How Should We Solve Disputes on Theology?

What should happen when two Christians, or more typically, two groups of Christians, both earnestly seek to follow Christ faithfully, but are at serious loggerheads about what the faith is?  The 27th Comrade, in his comments on these three posts, raises a number of points against what he thinks is the Catholic stance on issues like justification.  His view of what Catholics believe and the view actually held by Catholics are worlds apart: we don’t try and earn our way to Heaven, for example, but he’s quite sure we must.  But for now, let’s just agree to the basics: the issue of justification is incredibly important (too important to simply agree to disagree), both of us think Scripture supports our view, and this is an issue which needs to be resolved on this side of eternity.  We need to have some clear answer that all Christians can point to.  Here’s how to find that answer:

I. Look Beyond Scripture Alone

There are four major reasons not to base all doctrine off of Scripture alone:

  1. Scripture doesn’t tell us toSola Scriptura is a doctrine, yet it’s not taught by any passage of Scripture.  So it’s self-refuting to claim it, because in teaching a doctrine not taught in Scripture, you condemn yourself by your own standard.
  2. Scripture tells us not to. 2 Thessalonians 2:15, and the other verses I cited yesterday.  See below.
  3. Scriptura alone doesn’t even dictate the canon of Scripture. The canon of Scripture is a doctrine, an incredibly important one, particularly for believers in sola Scriptura, yet no book in Scripture tells us which books are canonical.
  4. The dispute is on the meaning of Scripture.  Augustine’s rightly said: “Heresies arise simply from this, that good Scriptures are ill-understood, and what is ill-understood in them is also rashly and presumptuously given forth.”  So to say, “What does Scripture say on this?” is to ask a circular question: that’s what we’re disagreeing about. If there’s a dispute about the meaning of an amendment to the Constitution, it doesn’t make sense to expect the amendment, alone, to answer the dispute.  We have to determine which interpretation is right.  There are times when Scripture interprets itself (like Matthew 1:23 explaining what Isaiah 7:14 means), but most of the time, we have to look outside Scripture for the interpretation of Scripture.

On #2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15 tells us to hold fast to “the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” T27C claims that this means that Tradition-by-word (what we’ve been calling Tradition, for short) and Tradition-by-epistle (Scripture) are one in the same.  Specifically, he says,

The passage affirms that they are identical (they are referred to as one plural entity: traditions); it is the methods of delivery that vary. This is quite plainly what the passage says: “the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

So the Marine’s Law of War says, “Collect and care for the wounded, whether friend or foe.” Does that mean that since they use one entity (the wounded), that friends and foes are the same?  How is that even a serious argument?  Where does grammar ever work the way T27C claims it does?  And if the Traditions the Apostles had written down were 100% comprehensive, why bother telling them to pay attention to anything else?  Why not just say, “if it’s written down, follow it”?  The reason we don’t see Paul saying something like “hold fast to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or word of mouth” is that it would be redundant and silly.  If word of mouth and letter are 100% the same, as T27C’s claiming, it’d be equally redundant and silly. 

T27C also says,

Note that I have no problem with deciding on one thing or the other by simple, blind, gut faith (it is what I do); but the Roman Catholic Tradition insists that these things must be reasonable.

And not just the Roman Catholic Tradition, but Scripture itself: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  Simply saying, “gut feeling” isn’t an answer, and it certainly isn’t a reason.  Jesus Christ is the Logos, the Divine Logic, so irrational religion is an insult to Him.  At this point, T27C isn’t saying we should go by Scripture alone, but by Scripture and random gut feelings.  In fact, we only listen to those Scriptures which our gut tells us are right: that’s how he says to judge the canon of Scripture.  So his gut is now the highest earthly authority in Christendom, and it judges even Scripture.

But remember, we need an objective standard, so all Christians can live in harmony.  1 Corinthians 1:10 calls us to total doctrinal agreement. We can’t get that if we’re each going by our gut instincts, because our gut instincts (1) disagree, and (2) are warped by our sinful natures. It’s pride to assume you know better than all of Christendom, and that all Christianity must agree with you.  But Scripture says all Christianity should agree with something, so the standard can’t be your (or my) gut.

How were the Christians at Corinth to know what right belief was?  Scripture, certainly, but Scripture alone? No.  We’ve seen from the history of Protestantism how peaceful and unified going by Scripture alone is: there are Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists (Calvinist and non), Anglicans, Quakers, Mennonites, Pentecostals (Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian), Assemblies of God, Amish, Anabaptists (not anymore, but they were sure they were right while they were here), Disciples of Christ, so-called Non-Denominationals, etc.  Beneath these umbrellas, there are massive divisions and schisms: how many feuding Presbyterian bodies did the last two centuries see, even in the US alone?  The tower of Babel saw more unity than Bible-alone Christians, and it’s no exaggeration to say that there are groups of Christians whose interpretation of the Bible is rejected by every Christian outside their individual assembly of a few dozen people.

II. Look to the Visible Church

So what does the Bible say to do?  1 Timothy 3:14-15 points to “God’s household, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”  So the Church, not our gut, is the pillar and foundation of Truth.  T27C says that without the Bible, Protestantism would cease to exist.  I agree, and the early Church didn’t have the Bible.  There’s a gap of a couple decades between the Resurrection and Petecost on the one hand, and Paul’s first letters on the other. John’s Revelation isn’t until about 90, so there were countless people who were born after the Resurrection, and dead before the New Testament was done being written.  Even once the books were written, there were a couple centuries before the Catholic Church declared which ones were Scripture, and it wasn’t until the 16th century(!) that the Protestant Bible was made (by cutting out clearly inspired books like Wisdom, which prophesies the death of Christ, and Tobit, which prophesies the number of angels around the altar of God).  So the only period in which Christianity was unified in the sense called for by 1 Corinthians 1:10 and John 17:20-23 (Christ’s clear prayer on the matter) was an era in which the Church, not the individual’s interpretation of the Scriptures, was the highest authority.

There are two major reasons to favor this approach.  First, it’s what Scripture calls for.  Matthew 18:15-17 says that the Church is the last authority for dealing with a Christian who sins: “if they refuse to listen even to the Church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”  Now, someone who introduces a heresy into Christianity is sinning, and is subject to the Church’s ruling.  Luther, born and raised a Catholic, and a willing member of the Catholic hierarchy, was judged by the Church to have commited the sin of heresy.  He then left the Church, rather than obey Her judgments.  Is there any question that this is sinful?  In Acts 15, which I mentioned before, the question of the Judaizers was placed before the Church. She made the determination, in the name of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28), and didn’t leave it up to the individual believer.  So determining orthodoxy and heresy is clearly part and parcel of the Church’s power and responsibilty.  Paul orders a church ruling against an incestous man in 1 Corinthians 5:4-5, and chastises them for not handing matters to the Church in 1 Cor. 6:1.

The second reason is that the Church is perfect, while the individual members are sinful and fallen.  That’s because the Church is the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12), and the Bride of Christ, “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27).  The Church on Earth, full of both the saved and the damned, is called the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:47-50). In John 14:15-16, Christ promised to send the Advocate to be with the Church forever.  And in v. 26, He promises, “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  In John 16:13, He says, “when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.”  So you and I are individual Christians impacted severely by the Fall, and by our limited understanding.  The Holy Spirit never guides us into all truth, or teaches us all things.  That’s a power left to the Church.

Note also that the Church is eternal: “the gates of Hell will not overcome” (Matthew 16:18), and the Holy Spirit guides Her into all truth forever.  This is why Catholics point to antiquity.  If what you believe today isn’t found at all times in the Church’s history, it raises two possibilities: (1) Christ was wrong, and the Church did fall away from the fullness of the truth; or (2) you’re wrong.  I outline this at some greater length here.  T27C says in response to this idea that “God, through His Holy Spirit, has sustained a remnant of believers in Truth at all times,” so that Luther wasn’t alone in proposing sola fide. But of course, Luther was alone.  It’s historical nonsense to pretend that there were invisible Christians teaching sola fide in the generations prior to Luther.  But Christ also doesn’t promise just a remnant.  He promises in Matthew 13:31-32,

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

So the Church goes from being the smallest Church (with only Christ and a few Apostles, at the Crucifixion), to being the largest.  But besides this, the proto-Protestant “remnant” T27C talks about is made up.  There’s absolutely no historical evidence they ever existed.  And what’s more, if they did exist (which, seriously, they didn’t), they were bad Christians for hiding their light under a bushel, instead of being “a city on a hill” (Matthew 5:14-16).  Even if T27C could find a group he considered a “remnant,” that group’s defining characteristic (cowardly hiding from heresy for centuries) is the characteristic of the damned, not the saved (Rev. 21:8).  More on this can be found at part 1 here, and here and especially here.

So here’s the standard: if you want to know the truth, look at what the Church teaches, and has taught.   Two points here. First, it’s true that nowadays, there’s some confusion about who the Church is.  Fair enough.  If the Holy Spirit guides the Church in all Truth yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we can just as easily look at the Church when there was no dispute about who the Church was, sometime like 200 A.D.   What did the Church teach then? If the Holy Spirit was leading the Church then, whatever the Church said in the third century is the true Faith.  If you take this seriously, and look for the Church, you’ll find out immediately She was Catholic (since this post is more about how  to find the Truth, I won’t get into the specifics of what those conclusions look like).  Second, remember that the Church needs to have the power to declare individuals excommunicated, to make binding declarations about a person’s state of grace because of their sins; and She needs to be able to say that a certain decision seemed good to “the Holy Spirit and us” (Acts 15:28).  Is there any church besides the Catholic Church that even claims to be this Church?

P.S. But Wait… Aren’t Many Catholic Beliefs Post-Apostolic?

Like I said, this post isn’t about outlining the precise contours of the Faith, but showing how that faith may be found.  But there is one serious confusion I wanted to clear up. T27C claims in one of his comments:

But you know yourself that most declarations of the Roman Catholic Church are after the time of the apostles. Some Marian Dogmas—Immaculate Conception, and Assumption—for example. The Co-Redemptrix Dogma is not yet codified, therefore it has not yet been ascended to by any faithful Catholic.

I’ve handled this falsehood before here, but here’s where the misunderstanding lies.  When the Catholic Church says “x is dogma,” She’s defining what’s already believed.  For example, the Council of Nicea dogmatized the Trinity in c. 325 A.D.  That doesn’t mean nobody in 324 believed it: rather, it was always the orthodox view, but confusion had arisen that was misleading the faithful.  The early Christians believed in a set of doctrines we now call the Trinity (namely, that there was One God; that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were that One God; and that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons).  Eventually, these beliefs were challenged: one camp said that only the Father was God, and that the Son and Holy Spirit were subordinate Beings, not fully God, but simply godlike; another camp said that the Father was the Son, simply taking a different form; later, you would get groups claiming the Father and Son are “distinct personages” who are both gods, but not the same God.  All of these heresies relied, in no small part, upon Scripture.  So the task of Nicea was not to propose something new, but to reaffirm the old, and to clarify which (already existing) system of beliefs about the nature of the Godhead was accurate.  So we can honestly say that the truth of the Trinity was taught in an unbroken chain from the time of the Apostles until today (although the word “Trinity” wasn’t used), but that when heresy and confusion arose, it was necessary to clarify and solidify this belief.  Or, if you don’t like that example, look to Scripture: Acts 15 shows the Church simply reaffirming, in the name of the Holy Spirit, what Peter was already teaching in Acts 10-11. 

So T27C’s claim that if a given dogma isn’t formally promulgated, it is therefore not accepted by any faithful Catholic is absolutely false.  Ideally, every Catholic believes a doctrine, and it’s never necessary to define it.  So the Assumption, for example, wasn’t formally promulgated until 1950, but even in doing so, the pope noted that “the bishops of the entire world are almost unanimously petitioning that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven should be defined as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith.”  So it wasn’t as if, in 1949, no Catholic believed in the Assumption, and in 1951, they all did (I used to go to Assumption Parish in Topeka, KS, founded in 1911, so I can say forcefully that this is nonsense history).  There were celebrations of the Feast of the Assumption for centuries, and there’s ancient art depicting it: it’s been celebrated in the East and West, etc., etc.  As strong as the case for the historicity of the Assumption is, the case for the Immaculate Conception is even stronger.  The first time we ever hear the word “Trinity” used is 181 A.D.  The first time we read a Church Father (St. Irenaeus) clearly laying out the Immaculate Conception is 180. 

If you want to argue that a certain belief is a novel heresy, point to the heresiarch!  If this is a novel doctrine, added at some late date, who added it, and when?  Saying, “Well, x pope formally promulgated it” isn’t the same as saying he made it up, and for every example you cite me of a pope promulgating a given Catholic doctrine, I’ll show you a group of earlier Christians who believed it.  The Church adds not an iota of content to the Faith, for the exact reason outlined above: She’s had the “faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 1:3) since the time of the Apostles.

50 Comments

  1. I find it best, but incredibly difficult on a blog, to settle arguments by first figuring out where the two sides agree.
    1. I would be interested to know if T27C would agree with the 1999 Joint Declaration on Justification between Luthern World Federation and the Catholic Church which states: “By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and recieve the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”
    2. then if justification can be agreed on the definition of salvation is not far behind. To me the two parables that always stood in contrast to each other were the disciples who did many good deeds in Matt 7:21, but they are turned away because the Lord does not know them, and the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matt 25:31 where the disciples that served others not knowing they were serving Jesus are rewarded. These are both from Matthew yet one emphasizes relationship with the Lord where the other emphasizes action. So which one is it? Are we forced to choose? can we use AND to bridge the gap. Faith AND works as Catholics may say or Faith AND evidence of their Faith as Protestants may say.
    3. I am always hesitant to quote the Bible because when quoting one part I am leaving out all the other parts which are equally true. I wish I had the power to quote the whole Bible at someone. So one must be careful of reductionism when saying that something like John 3:16 is all that you need. Even John didn’t think that’s all people need because he wrote a lot more then that passage. In fact we have FOUR Gospels! each containing the life giving message of Christ and all the epistles which contain a wealth of truth other than just repeating John 3:16.
    4. so with that in mind I’m going to quote the Bible. Through the sacrifice of Christ we are justified and become adopted children of God. We will never cease stop being children of God and there is nothing that we can do to earn of lose that love. But we can lose our inheritance just like the prodigal son. And that is our salvation. As St. Paul says to the justified, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God at work in you, enabling you both to will and work for his good pleasure. (Phil 2:12)

  2. Hello, Fr. Joshua;

    I do not really care for the Joint Declaration, as I am not a Lutheran.
    You cite:
    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”
    What is the Father’s will? Not that you should approach his Throne of Grace with your works, filthy rags that are masquerading as incense. It is that you believe. And this, unfortunately, you do not do. If by faith, then not by works.

