Is Salvation Our Doing, or God’s?

Michelangelo, Creation of Adam (1512) [from the Sistine Chapel ceiling]
Michelangelo, Creation of Adam (1512)
What percentage of our salvation is our doing, and what percentage of it is God’s doing? This is a common way of approaching the question of salvation, and it’s a driving force for a lot of bad theology. For example, Steven J. Cole claims that Roman Catholicism “teaches that in order to gain enough merit for salvation, we must add our good works to what Christ did on the cross.” That’s a common misunderstanding: since Catholics believe human cooperation is necessary, that must mean we’re reducing God’s credit from 100% to something lower, right? And it’s ultimately for this reason that Martin Luther and later Protestants (most famously Calvinists) will argue that man’s free will in the realm of salvation is basically an illusion: we provide 0% to salvation. Why? To ensure that God gets 100%.

Although their motives are noble, they’ve committed a much worse subversion of God’s sovereignty. How? By reducing Him to the level of human actors, as if He and we operate on the same playing field. In this way, they deny the transcendence of God, even as they seek to preserve His Majesty.

A couple of simple examples will suffice. It makes sense to ask what percentage of the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo, and what percentage was painted by other painters, like Sandro Botticelli. Michelangelo and Botticelli are the same type of actors. But if you were to ask what percentage of the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo, and what percentage was painted by paintbrushes, it would become clear you were thinking of Michelangelo as a mere sort of tool.

Notice that in saying this, the brushes themselves make a difference – if there had been a horrible splotch, we might say that it was due, not to the artist, but to a defect in his brush. And a skilled artist might choose this or that brush precisely because he knows it’s the type of brush to produce a certain effect.

But we can still say, for example, that the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was “100% painted by Michelangelo” and “100% painted by paintbrushes.” That might sound like fishy math, but only if you grossly misunderstood the difference in kind between Michelangelo and a paintbrush. Likewise, I can say that salvation is 100% up to God and 100% up to you, and that only sounds like fishy math if you’re implicitly reducing God to your level.

Let’s take another example, involving God, just to drive this home for certain. God made you. So did your parents. But to try to put your mom, your dad, and God on the same level of causality – as if each participated a third, or as if God provided the soul and your parents provided the body, etc. – is disastrously wrong. God was completely in control, but He worked through your parents.

That doesn’t mean that your parents weren’t free. All Christians, even Calvinists, recognize a difference between the consensual sex and rape – the reality of free will is unavoidable. So when we say your parents freely conceived you and that God was 100% responsible, there’s no contradiction there.

It turns out that God is the Author of the Universe, but that His Authorship is so majestic that it permits our free action within His Universe. And indeed, the whole of the moral life is premised upon this reality. Why do Christians (and again, even Calvinists) think that having sex out of wedlock is a sin, but that being raped isn’t? Because one involves turning the will away from God and His Will, and the other doesn’t. There can only be sin if our wills are involved, which is why it’s not sinful if you do a thing by accident, or if it’s done to you, or if you do it whilst sleeping, etc.

I sincerely applaud Calvinists and all of those who try to make salvation not at all about us in an effort to preserve God’s majesty. Their intentions are undeniably good. But God doesn’t need you to try to preserve His majesty in this way – in fact, you only end up reducing it by denying His transcendence over natural and created causes.

114 Comments

  1. Calvinism is determinism. There is no other way around it. Of course, I never met a Calvinist who told me they aren’t part of the elect.

    Protestantism demands answers to every question asked and there can be only one answer. There is very little mystery in Protestantism because everything can be found in interpreting scripture.

    God AND man both play a role in salvation??? Impossible. Man is a robot controlled by God since sin has so warped his nature that he no longer has free will. :).

    1. CWD: Calvinism is determinism. There is no other way around it.

      BB: Because you prefer to use your Bible as a coaster for your Michelobe Lite, instead of reading it, you are unaware that God himself from Genesis to Revelation is VERY deterministic and thwarts the free will of man in examples too numerous to mention. Thus, your supposed insult to Calvin, is actually a compliment. Only one example will do: “In fact, this is the very city where Herod and Pontius Pilate conspired with the Gentiles and the people of Israel against Your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They carried out what your hand and purpose had decided [determined!] beforehand would happen” (Acts 27-28).

      CWD: Protestantism demands answers to every question asked

      BB: Provide one P who ever “demanded” any such thing. Needless to say you will not answer this challenge because it is simply another twisted, over-exaggerated misrepresentation of the P position. This of course, makes you a liar.

      CWD: There is very little mystery in Protestantism because everything can be found in interpreting scripture.

      BB: Non-Catholics know that they will never plumb the depths of Scripture this side of heaven, but are only too happy to keep digging into the word to keep coming across those diamonds of truth that satisfies our thirst for the “mysterious”. The only reason you bogusly charge us with there being “so little mystery” in our educational endeavors, is because you wish to justify going OUTSIDE the bounds of Holy Writ to find your mystery, and all the while thinking God has ordained these “mysteries” to be necessary for salvation, like the ludicrous Marian doctrines.
      Making a habit of always going beyond the safety harbor of Scripture, will result in your downfall on Judgment Day, guaranteed.

      1. BB,
        “Because you prefer to use your Bible as a coaster for your Michelobe Lite” = I myself prefer something stronger, but de gustibus…
        Regardless, your quote is from Acts 4:27. Furthermore, if you read the text correctly, is not the people involved who were “predestined”, but the action itself (the conspiracy against Jesus): “…whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place”. Herod, Pontius Pilate and everyone else are the agents who freely chose to be part of it.
        “Provide one P who ever “demanded” any such thing” = this is a question as well, isn’t it? Quite demanding, if I may add.
        “is because you wish to justify going OUTSIDE the bounds of Holy Writ to find your mystery” = actually, the opposite is true. Please see John 21:25. Catholics do not stop at the written Bible to study God’s mysteries; Protestants do, therefore your understanding of the Faith will always be limited.

      2. you are unaware that God himself from Genesis to Revelation is VERY deterministic and thwarts the free will of man in examples too numerous to mention

        You mean passages like these?

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

        Matt. 23:37-39 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

        Acts7:51 “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye.”

        Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called unto liberty. Only make not liberty an occasion to the flesh: but by charity of the spirit serve one another.”

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

        Whoops, sorry, those passages establish free will, my mistake.

  2. Home Run.

    Both anaologies were great.

    Only thing I would want better in this article is a brief discussion of how human will and divine sovereignty are 100% compatible (as there are of course a few great Catholic theologies that attempt to answer this).

    Anyway, nice article!

    1. A.F. Only thing I would want better in this article is a brief discussion of how human will and divine sovereignty are 100% compatible (as there are of course a few great Catholic theologies that attempt to answer this).

      BB: We do not need “great RC theologians” to expound on this because the answer is found in 2 Chron 32:31. God withdrew his sovereign hand over Hezekiah and “stood back” as it were, to observe how the king would conduct himself in a certain situation. So on some occasions, the Lord will “take up a seat”…and watch the free will of man in action.
      In other situations, he will actively over-throw the free will of man, as when they sought to throw Jesus over a cliff. Some how or another, he escaped their evil intentions because “his hour had not yet come”, meaning NOTHING the free will of man thought to do against him would ever come to fruition until God allowed it.
      But in the matter of salvation, God is 100% deterministic, in that no man is even ABLE to come to Christ, unless the operative power of the Father is working to draw that person to the Savior (John 6:44 ). Our ability to accept him is entirely UP to him, for our unregenerate hearts are in his hand like the rivers of water, he turns it whithersoever way he chooses” (Prov 21:1). Thus, we are, as it were, nothing but a doggy in the window at the pet store. If Divine Providence does not choose to take us home, he will simply leave us there for his own good reasons (Matt 11:25-26; John 9:37-9).

      1. BB,
        “In other situations, he will actively over-throw the free will of man, as when they sought to throw Jesus over a cliff” = I don’t think your analogy is correct in this case. This is not a case of impeded free will, as the crowd still wanted to kill Jesus, but a case of miraculous escape. The same would be if you wanted to bake a pie but didn’t have the correct ingredients. Your free will (baking a pie) is not impeded; your capability to act on it is.
        John 6:44 is not proof of predestination. Jesus here says that the first action, being drawn to Him, is caused by God (consistent with 1 Tim 2:4-6); then our free will takes over, and our (completely free) answer can be yes or not.

        1. LLC: [You say] “In other situations, he will actively over-throw the free will of man, as when they sought to throw Jesus over a cliff”
          I don’t think your analogy is correct in this case. This is not a case of impeded free will… but a case of miraculous escape.

          BB: While it was indeed a case of miraculous escape, the free-will of man to KILL him was utterly thwarted, as God has the ability to frustrate the plans of the wicked (Job 5:12, Ps 33:10)…which was my point……not of course, that their free will to CONTINUE to want to destroy him had been overthrown.

          LLC: Jesus here says that the first action, being drawn to Him, is caused by God (consistent with 1 Tim 2:4-6); then our free will takes over, and our (completely free) answer can be yes or no.

          BB: I disagree with this because the logical ramifications lead to God being a total failure. What you are proposing is that while he may initially set his sights on someone, if that person refuses, well too bad…. God is unable to overcome their free will. You will tell me that the Creator of the universe can do ANYTHING, but the ONE thing he CANNOT do, is interfere in the free will of man???? I must reject this theory because the record shows the Lord does NOT fail in anything he sets out to do (Ps 115:3, Isa 46:9-10, Dan 4:35, Eph 1:11). Thus, when he decides to save someone, that person “SHALL” come to Christ (i.e., WITHOUT FAIL, per John 6:35-7), just as surely as Lazarus responded positively to the call to come out of the grave (with no other choice not to!) so too will each and every one that is called by the Father to the Son, also respond accordingly.
          I know full well this wreaks havoc with those who treasure their free will to come to Christ… (or, as my sister says, “I will do so when I am damn good and ready”), but it’s just a fact, I should think primarily so no one will have anything to boast about in kingdom come, saying “it was all due to me and my shadow that I chose Jesus”.

          1. I disagree with this because the logical ramifications lead to God being a total failure.

            How? Because He chooses, by His sovereign will, to leave the choice to resist or cooperate with His grace to an individual’s free will?

            A good introduction to Thomism is probably the best answer to all of your arguments here. God doesn’t let any of those whom he predestined to enter hell, but that doesn’t actually mean that he didn’t give grace to the damned — He did, otherwise it would by no means be just to condemn them. Also the Bible says that even the pagans received the grace of knowledge of God in Romans 1:18-20, so your arguments here are simply faulty. Further, God’s predestination is based on His foreknowledge, so there actually isn’t a contradiction to be had here.

            Romans 8:29

            For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren.

          2. BB,
            “…which was my point…” = again, your point is incorrect or, at least, confused. Free Will is separated from the success or failure of the actions derived from it. From Wikipedia: Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded. “Unimpeded” is the pivotal term here. It means without impediment, constriction, obligation. Analyze the situation from Luke 4:29: Did the crowd freely choose to lead Jesus “…to the brow of the hill […], so that they might hurl him off the cliff”? Yes. This is Free Will. After rejecting His words, they freely decided to kill Jesus. Were they successful? No, because “But he [Jesus] passed through the midst of them and went on his way”. Did they change their mind about killing Jesus? Scriptures doesn’t indicate so, so No.
            God’s choice to “…frustrate the plans of the wicked…” is, similarly, a clear example of how the wicked freely chooses to be so (Free Will), the same way the believer chooses to freely submit to God’s plan (Mary, for example). Your Lazarus’ example (“with no other choice not to!”) is another indication that you do not understand what Free Will is. Lazarus did not have another choice, as you correctly state, therefore he did not have Free Will.
            “I disagree with this because the logical ramifications lead to God being a total failure” = you may (Free Will) disagree, but you are still incorrect. God is not “…unable to overcome [their] free will”. He allows them to fail, the same way the Father allows the Prodigal Son to fail. Again, you misunderstand omnipotence (God’s ability to do anything He wants, in loose terms) with His willingness to do so. Au contraire, your (and Calvin’s) position is much more limiting and restricting, making God a slave of His own preconceived decisions. John 6:35 is, again, not proof of predestination; if anything, it disproves it. Jesus says, “…Whoever comes to me…”. Whoever indicates that anyone can come to Jesus, and that’s the only condition required. It doesn’t say, “…those who are predestined to come to me shall…”.
            You stand corrected.

        2. AF: How [is God a failure] because He chooses, by His sovereign will, to leave the choice to resist or cooperate with His grace to an individual’s free will?

          BB: He would be a failure because if we were to take the RC position that he dumps the matter of salvation into the hands of man, this makes a mockery out of far too many passages to mention! God is ACTIVE in the matter of salvation, and certainly not passive!

          AF: God doesn’t let any of those whom he predestined to enter hell,

          BB: He doesn’t let them do what? You don’t say.

          AF: but that doesn’t actually mean that he didn’t give grace to the damned — He did, otherwise it would by no means be just to condemn them.

          BB: When you use the term grace in this situation, I assume you are talking about the grace of God to CALL a person to salvation. If that is so, where do you get the idea that he sets out to call (or give grace) to every person on earth? I say he does not do that, nor can you prove it. Scripture says we are all unregenerate by nature, so if he doesn’t call someone, he simply leaves them in their stubborn condition. Simple.

          AF: the Bible says that even the pagans received the grace of knowledge of God in Romans 1:18-20, so your arguments here are simply faulty.

          BB: No. The Text does not anywhere say pagans have received “the grace of God”. You have inserted that word into the Text to make it appear that this “grace of God” was calling them to salvation. No, he was not calling them at all. What izzzzz being said here is that because man is made in the image of God, many (aside from atheists I suppose) correctly perceive that this world did not come into being by chance, thus sensing the existence of a Creator, The problem is, THEY REFUSE TO ACT ON IT because they love their sin too much to depart from it, not to mention the idea of bowing down to a higher authority is repulsive to them.

