Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

Masaccio, Baptism of the Neophytes (1425)

Do we need to be baptized to be saved? Catholics say yes, while acknowledging that certain cases exist in which water baptism is impossible, and a person is still saved, like the good thief on the cross. In other words, even if it’s possible that someone may be saved without receiving water baptism, we need to be baptized to be saved. You know about the necessity of baptism (if you didn’t before, you do now!), and have the opportunity to be baptized.

Many Protestant denominations disagree with that answer. Ironically (given their name), Baptists are the most vocal opponents of this view of baptism. In their view, Baptism doesn’t actually do anything. It doesn’t wash away our sins; it doesn’t incorporate us into the Church, the Body of Christ; it doesn’t bring us into the New Covenant; and it certainly doesn’t save us. Instead, Baptism is just a symbol of the fact that we’re already saved. It’s a “testimony” of our salvation, to let everybody know we’re saved.

There are plenty of debated doctrines within Christianity in which an honest reader is left seeing both sides of the issue You might come to the conclusion that X is the right answer, but you can at least see where the people who support Y are coming from, and which Bible verses might lend support to Y.

That’s hard to do on this question. The Baptist view simply isn’t found in Scripture. There aren’t any verses that speak of Baptism as merely symbolic, and there are several that teach the exact opposite. The Old Testament is replete with prefigurements of the Holy Spirit’s role in saving us in Baptism. For example:

  • The Spirit hovering over the waters at the dawn of the world (Genesis 1:2) 
  • Noah’s Ark, in which salvation came through water, as 1 Peter 3 reminds us, and in which a dove crosses the water to show that the Flood is over (Gen. 8:11).
  • The parting of the Red Sea, in which salvation once again came from passing through water, and which St. Paul would later call a kind of baptism (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).
  • The Mosaic Law, which used ritual washing as a way of signifying cleansing from sins.
  • Naaman’s healing in 2 Kings 5, in which a skeptical leper is healed by submerging himself in the waters. He initially objects at the seeming foolishness of a miraculous cleansing through waters (2 Kings 5:11-12).

And the New Testament, as we’ll see, has several passages explicitly describing Baptism in the way that the Catholic Church claims. But perhaps the clearest way to see how well the Baptist case holds up is simply to present it side-by-side with Scripture. Now, I’m using the case laid out by Baptist Distinctives. If you think this overlooks some important argument, I’ll gladly add it. With that in mind, let’s compare the Baptist claims about Baptism with what the Bible teaches:

The Baptist Claim The Bible
Question 1. Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
Claim: Baptists believe that the Bible teaches that baptism is important but not necessary for salvation. [….] Baptists believe that the Bible teaches that baptism symbolizes that a person has been saved and is not a means of salvation.
Truth: Scripture explicitly tells us that for salvation we need both faith and baptism (Mark 16:16), and that baptism saves us (1 Peter 3:21).
Mark 16:16,He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
1 Peter 3:18-22, For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
Question 2. What did St. Peter says about Baptism in his Pentecost Sermon?

Claim: In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter urged those who had repented and believed in Christ to be baptized, not that baptism was necessary for salvation but as a testimony that they had been saved (Acts 2:1-41).
Truth: Nowhere in Peter’s Pentecost sermon does he say anything about Baptism being a “testimony” that his listeners “had been saved.” Instead, he tells them it’s (a) for the forgiveness of sins, (b) imparts the Holy Spirit, and (c) saves them. 

Acts 2:37-38, Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” 
Question 3. Does Baptism Wash Away Sins?
Claim:For example, the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43), Saul on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-18) and the people gathered in Cornelius’ house (Acts 10:24-48) all experienced salvation without the necessity of baptism. [….] Baptism is not a means of channeling saving grace but rather is a way of testifying that saving grace has been experienced. It does not wash away sin but symbolizes the forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ.
Truth: St. Paul doesn’t claim that his sins were washed away on the road to Damascus. Rather, as his own conversion story attests, Baptism does wash away sins (Acts 22:16):
Acts 22:6-16, As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me.  And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ And when I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. 


“And one Anani′as, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And in that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Just One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

As you can see, these passages of the Bible just don’t say what the Baptist side is claiming that they say. Frequently, they say the exact opposite. I want to focus on one verse in particular, Mark 16:16. It’s after the Resurrection, and Jesus is sending His Apostles out to go “and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). And He says this to the Apostles as He is sending them out: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Catholics claim that you need faith and Baptism to be saved. Jesus just said you need faith and Baptism. That settles it, right? Not quite. Here’s how Matt Slick of CARM attempts to salvage the Baptist position, in light of Mark 16:16:

This verse is frequently used by baptismal regenerationists to show that baptism is necessary for salvation. It says he who believes and is baptized will be saved. Therefore, they conclude that baptism is a necessary part of becoming saved. But, does this verse prove that baptism is necessary for salvation? Not at all. 

Mark 16:16 does not say that baptism is a requirement for salvation. Let me show you why. I could easily say that he who believes and goes to church will be saved. That is true. But it is belief that saves–not belief and going to church. Likewise, if you believe and read your Bible, you’ll be saved. But it isn’t reading your Bible that saves you. Rather, belief in Christ and in His sacrifice is what saves.

Stop and think about this exegesis for a second. Imagine that Jesus really is teaching that belief is all you need to be saved, and that Baptism isn’t necessary for salvation. Can you imagine a worse way to present that than “He who believes and is baptized will be saved”? If the second condition is unnecessary, why did Jesus include it at all? Why in the world wouldn’t He just say “He who believes will be saved”?

