboard, it’s a whole ‘nother to reconcile the faith to the sacred text and early church history. Most RC’s know the difference and were relieved for the revealing of the ‘spirit of Vat II hermenuetic’ including the crafters of the document, that was until Modernity turned out to be an uncooperative mistress.

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  64. Tom – “There are a lot of things that are valid and internally consistent that still aren’t true. I don’t do truth claims in fora like this if only because no one is qualified to serve as judge.”

    Erik – Valid – a : well-grounded or justifiable : being at once relevant and meaningful
    b : logically correct

    True – a (1) : being in accordance with the actual state of affairs (2) : conformable to an essential reality

    Valid and true kinda sound like the same thing.

    Gosh, if we can’t establish truth without an ultimate judge, maybe we do need a Pope.

    But then the Bible tells us that God will be our judge.

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  65. Tom – (quoting Erik) For more details read this debate (which did not go well for Bryan Cross):

    Sez you.

    Erik – Cite for me another example of Bryan putting aside attacks on the other side’s logic and shifting to accusations that the other side is being uncharitable.

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  66. Say a Martian makes contact with you and tells you he would like to visit planet Earth in order to evaluate human religion, specifically Christianity. You respond that you will send him two books to read ahead of time in order to aid him on his mission: The Bible and Machen’s “Christianity and Liberalism”. He reads them and arrives shortly thereafter.

    Upon his arrival does he have any problem seeing how the Roman Catholic Church and liberal, mainline Protestantism differ from biblical Christianity?

    Does he not conclude that most of the remaining Christian churches, while disagreeing on many important points, have much in common in at least trying to be biblical?

    Is he not impressed with Confessional Reformed & Lutheran Churches that spell out in detail what they believe and why in their Confessions so he can link their beliefs back to the Bible?

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  67. Michael, why does the church talk more about the dignity of the human person than the sinfulness of the human person and the need for Christ?

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  68. MichaelTX: But if it is I’ll be burned to bits before I leave the vision God has given me in the fullness of his Church

    RS: We could argue about visions, but Scripture is a much safer guide.

    MichaelTX: and all I have learned in her arms from the faithful children who have God feed in her bosom. God in Christ chose a bride and said “do not stop the little children” from coming to Him and that we “must become like children” to enter His kingdom.

    RS: That is precisely (one thing) what I would argue that Rome does not teach a person the truth about. When that text (Matthew 18:1-3) tells us that we must be converted and become like little children, the word “converted” is passive. In other words, someone else (God) must do the turning and or converting. To become like a little child is to become utterly dependant on God and not on anything or anyone else. Rome still leaves you depending on yourself to be converted and to become like a little child.

    MichaelTX: We must be learners(disciples) of the Lord. Therefor Christ trained and sent teachers.

    RS: Yes, He sent teachers, but He also has “allowed” many false teachers.

    MichaelTX: Which I can’t make sense of the God I’ve know so well, having me go though finding myself such a fool for previously hating the Catholic Church without it being the leadings of our Lord in union with the scriptures,

    RS: Michael, you need to wake up. You cannot be both Reformed and Roman Catholic. Here is what Chapter 30 of the Westminster Confession says about the Pope:
    VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.[13] Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.”

    Please not that the Confession is quite clear that the Pope of Rome is the Antichrist, the man of sin, and the son of perdition. Please note that the Pope is said to exalt himself in the Church, as opposed to Christ exalting him, but in that exaltation of self he is agaisnt Christ and all that is called God. Michael, read that closely. You cannot be Reformed and be Roman Catholic. You either believe that the pope is exalting himself against Christ or that the pope is the vicar of Christ. You cannot hold both views at the same time.

    MichaelTX: which we both love, who has and is teaching me humility in the truth. I have not and will not abandon the Word of His saving power and call. His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. I can not and shall not work my way to heaven, nor could I have come to Christ with out Him and His grace.

    RS: There are many who strive at the narrow gate and cannot enter. Michael, Roman Catholicism teaches a form of grace that is not the same thing as the grace taught in the Bible. The grace that saves is a grace that is moved from within God and not because a person does a work of any kind. The grace that justifies sinners is because of the work of Christ alone and not because of any work that the sinner does. The grace that saves sinners is a grace that began or was planned in eternity and God elected to show grace to whom He pleased, but Rome says (basically) you must elect yourself. Jesus Christ died for His elect alone, yet Rome will leave you to suffer for your own sins in Purgatory and do things here to do penance as opposed to true repentance.

