Saturday, March 08, 2008

Human Openess to God?

"In Nostra aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, the Second Vatican Council teaches that “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.

…The “seeds of truth” present and active in the various religious traditions are a reflection of the unique Word of God, who “enlightens every man coming into world” (cf. Jn 1:9) and who became flesh in Christ Jesus (cf. Jn 1:14). They are together an “effect of the Spirit of truth operating outside the visible confines of the Mystical Body” and which “blows where it wills” (Jn 3:8; cf. Redemptor hominis, nn. 6, 12).

…It must first be kept in mind that every quest of the human spirit for truth and goodness, and in the last analysis for God, is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The various religions arose precisely from this primordial human openness to God. At their origins we often find founders who, with the help of God’s Spirit, achieved a deeper religious experience. Handed on to others, this experience took form in the doctrines, rites and precepts of the various religions.

In every authentic religious experience, the most characteristic expression is prayer. Because of the human spirit’s constitutive openness to God’s action of urging it to self-transcendence, we can hold that “every authentic prayer is called forth by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in the heart of every person”.

…Normally, “it will be in the sincere practice of what is good in their own religious traditions and by following the dictates of their own conscience that the members of other religions respond positively to God’s invitation and receive salvation in Jesus Christ, even while they do not recognize or acknowledge him as their Saviour (cf. Ad gentes, nn. 3, 9, 11)”

…For the reasons mentioned here, the attitude of the Church and of individual Christians towards other religions is marked by sincere respect, profound sympathy and, when possible and appropriate, cordial collaboration. This does not mean forgetting that Jesus Christ is the one Mediator and Saviour of the human race. Nor does it mean lessening our missionary efforts, to which we are bound in obedience to the risen Lord’s command: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). The attitude of respect and dialogue is instead the proper recognition of the “seeds of the Word” and the “groanings of the Spirit”."

-Pope John Paul II


"as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.'...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith." Romans 3:10-12,23-25


83 comments:

TheDen said...

Carrie,

What the Church is saying is that God is calling all men to Christ. He uses other non-Christian religions to point them to the one Truth that is His Son. In other religions are "seeds of truth" that allow a man (through God's grace) to search for God and to find Jesus Christ.


“and receive salvation in Jesus Christ, even while they do not recognize or acknowledge him as their Saviour”

It seems like you’re not really reading the text but rather just pulling out lines you disagree with. If you continue further in the Pope’s speech, he says this:

“This possibility is achieved through sincere, inward adherence to the Truth, generous self-giving to one’s neighbour and the search for the Absolute inspired by the Spirit of God. A ray of the divine Wisdom is also shown through the fulfilment of the precepts and practices that conform to the moral law and to authentic religious sense. Precisely by virtue of the Spirit’s presence and action, the good elements found in the various religions mysteriously prepare hearts to receive the full revelation of God in Christ.

So, what the Pope is saying is that they must still be saved through their acknowledgement of Christ which is exactly what I’ve explained.

I’ve also noticed that you guys really like Romans 3.

You do realize that Romans 3:19 tells us that he's referring to those "under the law." i.e. Paul's talking about those under the Mosaic Law. This is not referring to people of other religions.



“every authentic prayer is called forth by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in the heart of every person”

Yes, this is true. If the prayer is authentic, it's brought forth through the grace of God by the Holy Spirit.

All men were created by God and bear the image and likeness of Christ. As Christ is the perfect man, all men (and women) are an imperfect reflection of Him. Thus, we must love and treat all men as though they were Christ--no matter how imperfect they may be.

Carrie said...

In other religions are "seeds of truth" that allow a man (through God's grace) to search for God and to find Jesus Christ.

Ever heard of total depravity?

Try Romans 3:10-11 "as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.".

It seems like you’re not really reading the text but rather just pulling out lines you disagree with. If you continue further in the Pope’s speech, he says this:

Yeah, I left in those parts for context, but the beginning paragraphs are still problematic.

So, what the Pope is saying is that they must still be saved through their acknowledgement of Christ which is exactly what I’ve explained.

You said in the other thread that "overt faith" is not necessary. And that is inline with what the Catechism says in #847 although I am encouraged that you keep trying to look for an explicit faith in Christ.

As the Compendium of the Catechism says:

"This means that all salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body. Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her. At the same time, thanks to Christ and to his Church, those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation."

You do realize that Romans 3:19 tells us that he's referring to those "under the law." i.e. Paul's talking about those under the Mosaic Law. This is not referring to people of other religions.

You are missing the whole point of Romans 1-3. I just answered you in the old thread but I will repeat my answer here:

You said: Again…Romans 2:14-16. It DOES NOT say these people are doomed but rather that “when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature OBSERVE THE PRESCRIPTIONS OF THE LAW…”

Read it again: "All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law". To say they won't perish you would have to say they have not sinned, but that is not possible since we will see in Romans 3 that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".

You have totally missed the point of Romans 1-3 where Paul masterfully explains how ALL men are under sin, Jew or Gentile, and none will escape the wrath of God against sin by their own works.

Paul has put everyone on the same level playing field: "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." That is the "bad news" just prior to giving the "good news", "BUT NOW a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."

The only way to be righteous before God is through faith in Christ to those who believe. Overt faith, not some "faith" where they "try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience".

You said: Defend them from what? From Christ’s judgment.

Wrong.

"Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them."

Ever see a cartoon where a character has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other whispering in his ear? Similar idea. When you feel guilty before doing something wrong, or justify why doing something is okay, your "thoughts" are showing the law written on your heart.

The KJV has parentheses around verses 13-15. Try reading it that way and you may see the flow better.

TheDen said...

Carrie,

What I’ve written has nothing to do with total depravity. As I’d written, the person’s search is through God’s grace. God calls them first and they respond. We can do nothing without God’s grace. Total depravity (to my understanding) is that left to our own capacities--without grace, we fall into sin. I agree with this (and so does the Catholic Church). However, if a Muslim or other non-Christian is being called by God, their search for God would start in their own religion and lead them to Christianity.

Dozie said...

"Ever heard of total depravity?"

Yes, it is found in Calvinism. What is not depraved in this system of religion - their logic, etc, is what is not known. And why Calvinists spend countless hours and energy arguing about, what should be for them, a decided matter should puzzle every rational mind. Yet, relying on nothing - neither Tradition nor a Magisterium - but on their own overrated sense of logic, they raise smoke in every alley they seem to travel on for the sake of being noticed. By their own religion, nothing a Calvinist does can lead to the salvation of a soul. These folks numbering no more than 1500 (fifteen hundred) run around arranging debates and erecting provocative web sites to draw attention to themselves. They cannot do otherwise. They do not believe in evangelism or that it can have a real salvific impact on anyone’s life since the number of the saved has already been determined. They therefore have no message of their own. But, Calvinists think they are intelligent people and intelligent people must keep busy, and busy they keep ensuring everyone else is busy responding to their self-pleasing logic and not focusing on the real work of the gospels. This is the distraction called Calvinism. I hope that every Catholic who posts here does so when he or she is bored at something else otherwise the likes of Carrie and James Swan may consider their blogging as part of the good work required of the sheep.

Reginald de Piperno said...

no one seeks for God.

This is true - apart from God's grace.

But St. Paul writes of non-Christian Jews in the same epistle that they have zeal for God. Where did it come from? Obviously from God's grace, right?

And yet they did not believe.

And in Athens he spoke of unbelieving men seeking after, groping after God (Acts 17:26-27). Well, how could they have done this? Only by the grace of God, right?

The Pope's speech that is quoted in this post in no way denies that "human openness to God" has any other source than God himself: which means that it is a matter of grace.

So it seems that the comment about "total depravity" is a red herring having nothing to do with the Pope's speech at all.

Peace,

RdP

Mike Burgess said...

Yes, a red herring totally ignoring the full context of the antecedent passages in Psalms and Isaiah, to be sure. "None righteous, no not one;" compare/contrast "they swallow up my people" etc. in the same passage. Little exegetical problems like this shouldn't get in the way of a good theory like total depravity, RdP.

L P Cruz said...

why not admit it, this pope was universalistic...
every authentic prayer is called forth by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in the heart of every person

If the issue is natural law being in every man,I can agree but this is not the HS.

This is a category mistake.

LPC

Reginald de Piperno said...

Pope John Paul the Great was most certainly not universalistic, and the quotation in this post doesn't say otherwise.

Did you read Acts 17:26-27? St. Paul says that God appointed all men's times and habitations, and that the purpose of this was "that they should seek God, if haply they may feel after him or find him."

But no one can do such a thing apart from his grace. Consequently if "all mankind" is intended to seek God as St. Paul says, clearly God must have given grace to all in order that they might do so.

Lastly, note that this does not mean that all will do so. The Jews had zeal for God (as Paul says in Romans 10:2) - which they could only have by God's grace - but they did not believe (in large measure). In the same way, others may not seek God though he has given them grace to do so.

Peace,

RdP

Carrie said...

However, if a Muslim or other non-Christian is being called by God, their search for God would start in their own religion and lead them to Christianity.

You keep moving the goalposts.

People coming to Christ through the grace of God is not the discussion here. The problem is that "those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation."

TheDen said...

Carrie,

I've already explained this...the call to Salvation is for all men and it's ONLY through Christ. I'm not moving the goalposts at all. My argument has not changed.

Again, what this is saying is fully in line with Romans 2:14-16 AND Acts 10:34-35.

If your beliefs don't account for these verses then perhaps you're the one who needs to move your goalposts. Perhaps your view of Christianity is not correct.

Yes, I agree with Romans 3...all men are sinners and need Christ for salvation. Nobody can do it on their own. We all need Christ. The Pope is not conradicting this in his speech. This is not central core doctrine. This is a given. We have accepted this and moved on. There is so much more to Christianity than this and you're too focused on Romans 3 to see it.

Your view of Christianity is distorted and nothing that you've written has convinced me otherwise. You need to realize that you're being fed lies and come to the Truth in Christ.

Carrie said...

So it seems that the comment about "total depravity" is a red herring having nothing to do with the Pope's speech at all.

You are begging the question that people who follow a religion or do good are being called by God's grace. Were Baal worshippers being called by grace?

The idea that "every quest of the human spirit for truth and goodness, and in the last analysis for God, is inspired by the Holy Spirit" or "The various religions arose precisely from this primordial human openness to God" is totally bogus. It goes against what scripture tells us about the natural state of man.

Carrie said...

Catholic Catechism #1260:

"Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity."

Reginald de Piperno said...

The idea that "every quest of the human spirit for truth and goodness, and in the last analysis for God, is inspired by the Holy Spirit" or "The various religions arose precisely from this primordial human openness to God" is totally bogus. It goes against what scripture tells us about the natural state of man.

It's not bogus in any way, but in a certain sense you're correct: it does "go against the natural state of man" precisely because it is grace, as the Pope said: "inspired by the Holy Spirit." "This does not mean forgetting that Jesus Christ is the one Mediator and Saviour of the human race. Nor does it mean lessening our missionary efforts, to which we are bound in obedience to the risen Lord’s command: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19).

Reginald de Piperno said...

You are begging the question that people who follow a religion or do good are being called by God's grace.

I'm not sure whether you think I'm begging for a question or whether you think I'm committing a logical fallacy. If you think I'm committing the logical fallacy of begging the question, you're wrong. If the former, however, you're also wrong: I'm not begging for anything.

I've already stated my position: Acts 17 and Romans 10 (and Acts 10:35 for that matter) make it clear that God's grace is given rather broader distribution than at least some Protestants seem to think, The Pope's statements are consistent with Scripture.

TheDen said...

Carrie,

You emphasize the wrong part of #1260:

we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery

This is exactly what we're talking about. The possibility of Salvation is available to all men. If a person has not had ANY ACCESS to the Gospel then we believe God has made it available to them in a way known but to God. (It also cross references CCC848 in the catechism).


"The idea that "every quest of the human spirit for truth and goodness, and in the last analysis for God, is inspired by the Holy Spirit" or "The various religions arose precisely from this primordial human openness to God" is totally bogus."

Why is this bogus? We cannot search for God unless God gives us the grace (through the Holy Spirit). If man searches for God, it's through His grace.

Regarding religion, religion arose for a search for something greater. Religion was created "so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for Him and even find Him" (as Paul so eloquently puts it in Acts 17:27) that must have been inspired by God. As man continues to search, man finds that God became man to sanctify and purify him. To elevate him and unify him with God. It's beautiful and profound.

Paul's very own words conflict with what you think Romans 3 says and leads me to believe that you're placing way too much emphasis on Romans 3. The point of Romans 3 is that we need Christ. We can't do it on our own. If we just try to be "obedient to the law"(which is the old Mosaic law) we will fail for no one is just.

If you really want to understand the Catholic understanding of Romans 1-3 better, please read CCC#122, 708, 1961-1964.

Turretinfan said...

RdP wrote: "Did you read Acts 17:26-27?"

Several times.

Here it is, in the KJV:

Act 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
Act 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

RdP: "St. Paul says that God appointed all men's times and habitations, and that the purpose of this was "that they should seek God, if haply they may feel after him or find him.""

That least "or" obviously should be an "and," which makes some difference.

Furthermore, Paul speaks of the bounds of the habitations of all men. Do you suppose that Paul refers only to the bounds of their earthly habitation, or also their eternal habitation?

More importantly, though, the purpose spoken of is a purpose of command: as can be seen in verse 30. God "now commands all men everywhere to repent."

RdP: "But no one can do such a thing apart from his grace."

Of course.

RdP: "Consequently if "all mankind" is intended to seek God as St. Paul says, clearly God must have given grace to all in order that they might do so."

Non sequitur. The fact of a command does not imply God's assistance in obeying the command. This is a common mistake, it is a very similar mistake to that of the Pelagians.

The Pelagians thought that if God commands it, man must be intrinsically able to do it.

Semi-Pelagians (and Semi-Demi-hemi-Pelagians) tend to think that if God commands it, God must have given man some ability to do it.

Of course, the only difference between those two erroneous views is that in the first instance, the ability is given by God to man as Creator, and in the latter instance, the ability is given by God to man as Provider.

The former view is more consistent, for it recognizes that for grace to be grace it must be gratuitous. The latter view calls God's provision of ability "grace," but insists that God must provide it, since God has commanded obedience, therby removing the graciousness of grace.

RdP: "Lastly, note that this does not mean that all will do so. ... In the same way, others may not seek God though he has given them grace to do so."

And this is the final nail in the coffin: the "grace" so-called is ineffectual. Apparently, under this view, God is great that he can foreordain the appointed times and the earthly bounds of men's habitations, but he cannot determine the times of their conversion, or the bounds of their eternal habitations. He can (in this erroneous view) provide a general enabling grace, but not an effectual grace: a grace that renders savable, but not a grace that actually saves.

But we, the Reformed, hold that God is more powerful than that: his grace accomplishes its intended purpose: if its purpose is to bring men to Christ, it will not return emptyhanded.

That the Almighty might fail to accomplish what He intended, is as absurd as to imagine that He might be able to create a rock so large that He Himself could not move it.

-Turretinfan

------- Theo ------- said...

"But we, the Reformed, hold that God is more powerful than that: his grace accomplishes its intended purpose:"

To me it seems it's not that you hold God is more powerful, but that you ascribe to God what his purpose is in giving grace. If we understand it is God's purpose, intent and plan to make his grace available to the many and restrict salvation to only those who apprehend it, this does not make a weakling of God any more than a king inviting all who will come, to come to his table diminishes in strength or sovereignty if any fool refuses the invitation.

In fact the king might demonstrate his sovereignty by removing the fools from the guest list forever and inviting others to take their place, or upon their arrival, remove them if they do not come fit for the feast.

Perhaps the kingdom of heaven can be thought of more like the case of a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.

He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'

But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.

The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.'

So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.

'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?'

The man was speechless.

Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

For many are invited, but few are chosen.

Yes, the Kingdom of God could be like this. I believe this is a fair picture of an all-powerful God who accomplishes his purpose. I could be wrong; however, I don't think so.

Your humble servant and brother,
--Theo

Turretinfan said...

I'm not crazy about SN's like "Theo" "Deus" "God" "Allah," or "Jesus," though I recognize that sometimes parents name their kids in unusual ways.

