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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Trample upon TULIP

Jimmy Akin wrote an article 20 years ago titled "A Tiptoe through TULIP" in which he set out to briefly cover the 5 Points of Calvinism and basically show how each of them were either compatible or incompatible with Catholicism. The article remains popular to this day, but I feel the need to comment upon it because I feel it's by no means the best Catholicism has to offer. It simply was too soft on the issues. In fact, a Catholic who knows the right things can easily "trample" upon TULIP, which Catholics should be doing if we want to stamp out this heresy. In this article, I'll go through and comment upon where Jimmy (who is a great apologist) could be improved upon, especially since this is a 20 year old article and I'm sure he's improved a lot on his apologetics since then.

Total Depravity
The Calvinist notion that man is 'totally depraved' after Adam fell into sin is an issue widely misunderstood. While Jimmy is correct to note that Calvinists don't intend "Total Depravity" to mean man is as sinful as he possibly could be, he somewhat waters down the issue by making it seem as a mere inability. In reality, TD teaches that man gravely sins continuously, even when he does good things like caring for his family, since his motives are always tainted by sin and lusts. And on top of that, they say even the tiniest infraction is eternally damnable, so the unregenerate man is continuously angering God at all times and worthy of hell at all times. The regenerate man still has his good works tainted by sin, but God graciously overlooks this and regards the works as pleasing to Himself none the less. But the Catholic Church teaches that man has fallen from grace, from a supernatural level to a natural level, so that his human nature is not properly corrupt or depraved, but rather more akin to being naked after losing the 'robe' of sanctifying grace. Calvinism denies the notion of sanctifying grace and taught that man by nature could supernaturally love God. But this is the error of Pelagius, except that while Pelagius (logically) saw nothing for man to fall from, the Protestants saw man falling from his natural state to a new depraved "sin nature" state (which logically entails the loss of human nature, especially since Jesus did not have a "sin nature" and yet is said to have shared in our nature).

Jimmy didn't actually show how serious an error TD is and rather made it similar to Catholicism's view that man needs grace. But the differences are actually huge and affect a lot.

Unconditional Election
Everyone agrees that God's decision to save is ultimately unconditional and that He does it out of love. But UE is more specific than that and basically deals with the different views of Predestination (since not all views are the same). Some views of UE are perfectly orthodox, while others are very unorthodox. In the "double predestination" view, which is the standard Calvinist UE view, God chooses to save and damn from the very beginning of time and does not base this decision on any good or evil the person does. God merely wants some in Hell and others in Heaven, and He will cause (in some way) each person to either sin so that He can have a reason to damn them, or to repent so He can have a reason to save them. Since this is a big topic, there isn't a lot you can say in just a few paragraphs, so Jimmy couldn't say much. What he did say though was fair, such that God does not predestine anyone to hell, but given more space he could have made some other important distinctions. Here's a good article on Predestination from a Catholic perspective.

Limited Atonement
Calvinists teach that Jesus only died for a select (limited) number of men, the elect. This is based on their erroneous view of the Cross, in which Jesus took the punishment they deserved. I've written a ton of stuff on Penal Substitution, so no need to go into much here. Jimmy rightly notes how there isn't any good Biblical evidence for LA, while there is good evidence that Jesus died for all men. The main problem I have with Jimmy's treatment of this is his failure to address the fact Catholics and Protestants view the Cross/Atonement very differently, disagreeing on what it means to say Jesus "died for" us. This is a very weak point of TULIP that can be exploited more and is somewhat the linchpin to everything else.

Irresistible grace
Calvinists teach that those whom God wants to save, He gives them the grace that enables them to 'wake up' to the reality of their ugly sinful situation and then truly desire salvation. This isn't taking away free will really anymore than we learning what food tastes good and what food tastes bad naturally leads us to desire the good food and not the bad. The main problem with this is that the Calvinist view of grace is wrong overall, and so they don't properly categorize and explain what grace is and what it does. Also, the Calvinist view cannot really explain how a Christian can sin, since TD has rendered their wills enslaved to sinful desires and IG has completely enabled them to choose the good. The Church teaches that grace is resistible, which is precisely how Christians can fall into sin. I think Jimmy did a disservice in his treatment of this, since he came off as suggesting "efficacious grace" is given to the elect with the power to actually transform but that "sufficient grace" is given to the rest of mankind but inherently lacks the power to actually save a person, as if the grace was inherently 'sterile'. That might not be his intention, but that's how it came across. This is bad because that's not true, and it undermines the fact Jesus really did die to make salvation possible for all men.

Perseverance of the saints
Calvinists believe that all who are saved will persevere to the end and never fall away. And if anyone does fall away, then they must have "never been saved in the first place." Jimmy rightly points out the various problems with this, such as the sin of presumption as well as going against the fact Scripture and Tradition are very clear that man can lose his salvation. Man can fail to persevere, lose his salvation, and be damned if he dies unrepentant.

However, Jimmy was incorrect to to say that in Calvinism a person can lose their salvation but Perseverance entails that God will prevent them from doing so. In reality, salvation can never be lost and was secured at the moment they were justified by faith. If Jesus died for them, they can never be damned. Period. Their salvation from then on is never in danger nor is it conditioned on perseverance. In reality, the very notion of "persevering" doesn't exist in Calvinism; there's nothing to persevere in. Only Catholics teach perseverance, as the Scriptures teach, which is that man can lose his salvation through grave sin and be damned if he doesn't repent, and thus fail to persevere in friendship with God.

But, again, Jimmy is right to strongly emphasize that salvation can be lost, so that's ultimately what's important there. He also rightly notes that nobody knows who will persevere, not even oneself. 

Conclusion
At the end of the article, Jimmy gives a "Thomist version of TULIP." I think this was not a good idea since it tries to build Catholic orthodoxy around a flawed and dangerous framework. There is no 'Catholic TUILP'. He apparently did this so that Calvinists could feel more comfortable accepting Catholicism, but a Calvinist already has to abandon so much error to embrace Catholicism that there's no sense in trying to spin Catholicism as a distant cousin to Calvinism. Jimmy basically made it sound as if they main problem was in the PS, when in reality there are serious problems in all of TULIP.

The main areas where Catholics should focus their attention is on Authority and Justification. Since Justification by Faith Alone is the "hinge of the Reformation" (as Calvin called it), then most of the Protestant errors (including TULIP) will naturally fall into irrelevancy if the main pillars are knocked down.

78 comments:

James Jordan said...

"Calvinism denies the notion of sanctifying grace and taught that man by nature could supernaturally love God."

Just to clarify, this "sanctifying grace" you are talking about is what--the "superadded grace" that Athanasius talks about Adam having had in Incarnatione Verbe Dei?

"But this is the error of Pelagius, except that while Pelagius (logically) saw nothing for man to fall from, the Protestants saw man falling from his natural state to a new depraved 'sin nature' state..."

Pelagius read the text rather like a Jew. Adam didn't lose spiritual capacity but simply became mortal. All men have both a good and bad inclination yet we can overcome the bad inclination as God tells Cain (post-fall mind you) "Sin is crouching at the door and its desire is to have you -- BUT YOU CAN CONQUER IT." If man did lose anything in the fall, how can God say this to Cain????

Pelagius was right. The language of grace grace grace is a foreign language both to the Old Testament and the Gospels. Its the language of Gnosticism, and therefore of Paul alone.

In the OT grace is simply favor/mercy and is always at least partially earned, as with Noah who "found grace in the eyes of the LORD" because "he was blameless in his generation." But in Paul's Gnosticism grace must not even be partially earned -- it must be arbitrarily and capriciously handed out randomly -- and its no longer mercy/favor -- now its magic enabling power! Most people who talk about grace grace grace have no idea what they even mean by the word because their brain is infected with Paul's nonsense use of the word as if it means "magic."

What the hell, for example, is your "sanctifying grace"? Magic power that God only gives to some people? Magic power handed out randomly? Pelagius was right. "Grace" in the Pauline sense is Gnosticism and nothing more. Grace in the OT sense is mercy, and its always partially earned.

James Jordan said...

"I think Jimmy did a disservice in his treatment of this, since he came off as suggesting 'efficacious grace' is given to the elect with the power to actually transform but that 'sufficient grace' is given to the rest of mankind but inherently lacks the power to actually save a person, as if the grace was inherently 'sterile'. That might not be his intention, but that's how it came across."

So many different types of magic you Gnostics imagine as floating about and being distributed randomly. It seems every time you invent a new adjective to put in front of "grace" you've got to invent 2 or three more to go with it. It would be so much simpler to just speak of the one and only true grace -- mercy -- and of how it is indeed partially earned and has to be.

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

Grace is a participation in the life of God, characterized especially by the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There are other graces, such as the gift of immortality, that is what was lost and why we are subject to suffering and death now. If Eden was no different than the world we experience today, then how was there a punishment?

Hymeneus said...

James Jordan,

Are you denying that God works supernatural things in us? Then was Baalam's donkey speaking according to its nature? Is it a donkey's nature to speak?