    On the other citation, sheep are those justified. Goats are those not. That parable has nothing to do with how they are justified. The Roman Catholic will insist that it is because they worked; I will insist that it is because they believed. As you no doubt know, it is due to the righteousness of Jesus being passed on to those who are undeserving that the tax-collector types end up justified. So if we did good things, it is not us—if it were, tax-collector types like me would not make it—but rather because Christ did. While this is central in the Bible—starting with the descriptions of the sacrificial animals, to John the Baptist’s procalamations—it is very telling that the Roman Catholics read “you did good” and manage to see no Jesus doing in that picture, but instead the fumbling hands reaching for works to be thereby commended.

    So, even though I do not take the my-works tack you mention above, I insist on faith and evidence by works. One such work is the trust you put in Christ, and the peace and liberty that follows it; these are all the penitent thief on the cross had as resultant works. Even simply uttering that, yes, by faith I am justified, is a resultant work.

    John 3:16 is sufficient to communicate the message of Christ. I did not quote just it; I insisted that he read all of John chapter 3! It is just that God has chosen John 3:16 to be the first Christian message anybody hears, and to be the Christian message that everybody hears. There is something about it; it is a summary of Jesus’ message. It cannot be shown to be otherwise.
    Still, I was not answered about it: should it be qualified? You can just give your answer, and leave the justification (heh) for it out of the answer.

    “But we can lose our inheritance just like the prodigal son. And that is our salvation.”
    The story of the prodigal son is a story of forgiveness in spite of the boy having messed up, not a story of losing the inheritance because the boy messed up! Why do you dare to wring the neck of so powerful a story? In fact, the boy went back knowing he was not worthy—even to be a slave—and he was made the heir-apparent! Please: we do not learn of punishment and loss of inheritance from the story! We learn of forgiveness for the undeserving! “The Kingdom of Heaven is like this.” Why is it so hard to see Grace, even when it is the only message? Is it really so difficult to see it, that you do not see the pardon the one time you quote the Bible, and see instead loss of inheritance? If this was not clear, Romans 8:14-17 restates it, post-Ascenscion. (And I know that the Catholic eyes will stick to “we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” and be excited that there is yet some room for works. What a pathetic way to miss the point, always on the prowl for where they can be able to boast in themselves, not in the Lord. The sufferings are not as Catholics know them; these are sufferings for the undiluted message of Grace, as was the case for St. Paul, caused indeed by the opponents of such a message, like …)

    “As St. Paul says to the justified, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God at work in you, enabling you both to will and work for his good pleasure.”
    “Work out your salvation” is not “work for your salvation”. I implore you to work out your salvation with fear and trembling; often, Galatians is a good place to start. Remember: it is God at work in you, enabling you.

  3. Hello, Mr. Heschmeyer;
    These issues with which you deal are important indeed, and they sit at the base of the problem. It is an honourable effort, this, on your part. To cheekily point out that Roman Catholicism is indeed based on works, I could legitimately say that you are raking up points with God when you do such a good work as host this debate.
    I am afraid that I am, yet again, writing a long comment. Since I have seen only low traffic in the comments section, I assume that this is not as irritating as it would have been in other cases. Still, if it is irritating, I hope you can endure it again one more time.

    “we don’t try and earn our way to Heaven, for example, but he’s quite sure we must. ”
    If it were true that you do not earn your way to Heaven, you would not have spent so much time defending the role of works, would you? If it were true that Catholics do not earn their way to justification, we would not have this discussion. The whole World is not hallucinating about Catholicism; it is a religion in which those who do good are the ones who are justified (and your Catechism agrees).
    Like I said, you Cathechism does say one thing on one page, and (at least implies) another on another page. You ask any Roman Catholics on pilgrimage whether these works will improve their standing before God; then you will get what is being taught to people, rather than what is being asserted on blogs in the face of assaults from Grace fanatics like myself.

    “There are four major reasons not to base all doctrine off of Scripture alone …”
    This sentence alone betrays the fact that, to you (at least), and to the Roman Catholic Church (at most), non-scriptural authority arrives at things external to, different from—and indeed opposed to—Scripture.

    Sola Scriptura is a doctrine, yet it’s not taught by any passage of Scripture. So it’s self-refuting to claim it, because in teaching a doctrine not taught in Scripture, you condemn yourself by your own standard.”
    When I said that I do not defend sola scriptura, I meant it. Still, now that this is here, I will defend why I do not argue against it.
    Whatever thing it is that you treat as a First Principle—for example, that truth should be believed—you cannot defend without getting circular. But I have found that I need not refer anywhere beyond scripture to refute particular things I do not believe in. For example, I need not refer to scripture when I disagree with someone’s answer to a mathematics problem. But there are issues that lend themselves to being settled by scripture—such as questions on justification—and for those, I will refer to any amount of sources, Scripture being one. (Sermons being another. Even Papal encyclicals.) But one source is necessarily superior to all the others, and I have chosen—by faith—that whatever goes against it (however subtly) is wrong. This supreme source is Scripture, and I accede to it (and no other) by faith. The problem is not how we determine sola scriptura (when we do), for that is by faith, and faith is okay. The problem is that many expect that we should arrive at each of these things after Euclidean gyrations of the arm. I explained in the previous comment box that it was wrong for reason to have such undue primacy.

  4. You moderns—Roman Catholics, especially—have developed such an allergy to accepting things by faith, so that a course for Roman Catholic seminarians contains more time spent on St. Thomas Aquinas—most-famous for making the existence of God a matter of reason—while saying barely anything (and whatever little they say being qualified with “but St. James says …”) about St. Paul of Tarsus.
    But the problem is that if Scripture is incomplete (does not contain in it compulsion to appeal to it), then the Tradition (plus Scripture, if you like) suffers from just the same problem. If, however, the Tradition does refer to itself (or even to Scripture, this latter being part of Tradition) it achieves completeness—questions of canonicity and whether or not sola scriptura is a correct predicate can be solved by Tradition—but then it loses consistency. I am rehashing Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems here, for these theological issues. So, Roman Catholic Tradition is either incomplete or inconsistent. We can either not know if we should say sola traditio et scriptura, or we will be able to say both sola scriptura and its opposite based on the same Tradition. The Roman Catholics obviously rejected the earlier one (incompleteness), and now have the other (inconsistency), which is why you find that Tradition cannot be over-thrown by extra-scriptural appeals (Roman Catholics like calling on St. Peter’s keys from Scripture to stay on the throne), yet it is there by extra-scriptural mandate (because until this man with the keys from Scripture sat on the throne, there was no scripture).

    Why sola scriptura? Because I have not found anything to break my faith in having the Bible as complete for the questions on which I have appealed to it; such as how we are justified before God.

    “Scripture tells us not to. 2 Thessalonians 2:15, and the other verses I cited yesterday.”
    I told you yesterday that you were wrong. The traditions St. Paul refers to are in Scripture today. Indeed, they are opposed to Roman Catholic Tradition.

    “Scriptura alone doesn’t even dictate the canon of Scripture.”
    See the first response. The way the Councils knew the canon is the way we know it. Why do you think the Councils alone have access to the faith to identify the canon? Do you realise that you now have a problem—analogous to what I discuss above—with sola concillium.

    “The dispute is on the meaning of Scripture.”
    Yes; and I answered this yesterday, pointing out that Roman Catholicism has the wrong meaning, especially for the James epistle. I hope you read what I wrote yesterday; I am starting to suspect that you did not (for which I will understand, of course; you have important things to do). Indeed, none of the questions I asked have been answered, and I have to give the same answers and ask the same questions here.

  5. “So to say, “What does Scripture say on this?” is to ask a circular question: that’s what we’re disagreeing about.”
    Every disagreement can be recast in this fashion. Every time Scripture disagrees with you, you can claim it is an interpretation problem. And this underlines why the Roman Catholic view of how to know what scripture means is wrong, for example. Ultimately, it will be by faith that we accede to the interpretation of the last interpreter (often our own understanding). Roman Catholics glory in having the Pope and the Councils to interpret things, as though encyclicals do not need to be interpreted. Ultimately, it will have to be by faith that we take an understanding; and this is something that the Roman Catholics have spend 500 years anathematising. The Protestants have it as “perspicuity of Scripture,” and so on this they are correct, and the Catholics wrong.
    There is no way you will accede to God without faith being at the very base of everything, even your reading of Scripture. This is the point of Hebrews 11:1-6. Fortunately, being ready in this manner to understand Scripture not only primes you for accepting the message of Grace by faith when you find it, it also makes you anything-but-a-Roman-Catholic, which generally frees you from having to reject Grace by faith in order to survive the anathemata of those who will not stop at making Mary co-redemptrix, but will also make you co-redemptor, such that they mean that Jesus lied in John 3.

    “Does that mean that since they use one entity (the wounded), that friends and foes are the same?”
    No; but you see your problem here is having to insist that tradition-by-letter and otherwise-transmitted tradition are not the same. They are the same, which you and I accept by faith. Did the Apostles contradict themselves in letter and word-of-mouth? St. Paul wrote to fight for what he had said. Therefore, unlike friends and foes, the two in this case are the same. This is a matter of faith that you can reject, as do many others.

    “And if the Traditions the Apostles had written down were 100% comprehensive, why bother telling them to pay attention to anything else? … If word of mouth and letter are 100% the same, as T27C’s claiming, it’d be equally redundant and silly.”
    Because we have the totality of their teaching, while some neo-Christian community in Thessaloniki did not. The Thessalonians had Romans said to them, but we read it. You can reject my assertion that what we have in Scripture is complete. (As a Roman Catholic, you are required to.) But in that, we shall just have conflicting traditions, which will lead us right back to the debates of the previous posts.

    “And not just the Roman Catholic Tradition, but Scripture itself: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.””
    Yes, and you think that St. Peter was an Aristotelian philosopher? You think giving an answer has to proceed by Euclidean proofs? This is exactly the problem that was introduced with the paganisation of the message.
    Whatever makes you think that just simple, blind, gut faith cannot be an answer, a reason, for the hope I have in me? Life is not a theorem. For you Catholics, who are too ashamed even to accede to faith in God before you reduce Him to a matter of Euclidean proof, I understand if this sounds foolish. Then again, 1 Corinthians 1:18-30 was written for exactly such an audience as me.

  6. “At this point, T27C isn’t saying we should go by Scripture alone, but by Scripture and random gut feelings. … So his gut is now the highest earthly authority in Christendom, and it judges even Scripture.”
    I do not mind the “random” you tacked on. What I mind is that you seem to think that you do something different. You believe in the Catholic Tradition because you proved it to be correct? Ascend the ladder until you arrive at the First Principles; the things you believe because you believe them. Your gut will decide your canon for you, whether you like it or not. It chose for you your list of encyclicals, and it chose for me my canon.
    “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”

    “But remember, we need an objective standard, so all Christians can live in harmony. … We can’t get that if we’re each going by our gut instincts, because our gut instincts (1) disagree, and (2) are warped by our sinful natures.”
    That standard is by faith. If we fail to justify God’s actions to a bunch of sceptics, should we elide God’s actions, for the sake of harmony? Why do you think that faith is mathematics, where we must be compelled by a set of axioms in order to arrive at agreement?

    “But Scripture says all Christianity should agree with something, so the standard can’t be your (or my) gut.”
    If my gut is correct, that standard is my gut. How do you accede to the pronouncements of the councils? By theorems and proofs? After all, you do not “just feel” that you should be faithful to them.
    It is appalling that we are not so ashamed of being so ashamed of relying on faith. You spend a lot of time heaping scorn on simple, blind, gut faith (I am used to that, by the way), not realising that it is at the very root of not just how you accede to the pronouncements of the Roman Catholic Church, but also that it is how you will accede to justification, if you will ever be justified before God. Thus saith the Lord.
    “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
    If ever you shall be justified before God, you will have no evidence of it—because you will have no works to rely on—such that it may be by faith that you believe you will be justified before Him.

  7. “We’ve seen from the history of Protestantism how peaceful and unified going by Scripture alone is … ”
    You mistake doctrinal unity for the pseudo-political quasi-ethical unity of the Roman Catholic system. In Revelation, Jesus lists many Churches. They are doing different things, and having different problems—because they are distinct, different, and separate. In Acts 17:26-27, you find “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” So the homogeneity you think is required is in fact not; apart from the power-hungry imaginations of some European ruling priestly class. I am myself descended from the region of the World where the first Church was set up outside of Judea; before the gospel reached Rome. How were we expected to be one with the Roman Catholics who did not even exist yet? And if Rome got blown by a nuke, as it very well could very soon; shall the Church vanish?
    These Protestants—by virtue of you having placed them under one label, “Protestants”—are one in doctrine. They bicker about the corners as though that is the whole, but that is a failure of post-medieval Europe, not of the Church. Jesus does not command homogeneity. He commands agreement, which comes necessarily from following His commands: repent and believe the good news. This is not what the Roman Catholics do; they believe the bad news and confess.
    If I tell the Catholics to not be works-based—I know this will not happen any time soon—I am calling them to be one in Christ with the rest of the believers.

    “… there are groups of Christians whose interpretation of the Bible is rejected by every Christian outside their individual assembly …”
    Do you interpret the encyclicals?

    “So the Church, not our gut, is the pillar and foundation of Truth.”
    How do you accede to the Church? If by gut feeling—as it is, as it must be at the highest level which you begin to accept axioms you do not prove—then your gut is the pillar and foundation of Truth. In fact, I will be very blunt: your gut has been wrong, and that is why you are in the Roman Catholic Church. You believe you are facing the right direction; but Caiphas was just as certain; the Pharisees were just as certain. But if you find the truth, even that will be by faith; by gut feeling alone will you accede to the pillar and foundation of Truth. Keep laughing at gut faith, as do others of your kind. But remember that unless you lie out of 70,000 fathoms of water, you will not have had faith. You glory in your assurance by what you see. But: “The just shall live by faith.” “We live by faith, not by sight.”

    “T27C says that without the Bible, Protestantism would cease to exist. I agree, and the early Church didn’t have the Bible.”
    Yes; the early Church was not Protestant. Not least because there had been no Roman Catholicism to protest. We, of the early Church, do not define ourselves in terms of Roman Catholicism. Now you know why I am not a Protestant. I have nothing to protest. I just believe in Christ; how does that relate to some quasi-Christian pagan Tradition? I don’t know either.
    But I disagree that there was no Bible at a certain point … that is wrong. The Scriptures were there for all the time that our faith existed. Isaiah 53 is enough to point towards Jesus Christ, vindicate St. Paul, laugh at Roman Catholicism, and convert me to the Truth, all in just one chapter.

