Friday, September 28, 2007

Cooperation in Salvation

There are only two possible ways to salvation.

Salvation is either 100% of God or there is some amount of cooperation on the part of the sinner. Jesus either paid the price in full, or there is still some work to be done.

The Catholic model of salvation is one of cooperation between God and the sinner. Jesus’s perfect righteousness and death on the cross merited the grace for the sinner to justify (make righteous) himself.

This grace merited by Jesus (sanctifying grace) is given in increments starting with Baptism and is continued to be merited by the sinner through good works (sacraments, acts of charity, etc.). But sanctifying grace can also be lost through sin, and if you die without sanctifying grace in your soul, you will not make it to heaven.

"Once you have supernatural life, once sanctifying grace is in your soul, you can increase it by every supernaturally good action you do: receiving Communion, saying prayers, performing the corporal works of mercy. Is it worth increasing sanctifying grace once you have it; isn’t the minimum enough? Yes and no. It’s enough to get you into heaven, but it may not be enough to sustain itself. It’s easy to fall from grace, as you know. The more solidly you’re wed to sanctifying grace, the more likely you can withstand temptations.

And if you do that, you maintain sanctifying grace. In other words, once you achieve the supernatural life, you don’t want to take it easy. The minimum isn’t good enough because it’s easy to lose the minimum. We must continually seek God’s grace, continually respond to the actual graces God is working within us, inclining us to turn to him and do good.” Catholic.com

"Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of becoming his adopted sons. It introduces us into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life." CCC 2021

"We can have merit in God's sight only because of God's free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man's collaboration. Man's merit is due to God." CCC 2025

"No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods." CCC 2027

"We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere "to the end" and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ..." CCC 1821

Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions. CCC 2010

"The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it: Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us." CCC 2001

"The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit." CCC 2008

This cooperation with God by the sinner to ensure salvation is quite different than the Protestant understanding of justification which relies on the completed work of Christ on the cross to reconcile the sinner to God (which is obtained by faith alone).

35 comments:

kmerian said...

Carrie, close, very close. But, salvation is always 100% from God. Read the Catechism verses you posted, man cannot merit for himself justification. Yes, we perform good works, but it is the grace of God that motivates us to do that. God acknowledges his grace working through us, which compels us to perform acts of love and charity. If these acts are performed with the expectation that God owes us something by them, there is no grace in them.

Catholics perform charity because it is what God calls us to do, not because we are trying to "earn" anything.

Carrie said...

kmerian,

Can God save you without your cooperation?

Wendei said...

This is why I find Roman Catholicism so sad. I grew up in a very works-based Protestant denomination that didn't understand God's grace and spent 20 years of my life trying to save myself. It was only when I gave up that God was able to save me.

Roman Catholicism is such a man-exalting, God-diminishing religion. In stark contrast, I am in the process of being drawn to Reformed theology because it is a God-exalting, man-diminishing religion. Truly, all that I am has been because of God's grace and through no cooperation of my own! In fact, I am very inclined towards disobedience, but thank God for His "rod and staff" that rescue me from where my own human tendencies would otherwise take me!

kmerian said...

God can save whomever he chooses. But, God let us know how we can be drawn closer to him. And the closer we come to him, the more we surrender to his will for us, and the closer still we come. We only cooperate with God in that we surrender ourselves to his will.

How does this contrast with the protestant teaching that one must "accept Jesus as your personal savior"? Is that not also cooperation?

Wendei, Catholicism does not teach that you can "save yourself" as a matter of fact, it teaches that believing you can save yourself is a sin. God saves, period. When Catholics do good works it is because it is God's grace working in us and through us, and in surrendering ourselves to him in obedience (while demanding nothing in return), it sanctifies us even more.

Carrie said...

We only cooperate with God in that we surrender ourselves to his will.

Was that a yes or a no to my question?

Let's try it this way: Can you be saved if you do not cooperate with the grace that God has given you according to Catholic theology? (I would suggest you read the quote from Catholic.com before answering).

Rhology said...

Can *I*, knowing full well that the Catechism says baptism is necessary, be saved without being baptised, according to RC teaching?