    MichaelTX: Pease don’t assume Catholics are scriptural and doctrinal idiots who have abandon the love of Christ and the saving truth of the Gospel, because we disagree with your current understandings, unless you can convince me and yourself I am called to be your disciple instead of a disciple of Christ.

    RS: I don’t assume Roman Catholics are idiots, but perhaps too many are too smart to let go of their intellects and bow with the simple and lowly to Christ. Indeed it certainly appears that Roman Catholicism has abandoned the love of Christ and the saving truth of the Gospel because they follow the traditions of men who have changed the meaning of love of Christ and justification. You are not called to be my disciple, but you are commanded to repent of trusting in the Pope and Roman Catholicism and to look to Christ Himself alone. But know that is not in your power to do, but instead that must come by grace alone as well. God does not command us what we can do, but instead what we should do and only by His power can we do those. Rome does not teach that in truth either.

    MichaelTX: Or, at lest prove I have abandon the God who has said He will lead me and not allow me to be snatched from His hand. Otherwise, let my Good Shepard care for me and be accountable for my instruction and training preparing me for entry into His Heavenly Jerusalem. I don’t mean to be harsh with my words, but you present your ideas as if I must just be stupid to be Catholic.

    RS: Clearly you are not stupid, but anyone who follows the Pope as the vicar of Christ has been deceived. Anyone who looks to his own works, though indeed by other names, is deceived because (Romans 11:6) any work makes grace no longer to be grace.

    MichaelTX: I don’t think that is the charity with which Christ calls us to, or the love with which we might come to understand each other and at least be able to talk about our differences with respect.

    RS: Michael, does your description fit the Jesus who blasted the Pharisees of His day on the planet? No, true love speaks the truth about God and His Gospel. True love speaks the truth about the inability of man to please God at all and how Christ alone can do that.

    MichaelTX: I don’t even know you, but I assume you must try and understand everything you can to the ability and opportunity God has graced you with. I really am nobody to your world, but I do hope for the sake of your future you will learn to consider your words with the belief that as a Christian you represent Christ to all people.

    RS: We are commanded to represent/manifest the truth of Christ. The modern world has replaced the true Jesus with a limp-wristed wimp who can do nothing but weep over those who disagree with Him. No, Jesus was the strongest and most powerful “man” that ever lived. He bore the wrath of God upon the cross for the sins of man when no one else can bear the full weight of the wrath of God for one sin.

    MichaelTX: Hoping for more a more charitable response and continual blessings on you,

    RS: Michael, my response was full of charity in truth. Being nice and kind in an outward way is not the same thing as true love. Being lowly and speaking softly with no trust that I know anything about God is not true humility. Let me quote a man who gives my sentiments exactly and will perhaps help you to see my position as well. When one man said to John Gerstner these words, “You sound like you hate Roman Catholics”, he responded like this: “Hate Roman Catholics? I love em. That is why I tell them that they are going to hell.” Michael, you are trying to ride the fence of two positions that are completely antithetical to each other in truth. Get off the fencem but seek the Lord that by His sovereign grace (the only kind in reality) He will bring you to Christ alone.

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  69. MichaelTX: Richard, To begin with I am no theologian,

    RS: Michael, every single human being is a theologican, and that includes atheists. By the way, I am an a-atheist = I don’t believe in atheists. Some are professional theologians and some are not. But you are a theologian and all people operate according to a theology and a philosophy.

    MichaelTX: nor yours or anyone’s pastor apart from my scriptural exhortation to love wife as Christ loves the Church and the fatherly example and authority to teach and instruct our four children which God calls me to. Therefore, take my words as a fellow of our common humanity, men made in God’s image called to do unto each other as we would have the other do to us.

    RS: But the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all of our being. So true love for each other will mean that we must point the other person to God.

    MichaelTX: I respect a man who believes something to be wrong and stands against it with all God gives him. That is what I by God’s grace would do too. Therefore, I respect you from what little I have read from you. All I ask is that you would do the same to me, but that is not a necessary requirement I have. Nor has Christ called me to make that a requirement for my respecting you. He respected and loved me when I would have been the one to crucify Him with the rest of us rebels.

    RS: Understand that just because I take issue with Roman Catholicism does not mean I don’t respect Roman Catholics as human beings. I have great sympathy for Roman Catholics because I believe with some feeling (sometimes, great feeling if you like) that they are deceived and are being deceived by one who is opposed to the true Christ. Remember, Paul longed to see he fellow Jews converted and prayed even with tears for them. But that did not stop him from declaring the Gospel that he was eventually executed for. That did not stop him from opposing Peter to his face regarding the Gospel.

