What About Abortion in Cases of the Life of the Mother?

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity of presenting the pro-life case to two separate medical ethics seminars. These were small groups of pre-med students at a secular university (the University of Kansas), most of whom would never darken the doorsteps of a Catholic church, and many of whom had never heard an intellectually-serious argument against abortion. I started the conversation with Steve Wagner’s “10-second pro-life” argument:

If the unborn is growing, it must be alive.

If it has human parents, it must be human.

And living humans, or human beings like you and me, are valuable, aren’t they?

The core of my presentation was that (1) intentionally killing innocent human beings was unethical (and a dangerous proposition to consent to in any case); (2) the unborn fetus is a human being, and (3) the unborn fetus is a human person.

Humans and Persons

The difference between (2) and (3) is important. (2) is a demonstrable biological reality (the fetus is a genetically-distinct member of the species Homo sapiens), and virtually no knowledgeable pro-choicer denies this. The fetus is a human being, and anyone who says otherwise is ignorant of the science or confused or arguing in bad faith. But the moral and ethical question is whether it’s ever okay to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Closely connected to this is the argument, on the pro-choice side, that some human beings aren’t “persons.” So that’s why (3) is important.

Many modern philosophers give definitions of “personhood” that emphasize the present ability to feel pain, or to reason, or to exercise self-awareness, etc. The problems with all of these definitions are that they’re both over-inclusive and under-inclusive: apes, dolphins, magpies, etc. count as persons on some or all of these lists, while babies, the elderly, the very sick, the numb and the sleeping frequently don’t.

To illustrate this, I used the Harambe example: when faced with a toddler in the cage of a potentially-dangerous adult gorilla, zoo officials killed the gorilla to save the human. But to many pro-choice philosophers, gorillas are persons and toddlers (or at least babies) aren’t. The utilitarian Peter Singer came close to admitting this outright in an LA Times piece in which he said “as animal advocates, we don’t automatically deem the life of a boy as exponentially more important than that of a fellow primate.”

A better definition of personhood is the classic formulation given by Boethius (480-524): “an individual substance of a rational nature.” The key word here is “nature.” It’s not about what you’re currently doing (reasoning, feeling pain, etc.), or even what you’re currently capable of doing, but the kind of being that you are (or the kind of nature that you have). You’re a human being even when you’re not doing uniquely-human things. You can be totally numbed through morphine and deep in sleep, incapable of contemplating or feeling any pain, and you don’t lose your personhood in those moments. To say otherwise, is to say that nobody is a person. They just have personhood for a while.

Abortion, Life of the Mother, and Cannibalism

About half of the class (in each case) was dedicated to Q&A, and students had all sorts of questions, comments, and objections. Of these, one of the strongest was about abortion in cases of the life of the mother. A student asked, given those cases in which continuing a pregnancy will kill a woman, isn’t it more pro-life to save her by performing the abortion? Another student chimed in: isn’t our refusal to perform an abortion in this case a declaration that we care more about the fetus than the mother? To make their objection even stronger, I pointed out: what about those cases in which continuing the pregnancy means the death of the mother and the child? How can pro-lifers possibly be against that?

Because the pro-life position is a position that murder, the intentional taking of innocent human life, is always wrong. Sometimes, that commitment to never murder means more people might die. To illustrate this, I gave an example loosely based on a real life example (Regina v. Dudley and Stephens):

“Say that the two of you are lost at sea, and you run out of food. It wouldn’t be okay for either one of you to murder and cannibalize the other, even though the alternative is that you both starve. In saying that, I’m not saying that either one of you is more valuable than the other. I’m saying murder is never ethical. The same is true here. It’s not okay to murder the mother to save the fetus, or to murder the fetus to save the mother. Either murder is always and everywhere wrong, or it’s not. It might be understandable why someone would kill an innocent person to save themselves in these cases, but that doesn’t make it okay.”

Perhaps at this point you want to object: maybe it should be okay to murder in such extreme circumstances? Well, be extremely wary of going down that road.

In 1986, William F. Buckley penned a New York Times op-ed that argued that “Everyone detected with AIDS should be tatooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.” Imagine for a moment that this plan had been taken seriously by the Reagan administration. Would it have been okay to then go further and murder everyone with AIDS (or likely to have AIDS) to try to save a greater number of people in the long haul? (I’m not saying Buckley was arguing for that – I’m saying his proposal makes such a dsytopia imaginable).

So this is ultimately where the abortion argument brings us: are we committed to the principle that murder is always wrong, even what the principle is painful to live by? Or do we want to start allowing murder when convenient?

158 Comments

  1. “Either murder is always and everywhere wrong, or it’s not.”

    Is killing by self-defense considered murder, manslaughter, or homicide? Is killing in a war always wrong?

    Is murder killing, or just a specific kind of killing? Is killing a human being always wrong?

    You might well argue that every killing is murder, but then, the US, the Chinese, and Saudi Arabia would be pretty much on par with murder because of the death penalty (something I’ve never seen you touch here on your blog).

    1. K.O.,

      So you could mean one of a few things by your comment. Three possibilities jump out to me:

      1) War, self-defense, and the death penalty are murder (intentionally taking innocent human life) so murder is sometimes okay;

      2) Abortion is somehow akin to war, self-defense, and/or the death penalty (presumably because the fetus is not innocent or is a willing combatant?); or

      3) Let’s not talk about abortion – hey look, let’s talk about this instead!

      Can you clarify whether any of these capture your meaning, or if you’re trying to make some other point?

      I.X.,

      Joe

      1. Joe,
        You said:
        ““Either murder is always and everywhere wrong, or it’s not.”

        You imply that abortion = murder, instead of just manslaughter or homicide. Why is that so?

        I would choose 1: “1) War, self-defense, and the death penalty are murder (intentionally taking innocent human life) so murder is sometimes okay;”

        And jump to my next consideration: “Is killing by self-defense considered murder, manslaughter, or homicide? Is killing in a war always wrong?”

        Conceding the fetus is a person:
        The choice between two lives (yours or another one’s life that threatens you, or another one’s life you could be saved by getting killed) lies solely on the person whose life is in danger. If he/she chooses to die and save the other person, so be it.

        If one has a measure of confidence (say, 80% chance) that both persons will die (mother and fetus), it would be stupid (though heroic and martyr-like) to keep going. It’s like: “Let us two die.” If the mother dies to save the child, it’s her choice (I’m not a doctor, I’m not sure whether this situation exists).

  2. Legally, killing in self-defense is permitted only when there is an immediate threat of death or severe injury, and–more importantly–no lesser force will suffice.

    Placed in the context of abortion, these conditions would only occur in extraordinary cases such as an ectopic pregnancy, and in such instances, I believe the double effect would come into play.

      1. The principle of the double effect is, in essence, the presence and permissibility of unintended, otherwise unacceptable evil outcomes as a side effect of a good or neutral act that seeks a good outcome of equal or greater value. It was originally put forth by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, in his treatment of killing in self-defense.

        In the example I gave of an ectopic pregnancy, the unborn child has attached outside of the uterus. To save the mother’s life, the child must be removed, and this necessarily has the effect of killing the child (if he/she is not already dead by that point); however, the child’s death is not what was intended, but is instead an unavoidable consequence of saving the mother.

  3. Mote important. I am MD, and I do not know a case where a deliberated abortion could save the mother’s live.

  4. Thank you Domingo. The claim that the pregnancy could kill the mother is a logical fallacy without scientific proof.

    Man wants sex without consequences!!!

          1. James,
            “Clearly, something needs to be done” = acting just for the sake of doing something is usually a recipe for a disaster. In this case, the short answer is, “Methotrexate is sometimes used to address the problem of a fallopian tube ectopic pregnancy. The Magisterium has not taken a position on the use of methotrexate by name for the condition of the fallopian tube ectopic pregnancy. It has only affirmed that direct abortion is never permissible, while the indirect taking of a life may be tolerated when all the requirements of the principle of double effect are satisfied”. For a in more detailed discussion of this delicate issue, please refer to the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

  5. “Everyone detected with AIDS should be tatooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.”

    Interesting that California has just basically decriminalized purposefully infecting another with HIV, ostensibly as a “protection” of the LGBT community – a measure passed with that “community’s” vocal support. The political paradigm that authored this is very big on passing laws that ostensibly will ‘save one life’ as long as the legislatively-targeted constituency in general votes for ‘the other side.’

    Someone once said, “everything is political…”

    Most mothers I know would instantly decide on their own death to save their child. Interesting as well in the last +40 years, how the world got turned upside down so that this is even a discussion.

    1. AK: Interesting as well in the last +40 years, how the world got turned upside down so that this is even a discussion.

      B: It’s not “interesting” at all. It is simply prophetic, that in the last days, they will start “calling good, evil, and evil, good”….and “men will get worse and worse”…”lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God”.

      1. Barry, I can agree that there are lots of things going on that “fit.’ Especially just now.

        However, lots of people thought the same thing in the 70’s (remember Hal Lindsay?).

        When in doubt, I always default to the old Yiddish expression, “Man plans and God laughs…” One can substitute “interprets current events in light of Scripture” for “plans.”

        Watch and be ready is always a good plan. Your mileage may vary from mine on the means and methods of “be ready.’ (That, in case you didn’t notice, was your laugh for the day…).

      2. Peace be with you Brother Barry. one day you will see that the Light of Christ overcomes all divisions and you will be reunited to the Mother Church. The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church! God Bless you and your spirit.

  6. JH: Either murder is always and everywhere wrong, or it’s not. It might be understandable why someone would kill an innocent person to save themselves in these cases, but that doesn’t make it okay.

    B: I think your logic fails when we replace murder with lying. Thus, to be consistent, you would also have to say:

    “Either lying is always and everywhere wrong, or it’s not. It might be understandable why someone would lie to save the life of the child (as did the midwives in Exodus 1) but that doesn’t make it O.K.”

    The point being is that the midwive’s lie (as well as Rahab’s elsewhere) was definitely O.K. with God because the circumstances were unavoidable from the perspective of someone who fears God; and so, if it was “O.K.” in those circumstances, then it follows (contrary to you) that it would be “O.K.” in other situations, such as in the book and film, “In the Heart of the Sea”, where they all agreed to draw lots, the loser agreeing to be shot for food. This is tantamount to laying down one’s life for another, which just so happens to be the concept behind the greatest event in human history. You remember that, don’t you? About 2,000 years ago.

    1. I like this!

      How about replacing “murder” and “lying” with “adultery?” Opens up a whole new world of possibilities while providing the entertainment of watching Aristotle spin in his grave at the death-by-torture of classical logic.

      IMHCO (“C” being Catholic), there are some things one does not do just to survive. So now, we’ve got murder and cannibalism being compared to the sacrifice of Calvary. A new low for Barry. Any other Reformed here want to weigh in on the Sola Scriptural propriety of this analogy?

      If you’re looking for an example of John 15:13-Christlike sacrifice involving voluntary death by starvation to save another, look no further than St. Maximilian Kolbe at Auschwitz.

    2. Does anyone need any more evidence of the Calvinist perversion of sola fide, that as long as one ‘accepts Jesus’ and ostensibly ‘fears God’ that once so saved, one can – based of course on ones own interpretations – do anything one wants including murder, cannibalism, and abortion?

      I begin to understand how Jim Joneses and David Koreshes germinate and proliferate….

      1. AK: Does anyone need any more evidence of the Calvinist perversion of sola fide, that as long as one ‘accepts Jesus’ and ostensibly ‘fears God’ that once so saved, one can – based of course on ones own interpretations – do anything one wants including murder, cannibalism, and abortion?

        B: Not only does your statement have nothing whatsoever to do with either the main article or what I wrote in my post, but the Reformed position NOWHERE teaches that you can just la-dee-da do anything you want, think or feel once you believe in Christ. It is a total misrepresentation beginning with Trent when they ex-communicated Luther as believing THAT VERY THING. So Trent was arguing against a position that did not exist, and was therefore not infallible at all because…(oh? didn’t you know?) God does not endorse misrepresenting anyone’s position, believer or not.

        1. Barry, that is EXACTLY what you said – that situational ethics based on ones own interpretation of how one “fears God,” to include murder, abortion, and cannibalism – are theologically defensible. You basically said, one can violate God’s clear commandments to survive. You have just put yourself equal to God, a paradigm allied to modernism and secularism which has it’s roots in both the Reformation and the so-called Enlightenment. I don’t think that’s the outcome Luther meant, but by God, that’s what he got, times-tens-of-thousands, including you. As well, it’s historically obvious that’s **exactly** what Voltaire, Diderot, Danton and Robespierre wanted. Not-so-strange philosophical bedfellows.

          Thus, what I wrote both on the article and in critique of your post directly relates to the article’s premise that one cannot violate God’s law based on convenience or even matters of personal survival. Kolbe knew that. No need to repeat, nor address your all-too-predictable deflection to your proven-faulty obfuscations on the Council of Trent. Been there, done that, myself and multiple others here.

          I’ll let the local court of public opinion weigh in if it so chooses.

          1. Oh, and yes, the Maccabee Mom knew it too when she watched her seven sons die under Antiochus’ tortures, to keep their ‘covenant with God and the promise of everlasting life.”.

            About your post, I will moderate my response in that, while we are not to violate God’s law for our human purposes. It is true that while God is just, He is also merciful (cf. St Faustina’s Diary). But to violate the law even for survival is chancing on running afoul of Matt 4:7, and tempting the Lord. Might not turn out well….

          2. AK: Barry, that is EXACTLY what you said – that situational ethics based on ones own interpretation of how one “fears God,” to include murder, abortion, and cannibalism

            B: Apparently, you’ve forgotten that YOUR situational ethics include cannibalism to the highest degree every time you go to Mass.

            AF: You basically said, one can violate God’s clear commandments to survive.

            B: Even if I was wrong, that opinion does not effect my salvation. But Catholicism does indeed teach violating God’s clear commandment….i.e., not to drink blood! True Christians know that Jesus would never teach anything to the contrary. So just as he did not mean that we actually hate our parents, or pluck out our eyes, or cut off our hand, SO TOO DID HE NOT MEAN THAT WE DRINK HIS BLOOD, and was thus speaking metaphorically in John 6 AND the Last Supper.

            AF: the article’s premise [was] that one cannot violate God’s law based on convenience or even matters of personal survival.

            B: I’ve already shown that is absolutely false in the case of the midwives and Rahab, and God did not consider their lies a malicious affront to his law. In any case, violating the divine law is exactly what the RCC does by requiring the drinking of blood for the “personal survival salvation” of the soul. It is, in a word, disgusting.

          3. “B: Apparently, you’ve forgotten that YOUR situational ethics include cannibalism to the highest degree every time you go to Mass. ”

            HAH, I KNEW you were going to bring that up, in just the way you did.

            Hey, t’warent my idea, was Jesus’ (not that I have a problem, the Eucharist is my Life). You think God can’t interpret the rules as He sees fit? Go argue with Him.

            “In any case, violating the divine law is exactly what the RCC does by requiring the drinking of blood for the “personal survival salvation” of the soul. It is, in a word, disgusting.”

            Ooohhh, what you said…don’t usually speak for Him, but I’m thinkin’ Jesus is gonna be maaaaad at youuuuuu…

            John 6…as follows….

            “53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.”

            You’ll have better luck finding a metaphor in there than I have of finding a winning BB argument anywhere on this blog 😉

            Have a great day…sincerely, AK….

          4. AK: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

            You’ll have better luck finding a metaphor in there than I have of finding a winning BB argument anywhere on this blog 😉

            B: But in fact, it’s the easiest thing in the werrrrld to find metaphor in the above verse; i.e., for the one whose eyes have been opened by divine sunlight (Luke 24:45).
            On this very thread, you said, “the article’s premise is that one cannot violate God’s law based on convenience or even matters of personal survival.” I say YOU do that very thing by claiming to literally eat flesh and blood, which of course, violates God’s law.

            True Christians (which include millions of ex-catholics) have recognized the fact that “eating and drinking” are synonymous with “believing in Christ” because they both produce the same result: eternal life! In John 5:24, 6:35, 6:40, 6:47 we read that believing in him results in everlasting life. When compared with verses 51 & 54, we learn that eating His flesh and drinking His blood also brings eternal life.

            Stated in plain language: “…everyone who sees the Son and believes on Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:40)
            Stated in figurative language: “whoso eateth my flesh and drinks my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54).

            What Jesus states literally in vs. 40, He states metaphorically in vs. 54. The latter is the metaphorical way of referring to the former.
            Hence, these are merely two ways of saying the same thing, as in another example, “Lazarus sleepeth, but I go to awake him out of sleep”. The disciples said not to bother, let him enjoy his rest. Jesus then said, “Lazarus is dead” (John 11:11).
            The evidence shows that having only one thought in mind, and expressing it in two ways, cannot be denied. Lazarus was either asleep or he was dead, not both. Jesus wants us to either eat His flesh or to believe in Him, not both.

          5. “True Christians (which include millions of ex-catholics) have recognized the fact that “eating and drinking” are synonymous with “believing in Christ” because they both produce the same result: eternal life!’

            They’re half-right. Read Steve Ray’s book, “Crossing the Tiber.” He documents about 17 subsets of what it means to “believe.” You have to believe to receive the Body and Blood worthily. And to have life in you, you have to receive the Body and Blood, as Christ clearly commanded. Better be lissenen ta Jesus….

            Honestly, I don’t know how so many Reformistas of my acquaintance get so bent out of shape over ‘you Catholics don’t take Scripture literally’ when John 6 and the Synoptic Last Supper narratives are the clearest example that-you-don’t.

            Used to date a Baptist girl who nailed me for not taking the Bible as it was written; she also regularly told me I was going to hell for having a glass of wine with dinner. When I brought up the usual Scriptural suspects in support of my vile habit, I got, “oh, no, that was grape juice…”. I re-read the KJV (it’s what I had at the time) and couldn’t find Welch’s anywhere….but she is right…as are the freely-imbibing Presbyterians I know…and the Methodists…and and and….you!

        2. BB,
          “but the Reformed position NOWHERE teaches that you can just la-dee-da do anything you want, think or feel once you believe in Christ” = According to Wikipedia, “Imputed righteousness [the Reformed position] is the righteousness of Jesus credited to the Christian, enabling the Christian to be justified” […] ”According to imputed righteousness, the righteousness by which humans are made acceptable to God, remains “alien.” Since their acceptability is based on God’s actions, nothing humans do can forfeit their status as accepted. Sin can result in God treating them as disobedient, but not in God disowning them”. Therefore, one’s actions after receiving God’s righteousness (including murder, or abortion, or any other sin) do not have any effect on his or her salvation.

          1. LLC: According to Wikipedia, “Imputed righteousness [the Reformed position] is the righteousness of Jesus credited to the Christian, enabling the Christian to be justified”. According to imputed righteousness, the righteousness by which humans are made acceptable to God, remains “alien.” Since their acceptability is based on God’s actions, nothing humans do can forfeit their status as accepted. Sin can result in God treating them as disobedient, but not in God disowning them”.

            B: That is correct.

            LLC: Therefore, one’s actions after receiving God’s righteousness (including murder, or abortion, or any other sin) do not have any effect on his or her salvation.

