40 comments on “A Former Catholic’s Perspective of the Manhattan Declaration

  1. Richard Bennett needs to provide proof to his criticism. All I see here is diatribe. As if the Catholic Church is not a Bible believing Church! As if he thinks he’s not a sinner, or that anyone who agrees or disagrees with the Catholic Church is not a Christian. Hogwash! I truly doubt Richard Bennett’s credentials. I’d like to know his pedegree. The simple goal of the Manhattan Declaration is a declaration of sanctity of life. If you can’t agree with that, then you might as well be a murderer. Allowing abortions, and allowing euthanasia to continue in this country are travesties of the ultimate order. God hates those who have innocent blood on their hands, and by allowing it to continue, to not stand in solidarity against this genocide, is a sin.


  2. “Richard Bennett needs to provide proof to his criticism.”
    David, Bennett provides many citations throughout his article.

    “All I see here is diatribe.”
    Perhaps you should read the article.

    “As if the Catholic Church is not a Bible believing Church!”
    The Roman Catholic Church rejects the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, as well as denigrating the authority of Scripture, placing it on the same level as the Roman church, and embraces false doctrines such as Mariolatry and Hagiolatry, Purgatory, the Euacharist, etc. Their official gospel is not that of the Bible.

    “As if he thinks he’s not a sinner…”
    Bennett makes no such claim.

    “…or that anyone who agrees or disagrees with the Catholic Church is not a Christian.”
    This doesn’t make sense.

    If this is referring to your last sentence, then we are agreed.

    “I truly doubt Richard Bennett’s credentials. I’d like to know his pedegree.”
    The article contains a link to Bennett’s testimony at his website, so anyone can check out his pedigree if they like.

    “The simple goal of the Manhattan Declaration is a declaration of sanctity of life.”
    Actually, that is one of its three separate stated goals.

    “If you can’t agree with that, then you might as well be a murderer.”
    Bennett, MacArthur, and myself all fully believe that murder is sin. Again, I recommend that you read MacArthur’s article on the subject, in which he explains how he strongly affirms the three stated goals of the Manhattan Declaration. Those three goals (sanctity of life, marriage, and religious freedom) are simply not the point of Bennett’s article.

    “Allowing abortions, and allowing euthanasia to continue in this country are travesties of the ultimate order. God hates those who have innocent blood on their hands, and by allowing it to continue, to not stand in solidarity against this genocide, is a sin.”
    I agree with you, and therefore respectfully submit that you have missed the point entirely. The Manhattan Declaration is not a legal document. Those who choose not to sign are not “allowing [shedding of innocent blood] to continue.” TMD is not the only way to stand against abortion. There are many other petitions, statements, declarations, etc. against this great sin, which do not serve to further a Roman agenda.


  3. Parts of this critique are odd. It claims that the declaration is filled with left-wing Catholic buzzwords (including implicit redistributionist ideas, if I understand his critique), but the signers I know of (e.g., Colson and Joseph Bottum [of First Things]) would be much more aligned with conservative Catholic social teaching – which is quite different. In this case, the assumption that the American bishops speak for the church as a whole or the Catholics aligned with this document is also a mistake, I think.

    Moreover, trying to use statements from 40 years ago in the wake of Vatican II to determine motives and ends of contemporary language could easily lead one astray as a lot has happened in the last 40 years and I don’t think anyone on either side of this debate is where they were back then. It leads me to get the sense that there is evidence being used, but more in the selective sense rather than construing the document on its own terms in the most charitable way (I’m back to harping on the intellectual virtues again – I know you’ll forgive me that!).

    Francis Schaeffer spoke of co-belligerents – those with whom we battle on particular issue but with whom we continue to harbor serious disagreements. It seems to me this is intended to be that kind of document, for better or worse. I myself think it is a mistake to see this as some huge advance in the Catholic agenda, but I could be wrong. I’d be more amenable to more subtle critiques, but I think we are stuck with using the term Christian to describe both the Orthodox and Catholics (a tradition that has deep roots even in elements of the Reformed tradition). And to the extent these churches affirm Nicean and Chalcedonian orthodoxy, I deem it a proper use of the term. Do they have significant doctrinal problems (from my perspective)? Of course.

