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Saturday, April 20, 2013

John Calvin added the word "alone" to James 2:24

Most people are aware that Luther added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28 in his German translation, but few people are aware of an equally pernicious attempt to mess with God's Word done by John Calvin when he inserted the word "alone" into James 2:24. In reality, the word "alone" does not appear in the Greek of James 2:24. If one is going to be faithful to Scripture, a Catholic can no longer say that James opposes "justification by faith alone," because James never speaks of "faith alone" in the first place. But there's good news about this, because once we see why Protestants have continued to follow Calvin by adding the word "alone" to James 2:24, we will be able to refute Luther's heresy all the more easily.

Luther demonized the book of James because Luther rightly saw that James' Epistle was incompatible with Luther's interpretation of Paul's Epistles to the Romans and Galatians. He rightly figured that something had to give, and it made more sense to dispense with James' one Epistle than with all of Paul's writings. John Calvin would likely have rejected James as well, but he realized that something more important was at stake: the integrity of the canon of Scripture. Calvin rightly recognized that if Protestants threw out James, then it would be a free-for-all with the canon, which would demolish Sola Scriptura. So Calvin came up with an last ditch effort by adding the word "alone" to James 2:24 and thus (temporarily) saving both key doctrines of Scripture Alone and Justification by Faith Alone.

Since James says "faith without works is dead," John Calvin (and many other Protestants after him) argued that this "faith without works" was "faith alone," meaning a dead faith, and everyone knows a dead faith cannot justify. So when James says "man is not justified by faith alone," this simply is a truism: of course dead faith cannot justify. And of course, this doesn't affect Luther's doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone in the slightest, since no Protestant ever argued a dead faith could justify, but rather only a living faith justifies.

But thanks be to God, Protestantism is disintegrating right before our eyes as the Greek Text of the Scriptures is revealing that Protestant scholarship has been ignorant about (and sometimes deliberately hiding) the truth and the facts. For example, no Protestant apologist or scholar presents a fair and honest look at key terms like "atonement" and "righteousness" and "justify" and (especially) "impute," and as I'll show, with the Greek of James 2:24.

The Greek word that is translated as "alone" in James 2:24 is monon. This Greek word monon is better translated as "only" rather than "alone," but what is most crucial is that monon is an adverb. Just for a quick review from what we all learned in school, an adverb modifies a verb, where as an adjective modifies a noun. Since monon is an adverb, it cannot be modifying a noun like "faith," but rather it must be modifying a verb. What is that verb? The verb "justified"! And thus, James is not speaking of "faith alone" at all, but rather "only justified," and this is key.

The text is typically rendered in English as "a person is justified by works and not by faith alone," with emphasis on the joined words "faith-alone," but properly assigning the adverb monon would render the text something like the following: "a person is justified by works and not only [justified] by faith." An even better rendering would be something along the lines of, "a person is not only justified by faith, but also by works." That's huge! 

This realization completely demolishes John Calvin's argument that James was speaking of how a dead faith cannot justify. And this explains why Protestants have been fine with having the adverb "alone" coupled with the noun "faith" at the end of the verse. What James is saying is that man is justified by two means, by faith and by works. So faith is not the only thing that justifies, contrary to Luther's heresy. 

In trying to spin out of the implications of this truth, Protestants have argued that the word "justify" in James 2 means "vindicate" rather than "justify," which they understand to mean "prove you are a genuine believer in the sight of men." They claim that one can 'say' they have faith, but saying you have faith proves nothing. So the way works "justify" is that if one has a true faith, then good works will result, and these good works will prove before others that your faith is real. So faith cannot prove itself genuine before men, only works can prove the faith is real. But that's not what James is saying! James is saying "not only 'vindicated' by faith, but also [vindicated] by works," meaning that faith can vindicate before men and thus contradicting the Protestant attempt to change the meaning of "justify" to "vindicate." 

But things get even worse for the Protestant, since James does the 'unthinkable' by quoting Genesis 15:6 just prior to this: 
23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Since Protestants see Genesis 15:6 as the epitome of Justification by Faith Alone, the text should be understood as the following:
23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham was justified by faith before God”. 24 You see that a person is not only justified by faith, but also [justified] by works.
So why would James be talking about faith vindicating before men in verse 24 when he just got done speaking of faith justifying before God in verse 23? It cannot be, which is why the Protestant interpretation fails miserably. This realization has caused some honest modern day Protestants (such as this Calvinist) to reject the book of James, and rightly so, since it refutes Justification by Faith Alone. But one does not have to abandon James if they have correct theology the way Catholics do. 

(This article was an expanded form of one of my earlier articles, "How to use James 2:24 most effectively")

81 comments:

cwdlaw223 said...

Nick -

Those liberals couldn't stand to have God on his terms so they tried to add language to make their man made theology fit. Of course, once they changed scripture they could always fall back upon sola scriptura (with the new version).

Protestantism is a delicious poison because man is the ultimate authority to interpret scripture. There is no one person on this earth who's equipped to properly interpret scripture. Nobody can ever have that much knowledge and wisdom. But don't tell that to Ps. I have yet to meet one who didn't think their interpretation was correct (myself included).

There's a reason God protected this earth from having an incomplete Protestant Bible on this earth for 1,400 years.

I truly believe the Internet is the antidote to Protestant heresy. History weighs on a man's thoughts and has a tendency to squeeze out the heresy. It did for me.

Clint said...

Cwd:

As the Venerable John Henry Newman wrote, "To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant."

Nick:

Thank you for pointing out that the Greek word is an adverb rather than an adjective.

cwdlaw223 said...

History crushed me. I was a lifelong Calvinist until two years ago when the weight of history crushed me. The questions I asked on this site cannot be answered by Protestantism and I do not believe that Christ created a physical church on this earth that failed. Church doesn't mean a bunch of believers that have vastly different and contradictory theology.

All I hear at Mass is sin, repent and have faith. Pride keeps Protestants from falling on their knees and believing in the supernatural.

Anonymous said...

The Roman Catholic writer Joseph A. Fitzmyer points out that Luther was not the only one to translate Romans 3:28 with the word “alone.”
At 3:28 Luther introduced the adv. “only” into his translation of Romans (1522), “alleyn durch den Glauben” (WAusg 7.38); cf. Aus der Bibel 1546, “alleine durch den Glauben” (WAusg, DB 7.39); also 7.3-27 (Pref. to the Epistle). See further his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, of 8 Sept. 1530 (WAusg 30.2 [1909], 627-49; “On Translating: An Open Letter” [LuthW 35.175-202]). Although “alleyn/alleine” finds no corresponding adverb in the Greek text, two of the points that Luther made in his defense of the added adverb were that it was demanded by the context and that sola was used in the theological tradition before him.
Robert Bellarmine listed eight earlier authors who used sola (Disputatio de controversiis: De justificatione 1.25 [Naples: G. Giuliano, 1856], 4.501-3):
Origen, Commentarius in Ep. ad Romanos, cap. 3 (PG 14.952).

Hilary, Commentarius in Matthaeum 8:6 (PL 9.961).

Basil, Hom. de humilitate 20.3 (PG 31.529C).

Ambrosiaster, In Ep. ad Romanos 3.24 (CSEL 81.1.119): “sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei,” through faith alone they have been justified by a gift of God; 4.5 (CSEL 81.1.130). John Chrysostom, Hom. in Ep. ad Titum 3.3 (PG 62.679 [not in Greek text]). Cyril of Alexandria, In Joannis Evangelium 10.15.7 (PG 74.368 [but alludes to Jas 2:19 . Bernard, In Canticum serm. 22.8 (PL 183.881): “solam justificatur per fidem,” is justified by faith alone.

Theophylact, Expositio in ep. ad Galatas 3.12-13 (PG 124.988).


To these eight Lyonnet added two others (Quaestiones, 114-18):

Theodoret, Affectionum curatio 7 (PG 93.100; ed. J. Raeder [Teubner], 189.20-24).

Thomas Aquinas, Expositio in Ep. I ad Timotheum cap. 1, lect. 3 (Parma ed., 13.588): “Non est ergo in eis [moralibus et caeremonialibus legis] spes iustificationis, sed in sola fide, Rom. 3:28 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] : Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem, sine operibus legis” (Therefore the hope of justification is not found in them [the moral and ceremonial requirements of the law], but in faith alone, Rom 3:28 : We consider a human being to be justified by faith, without the works of the law). Cf. In ep. ad Romanos 4.1 (Parma ed., 13.42a): “reputabitur fides eius, scilicet sola sine operibus exterioribus, ad iustitiam”; In ep. ad Galatas 2.4 (Parma ed., 13.397b): “solum ex fide Christi” [Opera 20.437, b41]).



