Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A knock-out blow to Calvinism (Romans 4:6-8)

Anyone following this blog will note my obsession with Romans 4 and imputation (logizomai), particularly in my recent posts (e.g. Here and Here). I've studied and discussed with Calvinists enough to know just where to go for the "knock out punch," and it's at the point where few Calvinists will dare take on my claims. It is my hope that more and more Catholics become aware of these simple arguments, so that they can send a message to the Protestants they know.

Regarding the text in the title of this post, Romans 4:6-8, what has been traditionally considered by Protestants as a knock-out punch to Catholicism will be shown to be just the opposite. This post will consist in a formalized restating of what I presented (and stunned silent) a Calvinist on a post I made at the Called to Communion blog. The following are 4 reasons why Romans 4:6-8 (quoting Psalm 32:1-2) soundly demolishes Calvinism:
(1) Paul says a Justification took place in the prayer David made when composing Psalm 32. Since David is not converting to Judaism at that time, it can only mean he lost his justification through grave sin (adultery and murder) and was repenting to become Justified again. In fact Luther himself taught David lost his salvation: “[W]hen holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them” (Smalcald Articles #43). This irrefutably contradicts the Calvinist idea that Justification cannot be lost. 
(2) The text of Ps 32:2b says “in who’s spirit there is no deceit,” which means an inner sanctification took place at that moment as well. Some might object that Paul didn't quote the rest of Psalm 32, including this stanza, and thus he didn't mean to include 32b in his lesson in Romans 4. But if that is true, it means Paul selectively quoted David out of context (which nobody believes). This conforms to David’s description of being forgiven elsewhere, such as being “upright of heart” (32:11) and “wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin … purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (51:2,7). It is plain that Psalm 32 and 51 go together, especially since there cannot be two forms of God's forgiveness. This description of what Justification entails, namely an inner sanctification of the soul, is precisely what Catholics teach but completely unacceptable for Calvinists because they think it would be conflating Justification and Sanctification (though Paul never makes this distinction that Calvinists teach). 
(3) When David says “blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin,” this can only mean God will not reckon him a sinner because his sins have been forgiven, as the context clearly speaks of forgiveness (32:1). The term “reckon” here puts the Calvinist in another serious bind, since it’s the same Greek term Paul uses throughout the chapter when speaking of “reckoning righteousness”. The Greek term (logizomai) cannot mean “to transfer,” since it would then mean “Blessed is the man whom God will NOT transfer his sin” – and thus the term “reckon” can only mean to ‘evaluate as’. This means that when Paul speaks of faith being “reckoned as righteousness” (in the very same context), he cannot be speaking of transferring an alien righteousness, but rather must mean ‘evaluating faith itself as having a righteous quality’. 
(4) In Romans 4:6-8, Paul equates the phrase “reckoning righteousness” with David's phrase of “not reckoning sin”. In other words, rather than being two different reckonings, they are one and the same, simply from two different perspectives. For example, if I clean a stain off my shirt, I can just as easily "reckon cleanliness" to my shirt as I can "not reckon a stain" on it, since both phrases refer to the same reality. This realization is huge and explicitly refutes the Calvinist notion of double-imputation, where not reckoning sin (i.e. forgiving) is seen as one half of the equation, bringing the sinner from a "-1" to a "0" state, and reckoning righteousness (i.e. transferring a perfect obedience to God's law to his record) is seen as the other 'half' of Justification, bringing the sinner the rest of the way from a "0" to a "+1" state. Given Paul's equating of the two, it’s impossible to say “reckon righteousness” is one half of the picture and “not reckon sin” is the other half, since they are synonyms here. To buttress this point, Luther and Calvin made this same claim, namely that Paul is teaching the two phrases are synonymous, which is also why they didn’t believe in the Active Obedience of Christ

Monday, August 27, 2012

7 Reasons to reject Sabbatarianism (Seventh Day Sabbath Keeping)

Sabbatarianism is the movement within Christianity that teaches the Seventh Day of the week (Saturday) is the day of rest, dedicated to the worship of God, and that to disregard this teaching is an abomination. It's strongest appeal is that the Ten Commandments seem to plainly teach that man is to "Keep the Sabbath Day holy," in which the Third Commandment states, "six days you shall labor, but the seventh day is the Sabbath". Though historically in the minority, Sabbatarians (especially the Seventh Day Adventists) have been very vocal and quite often very anti-Catholic. The reason for this is because they (rightly) realize that to boldly disregard one of the Ten Commandments is a grave error, and since the Catholic Church has been very strongly promoting Sunday worship then this can only mean the Catholic Church is some sort of anti-Christ movement set out to "hide" the Ten Commandments from mankind. Since the number 7 is the theme of this post, I will give seven reasons why Christians should reject Sabbatarianism.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The third most important passage in Protestantism (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I cannot count the number of times I have seen a Protestant appeal to 2nd Corinthians 5:21 in support of their view of Imputation. In fact, they quote it so often and place so much emphasis on it that I consider it the 3rd most important passage in all of Protestantism, behind Romans 4:5 (which I wrote about here). In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Protestants see encapsulated the epitome of salvation: the doctrine of Double Imputation. In this post, I will show that the Protestant understanding of this text is totally erroneous, and just how desperately they will latch onto such verses to support the heresy of Sola Fide.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The second most important passage in Protestantism (Romans 4:5)

