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June 28, 2012


Why I Cannot Be a Roman Catholic

There are many reasons I cannot consider the Roman Catholic Church as a viable alternative but chief among them is Rome’s continued rejection of the biblical Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone. Some argue that this controversy need no longer separate Rome from the Reformation churches because it was based on a misunderstanding, some kind of semantic confusion, or even a misplaced emphasis on soteriology to the exclusion of ecclesiology. RC Sproul puts all those objections to rest and clearly articulates both the biblical doctrine of Justification and the Roman Catholic corruption of it.


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145 comments

(ok, So I just finished my law school exams and I figure I have enough time to write one more post)

As usual, Sproul gives an overall solid presentation on faith alone. My only concern is that occasionally he gets calvinist reformed distinctives (like denial of baptismal regeneration and denial that one can lose salvation through serious sin, etc) mixed up with the teaching of justification by faith alone articulated by Luther himself.

Luther taught baptismal regeneration—perhaps more strongly than Rome (though he helpfully distinguished the teaching on a number of points).

Luther also clearly taught that one could fall from Salvation as the Scriptures themselves clearly teach (God isn’t just pleading in Scriptures with true believers to beware of the pretend danger of losing salvation or warning false believers in the Church of the serious danger of losing their pretend salvation—as my Baptist and Presbyterian brothers in particular claim (although their emphasis on the importance of having a present firm assurance or certainty that we will be saved when we die is also a vitally important teaching of Scripture)).

Luther’s frequent warnings on losing Salvation (through serious sin, unbelief, etc) probably far outstrip what the majority of his contemporaries in Rome were teaching.

(Luther didn’t prefer the term “mortal sin” (and he provides very good grounds for his dislike of the term), but he certainly affirms the concept and his companions regularly used the term (eg Melancthon in the Apology of Augsburg). Of course, Luther is in good company on his affirmation of concept of mortal sin (eg the Apostle John in 1 John who teaches that there is “sin unto death” and “sin not unto death”).

Also, on Baptism Rome is a lot closer to typical evangelical thinking than many (including many Roman Catholics themselves) suppose. Aquinas (who was certainly not being contradicted by the Council of Trent—he was a primary source for the doctrines expounded and he was Summa was lauded by all present) taught in the Summa that an unbaptized individual partakes in Salvation at the moment of true faith (because of the (at least) implictit desire for Baptism that is always present with faith) prior to ever partaking in Sacrament of Baptism.

(As an interesting aside—Aquinas in the Summa and elsewhere teaches a doctrine of double predestination (with Augustine) that could match just about anything that Luther and Calvin said on the matter. He does, however, fall more in the infralapsarian category for all you reformed types wink ).

All that said, the critique of Rome by Sproul is spot-on and devastating on many of its primary points (and I say this with all due respect to my Roman Catholic brethren (many of whom I know to be amazing Christians—Who trust in Christ and His Work alone for their Salvation)). While I belive it’s possible to take a more charitable (pro-faith alone) reading of some of the statements of Rome in Trent than RC Sproul does (although he is certainly fair in his analysis)—I know I could never square all its assertions with the Word of God (which is necessary if one is to be a Roman Catholic because of the essentially infallible status of the Council of Trent for Rome (in contrast with the explicitly non-infallible status of the Articles of Religion, for instance))

God Bless,
WA Scott

[1] Posted by William on 6-28-2012 at 09:34 AM · [top]

Thomas Aquinastaught a doctrine of single predestination.  Predestination to damnation was rejected by the Second Council of Orange, which Aquinas would have considered binding Catholic theology.  Aquinas affirmed the universality of the atonement, and that all human beings receive sufficient grace to be saved.  Those who are damned are not damned because God has passed them by or refused to give them grace to be saved, but because they refused that grace that they received.  In summary, those who are saved are saved by the grace of God.  Those who are damned are damned by their own fault.

For an Anglican approach: http://willgwitt.org/anglican-reflections-on-justification

[2] Posted by William Witt on 6-28-2012 at 12:17 PM · [top]

Calvin, nor the synod of Dort teach “double predestination”. Double predestination locates the cause of damnation in the active choice of God to damn. Only hyper-calvinists do this.  Those who are damned are damned by their own fault. The cause is their own sin. God’s choice is to let them have their way and not intervene.

[3] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-28-2012 at 12:47 PM · [top]

It all depends on how someone defines double predestination. It can be used in a symmetrical sense (hyper-Calvinist), or in a non-symmetrical sense (as Calvin and Augustine use it).

As for the Second Council of Orange—they certainly condemned the symmetrical form of predestination—but it seems a little counter-intuitive that they would anathematize Augustine who explicitly taught non-symmetrical double predestination (that God has “predestined” some to punishment and others to grace).

Chp 100 of the Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love:
…He used the very will of the creature which was working in opposition to the Creator’s will as an instrument for carrying out His will, the supremely Good thus turning to good account even what is evil, to the condemnation of those whom in His justice He has predestined to punishment, and to the salvation of those whom in His mercy He has predestined to grace. For, as far as relates to their own consciousness, these creatures did what God wished not to be done: but in view of God’s omnipotence, they could in no wise effect their purpose. For in the very fact that they acted in opposition to His will, His will concerning them was fulfilled.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1302.htm

Throughout the Summa and his other works Aquinas clearly expresses his agreement with Augustine on the doctrine of predestination (that God has unconditionally elected some and thereby reprobated the rest (on account of their own sins—actual and original)).

Further, Augustine taught that “original sin” was a sufficient basis for God’s “predestination to punishment.” He uses the case of those who die as infants to illustrate the completely unconditional nature of God’s predestination—how from two infants equally under original sin and without any works good or bad, God predestined one to be Baptized, while accordingly to God’s Sovereign Will the other child dies in original sin without Baptism. The damnation of the unbaptized infant is of course something I disagree with strongly (I hope very much in God’s unmerited mercy toward all unborn and infants who die without Baptism)—but despite its disturbing nature, it is a powerful illustration of how strongly Augustine held to the absolute sovereignty of God in Salvation. 

God Bless,
WA Scott

[4] Posted by William on 6-28-2012 at 01:56 PM · [top]

William,

The Second Council of Orange did not anathematize Augustine.  They rejected an erroneous alternative to his theology (semi-Pelagianism), while simultaneously rejecting one aspect of Augustine’s theology (predestination to damnation), embracing a third position advocated by people like Prosper of Aquitaine, sometimes called “semi-Augustinianism.”

Aquinas expresses agreement with Augustine on positive predestination.  However, he never affirms predestination to damnation, and specifically denies that predestination and reprobation can be understood in the same manner:

“Reprobation differs in its causality from predestination. This latter is the cause both of what is expected in the future life by the predestined—namely, glory—and of what is received in this life—namely, grace. Reprobation, however, is not the cause of what is in the present—namely, sin; but it is the cause of abandonment by God. It is the cause, however, of what is assigned in the future—namely, eternal punishment. But guilt proceeds from the free-will of the person who is reprobated and deserted by grace. In this way, the word of the prophet is true—namely, ‘Destruction is thy own, O Israel.’ ”  ST 1.1. 23.3. Aquinas denies positive reprobation.


Moreover, Thomas affirms that God gives sufficient grace even to the reprobate, something Calvin would have denied.

Calvin does teach positive reprobation: ““By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death” (Institutes 3:21:5) Note that Calvin says that some are “preordained . . . to eternal damnation,” and this is a consequence, not of sin, but of God’s decision to create. Whether you want to call that “double predestination” or not is up to you.

I have no desire to get bogged down in a discussion of Thomas’s views on predestination.  My point is that he does not “match” with Calvin or Luther.

[5] Posted by William Witt on 6-28-2012 at 02:42 PM · [top]

Really good comments, even though I cannot follow all of them.  One of the things about Roman Catholicism that bothers me is the doctrine that says consuming just the bread is fully sufficient and just as efficacious as consuming the bread and the wine.  I recently went to a Catholic funeral mass and the priest and what I took to be the Communion stewards received both the bread and the wine while the altar boys and congregation just received the bread.  What’s the deal with this, what is its history, and what is their justification for doing it this way?  Everybody else in Christendom seems to let the laity have both elements.

[6] Posted by Daniel on 6-28-2012 at 03:15 PM · [top]

William,

I am sorry but I have studied Luther’s theology a bit and I must confess that I do not understand how you can assert that Luther held to the teaching of mortal sin.

Given his comments in the Hiedelberg Disputation (a fundamental text necessary to understand Luther’s Theology of the Cross), The Freedom of a Christian, and On The Councils of The Church, it seems clear that Luther utterly rejected the concept of mortal sins, seeing it as a denial of proper faith in Christ and a denial of the Gospel.  If there was such a thing as “mortal sin” in his understanding, it would be reduced solely to failing placing one’s faith in Christ toward the assurance of salvation.  Outside of that salvific faith, all of one’s actions qualify as mortal sin and are inherently blasphemous.  Within that faith, all sin is forgiven, regardless of the sin,  because one has received salvation on account of Christ’s work upon the cross. 

He actually talks about this to a great deal in the Hiedelberg but it really permeates his entire theology.  This of course does not imply that Luther was an antinomian, which was a charge that he was often accused with. As seen in Two Kind’s of Righteousness. Luther believed that one was saved solely by the grace of God and that this grace necessarily manifested itself in a life of love towards neighbor and faithfulness to God.

Also, in light of his comments in Bondage of The Will and Two Kinds of Righteousness, it can be seen that Luther did not see this salvific faith, and the life that springs out of it, as a personal work.  It was not something which one could/would remove themselves from.  Rather, it is a sole result of God’s elective and gracious work, through effectively uniting the sinner to Christ, in his Spirit, through the Gospel. Any warnings and admonitions that Luther makes need to be judged in light of this basic tenant of his theology.  So for instance, when Luther warns against falling away from the faith, he does so with the understanding that Christians won’t. This also relates to Luther’s understanding of the “two wills of God” and the relationship between the Law and the Gospel.

Also, the Magisterial Reformers didn’t believe that single predestination made any sense.  Luther didn’t think so. Calvin didn’t think so. Cranmer didn’t think so.  Luther thought that not only did single predestination logically contain double predestination, he also thought that the doctrine was itself a Biblical necessity (Bondage of The Will). In regards to the Council of Orange, I am not familiar with its particularities but I am confident in saying that Luther and all the Magisterial Reformers held that councils could err, had no inherent authority, and needed to be judged by the teachings of Scripture.

Also, though I confess that I do not know Luther’s personal thoughts on Aquinas himself, it is obvious that insofar as Aquinas was a scholastic, Luther utterly opposed his methodology (95 Thesis, Disputation Against Scholasticism, Preface to The Wittenberg Edition of Luther’s German Writings).  Luther loathed Scholastic theology and did not even consider it to really be theology.

Also, Matt, I must respectfully disagree with your characterization of Calvin’s double predestination. By double predestination, I mean the teaching that just as the elect are saved in accordance to God’s decree to creation and in light of nothing other then the free will of God, those who are not elect are likewise reprobate, in accordance to God’s decree.  Calvin definitely did believe in double predestination (Book III, Ch 21, Institutes).  Hyper-Calvinism is a heresy that most essentially relates to the Christians call to spread the gospel and the scope of that call.  It is a twisting of the doctrine of predestination so as to avoid acting upon the commandments of God. Really though, i find it to be a poorly defined heresy.  That is, most of what is attributed to it usually relates to other heresies, such as antinomianism.  And then of course it is also a pejorative term slapped onto those aspects of Calvinism that people just don’t like, but which are in fact authentically Calvinist.

As far as personal responsibility, in regards to one’s own destruction…  William Perkins, an early Anglican/Puritan theologian, wrote heavily on this subject in his work, A Golden Chain.  It was his position that those who are decreed in such a way live lives in accordance with to their calling just as much as Christians live in accordance with theirs. They thereby inherently merit their own damnation through secondary causation, i.e. their will, which correlates to the decrees of God.

Still though, I admit that “double predestination” is a “difficult” teaching.  However, whether we like it or not, find it morally justifiable or not, means nothing.  The question is, the ONLY question, is whether or not it is Biblical.  Luther thought so, but Luther admitted that he did not fully understand it, or how it was just on the part of God.  Still though, he was willing to accept it on account of Scripture and believed that God was just regardless of whether or not he understood how, and also that at the end of all things, he would be able to understand it, and God’s goodness in it, in light of a fuller apprehension of God’s righteousness, on the last day (The Bondage of the Will).  I believe Calvin takes a similar position.

Also, in regards to the Synod of Dort, I cannot comment on all those in attendance, but I do know that William Ames, a student of Perkins, was present at that synod, served as a consultant to the moderator there, and was a staunch supporter of double-predestination.  His thought, like Perkins, had a tremendous impact upon the progression of English Protestantism, for generations.  William Ames, to the best of my knowledge, never spoke out against that council.  Take from that what you will.

[7] Posted by thisisnotmyname on 6-28-2012 at 03:23 PM · [top]

Hello William Witt,

I agree that the second Council of Orange is more moderate in its proclamations on the issue of predestination than Augustine (although neither Prosper nor the 2nd Council of Orange objected to starkest example of Augustine’s teaching—namely the unconditional nature of election the election of infants). 

As for anathematizing Augustine—if they condemned double predestination in every sense, then they most certainly anathematized Augustine:
2nd Council of Orange:
“We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.”
http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_orange.html

As for Aquinas, although he only uses the term predestination in relation to the elect, he definitely taught in substance a non-symmetric form of double predestination (God unconditionally predestined some and reprobated the rest).

Of course, double predestination in some form is a logical necessity if one affirms (as all predestinarians do—whether single or double) that someone will only come to Salvation as a result of God’s sovereign and unconditional election (ie in order to uncoditionally elect some our Lord necessarily chooses sovereignly to pass over the rest and leave them in their sin).

Where Aquinas differs primarily from Calvin and Luther is in his more infralapsarian understanding of election. Both Calvin and Luther often express their understanding of election in a supralapsarian manner. 

God Bless,
WA Scott

[8] Posted by William on 6-28-2012 at 03:55 PM · [top]

I don’t want to throw an interesting discussion on different theologies of justification off course.  But I would like to note that I have considered Roman Catholicism a viable alternative on many occasions, and whenever I get jazzed up about it a showstopping volcano of scandals erupts.  There’s something about the way that entire culture thinks about and operationalizes power at every level, including the very definition of a priest, that frightens me.  Yes, there are some very interesting encyclicals separating the holiness of the Church from the fallenness of her agents, so maybe they are the true Church “by right if not fact.”  But as this discussion highlights, the problems extend beyond the opulence of the Vatican to the Catholic understanding of reason and their long history of over-promising, over-determining, and over-controling philosophically.  Hang out with Catholics and you will find some of the most wonderful people on Earth, but half the time they talk about Aristotle instead of Jesus!  No wonder so much of the modern world gives them fits; they tied Christianity to guys disproven in 6th grade science class.

That said, there is almost nothing I would like more than for all Christians to unite in truth and love to God’s glory.

[9] Posted by The Plantagenets on 6-28-2012 at 04:02 PM · [top]

[Post #7]

Hello and thanks for the comments. You are certainly correct that Luther held all sin (and rightfully so) to be “mortal”—in the sense that it deserves eternal damnation (and this is the reason he didn’t like to use the term—although he never had any serious objection to its proper use, as was done by Melancthon in the central defense of Luther’s teaching—the Apology of Augsburg*).

That said, he did believe that certain sins were “unto death” in the sense that they drove true faith and the Holy Spirit out of the person who came under the dominion of them.

Luther’s Smalcald Articles:
It is, accordingly, necessary to know and to teach that when holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them [they cast out faith and the Holy Ghost]. For the Holy Ghost does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] not present. For St. John says, 1 John 3:9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, ... and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the truth when the same St. John says, 1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

*Melanthon Apology of Augsburg
On Love and Fulfilling the Law:
Likewise the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, i.e., it is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels the wrath of God against our sins, and seeks the remission of sins, and to be freed from sin. And in such terrors and other afflictions this faith ought to grow and be strengthened. Wherefore 22] it cannot exist in those who live according to the flesh who are delighted by their own lusts and obey them. Accordingly, Paul says, Rom. 8, 1: There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. So, too 8, 12. 13: We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 23] Wherefore, the faith which receives remission of sins in a heart terrified and fleeing from sin does not remain in those who obey their desires, neither does it coexist with mortal sin.
http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgdefense/5_love.html

God Bless,
WA Scott

[10] Posted by William on 6-28-2012 at 04:28 PM · [top]

Of course, the proper teaching of mortal sin is alive and well in the understanding of faith alone taught by the key figures of the Anglican reformation and the Anglican formularies.

In the following passage Latimer describes in further detail the “deadly” (or, “mortal” sin) spoken of in Article 16, and in particular the “deadly sin” of fornication spoken of in the BCP Litany (of course Latimer affirmed the “Augustinian” teaching in Article 17 that the Elect Good Ground or Vessels of Honor, do not fall utterly from Salvation as other men but ultimately persevere to the end).

[THE SIXTH SERMON, PREACHED ON THE FIRST SUNDAY
IN ADVENT, 1552, BY MASTER HUGH LATIMER—written when the 1552 BCP and the 1553 version of the Articles of Religion (including Articles 16 and 17) were being completed]
“But there be two manner of sins: there is a deadly sin, and a venial sin; that is, sins that be pardonable, and sins that be not pardonable. Now how shall we know which be venial sins, or which be not ? for it is good to know them, and so to keep us from them.

...Which be venial sins? Every sin that is committed against God not wittingly, nor willingly ; not consenting unto it : those be venial sins. As for an ensample : I see a fair woman, I am moved in my heart to sin with her, to commit the act of lechery with her : such thoughts rise out of my heart, but I consent not unto them ; I withstand these ill motions, I follow the ensample of that godly young man, Joseph ; I consider in what estate I am, namely, a temple of God, and that I should lose the Holy Ghost; on such wise I withstand my ill lusts and appetites, yet this motion in my heart is sin ; this ill lust which riseth up ; but it is a venial sin, it is not a mortal sin, because I consent not unto it, I withstand it ; and such venial sins the just man committeth daily. For scripture saith, Septiea cadit Justus, ” The righteous man falleth seven times;” that is, oftentimes: for his works are not so perfect as they ought to be. For I pray you, who is he that loveth his neighbour so perfectly and vehemently as he ought to do? Now this imperfection is sin, but it is a venial sin, not a mortal : therefore he that feeleth his imperfections, feeleth the ill1 motions in his heart, but followeth them not, consenteth not unto the wickedness are to do them ; these be venial sins, which shall not be unto us to our damnation…I put the case, Joseph had not resisted the temptations of his master’s wife, but had followed her, and fulfilled the act of lechery with her ; had weighed the matter after a worldly fashion, thinking, “I have my mistress’s favour already, and so by that mean I shall have my master’s favour too ; nobody knowing of it.” Now if he had done so, this act had been a deadly sin ; for any act that is done against the law of God willingly and if sin have wittingly, is a deadly sin. And that man or woman that committeth such an act, loseth the Holy Ghost and the remission of sins ; and so becometh the child of the devil, being before the child of God. For a regenerate man or woman, that believeth, ought to have dominion over sin ; but as soon as sin hath rule over him, he is gone: for she leadeth him to delectation of it, and from delectation to consenting, and so from consenting to the act itself. Now he that is led so with sin, he is in the state of damnation, and sinneth damnably. And so ye may perceive which be they that sin deadly, and what is the deadly sin; namely, that he sinneth deadly that wittingly falleth in sin: therefore it is a perilous thing to be in such an estate, to be in the state of damnation and everlasting perdition.”

The entire Sermon can be read here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=EFoJAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA8&dq=latimer&ei=Y-tOSeCdM6TCMYOenY0M#PPR5,M1

Or, as the Anglican Homily against Fornication (Book of Homilies) notes even more graphically regarding the loss of Salvation which occurs through this deadly sin of fornication:
He declares also that our bodies are the members of Christ. How unseemly a thing is it then to cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ, and through whoredom to be enjoined and made all one with a whore?”
http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk1hom11.htm

God Bless,
WA Scott

p.s. The only clarification I might make to Latimer’s description of mortal sin is that thoughts (even without the ultimate follow through) can definitely destroy a saving faith—which is sadly seen so much in our day (this is why Christ tells those who believe in Him (in the context of warning about spiritual adultery)—that it’s better to pluck out your eye than have your entire body and soul cast into hell).

[11] Posted by William on 6-28-2012 at 05:05 PM · [top]

[6] Daniel,

You asked:

What’s the deal with (receiving the eucharist in both kinds, i.e., both bread and wine) what is its history, and what is their justification for doing it this way?

There is a good summary discussion at Catholic Answers. Basically, the doctrine of the Church is that the confected Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.

Additionally, although most non-Catholics (and not a few poorly-catechized Catholics) think that the Catholic Church is monolithic, in most all things not explicitly controlled by canon law or by the extraordinary universal magisterium (this is the exercise of the teaching office of the Church that is held to be infallible—this is explained in more detail midway down the page here), the determination of what is, and what is not, permitted in a diocese is the responsibility of the Bishop (the ordinary) of that diocese. So it till typically fall to the Bishop to prescribe when and in what forms the Eucharist is to be made available to the people.

Hope that helps.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[12] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 6-28-2012 at 05:12 PM · [top]

[6] Daniel,

Additionally, what you took to be “Communion stewards” or what is most commonly referred to as Lay Eucharistic Ministers in American Anglicanism, are properly called Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (abbrev. EMHCs). The reason for the distinction is that is that the Eucharist is a re-presentation of the sacrifice made, once for all, by Christ on the cross, which is to say that when the priest “confects” the Eucharist, he is making that once for all sacrifice present on the altar. Once the blood and wine have been transformed in the epiclesis in response to the priest’s prayer to the Father, it contains the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. If it is unconsumed at that time, it is generally reserved in tabernacle and the chancel light is lighted to indicate that Christ reposes therein. On Good Friday, we do not celebrate the Eucharist—Christ is in the grave. What is celebrated is Holy Communion, which is the distribution of already consecrated hosts. The difference in terminology between the Communion and Eucharist emphasizes to the faithful that distinction. The EMHCs distribute the consecrated host (and wine if offered in that species) but the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Thanksgiving (eucharist is the Greek word for thanks or thanksgiving), has already been celebrated. Communion shares Christ among the faithful.

Please realize that, as a relatively new Catholic, I may have gotten some small detail or term wrong, but that is at least a start to understanding some of the reasoning behind the differences.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[13] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 6-28-2012 at 05:24 PM · [top]

Hi William Witt

“Calvin does teach positive reprobation: “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death” (Institutes 3:21:5)”

Not really. This quote does not establish “double predistination”. To say that God determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man is to say nothing about the means through which or the grounds upon which what he ordains comes to pass. Nor does the second sentence add much detail - that some are pre-ordained to life and others to death is both true and silent about the grounds upon which those who are condemned are, in fact, condenmed.

Certainly God hardnens those he does not elect…but the hardening is the necessary result of the word of God on the unregenerate heart. So, certainly being preordained to noto say that some are preordained to eternal life and others to eternal damnation is to say nothing about the means or the grounds.

If you read a bit further in the Institutes, however, you will find that Calvin does indeed address the question:

“when we are accosted in such terms as these, Why did God from the first predestine some to death, when, as they were not yet in existence, they could not have merited sentence of death? let us by way of reply ask in our turn, What do you imagine that God owes to man, if he is pleased to estimate him by his own nature? As we are all vitiated by sin, we cannot but be hateful to God, and that not from tyrannical cruelty, but the strictest justice. But if all whom the Lord predestines to death are naturally liable to sentence of death, of what injustice, pray, do they complain? Should all the sons of Adam come to dispute and contend with their Creator, because by his eternal providence they were before their birth doomed to perpetual destruction, when God comes to reckon with them, what will they be able to mutter against this defense? If all are taken from a corrupt mass, it is not strange that all are subject to condemnation. Let them not, therefore, charge God with injustice, if by his eternal judgment they are doomed to a death to which they themselves feel that whether they will or not they are drawn spontaneously by their own nature…” (Institutes 3.23.3)

Notice that while God, as creator is the ultimate cause of all things, the ground of damnation is not God’s decision but human corruption (the ground of election, by contrast is God’s active grace).

The synod of Dort is clear about this as well:

“Moreover, Holy Scripture most especially highlights this eternal and undeserved grace of our election and brings it out more clearly for us, in that it further bears witness that not all people have been chosen but that some have not been chosen or have been passed by in God’s eternal election - those, that is, concerning whom God, on the basis of his entirely free, most just, irreproachable, and unchangeable good pleasure, made the following decision: to leave them in the common misery into which, by their own fault, they have plunged themselves; not to grant them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but finally to condemn and eternally punish them (having been left in their own ways and under his just judgment), not only for their unbelief but also for all their other sins, in order to display his justice. And this is the decision of reprobation, which does not at all make God the author of sin (a blasphemous thought!) but rather its fearful, irreproachable, just judge and avenger.
Canons of Dort (1:15)”

So, no, neither Calvin nor Calvinism teaches double predestination. The ground of damnation is the sin of man.

[14] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-28-2012 at 05:37 PM · [top]

Have I missed reading a critique on the RC/Lutheran agreed statement on Justification, which surely is one of the modern-day operative documents on the subject? http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html

[15] Posted by A Senior Priest on 6-28-2012 at 05:45 PM · [top]

Thank you for the quotes.

In regards to the quote from the Smalcald Articles, I do not see the quote as an endorsement of mortal sin but rather as a defense against the charge of Antinomianism.  He is still in opposition of any understanding that holds that one is able to freely preclude oneself from God’s grace.  I once again maintain this position in light Luther’s other writings.  Just from Bondage of The Will:

What we are asking is whether he has free choice in relation to God, so that God obeys man and does what man wills, or rather, whether God has free choice in relation to man, so that man wills and does what God wills and is not able to do anything but what God wills and does. The Baptist says here that a man can receive nothing except what is given him from heaven; consequently, free choice must be nothing.

Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 33: Luther’s works, vol. 33 : Career of the Reformer III (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (285). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

But now, since God has taken my salvation out of my hands into his, making it depend on his choice and not mine, and has promised to save me, not by my own work or exertion but by his grace and mercy, I am assured and certain both that he is faithful and will not lie to me, and also that he is too great and powerful for any demons or any adversities to be able to break him or to snatch me from him. “No one,” he says, “shall snatch them out of my hand, because my Father who has given them to me is greater than all” [John 10:28 f.]. So it comes about that, if not all, some and indeed many are saved, whereas by the power of free choice none at all would be saved, but all would perish together. Moreover, we are also certain and sure that we please God, not by the merit of our own working, but by the favor of his mercy promised to us, and that if we do less than we should or do it badly, he does not hold this against us, but in a fatherly way pardons and corrects us. Hence the glorying of all the saints in their God.

Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 33: Luther’s works, vol. 33 : Career of the Reformer III (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (289). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

In truth, Luther affirms that salvation is solely the product of God’s grace, to the exclusion of our works, so repetitively in this work, I had trouble singling out quotes for this post.  His major point is that we cannot simultaneously hold that our salvation is both a product of our efforts, and thereby allowing for mortal sin, and at the same time a product of grace.  He sees the two positions as mutually exclusive and holds the former to be reducible to Pelagianism. 

Now, Diatribe has said, and all the Sophists say, that we secure grace and prepare ourselves to receive it by our own endeavor, even if not “condignly,” yet at least “congruously.” This is plainly a denial of Christ, when it is for his grace that we receive grace, as the Baptist testifies. For I have already exposed that fiction about “condign” and “congruous,” showing that these are empty words, and that what they really have in mind is the merit of worthiness, and this to a more ungodly degree than the Pelagians themselves, as we said. The result is that the ungodly Sophists and Diatribe alike deny the Lord Christ who bought us, more than the Pelagians or any heretics ever denied him. So little can grace tolerate the power of free choice or even the slightest hint of it.

Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 33: Luther’s works, vol. 33 : Career of the Reformer III (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (279–280). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

There are other quotes I could find you in other works, specifically the Hiedleberg Disputation, and Two Kinds of Righteousness, but I thought that that would be excessive.  My point is simply that Luther’s soteriology was absolutely grace dependent and therefore could tolerate no grounds for the will to disqualify oneself from it.

[16] Posted by thisisnotmyname on 6-28-2012 at 06:01 PM · [top]

A senior priest, the Joint Statement has been discussed many times on SF. I think it a semantic gloss not a substantive agreement.

[17] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-28-2012 at 06:14 PM · [top]

Thanks for your thorough response and all the great quotes from Luther. Luther was a firm predestinarian like Augustine before him (not to mention the Scriptures themselves). 

“My point is simply that Luther’s soteriology was absolutely grace dependent and therefore could tolerate no grounds for the will to disqualify oneself from it.”

The first point of this is true, but the other doesn’t necessarily follow. It is only through God working in us that we may ever “will” and “do” His good pleasure. Those who cease to “will” and “do” His good pleasure do so because He has sovereignly and justly withdrawn His grace (ie He has justly ordained to allow them, of their own will, to come back under the dominion of their unregenerate old man/nature).

Those who do not cease to “will” and “do” His good pleasure only continue because of God’s sheer sovereign mercy and grace (not because of anything innately better in them—just as those who come to Christ in the first place only do it as a result of God’s sheer sovereign mercy and grace).

As Augustine and Luther affirmed—God Sovereignly wills to give the gift of saving faith to some while justly withholding the gift of perseverance to the end (even as He sovereignly wills to give both the gift of faith and the gift of perseverance to His elect while sovereignly and justly willing that others should not receive the gift of faith).

None of this destroys assurance of Salvation—it actually can strengthen a true assurance by helping us to not question when we fall as to whether we were actually saved in the first place (which can sometimes be a real problem in when the Scriptural teaching of real apostasy from grace is denied). Scripture commands us to come to a firm and full assurance of our election in Christ (“make your calling and election sure” 2 Peter)—to live in a constant state of uncertainty/lack of assurance as to our election (and thus our final destination) is to live in disobedience to God’s Word.

Anyhow, the affirmation of God’s absolute sovereignty and sola gracia in no way overthrows the very real role of our will (as God said: “CHOOSE this day Whom you will serve”)—they go hand in hand. As I quoted from Augustine earlier (and it is very applicable to the issue of apostasy) and as Luther fully affirmed:
Chp 100 of the Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love:
…He used the very will of the creature which was working in opposition to the Creator’s will as an instrument for carrying out His will, the supremely Good thus turning to good account even what is evil, to the condemnation of those whom in His justice He has predestined to punishment, and to the salvation of those whom in His mercy He has predestined to grace. For, as far as relates to their own consciousness, these creatures did what God wished not to be done: but in view of God’s omnipotence, they could in no wise effect their purpose. For in the very fact that they acted in opposition to His will, His will concerning them was fulfilled.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1302.htm

Unfortunately I only have room for a few clips from two sermons of Luther that are just a of the innumerable strong statements that Luther made on the issue of losing Salvation:
The apostle refers to this subject in Romans 7: 5, 8, 23, and elsewhere, frequently explaining how, in the saints, there continue to remain various lusts of original sin, which constantly rise in the effort to break out, even gross external vices. These have to be resisted. They are strong enough utterly to enslave a man, to subject him to the deepest guilt, as Paul complains (Rom 7, 23); and they will surely do it unless the individual, by faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit, oppose and conquer them.

29. Therefore, saints must, by a vigorous and unceasing warfare, subdue their sinful lusts if they would not lose God’s grace and their faith. Paul says in Romans 8, 13: “If ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” In order, then, to retain the Spirit and the incipient divine life, the Christian must contend against himself.
http://www.orlutheran.com/html/mlseco31.html

Or, as Luther says in another sermon:
The sins remaining in saints after conversion are various evil inclinations, lusts and desires natural to man and contrary to the Law of God. The saints, as well as others, are conscious of these sins, but with this difference: they do not permit themselves to be overcome thereby so as to obey the sins, allowing them free course; they do not yield to, but resist, such sins, and, as Paul expresses it here, incessantly purge themselves therefrom. The sins of the saints, according to him, are the very ones which they purge out. Those who obey their lusts, however, do not do this, but give rein to the flesh, and sin against the protest of their own consciences.

They who resist their sinful lusts retain faith and a good conscience, a thing impossible with those who fail to resist sin and thus violate their conscience and overthrow their faith. If you persist in that which is evil regardless of the voice of conscience, you cannot say, nor believe, that you have God’s favor. So then, the Christian necessarily must not yield to sinful lusts.
http://www.orlutheran.com/html/mlse1co5.html
 
I would encourage everyone to read the entire sermons that I linked, and check out the other numerous and excellent writings of Luther on this issue.

God Bless,
WA Scott

[18] Posted by William on 6-28-2012 at 08:14 PM · [top]

“as God said: “CHOOSE this day Whom you will serve””
Um, that was supposed to be “as God said through His servant Joshua” (and as God speaks throughout Scripture—“CHOOSE life” Duet 30:19, etc).

WA Scott

[19] Posted by William on 6-28-2012 at 08:23 PM · [top]

Matt and William,

As noted above, I don’t intend to get this sidetracked with a discussion of the finepoints of either Luther or Calvin on predestination.  I do know something about these things, since they were a major focus of my disssertation.

To Matt:  Calvin is not Dort.  Dort embraced an infralapsarian understanding of predestination.  I am aware of attempts to make Calvin an infralapsarian, but I just don’t think it will work.  There are too many places where Calvin clearly embraces what will later be known as supralapsarianism.  I think it clear that Calvin places the decree to predestine and reprobate logically prior to the decree to permit/ordain the fall.  But supralapsarianism is not a mere passing by, but a positive predestination to damnation.

Calvin at times writes as if reprobation depended on sin, as you note above, but elsewhere he is clear that the fall itself was ordained, and not merely permitted in order to make it possible for God to justly condemn the reprobate.  All supralapsarians agree on this, yet they also agree that God decrees to reprobate prior to decreeing to permit/ordain the fall.

You are, of course, free to disagree with my reading.  I’m not sure that it makes any difference.  One does not have to be a supralapsarian to be a Calvinist.

To William:  You may be correct about the implications of a certain kind of absolute unconditional predestination.  The problem is that Thomas specifically denies that God passes anyone by and leaves them in their sin.  One cannot simply say that because Aquinas says X about predestination, he must have believed Y about reprobation because he didn’t.  Perhaps Thomas was inconsistent, but there it is. Rather than going round and round about whose interpretation is correct, I would suggest reading the numerous studies on Thomas’s own views that have appeared in recent decades.  Again, I’m not sure that it matters.

[20] Posted by William Witt on 6-28-2012 at 08:30 PM · [top]

Hi William Witt

I agree that Calvin was Supralapsarian. I disagree that that supralapsarianism is equivalent to double predestination as the term is commonly used…precisely because supralapsarians ground the damnation of the reprobate in their own sins. This is not to say that the decision to damn them was not made beforehand…of course it was…but the ground or basis of their damnation is their own sin. You indicate that Calvin makes statements that indicate damnation rests in sin while elsewhere affirming that the decision to damn was ordained beforehand….yes. both/and. That is the supralapsarian position. God determined to save some and to damn others but the basis of the decision to save is grace and to damn is sin.

[21] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-28-2012 at 08:53 PM · [top]

The quote below by Philip Johnson is a good explanation of the distinction between supralapsarianism and double predestination:

“Supralapsarianism is the view that God, contemplating man as yet unfallen, chose some to receive eternal life and rejected all others. So a supralapsarian would say that the reprobate (non-elect)—vessels of wrath fitted for destruction (Rom. 9:22)—were first ordained to that role, and then the means by which they fell into sin was ordained. In other words, supralapsarianism suggests that God’s decree of election logically preceded His decree to permit Adam’s fall—so that their damnation is first of all an act of divine sovereignty, and only secondarily an act of divine justice.
    Supralapsarianism is sometimes mistakenly equated with “double predestination.” The term “double predestination” itself is often used in a misleading and ambiguous fashion. Some use it to mean nothing more than the view that the eternal destiny of both elect and reprobate is settled by the eternal decree of God. In that sense of the term, all genuine Calvinists hold to “double predestination”—and the fact that the destiny of the reprobate is eternally settled is clearly a biblical doctrine (cf. 1 Peter 2:8; Romans 9:22; Jude 4). But more often, the expression “double predestination” is employed as a pejorative term to describe the view of those who suggest that God is as active in keeping the reprobate out of heaven as He is in getting the elect in. (There’s an even more sinister form of “double predestination,” which suggests that God is as active in making the reprobate evil as He is in making the elect holy.)
This view (that God is as active in reprobating the non-elect as He is in redeeming the elect) is more properly labeled “equal ultimacy” (cf. R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God, 142). It is actually a form of hyper-Calvinism and has nothing to do with true, historic Calvinism. Though all who hold such a view would also hold to the supralapsarian scheme, the view itself is not a necessary ramification of supralapsarianism.
    Supralapsarianism is also sometimes wrongly equated with hyper-Calvinism. All hyper-Calvinists are supralapsarians, though not all supras are hyper-Calvinists.

[22] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-28-2012 at 08:59 PM · [top]

Hello William Witt,

Having read a good deal of Aquinas and hearing some good and not so good interpretations of his beliefs on predestination—we’ll just have to agree to disagree. (I will say in brief that while there may be some real debate about Aquinas’ earlier beliefs—I think that his later beliefs (eg in his Summa and his commentaries on the Book of Romans, etc) couldn’t be clearer on this issue).

God Bless and thanks for a very interesting discussion.

[23] Posted by William on 6-28-2012 at 09:16 PM · [top]

Interesting question.  I suppose there are a number of theological problems I would have in becoming a Catholic, although I appreciate much in that church.  But more than that when I think about it, I find the hierachical and authoritarian nature of the church just overwhelms me with a sense of oppression from which my instinct is to run a mile and would I suspect leave me most unhappy to be a Catholic, whereas with all its problems, I am very happy and encouraged to be an Anglican.  If anything the last few years have strengthened that conviction particularly with the interaction with Anglicans all over the world.

Where I do find great richness in the Catholic Church is in its prayer life from the great work going on in some of its monasteries, which we Anglicans find really helpful.

Not a very theological answer I am afraid, but it is mine.

[24] Posted by Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] on 6-28-2012 at 09:30 PM · [top]

[6]  Keith, I’m glad you’re still on StandFirm despite your new home in the Catholic Church.  You inspire me to note what inspires me about the Catholic Church and what I think those outside it can learn from:

1)  As we agreed before, the CDF for all its flaws does provide a strong corrective to heresy.  What I wouldn’t give for a group of smart, tough, but patient theologians to descend on Katherine Jefferts Schori’s thinking.  Catholics don’t monkey around with standards nearly as much.  At best, they address reprove and forgive.
2)  Contemplative tradition especially for prayer.
3)  Love for Christians and the Church from 120AD to 1500AD.  Catholicism opens up an enormous number of periods and worlds that I overlooked in Protestant circles.  What I wouldn’t give for Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care to hold the same authority in Protestantism as it does in the Catholic Church.  Likewise for the great doctors of the Church like St. Chrysostom.
4)  Short daily mass
5)  Confession
6)  The problems are very public.
6)  Irish and Italian doggedness.  Mixing of blue and white collar at the parish level.
6)  It’s big enough to support a real heterosexual courtship culture—you go to a big Catholic parish and there are enough young people interested in raising families.
7)  Staunch “culture of life” and pro-life witness.
8)  International scope.  The enormity of God and the Church really hits you especially at the Vatican and the big cathedrals.  Plus, as a Catholic you lose being plugged into Britain and WASP America to a degree but you get most of France, Ireland, Latin America, Italy, the Philippines, and Central Europe.
9)  High appreciation for visual art and beauty.

I’m sure there’s much more that I’m ignorant of and again not very theological, but it makes me want to ask how can lay people of both churches draw closer in truth and love?  What can we do to help realize the High Priestly Prayer of John 17?  If only there were clearer ways to combine the best of Protestantism with the best of Catholicism… I feel like the two could balance each other out in marriage for the benefit of all…

[25] Posted by The Plantagenets on 6-29-2012 at 06:21 AM · [top]

[25] The Plantagenets,

Thank you for your generosity and kindness. As to your question of what you can do, I have only a little to offer from my own personal experience.


First, I suspect that it is important for all Christians to encourage their fellow believers towards prayer and witness, each encourager in his own context and from his own tradition, but recognizing the common ground that we share.

Second, I know that we can read the Bible together and pray together for those people, causes and situations which summon each of us individually to prayer, particularly in settings where we are permitted to pray freely. What has taught me this has been my several years long participation in a very small prayer and Bible study group that typically meets once a week via Skype, to read the Bible and pray together. The number of attendees has varied between 2 and 6 over those years, but we have all noticed a benefit. And we have all learned in that context to focus on what unites us, rather than on what divides.

Thirdly, I have learned, both through that group and through my journey across the Tiber, to more readily ask the Lord for assistance, particularly for others—interdecing both for members of the group as well as for others outside but brought before the group by other members. This has also encouraged me to be more steadfast in praying earnestly for people whom I might otherwise be tempted to dismiss, or worse still, to curse.

I hope that is of some help.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[26] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 6-29-2012 at 02:47 PM · [top]

Again, there are a lot of amazing Roman Catholics Christians—but I seriously wish that more Roman Catholics would stand up for the sake of Christ’s glory against the idolatrous practices towards the Virgin Mary exemplified by this prayer to the Virgin Mary and listed on the EWTN website (prayers like this certainly do not honor the Virgin Mary—and they give to a creature what is due to God alone).

OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP
O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.

O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fill my soul when I pronounce thy sacred name, or even only think of thee. I thank God for having given thee, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely pronouncing thy name: let my love for thee prompt me ever to hail thee, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/perpet3.htm#ixzz1zEKHzurz

God Bless,
WA Scott

[27] Posted by William on 6-29-2012 at 07:13 PM · [top]

[Continued] I’m afraid fine distinctions between latria and hyperdulia can’t bail prayers like this out of the prima-facie adoration/worship category. There is certainly no time in Scripture where the honor given to a creature is virtually or completely indistinguishable from the honor given to God Almighty.

MEMORARE
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/Memorare.htm#ixzz1zEPpRVJW\


I’m sure no one would think that the Apostles were talking like this to the Virgin Mary while she was still alive—and certainly they give no indication in any of their New Testament writings that they petitioned her at all, let alone in this manner, after she had gone to glory. 

God Bless,
WA Scott

[28] Posted by William on 6-29-2012 at 07:42 PM · [top]

So the Catholic and Lutheran agreement on Justification doesn’t cut it for you?

[29] Posted by Cure dArs on 6-30-2012 at 02:45 AM · [top]

Why should it? It is a substance-less semanticism. Rome has not backed away from her position at Trent at all. To agree that we are justified by faith is to agree on something we have always agreed upon. Until Rome agrees that God justifies sinner through faith alone, there is no peace.

[30] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-30-2012 at 07:12 AM · [top]

Matt, better a disagreement based on honest assessment of our very real differences than a false peace which disdains our most closely held beliefs by pretending they don’t matter.

That does not mean I think you are others who believe as you do are not Christian.  You are, I just would not ask you pretend to believe what you do not or pretend to approve of beliefs you do not hold.

[31] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 6-30-2012 at 11:06 AM · [top]

Hi Paula Loughlin:

“Matt, better a disagreement based on honest assessment of our very real differences than a false peace which disdains our most closely held beliefs by pretending they don’t matter.”

Amen

[32] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-30-2012 at 11:22 AM · [top]

Was there supposed to be a video is the original post?  My computer qualifies as an antique (10 years old) and all I have is a large white gap.  I’d love to hear Dr. Sproul but, honestly, the rest of this is waaaaay over my feeble mind!

[33] Posted by Nikolaus on 6-30-2012 at 11:29 AM · [top]

Hi Nikolaus,

Here’s the link to the site…maybe you’ll be able to get it from there?
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/standing-firm-2012-west-conference/for-justification-by-faith-alone/

[34] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-30-2012 at 11:45 AM · [top]

Sorry for my continued diatribe against idolatry towards the Virgin Mary—but hey, it’s one of the major reasons I (and I assume Kennedy+ and many others) cannot go to Rome.

In expressing my desire to see my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters condemn prayers such as those above, I’m not naive about the ubiquitous presence of such prayers and sentiments throughout the Roman Catholic Church—including in their own Catechism:
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing38 to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p4s1c2a2.htm

As to the issue of justification—the following positions still espoused by the Fatima website should be frightening to anyone who calls themselves a Christian:

<q>    The Franciscan Chronicles relate that a certain Brother Leo saw in a vision two ladders, the one red, the other white. On the upper end of the red ladder stood Jesus and on the other stood His holy Mother. The Brother saw that some tried to climb the red ladder; but scarcely had they mounted some rungs when they fell back, they tried again but with no better success. Then they were advised to try the white ladder and to their surprise they succeeded, for the Blessed Virgin stretched out Her hand and with Her aid they reached Heaven.44

NOTE: This apparition is by no means incredible; nor is it right to say that it makes the power of Mary superior to that of Christ. The symbolic significance of the vision must be borne in mind. The idea has been expressed repeatedly in the words of St. Bernard, and more recently by Popes Leo XIII and Benedict XV: “As we have no access to the Father except through the Son, so no one can come to the Son except by the Mother. As the Son is all-powerful by nature, the Mother is all-powerful in so far that by the merciful disposition of God She is our mediatrix of graces with Christ. Therefore says Eadmer: “Frequently our petitions are heeded sooner when we address ourselves to Mary the Queen of Mercy and Compassion than when we go directly to Jesus Who as King of Justice is our Judge.“45</q>
http://www.fatimacrusader.com/cr61/cr61pg20.asp

God Bless,
WA Scott

[35] Posted by William on 6-30-2012 at 01:37 PM · [top]

Danke viel mals.  Perhaps I’ll be able to pick up the rest of the discussion.

[36] Posted by Nikolaus on 6-30-2012 at 01:47 PM · [top]

[26]  Keith, thank you very much for your insight and help.  It is very encouraging actually.  God Bless you and your work.

[37] Posted by The Plantagenets on 6-30-2012 at 03:06 PM · [top]

Most holy Theotokos, save us!

This whole discussion makes me glad I am neither Catholic nor Protestant.

[38] Posted by Roland on 7-1-2012 at 01:20 AM · [top]

The theotokos “saves” no one.

[39] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-1-2012 at 04:25 AM · [top]

That would depend on what you mean by “save”. There is a sense in which we all save one another through our prayers and our ministries. See, for example, 1 Cor. 7:16.

[40] Posted by Roland on 7-1-2012 at 03:48 PM · [top]

True Roland. Yet no one in Scripture lawfully invoked in prayer the name of any creature to “save” them in any sense. The apostles taught us to invoke in prayer Name of Christ alone for Salvation (and every other need).

God Bless,
WA Scott

[41] Posted by William on 7-1-2012 at 04:47 PM · [top]

We are taught to pray for one another. Are we not permitted to request one another’s prayers? And are not the saints fellow members of the Body of Christ? For us Orthodox, these are rhetorical questions which lead inexorably to our requesting the prayers of the saints.

The refrain, “Most holy Theotokos, save us!” is intentionally provocative, and it always has been. (The people it was originally intended to provoke were Nestorians.) Like much Byzantine liturgical language, it is extravagant. A liturgical refrain that is more theologically precise would be the first antiphon of the Divine Liturgy: “Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Savior, save us.”

[42] Posted by Roland on 7-1-2012 at 06:59 PM · [top]

Thanks Fr Kennedy.  Sessio VI of the Council of Trent deals with justification.  This doctrine was completed in 1547, fifteen years before the Articles of Religion were finalised by the bishops of the Church of England.  Being what the RCC recognises as an “Ecumenical Council”, the decrees of the Council of Trent are infallible and required to be believed by a Roman Catholic for salvation.

Unfortunately, the decrees of the Council of Trent depart at several points from Apostolic teaching (i.e. Scripture).  The first chapters of Sessio VI are reasonably orthodox Christian doctrine.  But then things start to go off the rails:

1. In Chap XV:

“… it is to be maintained, that the received grace of Justification is lost, not only by infidelity whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever, though faith be not lost; thus defending the doctrine of the divine law, which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelieving, but the faithful also (who are) fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liers with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins; from which, with the help of divine grace, they can refrain, and on account of which they are separated from the grace of Christ.”

I can’t think of anywhere in Scripture where Christ or his Apostles taught: (a) that a faithful Christian loses his or her justification each time they commit any sort of sin; (b) that there are “deadly sins”; (c) that justification is ever separated from faith.

Note that Mark 3:28 (the sin against the Holy Spirit) does not assist Trent’s position – it is far removed from the idea that a person can lose their justification, then recover it, again and again.  Nor does it support the idea of “deadly sins”, although it might support the idea of one “deadly sin”.

2. The Council of Trent also departed from Apostolic teaching in Chap XVI:

“And, for this cause, life eternal is to be proposed to those working well unto the end, and hoping in God, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Jesus Christ, and as a reward which is according to the promise of God Himself, to be faithfully rendered to their good works and merits.”

Ummm no, life eternal is never promised as a reward “rendered to our good works and merits”.  Life eternal is called a “reward” to those who are faithful, but it is never used in the sense of something merited.  Good works are evidence of true faith.

Article XVI of the Anglican Articles of Religion confronts this error:

“Voluntary Works besides, over, and above, God’s Commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety: for by them men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.”

In other words, the best that we can offer Christ is no more than our “bounden duty”.  There is no merit involved, either in doing that which we are required to do, nor in doing more than we are required to do (which is impossible anyway).

3.  Despite this, the councillors at Trent reinforced their error:

“CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.”

Churches should be wary of too easily bandying about the term “anathema” – it can rebound if not used correctly!  Article XII of the Anglican Articles of Religion draws us back to apostolic teaching: good works are necessary for the Christian because they are evidence of justification but, contrary to Trent, the good works themselves provide no merit to us nor does our heavenly “reward” in any sense spring from the merit of our works:

“Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s Judgement; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith; insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.”

4.  Trent also got apostolic doctrine wrong at this point:

“CANON VII.-If any one saith, that all works done before Justification, in whatsoever way they be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; or that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins: let him be anathema.”

In Article XIII, the bishops of the Church of England begged to differ:

“Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say [scholastics]) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.”

[43] Posted by MichaelA on 7-1-2012 at 07:04 PM · [top]

The Plantagenets wrote:

“1)  As we agreed before, the CDF for all its flaws does provide a strong corrective to heresy.”

Except that it doesn’t.  “Heresy” only has meaning if we keep close to Apostolic teaching (i.e. scripture) for our definitions.  Simply being a “strong corrective” doesn’t assist - the Mormons strongly correct heresy; so do many branches of Islam. 

The first issue with any “strong corrective” is to check whether what they are correcting actually is heresy.

“3)  Love for Christians and the Church from 120AD to 1500AD.  Catholicism opens up an enormous number of periods and worlds that I overlooked in Protestant circles.”

That would depend on the “Protestant circles” you move in.  It is also important to check what use is being made of the Fathers, and how accurate it is.  My experience has been that, in many cases (not all, obviously) Roman Catholic knowledge of the Church Fathers is only a very thin veneer.  They cite them, but do not study them, and generally do not understand them.

“What I wouldn’t give for Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care to hold the same authority in Protestantism as it does in the Catholic Church.”

Why? Gregory was a human like the rest of us.  God granted him no Apostolic authority, and without that, the Church has no power to grant it.  Much of his theology is very good, but then the same can be said of many other theologians through the ages.  All are worth studying, but always through the lens of Apostolic teaching.

“8)  International scope.  The enormity of God and the Church really hits you especially at the Vatican and the big cathedrals.”

The Vatican had a different effect on me, but each to their own!

[44] Posted by MichaelA on 7-1-2012 at 07:31 PM · [top]

Ah, MichaelA.  Once upon a time, I considered marrying a redoubtable Catholic of Australian extraction, so it’s very strange for me all these years later to find myself on the other side of the debate.  If only I’d had you on call when she went off on the Great Anglican Kangaroo Slaughter of 1874 or any of the other innumerable Anglican “atrocities” committed down under that I’d never heard of.  In any case…

1)  The CDF.  I give partial credit.  Yes, their record is full of dark, dark, dark burnings and errors.  But I like the idea of institutional doctrinal error correction with some teeth, and I like their work on Marxism and women’s ordination.  Whereas in Quakerism and TEC anyone can say anything, the CDF at least has and exercises the power to de-authorize stuff.  Maybe, they let a lot slide or miss the mark too much but compare the treatment of the Righter Trial to this Yale nun’s sexuality book.
  Here’s my real question: if you have a public Church with public doctrine, by what mechanism do you prevent and address institutional idea mutation?  I’m open to better ideas or examples than the CDF.

3)  That was my experience.  I grew up around evangelical Presbyterians and moderate TEC people who all vaguely disdained the Middle Ages.  Maybe, I was too young to appreciate their love for the Church up to say 500 A.D., but the general narrative I got was very quiet in Act 2.  The Catholics (and Orthodox) I know, generally Opus Dei types with good Latin, took great pains to share their love of late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.  That helped me achieve a greater sense of historical continuity and connexion to distant peoples.  I don’t pray to the saints, but I do wish Protestants (myself included) had a more widespread appreciation of their lives.

As for Gregory, I’m not thrilled by his hand in creating the papacy, but I respect him in context.  My understanding of _Pastoral Care_ is that it’s not considered infallible by Catholics.  What I really mean is this: if in the TEC, your priest tries to play untrained psychotherapist/social worker without clinical boundaries, and you say, “I think your understanding of your role is dangerously at odds with Liber Regulae Pastoralis‘s very serious, very wise standards of responsibility.”  They look at you funny, maybe mumble something about white men, then stab you in the heart and throw you under the bus.  If you say that in Catholicism, at least they’re slightly more likely to say, “Si, si, Gregorii, bene”  before stabbing you in the heart and throwing you in the Tiber.  You might even get a kiss first.

8)  Last time I was at the Vatican, there were nuns from all over Africa and Latin America clearly on their first visit.  Their excitement was very cool.  That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t sell all the gold to give to the poor if I had my druthers.

Bottom-line:  I appreciate this thread’s attempt to highlight real differences, and the Anglican Communion and Catholic Churches both have real problems, but what do you love about Catholicism and Catholics?  What gives you an opening to unification in truth and love?

[45] Posted by The Plantagenets on 7-1-2012 at 09:47 PM · [top]

Hello Roland and thanks for your comments.

Doesn’t it seem remarkable that in the writings of the Apostles there is no reference to praying to our departed brothers and sisters in order to obtain their prayers if it is such an important practice? Anyway, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this point.

I agree, the EO’s liturgical invocation of the Theotokos to “save us” is provocative (and troubling) on a lot of levels. But again we’ll have to agree to disagree.