    Perhaps we could make the distinction between their affirmation of the NT gospel – the good news that Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead (that’s the biblical definition) which these churches do and some serious confusion about the means of salvation, the nature of the Christian life, etc. I recently reread Scot McKnight’s article on evangelical conversions to Catholicism and his final paragraph describes some of my concerns about what goes on within the Catholic tradition in particular.

    I objected to the Manhattan Declaration more because it was too thin – focused too much on culture war issues and not on broader Christian vision of justice, including social justice. I don’t know what other term to use. Hence, it is indeed too political a document and in that respect, in my judgment, fuzzies Christian witness in important ways.

    Anyway, a few thoughts for what it’s worth.


  4. Thanks for commenting, Dr. Sanders.

    As far as Schaeffer’s co-belligerents, I would readily stand up next to Roman Catholics, Muslims, Atheists, etc. to affirm the three values of TMD, but not if that meant I’d have to affirm fundamental religious agreement with them.

    “Do they have significant doctrinal problems (from my perspective)? Of course.”
    I’d go farther and say it’s not just from your perspective, but Scripture’s.

    “Perhaps we could make the distinction between their affirmation of the NT gospel – the good news that Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead (that’s the biblical definition) which these churches do and some serious confusion about the means of salvation, the nature of the Christian life, etc.”
    The proposition “Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead” is not good news unless the significance of the statement is recognized. A Christian understands that statement to mean that Christ paid the penalty for my sin, and nothing I can do can add to that. If a person reads that statement and agrees to it, yet does not comprehend its significance, its actual meaning, its good news, is it truly the gospel? If one believes in the resurrection, but still believes that he must add works to merit salvation, is he believing the good news of the gospel? I would argue that he is not.

    Your objections to TMD are interesting; that’s the first I’ve heard of someone objecting because it’s not broad enough!

    Thanks again for commenting, it’s nice to have someone disagree and actually show reasoning!


  5. Patrick,
    “The proposition “Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead” is not good news unless the significance of the statement is recognized.”

    I think I understand what you are trying to say. With that said, however, 1 Corinthians 15 says the following.
    ” Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
    For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…”

    I would say that this proposition is the Gospel, (Good News) regardless if it is recognized. It certainly is the major thrust of the Gospel. Let us say for example; If a Bible was laying on a desk unopened, is it the Word of God? Or does it become the Word of God when it is opened and read? Also, it would be safe to say that some have not read all the Scriptures or even understood all of Scripture. Does this fact make it not God’s Word because it has not been understood or recognized? I understand that “understood” and “recognized” are somewhat different in their meaning but, are closely related.

    If a certain bottle of medicine with life saving abilities is available to a terminally ill person and that person does not take it; does it change the qualities or abilities of the medicine? No, it’s still the same medicine. We could say that the ill person has not had the life saving medicine administered and as a result has not experienced a change in condition.

    Also, we know that Scripture tells us that “the preaching of the cross is foolishness to the natural man”. However, it does not nullify the fact that it pleases God that it is done.

    With all that said, the proposition under discussion is still Good News whether it is recognized or not. I’m probably splitting hairs.

    P.S. I’m not sure if I like the new format of your blog. It seems a little choppy but, we can discuss that when you get home tomorrow. YaHooooo! :0)


  6. You don’t know what you’re talking about. The Bible says nothing about faith alone, except maybe in Luther’s Bible, where he added the word alone in Romans 3:28. But that’s not a correct addition. St. James says that faith without works is dead. Further, the Church came before the Bible, Christianity was taught before there was ever a written New Testament scripture, which shows that Scripture Alone is an incorrect doctrine as well. Jesus said “go and teach”, not “go and write”. St. John wrote that if all that Christ did while on earth were written down, all the books in the world could not contain it. St. Paul also exhorts Timothy to hand down the teachings of Christ. So Catholics elevate Tradition and the teaching authority of the apostles and their successors to the level of Scripture. The Ten Commandments tells us to honor our mother. Mary is the Mother of the Church, so she is, by definition, our mother. But if you think we honor Mary too much, how much is enough? And if it’s false doctrine, why was it correct doctrine for 1500 years? Purgatory may not be in your Bible, but it is in mine. If you know how to read, it’s also in yours. Look at 1 Corinthians 3:14–15: “If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” You see, the Latinate word purgatory means a purgation or burning by fire. Paul in these verses refers to a purgation process whereby a man is saved even though his works are burned away. This is precisely what the Catholic Church teaches. A person at death who still has personal faults is prevented from entering into heaven because he is not completely purified. He must go through a period of purgation in order to be made clean, for nothing unclean will enter heaven (Rev. 21:27). And speaking of Revelation, it is chock full of Saints in heaven!

