Saturday, November 28, 2015

Is sinfulness what prevents "Works" from saving us?

I'm glad to say this blog is not dead. I did take a break, but mostly because I was busy with life and didn't have anything new/original to share. I never wanted this blog to be about posting for the sake of posting, so I deliberately limited my number of posts and only would post when I felt I had something worthwhile to share that wasn't the same old apologetics you read anywhere else. 

For this post I want to discuss an interesting twist on the "not saved by works" discussions a Catholic will typically get into with a Protestant. First, the Catholic must understand that, in the Protestant mind, man is absolutely saved by his own works apart from faith and God's grace, but because of sin man is now unable to save himself and must have Jesus do those works for man in man's place. Human works alone (apart from faith and grace) are still what save us in the Protestant mind, the only thing that changes is that now Jesus does that work in man's place. This is completely contrary to the Catholic understanding of salvation, in which man can only be saved by faith and grace, never by his own works no matter how good those works are. I discuss this more HERE

This leads me to the main focus of this post: Did Paul say that the reason why "works" cannot save us is because those works are 'tainted by sin'? That's certainly the typical Protestant answer, but as you will see, that's not the 'plain teaching' of Paul at all. For this post I will look at some of Paul's key salvation 'apart from works' texts. 

  • Romans 4: 1What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
  • Galatians 3: 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”
  • Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  • Philippians 3: 4 If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I [Paul] have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
  • Titus 3: 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
Without going into detail on each of these passages, notice that in the 'plain reading' of these texts, there is no mention of the works in question being 'tainted by sin'. In fact, such a reading would make these texts nonsensical. The only reason given for why works don't save is to prevent boasting. That's it. 

A Protestant reading this has to mentally insert 'tainted by sin' into these passages, but this is not only putting words into Paul's mouth, it actually contradicts Paul's statements. Why should we read "works done by us in righteousness" (Titus 3:5) as actually being 'not really righteous' works? Why should we read Paul's blameless "righteousness under the law" (Phil 3:6) as 'not really righteous' under the law? 

In reality, all Paul is saying is that works don't save...because works never did save. Works aren't bad, works aren't sinful, works aren't even in competition with faith. Works simply aren't what save because they were never intended to save, no matter how pure or good they were done. If you read Paul with that in mind, you don't have to do any mental gymnastics while reading him. 

Now it is true that the "works" Paul has in mind are "Works of the [Mosaic] Law," which are the 613 individual Commandments found in the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), centered around the Ten Commandments. But even this doesn't change anything, because keeping the Law never did save. Keeping the Law did grant a Jew many earthly blessings, such as health, wealth, long life, and big family. But none of these are the reward of Heaven. Faith grants the reward of Heaven, while Works of the Law grant the reward of earthly blessings. The Jews confused those two blessings, Paul did not. Protestants confuse those two blessings, Catholics do not. 

And it is true that all men come into this world dead in sin and separated from God, but even that's not the point behind Paul's repeated 'works don't save' statements. The reason why Paul brings up us being dead in sin is because we need reconciliation (see the point of 2 Cor 5:21 in this link) in order to start living a life for Christ. And once you are living a life for Christ, then you can be judged worthy to inherit Eternal Life, not before. Protestants think you are worthy of Eternal Life upon being Justified, but that's not what Paul teaches. In reality, Justification and being Judged worthy of Eternal Life happen at two different times in a person's life - and to confuse the two events and turn them into one event the way Protestants do is a huge mistake.


Nick said...

I will also add a famous quote from the Early Church Father, Pope Clement of Rome from around the year AD90, which Protestants frequently quote as "proof" of their incorrect understanding of justification by faith alone.

Pope Clement says: All these [Old Testament saints], therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Epistle to the Corinthians, Ch32)

Notice the same theme here: the works don't save because they never did; no mention of works not saving because they are 'tainted with sin'.

The Protestant wants to read the above text as if it is saying "man is justified by his good works, except his good works are tainted by sin," but that's not what Clement is saying. It is wrong to read statements like "holiness of heart" as "not really holiness of heart".

