Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Faith that was Once for All Delivered to the Saints, Roman Style

In an earlier version of this post, I mis-attributed this chart. It originally appeared, in various forms, in James McCarthy's "The Gospel According to Rome," Eugene Oregon: Harvest House Publishing (c)1995. One of the elders in my church reproduced this chart for an educational seminar he was giving on the need for the Reformation. In an earlier version of this post, I mis-attributed it to him. I apologize for reporting the genesis of this chart incorrectly. I have re-drawn the chart on my own system, and I've made some small changes to the text which I think help it to better reflect actual Roman Catholic doctrines.

I've noticed that more than a few Protestants don't quite understand what the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification is all about. Well, here it is folks, "the fullness of the faith," or rather, the full process of the Roman Catholic Doctrine of Justification, "once for all delivered to the saints."

This graphical representation of Roman teaching will, I think, be very helpful to Protestants in understanding how justification (and the whole process of salvation) works in the Roman Catholic system. My hope, over time, Lord willing, is to use the various graphical portions of this chart and talk about the history of the various components of this doctrine.

Effectively, given that Rome has officially defined justification this way, by this process, you can rest assured that every portion of this is to be found, implicitly or explicitly, within the pages of the Holy ["properly interpreted"] Scriptures. Because this is the way that it works: Rome's authority right now is what assures us that this is what the church has always believed about justification. (It's just been believed in "seed form" or some other nonsense like that.)

While I may be joking about this, it is a very good picture of the official doctrine. It gives a picture of what I've called "the Sacramental Treadmill." We can go into more detail about this at a future time, but I wanted to post this now so that we can refer back to it on future occasions.

[Click on the image to bring up a larger, printable chart].

I want to point out something again:
"The Reformers' forensic understanding of justification ... the idea of an immediate divine imputation [of righteousness] renders superfluous the entire Catholic system of the priestly mediation of grace by the Church." (Bruce McCormack,What's at Stake in the Current Debates over Justification, from Husbands and Treier's Justification, pg 82.)
When McCormack notes that "the entire Catholic system of the priestly mediation of grace by the Church" is rendered "superfluous" by forensic justification, it's this entire contraption that is made "superfluous".

(This is one main reason why the "infusion vs imputation" discussion is not mundane, but it is vitally important. The "infusion" keeps this alive; "imputation" gets rid of this monstrosity.)

31 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

It gives a picture of what I've called "the Sacramental Treadmill."

Wow. Looks like something that the Pharisees would draw up.

John Bugay said...

Most of this was "figured out" in the Middle Ages, and it was etched in stone at Trent. It is against the backdrop of this general system that Luther came to understand the biblical doctrine of justification.

Paula Johnson said...

Nice work.

Related question, wouldn't the flow chart of a universalist unitarian look even more simple than a protestant faith alone flow chart?
Could it be said that the unitarian system of justification by birth renders the entire 'faith' system of the reformers superfluous?

I wonder if this is, on that basis, a good argument.

John Bugay said...

Thanks Paula, welcome to Beggars All. I wouldn't say that the doing-away of this system is an argument at all, but rather a consequence. But it's an important one.

The unitarianism should be dealt with separately on biblical grounds.

David Waltz said...

Hi John,

Thanks much for posting this material, it re-affirms the 'classic' magisterial Reformers position on justification and "the Gospel". Now, with that said, if "the Gospel' must affirm that justification comes via the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer, and this in a forensic sense only, and if to be saved one must believe in "the Gospel", who prior to Luther embraced "the Gospel"?


Grace and peace,

David

Lvka said...

You're right on the money, John! Catholics and their pathetically-complicated chart, when the Bible puts it so much more easier!

John Bugay said...

Hi David -- if "the Gospel' must affirm that justification comes via the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer, and this in a forensic sense only, and if to be saved one must believe in "the Gospel", who prior to Luther embraced "the Gospel"?

You may be aware are some folks who would suggest that you have to believe all of that in order to be saved. I can't name any off the top of my head.

It's one thing for the Reformers to have made the effort to think through how all of that works. Paul certainly took pains to explain how it all works.

I think (as Steve Hays has alluded), one of the grand, unifying themes of Protestantism -- the one thing that unifies all branches of Protestantism, in fact, is that they were all fleeing from the horrors of the Roman system. They all agreed that the Roman system was worth fleeing from.

