Monday, September 04, 2006

The Alleged Roman Catholic Tradition on Justification

Previously, I addressed Roman Catholic citations of Alister McGrath’s book Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification. In their usage of this book, they attempt to show that that the protestant understanding of justification was unknown in church history previous to the Reformation. Further, this “fact” is supposed to “prove” that the Reformers deviated from the historical Catholic understanding of justification. Implied in this argument is the proposition that the Roman Catholic Church received their understanding of Justification from the Apostles, and subsequent Church history records the passing on of its understanding to the Church Fathers, and then ultimately to its dogmatic proclamation at the Council of Trent.

McGrath’s book is cited because he says:

A fundamental discontinuity was introduced into the western theological tradition where none had ever existed, or ever been contemplated, before. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification ­ as opposed to its mode ­ must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum." (Alister McGrath - Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification [New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000) 186-187].

A key phrase in the above quote is “western theological tradition”. What does McGrath mean by this? I would assume Roman Catholics think it means their “tradition”- that is, the Roman Catholic Church received their understanding of Justification from the Apostles, and subsequent Church history records the passing on of its understanding to the Church Fathers. Luther then came along “out of the blue” and proclaimed sola fide, quite against the "apostolic tradition."

For instance, our recent Roman Catholic visitor Apolonio Latar says of the McGrath quote:

We also have to note that this doctrine of Sola fide is not an apostolic tradition. We have a Protestant scholar has admitted that Sola fide is not an apostolic tradition.”

I wonder if Latar has actually read McGrath’s book. McGrath implies no such thing. McGrath begins his book by studying the Pre-Augustinian “tradition”. He states of this period that "For the first three hundred and fifty years of the history of the church, her teaching on justification was inchoate and ill-defined" [Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 23].

McGrath says of this period:

The history of early Christian doctrine is basically the history of the emergence of the Christological and Trinitarian dogmas. Whilst the importance of soteriological considerations, both in the motivation of the development of early Christian doctrine and as a normative principle during the course of that development, is generally conceded, it is equally evident that the early Christian writers did not choose to express their soteriological convictions in terms of the concept of justification. This is not to say that the fathers avoid the term 'justification': their interest in the concept is, however, minimal, and the term generally occurs in their writings as a direct citation from, or a recognisable allusion to, the epistles of Paul, generally employed for some purpose other than a discussion of the concept of justification itself. Furthermore, the few occasions upon which a specific discussion of justification can be found generally involve no interpretation of the matter other than a mere paraphrase of a Pauline statement. Justification was simply not a theological issue in the pre-Augustinian tradition. The emerging patristic understanding of matters such as predestination, grace and free will is somewhat confused, and would remain so until controversy forced a full discussion of the issue upon the church. Indeed, by the end of the fourth century, the Greek fathers had formulated a teaching on human free will based upon philosophical rather than biblical foundations. Standing in the great Platonic tradition, heavily influenced by Philo, and reacting against the fatalisms of their day, they taught that man was utterly free in his choice of good or evil. It is with the Latin fathers that we observe the beginnings of speculation on the nature of original sin and corruption, and the implications which thismay have for man's moral faculties.

'It has always been a puzzling fact that Paul meant so relatively little for the thinking of the church during the first 350 years of its history. To be sure, he is honored and quoted, but - in the theological perspective of the west - it seems that Paul's great insight into justification by faith was forgotten.'” [Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 19].

Far from denying Justification by faith as an apostolic teaching, McGrath notes the early church never discusses in any detail what Justification means, and then he posits (via a quote) that the church “forgot” Paul’s teaching for 350 years! Now, is McGrath concluding that Augustine came along and set the record straight on the Biblical term “justification”? No, he’s not, and my previous entry documents this.

Latar has read into McGrath what he wants him to say. There is no unified “Tradition” of the Roman Catholic Church’s understanding of Justification that can be historically linked back to Paul via the Church Fathers. Nor does McGrath state this. What McGrath’s book does is record the church’s struggle to understand the biblical term “Justification.” McGrath never posits a unified Roman Catholic Church “tradition” that emerges from the Apostles.

Sola Fide is based on grammatical and exegetical work on the Biblical text, not on the testimony of history. In speaking of the word iustificari, McGrath notes: "...[I]t would appear that the Greek verb has the primary sense of being considered or estimated as righteous, whereas the Latin verb denotes being righteous, the reason why one is considered righteous by others. Although the two are clearly related, they have quite distinct points of reference" [Ibid. 15].