You said:
“...the first antiphon of the Divine Liturgy: “Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Savior, save us.”
I have problems with this as well—but I guess I’ll just skip those concerns for the time being since this isn’t a “Why I’m not EO” thread. wink

In Christ,
WA Scott

[46] Posted by William on 7-1-2012 at 10:24 PM · [top]

Hello Michael,

On your first point regarding “deadly sins” and losing justification—please check out the first 18 or so posts of this thread. Those concepts, rightly understood, are part of Luther’s articulation of justification by faith alone (except that Luther would give perhaps be less formulaic view than Rome on the understanding of what sins/states of sin drive out a saving faith and cause a loss of justification—and he didn’t prefer the term “mortal” sin (with good reason)).

As for the rest of your analysis—I couldn’t agree more.

I’m afraid that my schedule won’t permit any more real discussions—thanks everyone for the interesting discussions.

In Christ,
WA Scott

[47] Posted by William on 7-1-2012 at 10:36 PM · [top]

I am unable to resist the urge to sound off on some of the points being made on this thread from the standpoint of an Anglo-Catholic who could no more embrace Roman Catholicism than his Reformed and Evangelical brethren could do that.

Where invoking the intercession of the saints is concerned, William has cited some clear examples where this goes much too far and turns into something that I also find disturbing.  We should not pray to the saints and they cannot answer our prayers or bestow any special graces or favors upon us themselves.  The Blessed Virgin Mary is no exception.

I completely reject the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the idea that the Virgin Mary could have led a perfectly sinless existence.  I do not believe that she has a unique influence upon God Himself and the notion that she can “hold back the avenging arm” of her divine Son in response to our prayers is complete nonsense at best.  The suggestion that she presides over a “Kingdom of Grace” while our Lord is relegated to a “Kingdom of Justice” (something Alphonsus Liguori apparently believed) is also gravely heretical.  She is certainly not more mercifully disposed towards us than the Good Shepherd who is willing to leave the rest of the flock to go in search of one sheep who is lost.  He alone is our Savior and it is only by His unmerited grace that we can be saved.

However, I also agree with Roland’s point that we are free to ask for the prayers of the saints when it is clearly understood that this is all we can do.  If we are members of the Body of Christ, then we are also members of the Communion of the Saints, “the blessed company of all faithful people,” both the living and the dead.  I do not think that simply asking for the prayers of those who have gone before us is on a par with praying to them, anymore than I am praying to a neighbor here on earth when I request his intercession on my behalf.

As an Anglican, I recognize that I am not in a position to impose my views on others and no one is required to believe even this much.  The salvation of our souls does not depend upon the willingness of the saints to intercede for us and those who find the practice of seeking their intercession are free to dispense with it entirely if they find it unappealing or objectionable.  But as an Anglo-Catholic, I will continue to hold with certain beliefs and practices that certainly were allowed for in the undivided Catholic Church, provided that they do not contradict the clear teachings of Holy Scripture or any dogma of the faith.

I hope that it remains possible to do that because ending up in a denomination where the only voices I ever heard were those of other Anglo-Catholics is the last thing I would want to do.  I would much prefer to remain in full communion with those who accept the basic principles of the English Reformation and recognize the primacy of the core doctrines expressed in the 39 Articles, such as the full authority and sufficiency of Holy Scripture and the doctrine of justification by faith, things upon which I think all Anglicans should agree.

[48] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-2-2012 at 09:51 AM · [top]

“Here’s my real question: if you have a public Church with public doctrine, by what mechanism do you prevent and address institutional idea mutation?”

Okay, and it’s a good question.  It depends on one’s perspective:  From my POV, the CDF didn’t just address institutional idea mutation, but embraced it wholeheartedly!  Hence we have the idea of Mary’s Immaculate Conception being pronounced as a dogma in 1854.  It is certainly an idea that had been around for centuries, but not accepted by many and certainly never treated as a dogma of the church during patristic and medieval times, nor even during the counter-reformation.  I appreciate RCs have a different view, but to an Anglican observer this is just an example of how “institutional idea mutation” has been, well, institutionalised.

Hence my point that being “strongly corrective” of heresy is nothing to be proud of unless you have got the definition of heresy right!

Okay, so the above is a negative observation, and you actually asked for the positive:

I think one of the best mechanisms is what we have in Anglicanism right now, where the 39 independent provinces effectively operate in conciliar fashion.  Despite the attempts of liberals like KJS, or institutionalists like Rowan Williams, to derail the process, all they can do is delay it.  I appreciate we are still in the middle of the process, but its all been lighting-fast by the standard of other churches (including the RCC) since, say, 1998.

Its easy for us with our naturally western-centric view to forget that the number of provinces and the number of Anglicans leaders that have embraced apostasy are actually quite small.  And the process of correction has been occurring for some years now.  It is clear even on human terms who is going to win. 

“I do wish Protestants (myself included) had a more widespread appreciation of [Saints’] lives.”

Fair enough.  Me too.

“As for Gregory, I’m not thrilled by his hand in creating the papacy, but I respect him in context.”

Another good point.  Its often forgotten that Luther and Calvin had a lot of respect for Gregory the Great, although they disagreed with him on some things.

“Last time I was at the Vatican, there were nuns from all over Africa and Latin America clearly on their first visit.  Their excitement was very cool.”

Good point.  Things like that may well have been happening on my visit too, even though I don’t recall them.  The place is just so vast its easy to miss things.

“but what do you love about Catholicism and Catholics?  What gives you an opening to unification in truth and love?”

I can honestly say that I love (and like) them as much as I love (and like) Baptists, Pentecostals and Mennonites!  Which is no mean feat since I have a number of uncles, aunts and cousins who are RC, but none who are Baptist, Pente or Mennonite!

[49] Posted by MichaelA on 7-2-2012 at 06:53 PM · [top]

Episcopalienated,

As an evangelical, I am inclined to agree.  The way I have heard invocation of saints expressed by you and some others doesn’t really worry me.  There are bigger fish to fry.

However, you wrote:

“I would much prefer to remain in full communion with those who accept the basic principles of the English Reformation … etc”

EPISCOPALIENATED: What will they do to me?
MICHAEL: Oh, you’ll probably get away with crucifixion.
EPISCOPALIENATED: Crucifixion?!
MICHAEL: Yeah, first offence.

[50] Posted by MichaelA on 7-2-2012 at 06:55 PM · [top]

MichaelA:

Oh, yeah?

Someone told me that you’re actually from the South Bronx and only ended up in Australia after using a parish finder service that was run by Anglo-Catholics.

We sure do know how to produce results and are ever eager to help the Truly Reformed whenever possible.

Heh!  Heh!  Heh! 

Re: “bigger fish to fry”

We take care of that on Fridays.  And we’re having none of that Vegemite, but feel free to help yourself!  LOL

[51] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-2-2012 at 07:53 PM · [top]

Although we have not touched upon Eucharistic theology on this thread, I would also like to point out that an Anglo-Catholic view of the Mass is by no means necessarily the same as that of the medieval Roman Church.  This is from Canon Vernon Staley’s work, The Catholic Religion: A Manual of Instruction for Members of the Anglican Communion:

When we speak of the Holy Eucharist as a sacrifice, we do not understand any repetition of the sacrifice of the cross, or any renewal of Christ’s sufferings or death. His sufferings and his death took place once for all, and can never be repeated. Neither are we to suppose that anything is wanting in his sufferings or sacrifice, which the Eucharistic Sacrifice supplies. But we mean that in the Holy Eucharist, we plead before God the One Sacrifice offered once upon the cross, even as Christ himself presents the same offering in heaven. Thus, the fathers spoke of the Holy Eucharist as ‘the unbloody sacrifice.’ The Eucharistic Sacrifice is not so much on a line with the sacrifice on Calvary, as with the pleading of that sacrifice in heaven.

Our Lord’s sacrifice upon the cross is a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world - not only for birth-sin, but for all actual sin.

I believe no more than this about “the Sacrifice of the Mass.”

[52] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-2-2012 at 08:08 PM · [top]

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

I’m sure that in the church in Jerusalem overseen by St. James (who was known, among other things, as “the righteous”), his own prayers were among those frequently sought. But probably no more than those of Christ’s mother, who was also a member of that community. In the gospels and Acts there was no need to seek the prayers of the dead since Jesus’ family and the apostles were (mostly) still alive.

But the art of the catacombs suggests that the Christians in Rome began invoking the prayers of Mary pretty early. The most frequently encountered art in the catacombs is a woman with arms upraised in the (orans) position of prayer. Why a woman? The most common hypothesis is that it represents the Virgin Mary, who was the most popular saint that people wanted praying for the souls of their departed loved ones.

I’m not in a position to go into the Greek (or Hebrew or Latin) words that might be translated into English as “prayer”. But I can state with certainty that the English verb “pray” does not, traditionally, refer exclusively to prayer to God. Especially in its transitive use, it has the full range of meaning of its synonym, “beseech”. As traditionally used, one can pray/beseech a friend, a judge, or a king. The language of praying to saints is in accord with this usage, and it was well established before “pray” was narrowed to its current near-exclusive use of prayer to God (though “pray” sometimes persists in its older usage in legal contexts).

[53] Posted by Roland on 7-3-2012 at 02:23 AM · [top]

“Our Lord’s sacrifice upon the cross is a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world - not only for birth-sin, but for all actual sin.”

episcopalienated-

Does this statement allow for “unlimited atonement,” or does it require a commitment to “limited atonement”?

[54] Posted by anglicanconvert on 7-3-2012 at 06:42 AM · [top]

anglicanconvert:

Does this statement allow for “unlimited atonement,” or does it require a commitment to “limited atonement”?

I don’t know that it is incompatible with either view.

Although I am not a Calvinist, I certainly do believe in the doctrine of Predestination and Election as expressed in Article XVII.  That doctrine is thoroughly Biblical and Catholic and I don’t see how it could be denied.

Our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross was certainly sufficient to make satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, but perhaps it is correct to say that the atonement is indeed “limited” to those who benefit from it by actually being saved.

[55] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-3-2012 at 08:54 AM · [top]

Hello Roland—you’ve compelled me to write a response wink.

It’s not the word “prayer” or any like word that’s the issue—it’s the principle of spiritually invoking (versus physically asking) anyone other than Almighty God.

I’m familiar with the references to prayer for the departed in the catacombs is an interesting and not unsurprising in light of the Apostolic teaching on life after death—nevertheless, it is a practice which is distinctly and notably absent from the writings of the Apostles (and the rest of Sacred Scripture). 

You said:
“In the gospels and Acts there was no need to seek the prayers of the dead since Jesus’ family and the apostles were (mostly) still alive.”

I’m not sure that I follow this—all the great saints of the Old Testament were in glory at the time that Acts and the Epistles were written (i.e. that great cloud of witnesses described in Hebrews—which in all likelihood is continually interceding on behalf of the Church militant), and there are innumerable accounts of the invocation of God but (again) not once is a single member of this great multitude of glorified saints invoked.

God Bless,
WA Scott

[56] Posted by William on 7-3-2012 at 11:08 AM · [top]

Opps, that second paragraph is all goofed up—it should be:

“I’m familiar with the references to prayers *to* the departed in the catacombs…” 

In Christ,
WA Scott

[57] Posted by William on 7-3-2012 at 12:37 PM · [top]

[52] episcopalienated,

You write:

…an Anglo-Catholic view of the Mass is by no means necessarily the same as that of the medieval Roman Church.

Nevertheless, in my experience those Anglo-Catholics who, like myself and my wife while we were still within the Episcopal Church, held a view that is not in any significant manner different from that which you quote from Canon Staley. We believed that Christ was fully present in the Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity, and that through receiving Him in the Eucharist He comes to dwell in us and transform us. And we understood this in the sense that the Greek Orthodox mean by their use of symbol (σύμβολο), which is that at the moment of consecration God has made present to us the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, such that He is with us and we with Him in the presence of all the saints. In that instant God has briefly erased the temporal difference and allowed us simultaneously to be in the present time and to be present at the Crucifixion, along with all the saints.

The terms I used may not be perfectly accurate, but they are the content which I remember from my last Anglo-Catholic Episcopal Rector during a Sunday Adult Catechesis. And it is the understanding which I also found in the Catholic Church.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[58] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 7-3-2012 at 02:04 PM · [top]

H. Potter (aka Martial Artist):

Sir, I’m not entirely certain what it is you’re trying to say.

Do you believe that the citation from Canon Staley about the nature of the Sacrifice of the Mass is compatible with Roman Catholic doctrine?  I certainly don’t, at least not as that doctrine was being expressed at the time of the Reformation and the Council of Trent.

Apparently, Pope Leo XIII didn’t think so either.  In the Papal Bull, Apostolicae Curae, he made this fundamental point:

Being fully cognizant of the necessary connection between faith and worship, between “the law of believing and the law of praying”, under a pretext of returning to the primitive form, they corrupted the Liturgical Order in many ways to suit the errors of the reformers. For this reason, in the whole Ordinal not only is there no clear mention of the sacrifice, of consecration, of the priesthood (sacerdotium), and of the power of consecrating and offering sacrifice but, as we have just stated, every trace of these things which had been in such prayers of the Catholic rite as they had not entirely rejected, was deliberately removed and struck out.

He obviously interpreted “the power of consecrating and offering sacrifice” as something more than the pleading of our Lord’s sacrifice in heaven at the Eucharist.  Otherwise, why would he condemn Anglican orders as “absolutely null and utterly void” insofar as the Reformers departed from the concept of Eucharistic sacrifice that the Roman Church was upholding at the time and worded the Ordinal accordingly?

By the way, as an Anglican, I believe in the doctrine of the Real Presence of our Lord in the Sacrament of the Altar as surely as you do, but without being able to accept the concept of transubstantiation that has been attached to it by your Church.

[59] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-3-2012 at 03:17 PM · [top]

episcopalienated,

1. Is Leo XIII lumping all the reformers together?  One way to read this quotation is as a criticism of reformed church polity and not as a criticism that the reformers fail to re-sacrifice Christ in the Eucharist.

2.  “And we understood this in the sense that the Greek Orthodox mean by their use of symbol (σύμβολο), which is that at the moment of consecration God has made present to us the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, such that He is with us and we with Him in the presence of all the saints. In that instant God has briefly erased the temporal difference and allowed us simultaneously to be in the present time and to be present at the Crucifixion, along with all the saints.” (H. Potter)

This is how I understand the Roman view of the Eucharist, a mysterious making present of the once-and-for-all sacrifice of the Cross, and it seems compatible with both Leo XIII and with Staley’s rejection of a repetition of a sacrifice. 

3.  Can you explain what Staley means when he says “pleading that sacrifice in heaven”?  What role does the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist play for this to occur?  And what, under Staley’s view, does priestly ordination add to a communion service?  Is Christ’s real presence necessary for what is essentially a prayer for God to remember a past event?

I have a copy of Staley’s book, given to me by my former rector, an Anglo-Catholic.  I will take a look at it again to see if I can sort these questions out.

[60] Posted by anglicanconvert on 7-3-2012 at 04:03 PM · [top]

anglicanconvert:

A short reply for now.

Bear in mind that there is no unanimity of opinion across the board among those who self-identify as Anglo-Catholics, anymore than there is among our Reformed and Evangelical brethren, even within the Anglican Communion.  I happen to think that’s a feature, not a bug.  Some Anglo-Catholics feel the need to become Roman Catholics after they’ve finished connecting the dots to their own satisfaction, but I am not one of them.  Neither am I in a position to speak for all Anglo-Catholics who wish to remain Anglican.  I gravitate a bit more towards the Reformed end while still holding firmly to certain Catholic distinctives. 

Pope Leo was clearly addressing the views of the English Reformers and the validity of Anglican orders specifically.  What I’m getting at is this.  If the Roman view of the Mass is not (or was not) that of an unbloody repetition or reenactment of our Lord’s sacrifice of the cross, then what is the element of sacrifice to which Roman Catholics are referring when they insist that it is lacking from our understanding of the Eucharist?  If their view of the Eucharist is now compatible with our own, then Rome should lift the pronouncements of Apostolicae Curae and recognize the validity of our orders and our ability to dispense valid sacraments (and perhaps otherwise acknowledge us as Catholic Christians who are members of something more than an “ecclesial community”).

I believe, and so did Canon Staley, that it is “priestly ordination” (as understood by the Church of England and expressed in the Edwardian Ordinal) that makes the celebration of a valid Mass, and the confection of the sacrament, possible in the first place.  The vast majority of Anglicans reject the idea of Lay Presidency at the Eucharist as an adequate substitute, even when their view of apostolic succession is not exactly the same as my own.

What is being “pleaded” at the Eucharist is Hebrews 7:25:  “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” based on our Lord’s atoning sacrifice that was carried out once and for all on the cross.

I hope you enjoy reading Canon Staley’s book.

[61] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-3-2012 at 05:06 PM · [top]

anglicanconvert wrote:

“Is Christ’s real presence necessary for what is essentially a prayer for God to remember a past event?”

Firstly, who are we humans to argue or debate as to whether the real presence is “necessary” or not? Its either true or it isn’t.

Secondly, you seem to be reducing the service of Holy Communion to “essentially a prayer for God to remember a past event”.  From where do you get that? I am just looking over the service in the Book of Common Prayer, the Articles, Ridley’s “Brief Declaration of the Lord’s Supper” and (even though its not Anglican, but as a comparison) Calvin’s “Short Treatise on the Supper of our Lord”.  None of them would reduce the Eucharist to “essentially a prayer for God to remember”, at least as I read them.

[62] Posted by MichaelA on 7-3-2012 at 06:47 PM · [top]

A number of the posts to which Episcopalienated responds seem rather hair-splitting, as these things often are.  Quite rightly, he goes to the nub of the matter: if Rome has any criticism to make of our services or our ministers, then the onus lies on Rome to support such criticism by argument and reasoning. 

Our starting position is that we are a valid church before God and if anyone should argue otherwise, a heavy onus lies on them to so prove.  Very weighty authority is required (I suggest starting with the weightiest - the teaching of Christ and his Apostles!)

[63] Posted by MichaelA on 7-3-2012 at 07:07 PM · [top]

Here is an excerpt from Nicholas Ridley’s response during the Disputation at Oxford (1554), as to why he rejected transubstantiation.  At the same time, he sets out a very good summary of the Anglican doctrine of the Eucharist:

“But now, my brethren, think not, because I disallow that presence which the first proposition maintaineth (as a presence which I take to be forged, phantastical, and, beside the authority of God’s Word, perniciously brought
into the Church by the Romanists), that I therefore go about to take away the true presence of Christ’s Body in His Supper rightly and duly administered, which is grounded upon the Word of God, and made more plain by the commentaries of the faithful Fathers. They that think so of me, the Lord knoweth how far they are deceived.

And to make the same evident unto you, I will in few words declare, what true presence of Christ’s Body in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper I hold and affirm, with the Word of God and the ancient Fathers:

“I say and confess with the Evangelist Luke, and with the Apostle Paul, that the bread on the which thanks are given, is the Body of Christ in the remembrance of Him and His death, to be set forth perpetually of the faithful until His coming.

“I say and confess, the bread which we break to be the communion and partaking of Christ’s Body, with the ancient and the faithful Fathers.

“I say and believe, that there is not only a signification of Christ’s Body set forth by the Sacrament, but also that therewith is given to the godly and faithful the grace of Christ’s Body, that is, the food of life and immortality. And this I hold with Cyprian.

“I say also with St Augustine, that we eat life and we drink life; with Emissetie, that we feel the Lord to be present in grace; with Athanasius, that we receive
celestial food, which cometh from above; the property of natural communion, with Hilary; the nature of flesh, and benediction which giveth life, in bread and wine, with Cyril; and with the same Cyril, the virtue of the very Flesh of Christ, life and grace of His Body, the property of the Only Begotten, that is to say, life ; as He Himself in plain words expoundeth it.

“I confess also with Basil, that we receive the mystical advent and coming of Christ, grace and the virtue of His very Nature; the Sacrament of His very Flesh, with Ambrose ; the Body by grace, with Epiphanius ; spiritual Flesh, but not that which was crucified, with Jerome; grace flowing into a sacrifice, and the grace of the Spirit, with Chrysostom ; grace and invisible verity, grace and society of the members of Christ’s Body, with Augustine.

“Finally, with Bertram (who was the last of all these) I confess that Christ’s Body is in the Sacrament in this respect namely, as he writeth, because there is in it the Spirit of Christ, that is, the power of the Word of God, which not only feedeth the soul, but also cleanseth it.

Out of these I suppose it may clearly appear unto all men, how far we are from that opinion whereof some go about falsely to slander us to the world, saying, we teach that the godly and faithful should receive nothing else at
the Lord’s Table but a figure of the Body of Christ.”

[64] Posted by MichaelA on 7-3-2012 at 07:11 PM · [top]

Below I set out further material from Ridley’s Disputation.  He had been harshly treated during his confinement beforehand, yet still was able to answer with a firm grasp of Apostolic doctrine and the church fathers, and confound his accusers.

Ridley emphasises a point which is also explicit in the Book of Common Prayer: We ourselves, as humans offer no sacrifice in the Eucharist or Mass except that of our own praise and thanksgiving.  That doesn’t mean that a bloody sacrifice is not involved, just that we humans have no power to make it nor to offer it.

This must be so, because in the Mass we are linked with Christ’s one atoning sacrifice, and we feed upon his sacrificed flesh and blood; but the act of sacrifice (including the act of offering the flesh and blood in propitiation, without which the sacrifice is not complete) has been carried out already by Christ as the true High Priest. 

By way of background, note that there is only one High Priest, and only the High Priest can offer sacrifice for the sins of the whole people:

“He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it.  In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness.  No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel”. [Leviticus 16:15-17]

However, in the New Testament, Christ is the High Priest.  He not only offers himself, but he also enters the heavenly Most Holy Place and offers his own blood, in the place of the blood of bulls and goats of the old covenant, in expiation of the sins of the whole people.  And this he does once only:

“He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
...
For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. [Hebrews 9:12, 24-28]

and

“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy”. [Hebrews 10:12-14]

Thus Ridley argues:

“I know that all these places of the Scripture are avoided [by the Romanists] by two manner of subtle shifts: the one is, by the distinction of the bloody and unbloody sacrifice, as though our unbloody sacrifice of the Church were any other than the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, than a commemoration, a shewing-forth and a sacramental representation of that one only bloody Sacrifice, offered up once for all.

The other is, by depraving and wresting the sayings of the ancient Fathers unto such a strange kind of sense as the Fathers themselves indeed never meant.

For what the meaning of the Fathers was, it is evident by that which St Augustine writeth in his epistle to Boniface, and in his book against Faustus the Manichee, besides many other places; likewise by Eusebius the Emissene, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Fulgentius, Bertram, and others, who do wholly concord and agree together in this unity in the Lord; that the redemption, once made in verity for the salvation of man continueth in full effect for ever, and worketh without ceasing unto the end of the world; that the sacrifice once offered cannot be consumed; that the Lord’s death and passion is as effectual, the virtue of that Blood once shed as fresh at this day for the washing away of sins, as it was even the same day that it flowed out of the blessed side of our Saviour; and finally, that the whole substance of our sacrifice, which is frequented of the Church in the Lord’s Supper, consisteth in prayers, praise, and giving of thanks, and in remembering and shewing forth of that Sacrifice once offered upon the altar of the Cross ; that the same might continually be had in reverence by mystery, which once only, and no more, was offered for the price of our redemption.

“Christ . . . both took up His Flesh with Him ascending up, and also did leave the same behind Him with us, but after a diverse manner and respect. He took His Flesh with Him, after the true and corporal substance of His Body and His Flesh; again, He left the same in mystery to the faithful in the Supper, to be received after a spiritual communication, and by grace. Neither is the same received in the Supper only, but also at other times, by hearing the Gospel, and by faith.”

“He that sitteth there, is here present in mystery, and by grace; and is holden of the godly, such as communicate Him, not only sacramentally, with the hand of the body, but, much more wholesomely, with the hand of the heart; and by inward drinking is received ; but by the sacramental signification He is holden of all men.”

‘I grant bread to be converted and turned into the Flesh of Christ ; but not by transubstantiation, but by sacramental converting and turning. ’ It is transformed,’ saith Theophylact, ’ by a mystical benediction, and by the accession or coming of the Holy Ghost unto the Flesh of Christ.’ ”

Weston. “Ye say, Christ gave not His Body, but a figure of His Body.”

Ridley, ” I say not so : I say He gave His own Body verily ; but He gave it by a real effectual and spiritual communication.”

Glynn: “The Church hath ever worshipped the Flesh of Christ in the Eucharist”

Ridley: “[Yes] But the Church hath never been idolatrous”.

Amen!!!!

[65] Posted by MichaelA on 7-3-2012 at 07:44 PM · [top]

Hello Michael:
“Neither is the same received in the Supper only, but also at other times, by hearing the Gospel, and by faith”

This is an important point that many miss—namely that the Scriptures teach that we do partake in Christ, the Bread of Life, at all times by faith—and that our feeding on Christ is not limited to the Holy Communion
[of course, even in the Holy Communion it is only through the mouth of faith that we truly partake in Christ when we partake in the Sacrament—as the Scriptures (John 6) and the Church Fathers teach (eg St. Augustine’s Tractates 25-27 on the Gospel of John   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701026.htm )].

As St. Augustine notes in his Tractates, regarding the Scriptural teaching that to believe in Christ is to feed on Christ (and not just in the Sacrament):

“For to believe in Him is to eat the living bread.” (Tractate 26) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701026.htm

AND

“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” This is then to eat the meat, not that which perishes, but that which endures unto eternal life. To what purpose do you make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and you have eaten already.” (Tractate 25) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701025.htm

This is not to deny at all the vital, necessary, exalted (and “pinnacle”) nature of our Sacramental feeding on Christ clearly illustrated by Christ’s Words of Institution, by Paul in 1 Cor 10 and 11 (and although, as St. Augustine notes, the feeding on Christ discussed in John 6 is not limited to the Sacrament, the special Sacramental fulfillment of Christ’s Words in this passage is clearly in view). Futher, the BCP Catechism rightly confesses that this Sacramental feeding on Christ is “generally necessary for Salvation.” 

God Bless,
WA Scott


p.s. Many of the statements in the Articles (and at the distribution of the Sacrament in the BCP) on the Sacrament were taken from St. Augustine’s Excellent Commentary on the Gospel of John. Here just a few passages:

“This, then, is the bread that comes down from heaven, that if any man eat thereof, he shall not die.” But this is what belongs to the virtue of the sacrament, not to the visible sacrament; he that eats within, not without; who eats in his heart, not who presses with his teeth.”
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701026.htm

18. In a word, He now explains how that which He speaks of comes to pass, and what it is to eat His body and to drink His blood. “He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him.” This it is, therefore, for a man to eat that meat and to drink that drink, to dwell in Christ, and to have Christ dwelling in him. Consequently, he that dwells not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwells not, doubtless neither eats His flesh [spiritually] nor drinks His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth], but rather does he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to come to the sacraments of Christ, which no man takes worthily except he that is pure: of such it is said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701026.htm

...Moses ate manna, Aaron ate manna, Phinehas ate manna, and many ate manna, who were pleasing to the Lord, and they are not dead. Why? Because they understood the visible food spiritually, hungered spiritually, tasted spiritually, that they might be filled spiritually. For even we at this day receive visible food: but the sacrament is one thing, the virtue of the sacrament another. How many do receive at the altar and die, and die indeed by receiving? Whence the apostle says, “Eats and drinks judgment to himself.” 1 Corinthians 11:29 For it was not the mouthful given by the Lord that was the poison to Judas. And yet he took it; and when he took it, the enemy entered into him: not because he received an evil thing, but because he being evil received a good thing in an evil way. See ye then, brethren, that you eat the heavenly bread in a spiritual sense; bring innocence to the altar. Though your sins are daily, at least let them not be deadly.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701026.htm

[66] Posted by William on 7-3-2012 at 09:52 PM · [top]

[47] What do you know—I found enough time in my schedule for these last two posts wink

Anyhow, I just wanted to add one other thought to the above post regarding the feeding on Christ outside of the Holy Communion.