    Regarding the Manhattan Declaration, what “Roman agenda” do you think it supports? What do you think the “Roman agenda” is? Please, I’m waiting.


  7. Hey Dad (John). You’re right, I used the wrong words. It should be worded, “The sentence ‘Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead’ is not good news unless the correct proposition is communicated.” A written declarative sentence is just a string of words on a page. However, they are meant to convey a proposition, the meaning of the words. How one defines and understands words is very important. For example, if “Jesus” in the above sentence actually refers to the Latino man living next door, and not the Son of God, the sentence takes on a very different meaning. If that is who we actually mean by “Jesus,” then that sentence is not the gospel.

    What matters is the proposition that the sentence is conveying. This is why it is absolutely imperative that people define their terms when debating theology. I’ve had long, frustrating conversations with some before I realize that we are not even talking about the same concept. Hopefully that clarified what I meant.


  8. David, you are correct about Romans 3:28, which reads that “a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” I’d like to hear your understanding of this verse. You are also correct about James, although I believe context shows that James is not discussing salvation from hell. That’s a whole other discussion.

    With regard to the presence of the church predating the completion of the New Testament, you are not taking into account the special authority of apostles, which is no longer active. Of course we are to teach the doctrines of Christ! But our authority comes from Scripture, not the traditions of men, who can and do err.

    Could you provide a Scriptural reference saying that “Mary is the Mother of the Church”? What about her mother? Also, simply because the tradition of Roman Catholicism deemed something “correct doctrine” does not mean that it actually is/was. This is why throughout history, various popes have disagreed over various doctrines and practices. Are we to take this as Christ arguing against Himself, or rather fallen men who have erred in interpreting the Scriptures?

    I don’t speak Latin. And to interpret 1 Corinthians 3:14-15 as referring to a place between earth and heaven where one spends an indefinite amount of time atoning for his own sin is quite a stretch, indeed. Incidentally, I believe that passage is talking about the development of doctrine, but again, that’s another discussion.

    Yes, I am a sinner, along with Richard Bennett. But, praise God, I have been washed clean with the blood of the Lamb. It is because of His righteousness that I will enter Heaven, not my own.

    Finally, regarding the actual matter at hand (The Manhattan Declaration), I posted Richard Bennett’s article because I thought it was interesting as it came from a former Roman Catholic. The “Roman agenda” that I referred to above was the social doctrine as described by Bennett. If you disagree that such an agenda exists, I thank you for your comment, and suggest you take it up with him and his sources.