Roman Catholics: be careful which books you cite to prove your case. Ask yourself, Why would Alister McGrath want to defend your church? McGrath is not a Catholic scholar, nor is he a liberal scholar. Read a text for what it says, not what you want it to say.

So what of McGrath's "theological novum" statement? After he said this, McGrath goes on to say in in the very next paragraph:

"Like all periods in the history of doctrine, the Reformation demonstrates both continuity and discontinuity with the period which immediately preceded it. Chief among these discontinuities is the new understanding of the nature of justification, whereas there are clearly extensive areas of continuity with the late medieval theological movement as a whole, or well-defined sections of the movement, in relation to other aspects of the doctrine, as noted above. That there are no 'Forerunners of the Reformation doctrines of justification' has little theological significance today, given current thinking on the nature of the development of doctrine, which renders Bossuet's static model, on which he based his critique of Protestantism, obsolete. Nevertheless, the historical aspects of the question Continue to have relevance. For what reasons did the Reformers abandon the catholic consensus on the nature of justification? We shall discuss this matter in our study of the development of the doctrine from the Reformation to the present day." [Ibid.187].

14 comments:

Apolonio said...

James,

You are right. I admit that the phrase should not have been said by me in that debate. My thinking has developed since then (I think I was 16 then, if not 17). I also think I was inaccurate in my understanding of "works of the law" in that debate as well.

As for McGrath, after conceding your point, it should trouble Protestants in how no one has believed the doctrine of justification until Luther. One can argue about sola scriptura all he wants, but why would God allow centuries and centuries to have a false idea of justification? There is no "development" here. The western traditional doctrine of justification **contradicts** the Protestant understanding of justification.

McGrath, in speaking of Luther's treatise de servo arbitrio, "In selecting this phrase, Luther appears to claim the support of Augustine for his radical doctrine of the servum asbitrium. A consideration of Augustine's background, however, suggests that it is improbable that he held such a doctrine" (pg. 25). McGrath also speaks of people like, Melanchthon, who "argue that the Reformation understandings of justification represents a **legitimate interpretation** theology of Augustine, so that the Lutheran Reformation may be regarded as recovering the **authentic teaching of the African bishop** from the distortions of the medieval period. However, it will be clear that the medieval period was astonishingly faithful to the teaching of Augustine on the question of the nature of justification" (pgs 184-185). In fact, from the passage you have quoted, it says, "****Chief among these discontinuities**** is the new understanding of the ****nature of justification,*** whereas there are clearly extensive areas of continuity with the late medieval theological movement as a whole, or well-defined sections of the movement, in relation to other aspects of the doctrine, as noted above."

Now, is not the doctrine of sola fide **essential** to the Christian faith according to Protestants? What if one speaks of faith in Christ but **contradicts** and directly denies that justification is by imputed righteousness the way Protestants speak of it? Can he be saved according to you? This causes problem for Protestant ecclesiology since if a Christian does not believe in sola fide, is he still part of the church? Can he be one of the elect? If he can, then it seems that sola fide isn't essential after all. But if he isn't, then we must conclude that Augustine and the whole western theologians after him before Luther was not part of the church. And one cannot condemn Catholics today and accept Augustine. That would be inconsistent.

And the whole theory that only in the reformation when people "actually understood" the verb of justify in scripture is ridiculous. I'm reminded of Mormons and other cults who think that there was some kind of apostasy after the New Testament was written. If sola fide is the gospel, then one must say that the Church has apostatisized from the gospel until Luther. That is an incredible assertion on the economy of salvation.

P.S.
I need to change my picture soon.

FM483 said...

Justification by Grace through Faith in the atonement of Christ ALONE was not some doctrine concocted by the 16th century Reformers. This doctrine was not a sectarian innovation, as the pope insisted, but rather what the Holy Scriptures had always taught. This critical doctrine was a restatement of the Truth which had become buried and hidden under a deluge of various works righteousness that gradually infiltrated the church, culminating in the 16th century Reformation. The medieval church had combined the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification, resulting in confusion and a lack of assurance among believers. In addition to St Paul, there were many church fathers who understood this essential truth. If a person wishes to understand the historic catholicity of this doctrine, it is there to be seen and read about if he truly desires truth. Unfortunately many people only wish to comprehend this doctrine from their sectarian viewpoint, missing it completely. Here are several interesting papers on the subject:

Patristic Witness to Justification by Grace through Faith, Demonstrating the Orthodoxy and Catholicity of the Lutheran Confession of Salvation:

http://reformationtoday.tripod.com/chemnitz/id46.html

Through Whom and How the Corruptions of
the Article of Justification Were Refuted (by Martin Chemnitz)

http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.chemnitzcorruptions.html


Chrysostom on Justification

http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.chrysostomjustification.html

Ambrose on Justification:
A Study in the Catholicity of Lutheran Theology (by David Jay Webber)

http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.ambrose.html

The Catholic Faith of the Lutheran Church

http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.catholic.html



As has been stated on many occasions on this site, the only infallible words are those from Scripture. Hence, we plainly read of the imputation of Righteousness from St Paul in many places in his letter to Rome(e.g. Romans 3:21-22; 4:22-25).The early fathers were fallible men and often erred. Merely reading the last reference from Ambrose shows how he was orthodox in his faith and teaching and yet as a fallible human being, he could be in error on occasion. In the above, he rred in assuming that Christ paid a ransom to the devil rather than to God Himself! The Scriptures alone must be our rule and norm for detecting error and truth. We are told to test everything(1John 4:1). When the fathers speak consistent with Holy Writ, we are to applaud their faith and public witness. However, when these same men err, we are to cling even more to the Word of God for assurance and Truth.


Frank Marron

James Swan said...

Apolonio-

it should trouble Protestants in how no one has believed the doctrine of justification until Luther. One can argue about sola scriptura all he wants, but why would God allow centuries and centuries to have a false idea of justification?.

I appreciate your admission of inaccurate citation, but you’ve missed the major point in both my recent entries on the McGrath book. Who previous to Augustine understood the term justification and the way he did? Consider what McGrath notes: “For the first three hundred and fifty years of the history of the church, her teaching on justification was inchoate and ill-defined"[ Ibid. 23]. So, where is Augustine's view in the early church? It is the same problem. This is the question you, and all Roman Catholics who repeatedly raise this argument must answer- if you can’t, then honesty and truth demand abandoning the argument.

I suggest further that you re-read the section on Augustine in McGrath’s book, noting that prior to 395, Augustine’s opinion on Justification was different (see page 25). How is it, the Church you believe in did not have an understanding of one of the Bible’s most important doctrines? How is it, the man (Augustine) who would set the course of church history on this subject had different opinions on it? Who judges which of his opinions were correct? The Church? Did they do so?

McGrath says Augustine misunderstood the term justification. He used it in its Latin sense, not in a Hebrew sense. Since he didn't know Greek, how could Augustine arrive at an accurate interpretation?

There is no "development" here. The western traditional doctrine of justification **contradicts** the Protestant understanding of justification.

Not according to McGrath: "Like all periods in the history of doctrine, the Reformation demonstrates both continuity and discontinuity with the period which immediately preceded it. Chief among these discontinuities is the new understanding of the nature of justification, whereas there are clearly extensive areas of continuity with the late medieval theological movement as a whole, or well-defined sections of the movement, in relation to other aspects of the doctrine, as noted above. (187).

McGrath, in speaking of Luther's treatise de servo arbitrio,…

Rabbit trail. A lot of the confusion of Luther’s view here is his definition of the term ‘necessity’ and comparing that with Augustine’s view. This discussion is for another time.

McGrath also speaks of people like, Melanchthon…

Another rabbit trail.

Now, is not the doctrine of sola fide **essential** to the Christian faith according to Protestants?

Yes.

What if one speaks of faith in Christ but **contradicts** and directly denies that justification is by imputed righteousness the way Protestants speak of it? Can he be saved according to you? This causes problem for Protestant ecclesiology since if a Christian does not believe in sola fide, is he still part of the church? Can he be one of the elect? If he can, then it seems that sola fide isn't essential after all.

One is saved by faith alone, but one is not saved by faith in the doctrine of faith alone. God, throughout history has saved his people who trusted in him. He does not save people because they score high on a theology test. How do I know this? Because Hebrews 11 demonstrates it repeatedly. Go read it. In Hebrews 12 the author says that Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith.

The Bible has always taught sola fide, from Genesis to Revelation.

James Swan said...

Frank-

Justification by Grace through Faith in the atonement of Christ ALONE was not some doctrine concocted by the 16th century Reformers. This doctrine was not a sectarian innovation, as the pope insisted, but rather what the Holy Scriptures had always taught.