    MichaelTX: So to my first concern with what you have ask me. I most definitely, as a faithful Catholic instructed by the Church, know apart from Christ I am and will be lost and never meet the glories for which I was made, namely union and fellowship with our beloved Maker. Do we have different understandings of the functionality and application of Christ’s grace and mercy to us as Catholic Christians? Yes. At least with some Protestants. Do I work my way to heaven? No. Do I know I will get to heaven? No.

    RS: But why is it that you think that you are not saved by your works (though I would argue that you do but it is hidden beneath other language) and yet you could be lost by your own works? When Christ died for a sinner, did He not die for all of their sins? If He left one sin for them to suffer or overcome on their own, then they could never do that. So couldn’t it be that if Christ saves sinners by His life, death, and resurrection that He would save them through all of this life and bring them safely through death and into the arms of the Father who sent the Son to die for them? Read John 17:1-3 very carefully. Christ came to die for all those that the Father gave Him. Will He lose one of them? This is the Gospel of grace alone, Michael. God saves sinners completely and does not leave it up to them to be lost. You are trusting in yourself rather than Christ to keep you saved.

    MichaelTX: There is possibly one of our differences. I believe the rebel sinner in me can still rebel even at the moment of death. Does that being me comfort? Yes and No. Why? I know it will not be because God has not given me all I need to come to Him. His grace and mercy is sufficient. It will be because He loves so much that He leaves me to choose to abandon Him if I wish. Did I come to Him just because I wanted to? No. I am a sinner in need of His grace, without which I will not and could not come to Him.

    RS: In reality, then, you are now responsible (respond with ability) to keep yourself saved. How can that be a work of grace that provides some grace but not enough to keep you? Do you see what I mean when I say that it does boil down to you doing works for salvation? By your own words you are demonstrating that you believe that you can keep yourself saved.

    MichaelTX: So, I hope with just the few question and answers above that you can see that it is not so cut and dry as to the fact of a Catholic who is faithful to the teaching of the Church not living and being saved by grace alone through Christ alone by true faith alone.

    RS: What appears so clear to me, Michael, is that you have build a theology of words on a foundation of self and works. That is Roman Catholicism. It hides a gospel of self and works with a brushpile of words about grace and Christ. Michael, you are trusting in yourself. Seek the Lord who alone can deliver you from yourself and from the deceitful works of the human traditions of Roman Catholicism. God does not need or want our works in order to save sinners. All God needs is Himself to do so. He does not need our faith to save us, but instead gives faith to those whom He saves by grace alone. Grace, Michael, is the love of God given because of who God is and despite of who we are. God is self-sufficient in the Gospel and all of our attempts to add our works to it are attacks on His self-sufficiency. That includes our feeble attempts to keep ourselves saved! Michael, God alone saves for Himself and His glory.

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  70. Richard,
    Thanks for getting back with me. It will take a bit to work through what you have presented and I will try to touch on as much as I can. Like I said I am no theologian, but if you wish to understand me I will be happy to work through it with you.
    I will touch on two things that things in there for you I try and work through your thoughts.

    1.“God does not command us what we can do, but instead what we should do and only by His power can we do those. Rome does not teach that in truth either.”

    This is exactly what Rome teaches and my local bishop and pastor teach, along with all the RC theology I have read.

    2. “Michael, you need to wake up. You cannot be both Reformed and Roman Catholic. Here is what Chapter 30 of the Westminster Confession says about the Pope:
    VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.[13] Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.”

    Sorry, I did not feel I would need to go in to the details of not believing the Pope to be the anti-Christ. I think my post said that I was previously from a Reformed background, but I said nothing of holding to the WFC. Which is quite full of some good stuff, but both you and I could possibly agree could be in err on some things and should be corrected by truth and the Scriptures; and if we as a confessional Protestant or Catholic should in good conscience withhold ourselves from confessing an adherence to. Which I see you agree with having separated communion with differing beliefs if that is the conviction of two differing faction. My heart was formed by Christ in the Protestant tradition which does love the truth and that love of truth I will never, by God’s grace, let be deformed in me.

    I do hope to get to a few more of the misconceptions you have of my views and convictions as a Catholic, as soon as possible, if you are willing to continue and listen to me. I educate my kids at home, so I do get busy at times.