Wendei said...

kmerian said, "Wendei, Catholicism does not teach that you can "save yourself" as a matter of fact, it teaches that believing you can save yourself is a sin. God saves, period. When Catholics do good works it is because it is God's grace working in us and through us, and in surrendering ourselves to him in obedience (while demanding nothing in return), it sanctifies us even more."

kmerian, my Oneness Pentecostal church did not teach that we were to save ourselves either. But the emphasis on outward rituals and good works gave me that impression anyway.

Awhile back, I dated a man who was considering conversion to Catholicism. As a result, I underwent a long study into Catholic beliefs, the church fathers and church history. I found so many parallels between that denomination and the RCC that I knew I could never believe its teachings.

I have never believed that a person is saved by "accepting Christ as a personal savior." In fact, in my church, such a phrase has long been abandoned.

Can you cite a verse that teaches that we are sanctified by good works? I've always thought we are sanctified through God's grace working through our suffering, which, in turn, teaches us how to be obedient to God's commands. (Romans 8:20, Phil. 3:10, Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 5:8, I Peter 4:12-14 etc.)

I Peter 5:10 says, "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you." Where is sanctification flowing from good works in this scripture? I see God and His grace as being the source of sanctification in this verse.

David Waltz said...

Hi Carrie,

Great post; I sincerely hope through charitable dialogue that all can come to an accurate understanding of the gospel.

I am going to be in an out most of today, so detailed comments will have to wait until tomorrow. Until then, I shall limit myself to brief responses as time allows.

Carrie asked the following:

>>Can God save you without your cooperation?>>

Me: In infants, yes; in adults, no. Adults must believe, give assent to the unmerited grace that God gives. Even in the Calvinistic scheme this is true; adults must respond to God’s call…right?


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Rhology,

You posted:

>>Can *I*, knowing full well that the Catechism says baptism is necessary, be saved without being baptised, according to RC teaching?>>

Me: Lutheran’s believe in baptismal regeneration, as do some Reformed scholars. Baptism is not a WORK; baptism is a means of GRACE. Hope you can take the time to read through the material provided at the following Protestant sites:

http://www.hornes.org/theologia/rich-lusk/baptismal-efficacy-the-reformed-tradition-past-present-future

http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2608

http://www.joelgarver.com/writ/sacr/efficacy.htm


Grace and peace,

David

Wendei said...

Kmerian, perhaps I could rephrase my question a little better: Can you cite a verse showing that sanctification flows from obedience? I'm not saying there isn't one, because I'm certainly no Bible scholar (although I wish I were!) but all the verses I find show obedience flowing from sanctification. 1 Peter 1:2, for instance: "According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."

As I read it, we are sanctified FOR obedience.

All others on this combox, if I am wrong, please feel free to correct me. Thanks!

Howard said...

kemerian said,

"If these acts are performed with the expectation that God owes us something by them, there is no grace in them."

Why is it wrong to get baptized with the expectation to be save from the RC view? Isn't that faith, believing God will do something if you do the sacraments?

Your last post ended with this.

"I see God and His grace as being the source of sanctification in this verse."

Both sides agree with that God is the source. That isn't the issue as so many Protestant converts seem to think. The issue is whether God by His sovereign grace is taking a dead creature and breathing new life into it.

You think the Protestant is also believing we cooperate because we believe in calling men to repentance and men must choose to do so. But this misunderstands the Reformed Protestant position. We actually believe in Origianl Sin in its fullest meaning. We actually believe that men do not cooperate with God. Men are regenerated by the Spirit of God.

To use an example, the creation is dying. Yet Jesus speaks of the regeneration of the creation at His coming. The creation doesn't actively do anything.

Now we are people and not machines or robots or puppets. But the issue is the same. Instead of Adam being dead, we have a new Adam that is alive. And by His life we are given a new life in which we desire to come to Christ and entrust our souls to Him.

God Bless

Rhology said...

David W

I'm not Lutheran.
And I was asking about RC theology, if you don't mind.

Thanks!

kmerian said...

Carrie, if you do not cooperate with Gods Grace, you are rejecting God. And no one who rejects God can go to heaven.

Rhology, God can save whom he chooses, but among Christians it is clear that a man must be born of "water and the spirit" to be saved, so yes, Baptism is necessary.

Wendei, I would urge you to read James 2, that will answer a lot of your questions.

Howard, taking the sacraments with the expectation that God will do something for you is the wrong attitude to have. In the sacraments, we surrender ourselves to God, they are acts of obedience not grace "vending machines". Baptism is commanded by God, we do it to become a child of God. That being said, we recieve grace by this sacrament, we do not earn it. Anymore than flipping a swich "earns" you the light that comes on.