The English Reformers noted clearly that the teaching of the Church Fathers and Scriptures themselves demanded that we receive the Whole Christ (Flesh and Blood, Soul and Divinity) not only in Holy Communion but also in Baptism—for otherwise, they asked, how could we confess that the child is saved in Baptism* (because Christ says that only those Who have consumed His Flesh and Blood have eternal life in them). 

Again, this is not to deny that the feeding on Christ (Body, Soul, and Divinity) in the Holy Communion is distinct, vital, and exalted as H. Potter [58] and Episcopalalienated have pointed out.

God Bless,
WA Scott

[67] Posted by William on 7-4-2012 at 07:37 AM · [top]

p.s. In other words, the English Reformers noted that if a child did not partake in Christ’s Flesh and Blood in Baptism then it would be impossible to confess (as is confessed in the 1552/1559 BCP) that through Baptism (prior to Confirmation and the subsequent partaking in Holy Communion) children “have all things necessary for their salvation, and be undoubtedly saved.”

“And that no man shall think that any detriment shall come to children by deferring of their Confirmation; he shall know for truth, that it is certain by God’s word, that children being baptized, have all things necessary for their salvation, and be undoubtedly saved.”
http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1552/Confirmation_1552.htm
http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1559/Confirmation_1559.htm


God Bless,
WA Scott

[68] Posted by William on 7-4-2012 at 08:16 AM · [top]

episcopalienated and MichaelA:

episcopalienated, Thanks for your thoughtful response to my questions.  One point of clarification on your point made here: 

“What I’m getting at is this.  If the Roman view of the Mass is not (or was not) that of an unbloody repetition or reenactment of our Lord’s sacrifice of the cross, then what is the element of sacrifice to which Roman Catholics are referring when they insist that it is lacking from our understanding of the Eucharist?  If their view of the Eucharist is now compatible with our own, then Rome should lift the pronouncements of Apostolicae Curae and recognize the validity of our orders and our ability to dispense valid sacraments (and perhaps otherwise acknowledge us as Catholic Christians who are members of something more than an “ecclesial community”).”

I do not intend to say that Rome now claims a view of the Eucharist (a new view) that is compatible with the Anglican understanding.  It seems to me that, it is rather the case, that your presentation misrepresents the Roman view.  As I understand Roman doctrine, the Eucharist is not a repetition (temporal language) nor a reenactment (doing it againt in order to make up for a lack in the original sacrifice) so much as it is bringing the unique and once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross into the present.  As the RCC says it, “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are *one single sacrifice*.” (para. 1367)  Understanding this mystery, insofar as it can be understood, requires a suspension of belief in the ordinary laws of time and space.  (That same suspension is also necessary for understanding the communion of saints as Rome does:  Those saints that have preceded us in death are present now in the eternity of God.  Hence it is not really relevant to the doctrine that they are now humanly dead.) 

That is also the point I thought H. Potter was making here:  “at the moment of consecration God has made present to us the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, such that He is with us and we with Him in the presence of all the saints. In that instant God has briefly erased the temporal difference and allowed us simultaneously to be in the present time and to be present at the Crucifixion, along with all the saints.”  The mystery of the Eucharist allows us to be in two places at the same time and in two times in the same place!

As I read Staley, he affirms what Rome and the Ancient Church has always affirmed: that the sacrifice of Christ was unique and wholly-sufficient for the redemption of humanity, for all past and future sin.  However, he does not seem to be able to get his mind around the suspension of time and place; hence, he wants the Eucharist to be a present (an event occurring now) “pleading of that sacrifice in heaven.”

I would expect, and I am no expert on this by all means, that Trent condemned the English reformers, for, among other things, their temporal understanding of the Eucharist, which Staley faithfully restates. 

MichaelA, You state in response to my earlier post: “Secondly, you seem to be reducing the service of Holy Communion to “essentially a prayer for God to remember a past event”.  From where do you get that?”

My earlier comment was intended solely as a comment on the Staley quotation cited by episcopalienated.  The language of “pleading the sacrifice” used by Staley suggests that it is a prayer to God.  Understood, as I was understanding it, as a present temporal event, without the suspension of our ordinary categories of understanding, again, suggests that the Eucharist is “essentially a prayer for God to remember a past event.”  I did not mean to claim, nor do I claim, that the Anglican view is as I stated it, but only to claim that Staley’s view suggests it.

[69] Posted by anglicanconvert on 7-4-2012 at 08:28 AM · [top]

[59] episcopalienated,

In reply to your referenced question, my answer is subsumed into that at comment [69] by anglicanconvert. In other words, the Eucharist is not a repetition (temporal language) nor a reenactment (doing it again in order to make up for a lack in the original sacrifice) it is rather the bringing of the unique and once, for all, sacrifice on the cross into the present.

As to why, even so, there might remain difficulties in reuniting, I am no expert, but I would point out to you that the fact that you may believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in a manner not incompatible with the Roman Church’s understanding, that still leaves a few non-trivial problems, to wit:

• Your beliefs are clearly not shared by all of your (and my former) Anglican fellows; and,

• Several of the XXXIX Articles contain teachings contradictory to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, which makes more than a little challenging the necessary profession of faith for reception thereunto.

As to transubstantiation, if you have a robust intellectual understanding of the mechanism(s) whereby God accomplishes the suspension of space-time ahd the changing of our offerings of bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord, more power to you. I strongly suspect (enough to call it faith) that God can and does do that, without feeling any necessity to be able to comprehend His processes for doing so. Hence, I am willing to accept without reservation what the Church teaches, and will continue to do so until He chooses (if He does) to open it to my human understanding.

So, to close on a more irenic note, I have chosen to believe what the Catholic Church teaches, and you have not. Had there been a possibility of an Ordinariate parish within striking distance of our residence that is where we would be. There was, and is, not, but God was kind enough to point me to a Dominican Catholic parish near enough to us, where we found not only a love of Christ, but also a community with a love of truly sacred music to aid us in our worship.

God’s blessings to you, sir,
Keith Töpfer

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[70] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 7-4-2012 at 09:28 AM · [top]

“There are many reasons I cannot consider the Roman Catholic Church as a viable alternative but chief among them is Rome’s continued rejection of the biblical Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone.”  Rome rejected the doctrine of “faith alone” precisely because it’s NOT biblical.  The only place in Scripture where those two words appear together is James 2:24 - Man is justified by deeds and not by faith alone.”

[71] Posted by JPC on 7-4-2012 at 09:30 AM · [top]

Hi JPC,

Way to miss the point of the text:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/28013

[72] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-4-2012 at 10:04 AM · [top]

H. Potter, you write:

As to transubstantiation, if you have a robust intellectual understanding of the mechanism(s) whereby God accomplishes the suspension of space-time ahd the changing of our offerings of bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord, more power to you. I strongly suspect (enough to call it faith) that God can and does do that, without feeling any necessity to be able to comprehend His processes for doing so. Hence, I am willing to accept without reservation what the Church teaches, and will continue to do so until He chooses (if He does) to open it to my human understanding.

But the Roman Catholic Church does claim to have a “robust intellectual understanding of the mechanism(s) whereby God accomplishes the suspension of space-time ahd the changing of our offerings of bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord” to which all its members must hold.  It was derived from Aristotle’s metaphysics and enshrined in church teachings at the Council of Trent.  And that “robust intellectual understanding” is not what you say you hold to.

You wrote,

We believed that Christ was fully present in the Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity, and that through receiving Him in the Eucharist He comes to dwell in us and transform us.

Many, many people who disagree vociferously with the Roman Catholic Church’s “robust” understanding of the eucharist could agree with this. 

With an affection for you gained from your online postings, I don’t think you understand the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation.  It is something much, much more than simply a belief in the full physical presence of Christ in the elements of the eucharist.

[73] Posted by James Manley on 7-4-2012 at 11:15 AM · [top]

“We believed that Christ was fully present in the Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity, and that through receiving Him in the Eucharist He comes to dwell in us and transform us.”

Luther taught exactly that and was persecuted by Rome for saying it (among other things, of course.)

Mary I burned people at the stake who taught exactly that for their heresy from Roman doctrine.

Ridley being one of them.

So it isn’t a light matter.

[74] Posted by James Manley on 7-4-2012 at 11:21 AM · [top]

James Manley, Is the following, in your understanding, a correct statement of what constitutes transubstantion?

Transubstantiation is the doctrine that, in the Eucharist, the substance of wheat bread and grape wine changes into the substance of the Body and the Blood of Jesus while all that is accessible to the senses (the appearances - species in Latin) remains as before

.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[75] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 7-4-2012 at 05:18 PM · [top]

[75] continued.

To answer the question I raised at [75]: Inasmuch as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states as follows:

¶ 1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”

and

¶ 1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).

Having answered my own question, I say again with clarification, I may not have a full intellectual and systematic understanding of how God accomplishes this in the Eucharist, but I do believe that it is in fact what He does accomplish.

Given that, I fail to understand your point. Asserting that “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God,” which I did at my reception at Pentecost 2010, and do to the present, does not in any way assert that I have a full and comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms by which God accomplishes that transformation. It is something that I accept on faith. I am not by education or training either a philosopher or a theologian. Rather I am a simple believer in Christ who believes that through God’s provision of the Sacrament, Christ is present in the Eucharist as described in ¶ 1376 of the Catechism, as cited above.

If you choose to believe otherwise, that is your prerogative as a creature of God possessed thereby of free will.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[76] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 7-4-2012 at 05:38 PM · [top]

75 H. Potter,

you wrote:

Transubstantiation is the doctrine that, in the Eucharist, the substance of wheat bread and grape wine changes into the substance of the Body and the Blood of Jesus while all that is accessible to the senses (the appearances - species in Latin) remains as before

Yes, that statement accurately and adequately summarizes the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on transubstatiation.

That is a very, very, very, very different thing than saying that:

“We believed that Christ was fully present in the Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity, and that through receiving Him in the Eucharist He comes to dwell in us and transform us.”

It is one thing to say that Jesus is present in the Eucharistic elements. 

It is an entirely different thing to say that the Eucharistic elements are transformed into being Jesus’ blood and meat (despite what they look like: “the appearances”).

Simply put, if you say that Jesus is physically present in the bread and wine, than lots of Protestants would agree with you.  Luther and Ridley would have. 

If you say that the bread and wine physically are changed and are turned into being Jesus’ physical meat and physical blood (“changes into the substance” despite the “appearances”), than you would be expressing a correct Roman Catholic understanding of the Euscharistic elements.

[77] Posted by James Manley on 7-4-2012 at 06:14 PM · [top]

anglicanconvert:

I do not intend to say that Rome now claims a view of the Eucharist (a new view) that is compatible with the Anglican understanding. It seems to me that, it is rather the case, that your presentation misrepresents the Roman view. As I understand Roman doctrine, the Eucharist is not a repetition (temporal language) nor a reenactment (doing it againt in order to make up for a lack in the original sacrifice) so much as it is bringing the unique and once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross into the present. As the RCC says it, “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are *one single sacrifice*.” (para. 1367)

I strongly suggest that you do not limit your examination of this issue to information obtained from post-Vatican II sources. 

I have in my personal library a copy of My Prayer Book - Happiness in Goodness: Reflections, Counsels, Prayers, and Devotions, by Rev. F. X. Lasance, a priest of the Roman Church.  It was reprinted most recently in 1953 by Benziger Brothers, a venerable Roman Catholic publishing firm, and was granted an Imprimatur that same year by Francis Cardinal Spellman who was Archbishop of New York at the time.  This book remains popular among traditionalist Roman Catholics and, if you’re interested, it can be <a hred=“http://www.fraternitypublications.com/my-prayer-book-fr-fx-lasance.html”>ordered online.</a>

Here are a few excerpts from it that pertain to the Roman doctrine of the Mass that was still being upheld and taught prior to Vatican II. 

What Mass Is pp. 116-117

But the Mass is more than the Last Supper.  It is the Sacrifice of Calvary all over again.  In it Jesus Christ is really and personally offered to the eternal Godhead for the Almighty’s honor and glory, in thanksgiving for all His benefits and blessings, in satisfaction for the sins of mankind, and in supplication for the spiritual and temporal needs of His people.  He is there on the altar and He is sacrificed.  He is offered up to the Father as He was offered upon Golgotha, only that now the oblation is unbloody.  But the same victim is presented, the same sacrifice takes place.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Mass the Sacrifice of the New Law p. 231

Holy Mass is the sacrifice of the true body and blood of Jesus Christ, really present upon the altar, under the appearances of bread and wine, and offered to God by the priest for the living and the dead.

Holy Mass is the same sacrifice as that which was offered up by Our Lord Himself on the cross of Calvary, the manner alone of the offering being different.  On the cross, He actually died by the shedding of His blood.  On the altar, He renews His death in a mystical manner, without the reshedding of blood.  This is done at the Consecration, for by the separate and distinct consecration of the two species, namely of the bread and of the wine, the blood of Christ is exhibited as being once more separate from His body; and thus Jesus Christ is placed on the altar, and offered to heaven, under the appearance of death, as if slain again and immolated.

The Four Great Ends of Mass pp. 231-233

When Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost offered Himself unspotted to God on Mount Calvary, He paid infinite adoration to the divine majesty, gave infinite satisfaction to the divine justice, made an infinite return to the divine liberality and moved the divine goodness by an appeal of infinite efficacy.

Now in Holy Mass, Jesus places Himself entirely in your hands, that you may offer to God the same great sacrifice of infinite value for the same most excellent ends, in your behalf as well as for others, whether living or dead.  For all who devoutly assist at Holy Mass are made one with the priest, and along with him present to heaven the adorable sacrifice.

Prayers at Holy Mass

Offering According to the Four Great Ends of Sacrifice p. 235

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the sacrifice which Thy beloved Son, our blessed Redeemer, made of Himself on the cross and now renews on this altar.

Special Offering of the Mass for the Souls in Purgatory pp. 235-236

St. Alphonsus Liguori

O God of love, Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on this altar behold the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Thy Son, representing that of His most holy death and grievous passion, which He, the great High Priest, offered Thee on Calvary.

[78] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-4-2012 at 06:37 PM · [top]

anglicanconvert:

This is from the section entitled Lesson Twenty-Fourth: On the Sacrifice of the Mass as found in The Baltimore Catechism No. 3.  The text is available online. 

Q. 917. What is the Mass?

A. The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ.

Q. 919. What is a sacrifice?

A. A sacrifice is the offering of an object by a priest to God alone, and the consuming of it to acknowledge that He is the Creator and Lord of all things.

Q. 920. Is the Mass the same sacrifice as that of the Cross?

A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross.

Q. 921. How is the Mass the same sacrifice as that of the Cross?

A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross because the offering and the priest are the same—Christ our Blessed Lord; and the ends for which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered are the same as those of the sacrifice of the Cross.

Q. 931. Is there any difference between the sacrifice of the Cross and the sacrifice of the Mass?

A. Yes; the manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different (emphasis added). On the Cross Christ really shed His blood and was really slain; in the Mass there is no real shedding of blood nor real death, because Christ can die no more; but the sacrifice of the Mass, through the separate consecration of the bread and the wine, represents His death on the Cross.

Once again, this is an explication of the Roman doctrine of the Mass that predates Vatican II.

[79] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-4-2012 at 06:48 PM · [top]

James Manley:

But the Roman Catholic Church does claim to have a “robust intellectual understanding of the mechanism(s) whereby God accomplishes the suspension of space-time ahd the changing of our offerings of bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord” to which all its members must hold. It was derived from Aristotle’s metaphysics and enshrined in church teachings at the Council of Trent.

You took the words right out of my mouth!  LOL

[80] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-4-2012 at 06:51 PM · [top]

“And that no man shall think that any detriment shall come to children by deferring of their Confirmation; he shall know for truth, that it is certain by God’s word, that children being baptized, have all things necessary for their salvation, and be undoubtedly saved.”

William, I would add one caveat to this:  The point of that passage (read in context) was to refute an argument that confirmation was necessary for salvation.  Parents were pressuring priests to confirm their children soon after baptism, sometimes immediately following it.

The Reformers held that confirmation was something for those that had a mature understanding of the faith, and who actively sought it. Confirmation was not required of any Christian (although highly desirable and to be encouraged), whereas Baptism and Holy Communion were to be required of all Christians.  Therefore there was no need for infants to be confirmed immediately after baptism.

[81] Posted by MichaelA on 7-4-2012 at 08:44 PM · [top]

Quoted text

“Your beliefs are clearly not shared by all of your (and my former) Anglican fellows;”

It is difficult to find more than half-a-dozen doctrines that are shared by all who call themselves Roman Catholics!

[82] Posted by MichaelA on 7-4-2012 at 08:45 PM · [top]

To add to Fr Kennedy’s point, JPC at #71 not only doesn’t seem to understand James 2:24, but also doesn’t seem to understand what the doctrine of “faith alone” actually means.

[83] Posted by MichaelA on 7-4-2012 at 08:46 PM · [top]

H. Potter wrote:

“Is the following, in your understanding, a correct statement of what constitutes transubstantion?

“Transubstantiation is the doctrine that, in the Eucharist, the substance of wheat bread and grape wine changes into the substance of the Body and the Blood of Jesus while all that is accessible to the senses (the appearances - species in Latin) remains as before”“

No, its more than that.  Transubstantiation requires belief that the *entire* substance of the bread and wine are gone.  There is no more bread or wine left, only Christ’s flesh and blood.  Note the words “whole substance” in the various dogmatic documents.  And as we shall see below, Rome permits no “agreement to disagree” on this view of what happens in the mystery.

“Rather I am a simple believer in Christ who believes that through God’s provision of the Sacrament, Christ is present in the Eucharist as described in ¶ 1376 of the Catechism, as cited above.”

[I assume by “in the Eucharist” you mean “in the elements”? Even Zwinglians believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist]

If you indeed hold to the same definition of real presence as the Anglicans then there would be nothing to argue about.

But as I read it, Trent requires (and therefore the Catechism requires, whether or not it is explicitly stated) something more than your statement:

“that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.” [Council of Trent; Sessio XIII, Canon II]

This is one point at which we part company:  We believe the bread is still bread and the wine is still wine, even though they are also truly and sacramentally the body and blood of Christ. 

But if that were our only disagreement, what would it matter?  We could each take communion in faith, and whichever view of the mechanics of Christ’s presence is correct would not affect the benefit we received from it.

However, Rome will not permit any “agreement to disagree”.  Transubstantiation is a dogma of the church and anyone who differs from it is to be cursed:

“CANON lI.-If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema.”

Therein lies the problem – Rome will accept nothing less than submission to its exclusive definition of what happens to the communion bread.

As you can imagine, the rest of us view this with amusement – the nature of the bread and wine during Communion is a mystery, which no human being can adequately describe in human terms.  Yet the Roman Church decided in 1547 that it would insist on a particular stream of medieval theology as being dogma.  It has never recanted of that, so yes, the rest of us will keep smiling and go about our business.

[84] Posted by MichaelA on 7-4-2012 at 09:00 PM · [top]

MichaelA:

the rest of us will keep smiling and go about our business.

Put me down for some of that, Big Mike.  I’m with ya! cool smile

[85] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-4-2012 at 09:18 PM · [top]

episcopalienated

Put me down for some of that, Big Mike.  I’m with ya!

You have made progress then.  Good!  It’s time to introduce you to Jonathan Edwards.  Say, five pages a night.  I think you are ready for it.

carl

[86] Posted by carl on 7-4-2012 at 09:30 PM · [top]

That’s Big Mike from the South Bronx, to you.

[87] Posted by MichaelA on 7-4-2012 at 09:53 PM · [top]

carl:

Here’s what you’re ready for.

Live from the Sydney Opera House, this week’s special edition of Anglo-Catholicism in Jeopardy.

Contestant Carl:  Alex, I’ll take “Simple Sentences in Australian” for $2,000, please.

Anglican Alex:  OK, here goes.  “A Year and a Day.”

CC:  What is . . . uh . . . how long the Anglican Inquisition can lock up any priest who’s caught wearing a fiddleback chasuble in this archdiocese?

AA:  That is exactly right, Carl!  You now continue as our reigning champion.

CC:  Aw, shucks.  Some of these are just too easy.  By the way, how long does it take to win a car?

LOL

[88] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-4-2012 at 09:54 PM · [top]

Before we crash and burn, some guy from the South Bronx just phoned in a song dedication for Anglo-Catholics everywhere who need to go and lick their wounds.

But he was trying to fake an Australian accent and kept saying “mate” a lot.  Weird!

[89] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-4-2012 at 10:12 PM · [top]

This thread was always going to revert to knockabout once the boys had arrived and all that sustained theology stuff was exhausted.

Coming back to why can’t I be a Catholic?  Well if I had been born in Italy or Poland I probably would be, but since I am English, I was brought up an Anglican, and if I had to choose another church, which I have no wish to, my instincts would probably take me more off to the CofE breakaways like the Methodists or Baptists than to Rome though I would not be a Calvinist or Zwinglian or wear a white collar, tall black hat like Carl and buckle my shoes.  On second thoughts, not a baptist, or not an English baptist.  Their sermons go on and on and on, presumably they think the Holy Spirit is inspiring them but mostly I suspect they don’t know when to stop flogging a dead horse.    Happy Disassociation Day to all.

[90] Posted by Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] on 7-4-2012 at 10:13 PM · [top]

I think the no-chasubles measure was enacted in 1910 - oh no, I must have missed the centenary!  Perhaps there is some cake left over.  I will start my enquiries at Christ Church St Laurence, then move on to St John’s Dee Why – one of them must surely have hosted the celebration, given that they actually know what a chasuble is (which is a necessary qualification to obeying a directive not to use them).

First prize on Anglo-Catholicism in Jeopardy is not a car, but a one-hour lecture by Dean Phillip Jensen on the following topic:

“Did ++Wright go far enough, or was he really a mealy-mouthed, weak-kneed, Romanist sympathiser who was secretly angling to be the next Anglican Cardinal after Newman and wasn’t fit to tie Broughton Knox’s boot laces.  You be the judge”.

Second prize is two-hours’ lecture on the same subject.

[91] Posted by MichaelA on 7-4-2012 at 10:30 PM · [top]

episcopalienated

No, no, no.  It’s not Anglo-Catholicism in Jeopardy.  It’s Anglo-Catholicism in Reformation or perhaps Anglo-Catholicism in Rehabilitation.  Or even better Anglo-Catholicism in the Process of Having the Catholicism Part Removed but with Anesthetic.  Anyways, those Sydney guys are harsh.  Me, I trust to patient irresistible instruction. 

carl

[92] Posted by carl on 7-4-2012 at 10:52 PM · [top]

Hello Michael [81]

I think you’re missing what I’m trying to get at and it’s my fault for not being clear enough. I agree that the focus of the passage is to dissuade parents from seeking immediate confirmation of their child. However, the means by which the passage accomplishes this goal is through the assurance that the child who has been Baptized is “undoubtedly saved” (and the guilt of original sin has been forgiven as the Homily of Justification (cited in Article 11) notes).

And it is this assurance of the Baptized child being “undoubtedly saved” that I’m focusing on because it necessitates (as the leading English Reformers note) a feeding on Christ’s Flesh and a drinking of Christ’s Blood outside of partaking in Holy Communion—since one cannot be saved until they have received Christ’s Flesh and Blood as the Scriptures makes clear.

Cranmer notes:
And where you say that in baptism we receive the spirit of Christ, and in the sacrament of his body and blood we receive his very flesh and blood; this your saying is no small derogation to baptism, wherein we receive not only the spirit of Christ, but also Christ himself, whole body and soul, manhood and Godhead, unto everlasting life, as well as in the holy communion. For St Paul saith, Quicunque in CAritto o«i. ui. baptizati estis, Christum induistis: “As many as be baptized in Christ, put Christ upon them:” nevertheless, this is done in divers respects; for in baptism it is done in respect of regeneration, and in the holy communion in respect of nourishment and augmentation.
http://books.google.com/books?output=text&id=1mYQAAAAIAAJ&dq=cranmer+body+blood&ots=rs_T5saH5R&jtp=25

Aquinas in his Summa likewise notes this point:
Objection 1. It seems that this sacrament is necessary for salvation. For our Lord said (John 6:54): “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.” But Christ’s flesh is eaten and His blood drunk in this sacrament. Therefore, without this sacrament man cannot have the health of spiritual life.

Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says, explaining John 6:54, “This food and this drink,” namely, of His flesh and blood: “He would have us understand the fellowship of His body and members, which is the Church in His predestinated, and called, and justified, and glorified, His holy and believing ones.” Hence, as he says in his Epistle to Boniface (Pseudo-Beda, in 1 Corinthians 10:17): “No one should entertain the slightest doubt, that then every one of the faithful becomes a partaker of the body and blood of Christ, when in Baptism he is made a member of Christ’s body; nor is he deprived of his share in that body and chalice even though he depart from this world in the unity of Christ’s body, before he eats that bread and drinks of that chalice.”
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4073.htm

God Bless,
WA Scott

[93] Posted by William on 7-4-2012 at 11:07 PM · [top]

William,

“I think you’re missing what I’m trying to get at and it’s my fault for not being clear enough.”

No, I knew what you were getting at, but I was pointing out the context of the passage you quoted.  It is important that we don’t lose sight of context.

“However, the means by which the passage accomplishes this goal is through the assurance that the child who has been Baptized is “undoubtedly saved””

Sure, but taking those words out of context can lead to some erroneous conclusions, which was my point.  For example, it would be wrong to conclude from those two words that the Anglican reformers believed that a person who is baptised is spiritually regenerate and justified in their heart by virtue only of the act of baptism, i.e. without saving faith. 

They were familiar with the Apostles teaching that salvation is by faith from first to last, and they were also familiar with the thief on the cross who was neither baptised nor communicant, but yet was assured of salvation. 

“(and [in baptism] the guilt of original sin has been forgiven as the Homily of Justification (cited in Article 11) notes).”

[I assume by “the Homily of Justification” you mean No 3 in the First Book of Homilies entitled “Homily on the Salvation of Mankind”, which we *think* is the homily referred to in Article 11.]

It depends what you mean.  There is nothing in that homily which supports the idea that a person becomes spiritually regenerate and forgiven through baptism alone, without having true faith.  Nor could the homily do so, since the Scriptures are very clear that salvation is by faith, from first to last.

Nor does that homily support the idea that a person who is justified and regenerate in God’s eyes can fall from that salvation.  Rather, the homily makes a different point:

“They that continue in evil living, have not true faith. For how can a man have this true faith, this sure trust and confidence in GOD, that by the merits of Christ, his sins be forgiven, and be reconciled to the favor of GOD, and to be partaker of the kingdom of heaven by Christ, when he lives ungodly, and denies Christ in his deeds? Surely no such ungodly man can have this faith and trust in GOD.”

In other words, the homily says that a person who fails to show works consistent with salvation is demonstrating that his “faith” was not true faith in the first place. 

Now I am wary of getting drawn too much into argument on this issue, because (like the Eucharist) it is something that is in many respects a mystery.  The scriptures don’t encourage us to overly speculate on the state of somebody else’s heart, which only the Lord himself sees.  Rather, the scriptures tell us to witness to the ungodly, to bring up our children in the fear of the Lord, and to reprove those who are of the household of faith (whether by infant baptism or later conversion) but seem to fall away.  In other words, Scripture tells us to base our actions primarily on what we observe.