    Peace,
    Mike

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  71. Hart,
    I assume that the Church holds the dignity and value of the person as high as God does precisely because God does. It is the sinner who need to see the innate value of that which he abuses, so that he may see his sin for what it is. Rebellion against the order for which God calls us to; loving Him and our neibors as ourselves and desecrating of the creation God has made in His image to give Him glory for all time and eternity. This is invert of what Satan tempted in the begin. Calling us Ignore your value as obedient children of the God and chose for your self what to value, namely the fruit of the tree of knowledge being able to know Good and evil.
    My first actual blog post touches on the value of recognizing the person made in God’s image with which we interact in the world. I’m new to blogging, but we will see how it goes.
    Peace,
    Mike

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  72. Oh Richard,
    I did not mean in anyway that I see vision or anything, not that I think it is impossible. I mean the comprehension of the Truth contain in the the Scriptures we both love. If I were seeing vision of some sort, I promise you the first place I would be checking for validity of them would not be a doctor but with the Bible.
    Peace,
    Mike

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  73. Richard we may get closer to understanding each other if you read over the Council of Orange which I as a Catholic whole heartedly affirm. Here is a link which is from a Reformed site. Most expecially read through canons 4 through 8.
    Peace,
    Mike

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  74. Here is just the summary conclusion of the Council:

    CONCLUSION. And thus according to the passages of holy scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and believe as follows. The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God’s sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him. We therefore believe that the glorious faith which was given to Abel the righteous, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and to all the saints of old, and which the Apostle Paul commends in extolling them (Heb. 11), was not given through natural goodness as it was before to Adam, but was bestowed by the grace of God. And we know and also believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized, but is bestowed by the kindness of Christ, as has already been frequently stated and as the Apostle Paul declares, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29). And again, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). And as the Apostle says of himself, “I have obtained mercy to be faithful” (1 Cor. 7:25, cf. 1 Tim. 1:13). He did not say, “because I was faithful,” but “to be faithful.” And again, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7). And again, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17). And again, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). There are innumerable passages of holy scripture which can be quoted to prove the case for grace, but they have been omitted for the sake of brevity, because further examples will not really be of use where few are deemed sufficient.

    According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul. We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema. We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him. We must therefore most evidently believe that the praiseworthy faith of the thief whom the Lord called to his home in paradise, and of Cornelius the centurion, to whom the angel of the Lord was sent, and of Zacchaeus, who was worthy to receive the Lord himself, was not a natural endowment but a gift of God’s kindness.

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  75. MichaelTX: Here is just the summary conclusion of the Council:

    Council of Orang (529 version)e: CONCLUSION. And thus according to the passages of holy scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and believe as follows. The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God’s sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him.

    Council of Trent:
    —Canon V. If any one shall say, that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and
    extinguished; or, that it is a thing with a name only, yea, a title without a reality, a
    figment, in fine, brought into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.
    Canon VII. If any one shall say, that all works which are done before justification, in
    what manner soever they be done, are truly sins or deserve the hatred of God; or that, the
    more earnestly one strive to dispose himself for grace, so much the more grievously be
    sins; let him be anathema.
    —Canon VIII. If any one shall say, that the fear of hell, through which, by grieving for
    our sins, we flee unto the mercy of God, or refrain from sinning, is a sin, or makes sinners
    worse let him be anathema.
    —Canon XVIII. If any one shall say, that the commandments of God are, even for a man
    that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.

    Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter IX Of Free Will
    III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:[4] so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,[5] and dead in sin,[6] is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.[

    IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin;[8] and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;[9] yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.

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  76. MichaelTX quoting the Council of Orange (529 version): According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul.

    RS: Michael, notice that this says that people are to labor faithfully to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ…in regard to the salvation of their soul. It says that they have the ability and responsibility.

    Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter IX Of Free Will
    III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:[4] so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,[5] and dead in sin,[6] is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.[

    IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin;[8] and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;[9] yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.

    RS: If you will take care to note this is completely opposite of the Westminster Confession and the Bible.

    Romans 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

    RS: A person is declared just in this life and it is a gift by His grace. This text is not all that clear in English, but becomes more clear when “gift” is looked at in the Greek. The same word and the same basic grammar is used in John 15:25 where it tells us that “They hated me without a cause.” The Pharisees hated Jesus for no real cause found in him, but the cause was found in their own wicked hearts. In other words, back to Romans 3:24, God justifies sinners without a cause found in them but finds the cause within His own triune being. True grace is when God saves for what He has done with motives found in Himself rather than anything found in the sinner. As the text goes on to say, this grace is given through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ.

