Monday, January 10, 2011

Taylor Marshall on "signs of Predestination" and David Meyer on Limited Atonement at Called to Communion

Taylor Marshall has written a short blog article on "Signs of Predestination" at Called to Communion.See, "Signs of Predestination"

David Meyer, a new convert to Roman Catholicism from a Reformed background
also commented in the comboxes on the difficulty of letting go of "Limited Atonement". (Comment # 7; see below)

I wrote two responses, now awaiting moderation. For this article, I corrected some phrases and added a few thoughts, but it is basically the same as what I left in the comboxes. I hope my comments go through.

Taylor, you wrote:
However, it would be wrong to suppose that Catholic deny predestination per se. Rather, the doctrine of predestination is upheld, albeit with a important qualifications.

Arminians, RCs, and EOs, all must confess some kind of doctrine of Predestination, because the word is there in Scripture, along with the concepts of God’s Sovereignty and election. Ephesians 1:4-5; I Peter 1:1-2; Romans 8:28-34; Acts 2:22-23; Acts 4:27-28; Romans chapter 9, and many others.

Is the Roman Catholic view of predestination the “foreknowledge of future faith and perseverance in some, and then God responds to future faith” ? Or is the Roman Catholic view the “chosen in the Chosen One” view? Or what?

How do you get around the fact that foreknowledge is about knowing a person, not about knowing that they will have faith; (although God knows all things infallibly) ? “whom He foreknew” (Romans 8:29); “Before I formed in the womb, I knew you” (Jer. 1:5)

As a Catholic, what is now more important to me is the “signs of predestination.” In other words “faith alone” is by no means a sign that one is among the elect of God.

Taylor, you make it sound like “faith alone” is taught by Protestants as the only sign or evidence of Predestination. “Faith alone” historically refers to the only way in which someone is justified before God. Luther spoke of living faith and the results of true faith. Calvin and the Westminster Confession says, “we are justified by faith alone, but that faith does not stay alone”, that is, it results in good works, fruit, patience, perseverance, love – very close to those first seven things you mention in your article. Number 8, devotion to Mary, is no where in the Scriptures, so that one is wrong. In fact Devotion to Mary is nowhere mentioned in Scripture. So, it seems that you and the Dominican father that you quote do not believe in the material sufficiency view, but the partim partim view of Scripture and tradition. It seems that that really is the view of the RCC, that “God’s word” is found partly in Scripture and partly in tradition, and tradition according to Rome, is the ability of the church to bring out new doctrines and dogmas that did not exist in the Bible or the earliest centuries.

So follow the eight signs of predestination, but especially foster a deep filial love for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Where is that in Scripture that devotion to Mary is a sign of Predestination? And then, you make it even harder by the word “especially” as if it is more important that the other seven, yet the other seven are in Scripture, at least in principle.

When Jesus gives His mother to the apostle John as the cross, sound exegesis shows that that this is historical narrative and Jesus is giving her specifically to John for John to take care of her. It seems like “adding to the word of God” to then say that Jesus is giving Mary to be the mother of all believers. Even if one wants to say that this shows that Mary is the spiritual mother of all believers, which it doesn’t; beyond that [originally, “then”], Scripture is silent on prayers or praises or devotions to Mary. Praying in front of her picture or statue is wrong and looks like idolatry.

[I add for this article: Taylor, you have added to the word of God, and you do what Jesus condemned the Pharisees and scribes of doing in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. ]

What version of 2 Peter 1:10 are you using? “as long as you practice these things” – these things refers to the things in verses 5-9, and nothing there indicates any Marian devotion, so your argument is defeated.

Taylor, [you called Peter, “that holy pontiff” when quoting 2 Peter 1:10. ] If Peter was the “holy pontiff” or “Pope” or “bishop of Rome” or “bishop of bishops”, he failed to mention it in both of his letters. In I Peter 5:1 he calls himself “fellow – elder”; and in 2 Peter he says that the way he is diligent so that the believers will have a way to stir up their sincere minds in the truth by way of reminder is by his writing this second letter. (2 Peter 1:12-18; 3:1) If there was a such thing as a pope, then he would have mentioned it here, since he knows he is going to die and he is being diligent so that they will have a writing to read and meditate on after he is dead and gone.

David Meyer wrote:
I have always thought that Limited Atonement was really the center of TULIP. . . . It is also one doctrine that I continue to struggle to let go of. (well worn mental paths need some magisterial grass seed thrown on them!)

