Did Calvin Deny Christ’s Sinlessness?

Statue of Jesus Christ in Prayer, Consolatta Cemetary, Lake Charles, Louisiana
Statue of Jesus Christ in Prayer, Consolatta Cemetary, Lake Charles, Louisiana

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. [….] For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Romans 7:15, 19). So writes St. Paul, describing a spiritual battle that is at once baffling as it as immediately recognizable. J. Budziszewski ably describes what makes this battle so baffling:

Strangest of all – because perverse – is that although we agree that it is prudent to pursue the highest good, we often fail to do so. We seem capable of pursuing things that even in our own considered estimate are not worthy of pursuit. Nothing like that is even possible among the animals. In view of the fact that the only way to be attracted to something at all is to see it as somehow good, it is hard to see how it is possible even for us.

And yet, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger explained to Peter Seewald, it’s a bare fact of history and of human experience. We can see the battle that St. Paul and J. Budzizewski are describing by looking at a history book, or within our own hearts. And it’s a battle that Christianity attributes to the Fall:

The Christian faith holds that the creation has been damaged. Human existence is no longer what was produced at the hands of the Creator. It is burdened with another element that produces, besides the innate tendency towards God, the opposite tendency away from God. In this way man is torn between the original impulse of creation and his own historical inheritance. [….]

This paradox points to a certain inner disturbance in man, so that he can no longer simply be the person he wants to be. I see what is good and approve it, said Ovid, a Roman poet, and then still do the other thing. And Paul, in the seventh chapter of the Letter to the Romans, insisted likewise: The good that I wish to do, I do not do; and the evil that I do not wish to do, that is what I do. In Paul’s case, this gives rise to the cry: Who will release me from this inner contradiction? And that is the point at which Paul truly understood Christ – and the point from which he then carried Christ, as the answer that releases us, out into the contemporary pagan world.

In theology, the term for this post-Fall inclination towards sin is “concupiscence.” Man finds in himself simultaneously:

  1. A wound that can only be healed by Christ, and a hunger that can only be satisfied by Him; and yet
  2. An inclination towards evil, leading to various temptations to fill that void with some good other than God. St.

John divides these worldly desires into three categories, “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). That temptation trying to convince you that if you just slept with so-and-so, or had a little more money, or were praised a little more, then you’d be happy… that’s concupiscence. What’s most striking (and frustrating!) about this is that these temptations continue, at least occasionally, even amongst those who know Jesus Christ. We know better, and still find ourselves tempted to what we know won’t really satisfy us.

Some Christian heresies, like Pelagianism and Modernism, have gone awry by failing to take concupiscence seriously. They tended (and tend) to treat man as basically undamaged, and advance a theology as dangerous as it is naïve. But there’s an opposite error as well: to exaggerate concupiscence. And it’s this error that Reformed Christianity, commonly called Calvinism, falls into.  Calvinism tends to exaggerate the severity of concupiscence (treating it as sin, rather than mere temptation) as well as its pervasiveness (treating man as nothing more than concupiscence). Both of these errors are found in John Calvin’s theology, and explain how Calvin can fall into the basic Christological heresy of denying Christ’s sinlessness.

Maïtre François, Sack of Rome by Alaric - Sacred Vessels are Brought to a Church for Safety (1475). The illustration is for Volume 1 of St. Augustine's City of God.
Maïtre François, Sack of Rome by Alaric – Sacred Vessels are Brought to a Church for Safety (1475).
The illustration is for Volume 1 of St. Augustine’s City of God.

I. The Severity of Concupiscence: Infirmity? Or Sin?

The first point at which Calvin diverges from St. Augustine and the other Church Fathers is on this question: is concupiscence sinful? If you have a momentary lustful or hateful or greedy thought that you immediately reject, have you committed any sin?

For Augustine, and for an unbroken chain of Christian theologians from the early Church to the present, the answer is no. For an act to be sinful, it needs to be voluntary, since sin is on the level of the will. An act can be a bad act without being sinful: for example, a shark eating a man, or a tsunami destroying a village, or pretty much anything that a cat does for fun. For these acts to be sinful, you would need a will that is choosing evil, or failing to choose good. That’s not present in the case of a tsunami, or a cat, or a person experiencing involuntary temptation.

A clear, real-life example proves this point. The only difference between fornicating (which is sinful) and being raped (which isn’t) is on the level of the will. The exact same physical actions might be occurring in each case, but in one case, the person isn’t choosing it, and thus, isn’t morally accountable for it. Augustine recognized this, and discusses it in Book I of City of God. The Romans had raped “not only wives and unmarried maidens, but even consecrated virgins,” and the question arose whether the victims were guilty of some sin. Augustine defends the violated women by laying out the clear moral principle that you can’t sin without some assent of the will:

Let this, therefore, in the first place, be laid down as an unassailable position, that the virtue which makes the life good has its throne in the soul, and thence rules the members of the body, which becomes holy in virtue of the holiness of the will; and that while the will remains firm and unshaken, nothing that another person does with the body, or upon the body, is any fault of the person who suffers it, so long as he cannot escape it without sin. But as not only pain may be inflicted, but lust gratified on the body of another, whenever anything of this latter kind takes place, shame invades even a thoroughly pure spirit from which modesty has not departed—shame, lest that act which could not be suffered without some sensual pleasure, should be believed to have been committed also with some assent of the will.

So even if the women experienced some physical pleasure during their rape, they’re not guilty of any sin, since it was unavoidable. Augustine continues:

But is there a fear that even another’s lust may pollute the violated? It will not pollute, if it be another’s: if it pollute, it is not another’s, but is shared also by the polluted. But since purity is a virtue of the soul, and has for its companion virtue, the fortitude which will rather endure all ills than consent to evil; and since no one, however magnanimous and pure, has always the disposal of his own body, but can control only the consent and refusal of his will, what sane man can suppose that, if his body be seized and forcibly made use of to satisfy the lust of another, he thereby loses his purity? For if purity can be thus destroyed, then assuredly purity is no virtue of the soul; nor can it be numbered among those good things by which the life is made good, but among the good things of the body, in the same category as strength, beauty, sound and unbroken health, and, in short, all such good things as may be diminished without at all diminishing the goodness and rectitude of our life. But if purity be nothing better than these, why should the body be perilled that it may be preserved? If, on the other hand, it belongs to the soul, then not even when the body is violated is it lost. Nay more, the virtue of holy continence, when it resists the uncleanness of carnal lust, sanctifies even the body, and therefore when this continence remains unsubdued, even the sanctity of the body is preserved, because the will to use it holily remains, and, so far as lies in the body itself, the power also. […]

And thus, so long as the soul keeps this firmness of purpose which sanctifies even the body, the violence done by another’s lust makes no impression on this bodily sanctity, which is preserved intact by one’s own persistent continence. Suppose a virgin violates the oath she has sworn to God, and goes to meet her seducer with the intention of yielding to him, shall we say that as she goes she is possessed even of bodily sanctity, when already she has lost and destroyed that sanctity of soul which sanctifies the body? Far be it from us to so misapply words. Let us rather draw this conclusion, that while the sanctity of the soul remains even when the body is violated, the sanctity of the body is not lost; and that, in like manner, the sanctity of the body is lost when the sanctity of the soul is violated, though the body itself remains intact.

The same moral principles are at play in both sets of cases. A man can “control only the consent and refusal of his will,” and so he’s not morally responsible for the temptations that he rejects, whether they be from a seducer, or from the Tempter, or from his own concupiscence.

Contrast this with Calvin’s view. In Book IV, Chapter 4 of Institutes of the Christian Religion, he praises Augustine for perfectly summarizing the ancient Christian tradition on concupiscence, and then admits that he and other Reformed Protestants reject Augustine’s apparent view, that concupiscence is an infirmity rather than a sin)

It is unnecessary to spend much time in investigating the sentiments of ancient writers. Augustine alone may suffice, as he has collected all their opinions with great care and fidelity. Any reader who is desirous to know the sense of antiquity may obtain it from him. There is this difference apparently between him and us, that while he admits that believers, so long as they are in the body, are so liable to concupiscence that they cannot but feel it, he does not venture to give this disease the name of sin. He is contented with giving it the name of infirmity, and says, that it only becomes sin when either external act or consent is added to conception or apprehension; that is, when the will yields to the first desire. We again regard it as sin whenever man is influenced in any degree by any desire contrary to the law of God; nay, we maintain that the very gravity which begets in us such desires is sin.

So that’s the first distinction: for Augustine, sin requires an act or omission of the will. Being tempted isn’t a sin, since you’re not choosing it. Now, if you’re putting yourself into a position to be tempted, or you’re indulging in sinful thoughts, then your will is involved: you’re choosing to be tempted in that case, and that’s sinful. But otherwise – if it’s something outside of your control – it’s not sinful. For Calvin, on the other hand, merely being tempted to sin is a sin. After all, any temptation to sin is, by definition, the influence of a desire contrary to the law of God.

There are three major problems with this view. First, it seems to render spiritual combat futile. What’s the point in resisting temptation, if by being tempted you’re already guilty? This point applies all the more if, like many Protestants, you believe that all sins are equally wicked in God’s eyes. Whether you say yes or no to the particular sin to which you’re being tempted, you’re already automatically guilty of an equally-bad sin.

The second problem is that it contradicts what Scripture teaches. In several places, the Bible is clear that temptation isn’t itself a sin. For example, in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, we hear

Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Being given the grace to endure temptation is only a good thing if temptation isn’t a sin. If temptation is already sinful, then God’s relief comes too late. Likewise, James 1:12-15 explicitly distinguishes concupiscence from sin:

Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.

Here again, if the man enduring trial is sinning by being tempted, he’s hardly “blessed.” And it’s impossible to withstand the test, if you lose by being tested. In describing how concupiscence leads to sin, and sin leads to death, James is expressly showing that concupiscence isn’t itself sinful. Calvin’s contemporaries pointed this out to him, to which he responded:

But this is easily refuted: for unless we understand him as speaking only of wicked works or actual sins, even a wicked inclination will not be accounted sin. But from his calling crimes and wicked deeds the fruits of lust, and also giving them the name of sins, it does not follow that the lust itself is not an evil, and in the sight of God deserving of condemnation.

Despite Calvin’s protestations, there’s no reason that James’ threefold analysis doesn’t apply to wicked inclinations, as well. Some unholy thought comes to mind: that’s concupiscence. You choose to indulge it, rather than turn from it: that’s sin. Your eventual separation from God and man: that’s death. Treating concupiscence as non-sinful doesn’t mean that lust isn’t a sin. Calvin just isn’t making the important distinction between a voluntary and involuntary temptation.

II. Fallen Man: Stained? Or Pure Sin?

The second point upon which Calvin diverges is on the pervasiveness of concupiscence, and the severity of its effects. In technical terms, Calvin treats concupiscence and sin are essential to man, as part of what it is to be man (or even more, as exactly what it is to be man). That’s a break from the pre-Reformation understanding of sin as accidental (in the Aristotelian sense).

Let’s look at Calvin’s view first. In Book II, Chapter I of Institutes, he calmly explains that God hates unborn children, because they (like all of us) are seed-beds of sin, odious and abominable to God, and we’re nothing more than our concupiscence:

Hence, even infants bringing their condemnation with them from their mother’s womb, suffer not for another’s, but for their own defect. For although they have not yet produced the fruits of their own unrighteousness, they have the seed implanted in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed-bed of sin, and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Hence it follows, that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God; for there could be no condemnation without guilt. Next comes the other point–viz. that this perversity in us never ceases, but constantly produces new fruits, in other words, those works of the flesh which we formerly described; just as a lighted furnace sends forth sparks and flames, or a fountain without ceasing pours out water. Hence, those who have defined original sin as the want of the original righteousness which we ought to have had, though they substantially comprehend the whole case, do not significantly enough express its power and energy. For our nature is not only utterly devoid of goodness, but so prolific in all kinds of evil, that it can never be idle. Those who term it concupiscence use a word not very inappropriate, provided it were added (this, however, many will by no means concede), that everything which is in man, from the intellect to the will, from the soul even to the flesh, is defiled and pervaded with this concupiscence; or, to express it more briefly, that the whole man is in himself nothing else than concupiscence.

Calvin acknowledges that this equation of man with concupiscence is a point that “many will by no means concede,” and it’s because he’s again broken from Christian tradition in a heretical way. This point reverberates throughout many Catholic-Protestant questions. If man is stained by sin, it makes sense to speak of Christ cleansing him, as Catholics do; but if man is utterly corrupted by sin, if there’s no underlying good to recover, Christ must instead cover over the sinful man.

On the Catholic side of the question is a powerful reality, the Incarnation. As Fr. Robert Barron explains,

The Incarnation tells central truths concerning both God and us. If God became human without ceasing to be God and without compromising the integrity of the creature that he became, God must not be a competitor with his creation. […] The Word does indeed become human, but nothing of the human is destroyed in the process; God does indeed enter into his creation, but the world is thereby enhanced and elevated.

And it’s this reality, the Incarnation, that gets us squarely to the problem with both of these Calvinist views.

Duccio di Buoninsegna, Agony in the Garden (detail) (1310)
Duccio di Buoninsegna, Agony in the Garden (detail) (1310)

III. The Incarnation and Temptation of Christ

If Calvin is right that man is concupiscence, and concupiscence is sin, then we’ve got a problem with the Incarnation. In the Incarnation, Christ becomes man. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). So Christ can’t be a sinless man, since that would mean He was a sinless sin, a nonsensical paradox.

All of this comes to the fore in those moments in which we hear that Christ was tempted. For example, Matthew 4:1 says, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” And the Book of Hebrews presents Christ’s temptations as critical for helping us when we’re tempted (Heb. 2:17-18):

Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people.  For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Or consider Hebrews 4:14-16:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

For Calvin, this claim is doubly nonsense. First, the idea that Christ could be tempted without sinning is impossible, since temptation is sin (recall that he claims it’s to be regarded “as sin whenever man is influenced in any degree by any desire contrary to the law of God”). Second, if Christ is like us in all things but sin, and we’re only sin, then Christ shares no common nature with us. He’s like us in all things but everything. Christ can either be human or sinless, but He can’t be both.

Given this, perhaps it isn’t surprising that Calvin treats Christ as having erred in the Garden of Gethsemane. You can find this in his commentary on the Synoptics. In fairness to Calvin, he tries to distinguish between Christ’s Passions and ours, claiming that His were sinless and ours are always sinful:

Certainly those who imagine that the Son of God was exempt from human passions do not truly and sincerely acknowledge him to be a man. [….] Still the weakness which Christ took upon himself must be distinguished from ours, for there is a great difference. In us there is no affection unaccompanied by sin, because they all exceed due bounds and proper restraint; but when Christ was distressed by grief and fear, he did not rise against God, but continued to be regulated by the true rule of moderation. We need not wonder that, since he was innocent, and pure from every stain, the affections which flowed from him were pure and stainless; but that nothing proceeds from the corrupt nature of men which is not impure and filthy. Let us, therefore, attend to this distinction, that Christ, amidst fear and sadness, was weak without any taint of sin; but that all our affections are sinful, because they rise to an extravagant height.

And yet, when he tries to explain Christ’s prayer in the Garden, he can only account for it by assuming that Christ momentarily forgot about our salvation, and had to be rebuked (by Himself) for it:

I answer, There would be no absurdity in supposing that Christ, agreeably to the custom of the godly, leaving out of view the divine purpose, committed to the bosom of the Father his desire which troubled him. For believers, in pouring out their prayers, do not always ascend to the contemplation of the secrets of God, or deliberately inquire what is possible to be done, but are sometimes carried away hastily by the earnestness of their wishes. Thus Moses prays that he may be blotted out of the book of life, (Exodus 32:33) thus Paul wished to be made an anathema (Romans 9:3). This, therefore, was not a premeditated prayer of Christ; but the strength and violence of grief suddenly drew this word from his mouth, to which he immediately added a correction. The same vehemence of desire took away from him the immediate recollection of the heavenly decree, so that he did not at that moment reflect, that it was on this condition, that he was sent to be the Redeemer of mankind; as distressing anxiety often brings darkness over our eyes, so that we do not at once remember the whole state of the matter.

So in Calvin’s reading, Christ briefly forgot that He was sent to be the Redeemer of mankind, and so He prayed a pray that He hadn’t intended to pray, and quickly corrected Himself. Commenting on the next verse, Calvin says that “We see how Christ restrains his feelings at the very outset, and quickly brings himself into a state of obedience.

But the idea that the Son could ever leave a state of obedience, be it briefly or for an extended period of time, is a Christological heresy. The idea that He needed correction and Divine rebuke, whether from Himself or from His Father, is heretical. Calvin’s words here simply can’t be harmonized with Christ being perfect God and perfect Man. Calvin attempts to reconcile his professed belief in Christ’s sinlessness with this exegesis:

But the question has not yet been fully answered: for since we have just now said that all the feelings of Christ were properly regulated, how does he now correct himself? For he brings his feelings into obedience to God in such a manner as if he had exceeded what was proper. Certainly in the first prayer we do not perceive that calm moderation which I have described; for, as far as lies in his power, he refuses and shrinks from discharging the office of Mediator. I reply: When the dread of death was presented to his mind, and brought along with it such darkness, that he left out of view every thing else, and eagerly presented that prayer, there was no fault in this. Nor is it necessary to enter into any subtle controversy whether or not it was possible for him to forget our salvation. We ought to be satisfied with this single consideration, that at the time when he uttered a prayer to be delivered from death, he was not thinking of other things which would have shut the door against such a wish.

In other words, Calvin acknowledges that his two claims — that Christ’s prayer was rash, and that it was made in momentary ignorance of His role as Mediator — would certainly seem to contradict His sinlessness, and (in the case of the second one) be impossible. He just waves away the first problem by saying it wasn’t a sin, and waves away the second problem by saying he doesn’t want to enter into “any subtle controversy” over whether his theory is even possible or not. In other words, Calvin has painted a picture of Christ sinning, while he hastens to add the equivalent of “but it’s not a sin, because Christ is doing it.”

I’ll add that it’s also poor exegesis to think that these words just slipped from the mouth of Christ: as there were no Apostles awake and present at this moment, our record of this must come from Christ Himself. If Calvin’s account were right, why wouldn’t Christ simply skip over the time He made a mistake? Why preserve it in Scripture? But of course, the problem is more severe than that. This isn’t just bad Christology, it’s heretical Christology. Jesus Christ can’t momentarily forget that He’s our Redeemer, or temporarily refuse to discharge His office of Mediator, or say or do something that requires correction, or act in such a way that He needs to be brought back into obedience.

Jacopo Sansovino, Madonna and Child (1560)
Jacopo Sansovino, Madonna and Child (1560)

IV. Calvin? Or Calvinism?

My point here isn’t that Calvin was a bad exegete or a heretic. Whatever good or bad may be said of the man, it’s too late to do anything about his eternal destination. Instead, the bigger question is: did Calvin functionally deny Christ’s sinlessness despite his Reformed theology, or because of it? Here, it seems to be the latter. His heretical conclusions seem to flow logically from certain Reformed premises.

That is, if you view sin as an inherent part of what it is to be man, then Christ can’t be both sinless and man, any more than He can be a four-sided triangle. You’ll always end up minimizing or destroying His sinlessness, His humanity, or both. Likewise, if you claim that actual sin isn’t dependent upon the will, and that mere temptation to sin is itself sinful, then it’s hard to see how you can admit that Christ was tempted without also concluding that He sinned.

There is a way out. Namely: don’t base your theology on the shaky ground, on the areas that even Calvin acknowledged were controversial, like concupiscence being sinful, or man being only his concupiscence. Instead, start with the solid ground, the radical reality of the Incarnation. Jesus Christ is fully man, and yet without sin. Therefore, man can’t be reduced to his sin, sin can’t be an essential property of man. It can be an accidental property found in every other man besides One, but it can’t be part of what it is to be man. Jesus Christ is tempted, and yet without sin; through His temptations, He serves as an aid for us when we’re tempted. Given this, we can know that temptation of itself isn’t (or at least, isn’t always) sinful. In other words, build on the foundation of Jesus Christ and His Incarnation, rather than on John Calvin and his peculiar views regarding sin and the Fall, and you’ll end up with a stronger and more orthodox Christology.

146 Comments

  1. Ummm, the Apostles could have reported as much as Jesus’s prayers as they heard. If they didn’t fall asleep instantly, they could have heard as much as the Gospel depicts.

    1. ” there were no Apostles awake and present at this moment, our record of this must come from Christ Himself”

      There is one other possible source for our knowledge of Christ’s prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane – namely the mysterious young man who ran away naked (Mark 14:51-2). He was evidently not sleeping along with the apostles, and could well have witnessed everything that they missed, and told them about it later.

  2. I am going to read in more detail, as I am the one with the Reformed Theology website so I have some vested interest in defending Calvin. However, because I have to run to the salt-mines let me just reply to the following:

    “If you have a momentary lustful or hateful or greedy thought that you immediately reject, have you committed any sin?”

    No. Christ was tempted as we are but did not sin (Heb 4:15). Interestingly enough, this is a point that Calvin does not reflect upon in his commentary on Hebrews, so his understanding on this point may have been deficient.

    I think the issue is a momentary thought often becomes consented to by the will, which it would have not for Jesus. For example, a good looking woman. Jesus knew a woman was good looking…heck, He made man in His image and then woman from man. But, that thought never became linked to lust. Now, most red blooded men the moment they see a woman is good looking then, for a long moment if they keep their eyes on her, realize they would like to have sex with her. Even if they take their eyes of her, there needs to be a deliberate act of the will in the mind to block out the thought of the women, because of the former thoughts I just discussed. Most men do not, though some of us do.

    Paul speaks of another thought in Rom 7:7-8, “I would not have known about [f]coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not [g]covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me [h]coveting of every kind.” How many people see a nice car or someone walk by with a better job, and then in equivalent vigilance to the scenerio I say above fight covetousness. Again, not many.

    So, for all realistic intents and purposes, people sin all the time, several times a day. Jesus Christ said to hate someone is to commit murder in the heart. I have had people respond to me here and on my website, in the defense of Catholicism, even resorted to cursing and obvious name calling. Do they bring these sins to Confession? To they recognize them?

    “For Augustine, and for an unbroken chain of Christian theologians from the early Church to the present, the answer is no. For an act to be sinful, it needs to be voluntary, since sin is on the level of the will.”

    Augustine would be correct, though it is worth noting we can forget sins and forget consenting to them.

    “For Calvin, on the other hand, merely being tempted to sin is a sin.”

    This is an issue I want to dig more into when I have the time. My wife should be at the gym tonight, which gives me uninterrupted reading and writing time.

    God bless,
    Craig

        1. Hello Craig,

          I could read every word of Augustine or even every word of Sacred Scripture but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I would interpret them correctly.

          It seems you are imposing your own theology onto St. Augustine’s words instead of seeking to understand his.

          There have been disputes among Christians of goodwill throughout the ages. Jesus didn’t leave us without an authority to settle those disputes. And that authority is not me and it is not you. For example, when Christians of good will couldn’t agree on the Trinity, the Church stepped in and exercised her Christ-given authority to settle the question. That dogma was articulated by the Church-it did not come from scripture alone. From that point forward, the Church’s dogma has been a criteria of orthodoxy.

          Have you read John Henry’s Newman’s An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine?

  3. As always, a very insightful article; thank you, Joe. I have a tangential question if you wouldn’t mine addressing. What is the Catholic response to the following:

    From where do we know the events/words that transpired during these times: Christ’s temptations in the desert; the dialogue between Christ and Pilate (What is Truth?); and the Garden of Gethsemane? It seems that Jesus is without companions (witnesses) who could relate the events…

    Just for clarification, in your article you mention that Jesus related to the Apostles His prayers (while they were sleeping). I’m guessing that sometime after the temptation in the desert, He related the experience to the Apostles as well. I am wondering however, when did He have the opportunity or contact with the Apostles after His arrest in the Garden?

    I’ve always wondered about these times and thought that this might be an opportunity to ask.

    1. Glennonite,

      Christ was with the Apostles for 40 days after His Resurrection, during which time He continued to teach them: “To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). I’ve heard before, and tend to believe, that this is when He relayed certain details of which we would otherwise be ignorant. There were other sources of information, though: for example, it seems that some of the servants in the imperial households were Christians, and testified to certain details.

  4. This article is so very important to those of us who struggle with same-sex attraction! The message of Calvinism, when carrying this particular cross, was for me, virtually unbearable. It caused me to fear that I was not part of the Elect, and per the principle of double-predestination, that I was already condemned to eternity in Hell. This was because my attractions never changed. The beauty of the gospel of Christ was renewed in my heart by articles like this one that I encountered online three years ago, by God’s grace. I’m sharing this article with my friends!

    1. A reading of the Life of St. Anthony of Egypt by St. Athanasius should give some consolation to all those struggling with great temptations, especially regarding sex or same sex attraction. This same biography seems to be a great rebuke to much of Calvins theology posted above. Here’s a sample, detailing the temptations that Anthony had early after he decided to live his life for God alone:

      “First of all he tried to lead him away from the discipline, whispering to him the remembrance of his wealth, care for his sister, claims of kindred, love of money, love of glory, the various pleasures of the table and the other relaxations of life, and at last the difficulty of virtue and the labour of it; he suggested also the infirmity of the body and the length of the time. In a word he raised in his mind a great dust of debate, wishing to debar him from his settled purpose. But when the enemy saw himself to be too weak for Antony’s determination, and that he rather was conquered by the other’s firmness, overthrown by his great faith and falling through his constant prayers, then at length putting his trust in the weapons which are ‘in the navel of his belly’ and boasting in them— for they are his first snare for the young— he attacked the young man, disturbing him by night and harassing him by day, so that even the onlookers saw the struggle which was going on between them. The one would suggest foul thoughts and the other counter them with prayers: the one fire him with lust, the other, as one who seemed to blush, fortify his body with faith, prayers, and fasting. And the devil, unhappy wight, one night even took upon him the shape of a woman and imitated all her acts simply to beguile Antony. But he, his mind filled with Christ and the nobility inspired by Him, and considering the spirituality of the soul, quenched the coal of the other’s deceit. Again the enemy suggested the ease of pleasure. But he like a man filled with rage and grief turned his thoughts to the threatened fire and the gnawing worm, and setting these in array against his adversary, passed through the temptation unscathed. All this was a source of shame to his foe. For he, deeming himself like God, was now mocked by a young man; and he who boasted himself against flesh and blood was being put to flight by a man in the flesh. For the Lord was working with Antony— the Lord who for our sake took flesh and gave the body victory over the devil, so that all who truly fight can say 1 Corinthians 15:10, ‘not I but the grace of God which was with me.’ ” (The whole Biography can be found at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2811.htm)

    2. I fail to see how reformed theology makes dealing with any particular sin unbearable. I think that if all of us realized the sheer immensity of our sin, perhaps we would feel as you do. By far the greatest sins we commit are failing to love God with our own heart and loving our neighbor as ourselves. “Good’ people, like you, Joe, and me, deliberately break these two commandments every day. God rightly demands perfection (Deut 18:13). We knowingly do not measure up.