John Bugay said...

Lvka, note this well:

He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Do you have any problems with that?

Matthew D. Schultz said...

David Waltz writes:

who prior to Luther embraced "the Gospel"?

Who prior to Nicea embraced Trinitarian orthodoxy?

We might be able to name a few figures, but the formal expressions generated at the council are not to be expected in previous generations of Christians. This does not mean, however, that previous generations did not believe in the Trinity.

Similar qualifications apply to any epoch of development in doctrinal expressions. As I assume you are aware, the work of good theology is fundamentally to bring attention to and draw out the claims of Scripture and apply them to current controversies or issues. Given the variety of beliefs humans can propose in contradistinction to Scriptural belief, this almost necessarily entails "new" or "novel" expressions of doctrine. New ideas demand new responses, even if these new responses are based on and fall into the framework of older ones.

For example, we wouldn't qualify refinements of God's omniscience in light of, say, a protracted open-theism debate as new doctrine, nor would we qualify everyone who came before such refinements as not holding to strong, robust forms of divine omniscience. (If you don't like that example, simply replace it with Thomistic definitions of the divine attributes of God. Did no one before Aquinas believe in the essential attributes of God?)

Of course, I think Scripture clearly teaches "the Gospel" as Protestants believe it, and I think Clement of Rome expressed sentiments nearly identical to the relevant portions of Reformation theology, so the question is answered on both its own historical terms and the higher standard of the written Word. But to require explicit definitions of "the Gospel" in the early church is to merely appeal to a fallacy of antiquity and/or a faulty exegesis of Matthew 16:18.

Tim Enloe said...

But to require explicit definitions of "the Gospel" in the early church is to merely appeal to a fallacy of antiquity and/or a faulty exegesis of Matthew 16:18.

This is one of the wisest things I have ever seen stated on this blog. It opens the door to a sympathetic understanding of pre-Reformation history, which in turn inoculates Protestants against the perfectionistic readings of history promoted by Catholic apologists.

You have to wonder why it's OK to believe that the Fathers were papalists "in seed form" because the full expression of the doctrine had not "developed," but it's not OK to believe that the Fathers might (did) have some insights that anticipated the full "development" of soteriology in the Reformation. Why are Catholics just obviously "letting history speak for itself" but Protestants are just obviously "hijacking" history?

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

>>You may be aware are some folks who would suggest that you have to believe all of that in order to be saved. I can't name any off the top of my head.>>

Me: Dr. Sproul for one; he is quite clear, and adamant, on this—justification by faith alone, via the imputation of Christ's righteousness alone, is for him, an "essential". (See his Faith Alone, and Getting the Gospel Right.)

>>I think (as Steve Hays has alluded), one of the grand, unifying themes of Protestantism -- the one thing that unifies all branches of Protestantism, in fact, is that they were all fleeing from the horrors of the Roman system. They all agreed that the Roman system was worth fleeing from.>>

Me: What I find interesting is the fact that some of the important elements that comprise "the Roman system" as it pertains to soteriology are found in various "branches of Protestantism" who rejected this "Roman system" (e.g. baptismal regeneration, justification by infusion).


Grace and peace,

David

Matthew D. Schultz said...

David Waltz writes:

What I find interesting is the fact that some of the important elements that comprise "the Roman system" as it pertains to soteriology are found in various "branches of Protestantism" who rejected this "Roman system" (e.g. baptismal regeneration, justification by infusion)

Which Protestant systems understand the concepts baptismal regeneration and justification by infusion as Roman Catholicism does?

David Waltz said...

Hi Matthew,

You posted:

>>Hello John,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

>>Who prior to Nicea embraced Trinitarian orthodoxy?>>

Me: According to the consensus of modern patristic scholars, not one. Fact is, they were ALL subordinationists (see THIS RECENT POST, and the threads linked to therein).

>> We might be able to name a few figures, but the formal expressions generated at the council are not to be expected in previous generations of Christians. This does not mean, however, that previous generations did not believe in the Trinity.>>

Me: Certainly some form/type of Trinity (which simply means "three"/"triad"). However, the dogma of three persons sharing completely/fully in the exact same ontological status, that just did not exist (in any extant writings) prior to Nicea (325), and for many, prior to Constantinople (381).