          AF: Further, God’s predestination is based on His foreknowledge (Rom 8:29).

          BB: NO. I am pretty sure you are trying to say that predestination is based on his foreknowledge of FUTURE EVENTS, not acting on the conscience of anyone in particular. In other words, you are saying (correct me if I’m wrong) that God predestines those who he sees in the future as making the free-will choice to believe in him. But this is inaccurate because to “foreknow” is to foreknow a PERSON… in particular (!) and not the mere knowing of what will happen in the future”. In the case of Jeremiah, “Before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (J-1-5). The terms “consecrated” and “appointed” directly point to the element of choice. ***THIS*** is the grace that would call Jeremiah at the appropriate time and which he WOULD not and COULD not, resist. It is the same for all of the elect. This is the grace that changes those who are dead in their tresspasses and sins, and brings them to new life. But Catholicism gives us a grace that requires the free will of man to be effective.
          THAT IS NO GRACE AT ALL.

          1. He would be a failure because if we were to take the RC position that he dumps the matter of salvation into the hands of man, this makes a mockery out of far too many passages to mention! God is ACTIVE in the matter of salvation, and certainly not passive!

            I agree that God is active in the matter of salvation. I deny that His grace is irresistible, emphatically. The scripture does too. Matt. 23:37-39

            This is the grace that changes those who are dead in their tresspasses and sins, and brings them to new life. But Catholicism gives us a grace that requires the free will of man to be effective.
            THAT IS NO GRACE AT ALL.

            I beg to differ. Grace that requires free will to be effective is the ONLY definition of grace. Grace that doesn’t require free will to be effective isn’t even grace, it’s just a show of power.

          2. I also disagree with your defense of Irresistible grace in the case of Jeremiah. It’s just not there.

            What you needed to find in the passage: denial that Jeremiah had any say in the matter, past, present, and future to his calling, as well as election to heaven.

            What was actually in the passage: Jeremiah’s predestined call. No denial that Jeremiah had a free choice in the matter with regard to future obedience of God’s call.

            All you’re doing is reading Calvinist tradition into the scriptures.

            I don’t think this dialogue is getting anywhere at all, nor will it. You just seem here to make converts, rather than really trying to learn and understand the Catholic Faith.

          3. AF: I deny that His grace is irresistible, emphatically. The scripture does too. Matt. 23:37-39

            BB: Reader, this was completely refuted at 6:16

          4. BB,
            “BB: He would be a failure because if we were to take the RC position that he dumps the matter of salvation into the hands of man” = Joe H has already answered this point: “That’s a common misunderstanding: since Catholics believe human cooperation is necessary, that must mean we’re reducing God’s credit from 100% to something lower, right?”. Your premise is unsupported; therefore, your argument is null.

      2. We do not need “great RC theologians” to expound on this because the answer is found in 2 Chron 32:31

        Actually we do need great RC theologians to expound on this because it’s not obvious, and the passage you referred to doesn’t actually answer the question of free will. There are way better passages that Calvinists typically present to try and argue their point, such as the example with Pharaoh.

        But in the matter of salvation, God is 100% deterministic, in that no man is even ABLE to come to Christ, unless the operative power of the Father is working to draw that person to the Savior (John 6:44 ).

        God isn’t actually 100% deterministic. Not even close. We can still resist God’s grace, it’s not irresistible. You have to actually defend irresistible grace to us before you can make an argument like this. I would argue that you haven’t even begun to demonstrate such a strange and bizarre idea, and we have loads of scripture that contradict that notion.

        1. AF: We can still resist God’s grace

          BB: I say his chosen elect CANNOT resist it, any more than Jeremiah and Paul could resist it after telling us that they were chosen from their mother’s womb. Ergo it would be impossible to resist the call when it was made to them in the course of time.

          AF: I would argue that you haven’t even begun to demonstrate such a strange and bizarre idea

          BB: I already DID begin to demonstrate it by using common sense derived from the Text. I quoted elsewhere wherein God is able to do anything he wants, and brings about successfully, all his good intentions. Thus, in the matter of salvation (and every other matter) when he sets his sights on someone, he simply will not fail in his attempt to do so. Again, HE DOES NOT FAIL IN ANYTHING HE SETS OUT TO DO.
          By propositioning man is able to resist the call, leaves the impression that God FAILS in his intended purposes and must furthermore be subservient to the free will of man. However, that is not the God of the Bible. Neither is what i say “bizarre or strange” as you would have it.
          You need to adjust your thinking to the way in which SCRIPTURE depicts the Creator of the universe and the logical implications derived thereof.
          But this you are apparently unwilling to do.

          1. I say his chosen elect CANNOT resist it, any more than Jeremiah and Paul could resist it after telling us that they were chosen from their mother’s womb. Ergo it would be impossible to resist the call when it was made to them in the course of time.

            YAWN, been there, done that. Next.

            Again, HE DOES NOT FAIL IN ANYTHING HE SETS OUT TO DO.

            Except that He doesn’t attempt to override our free will in the case of Salvation. (Matt. 23:37-39) This tired old Calvinist argument is lousy, and doesn’t really hold water to real scripture.

            You need to adjust your thinking to the way in which SCRIPTURE depicts the Creator of the universe and the logical implications derived thereof.
            But this you are apparently unwilling to do.

            YAWN, gimme a break. Adjusting my thinking to the way which the Holy Scriptures depicts Almighty God lead me right into the Roman Catholic Church — especially Christ’s words in the Gospels.

          2. AF: He doesn’t attempt to override our free will in the case of Salvation. (Matt. 23:37-39)

            BB: It is utterly reprehensible that you simply throw out M-23 with no exegesis whatsoever, just the… “conclusion”… of the quote itself which you foolishly think stands on its own to support you position. Shame on you.
            Obviously, you are promoting the idea that in this passage, Jesus WANTED to save them, but COULD not save them because they were “not willing”. Your conclusion is typical Catholicism: “God’s grace is dependent upon the free will of man to be effective”.
            However, you are 100% wrong! To begin with, this verse is not to be taken in a universal sense, which you’re obviously trying to do. Any Bible scholar would nail you on this in a heartbeat. Jesus is condemning the Jewish leaders and it is to THEM he refers:

            “Oh Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone them…”

            Second, he refers to their CHILDREN: “How often I have longed to gather your CHILDREN together…but you were not willing”.

            So you think that God’s grace is resistible to those who are “not willing”.

            Wrong again!

            The context is clearly speaking of their CHILDREN, differentiating those to whom he is condemning— FROM those that the Lord desired to save! You fail to see that the ones the Lord desired to “gather” are NOT the ones who were “not willing”. It is the LEADERS! And he speaks to the leaders about their CHILDREN, that they, the leaders, would not allow him to “gather”. Consequently, this passage renders your argument USELESS as a support to establish freewillism. The “you would not” quote, then, is referring to the Jewish leaders whose “children” under their authority, they were UNWILLING to allow to hear Christ’s message. This verse then, is speaking to the same issue raised earlier in M-23-13…..”But woe unto you Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people, for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering, to go in”.

            Circa 1800, John Gill agreed: “That the persons whom Christ would have gathered are NOT represented as being unwilling to be gathered, but their RULERS were not willing that they should”.

            We see here by your error, a pristine reason why Catholicism continues to flourish. People like you don’t do any further research, are content to think you know it all, and don’t feel the need of a teacher except from those who say things like, “Jesus said to eat his flesh so that means we must eat him”….and like Matt 23, just LEAVE IT AT THAT, when in fact, unbeknownst to you, you are nothing but “poor, blind and naked” (Rev 3:17).

          3. …blah blah blah…all these “geniuses” think that 23:37-39 doesn’t support free will…

            YAWN…this is pointless…been there, done that. If you won’t listen to scripture, I’m done here.

          4. AF: YAWN…this is pointless…been there, done that. If you won’t listen to scripture, I’m done here.

            BB: YOU ARE A LIAR Mr. A.F.
            Unless you can prove to me that you have interacted elsewhere with the argument I presented regarding your error on Matt 23, you have NOT…”been there, done that”. Even if you had, it stands to reason you would take that info and kindly post it here for all to see, so you can make a fool out of me. Instead, you are the epitome of the suspect who has been brought in to be interrogated, and when faced with the evidence against him, says, “I’m through speaking to you…get me a lawyer”.

            You are completely refuted, and give us all the luxury of witnessing the mind of someone whose eyes God had decided should remain closed (at least for now). It still doesn’t surprise me. In over 30 years, I have NEVER ONCE heard any Catholic admit to a mistake. Their pride obviously doesn’t allow it. It’s too humiliating, I quite understand. But better you be humiliated here on earth, then to find you have a passport to hell waiting for you on Judgment day.

          5. We really have to fully appreciate what a great good and mystery created free will is by its mere existence as God’s ‘cutting edge technology’. Its abuse is the proof of its reality, which in sense glorifies God, who in his design has already worked out the proper response to every free will decision so as to maximize the overall goodness of His creation. God gives sufficient graces to everyone, but usually they are gifts that must be unwrapped to be effective. Certainly He desires that we should all be among His elect and open them; but regardless of whether we chose to open His gifts or refuse them, we give Him glory by demonstrating how robust and real is His created free will.

  3. Great article indeed.

    But why did heresy take hold and wrap itself around determinism and reject mystery? IMO, man’s arrogance and pride in burgeoning scientism and nationalism fueled the heresy. Plus, removing the priestly tax and changing how people can divorce played a significant role. The Reformation never brought man back to original Christianity. It deformed it into something brand new steeped in relativism where man’s personal interpretation is the ultimate determination of truth.

  4. In the last sentence of the first chapter of Genesis, it says:

    “And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.”

    Calvin and Luther would have to deny that God created everything “very good” from the beginning of creation to support their position of the ‘slavery of the will’ and ‘predestination to Hell’, because no one would say that eternal damnation of a soul that was predetermined even before his existence was a good thing. God would therefore be the author of the evil, as free will would have no part to play. How could God term something “very good”, that indeed was ‘very evil’ (and worthy of damnation)from before it’s very creation? Again, without the ‘free will’ of Adam and Eve, this would make God the author, accomplice, accessory, and culprit… of their damnable crime.

    But the real indication that man indeed has free will, and is responsible for his own evil decisions, is that Genesis says that man was created by God “in His own image”, the image of God Himself. And, who does not believe or understand that God has free will??

    So, the fall of Adam and Eve is exactly as it says in Genesis,and it was the particular exercise of that ‘free will’ that caused both the Fall and punishment of Adam and Eve. Thus, the ‘free will provided to mankind’ was an essential component of his creation from the very beginning, and which was called also a component of the creation that was termed by God to be “very good”. So, the bottom line is, that he exercise of the free will of any man, is his own doing, and not God’s. And the same should be true of the good angels and demons as well.

    1. AWL: Calvin and Luther would have to deny that God created everything “very good” from the beginning of creation to support their position of the ‘slavery of the will’ and ‘predestination to Hell’, because no one would say that eternal damnation of a soul that was predetermined even before his existence was a good thing.

      BB: This comment fails because we read that we were chosen BEFORE the foundation of the world, and you start your hatchet job against Calvin AFTER the world was created. Thus, contrary to your, “no one would say that eternal damnation of a soul that was predetermined even before his existence was a good thing” cannot stand in light of the Text. It izzzzz a “good thing” If it happens to be God’s will (!!!). Simple logic refutes you. He chose the elect before the foundation of the world. It was a predetermined choice. Which means, those whom he did not choose, would be predetermined for hell whether you like it or not. Who in the world do you think you are (says Romans 9) by arguing with God and insisting it would not be a “good thing” to have in mind NOT to save many who are on the broad road to destruction? As the potter over the clay and Creator of the universe, he has that prerogative!

      AWL: God would therefore be the author of the evil

      BB: NO! God cannot be charged with being evil when he decides to bypass (and he does) many millions of people. You are looking through your own foggy and corrupted pious eyeglasses, which are on the same level as the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops— who have on their front page to pray for an end to the death penalty! Whoooooo do these madmen think they are? God initiated the death penalty and he is NOT about to be of the opinion to do away with it!
      Hence, you simply have no choice but to deal with God’s discriminating electing grace to choose whom he pleases (Matt 11:25-26, 13:10-17; Mk 4:11; Luke 10:22; John 6:44, 9:39, 17:6, Romans 11:7, 1 Peter 2:8)… for you only delude yourself by thinking he is a casual observer in the grandstands in the universe munching popcorn and hoping, with his fingers crossed, that someone…ANYONE…will just come to believe in him! NO! He is an active participant in the matter of salvation and only when he calls that person to “come out of the grave”, as he did Lazarus, will they be “willing” to come to him (John 6:35-7).

      1. Barry, You imply that Jesus Christ did not have free-will, because He was God and Man, and, moreover, ‘He was like unto us in ALL THINGS but sin’. So, if you claim mankind lacks free will, you also claim God, Jesus Christ, lacked free will.

        But Jesus clearly contradicts this when He says in prayer on the Mt. of Olives: “Not my will, but your’s be done”. And moreover, in the Our Father, taught by Christ, we are told to pray…”Thy will be done”…which implies that we humans have our own free will as an option for us to chooset o obey.

        1. AWL: You imply that [man and] Jesus Christ do not have free-will,

          BB: I never implied any such thing. See my comment about Hezekiah at 10:09. You have the free will to do lots of things, but you should always pray, as the Text says, “if it be his will” (James 4:13). When it is not his will that you do thus and such, it stands to reason he will produce circumstances to counteract your plans, just as surely as he made the screws come loose on the chariots of Pharaoh’s army in their pursuit of the children of Israel.
          Anyway, the one who is “walking by faith” knows that, “A man’s heart devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Prov 16:9).

