Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Conclusion...?

Was (or is) The Reformation Necessary?

Well, all I have to say is, whether or not it was (or is), what is necessary is a response, any response, by Jacob that comes even close to proving his point. My challenges to the Foundational Pillars of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide have gone nigh totally unanswered, as demonstrated in the post, "Seventh Inning Stretch", below. I think that I have persuasively shown from reason and from Scripture that the two pillars crumble under close examination--and I think that I have done so adequately to conclude, as far as this debate goes, that no, the Protestant Reformation was never necessary, because if it is based on those two concepts, and those two concepts have been shown to be false, then unless you want to argue that falsehood and error are "necessary" to "reform" the Church, the Reformation could not possibly have been necessary.

What does my opponent think? I have no idea because he has refused to reply. At Christmas he understandably took a break, as did I. But today he posted on my other blog, Grace for the Wayward Heart, that he no longer thinks we should continue our debate. His words will, as usual, be in black. My words will be in the default blue. The following are comments that were posted at GftWH's Fiftieth Post.

I'm not going to include all the comments. Just Jacob's reply to me and then to Chris, then my reply to those two comments, and then his reply and my final word.

Hello, I've been out of town for a while. Sorry It took me this long to respond.

No problem, Jacob. I hope you had a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year's celebration! I didn't have a whole lot of time to be around over the holidays, either.

Gregory, after having some time to reflect over this break of time, I think that it's probably just for the best if we do discontinue our debate,

I must admit, I'm disappointed.

not because I "give-up" so to speak, but merely because our conversation has not put forth much fruit lately.

It seems to me, quite honestly, that the lack of fruit in the debate is due to the lack of response from you, so I'm having trouble accepting this as a reason.

We have very differing views of the gospel,

True. But that's part of the discussion. Does the Bible define the "Gospel" as "faith alone in Jesus Christ", or as "Jesus died on the cross to save sinners"? You seem to say the first, but I would say the second.

and I fear for your salvation along with all who believe in the Roman catholic gospel.

Yet as you've continued to demonstrate, you have no concept of what the "Roman Catholic" gospel is! I guess the old maxim is true: "One always fears what he doesn't understand."

However, it's simply not beneficial to continue on, for me or for you.

I disagree, if only because I really would like to see what your response is to my Part 7, if nothing else...

I really want to get back to blogging on multiple issues of Christian faith and practice, as that is what I originally intended my blog to be.

By all means.

You are of course welcome to continue to share your thoughts.

Thank you. Another option, of course, would to simply continue the debate over at Three Nails, where it wouldn't interfere with the running of your blog, as it does not interfere with the running of Grace for the Wayward Heart.

I realize that I'm not always the most tactful, gracious, or eloquent blogger,

I'd say perhaps we're both guilty of that.

but my real heart is to see people come to Jesus and that has always been my concern for you.

Winning souls for Christ has always been my number one concern as well, which I admit is mainly why I take such offence at my salvation being your concern--you who know me not at all, and don't understand what I believe (and seemingly purposefully try not to!). If it was any other issue of life in which you had so wrongly misjudged me, it would be laughable. As it is, it's saddening.

I apologize for times when I've gotten angry with you and came off stronger than perhaps I should have. May God bless you in your pursuit of Him.

You are forgiven. I admit that I was expecting better from you. Our discourse started out on such a positive note, and I have no quarrel with you beyond the fact that you have not answered my arguments, yet proceed to judge me. I think you are sincere in your faith, but manifest a lack of understanding of certain intricacies of theology. If you want to continue our debate at all, it'll stay up at Three Nails, complete with a to-date summary of where we are.

I think a main point we would differ on is, if I understand you correctly, you call faith a gift from God.

Jacob, I can't believe you're about to go this direction in your argument!

John 6:44 "'No one can come to Me unless drawn by the Father who sent Me, and I will raise him up on the last day.'"

Romans 12:3 "And through the grace that I have been given, I say this to every one of you: never pride yourself on being better than you really are, but think of yourself dispassionately, recognising that God has given to each one his measure of faith."