Ralph

De Maria said...

Hi Nick,

What do you mean when you say,

" In reality, the word "alone" does not appear in the Greek of James 2:24. If one is going to be faithful to Scripture, a Catholic can no longer say that James opposes "justification by faith alone," because James never speaks of "faith alone" in the first place"?

Because St. James also says:
James 2:17
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Sincerely,

De Maria

cwdlaw223 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cwdlaw223 said...

Ralph -

You can write pages and pages and pages but the word "alone" is never immediately after the word faith in scripture. You can try and try to make it so, but that does not make scripture contort to your theology.

Next up = down and left = right. Only a liberal/progressive (ex. Nancy Pelosi, Obama, Luther) could twist words to come up with something that doesn't exist. The fact that others tried to insert the word alone into scripture doesn't make it correct.

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223
So by your reckoning Thomas Aquinas was a liberal to.
“Non est ergo in eis [moralibus et caeremonialibus legis] spes iustificationis, sed in sola fide, Rom. 3:28. Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem, sine operibus legis” = Therefore the hope of justification is not found in them [the moral and ceremonial requirements of the law], but in faith alone, Rom 3:28 : We consider a human being to be justified by faith, without the works of the law.

Got it.

De Maria said...

Hi Ralph,

It is true that many Catholic Fathers have used the terminology faith alone in reference to justification. Specifically in reference to what St. Paul said in Rom 3:28.

There is a difference though, between what the Catholic Fathers understood on justification by faith alone and what Luther understood.

Here's the question I'll pose to you concerning those Church Fathers. Did they believe in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church? Did they believe in faith and works?

Everyone of them did. They were all priests and some were Bishops.

So was Luther, but here's the difference. Luther opposed faith and works. Whereas Catholic Doctrine does not oppose justification by faith. This is what happens in the Sacraments. Especially in Baptism. Where we appear before God without any works but believing that He will justify the ungodly.

Titus 3:5
King James Version (KJV)
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;

And the Church also teaches that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, on the Last Day and there, our works will be examined and those who have done the will of the Father will be saved. Those who didn't, won't.

Revelation 22:12-15
King James Version (KJV)
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

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.

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

sincerely,

De Maria

costrowski said...

Anonymous,
While the portion of Joseph A. Fitzmeyer’s commentary on Romans which you quoted commonly appears on protestant apologetic websites, it should be noted that what Fitzmeyer says next almost never appears on those same protestant apologetic websites.

“The irony of the situation is that the adv. “only” was earlier derived from that “right strawy epistle,” jas 2:24: “you see that a human being is justified by deeds, and not by faith alone” (ouk ek pisteos monon”. Once this Jacobean phrase entered the theological tradition, it was eventually used to explain Paul’s assertion in 3:28. James’ position is usually understood as a refutation not of Paul’s teaching, but of an antinomian caricature of his teaching, to which his own generic and sometimes unguarded formulation (e.g., 4:2) was eventually open. Paul was speaking of “deeds of the law” (Jewish deeds in observance of the Mosaic law), whereas James was referring to “deeds” that flowed from faith (Christian deeds). Again, James uses a restricted and narrow sense of pistis, seemingly meaning no more by it in the immediate context than an intellectual assent to monotheism (2:19b). Lastly, James understands Abraham as having been justified by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac (a deed), and not by his faith (2:21). See J. Jeremias, “Paul and James,” ExpTim 66 (1954-55): 368-37; Reumann, “Righteousness,” 270-275, 413: Luck, “Der Jakobusbrief und die Theologie des Paulus,” TGI 61 (1971): 161-79. Even so, one must further ask whether Luther meant by “only” what his predecessors meant.
(Romans A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, from The Anchor Bible commentary series, Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, pp. 361-362)

In addition, none of those authors cited were providing translations. They were commenting on the text. Between a translation and a commentary there is a huge difference. For example, in his Commentary on Romans (which appears in that list), Origin wrote:

“In this current passage, the Apostle, as if establishing the conclusion o[ his previous arguments. now says "Where then is your boasting? It is excluded. Through what law? That of works? No, but through the law of faith. For we hold that a man is justified through faith without works of law." He is saying that the justification of faith alone suffices, so that the one who only believes is justified, even if he has not accomplished a single work.”
(Origen; Commentary on the Epistles to the Romans, book 3, from the Fathers of the Church series, vol. 103, p. 226)

Here we see Origen providing a commentary and not a translation as Luther claimed to do. The footnote which is appended to this translation directs readers to go to the introduction which discusses this particular issue. According to the introduction:

In 3.9 Origen paraphrases Paul in Rom 3.28, "He is saying that the justification of faith alone suffices, so that the one who only believes is justified, even if he has not accomplished a single work."” (ibid, p. 39)

Here the author confirms that in Origen’s original Greek, he was paraphrasing Romans 3:28 in order to provide a commentary on the passage. Once again, a commentary is quite different from a translation. This fact should be taken into account by those protestant apologists who seek support in Joseph A. Fitzmeyer’s commentary, but unfortunately it rarely, if ever, is. Then, accordingly, that omission becomes a distortion in the service of the protestant polemic.

costrowski said...

But should you wish to marshal Origen in support of the protestant brand of justification by faith alone, the introduction adds the following:

“These texts seem to suggest that Origen can accept and even defend the expression “justification by faith alone" if by this one means that the initial gift of forgiveness of sins is received by faith alone and not on account of works of the law. When the sinner's first remission of sins is in view and its relation to works of the law, Origen seems to concede that faith alone is the cause of justification.” (ibid, p. 40)

That is quite different from the protestant brand of justification by faith alone, although it is perfectly compatible with the Catholic doctrine.

John W said...

Anonymous,

All of the fathers that say this are espousing Catholic doctrine, which is reiterated by the Council of Trent, that justification is a free gift of God. The channel of grace that justifies is faith.

[Quote]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.
(Council of Trent, SESSION VI, CHAPTER VIII, "HOW THE GRATUITOUS JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER BY FAITH IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD")[/quote]

The reformed put a full stop after that reality. Justification is static, effectively like a label.

However, James is speaking to Christians who have received the gift of faith and tells them that one isn't justified by faith only, showing that justification isn't static. Elsewhere in scripture, you can see that justification is intimately linked to sanctification, whereas the reformed have completely separated them.

So just because you can find a few of the fathers using the term "faith alone", they used it in a different context than Luther and Calvin.

Anonymous said...

John,
Being justified is a one time event. See Rom 5:1. James is speaking about the reality of faith-salvation being manifested in the life of the one who is justified. If you clam to have in Christ then your works will show that you are. If there are no works, then your claim to have faith is dead.

cwdlaw223 said...

Ralph -

You are deluding yourself if you belief Aquinas tried to physically change scripture itself like Luther. Aquinas lived and died a ROMAN CATHOLIC (not a Protestant). Huge difference and far cry from your liberal theology. He never belief in justification by faith alone because this theological worldview was made out of thin air by Luther to make his theology work.

You are unable to connect and/or trace your theology in history. Either everyone in history is dumb or you have some superior exegesis. I seriously doubt you have superior exegesis and like most liberals, you want the world to change to your beliefs instead of examining your beliefs against history.

You are like Nancy Pelosi when she tries to interpret the Constitution without regard to history. That's why there are so many different interpretations in Protestantism. There is no fidelity to history and/or Christ's Church that he physcially created on this earth to last and guide us in truth.

Your interpretation is not truth. You want it to be, but all you have is yourself.

cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

The only way that "justification" (as that word is used by Protestants) can work is by faith, hope and charity (not just faith alone). You keep trying to separate that which can't be separated. You have created a legal novum out of thin air with the Protestant view of "justification" as some form of legal issue. That's a horrible interpretation of the Greek in this case as demonstrated by Nick.

You can lose your faith even though you had it at one time. I know you don't want to hear that hard truth and you want to believe that once you have faith you're guaranteed to go to heaven. But scripture doesn't say what you think it says and what you espouse is easy believism. Just have true faith once and everything will be okay. Of course, you'll claim that nobody can lose true faith which is contrary to the faithful men in scripture who lost their faith (and found it again).