            B: That is correct. But because you don’t look at the big picture, your contempt for the Protestant position is misguided. From the get-go, one must realize that God always…ALWAYS…gets what he wants (Psalm 115:3, Isa 46:9-10, Job 23:13, Dan 4:35, Eph 1:11). With that as the foundation to build upon, when it comes to choosing someone for salvation, HE WILL NOT FAIL to bring that person to heaven, and is more than able to keep the elect from falling away permanently, as Jude tells us. God knew darn well that when he chose David as a teen, murder and adultery were in his future, but he chose him anyway, and thus there would not, could not, ever be a power in this universe strong enough for David to die an unsaved man. It is exactly the same with every one of us. The Protestant position must stand supreme because the alternative is unthinkable; namely, that God can FAIL in his desire to save someone due to the free will of man being stronger than HE (!!!). No, God does not ever bow his knee to the free will of man. He actively interferes with it as a matter of fact from Genesis to Revelation in case you never noticed.
            So when you read something like, “nothing they do can ever forfeit their salvation”, further explanation is required. And don’t tell me that further explanation is not required because Catholics spend their entire adult lives trying to “further explain” away things like… even though we read that “All have sinned”, we must think of Mary as an exception….and then proceed to their 1,000 excuses.
            So if it’s good enough for YOU to demand time to make your case, I trust you will have no objection it’s good enough for US.

          2. “But because you don’t look at the big picture,”

            Which often doesn’t track with Scripture or anything else some guy in velveteen robes didn’t invent +400 years ago, or yesterday in Mom’s basement….go figure…

            “God knew darn well that when he chose David as a teen, murder and adultery were in his future, but he chose him anyway…”

            Yup….he also repented, and CONFESSED (where have you heard THAT before?) Repentance+confession = forgiveness…like an equation, it balances…..

            “…that God can FAIL in his desire …”

            God doesn’t fail…we do. I also think He doesn’t have knees, but I could be wrong.

            “All have sinned”,

            That include Jesus, who was Fully Man, along with being Fully God? Or are there exceptions, as in “Full of Grace,” leaving **no room** for sin? (Great movie, by the way).

            OK…there’s your Catholic ‘splanation. Not that you haven’t heard it before (as we have heard yours)… just…need….to…internalize….

            Once again…have a great God-given day…. 😉

          3. BB,
            “But because you don’t look at the big picture, your contempt for the Protestant position is misguided” = please refrain from projecting your own negative attitude. If the quote from your post is correct, and it is, and if the definition of the Reformed position about righteousness is correct, as you agree it is, then your attack to AK’s post was uncalled for, and the subsequent unnecessary discussion over predestination is redundant and out of place (as well as Scripturally incorrect).

          4. AK: “All have sinned”…
            [I guess] That [must] include Jesus, who was Fully Man, along with being Fully God? Or are there exceptions, as in “Full of Grace,” leaving **no room** for sin?

            OK…there’s your Catholic ‘splanation.

            B: And it is a DISMAL explanation. Worthless. Corrupt. Delusive. I must have heard it 100 times…Namely, if Jesus was an exception to “ALL”, then presto! it must be possible M was too. But Catholics, refusing to use common sense and reason, are being WILLFULLY ignorant. They KNOW, but will not admit, that we are already told, emphatically and WITHIN the Text itself, that Jesus was an exception—and no less than 10 TIMES! The RCC wishes us to believe that M was sinless OUTSIDE the textual evidence by the voice of RC foot-soldiers. Oh no you don’t.
            If God was so kind to tell us of other women who remained chaste (2 Sam 13:20, Judges 11:37), no doubt He would have told us of Mary’s exception in that matter as well. WITHIN THE TEXT. But he didn’t. And if the Lord was so kind to tell us of Jael — who was sinful, but nevertheless, “blessed among women” (Judges 5:24), then when we read of Mary being blessed among women, we may deduce from good and necessary consequence that Mary was a sinner likewise.

          5. You went about 15 lines too long (your entire convoluted, tortured post).

            Kecharitomene…unique to Mary, found no where else in Scripture…sanctifying grace, for life… learn it, live it, love it. God doesn’t take kindly to dissing his Mother….

            Now…where were we…oh, on how Reformistas have dispensation to do anything they want because with all that imputed grace, they’re sayyyyyved, nomattahwhat, including abortion (the topic at hand), murder, cannibalism….

            Let’s hear those 1,000 excuses **again*……

          6. BB,
            “And if the Lord was so kind to tell us of Jael — who was sinful, but nevertheless, “blessed among women” (Judges 5:24), then when we read of Mary being blessed among women, we may deduce from good and necessary consequence that Mary was a sinner likewise” = non sequitur. Just because character A is both a sinner and blessed, doesn’t mean that character B, who is blessed, must be also a sinner.
            Furthermore, the Hebrew language text of Judges 5:24 confines Ja’el to the “women in the tent”, while Mary is praised in general “among women”.
            Finally, three women in Scriptures are called blessed among women: Judith (Judith 13:18), Ja’el (Judges 5:24), and Mary (Luke 1:42). The interesting part is that all three crash the head of the enemy king, Judith and Ja’el with man-made weapons, Mary with her Son (Romans 16:20). Judith and Ja’el are “types” of Mary, and NT types are always superior to their OT antetypes.

          7. AK: Reformers have dispensation to do anything they want because with all that imputed grace, they’re sayyyyyved

            B: You continually misrepresent your opponent’s position, as all your forefathers did, so are unfit to engage in battle.
            No one in planet earth believes in “imputed grace”, so I guess it’s back to Protestantism 101 for YOU.

          8. “…. so are unfit to engage in battle…”

            Translation: I have been properly schtupped, by AK and LLC, and have nowhere to go…so I’ll declare victory and go home.

            Watch that screen door on the way out…spring is pretty powerful.

            OBTW…when there is *a* Protestantism 101, you let me know…..I don’t have time or inclination to sort through tens-of-thousands of “V’s”…..I won’t hold my breath….

          9. Hey LLC,

            Therefore, one’s actions after receiving God’s righteousness (including murder, or abortion, or any other sin) do not have any effect on his or her salvation.

            Setting the rest of this argument very much aside… so, that’s true and it’s false. From (at least a Reformed) Protestant perspective, actions post-salvation do not cost us our salvation – but salvation must necessarily alter those actions. Salvation is merited on faith, not works, true – but that faith has to be a soul-deep submission to the will of Christ, or it was never faith in the first place. Someone who “la-dee-das” has no salvation, not because it was theirs and they lost it, but because such a person never believed in the first place: their quote-unquote “faith” was dead, the kind of useless intellectual assent that even a demon has, and not a willed kneeling before Christ as Lord. True faith must – must – produce works, even though those works play no part in redemption.

            Reducing imputed righteousness to “eh, do whatever” very much misunderstands the Protestant use of the term. That doesn’t make the Protestant view right, obviously, but that’s a separate topic.

          10. Irked,
            “Salvation is merited on faith, not works, true” = BB’s own words contradict your assessment: “No, God does not ever bow his knee to the free will of man”. If Salvation is merited on faith, it presupposes a free act (faith) from the potential believer (free will), which BB denies.
            “True faith must – must – produce works, even though those works play no part in redemption” = this statement only defines “true faith” by its supposed effects, rather than by its essential nature, which remains unexplained in its attributes. Until such attributes are clarified, your “true faith” concept is just a variation of the “no-true-Scotsman” fallacy: a concept that is defined only by its rhetorical avoidance of counterexamples and not by any objective description. As a corollary, you routinely fall into this fallacy when counterargument the notion that the Reformed universe is extremely fragmented in its believes:
            a) Reformed Christians agree on core believes
            b) Reformed Christians disagree on a huge spectrum of Biblical concepts
            c) These Biblical Concepts are not true “Core Believes”.

          11. Hi LLC,

            “Salvation is merited on faith, not works, true” = BB’s own words contradict your assessment: “No, God does not ever bow his knee to the free will of man”. If Salvation is merited on faith, it presupposes a free act (faith) from the potential believer (free will), which BB denies.

            I won’t speak for BB, but it seems to me that you’re misunderstanding the Calvinist view of (salvific) faith, in which such faith exists only where it is given by God to those He has appointed for salvation. Faith is not, in this view, a free act, because human free will is not a thing that exists: you have faith because God has given you faith.

            (Again, I’d ask that we separate “are these claims true” from “what actually are the Calvinist claims” – I’m only attempting to argue on the latter topic at the moment.)

            this statement only defines “true faith” by its supposed effects, rather than by its essential nature, which remains unexplained in its attributes. Until such attributes are clarified, your “true faith” concept is just a variation of the “no-true-Scotsman” fallacy: a concept that is defined only by its rhetorical avoidance of counterexamples and not by any objective description.

            On the contrary, I’ve described salvific faith as a submission of my will to the will of Christ, which (if sincere) must necessarily produce a change in my actions as well. In other words, saving faith is the genuine acknowledgement, “Christ is Lord – of all, and particularly of me.”

            If that definition is less comprehensive than you would like, I’ll be happy to elaborate on whatever point you prefer – but I don’t think I can be accused of fallacies on the grounds that my post was addressing a different topic.

            As a corollary, you routinely fall into this fallacy when counterargument the notion that the Reformed universe is extremely fragmented in its believes:
            a) Reformed Christians agree on core believes
            b) Reformed Christians disagree on a huge spectrum of Biblical concepts
            c) These Biblical Concepts are not true “Core Believes”.

            I do not think it is fallacious to suggest that some doctrines are salvific in their necessity, and others are not, but that seems like a topic for another time.

          12. Irked,
            “I won’t speak for BB, but it seems to me that you’re misunderstanding the Calvinist view of (salvific) faith, in which such faith exists only where it is given by God to those He has appointed for salvation” = I did not (nor did BB) specifically refer to the Calvinistic definition of Faith, but to a more universally understood one, as much as such a definition is possible in the Reformed universe. The concept of Imputed Righteousness, which is what sparked the discussion with BB, is “…a signature doctrine of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions of Christianity”, again according to Wikipedia, therefore not limited to the Calvinistic brand of the Reformation.
            “On the contrary, I’ve described salvific faith as a submission of my will to the will of Christ, which (if sincere) must necessarily produce a change in my actions as well” = again, you are simply moving the definition of faith from its essential nature to its supposed effects. Furthermore, Faith, in your own definition (“Christ is Lord – of all, and particularly of me”) would not necessarily produce a change in actions, as James 2:19 points out.
            “I do not think it is fallacious to suggest that some doctrines are salvific in their necessity, and others are not, but that seems like a topic for another time” = see the first point.

          13. Hi LLC,

            I did not (nor did BB) specifically refer to the Calvinistic definition of Faith, but to a more universally understood one, as much as such a definition is possible in the Reformed universe.

            Hm. Okay, so, spot check, here. It sounds like you’re using “Reformed” as a synonym for “Protestant” – i.e., that you view “the Reformed universe” as something broader than Calvinism.

            But “Reformed” is generally used today as a synonym for “Calvinist;” Armenian Protestants are not Reformed, in that sense.

            Maybe this is all stuff you already know, but some of your wording is confusing me a bit – I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. So when BB says that “the Reformed position NOWHERE teaches…” he’s talking primarily about the Calvinist position, and my comments are continuing in that vein.

            Is it possible we’ve been misunderstanding each other on this point?

            again, you are simply moving the definition of faith from its essential nature to its supposed effects.

            Respectfully, no, I’m not. Saving faith is an act of willed submission to Christ: a granting of all control to him in the hope of being raised like him. That is its essential nature; its effects include obedience.

            Furthermore, Faith, in your own definition (“Christ is Lord – of all, and particularly of me”) would not necessarily produce a change in actions, as James 2:19 points out.

            On the contrary, as James points out, an acknowledgement that does not include a willing submission is no true faith at all. Intellectual assent to the facts of Christianity is pointedly not what I’m talking about, and does not satisfy the requirements I set above.

            Like, again, you can argue the Reformed concept of salvation is wrong, but I don’t think you’re rightly describing it here.

          14. Irked,
            “But “Reformed” is generally used today as a synonym for “Calvinist;” = according to Wikipedia, “The Reformation, also referred to as the Protestant Reformation, was a schism from the Roman Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other early Protestant Reformers in 16th-century Europe”. Furthermore, BB has agreed, sua sponte, with the 2 premises, including confirming that “one’s actions after receiving God’s righteousness (including murder, or abortion, or any other sin) do not have any effect on his or her salvation”. He had many chances to clarify his position. On a related note, it would be beneficial to the discussion if he (and perhaps yourself) could define more accurately his adherence to a specific brand of Protestantism. Finally, I would like to know your opinion on BB’s position, specifically when he claims that “I say it WOULD be okay to murder and cannibalize, it being just plain unthinkable to suppose that God’s will demand they all just lay down and die so his law can rule the day”. Not on the specific act (murder and cannibalism); rather on the concept that one can break the Commandments by assuming that God would understand and not uphold the law. I am not saying that God won’t do it; I am saying that BB seems to infer that the individual can make that call.
            “On the contrary, I’ve described salvific faith as a submission of my will to the will of Christ, which (if sincere) must necessarily produce a change in my actions as well. In other words, saving faith is the genuine acknowledgement, “Christ is Lord – of all, and particularly of me.” = again, these 2 definitions of faith are contradictory, it seems to me. In the first part, you acknowledge that true faith must produce change, while the second part is merely an intellectual acknowledge, which could result sterile. On a contingent point, true faith doesn’t necessarily produce changes in one’s actions; it may simply change the reason for “producing good fruits”, but I think you would agree with this.
            “Like, again, you can argue the Reformed concept of salvation is wrong, but I don’t think you’re rightly describing it here” = I disagree. It’s up to BB to “rightly describe” his position; I merely follow his arguments.

          15. Hi LLC,

            “But “Reformed” is generally used today as a synonym for “Calvinist;” = according to Wikipedia, “The Reformation, also referred to as the Protestant Reformation, was a schism from the Roman Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other early Protestant Reformers in 16th-century Europe”.

            Yes, and that’s true, but “Reformed” and “Protestant” don’t have the same meaning. Plenty of denominations that descend from the Reformation would not describe themselves as “Reformed” in this sense; that’s why there are, for instance, “Reformed (i.e., Calvinist) Baptists” as well as non-Reformed Baptists. Go to Wikipedia and search for “Reformed Christianity” – it redirects to the “Calvinism” page.

            This is a very standard usage in Protestant circles, on both sides of the Calvinist/non-Calvinist divide. So when BB made his original comment about “the Reformed position,” I think you took him to be talking about “the Protestant position.” He wasn’t; he was talking about the Calvinist position, and I’ve been doing the same. If you want to talk about what non-Calvinist Protestants believe, that’s a different topic.

            I will agree that this is a dumb and confusing naming convention, but they didn’t ask me!

            Furthermore, BB has agreed, sua sponte, with the 2 premises, including confirming that “one’s actions after receiving God’s righteousness (including murder, or abortion, or any other sin) do not have any effect on his or her salvation”.

            Yes, and that’s true, but it’s only part of the picture. Genuine saving faith, by its nature, requires us to sincerely repudiate a life of “guess I’ll just go sin as much as I want, now.” Someone who does not sincerely regret and turn from his sin, promising to follow Christ’s will rather than his own in all matters – by definition, that person does not have saving faith.

            On a related note, it would be beneficial to the discussion if he (and perhaps yourself) could define more accurately his adherence to a specific brand of Protestantism.

            Again, “Reformed” does precisely this. “Reformed” is more specific than “Protestant,” in the same way that “Thomist” is more specific than “Catholic.” I think that confusion on terminology is making things appear vaguer than they might.

            Finally, I would like to know your opinion on BB’s position, specifically when he claims that “I say it WOULD be okay to murder and cannibalize, it being just plain unthinkable to suppose that God’s will demand they all just lay down and die so his law can rule the day”.

            I disagree with it, as I disagree with BB on a lot of his conclusions. I do think ectopic pregnancy is a very difficult case, morally speaking.

            I also think there’s precedent in Scripture for saying that the purpose of the law is to do good, not to prevent doing good, though. As Christ said, “The sabbath for man, and not man for the sabbath”: it was lawful for a man to pull his neighbor out of a pit on the sabbath, it was lawful for David’s starving men to eat the shewbread, and it was lawful for Corrie Ten Boom to lie to the Nazis about the Jews hidden in her basement. I don’t see any way to stretch that principle to murder and cannibalism.

            As I said initially, though, I’m mostly just trying to clarify what the Calvinist beliefs actually are; Calvinism is not libertinism.

            In the first part, you acknowledge that true faith must produce change, while the second part is merely an intellectual acknowledge, which could result sterile.

            Hm, then I’ve communicated poorly. In saying, “Christ is Lord of me,” that’s intended to be a voluntary submission – not a mere acknowledgement, “Well, he’s stronger than I am,” but a deliberate placing of his desires above my own. Demons have the first, but not the second. I meant for the two parts to be considered as a cohesive whole, not as actions in isolation from each other – my apologies if that was unclear.

            On a contingent point, true faith doesn’t necessarily produce changes in one’s actions; it may simply change the reason for “producing good fruits”, but I think you would agree with this.

            I would include our thoughts and feelings as part of the fruit we produce – albeit a fruit that only God can see – and I do believe those are necessarily changed by God replacing our heart of stone with a heart of flesh. I would certainly agree that unsaved men can still do good things.

            So I guess my answer is “It depends on how you define ‘actions,'” but I don’t think we disagree too strongly.

            I disagree. It’s up to BB to “rightly describe” his position; I merely follow his arguments.

            Okay. Without getting into what he has or has not communicated: your initial description of what Reformed theology teaches is factually wrong, and I hope our conversation is clarifying the actual Reformed position somewhat.

          16. Irked,
            “Without getting into what he has or has not communicated: your initial description of what Reformed theology teaches is factually wrong, and I hope our conversation is clarifying the actual Reformed position somewhat” = you cannot not get into what BB has or has not communicated. I asked him 2 simple questions. He agreed to both of them, including the idea that “one’s actions after receiving God’s righteousness (including murder, or abortion, or any other sin) do not have any effect on his or her salvation”. Regardless of the branding (and BB actually speaks of the Protestant position, thus a more general one than the Calvinist one), the definition I used is a direct quote from Wikipedia. If this is “factually wrong”, BB did not try to rectify it.

          17. Hi LLC,

            you cannot not get into what BB has or has not communicated.

            To be somewhat tongue in cheek: Sure I can. This is me not getting into it.

            the definition I used is a direct quote from Wikipedia

            Your Wikipedia definition is for the wrong word; you’re quoting their article on “The Reformation,” not their article for “Reformed Theology.” Those are two different things.

            I can completely understand how dumb that claim sounds, but it’s absolutely true; it’s not even a controversial or unusual usage of the word. If you reread some of these posts with the understanding that “Reformed” means “Calvinist,” I think some of them might make better sense.

          18. Irked,
            “Your Wikipedia definition is for the wrong word; you’re quoting their article on “The Reformation,” not their article for “Reformed Theology.” Those are two different things” = sorry, I am referring to the first Wiki quote, specifically about “Imputed Righteousness”, which was the basis of my questions to BB. Again, BB answered positively to both questions, and called this concept the “Protestant position” twice, never mentioning the (more correct, in your explanation) branding “Calvinist position”.

          19. Hi LLC,

            Ah, now I’m with you. So, again, I would just say that you’re right when you say that imputed righteousness means that a person who has salvation and sins does not thereby lose his salvation, but (as I’ve argued earlier in this thread) that’s only half the story.

        3. “…no doubt He would have told us of Mary’s exception in that matter as well. WITHIN THE TEXT….”

          Wouldn’t He have done the same thing in John 6? “Hey Fellas, don’t run off, it was only a figure of speech…!!!”

          How’s that petard thing working out for you 😉

      2. Hi AK,

        Probably should have replied here rather than to LLC, but see my post below. Anyone who only ostensibly fears God goes to hell, because he or she never had saving faith. I can support the claim that this is the common Calvinist understanding from any number of Calvinist theologians, if you like, but here’s Calvin himself, in his commentary on James 2:

        “This is the same as though [James] had said, that we do not attain salvation by a frigid and bare knowledge of God, which all confess to be most true; for salvation comes to us by faith for this reason, because it joins us to God. And this comes not in any other way than by being united to the body of Christ, so that, living through his Spirit, we are also governed by him. There is no such thing as this in the dead image of faith. There is then no wonder that James denies that salvation is connected with it… He says that faith is dead, being by itself, that is, when destitute of good works. We hence conclude that it is indeed no faith, for when dead, it does not properly retain the name.”