  8. “Jesus Christ is the Logos, the Divine Logic, so irrational religion is an insult to Him.”
    No, Jesus Christ is the Word. Your force-casting that instance of logos into logic is merely an instance of the modern rationalist tendency, which leads you to the heresies that prevent you from accepting anything that does not lie prostrate at the altar of logic, preventing you from having faith. Romans 4-5 is very irrational—“How can I, a sinner, be justified, seeing as I am incapable of being good?”—but it is the truth. And yet any mention of believing even as children believe is guaranteed to provoke indignant appeals to “Divine Logic”. No wonder you have made an image and worshipped it, worshipping it precisely because it does not insult logic. So you do not dare to say “Our Father who Are in Heaven,” but rather refer instead to a Prime Mover in the Platonic Realm, or the like. Embrace what is outside of rationality; only there can you find faith.
    You say that irrational religion is an insult to God; that is wrong. He is the God of Abraham. I am not championing irrationality; I am just recognising the limits of reason, especially in the presence of God. I know that, as a Roman Catholic, you are required to reject that God would dare to be irrational, as though your ape mind should be enough to contain the Lord of Hosts. And then you turn around and give lip service to faith and the mystery of God, citing the Trinity and the Incarnation, dutifully crossing yourselves, while in fact all the while forcing God into the same idol at which Aristotle prostrated Himself. And then you claim to be the Apostolic Tradition? Hebrews 11 could never come off a Roman Catholic pen, leave alone the rest of the book. (Hebrews 9, anyone?)

    “… there were a couple centuries before the Catholic Church declared which ones were Scripture …”
    This confusion awaits all of your kind, who refuse to accede to the canon by faith; both Roman Catholic and Protestant. How did the Church exist, if the Scripture did not? We have to have acceded to one of them first, and that by faith, because it did not have the other to declare it valid. For this reason (among many, many others) the usurpers who pretended that the canon was so because they said so are not of the Apostolic Tradition. And from which council did we receive the instruction to accede to the declarations of this council?

    “Wisdom, which prophesies the death of Christ, and Tobit, which prophesies the number of angels around the altar of God”
    Those books are good only insofar as they agree with the sixty-six. So, if you can tease a prophecy of Christ out of the works of Charles Darwin or Niccolò Machiavelli, that part is good. The rest is useless. This is the case for Tobit and Wisdom. The Jews, to whom the oracles were entrusted, do not consider those books canon, and neither do I, because I inherit the pre-Jesus Scriptures from them.

    “which the Church, not the individual’s interpretation of the Scriptures, was the highest authority”
    Which Church is established by Scriptures, which do not exist, because it has not yet decided which they are. The only alternative is exactly where you fear to tread: acceding to what is Scripture independent of what anybody else says. It is how we knew to trust the Scriptural mandate of those who declared what Scripture was, even before they did. We trusted the Scripture before we were told to; just by simple, blind, gut faith.

    Need I point out that the writings of the councils and Popes are, to you, equally scripture? By what compelling council declaration do you accede to them? Do you still not see the sad direction in which you are headed? “The intelligence of the intelligence I will frustrate, says the Lord.” Believe, my friend, and you shall be saved.

  9. “if they refuse to listen even to the Church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector”
    Are you so blind as to think that the sin Jesus was talking of was refusal to do works, or refusal to believe? By what standard was the tax-collector made before God to be other than a tax-collector? By works, or by faith?
    Yet God Himself bears witness this day against all of you, that in the presence of multitudes you have been told to change your thinking (repent) and believe the Good News (be justified by faith). If you refuse, you will be treated on that day as the pagans and tax-collectors you are. This is the truth.

    “Now, someone who introduces a heresy into Christianity is sinning, and is subject to the Church’s ruling.”
    Yes, Roman Catholics are sinning, and are subject to the Church’s ruling. You have been told now, when there is yet time, to accept the gospel and be justified freely apart from your works. You have refused, and now you stand external to the Grace of God. When the ark is closed, you will pound away on it, and it will not be opened; even as you laughed heartily at those who did the foolish thing that faith commanded, as they relied not on their capacity, but on being safe inside the Ark.

    “He then left the Church, rather than obey Her judgments. Is there any question that this is sinful?”
    It is commendable to leave Roman Catholicism, because it lies to people in many ways. It is far from the truth. It is a lie not unlike those of other equally-pagan religions. What makes it worse—what makes it important to leave it—is that it has a semblance of the truth, but denies the power of it to save. Martin Luther obeyed 2 Timothy 3:5 to its extent.

    “She made the determination, in the name of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28), and didn’t leave it up to the individual believer.”
    I am glad that She did not; because She did not, Scripture has that truth on which other decisions can be based.

    “So determining orthodoxy and heresy is clearly part and parcel of the Church’s power and responsibilty.”
    When Roman Catholicism determines heresy and orthodoxy, it is to their preaching and teachings, which are entirely different from the Apostolic Tradition. With such, I do not bother myself. Would that nobody did.

    “The second reason is that the Church is perfect …”
    Yes, but the Roman Catholic Church is not perfect; therefore it is not the Church, and does not follow the Apostolic Tradition. This is why I am not of it. Would that nobody was.
    All the things, then, that follow that snippet, talking about the Church, are not about the Roman Catholic Church any more than they are about the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. Both those camps are wrong, and they do not follow the Apostolic Tradition, and they will reap the reward of teaching people to disobey the call to Grace.

    “The Holy Spirit never guides us into all truth, or teaches us all things. That’s a power left to the Church.”
    Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is a doctrine that you (plural) cooked up from your power-hungry traditions, and which has no place whatsoever in the Scripture. How would you understand what the Church says to you, if it were not by the Holy Spirit? How were the Epistles understood by their original audience, if not by the Holy Spirit? You think the Church is a bunch of celibates in a European city, so that it is them who receive the guidance, and you the neglect? Where does such a perverse and evil doctrine come from? Not from the Father who So loved the World! Even you, in your fallen state, would not talk to your children by proxy; how much more your Father in Heaven?

  10. “Christ was wrong, and the Church did fall away from the fullness of the truth”
    Christ was right. The Roman Catholics went wrong, because they are not the Church any more than the Later Day Saints are! We never went wrong; the Scripture has always been here, and we have always acceded to it. I have no religion; and when you religions are gone in a very short time, my adelphoi will still be here. When your languages are forgotten, we will still be here, because the Church does not go away. Christ was right. Roman Catholicism strayed because, of course, it is not the Church. You do not have the Apostolic Tradition; it is us who do. You do not have the Grace by Faith message; it is us who do.

    “It’s historical nonsense to pretend that there were invisible Christians teaching sola fide in the generations prior to Luther.”
    So you are saying that Luther wrote Romans, or Galatians, or John retro-actively? If it is nonsense to say that Luther was not original, why do the Protestants say “sola scriptura,” insisting that their assertions can be found in the Scriptures?
    By the way, my part of the World had a Church before Rome heard of the gospel; and the truth was sustained throughout, as it will be after Rome is reduced to un-inhabitable nuclear-poisoned rubble.

    “But Christ also doesn’t promise just a remnant.”
    A remnant does not have to be small. It was small, of course, but you can see for yourself that it grows yet. To appeal to size is to reject the time of the birth of Christianity as invalid for consideration, just because the numbers were small.

    “There’s absolutely no historical evidence they ever existed.”
    I see you have been fooled, also, into thinking that the Church was limited to Latin-speaking Europe with a dash of the Greeks here and there. Well, some primer for you: there were millions of Christians in India before the Mughals. They had no communication with Rome. There were considerably-fewer in Arabia, but enough for one of them (name slips) to have influenced Mohammed. They had no contact with Rome. There were millions of Christians in the -stan countries area, including Afghanistan and up to the Mongoloid zone. There were Christians in China. They were almost entirely snuffed out, so that missionaries to China were not even aware of this history (and apparently an ancient grave stone is one of the few-but-key pieces of evidence left). They had no contact with Rome. There were millions of Christians in India, tracing their church back to Thomas the Doubter. They were culled by the Mughals. They had no contact with Rome. There were millions of Christians in sub-Saharan Africa, the most-advanced (and therefore those who survived) were based in Ethiopia, and some such communities survive to this day. They claimed to have the Covenant Box, they had Axum as their main spot, and lived in general harmony with the Falasha Jews of Africa. Until the hunt for Prester John was started, they had no contact with Rome. There were some Christians in the Maghreb, until the Jihads culled them. The remnant, if memory serves, are mostly the Coptics of Egypt. They had little contact with Rome. To say that there is no evidence that Christians existed outside of the Roman Catholic political areas is common, understandable, and excusable, but nevertheless wrong.

    “And what’s more, if they did exist … they were bad Christians for hiding their light under a bushel, instead of being “a city on a hill””
    Well, the Catholics were bad Christians because they were not known to 90% of the World until some few generations ago. Or do we relax the rules a bit in such a case? But so much the better, because what the World needs is the message of Grace, and they do not carry it. Indeed, it was in the time after the Reformation started that evangelisation became a serious matter.

  11. “T27C could find a group he considered a “remnant,” that group’s defining characteristic (cowardly hiding from heresy for centuries) is the characteristic of the damned, not the saved”
    Unbelief is the characteristic of the damned. Cowardice is what you do, when knowing that it is true to believe unto justification, you refuse because you have been encircled by menacing Roman Catholic dogmas and attendant anathemata. The verse you quote: “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

    “if you want to know the truth, look at what the Church teaches”
    And then, if you are a Catholic, reject it and root for what your religion teaches. For added effect, claim that your religion is the Church, even though its message can barely be called the Good News.

    “What did the Church teach then?”
    Salvation by Grace, through Faith in Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen. Why refer to 200AD when you have the Epistles? Do you have to go that far in to dodge Grace? Why don’t you look at what Jesus said? You did not answer me on John 3:16: should it be translated differently?

    “Is there any church besides the Catholic Church that even claims to be this Church?”
    Yes. The Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints. But, of course, both of you are wrong. And the words you hear from me now, you hear from the Church. Repent and believe the Good News: you are justified without requiring works! This is the Good News! Repent and believe! If you do not believe, the wrath of God stays on you. For if a law was given by which you could be justified, then righteousness would have come by that Law. But God says that you are evil, that the justification He promised may be given to you through means other than the Law: by reliance on Him, which is faith in Him who justifies the wicked as His free gift—not-worked-for un-earned thing.

    “When the Catholic Church says “x is dogma,” She’s defining what’s already believed.”
    Which succintly explains why we do not need the Catholic Church and all these declaring councils. Neither for canon, nor for Marian dogmas. After all, whatever they declare, we already believe. And how do we believe it, if they have not yet declared it? But of course: we use simple, blind, gut faith.
    (I hope you realise that, in saying what you said, you came ‘round to my position against which you argued previously. How do we believe what is not yet declared? However it is, it is because we believe things before the Church declares them.)

    “So T27C’s claim that if a given dogma isn’t formally promulgated, it is therefore not accepted by any faithful Catholic is absolutely false.”
    Now you are fighting yourself. Earlier, you said that unless the Church decrees, there can be no coherent belief system among the faithful. The Church, in other words, came before the coherent beliefs. Now, you are putting it exclusively after them. Enjoy the choice between consistency and completeness. There is the faith option, of course, but you do not take that.

    “So it wasn’t as if, in 1949, no Catholic believed in the Assumption, and in 1951, they all did (I used to go to Assumption Parish in Topeka, KS, founded in 1911, so I can say forcefully that this is nonsense history). ”
    Well, it is your nonsense history. You will not find me saying the Roman Catholics started being wrong in 1950.

    “If you want to argue that a certain belief is a novel heresy, point to the heresiarch!”
    I point to: All the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, and all those who defend them. (The same applies to all other groups, like the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, among others.)

  12. “… cite me of a pope promulgating a given Catholic doctrine, I’ll show you a group of earlier Christians who believed it.”
    Many people in antiquity were wrong; the Apostles were combating heresy in their day. Instead, I will just show you that what we believe was handed to us by Jesus; the rest is the useless traditions of men (regardless of the esteem with which you hold them, and how you label dissenters “heretics”, even in the name of Jesus).

    “She’s had the “faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 1:3) since the time of the Apostles.”
    Yes. And the Roman Catholics are not those people.

    Sorry for the length this attained. I promise that I will stop, if you find my input obnoxious and tell me so. Contrary to what it seems, I do not expect that this matter will be settled here. There will be nobody around when you decide to accede to Grace by faith, if you ever do; so the longer I stay here, the less-likely that this is the moment. But of course I would like it that this be the moment! So I will stop here, and wait for your response. I honestly hope I am not being as irritating as I seem to myself. (I guess I am being irritating; but these are obviously things about which I feel strongly—as do you.)

  13. T27C,

    I appreciate that you’re putting forward your view. You should know that I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, by Grace through Faith. All the saved, Catholic, Protestant or otherwise, do. These aren’t just idle words, or some Catholic blogger on the defensive against a self-proclaimed “Grace fanatic.” Fr. Joshua quoted the Catholic-Lutheran joint declaration: “By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and recieve the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.” Yet you persist in trying to tell us what Catholics believe, and you “cheekily point out that Roman Catholicism is indeed based on works” without offering a shred of evidence. If someone does a lot of really great works, but rejects God, do you know where the Catholic Church says they go at the end of their life? Straight to hell.

    You’re wrong: we personally believe in salvation by grace alone through faith, and the Church teaches grace alone through faith. You’re even obviously wrong, to the point that one not blinded by prejudices would immediately see it: the best you can hold up as evidence is the claim is that the Catechism somehow implies works-righteousness, in a way that apparently no Catholic picks up on, even while explicitly proclaiming the opposite. You see this as a contradiction in the Catechism: I see it as you not knowing as much about Catholicism as Catholics do. That’s reasonable: I wouldn’t expect you to, but you shouldn’t arrogantly presume that you do.

    So all of your comments about how we’re damned because we think we can work our way into Heaven are slanderously wrong. You’re damning us for a sin we’re not even committing! I might as well just post comment after comment saying that you’re going to hell for thinking polygamy is okay. If you protest that you don’t believe it, and I kept on claiming it anyways, without ever raising a shred of evidence, what sort of Christian approach would that be? None: just slander – and the only evidence you’ve cited is that the world thinks this of Catholics. So slander founded on gossip. When you get ready for your next round of comments, and you feel yourself about to type something about what Catholics really believe about how they can work their way into Heaven, stop yourself. I get, and I’m sure everyone who’s read your comments gets, that you think Catholics are saved by works, and you (like we) think that you can’t be saved by works. There’s not even a debate on whether works-righteousness saves (we condemned that view, amongst other places, in the Council of Orange), so let’s move on to the areas where there are.