      So, I think much of this debate here is academic. I think Calvin realized the big picture and did not get bogged down with details such as the difference between sexual temptation and full blown lust…because maybe you or me did not lust today, but there is an overall theme in our lives. We again and again break God’s commandments, all different ones. Paul writes, “I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Rom 7:20). So concupiscence is at the very core the issue. Sin is in us and perverts our will. Perhaps not on every point thanks to the grace of God, but it is there and we cannot be delivered from this body of death apart from the grace of God.

      1. I think the Lord Himself taught us about the varying gradations of sin when He washed His disciples feet. Herein we learn that not ALL sin is deadly sin. We also learn from this Gospel passage that we are obliged to help our neighbors by imitating the Lord in washing away their imperfections and minor sins by our holy counsel and holy companionship. Deadly sin is to be dealt with in another way, now know as the Sacrament of Penance. Here’s the Gospel account to absorb the details:

        “..He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet? [7] Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. [8] Peter saith to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. [9] Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. [10] Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.

        [11] For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean. [12] Then after he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: Know you what I have done to you? [13] You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. [14] If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’ s feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.” (John 13:6)

        1. Two quick points:

          1. I am unsure how that Scripture proves the point that not all sin is deadly sin. I think the Scripture is clear that “having” sin is deadly. Original sin is enough. To argue what sins cause death seems to me a little silly. Paul writes, “Who can save me from this body of death.” Apart from Christ, his end is death.

          2. Coveting, not loving one’s neighbor, and not loving God are all mortal sins anyway, correct?

          1. Jesus Himself is Our Teacher, and must be given priority over all other teachers, as He Himself stated:

            “The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. [3] All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not. …But be not you called Rabbi. For one is your master; and all you are brethren. [9] And call none your father upon earth; for one is your father, who is in heaven. [10] Neither be ye called masters; for one is your master, Christ.”

            So, by every means that Jesus communicates, whether by commandment or example or miracle or parable, His teaching (The Gospel) must be given priority to other writings, which includes the teachings and letters of the 12 Apostles, as well as the Epistles of St. Paul.

            When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven we learn from Him that there are nuances and gradations regarding the rewards given, or the punishments meted out, to those who both serve Him and resist Him in this world. And we learn it in many places, such as the quote from the ‘washing of the feet’ scripture above. But we also learn of these gradations of sin in many other parts of the Gospel such as when Jesus teaches:

            “…He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

            You can see above how Jesus talks of breaking one of the ‘least commandments’, which also merits being called ‘least’ in the kingdom of Heaven. And he moreover He mentions teaching others to break such least commandments also. Then, He teaches of those who are fulfilling all of the commandments, and teaching others to do likewise, by word and example, and teaches that this virtue merits one being called ‘great in the kingdom of Heaven’. So we note the possible gradations possible here. Then, He takes it one step further, and talks of the measurement, or level, of ones virtue of justice, saying if it is not of a greater degree than the Pharisees “you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”.

            Jesus here is talking of gradations of both virtue and sin. It’s good to consider what He teaches well.

          2. ” His teaching (The Gospel) must be given priority to other writings, which includes the teachings and letters of the 12 Apostles, as well as the Epistles of St. Paul.”

            This is incorrect. For one, Jesus says that the Apostles will be led into all truth and that it will be brought into remembrance everything He taught them. The writings of St. Paul, the prophecies of Ezekiel, and the Sermon on the Mount are all equally breathed out by God. If you give what Jesus said, according to an Apostle, primacy, your hermeneutic is inconsistent and it actually brings into contradiction what Jesus said of the apostles.

            So, in short, you are misunderstanding Jesus in what you are quoting. Further, aren’t coveting and not loving God with one’s whole heart mortal sins? WOuldn’t this essentially condemn everyone at every given moment?

          3. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

            125 The Gospels are the heart of all the Scriptures “because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Savior”.

            127 The fourfold Gospel holds a unique place in the Church, as is evident both in the veneration which the liturgy accords it and in the surpassing attraction it has exercised on the saints at all times:

            There is no doctrine which could be better, more precious and more splendid than the text of the Gospel. Behold and retain what our Lord and Master, Christ, has taught by his words and accomplished by his deeds.102

            139 The four Gospels occupy a central place because Christ Jesus is their center.

            And from Origin, Commentary on the Gospel of John Book 1:

            “5. All Scripture is Gospel; But the Gospels are Distinguished Above Other Scriptures.

            Here, however, some one may object, appealing to the notion just put forward of the unfolding of the first fruits last, and may say that the Acts and the letters of the Apostles came after the Gospels, and that this destroys our argument to the effect that the Gospel is the first fruits of all Scripture. To this we must reply that it is the conviction of men who are wise in Christ, who have profited by those epistles which are current, and who see them to be vouched for by the testimonies deposited in the law and the prophets, that the apostolic writings are to be pronounced wise and worthy of belief, and that they have great authority, but that they are not on the same level with that “Thus says the Lord Almighty.”

            …”No: the Gospel is the first fruits of all Scripture, and to these first fruits of the Scriptures we devote the first fruits of all those actions of ours which we trust to see turn out as we desire.”

          4. Nothing you quoted lends credibility to the idea that the words of Jesus can contradict Paul’s. Being that this is the case, only a consistent interpretation that allows what both men say to be simultaneously be true is the correct exegesis. I call this “consistent hermeneutics.”

            However, I think we are getting beside the point. Isn’t coveting and not loving God with one’s whole heart a mortal sin?

          5. Didn’t you read what Jesus said to Peter at the Washing of the feet?

            “Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.

            [11] For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean.”

            Jesus answers your implication that everyone is in mortal sin at every moment… IF that is indeed what you are implying? When Jesus says the 11 Apostles are ‘clean’, I think reasonable Christians should take Him at His Word. He is the ‘One teacher’ as I tried to convey in the previous post above. All of the rest of us are merely disciples and ‘brothers’.

            I’m just recommending to all that they listen carefully to, and learn from, the Lord’s teachings (such as the one above) and as are found in the Gospels. I think it’s a pretty simple concept for a Christian to understand?

          6. I have tried very hard not to engage in your non-sequiturs. I’m not trying to be mean in pointing that out, I’m just saying that the issue of Christ’s preeminence does not mean Scripture can be read inconsistently for one, and two, the Scripture you cite has nothing to do with the issue.

            This is why I ask, as a matter of definitions, isn’t coveting a mortal sin? Is loving God deficiently a mortal sin? If both are the case, the question is with what frequency does an average man commit such sins.

            Now, your round about way of addressing the problem is that Jesus called 11 of the disciples “clean.” I suppose your way of interpreting the word “clean” would mean that none of the disciples were guilty of mortal sins at the moment, other than Judas.

            However, there are two problems with this. First, the issue of mortal sin contextually is not being addressed. This point alone is enough to move on. Second, what makes the disciples “clean” in this context? Your view would be moral excellence…after all, this is why they are in your view not supposedly guilty of mortal sin. But, the context does not allow us to infer that Jesus Christ meant moral excellence. It appears Jesus is merely saying that the 11 were clean in the sense that they did not share the guilt of Judas, the specific guilt of betraying Him.

            So, being that your passage really has nothing to do with it, I ask again: is coveting a mortal sin? Is not loving God with your whole heart mortal sin? I honestly don’t know the answer to the question :(, I am not Catholic.

          7. In order for a sin to be mortal 3 conditions must be met. 1) the subject must be serious. 2) the sin must be committed with full knowledge both of the gravity and as well as it being a sin and 3) must be done with full consent.

            This is why young children are usually not in danger of committing mortal sins like lying or per your examples coveting toys. They havent complete knowledge. As for adults it requires complete will. A thought popping into your brain without full consent is not mortal sin. Likewise struggling to love your neighbor or to love God is not mortal since your will IS to love your neighbor and God. Of course individual instances of succumbing to sin have to be evaluated separately hence a daily examination of conscience.

          8. Deltaflute, thanks for the definition. I think I was told once before, but I did not remember. For a mature Catholic, then, would knowingly coveting and knowingly not loving God with all one’s heart be a mortal sin?

            And, if a non-believer out there in Thailand covets and does not love God with his whole heart, is there less condemnation?

            “A thought popping into your brain without full consent is not mortal sin. Likewise struggling to love your neighbor or to love God is not mortal since your will IS to love your neighbor and God.”

            For reasons I detail more thoroughly in my response to Joe, I feel that there still is an issue with “the flesh” that God must rectify, so it does not always pertain to our consent on every point.

            However, my the definition you set forward, then I do not commit mortal sins (at least, not right now, I have in the past.) However, I think that in reality, what’s the difference between a thought popping in one’s head and the next microsecond where it is entertained? We can continually justify ourselves and pat ourselves on the backs for denying every temptation, or we can take a longer, hard look at ourselves and realize there is something seriously wrong with us and that we need deliverance.

          9. Mary, I am not sure if you noticed, but no one was arguing against the existence of mortal and venial sins. My point is that a lot of people deliberately covet and I want to know if deliberately coveting and deliberately not making God one’s number one priority is mortal sin.

          10. Craig Truglia says:
            August 21, 2015 at 3:52 am
            Two quick points:

            First, my own, again. You are still talking to us as though we were run of the mill, Protestants. We’re not. We follow the Teaching of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church teaches precisely that which you are asking.

            1. I am unsure how that Scripture proves the point that not all sin is deadly sin.

            It doesn’t. It implies it. But, since you are Protestant, you will view it according to your own whims. Rather than in accordance with the absolute truth which is taught by the Catholic Church.

            I think the Scripture is clear that “having” sin is deadly.

            Scripture is clear that holding sin without repenting, is deadly.

            Original sin is enough. To argue what sins cause death seems to me a little silly.

            It seems silly to us that a grown man questions such an elementary doctrine which can be proven from a simple observation of human law.

            Is a man punished with death for stealing a $1 candy bar?

            Do you think that God is unjust in comparison to man?

            Man’s law is a poor reflection of God’s justice.

            Paul writes, “Who can save me from this body of death.” Apart from Christ, his end is death.

            Apart from Christ, he dies in his sins, as anyone else. But with Christ, he repents of his sins and may hope in his own resurrection.

            2. Coveting, not loving one’s neighbor, and not loving God are all mortal sins anyway, correct?

            Wrong. The Ten Commandments are lists of sins. Which, all of them, may be venial or mortal. Because one who is briefly is tempted to either, has not committed any sin. And there are circumstances where one can be forced to commit any sin, against their will.

            This is such a silly, elementary question, that it is difficult to explain to a grown man. But let me give it a shot.

            Coveting is not a mortal sin, but can turn into a mortal sin if one begins to put a date and time on when he will take action to satisfy that which he covets. If that which he covets is, for example, a poor widows only means of transportation.

            If that man dies, while holding those plans in his heart, that is probably a mortal sin. But only he and God are the judge.

            If a man does not love his neighbors, and yet, does what he can to help his neigbors, as the Good Samaritan did for the Jew whom he hated, then God is His judge and I don’t think he will lose his reward.

            But if a man permits his lack of love for his neigbor to turn to coldness and hatred, then it may become a mortal sin, subject to God’s judgment.

            not loving God

            Pope Francis famously quipped to an atheist, “I am not your judge”. Need I say more? God is the judge, even of atheists.

            If a man does not love God, he won’t keep God’s commandments. According to Scripture and Catholic Teaching, he is doomed.

            But, if a man claims to love God and yet keeps God’s commandments, God is His judge.

            1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

          11. “For a mature Catholic, then, would knowingly coveting and knowingly not loving God with all one’s heart be a mortal sin?”

            The problem is that there are hypothetical situations and there is reality. A priest worth his salt would look at the reality. Does this mature Catholic have a psychological condition? What is going on in hypothetical Catholic’s life that is making it difficult not to covet or love his neighbor? Is he willfully choosing or is he struggling against sin? Those are things one must ask themselves. So hypothetically yes, there is a possibility for mortal sin. Realistically a fully mature Catholic struggles and those sins tend to be of the venial variety.

            “And, if a non-believer out there in Thailand covets and does not love God with his whole heart, is there less condemnation?”

            It depends on the knowledge that the person from Thailand has. There is a thing called Natural Law which most people are aware of. Generally speaking (again this is all hypotheticals) a person who does not know God as a Christian does is condemned less. The Catechism speaks to this.

            “For reasons I detail more thoroughly in my response to Joe, I feel that there still is an issue with “the flesh” that God must rectify, so it does not always pertain to our consent on every point.”

            This is the difference between Catholics and Protestants. Catholics believe that humans were not totally corrupted post-Fall. God Our Creator does not make evil things and humans at the core are good. Many Protestants disagree and believe in “total depravity.” Therefore the flesh is evil. Catholics disagree. We can be evil….by choice. We are tempted by the forces of evil, but our natures are not evil just prone to it.

            “However, I think that in reality, what’s the difference between a thought popping in one’s head and the next microsecond where it is entertained?”

            I think there needs to be a distinction between examining why this thought is popping into ones head versus allowing this thought to fester into full blown sin. It’s always good to examine ones conscience and to figure out ways to avoid near occasions of sin.

            “We can continually justify ourselves and pat ourselves on the backs for denying every temptation, or we can take a longer, hard look at ourselves and realize there is something seriously wrong with us and that we need deliverance.”

            Yes, as I said before it’s a good thing to examine ones conscience and avoid near occasions of sin. These are all Catholic teachings about growing in virtue. I will however tell you that from my own experience with confessors it’s discouraged to “realize there is something seriously wrong with us” as that can lead to being over scrupulous (which is also a sin). It’s important to rely on the Graces of God found in the Sacraments, and to realize that we are not perfect and only human. It’s not charitable to ourselves to not forgive ourselves after God has done so in the Sacrament of Confession. It’s a balance we are called to maintain.

          12. De Marua said, “Is a man punished with death for stealing a $1 candy bar?”

            Nope. But is the man who punches me in the face punished equally to the man who punches the President in the face?

            “Do you think that God is unjust in comparison to man?”

            He’s more just.

            “Man’s law is a poor reflection of God’s justice.”

            Indeed. Man cannot contemplate the consequences of wronging an infinite God, but accords greater penalties for wronging those which society gives greater weight to. Nothing is weightier than God. That’s why damnation is eternal, and not temporary.

          13. Craig Truglia says:
            August 22, 2015 at 11:20 pm

            Nope. But is the man who punches me in the face punished equally to the man who punches the President in the face?

            That’s not a rebuttal. That’s a confirmation.

            The man who punches you, punches someone who is not of the same honor in the eyes of man than the one who punches the President.

            The one who punches you, insults only you. The one who punches the President, insults not only the person, but the entire nation which that President represents.

            That is an apt metaphor for the difference between venial and mortal sin.

            He’s more just.

            Then why do you think that God would punish all men equally for all sins?

            Indeed. Man cannot contemplate the consequences of wronging an infinite God, but accords greater penalties for wronging those which society gives greater weight to. Nothing is weightier than God. That’s why damnation is eternal, and not temporary.

            Indeed. For the man who dies in a state of mortal sin. But you are not the judge of all sins. And God has revealed to the Catholic Church that there are some sins which are not unto death and some that are. For that that aren’t, God has provided the remedy. It is called, Purgatory.

            1 Corinthians 3:10-15King James Version (KJV)

            10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

            That’s the truth, whether you like it or not.

          14. De Maria:

            “Then why do you think that God would punish all men equally for all sins?”

            I never said God did. Everyone apart from Christ goes to hell. I never said that hell is equally bad for everyone. Jesus speaks of some cities having it more bearable in the day of judgment than others.

            “And God has revealed to the Catholic Church that there are some sins which are not unto death and some that are. For that that aren’t, God has provided the remedy. It is called, Purgatory.

            1 Corinthians 3:10-15King James Version (KJV)”

            That’s not purgatory, sorry, it exegetically makes no sense. “[T]he fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Cor 3:13). It is the “man’s work [that] is burned up” (1 Cor 3:15). Not the man himself, he is saved! Even in the context of the passage Paul is speaking about to different church leaders building up the church in different ways. The conversation has nothing to do with any notion of purgatory, nor does any other part of the Bible.

            But of course, you will retort, “You are not my teacher, the Catholic Church is.” Good! Just don’t quote stuff totally out of context without any meaningful exegesis and expect anyone to take it seriously, because some people might respond to you with a response that requires careful thought and not a simple appeal to authority.

          15. Craig Truglia says:
            August 28, 2015 at 2:20 am
            I am making the exegetical point that 1 Cor 3:11-15 is not about purgatory, something ancient witnesses can confirm, let alone the plain meaning of the text that simply does not allow for the notion.

            You’re wrong. Your simple denials of the truth are not persuasive. So, far, all you’ve done is ignore my questions on this point and try to impose your private, self appointed authority.

            I asked you and you conveniently ignored these questions:
            But, you tell me. If this is not explaining the purification of a man’s soul, what is it explaining? What is being burned in the afterlife? Or is this in the afterlife? If it isn’t in Purgatory, where is it happening? If you’re saying that works are being burned, which works are they? Feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Building a home?

            And finally, this is only a side issue to the main question. The main question is whether you believe that there is a sin not unto death.

            I believe in a sin that is not unto death sure.

            Then discussion over. You have again admitted that the Catholic Teaching is correct.

            Every single sin that is not specifically rejecting the faith that works through love can be forgiven. That’s what Augustine said. Hence, he did not take the exegesis of 1 John 5:16 that you do.

            Yes, he does. He is Catholic and accepts the Catholic Teaching on the point.

            You need to read the following carefully as it includes both the Biblical verse and the obvious Roman Catholic contradiction of the same verse:

            I always read carefully. That is why I reject all the presuppositions which color your statements.

            -“There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make REQUEST for this” (1 John 5:16).

            That is “prayer”.

            -Yet, Catholics believe that mortal sins can be forgiven through honest confession and penitence.

            Absolutely.

            -“The priest will begin the Confession with the PRAYER of the Sign of the Cross,” says one Catholic website.
            -Yet, the Bible specifically says not to make request for forgiveness for such a sin!

            The Bible says no such thing. It is you who read that into the Bible.

            So, which is it De Maria? Is 1 John 5:16 about mortal sin as you claim?

            Yes, it is.

            Because if it is, your sacrament of confession to deal with mortal sin is in direct violation of the Scripture.

            No. It is against your vile interpretation of Scripture. But the Catholic Sacrament of Confession is precisely in line with Scripture since it is the basis of the written Word.

            1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

            OR, will you admit that 1 John 5:16 is not about mortal sin,

            Why would I admit to your lie being true? What I admit is what I have repeatedly told you.

            the point I have been trying to make?

            Your a chameleon. All you want to do is to win an argument. First, you tried to claim that there was no such thing as a sin not unto death. Now, you admit your error in that regard and want to push another point which is even more unreasonable.

            You cannot have it both ways.

            What are you talking about? I follow Catholic Teaching. Not your hybridization of Protestant and gnostic beliefs.

        2. Craig Truglia says:
          August 24, 2015 at 12:37 pm

          I never said God did. Everyone apart from Christ goes to hell. I never said that hell is equally bad for everyone. Jesus speaks of some cities having it more bearable in the day of judgment than others.

          But, it seems you deny the Scripture which says that there is sin which is not unto death, is that correct?
          1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

          You believe all sins are unto death, right?

          That’s not purgatory, sorry, it exegetically makes no sense. “[T]he fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Cor 3:13). It is the “man’s work [that] is burned up” (1 Cor 3:15). Not the man himself, he is saved!

          The Catholic explanation is that the man’s soul is purified:
          Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

          And it is purified by burning away their sins.

          Let me explain. Righteous works are virtues. Those are the ones made of gold and silver and precious stones. Wicked works are sins. They are those made of wood and straw.

          But, you tell me. If this is not explaining the purification of a man’s soul, what is it explaining? What is being burned in the afterlife? Or is this in the afterlife? If it isn’t in Purgatory, where is it happening? If you’re saying that works are being burned, which works are they? Feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Building a home?

          Even in the context of the passage Paul is speaking about to different church leaders building up the church in different ways.

          St. Paul is also speaking about that, true.

          The conversation has nothing to do with any notion of purgatory, nor does any other part of the Bible.

          Because you say so? What authority are you invoking? You claim we are circular when we invoke the Catholic Church. But you are doing what exactly? Assuming we will accept your authority in lieu of the Church which Jesus Christ established to lead us to salvation?

          But of course, you will retort, “You are not my teacher, the Catholic Church is.”

          You know me. You know my arguments! Good! Soon God will make the seed grow.

          Good! Just don’t quote stuff totally out of context without any meaningful exegesis

          Nothing is meaningful to you unless it agrees with your presuppositions.

          and expect anyone to take it seriously, because some people might respond to you with a response that requires careful thought and not a simple appeal to authority.

          Not you, though. You always appeal to your own authority. As you recognized above.

          1. two comments: the modern Catholic exegesis of 1 Cor 3:11-15 (not the ancient ones that Chrysostom and Augustine give, and let me note that Augustine affirmed the concept of purgatory but not because of 1 Cor 3:11-15) does not make sense.

            Second: “But, it seems you deny the Scripture which says that there is sin which is not unto death, is that correct?”

            I take the Augustinian view:

            “Concerning which sin (since it is not expressed) many and different notions may be entertained. I, however, say, that sin is to forsake even unto death the faith which worketh by love.” (A Treatise on Rebuke and Grace, Chapter 35).

            In addition to this, our exegesis contradicts modern Catholic ecclesiology to boot. “There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this” (1 John 5:16). Yet, Catholics believe that mortal sins can be forgiven through honest confession and penitence. “The priest will begin the Confession with the prayer of the Sign of the Cross,” says one Catholic website. Yet, the Bible specifically says not to make request for forgiveness for such a sin!

            So, are the sins leading to death really what you call mortal sins, and if so, why do you pray for them when you are not supposed to?

            Hence, what Augustine said actually makes sense. The latter view is self-contradictory.

            God bless,
            Craig

          2. Craig Truglia says:
            August 28, 2015 at 1:03 am
            two comments: the modern Catholic exegesis of 1 Cor 3:11-15 (not the ancient ones that Chrysostom and Augustine give, and let me note that Augustine affirmed the concept of purgatory but not because of 1 Cor 3:11-15) does not make sense.

            You’re funny. So, what are you saying? That you follow Augustine and believe in the existence of Purgatory? And therefore that there is a sin which is not unto death? Or that you reject all of that regardless of what St. Augustine teaches?

            Second: “But, it seems you deny the Scripture which says that there is sin which is not unto death, is that correct?”

            I take the Augustinian view:….

            All you’re doing is muddying up the waters. This is not an I win/you lose discussion.

            Augustine believes in a sin that is not unto death. Or he would not affirm the concept of Purgatory. Do you believe in a sin which is not unto death, yes or no?

            In addition to this, our exegesis contradicts modern Catholic ecclesiology to boot. “There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this” (1 John 5:16). Yet, Catholics believe that mortal sins can be forgiven through honest confession and penitence. “The priest will begin the Confession with the prayer of the Sign of the Cross,” says one Catholic website. Yet, the Bible specifically says not to make request for forgiveness for such a sin!

            What in the world are you talking about? Where does the Bible say such a thing? Man, you are so set on winning an argument that you contradict yourself in mid-sentence. You are confused and confusing. Your thoughts make no sense whatsoever.

            So, are the sins leading to death really what you call mortal sins, and if so, why do you pray for them when you are not supposed to?

            Says who? Your so-called “exegetical” skills fall far short in your rendering of that verse.

            KJV
            1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

            NAB
            1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray.

            All that says is that St. John withholds opinion about whether one should pray for a brother who has committed a mortal sin. That doesn’t say that anyone is forbidden to pray for that individual. Nor does it say that the brother can’t repent and return to God.

            We see an instance of this in another verse. This man, who had committed a very grave sin and been cast out of the community, is forgiven, and returned to the fold:

            2 Corinthians 2:5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. 9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

            Hence, what Augustine said actually makes sense. The latter view is self-contradictory.

            Your view is self contradicting. St. Augustine affirms sin not unto death. Otherwise, he couldn’t affirm Purgatory.

            God bless,
            Craig

            You too.

          3. “You’re funny. So, what are you saying? That you follow Augustine and believe in the existence of Purgatory?”

            I am making the exegetical point that 1 Cor 3:11-15 is not about purgatory, something ancient witnesses can confirm, let alone the plain meaning of the text that simply does not allow for the notion.

            “Augustine believes in a sin that is not unto death. Or he would not affirm the concept of Purgatory.”

            I believe in a sin that is not unto death sure. Every single sin that is not specifically rejecting the faith that works through love can be forgiven. That’s what Augustine said. Hence, he did not take the exegesis of 1 John 5:16 that you do.

            Do you believe in a sin which is not unto death, yes or no?

            “Where does the Bible say such a thing?”

            You need to read the following carefully as it includes both the Biblical verse and the obvious Roman Catholic contradiction of the same verse:

            -“There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make REQUEST for this” (1 John 5:16).
            -Yet, Catholics believe that mortal sins can be forgiven through honest confession and penitence.
            -“The priest will begin the Confession with the PRAYER of the Sign of the Cross,” says one Catholic website.
            -Yet, the Bible specifically says not to make request for forgiveness for such a sin!