In Slick’s analysis, the clause “and is baptized” is meaningless. It adds nothing to the verse. According to this view, the verse means the exact same thing whether that clause is in or out, or whether it’s replaced with any other condition-that’s-not-really-a-condition like reading your Bible or going to church… or, for that matter, anything. Jesus could just as well have said, “He who believes and is left-handed will be saved,” and it wouldn’t matter, since the second condition is just a red herring that has nothing to do with our salvation.

Even Slick doesn’t actually seem particularly convinced by this slick exegesis. He spends most of the rest of the article suggesting that maybe the last part of the Gospel of Mark shouldn’t be considered Scripture.

Confusing Cause and Effect

Imagine that you have a job interview, and the interviewer ends by saying, “If your references check out, and you have five years of job experience, the job is yours.” The interviewer’s just laid out two prerequisites for your securing the position. If you were to take the equivalent of the Baptist view on Baptism, you would understand this to mean that as long as you have good references, you’ve got the job. Then, once you get the job, you can get those five years of job experience.

That interpretation is clearly mistaken. And the mistake is this: the five years’ experience is presented as a prerequisite to your goal, whereas you’re treating it as a result of your goal.

That’s what’s going on with this Baptism question. Baptist Distinctives claims that “baptism symbolizes that a person has been saved and is not a means of salvation” just as Matt Slick believes that “Baptism is simply a public demonstration of the inner work of regeneration.” In other words, after you’re saved, you get baptized. They’re treating it as a result of your salvation, where Jesus describes it as a prerequisite.

While we’re on the subject, permit me a small aside. Mark 16:16, as we’ve seen, presents two prerequisites for salvation: faith and Baptism. Baptists treat one of these, Baptism, as if were actually a consequence of salvation. Calvinists fare worse: they treat both conditions as if they were consequences of salvation. The Westminster Confession of Faith teaches:

As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

The Calvinist view can be summed up this way: from the dawn of time, God divided humanity into two groups: the elect and the reprobate. The elect will be saved, no matter what. The reprobate will be damned, no matter what.

But in this case, the elect’s salvation doesn’t occur at the moment that they’re baptized, or even the moment that they come to faith. Rather, both their faith and their Baptism are the results of God’s eternal decree of salvation. At the very least, at the moment that Christ died for them, this made it impossible for them to go to Hell, according to the (faulty) logic of Limited Atonement. But whether you view the relevant date as 33 A.D. or all eternity, it was well before the lifetime of the believer. There was no moment in which they were, in any meaningful sense, “unsaved.”

So we can contrast the three views like this:

That’s what makes this question in Mark 16:16 so critical. It provides a clean contrast between what Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church teach about the prerequisites for salvation, and what’s taught by the Baptists and Calvinists. And the result of our examination is that yes, contrary to what some Protestants believe, Scripture teaches that Baptism is necessary for salvation.

221 Comments

  1. “I don’t know how you imagine a shipwreck”

    I grew up with Titanic, now that’s a ship wreck! I suppose I took what St. Siricius said and resumed (perhaps wrongly) that things like “ship wreck” and “attack by enemies” were present dangers. Being that, as I already shown, that baptism by desire is already Catholic doctrine, my whole argument does not hinge upon an interpretation of what this one man said.

    St. Ambrose wrote, “But I hear that you are distressed because he did not receive the sacrament of baptism. Tell me, what attribute do we have besides our will, our intention? Yet, a short time ago he had this desire that before he came to Italy he should be initiated [baptized], and he indicated that he wanted to be baptized as soon as possible by myself. Did he not, therefore, have that grace which he desired? Did he not have what he asked for? Undoubtedly because he asked for it he received it.”

    “The Good Thief’s name is St. Dismas.”

    Oops, didn’t know that.

    “You misunderstand the verse. Scripture does not contradict itself:
    James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

    I have a very long response to James 2:24. You have not responded to my exegesis, but instead brought up new points that did not address my exegesis. I think that is called a non sequitur? So, until you actually exegete what James 2:24 means in light of Hebrews 11, you have not proved a point.

    “You’re mistaken. St. Paul is simply saying that we do not save ourselves by works apart from faith…’the doers of the law shall be justified.'”

    I say this with love, but I think you are missing something. Christ fulfilled the Law. We are doers of the Law by having faith in Christ, because the Law (and the Prophets) says “The just man lives by faith” (Hab 2:4).

    This is the interpretation of the early Church. St. Ambrose writes:

    “For the law is not by faith, but the just man lives by faith. Galatians 3:11 Therefore, faith, not the law, makes a man just, for justice is not through the law, but through the faith of Christ. But he who casts aside his faith and pleads for that the claims of the law, bears witness that he is himself unjust; for the just man lives by faith” (On Giving Up the Basilicas).

    Augustine writes, “It is by grace that any one is a doer of the law; and without this grace, he who is placed under the law will be only a hearer of the law. To such persons he addresses these words: You who are justified by the law are fallen from grace” (Chapter 24, On Grace and Free Will).

    For good measure I will throw in Chrysostom: “Again, they [the Judaizers] said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he [Paul] who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed” (Homily 3 on Galatians).