To answer your comments:

"To me it seems it's not that you hold God is more powerful, but that you ascribe to God what his purpose is in giving grace."

Of course, the purpose is important. But, apparently, RdP acknowledges that the purpose of grace is to save people. Obviously, someone unwilling to acknowledge such a purpose for grace would have other issues to resolve.

As for the parable of the wedding feast, and the apparent attempt to apply it somehow to the question at hand, it's worth noting that Luke 14:23 uses the term αναγκασον to describe the "invitation" (in your paraphrase above) of those from the hedges etc.

That Greek word has a significance that a bare invitation, with its helpless RSVP notice, simply doesn't have.

God gets what He wants. He's not some guy hoping for a good turnout at his party, but the Almight Lord of Hosts, who is obeyed even by the winds and the sea.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Upon reflection, I recognize that my comment above about the SN could be taken as insult, which is not how I intended it. If people are taking it that way, I want to be clear that I retract it as such, and just point out that Theos is the name of God in Greek, and consequently should not be taken lightly.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Several times.

Well that's super and commendable. So have I. Except the question wasn't directed to you. :-)

That least "or" obviously should be an "and," which makes some difference.

RdP wasn't quoting the KJV. RdP was quoting the Douay-Rheims by copy and paste. It seems that the KJV translators followed it rather closely, wouldn't you agree?

Non sequitur. The fact of a command does not imply God's assistance in obeying the command.

Please show me where I said there was a command.

-- RdP

Reginald de Piperno said...

I would also say that "and" rather than "or" strengthens my view of the passage.

I would also point out that Paul says he is going to declare to them he whom they worship in ignorance: namely, our God.

But they cannot worship God at all except by grace, can they?

So I remain convinced of what I said earlier about this passage, Rom. 10:2, and about the Pope's message quoted in the post: there is no inconsistency between them, and the Pope's message explicitly acknowledges that God's grace enables man to seek him.

Peace,

RdP

Turretinfan said...

Several times.
Well that's super and commendable. So have I. Except the question wasn't directed to you. :-)


Plainly. Nevertheless, since that seemed to be your standard ...

That least "or" obviously should be an "and," which makes some difference.

RdP wasn't quoting the KJV. RdP was quoting the Douay-Rheims by copy and paste. It seems that the KJV translators followed it rather closely, wouldn't you agree?


The Rheims NT was around during the translation of the KJV, but the KJV's primary English text was the Bishop's Bible, not the RNT.

The reason for the difference here is between the reading of the Vulgate Latin and the original Greek - the Latin erroneously reading "or" where the Greek reads "and." Incidentally, before you try to defend the Reformation era Vulgate, the Nova Vulgata promulgated by the authority of JP2 returns the Vulgate to the Greek original by substituting (among a myriad of corrections) an "et" here where there was an "aut."

Non sequitur. The fact of a command does not imply God's assistance in obeying the command.

Please show me where I said there was a command.


You did not say there was a command. You did not provide any reasoning for your non sequitur, you just jumped. Considering that - in context - Paul is talking about a command (vs. 30), I gave you the benefit of the doubt that you meant to refer to "intended" in some sort of preceptive sense. I suppose instead it could be some sort of double-non-sequitur, in which you extract an intent from the context according to whim and then jump from this whimsically selected intent to "clearly God must have done such-and-such."

I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, though. If I misread your position (I noticed that you didn't actually deny that it was your position), please accept my apologies.

I would also say that "and" rather than "or" strengthens my view of the passage.

That mostly suggests that your view of the passage never came from the passage in the first place. Perhaps you'll grant me that.

I would also point out that Paul says he is going to declare to them he whom they worship in ignorance: namely, our God.

Paul is just being rhetorical. They had an altar "to the unknown god." He was using that as a rhetorical anchor for his discussion. As Paul said, God is not worshiped with works of men's hands, as though he needed something. They didn't know or truly worship the one true God. They were just extremely superstitious, and were trying to cover their bets as consistent polytheists.

But they cannot worship God at all except by grace, can they?

They didn't worship God at all, because they did not know God. God was not in all their thoughts. They didn't know God: they set up a superstitious altar to appease any god they might have omitted from their polytheistic celebrations.

So I remain convinced of what I said earlier about this passage, Rom. 10:2, and about the Pope's message quoted in the post: there is no inconsistency between them, and the Pope's message explicitly acknowledges that God's grace enables man to seek him.

I jumped in, not to question that anything good must come from grace, but to criticize the suggestion that God gives grace in some sort of universal automatic way.

The more upsetting term from the Pope's message is the use of "primordial human openness" but perhaps that is simply an error in translation.

One would think no word could more address man's nature than "primordial," and no word could more strongly suggest natural ability than that word, short of explicitly saying "by nature."

Salvation in Jesus through adherence to Buddhism/Hinduism/Shintoism etc. is contra-scriptural nonsense.

There is only one way to be saved: by repentance and faith in Christ. The "sincere practice of what is good in [one's] own religious traditions and [the following] the dictates of [one's] own conscience" is not an acceptable sacrifice to God, just as the altar to the unknown god was not a pleasing sacrifice, and just as Cain's offering was not a pleasing sacrifice.

There is only one sacrifice that God accepts: Christ. The one way to be saved is to repent of one's sins and seize that sacrifice by faith, throwing oneself on the mercy of Christ presented in the Gospel.

-Turretinfan

Mike Burgess said...

TF:
"Paul is just being rhetorical. They had an altar "to the unknown god." He was using that as a rhetorical anchor for his discussion. As Paul said, God is not worshiped with works of men's hands, as though he needed something. They didn't know or truly worship the one true God. They were just extremely superstitious, and were trying to cover their bets as consistent polytheists."

Please prove these assertions. Prove them from Scripture, please. The inspired language of Luke's record of Paul's words are what you have to go on, and you are making some mighty big assumptions about what the Holy Spirit wanted conveyed.

Backing up, TF also said:

"And this is the final nail in the coffin: the "grace" so-called is ineffectual. Apparently, under this view, God is great that he can foreordain the appointed times and the earthly bounds of men's habitations, but he cannot determine the times of their conversion, or the bounds of their eternal habitations. He can (in this erroneous view) provide a general enabling grace, but not an effectual grace: a grace that renders savable, but not a grace that actually saves."

Apparently, the Calvinist God is only sovereign enough to do things your way. He apparently, in His immediate and eternal Being, to Whom all things are present at once, has to have succession in Himself so that your ordo salutis will work.

Apparently He also was only sovereign with regard to man; Lucifer was, it would seem, out of control. Or, conversely, if God created Lucifer with the will intrinsic to personal beings, and reflects His own glory in allowing that first fall in allowing that first withdrawal from fellowship and life, He can presumably (since He in fact did) reflect His own glory by providing sufficient grace which acts as efficient grace in those who will believe and providing sufficient grace which will remain ineffectual in those who continue in their rebellion.

Turretinfan said...

MB:

"Paul is just being rhetorical. They had an altar "to the unknown god." He was using that as a rhetorical anchor for his discussion. As Paul said, God is not worshiped with works of men's hands, as though he needed something. They didn't know or truly worship the one true God. They were just extremely superstitious, and were trying to cover their bets as consistent polytheists."

Please prove these assertions. Prove them from Scripture, please. The inspired language of Luke's record of Paul's words are what you have to go on, and you are making some mighty big assumptions about what the Holy Spirit wanted conveyed.


I provided Scriptural basis for the interpretation. To provide the level of Scriptural exposition required to establish the use of rhetoric and ways to recognize it would take far more time and place than I have available.

But your demand for "proof" suggests you're missing the point. The interpretation/explanation of the passage was simply provided to rebut the interpretation/explanation provided. But interestingly, you already noted that I did provide Scriptural support:

Backing up, TF also said:

"And this is the final nail in the coffin: the "grace" so-called is ineffectual. Apparently, under this view, God is great that he can foreordain the appointed times and the earthly bounds of men's habitations, but he cannot determine the times of their conversion, or the bounds of their eternal habitations. He can (in this erroneous view) provide a general enabling grace, but not an effectual grace: a grace that renders savable, but not a grace that actually saves."

Apparently, the Calvinist God is only sovereign enough to do things your way. He apparently, in His immediate and eternal Being, to Whom all things are present at once, has to have succession in Himself so that your ordo salutis will work.


a) The first sentence there is just inane. It's only connection to the discussion is its recognition that the present author is properly labelled a "Calvinist."

b) Of course, Calvinists deny that God has succession in himself. Its unclear whether you are unaware of that, or whether you attempting to make some sort of argument for inconsistency.

c) "Ordo Salutis" is a reference, normally, to how God saves men - and consequently has to do with God's activity toward timebound, succession-experiencing men.

d) Possibly instead of "ordo salutis" you meant order of decrees - who knows. The Order of decrees, however, is a logical, not temporal order. So, even that would be an invalid support for the claim.

Apparently He also was only sovereign with regard to man; Lucifer was, it would seem, out of control. Or, conversely, if God created Lucifer with the will intrinsic to personal beings, and reflects His own glory in allowing that first fall in allowing that first withdrawal from fellowship and life, He can presumably (since He in fact did) reflect His own glory by providing sufficient grace which acts as efficient grace in those who will believe and providing sufficient grace which will remain ineffectual in those who continue in their rebellion.

a) No, the devil and his angels are not out of control. Why anyone would get that impression of Reformed theology is mind-boggling.

b) The connection between God permitting the fall of Lucifer and God supposedly giving the grace arrangement you propose is nill. This is a non sequitur, much like RdP's earlier non sequitur where he went from "intended" to God giving everybody grace.

It seems apparent what you'd like the result to be, but it doesn't seem you are able to provide a bridge from your premise to the conclusion so that we can follow along with you and join you on the other side.

On the other hand, likewise, it should be noted that the question is not primarily whether God could give inefficient grace to some and efficient grace to others. Instead, the question is whether God's saving grace is sufficient (in a philosophical sense) to effect its intended end, or whether something must be added to that grace in order for the grace to be efficient.

-Turretinfan

Mike Burgess said...

TF:
"I provided Scriptural basis for the interpretation."

Apparently I missed it; self-reference in definition is fallacious, and that's all I saw. Please point out your Scriptural references for me which establish
A)Paul was being rhetorical
B)The pagans who erected the altar to the unknown God did not worship God
C)That those who erected the altar were one and the same as those who erected altars to Artemis, Apollo, Zeus, etc. and were thus polytheists.

It would be getting a little far afield if we started discussing the views of the philosophers who quite often spoke of a singular God and treated the Greek myths as just that, but that's the context of the Areopagus discourse Paul gave and which Luke recorded in words divinely inspired, clearly indicating that they did worship God, not that they did not worship God. Again, you're ignoring other Pauline context, as RdP has already pointed out.

TF:
"The first sentence there is just inane. It's only connection to the discussion is its recognition that the present author is properly labelled a 'Calvinist.'"

No, the firast sentence there is sarcasm. Its connection to the discussion is to point out, by way of apogogical argument, that you are arbitrarily limiting the very sovereignty you strive to uphold. It isn't my fault if you can't or didn't extrapolate that.

TF:
"Of course, Calvinists deny that God has succession in himself. Its unclear whether you are unaware of that, or whether you attempting to make some sort of argument for inconsistency."

Inconsistency.

TF:
"'Ordo Salutis' is a reference, normally, to how God saves men - and consequently has to do with God's activity toward timebound, succession-experiencing men... Possibly instead of 'ordo salutis' you meant order of decrees - who knows. The Order of decrees, however, is a logical, not temporal order. So, even that would be an invalid support for the claim."

You asserted that God's decree and the accompanying grace of initial justification are not only sufficient, but necessarily efficient and that the bestowal of grace is not universal, in other words, that there is no "potentially" saving grace (I leave aside common grace in the Reformed parlance). For this abbreviated format, I used the common appelation ordo salutis in just exactly the way you said it in the first sentence above: to refer to the way "God saves men." The a-temporal nature of God's saving is what is germane to the discussion. This is the element that you jettison when you insist that God cannot simultaneously eternally decree and effectuate and allow the free will of man to cooperate in the effectuation of initial justification. Pelagius jumped off one side of the tightrope, you jumped off the other.

TF:
"No, the devil and his angels are not out of control. Why anyone would get that impression of Reformed theology is mind-boggling."

A series of questions: is grace irresistible? Was Lucifer created in a state of grace? How is it possible that he disobeyed if grace is irresistible? What did he lose when he disobeyed? If not grace, the life and love of God, then what? How do you now justify the distinction among types of grace which every Reformed theologian I've ever read denies? Or are there different types of grace, some of which are resistible?

The careful reader can see that my comment was not a non-sequitir.

------- Theo ------- said...

Turretinfan , brother in Christ:

Regarding Jesus' parable of the wedding feast and the description of the invitation:

1) I was not paraphrasing, but quoting from the NIV.

2) The first aorist active imperative of αναγκάστε is as easily translated "urge" or "make earnest effort" as it is "compel." I see the former more supported by the context than the latter.

Regardless your translation would not alter obvious lessons in Jesus' story: that one can refuse salvation as did those who refused their invitations; and that one can still refuse it, even when urged or "compelled" as did the guest who refused to alter his state when invited--even though he showed up as an invited (or compeled if it suits you) guest of the Master to the feast. This is plain in the language itself and the entire context of the sermon.

Jesus warns us against turning away from grace because we can. There would be no point of his warning otherwise.

I'm sure you and I also look at the subject of election as presented in Romans chapter 11 differently. What I see is that if the vine fails to produce fruit (which is its purpose), God is pleased to graft in another. God is just as pleased to graft in yet another vine if the grafted fails. These depend as much on the performance of the vine as upon the master of the Vineyards.

To be elect is no more a guarantee of fruitfulness after the graft to the elected than it is for the grafted vine. To me and many other rational followers of Christ it seems that one must jump through hoops in order to conclude otherwise.

Finally, Catholic Christianity is not Pelagian (semi or otherwise.) That issue was settled at the Council of Orange. We are NOT Calvinists either, but this surprises nobody.

Humbly submitted by your servant and brother in Christ,

--Theo

________________________

PS

Turretinfan also wrote, "I'm not crazy about SN's like "Theo" "Deus" "God" "Allah," or "Jesus," though I recognize that sometimes parents name their kids in unusual ways."

Theo is short for Theodulos: "Slave of God." I pray you do not also find "Theodore" an offensive name. I'm not "crazy" about naming someone "Jesus" myself, but I would not think of pointing this out in a response to someone so named, nor do I fathom what relevance it has. I'm glad you were not trying to be insulting, as you say--but I am curious: what were you trying to be?

--Theo (not "Theos")

------- Theo ------- said...

Mike, my brother in Christ:

As usual, you make excellent points, all. Something that particularly caught my eye: "...is grace irresistible? Was Lucifer created in a state of grace? How is it possible that he disobeyed if grace is irresistible? What did he lose when he disobeyed?"

I have also focused on Adam and Eve relative to this question. Given that Christendom universally holds they first lived in the garden in a state of Grace; and given that it was by definition Adam’s sin (not God's) that the fall came to us all, then obviously the grace they enjoyed was not irresistible. Adam resisted it.

TF (I think) insinuated that the purpose of grace (unmerited favor) is confined to salvation. Most of Christendom disagrees, believing more than one purpose: e.g. one purpose of grace is also to make access to God possible and another is to allow our purification (sanctification).

Thus, I add two follow-up questions to yours:

1) What was the purpose of the grace that Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall?

2) If it was only “salvation” then is God a failure?

Your brother in Christ,
--Theo

Mike Burgess said...

Theo,
Your kind comments are appreciated, and your inferences and follow up questions are exactly where I hoped my post would lead the rational reader to go, because, as RdP has pointed out on his most recent post (and I, in my way, and Fr. Kimel more eloquently in the comments) the issues are critical.

When one declares that God cannot possibly limit Himself in the effectuation of salvation because He is thereby opening Himself up to the possibility of having His will thwarted, one misses the incomprehensibility of the Triune God, and eliminates the mystery from the matter. This is to border on fashioning a God in one's own image, it seems to me. This, I would posit, is mental idolatry, a worshipping without anything made by hands but entirely in the spirit of that error, nonetheless.

Carrie said...