Keith Watson said...

Being a Protestant I disagree with some parts of your post, but you come very close when you said, "First, the Catholic must understand that, in the Protestant mind, man is absolutely saved by his own works apart from faith and God's grace, but because of sin man is now unable to save himself and must have Jesus do those works for man in man's place."

This is not exactly how Protestants state their position so I will try to provide that. But I have come to disagree with their position on this.

Last year I gathered descriptions of original sin from several documents throughout Church history. The documents are from the Council Of Carthage, the Council Of Orange, the Council of Dordt, and Protestant confessions from the 1500's and 1600's. The common understanding of original sin in all of them is:

- Adam's one sin caused his whole nature, both body and soul, to become corrupt.

- This corrupted nature was passed on to, was propagated to, was inherited by all men except for Jesus Christ.

- This corrupted nature is sin, before a man commits any actual sins.

- This corrupted nature is enough to condemn all men.

A few weeks ago I spotted something in one of these confessions and have been considering it since then. In the 1646 Westminster Confession Of Faith something new was added alongside the common definition of original sin - "the guilt of this [Adam's] sin was imputed". The Westminster confessions and catechisms describe the following.

- sin is law-breaking
- Adam's law-breaking is imputed to all men
- Jesus' law-keeping is imputed to save men

Sin as law-breaking -- yes, see 1 John 3:4. But this is not the only definition of sin in the Bible, and misses the heart of what the sinful nature is. I keep searching but have been unable to find where the Bible says Adam's law-breaking was imputed to us. And the only place where I can find a stripped down statement that Jesus fulfilled the law is Matt. 5:17. But Protestants always misquote this verse and leave out that it also mentions the prophets. Because around 20 other verses specifically say that Jesus fulfilled what was written about Him in the law, the prophets, and the psalms. Protestants are insistent on leaving out Jesus fulfilled what was written about Him.

While the Westminster documents layed this new idea alongside the long held definition of original sin, the ramifications have been that the old definition has been set aside in favor of the new idea. Men no longer have to deal with their own corruption. Sin, death, salvation, judgement, forgiveness have all been reduced to a simple matter of legal accounting in heaven.

But in the New Testament righteousness never came by law-keeping, regardless of who man thinks is able to keep the law.

Gal. 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Gal. 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

Law-keeping does not give life. The Son of God was not made righteousness by law-keeping.

jjm- ballinasloe said...

I have been saved by grace, through faith, for over 35 years and have never heard it said that our works are not sufficient because they are "tainted by sin". Neither have I ever heard that we are saved by Jesus' works. We are saved by His work (singular) on the cross when He became the propitiation for our sins. In other words, he bore our punishment (for sin) on the cross. (2Cor 5:21)

Scripture is very clear that no man is saved by his works. You even quoted several of the Scriptures that reinforce this position. If we could be saved by our works then we would have something of which to boast. We can only boast in the cross of Christ.

Keith Fredrickson said...

Hello Nick,

The Belgic Confession says,

"although we do good works, we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject [us and therefore] that work."
-- Article 24 []: mine

Concerning salvation by works, Luther writes,

"if our sins are not forgiven [by grace], [then] before we outweigh them with our sorrow, penitence and good works, we can never hope to receive forgiveness [by merit]"
-- First sermon on John 20:19-31, (Sunday after Easter, 1540; Dessau), 51 []:mine

The Reformation position is that, even if our good works were perfect, they could not save us from our previous sins because they could not qualitatively outweigh them and therefore our lives would remain imperfect and thus unacceptable to an absolutely holy God.


Bob said...

Keith. I think you're misunderstanding what Nick is getting at. The "Protestant" view here (of course, not all Protestants agree) is something like this. Man, if he never committed any sin, would be righteous before God and merit heaven heaven by pure nature. However, since Adam's sin is imputed to all his descendants, none of them start with the clean slate to make this possible. Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus Christ to become man and live a totally righteous life, and for all who believe in him, God counts Christ's perfect works as if they were the believers'. Hence Nick's charge that Protestants believe in justification by works, whether by man unaided by grace (as would have been the case for Adam if he had not sinned) or by having Christ's perfect work counted as their own.