Ephesians 6:23 "May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ grant peace, love and faith to all the brothers."

2 Thessalonians 1:3 "We must always thank God for you, brothers; quite rightly, because your faith is growing so wonderfully and the mutual love that each one of you has for all never stops increasing." [Note, if faith was from us, not a gift from God, then Paul would have no reason to thank God for someone's faith!]

Hebrews 12:2 [The clincher, in my mind] "Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us [lit. archegos=leader, captain, author, first cause] in our faith and brings it to perfection."

James 2:5 "Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who were poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the Kingdom which He promised to those who love Him."

2 Peter 1:1 "Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith as precious as our own, given through the saving justice of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ."

As if faith is given to us by God so that we may respond to Him.

That's exactly what the Bible says!

That's the Irresistible Grace concept from five-point Calvanism.

No it's not! God gives us the graces of faith and works--in other words, the ability to respond to Him. But He does not take away our choice! He gives us faith, we choose to use it.

While I fully believe in the doctrine of total depravity and unconditional election and the perseverance of the saints I don't jump on board with limited atonement and irresistable grace.

Good for you. I don't go in for "total depravity" the way that Calvin defined it, either. No Catholic, or Chris, believes in limited atonement, since the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus died for all people, and God's grace is not irresistible, either. It is freely given, but the choice is ours to take it. You're making a logical leap where none is warranted.

Therefore I agree that there has to be a work of God in the heart of the sinner to enable the sinner to respond in faith,

That's what we're talking about. On our own, we are spiritually dead, unable to respond in faith or works. God's Grace is His Spiritual Life that infuses us, and makes us able to have faith and do the works that He demands. Our initial justification comes from our faith response to Him, which He Himself has made us able to give, and our ongoing salvation is a process of maintaining and growing in that faith and doing the works that God has given us to do. But it is only God who has given us the ability to do any of it, not we ourselves!

but I don't believe that God simply give the sinner the faith in which he is to respond with.

Then where does it come from? Does the sinner work it up within himself? That's Pelagianism, or at least semi-Pelagianism--the heresy that says that we earn our salvation through our own ability--in your description, through our own ability to believe.

I don't know where we draw the line of God's work and man's response, but it takes both.

We don't. It's yet another mystery of the faith, like the Trinity, or the relation between Free Will and Predestination.

The glory is still completely to God because it does indeed take His work to soften our hearts to hear and receive the gospel.

No, in your "gospel", you have opened the door to us taking pride in our faith! It's the same error that leads to the name-it-and-claim-it types saying that the lack of blessing is due to a lack of faith on the person's part! It is directly contrary to Ephesians 2:8-10 and Romans 12:3!

In Ephesians 2:8-9 "the gift of God" is talking about salvation itself, not faith.

It's talking about all of it, because if faith was something that we produced, then our response to God's grace would in fact be by something that we had done, whereas verse 9 makes it clear that it is "not by anything that we have done"! If it is our faith that saves us, in that our faith comes from ourselves and not from God, then we do in fact have something to boast in! Rather, Ephesians 2:8-10 makes it clear that salvation, grace, faith and works all come from God, and it is simply up to us to receive them and walk in them in obedience.

Other than this view I'd say we aren't so far apart theologically when it comes to the doctrine of salvation.

Yes, other than the fact that you're a semi-Pelagian heretic! Sorry, but you rail agaist a "Catholic" gospel that is neither the gospel nor Catholic, and based on that you write me out of the Kingdom of God, and then spout contra-biblical nonsense about faith that has been called heretical by every orthodox Christian body! It's the pot calling the kettle black--except I'm not a kettle after all!

I will still disagree with you about the Roman Catholic Church.

Indeed, but you do so by hurling baseless, unfounded, misinformed, and unrepentant falsehoods about her, rather than actually dealing with the biblical arguments that I have presented. If our debate has been fruitless thus far, then this is the reason!

And no my "it doesn't matter if..." statement doesn't stop at the door of the catholic church. I believe that there are those still in the catholic church that have placed their faith in Christ alone to save them.