            So, which is it De Maria? Is 1 John 5:16 about mortal sin as you claim? Because if it is, your sacrament of confession to deal with mortal sin is in direct violation of the Scripture. OR, will you admit that 1 John 5:16 is not about mortal sin, the point I have been trying to make?

            You cannot have it both ways.

          4. Craig Truglia says:
            August 28, 2015 at 2:20 am
            I am making the exegetical point that 1 Cor 3:11-15 is not about purgatory, something ancient witnesses can confirm, let alone the plain meaning of the text that simply does not allow for the notion.

            You’re wrong. Your simple denials of the truth are not persuasive. So, far, all you’ve done is ignore my questions on this point and try to impose your private, self appointed authority.

            I asked you and you conveniently ignored these questions:
            But, you tell me. If this is not explaining the purification of a man’s soul, what is it explaining? What is being burned in the afterlife? Or is this in the afterlife? If it isn’t in Purgatory, where is it happening? If you’re saying that works are being burned, which works are they? Feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Building a home?

            And finally, this is only a side issue to the main question. The main question is whether you believe that there is a sin not unto death.

            I believe in a sin that is not unto death sure.

            Then discussion over. You have again admitted that the Catholic Teaching is correct.

            Every single sin that is not specifically rejecting the faith that works through love can be forgiven. That’s what Augustine said. Hence, he did not take the exegesis of 1 John 5:16 that you do.

            Yes, he does. He is Catholic and accepts the Catholic Teaching on the point.

            You need to read the following carefully as it includes both the Biblical verse and the obvious Roman Catholic contradiction of the same verse:

            I always read carefully. That is why I reject all the presuppositions which color your statements.

            -“There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make REQUEST for this” (1 John 5:16).

            That is “prayer”.

            -Yet, Catholics believe that mortal sins can be forgiven through honest confession and penitence.

            Absolutely.

            -“The priest will begin the Confession with the PRAYER of the Sign of the Cross,” says one Catholic website.
            -Yet, the Bible specifically says not to make request for forgiveness for such a sin!

            The Bible says no such thing. It is you who read that into the Bible.

            So, which is it De Maria? Is 1 John 5:16 about mortal sin as you claim?

            Yes, it is.

            Because if it is, your sacrament of confession to deal with mortal sin is in direct violation of the Scripture.

            No. It is against your vile interpretation of Scripture. But the Catholic Sacrament of Confession is precisely in line with Scripture since it is the basis of the written Word.

            1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

            OR, will you admit that 1 John 5:16 is not about mortal sin,

            Why would I admit to your lie being true? What I admit is what I have repeatedly told you.

            the point I have been trying to make?

            Is an error!

            Your a chameleon. All you want to do is to win an argument. First, you tried to claim that there was no such thing as a sin not unto death. Now, you admit your error in that regard and want to push another point which is even more unreasonable.

            You cannot have it both ways.

            What are you talking about? I follow Catholic Teaching. Not your hybridization of Protestant and gnostic beliefs.

      2. Let’s look at your question this way. Before any judgement can be made, we need to ask if the person we talk about is a believer in Christ, or not. For those who are not, then as Jesus sent His disciples to teach, he also said to proclaim ‘peace’ to the house they enter. If the residents are open to the Gospel, then the peace of Christ will remain with them. If not, the peace will return to the evangelists, and dust can be shaken from their feet as the Lord taught.

        When a person is evangelized, he proclaims his love for God and is then is catechized and baptized by the Church in his particular area. Part of this process of being a catechumen is professing a love for God, as taught in the 1st and most important Commandment. A love for God is something that can grow, or shrink, according to the effort that the individual offers freely to the Lord. He can be either a profitable, or less profitable servant, and will receive a reward from God in accordance with how he uses the ‘talents’ provided Him by God. Since a new convert knows little about the Lord, he will gradually learn the faith and his love should grow with greater knowledge. He also receives the Sacraments, but cannot receive the Eucharist if he is conscious of any grave (mortal) sin. He is obliged to go to the Sacrament of reconciliation in this circumstance. If a person has a clean conscience, informed by what he has learned in the Catechetical instruction or RCIA, he can receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist daily, if he desires. This sacred and divine food increases grace in the soul through direct communion with the Lord, body and soul. This also is similar to the washing of the feet passage, because the Eucharist also cleans stains of venial sins, and increases love for God. ( I know this from experience, from Church teachings and also from witnessing the lives of other faithful Catholics)

        So, this is how Catholics learn about the teaching of Christ, and also how to be vigilant in guarding against sinful thoughts. Moreover, Jesus said to ‘pray always that you enter not into temptation’. For this many Catholics, such as my wife, pray the ‘liturgy of the hours’ which has been prayed since apostolic times. This is simply prayers, antiphons, psalms and hymns prayed at about 6,9,12,3,6,9 and 3 or midnight. This also helps the Christian be occupied with love and prayer to God continually throughout the day and night, so as to avoid ‘occasion of sin’. It is also the official prayer of the Church and all Catholic Priests, Monks and Nuns are required by canon law to pray it daily. In all of this a Christian tries to Love God with all of his heart. With much love also comes much forgiveness, as the Lord taught. And things such as covetousness will be conquered, or lessened, by exercises of love for both God through prayer and man through acts of humility and charity. A love for poverty will also help, as Jesus taught that we cannot be His disciple without renouncing all that we possess, not that we need to give it all away, but that our hearts are not set on such things that we own.

        Some people will have greater detachment from the things of this world, and others lesser detachment. The more detachment, the more holy the person will become, as he will be occupied with the things of the Lord to a greater degree.

        So, yes it is possible to live a life without covetousness, and without lust also. If we are always occupied with holy things…such as responding to religion orientated blog posts…and going to Mass and receiving Communion frequently, we will have much fewer temptations, and even our dreams often will be some what holy. If we fall into temptation and sin, we go to confession and re-double our penances and prayers until out grace has been restored. In short, a soul needs to protect itself from the tricks and assaults of evil, as Jesus taught. He said the strong man knows when the robber might enter and is vigilant against him so that his house might not be ransacked. If you read a book called “Vitae -Patrum” online, detailing the lives of the first Christian Monks and Hermits of the 4th to 7th centuries…people like St. Antony of Egypt and St. Jerome…you will find secrets of how they maintained their state of sanctifying grace through great love, prayer and imitation of Christ.

        Hope this helps.

        1. I think you miss the point. I don’t know everyone here, so I do not know who here harbors grudges (that’s an intentional sin), who covets things more than a moment (as evidenced by their credit card debt, buying things they cannot afford), who’s passing glances are in secret fantasies, romance novels, and pornography.

          I know none of that stuff about people here, but I think if people look hard enough, they will find that there is intentionality behind serious stuff which they tell themselves is not intentional. Perhaps no one here commits mortal sin, but if that’s the case, I seriously wonder why Jesus had to die for us as we are doing so good on our own.

          However, I think in your very reply, you disproved your whole contention. You wrote, “A love for God is something that can grow, or shrink, according to the effort that the individual offers freely to the Lord.”

          It appears that you are saying that people should continually ramp up the effort, as the effort is never perfect. However, the Scripture clearly says that God demands perfect effort, He wants all the heart, He wants blamelessness. Who here reads Joe’s blog, the Bible, the catechism, or does anything else of a religious nature every waking moment that does not pertain to working so as which to afford the lifestyle of devoting all one’s heart to God? Aren’t you knowingly breaking God’s commandment, not making its mark when you watch television, go out to dinner, and read the Sunday comics? Aren’t you not giving God all your heart?

          This is why Augustine’s exegesis of Rom 7 is so important. Even those who lack serious, intentional sins (which he postulates the Apostles are in this crowd) still must have their “weakness” (i.e. human nature/”flesh”) done away with because sin resides in such weakness. Not loving God with all our hearts is at the core of all sins. It is the key differentiator between the most righteous ones of us and Jesus Christ. Christ did it. We cannot.

          God bless,
          Craig

          1. I rather think that you are missing the point. You are neglecting to identify the strengths and helps that Christ leaves to us on this earth to help us on our way to God. You neglect to mention the ‘peace’ of Christ, the same that we are to have within ourselves and also to announce to others, and for which the Gospel itself is defined “Good News”. Christ gives the power to conquer sins in this world, and He does this by strengthening the Love that one has in his heart for both God and neighbor. If you deny these gifts of God, of course you cannot resist temptation and sin. But if you do what Jesus says in His Gospel, and follow Him with great love, this will shield from so much of the ‘dust’ and temptations of this world which damages our souls. And finally this peace is given to us by God Himself. It’s called the ‘Paraclete’. The Lord in His love for us wants us to be at peace in this world. He knows that we ‘labor and are burdened’ but He wants to give us rest….in Him and the Holy Spirit. However, to have His peace and rest we must also DO WHAT HE SAYS. We must listen to Him. We must join ourselves to others of His body in the Holy Church that He founded. We must commune with Him in the Eucharist. We must confess our sins if we fall. We must feed the poor, clothe the naked, etc… as He told us to do. And to do all of this needs EFFORT on our part. To pray it takes effort. To learn the scripture it takes effort. To be charitable and help others takes effort. But all of this effort is also accompanied by the ‘peace’ of Christ, and so it is also enjoyable. So, what ever you want to theorize about St. Augustine,(and I’ve read His major works… some more than once) it’s better to learn from the Gospel, from which Augustine himself learned. It’s too easy to misinterpret the writings of theologians, especially if you don’t practice the same faith or life that they lived (such as the Sacraments). But Jesus answers your questions in the Gospel. He talks of His help and His peace that must accompany us in this life. It is not negative, it’s not focused on doom and misery and dread. Rather, it is full of hope and love and union with the Sacred Heart of Christ. Listen to what He says, and listen to what St. Paul says also so that you may “rejoice always, again I say rejoice”:

            “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. [27] Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. “

          2. “I rather think that you are missing the point.”

            Perhaps, it wouldn’t be the first time and neither the last.

            “You are neglecting to identify the strengths and helps that Christ leaves to us on this earth to help us on our way to God.”

            Still doesn’t get rid of the “body of death” we deal with.

            “You neglect to mention the ‘peace’ of Christ…”

            We have peace with God because we have His Spirit. We got His Spirit by faith, not works of the Law.

            “Christ gives the power to conquer sins in this world, and He does this by strengthening the Love that one has in his heart for both God and neighbor.”

            Again, even if we have more victory against sin, we have not completely conquered it as Paul realized in Rom 7. We deal with the flesh our whole lives, something that Paul explicitly calls “sin.”

            “But if you do what Jesus says in His Gospel, and follow Him with great love, this will shield from so much of the ‘dust’ and temptations of this world which damages our souls.”

            But not completely, as Paul did not completely defeat sin.

            “However, to have His peace and rest we must also DO WHAT HE SAYS. We must listen to Him.”

            Because we have the Paraclete, we do as He says. We do not do what He says to have Him. That’s why we have fruit of the Holy Spirit. THe Holy Spirit is no the fruit of works, that has it all backwards.

            “So, what ever you want to theorize about St. Augustine,(and I’ve read His major works… some more than once)…”

            Same here…

            “It’s too easy to misinterpret the writings of theologians, especially if you don’t practice the same faith or life that they lived (such as the Sacraments).”

            You would find that you have added sacraments that Augustine did not know exist, so I beg to differ, you do not practice the faith of Augustine.

            So, let’s cut all around this. Do you love God with your whole heart all the time? Why not?

          3. Do you love God with your whole heart all the time? Why not?

            While sleeping? While under anesthesia and undergoing surgery? While running away from a Rottweiler that is chasing me? While scuba diving when my air supply runs out?

            How did the Apostles love God? How did the Early Church Fathers?

            We should love God in the same way as these Saints.

            Humans are not Angels. And we are not in Heaven yet.

            But in Heaven (If I get there) I will love God with my whole Heart ALL OF THE TIME.

            I really think you should buy a Catholic Catechism and read it. 🙂

          4. Craig, I think you might benefit by reading ‘Lives of the Desert Fathers’, that is, early Christian saints and monks, mostly from the Hly Land and North Africa. I think their stories might enlighten you about various questions you have concerning the spiritual life, or the perfect way to live in this world. There is really quite a lot of literature from these holy ‘fathers’, most from the 4th and 5th centuries. St. Athanasius wrote the first life of these fathers, and St. Basil, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Benedict, St. John Cassian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, amongst others, were familiar with and followed the teachings of these early monks and saints.

            He is a short sample from the Vitae-Patrum:
            http://www.vitae-patrum.org.uk/page58.html

            Chapter V
            THE CITY OF OXYRYNCUS

            Eventually we came to a certain city of the Thebaid called Oxyryncus, which was so famous for good religious activities that no description could possibly do justice to them all. We found monks everywhere inside the city and also in all the countryside round about. What had been the public buildings and temples of a former superstitious age were now occupied by monks, and throughout the whole city there were more monasteries than houses. There are twelve churches in this very spacious and populous city where public worship is conducted for the people, as well as the monasteries which all have their own chapels. But from the very gates with its battlements to the tiniest corner of the city there is no place without its monks who night and day in every part of the city offer hymns and praises to God, making the whole city one great church of God. No heretics or pagans are to be found there, for all the citizens are Christians, all Catholics, so that it makes no difference whether the bishop offers prayer in the streets or in the church. The magistrates, the leaders of the city and other citizens keep watch over each gate, and whoever turns up, whether pilgrim or pauper, is informed of the preconditions to which it is necessary for him to conform.

            But how can I possibly describe all the kind acts done to us by the people as they watched us going through the city, greeting us like angels, making us welcome. We were told by the holy bishop of that place that it contained twenty thousand virgins and ten thousand monks. I could not possibly tell you, not even by stretching the truth to its limits, how great was the kindness and hospitality shown to us, to the extent that the clothes were almost torn off our backs by those who were eager to seize us and take us home as their guests.
            We saw there also many different holy fathers who were examples of various different God-given graces, some by way of preaching, some by abstinence, others by showing forth many signs and powers.

          5. I have a lot on my list still to read. I’m going through the Justification Reader by THomas C. Oden and I am going to be in the Book of Job for some time if I end up teaching through it. I might want to read Augustine latter 3 Books to the Donatists, as I found a lot of gold in these books though I have to muddle a lot through some of the controversy and grandstanding on the topic.

            What you wrote to me reminds me of Book X of Augustine’s Confessions. In Chapter 30 he writes concerning thoughts of sex:

            “…in sleep they do so not only so as to give pleasure, but even to obtain consent, and what very nearly resembles reality. Yea, to such an extent prevails the illusion of the image, both in my soul and in my flesh, that the false persuade me, when sleeping, unto that which the true are not able when waking. Am I not myself at that time, O Lord my God?…Where, then, is the reason which when waking resists such suggestions?…But whence, then, comes it to pass, that even in slumber we often resist, and, bearing our purpose in mind, and continuing most chastely in it, yield no assent to such allurements? And there is yet so much difference that, when it happens otherwise, upon awaking we return to peace of conscience; and by this same diversity do we discover that it was not we that did it, while we still feel sorry that in some way it was done in us.”

            He continues in prayer: “You will increase in me, O Lord, Your gifts more and more, that my soul may follow me to You, disengaged from the bird-lime of concupiscence; that it may not be in rebellion against itself, and even in dreams not simply not, through sensual images, commit those deformities of corruption, even to the pollution of the flesh, but that it may not even consent unto them.”

            “For it is no great thing for the Almighty, who is able to do . . . above all that we ask or think, Ephesians 3:20 to bring it about that no such influence— not even so slight a one as a sign might restrain— should afford gratification to the chaste affection even of one sleeping; and that not only in this life, but at my present age. But what I still am in this species of my ill [Maria Boulding’s translation says “sinfulness”] have I confessed unto my good Lord; rejoicing with trembling in that which You have given me, and bewailing myself for that wherein I am still imperfect.”

            Augustine goes on to detail other sins, which would appear to us minor and somewhat (keyword “somewhat”) involuntary, Augustine takes seriously and prays to God for deliverance. “It is not that I have ceased to inflict these woulds on myself,” Augustine says speaking of his willingness to sin in CHapter 39, “rather I am conscious that ever and anew You are healing them.”

            Augustine ends the whole discussion in Chapter 70 in a fashionb reminscient of how Paul answers the dielemma in Rom 7:

            “Terrified by my sins and the load of my misery, I had resolved in my heart, and meditated flight into the wilderness; but You forbade me, and strengthened me, saying, therefore, Christ died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them. 2 Corinthians 5:15 Behold, O Lord, I cast my care upon You, that I may live, and behold wondrous things out of Your law. You know my unskilfulness and my infirmities; teach me, and heal me.”

            So, in all the answers to the questions I am posing here, I see a lot of self-justification and excuse making about how no one thinks they are committing serious sin. Yet Augustine looks to his delivery from what he calls sin (which includes nocturnal emissions, liking the taste of food too much, enjoying art too much, and other such things in Book X) to Jesus Christ.

            It appears that Augustine does not take confidence in his sins being of a venial nature, but rather reflects upon is concupiscence in a fashion that is Calvinistic: it’s a problem, and a problem dealt with by the cross.

    3. Anonymous, may God continue to grant you grace. How appreciative I am of your honesty and thankful to call you a sister/brother in the faith.

          1. Your articles on your website are for Protestant approbation.

            As for me, I’m just making the point that the Catholic Church is the Church of the Bible. And St. Augustine is one of the greatest champions of the Catholic Church.

          2. That sounds all fine and dandy, but you asked me how I would define it and I linked to you my answer to the very question. So, as I said before, if you asked the question in earnestness, there’s your answer. However, it appears that you were not exactly being honest in your questioning and you prefer to take pot shots instead.

          3. On the contrary, you are having a discussion, here. I see no sense in going back and forth from your Protestant site back to this one. I have two blog of my own. I don’t send you to them to answer your questions. I think that’s a bit presumptive of you, actually.

        1. The description you give is one of total depravity. What I mean is that you believe that people are completely and totally corrupted in their flesh as you say or their nature. They no longer have the ability to choose to love God without His Graces (aka no free will). Yet you say you follow the Augustinian definition. Augustine teaches that God wants all men to be saved and spoke in favor of free will. We are made by God to be good and made to have free will (the ability to choose good or bad). In other words, total depravity says only Grace makes you good. Whereas in Catholic theology/Augustinian we are made with goodness and free will and also can do good with the Grace of God.

          Concupiscence for some Protestants is the evil nature of humans. Concupiscence in Catholic theology is the tendency to succumb to evil. It’s not evil itself or having an evil nature. Rather it comes as part of free will. We can freely choose to do good, but we have a tendency to choose bad. This tendency is the result of the fall. It’s a wound but not our total nature.

          So could you clarify what your definition is? Do you follow total depravity or something else? I realize not everyone falls squarely in the total depravity camp but somewhere in between. And some haven’t quite decided to which camp they ascribe.

          1. Let me respond to you simply. WHat specifically in my link was wrong, or denied an Augustinian view of the human will?

            I think you are accusing me of things without actually having anything to contradict what was said.

          2. I’m not accusing you of anything. I simply asked you to clarify. Because you’re article says:

            “Man’s will is deficient to do anything about it, as Calvinist doctrine dictates.” Sounds a bit like total depravity.

            And later in the comments you state:
            “Calvin uses different terminology. “Human nature” according to Calvin IS what the Bible calls the “flesh.” The “corruption” which Calvin says is inherent in human nature, which Joe takes issue with, is the “sin” that “dwells” in that “flesh.” When we decode the words Calvin is using, and how he is using them, what we find is an accurate rendition of what Rom 7 is talking about.”

            So do you believe in total depravity or something else? It seems like you do. That’s all I’m asking and yet you do not answer. You say you hold the Augustinian/Catholic view that there is free will on Joe’s blog. But on your own post you say that Man’s will is deficient. Could you clarify? Are you speaking of a wounding of the will or a total deficiency or something else? It isn’t entirely clear.

          3. It seems that you are insinuating Delta Flute, that the spiritual battle in the Garden of Eden between the ‘serpent’ and Mankind was not completely lost at the fall. Well, The Book of Genesis is on your side of the argument. After the fall we note that the battle between good and evil goes on. The serpent has seed and mankind has seed. It seems that Calvinist ideology is teaching that the serpent won completely in this competition at the Fall…ie. total depravity was achieved in the heart and body of man. So, they are in essence conceding the contest in this world to the Serpent. Death wins in this world.

            But that is not how the story goes. The competition continues. And we know what happens when we read:

            “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”

            So we see that the battle between good and evil in this world is not finished, but we know that the serpents head is crushed by mankind. The seed of eve.

            Moreover, when Jesus teaches us to Pray in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’, He tells us to say “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” If the Calvinists were right and we were already completely depraved, then the prayer would be a waste of time. And when Jesus says “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”, he is comparing Earth to Heaven, which insinuates at least there are some souls on Earth that will conquer, crush the head of evil, and not be under the domination of evil, death or depravity.

            And for gradations of sin, what do we find at the Cross of Jesus: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they are doing”. And in other Gospel teachings: ” Those who know what their Master wants and do it not will receive greater punishment, those who do not know what their Master wants will receive a lesser punishment”.

            So, this is to say, the battle between Good and evil continues. With the grace and help of God some people will dominate over evil, and temptation, and crush the head of the serpent.

            Moreover, in Augustines “Against Two Letters of the Pelagians (Book I)” that Craig refers to, I find that Augustine argues that Paul never committed sins of Lust but rather suffered only the harassment of evil and other such temptations as to necessitate the recitation of many of the Lord’s Prayer to God. Here’s some proof of Augustines opinion from this same work cited by Craig:

            “Chapter 13 [VIII.]— The Fifth Calumny—That It is Said that Paul and the Rest of the Apostles Were Polluted by Lust.

            He says, They say that even the Apostle Paul, even all the apostles, were always polluted by immoderate lust. What man, however profane he may be, would dare to say this? But doubtless this man thus misrepresents because they contend that what the apostle said, I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing, for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not, Romans 7:18 and other such things, he said not of himself, but that he introduced the person of somebody else, I know not who, who was suffering these things. Wherefore that passage in his epistle must be carefully considered and investigated, that their error may not lurk in any obscurity of his. Although, therefore, the apostle is here arguing broadly, and with great and lasting conflict maintaining grace against those who were boasting in the law…” (Augustine)

            To be short about it, the battle is not over, mortal sin has not dominated the souls of all men, temptation is possible to resist, Christians can maintain pure their white baptismal garments that they received in baptism, The Kingdom of God can indeed come on Earth as it is in Heaven, and our ‘joy might be full’ in Jesus Christ…..

            The battle is not conceded to satan in this world. But it does continue with a hope for victory because of the graces, aids and sacraments provided by God to effect this victory.

          4. Yes, Al, I uphold the Church’s teachings on concupiscence and free will. I’m not entirely sure though of Craig’s beliefs. On the one hand it kinda sounds like total depravity from how he describes concupiscence, but yet he says he believes in free will. Perhaps he’s a gradation somewhere in between? I’m not sure how exactly one can hold that man is totally corrupted, but is yet somehow able to choose between good and evil.

          5. It pays to keep on reading what Augustine wrote in that book (as he concludes that Paul was writing about himself and his own struggle with sin). In the end, Augustine makes the claim that the apostles were examples of men that, at some point after the resurrection, never succumbed to intentional, deliberate sin. Yet, Augustine still identifies what he calls “weakness” as inherit even in them, and it must be done away with.

            It is worth noting that this “weakness” is explicitly called “sin” in Rom 7:20.

            So, I believe in free will, but that man operates from a position of weakness that he has inherited in Adam. Therefore, that weakness affects everything that he does, just like having a lame leg will affect how you walk all the time.

            It is my understanding that this Augustinian view is also the Calvinist view, it’s just that the men used different terminology and Calvin was only addressing one aspect of Augustine’s teaching when he opposed it.

          6. Ah, thank you for clarifying. My impression is that you are somewhere in between. You don’t follow the notion of total depravity, but you believe that concupiscence is not simply a wounding but based on your view of Romans 7 it’s referring to sin. Is this correct?

            I want to point out the problem that I have is that Romans 7 should be read in tandem with Romans 8. Romans 7 discusses Paul’s life when all he had was the Old Testament Law as his guide. Romans 8 discusses what it means to live in the laws of the New Testament. He contrasts living in the flesh as Old Testament laws with living in the spirit as New Testament laws. Romans 8:13 “But if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” I take that to mean that it’s possible with the Grace of God to conquer sin despite being wounded with concupiscence (not sin). How do you reconcile the two passages?

          7. Deltaflute,

            “but you believe that concupiscence is not simply a wounding but based on your view of Romans 7 it’s referring to sin. Is this correct?”

            Paul says: “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Rom 7:18-20).

            “Romans 7 discusses Paul’s life when all he had was the Old Testament Law as his guide.”

            I do not take that view, and neither does Augustine. Augustine points out that the man in Rom 7 “delights” in the Law, something Augustine asserts is not possible unless one is in Christ and has experienced His grace.

            “Romans 8 discusses what it means to live in the laws of the New Testament.”

            Paul is stating that because we have been forgiven in Christ and are dead to sin, we ought to play out that metaphysical reality. Paul says:

            “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is [d]alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [e]through His Spirit who dwells in you.

            12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—” (ROm 8:10-12).

            He states it clearly. Your body is dead BECAUSE of sin, but IF you are in Christ your spirit is alive, and IF this is so, then you are not under obligation of your sinful flesh.

            This whole dichotomy does not make sense if we take the view Joe has in the OP, which is, concupiscence is not sin. Paul states clearly that at its core, it specifically is sin. That’s why I challenged Joe to exegete Rom 7, because a proper understanding of Rom 7 appears to undo many of the claims here.

          8. The internet ate my original comment so I’ll just be brief.

            Could you quote what you are talking about (or link the entire passage for context) from Augustine? Your reading of Augustine doesn’t make sense when reading it against Joe’s quotes or the Church’s teachings.

            And you didn’t exactly answer my question about Romans 8:13. It’s nice that you quoted a portion of Romans which pertains to the resurrection, but that doesn’t explain how one in the here and now can “put away the deeds of the flesh and live” by the Spirit. Unless you think one can be in heaven and “put away the deeds of the flesh” in heaven?