    Rom 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

    RS: Where is all the wrath that can be removed from sinners found? Only in Christ. Why did God set forth Christ as the propitiation in HIs blood? To demonstrate His righteousness in doing so. Can any human being take away the wrath of God by suffering for one sin? Can any human being be righteous enough to suffer for one sin? NO, it takes a righteous Advocate who is the propititation for the sins of anyone who will have their sins removed (see I John 2:-16).

    Romans 3:26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
    27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

    RS: But again, why does God save sinners? For the demonstration of His righteousness and so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ. He does not save sinners based on their own righteousness of justice in the slightest, but the Gospel is all about Him and what He has done. All boasting in ourselves is completely excluded because God has done it all. Thus it is that we see that sinners are justified by faith (that is, Christ) apart from works of the law (Luther called this faith alone). It is not that we can or do cooperate in order to obtain justification, but that can only be accomplished by Christ because Christ alone can take away the wrath of the Father perfectly. We cannot do that in the slightest.

    Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?
    2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
    3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

    RS: IN Romans 3 we see how God takes away His own wrath from sinners, and that is by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In Romans 4 we see how God can be just and yet sinners can have a perfect righteousness. IT is not when a person works for it or cooperates for it, but it is when a person believes (truly has faith which unites to Christ or is used by God to unite us to Christ) that a person is given His imputed righteousness. In that sinners are saved by a perfect righteousness and not some feeble things they can do themselves. In that God can declare them just because they are one with Christ and so His righteousness is counted as theirs.

    Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
    5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

    RS: Do you see this? It is only the person that does not work for justification that is justified, but it is to the one that does not work for justifiction that is justified. The one that has faith (true faith means being one with Christ) is given a perfect righteousness as a free (uncaused in himself) gift of righteousness. This, Michael, is grace and grace alone. The grace that saves will not have anyone contribute toward it in the slightest. All the efforts and works a person does in order to cooperate in order to be justified are wicked acts because they deny that the work of Christ is perfect and it is not enough.

    We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema. We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him.

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  77. MichaelTX on Council of Orange (529): We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.

    RS:
    Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know– 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

    Acts 4:27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

    1 Peter 2:8 and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

    Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
    25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
    26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
    27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
    28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
    29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
    30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
    31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
    32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

    Council of Orange (529): We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him.

    RS: Baptism does not save. The Scriptures repeat over and over that God uses the Scriptures to bring about the new birth and it is the Holy Spirit that does so.

    The new birth is expressly said not to be because of birth or because of any man, but by God (John 1:12-13). If you are baptized in order to be born again, then that is a human work being added and as such it is God responding to the act of man rather than God creating a new heart in man by His mere pleasure and power.

    Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter XI Of Justification
    I. Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies;[1] not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,[2] they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God

    James 1:18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

    Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

    Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

    1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

    1 Peter 1:23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

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  78. Richard,

    I don’t we will be able for me to jump back over everything you started with, so lets just go from here.

    I can easily see how one would see a contradiction, but there is not one between Trent and Orange though like the Word of God it sharply the edge with which orthodoxy walks. The WFC seeks to find that same line in which it will not ingnore the Scriptures. Notice something,

    Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter IX Of Free Will
    III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:[4] so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,[5] and dead in sin,[6] is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.[

    IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin;[8] and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;[9] yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.

    My question to you is why are those bold statement there?

    Is it not in there because our free will by God’s grace and working in us, which is a true will as Trent’s Canon 5 says, is conformed to the will of the Father for our salvation, and the gift of that strength to do it is by God’s grace alone?

    I’m still inline with Orange, Trent and even WFC on these.

    I also see you may have a problem with canon VIII. Which as I understand will put us as separated from WFC in places and other Reform confessions, but as I see it would also get us running from Scripture.

    “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

    “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

    “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

    “5This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

    Those are words that cut like a razors edge and are easy to get off with how we try and take them. Yet those are the words of our beloved God to us and I will not reject them, even when they are hard to figure out. And so are the verses you have presented and I say “Amen!” to them all.

    Now in know way will I say I adhere to all of the WCF, but to say I reject it all is not at all true. It is not my primary background confession, but has great amounts of truth in it and much to be admired.

    I have not rejected God nor His grace, though you may not agree with me.

    Saved by grace though faith, and this is not of ourselves lest anyone should boast.

    No boasting here. If I get to heaven it is only Him who did it for me.

    Blessings,
    Mike

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  79. MichaelTX: No boasting here. If I get to heaven it is only Him who did it for me.