  14. Justification
    As regards the role played by works, we believe, like I said before, that once justified, the Holy Spirit calls us to participate in the good works that God has stored up for us. As Hebrews 4 makes clear, we can then freely obey or disobey the Spirit’s call. If we disobey, we’re not being faithful. That’s what the Greek word you’re using (in John 3:16 and elsewhere) means – faithfulness. Faithfulness includes belief, as hope and knowledgeable assent, but it includes a whole world of other things, too, like obedience and (most importantly) love. Like I said, the exact same term is used to describe God’s faithfulness, which is obviously not based upon hope or assent. Christ refers to the saved as good and faithful servants: faithful servants do what their Master commands. Disobedient servants don’t, and those servants are punished, not rewarded for their knowledge of the Master (Luke 12:47). At least part of the problem is what I said before: you are apparently assuming that “faith” means a certain thing, but this assumption isn’t founded upon Scripture or the original Greek.

    It’s because of this that you manage to so thoroughly warp the passage from Matthew 25 which Fr. Joshua mentions. If Christ meant “merely believe that I’m God, and do nothing else,” then this passage makes absolutely no sense, and neither do other enormous chunks of the Bible, where Jesus and the Apostles answer the question “what must I do to be saved?” If you were right, their answer would unambiguously be “believe in God, but you don’t need to act on that belief.” The truth is, those who believe in Christ need to act on that faith for it to be a living, saving faith: and as you said, it’s only because God is at work in us, enabling us, that we’re able to do this. The Catechism couldn’t be clearer on this, and this has literally nothing to do with what the Pharisees were teaching, or their view of works. Attempting to equate the two as identical shows a troubling ignorance of both.

    Regardless of your own experience, not all those who believe in Christ act on that faith, and Scripture clearly refers to those who have faith and not love (1 Cor 13) and those who have faith and not works resulting from that faith (James 2) as having a worthless faith.

  15. To get to the question you repeated on John 3:16, I apologize for not answering: I didn’t realize you were being serious. The translation is perfect, as long as you know what’s meant by “those who believe,” and don’t interpret it in a way that contradicts the rest of Scripture. You did that earlier, claiming that the only damnable sin was unbelief, but in this round of comments, you quoted Scripture, the double-edged sword which showed your error: “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” That has unbelief, along with a whole litany of other mortal sins, as damnable. Unbelief is simply thrown in the middle: nothing in the text suggests that the other mortal sins derive from unbelief. Other, similar passages lead to the same conclusion: Ephesians 5:5-6 lists other categories of damnable sins (immortality, impurity, idolatry), and blames them on disobedience, not unbelief. And Hebrews 4:11 and 2 Peter 2 (amongst other passages) clearly warn believing Christians that if they fall into disobedience, they’ll imperil their souls.

    If we needed a personal example, Simon believed and was baptized (Acts 8:13), then commit the sin of simony (which is named after him: Acts 8:18), and Peter warned that his soul was in peril of hell (Acts 8:21-22). Peter doesn’t say that Simon is in danger of hell for not believing: Scripture says the exact opposite (that is, that he DID believe). Rather, his sin was trying to buy the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So if you interpret John 3:16 to mean that all we have to do is believe that Jesus is the Christ, and we’ll go to Heaven, even if we proceed to try and buy the gifts of the Holy Spirit, then you’re interpreting the passage in a way inconsistent with Acts 8. But if you interpret John 3:16 to mean that Christ saves the faithful, everything falls perfectly into place.

    Yes, Christ justifies the wicked… but that doesn’t mean we are to continue to be wicked, once justified. God “made us alive with Christ even when we dead in transgressions – it is by Grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5). So He saved us when we were dead: and because we were saved, we’re to be alive now, not dead. We couldn’t bring ourselves to life, or justify ourselves, but now that we have been justified and brought to life, we have a responsibility not to go back to our formal spiritual state. Do you agree with us on this point?

  16. Faith and Reason
    This is another area where it might benefit to listen to what Catholics believe, instead of telling them what they believe. For one thing, we’re less far apart than you might think, although I’m cautious with treating faith as if it’s something which is the enemy of reason: it’s not. I answered this way, the other day, to another commenter (Murdock Wallis):
    And yes, we have room for “burning in the bosom.” I mean, the Church has numerous visionaries and miracle-workers, soul-readers like Padre Pio who could tell you what your sins were, and so on. The pope’s personal preacher, Fr. Cantalamessa, speaks in tongues.

    But these spiritual events are always suprarational, never sub-rational or irrational.

    It’s suprarational to conclude your wife loves you. The available objective evidence supports the conclusion, but is insufficient to prove it. It’s irrational to conclude that Jamie Lee Curtis loves you (sorry!). The available evidence flatly refutes it. So the Church embraces the suprarational, and rejects the irrational.

    This is in keeping with our understanding of God as Logos, perfect Logic. His logic is often above and beyond ours, but it’s never beneath ours.
    Admittedly, the suprarational may sometimes appear irrational, but it’s not. There are times where we just acknowledge that God’s reasoning is so beyond ours that we just don’t get it, but we never chalk that up to God being irrational, as you do in your comment. Contrary to what you assert, Logos means “logic” as well as “word,” and it’s meant that since long before John 1 was penned. As a Greek-speaker, John would have known what this word meant, and besides, there’s another Greek word that means only “word” which he deigns not to use. So we can know that John is specifically making a point that Christ is the Divine Logic of God, as well as the Word of God, proceeding forth from the Father. But besides that, Christ proclaims Himself the Truth, Veritas Incarnate. What we believe appears as folly to the Greeks, but it isn’t actually folly. If you re-read 1 Corinthians 1:18-30, which you cite, look to the fact that Paul chalks all of this up to the Wisdom of God which transcends the alleged wisdom of the Greeks. Paul’s showing that God surpasses human wisdom: that even if He seems irrational, He’s actually being rational in a way we’re too dumb to get. I see all of this as a hearty embrace of authentic Reason. In any case, it shows that true faith will never contradict true reason (even if the faith and reason WE have contradicts, because our faith and our reasoning are both flawed and imperfect).

  17. History
    Somehow, even in the over 6500 words worth of comments on this post, you barely addressed the subject of this post, which wasn’t about justification at all, but about how we can settle disputes when they arise. Your comments on what divide us amount to essentially, “I’m right because I know I’m right,” and “I’m right, because I bet what you Catholics really believe is x.” You even say yourself: “You believe you are facing the right direction; but Caiphas was just as certain; the Pharisees were just as certain.” So simply believing one’s right doesn’t make it so: why should this be any different for you? Need I explain that neither of these is a basis for Christian unity, either in theory or practice? And that neither of these is the foundation for truth established by Scripture?

    I’m saying – on the basis of Scriptures which we both believe – that (1) in John 14 and John 16, Christ promises the Church collective that the Holy Spirit will lead Her into all truth and all knowledge forever, and (2) that Matthew 16 promises that the Church will never be overcome, and (3) that the Church established by Christ is like a mustard seed which started out small and became enormous, and like a city on a hill that all can see. On the basis of this, I’m saying (1) when in doubt, we should listen to the Church; (2) the Church is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and is a reliable guide; and (3) this Church is easily found.

    In response to this, you point to the fact that there were churches predating the founding of the church at Rome, and that the church at Rome may someday cease to be. St. Peter is the one who moved the Holy See to Rome – he describes himself as being in Rome, and the Scriptures clearly describe him as head of the Apostles, and with a unique role. Although you claim that God doesn’t act by proxy, He does: in Luke 22:31-32, Jesus prays, instead of for all Twelve Apostles, for Peter alone, and tells him to strengthen his brethren: that is, he’s to shepherd even the other Apostles. And in John 21, Christ asks (and Peter confirms) whether Peter loves Him more than the other Ten do, before ordering him personally to feed His sheep. And of course, it’s to Peter that Christ promises what He does in Matthew 16:17-19 about the creation of the Church, the handing over of the Keys, and the binding/loosening power. So already we’re seeing three layers of proxy: Peter, the Twelve, and the broader Church. It’s true that God doesn’t act only by proxy, and that we can pray directly to Him, but it’s obviously unsound to claim He doesn’t act by proxy, when He does so blatantly in places like Luke 10:16 – “he who hears you, hears Me; he who rejects you rejects Me; but he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”

  18. Anyways, the other churches you cite: the Copts, the Mar Thoma Christians in India, etc., are great support for my point. They’re geographically cut off from Rome, but are united with Her spiritually. In fact, the Mar Thoma Christians immediately submitted themselves to the pope when they made contact again (these relations were later severed, but the historical fact remains that even with 1400 years of lost contact, there was an understanding of Roman primacy). The Copts call their highest bishop “the pope,” showing that they know that the pope exists, and are imitating him. None of these Christian churches agree with you on justification, all of them have priests, all of them believe in the Real Presence, etc. In short, you could walk into any of their Liturgies and be quite convinced you were in a Roman Catholic church. All that bit about how Catholicism was just European and that until a few generations ago 90% of the world hadn’t heard of it is rubbish – the limits to the spread of the Gospel were technological limits, not a lack of faith. There were Christian missionaries on every known continent, and immediately upon the discovery of the New World, missionaries came in droves.

    So let’s turn the tables a bit. You claim: “We never went wrong; the Scripture has always been here, and we have always acceded to it.” Prove it. Show me early Christians – after the Apostles and before the Reformers – who taught the things you’re claiming.
    As a Catholic, I can show you individual Catholics who were proclaiming Catholic beliefs in every century from the time of Christ until today. You might think they were heretics, but you can’t deny they existed. On the other hand, the early non-denominational Christians you’re citing to are imaginary. Show me a group of Christians which rejected the priesthood, for example, in the second, or third, or fourth, or fifth, or sixth, century, etc. And if you can’t do that, then you’re left with either saying that the Church failed or didn’t have all truth, or that your own views were wrong. No more of this claiming to be “of the early Church” as you do, if you’re not going to back it up.

    If you get serious about looking at how those who knew the Apostles understood what they were saying, you’ll quickly realize that the early Church doesn’t look anything like you assume it looks. Also, feel free to search for “ECFs” on this blog (see the search engine above), for a lot of other resources.

  19. The Role of Councils and Perspicuity of Scripture
    Finally, the issue came up about councils and encyclicals, etc. – don’t they need to be interpreted? This is based on a misunderstanding: that Catholics think that all of Scripture is totally cryptic until a pope tells us what it means. We don’t think that: we think much of Scripture is immediately accessible, but that parts are obscure, or are prone to contradictory readings. Msgr. Ronald Knox put it clearly: “I do not mean to suggest, what these criticisms might at sight appear to suggest, that Biblical study, unguided by any belief in the doctrines of a teaching Church, is certain to lead men to wrong conclusions. I mean that such study is certain to lead different men to different conclusions, even on subject of the highest moment.” I’m curious if you think Knox is wrong: do you think that all true believers come to the same conclusion on all important theological issues, and that all read Scripture the same way? If so, why have preachers?

    Let’s take a real example. Every church prior to 1930 forbade contraception on the basis that it was against the Gospel. Nearly every church other than the Catholic Church now permits it, on the basis that it’s not. There’s sufficient ambiguity in Scripture that both groups are able to present their views with a straight face, and both camps contain committed Christians – much of the debate turns on the meaning of a specific Greek word, pharmakeia, in which either birth control or black magic is condemned. So when the pope released Humane Vitae in 1968, reinforcing that artificial birth prevention is contrary to the Gospel and the will of God, he was clarifying a very real ambiguity. If a passage of Scripture can be read in one of two opposing ways, and the Church says “it’s this way, not that,” this is clearer. Now, you’re right that individuals may still misunderstand the clarification, requiring further clarification, but that’s just a description of human communication. You might say something that I misunderstand, causing you to repeat your point in a different way. Such is the Church’s dialogue with the faithful.

    You covered a lot of ground, and I’ve done my best to cover it all. If there’s anything I missed, let me know. I love you as a brother in Christ, even as you curse me as damned, and I eagerly desire for the day when we can share in the fullness of truth.

    Joe.

  20. Hello, Mr. Heschmeyer;
    I hope you are having as good a Sunday as I am, and that this my response, for all the disagreement it contains, does no leave a bad spot on the day.
    I understand that these matters are charged with emotion, but I think that those who are wrong should be told so, otherwise they are being told a lie. Such debates use up the precious-little supply of charity that we have today, especially in online debates, where a gentle sarcasm cannot be tempered with a friendly smirk. As you know, because I am not a Protestant, and I am wholly-external to the Roman Catholic history, I generally only watch such debates, rather than take part in them. But in this case, I have ended up being one of the interlocutors; so be it, if I get to defend the Truth.

    “You should know that I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, by Grace through Faith.”
    No. You accept yourself as your saviour (if you are a Catholic), which is why you reject that that sentence is enough. You insist that unless your works follow that sentence, you are not saved. This is why we have had all these discussions.
    Indeed, here the Roman Catholic Church lies on two fronts. First, they equivocate on the word Grace. I mean it as charisma, which translates to “favour”. This is different from the invented equivocative meaning the Catholics use, which is “when your good works count to God.” So, you say “saved by Grace” when you mean “saved by being made to be in such a state that my good works count before God.” This is what your Catechism says. But that I disagree with, not only because I am certain that your works will never be good enough to justify you (where the Roman Catholics insist otherwise, they are wrong), but also because such a grace is not the Grace of God. So, when I say you are not justified by Grace, being a Catholic, I mean it, and you agree with me, because I mean that you are not justified by charisma, and you agree. You are not justified by Grace, though faith. Therefore God’s wrath remains on you, regardless of what the Roman Catholic Church has taught you to believe. On that day, you will see if your works can survive the consuming fire; and it is on them you depend.
    If indeed you had faith, you would not have to have works. Faith is certainty of things (justification) not seen; but you, you can see your works. If by faith, then not by works. You (plural) do not believe in Jesus for justification; you believe in yourselves.
    The second front on which the Roman Catholics lie is that they say that justification depends on Grace (favour, free gift, and so on) by faith, yet they say faith and works. So, what you said above is a lie, because the truth (if you are a Catholic, and also as Fr. Joseph earlier said) is “You should know that I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, by Grace through Faith and Works.” The lie was in taking what is not the full story, and trying no present it as though it was.
    I will tell you Matthew 23:1-15, Roman Catholic Edition.
    You travel over land and sea to win a single convert with John 3:16, and saying that justification is by faith, but when you get him, you make his burden twice as heavy as yours. You are not getting justified, and neither will you let others get justified. Woe to you, Roman Catholics!

    “If someone does a lot of really great works, but rejects God, do you know where the Catholic Church says they go at the end of their life? Straight to hell.“
    You do not even know the Catholic doctrines you accuse me of not knowing. Learn this, then: in Roman Catholic doctrine, there is no such thing as good works, or “great works,” as you call them, that can possibly be done by one who rejects God. This is the same sleight-of-hand equivocation on Grace that you employed on the signing of the Joint Declaration; for if I understand the Lutherans, they do not mean “Grace to do works that are considered good,” but rather “favour”.