    God bless,
    Craig

    1. CRAIG TRUGLIAAPRIL 12, 2015 AT 6:14 AM

      I grew up with Titanic, now that’s a ship wreck! I suppose I took what St. Siricius said and resumed (perhaps wrongly) that things like “ship wreck” and “attack by enemies” were present dangers. Being that, as I already shown, that baptism by desire is already Catholic doctrine, my whole argument does not hinge upon an interpretation of what this one man said.

      Ok

      St. Ambrose wrote, “But I hear that you are distressed because he did not receive the sacrament of baptism. Tell me, what attribute do we have besides our will, our intention? Yet, a short time ago he had this desire that before he came to Italy he should be initiated [baptized], and he indicated that he wanted to be baptized as soon as possible by myself. Did he not, therefore, have that grace which he desired? Did he not have what he asked for? Undoubtedly because he asked for it he received it.”

      I’m not sure what your point is. Are you agreeing or disagreeing with Baptism of Desire?

      “The Good Thief’s name is St. Dismas.”

      Oops, didn’t know that.

      “You misunderstand the verse. Scripture does not contradict itself:
      James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

      I have a very long response to James 2:24. You have not responded to my exegesis, but instead brought up new points that did not address my exegesis. I think that is called a non sequitur?

      I think you’re talking about the discussion on your blog. I didn’t think it necessary to address your entire article since there other knowledgeable Catholics were already doing so.

      So, until you actually exegete what James 2:24 means in light of Hebrews 11, you have not proved a point.

      It is very difficult to prove anything to anyone. I simply explain my reasons for my hope.

      I say this with love, but I think you are missing something. Christ fulfilled the Law.

      Correct. But why? Was it in order that we would no longer need to do so? Or in order that we would follow His example?

      Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

      We are doers of the Law by having faith in Christ, because the Law (and the Prophets) says “The just man lives by faith” (Hab 2:4).

      Exactly! But not by faith alone!

      cont’d

    2. cont’d

      This is the interpretation of the early Church. St. Ambrose writes:

      “For the law is not by faith, but the just man lives by faith. Galatians 3:11 Therefore, faith, not the law, makes a man just, for justice is not through the law, but through the faith of Christ.

      St. Ambrose is speaking as a Catholic.

      Note how he says, “the faith of Christ”. He doesn’t mean, “Christ believes in God”. He means “the Faith of Christ which is established in the Catholic Church”. He means by keeping the Sacraments.

      But he who casts aside his faith and pleads for that the claims of the law, bears witness that he is himself unjust; for the just man lives by faith” (On Giving Up the Basilicas).

      He continues. Those who cast aside the Catholic Church and return to the Old Testament practices, are unjust. They can not be saved.

      Augustine writes, “It is by grace that any one is a doer of the law;

      That is Catholic Teaching.

      and without this grace, he who is placed under the law will be only a hearer of the law.

      This is also Catholic Teaching. In other words, if you think that you can be saved by simply keeping the Commandments and not submitting to the Sacraments, you are mistaken. (i.e. The Sacraments are wherein Catholics receive the Sanctifying grace of God.)

      To such persons he addresses these words: You who are justified by the law are fallen from grace” (Chapter 24, On Grace and Free Will).

      St. Augustine, here quotes St. Paul’s comparison of the Old and New Law. The Old Law does not justify. The New Law of the Sacraments, justifies thoroughly:

      Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

      For good measure I will throw in Chrysostom: “Again, they [the Judaizers] said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he [Paul] who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed” (Homily 3 on Galatians).

      Because St. Paul, adhered to the Catholic understanding of faith, apart from works, in the Sacraments.

      God bless,
      Craig

      You too.

  2. “I think you’re talking about the discussion on your blog. I didn’t think it necessary to address your entire article since there other knowledgeable Catholics were already doing so.”

    Actually they weren’t. The thrust of my argument revolved around Heb 11. None addressed the actual points I made, so you have the opportunity, in light of Heb 11, to show that the good works in the latter part of James 2 were mutually exclusive to faith and not synonymous with it.

    “It is very difficult to prove anything to anyone. I simply explain my reasons for my hope.”

    Indeed, but until you communicate your reasons I don’t think you have really given an account of what you believe in light of what i wrote, being that you are responding to a specific person (i.e. me) who said specific things.

    “Correct. But why?”

    Because we can’t fulfill the Law, even though we should. “By the works of [p]the Law no [q]flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16). “If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal 2:22). How could works act to my salvation if they make Christ’s sacrifice needless?

    For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” (Gal 3:10-11).

    Where in all of this discussion is this requirement for works on top of faith? This is not a rhetorical question, in should impinge upon your conscience to point it out, because we are talking about something very serious and Paul is very plainly saying that works have nothing to do with justification.

    “He means by keeping the Sacraments.”

    Because of the word “of?” The same word that Augustine had as “in?” Are you inferring something that is not there from that one word, which is not even in the Greek?

    “This is also Catholic Teaching. In other words, if you think that you can be saved by simply keeping the Commandments and not submitting to the Sacraments, you are mistaken…”

    I do not mean to be snarky, but you do not understand the context of what Augustine was talking about and it is evident in your response. I know these internet discussions could get heated, and because I am not God I can be wrong and deceived, so by all means take what I say with a grain of salt. However, if even on an intellectual level you think that I am being honest with you and have read the work I am quoting, let me inform you of the context:

    Augustine is not writing against Jews. He is writing against Pelagians. If I remember right, he even differentiates between the Jewish Law and what he coins as “the Law of nature” which we may surmise from Rom 2. When he is making his points, he is writing against non-Jewish Pelagians who believe that they can be saved by doing good works in general and thereby fulfilling the Law of nature. Augustine never says, “Following the Jewish Law doesn’t save you, and doing good things does not save, but only the good things classified by the Catholic Church as sacraments have a role in salvation.” It would be an obvious point to make if Augustine believed in faith+works, and the Pelagians did to but pursued the Law of Nature and not sacraments. Clearly, what Augustine is writing against is the role that fulfilling any Law has in salvation, as he views our righteousness as something we have in Christ (2 COr 5:21), not by actually doing things.