Rhology said...

So Kmerian says baptism is necessary (just asserting what John 3 means). I wonder if David W agrees. But he said he won't have a lot of time today, so I understand if it's a while before he says sthg.

Rhology said...

And this "read James 2" thing is a red herring.

Jeff said...

actually, kmerian, the RC Catechism states that one cannot merit the "initial" grace of justification... (paragraph 2010). Just a clarification.

But notice that canon 24 of of the council of Trent states:

Canon 24: If anyone says that the justice received [i.e., justification] is not
preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those
works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of its
increase, let him be anathema.

RCs and Protestants operate on different definitions of the biblical term justification. For Catholics, this is a process involving man and faith + works. For protestants, justification is a legal declaration by God the the sinner "not guilty". It's the difference between infused (RC notion) and imputed righteousness (biblical notion).

The reformation happened for a reason. Much of "evangelicalism" cares not for the doctrine of justification by faith alone and words like "imputed" or "infused" righteousness. But it is what separates biblical salvation and all other works righteousness salvation. The reformers rightly saw that Catholicism added works to our justification (as is still the case). When you make justification a process with man's involvement you can no longer have the following:

Romans 5:1
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

I suggest you consider reading John Owen's volume 5 of his works set entitled "faith and it's Evidences". This treats at length on the doctrine of justification and the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Also try Jonathan Edwards, Francis Turretin, Charles Hodge, James Buchanan on Justification.

Anonymous said...

Wendei wrote:

Kmerian, perhaps I could rephrase my question a little better: Can you cite a verse showing that sanctification flows from obedience? I'm not saying there isn't one, because I'm certainly no Bible scholar (although I wish I were!) but all the verses I find show obedience flowing from sanctification.

You might look at Acts 10 and the example of Cornelius the Centurion.

Cornelius was a "God fearer" who did good works, such as praying and almsgiving. He was visited by an angel in a vision who told him that his good works had ascended as a memorial offering before God. He was instructed to call Peter, which he did, who then baptized him as a Christian.

In the Catholic scheme of things, we would see initial justification through unmerited grace (Cornelius was a "God-fearer"), cooperation with the initial grace of justification through a "living faith", pace James 2,(praying and almsgiving), and cooperation with subsequent sanctification (obeying the angelic vision and becoming baptized into Christ.)

I'm sure that it's possible to do a dance through this text where there is no cooperation or cooperation with the grace of sanctification in order to further his own sanctification, but the reading I've offered is certainly plausible. Further, in my experience, it seems to fit with the experiences of many people.

Lucian said...

I think it highly unwise to try to understand the Biblical concept of redemption, save through the prism of the Person of the Redeemer Himself: the God-Man Jesus Christ.

There are only two possible ways to salvation.

Actually, I think there are at least 4 of them:

1) 100% God, 0% man.
2) 100% man, 0% God.
3) X% God, (100-X)% man.
4) 100% God, 100% man.

Since redemption itself comes through no other "channel" than through the divine-human Person of the Redeemer Himself (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), thus Himself being the only Mediator thereof (1 Timothy 2:5), knowledge of the Redeemer reveals knowledge of His offering of redemption -- not vice-versa. Thus, redemption mirrors the Redeemer that alone offers said redemption. Since it is our firm and sincere belief that this Jesus Whom the Father of the Universe has risen from the dead is fully human and human divine, being neither a demi-god or a lesser divinity, nor lacking anything that belongs to our humanity, the conclusion can be but one. That's my stance. To believe otherwise would be to openly embrace either Docetism (#1), Arianism (#3), Apollinarianism (#3), Monophysism (#1), or Adoptionism (#2).

What would Your opinion on this be?

Lucian said...

A similar question (to the one expressed in the title) could've been: "Is the Bible a divine dictate, or merely a human invention?". Since the Bible is the Word of God, and Jesus Christ is THE Word of God, the answer to that one is also really simple: fully human and fully divine, inspired (not dictated), and this being done by God, not man's imagination (though obviously written down by human hands).

Rhology said...

Lucian,

We're discussing justification, not Christology. I don't really follow how your identification of Christological heresies with the ideas of justification fit, since the one is about works vs faith and the other is about essences.