Is grace only mercy? What does Acts 6:8 mean when it says, " And Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people?" Is he full of favor/mercy? Is that what allows him to do great wonders and sings? Or is Luke a gnostic too?

Your chief fallacy is in your failure to recognize that a word can have distinct and complementary senses. We can speak of God's grace as God's mercy or God's favor in themselves and also of what is given to us as a result of God's mercy or favor: in this case, sanctifying grace.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

On TD:

Once again you continue to misrepresent the Reformed tradition, and I will remind you here that you one day will be held accountable for every careless word you utter (or blog). Now while I am sure you can find fringe hyper Calvinists who might very well be described by your caricature of Calvinism, I can think of exactly zero Calvinists I know who would agree to your description of total depravity. For my money, Akin does a much better job than you do in describing TD in a nutshell.

One thing you consistently *fail* to mention is that TD applies properly to *fallen man* in his *unregenerate* state. But your words above fail to make this distinction. Once God regenerates us, then our nature is elevated.

To give you a Biblical example. I hope you would agree that for Paul all human beings are either under the covenant of Law or Grace. If we are under the Law, then there is no possibility of doing what is spiritually pleasing to God. This is why Paul says in Romans 7:13 that sin, "through the commandment," becomes "sinful beyond measure." Now that's sinful! This is a perfect description of TD. We really are bereft of any spiritual resources by which we could ever merit God's favor or mercy.

This is why Paul elsewhere describes the unregenerate man as follows: "For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it **cannot.** 8 Those who are in the flesh **cannot** please God." (Romans 8:6-8, ESV).

This does not mean that unregenerate man cannot do what is morally or ethically right. They can. But such morally right actions, when done in the flesh, still **cannot** please God.

It is therefore **impossible** for unregenerate man to do **anything** pleasing from God apart from grace. This is what the Reformed tradition teaches because this is what we retained from the broadly **Augustinian** tradition.

As I've been interacting with you over the past couple of years it is clear to me that you are utterly **ignorant** of the Augustinian tradition that **we** (Reformed Protestants and Thomistic Roman Catholics) share in common.

But you are not Thomist by a long shot, which is why you fail to understand Jimmy Akin at a *basic* level. I would here advise your readers to take everything you say in criticism of Calvinism with a *huge* grain of salt, since much of your criticisms apply equally to Thomism! My goodness, Nick, you're attacking Roman Catholicism now!






Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

[Sigh], I dispair of you ever giving the Calvinist take on UE a fair hearing....

But what you say here is just unconscionable:

Nick>>Everyone agrees that God's decision to save is ultimately unconditional and that He does it out of love.<<

No, that is not what everyone agrees on. Conditional election (CE) which is championed by Roman Catholics in the Molinist tradition and Protestants in the Arminian tradition, is not "ultimately unconditional" but rather decidedly *conditional.* How could it be otherwise?

If God looks down the corridors of time (by his middle knowledge), to see who will be naughty and who will be nice (i.e., who will respond to his "free offer" of salvation), and then based on what he foresees, decides to elect these to eternal glory, then the basis for divine election is most certainly *conditioned* upon what he foresees. This means election is located first and foremost in the Divine intellect, not the will. Or more accurately, it is located in the will of man as foreseen by God.

Thomas Aquinas and Calvin (as I've shown you many times before, Nick), both locate election in the Divine will. Thomism in general, therefore, argues that God chooses *in view of* (but not because of!) man's foreseen merits. That's a huge difference from what Roman Catholics in the Molinsit tradition believe. They argue that God chooses *because of* man's foreseen merits.

continued next post...

Michael Taylor said...

continued from previous post...

At some point, Nick, you're going to have to stop *glossing over* the huge differences within your tradition on this point. Alternatively, I can just keep calling you out on it every time you do. (Call it a labor of love.) :-)

Nick>> Some views of UE are perfectly orthodox, while others are very unorthodox. In the "double predestination" view, which is the standard Calvinist UE view, God chooses to save and damn from the very beginning of time and does not base this decision on any good or evil the person does.<<

No, no, no, no. This is *not* the Calvinist view, but rather the Council of Trent's *misrepresentation* of the Calvinist view. Geneva would just as surely condemns this view as Rome does.

Here you commit the standard equal ultimacy fallacy--namely, that God elects (heads you win) and reprobates (tails you lose), like an arbitrary coin toss. But in point of fact, the Reformed tradition is in complete agreement with Thomas Aquinas on this point. God chooses to save (election) and passes over (reprobation) because of the principle of *predilection* (the Potter's freedom), or for the simple reason that he loves the elect in a qualitatively different way than he loves the reprobate.

The basis for damnation is not because God wanted to create someone in order to damn them; rather it is because of the reprobate person's willful rebellion against his creator. IN other words, people go to hell because of their sin--not because God didn't choose them.

If you die in a plane crash it's because of mechanical failure and the physics of gravity. It's not because you failed to put on a parachute. In the same way, the reprobate goes to hell because of his sin, not because God chose not to save him.

But the converse isn't true. Those who survive the plain crash survive because they were given a parachute. They didn't choose to save themselves; rather God chose to save them (John 15:16). So the basis for God's election and reprobation are not symmetrical as you wrongly assume. But both election and reprobation, as Aquinas taught, are solely a function of the divine will.

Even Jimmy Akin says the following: "Although a Catholic may agree with unconditional election, he may not affirm "double-predestination," a doctrine Calvinists **often** infer from it."

Here Akin overstates his case just a bit, but he clearly acknowledges that not all Calvinists hold to "double predestination" in the way Trent defined it. Unfortunately Akin doesn't realize that Trent misdefined it.

Virtually no Calvinist I know of would affirm what Trent condemned. But virtually every Calvinist I know of would affirm what Aquinas said:

"Yet why He chooses some for glory, and reprobates others, has no reason, **except the divine will.** Whence Augustine says (Tract. xxvi. in Joan.): "Why He draws one, and another He draws not, seek not to judge, if thou dost not wish to err." (ST I, Q. 23, art. 5, reply to 3rd objection)

cwdlaw223 said...

Nick -

You nailed it with unconditional election! Double predestination is Calvinism.

Man is unable to save himself without grace. (Unless you're RC Sproul and try to re-define the term semi-Pelagian to include Catholics). Unconditional election, in the Calvinist framework, is the choice by God and only by God to save some and not others. Man in his fallen state is going directly to hell so there is no choice by man on his own. He's already been damned to hell after the fall unless he has access to grace.

This is picking and chosing by God without any role for man. It's utter heresy which is why nobody taught such a doctrine as stated by the Protestants (certainly not Augustine who died a Roman Catholic).

The interation between man and grace has been and always will be a mystery. Only scholastics think they can solve this mystery.

Here's a great article by an EO on predestination that exposes such scholastic nonsense espoused by Calvin:
http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/predestination.aspx

I have yet to meet a Calvinist who didn't think he/she was the non-elect!

cwdlaw223 said...

Bottom line - my cooperation with Grace comes from God, my failure to
cooperate with Grace comes from my own fallen will.

Calvinists ignore the second part of my statement above and believe that if God gave them grace that man cannot reject it even though such statement is rejected by scripture and man rejecting God's grace on a consistent basis.

Nick said...

Michael,

You will have to be more clear as to what I said that was so wrong, in your opinion. I'm guessing though that you took offense to this part:

"TD teaches that man gravely sins continuously, even when he does good things like caring for his family, since his motives are always tainted by sin and lusts. And on top of that, they say even the tiniest infraction is eternally damnable, so fallen man is continuously angering God at all times and worthy of hell at all times."

You said you cannot think of any Calvinist that would agree with this description. That's interesting, because I got this description directly from the Westminster Confession of Faith!

WCF Ch 15, says:
"IV. ...there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation"

WCF Ch 16, On Good works, says this:
"VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands... because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith... are therefore sinful and cannot please God"

Ch 16 even says about true believers that their good works are tainted by sin, except God graciously refuses to consider their imperfection:

"V ...as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.

VI Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreproveable in God's sight; but that He, looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections."

You said:
"Once God regenerates us, then our nature is elevated."

I've not heard this talk before from Reformed sources. Plus, I don't think this statement necessarily gets around the fact that even the regenerate still do things with imperfect motives and thus even their good works are tainted by sin.

Please show where I misrepresented Reformed theology if you're going to make such strong statements against me.

Nick said...

As for the issue of Double Predestination, you said:

"God chooses to save (election) and passes over (reprobation) because of the principle of *predilection* (the Potter's freedom), or for the simple reason that he loves the elect in a qualitatively different way than he loves the reprobate.

The basis for damnation is not because God wanted to create someone in order to damn them; rather it is because of the reprobate person's willful rebellion against his creator. IN other words, people go to hell because of their sin--not because God didn't choose them."


You are neglecting to realize the pre-lapsarian vs post-lapsarian debate within Calvinism. The fact is, Calvin and the most consistent Calvinists are pre-lapsaring, meaning God predestined *prior to* taking into account the Fall of Adam. This means that God from the very start wanted certain men damned, and Adam's fall was merely the instrument in accomplishing it. What you are describing is a view where God's predestination plan takes into consideration the Fall of Adam, which thus basically has it's focus only in the post-lapsarian realm. See the link I already gave. And here is another link by Dave Armstrong:
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/06/calvin-supralapsarianism-and-gods.html

Trust me, I know what I'm talking about more than you might realize.