        There’s quite a bit more in that vein. As I said below, that doesn’t automatically make him right, but it seems like the thing you’re arguing against is the position sometimes called “anti-Lordship salvation” – and Calvinists will condemn that right alongside you.

        1. Irked: I think fear of the Lord is an essential part of one’s faith. Fear, not in the classic sense, but in the Scriptural sense of an evolution from deep humble piety, to knowledge and then strength – something well-stated by Pope St. Gregory the Great. On this, we’re probably closer than we think.

          My question – which I believe you’ve answered before, but I’ll ask in this new thread – can someone who has at one time earnestly accepted Christ, and who has become changed through earthly temptations and distractions, lose his salvation through sin? I am not interested in Wikipedia or BB, just your thoughts….. thanks!

          1. Hi AK,

            My answer is, “No.” Paul says that those he called, he justified; those he justified, he glorified. To have experienced salvation at any time is to experience justification; such a one cannot subsequently fail to be glorified. Thus is there now “no condemnation for those who are in Chrsit Jesus”; thus are we now the blessed men “whose sin God will never count against them.” God might have chosen to accomplish salvation through some different plan – but the plan we find described allows no possibility of one called and not saved.

            But.

            But this side of eternity, we don’t know who the justified are – and a man who finds his behavior unchanged despite the theoretical presence of Christ in him has legitimate cause for questioning whether he does, in fact, have that presence. But John says of those who leave the church that their leaving proves that they were not of the body; Christ says of those who cry “Lord, Lord!” (but whose appeal to works never touches their hearts!) that he never knew them.

          2. Irked – thanks. I know we could get into an discussion here about grace and sanctification, imputation and infusion, works vs faith alone, but it’s been done before and it’d be just more off-topic. I would surmise that, if someone has both faith and is doing good works, that they do the works in your view because they are one of the elect and are thus have Christ’s exemplar spirit within. I hear where you are coming from and you even make me understand the ‘from’ because you write well and I am not having to read past spittle foam and popping eyeballs, for that I thank you, again. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

            I know you know the Catholic view…I’m banging out my version just out of respect for your sharing..

            It’s not Catholic doctrine that one has to do a certain amount or “enough” “good works” to “add” to Christ’s sacrifice. Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross certainly purchases our redemption and salvation. Here’s where we differ – I believe one has to accept His grace: be baptized, obey His commandments, walk in the life of his grace and salvation, actively. Not just passively accept that “it is finished” means that “there’s nothing I have to do.” Christ’s death opened the door: but I have to make a positive decision walk through it. Anything else would not respect the free will I believe was infused by God purposefully into every living human.

            Put another way…man and woman fall in love, marry and share intimate relations which is God’s gift of that sacrament. The same man, if a stranger, forcing himself on that same woman, though it’s essentially the same physical act, it’s not a gift, it’s rape. Salvation, to be a gift, has to be accepted with love, as Mary made the free-will choice to accept God’s proposal from the angel Gabriel. Something forced on one is not a gift, which IMHO is the problem with predestination. If I am not understanding the Calvinist concept, you’ll explain how you feel I am wrong.

            One way or the other, we’ll all find out….

          3. (Rereading, I should clarify that “he” in the second sentence is God, and not Paul. Oops.)

            Does that answer your question?

          4. Hey AK,

            I know we could get into an discussion here about grace and sanctification, imputation and infusion, works vs faith alone, but it’s been done before and it’d be just more off-topic.

            Yeah, I agree – didn’t mean to derail the conversation, but I think we’re mostly all on the same page re: abortion.

            I would surmise that, if someone has both faith and is doing good works, that they do the works in your view because they are one of the elect and are thus have Christ’s exemplar spirit within.

            Broadly, yeah. Their good works are a result both of Christ dwelling in them and remaking them in his image, and of their own sincere desire to live in obedience to him – you can’t really separate the one from the other.

            I hear where you are coming from and you even make me understand the ‘from’ because you write well and I am not having to read past spittle foam and popping eyeballs, for that I thank you, again.

            “I kind of understand your position better now” is just about my favorite thing to hear, so thank you, too. Polite conversation is pretty great.

            Something forced on one is not a gift, which IMHO is the problem with predestination. If I am not understanding the Calvinist concept, you’ll explain how you feel I am wrong.

            Well, so some of the difficulty here comes from the range of metaphors Scripture uses. It compares our relationship to Christ with that of a bride and groom – but it also compares it to the relationship between a corpse and a man who comes to raise it. The corpse is unable to consent to being raised; it’s dead. In the Calvinist understanding, it is literally impossible for anyone – anyone – to make the kind of “accepted with love” action you describe. If God waited for a willing response absent his own miraculous change of a human heart, no one would ever be saved.

            John 3 tells us that light came into the world, but that we loved darkness instead of the light – and that we will not come into the light. I think that’s exactly what I’m trying to describe – but as is often the case, I think Romans gives the clearest statements here. In Romans 8, Paul says, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God,” emphasis mine. And again, in Romans 9, Paul is as emphatic as he can be: “It [that is, salvation], therefore, does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy… Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

            But I feel like none of this gets to the heart of your question, which seems to me to be, “By what right does God force a change of heart on us?” And the only answer I can give is: shall the pot say to the potter, “Why did you make me thus?” Paul’s implicit answer is no – that if the potter wishes to make something of you, he has every right to do so. God is not obliged to respect your will; He made your will, and if he wishes to remake it, who are you to tell him otherwise?

            I feel like we’d actually agree on a lot of this. If God wants to strike you dead, does He have the right to do so? I think we’d both say yes. If He chooses for you and me to lose wealth, and health, and family, as He did for Job – isn’t the only proper response to say, as Job did, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord”? Even consider Mary – I think it’s interesting that Gabriel does not ask her permission; he just tells her how it’s going to be. These would be monstrous actions for a human to take – but they are monstrous because they claim authority that’s rightly God’s. God Himself is free to do with our lives and possessions as He desires.

            Why would He have any less right to our wills than He does to the rest of us?

          5. Irked,
            “It compares our relationship to Christ with that of a bride and groom – but it also compares it to the relationship between a corpse and a man who comes to raise it” = please explain.
            ““By what right does God force a change of heart on us?” = your conclusion doesn’t follow. Paul is simply saying that, left to our own devices, we wouldn’t nor couldn’t please God. This is correct, and that’s the RCC position as well. The next step, though, is that God offers us the power to overcame our flesh, in the form of His salvific grace (with God all things are possible). It’s not an imposition; in modern terms, it would be comparable to a software update. You don’t have to run it, but understand that there will be consequences. Romans 3:24 speaks of a gift; Romans 3:26 speaks of justification for those who have faith in Jesus.
            “If God wants to strike you dead, does He have the right to do so? I think we’d both say yes. If He chooses for you and me to lose wealth, and health, and family, as He did for Job – isn’t the only proper response to say, as Job did, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord”?” = Omnipotence does not compel an entity to act; an omnipotent being could very easily choose to refrain from interfering in the choices made by another being, granting that being free use of their free will. Please note that I do not disagree with the idea that God “owns it all”, and I am not troubled by it. I disagree with your assessment that because God is omnipotent, He chooses to impose His will on us.
            “Even consider Mary – I think it’s interesting that Gabriel does not ask her permission; he just tells her how it’s going to be” = I think this could (possibility, not certitude) be said of John the Baptist, since the angel doesn’t visit Elizabeth, but her husband, to let him know what possibly has already happened (the angels says here that Elizabeth will bear a child, which is past conception, but this is speculation on my part – see Luke 1:24). When Zacharias expresses doubts, he is punished. Mary is visited directly by the angel, who let her know of God’s plans, and when she voices her concerns (which indicates her intention of remaining a virgin, but his is a topic for another day), the angel explains that the conception will not be ordinary but miraculous in nature. Then, and only then, Mary’s fiat puts God’s plan in motion.

          6. Hi LLC.

            please explain.

            You’ll have to expand on that. What would you like me to explain?

            your conclusion doesn’t follow. Paul is simply saying that, left to our own devices, we wouldn’t nor couldn’t please God.

            Yes, that’s my point.

            The next step, though, is that God offers us the power to overcame our flesh, in the form of His salvific grace (with God all things are possible). It’s not an imposition; in modern terms, it would be comparable to a software update.

            I do not think it is sufficient to say that God offers us the power to overcome our flesh; if all he did was offer it, then as we’ve just agreed, we would all refuse that offer by nature. Instead, God gives that power – a power the natural man does not want and would refuse if he could – by giving us faith, and then by giving grace through that faith. I understand AK’s question to be, “By what right does God do this thing?” – and so that’s what I’ve been trying to address.

            Romans 3:24 speaks of a gift; Romans 3:26 speaks of justification for those who have faith in Jesus.

            Yes? It is a gift; it’s the most precious gift I could receive. That doesn’t change anything I’ve said above.

            Omnipotence does not compel an entity to act; an omnipotent being could very easily choose to refrain from interfering in the choices made by another being, granting that being free use of their free will.

            It seems like you’re arguing against a claim I haven’t made, here. I said only that God has the right to do with you as He wishes, and that it is not immoral for him to change your will if He wishes. “Does God in fact do so?” is a separate question, and not what AK asked (again, as I understood it).

            I disagree with your assessment that because God is omnipotent, He chooses to impose His will on us.

            Again, this is not my argument.

            Mary is visited directly by the angel, who let her know of God’s plans

            I would invite you to demonstrate anywhere in the passage where the angel says anything other than, “This is what’s going to happen.” Mary willingly obeys, which is in itself an act of God’s grace, but there’s no indication that he’s asking her permission.

          7. Irked,
            “You’ll have to expand on that. What would you like me to explain?” = the part where you say Scriptures “…compares it to the relationship between a corpse and a man who comes to raise it.”
            “I do not think it is sufficient to say that God offers us the power to overcome our flesh; if all he did was offer it, then as we’ve just agreed, we would all refuse that offer by nature. Instead, God gives that power – a power the natural man does not want and would refuse if he could – by giving us faith, and then by giving grace through that faith” = agreed; this is why I added, “with God all things are possible”. My (and I believe AK’s as well) point is that we have the free will to refuse to partake of God’s gifts. A gift, by definition, can be refused, as Scriptures repeatedly show.
            “I understand AK’s question to be, “By what right does God do this thing?” – and so that’s what I’ve been trying to address” = I don’t see AK’s question in these terms. It seems to me that he’s asking how can Grace be considered a gift when it is imposed, not if God has the right to impose His will. Perhaps I missed part of your interchange.
            “It seems like you’re arguing against a claim I haven’t made, here” = See previous point. Perhaps AK could clarify his question.
            “I would invite you to demonstrate anywhere in the passage where the angel says anything other than, “This is what’s going to happen” = au contraire; Mary’s fiat, which you correctly identify as “willful”, or intentional, indicates that her agreement was necessary and not granted. Are you saying here that Mary could not refuse to conceive and bear Jesus, or that, in case of her refusal, God would have made it (Jesus’ conception) happen to her anyways?

          8. Hi LLC,

            the part where you say Scriptures “…compares it to the relationship between a corpse and a man who comes to raise it.”

            Ah, okay. Well, pretty much just what I said, then: the Scriptures describe us as dead, incapable of taking any action towards our own salvation, until God made us alive. Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2 both do this. That’s a different metaphor; both metaphors catch different aspects of our relationship with God.

            agreed; this is why I added, “with God all things are possible”. My (and I believe AK’s as well) point is that we have the free will to refuse to partake of God’s gifts.

            So let’s define terms a bit. What is “the gift” we’re talking about?

            I say that the gift is, among other things, faith: the ability to submit to Christ – to choose God, if you will. Whether this is an irresistible submission or not, I think we agree that, absent that gift, we would be unable to pursue God. Yes?

            Then how could we possibly make a willing choice to receive that gift? The ability to willingly choose God is itself the gift; the giving of that gift has to precede the ability to desire it.

            Or here, let’s try this another way. As a natural man, Bob hates the things of God. He cannot choose to follow God; he does not even want to follow God. Right? If God came to Bob and said, “I can change your heart so that you’re even capable of following me, if you’d like,” Bob would say, “Heck no, I like living in darkness, and I hate the light,” because Bob is by nature a rebel, as are we all.

            And yet, God does change Bob’s heart. We can debate whether God makes Bob able to choose, or calls him irresistibly – but there is a change, either way, and this change is itself a gift from God. I don’t see any way to resolve this without God’s decision preceding Bob’s willingness – unless we want to say that, no, the natural man can on his own choose the things of God.

            A gift, by definition, can be refused

            When God gave you life, was that a gift? Could you have refused it?

            (I regularly give my son the gift of a clean diaper no matter how much he doesn’t want it or tries to refuse it.)

            Mary’s fiat, which you correctly identify as “willful”, or intentional, indicates that her agreement was necessary and not granted.

            Can you show me anything in the text that states this necessity?

            Are you saying here that Mary could not refuse to conceive and bear Jesus,

            Yes. God decreed that she would conceive; he did not ask her permission.

          9. Irked – so many good arguments made in the past two days, i don’t have a lot to add. Just one thing…starting with your quote:

            Yes. God decreed that she would conceive; he did not ask her permission.”

            I disagree. The Annunciation was akin to your boss coming in and saying “this is the way we’re going to do things…”and then standing there waiting to see what you’ll do. A good boss will wait for a trusted employee’s input to a major decision. In this case, God – who is the ultimate Good – was setting forth the inception to the most momentous event in human history since Genesis.

            The angel **waited for Mary to give her assent** – “behold, the Handmaiden…” Again, this wasn’t rape – this was courting. The fact God “knew his Customer” and that Mary would be a willing handmaiden removes neither a jot nor tittle from her free will, which she exercised in the right way for all humanity (not that she knew it at the time – she does now).

            There are many other undeniable examples, OT/NT, of God giving His servants decision space….often with a nudge, but always their choice.

            I am reminded of a conversation Scott Hahn had with a Muslim cleric. When Hahn would refer to God as “father,” the Muslim would literally scream “NO! God is our Master – we are not children, we are his slaves.” Knowing something of your character and demeanor, I have a lot of trouble believing that you, Irked, look on God this way, but that sure sounds to me as if Calvinism is espousing precisely that, we are unwilling slaves to the will of God (choosing slavery to God is an entirely different story). If we have no meaningful free will, and are nothing more than automata, with some of us selectively preselected for salvation and others damned, no matter what we do despite dozens of OT/NT exhortations to live a certain way, then the sacrifice of the Cross is not only totally unnecessary, but wholly meaningless.

            Put another way….Human: “I see the Sacrifice, and thus, I believe and love Jesus.” God: “Sorry, you’re not one of the ones I picked, and your belief doesn’t move Me at all. Nice try, though; you go to hell.” To quote you, one will never know whether one is saved until one ‘gets there.’ The difference between you and me is, I as a Catholic believe we get to affect that outcome, by the actions of our free will under the guidance of the the Church and Her Pillars of Faith.

            I realize your mileage varies. Once again, I do appreciate learning what I learn from you.

          10. Hi AK,

            I disagree. The Annunciation was akin to your boss coming in and saying “this is the way we’re going to do things…”and then standing there waiting to see what you’ll do. A good boss will wait for a trusted employee’s input to a major decision.

            Sure, because even a very good boss knows that the employee might have a perspective that he, the boss, has missed. But God doesn’t miss perspectives. God doesn’t need our input on whether this move is good for the company. The reasons the metaphor works between humans are exactly the reason it doesn’t between us and God.

            Moreover, even a very good boss sometimes tells his employees how it’s going to be, regardless of their feelings. Again, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about their opinions – but that he’s the one making the decision, and not a democratic vote, is what makes him the boss.

            The angel **waited for Mary to give her assent**

            So I think part of what’s complicating this conversation is that there are at least two things in play here:

            1) Could Mary have refused?

            2) Is God morally obliged to ask her permission?

            We’re kind of jumping between them, and that’s confusing the issue. Let’s separate ’em out.

            To (1): so when God called me to salvation, I assented to it. But a premise of Calvinism is that grace is irresistible: that when God claims you for his salvific purpose, he changes your heart such that there is no other possibility but that you assent. Thus, for instance, John 6: “All those the Father gives me will come to me,” and the subsequent discussion, emphasis added. There is no possibility that the Father gives me to the Son, and yet I do not assent.

            In the same way, there’s no possibility here that Mary refuses God’s command. For her to do so would make God a liar, in all the prophecies that hang on the specific timing and circumstances of the Messiah’s birth – and God cannot be a liar. Mary willingly assents to what God has said will happen – but that’s compatible with what I said to LLC: she could not do otherwise, because this was God’s decree, and God’s decree will stand.

            Let’s switch to (2):

            Again, this wasn’t rape – this was courting.

            This is morally charged language, so let me push back a bit here. Set aside whether you think God actually did ask her permission. Are you arguing God was morally obliged to do so: that for him to not ask her permission would be rape? Again, is God morally obliged to ask for your permission before striking you dead, or taking away all the earthly things you love and hold dear?

            By no means! God has the right to do to you exactly what he wants, when he wants, and Scripture is clear that you have exactly no standing to object: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

            You can disagree that God did act in the way I describe, but there’s no denying that it would be morally proper for him to do so.

            The fact God “knew his Customer” and that Mary would be a willing handmaiden removes neither a jot nor tittle from her free will… If we have no meaningful free will, and are nothing more than automata

            So, let’s dance this dance: what is free will? What do you mean when you say that a person has free will – and what would be lacking in a person who did not have it? I don’t deny that we as humans are morally responsible for our actions; what, beyond that, is lacking in a human with a determined will?

            Put another way….Human: “I see the Sacrifice, and thus, I believe and love Jesus.” God: “Sorry, you’re not one of the ones I picked, and your belief doesn’t move Me at all. Nice try, though; you go to hell.”

            If this is your concern: Calvinism (and, I would argue, Scripture) is entirely unambiguous that this does not, and cannot, happen. Men loved darkness instead of the light, and would not come into the light. Those in the flesh cannot please God; every single damned soul goes to hell spitting in the eye of his Maker.

            No one chooses God. No one ever chooses God – except if God choose them first, and all those God chooses, He saves.

            But here’s the Job question again: does God owe anyone a shot at salvation?

            To quote you, one will never know whether one is saved until one ‘gets there.’

            Could you point me to the quote you’re referencing?

          11. Irked – good evening!

            “God doesn’t need our input on whether this move is good for the company. The reasons the metaphor works between humans are exactly the reason it doesn’t between us and God.”

            I wasn’t saying this because I think God *needs* our perspective or our assent – He doesn’t, of course. Like the good and loving Father He is, He respects His children’s free will to accept or to reject Him and His grace, offers, etc.

            “1) Could Mary have refused?” Yes, of course, but He knew she would not. That’s why He picked her, and why Catholics in particular so honor her.

            “2) Is God morally obliged to ask her permission?” Of course not. The same God who gently asked Mary to be the spouse of the Holy Spirit was the same God who ordered the merciless slaying of thousands of pagan Canaanites – men, women, and children – because it’s his creation and His rules. But in general, when one takes the long view, what would be (to, say, the aghast non-theist observer) apparently immoral actions ordered paradoxically by the God who invented morals for the rest of us, eventually work out to a just, reasonable, and moral purpose. God has a plan.

            “But a premise of Calvinism is that grace is irresistible: that when God claims you for his salvific purpose, he changes your heart such that there is no other possibility but that you assent.”

            That’s is where we irretrievably will disagree. God can show you a miracle, of the most stupendous kind, such as when He raised Lazarus from the dead. And off in the corner, instead of falling flat on their faces in abject supplication, Pharisees are grumbling “this guy is messing with our rice bowls…maybe we need to fit Him with a pair of cement overshoes and drop Him in the deep part of the Jordan.”