    Read Chrysostom again 😉

    God bless
    Craig

    1. CRAIG TRUGLIAAPRIL 13, 2015 AT 5:56 AM

      Actually they weren’t.

      That’s a matter of opinion. I read what the Restless Pilgrim was saying to you and I thought he was right on the money. He even quoted you in fancy blockquotes.

      The thrust of my argument revolved around Heb 11.

      Which you have misunderstood.

      None addressed the actual points I made, so you have the opportunity, in light of Heb 11, to show that the good works in the latter part of James 2 were mutually exclusive to faith and not synonymous with it.

      Why would I do that? To Catholics, works are an integral part of faith. Without works, there is no faith. Therefore, faith without works is dead (James 2:17).

      “It is very difficult to prove anything to anyone. I simply explain my reasons for my hope.”

      Indeed, but until you communicate your reasons I don’t think you have really given an account of what you believe in light of what i wrote, being that you are responding to a specific person (i.e. me) who said specific things.

      “Correct. But why?”

      Because we can’t fulfill the Law, even though we should.

      You are mistaken. By the grace of God, we can fulfill the Law. This is the message of Rom 3:

      31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

      “By the works of [p]the Law no [q]flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16). “If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal 2:22). How could works act to my salvation if they make Christ’s sacrifice needless?

      You neglect to take into account that St. Paul was not talking to an American in English. He was talking to first century Christians, many who were previously Jews. He is telling them that the Old Law did not justify anyone. But the New Law, in Christ, i.e. Baptism, justifies and washes away our sins.

      Acts 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

      For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” (Gal 3:10-11).

      Now look at Heb 11. Do you see Moses there? Do you see David there? Did they abide by the entire law? Were they cursed by the Law?

      Here’s what St. Paul says:
      39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

      Why did they receive a good report? Did they keep the Law or not?

      Where in all of this discussion is this requirement for works on top of faith?

      Read Heb 11 again:

      By faith Abel….what? He worked.
      By faith Enoch ….what? He worked.
      By faith Abraham….what? He worked.

      This is not a rhetorical question, in should impinge upon your conscience to point it out, because we are talking about something very serious and Paul is very plainly saying that works have nothing to do with justification.

      On the contrary, Paul adamantly states, that a person who does not do the works of God will not be justified by God:

      Romans 2:13King James Version (KJV)

      13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

      cont’d

    2. cont’d

      “He means by keeping the Sacraments.”

      Because of the word “of?” The same word that Augustine had as “in?” Are you inferring something that is not there from that one word, which is not even in the Greek?

      It is you who are reading these words without taking into account the language or the context of the original.

      Both St. Paul and St. Augustine were Catholics teaching Catholic Doctrine. And Catholic Doctrine is the FOUNDATION of the New Testament.

      Jesus Christ did not write the New Testament. Does that surprise you?

      Jesus Christ established a Church and commanded that Church to Teach what He commanded. Those Teachings are the essence of Sacred Tradition. And that Sacred Tradition is the essence of the New Testament Scripture. The Church wrote the New Testament in order to supplement the Sacred Tradition which she was already passing on by word.

      Therefore, it is based upon my knowledge of Catholic Doctrine that I know what the Church is teaching in the New Testament. And it is because you have discarded these same Doctrines that you don’t understand the Teaching of Scripture.

      “This is also Catholic Teaching. In other words, if you think that you can be saved by simply keeping the Commandments and not submitting to the Sacraments, you are mistaken…”

      I do not mean to be snarky, but you do not understand the context of what Augustine was talking about and it is evident in your response.

      SAINT Augustine was canonized a Catholic Saint because he professed and taught Catholic Doctrine. It is you who do not understand the context of what St. Augustine was saying.

      St. Augustine was a Bishop of the Catholic Church who confected the Eucharist, presided over the Mass and provided all the Sacraments. What makes you think that he is professing Protestant doctrine?

      I know these internet discussions could get heated, and because I am not God I can be wrong and deceived, so by all means take what I say with a grain of salt. However, if even on an intellectual level you think that I am being honest with you and have read the work I am quoting, let me inform you of the context:

      Augustine is not writing against Jews. He is writing against Pelagians.

      Correct.

      If I remember right, he even differentiates between the Jewish Law and what he coins as “the Law of nature” which we may surmise from Rom 2.

      Correct.

      When he is making his points, he is writing against non-Jewish Pelagians who believe that they can be saved by doing good works in general and thereby fulfilling the Law of nature.

      So far so good.

      Augustine never says, “Following the Jewish Law doesn’t save you, and doing good things does not save, but only the good things classified by the Catholic Church as sacraments have a role in salvation.”

      Nor did I. Nor did I claim that the Catholic Church said such a thing.

      cont’d

    3. cont’d

      It would be an obvious point to make if Augustine believed in faith+works,

      There is a confusion you have between faith and works and pelagianism. Pelagianism is works alone theology. Pelagius claimed that the grace of God was not necessary for achieving salvation by good works.