  5. J.H. God was completely in control, but He worked through your parents.

    BB: No Calvinist would deny that statement.

    J.H. That doesn’t mean that your parents weren’t free.

    BB: Not sure what you mean by that after you just said God was in complete control, but when it comes to the matter of the creation of a human being, all should agree that the parents are utterly incapable of producing a child unless the Lord gives the green light. This is exactly how it is in the matter of salvation.
    Our complete powerlessness in choosing to seek after God (Rms 3:11) is metaphorically described in Jerusalem’s nativity (Ezekiel 16:4-6). God assumes the character of a traveler when He says He passed by and saw them thrown out like a newborn child exposed to the elements: “In the day thou wast born, thy navel was not cut, neither was thou washed in water to supple thee; thou was not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. No eye pitied thee, to do any of these things unto thee; but thou was cast out in the open field. And when I passed by thee and saw thee POLLUTED in thine own blood, I said unto thee, LIVE…”
    This is precisely our condition when the Holy Spirit passes by us like the wind (John 3:8) in the midst of our own helpless and hopeless “pollution”, and says, “LIVE”.

    The grisly depiction of a filthy newborn (typifying our corrupted natures) fresh out of the womb with the umbilical cord still attached, is no more able to choose to help itself than a leopard can choose to change the spots on his coat (Jer 13:23). A leopard’s spots are part of its nature; likewise we, being fallen children of Adam & Eve, share that corrupted nature. Hence, our own inability to choose Christ is on the same helpless level as a newborn out in the field or the leopard choosing to change his coat. If we don’t hear the divine call to LIVE! …or if the Holy Spirit doesn’t choose to, “make those dead bones come together into living beings”, we will die in our sins (Ezek 37:1-14).

    1. but when it comes to the matter of the creation of a human being, all should agree that the parents are utterly incapable of producing a child unless the Lord gives the green light.

      Me- And humans can choose to ignore the green light by taking contraception. Free will and sinful.

      1. CK: And humans can choose to ignore the green light by taking contraception. Free will and sinful.

        BB: That’s true, but when this world is all over, it will never be said that Divine Providence wanted a particular person to be born but was unable to do so because the sinfulness of man was greater than he could handle. Those who have successfully stopped a child from being born have only their own sin to deal with because the big picture shows that the Creator will not fail to bring everyone intended to be born, to be born.

          1. Matt: What specifically is in the article that you think is incorrect?

            BB: Three things:

            1) The paint brush analogy is defective. The “will” of the paint brush and the will of the painter combine to coordinate a synergistic view of salvation where J.H. is trying to convince us that God and man (the paintbrush) both work together to bring about the intended salvific result. However, the RCC believes that when God actually decides to save someone, these same people have the ability to resist the call.
            We deny. See my comments elsewhere on this page.
            God’s elect do NOT have the ability to resist the call that rings in their ears, anymore than Lazarus could refuse the call to rise from the dead. Thus, a paint brush in the hand of God is like the “heart of the king [which] is in the hand of the Lord; like the rivers of water, he turns it whithersoever he wills” (Prov 21:1). That being so, mankind is just as helpless to come to Christ as is a paint brush in the hand of a painter is helpless to paint it’s own picture without the overwhelming influence of the painter to guide it.

            2) The article omits to give the official say-so on this matter contained in CCC 1730. While Joe paints a distinctively synergistic view of salvation, (as the RCC does typically teach), I believe the catechism is inconsistent and WOEFULLY unbiblical when we read that, “God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel, so that he might of his own accord, seek his Creator”. This statement is utterly unbiblical —as Prov 21:1 just mentioned categorically denies it, as well as Romans 3:11, where we are told that NO ONE, in and of themselves seeks after God. That the catechism editors have the nerve to say that God leaves man into the hands of their own puny counsel to seek after their Creator— WITHOUT making any reference to R-3-11, is inexcusable and shows these men are biblically inept.

            3) Joe says that it is a common misunderstanding that the RCC teaches that we must add our good works to what Christ did on the cross.
            Response? IT IS NOT A MISUNDERSTANDING.
            It is in fact, a succinct and ever so accurate representation of Catholicism that can only be denied by those whose eyes have been purposely closed by God for his own good reasons (Matt 11:25-26). Good works (with the help of God’s grace) are directly stated to be the entry way to eternal life in CCC 1821. NO! Good works, with or without God’s grace, will not save ANYONE (Titus 3:5). This bombastic theology is repeated elsewhere, where good works are said to be “the controlling factor” which opens the gate to heaven (!) per Robert Sungenis in his “Not by Faith Alone” devil’s handbook (with page after page of endorsements from practically every living modern day Catholic luminaries applauding this work!). It is undeniable therefore that Catholics believe in a “grace-produced-works-salvation” that will get them into heaven, but which will definitely only result in hell. Worse still, is that not only good works save us, but the additional mandates of papal subordination, eucharist, keeping the commandments (CCC 2068), “proper conduct” (CCC 16) and of course all the marian dogmas! ALL of these things do not for a moment address the matter of our sin debt, but by requiring them for salvation, the RCC gives them a salvific efficacy on the same level as the blood of Jesus Christ.
            If Paul blew a fit in the book of Galatians over even the ONE addition the Judaizers were trying to sneak in, his fury would know no end if he were to find out what the RCC imposes on her gullible followers.

          2. Barry said: “God’s elect do NOT have the ability to resist the call that rings in their ears, anymore than Lazarus could refuse the call to rise from the dead.”

            If we don’t have the ability to resist the will of God, why does God spend so much time warning Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, and many others throughout the Bible?

            Take this account of Cain and Able for instance. If God has all power over the free will that He provided to mankind at Adams creation (Adam being “made in God’s own image, including the gift of ‘free will), then why does God plead with Cain to control his fury and desire to destroy Abel?

            Genesis 4:3 teaches:

            “Cain offered, of the fruits of the earth, gifts to the Lord. Abel also offered of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat: and the Lord had respect to Abel, and to his offerings. But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect: and Cain was exceedingly angry, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said to him: Why art thou angry? and why is thy countenance fallen? IF THOU DO WELL, shalt thou not receive? but if ill, shall not sin forthwith be present at the door? but the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.”

            Then it says:

            “And Cain said to Abel his brother: Let us go forth abroad. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and slew him. [9] And the Lord said to Cain: Where is thy brother Abel? And he answered, I know not: am I my brother’s keeper? [10] And he said to him: What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth to me from the earth.”

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

            This entire story is about free will and the ability to resist sin and temptation. It is God, here, that is the direct teacher, and we see how God is trying to convince Cain to resist evil…so as to have ‘dominion’ over it.

            And Jesus, also, in a similar way, reiterates this teaching when He counsels the faithful to be like a strong man, and to be vigilant against thieves who will seek to break into their houses and despoil them of their treasure.

            In both cases, it would be an absurdity for God to counsel, teach and encourage Cain to resist evil, and a strong man to stay awake, if God Himself planned that absolutely Cain would not resist, and the strong man would not be vigilant.

            Rather, God does indeed know the outcome of both events, but He created man with the ability to resist evil if he obeys these counsels of God. He gives the person that ability to EITHER accept or reject, these teachings….even as Moses taught the Israelites in the Desert, Jesus taught in so many of His teaching, and the Early Church taught since the very first centuries of Christianity. (Just take a look at the first chapters of the Didache, for instance).

          3. Barry,

            1. Jonah resisted the call of God for a good long while. If you want to say that the elect ultimately will NOT resist (or their resistance will ultimately fail), of course that is true. But I don’t know of anyone who always did exactly what God wants all the time. I mean, people sin don’t they? Unless you’re one of those that thinks God wants people to sin…

            2. You kind of presuppose that Sirach is not scripture here because the CCC is basically reiterating that point (Sirach 15:11-20). And that book was recognized as scripture by the universal Church until the 16th century. Augustine in particular used the book even in his arguments with the Pelagians who attempted to co-opt the passage. Have you read Augustine’s “On Grace and Free Will?” I highly recommend it as no one can accuse Augustine of not making scriptural arguments. However, you seem to be doing exactly what Joe described in his article. You see a false dichotomy between Man being in his own power and being in God’s power, as if it can only be one or the other. All free will means is that man is not necessitated. We really make choices between options (Deuteronomy 30:19). It does NOT mean that we can be virtuous by our own power. It never did.

            3. No, it is a misunderstanding. I really wish you would allow Catholics to tell you what our faith is instead of assuming you know Catholicism better than Catholics and anathematizing us for it. You brought up Titus 3:5 and claim that good works have nothing to do with salvation. While it is true that it is impossible to merit the initial grace of justification (in any sense, condign or otherwise), I want to ask you a couple questions. First, do good works get rewarded? And secondly, if they do get rewarded, what is that reward?

            And as a side note, your tone is still unacceptable. You assume the worst in your interlocutors. This is what makes you so unpleasant and will never convince anyone. Nothing you say scares me in the least. In fact, it makes me pity you. I wonder if you had a very bad experience from some Catholics which is what makes you hate the Catholic Church so much. Would you mind telling me what makes you want to come to a Catholic blog and tell us all that we believe doctrines of demons and are going to hell? Does this give you pleasure? If so why?

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          4. BB: I believe the catechism is inconsistent and WOEFULLY unbiblical when we read that, “God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel, so that he might of his own accord, seek his Creator”. This statement is utterly unbiblical —”

            M: The CCC 1730 references Sirach 15:14.

            He created humanity at the beginning,
                and he left them to the power
                of their choices.
            {Common English Bible (CEB)}

            How is Sirach unbiblical?

            Further, you quote only a portion of 1730. The rest is:

            God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions…so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.

            Question: How are we not God’s creations, God’s rational beings, endowed with personal dignity? Do we not initiate and control our actions?

            Does not God elsewhere in scripture direct us to knock at his door, ask for what we need, and seek him everywhere? Are these not actions?

        1. BB: 3) Joe says that it is a common misunderstanding that the RCC teaches that we must add our good works to what Christ did on the cross.
          Response? IT IS NOT A MISUNDERSTANDING.

          …blah blah blah blindness of heart…

          Good works (with the help of God’s grace) are directly stated to be the entry way to eternal life in CCC 1821.

          CCC: “We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ.

          The CCC is speaking about condign merit, not strict merit. It specifies that these are works done in the grace of Christ — thus by the merit of the Cross of Christ. Thus, this is not adding to the cross at all. On the contrary, it’s participating in the cross of Christ, since we believe that we participate in the cross of Christ not only by faith, but also by good works done in His grace. But it seems you’ve missed that since you are assuming that justification (by the cross of Christ) is by faith alone. It’s not. James 2:17-26

          Sorry. I’m with Joe here, you are misunderstanding Catholic Theology here. I used to be a committed Calvinist protestant, so I’ve been on both sides.

          1. AF: CCC: “We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ.”
            The CCC is speaking about condign merit, not strict merit.

            BB: The Bible does not speak of a condign “gracious merit”. It is completely oxymoronic, just as there is no such thing as a boxer who is a “light-heavy weight”
            Moreover, Aquinas confirms your filthy doctrine: “But if we are speaking of a meritorious work as proceeding from the grace of the Holy Spirit, it merits eternal life CONDIGNLY.”
            (Nature & Grace, p. 207 in Summa Theologica, 12ae, Q. 114, Art. 3)

            Again, the grace of the Holy Spirit [i.e., that power infused into you via the sacraments, enabling you to run around doing good deeds] MERITS ETERNAL LIFE CONDIGNLY, by the virtuous acts you do in the body! Yep. We get it. We understand!
            But we reject this scenario as Satan’s masterpiece!

            AF: It specifies that these are works done in the grace of Christ — thus by the merit of the Cross of Christ.

            BB: How many times must it be said that Scripture does not speak of a “grace-produced-works-salvation”?! Neither does the Bible differentiate between good works done in OR out of God’s grace to enter heaven. We are “NOT saved by works of righteousness which we have done” thunders Titus 3:5, and that means ANY works whatsoever.

            AF: Thus, this is not adding to the cross at all.

            BB: It most certainly is!

            AF: On the contrary, it’s participating in the cross of Christ, since we believe that we participate in the cross of Christ not only by faith, but also by good works done in His grace.

            BB: The statement of “participating in the cross of Christ” via “good works done in grace” is adhering to “another jesus and another gospel per 2 Cor 11:4. It is nothing but religious mumbo-jumbo, laced with religious overtones, but void of any substance or biblical precedent. TELL US ALL, if you please, how you manage to get your good works to be salvific by “participating” in the blood-stained cross at Calvary?!
            Naturally, you will not answer that question, for to ask it is like asking someone to rearrange the furniture on the deck of the Titanic. It’s a complete waste of time.

            AF: you are assuming that justification (by the cross of Christ) is by faith alone. It’s not. James 2:17-26

            BB: We are repeatedly told that we are not saved by our good deeds, with no red carpet rolled out to accommodate the Catholic position (Eph 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Rom 4:5,6; Rom 3:25-28, Rom11:6).
            Thus, if it is not by works, the only other option is that it is by faith alone. Simple.
            Trent tells us that good deeds done through the grace of God and the merits of Jesus Christ, merits eternal life. Here again, we note the oxymoronic, “gracious merit” infuuuuuused into a person to do good deeds which opens the gate of heaven. When the Council states that Catholics can truly merit eternal life, it means that there is an EQUALITY between the work performed and the reward received. But it is OUTRAGEOUS to put salvation as having been earned/merited by ANY works performed. Aquinas explained that good works which proceed from the grace of the Holy Spirit merit everlasting life condignly, and is “granted in accordance with a fair judgment.”