          9. Deltaflute:

            “Could you quote what you are talking about (or link the entire passage for context) from Augustine?”

            http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15091.htm

            Discussion starts on chapter 13. Of particular importance are chapters 23 and 24 as they expound upon both the concepts of what Joe brought up, as well as myself.

            “And you didn’t exactly answer my question about Romans 8:13.”

            I feel that I sufficiently answered it. Rom 8:13 only makes sense in context, which I provided for you. Again, we are made alive by the Spirit, and because of this already present reality, we live in accordance with it. We don’t exert ourselves and by exertion attain a spiritual state, this would have it all backwards.

          10. Craig, you don’t answer delta flute’s point on Romans 8. You claim context, but you’re making a private interpretation which St Peter tells us is not to be made. Reading of scripture must be done according to the magisterium, sacred tradition, and holy scripture. I also feel like there is so much agreement going on which is great. The entire point is that Calvin erred (sp.) in his teaching…to the point of most likely heresy. And that has yet to come close to be disproven, so until someone does, I think it wise not to build theology off of an errant foundation.

          11. Trogos, you’re going to need to get on line with all the others that say I am wrong by default because I’m not Catholic. Sorry, not a very convincing counterargument.

            I believe I answered the question. And, for what it is worth, I am very careful in my reading NOT to use my own private interpretations. For example, I went through the book of Romans reading Aquinas, Augustine, and Chrysostom as my guides. You can read my study here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Dlq3qqvpHvn5uJylZ5b4u9PuGL5YO7CIClfMNOvyjMM/edit?usp=sharing

            Am I professional theologian? Of course not. But I really do try.

          12. Craig,

            There’s no getting on line. There was no counter argument. I have read about you on your website, I have read the back and forths. You are very interesting and I love your input. I am so happy to see your posts. You have a good mind. You simply didn’t answer the point by delta flute, and then claimed victory in context. I am interested in reading your exegesis if I get time (little babies in the house), my point is that no one has disproven what Joe has written, and as you say in your website’s counter to Joe, you think they’re arguing past one another. I disagree. In the little I have read Calvin admittedly ( I plan to read him more when I get time ha!). Calvin pushes for total depravity. I believe he lays a false foundation which becomes relevant when we see that it doesn’t match up with what we know of Jesus…He was sinless. And when Calvin just pushes his weakened arguement aside it shows the errancy of the arguement. Not a foundation I’d build on.

          13. Trogos, if you work upon the basis that total depravity is wrong without knowing what Calvin would have meant from the concept, of course it will be wrong in your eyes. You already presumed it to be wrong. My point in short was that Calvin was addressing the issue that sin, in of itself, is not JUST encapsulated by acts of the will. It was on this point that he was disagreeing with Augustine in a specific passage. It is my contention, if you read Augustine elsewhere, that Augustine identifies a similar problem with human nature which is sinful.

            Anyhow, risking my answers sounding exactly the same, let me try t address was Deltaflute said again:

            “He contrasts living in the flesh as Old Testament laws with living in the spirit as New Testament laws. Romans 8:13 “But if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” I take that to mean that it’s possible with the Grace of God to conquer sin despite being wounded with concupiscence (not sin). How do you reconcile the two passages?”

            Deltaflute believes that because it says “if” you live “by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body” that (somehow) Paul meant the the misdeeds of the body are totally put to death. Then, she asks me to reconcile the passages.

            First, the passage DOES NOT say the misdeeds of the body are totally put to death. It says “if by the Spirit you put to death,” which means a pattern is being spoken of. There are several reasons for this:

            1. Paul speaks of sin (specifically, his word not mine) persisting in the saved believer in Rom 7.
            2. In Rom 8:6 he speaks of believers having “the mind set on the Spirit.” We may infer that this is a conscience decision of the will to do spiritual things, not the ability to at all points to live spiritually and never sin.
            3. Because “Christ is in you…the spirit is alive because of [His] righteousness]” (Rom 8:10), Rom 8:12 states “we are under obligation, not to the flesh.” Again, the use of obligations speaks of what we ought to do, not what we always do.

            Now, looking at Rom 8 alone some of you may say, “Well, none of that says the Christian isn’t you DON’T totally put to death the deeds of the body.” This sort of response is why I responded that you have been putting the cart before the horse. When asked whether we can continue in sin so grace may about (Rom 6:1) what’s Paul’s response? “How shall we who died to sin continue living in it?…[C]onsider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:2, 11). Paul says we ought to live in line with the metaphysical reality accomplished in us by faith in Christ. In fact, if you don’t understand Rom 6 in this fashion, Paul’s whole answer does not make sense, which makes the dilemma of Rom 7 and the answer to it in Rom 8 out of place.

            So in both Rom 6 and 8, Paul answers the question as to what it means to be spiritual by telling Christians that they have a Spirit driven life, not saying that it is possible to never sin (which Rom 7 explicitly says is not the case.) Being spiritual, according to Paul, is deliberately considering oneself as righteous in Christ and living in accordance with that righteousness, not the achievement of moral excellence (which by this I mean, the full attainment of that righteous living.)

            Paul answers similarly in Col 3:1,2, 5: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. SET YOUR MIND on the things above, not on the things that are on earth….Therefore CONSIDER the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality.”

            Did you catch that? consider the members of your flesh as dead, but do not account them as dead. Live as if they were and battle against them.

            Let me sum up my response in this: Romans is a letter. Far too much, Protestants and Catholics alike take Bible verses they like and quote them out of context. Even the immediate context might not answer the question, just like if you read a love letter and just start in the middle, you might miss why the middle is there.

            In the same way we need to read Romans. Rom 1-3 speaks of how all men are under condemnation. Rom 4 speaks of how righteousness is available to these men. Rom 5 answers the question as to the utility of the Law in light that it makes no one righteous according to Rom 4 *the answer Rom 5 gives: “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:21).

            Now, when we get into Rom 6 it makes sense. “Why not sin then? If following the Law or being morally excellent does not save me, why can’t I sin all I want?” Sounds like too many a baptist. Rom 6 answers that one must consider oneself as a slave to righteousness if one is faithful in Christ, because by our lives we know our masters. Rom 7 responds with the problem of how we deal with sins even still, even when we desire to live righteously we find that sin is still crouching at the door. Rom 8 recapitulates the answer given in Rom 6 by saying even still, we must live in accordance with the reality which Christ achieved for us.

            So, I go into all this detail, because deltaflute takes Rom 8:13 and in my opinion really didn’t make a point with it. She simply assumed Paul meant perfect moral excellence is possible, yet, if you are following along in Romans, specifically because it is not possible nor even necessary Paul addresses the issue as to why we even strive for it at all. Hence, to really answer the question, Romans has to be read as a whole, particularly Rom 6 through 8.

            God bless,
            Craig

          14. Thanks for the thoughtful reply Craig. I think that is a pretty good analysis. The next step is to marry this up with the rest of the Bible, and Christ’s teaching. At the expense of not adequately delving into it, I would like to point to where I am thinking, namely what Al Williams points out below, (John 14…etc). We are required to love Him, and we do that in a certain way. I think that really on this point I have seen a lot of talking past on another, myself probably included. But unless I am missing something, when we really look at it, your view on the subject is rather Catholic and not as Calvinistic. Furthermore, I go back to Calvin’s teaching, and on the spectrum so to speak he goes to far.

          15. I just don’t think Calvin is contradicting Augustine. He contradicts a specific passage of Augustine’s, a definition concerning sin which leaves out the part about the flesh Calvin wanted to get at. Yet, other parts of Augustine lend credibility to the Calvinist view. So, it is a matter of emphasis and no…Christological errors are not part of it!

          16. I am not so sure Craig. I know I need to read more Calvin, and I saw that you admitted that you may as well. Calvin had a specific message that was promulgated again and again. Where has it been proven that Calvin had no Christological errors pertaining to this post? Joe’s article proves otherwise. Furthermore, St Augustine never takes it to the point of Calvin….that is the crux. Btw, I am excited to start reading your website. I’ll be commenting. I love hearing your input. I can’t wait to enjoy more back and forth.

            May God put the steel of the Holy Spirit in our spines, and the love of the Blessed Virgin in our hearts!

            God bless!

          17. Calvin also contradicts what St Augustine says about the Church throughout all of St Augustine’s writings.

          18. While I cannot speak as to other writings (in fact, in my article, I quote Calvin elsewhere in disagreement with something Christological), the section Joe quoted neither had a Christological error (Aquinas and Augustine gave similar explanations as to why Jesus spoke a certain way) nor did it show that Calvin thought temptation was sin, as Calvin very explicitly stated that this was not the case in the same commentary.

            As for Augustine’s and Calvin’s doctrine on the Church, yes, it is very different (obviously). Augustine’s ecclesiology was thoroughly Orthodox in the historic sense.

            God bless,
            Craig

  5. “Not loving God with all our hearts is at the core of all sins. It is the key differentiator between the most righteous ones of us and Jesus Christ. Christ did it. We cannot.”

    This statement then makes God to be either ignorant, or a poor communicator, because He is commanding something to Moses, and the Israelites, and ultimately to us, that in your opinion impossible. Is the first of the 10 commandments meant ONLY for Jesus, as you insinuate in the quote above? Is He the only one capable of fulfilling it? Is it God who is commanding something impossible to all the rest of mankind? Why would He command it at all if was in fact impossible to accomplish?

    Or maybe, it is your own fundamental theological thesis, as stated above, that is way off the mark?

    I’ll put my faith that the Lord is right, and that He understood exactly what He was doing, and mean’t, when He commanded us to Love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength. It is a beautiful goal to be strived for, and perfected, as we grow from infants to old age. Here we seek to imitate Jesus who we read about in the Gospel:

    “And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.(Luke 2:52)

    And note especially the word ‘advanced’…as even the Lord ‘grew’ in wisdom, age and grace with God and men.

    1. All of these Scriptures prove that it is possible to keep God’s commandments, which of course includes the first Commandment:

      Luke 1:6
      And they were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame.

      2
      Matthew 5:19
      He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

      3
      John 14:21
      He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

      4
      John 15:10
      If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father’ s commandments, and do abide in his love.

      5
      1 John 3:22
      And whatsoever we shall ask, we shall receive of him: because we keep his commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in his sight.

      6
      1 John 5:3
      For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy.

      7
      Apocalypse (Revelation) 12:17
      And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

      8
      Apocalypse (Revelation) 14:12
      Here is the patience of the saints, who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

    2. “This statement then makes God to be either ignorant, or a poor communicator, because He is commanding something to Moses, and the Israelites, and ultimately to us, that in your opinion impossible. ”

      It is possible, but not by the raw exertion of effort but rather by the fulfillment of the Law by Christ which takes the decrees against us and nails them to the cross.

      You are sounding almost like a Pelagian. What you are saying is that following all the commandments is something a man by is nature can actually do if he picks himself up from his boot straps and goes ahead and does it. If this is the case, then Jesus really didn’t need to die for some people…so I think your interpretation makes God a bad communicator while mine actually is hermeneutically consistent.

      1. When you say “the key differentiator between the most righteous ones of us and Jesus Christ” you are talking about baptized Christians who have already received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Eucharist, the forgiveness of our sins, etc… Of course the sacrifice of Christ is considered in the Catholic hermeneutic. What I see, is that you seem to contradict so many of Christ’s teachings and parables in your hermeneutic. You seem to neglect completely teachings of great importance in the Gospel such as :

        Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

        You imply that there are no ‘pure of heart’…which contradicts Christ’s statement.

        And also the fact that we can ‘love God’ in different ways in this world that you seem to overlook completely:

        “Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:45)

        That is, acts of love for the “Mystical Body of Christ” are acts of love for Christ, and therefore, God Himself. And to the contrary: “Saul, why do you persecute Me”, which means persecuting Christ Our Lord. And also:

        “as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

        [46] And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

        All of this teaches that everything we do for the love of the Holy Church we will be done to God Himself, and also, if we do not love Christ’s Body here on Earth, neither do we love Christ in Heaven. So we can Love God with all of our heart by directly loving God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but also by loving and serving the Mystical Body of Christ’ here on this Earth. And we might remember also that the same mystical body is called a ‘spotless’ bride.

        These things, and many, many more, you neglect to include in your analysis, exegesis and ‘hermeneutic’.

        Please also consider this Scripture regarding purity of soul, which you seem to claim to be impossible:

        “But you, my dearly beloved, be mindful of the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, [18] Who told you, that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodlinesses. [19] These are they, who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit. [20] But you, my beloved, building yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
        [21] Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto life everlasting. [22] And some indeed reprove, being judged: [23] But others save, pulling them out of the fire. And on others have mercy, in fear, hating also the spotted garment which is carnal. [24] Now to him who is able to preserve you without sin, and to present you spotless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, [25] To the only God our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory and magnificence, empire and power, before all ages, and now, and for all ages of ages. Amen. (Jude 1:16)

        1. “You imply that there are no ‘pure of heart’…which contradicts Christ’s statement.”

          It does not contradict, rather I think you misunderstand what makes a man pure. Take Job for example. The man is blameless, but he admits himself that he had sinned. So, what made him blameless? His faith.

          Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him” (Matt 7:11).

          He clearly considered everyone that heard him to be evil. This is what the presence of sin in our lives makes us appear towards God, though not always to ourselves. How can evil people be pure? By being washing clean in the blood of Christ.

          That’s why I reiterate my previous statement: you are putting the cart before the horse. Striving for moral excellence does not make us right before God. The Scripture says because we are right before God because of what Christ did for us, we are to account ourselves as morally excellent and live in such a fashion. See Rom 6 and Col 3.

          1. Craig Truglia says:
            August 24, 2015 at 12:11 pm

            Arrrrgh! So many false assumptions. I wish I could just pour them on the ground and set them on fire.

            First of all, is the assumption that Catholics appeal to authority and yet you are blind to the fact that you appeal to yourself as authority and expect us to follow suit.

            “You imply that there are no ‘pure of heart’…which contradicts Christ’s statement.”

            It does not contradict,

            Yes, it does.

            rather I think you misunderstand what makes a man pure.

            On the contrary, what you misunderstand is that it is God who judges whether a man is pure.

            2nd false assumption: Protestants are so accustomed to judging themselves saved that they have forgotten, if they ever realized it, that they are not the judges of men’s souls. It is God who judges.

            Take Job for example.

            Great choice.

            The man is blameless,

            In God’s eyes. God judged him blameless.

            but he admits himself that he had sinned. So, what made him blameless? His faith.

            3rd false assumption. That man can make himself anything. You say this because you think that Protestants make themselves blameless because of their faith alone. But that is false.

            God judged him blameless. Your claims of faith don’t make you blameless. You can’t wash your sins away because of your claims of great faith. That is a system of works.

            God alone washes away sins.

            Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him” (Matt 7:11).

            He clearly considered everyone that heard him to be evil.

            In comparison to God.

            4th false assumption. Total depravity of man.
            5th false assumption. Literal and private interpretation of Scripture.

            Perhaps you hadn’t noticed that Jesus is here addressing Pharisees and the multitudes before the advent of the Holy Spirit and Baptism. Therefore, these men have not been washed and regenerated by the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, He rightly calls them evil in comparison to God.

            Compare the difference with which He addresses the Apostles:
            John 13:10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

            This is what the presence of sin in our lives makes us appear towards God, though not always to ourselves.

            Jesus is speaking to men who have not been baptized. However, in saying, “though not always to ourselves”, you are highlighting the fundamental flaw in judging oneself saved by faith alone.

            How can evil people be pure? By being washing clean in the blood of Christ.

            Correct. In Baptism.

            The error here is that you contradict Protestant doctrine. Protestants contradict themselves all the time. They seem blind to this self contradicting nature of their teachings. When asked if Baptism is efficacious, they deny it. They claim that, in justification, they remain sinful yet are covered over by the righteousness of Christ.

            Therefore, why do they claim to be washed clean? As Martin Luther put it, they are “snow covered dung heaps“.

            That’s why I reiterate my previous statement: you are putting the cart before the horse.

            On the contrary, you are simply interpreting Scripture privately without any consideration to context and applying to it all your false, Protestant, presuppositions.

            Striving for moral excellence does not make us right before God.

            It doesn’t guarantee that we will be right before God, but refusing to strive for moral excellence guarantees that we will never be right before God.

            As St. Peter says:
            2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
            10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

            The Scripture says because we are right before God because of what Christ did for us, we are to account ourselves as morally excellent and live in such a fashion. See Rom 6 and Col 3.

            Point it out so that we can clear up your error. Otherwise, understand that God does not justify unrepentant adulterers and fornicators. The Scripture makes it clear:
            1 Corinthians 6:8-10King James Version (KJV)

            8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

            9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

            10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

            As the Scripture says:
            Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

          2. “Yes, it does.”

            No, it doesn’t and you didn’t show it to be the case.

            “On the contrary, what you misunderstand is that it is God who judges whether a man is pure.”

            No, you misunderstand, and you again fail to offer a rationale for your point.

            “In God’s eyes. God judged him blameless.”

            God sure did judge Job that way.

            “3rd false assumption. That man can make himself anything. You say this because you think that Protestants make themselves blameless because of their faith alone. But that is false.”

            Job admits that he has committed sin in the past: “You…make me to inherit the iniquities of my youth” (Job 13:26)

            Job put on Christ’s righteousness: “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban” (Job 29:14).

            Of course, Catholics like you teach that we have to do something righteous to be righteous. Yet, this puts you in contradiction with historic teachers of the Catholic faith. Marius Victorinus, the first writer of a commentary on Galatians, wrote; “As it was accounted to Abraham as justice, then, because he had faith, therefore, if we have faith in Christ and his whole Mystery, we too will be children of Abraham. This means that our whole life will be accounted to us as justice” (Gal 3:7).

            Concerning Gal 3:9 he writes:

            “He [Paul] aims to prevent the Galatians from…believing that as long as they retained faith in Christ, something further could still be advantageous for them, if they would perform something based on works as well. To the contrary, the apostle denies that any blessing comes about on the basis of works…”

            His warning to you, De Maria, is as follows:

            “For faith liberates, and anyone, as we have said, who hopes for help in any way besides Christ, even if it be along with Christ, does not have faith” (Gal 5:9).

            You do not teach the historic Catholic faith, because you would consider things like the above heresy. You believe in innovations, whether you admit it or not.

            “Perhaps you hadn’t noticed that Jesus is here addressing Pharisees and the multitudes before the advent of the Holy Spirit and Baptism.”

            You forgot that his disciples were part of the crowd…

            “On the contrary, you are simply interpreting Scripture privately without any consideration to context…”

            Actually I think I am the only one here who considered context, when I offered a rationale for Rom 8 based upon the whole letter, another writer here admitted it was a good exegesis.

            God bless,

            Craig

          3. Craig Truglia says:
            August 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm

            No, it doesn’t and you didn’t show it to be the case.

            I’m pretty sure I did, your objections not withstanding.

            No, you misunderstand, and you again fail to offer a rationale for your point.

            I thought I gave a very detailed rationale. I said that God judges the purity of a man’s heart. That is the rationale. You can’t make yourself blameless.

            God sure did judge Job that way.

            Blameless or wicked?

            What does this say?
            8 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

            Job admits that he has committed sin in the past: “You…make me to inherit the iniquities of my youth” (Job 13:26)

            The fact that a man commits sin IN THE PAST does not mean that he can’t be righteous in God’s eyes, IN THE PRESENT.

            Job put on Christ’s righteousness: “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban” (Job 29:14).

            That doesn’t say that he put on Christ’s righteousness. You are reading that into the text.

            If you had read that verse in context, you would know that this is a stream of thought 3 chapters long. The righteousness which he speaks of is the righteousness which he chose to perform, by his works. By avoiding evil and seeking to do good:

            The stream of thought begins in chapter 26:
            Job 26:1 But Job answered and said,….

            In Chapter 27, he says:
            Job 27:1 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,…. 2 As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;3 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; 4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.
            5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. 6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. 7 Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.

            That is the righteousness of which he speaks, which clothed him in his youth and the reason for which he thought God had rewarded him with wealth and honors. Read the rest of the Chapter and see.

            In Chapter 28, he goes on to say:
            28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

            To depart from evil, this is the righteousness which he has put on.

            Of course, Catholics like you teach that we have to do something righteous to be righteous.

            That is the teaching of Christ.
            Matthew 5:446 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

            Yet, this puts you in contradiction with historic teachers of the Catholic faith. Marius Victorinus, the first writer of a commentary on Galatians, wrote; “As it was accounted to Abraham as justice, then, because he had faith, therefore, if we have faith in Christ and his whole Mystery, we too will be children of Abraham. This means that our whole life will be accounted to us as justice” (Gal 3:7).

            He’s a Catholic. If you read that in context of his Catholicism, you would understand, “and his whole Mystery” to be a reference to the Sacraments, especially to that of the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our faith.

            Concerning Gal 3:9 he writes:

            “He [Paul] aims to prevent the Galatians from…believing that as long as they retained faith in Christ, something further could still be advantageous for them, if they would perform something based on works as well. To the contrary, the apostle denies that any blessing comes about on the basis of works…”

            Again, you are reading a single sentence and drowning it in Protestant presuppositions. The man is saying that the Apostle denies that any blessing comes on the basis of works of the law. Which is a reference to circumcision and the sacrifice of bulls and goats.

            His warning to you, De Maria, is as follows:

            “For faith liberates, and anyone, as we have said, who hopes for help in any way besides Christ, even if it be along with Christ, does not have faith” (Gal 5:9).

            THAT is a sacramental saying. It is you to whom this warning is addressed. You claim you have saved yourself by your faith alone. Thus, you are placing your judgment along with Christ’s. And since you do so, you prove that your faith in in yourself and not in Christ.

            You do not teach the historic Catholic faith, because you would consider things like the above heresy. You believe in innovations, whether you admit it or not.

            On the contrary, it is you preaching innovations by reading into everything, your heretical presuppositions.

            You forgot that his disciples were part of the crowd…

            But in this instance, He was not addressing them.

            Actually I think I am the only one here who considered context, when I offered a rationale for Rom 8 based upon the whole letter, another writer here admitted it was a good exegesis.

            I go by the Teachings of Jesus Christ as passed down by the Catholic Church. I could care less what anyone else thinks of your exegesis. So far as anything I’ve seen, all your exegesis and commentary is against the plain Teaching of Scripture and against the Teaching of the Catholic Church.

            God bless,

            Craig

            God bless you, as well.

          4. Having read Victorinus’ commentary, I believe I have read him in the correct context. I mean, he literally wrote, “For faith itself ALONE grants justification and sanctification.” That directly contradicts what you are writing. He goes on page after page saying the same thing. If you are seriously interest, I can send you quotes or better yet, read up on it for free! Right here: http://ixoyc.net/data/Fathers/612.pdf

            Concerning Job, I am ironically not writing more detail on the topic because I have a lot of research on that book to do (I’m teaching on it.) I have already completed a commentary on the book (which may be no good, but I have read the “context” and gave it as serious of consideration that God has given me the ability to handle), and I stick by what I said. Job’s righteousness is based upon his faith, and not works, and when the book is read as a whole this eminently makes more sense. Again, to go about proving this is far too long of a conversation for here. However, the fact that Job could be blameless but he had done things in the past that deserved blame, and said things that required Elihu and more importantly God to rebuke him show that it is not Job’s moral excellence that avails him, but that He placed his trust in his redeemer and said in his distress “Though you slay me now I will place my trust in you” (Job 13:15).

            Sometimes I wish I can speak on the phone with you…it would certainly make our conversations easier.

            God bless,
            Craig

          5. Craig Truglia says:
            August 28, 2015 at 12:55 am
            Having read Victorinus’ commentary, I believe I have read him in the correct context.

            I don’t.

            I mean, he literally wrote, “For faith itself ALONE grants justification and sanctification.”

            Sure. But he didn’t mean it the way that you or Luther do.

            That directly contradicts what you are writing.

            We’ll see.

            He goes on page after page saying the same thing.

            He sounds very Catholic to me. I see no Protestant leanings, at all.

            If you are seriously interest, I can send you quotes or better yet, read up on it for free! Right here: http://ixoyc.net/data/Fathers/612.pdf

            Interesting reading, though.

            You’ve missed several clues which tell me that St. Victorinus did not pass on Protestant doctrines in his exegesis.

            First, pg. 202, he speaks of spes salutis. Hope of salvation. Not a Protestant doctrine of faith alone.

            On page 207, regarding the rebuke of St. Peter, the interpreters seem to acknowledge that St. Victorinus considers St. Peter, “primus apostolorum”. The No. 1 Apostle, to whom Jesus had given the keys.

            page 212, he recognizes that St. Paul speaks against the law of fleshly works, circumcision and other observances.

            pg 217, Victorinus admits that the Church is a heavenly Jerusalem.

            pg 220, on Gal 3:27-8, he reiterates that having been baptized, we are no longer of the world. Thus, he believes in salvific baptism. Ergo, not by faith alone.

            So, although you and all the Protestants are very anxious to turn St. Victorinus into a proto-Protestant, I don’t think so.

            Concerning Job, …. I stick by what I said. ….

            Why am I not surprised?

            Sometimes I wish I can speak on the phone with you…it would certainly make our conversations easier.

            Been there, done that, don’t do it no more. Its hard enough to do it when you can sit back and investigate things before putting pen to paper. Matters get much more difficult when people expect immediate feedback.

            God bless,
            Craig

            You too.

          6. Craig I addressed your theory on how the early church taught faith alone on your blog, but wanted to comment here also to get additional feedback. My theology sucks but I enjoy history.

            You keep quoting all these fathers who talk about faith alone and how it was accepted by the early church and now it’s considered heretical by Catholics today.

            Has it occurred to you that maybe Luther’s definition of faith alone is not the same as the early church fathers? Much like a Protetant’s definition of Christian is different than a Mormons. A Mormon will read the word Christian in the bible and early CF and think it applies to them when in fact it does not.

            From your point of view when did the RCC changed their doctrine from faith alone? When did the Coptics and EO change theirs? Why would the Coptics and EO follow Rome, commit heresy and risk damnation?

            You do realize that to this day they along with the RCC do not condemn but rather affirm the early fathers view of faith alone and none of the affirm Luther’s/Calvin’s view of faith alone?