James Jordan said...

The trouble is you Gnostics want to equate sanctification with miracles like turning water into wine or something. Is it really that hard to live a holy life? As hard as suspending the laws of nature? Only a Gnostic would say so.

James Jordan said...

"This does not mean that unregenerate man cannot do what is morally or ethically right. They can. But such morally right actions, when done in the flesh, still **cannot** please God."

Why not? Is he a just a bastard???

If it is right it must of necessity to be pleasing to God. To say otherwise is simple devil worship.

Nick said...

James,

I'm really not sure where you're coming from. Are you a Jew, a Messianic Jew? Do you only accept the Gospels?

All you're doing is calling me/us gnostics, but if we don't know where you're coming from we cannot really respond.

James Jordan said...

Well Augustinian theology certainly does not fit with the Synoptics at all, and it makes a mockery of the Old Testament. Further, the basis of Augustinian theology -- Paul -- is clearly tainted with Gnosticism and that's why Augustine was so screwed in the head.

Prior to Augustine Paul was like Deuterocanon or even worse, like the Apocrypha is in the Anglican church. He was only used to establish things already established from at least one of the 4 Gospels. Do we need to defend baptism against the Cainites? Fine, we'll use Paul grundgingly. Do we need to defend Jesus' divinity? Fine we'll use Paul. But will any NEW Doctrine be based on Paul? Hell no! We don't trust him THAT much. Augustine changed this. And Christianity has been screwed every since. Predestination was not accepted at all -- then, bam, Paul is moved from Deuterocanonical to Canonical status and we are screwed.

So, what am I?. "Are you a Jew, a Messianic Jew? Do you only accept the Gospels?" I went through the stage of only acceping the Gospels, to only accepting the Synoptic Gospels since John is also a predestinarian Gnostic. I went through not Messianic Judaism but my own outright Ebionism. And now I suppose I'm on my way to Judaism. WHat does Christianity have to offer but an unjust view of God? "You can do good -- but God will not accept it until you're zapped by a magic nothing we call 'grace'." Take your grace and shove it up where the sun don't shine because its nonexistent nonsense and your view of God is idolatry.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>You will have to be more clear as to what I said that was so wrong, in your opinion.<<

I thought I was clear when I said you failed to distinguish between regenerate and unregenerate man. In the Reformed tradition, regenerate man can please God precisely because he is no longer in the flesh (Romans 8:7).

Nick >>You said you cannot think of any Calvinist that would agree with this description.<<

That's right. I can't think of any Calvinist who would confuse the ability of unregenerate man with the ability of regenerate man.

Nick>>WCF Ch 15, says:
"IV. ...there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation"<<

Right. But this statement isn't a statement about total depravity but rather the fact that sinners are separated from God by their sin. In other words, we are born into this world outside of the state of grace. This should not be a problem for you since Rome teaches the same thing. Therefore, all human beings, by virtue of original sin (and actual sin) stand in need of grace. But since we agree on this, this part of the WCF should be no obstacle between us.

Nick>>WCF Ch 16, On Good works, says this:
"VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands... because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith... are therefore sinful and cannot please God"<<

Right. Notice how the text says "unregenerate men." Even Rome teaches that good works done outside the state of sanctifying grace are not meritorious. They may be morally right in an objective sense. But they gain no merit. Likewise, we say that men in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:7; Hebrews 11:6). And we agree with the Apostle when he says, "whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).

Nick>>Ch 16 even says about true believers that their good works are tainted by sin, except God graciously refuses to consider their imperfection:<<

Nick>>"V ...as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.<<

Exactly. With a moment's self-reflection you'll see how true that is. At least I've never met an unmixed motive. Have you?

continued next post...

Michael Taylor said...

continued from my previous post....

Nick citing the Westminster Confession of Faith>> VI. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreproveable in God's sight; but that He, looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.<<

I'm glad you cited this paragraph because it really has to be read with V. The way I interpret it is as follows: Though we do spiritually pleasing things in Christ, there will always be "fleshy" motives that attach to them. But God is so gracious that he can accept these good deeds, even if they aren't perfect.

Nick>>You said:
"Once God regenerates us, then our nature is elevated." I've not heard this talk before from Reformed sources.<<

You've never heard of the doctrine of regeneration? Nick, take your pick from any Reformed systematic theology. Look up the word "regeneration" and just read. You'll find all kinds of language about the transformation of our sinful nature, "new creation," and work of the Spirit. Even the WCF, chapter 16 says this:

III. Their *ability* to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be *enabled* thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an *actual influence* of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of His good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is *in* them.

I don't know about you, but that sounds to me like the WCF is saying the Holy Spirit enables fallen human nature to do spiritually good works. Isn't that what Rome means when it says grace builds upon and elevates nature?

Nick>>Plus, I don't think this statement necessarily gets around the fact that even the regenerate still do things with imperfect motives and thus even their good works are tainted by sin.<<

But why would you want to get around this? Would Rome disagree? By the way, you have to be careful with the wording. WCF did not say "tainted by sin." It used the word "defiled," meaning that the intrinsic goodness of an objectively good deed can be compromised (defiled) by an imperfect, self-serving motive. Is this not what Paul said in Romans 7:13? The commandment is good, but Sin working through it, becomes exceedingly sinful. So yes, it is possible for a Christian to keep God's law, and yet do so in such a way that is sinful. But the good news is that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more! (see Romans 5:20).

James Jordan said...

" In the Reformed tradition, regenerate man can please God precisely because he is no longer in the flesh (Romans 8:7)."

But he really is still in the flesh -- so this is just a docetic lie about "no longer in the flesh."

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>You are neglecting to realize the pre-lapsarian vs post-lapsarian debate within Calvinism. The fact is, Calvin and the most consistent Calvinists are pre-lapsaring, meaning God predestined *prior to* taking into account the Fall of Adam.<<

Apples and Oranges Nick. This intramural debate among Calvinists concerns the logical order of God's decrees in eternity past. To wit:

Supralapsariansim:
1. The decree to elect some and reprobate others.
2. The decree to create both of them.
3. The decree to permit the fall of both of them.
4. The decree to save only the elect.

Infralapsarianism:
1. The decree to create human beings.
2. The decree to permit the fall.
3. The decree to elect some and reprobate others.
4. The decree to save only the elect.

Sublapsarianism:
1. The decree to create human beings.
2. The decree to permit the fall.
3. The decree to provide sufficient salvation for all.
4. The decree to save some and reprobate others.

None of this is either here or there with respect to the conditionality or unconditionality of the decree to elect and reprobate. As I said before, both Calvin and Thomas Aquinas locate the decree in the Divine Will.

Thomas says the decree is unconditional (for both election and reprobation), which means by your standards, he was a heretic, because this is clearly "Double Predestination" as you understand that term.

Unfortunately you lack nuance in your understanding of this issue. But don't take it from me. Take it from Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. I highly recommend that you read his book on Predestination, Nick. Honestly--you need to learn your own tradition better. Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Predestination-Reginald-Garrigou-Lagrange/dp/0895556340

The issue, Nick, is not whether or not Predestination is "double," but rather in what way it is "double." Both Thomas and Calvin held to a positive decree to elect with a passive decree to reprobate. Thus God actively "chose" the elect (the Greek word in the New Testament means to "select" from a greater number) in eternity past. But he "passed over" the rest. In other words, God only had to *not choose* some in order to effect their reprobation.

At least Calvin had the courage to call this spade a spade: If God "doesn't choose" someone, it's because he *rejects* him/her.

But of course this is exactly what we read in Scripture. Jacob I love, Esau I hated, and this before either one of them had done good or evil.

I know all Molinists and Arminians shudder at this thinking there is injustice on the part of God. But that's precisely the conclusion we're not permitted to make (Romans 9:14). The fact of the matter is that God doesn't owe anyone mercy, otherwise grace would be our due. This is why Paul is so clear when he says, "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy" (Romans 9:15).

Ultimately God has the freedom to show mercy to whomever he wants. He is under no obligation to use his foreknowledge to "peek" into the future to see how we'll act. As Thomas points out, it is precisely because God has loved the elect more in the first place that they will persevere to Glory.

But I'll let you discover that on your own. Read LeGrange and the the the first part of the Summa, question 23.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

On Limited Atonement:

I actually agree with you that Limited Atonement and PSA (Penal Substitutionary Atonement) go together, hand-in-glove. (Curiously, I think many who hold to universal atonement also affirm PSA, but I don't think they can do so consistently.)

The issue then, is whether or not PSA is true or not. I've recently blogged two articles on this and am planning two more in the near future. I may be on this topic for quite a bit. Once I'm done with my material, I'll begin to critique yours articles in more detail.

Your basic error regarding your entire treatment of PSA is the way you frame the issue as an either/or. *Either* Christ died "for us" to benefit us, *or* he died "for us" in our place. The fact is that both truths are affirmed and in no way conflict with one another. Trust me, if Christ had died in your place then it will be to your benefit, right?