Nevertheless, some things are clear, and the idea that a person can be regenerated by God and then fall away in the sense of losing their regeneration and their justification (which always go together) is I think clearly contrary to scripture. 

I note at #11 above you cited one of Hugh Latimer’s sermons:

“Now if he had done so, this act had been a deadly sin; for any act that is done against the law of God willingly and if sin have wittingly, is a deadly sin. And that man or woman that committeth such an act, loseth the Holy Ghost and the remission of sins ; and so becometh the child of the devil, being before the child of God. For a regenerate man or woman, that believeth, ought to have dominion over sin ; but as soon as sin hath rule over him, he is gone: for she leadeth him to delectation of it, and from delectation to consenting, and so from consenting to the act itself. Now he that is led so with sin, he is in the state of damnation, and sinneth damnably.”

With the greatest of respect to the grand old reformer and martyr, he was wrong about this.  There is no scriptural warrant for holding that a regenerate person who sins deliberately has lost their regeneration.

[94] Posted by MichaelA on 7-5-2012 at 12:27 AM · [top]

Sorry—the link I provided for the Cranmer quote in [93] was not the best (it was the “text version” which boggles the text). It’s on page 25 on the following link (Cranmer’s Answer to Gardiner).  http://books.google.com/books?id=Om4JAQAAIAAJ&output=text&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Another interesting example (to carry further my tedious monologue on this side-point) from Cranmer on the point that we are fully made partakers in Christ as described in John 6 in Baptism and not only in Holy Communion—Disputations at Oxford:
<q>Treskam : — We are not made one by baptism in a perfect unity, as Hilary there speaketh, but by the communion, by which we are carnally made one, but not likewise by baptism : wherefore you understand not Hilary. You shall hear his words, objection which are these: “He had now declared afore the sacrament of his perfect union, saying, ’ As the living Father sent me, so do I also live by the Father ;’ and, ’ He that eateth my flesh, shall also live through me.’” And a little after that he writeth thus : ” This truly is the cause of our life, that we have Christ dwelling by his flesh in us that are fleshly, which also by him shall live in such sort as he liveth by his Father.” Wherefore of these words it is manifest, that we obtain this perfect unity by means of the sacrament, and that Christ by it is carnally united unto us.

Cranmer : — Nay, Hilary in that same place doth teach, that it is done by baptism : and that doctrine is not to be suffered in the church, which teacheth that we are not joined to Christ by baptism.
...
....

Cranmer: — This is my faith, and it agreeth with the scripture: Christ liveth by his Father naturally, and maketh us to live by himself in deed naturally, and not only in sacrament of the eucharist, but also in baptism. For infants, when they are baptized, do eat the flesh of Christ.</q>
http://books.google.com/books?id=Om4JAQAAIAAJ&output=text&source=gbs_navlinks_s

God Bless,
WA Scott

p.s. The teaching from the Homily of Justification that I referenced in [93] is as follows:
<q>...we must trust only in GODS mercy, and that sacrifice which our high Priest and Savior Christ Jesus the son of GOD once offered for us upon the Cross, to obtain thereby GODS grace, and remission, as well of our original sin in Baptism, as of all actual sin committed by us after our Baptism, if we truly repent, and turn unfeignedly to him again.</q>
http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk1hom03.htm

[95] Posted by William on 7-5-2012 at 12:33 AM · [top]

William,

I don’t think any of those references you cite contradict the points I made at #94.  If you think they do, feel free to explain why.

[96] Posted by MichaelA on 7-5-2012 at 01:05 AM · [top]

I’m glad you guys are banging this out.  I can’t follow it all, but I’m glad you guys are working it out.

But, uhhhh… what about no birth control?  When my Catholic inamorata was in the mix, it wasn’t the theology of the Eucharist that got my attention.  It was her massive family and the prospect of a seven figure tuition payments.  We never had executive level treaty negotiations on that one, but let’s just say that informal diplomacy there was a real attention getter.

Another thing that became very clear quickly is that if you do convert and want to go fully in basically you have to pledge massive deference to the Papacy.  Father Tim somewhere on Standfirm recently noted that he has no way of keeping track of everything that General Convention passes and that old resolutions can suddenly and surprisingly come to life out of the blue.  Well, Catholicism is like that times 10,000.  You really need to read English, Italian, and Latin to be on top of stuff and Spanish, German, French, Tagalog and Polish don’t hurt either.  So what seems to me to happen for converts is you basically just agree to believe through the Pope.  And if you approach the Church saying basically I don’t understand a lot of this or maybe even agree to a bunch of it but I will defer to the Pope, then probably you’re in.  Whereas if you have canon lawyer level knowledge but have issues with the Papacy and/or the Pope, then I dunno.  I never went so far as to take classes and could be wrong about how all this plays out in practice, but my guess is that pray, pay, and obey trumps Hans Kung level insight most of the time.  This deference is one place where the scandals became very relevant to me.  Which I found especially torturous because I knew that converts would have incredible difference shaking things up or penetrating the Vatican’s hermetic defenses.

[97] Posted by The Plantagenets on 7-5-2012 at 03:39 AM · [top]

“Another thing that became very clear quickly is that if you do convert and want to go fully in basically you have to pledge massive deference to the Papacy.”

Nah, just go in as a sedevacantist.  Or if that’s a bit extreme for you, try Society Pius V or the really conciliatory Society Pius X (the latter do not hold as an article of faith that the last 3 popes were heretics, although they think they were dodgy).

[98] Posted by MichaelA on 7-5-2012 at 04:11 AM · [top]

episcopalienated (#s 78 & 79):

Thanks again for your response.  However, I am not sure what to make of the quotations you cite, because, it seems to me that they are fully consistent with the post-Vatican II sources I have used.  The quotations are clear that it is the *same* sacrifice as the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.  By its very nature, language is stretched when talking about God or the works of God that involve suspension of temporal categories.  When understanding the quotations you cite, I distinguish temporally-indexed language from non-temporally-indexed language; apparently, you do not.

[99] Posted by anglicanconvert on 7-5-2012 at 07:11 AM · [top]

Sorry Michael, I posted [94] before seeing your post in [95].

So, I gather that Baptized infants are “doubtedly saved.” wink

You said:
“It would be wrong to conclude from those two words that the Anglican reformers believed that a person who is baptised is spiritually regenerate and justified in their heart by virtue only of the act of baptism, i.e. without saving faith.”

Cranmer denied that infants can have faith (note—I’m not saying he’s right on this point):
Hitherto I have rehearsed the answer of St Augustine unto Boniface, a learned bishop, who asked of him, how the parents and friends could answer for a young babe in baptism, and say in his person that he believeth and converteth unto God, when the child can neither do nor think any such things. .

Whereunto the answer of St Augustine is this: that forasmuch as baptism is the sacrament of the profession of our faith, and of our conversion unto God, it becometh us so to answer for young children coming thereunto, as to the sacrament appertaineth, although the children in deed have no knowledge of such things. (pg 124, 125 of Cranmer’s Answer to Gardiner)
http://books.google.com/books?id=mFgYAAAAYAAJ&dq=cranmer+have+not+the+mind+to+believe&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Thus, Cranmer held that an infant could not believe yet he confessed that in the Sacrament of Baptism infants “do eat the flesh of Christ,” etc.

How is this possible without the faith of the parents or sponsors or Church being reckoned to the child’s account (just as Christ blessed the children brought to Him on account of the faith of the parents—who believed on Christ and therefore brought their children to Him)?  i.e. the infant is Baptized (and thereby taking into the saving arms of Christ) on account of those who bring and answer for the child in Baptism as Cranmer notes.

I believe Baptism is an “objective” or “covenantal” regeneration—and that it is necessary that there be (through the hearing of the regenerating Word of God) a consummation of this regeneration—namely, a full fledged subjective/conscious regeneration of the Baptized child (which occurs when they first consciously trust in the Lord)—otherwise the Baptism is of no continuing value. 

Anyhow, I think all of this calls for a Corrected/Honest version of the BCP (although it seems to gut the meaning a little to me wink ):

SEEING now, dearly beloved brethren, that [maybe] these children be regenerate and grafted into the body of Christ’s congregation:...

WE yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful father, that it hath pleased thee to [maybe] regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit, to [maybe] receive him for thy own child by adoption, and to [maybe] incorporate him into thy holy congregation…

I CERTIFY you, that in this case ye have done well, and according unto due order concerning the Baptizing of this child, which being born in Original sin and in the wrath of God, is now by the laver of regeneration in Baptism, [maybe] received into the number of the children of God, and heirs of everlasting life, for our Lord Jesus Christ [sometimes] doth not deny his grace and mercy unto such infants, but [sometimes] most lovingly doth call them unto him: as the holy gospel doth witness to our comfort on this wise.
http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1552/Baptism_1552.htm
http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1559/Baptism_1559.htm

And that no man shall think that any detriment shall come to children by deferring of their Confirmation; he shall know for truth, that it is certain by God’s word, that children being baptized, have all things necessary for their salvation, and be [not] undoubtedly saved.
http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1552/Confirmation_1552.htm
http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1559/Confirmation_1559.htm

Note: The BCP’s Burial Rite is sometimes cited as a reason for departing from natural reading of the straightforward language of the BCP on Baptism—but the hopefulness in the Burial Rite is easily distinguished from the certainty of the words in the BCP on Baptism because the Burial rite says that it is merely “our hope” that this departed is with the Lord—whereas the BCP states that the Baptized child is “undoubtedly saved.”

All that said—I actually think you’re position is a reasonable approach from Scripture. Personally, I believe that the children of believers likely are already made partakers of God’s grace prior to Baptism—although, Baptism is always a sure sign, seal, and Sacramental consummation of this grace through the undoubted working of the Blood and Spirit of Christ therein.

God Bless,
WA Scott

[100] Posted by William on 7-5-2012 at 08:28 AM · [top]

Hello again Michael,

I should note that it is also the position of Luther, Wesley and other great evangelicals that infants are undoubtedly saved in Baptism (and on the issue of falling from grace). Of course, the reformers did not deny that Salvation is received through faith even when Baptism is unavailable (and old Aquinas himself (who no one would call weak on Baptism) held that the grace of Salvation was received at the moment we first believe—even if we are not yet Baptized).

Whereas I think there is some reasonable ground for differences of opinion on the grace of Baptism for infants in Scripture—I firmly believe Scriptures require the sober truth that Christians can fall from grace.

You said:
“They that continue in evil living, have not true faith. For how can a man have this true faith, this sure trust and confidence in GOD, that by the merits of Christ, his sins be forgiven, and be reconciled to the favor of GOD, and to be partaker of the kingdom of heaven by Christ, when he lives ungodly, and denies Christ in his deeds? Surely no such ungodly man can have this faith and trust in GOD.”

This passage affirms the sober truth that no one who continues in evil living has a true or living faith (they are, as Latimer noted, in deadly sin).

I’m not sure how this passage contradicts the passage I quoted from Latimer (he affirms this same truth throughout his sermons). Unsurprisingly, the Anglican Formularies agree with Latimer (i.e. that those who commit deadly sin “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ”). In fact, in the same Homily of the Salvation of Mankind (which is universally recognized as the Homily cited in Article 11) it is noted that those who have been “justified” and “made members of Christ” may thereafter make themselves members of the devil:
“Our office is, not to pass the time of this present life unfruitfully, and idly, after that we are baptized or justified, not caring how few good works we do, to the glory of GOD, and profit of our neighbors: Much less is it our office, after that we be once made Christ’s members, to live contrary to the same, making our selves members of the devil…”
http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk1hom03.htm

Or, as Latimer likewise notes—the believer who falls into deadly sin: “so becometh the child of the devil, being before the child of God.”

God Bless,
WA Scott

[101] Posted by William on 7-5-2012 at 09:11 AM · [top]

[Continued]
You said:
“With the greatest of respect to the grand old reformer and martyr, he was wrong about this.  There is no scriptural warrant for holding that a regenerate person who sins deliberately has lost their regeneration.”

1 John says specifically that there is “sin not unto death” and there is “sin unto death.” I believe Latimer and the Anglican Formularies are teaching the Scriptural truth of “deadly sin” (Article 16) and that we “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ” through deadly sin—and thereby come back under the dominion and condemnation of our unregenerate old man after being regenerated.

The Scripture teaches (and as Luther himself notes frequently) the unregenerate old man is still with us even after we have been and regenerated, and constantly wars and seeks to bring us back under its dominion (and thus brought back to an unregenerate state) after we have been saved.

It is certainly not the case that God pleads in Scripture for the true believers to beware of a very real yet pretend danger that they will lose their Salvation. According to most who hold to such a position—although the danger of losing Salvation is actually “make-believe” it’s ok for God to give these toothless or phony warnings in order to provoke true believers to greater sanctification.

Likewise it is not the case (as others hold) that God simply pleads in such passages with false believers to beware of the grave danger that they will lose the pretend salvation which they currently posses.

Luther and other great reformers were fully in accord with the hard truths of Scripture on this matter (unlike much of the modern Church).

All that said, I agree with the predestinarian position of Luther and Augustine that God has Sovereingly ordained (apart from any foreseen merits or works) to give His elect to glory the gift of faith and the gift of perseverance to the end.

And on the other hand he has Sovereignly ordained to give some non-elect the gift of faith without the gift of perseverance (thus justly allowing them to resist the persevering motions of the Spirit—and go their own fleshly way after having received such blessings in Christ) and to give many non-elect not even the gift of faith (thus justly allowing them to resist even the initial motions of the Spirit toward them). 

God Bless,
WA Scott

[102] Posted by William on 7-5-2012 at 09:16 AM · [top]

Four posts in a row—it could be a world record.

Seriously, I just wanted to mention the vital importance of a full assurance of Salvation—and you might find post [18] helpful on this point.

[103] Posted by William on 7-5-2012 at 09:58 AM · [top]

William wrote:

“Whereas I think there is some reasonable ground for differences of opinion on the grace of Baptism for infants in Scripture—I firmly believe Scriptures require the sober truth that Christians can fall from grace.”

Okay.  I look forward to discussing Scripture with you.

“You said:
“They that continue…”

Actually I didn’t.  You have only quoted from the homily and not from any of my words.  You also left out the first sentence of my original quote: “They that continue in evil living, have not true faith.” Cranmer at no point says that they have lost true faith, he says that they don’t have it – always in the present tense.  This contrasts strongly with Latimer’s sermons. 

Also, it is important to note that Cranmer’s words appear to be based on 1 John, particular 1 John 3 where perserverance of the saints is taught.

“Unsurprisingly, the Anglican Formularies agree with Latimer (i.e. that those who commit deadly sin “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ”).”

They do?  Would you mind giving a citation?

“In fact, in the same Homily of the Salvation of Mankind (which is universally recognized as the Homily cited in Article 11) it is noted that those who have been “justified” and “made members of Christ” may thereafter make themselves members of the devil:”

Which doesn’t mean that Cranmer is teaching that Christians can fall from grace.  Here is the sentence in full:

“Much less is it our office, after that we be once made Christ’s members, to live contrary to the same, making our selves members of the devil, walking after his incitements, and after the suggestions of the world and the flesh, whereby we know that we do serve the world and the devil, and not GOD.”

Cranmer is referring to what our “office” is, i.e. our calling as Christians, which is not to continue in sin.  He is not making a judgment as to whether this person is saved or not, but with where they have placed their outwards allegiance.

And no, it is not “universally agreed” that the Homily on Salvation is that referred to as the Homily on Justification in Article 11.  Most would say that it probably is, but that is as far as we can go.  Beware of sweeping statements.

“1 John says specifically that there is “sin not unto death” and there is “sin unto death.” I believe Latimer and the Anglican Formularies are teaching the Scriptural truth of “deadly sin” (Article 16) and that we “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ” through deadly sin—and thereby come back under the dominion and condemnation of our unregenerate old man after being regenerated.”

Firstly, could you please check your quotes before posting them?  The words “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ” do not appear anywhere in Article XVI (nor any other Article), nor in 1 John.  Nor do words similar to them appear. 

Secondly, if you are familiar with debate in this area then you know that there is a world of difference between the concept of “deadly sin” or “sin which leads to death” as expounded in 1 John, and the medieval concept of “deadly sins”.  The Apostle John’s point is that sin which leads to death is continuing sin, because it is something that a regenerate believer cannot do:

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” [1 John 3:9-10]

A person who is born of God will not “go on sinning”, nor can they fall from grace.

Thirdly, I agree that Article XVI is clearly referring to 1 John 1.  It is not referring to the medieval concept that some sins are more heinous than others and therefore each commission of such a sin lead to the loss of justification and regeneration.

“The Scripture teaches (and as Luther himself notes frequently) the unregenerate old man is still with us even after we have been and regenerated, and constantly wars and seeks to bring us back under its dominion (and thus brought back to an unregenerate state) after we have been saved.”

There is no point in adding your personal glosses to Scripture (e.g. the words “and thus brought back to an unregenerate state).  I agree that Scripture teaches that our unregenerate side remains with us always, as long as we live this life.

“It is certainly not the case that God pleads in Scripture for the true believers to beware of a very real yet pretend danger that they will lose their Salvation.”

Who said that he did?  You might find it helpful to cite the scriptural passage or passages you are thinking of and we can discuss the inference you draw from them.

“and you might find post [18] helpful on this point.”

Not particularly.  I am not being rude, its just that I don’t find long dissertations on Luther helpful on this issue.  I am not saying that Luther is never relevant to discussion of Anglican doctrine, any more than Calvin, Bullinger, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Hus, Wyclif, Occam, Aquinas and many others.  But I am more interested in what Scripture teaches, and whether and to what extent the Anglican reformers are consistent with Scripture.

[104] Posted by MichaelA on 7-5-2012 at 06:57 PM · [top]

Hello Michael and thanks for your comments

You said:

You also left out the first sentence of my original quote: “They that continue in evil living, have not true faith.” Cranmer at no point says that they have lost true faith, he says that they don’t have it – always in the present tense.  This contrasts strongly with Latimer’s sermons.

I did include the first sentence in my quote—it’s my fault that you didn’t see it, however, because I improperly formatted my post.

I agree completely with this quote from the Homily.

The Homily represents the faith not just of Cranmer—but the shared faith of the three leading English Reformers (Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley). 

Homily on Justification (I think grin )

Much less is it our office, after that we be once made Christ’s members, to live contrary to the same, making our selves members of the devil, walking after his incitements, and after the suggestions of the world and the flesh, whereby we know that we do serve the world and the devil, and not GOD.


The “office” or calling of a Christian spoken of here is a matter of eternal life or death—i.e. after we have been justified and made members of Christ we must not live contrary to the same and walk after Satan’s incitements. If we do we know that we are no longer justified and members of Christ—but rather are members of Satan whom we serve.

This is discussed in greater detail in the Anglican Homily against Fornication (which clearly lays out the uniquely mortal or deadly nature of fornication in that it causes us to “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ”-thus affirming the Scriptural (not medieval) heirarchy of “sin unto death” and “sin not unto death”):

Christ (who is the truth, and can not lie) said that evil thoughts, breaking of wedlock, whoredom, and fornication defile a man, that is to say, corrupt both the body and soul of man, and make them, of the temples of the Holy Ghost, the filthy dunghill, or dungeon of all unclean spirits, of the house of God, the dwelling place of Satan (Titus 1:15).”
...
...
Again he said, “Flee from whoredom, for every sin that a man commits, is external of his body, but whosoever commits whoredom sins against his own body. Do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, whom also you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are dearly bought. Glorify God in your bodies”, etc. And a little before he said, “Do you not know that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a whore? God forbid. Do you not know, that he who cleaves to a whore is made one body with her? There shall be two in one flesh” (said he) “but he that cleaves to the Lord, is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:15-17). What godly words does the blessed apostle Saint Paul bring forth here, to dissuade us from, and counsel against, whoredom and all uncleanness? Your members (said he) are the temple of the Holy Ghost, which whoever defiles, God will destroy him, as said Saint Paul. If we are the temple of the Holy Ghost, how unfitting then is it to drive that Holy Spirit from us through whoredom, and in his place to set the wicked spirits of uncleanness and fornication, and to be joined, and do service to them?

You are dearly bought (said he). Therefore glorify God in your bodies. Christ, that innocent Lamb of God, has bought us from the servitude of the devil, not with corruptible gold and silver, but with his most precious and dear heart blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). To what intent? That we should fall again into our old uncleanness and abominable living? No, truly, but that we should serve him all the days of our life (Isaiah 38:20, Luke 1:74-75) in holiness and righteousness, that we should glorify him in our bodies by purity and cleanness of life. He declares also that our bodies are the members of Christ. How unseemly a thing is it then to cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ, and through whoredom to be enjoined and made all one with a whore? What greater dishonor or injury can we do to Christ than to take away from him the members of his body and to join them to whores, devils, and wicked spirits? And what more dishonor can we do to ourselves than through uncleanness to lose such excellent a dignity and freedom, and to become bondslaves, and miserable captives to the spirits of darkness? Let us therefore consider first the glory of Christ, then our estate, our dignity, and freedom, wherein God has set us by giving us his Holy Spirit, and let us valiantly defend the same against Satan, and all his crafty assaults, that Christ may be honored, and that we lose not our liberty or freedom, but still remain in one Spirit with him.

I would encourage anyone to read the entire Homily.
http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk1hom11.htm

God Bless,
WA Scott

[105] Posted by William on 7-6-2012 at 09:06 AM · [top]

Although I’d love to get into the Scripture (which is by far the most important issue) on the issue of falling from grace—I’ll have to cut my discussion short at this time.

God Bless,
WA Scott

[106] Posted by William on 7-6-2012 at 10:35 AM · [top]

anglicanconvert:

However, I am not sure what to make of the quotations you cite, because, it seems to me that they are fully consistent with the post-Vatican II sources I have used.  The quotations are clear that it is the *same* sacrifice as the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

Then perhaps you can you address the question I raised in comment #61:

If the Roman view of the Mass is not (or was not) that of an unbloody repetition or reenactment of our Lord’s sacrifice of the cross, then what is the element of sacrifice to which Roman Catholics are referring when they insist that it is lacking from our understanding of the Eucharist?

Why would Leo XIII find it necessary to characterize Anglican orders as “absolutely null and utterly void”?

[107] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-6-2012 at 10:55 AM · [top]

anglicanconvert:

You may find this interesting.  During a previous discussion a while back, Carl cited a secondhand quote from Father John O’Brien’s book, The Faith of Millions, a popular work of Roman Catholic apologetics that was originally published in 1938.  A preview version is now available at Google Books, making possible a fuller quotation from the source itself:

The supreme power of the priestly office is the power of consecrating.  “No act is greater,” says St. Thomas, “than the consecration of the body of Christ.”  In this essential phase of the sacred ministry, the power of the priest is not surpassed by that of the bishop, the archbishop, the cardinal or the pope.  Indeed it is equal to that of Jesus Christ.  For in this role the priest speaks with the voice and authority of God Himself.

When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man (emphasis added).  It is a power greater than that of monarchs and emperors; it is greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim.

Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary.  While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man - not once but a thousand times!  The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.


Some Roman Catholic commenters on that thread were quick to disavow the kind of language used by Father O’Brien, but this excerpt is taken from the most recent edition issued in 1974 with an Imprimatur granted that same year by Bishop Leo Pursley.  It has apparently not been revised, which is something I had wondered about previously, nor has the title the author chose for another section of the book, The Mass: A Reenactment of Calvary

Father O’Brien’s description of what happens at Mass is clearly compatible with the quotations I provided above from Father Lasance’s Prayer Book and the Baltimore Catechism.  Quite frankly, I don’t think it would have raised an eyebrow among Roman Catholics prior to Vatican II, although it is highly doubtful that Roman apologists would speak of it in such terms these days.  But the language of “reenactment” and “repetition” can easily be found in sources prior to Vatican II.

Where the older Roman view of the Mass is concerned, I still think there is more to it than:

When understanding the quotations you cite, I distinguish temporally-indexed language from non-temporally-indexed language; apparently, you do not.

[108] Posted by episcopalienated on 7-6-2012 at 12:07 PM · [top]

1. William wrote:

“The Homily represents the faith not just of Cranmer—but the shared faith of the three leading English Reformers (Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley).”

I agree that all of these shared a common faith, but that doesn’t mean they agreed on every point of doctrine.

Nor can they be called “the three leading English Reformers”.  They happen to be the most commonly known today, mainly because of the manner of their deaths. 

Latimer could not be called a leader in the development of Reformation theology.  He had no known input into the BCP, the Ordinal or the Articles.  Bucer, Vermigli, Laski, Hooper, Ponet and Becon were all more influential than Latimer (and probably several others).

Latimer had been a bishop under Henry VIII, and was deeply respected for his stand on principle, that saw him deposed and imprisoned.  By the accession of Edward VI, he was 60 years old.  He was in no state to take up a bishopric or one of the leading chairs of theology.  Instead, he became court preacher for 3 years, before effectively retiring as personal chaplain to a prominent protestant noblewoman.  However, on the accession of Mary he was determined to face martyrdom, believing it was the only way to cement the Reformation in English society.

2. Nothing in the passages you quote from the Homily on Fornication refer to a Christian losing their justification or regeneration because of sin.  Rather the opposite.

The writer of the Homily quotes from 1 Corinthians 6:5-17, a passage where St Paul sets out the adverse effects of committing immorality, but pointedly does NOT say that it leads to loss of justification, salvation or regeneration.

3. You also wrote:

“Although I’d love to get into the Scripture (which is by far the most important issue) on the issue of falling from grace—I’ll have to cut my discussion short at this time.”

Each person must set their own priorities.  Since your quotes from the homilies don’t support your position, its about time we examined scripture.

[109] Posted by MichaelA on 7-6-2012 at 10:42 PM · [top]

Hello Michael—I just wanted to add a quick after-thought—namely that the deadly/non-deadly sin concept of Scripture taught by the English Reformers is not dependent on a particular interpretation of 1 John 5:16, 17 (not that you were saying that it was). Rather, it is a doctrine that is found throughout the pages of Scripture. Scripture teaches that all sins are worthy of eternal damnation (i.e. all sin is “mortal” or “deadly” in this sense)—yet for those who are in Christ Scripture teaches (as the English Reformers show) that certain sins/degrees of sin are “deadly” in that they cause us to die spiritually because we lose the Holy Spirit

God Bless,
WA Scott

[110] Posted by William on 7-6-2012 at 11:45 PM · [top]

Sorry Michael I didn’t see your post when I posted [110]

I’m short on time so I’ll make this post as brief as possible.

1.We’ll have to agree to disagree as to the place of Latimer in English Reformation for the moment.

2. Nothing in the passages you quote from the Homily on Fornication refer to a Christian losing their justification or regeneration because of sin.  Rather the opposite.
The opposite? The Homily says that the Christian who commits this sin will “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ,”  etc. As the Scripture and all the Reformers taught—to be united to Christ or “in Christ” is to be justified (for then the Father sees His Son when He sees us—and thus Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to us). To cease to be united to Christ is to cease to be justified (the Father no longer sees the Son when He sees us).