Apparently I missed it; self-reference in definition is fallacious, and that's all I saw. Please point out your Scriptural references for me which establish
A)Paul was being rhetorical
B)The pagans who erected the altar to the unknown God did not worship God
C)That those who erected the altar were one and the same as those who erected altars to Artemis, Apollo, Zeus, etc. and were thus polytheists.


I am still missing the logic behind the Catholic argument. Where are the scriptural references which establish:
A)Paul was not being rhetorical
B)The pagans who erected the altar to the unknown God did worship God
C)That those who erected the altar were not one and the same as those who erected altars to Artemis, Apollo, Zeus, etc. and were thus polytheists.

There seems to be an assumption here that all who are monotheists are being moved by grace. What is the scriptural evidence? The Athenians were clearly polytheists so Acts 17 isn’t going to work.

And is it just monotheists that are being moved by grace or all theists? How about Muslim terrorists killing in the name of Allah– moved by grace? Baal worshippers? Mormons, JWs, Moonies? Where are you all drawing the line?

Mike Burgess said...

Carrie:
"I am still missing the logic behind the Catholic argument. Where are the scriptural references which establish:
A)Paul was not being rhetorical
B)The pagans who erected the altar to the unknown God did worship God
C)That those who erected the altar were not one and the same as those who erected altars to Artemis, Apollo, Zeus, etc. and were thus polytheists."

In re: A)Romans 10:2, 10:18 (citation of Psalm 19)
In re: B)Acts 17:23
In re: C)Acts 17:18;
It seems remarkably clear from the context (Stoics were a monotheist variety of panentheists; Epicureans derided the influence of the gods such that they often followed the usage of their contemporaries by referring to "God" in the singular) that Paul is addressing them. To him, as is clear from other context(1 Corinthians 10:14-33), the pantheon was unreal, but the idols men fashioned represent not gods but demons. Here, however, he makes a distinction, and a crucial one. They "worship" "God". He does not say they worship demons and say they worship God. He does not acknowledge that they worship Artemis, Apollo, Hermes, Hera, Hephaestos, etc. The record we have is clear. What is confusing you about this? Or were you, too, being sarcastic?

Mike Burgess said...

Carrie:
"There seems to be an assumption here that all who are monotheists are being moved by grace. What is the scriptural evidence? The Athenians were clearly polytheists so Acts 17 isn’t going to work."

Addressed (in part) above. Additionally, as I said, St. Paul cited Psalm 19 with its universal language describing the witness God maintains of Himself in natural theology, something some Protestants, particularly Reformed Protestants, deny. (Interestingly, I have found many of them are inconsistent when they then cite Romans 1:18 in discussions of universal total depravity. I digress.) My point to you is this, Carrie: are you insinuating that natural man can come up with a monotheistic view of God apart from grace?

You raise an intersting question with regard to the sort-of Arian JW's and the Mormons. With regard to the former, I suppose if you're viewing things on a continuum, they're closer to the center. (I'm not saying I do or don't, just illustrating.) There are heretics who are venerated as saints. With regard to the Mormons, there's a huge can of worms, because, like Protestants (and Catholics, for that matter), there are a plethora of individual "theologies" in their communities. Ba'alists? I haven't met any. But it seems pretty clear they were not monotheists but rather exclusionists. You guys are fond of counting Cathars/Albigenses and many others as supposedly Christians who witness to the secret remnant church under persecution, what do you think?

Carrie said...

The record we have is clear. What is confusing you about this? Or were you, too, being sarcastic?

No, I am serious. Your viewpoint makes no sense to me. As if people couldn't have a single idol.

I have to look at your scripture references before I can reply, but just so I am clear, are you saying that all monotheists are being drawn by God's grace and that somehow gives them a leg up? Likewise, any form of polytheism is...out of luck?

Can the Hindi follow the "dictates of his conscience" and possibly attain salvation, or is his polytheism a sign that he is not being drawn by God's grace? And are Atheist's a lost cause?

Seriously, I am trying to not only understand the logic but the point of it all. To me, you are either a child of God or you are not. If you are not, then you need Christ. Sheep or goat. Wide gate or narrow gate. Good fruit or bad fruit. I don't see that gray you are seeing in scripture.

Mike Burgess said...

Carrie, I gave you a perfectly clear set of Scriptural antecedents. I will cite them in full now to save you time.
("In re: A)Romans 10:2, 10:18 (citation of Psalm 19)
In re: B)Acts 17:23
In re: C)Acts 17:18")

Romans 10:2 -
"For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." (I'll use the NKJV)

Romans 10:18 -
"But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: 'Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.'"

This verse quotes Psalm 19:4, so here is 19:1-4 for context:
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."

Acts 17:22-24 (for completion)
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: 'TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands."

Acts 17:18 --
Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?”
Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

This is the "clear record" to which I referred.

Now, are you saying that unregenerate man can formulate many correct beliefs about God, then? His Oneness, chiefly? Apart from grace, that is? I am saying, with the Psalmist and Paul, that God established a natural order and, after man's disobedience brought death into the world and removed man from the life and fellowship he enjoyed before the Fall, He did not leave Himself without a witness. Furthermore,

'And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:26-31

On a tangential note, what do you make of "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked" in verse 30?

Mike Burgess said...

Carrie:
"As if people couldn't have a single idol."

Of course, the passage speaks of an altar, not an idol. Sacrifices were made on altars, to gods (often in the form of idols, but not necessarily). This altar was erected so people could sacrifice to the one God the Stoics, among other Greek philosophers, were "groping toward that they might find him." Paul says so in inspired words. TF has yet to demonstrate his gratuitous assertion about "rhetorical" speech.

Carrie:
"... but just so I am clear, are you saying that all monotheists are being drawn by God's grace and that somehow gives them a leg up?"

Yes. Seen much success among the Hindus? Speaking of which,

Carrie:
"Likewise, any form of polytheism is...out of luck? Can the Hindi follow the 'dictates of his conscience' and possibly attain salvation, or is his polytheism a sign that he is not being drawn by God's grace?"

Non sequitir. It is obviously advantageous to start from a monotheistic point, because it requires much less effort as far as evangelization is concerned. This does not negate that God's grace is present for all men everywhere, monotheistic, polytheistic, or atheistic, to bring them to the Triune God.

I think that you may be presuming, because of certain phrases here and there in various documents and speeches and letters and whatnot, that the Church has the position that God never makes Christ explicitly known to the ones He has drawn to Himself who cooperate unto faith, as Romans 3:23ff (which you posted initially) make it clear we need. We may not ever see that explicit faith. We may not ever hear them utter the confession "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!" He may give them a special, immediate revelation and a-temporally work out His decree in an interior way at their last moment. Just because there is no explicit statement affirming this or some similar process or action, doesn't mean that it is not in the mind of the Church. The Church is Christ's Bride. He is Her Head, and She is not separate from Him. He will present Her spotless.

This brings me to another point: the God Who holds all things together by His word and is at work reconciling all things to Himself.

Colossians 1:9-23.

Carrie said...

Mike,

I don't have time right now to address your scriptures, but I will try to get back to them. You are making some huge leaps and your arguments are far from convincing.

Let me just make a few short comments...

Now, are you saying that unregenerate man can formulate many correct beliefs about God, then? His Oneness, chiefly? Apart from grace, that is?

Define "correct". Demons have many "correct beliefs" about God (James 2:19) so I am not impressed by that fact.

Yes, I believe that there are monotheists, some even who use the name of "Christ", who are unregenerate and worshipping their own God. We are not grading on a scale here, either you know the one true God or you don't. And if God is calling you, he is calling you to Christ. If you don't know Christ, you know a false god.

Of course, the passage speaks of an altar, not an idol.

As if an altar is any different??

"Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God." Lev 26:1

This altar was erected so people could sacrifice to the one God the Stoics, among other Greek philosophers, were "groping toward that they might find him." Paul says so in inspired words.

You cannot prove that assertion from the text. You are stringing together the information and drawing conclusions that can't be drawn and in fact, work against what the text actually says.

It is obviously advantageous to start from a monotheistic point, because it requires much less effort as far as evangelization is concerned. This does not negate that God's grace is present for all men everywhere, monotheistic, polytheistic, or atheistic, to bring them to the Triune God.

I'm not talking about evangelistic talking points. I am trying to understand what advantage the monotheist has over the polytheists as far as salvation from the Catholic POV.

We may not ever see that explicit faith. We may not ever hear them utter the confession "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!"

There is no biblical support for this idea, this is the issue.

Carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Burgess said...

Carrie,
Jean Danielou made a very cogent argument in "God and the Ways of Knowing" along the lines I (and others) are making with you now. It's available fairly cheaply on various outlets.

In it, he makes a very striking point: Noah, Enoch, Melchizedech (the priest of El Elyon from Canaan), Lot, and Job are all strangers from the covenant God established with Israel who nevertheless offer Him right worship -- sacrifice, even sacrifice for others' sake -- and stand as witnesses that God did not leave the Gentiles, but rather that He called them into fellowship as well, eventually in the consummation of the New and Everlasting covenant.

Melchizedech, whose name means "king of righteousness" and is most probably a reference to the Canaanite god Zedek, set up a stone. He offered bread and wine. Job, the "righteous man" set up a stone, and he made offerings on his own and his sons' behalf. Lot was the righteous man God called out of the region of Sodom and Gomorrah. Enoch "walked with God" and then "was not" because God took him. (Interestingly, Hebrews 11:5 follows the Septuagint's rendering of Genesis 5:18 by saying Enoch "pleased God" and "was not found.")

Anyway, the objection most often made is that these men had special revelation. No doubt; God can do that. They lived before the New Covenant. No doubt; the Gospel has not gone out to every tongu, tribe, and nation yet. The Great Commission has not been fulfilled and the harvest is not yet in. If, in the meantime, God wishes to draw men to Himself despite their sinfulness and "work all things for the good of them that love Him and are called according to His purpose," I think we would do well to redouble our evangelistic efforts for His glory. All truth is His; whatever residual truth remains is His to use. Those who are evil do not give a serpent to the child who asks for a meal. This is by grace, because He loves what He created. He did not create out of hate.

Reginald de Piperno said...

We are not grading on a scale here, either you know the one true God or you don't.

Again: St. Paul says that the Jews had zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:2).

They denied Christ. They denied the Trinity.

How is it possible that they had zeal for the true God? By grace, right?

And yet they were not Christians.

Peace,

RdP

Turretinfan said...

There are several things floating around:

1) Do infidels worship the true God?

Answer: no. (apparently disputed by some of the Catholics here)

2) Why do infidels worship the true God?

Answer: See (1), but for the Catholics, the answer is: "grace" since they give a different answer to (1).

3) If the answer to (2) is "grace," why did the pope use the term "primordial"?

Answer: There's really no answer to this question from the Catholic side - at least no clear answer that I can find.

I appreciate MB's challenge to prove (1) to him. I already provided a Scriptural explanation for that ("As Paul said, God is not worshiped with works of men's hands, as though he needed something."). I realize that such an explanation probably doesn't satisfy him. On the other hand, I'm not sure what explanation would satisfy him.

It seems to me that when I state something he claims he wants "proof," but when Carrie asks him for proof, he responds by simply citing marginally (at best) related alleged proof texts.

Oh well.

Theodoulos,

1) "I was not paraphrasing, but quoting from the NIV."

I didn't mean to suggest that the paraphrase was your own work. The NIV's translation methodology often results in paraphrased readings. This is not an exception.

2) "The first aorist active imperative of αναγκάστε is as easily translated "urge" or "make earnest effort" as it is "compel." I see the former more supported by the context than the latter."

a) No. That's not the case.

b) But my saying so may not convince you. Consider that even the NIV with its paraphrastic tendencies translates the relevant Greek word as "make" not "urge."

c) Or perhaps you don't trust the NIV translators. Check all the other English translations. All the major literal translations will say: "constrain," "compel," or "make." If there are any that say "urge," they are hard to find. I think even the New Jerusalem Bible uses the term "press," and the NAB uses "make."

d) But, then again, maybe you don't like English. Maybe you are an old-school Catholic that likes Latin (I seriously doubt it, but play along). In that case, you'll find that the Vulgate (in every variety, even in the Nova Vulgata promulgated by JP2) uses the Latin word that is the cognate for the English word "compell."

QED

"Theo is short for Theodulos: "Slave of God." I pray you do not also find "Theodore" an offensive name."

Nope, nor Michael, but I'd think it in appropriate for Michael to go by 'El. "Ted" and "Teddy" are some popular nicknames for Theodore, that (like "Mike") wouldn't touch my pet peeve of treating God's name with respect.

I understand the nickname, but I don't like it. I think it's important to treat the names of God with respect.

Again, though, I did not mean to be insulting as to your name, which is why I (without prompting) tried to provide some clarification.

-Turretinfan

Mike Burgess said...

TF:
"It seems to me that when I state something he claims he wants "proof," but when Carrie asks him for proof, he responds by simply citing marginally (at best) related alleged proof texts."

I don't think I've ever had anyone be so blatantly dismissive. No, wait. There's James Swan and James White on the "Catholic E-pologetic Methodology #3" thread. There was that, I'll grant.

"...simply citing marginally related alleged proof texts"? This is really below you. You're a smart guy; I've said so before. People don't read Turretin for funsies. You can do better. Put something up on your blog detailing how you know Paul was being rhetorical. Or don't. "Oh well."

You guys are pretty good at tag-team, though... so you've got that going for you. Which is nice. (HT: Carl the Greenskeeper.)

Mike Burgess said...

TF:
"3) If the answer to (2) is 'grace,' why did the pope use the term 'primordial'?"

Read the quote:

"…It must first be kept in mind that every quest of the human spirit for truth and goodness, and in the last analysis for God, is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The various religions arose precisely from this primordial human openness to God. At their origins we often find founders who, with the help of God’s Spirit, achieved a deeper religious experience. Handed on to others, this experience took form in the doctrines, rites and precepts of the various religions."

God built the world and the men in it. He leaves Himself many witnesses, even despite the Fall. He does not retreat into some Deist stance, a la Jefferson's God. "Every quest... for God... is inspired by the Holy Spirit." This is the immediate antecedent to "primordial." How you can then say "There's really no answer to this question from the Catholic side - at least no clear answer that I can find." is beyond me. You already have your answer. Where in the Old or New Testament does it say God stops drawing Gentiles to Himself? Noone here asserts that He will effectually draw all to Himself salvifically. I don't think you'll find much support for Balthasar's theory. You certainly won't find it officially.

Turretinfan said...

Mike,

Doesn't the Catholic church still teach the doctrine of Creation?

If so, how does man's ability being from God imply that it is grace rather than nature?

Inspired by the Spirit: isn't that how the creation of Adam is described? God breathed the breath of life into him?

When I read the paragraph, it looks like the PM is saying the religions arose because:

1) men have natural ("primordial") openness to God; and
2) God somehow assisted religious leaders to give the various religions a kick start.

Of course, we - Reformed - would view that kick start by God as a curse, not a blessing, because we believe that salvation only comes through the faith in Christ by the preaching of the gospel.

Thus, we would not consider such a kick start "grace," while the PM certainly may think so (though I don't believe he explicitly says so).

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

TF, in the text of the address, the late Pope is explicit that John 1:9 is among the passages he is citing in support.

The whole passage reads:

"1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

TF said:
"[H]ow does man's ability being from God imply that it is grace rather than nature?"

A)which ability?
B)the short answer is because God graciously created. The immediate follow-up question to you is, "What is grace?"

TF said:
"Inspired by the Spirit: isn't that how the creation of Adam is described? God breathed the breath of life into him?"

Yes. Did Adam persevere in Eden? Did he immediately "dying, die?" at the Fall?

I haven't seen the original text of the Audience, only the English translation; however, it seems fairly reasonable to conclude that "primordial" (from primus + ordiri, i.e. "first" + "beginning") means not "natural," but "of initial origin, from the beginning." If we lost our "primordial openness to God" at the Fall, there would be no possibility of rehabilitation, reconciliation, revivification, etc. Grace doesn't destroy nature, it perfects it. You aren't suggesting that the unregenerate are not human, are you?

Mike Burgess said...