Faith is a journey, not an event.

cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

Do you really believe that Judas never had true faith in Christ? That Christ picked an Apostle without true faith (ex. Judas)?

Where is the logic for such position? Where is the historical support for this conclusion?

Nobody believed like you did in history with justification as some form of legal declaration. It doesn't exist just as Jospeh Smith's nonsense didn't exist in history. You espouse Church failure because there is no Church on this planet that preached the Gospel you want until the Reformation. If "justification by faith alone" is so central to the Gospel then Christ failed with his Church and is a liar.

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223,
I suspect you do not know how translations work. Translators will insert words into the text of Scripture when necessary. Just compare the various translations of today.

Aquinas no doubt believed in justification by faith alone in Christ alone as did Ambrosiaster.

If my "interpretation is not truth" then neither is yours.

Jillian said...

Hey Nick!!

This was a great explanation. After subscribing to your blog for the last 6 months, I have really learned a lot. Thank you for doing this blog for us..

God Blessings,

Jillian

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

You've lost me on this one. I know Luther added "allein" to his German translation of Romans 3:28, as did many before him (in other languages, mostly Latin) including Aquinas, before him. For example: Expositio in Ep. I ad Timotheum cap. 1, lect. 3 (Parma ed., 13.588): “Non est ergo in eis [moralibus et caeremonialibus legis] spes iustificationis, sed in sola fide" (Romans 3:28)

Two which I say: So what? The addition is absolutely justified (no pun intended) given the contrast Paul is making, and many, many able commentators, including the Angelic Doctor, came to the same conclusion as Luther. So what you should be saying is, "Good for Luther."

(See James Swan's excellent article on all this: http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/search?q=sola+fides)

The same, however, cannot be said of James 2:24, where the words "pistews movon" (faith alone, or faith only) are already present. No one "added" the word "alone" to them. Perhaps you meant to say that someone tried to "take it away."

But of course context is king and since James is not talking about justification in the same sense as Paul there is no conflict between them James is responding to the one who "says" he has faith (but really doesn't). To which James says that his works demonstrate the presence of saving faith. Justification is this context, therefore, has more to do with the vindication of the claim to faith rather than than a formal declaration of righteousness.

Both Paul and James are completely on the same page as most scholars, Protestant and Roman, readily affirm.







Kevin Tierney said...

Ralph,

Did any of those names listed put forth Bibles that included those words, or did they offer commentary on them, which pointed to context?

Remember, people in the second century the term homoousion was condemned.... or rather the way people presented it was being condemned, before it was defined properly in later centuries and is now central to our understanding of Christ.

So that some patristics/medievals used the modifier "alone" with faith, it did not mean that they held to a purely forensic justification involving imputed righteousness and the denial of free will. Luther held those things, and when the Apostle Paul stood in his way, he added words to Paul's letter.

cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

I do not claim to have complete deposit of theological Truth. Do you? More importantly, does your church when guiding you?

How do you explain Aquinas living and dying a Roman Catholic?

Michael -

If justification is truly a legal concept and the key to the gospel, why is there no church in history before the reformation preaching this pillar of your version of the gospel? There isn't one church or body of believers that you can point to preaching your version of the gospel in history? Do you just have better exegesis of something so obvious? Does it not concern you that for 1,400 years nobody believed like you do?

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223,
Yes, my church has the "complete deposit of theological Truth." Its called the Scripture.

My church is rightly guiding me when they are teaching the Scripture.

Did Aquinas believe everything you do? The answer is no.

costrowski said...

Anonymous,
You make the same mistake in regards to Ambrosiaster and Aquinas that you made with Fitzmeyer, namely, you have not looked at the context of a simple quote. For example, when it comes to Ambrosiaster, look at what he wrote about Romans 2:7 –

“Paul preaches that the judgment of God is just, as he has declared the future will be good, He says that those who recognize that the patience of God is designed partly for concealment and partly for greater revenge on those who do not correct themselves, repent of their previous works and live rightly armed with confidence in their faith in God, will not have to wait long before receiving their promised reward of eternal life”
(Commentaries on Romans & 1-2 Corinthians, from the Ancient Christian Writers series, p. 16, translated by Gerald L. Bray)

Now since we see Ambrosiaster’s view of faith and works, let’s look at his view of Romans 4:5 **in context**. He begins by exegeting 4:1.

l. What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh

“After showing that no one can be justified before God by the works of the law, Paul goes on to say that Abraham could not merit anything according to the flesh either. In saying the flesh, Paul meant circumcision, because Abraham sought nothing on the basis of his circumcision, since he was already justified before he was circumcised”


Here we see Ambrosiaster saying that works of the law means circumcision, or the Jewish identity marker. It does not mean any and all human energies even when aided by the Holy Spirit. But of course this view is irreconcilable with that of the Reformers.

Ambrosiaster continues:

2. For if Abrabam was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

“This is a rhetorical argument. Abraham does indeed have glory before God, but this is only because of the faith by which he was justified, since nobody is justified by the works of the law in a way which would give him glory before God. And because those who keep the law are still being justified, Paul adds: If Abraham was justified by works he has something to boast about, but not before God. Rather, before the world, lest he appear to be bound by the current law. But before God it is those who have faith who are justified.”

Here we see Ambrosiaster say that it is the Jewish identity marker which does not justify a man. Again, this is not what the Reformers need it to mean. Now that we have the context of Ambrosiaster’s thoughts we can jump to his exegesis of 4:5.

5. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

“This refers to somebody who is bound by sin and who therefore does not do what the law commands. Paul says this because to an ungodly person, that is, to a Gentile, who believes in Christ without doing the works of the law, his faith is reckoned for righteousness just as
Abraham's was. How then can the Jews think that they have been justified by the works of the law in the same way as Abraham, when they see that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law but by faith alone? Therefore, there is no need of the law, when the ungodly person is justified before God by faith alone. Thus Paul says that it has been decreed by God that when the law comes to an end, the grace of God will demand faith alone for salvation.”

Now that we have the whole context we see that Ambrosiaster was contrasting faith against the Jews’ claim that they were justified (and remained so) merely on account of their circumcision. Ambrosiaster correctly points out that there is no need of circumcision, or the Jewish ceremonial laws. But again, this is NOT what the Reformers need it so say. The Reformers need it to say that the works of the law means any and all human energies. But since we already saw in Ambrosiaster’s exegesis of 2:7 that this isn’t what he believed, it necessarily follows that he meant something completely different and incompatible with the Reformers’ view of faith alone.

John W said...

Anon,

Romans 5:1 does speak of justification as a past event, but it is also presented in scripture as present and future and with the use of conditionals like "if". It also shows that one can lose that state.
One of the two examples of justification that Paul uses in Rom. 4 is that of David. It points back to David being restored through repentance from the sins of adultery and murder. This is described as a justifying event.

Also, it wouldn't be hard to show what the handful of men understood when they used the term faith alone. It is exactly as Trent states.
Reformed theologian Alistar McGrath has admitted that the "reformers" view of justification was a theological novum, not taught prior in church history.

Even Luther and Calvin had different meanings of faith alone. Luther taught to seize Christ by faith alone (semi-Pelagian?), while Calvin taught it was only by faith, which is only possessed by the regenerated elect.

Anonymous said...

John,
Justification can have different meanings depending on the context. No doubt that justification is a past event with continuing results. The Scripture clearly teaches that we are justified by grace alone, by faith alone in Christ alone.

If the church in the early centuries did not teach this then this would be a clear indication of the church abandoning the gospel.

cwdlaw223 said...

costrowski -

You've demonstrated the progressive/liberal belief system of the Reformers. They need to change the meaning/definitions of words themselves in order for their theology to work. No fidelity to history or language (unless twisting language suits their needs). I've run into the same problem with RC Sproul and his allegation that Catholics are semi-pelagian when he knows full well there is no definition in history of Catholics believing in semi-pelagianism. Catholics have never, ever taught that man an approach God without grace (i.e., semi-pelagianism) and yet Sproul keeps calling Catholics semi-pelagian. Sproul knows he's making up a new definition of semi-pelagianism out of thin air and he's too intelligent not to know the definition of semi-pelagianism and how Catholicism tried to stop that heresy as well.