          7. CK,

            It looks like you have read Victorinus and are a little surprised that he does not sound like what you hear these days from Catholic apologists. Good! I hope it gets you thinking.

            “Has it ever occurred to you that what the early church fathers meant by faith alone is not the same as what Luther meant?”

            Yes, it is something I investigated. I also wonder why modern Catholics hate the term so much while the ancient church didn’t seem bothered by it.

            “I don’t think there’s is a single Early Christian church that accepts what Luther claims as faith alone. This is not just a Roman or Orthodox view.”

            It’s more complicated than that in my conversations with Eastern Orthodox and Oritenal Orthodox, but for the sake of conversation let me concede that point as it is generally true.

            “Why Do you think that the Orthodox or Coptics changed their doctrines from faith alone as defined by Luther to the RCC position (this is you claim right?)”

            That’s a very good question, one that I have investigated. It is very hard to pick out a time and a date where a gradual change in theology became categorically against faith alone.

            60AD “you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works” (St. Paul, Eph 2:8-9).

            75AD “And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through faith” (St. Clement, 1 Clem 33).

            375AD “For Abraham also, when he had stretched forth his affections towards God and set before Him his fixed resolution,what else had he need of? Nothing: but “he believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” ( Gen. xv. 6.) But Faith [comes] of a sincere will. He offered up his son, and though he did not slay him, he received a recompense as if he had slain him, and though the work was not done the reward was given” (S. Chrysostom, Homily 34 on Hebrews).

            The Church appears consistent on the matter for hundreds of years. What cannot be found is someone writing that we need works.

            However, your question is how can everyone in a large geographic area hold a different position (Faith+Works), if they didn’t really mean it all along in contradiction to the written historical record (like the above)? As a student of history, it is not difficult to find monumental shifts of belief in wide ranging areas over short periods of time, with people not thinking they have changed anything.

            I’m just going to use one example, and I don’t care what you are politically because that’s not the point. We live in the US where we have a Constitution. Almost no one believes that we can just simply ignore the Constitution, and in fact, the Constitution is what is interpreted at the Supreme Court in addition to jurisprudence, which is in short historical constitutional interpretations.

            Now, let’s take the 4th Amendment. The 4th Amendment says, amongst other things, that an American cannot be searched ON HIS PERSON without a warrant. We have the writings of men during the 1700s that show that when they wrote this, they meant it literally as the issue at the time was that the British wanted to search people for contraband which lacked stamps and such which showed taxes were paid to the crown.

            Now, the United States, like the early Church, grew in geography and numbers in 240 years much larger than the ancient Church did. Somewhere along the line, it has become accepted practice for deputies of the government (i.e. police) to stop and frisk people without warrants. Whatever its merits, it is so commonplace, there is nearly no debate over it. The Supreme Court already ruled on it 50 years ago or so that it is Constitutional to stop and frisk.

            So, when a modern “Libertarian” says that he is against the practice on “Constitutional grounds” claiming that there is no legitimate legal authority to do so, his detractors respond that it IS Constitutional and the Supreme Court has accurately interpreted that this is so.
            The ironic thing in all of this, if any of us are intellectually honest, is that the common practice is clearly in opposition to what the framers of the Constitution would have wanted. No serious historian would debate otherwise.

            My point in bringing this all up is that can I tell you the date and the time where stopping and frisking became par for the course, nationwide? No. Can I tell you when the original ideas of the framers were abandoned, and exactly why they were abandoned? Well, I have my theories, but it is hard to pinpoint gradual shifts in ideas.
            It is much easier to point out, “Look, in the 1700s this is what they clearly believed!” then to say “Everyone changed their mind on this on this date, and this is why…”

            So, ultimately you are trying to shift the burden of poof back on me because of quite frankly, you cannot make sense of what Victorinus, Chrysostom, or Clement said. Nowhere do you see me denying sacraments or works. I am merely reiterating the clear meaning of the statements these men have made. As to why, Catholicism and other religions change, I don’t mind speculating, but I do not think that this conversation actually warrants the speculation. First, I think you would have to show how you actually APPLY what Victorinus taught in your daily life. Show me how what he wrote makes sense to you, and how you do it, and how it is consistent with Victorinus. If you find yourself by necessity disagreeing with him, either he’s the heretic or you have something seriously wrong.

            God bless,
            Craig

          8. Craig Truglia says:
            August 28, 2015 at 1:28 pm
            CK,

            It looks like you have read Victorinus and are a little surprised that he does not sound like what you hear these days from Catholic apologists.

            On the contrary, we’re surprised that you and the rest of Protestandom feels no shame or conscience at twisting the words of a man who is a Bishop of the Church and Saint. A man who obviously believes in all tenets of the Catholic Faith.

            Good! I hope it gets you thinking.

            Yeah, it gets me thinking that your sole intent in continually inviting us over to your website is proselytizing.

            Yes, it is something I investigated.

            I seriously doubt that, since I have told you from the earliest threads that you came to this board, that you take the words of the early Church Fathers and twist them to give them Protestant meaning. Beginning with St. Augustine which was the first ECF I remember you mentioning.

            I also wonder why modern Catholics hate the term so much while the ancient church didn’t seem bothered by it.

            Because Protestants twisted it to their own destruction and we don’t want to see anymore people sent to their spiritual doom because of it.

            It’s more complicated than that in my conversations with Eastern Orthodox and Oritenal Orthodox, but for the sake of conversation let me concede that point as it is generally true.

            It is absolutely true. The only “Orthodox” who would accept that are the fake Orthodox to which you linked in a prior thread.

            That’s a very good question, one that I have investigated. It is very hard to pick out a time and a date where a gradual change in theology became categorically against faith alone.

            There was never such a change. Faith alone is a theology introduced by Protestants.

            60AD “you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works” (St. Paul, Eph 2:8-9).

            That, doesn’t say faith alone. It is the Catholic Teaching that we are saved in the Sacraments, the works of God:

            Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

            Believeth = faith, baptized = work of God, shall be saved = receive everlasting life.

            75AD “And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through faith” (St. Clement, 1 Clem 33).

            Again, a beautifully Sacramental Teaching.
            Titus 3:5King James Version (KJV)

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

            Not by works of righteousness = through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart,

            375AD “For Abraham also, when he had stretched forth his affections towards God and set before Him his fixed resolution,what else had he need of? Nothing: but “he believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” ( Gen. xv. 6.) But Faith [comes] of a sincere will. He offered up his son, and though he did not slay him, he received a recompense as if he had slain him, and though the work was not done the reward was given” (S. Chrysostom, Homily 34 on Hebrews).

            That’s a beautiful depiction of Catholics before the Sacraments and as sons of Abraham, approach the Fountain of Grace and stretching forth our affections towards God, offer up our bodies as living sacrifices, that we may die with Him, having faith that we will also be raised with Him.

            The Church appears consistent on the matter for hundreds of years. What cannot be found is someone writing that we need works.

            That’s not true. Just because you deny it and reject it, doesn’t mean it isn’t taught. First of all, it is throughout Scripture:
            Romans 2:7-13

            7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

            Galatians 6:6-8King James Version (KJV)

            6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

            7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

            James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

            There’s tons more.

            However, your question is how can everyone in a large geographic area hold a different position (Faith+Works), ….

            That just shows your lack of faith and that of all Protestants. We believe Jesus and we believe Scripture.

            Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

            1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

            There was never a shift in the Church’s Teachings. You are reading into the writings of the Early Church, and I include the Bible in that set, your presuppositions. It is that which you worship. The man made traditions of the Protestants. And it is that which you wish to instill in everyone you meet.

            God bless,
            Craig

            You too.

          9. Craig – It looks like you have read Victorinus and are a little surprised that he does not sound like what you hear these days from Catholic apologists. Good! I hope it gets you thinking.

            Me – I’m not surprised at all. What I’ve read sounds very Catholic. Just like all other Church Fathers that use the words faith alone. I’m just surprised by what you think he’s saying.

            Craig- “Has it ever occurred to you that what the early church fathers meant by faith alone is not the same as what Luther meant?”

            Yes, it is something I investigated. I also wonder why modern Catholics hate the term so much while the ancient church didn’t seem bothered by it.

            CK – you should know this. The church didn’t like the how Luther was using it because they felt it was heresy. You still can’t point to Scripture that says we are saved by faith “alone”.

            The Church teaches that you are saved by Grace alone not Faith Alone. Using your reasoning would you say that the CF don’t believe one needs God’s Grace when they talk about faith alone?

            Craig – “I don’t think there’s is a single Early Christian church that accepts what Luther claims as faith alone. This is not just a Roman or Orthodox view.”

            It’s more complicated than that in my conversations with Eastern Orthodox and Oritenal Orthodox, but for the sake of conversation let me concede that point as it is generally true.

            “Why Do you think that the Orthodox or Coptics changed their doctrines from faith alone as defined by Luther to the RCC position (this is you claim right?)”

            That’s a very good question, one that I have investigated. It is very hard to pick out a time and a date where a gradual change in theology became categorically against faith alone.

            Me – that’s because their doctrine never changed.
            How about an official announcement? These churches are very structured. When did protestants move away from Grace alone?

            Craig – 60AD “you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works” (St. Paul, Eph 2:8-9).

            Me – This says nothing about faith alone, just read a couple of preceding verses and a couple afterwards. Eph 2:1-10

            1 And you were dead, through the crimes and the sins
            2 which used to make up your way of life when you were living by the principles of this world, obeying the ruler who dominates the air, the spirit who is at work in those who rebel.
            3 We too were all among them once, living only by our natural inclinations, obeying the demands of human self-indulgence and our own whim; our nature made us no less liable to God’s retribution than the rest of the world.
            5 even when we were dead in our sins, brought us to life with Christ — it is through grace that you have been saved-
            6 and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.
            7 This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how extraordinarily rich he is in grace.
            8 Because it is by GRACE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED, THROUGH FAITH; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God;
            9 not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit.
            10 We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.

            St. Paul is talking about initial justification (Catholic teaching) and even if you don’t agree with that, it’s obvious he’s not saying we are saved by faith alone.

            Craig – 75AD “And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through faith” (St. Clement, 1 Clem 33).

            Me – again that is Catholic teaching. This says nothing about faith alone.

            Now let’s put this quote in context. I’ll do a cut and paste from matt1618 as he has addressed the very same verse from St Clement. I apologize for the length, but sometimes that’s what it takes to put out of context verses into context.

            BY matt1618

            What does Pope Clement mean by faith? How about all of his statement in context? POPE Clement of Rome, The First Epistle of Clement, Chapters 30-34, found in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace ed., ed. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, Anti-Nicene Fathers (Hereafter initialed as ANF), Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1994, Vol. 1, pp. 13-14:

            CHAP. XXX.–LET US DO THOSE THINGS THAT PLEASE GOD, AND FLEE FROM THOSE HE HATES, THAT WE MAY BE BLESSED.

            Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change,(3) all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. “For God,” saith [the Scripture], “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”(4) Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. LET US CLOTHE OURSELVES WITH CONCORD AND HUMILITY, EVER EXERCISING SELF-CONTROL, STANDING FAR OFF FROM ALL WHISPERING AND EVIL-SPEAKING, BEING JUSTIFIED BY OUR WORKS, AND NOT OUR WORDS. For [the Scripture] saith, “He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous? Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking.”(5) Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him.

            CHAP. XXXI.–LET US SEE BY WHAT MEANS WE MAY OBTAIN THE DIVINE BLESSING.

            Let us cleave then to His blessing, and consider what are the means(6) of possessing it. Let us think(7) over the things which have taken place from the beginning. For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? was it not BECAUSE HE WROUGHT RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUTH THROUGH FAITH?(8) Isaac, with perfect confidence, as if knowing what was to happen,(9) cheerfully yielded himself as a sacrifice.(10) Jacob, through reason(11) of his brother, went forth with humility from his own land, and came to Laban and served him; and there was given to him the sceptre of the twelve tribes of Israel.

            CHAP. XXXII

            Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him.(12) For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men. Amen

            CHAP. XXXIII.–BUT LET US NOT OWE UP THE PRACTICE OF GOOD WORKS AND LOVE. GOD HIMSELF IS AN EXAMPLE TO US OF GOOD WORKS.

            What shall we do, then, brethren? Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice of love? God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! But rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work. For the Creator and Lord of all Himself rejoices in His works. For by His infinitely great power He established the heavens, and by His incomprehensible wisdom He adorned them. He also divided the earth from the water which surrounds it, and fixed it upon the immovable foundation of His own will. The animals also which are upon it He commanded by His own word(16) into existence. So likewise, when He had formed the sea, and the living creatures which are in it, He enclosed them [within their proper bounds] by His own power. Above all,(17) with His holy and undefiled hands He formed man, the most excellent [of His creatures], and truly great through the understanding given him–the express likeness of His own image. For thus says God: “Let us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness. So God made man; male and female He created them.”[1] Having thus finished all these things, He approved them, and blessed them, and said, “Increase and multiply.”(2) We see,(3) then, HOW ALL RIGHTEOUS MEN HAVE BEEN DORNED WITH GOOD WORKS, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and LET US WORK THE WORK OF RIGHTEOUSNESS with our whole strength.

            CHAP. XXXIV.–GREAT IS THE REWARD OF GOOD WORKS WITH GOD. JOINED TOGETHER IN HARMONY, LET US IMPLORE THAT REWARD FROM HIM.

            The good servant(4) receives the bread of his labour with confidence; the lazy and slothful cannot look his employer in the face. It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of well-doing; for of Him are all things. And thus He forewarns us: “Behold, the Lord [cometh], and His reward is before His face, TO RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS WORK.”(5) He exhorts us, therefore, with our whole heart to attend to this,(6) that we be not lazy or slothful in any good work. Let our boasting and our confidence be in Him. Let us submit ourselves to His will.

            Preceding this section, Clement also wrote of Rahab’s justification:

            Chapter 12.-The Rewards of Faith and Hospitality. Rahab.

            On account of her faith AND hospitality, Rahab the harlot was saved.

            Chapter 48 says:

            Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end to this [state of things]; and let us fall down before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully be reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice of brotherly love. For [such conduct] is the gate of righteousness, which is set open for the attainment of life, as it is written, “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go in by them, and will praise the Lord: this is the gate of the Lord: the righteous shall enter in by it.” Although, therefore, many gates have been set open, yet this gate of righteousness is that gate in Christ by which blessed are all they that have entered in and have directed their way in holiness and righteousness, doing all things without disorder.

            Chapter 50 says:

            Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us.

            Conclusion (this is also matt’s) – So we see that Clement’s quote (the one quote that I could find) that you took was totally out of context. When he made the quote that you noted, we see that surrounding it before and after was the necessity of works done in God’s grace for salvation. He was in the quote contrasting a self-righteous holiness to the holiness that must be done in God’s grace. The one that did not justify, is when one tries to justify himself, relies on his own wisdom, holiness, etc. One indeed who works on one’s own power is condemned by Trent, canon 1, justification. That is what Clement was condemning, and saying that does not avail before God. He specifically speaks of justification by works in Chapter 30. Notice though that those works are done in grace, as he specifically says in that same chapter. In Chapter 31 he says Abraham was blessed (and the context is speaking of justification), because of the act of offering Isaac on the altar. In chapter 34, Clement says that in justification it is requisite to our actions to be well-doing. He gives us two choices. To be a faithful servant, we labor (in grace of course) and we get the reward of heaven. However, if we are a slothful servant, and don’t labor for God, we are sent to hell. Clement is obviously referring to Mt. 24:45-51. The slothful servant gets what? weeping and gnashing of teeth. That is hell. Why, because he didn’t work. Then Clement says, he forewarns us he renders accoring to our works (Rom. 2:6, Mt. 16:27). If faith alone, he wouldn’t forewarn us (because our justification would be absolutely assured), and we would not fear damnation. In Chapter 48 he speaks of those can attain salvation only those who direct their ways in holiness. Thus, that direction in holiness is a cause of justification. In Chapter 50 he notes that we must keep the commandments and that love (not faith alone) forgives sins. Clement notes that works are what must be judged before God to achieve salvation, and not even a hint of forensic justification, or Sola Fide.

            Craig – 375AD “For Abraham also, when he had stretched forth his affections towards God and set before Him his fixed resolution,what else had he need of? Nothing: but “he believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” ( Gen. xv. 6.) But Faith [comes] of a sincere will. He offered up his son, and though he did not slay him, he received a recompense as if he had slain him, and though the work was not done the reward was given” (S. Chrysostom, Homily 34 on Hebrews).

            The Church appears consistent on the matter for hundreds of years. What cannot be found is someone writing that we need works.

            Me – See St. Clement in context above.

            Craig – However, your question is how can everyone in a large geographic area hold a different position (Faith+Works), if they didn’t really mean it all along in contradiction to the written historical record (like the above)? As a student of history, it is not difficult to find monumental shifts of belief in wide ranging areas over short periods of time, with people not thinking they have changed anything.

            I’m just going to use one example, and I don’t care what you are politically because that’s not the point. We live in the US where we have a Constitution. Almost no one believes that we can just simply ignore the Constitution, and in fact, the Constitution is what is interpreted at the Supreme Court in addition to jurisprudence, which is in short historical constitutional interpretations.

            Now, let’s take the 4th Amendment. The 4th Amendment says, amongst other things, that an American cannot be searched ON HIS PERSON without a warrant. We have the writings of men during the 1700s that show that when they wrote this, they meant it literally as the issue at the time was that the British wanted to search people for contraband which lacked stamps and such which showed taxes were paid to the crown.

            Now, the United States, like the early Church, grew in geography and numbers in 240 years much larger than the ancient Church did. Somewhere along the line, it has become accepted practice for deputies of the government (i.e. police) to stop and frisk people without warrants. Whatever its merits, it is so commonplace, there is nearly no debate over it. The Supreme Court already ruled on it 50 years ago or so that it is Constitutional to stop and frisk.

            Me – The SC ruled on it. There was a debate addressing the legality. So the development can be traced. And there were dissenters along the way who made their voices heard. There is at least a trail.

            Craig – My point in bringing this all up is that can I tell you the date and the time where stopping and frisking became par for the course, nationwide? No. Can I tell you when the original ideas of the framers were abandoned, and exactly why they were abandoned? Well, I have my theories, but it is hard to pinpoint gradual shifts in ideas.

            It is much easier to point out, “Look, in the 1700s this is what they clearly believed!” then to say “Everyone changed their mind on this on this date, and this is why…”

            Me – I’m not asking for a date or time. I’m asking for a discussion, theological debate, anything before Luther discussing this change in doctrine that led all Christian Churches before Luther to became heretical. You can’t find it because the ECF never taught faith alone as defined by Luther. This is a matter of salvation and you would have me believe that no Christian noticed a change in DOCTRINE.

            Craig – So, ultimately you are trying to shift the burden of poof back on me because of quite frankly, you cannot make sense of what Victorinus, Chrysostom, or Clement said.

            Me – they make sense within Catholic teaching. As a matter of fact their beliefs as a whole only make sense within Catholic teaching. Forcing Luther’s definition of faith alone makes the ECF and Apostles contradict themselves. Using Luther’s definition please explain how St. Clement can believe that we are “being justified by our works, and not our words.”

            Craig – Nowhere do you see me denying sacraments or works. I am merely reiterating the clear meaning of the statements these men have made.

            Me – Yes, they also leave out God’s Grace, so maybe their statements aren’t that clear if you take the words literally without looking at their body of work.

            Craig – As to why, Catholicism and other religions change, I don’t mind speculating, but I do not think that this conversation actually warrants the speculation.

            Me – actually it does, since you claim Catholicism changed their doctrine.

            Craig – First, I think you would have to show how you actually APPLY what Victorinus taught in your daily life. Show me how what he wrote makes sense to you, and how you do it, and how it is consistent with Victorinus. If you find yourself by necessity disagreeing with him, either he’s the heretic or you have something seriously wrong.

            Me – Really? He’s the new favorite? I don’t have a problem with what he’s saying. I have a problem with what “you” say he’s saying.

            God bless,
            Craig

            CK – God bless

          10. CK,
            The length of your, and De Maria’s, commentaries are both justified and very well worth the time to read them.

            Thanks!

          11. De Maria:

            “First, pg. 202, he speaks of spes salutis. Hope of salvation. Not a Protestant doctrine of faith alone.”

            First, you’re reading the introduction. Second, the introduction says “the ‘hope of salvation’ is characteristic even of heretical or false religions.”

            “On page 207, regarding the rebuke of St. Peter, the interpreters seem to acknowledge that St. Victorinus considers St. Peter, “primus apostolorum”. The No. 1 Apostle, to whom Jesus had given the keys.”

            Again, you’re reading the introduction, this is not necessarily the conclusion of Victorinus who said on pg 277 (where the commentary is actually located): “I did not keep quiet about Peter’s sin, he says. In this, Paul shows his freedom and boldness concerning his gospel—if indeed he reprimanded something being done in a contrary fashion by Peter.”

            “page 212, he recognizes that St. Paul speaks against the law of fleshly works, circumcision and other observances.”

            Protestant affirm that…he also speaks against the utility of good works saving in general. Again, you are reading the introduction and not the commentary.

            “pg 217, Victorinus admits that the Church is a heavenly Jerusalem.”

            Protestants believe that too…and you are citing the introduction again…

            “pg 220, on Gal 3:27-8, he reiterates that having been baptized, we are no longer of the world. Thus, he believes in salvific baptism. Ergo, not by faith alone.”

            Again, Lutherans and Anglicans believe that too, and they affirm faith alone. I do not think you understand what faith alone even is. I think you think it is because can say they believe something and then do whatever they want. No, that is NOT faith alone and the fact you have to use that strawman as a crutch shows your counterarguments just are not that compelling or intellectually defensible.

            I think you should carefully read Victorinus’ actual commentary.

          12. De Maria:

            “That, doesn’t say faith alone.”

            It says by faith, not works. So it by definition includes faith, excludes works, and does not add anything else to that definition including sacraments.

            “Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

            Again, Catholicism teachs baptism by desire so this is a non-issue. Take special note that the damned are only those who believe not, for there are unbaptized (with water) that are saved, but no one without faith that is.

            “Again, a beautifully Sacramental Teaching.”

            Aren’t sacraments works wrought out of holiness of heart? Didn’t Clement just exclude those?

            “Not by works of righteousness = through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart,”

            Yeah…exactly…now about those Sacraments again?

            “That’s a beautiful depiction of Catholics before the Sacraments…”

            So, apparently God used to save people in different ways? I thought “For by it [faith] the men of old gained approval” (Heb 11:2).

            “That’s not true. Just because you deny it and reject it, doesn’t mean it isn’t taught. ”

            I can find sola fide in the Scripture and in the ECF. You cannot find the ECF teaching we are saved by works, or by sacraments…not even baptism as those same ECFs taught baptism by desire/blood. So, you don’t have any legs to stand on.

            “Romans 2:7-13”

            Judgement by works does not mean you are saved by works, we are all judged by works. However, those of us in Christ have a perfect record of works before God. To quote Victorinus:

            “As it was accounted to Abraham as justice, then, because he had faith, therefore, if we have faith in Christ and his whole Mystery, we too will be children of Abraham. This means that our whole life will be accounted to us as justice” (Gal 3:7).

            If you, De Maria, trust in anything in addition to Christ, then you don’t have faith, you will stand by your own works instead of having your whole life accounted as justice, and you will be damned. The stakes are high.

            “James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

            I already responded to Joe about this in length, the key is in the examples of Abraham and Rahab. Read Heb 11, both things James cites are spoken of by Paul.

            To quote Clement:

            For He himself declares, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father.” This, then, is our reward if we shall confess Him by whom we have been saved…Let us, then, not only call Him Lord, for that will not save us. For He saith, “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he that worketh righteousness.” Wherefore, brethren, LET US CONFESS HIM BY OUR WORKS, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, or speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but by being continent, compassionate, and good (Chapters 3, 4).

            Our works are examples of our faith, not a mutually exclusive moral requirement on a man. The sacraments are signs of grace that we partake in, because we are faithful. They are not legal requirements to be saved.

            “That just shows your lack of faith and that of all Protestants. We believe Jesus and we believe Scripture.”

            You do not seem to know the difference between an introduction to a book and an actual commentary, so I am not sure if I trust your reading without some sort of logical demonstration of your points.

            God bless,

            Craig

          13. Craig Truglia says:
            August 28, 2015 at 11:30 pm
            De Maria:

            “First, pg. 202, he speaks of spes salutis. Hope of salvation. Not a Protestant doctrine of faith alone.”

            First, you’re reading the introduction.

            The editors attributed that statement to St. Victorinus.

            Second, the introduction says “the ‘hope of salvation’ is characteristic even of heretical or false religions.”

            That is besides the point. It is a characteristic of Christ’s Church:
            1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

            Even heretics and false religions can get some things right.

            Again, you’re reading the introduction,

            Does the introduction contradict everything else in the book?

            this is not necessarily the conclusion of Victorinus who said on pg 277 (where the commentary is actually located): “I did not keep quiet about Peter’s sin, he says. In this, Paul shows his freedom and boldness concerning his gospel—if indeed he reprimanded something being done in a contrary fashion by Peter.”

            That proves nothing but that St. Victorinus was unsure why St. Paul would reprimand St. Peter.

            Protestant affirm that…he also speaks against the utility of good works saving in general. Again, you are reading the introduction and not the commentary.

            On the contrary, Protestants claim he is disavowing all works, not just the works of the law.

            Protestants believe that too…and you are citing the introduction again…

            Then Protestants must be converting to Catholicism. Since all of a sudden they are affirming all kinds of Catholic Doctrines.

            Again, Lutherans and Anglicans believe that too,

            That is besides the point. It is a Catholic Doctrine which St. Victorinus is affirming and you are trying to turn even Catholic Doctrines into Protestant teaching.

            and they affirm faith alone.

            I doubt that the Anglicans do, but then, they are so confused, who knows?

            I do not think you understand what faith alone even is.

            I know that the ECF’s who used the term did not mean what Martin Luther or any of the Protestants mean by the same words.