      Whereas, the Catholic Church teaches that it is in the Sacraments that we receive the grace of God to help us do the good works which God prepared for us from the beginning that we should walk in them. In the Catholic Church, the grace of God comes first.

      and the Pelagians did to but pursued the Law of Nature and not sacraments. Clearly, what Augustine is writing against is the role that fulfilling any Law has in salvation, as he views our righteousness as something we have in Christ (2 COr 5:21), not by actually doing things.

      We have this righteousness in Christ because Christ died upon the Cross in order that we could receive His grace in the Sacraments.

      The Sacraments are the difference between the Old and the New Testament. Jesus cancelled out the OT ordinances and established the Sacraments.

      Read Chrysostom again 😉

      Instead of reading that one snippet out of context, you ought to read about St. Chrysostom, he of the golden throat. He is one of our most learned teachers and another Bishop of the Church, who presided over the Mass, confected the Eucharist, forgave sins in the confessional and did everything the Catholic Church commands.

      God bless
      Craig

      And you as well

  3. @ De Maria

    I read what the Restless Pilgrim was saying to you and I thought he was right on the money. He even quoted you in fancy blockquotes.”

    Honestly? If you read his replies, he says he read my article and then brings up points that are outside the article, and does not address what the article actually said. Perhaps his block quotes distracted you and my crappy formatting did not do what I wrote justice 😉

    “You are mistaken. By the grace of God, we can fulfill the Law.”

    Only through Christ, we fulfill the Law because He fulfilled for us. That’s how Christians establish the Law, because as Paul writes in Gal 3 it is a tutor that points us to Christ because of our inability to fulfill it.

    “You neglect to take into account that St. Paul was not talking to an American in English. He was talking to first century Christians, many who were previously Jews.”

    Galatians were gentiles. The issue was whether or not one had to be circumcised and Jews had been hypocrites in separating themselves from the gentiles due to the food the gentiles at. Paul used this as a means to discuss the role of the Jewish Law in Galatians. In Rom 4, the issue is works in general (the Jewish Law and “the Law of Nature”) that were addressed in Rom 2-3.

    “He is telling them that the Old Law did not justify anyone. But the New Law, in Christ, i.e. Baptism, justifies and washes away our sins.”

    You added a few words not found in Galatians. If you base this whole argument on the word “of” instead of “in,” when neither are in the Greek, I think that is not wise to make that assertion. Paul simply says Christ is the end of the Law. He does not list new legal requirements.

    “Acts 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

    Exactly. All that believe, there is nothing there about a whole new Law with different legal requirements.

    1. “Now look at Heb 11. Do you see Moses there? Do you see David there? Did they abide by the entire law?”

      Of course not! That’s why they were not justified by their following of the Law, but by their faith in the God who made it.

      “Were they cursed by the Law? “

      No, because they did not seek justification by the Law, but by faith, the way men for all time have been justified according to Heb 11.

      “Why did they receive a good report? Did they keep the Law or not? “

      By faith, they did not receive the promise yet because they died before Christ came. Catholics believe in the harrowing of hell, so this is not a foreign concept.

      “Read Heb 11 again:

      By faith Abel….what? He worked.
      By faith Enoch ….what? He worked.
      By faith Abraham….what? He worked.”

      Precisely, by faith he worked. There is no such thing as faith without works, because even believing is a good work, so even if someone was murdered the moment after he believed, his faith would not in reality be void.

      As I brought up elsewhere, what you cannot show from any of this is that by faith he not only worked, but he atoned for his sins through a system of sacraments mediated specifically by a certain denomination. That you won’t find in the Bible and it is a major leap to go from by faith someone worked righteousness in this or that situation to by faith we need to do X, Y, and Z stipulated by the church of Rome.

      “On the contrary, Paul adamantly states, that a person who does not do the works of God will not be justified by God: (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”
      And according to Rom 2: ” For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law…in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (Rom 2:12, 15).

      Who has always listened to their conscience? Did not James say that those who break one law are guilty of all of it? So, one indiscretion against the conscience puts one out of right relationship with God, apart from His grace given to us by faith in Jesus Christ.

    2. “Me: Because of the word “of?” The same word that Augustine had as “in?” Are you inferring something that is not there from that one word, which is not even in the Greek?

      You: Both St. Paul and St. Augustine were Catholics teaching Catholic Doctrine. And Catholic Doctrine is the FOUNDATION of the New Testament.”

      THat’s besides the point, I can call myself the true Catholic, that does not prove my exegesis any more than what you say proves yours. The rest of your response concerning the development of the Canon is totally irrelevant to the point that I made: your exegesis is wrong. You are adding a word not in the Greek, a word that in Roman Catholic translations is both “of” and “in” inferred in the Greek, a word that you then exegete a whole meaning totally contrary to the context that Paul is actually addressing.

      Read Gal 2-3. FInd where there is mention of sacraments or anything else. It has to do with belief in Christ versus legalism.

      “Jesus Christ did not write the New Testament. Does that surprise you?”

      No, the Apostles wrote the Scripture and they are the foundation of the Church. The rest of your discussion has been argued elsewhere so I will point you to two articles I wrote:

      http://christianreformedtheology.com/2015/03/03/tradition-disproves-catholic-and-orthodox-view-of-apostolic-succession-part-i/

      http://christianreformedtheology.com/2015/03/06/tradition-disproves-catholic-and-orthodox-view-of-apostolic-succession-part-ii/

      “Me: I do not mean to be snarky, but you do not understand the context of what Augustine was talking about and it is evident in your response.

