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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Faith Alone Obliterated

The intention of this post is to be a simple, yet very direct refutation of Justification by Faith alone, especially as it pertains to the example of Abraham. Between Protestants and Catholics there is a divide on what grounds God blessed Abraham. I believe Genesis 26:4f does a fine job of answering this question, when God speaks to Isaac, Abraham's son:
I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.
Here God recalls all the main promises God made to Abraham, including the famous account of Genesis 15:5f where God promises descendants as numerous as the stars. What is important to note is why God would bless Abraham in this way: because Abraham obeyed throughout his walk with God. The force of the commendation is too powerful to gloss over, for it mentions Abraham's keeping of God's requirements, commands, decrees, and laws. Now, this obviously poses a problem for Protestants, who claim God blessed Abraham on the grounds of faith alone. How do Protestants respond to the above verse?
I offer the thoughts of a few respected Protestant commentators:
John Calvin: Moses does not mean that Abraham’s obedience was the reason why the promise of God was confirmed and ratified to him; but from what has been said before, (Genesis 22:18,) where we have a similar expression, we learn, that what God freely bestows upon the faithful is sometimes, beyond their desert, ascribed to themselves; that they, knowing their intention to be approved by the Lord, may the more ardently addict and devote themselves entirely to his service (Commentary on Genesis 26, verse 5)

John Gill: Here seems to be something wanting, for the words are not to be joined with the preceding, as if Abraham's obedience was the cause of the above promises made to Isaac, or to himself: but this is mentioned rather as an example to Isaac, and to stir him up to do the like, as if it was said, because or seeing that Abraham thy father did so and so, do thou likewise.
(Commentary on Genesis 26:5)
In other words, this was not to be taken in any sense such that Abraham's obedience directly impacted the sustaining and (finally) confirming of these promises, but rather that his obedience merely served as an example of how someone who is promised such blessings should live in gratitude. While this goes against the 'plain reading of the text', the reasoning is obvious: such a notion runs contrary to the Protestant idea that Abraham received such blessings on the basis of faith alone (specifically in Genesis 15:6). This attitude simply exposes the Protestant bias that forces all texts to conform to their notion of Justification by Faith Alone.

Catholics would say not only does the plain reading of Genesis 26:4f go against this, but James 2:14-26 does as well. Given this, it is no surprise that Protestants also claim James 2 is speaking of demonstrating one's justification rather than sustaining and increasing of it, and again this is primarily done for preserving the presupposition that justification is by faith alone. What is little known is that elsewhere in Scripture the correct understanding is just as strongly supported, in 1 Maccabees 2:52 it says,
Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was reputed to him unto justice?
The wording of the latter half (i.e. "it was reputed to him unto justice") is virtually identical in Greek to Genesis 15:6b where it says "it was reckoned to him as righteousness". What is amazing here is that in this case it is applying this to Abraham's test in Genesis 22 (esp 1, 9-12), which James 2 also calls a moment of justification! Now while Protestants would object primarily on the grounds that Maccabees is not Scripture and that such verses are heretical ("confirming" that it's not Scripture) - ultimately a bogus objection - the important thing to draw out of this is that this is indeed how the Jews understood "reckoned as righteousness." In fact, one could even argue that James 2 had this text in mind when speaking, appealing to it as Scripture.

The framework from which the Protestant makes this objection stems from their reading of Romans, especially chapter 4, where "works" are contrasted to "faith". Yet consulting the context, Paul's focus never was about "works in general" or "any and all works," the very thing Protestants would need for their claim to stand. Rather, Paul is speaking against a specific type of works, namely "works of the [Mosaic] law" (note: Rom. 3:20, 28f; 4:9f, 13; Gal. 3:10-12; etc. are all clearly speaking of the Mosaic Law). And this is made even more manifest in places such as Acts; here are two such examples:
Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. (13:38f) 

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses." (15:5)
So the dispute Paul and the Apostles were dealing with was very specific and not generalized. The problem was that there was confusion as to just what role the Mosaic Law played, especially in light of the Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. This problem is explicitly tied into Paul's teaching as he traveled about and the heart of the dispute the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) was called to clarify; and all this was speaking directly upon the issue of justification. To suggest anything along the lines of what the Protestant is suggesting is more rooted in their presuppositions than in the text of Scripture itself.

With all this in mind, the Catholic has a well grounded idea of what to expect in Romans 4, which is the chief proof-text Protestants appeal to for their doctrine of Justification. What most don't realize is that when Protestants appeal to Romans 4, they're really appealing to a very small portion of the chapter (usually as small as verses 2-8), and projecting a presupposed meaning upon it. But context militates against this approach:
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (3:28-31)
What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. (4:1-14)
All too often the reader disconnects chapter 3 (especially the final verses) from chapter 4, when such an approach effectively severs the latter from some critical context. All highlights in blue are critical for understanding the context, while the red highlights indicate the verses in dispute (i.e. the section Protestants appeal to). Taking verses 4-8 on their own, one could say the contrast is 'faith' versus 'works in general', but that only stands as one option (of many) and doesn't even conform to the context. Thus the Protestant reading is already doubtful.

The theme of chapter 3:28-31 is of Paul contrasting "faith" to "works of the law" and links this directly to a contrast between circumcision and uncircumcision and Jew and Gentile. A distinction of Jew and Gentile is not one of "works in general," but rather one of living according to the Mosaic Law or not, and the epitome of this distinction rests in whether one is circumcised or not. Rather than radically shifting gears, we would expect Paul to continue this theme, maintaining his terms into the following chapters. And this is precisely what we see him do, beginning in his opening comments on Abraham.

St Paul begins chapter four by examining how Abraham fits into all this, specifically making note that he is the father of the Jews "according to the flesh" (i.e. biological descent). This is an extremely important detail, yet often overlooked. The Jews saw themselves as a superior race, entitled to God's blessings. Paul's goal now is to refute that false idea. Paul is going back to the origin of the Jew-Gentile distinction, because he knows this is a decisive factor in this dispute. Paul first asks if Abraham was "justified by works." Based on the context, one can (and should) assume Paul is maintaining his theme from the previous chapter, which would mean Paul is speaking of "works of the law," especially since Paul concludes his inquiry in verses 9-10 by pointing out Abraham was justified before his circumcision - which was literally as "apart from the law" as one could get (3:28). Paul's point then was not so much faith versus the (Mosaic) law, as if the two were competing, but rather as it was faith and justification being independent of the (Mosaic) law.

Approaching the verses under dispute (highlighted in red), if one is taking context into account, one has no good exegetical reason for reading "works" as "works in general," even if such a reading could be logically coherent. Working 'backwards', Paul asked (in verse 9) if the "blessing" mentioned by David in 4:6-8 applied to the circumcised or uncircumcised, conforming perfectly to the already established context and theme. Given that David's example is a confirming of Abraham's (connecting verses 4-5), there is even stronger evidence Paul is speaking in terms of the Mosaic Law and not "works in general".

Finally comes two of the most disputed verses in the history of the Reformation: Romans 4:4-5. Taken alone, one can quite easily see how the works-wages analogy fits quite naturally into a 'faith versus works in general' theme - but given the solid context that's been established, it is not right to jump to such conclusions. Such would be the epitome of poor exegesis: tearing a verse out of it's context and turning around and projecting this "interpretation" of that bastardized passage onto the rest of the chapter (and even Scripture as a whole). With this, the Protestant claim is a long shot, by far - and to justify schism from the Catholic Church on such dubious grounds is the height of arrogance and wickedness.

It can safely be said that whatever Romans 4:4-5 is saying, it is confirming the established context and theme. The following are two good options for the worker-wage analogy: (a) Paul is speaking of those who would seek to put God in a position of debt, as if God owed them rather than God graciously rewarding. For example, there is a clear difference between a child cleaning his room and demanding allowance from his parent and a child who cleans his room with the good hope that the parent will be pleased to graciously reward the child with an allowance. (b) Paul is not attacking the notion that works deserve wages, but rather comparing this to the promise of the Gospel in contrast to the promise of the Mosaic Law. This fits in with 4:13-14, in which Paul says the Promise which Abraham put his faith in (before the Law or circumcision even existed), and which established him as father of all believers, was a walking by faith that looked toward eternal rewards and not that of the Mosaic Law which only promised rewards here and now, in this life only. Abraham was the "father" of the Jews in an (inferior) biological sense (4:1) contrasted to his being "father of all believers" (i.e. Jew and Gentile) based on the (superior) Promise. Compare this with the very informative parallel in Galatians 3:15-18,

To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
This passage is probably the most important passage to consult when reading Romans and Galatians, for it lays out the heart of Paul's thesis: the law (which can only be the Mosaic Law) came after the Promise God gave to Abraham, and if the Promise were to then be attached to the Mosaic Law would in effect supplant the Promise to Abraham and render his faith in that promise "null and void". The parallel between this and Romans 4:13-14 is undeniable. This concept is is precisely the background from which Paul says "The [Mosaic] Law is not of faith" (in Gal 3:10-14) as he proceeds to quote the Torah. Christian faith has its sights set above and beyond what the Law ever promised, and this Abrahamic Promise not only preceded the law but outlived it (Gal 3:23-25). Paul is ultimately saying the one who takes the path of the Law (which only offers temporal blessings) is akin to working for an hourly wage, while the one who takes the superior path and walks by faith, setting their hopes on the future glory receives a gift-blessing that far outshines that 'minimum wage' mentality.

At the risk of dragging this article on too long, the final point to examine is the curious phrase, "justifies the ungodly". The classical Protestant understanding of this text is that God declares (legally) righteous the (legally) unrighteous believer. But such a reading is exceedingly problematic, if not blasphemous. For God to declare something to be other than what it really is is effectively telling a lie, or acting unjustly. Two plausible understandings of this phrase are now given: (a) the term "ungodly" is in reference to a sinner and "justify" here primarily refers to forgiving the sinner, removing their unrighteousness. This fits with verses 6-8 which says, "just as David says, Blessed is the man who's sins are forgiven." In other words, the ungodly is justified precisely in having their sins forgiven. (b) the term "ungodly" could be referring to one who is ungodly in reference to the Mosaic Law, in other words, a Gentile. The term "ungodly" is a negated form of the Greek word for "[true] worshiper." Thus when Paul says "justifies the ungodly," he is really saying saying God justifies the Gentile! Considering the context of which he is speaking, what could be more blasphemous to the ears of the Judaizers' pushing the Mosaic Law than this? Nothing! And to make matters worse, Paul's star witness for "ungodly" was Abraham, the justified Gentile who was not yet circumcised! And what of David? If he were speaking of his grave sin he committed as King, and was repenting in Psalm 32 (which Romans 4:6-8 is quoting), then this likely means David lost his status as circumcised through his breaking of the Law and effectively was a Gentile from the Law's perspective (see Rom. 2:25b).

With the cardinal text of the Protestant soteriology examined and refuted, the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone is effectively obliterated.

69 comments:

johanna said...

And then there is the letter of St. James the apostle in the New Testament which says very bluntly: "A person is justified by works,and not by faith alone" (Jas. 2. 24) and (jas.2. 17) "Faith without works is dead" Johanna, author of Graffiti On My Soul, a new Catholic faith witness.

Stephanie said...

James 2:17 '...Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead' NIV version.

What is action?

God said you are the Righteousness of God in Christ. How to put that in action?

When you feels condemned, proclaim that you are the righteousness of God in Christ till that guilty feeling go off.

Have you tried that? I have. It takes less than 30mins to be free of the guilty feeling that devil gave me as a young Christian.

Better than those who feel bad for a few days.

Now when I know Abba Father, it is even easier, just cast to Lord the unwanted feeling and ask him to help me take away. So easy and yet so many people don't know!

Nick said...

Correct, James 2 is incompatible with the Protestant notion of justification; the problem is Protestants approach that passage with the notion faith alone is true, so they seek to explain away James 2:24.

Johanna, do you have a blog?

Russell said...

Hello Nick,

Good to “see” you again.

Of course, I would have to disagree and say that Sola Fide is hardly “obliterated” by your argument. You spent (wasted?) a lot of time and effort in pointing out that Romans 4 was about the Mosaic Law… but we Protestants already agree with that. Yes, the context is definitely about the Mosaic Law; no one (that I know of) is denying that. But I believe that the evidence shows that there is something *more* in this context.

You said that Romans 4 is the chief proof-text to which Protestants appeal for the doctrine of justification. Yes it is, because it is the single, most important, continuous, longest-running passage in the whole Bible that deals *specifically* with the doctrine of justification / salvation. And no, the extent of the context is not just Romans 4:2-8, as you suggest. The context of justification here is much broader, starting at about Romans 3:19 and runs through to about 5:11.

Nick, if there ARE works that save, then where are they in this context? Why are they not listed here where Paul is telling us how to be saved? This would be the time and place to mention them. But, over and over, the only thing here that Paul mentions that saves… is faith. Furthermore, Paul’s mention of “works” does not always mean works of the Mosaic Law. In Titus 3:5, 2 Timothy 1:9 and Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul is here also denying salvation by works, and yet *none* of these contexts are about the Mosaic Law. He is speaking of any and all works… even “works of righteousness.”

The Jewish law was God’s recognized standard of righteousness. The 600-plus commands in the Old Testament included the Ten Commandments, as well. But Jesus summed up this whole law in two commandments: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). Who can deny that this would cover EVERY SINGLE GOOD WORK POSSIBLE? What “new” work is there that would not apply to one of these two commandments? None at all. There is no such distinction as “New Testament works that save” versus “Old Testament works that don’t save”.

