Friday, March 30, 2012

Daniel Wallace: "There is no Protestant Ecclesiology" - Can Ecclesiology be a "Non-Essential" for Christians?

A Catholic friend sent me a link to a recent blog post titled The Problem with Protestant Ecclesiology, written by Dr Daniel Wallace, a Reformed Protestant who is a professor and Greek scholar. The post is short enough that I will be able to quote "long" portions that highlight his frank admissions that all Protestants will have to come to terms with some time or another.
I am unashamedly a Protestant. I believe in sola scriptura, sola fidei, solus Christus, and the rest. I am convinced that Luther was on to something when he articulated his view of justification succinctly: simul iustus et peccator (“simultaneously justified and a sinner”).
But with the birth of Protestantism there necessarily came a rift within the western church. By ‘necessarily’ I mean that Protestants made it necessary by splitting from Rome. Jaroslav Pelikan had it right when he said that the Reformation was a tragic necessity. Protestants felt truth was to be prized over unity, but the follow-through was devastating. This same mindset began to infect all Protestant churches so that they continued to splinter off from each other. Today there are hundreds and hundreds of Protestant denominations. One doesn’t see this level of fracturing in either Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism. Not even close.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Does Romans 9 condemn Unconditional Election as heresy?

Pope St Peter warns believers that St Paul's Epistles contain things "hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort" (2 Pet. 3:15-16). Undoubtedly, the 9th chapter of Romans would have to be one such text St Peter had in mind, for it has been twisted and distorted for a long time, particularly at the time of the Reformation when the Pretend Reformers were pushing for Double Predestination (the teaching that God decides to save and damn apart from any good or evil on the part of the individual). For centuries, Protestants (especially Calvinists) continue to be unaware that they are guilty of not heeding St Peter's warning, twisting Paul's lesson on God's sovereignty to teach almost the opposite of what he intended to teach.

Those who have engaged in such discussions with Protestants are aware that their chief (and favorite) text is Romans 9:16-21, focusing particularly on the phrase "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." The Protestants contend that this is crystal clear proof that God saves and damns according to his pleasure, apart from considering the lifestyle of the individual. To suggest otherwise, they say, is to twist Paul's message and argue in favor of the Judaizers, who taught man could save himself by his own works. Sadly, this kind of argumentation is not only wholly false, it has scandalized many Christians and continues to deceive many Protestants.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How do we know we are living in the Last Days? (JWs)

The so called "Last Days" mentioned in Scripture are not what many people conceive them to be. Many people mistakenly (but understandably) think the Biblical term "Last Days" refers to a period some time in the future of untold suffering and hardship with the end of the world being immanent. In reality, while that concept has much truth to it, that is not the Biblical terminology for it.

So why is this distinction important? The reason why it is imperative to be aware of the distinction is because rabidly anti-Christian groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's) build grand (but false) dogmas from such confusion and twisting of Scriptures, and being aware can not only protect you and other Catholics, but even plant seeds in the JW's mind (which hopefully could take root some day). It is also important to be aware that most JW's are genuine and innocent at heart, but deeply deluded and under serious pressure to conform and never question their authority, The Watchtower. Given that, you should only approach this subject with them if you are sufficiently grounded in the truth of Catholicism and falsity of Jehovah's Witnesses (see this link for some good apologetics), and taking special care to present the Truth to them calmly and in Charity. JW's are taught to 'shut off' and 'retreat' as soon as they feel they are losing an argument or don't feel they are making progress - this means that a key strategy when dealing with them is dealing in subtlety, slowly bringing upon them the Truth.