      You: SAINT Augustine was canonized a Catholic Saint because he professed and taught Catholic Doctrine. It is you who do not understand the context of what St. Augustine was saying. “

      I actually read that “book” of his twice. I mean no disrespect and I concede that it does not make me an expert, but it gives me more of a right to pass comment on what I think Augustine was talking about there than someone who stands on the shoulders of others and otherwise has not read it.

    3. “Me: Augustine never says, “Following the Jewish Law doesn’t save you, and doing good things does not save, but only the good things classified by the Catholic Church as sacraments have a role in salvation.”

      You: Nor did I. Nor did I claim that the Catholic Church said such a thing.”

      You wrote, “He means by keeping the Sacraments.” Whatever you think of Augustine’s ecclesiology, sacraments are not part of this discussion. To read them into a discussion where they are not mentioned distorts the point that Augustine was trying to make.

      “There is a confusion you have between faith and works and pelagianism. Pelagianism is works alone theology. Pelagius claimed that the grace of God was not necessary for achieving salvation by good works.”

      Not exacty. Pelagians believed that grace saved someone and once they accepted Christ, that person would not sin. It was an extreme Christian perfectionism sort of teaching, one wildly out of step with reality may I add.

      “Whereas, the Catholic Church teaches that it is in the Sacraments that we receive the grace of God to help us do the good works which God prepared for us from the beginning that we should walk in them.”

      Presbyterians believe that to some degree as well. However, the differentiation between the two is that the sacraments to Presbyterians are not something that then are a legal requirement for salvation after one has faith in Christ.

      “In the Catholic Church, the grace of God comes first.”

      I understand that and it is a correct teaching from Augustine.

    4. “We have this righteousness in Christ because Christ died upon the Cross in order that we could receive His grace in the Sacraments.”

      No, Christ did not die to give us a chance to follow a new Law. Christ died for sins for all time for all men for those who would trust Him.

      Augustine writes:

      He does not say, as some incorrect copies read, He who knew no sin did sin for us, as if Christ had Himself sinned for our sakes; but he says, Him who knew no sin, that is, Christ, God, to whom we are to be reconciled, has made to be sin for us, that is, has made Him a sacrifice for our sins, by which we might be reconciled to God. He, then, being made sin, just as we are made righteousness (our righteousness being not our own, but God’s, not in ourselves, but in Him); He being made sin, not His own, but ours, not in Himself, but in us, showed, by the likeness of sinful flesh in which He was crucified, that though sin was not in Him, yet that in a certain sense He died to sin, by dying in the flesh which was the likeness of sin; and that although He Himself had never lived the old life of sin, yet by His resurrection He typified our new life springing up out of the old death in sin. (Chapter 41, Handbook on Hope, Faith, and Love)

      “The Sacraments are the difference between the Old and the New Testament. Jesus cancelled out the OT ordinances and established the Sacraments.”

      Where in the Scripture of the ECF does someone specifically say that, or something that may be surmised as that? This is something that warrants investigation on both our parts.

      “Instead of reading that one snippet out of context, you ought to read about St. Chrysostom, he of the golden throat.”

      Read the whole homily on Chapter 3 of Galatians it does not take long 🙂

      God bless,
      Craig

  4. CRAIG TRUGLIAAPRIL 14, 2015 AT 11:01 AM
    @ De Maria

    I read what the Restless Pilgrim was saying to you and I thought he was right on the money. He even quoted you in fancy blockquotes.”

    Honestly? If you read his replies, he says he read my article and then brings up points that are outside the article, and does not address what the article actually said. Perhaps his block quotes distracted you and my crappy formatting did not do what I wrote justice 😉

    Its not that he wasn’t addressing your points. Its that you don’t like what he was saying.

    “You are mistaken. By the grace of God, we can fulfill the Law.”

    Only through Christ, we fulfill the Law because He fulfilled for us.

    He fulfilled it so that we would also fulfill it. Not so that we wouldn’t.

    That’s how Christians establish the Law, because as Paul writes in Gal 3 it is a tutor that points us to Christ because of our inability to fulfill it.

    God gives us the ability to fulfill it.

    “You neglect to take into account that St. Paul was not talking to an American in English. He was talking to first century Christians, many who were previously Jews.”

    Galatians were gentiles. The issue was whether or not one had to be circumcised and Jews had been hypocrites in separating themselves from the gentiles due to the food the gentiles at. Paul used this as a means to discuss the role of the Jewish Law in Galatians. In Rom 4, the issue is works in general (the Jewish Law and “the Law of Nature”) that were addressed in Rom 2-3.

    Are we talking only about Galatians or are we talking about faith and works vs faith alone?

    “He is telling them that the Old Law did not justify anyone. But the New Law, in Christ, i.e. Baptism, justifies and washes away our sins.”

    You added a few words not found in Galatians. If you base this whole argument on the word “of” instead of “in,” when neither are in the Greek,

    Do you understand Greek? Because I have to rely upon the translators. And they say that it meant, of.

    I think that is not wise to make that assertion. Paul simply says Christ is the end of the Law. He does not list new legal requirements.

    He says that Christ is the end of the Law. Meaning that we must now obey Christ. And Christ established a new religion. With new rituals. The Sacraments.