Sorry, I left out the last thing I meant to incude above:

TF said:
"Of course, we - Reformed - would view that kick start by God as a curse, not a blessing, because we believe that salvation only comes through the faith in Christ by the preaching of the gospel."

The prompting of the Spirit which has occasionally resulted in man's creation of various religions can function as both a blessing and as a curse.

The ultimate point is that of Gaudium et Spes.

"[S]ince Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of coming into contact, in a way known to God, with the paschal mystery."

Obviously, we -- Catholics -- reject the narrow construction put on 1 Timothy 2:4, inter alia.

In exactly the same way that you insist that you do not limit God's sovereignty by positing the doctrine of limited atonement, so we insist that we do not limit His sovereignty by affirming that He desires all men to be saved. His will is not thwarted simply because not all men do eventually get saved. His desire and his decreed will are distinct and often inscrutable, except when He chooses to reveal them to us. We'll likely continue to disagree, as I have come to view the Reformed tergiversations (in Turretin, et alia) regarding "panta," and so forth, as unconvincing in the context of the whole of Scripture, and I reject any contradiction with passages from Ezekiel 34, Jeremiah 31, etc., etc., etc.

Turretinfan said...

"the short answer is because God graciously created."

That's the perfect defense for Pelagianism (actual Pelagianism, not Catholic doctrine). We don't have all of Pelagius' writings, but it would be interesting to see if he ever used that kind of argument to defend his positon of man's natural goodness.

As you seem to be aware, the objection is that the Pelagian who would make such a defense simply has no idea what grace is.

"His will is not thwarted simply because not all men do eventually get saved."

If His will is that "all men would eventually get saved" and if "not all men do eventually get saved" then his will is thwarted, or the word "thwart" just has zero meaning.

QED

-Turretinfan

Mike Burgess said...

Finitum non capax infinitum, but that is what God made happen; but that renders both words without meaning.

Life-giving spirit just does not mean human being, or neither one has any meaning.

Water just does not mean wine or neither word has any real meaning.

QED. You can appeal to mystery (while essentially eliminating it) but we can't. Gotcha.

In re: Pelagianism, you culled a nice sound-bite. Answer my question: what is grace?

Mike Burgess said...

I excluded something just now, but upon reflection, I will bring it into the discussion because it illustrates an important point.

Your rejection of the distinction between God's "desire" to save all men and His will, even if we concede that language change from 1 Tim 2:4 for the sake of argument, has the result of making God the author of sin. I am well aware what Westminster says about libery thereby being established, and so on. If, however, God did not "will" for all men to be saved and if He did not create so as to provide a means whereby that could happen, then He must have created them and actively withdrawn His grace so that the deprivation of His life and love and being left to their fallen nature would no longer be by their will and free choice but by His alone. This, as you know, runs counter to the Scriptures and the Fathers, and I do not believe you believe it or teach it. I admit you affirm man's responsibility for his condition and for the sin which predicated it.

Turretinfan said...

There's nothing mysterious about the logical self-contradiction of your position. Your position isn't Molinism or Thomism. It's something else, in which God gets thwarted, but we pretend he doesn't.

In very general terms, grace is unmerited favor from God (cf. CCC 1996). The grace of God is manifested in that he freely provides and offers to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promises and gives his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.

As for the "author of Sin" charge, please feel free to explain why you think that's a bad thing, and how you think it is different from the position set forth in CCC 310 and 312.

-Turretinfan

Mike Burgess said...

"The Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of coming into contact with the paschal mystery."

This could not be any plainer a rejection of Pelagianism or semi-pelagianism, TF. In the first place, it is the Holy Spirit who is calling men. In the second place, He is the Lord, the Giver of life, natural and supernatural. In the third place, He is calling them into contact with the Pasch, with Christ and Him crucified. None of this asserts what Pelagius did; he was quite frank that men went to him in the natural will without grace and by their own efforts were perfectly able to do so.

Mike Burgess said...

My position is not Molinism, about that you are correct. I feel fairly confident that I am a consistent Thomist. Perhaps you know better. I gladly state that Fr. William Most's work in this regard has influenced me greatly, and I do not believe this impinges on my labelling myself a Thomist. I'd be happy to provide you a detailed and quite time-consuming reply to your queries about the CCC paragraphs you mentioned citing the references that are listed thereunder and then some.

Turretinfan said...

"The Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of coming into contact with the paschal mystery."

"This could not be any plainer a rejection of Pelagianism or semi-pelagianism, TF."

You're kidding, right?

Pelagius could have eagerly assented to that, since simply offering something leaves man unassisted to pull himself up by his own bootstraps.

-Turretinfan

Mike Burgess said...

It is not something to which Pelagius did assent, he was explicit that man did not need grace, did not need the Holy Spirit.

Turretinfan said...

Even if he said man did not need the Holy Spirit (and I don't specifically recall that, but perhaps you are more familiar with Pelagius' work than I am), that does not mean that he denied that the Holy Spirit offered various things: things man could grasp unaided.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

I have to leave for a bit; I'll come back to this later tonight or tomorrow.

------- Theo ------- said...

TF: Brother in Christ.

As I already stated, even were we to take "compelled" as sacrosanct, it does not change the applicability of the parable to the issue. We still have those who were invited refuse to come and one who was forced, pressed, compelled, made or downright dragged to the feast is subsequently rejected based upon his deportment subsequent to his obeying the call. This is true regardless of whatever language you or I like or whether we say "coerced" or "invited."

Your "QED" fails, leaving a few errata not only undemonstrated but plainly denied.


Regarding my name, please note that "Theo" is not Theos. Nether is "Thos" Theos, and regardless without the definite article, “ho theos" even "theos" is usually not God (capital G). Regardless I ask you again, why mention it at all? Do you walk up to people named Jesus and tell them you do not like their name? I suggest that you do not try this at home--or anywhere in New York City.

There's an old maxim: The man who is kind to his date but is not kind to their waiter is not kind.

May God bless you in growth in imitation of Jesus our Lord in whose grace I remain,
Your humble servant and brother,
--Theo

Mike Burgess said...

Canon 113 of Carthage is most germane to the discussion we were havong earlier. The canon says:

That without the grace of God we can do no good thing.

It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema. For the Lord spake concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: “Without me ye can do nothing,” and not “Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.”

Notes.

Ancient Epitome of Canon CXIII.

Whoso preaches that without grace we could keep the commandments although with difficulty, is to be thrice execrated. For the Lord says, “Without me ye can do nothing.”


This is the position condemned, and it is the reaction of the Church (ratified properly) to Pelagius' teaching that Adam was bound to die naturally before the Fall and would have anyway, the denial of original sin, that infants did not need to be baptized since they did not inherit original sin, and that man, unaided by grace, could (albeit with more or less difficulty) remain sinless, since he was sinless from his inception even after the Fall.

Mike Burgess said...

While it is a good start for you to authoritatively cite the CCC on the definition of grace, you will no doubt (soon, if not already) concede that what you quoted is inexhaustive, most especially for our purpose herein; I will be specific: The idea that God looks favorably on someone is insufficient to conclude that thereby they are justified, sanctified, and ultimately saved. If you would like to make the case that "umerited favor" is sufficient, feel free. But you left out some crucial phraseology: grace is "favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to the call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life." This partaking of the divine nature is what was lost at the Fall. Natural man was not created simply natural man. Nevertheless, it is by God's design that natural man have an openness to God "from the first beginning," that is, primordially. If man did not retain that openness, as I said before, reconciliation would not have been possible. Angelic beings, due to their nature, it seems clear from the example of the devil and his angels, do not have the same constiuent openness, at least not in the same way. Their rebellion precluded reconciliation. The angels confirmed in obedience retained the openness they did have in whatever marvelous way we cannot adequately comprehend, but as to man, if he did not, the consequence is that man in his fallen nature is not man, in your view.

Turretinfan said...

MB:

1) Regional councils serve an important purpose, but they are not usually treated as infallible or binding on the consciences of all Catholics, as far as I've seen. Perhaps you're familiar with some part of canon law that would suggest otherwise?

2) I cited the CCC for purposes of comparison. I don't derive my doctrine from it. I derive my doctrine from Scripture (and I don't follow the canon of the Council of Carthage). I don't know whether you derive yours from it. It doesn't claim to be infallible, as far as I know.

3) You wrote: "The idea that God looks favorably on someone is insufficient to conclude that thereby they are justified, sanctified, and ultimately saved." We'd have to be way more specific about what type of favor God shows to someone. If God shows someone favor by choosing someone for union with Christ, then we could conclude that they consequently will be justified, sanctified, and glorified.

4) You wrote: "Natural man was not created simply natural man." That sounds like equivocation at best.

5) You wrote: "it is by God's design that natural man have an openness to God "from the first beginning," that is, primordially. If man did not retain that openness, as I said before, reconciliation would not have been possible ..." We (and Scripture) teach that natural man (since the Fall) is not open to God, but is the enemy of God. Grace is both required and able to overcome fallen human nature. No such grace has been given to the fallen angels, and the grace given to the elect angels is different (necessarily, since the elect angels are sinless). That seems to be a different doctrine than you have in mind.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

TF said:
"Regional councils serve an important purpose, but they are not usually treated as infallible or binding on the consciences of all Catholics, as far as I've seen."

Responses:
1) You need to stop citing II Orange.
2) You need to stop condemning Pelagianism, because the synod in question, ratified by Innocemt I is the definitive denunciation thereof. Your interpretive framework is no more valid than Pelagius' and Caelestius' was.

TF said:
" I cited the CCC for purposes of comparison. I don't derive my doctrine from it. I derive my doctrine from Scripture (and I don't follow the canon of the Council of Carthage). I don't know whether you derive yours from it. It doesn't claim to be infallible, as far as I know."

Responses:
1) No kidding. That was sarcasm. I know you didn't cite the CCC as if it were authoritative for you. You cited it selectively and misrepresented it at that. 2) You didn't provide a Scriptural basis for your definition of grace, either.
3) As I said just above, if you don't follow the canon of Carthage (c. 417- 420), and Innocent's ratification of Augustine's work is not authoritative, then you simply have your opinion (following later Scholastic and even later Reformation development of doctrine) to stand on. Simply saying "Scripture Scripture" does not mean anything anymore than when Arius said it.
4) It claims to be authoritative. If it were not, Pelagianism would still be permissible. It is not and even you recognize that and rely on these very authorities for doing so. Stop being inconsistent.

TF said:
"We'd have to be way more specific about what type of favor God shows to someone."

Response:

No kidding. That was the point of my query, and you just admitted that there is more to grace than your flimsy definition proffered above. A follow up question: what is evil?

TF said:
"If God shows someone favor by choosing someone for union with Christ, then we could conclude that they consequently will be justified, sanctified, and glorified."

We could, or we could follow St. Paul's words in Hebrews 6:4ff and see explicit denial of the P in TULIP. That's for another thread.

TF said:
"That sounds like equivocation at best."

Response:
Then you haven't been paying close enough attention to the implications of what I've been saying. Your anthropology determines your theology; my theology determines my anthropology.

TF said:
"We (and Scripture) teach that natural man (since the Fall) is not open to God, but is the enemy of God. Grace is both required and able to overcome fallen human nature."

Responses:
1) Which passages? Let's exegete and deduce "good and necessary consequences." Off the bat, let me say that God put enmity between the devil and the woman as well. Genesis 3:15ff. Enemies of the devil and enemies of God whom He still cared for and made an atoning sacrifice for. We can explore other passages as you feel inclined to bring them up.
2) Grace is required. Grace is able to overcome fallen human nature in that it restores human nature by adding God's life back to it, it restores fallen human nature to the estate for which it was created, which is not solely natural, but supernaturally endowed with fellowship with God and life in Him. If there were no longer an openness to Him and His life, then the addition of grace to man's fallen nature would be as the love of God is to the fallen angels because that is how God ordered it and He remains true to Himself.

Turretinfan said...

"1) You need to stop citing II Orange."

a) Why?
b) Have I done that recently?

"2) You need to stop condemning Pelagianism, because the synod in question, ratified by Innocemt I is the definitive denunciation thereof."

a) Why would I stop condemning Pelagianism just because Innocent I "ratified" a denunciation of it?

B) Who (today) really cares whether Innocent I ratified it, unless he was acting ex cathedra?

"Your interpretive framework is no more valid than Pelagius' and Caelestius' was."

a) If I was simply trying to score audience points, I could simply repeat that back to you. I don't see what the point of that would be.

b) "My interpretive framework?" Somehow I fear you don't have a perfectly clear picture what my interpretive framework is.

"1) No kidding. That was sarcasm. I know you didn't cite the CCC as if it were authoritative for you. You cited it selectively and misrepresented it at that."

a) Trying to distinguish between sarcasm and error is sometimes difficult.

b) I didn't represent it at all.

c) Citation is inherently selective, if it is to be helpful. It wouldn't be much use for me to cite: Cf. CCC.

"2) You didn't provide a Scriptural basis for your definition of grace, either."

True. I didn't. I certainly could, if I thought it was important to do so.

"3) As I said just above, if you don't follow the canon of Carthage (c. 417- 420), and Innocent's ratification of Augustine's work is not authoritative, then you simply have your opinion (following later Scholastic and even later Reformation development of doctrine) to stand on."

a) Please feel free to explain how that is materially any different than standing on your opinion regarding the trustworthiness of Innocent I and/or some regional council from a long time ago.

b) And, of course, it is not simply opinion floating in space. It is reasoned opinion founded in something truly infallible: Scripture.

"Simply saying "Scripture Scripture" does not mean anything anymore than when Arius said it."

a) Simply saying "counil council" does not mean anything more than when the Arian councils said it.

b) Athanasius was opposed to Arius firmly even before an ecumenical council spoke to the matter. Athanasius' emphasis was on "Scripture Scripture."

c) Arius' purported reliance on Scripture proves the uselessness of Scripture in just the same way that Hitler's reliance on tanks proves that tanks are uesless. In short: not at all. Just because a famous bad guy did something ...

"4) It claims to be authoritative. If it were not, Pelagianism would still be permissible. It is not and even you recognize that and rely on these very authorities for doing so. Stop being inconsistent."

a) "Authoriative" is one thing, and infallible is quite another. "Authoratitive" covers a broad spectrum. A parental command has authority, and so does that of one's boss. One doesn't hold councils of those that Carthage and Orange were, except to assert authority of some kind. The problem for you, not me, is that Carthage and Orange were not ecumenical councils. Their authority was (and still is) limited.

b) I reject Pelagianism on Scriptural grounds, not because the council of Orange rejected it. In fact, if someone established that the historical accounts are wrong, and Orange actually endorsed Pelagianism against Augustine, only my view of the orthodoxy of Orange would change. Apparently that is not the case for you, which is odd, I think.

c) I quote lots of sources without assuming that they are infallible. It's not inconsistent to quote sources that one thinks are fallible. If it were, one wonders how you'd ever answer the question, "What time is it?"

"No kidding. That was the point of my query, and you just admitted that there is more to grace than your flimsy definition proffered above. A follow up question: what is evil?"

a) It seems you are reading quite a lot more into my answers than I am putting in them.

b) Would you prefer me to address physical or moral evil?
"We could, or we could follow St. Paul's words in Hebrews 6:4ff and see explicit denial of the P in TULIP. That's for another thread."

a) The idea that the elect can perish is a concept that would be rejected not only by Calvin and Thomas Aquinas, but also even by Trent.

b) Some parts of Paul are hard to interpret, and certain people mess up in trying to interpret them. But, as you say, that does stray from the topic.

"Then you haven't been paying close enough attention to the implications of what I've been saying. Your anthropology determines your theology; my theology determines my anthropology."

Actually, your ecclesiology determines your theology, whereas my theology is derived directly from the best possible source: the Word of God.

"1) Which passages? Let's exegete and deduce "good and necessary consequences." Off the bat, let me say that God put enmity between the devil and the woman as well. Genesis 3:15ff. Enemies of the devil and enemies of God whom He still cared for and made an atoning sacrifice for. We can explore other passages as you feel inclined to bring them up."

I'm not sure what you're hoping to dispute: original sin?

"2) Grace is required. Grace is able to overcome fallen human nature in that it ..."

Which gets us back to the unfortunate(?) use of the term "primordial...." to describe something that is not natural to men born from Adam.

-Turretinfan

Mike Burgess said...