Thanks for your honesty about having a hard time letting go of the Scriptural teaching of Christ’s particular, powerful, effective Atonement. That is very interesting. Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 show that the people that Christ redeemed by His blood are “out of” (ek ) every tribe, and tongue, and people and nation. It is clear; and that helps us interpret I John 2:2 and II Cor. 5:14-15 properly.

Without that, then you are left with an atonement where Christ died for every individual, but only makes them savable, and does not actually save them. A universal atonement for all individuals does not turn the wrath of God away from anybody. How can it be a saving, powerful, effective atonement? It is up to the person then by the moral power of his own will to chose Christ, which seems like Pelagianism or at least semi-Pelagianism, even if the RCC denies them officially.

“magisterial grass seed” are thorns and thistles that choke out the word of God. The reason why it is so hard to get rid of, is because it is Scriptural and Scripture is more powerful and over all the RCC additions to the word of God. This desire for extra things to crowd out the word of God really speaks volumes, and shows that you have to go outside of Scripture in order to “convince yourself” of the RCC doctrines.


James Swan said...

I wrote two responses, now awaiting moderation. For this article, I corrected some phrases and added a few thoughts, but it is basically the same as what I left in the comboxes. I hope my comments go through.

It's hard to say. John says some his comments don't get posted, if I recall.

But at least some of the CTC folks read this blog.

The irony of course, is there isn't a dogmatic definition on predestination, so the CTC folks can still act like Protestants on this issue.

Lvka said...

Arminians, RCs, and EOs, all must confess some kind of doctrine of Predestination, because the word is there in Scripture

From the original Greek word for `predestination` come the Slavonic and Romanian words for "prophecy" and "prophet". [Greeks, Slavs, and Romanians being all Orthodox].

Brigitte said...

Since I am commenting on this blog, I just need to pipe up and say that Luther did not teach limited atonement.

Converts to Lutheranism describe the torment of conscience in Reformed theology over whether one is "elect" or not that is not dissimilar from Luther's knowing if he was right with God or not. Some speak about becoming pretty much suicidal. And wrong thoughts are difficult to eradicate. Luther talks about that over and over.

The answer to all this is always and only the cross of Christ, whose work is all sufficient for the entire world, whose grace is super-abundant, and who said that all who believe(receive)(don't go looking at yourself to see if you have enough faith) are saved. "Election" is not used in a sense that God limits it. Rather, Luther always said it should be seen as encouragement, as the positive action of God. If was his comfort. Not that he exhibited signs of being saved/elect, but that it was God's work from beginning to end and he could cease looking at himself. So can we, thanks be to God.

Brigitte said...

I also have a comment in moderation there regarding the lecture Bryan Cross posted. This is the comment:


I have listened to the entire lecture by Larry Feingold. I don’t know anything else about him, but he seems to be a qualified man to speak on the subject. Much of the talk I enjoyed. Much of it I and most Christians can agree with. The background on sacrifices, natural law, OT, the efficacy of the means of grace according to God’s promises, is all very fine.

However, he does not from this many body of the talk repudiate Luther’s view, nor show that the eucharist is not now only a sacrifice of thanksgiving, not blood. He does not bring in scripture passages that deal with how the word “priest” is used in the NT, or what Christ and Paul say about the Lord’s supper. Our Lord is abundantly clear that the supper is a Promise, a Testament, not a sacrifice. Look at the words scripture itself uses, and teaching it teaches.

But Luther gets dragged in here, as a red herring to obfuscate that the RC teaching here is not scripturally underpinned or takes away from Christ’s all sufficient sacrifice, robbing him of his glory, thereby.

Luther did not abolish the Eucharist or the mass, only the abuse of it (have a look at the confessions). Also it is wrong to say that Luther taught that Christ suffered in hell. Again, have a look at the confessions. Feingold calls him in one breath an innovator and heretic, but then alleges teachings he did not hold, and does not explore the false teachings which he deplored. There is no fairness in this. Feingold sounds like a man who should know better. And Cross would also know better, I would expect. The never-ending demands on man’s conscience by requiring repeated masses, ceremonies, sufficient contrition (who can know when he has sufficient contrition?), payments–all never-ending or enough and all for merit and the power of the pope–this is what is being deplored. The right use of the Eucharist is not.

I can bring in all the necessary quotes of scripture and the confessions, if anyone cares to hear them.