>> I think Clement of Rome expressed sentiments nearly identical to the relevant portions of Reformation theology>>

Me: John (Bugay) has more than once now referenced Thomas F. Torrance's, The Doctrine of Grace In the Apostolic Fathers, as one patristic scholar who disagrees with you on this. My Sept. 27, 2008 post (LINK) cites other patristic scholars who side with Dr. Torrance.

Anyway, I think your thoughts (as well as John's) speaks to the importance and critical nature of doctrinal development. It also suggests that a good number of doctrines that have been held for centuries by the 'majority' just may be in error.


Grace and peace,

David

John Bugay said...

David: Me: Dr. Sproul for one; he is quite clear, and adamant, on this—justification by faith alone, via the imputation of Christ's righteousness alone, is for him, an "essential". (See his Faith Alone, and Getting the Gospel Right.)

I do understand why he is adamant that such things are taught. But I think God will be much more forgiving about what kinds of things people are held accountable for believing.

As for some Protestant systems not holding strictly to such theology as the Reformers understood it, well, let's just say that I see the next 7 years (and beyond) as a tremendous opportunity for all Protestants to learn more about the history of the origins of the movement.

David Waltz said...

Hi Matthew,

You posted:

>>Hello John,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

>>Who prior to Nicea embraced Trinitarian orthodoxy?>>

Me: According to the consensus of modern patristic scholars, not one. Fact is, they were ALL subordinationists (see http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/09/more-muddled-logic-from-turretinfan.html; and the threads linked to therein).

>> We might be able to name a few figures, but the formal expressions generated at the council are not to be expected in previous generations of Christians. This does not mean, however, that previous generations did not believe in the Trinity.>>

Me: Certainly some form/type of Trinity (which simply means "three"/"triad"). However, the dogma of three persons sharing completely/fully in the exact same ontological status, that just did not exist (in any extant writings) prior to Nicea (325), and for many, prior to Constantinople (381).

>> I think Clement of Rome expressed sentiments nearly identical to the relevant portions of Reformation theology>>

Me: John (Bugay) has more than once now referenced Thomas F. Torrance's, The Doctrine of Grace In the Apostolic Fathers, as one patristic scholar who disagrees with you on this. My Sept. 27, 2008 post (http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2008/09/development-justificationsoteriology.html) cites other patristic scholars who side with Dr. Torrance.

Anyway, I think your thoughts (as well as John's) speaks to the importance and critical nature of doctrinal development. It also suggests that a good number of doctrines that have been held for centuries by the 'majority' just may be in error.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

oops...copy/paste error above; strike the following:

>>Hello John,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

David Waltz said...

John,

You and I are in complete agreement on the following that you wrote:

>>But I think God will be much more forgiving about what kinds of things people are held accountable for believing.>>

Well said...


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

One more correction before I head down to the beach for a much needed run:

The link to my Sept. 27, 2008 post is in error (Blogger, not me this time); the following is the correct link:

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2008/09/development-justificationsoteriology.html

John Bugay said...

I'm not going to get into the business of saying who is and isn't saved. That's God's job and I trust him. But the false teachers and usurpers definitely have cause to worry.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

David Waltz writes:

It also suggests that a good number of doctrines that have been held for centuries by the 'majority' just may be in error.

No, my thoughts don't suggest such a thing. Your conclusion here is based on the position you gave in opposition to the one I outlined.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Btw. In case my lack of a response to your appeals to authority is misinterpreted by our local interlocutors, I don't believe the Ante-Nicean fathers were subordinists, I won't take you at your word that the consensus of "modern" patristic scholarship (however you define the field and its credible scholars) agrees on such a point, and I don't think Clement of Rome fundamentally disagrees with forensic justification. I'm not issuing a response on those points because the purpose of my response was not to enter into a debate on those subjects.

In fact, I think you missed the forest for the trees by focusing on the issue of the Trinity.

natamllc said...

Schultz: No, my thoughts don't suggest such a thing. Your conclusion here is based on the position you gave in opposition to the one I outlined.

That really is a fair response David.

You know, I am questioning "of what spirit" you are of now that I have interacted with you a little bit in blogsphere.

Is it your unequivocal confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, born of a virgin, as was foretold, realized, and now presently sits at His True Place in Glory?