As far as justification goes, I pick #1.

As far as Christology goes, I pick #4.

Howard said...

I think Jeff's post is right on. So much of these conversations with former Prots make it seem like, "See, Roman Catholics believe in grace too." If RCs believe just like Prots do, then there has never really been an argument, and this is all a waste of time.

RCs must cooperate with God's grace to achieve salvation and to become perfectly righteous. A RC must DO the sacraments to gain merits from the Treasury of merit. This is completely foreign to the Biblical understanding of Justification.

As Jeff said, Justification is a legal, forensic, alien imputed righteousness. It is what gives the true believer the firm foundation and basis for Romans 5:1 "Having been justified we have peace with God."

No RC may say this verse in good conscience and in good standing with Rome's false gospel. Rome's gospel can not save and is truly no gospel at all. Protestant converts may say all they want to make Rome look like Protestantism's historic view, but it isn't.

Of course quoting Trent and sayng it is simply responding to anti-nomianism doesn't help. The Reformers never believed in a faith that had no works, which seems to be implied by all the James 2 arguments. Read the Confessions of the Reformation and see the fullness of what faith means.

God Bless

Anonymous said...

"This cooperation with God by the sinner to ensure salvation is quite different than the Protestant understanding of justification which relies on the completed work of Christ on the cross to reconcile the sinner to God (which is obtained by faith alone)."

Whew! You had me worried. I used to think I had to repent and ammend my life! Would someone please tell these guys who keep poking me in...OW!


Jim Jones,
Hell

Lucian said...

And the two dsitinct essences in Christ the Saviour are united without confusion or mixture, division or separation. So too are faith and works, the later being the offspring of the other (Galatians 5:6), and both opposed to the deeds of the Law (same Galatians 5:6).

Lucian said...

Since our Saviour and Redeemer is both fully human and fully divine, I think it would be only natural to conclude that our redemption and salvation is at the same time both fully human and fully divine.

Pontificator said...

There are many problems with this article. For one thing, it doesn't get the Catholic undertanding of justification quite right. Yes, citations from the Catholic Catechism are provided, yet the author has not understood them properly. For another thing, the author fails to distinguish the many differences on justification within Protestantism itself. The Lutheran formulation is not identical to the Reformed formulation, and both are quite different from the Arminian and Wesleyan construals.

I respectfully suggest that the issue of "cooperation" (i.e., synergism) is a red herring. In fact, all Christian theologians and preachers find it necessary to speak, in one way or another, of our coooperation with the grace of God. What is the confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior but a cooperation with the grace of Christ? What is assent to sin by those who have been regenerated in Christ but a refusal to cooperate with the grace of Christ?

Attempts to quantify in percentages God's action and human action in the event of salvation are misguided. They misrepresent the reality. Divine action and human action are incomparable. God and man are not pulling on the same rope. Catholic and Protestant theologians over the past centuries have reflected deeply on the interaction of divine grace and human freedom. Many theories, on both sides of the Protestant and Catholic divide, have been proposed. Yet all have fallen short. They have fallen short for a very simple reason: as finite creatures we cannot stand outside the world and see things from God's perspective.

It is false to assert that Protestant construals of the mystery of grace and freedom are markedly different from Catholic construals. A good scholastic and predestinarian like St Thomas Aquinas, for example, has no problem asserting that salvation is completely God's work (see the recent book by Richard Bulzacchelli, Judged by the Law of Freedom). As the Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson has observed, when Catholics and Protestants attempt to "describe" the process of salvation (the ordo salutis), they inevitably end up with very similar theories. The conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism does not lie at this point.

David Waltz said...

Hi Rhology,

You said in response to my 12:51 PM, September 28, 2007 post:

>>I'm not Lutheran.
And I was asking about RC theology, if you don't mind.>>

Me: I suspect you did not go to the links I provided and/or read the material. Two of the links had articles by Reformed scholars. Further, all three articles affirm the efficacy of baptism while maintaining that salvation is by “faith alone”. In other words, faith and baptism are not mutually exclusive.

Now, let’s stop beating the same dead horse—“faith alone” in the eyes of some Evangelical scholars does not exclude baptism; once again, baptism is not a WORK.

The gospel according to Rhology seeks to exclude baptism as a necessary means of grace, but such a view must come to grips with some pretty bright Evangelical scholarship which directly challenges such a view.