The Catholic view, in contrast, is that Adam was not in a state of pure nature, but in a state of grace. Adam could have been righteous before God and merited eternal life if he had not sinned, but only by grace.

Your passages state that man can not be justified by his own works after original sin, but what about Adam prior to original sin? A lot of Protestants would say they disagree with the Catholic Church on that point.

Hope that clarifies the thrust of his post a little.

E.J. Cassidy said...

Thanks, Nick, for sharing your opinion on these Scripture passages.

Now, since you are deigning to tell us what the Catholic view is, how about giving us quotes from authoritative teaching sources of the Church to back up your opinion?

Can you back your opinion up from the Catechism of the Catholic Church?


Joey Henry said...

In the 1992 catechism, the statement aboit justification actually ended with Therese of Lisieux quotation:

After earth's exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. ALL OUR JUSTICE IS BLEMISHED IN YOUR EYES. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself. (St. Thérèse of Lisieux, "Act of Offering" in Story of a Soul, tr. John Clarke (Washington DC: ICS, 1981), 277.) Quoted in Merit section 2011.

Keith Watson said...

A friend, an ordained Protestant pastor, sent me a couple of articles to read. The following quotes are from an article titled, "How Can a Just God Forgive a Sinful Man?", written by John W. Robbins, and published in April 1996. Robbins was an ordained pastor of the Presbyterian church. He was also a follower of Gordon Clark.

"On what basis does God accept a man? This is the most fundamental of all questions concerning salvation. Several answers have been given:
1. A life of complete obedience to the Law
2. Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ
3. Some other way"

"The correct answer is Number 1: The only basis upon which any person is accepted by God is a life of obedience to the Law."

"God has never changed his mind. He has always required perfect obedience to his law. And when he looked out at an utterly desperate world, he came himself–God the Son in a donkey’s feedbox; God the Son allowing the Palestinian dust to sift through his toes as he fulfilled his own Law on our behalf. Faith acknowledges the Law because Jesus acknowledged the Law. Faith always chooses the perfect, law-conforming life of Jesus as the only basis for acceptance with God."

I have so many places from the New Testament which I believe thoroughly contradicts this viewpoint.

guy fawkes said...

Hi Nick,
Glad to see you have come out of mothballs.
Maybe considering how the good angels, those that did not succumb to Lucifer's enticements, needed grace in order to enter into the vision of God although they had never sinned, would shed some light on this subject.
Yes, grace does heal the effects of sin. But more importantly it elevates. The most perfect works, whether of man or angel, done under the power of unfallen nature, are not worthy of heaven. Yet a cup of ordinary tap water, given in Christ, merits eternal life.
Jim in Lisbon

E.J. Cassidy said...


Finding God through Meditation, by St. Peter of Alcantara...St. Peter directed St. Teresa of Avila on difficult questions she had about prayer.

Of Oblation

"Cordial thanks being given to God, presently the heart breaks naturally into that affection, which the kingly prophet David felt in himself, when he said: “What shall I render to our Lord, for all things that he hath rendered to me?” (Ps 115:12). Which desire, we shall in some sort satisfy, if we offer to God whatsoever we have.

First, therefore, we must offer to God ourselves, for his perpetual servants, wholly resigning ourselves to his holy will, howsoever he shall please to dispose of us. We must likewise direct all our thoughts, words, and works, whatsoever we shall do or suffer, to the supreme honor and glory of his sacred name.

Then we must offer to God the Father all the merits of his only begotten Son, all the labors and sorrows he did undergo, in this miserable world, to fulfill the will of his heavenly Father, beginning from his nativity and hard manger, to his contemptuous crucifying and giving up his spirit; forasmuch as these are all the goods and means whereof in the New Testament he has left us heirs; wherefore, as that is no less our own, which is given us freely, than that we get with our industry; so the merits of Christ, which he freely bestowed upon us, are no less our own than if we attained them with our sweat and labor.