  21. “So all of your comments about how we’re damned because we think we can work our way into Heaven are slanderously wrong. You’re damning us for a sin we’re not even committing!”
    They are not. Answer me this: you said that according to your doctrines, some people with good works can go to Hell; do you believe that people without good works can dodge Hell?
    This will show you why I am speaking the Truth when I accuse you of pivoting the justification on one’s works. If you do not, you are the one who is slanderously labelling me a slanderer, because I tell you the truth, that you are wrong, and that you are damned, because your justification relies on your feeble works which will not bear you home at all. Thus saith the Lord.
    I, on the other hand, glory in my weakness. For when I am weak, then He is strong.

    “I might as well just post comment after comment saying that you’re going to hell for thinking polygamy is okay.”
    Even if I think polygamy is okay, I would not go to Hell. My justification does not depend on me. Here, you show that indeed you are taught that your justification depends on you. I do not oppose polygamy; I just neither do it nor recommend it.

    “None: just slander – and the only evidence you’ve cited is that the world thinks this of Catholics.”
    Can one be justified without any good works? Can one be justified by just having faith alone?
    I will let you condemn yourself in your own words. If you say yes, you are not a Roman Catholic. If you say no, you have shown that you do not believe that we are justified by faith, but rather by works (for faith, even when it is there, does not save; the works are the active salvific ingredient to you). Now you are saying that I do not give evidence, when I am at your website, which is covered in such evidence. Every response you give is such evidence.

  22. “As regards the role played by works … once justified, the Holy Spirit calls us to participate in the good works that God has stored up for us.”
    Once justified … then works. So, you believe that one is justified apart from works of the Law? You are a heretical Catholic, and you have come under the same anathemata that Luther did. How can you make justification come before works? Doesn’t your doctrine warn against exactly such a teaching? Do you see what happens when you elide the Catholic teaching, so that you may agree with pseudonymous Grace fanatics on the Internet?
    Yet I offer you that you did not mean that; rather, that the justification is not complete until the works come in: in which case, you agree that you are justified by works, because without them you are not.
    This is an important matter, and God hasten the day when this lie is killed off the face of the Earth.
    “I do not set aside the righteousness of God, because if righteousness could come by works of the Law, Christ died for nothing!”

    My contention is that the works do not cause your justification, whatever else they may do. There is no such thing as faith that does not result in works; because, otherwise, that faith is dead, and nobody ends up writing responsa for or against dead faith. It is precisely because you worry about what we will do, in the grip of this justification-by-faith faith that you attack in horror our teachings. Our faith is alive, and we have your discomfort with it as some evidence of that. Even the confidence that we are justified—the confidence with which we stride to the Throne of Grace—is a work resulting from faith. If we are called to do things, having been justified—one such thing is to tell Roman Catholics that they are wrong, and that the wrath of God stays on them, because they have not believed to be thereby justified—that is external to the soteriological discussion at hand.

    Now, go to a confessional and confess the heresy you typed above. You have transgressed the Roman Catholic Church. Alternatively, you could just break free of that lying tradition and embrace the truth you said above, and be justified by God, apart from works. Read Romans chapter 4 from start to finish, regardless of what decision you make.

    “If we disobey, we’re not being faithful.”
    Yes. And you Roman Catholics disobey, because you try your feeble hands to deliver to God a fitting sacrifice, making it a part of doctrine that The Lamb of God Who Taketh Away the Sins of the World does not in fact do any such thing, and that it is our works of the Law that do. You are wrong, and you stand outside of the Grace of God. Subtle word games on the part of the Roman Catholic Church notwithstanding, the Truth will set people free.

    “Like I said, the exact same term is used to describe God’s faithfulness, which is obviously not based upon hope or assent.”
    Yes, and you accept that we are not required to be faithful as God is. We do not fulfil any prophecies; and of those God is said to be faithful to. Do not equivocate between the faithfulness of God, and the faithfulness of those who rely on God by that faithfulness. It is a sign of this big cancer that you fail to see this distinction between the faith of those justified freely by Grace, and the faith of the one justifying to justify the wicked. You do not see it, because the doctrines under which you have been reared make you play God’s role in justification.

  23. “Christ refers to the saved as good and faithful servants: faithful servants do what their Master commands.”
    And you have not believed. These verses will stand to condemn you, because you know the commandment that Jesus gave, and you know that he said you should obey it, but you refuse. For those like you there will be no excuse. Yet you will fail even after you accede to Grace; the difference is that, under Grace, as Isaiah said, “The punishment that brought us Peace was upon Him.”

    “… you are apparently assuming that “faith” means a certain thing, but this assumption isn’t founded upon Scripture or the original Greek.”
    It is. We even agree; it is just that you are not obeying the one thing that Jesus preached: repent and believe the good news. You glory in how the faithful must obey, because in it you see room for your works to buoy you. But you fail to realise that the obedience is to believe the good news.

    ““merely believe that I’m God, and do nothing else,””
    Who asserted that?

    “… where Jesus and the Apostles answer the question “what must I do to be saved?””
    And do you know the answer they gave? Jesus said: follow all the Laws. The man left crestfallen, and the disciples (realising that they did not measure up), asked “Who then can be saved?” And Jesus said “For man it is impossible, but for God anything is possible.” Man fails to be justified by the Law, God justifies.
    The Apostles said: “Believe in Jesus Christ, you and your household, and you will be saved.” That is enough.
    The Roman Catholics say “Pray the Rosary …” Which is a lie for which they, and their defenders, will pay to the full extent.

    “believe in God, but you don’t need to act on that belief.”
    Who asserted that?

    “The truth is, those who believe in Christ need to act on that faith for it to be a living, saving faith”
    No. Those who believe in Christ do indeed act on that faith, because their belief is due to a living saving faith. You do not need to act on the faith, as you claim; you will act on it whether you like it or not. Those who believe in Christ are saved, precisely because they have a living saving faith. It results in works not so that this faith can be quickened and thereby save them, but because the faith that saved them is alive. After all, it is belief in Christ that saves; therefore such a belief is born of faith that is alive, that works.
    You have caught yourself again, in your own words, showing that you Catholics work to make the faith come alive; we work because the faith we have is alive. So, works save in Catholicism, because they quicken the faith. (This is silly, but I speak as a man.) In the Truth, faith saves, because the kind of faith with which we believe in Christ (and are thereby saved) is the kind that works.

  24. “and as you said, it’s only because God is at work in us, enabling us, that we’re able to do this.”
    No. You, you are thinking “work for your salvation,” which it is foolish to do, because if God enabled you, then it would be possible to earn your salvation. But Scripture declares that by works of the Law shall no flesh be justified. You cannot work for your salvation. Well, you can, but you will not succeed. Work out your salvation, with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do His will. Now, start at Romans 4:1 until you reach Romans 5:1, at the very least.

    “Attempting to equate the two as identical shows a troubling ignorance of both.”
    Actually, if you check Matthew 23, you will see that Roman Catholics—according to the Apostolic Tradition, anyway, which is different from Roman Catholicism—you are the Pharisees.

    “Regardless of your own experience, not all those who believe in Christ act on that faith, and Scripture clearly refers to those who have faith and not love (1 Cor 13) and those who have faith and not works resulting from that faith (James 2) as having a worthless faith.”
    Believing in Christ makes you justified. Therefore, believing in Christ is having the faith that has love. It is not the love of St. Paul, St. Peter, or St. Barnabas, but the love of Christ. You, you expect that you will do your feeble works and thereby be commended by God as one “hath love” and therefore that you are not nothing. We who are justified because of Christ are deemed as having love (and it is why we are not nothing before God). Not because we are upright and we do not say to a brother “Racca!”—for we all like sheep have gone astray, and our sins like the wind carry us away; there is none righteous, no, not on; we have already asserted that we are all Roman Catholic and heathen under the curse of the Law—but we who will be justified will be justified because we believed. You do not understand: “love” is the summary of the law, which you failed to keep. Therefore you are nothing to God (unless, by Grace through faith, you are justified and treated as though you have 1 Cor 13 love). We survive because we believe.

    But woe to Roman Catholics, who see “if I have not love, I am nothing” and you rush to insert your filthy rags of works into that section, not realising that the only way you can be deemed to God to have loved is if you believe. You try to love—that is, to uphold all the commandments—by your own works. You wait, and tell me on that Day if you did well. “Be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” But how? By your works? We will see, on that Day. We, who are justified by Grace, will be told “you had 1 Cor 13 love”; but how? This is how: “He made Him who knew no sin to be Sin in our place, that we might be the Righteousness of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 is where that is from.
    You keep citing James 2, but it will stand up on that day and be the last to testify, because it said “Whoever breaks one law has broken all.” And you have not bothered to take refuge from the judgement that is certain to come, because you know that you have broken all the Laws and committed all sins (mortal and “small” alike).

    “I apologize for not answering: I didn’t realize you were being serious.”
    Everything I have asked has been to establish your position, where I was not sure. So it is strange to not answer the many, many questions, and then complain that you are being misunderstood and wrongly accused of holding anti-Jesus beliefs.

    “To get to the question you repeated on John 3:16, … The translation is perfect, as long as …”
    Therefore the translation is not perfect?

  25. “The translation is perfect, as long as you know what’s meant by “those who believe,” and don’t interpret it in a way that contradicts the rest of Scripture.”
    Yes, the rest of Scripture agrees with “whosoever believeth”. So you are saying that it is not whosoever believeth that will not perish?

    “You did that earlier, claiming that the only damnable sin was unbelief”
    And that it is. “Whosoever believeth shall not perish. … Whoever does not believe, God’s wrath remains on him.” Your words against my Bible; I have preferences.

    “That has unbelief, along with a whole litany of other mortal sins, as damnable.”
    Yes, and those are the ones for which He was punished in your stead. It is unbelief that opens you to having to pay the price for all other damnable sins yourself. Do you really not understand this? If you do not believe, you are punished for that one sin, and all the others, because unless you believe, you have broken all the Law. It is for unbelief that you are being made to carry your penalty.

    “Unbelief is simply thrown in the middle: nothing in the text suggests that the other mortal sins derive from unbelief.”
    They do not derive from unbelief. They are independent, but they are carried by you because you also carry unbelief amongst them.

    “… and blames them on disobedience, not unbelief.”
    Unbelief is disobedience. It is St. Paul who said “Believe and you shall be saved.” Do you obey?

    “And Hebrews 4:11 …”
    I have told you this before, but do you really not understand that the Rest is the Grace—a rest from works? You do not enter into the rest, and you remain working. Again, you have disobeyed, and God’s wrath remains on you.

    “… clearly warn believing Christians that if they fall into disobedience, they’ll imperil their souls.”
    As you did, and now you emperil your soul. If you disobey the belief-and-you-shall-be-saved, re-erecting the Law, so to speak, then you do emperil your soul, because you have fallen from Grace and made your justification dependent on you, not on Christ.

    “Rather, his sin was trying to buy the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
    Simon did believe (probably like you did, once), and then he relied on money, not on faith, to accede to the Holy Spirit, just as you Catholics rely on your feeble works to accede to the Holy Spirit, just as you Catholics relied on money to accede to the Holy Spirit in the days of Luther. For you Catholics and Simon, that is not faith, but works. Simon’s money is the equivalent of your works; you expect to buy into the gift of God, yet it is by faith, not your works. God’s wrath sits on you.

    “But if you interpret John 3:16 to mean that Christ saves the faithful, everything falls perfectly into place.”
    Yes. And another thing that falls into place is that you are not of the faithful. Repent and believe the good news.

    “Yes, Christ justifies the wicked… but that doesn’t mean we are to continue to be wicked, once justified.”
    Who asserted that?

    “So He saved us when we were dead: and because we were saved, we’re to be alive now, not dead.”
    Not “we are to be alive”; that is wrong, wrong, wrong. What is wrong with this generation? We are not to be alive. We are alive! We are alive! It is not in the future; it has happened! Not we are to be alive; but rather: we are alive. We have been made alive in Christ, not we are to be made alive in Christ!

  26. “We couldn’t bring ourselves to life, or justify ourselves, but now that we have been justified and brought to life …”
    By which faith? After all, your faith is only made alive by your works, which according to Roman Catholic doctrine, can only be good if you are under Grace. But you cannot be under Grace—having faith that saves—unless first you work; for by your working does the faith become alive and become a faith that saves.
    On this, you contradict yourself (and your Catechism) every other time you touch on it. Remember that you cannot have justification by faith, and also have works in there: if by faith, then not by works.
    How did you get justified before you did any works? Did you justification come before you did any works? If yes, you are a heretical Roman Catholic, and you may indeed already be ex-communicated even as you write defences for their doctrines. If not, then (according to you) we make our faith saving, therefore you contradict yourself above where you say “We couldn’t bring ourselves to life, or justify ourselves.”
    You say “… but now that we have been justified and brought to life …” but how? By just believing? Are you a Catholic? If by what we do, then have we been brought to life, or have we brought ourselves to life?
    I find it typical that Roman Catholics barely know (after too much exposure to making defence in the face of Grace fanatics) when they are transgressing the Church’s pronouncements; having forgotten that they need not justify their dissent from the Scriptures if they are good Catholics. But talking for long to my kind does that.

    “… we have a responsibility not to go back to our formal spiritual state.”
    Yes. Continue in faith. Continue in Grace. The works are not representative of the spiritual state. Indeed, if you care for Romans 7-8, you know that they are often opposed to it.

    “I’m cautious with treating faith as if it’s something which is the enemy of reason: it’s not.”
    Faith is not concerned with reason. Neither as enemies, nor as supports. I do not understand why people would take by faith what they take by reason. I did also have an exchange on another Catholic blog, over here.

    “Admittedly, the suprarational may sometimes appear irrational, but it’s not.”
    It is. Whatever is not rational is irrational. You people fear to say that God is irrational, because you have made “rational” a term of near-worship. But God is not bothered by your prevailing prejudices for the rational. It is okay for God to be irrational; because that just means that to us He stands beyond reason. There is nothing wrong with God being irrational, because that is from how we see things.

    “Contrary to what you assert, Logos means “logic” as well as “word,” ”
    Of course I know that, Mr. Heschmeyer. Greek is not yet really a dead language, you know. I just think it is distinctly dishonest of you (plural) to force that reading, which was meant to be as “word” into being “logic”, because the current age—drunk as it is on scientism and rationalism—would like to cast Jesus in the image of a Greek philosopher before it feels comfortable having faith in Him. What depravity.

    “As a Greek-speaker, John would have known what this word meant, and besides, there’s another Greek word that means only “word” which he deigns not to use.”
    You mean graphikos? I can think of no other. (Admittedly, my Greek needs some work.)