            I think you think it is because can say they believe something and then do whatever they want. No, that is NOT faith alone and the fact you have to use that strawman as a crutch shows your counterarguments just are not that compelling or intellectually defensible.

            I haven’t said anything. You have put those words in my mouth. I am telling you that St. Victorinus did not use that phrase in the way that you or the Protestants do so.

            I think you should carefully read Victorinus’ actual commentary.

            Do you think that the introduction contradicts the rest of the book? Do you think the editors and translators are somehow tampering with that which they claim that St. Victorinus has said?

            I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your distrust of the introduction. I personally like the way they are comparing Sts. Augustine, Jerome, Ambrosiaster and Victorinus’ statements to various parts of Scripture.

            What’s the problem? Are their findings too Catholic for you?

          14. Craig Truglia says:
            August 28, 2015 at 11:44 pm

            It says by faith, not works.

            But it doesn’t say faith alone. This says by works and not by faith alone:

            James 2:24Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

            Do you have something against the Word of God?

            So it by definition includes faith, excludes works,

            On the contrary, by defnition, it includes faith and does not mention works because the assumption is that anyone who believes in God will do the works which God commands.

            and does not add anything else to that definition including sacraments.

            It doesn’t reject them either. And other parts of Scripture are explicit of their necessity. As the following:

            Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

            Again, Catholicism teachs baptism by desire so this is a non-issue.

            On the contrary, Baptism by desire is the exception. If you have the opportunity to be Baptized Sacramentally and refuse, you have rejected the salvation of Jesus Christ.

            Take special note that the damned are only those who believe not, for there are unbaptized (with water) that are saved, but no one without faith that is.

            Lol! That doesn’t help you one lick. But you don’t understand. I’ll explain it here for the benefit of the reader.

            Both faith and the lack of faith are demonstrated by works. It doesn’t matter what someone says, whether they claim to have faith or not. It is clearly explained in Scripture:

            Matthew 21:28-31King James Version (KJV)

            28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

            And again:
            John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

            And again:
            1 Corinthians 6:8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
            9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

            Aren’t sacraments works wrought out of holiness of heart? Didn’t Clement just exclude those?

            That would describe faith. Sacraments are God’s works.

            Yeah…exactly…now about those Sacraments again?

            Do you not recognize the Sacrament of washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit? We call that Baptism.

            So, apparently God used to save people in different ways?

            Lol! Before the Sacraments means “standing in front of”.

            I thought “For by it [faith] the men of old gained approval” (Heb 11:2).

            Don’t just read one verse. Read the entire thing. Look at what they wrought, by faith. And look at what they received. Please, tell me what they received, by faith. Its there, if you read with understanding.

            I can find sola fide in the Scripture

            I can too. Here it is:
            James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

            And again:
            James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

            Do you see any others?

            and in the ECF. You cannot find the ECF teaching we are saved by works, or by sacraments…not even baptism as those same ECFs taught baptism by desire/blood. So, you don’t have any legs to stand on.

            On the contrary,
            Clement of Rome

            Let us therefore join with those to whom grace is given by God. Let us clothe ourselves in concord, being humble and self- controlled, keeping ourselves far from all backbiting and slander, being justified by works and not by words. . . . (Letter to the Corinthians 30:3, 31:2, 32:3-4 [A.D. 95]).

            Theophilus of Antioch

            Give studious attention to the prophetic writings, and they will lead you on a clearer path to escape the eternal punishments and to obtain the eternal good things of God. He who gave the mouth for speech and formed the ears for hearing and made eyes for seeing will examine everything and will judge justly, granting recompense to each according to merit. To those who seek immortality by the patient exercise of good works, he will give everlasting life, joy, peace, rest, and all good things, …. (To Autolycas 1:14 [ca. A.D. 181]).

            Clement of Alexandria

            When we hear, ‘Your faith has saved you,’ we do not understand the Lord to say simply that they will be saved who have believed in whatever manner, even if works have not followed. To begin with, it was to the Jews alone that he spoke this phrase, who had lived in accord with the law and blamelessly and who had lacked only faith in the Lord (Stromateis or Miscellanies 6:14:108:4 [post A.D. 202]).

            If that’s not enough, there’s more.

            Judgement by works does not mean you are saved by works, we are all judged by works. However, those of us in Christ have a perfect record of works before God. To quote Victorinus:

            “As it was accounted to Abraham as justice, then, because he had faith, therefore, if we have faith in Christ and his whole Mystery, we too will be children of Abraham. This means that our whole life will be accounted to us as justice” (Gal 3:7).

            That’s a Catholic statement. Note the “if”. If we have faith, we will believe in our justification by the Sacraments and God will see our faith and like as unto Abraham, count it to us as righteousness.

            Note “his whole Mystery” which is a reference to the Sacraments.

            If you, De Maria, trust in anything in addition to Christ, then you don’t have faith, you will stand by your own works instead of having your whole life accounted as justice, and you will be damned. The stakes are high.

            I trust in Christ, that is why I keep the Commandments. But you deny everything and claim that you have saved yourself by your faith. It is you who needs to fear:
            Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

            I already responded to Joe about this in length, the key is in the examples of Abraham and Rahab. Read Heb 11, both things James cites are spoken of by Paul.

            The key here is that you know you are twisting the plain speaking of Scripture. “By works a man is justified and not by faith only”.

            To quote Clement:

            For He himself declares, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father.” This, then, is our reward if we shall confess Him by whom we have been saved…Let us, then, not only call Him Lord, for that will not save us. For He saith, “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he that worketh righteousness.”

            AMEN!

            Wherefore, brethren, LET US CONFESS HIM BY OUR WORKS, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, or speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but by being continent, compassionate, and good (Chapters 3, 4).

            That kills faith alone.

            Our works are examples of our faith,

            That is Catholic Teaching.

            not a mutually exclusive moral requirement on a man. The sacraments are signs of grace that we partake in, because we are faithful. They are not legal requirements to be saved.

            Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

            I guarantee, that if you refuse the Sacraments, you have refused the salvation of Jesus Christ:
            Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

            In this example, justified by faith, means justified in the Sacraments.

            You do not seem to know the difference between an introduction to a book and an actual commentary, so I am not sure if I trust your reading without some sort of logical demonstration of your points.

            Lol! You are funny. You should have warned us that the introduction to the book was off limits. ROFL! Why don’t you handpick your excerpts in order to give you a proper opportunity to twist the meaning of the text.

            Answer this question which I asked above, does, in your opinion, the introduction to that book contradict the body of the book?

            Anyway, I’ve now read some of the body of the book and St. Victorinus sounds as Catholic there as he does in the introduction.

            But you need to answer the question. Otherwise, your proving that it is you who can’t be trusted in your reading of a book. Which is what I’ve been saying about you, all along.

            God bless,

            Craig

            You too.

          15. CK:

            “Me – I’m not surprised at all. What I’ve read sounds very Catholic. Just like all other Church Fathers that use the words faith alone. I’m just surprised by what you think he’s saying.”

            Let’s see if you can show any warrant for your surprise.

            “CK – you should know this….”

            But you did not actually address my point. If I use the term “faith alone” people jump on me. If I quoted what half of these church fathers said but ascribed the quotation to Luther, many here would call the man writing the citation a heretic.

            Let me tell you what CK. I am not going to say when, but I am going to sneak one in one day and we’ll just put that to the test 😉

            “You still can’t point to Scripture that says we are saved by faith “alone”.”

            I can point to Scripture that says that faith saves. I cannot point to Scripture that says anything else saves. So, based upon the evidence, only faith saves. I can find Scripture that says definitively works do not save, so I know as a matter of course that works cannot save. Then, I can find Church Fathers taking those exact passages and saying the same thing, and then take James 2:24 and find ECFs and guys like Bede taking care to show that James is not saying that works actually save. So, what do all of these ancients understand that you do not?

            “The Church teaches that you are saved by Grace alone not Faith Alone.”

            Again, by grace through faith. Faith is a gift of grace, which is why without grace there is no salvation.

            “CK – that’s because their doctrine never changed.”

            No, that’s a presumption you make, it does not explain away that you cannot affirm the doctrine that they did teach. Let’s see if you do by the end of your reply.

            “CK-When did protestants move away from Grace alone?”

            Is there a point here because I’m seriously missing it.

            “CK-St. Paul is talking about initial justification…”

            I didn’t see that word “initial” there and never saw a church father use the term or explain the concept. Are you really sure the RCC never changed? When is the earliest recorded example of this idea?

            “it’s obvious he’s not saying we are saved by faith alone.”

            Actually, that’s literally what he says, you will need to explain how he isn’t.

            “again that is Catholic teaching. This says nothing about faith alone.”

            So, sacraments are not good works wrought out of holiness of heart?

            “Now let’s put this quote in context. I’ll do a cut and paste from matt1618 as he has addressed the very same verse from St Clement: …POPE Clement of Rome…”

            Wow, all caps over Pope, that’s got me convinced!

            “On account of her faith AND hospitality, Rahab the harlot was saved.”

            Clement obviously has the book of Hebrews in front of him when he wrote his letter…Hebrews 11 tells us what Clement was getting at. It was by faith. Clement in his second letter writes how we confess our faith by our works. So, this is his idea. He is STILL excluding works from playing a role in justification.

            “See St. Clement in context above.”

            I honestly do not see your point, in your own words, how are works explicitly excluded by Clement but somehow included? By quoting passages where he extols people to good works and praises the good works of people, that does not show that the works were requirements for justification.

            “The SC ruled on it. There was a debate addressing the legality. So the development can be traced. And there were dissenters along the way who made their voices heard. There is at least a trail.”

            The trail is not precise is my point. There was not a day when everyone decided one way or the other. The same is true of the early church. In my own studies, which I have not done enough us, I think the largest changes in ecclesiology occured in the late 4th century and are well documented particularly by Augustine and Jerome. I think they were developments meant to deal with the rapid growth of the church due to it becoming the state religion of the Roman Empire by force. So, there’s a trail. It’s not terribly precise as was the development on the 4th amendment (which was the result of the growth of police forces in the mid to late 1800s and then prohibition and drugs in the 20th century.

            “I’m not asking for a date or time. I’m asking for a discussion, theological debate, anything before Luther discussing this change in doctrine that led all Christian Churches before Luther to became heretical.”

            The 4th amendment for all practical reasons didn’t really have too much of a debate, as we have many different forms of communication and such to broadcast the opinions of more people than back then. You can find statements of faith alone even in Aquinas. So, I think the issue really came to a head in the 14-16th centuries, where there were protests and debates, the result being those people being kicked out of the RCC. What you are asking for is a debate before the seedlings of Protestantism. However, before this point, even in the late middle ages, I don’t believe there are any major points of Catholic doctrine that would be a major issue for Anglicans, Lutherans, and other Protestants.

            “You can’t find it because the ECF never taught faith alone as defined by Luther.”

            Actually, you cannot find the ECFs endorsing sacradotalism and modern Catholic innovations, while I can find statements from ECFs that would appear to be right out of Luther, so the evidence is on my side and not yours.

            “This is a matter of salvation and you would have me believe that no Christian noticed a change in DOCTRINE.”

            They did, about 500-700 years ago. Further, doctrinal development can be very slow. When did the EO become obsessed with Theosis, but not the RCC? When did the East cast of the reigns of the Pope? Why wasn’t there debate when the east used to be a bunch of good Catholics supposedly? I can just as easily point the same things out to you, I’m am unsure why it doesn’t stick out to you.

            “they make sense within Catholic teaching.”

            But, you didn’t show that.

            “St. Clement can believe that we are “being justified by our works, and not our words.””

            I already addressed this. Clement said that we confess Christ by what we do, so he didn’t view works as something separate from faith.

            “…their statements aren’t that clear if you take the words literally without looking at their body of work.”

            I agree, but I think you have failed to look at their body of work and really cannot offer a cogent rationale of what they were getting at either way.

            “I don’t have a problem with what he’s saying. I have a problem with what “you” say he’s saying.”

            Cool. How do you actually APPLY what Victorinus taught in your daily life? If you find yourself by necessity disagreeing with him, either he’s the heretic or you have something seriously wrong.

            God bless,
            Craig

            P.S. I am unsure if we hit a comments record for Joe, but I am nearing my breaking point as I need to conduct research simply to offer an informed, passionate defense of Protestantism. For me to offer quality comments, I need to spend time reading God’s word and the ECFs. I hope that even if anyone here disagrees with me and my viewpoint, that they can at least see that the view of Protestants is intellectually respectable and defensible. I will try my best to reply, but I might not be able to do it to it as quickly as some people like.

          16. Me: I do not think you understand what faith alone even is.

            De Maria: I know that the ECF’s who used the term did not mean what Martin Luther or any of the Protestants mean by the same words.

            Me: Even still, I do not think you really know what Luther meant judging by your writing.

            De Maria: Do you think that the introduction contradicts the rest of the book?

            Me: No, but I think there is profit in actually reading a book, not just the introduction.

            De Maria: Baptism by desire is the exception.

            Me: But how does it work? Because baptism, apart from faith, is just getting wet. Faith cannot be divorced from the sacrament. Cyril of Jerusalem stated:

            “If you stand in faith, blessed are you; if you have fallen in unbelief, from this day forward cast away your unbelief, and receive full assurance…For He is present in readiness to seal your soul, and He shall give you that Seal at which evil spirits tremble, a heavenly and sacred seal, as also it is written, In whom also ye believed, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Yet He tries the soul. He casts not His pearls before swine; if you play the hypocrite, though men baptize you now, the Holy Spirit will not baptize you. But if you approach with faith, though men minister in what is seen, the Holy Ghost bestows that which is unseen” (Catechetical Lecture 17, Chapters 35 and 36).

            The Scripture says, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him… (Titus 1:16). So, indeed those who do not partake in what are commonly called sacraments will not have the saving faith that they profess. However, your view that the sacraments are efficacious apart from faith so that it is not the faith that saves, but the work of the sacrament is simply unbiblical and wrong.

            De Maria: On the contrary, Clement of Rome said…

            Me: Nothing you quoted there proved your point, he extols people to good works. So do a lot of people, where does it say there that works save people?

            De Maria: “To those who seek immortality by the patient exercise of good works, he will give everlasting life, joy, peace, rest, and all good things…”

            Me: This sounds very similar to, “to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (Rom 2:7), so of course I heard such a rendering before. What you quote still does not say people are saved by the good works, it is just reiterating what Paul said faithful people will do that seek for eternal life.

            De Maria: Clement of Alexandria…If that’s not enough, there’s more.

            Me: You will need them because none of them say what you want them to say. I can quote Victorinus saying, “The apostle denies that ANY blessing comes about on the basis of works” and “I can scarcely persuade myself that there can exist any work which may demand the remuneration of God as a debt” (Ruffinus, Orig Comment in Epist ad Rom iii). These guy actually say what I’m saying. You just had three quotes that did not say that works/sacraments saves anyone and it makes me think you are quote mining and actually not reading what the men really wrote.

            De Maria: That kills faith alone.

            Me: TO the contrary, he is showing what faith alone really means. If you have read 2 Clement, he starts with salvation by grace (specifically predestination) through faith, and then he moves onto why good works are necessary (and he spends the rest of the letter on this topic). You are reading works and faith as two mutually exclusive things, while Clement clearly viewed faith as something that by necessity will have works, just like an apple tree by necessity makes apples.

            De Maria: In this example, justified by faith, means justified in the Sacraments.

            Me: It doesn’t say anything close to that, just as what you quoted from the ECFs did not relate to your conclusions of their thought.

            God bless,

            Craig

            P.S. Keep reading Victorinus. If you actually complete reading that commentary, I bet you money there is one thing in there you will find so disagreeable you will rescind that you think he sounds “really Catholic.” But I won’t ruin it for you, I want you to enjoy what this great man had to say on a plethora of topics. FYI, it has nothing to do with faith, it pertains to a totally different doctrine that Catholics now extol.

          17. Craig Truglia says:
            August 30, 2015 at 11:40 pm

            Me: Even still, I do not think you really know what Luther meant judging by your writing.

            I know that the Catholic Church condemned his teaching. That’s enough for me. However, if you want to repeat that self contradicting teaching that is found in the Westminster or Lutheran confession, be my guest. Make sure you trace it back to Scripture though.

            Me: No, but I think there is profit in actually reading a book, not just the introduction.

            Who said that I only read the introduction?

            Personally, I believe that people who ignore the introduction of a book, are sloppy in their scholarship. I believe in reading a book, cover to cover.

            So, tell me, who said that I only read the introduction and what evidence do you have to that effect? The answer to that question will reveal the type of sloppy scholarship and reading that is your habit.

            Me: But how does it work? Because baptism, apart from faith, is just getting wet.

            Who said that faith should be separate from Baptism? If you’re insinuating that I did, please quote me.

            Faith cannot be divorced from the sacrament. Cyril of Jerusalem stated:

            “If you stand in faith, blessed are you; …. (Catechetical Lecture 17, Chapters 35 and 36).

            Again, why are you insinuating that I said that faith can be divorced from a Sacrament. It is you who have been denying the efficacy of Sacraments. Not I that have been denying faith.

            If you claim that I deny the saving value of faith, you need to provide the quote.

            The Scripture says, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him… (Titus 1:16). So, indeed those who do not partake in what are commonly called sacraments will not have the saving faith that they profess.

            Make up your mind about the Sacraments, because didn’t you just say:
            Aren’t sacraments works wrought out of holiness of heart? Didn’t Clement just exclude those?

            And you know the context of that quote, being that you claimed that St. Clement excluded those as necessary for salvation.

            However, your view that the sacraments are efficacious apart from faith

            Now you’re outright lying. How does one have a decent conversation with you when you so easily twist their words without a twinge of conscience?

            so that it is not the faith that saves, but the work of the sacrament is simply unbiblical and wrong.

            Again, you’re denying the salvific value of the Sacraments which you just claimed to uphold. What is you’re problem?

            Me: Nothing you quoted there proved your point, he extols people to good works. So do a lot of people, where does it say there that works save people?

            Lol! You’re hilarious!

            Ok, we’re talking about the quote I just provided of St. Clement. The quote ends thus, “being justified by works and not by words.”

            We are justified by what? Repeat after me, we are justified by WORKS and not by faith alone!

            Me: This sounds very similar to, “to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (Rom 2:7), so of course I heard such a rendering before. What you quote still does not say people are saved by the good works, it is just reiterating what Paul said faithful people will do that seek for eternal life.

            Wow, really? You don’t see the Catholic Doctrine there? You believe that is professing faith alone?

            Me: You will need them because none of them say what you want them to say.

            I don’t think so. You have probably forgotten that I don’t write to convince you of anything. I’m sure my Catholic brethren and any other folks reading this conversation can make up their minds who has provided the good and true evidence. And who is denying that evidence with opinions and appeals to his own private authority.

            I can quote Victorinus saying, “The apostle denies that ANY blessing comes about on the basis of works” and “I can scarcely persuade myself that there can exist any work which may demand the remuneration of God as a debt” (Ruffinus, Orig Comment in Epist ad Rom iii).

            That’s Catholic Doctrine, Craig.

            These guy actually say what I’m saying.

            No, they don’t.

            You just had three quotes that did not say that works/sacraments saves anyone

            First, you claimed that you did not deny the efficacy of Sacraments.
            Then, you denied the efficacy of Sacraments, over and over.
            Then you claimed that St. Clement did not that works were of any effect in salvation.
            Then I pointed to you where he said that we are justified by works, And that seems a major part of salvation.
            Then, well, anybody can read for themselves. You continually contradict yourself, misrerpresent what I’ve said, misrepresent the evidence provided, etc. etc.

            and it makes me think you are quote mining and actually not reading what the men really wrote.

            I’ll let the readers decide between you and I, who is reading and who is posturing and out and out, lying.

            Me: TO the contrary, he is showing what faith alone really means. If you have read 2 Clement, he starts with salvation by grace (specifically predestination) through faith,

            But not faith alone. What he is explaining is the Catholic Doctrine.

            and then he moves onto why good works are necessary (and he spends the rest of the letter on this topic).

            Very good.

            You are reading works and faith as two mutually exclusive things,

            I’m not the one that proclaims “faith alone”. I proclaim the Catholic Teaching of faith and works.

            You accuse me of not knowing the Protestant doctrine of faith alone. But you keep misrepresenting the Catholic Doctrine of faith and works. Perhaps you ought to show us if you understand that Doctrine. Why don’t you explain it?

            while Clement clearly viewed faith as something that by necessity will have works,

            That’s the Catholic Doctrine.

            just like an apple tree by necessity makes apples.

            By their fruits you shall know them. Very good. Still the Catholic Doctrine, though.

            Me: It doesn’t say anything close to that,

            It doesn’t have to, it describes the Sacramental attitude which we adopt when we approach the Fountains of Grace.

            just as what you quoted from the ECFs did not relate to your conclusions of their thought.

            They certainly did. And, I did a much better job of providing support for my conclusions than you, actually.

            God bless,

            Craig

            P.S. Keep reading Victorinus. If you actually complete reading that commentary, I bet you money there is one thing in there you will find so disagreeable you will rescind that you think he sounds “really Catholic.” But I won’t ruin it for you, I want you to enjoy what this great man had to say on a plethora of topics. FYI, it has nothing to do with faith, it pertains to a totally different doctrine that Catholics now extol.

            What, that he disagrees with St. James? Did you know that he was writing during the time when the Church was discerning the New Testament? But, I guarantee, that if he was alive when the Church had canonized the Bible, he would have fallen in line, just as did St. Jerome on the question of other books with which he disagreed.

            Craig, you don’t understand Catholicism. You shouldn’t be reading St. Victorinus or any of the Early Church Fathers. You are a clear example of the saying, “a little knowledge, is a dangerous thing.”

          18. De Maria:

            “I know that the Catholic Church condemned his teaching. That’s enough for me.”

            I understand, but when you say something is wrong and give reasons, but the reasons are irrelevant it sounds strange.

            De Maria: “Who said that I only read the introduction?”

            That’s all you quoted and I know there are certain sections you would hate (Victorinus’ doctrine on Mary…) Have you read some of it sense then, maybe.

            “Personally, I believe that people who ignore the introduction of a book, are sloppy in their scholarship. I believe in reading a book, cover to cover.”

            Good. Most of the time when I read the ECFs it is on New Advent so I do not have the benefit of introductions. I read Augustine’s commentary on Galatians from the same series and I read parts of the introduction, but the translator of Victorinus’ commentary came across to me as very liberal, so I did not want to invest too much time into reading the introduction.

            De Maria: “The answer to that question will reveal the type of sloppy scholarship and reading that is your habit.”

            Victorinus says, “Because Mary is or was a virgin…” and “Because when he said he saw no one else of the apostles except James, the reason was also included why he saw James: the Lord’s brother, the one regarded as his brother according to the flesh.” You did not seem to take offense to this, so I presume you did not read that far.

            De Maria: “Who said that faith should be separate from Baptism?”

            That’s standard Catholic practice for the majority of the baptisms they do.

            De Maria: “Make up your mind about the Sacraments…”

            My position has been consistent. Christians partake in sacraments because they HAVE been saved, they have God’s Holy Spirit, and they desire the things of God. Christians DO NOT partake in sacraments to get saved or to maintain salvation. This is my view and I think a consistent view when we consider that the ECFs considered everything from confession to crying as efficacious for forgiving sin.

            Me: However, your view that the sacraments are efficacious apart from faith

            De Maria: “Now you’re outright lying. How does one have a decent conversation with you when you so easily twist their words without a twinge of conscience?”

            Don’t you believe an infant is regenerated and in a state of grace by baptism? How am I lying?

            De Maria: “Ok, we’re talking about the quote I just provided of St. Clement. The quote ends thus, “being justified by works and not by words.””

            Again, Clement said two things that on the surface contradict in the same letter which I will sum up as “being justified by works” and “not justified by works we have wrought in holiness of heart.” It appears you ascribe to the shopping mall Catholic school, picking out the Scriptures and verses you like and laying aside the ones you don’t.

            Now, I can be wrong, but I think I know what Clement is saying without saying he is contradicting himself in the same letter. In 2 Clement he writes, “Wherefore, brethren, let us confess Him by our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, or speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but by being continent, compassionate, and good” (Chapters 3, 4).

            So, it is my assertion that Clement is saying we are justified by a faith that produces works, not a nominal faith. We already know that Clement says that works do not justify, so this explanation actually makes sense.

            De Maria: “Wow, really? You don’t see the Catholic Doctrine there? You believe that is professing faith alone?”

            I think it is speaking of an idea similar to the above.

            De Maria: “That’s Catholic Doctrine, Craig.”

            Do you think that any blessing results from any work whatsoever?

            Me: “You just had three quotes that did not say that works/sacraments saves anyone”

            De Maria: “First, you claimed that you did not deny the efficacy of Sacraments.
            Then, you denied the efficacy of Sacraments, over and over.
            Then you claimed that St. Clement did not that works were of any effect in salvation.
            Then I pointed to you where he said that we are justified by works, And that seems a major part of salvation.
            Then, well, anybody can read for themselves….”

            Thank God they can, because if anyone just read your response to what I said, it should be obvious that your non-sequitur did not prove a point. Even your non-sequitur is internally inconsistent, so it does not even stand on its own.

            De Maria: “I proclaim the Catholic Teaching of faith and works.”

            But Clement explicitly said that we are not saved as a result of works whatsoever, how can both save a man?

            De Maria “But you keep misrepresenting the Catholic Doctrine of faith and works.”

            How precisely have I done this? My usual form of argumentation here is to make a point defending Protestantism, and let other people debate that point. I usually don’t pass comment on what Catholicism teaches unless it is really obvious (i.e. Catholics believe in baptismal regeneration.) Here’s a challenge for you…where did I say “Catholicism teaches X” and X was something wrong? I just don’t think you will find it. I will apologize if you do.

            De Maria: “Perhaps you ought to show us if you understand that Doctrine. Why don’t you explain it?”

            Me: It is a matter I am still investigating, I do not come on here saying I understand Catholicism, I come here when I find points in which I agree with Joe, or disagree with Joe for X Biblical reason or Y traditional reason.

            De Maria “What, that he disagrees with St. James? Did you know that he was writing during the time when the Church was discerning the New Testament?”