    RS: But Michael, you have to work to get there and you cannot be sure you will get there because it does depend on you to be faithful to the end. Then let us not forget that time in purgatory that you will have to spend in order to be purified. Michael, though you are using more or less the right words you are still depending on yourself at the root. It is kind of like the person that claims to be saved by faith in Christ but depends on himself to have faith in Christ. So the person is really having faith in his own faith in Christ. Those for who Christ died have no sins left to be punished in hell or purgatory because the work of Christ is fully sufficient. Those for whom Christ imputes His righteousness have nothing left to work for in terms of entrance to heaven. Those people are now free to do what they do out of love, but your position always leaves you working in order to be saved and so you cannot work out of love for God but instead are always working for self.

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  80. Richard,
    So, do you get the feeling from me that I lack love for my savior, or you? And if you do, would it not be because I walk in the darkness and no in the light? And do you get the feeling that I believe this love is from me and not God working in me?
    Any of the belief that it is of me that my salvation comes is anathema to the Catholic, but to say that a righteous life is not essentail to union with God is also anathema.

    “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”

    Sorry I just can’t abandon the Scriptures to suit my pet ideas of God’s call and His of salvation which is not of me, but from Him.

    I am Catholic and will remain saved by grace saved through faith and it will never be of me, but only of God in Christ.

    Peace and blessings,
    Mike

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  81. Richard so you know I wasn’t meaning I will not be here to continue our interaction. I meant he follows the trails of contention and misunderstanding between Trent and Orange with the time i can’t put in it now.

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  82. MichaelTX: Richard, So, do you get the feeling from me that I lack love for my savior, or you?

    RS: I am not going by feeling as such, but simply wonder why you think you love Christ or what standards you go by to determine if you love Christ.

    MichaelTX: And if you do, would it not be because I walk in the darkness and no in the light? And do you get the feeling that I believe this love is from me and not God working in me?

    RS: But I Cor 13 tells us that we can give all our possessions away or sell them and give the money to the poor and still have no love. It tells us that we can give our body to be burned and still not have love. So love and works are not necessarily the same thing.

    MichaelTX: Any of the belief that it is of me that my salvation comes is anathema to the Catholic, but to say that a righteous life is not essentail to union with God is also anathema.

    RS: So are you saying that you must live a righteous life so that you can be in union with God?

    M-TX: “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”

    RS: You might want to consider that verse a little deeper in the context. Just before that verse it is speaking of propitiation and just after it speaks of the love of God being perfected in the person. Surely, then, you can see that just because a person keeps the outward commandments (as did the Pharisees) does not necessarily mean that the person is converted. Now if you know that you know Him, how is it that you think you can fall away and not know Him? What is the difference between the 1st know and the 2nd know in this passage?

    M-TX: Sorry I just can’t abandon the Scriptures to suit my pet ideas of God’s call and His of salvation which is not of me, but from Him.

    RS: The problem, however, is that for you to follow Rome you have to abandon the Scriptures for the pet ideas of others.

    M–TX: I am Catholic

    RS: No, you are Roman Catholic.

    M-TX: and will remain saved by grace saved through faith and it will never be of me, but only of God in Christ.

    RS: But in another post you said you could not know and cannot know if you will persevere. How, then, can you know that you know Him as in the passage you mentioned above? I John 2:3

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  83. Hey Richard,
    Glad we are continuing. Sorry but I dropped the wrong link earlier. Here is the correct one.
    http://the-supplement.blogspot.com/2011/06/trent-does-not-contradict-orange.html
    It had been a while since I read it.
    That link earlier by Dave Armstrong really doesn’t work into it in the direction I think you would wish and would be less helpful to us.

    About your questions and concerns above,
    I hope to be able to work into them soon. I would like to ask a favor though. Much of my intent seems to be missing you and that is truly not how I wish us to continue. My favor of you as I seek guidance for my words is that you would pray for me to have clarity of mind and peace of heart with a pure intent that God in Christ might be glorified among us. I do not get as much time to focus as I would like on our conversation, so please pray for me to be clear in my words and that they would be helpful for our understanding of each other. Forgive my weak and less prayerful ways up to this point.

    Thanks for your patience.
    Blessings on you through Christ our Lord,
    Mike

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  84. Richard,
    I’ll try and touch on the last post you put down to me. It is my concern that the way in which we are interacting within this blog possibly is not the best format for us to do this, but it is what we have right now. If you wish to begin emailing privately I think that would be truly be better for us to grasp each other’s understandings. I will have an email link on my blog you can jump to if you like, but I will stick with whatever you would like to do Richard. Going through all these may be a bit tedious and comment space consuming.
    Hart,
    If you wish to remove these afterwards I will not be offended.
    Ok,
    Starting with this:
    1:
    MichaelTX: Richard, So, do you get the feeling from me that I lack love for my savior, or you?
    RS: I am not going by feeling as such, but simply wonder why you think you love Christ or what standards you go by to determine if you love Christ.