Now, as for irresistible grace, you said this in passing: "since TD has rendered their wills inoperable."

I'm framing this one on my wall. You've said some whoppers in your time, but this takes the cake.

Really, Nick, how do you expect *anyone* to take your material seriously when you say things like this? For the record, we Reformed hold to free agency, but not free will, if by that you mean that unregenerate man can choose to do spiritually pleasing things. Romans 8:7 tells us man *cannot* do such things, and we agree with Paul. But as for this idea that we believe that have an "inoperable will," well that's just plain silliness on your part.

The Reformers taught the doctrine of the enslaved will, not the "inoperable will." In other words, Nick, we have a will, and it works just fine. It's just a will that is enslaved to its fallen nature and so we choose in accordance with our strongest desires, which are determined by our unregenerate nature. Simply put, the fleshly man cannot choose the things of God because he does not want to. Only grace can change his fundamental desire, thereby freeing up the will to choose the things of God.

Get it right already, Nick. This is just plain sloppy on your part. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.



cwdlaw223 said...

Nick -

Great work. You've consistently demonstrated the errors if Calvinism and Michael keeps helping you with his posts. Nobody taught Calvinism in scripture or before Calvin himself. Man will always keep trying to make a better form of Christianity for himself.

Michael Taylor said...

Cwd:

You've consistently demonstrated your ignorance of church history and the uncanny propensity to make assertions with no proof and then duck and cover when the evidence isn't going your way. Since I've already responded to you at length, I'll say no more here. (Why bother responding to someone who only wants monologue rather than dialogue?). But for the record, "Calvinism," as you seem to be defining it here, is really a misnomer. What I am defending is exactly what Thomas Aquinas defended, namely, Augustinianism.

Now since you think you know so much about church history, perhaps you might one day find the inner fortitude to delve into Augustine's doctrine of predestination and predilection upon which it is based. (Warning: if you do, you might start seeing how complex this issue really is.)

But so long as you think Jurgens' three-volume collection of quotations (largely ripped out of their original contexts) constitutes an accurate representation of church history, I predict you'll go on making ignorant statements about church history in general and Calvinism in particular.

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

Keep kidding yourself that a Catholic Saint believed anything close to your form Calvinism. It's impossible to square your form of Calvinism with Rome's sacerdotalism. Keep trying to call a pumpkin a watermelon and hoping its contents become sweet and juice.

That's what progressives do. They try to change history/words/logic/reason to suit their needs out of desperation.

Maybe you will read the article I posted and keep your intellectual pride at bay for one second. I doubt it. Scholastic/progressives like you and Calvin think they have everything figured out.

cwdlaw223 said...

Nick -

Keep up the good work.

Have you ever met a Calvinist who didn't think they were part of the elect? I haven't. That's the beauty of Calvinsim. Man now knows for sure that he's saved even though he can never, ever fully know if he's saved or not.

Not much you can do with guys like Michael but keep praying for him and posting truth. It works for some, but pride is a dangerous sin and hard to overcome.

Dave said...

Good points, Nick.

I will only quibble with your conclusion.

Jimmy's article was actually very helpful to me (but I do acknowledge your criticisms as valid) when I was on my journey. It actually did make me feel more comfortable. Because I was very concerned about giving up on the ideas of God's sovereignty and predestination - because I thought, still do, that both are abundantly Biblical.

It was good to know, as with most of the different Protestant camp's "specialty areas" of focus that they are not so much false as they are distorted to greater or lesser degrees.

That is the underlying, imo, essential fault of Protestantism. It atomizes Christianity and then hyper focuses and distorts a certain aspect of the Faith. Calvinists overemphasize God's activity to a degree that makes humans only appear to have free will.

Arminians do the opposite. They exalt man's will above God's.

Wesleyans have holiness, Lutherans have freedom. They all yank these emphases from their contextual home, the church, and necessarily distort them with that either/or thing they do.

cwdlaw223 said...

Dave -

Read this article: http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/predestination.aspx

I suspect you'll enjoy the perspective on "predestination."

Nick said...

Michael,

I took your criticism into consideration and updated the article to distinguish between regenerate and unregenerate. I still don't think I was horribly off base in what I said though. The Catholic view does not say that everything unregenerate man does is a sin, much less a grave sin, and the Catholic view does not teach all the regenerate's good works are tainted by sin and that God graciously overlooks this. Even the classical Protestant view of Concupiscence is that it is truly sin and is not removed by Baptism, so the only way to be pleasing in God's sight is if He continuously wont impute sin to you even though it's present.

As for the issue of regeneration "elevating nature," I've heard of regeneration many times. I've just never heard or seen any reference to this "elevating nature," nor is it clear what that even means. The Reformed categorically reject the notion of sanctifying grace, and thus the notion of 'elevating nature' isn't in their vocabulary. Rather, the Reformed see the role of the Holy Spirit more akin to a crutch, with man having a broken leg and unable to walk, the Holy Spirit now enables man to walk somewhat the same way as Adam was originally able to walk without assistance.

I have read Lagrange's Predestination book. That's one of the first times I saw Calvinism being accused of Pelagianism, and I realized how this made sense. He distinguishes between the Reformed and Scholastic view of Predestination, including (if I recall correctly) the fact Luther and Calvin held to positive reprobation.

As for "inoperable wills," I took your criticism and updated it to say "wills enslaved to sinful desires." But even here I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. For you to say: "we have a will, and it works just fine. It's just a will that is enslaved to its fallen nature" is almost having it both ways. The will "works just fine" but the will is also enslaved to fallen nature. That doesn't sound like a will working just fine. In fact, even Catholicism says the will is weakened (but not extinguished) by the fall; we wouldn't say it "works just fine." Many Reformed I have read have said very negative things about the state of the will, some going as far as to say free will was lost, and others I've talked to even saying Adam never had free will.
And without the nature-grace distinction, the will can at best only chose naturally good things, and this natural/creaturely love is what's enabled by the Spirit. In the Catholic view, even before the Fall Adam on his own could only love in a natural sense, and he required infused Agape to be able to super-naturally love.

guy fawkes said...

Jim in Lisbon here,
Calvin's view of the enslaved will was basically that of Luther's. While still a Catholic, he dreaded saying Mass as he felt he sinned in doing so. To vindicate Nick's assertion about Calvinist views on grace, google R. Scott Clark. Read what this Calvinist says about Adam not needing or having grace before the fall. I read/heard Jimmy Akin's stuff on this issue years ago in a debate with James White. I didn't like how he seemed to say Augustine and Aquinas were infralapsarian Calvinists.

cwdlaw223 said...

Nick -

Michael has a tendency to make up new doctrine out of thin air. Glad to see you pointed out his "elevating nature" claims. Nobody uses those words except him. That's the beauty of Pism. You aren't bound by any church and can interpret scripture however you please.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>I took your criticism into consideration and updated the article to distinguish between regenerate and unregenerate.<<

I think that's an important distinction, especially in light of Romans 8:7.

>>I still don't think I was horribly off base in what I said though. The Catholic view does not say that everything unregenerate man does is a sin, much less a grave sin, and the Catholic view does not teach all the regenerate's good works are tainted by sin and that God graciously overlooks this.<<

I would not defend the view that everything we do is grave sin. I would say that everything we do, we do with the nature that we have. If we are believers, we have been made new creations in Christ. This means we are in the process of becoming holy, which means we're not yet perfect. Since this imperfection remains, even after regeneration, there can be no denying that what we do will be, to one degree or another, "tainted" by this imperfection.

But you need to balance this out with the doctrine of common grace too. Even unbelievers are capable of morally good actions and have been gifted with natural abilities that account for things like the arts and sciences. My fear is that you're reading Reformed theology through too narrow a lens. In any event, I'm not here to defend every word every Reformed thinker ever penned.

>>Even the classical Protestant view of Concupiscence is that it is truly sin and is not removed by Baptism, so the only way to be pleasing in God's sight is if He continuously wont impute sin to you even though it's present.<<

I agree that baptism doesn't produce any sort of ontological change in us. And yes, "blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt." Who is that blessed man, Nick, if not the believer?

>>As for the issue of regeneration "elevating nature," I've heard of regeneration many times. I've just never heard or seen any reference to this "elevating nature," nor is it clear what that even means.<<

Forgive me for not being more clear. Sometimes I use Rome's terminology for the sake of translating Reformed categories into a language that will be better understood. You're right--"elevating nature" really sounds more at home within Rome than Geneva. But I nevertheless maintain that we have equivalent categories for getting to the same truth. I already pointed out WCF 16:III, and its use of the word "enable." Simply put, we believe that spiritually dead men (mired in the flesh as they are) are *incapable* of pleasing God. (In Rome-speak, they can do no meritorious good, since they are not in the state of grace.) But once they have been "made alive" (regeneration), then they can please God. So things like believing, repenting, and even cooperating with the Holy Spirit are now possible. This is because the Holy Spirit "enables" us to do these things.