            To me, the bottom line description you’ve given me of Calvinism is, that God, by taking complete control of the hearts that he chooses, makes Christian zombies, bereft of choice. You, Irked, sound not in the least like a zombie and more like a man…who has made a choice. And a damn good one to love the Lord.

            “I don’t deny that we as humans are morally responsible for our actions;” How can we be morally responsible if God has or has not – in Calvinist theology – programmed our hearts with grace? If we haven’t been programmed by His grace, then we are the wretched creatures of Pauline letters, living in the flesh since we know no other way to be, and can do-no-right to be saved, thus morals are N/A. If we are the (Calvinist) elect, then our hearts are programmed with ‘irresistible” grace and we can-do-no-wrong nor affect our salvation; thus morals are N/A. Hence the extreme dinner choices of BB.

            “Put another way….Human: “I see the Sacrifice, and thus, I believe and love Jesus.” God: “Sorry, you’re not one of the ones I picked, and your belief doesn’t move Me at all. Nice try, though; you go to hell.”
            “If this is your concern: Calvinism (and, I would argue, Scripture) is entirely unambiguous that this does not, and cannot, happen.” “No one chooses God. No one ever chooses God – except if God choose them first, and all those God chooses, He saves.” And you know we are going to disagree on this one ’til they shovel the dirt over us….in Catholic theology, we choose, God offers the Choice.

            “But here’s the Job question again: does God owe anyone a shot at salvation?” NO, but he gives them the all the same shot, since God, the archetype of the loving Father (unlike the Islamic slavemaster), treats all His children equally. And like flawed children, not all of us accept His grace.

            “To quote you, one will never know whether one is saved until one ‘gets there.’”
            “Could you point me to the quote you’re referencing?”
            “Oct 26, 4:44PM But this side of Eternity, we don’t know who the justified are –“

          12. And in addendum, I will say again, in Calvinist theology, why bother with the Cross and its Scriptural pre-and-postscripts? All that pain and trouble, when all God had to do was remotely to change hearts of the elect that He wanted. No Chosen, no Exodus, no Prophets, no Incarnation, no Crucifixion, no Acts nor Letters nor Revelations should have been necessary. The Example of Sacrifice really means nothing, since how we are affected by the Cross can in no way change whether or not we have been predestined for salvation……so why bother?

            The Catholic (and quite a few Protestant) answer – good Lutheran friend with whom I had dinner tonight agrees wholeheartedly – is that the sacrifice of the Cross was made to be a visible and inspiring exemplar of victory over sin and death positively to affect the free will of humanity to work towards Salvation. That’s why we Catholics hold the Crucifix so dear…

          13. Irked,
            “Well, pretty much just what I said, then: the Scriptures describe us as dead, incapable of taking any action towards our own salvation, until God made us alive. Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2 both do this” = only partially correct. We have already agreed that left to our own devices (i.e, without God’s Grace), we would not pursue God. But, “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (CCC 27). This “desire for God” is a consequence of His Grace, freely given to us.
            “So let’s define terms a bit. What is “the gift” we’re talking about?” = in primis, Grace; then, Faith. The RCC teaches that everybody (no predestination) is blanketed by the free gift of God’s grace. If we do not resist this first grace (free will), Faith necessarily follows (Faith in the Pauline’s more extensive meaning, encompassing theological faith, hope, and charity).
            “Then how could we possibly make a willing choice to receive that gift? The ability to willingly choose God is itself the gift; the giving of that gift has to precede the ability to desire it” = I disagree. The first gift, Grace, is the catalyzer which allows an action (choosing God) that would be, without it, impossible.
            “If God came to Bob and said, “I can change your heart so that you’re even capable of following me, if you’d like,” Bob would say, “Heck no, I like living in darkness, and I hate the light,” because Bob is by nature a rebel, as are we all” = this is why God’s Grace allows Bob to allow God to change his heart.
            “When God gave you life, was that a gift? Could you have refused it?” = your analogy doesn’t apply here. A baby doesn’t exist before God’s gift of life; furthermore, for the baby to actually come to existence, the parents must freely act as well. Free will requires some level of intellectual, physical and psychological capability; for example, someone on the electric chair cannot choose to live any more than someone drowning in the middle of the ocean, but that doesn’t mean that their free will is in any shape or form impeded.
            “Yes. God decreed that she would conceive; he did not ask her permission” = again, incorrect. Mary’s fiat contradicts your statement. You could have more luck using Judas’ betrayal to support your point of view; still, as for the Incarnation, you could only demonstrate the unavoidability of the act, but not of the actor.
            Going back for a moment to the point that originated the discussion with BB, I would like to point out that your position doesn’t match his. You affirm that “Someone who “la-dee-das” has no salvation, not because it was theirs and they lost it, but because such a person never believed in the first place”. BB’s position is more focused on the inconsequentiality of the (predestined) believer’s behavior: “With that as the foundation to build upon, when it comes to choosing someone for salvation, HE WILL NOT FAIL to bring that person to heaven, and is more than able to keep the elect from falling away permanently, as Jude tells us”. How do you reconcile the two interpretations?

          14. Hi LLC,

            I disagree. The first gift, Grace, is the catalyzer which allows an action (choosing God) that would be, without it, impossible.

            I do not feel that this is engaging my argument. As I understand them, your premises are:

            1) Every gift has to be refusable.
            2) The ability to choose God is itself a gift from God.

            It follows that the ability to choose God is refusable. But the natural man refuses God; that’s why he needs the gift in (2) in the first place. Thus, the natural man always refuses this first gift, as well.

            I don’t see a way to sustain this position.

            “If God came to Bob and said, “I can change your heart so that you’re even capable of following me, if you’d like,” Bob would say, “Heck no, I like living in darkness, and I hate the light,” because Bob is by nature a rebel, as are we all” = this is why God’s Grace allows Bob to allow God to change his heart.

            That’s just an infinite regression of the same problem. Look, this is the progression of our conversation:

            1) Bob never chooses God.
            2) So God gives Bob the grace to choose Him.
            3) But Bob refuses that grace, too, because Bob never chooses God.

            Your last comment seems to circle back around to (2). That doesn’t solve the problem; however far you want to recurse back, Bob keeps refusing. The only resolutions are to say either that Bob chooses to accept God, apart from God, or to say that God gives a gift that can’t be refused.

            your analogy doesn’t apply here. A baby doesn’t exist before God’s gift of life

            That’s precisely why it does apply: life precedes choice. And before God changed me, I wasn’t alive.

            furthermore, for the baby to actually come to existence, the parents must freely act as well.

            And for me to receive life, God has to act to bring me to life. But the baby doesn’t choose to accept or receive the gift of life; neither do I.

            Your claim was that, for something to be a gift, I have to be able to refuse it. That’s clearly, unavoidably false in the case of the gift of life given to me; whether my parents or anyone else made choices doesn’t change that.

            “Yes. God decreed that she would conceive; he did not ask her permission” = again, incorrect. Mary’s fiat contradicts your statement.

            I mean, that’s literally pure assertion. I’m open to a case being argued, but the mere fact that Mary willingly goes along with the plan does not establish your point. There is no ask; the only sentences that come from Gabriel are declaratives: this will happen.

            How do you reconcile the two interpretations?

            As I said, I’m uninterested in talking about BB. What I’ve described is historic Calvinism, going back to Calvin, as I demonstrated from his commentaries.

    3. BB,
      “then it follows (contrary to you) that it would be “O.K.” in other situations, such as in the book and film, “In the Heart of the Sea”, where they all agreed to draw lots, the loser agreeing to be shot for food” = your movie comparison does not automatically follow. The people in the raft were all in dire straits (starving to death) and decided to drew lots to increase the chance of surviving, therefore it wasn’t a voluntary decision. Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who volunteered to take the place of another man in the gas chamber in Auschwitz but was not under immediate danger of death, is a much better analogy, but his gesture would not qualify as murder as much as, in a weird way, suicide.
      Furthermore, the midwives in Exodus (as well as Rahab the Prostitute) fit in God’s plan, and God is not bound by the Commandments (like we are), therefore their lying to the king of Egypt was justified according to His final objective, which we (and them) do not know. The Commandments are for our benefits, as guidance, and we shouldn’t try to second-guess God’s motives. Murder (including abortion) is always and everywhere wrong, from our point of view.

      1. LLC: The people in the raft were all in dire straits (starving to death) and decided to drew lots to increase the chance of surviving, therefore it wasn’t a voluntary decision….so your movie comparison does not automatically follow.

        B: First of all, I read the book, and it was indeed a voluntary decision.
        Second, the book/movie comparison follows precisely what the main article would like us to believe:

        “Say that the two of you are lost at sea, and you run out of food. It wouldn’t be okay for either one of you to murder and cannibalize the other, even though the alternative is that you both starve.”

        I say it WOULD be okay to murder and cannibalize, it being just plain unthinkable to suppose that God’s will demand they all just lay down and die so his law can rule the day. He is able to suspend the letter of the law (just as he suspended the sun in Joshua’s day) and let the “spirit of survival” prevail in such circumstances, making all involved, “not guilty”.

        LLC: the midwives in Exodus (as well as Rahab the Prostitute) fit in God’s plan, and God is not bound by the Commandments (like we are), therefore their lying to the king of Egypt was justified according to His final objective

        B: That was my main point all along, except you say we are bound to the commandments down to the last detail, and I don’t (in such dire situations). In fact, if we take your theory to its logical conclusion, the cannibals would be guilty of a mortal sin, and thus sent to hell according to RC dicta.
        We deny.
        I disagree with the main article because the author did not incorporate “the letter and the spirit of the law” into his conclusion that, “murder is always wrong no matter what”.
        The point being, if it was a lifeboat full of Christians and they all agreed that one should die for the survival of the others, the spirit of the law would be fulfilled, while the letter of the law would have to be suspended.

        1. BB,
          “First of all, I read the book, and it was indeed a voluntary decision” = incorrect. The voluntary decision was to “draw straws”, not “to lay down one’s life to safe the others”. If this is the case, drawing straws would not have been necessary.
          “I say it WOULD be okay to murder and cannibalize, it being just plain unthinkable to suppose that God’s will demand they all just lay down and die so his law can rule the day. He is able to suspend the letter of the law (just as he suspended the sun in Joshua’s day) and let the “spirit of survival” prevail in such circumstances, making all involved, “not guilty” = incorrect, again. You are making 2 mistakes here: the first is that murdering is the same as voluntarily surrendering one’s life for the sake of others; secondly, you presume to know God’s plans, which is not Biblical (see Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 55:8; Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32 for example).
          “That was my main point all along, except you say we are bound to the commandments down to the last detail, and I don’t (in such dire situations)” = again, see the above point. The Commandments are designed to guide us, as you do not (nor anyone else) know God’s plan.
          “The point being, if it was a lifeboat full of Christians and they all agreed that one should die for the survival of the others, the spirit of the law would be fulfilled, while the letter of the law would have to be suspended” = since everybody on the boat agrees, it’s not an individual voluntary decision. Secondly, how would they know that the will of God is not, in this case, for everyone on the boat to perish as example of Christian values? If your line of reasoning were correct, a group of martyrs in the first century could conclude that only one death would be necessary. Or, Shadrach and Meshach could’ve deemed Abednego’s sacrifice enough, thus writing an entire different story. Or, Saint Maria Goretti could’ve decided that God didn’t want her to perish at the hand of her rapist, and that the “spirit of the law” would’ve been fulfilled by her intentions, not by her action and sacrifice.
          “We deny” = again, please refrain from using the plural. All you can say is “I deny”. You don’t speak for the highly fragmented Reformed universe.
          On a final note, please remind me not to ever book a cruise with you.

        2. “He is able to suspend the letter of the law (just as he suspended the sun in Joshua’s day)…”

          You keep-missing-LLC’s-point….it was GOD that acted (the sun in Joshua 10:13) or people acting as a result of God’s direct intervention (Joshua 2 – funny how these all seem to clump) …NOT a gaggle of ‘private interpretation’ fundamentalists living by Godless situational ethics and justifying it as sacred. Why else did God hand out the Decalogue? Was there an asterisked codicil there that says *…except when BB thinks we should put this on hold…*?

          “I say it WOULD be okay to murder and cannibalize, it being just plain unthinkable to suppose that God’s will demand they all just lay down and die…”

          My God…there’s almost no words for this. By writing what you have written, you have put your needs and your hide above His law. What I said about David Koresh holds.

          Can one imagine St.Ignatius writing “well, it was a choice between surviving and having my flesh being ground by wild beasts…..so I chose to sacrifice to the idol.” BB, you just don’t get it. This life is not ours…we belong to God. This life is **not** about surviving at all costs, especially if it takes spitting in God’s face by flaunting our disobedience of His laws for our own purposes. It is about obeying the clear law and word of God even at the cost of our lives.

          I don’t know how I would stand under the torture or threat of death to me or mine. I hope I would be as the Maccabee mother was. I can say this….out of the chute, my default is, God, I am yours…Your Will be done…..

          Call yourself Christian when you figure that out…..you are a lot further gone than even I had thought…..good luck, and remind me never to get on a cruise ship with you, I’d make lousy sashimi…..

        3. Hey BB – take a look at LLC’s and my most recent posts. They passed each other in the electron stream. I never had any communication with LLC outside this venue.

          Read them.

          THIS is NOT the ugly and fragmented face of 40,000-belief sets denominationalism.

          THIS is what Christian unity looks like.

          THIS is what One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church looks like.

          There’s strength is this, direct from the Holy Spirit. The gates of hell will not prevail, and you better believe, the same goes for you.

          Better think hard on your life’s direction…Barry….and why you were brought here….

          1. AK: THIS is NOT the ugly and fragmented face of 40,000-belief sets denominationalism.

            B: Spare us all the insinuation that Catholicism is “united” because they threw together a catechism. The Pope’s recent …”ruling”… that there is NO room whatsoever for the death penalty…AT ALL…..is at loggerheads with the catechism in 2266 which says that there IS room, not to mention that the Creator of the universe put to death and WILL put to death, hundreds of thousands from Genesis to Revelation, he not caring a WHIT about the “dignity of the person” excuse Catholics are so fond of using. The Pope’s angst against the D.P. makes him God’s public enemy #1. Frank only BEGINS to show how many cracks there are in the Roman Catholic ship of salvation. So many, in fact, that there aren’t enough hands on deck to keep it from sinking.

            AK: THIS is what Christian unity looks like… One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

            B: Rather, your synagogue of Satan, (Rev 2:9) demands that,
            “it is altogether necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff”, which is nothing less than a pseudo-intellectual religious sham that will send to hell everyone who believes such nonsense.

          2. How about Pope alexander VI who threatened to excommunicate his **mistress** when she wanted to go back to her husband? Was that one Pope’s action, or did that ever become dogma? Did Pope Francis speak ex cathedra? Or did he offer his opinion? Do you see any move to change the Catechism?

            Is that the best you can do, Barry? IS THAT THE BEST YOU CAN DO????

            You frantically invent, desperately polyp-pick, and learn nothing. Your denigration of human dignity is in direct contravention of 1 John 4:8, Mark 12: 30-31,and 1 Cor 13: 4-8. YOU, Barry, are un-Scriptural one. You, Barry, lecture us on the ‘spirit of the Law’ while supporting murder and cannibalism.

            You, Barry, are the lone purveyor of Satanism here.

            Ho, Satanas!

          3. BB,The pope’s statement on capital punishment is a statement of his desire. It is in sense a ‘rule’ which must be believed and followed. Not all of a Pope’s words are to considered infallible or church ‘teaching.’ There is also a difference between dogma—certain truths from which a Catholic may not depart— and doctrine, where differences of thinking among church members do exist. The death penalty is one such doctrine. It is not on the same level of dogmatic belief as the Trinity, for example, or the Incarnation.

          4. Or, Immaculate Conception. Or…the Assumption….

            Thank you, Margo.

            This is one exchange I am going to remember, in detail. Murder and cannibalism within the spirit of God’s law, indeed…..the ultimate degeneration, in the American backwoods, of sola scriptura and fide….I am guessing even Calvin would scream, from the depths, noooo, you don’t speak for meeeeee……

          5. M: The pope’s statement on capital punishment is a statement of his desire… Not all of a Pope’s words are to considered infallible or church ‘teaching.’

            B: I do understand that concept VERY well thank you. But you must understand that your opponents absolutely refuse to judge this fellow human being on the basis of his supposed “infallible” and “non-infallible” statements; for as you know, we do not believe God has granted infallibility to the Pope… AT ALL. Frankly Margo, I feel sorry for you, having to spend your life defending the Pope on the basis of “ex-cathedra” or not. What a waste of time! God has NOT called us to engage in such foolishness! Besides that, the RCC cannot even agree as to the criteria for when an infallible statement has even been made! RC apologists differ on the number of criteria, and if THEY disagree, then even the Vatican can’t tell you, which then makes even the possibility of judging the Pope on the basis of ex-cathedra, an IMPOSSIBLE undertaking, causing worthless and vain speculation. And because the Creator of the universe says he dislikes controversial speculation, he MUST be opposed to it (1 Tim 3-4).

            Considering this “demand for salvation” did not even rear its ugly head until 1870, and the amount of times it has been invoked more than likely less than the number of fingers on one hand, it cannot possibly be imagined that God has decreed that 2000 years after Jesus left this earth, that all non-Catholics are obligated to judge Catholicism on the basis of “official” and “non-official” statements!
            NO.
            The RCC shall be judged in accordance with EVERY opinionated word that ushers out of her mouth, wherever and whenever she makes them, precisely as you judge non-catholics. You tell me that the Pope has only given us his “DESIRE” to swing the ax to the D.P.
            Who in the world cares WHAT kind of “interior rumblings” it be classified as. Biblically speaking, IT IS A WRONG DESIRE, and therefore a sin. Need it be said that he will be judged for that desire and all his non-infallible utterances on that final day along with the rest of us? Therefore, we shall judge his public desires exactly as the Lord commanded when he told us to judge others.

          6. “Therefore, we shall judge his public desires exactly as the Lord commanded when he told us to judge others.”

            I guess Matt 7: 1-3 don’t apply to bunker-dwellin,’ sister-marryin’ Ozark fundietards. By the Sacred Word of Parster BB.

            Have fun with your gerbil.

          7. AK: “We”…”us” [stop using the personal pronoun “we” when you mean “I”]

            B: Why don’t you stop being so desperate to find mistakes that you only end up looking more foolish than you already are.
            This is a perfectly acceptable form of speech whether you like it or not, probably started somewhere back when the Queen said, “We are not amused” meaning SHE was not amused, and crept over to the Americas.

            And I will use it any time I darn well please, thank you so much!

          8. “…when the Queen said, “We are not amused”..”

            All Hail Queen Barry….. 😉

            “And I will use it any time I darn well please, thank you so much!”

            You’re welcome! The more you showcase yourself as pompous and dimwitted, the less work “we” have to do.

            And more entertainment for…”us…”

          9. B: Therefore, we shall judge his public desires exactly as the Lord commanded when he told us to judge others.

            AK: I guess Matt 7: 1-3 don’t apply to bunker-dwellin,’ sister-marryin’ Ozark fundietards.

            B: I would probably have to… JUDGE… you as probably being the poorest possible example of Catholic apologetics, simply because of your persistent and obnoxious name-calling, and second, that your bible-slinging efforts fail each and every time, especially in this most recent woeful example where you strangle and twist the Scriptures to make your point. Ummm…when you read any typical commentary on Matt 7, you will discover that no one agrees with you. Shall I repeat that?
            NO ONE.