    Pretty simple I think. If you know Him you will love Him. It is just who He is and that love draws you to love Him. It converts you one might say. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds, Right? That renew only truly happens when confronted by the Truth, who is Christ. Your actions will just follow in accord to the reality of the revelation of the God who is Love, and Who loved us when we were His enemies. So you are right it is conversion by the Word of God, but it is the living Word of God which I speak of, namely Christ Himself who comes in the flesh. Though I’m quite sure you would agree we fail to hold the reality of who Christ is before our mind as often as we should, therefore we fail in our actions of love, which are the fruit of that love. Good thing we have an ever-present advocate with the Father. Who intercedes on our behalf. Who could love our King once they come to know Him.
    2:
    MichaelTX: And if you do, would it not be because I walk in the darkness and not in the light? And do you get the feeling that I believe this love is from me and not God working in me?
    RS: But I Cor 13 tells us that we can give all our possessions away or sell them and give the money to the poor and still have no love. It tells us that we can give our body to be burned and still not have love. So love and works are not necessarily the same thing.

    You are right love and works are not the same thing. One is the root and one is the fruit. If a woman continually sees a husband abuse and cheats on her she can be quite certain the works prove his lack of love. “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
    2:
    MichaelTX: Any of the belief that it is of me that my salvation comes is anathema to the Catholic, but to say that a righteous life is not essential to union with God is also anathema.
    RS: So are you saying that you must live a righteous life so that you can be in union with God?

    I don’t say that Christ and the Scriptures says that.
    -“And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
    -“ Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
    -“ Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,”
    – “ 34Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,f you did it to me.’
    41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
    3:
    M-TX: “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”
    RS: You might want to consider that verse a little deeper in the context. Just before that verse it is speaking of propitiation and just after it speaks of the love of God being perfected in the person. Surely, then, you can see that just because a person keeps the outward commandments (as did the Pharisees) does not necessarily mean that the person is converted. Now if you know that you know Him, how is it that you think you can fall away and not know Him? What is the difference between the 1st know and the 2nd know in this passage?

    Here it is in context I read it and love it. It is right in line with what I believe:
    -“ 1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

    3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

    7Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.8On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.9The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.11But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
    4:
    M-TX: Sorry I just can’t abandon the Scriptures to suit my pet ideas of God’s call and His of salvation which is not of me, but from Him.
    RS: The problem, however, is that for you to follow Rome you have to abandon the Scriptures for the pet ideas of others.

    Sorry, I have not abandoned the Scriptures or Christ to follow anyone. We have one teacher and that is Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
    5:
    M–TX: I am Catholic
    RS: No, you are Roman Catholic.

    Yes you are right, but I am also just Catholic because I do not consider the Church rites that are not Ramon Catholic to be some other Church, only the Church just the same. There are 24 or so different rites in the Church that are in communion with the Bishop of Rome which are not Roman Catholic, but they are the visible unified People of God just the same. Personally if there were a Byzantine Rite body of the Church in my area I might have enter communion with the universal Church through that communion, but I am happy were God has me. His plan not mine.
    6:
    M-TX: and will remain saved by grace saved through faith and it will never be of me, but only of God in Christ.
    RS: But in another post you said you could not know and cannot know if you will persevere. How, then, can you know that you know Him as in the passage you mentioned above? I John 2:3

    Sorry sometimes I speak in the eschaton. Keepin’ my eyes on the prize brother and running the race like I want to win, beating my body into shape like a fighter, all completely and truly by God’s grace alone through Christ alone by true faith alone. Because it is in Him that we live and move and have our being.
    I told you this might go a while, but there it is. I hope it has not been to much and covered the basics of what your concerns were there. But I really don’t feel going like this in Harts blog will be the best route. Email me if you wish, but I’ll still be watching over here and happy to hear from you.

    Peace Richard and blessings on the rest of you all too,
    Mike

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  85. Richard,
    If you are still watching over here, I was reading back over some of the posts you had regarding my thoughts and I felt I ought to address these as well. Instead of addressing them directly I will just drop a small portion of a email I wrote to a friend the other day and you can let me know what you think.