You claimed that Genesis 26:4 poses a problem for Protestants who claim that God blessed Abraham on the grounds of faith alone. It is true that Abraham received blessings for his obedience, but we’re saying that it was his *justification* that was on the grounds of faith alone, as amply demonstrated in Romans 4. In Genesis 26:1-5, God is encouraging Isaac to be obedient, as his father Abraham was, and thus God would continue the promise of the Hebrew nation through Isaac. He was NOT telling Isaac that Abraham was *justified* through his works of obedience. That’s the whole point in Romans 4.

To say that Genesis 26:4 is implying that Abraham was saved by his works would be to turn Romans 4 on its head, and making it say exactly the opposite of what Paul intended. Again, Paul’s point was that Abraham was NOT saved by his works and could not boast (4:2). Nevertheless, according to many Catholics, Abraham DID have reason to boast in his works. But that is neither true nor biblical.

Tracy said...

Wow, great discourse. I can tell you that I lived this personally.

When I tried to be religious and keep the law, I failed. Because no one has ever kept the law perfectly; only Jesus did. He fulfilled every jot and tittle.

We are under grace, not the law. For the righteous shall live by faith.

And if salvation is anything other than recognizing I don't have a righteous bone in my body, it's not grace.

To say that you can earn any portion of your salvation is abominable in the face of a Holy God. He offers His one and only perfect sin offering - the Way, Truth and Life.

And does anyone really want to say to Yahweh, "I've done Jesus one better"?

I shudder at the thought. The only thing I will be saying when I meet my maker is that "I am covered in His blood." (Passover - the picture of grace)

And that is it. Grace doesn't give me license to misbehave, it gives me the freedom to rejoice and strive to please the one who died in my place.

If salvation has to do with me, then I CAN boast (which I am warned not to do as Paul writes in Ephesians).

I boast in nothing but the cross of Christ. Everything else is foolishness. Or have you not read that the works we consider to earn God's favor are considered filthy rags to a Holy God? In context of the original language and intent, the reference is to menstrual rags!

Yes, as Romans 1:16-17 so clearly and eloquently states, "The righteous shall live by faith."

God's sanctifying power through the Holy Spirit produces those beautiful fruits which are ripened, displayed, and picked through the works that God prepared in advance for us to do, so that we may walk in them (Acts). So, my works are nothing. It's God's works prepared for me that count. In the end, it's all about Him isn't it? And that's the way it should be!

In my Christian life, God has called me so much and so frequently to trust Him with my every need. He will provide for me. He is my portion and cup. Why then would I think that I can provide for my salvation?

Thanks be to God that He never decided to make us earn our salvation. If that were the case, Christ died for NOTHING. And let it never be said that my precious Savior went through torture and humiliation so that I could help him accomplish eternity.

I close with something that needs to be considered so very carefully by my Catholic friends: "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than Christ." Colossians 2:6-8

And, paraphrasing verses 13-15

When you were dead in your sins, God made you alive with Christ.

He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code...(the law) He nailed to the cross!

He disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God.

What are you resting on my precious friends? Are you resting on the finished work of Christ and the seal of redemption through the Holy Spirit?

Or are you resting on the right amount of works in addition to the Savior's price?

I was bought with a price.

Are you willing to surrender and ask Christ to be your all in all?

With Love,
Tracy

Tracy said...
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Tracy said...
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Magdalena said...

It was pointed out to me recently in the book "Born Fundamentalist, Born-Again Catholic" that faith-alone believing Christians develop their because they first look at the writing of Paul, and develop their views of salvation, justification, etc, from there. They make the rest of the Bible, including the words of Jesus, a "footnote" to Paul's writings, and interpret Paul's writings as primary and Jesus' writings as secondary. Of course, instead, they ought to view Jesus' writings as primary and interpret Paul's writings in light of this. But they do not.

Just reading through the comments on this blog (from faith-alone adherents) proves the point of the author.

-Magdalena

Nick said...

Yes, I strongly agree with that. And not only do they make Christ a footnote, they make most of Paul a footnote to a small selection of his writings. Making Jesus a footnote can never lead to good results!

Nick said...

Russell,

Sorry for not getting to your comment, all sorts of things came up that distracted me.

I don't think I was wasting time proving Rom 4 was speaking about the Mosaic Law because many Protestants would not grant that. You grant it, but add on that there is "more" than just the ML in this context.

If that is the case, then the burden is on you to prove there is "more" than the ML in focus in this passage, which I don't see any way to prove. You offer no positive proof for your claim.

You asked: "Nick, if there ARE works that save, then where are they in this context?"

This question presupposes that Paul's use of "faith" here doesn't also encompass obedience, Hope, and Love. Instead, it relies on the fallacy than "faith apart from MoLa" equals "faith apart from any and all works" which is not Paul's thesis. Lastly, Paul doesn't need to go into all the details of justification here.

You said: "Paul’s mention of “works” does not always mean works of the Mosaic Law. In Titus 3:5, 2 Timothy 1:9 and Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul is here also denying salvation by works, and yet *none* of these contexts are about the Mosaic Law."

I *never* argued "works" always meant "works of the Mosaic Law," but sticking with the context of Romans 4, you have not made such a case otherwise.

You said: "Jesus summed up this whole law in two commandments: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). Who can deny that this would cover EVERY SINGLE GOOD WORK POSSIBLE?"

I don't deny that it covers every single good work possible, but the catch is that this is to be taken in light of Christ's New Teachings (e.g. Sermon on the Mount). For example, the Mosaic Law plainly allowed divorce and remarriage, where as Christ forbids it. Another example, Christ taught us to pray the Lord's Prayer, which was never part of the 600 Mosaic Commands. The same can be said for good works like Baptism, which the Mosaic Law didn't command. Conclusion: The Mosaic Law, in itself, doesn't include all good works possible.


You said: "There is no such distinction as “New Testament works that save” versus “Old Testament works that don’t save”."

Then you need to review important chapters like Matthew 5-7, because that is precisely what the Bible teaches.

You said: "It is true that Abraham received blessings for his obedience, but we’re saying that it was his *justification* that was on the grounds of faith alone"

The "blessing" mentioned in Gen 26 are precisely the justification blessing of Gen 15 and elsewhere!

You said: "To say that Genesis 26:4 is implying that Abraham was saved by his works would be to turn Romans 4 on its head, and making it say exactly the opposite of what Paul intended."

Your response is based upon the *yet to be prove* assumption that Paul is speaking of "works in general"! Remember, the only thing definite is that Paul is speaking on MoLa here.

Russell said...

Hello Magdalena,

To focus on the context of a certain topic by a particular biblical author (Paul) who is *specifically* dealing with that topic *at great length*, is not denying or lessening the authority of another Author (Jesus Christ) Who mentions that same subject in much less detail.

To demonstrate what I mean, I will share what I call the “Owner’s Manual analogy.” If you were having trouble with your car’s headlights, to what section of the owner’s manual would you turn? Would you turn to the “Tires” or “Engine” sections to solve the problem? Of course not. Obviously, you would turn to the section on “Headlights.” Why? Because that is the section in which you will find the most important, the most relevant, and the most useful information concerning your headlight problem.

Now, you may find some related information in the “Fuses” or the “Electrical” sections of the manual that would have some relevance, but it would not be the fullest and most useful information on that topic. It is the same thing with Scripture. For the biblical definition of love, you wouldn’t go to the passage that says that Amnon “loved” Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1), since he ended up raping her. For a better understanding of love, you would go to 1 Corinthians chapter 13, which defines the term and gives us a much better and fuller grasp of true love.

So, when we turn to Paul’s instruction on justification, we are not treating Jesus’ comments as a mere “footnote.” The topic is simply dealt with in more detail by Paul, making Romans 3-5 the “primary” passage to help us fully understand the doctrine of justification.

Magdalena, it’s not as though Jesus gets “jealous” if we read other books of the Bible more often than His gospels. By the way, it is *Jesus* Who inspired Paul to deal with justification in this greater detail, so this in no way offends Him… therefore, it shouldn’t offend you.

Tracy said...

Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah said, "Woe to me! I am a man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the king!"

Interesting commentary on the above passages from Isaiah by Matthew Henry: The prophet, standing outside the temple, sees the Divine Presence seated on the mercy-seat, raised over the ark of the covenant, between the cherubim and seraphim, and the Divine glory filled the whole temple. See God upon his throne. This vision is explained,(John 12:41), that Isaiah now saw Christ's glory, and spake of Him, which is a full proof that our Saviour is God. In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through him the way into the holiest is laid open. See God's temple, his church on earth, filled with his glory. His train, the skirts of his robes, filled the temple, the whole world, for it is all God's temple. And yet he dwells in every contrite heart. See the blessed attendants by whom his government is served. Above the throne stood the holy angels, called seraphim, which means "burners;" they burn in love to God, and zeal for his glory against sin. The seraphim showing their faces veiled, declares that they are ready to yield obedience to all God's commands, though they do not understand the secret reasons of his counsels, government, or promises. All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory. This awful vision of the Divine Majesty overwhelmed the prophet with a sense of his own vileness. We are undone if there is not a Mediator between us and this holy God. A glimpse of heavenly glory is enough to convince us that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Nor is there a man that would dare to speak to the Lord, if he saw the justice, holiness, and majesty of God, without discerning his glorious mercy and grace in Jesus Christ.
(http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-concise/isaiah/6.html)

Where am I in the picture of the mercy seat? Is there a place for my works? May it never be! I am a man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips.

Do you not realize we are all unclean before our Holy God until we accept the sacrifice Jesus made and wear it as a garment of salvation. If we wear Jesus' garment, it is without mark or blemish. If I try to wear garments sewn with my good works, they would be tarred, stained, shredded, blackened, eaten by moths.

And for those that believe that the Paul was the only writer on justification, you have relied on some other writer without doing your own research! Look at Hebrews (multiple), Genesis (multiple), Acts (multiple) Matthew 9:17, John 3:7, Matthew 21:32, Mark 9:23, John 6:29, John 6:25, John 7:39, John 11:25, John 12:44..

I could go on and on because the Bible is not a bunch of separate events cobbled together in one book. It is God's Story. His Story of Redemption that is filled with unbelievable grace.

Why then do you want to retain some formulas for achieving grace? Why do you try to take from the One who gives from his pierced hands and side?

How can any person on this site honestly think they can atone for their own sins, EVEN IN PART? It's not too late to turn to the Lord and receive Him as the only means to salvation.

Jesus Himself summed it up: "You can do nothing apart from me."

I beg you not to focus on verses out of context and teachings of mere men. I implore you to focus on the teachings and the Word from the Word - the One who came to set you free. And the one who has the Son is free indeed!

Tracy said...
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Magdalena said...

Russell,

That analogy would hold true only if Jesus (and others) did not speak explicitly on the same topics as Paul, but they do, and thus your analogy falls apart.

Magdalena

Russell said...

Magdalena,

Thanks for your response. But I have to ask you a question: Where in Scripture can we find Jesus or anyone else *specifically* and *directly* address the doctrine of justification (i.e., how a man is made right with God) in one continuous passage that is longer, more explicit, and more detailed than Paul's address in Romans chapter 3, 4, and 5?

Russell said...

Nick,

(Part 1)

No need to apologize for the distractions you mentioned that might hinder you from responding quickly. I know you’re busy, especially with the Sola Scriptura debate and all. So, no problem.

Concerning Romans 3, 4, and 5, you said:

“…the burden is on you to prove there is ‘more’ than the ML in focus in this passage, which I don't see any way to prove. You offer no positive proof for your claim.”

Catholics often respond that this passage doesn’t say “faith *only*,” but neither does it say “works of the Mosaic Law *only*.” I believe that there are several reasons that there is more here than just the works of the ML (Mosaic Law):

1) Yes, Paul uses the term “works of the Law” here, but he also uses the term “work” / “works” by itself, e.g., “justified by works” (4:2), “apart from works” (4:6), “the one who works” (4:4), “the one who does not work” (4:5). You agreed with this, and I think that this is an important point. At the very least, this opens the door to the possibility of “non-Mosaic Law” works in this same context.

2) He also contrasts the “law of faith” with the “law of works” (3:27). Notice that he mentions no “law of faith PLUS works.” There are only TWO choices here, just as there are only two choices in 4:4-5 (either “working” or “believing”). Paul mentions no mixture of the two to be justified.

3) This passage is obviously about justification. I think that this, along with the fact that no “saving” works are even mentioned at all in this whole context, speaks volumes. You ask for “positive proof,” yet the context screams “justification by faith and not by works.” Those who miss this point by attempting to focus *only* on the Mosaic Law are straining a gnat and swallowing a camel. (Matthew 23:24)

4) Note also the fact that Abraham was not under the Mosaic Law, yet he is the first example that Paul uses (4:1). Why mention Abraham if this is *only* about the Mosaic Law? He was saved by his FAITH, and NOT by his works (4:2) – over and over, this is the point in that context.

5) And furthermore, as I said before, Paul makes the SAME claim in some of his other writings… that man is saved by faith apart from the merit of works (Titus 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 2:8-9), yet, the contexts of these have nothing to do with the Mosaic Law.

So, I think that it is evident that Romans 3-5 is not *just* about the Mosaic Law; it teaches that we are saved by faith, apart from any and all works, and this concept fits in perfectly with the rest of Scripture.

Russell said...

Nick,

(Part 2 of 2)

Just for the record, I’m not saying that Paul is the ONLY person who deals with the topic of justification. He’s not. He just covers it more thoroughly than anyone else.