Hence every man may offer this sacred oblation as the first, numbering one by one, all the labors and virtues of the life of Christ, his obedience, patience, humility, charity and his other virtues, seeing these are the most excellent of all oblations that we can offer to God."

" the merits of Christ, which he freely bestowed upon us, are no less our own than if we attained them with our sweat and labor...."

Craig Truglia said...

Nick, good to see you posting :)

"Now it is true that the "works" Paul has in mind are "Works of the [Mosaic] Law," which are the 613 individual Commandments found in the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), centered around the Ten Commandments."

This is inconsistent not only with the early church fathers who conflate the mosaic Law with the Law of Nature which is applicable to everyone (, but also Scripture.

Gal 4:4-5 says:

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Obviously, He did not only redeem those under the Mosaic Law, so clearly Paul has a more expansive view of the term, consistent with how the early church interpreted Romans and Galatians.

God bless,

P.S. Reading chapter 40 of Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho, he mentioned that Jesus was the scape goat. How then would you understand Lev 16 if the goat is an allegory for Christ, the people's sins are transferred onto the goat, and that 1 Peter 2:24 says that Christ bore the people's sins in His body?

E.J. Cassidy said...

"My God my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 30 November 1988

4. In reality, if Jesus had the feeling of being abandoned by the Father, he however knew that that was not really so. He himself said, "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30). Speaking of his future passion he said, "I am not alone, for the Father is with me" (Jn 16:32). Jesus had the clear vision of God and the certainty of his union with the Father dominant in his mind. But in the sphere bordering on the senses, and therefore more subject to the impressions, emotions and influences of the internal and external experiences of pain, Jesus' human soul was reduced to a wasteland. He no longer felt the presence of the Father, but he underwent the tragic experience of the most complete desolation.

5. Here one can sketch a summary of Jesus' psychological situation in relationship to God.

The external events seemed to manifest the absence of the Father who permitted the crucifixion of his Son, though having at his disposal "legions of angels" (cf. Mt 26:53), without intervening to prevent his condemnation to death and execution. In Gethsemane Simon Peter had drawn a sword in Jesus' defense, but was immediately blocked by Jesus himself (cf. Jn 18:10 f.). In the praetorium Pilate had repeatedly tried wily maneuvers to save him (cf. Jn 18:31, 38 f.; 19:4-6, 12-15); but the Father was silent. That silence of God weighed on the dying Jesus as the heaviest pain of all, so much so that his enemies interpreted that silence as a sign of his reprobation: "He trusted in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, 'I am the Son of God'" (Mt 27:43).

In the sphere of feelings and affection this sense of the absence and abandonment by God was the most acute pain for the soul of Jesus who drew his strength and joy from union with the Father. This pain rendered all the other sufferings more intense. That lack of interior consolation was Jesus' greatest agony.

E.J. Cassidy said...

6. But Jesus knew that by this ultimate phase of his sacrifice, reaching the intimate core of his being, he completed the work of reparation which was the purpose of his sacrifice for the expiation of sins. If sin is separation from God, Jesus had to experience in the crisis of his union with the Father a suffering proportionate to that separation.

On the other hand in quoting the beginning of Psalm 22, which he perhaps continued to recite mentally during the passion, Jesus did not forget the conclusion which becomes a hymn of liberation and an announcement of salvation granted to all by God. The experience of abandonment is therefore a passing pain which gives way to personal liberation and universal salvation. In Jesus' afflicted soul this perspective certainly nourished hope, all the more so since he had always presented his death as a passage to the resurrection as his true glorification. From this thought his soul took strength and joy in the knowledge that at the very height of the drama of the cross, the hour of victory was at hand.


"...if sin is separation from God, Jesus had to experience in the crisis of his union with the Father a suffering proportionate to that separation..."

E.J. Cassidy said...