Following closely behind 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 (which I address here), the second most important passage of Scripture for Protestants is Romans 4:5, especially the part that says God "justifies the ungodly". In the Protestant mind, Paul's chief concern in life is how a holy God is able to declare an unrighteous person to be righteous, without violating His justice. This mindset first originated with Luther, who struggled to explain and understand how he, being a rotten sinner, could stand before an all-holy God and yet be found acceptable. The "solution" to this dilemma is what Luther and Protestants think is the heart of the Gospel: that God formulated an ingenious legal scheme, through Jesus Christ, which made it possible for God to declare the unrighteous person to be righteous and thus justify them, all without violating his holiness, justice, and integrity. This mentality has taken over the minds of most Protestants throughout history, and is perpetuated through the mistaken appeal to Romans 4:5.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sorta-Scriptura or Sola-Scriptura?

Those who follow this blog (and my comments) know that I am a huge fan of Biblical exegesis, that is making apologetics arguments from properly interpreting Scriptural texts. Everyone is well aware that Protestants like to parade around holding up the Bible as if it is their trusted book for guiding their paths, but over the years I have come to see how utterly false and deluded this attitude is. In reality, it is just the opposite: Catholics are the ones who base their teachings from Scripture, while Protestants do not. And any Truth in Protestantism was already considered Truth in Catholicism, so it follows that any uniquely Protestant doctrines are unscriptural by this very fact. Since Protestants do not follow Scripture alone but rather traditions of men, Catholics need to start insisting the term "Sola-Scriptura" is inaccurate and rather opt for the more correct slogan: "Sorta-Scriptura". I say this for the same reason that Catholics should stop granting Protestants the use of the term "Reformation" when in reality what happened was a DEformation. St Francis de Sales (patron of this Blog) was even in the regular habit of calling Luther and Calvin "Pretend Reformers," because they didn't do any genuine reforming at all.

What does Sorta-Scriptura mean? It means Protestants "sort-of" follow Scripture. Throughout Protestant history they have had good insights to various texts when defending traditional Catholic teachings, so this should not be discounted. In those situations, Protestants are following Scripture. But when it comes to unique Protestant teachings (including Sola Scriptura itself), most Catholics have no idea just how embarrassingly shallow the Protestant proof-texts are. Take the widespread doctrine of The Rapture as one prime example: the chief Protestant proof-text is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, which they claim teaches that Jesus will "take up" (Rapture) all true Christians just prior to the Great Tribulation in order spare them the suffering it will entail. Yet this passage indicates no such thing, instead it is plainly talking about the very end of the world, when Jesus returns and separates the Sheep from the Goats to judge them (Matthew 25:31-46). Can you believe that millions of American Protestants (including many with Ph.D.'s) actually believe in the Rapture and think that there is all this great Biblical proof for it? Or take another example, the Reformed teaching that Christ, in our place, kept all the commandments we were required to keep: their chief proof-text is Romans 5:19, yet the "obedience" mentioned here says nothing about keeping the commandments for us. Rather, when the Bible uses the term "obedience" in reference to Christ, it is referring to Christ's sacrificial "obedience unto death" for us (Phil 2:8; Heb 5:8).

Other examples of significant Protestant doctrines being built on the most laughable of "Biblical foundations" are: the Baptist notion that Baptism is purely symbolic; the Anglican idea that the King of England holds a supreme leadership position in God's Church; the Lutherans name their church after Luther and give Luther a Popish status; the Seventh-Day Adventists say Ellen White is a prophetess and that Jesus judged the world in the year 1844; the Salvation Army rejects the Sacraments of Baptism & Communion; and the Pentecostals believe speaking in tongues is a ordinary rather than an extraordinary gift. The list could go on, but you get the idea.

The problem, in a nutshell, is this: Protestantism is not built on Divine Revelation, but rather on traditions of men, and so the Protestant mind first embraces the tradition of men and only then proceeds to "find" Biblical support for it. Catholics would do well to remind other Catholics and Protestants that Catholicism is the only Biblical religion while Protestants reject and denigrate the full teaching of Scripture. The Bible is a Catholic book, and the Catholics who know their Bible can easily trounce any Protestant of any denomination.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

1 Corinthians 15:44-50, a Jehovah's Witness favorite

Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) love 1 Corinthians 15 because they think it teaches that Jesus was resurrected as an angelic “spirit-creature” (St Michael the Archangel, to be exact, but that's another story) rather than being resurrected as a human with His same body. Most don't realize it, but the JWs deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus, which is a cornerstone of the Christian faith. Instead, JWs teach human bodies cannot go to heaven, only “spirit type” creatures, like angels, can go to heaven. So when the Bible speaks of Jesus being resurrected, the JW will say they agree, but that's because they've tampered with the definition of “resurrect”. To add insult to injury, they teach there are two types of resurrection, one type as a spirit-creature reserved for Jesus and 144,000 faithful witnesses, and a second type as a bodily resurrection for regular faithful Witnesses and all those billions of people who never heard about the Gospel. The reason why they teach this dual resurrection is to support their other twisted doctrines, for example their denial of an immortal soul. The unsuspecting Christian should be on the lookout for this, because the key proof-text the JWs use can scandalize the unsuspecting Christian. That text is from 1 Corinthians 15:44-50, which will now be examined.