  27. “What we believe appears as folly to the Greeks, but it isn’t actually folly.”
    Actually, it literally is foolishness to the Greeks. It does not just appear as folly. And you Roman Catholics, having inherited the pagan idolatry and pride-in-the-intellect of the Greeks, are indeed the ones to whom what we say is foolishness. No wonder, then, that you have such trouble acceding to the Truth. It is foolishness to you. Look how you laughed at my citations of faith! Why don’t you re-read the 1 Cor 1:18-30 you are telling me to re-read? You mean Jesus only appears as a stumbling-stone to the Jews, but really isn’t? Have you bothered to reconcile that with Romans 9:30-10:4 and seen that you are wrong?

    “Paul’s showing that God surpasses human wisdom: that even if He seems irrational, He’s actually being rational in a way we’re too dumb to get.”
    Yes; and anything outside of our rationality is irrational. It is a foolish modern tendency—from which you suffer, being both a child of the modern West, and a Roman Catholic—to say that irrational is necessarily below the rational. If anything, God has chosen exactly such an irrationality to show His Wisdom; that is exalted even though also irrational.

    “In any case, it shows that true faith will never contradict true reason …”
    It can, and will. Faith will be irrational, and that is why it is faith, not reason. All that falls outside of reason is irrational. Start at Abraham, with his triple-infertility issue, and the subsequent belief that he would father nations.

    “Somehow, even in the over 6500 words worth of comments on this post, you barely addressed the subject of this post, which wasn’t about justification at all, but about how we can settle disputes when they arise.”
    I reply to you line-by-line. Perhaps you should blame someone else for that … over-sight? At any rate, the disputes are exactly meta to the question (and underline why you will have to rely on the faith you laugh at and deride, to your self-condemnation, whether you like it or not). How should we settle disputes about how we should settle disputes when they arise? (Feel free to make it as meta as is necessary. Also, feel free to laugh at yourself as much as you did me, when I cited simple, blind, gut faith.)

    “So simply believing one’s right doesn’t make it so …”
    It does not. But whoever will be right, it will be because one simply believed, and simply believed that he was right. There is no alternative. Because it is anathema among the Catholics for this to be the case, the Catholics are forever external to such truths. This is how you (plural) pay for your allergy to faith. Even so, laugh at me, until you come ‘round to seeing that this is true.

    “Need I explain that neither of these is a basis for Christian unity, either in theory or practice?”
    Wherever Christian unity is, it has been arrived at like this. Of course, Roman Catholics are external to it, so they are not included. This is for those who believe, who are not ashamed of faith, who embrace the power of faith, and who do not make fun of those who have faith. As for you, wait for an encyclical that tells you that encyclicals should be believed in. (There exists no such thing, at present; just a by-the-way.)

  28. “Christ promises the Church collective that the Holy Spirit will lead Her into all truth and all knowledge forever …”
    Which He did; it is how we know that we are justified by Grace through Faith, even as you have maintained that you are the Church, saying all along that we are justified by works through grace through faith which comes to life though works. The circularity, of course, is your problem, not mine.

    “… that the church at Rome may someday cease to be.”
    Not may. Will. The whole city of Rome will one day cease to have any macroscopic organisms in it.

    “Jesus prays, instead of for all Twelve Apostles, for Peter alone …”
    Because it was Peter whom the Devil had singled out.

    “… that is, he’s to shepherd even the other Apostles.”
    This was not for St. Peter alone. St. Paul did the most-important instance of shepherding, and it is preserved in Galatians 2.

    “… it’s obviously unsound to claim He doesn’t act by proxy, when He does so blatantly in places like Luke 10:16”
    I was referring to the Holy Spirit leading us into all truth. If you had bothered to answer the questions I asked, this would be obvious, and we would both have saved three paragraphs.
    Do you understand the encyclicals by proxy?

    “They’re geographically cut off from Rome, but are united with Her spiritually.”
    I hope they are not united with Her spiritually, because she is a liar, and she is dragging the Children of God down with her in her man-made traditions and perversions of Scripture, hiding the Grace by Faith from them, and instead making interminably-long lists about who handed over to who. As St. Paul said, in 1 Timothy 1:3-7, “Command [those] people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.” Are you listening, Roman Catholic Church?

    “The Copts call their highest bishop “the pope,” showing that they know that the pope exists”
    Come on; pope is a Latinate word for “father”, and it predates Christianity.

    “None of these Christian churches agree with you on justification …”
    There is a reason I am not in them, you know.

    “… the limits to the spread of the Gospel were technological limits, not a lack of faith.”
    Would that you had given the other communities a similar waiver, instead of condemning them all to Hell saying they were cowards. I see that in this case we relax the rules a bit, because God forbid that Rome not be the anti-cowardice.

    “There were Christian missionaries on every known continent …”
    The Turks, on the other hand, barely knew what the Christian story was. You rushed to South America to convert the natives, while the Maghreb remained without knowledge. Perhaps so much the better, because South America now is made of spiritual desperation, with people who know nothing about the Grace of God.

    “Prove it. Show me early Christians – after the Apostles and before the Reformers – who taught the things you’re claiming.”
    I do not go beyond the Apostles. They are the ones I read; not Luther, and not Augustine (even though these agree). I said the Scripture was always here, and we always acceded to it. For as long as it tarried, the Truth did, and all those who were justified were justified because they believe the good news. Nobody else is justified.

    “As a Catholic, I can show you individual Catholics who were proclaiming Catholic beliefs in every century from the time of Christ until today.”
    I can show you wrong people for every year since the time of Adam. I can show you heretics for every generation since Jesus. For the latest age, I only need say “Roman Catholic Church”.

    “Show me a group of Christians which rejected the priesthood …”
    I do not, myself. I rely on a high priest; God forbid that I reject His Priesthood.

  29. “And if you can’t do that, then you’re left with either saying that the Church failed or didn’t have all truth …”
    The Church never failed, because the truth was always here. The Scriptures were written outside of Rome, and we have always acceded to them. The many nameless people who St. Paul wrote to are “imaginary” by your standards, but those are members of the Church in which I am.

    “No more of this claiming to be “of the early Church” as you do, if you’re not going to back it up.”
    Does saying that I believe what St. Paul wrote allow me to say I am of the early Church? If not, why not? (I know you do not answer my questions; but if you do, beware that either answer you give to this will cause you to refute your claims to being a Roman Catholic.)

    “If you get serious about looking at how those who knew the Apostles understood what they were saying …”
    I have done research into it, actually, and the only uniform thing agreed on is that the letters were read out to a gathering. Now you tell me if Scripture is not meant to be perspicuous.

    “We don’t think that: we think much of Scripture is immediately accessible”
    And it is accessible to simple, blind, gut faith that you correctly understand what you are reading? Or do you have an encyclical stating that is the case? (You do not.) This encyclical, would you understand it in the same (gut faith that you understand it), or would you require an explanatory encyclical? If I say that you are wrong in thinking that scripture is immediately accessible, what then? Do you then appeal to an encyclical saying that much of Scripture is immediately accessible? By the way, your position here is opposed to the Roman Catholic position that no interpretation of scripture should be considered clear unless an encyclical declares it so.
    The problem, of course, is just shifted to the encyclicals. What if I, as a Catholic, disagree with all your understandings of the encyclicals?
    Are you still refusing to make room for understanding by simple, blind, gut faith, or have you conceded?

    “Do you think that all true believers come to the same conclusion on all important theological issues, and that all read Scripture the same way?”
    Yes, all arrive at the same conclusions. Yes, they all read it the same way.

    “If so, why have preachers?”
    To bring them to this correct conclusion. The Roman Catholic Church is an example of people who have too much history invested in being wrong, that even though we speak to them about these truths, they refuse. This is not because Catholics do not see the truth—you do, and it will be to your detriment if you keep disobeying—but because they are disobedient to the truth they see, this same Truth we all arrive at. There are not many ways to understand John 3:16—except if you are a Catholic, and the shame of the Cross is much too much to be assumed.

    “If a passage of Scripture can be read in one of two opposing ways, and the Church says “it’s this way, not that,” this is clearer.”
    You do not understand: it is the Church’s ruling that is not clear! I read Humane Vitæ, and I think it is a very florid way to allow late-term abortions. Do you agree? Is it perspicuous? Where shall we get an encyclical to clarify the encyclical?

    “Now, you’re right that individuals may still misunderstand the clarification, requiring further clarification, but that’s just a description of human communication.”
    Conceding a problem does not solve it.

  30. “Such is the Church’s dialogue with the faithful.”
    The dialogue is misunderstood. But that the problem still remains, as you agree it does, renders the earlier efforts little more than a feeble power-grab based on a teaching that glories more in the absence of faith than in the Truth that the Scripture can be understood, and is indeed understood. We, who believe, are all the Church, and the Spirit leads us into these truths. There is no need for a team of celibates to write more stuff which is self-contradictory, and which is itself far from clear.

    “You covered a lot of ground, and I’ve done my best to cover it all. If there’s anything I missed, let me know.”
    Would that you had answered the questions I asked. They are often to help me establish where you stand on issues where I am not sure.

    “I love you as a brother in Christ, even as you curse me as damned, and I eagerly desire for the day when we can share in the fullness of truth.”
    Actually, those who believe in salvation by Grace through Faith, apart from works of the Law, are under irrevocable anathemata from the Roman Catholic Church. Me, I just echo the words of John the Baptist: the wrath of God remains on you, because you have not believed in The Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sins of the World. You have instead chosen to believe in These Arms of Ours Which Take Away the Sins of the World. And you are thereby damned.
    Since you are a Roman Catholic, and there are all these anathemata against me, you sin against your Church if you call me a brother. As you (should) say for me, I say for you, after St. Paul: What does Christ have in common with Belial?

  31. Joe,
    27 refuses to look at any of the evidence you have given him.
    27
    I hope you reconsider and research at least the historical assertions that Joe has made. 27 you not only claim Joe is damned, but also every Christian that lived before the 1500’s. Because they believed the same thing Joe does.
    Seek and you shall find.
    Bill

  32. donn4bill;
    I do not assert that any Christians were damned before 1500. A follower of Christ—as opposed to a follower of whatever persons may spout that name—is not damned, by definition. Still, I do not maintain that the many who followed the old and wrong order are damned; I am not a Calvinist. Can you quote me? I do not (yet) believe that one can be damned for not doing what he did not know he should do. Your past age successfully hid the truth to a degree enough for most to have had no knowledge of it.
    This generation, however, knows the truth, and they still do not obey. They continue in disobedience, and the wrath of God remains on them.
    “Believe, you and your household, and you will be saved.”

    I consider the historical assertions of Joe; does he consider mine? He continues to say that the Popes can settle the issue for us, even when the Popes are the issue in consideration. He also rejects the simple, blind, gut faith that alone can survive this paradox. Does he consider my assertions, historical or logical? I think not.

  33. T27C,

    I’m noticing a few problems, which I’m hoping to solve in this comment. First and foremost, I’m fine with you coming on to this blog and telling me something I’ve said is wrong: frankly, I appreciate that. And I’m fine with you presenting your own views as an alternative. But what I’m not fine with is what I view as an arrogant tendency on your part to attempt to dictate to the Catholics here what it is that we believe as Catholics. I should hope that I would never be so rash as to assume I understood your beliefs better than you do. But certainly, if I should ever attempt to do that, I pray that I would do it with much more charity and a lot more evidence supporting my claims.

    Let’s consider a few of your most recent claims:
    (1) As you know, because I am not a Protestant, and I am wholly-external to the Roman Catholic history…
    This isn’t accurate, historically: even non-Protestant Christians split off from the Church, if you trace the series of schisms back far enough. If you want to contest this with your particular case, I’ll have to know more about you than you’ve shared so far, but I can tell you in advance that somebody’s spun you a story here. One of the advantages you have is that we Catholics are quite open about our faith: you can find all about Catholicism, through the lips of Catholics, in a whole litany of official Catholic documents. Because you’ve put yourself in the position of teaching us Catholicism, I expect you to rely upon these texts, as I would anyone claiming to teach Catholic doctrine.

    (2) You accept yourself as your saviour (if you are a Catholic), which is why you reject that that sentence is enough.
    Specifically, you claim that accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, by Grace through Faith isn’t sufficient within Catholicism. Yet both Fr. Joshua and I were referencing a Catholic document! What documentation can you provide to the contrary?

    (3) First, they equivocate on the word Grace. I mean it as charisma, which translates to “favour”. This is different from the invented equivocative meaning the Catholics use, which is “when your good works count to God.” So, you say “saved by Grace” when you mean “saved by being made to be in such a state that my good works count before God.” This is what your Catechism says. Really? Where in the Catechism does it say that? CCC 2003 actually defines Grace, and it’s the opposite.
    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2003.htm

    (4)I am certain that your works will never be good enough to justify you (where the Roman Catholics insist otherwise, they are wrong),
    Where do Catholics teach that works can merit justification?

    (5) You do not even know the Catholic doctrines you accuse me of not knowing. Learn this, then: in Roman Catholic doctrine, there is no such thing as good works, or “great works,” as you call them, that can possibly be done by one who rejects God.
    Where does the Catechism (or any other Catholic resource) teach this? Matthew 7:22 is quite clear here that many who call Jesus “Lord,” and perform miracles, etc., will still be damned.

  34. (6) Once justified … then works. So, you believe that one is justified apart from works of the Law? You are a heretical Catholic, and you have come under the same anathemata that Luther did. How can you make justification come before works? Doesn’t your doctrine warn against exactly such a teaching? Do you see what happens when you elide the Catholic teaching, so that you may agree with pseudonymous Grace fanatics on the Internet?
    This is the heart of your gross error. You keep claiming that initial justification is through our works. Where does Catholicism teach this, anywhere? And more specifically, where does Catholicism ever say justification (initial or subsequent) is through works of the Law? The Law referenced there is the Mosaic Law, you’ll recall. Does Catholicism teach the Mosaic Law is still in effect, or that it was fulfilled and perfected into something the Law could never achieve? See, for example, CCC 580, 1967, 2542, and 2543.

    Perhaps you’d like to point to the anathema you referenced: where does the Church declare anyone who believes in initial justification apart from works of the Law anathema? Since these as formal declarations, you shouldn’t have trouble finding this, if it’s real. Finally, do you seriously think I’m warping Catholicism to agree with you? Or did you just like how important you felt typing that? Because I think it’s pretty plainly disagree with a lot of what you’re saying, and have made no effort to disguise my disgust with the uncharitable manner in which you’ve presented your (and what you claim are my) views.

    (7)And you Roman Catholics disobey, because you try your feeble hands to deliver to God a fitting sacrifice, making it a part of doctrine that The Lamb of God Who Taketh Away the Sins of the World does not in fact do any such thing, and that it is our works of the Law that do.
    Where do we claim that sins can be taken away through anyone other than Christ? You and I disagree on the mechanism by which He takes away sins. As I see it, the controversy could be summed up like this: “will He eternally remove the sins of those who know He exists, and yet refuse to obey Him?” You say yes, and that it doesn’t matter if you believe in or practice sins like polygamy; Scripture says no.