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

I was going to spend a good portion of this morning typing of a detailed response to many of the important issues that have been raised in this thread; however, Pontificator has saved me a lot of time, beating me to the punch earlier today with concise, yet very information post—NICE JOB!

IMHO, it is now time a for a little history lesson. I shall let the comments of a group of Evangelical and Catholic scholars from a few years ago supplement what Pontificator has so cogently addressed:


"Justification is central to the scriptural account of salvation, and its meaning has been much debated between Protestants and Catholics. We agree that justification is not earned by any good works or merits of our own; it is entirely God’s gift, conferred through the Father’s sheer graciousness, out of the love that he bears us in his Son, who suffered on our behalf and rose from the dead for our justification. Jesus was "put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25). In justification, God, on the basis of Christ’s righteousness alone, declares us to be no longer his rebellious enemies but his forgiven friends, and by virtue of his declaration it is so.

The New Testament makes it clear that the gift of justification is received through faith. "By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). By faith, which is also the gift of God, we repent of our sins and freely adhere to the Gospel, the good news of God’s saving work for us in Christ. By our response of faith to Christ, we enter into the blessings promised by the Gospel. Faith is not merely intellectual assent but an act of the whole person, involving the mind, the will, and the affections, issuing in a changed life. We understand that what we here affirm is in agreement with what the Reformation traditions have meant by justification by faith alone (sola fide).

In justification we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom the love of God is poured forth into our hearts (Romans 5:5). The grace of Christ and the gift of the Spirit received through faith (Galatians 3:14) are experienced and expressed in diverse ways by different Christians and in different Christian traditions, but God’s gift is never dependent upon our human experience or our ways of expressing that experience.

While faith is inherently personal, it is not a purely private possession but involves participation in the body of Christ. By baptism we are visibly incorporated into the community of faith and committed to a life of discipleship. "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

By their faith and baptism, Christians are bound to live according to the law of love in obedience to Jesus Christ the Lord. Scripture calls this the life of holiness, or sanctification. "Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). Sanctification is not fully accomplished at the beginning of our life in Christ, but is progressively furthered as we struggle, with God’s grace and help, against adversity and temptation. In this struggle we are assured that Christ’s grace will be sufficient for us, enabling us to persevere to the end. When we fail, we can still turn to God in humble repentance and confidently ask for, and receive, his forgiveness.

We may therefore have assured hope for the eternal life promised to us in Christ. As we have shared in his sufferings, we will share in his final glory. "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). While we dare not presume upon the grace of God, the promise of God in Christ is utterly reliable, and faith in that promise overcomes anxiety about our eternal future. We are bound by faith itself to have firm hope, to encourage one another in that hope, and in such hope we rejoice. For believers "through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5).

Thus it is that as justified sinners we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. All this is the gift of God. Faith issues in a confident hope for a new heaven and a new earth in which God’s creating and redeeming purposes are gloriously fulfilled. "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11)." (“The Gift of Salvation”, First Things, 01/1998 - http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=3453 .)



Grace and peace,

David

L P Cruz said...

Hi Pontificator,

The Lutheran formulation is not identical to the Reformed formulation

In the nature of the Christian life, in the Sacraments, the nature of faith I can say yes. But when you say the Lutheran formulation [of justification] is not the same as the Reformed, are you referring to it in the nature of faith?

If so, by which confession are you basing the distinction? Are you distinguishing Lutheran from continental Reformed vs westminister type Reformed?

I am interested in where you find the distinction.

LPC

Pontificator said...

"In the nature of the Christian life, in the Sacraments, the nature of faith I can say yes."

Yes, these are precisely the points where we see clearly the difference between the Lutheran and Reformed construals of justification. The Lutheran understanding of justification cannot be divorced from its understanding of sacrament and baptismal regeneration, just as the Reformed construal cannot be divorced from its understanding of predestination. See, e.g., Philip Cary's discussion of Lutheran and Reformed understanding of the sola fide.

I am, as you note, speaking in generalities. In fact, we find important differences within the Lutheran and Reformed families, just as we find important differences in the Catholic family. What is important is not to allow the common subscription to a verbal formula ("We believe in 'justification by faith'") to mask the real differences in understanding.

Anonymous said...