            NO. We do not merit eternal life “condignly” in accordance with a fair judgment in unison with our works (!!!). These horrific thoughts absolutely RUINS the free gift of God offered in the gospel and must be classified as downright satanic.
            The falsity of these words simply cannot be underestimated: “eternal life is to be offered to those who work well till the end”. It is a, “reward promised by God, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits”—-and by the good works that he performs by the grace of God, [that person] “truly merits eternal life”.

            Count on it: you will be thrown out of the marriage supper of the Lamb into your eternal doom by trusting in your condign merited, grace-produced good works to save you!

          2. Re: Titus’ thundering: Perhaps we need to review the exact words and ask the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment. God did not save because we *had done* anything good. ‘Had done’ is past perfect tense and implies that one thing happened (Man sinned) in the past before something else happened–God saved–in the past). God sent his Son as our Saviour despite humanity’s sin. Adam and Eve had sinned and had been thrown out of God’s paradisiacal place. Mankind was not saved until the Messiah’s historical saving.. The new convenant began a new story. And if *we today* are not to cooperate in/with/through God’s grace and all has been determined, Titus is wasting breath by reminding the people in v. 1 to “do whatever is good,” etc. Our works do matter, according to Titus 3:1ff.

            Titus 3:1-10 1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. 3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. 9But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.

          3. Barry,

            The word BECOME is a verb. It defines a ‘state’ of being. It is not ‘being’ per se. It is a PROCESS, a beginning to be. It is not existence in and of itself. Becoming God differs from being GOD. It implies conversion to just as the Synoptics and the Epistles of Paul describe our response to the gift of the Incarnation. A growing with Jesus as he journeyed to the Cross.

            be·come
            [bəˈkəm]

            VERB
            begin to be:
            “they became angry” · [more]
            grow to be; turn into:
            “the child will become an adult”
            synonyms: grow · get · turn · come to be · get to be · wax
            (of a person) qualify or be accepted as; acquire the status of:
            “she wanted to become a doctor”
            synonyms: turn into · change into · be transformed into · be converted into

          4. M: The word BECOME is a verb. It defines a ‘state’ of being.

            BB: From the RC point of view, I understand that.

            M: It is not ‘being’ per se. It is a PROCESS, a beginning to be. It is not existence in and of itself. Becoming God differs from being GOD.

            BB: Got it.

            M: It implies conversion… A growing with Jesus as he journeyed to the Cross.

            BB: If I am understanding you correctly, you mean to say that conversion (which is a process) can be equated with the process or path that lead to the cross, consisting of all the accomplishments of a 33 year old life. Fine. We use the word “conversion” in the natural world (i.e., when food is converted, by a process, into body tissue). Got it. However, when it comes to salvation, you are either saved or you are not, at any given point in time, and when the Grim Reaper calls, the “conversion” stops and you will go to either one of three places according to the RCC. Technically, Catholics imagine their fate hinges on their performance at the time of death and sadly, the cross-work of Christ is obscured. They have no idea what it means to be found at death, “NOT having a righteousness of my own” (Phil 3:9) by trusting exclusively in the “obedience of the One” (Romans 5:19) which leads to peace of mind by calling him, “The Lord our Righteousness” (Jer 23:6).
            They are terrified of dying imperfect and the likelihood of purgatory, but Paul, who said he was far from perfect (Phil 3:12), went straight to heaven, teaching us purgatory is a scam, as Paul’s imperfections were obviously subsumed under the blood of Christ.

            Keeping in mind what you said about conversion being a journey, I refer now to LLC at 12:14….

            “St. Athanasius… follows [with] one of the best rebuttals of Sola Fide (Faith Alone): “For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love”
            It is necessary to “support our faith” with acts.

            Response? As if any Protestant on earth, living or dead, ever was against putting into practice the fruits of the Spirit! This statement is pure misery to our ears!
            In conjunction with the view of LLC and the article topic, everyone agrees the RCC teaches salvation is synergistic, instead of monergistic. But this is wrong. I know full well we have the responsibility to do good, but the Catholic position, which claims to be synergistic, is actually MAN-centered. They escape the charge by putting on a halo and saying “but it is by God’s grace propelling us to DO those good deeds that makes all the difference.”
            NO. Scripture does not allow for any salvific virtue to our good deeds, with or without God’s grace. This should be obvious because no dollar bill dropped into the plate of a homeless person has anything to say to the matter of our sin debt. AND THIS IS YOUR FATAL ERROR, as it was for those self-proclaiming Christians in Matt 7. Scripture says we are saved APART from the works of the law (leaving no other option than to be justified by faith alone in the good works of Christ!). Catholicism spits in God’s face and says we ARE justified, not only by good deeds, but specifically by the Mosaic law! (CCC 16, 1821, 2068)… in complete and utter contradiction to Acts 13:39, telling us the law of Moses has been ELIMINATED as the means to justification.

            So save your breath. No amount of putting your index finger in-between your lips and rubbing it up and down and going blah blah blah will vindicate the disgraceful, “grace-produced-works-salvation” offered by the RCC! The facts are too clear to ignore. To constantly and forever say to me that “you don’t understand Catholicism” will not work either. If I, who has scrupulously studied your catechism and other documents does not understand, then I will kindly ask you to name for me just one non-Catholic who DOES understand, and yet still refuses to enter the RCC. Once you name that person, I will then compare my views with theirs, and if they match…(as I suspect)….then your accusation that I don’t understand will be found to be dishonest. The Pope says on p. 6 that the catechism was written for those who want to “KNOW” what the RCC teaches. Well now. If you cannot name for me one non-RC who DOES understand your religion, then the Pope has utterly failed in his mission, has he not?
            Anyway, the problem with using such tendentious terminology such as “becoming God”, immediately brings confusion and becomes suspect from the get-go as the Creator says there ARE no other gods before him, so any sensitive writer should have done AWAY with it and used something else instead to make their point. Second, such terminology leads people like yourself to rest their souls in and attach a salvific merit toooooo, those very good deeds, which just so happens to be the fatal flaw of every single religious system on this earth, bar none, except Christianity… (which I submit, Catholicism is not). Third, the RCC makes salvation difficult because by using such skewered terminology, desecrates the gospel, as eloquently shown by no better example than poster Matthew. He came right out and said that “becoming God…IS THE GOSPEL”…..
            which it most certainly is NOT. If Matt was trying to say, as previously mentioned, that the suitcase full of good works he is doing on the path to becoming God… “IS THE GOSPEL”… to which he hopes to present to the King at the Judgment throne, he is as LOST as a needle in a haystack.
            Fourth, I came down on Matt hard because, as Mr. Hesch says in his first sentence, certain concepts are “the driving force for a lot of bad theology”. Exactly. The “becoming God” notion not only is the driving force for just THAT for the above reasons, but, leads Matt to “religious overload”, being so heavenly minded, he is no earthly good. IOW, he says, “Christ and the Church are so united that they are ONE flesh, ONE mystical PERSON”.
            NO! We are not… “SOOOOOOO united that we are one mystical PERRRRRRSON”. This type of language pumps up Scripture like a hot air ballon and conveys notions that go BEYOND the Text. and is therefore, unwarranted and sinful. Sounds so sentimental, doesn’t it?…. but is in fact, nothing but a pile of pious platitudes. “We are one mystical PERSON”…my immaculate foot! Prove it, my dear Margo and tell us why being told we are “in Christ” over 25 times, is simply not enough….or forever hold your peace.

          5. BB,
            “I refer now to LLC at 12:14” = you probably don’t realize that the quote is not St. Athanasius; it’s from 2 Peter 1:5-7.
            “But this is wrong” = therefore, in your opinion, James 2:14 and 2:26 is wrong.
            “This should be obvious because no dollar bill dropped into the plate of a homeless person has anything to say to the matter of our sin debt” = Matthew 25:31-46 disagrees with your statement.
            “Catholicism spits in God’s face and says we ARE justified, not only by good deeds, but specifically by the Mosaic law!” = you may want to read Matthew 5:17-19 again.
            “Scripture does not allow for any salvific virtue to our good deeds, with or without God’s grace” = again, Scriptures disagrees with you violently; see, please, Matthew 5:1-12.
            “so any sensitive writer should have done AWAY with it and used something else instead to make their point” = therefore, in your opinion, St. Peter should have kept quiet. Nicely done…
            As a suggestion for future posts, please read Matthew 5:37 and stay within topic, please.

        2. Moreover, Aquinas confirms your filthy doctrine: “But if we are speaking of a meritorious work as proceeding from the grace of the Holy Spirit, it merits eternal life CONDIGNLY.”
          (Nature & Grace, p. 207 in Summa Theologica, 12ae, Q. 114, Art. 3)

          Again, the grace of the Holy Spirit [i.e., that power infused into you via the sacraments, enabling you to run around doing good deeds] MERITS ETERNAL LIFE CONDIGNLY, by the virtuous acts you do in the body!

          I’d much rather go with Saint Thomas Aquinas and many other holy men interpreting the scripture than the likes of Luther and Calvin, who were terrible men. The fact that he confirms what I am saying comforts me and increases my certainty that I am in the right Church, and that I made the right choice rejecting Calvinism.

          Yep. We get it. We understand!
          But we reject this scenario as Satan’s masterpiece!

          Good to see that you see. I hope for your sake that you someday reconsider your acceptance of the doctrines of demons, but I can’t force the truth down your throat. It took you a while to finally make some arguments about condign merit though.

          TELL US ALL, if you please, how you manage to get your good works to be salvific by “participating” in the blood-stained cross at Calvary?!

          Romans 2:6-11:

          “Who will render to every man according to his works. To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life: But to them that are contentious, and who obey not the truth, but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation. Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek. But glory, and honour, and peace to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For there is no respect of persons with God.”

          Here eternal life is a reward for patience in good works. That’s condign merit.

          Philippians 3:8-11:

          “Furthermore I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ: And may be found in him, not having my justice, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ Jesus, which is of God, justice in faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death, If by any means I may attain to the resurrection which is from the dead.”

          Here St. Paul weds very nicely Justification by faith and complete reliance on the Justice of Christ, with fellowship in his sufferings to attain to resurrection from death. It’s both-and, not either-or. Justification by faith and works, not faith alone. We need to have faith *and* become conformable to his death

          Matthew 10:38-39:

          “And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it.”

          Here even our Lord shows that unless we lose our life in union with Him, we shall not find life.

          More here:
          https://www.catholic.com/tract/reward-and-merit

          And these are just a few passages. Not even beginning to show how many times the Bible ties works/condign merit with salvation. It’s everywhere, and these are not “stumbling passages”. This is actually the teaching of our Lord and the Apostles.

          Count on it: you will be thrown out of the marriage supper of the Lamb into your eternal doom by trusting in your condign merited, grace-produced good works to save you!

          And you as well. I have little doubt in my mind that you will be thrown out of the marriage supper because you did not do the Father’s will (Matthew 7:21), and tried to rely on your artificial faith alone (circa 1517) Luther/Calvin gospel.

          1. “Naturally, you will not answer that question, for to ask it is like asking someone to rearrange the furniture on the deck of the Titanic. It’s a complete waste of time.”

            Here’s the answer: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

            -St. Paul

            Also this: “Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does “head and members” mean? Christ and the Church.”

            -St. Augustine

            How exactly affirming the fact that all of our virtues are gifts from God because He is the Source of all Holiness “destroy free grace?” Honestly, your bluster is just funny at this point.

          2. BB: TELL US ALL, if you please, how you manage to get your good works to be salvific by “participating” in the blood-stained cross at Calvary?!

            AF: Romans 2:6-11:
            “Who will render to every man according to his works. To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life…”
            Here eternal life is a reward for patience in good works. That’s condign merit.

            BB: First of all, you utterly failed to answer my question. Romans 2:6 says NOTHING about doing works by “participating” in some foggy way with Calvary’s cross. It’s nothing but garbled, miserable, religious claptrap meant to intimidate the laity into thinking the higher-ups know what their talking about, but who in fact, are deluded themselves.
            As for Romans 2:6, the verse cannot POSSIBLY be teaching what you think it does because it is an established fact that we are justified APART from the works of the law (Rms 3:28, Gal 2:16, Titus 3:5)… THAT MEANS….(hello!) ANY GOOD WORKS, WHATEVER SORT THEY MAY BE, condign or not! Consequently, the verse is not saying God will render to us eternal life as a result of our good works! THAT IS THE GAME-PLAN OF EVERY RELIGION ON PLANET EARTH, including Catholicism. Only Christianity offers salvation freely, by faith alone in the merits of Christ alone, period….not some religious quackery based on “participating” in Calvary’s cross by doing good works which merit heaven! Oy vey….when will the madness end?
            God will have us stand before him in no other way than by having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith ((Rms 4:6, 11). It is HIS, and HIS ALONE good works that are our “merit”, so that at the end of the day, we may be found, “NOT having a righteousness of our own” (Phil 3:9) thus making him, “The Lord our Righteousness” (Jer 23:6).

            We DO the works, yes, and store up for ourselves treasures in heaven by doing so, but they DON’T have any saving efficacy AT ALL, mainly because writing out a check to the United Way does not have any power that speaks to our right standing with God in relation to our sin debt. Our good works are the result of our on-going SANCTIFICATION, which will ever remain IMPERFECT this side of heaven (Phil 3:12), and no one gets thru heaven’s gate with an imperfect righteousness. Sadly, this is what you are hoping for, and are in the exact same position as the man who tried to get into the wedding feast wearing his own “filthy rags of righteousness” as it were, but God threw him out. FYI, it was the tradition of the day for the host to provide the wedding garments for the guests! This is what God requires; namely, that we be dressed in the righteousness of Christ which he provides by faith alone and NOT by the deadly mixture of Christ’s merit PLUS the merit of our good works, which the RCC offers.