As a similar example, I was trying to find that passage in the Old Testament in which the law had vanished, and was rediscovered years later. Since God allowed a period of time in which the Law was missing, can one conclude that the law was not what God had earlier decreed? Can one conclude that those who didn't have the law during that period were not subject to it?

EA said...

James - I was trying to find that passage in the Old Testament in which the law had vanished, and was rediscovered years later.

2 Kings 22:8-13 (also 2 Chronicles 34:14-21)
Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD." He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: "Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple." Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king's attendant: "Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD's anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us."

The history of Israel is one marked by disobedience, prophetic warning, punishment, repentence, forgiveness, falling back into apostasy, etc...of course, ignorance (even "invincible ignorance") or disregard of the Law is no defense. i.e. Romans 2:12, etc...

Also, if God did not see fit to provide an 'infallible' teacher to safeguard the believer (or the Law of Moses for that matter) under the OT covenant, then why would it be necessary under the NT dispensation? Is the NT covenant an "improved" version of the OT, or its fulfillment?

Apolonio said...

James,

The passage you quoted says that there is discontinuity between the reformer's understanding of justification with that of the western tradition (the west followed Augustine). That's why he calls it a theological novum and "new understanding." Infused righteousness and imputed righteousness are contradictory aren't they? So if they are, then that shows that the reformers contradicted the Fathers. Then you made the argument about justification prior or Augustine. I have two responses. First, my argument was not from silence or "absence" of the teaching. My argument was that the tradition clearly ***contradicts*** the reformers' understanding of justification. Two, there *is* development in Augustine just like there was development with the doctrine on hypostatic union, using Greek terminology. In the East, we have the doctrine of deification: "And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue; and we believe that those who live wickedly and do not repent are punished in everlasting fire" (Justin Martyr, Apology 1 ch. 21). Deification in Eastern theology is a process (see also Gregory of Nyssa's epektasis doctrine). Clement of Rome says:

" Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end to this [state of things]; and let us fall down before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully be reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice of brotherly love. For [such conduct] is the gate of righteousness, which is set open for the attainment of life, as it is written, "Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go in by them, and will praise the Lord: this is the gate of the Lord: the righteous shall enter in by it." Although, therefore, many gates have been set open, yet this gate of righteousness is that gate in Christ by which blessed are all they that have entered in and have directed their way in holiness and righteousness, doing all things without disorder." (First Epistle ch. 48)

"Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change,(3) all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. "For God," saith [the Scripture], "resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble."(4) Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. LET US CLOTHE OURSELVES WITH CONCORD AND HUMILITY, EVER EXERCISING SELF-CONTROL, STANDING FAR OFF FROM ALL WHISPERING AND EVIL-SPEAKING, BEING JUSTIFIED BY OUR WORKS, AND NOT OUR WORDS. For [the Scripture] saith, "He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous? Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking."(5) Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him. " (ch. 30)

Cyprian says,
"The remedies for propitiating God are given in the words of God Himself; the divine instructions have taught what sinners ought to do, that by works of righteousness God is satisfied, that with the deserts of mercy sins are cleansed." (Treatise 8)

Ambrose:
Duties of the Clergy, Book 1, 11.39 - "Further, he bestows more on thee than thou on him, since he is thy debtor in regard to thy salvation. If thou clothe the naked, thou clothest thyself with righteousness; if thou bring the stranger under thy roof, if thou support the needy, he procures for thee the friendship of the saints and eternal habitations. That is no small recompense. Thou sowest earthly things and receivest heavenly... Not again is nay one more blessed than he who is sensible to the needs of the poor, and the hardships of the weak and helpless. In the day of judgment he will receive salvation from the Lord. Whom he will have as his debtor for the mercy he has shown (NPNP2, vol. 10, p. 7).

Now, did they use the same terminology? No, but it can be seen that they *do* speak of becoming holy and that's the only way to be saved. They ddi not make a radical distinction between justification and sanctification. Now, Augustine simply said things more precisely just as Athanasius said things more precisely and better than others.

Apolonio said...

As a similar example, I was trying to find that passage in the Old Testament in which the law had vanished, and was rediscovered years later. Since God allowed a period of time in which the Law was missing, can one conclude that the law was not what God had earlier decreed? Can one conclude that those who didn't have the law during that period were not subject to it?

Response:
James, false analogy. To say that "Well, the Scriptures teaches protestant justification and from the first century to the 16th it was missing" clearly misses the point. It's not that it was "missing" as if there is silence on the issue. The fact is that the tradition **contradicted** the Protestant understanding, whether speaking in Augustinian terminology (infused righteousness) or deification (the East emphasized more on the ascent of man, although they did say that it was God who first became man so that man might become a god).