My point about your selective citation of the CCC was that you referred to a certain paragraph by way of comparison to support your definition of grace but when one checks the cross references paragraph, one finds that it does not compare favorably. That is misleading. "Grace is unearned favor, see the following definition from your own source for comparison" when "my own source" says that grace is not simply "favor" whether earned or not, is an improper tactic. I'm done belaboring that point.

Rather than derail the conversation to the point that it becomes ad hominem or offensive (and I hope that I have not been either of those to you), I want to redirect and focus on some issues by going ad fontes.

If you'll indulge me, I want to refer to some passages from some of the greatest defenders of orthodoxy upon whom we -- you and I -- rely for the standards by which we interpret the infallible Scriptures. I have chosen to pitch my tent with Irenaeus who learned from Polycarp who learned from John, Augustine, John Chrysostomos, and many others who were appointed to their role as teacher, pastor and often the fulness of the priesthood in the episcopate. I will no longer presume the reliability or authority of a lawyer from the Chablais region or an Augustinian monk profoundly influenced by nominalism.

With regard to much of the argument I have been making all along, I refer you to the following:

"At that time, therefore, God had given to man a good will, because in that will He had made him, since He had made him upright. He had given help without which he could not continue therein if he would; but that he should will, He left in his free will. He could therefore continue if he would, because the help was not wanting whereby he could and without which he could not, perseveringly hold fast the good which he would. But that he willed not to continue is absolutely the fault of him whose merit it would have been if he had willed to continue; as the holy angels did, who, while others fell by free will, themselves by the same free will stood, and deserved to receive the due reward of this continuance - namely such a fulness of blessing that by it they might have the fullest certainty of always abiding in it.
... Because by this grace of God there is caused in us, [emphasis added] in the reception of good and in the persevering hold of it, not only to be able to do what we will, but even to will to do what we are able. But this was not the case in the first man; for the one of these things was in him, but the other was not."
Augustine, On Grace and Free Will, Bk 11 Ch 32 (cited, as below also, in Willis, Teachings of the Church Fathers, #474)

"For creation is an attribute of the goodness of God; but to be created is that of human nature.
... The skill of God, therefore, is not defective, for He has the power [over] the stones to raise up children to Abraham;* but the man who does not obtain it, is the cause to himself of his own imperfection.
... The light never enslaves anyone by necessity; nor, again, does God exercise compulsion upon anyone unwilling to accept the exercise of His skill. Those persons, therefore, who have apostatized from the light given by the Father, and transgressed the law of liberty, have done so through their own fault, since they have been created free agents, and possessed of power over themselves."
- Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., Bk 4. Ch. 39; Willis #592

* In re: stones into children of Abraham, it seems absolutely inarguable to me that such hypothetical children would not be created in sin. This speaks to the point I raised about the openness of the children of Adam and the impossibility of reconciliation without same.

"If 'He enlightens every man that comes into the world' how is it that so many continue unenlightened? For not all have known the majesty of Christ. How then does He 'light every man'? He enlightens all as far as in Him lies. But if some, wilfully closing the eyes of their mind, would not receive the rays of that Light, their darkness arises not from the nature of the Light, but from their own wickedness, who wilfully deprive themselves of the gift."
- John Chrysostom, Homilies on John, 8:1; Willis #594

"And if by grace, it will be said, how came we all not to be saved? Because you would not. For grace, though it be grace, saves the willing, not those who will not have it, and turn away from it, who persist in fighting against it, and opposing themselves to it.
- John Chrysostom, Ep. ad Rom., 18:5; Willis #595

"Men, having despised and rejected the contemplation of God, and devised and contrived evil for themselves..., received the condemnation of death with which they had been threatened; and from henceforth they no longer remained as they were made, but were being corrupted according to their own devices; and death had the mastery over them as king. For transgression of the commandment was turning them back to their natural state, [emphasis added] so that just as they have had their being out of nothing, so also, as might be expected, they might look for corruption into nothing in the course of time."
- Athanasius, Treatise on the Incarnation of the Word, Ch. 4; Willis #507

In re: "turning... to their natural state," Athanasius just got through saying that man no longer remained as he had been made, but were rather returning, eventually, to their purely natural state of being made from dead dust. But man was created more than merely natural in his primordial existence; he was created at one and the same time natural and supernatural. He lost his supernatural life but retained a life of a natural variety that was still above the deadness of the elements from which it is said by Athanasius comes his natural state.

As we continue our discussion, I would like to delve into the questions you raised about authority, its relevance, interpretive frameworks, etc. And I am probably much more familiar with yours than you give me credit for. I do not expect you to know or care about my CV, but you seem not to realize that I was formerly an ardent Calvinist quite studied in Reformed theology and philosophy. I want you to be aware of this so that you need not feel I am unfamiliar with your terminology and/or so that you don't perceive me as being overly pedantic, or similarly underly succinct. While I'm at it, I should mention that my "sarcasm" so-called is perhaps better termed "attempts at levity." I was not trying to be mean-spirited and I hope I didn't come across that way.

Mike Burgess said...

I am going to follow Reginald's advice and take this opportunity to observe Holy Week in silence and refrain from blogging at my own site or commenting elsewhere, so I hope you will bear with me and rejoin the conversation after the Easter memorial. God's blessings upon all who read this.

Turretinfan said...

"My point about your selective citation of the CCC was that you referred to a certain paragraph by way of comparison to support your definition of grace but when one checks the cross references paragraph, one finds that it does not compare favorably."

a) You incorrectly inferred that I provided the citation to support my definition.

b) In fact, I simply provided the citation for purpose of comparison.

"That is misleading. "Grace is unearned favor, see the following definition from your own source for comparison" when "my own source" says that grace is not simply "favor" whether earned or not, is an improper tactic."

a) Using quotation marks when (as here) you're not quoting someone might be considered an improper tactic.

b) Directing someone to compare my definition to their definition isn't improper under any reasonable standard of impropriety.

"I'm done belaboring that point."

ok

"Rather than derail the conversation to the point that it becomes ad hominem or offensive (and I hope that I have not been either of those to you), I want to redirect and focus on some issues by going ad fontes."

a) It hadn't become offensive yet (from my perspective, at least).
b) Sounds good, though potentially risky, since it requires you to divine where that fontes is.

"If you'll indulge me, I want to refer to some passages from some of the greatest defenders of orthodoxy upon whom we -- you and I -- rely for the standards by which we interpret the infallible Scriptures."

a) We're not quite to the fontes for me, yet.

b) And while I certainly do rely on the writings of early defenders of orthodoxy,
i) I don't necessarily conclude that earliest = best;
ii) I remain conscious of the fact that all humans are fallible, even those who are great Christians; and
iii) I possibly "rely" on them, in a different sense than you might "rely" on them.

"I have chosen to pitch my tent with Irenaeus who learned from Polycarp who learned from John, Augustine, John Chrysostomos, and many others who were appointed to their role as teacher, pastor and often the fulness of the priesthood in the episcopate."

a) Irenaeus, Chrysostom, and Augustine do not necessarily always agree with one another on every point.

b) I learn from John and you can too: John left writings for all of us to learn from.

"I will no longer presume the reliability or authority of a lawyer from the Chablais region or an Augustinian monk profoundly influenced by nominalism.

a) I have come to find Calvin (the student of law) a generally reliable interpreter of Scripture, though I did not start with that presumption.

b) Luther (the Augustinian monk) has some strengths and some weaknesses. Whether he was "influenced by nominalism," I leave to Luther scholars. I don't rely on Luther's interpretation of Scriptures very often, if at all - mostly because he was not as careful and systematic as some of the greater theologians.

c) I hope, however, that you do not presume from the start that Augustine, Irenaeus, and Chrysostom are necessarily reliable.

"With regard to much of the argument I have been making all along, I refer you to the following:"

ok

[alleged quotations omitted from this response, see Mike's post above]

"In re: "turning... to their natural state," Athanasius just got through saying that man no longer remained as he had been made, but were rather returning, eventually, to their purely natural state of being made from dead dust. But man was created more than merely natural in his primordial existence; he was created at one and the same time natural and supernatural. He lost his supernatural life but retained a life of a natural variety that was still above the deadness of the elements from which it is said by Athanasius comes his natural state.

ok - I'm not sure why you think that especially relevant to the discussion.

"As we continue our discussion, I would like to delve into the questions you raised about authority, its relevance, interpretive frameworks, etc. And I am probably much more familiar with yours than you give me credit for. I do not expect you to know or care about my CV, but you seem not to realize that I was formerly an ardent Calvinist quite studied in Reformed theology and philosophy. I want you to be aware of this so that you need not feel I am unfamiliar with your terminology and/or so that you don't perceive me as being overly pedantic, or similarly underly succinct."

You're right that I don't know your CV. I wouldn't necessarily assume, though, that everyone that formerly identified themselves with Calvinism and/or Reformed theology knows much about it. I haven't come to any firm conclusion about whether you yourself know much about Calvinism and/or Reformed theology, yet. Perhaps you'll wow me.

"While I'm at it, I should mention that my "sarcasm" so-called is perhaps better termed "attempts at levity." I was not trying to be mean-spirited and I hope I didn't come across that way."

I think it would be easier for me to understand your posts if you spoke seriously, without the levity, or with some more obvious indcation that a comment should be taken as a joke.

But, of course, far be it from me to dictate how you communicate here.

-TurretinFan

P.S. I see your note about not blogging this week. I will, Lord willing, be around when you return to blogging.

Mike Burgess said...

TF said:
"a) You incorrectly inferred that I provided the citation to support my definition.

b) In fact, I simply provided the citation for purpose of comparison."

You incorrectly assumed I needed you to refer me to the CCC. I know/knew what it says. I asked you for your definition. A little supporting documentation would be nice.

TF:
"a) Using quotation marks when (as here) you're not quoting someone might be considered an improper tactic.

b) Directing someone to compare my definition to their definition isn't improper under any reasonable standard of impropriety."

A) I changed not one whit of the substance of your position in my hypothetical faux-quote. It was illustrative. I haven't a problem retracting it, but I can't see who would "consider [that] an improper tactic."

B) The comparison was not what was improper in my view. Stating your very limited view "in general terms" and then saying "cf CCC 1996" was troubling because "cf" means "compare" not "contrast," and without printing the paragraph in question would lead the general reader to assume that you were implying an equivalence or similarity between the two.

TF:
a) We're not quite to the fontes for me, yet.

b) And while I certainly do rely on the writings of early defenders of orthodoxy,
i) I don't necessarily conclude that earliest = best;
ii) I remain conscious of the fact that all humans are fallible, even those who are great Christians; and
iii) I possibly "rely" on them, in a different sense than you might "rely" on them.


No, we're at the earliest and best interpreters of the fontes. Perspecuity, as you pointed out from St. Peter's inspired writings, is more elusive than the Reformers and their heirs would have us believe. It's more elusive than James White, e.g., maintains it is. He claims Scripture is perspicuous, but expends a fair bit of effort proving how important parsing of Greek and Hebrew is, how textual variants can be quite crucial, how a priori presuppositions color the interpretation, and, incidentally, how only the regenerate can really get the perspecuity, so let's remember that the "fontes" issue is one of both source and interpretation.

TF:
a) Irenaeus, Chrysostom, and Augustine do not necessarily always agree with one another on every point.

b) I learn from John and you can too: John left writings for all of us to learn from.


I didn't say they did. But there are authoritative pronouncements and I will try to avoid citing some passage or other which contradicts said pronouncements, otherwise, what's the point?

Of course I learn from St. John and all the other inspired writers. They are inspired. But I would refer you to the point I just made about interpreting, etc. Since you state that we "all" could learn from them, may I presume you reject the common Reformed view of 1 Corinthians 2:14? Or am I counted as regenerate by you despite my Catholicism? (By the way, let us also remember that 2:14 is followed by 3:1, " But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ." [ESV] If we were to adopt, for the moment, the principle of Scripture interpreting Scripture, it seems that St. Paul was saying that the spiritual truths he needed to impart in his teaching could not have been accepted by them, since he had to address them in a non-spiritual manner, but that they were nevertheless "infants in Christ," "brothers," and simultaneously people of flesh, not of spirit.)

TF:
I have come to find Calvin (the student of law) a generally reliable interpreter of Scripture, though I did not start with that presumption.

It would seem you came to find Calvin a generally reliable interpreter because you found his interpretations agreeable to your own. So, you either started with the presumption that you are competent to interpret Scripture or else you did, in fact, start with a presumption that he was reliable. (Let us for the sake of brevity include all interim authorities between you and Calvin.)


TF:
... I don't rely on Luther's interpretation of Scriptures very often, if at all - mostly because he was not as careful and systematic as some of the greater theologians.

But you do follow Luther in a most crucial respect, because all of the "greater," "systematic," "careful" theologians (correct me if you were not simply referring to Reformed and other Protestant theologians; I presume you exclude Catholics) follow Luther's doctrinal anthropology. Subsequently, the theologians to whom you refer have an a priori view of what salvation consists of and how it is accomplished, to wit: JBFA, imputed righteousness, etc.

Which brings me to another point. Calvin said the following: "Therefore, God has provided the soul of man with intellect, by which he might discern good from evil, just from unjust, and might know what to follow or to shun, reason going before with her lamp; whence philosophers, in reference to her directing power, have called her τὸ ἑγεμονικὸν. To this he has joined will, to which choice belongs. Man excelled in these noble endowments in his primitive condition, when reason, intelligence, prudence, and Judgment, not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness. Thereafter choice was added to direct the appetites, and temper all the organic motions; the will being thus perfectly submissive to the authority of reason. In this upright state, man possessed freedom of will, by which, if he chose, he was able to obtain eternal life. ... Man had received the power, if he had the will, but he had not the will which would have given the power; for this will would have been followed by perseverance. Still, after he had received so much, there is no excuse for his having spontaneously brought death upon himself. No necessity was laid upon God to give him more than that intermediate and even transient will, that out of man’s fall he might extract materials for his own glory." Institutes I, 15, 8.

We find in that section a decidedly troubling quandary. Adam was created in perfect rectitude. He had infused righteousness. And yet Calvin states that he was not saved, that is, he did not possess eternal life. Furthermore, Calvin maintains, against the thrust of what he here explicitly acknowledges (Adam's ability to fall from grace, that is to sin and lose his perfect rectitude) that God's grace is irresistible. There are many problems with which to deal here, but let's proceed from here and see how it develops. If necessary, we can move the discussion to your debate blog or I could set up a page to go to.

Hope you had a good Easter.

Mike Burgess said...

To expand a bit, let me agree that Calvin was indeed more careful than Luther, and, contradictions aside, made an effort to develop a coherent theory of union with Christ. In light of this, I think it wise to reflect on passages such as 2 Corinthians 3:18. Calvin, against much of later Calvinism, was keenly aware of the necessity of conforming to the image of God and sanctification as means to union with God, and thus reflects an affinity of sorts with the idea of theosis or deification (properly defined and understood). One cannot but be struck by the contradiction which arose after Calvin in the virtual antinomianism of consistent imputationists, as well as in gnesiolutheranism, etc.

love the girls said...

Reginald de Piperno writes "Pope John Paul the Great was most certainly not universalistic, and the quotation in this post doesn't say otherwise."

While we may live in a time where all men are heroes, all children are brilliant,and all women the second coming of whom they fantasize being the second coming of, nevertheless, can we please dispense with the appellation of "The Great" in reference to Pope John Paul 2. Save it for those who earned it.

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0310fea2.asp
Will Pope John Paul II Be Styled "the Great"?(This Rock: October 2003)

As for his universalism. Assisi remains rather horrifying, to say the least. If you Calvinists want to dig for errors, dig for them where they exist, not in the encyclicals which are consistent with the Faith.

Turretinfan said...

"If you Calvinists want to dig for errors, dig for them where they exist, not in the encyclicals which are consistent with the Faith."

Doesn't that beg the question?

Query:

Who decides which of the encyclicals are consistent with "the Faith"?

-TurretinFan

love the girls said...

TurretinFan : "Who decides which of the encyclicals are consistent with "the Faith"?"

He who has been given the authority to do so. He who has been given the Keys

"To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Matt 16:19

An authority existing in the Visible Church 1Cor.5:5 Matt18:17

Turretinfan said...