You said:

“This question presupposes that Paul's use of "faith" here doesn't also encompass obedience, Hope, and Love.”

Come on Nick, this is too common a misrepresentation of Sola Fide (“Faith Alone”) for you to make. You already know that “Faith Alone” does not mean the ABSENCE of these three things. The term simply means that we are saved apart from the MERIT of works, not apart from the PRESENCE of works.

You also had a contradiction in something you said about the extent of the Mosaic Law:

“I don't deny that it [Jesus’ summary of the Law] covers every single good work possible, but the catch is that this is to be taken in light of Christ's New Teachings (e.g. Sermon on the Mount).”

Wouldn’t “every single good work possible” cover any work in these “New Teachings,” as well? Anyway, the Sermon on the Mount was not “new” teaching… these principles embodied the *spirit* of the Law, as opposed to the letter of the Law. Jesus bears out God’s intent of what the Law was MEANT to be in our lives, because it was often abused.

You imply that Matthew 5-7 contains works that save… But if Matthew 5-7 was a list of specific things to do for salvation, and the context was “How to be justified”, then I would agree. But these chapters are speaking IN GENERAL of the type of person a Christian should be. Otherwise, how can a Catholic explain why baptism is not mentioned here?

I’d like to ask the same question that Tracy asked in his / her last post:

“How can any person on this site honestly think they can atone for their own sins, EVEN IN PART?”

I certainly agree that this is, indeed, the crux of the matter.

Nick said...

Hi Russell,

You gave 5 reasons why you believe when Paul spoke of "works" in Romans 3-5, it wasn't limited to the MoLa. It seems that many of your points I addressed in my original article, and some of your comments come off as not having read my article in full.

1) You argue that Paul simply uses the term "works" by itself, especially in Romans 4, and thus he intends to include more than that. This is begging the question, since he's established the context in which he's using the term "works", which is that of the MoLa.

2) You said: "He also contrasts the “law of faith” with the “law of works” (3:27)."
Context, bro, context: the very next verse he elaborates on this, saying explicitly faith vs works of the Law. The main problem here is that you're reading Paul with anti-Pelagian glasses on; when Pelagianism is not Paul's primary concern.

3) This, likewise, is begging the question. The issue is justification in light of the Jew-Gentile distinction: 29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

The issue isn't "works in general" here, but rather the "scandalous" news that the uncircumcised are able to be justified.

4) Paul's point with Abraham is very clear in 4:9 and elsewhere (esp the parallel in Gal 3). The issue wasn't works in general but rather how circumcision and the Law related to Abraham. There's a reason Paul didn't just pick Noah or Abel or someone like that; the reason is because Abraham's Seed and lineage play a huge role in salvation history.

5) I find it ironic that on one hand you insist we go to Rom 3-5 as our primary source for justification, but now you're insisting we pick a few passages here and there which are not focused on justification (and indeed 2 of your 3 don't even use the term justify).

To insist Paul covers justification "more thoroughly" than anyone else, and yet use 2 (of 3) passages that don't even use the term justify as *support* is bad methodology.


As for the issue of Faith, Hope, Love, Repentance, etc. I know Sola Fide doesn't teach the "absense" of those things - but it does teach the disconnection of them from faith. For example, you teach that any 'true faith' will also be accompanied by Repentance, but Repentance is it's own distinct event and faith acts alone during justification (even alone from Hope and Love, which are present but not in operation).

You said: "You imply that Matthew 5-7 contains works that save...But if Matthew 5-7 was a list of specific things to do for salvation, and the context was “How to be justified”, then I would agree."

I'd counter this on two grounds:
(1) you're conflating justification with eternal salvation. Justification doesn't entitle one to eternal life, only living a Christian life does. Thus, in Mat 5-7 Jesus can say this or that will result in Heaven or Hell, so salvation is clearly the issue.
(2) In Romans 4, Paul uses the term "Blessed" as a synonym for "justify," and Jesus speaks of various acts that will cause someone to be Blessed in the Beatitudes.

You said: “How can any person on this site honestly think they can atone for their own sins, EVEN IN PART?”

Well, if this is taken in the sense Christ ins't necessary, then the person asking the question is misrepresenting Catholic theology. Otherwise, the Bible plainly says things like "through love and faithfulness, sin is atoned for" (Prov 16:6).

Tracy said...

Nick, take a look at Proverbs 16:5, regarding your argument that sin can be atoned for by love and faithfulness.

The verse is "The Lord detests the proud of heart. Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished."

The very next verse in Proverbs 16:6 is that through love and faithfulness, sin is atoned for...

God is the author of love. Jesus gave his life based on his love and faithfulness to God's requirement for a perfect sin offering.

The love and faithfulness of poured out by Jesus is the reference, not by us.

Of course we are commanded to love but we all fall short. What sort of measuring stick do you want to God to use on Judgment Day? The measuring stick of your attempts at holiness, or Jesus' holiness?

To everyone out there...true faith in Christ and surrender to Him is sufficient. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. So, if we receive Him truly in our hearts and confess with our mouth that He is Lord, He will stand up for us as the perfect mediator at the end of our lives. On the journey, He will sanctify us as we submit our lives, care, and control to Him.
That is true peace, my friends. I plead with you to stop working to earn grace!!

JoeyHenry said...

Just dropping by.

I know that the Vatican has not given any definitive interpretation of Romans 4 or the definition of Paul's usage of "works of the Law". In any case, I will take your understanding of Romans 4 as your own "private interpretation" of the text and not the interpretation of the Catholic Church.

It seems that you have adopted the proposal of several protestant scholars regarding Romans 4 (perhaps because it seems to favor your understanding Tridentine justification). Particularly, your understanding is not really unique and came from protestant scholarship rather than RC scholarship. It is a borrowed understanding from the New Perspective of Paul advanced by J.D.G. Dunn and others.

Now, many of us have no obejection that works of the Law is about the Mosaic Law. But, what is exactly Paul's udnerstanding Mosaic Law? Is he limiting it to rituals like circumscision, sabbath observance and food laws in Romans 4? This is unlikely for several reasons:

a) The Law is said to reveal what sin is (Romans 3:20b). In Paul's discussion, the Law stands for everything that a Jew (or even a Gentile proselyte) knew as "good works" before the God of the covenant. There is no higher "righteous deeds" that can be performed by a Jew or Gentile. That is why, the world (both Jew and Gentile) was held accountable before God by failing to gain the "righteousness" that comes from obeying the Law (Romans 3:19; Deut 6:25).

b) The contents of the Law, as far as Paul is concerned, is moral. The fabric that defines right from wrong. His discussion of the Law encompasses among others idolatry, stealing, adultery (Romans 2:20-23). Paul is not limiting the contents of the Law to any ritualistic sense but to the Jewish understanding of what man should do to be "right" in the eyes of the covenant maker. The Law defines that "rightness". The highest virtue that is defined as good is revealed in the Law (Deut. 6:5). To break it otherwise defines what sin is (Romans 3:20).

c) Thus, when Paul discusses works of the Law, in the Jewish mind, it is the those works that God defines as "good". This is not limited to any ritualistic works but to the very definition of any effort to fulfill the Law. Otherwise, Pauls thrust in Romans 1-3 of Jews and Gentiles failing to meet the Law's perfection makes no sense. The thing is that, if the Law (which comes from God, the highest virtues thereof defined) can not justify, what other systems of law can? What other "good works" can justify if even the very Law that God gave in Sinai defining the fabric of morals can not?

Nick said...

Joey,

Your main objection centered on these words of yours:
"Now, many of us have no objection that works of the Law is about the Mosaic Law. But, what is exactly Paul's understanding Mosaic Law? Is he limiting it to rituals like circumcision, sabbath observance and food laws in Romans 4? This is unlikely for several reasons:"

I've never limited the Mosaic Law to rituals and such, or in any way excluding the 'moral' commands. The Mosaic Law is a 'package deal' and must be taken as a whole (Gal 5:4 says the circumcised man obligates himself to keep the whole law; which is echoed in other texts like Acts 15:5). Given this, your "several reasons" objection doesn't fit into this discussion; it's irrelevant.

Russell said...

Hello Nick,

I’m sure that there are many more things that either of us could bring to the table in this discussion, but I think that we have both made our point. Although I do feel that some of the things that you were saying in your last response are simply semantics / word games.

However, I’d like to share just a couple more points with everyone here and leave some food for thought.

First, we all know that Abraham’s circumcision did not justify him (Romans 4:9-12). My question is this: WHY did it NOT justify him, since his circumcision was a God-ordained work of obedience (Genesis 17)? I really believe that a Catholic cannot answer this question without either contradicting Scripture, or contradicting his own Catholic teaching.

Secondly, as far as I can tell, Catholics believe that Abraham and all those before the Mosaic Law were saved by “faith plus works.” And, of course, those who came after the Mosaic Law (in the Christian era) are saved in the same way (according to Catholics).

But, if the Catholic understanding of “saved by faith, apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:28) is correct, and this is *only* speaking about the Mosaic Law, then the Jews who were under the Mosaic Law were, in effect, “faith alone” adherents.

Therefore, don’t you find this a strange and awkward inconsistency… that the Jews were the ONLY believers in history whose works could NOT contribute to their salvation, while the works of those people who lived *before* them and those who lived *after* them, DID help to save them?

But the Sola Fide view maintains that believers from every time period in history were saved in the SAME way: By grace, through faith, apart from any works that they could do. That’s the way it was in the beginning, during the Mosaic Law era, and is now.

De Maria said...

Stephanie said...
James 2:17 '...Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead' NIV version.

What is action?


Actions are deeds, works. They may be spiritual, as in prayer or physical, as in feeding the hungry.

God said you are the Righteousness of God in Christ. How to put that in action?
Read Matt 25, sheep and goats. Christ gives precise instructions.

When you feels condemned, proclaim that you are the righteousness of God in Christ till that guilty feeling go off.....So easy and yet so many people don't know!
That warm fuzzy feeling inside may be a diversion. Better to go to the Church which God gave the power to forgive sin (John 20:23).

De Maria said...

Russell said...
Of course, I would have to disagree and say that Sola Fide is hardly “obliterated” by your argument. You spent (wasted?) a lot of time and effort in pointing out that Romans 4 was about the Mosaic Law… ...The context of justification here is much broader, starting at about Romans 3:19 and runs through to about 5:11.

Not far enough. Read one more chapter back please:
Romans 2:(KJV)
13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Nick, if there ARE works that save, then where are they in this context?

I didn't notice where Nick said that "works save". The Church teaches that faith AND WORKS save. Not faith alone nor works alone. So, why are you asking him to defend something he isn't preaching?

Why are they not listed here where Paul is telling us how to be saved? This would be the time and place to mention them. But, over and over, the only thing here that Paul mentions that saves… is faith.

Because for St. Paul, works are instrinsic to faith. For St. Paul, ones faith is demonstrated in works. Look at Romans 4: 19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:

20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

In other words, because of his faith, Abraham got busy with his wife and bore a son. Or did you think that Isaac was born of the Holy Spirit?

Furthermore, Paul’s mention of “works” does not always mean works of the Mosaic Law. In Titus 3:5,

Different subject matter altogether. I'll end this reply here and begin with another to address that statement.

De Maria said...

Russell said...
Furthermore, Paul’s mention of “works” does not always mean works of the Mosaic Law. In Titus 3:5,
Titus 3:5
King James Version (KJV)
5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Faith itself is a righteous work. Therefore the Catholic Church teaches:
and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification. Trent VI, ch 8

This is the same teaching as St. Peter:
1 Peter 3:21
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit is a description of Baptism. What St. Paul is saying is that we are now saved by the Sacraments of Jesus Christ, which all pour into our souls the saving power of the Holy Spirit. And all we do is believe and accept the promises of God.

De Maria said...

Russell said...

2 Timothy 1:9 and Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul is here also denying salvation by works, and yet *none* of these contexts are about the Mosaic Law. He is speaking of any and all works… even “works of righteousness.”

Amen! That includes faith. Faith is a work of righteousness. Faith is believing and believing is a work:
John 6:
28Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Therefore, faith does not save either. Nothing which we do saves us but the mercy of God and His Grace poured out upon us in the Holy Sacraments of Jesus Christ.

De Maria said...

Russel also said:
The Jewish law was God’s recognized standard of righteousness.

And continues to be. It has not been rescinded:
Revelation 22:13-15
King James Version (KJV)
13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

15For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

The 600-plus commands in the Old Testament included the Ten Commandments, as well. But Jesus summed up this whole law in two commandments: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). Who can deny that this would cover EVERY SINGLE GOOD WORK POSSIBLE? What “new” work is there that would not apply to one of these two commandments?
None. But Jesus never rescinded the 10 Commandments. He merely summarized them:
Romans 3:31
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

None at all. There is no such distinction as “New Testament works that save” versus “Old Testament works that don’t save”.

You claimed that Genesis 26:4 poses a problem for Protestants who claim that God blessed Abraham on the grounds of faith alone. It is true that Abraham received blessings for his obedience, but we’re saying that it was his *justification* that was on the grounds of faith alone, as amply demonstrated in Romans 4. In Genesis 26:1-5, God is encouraging Isaac to be obedient, as his father Abraham was, and thus God would continue the promise of the Hebrew nation through Isaac. He was NOT telling Isaac that Abraham was *justified* through his works of obedience. That’s the whole point in Romans 4.

To say that Genesis 26:4 is implying that Abraham was saved by his works would be to turn Romans 4 on its head, and making it say exactly the opposite of what Paul intended.