    “Acts 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

    Exactly. All that believe, there is nothing there about a whole new Law with different legal requirements.

    He is comparing the Old to the New. In Baptism, we are justified of all things from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses.

  5. Craig,

    You said,

    No, the Apostles wrote the Scripture and they are the foundation of the Church. The rest of your discussion has been argued elsewhere so I will point you to two articles I wrote:

    Three things.

    1. You’re not my teacher. I submit to the Catholic Church.
    2. I’m happy for you that you wrote several articles. But to me, any article which contradicts Scripture is straw. Your articles are straw. I don’t need to read them.

    3. I’m arguing my points here and now. If you don’t want to address them, why should we continue?

    I made important points. The reason why you have ignored them is because you have no adequate response for them.

    Do you want to try again?

  6. De Maria, you are losing your cool. No one is setting themselves up as a teacher. I merely responded to a sarcastic question you asked concerning whether I would be surprised that Jesus wrote the Scripture and I pointed to two articles in which I carefully gave thought to Sacred Tradition. Instead of responding to your point here and there, I pointed to my response that I already wrote.

    I am unsure if this conversation is going to be very edifying to either of us, as I have been careful to be respectful and it appears you are not responding to the content of what I am saying,

    I’ll reiterate one of my points, because I think it is what divides Protestants and Catholics:

    You: “The Sacraments are the difference between the Old and the New Testament. Jesus cancelled out the OT ordinances and established the Sacraments.”

    Me: Where in the Scripture of the ECF does someone specifically say that, or something that may be surmised as that?

    God bless,
    Craig

  7. No need to post these. I just want you to know that I am not ignoring you or anything of the sort.

    Craig Truglia has left a new comment on the post “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?”:

    Looks like replies disappeared.

    Yes. I posted a comment asking for an explanation, but it also disappeared. It is not my blog, so I have no control.

    Craig Truglia has left a new comment on the post “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?”:

    De Maria, you are losing your cool.

    Not so. I am simply making an effort to bring to your attention our different cultures.

    No one is setting themselves up as a teacher.

    Yes. You are. Look at my responses to Ken in the same thread. I told him the same thing.

    Protestants have a different outlook on the Word of God than do Catholics. You believe that you can go around telling people what Scripture says.

    Whereas, we don’t rely upon our own understanding.

    Proverbs 3:5-6
    Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    We rely upon our teachers in the Church:
    Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

    Because God speaks to us through them:
    2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    I merely responded to a sarcastic question you asked concerning whether I would be surprised that Jesus wrote the Scripture

    That Jesus did not write the Scripture.

    and I pointed to two articles in which I carefully gave thought to Sacred Tradition.

    You also said that the New Testament was written by the Apostles. As though the Apostles were separate from the Church.

    Instead of responding to your point here and there, I pointed to my response that I already wrote.

    You pointed to an article. When I did a similar thing on yours, you demanded a point by point response.

    I am unsure if this conversation is going to be very edifying to either of us,

    I’ve been responding to Protestants for over twenty years. Whether it is edifying for either of us is not important to me. What is important is that others who read our exchange may be edified by it.

    as I have been careful to be respectful and it appears you are not responding to the content of what I am saying,

    I am responding point by point. I expect the same.

    I’ll reiterate one of my points, because I think it is what divides Protestants and Catholics:

    There is much more which divides us. And that is the point I’m trying to make. Please understand that we listen to the Church and we do not arrive at Doctrine on internet websites. We have found the pearl of great price. We will not exchange it for traditions of men.

    You: “The Sacraments are the difference between the Old and the New Testament. Jesus cancelled out the OT ordinances and established the Sacraments.”

    Me: Where in the Scripture of the ECF

    Did you mean, “or”?

    does someone specifically say that, or something that may be surmised as that?

    Scripture says that Jesus abolished the ordinances.
    Jesus said that we must be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16).

    This is consistent with Catholic Doctrine.

    God bless,
    Craig

    And you as well

  8. Joe, have you read and studied John 3:5 in Greek? If so I need your help with an argument someone is making against water baptism using this passage.

  9. Joe, if you or anyone at your seminary knows this passage in Greek or on a logical stand point think they can help please let me know. I really need someone’s help right now 🙁

    1. Oh thank you for getting back to me. I hope either you or any of your colleagues can help. I’ll quote his last comment to me. Me and him have been going back and forth for the past few days. Here’s what he said. “sorry, but even with all your explanations, you are overlooking the fact that the Catholic church TEACHES that the “water” in John 3:5 refers to the waters of baptism. Look on YouTube under Cardinal Arinze on the subject of John 3:5 & the sacraments. He even admits that’s what the “water” is – but then what Catholics fail to realize that in the same breath, he goes onto say that baptism is “normative.” And what they fail to realize is that if water baptism is “normative” then that would contradict the Catholic church’s interpretation of the “water” in John 3:5 to refer to the waters of baptism. I understand the Catholic teaching on water baptism being “normative” – but again, you’re failing to see how the one contradicts the other. That’s why the Catholic church needs it’s man-made “traditions” as “exceptions” to “normative” water baptismal salvation – otherwise, they would have to acknowledge water baptism is the ONLY way to “enter the kingdom of God” – based on their interpretation that the ‘water’ refers to the waters of baptism. But even with those “traditions” Catholics fail to realize those traditions still contradict the Catholic interpretation of the “water” to refer to the waters of baptism:

      “Unless (except, if not) one is born of water & the Spirit, he cannot (has no power to) enter the kingdom of God”

      [Catholic interpretation]:
      “Unless (except, if not) one is baptized in water & the Spirit, he cannot (has no power to) enter the kingdom of God.”