TurretinFan: "Who decides which of the encyclicals are consistent with "the Faith"?"

LtG: "He who has been given the authority to do so. He who has been given the Keys

"To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Matt 16:19

An authority existing in the Visible Church 1Cor.5:5 Matt18:17
"

I answer:

a) I don't see anything saying that keys = interpretive ability, do you?

b) I certainly don't see anyhing about them being useful for testing encyclicals, and I don't think you do either.

c) Surely you don't think the Apostle Peter - who is now dead - is the only the person who can determine which encyclicals are consistent with the "Faith"?

d) As for it being an "authority existing in the visible church," what if I assert that each believer has a right of private judgment?

e) Aren't encyclicals themselves the voice of an "authority of the visible church"? If so, are they simply their own justification according to your claims?

-Turretinfan

love the girls said...

Turrentinfan writes : " As for it being an "authority existing in the visible church," what if I assert that each believer has a right of private judgment?"

An assertion which is what protestants do, they each make themselves a Church where final authority rests in each one of them separately.

An assertion which reminds one of:

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

Turretinfan said...

I had written (among other things): " As for it being an "authority existing in the visible church," what if I assert that each believer has a right of private judgment?"

LtG responded: "An assertion which is what protestants do, they each make themselves a Church where final authority rests in each one of them separately."

a) It seems that the main point of this comment is to claim that the believer would be usurping the church's role.

b) But LtG hasn't established at all that being "the final authority" (whatever that means) is the church's role.

c) Which brings us to the third problem, namely that it is not at all clear what "the final authority" is supposed to mean.

d) It sounds like LtG is saying that if we individually (personal) decide (judgment) whether something is or is not true, we are making ourselves a "church" and usurping the church's unique role.

e) But if (d) is correct, this is quite odd - since LtG (and practically all confirmed Catholics) personally decide whether things are true or not.

f) So, we're left wondering whether the criticism has any merit at all.

g) The Humpty-Dumpty point is not particularly relevant. The meaning of words in a document is primarily neither the domain of a centralized authority on word meaning, nor the domain solely of the reader. It is the domain of the writer. Although it would be senseless to communicate like Humpty-Dumpty, it would be exceedingly foolish to try to understand Humpty-Dumpty by recourse to either a dictionary or common sense.
On top of that, this is just how we normally understand things that are written. When we read a novel or a letter from a friend, we seek to determine the meaning of the words not solely by recourse to a dictionary or solely by what we'd like the words to mean, but by reading the words in their context.
We do personally judge what the words of a novel or friend's letter mean - but we ascribe the final authority (in a very real and important sense) to our friend - whether he is Mr. Webster or Mr. Dumpty.
The same goes for Scripture: we let the context determine the sense of Scripture: that's what reading Scripture entails, and that's letting Scripture interpret Scripture, even while we personally are persuaded as to its meaning.

But if you are still not persuaded, let me ask you, LtG:

1) Is God able to communicate truth clearly in Scripture?

2) If so, has God done so?

3) If he has, why could not people personally judge the truth of something by comparing it to Scripture?

-Turretinfan

Franklin said...

first. I have no intention of discussing every point you make. Simply because you are in serious error does not obligate me to correct those errors.

_______________

"The Humpty-Dumpty point is not particularly relevant."

It is relevant when every protestant is his own source of interpretation where those interpretations conflict with each other. For it is a bizarre God indeed who makes of himself a tower of babel by who privately giving to different men different contradictory understandings of those same words.

love the girls said...

Please note.

Franklin is an old nom de plume which inadvertently was used.

Turretinfan said...

Franklin /LtG:

F/L: "first. I have no intention of discussing every point you make. Simply because you are in serious error does not obligate me to correct those errors."

Answer: So, let's see: you accuse me of error, but are unwilling (perhaps unable?) to demonstrate your accusation. Yes, I agree that my being in error would not obligate you to correct it, but consider how you look when you claim unspecified errors and then are unable to substantiate them.

F/L: "[The Humpty-Dumpty point] is relevant when every protestant is his own source of interpretation where those interpretations conflict with each other."

Answer: No. Saying it a second time doesn't make it any more relevant than the first time you said it.

Humpty-Dumpty is a story about someone who doesn't care about the conventional meaning of words and uses words according to meanings that he himself decides.

The only way in which it is relevant, is against the very point you are making.

The way in which it is relevant (if at all) is that we need to read what people write (and hear what they speak) according to the meaning they themselves assign to it.

But the "tradition-ist" position is a reverse-Humpty-Dumpty-ism, in which the church (Humpty-Dumpty) assigns whatever meaning it wants not to its own words (as Humpty-Dumpty did) but to the words of Scripture. It's as though Humpty-Dumpty insisted on telling Alice what Alice meant.

Or perhaps another way to frame the analogy is as if you (believer) are reading a letter from your friend (Bible), and another friend (the "Catholic" church) stops by and insists that you must interpret your friend's letter in some particular way.

You'd think such a friend rude. You might appreciate the friend's help if there was something difficult with which the friend could assist you, but you'd think your friend arrogant to think that his opinion trumped what the letter actually said, and that consequently you must listen to his interpretation rather than let it speak for itself.

F/L: "For it is a bizarre God indeed who makes of himself a tower of babel by who privately giving to different men different contradictory understandings of those same words."

a) This is an odd criticism, because it is God (the one true, living God) who confused men at the tower, not the tower itself.

b) This is also an odd criticism, because it is the men of the tower of babel who needed interpreters to communicate with one another, but God is capable of speaking clearly (one of those numerous points you are are unable to answer).

c) This is also an odd criticism, because different contradictory understandings of the same words exist (for example) within Roman Catholicism.

But tell me, if you can, who (according to scripture) leads us into all truth?

Is it:

a) the church?

b) the Holy Spirit?

c) something else?

Tell me also, if you can what Scripture's purpose is:

a) unable to communicate the important things clearly?

b) able to make sommeone wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus and to be used for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works?

Finally, if you think you can, please tell me whether believers are:

a) full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another?

b) or not?

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

My friend LTG has taken the discussion in a different direction, which is fine. A few remarks with regard to TF's queries to LTG are on my mind.

"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."
-Hebrews 13:7-17

"But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, 'He ascended,' what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
- Ephesians 4:7-16

Shepherd and teachers is one office in Eph. 4:11. Theirs is the responsibility (as ones who will have to give account to God) for determination of correct interpretation and instruction so that the faithful may admonish one another for the purpose of building up the one Body of Christ. The gifts are distributed differently. Not all are called to the same office.

If you would like to respond to the latest posts I made above after Easter and continue our discussion on human openness to God, please let me know. If not, that's fine, but it seems to me to have just been getting underway and looked interesting.

Turretinfan said...

MB wrote: "You incorrectly assumed I needed you to refer me to the CCC. I know/knew what it says. I asked you for your definition. A little supporting documentation would be nice."

a) I didn't assume anything. I gave you something to compare my proferred definition to.

b) Supporting documentation of what?

MB wrote: "I changed not one whit of the substance of your position in my hypothetical faux-quote. It was illustrative. I haven't a problem retracting it, but I can't see who would "consider [that] an improper tactic.""

I think the matter speaks for itself, and I'm willing to leave it at that.

MB wrote: "B) The comparison was not what was improper in my view. Stating your very limited view "in general terms" and then saying "cf CCC 1996" was troubling because "cf" means "compare" not "contrast," and without printing the paragraph in question would lead the general reader to assume that you were implying an equivalence or similarity between the two."

Your objection arises from your failure to understand the use of the "cf." tag. Possibly you originally thought (before you looked it up) that "cf" meant "confirm" not "compare." Whatever the source of the problem, it is a problem with your understanding, not with what I wrote. Don't blame me for your mistake.

MB wrote: "No, we're at the earliest and best interpreters of the fontes."

a) Scripture as its own interpreter is necessarily the earliest interpreter. Is it also the best in your view?

b) But, otherwise, there is no particular reason to suppose that those who lived one century after Christ were better interpreters than those who lived 10 or 20 centuries later. In fact, we stand on the shoulders of giants today, and see a little further as a result.

c) In particular, the early errors of the disciples while under Jesus' personal preaching are recorded for us in the gospels. If they erred while Jesus was among them, would it be at all surprising that the second generation church would err while the apostles were among them? etc. etc.

d) Many heresies (for example Gnosticism) arose early.

e) In other words, earlier does not equal better.

MB wrote: "Perspecuity, as you pointed out from St. Peter's inspired writings, is more elusive than the Reformers and their heirs would have us believe."

a) Perspecuity is more nuanced than Papist critics would have us believe.

b) You claim to know Reformed doctrine - here's your chance to demonstrate that knowledge. Is the Reformed position that all of Paul's writings are easy to be understood?

MB wrote: "It's more elusive than James White, e.g., maintains it is."

Dr. White is quite capable of defending his own position. I don't think he significantly departs from the Reformation on this issue.

MB wrote: "He claims Scripture is perspicuous, but expends a fair bit of effort proving how important parsing of Greek and Hebrew is, how textual variants can be quite crucial, how a priori presuppositions color the interpretation, and, incidentally, how only the regenerate can really get the perspecuity, so let's remember that the "fontes" issue is one of both source and interpretation."

a) That seems to me like an inaccurate summary of Dr. White's position. The inaccuracies are mostly minor, though, I think.

b) Furthermore, ignoring the minor inaccuracies, its unclear whether you are asking perspecuity to be something it is not, or whether you are simply pointing out that perspecuity is not as the Papist critics sometimes like to portray it.

MB wrote: "I didn't say they did. But there are authoritative pronouncements and I will try to avoid citing some passage or other which contradicts said pronouncements, otherwise, what's the point?"

Actually, I think you inadvertently announced the standard technique we see among Catholic internet apologists. Start from the conclusions and then find some passage or other that seems to support that conclusion.

That's not a legitimate exegetical method, as far as I'm concerned.

MB wrote: “Of course I learn from St. John and all the other inspired writers. They are inspired. But I would refer you to the point I just made about interpreting, etc. Since you state that we "all" could learn from them, may I presume you reject the common Reformed view of 1 Corinthians 2:14? Or am I counted as regenerate by you despite my Catholicism? (By the way, let us also remember that 2:14 is followed by 3:1, " But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ." [ESV] If we were to adopt, for the moment, the principle of Scripture interpreting Scripture, it seems that St. Paul was saying that the spiritual truths he needed to impart in his teaching could not have been accepted by them, since he had to address them in a non-spiritual manner, but that they were nevertheless "infants in Christ," "brothers," and simultaneously people of flesh, not of spirit.)”

I don’t reject the standard Reformed view of that verse as far as I know, and I don’t presume to know whether you have been regenerated based solely on your current affiliation with Rome.

I had written: “I have come to find Calvin (the student of law) a generally reliable interpreter of Scripture, though I did not start with that presumption.”

MB replied: “It would seem you came to find Calvin a generally reliable interpreter because you found his interpretations agreeable to your own.”

I don’t at all agree with that characterization. How did you arrive at it?

MB: “So, you either started with the presumption that you are competent to interpret Scripture or else you did, in fact, start with a presumption that he was reliable. (Let us for the sake of brevity include all interim authorities between you and Calvin.)”

Competent to interpret Scripture? What does that even mean?

I had written: “... I don't rely on Luther's interpretation of Scriptures very often, if at all - mostly because he was not as careful and systematic as some of the greater theologians.”

MB responded: “But you do follow Luther in a most crucial respect, because all of the "greater," "systematic," "careful" theologians (correct me if you were not simply referring to Reformed and other Protestant theologians; I presume you exclude Catholics) follow Luther's doctrinal anthropology. Subsequently, the theologians to whom you refer have an a priori view of what salvation consists of and how it is accomplished, to wit: JBFA, imputed righteousness, etc.”

“Follow” is a bit of an ambiguous term. Whether Calvin (for example) and Luther had precisely the same view of man would make for an interesting doctoral dissertation. It’s not something that I’ve studied in any great depth. Calvin certainly doesn’t “follow” Luther in the sense of relying on Luther as his basis for his view of man. Calvin may agree with Luther on many points.

MB continued: “Which brings me to another point. Calvin said the following: "Therefore, God has provided the soul of man with intellect, by which he might discern good from evil, just from unjust, and might know what to follow or to shun, reason going before with her lamp; whence philosophers, in reference to her directing power, have called her τὸ ἑγεμονικὸν. To this he has joined will, to which choice belongs. Man excelled in these noble endowments in his primitive condition, when reason, intelligence, prudence, and Judgment, not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness. Thereafter choice was added to direct the appetites, and temper all the organic motions; the will being thus perfectly submissive to the authority of reason. In this upright state, man possessed freedom of will, by which, if he chose, he was able to obtain eternal life. ... Man had received the power, if he had the will, but he had not the will which would have given the power; for this will would have been followed by perseverance. Still, after he had received so much, there is no excuse for his having spontaneously brought death upon himself. No necessity was laid upon God to give him more than that intermediate and even transient will, that out of man’s fall he might extract materials for his own glory." Institutes I, 15, 8.”

I answer: That seems to be accurate – I haven’t gone back and checked it to be sure.

MB continued: “We find in that section a decidedly troubling quandary. Adam was created in perfect rectitude. He had infused righteousness.”

Calvin doesn’t say Adam had infused righteousness. That would be your claim (I guess), but you don’t derive that claim from the text of Scripture.

“And yet Calvin states that he was not saved, that is, he did not possess eternal life.”

Adam, before the fall, wasn’t “saved” – at least in part – because Adam had not sinned. Adam did not possess eternal life because Adam was peccable, the wages of sin are death, and Adam had not substitute to take the guilt of those sins.

“Furthermore, Calvin maintains, against the thrust of what he here explicitly acknowledges (Adam's ability to fall from grace, that is to sin and lose his perfect rectitude) that God's grace is irresistible.”

I don’t see Calvin speaking here of “falling from grace.” Adam did not fall from saving grace but from innocence. In any event, even if Adam could be said to “fall from grace,” it would be vain to suppose from that, that saving grace is not irresistible.

“There are many problems with which to deal here, but let's proceed from here and see how it develops. If necessary, we can move the discussion to your debate blog or I could set up a page to go to. Hope you had a good Easter.”

If you have a concrete resolution that you’d like to debate, we could try to set something up on the debate blog. If you’d like to work one out via email, you can access my email through my blogger profile.

Later, MB wrote:

“Shepherd and teachers is one office in Eph. 4:11. Theirs is the responsibility (as ones who will have to give account to God) for determination of correct interpretation and instruction so that the faithful may admonish one another for the purpose of building up the one Body of Christ. The gifts are distributed differently. Not all are called to the same office.”

The gifts are variously distributed, and not all are called to the same office, and yet the exhortation of mutual admonition is extended to all believers. Teachers have a special duty to admonish, but they do not have the sole duty to admonish – nor the sole duty to interpret Scripture.

“If you would like to respond to the latest posts I made above after Easter and continue our discussion on human openness to God, please let me know. If not, that's fine, but it seems to me to have just been getting underway and looked interesting.”

See above.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

TF said: "a) I didn't assume anything. I gave you something to compare my proferred definition to.

b) Supporting documentation of what?"

MB: a and b) Fine, no assumption was made, if you would have it that way. Still, I asked you for your your definition of grace, and I got what you admitted was a cursory, brief statement. I would like to know what you believe grace to be and why, thus the request for supporting documentation for that definition of grace. Pretty please. That should clear up any question about my question, I hope.

I really would appreciate the courtesy of not insulting my intelligence. I "looked up" cf when I was in honors composition in high school over 20 years ago; I resent your condescension. I have never understood it to mean anything but compare. Similarly, I am fully cognizant of the facts that e.g. means exempli gratia and translates as for example, i.e. means id est, often misstated as "in essentia," and translates to "that is;" "viz." is an abbreviated form of vide licet meaning "it is permissible to see," and is generally translated and read as "namely." And many others. I also remember quite a few diacritical marks. Would you like to refrain from making unsubstantiated and offensive allegations now, or shall I respond in kind?

TF: "...it is a problem with your understanding, not with what I wrote. Don't blame me for your mistake."