As for how this relates to our "nature," I don't pretend to speak for the entire Reformed tradition here. But I would say this: If our nature was corrupted because of the fall, then after regeneration, it has entered into a process of renewal. This side of heaven, that renewal process is never complete, which is why no one should be content with his/her spiritual progress.

Since my M.Div is from a Pontifical School, and since my philosophical grounding is in Thomism, I am far more used to scholastic categories of grace/nature. But from my reading of Reformed sources (thus far), I think, more or less anyway, the same basic distinctions are being made, though with different terminology and different dividing lines. We, for example, tend to interpret the fall more like Augustine did--i.e., as having caused for more damage than later Romanism would allow.

Michael Taylor said...

>>The Reformed categorically reject the notion of sanctifying grace, and thus the notion of 'elevating nature' isn't in their vocabulary.<<

One doesn't follow from the other. We say nature is being recreated, starting at regeneration and continuing with ongoing sanctification. We reject sanctifying grace as a habitual grace of which one can merit an increase. But that doesn't mean we think of holiness only as a status. It is in fact a quality that one can grow in. But yes, we tend to be far less technical about how that happens.

>>Rather, the Reformed see the role of the Holy Spirit more akin to a crutch, with man having a broken leg and unable to walk, the Holy Spirit now enables man to walk somewhat the same way as Adam was originally able to walk without assistance.<<

Nah. Silly analogy that breaks down almost immediately. If anything, this seems to describe Rome. Grace builds on nature, right? So you with your broken leg are assisted by grace to walk. But the leg isn't necessarily healed all at once, right?

>>I have read Lagrange's Predestination book. That's one of the first times I saw Calvinism being accused of Pelagianism, and I realized how this made sense.<<

Weakest part of his book, by far. He hardly cites Calvin at all, and when he does, he's totally off base. When he accuses Calvin of a positive reprobation, he cites one place where Calvin simply says that reprobation is a function of the Divine will. So? Augustine and Aquinas said as much. But La Grange utterly "skips over" those places in the Institutes where Calvin says God "passes over" the reprobate. That's also what Aquinas said. (I can look these both up for you, but I am strapped for time at the moment.)

>>He distinguishes between the Reformed and Scholastic view of Predestination, including (if I recall correctly) the fact Luther and Calvin held to positive reprobation. <<

I can't speak for Luther, but as for Calvin, I'd say "that depends." By that I mean, "that depends" upon what is meant by "positive reprobation." Thomas said God wills the salvation of all men only antecedently. Calvin didn't use that language, but he made virtually the same distinction in the very citation La Grange includes--namely that God's reprobation is in accordance with strict justice. (This is way to complicated for a com-box response....)

>>As for "inoperable wills," I took your criticism and updated it to say "wills enslaved to sinful desires." But even here I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. For you to say: "we have a will, and it works just fine. It's just a will that is enslaved to its fallen nature" is almost having it both ways.<<

Not at all. Think about the delights of sin. People participate in it with the full consent of their will, plunging themselves headlong into disaster. They do this willingly. This means the will is working just fine. But why don't they will the things of God just as easily? Total Depravity, concupiscence, call it what you will. It's because they *want* to sin. Their greatest desire is determined by their dominant nature. If that nature is still enslaved to sin, then they will choose accordingly. Something has to break sin's grip on us before we could ever choose the things of God. By way of analogy, anyone who has ever broken an addiction can attest to this. Only when the desire not to drink, smoke, gamble, whatever, is stronger than the desire to do these things, are we able to practice virtue rather than vice. But what accounts for this? Natural human ability unaided by grace? Certainly not.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>The will "works just fine" but the will is also enslaved to fallen nature. That doesn't sound like a will working just fine.<<

Sure it does. A slave has a will and it works just fine. It's just that a slave isn't free. Jesus said "he who sins is a slave to sin." But clearly one has to have a working will in order to commit the sin that enslaves him, right?

>>In fact, even Catholicism says the will is weakened (but not extinguished) by the fall; we wouldn't say it "works just fine." Many Reformed I have read have said very negative things about the state of the will, some going as far as to say free will was lost, and others I've talked to even saying Adam never had free will.<<

I've never heard anyone say that Adam's will, prior to the fall, wasn't free. In fact I've heard that that was the only time man has truly had a free will. In any event, yes, you Roman Catholics do say the will works just fine, in the sense that, it can execute what the intellect specifies. Let's put it this way: It works well enough so that you can be held accountable for your actions, right?

Michael Taylor said...

Cwd, here's that link for you. I'm still waiting for your response (which your requested!). After that, I'll be happy to respond to all your new cheerleader material here.

http://fallibility.blogspot.com/2013/05/reply-to-cwdlaw223-on-bunch-of-stuff.html

Cwd>>Nick -Great work. You've consistently demonstrated the errors if Calvinism and Michael keeps helping you with his posts....<<

Goooooo team!

Cwd>>Michael has a tendency to make up new doctrine out of thin air. <<

Boooo, Calvinists!

Cwd>>That's the beauty of Pism.<<

Is that short for "Protestantism?" [just curious]

Cwd>>You aren't bound by any church and can interpret scripture however you please<<

Just like you did when you got our your three-volume set of "Faith of the Early Fathers," decided you were in the know on church history, and then interpreted Matthew 16:18 all by yourself (using your private judgment!) without *any* help from *any* church. Nice going, Cwd. Way to interpret scripture just as it pleases you.



Hymeneus said...

>>Just like you did when you got our your three-volume set of "Faith of the Early Fathers," decided you were in the know on church history, and then interpreted Matthew 16:18 all by yourself (using your private judgment!) without *any* help from *any* church. Nice going, Cwd. Way to interpret scripture just as it pleases you.<<

When I read the the New Testament for the first time as a non-Christian and not knowing of the existence of that passage, yes, Matthew 16:18 etc. did jump out at me as being a strong mark in favor of Catholicism (hey, don't they say that Peter was their first pope or something?). I never whip it out as a prooftext in conversation with Protestants because it will inevitably get bogged down in an argument of how the keys are the power to preach the Gospel or some nonsense like that, but it is convincing to me personally.

Michael Taylor said...

>>When I read the the New Testament for the first time as a non-Christian and not knowing of the existence of that passage, yes, Matthew 16:18 etc. did jump out at me as being a strong mark in favor of Catholicism (hey, don't they say that Peter was their first pope or something?).<<

Fascinating. But of course you weren't reading this with the guidance of "the church" ®, and so you were no better than a rebellious Protestant at the time.

Let me ask you this: When you stumbled upon Matthew 16:18, did you conclude, as Rome did at the First Vatican Council (1870), that Jesus thereby conferred on Peter (and all his successors--the bishops of Rome!) a "primacy of universal jurisdiction" over the entire church? Because I read that passage too, before I had become a Roman Catholic, and had no idea that so much could be read out of so little. In fact, it wasn't until I began to read Roman Catholic apologetical works, that I then embraced the "primacy of universal jurisdiction" idea (which I reject now, of course).

If you're interested, I have a fairly long series of articles on the meaning of "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18 over on my blog that provide an alternative interpretation.

http://fallibility.blogspot.com/p/roman-catholicism.html

But back to the point from which we both digressed: The substance of my remarks to CDW dealt with his basking in the glories of his Romanism, thinking that he now has an infallible interpreter to guide his every interpretation of scripture.

This is simply self-deception on his part. For one, Rome rarely gives any definitive interpretations of any verses in the Bible. (Matthew 16:18, however, is an exception--which is why I'd invite you to consider an alternative.)

For another, *before* CWD had Rome's guidance, he had to read the Bible for himself, just like you and I. I'm betting he wasn't reading Matthew 16:18 with the protection that an infallible interpreter affords. So, it stands to reason, he might have been wrong in his interpretation, just as you might have been when you first thought the passage was more favorable to Roman Catholicism.

Now lets imagine, for the sake of argument, that you and I and CWD were all mistaken--that we read Matthew 16:18 and jumped to too quick a conclusion (a possibility, since all three of us are fallible interpreters). If so, then how could we ever affirm what Vatican One did about this passage giving Peter and his successors a "primacy of universal jurisdiction" over the entire church?

We would never be able to make that affirmation if we're wrong about this text. And if we were wrong, then we have no basis for believing Rome is an infallible interpreter of *any* text, including Matthew 16:18. So the entire argument for an infallible interpreter goes out the window. It depends entirely upon whether or not we, in our fallibility, got it right when we first stumbled upon Matthew 16:18.

But what if we were wrong? In other words, I don't see how CWD (or anyone else for that matter) can bask in the glory of having an infallible interpreter if the very reason for believing in a fallible interpreter in the first place rests with ones own fallible interpretation. (See what I mean?)

James Jordan said...


Let me ask you this: When you stumbled upon Matthew 16:18, did you conclude, as Rome did at the First Vatican Council (1870), that Jesus thereby conferred on Peter (and all his successors--the bishops of Rome!) a "primacy of universal jurisdiction" over the entire church?


One might as reasonably assume this as assume that Romans 9 makes predestination unquestionable. The fact is both Matthew 16:18 and all of Romans 9 are late interpolations and are wrong.