If you can change meaning of words out of thin air (ex. the word church) you can create new forms of Christianity off the back of Rome. That's what these people do. I know becasue I used to be one of them (without realizing what I was doing was wrong).

Kevin Tierney said...

Translation:

Contrary to your previous assertions anon, the early church did not teach sola fide as Protestants understand it.

Anonymous said...

Kevin,
Translation: If the early church did not teach sola fide then that shows it was not teaching the gospel. Rome does not teach the gospel (faith alone in Christ alone that saves) because it adds things to it such as belief in the Marian dogmas. To deny these doctrines is to cut yourself off.

Nick said...

The one weekend that I don't check my email and like 30 posts appear.

Kevin Tierney said...

Anon,

Again, the point was you were coming here stating that the early church taught sola fide as protestants understand that. That was proven conclusively false. Can you at least concede that, since you are now saying "well if they didn't teach it, they cut themselves off?"

Nick said...

To get up to speed, here are my thoughts:

(1) Romans 3:28 isn't really the focus of this thread, but costrowski got it right in that what matters more is the INTENT of using the word "alone" in Romans 3:28 (even though it doesn't actually appear there). If one intends something orthodox by mentally inserting 'alone', then that's not a bad thing in itself. But if someone intends something heretical, then of course it's wrong to add 'alone' either explicitly or implicitly.

(2) Michael Taylor, your response seems to have completely ignored the second half of my post.

(3) The Ambrosiaster quotes were pretty cool, so I think cwdlaw hit upon something brilliant in concluding that the Reformers were really the first liberals. It makes perfect sense really, such that there is a logical continuum between the Reformers and modern day liberal Protestantism. The Reformers needed to twist words around to make the theology work, and I've been saying this for a long time. It's proven by the fact the most conservative Protestants really don't care about what various passages COULD MEAN, but rather they can only interpret the text as what it CAN ONLY mean, exposing their bias. If "ungodly" in Romans 4:5 could mean Gentile, then all hell will break loose in Protestantism, and it has via NT Wright. The connection I never made until CWD pointed it out is that this methodology is as thoroughly liberal as what conservative Protestants condemn in liberal Protestantism.

John W said...

Anon,

You have demonstrated that if the church didn't teach the human opinions of a couple of men in the 16th century, then the church was apostate and the gates of hades did prevail against the church.

You would rather see Christ as a failure than challenge your religion which is unfortunate.

In the end, without an authoritative body to declare "Thus sayeth God", you are reduced to nothing more than human opinion which one cannot assent to with divine faith. It also reduces faith to who is smartest scripture scholar. Sort of like the Corinthian Church who split themselves among their favorite personalities.

The unbounded array of Protestant beliefs (even from the beginning of the revolt) are proof that human opinions abound.

A sovereign God did not fail to guide His church, unless His random choice of elect was withheld for 1500 years.

Nick said...

Michael and Ralph,

When Genesis 15:6 says "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness," isn't this just saying Abraham was justified by faith?

cwdlaw223 said...

Nick -

Scholasticism, Liberalism, Progressivism, Nationalism and man's selfish pride were at the forefront of the Reformation. It was never about theology but about control, power, money and sex. The liberals/progressives wanted a way to: (a) be in charge themselves, (b) be in charge of others with their interpretations of scripture that had to be correct, (c) not pay a priestly tax (I can sympathize with that one), and (d) be able to divorce their wives differently than the way Rome mandates.

Man thinks that everyone that lived before him was stupid and that he couldn't have figured out what is meant in scripture. That's scholasticism.

Protestantism is so enticing because man is in charge of his own interpretations of scripture and if he doesn't like one interpretation he just leaves his "church" and joins a new one or starts his own church and says that everyone else is wrong. That's pride and selfishness.

Protestants can't be wrong, just ask them.

I suspect Luther and Calvin both believed their interpretation was the only reasonable interpretation of scripture. They were surprised when other liberals like themselves didn't agree with them.

You cannot be a conservative politically and a Protestant. This was a big part of my conversion. Everything that I despise politically (ex. word twisting, refusing to recognize history, make it up on the fly) is what Protestantism did to the Church and Scripture. Of course, the same things that conservatives despise in their political world is often not brought into the theological arena.

Either admit that Christ failed with his physical Church on this earth known as the Catholic Church or convert. Otherwise, people are just living a lie and made up gospel that has no connection with history.

Steve Martin said...

Luther did not dispense with James' epistle...but called it "an epistle of straw".

He said many times that he may have missed something there and would continue to read it where he might be enlightened.

We Lutherans don't read Scripture on an even plane. We have a cannon within the canon.

The gospels, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews, etc..

Where the text does not drive Christ and His gospel, we don't toss it out...but we don't spend a lot of time there, either.

cwdlaw223 said...

Steve -

You also don't spend a lot of time reviewing history. Your theological worldviews are incongruent with history and presume church failure. The heart of your gospel is "justification by faith alone" which is a theological novum.

How can you live with yourself knowing that history was wrong for 1,400 years and yet you have to be correct? There were no proto-protestant churches and/or pockets of proto-protestant believers through time. You might as well be Mormon. At least they "fix" the history problem by claiming new revelation and freely admit the Church failed. You won't do that because you know if the Church failed then Christ failed.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Tierney,
How does one go about proving what the early church of the first few centuries taught? Does a quote or a writing of an early church father mean the entire church believed like he did?

When did the church first make a universal dogmatic statement on justification?

Nick said...

Steve is a good hearted person, but I'm getting close to banning him. For whatever reason, his posts are never on topic and never answer any questions. He merely repeatedly asserts a sentence or two about how much he trusts in Jesus and how Catholics should stop trusting in our works. It gets tiring and becomes spam after a while.

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223,
Where is your proof that "Scholasticism, Liberalism, Progressivism, Nationalism and man's selfish pride were at the forefront of the Reformation. It was never about theology but about control, power, money and sex."?

Where is your proof that the Protestant Reformers were after "control, power, money and sex."?
I need some specific examples before your claim can be accepted as true. If you have none then you are being dishonest.

cwdlaw223 said...

Scholasticism - Proof - The Reformers believed the Church screwed up and they could interpret scripture better than their predecessors.

Liberalism/Progressivism - Proof - The Reformers butchered their exegesis of scripture badly. They misinterpeted the Greek when it comes to key words (read Nick's blog for examples)


Nationalism - Proof - The Germans are very nationalistic and didn't want to be controlled by Rome.

Pride - Proof - Every Protestant who fails to read about the early Church when confronted. Luther was a narcissist. Read his own readings. The guy was a nut job. Calvin wasn't a nut job, however, he was much more devious than Luther.

Control/Power - Proof - Protestants don't want to be controlled by a church which is why they leave if they disagree and there is no central Protestant church

Money - Proof - People didn't want to pay a priesntly tax to Rome to pay for all of the crusades (so that Rome could regain land)

Sex - Proof - Look at how the Reformers changed the standards for divorce.

Where is your proof that your theology existed in history before the Reformation?

cwdlaw223 said...

"How does one go about proving what the early church of the first few centuries taught? Does a quote or a writing of an early church father mean the entire church believed like he did?"

The Didache is overwhelming proof of the practice of the early Church. There are many, many writings on the early Church fathers. The overwhelming theme in these writings is a sacerdotal form of worship.

Where is there ANY writing in the early Church (Pentecost - 400 AD) about jusitification by faith alone? sola scriptura?

Sola Scriptura is the biggest lie ever told to people and only works with a literate society that could afford a printed Bible. Bibles were priceless in the early church because the man hours it took to create one, limited ink and paper. That's why these Bibles were chained, they were worth so much. Furthermore, you need a literate society for sola scriptura to work. Only a scholastic would believe such nonsense.

cwdlaw223 said...

What's amazing to me is that a Protestant will demand layer upon layer of proof about Rome (which freely exists now in thanks of the internet) and yet close his own eyes to the lack of proof for his own beliefs in history.

If you want to bet your soul on the fact that you're more intelligent than people who studied directly under the Apostles and wrote about their journeys then go ahead. But please don't claim that your exegesis is somehow better than 1,400 years of history.

It's like a Catholic needs video evidence from the early church to prove what occurred even though there is NO EVIDENCE of a Protestant belief system being practiced in history.

cwdlaw223 said...

Read this article about the early church fathers about the Eucharist:

http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2010/11/early-church-fathers-on-eucharist.html

There were no Ps to combat in early history. Mostly gnostics (early form of Protestantism).