    (8) You have caught yourself again, in your own words, showing that you Catholics work to make the faith come alive; we work because the faith we have is alive. So, works save in Catholicism, because they quicken the faith.
    Where do I, or any other Catholics, say that works quicken the faith? Certainly, we see that a saving, living faith has works, while a dead one doesn’t, but you say the same thing!

    (9) By which faith? After all, your faith is only made alive by your works, which according to Roman Catholic doctrine, can only be good if you are under Grace. But you cannot be under Grace—having faith that saves—unless first you work; for by your working does the faith become alive and become a faith that saves.
    Where are you getting any of this? The gross errors I see offhand: (a) you claim that Catholics teach you can’t do good works unless you’re under Grace; (b) that you can’t be under Grace unless you do enough works to merit justification, and (c) that works are what create a saving faith. Can you point to any Catholic documents teaching any of these three errors?

  35. (10) On this, you contradict yourself (and your Catechism) every other time you touch on it. […] How did you get justified before you did any works? Did you justification come before you did any works? If yes, you are a heretical Roman Catholic, and you may indeed already be ex-communicated even as you write defences for their doctrines.
    Where does the Catholic Church condemn this as heresy? This is the explicit teaching of the Catholic Church. CCC 2005, for example, says: “Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.” So is the Catholic Church going to excommunicate Herself?

    (11) If not, then (according to you) we make our faith saving, therefore you contradict yourself above where you say “We couldn’t bring ourselves to life, or justify ourselves.”
    This is the same error I mentioned above at least two other times, but feel free to address it here, since you made the claim over and over.

    (12) I find it typical that Roman Catholics barely know (after too much exposure to making defence in the face of Grace fanatics) when they are transgressing the Church’s pronouncements; having forgotten that they need not justify their dissent from the Scriptures if they are good Catholics. But talking for long to my kind does that.
    Where does the Catholic Church teach that it’s okay to dissent from Scriptures? And what Church pronouncements have I transgressed? At any point during this screed, did it occur to you that maybe the reason every Catholic you talked to seemed like they were contradicting Church teaching was because you don’t know what Catholic Church teaching really is, and don’t have the humility to patiently find out?

    (13) Whatever is not rational is irrational. […]All that falls outside of reason is irrational.
    According to what definition? What I’m showing is “not consistent with or using reason,” which is right. Suprarational beliefs are those which reason doesn’t disagree with, but which reason can’t reach on its own.

    (14) Would that you had given the other communities a similar waiver, instead of condemning them all to Hell saying they were cowards. I see that in this case we relax the rules a bit, because God forbid that Rome not be the anti-cowardice.
    I never claimed any Christian should have to invent new technology to explore parts of the world they didn’t know existed. Are you being serious here? There’s no double standard: Roman Catholicism is heavily evangelistic, and has over a billion members as a result. She’s obeyed the call from Christ – imperfectly, but She’s obeyed. You keep pretending there was some hidden group of invisible Christians who believed what you believe between the Apostles and the Reformers. I’m saying that (a) they don’t exist, and (b) if they did, they didn’t evangelize at all, because there’s not a single trace of them historically. What double standard do you see there?

    (15) I do not go beyond the Apostles. They are the ones I read; not Luther, and not Augustine (even though these agree).
    How can you claim Luther and Augusitne as support if you haven’t read them?

  36. All of the above claims require evidence, and none of the above claims have any. Before you go any further, can you support these claims you’ve made? One more, from your comment to Bill. You claim that I continue “to say that the Popes can settle the issue for us, even when the Popes are the issue in consideration.” Now, in re-reading my post, I notice that in a section I begin with the bold phrase “So here’s the standard, I explain that “if you want to know the truth, look at what the Church teaches, and has taught,” and then immediately note that you might not equate “the Church” with “modern Roman Catholicism ,” so feel free to look at the Church in an earlier age. The standard is explicitly not “look to the popes,” nor is the papacy referenced at any point in that “here’s the standard” paragraph,” or any of the paragraphs preceding it.

    Rather, my argument is that if you look to Christian writers of the third century, say, you’ll realize that they’re Catholic. I didn’t choose which ones you could look at: I left the field wide open, and encouraged you to point to any Christians who agreed with you between the Apostles and the Reformers since, as was established in this post, supra, true orthodoxy must have been practiced and proclaimed from the time of the Apostles forward. If you don’t feel comfortable with your ability proving that your faith is historic Christianity, just say so. But don’t pretend I’m demanding something I’m not.

    —–

    In fact, you come pretty close to admitting your faith isn’t historic Christianity, in acknowledging that “there’s a reason” you’re not in any of the Churches you pointed to as existing in the period of time we’re talking about (the Copts, Orthodox, etc.). So once more, and this is the last time I’m going to ask:

    A Do we agree that the Church, as City on a Hill, was an entity protected by the Holy Spirit (in at least some sense – we don’t have to agree on the specifics) throughout history?

    B If so, where do we see your church in history?

    It does no good to say, “But they had the Bible!” So do we. But we’re talking a community of faith, not a collection of God-breathed books, and I’m quite sure you grasp the difference.

  37. T37C,

    In retrospect, the paragraph beginning, “Perhaps you’d like to point to the anathema you referenced…” was snarky and uncharitable, and I’m sorry. I got frustrated and acted like less than a Catholic Christian towards you, and you deserve better as a son of God.

    Joe.

  38. Joe, yet again, very thorough analysis…these are the very reasons why protestantism is NOT logically and historically attainable.

    Peace and Grace,

    Jae

  39. Dear Mr. Heschmeyer;
    I have resolved to use more charity henceforth; certainly to try. So help me, God.
    But I am disturbed that you are making agreement with you the condition for debate. When I say that you are wrong about what it is that Catholics believe, I am saying that either you believe it, or you are not a Catholic. If you say I am wrong, you merely highlight the problem of which I spoke earlier: how shall we interpret what the interpretation says? I offer as my proof that you are wrong the fact that you said that Catholics believe they are “justified by Grace through Faith,” which is not true. You left off a crucial part of Roman Catholic soteriology: works. Without them, says the Roman Catholic Church, you are not saved. If you disagree, Mr. Heschmeyer, you are wrong, and you have come under the anathemata of which I spoke. If you point at the Catechism, well: it is your understanding of it that I disagree with, because it says that you are wrong. To make agreement with you on this the condition for debate is to say that I should use simple, blind, gut faith to accede to your understanding of it—which, at least earlier, you said was not allowed. I told you that you cannot flee the need for simple, blind, gut faith, even in the reading of a Catechism, or understanding a teacher thereof; so faced with my position (that your understanding is wrong), you have only one option, which you already disavowed, derided, and made fun of. This is the fate of all who reject the simple faith of Children; first here, then at the judgement. The Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach foolishness to the Greeks.

    “… even non-Protestant Christians split off from the Church, if you trace the series of schisms back far enough.”
    No; they have always been one with the Church. Some people did syncretise the message of Christ with their pagan (and, earlier, Judaistic) traditions, and it is they who split off the Church. They are no longer the Church of Christ; Roman Catholics are such a group. The rest of us have no relationship with Roman Catholics, just as Christ has no relationship with Belial.

    “Because you’ve put yourself in the position of teaching us Catholicism, I expect you to rely upon these texts …”
    Yes, I have relied a lot (in the past) on the Catholic Encylpædia. I avoid reading it these days, but I expect that since we both share the 66 books, we can both use those. I will rely, also, on your saying that “no Roman Catholic document opposes that doctrine,” and take that as authoritative, in the questions where I indicate that such an answer will settle it. This is why it is important to answer the questions I ask.

    “Yet both Fr. Joshua and I were referencing a Catholic document! What documentation can you provide to the contrary?”
    The rest of the Roman Catholic canon is what I provide, which includes the anathemata against this position: one is justified by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ, apart from the works of the Law; can you state that you are for it? If you are, say now that “The Roman Catholic Church is not opposed to that doctrine.” Then I can show you that you are a heretic to them, even as I am.

  40. “CCC 2003 actually defines Grace, and it’s the opposite.”
    Your problem is with places like paragraph 2010: “Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” Emphasis mine. This is wrong, because you cannot work for—merit for yourself—Grace. Am I wrong to call them word-games, when you say “Grace” and “work for” in the same sentence?
    You said that I was wrong to say that Roman Catholics say “saved by Grace” when you mean “saved by being made to be in such a state that my good works count before God.” But look at paragraph 2016. “The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.” Was I wrong?
    You said that I was wrong to tie Roman Catholic soteriology to works; in the same breath, you said that the faith of which the Roman Catholics speak is that which is made saving by the works we do; so that it not be a dead faith that does not save. Was I wrong to call them word-games, when you say “saved by faith,” when you meant “saved by faith and works”? This is why Fr. Joseph wanted to find out which of the two and-works positions I held, assuming that I would go with the Lutheran works-as-proof, versus the synthetic works-as-in-working-faith of the Roman Catholics.
    The same Catechism says that the sacraments are necessary, done under grace. Does the Code of Canon Law count for my position? (You should understand that I, probably unlike you, consider contradictions to exist in the Roman Catholic canon; and this can be resolved by sola fide.)

    “Where do Catholics teach that works can merit justification?”
    See above.
    But this reminds me to ask you: do you believe that sanctification is necessary for justification? If you answer this question, at least, then I can know where you stand on what.

    “Where does the Catechism (or any other Catholic resource) teach this?”
    See above. In particular: “… the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.”

    “Matthew 7:22 is quite clear here that many who call Jesus “Lord,” and perform miracles, etc., will still be damned.”
    Yes; Roman Catholics who reject the message are of that number. They chant Lord, Lord, we do all these good works, but they place their trust in their feeble works, and they will surprised how high the standard is, when their filthy rags do not make it in. Only Christ’s works make it in, and they do not believe in those to count on their behalf—chants of Lord, Lord notwithstanding.

    “You keep claiming that initial justification is through our works. Where does Catholicism teach this, anywhere?”
    So you agree that one is justified by Grace, through faith, apart from the works of the Law? I want a straight answer to this, just once.
    Now, I notice that you said “initial justification”. I mean “justification”, not “initial justification”. You put the initial there, because you know what your doctrines say about justification.
    Yet even for initial justification, you require works, because you cannot have faith that has no works and still be saved. Do you disagree with this?

  41. “And more specifically, where does Catholicism ever say justification (initial or subsequent) is through works of the Law?”
    In every instance where there is a work the doing of which is a damnable offence, apart from not believing. Should I dredge these out? The very existence of a confessional formula from which follows “I absolve you from your sins” is one of the daily reminders to Catholics out in the real World that they are not justified by faith, but by works (this trip to the confessional being one such). Pope John Paul II, of venerable memory (nobody will stop me liking these two recent Popes, even though I disagree with them so viciously), said that confessing one’s sins made one renewed in fervour, because he was then set right with God; implying that Jesus lied when He said “It is finished!”, that the whole Epistle to the Hebrews is a lie. Mr. Heschmeyer, do you know what the Roman Catholic Church teaches its followers? (And this being the comment of hat-tips to my favourite Catholic priests: Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa was absolutely awesome in the Advent Mass series of 2005-2006. Humane Vitæ is absolutely awesome for recognising birth control for the unfortunate mistake it is—however convenient. Catholic moral codes are good; would that they were not coupled to justification, because then they further the lie that we are justified by works, yet we are not. You too, Mr. Heschmeyer, are absolutely awesome for hosting so exasperating a debate with good cheer and gentle conduct, and for making me realise the nice abbreviation of my otherwise-cumbersome moniker; T27C. Catholics are great; it is their lying doctrines—when they dare appropriate the name of Jesus Christ—that I cannot stand. May God hasten the day these lies are rubbed off the Earth.)
    Roman Catholics lie that we are justified by works of the Law, by saying that without them, we are not justified. They make works the active salvific ingredient. Are you saying that this is not true?
    The very doctrine of mortal sins is exactly out of place for believers, because if one believes, “he has passed from judgement to life.” But you Roman Catholics say that Jesus lied, and for that you condemn yourselves, being too ashamed of this lowly truth—we are justified by faith, apart from works of the Law—and being intimidated by the fools—typically fellow Roman Catholics—who say “Ah, so you are encouraging sin now, eh?”

    “The Law referenced there is the Mosaic Law, you’ll recall.”
    Come on, Roman Catholics have “Thou shalt not covet.” Insofar as you veer from the Mosaic Law, your laws are not binding, and are the feeble traditions of men, and should not be binding to anyone. Insofar as they are in agreement with the Mosaic Law, they fall under that truth: by the works of the Law, shall no flesh be justified.

    “Does Catholicism teach the Mosaic Law is still in effect …”
    Catechism, paragraph 2033: “Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men.” I agree with them on that, by the way; I disagree on this: failure to live a moral life does not condemn one, if one believes.

    “… or that it was fulfilled …”
    It was fulfilled. Jesus does not lie; the Popes do so perpetually. If they do not maintain that it was fulfilled, they lie.

    “… and perfected into something the Law could never achieve?”
    Who asserted that? (I am not sure I even understand it.)

    “Perhaps you’d like to point to the anathema you referenced: where does the Church declare anyone who believes in initial justification apart from works of the Law anathema?”
    You do not give any binding credit to the pronouncements of Diet of Worms? The ensuing papal Bull (name slips); do you not treat it as binding?

  42. “Finally, do you seriously think I’m warping Catholicism to agree with you?”
    No; I think you are a heretical Catholic.

    “You and I disagree on the mechanism by which He takes away sins.”
    But there is only one “mechanism”, as you call it; and if not by works, then by faith.

    “As I see it, the controversy could be summed up like this: “will He eternally remove the sins of those who know He exists, and yet refuse to obey Him?” You say yes, and that it doesn’t matter if you believe in or practice sins like polygamy”
    Not who knows He exists, but rather, He justifies those who believe that He died for their justification. This belief is the obedience He requires, so it is impossible to believe and not obey. This stuff that you say of “know He exists, and yet refuse to obey Him” just points to your assertion that believing is not enough; and that is wrong. I do not say that we should not obey Him: can you quote me? (And my stuff, though long, is not anywhere near the size of the Catechism. So, find that evidence!)
    And, yes, you can—nay, will—practice sins and still be justified before God. This is the point of Jesus Christ. You single out “polygamy”, because of the Catholic idea of “big sin, small sin”. But I tell you now: you—Mr.Heschmeyer—commit polygamy every time you surf the Internet. You—Mr. Heschmeyer—commit mass murder every time you are angry with people (every week). You—Mr. Heschmeyer—commit all sins (blasphemy, sodomy, simony, heresy) every time you commit just one (which you do, all the time). But if you believe, you are still justified before God. St. Paul says: “If righteousness could be gained by works of the Law, Christ died for nothing.” And also: “For if a law had been given [Catholic or otherwise —T27C] by which righteousness could come, then righteousness would have come through that Law. But Scripture insists that none is righteous, so that what was promised, being given through Jesus Christ, may be given to all who believe.” And also, “The Law was given to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The injunction against sin—polygamy not being numbered among those sins, by the way—was given not so that in not doing bad you may be justified. This is the opposite of what you assert above in what I quote. You are wrong.