The passage in the Homily didn’t have to go into the accompanying loss of justification, etc to make clear what the stakes are (namely, loss of Salvation) anymore than Latimer had to go into detail as to express the reality of losing Salvation in a sermon he preached after these sermons were written (as I’m sure you’re aware—he’s not calling Cranmer a “new spirit” here):
“Remember God must be honored, I will you to pray that God will continue His Spirit in you. I do not put you in comfort, that if ye have once the Spirit, ye cannot lose it, There be new spirits start up now of late, that say, after we have received the spirit, we cannot sin. I will make but one argument Saint Paul had brought the Galatians to the possession of the faith, and left them in that state, they had received the Spirit once, but they sinned again, as he testified of them himself. He sayeth : Currebaiis bene—Ye were once in a right state, and again. Recepiftis fpirituum er operibus legis, an ex iuflicia. fidei ti—Once they had the Spirit by faith, but false Prophets came (when he was gone from them), and they plucked them clean away from all that Paul had planted them in, and then said Paul unto them: O ftulti Galathi qvis vos facinauift—If this be true, we may lose the Spirit that we have once possessed. It is a fond thing: I will not tarry in it.”
http://books.google.com/books?id=FK0QAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=latimer+sermons#PPA197,M1

You said:

The writer of the Homily quotes from 1 Corinthians 6:5-17, a passage where St Paul sets out the adverse effects of committing immorality, but pointedly does NOT say that it leads to loss of justification, salvation or regeneration.


The question is what the Homily says about the passage. St. Paul doesn’t explicitly say in this passage that committing this sin causes us to cease to be united to Christ as the Homily does. That said, I believe the Homily is accurately expressing St. Paul’s thoughts on the matter.

3.My priority is Scripture—but I’m limited on time at this moment and in quoting the Homilies I’m quoting what I believe the correct interpretation of various passages are (for instance 1 Cor 6:5-17).

I’m sorry if I’ve offended you Michael—you seem to be a great guy and I’m glad to call you my brother in Christ (and no doubt—my spiritual better) and I’m grateful for your love of Christ and His Word. I’m blessed to have many excellent brothers and sisters in Christ who happen to hold a different interpretation of Scripture on this issue. 

God Bless,
WA Scott

[111] Posted by William on 7-7-2012 at 12:48 AM · [top]

Correction:
“The passage in the Homily didn’t have to go into the accompanying loss of justification, etc to make clear what the stakes are (namely, loss of Salvation) anymore than Latimer had to *mention the loss of justification* to express the reality of losing Salvation in a sermon he preached after these sermons were written”

(Note the quotation of Latimer is from pg 197, 198).

In Christ,
WA Scott

[112] Posted by William on 7-7-2012 at 12:55 AM · [top]

“The opposite? The Homily says that the Christian who commits this sin will “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ,”  etc.”

Precisely.  The Homily on Fornication expounds the following passage from St Paul, and goes no further than he does in that passage:

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!  Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”  But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” [1 Cor 6:15-17]

Paul does not say that a person whose body is a “member of Christ” ceases to become so if he is united with a prostitute.  Rather, he warns the person whose body is a member of Christ not to join it with that of a prostitute. 

The distinction may be subtle, but it is real: –Paul does not say: “If you do A, then B will happen”.  Rather, he says, “If you are X, then you should not do Y”. 

“As the Scripture and all the Reformers taught—to be united to Christ or “in Christ” is to be justified (for then the Father sees His Son when He sees us—and thus Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to us).”

In many cases that is true.  But you are trying to take a passage from the Homily on Fornication out of context, and in particular to divorce it from the scriptural passage on which it is explicitly based, and place your own gloss on its words.

“The question is what the Homily says about the [scriptural] passage.”

No, it isn’t.  The Homily has no authority to teach differently from scripture, nor to require that additional things not taught in scripture are to be required for salvation.

But even more than that, we have no reason to think that the Homily purports to teach differently from scripture, unless it explicitly says so.

“I’m sorry if I’ve offended you Michael”

You haven’t. I just disagree with you on this point.

“The passage in the Homily didn’t have to go into the accompanying loss of justification, etc to make clear what the stakes are (namely, loss of Salvation) anymore than Latimer had to *mention the loss of justification* to express the reality of losing Salvation in a sermon he preached after these sermons were written”

The connection you draw is not a logical one. 

You have assumed a priori that, when Paul warns a Christian in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17 that he should not join his body (which body is a member of Christ) with a prostitute, that Paul is saying the Christian thereby loses his salvation.  Paul doesn’t say this, doesn’t even hint it. 

You then assume that the Homily of Justification, in expounding 1 Corinthians 6:15-17, goes further than Paul and teaches that a person who is involved in fornication thereby loses their salvation.  It is not clear to me that the Homily purports to do so (and you admit further down that it does not explicitly say so) but if it did, all that would prove was that the Homily had departed from apostolic teaching, something it had no authority to do.

[113] Posted by MichaelA on 7-8-2012 at 02:04 AM · [top]

William wrote:

“Rather, it is a doctrine that is found throughout the pages of Scripture. Scripture teaches that all sins are worthy of eternal damnation (i.e. all sin is “mortal” or “deadly” in this sense)—yet for those who are in Christ Scripture teaches (as the English Reformers show) that certain sins/degrees of sin are “deadly” in that they cause us to die spiritually because we lose the Holy Spirit”“

I am not sure what you mean by “lose the Holy Spirit” - my posts above were responding to your suggestion that a Christian by sinning can lose his salvation or justification (the two going hand-in-hand).

If you believe that such a doctrine is “found throughout the pages of Scripture” then you shouldn’t have any difficult providing some examples.

[114] Posted by MichaelA on 7-8-2012 at 02:45 AM · [top]

Hello Michael.

You said:
“(and you admit further down that it does not explicitly say so)”

I’m afraid you misread my post. I said that Paul does not explicitly say so in this passage—the Homily does explicitly say that the person who commits this sin loses their Salvation (i.e. the one who has the Holy Spirit in them and thus is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, has been redeemed at a great price, and made one with Christ—drives out the Holy Spirit, ceases to be incorporated, embodied and made one with Christ and thus makes this former redeemed dwelling place or temple of the Holy Spirit the dwelling place of Satan when this sin is committed). Thus, the Homily says exactly what Latimer said (i.e. “loses the Holy Spirit” and therefore salvation may be lost)—the Homily didn’t have to say such an individual “loses justification and regeneration” anymore than Latimer had to explicitly say that an individual “loses justification and regeneration” in order to make clear the loss of Salvation.

Further, Latimer wrote his sermon that I quoted from in [111] at least two years after the Homilies were published (note the sermon I quoted from in post [111] is not the same sermon that I quoted from in post [11]).

Further, Latimer says (see post [111] that at that time there were some “new spirits” teaching contrary to Scripture by saying that the Holy Spirit could not be lost (ie Salvation could not be lost). Latimer it is rather a stretch to say that he is including among these “new spirits” his close companion Cranmer and the Book of Homilies (which was published nearly 2 years before and which Latimer himself had most likely contributed to (eg the Homily on the fruitful reading of Scripture is considered by many to be his work)). 

In other words according to your position, Latimer would have to include Cranmer and the Book of Homilies (which he contributed to) as being among the “new spirits” on the issue of losing salvation that he is warning his hearers.

Anyway, I’ve got to cut the post off now so I can head off to pray at a local abortion clinic that often performs abortions on Sunday morning (if you have one near you—please think about praying at it—there is such a great need (largely unfilled) for someone to peacefully and lovingly witness to the women and staff at these dark places. Also, although I’m not part of 40 days for Life—they have set a great and effective precedent since 2007 in the area of peaceful prayerful presence at abortion clinics (thousands of babies confirmed saved, many staff leaving the abortion industry, and now 23 clinics shut down). 

God Bless,
WA Scott

[115] Posted by William on 7-8-2012 at 07:48 AM · [top]

Correction:
...the Homily says exactly what Latimer said on loss of Salvation in the sermon quoted in [111] (i.e. Latimer simply refers to lose of Salvation through saying that such a one “loses the Holy Spirit” [111] without saying anything about loss of justification, etc while the Homily against Fornication [105] likewise states clearly the loss of Salvation (without having to go through all that is lost)—namely that when those who are redeemed and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them (or “Temples of the Holy Spirit”) commit this sin they drive out the Holy Spirit and are indwelt instead by devils and “cease to be incorporated or embodied or made one with Christ” and are joined instead to devils*)


*(Or, as Latimer said in the sermon quoted in [11] regarding those who sin in this manner, they makes themselves “the child of the devil, being before the child of God”).

God Bless
WA Scott

[116] Posted by William on 7-8-2012 at 08:11 AM · [top]

Wow, it’s horrible to see people taking their children to death…The abortion clinic was loaded this Sunday morning (as it frequently is)—this week they were only doing pre-ops on other days with Sunday being set aside for abortions. This is the legal holocaust of the unborn in our land—-over a million a year.

All of that said, I want to briefly touch on something before I head off. I think one of the primary problems is that we’re talking past each other (and looking back at my earlier posts—I can see that I didn’t always express myself as clearly as I could).

You said:

Paul does not say that a person whose body is a “member of Christ” ceases to become so if he is united with a prostitute.  Rather, he warns the person whose body is a member of Christ not to join it with that of a prostitute.
The distinction may be subtle, but it is real: –Paul does not say: “If you do A, then B will happen”.  Rather, he says, “If you are X, then you should not do Y”.

I agree completely (as I noted in the post you’re responding to). However, what Paul does not say is precisely what the Homily does say (see the fuller quote and link on post [105]):

He declares also that our bodies are the members of Christ. How unseemly a thing is it then to cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ, and through whoredom to be enjoined and made all one with a whore? What greater dishonor or injury can we do to Christ than to take away from him the members of his body and to join them to whores, devils, and wicked spirits?

This is why I said previously that Paul does not explicitly say that we cease to be united to Christ when we commit this sin whereas the Homily does. That said,I believe (as I noted in the post your responding to) that the Homily is correctly interpreting Paul.

Well, I better head off for evening worship service.

God bless,
WA Scott

p.s. Some strong words on the abortion issue from Kelly Clinger
http://kellyclinger.com/2012/01/25/today-i-returned-to-the-abortion-clinic/

Account from a former abortion doctor of the D & E procedure (used in many of the aprx 140,000 second trimester abortions in America):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=gZVL1YdwPOc

[117] Posted by William on 7-8-2012 at 04:26 PM · [top]

William wrote:

“the Homily does explicitly say that the person who commits this sin loses their Salvation”

No, it doesn’t. You are reading into it what you want to read there.

“the one … drives out the Holy Spirit, ceases to be incorporated, … makes this … the dwelling place of Satan”

This section is a mixture of what the Homily says and your own glosses and additions.  Better to let the Homily speak for itself.

What the Homily actually states does not equate to saying that the person has lost their salvation.  Plus of course, since Scripture does not say that, the Homily would have no authority to say it either.

“Further, Latimer wrote his sermon that I quoted from in [111] at least two years after the Homilies were published”

So what?  The teaching of perseverance of the saints is far older than the Homily on Fornication.

“Further, Latimer says (see post [111] that at that time there were some “new spirits” teaching contrary to Scripture by saying that the Holy Spirit could not be lost (ie Salvation could not be lost).”

This is yet another instance where you quote inaccurately.  What Latimer said was: “There be new spirits start up now of late, that say, after we have received the spirit, we cannot sin.”  That is a different point.

“In other words according to your position, Latimer would have to include Cranmer and the Book of Homilies (which he contributed to) as being among the “new spirits” on the issue of losing salvation that he is warning his hearers.”

No it wouldn’t.  You haven’t read Latimer properly.

“I think one of the primary problems is that we’re talking past each other”

I don’t think we are.  I think it has been clear for a while where our disagreement lies.

“However, what Paul does not say is precisely what the Homily does say”

Even if this were true, the Homily has no authority to go beyond Paul on a matter of salvation.

“He declares also that our bodies are the members of Christ. How unseemly a thing is it then to cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ, and through whoredom to be enjoined and made all one with a whore?”

Precisely, which is also what the Homily is saying.

[118] Posted by MichaelA on 7-8-2012 at 05:51 PM · [top]

This is yet another instance where you quote inaccurately.  What Latimer said was: “There be new spirits start up now of late, that say, after we have received the spirit, we cannot sin.”  That is a different point.

Although I’m sure you didn’t intend it—I must question the accuracy of your quotation. By omitting the rest of what Latimer says you make him appear to say something other than what he actually says in the quote. The rest of his statement (post [111]) indicates that a (or, possibly “the”) focus of his concern with these “new spirits” is their unscriptural belief that one cannot lose the Holy Spirit (of course when he speaks of “losing the Holy Spirit” he means losing Salvation (see quote from Latimer in post [11])—ie if you lose the Holy Spirit you have lost remission of sins).


You said:

This section is a mixture of what the Homily says and your own glosses and additions.  Better to let the Homily speak for itself.

Everything I listed there was explicitly spoken of in the Homily as a consequence of committing that sin. However I agree that it’s best to let the Homily speak for itself (for a fuller quote and link to the Homily see [105]):

Christ (who is the truth, and can not lie) said that evil thoughts, breaking of wedlock, whoredom, and fornication defile a man, that is to say, corrupt both the body and soul of man, and make them, of the temples of the Holy Ghost, the filthy dunghill, or dungeon of all unclean spirits, of the house of God, the dwelling place of Satan (Titus 1:15).” 
....
Your members (said he) are the temple of the Holy Ghost, which whoever defiles, God will destroy him, as said Saint Paul. If we are the temple of the Holy Ghost, how unfitting then is it to drive that Holy Spirit from us through whoredom, and in his place to set the wicked spirits of uncleanness and fornication, and to be joined, and do service to them?
...
He declares also that our bodies are the members of Christ. How unseemly a thing is it then to cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ, and through whoredom to be enjoined and made all one with a whore? What greater dishonor or injury can we do to Christ than to take away from him the members of his body and to join them to whores, devils, and wicked spirits?

So does the Homily say that temples of the Holy Spirit/Members of Christ: drive out the Holy Spirit and make themselves the dwelling place of Satan and cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ? 

All that said, we still seem to be talking past each other. You said previously:

Paul does not say that a person whose body is a “member of Christ” ceases to become so if he is united with a prostitute.

Now I’m going to correct the Homily according to what you said. wink

“He declares also that our bodies are the members of Christ. How unseemly a thing is it then to [NOT] cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ, and through whoredom to be enjoined and made all one with a whore? What greater dishonor or injury can we do to Christ than to [NOT] take away from him the members of his body and to join them to whores, devils, and wicked spirits?”

So what?  The teaching of perseverance of the saints is far older than the Homily on Fornication.

True, if you include Augustine’s version of it (btw I hold Augustine’s position). However, Augustine’s view of perseverance (which taught the absolute certainty of final perseverance for all those God had elected and predestined to glory) still taught the possibility of losing Salvation.

The point is you have stated your belief that on the important issue of wheter it is possible to lose Salvation Latimer was directly at odds with his co-patriot Cranmer and the Book of Homilies which Latimer helped to write. I’ve spent a great deal of time for a number of years reading (and in many cases re-reading and re-reading) all the Homilies in the Book of Homilies—and I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion.

God Bless,
WA Scott

[119] Posted by William on 7-8-2012 at 09:50 PM · [top]

Sorry Michael—my above post is really confusing because I left out an important comment on the quote (ok, so my post is still really confusing wink ):

You said previously:

Paul does not say that a person whose body is a “member of Christ” ceases to become so if he is united with a prostitute.

**As I noted before, while you are correct Paul does not explicitly say this—I believe the Homily is correctly interpreting this passage in noting that a person does “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ” in this situation.**

Now I’m going to correct the Homily according to what you said…

God Bless,
WA Scott

[120] Posted by William on 7-8-2012 at 10:14 PM · [top]

“By omitting the rest of what Latimer says you make him appear to say something other than what he actually says in the quote. The rest of his statement ... indicates that a (or, possibly “the”) focus of his concern with these “new spirits” is their unscriptural belief that one cannot lose the Holy Spirit”

No, the rest of his statement doesn’t do that.  The passage I quoted (after you failed to) accurately reflects what he writes.  And when I wrote that you misquoted Latimer, that was also correct. 

“So does the Homily say that temples of the Holy Spirit/Members of Christ: drive out the Holy Spirit and make themselves the dwelling place of Satan and cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ?”

Firstly, this is garbled (yet again) - you confuse the Christian and the Christian’s body.  The Homily at this point follows 1 Corinthians 6:15-17:  It is our bodies that are members of Christ, and when we join with a prostitute we make our bodies members of the prostitute. 

Secondly, all three of the paragraphs from the Homily which you set out do not necessarily amount to teaching loss of salvation: You seem to think that words like “dwelling place of Satan”, “driving the Holy Spirit from us” automatically equate to loss of salvation, and they do not necessarily do so.

Thirdly and most importantly, even if you could prove that the Homily taught that Christians lose their salvation each time they commit what you call a “deadly sin”, that would only mean that you have shown the Homily to lack authority for Anglicans.

Despite your assurances above that you would discuss Scripture if you only had the time, it seems that we get long posts from you arguing the interpretation of the formularies or even of the 1st Book of Homilies, but somehow the arguments on Scripture just never eventuate.

“Now I’m going to correct the Homily according to what you said.”

This makes no sense (even in light of your #120)

“True, if you include Augustine’s version of it (btw I hold Augustine’s position). However, Augustine’s view of perseverance (which taught the absolute certainty of final perseverance for all those God had elected and predestined to glory) still taught the possibility of losing Salvation.”

No, I wasn’t just referring to Augustine, nor do you appear to understand Augustine.  However I can see this becoming yet another red herring…

“The point is you have stated your belief that on the important issue of wheter it is possible to lose Salvation Latimer was directly at odds with his co-patriot Cranmer and the Book of Homilies which Latimer helped to write.”

I don’t know what “co-patriot” means but if you think that Anglican Reformers agreed on every point of doctrine then you are in for a nasty shock.

“I’ve spent a great deal of time for a number of years reading (and in many cases re-reading and re-reading) all the Homilies in the Book of Homilies—and I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion.”

You can disagree with me as much as you like, but I fail to see the relevance of your “re-reading and re-reading”.  If you have an argument to present, then present it.

[121] Posted by MichaelA on 7-9-2012 at 07:17 AM · [top]

Thanks for your comments Michael.

No, the rest of his statement doesn’t do that.  The passage I quoted (after you failed to) accurately reflects what he writes.  And when I wrote that you misquoted Latimer, that was also correct.


I agree that you think so—but all you’re doing is asserting what you said last time without grappling with what the full quote actually says. Therefore, the only response you’ve left for me to give in response is “when I wrote that you misquoted Latimer, that was also correct”—and since I said it last, I win wink

I don’t know what “co-patriot” means but if you think that Anglican Reformers agreed on every point of doctrine then you are in for a nasty shock.

I definitely don’t think that the Anglican Reformers agreed on every point of doctrine. However, this is a particular issue that Latimer appears to have gone out of his way to warn his hearers of departing from and the assertion that even the Book of Homilies (which Latimer most likely had a hand in composing) directly contradict him on this point seems very doubtful without clear evidence to the contrary. 

No, I wasn’t just referring to Augustine, nor do you appear to understand Augustine.  However I can see this becoming yet another red herring…

Well, whether it was a red herring or not—it definitely became one by saying that I don’t understand Augustine wink  Please elaborate.

Just to help this red herring along—St. Augustine’s Rebuke and Grace (or Admonition and Grace) (est. AD 426, 427—a work of Augustine after he had come to his mature views on predestination) (pg 254, 255):
If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, “I have not received,” because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1513.htm

Firstly, this is garbled (yet again) - you confuse the Christian and the Christian’s body.  The Homily at this point follows 1 Corinthians 6:15-17:  It is our bodies that are members of Christ, and when we join with a prostitute we make our bodies members of the prostitute.

I agree that my sentence was poorly written—but substantively garbled? Can you explain to me how or where the Homily says that the Christian’s body ceases to be “incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ” and the rest of him doesn’t? I’ve never heard of such an idea (and certainly have not read any such concept in any reformer’s writings).

Secondly, all three of the paragraphs from the Homily which you set out do not necessarily amount to teaching loss of salvation: You seem to think that words like “dwelling place of Satan”, “driving the Holy Spirit from us” automatically equate to loss of salvation, and they do not necessarily do so.


Is driving out the Holy Spirit and ceasing to be incorporated in Christ a non-life threatening condition. How can we still be justified if we are no longer incorporated in Christ and no longer have His Spirit dwelling in us?

Finally you asked about Scripture.
I appreciate your desire to go directly to Scripture. But there are two reasons I won’t go there at this time. First, I know Scripture will take a lot more time (and I’m already spending far more time than I intended on this thread). Second, we’ve had such a difficult time mutually acknowledging what is explicitly said in the Homilies (for instance that the Homily actually says we “cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ”)—how much more difficult is it going to be to come to any agreement on the far more nuanced statements of Scripture used by both sides on this issue. In other words, as much as I’d love to and although it is by far the most important thing—it’s not an option for this thread.

Your annoying brother in Christ wink
WA Scott

[122] Posted by William on 7-9-2012 at 09:08 AM · [top]

p.s.  I hope the use of smiley’s and other goofy remarks don’t come across as mocking. I’m definitely not using them for that purpose. I’m just using them to try to lighten the mood. As frustrating as this discussion has no doubt been for both of us (seriously, it’s helped to cure me of any desire to participate in blog discussions for a long time—which is a good thing) it’s vital if Christ is our Lord that we keep a charitable attitude toward one another. I apologize for my failings in this regard on this thread.
God Bless,
Your brother in Christ.

[123] Posted by William on 7-9-2012 at 09:26 AM · [top]

William wrote:

1. “I agree that you think so—but all you’re doing is asserting what you said last time without grappling with what the full quote actually says.”

I don’t have to “grapple” with it, unless there is something to grapple with.  The passage simply doesn’t say what you assert, doesn’t even refer to it.  This was your statement at #115:

2. “Further, Latimer says (see post [111] that at that time there were some “new spirits” teaching contrary to Scripture by saying that the Holy Spirit could not be lost (ie Salvation could not be lost).”

I responded that Latimer by “new spirits” was not referring to those who teach that Salvation cannot be lost, but to those who teach that one cannot sin after being regenerate.  Here is the excerpt from Latimer that you referred to:

“There be new spirits start up now of late, that say, after we have received the spirit, we cannot sin. I will make but one argument Saint Paul had brought the Galatians to the possession of the faith, and left them in that state, they had received the Spirit once, but they sinned again, as he testified of them himself.”

I have also pointed out elsewhere that your assumption that “losing the Spirit” must equate with “losing Salvation” is also incorrect.

3. “the assertion that even the Book of Homilies (which Latimer most likely had a hand in composing) directly contradict him on this point seems very doubtful without clear evidence to the contrary.”

The First Book of Homilies consists of a number of different parts (i.e. separate homilies) written by different authors.  So far as I am aware, it was never redacted by a single editor or board of editors, so your conclusion does not follow. 

In effect you are arguing: “It would not be possible for any part of the First Book of Homilies to be inconsistent with an unrelated sermon that Latimer preached much later”.  I respectfully disagree!

4. “Well, whether it was a red herring or not—it definitely became one by saying that I don’t understand Augustine”

No, it became one when you asserted that the only church father that teaches perseverance of the saints is Augustine, and that your doctrine (that each time a person commits a “deadly sin” they lose their salvation) is the same as his.  And it is even more a red herring because it appears to be yet another tack we must go down instead of Scripture.  But fine, if you want to discuss Augustine, we will discuss Augustine – see below:

5. “Just to help this red herring along—St. Augustine’s Rebuke and Grace (or Admonition and Grace) (est. AD 426, 427—a work of Augustine after he had come to his mature views on predestination) (pg 254, 255):
If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, “I have not received,” because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received.”

Being familiar with Augustine, you know that he wrote a lot more besides on this topic and that “losing the grace of God” does not necessarily mean “losing salvation”. 

I agree Augustine says that those who do not persevere to the end will not be saved (in which he follows the Apostle John – the issue is not “deadly sins” but “continuing in sin”), but Augustine makes clear that even their appearing to have been saved in the first place is a human perspective that does not reflect God’s knowledge that comes from seeing with 100% clarity into the human heart.  From later on in the same work that you cited:

“Are not these even in the words of the gospel called disciples? And yet they were not truly disciples, because they did not continue in His word, according to what He says: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye indeed my disciples.”  Because, therefore, they possessed not perseverance, as not being truly disciples of Christ, so they were not truly children of God even when they appeared to be so, and were so called.

We, then, call men elected, and Christ’s disciples, and God’s children, because they are to be so called whom, being regenerated, we see to live piously; but they are then *truly* what they are called if they shall abide in that on account of which they are so called. But if they have not perseverance,—that is, if they continue not in that which they have begun to be,—they are *not truly* called what they are called and are not [i.e. disciples, God’s children, regenerate]; for they are not this in the sight of Him to whom it is known what they are going to be,—that is to say, from good men, bad men.” [On Rebuke and Grace, Chap 22] [NB asterisks and comment inserted by me]

Note Augustine’s point: we humans with our limited outward vision *think* that another man is regenerate on the basis that we see him live piously.  That of course is the only basis on which we can make a judgment, because we cannot see into the human heart.  But from God’s perspective, that man was never truly regenerate in the first place, if he does not show perseverance until the end. 

In this respect, Augustine uses regeneration (and justification, salvation and other words) in two senses: that which we humans see and conclude according to the evidence given to us) and that which God truly sees.  I suggest you will find that many other theologians do the same, quite possibly including Latimer in his sermons although I haven’t looked into that.

Continued below…

[124] Posted by MichaelA on 7-9-2012 at 07:43 PM · [top]

Continued:

6. “Can you explain to me how or where the Homily says that the Christian’s body ceases to be “incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ” and the rest of him doesn’t?”

I don’t have to.  The Homily at no point says that the Christian who joins with a prostitute by that fact loses his salvation.  It goes no further than Paul does in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17 wherein he points out the incongruity of such an act with the Christian’s profession.  St Paul doesn’t go to the issue of where that Christian stands in God’s true vision of his heart – he may after all only be outwardly a Christian, one who was never saved in the first place.  Or, he may be a truly regenerate person who has fallen temporarily into sin (and if you are familiar with Augustine’s On Rebuke and Grace, you will be aware of his discussion of this phenomenon also).  Paul doesn’t look at the issue of where the person stands before God, but points out the utter incongruity of a true Christian coupling with a prostitute.

In effect, Paul’s warning is double barrelled: whether the erring Christian is only outwardly regenerate, or is truly regenerate but living inconsistently, Paul’s warning will have great value.  In the first case, the warning may protect the believer from the earthly judgment that may fall on believers, and the deep sorrow that such sin will occasion; in the second case, the warning may protect the hypocrite by calling him to true repentance.

Since you raised it, Augustine touches on this double-barrelled nature of warnings in chapter 25 of the work you cite above:

“Let no one therefore say that a man must not be rebuked when he deviates from the right way, but that his return and perseverance must only be asked for from the Lord for him. Let no considerate and believing man say this.

For if such an one is called according to the purpose, beyond all doubt God is co-working for good to him even in the fact of his being rebuked. But since he who rebukes is ignorant whether he is so called, let him do with love what he knows ought to be done; for he knows that such an one ought to be rebuked.

God will show either mercy or judgment; mercy, indeed, if he who is rebuked is “made to differ” by the bestowal of grace from the mass of perdition, and is not found among the vessels of wrath which are completed for destruction, but among the vessels of mercy which God has prepared for glory; but judgment, if among the former he is condemned, and is not predestinated among the latter.” [On Rebuke and Grace, Chap 25]

7. “Is driving out the Holy Spirit and ceasing to be incorporated in Christ a non-life threatening condition. How can we still be justified if we are no longer incorporated in Christ and no longer have His Spirit dwelling in us?”