The redemptive value of Christ's sacrifice

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 26 October 1988

5. At this point, however, we go beyond the purely human measure of the "ransom" which Christ offered "for all." No one, not even the greatest saint, was in a position to take upon himself the sins of all humanity and to offer himself in sacrifice "for all." Only Jesus Christ was capable of that, because, though true man, he was the Son of God, of the same being with the Father. For this reason the sacrifice of his human life had an infinite value. The subsistence in Christ of the divine Person of the Son, who transcends and at the same time embraces all human persons, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice "for all." "Jesus Christ was worth all of us" writes St. Cyril of Alexandria (cf. In Isaiam 5, 1: PG 70, 1176). The same divine transcendence of the person of Christ enables him "to represent" all humanity before the Father. This explains the "substitutive" character of Christ's redemption in the name of all and for all. "He won for us justification by his most holy passion on the wood of the cross," the Council of Trent taught (Decree on Justification, ch. 7: DS 1529), underlining the meritorious value of Christ's sacrifice.


"...No one, not even the greatest saint, was in a position to take upon himself the sins of all humanity and to offer himself in sacrifice 'for all.' Only Jesus Christ was capable of that..."

Yes, according to St. John Paul II, our Lord took upon Himself the sins of all humanity, not just the suffering and death.

E.J. Cassidy said...

More from JPII

The value of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 19 October 1988

6. At Gethsemane we see how painful this obedience was to be: "Father, all things are possible to you; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mk 14:36). In that moment Christ's agony of soul was much more painful than that of the body (cf. Summa Theol., III, q. 46, a. 6). This was because of the interior conflict between the supreme motives of the passion in the divine plan, and the perception which Jesus, in the refined sensitivity of his soul, had of the abominable filth of sin. Sin seems to have been poured over him, who had become as it were "sin" (that is, the victim of sin) as St. Paul says (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), so that universal sin might be expiated in him. Thus Jesus arrived at death as at the supreme act of obedience: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Lk 23:46): the spirit, that is, the principle of his human life.


"...Sin seems to have been poured over him, who had become as it were "sin" (that is, the victim of sin) as St. Paul says (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), so that universal sin might be expiated in him..."

StrongmanBob said...

Craig, I think that even in that case, Paul has the Mosaic Law in mind. I checked with a Protestant commentary (Barnes) just for reference, and he agrees with this interpretation if that is worth anything.

Even so we - We who were Jews - for so I think the word here is to be limited, and not extended to the pagan, as Bloomfield supposes. The reasons for limiting it are:

(1) That the pagans in no sense sustained such a relation to the Law and promises of [God] as is here supposed;

(2) Such an interpretation would not be pertinent to the design of Paul. He is stating reasons why there should not be subjection to the laws of Moses, and his argument is, that that condition was like that of bondage or minorship.

To answer your objection, Paul is not restricting redemption only to those under the Mosaic Law (the Jews). He never uses the word "only." His main point here is that the gentiles shouldn't imitate the Jews by turning to the observances of the Law since the Law was never salvific for them anyway. So, in sum, if any word is inserted, it should be that Christ redeemed even those under the Law rather than only those under the Law.

guy fawkes said...

Why don't you post your Penal Substitution comments on the thread that addresses that subject? The topic here is the Calvinist error about just how corrupt man has become due to Adam's fall. Do you have anything to contribute on that subject?

guy fawkes said...

This video hi-lites the issue.

Keith Watson said...

Guy said, "This video hi-lites the issue." Nick's original post is very clear that he is talking about a common Protestant viewpoint that man's ultimate problem and solution are about law-breaking and law-keeping. Where in this video does Art Azurdia assert this? Please provide time references so I can understand what you are referring to. Or if others listen to this video can you help me out?

I heard many places where Dr. Azurdia asserts that problem of man's fallen condition is one of the corruption, not of law-breaking, and this corruption makes man guilty before God. In contrast, at minute 19 he talks about the Jews in Romans 2 where Paul is referring to the Jews who have the law cannot even keep the law.