    You wrote:

    RS: In reality, then, you are now responsible (respond with ability) to keep yourself saved. How can that be a work of grace that provides some grace but not enough to keep you? Do you see what I mean when I say that it does boil down to you doing works for salvation? By your own words you are demonstrating that you believe that you can keep yourself saved.

    RS: What appears so clear to me, Michael, is that you have build a theology of words on a foundation of self and works. That is Roman Catholicism. It hides a gospel of self and works with a brushpile of words about grace and Christ. Michael, you are trusting in yourself. Seek the Lord who alone can deliver you from yourself and from the deceitful works of the human traditions of Roman Catholicism. God does not need or want our works in order to save sinners. All God needs is Himself to do so. He does not need our faith to save us, but instead gives faith to those whom He saves by grace alone. Grace, Michael, is the love of God given because of who God is and despite of who we are. God is self-sufficient in the Gospel and all of our attempts to add our works to it are attacks on His self-sufficiency. That includes our feeble attempts to keep ourselves saved! Michael, God alone saves for Himself and His glory.

    By the way He is Lutheran and here is line he had on his blog:“Either we trust what God does for us in baptism, or we trust in something that WE DO. Even if that ‘doing’ is making a decision.”

    And I wrote this in my email to him:I just thought I’d let you know I agree with you on that, and I don’t believe in anyway I am outside on the Catholic church’s doctrine on this. I teach my kiddos this same idea. All good that is done in and through us is God Himself working and moving in us to bring about His work in the world, and his own salvation of our souls and others. Yet, I also believe the scriptures teach we can resist God’s grace. So in a sense we can damn ourselves, but we cannot save ourselves. It is either all God to save or “any” us to damn us. We have not the power to come to Christ, but by the power of His call and the obedience invoked in us by the Spirit to come to Him. Also, it is God alone whom maintains that movement to remain with Him in us by His life giving Spirit, yet I see also it as a peaking of the remaining rebel in me that tries to tell me I am “Saved, and all is done.” God is not finished with me until the end and until then I will not know the plans God has for me and if sin remaining in me will rebel against Him and those healing plans. For his plans entail the cross He has planned for me. “…he was the Son of God, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered: And being consummated, he became, to all that obey him, the cause of eternal salvation.” is the line that comes to mind. So, I see it not being me but God working in me that brings about my obedience while the other side of the blade is that it is me alone who brings about my rebel against faith which is either in seeking to do good and believe it is me or to rebel and knowing it is not God’s leading who damns my soul but me alone and my love of the comforts of the flesh.

    Galations 2:20 is one I get my kids memorize and I’m sure you know it well, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me the life I live now in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

    I really hope we can continue chatting. Like I said I respect you and would like to help you understand how I can believe what I do and completely realize I am not saved by my works, but only by God’s grace alone through Christ alone by true faith alone. My mind is an open book if you wish to get with me and I will do my best to help you understand.

    Peace,
    Mike

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  86. Turns out that the interpreter needs handlers:

    The Vatican Press Office quickly quashed this interpretation of the pope’s words. In an email to the press, Father Rosica wrote:

    The Pope’s expression is in no way intended to be interpreted as a justification for the violence and terror that took place in Paris last week. The Pope’s words about Dr. Gasbarri were spoken colloquially and in a friendly, intimate matter among colleagues and friends on the journey. His words mean that there are limits to humor and satire particularly in the ways that we speak about matters of faith and belief. Pope Francis’ response might be similar to something each of us has felt when those dearest to us are insulted or harmed. The Pope’s free style of speech, especially in situations like the press conference must be taken a face value and not distorted or manipulated. The Pope has spoken out clearly against the terror and violence that occurred in Paris and in other parts of the world. Violence begets violence. Pope Francis has not advocated violence with his words on the flight.

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  87. Will Francis soon advocate women wearing veils as a way of showing solidarity with those offended by ridiculing religion?

    Taylor Flanagan, a senior at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, has spoken out about her involvement in the “Wear the Veil” campaign that is being sponsored by the Latin Mass Society. “Wearing the veil, in addition to being a beautiful tradition in the Church, provides women with the opportunity to show an example of true womanhood to the world,” said Flanagan.

    She said that the campaign “will enhance and impact spiritual life not only at Belmont Abbey, but at other colleges across the country. Many people are simply not aware of the beautiful tradition of wearing the veil in church and have never been exposed to it. Once the message is spread, then many will share in the limitless grace that it can offer. Our culture today promotes a poor image of women, and it is oftentimes a degradation to our very nature. Therefore, I think it is particularly important for young women to make this traditional yet powerful statement in order to regain much of the beauty that has been lost.”

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