That depends on what the particular speaker means by these phrases, which in turn must be judged by context.  Losing the Holy Spirit is used in a number of different senses in Scripture.  And when Paul distinguishes between our bodies being a member of Christ or being a member of a prostitute, there is no obvious reason why he is talking about salvation at all, except in the sense I noted above, that most (if not all) warnings against sin in Scripture tend to have a double-barrelled sense to them.

8. “I appreciate your desire to go directly to Scripture. But there are two reasons I won’t go there at this time. First, I know Scripture will take a lot more time … Second, we’ve had such a difficult time mutually acknowledging what is explicitly said in the Homilies … how much more difficult is it going to be to come to any agreement on the far more nuanced statements of Scripture used by both sides on this issue. In other words, as much as I’d love to and although it is by far the most important thing—it’s not an option for this thread.”

I disagree – it is the only option for a Christian.  Scripture should be the first authority to which a Christian refers, certainly not as you put it, the last authority and an optional one!  Those who are prepared to debate the formularies, the homilies or the fathers should not be afraid of Scripture.  That was not the attitude of the reformers, nor of the church fathers, who based all their teaching on scripture.

9. “I hope the use of smiley’s and other goofy remarks don’t come across as mocking.”

I have no concerns in that regard. 

10. “it’s vital if Christ is our Lord that we keep a charitable attitude toward one another.”

Really – from where do we learn that? (I’ll give you a hint – it comes from a higher and earlier authority than the reformers or the church fathers!)

[125] Posted by MichaelA on 7-9-2012 at 07:46 PM · [top]

Hello Michael,

I have also pointed out elsewhere that your assumption that “losing the Spirit” must equate with “losing Salvation” is also incorrect.

I agree that you think it is incorrect. However,you have provided no evidence from Latimer that he thought that losing the Spirit was distinct from losing Salvation. He affirms throughout his sermons the truth of Romans 8:9 “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” and further Latimer exclusively uses loss of the Holy Spirit in his sermons in reference to losing Salvation.

THE SIXTH SERMON, PREACHED ON THE FIRST SUNDAY
IN ADVENT, 1552 (See fuller quote and other examples of this in this sermon by following the link in post [11]):

As for an ensample: I see a fair woman, I am moved in my heart to sin with her, to commit the act of lechery with her: such thoughts rise out of my heart, but I consent not unto them; I withstand these ill motions, I follow the ensample of that godly young man, Joseph; I consider in what estate I am, namely, a temple of God, and that I should lose the Holy Ghost; on such wise I withstand my ill lusts and appetites, yet this motion in my heart is sin; this ill lust which riseth up; but it ia a venial sin, it is not a mortal sin, because I consent not unto it, I withstand it; and such venial sins the just man Prov. xiv. committeth daily.

Seventh Sermon on the Lord’s Prayer (1552):

For whosoever purposely sinneth, contra conscientiam, “against his conscience,” he hath lost the Holy Ghost, the remission of sins, and finally Christ himself.

(pg 363—can read the entire sermon in the following link)
http://books.google.com/books?id=FK0QAAAAIAAJ&vq=1552&dq=latimer+sermons&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Rather than asserting your opinion—you need to provide evidence from Latimer that when he warns of losing the Spirit he is warning of something distinct from losing Salvation (ie you have the burden of proof here).

Changing gears somewhat: I’m assuming it wasn’t intentional but your abridged quote of Latimer’s “new spirits” passage is misleading (you left off the parts (hopefully unintentionally) that don’t help your interpretation—namely that the warning against/correction of the “new spirits” by Latimer had nothing (not even partially) to do with the issue of losing Salvation).

Here’s the actual full quote (and the link):

“Remember God must be honored, I will you to pray that God will continue His Spirit in you. I do not put you in comfort, that if ye have once the Spirit, ye cannot lose it, There be new spirits start up now of late, that say, after we have received the spirit, we cannot sin. I will make but one argument Saint Paul had brought the Galatians to the possession of the faith, and left them in that state, they had received the Spirit once, but they sinned again, as he testified of them himself. He sayeth : Currebaiis bene—Ye were once in a right state, and again. Recepiftis fpirituum er operibus legis, an ex iuflicia. fidei ti—Once they had the Spirit by faith, but false Prophets came (when he was gone from them), and they plucked them clean away from all that Paul had planted them in, and then said Paul unto them: O ftulti Galathi qvis vos facinauift—If this be true, we may lose the Spirit that we have once possessed. It is a fond thing: I will not tarry in it.”


http://books.google.com/books?id=FK0QAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=latimer+sermons#PPA197,M1

Anyway,  people (as if anyone would be reading our endless discussion at this point grin ) can read the whole quote and decide for themselves. As for you and me—We’ll have to agree to disagree.

The First Book of Homilies consists of a number of different parts (i.e. separate homilies) written by different authors.  So far as I am aware, it was never redacted by a single editor or board of editors, so your conclusion does not follow.

In effect you are arguing: “It would not be possible for any part of the First Book of Homilies to be inconsistent with an unrelated sermon that Latimer preached much later”.  I respectfully disagree!

I apologize if I was unclear. I’m arguing that you have the burden of proof backwards. It seems that you’ve assumed that the First Book of Homilies naturally agrees with you and your interpretation of Scripture and therefore it obviously contradicts Latimer and his interpretation of Scripture on the issue of losing Salvation. As a result, throughout this thread, I have had the burden of proof placed on me to show that there is at least some slight possibility that the First Book of Homilies might (against all odds) actually agree with Latimer’s interpretations of Scripture rather than your own.

I don’t have to.  The Homily at no point says that the Christian who joins with a prostitute by that fact loses his salvation.  It goes no further than Paul does in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17 wherein he points out the incongruity of such an act with the Christian’s profession.

Actually it does go further than Paul does (although I think the Homily is correctly interpreting Paul in doing so). The Homily says that if someone who is a temple of the Spirit and a member of Christ commits this sin they drive out the Holy Spirit and “cease to be incorporated or embodied or made one with Christ.” Could you please point out where in the passage Paul says this (and a gloss of Paul does not count wink )?

You said:

That depends on what the particular speaker means by these phrases, which in turn must be judged by context.  Losing the Holy Spirit is used in a number of different senses in Scripture.

The context in the Homily is that the person who is a temple of the Holy Spirit and a member of Christ drives out the Holy Spirit and CEASES to be incorporated in Christ. I believe it’s clear enough what this means—but I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree as to what this means. 

[Continue]

[126] Posted by William on 7-10-2012 at 10:14 AM · [top]

[Continue]

And when Paul distinguishes between our bodies being a member of Christ or being a member of a prostitute, there is no obvious reason why he is talking about salvation at all, except in the sense I noted above, that most (if not all) warnings against sin in Scripture tend to have a double-barrelled sense to them.

Again, you are taking your interpretation or gloss of Paul and reading it into the Homily. What I’m interested in at this moment is the Homily’s interpretation of Paul—not your gloss of Paul and the Homily (however good it might be). [For what it’s worth—I likewise hold a double-barrelled approach (of impact on true and false believers)—except I must agree with Augustine’s interpretation of the double-barrelled approach rather than yours—namely, that the true believers in Scriptures are not merely (or, “truly”) warned of non-salvific consequences if they do not hold fast to Christ, etc]

Assuming your gloss on the Homily is true (so that the Homily agrees with you rather than Latimer) it sure would have helped dense fellows like myself if it was written more clearly or at least with a few disclaimers (tongue in cheek—I hope I’m not violating my own rule of charity in blogging here):

Christ (who is the truth, and can not lie) said that evil thoughts, breaking of wedlock, whoredom, and fornication defile a man, that is to say, corrupt both the body and soul of man, and make them, of the temples of the Holy Ghost, the filthy dunghill, or dungeon of all unclean spirits, of the house of God, the dwelling place of Satan (Titus 1:15).”
....
Your members (said he) are the temple of the Holy Ghost, which whoever defiles, God will destroy him, as said Saint Paul. If we are the temple of the Holy Ghost, how unfitting then is it to drive that Holy Spirit from us through whoredom, and in his place to set the wicked spirits of uncleanness and fornication, and to be joined, and do service to them? [Note: When it says that the temples of the Holy Spirit who drive out the Holy Spirit and in His place set up wicked spirits and are joined and do service to them—it couldn’t mean that they really drive out the Holy Spirit—because no one is saved unless they have the Spirit within them (Rom 8:9)—that would make the Homily agree with Latimer which is impossible)  grin ]
...
He declares also that our bodies are the members of Christ. How unseemly a thing is it then to cease to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ, and through whoredom to be enjoined and made all one with a whore? What greater dishonor or injury can we do to Christ than to take away from him the members of his body and to join them to whores, devils, and wicked spirits? [Note: When it says that someone ceases to be incorporated or embodied and made one with Christ—there’s no way that it actually means that the person himself ceases to be united to Christ—thankfully, just their body ceases to be united to Christ (as the glosses on Paul and the Homilies in this thread make clear) grin]

Again, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

On the red herring issue:

No, it became one when you asserted that the only church father that teaches perseverance of the saints is Augustine, and that your doctrine (that each time a person commits a “deadly sin” they lose their salvation) is the same as his.


Actually, I would respectfully disagree and say it was when you implied that the doctrine of perseverance as you understood it was a long-standing historic teaching of the Church (Note: it wasn’t—and I know you’ll say that the Scriptures teach it—but that’s assuming your interpretation of them is correct).

Augustine said:

We, then, call men elected, and Christ’s disciples, and God’s children, because they are to be so called whom, being regenerated, we see to live piously; but they are then *truly* what they are called if they shall abide in that on account of which they are so called. But if they have not perseverance,—that is, if they continue not in that which they have begun to be,—they are *not truly* called what they are called and are not [i.e. disciples, God’s children, regenerate]; for they are not this in the sight of Him to whom it is known what they are going to be,—that is to say, from good men, bad men.” [On Rebuke and Grace, Chap 22] [NB asterisks and comment inserted by me]

I agree completely with Augustine (but not with your gloss—that they were never actually “regenerate”). I believe that those who fall away from the saving grace they received in Christ may be said to never be truly known by God or truly called by God (otherwise they would be the elect who persevere to the end). That said, you might want to keep reading on in Rebuke and Grace (or in Augustine’s many other works for that matter). Augustine teaches throughout his writings that some among the reprobate are foreordained to partake temporarily in Salvation with the elect (i.e. they are given the gift of a true faith “that worketh by love” but they are not given the gift of perseverance to the end as the elect are).

Just a couple examples from Rebuke and Grace (although it’s necessary to read through en:

If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, “I have not received,” because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received. - Chapter 9 (which I quoted previously)

Is such an one as is unwilling to be rebuked still able to say, “What have I done,—I who have not received?” when it appears plainly that he has received, and by his own fault has lost that which he has received? “I am able,” says he, “I am altogether able,—when you reprove me for having of my own will relapsed from a good life into a bad one,—still to say, What have I done,—I who have not received? For I have received faith, which works by love, but I have not received perseverance therein to the end. - Chapter 10

It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children—whom He has regenerated in Christ—to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also, when to children of another He forgives such wickedness, and, by the bestowal of His grace, makes them His own children. - Chapter 18

Or they receive the grace of God, but they are only for a season, and do not persevere; they forsake and are forsaken. For by their free will, as they have not received the gift of perseverance, they are sent away by the righteous and hidden judgment of God. - Chapter 42

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1513.htm

As for looking at Scripture—again, I can only repeat what I said in my prior post.

God Bless,
WA Scott

[127] Posted by William on 7-10-2012 at 10:21 AM · [top]

William,

Here we go again.  You have misquoted or misrepresented the plain words of the Homily, Augustine and Scripture yet again.  Some of your assertions amount to little more than an assertion that black is white.

However, there is a more serious issue.  You write:

“As for looking at Scripture—again, I can only repeat what I said in my prior post.”

Okay, let’s look again at what you said, because I suggest it starkly illustrates that where you claim to stand and where you really stand on this issue are two different things:

8. “I appreciate your desire to go directly to Scripture. But there are two reasons I won’t go there at this time. First, I know Scripture will take a lot more time … Second, we’ve had such a difficult time mutually acknowledging what is explicitly said in the Homilies … how much more difficult is it going to be to come to any agreement on the far more nuanced statements of Scripture used by both sides on this issue. In other words, as much as I’d love to and although it is by far the most important thing—it’s not an option for this thread.”

This appears to be a cop-out.  You have posted about 43 times on this thread (at a rough count).  Most of those posts are very long.  Of course you are entitled to do so.

But when you then assert that you don’t want to go directly to Scripture because it will take too much time – that is rather a stretch to believe.  You will always find time to debate some minor point arising from one of Latimer’s sermons, at length, but just can’t ever quite find the time to discuss what Scripture teaches.

You also use the excuse that I won’t acknowledge “what is explicitly said in the Homilies” (and noting that I accuse you of precisely the same thing, but lets put that to one side for the moment), and therefore you do not think that discussion of what Scripture teaches would be helpful.  That again appears to be nothing but a cop-out:  If it really were a problem then we may we as well work through that problem in relation to the authority that matters (Scripture) and not the non-authority that doesn’t matter (Latimer’s sermons or the Homily on Fornication).

I can find any number of liberals in TEC or CofE who will use the same methods to avoid considering the teachings of Scripture.  They will all assure me that they really do respect Scripture, but there is just some reason why they don’t want to do it in this particular case (or, as it so often turns out, in any other case).  If you won’t do it, then you won’t; but why should I give any more credence to your views than to the views of those liberals?

[128] Posted by MichaelA on 7-11-2012 at 01:07 AM · [top]

Hello Michael,

I definitely agree that this thread has run it’s course (I was hoping it would run it’s course at least 30 posts back).

You said:

Here we go again.  You have misquoted or misrepresented the plain words of the Homily, Augustine and Scripture yet again.  Some of your assertions amount to little more than an assertion that black is white.

Sadly, this is exactly how I felt about your posts. The difference is that I assumed that it was simply (or, at least really hoped it was) the result of your honest misreading or misunderstanding, whereas you appear to accuse me of bad faith or dishonesty for not agreeing with your gloss of all these works.

Accusing me of bad faith is a lot easier than acknowledging that you have completely misread Augustine, etc.

I would be glad for anyone to read these multitude of posts for themselves (not that anyone would want to) as well as the links to the original works which I’ve provided and make up their own minds who’s doing the best job of interpreting the works of Latimer, the Homily, Augustine, and Scripture.

This appears to be a cop-out.  You have posted about 43 times on this thread (at a rough count).  Most of those posts are very long.  Of course you are entitled to do so.

But when you then assert that you don’t want to go directly to Scripture because it will take too much time – that is rather a stretch to believe.  You will always find time to debate some minor point arising from one of Latimer’s sermons, at length, but just can’t ever quite find the time to discuss what Scripture teaches.

 
Exactly—writing all those posts (I’m surprised there’s only 43 wink ) has been an extreme waste of time and has been very draining (and I blame myself for getting involved in the first place). As a newly wed husband in between law classes I can’t afford to take another huge amount of time getting involved in another endless round of discussions over our obviously conflicting interpretations of God’s Word especially when I see how difficult of time we have had in coming to any agreement on explicit statements in extra-scriptural writings.

Even though you may not believe it, I do think discussing Scriptures are extremely important in “real life”—but not in an unedifying, uncharitable manner in an endless thread that only you and I are reading. (Seriously, the amount of time this thread has taken has made it difficult for me to take as much time for prayer and reading of God’s Word—but again, it’s my fault for getting involved and continuing to stay involved in this thread).

Any substantial lengthening of this thread is in my mind unedifying for all involved (and I believe definitely a violation of Scriptures commands against wasting time—which I’m afraid I’ve already violated seriously).

Finally, you give the lowest blow—the inevitable likening to liberals wink
Well, I can’t say I deserve any better since I’m just as much a sinner in need of Christ’s alien righteousness (perhaps a lot worse sinner than liberals, since I believe the Bible to be infallible and inerrant—which makes me more culpable for my violations of its commands).

Anyhow, if you’re ever in the Tallahassee, FL area—send me an email (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)). My wife and I would be glad to have you over for dinner.

God Bless,
Your Brother in Christ.

[129] Posted by William on 7-11-2012 at 06:11 AM · [top]

William wrote,

“Accusing me of bad faith is a lot easier than acknowledging that you have completely misread Augustine, etc.”

Precisely the point I am making to you! 

“As a newly wed husband in between law classes I can’t afford to take another huge amount of time getting involved in another endless round of discussions over our obviously conflicting interpretations of God’s Word …”

Hmmm, you found plenty of time for detailed discussion of sermons of Latimer (which are not even formularies or patristic works), but very little time to discuss Scripture!

“…but not in an unedifying, uncharitable manner in an endless thread that only you and I are reading.”

Again, you found plenty of time to discuss the things that you regard as important, over an extended period, despite the nature of the discussion.  Scripture just isn’t one of those things.

As for only the two of us reading, see below.

“Finally, you give the lowest blow—the inevitable likening to liberals”

Not so much a low blow, but a case of the cap fitting.  Liberals do tend to use the same arguments to avoid discussing scripture.  But I agree, only you know where you really stand.  As for “inevitable” – does that mean you have been accused of this before?

***************************
Now, because I know for a fact that other people are reading this thread, I want to re-state an essential point.  I am not going to waste further time with Latimer’s sermons or even the Homily on Fornication.  But Augustine is a theologian of great stature across the church.  He influenced many who came after him, and it is important that his position as set out in the work “Of Rebuke and Grace” not be misunderstood:

1. Augustine does not support the medieval doctrine of “deadly sins”, i.e. that some sins are so bad that a Christian who commits them loses his salvation.

2. However Augustine does teach that “continuing in sin” is incompatible with salvation, i.e. a person who makes a confession of faith and turns to Christ, but then goes back to his sinful ways, will not be saved.  Note that degree of sin is not the issue - one either “continues in sin” or one doesn’t.  But its important to view this in context:

3. As William points out above, there are numerous places in “Rebuke and Grace” where Augustine uses language which (particularly read in isolation) could be interpreted to mean that a Christian who is regenerated and then sins may lose his regeneration, and therefore his salvation.  For example:

“It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children—whom He has regenerated in Christ—to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also, when to children of another He forgives such wickedness, and, by the bestowal of His grace, makes them His own children.” [On Rebuke and Grace, Chapter 18]

4. However such statements must be read in the light of Augustine’s teaching that only God can see who is TRULY regenerate.  A man can appear to be regenerate to our human eyes (because he appears to produce the fruit of regeneration, which is the only way we can judge such things) yet actually not be so.  First, Augustine makes the point that humans can appear to other humans to be disciples of God and to be called of God, without being so:

“Are not these even in the words of the gospel called disciples? And yet they were not truly disciples, because they did not continue in His word, according to what He says: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye indeed my disciples.”  Because, therefore, they possessed not perseverance, as not being truly disciples of Christ, so they were not truly children of God even when they appeared to be so, and were so called.”

Note that last sentence - the issue is not losing salvation.  Rather, the issue is never having had it in the first place (despite appearances).

5. Augustine continues, relating the same principle to regeneration.  One can appear regenerate to other humans, but whereas God sees with 100% clarity who is truly regenerate, we can only judge by external appearances:

“We, then, call men elected, and Christ’s disciples, and God’s children, because they are to be so called whom, being regenerated, we see to live piously; but they are then truly what they are called if they shall abide in that on account of which they are so called. But if they have not perseverance,—that is, if they continue not in that which they have begun to be,—they are not truly called what they are called and are not; for they are not this in the sight of Him to whom it is known what they are going to be,—that is to say, from good men, bad men.”

Note that for Augustine, perseverance is not just something that you do, rather it is a gift from the Lord.

6. In all this Augustine reflects apostolic teaching.  As St John tells us:

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” [1 John 3:9-10]

Note how it works.  If a person is truly born of God, i.e. regenerate, they will persevere in the faith.  If they don’t persevere, its because they weren’t truly born of God in the first place.

6. Christ himself made the same point, that those who truly believe in him are held by him and they will persevere because he holds them:

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. … For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day … No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” [John 6:37-40, 44]

[130] Posted by MichaelA on 7-13-2012 at 05:44 AM · [top]

Hello Michael,

The statements on my unwillingness to engage in another endless, tiresome, and probably uncharitable debate—this time on God’s Word—are incorrect and have been answered thoroughly above. It’s no use for me to debate the same point over and over. As to the continued liberal jabs—wow. All of that said, I will respond to your latest post and the great passages from Scripture that you cited (seriously, I love engaging in Scripture, but I’m still wary of the amount of time it will take on this thread and the uncharitable nature of much of the discussion up to this point).

Precisely the point I am making to you!

 
But I didn’t accuse you of bad faith or dishonesty (well, maybe my comment there implied it—I apologize for that). As for misreading—well we’ll have to see about that wink

Note that last sentence - the issue is not losing salvation. Rather, the issue is never having had it in the first place (despite appearances).

There is a distinguishing by Augustine between those who are truly the elect (who alone are the true eternal children of God, truly called, truly disciples, etc) and those who appear for a time to be one of the elect, but are actually (according to God’s just and Sovereign Will) one of the reprobate children of perdition who only temporarily partake in the Salvation of Christ with the elect*

*(even as the elect may truly partake temporarily in the condemnation of the reprobate outside of Christ—and thus appear for a time to be one of the reprobate although they are actually elect and predestined for eternal life).

Augustine on the temporary “for a season” partaking in grace by some of the reprobate/children of predition (of course, it’s important to anyone following this thread to read this entire work and Augustine’s other works to better understand what I’m talking about).

...some of the children of perdition [i.e. reprobate], who have not received the gift of perseverance to the end, begin to live in the faith which works by love, and live for some time faithfully and righteously, and afterwards fall away, and are not taken away from this life before this happens to them.[Rebuke and Grace Chp 40]


http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1513.htm

There are too many writings of Augustine to go through on this point—needless to say, he teaches throughout his writings that the reprobate may receive the gift of a saving faith (“that worketh by love”) BUT they will not receive the gift of perseverance to the end (which only the elect receive).

1. Augustine does not support the medieval doctrine of “deadly sins”, i.e. that some sins are so bad that a Christian who commits them loses his salvation.


No scholar of Augustine that I know of would say that Augustine denies that Christians may fall into a deadly state of sin and lose Salvation.

On the distinction between sins—Augustine notes (395 AD, Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed):

15. “Forgiveness of sins.” You have [this article of] the Creed perfectly in you when you receive Baptism. Let none say, “I have done this or that sin: perchance that is not forgiven me.” What have you done? How great a sin have you done? Name any heinous thing you have committed, heavy, horrible, which you shudder even to think of: have done what you will: have you killed Christ? There is not than that deed any worse, because also than Christ there is nothing better. What a dreadful thing is it to kill Christ! Yet the Jews killed Him, and many afterwards believed on Him and drank His blood: they are forgiven the sin which they committed. When you have been baptized, hold fast a good life in the commandments of God, that you may guard your Baptism even unto the end. I do not tell you that you will live here without sin; but they are venial, without which this life is not. For the sake of all sins was Baptism provided; for the sake of light sins, without which we cannot be, was prayer provided. What has the Prayer? “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” Once for all we have washing in Baptism, every day we have washing in prayer. Only, do not commit those things for which you must needs be separated from Christ’s body: which be far from you! For those whom you have seen doing penance, have committed heinous things, either adulteries or some enormous crimes: for these they do penance. Because if theirs had been light sins, to blot out these daily prayer would suffice.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1307.htm

I definitely don’t prefer how Augustine discusses this point here. Especially, because he almost appears to say that one must do penance for a period first in order to receive forgiveness of certain sins. That said, Augustine states the matter on forgiveness of these serious sins far more clearly elsewhere where he notes that such sin (as exemplified with David) was immediately forgiven when David first repented (as the assurance of Nathan make clear).

Chapter 56 On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants (Book II)
After the prophet was sent to him [David], and threatened him with the evils which were to arise from the anger of God on account of the sin which he had committed, he obtained pardon by the confession of his sin, and the prophet replied that the shame and crime had been remitted to him

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15012.htm

When it comes to the distinction between deadly and non-deadly sin: I disagree strongly with the formulaic categorizing approach seen in a lot of medieval writings.

I also disagree with the apparent heretical belief of some writers from that era that non-deadly sins are not worthy of eternal damnation. This is totally contrary to Scripture. All sins no matter how small are worthy of eternal damnation.

[Disclaimer—now I’m getting into what I believe the Scriptures teach—unlike the explicit extra-scriptural writings examined earlier in this thread—this is not as straight forward of issue. Anyone reading this thread should know that they have to examine these things for themselves to determine whether what I’m saying fits the Holy Writ and that I’m not expecting anyone to simply assume my interpretation is correct]
The only distinction between a deadly and non-deadly sin (or, state of sin) is who has dominion over us (and thus who are we serving as our Lord)—the devil in our old unregenerate man or the Spirit of Christ through our new regenerate man/nature. I think Luther states this Scriptural truth well:

29. Therefore, saints must, by a vigorous and unceasing warfare, subdue their sinful lusts if they would not lose God’s grace and their faith. Paul says in Romans 8, 13: “If ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” In order, then, to retain the Spirit and the incipient divine life, the Christian must contend against himself.

(I would recommend reading the entire sermon—and Luther’s many other excellent sermons on this point)
http://www.orlutheran.com/html/mlseco31.html

Or, stated another way: Is the new man and living faith (which was begotten and has sprung up from the eternal seed of God’s Word planted in our heart) being merely hindered by the weeds of sin or it being fatally choked by them.

[131] Posted by William on 7-13-2012 at 09:39 PM · [top]

[Apologies—I’m throwing a lot together at one time—so there’s bound to be some errors here or there—hopefully they’re minimal though].

No one who (perfect tense) is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed (present tense) remains in them; they cannot (present tense) go on (present tense) sinning, because they (perfect tense) have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not (present tense) do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not (present tense) love their brother and sister.” [1 John 3:9-10]

Both “is born of God and “have been born of God” are in the pefect tense in the Greek—which generally means an action in the past which continues in its effect to the present. The word “continue to sin” and “cannot go on sinning” are in present tense in the Greek—which usually means a continuing action. In other words, those who have been born of God and have the effect of this rebirth continuing into the present have God’s Seed continuing to remain (or, abide) in them and thus they will not continue in sin. If someone is continuing in sin it doesn’t prove that they’ve never been born of God, but it is a sure sign that their rebirth no longer has continuing effect in them and thus they no longer have the life of God’s Seed bearing it’s fruit within them.

In other words, this person is like the Weedy Ground that has new life begotten in it through the Eternal Word/Seed of God but this new life is ultimately choked by the weeds of sin. Therefore, in this case begetting of new life through God’s Word in the past no longer has continuing effect into the present (and thus, the person has reverted back to being a child of the devil—doing the works of your father Satan—John 8). 

Again, those who have God’s Seed living and abiding will be unable to continue in sin. They will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit that the Seed of God inevitably brings forth—i.e. they are good trees which bring forth good fruit. On the other hand, if one is hating (spiritually murdering) his brothers and sisters he is a child of the devil who is doing the works of his father, and is a bad tree which is bringing forth bad fruit. Thus, when David committed adultery and murder he was a bad tree bringing forth bad fruit (as Christ says in Matthew 6, a good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit), and he was at that time a child of the wicked one doing the works of his father the devil (the new life begotten through the Word of God in David and a living faith which always bear good fruit were at that time choked by the weeds of sin—and the old man had taken dominion).

God in His entirely unmerited mercy restored David to spiritual life and forgave his sin . So, although David had given himself over to his old unregenerate nature (born of the devil) for a time—he had not fallen utterly as warned about in Hebrews 6 (from which falling away it’s impossible to be restored). Therefore, the Holy Spirit was clearly not removed utterly from David (and he pleads with the Lord in Psalm 51 to keep from the real (not imaginary) danger of having the Holy Spirit taken away (as we likewise petition God whenever we pray or sing Psalm 51)).