Yes, like all of them who have placed their faith in anything! I'm not denying that there are nominal, faithless Catholics, but they are present regardless of denomination. But all believing, faithful Catholics place their faith in Christ alone to save them! When will you get that?

However since I believe that the RCC is seriously doctrinally flawed I would whole heartedly encourage them to leave.

Yet you can't put together a coherent, non-erroneous, factual, biblical argument as to why our church is "doctrinally flawed." And if it is, so is every other Christian church out there except, possibly, in your opinion, the SBC. Yet, I don't even think you believe that, since "it doesn't matter if your SBC or Lutheran, or Methodist, or yada yada yada!" If there is disagreement, there is error. If there is error, there is a "doctrinal flaw." So why are the alleged "doctrinal flaws" greater in Catholicism than in any other denomination? Especially since you have utterly failed to present any such flaws convincingly! Instead, you have turned and fled from our debate claiming that it is "unfruitful." Well, duh. in order for it to bear fruit, you have to be fair in your arguments and claims! Heck, you have to make arguments and claims!

But again, it doesn't matter where you go, but what you truly believe.

At least we can agree on that!

The main issue as I see it was, is and will be, can a person be saved apart from works. My answer Yes.

The Bible's answer: no! If you'd read my reply to you, you'd see that!

While I like you believe that good works are a product of genuine faith, it is not works that save, but faith.

No, works are not a "product" of faith. Works, and faith, are a product of Grace. Faith comes first, but that doesn't mean that the following works are caused by that faith. The Bible doesn't teach that. Only your lousy exegesis of James 2 teaches that!

The theif on the cross is the ultimate example he had no time for good works, but he placed His faith in the Messiah and that was enough.

Number 1, the thief believed. Number 2, the thief rebuked the other criminal for his blasphemies. Number 3, the thief willingly accepted his punishment as the fitting reward for his sins. Number 4, the thief publicly petitioned Christ for His Mercy.

Which part of that wasn't "works"?

God bless you all.

You too.

Jacob replied:
God does a work in our heart enabling us to respond in faith, but He does not give us that faith. You quote:

Romans 12:3 "And through the grace that I have been given, I say this to every one of you: never pride yourself on being better than you really are, but think of yourself dispassionately, recognising that God has given to each one his measure of faith."

But I ask you, does it talk about faith relating to salvation anywhere in the immediate context? Nope.

Jacob, the entire book of Romans is detailing God's plan of Salvation. In chapter 11, he has just finished explaining the Jews' role in that plan, that their unbelief has led to the possibility of our belief, that we need to persevere in our belief or we will be cut off just as they were, and that if they turn from their unbelief back to Him, they will be grafted back in, just as we were. From there, Paul breaks into a hymn to the glory of God, which states that "Everything there is comes from Him and is caused by Him and exists for Him. To Him be glory for ever! Amen." From that bit of ecstacy, Paul turns back to his Gentile readers, taking up again the sober warning that we could be cut off, just as the Jews had been, and so we must not conform ourselves to the pattern of this world, but offer ourselves as living sacrifices--which is to say, living an ongoing conversion to Christ, a daily salvation! From there, we get to verse three which I quoted, which says that God gives us the faith to do that, not ourselves, so we can't get uppity about it! So really, you tell me: Where isn't salvation mentioned in the immediate context?!

There is faith in Christ for salvation, and then there is our every day Christian faith that God can strengthen if He so chooses.

So God can strengthen our faith, but He can't create it? Logic is a troubling ideal for you, isn't it? What is the "difference" between "saving faith" and "everyday faith"? If you don't have "everyday" faith, you aren't saved!

As for my exegesis in James 2, I think I showed quite well what James was talking about by taking it back to the O.T. and showing that Abraham was justified by his faith long before he carried out the work that is talked about in James 2.

The problem there is simply that Genesis, Hebrews, and James each give a different point at which Abraham was "Justified". Thus, as a Catholic, I believe that "justification" is not a one time event, therefore easily harmonising the three texts while letting them say what they say. You, on the other hand, exegete James by saying, "I know that's what it seems like James is saying, but actually, it's just the opposite!" But that just doesn't make any sense.