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael Taylor -

Every person must make their own choice when it comes to what they believe. Nobody doubts that (except maybe you). The difference comes down to authority. You don't submit to any authority over your interpretation of scripture except yourself. I submit myself to Rome. I didn't examine all of scripture and then decide Rome was correct. I looked at the evidence of Rome's claims (which you would never make - if you did, you would be laughed at) and concluded that the evidence clearly demonstrates Rome is who she says she is and therefore I submit to her.

She is the Bride of Christ on this earth or else Christ failed, is a liar and not the Messiah.

Keep trying to manufacture a new form of Christianity. It doesn't work on this site.

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

Michael Taylor -

Under your logic one could never infallibly conclude anything! Not possible with the epistemological conditions you've created.

You certainly conclude the Apostles are infallible in their teaching. If Rome is who she says she is, she HAS TO BE INFALLIBLE BECAUSE SHE IS THE SUCCESSOR TO THE AUTHORITY OF THE APOSTLES. Your fallible mind keeps ignoring this logical fact. Rome has to be infallible given who she is.

You are free to agree or disagree with her, but you aren't free to take her teaching authority and give it to the masses which happened with the Reformation. Man became his own standard and authority.

Rome is the entity that has the authority to bind and loose in this world, not you. If Rome is a false church, Christ failed and he's not the Messiah.

cwdlaw223 said...

Rome's interpretations are binding upon Catholics whether they like it or not. You don't seem to understand the difference between an individual and the authority of Rome. Your argument that Ps and Rs are really the same is total crap. Rs are required to submit or they aren't Rs. Ps only submit to their interpretation of scripture because no church has authority over them.

If I conclude X, Rome concludes Y, I must submit to Y.

If you conclude X, your denomination concludes Y, your conclusion doesn't change and your denomination has no authority over you to change.

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

Michael -

I didn't request any response from you on your website. I wanted you to respond here. Once I saw your poor attempt at responding to my responses to me I knew that it would be a waste of time to follow your website.

You're incapable of keeping on subject and you have a nasty habit of speaking half truths or refuse to acknowledge your errors about Catholicism.

Michael Taylor said...

CWD:

Here's the link for you again:

http://fallibility.blogspot.com/2013/05/reply-to-cwdlaw223-on-bunch-of-stuff.html

I won't respond to anything else you say until you deal with the previous stuff you asked me to respond to.

If you don't want to reply on my blog, email me your reply instead. Or, if you know how to use google docs, you can put it there instead.

I just find it way too tedious to have to type in multiple com boxes. But if you don't want to reply on "enemy turf," I get that. No worries.



cwdlaw223 said...

If you are incapable if keeping your responses short and here that's your issue. I don't care if you respond to me or not when I point out your errors on this site.

Anonymous said...

Hi!!

Michael, have you ever been to the Midwest and been to a Protestant Dutch Reformed church? Nicks description of Tulip is head on for them. The ones who would refute what he said is the Christian Reformers which are the third or fourth break off of the Protestant Reformed church.

Peace be with you,
Jillian

Nick said...

I'm still trying to catch up on posts/emails after being sick and busy over the weekend.

Michael Taylor said...

Hello Anon:

Anoymous, I don't think you're anonymous anymore, unless Jillian is a "pseudonym" (get it?)

To answer your question: Nope. Never been to a Dutch Reformed church, though I have been to a Christian Reformed Church here in Massachusetts where almost every one has a last name that begins with "Van." Close, but no wooden shoe.

Nick's take on TULIP is a distortion of what most who people who would call themselves "Reformed" would believe. I myself think Jimmy Akin has a far better understanding of it.

But Nick's article only goes to show how divided Romanists can be in their appraisal of Protestantism.

Peace right back at you!

Michael Taylor said...

>>If you are incapable if keeping your responses short and here that's your issue. I don't care if you respond to me or not when I point out your errors on this site.<<

Whah. I'm taking my ball home!

Feel free to point out as many errors as you can find. I am, after all, fallible. Just like the Roman Catholic Church.

cwdlaw223 said...

If you said it, it must be right! Case closed and ignore history. Those guys were idiots. You have a new and improved interpretation of scripture that is better and more correct. You didn't study under an Apostle or have any tradition but you sure know what happened in the early church.

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

Don't kid yourself, any Catholic worth his salt knows that Pism is a heresy and a theological invention. That's why you need pages and pages of your writings to prop up what is historically and theologically untrue. Pism is dying a thousand deaths because of its theological relativism. In the end Pism turns into to secular humanism because man is front in center to determine what scripture really means.

Jesus tells you to eat his flesh and drink his blood for salvation and you go running to claim he's using a metaphor. That's an easy way out when trapped by history.

Michael Taylor said...

CwD>>In the end Pism turns into to secular humanism because man is front in center to determine what scripture really means.<<

LOL. "Hail favored one" really means "Mary was conceived immaculately."

Or try this one:

"Do this in memory of me" = "You've just been ordained priests"

Or this:

"You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and to you I will give the keys of the kingdom " = "Peter and his successors, the bishops of Rome, enjoy a primacy of universal jurisdiction over the entire church and are infallible in matters of faith and morals when the intend to teach something as universally binding for the entire church."

Or, "the gate is to remain shut" (Ezekiel 44:2) = "Mary remained a life long virgin"

Or, "He is the God of the living" = "Therefore you can bow down to statues and pray to saints"

If this is the kind of stuff "the Church ®" is passing off as the meaning of scripture, no thanks.




cwdlaw223 said...

Why don't you post the original Greek there big boy!

Step up and exegete scripture properly.

Start with these words:

"Do this in remembrance of me"

Funny thing is that the EOs never came up with your foolishness when examining the ORIGINAL GREEK.

So much pride and ignorance combined you are a modern day Luther and that isn't a compliment.

cwdlaw223 said...

Those who've died in a state of grace are not truly "dead"; they are our beloved in Heaven or in Purgatory (on their way to Heaven) and will forever be, world without end, part of the Communion of Saints -- the Church Triumphant (the Saints in Heaven, whether or not they are beatified or canonized), the Church Suffering (the saints in Purgatory), and the Church Militant (the saints on earth).

Only a P would remove all things supernatural and gut the Communion of Saints. Of course, Jesus told you just to pray to him! 1 Hesitations 4:16.

So much to learn and so much ignorance clouding your knowledge.

cwdlaw223 said...

Have fun with theological relativism where any ignorant cook can exegete scripture without regard to history, tradition, logic or reason and preach such heresy to confuse people.

You and Obama are made for each other! Progressives at heart.

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

"Do this in remembrance of me" can be translated as "Offer this as my memorial sacrifice." The Greek term for "remembrance" is anamnesis, and every time it occurs in the Protestant Bible (whether in the New Testament or the Greek Old Testament), it occurs in a sacrificial context.

Of course, that isn't good enough for you. You want the precision of the English language without the subjectivity of the Greek.

Keep trying to change history.

Michael Taylor said...

CWD,

On the Greek thing, have you ever studied it?

That said, "Offer this as a memorial sacrifice" is a bogus translation. First, "do" (poiete) probably is being used in a cultic/ritualistic sense. It denotes the breaking of the bread. It does not entail the offering of a sacrifice, though it could if there were a sacrifice being offered.

Second, "remembrance" (anamnesis) is just that. While the word in the LXX is often (though not always) found in contexts were sacrifice is performed, the word itself does not mean "memorial sacrifice." I think you've been reading too many Catholic Answers tracts. If Joachim Jeremias is correct, than the anamnesis is a plea that God would remember Jesus, and so Jesus is not commanding us to remember him, but rather commanding us to celebrate the Lord's supper which proclaims God's remembrance of his sacrifice.

That said, I have no problem with the notion that a "sacrificial context" is in view and that both terms (poiete and anamnesis) may have been chosen precisely because they are so often associated with sacrifice in the LXX.

The question, then, is what sacrifice is in view. I have no problem affirming that there is a sacrifice in view: namely Jesus. "Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7).

But here is what I don't see (because it's not there). That Christ "ordained' the apostles priests. That the bread and wine transubstantiated into Jesus are themselves the sacrifice.

In short, I see no evidence that the eucharist itself is a sacrifice rather than a sacramental enactment and memorial of a sacrifice.

But if you think the Greek proves otherwise, go ahead and explain. Dazzle us!


Hymeneus said...

Dear Michael,

You can cut the sarcasm. It's really not necessary.

Let me ask you this: When you stumbled upon Matthew 16:18, did you conclude, as Rome did at the First Vatican Council (1870), that Jesus thereby conferred on Peter (and all his successors--the bishops of Rome!) a "primacy of universal jurisdiction" over the entire church?

Yes, I did. What is the plain sense of saying that the Church is founded on Peter, that he is the foundation? I don't know if you mean by quoting the words "primacy of universal jurisdiction" to suggest that Vatican I's definition is somehow obscure, but it's not. Now, whether it was rash of me to conclude that there was a successive office of supreme pastoral authority is another question but that certainly seemed the most logical and plain meaning of the text to me at the time. I have considered since my first reading other possible explanations of what Jesus said, but none make as much sense of the text.