    P.S. Sorry if it takes me a while to answer posts; it’s finals week. 🙂


  9. Jesus began his Church before there was written Good News. He promised he would send the Holy Spirit to guide them. The first Pentecost, that Holy Spirit came down, and those scared men, huddled together in a locked room for fear of the Jews, became bold proclaimers of Jesus Christ. This is the birth of the Church. As yet, there were no writings. Paul had not been converted yet, and even after he was, he spent a while as a follower, not an apostle. That came when he met the apostles in Jerusalem. He was given the gift of the Holy Spirit by the apostles, whom Jesus gave the authority to do so. Paul understood this, because he passed on his authority to Timothy and Titus. That’s scriptural. The Catholic Church teaches that all of our bishops today have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit which keeps them from teaching error in matters of faith and morals.
    Scripture was written by men, the canon of scripture we have comes from men, the bishops, who decided what books were canonical and which weren’t. How did they know? The Holy Spirit showed them.
    Mary is the Mother of the Church because she is the mother of Jesus. Jesus is the head of the Church. And actually, because of the protection of the Holy Spirit, what was ‘deemed correct doctrine’ does mean that it actually is. Doctrines were given several tests, namely that they were followed/believed by the apostles, their predecessors, and taught by Christ himself. Popes have disagreed on some things, but the doctrine of the Church can never change, because it is truth itself. Practices can change. BTW, the only doctrine is that which Jesus taught, and which the apostles handed down. There’s no doubt that all popes are sinners, but they have a gift bestowed by Jesus on Peter in Matt 16:18-20. Peter himself was a sinful man, as were all the apostles. But it’s Jesus and the Holy Spirit that keeps the Church right on track.
    Speaking of purgatory, your understanding is incorrect. Purgatory is not a ‘place’, it’s a state of being, as is hell. Hell is the absence of God. At our particular judgement, we are judged either worthy or not. If not, then God’s grace is removed from us. If worthy, there’s a great possibility that we have some imperfections that need to be cleaned away before our admittance to the beatific vision.
    You’re right that there’s nothing we can do to attain heaven, because everything we have and do is God’s gift, freely given by Him. Jesus recommended actions in that we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the prisoner.
    Regarding Richard Bennett, I have little regard for ‘ex-priests’, or their opinions, they tend to muddy the water. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the Manhattan Declaration, if you want, but if you want to present the Catholic view of it, you should gain it from a Catholic theologian. Seems Mr. Bennett fears ecumenism.
    And I just took issue with the idea that Catholics aren’t Bible-believing Christians. I’d wager that on any given Sunday, we read in context more scripture than any Baptist, Methodist, or other main-stream Protestant. We do not worship Mary, we honor our Mother. We don’t worship saints, we honor what they did for Jesus.
    I don’t mind straightening misconceptions about the Church as long as someone is open minded enough to understand what we really do believe.
    God bless.


  10. I genuinely would like to continue this discussion, but I’d rather discuss one issue at a time, if at all possible. It makes things much simpler than both of us trying to respond to six different issues at once. How does Justification sound?


  11. Sure! If you want to take it somewhere else, that’s great too…I would like the general public (including Catholics themselves!) to understand the Catholic faith better.

    So Justification…I’ll start by defining the term as a Catholic:

    Justification involves the free forgiveness of sins and the re-creation of the sinner through the infusion of justifying grace, otherwise known as sanctifying grace. This infusion makes us God’s truly just friends and adopted sons (CCC 1266, 1999, 2000, and 2010). God alone causes justification, working through the sacraments of baptism and reconciliation. The basis for justification—the grounds on account of which God justifies—are the merits of Jesus Christ.

    Salvation depends upon not only our justification but also on our cooperation with God’s grace.


  12. To make sure I understand what you’re saying, would you say that one is justified when he is made righteous by the infusion of Christ’s righteousness into him? Could you elaborate on “infusion” and “the sacrament… of reconciliation,” providing Scripture references where possible?


  13. Patrick, I’m not sure about the terminology “made righteous”. I woudl say that we are given a gift. of grace, given by God. What we do with it (accept it, accept it when it’s convenient for us, reject it) is up to us. A gift is a gift whether accepted or not.

    (Aside, may I ask what denomination you are?)

    We believe that God keeps giving us these divine pushes, and that all we have to do is exactly what Mary did-say yes, and then do it. So God calls us, whe we respond affirmatively,.we receive grace. Baptism washes us free of all of our past sins, both original sin and personal sin. “Baptism now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21) Acts 2:38, 22:16, Rom. 6:3–4, Col. 2:11–12). Nicene Creed (A.D. 381), “We believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” Catholics believe in gradual immersion into the faith, so babies are baptized early on, and children are catechized throughout their school lives. But once you reach the age of reason, you are still a sinful man, and if you violate God’s law, in order to receive His grace, you must ask for forgiveness of your sins. That’s reconciliation. For instance, He moves you to repentance, and if you take the hint you can find yourself in the confessional, where the guilt for your sins is remitted (John 20:21–23). Through the sacrament of penance, through your reconciliation to God, you receive sanctifying grace. But you can lose it again by sinning mortally (1 John 5:16–17).

    Does this help your understanding (whether or not you agree -this was a fundamental part of the split at the Reformation)?


  14. I guess I’m still trying to determine your definition of Justification. To justify is to _____? To be justified is to be ______?

    As to my denomination, I don’t belong to any formal denoms. See my “About the Author” page for more info on my background.


  15. Here’s our first problem. The verbs “justify” and “save” are not synonymous. True, if one is justified before God, one is saved from damnation, but, salvation involves more than justification alone. “Salvation” involves being saved from harm, destruction, etc. “Justification” is a legal term connected with one’s standing before God.