            We know very well what Jesus means in Matt 7, which is one thing. Go find out what that is. On the other hand, he himself has commanded that we DO judge. If you stop to think about it, how would forgiveness be possible if we didn’t judge how the other person treated us? We only forgive people for what we blame them for and we blame them only after we have…..(watch it now!)… privately judged them!
            Also, is it not true that you judged the evidence for Catholic claims, acted on that judgment, and joined hands with the pope?

            Scripture encourages us to apply personal judgment to arrive at the truth in numerous instances. For example, the Bereans are commended for using their…(oh my!)… private judgment in accordance with Scripture to judge Paul (Acts 17:11).
            We are “to judge righteous judgment” (Jn 7:24), and failure to do so is to be negligent in a crucial aspect of our Christian living. Was Paul wrong when he judged Peter in Galatians 2:11-21? No, he was not. Was he wrong when he condemned such people as the Judaizers (also in Galatians) or the pagans and Jews in Romans 2? No, he was not. He moreover taught the Corinthians that they were to judge sinful believers and leave people outside the church to God (1 Cor 5:12-13).
            Too, we are at liberty to point out misguided doctrinal oppositions along with our reasons why (2 Tim 2:25). To a Christian, judging is an important piece of work that God calls us to do, especially in a world gone morally and doctrinally haywire. How could we “beware of false prohets that come to us in sheeps clothing” if we didn’t….(watch it now!) make the serious effort to engage in private judgment and assemble the facts?
            You are refuted.

          10. “you will discover that no one agrees with you. Shall I repeat that?
            NO ONE.”

            Your gerbil and your ferret must be good company.

            ” Was Paul wrong when he judged Peter in Galatians 2:11-21? ”

            I know St. Paul and you DEFINITELY ain’t St. Paul. Nor Jesus, as you seem to think.

            ““beware of false prohets that come to us in sheeps clothing”

            Barry, the one thing I would NEVER do is come near you looking anything like a sheep…..and that would be “prophets”….and “sheep’s”…..baa-aaaa…….

          11. BB,
            “I do understand that concept VERY well thank you” = as usual, your own comments contradict you.
            “for as you know, we do not believe God has granted infallibility to the Pope… AT ALL” = interestingly, you assume personal infallibility on the matter of knowing God’s plans when you affirm “I say it WOULD be okay to murder and cannibalize, it being just plain unthinkable to suppose that God’s will demand they all just lay down and die so his law can rule the day”.
            “Besides that, the RCC cannot even agree as to the criteria for when an infallible statement has even been made!” = incorrect. The color red, for example, can be explained using the RGB model, or the CMYK model, or the HSL model, but the result is the same. For an in-depth definition of Papal Infallibility, please refer to the Catholic Encyclopedia.
            “Considering this “demand for salvation” did not even rear its ugly head until 1870, and the amount of times it has been invoked more than likely less than the number of fingers on one hand, it cannot possibly be imagined that God has decreed that 2000 years after Jesus left this earth, that all non-Catholics are obligated to judge Catholicism on the basis of “official” and “non-official” statements!” = this is an extremely unclear statement. Please rephrase.
            “The RCC shall be judged in accordance with EVERY opinionated word that ushers out of her mouth, wherever and whenever she makes them, precisely as you judge non-catholics” = incomplete. Everybody will be judged, “For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get”.
            Finally, a very interesting poll was recently published by the Pew Research Center poll indicates that “a majority of U.S. Protestants, 52 percent, believe that both good deeds and faith are necessary for salvation. Meanwhile, 52 percent of the U.S. Protestants polled hold that Christians need the guidance of church teaching and tradition in conjunction with the Bible”. It only took them 500 years….

          12. BB,
            “This is a perfectly acceptable form of speech whether you like it or not, probably started somewhere back when the Queen said, “We are not amused” meaning SHE was not amused, and crept over to the Americas” = incorrect. According to Wikipedia, “It is commonly employed by a person of high office, such as a monarch, earl, or pope. It is also used in certain formal contexts by bishops and university rectors. William Longchamp is credited with its introduction to England in the late 12th century, following the practice of the Chancery of Apostolic Briefs”; it’s not a “perfectly acceptable form of speech”. According to a Harvard Business Review article from 2011, “A person who’s lying tends to use “we” more or use sentences without a first-person pronoun at all”. Therefore, please leave it to those who have spokesperson rights.

          13. Right, AK. While BB shows murder and cannibalism to be all within Calvin’s new law of Christianity, so they see the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of Kecharitomeme, as full with sin.

            BB said: “Frankly Margo, I feel sorry for you, having to spend your life defending the Pope on the basis of “ex-cathedra” or not. What a waste of time! God has NOT called us to engage in such foolishness!”

            Margo says: “Frankly, Barry, save yourself. In my sincere attempt to help lift the scales of ignorance from your mind’s eye (I discern only one, Mr. Cyclopidas), I assumed bona fides in you. My mistake.

            “I forgot to remember that you have predestined and judged us Catholics consigned to hell by the good grace and ‘malice aforethought’ on the part of God. The proof? Your own words from postings in prior articles.

            “Which further begs the question: Why are you here? Who wastes whose time? Scum is as scum does. Works count.”

          14. M: you have predestined and judged us Catholics consigned to hell

            B: Which is exactly what Boniface VIII did in that infamous quote I have repeatedly reminded you of no less than 25 times on this website….(in addition to Trent’s calling us, “godless, evil and contentious”). Which further begs the question: Do you even listen? The answer is of course no. Anyone who has read that quote 25 times, could not possibly insult my intelligence and stick a rose in their mouth and say, “oh you bad boy, you DARE judge us to hell?”
            So yes, it is indeed clear, that Divine Providence chooses to blind the eyes of those whom he sees fit to do. I have no idea why you have not been chosen, but it is definitely certain you are not. He states unequivocally that the truth is purposely hidden from those he has ordained to be blind, for, “Even so, father, so it seemed right in thy eyes”. He’s certainly got his reasons that we are not privy to, but the EVIDENCE of your delusion, by your dedication to the game-plan of Boniface VIII that “EVERY” human creature must bow their knee to his filthy feet, allows us to know without a doubt that all Catholics are lost.

            M: “Which further begs the question: Why are you here?

            B: Don’t be a silly goose. I know you have no interest in what I say, but others might look in and come to see that Catholic apologetics are for the birds. There is not ONE…not ONE…RC argument that cannot be met with a more sober, reasonable and biblical response.

          15. “Which is exactly what Boniface VIII did in that infamous quote..”

            Pope Boniface VIII (d.1303)

            On which we Catholics meditate daily, and is the entire basis of the Catechism ;). Having eviscerated you as many times as you have quoted this obscure Pope, out of historic situational context, and repeating what I said last night:

            IS THAT THE BEST YOU CAN DO???

            “.. insult my intelligence and stick a rose in their mouth …”

            Your what? And wouldn’t that be more like the feather duster and a limp wrist to which you’ve referred numerous times?

            “… a more sober, reasonable and biblical response.”

            Such as:

            “I say it WOULD be okay to murder and cannibalize,…”

            Leg or a thigh, Barry?

            “others might look in and come to see …”

            Seems when the Protestants here recognize your presence, it’s anything BUT in support of you – the opposite, in fact. But I suppose they’re all going to hell as well…..the Beatific Vision…reserved only for BB (aka again, Flounder)…and his gerbil…..

          16. BB said: “There is not ONE…not ONE…RC argument that cannot be met with a more sober, reasonable and biblical response.”

            Margo says: Good luck with that argument on your last day. And BTW, I still wish that God may grant you grace of sight prior to that. BECAUSE, MR. CYCLOPEDIAS, the most rational and the best of your beliefs are gifts to you from the Catholic Church. No way around that. Enjoy that smoking pipe. Would despair or some other affliction visit you if you had not us to gripe to, to berate, to denigrate, to deprecate, to complain against, to suffer, to insult, to spew to, to judge and to feel superior to? I sincerely hope you enjoy your pride since it’s all you’ve got.

            Good day and goodbye.

          17. BB “I do understand the concept of P.I. VERY well thank you”

            LLC: as usual, your own comments contradict you.

            B: As usual, my comments make perfect sense and you have failed to refute them.

            LLC: interestingly, you assume personal infallibility on the matter of knowing God’s plans when you affirm “I say it WOULD be okay to murder and cannibalize, it being just plain unthinkable

            B: Don’t be a nitwit. I am voicing my opinion, not infallibly declaring anything. Briefly, the book of Exodus says that if anyone breaks into your house and you knock that person off, you shall not be guilty of murder. Does not this instantly vanquish the main article’s claim that murder is wrong no matter what? In the same manner, re: the dire situation of men in that lifeboat; if all agree that it be necessary for one to die to save the others…. a concept very clearly found in Christianity 101…(!!!)…. then I do not consider that “murder” either. Your pretended love for God’s law and that it must always be kept to the letter, is hypocritical by the way. You should be less concerned about my “cannibal lifeboat” opinion, and more rather with the RCC’s ruinous requirement that you people are obligated to keep the entire law for salvation (CCC 2068), an impossible task which not one nice Catholic has ever attained to, and neither does God require it (Acts 13:39).

            LLC: For an in-depth definition of Papal Infallibility, please refer to the Catholic Encyclopedia.

            B: I don’t need to. If you gave me a test, multiple choice or essay, to define the concept, I would pass with flying colors. On the other hand, most Catholics would surely fail that test, I would stake my eternal soul on it because I’ve witnessed it first hand.

            LLC: You said, “Considering this “demand for salvation” did not even rear its ugly head until 1870, and the amount of times it has been invoked more than likely less than the number of fingers on one hand, it cannot possibly be imagined that God has decreed that 2000 years after Jesus left this earth, that all non-Catholics are obligated to judge Catholicism on the basis of “official” and “non-official” statements!”.

            This is an extremely unclear statement. Please rephrase.

            B: I would be happy to. Is it not true that the RCC teaches that the canon of Scripture is closed? And if so, may we not all rest assured that we will be judged by Jesus’ words alone, since Scripture is the only place they may be found? (John 12:48). And is it not true that in the book of Jude we read that the faith has been “once for all delivered to the saints”? Ergo, since the gospel was delivered in its entirety 2000 years ago, with no one believing in papal infallibility for 1,870 years, this claim is false on its false as it is no where in Scripture or even in USE, by definition, for 1,870 years. It becomes even more untenable when the RCC puts a cherry on the cake and demands we believe in papal infallibility “for” salvation. Even worse still, this so-called “gift” has so rarely been used, it’s been for all practical purposes, useless, exposing it for the sham and a hoax that it is (Eph 5:11, 2 Tim 4:2, Rms 16:17-18). Even worse, worse still, they dream up restrictions for P.I. (only under certain circumstances) so that every fault of any Pope can now be sequestered under the cover of, “oh he wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra so don’t worry about it”.
            That’s why I said,”NO…[we will worry about it!]. The RCC shall be judged in accordance with EVERY opinionated word that ushers out of her mouth, wherever and whenever she makes them, precisely as you judge non-catholics”. I judge Boniface’s demand that we be subject to papal power, as “another gospel” per 2 Cor 11:4. The RCC gospel is cursed for numerous reasons, not the least of which trusting in a man for salvation, denied in Jeremiah 17:5, and cursed twice in Galatians 3:10, for all those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under a curse. This is precisely what the RCC teaches in no uncertain terms in CCC 2068 by her lunatic command to keep the Mosaic law or else!

            Your response was that, “For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get”….was meaningless and does not refute anything I said earlier about the matter of “judging”.

            LLC: Finally, a very interesting poll was recently published by the Pew Research Center poll indicates that “a majority of U.S. Protestants, 52 percent, believe that both good deeds and faith are necessary for salvation.

            B: For all the times you wrote “incomplete” in your post, you don’t have the wits to know that the poll is utterly incomplete itself without going further into detail. No Protestant believes any good deed has salvific value. We DO them to demonstrate that our faith is not dead, period, end of story. They are necessary in the sense that God does not wish us to be couch potatoes, but have no salvific value whatsoever. How dare you put your good deeds on the same level as the blood of Christ? Moreover, to say that good deeds are necessary begs the question: how many good works does it take to get to heaven?”. This type of thinking only produces endless stupid speculation which God opposes (1 Tim 3-4) and therefore cannot be true for that reason at the get-go, but more so because the Bible says salvation is APART from works and that means ANY works whatsoever. The Satanic trick of the RCC is to read… “works”… as only pertaining to the Mosaic law. That way, they can say their good works done in the new covenant ARE salvific (CCC 1821), while the “old” works are not. However, this type of thinking would not be tolerated by any Bible scholar on this planet! It is also completely contradictory to make that distinction in light of 2068 demanding you keep the Mosaic law for salvation! Talk about blabbering out of both sides of your mouth!
            When will the madness end?

          18. BB,
            “I am voicing my opinion, not infallibly declaring anything” = not according to your own words.
            “I don’t need to. If you gave me a test, multiple choice or essay, to define the concept, I would pass with flying colors” = again, your own comments challenge this statement. See below.
            “I would be happy to” = only scarcely improved. If your goal was to contest the Biblical basis of Papal Infallibility, there is no need to invoke the Canon of Scriptures, nor to misquote John 12:48 (no mention of “alone” in this verse, as you’ve been shown many times already), as an infallible pronouncement is made usually when some doctrine has been called into question. The doctrine of infallibility is derived from Scriptures (see John 21:15–17, Luke 22:32 and Matthew 16:18, for example) and was implicit in the early Church (see Clement I, Irenaeus of Lyon, Cyprian of Carthage to begin). The puerile attempts to use the behavior of some (a small minority at best) Popes to challenge this notion fail to consider that behavior is not the same as teaching (which takes us back to your supposed clear understanding of this simple concept). Popes, as human beings, are not perfect.
            “This is precisely what the RCC teaches in no uncertain terms in CCC 2068 by her lunatic command to keep the Mosaic law or else!” = interesting phrasing, coming from one who says “…it WOULD be okay to murder and cannibalize, it being just plain unthinkable to suppose that God’s will demand they all just lay down and die so his law can rule the day”.
            “No Protestant believes any good deed has salvific value” = 52 percent of Protestants evidently disagree with you.

          19. I wonder what BB had for lunch? Eww-www……

            Didn’t a guy named Tobe Hooper make a movie about Flounder and chainsaws….?

          20. AK,

            If he had any sense, he would have had brains and heart.

            But probably instead he selected nails and gristle moistened by bile.

          21. Attempts at kindness pass through this carrion vulture like the microcephalic skulls of his flock that he consumes, considering his penchant for theologically-acceptable cannibalism. Ugh.

            That is, when he’s not mincing around the house in with a featherduster in his limp grip.

        4. I know you have no interest in what I say, but others might look in and come to see that Catholic apologetics are for the birds.

          …Do you think that your behavior on this blog is going to convince people who read your comments to be convinced that non-sacramental Calvinist Protestantism has a better, more sober answer? Calvinists apologists such as R.C. Sproul take an attitude that is non-conciliator, but nonetheless much more winsome than what you demonstrate here, and thus win over many more souls to your cause. Your attitude matters.

          There is not ONE…not ONE…RC argument that cannot be met with a more sober, reasonable and biblical response.

          In your opinion, but your tone and conduct don’t really demonstrate that your religion is more sober and reasonable. Your attitude is indicative of a terrible, mean-spirited, narrow-minded, and closed-in religion that no one would really want to be a part of, rather than actual Calvinism.

          Irked better represents the best of Calvinism, and neither does he sacrifice what he believes to be truth to do so.

  7. Good arguments all around, though I would add that the all or nothing approach to pro life is not going to win politically. Intellectually, we need arguments like the OP but politically we need the Rand Paul approach (i.e. start with partial birth being illegal and work your way down.)

    THe masses cannot handle all or nothing.

    1. What the ‘masses’ CAN handle is more catechesis/evangelization by knowledgable Christians at Christmas time. People need to be nicely reminded every year( trying to touch their hearts) that Christians can’t accept abortion because Divine Person of Jesus was incarnated into the womb of Jesus at the time of the Angel Gabriel’s ‘annunciation’ to Mary. Multitudes of people, even Christians, are confused about when ‘life’ actually begins, and will never get deep into the philosophy or science of it. These need to be explained the simple ‘annunciation’ story, as it makes complete sense to even the simplest minds.

      The Gospel story relates that Mary traveled to Elizabeth’s house very quickly after the angel Gabriel visited her at the ‘annunciation’; and that Elizabeth at that time addressed Mary with the term: “the MOTHER OF MY LORD”. So, these of Elizabeth are a proof that the Person of Jesus was indeed incarnated, and living in the womb of Mary at that time. And, also, Elizabeth is a very credible witness in her proclamation, as it is written about her, before she spoke: “And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.

      Here are the pertinent parts of the Gospel story that people should know well when trying to teach others the undeniable ‘Christian proof’ that “life begins at conception”:

      “..behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.

      And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.

      And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. [43] And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

      ****************************

      It might be also noted, at the end of the story, that Elizabeth’s prenatal infant John “leaped for joy”.

      This is one method for making the argument against abortion to be ‘politically’ acceptable, as everyone knows that the Christmas Season itself is already ‘politically’ acceptable. We just need to make the connection for the multitudes of ignorant Christians out there who haven’t paid attention to these Biblical teachings yet.

        1. I completely screwed up that Gospel quote! But, you all have probably read it 100 times already, and so I’m sure you can figure it out. Terrible cutting and pasting and non existent final editing!!! DOH! 🙁

        2. Al,
          Thanks for your on-topic scripturally-supported argument. As you suggest, now is the perfect time to share the connection between Christmas the pro-life. Whether it be in-season or out.

          Joe’s main premise: Murder of a fetus is the taking of life from an INNOCENT human person. The ethics of killing through war, in capital punishment, or in cases of group starvation are different in kind.

          We ought never allow (let alone condone its promulgation in law) the intentional murder of an innocent. Always, too, at least one of the parents actually knows or ought to know that his/her actions effectually consent and invite the inception of innocent life. A mother defiles her own free will and soul and psyche when she consensually allows the creation and consequently the destruction of much of her own self. It is a contradiction most unfathomable. Yet in the U.S.A. how often? 60 million times since 1973. Is it any wonder our country’s populace is confused, disoriented, divided?

          1. Yes Margo, we need to focus on this in season and out. But, if during Christmas we have the opportunity to bring it up, it is easier for some people to listen. This is more or less ‘fisherman strategy’. We should use any helps that come our way to catechism as many people as possible. The biggest problem is that so many people as just plain ignorant. As Jesus said “The harvest is great but the laborers are few”, and this still pertains to today, even as it did back then. So, the main problem is the lack of people willing to give some of their time to Christ to ‘harvest’.

            By the way, Barry in not a typical Protestant. There are multitudes Protestants who love the gospel message that Jesus taught and haven’t diverted too far into philosophy. If Jesus actually wanted that everyone is obsessed with logical arguments over justification and predestination, not to mention the ‘complete depravity of the soul’, He would have chosen Pharisees and Greek philosophers as his first disciples. But as we know He chose instead simple fishermen.

            The most important thing for every Christian, is to put into practice what the gospel of Jesus instructs us to do. Then if we have some extra time, maybe, we can philosophize on abstract concepts, so long as we don’t stop practicing what He teaches us in His gospel.

            Thanks be to God, this is how the Catholic Church grew and flourished in the first centuries. The philosophical arguments were always secondary to the actual living out of the faith that Jesus taught, both by His word and example.

            At least, that’s the way I read the Gospels.

            Best to you.

  8. Irked – remember how I said I was beginning to understand Calvinism? I am confused again…

    On 26 October at 1018, you wrote: Respectfully, no, I’m not. Saving faith is an act of willed submission to Christ: a granting of all control to him in the hope of being raised like him. That is its essential nature; its effects include obedience.

    Then on 27 October, at 432: It seems like you’re arguing against a claim I haven’t made, here. I said only that God has the right to do with you as He wishes, and that it is not immoral for him to change your will if He wishes.