MB: I didn't make one. My whole point was that it was at best superfluous for you to refer me to a source I consider authoritative (and which you do not) for your definition of grace, even for comparison, a comparison which could very easily be misconstrued as implying equivalence, especially since that was the only source you bothered to reference.

TF: " Scripture as its own interpreter is necessarily the earliest interpreter. Is it also the best in your view?"

MB: Scripture can and often should be used to interpret other Scripture. I wonder, though, if you would point me to the Scriptural passage that says "only Scripture may be properly used to interpret Scripture"? Also, I would posit that St. Paul was the earliest interpreter of St. Paul's writings, hence his desire to "set things in order" when he could do so face to face, St. John was the earliest interpreter of St. John's writings, hence his stated preference for personal meeting, etc. Subsequent in-depth training of and ordination of successors like Timothy, Barnabas, Mark, and Polycarp, inter alia, and the admonitions to "hold fast to all the teaching" they had received, coupled with explicit reference to Dominical commands concerning the liturgy of the Eucharist in Clement, for example, point out that sixteenth century "interpretations" of St. Paul's words in 1 Cor. 11:23ff which deny a propitiatorially sacrificial aspect are far from either earliest or best. The question of earliest interpretations of the fontes by the ECF's being superior was taken for granted among the magisterial Reformers. Neither one of us is stating categorically that earliest necessarily equals best or that latest necessarily equals worst or vice versa. I have given some qualification and reserve the right to further clarify if necessary.

TF: " In particular, the early errors of the disciples while under Jesus' personal preaching are recorded for us in the gospels. If they erred while Jesus was among them, would it be at all surprising that the second generation church would err while the apostles were among them?"

Which ignores that the disciples had not yet been received the fulness of the blessing of Pentecost, and furthermore insinuates that the heresies which early arose arose because of the Apostles instead of despite them. The introduction of satanic heresy in the post-Pentecost Apostolic Church does nothing to contradict the gift of infallibility that the Lord promised to give to the Apostles. It is obviously the contention that the successors of the Apostles were given the promise (with the stated qualifications listed elsewhere in Magisterial teachings; I'm sure you don't need me to list them here) of preserving the flock from doctrinal error that comes into play when examining what exercises of the extraordinary and ordinary Magisterium say about ECF teaching and the regula fide and semper et ubique practice and faith of the Church, etc.

TF: "You claim to know Reformed doctrine - here's your chance to demonstrate that knowledge. Is the Reformed position that all of Paul's writings are easy to be understood?"

MB: I don't have any burning desire to impress you with my knowledge of Reformed doctrines. But no, the Reformed position is not that all of St. Paul's writings are easy to be understood. Speaking of which, who do you think wrote Hebrews? Depending on the answer, how does that fit into the oft-stated necessity for Apostolic authorship for inspiration and canonicity?

TF: "...its unclear whether you are asking perspecuity to be something it is not, or whether you are simply pointing out that perspecuity is not as the Papist critics sometimes like to portray it."

MB: I am not asking perspecuity to be something it is not, at least in so far as I have a grasp on your personal take on perspecuity. But this begs the question as to what the doctrinal definition of perspecuity is for Protestants. There are lots out there.

Oh, and although it doesn't bother me, you really should consider not using terms like "Papist." People don't care for it and it is rightly considered derogatory or pejorative. Such as if I were to refer to you as "Deformationist" or "Heretic." Regardless of the truth of any of the terms to the one using them and the intent thereof, it's bad form.

To be continued.

Mike Burgess said...

TF: "Actually, I think you inadvertently announced the standard technique we see among Catholic internet apologists. Start from the conclusions and then find some passage or other that seems to support that conclusion.

That's not a legitimate exegetical method, as far as I'm concerned."

So, you were a tabula rasa? No presuppositions to confirm, then? You decided one day as a pagan to investigate the truth claims of every religion you could get information about and then carefully weeded your way through each and every doctrinal minutia available and, using sola scriptura, eventually came to the conclusion that sola scriptura had been, in fact, the correct method after all (and thank heaven!) so that you could then -- again with no pre-drawn conclusions -- discovered all the systematic Reformed dogmas on your own? You didn't, at any time, read supplementary theology from Knox, Berkouwer, Edwards, Owen, what have you, and -- just for the sake of the argument -- take one of their conclusions and attempt to verify it by going to the sources? Really? That was your exegetical method, huh? I must say, you can color me impressed if that's truly the case.

TF: "I don’t reject the standard Reformed view of that verse as far as I know, and I don’t presume to know whether you have been regenerated based solely on your current affiliation with Rome."

MB: Actually, if you're at all consistent as a Calvinist, you can't presume one way or another regardless of my ecclesial affiliation. If I'm elect, I'm elect. If I'm not, I'm not. But what I asked you was, given that I am a consistent Catholic, can I be said to be able to grasp the things of the Spirit?

TF: "I don’t at all agree with that characterization. How did you arrive at it?" and "Competent to interpret Scripture? What does that even mean?"


MB: See above. I don't believe for an instant that you started as a tabula rasa. Therefore, you either started with scriptural interpretations that were fully developed enough to eventually bring you to the study of Calvin's, which then gave rise to the realization that he was a "generally reliable interpreter of Scripture," which is unlikely in the extreme, or, contrary to your statement, you were told by someone else you trusted that Calvin is a sound guide and that you should read his systematic theology in the Institutes and that of his successors to further develop your own. This presumes, a priori, that you, as a newcomer to the study of Scripture and its interpretation and exegesis, believed that you were endowed with some ability which allowed you to tap into the "plain meaning" of Scripture with yourself as the ultimate determinant of the validity of any assigning of meaning to any and every given passage. All while, presuming you are a consistent Calvinist, adhering to some form of grammatico-historical methodology which holds that Scripture is its own interpreter and, since there is no other set of literature with all the same characteristics of Scripture (inspiration, Apostolicity, Propheticity, inerrance, etc.) that there is no other sufficient set of criteria and methodology you can utilize to examine, exegete and interpret Scripture than the grammatico-historical method, that you were competent, in your nascent state, to execute that method flawlessly, or nearly enough so as to allow you sufficient knowledge and assurance that you properly grasped the kerygma.

TF: "“Follow” is a bit of an ambiguous term. Whether Calvin (for example) and Luther had precisely the same view of man would make for an interesting doctoral dissertation. It’s not something that I’ve studied in any great depth. Calvin certainly doesn’t “follow” Luther in the sense of relying on Luther as his basis for his view of man. Calvin may agree with Luther on many points."

MB: It would indeed make for an interesting dissertation. But I must say I was inexactly using the term "follow" in the sense of "generally adhering to the same views (in this case, the state of man post-Fall) as one's predecessor, even if one does not specifically rely on said predecessor for every jot and tittle of one's paradigm." Calvin, most assuredly, did agree with Luther (as against other humanists such as Erasmus) on the capacity of the will, for example. I do not have at hand a specific reference which would demonstrate Calvin's citation of Luther in this regard, but I doubt you are denying it and therefore do not require one.

TF: "That seems to be accurate – I haven’t gone back and checked it to be sure."

MB: Gosh, thanks ever so. If you have an issue with it, I gave you the citation. Look it up. Tell if you're using Beveridge or what.

TF: "Calvin doesn’t say Adam had infused righteousness. That would be your claim (I guess), but you don’t derive that claim from the text of Scripture."

Calvin's Commentary on Genesis, Chapter 1, section 26b:

"In our image, &c." Interpreters do not agree concerning the meaning of these words. The greater part, and nearly all, conceive that the word image is to be distinguished from likeness. And the common distinction is, that image exists in the substance, likeness in the accidents of anything. They who would define the subject briefly, say that in the image are contained those endowments which God has conferred on human nature at large, while they expound likeness to mean gratuitous gifts. But Augustine, beyond all others, speculates with excessive refinement, for the purpose of fabricating a Trinity in man. For in laying hold of the three faculties of the soul enumerated by Aristotle, the intellect, the memory, and the will, he afterwards out of one Trinity derives many. If any reader, having leisure, wishes to enjoy such speculations, let him read the tenth and fourteenth books on the Trinity, also the eleventh book of the "City of God." I acknowledge, indeed, that there is something in man which refers to the Fathers and the Son, and the Spirit: and I have no difficulty in admitting the above distinction of the faculties of the soul: although the simpler division into two parts, which is more used in Scripture, is better adapted to the sound doctrine of piety; but a definition of the image of God ought to rest on a firmer basis than such subtleties. As for myself, before I define the image of God, I would deny that it differs from his likeness. For when Moses afterwards repeats the same things he passes over the likeness, and contents himself with mentioning the image. Should any one take the exception, that he was merely studying brevity; I answer, that where he twice uses the word image, he makes no mention of the likeness. We also know that it was customary with the Hebrews to repeat the same thing in different words. besides, the phrase itself shows that the second term was added for the sake of explanation, 'Let us make,' he says, 'man in our image, according to our likeness,' that is, that he may be like God, or may represent the image of God. Lastly, in the fifth chapter, without making any mention of image, he puts likeness in its place, (verse 1.) Although we have set aside all difference between the two words we have not yet ascertained what this image or likeness is. The Anthropomorphites were too gross in seeking this resemblance in the human body; let that reverie therefore remain entombed. Others proceed with a little more subtlety, who, though they do not imagine God to be corporeal, yet maintain that the image of God is in the body of man, because his admirable workmanship there shines brightly; but this opinion, as we shall see, is by no means consonant with Scripture. The exposition of Chrysostom is not more correct, who refers to the dominion which was given to man in order that he might, in a certain sense, act as God's vicegerent in the government of the world. This truly is some portion, though very small, of the image of God. Since the image of God had been destroyed in us by the fall, we may judge from its restoration what it originally had been. Paul says that we are transformed into the image of God by the gospel. And, according to him, spiritual regeneration is nothing else than the restoration of the same image. (Col. 3: 10, and Eph. 4: 23.) That he made this image to consist in "righteousness and true holiness," is by the figure synecdoche; for though this is the chief part, it is not the whole of God's image. Therefore by this word the perfection of our whole nature is designated, as it appeared when Adam was endued with a right judgment, had affections in harmony with reason, had all his senses sound and well-regulated, and truly excelled in everything good. Thus the chief seat of the Divine image was in his mind and heart, where it was eminent: yet was there no part of him in which some scintillations of it did not shine forth. For there was an attempering in the several parts of the soul, which corresponded with their various offices. In the mind perfect intelligence flourished and reigned, uprightness attended as its companion, and all the senses were prepared and moulded for due obedience to reason; and in the body there was a suitable correspondence with this internal order. But now, although some obscure lineaments of that image are found remaining in us; yet are they so vitiated and maimed, that they may truly be said to be destroyed. For besides the deformity which everywhere appears unsightly, this evil also is added, that no part is free from the infection of sin.

And I most certainly can derive it from Genesis 1, for if God created man in His own image and likeness and yet man were not infused with righteousness, then God is not righteous else we would not have been created in His image and likeness. Q.E.D. (That means quod erat demonstrandum, and means "that which was to be proved or shown." So you don't have to go "look it up." Relax, it's a joke.)

More to follow.

Turretinfan said...

MB: Still, I asked you for your your definition of grace, and I got what you admitted was a cursory, brief statement.

I answer: I guess I've lost sight of why you need a longer more complex and nuanced statement. What would be the point in my providing something like that, exactly? I may not have given you a treatise on grace, but I gave you a reasonably precise answer.

MB: I would like to know what you believe grace to be and why, thus the request for supporting documentation for that definition of grace.

TF: We both know why I believe what I believe about grace: because the Scriptures declare it to be so. Again, I am trying to see the value to the discussion of a still more detailed, nuanced explanation of grace. Is there something in particular that you'd like to ask about grace?

MB: "I really would appreciate the courtesy of not insulting my intelligence. I "looked up" cf when I was in honors composition in high school over 20 years ago; I resent your condescension."

I answer: If you knew what "cf" meant and still made the claim you made above, then it seems - at best - simply reflective a desire on your part to impute some negative intention to me that was not mine.

TF (previously): "...it is a problem with your understanding, not with what I wrote. Don't blame me for your mistake."

MB: I didn't make one. My whole point was that it was at best superfluous for you to refer me to a source I consider authoritative (and which you do not) for your definition of grace, even for comparison, a comparison which could very easily be misconstrued as implying equivalence, especially since that was the only source you bothered to reference.

I answer: As far as I know, the only who misconstrued it that way is you. Maybe you could simply apologize for claiming that I had suggested they were equivalent and move on.

TF (previously): "Scripture as its own interpreter is necessarily the earliest interpreter. Is it also the best in your view?"

MB: Scripture can and often should be used to interpret other Scripture. I wonder, though, if you would point me to the Scriptural passage that says "only Scripture may be properly used to interpret Scripture"? Also, I would posit that St. Paul was the earliest interpreter of St. Paul's writings, hence his desire to "set things in order" when he could do so face to face, St. John was the earliest interpreter of St. John's writings, hence his stated preference for personal meeting, etc. Subsequent in-depth training of and ordination of successors like Timothy, Barnabas, Mark, and Polycarp, inter alia, and the admonitions to "hold fast to all the teaching" they had received, coupled with explicit reference to Dominical commands concerning the liturgy of the Eucharist in Clement, for example, point out that sixteenth century "interpretations" of St. Paul's words in 1 Cor. 11:23ff which deny a propitiatorially sacrificial aspect are far from either earliest or best. The question of earliest interpretations of the fontes by the ECF's being superior was taken for granted among the magisterial Reformers. Neither one of us is stating categorically that earliest necessarily equals best or that latest necessarily equals worst or vice versa. I have given some qualification and reserve the right to further clarify if necessary.

TF: It doesn't seem to me that you answered the question, either in the affirmative or in the negative. Is it that you don't know the answer - is it impossible to answer the question? Your comments raise lots of new and interesting issues, some of which I've addressed other places, but they don't seem to answer the question of whether you think that Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture.

TF (previously): "In particular, the early errors of the disciples while under Jesus' personal preaching are recorded for us in the gospels. If they erred while Jesus was among them, would it be at all surprising that the second generation church would err while the apostles were among them?"

MB: "Which ignores that the disciples had not yet been received the fulness of the blessing of Pentecost, and furthermore insinuates that the heresies which early arose arose because of the Apostles instead of despite them. The introduction of satanic heresy in the post-Pentecost Apostolic Church does nothing to contradict the gift of infallibility that the Lord promised to give to the Apostles. It is obviously the contention that the successors of the Apostles were given the promise (with the stated qualifications listed elsewhere in Magisterial teachings; I'm sure you don't need me to list them here) of preserving the flock from doctrinal error that comes into play when examining what exercises of the extraordinary and ordinary Magisterium say about ECF teaching and the regula fide and semper et ubique practice and faith of the Church, etc."

TF: I don't recall the supposed promise of the gift of infallibilty. Furthermore, the Pentacostal gifts clearly are not practiced by the alleged apostolic successors. Benedict XVI's shadow is not going to heal anyone, and no one has any delusions about that. Even if infallibility had been given to the apostles (as were the miraculous signs and wonders), there is no reason to suppose from Scripture that such a gift was passed on to any one or more successor of any one or more apostle.

TF (previously): "You claim to know Reformed doctrine - here's your chance to demonstrate that knowledge. Is the Reformed position that all of Paul's writings are easy to be understood?"

MB: I don't have any burning desire to impress you with my knowledge of Reformed doctrines. But no, the Reformed position is not that all of St. Paul's writings are easy to be understood. Speaking of which, who do you think wrote Hebrews? Depending on the answer, how does that fit into the oft-stated necessity for Apostolic authorship for inspiration and canonicity?

I answer: Since you recognize that the Reformed view is not that all of Paul's writings are easy to understand, your previous claim regarding the impact of Peter's writings on the matter seem, at best, completely unjustified.

I don't base my acceptance of Scripture (Old or New) on who penned it, but on who inspired it. The Holy Spirit inspired Hebrews, who wrote is up for grabs, as far as I'm concerned.

TF (previously): "...its unclear whether you are asking perspecuity to be something it is not, or whether you are simply pointing out that perspecuity is not as the Papist critics sometimes like to portray it."

MB: I am not asking perspecuity to be something it is not, at least in so far as I have a grasp on your personal take on perspecuity. But this begs the question as to what the doctrinal definition of perspecuity is for Protestants. There are lots out there.