"Roman Catholicism is such a man-exalting, God-diminishing religion"

Well as I see it, according to Calvinists, God asks those who can't repent to repent. This is both God-diminishing and man-diminishing. Catholic doctrine (indeed Christian doctrine) exalts God as the fountain of all that is holy, of all that is good, of all that is love, of all that is just, of all that is merciful, of all that is glorious. Catholic doctrine recognizes God's creation of Man in His image as a good that even Man's own rebellion cannot forever mar, with thanks to Christ Himself who came to become the first of many brothers.

Calvinism is a religion that despises the work of God.

L P Cruz said...

Pontificator,

From the confessional stand, Lutheran and Reformed are the same as far as JBFA is concerned. We do differ as to the finer points of articulation for example on the nature of faith in that JBFA. As far as I know at least from the Belgic Confession for example, on that theme of JBFA, they affirm the same proposition.

LPC

Pontificator said...

From the confessional stand, Lutheran and Reformed are the same as far as JBFA is concerned.

This is not true when the confessions are taken as a whole and interpreted within their respective traditions. There are, of course, those within Lutheranism who stand very close to the Reformed, but there are also others who insist that the Lutheran understanding of justification is different than the Reformed. I have already mentioned the differences between Lutherans and Reformed regarding sacraments and predestination. I also cite the the Lutheran hermeneutical instruction to rightly distinguish law and gospel, which I consider to be the most important of Lutheran contribution to the preaching of the gospel. I refer especially to Robert W. Jenson's book Lutheranism, as well as Gerhard Forde's book Justification by Faith.

The differences are real and cannot be ignored just because Lutherans and Reformed together affirm the formula "justification by faith." It's what the words mean that count. This is why, as Phillip Cary notes in the lecture I cited above, that the Lutheran and Reformed approaches to the problem of assurance are very different.

The problem is that "justification by faith" also serves as a polemical slogan around which opponents to the Catholic Church can unite. When the slogan is used this way, its theological meaning is lost.

David Waltz said...

>> The problem is that "justification by faith" also serves as a polemical slogan around which opponents to the Catholic Church can unite. When the slogan is used this way, its theological meaning is lost.>>

Me: Precisely! I am left scratching my head at those who so quickly assail the teachings of Trent on justification as contrary to “the Biblical gospel” knowing full well that what is actually taught can be ‘found’ in the Bible. How is it that anti-Catholics so easily reconcile James’ clear teaching “that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” with sola fide yet fail to understand Trent in the light of James?

The Evangelicals involved with ECT ‘got it’; let us pray that such thoughtful reflection filters down to the polemicists.


Grace and peace,

David

Anonymous said...

"How is it that anti-Catholics so easily reconcile James’ clear teaching “that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” with sola fide yet fail to understand Trent in the light of James?"

Because it is about pooh-poohing anything "Catholic" even if it also means that they must deny scripture. Reason has nothing to do with it.

L P Cruz said...

Pontificator.

This is not true when the confessions are taken as a whole and interpreted within their respective traditions.

Indeed when you take the whole confessions of either camp as a whole they are different confession, but I am arguing on the article of justification of both.

Let me give an example...in the Belgic Confession...Article 23: The Justification of Sinners
...agrees with Augsburg Confession Article IV.

Please tell me where they are different and how? I must be missing something.

Yes we do disagree with the Calvinist (BTW which Calvinist are we talking about?) on the Sacraments and the thorough going commitment to Law & Gospel.

I agree with you if you say confessionally the Lutheran and the Calvinist have a different worldview or locus. Our theology is the Cross and not Predestination.

But as I see on the JBFA the Belgic Calvinist agrees with the Lutheran.

Perhaps you are talking about Westminster Calvinists and their derivatives like the London Baptist Confessionalist?


As to Cary's article he said very good things which are absolutely appreciated but Luther is not at odds with the Lutheran confessions because we agree that we are to live in state of repentance (conversion too) continually because as sinner and saint, that flesh always tries to doubt the Gospel hence, he continually needs to hear the Law/Gospel preached so that he stays in faith (or state of conversion) and not abandon his faith. This is stated in Formula of Concord Article VI,3-4.

If you want to draw a wedge ;-) the wedge is in the sacraments because Calvin stood in between Luther and Zwingli, which the Lutheran falls short, but not in JBFA (for example I heard Michael Horton articulate it and he sounds Lutheran to me though Reformed).