    A significant barrier in discussion between Roman Catholics and Protestants is that they often talk past one another due to their different definitions for key terms. Thus, it is imperative that one be specific.

    The Westminster Larger Catechism defines Justification as follows:

    Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which He pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in His sight; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.


  16. I agree that Catholics and Protestants have different definitions, but the Catholic definitions are older, and I think, more reliable because they are closer to the source.

    What you’re saying is that you believe that justification is an instantaneous thing, where we think it’s a process. We have initial justification because of our baptism, but we know we have to spend our life doing God’s will to achieve final justification. James 2:24 “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” In context, what one believes modifies one’s actions – true faith in God results in a desire to follow his instruction to love one another, and thus would result in good deeds.


  17. the Catholic definitions are older, and I think, more reliable because they are closer to the source.

    So far, you’ve only provided descriptions of the Catholic view of justification, not a definition. Also, we have the “source” with us today: God’s Word has much to say about justification.

    We have initial justification because of our baptism, but we know we have to spend our life doing God’s will to achieve final justification.

    This sentence doesn’t even leave room for faith in justification. If the application of water gives us “initial justification,” just what is it that is being justified? Then, to achieve “final justification,” we must live our life performing good works in the hope that God will accept us? What benefit was the work of Christ, if we must still perform good works to gain entrance to heaven? Scripture does not teach “initial” and “final” justification before God.

    James wrote to believers. They didn’t need to be told how to be saved. The justification James wrote about was justification before men. Abraham was justified by faith long before he was tested with Isaac. His obedience was an evidence of his justification, not part of the means of it.


  18. Closer to the source = coming direct from the mouth of Jesus. Because there were NO written words of Jesus before the 50’s at the earliest, we can go to the apostles, guided by the same Holy Spirit that inspired the Gospels, to tell us. But our understanding is, in fact Biblical.

    Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it”

    Romans 6:3-4 “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

    Add verses 6-7 “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed [literally: “justified”] from sin”

    1 Cor. 6:11″And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God”.

    2 Cor 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” .

    All of this shows that our justification is ongoing. You’ve already said above that you believe that justification is a legality, like it doesn’t really do anything. Doesn’t leave room for faith? It takes faith to believe that water washes away the stain of original sin! Knowing and doing God’s will also requires great faith. Look at the world around us, right now, you don’t think it’s easier to doubt? But if you truly trust God, and have faith in Him, you’re not so worried about the events of the day.

    Regarding James, some think that James was writing this to correct a misunderstanding of what Paul was saying in Romans 4:5-6. Abraham’s situation proves the ‘on-goingness’ of justification.


  19. David, I hope you don’t mind, but I reformatted your last comment to make it easier to follow, as well as corrected the versification for Romans 6:6-7.

    I still don’t see how Roman Catholics can get any “closer to the source” than Scripture for their definition of justification (which we’re still waiting for).

    “All of this shows that our justification is ongoing.”
    On the contrary, those verses speak of completed actions.

    “You’ve already said above that you believe that justification is a legality, like it doesn’t really do anything.”
    On the contrary, because of our justification before God, Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to our account such that God Almighty no longer views us as sinners! That certainly “does something”!

    Before we can even continue discussion of how God justifies man, you must still provide a definition for justification. I think it’s interesting that you quote I Cor 6:11, which speaks not only of justification, but sanctification. In addition to defining justification, I would be very interested in how you would distinguish between these two ideas.

    “Abraham’s situation proves the ‘on-goingness’ of justification.”
    This is assertion without argumentation. Abraham’s situation doesn’t prove anything of the sort. James encourages his believing audience to act in accordance with their prior justification.


  20. (Latin justificatio; Greek dikaiosis.)