            AF: Phil 3 says, [that I] may be found in him, not having my justice, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ Jesus

            BB: You like to quote the Bible, but the RCC nullifies this verse by demanding you keep all the commandments (!!!). THAT, sir, is not hoping to be found with a righteousness “not my own” as Paul says, but hoping to be found with a justice “that is of the law” (!!!) precisely what Paul rejects! As if that wasn’t enough, we are told that God has ELIMINATED the law of Moses as the means for our justification (Acts 13:39) yet your insidious church DEMANDS the law of Moses to be saved! (CCC 16, 2068).

            Let me confirm then, that at this point in life, unless you wake up out of your spiritual coma before the Grim Reaper calls, you are indeed lost.

          3. Barry,

            You are the judge of no one and have absolutely zero authority to call anyone lost. That’s why you scare no one here.

            However, answer me this. You said: “We DO the works, yes, and store up for ourselves treasures in heaven by doing so”

            I have one simple question. What are those treasures?

          4. M: You are the judge of no one and have absolutely zero authority to call anyone lost. That’s why you scare no one here.

            BB: The RCC has gone on record numerous times by calling all non-Catholics…LOST, so don’t make me laugh by saying THEY have the authority to do it, but I don’t. Jesus Christ told us ALL to JUDGE, now get it straight. If we did not JUDGE, how would we we able to conclude someone was a wolf in sheep’s clothing? If we didn’t JUDGE, how would we be able to expose the unfruitful works of darkness as instructed? If we did not JUDGE, how would we follow the command to “judge righteous judgment”? Obviously, your accusation against me is absurd, and your logic to justify it, beyond ridiculous.
            Again, since the RCC has gone on record to publicly declare her views, she has opened herself up to public scrutiny; therefore I have EVERY right to examine her claims in light of Holy Writ. Thus, when Boniface VIII tells us that “it is altogether necessary for salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff”, all true Christians will recognize the Pope as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and for the false prophet that he is, since the Bible will not allow this ludicrous demand which pollutes the gospel and frustrates the free grace of God in the saving of sinners.
            Someone says, “Oh, you keep on mentioning Boniface”. Yep. Any chance I get. We will judge the RCC by the words that come out of their mouth just as you just our words.

            Boniface had, to use your words, ZERO authority to call anyone lost based on the completely unheard of doctrine unknown for 1300 years that submission to a man was necessary for salvation; a concept he pulled like a rabbit out of a hat. Ergo, I have EVERY right to call the RCC ***cursed*** because the Lord says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man”. Did you get that? Even a child can understand. Because the RCC teaches their people to trust in man, they are cursed, plain and simple. Now wasn’t that easy?

            M: However, answer me this. You said: “We DO the works, yes, and store up for ourselves treasures in heaven by doing so”

            I have one simple question. What are those treasures?

            BB: Look it up on-line. I’m sure I will agree with any commentator’s opinion.

          5. Barry,

            …lol. Seriously that’s the best you can do? You’re funny. And you can’t even answer my question. What if I told you that the “treasure in Heaven” …is God Himself?

          6. M: …lol. Seriously that’s the best you can do?

            BB: You are refuted

            M: And you can’t even answer my question.

            BB: Oh stop it, as if to imply you left me stumped. My paper trail speaks for itself. It was a question that served no purpose as far as I could see, but I’m glad I let you answer it for me. Now you look like even more of a fool than I first thought.

            M: What if I told you that the “treasure in Heaven” …is God Himself?

            BB: What if I told you that not one person in the history of the universe ever thought any such stupid thing? The fact that we are told to “STORE UP” for ourselves treasures in heaven does not have anything whatsoever with “STORING UP GOD” as you ignorantly suggest and butcher the Text to try to convey for some unknown reason. Who in the world knows WHAT strange offshoot of Catholicism YOU are coming from. I’m only glad I’m not a part of it.

          7. BB: “…unless you wake up out of your spiritual coma before the Grim Reaper calls, you are indeed lost..”

            M: Are you saying that actions DO matter? We CAN influence our salvation?

          8. Margo,

            Good question. It will probably take him several paragraphs to explain how you must do something to be saved doesn’t really mean you must do something.

          9. Barry,

            And your final answer is proof why you teach a false gospel that is weak and saves nothing and no one. The True Gospel teaches that God became man so that Man can become God. To deny that is to deny Christianity at it’s fundamental eschatological level. May God one day take you out of the darkness. God bless!

            Matthew

          10. M: The True Gospel teaches that God became man so that Man can become God.

            BB: You will join the Mormons in hell with that satanic belief. You exemplify perfectly those who are appointed to madness:
            “Because they receive not a love of the truth, God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thess).

          11. Matt: You don’t know who said that do you? Figures…

            BB: Oh thou fool.
            First of all, I know darn well that the statement is in the catechism and whooooooo said it, but the first point is that, by definition, the idea that “we may become God” is NOT THE GOSPEL BY DEFINITION, as ignorantly stated for all to see. I simply can’t keep count of how many tickets to hell Catholics have earned as a result of so many false doctrines! It’s like wondering how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pope. The world may never know.

            Second, I am very well aware that you will try and justify this obnoxious belief by twisting a passage that says we may become partakers of the divine nature and thus a “son of God”. BUT THE CONCEPT OF “BECOMING GOD” is OUT OF ORDER , and the wording used by those dumbos who original said it, SINFUL, in light of Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; 45:5. But of course, all this isn’t surprising, because when you have a church that contains so many other errors like meriting salvation by OUR works and not the works of Christ, suffering in purgatory by OUR sweat, and not the sweat of Christ and on and on, the potential to move towards even more error is right on deck.
            So count on it: Without taking into consideration the above verses which state there will NEVER be any other gods, now or in the future (!!!) ….biblically illiterate catechism editors are guilty of a profound failure to clarify further, which would DEFINITELY be needed in light of the above verses. That SO MANY people could look at the rough draft before it was printed and not think that some further explanation is necessary, is despicable, and only shows NONE of them have the Holy Spirit within. Again, if they had the Spirit, they would, like Paul, STRIVE FOR CLARITY. As it is, they have left open the possibility for misunderstanding, and this is PRECISELY what is seen by your taking this horrific concept of “becoming God” and then defining it “AS THE GOSPEL ITSELF”, proving in a heartbeat that you are totally and absolutely LOST beyond all shadow of any doubt. We shudder for you when thinking that on Judgment Day you will stand before your Creator and say, “Here I am, I am now ready to become God for all eternity”. All he will do is repeat what he said in the verses I quoted, and then cast you out.
            Kindly do not look in MY direction on that fateful day and say I didn’t warn you.

          12. Barry,

            I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You call Sts Ireneaus, Athanasius and Augustine “dumbos” which makes this decision so laughably easy. And yet, it’s so sad that you manage to pile that much heresy into a few internet bits.

            The only consistent way to hold to your denial of theosis/divinization is by denying the incarnation all together. You have contempt for St. Athanasius and have thrown in your lot with the arch-heretic Arius. As St. Augustine said: “Jesus the head, TOGETHER with the members (the Body/Church), make up the whole Christ.” You have decapitated Jesus by separating the Head from the Body. Which in turn makes you against Jesus Christ, ie Anti-Christ. It’s also not surprising that you would consider the Dogma of Theosis/Divinization to be tantamount to polytheism. Arius and Eunomius said as much. It’s abundantly clear now that you reject the Incarnation and the Divinity of Jesus, whether you know it or not. And now the only question becomes, do I believe St. Ireneaus, St Athanasius, St. Augustine, all the other Church Fathers both East and West who spoke of this…or Barry the Calvinist internet troll? Honestly it could’t be easier. I should thank you for once again confirming (not that I needed this specifically) that Protestantism is Arian and Gnostic at it’s core and comes from the Devil. Your palpable arrogance in spewing this Arian/gnostic heresy is also a big time clue. Well did St. John Chrysostom speak of your errors when he called them the “ravings of demoniacal madmen” (On the Priesthood).

            Jesus Christ said to Saul “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME?” Not my followers, me. Christ and the Church are so united that they are ONE flesh, ONE mystical Person. Yes, this IS the Gospel which you are in complete denial over. Luckily for you, nothing is impossible with God and He is capable of affecting your repentance. I will pray for Him to do so concerning you.

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          13. M: I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

            BB: I suggest you cry, for as previously indicated, for you to define the gospel as being that “man may become God”, is perfectly ridiculous, outrageous, satanic, ruinous to the faith and lunacy personified.
            Have I made myself clear?

            M: You call Sts Ireneaus, Athanasius and Augustine “dumbos” which makes this decision so laughably easy.

            BB: Proving once again your insane adherence to the supposed infallibly of the ECF’s is not to be taken seriously. Thinking that these men were immune from error is the height of absurdity, which even THEY would disagree with when they oftentimes say, “I disagree with so and so”. You are refuted.

            M: As St. Augustine said: “Jesus the head, TOGETHER with the members (the Body/Church), make up the whole Christ.”

            BB: Whatever the HELICOPTER Augustine meant by that, he certainly did not mean in any literal sense that “WE ARE CHRIST”. How many times must I call you a fool? WE ARE HIS CREATION, and we will always be “the creature” and his “servants who serve him” says Revelation. We are who he created us to be, and he is who HE is. You are trying to promote some metaphysically crankpot theology where “we are Christ”.
            NO! Scripture says we are “IN CHRIST” over 25 times in the N.T. and NO WHERE does it signify ANYTHING the RCC tries to hoodwink us into believing. Get a good commentary from someone whose smarter than you and LEARN SOMETHING!

            M:You have decapitated Jesus by separating the Head from the Body.

            BB: More nonsense! You leave the cartoonish impression that we will become LITERAL microscopic cells running thru his veins when we get to heaven– which makes up one physical and geometric physical body.
            Nothing could be more asinine, and is the epitome of religion gone a MUCK.

            M: It’s abundantly clear now that you reject the Incarnation and the Divinity of Jesus, whether you know it or not.

            BB: Your accusations are so comical, they deserve to be in Jay Leno’s monologue on the Tonight Show.

            M: Protestantism is Arian and Gnostic at it’s core

            BB: Put a lid on it, will ya? It is in fact, THE RCC that is gnostic to the core, for in case you’ve forgotten, the gnostics claimed to have some secret unwritten revelation passed down “viva voice” to which they claimed they were privy to. THIS IS EXACTLY what the RCC claims, and so your quirky quip is both erroneous and hypocritical…to the max!

            M: Jesus Christ said to Saul “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME?” Not my followers, me. Christ and the Church are so united that they are ONE flesh, ONE mystical Person.

            BB: We have no problem with what Jesus said to Saul. By persecuting Christians, Saul was, BY EXTENSION, persecuting the Lord (as any Bible commentary on earth would tell you), but this is ZERO evidence for the claptrap theology the RCC is trying to sell about us being “ONE MYSTICAL PERSON”. Were Adam & Eve technically ONE BODY when he said she was flesh of my flesh? NO! They were separate beings and you darn well know it. I know ALLLLLL about what the Scripture has to say about Christians being “the body of Christ”, but the Catholic rant that we are all “one mystical PERSON” FAR exceeds anything we read in the Text and is nothing but a religious sound-bite, designed to tickle the ear.
            But we must all… SCRATCH IT OFF.

          14. BB,
            “Oh thou fool” = Aside from the fact that the CCC abundantly rejects pantheism and polytheism, this quote from St. Athanasius, read in the appropriate context, provided by the previous line in the paragraph (from St. Jerome), is perfectly aligned with Biblical teachings. Furthermore, a closer look to St. Athanasius original text (in Greek and its Latin translation) shows how the Greek verb theopoiethomen carries the connotation of participation in godhood rather than becoming God, thus aligning perfectly with 2 Peter 1:4.
            Interestingly, this verse is followed by one of the best rebuttal of Sola Fide (Faith Alone) found in Scriptures: “For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual[e] affection, and mutual[f] affection with love”. It is necessary to “support our faith” with acts.

          15. Barry

            Oh you’ve made yourself clear alright. Clear that you see yourself as vastly superior to everyone else. Vastly superior to Augustine, Athanasius, Ireneaus, and everyone who disagrees with you. The fact is, you cannot find anyone with your twisted warped theology until really you yourself came along. Your ego is so massively inflated that you trash the defender of Trinitarian Orthodoxy without a second thought. You are as I and St. John Chrysostom said, a demoniacal madman. Your behavior is of one possessed by the Devil. I now seriously suspect that you need an exorcism. Perhaps I shouldn’t blame you yourself, but rather all the demons who have dominated you and filled you with pride beyond belief. Of course you throw your lot in with Arius. You didn’t even affirm the Incarnation and the Divinity of Christ as you relentlessly (but hopelessly) attack His Body the Catholic Church. Once again, it’s pity I feel for you. Perhaps I should see if a priest can exorcise all the demons oppressing you. May God have mercy on you.

            Matthew

          16. Sorry for the duplicate post. This is the intended placement.
            Barry,
            The word BECOME is a verb. It defines a ‘state’ of being. It is not ‘being’ per se. It is a PROCESS, a beginning to be. It is not existence in and of itself. Becoming God differs from being GOD. It implies conversion.
            The Apostle Paul describes our response to the gift of the Incarnation as a putting on of Christ so that we may be crucified and resurrected with Him. (i.e.,become like him, participate with him, align our lives with his, etc.)

            be·come
            [bəˈkəm]
            VERB
            begin to be:
            “they became angry” · [more]
            grow to be; turn into:
            “the child will become an adult”
            synonyms: grow · get · turn · come to be · get to be · wax
            (of a person) qualify or be accepted as; acquire the status of:
            “she wanted to become a doctor”
            synonyms: turn into · change into · be transformed into · be converted into

          17. M: The fact is, you cannot find anyone with your twisted warped theology until really you yourself came along.

            BB: Do you do stand-up comedy as a side job? I suspect you do since you’re very good at it.
            The laugh here is that you have the audacity to accuse me of pulling my theology like a rabbit out of a hat, while “YOU ARE THE MAN” (as Nathan said to David), who has pulled like like a rabbit out of hat the devilish proposition that “becoming God… IS THE GOSPEL”. Worse still, everyone reading this KNOWS you blew it…(royally!)… but under no circumstances WHATSOEVER does any Catholic admonish you. Instead, they keep their pious mouths shut, terrified of the prospect to call you out on it. Ergo, they are just as guilty for letting this horrific error go untouched. So I will gladly stand alone and tell you that to define the gospel in such a way, proves your passport to hell is ready and waiting, signed by the One who will say, “out of my sight!