      If the Catholic interpretation true, then Jesus is saying that the ONLY way to “enter the kingdom of God” is to be “baptized in water.” That’s why the Catholic “traditions” of baptized by desire/of blood contradicts it. You either have to reject the Greek of John 3:5 – as well as the Catholic interpretation of it – or the Catholic “exceptions.” If you accept both, then you’re accepting a contradiction – which you aren’t willing to nor, nor accept, even though it’s blatantly obvious.”

    2. Len,

      That’s the same objection that Craig makes above (somewhere), and it doesn’t work. It assumes that for something to be a requirement for us, that it must be a requirement for God. But that’s false. We’re bound by the Sacraments, He’s not.

      So if someone is innocently incapable of getting Baptized, that’s not an impedement to His mercy… nor is that innocent person in the same position as someone who refuses to get Baptized because he thinks it’s just a symbol.

      As for the necessary-normative distinction, Protestants make this, too. They say that faith is necessary for salvation, but then admit that infants who are too young to have faith can still be saved through God’s Mercy.

      Catholics just acknowledge this forthrightly, and can account for it: that all moral rules are bound by the fact that you’re never going to be damned for something that’s not your fault.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    3. So he’s saying that the Greek words used for “unless” and “cannot” are “exclusive” words rather than the non exclusive Greek terms that I guess he says could’ve been used if they were in fact normative. I really need help with this

    4. That’s a big help. Sorry if I didn’t read the whole thread (it’s quite long). You put into words what I felt about this guys comments. thank you so much for that and I just want to say I really enjoy your blogs!

  10. Hi Joe. He has replied to me. I feel like he’s largely missing our point. Here’s what he said.

    “Saying that “Jesus isn’t bound by the sacraments He gave us” doesn’t work, because in His conversation with Nicodemus, He isn’t giving him a command. Rather, He’s answering his question, “how can a man be born again…?” Jesus is making a statement about “how” to “enter the kingdom of God” – not giving a command to him. Plus, since Jesus is God, He can’t contradict Himself, which is what He’d be doing “if” He’s saying “unless one is baptized in water & the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God,” but then allow UNbaptized people into Heaven, like those baptized by desire/of blood, etc. If you accept Jesus is referring to water baptism in John 3:5, then you can’t accept baptism by desire/of blood etc. Otherwise, you are accepting that Jesus is contradicting Himself, which is what you are doing if you accept both. The problem is you can’t see it – or you refuse to. Also, since you are the one asserting that Jesus is talking about water baptism (even though He never mentions baptism during…DURING!!!…His conversation with Nicodemus), then the burden of proof is on you to show “where” DURING His conversation with him that He’s referring to water baptism. I don’t have to prove a negative (that He’s not).

    BTW, regarding babies, keep in mind that in the Greek of John Ch.3, when it says “he who does not believe is condemned,” the words “not believe” is an active verb. IOW, the active “not believing” is what condemns a person (see also Mark 16:16b). A baby doesn’t have the “active” ability to “not believe,” like an adult can. Are babies sinful & inherited original sin through Adam? – sure they are & have (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12). However, UNlike adults, infants are ALSO described in the Bible as being “innocent” (Hebrew: “free from PUNISHMENT, guilt, & obligations”). This is why King David’s 7-day-old son eventually went to Heaven, where David later “went to him,” despite the fact that his son wasn’t circumcised & that his son was conceived in sin. It is also why Jesus states that “little children…for such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). So, based on the words of Jesus, if those children dropped dead, where would they have went? – Heaven! There are many other examples in the Bible – both OT & NT – that describe that if a baby or small child die they enter Heaven – & NONE of them are described as being previously baptized in water. In fact, there isn’t even a SINGLE example in Scripture of a baby being baptized in water.

    The “water” Jesus is referring to in John 3:5 isn’t referring to the waters of baptism (in fact, in the verses where “baptism” & “born again” – and it’s equivalents, like “born of God” are used – they are NEVER used together). Remember, Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus who is a Pharisee (John 3:1), & Jesus refers to him as “the teacher of ISRAEL” (v.10). Teachers of Israel didn’t “teach” water baptismal salvation. They taught the OLD Testament – not water baptismal salvation. And in the OLD Testament, whenever “water” & “Spirit” were used together figuratively, it ALWAYS referred to the “outpouring” of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 44:3-5; Jeremiah 2:13) – not water baptismal salvation. Paul even makes this connection – see Titus 3:5-7. Nicodemus – the “teacher of ISRAEL” who taught the OLD Testament – would have understood the “water” to refer to the “outpouring” of the Holy Spirit from the OLD Testament – not water baptismal salvation. The latter is an early Catholic misinterpretation of the text that wasn’t even “universally” accepted by the Catholic church until centuries later.”

    1. I don’t know how we can convey this to him that would get through. Would I be correct in saying that though Jesus is using exclusive words in that verse to mean that baptism is the only way one can enter heaven, he’s saying this for those who are physically/mentally able to? Also could you help with his statement that the early church wasn’t unified on the catholic view of baptism?

  11. Is this baptist view being misrepresented by Joe’s diagram or is it largely true and has zero supporting biblical text evidence? Can someone who is baptist deny or confirm this? Thank you in advance guys.

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