I wonder, do you believe the Three being One?

David Waltz said...

Matthew posted:

>>Your conclusion here is based on the position you gave in opposition to the one I outlined.>>

Me: Are you saying that the development of doctrine is not "important" and/or "critical" in determining ones theology? Note the original context:

==Anyway, I think your thoughts (as well as John's) speaks to the importance and critical nature of doctrinal development. It also suggests that a good number of doctrines that have been held for centuries by the 'majority' just may be in error.==

Prior to Luther, soteriology in "Western" Catholic Christianity was dominated (for "centuries") by the teaching that justification came by the infusion of grace. You believe that this conception is in "error", which makes your reply to me inconsistent, that is, unless you deny one (or both) of the two premises (i.e. centuries or error).

>>I don't believe the Ante-Nicean fathers were subordinists>>

Me: So you believe in an untruth...

>>I won't take you at your word that the consensus of "modern" patristic scholarship (however you define the field and its credible scholars) agrees on such a point>>

==Indeed, until Athanasius began writing, every single theologian, East and West, had postulated some form of Subordinationism. It could, about the year 300, have been described as a fixed part of catholic theology. (R.P.C Hanson, “The Achievement of Orthodoxy in the Fourth Century AD” in Rowan Williams, ed., The Making of Orthodoxy, New York, NY: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989, p. 153.)==

Though Hansen's position represents the modern patristic consensus, this is not to say that important figures in prior generations were ignorant of what the pre-Nicene Fathers actually taught; from the pen of one brilliant Reformed theologian we read:

==…Augustine’s starting point is not the person of the Father, but the one, simple, uncompounded “essence” of God…consequently, Augustine rejected all the earlier theories that posited a dualism between the Father and the Son. The Son, being himself very God, is not less invisible than the Father and is perfectly equal to the Father. All subordinationism is banished. Augustine insists even more strongly upon the Son’s equality with the Father than did Athanasius. In the writings of the latter a few remnants of subordinationism may still be found, c. Ar. I, 59, but Augustine has completely abandoned every trace of the idea that the Father is the real, the original God. (Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, trans. William Hendriksen, Baker 1979 ed., p. 283.)==

BTW, I am not asking you to take my word on this issue, I have provided a plethora of quotations from recognized patristic experts/scholors over at my blog...


Grace and peace,

David

John Bugay said...

All subordinationism is banished. Augustine insists even more strongly upon the Son’s equality with the Father than did Athanasius.

One thing that Augustine did was to rely more heavily on Scripture perhaps than some (or most) of the other ECFs.

Calvin/Warfield/Reymond (etc) have even less subordinationism, while relying even more heavily on Scripture. Interesting trend.

David Waltz said...

Hello natamllc,

You posted:

>>Is it your unequivocal confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, born of a virgin, as was foretold, realized, and now presently sits at His True Place in Glory?>>

Me: Sigh...I have clearly, and unequivocally already answered this question directly to YOU, in the combox of previous thread HERE @ Beggars All. But, once again, YES to all of the above propositions.

>>I wonder, do you believe the Three being One?>>

Me: Explain to me what YOU believe on this matter; to help pin down how you understand "being One", I would also like to know if you believe that there exists any distinctions between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that may be related to ontology.

Grace and peace,

David

Matthew D. Schultz said...

David Waltz writes:

Are you saying that the development of doctrine is not "important" and/or "critical" in determining ones theology? Note the original context:

The original context ties my "thoughts" to your conclusion that my thoughts "also suggests that a good number of doctrines that have been held for centuries by the 'majority' just may be in error."

If you meant otherwise, then fine. The point here is to clarify my position.

As for the rest of your remarks, I don't think they merit an additional reply.

David Waltz said...