If you're interested, I have a fairly long series of articles on the meaning of "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18 over on my blog that provide an alternative interpretation.

Thank you for the link. I read the first several of your articles and you considered some interesting questions. However, I was disappointed because you failed to ask a very basic question. I don't know whether you never considered this or just ignored it. You have staked your argument on the claim that there is doubt that petra is the really refers to Petros since, after all, Jesus chose a different word petros (rock) to name Peter. I never saw you consider the fact that nowhere is this word petros used anywhere in Matthew or the rest of the New Testament to refer to anything but the apostle. My question is this: how then, can we be certain that petros as a synonym for petra was even in Matthew's lexicon? Is it not more probable that Petros is simply a masculinization of petra, a word the NT writers actually used, then a totally different noun?

I was not impressed with the other arguments either. For example, you said that Peter is no different from the other Apostles anyway because Matthew 16 was about a future promise and Matthew 18 is the fulfillment of that promise. Is that what the text says? The tenses are the same in both chapters! The only difference is the absence of a statement about keys in chapter 18. Do you think you are guilty of reading too much into the text by supposing that Jesus meant, "I am right now at this very moment giving each and every one of you the keys of the kingdom of heaven?" Why is the one statement that is necessary for your argument totally absent from the text??

I think there is good reason that Petros=petra is the scholarly consensus. You would be better off spending your time arguing that the promise does not apply to his successors or that it does not entail papal infallibility.

Hymeneus said...

As for allegations of fallible interpretation, I disagree. Perhaps your interpretation is fallible because you lack the inward illumination of the Spirit of God?

Michael Taylor said...

I had said with no sarcasm whatsoever: Let me ask you this: When you stumbled upon Matthew 16:18, did you conclude, as Rome did at the First Vatican Council (1870), that Jesus thereby conferred on Peter (and all his successors--the bishops of Rome!) a "primacy of universal jurisdiction" over the entire church?

You said: Yes, I did. What is the plain sense of saying that the Church is founded on Peter, that he is the foundation?<<

To which I ask: First, when I read the text, I didn't find it "plain" that Peter was the foundation. Jesus said he would found his church on "this rock," which may or may not be Peter. The majority of church fathers either didn't think it was Peter at all, or they thought it was Peter and his confession and other believers. The great Augustine's last known on opinion on the matter was that it wasPeter's confession and not Peter himself. So what is "plain" to you has not been "plain" to many supposedly "Roman Catholics" in the past.

You said>> I don't know if you mean by quoting the words "primacy of universal jurisdiction" to suggest that Vatican I's definition is somehow obscure, but it's not.<<

I agree. It isn't obscure at al. It's bold and overreaching. Perhaps it is rash of me to say so, but I don't see any thing in the text authorizing Peter to be in charge of the entire church. I don't see any thing in the rest of the NT to support that conclusion. And I do see in church history this idea being vehemently resisted. Cyprian of Carthage, for example, explicitly condemned the proposition of a bishop of bishops. All historians agree he was referring to Stephen, bishop of Rome. Cyprian said this at the council of Carthage, by the way.

>> Now, whether it was rash of me to conclude that there was a successive office of supreme pastoral authority is another question but that certainly seemed the most logical and plain meaning of the text to me at the time. I have considered since my first reading other possible explanations of what Jesus said, but none make as much sense of the text.<<

Where exactly do you see "an office" there and where exactly to see anything about "succession." (Again, sincerely asked with no sarcasm)

Michael Taylor said...

>>Thank you for the link.<<

You're very welcome.

>>My question is this: how then, can we be certain that petros as a synonym for petra was even in Matthew's lexicon?<<

That's a good question. But unless we want to obtusely confine someone's lexicon to only the words they wrote, there isn't any good reason to suppose Matthew was using petros in a way different from his contemporaries, except that he was using it as a name.

>>Is it not more probable that Petros is simply a masculinization of petra, a word the NT writers actually used, then a totally different noun?<<

By that logic, couldn't "petra" be a feminization of "petros?" In other words, if the two words were synonymous (as virtually all scholars today affirm), then why use "petra" at all? There would have been no need to "masculinize" petra, nor "feminize" petros since, if the words were indeed interchangeable, Matthew could have used either word twice.

But since he's using petros also as a name for a male, this raises the question of why he used "petra" at all, when he could have used petros twice.

All I am doing is reversing the logic, on the supposition that both words are synonymous, which I am granting for the sake of argument, because that is what most scholars believe.

Then I am suggesting (but not dogmatically) that the choice of two words could also be explained because two rocks (or distinct referents) are in view.

Like I said, it's an "alternative" interpretation. I still admit, even in my conclusion, that Peter may very well be "this rock." Many Protestants think so, but don't infer all that Rome does from this fact.

Michael Taylor said...

Hymeneus>>I was not impressed with the other arguments either. For example, you said that Peter is no different from the other Apostles anyway because Matthew 16 was about a future promise and Matthew 18 is the fulfillment of that promise. Is that what the text says? The tenses are the same in both chapters! The only difference is the absence of a statement about keys in chapter 18. Do you think you are guilty of reading too much into the text by supposing that Jesus meant, "I am right now at this very moment giving each and every one of you the keys of the kingdom of heaven?" Why is the one statement that is necessary for your argument totally absent from the text??<<

Fair enough. So if Matthew 18:18 isn't when Peter got the keys, when did he? Or do you suppose that Matthew failed to record this? I ask, because the one thing you can't conclude is that Peter got them in Matthew 16:19, because the tense is future, not present: "I will give," not "I am giving." So when did Jesus give Peter the keys, if not in Matthew 18? In other words, offer us a more plausible alternative.

Also, since we're clearly off topic here, I'd invite you to comment on particular posts on my blog if your interested in continuing this conversation.



Michael Taylor said...

Hymeneus said...
>>As for allegations of fallible interpretation, I disagree. Perhaps your interpretation is fallible because you lack the inward illumination of the Spirit of God?<<

That must be it! So, let me see if I'm following you. You came to Matthew 16:18, read it, and concluded that this text entails the papacy (office + successors) and infallibility and that the only reason why I'm not seeing this is due to my fallibility, which is in turn explained by my lack of the inward illumination of the Spirit of God.

If that's a fair representation of your position, then would it be fair to say that you are claiming the following for yourself:

1. Because you have the inward illumination of the Spirit of God, you are (or at least were) infallible when you read Matthew 16:18-19 and concluded that Christ founded the papacy, starting with Peter.

If so, then help me understand how this is different from Gnosticism or Mormonism. For it seems like the test for truth here is entirely based on the subjective illumination of the Spirit, which is equivalent to the claim to having an esoteric knowledge that only the illuminati possess.






cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

You have to be in academia! Nobody can be that ignorant of history and scripture when it comes to interpreting the Greek.

Of course, history is wrong and there is no valid "Tradition" that is congruent with scripture whereby a Priest connects the present with the eternal now. Can't happen and must be voodoo.

The beauty of a post-modern man trying to re-configure truth. Luther would have been proud of you.

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

We all follow ourselves at one level. Where you are dead wrong is that because we make a personal determination to follow Rome that somehow that means that Rome is fallible.

If you follow Jesus that would make him fallible as well. You just can't figure out that submitting yourself to something greater than yourself doesn't mean the something greater becomes fallible. Fallible people can find infallible truth.

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

You also need to add Protestantism to Gnosticism and Mormonisn. Very similar patterns (but at least the Mormons try to fix the history problem).

Your test for biblical truth is your personal interpretation of scripture. Nothing on this planet has authority over you but your interpretation of scripture.

If we interpret scripture as X and Rome interprets scripture as Y we are duty bound to change our interpretation to Y. Just as you would be duty bound to change your interpretation of scripture if Christ came down from heaven tomorrow and told you that you were wrong.

Michael Taylor said...

Cwd:

>>We all follow ourselves at one level. Where you are dead wrong is that because we make a personal determination to follow Rome that somehow that means that Rome is fallible. <<

That's not the claim. Let me try again. For you to *affirm* that Rome is infallible on the basis of your own fallible interpretation of Matthew 16:18 (which is all you can do) is to stake your entire theology (and hence your apostasy to the Roman church) on your own fallibility.

In a sense, no one escapes that. But then again, no one else claims to be infallible in the first place. (Actually, that's not true. The EOs ascribe infallibility to ecumenical councils).

So, yes, my claim that Jesus, the apostles and the teachings of scripture are infallible in matters of faith and morals is a fallible claim. Why? Because I'm fallible.

What I'm trying to get you to see is that you're in the same boat. When you apostatized, you read Matthew 16:18 as a fallible human being and concluded, (wrongly), that the church of Rome is infallible.

Your entire belief system rests on your own fallible interpretation of Matthew 16:18 (and a few other passages). So what good does it do to say you now have an infallible interpreter guiding your every interpretation of scripture (which is, of course, a joke, since Rome hardly ever does any infallible interpreting), when you didn't have one guiding your interpretation of Matthew 16:18 to begin with?

