Pages

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The difference between Catholics and Protestants

Over at Creed, Code, Cult, there is a new post (LINK) briefly discussing the core differences between Catholics and Protestants. People on each side of the fence need to know both their own position as well as the position of those on the other side, otherwise dialogue will never go anywhere. When each side defines key terms very differently, it does no good to simply quote verses, since each side is reading them with their own lens.

There is also an good discussion going on in the comments between me ("Nick") and "Eric," as well as a few others. The other comments are not really on topic, so if you don't have the time, just skim over them (e.g. the person posting by the name "Faith" is going off on his own tangents).

13 comments:

Kim said...

Do you think John MacArthur realizes how Catholic he sounds in this post http://www.gty.org/blog/B140714/obedience-and-responsibility

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

It's both pathetic and sad how you continually misrepresent Protestant (read: "Calvinistic") theology in order to set up these false dichotomies of which you are so fond.

I read the post and had to laugh when I got to the contrast. Calvinism = salvation by "doing" whereas Romanism = salvation by "being."

Silliness. I suspect you've never actually read a Reformed systematic theology on the doctrine of our union with Christ or any Reformed exegete on the Pauline usage of the phrase "in Christ," for if you had, you would have never set up the contrast that way.

In fact, I think you misrepresent your own tradition as well, as certainly the Roman Catholic tradition makes a very strong connection between "doing" and "being."

Please try to understand the scholastic distinction between the order of knowing and the order of being. It will help you immensely.

The order of being grounds all of reality. The order of knowing is derivative. So, for example, a tree (the order of being) is known by (the order of knowing) its fruit. In other words, causes (the order of being) are known by their effects (the order of knowing).

Any Roman Catholic who claims to be in the state of grace is rightly asked a few questions:

1. Were you baptized?
2. Are you conscious of serious sin in your life?
3. If so, have you confessed that sin and received sacramental absolution?

If yes to all of these questions, then even then it is said that one can at best have a moral certitude about one's state of soul, unless God gives a special revelation to that individual.

The point, of course, is that "being" in a state of grace is not affirmable apart from "doing" something. So unless you first "do," then you can't say you "know" that you are "being" in right relationship with God.

In other words, I think you're falsely dichotomizing your own tradition here, since doing/being are very closely connected.

It might surprise you to know that we agree in principle with this distinction, only we tend to talk about it more under the rubric of "election."

We say the elect are surely saved (by definition of the word "elect"). These souls are (or surely will be) in right relationship with God (that's the "being" part.) But we also say we cannot know for certain who the elect are.

But there are things we can "do" that can help us to "know" who the elect probably are. In other words, we look for fruit:

1. Has the person made a profession of faith?
2. Is there evidence of repentance and a transformed life?
3. Is the person connected to a local body of believers? Has he/she been baptized? etc.

In other words, while we do not think it is baptism, professions and repentance that *cause* on to be saved, we do say that these things are the evidence that one probably has been saved.

So for us, just like for you, "doing" and "being" are intimately connected.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Taylor - Do you believe there is a different between sufficient grace and supernatural grace? Sufficient grace being enough grace for all men to be saved and supernatural grace being grace that man cannot resist. Or to put it another way, do you believe that all grace is supernatural/irresistable grace when it comes to salvation?

Anonymous said...

Nick,

As a Lutheran (and a Protestant), I appreciate the comparative paradigms. Very useful, indeed.

In fact, a reason why I'm no longer Reformed is precisely because of the paradigm that you've so usefully and accurately described re the Reformed, and which Bryan Cross has had actually highlighted before in CtC and CCC.

TQ

Jason Loh

Michael Taylor said...

>>Mr. Taylor - Do you believe there is a different between sufficient grace and supernatural grace?<<

Not as you're using those terms. Your idea of "sufficient" grace is that God enables every single human being to respond to supernatural grace. Another word for this would be "prevenient grace" of which scripture has not a *word* to say.

Think about what you're saying for a minute. Start first with a universally *disabled* humanity. That is, not one human being is able to turn to God in repentance on account of his/her enslavement to the power of sin.

But then God graciously enables all men to repent by giving "sufficient" or "prevenient" grace.

This brings everyone from disabled to enabled, or from utterly lost to "neutral," so that they can now choose salvation if they're so inclined.