Matthew wrote:

>> The original context ties my "thoughts" to your conclusion that my thoughts "also suggests that a good number of doctrines that have been held for centuries by the 'majority' just may be in error.">>

Me: Exactly, and I clearly demonstrated that I understood this to be the "original context" in my previous post to you:

****Me: Are you saying that the development of doctrine is not "important" and/or "critical" in determining ones theology? Note the original context:

==Anyway, I think your thoughts (as well as John's) speaks to the importance and critical nature of doctrinal development. It also suggests that a good number of doctrines that have been held for centuries by the 'majority' just may be in error.==

Prior to Luther, soteriology in "Western" Catholic Christianity was dominated (for "centuries") by the teaching that justification came by the infusion of grace. You believe that this conception is in "error", which makes your reply to me inconsistent, that is, unless you deny one (or both) of the two premises (i.e. centuries or error).****

Let's add a couple more clear examples: I suspect that you hold the doctrine of baptismal regeneration to be in error, a doctrine held for centuries by the 'majority'. I also suspect that you believe the doctrine that the ordained episcopate is the appointed successor to the apostles (i.e. apostolic succession) to be in error, a doctrine held for centuries (at least from Cyprian forward) by the 'majority'.

Now, to demonstrate that my suggestion is false, you need to deny that you believe the examples I have cited are in "error", and/or deny that they were believed by the 'majority' for "centuries". Which is Matthew?


Grace and peace,

David

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Your comments seem incoherent or unclear and I don't think it worthwhile to explore what you're trying to argue. Have a good day, Mr. Waltz.

natamllc said...

David, do you agree with this?

It is obvious that in asserting justification by faith Clement was simply reproducing Paul’s idea without appreciating what it involved, and that he really agreed with the other Christians of his day that salvation is to be had only by obeying God and his will. That the early Christians should have departed from Paul in this matter is not surprising at all. (Arthur Cushman McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1. 85.)

Are you asking me to cite Scriptural references to some "subordination" of the Father to the Son and likewise to the Holy Spirit?

Are you asking me to cite Scriptural references to the "equality" of the Father, Who's function is entirely different? And so on for Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

Honestly, David, I am suspect about you being of the True Faith, the common Faith and Salvation of God's Elect.

I am willing to let you show me I am wrong, gladly!

David Waltz said...

Good day natamllc,

In your last response to me, you posted:

>>David, do you agree with this?

It is obvious that in asserting justification by faith Clement was simply reproducing Paul’s idea without appreciating what it involved, and that he really agreed with the other Christians of his day that salvation is to be had only by obeying God and his will. That the early Christians should have departed from Paul in this matter is not surprising at all. (Arthur Cushman McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1. 85.)>>

Me: I think McGiffert has probably overstated the issue; my own position is in flux (concerning the soteriology of 1 Clement), but I am leaning back to the position delineated by T. F. Torrance. John Bugay has provided an excellent summation of Torrance's book; I highly recommend that you (and especially Matthew) go back and read John's contribution (or better yet, purchase the book):

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/04/romanist-charity-says-zwingli-was-idiot.html?showComment=1271755149338#c6448676819814736757

>> Are you asking me to cite Scriptural references to some "subordination" of the Father to the Son and likewise to the Holy Spirit?

Are you asking me to cite Scriptural references to the "equality" of the Father, Who's function is entirely different? And so on for Jesus and the Holy Spirit?>>

Me: No, I am asking you to define exactly what you mean by "being One", keeping in mind that the non-scriptural term, homoousios has more than one meaning/sense.

>>Honestly, David, I am suspect about you being of the True Faith, the common Faith and Salvation of God's Elect.

I am willing to let you show me I am wrong, gladly!>>

Me: If you could provide for me a list of doctrines that one MUST believe for one to be considered as holding to "the True Faith", I would then attempt to share my thoughts on those doctrines such that you could form a more reasoned position on the matter.


Grace and peace,

David

natamllc said...

David,

I guess I wasn't very clear.

I wasn't asking for your opinion as to what either Clement or McGiffert think.

I was borrowing from the McGiffert quotation of Clement to focus on what "you" think about justification.

Do you believe this is what justification requires?:::>

that salvation is to be had only by obeying God and his will.

God, Our Heavenly Father is one with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in essence "Spiritually".

Of course Christ was also manifested from Mary into a human form.

None of them is restricted from "becoming" one with Their creatures of creations.

They obviously have separated Themselves from the Beast, the False Prophet, Satan, Death, Hades and all of Satan's angels, fallen demons and all humans who's name is not found written in the Book of Life.

My access to God the Father is through being united to Christ by God as Paul teaches in Ephesians and Colossians.

God, My Heavenly Father has made peace with me through Christ.

I now have access to God, My Heavenly Father through Christ by One Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

I am of the view you are not of this view?