I answer: There's nothing particularly personal about my take on perspecuity. My position on perspecuity (and grace for that matter) are well summarized and systematized by the Westminster standards, principally the Westminster Confession of Faith.

MB: "Oh, and although it doesn't bother me, you really should consider not using terms like "Papist." People don't care for it and it is rightly considered derogatory or pejorative. Such as if I were to refer to you as "Deformationist" or "Heretic." Regardless of the truth of any of the terms to the one using them and the intent thereof, it's bad form."

I answer: Why adherents of the papacy would find the term "Papist" offensive is baffling. It's not a statement of opinion like the mocking term "deformed" or the more serious term "heretic." It's the equivalent of "Presbyterian" or "Congregational." It refers to the form of government in the body that calls itself the "Catholic" church (which is plainly a misnomer, especially by post-V2 standards).

Some papists wear the name with pride. Others are not bothered (apparently including yourself). If a few are bothered, they should ask themselves why.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

TF (previously): "Actually, I think you inadvertently announced the standard technique we see among Catholic internet apologists. Start from the conclusions and then find some passage or other that seems to support that conclusion.

That's not a legitimate exegetical method, as far as I'm concerned."

MB: So, you were a tabula rasa? No presuppositions to confirm, then? You decided one day as a pagan to investigate the truth claims of every religion you could get information about and then carefully weeded your way through each and every doctrinal minutia available and, using sola scriptura, eventually came to the conclusion that sola scriptura had been, in fact, the correct method after all (and thank heaven!) so that you could then -- again with no pre-drawn conclusions -- discovered all the systematic Reformed dogmas on your own? You didn't, at any time, read supplementary theology from Knox, Berkouwer, Edwards, Owen, what have you, and -- just for the sake of the argument -- take one of their conclusions and attempt to verify it by going to the sources? Really? That was your exegetical method, huh? I must say, you can color me impressed if that's truly the case.

TF:

a) My personal journey is not the issue. If, for example, I said that murder was wrong and was myself on death row for mass murder, that would not take away from the truth of my assertion.

b) Furthermore, the contrast is not between a tabula rasa man who finds a Bible in the surf, reads it and develops a system of doctrine from it with only the aid of the Holy Spirit and the position you described. Instead the contrast is between someone who subjects his preconceptions to the higher judgment of Scripture as I happened to discuss on my blog earlier today (link).

If we go to Scriptures to match them up to our preconceptions we can (and often will) get a distorted picture of what they say. Some of the worst apologetics pieces come from folks who try to make Scripture fit their theology, instead of the other way around.

There are no blank slates. People have innate knowledge. Even laying that aside, though, people do not ordinarily approach Scripture without some preconceptions of what they will find. A wise man will subject his preconceptions to the text, rather than the other way around.

Nevertheless, some insist on trying to do things backwards, with the result that we see texts of Scripture abused as men try to shoehorn them into doctrines they don't teach.

TF (previously): "I don’t reject the standard Reformed view of that verse as far as I know, and I don’t presume to know whether you have been regenerated based solely on your current affiliation with Rome."

MB: Actually, if you're at all consistent as a Calvinist, you can't presume one way or another regardless of my ecclesial affiliation. If I'm elect, I'm elect. If I'm not, I'm not.

TF: Regenerate is a subset of elect. I'm not sure why you are changing the topic, but ... ok.

MB: But what I asked you was, given that I am a consistent Catholic, can I be said to be able to grasp the things of the Spirit?

TF: Again, I don't know your heart. If you are believing the false gospel taught from the Vatican, it seems you have not grasped the things of the Spirit. That you have not done so, however, is not proof that you cannot do so. Whether you can (and perhaps will), is something I'm willing to leave open.

TF (previously): "I don’t at all agree with that characterization. How did you arrive at it?" and "Competent to interpret Scripture? What does that even mean?"

MB: See above. I don't believe for an instant that you started as a tabula rasa. Therefore, you either started with scriptural interpretations that were fully developed enough to eventually bring you to the study of Calvin's, which then gave rise to the realization that he was a "generally reliable interpreter of Scripture," which is unlikely in the extreme, or, contrary to your statement, you were told by someone else you trusted that Calvin is a sound guide and that you should read his systematic theology in the Institutes and that of his successors to further develop your own. This presumes, a priori, that you, as a newcomer to the study of Scripture and its interpretation and exegesis, believed that you were endowed with some ability which allowed you to tap into the "plain meaning" of Scripture with yourself as the ultimate determinant of the validity of any assigning of meaning to any and every given passage. All while, presuming you are a consistent Calvinist, adhering to some form of grammatico-historical methodology which holds that Scripture is its own interpreter and, since there is no other set of literature with all the same characteristics of Scripture (inspiration, Apostolicity, Propheticity, inerrance, etc.) that there is no other sufficient set of criteria and methodology you can utilize to examine, exegete and interpret Scripture than the grammatico-historical method, that you were competent, in your nascent state, to execute that method flawlessly, or nearly enough so as to allow you sufficient knowledge and assurance that you properly grasped the kerygma.

I answer: As noted above, my personal journey is not the issue. Furthermore, the choice between "tabula rasa" and "yourself as the ultimate determinant of the validity of any assigning of meaning to any and every given passage" smacks of false dichotomy. Nevertheless, the fact is that God speaks through Scripture in a way that can be understood.

TF (previously): "“Follow” is a bit of an ambiguous term. Whether Calvin (for example) and Luther had precisely the same view of man would make for an interesting doctoral dissertation. It’s not something that I’ve studied in any great depth. Calvin certainly doesn’t “follow” Luther in the sense of relying on Luther as his basis for his view of man. Calvin may agree with Luther on many points."

MB: It would indeed make for an interesting dissertation. But I must say I was inexactly using the term "follow" in the sense of "generally adhering to the same views (in this case, the state of man post-Fall) as one's predecessor, even if one does not specifically rely on said predecessor for every jot and tittle of one's paradigm." Calvin, most assuredly, did agree with Luther (as against other humanists such as Erasmus) on the capacity of the will, for example. I do not have at hand a specific reference which would demonstrate Calvin's citation of Luther in this regard, but I doubt you are denying it and therefore do not require one.

I answer: It may well be that they had similar views of man's will post-fall. Luther's "Bondage of the Will" is still popular in Calvinist circles.

TF (previously): "That seems to be accurate – I haven’t gone back and checked it to be sure."

MB: Gosh, thanks ever so. If you have an issue with it, I gave you the citation. Look it up. Tell if you're using Beveridge or what.

I answer: If I was concerned, I'd look it up.

TF (previously): "Calvin doesn’t say Adam had infused righteousness. That would be your claim (I guess), but you don’t derive that claim from the text of Scripture."

Calvin's Commentary on Genesis, Chapter 1, section 26b: [quotation omitted for sake of brevity]

I answer: Again, Calvin does not say Adam was infused with righteousness. I appreciate the reproduction of Calvin's commentary, but it simply demonstrates what I already said, that Calvin does not take the position that Adam was infused with righteousness. Instead, it indicates that Calvin believed that Adam was given a soul in possession of its spiritual faculties. I'm afraid you've misread Calvin if you believe him to be speaking of infused righteousness in Adam (or us in regeneration to which Calvin compares Adam's state).

MB: "And I most certainly can derive it from Genesis 1, for if God created man in His own image and likeness and yet man were not infused with righteousness, then God is not righteous else we would not have been created in His image and likeness. Q.E.D. (That means quod erat demonstrandum, and means "that which was to be proved or shown." So you don't have to go "look it up." Relax, it's a joke.)"

The problem with the proof is that God is not "infused" with righteousness. Nor should we, from "the image of God," derive a conclusion that Adam was like God in every respect.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

TF: "I guess I've lost sight of why you need a longer more complex and nuanced statement. What would be the point in my providing something like that, exactly? I may not have given you a treatise on grace, but I gave you a reasonably precise answer."

A) Humor me.
B) Because it touches exactly upon the central tenet in question: to what, precisely, are you denying man is open? The issue is God's grace and I would like to have more than a sentence of definition from you. I am well familiar with the Westminster Standards. There is no explicit definition of grace in them. There are references to "other saving graces" (as apart from "life" and "salvation from [the Mediator, Christ]") in Q32 of the Larger Catechism, where in the footnote we read that they are the fruits of the Spirit, namely "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," but we do not see a detailed definition, but rather an assumed ubiquitous reference to the thing named. So, tell me which Scriptures define grace for you. Are there more definitions than the one you proffered? And which Scripture passage tells us that grace is "unmerited favor from God."

This reminded me that I wanted to point out to you a follow up after you cited Q32 to me upthread some time ago. You asked "As for the "author of Sin" charge, please feel free to explain why you think that's a bad thing...."

The very standards you adhere to told you that the Author of Sin charge is a bad thing. I'll quote it for you. WCF, V, iv: "The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first Fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin."
Ring a bell?

TF: "If you knew what 'cf' meant and still made the claim you made above, then it seems - at best - simply reflective a desire on your part to impute some negative intention to me that was not mine."

MB: I did, and what seems to you to be the case is not necessarily the case. You gave a reference to the CCC and then quoted, without attribution, the WLC, thus indicating a certain equivalence. There is no reason for you to presume that I imputed a negative intention; I pointed out what I reasonably believed to be a potentially misleading statement. You say you didn't intend to provide support for your definition by comparing the CCC. Okay, but you then did provide other support for your definition by quoting the WLC. Surely you can see why I came to the conclusion I did. If you want an apology for "suggesting" you did something wrong, you have it, but I never suggested you had negative motivation or purpose in doing so. I try as best as I can to adhere to St. Francis Xavier's principle of charitable interpretation. It's funny that you have no qualms about nitpicking and pointing out what you perceive to be errors and condescending to me by insinuating I am ignorant and/or dishonest, and yet I am held to a different standard. Whatever. I'm done playing the DTK "I won't let it go till you own your words" game.

TF: [question repeated about whether I believe Scripture to be the best interpreter of Scripture]

MB: Not always. Often, but not always. As I said, it must and should be done, but of course I don't believe that that is the only way. I deny sola scriptura. This is obvious. I didn't feel the need to directly address it, as the answer is in part definitional. But are you happy now? Let me repeat my request for a distinct and thorough definition for grace and the Scriptures from which you say you cull it/them.

TF: "I don't recall the supposed promise of the gift of infallibilty."

MB: Then good luck convincing anyone you have an infallible Gospel. Don't try to say that you have one because you have inspired, infallible Scriptures; the problem there is that the definition you will point to in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 is in the very text in question, so circularity sort of rears its ugly head.

TF: "Furthermore, the Pentacostal gifts clearly are not practiced by the alleged apostolic successors."

MB: Are you a total cessationist or just partially so? Be that as it may, why conflate the gifts? Where is the mandate so to do? Do you have the power to drink snake venom or be struck by vipers and live? Does that mean you're not a true believer since you can't give that evidence found in St. John's Gospel?
I'm not going to take the time to refresh your memory about the passages the Magisterium has said indicate the promise of infallibility. I'm going to leave aside for now legitimate and illegitimate miraculous occurrences and their value in ascertaining veracity in the present age, as well as the question of testing the spirits, etc. That would be going a bit far afield again.

TF: "Even if infallibility had been given to the apostles (as were the miraculous signs and wonders), there is no reason to suppose from Scripture that such a gift was passed on to any one or more successor of any one or more apostle."

A) Why bring your assumption that everything must come from Scripture? That's not a given.

B) What was passed on to Timothy, e.g., at the laying on of hands, and why did St. Paul tell the Corinthians that they could use the rise of heresies and schisms to establish who was true and who was not? Why did the Apostles exercise collegiality to definitively pronounce on a disputed question of faith and morals, and why was this model followed in subsequent generations? Why did their successors not utilize your method and simply tell people to read the Bible? It's all there, right?

TF: "I don't base my acceptance of Scripture (Old or New) on who penned it, but on who inspired it. The Holy Spirit inspired Hebrews, who wrote is up for grabs, as far as I'm concerned."

I'm curious how you know that the Holy Spirit inspired it. Of course I don't deny that He did, but I've got a certain non-circular method for believing that to be the case. I wonder if you'd care to elaborate on how you came to that conclusion. Likely as not, as with the issues surrounding your coming to view Calvin as a reliable interpreter, you'll dismiss me and deflect the question. Your prerogative. Not a good rhetorical tactic, though. Nice dodge, by the way. And almost in the same breath as you take me to task for not explicitly answering you! Ho ho! Touche.

TF: "If we go to Scriptures to match them up to our preconceptions we can (and often will) get a distorted picture of what they say. Some of the worst apologetics pieces come from folks who try to make Scripture fit their theology, instead of the other way around.

There are no blank slates. People have innate knowledge. Even laying that aside, though, people do not ordinarily approach Scripture without some preconceptions of what they will find. A wise man will subject his preconceptions to the text, rather than the other way around."

MB: Agreed. But with a qualification. Some of the best apologetics has been done that way, too. It's not an either or. Oh, as an aside, what's your definition of innate knowledge, and whence did you derive it? Have you studied Reid or other Scottish Common Sense philosphers or other epistemologies in depth? Just curious.

TF: "Nevertheless, some insist on trying to do things backwards, with the result that we see texts of Scripture abused as men try to shoehorn them into doctrines they don't teach."

Indeed. They certainly did in the 16th century.

TF: " Again, Calvin does not say Adam was infused with righteousness. I appreciate the reproduction of Calvin's commentary, but it simply demonstrates what I already said, that Calvin does not take the position that Adam was infused with righteousness. Instead, it indicates that Calvin believed that Adam was given a soul in possession of its spiritual faculties. I'm afraid you've misread Calvin if you believe him to be speaking of infused righteousness in Adam (or us in regeneration to which Calvin compares Adam's state)."

Let me repeat Calvin:

Since the image of God had been destroyed in us by the fall, we may judge from its restoration what it originally had been. Paul says that we are transformed into the image of God by the gospel. And, according to him, spiritual regeneration is nothing else than the restoration of the same image. (Col. 3: 10, and Eph. 4: 23.) That he made this image to consist in "righteousness and true holiness," is by the figure synecdoche; for though this is the chief part, it is not the whole of God's image. Therefore by this word the perfection of our whole nature is designated, as it appeared when Adam was endued with a right judgment, had affections in harmony with reason, had all his senses sound and well-regulated, and truly excelled in everything good.

I must say, you have a funny interpretative method indeed if you can read that and deny that Calvin taught that Adam had, lost, and that we regained infused righteousness.

TF: "I'm afraid you've misread Calvin if you believe him to be speaking of infused righteousness in Adam (or us in regeneration to which Calvin compares Adam's state)."

MB: He does not limit the righteousness to regenerated man, but extends it, considering his exposition on Romans 8, to man confirmed in the state of grace when he is non posse peccare,
so your objection doesn't apply.

TF: "The problem with the proof is that God is not 'infused' with righteousness. Nor should we, from 'the image of God,' derive a conclusion that Adam was like God in every respect."

Infused is proper to man only, as man is created and God is uncreated. That objection does not apply. Noone asserts that infused grace necessitates becoming uncreated or in any way blurring the Creator-creature distinction. You know this.

Turretinfan said...

MB: thanks for your new reply.

Briefly:

As to providing a yet more detailed definition of grace, I'll see what I can do. I wish I had more time to dedicate to your request, and I cannot promise that something will provided any time soon (or that when it is provided it will be original).

I'm not sure what purpose it would really serve in the conversation.

As I hope I've made clear early, rather than negatively denying "human openness" I affirm that natural man is God's enemy, and that his mind both is not and cannot be subject to God's law. If that's still "opennness," it is hard to see how.

At the other bookend, you continue apparently to believe that Calvin held that Adam had "infused righteousness." Calvin, as you now repeatedly quoted, stated: "Adam was endued with a right judgment, had affections in harmony with reason, had all his senses sound and well-regulated, and truly excelled in everything good." If that's all you mean by infused righteousness, very well. I think of infused righteousness as merit. Perhaps I am mistaken about what you intended to say.

I hope I can respond to some of the other points you raise within the bookends (as well as the lengthier treatise on the nature of grace), as more time becomes available.

-Turretinfan

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