Father Son Correspondence

 I am the Catholic in the family, everyone else is a protestant, so this happens fairly regularly. Perhaps one of the Catholic priests that follow me can correct any theological mistakes I made because God knows, I hardly knew what I was talking about. Not edited for likely grammar and occasional spelling errors.

From: Dad To: Me

Subject: Sermon notes

From: me To: Dad
RE: Sermon notes

For a very detailed look: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08573a.htmBut it seems in a large degree accurate. I am not terribly familiar with the issue off hand, but I know our fundamental position on salvation is that faith and works are largely the same thing and that if there is faith there will be works.

This conflict may be reduced to four differences of teaching. By a justifying faith the Church understands qualitatively the theoretical faith in the truths of Revelation, and demands over and above this faith other acts of preparation for justification. Protestantism, on the other hand, reduces the process of justification to merely a fiduciary faith; and maintains that this faith, exclusive even of goodworks, is all-sufficient for justification, laying great stress upon the scriptural statement sola fides justificat. The Church teaches that justification consists of an actual obliteration of sin and an interior sanctification. Protestantism, on the other hand, makes of the forgiveness of sin merely a concealment of it, so to speak; and of the sanctification a forensic declaration of justification, or an external imputation of the justice of Christ. In the presentation of the process of justification, we will everywhere note this fourfold confessional conflict. -via Catholic Encyclopedia

I think the basic distinction between the Catholicism and everything else is that in our reconciliation of James (You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone…faith without works is dead…… ) and Romans (Therefore, since we have been justified through faith…) we say that faith is a continuing action and state of desire or being; whereas protestants tend to treat it as a statement and moment in time.

From: Dad

RE: Sermon notes
Glad you looked at it a bit more.  I read your initial link as well as this.  I think you should try some protestant sources for a complete view. Justification is not the same as redemption or salvation and I think the catholic view has lumped them all up a bit where the protestant view has been more particular about defining them and not without good bible study, greek, hebrew OT, hebrew culture ( how Peter would have thought about it), and all.  As a propitiation, Christ would not just be concealing sin, but cleansing it and removing it, forever; we have real guilt and he was our actual substitute fully satisfying the requirements of justice over human (our) sins.  Beginning in Heb 10:12 we read “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God… by one offering He has perfected (past tense) forever those who are being sanctified (ongoing)…. Therefore bretheren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way which He consecrated for us….let us draw near with true hearts in full assurance of faith. (faith in what he has done )
Martin Llyod-Jones of Westminister in London preached and wrote about propitiation (from a protestant view) exhaustively and it does not sound like what the catholic encylopedia says.  But there are many flavors of protestantisim, granted.  I think you had it right when you said that if there is faith there are works (corresponding as evidence).  But faith and works are not the same; works, even faith generated ones,  can not add to the magnificent, finished, complete, sufficient work of Christ in justifying.  That is done.  Or how could he have risen? Sanctification of the believer: another story.
Love, Dad
From: me To: dad
Subject: RE: Sermon notes

Justification to my knowledge is not how we were saved (It is by grace you have been saved) but rather the transformation of the inner man from a state of sin to a state of grace. The question is not whether it is Christ’s death that saves us, but how we come to take part in, or more specifically prepare ourselves for, that grace.   To expand that earlier quote we know that “It is by grace we have been saved, through faith, not of works lest any man should boast.” In this statement it is the “through” that constitutes what we call justification. Grace is the unmerited gift of God that effects our salvation. “Through faith” is justification, that is how we come to partake of that grace. In that same verse, the Church holds that the last portion (Not of works…) is intended only to show that it is not of our own own merits that we are saved, nor even of our own merits that we fully come to take part in sanctifying grace… In light of the entirety of scripture however, it cannot be held to mean that faith as a singular confession of belief in point at time is sufficient for justification. As the below demonstrates, works are not sufficient for justification, but they are necessary for it:  John 14:23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will  love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Mt 25:34-36 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by  my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the  world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me  drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you  cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’  John 3:36He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

Mt 12:50

For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and  mother.

James 2:24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Mt 16:27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then  he will repay everyone according to his conduct.

Phil 2:12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Note that in the last verse we see that our salvation is refered in a definitively present tense. As something that is on going and you will also note that the summary offered by Grace Bible Church clearly states that the Catholic Church is the only system that holds our justification to be a present process, and thus the only one in accord with not only that last scripture, but all the preceeding ones as well.

Arminism does not make much sense in it’s distincion; some obscene bickering over vocabulary it seems since it with the Catholic church holds that salvation can be lost because you have no works. I don’t see a substantial difference other. In both systems, a sincere deathbed confession will save, and in both you are saved so long as you remain within the faith.

Calvinism is self contradictory: alternatively holding that you can be assured of your salvation, but that you can be self-decieved about your own salvation. That you are saved when sincere, but you don’t even know if you are sincere since at some future point you might prove to not be sincere. Similarly, their statement that those who do sincerely hold the faith cannot fall away from it despite their actions, is clearly opposed to verses that state that doing in the will of God is a necessary part of faith. There are multiple other problems with Calvinism, especially predestination.