It's all about the Mass in the end.

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223,
Where has your church officially-infallibly interpreted the Scripture?
Where is this work to be found that gives you the official interpretation of Romans 5:1 for example?

The Protestant Reformers were forced to leave your church because the gospel and the Scripture was at stake. Rome was so corrupted in its doctrines that it lost the gospel and put itself above the inspired-inerrant Scripture. The Reformers chose to be faithful to Christ and the Scripture than to be under the corruption of your church.

You claim that the " the Reformers changed the standards for divorce." What reformer did this? What document of the reformers changed "the standards for divorce"?

Keep in mind that Jesus allowed for divorce for sexual immortality. Matt 19:9.

cwdlaw223 said...

Rome was never corrupted in its doctrines. If so, name one? It is you and the Reformers that have corrupted scripture and the gospel. Early Christianity was sacerdotal to the core (as well as Rome today - that's evidence that Rome is universal). Do you believe the early Church wasn't sacerdotal to the core? If so, where is your evidence? Your guess? We have the Didache and early Church fathers. What do you have? A pure guess? Scripture wasn't written like the Didache. In fact, scripture was chosen because of its use AT MASS. THE MASS PREDATED MOST OF NT SCRIPTURE BUT YOU'RE TOO BLIND TO ADMIT SUCH FACT.

I rebut every argument that you make and you dodge the Church issue like the plague. What happened to the physical church that Christ created on this earth? If it's some Church other than Rome please name it and point it out throughout history.

You just don't want to be subject to a Church created by Christ and led by the Holy Spirit. You deny the supernatural and create a form of Christianity out of thin air. You are so convinced that Romans proves your point and yet for 1,400 years of history nobody interpreted Romans that way. Christ commands you to drink his blood and eat his flesh to have eternal life and you turn around and say he wasn't serious and was speaking metaphorically. His followers knew he wasn't kidding which is why they left in John 6 because the saying was hard and abhhorrent to Jews in the 1st Century.

cwdlaw223 said...

What was at stake in the Reformation was theological relativism and a bunch of liberal/progressive nuts who believed they had a new interpretation of scripture that was better than the past (i.e., scholasticism). The fact that the leaders in Rome don't always follow the teachings of the Church does NOT MEAN THAT ROME FAILS IN ITS THEOLOGY. Of course, the Pharisee like conditions for a church on this site would have nothing but Jesus in charge of his church. Jesus had a murderer (i.e., Paul), denier (i.e. Peter) and traitor (i.e., Judas as his Apostle.

Man thinks he's in charge and has it all figured out now in the "modern world." Man ignores the supernatural necessary for this modern world to exist.

Luther, Calvin, Joseph Smith and Ellen White are all the same with just a little different spin on church failure and lack of fidelity to history.

I have more respect for an agnostic who argues church failure as a reason not to believe than a Protestant who ignores history and manipulates an interpretation of Greek and/or scripture for their man made theology to work.

cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

the liberal/progressive reformers changed marriage from a sacrament to something to be controlled by the state. Marriage is the single most important sacrament that God has given man and you don't even recognize it as a sacrament. Once marriage became controlled by government you could change the reasons for divorce.

cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

If you would use the correct Bible (which is the Catholic Bible and not some poor interpretation and/or incomplete version such as King James) you would see the error in the interpretation of Mat. 19:9.

The sacrament of marriage cannot be broken by man.

Here is another article to put you on the correct path on this issue:

http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/does-jesus-leave-a-loophole-for-divorce-in-matthew-199

Maybe now you'll start to see the liberalism that engulfed the Reformers.

cwdlaw223 said...

A more detailed article on the Protestant misinterpretation involving Mat. 19:9:

http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2009/05/does-bible-permit-divorce-in-case-of.html

Given the sinful nature of man, I wonder if the driving force behind the Reformation was centered on money and sex more than anything else. Pay less in tax? Who wouldn't want that. Be able to divorce no without shame? Another good one. The Reformation gave that to the masses and ripped away marriage as a God given sacrament to man.

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223,
One of the doctrines that was corrupting the people was indulgences. The church at Rome was built on the false pretenses of the selling of indulgences.

You need to answer these questions:
Where has your church officially-infallibly interpreted the Scripture?

Where is this work to be found that gives you the official interpretation of Romans 5:1 for example?

The topic is about faith alone and not the mass, marriage, liberalism so they are irrelevant to the topic.

cwdlaw223 said...

Nick -

Charity isn't my strong suit when it comes to Protestantism. Kind of hard after living a lie as a Calvinist all of these years to not face Protestantism head on. I often made the same stock objections I see on this site (and failed to respond to the Church issue as well). People just want Christ on their terms or put him in a box.

There are massive epistemological problems with Protestantism that are never answered. For example, what happened to Christ's church he created on this earth? (It was just a bunch of believers). Sola Scriptura (Scripture doesn't state this doctrine and it presume a literate population that has access to a Bible and enough intelligence to interpret scripture properly). Justification by faith alone (nobody believed this nonsense for 1,400 years or espouse some legal declaration involving justification or that our faith can ever be alone and separated from charity and hope).

The Protestant mind doesn't want to deal with these epistemological problems but it is sure quick to interpret Romans and tell you how you're wrong and therefore the Church must have been wrong for 1,400 years.

Steve Martin said...

Huh?

My post are never on topic?

Was this post not about Calvin and Luther and the Book of James?

Did I not speak specifically about that?

I was pretty sure that I did.

John W said...

For Luther's own words about marriage:
http://www.catholicapologetics.info/apologetics/protestantism/spancestor.htm#marriage

The article was written by a Protestant.

Luther had the nerve to think he brought marriage back to its rightful state.
He even allowed for polygamy for heaven's sake:

"I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter. (De Wette II, 459, ibid., pp. 329-330.)"

And to think, this man is the spiritual father of all Protestants.

cwdlaw223 isn't just engaging in calumny when he says this man was a nutjob.

John W said...

Anon,
The church didn't meticulously exegete every word of scripture because there was a living church that transmitted the faith. The New Testament was a meal.
W
hen you see doctrines being declared by the church with support from the scriptures it was almost always a response to a heresy. Almost all of the heresies came about from those who attempted to use scripture against orthodoxy.
The church read the scriptures in the sacred liturgy - the Mass. There were certainly theologians, but they always read the scriptures from within the walls of the church.
It has been used by Protestants as a scholastic tool to be argued over, ignoring the warning from Peter that scripture was not a matter of one's own interpretation. So why is personal interpretation of scripture a hallmark of Protestantism? The results are what one would expect- similar to a huge religious trade show and yet all the individual booths have the bible prominently displayed as the only tool of the trade.

cwdlaw223 said...

No calumny. Luther was nuts!

Obama and the Reformers would have gotten along nicely with their progressive views about marriage.

The fact that anonymous did not know the basics about the Reformers war on marriage isn't surprising. When you don't examine history you can't see the horrors of the Reformation upon society.

Anonymous said...

John W,
Let's don't stop with Luther but let's also look at some of the major figures of the OT who had more than one wife:
Jacob had two wives and two concubines.

Solomon who was one of the greatest kings and known for his wisdom (Proverbs) had multiple wives.

Even some of your popes had wives. Should we get into the thousands leaders of your church today who have brought great shame on the name of Christ and has caused your church to pay out millions of dollars? To think that it is claimed this is the church that Christ established is bunk. By their fruits you will know them.

Anonymous said...

Nick,
You asked: "When Genesis 15:6 says "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness," isn't this just saying Abraham was justified by faith?"

Yes. Faith is the channel through which the man believes in God who justifies.

Ralph

Anonymous said...

John W,
You wrote in regards to my question about if your church has officially interpreted the Scripture--"The church didn't meticulously exegete every word of scripture because there was a living church that transmitted the faith. The New Testament was a meal."

This means that you and all other RC's cannot know what the true meaning of any passage of Scripture. You are left to your private interpretations.

cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

Why are you unable to separate the Church itself from the individuals? Do the leaders in your "church" have any less sin than Rome? If so, sounds like a works religion to me.

Nobody can know the "true meaning" of all scripture because there are mysteries within scripture. Take the Trinity itself. It isn't in sceipture and it's a mystery. You are acting like a scholastic who thinks that there is nothing supernatural about Christianity and everything can be determined from scripture. Scripture was never designed to act that way.