James Swan said...

Since I am commenting on this blog, I just need to pipe up and say that Luther did not teach limited atonement.

I've mentioned this a number of times on this blog, and elsewhere.

What I think is interesting is how infrequently Luther gets into talking abgout predestinstion, the extent of the atonement, and even the bondage of the will.

Somewhere, I have a cassette tape by R.C. sproul in which he says Luther talked more about Predestination than Calvin did. I think he's in error here. I've read quite a lot of Luther, and his comments on favorite Calvinistic topics is minimal.

James Swan said...

Converts to Lutheranism describe the torment of conscience in Reformed theology over whether one is "elect" or not that is not dissimilar from Luther's knowing if he was right with God or not.

I've been in a Reformed church for over ten years now. I've never come across anybody like this yet. In fact, I know many Reformed who believe covenant children should be considered children of the promise unless the show otherewise, and even then, they would still argue the certainty of God's covenant promises.

I don't doubt you here, but in my church, which is a large church, I've never come across anyone like this.

Brigitte said...

Thanks James. Of course, I could tell you of people who talk about experiencing this, people on-line and people I've met. To me it seems like a logical outcome of the doctrine. Not an unreasonable response.

Viisaus said...

"From the original Greek word for `predestination` come the Slavonic and Romanian words for "prophecy" and "prophet". [Greeks, Slavs, and Romanians being all Orthodox]."

Is that so? So a "prophet" in your language would be someone who sees - perhaps even determines - things beforehand:

"The English "predestination" is translated from the Greek word "proorizo" which means "1) to predetermine, decide beforehand; 2) in the NT, of God decreeing from eternity; 3) to foreordain, appoint beforehand." 1"

Brigitte said...

This is leading away somewhat from the discussion, but we are meandering anyhow. I am a newbie at Catholic and Calvinist dialogue, but as a life-long Lutheran I can perhaps offer points where the confessions really should agree, such as the Catholic complaint about Calvin's teaching regarding the descent into hell. This is how Luther actually handles it. I commented that to CTC, but they may not publish it either. (It is in response to Bryan Cross' posting a lecture by Larry Feinstein in comment #10)

"Just to follow up with what Luther and Lutherans do confess regarding Christ's descent into hell, without having to change the words or the Apostle's Creed to "limbo of the just" (not scriptural, just in case someone does not know that.)

Luther's response to the conundrum is the proper one, to stick with the creed, to not teach things not contained in the scriptures (apostolic witness), to be faithful to what has been revealed and not speculate on what has not been revealed and then make the teaching binding on consciences. This is what the confession is:

'Even in the Ancient Christian teachers of the Church, as well as among some of our teachers, different explanations of the article about Christ's descent to hell are found. Therefore, we abide in the simplicity of our christian faith. Dr. Luther has pointed us to this in a sermon about Christ's descent to hell, which he delivered in the castle at Torgau in the year 1533. In the Creed we confess, "I believe... in Jesus Christ. His only Son, our Lord, who... was crucified died and was buried. He descended into hell." In this Confession Christ's burial and descent to hell are distinguished as different articles. We simply believe that the entire person (God and man) descended into hell after the burial, conquered the devil, destroyed hell's power, and took from the devil all his might. We should not, however, trouble ourselves with high and difficult thoughts about how this happened. With our reason and our five senses this article can be understood as little as the preceding one about how Christ is placed at the right hand of God's almighty power and majesty. We are simply to believe it and cling to the Word. So we hold to the substance and consolation that neither hell nor the devil can take captive or injure us and all who believe in Christ.'

Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration. Article IX."

steelikat said...

That passage from The Formula really clears things up.

Discussions about what Luther really said are very interesting, but Luther wrote many things and it is scripture that defines what Christians believe and It is the creeds, confessions, and official documents that, for the magisterial reformation, are authoritative teachings, not all and any of the words of the Reformers per se.

Blogahon said...

fyi - comments were approved.

For future reference the author of the blog post is the one who approves comments of a thread. if that person is out of pocket for whatever reason or doesn't have the time or forgets to moderate than it might take a few days.

Ken said...

Sean (Blogahon) - sincere thanks for approving mine and others comments!

I understand completely about the time element and not being able to get to a back load of comments.

Maybe some here will go there and see the interaction. David Meyer is responding to my comments and my posts are getting long.

I may put some of the new comments in a new article later.