            M: Your behavior is of one possessed by the Devil. I now seriously suspect that you need an exorcism.

            BB: I see the comedy continues. Now all you need is to do is fill in the obligatory profanity which every comedy flick does, and you’ll fit right in.

            M: You didn’t even affirm the Incarnation and the Divinity of Christ

            BB: There was NO NEED to affirm any such thing in a conversation like this. Yikes! There clearly are far too many cobwebs in the windmills of your mind. If you would simply FUMIGATE yourself with the word of God ALONE, you would not be falling into such horrific error.

          18. Barry,

            You still HAVEN’T affirmed the Incarnation and the Divinity of Jesus Christ. I wonder if you even can. It’s hilarious that you charge me with making Theosis/Divinization up. I already quoted St. Augustine and St. Athanasius to you. They put the demons who have hold of you to unbearable shame. That’s why you lash out against them and once again worship yourself and your own opinions. The elect are predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ so that He will be the first born among many brethren. Satan despises this and so he attacks it. Predestination is about Divinization. Yes this is the Gospel which you, or rather the demons who have mastered you, despise so much. It breaks the heart. May God have mercy on you.

            Matthew

          19. Matt: Barry [is a] Calvinist internet troll

            BB: If we are to define a troll as someone who sets out to “antagonize” people on-line by posting “inflammatory” comments, you may call it what you will. However, if my “inflammatory” comments are the catalyst to get you off your lazy butt to do further research, then I have accomplished my goal and I know God is well pleased. He approves of provoking controversy for His glory, and you darn well know it.
            In light of that, your attempt at insulting me, disappears like a vapor.

          20. Matt: Anyone who is interested can begin to educate themselves on Divinization/Theosis with this:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divinization_(Christian)

            BB: The first sentence says,

            “In Christian theology, divinization (deification, making divine, or theosis) is the transforming effect of divine grace”.

            This only proves my point made @ 7:52. Catholicism teaches that God provides “grace” via the sacraments, which in turn supplies the spiritual “kick-in-the-pants” to go running around doing good deeds, which then merit heaven (CCC 1821). This is the precisely what makes Catholicism a false gospel. When the RCC says we are saved by grace, they are using their own dictionary, unsupported by any Bible scholar, concordance or lexicon on this planet.
            Count on it: THERE IS NO SAVING GRACE IN OUR GOOD DEEDS! Good deeds do NOT have the power to save us, they do NOT have the power to wipe away our sins, and they do NOT have the right to be on the same level as the blood of Christ. FYI, Jesus has no intention to play second fiddle to your damnable, grace-produced good works!
            True Christians, which I’m afraid you are not, know that all our good deeds will indeed be remembered, right down to the last cup of water (if they are done with an eye to God’s glory). All true Christians, which I’m afraid you are not, are happy to go about storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven, which indeed ARE those very good deeds we do, but which you defined previously on this thread as.. “God himself” being our treasure. This is complete hogwash.
            All true Christians, which I’m afraid you are not, realize that if God has eliminated the greatest law system ever given to man as the means to justification (Acts 13:39), it would then be impossible to imagine that he would replace it with some LESSER law, like Roman Catholicism, to take its place! Yet this is exactly what your filthy catechism proposes; namely, the “sacraments of the new covenant being necessary for salvation” (CCC 1129).

  6. This is another fine article, Joe. I think that it’s another example of our Catholic, “…both this, and that…” view as opposed to the, “…either this, or that…” view.

    1. CWD: Why do you post?

      BB: Can you really be that ignorant to ask such a question. While I’m sure you would much rather I watch Oprah interview the latest celebrity, God does not call us to be COUCH POTATOES. And for those who can handle it, we are to, “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (cf. Titus 1:9-13, Eph 5:11, 2 Tim 4:2, Romans 16:17-18). See my post at 6:16.

      CWD: Your words cannot change man in your worldview

      BB: I am quite aware that I do not have the power to open up anyone’s eyes (Luke 24:45). But that does not, once again, mean that I should play tiddlywinks!
      We are only called to plant seeds. The rest is up to him.

      1. Barry –

        None of your posts matter. You can’t change the elect so why are you bothering? Your system is 100% determinism and everything is set in place. Do whatever you want. In fact, sin away under your system because man is POWERLESS to cooperate with grace. If God made him part of the elect the sin will eventually stop. If not, then get some earthly pleasure while you can since only hell awaits and there’s nothing the non-elect can do since everything has been pre-ordained.

        1. CWD: None of your posts matter. You can’t change the elect so why are you bothering?

          BB: Oh thou fool. Did it not ever occur to you that WE DO NOT KNOW WHO THE ELECT ARE? That being so, we…”bother”… to plant seeds.

          CWD: Plant seeds? You talk out of both sides of your mouth. The seeds you plant are dead. Only God can plant seeds, not you.

          BB: Show us in Scripture where God tells us to not go about planting the seeds of the gospel.
          Needless to say, there will be no answer to that, as you must have taken one aspirin too many.

          1. “We do not know who the elect are”

            And yet, you seem mighty sure that you are of the elect and we are not. Seriously Barry, I almost wish you’d try harder…

          2. BB, why does St. Peter urge Christians to “make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) if, as you say (and in bold letters, no less!): “WE DO NOT KNOW WHO THE ELECT ARE…” Why would St. Peter urge this?

            What’s more, given that according to Calvin, God sometimes gives people a dose of “evanescent grace” to make them think they’re elect when they’re actually not, how could we possibly take the good St. Peter’s urgent plea seriously?

            Can you be sure the presumed grace that inspires you to write your responses isn’t “evanescent”?

          3. Barry –

            You’ve created a Alice in Wonderland theology. How? You claim the Elect are predetermined and there is NOTHING that man can do to become part of the Elect. Pure chance. Then you have the gall to claim that planting seeds might do something for man as though he has a choice to become part of the Elect. No logical connection whatsoever.

            Sin away since if you’re part of the Elect you’ll still be saved in the end. If not, enjoy the pleasures of the flesh since you’re going to hell anyway. Those are the logical conclusions from your theology when one breaks it down. Pure determinism.

      2. Plant seeds? You talk out of both sides of your mouth. The seeds you plant are dead. Only God can plant seeds, not you. You can’t do ANYTHING! You’re completely removed man who is incapable of doing anything but sin or if he’s part of the elect then he’s save. Go scratch off a lottery ticket.

      3. …demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. (cf. Titus 1:9-13, etc.)

        You missed Titus 1:7 “For a bishop must be without crime, as the steward of God: not proud, not subject to anger, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre:…”

        Last I knew, you weren’t a bishop. Pretty sure you’re just a common Calvinist nut with delusions of grandeur believing himself to be an agent of God’s correction on all the “errors” of Catholicism, Arminianism, etc. Judging by your fruits, you don’t really seem to know much about God at all (Matthew 7:15-20). This compounded that you nullify plain scripture left and right (Mark 7:13).

  7. Man can do NOTHING. He can’t even cooperate with grace. You’re either saved or damned and there’s nothing one can do. Just suck the most out of the pleasures of the flesh. If saved you’ll eventually turn, if not, you’re damned anyway.

  8. Thank you for this helpful article! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of why it is hard for some people to grasp the “100% us 100% God” idea. They are putting God on the same level as ourselves, as if God is just one more being in the universe. We could apply all of this to God’s omnipresence as well. If Dan is in one place, Bob can’t be in that same place–because Dan and Bob are the same sorts of beings occupying the same plane of being. But God and Dan can be present in the same place because God isn’t just one more human, like Bob, but he’s the context in which Dan exists, the one whose Being supports Dan’s being.

  9. I want to stand up for the Calvinists just a bit. I think they are often misunderstood. While some Calvinists deny free will, the most careful of them never have. The classic Calvinist systematic theologies, like Calvin’s Institutes, Francis Turretin’s Institutes, Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology, and classic Calvinist statements of faith like the Westminster Confession, have typically avoided denying free will and hold a view not much different from that of St. Augustine–though they use terminology that can cause misunderstanding. The most careful and sophisticated Calvinists, I think, well understand that God and man can act in the same act. That is not to say that all Calvinists have gotten the balance right.

    As a former Calvinist, this is of great interest to me. I’ve recently written up something exploring it in more detail, if anyone is interested:

    http://freethoughtforchrist.blogspot.com/2017/03/catholicism-and-tulip.html

    1. Nice post — I only skimmed it here and there, and while it’s slightly generous to Calvinism, it looks to be a solid treatment of the subject!

    2. Mark,

      Thanks for adding this nuance, I certainly don’t want to misrepresent Calvinism or take on just the low-hanging fruit. What do you make of Jonathan Edwards’ position in Freedom of the Will, especially Part II? He seems to be reducing the will to something determined.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      1. Edwards is very idiosyncratic, and certainly I think his terminology can be misleading. My own reading of Edwards, though, suggests that he does indeed believe in free will. I provide some quotations from him, actually, in the article I linked to earlier. I’ve actually been (and continue to be–all proper nuances understood!) a great fan of Edwards. I think he was a great philosopher with a lot of insight (and with some leanings towards a Catholic point of view in some areas, I think, more than he knew with his lack of knowledge of Catholicism–take his doctrine of Original Sin, for example). I’ve read Freedom of the Will a number of times over the years.

        Let me give an example connected with the question of whether our wills are determined. Edwards is sometimes portrayed as holding that our wills are determined in such a way as to remove their freedom, but he was actually very careful to avoid this in his writing. He defined very carefully his use of the word “cause” in his statements that motives, for example, cause the will to do this or that:

        “Therefore I sometimes use the word Cause, in this inquiry, to signify any antecedent, either natural or moral, positive or negative, on which an Event, either a thing, or the manner and circumstance of a thing, so depends, that it is the ground and reason, either in whole, or in part, why it is, rather than not; or why it is as it is, rather than otherwise; or, in other words, any antecedent with which a consequent Event is so connected, that it truly belongs to the reason why the proposition which affirms that Event is true; whether it has any positive influence, or not. And agreeably to this, I sometimes use the word effect for the consequence of another thing, which is perhaps rather an occasion than a Cause, most properly speaking.” http://www.ccel.org/e/edwards/works1.iii.iii.iii.html

        The rest of that section in the link provides further context for this definition. Edwards makes clear that he doesn’t mean by “cause,” in reference to the will, something that makes it to be so by a positive force, but rather an occasion, a “moral cause,” that influences the will to freely choose.

        In my article, I provide quotations from Freedom of the Will to show that Edwards held that we are always able to choose otherwise; the will is never forced by a kind of fatalistic necessity.

        I’m writing all of this quickly, as I have to go and won’t be able to get back to the computer before tomorrow, but I wanted to throw some things out there before then.

        1. In the Freedom of the Will (and in general in Edwards’s writings), Edwards fully affirms free will. He affirms that man has a power of making choices, of choosing between alternatives. He affirms that the will is free from necessity–that is, in each act of will there is the possibility of choosing otherwise. (See Edwards’s discussions, for example, here–http://www.ccel.org/e/edwards/works1.iii.ii.iii.html–and here–http://www.ccel.org/e/edwards/works1.iii.ii.iv.html)

          Edwards is writing against “Arminianism.” What Edwards takes Arminianism to be is the idea that our will is free in such a way as to rule out any sufficient explanations for why we choose what we choose. Acts of will, in the Arminian view (as Edwards understands it), are states of being that arise ex nihilo, with no prior explanation. This is the view Edwards is opposing.

          In opposition to Arminianism, Edwards defends the idea that acts of will are expressions of preference, and therefore are linked to a complex nexus of desires, motives, deliberations, etc., that go on inside the mind. They do not come out of nowhere, but are acts of the human person explainable in terms of the nature and the psychology of human persons. For example, when I choose to put Italian dressing on my salad instead of blue cheese, this is not a random state of affairs that comes ex nihilo, disconnected from the rest of the narrative of history in the universe. I choose to put Italian dressing on my salad because I like Italian dressing and I don’t like blue cheese dressing. Now, human psychology is complex, and there are many factors that might influence a choice. For example, if I were challenged by someone arguing that I put Italian dressing on my salad because I CAN’T do otherwise, I might choose to but blue cheese dressing on instead just to show otherwise. In this case, I am more concerned to make my point than to produce a salad I would enjoy eating, but in both cases my choices flow from aspects of my psychology–my tastes, beliefs, desires, etc.

          Choices therefore have a level of predictability, but aren’t totally predictable by us because of the complexity of factors influencing us. God can predict our choices exactly and infallibly, among other reasons because he knows every influence that leads to the particular acts of will we choose.

          Because choices are not ex nihilo states of being, but are explainable in terms of a larger nexus of influences and states of affairs, choices are not outside the plan of God. God is in control of all the factors that go into the world, and so he can arrange things so that what he plans to happen will happen. God chooses to create the world that he thinks best, with all the factors he thinks best, and he knows down to the smallest detail what will happen in that world–including all the choices we will make, including who will choose ultimately to be saved and who will choose to reject salvation. Our choices are not forced, but they are explainable beyond themselves. This is where talk of “predestination” can come into play. God may choose to arrange things in such a way that Bob will freely reject salvation while Jan will choose freely to accept it. This is simply part of the larger issue of God’s allowance of evil to exist in the world as he uses it to bring about a greater good. God forces neither Bob nor Jan to accept or reject him. Both can do either; both have ability. (This is where Catholics will use the terminology of “sufficient grace,” but Edwards does not have this terminology. The idea is there, though.) But God allows Bob to reject him, knowing that that is what God will do given the way God has arranged the factors of the universe, and he knows Jan will accept. A crucial factor in Jan’s good choice is God’s grace, which influences her and leads her (but doesn’t force her) to be willing to follow God. There is thus a positive influence in Jan’s choice from God, whereas it is more a negative influence (in the sense that God allowed rather than exerted energy to help bring about) in Bob’s bad choice.