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

Michael -

"So, yes, my claim that Jesus, the apostles and the teachings of scripture are infallible in matters of faith and morals is a fallible claim. Why? Because I'm fallible."

Rome makes such claim and doesn't need me to make it on her behalf. That's your error. Fallible people can affirm infallible truth. You don't want to accept that logical fact.

My belief system isn't completely mine. You don't get that fact because you are so lost in your own man made, heretical system. Rome is separate and distinct from me.

Nobody denies that each person must make a determination for themselves. What you deny is that if a physical Church was created by Christ and given a complete deposit of faith that it would be infallible. That's impossible. Such Church contains God himself
and by defintion, must be infallible.

We might both be in the same boat, but you're headed for a waterfall and don't even see it on the horizon. I get my navigation from Rome, you get it from your own interpretation of scripture.

Your entire belief system rests UPON YOURSELF and your own interpreatation of scripture even if such interpretations are flatly contradicted by history.


Hymeneus said...

Deat Michael,

Re: petros/petra.

To which I ask: First, when I read the text, I didn't find it "plain" that Peter was the foundation. Jesus said he would found his church on "this rock," which may or may not be Peter. The majority of church fathers either didn't think it was Peter at all, or they thought it was Peter and his confession and other believers. The great Augustine's last known on opinion on the matter was that it wasPeter's confession and not Peter himself. So what is "plain" to you has not been "plain" to many supposedly "Roman Catholics" in the past.

It seems plain that Peter is the referent of petra because Jesus has just named him "Peter" and then immediately afterward promises him the keys etc. Your interpretation of Jesus's words becomes, "Thou art Peter, but upon me (or your confession of faith), the real ROCK which is not you, I shall build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Nevertheless, I will give unto thee individually the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shalt be bound in heaven and whatsoever thou shalt loose shall be loosed in heaven." If this is what was meant, why isn't the statement structured more clearly. As it is, it is quite clear to me that this statement of Jesus is in the context of his promise to Peter.

As for the Church Fathers, I am no patristics expert so I will only comment briefly. Do individuals saying we are all rocks or that Christ is the rock or that the faith is the rock contradict Peter being the rock? For example Ephesians 2:20 says that the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets and Christ the cornerstone. Does this mean this is the only way of looking at things and that the faith cannot be called the rock of Matthew 16:18.

As for St. Augustine, he gives his opinion in his Retractions. He was not a Greek expert by his own admission, and as he says, he was for a long time of the opinion that Peter was the primary referent of petra. What he says is that he later explained it as Chrost being the petra but the facts remain that (1) he originally thought otherwise, suggesting that it is the more plain reading and thought it a sensible interpretation, and (2) he never denies that saying Peter is the petra is an acceptable interpretation ("let the reader decide"). The fact that he accepted the papist interpretation means that he also accepted its implications (whatever those may be). He can hardly be used as a Protestant witness.

Hymeneus said...

That's a good question. But unless we want to obtusely confine someone's lexicon to only the words they wrote, there isn't any good reason to suppose Matthew was using petros in a way different from his contemporaries, except that he was using it as a name.

Uh, well take a look at how his contemporaries used the word petros. There are no instances of the word in the New Testament where Petros is used to mean anything other than Peter's name and it is not used at all in the Greek Old Testament. One of your blog articles mentioned a survey of classical and biblical Greek sources. What exactly are these "biblical sources?" They are obviously not the Bible.

By that logic, couldn't "petra" be a feminization of "petros?" In other words, if the two words were synonymous (as virtually all scholars today affirm), then why use "petra" at all? There would have been no need to "masculinize" petra, nor "feminize" petros since, if the words were indeed interchangeable, Matthew could have used either word twice.

No, that does not follow the logic. I am not supposing the words are synonymous to Matthew. I am supposing that they were not two separate words because they had, for Matthew, been collapsed together into a single word, petra. It shouldn't be surprising that petros would fall out of use if it means the same thing as petra and is almost identical in form. It would be like if in English piano and piana were both words the same instrument. Will time tolerate that kind of silliness?

Hymeneus said...

Actually, a better (and real example): The terms pianoforte and fortepiano both used to be synonymous terms for the piano. However, the latter fell out of use over time in favor of the former. The word fortepiano has for that reason been revived in recent times to refer exclusively to period pianos. You see the principal at word. People did not take to having two synonymous near-identical words.

Michael Taylor said...

Cwd,

You said:>>That's your error. Fallible people can affirm infallible truth. You don't want to accept that logical fact.<<

But this is exactly what I've been saying all along. You can't really be that obtuse, can you? Now that you admit this, think of what this commits you to epistemologically. Let me walk you through your intellectual conversion to Romanism one more time:

Step 1: You were confronted with the claim that Rome can be infallible under certain conditions.
Step 2: You were told that Matthew 16:18-19 provides a sufficient biblical basis for that claim.
Step 3: Presumably you went to the text and interpreted it, while still a Protestant. (If so, you did your interpretation sans an infallible magisterium to guide you. In other words, you made a *fallible* interpretation--which what we Protestants *always* do, which is what I've been claiming all along.)
Step 4: You then agreed that Rome is correct in its interpretation on the basis of your own interpretation. Rome agree with you, so now you agree with Rome.
Step 5: Now you confidently claim to no longer interpret things as a Lone Ranger Christian (i.e., a Protestant), but as an obedient son of Rome, because every time you read the Bible you do so under the protective umbrella of Roman infallibility.


And as I see it, this all depends on premise 3 above--your own fallible interpretation that you exercised while still a fallible Protestant. This is where you're supposed to say, "Yep, so what?"

Then, I get to say, "Then your infallible interpreter is only as good as your fallible interpretation of the evidence for an infallible interpreter." That's the necessary inference of your view.

Alternatively, you can do what we presuppositionalist Protestants do. We begin with God and his word, which we assume to be infallible. We acknowledge our own fallibility when coming to that word. We humbly acknowledge (ideally, anyway) that we can be wrong about our interpretation. And we are in principle (if not always in practice) open to correction based on a more plausible interpretation of the Word.

So we have an objective source of doctrine that is infallible (God's word), but no infallible interpreter of that word. That is the boat we claim to be in. We look at you RCs and see you in that same boat, and laugh at you when you claim to be in another.

Michael Taylor said...

Hymeneus said>>I am not supposing the words are synonymous to Matthew.<<

Okay, I got you. I'll say no more on this topic here, as we're massively off topic. I'll just mention that yours is a maverick view vis-a-vis the scholarly consensus which sees petros and petra as synonyms. In fact, it was once popular among Evan-Jelly-cals to argue that "petra" referred to a massive rock, while "petros" referred to a smaller stone. (There is some truth to this, as petra *more often* refers to larger rocks, while *petros* more often refers to smaller rocks. But they can have reverse meanings, and reverse meanings used by the same author. In other words, an author could use "petros" as a large rock and "petra" for a small one.)

This is why almost everyone agrees that by the time of Matthew's writing, the terms were interchangeable, which means it is impossible for us to prove that Matthew intended the two rocks to have a distinct *meaning.*

It is, nevertheless, entirely possible that he chose two different words (with the same meaning) in order to represent two different referents. It would be kind of like saying, "That's a "car" and [but?] on this "automobile" I will apply the wax.

Much depends on how we understand the Greek word for "and" in "and upon this rock". The word is kai, but it can also be translated as "but," and sometimes is in Matthew's Gospel (see, for example, Matthew 1:25, where "kai" is almost universally translated contrastively as "but" or "yet" or "though" rather than conjunctively as "and").

Again, if you wish to comment more on this, I'd be happy to respond your comments where I make these points in my series.

Hymeneus said...

Dear Michael,

I don't plan to comment any more on this issue as I am not a scholar of Koine Greek and there is not much more I can say. I will just leave some final thoughts. The principal question is whether petros is a distinct word from petra that would have been actively used by Matthew. The evidence as far as I am aware is this: Petros is not used by Matthew or any other authors of the Greek Bible except as Simon Peter's name.

There is no biblical evidence for the use of Petros so it is necessary that we turn to extrabiblical sources to see how petros would be used by a First Century Greek speaker. But, since language is not used uniformly in all places, it is also necessary to consider how other authors from the same background used it in order to discern how it be used in Matthew's dialect. Perhaps you would be interested in doing a survey of the use of petros in Matthew's contemporaries?

One final question. As for the scholarly consensus that they are synonyms, does this mean that the scholars agree that petros and petra were interchangable words actively used by Matthew, or merely that, had they both been found in Matthew's writing (for me, it is not clear that petros in Matthew's Gospel is a distinct word), it would be impossible to distinguish their meaning apart from their context?

Hymeneus said...

I would also like to apologize to everyone for my typing errors and the disorderliness of all my posts. It is hard to type/proofread/keep my thoughts straight because I am typing on a phone.

Nick said...

I've finally got back to a computer after this 4th of july weekend. I've not kept up with any of this, so if someone has anything they need me to address, just ask.

I'm dealing with a lot of backed up comments and emails at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Read this 150 page plus PDF document on Calvinism.

http://www.salvationbygrace.org/uc/sub/docs/bygracealone.pdf