Luther addresses this passage from 1 John 3:19 succinctly and well (Smalcald Articles):
It is, accordingly, necessary to know and to teach that when holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them [they cast out faith and the Holy Ghost]. For the Holy Ghost does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] not present. For St. John says, 1 John 3:9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, ... and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the truth when the same St. John says, 1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
http://bookofconcord.org/smalcald.php

i.e. The passage is saying that sin cannot be dominating us if we have the Holy Spirit and thus true faith savingly within us (so that we are “born of God with continuing effect into the present” according to the perfect participle)

Some helpful greek tenses added to the quotation from John:

“All those the Father gives me (future) will come to me, and whoever (present tense) comes to me I will never (aorist—singular) drive away. … For my Father’s will is that everyone who (present participle) looks to the Son and (present tense—continues) believes in him (future) shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day … No one (present tense) can (aorist) come to me unless the Father who sent me (aorist) draws them, and I (future) will raise them up at the last day.” [John 6:37-40, 44]

The future tense—all those Whom the Father has given Christ shall undoubtedly come to Him. The present tense in Greek when our Lord says “looks,” “believes,” “comes,” “can (continues being strong)”—generally means a continuous or repetitive action. Thus, no one who continues looking, continues believing, and continues coming to Christ (i.e. the elect Good Ground) will fail to see eternal glory. Further, as Christ invites all those who are weary and heavy laden to come to Him so that He may give them rest—He will certainly never “drive away” one who is coming to Him
Christ is not promising that just because someone has at one point believed and come to Him that they will necessarily persevere to the end. Of course, it is only through the Father’s definitive* act of drawing (like water being drawn from a well—as any predestinarian monergists like Luther and Augustine could affirm) that causes a person to believe initially (gift of faith—like the reprobate Weedy Ground and elect Good Ground) and to continue to believe (gift of perseverance—-only elect Good Ground) in Christ.

*[Aorist tends to mean a singular action (although it depends on the context).]

Further the many wonderful passages which provide comforting words of real assurance must always be taken in light of other perhaps less comforting passages. Christ said that no one that gives a cup of water in His Name shall lose their reward. But He also said that anyone Who denied Him would be denied before the Father. Clearly the promise of not losing the reward did not mean that the person that had truly offered a cup of water in His Name could go on to deny Christ (in word of deed) without fear of eternal consequences. Rather, the promises in these two passages are to be understood in light of one another.

Well, I better cut this tome off here.

God Bless,
WA Scott

p.s. As was noted in post [18]—None of this destroys assurance of Salvation—it actually can strengthen a true assurance by helping us to not question when we fall as to whether we were actually saved in the first place (which can sometimes be a real problem in when the Scriptural teaching of real apostasy from grace is denied). Scripture commands us to come to a firm and full assurance of our election in Christ (“make your calling and election sure” 2 Peter)—to live in a constant state of uncertainty/lack of assurance as to our election (and thus our final destination) is to live in disobedience to God’s Word.

[132] Posted by William on 7-13-2012 at 09:47 PM · [top]

Correction: Changing “perfect participle” to “perfect tense” (only one of the two instances where a perfect tense is used in 1 John 3:9 is a perfect participle):

(so that we are “born of God with continuing effect into the present” according to the perfect *tense*)

Because of other responsibilities—I may not have time to post anymore for a little bit—bit I’ll certainly try to catch up when I can. Have a good night and God Bless.

[133] Posted by William on 7-13-2012 at 10:02 PM · [top]

William,

You are attempting to build an argument on the conjugation of Greek verbs, their tenses and moods.  It appears to me that most of the times where you allocate a particular tense or mood to a Greek verb, it is incorrect.

Let me be clear, this is not a matter of exegetical opinion, but a matter of technical grammar. I don’t claim to be the world’s greatest Greek scholar, so I am very happy to be corrected.  But please have a look at what I have written below, and tell me what you think.  There is absolutely no point in discussing your conclusions drawn from Greek conjugation if you haven’t correctly conjugated the verbs in the first place:

“All those the Father gives me (future) will come to me, and whoever (present tense) comes to me I will never (aorist—singular) drive away. …”

Erchomenon (comes) is a present participle, not present tense; and ekbalw (drive away) is a present tense, not an aorist.

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who (present participle) looks to the Son and (present tense—continues) believes in him (future) shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day …”

Pisteuwn (believes) is a present participle, not a present tense; and eche (with final eta) (have) is in the subjunctive rather than a future tense.

“No one (present tense) can (aorist) come to me unless the Father who sent me (aorist) draws them, and I (future) will raise them up at the last day.” [John 6:37-40, 44]

You can’t break up an expression like “can come” in that way.  But in any case, surely elthein (come) is an infinitive, not an aorist?  And helkuse (again, with a final eta) “draw” is subjunctive, not an aorist?

Tell me what you think about the above, and we can discuss the rest of your post after that.

[134] Posted by MichaelA on 7-14-2012 at 12:30 AM · [top]

Hey Michael and thanks for the comment. 

Erchomenon (comes) is a present participle, not present tense; and ekbalw (drive away) is a present tense, not an aorist.

As to Erchomenon (comes)—when I say “present tense” I am using it exclusively in reference to the tense (i.e. whether it is—present, future, etc) without reference to the word the word is a participle or merely present indicative.

I was going to distinguish participles but I thought I had already written too much. I wish I had because the way I did it was confusing. Further, there can be important distinctions between the present participle (which generally implies a continuing action) and the present indicative (which tends to be far more conditioned by the context as to whether it is continuous versus punctilinear).

As to ekbalw (drive away) the tense is aorist, not present according to the interlinear text:  http://www.studylight.org/isb/bible.cgi?query=john+6&section=0&it=kjv&oq=1jo 3:9&ot=bhs&nt=na&new=1&nb=1jo&ng=3&ncc=3

Erchomenon (comes) is a present participle, not present tense;

See my comment above.

and ekbalw (drive away) is a present tense, not an aorist.

According to the interlinear text it is aorist (see link above)

You can’t break up an expression like “can come” in that way.  But in any case, surely elthein (come) is an infinitive, not an aorist?  And helkuse (again, with a final eta) “draw” is subjunctive, not an aorist?

According to the interlinear text elthein (come) and helkuse (draw) are aorist (see link above). “Draw” is aorist (tense) and subjunctive (mood). Again, I was seeking to focus in on tense in the prior post.

All of this said, my primary point in the previous post was not to say that looking at the Greek for the two passages from Scripture that you cited demanded the interpretation of Luther (versus your interpretation). Rather, it was to say that these two passages do not require your interpretation (although I certainly don’t think that these two passages forbid your interpretation either). 

Finally, I’m not a Greek scholar and there are God-fearing, Bible believing Greek Scholars that come down on either side of this issue. So, I’ve been figuring from the start that (unfortunately) we won’t convince one another in this thread based on our use of the underlying Greek, etc (although I love doing this kind of stuff—sometimes too much I’m afraid).

God bless,
WA Scott

p.s. I’ll probably be away for a while

[135] Posted by William on 7-14-2012 at 12:48 PM · [top]

“I was going to distinguish participles but I thought I had already written too much.”

But you did distinguish participles. That’s why I brought it up.  You distinguished them twice in #132; and then in post #133 you specifically corrected one of your earlier comments from a perfect participle to a perfect, and you explained how that affected your argument. 

“As to Erchomenon (comes)—when I say “present tense” I am using it exclusively in reference to the tense (i.e. whether it is—present, future, etc) without reference to the word the word is a participle or merely present indicative.”

No, see above.  You did distinguish between participle and indicative in other places.  I don’t have a problem with people getting things wrong, particularly at this level, but I do have a problem when they don’t just admit their mistake and re-think any construction based on it.

In any case, for the type of argument you are trying to make you cannot ignore participles, nor can you ignore aspects, moods or voices.  A present indicative does not always carry the same implications as a present participle about whether an activity is finished or not, for instance.

“According to the interlinear text [ekbalw] is aorist (see link above)”

And guess what, I made a mistake – although it has the same form as the present, it is actually a subjunctive, which is far more important for your argument than whether it is an aorist.

“Again, I was seeking to focus in on tense in the prior post.”

See my comment above about using just tense for this sort of argument. 

“Finally, I’m not a Greek scholar and there are God-fearing, Bible believing Greek Scholars that come down on either side of this issue.”

If you haven’t ever learned Greek then you should have said so from the start and prefaced your comments with something like this: “I understand that those who know Greek put this argument…”.

“So, I’ve been figuring from the start that (unfortunately) we won’t convince one another in this thread based on our use of the underlying Greek, etc (although I love doing this kind of stuff—sometimes too much I’m afraid).”

I asked you to debate Scripture.  I didn’t say you had to debate the Greek.  You chose to do that, and in a way calculated to give others the impression that you had facility in Greek, and that therefore anyone who did not know Greek would not be able to argue with you.

Also, by going straight to the Greek, you gave the impression that you weren’t confident that your argument would hold up in English.

Further it appears that you followed this methodology: (i) decided the conclusion you wished to arrive at; (ii) went to the interlinear bible and grabbed the grammatical constructions that appeared to assist you; and then (iii) wrote it down in a logical process.

I have found over the years that about 95% of the time, Scriptural issues can be resolved by following this method:  read each relevant part of scripture (in English) and in the context of the whole of scripture (in English).  Sometimes original languages and commentaries will assist and its good to refer to them, but in the end, God left us a Word that can speak to even the simplest ploughboy* with not a word of Greek.

[*An analogy used by the pre-Reformation protestants (Lollards) for those with no Latin or Greek.  In this politically correct age, I apologise in advance to any real ploughboys who may be offended by this comment!]

[136] Posted by MichaelA on 7-14-2012 at 10:59 PM · [top]

Hello Michael—I really don’t have time at this moment to respond, but the nature of your comments have elicited this response from me.

But you did distinguish participles. That’s why I brought it up.  You distinguished them twice in #132; and then in post #133 you specifically corrected one of your earlier comments from a perfect participle to a perfect, and you explained how that affected your argument.

 
This is incorrect. I had started off distinguishing participle and non-participle and I thought my discussion was getting too bogged down and too extended, so I went back and sought to just simply all my references to the tense.

However, in editing post 132 I missed a couple of spots (one I caught and realized it was actually incorrect—since it implied that both references to “born of God” were perfect participle)—and I missed the other one (until you pointed out). Anyhow, as I said in my above post—I wished that I had kept the distinguishing of present participle and present indicative—rather than just looking at tense. Again, I apologize for the confusion. 

And guess what, I made a mistake – although it has the same form as the present, it is actually a subjunctive, which is far more important for your argument than whether it is an aorist.

While the subjunctive mood doesn’t change the point I made it is a cool point to raise.

If you haven’t ever learned Greek then you should have said so from the start and prefaced your comments with something like this: “I understand that those who know Greek put this argument…”

I agree Michael. I wasn’t thinking about that—I should have mentioned that I was no Greek Scholar first thing in post [132].

That said, I virtually always look at the underlying Greek in my study of the N.T. Scripture (including many times on the two passages you cited)—so it was natural for me to do it here—especially where I don’t feel (from my previous studies of these passages) that the English is able to give full justice to the underlying Greek text. (Further, the Bible that I’m using in this discussion and which I have used for years is a Hebrew/Greek Study Bible. I also regularly use interlinear texts in my study of the Bible).

I asked you to debate Scripture.  I didn’t say you had to debate the Greek.  You chose to do that, and in a way calculated to give others the impression that you had facility in Greek, and that therefore anyone who did not know Greek would not be able to argue with you.

Also, by going straight to the Greek, you gave the impression that you weren’t confident that your argument would hold up in English.

Further it appears that you followed this methodology: (i) decided the conclusion you wished to arrive at; (ii) went to the interlinear bible and grabbed the grammatical constructions that appeared to assist you; and then (iii) wrote it down in a logical process.

[*An analogy used by the pre-Reformation protestants (Lollards) for those with no Latin or Greek.  In this politically correct age, I apologise in advance to any real ploughboys who may be offended by this comment!]

Wow…I can’t believe I’m having to respond to stuff like this (I thought I was going to be discussing the Church fathers and Scripture—instead I’m having to defend myself from completely unwarranted attacks on my character).

Seriously Michael, stop pretending to have the ability to read my motives (it’s amazing how I always seem to have evil motives intent on deceiving the poor people following this thread). What you’re saying here is completely untrue and you’re defaming a brother Christ without cause.

As I noted above—I regularly consult the underlying Greek text when I study the N.T. Scripture—and I frequently raise it in discussions where I think the English cannot give full justice to the underlying text. I honestly was seeking to dig down into the text (which I love to do and regularly do in my own personal study). My looking at the Greek was certainly not to deceive, manipulate, etc as you accuse me falsely of here. 

All that said, God Bless on this Lord’s Day.
Still your brother in Christ-WA Scott

[137] Posted by William on 7-15-2012 at 07:51 AM · [top]

Correction
**I wished that I had kept the distinguishing of present participle and present indicative**

Should be: **I wished that I had left the distinguishing of participle, indicative, etc**


Also I see a comment I missed:

In any case, for the type of argument you are trying to make you cannot ignore participles, nor can you ignore aspects, moods or voices.  A present indicative does not always carry the same implications as a present participle about whether an activity is finished or not, for instance.

Good point, I agree that in trying to throw together the massive tome that is post [131] and [132] I ended up leaving out way too much Greek-wise (and actually weakening my own arguments from the Greek in the process). I stated this same point on distinction between present participle and present indicative in post [134]—hence, my wish in post [134] that I had not so abridged my discussion of the underlying Greek in post [132].

God Bless and have a great Lord’s day.
WA Scott

[138] Posted by William on 7-15-2012 at 08:26 AM · [top]

Another Correction: Every time I said “post [134]” in my prior posts I meant post [135].

Also, I just looked briefly back at what I wrote in post [132] and I feel like there’s too much emphasis in my post (esp. in the John 6 passage) on the frequently continuous or linear nature of the present tense (in particular the present participle—since the present indicative as noted in post [135] is less likely to indicate the linear action).

I think the linear nature of the actions indicated by the use of the present tense (and the present participle in particular) in the cited passage from John 6 does not in isolation require the long term action in the definite seeming manner as it comes across in post [132]. [Further, my over emphasis on the often linear nature of the present tense in post [132] makes a point which seems inconsistent with my reference to the non-linear state of being a good tree or bad tree when the good tree/bad tree passages in Matthew and Luke also use present tense—including present participle].

That said, although it’s helpful to look at the underlying Greek in both the passage from 1 John 3 and the passage from John 6 my main concern (as far as the difficulty of English capturing the full meaning of the Greek) is with the use of the perfect tenses (perfect passive participle and perfect indicative passive) in relation to the two times “born of God” is used in 1 John 3:9.

In English it tends to come across as merely a past action (thus appearing to support a view of the “indefectibility” of grace that is received)—whereas in the Greek the emphasis is on it being a past action with continuing effects into the present (i.e. those who were born of God with continuing effect into the present). 

Although I’m familiar with this point from my prior studies of the Greek text in 1 John—I thought the following link that I came across on Google discusses the point well:
http://www.truthmagazine.com/1-john-39-a-point-often-overlooked

Concerning 1 John 3:9, Vincent says, “The perfect participle indicates a condition remaining from the first: he who hath been begotten and remains God’s child.” The famous B.F. Wescott comments, “The perfect . . . marks not only the single act . . . but the continuous presence of its efficacy. ‘He that hath been born and still remains a child of God.”‘ John is not talking about everyone who was ever born again. Completely out of his view is the one who was born again, but later rebelled against God; such a person is not one who “is born of God.” John is talking only about the one who continues to let the seed work in him. This is the one who does not habitually sin.

(I would encourage people to read the entire article) 

Interesting point: there is an apparent distinction between the linked article’s interpretation* of the 1 John 3:9 and Luther’s interpretation of the passage. (This is indicated from the apparent approval by the article of Machen’s understanding that the “perfect tense” always requires a permanent result—which would seem to contradict the non-permanent result expressed by Luther).

However, both the article and Luther hold the position that 1 John 3:9 does not require indefectibility of saving grace. I consider that both the article and Luther’s interpretation of the particular passage have strengths.

Finally, as was noted in post [135], I don’t believe that the cited passages from John 6 or 1 John 3 taken in isolation can be relied on to require either a belief in the “defectibility” or “indefectibility” of saving grace

I’ll probably spot other mistakes—but hopefully they will only be minor.

God Bless,
WA Scott

[139] Posted by William on 7-15-2012 at 03:04 PM · [top]

William,

I note your various attempts to cast what you wrote in a particular light – let’s agree to disagree on that.

More to the point, we are still left with the fundamental problem:  None of your argument carries any weight.  I have been reading the New Testament in Greek ever since studying Greek at Uni 30 years ago, and your argument based on tenses is full of contradictions and misunderstandings.  Its difficult even to know where to start on a critique of it.

John’s words are plain, in both Greek and English: 

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” [1 John 3:9-10]

Those who are truly born of God will not fall into continuing sin, only those who appear to be born of God will do so.

In the same way, Jesus makes clear that those who truly come to him will not fall from him:

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. … For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day … No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” [John 6:37-40, 44]

And:

“Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one” [John 10:25-30]

[140] Posted by MichaelA on 7-15-2012 at 08:17 PM · [top]

p.s. One quick addition (wow 4 posts in a row—I’ve taken too much time between services this Lord’s Day).

In post [138] I noted that the linked article approvingly cited Machen (who wouldn’t grin ). The reference to Machen is as follows:

Machen states, “The Greek perfect tense denotes the present state resultant upon a past action” (New Testament Greek for Beginners, p. 187). Machen goes on to say that the perfect tense is never used unless the past action had a permanent result.


http://www.truthmagazine.com/1-john-39-a-point-often-overlooked

I don’t have Machen’s book before me at the moment. However, while the perfect tense certainly “denotes the present state resultant upon a past action” it cannot be said that the perfect tense is only used when the past action had a permanent result (at least in the way we would normally think of “permanent result”).

For instance: Clearly the completed action on the Wayside of having the Word “sown” (perfect passive participle) in the heart was only in effect until Satan came and snatched it away:
Mark 4:15 “And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown[perfect passive participle] in their hearts.”
[Note: this verse has nothing to do with losing Salvation since the Word was taken away before it begat new life in the individual—but it does illustrate (as noted above) that the perfect tense does not always require any absolute “permanency” in the effect of the past action]

Of course, there are other examples in the NT

Anyhow, I’ll certainly give Machen (who I really respect and who far surpasses my elementary knowledge) the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was not saying anything contrary to the above (and only using “permanent” in a limited sense—namely, in reference to a past action with continuing effect into the present). 

Blessings in Christ and have a great week,
WA Scott

[141] Posted by William on 7-15-2012 at 09:41 PM · [top]

Hello Michael, I didn’t see your post when I posted [141]. I’ve got to head off for the moment—but I’ll look forward to responding to your post as soon as I get the chance (hopefully within the next day or so).

God bless,
WA Scott

[142] Posted by William on 7-15-2012 at 10:12 PM · [top]

Hello Michael,

You said:

More to the point, we are still left with the fundamental problem:  None of your argument carries any weight.  I have been reading the New Testament in Greek ever since studying Greek at Uni 30 years ago, and your argument based on tenses is full of contradictions and misunderstandings.  Its difficult even to know where to start on a critique of it.

This is a well deserved critique of my sloppy Greek analysis in post [132] (and I’m ashamed of the confusing and careless job I did on the Greek in that post). You have some formal training and many more years of experience in Greek than I do so it would be good to get your critiques on my Greek.

Greek has a lot of complexities (although it’s not as bad as Hebrew) and it was foolish of me to try to quickly throw together an argument from the Greek as I did. [I think I let my interest in looking into the Greek text (combined with a little rustiness from comparative lack of in depth study in the underlying Greek of these and other texts during the past two years of law school and a desire to get the post finished up too quickly) get the best of me.]

All of that said, I’ve already gutted (in posts [135] through [141]) a good portion of the Greek analysis in post [132] (in particular, the overemphasis on linearity in the present participles, etc). As a result, the only point of substance that I really have left is the use of the perfect tense in 1 John 3:9 [which is actually the primary thing I cared about in the first place—and something that, despite my lack of formal training in Greek, has stood out to me for years—and is something that actual Greek scholars (unlike myself) have also noted.]

Going now to the Scripture passages—You said:

John’s words are plain, in both Greek and English: 
“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” [1 John 3:9-10]
Those who are truly born of God will not fall into continuing sin, only those who appear to be born of God will do so.


The perfect tense in this verse (noted in my previous posts) in relation to the statement “born of God” is an important issue as recognized by famous Greek scholars such as Vincent who said on the use of the perfect participle in 1 John 3:9: “Rev., begotten. The perfect participle indicates a condition remaining from the first: he who hath been begotten and remains God’s child.” http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/cmt/vws/jo1003.htm

Regardless of what one thinks on the perfect tense issue—I believe there are two primary ways that this passage can be properly interpreted:
1. “Born of God”/ “children of God” is in reference to the Elect Good Ground in whom alone the Seed of God remains to the end [As Augustine notes in Chapter 22 of Rebuke and Grace, these alone are truly the children of God (that is fully, eternally, and according to God’s Soverign, unconditional, and unchangeable election). All others (eg reprobate Weedy Ground, etc) are therefore the children of the devil who will ultimately continue and die in sin (even if they temporarily partake with the elect in the new life begotten by the Seed of God)].

2. “Born of God”/”children of God” is referring to anyone who presently has the Seed of God abiding in him [e.g. whether the Elect Good Ground (who will never have the life of the Seed permanently extinguished in them) or the Reprobate Weedy Ground (which may currently have new life begotten in them by the Seed of God although they will later be choked by the weeds of sin).]
Arguably, both views may be held simultaneously—inasmuch as “1.” represents the ultimate fulfillment/application of this inerrant truth and “2.” represents a more immediate and temporal application of this inerrant truth.

[Of course, as stated previously—I believe teaching of Augustine is correct in noting that the reprobate Vessels of Wrath may temporarily partake in the Salvation which belongs eternally to the elect in Christ even as the elect Vessels of Mercy may temporarily share in the Condemnation that belongs eternally to the reprobate Vessesl of Wrath (eg the Elect Vessels of Mercy are under the condemnation of reprobate prior to coming to faith in Christ).]

[143] Posted by William on 7-17-2012 at 10:25 PM · [top]

You said:

In the same way, Jesus makes clear that those who truly come to him will not fall from him: [Quoted John 6:37-40, 44 ]

In addition to what I already said on this passage in post [132] (again, please ignore my overemphasis on the linearity of the present tense in that post) I agree with the true fulfillment of Christ’s promise in John 6:37-39 in the elect as described by Augustine in Rebuke and Grace Chapter 23:

For this reason the apostle, when he had said, We know that to those who love God He works all things together for good,— knowing that some love God, and do not continue in that good way unto the end—immediately added, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28…
Whosoever, therefore, in God’s most providential ordering, are foreknown, predestinated, called, justified, glorified—I say not, even although not yet born again, but even although not yet born at all, are already children of God, and absolutely cannot perish. These truly come to Christ, because they come in such wise as He Himself says, All that the Father gives me shall come to me, and him that comes to me I will not cast out; John 6:37 and a little after He says, This is the will of the Father who has sent me, that of all that He has given me I shall lose nothing. John 6:39 From Him, therefore, is given also perseverance in good even to the end; for it is not given save to those who shall not perish, since they who do not persevere shall perish.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1513.htm

The true fulfillment of this promise is found in the Elect Good Ground who will have the resurrection of the just—whom the Father has given Christ and of Whom none will be lost. Although there may be many Reprobate whom (as Augustine notes—see earlier posts) partake temporarily with the Elect in this faith (having the Seed of God and thus the Eternal life of Christ and His Spirit dwelling within them for a time), they never partake in the inevitable end of faith (the resurrection of the just). [Just as there are many elect who share for a time with the reprobate in unbelief (and thus in the condemnation thereof) but will never partake in the inevitable end of that unbelief.]

——

Finally, you provided a quote from the great promise of Christ in John 10:25-30.

Again, Christ’s promises in John 10:25-30 (just like the parallel promises of Romans 8:28-39) are especially directed to and find their fulfillment in the unconditionally elected Vessels of Mercy/Good Ground as Augustine says in his Tractate on the Gospel of John:

And they shall never perish: you may hear the undertone, as if He had said to them, You shall perish for ever, because you are not of my sheep. No one shall pluck them out of my hand. Give still greater heed to this: That which my Father gave me is greater than all. What can the wolf do? What can the thief and the robber? They destroy none but those predestined to destruction. But of those sheep of which the apostle says, The Lord knows them that are His; 2 Timothy 2:19 and Whom He did foreknow, them He also did predestinate; and whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified; Romans 8:29-30 — there is none of such sheep as these that the wolf seizes, or the thief steals, or the robber slays. He, who knows what He gave for them, is sure of their number

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701048.htm

And as Luther notes regarding the completely Sovereign and “sola gracia” nature of our Salvation as shown in this passage in Bondage of the Will (it shows that our salvation is never wrought through the power of our will—but entirely through the sovereign will and power and grace of God working in us “both to will and do His good pleasure”):

But now, since God has put my salvation out of the way of my will, and has taken it under His own, and has promised to save me, not according to my working or manner of life, but according to His own grace and mercy, I rest fully assured and persuaded that He is faithful, and will not lie, and moreover great and powerful, so that no devils, no adversities can destroy Him, or pluck me out of His hand. “No one (saith He) shall pluck them out of My hand, because My Father which gave them Me is greater than all.” (John x. 27-28). Hence it is certain, that in this way, if all are not saved, yet some, yea, many shall be saved; whereas by the power of “Free-will,” no one whatever could be saved, but all must perish together. And moreover, we are certain and persuaded, that in this way, we please God, not from the merit of our own works, but from the favour of His mercy promised unto us; and that, if we work less, or work badly, He does not impute it unto us, but, as a Father, pardons us and makes us better.—This is the glorying which all the saints have in their God!

http://www.truecovenanter.com/truelutheran/luther_bow.html

I believe the tension of Augustine’s position is the tension of Scripture itself [which I believe requires affirming the absolute sovereignty of God and the certainty of perseverance (through the sovereignly bestowed gift of perseverance in all the elect) promised in Scripture while also affirming the reality of the Scriptural warnings to believers of falling from grace (ultimately fulfilled on the reprobate)] 

Anyhow, there are many other awesome truths in these passages that I want to go over—especially, John 10:25-30 (and parallel passages of assurance like Romans 8:28-39) but I’ll have to cut this post short for the time being.

God Bless,
WA Scott

p.s. I won’t have time to write any real posts until next week (at the earliest).

[144] Posted by William on 7-17-2012 at 10:29 PM · [top]

I agree that “Rome’s continued rejection of the biblical Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone” is the main (but not the only) reason I would not become a Roman Catholic, I think that it is important that we understand the differences between Roman Catholic beliefs and the beliefs common to Protestants and most Christian Churches. Even though we want to play nice there are important differences that should not be ignored.
I would hate to find myself a member of a church which placed the authority of the church with an infallible Pope rather than the Bible, nor would I want to accept the Roman doctrine of Purgatory as opposed to belief in the saving grace of Jesus Christ simply because I chose to remain ignorant of these and other differences.

[145] Posted by Betty See on 7-31-2013 at 09:13 AM · [top]

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