    28 Oct, 656:If this is your concern: Calvinism (and, I would argue, Scripture) is entirely unambiguous that this does not, and cannot, happen. Men loved darkness instead of the light, and would not come into the light. Those in the flesh cannot please God; every single damned soul goes to hell spitting in the eye of his Maker. No one chooses God. No one ever chooses God – except if God choose them first, and all those God chooses, He saves.

    In the first quote you say that one ‘wills submission to God.’ then in the next two, you basically say (and unless I don’t understand, this is a common thread) man is incapable of loving God since he is irretrievably ‘in the flesh,” and that God has to place an irresistible ‘software update’ in the hearts of those He chooses (the ‘elect,’ if I am correct in my Calvinist terminology) to be saved.

    SO, my “confusion” question….how can anyone of the elect make an act of ‘willed submission’ if the ‘update’ from God is irresistible? My Catholic two cents is, the two concepts – willed and irresistible – are incompatible. Either one makes a free-will submission based on reason and/or personal revelation (both are gifts of grace)…or one is completely incapable of loving and submitting to God without an irresistible infusion that makes the will irrelevant – and the true, saved Christian a recruited automaton, which begs the ‘why the Cross’ arguments in my previous posts….

    1. Hey AK,

      Whew! A lot going on here. I may not get to everything, but I’ll try – I’m combining our thread up above with this one. Fair warning: this is gonna get long.

      Let me start with your remarks here, because I think they’re going to affect the rest of this. Here’s the heart of the issue: I don’t think there’s any such thing as free will. That’s actually too weak of a statement: I don’t think free will is a well-formed concept; I don’t think there’s a logically consistent sense of “free will” that’s compatible with divine foreknowledge, let alone with God ordaining some things to happen.

      Let me try for one single concrete example there: when Christ says to Peter, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times,” that will happen. There is no possibility of it not happening; it is not possible that Peter chooses to do anything other than deny Christ three times. His will is not, in any meaningful sense, free.

      But it’s still his will. Peter can’t be Peter and do anything other than what he does, but Peter is morally responsible for being Peter: for deciding to do what he does, and denying Christ.

      So this is the root of my question above, which I don’t think you answered: what is free will? What do you mean when you say that? Some people seem to mean something vague, that just says, “Well, we have moral responsibility for our actions” – but I affirm that. Other people mean something called counterfactual free will, which is the idea that, if we rewound time, we might see people choose differently the second time around – but Peter doesn’t have counterfactual free will, because Peter is going to deny Christ, guaranteed. Still other people mean something like Frankfurtian free will, named after philosopher Harry Frankfurt, which just means that you have the will you want to have – but that’s compatible with Calvinism, because it permits your actions to be determined.

      So what does free will mean to you? What is it that free will does, that (in your view) gives our actions moral responsibility? If you took a person and subtracted free will from him… what would practically be different? How would his life – his experience, his possible futures, whatever – how would they change?

      Because without knowing what you mean by the term, I don’t know what alternative I’m arguing against.

      ***

      Okay, so that’s all preamble. Let’s get to your actual remarks, here. I believe that our actions are determined by our will: by who we are, basically. When I was a natural man, I was the kind of person who would have never, ever willed to follow God; given the chance to have divine forgiveness, I would have spit in His eye for all eternity. I believe this because of passages like Romans 8 (“Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God”) and John 3 (“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light”), but most particularly because of John 6 (“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day”). Absent the Father’s call, I could not come to Christ: and the Father calls only and exactly those whom he raises up at the last day.

      Praise God, I was called – and the call of God is the gift of faith (a la Ephesians 2: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God,” emphasis mine). God changed me; he took out my heart of stone, and gave me a heart of flesh – and by that change I now desired the thing I could not desire before. I willingly, with my own will, submitted to Christ – but the only reason I had that will is that God gave it to me. Before that, I was blind and dead, and I would never, ever have made that choice in my own power. Now, I could not do anything else; to return to John 6, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

      So I believe all of my quotes above. I willed to come to Christ; God also changed my will so that I would desire that thing. Those aren’t incompatible, because again, I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “free-will submission,” because I don’t believe free will is a logically consistent idea. The only thing Scripture ever – ever! – says about the freedom of my will is that I don’t have it: that I am by nature a slave to sin.

      That doesn’t make my will irrelevant, but it does mean I get none of the credit for the decision. As Romans 9 says, “[Salvation] does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy… Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” That’s the theme of Paul’s whole argument here: that salvation is all to God’s glory, and none of my own credit. If I had to choose God, without him miraculously changing my heart first… wouldn’t that make my salvation depend on my human desire? Not in the sense that my desire sufficed for salvation – but in the sense that it’s really my decision that’s the final determiner of whether I’ll be saved? That shreds Paul’s thesis across this entire chapter, as well as Christ’s argument in John 6.

      That’s basically the Calvinist position, in a nutshell. Does that make better sense?

      “2) Is God morally obliged to ask her permission?” Of course not.

      Then I would argue it’s inappropriate to contrast our two positions as “rape or courtship.” Whether God asked Mary’s permission or not, he did not rape her, because God had rightful authority over Mary’s pregnancies as much as he did over every other aspect of her life.

      That’s is where we irretrievably will disagree. God can show you a miracle, of the most stupendous kind, such as when He raised Lazarus from the dead. And off in the corner, instead of falling flat on their faces in abject supplication, Pharisees are grumbling “this guy is messing with our rice bowls…maybe we need to fit Him with a pair of cement overshoes and drop Him in the deep part of the Jordan.”

      Right, because the Pharisees were not given that grace. That’s John 6:64-65 again: “[Jesus said,] ‘Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.'” He’s not ambiguous here: he says that the reason they don’t come to him, despite hearing all the words of God he’s just spoken, is that God hasn’t enabled them to come to him.

      Heck, if that’s not enough, John 12 is even more explicit:

      Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

      “Lord, who has believed our message
      and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

      For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

      “He has blinded their eyes
      and hardened their hearts,
      so they can neither see with their eyes,
      nor understand with their hearts,
      nor turn—and I would heal them.”

      They would not believe, because they could not believe – and the reason they could not believe was that God had blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts.

      To me, the bottom line description you’ve given me of Calvinism is, that God, by taking complete control of the hearts that he chooses, makes Christian zombies, bereft of choice… How can we be morally responsible if God has or has not – in Calvinist theology – programmed our hearts with grace?

      Again, there’s a difference between saying we do not choose, and we do not choose freely. I always do what’s foremost in my will; that’s a choice. Let me return again to Romans 9, because Paul anticipates that exact objection: “One of you will say to me: ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?’ But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?”

      Paul doesn’t say, “Well, no, actually you can resist his will” – his implicit reply is, “You’re right, you can’t. So what?” The Judge of the Earth says we’re still morally responsible for our actions; are we to second-guess him on this matter?

      NO, but he gives them the all the same shot,

      Does he? The pagan who died in Japan in 50 AD – did he have the same shot at salvation as the apostle Matthew, or, say, the Ethiopian eunuch? Did God extend the same level of grace to both of them – or even the same unearned opportunities to know what was required to be saved?

      What about the Amorites? God says he raised them up so they would punish Israel; then he says he would destroy the Amorites for what they had done to Israel. Did they have the same shot at salvation as you or I?

      since God, the archetype of the loving Father (unlike the Islamic slavemaster), treats all His children equally.

      God is just to all his children; he does not treat them all equally. Again, let’s go to Romans 9: Jacob was chosen for salvation, over Esau, “before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls,” emphasis mine. “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'”

      He does not, for reasons of his own glory, treat all his children equally – nor is he obliged to do so. “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?”

      “Oct 26, 4:44PM But this side of Eternity, we don’t know who the justified are –“

      A note of clarification: we do not know who the justified, in total, are. That’s different from saying that we don’t know whether we, ourselves, have received salvation.

      And in addendum, I will say again, in Calvinist theology, why bother with the Cross and its Scriptural pre-and-postscripts? All that pain and trouble, when all God had to do was remotely to change hearts of the elect that He wanted.

      Because God chose this particular story of all human existence as a mode to glorify himself, instead of whatever other modes he might have chosen. Part of the world he chose to create is one in which effects follow from causes: in which salvation spreads through the means of his imperfect servants. I can give no definite answer as to why he prefers this particular method of expressing his glory, because I’m not him – but I’m glad he did.

      ***

      If you want to say the Calvinist view of salvation is alien to our natural tendencies, I’m right there with you. I thought it was nuts the first time it was explained to me. But I cannot find any other way to read Scripture.

      1. Irked – good afternoon. A few things….I cannot properly answer right now, too many things to do and this might be one of the last decent days we get here in Colorado. Rest assured, as I find this fun, informative and invigorating, I WILL get back to you – may be a day or two. I also apologize for invoking the term ‘free will’ without properly answering your question about the nature of same, as I understand it.

        How old is your little guy again?

      2. Sacred Scripture teaches mankind’s inherent “Free Will”, here:

        Sirach 15:11-20:

        ” Say not: “It was God’s doing that I fell away”; for what he hates he does not do. Say not: “It was he who set me astray”; for he has no need of wicked man. Abominable wickedness the Lord hates, he does not let it befall those who fear him. When God, in the beginning, created man, he made him subject to his own free choice. If you choose you can keep the commandments; it is loyalty to do his will. There are set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, whichever he chooses shall be given him. Immense is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power, and all-seeing. The eyes of God see all he has made; he understands man’s every deed. No man does he command to sin, to none does he give strength for lies.”

        1. Aquinas commentary on John 12:

          1697 When the Evangelist says, therefore they could not believe, he states the prophecy which foretold the reason for their unbelief. If we examine these words of the Evangelist they seem, if taken at their surface value, difficult to understand. First, because if it is said that therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said this, the Jews seem to be excusable. For is it a sin for a person not to do what he cannot do? And what is more serious, the fault will be cast back on God, since he blinded their eyes. This could be accepted if it were said of the devil, as in 2 Corinthians (4:4): “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” But here it is said of our Lord, for Isaiah [6:1] says: “I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,” and follows with “Blind the heart of this people and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted and I heal them” [v 10].

          1698 To clarify this let us first explain the statement, therefore they did not believe. Here we should note that something is said to be impossible or said to be necessary in two ways: absolutely, and granted a certain presupposition. For example, it is absolutely impossible for a human being to be an ass; but granting a certain presupposition, it is impossible for me to be outside my house, presupposing, that is, that I remain within it sitting down. With this in mind, we may say that a person is excused if he does not do things that are absolutely impossible for him. But he is not excused if he does not do things that are impossible for him granting some presupposition. So, if someone has the evil intention of always stealing, and says that it is impossible for him not to sin as long as he continues with that intention, he is not excused: for this impossibility is not absolute, but based on a certain presupposition, for he can abandon his evil intention. So he says, therefore they could not believe, that is, because they had a will clouded over by their wickedness: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer 13:23); “How can you do good things when you are evil?” [Mt 12:34]. It is like one saying: “I can in nowise love him, because I hate him.”

          As to the second point, when we read that God blinds and hardens, we should not think that God puts malice into us or forces us to sin; but we should understand it as meaning that God does not infuse grace. Now he infuses grace because of his mercy, while the cause of his not infusing grace is due to us, insofar as there is something in us which opposes divine grace. As far as he is concerned: “He enlightens every man coming into this world” [1:9]; “He desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4). But because we leave God, he takes his grace from us: “Because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you” (Hos 4:6), “Your destruction, O Israel, is from yourself; your help is only in me” [Hos 13:9]. It is like a person who closes the shutters of his house, and someone says to him: “You cannot see because you lack the light of the sun.” This would not be due to a failure of the sun, but because he shut out the light of the sun. In the same way we read here that they could not believe, because God blinded them, that is, they were the cause why they were deprived of sight as in “Their wickedness blinded them” (Wis 2:21).[37]

          1699 With these distinctions in mind, let us consider the words of this prophecy. It is found in Isaiah (6:10), not in these exact words, but with the same meaning. Three things are mentioned here: first, the hardening and blinding of the Jews; secondly, the effect of each of these; thirdly, their end.

          1700 In regard to the first, note that our Lord brought people to the faith in two ways, by his miracles and his teaching. And so he rebukes them on both points: “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin” (15:24); and again in (15:22): “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.” For they had derided both.

          Insofar as they did not give due consideration to Christ’s miracles, he says, he has blinded their eyes, that is, the eyes of their hearts, about which we read: “Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened” (Eph 1:18). For they should have understood that such miracles could only be done by divine power: “You see many things, but do not observe them” (Is 42:20); and again, “Who is blind but my servant? Or deaf, except he to whom I have sent my messengers?” [Is 42:19].

          Because they were not moved by the teaching of Christ, he adds, and hardened their heart. That is very hard which is not melted by intense heat nor broken by divine blows. Now the words of Christ are “like fireand like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces” (Jer 23:29). Fire, indeed, because they inflame through love; and like a hammer because they terrify when they threaten, and break one by the revelation of the truth. And still the hearts of the Jews paid no attention to the words of Christ. Thus it is obvious that they were hardened: “His heart is hard as a stone” (Job 41:24); “He has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills” (Rom 9:18).

          1701 The effect of their becoming blind is mentioned when he says, lest they should see with their eyes, that is, their spiritual eyes, and perceive the divinity of Christ: “They have eyes, but do not see” (Ps 115:5). In contrast, Luke says: “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see!” (Lk 10:23). The effect of their becoming hard of heart is mentioned when he says, lest they should perceive, understand, with their heart: “Because no one understands, they will perish forever” [Job 4:20]; “He would not understand so that he might act well” [Ps 35:4]. Here it should be noted that when he says, “lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart,” that is, “that they should not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart,” the “that” does not indicate a cause, but merely the sequence of events.
          .
          1702 The end of their becoming blind and hard in heart is given when he says, and turn for me to heal them. This can be understood in two ways, as Augustine says in his work, On Gospel Questions.[38] In one way, so that both parts are negative, and then the meaning would be: “and they do not turn to me and I do not heal them.” For the way of salvation from sin is to turn to God: “Restore us to thyself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days of old!” (Lam 5:21). But to those who prove themselves unworthy to have their sins forgiven, God does not offer the gifts by which they might turn to him and be healed, as is obvious in the case of the non-chosen.

          The other interpretation is to regard only the first part as negative and then the meaning would be: they were blinded and hardened so they should not see or understand for a time, and so not seeing or understanding, that is, not believing in Christ, they would put him to death, but afterwards they would repent and turn to God and be healed. For now and then God permits us to fall into sin so that being humbled we may arise firmer in holiness.

          Each of these interpretations is verified in the case of some of the Jews: the first one in those who persisted to the end in their unbelief, and the second one in those who turned to Christ after his passion, namely, those with remorse in their hearts at the words of Peter, and who said to the apostles: “Brethren, what shall we do?” as we read in the Acts (2:37).

        2. Hi Al,

          In keeping with the ancient testimony of the fathers, including Athanasius, Origen, Melito of Sardis, Jerome, and the Council of Laodicea – to say nothing of the pre-Christian Jewish canon – I do not accept Sirach as Scripture.

          More, the Scripture cannot be broken; whatever Sirach says, it doesn’t subtract from any of the arguments I’ve made or passages I’ve presented. I’ll be happy to engage on those arguments, if you’d like to talk about them.

          1. Irked, in Catholic theology, while he had his opinion, Jerome was overruled by the Church, which reigns supreme per Matt 16:18 over any individual judgement. Joe’s blog posted an interesting account of Jerome’s dissension which might call into question his use by Protestants as an apologetic ‘garrison’ so to speak, in Catholic territory.

            http://shamelesspopery.com/does-saint-jerome-endorse-the-protestant-canon/

            As well, both Jerome and I believe Origen, wrote impassioned apologias on Mary’s perpetual virginity, i.e., her Immaculate Conception…

          2. Irked,at 9:58 pm: “…the Scripture cannot be broken;” So you agree that OT scripture used at the time of Jesus and quoted by Him ought not be torn and discarded since Christianity accepted it for 1500 years?

            http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/11/sirach-about-a-biblical-book-rejected-by-the-reformation/:

            “Ecclesiasticus/Sirach is found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (three copies to be exact). It is also included in the Greek Septuagint, the Old Latin manuscripts, and the Latin Vulgate. The Catholic Church and Churches of the East receive the book as inspired, inerrant, and canonical. Sirach is also included in our oldest biblical manuscripts: Codex Vaticanus (ca. A.D. 350), Codex Sinaiticus (A.D. 360), and Codex Alexandrinus (ca. A.D. 400). In other words, the early Church in both the East and West revered this book and read it in Church…not to mention Jews before the Incarnation of Christ.

            “There are a number of references to the book of Sirach in the New Testament. James 1:19 seems to quote  Sirach 5:11. The Blessed Virgin Mary alludes to Sirach 10:14 in Luke 1:52.

            “There are four well known quotes from Christ that relate to Sirach. Most well known is Christ’s statement in Matthew 7:16-20 which draws from Sirach 27:6. Also Matthew 6:12, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” mirrors Sirach 28:2 “Forgive your neighbor a wrong, and then, when you petition, your sins will be pardoned.” Mark 4:5,16-17 also resembles Sirach 40:15.

            “Moreover, Patristic scholar Henry Chadwick claimed that in Matthew 11:28 Jesus directly quoted Sirach 51:27.”

          3. Hi AK,

            Can I needle you a little bit here? Because I’m often told that the thing that makes Protestantism so sketchy is that it’s a relatively recent set of changes, whereas the Catholic Church is passing down the ancient and historical faith universal among the earliest fathers.

            So, for instance, awlms, in Joe’s post “Are some people’s prayers more valuable than others?”:

            And, remember Matthew, that we are fundamentally an ‘APOSTOLIC’ Church, as defined by the Nicaean Council I. That is, we rely not only on ‘scripture’, but MORE SO the WITNESS OF THE EARLY CHURCH ITESLF

            Or Matthewp, to me, in the post “Christianity: A bargain that will cost you everything”:

            Sufficient to say, your position is not that of the Early Church Fathers and didn’t exist until the 16th century.

            I could grab others, but I think you get the idea. It seems like the shoe is a bit on the other foot here, where the earliest testimonies of the church deny the canonicity of Sirach. Can’t I return exactly those criticisms?

            (But I also think we have quite a bit to talk about already, so I might bow out of this sub-thread with that.)

          4. “…where the earliest testimonies of the church deny the canonicity of Sirach.”

            A lot didn’t!

            Can’t I return exactly those criticisms?”

            Of course there was indecision and difference of opinion (and the degrees of ‘difference’ were debatable, as we have seen, and not necessarily of use in countering Catholic apologetics)! That’s why there were Councils, to resolve the many differences, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

            Some differed….the Church resolved, decided and codified. Which Catholics accept. Now I’ll really shut up – and your needling BTW is always welcome 😉

          5. Irked,
            Jerome did accept Sirach as Scripture. He merely distinguished non-canonical Scripture from canonical Scripture, placing Sirach in the non-canonical category of “Scripture.” Nevertheless he quoted from Sirach to prove his points, and he encouraged its reading as did the Church.

            http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/deut.html#St. Jerome, [347-419/420 A.D]

          6. Hi Margo,

            “Scripture” as Jerome used the word means literally “the writings”; as a non-Latin-speaker, I use the word somewhat more specifically. If it would resolve the matter for me to have said “the canonical Scriptures,” then let me substitute that claim.

            So you agree that OT scripture used at the time of Jesus and quoted by Him ought not be torn and discarded since Christianity accepted it for 1500 years?

            Yes. And we have the Jewish canon, the Tanakh; it doesn’t include Sirach, as Jerome himself argued in his Prologue to the Book of the Kings. A book can be valuable, and even quote-worthy, without also being the breath of God.