Finally, you said,

"One is saved by faith alone, but one is not saved by faith in the doctrine of faith alone. God, throughout history has saved his people who trusted in him. He does not save people because they score high on a theology test. How do I know this? Because Hebrews 11 demonstrates it repeatedly. Go read it. In Hebrews 12 the author says that Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith."

So believing in the doctrine of faith alone is not essential to the faith? What if a person contradicts that doctrine but still has faith in Christ?

Oddball Pastor said...

Mr. Latar clealry does not grasp your point James. He continues to use the term "the tradition" as though tere was such a thing, when for 350 years prior to Augustine there was no such thing. He continues to assume that this "tradition" of Augustine's (one of a few he taught in his lifetime) is somehow the standard for comparison. He does not deal with the fact that Augustine himself represented a theological novum in his day.

Its unfortunate, but some can't think "outside the box."

James Swan said...

EA,

Thanks for the reference- I was on my out the door yesterday, and didn't have time to look it up.

The Geneva notes comment:

"This was the copy that Moses left them, as it appears in (2Ch_34:14), which either by the negligence of the priests had been lost, or else by the wickedness of idolatrous kings had been abolished."

Matthew Henry:

"Whether this was the only authentic copy in being or no, it seems the things contained in it were new both to the king himself and to the high priest; for the king, upon the reading of it, rent his clothes. We have reason to think that neither the command for the king's writing a copy of the law, nor that for the public reading of the law every seventh year (Deu_17:18; Deu_31:10, Deu_31:11), had been observed for a long time; and when the instituted means of keeping up religion are neglected religion itself will soon go to decay. "
********

if God did not see fit to provide an 'infallible' teacher to safeguard the believer (or the Law of Moses for that matter) under the OT covenant, then why would it be necessary under the NT dispensation? Is the NT covenant an "improved" version of the OT, or its fulfillment?

Excellent rhetorical question EA.

One thing I rarely find is any attempt by RC's to explain the authority structure during the Old covenant. Somehow or another, the Old Testament community was able to put together the entire Old Testament canon without an infallible council or Pope.

Further, the same Gospel proclaimed in the New Testament is that which was proclaimed in the Old Testament:

Gal 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.

Gal 3:7 Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham.

Gal 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed.

Gal 3:9 So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.

Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.

Gal 3:11 Now that no man is justified by the law before God, is evident: for, The righteous shall live by faith;

Gal 3:12 and the law is not of faith; but, He that doeth them shall live in them.

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Gal 3:14 that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Now, if the Gospel message is the same in both covenants, consider applying history and tradition to interpreting the Gospel. By the time Jesus appeared, a Jewish tradition of interpretation had risen up, confounding and confusing that which was written in the Scriptures. The scribes and pharisees had obscured the Gospel by their "tradition". Jesus strongly rebuked them, and did so according to the Scriptures.

The parallel of Jewish tradition previous and during Jesus ministry and the Roman Catholic "tradition" that has developed in the past 2000 years is uncanny.

I don't make this parallel with any "glee". Our prayers should be for those zealously defending Rome. Our intent should be the same as Paul's in Romans 10:

"Brothers my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes."

How incredibly accurate Paul's words for the Jews apply to Zealous Catholic apologists!

James Swan said...

Brent:

Mr. Latar clealry does not grasp your point James. He continues to use the term "the tradition" as though there was such a thing, when for 350 years prior to Augustine there was no such thing. He continues to assume that this "tradition" of Augustine's (one of a few he taught in his lifetime) is somehow the standard for comparison. He does not deal with the fact that Augustine himself represented a theological novum in his day. Its unfortunate, but some can't think "outside the box."

Yes, this is very frustrating. I do not doubt for a second that Apolonio is an extremely keen and sharp young man. He reminds me of myself when I was younger.

In my case, it was an extremely brilliant Atheist mentor/teacher during my studies in my Philosophy major that bulldozed me.

But, God promises all things will work for my good, so in that "leveling" I was forced to take an emmotional and honest look at my own basic presuppositions. It took about 10 years to work through (and in fact, the "work" parallels the 4 stages of grieving- as my old paradigms died and my new emerged).