    A biblio-ecclesiastical term; which denotes the transforming of the sinner from the state of unrighteousness to the state of holiness and sonship of God. Considered as an act (actus justificationis), justification is the work of God alone, presupposing, however, on the part of the adult the process of justification and the cooperation of his free will with God’s preventing and helping grace (gratia praeveniens et cooperans). Considered as a state or habit (habitus justificationis), it denotes the continued possession of a quality inherent in the soul, which theologians aptly term sanctifying grace.
    The word justification (justificatio, from justum facere) derives its name from justice (justitia), by which is not merely meant the cardinal virtue in the sense of a constant purpose to respect the rights of others (suum cuique), nor is the term taken in the concept of all those virtues which go to make up the moral law, but connotes, especially, the whole inner relation of man to God as to his supernatural end. Every adult soul stained either with original sin or with actual mortal sin (children are of course excepted) must, in order to arrive at the state of justification, pass through a short or long process of justification, which may be likened to the gradual development of the child in its mother’s womb. This development attains its fullness in the birth of the child, accompanied by the anguish and suffering with which this birth is invariably attended; our rebirth in God is likewise preceded by great spiritual sufferings of fear and contrition.

    In the process of justification we must distinguish two periods: first, the preparatory acts or dispositions (faith, fear, hope, etc.); then the last, decisive moment of the transformation of the sinner from the state of sin to that of justification or sanctifying grace, which may be called the active justification (actus justificationis) with this the real process comes to an end, and the state of habitual holiness and sonship of God begins.

    I think you need to clarify if we’re talking about the act or the state. God’s act of justification leads to sanctification.

    Regarding “correcting” Romans 6:6-7, I do mind. Your translation reads your way, mine reads this way: We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. (7) For a dead person has been absolved from sin.

    Abraham being put to the test with Isaac, is proof of the ongoing nature of justification. Do you think that, if Abraham had said “God, I will not do what you ask.” that he’d still be justified? God, hypothetically, would turn away from Abraham. Look at David, a man after God’s heart. He sees Bathsheba, and even though he’s God’s anointed, he commits a series of serious sins, then repents. While there was no baptism here, David is clearly God’s anointed, and his path into sin and his rising from it shows his action (by God’s grace) to come back out of it.


  21. David, the only thing I changed regarding Romans 6:6-7 is the fact that you had originally written “Add verses 7-8.” I left the translation completely as you had it. Next time I’ll just leave your mistake, as I’ve done in your last comment with the italics.

    Thanks for the definition. May I ask what the source is, for future reference?

    “A biblio-ecclesiastical term; which denotes the transforming of the sinner from the state of unrighteousness to the state of holiness and sonship of God.”
    In light of this, why did you have a problem with “made righteous” earlier?

    I also do not see how this definition of justification can be supported from Scripture. Is there ever an example of someone who was “initially justified” then lost their justification?

    I suppose we’re primarily talking about the act of justification. I’ll usually say “justified” when I mean the state. I’ll try to be clearer about that.

    I dislike hypothetical “what if?” questions, but yes, even *if* Abraham had disobeyed God regarding sacrificing Isaac, he would still be justified, because he was justified on account of Christ’s work, not his own. That’s not to say that I disagree with you about justification leading to sanctification, it certainly does. James is saying that because of Abraham’s faith (and therefore his justification), Abraham obeyed (part of his sanctification).

    I think the main issue here is a confusion of the terminology of justification and sanctification. While justification happens on the basis of faith apart from works, the progressive sanctification (being made holy) is an ongoing process during which obedience is seen in accordance with one’s belief in the truth (Jn 17:17).


  22. Catholic Encyclopedia.

    Then you bring up another major problem between Catholics and Protestants-we have more than the Bible, we have Tradition, and the Teaching Office (Magisterium) which we consider three legs of one stool, which support the Church.

    In your question, baptism is permanent, so the first part of your justification is never lost. However, by disobeying God, yes, you lose your justification. God’s justification is a gift, but man can reject it. Being disobedient to God does remove your justification.

    Regarding ongoing justification, you’re right, it is through nothing we can do that we become justified. However, we think you lose it by disobeying God’s desire, for us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirst, etc. Regarding the Abraham question, we think that by his disobedience (hypothetical) he would voluntarily give up his justification. He could, of course, repent, say “I’m sorry for offending you, my Lord’, and receive the gift again. But there’s two parts of a gift-the giver, and the receiver. If you get something you absolutely detest for a birthday gift, the giver still gave a gift, whether or not you like it. So you’re reception of the gift would be less whole-hearted, and thus you would be unworthy as the recipient.