On the contrary, Scripture does not contradict and SCRIPTURE says exactly what Nick said:
James 2:
22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was IMPUTED ON HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS: and he was called the Friend of God.

Do you here claim that St. Paul and St. James contradicted each other?

Again, Paul’s point was that Abraham was NOT saved by his works and could not boast (4:2). Nevertheless, according to many Catholics, Abraham DID have reason to boast in his works. But that is neither true nor biblical.

That is the Protestant straw man. But no, we remember Abraham for his faith. A faith perfected in works. For Abraham, first known as Abram, left Ur because of his faith. And obeyed God, because of his faith. Everything that HE DID was because of his faith in God. But Protestants can't conceive that works wrought with his faith and made it perfect unto salvation.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Tracy said...
How can any person on this site honestly think they can atone for their own sins, EVEN IN PART?
Because Scripture says so:

1 Peter 4:1
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

1 Timothy 4:16
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

James 5:20
Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Protestant doctrine is very nicely worded. But its not in Scripture. It is the invention of man.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Russell said...

Hello De Maria,

(Part 1)

I had mentioned that the context of justification (i.e., how a man is made right with God) in Romans ran from about Romans 3:19 through to about Romans 5:11, and you said:

“Not far enough. Read one more chapter back please:
Romans 2:(KJV)
13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

Just because the word “justified” appears in chapter 2, does not mean that this is the specific context. The immediate context of this verse in chapter 2 is the impartiality of God, and the overall context of the chapter is how the Gentile and the Jew are both guilty before God. The context of 2:13 is NOT “how a man is made right with God.” THAT issue is covered in chapters 3 through 5.

I had asked Nick where the “works that save” appear in Romans 3 through 5, and you said:

“I didn't notice where Nick said that "works save". The Church teaches that faith AND WORKS save. Not faith alone nor works alone. So, why are you asking him to defend something he isn't preaching?”

De Maria, Nick knows my position well. I never implied that Catholics believe in “works only.” Nick had said that there are certain works (along with faith) that can save. I was simply asking which works and why would they not be mentioned in the context of chapters 3-5?

Russell said...

(Part 2)

You mentioned that works are intrinsic to faith and one’s faith is demonstrated in works. I agree that works are the demonstration of faith, just not that they are the CAUSE (even partially) of salvation, as the Catholic Church teaches.

I had said that Paul’s mention of works does not always refer to the works of the Mosaic Law, and I gave Titus 3:5 as an example, and you responded:

“Different subject matter altogether.”

Exactly my point! Titus 3:5 says “Not by works of righteousness…”, and this verse is NOT speaking of the works of the Mosaic Law. Therefore, NO righteous works can save.

You claimed that faith itself is a righteous work. But that’s not true, according to Romans 4:4-5 and Romans 11:6. God separates them and considers faith and works to be OPPOSITES when it comes to salvation. Concerning your idea that faith or believing is actually a work, you later attempted to prove this by using John 6:28-29. But those who say this miss Jesus’ whole point. Jesus was NOT defining faith as a “work” at all. The Jews were the ones who first brought up the subject of works. So Jesus just uses this as a springboard and responds to them on that topic. He is basically saying, “You’re asking what WORKS should be done to be right with God? This is the only so-called ‘work’ that God requires: You must BELIEVE IN ME. You’re looking for works, but God is requiring faith.” Jesus is actually re-directing their misguided view of works.

You also said that Titus 3:5 refers to water baptism saving us. But that would make the verse contradict itself and would basically be saying: “We are NOT saved by works of righteousness, yet, baptism (a work of righteousness) saves us…” That would make no sense.

Russell said...

(Part 3)

You also said that 1 Peter 3:21 was speaking of water baptism, but that can’t be true. If this really is about water baptism, it seems that it would be more accurate to say that it was those who PERISHED in the flood who were “baptized,” not Noah. It was the unrepentant multitude who “went under” the water (as one does in water baptism). So, it makes no sense to try and force the idea of water baptism into this context as that which saved Noah. The floodwaters were not the cause of Noah’s salvation. Any Sunday school child knows that it was the ARK that saved Noah and his family, not the water. It is important to know that not every mention of “baptism” in the New Testament is about WATER baptism. The baptism that Peter speaks of is our being incorporated (or immersed) into the body of Christ.

You said:

“Therefore, faith does not save either. Nothing which we do saves us but the mercy of God and His Grace poured out upon us in the Holy Sacraments of Jesus Christ.”

But this is doubletalk. First, you say that nothing we do (whether works or faith) saves us, yet we are supposedly saved by sacraments, WHICH ARE WORKS. But the truth is, we are saved by grace, through the medium of faith, apart from the merit of any works, rituals or sacraments.

Russell said...

(Part 4)

You mentioned that Jesus never rescinded the Ten Commandments. That’s true, but obeying them because of our love for God is not the same as obeying them IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. We are saved APART FROM works of the Law / Commandments (Romans 3:28), and if we obey the Commandments in an attempt to be saved by them, we are 1) nullifying / frustrating the grace of God (Galatians 2:21), 2) fallen from grace and severed from Christ (Galatians 5:4], 3) we are embracing a different gospel (Galatians 1:6), and 4) are accursed (Galatians 1:8-9). This is what happens when one tries to add anything to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

You brought up James 2 and asked me if I claim that Paul and James contradict each other. No, not at all. I’ve been saying all along that Paul and James agree, but theirs are two DIFFERENT CONTEXTS.

Concerning your response to Tracy, who asked, “How can any person on this site honestly think they can atone for their own sins, EVEN IN PART?” And you said, “Because Scripture says so.” And then you go on to quote Scriptures on suffering, persevering in sound doctrine, and keeping fellow Christians from straying from the truth (NONE of whose contexts are about atoning for sin or “how to get saved”), and you think that these make your case.

De Maria, I don’t mean to be unkind, but your reasoning is like a roller coaster. On the one hand, you said that the Church teaches that faith and works save. But on the other hand, you said that nothing we do (including works and faith) saves us. Sorry, but your argument is inconsistent with itself and inconsistent with Scripture.

In His Name,
Russell

De Maria said...

Russell said...
Hello De Maria,


Hi Russell, I was not aware of these responses until just now. Sorry for the delay.

(Part 1)

I had mentioned that the context of justification (i.e., how a man is made right with God) in Romans ran from about Romans 3:19 through to about Romans 5:11, and you said:

“Not far enough. Read one more chapter back please:
Romans 2:(KJV)
13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

Just because the word “justified” appears in chapter 2, does not mean that this is the specific context.


Yeah, it does Russell. St. Paul did not put any Chapter demarcations in his writings. It is the same stream of thought in Romans 2 which is the context of Romans 3 through 5.

The keeping of the Law is the basis of our justification. One is not justified by God who has not kept the Commandments of God. Keeping the Commandments is the basis of our justification.

The immediate context of this verse in chapter 2 is the impartiality of God, and the overall context of the chapter is how the Gentile and the Jew are both guilty before God. The context of 2:13 is NOT “how a man is made right with God.” THAT issue is covered in chapters 3 through 5.

Let's read it together:
Romans 2:
6Who will render to every man according to his deeds:


God will "render", that is, repay each man according to his works.

7To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

To those who persist in doing good works, He will award glory, honor and eternal life.

 8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
 9Tribulation and anguish,


To they who work wickedness, He will award tribulation and anguish.

upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

It doesn't matter if you're Jew or Gentile. God will judge you according to your works.

 10But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

Rewarding every man who persists in good works, whether he be Jew or Gentile.

 11For there is no respect of persons with God.

God is not partial. God is fair.

 12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

And the gentiles have no excuse. Nor do the Jews.

 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

It doesn't matter if you've heard the law. What matters is that you have done the works of the law. Because only those who keep the law will be justified.

Cont'd

De Maria said...

Russell Part 1, Cont'd
I had asked Nick where the “works that save” appear in Romans 3 through 5, and you said:
“I didn't notice where Nick said that "works save". The Church teaches that faith AND WORKS save. Not faith alone nor works alone. So, why are you asking him to defend something he isn't preaching?”

De Maria, Nick knows my position well. I never implied that Catholics believe in “works only.” Nick had said that there are certain works (along with faith) that can save. I was simply asking which works and why would they not be mentioned in the context of chapters 3-5?


As most people use the term "saved by faith" or "saved by faith and works", they are only true in a manner of speaking. Only God saves. And God only saves those who keep His Commandments.
Revelation 22:14
King James Version (KJV)
 14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
1 Corinthians 7:19
King James Version (KJV)
 19Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
Sincerely,
De Maria

De Maria said...

‪Russell‬ said...
(Part 2)

You mentioned that works are intrinsic to faith and one’s faith is demonstrated in works. I agree that works are the demonstration of faith, just not that they are the CAUSE (even partially) of salvation, as the Catholic Church teaches.


Show me that doctrine. In the meantime, I'll show you the true doctrine. This is from the Council of Trent:

CHAPTER VII
IN WHAT THE JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER CONSISTS, AND WHAT ARE ITS CAUSES
This disposition or preparation is followed by justification itself, which is not only a remission of sins but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts whereby an unjust man becomes just and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting.[30]
The causes of this justification are:
the final cause is the glory of God and of Christ and life everlasting; the efficient cause is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies[31] gratuitously, signing and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance,[32] the meritorious cause is His most beloved only begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies,[33] for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us,[34] merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father, the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith,[35] without which no man was ever justified finally, the single formal cause is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind,[36] and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He wills,[37] and according to each one's disposition and cooperation.
For though no one can be just except he to whom the merits of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet this takes place in that justification of the sinner, when by the merit of the most holy passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Ghost in the hearts[38] of those who are justified and inheres in them; whence man through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives in that justification, together with the remission of sins, all these infused at the same time, namely, faith, hope and charity.
For faith, unless hope and charity be added to it, neither unites man perfectly with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body.[39]
For which reason it is most truly said that faith without works is dead[40] and of no profit, and in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity.[41]
This faith, conformably to Apostolic tradition, catechumens ask of the Church before the sacrament of baptism, when they ask for the faith that gives eternal life, which without hope and charity faith cannot give.
Whence also they hear immediately the word of Christ:
If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.[42]
Wherefore, when receiving true and Christian justice, they are commanded, immediately on being born again, to preserve it pure and spotless, as the first robe[43] given them through Christ Jesus in place of that which Adam by his disobedience lost for himself and for us, so that they may bear it before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ and may have life eternal.

That is the official doctrine of the Church enumerating all the causes of justification. Now, you show me where you claim the Church teaches that works are the cause of salvation.
Cont'd

De Maria said...

Part 2 Cont'd
I had said that Paul’s mention of works does not always refer to the works of the Mosaic Law, and I gave Titus 3:5 as an example, and you responded:

“Different subject matter altogether.”

Exactly my point! Titus 3:5 says “Not by works of righteousness…”, and this verse is NOT speaking of the works of the Mosaic Law. Therefore, NO righteous works can save.
Agreed. Faith is also a "righteous work". It is Catholic Teaching that,
CHAPTER VIII
HOW THE GRATUITOUS JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER BY FAITH IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD
But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely,[44] these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God[45] and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because

none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification.

For, if by grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the Apostle says, grace is no more grace.[46]


We are not saved by our faith, nor by our works. Nor by any combination of the two, but by the Mercy of God working through His Sacraments. In this case, the Sacrament of Baptism. In another place Scripture says:
1 Peter 3:21
King James Version (KJV)
 21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Cont'd

De Maria said...

Part 2 Cont'd again

Russell said:


You claimed that faith itself is a righteous work. But that’s not true, according to Romans 4:4-5 and Romans 11:6. God separates them and considers faith and works to be OPPOSITES when it comes to salvation.


First, faith is a righteous work and it is easily proven:
John 6:28-20
King James Version (KJV)
 28Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Logically then, faith is the work of God which we must do in order to be saved. Since faith is the work of God, it is a righteous work, since all God's works are righteous.

Therefore, faith is a work of righteousness.

Second, concerning this idea of faith and good works being considered opposites, you have again discounted Romans 2:13, as though St. Paul didn't mean a word of it and the proceeded to contradict himself. St. Paul has already laid the foundation of his treatise. Part of that foundation is Romans 2. Wherein it is clear, that unless one does the works of the law, one is not justified by God.

In addition, we see that St. Paul considers works intrinsic to saving faith. The famous verse comes to mind:
1 Corinthians 13:2
King James Version (KJV)
 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

Galatians 5:6
 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

So, it is impossible that St. Paul would be teaching that faith and works are opposites since he is teaching that a saving faith is accompanied by good works. And not only that, but that works (doing the law) are a necessary prerequisite to justification by God.

Third, what St. Paul is confronting is an idea of salvation by works alone. Therefore he says that Abraham was not saved because of what he did. But because his works were a consequence of his faith in God.

Cont'd

De Maria said...

Part 2 cont'd a third time
Russell said:
Concerning your idea that faith or believing is actually a work, you later attempted to prove this by using John 6:28-29. But those who say this miss Jesus’ whole point. Jesus was NOT defining faith as a “work” at all. The Jews were the ones who first brought up the subject of works. So Jesus just uses this as a springboard and responds to them on that topic. He is basically saying, “You’re asking what WORKS should be done to be right with God? This is the only so-called ‘work’ that God requires: You must BELIEVE IN ME. You’re looking for works, but God is requiring faith.” Jesus is actually re-directing their misguided view of works.

Nope. Jesus' words are clear. The work of God which you must "do". And the Catholic Church has always considered faith an action. We have a prayer called the "Act of Faith".