Justification is not a one time legal event. Get over your heresy and put your mind in history. Nobody interpreted scripture like you do and they used the original Greek. Your pride keeps you from studying this topic like an adult.

Nick said...

"What's amazing to me is that a Protestant will demand layer upon layer of proof about Rome (which freely exists now in thanks of the internet) and yet close his own eyes to the lack of proof for his own beliefs in history."

Yes, it's a rank, rank double standard that no honest person should ever engage in. The idea that no amount of Catholic proof is sufficient while the most meager question-begging Protestant proof is 'the plain teaching of scripture' is a lie I've devoted this blog to exposing.

Nick said...

Ralph,

I asked if Genesis 15:6 means Abraham was justified by faith. You responded by saying "Yes." Since that is the case, then Justification by Faith must be the subject of James 2:23, where he quotes this very verse. This also must mean Justification by Faith is the context, carrying over to 2:24.

Anonymous said...

Nick,
James is using justification in life by the demonstration of works i.e. the fruit of being justified. In other words if a man claims to have faith in Christ then it will be manifested in his life by works. If there is no works then his claim to faith is dead.

Ralph

Nick said...

Ralph,

Then why did James say in 2:23-24 (paraphrased), "Abraham was justified before God by faith. You see that a man is not only justified by faith, but also by works"?

Why is James speaking of justification by faith TWICE, in successive verses, including quoting Genesis 15:6? Why even quote Genesis 15:6 here?

Anonymous said...

Nick,
James is addressing the issue of a man who claims to have faith but there is no evidence for it in his life. See James 2:14.

James uses Abraham's faith in the promises of God as a starting point. Abraham was justified by God when Abraham believed what God had said. After this, his whole life was one of works i.e. showing that he continued to believe God. We see this manifested when he was going to sacrifice his son. When he did this, he demonstrated the genuineness of his faith this work.

James focuses on demonstrating that a person has real faith that goes beyond a mere claim. It is shown in works.

cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

Define the word faith! I suspect you'll define it in a way that is very Catholic and not just some mental exercise.

Catholics believe that man can be justified by faith, hope and charity: http://jimmyakin.com/library/justification-by-faith-alone

You strive to make a distinction without a difference once you are forced to define faith as more than just a thought.

You also fail to understand that faith is not alone. Our works (through the grace of God) are part of our faith and you try to split them away. Nobody believed like you did in Christendom and yet that fact doesn't bother you. Something you think is so clear in scripture and yet for 1,400 years nobody viewed "justification" as being by "faith alone."

Not sure what more anyone can do but pray for you and hope that God softens your heart and leads you away from heresy.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

You've made some pretty uninformed claims about Calvinism in the past, passed yourself off as knowing more Greek than you do and generally used about any argument at hand, fair or foul, to trash Protestantism.

But this article sinks to an all new low. I've blogged a point-by-point reply at my blog: http://fallibility.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-reply-to-catholic-dude-on-james-224.html

If you're too busy to read it, here's the skinny. "Alone" is an adverb in English, not just an adjective, and so is a perfectly good translation of movov. Your entire argument is simply bogus, start to finish.

If you'd like to have a serious debate James 2:24, let me know. My schedule should free up about the third week of May.

(Really, Nick, no offense intended, but this blog article is so bad, it's funny).

Cheers,

Mike Taylor



Nick said...

Ralph,

So what you're saying is that James is speaking of two justifications? One before God by faith and another before men by works?

Nick said...

Michael,

I will read your article and hopefully respond.

Please note that the title of my post was meant to be humorous, as the issue isn't so much about the word "alone" as much as it is about properly assigning monon to justify. John Calvin nor anyone else added monon to the text. What many did do is play around so that the text said something other than what James was saying.

Barbara said...

Ralph

Dr. Robert Sungenis deals extensively with the issue of works and faith in his book " Not by Faith Alone" on the demonstrative/vindicative model he says
<< we can critique the use of demonstrative/vindicative model to explain Abraham's justification in James 2:24 from a larger perspective. The demonstrative/vindicative model assumes that Abraham's salvation is a foregone conclusion after Gen 15:6. In turn his justification needs only be verified by measurable act of obedience. The problem with this view is that the context of James 2 as well as the surrounding context of James 1-5, is not so concern with the demonstration of faith as it is with whether one, in the end will be saved . The question posed by James 2:14 is "can faith save him?" point to the future not " can he demonstrate that he is already saved" pointing to the past. Hence, if the person to whom James is speaking chooses not to perform the good works James details in 2:15, then the answer to the question posed in James 2:14 will be in the negative, that is, he will not be saved. The same must apply to Abraham and Rehab. A refusal from either to do the works of obedience require of them (i.e., not offering Isaac or not hiding the spies respectively) would have put them in the same negative category in answer to the question posed in James 2:14, they would not be saved. not applying the question of salvation to Abraham and Rehab with regard to their respective justification would neutralize James 2:14 of its intend to probe and interrogate this very important area in their lives. >> "Not by Faith Alone Page 130"

Michael Taylor said...

Barbara,

I'm not persuaded by Sungenis' argument. Here's why:

>>Dr. Robert Sungenis deals extensively with the issue of works and faith in his book " Not by Faith Alone" on the demonstrative/vindicative model he says 
<< we can critique the use of demonstrative/vindicative model to explain Abraham's justification in James 2:24 from a larger perspective. The demonstrative/vindicative model assumes that Abraham's salvation is a foregone conclusion after Gen 15:6.<<

Fascinating. I wonder how this view--the idea that Abraham’s salvation was up for grabs can be squared with the idea that he is our father in faith (Romans 4:16) that Christians are his spiritual descendants (Romans 9:7) and that election of both ethnic and spiritual Israel begins with him? Imagine the irony if Abraham were to be eternally lost, but not his spiritual descendents! But of course Sungenis is simply wrong because his salvation *was* a foregone conclusion or else Jesus’ story of Lazarus and the Rich man (Luke 16: 19-31)) makes no sense. You see, for that story to work, Abraham actually has to be in heaven now. (At least I can’t imagine an Abraham’s Bossom without Abraham. But apparently Sungenis can.)

>>In turn his justification needs only be verified by measurable act of obedience. The problem with this view is that the context of James 2 as well as the surrounding context of James 1-5, is not so concern with the demonstration of faith as it is with whether one, in the end will be saved.<<

Not even close. As we work our way through James, we see that James is very much laboring over the issue of putting one’s faith in practice. This includes concrete behaviors such as enduring trials (1:2-4,12), Caring for the widows and orphans and staying pure (1:26-27), being doers of the word, not just hearers (1:22-25), exercising impartiality and mercy (James 2:1-13), controlling the tongue (1:26; 3:1-12), practicing wisdom (3:13-18); avoiding worldliness and being humble (4:1-12); doing what is right (4:13-17); doing justice for the poor (5:1-6); practicing patience (5:7-11). And this is the broad context in which James 2 highlights, over and over again, the requirement to “show” one’s faith by putting it into practice. See James 2:18, 20-26).

continued next com-box...

Michael Taylor said...

Continued from previous com-box

Barbara citing Sungenis:

>>The question posed by James 2:14 is "can faith save him?" point to the future not " can he demonstrate that he is already saved" pointing to the past.<<

No. The verb “save” is an aorist active infinitive, which means James is talking about a faith that has already saved, not a faith that keeps on saving, or a faith that will save at some point in the future. The aorist active infinitive is the verbal aspect of choice when you want to specify a one-time action rather than an ongoing action with continuing force into the future. Presumably, Sungenis now knows more Greek than he did when he wrote NBFA. But in any case, he was simply wrong on this point.

>>Hence, if the person to whom James is speaking chooses not to perform the good works James details in 2:15, then the answer to the question posed in James 2:14 will be in the negative, that is, he will not be saved.<<

Again, no. James’ point is that faith that is not put into practice is not the sort of faith that can save. This is *descriptive* language that tells us what saving faith looks like, not *prescriptive* language for how to be saved at some future point. Notice how Sungenis is reading in Rome's synergistic soteriology into the text, a typically Roman Catholic and Protestant Arminian mistake.