          Anyway, that’s the sort of thing Edwards is basically arguing for. (His book is well worth reading, particularly for any who are interested in the philosophy of the will and theology that deals with subjects such as the will, grace, predestination, etc. He writes accessibly, at least for those who are inclined to read such things.) I would argue that all of this is perfectly compatible with Catholic theology and indeed is required by it. Of course, these issues are notoriously difficult for people to work through! But I do think that Calvinists like Edwards have been unfairly caricatured in their views by many, including many Catholics. (Of course, Calvinists regularly do the same in reverse.) I think that more careful dialogue is called for.

          Anyway, I hope that helps explain where I’m coming from a bit!

  10. Mark –

    Please don’t stand up for heresy. Augustine was massively different than Calvin. He loved the Church and Calvin tried to create a new one out of thin air. Calvin isn’t that much different than Joseph Smith.

    1. I don’t intend to stand up for heresy per se. You are right, of course, that Calvin, unlike Augustine, was schismatic and heretical. What I do want to do–per the virtue of justice–is to make sure I represent the Calvinist point of view, and all points of view, as accurately as possible, and not make it worse than it is.

    2. cwdlaw223,

      I actually agree with Mark, at least in principle. If I said (for example), “Calvinists teach that it is good to torture children,” that would be a sin against charity, and it would be within the scope of Christian duty to stick up for the Calvinists and say, “No, that’s not what they teach!” That’s not “standing up for heresy,” but treating those we disagree with with the appropriate respect, honesty, and charity.

      That said, I think that a lot of Calvinists do deny free will, although I don’t get into much detail in this post.

      I.X.,

      Joe

  11. Joe asks: “Is Salvation Our Doing, or God’s?”

    Ezekiel 18:26 says that if a sinner decides to repent “HE SHALL SAVE HIS SOUL”.

    :For when the just turneth himself away from his justice, and committeth iniquity, he shall die therein: in the injustice that he hath wrought he shall die. And when the wicked turneth himself away from his wickedness, which he hath wrought, and doeth judgment, and justice: HE SHALL SAVE HIS SOUL ALIVE.”

    Clearly, according to this saying, a man has a choice in the matter and a part to play in his own salvation, or damnation.

  12. To any fellow Catholic who are still reading these comments: I feel like I shouldn’t be responding to Barry here anymore. I feel like I’ve made matters much worse and let out my nastier side here. Thoughts?

    1. Yeah me too. Today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 18:21-35) made me rethink a bit how I had been behaving. My first reaction was lots of anger. Now it’s much more pity. Barry is so blinded. Lord have mercy on him!

    2. Alexander,

      I don’t see a big problem here, except maybe some frustration that Barry doesn’t seem to portray in his comments an authentic love for the Gospel message that Jesus came to teach. He seems to revolve around the TULIP doctrines as if it were his center of theological gravity, whereas the typical Catholic has little interest at all in predestination, justification, slavery of the will, etc…but just wants to do what Jesus Christ, in His gospel, tells us to do.

      Now, if Barry actually revealed that He was actually interested in what Jesus taught in His Gospel, and showed some zeal for it, many here would probably get a little excited, because we too have a similar zeal and love for Christ. For instance, if after discussing God’s ability to predestine a soul to eternal misery, he would just mention what Jesus said here:

      “And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?”

      …Barry would at least be balancing His philosophical/metaphysical teachings with that of Christ’s highly practical teachings.

      Sometimes these Calvinists/evangelicals etc.. seem to merely rotate around precept and obscure mental deductions, and forget the simple and beautiful teachings and examples of Jesus Himself, the same that we are called to imitate, so as to ‘follow’ Christ. And, so, what about these precepts that the Jesus taught? Precepts such as: “Amen, Amen, I say unto you, If any man keep my word, He shall not see death forever.” Is this saying of less importance than the Protestant precepts concerning the ‘slavery of the will’? Jesus, here, merely says to listen to His words and KEEP them, and you will not see death forever. But, philosophizing over how enslaved one’s soul actually is…really doesn’t matter too much. You are much better off just heeding everything Jesus says, and then put it into practice. So then, why worry how enslaved you are? Why worry if you are predestined? Will it actually change things…or help you?

      And these Calvinist’s frequently insinuate that if you don’t believe these wild theories, that you will go to Hell. Barry has said this many times over in different posts. Yet, if you listen to Jesus, and love Him, and follow what He explicitly tells us to do, such as: “forgive and you will be forgiven”, “judge not, lest you be Judged, for with what judgement you judge you will be judged.”, “Pray always that you enter not into temptation”, “If you eat my Body and drink my Blood you will have life within you”, “seek and you shall find”…etc…Are these teachings not a million times more spiritually profitable then trying to find out what level of justification, or predestination, you are currently experiencing? So, Imitating Christ actually advances you towards Heaven, according to Christ’s own words (i.e.. “Take up your cross and follow Me”), whereas theorizing on complex philosophical/metaphysical concepts is merely mental exercise. Does it increase our love for ‘Our Father who art in Heaven”?…as Jesus wants of us, and even as He loved His Heavenly Father with an eternal love?

      And lastly, when we look at the cross, do we see only what Jesus provided, or DID, for us with His sacrifice, i.e. giving us the possibility of salvation? ( which is actually quite a selfish outlook)…Or, do we see who Jesus actually IS, and realize and appreciate His infinite love for both ourselves and His loving Father…and come to understand the infinite Love inherent in the Holy Trinity, Fathe , Son and Holy Spirit…whereby we come much closer to attaining eternal life according to Christ’s teaching: “Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” [John 17:3]? Understanding the Love of Son for the Father and Father for the Son, and then love of both of them for all of us….is…priceless.

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

      So, Catholics seem to tend to value the keeping of Christ’s words, and putting them into practice as He said we should…. and not merely debating, or theorizing, about these same words. In this sense I think Catholics actually love the Bible much more than these same, supposedly, Bible believing Protestants.

      OK, Alexander……You asked for a comment from a ‘lurker’ and there you have it. 🙂

      God bless you and all who are commenting here.

      1. Hi Al,

        It is also my impression that we Catholics posting here do seem to value putting the word into ACTION. It is more than an intellectual exercise that we do here, and we tend to view the Gospel as something to be lived. Calvinists, here, recently:

        1) One reported his certainty that God, *with malice aforethought,* predetermined Catholics to hell.

        2) A more kind, more honest, intelligent and educated poster admitted that lots of Scripture made no sense to him.

        The gift of understanding seems so weak.

        1. Hi Margo,

          If we stick to Jesus’ teachings s our primary focus, we are much more likely to attain the Kingdom of heaven. This is because Jesus Himself, said that ‘HE is the DOOR’, whereby to enter Heaven….not John Calvin.
          If anything, I would think John Calvin, and all of his philosophical contrivances might better be considered a ‘TRAP DOOR’, so-to-say. That is, it distracts people from entering the ‘real door’, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ…which we pass through by simply listening to, and imitating the loving examples of, Our Most Blessed Lord Jesus Christ.

    3. Hi Alex,

      How about we vow to stop and have Mass said to help our intention? I’ve got an opening in my parish for next Sunday 5:30 PM. Shall I book it? My ‘indulgence.’

      St. Monica: “Talk more to God about Augustine and less to Augustine about God.”

      1. Margo, I’ve been praying about something similar and this quote from St. Monica strikes me especially so since my near and dear family members choose not to believe. I am thankful for your comment.

        1. Tron, I’m sorry to hear about your family. Probably many of us are in the same boat. But we’ve got Jesus in ours, so we’re in good hands. God bless.

    4. AF,
      Matt 16:24 = “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. Maybe BB is our cross. I agree that he may try to bring out our nastier side, but how to respond is our choice. Knowledge and wit can go a long way against his spite.

  13. Really Amazing Explanation. I’ve been partially struggling with this as I was mediating on how can we humans be “free” when God already knows what we’re going to do… and Joe’s explanation makes 1000% sense. I was, without knowing it, reducing God’s eternity into our finite matter of thinking.

    So in short, God does not force our will to bend to His, but grants us His Grace to do so and it’s up to us to choose to align our will with His. God is Free Love, not Forced Love.

    1. Very good summation, Tron.

      And your reference to ‘love’ is key. Protestants can get carried away with so much philosophical and metaphysical reasoning, that they lose focus on the fact that God is a Trinity of Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that the First of all commandments, the most important thing a man can do for justification and salvation … is to Love God. Jesus Himself teaches this in this Gospel account:

      “And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou? He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said to him: Thou hast answered right: THIS DO, AND THOU SHALT LIVE. But he willing to justify himself said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour?…”

      This lawyer is given the direct answer by Jesus on exactly how to attain Eternal life…which is detailed by Jesus as loving God with all one’s heart, soul, strength and mind. But he then wasn’t satisfied with this….and it says …he wanted to JUSTIFY HIMSELF. And this is what I think many Protestants seek to do. Instead of focusing on the answer that Jesus gives, and which even slaves, children, poor pregnant women and grandmothers could understand, they, like the lawyer above, want to find ways to make the attainment of eternal life more complicated…something that maybe a lawyers, philosophers and theologians might only be able understand, and attain.

      So, you ‘hit the nail on the head’ by focusing on the LOVE of GOD, as this is exactly what Jesus told us to focus on. Maybe if we have any recreation, or leisure time,…we can speculate on the meaning of ‘double predestination’ and the TULIP doctrines. But, they surely shouldn’t compete with the ‘first commandment’ that Jesus indicates should be our focus for attaining eternal life.

      How beautiful, and instructive, and loving are the sacred words of Our Lord Jesus Christ! Thanks be to God for His delectable teachings that confound the wise of this world!

    2. “God is Free Love, not Forced Love.”

      And, maybe this is also learned from the relationships we find between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Blessed Trinity, after whose image it is said that Adam and his descendants were created. This love between the persons of the Blessed Trinity was certainly free, as is proven by Christ, who said in the Garden of Olives: “..Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done.”.”

  14. Joe,

    “But we can still say, for example, that the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was “100% painted by Michelangelo” and “100% painted by paintbrushes.” That might sound like fishy math, but only if you grossly misunderstood the difference in kind between Michelangelo and a paintbrush. Likewise, I can say that salvation is 100% up to God and 100% up to you, and that only sounds like fishy math if you’re implicitly reducing God to your level.”

    So simple, but so true.

    Bishop Kallistos Ware wrote, “Even though we affirm that, ‘Human free will is an essential condition,’ in no way does this signify that salvation can be ‘earned’ or ‘deserved.’ It remains always the free gift of God. … Any attempt to compare in this way the respective contributions of the divine and human partners, assigning percentages to each, is utterly misguided” (How are we Saved, p. 38).

    God bless,
    Craig

    1. “Human free will is an essential condition,’ in no way does this signify that salvation can be ‘earned’ or ‘deserved.’”.

      To ‘choose’ is not to earn, it’s to make a decision. And to ‘deserve’ also has very little, in not nothing, to do with choice.

      As Moses said, there is life on the one hand …and there is death on the other. Basically, people have the span of their life to make a decision. Only God Himself knows the gifts that are given to each soul according to God’s Divine Will. But, an abundance of gifts are not to be celebrated as a corresponding responsibility is attached to those gifts. This is why satan is in the lowest region of Hell, because He abused the greatest gift. So the gift was anything but an advantage to him. Jesus said :

      “And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more.” [Luke 12:48].

      And similarly,

      “And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.”

      So, we have free will, but to turn away from the will of God is equivalent to great suffering (because God is both Truth and Love). And the more gifts that has been provided to a soul, the more suffering will correspondingly accompany it, the farther it turns from the will of God.

      So, for those who have been been given great gifts from God, it’s best to follow the Blessed Virgin Mary’s example, and use those gifts in a very humble and diligent way, as it is your duty to do so.

        1. Interesting article Craig. I’ll need to give it some more time to chew on. there’s a lot of info. there.

          One thing regarding works and faith, I think, needs to be kept in mind. The faithful examples, prayers, teachings and labors of others also contribute to the worlds salvation, and this is proved by the words of Christ “you are the light of the world”. Jesus also teaches us to pray for each other in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ which is efficacious to help our fellow brothers t=owards eternal salvation. And Jesus gave an example of personal prayer when He said to St. Peter: “I prayed, that your faith fail not”.

          Moreover, we see how Jesus was moved by emotion, at various times. For example, He had compassion on the woman whose son had died, and seeing her great love, restored her son to life again. A similar thing happened with Lazarus. Jesus showed His deep emotion and love for both him and his family, and raised Lazarus from the dead. The mother of Christ also, was in a similar situation on Calvary, as we find in those i accounts, and we all know that it was prophesied that ‘a sword will pierce your soul’. And, following this great sorrow, both for Mary and the Early Church….Jesus was also raised from the dead. So, these three accounts should be considered as examples when resurrection actually was demonstrated in the Scriptures (not to mention Elijah in the OT).

          So, love and prayers for each other in this world is also something to consider when contemplating the nature of salvation. It seems that God wills us to partake, and be companions with Him, in HIS WORK of salvation of the world, and for which St. Paul feared that if he did not participate in this, that he himself would not be saved in the end. He said: “For if I preach the gospel, it is no glory to me, for a necessity lieth upon me: for woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.”
          [1 Corinthians 9:16]

          In the letter of James, also,it is also mentions regarding this: ” He must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.”