You also said that Titus 3:5 refers to water baptism saving us. But that would make the verse contradict itself and would basically be saying: “We are NOT saved by works of righteousness, yet, baptism (a work of righteousness) saves us…” That would make no sense.

We are not saved by OUR righteous works. Baptism is the work of God. Or didn't you know that?
2020 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy.

I know you're not implying that even God's righteous work can't save us, are you?

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

‪Russell‬ said...
(Part 3)

You also said that 1 Peter 3:21 was speaking of water baptism, but that can’t be true. If this really is about water baptism, it seems that it would be more accurate to say that it was those who PERISHED in the flood who were “baptized,” not Noah.


You have to deal with the metaphor which God provided. That metaphor is this:
In the flood, the sinful were washed away and the righteous were saved.
In Baptism, the sins are washed away and the now righteous person is saved.

It was the unrepentant multitude who “went under” the water (as one does in water baptism). So, it makes no sense to try and force the idea of water baptism into this context as that which saved Noah.

We only work with what God gives us. You may not like it, but there it is.

Now, Scripture says that Noah was saved by water like as we are saved by Baptism. It doesn't say that Noah was baptized, as you are forcing that into Scripture.
1 Peter 3:20-22
King James Version (KJV)
 20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

The floodwaters were not the cause of Noah’s salvation. Any Sunday school child knows that it was the ARK that saved Noah and his family, not the water.

Actually, it was God who saved Noah, if you want to get technical.

Second, It is Scripture which says that Noah was "saved by water". You want to argue with Scripture?

Third, Noah, by faith, worked hard to build that Ark in obedience to God's command:
Hebrews 11:7
King James Version (KJV)
 7By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

" It is important to know that not every mention of “baptism” in the New Testament is about WATER baptism. The baptism that Peter speaks of is our being incorporated (or immersed) into the body of Christ.

The context is quite clear. Water is mentioned "explicitly". As is the washing of the body, which is only accomplished by water.



You said:

“Therefore, faith does not save either. Nothing which we do saves us but the mercy of God and His Grace poured out upon us in the Holy Sacraments of Jesus Christ.”

But this is doubletalk. First, you say that nothing we do (whether works or faith) saves us, yet we are supposedly saved by sacraments, WHICH ARE WORKS. But the truth is, we are saved by grace, through the medium of faith, apart from the merit of any works, rituals or sacraments.

The Sacraments are the works of God. It is Jesus Christ continuing to work through His Body, the Church. Have you not read in Scripture?
Matthew 15:28
King James Version (KJV)
 28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Luke 18:42
King James Version (KJV)
 42And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.

In the Sacraments, we bring only our faith in God's promises.

Sincerely,
De Maria

De Maria said...

‪Russell‬ said...
(Part 4)

You mentioned that Jesus never rescinded the Ten Commandments. That’s true, but obeying them because of our love for God is not the same as obeying them IN ORDER TO BE SAVED.


Perhaps. But those who obey God because they know they love Him, will be saved. And those who obey God because of fear of damnation, will still be saved:
Psalm 111:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

We are saved APART FROM works of the Law / Commandments (Romans 3:28),

Not really. We are justified, apart from any righteous works. Because when we present ourselves for the Sacraments, our faith is at rest. We simply believe in the promise which God has given.

However, no one who does not keep the Commandments will be justified by God.
And finally, in the Judgement, faith alone will be the cause of damnation. Since we will be judged ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS. In the Judgement, there will be no other criteria:
Revelation 20:13
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man
according to their works.

and if we obey the Commandments in an attempt to be saved by them, we are 1) nullifying / frustrating the grace of God (Galatians 2:21),2) fallen from grace and severed from Christ (Galatians 5:4], 3) we are embracing a different gospel (Galatians 1:6), and 4) are accursed (Galatians 1:8-9). This is what happens when one tries to add anything to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

1.You are confusing the ordinances with the Commandments. Jesus Christ eliminated the ordinances which are frequently called the Law, but maintained the Commandments and made them the foundation of His Religiion.
2. Still holding good works in opposition with faith. Whereas good works complete and make faith perfect.
3. You still don't understand that unless one keeps the Commandments, one will not be either justified or saved.
4. Nor do you understand that in the Final Judgment, only one criteria will be applied, everyone will be judged according to their works. If you can find another criteria for the Final Judgment in Scripture, let me know. But even if you can, this criteria is not thereby removed.

Cont'd

De Maria said...

Part 4 cont'd

Russell said:
You brought up James 2 and asked me if I claim that Paul and James contradict each other. No, not at all. I’ve been saying all along that Paul and James agree, but theirs are two DIFFERENT CONTEXTS.

I did? I don't remember. I also believe there are two different contexts. I believe the verses which are normally compared to each other are not dealing with the same mode of justification. These are the verses which should be compared:
Romans 2:13
(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
James 1:22
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Concerning your response to Tracy, who asked, “How can any person on this site honestly think they can atone for their own sins, EVEN IN PART?” And you said, “Because Scripture says so.” And then you go on to quote Scriptures on suffering, persevering in sound doctrine, and keeping fellow Christians from straying from the truth (NONE of whose contexts are about atoning for sin or “how to get saved”), and you think that these make your case.

I know they make my case. Here's another:
1 Peter 4:1
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;


De Maria, I don’t mean to be unkind, but your reasoning is like a roller coaster.

The subject matter is difficult. Scripture says:
2 Peter 3:16
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Martin Luther is proof of that text.

On the one hand, you said that the Church teaches that faith and works save.
To be more precise, I said that the Church teaches that God saves those who have faith in Him and prove their faith by their works of love, keeping the Commandments.

But on the other hand, you said that nothing we do (including works and faith) saves us. Sorry, but your argument is inconsistent with itself and inconsistent with Scripture.
What I said is perfectly logical and consistent with Scripture and Catholic Teaching. Which is really a redundancy because the Catholic Church wrote the New Testament.



In His Name,
Russell

Again, thanks for engaging me.

Sincerely,
De Maria

Russell said...

Hello De Maria,

I had mentioned that the Catholic Church teaches that good works are the CAUSE of justification / salvation (at least partially), and you said:

“Show me that doctrine. In the meantime, I'll show you the true doctrine. This is from the Council of Trent…”, and you went on to quote from chapter seven of the sixth session. But this very quote you provided proves what I just said above:

“…the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism…”

Baptism is certainly a work and Trent calls it a CAUSE of justification. The Catholic Catechism also reflects this same idea:

“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation…” (CCC #1129)

Vatican II agrees:

“From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners… indeed, the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people.” (Second Vatican Council, Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences)

So, you can’t deny that the Catholic Church teaches salvation (at least partially) by works. Also, you, yourself said in a previous post that “the keeping of the law is the basis of our justification.” So, I don’t know why you objected to my initial comment.

Anyway, you keep saying that man is justified by faith plus works, so I pose this question to you:

Why did Abraham’s circumcision NOT justify him, since this was a God-ordained work of obedience, done in faith?

De Maria said...

‪Russell‬ said...
Hello De Maria,

I had mentioned that the Catholic Church teaches that good works are the CAUSE of justification / salvation (at least partially), and you said:

“Show me that doctrine. In the meantime, I'll show you the true doctrine. This is from the Council of Trent…”, and you went on to quote from chapter seven of the sixth session. But this very quote you provided proves what I just said above:

“…the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism…” 

Baptism is certainly a work and Trent calls it a CAUSE of justification.


Baptism is the work of God:
Trent 6 again:
>>>CHAPTER VII
IN WHAT THE JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER CONSISTS, AND WHAT ARE ITS CAUSES

....the efficient cause is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies[31] gratuitously, signing and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance,<<<

Justifcation is God's work. Not ours.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Russel said:

The Catholic Catechism also reflects this same idea:

“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation…” (CCC #1129)

Vatican II agrees:

“From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners… indeed, the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people.” (Second Vatican Council, Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences)

So, you can’t deny that the Catholic Church teaches salvation (at least partially) by works.

It is only a manner of speaking. The Catholic Church teaches that:
CHAPTER VIII
HOW THE GRATUITOUS JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER BY FAITH IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD
…. and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification.

Nothing which we do, not even faith or good works, can justify us. But God won't justify anyone who has not demonstrated his faith in good works. That applies also, to those who pray for others. Our prayers for the salvation of our fellow man do not themselves wash away their sins. But God washes away their sins if we pray for them to God. As we can see in the example from the Gospel (Matthew 8:5-13).

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Russell said:

Also, you, yourself said in a previous post that “the keeping of the law is the basis of our justification.” So, I don’t know why you objected to my initial comment.

Which do you consider your initial comment?

In the meantime, it is true that the Commandments are the basis of our justification. Only those who seek to please God in faith by keeping His Commandments will be washed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments. Especially Baptism. Every single time we present ourselves for a Sacrament, it is a mini-Judgment. A pre-Judgment event, so to speak.

Anyway, you keep saying that man is justified by faith plus works,
There are three instances of that terminology on this page. They are all traced back to you.
I keep saying we are justified by God, if we have perfected our faith in works of love.

so I pose this question to you:

Why did Abraham’s circumcision NOT justify him, since this was a God-ordained work of obedience, done in faith?

Although I'm certain it is unintentional, what you have asked is a loaded question. And the reasons you didn't recognize it, are these:
1. Protestants don't believe in a process of justification. Therefore you assume that everyone believes justification is always a one time event.

2. Catholic doctrine teaches that justification is a process of life long conversion and perfection of the man of God by a life of good works (Romans 2:7), which, since the promulgation of the Gospel, is punctuated by several justification events which we call the Sacraments.

So, in context of those two points, I will address your question. Scripture says:
Genesis 26:
4And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;5Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

God made that promise to Isaac because of the obedience of Abraham. Therefore, we know that Abraham's obedience pleased God.

Scripture also tells us that this obedience was a direct result of his faith:
Hebrews 11:8
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

And as we can see, Abraham began to respond with obedient faith way back in Chapter 12 of Genesis. Long before he was circumcised. So his obedience in circumcision was only one in a long line of good works which God took into account when He said:

Genesis 22:12
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Russell said...

Hi De Maria,

Again, when I brought up the fact that the Catholic Church teaches that good works are the cause (at least partly) of justification / salvation, this time you said:

“Baptism is the work of God.”

And

“Justification is God’s work. Not ours.”

Then I guess that we can blame God if any good works (including baptism) are neglected or never get done, since it is all “God’s work” anyway, right? Of course not.

De Maria, you are just playing word games. You won’t admit the obvious: that the Catholic Church sees good works as a cause of justification / salvation, as proven by the quotes I gave you last in my last post. (By the way, this is what I referred to earlier when I said you objected to my “initial comment.”) You asked me to show you where this was stated, and I did. But you are now backpedaling and actually exposing the contradiction in Catholic teaching, where on the one hand, the Council of Trent is claiming that works are a cause of justification, yet in another section, it claims that justification is “gratuitous.” But justification cannot be both “gratuitous” (purely a gift) AND caused by works at the same time.

You said:

“Nothing which we do, not even faith or good works, can justify us.”

What about baptism? Isn’t this the “instrumental cause” of justification according to Trent?

And immediately after that you said:

“But God won’t justify anyone who has not demonstrated his faith in good works.”

But aren’t you saying here that good works DO precede justification (in contradiction to your quote of Trent above), and that God only justifies AFTER one has demonstrated his faith by good works?

I had said that you keep saying that man is justified by “faith plus works,” and you responded:

“There are three instances of that terminology on this page. They are all traced back to you. I keep saying we are justified by God, if we have perfected our faith in works of love.”

Are you denying that this is “faith plus works”? This is just more semantics.

Concerning my question to you about Abraham’s circumcision, you pointed out that Catholics believe that justification is a “process,” and not just a one-time event.

De Maria, process or not, you still did not answer the question: Abraham’s circumcision did NOT justify him (Romans 4:9-12), although it was a God-ordained work of obedience, done in faith. Why not?

De Maria said...

Russell said...
Hi De Maria,


Hi Russell,



Again, when I brought up the fact that the Catholic Church teaches that good works are the cause (at least partly) of justification / salvation, this time you said:

“Baptism is the work of God.”

And

“Justification is God’s work. Not ours.”

Then I guess that we can blame God if any good works (including baptism) are neglected or never get done, since it is all “God’s work” anyway, right? Of course not.

Russell, you are putting words in my mouth. Please respond to what I actually said. Not your straw men.

First, I never said that we can blame God for anything. The fact is, if anyone is negligent in any aspect of our faith life, it is due to our "free will". God does not force us to submit to His Works. If a man says, "No, I shall not be baptized." He has made a conscious decision not to do so.

Mea Culpa!



De Maria, you are just playing word games. You won’t admit the obvious: that the Catholic Church sees good works as a cause of justification / salvation, as proven by the quotes I gave you last in my last post.

Are you speaking of these?
“…the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism…”



Baptism is certainly a work and Trent calls it a CAUSE of justification. The Catholic Catechism also reflects this same idea:

“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation…” (CCC #1129)



Vatican II agrees:

“From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners… indeed, the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people.” (Second Vatican Council, Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences)

So, you can’t deny that the Catholic Church teaches salvation (at least partially) by works.


I thought I addressed them? If my answers were not satisfactory, please be more specific.