>>The same must apply to Abraham and Rehab. A refusal from either to do the works of obedience require of them (i.e., not offering Isaac or not hiding the spies respectively) would have put them in the same negative category in answer to the question posed in James 2:14, they would not be saved.<<

[Sigh!] Here Sungenis is drawing inferences from the text that are not even in view. James’ purpose in citing the examples of Abraham and Rahab was to show us what saving faith looks like rather than give us counter-factual history about what would NOT have happened had they not obeyed. It simply astounds how far Romanists will go to turn descriptions into prescriptions.

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

Why didn't the Eastern Orthodox make the same mistake as the Catholics when it comes to Greek at issue?

The Catholics/EOs were wrong right out of the gate and yet you have a more correct interpretation of the Greek?

Barbara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara said...

Michael
You said
Fascinating. I wonder how this view--the idea that Abraham’s salvation was up for grabs can be squared with the idea that he is our father in faith (Romans 4:16) that Christians are his spiritual descendants (Romans 9:7) and that election of both ethnic and spiritual Israel begins with him? Imagine the irony if Abraham were to be eternally lost, but not his spiritual descendants! But of course Sungenis is simply wrong because his salvation *was* a foregone conclusion or else Jesus’ story of Lazarus and the Rich man (Luke 16: 19-31)) makes no sense. You see, for that story to work, Abraham actually has to be in heaven now. (At least I can’t imagine an Abraham’s Bossom without Abraham. But apparently Sungenis can.)
================================
We have to look at Abraham’s faith which incorporates the whole life of Abraham, a faith that believed God in spite of circumstantial evidence that militates against believing. God purposely frames the situation to test Abraham inner faithfulness. It took every ounce of will-power the Abraham possesses to believe in God that seemed to leading him in the wrong path in contrast to our first father Adam and the Israelite’s lead by Mosses out of Egypt they both did not believe in the integrity of God
In Gen 12:3 God promised Abraham “all nations will be blessed through you” {BTW was not in Gen 15:6} But if Abraham went the path of Adam and the Israelite, disobeying God and failing the test God might give him the land and increase his descendants but would not make him a blessing to the nations. In order for God to fulfill His Promise Abraham has to be obedience to God. The final test in Gen 22 seals and confirms the covenant between God and Abraham. In Gen 22:16 God swear an oath<< I swear by myself>> this language denotes that God has sealed the promise and would not be altered for any reason. See also Heb 6:13-17
This divine oath swearing occurs in Gen 22 and not in Gen 15:6 shows that without obedience of Gen 22 the righteousness previously credited to Abraham would become null and void. God would not have had to honor the covenant He made with Abraham if Abraham had subsequently disobeyed God. Gen 22:16 says << because you have DONE this and have not withhold your son your only son >> implies that because God conditions His oath on the obedience of Abraham. His obedience is of such importance that the blessing to his seed, and to the nations rest virtually on Abraham shoulders alone his act in Gen 22 is most perfect act of faith and obedience that has reflection for the rest of the world into eternity.
I will post my response to you rest of you post April 25 2113 @ 5:52 sometime this weekend

Barbara said...

Michael
Post April 25 2013 @ 5:52 am

you said

Not even close. As we work our way through James, we see that James is very much laboring over the issue of putting one’s faith in practice. This includes concrete behaviors such as enduring trials (1:2-4,12), Caring for the widows and orphans and staying pure (1:26-27), being doers of the word, not just hearers (1:22-25), exercising impartiality and mercy (James 2:1-13), controlling the tongue (1:26; 3:1-12), practicing wisdom (3:13-18); avoiding worldliness and being humble (4:1-12); doing what is right (4:13-17); doing justice for the poor (5:1-6); practicing patience (5:7-11). And this is the broad context in which James 2 highlights, over and over again, the requirement to “show” one’s faith by putting it into practice. See James 2:18, 20-26).
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if you observe how St. James opens up the matter in chapter 2 we realize that he places his materials in soteriological context as opposed to merely to “show” one’s faith by putting it into practice


1. James appeal to the royal law to focus and reinforce the same point our Lord and St Paul cite namely the second greatest commandments (2:8) "love you neighbor as yourself". if you keep this royal law you are doing right but if you show favoritism you sin and you are convicted by the law as a law breaker.

2. He admonish Christians not to discriminate against the poor (2:1-9) and encourage them not to come under JUDGMENT by breaking the Law (2:10-11)

3. He warns then to speak and act as those who are going to be JUDGED by the law that give freedom (2:12-13) because JUDGMENT without mercy is going to be shown to those who has shown no mercy (first reference of coming JUDGMENT) and thus the question whether one is saved or not is clearly in view

4. In 2:14 James pose the question << what good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith SAVE him>>. This is an eternal importance will he be saved a the section on faith and work

5. In light of his rhetorical question in V14, the obvious consequences of such sinful action in V19 and if one falls in a personal sin 2:10-11, that one will not be SAVED. And by extension, we must understand that the one who may not saved in 2:14 is the same person who may not be JUSTIFIED in 2:21-26

6. In both 2:5 and 2:15 present hypothetical yet highly probable cases, [in both cases situation involve persons financially not well off] and when he ask " can faith save him? he is directing this question to the person who is not abide by the royal law[ to love one's neighbored] . not only James would say that his faith will not save him, but also 2:9 says << if you show favoritism you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreaker >> the emphasis is on sin is very clear

7.Building on # 6 if one sees a brother or a sister in physical need and deliberately chooses not to provide for them it is not merely just a lack of works, it is also a sin [see 4:17,1st Jn 3:17]

8. James adding the words <> in 2:17 point out that his objection to solitude of faith otherwise he would've said [faith if it doesn't work is dead] without addendum of <> . He is making clear to describe the rupture in relationship is putting faith in the position of <>V 17 and <> in V 24 and there is no better way to describe it. it is not called "unqualified faith" or" nonjustifying faith. apparently James did not want to give the impression that as long as faith is of sufficient quality then faith by itself can save

To be continue

Barbara said...

I just notice # 8 didn't display the text between <>

8. James adding the words "By itself " in 2:17 point out that his objection to solitude of faith otherwise he would've said [faith if it doesn't work is dead] without addendum of "by itself" . He is making clear to describe the rupture in relationship is putting fait in the position of "By itself" V 17 and "is alone" in V 24 and there is no better way to describe it. it is not called "unqualified faith" or" nonjustifying faith. apparently James did not want to give the impression that as long as faith is of sufficient quality then faith by itself can save

Barbara said...

Michael

Post April 25 2013 @ 5:52 am

you said

No. The verb “save” is an aorist active infinitive, which means James is talking about a faith that has already saved, not a faith that keeps on saving, or a faith that will save at some point in the future. The aorist active infinitive is the verbal aspect of choice when you want to specify a one-time action rather than an ongoing action with continuing force into the future. Presumably, Sungenis now knows more Greek than he did when he wrote NBFA. But in any case, he was simply wrong on this point.
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Footnote # 24 Page 131 in Dr Sungenis Book Not by Faith Alone says
" the word "save" is a Greek infinitive of purpose which is used to express the purpose of the Action or state denoted by the principle verb. the aorist infinitive (used in James 2:14) when used in these cases to point to the future result of the main verb [in this case "able"]. New Testament examples od aorist infinitive used to point future result appear in Matt 5:17 Lk 18:10 Acts 10:33 et al.


you said

Again, no. James’ point is that faith that is not put into practice is not the sort of faith that can save. This is *descriptive* language that tells us what saving faith looks like, not *prescriptive* language for how to be saved at some future point. Notice how Sungenis is reading in Rome's synergistic soteriology into the text, a typically Roman Catholic and Protestant Arminian mistake. [Sigh!] Here Sungenis is drawing inferences from the text that are not even in view. James’ purpose in citing the examples of Abraham and Rahab was to show us what saving faith looks like rather than give us counter-factual history about what would NOT have happened had they not obeyed. It simply astounds how far Romanists will go to turn descriptions into prescriptions.


Barbara
Again read my previous two posts ((April 26, 2013 at 2:53 and April 26, 2013 at 7:53 ))

2:22 <>

James give us 2 aspects of the relationship between Abraham's faith and works

A)) Faith and deeds were working together
B)) His work completed his faith

Protestants contrary to scripture, separate Abraham faith form his works in order to compensate for the distinction they impose between the imputed justification and the ongoing sanctification. their gross distortion of Abraham makes the account of Gen 15:6 as a decisive moment of faith which gave Abraham his justification while they view Gen 22 a mere demonstration of faith or works that inevitable tagged alone after the justifying faith in Gen 15

Scripture clearly teaches contrary to that, James concluded in 2:22 ((in reference to the offering of Isaac before even getting to Abraham's faith in V.23))that Abraham faith and works are WORKING TOGETHER that shows that Abraham attempt to sacrifice Isaac was an ACT of faith (( See Heb11:17-19)) and not just merely a demonstration of faith.

one reads Gen 12-22 and find out that Abraham faith and obedience were working together all along Abraham journey

Michael Taylor said...