Moreover, even if you are right, and Abraham was absolutely justified when He believed God that he would have a son, that faith still had to be acted on, or it would not be faith! What do I mean? That 100 year old man had to continue to have sexual relations with his 90 year old wife for several years! If he didn't, the son wouldn't be born, and if the son wasn't born, it would be because Abraham didn't have faith! There is no way out of the biblical fact that faith must be accompanied by works, or else it is not faith!

The work simply justified his true faith. It couldn't be a lot clearer than that. But alway hearing without understanding and seeing without perceiving.

If it takes work to "justify" faith, and it takes faith to justify us, then "unjustified" faith won't justify us, and works are still just as necessary. As you said, "It couldn't be any clearer than that!"

As I said before, we are done Gregory. You seem to think you have oh so well proved your point,

Not at all! I just think you actually need to respond to my argument! Your failure (and refusal) to do so leads me to the only conclusion: you can't. Honestly, what else am I supposed to think?

and I'm tired of having to repeat myself,

I don't want you to repeat yourself. I want you to respond to my counterpoints! That's the whole point of an argument. You make your case. I cross-examine. You attempt to refute my cross-examination, and I attempt to refute yours. Thus, without repetition, the debate progresses.

However, what has happened so far is, you've made your case, I've cross-examined, and then....nothing. When I call you on the nothing, you restate your case! You're right to call that "fruitless"!

just as you are with me.

I'm frustrated with having to repeat myself only because you refuse to acknowledge any of the points that I make. Instead of refuting my points, you make a blanket statement without offering any proof, or showing that you've come any closer to understanding what we as Catholics actually believe, and it is, quite honestly, infuriating--because it is dishonest and unfair!

For you to be repeating yourself, you actually have to say something. For me to not repeat myself, you actually have to say something new.
Take care.

And so it went. And so it ends, unless Jacob decides that it will continue after all, or unless someone else wants to pick up where he left off. I'm pretty confident that had this been an official debate with a moderator and a score, I would have won cleanly. In the absense of that, I'll let you, the reader, be the judge.

God bless


Blogger Matthew Karabela said...

Jacob wants to end the discussion, but he starts another one by disagreeing with your points. I say to purgatory with it!. Oh right, I'm not so sure that calvinists are to happy with that concept. Oh there I go again, making another argument when all I wanted to do was post a comment, and here I've started another Issue. Annnyways, Jacobs going in circle's, best not to continue with the discussion

6:41 PM  
Blogger Matthew Karabela said...

Also, I like the term semi-Pelagian heretic. It's quite flavourfull, I'll have to add it to my general social vocabulary

6:43 PM  
Blogger Gregory said...

Quite true, Matt. Whatever.

LOL @ adding semi-Pelagian heretic to your regular social vocabulary. I hope I explained what the term means. It's someone who believes that he can only be saved by God's Grace, but that he somehow has to gain God's grace in what he does (in Jacob's case, by having faith).

For us as Catholics, we believe that it is first and foremost God's Grace that saves us, and it saves us by enabling us to have the faith and the works by which we respond to God.

In Jacob's view, one ends up having not so much "faith in God", but "faith in faith."

2:07 PM  
Blogger Matthew Karabela said...

yes yes of course, what do you take me for, someone who adds words to their vocabulary, but doesnt take the time to deduce what the term means?

Goodness me.

In that sentence alone there were 3 disyllabic words. And one quatrosyllabic word. And I'll stop there

6:17 PM  
Blogger Gregory said...

I should have known better, since you criticised others for a similar offence, though of a more musical nature, in the recent popularity of Johnny Cash.

(For the record, in the above sentence, there were five disyllabic words, not counting "Johnny"; three trisyllabic words; and one pentasyllabic word! And none of mine contained spelling errors, or omitted apostrophes. ;) )

9:50 AM  
Blogger CJFreeman said...

Did you know that there are no sentences in the English language exceeding five words in length!



10:03 AM  
Blogger Gregory said...

Chris, stop being as self-contradictory as Jacob!

Or, what on earth are you talking about?!

2:38 PM  

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