(By the way, this is what I referred to earlier when I said you objected to my “initial comment.”) You asked me to show you where this was stated, and I did. But you are now backpedaling and actually exposing the contradiction in Catholic teaching, where on the one hand, the Council of Trent is claiming that works are a cause of justification, yet in another section, it claims that justification is “gratuitous.” But justification cannot be both “gratuitous” (purely a gift) AND caused by works at the same time.

Its not such a terribly difficult concept to understand. I'll give you an example from real life. Say my son is going to graduate and I promise to give him a new car when he does so. The car is a free will gift. He doesn't earn it. He does the same amount of work whether he graduates or not. But I voluntarily obligated myself to give him the car if he graduates.

Or take this example. I work for a company that gives us gifts for years of service, working safely and productivity. These are not part of our contract. The Company gives them to us freely and in fact, has taken away many of the gifts which It formerly gave. We used to get "safety days", days off for working safely the whole year. We no longer get those. But we have no recourse. Because they are not "earned". They are freely given by the company to those whom It decides deserves them according to their own criteria.

In the same way, God gives eternal life to those who keep His Commandments.

CONT'D

De Maria said...

Russell continues:
You said:

“Nothing which we do, not even faith or good works, can justify us.”

What about baptism? Isn’t this the “instrumental cause” of justification according to Trent?

God does that. We are like the blind man who yelled, "Son of David, have mercy!" We don't heal our souls. Christ does.

And immediately after that you said:

“But God won’t justify anyone who has not demonstrated his faith in good works.”

But aren’t you saying here that good works DO precede justification (in contradiction to your quote of Trent above),

??? Which quote is that? This one?
CHAPTER VIII
HOW THE GRATUITOUS JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER BY FAITH IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD
…. and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification.

Faith and good works must precede justification. But our faith and works are as dirty rags. It is by God's mercy we are saved.

and that God only justifies AFTER one has demonstrated his faith by good works?

Romans 2:13

I had said that you keep saying that man is justified by “faith plus works,” and you responded:

“There are three instances of that terminology on this page. They are all traced back to you. I keep saying we are justified by God, if we have perfected our faith in works of love.”

Are you denying that this is “faith plus works”? This is just more semantics.

Didn't I also explain that it is a manner of speaking. Look at my response to your part 1; I said:
As most people use the term "saved by faith" or "saved by faith and works", they are only true in a manner of speaking. Only God saves. And God only saves those who keep His Commandments.



Concerning my question to you about Abraham’s circumcision, you pointed out that Catholics believe that justification is a “process,” and not just a one-time event.

De Maria, process or not, you still did not answer the question: Abraham’s circumcision did NOT justify him (Romans 4:9-12), although it was a God-ordained work of obedience, done in faith. Why not?

Because works don't justify. God does. Have you not read in Scripture:
Romans 3:20
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

By the same token, no flesh shall be justified who does not do the works of the Law (Romans 2:13).
Why is that so hard to understand?

Sincerely,
De Maria

Russell said...

Hey De Maria,

There seems to be some confusion. Or maybe I’m just dense. : ) Before we go any farther with this, I just want to make sure I understand what you are saying. When you say that works don’t justify, are you lumping together all works EXCEPT sacraments in this category? Are you saying that only sacraments are purely God’s work and all other works are man’s? And that sacraments are the only works that can save / justify? This is what I’m hearing but please correct me if I’m wrong, because it is not my intention to misrepresent you.

Thanks

De Maria said...

Russell said...
Hey De Maria,

There seems to be some confusion. Or maybe I’m just dense. : ) Before we go any farther with this, I just want to make sure I understand what you are saying. When you say that works don’t justify, are you lumping together all works EXCEPT sacraments in this category? Are you saying that only sacraments are purely God’s work and all other works are man’s? And that sacraments are the only works that can save / justify? This is what I’m hearing but please correct me if I’m wrong, because it is not my intention to misrepresent you.


Yes. Keeping in mind that God works through His people. But only the Sacraments are purely His work.

740 These "mighty works of God," offered to believers in the sacraments of the Church, bear their fruit in the new life in Christ, according to the Spirit. (This will be the topic of Part Three.)

798 The Holy Spirit is "the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body." He works in many ways to build up the whole Body in charity: by God's Word "which is able to build you up"; by Baptism, through which he forms Christ's Body; by the sacraments, which give growth and healing to Christ's members;....

1074 "The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed;.... for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works ....

TRENT 6, CHAPTER VII
IN WHAT THE JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER CONSISTS, AND WHAT ARE ITS CAUSES
…..
The causes of this justification are:
the final cause is the glory of God and of Christ and life everlasting; the efficient cause is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies[31] gratuitously, signing and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance,[32] the meritorious cause is His most beloved only begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies,[33] for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us,[34] merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father, the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith,[35] without which no man was ever justified finally, the single formal cause is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind,[36] and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He wills,[37] and according to each one's disposition and cooperation…..

Sincerely,

De Maria

Russell said...

Hello De Maria,

Ok, so now I think that I’m understanding you…

You’re clearly saying that sacraments are the only good works that save / justify. But this is unbiblical. See my article on sacraments here:

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2011/01/sacraments-gods-grace-for-sale.html

But God has ordained ONLY ONE work to justify / save mankind: Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. And He has ordained ONLY ONE “conduit” to access this gift: faith / believing / trusting in that work alone. Sacraments like baptism or the Eucharist / Communion / breaking bread don’t access this gift. They don’t save or justify - they are simply designed to point to Calvary, which does save us.

Giving examples of how one is justified in real life, you said:

“Its not such a terribly difficult concept to understand. I'll give you an example from real life. Say my son is going to graduate and I promise to give him a new car WHEN HE DOES SO. The car is a free will gift. He doesn't earn it. He does the same amount of work whether he graduates or not. But I voluntarily obligated myself to give him the car IF HE GRADUATES.” (Emphasis mine)

De Maria, the phrases you use indicate that it is NOT a “gift” after all. It is still conditional and based on his performance… “when he does so,” and “if he graduates.”

And the other example you used indicates the same thing:

“Or take this example. I work for a company that gives us gifts FOR YEARS OF SERVICE, WORKING SAFELY AND PRODUCTIVITY. These are not part of our contract. The Company gives them to us freely and in fact, has taken away many of the gifts which It formerly gave. We used to get "safety days", days off FOR WORKING SAFELY THE WHOLE YEAR. We no longer get those. But we have no recourse. Because they are not "earned". They are freely given by the company to those whom It decides DESERVES THEM according to their own criteria.” (Again, emphasis mine)

Clearly, these are for services rendered. These are actually not “unearned gifts,” but are simply extras given to encourage better performance. You still did something to deserve these extras.

And you ended this part with:

“In the same way, God gives eternal life to those who keep His Commandments.”

Eternal life is always depicted as a gift in Scripture. It is received by having a correct state of the heart, humbly surrendering to God and realizing our spiritually bankrupt state, not by participating in prescribed external rituals and formulas.

It has always been a free gift (John 4:10; Romans 5:15-18), and not something that is deserved.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

De Maria said...

‪Russell‬ said...
Hello De Maria,


Hi Russell,

Ok, so now I think that I’m understanding you… 

You’re clearly saying that sacraments are the only good works that save / justify. But this is unbiblical.

According to you. But Catholics and Protestants understand Scripture differently. In my opinion, that is because Protestants have rejected the Traditions which are the basis of the New Testament.

Let me give you an example:

Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Because you have rejected the Traditions, in this case, the Sacraments, you don't realize that this verse is a direct reference to the Sacraments, especially Baptism, within which we are washed and renewed by God.

See my article on sacraments here:

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2011/01/sacraments-gods-grace-for-sale.html

That reminds me. Didn't I review one of your other articles on your blog? Did you ever post my response? I also promised to review two others, about the Eucharist, but I can't remember whether I did that or not? I guess I can look them up when I get a chance.

But God has ordained ONLY ONE work to justify / save mankind: Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. And He has ordained ONLY ONE “conduit” to access this gift: faith / believing / trusting in that work alone. Sacraments like baptism or the Eucharist / Communion / breaking bread don’t access this gift. They don’t save or justify - they are simply designed to point to Calvary, which does save us.

You are wrong. Scripture clearly tells us:
John 6:53
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

Mark 16:16
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; ...

The Sacraments are the instruments by which the Grace of God is applied to those who believe. Those who do not believe will either refuse them or condemn themselves by sacrilegiously misusing the Grace which the Son of God died on the Cross to provide for us:

1 Corinthians 11:
 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

Mark 16:16
…but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Giving examples of how one is justified in real life, you said:

“Its not such a terribly difficult concept to understand. I'll give you an example from real life. Say my son is going to graduate and I promise to give him a new car WHEN HE DOES SO. The car is a free will gift. He doesn't earn it. He does the same amount of work whether he graduates or not. But I voluntarily obligated myself to give him the car IF HE GRADUATES.” (Emphasis mine)

De Maria, the phrases you use indicate that it is NOT a “gift” after all. It is still conditional and based on his performance… “when he does so,” and “if he graduates.”

It remains a gift.

It surprises me that I have not met even one Protestant who seems to be aware that gifts are frequently given with strings attached. And gifts are revoked if those conditions are not met. Go to any charity organization and ask them what type of gift you may give and they will give you an entire menu of possitilities. FREQUENTLY, these gifts are given based upon performance and the gift of eternal life is precisely that type of gift. We must perform or we will not receive the gift of eternal life.

In the example, I am under no obligation to give anything until I obligate myself. In the same way, God is not obligated to give us eternal life, no matter if we keep the Ten Commandments or not. But He obligated Himself.

Hebrews 6:17
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:


CONT'D

De Maria said...

CONT'D

And the other example you used indicates the
same thing:

“Or take this example. I work for a company that gives us gifts FOR YEARS OF SERVICE, WORKING SAFELY AND PRODUCTIVITY. These are not part of our contract. The Company gives them to us freely and in fact, has taken away many of the gifts which It formerly gave. We used to get "safety days", days off FOR WORKING SAFELY THE WHOLE YEAR. We no longer get those. But we have no recourse. Because they are not "earned". They are freely given by the company to those whom It decides DESERVES THEM according to their own criteria.” (Again, emphasis mine)

Clearly, these are for services rendered. These are actually not “unearned gifts,” but are simply extras given to encourage better performance. You still did something to deserve these extras.


And you ended this part with:

“In the same way, God gives eternal life to those who keep His Commandments.” 

Eternal life is always depicted as a gift in Scripture. It is received by having a correct state of the heart, humbly surrendering to God and realizing our spiritually bankrupt state, not by participating in prescribed external rituals and formulas.


Please see my explanation of gift above.

Apparently you are denying that one must keep the Commandments in order to be saved, is that correct?

1 Corinthians 7:19
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

Romans 2:13
(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

It doesn't matter how you spin it, God won't justify or save those who simply claim to have faith. Your faith must be proven by works. Scripture is clear:

Revelation 22:14
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Those who do not keep the Commandments, will not enter life:

15For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

It has always been a free gift (John 4:10; Romans 5:15-18), and not something that is deserved.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Salvation is certainly a gift, but it isn't free. It is given only to those who obey Christ:

Hebrews 5:9
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

If you deny this, then you are preaching a gospel of sin and death which is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ.

Sincerely,
De Maria

Russell said...

Hi De Maria,

Once again, there is nothing in 1 Timothy 3 that demands (or even suggests) infallibility. As I said before, Paul’s emphasis is on the RESPONSIBILITY / OBLIGATION of the church to uphold the truth, not on some special power or infallibility.

In this context, being called the pillar and ground of the truth is in no way a “confirmation” of infallibility, as you suggested. Focusing on a word or phrase and running with it while ignoring context, is not good exegesis. It is assumption and speculation.

Here is an analogy of how Catholics interpret this passage: Little Billy’s father tells Billy in front of his friends, “Now son, you must never, ever tell a lie.” And Billy’s friends grossly exaggerate his father’s words into “Billy has never, ever told a lie, and he could not ever possibly tell one.” In the same way, Catholics distort Paul’s words. If Protestants would ever try to use such logic in interpretation, Catholics would (rightly) be quick to complain.

Just as these words of Billy’s father were meant to impart responsibility on Billy’s part (and nothing more), but got distorted into a “special grace” for Billy - likewise, Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:15 were meant to impart a grave responsibility to the church, but are distorted by Catholics into “infallibility.”

De Maria said...

Russell said...
Hi De Maria,

Once again, there is nothing in 1 Timothy 3 that demands (or even suggests) infallibility…..


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I can only repeat my contention that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to refer to the Church as the Pillar of Truth, thus confirming the infallibility of the Church which Christ built.

In this context, being called the pillar and ground of the truth is in no way a “confirmation” of infallibility, as you suggested. Focusing on a word or phrase and running with it while ignoring context, is not good exegesis. It is assumption and speculation.

Our context is simply different than yours Russell. We use the context provided by 2000 years of Catholic Tradition from which the New Testament was written. We also use the context of the rest of Scripture which says of the Church:
Ephesians 3:10
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

Here is an analogy of how Catholics interpret this passage: Little Billy’s father tells Billy in front of his friends, “Now son, you must never, ever tell a lie.” And Billy’s friends grossly exaggerate his father’s words into “Billy has never, ever told a lie, and he could not ever possibly tell one.” In the same way, Catholics distort Paul’s words. If Protestants would ever try to use such logic in interpretation, Catholics would (rightly) be quick to complain.
That is a poor example. Here's how Protestants exegete Scripture. Lets say that Billy's father is from India and wears the traditional sherwani garb which goes down to his ankles. Little Billy's American friends say, "he must be a cross dresser, he dresses like a woman." Because they are ignorant of the traditions of the elderly Indian man.
In the same way, since Protestants have done away with Christian Traditions, they have no point of reference with the ancient lessons contained in the Scripture. They judge everything according to their own culture and wind up with completely wrong understanding of the Word of God.
Just as these words of Billy’s father were meant to impart responsibility on Billy’s part (and nothing more), but got distorted into a “special grace” for Billy - likewise, Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:15 were meant to impart a grave responsibility to the church, but are distorted by Catholics into “infallibility.”
On the contrary, from the context of Tradition and the rest of the New Testament, it is obvious that the Reformers have erred by rejecting the Traditions passed down by the Apostles and therefore misunderstanding what is meant by the "Pillar of Truth" in Timothy 3:15.
Sincerely,
De Maria

De Maria said...