            Wait a second, you mean the church hasn’t taught the same thing from the beginning?

            God bless,

            Craig

          19. Craig Truglia says:
            September 1, 2015 at 12:40 am

            I understand, but when you say something is wrong and give reasons, but the reasons are irrelevant it sounds strange.

            The only one here giving irrelevant responses, is you, Craig. Look at the next exchange.

            De Maria: “Who said that I only read the introduction?”

            That’s all you quoted

            It is irrelevant what I quoted. Answer the question asked. Who said that I only read the introduction?

            and I know there are certain sections you would hate (Victorinus’ doctrine on Mary…) Have you read some of it sense then, maybe.

            Oh no! Do you mean that Victorinus is one of the INFALLIBLES, whose doctrines the Catholic Church has adopted 100%?

            Craig, just as St. Victorinus was writing before the Canon was determined, he was also writing before all the Doctrines of Mary were defined.

            Good. Most of the time when I read the ECFs it is on New Advent so I do not have the benefit of introductions. I read Augustine’s commentary on Galatians from the same series and I read parts of the introduction, but the translator of Victorinus’ commentary came across to me as very liberal, so I did not want to invest too much time into reading the introduction.

            That sounds like an admission that you don’t read the introductions to actual books.

            De Maria: “The answer to that question will reveal the type of sloppy scholarship and reading that is your habit.”

            Victorinus says, “Because Mary is or was a virgin…” and “Because when he said he saw no one else of the apostles except James, the reason was also included why he saw James: the Lord’s brother, the one regarded as his brother according to the flesh.” You did not seem to take offense to this, so I presume you did not read that far.

            I know there is controversy regarding what he actually meant. He either held that view at one time and changed it. Or he held the orthodox view and changed it. However, he calls Our Lady, the Virgin Mary in his writing on the Revelation. And St. Jerome says that Victorinus did not mean a brother of the womb, since a cousin is considered a blood relative.

            But, more importantly, for me, I follow the Church. Not St. Victorinus. And you know, you ought to have more respect when you write about the Saints. They are titled SAINTS for a reason.

            That’s standard Catholic practice for the majority of the baptisms they do.

            How many Catholic Baptisms have you been to?

            1253 Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” The response is: “Faith!”

            Do you want to take that back or do you want to continue your arguments based upon lies?

            My position has been consistent. Christians partake in sacraments because they HAVE been saved, they have God’s Holy Spirit, and they desire the things of God.

            Is Baptism a Sacrament? What does this say?
            Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; ….

            Christians DO NOT partake in sacraments to get saved or to maintain salvation.

            Says you.

            This is my view and I think a consistent view when we consider that the ECFs considered everything from confession to crying as efficacious for forgiving sin.

            Essentially, all you do is make irrelevant stuff up, on the spot for the sake of confusion. There is no rhyme or reason for why you would say such a thing in this discussion.

            First, of all, I’ve shown your inconsistency, in this very discussion. Second of all, you couldn’t prove what you just said about the ECF’s if you tried. Third, even if you could, it is irrelevant to the efficacy of the Sacraments. Fourth, it is irrelevant to the existence of the Sacraments.

            Don’t you believe an infant is regenerated and in a state of grace by baptism? How am I lying?

            Because it is by the parents’ faith and by the Church’s faith that a child is baptized.

            Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

            Who had the faith that brought about that healing? The woman or the daughter?

            Again, Clement said two things that on the surface contradict in the same letter which I will sum up as “being justified by works” and “not justified by works we have wrought in holiness of heart.” It appears you ascribe to the shopping mall Catholic school, picking out the Scriptures and verses you like and laying aside the ones you don’t.

            Again, you don’t understand Catholicism. We are a both/and religion.

            We are justified by works, when we add to faith, virtue and all good deeds, thus perfecting ourselves before God.

            We are justified apart from works, when we submit to the Sacraments and are justified in the washing of regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

            Now, I can be wrong, but I think I know what Clement is saying without saying he is contradicting himself in the same letter. In 2 Clement he writes, “Wherefore, brethren, let us confess Him by our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, or speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but by being continent, compassionate, and good” (Chapters 3, 4).

            So, it is my assertion that Clement is saying we are justified by a faith that produces works, not a nominal faith. We already know that Clement says that works do not justify, so this explanation actually makes sense.

            You’re wrong. I told you to read Heb 11 and to answer the question, by why didn’t they receive the promise? After all, they had faith. And they put their faith to work. And they were approved by God. So, why didn’t they receive the promise?

            But you ignored the question, again. I wonder why?

            I think it is speaking of an idea similar to the above.

            Wrong again.

            Do you think that any blessing results from any work whatsoever?

            Read Heb 11 and answer the question. Maybe then a light bulb will go off in your head.

            Thank God they can, because if anyone just read your response to what I said, it should be obvious that your non-sequitur did not prove a point. Even your non-sequitur is internally inconsistent, so it does not even stand on its own.

            I’ll let the readers be the judge, Craig. The Church Fathers I quoted all taught faith and works in those quotes. How you can twist them into something else, I have no idea.

            But Clement explicitly said that we are not saved as a result of works whatsoever, how can both save a man?

            We’re not saved by works, but we’re not saved unless we do good works. Only those who do good works, to the end, are saved by God.

            Its not that hard a concept, Craig. Indeed, its very simple.

            Say that there are a bunch of unrepentant sinners to your left and a bunch of hard working, devout, Christians. Just to make this harder, lets say they are Protestants, on your right. Who do you think stands the better chance of being judged righteous and joining God in heaven? The unrepentant sinners or those Protestants who are seeking to please God with all their flawed, man-made, doctrines.

            I say, the Protestants.

            Now, do they save themselves? Or does God save them?

            READ HEBREWS CHAPTER 11 and answer the questions I asked.

            How precisely have I done this?

            You keep leaving out the word, “faith”.

            My usual form of argumentation here is to make a point defending Protestantism, and let other people debate that point. I usually don’t pass comment on what Catholicism teaches unless it is really obvious (i.e. Catholics believe in baptismal regeneration.) Here’s a challenge for you…where did I say “Catholicism teaches X” and X was something wrong? I just don’t think you will find it. I will apologize if you do.

            So, when you contradict the Teaching of Catholicism on the Sacraments. When you claim that we are saved before we partake of the Sacraments, that doesn’t count because you didn’t say it in the formula you just wrote above?

            Me: It is a matter I am still investigating, I do not come on here saying I understand Catholicism, I come here when I find points in which I agree with Joe, or disagree with Joe for X Biblical reason or Y traditional reason.

            That’s strange. Because you give me the impression that you’re jumping at the bit to accuse the Catholic Church of false teaching. And you couldn’t do that unless you thought you understood what the Catholic Church teaches. This discussion is a case in point.

            Wait a second, you mean the church hasn’t taught the same thing from the beginning?

            The Church taught the same thing from the beginning, Craig. Not all believers understood the Church perfectly. Not even the ECFs or the Saints.

            God bless,

            Craig

            You too.

          20. “The only one here giving irrelevant responses, is you, Craig.”

            I stand by the relevance of what I say, and you use a lot of non sequitiurs it makes it difficult to respond. If we were speaking in person (phone or whatever) you couldn’t use all the non-sequiturs that you do and pretend to save face. We will just have to let our writings speak for themselves.

            De Maria: “Oh no! Do you mean that Victorinus is one of the INFALLIBLES, whose doctrines the Catholic Church has adopted 100%?

            Craig, just as St. Victorinus was writing before the Canon was determined, he was also writing before all the Doctrines of Mary were defined.”

            So, he just so happened to be agreeing with Protestant doctrines before the “Apostolic Faith” was defined centuries after the Apostles. By that logic, I can say that every single contradiction between tradition and modern Catholic interpretation is because the church was “still defining stuff.” That’s a weak argument and goes against your contention that Victorinus was a good Catholic. If I quoted this guy as Luther you’d call him a heretic.

            “That sounds like an admission that you don’t read the introductions to actual books.”

            Not really, I am not sure what part of what I wrote you found to understand. The translator of Victorinus’ book was a LIBERAL CATHOLIC and because he was LIBERAL I considered him less credible and did not want to devote too much time to reading it. But, let me admit something else just for the heck of it: I generally flip through introductions of translated works for the Church Fathers, while for guys like Dante I tend to read the introduction. Like, for Augustine’s commentary, I read half of the introduction. So, what you said is not entirely untrue, but I think you are just using it as cover for the fact that you didn’t go ahead and read 300 pages of a book.

            De Maria: “I know there is controversy regarding what he actually meant.”

            Oh, you didn’t know anything, you’re not kidding me. You just checked the portion, read the footnote, and saw that the translator took issue how the word “et” was translated by other Catholic translators. They rendered it as “or.” Funny thing is that even most semi-observant men on the street have heard “et tu Brute” and know that the word “et” means “and,” so the controversy is not the proper translation but that it does not fall in line with modern Catholic interpretations. In fact, online dictionaries never list “or” as a meaning of “et,” even when 16 other possible meanings are listed (https://translate.google.com/#la/en/et)

            De Maria: “[H]e calls Our Lady, the Virgin Mary in his writing on the Revelation.”

            Which I look forward to reading, but the Virgin Mary is her title, she never stopped being that, she is the only woman to give birth as a virgin.

            De Maria: “And St. Jerome says that Victorinus did not mean a brother of the womb, since a cousin is considered a blood relative.”

            Jerome did not know Victorinus as far as I know, and we know where he stood on the issue, so this is probably just speculation on his part. The translator, who’s introduction you loved so much, obviously did not take Jerome’s view and speaks of Victorinus having the same idea (that Jesus had brothers) in other commentaries.

            De Maria: “How many Catholic Baptisms have you been to?”

            Again with the non sequiturs. Babies do not have faith, adult catechumens do, but all the Catholic baptisms (2?) that I have been to were infants. So, that does not address my point that you believe sacraments like baptism can have efficacy even if the one receiving the sacrament does not have faith.

            De Maria: “Essentially, all you do is make irrelevant stuff up, on the spot for the sake of confusion.”

            What was made up? Or you just going to let the claim hang out there and hope someone takes it seriously? John Cassian in COnference XX said that crying forgives sin like confession (amongst other things.) The modern Catholic view of sacraments has evolved, no doubt about it.

            De Maria: “Second of all, you couldn’t prove what you just said about the ECF’s if you tried.”

            Which statement do you actually take issue with, or you just want to make an accusation with no meat behind it?

            De Maria: “Fourth, it is irrelevant to the existence of the Sacraments.”

            The only thing irrelevant is your response, because it does not make a point.

            De Maria: “Because it is by the parents’ faith and by the Church’s faith that a child is baptized.”

            Yes, but for a sacrament to have power it needs the faith of the individual according to Cyril of Jerusalem…that’s exactly what he wrote about baptism. My parents cannot take communion, confession, or last rights for me. For those sacraments to have power, I have to have faith and do them with conviction. Why the irrational exception for baptism? So I stand by what I say, you treat baptism as efficacious apart from faith.

            De Maria: “You’re wrong.”

            Why? You have an inconsistent view of CLement, can you come up with a more consistent explanation based upon what he said? Because I did.

            De Maria: “I told you to read Heb 11 and to answer the question, by why didn’t they receive the promise?”

            Again, an obvious non sequitur, not that it helps you being that I already answered it, no one received the promise because Jesus Christ did not yet come…that does not mean that they gained approval by anything other than faith, because if this were so it would contradict Heb 11:2.

            De Maria: “But you ignored the question, again. I wonder why?”

            I don’t mean to be a jerk, but 1. I answered it and 2. it’s not exactly an intelligent question.

            Here’s an important question: Do you think that any blessing results from any work whatsoever?

            De Maria: “We’re not saved by works, but we’re not saved unless we do good works. Only those who do good works, to the end, are saved by God.”

            But we don’t disagree about that (unless you die after conversion or something). No one is arguin against works. The argument is whether works make one right before God. You are saying yes, I am saying no, but those who are right before God will HAVE good works.

            De Maria: “Its not that hard a concept, Craig. Indeed, its very simple.”

            One that Joe and others are schooling you on in another thread, apparently.

            De Maria: “Who do you think stands the better chance of being judged righteous and joining God in heaven?”

            The repentant sinners. But not the repentant Muslims, the repentant Jews, or the repentant Buddhists. The repentant in Christ are saved.

            De Maria: “So, when you contradict the Teaching of Catholicism on the Sacraments. When you claim that we are saved before we partake of the Sacraments, that doesn’t count because you didn’t say it in the formula you just wrote above?”

            You answered my question with an irrelevant question…I asked when did I make a positive assertion about what Catholcism teaches. You accused me of doing such a thing. That response above does not qualify as an answer.

            De Maria: “That’s strange. Because you give me the impression that you’re jumping at the bit to accuse the Catholic Church of false teaching.”

            I honestly think you come across as very confused in your responses, so it would not surprise me for you to think that I just quote mine fathers and nit pick everything on purpose. If I agree, I say so (like on the Lord’s Supper). If I don’t agree, I disagree. In my mind, the only way anyone is saved is in the Catholic Church…if we are not in the Church, we are not saved. Now, you and I have very different ideas about what constitutes a church and I will concede this to you: your view is better supported by tradition, by a long shot. I am very well aware of this, and for that reason greatly esteem Catholicism. However, it seems to me that the modern Catholic Church is not the ancient Catholic Church. This is why I come across to you as virulently anti-Catholic.

            De Maria: “The Church taught the same thing from the beginning, Craig. Not all believers understood the Church perfectly. Not even the ECFs or the Saints.”

            Who gets to decide who had it right?

            God bless,

            Craig

          21. The Church already decided Craig. You have frequently mentioned that you are the Protestant here, defending Protestant doctrines. All those fellows you’ve been quoting and misunderstanding are Catholics Teaching Catholic Doctrines which you admittedly, don’t understand.

            You are wrong. The Catholic Church is right.

            Oh, did you think this was a dispute between you and I. Thats where Protestants differ from Catholics. Its not about me, its about what the Catholic Church Teaches. Whereas, your arguments, are all about you.

          22. Let me apologize that I wrote the following in a confusing matter. I quoted the wrong Latin word:

            You just checked the portion, read the footnote, and saw that the translator took issue how the word “et” was translated by other Catholic translators. They rendered it as “or.” Funny thing is that even most semi-observant men on the street have heard “et tu Brute” and know that the word “et” means “and,” so the controversy is not the proper translation but that it does not fall in line with modern Catholic interpretations. In fact, online dictionaries never list “or” as a meaning of “et,” even when 16 other possible meanings are listed (https://translate.google.com/#la/en/et)

            When I was going for a run this morning, I realized I used the wrong word. Victorinus used “vel” which definitively means “or” (https://translate.google.com/#la/en/vel) just like the word “et” definitively means “and.” To the present translator’s credit, he went with the correct rendering while earlier translations made up a brand new definition for “vel” to make what Victorinus said align with presentday Catholic dogma.

            God bless,
            Craig

          23. Deltaflute:

            From your article: “baptism is no mere symbol acknowledging one’s awareness of being saved, but a Sacrament that shatters the bonds of original sin and confers real Grace”

            There is one key difference between the sacrament of baptism for infants, and every other baptism (including that of adults.) Catholic teaching is (I can quote Aquinas of this) that the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and I presume all sacraments are conferred to the believer who for whatever reason cannot partake in the sacrament (early death?) because of their genuine desire to partake in the sacrament.

            Infants do not have this genuine desire. Just like Cyril of Jerusalem said, an adult who is baptized without the correct conviction does not benefit from baptism. Likewise, those who take the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner actually are harmed by the sacrament, not helped.

            The article continues with what I expected their thesis would be (Presbyterians argue the same thing): “He’s God. If He wants to give faith to a baby, that’s exactly what He’ll do.”

            Now, here is my question for you. WOuld you say that the child of every Catholic before that child is baptized, benefits from the miracle of being given faith in Christ, though the child’s life exhibits no evidence of this no does the child every say it (some children are baptized past infancy, and they can talk, and these 2, 3, and even 5 year olds never seem to report faith in Christ)?

            Furthermore, this means that by default, every child born outside of a Catholic household generally never experiences the equivalent miracle?

            Honestly, it’s not a tenable position, nor was it one Augustine took. Catholics need to be honest with themselves. They think baptism saves infants irregardless of the faith of the children.

          24. Craig Truglia says:
            September 2, 2015 at 11:58 pm
            Deltaflute:

            From your article: ….yaddayaddayadda… Catholics need to be honest with themselves. They think baptism saves infants irregardless of the faith of the children.

            By whose faith was this child saved? The mother’s or the child’s?
            Matthew 15:27-29King James Version (KJV)

            27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

            28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

            29 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

  6. Craig,

    I don’t think Al is advocating a Pelagian heresy at all. The Pelagians believed that man, by his own power and nature, could advance towards God. The RCC has always considered that notion to be heretical as I’m sure Al does.

    I believe that Al is simply saying that thru the power of God’s grace that mankind has the ability to accept the unmerited offer of God’s love and Christ on the cross. In essence, God’s grace is perfecting our nature so that we can fulfill our created purpose and intended destiny. In the above post, Al is simply pointing out that Scripture demands that using our free will, we must react to the offering of Diving Love by following His commandments. Even that reaction is made possible by the grace of God.

    I understand that many Protestants, are (rightly) guarding against the Pelagian notions, but have done so to such an extreme they are essentially denying the existence of man’s free will. Keep in mind we were created in the image of God and that means that we have an intellect and will that enables us to love as God does. No other creature has that capability. Love is a two way process that involves a choice of the will. It is a simultaneous and total giving of self to the other for the good of the other.

    It’s appropriate to keep emphasizing the providence of God and Christ on the cross, but to deny the need for mankind’s free participation in the love story of the Gospel is in my humble opinion missing a major point of that Gospel.

    We were create to love as God loves. All of Scripture must be in harmony with this elemental fact of Scripture.

    1. Tom said:

      “In essence, God’s grace is perfecting our nature so that we can fulfill our created purpose and intended destiny.”

      I understand that, I have read Augustine, he sees that whole process as an act of grace. However, the error I think Al is making is that man ever reaches that point. Augustine was very clear that he had not in Book X of the Confessions. Paul admits the same about himself in Rom 7. Both men attribute this to a flaw in mans nature that Paul defines as “sin” (in Rom 7:20), and that is done away with in the second resurrection.

      I don’t like quoting so much Scripture here at length, but I think I have to because I think some here are putting the cart in front of the horse. Paul speaks of what it really means to by grace perfect our natures and achieve our destinies in the first 8 verses of Colossians 3:

      1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

      5 Therefore CONSIDER the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

      Man strives towards perfection because he must consider himself as dead to sin, because through Christ he IS dead to sin.That’s why it says IF we are in Christ, we are to do these things.

      So, man can only do good because Christ did something for that man first, and that man trusts in Christ. The man’s actual performance is immaterial, which is why the man must CONSIDER his members dead to sin…A man can only consider the notion, because it is not always true in a physical sense. Man combats the flesh. Paul writes that “if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Rom 7:20). So, that’s why we consider ourselves dead to sin, but we are not yet fully…because sin dwells in the flesh.

      The idea that man, through efforts, can cure his own inherent “weakness” as Augustine puts it, that he can put to death the sin that dwells within, is foolish. All of us, including the Apostles according to Augustine, will live with it the rest of our lives.

    2. I’ve never been attracted to strange faiths or cults, even when I was young and wasn’t very religious. And I’ve encountered very many strange people, and strange beliefs, in my life living in San Francisco, CA, for the better part. It is not only what people believe that might be strange, but moreover how they act and live out their beliefs in normal life. Regarding this, I really like the quote of Plato when He says:

      “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

      Pelagianism is just one of many weird heresies, and I don’t come close to qualifying as being one as I love everything to the core that is authentically Roman Catholic. And if I was forced to live with Pelagian for any amount of time, I’m pretty sure he would persecute me for my faith in one way or the other.

      For me, 2000 years of Church History reveals the most resplendently beautiful souls, discovered in their writings and biographies, that anyone could ever imagine. Even to this day, the great variety of very beautiful and highly fascinating souls in my own parish make me marvel at the Lord’s daily providence and creation. And in my experience the Lord is a God which works miracles on a daily basis for those who love Him. Some are very subtle miracles, though, ones that only sensitive souls might recognize, somewhat like the story we read of Elias in the Book of Kings:

      “And he said to him: Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord: and behold the Lord passeth, and a great and strong wind before the Lord over throwing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: the Lord is not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake: the Lord is not in the earthquake. [12] And after the earthquake a fire: the Lord is not in the fire, and after the fire a whistling of a gentle air. [13] And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and coming forth stood in the entering in of the cave..”

      By the way, thank’s Tom for recognizing and defending my orthodoxy. I did get a chuckle about being called ‘almost a Pelagian’ . He would have hit the mark much closer if he said almost a ‘Franciscan’. 🙂

        1. Craig,

          What I like about you is that you are very demanding of those who care to debate with you. 🙂

          You usually make it an prerequisite to study original source documents on the New Advent site. Also, in this last post we need to also study your own site, not to say that it’s not interesting, but that it isn’t exactly normal in the blogosphere.It’s like forcing us to take a course on the Early Fathers just to understand what you’re trying to convey.

          O.K., now you want me to go and re-read Augustines 10th Book of the ‘Confessions’, which I haven’t read for at least 10 years. … But it’s OK. 🙂

          However, I can’t get back to you until tomorrow at the soonest. These things take time. But I will continue to oblige you, and study your references out of the charity demanded of a true Catholic, who is trying to follow the Lord’s counsel to be “the least, and servant of all”.

          Now where is my copy of the Confessions??

          Oh, yeah, I don’t need to look anymore… New Advent site. YES!! 🙂

          1. Craig, I think you have a laser focus on certain theological items that you want to try to get across, whether it be in Paul, Augustine, or other writers and you expect everyone else also to be always focused on only that, as if it were the only parts of the writings or scripture that are worth reading. In reading Augustine Book 10, I see an absolute treasure of spirituality and wisdom, from beginning to end, it’s hard to say what is most important, as it covers so many interesting topics. I really can’t find anything that might indicate that I’m a ‘Pelagian’ in this book., if that’s indeed what you’re trying to get at?

            As I said earlier, I believe, immensely in both the providence of God, and the many minor miracles of God that happen on a daily basis, probably through the actions of our guardian angels, and also on the necessity of grace for everything we do, including even sleeping well. Things that have happened to Augustine in his conversion, such as hearing of the children say “take up and read’ when he was in great spiritual distress at the beginning, is what I might consider one of the minor miracles of Divine Providence. And I think these things happen somewhat frequently, quite personally. And divine grace is needed on a daily basis. We are helped by insights and wisdom from both God and neighbor. In this sense I believe there is a sort of ‘Divine Economy’ similar to the regular economy we see in the world. It is made up of very many people, both saints and sinners and also angels and demons, that are all part of our lives and nudging us either one way or the other. With grace we either follow or resist these varying influences, either towards Heaven or Hell. As Jesus alludes to when He says ” Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh.” (Matthew 18:7)

            Also there are countless mysteries in the our lives and spirituality that we will never even fathom while we live, as there is not enough time. As Augustine notes in Book 10, we will never even scratch the surface so as really know another person deeply, but this also includes our own selves. There is a good quote from Bl. Giles of Assisi on this, which says:

            “If a man were to live a thousand years, and
            were to have nothing to do beyond his own
            lips, he would have sufficient to do within
            his heart; nor would he be able to come to
            a perfect end; so much would he have to do
            within his heart alone.” (From ‘The Golden Sayings’)

            https://archive.org/stream/thegoldensayings00robiuoft/thegoldensayings00robiuoft_djvu.txt

        2. Craig, this selection that you recommended is really excellent. I was able to read about half of the book this night, and will finish tomorrow. I will probably republish it for my parish in the future as I try to save all excellent literature that I find for such purposes. In the past I used to own small printing presses (Multilith 1250, ABDick360, Hamada, etc.) and re published such selections like this from the ‘lives of the saints’ for public, and parish, distribution. I still have about 8000 copies of selections from St. Bonaventure’s ‘Life of St. Francis’ (in a 4 part series) stored away from this project. When I moved out of the country for 5 years I needed to sell the presses because the storage was too expensive, and so the project was put on hold. Then, when I returned to the U.S., I switched to Catholic Radio promotion which I considered also spiritually effective but much less costly in both time and money. But I am still waiting, and hoping, for the time I can republish such ‘lives of the saints’ literature again. This is how I was converted back to the Catholic faith when I was young, through holy literature. And, so I’m sure others will benefit by it also.

          Please try to find a chapter you wish to focus on, as there is a lot of info. and all of it is great! If we need to move to your site for the discussion, it’s OK.

          1. Which chapter, I am getting confused 🙂 I feel bad that you are reading all of Book X (only a little, it is worth reading), I did quote certain sections that I found relevant.

            God bless,
            Craig

          2. Hi Craig, I misfiled my last response to Book 10. It is above my former response and ending with a quote from Bl. Giles of Assisi. I’m continuing to read Book 10, trying to figure out the part that you might be interested in. All of it is great spiritual literature.

          3. Yes, Craig, I’ll E-mail you tomorrow. Too much stuff going on today. But I’m still studying the whole of Book X.

            Best to you,

            – Al

    3. Scriptures useful to understand that man must cooperate with Christ and do his part in avoiding the ‘occasion of sin’:

      Luke 9:23

      “And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself..”

      And Holy Job also shows how He put such mortification into practice during his day:

      I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin.
      (Job 31:1)

      The early history go Christian monasticism highlights such mortification and self denial. Hundreds of interesting stories and examples can be found at :
      http://www.vitae-patrum.org.uk/page2.html

        1. Trogos,

          There is such an immense treasure of Catholic literature available online that it is a great shame that so few people take advantage of it. After you read the Desert Fathers via ‘Vitae Patrum’ please don’t forget about the ‘Golden Sayings of Blessed Giles of Assisi.” St. Francis was really just resurrecting the Desert Father movement in his time, around 1210AD., and Br. Giles was one of Francis’ first and favorite companions. His sayings are very profitable for the spiritual life, and open a window into the life of St. Francis and his holy ‘Friars Minor’ back in the 13th century.

