Calvinism as an Upgrade

Once baptized, always a Roman Catholic:

Pope Benedict affirmed that Catholicism comes without an escape clause: Once a person is baptized or received into the Church, there is no getting out.

Of course rejecting ecclesiastical communion or the Church’s doctrine has consequences, among them the penalty of excommunication. But excommunication is a punishment, not a shunning. Disobedient or dishonest Catholics might face damnation for their choices, but they will go their deathbeds as members of our Church. One can be a Catholic and be pro-choice, but having rejected the truth and the Church’s communion, he had better be prepared to face his judgment.

The fact is that among the People of God are those who have rejected the grace God has given them. That our Church includes the reprobate, and the dogmatically impure, and that we ourselves sometimes fill out those categories. The unpleasant truth is that one can be Catholic, and still be damned.

The grace of baptism is no assurance against going to hell.

But the elect don’t go to hell.

So election and baptism do not vary in this life. In the life to come, election and baptism’s consequences vary considerably.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Calvinism as an Upgrade

  1. “Pope Benedict affirmed that Catholicism comes without an escape clause: Once a person is baptized or received into the Church, there is no getting out.”

    If this is the case, then excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church is, in practical reality, a meaningless gesture.

    In Scripture excommunication actually has the effect of casting one out of the communion of the visible church (outside of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation). Of course, an excommunicate can be restored to the fellowship of the visible church through professed repentance accompanied by necessary reformation of life. But if someone can be “excommunicated” yet still remain in the “communion” of the visible church as a member, then the status of “excommunication” is practically meaningless.

    (Of course, I anticipate our Romanist friends will object that excommunication is not meaningless because it means that the excommunicate faces eternal damnation. But according to Romanist dogma even a member in good standing and in the full communion of the church can likewise face damnation, for example through unconfessed mortal sin. Likewise the faithful are taught that no ordinary believer may have assurance of salvation in this life; which means that no faithful Catholic can be assured infallibly that he/she is currently in a state of grace and thus bound for glory. So the only real difference between a faithful Catholic and an excommunicated Catholic is that the former might be eternally damned, while the latter most certainly will be eternally damned.)

    Like

  2. Geoff,

    Because an excommunicated member and a non-excommunicated member both face possible eternal damnation does not entail excommunication is “meaningless”. The excommunicated member is deprived of certain significant gifts and activities and benefits of the church that aid one in their salvation.

    “while the latter most certainly will be eternally damned.”

    An excommunicated person will not “most certainly” be damned. Excommunications can be mistaken; God is the ultimate judge.

    “In Scripture excommunication actually has the effect of casting one out of the communion of the visible church (outside of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation).”

    What is the Protestant definition and identification of this “visible church” outside of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation whose judgments one must heed so as to not be cast out?

    “Likewise the faithful are taught that no ordinary believer may have assurance of salvation in this life; which means that no faithful Catholic can be assured infallibly that he/she is currently in a state of grace and thus bound for glory. ”

    Is any faithful Calvinist assured infallibly that he/shes is elect and thus bound for glory rather than being self-deceived and falling away before death?
    Calvin: “experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption… Therefore, as God regenerates the elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate…. Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.”

    “Let no one think that those fall away who were of the predestined, called according to the purpose and truly sons of the promise. For those who appear to live piously may be called sons of God; but since they will eventually live impiously and die in that impiety, God does not call them sons in His foreknowledge. There are sons of God who do not yet appear so to us, but now do so to God; and there are those who, on account of some arrogated or temporal grace, are called so by us, but are not so to God.”

    “those are deleted from the book of life who, considered for a time to be children of God, afterwards depart to their own place … For even the reprobate take root in appearance, and yet they are not planted by the hand of God.”

    Like

  3. CVD: “Because an excommunicated member and a non-excommunicated member both face possible eternal damnation does not entail excommunication is “meaningless”.”

    GW: Yes, the way Pope Benedict speaks of excommunication is meaningless because to be “ex-communicated” means, by definition, to be excluded from the communion of the church. Talk of “excommunicated members” is nonsense talk. An “excommunicated member” is an oxymoron and an absurdity, because one who has been justly (and not mistakenly or unjustly) excommunicated is no longer a member of Christ’s visible church — no longer in the “communion” of the church (and thus no longer privileged to receive holy communion). Hence the term “excommunication.”

    Sure, the sentence of excommunication can be mistaken (we Prots obviously have no problems with the idea that church leaders can make fallible judgments of excommunication, as the Pope did when he excommunicated Luther). But the point is that if one has been justly excommunicated, then one will most certainly be damned (unless the excommunicate repents prior to death).

    Regarding your quotes from Calvin, it does not do justice to Calvin’s thought to read such comments in isolation from the rest of his theology. Certainly you rightly object to Protestants who quote Catholic theologians or statements from the Catholic Catechism in isolation from the Catholic system of theology as a whole. Well, please then do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Calvin clearly believed and taught that even the ordinary believer may enjoy an infallible assurance of salvation, and thus an assurance of his/her eternal election in Christ*. Calvin’s statements on apostasy must be understood against the backdrop of his overall soteriology; otherwise one bears false witness with respect to Calvin’s teachings.

    *A human father who always leaves his children in doubt as to their status as his children and their standing in his favor, giving them no clear assurance of their permanent standing in the family, and affirming love for them only on condition of their obedience (and since they can never be sure they’ve obeyed sufficiently, this condition is never met), is clearly an abusive father. By analogy, the heavenly Father proclaimed by Rome, who in this life can offer believers no possibility of attaining to a firm or assured certainty of their standing in His grace, is an abusive Deity that this Protestant for one wants nothing to do with.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s