>>Footnote # 24 Page 131 in Dr Sungenis Book Not by Faith Alone says" the word "save" is a Greek infinitive of purpose which is used to express the purpose of the Action or state denoted by the principle verb.<<

This is asserted with no proof whatsoever. While Greek infinitives can show purpose or result, it is notoriously difficult to determine when or even if purpose is being shown rather than result. Sungenis needs more than bare assertion to establish that purpose rather than result or some other meaning is the intended one here.

That said, let us assume for the sake of argument that the aorist active infinitive here is showing purpose (rather than result) of the main verb δύναται. What proof is there that this purpose is only realized in the future? (Answer: none whatsoever.)

>>the aorist infinitive (used in James 2:14) when used in these cases to point to the future result of the main verb [in this case "able"]. <<

Now Sungenis is trying to have it both ways. The principle difficulty in sorting out aorist infinitives lies partly in the fact that they have absolutely *no* reference to time. The aorist gives us aspect, not tense. Think of it as a "snap-shot" that can give us either the purpose or the result based on its relation to the main verb. Sungenis seems to be saying that it is giving us both purpose and result! To say he's hedging is bets here would be an understatement.

In any event, there is no way to determine whether or not there is a continuing result or purpose with a future force precisely because we have an aorist. Had this been a present infinitive, we could at least say that there is ongoing action, which could imply future results or purpose. But here we have an aorist, and so the "tense" (past, present, or future) is simply indeterminable.

>>New Testament examples od aorist infinitive used to point future result appear in Matt 5:17 Lk 18:10 Acts 10:33 et al. <<

LOL! Exactly *none* of those aorist infinitives point to future result or purpose? Why? Because they're aorist infinitives which, by definition, have no time significance. Sungenis should know better than this.

John W said...

Michael Taylor,

Of course the aorist isn't primarily concerned with time, but action and I agree with your explanation of the verbal form of the word.
However, we aren't just looking at a word, but a passage, and the passage uses other words that give context to the action.
A more literal translation of the part of the passage in question would be “Is faith able to save him?”
Sungenis pointed out the word "able" in the footnote which conveys potential, which points to the future completion of that action.
He wasn't relying on the infinitive aorist itself and if you are really as sharp as you put on, you would have considered that before portraying Sungenis as a Greek novice, which is just plain silly.

Your initial response seems to show that you are only looking at a word and then drawing a conclusion based on the word by itself:
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Quote Michael Taylor
“No. The verb “save” is an aorist active infinitive, which means James is talking about a faith that has already saved, not a faith that keeps on saving, or a faith that will save at some point in the future. The aorist active infinitive is the verbal aspect of choice when you want to specify a one-time action rather than an ongoing action with continuing force into the future. Presumably, Sungenis now knows more Greek than he did when he wrote NBFA. But in any case, he was simply wrong on this point.”
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Your whole statement is based on the verbal form of the word, which makes you look like the one whose knowledge should be questioned, in fact rejected outright for omitting the context.

Not only that, but you violate your own statement that the infinitive aorist doesn’t convey time and then say that this is a faith that has already saved – making it out to be a past action. How do you explain that? You aren’t simply wrong on this point, but completely wrong and inconsistent.

Sungenis certainly isn’t out on an island on James 2:14. In fact, I had no idea that there was any substantial disagreement that this was pointing to a future aspect of salvation. Are you claiming an exclusive insight into the verse?
Maybe you should apologize to Sungenis and then try another angle at proving your point that has at least some credibility.

Michael Taylor said...

John W>>Of course the aorist isn't primarily concerned with time, but action and I agree with your explanation of the verbal form of the word.<<

The aorist infinitive is not concerned with time *at all* at least as far as we know. "Tense" simply cannot be determined, not even in relation to the main verb, which in this case is in the present, *not* the future.

JohnW>>However, we aren't just looking at a word, but a passage, and the passage uses other words that give context to the action.<<

Of course. But who ever said otherwise?

JohnW>>A more literal translation of the part of the passage in question would be “Is faith able to save him?”<<

Yes. And there is no indication that this is a future salvation based on the words "save" and "able." The tense of "save" simply cannot be determined based on the aorist. But the tense of "able" can be. It is in the present tense. There simply is no reason to read in futurity into this context as Rome's apologists have done.

It's really not that complicated. Faith without works isn't saving faith--not in the past, not now, and not in the future.

>>Sungenis pointed out the word "able" in the footnote which conveys potential, which points to the future completion of that action.<<

Like I said before, he asserted this. But he didn't argue this. It is not so much the tense of dunatai as it is the meaning of the word itself (able) that suggests potential. Here, however, we have an implied negation. Such faith (that lacks works) is at no point in time able to save.

>>He wasn't relying on the infinitive aorist itself and if you are really as sharp as you put on, you would have considered that before portraying Sungenis as a Greek novice, which is just plain silly.<<

Sungenis has admitted in the past that he's not a Greek expert. Presumably when he wrote NBFA, he was less knowledgeable than he is now. My intention was not to portray him as a novice, but to give him the benefit of the doubt--to rescue his proposition, not to condemn it. Sheesh.

>>Your initial response seems to show that you are only looking at a word and then drawing a conclusion based on the word by itself:<<

My initial response was only to argue that you can't determine futurity on the basis of a aorist infinitive--not when the main verb is a present tense verb. I still stand by that claim. Having said that, the aorist (though a snap shot aspect) is frequently used for completed past action (usually not with continuing result, which is the perfect), and so, if anything, dunatai may just as well be taken as indicating a salvation completed in the past as one yet to take place in the future. That's how I took it in my initial response, admittedly a bit off-the-cuff. This only goes to show that tense simply cannot be determined with aorist infinitives.

continued...

Michael Taylor said...

John W>>Your whole statement is based on the verbal form of the word, which makes you look like the one whose knowledge should be questioned, in fact rejected outright for omitting the context. <<

I did not omit context, and the inclusion of the context doesn't change the equation one iota. Consult any standard grammar on the aorist infinitive (Mounce, for example), and you'll see widespread agreement that tense simply cannot be determined, unlike present infinitives.

JohnW>>Not only that, but you violate your own statement that the infinitive aorist doesn’t convey time and then say that this is a faith that has already saved – making it out to be a past action.<<

Agreed. That was sloppy. Let me modify my initial claim to say: past action is equally likely, but also equally indeterminable. Strictly speaking, the aorist is not a tense, but rather an aspect. But it is often conveys past action. The verb "able" doesn't change that fact.

John W>> I had no idea that there was any substantial disagreement that this was pointing to a future aspect of salvation.<<

Fascinating. Until Barbara pointed out this footnote, I had no idea that anyone had ever taken this "save" as implying futurity. I simply took the verse as most versions translate it: "Can faith save him?"

JohnW>>Are you claiming an exclusive insight into the verse? <<

No. I'm simply focusing on the meaning of aorist infinitives (tightening up my own understanding of those in the process) and testing the claim of whether or not "able" introduces an element of futurity.

I noticed that you utterly failed to interact with my claim that commentators find it very difficult to determine whether the aorist infinitive is suggesting purpose or result (or something else). I pointed out that Sungenis, in one breath claims purpose, and in another result, when the point of discernment is to determine which, if either, is in view. You skipped over that part of my response in silence. Why?

John W>>Maybe you should apologize to Sungenis and then try another angle at proving your point that has at least some credibility.<<

Why? My credibility isn't on trial here. This is a com-box response, not a published academic work. Sungenis is the one who made unsubstantiated and confusing claims about futurity, purpose and result, and made absolutely no mention of the fact that aorist infinitives have no determinable time significance. Perhaps he should retract/modify is initial claim.

While we're on the subject of effrontery, might as well ask you to apologize for misrepresenting my initial com-box reply by skipping over relevant portions of it in utter silence. Clearly you're not interested in dialogue, but rather monologue, which is tendentious and argumentative (and therefore wrong).

Cheers,

Mike Taylor