Ok, what happened? I must have hit the wrong button. That was supposed to preview first, but didn't. This should be easier to read. Sorry. Let me try again:

Russell said...
Hi De Maria,

Once again, there is nothing in 1 Timothy 3 that demands (or even suggests) infallibility…..


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I can only repeat my contention that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to refer to the Church as the Pillar of Truth, thus confirming the infallibility of the Church which Christ built.



In this context, being called the pillar and ground of the truth is in no way a “confirmation” of infallibility, as you suggested. Focusing on a word or phrase and running with it while ignoring context, is not good exegesis. It is assumption and speculation.

Our context is simply different than yours Russell. We use the context provided by 2000 years of Catholic Tradition from which the New Testament was written. We also use the context of the rest of Scripture which says of the Church:

Ephesians 3:10
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,



Here is an analogy of how Catholics interpret this passage: Little Billy’s father tells Billy in front of his friends, “Now son, you must never, ever tell a lie.” And Billy’s friends grossly exaggerate his father’s words into “Billy has never, ever told a lie, and he could not ever possibly tell one.” In the same way, Catholics distort Paul’s words. If Protestants would ever try to use such logic in interpretation, Catholics would (rightly) be quick to complain.

That is a poor example. Here's how Protestants exegete Scripture. Lets say that Billy's father is from India and wears the traditional sherwani garb which goes down to his ankles. Little Billy's American friends say, "he must be a cross dresser, he dresses like a woman." Because they are ignorant of the traditions of the elderly Indian man.

In the same way, since Protestants have done away with Christian Traditions, they have no point of reference with the ancient lessons contained in the Scripture. They judge everything according to their own culture and wind up with completely wrong understanding of the Word of God.

Just as these words of Billy’s father were meant to impart responsibility on Billy’s part (and nothing more), but got distorted into a “special grace” for Billy - likewise, Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:15 were meant to impart a grave responsibility to the church, but are distorted by Catholics into “infallibility.”

On the contrary, from the context of Tradition and the rest of the New Testament, it is obvious that the Reformers have erred by rejecting the Traditions passed down by the Apostles and therefore misunderstanding what is meant by the "Pillar of Truth" in Timothy 3:15.

Sincerely,
De Maria

Russell said...

Hi De Maria,

Please forgive me for unintentionally putting my last response (on “Pillar and Ground”) here on the wrong blog. I meant to put it on my own blog after your comments here:

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2009/09/pillar-and-foundation.html#comment-form

I also want to apologize to Nick for posting these comments on his “faith alone” article, when the topic of our (De Maria and I) discussion was something else. Sorry Nick. If it’s ok with you, De Maria, I’ll copy and paste my comment above here, along with your last two, onto the link mentioned right above to stay on track. Thanks.

Russell

Russell said...

Hello De Maria,

I just want to comment on something you said above:

“Salvation is certainly a gift, but it isn't free. It is given only to those who obey Christ:

Hebrews 5:9
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

If you deny this, then you are preaching a gospel of sin and death which is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ.”

I certainly don’t deny Hebrews 5:9, but the point of this verse is that He is the Source of eternal salvation. And those who accept Him (and His work on the cross) will indeed also obey Him because of this. It is not PRESCRIBING how one is to be saved here.

I am not denying that we should keep the commandments.
True believers will keep them because of their love for God. But I am emphatically denying that we can keep them TO CAUSE OUR SALVATION, as you are suggesting here. You keep changing your position, because you just said earlier that only the sacraments can save and all other works do not save. Now, you’re saying that keeping the commandments does save a person.

Concerning my preaching a “gospel of sin and death,” let me remind you of the apostle Paul’s severe rebuke of the Galatians who were accepting the error of the Judaizers. That error was ADDING SOMETHING TO THE WORK OF JESUS ON THE CROSS, plain and simple. Paul said that the Galatians (who were called by grace) were, by adding works, DESERTING Him for a different gospel (Galatians 1:6). And then he attaches a fearsome anathema (Galatians 1:8-9).

Therefore, it is the CATHOLIC gospel (of faith plus works) that is a gospel of sin and death. The Catholic gospel tells us that the work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, just wasn’t good enough to pay the penalty for sin. I don’t want any part of that gospel.

In His Name,
Russell

De Maria said...

Russell said...
Hello De Maria,

I just want to comment on something you said above:

“Salvation is certainly a gift, but it isn't free. It is given only to those who obey Christ:

Hebrews 5:9
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

If you deny this, then you are preaching a gospel of sin and death which is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ.”

I certainly don’t deny Hebrews 5:9, but the point of this verse is that He is the Source of eternal salvation. And those who accept Him (and His work on the cross) will indeed also obey Him because of this. It is not PRESCRIBING how one is to be saved here.


It is a criteria for salvation. Because obedience is a product of faith. Therefore, only those who obey Christ will be saved. Do you deny it? Do you believe that those who disobey Christ will be saved? 



I am not denying that we should keep the commandments. True believers will keep them because of their love for God. But I am emphatically denying that we can keep them TO CAUSE OUR SALVATION, as you are suggesting here.

We don't cause our salvation and I didn't suggest that we did.

You keep changing your position, because you just said earlier that only the sacraments can save

Quote me. Because I never said such a thing. Here's what I've said.

First of all, YOU and the Jews and all non-Catholics will only be saved to the extent that you keep the Commandments. What I mean there, is that if you intend to keep the Commandments because of your love for God, you will not keep them perfectly, but you will be saved, as by fire. See 1 Cor 3:10-15. That means you will wait until Judgement Day before you enter heaven, if you are saved.

But, if you deny that keeping the Commandments is necessary for your salvation, that is an indicator that you don't love God and you will not be saved, whether you are Jew, Gentile, Catholic, Protestant or anyone else.

However, Catholics (and the Orthodox) who love God and keep the Commandments are also privileged to receive the Sacraments, by which GOD SAVES US RIGHT HERE AND NOW. Those who receive the Sacraments in faith are:

Hebrews 12:22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

I hope that is more clearly set out for you.

cont'd

De Maria said...

cont'd

Russell said...
and all other works do not save. Now, you’re saying that keeping the commandments does save a person.

I didn't say that either. I said what St. Paul said, those who do the works of the Law will be saved. Those who keep the Commandments will be saved.

Its not that hard to understand Russell. For example, say that a man is stuck on a mountain. A rescuer comes and says, "if you move to that ledge I will pull you up." Moving to that ledge does not save him. But if he doesn't move to that ledge, he won't be saved.

In the same way, God says, "if you keep the Commandments, I will save you." That means that you must keep the Commandments, God will save you. But if you don't, you won't be saved.

Does that make sense?



Concerning my preaching a “gospel of sin and death,” let me remind you of the apostle Paul’s severe rebuke of the Galatians who were accepting the error of the Judaizers. That error was ADDING SOMETHING TO THE WORK OF JESUS ON THE CROSS, plain and simple. Paul said that the Galatians (who were called by grace) were, by adding works, DESERTING Him for a different gospel (Galatians 1:6). And then he attaches a fearsome anathema (Galatians 1:8-9).

Galatians 1:6 doesn't say everything that you claim. It simply says:

6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

And above, you admitted that one must keep the Commandments in order to be saved. Therefore, if you claim that the Commandments are not important for our salvation, it is you who are teaching a different Gospel and the anathemas of Gal 1:8-9 apply to you.

Therefore, it is the CATHOLIC gospel (of faith plus works) that is a gospel of sin and death.

On the contrary, Scripture says:
James 2:14
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

It those who deny the efficacy of works who deny Christ's gospel.

The Catholic gospel tells us that the work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, just wasn’t good enough to pay the penalty for sin. I don’t want any part of that gospel.

Scripture says:
Colossians 1:24
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

And that is precisely the message of the Catholic Church. We must suffer in the flesh to fill up that which is lacking in the Body of Christ. You deny it, pretending that Jesus Christ did not leave you a part to play in your salvation. But Scripture also says:

Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
And I don't want any part in your gospel which looks upon Christ and says that you are too good to also suffer as He did. Christ didn't suffer so that you could walk this earth. He died so that you could go to heaven. Therefore He left you an example to follow:

1 Peter 2:21
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Romans 8:17
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Sincerely,
De Maria

Russell said...

Hello De Maria,

Maybe we are talking past each other. I am certainly not the most articulate person, so that may be part of the problem. But although you intended to clarify, your last two posts are still confusing to me and you are still misrepresenting me (e.g., you said that I “admitted that one must keep the Commandments in order to be saved”… when I never said that).

You just said above that obedience is a criteria for salvation, and then shortly after, you say “we don’t cause our salvation and I didn’t suggest that we did.” But, if obedience is indeed a criteria for salvation, then you ARE causing (at least in part) your salvation by your works and obedience, aren’t you? In contrast, Protestants are saved by SURRENDERING to God (not working); a trusting and believing, an exercising of faith, apart from works (Romans 3:28) to be saved. It is only AFTER this that we can do works pleasing to God.

I had said:

“You keep changing your position, because you just said earlier that only the sacraments can save…”

And you challenged:

“Quote me. Because I never said such a thing.”

But on a post above, on November 16, 2011 4:56 PM, you wrote:

“Hey De Maria,

There seems to be some confusion. Or maybe I’m just dense. : ) Before we go any farther with this, I just want to make sure I understand what you are saying. When you say that works don’t justify, are you lumping together all works EXCEPT sacraments in this category? Are you saying that only sacraments are purely God’s work and all other works are man’s? And that SACRAMENTS ARE THE ONLY WORKS THAT CAN SAVE / JUSTIFY? This is what I’m hearing but please correct me if I’m wrong, because it is not my intention to misrepresent you. [EMPHASIS ADDED]

Yes. Keeping in mind that God works through His people. But only the Sacraments are purely His work.”

Ok, De Maria, I had asked for clarification, and I clearly stated what my questions were at this point, one of them being “Are sacraments the only works that can save / justify?” And you answered “yes” to my questions. So, I don’t see why you are saying that you “never said such a thing.”

Concerning your analogy of the rescuer telling the man to move closer to the ledge or he won’t be rescued… This is not a biblical view of salvation. Moving to the ledge is “working,” although a much “lesser” work than the rescuer’s. But it is still a work. He is partially earning his rescue. Scriptural salvation consists of surrendering to God and acknowledging your inability.

You said:

“Concerning my preaching a ‘gospel of sin and death,’ let me remind you of the apostle Paul’s severe rebuke of the Galatians who were accepting the error of the Judaizers. That error was ADDING SOMETHING TO THE WORK OF JESUS ON THE CROSS, plain and simple. Paul said that the Galatians (who were called by grace) were, by adding works, DESERTING Him for a different gospel (Galatians 1:6). And then he attaches a fearsome anathema (Galatians 1:8-9).

Galatians 1:6 doesn't say everything that you claim.”

De Maria, what is it that I said that doesn’t line up with the context of Galatians 1:6? The Judaizers do indeed fall under the anathema of Paul in 1:8-9. Their error was indeed adding to the cross, according to Galatians 2 and Acts 15:1 which led to the Council of Jerusalem. And the Galatians were indeed at the brink of “deserting” Jesus (NIV, NASV). The NKJV describes it as a “turning away,” while the NAB (a Catholic Bible) renders it “forsaking” Jesus. So, which part of my description is not right?

De Maria, it looks like we just keep repeating the same things, and I don’t want this dialogue to become unfruitful. So, I’ll just ask you to give some thought to the things I said. Thanks again.

In His Name,
Russell

De Maria said...

Russell said...
Hello De Maria,


Hi Russell,

You said:
De Maria, it looks like we just keep repeating the same things, and I don’t want this dialogue to become unfruitful. So, I’ll just ask you to give some thought to the things I said. Thanks again.

I do enjoy talking to you. You seem a person truly attempting to understand the other viewpoint. I endeavor to do you the same courtesy.

Maybe we are talking past each other. I am certainly not the most articulate person, so that may be part of the problem. But although you intended to clarify, your last two posts are still confusing to me and you are still misrepresenting me (e.g., you said that I “admitted that one must keep the Commandments in order to be saved”… when I never said that).

Hm? Ok. So are you saying the opposite? Are you saying that one who does not keep the Commandments can be saved? I remind you that St. Paul says:

Gal 5:
6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
 …..
 16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; ….


Lets break these down:
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (6th Commandment)

 20Idolatry, witchcraft, (First Commandment)

hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, (5, 6, 7, 8 Commandment)

heresies, (First Commandment)

 21Envyings, murders, (Fifth Commandment)

drunkenness, revellings, and such like: (7,8, 9 and 10 Commandments)

Which of those sins which keeps one from being saved does not violate a commandment?

of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

So, St. Paul says that if we commit any of those sins, which are clear violations of the Commandments, we won't inherit the Kingdom of God. Do you believe this? Yes or No.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Russell said:
You just said above that obedience is a criteria for salvation, and then shortly after, you say “we don’t cause our salvation and I didn’t suggest that we did.” But, if obedience is indeed a criteria for salvation, then you ARE causing (at least in part) your salvation by your works and obedience, aren’t you?