In my previous post I mentioned that in 1686 the Westminster Confession of Faith added something new to our understanding of original sin. (See may Nov 28 post.) It adds law-breaking alongside of corruption. Dr. Azurdia mentions the Belgic Confession (of 1618) and the Council of Dordt (the Canons of the Council of Dordt of 1618). These do not mention that original sin is based on law-breaking. Here are excerpts.

1618 - Belgic Confession

"... by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race."

"It is a corruption of all nature-- an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother's womb, and the root which produces in man every sort of sin. It is therefore so vile and enormous in God's sight that it is enough to condemn the human race,..."

1618 - The Canons of Dordt

"Man brought forth children of the same nature as himself after the fall. That is to say, being corrupt he brought forth corrupt children. The corruption spread, by God's just judgment, from Adam to all his descendants – except for Christ alone – not by way of imitation (as in former times the Pelagians would have it) but by way of the propagation of his perverted nature."

"Therefore, all people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin;..."

"... original sin in itself is enough to condemn the whole human race..."

"... unregenerate man is... totally dead in his sins... [and is] deprived of all capacity for spiritual good..."

It seems to me that this is what Art Azurdia was teaching.

guy fawkes said...

I am not disposed to suffer through the whole video again in order to pin point particular references but you do agree the speaker does stress ( actually, exaggerate ) man's fallen/ corrupt/depraved/wicked condition.

Man cannot keep the Law? Does that include the man in a state of grace? Isn't the Holy Spirit shed abroad into our hearts causing us to Love God?

Surely you are aware of Luther's morbid scrupulosity that drove him to feel even his prayers were sinful. His mental state is the foundation upon your whole system is built.
Have a happy New Year.

Keith Watson said...

Guy, what church/theology do you follow? Are you a Roman Catholic? If so, here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on original sin.

401 After that first sin, ... [there is] the universal corruption which follows in the wake of sin.

401 Scripture and the Church's Tradition continually recall the presence and universality of sin in man's history...

402 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ.

403 ... Adam... has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the "death of the soul".

404 ... this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind... it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

So the catechism states that the effect of original sin is corruption, this corruption is the death of the soul (not the wounding or stain of the soul), this corruption is propagated to all men, and it is a state we are born into before we have committed any actual acts of sin.

Keith Watson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith Watson said...

There are some difficulties to consider in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

405 ... but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence".

417 Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called "original sin".

418 As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence").

Unfortunately words like "not totally corrupt", "wounded", and "weakened" have been used. If the phrase "death of the soul" in 403 is considered, it does not obviously mean the real death of the soul, because then you and I, and no human being, would have ever lived. It is left to the reader to harmonize these phrases. The entire context from the very start of the Adam and Eve story was man's relationship with God, and what Adam's one disobedience towards God caused. So man obviously is alive (and his soul is "alive") and has faculties to accomplish all sorts of good in the world, but he is born dead in his trespasses and sins -- dead in his relationship with God.

Keith Watson said...

Let me add something else. In paragraph 406 of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church", with respect to original sin, this is said.

The Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529) and at the Council of Trent (1546).

Here are excerpts on original sin from those two councils.

Council or Orange

... it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was "changed for the worse" through the offense of Adam's sin,...

... sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race...

Council of Trent

... Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse...

... he [Adam], being defiled by the sin of disobedience,...

... [this] sin also, which is the death of the soul...

... this sin of Adam,--which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation, not by imitation...

So the Roman Catholic Church in its catechism and councils teaches that original sin resulted in corruption of the entire man, this corruption is passed to all men by propagation, and this corruption is enough to condemn all men. These specific elements of original sin are also held by the Protestants of what us Protestants call the "Reformation".

As Nick pointed out in his article, Protestants later added something new. The Westminster Confession Of Faith of 1686 added that the entire basis of man being right with God is the keeping of the law, and original sin corrupted this ability, so Jesus kept the law for us. I agree with Nick that this view is not Biblical.

guy fawkes said...

Not only am I a Catholic, but, coincidentally, attend the same parish as Nick when in America ( I live in Portugal ).
When the Catholic speaks of, "death of the soul", we don't mean the soul is no longer rational or that it no longer exercises freewill. Naturally, the soul is still the animating principle of the body, with intellect and will intact.
Supernaturally the soul dies by the loss of grace caused by Adam's sin. It can still act but not supernaturally.
We speak of the soul being "wounded" because the loss of the preternatural gift of integrity leaves spiritual soul and animal body at a sort of tuo o' war. This is what Augustine called the "fomes peccati" or "tinder of sin". However, it is not actually sinful.

E.J. Cassidy said...

This prayer was offered today in the Liturgy of the Hours, Morning Prayer, Week III:

"Lord Jesus, you have revealed your justice to all nations. We stood condemned and you came to be judged in our place. Send your saving power on us and when you come in glory bring your mercy to those for whom you were condemned."

A great Catholic penal substitutionary prayer.


guy fawkes said...

Okay EJ,

As you insist Catholicism really accepts the Protestant doctrine of Penal Substitution, you must therefore accept all that logically goes with it, yes?

You must believe that at every Mass we either repunish Christ or at least, celebrate the original punishment of Christ on Calvary's cross.
Could you please refer me to some text that says the father pours out his wrath on the Son in every Mass?

As for Mariology, since Our Lady shared in all Christ did for our redemption, she too must have been seen as a vile sinner worthy of condemnation while in the Garden and on Calvary too.
Again, could you please direct me to some doctrinal statement saying Mary was loathed by the Father in our stead?

You can't embrace PS in isolation to all of its logical spin offs..

guy fawkes said...


And don't forget you must buy the Protestant doctrine of imputation if you buy into PS. No more Catholic doctrine of grace.

And let's not forget purgatory. It goes out the window too.

OSAS fits nicely into PS too. So does the Calvinist version of predestination.

You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to remain Catholic while embracing the central doctrine of anti-Catholicism.

E.J. Cassidy said...

guy "Jim in Lisbon" fawkes,

Here is the Psalm-prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the official liturgical prayer of the Church after the Mass, which is the highest form of liturgical prayer:

"Lord Jesus, you have revealed your justice to all nations. We stood condemned and you came to be judged in our place. Send your saving power on us and when you come in glory bring your mercy to those for whom you were condemned."

How does this fit in to your interpretation of Catholic doctrine?

It clearly states that:

We were condemned
Jesus came to be judged in our place, in other words, He took the judgment we deserved because of our sins
He was condemned, in other words, He took the condemnation we deserve for our sins.

It is crystal clear Jim. Now, how do you fit this into your own theological beliefs?


E.J. Cassidy said...

This quote is from yesterday's Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours.

From a letter by St. Maximus the Confessor, abbott

"He healed our physical infirmities by miracles; he freed us from our sins, many and grievous as they were, by suffering and dying, taking them upon himself as if he were answerable for them, sinless though he was."

"...taking them upon himself as if he were answerable for them, sinless though he was..."

He took our sins upon Himself, as though He were answerable for them, sinless though He was.


Nick said...


There is not necessarily any issue with terminology that speaks of Christ suffering for us, in our place, taking our punishment, etc, etc.

There is an issue with statements along the lines of (a) the Father being in some way at enmity with Jesus, pouring out His wrath upon Jesus, saw Jesus as a sinner, etc, and (b) saying Jesus took our punishment in the sense that Jesus suffered hellfire, spiritual separation from the Father, etc, and (c) our sins are already forgiven, future sins forgiven, we can never be sent to hell, etc.

Romans 8:3 says Jesus "condemned sin in the flesh" and other texts speak of Jesus "bearing our sins," so that isn't the issue. In the most broad sense, Jesus took the punishment we deserved in that by taking on human nature, He was subject to the very infirmities we are subjected to, including physical death (separation of body and soul).

Nick said...

I realize I missed an entire list of comments here. For some reason Gmail is not informing me when new posts arrive.