          I love St. Francis, as I was converted back to the Holy Faith by reading his writings and biographies. All of it is really profitable reading! And I’m sure Pope Francis would concur! 🙂

          Also read Craig’s recommendation from the Augustines Confessions Book X. I don’t really know what he’s trying to get at, but the selection Craig chose is stupendous reading!

          May God Bless always your in your holy studies!

          1. I was thinking of the following, but much of the section is of profit as it does show how much of a monk’s mindset Augustine had in living out his faith:

            In Chapter 30 he writes concerning thoughts of sex:

            “…in sleep they do so not only so as to give pleasure, but even to obtain consent, and what very nearly resembles reality. Yea, to such an extent prevails the illusion of the image, both in my soul and in my flesh, that the false persuade me, when sleeping, unto that which the true are not able when waking. Am I not myself at that time, O Lord my God?…Where, then, is the reason which when waking resists such suggestions?…But whence, then, comes it to pass, that even in slumber we often resist, and, bearing our purpose in mind, and continuing most chastely in it, yield no assent to such allurements? And there is yet so much difference that, when it happens otherwise, upon awaking we return to peace of conscience; and by this same diversity do we discover that it was not we that did it, while we still feel sorry that in some way it was done in us.”

            He continues in prayer: “You will increase in me, O Lord, Your gifts more and more, that my soul may follow me to You, disengaged from the bird-lime of concupiscence; that it may not be in rebellion against itself, and even in dreams not simply not, through sensual images, commit those deformities of corruption, even to the pollution of the flesh, but that it may not even consent unto them.”

            “For it is no great thing for the Almighty, who is able to do . . . above all that we ask or think, Ephesians 3:20 to bring it about that no such influence— not even so slight a one as a sign might restrain— should afford gratification to the chaste affection even of one sleeping; and that not only in this life, but at my present age. But what I still am in this species of my ill [Maria Boulding’s translation says “sinfulness”] have I confessed unto my good Lord; rejoicing with trembling in that which You have given me, and bewailing myself for that wherein I am still imperfect.”

            Augustine goes on to detail other sins, which would appear to us minor and somewhat (keyword “somewhat”) involuntary, Augustine takes seriously and prays to God for deliverance. “It is not that I have ceased to inflict these woulds on myself,” Augustine says speaking of his willingness to sin in CHapter 39, “rather I am conscious that ever and anew You are healing them.”

            Augustine ends the whole discussion in Chapter 70 in a fashionb reminscient of how Paul answers the dielemma in Rom 7:

            “Terrified by my sins and the load of my misery, I had resolved in my heart, and meditated flight into the wilderness; but You forbade me, and strengthened me, saying, therefore, Christ died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them. 2 Corinthians 5:15 Behold, O Lord, I cast my care upon You, that I may live, and behold wondrous things out of Your law. You know my unskilfulness and my infirmities; teach me, and heal me.”

          2. Craig, this is a very useful passage in Book X to demonstrate that sin indeed does demand consent, even as others in the posts above have pointed out. And I think you allude to something important to understand when you said at the beginning of your quote “it does show how much of a monk’s mindset Augustine had…”. This is important to note because 1. Augustine was not married, and 2. Augustine was under a vow of celibacy. For a married man the relatively uncontrolled sexual dreams that he discusses could be remedied by having relations with his wife with a degree of regularity, and without, of course, excess. This is not sinful, and Augustine talks about this in Book X also. But for a monk, a sexual dream is something to be guarded against at all cost, because of the power of such mental stimulation it could indeed lead to a break of his vows.

            So this is why ecclesiastics focus on sex so often in their writings, and put so much stress on avoiding occasions of sin, because they are also writing to other celibate ecclesiastics with whom such consultation is very important. That is to say, just because a man takes a vow of celibacy, does not mean it is easy to fulfill this vow. The Desert Fathers site I posted above is filled with examples of this. And also filled with ways to avoid sexual temptations so as to be capable of fulfilling their vows.

            Your ideas? Do you have a more sophisticated point, or interpretation, of this passage? Or, a premise that you think is provided here to support some other broader theological position?

          3. The language in Verse 70 of Ch. 43 is a bit dramatic and general, as conclusions to stories, or other works of literature, often are. I don’t think it’s a good idea to compare this with St. Paul in Romans because of this. In my opinion, it’s a bit of a ‘stretch’, so-to-say.

          4. I don’t think it is a stretch, as Augustine several times makes obvious allusions to Paul throughout the Confessions.

            So, I take his “dramatic” language and infer that Augustine understood the issues I am talking about. He called his bouts with concupiscence “sins” and says that “I still am in this species of my sinfulness.” Yet, he is generally talking about involuntary sins.

            Augustine understood the difference between sinful acts (i.e. committing fornication) and the sinfulness that belies concupiscence (i.e. the feeling of enjoyment seeing a beautiful women before the moment you have the time to think whether to consent to overtly lusting.) The passage Joe speaks to does not detail this, but I think Augustine’s exegesis of Rom 7 and Book X of the Confessions does.

            On a side note, I find it very interesting that Augustine considers things like looking at art and enjoying it sinful. This may blow our minds, but Augustine had a sincere appreciation of how he really did not love God with his whole heart, and this is why he took issue with the enjoyment of food and art. Good tasting food and good art are not bad, but the inclinations of the heart that prefer them for a time over meditating upon God or glorifying Him in some way, are. Yet, I had people here saying that my point that none of us loved God with our whole heart as much as we should was wrongheaded.

            Augustine schooled me on sin. I never knew what sin was until I read Augustine. Even still I listen to music and such as a last resort to stay awake, and I push myself to spend more and more of my time in worship, research, and other Christian related activities. I seriously considered celibacy for the same reasons, but I felt that though I was physically able to control myself (and no all the things that Augustine speaks of first hand in that regard), I could not get rid of the desire. So, now these standards are locked in my head forever.

          5. Craig,

            What Augustine is discussing in various chapters of book X concern both the nature of memory and also the sexual dreams that result from memories that are, to a large degree, uncontrollable. A former life which was indeed quite sinful, might produce effects via nocturnal dreams even many years after one’s conversion to Christ. This is what Augustine is talking about. He discusses his past life, and notes that some acts therefrom still lives in his subconscious thought which can occasionally surface nocturnally under a number of different causes and circumstances. This is not an uncommon experience in any way, and certainly almost any person living has experienced it. Augustine is only putting it on record, that nocturnal sexual dreams are not in themselves sinful….even as he considered ‘not sinful’, any pleasure that might unintendedly result from the many rapes that took place, even to nuns, in the barbaric society of his times. Book X details this argument of Augustine.

            This is not to say that the person who has such nocturnal sexual dreams might not provoke or stimulate them by his daily life, which is probably the reason why Holy Job made a covenant with his eyes, so as to never look upon, or think upon, a virgin ( as cited in a previous post). So, there are definitely sinful acts, immodest looks, etc… that can provoke sexual dreams, but the dreams themselves are more a consequence of a sin, than a sin itself. And I think Augustine makes this distinction pretty well in book X.

            But in many cases some such dreams are provoked by an excess of innocent physical hormonal causes such as an excess of testosterone in the body due to an excess of physical work, or exercise, wherein the hormones effect the thought processed during sleep can be extremely disordered and chaotic. For instance, in my own experience, after I life weights at the gym this happens to me occasionally, and very strange and erratic dreams occur which have little coherence. My thoughts can jump all over the place from theology, to the stock market, to nature, to the computer, to friends, and all in the space of seconds or minutes. Like Augustine was sensitive to many things such thoughts also fascinate me, it’s almost like my mind is a roulette table and my mind is the little white ball which lands willy nilly almost anywhere when it is spinned. 🙂 But for me, this almost only happens after I have lifted heavy weights at the gym. I can actually feel my body pumped up with growth hormones which are repairing, and building, the damaged muscles caused by the exercise. Without heavy exercise I can’t remember having these types of dreams.

            So, this is what I think Augustine is talking about. Sometimes the distant past can be resurrected, even thought that past was a time when religion was far from one’s life. Such thoughts in themselves are not sinful, not to say they are a horrible nuisance.

            One example from scripture I can give hear, but there are more also:

            “When thou goest out to war against thy enemies, thou shalt keep thyself from every evil thing. [10] If there be among you any man, that is defiled in a dream by night, he shall go forth out of the camp. [11] And shall not return, before he be washed with water in the evening: and after sunset he shall return into the camp.” (Deut.23:9)

            So, of all the punishments meted out in Deuteronomy, you can see how this one is rather mild, and seems to indicate that it is intended to protect the ‘defiled’ soldier for making errors in battle due to his affliction, which infact could effect, or even cause mortal danger, to his fellow soldiers should he not fight with the vigor and skill that he would otherwise except for the hormonal imbalance caused by an impure dream.

            Anyway, these are just some idea’s to consider regarding the topic of sins, and dreams, that we find in Book X of the Confessions. Actually it’s an interesting topic that is rarely discussed in any literature what so ever, religious or not. I give credit to Augustine that he gives such focus to this interesting subject. It is highly profitable subject matter for those who seek wisdom and God’s will in their lives.

          6. “What Augustine is discussing in various chapters of book X concern both the nature of memory and also the sexual dreams that result from memories that are, to a large degree, uncontrollable. A former life which was indeed quite sinful, might produce effects via nocturnal dreams even many years after one’s conversion to Christ….Augustine is only putting it on record, that nocturnal sexual dreams are not in themselves sinful….”

            But, in regards to those dreams Augustine said, “I am still in the species of my sinfulness”!!! So, there was a part of them, though without consent, he considered sinful by his own admission.

            “Like Augustine was sensitive to many things such thoughts also fascinate me…”

            Augustine wrote about a very common issue among monks who are not married and do not gratify the flesh in any other way. They have nocturnal emissions.

          7. It’s not good to generalize too much regarding those who live the celibate life. Everyone has different personalities, physical characteristics and spiritual gifts from God. Some souls are great warriors and can guard their houses well against impure dreams, and others, not such great warriors. You can get an idea of this from the quote I provided above regarding the soldiers of Israel. It is pretty much the same thing. Some soldiers will not be ‘defiled’ due to their particular virtues and physical make up. They will always be ready to fight. Others, must leave the camp for one day, if they were hormonally defiled by dreams of their wives, etc…, mixed in with the stresses and exhaustion that obviously comes with hand to hand combat.

            But we should remember also, that Israel had purity rules apart from this one, wherein married soldiers were to remain ‘continent’ when in the midst of fighting wars. Stories of King David, and Uriah, and Saul also, detail this. So, nocturnal sexual dreams are just part of a larger story.

            But also, a person needs to discern his vocation very well before taking a vow of celibacy. This was probably one of Martin Luther’s greatest errors, in my opinion. And a greater error was to think that because celibacy wasn’t right for him, that it also wasn’t right for anyone else in the Church, either. He would have probably avoided the entire Reformation had he merely discerned his vocation properly, and lived the lay life. And look what Henry VIII also created due to his lust for an heir to his throne! Such sins, and faulty personal judgments, caused misery, suffering and death for countless numbers of souls, the effects of such sins and errors which last even to this very day.

          8. I hope you’re talking about Augustines ‘sinfulness’ being ‘venial’ sinfulness, as it is well known that “The just man sins seven times a day”. But if you are implying Augustine is in a state of perpetual ‘mortal sin’, this I would have to object to, as it’s both not reasonable, nor is it an orthodox assumption.

            So, venial sins are common and ‘mortal’ sins can be avoided, and many saints have done so in their lives. When Jesus says ‘your sins are forgiven’ He is talking about mortal sins also. A soul without such mortal sin is a soul that is in a state of ‘sanctifying grace’, and so is suitable to be allowed entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven should he die in that same state of grace.

          9. “I hope you’re talking about Augustines ‘sinfulness’ being ‘venial’ sinfulness, as it is well known that “The just man sins seven times a day”. But if you are implying Augustine is in a state of perpetual ‘mortal sin’, this I would have to object to, as it’s both not reasonable, nor is it an orthodox assumption.”

            So, without splitting sin into categories, you will concur that Augustine’s concupiscence as described by himself was some sort of sin?

          10. St. Paul ought to be able to help you with that:

            Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

            Both men are speaking of temptations. They are unconsummated, potential, sins. They are not “actual” sins and are not held against us, unless we approve of them. But if we war against them, God will grant us the victory.

            Of course, once we consummate them, we have sinned and they go against our ledger.

            So, no, potential sin is not sin.

          11. I concur with De Maria.

            Augustine talks in Book X of memories that can be stored, or sometimes forgotten, from the past. These memories can be made up of almost any of those found in the ‘deep caverns and cavities’ of our mind, be they happy memories or troubled ones. There are entire chapters regarding this in Book X. At Augustines baptism all of the past sins of his former pagan life, great and small, were washed away and forgiven by both his faith and the sacrament that he received through that faith.

            However, in the Lord’s ‘divine providence’ and creation He willed that there be residual memories deep in our subconscious, both happy ones and sorrowful ones, which might or might not resurface in the future. And these memories, according to his account, occasionally resurfaced in night dreams, when he was under a deep sleep, and wherein he had little or no control over his thoughts. He was therefore in a state of grace, but was forced to suffer from the uncontrollable memories of his past as he is indeed ‘unconscious’. When he woke up he came to his senses, and realized that in this sleep he was completely out of control in such chaotic thoughts. So, in this circumstance he commits not even a venial sin. His former sin which was the impulse of the dream was already forgiven in the past. He is innocent when he comes to his reason.

            As I mentioned in a former post, this is what I believe the Lord mean’t, when He said to Peter ‘you are clean, only the feet need to be washed’. That is to say there are lesser imperfections in humanity, probably due to these same types of memories(including post traumatic stress), that can cause our feet to be soiled. But these imperfections, or defects, do not constitute anything serious, even as Jesus mentions to Peter. It is Judas who committed the ‘grave sin’.

            To conflate the two, and make them equal, negates Christ’s teaching at the Last Supper. The Gospels, and the Old Testament also, are full of examples stressing the varying gravity, and relativity, of different types of sins and defects. Every time Jesus says, “O you of little faith!” He is highlighting one of these defects, or small sins, in His disciples or others around Him. However, these are of course not ‘mortal’ sins. Rather, He is just ‘washing the feet’ of those disciples by correcting and rebuking them for their defects and weakness of faith.

            I’ve already discussed many of these points earlier. I hope some of it makes sense.

            Peace and All Good to all.

  7. I would have to read more on this from Aquinas, but concerning Jesus Christ’s human nature Cyril of Alexandria wrote:

    And so He is said also to have increased in wisdom, not as receiving fresh supplies of wisdom,—-for God is perceived by the understanding to be entirely perfect in all things, and altogether incapable of being destitute of any attribute suitable to the Godhead:—-but because God the Word gradually manifested His wisdom proportionably to the age which the body had attained.

    The body then advances in stature, and the soul 33 in wisdom: for the divine nature is capable of increase in neither one nor the other; seeing that the Word of God is all perfect. And with good reason he connected the increase of wisdom with the growth of the bodily stature, because the divine nature revealed its own wisdom in proportion to the measure of the bodily growth. (http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/cyril_on_luke_01_sermons_01_11.htm#C5)

    Is this accepted in modern Catholicism?

  8. Since the thread is already long and this is diverging from the original conversation, I’m posting here.

    “Infants do not have this genuine desire.”
    How do you know? Serious question. I know I had a desire to eat when I was an infant, but I have no memory of it. I have no memory of the taste of formula either and currently don’t have a desire to eat it. But according to my mother, I did have a strong desire to eat it at one point. So how can without a doubt assert that an infant has no genuine desire to have a relationship with God even if as they age their desire may weaken?

    “Just like Cyril of Jerusalem said, an adult who is baptized without the correct conviction does not benefit from baptism. Likewise, those who take the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner actually are harmed by the sacrament, not helped.”

    Are you suggesting that an infant can be harmed from being baptized? That’s an assertion I’ve not heard anyone make. Do you have something to back up that belief?

    “Now, here is my question for you. WOuld you say that the child of every Catholic before that child is baptized, benefits from the miracle of being given faith in Christ, though the child’s life exhibits no evidence of this no does the child every say it (some children are baptized past infancy, and they can talk, and these 2, 3, and even 5 year olds never seem to report faith in Christ)?”

    If I understand your question correctly…Yes, I believe that they do benefit from anything Christ gives them and I certainly hope that Christ gives them such a desire. And some children do report a faith in Christ even at an age as young as 2. But like adults do I’m sure some children make the choice to ignore that desire.

    “Furthermore, this means that by default, every child born outside of a Catholic household generally never experiences the equivalent miracle?”

    You should read the article. Experiencing is different than cognitively understanding. It’s my hope that Christ gives that desire to every child.

    “Honestly, it’s not a tenable position, nor was it one Augustine took. Catholics need to be honest with themselves. They think baptism saves infants irregardless of the faith of the children.”

    I guess I’d have to look at the particular situation. Certainly a child below the age of reason is not held to the same standard as a child above the age of reason. Nor do I hold to the same accountability a child who grows up in say North Korea with one who grows up in say South Korea. But we’ve already discussed this and have agreed to disagree.

    1. De Maria:

      “By whose faith was this child saved? The mother’s or the child’s?”

      The mother’s faith healed a child, but does not necessarily save a child. GOd confers gifts to people, and their family, without speaking to the eternal destiny of family members. The Bible says, “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them” (Ezek 18:20).

      Being that your interpretation forces the Bible into contradiction, it is apparently incorrect. So, this is why I say accurately that your position is that children can be saved apart from their own faith, a condition that the article did not argue because it is not defensible.

      1. Craig on the Road says:
        September 4, 2015 at 11:34 am
        De Maria:

        “By whose faith was this child saved? The mother’s or the child’s?”

        The mother’s faith healed a child, ….

        That’s all I asked. The rest is irrelevant to the question. Jesus Christ saved that child based upon the mother’s faith.

        Infant baptism is the same way. Jesus Christ washes the child’s soul based upon the faith of the parents.

    2. Deltaflute:
      “How do you know? Serious question.”

      I addressed this in my reply. You make the presumption that before every single child is baptized, they are given faith…but no one ever sees it or its fruits. THey are in every respect just like all the damned children. Neither have any fruits of the Holy Spirit to show.

      So, it is not the anything is impossible with God, John the Baptist filled with the Spirit leaped in the womb. However, this is surely not normative, as the Scripture is clear that faith results in obedience, and baptized infants and young children (2-3 year olds) show no signs of faith. The ones that can talk, do not talk about their faith, they are just old enough to know their parents made their heads wet. So, I cannot definitively prove my contention to your liking, but the Bible says, “Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar” (1 John 2:4). The vast ocean of baptized children, self-evidently, do not know Christ. This is why I think Augustine was in some sense consistent in not ascribing faith to baptized infants. It was an inconsistent view of the sacraments (it wouldn’t square with Cyril’s anyway), but it did not ask Catholics to believe that only baptized children have invisible faith, and other children appear literally no different (but we are supposed to beleive that the Holy Spirit really dwells in the baptized ones.)

      “Are you suggesting that an infant can be harmed from being baptized?”

      No, I am suggesting that it is inappropriate to confer a sacrament upon someone who does not partake in the sacrament in a worth matter. Only the Lord’s Supper can cause sickness and death, being that the Holy comes into contact with the profane.

      “And some children do report a faith in Christ even at an age as young as 2.”

      Key work is some. Catholic theology would say that all of these 2 year olds, so baptized, are saved. Yet, not all of them report anything. THe Holy Spirit does not produce any fruits. Ultimately, the evidence is stacked against the notion that the baptism for the majority of these children has done anything.

      Catholics are fond of quoting 1 Peter 3:21 in that “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.” However, the verse outright says that baptism is not merely getting wet, but it includes a conscious pledge to obedience toward God. Cyril said that those who lack this, in effect, are not really baptized at all. The vast majority of infants and children that are baptized do not have this. Therefore, my contention is, they are not really baptized at all.

      “It’s my hope that Christ gives that desire to every child.”

      But then we run into the problem that the Holy Spirit appears to have no power in the vast ocean of humanity, as most live like reprobates.

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. “I addressed this in my reply. You make the presumption that before every single child is baptized, they are given faith…but no one ever sees it or its fruits. THey are in every respect just like all the damned children. Neither have any fruits of the Holy Spirit to show.”

        This is the same logic atheists ascribe to baptized adults to show baptism is a fraud. Say an adult is baptized, but on the outside it appears that they are still leading a sinful life. Does this mean that the baptism didn’t work? The Holy Spirit is powerless? Or do you hold the same believe as certain groups of Protestants (like the Baptists who hold that baptism is merely a symbol)- the baptized person was not really saved at all? Do you need to see anything visible at all moments in time to know that baptism is efficacious?

        If that’s the case, then you’d probably say my baptism wasn’t efficacious because I had at one point lead a very sinful life. But then I could make the case that that isn’t true. Obviously I’m trying to be holy now so the sacraments have been efficacious (unless you’re saying my baptism is lacking but the rest are not which then would beg the question should I be rebaptized).

        “So, it is not the anything is impossible with God, John the Baptist filled with the Spirit leaped in the womb.”

        I don’t pretend to understand how the Holy Spirit works, but I do know this much. God is not bound by the sacraments. We are.

        “However, this is surely not normative, as the Scripture is clear that faith results in obedience, and baptized infants and young children (2-3 year olds) show no signs of faith.”

        I’m not sure there’s a time limit on when people “show signs of faith” except perhaps at their death. But then that would condemn the Holy Innocents who were slaughtered by Herod and I’m not willing to go where the Church won’t, which is to damn un-baptized children. I’m not sure it’s even necessary to “show signs of faith” before hand. Maybe you know, do Baptists forbid baptizing the disabled? Do such persons need to “show signs of faith?” What would those signs even look like coming from someone who is severely disabled? My son who is autistic shows his faith much differently than someone who is neurotypical. It seems too subjective.

        “The ones that can talk, do not talk about their faith, they are just old enough to know their parents made their heads wet.”

        From personal experience so it may vary from parish to parish, but the priest did ask the young child (below the age of reason) if she assented. You’d be surprised what very young children understand.

        “The vast ocean of baptized children, self-evidently, do not know Christ.”

        I think that one is a matter of opinion- one that can neither be proved nor disproved.

        “This is why I think Augustine was in some sense consistent in not ascribing faith to baptized infants. It was an inconsistent view of the sacraments (it wouldn’t square with Cyril’s anyway), but it did not ask Catholics to believe that only baptized children have invisible faith, and other children appear literally no different (but we are supposed to beleive that the Holy Spirit really dwells in the baptized ones.)”

        see above comments

        “No, I am suggesting that it is inappropriate to confer a sacrament upon someone who does not partake in the sacrament in a worth matter. Only the Lord’s Supper can cause sickness and death, being that the Holy comes into contact with the profane.”

        And I think its dangerous to avoid participating in the sacrament. As you point out, nobody is being punished- not the parents, priest, or child- for something done in good faith with a hope in the mercy and love of Christ. But it would be dangerous for a child to die without the removal of original sin because again we are bound by the sacraments.

        “Key work is some. Catholic theology would say that all of these 2 year olds, so baptized, are saved. Yet, not all of them report anything. THe Holy Spirit does not produce any fruits. Ultimately, the evidence is stacked against the notion that the baptism for the majority of these children has done anything.”

        How can you measure that? You can’t see if it’s working but being ignored. One has to cooperate with Grace.

        “Catholics are fond of quoting 1 Peter 3:21 in that “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.” However, the verse outright says that baptism is not merely getting wet, but it includes a conscious pledge to obedience toward God. Cyril said that those who lack this, in effect, are not really baptized at all. The vast majority of infants and children that are baptized do not have this. Therefore, my contention is, they are not really baptized at all.”

        So I must not have been baptized. Good to know.

        “But then we run into the problem that the Holy Spirit appears to have no power in the vast ocean of humanity, as most live like reprobates.”

        I just reiterate that there is no time limit with cooperating with the Holy Spirit except for in death. The way you speak, it sounds like its coming from a place of sorrow and despair. I choose to live in hope. I choose to believe that some people have death bed confessions/conversions. I choose to believe that what one does in their 20s can be turned around in their 40s. I have hope and trust in the Holy Spirit.

        Pax Christi!

        1. “John the Baptist filled with the Spirit leaped in the womb. However, this is surely not normative..”

          Craig,

          Remember that for a practicing and believing Catholic, the physical presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at Holy Communion, is very ‘normative’. And moreover, a pregnant Mother who receives the Eucharist with faith, will receive very physical reactions in her own body due to that holy reception. Miracles of spirituality result from the holy reception of the Eucharist, and I can verify this many times in my own life. And they affect the physical body, and bring joy and peace to the body and soul. As Jesus said:

          “The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome. [23] But if thy eye be evil thy whole body shall be darksome. If then the light that is in thee, be darkness: the darkness itself how great shall it be! ”

          So by the holy reception of the Blessed Sacrament the body is made light by the intimate presence of Christ in both body and soul. To say that this intimate union does not affect a fetus in a beneficial way, I think is to not understand what the Lord said above. The fetus certainly partakes in both the virtues and vices, joys and sins of the mother, and so can definitely encounter Christ through the Mother’s holy, virtuous and peace filled living practices.

          By the way, it’s good to consider what Jesus says “If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome. [23] But if thy eye be evil thy whole body shall be darksome”, because it goes against a lot of what you teach about men being in a sort of perpetual state of grave sin. Jesus says here the contrary, it IS possible to be in a condition He calls lightsome.”

          I think it’s something for you to consider.

      2. Craig said – This is why I think Augustine was in some sense consistent in not ascribing faith to baptized infants.

        Me – Augustine says baptized babies are ingrafted into Christ’s body (which I assume is saved). Don’t they have to have faith to be saved?

  9. Craig on the Road says:
    September 4, 2015 at 11:46 am
    Deltaflute:
    “How do you know? Serious question.”

    I addressed this in my reply. You make the presumption that before every single child is baptized, they are given faith…….

    When will you answer the question asked? She asked you, “how do you know….?” She already knows what she believes or presumes. How do you know what a child wants or does not want? Are you God? Can you read their tiny hearts?

  10. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal blog now ;)|

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