In other words, you've introduced a third state of being that scripture nowhere entertains--a spiritual half life in which people are not so utterly disabled that they cannot respond, but at the same time not so utterly enabled that they are already in the state of grace.

So what do you call this spiritual no-man's-land? And what kind of grace is given for the purpose of bringing people to "neutral" rather than heaven?

I would call it "zombie grace." Once given, sufficient or prevenient grace gives us just enough life to make spiritually sound choices. But we're not totally alive yet at this point. So what do you call the walking dead? You call them "zombies," and that is exactly what the grace of which you speak logically entails.

Michael Taylor said...

Anyone wishing to read a point-by-point reply to Nick's latest article over at Creed, Code, Cult, can find it here:

http://fallibility.blogspot.ca/2014/07/a-reply-to-catholic-nick-on-differences.html

Nick said...

Michael,

Thanks for your post, I will try to read it when I can.

My head has been spinning from work and emails and discussions on other sites.

Anonymous said...

Michael,
One reference that is easily interpreted toward prevenient grace:

Philippians 2:12-13: "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you according to his good pleasure, both to will and to do."

Michael Taylor said...

Anonymous said:

>>One reference that is easily interpreted toward prevenient grace:

Philippians 2:12-13: "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you according to his good pleasure, both to will and to do."<<

If the reference is so easily interpreted, then go ahead and give us the interpretation, as I see no connection between prevenient grace and the text you cite.

I realize that this text is often used by synergists to support the idea that human cooperation and divine grace are needed in salvation. But prevenient grace (PG) is something else entirely.

PG is posited in order to account for how it is that unregenerate man, in his fallen condition, could make a *positive* response to grace.

Those who posit PG admit that fallen man can do no such thing unless God gives him sufficient grace to do so.

So what you need to show is that God gives to universally disabled humanity just enough grace to enable every single human being to make a positive response to the Gospel. Philippians 2:12-13 simply doesn't address that scenario.

What it does address is this scenario: Those who are already regenerate are commanded to "work out" (not "work for") their salvation even as they are reminded that it is God who is already at work in them.

This text is not about how one becomes regenerate, but rather how already regenerate people are to continue working out their salvation, along with the promise that their effort will be empowered by God.

This, to me, sounds like Paul's version of John's vine analogy. Apart from the vine, we can do nothing.

Michael Taylor said...

Anonymous said:

>>One reference that is easily interpreted toward prevenient grace:

Philippians 2:12-13: "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you according to his good pleasure, both to will and to do."<<

If the reference is so easily interpreted, then go ahead and give us the interpretation, as I see no connection between prevenient grace and the text you cite.

I realize that this text is often used by synergists to support the idea that human cooperation and divine grace are needed in salvation. But prevenient grace (PG) is something else entirely.

PG is posited in order to account for how it is that unregenerate man, in his fallen condition, could make a *positive* response to grace.

Those who posit PG admit that fallen man can do no such thing unless God gives him sufficient grace to do so.

So what you need to show is that God gives to universally disabled humanity just enough grace to enable every single human being to make a positive response to the Gospel. Philippians 2:12-13 simply doesn't address that scenario.

What it does address is this scenario: Those who are already regenerate are commanded to "work out" (not "work for") their salvation even as they are reminded that it is God who is already at work in them.

This text is not about how one becomes regenerate, but rather how already regenerate people are to continue working out their salvation, along with the promise that their effort will be empowered by God.

This, to me, sounds like Paul's version of John's vine analogy. Apart from the vine, we can do nothing.

guy fawkes said...

Michael,
That third category, the one that says we are merely in a neutral state, yeah.
Your definition of "dead in sin" or Total Depravity goes beyond scripture. When Paul speaks about all men being dead, wicked, works of filthy rags, etc., he is speaking about a particular set of bad guys. This is not the state of all men devoid of sanctifying grace.

guy fawkes said...

Michael, Aquinas said malice, ignorance, weakness and concupisense, due to the loss of the preternatural gifts, leave us wounded. Nowhere did he say "enslaved" or without freewill.

guy fawkes said...

Michael, Aquinas said malice, ignorance, weakness and concupisense, due to the loss of the preternatural gifts, leave us wounded. Nowhere did he say "enslaved" or without freewill.