In part. We believe we have a part to play. God says:
Hebrews 5:9
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Do you deny that that verse says that only those who obey Christ will be saved? I'll assume your answer is no. If I am wrong, please correct me.

If then, one must be obedient to Christ in order to be saved by Christ, do you interpret that as one saving oneself? Scripture says something similar:

1 Timothy 4:16
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

In contrast, Protestants are saved by SURRENDERING to God (not working); a trusting and believing, an exercising of faith, apart from works (Romans 3:28) to be saved.

Surrendering? Really? Is that a sort of magic word? Instead of obeying or submitting or believing, you surrender? We use that word also. Are you now going to use a different word because the Catholic Church teaches we must surrender to God?

CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 2830  (658 bytes )  preview document matches
He is not inviting us to idleness, but wants to relieve us from nagging worry and preoccupation. Such is the filial surrender of the children of God: To those who seek the kingdom ...


When we surrender to God, we begin to obey Him and do the works which He requires. So, what is the difference? How do you claim to exercise your faith without obeying Him? Or what does surrendering mean? Is it an attitude of "oh yeah, feeding the hungry is a good thing, but its not for me. I will simply believe God and that is all that is necessary." ?

Or do you exercise your faith by doing the works which God requires? James 1:27

It is only AFTER this that we can do works pleasing to God.
After surrendering? So, how is that different from Catholic doctrine?

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Russell said:
I had said:

“You keep changing your position, because you just said earlier that only the sacraments can save…”

And you challenged:

“Quote me. Because I never said such a thing.”

But on a post above, on November 16, 2011 4:56 PM, you wrote:

“Hey De Maria,

There seems to be some confusion. Or maybe I’m just dense. : ) Before we go any farther with this, I just want to make sure I understand what you are saying. When you say that works don’t justify, are you lumping together all works EXCEPT sacraments in this category? Are you saying that only sacraments are purely God’s work and all other works are man’s? And that SACRAMENTS ARE THE ONLY WORKS THAT CAN SAVE / JUSTIFY? This is what I’m hearing but please correct me if I’m wrong, because it is not my intention to misrepresent you. [EMPHASIS ADDED]

Yes. Keeping in mind that God works through His people. But only the Sacraments are purely His work.”

Ok, De Maria, I had asked for clarification, and I clearly stated what my questions were at this point, one of them being “Are sacraments the only works that can save / justify?” And you answered “yes” to my questions. So, I don’t see why you are saying that you “never said such a thing.”

Sorry for the confusion. Yes, the Sacraments save. Because God saves us through the Sacraments. But the word "only" is misplaced there. I shouldn't have agreed to that word. God is not bound by His Sacraments and God has said that He will save Jew or Gentile who keeps the Commandments. As the Church teaches:

CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 1257  (662 bytes )  preview document matches
Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments


Concerning your analogy of the rescuer telling the man to move closer to the ledge or he won’t be rescued… This is not a biblical view of salvation. Moving to the ledge is “working,” although a much “lesser” work than the rescuer’s. But it is still a work. He is partially earning his rescue. Scriptural salvation consists of surrendering to God and acknowledging your inability.

In our view, surrendering is itself a work. And as you acknowledge after surrendering, works follow. If they don't, you aren't saved. Simple as that. And

Scripture says:
Romans 2:7To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
 10But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11For there is no respect of persons with God.



Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Russell said:
You said:

“Concerning my preaching a ‘gospel of sin and death,’ let me remind you of the apostle Paul’s severe rebuke of the Galatians who were accepting the error of the Judaizers. That error was ADDING SOMETHING TO THE WORK OF JESUS ON THE CROSS, plain and simple. Paul said that the Galatians (who were called by grace) were, by adding works, DESERTING Him for a different gospel (Galatians 1:6). And then he attaches a fearsome anathema (Galatians 1:8-9).

Galatians 1:6 doesn't say everything that you claim.”

De Maria, what is it that I said that doesn’t line up with the context of Galatians 1:6? The Judaizers do indeed fall under the anathema of Paul in 1:8-9.

You insinuate that St. Paul has told them not to keep the Commandments. But indeed, read the rest of Galations. Especially Gal 5, which I already posted above.

Indeed, in another place, St. Paul says:
Romans 3:31
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Their error was indeed adding to the cross, according to Galatians 2 and Acts 15:1 which led to the Council of Jerusalem. And the Galatians were indeed at the brink of “deserting” Jesus (NIV, NASV). The NKJV describes it as a “turning away,” while the NAB (a Catholic Bible) renders it “forsaking” Jesus.

Hm? I originally said:
Salvation is certainly a gift, but it isn't free. It is given only to those who obey Christ:

Hebrews 5:9
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

If you deny this, then you are preaching a gospel of sin and death which is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ.
Do you deny that one must obey God in order to be saved?

So, which part of my description is not right?

The part where you insinuate that keeping the Commandments is adding to the work of Christ, as though it is somehow evil to do so. I remind you that St. Paul said:

Colossians 1:24
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

And St. Peter likewise:

1 Peter 2:21
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Sincerely,
De Maria

Russell said...

De Maria,

You said:

“Hm? Ok. So are you saying the opposite? Are you saying that one who does not keep the Commandments can be saved?”

No, I am not saying that at all. If one is not keeping the commandments, then his heart is certainly not right. But it is the right condition of the heart which saves a person, not his keeping the commandments. If a person really is saved / justified, he will indeed desire to do (and follow through with) good works. We should obey the commandments, but it is not the obedience to those commandments that saves… it is faith (trusting) in Jesus’ work.

Speaking of Paul dealing with the Galatians, you said:

“You insinuate that St. Paul has told them not to keep the Commandments.”

No, not at all. Paul certainly wanted them to keep the commandments, but he’s condemning their attitude of “I am CAUSING my salvation by keeping the commandments.” They were adding the law (circumcision, etc.) to Jesus Christ’s work at Calvary, and thus, according to Paul, deserting Jesus. Concerning salvation, it is either Jesus’ work at Calvary alone, or it is not His work at all.

I had asked:

“So, which part of my description is not right?”

And you answered:

“The part where you insinuate that keeping the Commandments is adding to the work of Christ, as though it is somehow evil to do so.”

De Maria, as I said over and over, keeping the commandments is the right thing to do, but if one thinks he is contributing to his salvation by keeping the commandments, then yes, he is “adding to the work of Christ.” With that said, I must ask you, what does Paul mean by “apart from the works of the law” in the context of Romans 3:28?

This is a very important point. You shared a number of Scripture verses in your last few posts, but NONE of them deal with the issue of “How is a man made right with God, how is he saved?” Romans chapter 3 through 5 deals SPECIFICALLY with that issue AT LENGTH, but many Catholics seem to either not deal with this passage at all, or just gloss over it. I think that dealing with this passage will do much to clarify things.

I had said:

“In contrast, Protestants are saved by SURRENDERING to God (not working); a trusting and believing, an exercising of faith, apart from works (Romans 3:28) to be saved.”

And you responded:

“Surrendering? Really? Is that a sort of magic word? Instead of obeying or submitting or believing, you surrender? We use that word also. Are you now going to use a different word because the Catholic Church teaches we must surrender to God?”

When I say surrender, I mean avoid trusting in any of your works, while trusting His work alone (as the Scriptures teach). I don’t mean that one never does
works. You then went on to call “surrendering” a “work.” I believe that you are forced to keep bouncing back and forth. On the one hand, you continue to say that one is not saved by works, and on the other hand, you continue to say we are saved by keeping the commandments and sacraments. And saying things like “faith” and “surrendering” are works is just silly.

De Maria, I can understand your difficult position. I’m not trying to be unkind or sarcastic, but it’s hard to defend the Catholic Church’s teachings when they just don’t line up with the Scriptures. Romans 3-5 help us to understand the nature of justification. It is by faith apart from the merit of works of any kind.

Ok, we’ve repeated ourselves often and gone on here on Nick’s blog for a very long time. Although this is an extremely important topic, we’ve both made our point, so I think it’s time we set this topic aside (at least for now), and move on to others. Thanks again for the discussion.

In His Name,
Russell

De Maria said...

Russell said...
No, I am not saying that at all. If one is not keeping the commandments, then his heart is certainly not right. But it is the right condition of the heart which saves a person, not his keeping the commandments. If a person really is saved / justified, he will indeed desire to do (and follow through with) good works. We should obey the commandments, but it is not the obedience to those commandments that saves… it is faith (trusting) in Jesus’ work.


Then, you save yourself by your faith? Where does God come into the picture?

Because the way I see it, in Scripture, God saves those who, because of their faith, obey God and keep the Commandments. The Church calls it "interior disposition". But you tell me, who saves? Do you save yourself? Does your faith save you? Or does God save those who have faith in Him AND obey Him? Or is there another category?

Speaking of Paul dealing with the Galatians, you said:

“You insinuate that St. Paul has told them not to keep the Commandments.”

No, not at all. Paul certainly wanted them to keep the commandments, but he’s condemning their attitude of “I am CAUSING my salvation by keeping the commandments.”

True. But that is not the Catholic attitude. It is something which you attribute to Catholics.

I'll give you a comparison. If you ask a Catholic, "are you saved?" What will 99.999% of Catholics answer? I'll let you fill in the answer. I know that you know, because Protestants harangue us about it constantly.

And I know the answer if I should ask a Protestant the same question, "are you saved?" The answer which the typical Protestant will give is, "YES, I was saved on such and such a date."

Based upon those two responses, who is relying upon their own works, because the expression of faith is a work, who is relying upon their own works to save them? I say it is Protestants. Because Catholics are taught not to judge ourselves.

They were adding the law (circumcision, etc.) to Jesus Christ’s work at Calvary, and thus, according to Paul, deserting Jesus. Concerning salvation, it is either Jesus’ work at Calvary alone, or it is not His work at all.

But circumcision is not one of the Commandments. The "ordinances" were annulled, but not the Commandments. And Christ Himself added those as a requirement for salvation (Matthew 19:17) along with the corporal works of mercy (Matt 25:31-46).

cont'd

De Maria said...

Russell said:
De Maria, as I said over and over, keeping the commandments is the right thing to do, but if one thinks he is contributing to his salvation by keeping the commandments, then yes, he is “adding to the work of Christ.”

You seem very legalistic in your view of salvation. What is this, "contributing" to you salvation? Scripture says:
1 Timothy 4:16
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Is St. Paul WRONG? We can't contribute to our salvation by continuing in the doctrine of Christ, which boils down to keeping the Commandments?


With that said, I must ask you, what does Paul mean by “apart from the works of the law” in the context of Romans 3:28?


St. Paul is speaking in reference to the Sacraments, primarily. He is also, however, making the point that we don't save ourselves. God saves those who obey Him. This is an elaboration on the point he already made in Romans 2:13, doers of the law are justified.



This is a very important point. You shared a number of Scripture verses in your last few posts, but NONE of them deal with the issue of “How is a man made right with God, how is he saved?” Romans chapter 3 through 5 deals SPECIFICALLY with that issue AT LENGTH, but many Catholics seem to either not deal with this passage at all, or just gloss over it. I think that dealing with this passage will do much to clarify things.

Actually, I believe it is Protestants who gloss over that passage. But feel free to give me your perspective.



When I say surrender, I mean avoid trusting in any of your works,

But you trust in your faith claim to save you. So why can't anyone else trust in a concrete, visible faith which works by love to save them?

James 2:18
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Is it wrong to show one's faith by one's works?

cont'd

De Maria said...

cont'd

Russell said:
while trusting His work alone (as the Scriptures teach).

And why do you keep insinuating that Catholics trust in their works alone? That is not Catholic Teaching. If it is, show me.

I don’t mean that one never does works. You then went on to call “surrendering” a “work.” I believe that you are forced to keep bouncing back and forth. On the one hand, you continue to say that one is not saved by works, and on the other hand, you continue to say we are saved by keeping the commandments and sacraments. And saying things like “faith” and “surrendering” are works is just silly.

Have you ever tried to surrender? The very fact that I used the word, "tried" shows that surrendering is a VERB. An action. A work. Protestants have a very parochial view of works. According to Protestants, a work must include physically getting up and doing something. But it is not so for Catholics. For us, even our prayers are good works. Even our faith is a good work. Have you ever heard the terminology, "spiritual works of mercy"?

For us, surrendering to God is a work of faith and love.

De Maria, I can understand your difficult position. I’m not trying to be unkind or sarcastic, but it’s hard to defend the Catholic Church’s teachings when they just don’t line up with the Scriptures.

Lol. I feel the same way about you. It is difficult to defend Protestant doctrine which doesn't line up with Scripture. Where ever Protestant doctrine contradicts the Catholic Church, it contradicts Scripture.

Romans 3-5 help us to understand the nature of justification. It is by faith apart from the merit of works of any kind.

Is faith meritorious? Who judges this merit? You or God?

Ok, we’ve repeated ourselves often and gone on here on Nick’s blog for a very long time. Although this is an extremely important topic, we’ve both made our point, so I think it’s time we set this topic aside (at least for now), and move on to others. Thanks again for the discussion.

Thank you as well. If you want to continue this discussion, we can do so on my blog or yours. And I'm waiting for your response on related matters which we are discussing on your blog, also.

Sincerely,

De Maria