I credit God using a brilliant atheist to strenghthen my faith and refine my beiefs by tearing me to shreds. The entire period was very painful, and carried with it a lot of grief (still felt today) but I would never have learned or grown any other way. It was only by a 10 year "dark night of the soul" that i'm able to live corum deo and proclaim "soli deo gloria"!

Apolonio needs to use his intellect and emmotion to really investigate the claims of the Roman Catholic Church. He's a smart young man. This is easier said than done. But God has a way of "leveling" those whom he calls. He tears down in order to build up into the image of Christ (and Frank would agree, this is an aspect of the "theology of the cross").

Brent, you may be familiar with the Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn. He a great line i've always treasured:

"Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. You gotta kick out the darkness till it bleeds daylight."

Blessings,
James

James Swan said...

Apolonio-

I won't get to any type of detailed response to you today, but I appreciate your comments, and your interest in this blog. Obviously, my comments to EA and Brent above will have enough to keep you either interested or entertained.

Just a quick revision. It does appear you do have McGrath's book. Am I correct? It's always helpful to get and read the materials that oppose one's own position. McGrath's does not fight for the position of Rome, that should be well understood if you've read his book. The book does not prove Rome's interpretation of history or the Bible on the issue of Justification.

As a token of appreciation for your comments on this blog, i'd like to send you David King's book:

Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith (Volume I)

If you're interested, you can e-mail me with your address:

Tertiumquid@msn.com

James

FM483 said...

James posted the following comment:

“But God has a way of "leveling" those whom he calls. He tears down in order to build up into the image of Christ (and Frank would agree, this is an aspect of the "theology of the cross").”

This is very true. God humbles the proud and the least shall be first in His kingdom. But more than rebuilding a person in His image, the biblical viewpoint is that the Old Adam within a person cannot be repaired and restored or even torn down and rebuilt in His image. Rather, the Old Adam is good for nothing else than crucifixtion. The Old Adam must die so that an entirely New Creation comes about through the miracle of rebirth in Christ. The paradox is that both the Old Adam and New Creation coexist throughout the life of a believer(simul justus et peccator). The problem is that most people concentrate only on sins of commission, therefore believing that the Old Adam becomes weaker throughout one’s Christian life. This ignores the thoughts and words of believers as equally important to God. The biblical fact is that this is not the case, but that through the Grace of God, He looks at the New Creation and recognizes His Son in each and every believer. The Old Adam has already been dealt with at the cross – it is a “dead leaf” which falls to the ground upon temporal death. James is correct in that the Theologian of the Cross views everything through the finished work lof God in Christ on the cross. The Theologian of SELF GLORY instead concentrates upon himself and always looks inward to see “improvements” in his Sanctification, not realizing that the Old Adam is starring him back in his face. He should rather look externally outside of himself to the cross of Christ for his assurance and peace.

Frank Marron

Apolonio said...

Odball,

After actually arguing that Augustine's concept of justification is a *development* by giving some evidence of it and you not interacting with a single argument, how can you say that I am not justified in using the term "tradition"? Second, McGrath does speak of the western tradition of justification starting from Augustine and the reformers turned away from it. It's true that he said that justification was not spoken much before Augustine, but there is justification to saying that the western tradition of justification was Augustine's. I would suggest you interact with the arguments I presented. I do grasp James' point and I argued against it. Just because I argued against it, it does not mean that I don't grasp it.

As for me not being able to think "outside the box," if that was so, then I would not have changed my opinions on many things. In fact I would not have said that I was wrong in my use of the words in that debate if that was so.

James,

You said, "Apolonio needs to use his intellect and emmotion to really investigate the claims of the Roman Catholic Church."

I have. I got into apologetics listening and reading the arguments of White, Svendsen, et al. I investigated the Catholic claims and I am still Catholic because it is true. I have also read many other Protestants and all different types of arguments against the Church. But I will not doubt that the Catholic Church is false nor will I be skeptical of her teachings. I don't see why I should do that (if one reads Plantinga and other reformed epistemologists, one can see why I am justified in doing this). Ironically, it was when I "got out of the box" of thinking that the only Protestants out there were White, Svendsen, et al that I realized how great the Church is and how there are many other great Protestant scholars who are worth considering more. But yes, I will send you an email.

Oddball Pastor said...

Hello Apolonio,

I am afraid that what you are nt grasping is that it is inappropriate for you to re fer to "THE tradition" when there was no such thing until Augustine (by your lights) and ewven then he only represented the western tradition, and nto the eastern. You also seemingly assume that Augustone was right, which notion McGrath rather convincingly refutes.