Free Grace fails in that it totally ignores Mt. 25, John 3 and John 14. Christ’s love is not here predicated on belief alone, but on action. Some translations of John 14 read “he who believes (faith) and obeys my teaching” and John 3 clearly states that belief is not all there is to the equation.

There are mutliple other verses that I have snippets of floating around in my head, but I cannot recall the location. I will look for them later, but suffice to say that the above list of verses on the role of works is not comprehensive.

If you have another view of justification you know of, I can look at it. But yes, protestantism is myriad and this is the single most frustrating thing about debating a protestant. No one is really a Calvinist or a Lutheran or anything. They all shop around a cherry pick, not realizing of course that this often leads to logically inconsistent frameworks of belief.

Note too that all of the above frameworks involve at least one work, the confession of Christ as savior. That is a positive action, a definitive work. We all must cooperate with Christ’s will in at least that much, we all must believe. And a proper framework will recognize this fact, or like Calvinism skirt it by arguing that some are predestined to be saved and other predestined to not be saved.

Love,

Micah

From: Dad To: Me

RE: Sermon notes
Very good Micah.  Great verses.  I like what you have said about grace and human response.  I read that the Council of Trent established that salvation operationally includes justification and sanctification.  If I have a point of discussion, you have to step away from that a moment to see it because understandably these terms and the initial article speak to you about a process in the believers life…  But what exactly was accomplished at the moment of Easter morning?  Graves burst open, the enemy was defeated; the grave could not hold him, not merely because he was the perfect son of God but neither could it restrain him as the son of man, the propitiation for all mankind, those yet unborn who would live and be sanctified or even his own apostles who would live beyond that moment and be sanctified and saved.  The something that was accomplished at that moment deserves some term.   I thought in some system it was called justification, a “not guilty” verdict, unappreciated by those who will not believe it and follow the jailer out of jail. (Armenian?) but also sufficient for the whole world.  Yet it would not be the “how” we are saved, the process you discuss, but something else and something wonderful.  Does the catholic view stop at that point to label and admire what we have at this point?  Salvation, although established at calvary, is past, present, and future because it is in Him who is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow,  the lamb slain before the foundation of the world.
The snipets of protestant thought are not unlike some of the arguments that have gone on within the catholic church, they just cross borders instead of occurring under one roof.  We must be humble for we know in part.  Remember too, that being logically consistent is a valid goal it is not always possible.  Our finite thinking frequently ends in paradox when it comes to bible doctrine and resting at the lookout point of paradox may be closer to the truth than the hard doctrinal stances frequently taken. Often, we find no trouble in locating a bible verse to oppose another bible verse; the truth is still there in dimensions and grandeur that we can not realize adequately to comprehensively catalog it all. Mysteries the catholics say I think and rightly so.
Don’t forget those miracles both in the Bible and today with the likes of Rolland and Heidi.  Blind see, deaf hear, and most astoundingly, dead people are raised.  There, grace (or would you say justification?) is shown to be more than a transformation of the inner man but the whole man (outer too).  It makes grace bigger to see it that way.  Is it possible that in our definitions we fail to appreciate that even more grace is coming. If grace is not the right word let it simply be Jesus then.  Keep up the Bible reading.  Floating snippets will then be replaced by solid food, both for yourself and to share with others. Love, Dad

From: me To: dad

RE: Sermon notes

The nuances are such that it is all very confusing. As near as I can tell Salvation entails God’s victory over sin and redemption of mankind in the cross and resurrection, grace is divided into two things:

  • actual grace is a supernatural help of God for salutary acts granted in consideration of the merits of Christ. (Helps us perform holy actions)
  • sanctifying grace is characterized by it’s operations in the soul and these are a disposition towards holiness and habit of acting in a holy fashion, a beautifying of the soul, friendship with God, and sonship.

Justification being the manner in which we arrive at Sanctifying Grace, you can see from it’s effects how it is both entirely of God, yet requires our active participation, for lest we deny free will we must admit that the habit of holiness like any other is cultivated by our own actions, and that part of the beautification of the soul is the result of these actions, but of course the Sonship of God is His free gift, as is His Friendship, it is He that fully beautifies our Soul, and Christ’s blood that first removes the stains of sin, and it is from Him we recieve the disposition and ability to be Holy and desire Holiness. Grace is undisputably of God, magnificent, and undeserved. But the two work in tandem, and though we only be a part of the building, yet if you remove only a few support beams the whole tower falls, and our actions can have that effect. You cannot climb the ladder to heaven when there are missing rungs..On the ressurrection:

The not guilty verdict is I think redemption. Justification does not pertain to our sins being forgiven, but to us being transformed from a sinful state, to a graceful state. Something that involves not just the forgiveness of our many sins, but an inner transformation.
If you read much of Chesterton, you know that Catholicism is very fond of its paradoxes. But these paradoxes do not undermine our logical framework, and when reached as a conclusion support the arguments and facts which gave rise to the paradoxical conclusion. In Calvinism, I do not see that.
Miracles are indeed a form of grace, but not the strict theological eternal life granting capital G Grace of which we have been speaking. Rather they are just another example of God’s providence and grace in the sense of any free, undeserved gift. Certainly not justification, though.
-Micah