Friday, December 14, 2018

"Not all who are of Israel are Israel!" - A further look at Romans 9

This post builds on a recent post I did, Romans 9 like you've never heard it before

Thinking about Romans 9 some more, it seems there's one further detail that ties things together even more: Within the famous Patriarchal trifecta of "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," it seems in this passage that Paul only gave examples of the sons of Abraham (9:7-9) and Isaac (9:10-13), but Paul did not seem to mention the sons of Jacob. Or did he? Actually, it seems Paul does mention Jacob, but we probably missed it. 

In the famous (and slightly mysterious) thesis verse of Romans 9:6, Paul says: "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel." The standard interpretation of this second sentence is that not all who are biologically Jews belong to "Spiritual Israel". And that makes sense. Calvinists go one step further, and in an erroneous way, and interpret this as basically saying there is a "visible church" and an "invisible church," such that you can be a member of the "visible church" but not actually saved. In this post, I want to consider what I think is a more satisfying interpretation of 9:6.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

What is the "certificate of debt" that Jesus canceled for us?

I recently heard a popular Protestant apologist argue that Colossians 2:14 is a strong proof text for Protestant doctrines such as Penal Substitution and Faith Alone. In this article, I want to look at this verse and show why this Protestant apologist is engaging in poor exegesis. The passage (briefly) is as follows:
11 You were circumcised with a circumcision not made with human hands, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the certificate of debt with its legal demands that stood against us . This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
The Protestant made the claim that the phrase "certificate of debt" here was synonymous with "sin debt," and that by "canceling" it Jesus thus received the punishment our sins deserved. While his explanation is understandable, it is not genuine exegesis, and misses out on the richness of Paul's theology. Here's why.

Friday, December 7, 2018

A powerful verse against Faith Alone (Matt 7:14)

Catholics love the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew ch5-7) but Protestants generally avoid it, since it doesn't fit with their ideas of how salvation is supposed to take place. This Sermon is full of passages that contradict the Protestant doctrine of 'Salvation by Faith Alone', and in this edition of Quickie Apologetics I want to call attention to a section of the Sermon on the Mount that we all know but don't often think of: 
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matt 7:13-14)
How often do we hear Protestants ridicule Catholics for 'complicating' Salvation. Protestants insist that 'getting saved' is so easy that all we have to do is believe, that faith alone in Christ's finished work on the Cross is all that it takes. But given the above teaching of Jesus, what is so "difficult" about the Faith Alone approach? What is so "narrow" path about it? Why are "few" saved if all they need to do is believe? The answer to all these is: nothing.

Protestants typically 'interpret' the teachings of Jesus as being either (1) meant for Old Testament folks alone, or (2) simply to show us how sinful we are, not to actually impose any commands or expectations upon us. Such is quite absurd, and effectively renders the Gospels hollow. This is why Protestants hardly ever quote/read the Gospels. The honest truth is, this is not an easy teaching of Jesus, but Catholicism has always understood that Jesus really meant it, and thus we strive to conform our life to everything Jesus taught, whether comfortable or uncomfortable.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

How to punish a Calvinist (1 Cor 11:32) - Part II

I love to spring 1 Cor 11:32 upon Protestants, especially Calvinists, because of the reaction it gets from them: But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. The plain teaching of this passage is that Christians are not "eternally secure" but rather must be disciplined to be kept from turning to sin, falling away, and being damned. I wrote about this in an older post (HERE). 

In this post, I want to call up one of my favorite Catholic apologists, John Calvin, for his thoughts on this verse:
But when we are judged Here we have a consolation that is exceedingly necessary; for if any one in affliction thinks that God is angry with him, he will rather be discouraged than excited to repentance. It is an inestimable consolation that the punishments by which our sins are chastened are evidences, not of God’s anger for our destruction, but rather of his paternal love, and are at the same time of assistance towards our salvation, for God is angry with us as his sons, whom he will not leave to perish.

When he says that we may not be condemned with the world, he intimates two things. The first is, that the children of this world, while they sleep on quietly and securely in their delights, are fattened up, like hogs, for the day of slaughter (Jeremiah 12:3.) For though the Lord sometimes invites the wicked, also, to repentance by his chastisements, yet he often passes them over as strangers, and allows them to rush on with impunity, until they have filled up the measure of their final condemnation. (Genesis 15:16.) This privilege, therefore, belongs to believers exclusively - that by punishments they are called back from destruction. The second thing is this - that chastisements are necessary remedies for believers, for otherwise they, too, would rush on to everlasting destruction, were they not restrained by temporal punishment.
The reason why John Calvin is one of my favorite Catholic apologists is because he often proves the Catholic case for us, so that his beloved followers (Protestants/Calvinists) cannot object without looking silly. For example, many Protestants would try to dodge this verse by saying Paul isn't talking about real Christians (but rather fake Christians) and/or that Paul isn't talking about damnation. Both of these (weak) objections are denied by Calvin.

Here we see that not only does being chastised not mean that God is angry with you, it is for your own good, since God only disciplines His sons. This means that His Son, Jesus, could not have been punished in some manner equivalent to eternal damnation, such as how Protestants think Jesus endured in our place while on the Cross. Next, we see that we cannot be "covered by the Imputed Righteousness of Christ," as Protestants think, nor are we eternally secure, since by acting sinfully God sees this and inflicts temporal punishments so that the Christian will reform their life and not be damned. Thus, God is not looking at the Imputed Righteousness of Christ instead of us, but rather God looks at us (Paul says we are "judged" by God) and rewards/punishes us accordingly, to keep us on the right track, since it is by our behavior as Christians that determines if we are saved. This verse is a dagger against Faith Alone.