          7. The Jews did use Sirach at the time of Christ. It was only after His death (See Wikipedia on Sirach) that they definitively excluded it, possibly to distinguish the two faiths (Christianity accepted it) and to promulgate works authored by prophets only.

            Also from Called to Communion (citation above):

            Jewish Talmud considers Sirach as part of Hagiographa:

            Raba [again] said to Rabbah b. Mari: whence can be derived the popular saying, ‘A bad palm will usually make its way to a grove of barren trees’? – He replied: This matter was written in the Pentateuch, repeated in the Prophets, mentioned a third time in the Hagiographa, and also learnt in a Mishnah and taught in a baraitha: It is stated in the Pentateuch as written, So Esau went unto Ishmael [Genesis 28:9], repeated in the prophets, as written, And there gathered themselves to Jephthah idle men and they went out with him [Judges 11:3], mentioned a third time in the Hagiographa, as written: Every fowl dwells near its kind and man near his equal [Sirach 13:15];

            Babylonian Talmud, Seder Nazikin, Baba Kamma 92b
            Translated by E.W. Kirzner, Soncino Press (1961)

            …..And R Aha b. Jacob said: There is still another Heaven above the heads of the living creatures, for it is written: And over the heads of the living creature there was a likeness of a firmament, like the colour of the terrible ice, stretched forth over their heads above [Ezekiel 1:22]. Thus far you have permission to speak, thenceforward you have not permission to speak, for so it is written in the Book of Ben Sira: Seek not things that are too hard for thee, and search not out things that are hidden from thee. The things that have been permitted thee, think thereupon; thou hast no business with the things that are secret [Sirach 3:21-22]

            Babylonian Talmud, Seder Mo’ed, Hagigah 13a,
            Translated by Israel Abrahams, Soncino Press (1961)

          8. Hi Margo,

            The Jews did use Sirach at the time of Christ. It was only after His death (See Wikipedia on Sirach)

            Sure, but we aren’t debating whether they used Sirach; I don’t contest that. We aren’t debating whether it was quoted, or treated with respect. We’re discussing whether the Jews generally considered it part of their Scriptural canon – which they didn’t, as both Wikipedia and Jerome plainly say.

      3. Irked – good morning.

        May your little guy be blessed his whole life with good health.

        Early at work this Am and have a few minutes. Free will – Merriam Webster has this to say:

        1. voluntary choice or decision ·I do this of my own free will

        2 :freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention

        Not determined is the key – signs, wonders, reason, grace – they act in concert to **convince, not coerce** errant humanity.

        OK…now for my inevitable bout of proof-texting in support of free will:

        Deuteronomy 30:19 gives us a choice: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both you and your seed may live”.

        Rev 2: 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

        Acts 7: 51 Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

        Rev 3:20 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

        There’s more, but you get the idea. Look, I understand well how the concept of an all-knowing Creator, who had you and your predilections in mind before the start of time, can seemingly conflict with the concept of free will, and lead one to believe everything is predestined. I as a Catholic don’t see any conflict between God’s foreknowledge of the natures of his individual creations, and His plan, and the ability of humanity individually to choose salvation or not. That is supported both by Scripture and the Church and by the concept of a loving God who loves and wants all His children with him for eternity – and gives them an equal shot. As a firm believer in God’s mercy, I trust in Him to take care of those, as in your example, who have not heard His message.

        I realize your mileage varies….one place we agree is your statement about the Cross “I’m glad he did….”

        1. Hi Matthew,

          Thank you – God grant he is.

          So to your definition: I want to be clear that we’re not talking about coercion in any of our views. God doesn’t put a gun to your head, in Calvinism; God brings your heart back to life.

          Can you see where I’d argue that definition (1) is completely compatible with what I’m saying? I don’t deny that you make the decision, acting in accordance with what you most want. If that’s all we want, then sure, we have free will, and also our actions are determined.

          I think that’s also my reply to your verses. I agree, God gives man a choice! But none of these verses say that those choices are not determined. As I said above, there’s a difference between saying we do not choose, and saying we do not choose freely.

          But to (2)… again, what does that mean, to you? I don’t know if this is an area you’ve studied at all, but (say) the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy presents a number of models for what free will is and means in rather more detail than Webster’s does – that might help clarify matters.

          Again, let’s go to Peter’s denial. Peter knows he’s forecast to deny Christ in a specific time window. If Peter does not deny, Christ is a liar. What does it mean to you to say that Peter’s action here is not determined? How would things have been different if Peter’s action had been determined – or, rather, how were they different because he wasn’t?

          Look, I understand well how the concept of an all-knowing Creator, who had you and your predilections in mind before the start of time, can seemingly conflict with the concept of free will, and lead one to believe everything is predestined.

          So I think that slightly misunderstands my argument; that’s closer to the Molinist “middle knowledge” that Al is talking about down below. I’m not actually arguing from foreknowledge; I’m arguing from explicit statements of determination: they would not, because they could not, because God blinded them. No one comes unless the Father draws him: the Father’s action in drawing is the requirement for coming, not the acknowledgement. Those he foreknew, he predestined: he actively set their destiny. Before the twins were born, or had done anything good or bad, God chose Jacob over Esau: not by works, but by Him who chooses.

          These aren’t passive statements; they all portray God as taking an active role in deciding who he wants for his kingdom, for reasons of his own.

          1. Irked – Catholics and Protestants have been side-by-side in this country since it was discovered, not always on the best of terms. Anything that can foster understanding (if not assent) is OK by me. Having said….here’ my final two cents on this one, you may have the last word.

            “No one comes unless the Father draws him: the Father’s action in drawing is the requirement for coming, not the acknowledgement.”

            This is another of those places where we’ll sorta disagree. Catholics believe that you have it backwards – that one must actively accept God’s grace and will through the “convincers” of reason, or revelation, or some combination before the Father opens the door.

            When hearts are hardened, it’s not God who is hardening the heart…it is the man, from whom God then removes His grace, and sends it where it can better be used. Consider (though I know you will find the source questionable, it pretty well explains Catholic thinking on the subject of free will and acceptance or rejection of God’s offerings:

            “As to why some people are hardened, I answer: Pharaoh’s hardness of heart was his own fault, not mine, because he did not want to conform himself to my divine will. Hardness of heart is nothing other than the withdrawal of My divine grace, which is withdrawn when people do not give Me, their God, their free possession, namely, their will.”
            – Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden (Book 5, Interrogation 13)

          2. Hi AK,

            I would say only that the plain testimony of Scripture contradicts these teachings. The bit of mine that you say I have backwards is (in part) quoting from Christ in John 6; Christ plainly and repeatedly says that the Father’s action must come first, and that without that action no one accepts God. Absent another way to read his teaching, I have to reject the Catholic position.

            Likewise, whatever Bridget reported, Paul says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart – and that God’s action in choosing is independent of what people will do. I have to yield to that teaching.

          3. Not to be ignored in the conversation is the both the ‘God is Good’ and ‘God is Love’. And Bishop Robert Barron comments on God as Love like this: “For Catholic theology, love is not something that God does or one attribute among many that God happens to have. Rather, love is what God is. To will the good of the other as other is the very nature, substance, and essence of God. Accordingly, God doesn’t love some and hate others; he doesn’t fall in and out of emotional states, sometimes loving and sometimes hating.”

            And, a further comment on God as Love…is given from the Orthodox Church of America website (which Craig might appreciate):

            “According to the saints, the “fire” that will consume sinners at the coming of the Kingdom of God is the same “fire” that will shine with splendor in the saints. It is the “fire” of God’s love; the “fire” of God Himself who is Love. “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12.29) who “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Tim 6.16). For those who love God and who love all creation in Him, the “consuming fire” of God will be radiant bliss and unspeakable delight. For those who do not love God, and who do not love at all, this same “consuming fire” will be the cause of their “weeping” and their “gnashing of teeth.”

            Thus it is the Church’s spiritual teaching that God does not punish man by some material fire or physical torment. God simply reveals Himself in the risen Lord Jesus in such a glorious way that no man can fail to behold His glory. It is the presence of God’s splendid glory and love that is the scourge of those who reject its radiant power and light.

            . . .” those who find themselves in hell will be chastised by the scourge of love. How cruel and bitter this torment of love will be! For those who understand that they have sinned against love, undergo no greater suffering than those produced by the most fearful tortures. The sorrow which takes hold of the heart, which has sinned against love, is more piercing than any other pain. It is not right to say that the sinners in hell are deprived of the love of God . . . But love acts in two ways, as suffering of the reproved, and as joy in the blessed! (Saint Isaac of Syria, Mystic Treatises).”

            **************************

          4. typo correction: The first sentence, above, should read: “Not to be ignored in the conversation is that, both, ‘God is Good’ and ‘God is Love’

          5. Irked,
            It could be that God hardened Pharoah’s heart because Pharoah wished it to be so. Or Pharoah was ignorant of God’s grace. Scripture teaches that God’s grace is available to all once they have heard or have knowledge of Him. This is the drawing or the grace of the Father which is available to all. Unless some ignorance bars or some choice bars the fulfillment or receipt of grace, one’s heart will be hard. Some people are hard because they are ignorant. Others choose to be so.

          6. Hi Margo,

            My argument is still that this is not the world as Scripture describes it. Romans 9 says that God raised up Pharaoh so He could destroy him as an example to the people – that He has mercy on whom He wants, that He hardens whom He wants, and that this choice does not depend on human action or desire. John 6 says that God calls only and exactly those he saves.

            I’m open to engaging arguments on those passages, but until then, I have to just keep on pointing back to them; I only really see one way to read these verses.

  9. Irked said: “it is not possible that Peter chooses to do anything other than deny Christ three times. His will is not, in any meaningful sense, free.”

    Jesus Christ was making a prophesy regarding Peter in the scripture you cite. In what way does the prophesy of Christ deny the free will of Peter? Are you insinuating that the nature of true prophesy is a proof against mankind’s free will? It’s an incredible concept.

    1. Since I’ve been long-winded already: I don’t think there’s any profit in arguing over “free will” without defining the term first. There are simply too many competing definitions – many of which, yes, are absolutely incompatible with guaranteed prophecy.

      1. One of the benefits of being Catholic is that we ‘crowd source’ our theology and then it is approved by the hierarchy and Vatican after due reflection (sometimes taking centuries). It is very difficult, if not impossible, for every Christian to be his own theologian, and needing to independently understand and verify every difficult concept both in sacred scripture, and in Christian theology as a whole. The debates between the Molinists and the Dominicans on ‘free will’ is an example of such theological ‘crowd sourcing’. And, what results in all of tis study and debate for the regular Catholic? : The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Catholic Encyclopedia. However, if any theologian has a better idea, they can submit the idea to the Vatican’s ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’. Therein, they might even change both catechism and encyclopedia if their doctrines make sense.

        Best to you.

      2. Irked – a brief interlude at work.

        The free will thing definition has been bugging me. I did provide a definition, a perfectly good one, Merriam Webster….to say, no, you need to go to a philosophical dictionary for obscure competing definitions (that might fit Calvinism’s predestination paradigm) is, to me, smacks of moving the goalposts. However, out of respect for your thoughts and research, I checked out the Stanford…here’s what I found on Frankfurt whom you referenced as a positive support of Calvinism (link – https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/ ) :

        “Harry Frankfurt (1982) presents an insightful and original way of thinking about free will. He suggests that a central difference between human and merely animal activity is our capacity to reflect on our desires and beliefs and form desires and judgments concerning them.”

        OK…so far, I have no issue with this – we reflect on our desires and make choices. Then…:

        “….a first-order desire may be much more reflective of my true self (more “internal to me,” in Frankfurt’s terminology) than a weak, faint desire to be the sort of person who wills differently.”

        In this case, the flesh is the first-order desire, the second being, ‘I sure do wish I could be a better Christian…’ If one makes the choice to be a good Christian does it require an overwhelming, “flesh-cancelling” infusion of grace that precludes free choice? I would imagine, that you would say yes….OK, then:

        “Furthermore, we can again imagine external manipulation consistent with Frankfurt’s account of freedom but inconsistent with freedom itself. Armed with the wireless neurophysiology-tampering technology of the late 21st century (replace technology with infusion of irresistible grace here – AK) , one might discreetly induce a second-order desire in me to be moved by a first-order desire—a higher-order desire with which I am satisfied—and then let me deliberate as normal. Clearly, this desire should be deemed “external” to me, and the action that flows from it unfree.”

        So, given the last line, due to “external manipulation,” the choices we make regarding God are “unfree.” Thus, Christians are basically programmed by God – Christian automatons, if you will – and have no choice in the matter of their own salvation. Which I believe from all the preceding discussions, is a basic tenet of Calvinism.

        Irked, you said you believed we are responsible for our moral choices. If we are “totally depraved” until infused with ‘irresistible grace” – essentially, unable to be anything but bad until programmed, Frankfurt-like, to be good – how can any choice we make be held either in favor of or against us, or the concept of morality – essentially, an ethical choice – be applied to anything done by humans?

        What I finally would ask is which definition of “free will” is know, understood, and accepted by most who call themselves Christian? Court of public opinion? The Frankfurtian, or the Merriam-Webster repeated as follows:

        1 :voluntary choice or decision ·I do this of my own free will

        2 :freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention

        I wanted to put this free will thing to bed from my point of view, because it is at least relevant to the thread topic.

        The off-topic of the Jewish Canon and Sirach and how Catholicism chose to include the Deuterocanonicals in the Catholic Canon is another story. Suffice to say, given even the Wiki everyone quotes here acknowledges the fact a single, definable Jewish canon is really undocumented until the second century, it is far more plausible that the Luther banished the Deuterocanonicals to an “Apocrypha” index because, like the epistle of James (and Revelations, how about that), they said things that conflicted with his theology. IMHO…other mileage varies….

        1. Hi AK,

          A verrrrrrrrry merry 500th anniversary of the Reformation to you! (And to everyone else, too!)

          The free will thing definition has been bugging me. I did provide a definition, a perfectly good one, Merriam Webster….to say, no, you need to go to a philosophical dictionary for obscure competing definitions (that might fit Calvinism’s predestination paradigm) is, to me, smacks of moving the goalposts.

          So that’s definitely not my intent. If you look back at my earlier posts, I tried to be clear from the beginning on what I was looking for: that we need to describe meaningfully what free will does that meaningfully distinguishes a human with it from one without.

          (I will add that the SEP is by no means a Calvinist, or even a Christian, site – but it is a really good one for better understanding philosophical terminology.)

          But “theories of free will” is kind of a hobby of mine, so let me back off on that particular thread a little bit. Let’s try to just run with your definition: “freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention.”

          If I can, let me instead offer a question, then, and maybe that will help us understand each other on this point. Christ says in John 6:65 that no one can come to him unless the Father draws (or enables) them. It is literally impossible for them to make the choice for him, absent divine action. I would argue that, under the definition you give, anyone not so enabled by the Father does not have free will: their choice for or against God is determined by prior causes (in this case, their sin nature). Would you agree that at least the natural man does not have free will, according to this passage?

          Irked, you said you believed we are responsible for our moral choices. If we are “totally depraved” until infused with ‘irresistible grace” – essentially, unable to be anything but bad until programmed, Frankfurt-like, to be good – how can any choice we make be held either in favor of or against us, or the concept of morality – essentially, an ethical choice – be applied to anything done by humans?

          That’s exactly the question Paul raises in Romans 9: “One of you will say to me: ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?'” He’s talking about precisely the scenario you raise: if we only do good because God changes our hearts, and we continue to do evil because God doesn’t change our hearts, then how can our actions be held against us?

          But Paul’s answer is emphatic: “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” That’s the only answer I have to give: we do not have moral standing to question God’s judgment on this matter. He has the right to “have compassion on whom I will have compassion,” and to leave the rest of us to our richly-deserved fate.

          What I finally would ask is which definition of “free will” is know, understood, and accepted by most who call themselves Christian? Court of public opinion?

          I think most Christians don’t have any clear idea at all in their heads of what they mean when they use the term; among those who do, answers vary enormously – just look at the Wikipedia page and consider the range between compatibilists, incompatibilists, and semi-compatibilists. Even among Catholics, you have disagreement on the subject between Molinists (like Al, I presume?) and Thomists like Matthewp.

          But I think our understanding of our wills, as of everything else, needs to begin with Scripture – and here I think the passages I’ve cited are about as clear as they can be.

          it is far more plausible that the Luther banished the Deuterocanonicals to an “Apocrypha” index because, like the epistle of James (and Revelations, how about that), they said things that conflicted with his theology. IMHO…other mileage varies….

          Even if we accept that hypothesis, I don’t think it explains why Athanasius’s Festal Letter – the earliest canon listing we have! – plainly states that Sirach is respected but not canonical. Nor does it account for Origen, or Melito, or Laodicea, or Jerome.

          1. Irked,
            “plainly states that Sirach is respected but not canonical” = I don’t believe that “plainly” correctly applies here. Athanasius writes: ‘There are other books besides these, indeed not received as canonical but having been appointed by our fathers to be read to those just approaching and wishing to be instructed in the word of godliness: Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being merely read”. Therefore, there is room, in the sentence “But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being merely read”, to consider the former books (from Salomon to Ester) as Canonical, and the latter (from Judith to the Shepherd) merely as respected. In other words, based on the “former-latter” distinction, in Syrach is not considered Canonical, neither should be the book of Esther.

          2. LLC,

            I don’t believe that “plainly” correctly applies here.

            I don’t really see how anyone could be plainer than to say, “Here’s a list of the canonical books. Now, for completeness, here’s a list of non-canonical books. The former are canonical, the latter are not.”

            Which is precisely what Athanasius says, including his explicit statement which you quote that this is his non-canonical list. You omit the canon list which precedes it.

            There’s not a lot of ambiguity in this passage.

          3. Irked,
            “Which is precisely what Athanasius says, including his explicit statement which you quote that this is his non-canonical list. You omit the canon list which precedes it” = so, you assume that the “former-latter” distinction is between the books listed prior to these and “Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd”? Still, if this is the case, Esther is not considered Canonical, correct?

          4. LLC,

            I assume that the split is between the books that he precedes by saying, “These are canonical,” and the books he precedes by saying, “These are not canonical,” yes. I’m not sure “assume” is the right word there.

            I don’t agree with Athanasius’s list perfectly, sure. But then, I don’t claim special authority by virtue of an unbroken line of tradition stemming from the consent of the earliest fathers.

          5. Irked,
            “I assume that the split is between the books that he precedes by saying, “These are canonical,” and the books he precedes by saying, “These are not canonical,” yes” = in this case, is it safe to say that you think that Athanasius didn’t consider Esther to be part of the Canon, correct? Note, I say Athanasius, not you.

          6. Irked – it is I who should be wishing you and the other Protestant guests here, a solemn and happy 500th. While we may disagree on much involving the Reformation, we have the love of Christ in common.

            Not that free will isn’t a proper subject for philosophical inquiry, even into the realm of the obscure and arcane, but I feel if such delvings were applicable to the lives of most mill-run Christians (or anyone concerned with the basic subject), they would be covered in standard references like Merriam Webster. I give most Christians more credit – and I think if you placed before them both definitions, Frankfurt and M-W, what do you think most of them would pick? I opt for the Matt 11:25 solution here. IMHO, anything else is overcomplicating and a solution in search of a problem. Of course, you could say I am ignoring valid philosophical questions and complexities in favor of my own theology, but I could as easily say you are digging deep into a philosophical cornucopia to see just which cherry fits into the tulip….maybe we should just agree to disagree…. 😉

            As an aside, Molinism and Thomism differ on the means and circumstances in which God manipulates grace to bring humanity salvation, but both hold essentially to the M-W paradigm of free will and choice in salvation. Neither espouse Calvinistic hard predestination or irresistible grace.

            The Romans 9 quote to which you refer could easily be interpreted as ‘works of law of the old Covenant’ – 9:30 makes the distinction between righteous Gentiles who had faith and lost Israelites who clung to the old Law. And a rejoinder in Romans 2: 2-8 which talks about ‘hard and impenitent hearts’s *as if they were a choice,* and rendering to each man *according to his works* which clearly has no relation to Old Covenant law. I feel Romans 9 is more in the line of God’s talk with Job 38-41, where God sets Job straight on the fact He has a plan, though Job may not understand it through his suffering. And Romans 10: 3 talks of those who “did not submit to God’s righteousness,” and “sought to establish their own.” When (presumably) Jesus schooled Paul for those 3 years after Damascus, did He leave out the fact that no one can defy God’s irresistible righteousness, in favor of their own?

            Gettin’ late…if things are slow tomorrow I’ll look for you here…..have a good night and hope your little guy sleeps through the night.

          7. Hi AK,

            As an aside, Molinism and Thomism differ on the means and circumstances in which God manipulates grace to bring humanity salvation, but both hold essentially to the M-W paradigm of free will and choice in salvation. Neither espouse Calvinistic hard predestination or irresistible grace.

            The Mirriam-Webster definition is deliberately over-broad, though; there’s an enormous family of things under it. If you’d rather avoid the SEP, look at the Wikipedia page on free will – there are about a dozen different positions there that would fit the dictionary definition, and yet are all mutually incompatible. That neither Thomists nor Molinists are Calvinists doesn’t change that they are talking about different things when they say “free will.” (That’s exactly why I was trying to get a more specific definition.)

            This is a conversation I get to have fairly often, so when I say I don’t think most Christians have really thought about defining free will, I’m saying that from experience, and not just as slander. (Or, well, libel.) I will agree that I think that takes us off on a different tangent, though.

            The Romans 9 quote to which you refer could easily be interpreted as ‘works of law of the old Covenant’ – 9:30 makes the distinction between righteous Gentiles who had faith and lost Israelites who clung to the old Law.

            I’m afraid I’m not following your line of argument here. Can you explain what you understand Paul to say in, say, verses 10-24?

            Because I think it’s a pretty straightforward argument: God chose Jacob over Esau, not because Jacob did something better than Esau, but because God wanted to (10-13). He will choose whom he will choose, and he needs no further reasons beside his own (14-15), and his reasons are explicitly not “because of something a human did or felt” (16). Indeed, both mercy and hardness are from the Lord (17-18).

            That may sound unfair; if God decides to whom he will show mercy, how can he judge people to whom he doesn’t show mercy? They can’t resist their natural tendencies, absent his grace, can they (19)? But you don’t have the right to talk back to God. If he wants to remake your heart for salvation, or he wants to leave you in your damnation, that’s his choice (20-21). Maybe God has created people for the purpose of damnation, so that by doing so he might show both his power and his mercy (22-24).

            I don’t understand how “works of law of the old covenant” fits into this exegesis.

            And a rejoinder in Romans 2: 2-8 which talks about ‘hard and impenitent hearts’s *as if they were a choice,*

            I believe they are a choice. They just aren’t a free choice. Every human must necessarily choose to be impenitent, barring a specific miracle.

            I feel Romans 9 is more in the line of God’s talk with Job 38-41, where God sets Job straight on the fact He has a plan, though Job may not understand it through his suffering.

            Yes, that’s absolutely true! And like Job, we have no right to question God’s judgments as part of that plan.

            When (presumably) Jesus schooled Paul for those 3 years after Damascus, did He leave out the fact that no one can defy God’s irresistible righteousness, in favor of their own?

            Whoa, you’re switching words there. We defy God’s righteousness all the time: that’s sin. It’s his salvific grace that’s irresistible.

            I’m still curious about my question re: John 6, time permitting.

  10. Here is what the Jesuit ‘Molinist school of thought’ teaches on the subject of God’s omniscience and omnipotence and its relation to prophesy and human free-will…for those interested:

    “According to them, the relation of the Divine action to man’s will should be conceived rather as of a concurrent than of a premotive character; and they maintain that God’s knowledge of what a free being would choose, if the necessary conditions were supplied, must be deemed logically prior to any decree of concurrence or premotion in respect to that act of choice. Briefly, they make a threefold distinction in God’s knowledge of the universe based on the nature of the objects known–the Divine knowledge being in itself of course absolutely simple. Objects or events viewed merely as possible, God is said to apprehend by simple intelligence (simplex intelligentia). Events which will happen He knows by vision (scientia visionis). Intermediate between these are conditionally future events–things which would occur were certain conditions fulfilled. God’s knowledge of this class of contingencies they term scientia media. For instance Christ affirmed that, if certain miracles had been wrought in Tyre and Sidon, the inhabitants would have been converted. The condition was not realized, yet the statement of Christ must have been true. About all such conditional contingencies propositions may be framed which are either true or false–and Infinite Intelligence must know all truth. The conditions in many cases will not be realized, so God must know them apart from any decrees determining their realization. He knows them therefore, this school holds, in seipsis, in themselves as conditionally future events. This knowledge is the scientia media, “middle knowledge”, intermediate between vision of the actual future and simple understanding of the merely possible. Acting now in the light of this scientia media with respect to human volitions, God freely decides according to His own wisdom whether He shall supply the requisite conditions, including His co-operation in the action, or abstain from so doing, and thus render possible or prevent the realization of the event. In other words, the infinite intelligence of God sees clearly what would happen in any conceivable circumstances. He thus knows what the free will of any creature would choose, if supplied with the power of volition or choice and placed in any given circumstances. He now decrees to supply the needed conditions, including His corcursus, or to abstain from so doing. He thus holds complete dominion and control over our future free actions, as well as over those of a necessary character. The Molinist then claims to safeguard better man’s freedom by substituting for the decree of an inflexible premotion one of concurrence dependent on God’s prior knowledge of what the free being would choose. If given the power to exert the choice. He argues that he exempts God more clearly from all responsibility for man’s sins. The claim seems to the present writer well founded; at the same time it is only fair to record on the other side that the Thomist urges with considerable force that God’s prescience is not so understandable in this, as in his theory. He maintains, too, that God’s exercise of His absolute dominion over all man’s acts and man’s entire dependence on God’s goodwill are more impressively and more worthily exhibited in the premotion hypothesis. The reader will find an exhaustive treatment of the question in any of the Scholastic textbooks on the subject.”

    Citation (Catholic Encyclopedia):

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06259a.htm

  11. If I grant that abortion=murder, rather than some lesser crime, isn’t it appropriate to prosecute the pregnant woman who seeks and receives abortion as an accessory??

  12. It is asked: why do these comment discussions continue when practically all parties involved are pretty much set in their ways? We will always disagree and that is about the only thing that Catholics and non-Catholics can agree on.

    Dialogue is not possible because let’s be real — most non-Catholics are not going to give any credence to the Catholic position (in the eyes of the more vocal ones we are unsaved pagans, or kaffir, or *insert derogatory secular epithet of choice here*), and the Catholics here are not going to suddenly do an about face and accept any of the various non-Catholic positions. The heated discussions serve no point because neither side is going to move despite either side’s arguments. A quest of futility then.

    1. I can only answer for myself, but: because I learn to better understand both my own positions, and those of my interlocutors, by so doing.

      It’s also, I hope, formed some friendships – or whatever the right word for our weird web-era “Never actually met you, but respect the way you talk” thing is.

  13. Good evening Irked!

    OK….here’s my back-at…..I feel like I am writing term papers again….63 is too-damn-old for that…if I weren’t having fun, that is.

    “The Mirriam-Webster definition is deliberately over-broad,”

    I would disagree with that. I think the M-W definition was written with a great deal of forethought and process as regards common usage. I have reviewed their website and found their methodology wholly acceptable to me – again, your mileage may vary (YMMV). Here’s the link:

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/help/faq-words-into-dictionary

    Granted, some philosophers have much to say that can affect the mainstream, eventually. Some will not. My two cents here is that Jesus, while ‘hanging’ with some of the uppercrust on occasion – IMHCO to cause them to think in a way that might bring them down a notch or two to His message – His Apostles and disciples were drawn largely from the hoi polloi. Which is why I believe the most verifiably common usage of this term of theological import, is the correct one in this case. So I suspect here we’ll agree to disagree, you to Frankfurt and me to M-W.

    BTW…the Thomists and Molinists agreed on the main point here, that there is free will per the M-W definition. All else is commentary, IMHCO.

    “The Romans 9 quote to which you refer could easily be interpreted as ‘works of law of the old Covenant’ – 9:30 makes the distinction between righteous Gentiles who had faith and lost Israelites who clung to the old Law. (AK quote)”

    “I’m afraid I’m not following your line of argument here. Can you explain what you understand Paul to say in, say, verses 10-24?”

    “I don’t understand how “works of law of the old covenant” fits into this exegesis.”

    Gladly – two birds here. When Paul, in Romans 9, refers to ‘works of the Law” the Greek ‘ergon nomou’ is used, which means Mosaic Law. Paul is simply telling those who will listen that with Christ’s sacrifice and the New Covenant, Mosaic Law no longer applies, something borne out by the conclusion of the Jerusalem Conference in Acts. In short, Paul is introducing the Romans to the New Covenant and emphasizing the #1 aspect of that covenant, faith in Christ. Here, Paul is trying to acquaint the listeners with the concept, that faith in Christ is necessary for their salvation rather than adherence to the old Covenant. This is in contrast to Romans 2:20 and James 2:24 use of the word ‘works’ …the Greek here is ergois agathois” basically meaning ‘ work that in itself is good or noble. Since the Scriptures cannot contradict themselves, and the Greek here in both cases is clear, the correct interpretation is that one must follow the new Covenant, and that one can influence ones salvation both by faith first, then by ones actions – good works. In other words, back to the original point – one has a free will to choose both to believe and to do what is necessary for salvation.

    “Because I think it’s a pretty straightforward argument: God chose Jacob over Esau, not because Jacob did something better than Esau, but because God wanted to (10-13). He will choose whom he will choose, and he needs no further reasons beside his own (14-15), and his reasons are explicitly not “because of something a human did or felt” (16). Indeed, both mercy and hardness are from the Lord (17-18).”
    I’ll differ here. God chose Jacob because Jacob valued the birthright gift – Esau did not, offering to sell it for a bowl of soup, for God’s sake. Jacob and Rebekah lied to get the birthright gift and were punished with lifelong separation for it. God takes the recalcitrant and uses them for His purposes, as is His right, but it’s not without cost, because God is just as well as merciful. Not unfair at all…and on that we agree, albeit for different reasons.

    “Maybe God has created people for the purpose of damnation, so that by doing so he might show both his power and his mercy (22-24).”

    That doesn’t sound like the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount. IMHCO.

    “I believe they are a choice. They just aren’t a free choice. Every human must necessarily choose to be impenitent, barring a specific miracle.”

    Here’s a thought experiment…reference Matt 5:22.

    “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

    OK……if we were creatures without a free choice, marked for salvation only by God’s will and not by our own, what’s going on here? Jesus is telling people to control themselves or be liable for punishment. If He meant ”anyone who says ‘you fool’ probably is not one of the Elect” why would he have not said precisely that? What He said was ‘anyone who is angry is subject to judgment.” That makes judgment conditional – on the person’s attitude, which is a subset of the will, which Jesus is seeking to influence by a dire threat. If the will didn’t matter….why would Jesus bother trying to influence anyone’s will? He’s here not asking for ‘faith alone,’ but a **willed** change in attitude.

    “I feel Romans 9 is more in the line of God’s talk with Job 38-41, where God sets Job straight on the fact He has a plan, though Job may not understand it through his suffering. (AK quote)”

    “Yes, that’s absolutely true! And like Job, we have no right to question God’s judgments as part of that plan.”

    And I believe what Romans 9 was saying, was, again like Job, that the hardships visited on us in this life are part of God’s plan. Nothing more, and IMHO certainly not ‘you have no choice in your own salvation’ just ‘you have no choice in what life may bring…accept it, understand that suffering is gift designed to separate you from your fixation on this ephemeral, sinful life and get you to focus on eternity through faith in Christ.’

    “When (presumably) Jesus schooled Paul for those 3 years after Damascus, did He leave out the fact that no one can defy God’s irresistible righteousness, in favor of their own? (AK quote)”

    “Whoa, you’re switching words there. We defy God’s righteousness all the time: that’s sin. It’s his salvific grace that’s irresistible.”

    OK on everything up to …. Grace being irresistible but not free will choice. God does not work that way, IMHCO. YMMV.

    “I’m still curious about my question re: John 6, time permitting.”

    Sure. I am not sure why of necessity one must view views ‘enabling’ as anything other than infused grace that points the person in the right direction to make the right free-will choice, rather then an irresistible infusion? Same for Jn 6:44 and 3:27.

    I agree with your answer to Quaeritur. Have a blessedly quiet night….

    1. Hi AK,

      Granted, some philosophers have much to say that can affect the mainstream, eventually. Some will not. My two cents here is that Jesus, while ‘hanging’ with some of the uppercrust on occasion – IMHCO to cause them to think in a way that might bring them down a notch or two to His message – His Apostles and disciples were drawn largely from the hoi polloi. Which is why I believe the most verifiably common usage of this term of theological import, is the correct one in this case.

      I’m a little bit baffled by this comment, because Jesus – Scripture, for that matter – never uses the phrase “free will” of humans at all. We’re talking about a philosophical construct layered on top of Christ’s words regardless of what meaning we give it.

      BTW…the Thomists and Molinists agreed on the main point here, that there is free will per the M-W definition.

      I mean, I agree that there’s free will per the first M-W definition, and yet I hope I’ve made it clear that my beliefs are rather different from yours here. That’s my point; it’s not useful in distinguishing what really are distinct positions.

      Gladly – two birds here.

      I’m sincerely not trying to be difficult: I do not understand how this explains what Paul says in Romans 9. I don’t see the connection between your argument here and the text of verses 10-24 at all.

      That doesn’t sound like the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount. IMHCO.

      The same Jesus who gave the Sermon on the Mount also said that men couldn’t come to him because the Father wasn’t drawing them, and that the Father had blinded the eyes of the people to prevent them from seeing. Both aspects are him!

      Jesus is telling people to control themselves or be liable for punishment. If He meant ”anyone who says ‘you fool’ probably is not one of the Elect” why would he have not said precisely that?

      Because, even taking Calvinism as truth, that isn’t what the sentence means. The elect sin, in ways that would merit damnation if applied to them, both before and after conversion. We say “you fool” – I imagine you and I are both sometimes tempted to say that in discussions like this one (although hopefully not this specific one!). Your alternate reading simply isn’t true even for a Calvinist.

      Christ’s point is simple: “You self-righteous people, you are far more damned than you think you are. You think you can stand before God because you haven’t committed adultery, because you haven’t killed anyone? I tell you that you are all adulterers and murderers.” This is the passage that ends with him making finally clear what impossible standard the law requires: “Be perfect.” That clarity is part of the means God uses to make clear the absolute necessity of his grace – because no one can choose to fully obey the law.

      (The passage also serves other purposes, such as informing us of what righteousness actually does look like, but neither one reduces to your rephrasing.)

      And I believe what Romans 9 was saying, was, again like Job, that the hardships visited on us in this life are part of God’s plan. Nothing more, and IMHO certainly not ‘you have no choice in your own salvation’

      We know from verse 6 that Paul is discussing who the true Israel is – “being part of the true Israel” is what he’s talking about when he comes to “God’s purpose in election” in verse 11. Are you arguing that being part of the true Israel is only a matter of what hardships we suffer in life, and not of salvation? When Paul says in verse 16 that “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy,” do you read “it” as merely hardship, and not salvation? In verse 19, is Paul discussing God blaming men for… going through hardship, and not for being unrepentant? In verses 22-24, when Paul contrasts the “vessels prepared for destruction” with “us, who he called,” is it merely temporal hardship that distinguishes the two groups, and not our ultimate destinies? Has God called us merely to an easier life? (What then would it mean to say that he is bearing with great patience the former group?)

      As the above probably makes clear, I’m still struggling to understand how you interpret this passage as a whole.

      God does not work that way, IMHCO.

      I think the testimony of Scripture is clear that he does. Certainly he has a right to do so.

      I am not sure why of necessity one must view views ‘enabling’ as anything other than infused grace that points the person in the right direction to make the right free-will choice, rather then an irresistible infusion?

      Well, so my question was specifically: what about those God does not enable – as, for instance, Christ says the grumblers are not enabled? Would you agree that at a minimum those people lack free will – that they are unable to choose God?

      1. Irked – good morning!

        Hey, I think the message here for both of us is, we have developed our own paths of addressing this subject, and both of us have defended our POV with lots of Scriptural and other evidence. A good stopping point, as I feel I have learned a lot – hope you have as well – and I have to address things that have backed up while I engaged in this most enlightening conversation.

        As a final thought, I think everyone who hears the Word is able to make a choice…some minds are more open than others. For instance, someone raised as a 7th-gen Hindu may see Mother Theresa and her sisters of Charity on the street in Calcutta, and find them interesting, but doesn’t feel motivated to ‘check it out’ because he is very comfy in his world. Does that person have free will? Yes. Is that free will constrained by circumstances so that he might not recognize or respond either to the grace or opportunity God sends him? Yes. Is that person condemned to an eternity in hell? That, I will leave to God’s justice and mercy. I have my own thoughts on how God deals with such and similar situations, some from unpleasant and not-for-public discussion personal experience….leave it at that.

        Hope you have a good day…see you on the blog…..

        1. Ah, okay.

          … You mentioned in the other post,

          I have found I can engage, with long, well researched rejoinders, and get a “well, i just don’t understand what you said here…but check out this proof-text that incontrovertibly makes my point.”

          … and it’s a little bit hard not to read that as applying to our conversation. If I’ve given you the sense that I’m not trying to understand your argument, or am just trying to duck your arguments by claiming ignorance, I apologize. I would really love, if time permitted some other day, to go through Romans 9 with you and better understand the case you see Paul building. As it is, I feel like I’d fail the “ideological Turing test”: I couldn’t adequately explain to anyone else how you read these words.

          Life intervenes, as ever – but that did sting a little bit, and I didn’t want to leave our conversation on a sour note.

          Anyway. Best wishes to you and yours.

          1. Irked, at my advanced old age, I am just happy to have an exchange that does not end in recriminating blasts of t-rex breath from Christian to Christian. Understand, my respect for you is more than you know. And if I really didn’t explain my Romans 9 position well enough then *I* apologize and will take a rain check on a future discourse. Not that i think you nor I will ever switch sides, but understanding is a worthy goal.

            The same to you my friend…

  14. Hi– before I start, thank you for being logical in your arguments and taking the time to write serious articles, instead of ranting on social media. Though I would have to differ with you on opinions regarding cases where the life of the mother or both mother and child, are in danger.

    In your argument, you used an example of cannibalism; if two people were stranded and near starvation, it would not be moral to kill one to feed the other, even though this is the scenario that guarantees that more lives are saved. You used this example to support your argument that, likewise, it is not right to kill a baby simply to save the mother, since murder is wrong. However, I’d like to counter by pointing out that in this case, it is the eating, not killing, that makes it immoral. In other words, cannibalism is wrong, not because we are killing, but because we are consuming human flesh– which, of course, is cruel and inhumane and disgusting.

    Let me give another example that I think better fits abortion. Say that we have two patients, both about to die from a serious illness. Patient A needs a liver, while Patient B has a healthy liver. In this instance, it is more logical to sacrifice patient B to save patient A, since otherwise, both would have died. Most people would agree with this statement; however, few would concede to cannibalism. The reason is because cannibalism lumps killing and eating human flesh together, making it more disgusting and cruel, which overshadows abortion (in medical emergencies), which is an act of sacrifice, to ensure less deaths occur.

    Please reply if you are interested in continuing this discussion.
    ~HRE

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