          So, we see that God works through the means of others who contribute to His work of ‘saving of the world’. That is, all Christians (united in Christ by His grace) by their prayers and apostolic labors, are co-workers with God for the salvation of the world.

  15. The synoptic Gospels as well as Paul’s epistles over and over proclaim salvation as a gift, a gift to be believed and to be welcomed into one’s home as a newborn brother, and to love. How is love expressed? Through thoughts (beliefs only)? Words only? Actions? Do we simply love our spouses or do we show that love? We say and we do, or we should, should we not?

    Soon after Jesus’ birth, the angels glorified Him with heavenly chorus, then they appeared to the shepherds. The shepherds went to pay Him homage. The star and the angel alerted the wise. The wicked Herod began to fear his usurpation. All reacted to the gift of God (the Incarnation). Are we not to respond?

    Are we not to do the same? Paul was filled with natural gifts: citizenship rights and education, intellect, passion and zeal, abilities to teach and to wield authority. God’s miraculous “LIGHT” and words to Paul enlightened him to the supernaturalized use of those gifts. Only when Paul did as God’s word commanded–to go to Anania–was cured or saved. Did Paul stop there? Ok. He believed. The end?

    The heavens responded. The representative shepherds and the wise responded. Paul responded by continuing to grow in the perfection of the Lord. Read his letters cover to cover. See how his actions changed from persecuting Christians to conforming Himself into Christ Crucified through the Cross of Christ. Why ought we not do the same? It makes no sense literally, figuratively, morally, anagogically or allegorically that we sit on a belief of salvation and let our story end there. We are to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. We crucify our will and do His will, just as Jesus did for His father, for us.

  16. “Is Salvation Our Doing, or God’s?”

    Would the best Christian answer not be something like: “God’s doing, but through the cooperation of both ourselves (through the exercise of free will) and our neighbors(and their free will also)?

    Recall, for instance, how many times Jesus demonstrated the benefits of having ‘God loving’ friends, family, and Church members, to help a person on his road through the ‘narrow gate’ of salvation which Jesus teaches we must all pass through. And, Christ’s first and greatest commandment even includes these same folks, these helpers towards our salvation, as he details in this ‘Good Samaritan’ story regarding our fellow neighbors, here on Earth:

    “And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou? He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and THY NEIGHBOR as thyself. And he said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”

    So, Jesus is very explicit that there are 2 things to do: 1. Love God, and 2. Love our neighbor. We need both, not only one. He also goes on to explain who our neighbor is, and tells a story of the good samaritan who receives help from a complete stranger. This indicates that all people of this world make potential neighbors, and not only friends and family. Jesus also teaches more on this, and includes even enemies in our definition of neighbor, teaching: “Love your enemies as yourself”.

    So, gaining salvation is not a simple as it might seem, because it involves both God AND neighbor. And if we don’t satisfy both parts, we won’t attain it according to Christ’s teaching to the lawyer above.

    What I wonder, is why Protestants ignore the human element, the neighbor part, in any discussion of salvation, even though it is clearly taught over and over again by Jesus, both by his words/parables as well as by his own actions and examples?

    And why the concern for predestination, except for maybe as a mental exercise in times of recreation or when there is nothing better to do. Why would we want to pry deeply into something that has very little to do with Christ’s gospel and was never given any particular attention to it by either Jesus Himself or his twelve apostles? Is this fascination with justification, predestination, and other Protestant TULIP doctrines, not something similar to a dog owner obsessing on, focusing on, and studying a flea on his dog so intently, that he actually forgets to feed or care for the dog itself, and so it dies… all the while the dog owner still chases the little fleas around on his long ago, dead, dog?

    My assumption, is that these deep philosophical doctrines are useless compared to the simple teachings of Jesus as given in the holy Gospel. Is not he entire Gospel basically focused on this very subject of how a person is to gain salvation? People, like in the quote of the lawyer, above, ask Jesus explicitly on this topic of acquiring eternal live, and He gives the answer that they should follow. And , doesn’t Jesus explicitly teach us that for eternal life we need to… “know the one God and he whom he sent, Jesus Christ”? And, also, ” Anyone who eats my body and drinks my blood has life within Him”? And, “If any man KEEP my word, he shall not see death forever?” And, what about this great, and highly instructive teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

    “Judas saith to him, not the Iscariot: Lord, how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world? Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard, is not mine; but the Father’s who sent me. These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.” (John 14:22)

    Are we suppose to value Protestant justification and TULIP doctrines over these profound teachings of Christ… as if Jesus forgot to add the most important items to His gospel message? Are the words of Jesus so obscure that He really should have done a better job, and detailed to us how it is that we are all predestined by His Father, or how exactly how our human wills are indeed in a state of enslavement by the will of God? Or, are these doctrines like the fleas on the dog, above, and Christ’s gospel is the dog, wherein the dog owner forgets the dog for the fleas, and in the end he has nothing, and not even the fleas/Gospel message?

    These Protestant Tulip doctrines are probably just futile attempts to cover up some secret sins that were hidden in the hearts of the founders of these doctrines, namely Martin Luther and John Calvin. They were probably so distracted by their own ‘fleas’/novel philosophies that they lost sight of the beautiful teachings of Jesus Christ Himself, and so, distracted by their own invented philosophies, made these the centers of their theological attention. How else could Martin Luther make such a wildly crazy statement such as “Justification is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls”?

    If it was so important, then why didn’t Jesus say so? Why no parable on it? Why no examples given through His own actions?

    Maybe, Jesus never mentioned it because He knows that the salvation of a person requires the cooperation of others, and namely His Holy Church than He left to continue His work here on Earth. Maybe, Luther would prefer to focus on God alone, and forget the second part of Christ’s most important commandment: ‘ ….and love thy neighbor as thyself’? And, it might be noted, that in His sacred humanity, Jesus IS one of our neighbors, and so we are also commanded to love him, in this way, even as we are to love all others, for the attainment of our eternal salvation.

    Just my opinions. Best to all.

  17. Catholic doctrine teaches us that God is ever present everywhere in all times and places. This one teaching has profound implications for all the rest.

    This Catholic teaching informs us that God inhabits the microscopic, the atomic, the quantum. That is, God is not just in all of reality from the largest to smallest scale, God is all of reality. There isn’t anything anywhere whose fundamental essence isn’t God. Thus….

    One doesn’t need to be “saved”, because there is nowhere one can ever be but with God.

    This the true loving God, the God who is never separate from anything or anybody, who never abandons any of his creations, who loves all, and is all. This is the God which transcend judgment, and all other such petty human obsessions.

    However, there is still a fundamental human problem which needs to be addressed. We think we’re separate from God, we feel we are separate, we experience a division from God, from each other, from nature, and are even divided from ourselves within our own minds. It is this illusion of division which is the primary source of human suffering, and all religions.

    Love is the act of surrendering this apparent division. Love doesn’t unite us with God, because we have never been and never will be divided from God, that simply isn’t possible. What love does is help heal the illusion that we are divided. Love does this by weakening the power of our ego, the primary conceptual illusion created by thought.

    The division we feel from God and everything else is an illusion created by the inherently divisive nature of what we’re all made of psychologically, human thought. This is why all human beings suffer universally from the pain of this illusion, it arises from a source we all have in common, it’s built-in.

    Thought operates by a process of conceptually dividing reality, which gives us great power. But that great power comes with a great price tag, the illusion of being divided from everything, of being alone, an experience which gives rise to fear, and then conflict, further multiplying the human suffering built in to each of us.

    What I find amazing is that all of this was explained in the Adam and Eve story which was written some 3,000 years ago, probably by some deeply insightful sheep herder. When we ate the apple of knowledge (ie. thought) we were expelled from the Garden of Eden (ie. God). Except that we were never expelled, never can be expelled, we just feel expelled, an illusion created by the electro-chemical information medium we call thought, which operates by a process of division.

    The word “God” is a form of heresy generated by this process of division because like all nouns, it presumes a division, which doesn’t actually exist. “Me” is another such illusion. Compelling illusions indeed, but still, just illusions.

    Where religions get in to trouble is when they turn to thought for a solution, the very thing causing the illusion of division. Thus we see blogs like this where every other post attempts to divide one type of Christian from another. The deeper we get in to ideology the more such division unfolds, not because this or that ideology is good or bad, but because all ideologies are made of thought, and thought is inherently divisive in nature. The illusion of division is built in to that which all ideologies are made of.

    Ideology is not the answer. Including this ideology. Agreeing or disagreeing with this post will solve nothing. The answer is found in love, or meditation, or both. This is what addresses the illusion at it’s source. Ideology, any ideology, just fuels the process of division.

    Jesus went in to the desert and transcended the illusion of division, and then began to call himself God, which was accurate. Jesus was God.

    As are you.

    As is everything.

  18. Here’s an example of how compelling illusions can be. If you look up at the sky during the day, you will see the sun rise in the east, travel across the sky, and set in the west. If you look up at the sky at night, you will see the moon and stars circle over head.

    And none of it that true.

    It’s just a compelling illusion brought on by a limited perspective.

    And so it is with the illusions created by thought. We absolutely feel separate, an obvious given, it seems so real we never think to doubt it. And yet, it’s not true, but just an illusion.

    1. Phil,

      Interesting thoughts. I would like to discuss them further, but I’d rather not do it here, as I think it would veer from the point of this thread and so derail it. If you would like to talk further, email me at [email protected]. I’ve got some ideas related to what you’re saying that you might find interesting.

  19. Hi Mark, thanks for your invitation. Your work and career look interesting, and wow, eight kids. Where do you find the time for typing?? 🙂

    How about this? I’m setting up my own forum and will contact you with an invitation once it’s ready. Would be happy to continue with you and hear your thoughts.

    As to the topic here, I’m basically asking whether our need for salvation (ie. our perceived separation from God) is real or imagined. Well, I’m proposing it is imagined, which if true would seem to have significant implications both for our understanding of God and our own human situation.

    Readers should note that my reasoning starts with a doctrine which seems to be widely accepted by Catholics, though of course my interpretation of that doctrine will not be. My interpretation asks, if one takes the “God is everywhere” teaching literally, how can there be separation from God, except in a faulty perception of a division which doesn’t actually exist?

  20. Here’s a hopefully helpful deeper look at the concept of salvation….

    Consider the cave man who is approaching an icy stream. He wants to get across the stream without getting his feet wet. So in his mind he sees a conceptual object called “log”, and a conceptual object called “stream”. In his mind he imagines the log object being placed across the stream object, creating a bridge. This is the awesome power of human thought in action. Thought divides the single unified reality in to conceptual parts, allowing us to effortlessly rearrange the conceptual parts in creative ways within our minds, providing us with an infinite number of visions of how reality could be.

    The price tag for this awesome power is distortion, we experience reality through the lens of a fantasy division that doesn’t actually exist in the real world. As example, in our minds “tree”, “water”, “sun”, “soil”, “insects” etc are compellingly experienced as discrete and separate objects with firm boundaries, but in the real world they function as a single unified system. As Joni Mitchell once famously sang, “we are stardust, billion year old carbon”. The boundaries we perceive are not part of the real world, but are instead our own creations.

    To test this illusion ask yourself, when does the glass of water you drink become “you”? You will soon see the boundary between “water” and “you” can be reasonably drawn in any number of places, revealing that boundaries and divisions are useful human inventions, and not properties of reality.

    These fantasy divisions our minds generate have a profound impact upon human existence. Every human being experiences reality as being divided between “me” and “everything else”, because every human is made of thought. “Me” is perceived to be very very small, and “everything else” very very big, a perspective which gives rise to fear, and then conflict. As example….

    In an attempt to overcome my perceived smallness and vulnerability, I attach myself to some larger group of humans. Psychologically I redefine myself as a member of a tribe, a village, a country, a religion, some group or another which has more power than I do alone. I am no longer just little scared all alone “me”, but now I define myself as something bigger, an American, a Catholic, a communist, an atheist, a liberal or conservative etc. I surround myself with like minded people and together we defend our group against all other groups, just as other groups prepare for combat with us. Here we see the fantasy division created by thought leading directly to conflict and violence.

    A very big and very common mistake is to see human conflict as arising from the content of thought, from this or that idea. To heal this error we should observe that every ideology ever invented has inevitably sub-divided in to competing, often warring, internal factions. The universal nature of this division process shows clearly that the division and conflict arise not from this or that idea, not from the content of thought, but from a deeper source, that which all ideas are made of, the nature of thought.

    Once this is seen, it pulls the rug out from under ideological conflict, because it become clear that all ideologies however noble sounding are on the path to conflict, and perhaps violence too. Christian or communist, theist or atheist, it doesn’t really matter what the ideology is, it always ends up the same way. Everything made of thought leads to division.

    The bottom line point is that all described above on both the personal and social level arises directly out of the divisive nature of thought, the pervasive fundamental fact of the human condition. And our desire for salvation arises from the nature of thought as well..

    It is thought which separates “God” from “me”, conceptually dividing the single unified reality in to fantasy conceptual parts, thus setting the stage for a quest to “get back to God”, that is, to be saved.

    Acts of love can help heal the fantasy division within our own minds, leading to that wonderous taste of unity and peace which has fueled the Christian experience for 2,000 years. Acts of love can help us experience unity with God in our minds, but they do not create unity with God, because in the real world….

    We and God have never been divided, and never will be.

    Do we need to be saved? Sure. But only from our own illusions.

    And if we don’t succeed in ever fully escaping our own illusions as is most likely, no big deal, it doesn’t really matter. God has a plan for this too, it’s called death, a 100% iron clad guarantee of reunion, a promise that has never been broken even once in a billion years for any creature ever created.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *