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Are Catholics Christian?

Posted by truthtalklive on August 6, 2007

The Pope’s recent edict on the Catholic Church being the “one true church” has created a lot of backlash. What do you think? Are we “lost” or are they?

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118 Responses to “Are Catholics Christian?”

  1. Brad said

    This should be a REAL fun one…

    Doesn’t matter what CHURCH you go to, it matters what you believe. Do you believe that Jesus Christ, who was God in flesh, came to die for our sins? That He was crucified, buried and resurrected? Do you believe that you are a sinner, and that only by the grace of God (completely apart from works) can we accept the gift of salvation? Have you repented of your sins and acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life? These are the questions that matter.

    Are there Catholics who can answer yes to the above questions? I’m sure there are. Are there Baptists who CAN’T answer yes to all these questions? I’m sure there are. It doesn’t have to do with your denomination, it has to do with your beliefs. Yes, denominations often (and generally do, heavily) influence beliefs, and the “official position” of a denomination is often one of our only barometers of what they believe.

    Based on the “official positions” of the Catholic Church, and knowing what I know about what their official position is on salvation, I would say that anyone who adheres to that “official position” cannot answer yes to all the above questions. As for individual Catholics, as with all individuals, each case is different.

    Now, I’ll sit back and watch…

  2. Kenneth J said

    Do I believe the Roman Cathlic institution is Christian? Based on the Word of God, absoultely not. It is a pagan religion that is mixed with jewish traditions. It once was Biblical until its popes came on the scene.

    We can see that any so-called Christian organization that uses anything extra besides the Bible usually is false and in grave error. Examples are the Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons, Nation of Islam, Masons, and Roman Cathlicism, etc.

  3. compassioninpolitics said

    Interesting conversaion and questions…..I think Brad is generally correct to point out “Doesn’t matter what CHURCH you go to, it matters what you believe.”

    I also tend to agree with Kenneth’s notion that I tend to be highly skeptical of adding on the Bible AND in a way thats not consistent with the rest of the text. The focus on Peter and Mary in a way that slights Jesus seems a bit off-track to me.

  4. Ren said

    go back and look at what the catholic has done over history to the “real” church and real christians and you make a conclusion on which is the body of Christ. look at what is going on with the catholic church today! what right does this pope have to say anything? better to have stayed quiet like the former pope. I think every christian needs to study the history of the Catholic church and that of the Protestant church. the catholic church is just an extention of the Roman Empire, which never died. It just got a new name

  5. Dave said

    The Pope didn’t say anything new. Neither did he suggest that those who are not united with the Catholic Church are “lost”, so you question is based upon a false presupposition. It appears to merely be an excuse for a cheap shot at Catholics.

    Brad inadvertently highlights the problem, which is the Evangelical tendency to preach Jesus Plus. Fortunately neither Catholics nor Protestants are saved by having the right balance of understanding about faith and works (Catholics aren’t damned for not agreeing that Ephesians 2:9 is more important than James 2:24) nor by understanding Evangelical shop talk related to certain proof texts.

  6. Chris said

    If Catholics repents every time they pray to St.Mary,St.Christopher…http://www.catholic.org/saints/stindex.php too many to type) then they might be Christians? I would think it would be hard. For, once you become a Christian one of the first things you have to do when you sin is pray (which is another form of worship) to someone else other than GOD, hence you’ve broken the first commandment. Let’s not even talk about the second commandment.

    Christian need to read The Holy Bible, and see for yourself, the Holy Spirit guides us to know what a false church is. We can not let those who are blinded by false witness or false Popes and just say, “Yeah, you believe your way and I’ll believe my way and hope to see you in Heaven?” The word of God is clear: 2 Peter 2:1
    But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

  7. Tom from Connecticut said

    Stu, the book we were talking about is the Liber Pontiicali it is a primary source written by one of the popes.

    Ponder this thought on air..
    If the canon is as accurate as the Bible then why did the church declare Galileo a heritic for stating the obvious (i.e. the world was round) The Bible says that the earth stood in and out of the water, if it was flat exactly how would that work?

  8. dave said

    Christ God in flesh said to the woman at the well that the true worshippers would no longer worship in the temple or their mountain but in spirit and truth. He means there is no earthly aspect to his church such as phisical organization. the kingdom of God is within you We worship in buildings simply to avoid the elements. Further the ccatholic church is not the official church , the mouth of GOD spoke to seven churches in revelation. I’ll go with him!!!

  9. Rebecca said

    Here’s my thing —

    All this talk about Catholics following the traditions that some man put forth — don’t all Christians do that?
    And all this about following the 10 commandments — are these the only ones in effect today? If so then homosexuality should not be a problem, and neither should witchcraft because neither one of these are in the 10 commandments.

    Okay that being said — you tell this woman not to worry about following the ten commandments. What is sin? Sin is transgression of the law. What are the wages of sin? The wages of sin is death. So then to NOT follow the commandments, you are sinning. So shall we continue to sin so that grace may abound??? Heavens NO!

    So then, what do you do? Are you saying “It’s okay if you sin, you’ll never be perfect anyway, so just keep doing what you’re doing — because of grace you’ll be fine”?

    Because it doesn’t seem as if you’re mentioning repentance — which is what really matters.
    God cannot be around sin. So how can an unrepentant sinner — a transgressor of the law — get into heaven simply because he believes in Messiah?
    As James said, the demons believe in Messiah and they are no more fit for heaven.

    I am NOT a Catholic. And I’m not a homosexual nor am I a witch lol. I’m just trying to make sure I understand you and that you understand yourselves…

  10. Chris said

    The bible say that the earth was round:
    Isaiah 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.

  11. Yonni Taveras said

    Jesus said and i agree– Unless a man (person ) is Born Again he will Not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.. Religion will take you to Hell, a relationship with the One and only three times Holy God of the Universe will save your sin filled heart and change your Life… You go from being a caterpillar LOST in your SINS and on YOUR Way to a devils hell, Jesus encounters and He transforms you when a person encounters Christ He CHANGES your Life, if anyone is IN CHRIST he is a NEW Creation..

    The change is inward and it’s manifested outwardly. Jesus would say Don’t tell me your a Christian SHOW ME.

    Rev Y. Taveas

    His slave your servant

  12. stu said

    Thanks for all the comments! Please understand , our primary concern is talking with people about thier souls—-we’re not trying to take ‘cheap shots’ at their denomination.

    Having said that, the saddest thing to me is that hell will be full of protestants and catholics,
    well meaning individuals who trusted a lot of things, but not Christ and the Gospel! And I deserve to be there as well, but was saved by His Grace—-Titus 3:5-6

    any thoughts?
    stu

  13. Tammy said

    After reading all of these, I have my own opinon. God created the heavens and the earth. After God went through and created all, he created man and named him Adam. Once Adam had named all the animals he did not see one that would suit him so God placed Adam into a deep sleep/took out a rib and created women. Women was presented to Adam and liked what he saw. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. God spoke his word into existance which was Jesus and Jesus is God in Flesh. Jesus said himself that “No man can come unto the Father except by ME.” So when it come right down to it; John 3:6 That Which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 4:24 God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Jesus is the only way into heaven and he sits at Gods right hand making intersession for us. So if you think your religion is the only true one and it does not include Jesus the ONLY LIVING SON of GOD as the only way to God. Because JESUS stood in our place on the cross, took all of our sins, sicknesses and dieases, went to hell for 3 days then God raised him form the dead. Where he now sits, waiting for God to send him back for his Bride. You may want to pray and truly seek Gods wisdom and ask him to show you the truth. If your mind is telling you one thing,and you are not sure if it really is God, ask him to reveal it to you in his word so that you will know it as truth. I agree with Brad’s first paragraph.

    God Bless you all.
    Tammy

  14. Dave said

    This goes back to comment 6. (I did start writing it before all of the intervening posts. Really.)

    Chris, with such a facile understanding of prayer I suppose its not surprising that you see a First Commandment issue. This is just another example of getting hung up on vocabulary, preventing dialogue on actual matters of theology. “Pray” is a English word that derives from the concept of “ask” – it has long been used outside of even a religious context, not to mention one referring to speaking directly to God.

    Since Catholics view the Church in heaven as just as much alive as the Church on earth, they have no problem asking those in heaven to intercede just like asking those on the earth to intercede for them. That the saints in heaven involved in earthly prayer is plainly Scriptural. After all, John looked into heaven and saw the twenty-four elders with “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev. 5:8) From Luke 16 we know that both the rich man and Abraham realise that Abraham could have arranged for the beggar to have been raised from the dead, but refused to hear the request (prayer) of the rich man in the place of torment.

    We know that we are to make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks” for everyone. (I Tim 2:1) Where are we discharged from that duty just because we are part of the Church in heaven rather than the Church on earth? By the way, in I Timothy we learn that we are to make these supplication and intercessions even though there is One Mediator.

    Catholics (and others – I’m not RC myself) do things because the Bible says so, not despite it. The issue of biblical interpretation and sources of hermaneutical authority is much more complex than “read The Holy Bible and see for yourself” – otherwise there wouldn’t be 22,000 Protestant denominations, most of them Evangelical.

  15. Brad said

    Yes, Stu, that’s what I was getting at. There’s nothing “extra” that needs to be revealed to us, or is found outside the Bible and what it says, that we need in order to be saved. No traditions (whether Catholic or otherwise), no leaders, etc…

    “Fortunately neither Catholics nor Protestants are saved by having the right balance of understanding about faith and works (Catholics aren’t damned for not agreeing that Ephesians 2:9 is more important than James 2:24) nor by understanding Evangelical shop talk related to certain proof texts.” (Dave)

    Dave, I agree that NOBODY is saved by having any type of “balance”. The Bible doesn’t say anything about “balance” saving you. But it IS very clear in Eph. 2:8-9 that what does save us is grace through faith – and NOT works! There is no Scripture that is more “important” than any other. Eph. 2 doesn’t “trump” James 2 – they are in perfect agreement with each other. If they weren’t, it would mean that Scripture would be contradictory, which if anyone believes that, they have problems other than just reconciling these 2 verses.

    No, nobody is “damned” for not agreeing that one Scripture is more important than any other – people go to hell b/c they didn’t accept Christ’s FREE gift of salvation. If you’re trying to work your way there b/c you think it’s the way there, then your faith hasn’t saved you. And as the saying goes, “if your FAITH hasn’t saved you, then your faith HASN’T saved you.”

  16. Dave said

    Brad, the saying itself is based upon a theological error. Your faith can’t save you from anything, whether it’s YOUR faith or your FAITH. If you are depending on your faith to save your, then you are in fact working your way to salvation.

    That’s where Catholics (and former evangelicals turned Orthodox such as me, for that matter) disagree with evangelical Protestants. The saving is God’s doing, not ours. We may work out our salvation with fear and trembling, (Phil 2:12) but it is God Who works in us “both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (2:13) It is ironic that by getting hung up on faith vs. works, many evangelicals (especially, but by no mean exclusively, Calvinists) think they are monergistic while Catholics and Orthodox are synergistic, when in fact it is just as easy to see it the other way around.

    Obviously I agree with you that no part of Scripture trumps another. In fact, one of the comforts of post-Evangelicalism is that I have abandoned the struggle of “the canon within the canon” which necessitates interpreting some passages effectively subordinate other passages – a very common hermaneutical tactic, with Eph 2 and James 2 being just one example.

    It’s Jesus Who saves, not the correct belief in, or grasp of, the ordo salutis.

  17. Thanks for all the comments! Please understand , our primary concern is talking with people about thier souls—-we’re not trying to take ‘cheap shots’ at their denomination.

    Having said that, the saddest thing to me is that hell will be full of protestants and catholics,
    well meaning individuals who trusted a lot of things, but not Christ and the Gospel! And I deserve to be there as well, but was saved by His Grace—-Titus 3:5-6

    any thoughts?
    stu

    I agree Stu… After listening to True or False Conversion by Ray Comfort, I was horrified to realize how many false converts there are in the church who will one day cry “Lord, Lord!”

  18. kandace said

    Paul in Romans and James both discuss faith from two different perspectives. Romans refers to the internal component of faith – the relationship with God. James refers to the external component of faith – visibility before the world.

    True saving faith requires both elements at the same time. I’m not referring to a works salvation. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ, nothing more and nothing less. Having said that, a true relationship with Jesus Christ will bear fruit which is visible to the external world. We do nothing but reflect the Christian graces of Gal. 5:22-23.

    Revelation 22:18-19 warns against making any changes to the inspired canon of Scripture [another subject on another board as to what comprises the completed Word of God]. Suffice it to say for this discussion, that we must be born into God’s family as described in John 3.
    All people who have experienced the new birth are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    The Holy Spirit of God witnesses to my spirit that I am God’s daughter. I hope that Pope Benedict XVI has had the biblical experience of the new birth.

  19. RaynaRenee said

    The righteousness by which we are justified before God is the “righteousness of God” alone. It is the imputed credited righteousness of God to the believing sinner for which noone is worthy. God justifies the “ungodly” the undeserving.

    Anything we do is not of faith.
    “Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.”

    Our works are not of faith. If one can see it in this life it is not of faith. We can see our works and so can others. It is only the evidence of the faith that we believe God and His word that we are only accounted righteous by the imputation of His righteousness to us. We cannot see this righteousness as it is of faith alone.

    Works can be performed by a con artist. I know one, and eventually he is exposed that he is not a real Christian. But God knows the ones that are His and believe and trust in His Son the forgiveness of all His sins, and being justified by the imputed righteousness of God which is of faith alone. God reads the human heart, so we must leave all judgment to the Son, as it states in scripture.

    James shows that no man is justified by his works. As we all fall short. It is only by the mercy of God given to us freely as a gift in Jesus. It is not of faith and works but of faith alone in the imputed righteousness of Jesus.

    RaynaRenee

  20. RaynaRenee said

    We are not saved by attending “church” or belonging to any “church”. We are saved alone by the pure mercy of God given to us by God’s grace alone, in Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ the Father has freely given us as sinners, “righteousness imputed or credited” unto the sinner. It is His righteousness given unto us freely in Jesus Christ by faith alone. It is a pure spotless righteousness without any sin.

    No man can produce works that have no sin, as we are born sinners. Nothing we can do is acceptable to God as far as our justification is concerned. There is only one way, and that is through the “righteousness of God” which is sinless. Jesus is our substitute before the Father. He stands in the sinner’s place and if Jesus is our Savior the Father accepts us on the basis of His mercy and grace, not on anything is us.

    We all deserve to be condemned to hell! But God has provided the way for man to live and not only to live but have eternal life which is in his Son. It is only of faith in Jesus. Faith is only the instrument that reaches out and accepts the gift of God in Jesus Christ. We are not saved by our faith but by Jesus alone, who is God’s gift, by faith alone, so that God receives all the glory alone. No man has part in this righteousness by which we are justified. man is only “accounted righteous” He is not righteous before God in Himself.

    It is not of faith and works, but by faith alone. Jesus righteousness is His life, that is imputed to the sinner.

    May God be praised for His mercy to us. This righteousness is not in us, but in Jesus alone. It is alien to us, in Jesus alone in heaven at the right hand of God. It is not on this earth.

    RaynaRenee

  21. Rebecca said

    I know a lot of Catholics – family and friends – and across the board, every one of them that has gotten truly saved and READ THE BIBLE, has left the Catholic Church. Sadly, there are true Christians in the Catholic Church who are Bible illiterate. Then again, that’s true of the Baptists, the Methodists, the AG’s, the non-denominationals. We are a nation of Bible-illiterate “believers”.

  22. stu said

    Kandace…
    great point on James vs Paul—a surface reading of the 2 may seem contradictory, but you have shown the complimentary nature of the 2 texts very articulately. As one commentator put it—-Paul in Romans 4 is focussing on the ‘Root’ of Salvation…..while James in James 2 is dealing with the ‘Fruit’ of Salvation….. sometimes people are confused by the word ‘justified’ being used by James, but a closer study will show that he’s speaking of Justification as vindication before man and not one’s standing before God.

    RaynaRenee—-all I can say is AMEN! You’ve certainly read Romans 3&4
    …… however, I am wrestling wiht your last statement——don’t you think that once redeemed, man bears His righteosness, and becomes His Temple(I Cor 6:19-20) and a new creation(2 Cor 5:17)—not of our own doing of course, but when we become sons of God (Jn 1:12) and the ‘vessels of mercy’—and we are ‘in Christ’ and Christ is in us? yes he’s at the right hand, but don’t we bear his rigtheousness?

    Dave(15)… Trying to understand your position, Do you hold to Faith Alone?

  23. RaynaRenee said

    Yes I hold to faith alone in the imputed righteousness of Jesus.
    the Scriptures state that “Jesus is our righteousness, sanctification and redemption” The Holy Spirit indwells the born again believer, but the work of the Holy Spirit is to point out our sin, and to show us Jesus Christ as our Savior. The righteousness of God is unto and upon us but not in us.

    Read Romans 3

    The righteousness by which we are saved is not in us. We are all sinners and all we do is sin in God’s sight. Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. He will stand in our place always before the Father as our mediator. If we were righteous in ourselves before the Father we would not need him. But we are sinners and will always be sinners until Jesus comes. Our righteousness is only of faith. IT is not seen in this life, it is in Jesus at the right hand of God, where He intercedes on our behalf.

    Jesus righteousness is imputed and we are always only accounted righteous, we are not righteous in ourselves before the Father but in Jesus alone. We are accepted in Him and our life is hid in Christ in God. Read Colossians 3

    We are sinners saved by God’s grace given to us freely as a gift in Jesus Christ.

    RaynaRenee

  24. Dave said

    Stu,

    If you mean in terms of the Reformation idea of the solas, no. For an Orthodox Christian, the Western battles about faith and works are generally speaking, irrelevant. Orthodoxy sees Catholicism and Protestantism as, in the words of Alexis Khomiakov, two sides of the same coin.

    Part of this is due to the difference between the Eastern and Western understanding of Holy Scripture.

    The battles of the Reformation are rooted in the uniquely Western experience of medieval Scholasticism that never touched the East. Without it, you have neither the doctrines of Protestantism or modern Catholicism. (The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation by the outstanding evangelical Anglican scholar Alister McGrath is excellent on this.)

    But are you simply asking whether I believe that I can do anything to earn my salvation – clearly, no.

    If you want to know what I believe and what Orthodox Christians believe is the essential statement of what a Christian must believe, go to the Nicene Creed, which we call the Symbol of Faith.

  25. Rob said

    I was raised Baptist and converted to Catholicism in 2000. It is the perfect balance of faith and works (and both are a direct product of grace).
    Asking if Catholics are Christians is silly (but I remember thinking the same way when I was Baptist). Catholics were the first Christians. Read some history.

  26. stu said

    Dave,

    Let me check into this, and get back to you. by the way to you suscribe to the new perspective on Paul….advance by NT Wright and others?

    Rob,

    How do you deal with the Canons and Councils and Traditions that so clearly contradict scipture, like some I read today on the air: Where the Catechism clearly states that Baptism imparts salvation?
    or where the Counsel of Trent condemns Salvation by Faith alone? Canon 9 and many others?
    would love your thoughts on this…..stu

    also, what was the biggest factor in your conversion?

    and do you believe ALL Catholics are Christians?

  27. Charles said

    This entire discussion is based on a common misconception of what church is. Biblically, the church is not an organization, but it is the Bride of Christ, made up of ALL believers. The Greek term ekklesia, which is translated ‘church’ refers to PEOPLE not an organization. It literally means, “those who are called out.”

    Are Catholics Christians? Those who have answered the call and made Jesus their Master are, the rest are not; as is true with any denomination.

  28. RaynaRenee said

    Jesus only dwells in our hearts by faith. Read in Ephesians.
    Jesus is at the right hand of God in heaven. The Holy Spirit indwells the heart, or mind.

    The work of the Holy Spirit is to point out sin, righteousness, and judgment. Read the book of John.

    Also the Holy Spirit is to testify of Jesus, and to open our minds to spiritual things, which are not on this earth. He also will lead us into all truth. That is why before we study our bibles we are to ask God to have Holy Spirit with us to help us to understand the scriptures. He also gives us words to speak when we are called to witness. The Holy Spirit is present when the gospel is preached, and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit unto life eternal when we believe the gospel.

    Of course the fruits of the Spirit are the evidence that we believe the true gospel of Jesus. But remember we are only sinful human beings, so we fail continually, and fall short of the glory of God. Our justification before the Father is in Jesus alone, not in ourselves. Again I say He is at the right hand of God to intercede on our behalf. We are born again by the Holy Spirit to open our spiritual eyes to view spiritual things, not seen in this world, which we receive by faith alone through Jesus Christ given to us freely by the Father’s mercy and grace alone.

    It is not the work of the Holy Spirit to make us righteous in ourselves before the Father, but to cause us to see our sin, bring forth repentance, and faith when we see the wonderful gift of God in Jesus Christ to sinful man, who is so undeserving.

    “The Goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” Read Romans.

    Praise God for His unspeakable gift Jesus.

    RaynaRenee

  29. RaynaRenee said

    The Roman Catholic church and a lot of Protestants and Evangelicals teach that we are righteous before God by our cooperation with the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is heresy!!

    The bible teaches that man is sinful, and that will not change while we are still human. All men are sinners, and continue to come short of the glory of God.

    That is why we need the imputed righteousness of God that we may be accepted of the Father and justified before Him. When we are declared righteous by the Father because of Jesus, then we are sealed by the Holy Spirit forever. Read Ephesians

    This declaration lasts our lifetime. We remain sinners because we are born sinners. But sin does not have domination over us in our lives, because the Holy Spirit teaches us to hate sin, and we do not want to sin willfully. It is just that all we do is sin in God’s sight. Read Paul’s testimony in Romans. That is why we cannot look within ourselves for justification before Him. Our acceptance with God is always because Jesus is our Savior and He stands in our place before the Father.

    We all fall short of the glory of God. We are all sinners saved by God’s free mercy and grace given to us freely in Jesus. It is all of faith in believing God’s word alone.

    If anyone thinks he is righteous in himself, he is deluded. He is a Pharisee, and is self righteous in himself and condemned because He is not righteous in Himself before God. Look to Jesus as your only righteousness before the Father and realize how undeserving you are. Bow before Him and thank Him for His wonderful gift of forgiveness, righteousness and eternal life in Jesus freely given to you. Again I say, Jesus is at the right hand of God in heaven, it is the Holy Spirit that indwells you and points you to Jesus alone as your Savior.

    Any church that teaches the Pharisee teaching of righteousness before God within, or faith and works, I don’t care which church it is, is not Christian.

    I read above in one post that God’s church consists of people that believe the true gospel. It is not any particular church but God knows the ones that are His, and He will save them to life eternal. People should come out of those so called churches that teach heresy. We are to preach the gospel to all people, but if they refuse the gospel we are to wipe the dust off our feet and move on. We just have to leave them in God’s hands.

    RaynaRenee

  30. ADB said

    What a good topic for getting things fired up! The short answer is that there are some fine Christians in the Roman Catholic Church, just as there are in any church. There are also some lost folks in the pews of any church you find. The Catholic Church has some practices and doctrines that I don’t buy into (veneration of saints, purgatory), but I’m not about to write them all off. Anyway, assessing whether a person or group is actually “in” is above my paygrade so to speak. I appreciate RaynaRenee’s passionate defense of justification by grace through faith as well. I do think that she missed something though. I think that she diminished the role of the Holy Spirit in transforming a person’s life. We never are totally free from sin this side of the grave, but after we are justified, the Holy Spirit does transform us (regeneration in theological terms) so that we are no longer bound to, or slave to sin. In essence, God’s goal with us is to make us holy, not merely forgiven. My two cents worth, on with the fireworks!

  31. Jantz said

    I didn’t get to the website until just now and wanted to go all the way back to the first comment by Brad.

    I think you “hit the nail on the head” however, I would read what you wrote as a contridiction. You said it doesn’t matter what church you go to (true it doesn’t) but then said if they go by their official beliefs they are not saved!

    So therefore in my opinion it DOES matter what church you go to. Your denomination IS important too because whether it be Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc… the names in themselves unite members of the same faith. This faith is what is taught and accepted in their particular churches.

    If you don’t agree with parts of your denomonation don’t be part of that denomonation because unfortunately that is how you are catagorized. The catholic faith is so extra biblical I don’t see how they could feel comfortable with their salvation. The faith itself from what I know has Jesus yes but then other things on top of that including works and keeping the commandments. Jesus said if you love me you will keep my commandments not if you want to get to heaven you will keep my commandments.

    The catholic calling Marie was a prime example of the problem with the Catholic church. I’ll stop and say I love you Marie and prayed desperately that you would accept Jesus as your only means of salvation. She confessed that nothing is possible without Jesus but she kept repeating she just does the best she can and leaves the rest to Jesus. Stu asked her the PERFECT question… how do you know you’re saved?!? She answered that she doesn’t know that she only does her best. It crippled my heart to hear that because she has great intentions and is probably a good person! However, in the end that’s not what saves us. Jesus christ’s imputed righteousness is why we can be saved. We are all sinners and can do nothing to gain God’s grace. Grace = unmerited favor just cry out to Jesus and accept him as your OWNLY means of salvation and you can KNOW that you are saved. 1 John 5:13

    I didn’t mean to write this much without having read all the posts … which I’m off to do now enjoy

  32. Brad said

    “I think you ‘hit the nail on the head’ however, I would read what you wrote as a contridiction. You said it doesn’t matter what church you go to (true it doesn’t) but then said if they go by their official beliefs they are not saved!

    So therefore in my opinion it DOES matter what church you go to. Your denomination IS important too because whether it be Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc… the names in themselves unite members of the same faith. This faith is what is taught and accepted in their particular churches.” (Jantz)

    Jantz, I agree with you completely. You simply expounded on a point I was trying to make. I didn’t say what you just said above only b/c I was trying to make the point about salvation being about WHAT you believe, not about WHERE you worship. So I would say that it does matter what church you go to, if you believe what they believe. Which flows directly to your point (which I agree with), that if you don’t believe the denomination’s “official” beliefs, then you probably shouldn’t be a member of that denomination. I agree mostly with that, although I also think there are certain things about every denomination that I don’t completely agree with. I am Baptist, and believe what the “official” belief is as far as doctrine, but some of the non-doctrinal things I don’t believe the same way. I think that’s different, in that they are non-essentials, but hopefully you get what I’m saying. I do agree, however, that with the Catholic church it is different, b/c doctrinally, their official position does not conform to Biblical teachings, I don’t believe.

    If you don’t agree with parts of your denomonation don’t be part of that denomonation because unfortunately that is how you are catagorized. The catholic faith is so extra biblical I don’t see how they could feel comfortable with their salvation. The faith itself from what I know has Jesus yes but then other things on top of that including works and keeping the commandments. Jesus said if you love me you will keep my commandments not if you want to get to heaven you will keep my commandments.

    The catholic calling Marie was a prime example of the problem with the Catholic church. I’ll stop and say I love you Marie and prayed desperately that you would accept Jesus as your only means of salvation. She confessed that nothing is possible without Jesus but she kept repeating she just does the best she can and leaves the rest to Jesus. Stu asked her the PERFECT question… how do you know you’re saved?!? She answered that she doesn’t know that she only does her best. It crippled my heart to hear that because she has great intentions and is probably a good person! However, in the end that’s not what saves us. Jesus christ’s imputed righteousness is why we can be saved. We are all sinners and can do nothing to gain God’s grace. Grace = unmerited favor just cry out to Jesus and accept him as your OWNLY means of salvation and you can KNOW that you are saved. 1 John 5:13

    I didn’t mean to write this much without having read all the posts … which I’m off to do now enjoy

  33. Rob said

    Hi Stu,

    First, My conversion was a lengthy process. You have my email address if you would like a more in depth discussion. The last straw towards my conversion was pertaining to authority. Growing up protestant (my parents were even protestant missionaries),I experienced the inadequacies associated with each individual being there own pope when it comes to interpreting very complex spiritual issues. Instead of having a Church magisterium to guide us, as protestants, individuals becames there own magisterium. Those protestants who may disagree with this statment and say that they listen to their pastor and church elders for direction are also not thinking things through. Most protestants have become adept at church shopping so in essence hand pick their church “leaders” resulting once again in the individual being the sole authority. Those protestants/evangelicals who rely on sola scriptura seem oblivious to the confusion and continued division that has come from this non-bibilical doctrine. It has become a cliche’ among some Catholics but “show me sola scriptura in the bible”. If you do manage to find it, then go on to show me the inspired table of contents which defines the books in the bible.

    You know this stuff Stu. I have listened to you long enough to see how you have become more aware of the misconceptions that protestants have about Catholics. I pray for God’s grace to help you towards conversion. You will make an effective Catholic. Being Catholic now for 7 years I have come to see the real deficit in the Catholic Church; it is you and many other wonderful Christians that are not in full communion with the body of Christ. Your talents and gifts. Your fervor. Once the Christians become unified we will be much more effective in reaching the lost.

    Rob

  34. Dave said

    Let me check into this, and get back to you. by the way to you suscribe to the new perspective on Paul….advance by NT Wright and others?

    Stu,

    Frankly, I had to do some reading to see since I have been out of the loop with regard to developments in evangelical theology for some time. I knew that there was a kerfuffle about it in my former denomination (the Presbyterian Church in America), particularly with regard to the Federal Vision folks, but I hadn’t looked into it very closely at all.

    Having read a couple of Dr Wright’s papers on it and most closely the one given in 2003 at the 10th Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference, I would say that Wright’s view is closer than the traditional Reformed view to the Orthodox view particularly with regard to justification. Overall it is a still a thoroughly Western and Protestant view, but in any way in which he sees salvation as more organic and less juridical, he moves toward an Orthodox position.

    To be specific, I would agree with Wright that justification does not equal conversion – that these are not the interchangable terms they have tended to be since the 16th century. His idea that it refers to membership in the covenant is about as close as he would get to an Orthodox view while holding to a very different ecclesiology.

    I suppose the thing Wright says with which I agree the most is: ‘The gospel’ is not ‘you can be saved, and here’s how’; the gospel, for Paul, is ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’.

    Thus, in a statement most germane to the original post, I agree wholeheartedly with his statement: But justification by faith tells me that if my Roman neighbour believes that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead then he or she is a brother or sister, however much I believe them muddled, even dangerously so, on other matters. The only difference is that I believe them muddled about quite different things than he does.

    I have not read any Dunn or Sanders or any of the other New Perspectives writers, so I cannot comment on anything they have said.

    I hope I have answered your question adequately.

  35. Jantz said

    Wow! I’m in awe of how RaynaRenee can and has said exactly my feelings! Very well said RaynaRenee! ADB if I’m understanding RaynaRenee right then she agrees with you as I do that the Holy Spirit works in our lives and our sin is pointed out to us so that we can be more Christ like – who was sinless. However, our righteousness is never seen by God. In fact the word says it is as filthy rags! We are only justified by the imputed righteousness of Christ and Christ alone! When God sees us he sees Him! Isn’t that amazing! Isn’t it amazing that we are joint heirs with Jesus the one who died to save us. Yes the mark is holiness however we can NEVER attain holiness. God said be holy for I AM holy. That’s commanded of us but never achievable…………….. except through CHRIST! PRAISE HIM!

    Dave – you seem very knowledgable much more so than myself but one of the main comments that stood out to me was this —-If you want to know what I believe and what Orthodox Christians believe is the essential statement of what a Christian must believe, go to the Nicene Creed, which we call the Symbol of Faith.—- Dave if you want to know what I believe and what I believe every true follower of Christ believe, go to the bible man!

    I leave you with this….

    Passage Galatians 2:15-21:

    15We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

    16Knowing 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.

    17But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

    18For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

    19For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

    20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

    21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

    Did Christ die in vain? Can you set yourself 100% aside and submit to the will of God? Can you resist your fleshly nature to try and do it yourself? Let go and let God. The price has already been paid. You can not pay it… please accept him!

  36. Kenneth J said

    My question to the Roman Catholics, or Orthodox for that matter, is “what did Jesus accomplish on the cross?” – what did He mean when He cried out “It is finished”?

    We can say that the Roman Catholic institution, which incorporates the eastern rite(Orthodox) as well, is an antiBiblical institution that teaches a works salvation based on a persons own abilities – Arminianism to the core. Does it have fundamental Christian doctrines? Sure. But which Jesus is portrayed in the Romish religion? Not the Jesus that I read about in my protestant Bible(No Apocrypha). And not the Jesus that abides in me through the person of the Holy Spirit.

    What are the falsehoods of Roman Catholicism? Mary exaltation, prayer to and for the dead, indulgences, 7 sacraments, papal veneration, self-righteousness, rosary, worship of angels, idols(icons), extrabiblical visions(revelations), elevation of “saints”, works hope-so salvation, holy water, baptismal regeneration, penance, says all religions lead to God.

    Search on the net for Richard Bennett, Jim McCarthy for testimonies of former Roman Catholics.

  37. Dave said

    Dave if you want to know what I believe and what I believe every true follower of Christ believe, go to the bible man!

    Jantz,

    We all go to the Bible. However, I mention the Nicene Creed because it is the summation of essential doctrines believed by the Orthodox Church. If I want to know what you believe, I need to know of which of the 22,000 Protestant denomination you belong to get an idea, but then within that you may believe at some variation with that denomination, but still fellowship principally within its membership and learn from its leadership, because that’s where you “feel you get get fed”.

    It is not like the Creed is unique to Orthodoxy. If you are part of one of the more historically rooted evangelical Protestant denominations, you will find that they may refer to the Creed as a summation of what they belief, perhaps supplemented by the Westminster Confession of Faith, or the Heidelberg Catechism, or some other Reformed formulation doctrine. Other denominations take a statement of faith type approach, such as the Assemblies of God and their 16 Fundamental Truths or the Statement of Faith of The Evangelical Free Church of America [link omitted to avoid spam blocking].

    So don’t think that creeds, confessions, catechisms, statements of faith, or whatever, are substitutes for the Bible. The merely provide a succinct (or sometimes not so succinct) formulation of how a group understand the key doctrines contained in the Holy Scriptures.

    And just for clarification, though there was a time when I followed the modern evangelical methodology of accepting Jesus, I have not known a time when I did not confess Jesus as Lord. (Thus the Baptists and their spiritual offspring will accept me because I used their method and was baptised after a profession of faith, while the Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Anglicans will recognise that I was a child of the covenant, even if my parents didn’t believe in infant baptism.)

    Kenneth J, as for your questions, they show such misunderstanding of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, I just don’t think you’d understand the answers if I tried to give them. Let me just say this: the Roman Church does have an eastern rite. This is not the same thing as Eastern Orthodoxy, which is in no way related to the Roman institution and in fact separated from it 500 years before the Protestant Reformation.

    BTW, the net is fully of testimonies of former Protestants as well. Nonetheless, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

  38. ME said

    Everyone seems to be well educated in this arena so I have a question I’ve been wondering about for years regarding the Catholic Church. Which I’m sure any of you can answer for me catholic or not.

    How is it that you can go to your church and confess your sins in a little closet to a priest and he says okay “I forgive you” or “your forgiven”?? Does the confessor really believe that he is forgiven, because he just asked a priest to do what Jesus does for us!!! If that were true, what’s the point of Jesus? Catholic’s don’t need Jesus. Absolutely none of that makes a bit of sense to me. I have never understood this concept since the only way to God is thru Jesus Christ! Does anyone know the answer to this, before I ask all my other questions.

    It seems to me the Catholicism is mostly a tradition!!

  39. Kenneth J said

    Dave,

    I understand more than you think I do. Both concerning Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

    As a new believer 98 years ago, I searched for the “one true church” and studied every document of the Roman church that I could find, including the official Vatican website. I read testimonies of such people as Scott Hahn and others who left their protestant denomination to adhere to Roman Catholicism.

    But when I studied the Bible and looked at what the church fathers believed(church fathers before Constantine) I came to understand that Roman Catholicism is not Biblical nor is it true Christianity. The orthodox church is an offshoot of the ROman Church and adheres to most of its tenants.

    That being said, no church organization/denomination saves anyone. It is Jesus Christ who saves through His word and the working of the Holy Spirit. Not adherance to sacraments or any other tradition of man.

  40. Dave said

    ME,

    How is it that you can go to your church and confess your sins in a little closet to a priest and he says okay “I forgive you” or “your forgiven”?? Does the confessor really believe that he is forgiven, because he just asked a priest to do what Jesus does for us!!!

    First of all, auricular confession is observed by Catholics, Orthodoxy, Lutherans, Anglicans, and perhaps other Christians.

    Second, the use of a confessional is an optional practice for Catholics. It merely provided a place of privacy. Don’t confuse common Catholic practice with what you see in the movies.

    Third, confession is made to God. The priest hears your confession and guides you to help you open up your heart and get everything out.

    Fourth, by “confessor” I assume you mean “penitent” – the term “confessor” general means one who hears confessions. And yes, he should really believe he is forgiven, because he has repented and asked God to forgive his sins. The priest simply declares God’s forgiveness. As Jesus told the Apostles in John 20:23: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

    The reason this a sacrament it because the hearing of the absolution is something that strengthens our faith. It is one thing to have the knowledge that if I do something (repent and confess to God) something else happens (I am forgiven). It is another to have a tangible experience of this by someone sent by Jesus (John 20:21 – “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”) telling us this, because we know that he has the authority to speak such a thing. The wording of the definition may vary with nuances of theology, but to use the Anglican wording, a sacrament “is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”

    The only way to God is through Jesus. However this happens by various means. The way to God is through the preaching of the Word, through reading the Bible, through taking up our cross and following Christ, through keeping a heart of repentence, though loving our neighbour as ourself. . . The death and resurrection of Jesus establish the basis of our relationship with God. When then must grow in grace. Sacraments like auricular confession and absolution are just a means of by which God gives us the grace to grow.

    Kenneth J,

    I didn’t realise the Vatican had a website 98 years ago.

    Clearly I disagree with your understanding of the ante-Nicene Fathers. But then again, I don’t have the Constantinian hangup, so I’m happy to understand the ante-Nicene Fathers in terms of the post-Nicene Fathers.

    As Orthodox of course we view the Roman Church as an offshoot of the Orthodox Church – that they are the schismatics and not we. They do hold to an number of our tenets, I suppose, even if they have taken some doctrines off into error. Like I said in comment 24, the Orthodox see Roman Church and Protestant churches as two sides of the same coin.

  41. Kenneth J said

    My mistake – shoulda been 8 years ago.

    I see that the biggest problem is interpretation of the Scriptures. You’re quoting verses, yet out of context and not consistant with the original meaning, nor with the whole teaching of the Scripture. An example is John 20:23 – The greek says “already done in heaven”. This goes back to my original question concerning what Christ accomplished on the cross and His words “It is finished.”

    How would you, or how does the Orthodox church interpret John 3 “water and Spirit”?

  42. ADB said

    Just joined in on this little debate after a while away. I would like to add that it is very misleading to label the Roman Catholic Church “Arminian.” The RCC had been around for 1500 years before Arminius. Arminius also did not teach a “works based” salvation. The key to Arminianism is that grace is not irresistable, meaning that the individual was free to reject the grace God offers. Most protestants are quite Arminian now, even a lot of Presbyerians even if they wouldn’t admit it! This being said, as a protestant, I do disagree with the sacramental system as taught by the Roman Catholic Church.

  43. Jantz said

    Dave—

    Can you give me your understanding of Galatians 2: 15-21… does it not state that if we can become righteous without Christ then Christ died in vain?

  44. Kenneth J said

    Arminius did teach a works based salvation – he rejected eternal security, he taught conditional security based on something a believer does(keep the faith).

    Roman Catholicism started off Biblical, but is no longer Biblical. We can see this quite easily by reading the so-called Roman Catholic leadership’s writings throughout its history and see the changes, contradictions, and distortions promoted by different popes, bishops, etc.

  45. Dave said

    Kenneth J,

    I see that the biggest problem is interpretation of the Scriptures.

    You are correct, sir. Hermauetics is approached very differently by the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and various Protestant traditions. Even to outline these various views would take more time and space than is appropriate in a combox on someone else’s blog.

    You’re quoting verses, yet out of context and not consistant with the original meaning, nor with the whole teaching of the Scripture.

    Clearly I disagree. But as the British Prime Minister would say, I refer the honourable gentleman to the reply I gave some moments ago.

    An example is John 20:23 – The greek says “already done in heaven”.

    I have to ask with which text you are working. I can’t find my Nestle-Aland/UBS, but I can’t find this phrase in my Scrivener 1894, or my Hodges/Farstad Majority Text (which is footnoted with the variants in the Alexandrian texts). There is only one word with variant readings, which is αφιενται in the Majority/TR text family, αφεωvται in Codex Alexandrinus, and αφεθησεται in Codex Sinaiticus. The first is present indicative passive, the second is perfect indicative passive, and the third is future indicative passive. Given that the parallel verb in the verse, κεκρατηνται, is perfect indicative passive, I would say the choice of the first verb is really down to the first two – the first on the witness of the vast majority of extant texts (and for me as Orthodox, because those are the text that have always been used by the Church through the centuries) and the second as it makes more literary sense, unless John is really trying to divulge a bit of theological minutae.

    I’m sure if I was back in my evangelical Christian college, I could have gotten a whole paper out of the theological implications of these variants. (And I probably would have gotten an A – I didn’t get a single B in Greek or Hebrew.) Ironically, as a Greek Orthodox, I care less about the finer points of Greek grammar. For the Orthodox, hermeneutics derived less from some new detail I can find in the text and jump on, and much more on what the Church has always taught. Since we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church in all truth (John 16:13-14), the Church is best equipped to say what is the original meaning and what is the whole teaching of Scripture. And yes, we believe that God has established the Church with an institutional framework which has developed from the groundwork laid out in Holy Scripture.

    But back to my original point, I’d love to see the variant of John 20:23 that includes the phrase “already done in heaven” even though it would almost certainly be from a single manuscript fragment.

    This goes back to my original question concerning what Christ accomplished on the cross and His words “It is finished.”

    The answer is in the context of the passage. Going back to verse 28: “After this [Jesus putting the care of his mother into the hands of the Apostle John, vs. 26-27] Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst.’” If you will forebear me not elaborating on the Greek and any slight textual variants (of which there are two), all things were accomplished. Everything that Jesus came to earth to do was accomplished. His redeeming work was complete. He gave up His flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51). Surely I could wax lyrical upon the power of the Cross, but just as surely I have taken up enough time here.

    Though it may sound paradoxical, to say that everything was accomplished is not to say that everything was completed, for Paul tells us very clearly, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” (I Cor 15:14) As Orthodox we focus as much on the Resurrection as we do the Crucifixion. To emphasize this, from Easter until Pentecost we greet everyone (and often begin our letters or emails) with the exclamation, “Christ is risen!”. During this period, all of our services (and for most people, even our personal prayers) begin by singing, “Christ is risen from the dead / trampling down death by death / and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!”

    But since you didn’t ask about what we believe about the Resurrection, I shall leave it there.

    How would you, or how does the Orthodox church interpret John 3 “water and Spirit”?

    That’s quite simple and straightforward. “Water” refers to baptism and “Spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit. This is the way it has always been understood, by Catholics, Orthodox, and most Protestants. Notably, this is the view of Protestant commentators across the theological spectrum, such as Albert Barnes, John Wesley, Matthew Henry, John Lightfoot, Adam Clarke, C.H. Dodd, R.C.H. Lenski, G.R. Beasley-Murray, Frederick Louis Godet, and William Hendriksen.

  46. Dave said

    Jantz,

    Can you give me your understanding of Galatians 2: 15-21… does it not state that if we can become righteous without Christ then Christ died in vain?

    As it is after 2:00 am here, I can’t give a verse-by-verse exegetical exposition, if that’s what you are wanting. Because I’m not clear on where you are going with this, or what particular thing I may have said previous that you are disputing, I fear I may not focus on what you are after.

    It appears that your comment comes from the very end of Paul’s rebuke of Peter in verse 21, which says, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

    As a synopsis, the passage as a whole says that the source of justification is faith, not the works of the law.

    If you can be a little more specific, so can I.

  47. ADB said

    Dave,

    I commend the thoroughness of your responses. I’m sure that we might disagree on some finer points, but you seem to be a very conscientious student of the scriptures.

    Kenneth,

    As to your comment about Arminianism. I respect your passion, but wish you could be thoughtful and well-read as well. Keep the passion, but really study as well to find yourself “a workman well approved.” As I write this I am aware that this may seem personal and apologize in advance.

  48. Dave said

    ADB, you are very kind. The discussion on this topic has been quite invigorating.

  49. Stuart,

    You ask RaynaRenee above: “I am wrestling with your last statement——don’t you think that once redeemed, man bears His righteosness, and becomes His Temple(I Cor 6:19-20) and a new creation(2 Cor 5:17)—not of our own doing of course, but when we become sons of God (Jn 1:12) and the ‘vessels of mercy’—and we are ‘in Christ’ and Christ is in us? yes he’s at the right hand, but don’t we bear his rigtheousness?”

    Rayna is right on target. This is exactly right. Our righteousness in justification is wholly and totally outside of ourselves. Our righteousness is as Luther stated, extra nos (outside of us). It is an alien righteousness imputed to us not inused as taught in the Roman Catholic Church. In the Institutes, Calvin discusses how believers are righteous not in themselves but in Christ. For example, Calvin writes, “…it is evident that we are justified before God solely by the intercession of Christ’s righteousnes. This is equivalent to saying that man is not righteous in himself but because the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation…there is no doubt that he who is taught to seek righteousness outside himself is destitute of righteousness in himself…(II Cor. 5:21)…You see that our righteousness is not in us but in Christ, that we possess it only because we are partakers in Christ; indeed, with him we possess all its riches…To declare (i.e., Rom. 5:19) that by him alone we are accounted righteous, what else is this but to lodge our righteousness in Christ’s obedience, because the obedience of Christ is reckoned to us as if it were our own?” (III. XI. XXIII.).

    Earlier, Calvin quoting Augustine, writes, “The righteousness of the saints in this world consists more in the forgivness of sins than in perfection of virtues.” Quoting Bernard, Calvin notes, “Not to sin is the righteousness of God; but the righteousness of man is the grace of God…Christ is our righteousness in absolution, and therefore those alone are righteous who obtain pardon from his mercy.” (Instittutes, III. XI. XXII.)

  50. Ooops. I was typing too quickly and noticed a spelling error above. This sentence should read, “It is an alien righteousness imputed to us not INFUSED as taught in the Roman Catholic Church.” Gospel blessings! 🙂

  51. Dave said:

    Since Catholics view the Church in heaven as just as much alive as the Church on earth, they have no problem asking those in heaven to intercede just like asking those on the earth to intercede for them. That the saints in heaven involved in earthly prayer is plainly Scriptural. After all, John looked into heaven and saw the twenty-four elders with “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev. 5:8) From Luke 16 we know that both the rich man and Abraham realise that Abraham could have arranged for the beggar to have been raised from the dead, but refused to hear the request (prayer) of the rich man in the place of torment.

    –Of course in context, Rev 5 is apocalyptic language. It isn’t restricted to the saints in heaven, which is the host of all the redeemed there at the time, e.g the church triumphant as a whole, not a list of preferred heroes called “saints.” It includes all the people of God on heaven and earth as well. Where is there a reference to intercession here? What we have here is praise to Christ for redeeming people from all classes and places and language and creating a universal kingdom of priests to God who reign over the earth, fulfilling the covenant of creation itself, eg. combined together the church gathered together as an eschatological whole.

    Where’s the argument for prayers to the dead “saints” in the Roman Catholic or Orthodox sense here, for in Catholicism, a “saint” isn’t just anybody, it’s a special class of canonized persons. It’s not there. They aren’t pictured interceding in heaven for those on earth when those on earth pray to them.

    Then you have Rev. 8. What we have here is a reference not to a specific cadre of canonized persons but of all the people of God and their prayers, pictured like incense, an image going back to the OT. The angel “adds it” to the prayers, because the prayers of God’s people are deficient, formal, etc….the very thing that your ritualized prayers in particular are I might add. The prayers are perfected before God by the incense, which is symbolic not of the prayers of special saints to whom we pray and then they pray on our behalf to God, but to the grace of God Himself joining the prayers of all His people together in unity and harmony as the Spirit intercedes for us to complete that which is deficient on our part. The reference to any “intercession” would be via the incense, and the one interceding in heaven for us, according to Scripture is Christ Himself, not “the saints.”

    I’m sure they do pray for us; I can’t think of a reason my grandmother isn’t in the heavenly Temple praising God and praying for our family, but, in truth that’s a nice sentiment, and where’s the argument that would link that intercession, if true, to a practice of veneration for them or a specific group of canonized persons and prayers to them? It’s not there.

    And Luke 16 is irrelevant to prayers of the saints.

    What Catholics are doing is committing several exegetical fallacies, not to mention violating his own rule of faith by engaging in private speculation.

    Dave says:

    Catholics (and others – I’m not RC myself) do things because the Bible says so, not despite it.

    The problem here is that Rome has issued very few infallible interpretations of Scripture and Orthodoxy even less. To say that Catholics and the Orthodox do what they do because the Bible says so, is to invoke the Protestant rule of faith.

    In Romanism and Orthodoxy, however, that involves “private speculation.”

    So, Dave does not seem to understand his own rule of faith.

    Dave says:

    The issue of biblical interpretation and sources of hermaneutical authority is much more complex than “read The Holy Bible and see for yourself” – otherwise there wouldn’t be 22,000 Protestant denominations, most of them Evangelical.

    Dave says he’s not Catholic but he repeats items that are derived from the Catholic Answers forums as if they have not been answered. “22,000 denominations” is a myth, for it takes two independent Baptist churches or associations and calls that a “denomination.” That’s fallacious argumentation and has been long ago proven false.

    And it isn’t as if Orthodoxy and Catholicism are immune from schisms.

    It’s telling that Dave admits to being Orthodox, yet the Orthodox are as big a set of ecclesiolaters as Romanists, and, for all his claims to being saved by faith in Christ, he commits several more fallacies.

    For starters, the issue isn’t “Are we saved by faith?” Scripture’s formula is “justified by faith, saved by grace.”

    And, Orthodoxy waffles on its views here.

    There are those in Orthodoxy who will even accept a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness into communion.

    “For this reason we receive those who were baptized in other Christian communions through Chrismation, making up by economia that which was lacking – full baptism being for those un-baptized at all (whether previously of no religion or from a non-Christian faith) or who were ‘baptised’ by a pseudo-Christian or heretical group (such as Mormon or Jehovah’s Witnesses). Having said this, however, the fact remains in that, as the Orthodox Church reveals the pleroma (fullness) of Christ to the world, those outside have still the duty to seek refuge among us for the time grows short [Acts.2:38-40; Rom.13:11].” (Antiochene Orthodox Church).

    But the wider truth here is that Orthodoxy is quite shifty on this, and Orthodox theology has not pronounced itself officially on this point (which is a problem for you, since that means you’re speculating on this issue), for on the one hand, there are those who have simply “inherited” an alien confession who *might* be saved,

    The Holy Orthodox Church is the repository of the divinely revealed Truth in all its fullness and fidelity to apostolic Tradition. Hence, he who leaves the Church, who intentionally and consciously falls away from it, joins the ranks of its opponents and becomes a renegade as regards apostolic Tradition. The Church dreadfully anathematized such renegades, in accordance with the words of the Saviour Himself (Matt. 18:17) and of the Apostle Paul (Gal. 1:8-9), threatening them with e ternal damnation and calling them to return to the Orthodox fold. It is self evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman Catholics, or Lutherans, or members, of other non-Orthodox confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics—i.e. those who knowingly pervert the truth…* They have been born and raised and are living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The Lord, “Who will have all men to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4) and “Who enlightens every man born into the world” (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation In His own way. (Orthodox Life Magazine)

    but on the other if you, being Orthodox, leave the one true church, you, Dave, are taught you will be damned.

    You ask, will the heterodox be saved… Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins… I will tell you one thing, however: should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever.” (Theophan the Recluse).

    So, there you have it, Dave, according to Holy Tradition, if you leave Orthodoxy, you’ll be damned forever, so, yes, saving faith is, for you, sir, concomitant to being part of the Orthodox Church. Your faith is therefore divided and this is why you cannot be saved while in a state of ecclesiolatry.

  52. Me said

    Dave,
    Thank you for your explanations of:
    The priest hears your confession and guides you to help you open up your heart and get everything out.
    I guess I have just always relied on the “Holy Spirit to guide me in everything I do.
    and you stated that:

    The priest simply declares God’s forgiveness. I’m stuck on that one though. Again, that’s what Jesus does for us, he is the intercessor to God on our behalf.

    I’m obviously not a scholar like the rest of this group, just a simple christian who acknowledges that the Lord is my savior and yes I have read the bible and am now studing it in depth. With particular interest in Revelations and the 7 letters to the 7 churches.
    Catholicism is full of tradtions and on doing good works. When I was on a trip to Italy Pope John Paul (at the time) made an appearance on his balcony and the crowd was so excited and when he came out and waved everyone bowed!! Except for a handful of people like myself, of course!!
    Oh well!

  53. Dave said

    Gene,

    I can see it’s going to be another long night. That’s the problem with commenting on a blog from at least five times zones ahead of everyone else.

    Of course in context, Rev 5 is apocalyptic language. It isn’t restricted to the saints in heaven, which is the host of all the redeemed there at the time, e.g the church triumphant as a whole, not a list of preferred heroes called “saints.” It includes all the people of God on heaven and earth as well.

    I think you are trying to put words in my combox. The term “saints” here refers to the Church on earth. I think you will find a lot of Protestant commentators agree, though I haven’t time to dig through them.

    Where is there a reference to intercession here?

    Sorry, that was back in I Tim 2:1. Even though Paul uses four words to describe those things that are to be “made for all men”, I don’t think the fact he uses both eντευξις (a word that only appears twice and both times in I Timothy) and προσευχή means that John’s used of the latter in the Revelation precludes “prayer” encompassing all aspects of communication with God.

    What we have here is praise to Christ for redeeming people from all classes and places and language and creating a universal kingdom of priests to God who reign over the earth, fulfilling the covenant of creation itself, eg. combined together the church gathered together as an eschatological whole.

    I think the eschatological aspects of the Revelation are for another place. Both Protestants and Orthodox have a wide range of views on this. However, as the twenty-four elders (representative of the Church in heaven, again as per a host of Protestant views) are doing one action in verse 8 and another in verse 9, there is no reason to suggest that the action is verse 9 is simply a restating of the action in verse 8.

    Where’s the argument for prayers to the dead “saints” in the Roman Catholic or Orthodox sense here, for in Catholicism, a “saint” isn’t just anybody, it’s a special class of canonized persons. It’s not there. They aren’t pictured interceding in heaven for those on earth when those on earth pray to them.

    Well, if I can separate the apples and oranges (and red herrings) . . . We are going to start with a hermeneutical problem, because Orthodox do not approach Holy Scripture as a place to find arguments for anything. Catholics and Orthodox approach the recognition of saints in very different ways. But again, this has nothing to do with Revelation 5 (or 8, for that matter). Once again, you seem to be putting words in my combox. The Orthodox Church would say that everyone in heaven is praying, that is, communicating with God, in intercessions, praise, supplications, and any other nuance we can include.

    The angel “adds it” to the prayers, because the prayers of God’s people are deficient, formal, etc….the very thing that your ritualized prayers in particular are I might add.

    I’m glad to know that we agree that all of our prayers are deficient, since we only know in part. I was not aware that mine were particularly more deficient than yours, but thank you for pointing that out. I hope that God doesn’t hold my “ritualized” prayers against me so much that He doesn’t listen to the ones I make up on the spot.

    I am sorry to know that He finds it so lacking that my family rejoices so much in the glorious Resurrection of Christ our God and Saviour that we cannot help but sing “Christ is risen from the dead / trampling down death by death / and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” constantly for 50 days. (I think that’s the only one of my “ritualized” prayers I’ve mentioned.) He probably dislikes even more that we invariably sing it three times in a row!

    The reference to any “intercession” would be via the incense, and the one interceding in heaven for us, according to Scripture is Christ Himself, not “the saints.” I’m sure they do pray for us; I can’t think of a reason my grandmother isn’t in the heavenly Temple praising God and praying for our family, but, in truth that’s a nice sentiment, and where’s the argument that would link that intercession, if true, to a practice of veneration for them or a specific group of canonized persons and prayers to them? It’s not there.

    You do wander all over the place getting from A to B to C. So Jesus is the incense and only Jesus is praying for us, but then your grandmother is praying for you, and then you are looking for an argument that this is somehow linked to veneration?

    Let’s just work with the tail end of this. I can’t think of a reason why your grandmother isn’t praying for your family, either. So we agree on something. Veneration is merely to show respect or honour. I’m guessing you venerated your grandmother while she was on earth. In leaving behind a corruptible flesh, your grandmother hasn’t become less of a person. As you note, she is very much alive. She deserves as much honour now as then. When your grandmother was alive, you could call her up or visit her and say, “Grandma (or whatever you call her), pray for me about this.” I don’t know what your grandmother’s hearing was like then, but she certainly isn’t deaf now. We know the dead can hear. (Luke 8:54-55; John 11:43)
    And Luke 16 is irrelevant to prayers of the saints.
    Thank you for clarifying that. I’ll just take your word for it, since that’s all you’re offering.
    It’s an advocacy strategy we learned back in law school: “When the law is against you, pound on the facts. When the facts are against you, pound on the law. When the law and the facts are against you, pound on the table.”
    What Catholics are doing is committing several exegetical fallacies, not to mention violating his own rule of faith by engaging in private speculation.
    What are or are not exegetical fallacies are governed by our approach to the Scriptures. Nonetheless, it appears you are basing this statement on the misconception that everything the Catholic Church teaches about prayer and the saints is bound up in these verses out of the Revelation. The fallacy, it would appear, is yours.

    It is not private speculation to agree with the teaching of the Church.

    The problem here is that Rome has issued very few infallible interpretations of Scripture and Orthodoxy even less. To say that Catholics and the Orthodox do what they do because the Bible says so, is to invoke the Protestant rule of faith.

    Again, we have a lot of mixed up arguments here. You seem to be blending the Roman idea of papal infallibility (a rather recent thing) with the Roman view of Holy Tradition and the Orthodox view. Orthodoxy doesn’t “issue” anything other than by Ecumenical Council, the last of which was in 787.

    The Church was around before the Bible. The Church began in AD30 (more or less – let’s not get off into arguments about exact dating). The last book now in the canon was composed sometime between 68 and 100 (allowing for all views about the dating of the Revelation), but it took a long time for all of it to be available everywhere and the first extant list of the NT canon that is identical to what we use today is in Athanasius’ Festal Letter of 367.

    So technically speaking, the Church doesn’t believe what the Bible says, rather the Bible says what the Church believes. Now that is not at all the Protestant rule, so not only will that put a bee in your theological (or one might say bibliolatrous) bonnet, but you will no doubt find further reason to believe that I cannot be saved.

    Much is made of the reliance of Catholics and Orthodox on tradition. It might be help to explain how the Orthodox understand this. Sometimes we distinguish between TRADITION, Tradition, and tradition to help visualise it. TRADITION is that which has been handed down by the Apostles. That’s what’s referred to in II Thess 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” In other words, in the Holy Scripture and orally. “Tradition” is that which may have developed over time, but which the Church universally recognises is the result of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Whereas “tradition” is something that may even be local or regional, something that may be spiritually beneficial and which may be a common unifying practice.

    Dave does not seem to understand his own rule of faith.

    Does slipping into the third person indicate the move from argument to ad hominem?

    Dave says he’s not Catholic

    I’ve read the rules on your own blog. I know you know what ad hominem means.

    “22,000 denominations” is a myth. . . That’s fallacious argumentation and has been long ago proven false.

    You are correct. Since every Protestant is a pope unto himself, the argument should be that each and every Protestant constitutes his own ultimate authority on the interpretation of Holy Scripture. My apologies for using something from a Papist website.

    And it isn’t as if Orthodoxy and Catholicism are immune from schisms.

    And your point is? We’re fallible and sinners, too. Who’d’ve thunk it?

    It’s telling that Dave admits to being Orthodox

    Why would I pretend to be something else? I suppose then it’s telling that Gene admits to being Protestant, and a Baptist, at that! (Sorry, read your profile over on your blog.)

    for all his claims to being saved by faith in Christ . . .

    How dare I!

    For starters, the issue isn’t “Are we saved by faith?” Scripture’s formula is “justified by faith, saved by grace.”

    Wait, didn’t I say that back in comment 16? So you are telling me I’m wrong by quoting my argument? I think we have a channel that needs fine tuning here, ‘cause we got some fuzzy thinking going on.

    There are those in Orthodoxy who will even accept a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness into communion.

    No, sorry, we don’t even accept Baptists or Catholics.

    . . . (Antiochene Orthodox Church)

    Taking a reflection by one priest on a talk given by another priest, is not the same as an official pronouncement by an entire patriarchate. Surely even someone who eschews everything to do with episcopal ecclesiology knows that much. But perhaps it would be more charitable for me to suggest that you didn’t know this, because otherwise that would be to lay a charge of dishonesty at your door.

    That being said, you clear do not understand what Fr Chrysostom is saying, since he refers to the JWs and Mormons as a ”pseudo-Christian or heretical group”.

    By the way, the issue of validating previous baptisms is a matter of wide differences within Orthodoxy and there is a significant variation in the early Church. Some Orthodox will accept a Trinitarian baptism from a heretical or even pseudo-Christian group – some will even accept it from Baptists, in case you ever need that information – whist others will insist that a previous, non-Orthodox baptism is invalid and require baptism before chrismation. They aren’t accepted as Mormons or JWs or Baptists or anything else. They are accepted as those who have rejected former errors and confessed Christ as revealed in the Scriptures and set out in the Creed. (see comment 37 above before you start telling me what I think about the Creed)

    But the wider truth here is that Orthodoxy is quite shifty on this

    That’s us. We’re a shifty lot. Always ducking and diving and changing our theology – at least every couple of thousand years or so.

    and Orthodox theology has not pronounced itself officially on this point

    Which part didn’t you get about the whole official pronouncements thing?

    . . . (Orthodox Life Magazine)

    Ah, yes, the Jourdanville folks. As you said, Orthodoxy is not immune from schisms. This one would take way too long to explain.

    . . . (Theophan the Recluse)

    Not exactly a Church Father (of whom we usually say 100% of them were 85% Orthodox, but that’s for another time), but very respected – that’s “venerated” for those of you keeping score at home. I respect my parents, too, but they aren’t always right. I even respect both of my godly grandmothers (one Assemblies of God and the other Southern Baptist – they will have probably met your grandmother by now), but even they weren’t always right.

    So, there you have it, Dave, according to Holy Tradition

    Good, we’re back in the second person. That’s a nice change to have you speak to me rather than about me. But you haven’t mentioned anything that has anything to do with Holy Tradition. See above. Sorry.

    Your faith is therefore divided and this is why you cannot be saved while in a state of ecclesiolatry.

    I will have to agree with St Theophan, that we both “have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being.” And conveniently, I desire very much to be saved as well. I probably don’t have everything just right theologically. I know in part. “Nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

  54. I think you are trying to put words in my combox. The term “saints” here refers to the Church on earth. I think you will find a lot of Protestant commentators agree, though I haven’t time to dig through them

    I’m pulling from Protestant commentaries: to limit them to being on earth or in heaven is too restrictive.

    I would also point out that Rev. 5 is a favorite Catholic prooftext for prayers of the saints in heaven. The logic looks like this: The saints in Heaven are praying (see Rev 5:8 and 8:3-4). And these saints in Heaven are as alive as you and I (see Matt 22:32-33, Mark 12:26-27, Luke 20-37-38). So, expecting intercession of the saints is not without Biblical precedence. FYI, this comes directly from my own interactions with Roman Catholics.

    And from Catholic Answers: In any event, it is clear from Revelation 5:8 that the saints in heaven do actively intercede for us. We are explicitly told by John that the incense they offer to God are the prayers of the saints. Prayers are not physical things and cannot be physically offered to God. Thus the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God mentally. In other words, they are interceding.

    Sorry, that was back in I Tim 2:1. Even though Paul uses four words to describe those things that are to be “made for all men”, I don’t think the fact he uses both eντευξις (a word that only appears twice and both times in I Timothy) and προσευχή means that John’s used of the latter in the Revelation precludes “prayer” encompassing all aspects of communication with God.

    That isn’t the argument. Rather the question I’m asking is how you can get praying to saints in heaven based on their intercession for us from that vantage point out of Revelation 5?

    In context 1 Timothy 2:1 is discussing the prayers of believers on earth, not in heaven. It is irrelevant to prayers to saints in heaven and any “intercession” that those saints may make for those on earth. In context, he’s talking about believers praying for all kinds of men, including kings and those in authority, so it provides no exegetical warrant for the Catholic practice in dispute here.

    are doing one action in verse 8 and another in verse 9, there is no reason to suggest that the action is verse 9 is simply a restating of the action in verse 8.

    On the contrary, 9 is epexegetical to 8. That’s typical of Johanine style. They tell Christ is worthy to open the scroll, which presumes a call for judgment which is then followed by praise, and “Protestant commentators” that favor restriction to the saints on earth in v. 8 refer to those prayers their prayers for judgment – not intercessory prayers, which is my whole point; you have to run to 1 Timothy 2:1 to fill in the blanks for Rev. 5. Where is the exegetical warrant for that argument?

    Catholics and Orthodox approach the recognition of saints in very different ways.

    A. I specifically referred to the Romanist group

    B. I alluded to the lack of support, however, for the Orthodox view as well. The Roman Catholic system of canonization of Saints differs from that of the glorification of Saints by Orthodoxy and the difference lies mainly in how both understand what a saint is; the process involves martyrdom, miracles, the incorruption of relics, and the Church through its hierarchy and laity enters them into the liturgy or the calendar, depending on the Orthodox Communion, but, when all is said and done, the practice of such prayers is generally with regard to: Apostles, Martyrs, Fathers, Monastics, Prophets, and the rather vague category of “the Just.” So, even in Orthodoxy, it isn’t as if you can pray to just anybody you want. Functionally, Rome’s practice and yours cash out at the same place and lack the same exegetical warrant.

    Well, if I can separate the apples and oranges (and red herrings) . . . We are going to start with a hermeneutical problem, because Orthodox do not approach Holy Scripture as a place to find arguments for anything.

    This, of course, would contradict the statements of the Orthodox spokespersons who represent Orthodoxy on my blog, and it would also directly contradict your own appeals to Scripture like this: Catholics (and others – I’m not RC myself) do things because the Bible says so, not despite it.. So, I’ll file this away for future reference.

    I am sorry to know that He finds it so lacking that my family rejoices so much in the glorious Resurrection of Christ our God and Saviour that we cannot help but sing “Christ is risen from the dead / trampling down death by death / and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” constantly for 50 days. (I think that’s the only one of my “ritualized” prayers I’ve mentioned.) He probably dislikes even more that we invariably sing it three times in a row!

    Sincerity and sentiment are no measure of saving faith.

    You do wander all over the place getting from A to B to C. So Jesus is the incense and only Jesus is praying for us, but then your grandmother is praying for you, and then you are looking for an argument that this is somehow linked to veneration?

    You really should learn how to follow an argument:

    Jesus is the one making intercession for believers in Scripture on the basis of the atonement.

    I never said “Jesus” is the incense. Rather, incense is a typical Jewish image for prayers, an OT image (Ps. 141). So, the incense would be what? I’ll let you fill in the blank.

    And I referred to my grandmother as a sentiment only.

    So, you can’t seem to represent the opposing position correctly.

    Veneration is merely to show respect or honour.

    In Catholic theology, “veneration” takes on a distinction between “latria” and “duleia.” That’s a Scholastic distinction elevated to a normative practice. Where’s the supporting argument?

    I don’t know what your grandmother’s hearing was like then, but she certainly isn’t deaf now. We know the dead can hear. (Luke 8:54-55; John 11:43)

    This is an argument for analogy minus the argument.

    A. I’m not calling my grandmother to rise from the grave. People on earth calling people to rise from the dead isn’t equivalent to prayers to the saints.

    B. Praying to your dead grandmother is not equivalent to Romanism’s doctrine of praying to the saints or that of Orthodoxy.

    C. So, you’re argument fails at two critical points of analogy.

    Thank you for clarifying that. I’ll just take your word for it, since that’s all you’re offering. It’s an advocacy strategy we learned back in law school: “When the law is against you, pound on the facts. When the facts are against you, pound on the law. When the law and the facts are against you, pound on the table.”

    I’m not the one arguing that Luke 16 is relevant. So, take your legal education and develop a supporting argument that it is. The burden of proof isn’t on me to show it isn’t relevant; the burden is on you to show it is. So far what is argued is something like this: Luke 16 says that the rich man asked Abraham to do something on earth and Abraham refused. Therefore, it follows the dead can make intercession for us and we can pray to them.

    Does Catholic theology teach we should pray to people in hell? No.

    What are or are not exegetical fallacies are governed by our approach to the Scriptures.

    No, they are governed by the rules of grammatical-historical exegesis. That’s basic biblical hermeneutics, and its one to which modern Catholic commenators stipulate as well, like Fitzmeyer and it goes back all the way to the Antiochene School. You can choose allegory if you wish, but that was long ago abandoned by Catholic scholarship.

    Nonetheless, it appears you are basing this statement on the misconception that everything the Catholic Church teaches about prayer and the saints is bound up in these verses out of the Revelation.

    No, I’m merely pegging my replies to your own statements. I reply to people when they make them, and I’ve seen this same line of argumentation before.

    It is not private speculation to agree with the teaching of the Church.

    Appealing to Holy Tradition to validate a private conclusion about Scripture drawn from Holy Tradition is viciously circular.

    And it would mean that you derive your views not from Scripture (per you claim that the Orthodox do not approach Scripture as a place to find arguments from Scripture) but from ecclesiastical tradition.

    Where has “the Church” infallibly interpreted these Scriptures for you? Where can I find the list?

    And how do you know that the Orthodox Church is the One True Church? Because the Church says so? That, too, is viciously circular.

    Where can we find the official Bible of the Eastern Orthodox church?

    TRADITION is that which has been handed down by the Apostles. That’s what’s referred to in II Thess 2:15…In other words, in the Holy Scripture and orally.

    A classic example of semantic anachronism. The disputant maps dogmatic usage back onto Biblical usage, then appeals to Biblical usage, thus redefined, to disprove contrary dogmatic usage or prove his own. Tradition in this text does not differ with the content of Scripture or add to it, it is simply the gospel itself for it is epexegetical to 2:14 and in the flow of 2 Thess, the focus is holding onto the gospel.

    Where does this text speak of traditions handed down orally separately with information different than what is contained in Scripture and then passed down to us to the present day? Where can I find this list of teachings?

    “Tradition” is that which may have developed over time, but which the Church universally recognises is the result of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
    And how do you know the Church is led by the Holy Spirit?

    Again, we have a lot of mixed up arguments here. You seem to be blending the Roman idea of papal infallibility (a rather recent thing) with the Roman view of Holy Tradition and the Orthodox view

    Yes, I am well aware of the Orthodox rule of faith, and I am well aware of the claim to epistemic certainty within it. You need a teaching office to provide you with something more than private speculation in order to give you certainty, that’s the conservative view.

    Infallibility is the attribute of the Church whereby, through the power of the Holy Spirit residing in her, the teaching entrusted to her is safeguarded from all error and the word of truth is rightly upheld. (Harkanasis, The Infallibility of the Church in Orthodox Theology)

    More liberal Orthodox scholars disagree:

    a rejection of the doctrine of the infallibility of the Church may provide an opportunity for the Church of the future to deal more easily with its errors. (Review of The Infallibility of the Church: An Unorthodox Perspective: Nick Trakakis, Journal: Theandros).

    Orthodoxy doesn’t “issue” anything other than by Ecumenical Council, the last of which was in 787./

    Funny, I’ve had representatives of Orthodoxy deny this very thing and state that Orthodoxy doesn’t do that. Why can’t Orthodoxy’s internet spokespersons get their stories straight?

    Here’s one interloctuer @ my blog: “There is no contradiction whatsoever between claiming that something is and always was an apostolic tradition and recognizing that the church fathers held a variety of views. I could in theory hold the position that say, only 10% of fathers held my view, and 90% didn’t. It doesn’t mean the 10% were wrong when the church was led to recognise the truth. I wouldn’t generally argue this was the case, but it matters not if that’s how it played out. You keep failing to recognize that I don’t need all the early church to agree with me.”

    This same person also stated categorically that Orthodoxy does NOT need the authority of councils and popes behind its doctrine. So, whom do I believe?

    And here’s Fr. John Fenton talking about the lack of confessional documents in Orthodoxy:

    14.2 The Liturgy as the Church’s Preeminent Confession of the Faith

    A principal reason for this ambivalent position of “symbolical books” within Eastern Orthodoxy lies, however, in the distinctively Eastern versions, articulated in a special way in the Philokalia, of the inseparable connection between “the rule of prayer [lex orandi]” and “the rule of faith [lex credendi].” That connection has been important throughout Christian history, across the various boundaries of denomination and confession, also in the West. But interpreters of the Eastern Orthodox tradition, whether sympathetic or critical, are agreed on the proposition that within Eastern Orthodoxy The Divine Liturgy According to Saint John Chrysostom is an especially forceful illustration of the universal principle of lex orandi lex credendi; as noted earlier, it differs from the liturgies of other traditions, including even The Book of Common Prayer of Anglicanism, by being accorded a special position among the Eastern Orthodox confessions in the standard published collections of “symbolical books.” Anastasios Kallis…introduced his edition of the liturgy with the explanation: “The identity of Orthodoxy consists neither in a doctrine nor in an organizational system, but in the correct praise of the Triune God, which has its center in the celebration of the Eucharist, or simply in the Liturgy, through which the one congregation assembled in the name of Christ becomes his body, his church.” (Credo, Jarislov Pelikan, 405).

    So, for Pelikan, it’s liturgy is what’s important.

    I’d also add that Orthodoxy has held many a Synod, such as the Synod of Jerusalem, since that time, and it has participated in many a council with the West, like the Council of Florence. So, if it doesn’t “issue” anything other than by Ecumenical Council, why these events?

    What’s the authentic voice of Orthodoxy? Indeed, what’s the authentic voice of Russian Orthodoxy, just for starters? Is it the Metropolitan of ROCOR or the Patriarch of Moscow? Who adjudicates a dispute like that?

    Further, running to councils is problematic, for it raises a fresh set of issues.

    Take the long ending of Mark. Did Jesus really speak those words or not? Where has Orthodoxy spoken to this? The words attributed to him lay down criteria for what makes a professing believer to be a true believer. Now, if the EO tradition affirms the authenticity of these words, and if these signs do not accompany EO believers, then EO believers are self-deluded. So it makes a big difference whether someone put these words in his mouth or not. Your eternal fate hangs in the balance.

    What’s your reason for taking the ecumenical councils as having the last word? By what criteria do you identify an ecumenical council? Why do you attribute infallibility to an ecumenical council? Or do you?

    But let’s assume a council is authoritative. Who gets to interpret the council, and how do you know they got their interpretation correct?

    In other words, how is grounding the rule of faith in a council or “Holy Tradition” superior to Scripture alone? Let’s take the definition of the term “person” in Chalcedon. Which definition do we use? The original authors’? Boethius? The theologians of East and West during the Middle Ages? Some of those, like Boethius would lead us into Tritheism. The point is that, at some point, somebody has to interpret the councils, and adding a layer of “tradition” between the individual communicant and the council does nothing superior to Sola Scriptura, because, unless that communicant checks his intellect at the door, he or she still has to know that interpretation is correct. In short, Orthodox argument of epistemic certainty simply doesn’t cash out at a place functionally different from ours, and, in fact, puts him at a substantial disadvantage, for an error can creep into Holy Tradition and become firmly established over and above Scripture.

    Is the Holy Tradition you’re referring to is part of the historical record,? If it’s not part of the historical record, then where is it? If it’s something you’ve received orally from other Eastern Orthodox, then how do you know that it’s correct? Individual Eastern Orthodox aren’t infallible, and even a majority of Eastern Orthodox can be mistaken. And if becoming Eastern Orthodox makes us aware of the Tradition, then why do Eastern Orthodox disagree with each other about things like the canon?

    The Church began in AD30 (more or less – let’s not get off into arguments about exact dating). The last book now in the canon was composed sometime between 68 and 100 (allowing for all views about the dating of the Revelation), but it took a long time for all of it to be available everywhere and the first extant list of the NT canon that is identical to what we use today is in Athanasius’ Festal Letter of 367.

    I am more than aware of these facts, and I’m also aware this presents a bit of a problem for you, since that letter was not part of an ecumenical council. Pray tell, where has Orthodoxy infallibly defined the canon of which you speak, given your statement about ecumenical councils?

    Does slipping into the third person indicate the move from argument to ad hominem?

    No, or was that a rhetorical question?

    I’ve read the rules on your own blog. I know you know what ad hominem means.

    Yes, I do, and I didn’t attack your character.

    I suppose then it’s telling that Gene admits to being Protestant,,,

    Of course, I’m not the one claiming to be part of the One True Church defined as a visible institution; so what we have is an Orthodox churchman defending Rome…I find that a somewhat amusing exercise in ecclesiolatry.

    You are correct. Since every Protestant is a pope unto himself, the argument should be that each and every Protestant constitutes his own ultimate authority on the interpretation of Holy Scripture. My apologies for using something from a Papist website.

    A. Another argument from a Romanist website, regarding “Protestants being their own Popes”

    B. And a stellar example of ad homineum, since this is intended as an insult.

    C. Which would demonstrate that Dave operates with two sets of standards, one for us and one for him.

    D. Speaking of Scripture in Orhodoxy:

    “A consensus exists among scholars that the 6C BC, and more especially the time and place of the Babylonian Exile, was the matrix from which the Hebrew Pentateuch and most of the prophetic books emerged in their final written form,” Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church, M. Prokurat et al. (Scarecrow Press 1996), 293.

    Gee, where do you suppose that came from? 19C German higher criticism. So mainstream Orthodox scholarship has been influenced by liberal Lutheran scholarship. So much for your objections to the Protestant rule of faith, for if true, so much for the current state of Orthodox biblical scholarship.

    And where is the list of infallible interpretations of Scripture issued by Rome or Constantinople? You’re left with precious little more than being your own Pope, for you still have to decide if Holy Tradition is true and which parts of it are the ones you’ll follow since not everything in HT agrees.

    And your point is? We’re fallible and sinners, too. Who’d’ve thunk it?

    No, the point is that, if you’re going to argue about denominationalism, your communion and that of Rome are functionally no better off, for your respective rules of faith haven’t prevented schism. To argue against denominationalism is to point the finger @ yourself.

    And you appear to be defining a successful rule of faith as: everyone agrees. Two problems:

    i) Is that how the Bible defines its own function? To the contrary, the word of God was meant to be divisive. For example, this is a running theme in the Gospel of John. The preaching of Jesus has a polarizing effect on the Jews. Some Jews side with Jesus, while other Jews turn away (e.g. Jn 3:19-21; 6:60-71).

    ii) Another, related function of Scripture is to harden certain listeners (e.g. Jer 7:16; 11:14; 18:11-12; Ezk 2:3-7; Isa 6:9-10; 63:17).

    The Bible is not designed to make everyone agree. To the contrary, it was, in some measure, intended to have the opposite effect—a winnowing effect.

    You have a man-made theory of what a rule of faith is supposed to accomplish—a theory which runs counter to the self-witness of Scripture.

    iii) Even on his own grounds, the Orthodox rule of faith “fails.” Consider, for example, the schism involving the Old Believers, who repudiated the liturgical reforms of Patriarch Nikon.

    “And then the complaint turns to the Russian church of a few hundred years ago??? What of the Russian church now, they are both literate and have access to the bible in vernacular, and yet the protestant churches there are floundering, a great many are leaving and returning to Orthodoxy.”

    Wait, didn’t I say that back in comment 16? So you are telling me I’m wrong by quoting my argument? I think we have a channel that needs fine tuning here, ‘cause we got some fuzzy thinking going on.

    No, for you didn’t say anything about justification; rather you spoke of “salvation” as being a matter of God’s work. We are justified by faith, saved by grace, but in synergisitic theology, this equivocates over grace’s function. In synergism, grace is quantitative, not qualitative.

    In Reformed theology, it is qualitative not quanitative, and Sola Fide is a species of Sola Gratia.

    So, what you give with one hand, you actually take away, since Orthodoxy is decidedly cast in Semi-Pelagian terms.

    Even Arminianism, by way of contrast, is cast in semi-Augustinian terms.

    Further, in Orthodoxy, theosis supplies the soteriological grid. This depends on a somewhat Platonic view of 2 Peter 1:4 for all the rest, so anything you specifically say about salvation is cast in those terms, and those terms are also synergistic.

    And you appealed to James 2, but that commits 2 semantic fallacies: semantic incest and semanitic inflation, since I’m well aware of the way Rome and Constantinople look at James 2 and justification.

    Taking a reflection by one priest on a talk given by another priest, is not the same as an official pronouncement by an entire patriarchate.

    A. I didn’t say it represented the entire Patriarchate, rather “some Orthodox,” and if not representative of that Communion, then somebody should talk to the writer.

    B. Orthodoxy is amenable to universalism:

    “The term [apokatastasis] is found in Justin Martyr and Irenaeus and developed into a doctrine of universal salvation by Origin. Origen was condemned by a synod in Constantinople…the general concept of a final apokatastasis is, however, found in Gregory of Nyssa and persists in a modified form in Byzantine theology, notably in Maximus the Confessor. It recurs in Modern Russian thinkers such as Solovyov, Bulgakov, and Berdiaev,” The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, 36.

    As the implacable opponents of Eunomius, the Cappadocians were nevertheless dependent on Origen both for their biblical learning in the succession of his Hexapla and for their speculative thought; that becomes evident above all in the formulation of the doctrine of apokatastasis put forward by Gregory of Nyssa, which was spared the official condemnation visited upon Origen’s doctrines,” ibid. 482.

    “Hell exists as a final possibility, but several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved. Until the Last Day comes, we must not despair of anyone’s salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception. No one must be excluded from our loving intercession. ‘What is a merciful heart?’ asked Isaac the Syrian. ‘It is a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons, for all creatures’ (Mystic Treatises, edited by A. J. Wensinck, Amsterdam, 1923, p. 341). Gregory of Nyssa said that Christians may legitimately hope even for the redemption of the Devil.”

    http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/6.aspx

    Not exactly a Church Father

    No, for that we’d need “extra ecclesiam nulla sanctus”…

    And, your own rule of faith doesn’t require someone be a “Church Father” in order to faithfully represent Orthodox teaching, since Orthodoxy is dependent on Origen, who is accounted a heretic by many…

    And conveniently, I desire very much to be saved as well.

    Yes, you do, and as long as you believe a false gospel, that desire will do you no good.

  55. Dave said

    ME,

    I apologise for the delay in responding. After responding to Gene into the wee hours I had to go to bed.

    I guess I have just always relied on the “Holy Spirit to guide me in everything I do.

    If I didn’t think the priest was an instrument of the Holy Spirit in giving pastoral care, then I wouldn’t listen to him. I don’t know your particular shade of theology or what sort of church you attend, but in most Protestant circles, people are guided by the leadership that they believe God has put there.

    If you trust your pastor to guide you by the Holy Spirit with his preaching, why would you not trust the Holy Spirit to use him to guide you by counsel?

    The priest simply declares God’s forgiveness. I’m stuck on that one though. Again, that’s what Jesus does for us, he is the intercessor to God on our behalf.

    Have you not had anyone reassure your faith? Has no one ever told you, “God has forgiven you!” Or even, “God loves you!” It’s God that does the loving, but that doesn’t prevent me from encouraging you and strengthening your faith with such an exhortation.

    I’m obviously not a scholar like the rest of this group

    Well, clearly some folks would dispute that I’m a scholar, too.

    just a simple christian who acknowledges that the Lord is my savior

    So am I.

    Catholicism is full of tradtions

    As is every part of Christianity, even the parts that think they are somehow devoid of them.

    and on doing good works.

    Amen! As Keith Green was fond of saying, what separated the sheep and the goats is what they did, and didn’t, do.

    The problem is when you think your good works will earn your way into heaven. But that topic has already been beaten to death here.

    When I was on a trip to Italy Pope John Paul (at the time) made an appearance on his balcony and the crowd was so excited and when he came out and waved everyone bowed!!

    I would guess that most of the crowd was Catholic. I’m sure he was raising his hands in blessing. That’s something that even happened in when I was in the Presbyterian Church – the pastor would raise his hand to give the blessing (benediction) – usually the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24-27 – and most people would bow their heads.

    Except for a handful of people like myself, of course!!

    That’s okay. I’m sure the Pope was blessing you as well. Don’t worry – it probably didn’t hurt you.

  56. Dave said

    Well, Gene, it appears that my responses, which took four pages in Word, generated one from you that pasted in at 10 pages. I suppose if I’m going to escalate the one-upmanship I’ll need to produce the equivalent of at least 20 pages.

    While I would like to take you on point-by-point, I’ve got a family who deserve a little bit of my time. It’s quite busy work leading them to hell with my ritualised prayers claiming Christ is risen from the dead and a false gospel that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Clearly, I’m no match for your razor-sharp intellect, so it takes me more than ten minutes to produce ten pages of exegetical clarity.

    And forgive me for some laxity in my argument – now that you have come out of your scholarly shell and shown your true academic colours, I shall have to tighten up my arguments a bit. Clearly this has gone from being an informal discussion to a proper academic slanging match complete with footnotes and bibliography. After all, it appears that my salvation and that of everyone reading this blog depends upon it.

    I’d like to think you didn’t intend what comes across as a rather uncharitable tone. Or it may be that I’m not entitled to Christian charity, since I’m not a True Christian™, in that like I quoted NT Wright in comment 34, ‘The gospel’ is not ‘you can be saved, and here’s how’; the gospel, for Paul, is ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’, and especially, But justification by faith tells me that if my Roman [or insert Orthodox or Baptist] neighbour believes that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead then he or she is a brother or sister, however much I believe them muddled, even dangerously so, on other matters. So Tom Wright and I will have to burn in hell together, with all eternity to bemoan that we didn’t believe the gospel of the Reformed Baptists.

    The issue: to how much of your diatribe should I respond? As Paul said (though I’m quoting completely out of context, as I’m sure you will hasten to note): “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” You shall no doubt find it unsatisfactory, but I hope to primarily just address some misunderstandings with regards to my arguments. I’ll still probably get dragged into too many unprofitable arguments.

    In context 1 Timothy 2:1 . . . provides no exegetical warrant for the Catholic practice in dispute here.

    I only mentioned I Timothy 2 to emphasize that when we (or from your perspective, you, since I’m not included) “saints” pray, intercession is a part of that. It really was meant to be a tiny point – clearly I gave too much time to it, so you thought it was some sort of key exegetical point. It is not exegetically tied to the Revelation or any Johanine writing.

    You got the Orthodox glorification bit pretty close. Close enough for government work anyway.

    lack the same exegetical warrant

    I think you mean scriptural warrant. Nothing exegetical about it. In the words of Tevye, “Tradition!”

    You really should learn how to follow an argument

    Thanks for the advice. I’ll work on that. Maybe it would help if I became a lawyer or something.

    referred to my grandmother as a sentiment only.

    Well, either she’s in heaven or she’s not. Don’t know what’s sentimental about that.

    In Catholic theology, “veneration” takes on a distinction between “latria” and “duleia.” That’s a Scholastic distinction elevated to a normative practice. Where’s the supporting argument?

    If I ever become a Catholic and care about Scholasticism again, I let you know if I find the supporting argument. I understand that the distinction goes back to Jerome and to Augustine in The City of God. I glanced through Book X of the latter from a link on Wikipedia, but I couldn’t find it. So, like I said, if I ever become a Catholic. . .

    People on earth calling people to rise from the dead isn’t equivalent to prayers to the saints.

    Didn’t say it is. But then I suppose it all hangs on what you mean by equivalent.

    The burden of proof isn’t on me to show it isn’t relevant; the burden is on you to show it is.

    I disagree. The Church has always taught that the dead can make intercession. Luke 16 supports what the Church has always taught, unless you can show otherwise.

    No, they are governed by the rules of grammatical-historical exegesis.

    Grammatical-historical exegesis is relatively modern invention, not without value, but philosophically based in post-Enlightenment assumptions about the power and supreme authority of human reason. Nonetheless, it does have a methodological connection to the Antiochian School. I tend to be an Antiochian. But I suppose that if we disagree on exegetical methods, I’m hell-bound as well. Any other method almost certainly produces a “false gospel”.

    Appealing to Holy Tradition to validate a private conclusion about Scripture drawn from Holy Tradition is viciously circular.

    Viciously. No doubt. But I got used to vicious circles when I was Truly Reformed. Westminster Confession of Faith and all that. Oh, wait, when I thought I was Truly Reformed, because since I can’t lose my salvation by embracing Orthodoxy (or anything else), I never had it in the first place.

    Now what to do with your string of questions. . . I can’t see that you really want answers to them. Clearly, your thorough research into Orthodoxy has given you the answers. Do you want to see if I can answer them to prove my intellectual prowess? Or to demonstrate that there are Orthodox scholars who are smarter than me, because they disagree with me, but that you still are smarter than all of us? Or are you just looking for fodder to prove just how unassailable your position is with another endless post?

    Where has “the Church” infallibly interpreted these Scriptures for you? Where can I find the list?

    Dare I ask, the list of what?

    Where can we find the official Bible of the Eastern Orthodox church?

    What, like the official football of the NFL? Patriarch Bartholomew doesn’t keep a copy of the autographs in the Phanar against which all others are judged, if that’s what you mean. Where can I find the official Bible of Shepherd’s Fellowship? If people read the wrong version, will they learn a different gospel and find out they weren’t saved after all? (I know there are Baptists who believe that – just don’t know if you are one of them.)

    Where can I find this list of teachings?

    Okay, okay, okay! Stop the torture! I’ll tell! The Code is in Rublev’s Trinity icon. It’s been secretly passed down from father to son for generations. But I can’t tell you here. Meet me in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow on the Feast of St Mary Magdalene. I’ll be wearing an ushanka and a pectoral cross. Well, it’s really a key that’s disguised as a pectoral cross. I’ve probably said too much already.

    And how do you know the Church is led by the Holy Spirit?

    Jesus said it would be. I believe Jesus.

    You need a teaching office

    Yeah, the Catholics have been telling us that for years. They’re willing to let us use theirs. We’ve declined. Silly us.

    that’s the conservative view. . . More liberal Orthodox scholars disagree

    Ain’t that always the way.

    Why can’t Orthodoxy’s internet spokespersons get their stories straight?

    I didn’t realize there were any official internet spokespersons. But maybe it’s because they don’t all have copies of the “list of teachings”. For what it’s worth (and I bet you don’t think it’s worth much), I don’t see the contradiction between what I’ve said and the interloctuer @ your blog and Pelikan (a giant of Church History scholarship who is now burning in hell for being received into the Orthodox Church late in life). If there is, then I will defer to them.

    Take the long ending of Mark . . . Your eternal fate hangs in the balance.

    Seems with you, my eternal fate hangs on a lot more than the grace of God. I will agree with you that there is another gospel in these comboxes. Don’t think I’m the one preaching it, though.

    Now, if the EO tradition affirms the authenticity of these words, and if these signs do not accompany EO believers, then EO believers are self-deluded.

    I assume you are referring to verses 14-20. If you have something past that, then no, neither the Orthodox tradition nor any Protestant church I’ve been a part of has anything past that. Given that Orthodoxy has (not surprisingly) always used the majority Byzantine text family, surely it’s not surprising that we use verses 14-20.

    Now here’s the part that’s going to send me to hell (once again). I think the signs are descriptive rather than prescriptive. There is no doubt that all of the signs have accompanied some Orthodox believers. But I have never handled a snake, and if my chrismation into Orthodoxy is the seal of my apostasy, then I guess I don’t get any credit for any of the others from back when I was a charismatic Protestant.

    As for all of your questions about the authority of Councils and their relationship to Holy Tradition – and you rattled off 14 of them in four paragraphs – it seems to me you don’t need the answers, as you stated: “I am well aware of the Orthodox rule of faith, and I am well aware of the claim to epistemic certainty within it.”

    I’m not the one claiming to be part of the One True Church defined as a visible institution;

    I don’t remember using that language, but I’m sure you have the time to search through everything I’ve said (or already have it on file) and can stick it to me.

    so what we have is an Orthodox churchman defending Rome…

    Only insofar as Orthodoxy and Rome agree. I do tend toward the ecumenical end of the Orthodox spectrum – too liberal for most Orthodox, no doubt. I try to aggressively love everyone who bows the knee at the name of Jesus and whose tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. And I suppose the knee bowing is optional for now, since a good Baptist wouldn’t want to be caught genuflecting until Judgment Day.

    Some folks make the loving pretty difficult.

    Dave operates with two sets of standards, one for us and one for him.

    You don’t know the half of it. As an old preacher friend used say, I can’t be the Chief of Sinners, because Paul’s already claimed that. I guess I’m just the Assistant Chief. (Please, please, don’t analyze that exegetically.)

    I find that a somewhat amusing exercise in ecclesiolatry.>

    Which is one of the things you’ve said is sending me to hell. You’re amused by my eternal damnation?

    so much for the current state of Orthodox biblical scholarship.

    I suppose I could pull out some wacky Protestant writer and then make a similar comment about Protestant scholarship.

    if you’re going to argue about denominationalism, your communion and that of Rome are functionally no better off, for your respective rules of faith haven’t prevented schism. To argue against denominationalism is to point the finger @ yourself.

    All I’ve been trying to argue is that Jesus saves. Not the ordo salutis. Not the correct formula. Not the correct denomination. Not the lack of a denomination. Not the intercession of the saints. Not the lack of intercession of the saints. Not the correct rules of grammatical-historical exegesis. Not five-point Calvinism. Not Arminianism. Not the fact that Orthodoxy doesn’t have a dog in that fight. If all that somehow points the finger @ me, well, so be it.

    While I could quote from various theologians (and I am sure you could pick them apart), I’m drawn to a song released by Clay Crosse in 1997. I normally hate when people quote from songs in blogs, so there’s another double standard for you. I’m sure it’s pure sentiment and does nothing to redeem me from the error of my theological ways. It’s simplistic and I’m sure you can pick all sorts of theological holes in it, but really, don’t bother:

    So many preachers
    So many churches and denominations
    Got their opinions and their documents
    And statements and beliefs and sometimes
    There’s a miscommunication
    And we complicate the truth
    And convolute the story
    But as far as I recall I do believe it all
    Comes down to a man dying on a cross
    Saving the World
    Rising from the dead
    Doing what He said He would do
    Loving everyone He saw
    When it’s said and done it all
    Comes down to a man dying on a cross
    Saving the world

  57. […] have been spending far too much time still in the trenches of the comboxes at the blog I mentioned in the previous post. It’s been quite an interesting series of exchanges. Feel free to hop over there, but be […]

  58. Me said

    Dave,

    Take a chill pill love!! I was under the assumption that this was a place for questions/answers and yes even opinions!! You seem to be sooooooo defensive over everyone’s comments or questions. I can certainly appreciate you passion but no need to belittle anyone. I love a good discussion or debate, afterall that’s how people learn or don’t learn. I do have more questions or theories but it’s already late here!
    Just for the record and since you were wondering, I’m Baptist, yes that would Southern Baptist!!
    Have a good one and please feel free to continue to bless me!! As I’ll do the same for you!
    Nite!

  59. Gene,
    I’ve picked some comments posted by you to respond to.
    The distinciton between latria and duleia is not a scholastic distinction per se, though they employed it. The distinction while going back further is employed hundreds of years prior to the scholastic era, not the least of which is in the 2nd Council of Nicea in 787. One of the Scriptural passages that the council used to exemplify that distinction is 1 Chron 29:20. The Scholastics like good little schoolmen simply reherse the distinction which was already normative.

    As for the rules of the grammatical-historical method, I am not sure where the Bible employs it. It would be interesting to know where it does because I would really be interested to see it in Jesus own exegesis of Exodus 3:6 as proving the resurrection. What principles from the grammar when applied yields that interpretation? The Antiochian “school” if there ever was such a thing, turned on platonic assumptions concerning substances which is why they endorsed the method. Rules were needed to know which predicates could be justifiably attributed to which essences. In sum, they differed not from their monophysite neighbors since they both identified hypostasis with ousia. This is why the fifth council condemned the method since it depends on a defective Christology. You seem to be of the strange persuasion that hermeneutical methodologies float free of Christological beliefs. I’d suggest reading more Van Til.
    As for certainty, I think you have misdiagonosed the problem. Knowledge doesn’t require certainty and so there is no need to have a “teaching office” to grant it. What would be needed would be something applying a rule that had more normative gumption than that which is required for knowledge to justify our absolute commitment and not turn the faith into a proivisional scientific belief, always open to future revision. The skeptical worries about certainty simply motivate the belief that the formal entity produced on Protestant principles is metaphysically deficient. If I am supposed to believe this formal teaching and it might be wrong (not *I* might be wrong in my epistemic relation to it, for that floats free of its status) then it can’t be of divine origin. The worry is of being cut off from revelation.

    As for the council of Florence, the Council did issue statements, but since the Orthodox participants were compelled and some were bribed and a number of them refused to sign like Mark of Ephesus, the council resolved nothing for the Orthodox.
    In case you didn’t know, the ROCOR and Moscow patriarchate schism was healed months ago. They mutually in a synod adjudicated the matter, which gives you at least a starting sketch on how Orthodox deal with such matters.
    Ah, the Long ending of Mark again. Orthodoxy has accepted it via the text type it accepts. And it doesn’t follow that Orthodox has to think that the signs follow believers than Calvinists do, and most Calvinists via nifty interpretations don’t think they need to, though they could.
    Some of the criteria for recognizing an ecumenical council as legitimate are given in Ephesus, but most are given in 2nd Nicea. The reason why a council has the last word is because its infallible. We attribute infallibility to them for the same reason people do so with the bible, we think they are inspired as many councils speak of themselves and their preceding councils. Why do we think that? Because of our Christology and Triadology.
    Scripture is seen as part of tradition and the canon was the approved use of books by a given bishop, which is why canons varied for a considerable period of time. I would think with hypostasis that we would use the meaning of the participants of the council of Chalcedon. I am not sure how interpretation adds a layer of tradition or that such an interpretation is always or necessarily distorting. It may add a layer of epistemic distance, but I am not sure how that is problematic.
    Even if our position puts us in no superior position I am not sure how that shows your position to have escaped any problems. If every interpretation necessarily adds a layer of tradition doesn’t that actually weaken the case for sola scriptura? And if scripture is the only infallible rule, who is the judge to apply the rule normatively?
    The role of tradition is not in this context to provide certainty but to preserve normative content so one can use ones brains all day long to figure out if things are so. That only means that given that particular agents aren’t infallible that their second order beliefs are open to revision but that seems harmless.

    As for errors, given textual corruption I am not sure how error can’t creep into Protestantism and become enshrined. There is nothing to imply that the revisionary role that Protestants take themselves to occupy will imply progress. If Rome can get it wrong along with the East for the better part of two millenia, why think that Protestants being smaller and more diversified won’t? And won’t excommunicate and do all of those nasty things that were done to them? Isn’t this is exactly how they have treated reforming movements like the Federal Vision and the NPP? Seems so.
    And unless the canon itself is unrevisable, that is a criteria that Protestants have enshrined quite concretely so as to be functionally beyond question which is itself above Scripture for Scripture does not list its contents in full. In any case, I am not sure how tu quo que is a truth preserving mode of reasoning. As for Orthodox disagreeing on the canon, I think you might be thinking of the Ethiopians. We accept the canon as defined by earlier synods ratified at 2nd Nicea in 787 and re-affirmed at the 8th Council in 880 A.D. Since they were busy being monophysites and weren’t there, we don’t have the same canon. Go figure.

    I can’t see how grace can be taken to be quantitative on our synergism, since grace is not a legal or extrinsic relation but deity and deity is not quantifiable. Sola Fide may be a species of Sola Gratia, but so is Augustine’s synergism on justification. Of course, when you think that doctrine develops via dialectical lines as given to you good Protestants by Augustine’s Neo-Platonism and good ole Scholasticism you get all kinds of new subspecies developing over time.

    Semi-Pelagianism like its mother is not per se a thesis about works but about nature and its relation to grace. The thesis is that a person subsisting in human nature possesses sufficient natural power apart from grace to please God, at least initially, to get the grace ball rolling. But since we don’t hold to the idea of grace as extrinsic to human nature as semi-pelagianism does, its hard to see how we can be semi-pelagian by denying one of its necessary conditions. Moreover, Pelagianism itself is a thesis that states fundamentally that moral righteousness is intrinsic to human nature, which is ironically fairly standard Reformed pre-lapsarian anthropology. The Covenant of Works just screams Pelagianism. I am hardly alone in noting this, just read some Dabney or Bavink. Synergism isn’t per se semi-pelagian. Augustine was synergistic in justification for example but he wasn’t a semi-pelagian.
    I can’t see how we take 2 Pet 1:4 in Platonic terms since we don’t take the passage to mean that we partake of God’s essence. Moreover, fundamenal to Platonism is a dialectical and dyadic causal theory which requires metaphysical deficiency in effects, but we don’t think that the divine energies of which we partake are metaphysically deficient in comparison to the divine essence, so we are anti-platonic on that score in how we read the passage. Of course the idea that we are extrinsically related to the divine essence and that the divine essence is simple is quite explicitly a Platonic idea, found quite explicitly in Plotinus’ Ennead 6, Tractates 7-9. And of course Classical Protestantism pretty much just sucked up this Platonism from Rome and it is today a pretty well entrenched doctrine among advocates of the classical reformation, but I suppose Sola Scriptura hasn’t been applied to it after 500 years. Perhaps you guys will get around to it soon though? Maybe the Open Theists can help you with that or something. I dunno. I for one would really like to see the doctrine of Platonic simplicity derived exegetically from the text using the grammatical-historical method. Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun to watch. Could you show me? The fact is that you and Rome endorse the same fundamental project of pouring philosophical conceptual content into theological terms even if your metaphysics is thinner than theirs.

    As for the Universalism nonsense, I have already corrected this stuff over on your blog at http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/07/divine-evil.html In the comments section. The short of it is, the citations equivocate for example since everyone who thinks that God restores creation at the end believes in some form of the Apokatastasis even if not a Platonically induced Origenistic version of it. The term and concept are biblical after all. Origen’s teaching was condemned by an ecumenical council, which is why Nyssa’s views are not taken as being acceptable, not to mention the fact that your own citation says that it was “speculative” and not dogmatic. And I wouldn’t cast that apokatastatic rock too often since Calvinism gave rise to its own Universalism not to mention Pantheism via Jonathan Edwards. Hmm…why did Edwards endorse emanationalism? Oh yeah all that latent Platonism. Man, you guys need to use Sola Scriptura more often.

    If Orthodoxy is dependent on Origen, its rather odd that we condemned him both personally and theologically. In fact, Origenism continued in the West via Augustine even though it was finally quenched in the East. This is why the west never tires of spinning its wheels in terms of a dialectic of predestinarian assimilation to a simple platonic good (Calvinism, Thomism, Scotism) or a dminishment of that simple good. (Socinianism, Process Theology, Open Theism). If the Good is simple and freedom requires a plurality of options, then either we need to modify the good or freedom-ping pong! Either everyone will be good, but not free or free but not good. Ya’ll are on the same ride boys!

    Here’s a friendly suggestion. Why not try to learn about Orthodoxy as you would want someone to try and learn about Calvinism? Maybe then you won’t make silly mistakes like saying that we receive unrepentant Mormons or JW’s into the fold.

  60. Dave said

    Me,

    I was under the assumption that this was a place for questions/answers and yes even opinions!!

    I’m new around here, but I would think that would be the case.

    You seem to be sooooooo defensive over everyone’s comments or questions.

    Just defending the Faith.

    I can certainly appreciate you passion but no need to belittle anyone.

    True, perhaps I shouldn’t have traded tit for tat.

    Just for the record and since you were wondering, I’m Baptist, yes that would Southern Baptist!!

    I started life as a Southern Baptist and I have lots of friends and family who are SBC. You realised that I only threw things at the Baptists in the previous posts in responding to Gene’s views. I know all those things aren’t the view of all Baptists and not all Baptists are convinced I’m going to hell.

  61. For starters, Steve beat me to the punch already here:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/08/ecumenical-cartomancy.html

    I’ve picked some comments posted by you to respond to.

    Yes, you do tend to cherry pick comments of others and interject yourself into the middle of their discussions. I’ve seen this before.

    The distinction between latria and duleia is not a scholastic distinction per se, though they employed it. The distinction while going back further is employed hundreds of years prior to the scholastic era, not the least of which is in the 2nd Council of Nicea in 787. One of the Scriptural passages that the council used to exemplify that distinction is 1 Chron 29:20. The Scholastics like good little schoolmen simply reherse the distinction which was already normative.]

    You have only pushed the question back a step. Where’s the supporting argument for raising a distinction made in a Council or by a private theologian to a license for a normative practice?

    As for the rules of the grammatical-historical method, I am not sure where the Bible employs it. It would be interesting to know where it does because I would really be interested to see it in Jesus own exegesis of Exodus 3:6 as proving the resurrection.

    Steve answered this for you in the link above.

    I’d add that if you’d like to employ another method, as I told, Dave, be my guest, but I’m only arguing from commonly accepted grounds here, for, let’s not forget that Rome’s current crop of commentators are also employing the GHM, so the onus is on you and Dave to develop a contrary methodology and promote it as a valid and viable alternative.

    I’d like to ask you the same thing as Steve:

    What is Perry’s alternative? Does he agree with the liberals that NT writers misinterpreted OT passages? Does he agree with the liberals that NT writers ripped OT verses out of context and foisted fanciful interpretations onto the text?

    Does he then salvage his liberal admission by running it through an Orthodox blackbox, so that, somehow, the output is true even though the input is false? Does Orthodox tradition legitimate an otherwise illegitimate interpretation? Does Orthodox tradition validate an otherwise invalid inference?

    I’d also point out that Dave’s argument was that the rules of exegesis we apply arise from the way we regard Scripture – all the way saying the Orthodox don’t draw anything from Scripture – so what’s the point of this discussion if that’s the case? Who am I to believe, you or him or Orthodox, or MG, or Benedict Seraphim, or any of the others defenders of Orthodoxy on the blogs?

    As for the council of Florence, the Council did issue statements, but since the Orthodox participants were compelled and some were bribed and a number of them refused to sign like Mark of Ephesus, the council resolved nothing for the Orthodox.

    That doesn’t answer the issue, for if the council was called but, as Dave said, Orthodoxy’s theology was settled centuries beforehand, what’s the point of a council if everything was already settled?

    I’d also point out that what Steve and I have said about that council has come from Orthodox works: Cf. Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church.

    Ah, the Long ending of Mark again. Orthodoxy has accepted it via the text type it accepts. And it doesn’t follow that Orthodox has to think that the signs follow believers than Calvinists do, and most Calvinists via nifty interpretations don’t think they need to, though they could.

    Apparently, you missed that discussion had with no less than three representatives of Orthodoxy on our blog.

    Where can I find the official Orthodox Bible?

    Where’s the definitive, infallible Bible’s text type?

    Accepting a text type is a matter of text criticism and tradition, not a conciliar pronouncement.

    And Calvinists don’t have a “nifty interpretation,” rather we say the text is an scribal addition and not canonical. This hardly unique to Calvinism.

    And if it is canonical, then why aren’t you handling snakes and drinking poison?

    The reason why a council has the last word is because its infallible. We attribute infallibility to them for the same reason people do so with the bible, we think they are inspired as many councils speak of themselves and their preceding councils.

    This is viciously circular. Where’s the supporting argument?

    Why do we think that? Because of our Christology and Triadology.

    This is why the appeal is viciously circular, for these are driven by Holy Tradition.

    I would think with hypostasis that we would use the meaning of the participants of the council of Chalcedon.

    I agree.

    Notice that Perry doesn’t like the GHM when used of Scripture, but he’s quite willing to employ it for Chalcedon.

    So, this gets us back to the GHM, the reason we should use the GHM is practical: the GHM is inescapable. Everyone uses it. There is no adequate alternative.

    The Catholic or Orthodox will employ the GHM when they exegete the church fathers or conciliar statements or papal encyclicals, &c.

    So they are presuming the GHM even as they dispute it.

    I am not sure how interpretation adds a layer of tradition or that such an interpretation is always or necessarily distorting.

    I didn’t say it was. What I said was “how do we know which definition to use?” Where can I find that criterion within your rule of faith or that of Rome?

    You have problems with the GHM applied to Scripture but are using it for the Fathers, et.al., yet the grid Roman Catholics often use for Scripture is the Fathers. On the one hand, yes, that can and often does distort Scripture, and sometimes it doesn’t, so how do I adjudicate differences among the Fathers or others when it comes to interpreting them? How is this superior to the GHM when it concerns Scripture? You seem to employ it for the one and not the other.

    It may add a layer of epistemic distance, but I am not sure how that is problematic.

    That definition was the subject of more than one debate after Chalecdon, you and I both know this, so where’s the infallible criterion by which to know the right definition when it comes into dispute, and how do multiple layers of tradition make your rule superior to mine? That’s a problem for your rule of faith, not mine.

    So, how then, is your rule of faith superior to mine? We’ve rather consistently argued on Tblogue that your rule of faith does not cash out at a superior position, not that ours is superior.

    We’re only concerned with the true rule of faith.

    Isn’t this is exactly how they have treated reforming movements like the Federal Vision and the NPP?

    Notice how Perry assumes these were reforming movements…

    As for Orthodox disagreeing on the canon, I think you might be thinking of the Ethiopians. We accept the canon as defined by earlier synods ratified at 2nd Nicea in 787 and re-affirmed at the 8th Council in 880 A.D. Since they were busy being monophysites and weren’t there, we don’t have the same canon. Go figure.

    Notice what Perry is doing; other synods through 2nd Nicea and the 8th Council. The problem here is that Dave stops his argument at the 7th, not 8th council, so now we have two Orthodox laymen running with 2 competing rules of faith on this blog.

    Where does 2nd Nicea do this?

    And why should I take Perry’s word on this when Fr.Demetrios Serfes writes:

    Strictly Speaking, there never was a “Bible” in the Orthodox Church. At least not as we commonly think of the Bible as az single volume book we can hold in our hand. Since the beginning of the Church, from the start of our liturgical tradition, there has never been a single book in an Orthodox church we could point to as “the Bible

    And Fr. Serfes says nothing about the 7th council. Rather, he points to the 6th:

    Even so, there was no official, authoritative “canon” listing all the books until the Sixth Ecumenical Council, at Constantinople in 680 AD. Canon II of that Council ratifies the First through the Fifth Ecumenical Councils, as well as the local councils at Carthage (255 AD), Ancyra (315 AD), Neocaesaria (315 AD), Gangra (340 AD), Antioch (341 AD), Laodicea (364 A), Sardica (347 AD), Constantinople (394 AD), and Carthage (419 AD).

    The problem, of course, is that this still doesn’t answer the question about the canon in the Eastern Orthodox Church, for now, we have Perry, Dave, and Fr. Serfes arguing 3 things. Why can’t Orthodoxy’s internet representatives get their stories straight?

    And then we have these arguments:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/05/eastern-orthodox-acceptance-of-hebrew.html

    and

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/04/evangelical-innovations.html

    Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (Blackwell 2004), 83.

    and here:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/05/show-me-your-bible.html

    So, I’ll ask again, where is the official EO canon and Bible? Perry is welcome to try to go where the others failed over at Tblogue, since by midweek this thread will be near the bottom here, whereas we can keep it near the top at Tblogue by starting new threads.

    I can’t see how grace can be taken to be quantitative on our synergism, since grace is not a legal or extrinsic relation but deity and deity is not quantifiable.

    Neo-Platonism at its best.

    Sola Fide may be a species of Sola Gratia, but so is Augustine’s synergism on justification.

    Reformed theology isn’t committed to everything that Augustine said, so changing the topic to Augustine will score no points with me, and it isn’t as if this hasn’t been answered before.

    The issue there has to do with his confusion between justification as being “declared” and justification as meaning “made righteous.” This is a linguistic issue.

    Also, if we define monergism as “God working alone independent of, and without cooperation from, the individual at any level,” then I’m not certain that there are any true monergists, be it in Protestantism or Catholicism, since Calvinism discusses monergism in relation to regeneration but not the other elements.

    Of course, when you think that doctrine develops via dialectical lines as given to you good Protestants by Augustine’s Neo-Platonism and good ole Scholasticism you get all kinds of new subspecies developing over time.

    I pity all those Byzantine men who participated in those Scholastic debates.

    This overlooks the most current discussion in Post-Reformation Dogmatics in historical theology, and if you’re going to criticize neo-Platonism and Scholasticism, you’ll eventually implicate your own Communion in the process.

    Moreover, Pelagianism itself is a thesis that states fundamentally that moral righteousness is intrinsic to human nature, which is ironically fairly standard Reformed pre-lapsarian anthropology. The Covenant of Works just screams Pelagianism. I am hardly alone in noting this, just read some Dabney or Bavink.

    Perry is now trying to pound the gavel of “heresy” just as he has in the past with Nestorianism and his other favorite canards by drawing inferences. This is one of his favorite tactics.

    The Covenant of Works states that man was in a state of grace prior to the fall, so his righteousness while intrinsic is within a covenant that is gracious, though not constrained. That’s not Pelagianism, for Pelagianism would deal with man in a post-lapsarian state and Pelagianism would leave no room for grace. It’s true that Pelagianism tries to argue that man was as he originally was in a pre-lapsarian state and can “work” his way to God by his own righteousness for this is his true state, even after the fall, but how is this at all relevant to Reformed theology’s post-lapsarian view of man or pre-lapsarian view of man when the CoW is expressed in gracious terms? Pelagianism places sin in the volition and gives man only a negative innocence. Reformed theologies pre-lapsarian theology gives man a positive righteousness, not negative innocence, not equilibrium.

    According to Dabney, grace supercedes the Covenant of Works. Where does Dabney say the CoW smacks of Pelagianism?

    Here? The old Pelagians and Socinians represented the image as grounded in man’s rationality, and consisting especially in His dominion over the animals and the world. The Reformed divines represent it as grounded upon man’s rationality and immortality, which make him an humble representation of God’s spiritual essence; but as consisting especially in the righteousness and true holiness, in which Adam was created.

    If Dabney is calling the CoW “Pelagian,” pray tell why does he go on to accept it?

    For he writes:

    The Pelagians of the 5th century, followed by modern Socinians, and many of the New England school, assert that Adam could only have received from his Maker a negative innocency; and that a positive righteousness could only be the result of his own voluntary acts of choice.. Their fundamental dogma is, that nothing has moral quality except that which is voluntary (meaning by this, the result of an act of choosing). Hence, they infer, nothing is sin, or holiness, but acts of volition. Hence, a con-created rectitude of will would be no righteousness, and have no merit, because not the result of the person’s own act of choice. Hence, also, say a priori dispositions have no moral quality, except where they are acquired habitudes of disposition resulting from voluntary acts. Of this kind was Adam’s holy character, they say. And so, in the work of conversion, it is irrational to talk of being made righteous, or of receiving a holy heart; man must act righteousness, and make by choosing a holy heart.

    (a) We assert against the Pelagians that man was positively holy by nature, as he came from God’s hand because the plea that nothing can have moral quality which is involuntary, is ambiguous and sophistical. That which occurs or exists against a man’s positive volition can be to him neither praise nor blame. This is the proposition to which common sense testifies. It is a very different proposition to say that there cannot be moral desert, because no positive volition was exercised about it. (The Pelagian’s proposition.) For then there could be no sins of omission, where the ill-desert depended on the very fact that the man wholly failed to choose, when he should have chosen. The truth is, man’s original dispositions are spontaneous; they subsist and operate in him freely; without co-action; and only because of their own motion. This is enough to show them responsible, and blame- or praiseworthy. A man always feels good or ill desert according as his spontaneous feelings are in a right or wrong state, not according to the mode or process by which they came into that state. Men strangely forget that their free-agency may as spontaneously prefer and thus make them responsible for, a state which was original, as though this preference of theirs had originated it. Here is a man who was born with carroty hair: he is absurdly proud of its supposed beauty, and prefers it to any other. Every one decides that he thereby exhibits precisely the same bad taste, as though, having been gifted by nature with the finest brown hair, he had produced the unsightly color with a hair-dye. So, he who, naturally having a perverse disposition, delights in, prefers, and fosters it, is as truly spontaneous and responsible therein, as though he had himself acquired it in the impossible way the Pelagians imagine.

    Reformed theology is hardly dependent on the Covenant of Works to sustain its interpretation of the Fall or the pre-lapsarian state of man.

    I can’t see how we take 2 Pet 1:4 in Platonic terms since we don’t take the passage to mean that we partake of God’s essence.

    The claim that this is Platonism does not need to involve becoming one with God; it only need refer to the deification or divinization of man.

    That’s Platonic to the core, for it looks at the word “nature” in ontological / metaphysical terms where one escapes the corruption of the material world, not simply moral terms; so, in the end, it agrees in principle with the Hellenistic philosophy the term itself reflects considered on its own apart from Peter’s usage.

    I for one would really like to see the doctrine of Platonic simplicity derived exegetically from the text using the grammatical-historical method. Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun to watch. Could you show me?

    Are we committed to Platonic divine simplicity? That’s quite an assertion.

    Again, Perry just runs right by the latest essays reassessing Protestant Scholasticism, but I suppose we shouldn’t expect him to keep up since he’s in that smoky haze of incense.

    As for the Universalism nonsense, I have already corrected this stuff over on your blog at http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/07/divine-evil.html In the comments section.

    So, you disagree with the Blackwell Dictionary of your own communion? That’s not a hostile source.

    And, I must agree with Steve, you’re not an EO Metropolitan, Perry, so why should I trust you?

    If Orthodoxy is dependent on Origen, its rather odd that we condemned him both personally and theologically.

    I didn’t say you didn’t, and it isn’t as if I stated all Orthodoxy is dependent on him.

    Rather, the objection raised was that the person I quoted for Dave’s benefit was not a Church Father when he disputed my quotations, so I went to Origen, and, by your own admission, Origenism continued, yet he is accounted a heretic, and, if you’ll notice Gregory of Nyssa did use him, and he’s a Father, yes? So, thank you for proving my point to Dave for me.

    Why not try to learn about Orthodoxy as you would want someone to try and learn about Calvinism?

    Ever notice how Orthodox’s internet representatives can’t get their stories straight?

    Perry says we should try to learn about Orthodoxy the way we would want someone to learn about Calvinism.

    This, of course, means cracking the books yet, when we quote their own sources to them just as they ask, we’re told that we have to become Orthodox, that those sources don’t truly represent Orthodoxy, the sources represent those who are schismatics and not truly Orthodox, and all sorts of face saving maneuvers, so the representatives of Orthodoxy speak with a forked tongue. Forgive me, Perry, if I don’t exactly see the merit of your encouragement.

    Maybe then you won’t make silly mistakes like saying that we receive unrepentant Mormons or JW’s into the fold.

    Of course, that isn’t what I said. “Unrepentant” isn’t in my statements.

  62. I started life as a Southern Baptist and I have lots of friends and family who are SBC. You realised that I only threw things at the Baptists in the previous posts in responding to Gene’s views. I know all those things aren’t the view of all Baptists and not all Baptists are convinced I’m going to hell.

    Yes, we call them latitudinarians.

    And I’m on record as stating this:

    It is possible, in theory, to deny justification by faith alone doctrinally but nevertheless still be justified by faith alone, as a matter of a saving profession of faith, because one is just plain ignorant or deceived. One has not cultivated the error and one is not pleading your merits or those of anybody but Christ before God in your personal relationship with God.

    However, if you are cultivating your error and thereby pleading other merits, and proving it when you run around the internet and defend the dogmas of Rome in this matter and others like it, no, you cannot be said to have valid saving profession of faith.

    For example, a Catholic that affirms the current dogmas of Rome cannot offer a credible profession of faith to a consistent Protestant. But whether a Catholic can offer a saving profession of faith is a different question. The answer varies on a case-by-case basis. It is easier to say who isn’t saved than to say who is.

    To be a Christian is to be, among other things, a Christian believer. One must believe certain things, and not believe certain other, contrary things. On the one hand, some dogmas are damnable dogmas. On the other hand, the Bible lays out certain saving articles of faith. This is God’s criterion, not ours. We did not invent it. By the same token, how God applies that criterion in any individual case is up to God, not to us. We are not the judge, God is the Judge. To take a concrete example, Scripture teaches Sola Fide (faith alone) (Romans; Galatians). An individual is saved by faith in Christ and saved by the sole and sufficient merit of Christ.

    However, in Catholic dogma, one is saved by the merit of Christ plus the merit of the saints plus one’s own congruent merit. And this results in a divided faith. That is why a Catholic cannot give a consistent Protestant a credible profession of faith. In fairness, Protestants are more prone to give a Catholic church member a pass on the credible profession of faith than they do a Catholic bishop or the Pope or some of their lay apologists, because they very clearly have bought into the full range of Catholic dogmas.

    You, Dave, are an admitted apostate, and you’re cultivating your apostasy, so I’m merely following your own admissions, and if you have a problem with how you’re being treated by me or with saying you believe a false gospel, then I’d remind you Scripture has some harsh words for apostates, far harsher than anything I’ve said to you here.

    Moving on…

    I suppose I could pull out some wacky Protestant writer and then make a similar comment about Protestant scholarship.

    Except what I quoted is standard fare and not from a “wacky” writer at all; you won’t find much of that among conservative evangelicals. To do that, you’d have to broaden to include apostates and latitudinarians. One doesn’t think of Orthodoxy when thinking about defenses of inerrancy, and the point is that if you’re going to run around criticizing the Protestant rule of faith and Sola Scriptura, then it isn’t as if I have to run too far to find as much exculpatory evidence on your own side of the aisle.

    Jesus said it would be. I believe Jesus.

    Where does Jesus say this, and where does this refer to the Eastern Orthodox Church?

    Where can I find the official Bible of Shepherd’s Fellowship? If people read the wrong version, will they learn a different gospel and find out they weren’t saved after all?

    Notice that instead of answering the objection, Dave punts to Protestantism. That’s a backdoor admission that my allegations are correct, for I’m not arguing for an infallible Church that does my thinking for me.

    Grammatical-historical exegesis is relatively modern invention, not without value, but philosophically based in post-Enlightenment assumptions about the power and supreme authority of human reason. Nonetheless, it does have a methodological connection to the Antiochian School. I tend to be an Antiochian.

    The GHM antedates the Enlightenment, Dave.

    Actually, the GHM is a throwback to the Antiochean school of exegesis, which enjoyed a comeback with the Renaissance, and which, in turn, spurred on the Reformation. Calvin, for one, was a practioner of the GHM.

    And what’s Dave’s alternative?

    I’m simply arguing from commonly accepted exegetical standards, including those of modern Rome – the communion he chose to defend.

    But I suppose that if we disagree on exegetical methods, I’m hell-bound as well. Any other method almost certainly produces a “false gospel”.

    I never said you were on that basis.

    If it result in something like a system of works righteousness, yes, it does, and if we were to take a good look at the Marian dogmas and the defenses of it, we’d find plenty of allegorical exegesis.

    I disagree. The Church has always taught that the dead can make intercession.

    That’s not the real issue. The issue is the living praying to them from Earth and the dead interceding on that basis.

    Luke 16 supports what the Church has always taught, unless you can show otherwise.

    All Luke 16 shows is that the rich man said something to Abraham, but that’s a person in hell, in a story told by Jesus. It also involves one dead person (in hell) talking to another one. How is this intercession in the sense necessary to license prayers to the deceased, or is it your argument that prayers to the dead involve praying to one saint who goes to another and on up the list until one finally gets to God?

    Prayers to the saints are a late development, Dave, and that is the issue at hand. Luke 16 is irrelevant to praying to the saints.

    There are hundreds upon hundreds of references to praying to God in scripture and the earliest fathers. Never are we encouraged to pray to the deceased.

    We’re repeatedly told to not attempt to contact the deceased by any means (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Isaiah 8:19, 19:3), and multiple ante-Nicene fathers either describe prayer as something directed only to God or state that prayers are not to be offered to the deceased. Origen, for example, one of the fathers who wrote an entire treatise on prayer, is emphatic on the point (Against Celsus, 5:4-5, 5:11, 8:37; On Prayer, 10).

    Athanasius says prayers should never be made to created beings:

    “Because the multitude, who cannot distinguish between matter and God, or see how great is the interval which lies between them, pray to idols made of matter, are we therefore, who do distinguish and separate the uncreated and the created, that which is and that which is not, that which is apprehended by the understanding and that which is perceived by the senses, and who give the fitting name to each of them,-are we to come and worship images?…For if they differ in no respect from the lowest brutes (since it is evident that the Deity must differ from the things of earth and those that are derived from matter), they are not gods. How, then, I ask, can we approach them as suppliants, when their origin resembles that of cattle, and they themselves have the form of brutes, and are ugly to behold?” (A Plea for the Christians, 15, 20)

    “God alone could teach how he wished Himself prayed to. The religious rite of prayer therefore, ordained by Himself, and animated, even at the moment when it was issuing out of the Divine mouth, by His own Spirit, ascends, by its own prerogative, into heaven, commending to the Father what the Son has taught.” (On Prayer, 9)

    Notice that Tertullian refers to “the religious rite of prayer”, meaning that he’s referring to all prayers, not just some.

    So, where’s your evidence that the church always taught prayers to the saints?

    Messages addressed to deceased people on the walls of the catacombs aren’t the same as prayer. When the psalmists speak to the mountains, for example (Psalm 68:16, 114:6), or somebody writes a message to a deceased person on his gravestone, that isn’t equivalent to prayer, or is it your argument that it is?

    All you’ve done is run behind the skirt of Mother Church to get out of exegeting the text and assume what you must prove in the process.

    But where has Rome ever infallibly interpreted this text, since it’s specifically their practice that’s in view?

    And appeals to “the Church” or “the mind of the Church” are really appeals to the minds of the Church, Dave, so appealing to “the Church” doesn’t help.

    In Romanism, the intercession of the saints is predicated on the treasury of merit. Where’s the supporting argument?

    No passage from Scripture tells us that the dead enjoy a specific knowledge of what is happening in the life of an individual or accept their prayers.

    And for the record, it isn’t as if the Orthodox or the Catholics are just asking the saints to pray for them. Here’s a prayer to Mary from Dave’s own tradition:

    Rejoice Mary, Mother of God, Virgin, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls. Meet it is in truth, to glorify thee, O Birth-giver of God, ever blessed, and all undefiled, the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who without stain didst bear God the word, true Birth-giver of God, we magnify thee.

    O gracious Mother of the gracious God, O most pure and blessed Mary, the Mother of God, pour the mercy of thy Son and our God upon my impassionate soul, and with thine intercessions set me unto good deeds, that I may pass the rest of my life without blemish and, with thine aid, attain heaven. O Virgin mother of God, the only one who art pure and blessed. O Queen of the Heavenly Host, Defender of our souls: being delivered from evil, as thy servants, O Mother of God, we offer unto thee the hymns of thanks and victory; but as thou hast power invincible, deliver us from all calamity, that we may cry unto thee: Rejoice, O ever-Virgin Bride!

    O virgin, spotless, undefiled, unstained, all-chaste and Pure Lady, Bride of God, who by the glorious birth-giving hast united God the Word with Man and linked our fallen nature with Heavenly Things; who art the hope of the hopeless, the helper of the oppressed, the ready protection of those who haste unto thee, and the refuge of Christians; despise me not, who am defiled and sinful, who by my wicked thoughts, words and deeds, have become an unworthy servant, and by my slothfulness have turned into a slave to evil affections. O Mother of the God of Love, have mercy and compassion upon me, a sinner and a prodigal. Accept this prayer which is offered to thee from my impure lips; and putting forward thy maternal influence with thy Son, my Lord and Master, beseech Him to open unto me the lovingkindness of His grace; beseech Him to overlook my countless transgressions, to give me true repentance and to make me to be a zealous doer of His commandments. And thou, being gracious and compassionate and tender-hearted, be thou ever present with me in this life as my defender and helper, so that I may turn aside the assault of my enemies, and guide me into salvation; help my poor soul at the hour of my death, and drive far from it all the dark forms of the evil ones. And in the dreadful Judgement Day, deliver me from everlasting punishment, and present me as an inheritor of the ineffable glory of the son, our God.

    O may I obtain this, most-holy Lady and Birth-giver of God, through thine intercessions and mediations, by the grace and exceeding great love of thine Only-Begotten son, my Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, to Whom is due, with the eternal Father and the All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit, all honor and glory and worship, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

    O most glorious Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ our God, accept our prayers and present them to thy son and our God, that He may, for thy sake, enlighten and save our souls.

    (http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/prayers/panagia.html)

    Didn’t say it is. But then I suppose it all hangs on what you mean by equivalent.

    Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were trying to defend Rome’s practice, since, according you Rome bases this practice on Scripture. I apologize for taking you at your word.

    I think you mean scriptural warrant. Nothing exegetical about it. In the words of Tevye, “Tradition!”

    And I believe we have here a frank admission that, contrary to your first claims, you’re not basing your defenses on Scripture, but on tradition. Thank you for this frank admission.

    I shall have to tighten up my arguments a bit. Clearly this has gone from being an informal discussion to a proper academic slanging match complete with footnotes and bibliography.

    No, Dave, what it means is that if you want to defend your Communion or Rome, you’ll need to interact with the material. Most of the folks here are probably average Protestants in the pew, many of whom are not well taught, since I know the audience that WTRU often serves, and I want them to see that, when pressed, your claims fall apart. I’m only pointing out the many holes in your reasoning process.

    And you were the one up above who was talking about your education and advertising your exegetical skills. Again, forgive me for taking what you said at face value.

    And since you disputed my sources, I took that to mean that you required something more. Again, forgive me for thinking you were a serious defender of your rule of faith and your Communion.

  63. Me said

    Dave,
    You are really one saracastic dude!! I guess I’m in the wrong blog or something, like I said this is my first time here and I’m sorry if I have offended you or something, I was just sharing my thoughts!! Oh, and by the way, I have read most of the comments from above (I may have missed 1 or 2) but I don’t recall anyone and especially myself saying you were going to hell!!

    I can only wonder what the chip on your shoulder is from!!

    God Bless!

  64. Dave said

    Me,

    I hope you don’t think I was being sarcastic to you. If so, I apologise. Not my intention at all. I don’t know why you think you might offended me, but I’m sorry if I gave that impression as well.

    You never said I was going to hell. The only one who has said this is Gene. For example: Your faith is therefore divided and this is why you cannot be saved while in a state of ecclesiolatry. In response to me saying “And conveniently, I desire very much to be saved as well,” Gene said: Yes, you do, and as long as you believe a false gospel, that desire will do you no good.

    After I commented: “not all Baptists are convinced I’m going to hell.” He responded, Yes, we call them latitudinarians. Sounds like he doesn’t care much for you either, since you didn’t say I was going to hell.

    But Gene isn’t done yet, You, Dave, are an admitted apostate, and you’re cultivating your apostasy and there may be some more such statements buried in all his verbosity. It’s hard to wade through all of it quickly.

    I am sorry to appear to have a chip on my shoulder, but I assure you it had nothing to do with anything that has passed between us.

    If I have offended you in word or deed, I ask your forgiveness.

  65. Mike Sears said

    There sure are a lot of words being used here. I think the “Reformed” Protestant faith can be summarized, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling”. After we truly do that, then it is GOD who works in us both to will and to act, for HIS good purpose!! Now let’s go do that. Okay?!

  66. Dave said

    We are not the judge, God is the Judge. . . . That is why a Catholic cannot give a consistent Protestant a credible profession of faith.

    Why would a Catholic have to give a Protestant anything?

    In fairness, Protestants are more prone to give a Catholic church member a pass on the credible profession of faith than they do a Catholic bishop or the Pope or some of their lay apologists, because they very clearly have bought into the full range of Catholic dogmas.

    So God is the Judge, but any Catholics have to first visit the Protestant pass office before they stand before God (and I’m guessing from your other comments, any Orthodox, too, if they are even allowed that far).

    You, Dave, are an admitted apostate, and you’re cultivating your apostasy, so I’m merely following your own admissions, and if you have a problem with how you’re being treated by me or with saying you believe a false gospel, then I’d remind you Scripture has some harsh words for apostates, far harsher than anything I’ve said to you here.

    No, Gene, I’m an admitted follower of Jesus Christ. You are the one who called me an apostate. (Surely, if supra I called myself apostate, you got that it was a reference to what you had said.) I believe everything said about Jesus in the Scriptures as summarized by the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (I give the full name, just so you don’t start splitting hairs and suggest I agree with 325 and not 381).
    Likewise, I suppose I would have to say to you, by your own criteria, that since you are, by your own admission, well aware of the Holy Tradition of the Church, and you no doubt know the anathemas of the Ecumenical Councils, that you have put yourself under their condemnation by your rejection of them.

    not from a “wacky” writer at all; you won’t find much of that among conservative evangelicals.

    No wacky conservative evangelicals? You must be joking. No, really, I’m not being sarcastic. You must be joking. When I used to be a book buyer and assistant manager of a Christian bookstore that only stocked conservative evangelical books, we used to laugh ourselves silly at some of the titles that actually found publishers. Some of the self-published stuff was funnier still. I still remember 88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1988 which my manager actually agreed to refuse to stock, even though the other evangelical Christian bookstore in town was selling them like hotcakes. I think their sales declined dramatically in after Christmas that year.

    To do that, you’d have to broaden to include apostates and latitudinarians.

    Well, I don’t know if all the prophecy book authors are apostates and latitudinarians, but given the very big net you have for catching them, I wouldn’t be surprised.

    But your other apostates and latitudinarians must include all the signers of the “Evangelical and Catholics Together” document unless you are gracious and consider all the weasel statements afterwards as “works befitting repentance”. Though if not, with NT Wright and me going to hell for believing a different gospel, I suppose it will be nice to have Chuck Colson, Bill Bright, and JI Packer there to liven up the conversation.

    Where does Jesus say this, and where does this refer to the Eastern Orthodox Church?

    John 16:13, of course.

    Notice that instead of answering the objection, Dave punts to Protestantism

    Not at all. Why did you leave off the first part of what I said? I didn’t punt anything to you. I just though it was a valid question.

    I’m not arguing for an infallible Church that does my thinking for me.

    No, you are arguing that the Bible by itself does your thinking for you. It that case, it is very important that you have the right Bible – much more so than it is for me, since I have, not an infallible Church, but a Church that has some infallible doctrines (promulgated by the Ecumenical Councils, as argued elsewhere by others) and a Holy Tradition from the teachings of the Fathers covering many of the others. Therefore I don’t need the autographs. You do.

    If you are confident in sola scriptura and rely upon grammatical-historical exegesis then your salvation may rest upon you having correct texts in the original languages. For you it is much more important to know exactly what the Bible says rather than what it teaches.

    All you’ve done is run behind the skirt of Mother Church

    A place I’m never ashamed to be. Surely you realize by this point that I have no qualms deferring to the wisdom and knowledge of the combined intellects and spiritual wisdom of those who have gone before me. I am perfectly happy to acknowledge the limitations of my ability and the tiny knowledge I have of God.

    But where has Rome ever infallibly interpreted this text, since it’s specifically their practice that’s in view?

    You are correct that I should not purport to speak for Rome. I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I was an official spokesman for Rome and Orthodoxy, since I am in fact neither. My attempts to explain practices that we may have in common (at least close enough to be considered in common by the average Protestant layman) have clearly been a failure.

    Oh, and just so you don’t think I’ve dodged the question: I don’t know. You would have to refer to Rome or one of its official internet spokesmen for that.

    And appeals to “the Church” or “the mind of the Church” are really appeals to the minds of the Church, Dave, so appealing to “the Church” doesn’t help.

    See above.

    In Romanism, the intercession of the saints is predicated on the treasury of merit. Where’s the supporting argument?</i?

    I refer the honourable gentleman to the reply I gave some moments ago.

    Here’s a prayer to Mary from Dave’s own tradition

    Beautiful, isn’t it? (Of course, I don’t think you think so, so, no, you don’t need to reply to that.)

    BTW, to deny Mary is Theotokos is to deny the Incarnation. Pretty much makes you a Nestorian. So says the Council of Ephesus. Results in damnable dogma and all that. Anathemas available on request. Some Protestant laymen might get a pass since they don’t know better, but pastors and internet spokesmen, well, hmm…. you’ll have to check with the Phanar (or your local Orthodox bishop) on that one.

    I’m sorry, I thought you were trying to defend Rome’s practice, since, according you Rome bases this practice on Scripture

    Apology accepted. When it comes to scholarship and exegesis, you have a lot more in common with Rome than I do. Goes back to all that Scholasticism, the heritage of which you and Rome share.

    And I believe we have here a frank admission that, contrary to your first claims, you’re not basing your defenses on Scripture, but on tradition. Thank you for this frank admission.

    You’re most welcome, though you have, not surprisingly, mischaracterized what I said. I only said that the Orthodox methodology of recognizing saints was based on tradition without reference to Scripture, not everything we have been discussing. I think I have stated over and over that Orthodoxy is based on tradition. We see the infallible Holy Scriptures as part of that tradition and as explained by that tradition. How has that not been clear already?

    Most of the folks here are probably average Protestants in the pew, many of whom are not well taught, since I know the audience that WTRU often serves

    Well, I suppose you know how to win friends and influence people.

    and I want them to see that, when pressed, your claims fall apart.

    Any claims I make that fall apart should do so, since they are therefore not a part of the teaching of the Orthodox Church, which has withstood the test of time.

    I’m only pointing out the many holes in your reasoning process.

    The audience of WTRU are probably by now amazed at how much smarter you are than me. You have probably knocked their socks off. Whether they understand that the Christian East and the Christian West approach the whole reasoning process in different ways, I don’t know. And since you’re convinced they’re just a little obtuse, you’re intellectual hole-pointing may just be a little beyond them.

    And you were the one up above who was talking about your education and advertising your exegetical skills.

    Spiritual pride, for which I ask your forgiveness.

    Again, forgive me for taking what you said at face value.

    It would be contrary to the Scriptures for me to refuse to do so.

    Again, forgive me for thinking you were a serious defender of your rule of faith and your Communion.

    Really, I forgive you. I mean, you are correct in thinking that I am a serious defender, but I can understand how you mistook that for a claim of adequacy when it comes to translating the Eastern perspective into Western terms. I mistook my own background in Western theology (though not nearly as thorough as yours) as adequate for the task. For a Western layman without extensive theological training, it may be. But beyond that, I shall have to leave you in the hands of Perry Robinson and others (if they can be bothered, though I can understand if they can’t), who clearly bat in a different league.

    At the end of the day, I just love Jesus. Since you are convinced that’s not enough in my case since I know too much, I’ll just have to be the most Jesus-loving guy in hell if God has decided that I rejected too many of the added requirements of the Reformed Baptist gospel.

  67. Dave said

    Mike,

    I think the “Reformed” Protestant faith can be summarized, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling”.

    Very true. However, the discussion here is whether the Roman Catholic (and now, by extension of the discussion, the Orthodox) faith can be summarised the same way. Hence the lots of words being used here.

    After we truly do that, then it is GOD who works in us both to will and to act, for HIS good purpose!! Now let’s go do that. Okay?!

    As much as there is disagreement here (which is what fuels the debates in comboxes across the Christian blogosphere), I would think that all parties to the discussion believe that this is, in fact, what we are doing.

    May God bless you as you also do that in whatever way He directs you.

  68. John said

    Kenneth J,
    I thought you said on July 31 (and this is a quote):(In re: Interview with a wiccan) You said you were 32 and been a wiccan for 22 years – that makes you 10 when you became a wiccan. At 10, I was a theistic evolutionist – at age 15 I was an evolutionist who only called on my [g]od when I needed something or to complain about him not doing what I wanted. At 17, I had a girl pregnant – August of 1995 we were told by the doctor that the baby was not breathing and no heart beat(yes baby in the womb, not fetus), this 2 weeks before my 18th birthday. At that point I went from theistic evolutionist to atheistic evolutionist and hated the Christian God with a passion. At 21, He showed me who He was and who I was – He showed me inspite of me being who I was, He still desired a relationship with me. I realized how desperately I needed a relationship with Him. Here I am 8 years later and so thankful that Jesus Christ is real and very much alive. All other [g]ods can never compare to Him. (now this adds up to 29 the way I see it 21+8=29.)

    How can you now have 98 years??? quote from above: As a new believer 98 years ago, I searched for the “one true church” and studied every document of the Roman church that I could find, including the official Vatican website. I read testimonies of such people as Scott Hahn and others who left their protestant denomination to adhere to Roman Catholicism.

    Just wondering….

  69. […] seems with Steve Hays and Gene Bridges over at Triablogue. I jumped into a fracas that Gene was in here. And Steve made some comments here. My response to Steve is below. (Gene, sorry, you’ll have […]

  70. Arthur said

    I grew up Catholic in the South well accustomed to anti-Catholic bigotry. I have been told countless times that I worshipped Mary, hated the bible, was not a Christian. This is all just pure ignorance and bigotry. Interesting that the same region of the country known for slavery and racism is still coming after the Catholics. Read Philip Jenkins’ book: AntiCatholicism: the last acceptable prejudice. In the book he shows how historical anti-catholics like Baptists and evangelicals are now being joined by gays and secularists. Well, the Baptists and Evangelicals ought to understand that Catholicism is the last Church to stand against relativism and immorality. And Baptists and Evangelicals have the blood of nearly 50 million babies on their hands for their silence on the abortion haulocaust.

  71. Dave said

    Arthur, anti-Catholic views are not limited to the South. It is unjustified to say that an entire region is “coming after” Catholics. Lashing out and lumping in anti-Catholicism (some of which is honest theological disagreement) with slavery and racism is ignorant and bigoted.

    Slavery only flourished in the South because of the nature of the agriculture, and in case you missed it, it has been abolished for about 142 years. Racism is just a rife in other parts of the country and I think you would be hard pressed to show that the South is particularly known for it, unless of course you are still living in the past. It’s identical twin ethnicism (which sometimes gets called racism) is even more rampant throughout the country.

    As for the abortion holocaust, you do realise that since Baptists and other Evangelicals do not have a single voice to speak for them, or even diocesan bishop to speak for a whole geographical area, they cannot make one statement. Speaking as a former Evangelical, I can assure you that they have stood against abortion, protested at clinics and been involved in the more radical end of the pro-life movement like Operation Rescue, elected pro-life politicians, and the rest. You need to know more of whom you speak before you declare the blood of the innocents to be on their hands. They have also been firmly against the gay right movement and same-sex pseudo-marriage. They have been at the forefront of both the Christian school and home school movements, specifically to protect the next generation against secularism, relativism and immorality.

    You may disagree with many evangelical Protestants over many of the reasons they disagree with or oppose the Catholic Church, but that doesn’t justify spurious accusations and ill-founded attempts to find them guilty by association. If you want to know how a Catholic should deal with anti-Catholic bigotry, remember that Peter came to Jesus and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

  72. Brad said

    “I grew up Catholic in the South well accustomed to anti-Catholic bigotry. I have been told countless times that I worshipped Mary, hated the bible, was not a Christian. This is all just pure ignorance and bigotry.” (Arthur)

    Bull. While you may encounter true “bigotry” from some, what you mistake for “bigotry” from most is probably just disagreement over beliefs from people who aren’t afraid to say so. I don’t know what you believe, so I can’t speak to you specifically, but if we look at the GENERAL, OFFICIAL beliefs of the Catholic church, and speak of Catholicism in general terms, then I would say that it is NOT Christian, based on the beliefs. Principally, it would be b/c of the insistence of works and baptism being necessary for salvation, thus attributing salvation to something other than solely Christ’s work on the cross, thus saying that Christ cannot, and has not, saved you. To me, according to the Bible, that is not Christian. When you throw in the veneration of Mary, elevation of the Pope, adherence to a different set of Scriptures, what do you expect?

    “Interesting that the same region of the country known for slavery and racism is still coming after the Catholics.” (Arthur)

    Nice. Of course, there’s not racism anywhere ELSE, is there? And it’s ONLY the South who “comes after” Catholics, right? Of course, I’m sure the recent statement by the Pope that the Catholic church is the one true church was really meant to just clear things up, right?

    “Well, the Baptists and Evangelicals ought to understand that Catholicism is the last Church to stand against relativism and immorality.” (Arthur)

    Wow. While I’m sure the Catholic church does have convictions and take moral stands, I think it might be a little extreme to say your the “last church” to stand, especially given all the liberal Catholics who are out there who don’t even go to church, don’t you?

    “And Baptists and Evangelicals have the blood of nearly 50 million babies on their hands for their silence on the abortion haulocaust.” (Arthur)

    Wrong – the people who killed those 50 million babies (if that figure is appropriate) have the blood on THEIR hands. Should we all be more vocal in our fight for life? Yes. But does it mean that we are RESPONSIBLE for their death? No. But nice job trying to pin it on the Baptists…

  73. Dave said

    Brad, I don’t think you really added anything to what you’ve already said about what you think of what you understand Catholic beliefs to be.

    Proverbs 15:1

  74. Tony said

    If you want to know the TRUTH read the following:

    If you want to read a brief introduction of where we Got the Papal office, click here:

    http://churchofchristblog.com/?p=10

    It is a fact that a majority, if not ALL of what is written here are false, as it pertains to the Catholic Church. If you want to learn what the Church really says, read it from the mouth of Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) not from what others misconceive or misunderstand about the Church. Here’s the link to the CCC.

    http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/

    I forwarn the moderator from deleting this message because he/she would be supressing the Catholic perspective – which would not serve as an unbiased blog.

  75. Moderator (not Stu) said

    No need to warn me, Tony. Anytime someone posts a comment that has more than one link it goes into a folder for us to approve, in case of spam. Your comment, obviously, is not spam. It’s very relevant to the discussion.

  76. Brad said

    Dave,

    Since I said basically the same thing as you did, I assume you don’t disagree?

  77. kandace said

    This entire discussion on whether Catholics are Christians has become so complex so that it takes a theologian to understand the debate.

    Get back to the basic definition of what the Gospel is. The clearest definition that I have found is I Cor. 15:1-4.

    Every person must individually answer to God for what he/she has done with Jesus Christ.
    Remember that we are all sinners who need the saving grace of Jesus Christ which He bought for us at Calvary’s cross. When He cried “It is finished”, the veil of the temple was split from top to bottom which symbolized that God the Father accepted His sacrifice for sin. Jesus (on Easter Sunday morning) assumed his position in heaven seated at the right hand of God as His work was completed – read Heb. 10:12.

    The entire story of salvation is so simple that a little child can understand it. Let’s get back to basics as what the Bible requires for an individual to be a Christian.

    It isn’t one’s church affiliation or lack of affiliation that really matters. I do not mean to imply that church membership is not important in one’s growth and development as a Christian. It is one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ Himself that counts.

  78. anonymous said

    Kandace,

    Amen! A person’s relationship with Jesus is what is important. There are parts of Catholic doctrine with which I disagree strongly, but it’s way above my paygrade so to speak to consign them all to Hell. There will be Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. in Heaven, just as there will some from those same churches that are in Hell. The whole idea of arguing over who’s in Hell or not is not a particularly good use of time.

  79. […] Your calls and suggestions: Are Catholics Christian? […]

  80. John said

    I have a question? Why is that Evangelist get to say who goes to Hell? I am Catholic and I possess the necessary will to serve God the best way I know. Are you telling me that I am damned?

  81. Mike Sears said

    The evangelist doesn’t decide, God doesn’t even decide. God has determined the requirements and the individual decides. One avoids hell by one of two ways. 1. By obeying God’s Law perfectly as Christ did. Which I think the OT and the Lord Jesus has proven is impossible with man. If not, the wages of sin is death (Hell). or 2. By believing/trusting (through faith alone) that Jesus has already obeyed perfectly and has paid the “death penalty” on our behalf!

    No amount of “will to serve” will get you there brother. Believe on the Lord Jesus and He is faithful to save!

  82. jAsOn said

    God most certainly from the foundations of the Earth, decided who will inherit eternal life…the entire NT proclaims this very very clearly, and unless you are advocating “open theism” I don’t think you have clearly thought through this staement, “God doesn’t even decide. God has determined the requirements and the individual decides.”

    The idea of God “knowing” who will go to heaven is not just a passive knowledge, but is an intimate knowledge issueing forth from His decrees

    No doubt, the means which God has ordained to bring His elect to Himself is through the preaching of the gospel, “it is by grace you are saved, through faith lest anyone should boast.” Faith is the instrument of justification and Christ’s righteousness is the grounds.

    The real issue between Roman Catholics and Protestants is the issue of justification, and the Reformers stated the orthodox view this way, by grace ALONE, through faith ALONE, in Christ Alone, to the glory of God ALONE–the knowledge of this is through the Scriptures ALONE.

  83. john said

    Well I do believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my savior and I am so filled with zeal for the wonderful things He has done for me that I wish to do good works in his name.

  84. Hi John – Just a suggestion. We have another active member of this blog named John. However, he is a Wiccan. It would be great if you could add your middle or last initial to keep your comments separate. Thanks!

  85. Mike Sears said

    God allows an individual with free-will to decide for themselves. Yes it is God draws them (election) through the preaching of his word. But God does not drag an individual against their will into heaven. Let’s not cloud the issue with a debate on election and predestination here. The goal here is to help those (like John in post #80) who are seeking, and especially those who believe they can be saved by a “will to serve”.

  86. Mike Sears said

    Hey John
    I did not see your post prior to my last post #85. That is awesome!! You got it brother!!

  87. John DB said

    No problem. I’ll be John DB

    I agree that it is bad for Christians to have pelagian ideals and believe that they are saved by works alone but very few actually believe that. I believe that we are saved by faith and works, mostly faith. However, if I am wrong and it is only faith that saves us then I doubt God would damn me to Hell for doing good works.

  88. jAsOn said

    Mike,

    My intention is to clarify the issue…this thread is titled, “Are Catholics Christian”. I didn’t raise the issue over predestination, but I decided that a different view of that part of the discussion was needed…when you use phrases like “God doesn’t decide” then you are opening the discussion to the category of predestination.

    Btw, in your post #85, you misstated what election is (it isn’t God’s drawing), and misrepresented what I said by saying that, “But God does not drag an individual against their will into heaven.” I my humble opinion, the last think persons who may be confused over justification need is a sub-biblical opinion of “free-will”

  89. Mike Sears said

    John DB
    I liked your last sentence. That is good. However, as a fellow Christian I do think that it is critical doctrine to understand how works and righteousness affect or do not affect each other. You may want to follow some of the discussion on What Does Mormonism Really Teach. We are working through that exact subject. Blessings!

    Jason
    I am a layman theologian (only 8 years in the faith) and probably get some terms mixed up and my points may not be perfectly worded to satisfy the seminary graduates. I’m just working through the truth the best I know how and hoping that I may encourage someone to trust in Christ through my efforts. Just a dumb ole contractor from NC who loves Jesus!

  90. Hail Mary :) said

    The title of this thread is “Are Catholics Christian?”

    It should better be titled “Is Catholicism a Christian denomination?”

    To that, I would say “no, it is not a Christian denomination” but instead it is its own religion that combines paganistic beliefs and Judaism into what we see in Roman/Eastern Catholicism today.

    Are there people who are truly Christian who are inside the Catholic church? Possibly, but in my opinion they would not stay for the Holy Spirit would convict them of the error and they would leave.

    Like has already been stated, it is an issue of understanding Justification and Who it is who justifies, how He justifies.

    – Hail Mary 🙂

  91. jAsOn said

    Mike,

    Please forgive me if I have offended you…not my intention at all!

    I never went to seminary but I do love to study the Bible, and I too am a layman (and fellow Carolinian 🙂 ). I aplaude you efforts to spread a passion for Christ.

  92. Mike Sears said

    No offense taken. Go Deacs! 🙂

  93. Brad said

    Hail Mary,

    The specific “church”, or “denomination”, you belong to, does not in and of itself determine whether you are a Christian or not, or determine your beliefs, per se. For instance, I believe that I am saved by faith alone, through grace alone, by Christ alone, and that works play no part. I could attend a Catholic church, a JW Kingdom Hall, or a Mormon church, and my beliefs would not change, simply b/c I had stepped in the doorway. I believe there are MANY people who are members of a church or denomination, who do not necessarily hold to all of the beliefs of that particular church or denomination. That’s why you have to find out what someone BELIEVES, not just where they go to church.

    However, having said that, if you know what they believe, or if they tell you they espouse the general beliefs of their church or denomination, and you know what those beliefs are, then you can certainly make a very educated decision as to the truthfulness of those beliefs.

  94. Hail Mary :) said

    Brad,

    seems you just like to argue 😦

    Reread my post again. I was saying that Catholicism is not Christian. Yet, there are possibly born-again believers who attend its services who are either new in the faith or immature believers. The work of the Spirit is to guide, instruct and correct the Fathers children, comforming them more into the image of Jesus Christ. thus, th eHoly Spirit will through the word guide a believer away from error, as the believer renews his mind(Romans 12).

    Lighten up Brad and make sure you understand someones post before attacking 😉

    -Hail Mary 🙂

    Also – I’m a born and raised Carolinian myself, North Carolinian that is 🙂

  95. jAsOn said

    I agree with Brad and others when they say things that indicate that they don’t believe in justification by denominational afiliation, but (even though the Roman Catholic church is not a church to whatever degree that they deny the gospel) I don’t think we should place them in the same category as Mormans, JW’s, etc b/c at least the Roman CAtholic church was at one time a church (maybe now apostate–having fallen away from the true faith) but those other institutions have always been cults and never represented the Christian faith in their stated doctrines.

  96. Brad said

    Hail Mary,

    I DID understand your post. You’ll notice that my post #93 is virtually the same as the post #1 I have on this same subject.

    You said “…in my opinion they would not stay for the Holy Spirit would convict them of the error and they would leave. Like has already been stated, it is an issue of understanding justification and Who it is who justifies, how He justifies. That is what I wanted to make a reply to.

    Believing in faith alone by grace alone through Christ alone is the key – and it is possible to believe in this, yet STILL be a member of the Catholic church, or any church, for that matter. So when you say “the Holy Spirit would convict them of the error and they would leave”, whether you mean to or not, you imply that staying in the Catholic church is an error in itself.

    My point, as I made first on this post, is that it doesn’t matter the churhc, but it’s the belief that matters.

    Before YOU attack back at someone, YOU may also want to really understand what the person was saying. I quoted you directly – if you take issue to what I say, you may also want to quote it directly, so I know exactly what it is you take issue with.

  97. Hail Mary :) said

    Jason,

    “Was at one time a church” is the key phrase. That being the case, we should as Bible upholding/believing Christians rebuke it even more openly than we do Mormonism or the J.W.’s. Much as Paul did the Galatians and Christ did the Laodicians.

    Whether it was at one time Biblical is not even the issue right now. That is the same situation that the person who said the sinners prayer in 1977 is in. Said the prayer, got the t-shirt, drank the cool-aide and yet their life now reflects that of an unbeliever. The RCC reflects a doctrine that is against historic and Biblical Christianity. At its core, it is a system of works, a mixture of Judaism and paganism – Now, it is presently a man-made religion far from the truth on which it 1st began.

    Sorry, but this is one of issue that strikes a nerve. I’ve ministered to the Hispanics in NC and see the devastation that the RCC brings into a persons life. It is false, from its rosary to the scapula to the preisthood to the sacraments, it is all false and in essence antiChrist.

    Read some of the comments on these threads. Most unbelievers assume Catholicism is representing true/Biblical Christianity. Read some Islamic writings and Atheist writings. A lot of them see Catholicism as mainstream Christianity. And that just isn’t so.

    It’s not a denomination that saves. Yet, through the denominational titles we learn what a group of believers stand for, but not necessarily each individual Christian.

    – Hail Mary, thank God for His grace 🙂

  98. jAsOn said

    Brad,

    Any form of non-gospel is equally damning in the end, whether it be RC or Mormon, and I share your thought that the resulting discipleship is devistating, but you have made some glib stateements that I believe a too simplistic to accurately represent the history of actholicism. I realise that the general public assumption is that RCC represents orthodox Christianity, but it may add offence to the gospel if you end up misrepresenting your opponent b/c you have oversimplified a criticism, i.e. your statments regarding the history of the RCC.

  99. Hail Mary :) said

    “Believing in faith alone by grace alone through Christ alone is the key – and it is possible to believe in this, yet STILL be a member of the Catholic church, or any church, for that matter. So when you say “the Holy Spirit would convict them of the error and they would leave”, whether you mean to or not, you imply that staying in the Catholic church is an error in itself.”

    Brad,
    I am exactly saying that “staying in the Catholic church is an error in itself”.

    Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:

    Scott Hahn was a presbyterian who is now a Catholic apologist – I would consider him an unbeliever.

    Richard Bennet was a Catholic priest who is now a Calvinist apologist – he gives a perfect point to what I am saying.

    Me personally, I was in a Independant Fundamental Baptist church and as I grew in the faith I saw the error of that particular denomination. The Holy Spirit led me out of that error.

    As we grow in our walk with Christ, we should be going from error to truth. And that would mean leaving a belief system that is contrary to Scripture.

    When someone tells me what church they attend, I can pretty much know what they believe by asking the right questions. I don’t know of too many Catholics who will deny the rosary or any of the wild claims about Mary – yet it is great error.

    We should all, as believers, be teachable and willing to examine our beliefs and denominational creeds to see if it aligns with Scripture. Sadly, most who are in error do not want this. Because they know it will likely mean they will have to leave the particular group they are in that is teaching error.

    – Hail Mary

  100. Brad said

    Any form of non-gospel is equally damning in the end, whether it be RC or Mormon, and I share your thought that the resulting discipleship is devistating, but you have made some glib stateements that I believe a too simplistic to accurately represent the history of actholicism.

    You’re confusing the issue, and I believe reading too much into it. My statements are simple b/c the issue I’m addressing is quite simple. Does the Bible say your denomination saves you? No. Your faith saves you. Is it possible for a person to be a member of the RCC, yet believe that faith alone has saved them? Yes. Is it possible for a person to be a member of a Southern Baptist church, and believe it takes MORE than faith to save them? Yes. Who is saved, based upon their belief – the RCC member who believes faith alone, or the SBC member who believes faith + works? My belief is that it’s the BELIEF, not the denominational affiliation, that saves you. I hope you would believe the same.

    In the above example, should the RCC member probably seriously evaluate their membership in a church that doesn’t espouse their beliefs, and possibly change their membership? Yes, probably so. But would it affect their salvation, and would they be “in error” if they didn’t? I just don’t see that to be the case, Biblically. If you believe otherwise, based on the Bible, I’d love to hear your opinion.

    I realise that the general public assumption is that RCC represents orthodox Christianity, but it may add offence to the gospel if you end up misrepresenting your opponent b/c you have oversimplified a criticism, i.e. your statments regarding the history of the RCC.

    Again, don’t make the simple statement difficult. I don’t believe that the RCC represents orthodox Christianity. But I don’t believe the RCC members are “in error”, SIMPLY B/C of their membership, either. That would also be an oversimplification.

  101. John D B said

    I am Catholic. Christ is my savior. Therefor Catholics can be Christian. End of story.

  102. jAsOn said

    Brad,

    You said,
    “In the above example, should the RCC member probably seriously evaluate their membership in a church that doesn’t espouse their beliefs, and possibly change their membership? Yes, probably so. But would it affect their salvation, and would they be “in error” if they didn’t? I just don’t see that to be the case, Biblically. If you believe otherwise, based on the Bible, I’d love to hear your opinion.”

    I agree with you.

    My statement was a friendly reminder that in our zeal to oppose error, we should not missrepresent our opponents beliefs or the history that leads to them…surely you would agree with that.

    You said,
    “My belief is that it’s the BELIEF, not the denominational affiliation, that saves you. I hope you would believe the same.”

    I don’t believe that denominational affiliation saves anyone, forgive me if that wasn’t clear in my previous statements. We are saved by grace alone, through faith, not of ourselves lest anyone should boast.

  103. John D B said

    Amen regarding the comments on denomination! Catholics, Evangelists, Episcopalians, Methodists and all other denominations can enter Heaven providing that they follow Christ faithfully. It just makes me so sad when people claim that others are damned because they are of a differing denomination. No one has the right to tell another person that they are going to Hell which is sadly something I have seen on this very web page. Only the Lord gets to say that.

  104. Brad said

    Jason,

    I think we’re on the same track with this one.

  105. Brad said

    I am exactly saying that “staying in the Catholic church is an error in itself”.

    See my post #100. I agree that staying in a church whose general beliefs might run counter to what you know is right needs to be evaluated, but the act of staying in the church itself, if one’s own beliefs are already enough for salvation, can hardly be considered “in error.” I think you’re rather militant on this issue, when you don’t need to be.

    Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:

    Scott Hahn was a presbyterian who is now a Catholic apologist – I would consider him an unbeliever.

    Richard Bennet was a Catholic priest who is now a Calvinist apologist – he gives a perfect point to what I am saying.

    I don’t know these people, so I really can’t comment.

    Me personally, I was in a Independant Fundamental Baptist church and as I grew in the faith I saw the error of that particular denomination. The Holy Spirit led me out of that error.

    The error isn’t the denomination, it’s the belief. There are different beliefs within like denominations, some right and some wrong, so it’s too general of a statement (and incorrect) to say that the problem is the denomination. Incorrect belief keeps us from God, not an incorrect denomination.

    As we grow in our walk with Christ, we should be going from error to truth. And that would mean leaving a belief system that is contrary to Scripture.

    I agree we should progress towards truth in our walk with Christ. And as I said in post #100, this may mean seriously evaluating one’s church membership, if the general beliefs of that church don’t conform to what you know is right. But you hit the nail on the head when you said it’s the “belief system” that needs to be left. That is the key.

    When someone tells me what church they attend, I can pretty much know what they believe by asking the right questions. I don’t know of too many Catholics who will deny the rosary or any of the wild claims about Mary – yet it is great error.

    Maybe, but only by asking the right questions about what THEY believe. Do you see what I mean? I am Southern Baptist – do you know what I believe, simply by me telling you my denomination? No. You would have to ask ME what I believe. It’s no different with Catholics. Are there errors in what an individual Catholic might believe? Possibly – but you’d first have to ascertain what they believe by asking them, not just by assuming they’re incorrect b/c they’re Catholic.

    We should all, as believers, be teachable and willing to examine our beliefs and denominational creeds to see if it aligns with Scripture. Sadly, most who are in error do not want this. Because they know it will likely mean they will have to leave the particular group they are in that is teaching error.

    That may very well be the case. Often times, people are hesitant to leave b/c it means leaving many friends and acquaintances, which is difficult to do, especially if you’ve been there a long time. I agree we should be open to an examination of our beliefs, and be willing to change if necessary, but you really must watch what you say when generalizing denominations. It’s OK to say “if your beliefs conform to the general beliefs of ________ denomination, then I don’t think that conforms to the Bible.” But you really need to follow that up with “do you believe that way yourself?”

  106. Brad said

    Amen regarding the comments on denomination! Catholics, Evangelists, Episcopalians, Methodists and all other denominations can enter Heaven providing that they follow Christ faithfully. It just makes me so sad when people claim that others are damned because they are of a differing denomination. No one has the right to tell another person that they are going to Hell which is sadly something I have seen on this very web page. Only the Lord gets to say that.

    John DB, we also can’t forget that God gave us intelligence, and left us His Word in the Bible, so we can distinguish right from wrong, and can properly interpret what God has said to us through His Word. There is a clear path to salvation – and you can tell from the Bible what it is – so it is often apparent when others are not on that path. If someone tells me that they don’t believe Christ is the only way to Heaven, and that they have taken a different path, I can in all honesty look them square in the face and say “based on that belief, you have not been saved and will not go to heaven when you die.” Why? B/c the Bible says so.

  107. Hail Mary :) said

    The issue isn’t that a particular denomination saves. The issue is what that particular denomination stands for and teaches at this present moment.

    American Christianity is “denomination” driven. We want to know what “church you go to” so that we can get a feel of what you believe. Someone going to the Unitarian Universalist Church, well based on their attending that church, I would question their theology. Same situation with the person attending the Roman Catholic church. Nevermind what it stood for centuries ago. What does the Roman Catholic church espouse today? Therefore when I meet a person who attends a Cathlic church, I have a basic understanding of what they probably adhere to.

    Ultimately, it has to be on an individual basis. Yet, overall we can make a judgement call as to whether a particular group is Biblical or not by reading their statement of faith, creed, confession, etc.

    That being said, I again stand firm in my declaration that the Roman Catholic church is not a Christian denomination and all “professing” born-again believers inside it need to come out from it and “be ye seperate” because it is error to stay in a particular group that is in essence antiChrist and antiBible.

    I also encourage you to view a video concerning the “evangelicals and Catholics together” featureing RC Sproul, John MacArthur Jr., and D.James Kennedy. They have a question and answer session where they address the issue of should we accept Roman Catholicism as truly Christian. A great video. Can’t remember the name of it, but you should be able to purchase it on any of their websites or John Ankerberg’s website.

    Hail Mary 🙂

    Brad, you are so against the Mormon church and its teachings. So you should be. Yet, in that same way I am against the Roman Catholic church. Those in it are in error. Do you know what Roman Catholicism teaches? From their vicar, to their sacraments, to their “icons”, to their rosary, etc. It is error, grave error. We get in an uproar over Mormonism teaching that you must be in their organization in order to be assured of eternal bliss. Well Vatican I teaches that you must be under the umbrella of Roman Catholicism in hopes of eternal salvation. Vatica II tried to sweeten the pot so to speak by adding that protestant Christians are under the umbrella because we were “birthed” out of the “holy mother church”. The pope and priests will call us “brethren, yet in error”. Yet, in years past the popes declared that all who believe in salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone to be “anethema” and this “anethema” has never been recanted. I have to call it error for a professing believer to stay in the Roman Catholic church after they have received the truth of the gospel.

    Hail Mary 🙂

  108. Hail Mary :) said

    Also Brad,

    I could name errors in the SBC as well, but for the fundamentals of the faith – the solas of the reformation – the SBC does uphold. Yet, I have met SBC members who were SBC members but still dead in their trespasses and sins.

    Again, overall the SBC has stood for truth and at present still does. It is an individual basis. But I wouldn’t necessarily point a SBC member to another denomination because of the errors of the SBC. Yet, I will point every Roman Catholic that I meet to a Christian assembly/church. Because I do not want them in the Roman Catholic church, no more than you want any one in the church of Jesus Christ of latterday saints.

    What is in question is the core belief system of the group/organization/religion/denomination in relation to Christ and His word. Anyone who adheres to the solas should not be in the Roman Catholic church. It denies all points of the solas of the reformation, and in essence denies Scriptural salvation.

    Hail Mary 🙂

  109. John DB said

    Ah but you see my friend, how can you say that you hold the Bible as the ultimate source of truth if you are using an incomplete Bible? Martin Luther changed the Bible you use to fit the ends of his interpretation of scripture. He removed the book of James claiming it was “written by some Jew”. I follow the WHOLE Bible and therefor I do believe that in order to be a good Christian you need to do good works. I know that I will only be cast down to Hell by the Evangelicals among us but if you decide to judge as Matthew tells us not to then I’m afraid that (this is just my opinion , I am not saying “you will not go to heaven” as some of you have implicitly told me) I cannot accept your interpretation of scripture.

  110. Brad said

    Mary,

    I’m not disagreeing with your stance about the RCC not being correct in its stance on Scripture, salvation, etc… I agree with you on that point.

    I’m just saying that you can’t project the beliefs of the organization, onto each and every individual member of that organization. You know, it’s kind of like the statement you’ll see before some TV programs “the opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of this station…”.

    I do agree that one should seriously question their membership in any denomination who’s general views run contrary to Scripture. As such, I do believe Catholics who hold to salvation solely by faith should seriously question their membership. But will it keep them out of heaven if they don’t? No, I don’t believe it will.

    I’ll stop there. Thanks for your ideas.

  111. Hail Mary :) said

    Here we go….

    I assume John D B that you are referring to the apocryphal books of the Old testament and possibly the deuterocanonical books of the New Testament?

    Yes, Martin Luther was a heretic that deserved to be burned at the stake 😦 He declared that man is justified by grace through faith in Christ alone (eph 2:8-9; John 3:15-18).

    You follow the whole Bible? Then why do you need the Magisterium to interpret the Bible for you? And why does one pope contradict the previous one before him? Is he not infallible when speaking “ex cathedra”. Is he not the Christ on earth(vicar of Christ). Do you keep every jot, every tittle of the law perfectly 100% of the time? And what did Christ mean in Matthew concerning “judge not lest ye be judged” and who was He talking to?

    Hail Mary 🙂

  112. Brad said

    Ah but you see my friend, how can you say that you hold the Bible as the ultimate source of truth if you are using an incomplete Bible? Martin Luther changed the Bible you use to fit the ends of his interpretation of scripture. He removed the book of James claiming it was “written by some Jew”.

    Which translation of the Bible doesn’t have James in it? None that I’ve ever seen, though I don’t claim to have seen them all.

    I follow the WHOLE Bible and therefor I do believe that in order to be a good Christian you need to do good works.

    I follow “the whole Bible” too. James doesn’t say that you are saved by your works, he says that your works show you are saved. There’s a big difference between the two thoughts. If James said that your works save you, wouldn’t that clearly be contradicting Eph. 2:8-9? I do good works as a RESULT of my salvation, not to EARN my salvation. Which way do you lean on this one?

    I know that I will only be cast down to Hell by the Evangelicals among us but if you decide to judge as Matthew tells us not to then I’m afraid that (this is just my opinion , I am not saying “you will not go to heaven” as some of you have implicitly told me) I cannot accept your interpretation of scripture.

    I don’t think anyone’s trying to cast you to hell – take it easy. If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you believe that you are saved by faith alone through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, and you have Him as the Lord of your life, then I believe you are saved.

    Incidentally, when Matthew tells us not to judge, it doesn’t mean what I think you think it means. Do some hard study into that passage, and cross-reference it with the passages where we are told to be judges, and see what you find.

  113. jAsOn said

    John,

    Luther didn’t reject the canon of scriptures which the RCC upheld in 1517…the RCC didn’t cannonise the apocryphal writtings until after Luther posted his thesis.

    In the begining of the Reformation Luther wasn’t sure that he thought the early church should have affirmed the epistle of James as scripture, but in his later writtings he also thought it should have been included.

  114. jAsOn said

    Brad, Andy, Annon, others,

    Perhaps we can continue the discussion that started on the sexless marriage thread here.

    I have 2 more specific question2 than the title above,
    1. Can one who rejects sola scriptura for “theological” reasons be a Christian?

    2. Can one who rejects sola fide be a Christian?

    I know what I think…what about you all?

  115. Brad said

    Jason,

    Personally, I don’t think so. B/c I think it gets back to their core beliefs. If you reject sola Scriptura, what ELSE do you think you need to hold to? If you reject sola fide, what ELSE do you think you need to do to be saved?

    To me, rejecting those 2 says that you don’t believe the Bible is solely the Word of God and is all the instruction we need, and you don’t believe that faith alone is sufficient for salvation, which means, on whatever level, you are trying to work your way to God, which according to Scripture, is impossible.

    As I once heard it, “if your FAITH hasn’t saved you, then your faith HASN’T saved you!”

  116. jAsOn said

    I would answer the questions this way,

    2. Christians believe the gospel, one who rejects sola fide does not believe the gospel, therefore, one who rejects sola fide is not a Christian.

    1. If one rejects sola scriptura and uses extrabiblical sources to prove to themselves that we are not saved by faith alone, then that person who rejects sola scriptura is not a Christian.

    RC Sproul has a great resource for this discussion, “Getting the Gospel Right”. It is a book that is a commentary on the whole “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” issue.

    It has been said that the “formal cause” of the Reformation was the premise of sola scriptura, and the “material cause” was the premise, sola fide.

  117. Jared said

    First of all…nobody has the right to declare who is a Christian and who is not. If we were to look back a few centuries ago or so, we can trace the Catholic church back to the days of Jesus and the Apostles. Peter and Paul helped to create the Catholic church. Protestants believe that Catholics are not Christian because they don’t follow the same authority. Catholics follow scripture AND Apostolic tradition as put in place by the APOSTLES who were JESUS’ right hand men. Protestants protested a few hundred years later and broke off of the church. So while we’re here arguing about “Catholics adding to the Bible” lets take a look at what the Protestants did.

    THE PROTESTANTS BROKE OFF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND DELETED 7 BOOKS OF THE BIBLE IN ORDER TO FIT THEIR NEW DOCTRINE.

    So I guess the Catholics aren’t the only ones to change the Bible. People that think Catholics aren’t Christian have a very large misunderstanding of the Catholic faith.

    If people didn’t use such Evangelically biased sources, they would realize that Catholics are Christians after all.

  118. Hey Jared,

    Just an FYI that we’re not using this site anymore. Everything is now located at http://www.truthtalklive.com. We leave this one up for reference. Thanks for your comment.

    Moderator

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