    “Where do I, or any other Catholics, say that works quicken the faith?”
    Have you already forgotten what you wrote just above, in this same page? “The truth is, those who believe in Christ need to act on that faith for it to be a living, saving faith.” That is where you said that works quicken the faith. Like I said, you caught yourself in your own words.

    “(a) you claim that Catholics teach you can’t do good works unless you’re under Grace; … Can you point to any Catholic documents teaching any of these three errors?”
    Do you know nothing of your Catechism? See above. And if you just disregard that the paragraphs 2025 and 2026 contradict each other in the Catechism (“Man’s merit is due to God. … Charity is the principal source of merit in us before God.”), you can see that paragraph 2027 says that, emphasis mine, Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.” Earlier on (it’s been long since I read this; I cannot find the place) it emphasises that the Holy Spirit is given to those under Grace. So, according to it, we get under grace, and are moved by the Holy Spirit, to merit for ourselves the graces needed to attain eternal life.
    May God hasten the day these lies are no longer taught. How horrible a perversion of the Truth! The Truth: “It is by Grace you have been justified, though faith—and that not of yourselves, but of God—that none may boast before Him.” Amen.

  43. “(b) that you can’t be under Grace unless you do enough works to merit justification”
    Is there an alternative? After all, is it by faith—to you a dead faith, as it were, since it lacks works—that you are justified? Have you forgotten what you wrote just above?

    “(c) that works are what create a saving faith.”
    Have you forgotten what you wrote just above? Need I quote you again? “The truth is, those who believe in Christ need to act on that faith for it to be a living, saving faith.” That is what you said; and I see no way for you to redefine words and work your way out of that. At any rate, you will have the Roman Catholic Church to fight, if you do.

    “We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.”
    It contradicts itself when, elsewhere, it says: “From the Church he learns the example of holiness and recognizes its model and source in the all-holy Virgin Mary.” People are taught to learn this example, and strive towards it, for their “eternal life”. Now, that the Roman Catholic Church does not give them any assurances that they have arrived there is not my problem, but Hers, and it is wrong. Those who believe can know that they have arrived; that they have passed from judgement to life—because they believe. (I think the Calvinists are wrong on this, as well. At least John Calvin was.) It is precisely because, relying on works, you cannot know that you are saved that Jesus came (“Whosoever believeth shall not perish … It is finished.”), and that Hebrews was written (“Let us enter boldly to the Throne of Grace”). St. John wrote: “These things we write to you, that you may know that you have eternal life.” St. Paul wrote: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Do not be deceived. Our Lord said, “I come that ye might have peace, and peace more-abundantly.”

    “… feel free to address it here, since you made the claim over and over.”
    You said that “The truth is, those who believe in Christ need to act on that faith for it to be a living, saving faith.” Need to act. For it to be a saving faith. That is; need to act, or the faith does not save. Nope; you are wrong. We are justified by faith, apart from works of the Law. You works of the Law add nothing to justification by faith.

    “Where does the Catholic Church teach that it’s okay to dissent from Scriptures?”
    By teaching that they are not infallible; only the Pope and Councils are. That no understanding of them is infallible, except that of the Pope and the Councils. By teaching that Scripture is not inerrant. By teaching that no passage should be considered perspicuous to you. (I assume you are not the Pope.) For all you know, Roman Catholicism is virulently opposed to your understanding of the Scriptures; you (as a Roman Catholic) are not required to tie the Church to Scripture.

    “And what Church pronouncements have I transgressed?”
    You said that justification comes before works. You transgressed the above-quoted part that says that you have to have the graces with which you can earn merits for eternal life. You are saying that the merits are not necessary.
    Like I said, I can grant you that you did not mean that, in which case you would be wrong, and opposed to the Truth.

  44. “… you don’t know what Catholic Church teaching really is …”
    What it really is? Perhaps behind all this earning of merits necessary for eternal life, there really is an implication that we are justified by Grace, through Faith, apart from the works of the Law? Mr. Heschmeyer, will you await an encyclical to fix this problem? Or will you concede to being the one who was wrong, for saying “justification … then works”. I grant that the Catechism does contradict itself; so which side do you fall on? If justification before works, I can show you where it opposes you. If justification after works, I can show you where Scripture opposes you. If both, then only by simple, blind, gut faith; which you disavowed already, as a guide to truth. (If eternal life is not tied bijectively to justification, whoever so maintains is wrong according to Scripture; the Catechism seems to contradict itself even on this one.)

    “Whatever is not rational is irrational. […] All that falls outside of reason is irrational.
    According to what definition?”

    According to the axioms of logic. Since irrational is the negation of rational, then irrational means not-rational. Rational, as you know, is the Latinate root word for the Celtic-Gaulic equivalent: reason/raison. So, unreasonable is irrational.

    “Suprarational beliefs are those which reason doesn’t disagree with, but which reason can’t reach on its own.”
    There is nothing that reason cannot reach that reason does not disagree with. As the ancients have said, “Whatever can follow from the axioms will.” Take the Trinity, for example. Fearing to have faith, in the absence of reason, it has been cast as what you call “suprarational”. What comedy; the Trinity is irrational—because it violates the P ∨ ¬P axiom—but that is okay, because what God is should not have to satisfy sceptical 21st-century apes before it is true.

    “I’m saying that (a) they don’t exist …”
    They do. Where you are correct is that they are—as you put it, at least—“invisible”. We had no city and no polity over which we had power. Often, indeed, we were dissidents too few to be of historical import.

    “if they did, they didn’t evangelize at all, because there’s not a single trace of them historically.”
    They did evangelise. In fact, one thing I hate about the Reformation is that it made Grace by Faith a European message tied to Roman Catholicism, just because it is Europe which was later to spring forth into the World with might and preaching. So people have seen this message in light of a city that will not exist in a very short time; this is sad.
    There were always Christians who believed that justification is by Grace, through Faith, apart from works of the Law. Their visibility or technological might, I cannot vouch for. But, like I said, I stop at the Apostles, and, under instructions, do not bother myself with “endless genealogies and myths, which promote controversies, instead of the work of God—which is by faith.” It’s time—seriously, It Is Time—people took that injunction seriously, and obeyed. (The Protestants, in fact, show their unhealthy obsession with Catholicism by knowing most such genealogies better than Catholics can, because the Catholics do not even know who the Antipopes were. But what does Christ have in common with Belial? Touch no unclean thing.)

  45. “How can you claim Luther and Augusitne as support if you haven’t read them?”
    I have read them. But I do not read them; see above. There is more in the New Testament than we can uncover in a lifetime. Let us—since It Is Time—not waste time on those bickering about. Yet as a by-the-way, I was struck very recently by how much modern writing owes to St. Augustine, even just to City of God. Then again, he was a rhetoric teacher. Still, if I need support, I need not go further than John 3.

    “Rather, my argument is that if you look to Christian writers of the third century, say …”
    This is what is under debate, just as I said. I say: you need look no further than the first century.

    “If you don’t feel comfortable with your ability proving that your faith is historic Christianity, just say so.”
    If you don’t feel comfortable with your ability to prove that St. Paul was very Catholic, just say so. Matthew 16:23 may, of course, help you understand why it is possible to be Catholic and wrong, which is why I consciously avoid the endless genealogies and myths which promote debate but not the work of God, which is by faith. I am quoting 1 Timothy 1:3-7, here. The obsession with genealogies makes this whole Catholic business very suspect and, as Jesus said, “you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” The concerns of God are: faith. This is why I like the Apostles. The concerns of the Roman Catholic Church are human concerns.

    “Do we agree that the Church, as City on a Hill, was an entity protected by the Holy Spirit.”
    Yes, it was preserved, to this day. City on a Hill … I do not want to go into why that would disqualify the early Church, just so it can prop up Roman Catholicism. In fact, that City on a Hill was to the Jews (hence why the chapter ends, Matthew 5, ends with a reference to pagans and Gentiles). Jesus lay out the law as He would judge it, anticipating St. Paul: “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.” And because the Roman Catholics use this Matthew 5 chapter a lot, it will stand up on that day and condemn every single one of them who cited it, because they were neither a city on a hill, and when they were seen, they were Sin.

    “If so, where do we see your church in history?”
    They wrote the New Testament, which tarries with us today. They proclaimed Grace, through Faith, apart from works of the Law, and this Truth tarries with us today.

    “It does no good to say, “But they had the Bible!” So do we.”
    Yes; but we had the Truth, and you do not. It is the having of the Truth that makes us the Church.

    “… you deserve better as a son of God.”
    According to the Roman Catholic Church, I am not a son of God. Ex cathedra, nulla salus—which is true—and by “cathedra” they mean the Roman Catholic Church. I am not of it.

    I half-expected that there would be vigorous attacks on my attacks on Roman Catholic positions regarding the reason-faith debate; but I am also half-glad that this did not happen, as it would cause us to dwell on what is likely an off-tangent issue.

  46. T27C,

    I wrote a new post summarizing the view of the Cathechism and Trent. It’s the opposite of what you claim is the Catholic view: they say God justifies the wicked, that nothing we do can ever merit justification, which is the free gift of God, and so on.

    For what it’s worth, you’re wrong on extra Ecclesiam nulla salus as well (and I don’t just mean your Latin, although what you wrote – “from the chair, there is no salvation” – is your own view, I think). Whereas for justification, you claim that Catholicism condemns as heresy the very view She holds, here you do the opposite: the view you present as the Catholic one (namely, that all outside of visible union with Rome are damned) is a heresy known as Feeneyism. So I can say with no fear of condemnation: in Christ our Brother,

    Joe.

  47. Hello, Mr. Heschmeyer;

    I have been missing for a bit, and may continue to so be for a short time. (Celebrate!) I cannot have quoted you the Catechism, and you say both that I am wrong, and that you are not a heretic. Read this, from the Catechism:
    “The term “merit” refers in general to the recompense owed …
    … we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”

    If that is not works, which country you from? “What” ain’t no country I ever heard of. They speak English in “What”? English, Mr. Heschmeyer, do you speak it? So you know what I’m saying? Describe what works looks like. (Or, maybe, eternal life and justification are not linked from the Roman Catholic view? You may have to answer this, so I know.)
    You read the Bible, Mr. Heschmeyer? There is this verse I memorised.
    I will use St. Paul, in my turn (keep in mind the paragraph 2006 of the Catechism):
    “No to one who works, the wages are not a gift, but an obligation. But to he who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness.”

    I shall be back to interact with the new post to which you refer.
    Yes, indeed, my Latin was atrocious. Peccavi. In my defence, there is nothing that even borders the austere beauty of Latin on my side. As it were, extra Ecclessiam non latina.

    That you say Feeneyism is not true is yet another instance of self-contradiction right in the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church. As it were, a rejection of it implies that heretics are not damned; that anathemata are not indeed what the Popes say they are. That the logical conclusion of nulla salus is rejected, with resultant inconsistency, is hardly my problem; is it?
    Mr. Heschmeyer, do you know why we do not take logically-trivial theories—even logically-trivial theological theories—seriously? (Especially when they achieve such a position by being rigidly anti-fideism, as is the case with Roman Catholicism?)

  48. Your “quotes” from the Catechism are partial sentences that aren’t faithful to what’s being said at all. You pull these two, and claim that they teach we earn our justification. Yet the sentence following your first quote says God never owes us anything by our own merit, and the sentence before the second quote says we can’t merit initial justification. I don’t know how you could have missed this.

    And if you didn’t, then it seems you’re intentionally skewing the Catechism’s picture of justification in order to have a straw-man opponent to beat up. I have no interest in helping you there. If you’re not genuinely interested in understanding what Catholics believe, I don’t see any benefit to this for either of us.

    For the alleged contradiction you talk about, I’ve discussed that before. Here, for example: http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2010/08/salvation-outside-of-church.html
    In short, there’s no contradiction. Christ set up a visible Church, the Catholic Church, yet some are saved who aren’t consciously or juridically members of that Church, just as some Psalm 87 says of those faithful Gentiles who die as Jews in the sight of God, even though they view themselves as Egyptians and Philistines and Cushites.

    Had you asked how these two things made sense together, I could have just told you. Instead, you’ve once again fired off an unfounded accusation which was quickly dispelled. I don’t know why you persist in thinking you know more about Catholicism than everyone else.

    Finally, on a lighter note, when General Sir Charles James Napier was head of the British forces in India, he was ordered to suppress a rebellion. Contrary to his orders, he proceeded to conquer the entire Sindh Province in modern-day Pakistan. He then telegraphed to London: Peccavi, or in English, “I have sinned/Sindh.” In a single word, he at once “apologized” and thumbed his nose. Clever chap.

  49. “Your “quotes” from the Catechism are partial sentences that aren’t faithful to what’s being said at all.”
    I wanted to make a single sentence, to show the absurdity of thinking they even agree. I put ellipses there, to indicate they were partial quotes. They are from the same section; the one on Merit.

    “Yet the sentence following your first quote says God never owes us anything by our own merit, and the sentence before the second quote says we can’t merit initial justification.”
    Need I post the whole self-contradicting thing here for you? You, you know where to find the contradictions, as you just showed.

    “I don’t know why you persist in thinking you know more about Catholicism than everyone else.”
    No; I just know a contradiction when I see one. If nulla salus is true, then Feeneyism is true. If either of them is true, while another is wrong, then there is a contradiction. You also rejected the only solution to such cases, so I can confidently say you are contradicting yourself when I see such a case.
    The Psalm of David is not a product of Roman Catholicism, which is straddled with the many traditions of men and the attendant delusions of grandeur.
    For example, you tell me how non-Catholics can be saved, according to Catholicism, and I will show you where it says those same ones are not saved, according to Roman Catholicism.

    Had you asked for a way to resolve your dilemma, I could have just told you. Instead, you once again fired off a typical defence of Catholicism that at the same time fights Catholicism. I don’t know why you persist in defending the stiff-necked lie.

    On a lighter note, I sometimes see the length of my comments, and wish we were forced to comment via telegram. FORGOT TO MENTION OTHER FAVOURITE CATHOLICS STOP THE AFRICAN MARTYRS OF UGANDA STOP AFRICA OWES ITS KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST TO CATHOLICS STOP EVEN THOUGH NOT ITS KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH 4 THEY DO NOT HAVE IT STOP

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