    I think we say the same thing different ways. I was busy the other day and didn’t look to see what you had actually changed, so accept my apology for grousing at you. In fact, if you check out what’s happening between Anglicans and the Catholic Church, or Lutherans and the Catholic Church. After 4 or 5 centuries we’re finding out that we believe the same thing much more than not. We just say it different.


  23. “A biblio-ecclesiastical term; which denotes the transforming of the sinner from the state of unrighteousness to the state of holiness and sonship of God.”
    In light of this, why did you have a problem with “made righteous” earlier?

    Regarding your first paragraph, is this an admission that you cannot support the Roman Catholic definition of justification from Scripture alone?
    Regarding your second and third paragraphs, your position is indefensible from Scripture. No sinner who has been justified (on the basis of Christ’s work, mind you) has ever lost his justification (on the basis of his own work). Not only is this position non-Scriptural, it is also illogical.

    Regarding your last paragraph, I could not disagree more. The Protestant Reformation was not a misunderstanding on the part of Rome or the Reformers. When the Protestant says “Man is accounted righteous in God’s sight through belief alone in the finished work of Christ alone, and cannot lose this justification,” it is entirely different than when the Roman Catholic says that “Man is transformed to a state of holiness through faith in baptism but can later lose this ‘justification’ by disobeying God’s commands, then regain it by expressing remorse, then lose it again, etc.” My sin has no effect on my justification, because my sin died on the cross with Jesus. I do not have to worry about being good enough to make it to Heaven, because Christ was good in my place.


  24. I don’t have a problem with made righteous. I have a problem with the idea that you don’t have to keep working on it-the once saved, always saved idea.

    I don’t have to support the RC position with scripture alone. That’s not our rulebook. We have Tradition and the Bishops in concert with the Bishop of Rome to rely on as well as scripture. By the way, Tradition and the Magisterium never contradict scripture. 🙂 You may handcuff yourself, but I will not. Justification is ongoing. You are justified by baptism, but if you sleep with your neighbor’s wife or kill someone, or even if you ignore the poor, or don’t clothe the naked, you are not making progress toward heaven. Also, you don’t think that a baptized (justified) person can find themselves in hell? Or do you believe they weren’t really justified in the first place?

    Your last statement is ridiculous for the very reason in my last paragraph. What you’re submitting is that by baptism, a man is guaranteed heaven. At least by our definition of justification.
    You’re right in your last sentence, but we do have to do something with God’s grace before we can get to heaven. Christ said so in the parable(s) of the talents. It is a mystery, though-nothing we do earns us a spot in heaven-that’s God’s grace. But if we do nothing with that grace, using our God-given talents to good use, we can certainly wind up in hell.


  25. I was referring to your earlier statement, “I’m not sure about the terminology ‘made righteous’.” I guess I misunderstood that…

    The point of this discussion is that Tradition and the Magisterium DO contradict Scripture, especially on the doctrine of Justification. If that wasn’t in question, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. You came to a Protestant blog and argued that the RC church is scriptural, but you won’t defend your positions from Scripture. Where in Scripture does it say that we are justified by baptism? Where does it ever say that someone who is justified went to hell? Romans 8:28-30 seems pretty clear.

    I never said anything about anyone being justified by baptism, I said “Man is accounted righteous in God’s sight through belief alone in the finished work of Christ alone.” Did you not read my entry?

    Unless you’re going to start using Scriptural arguments instead of repeating the “tradition” mantra, this really can’t go any further. If the RC church is Scriptural, and Bible-believing, as you initially came here claiming, then please demonstrate so, instead of lowering God’s Word to the level of fallible, sinful men.


  26. The RC Church IS scriptural. Even those who don’t read the Bible hear 75% of it in 3 years. I can guarantee you I’ve never been in a Protestant church that reads as much of the Bible in a sitting a the Catholic Church.

    I gave you scripture, you just disagreed with our interpretation of it. From the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification:

    Justification is the forgiveness of sins (cf. Rom 3:23-25; Acts 13:39; Lk 18:14), liberation from the dominating power of sin and death (Rom 5:12-21) and from the curse of the law (Gal 3:10-14). It is acceptance into communion with God: already now, but then fully in God’s coming kingdom (Rom 5:1f). It unites with Christ and with his death and resurrection (Rom 6:5). It occurs in the reception of the Holy Spirit in baptism and incorporation into the one body (Rom 8:1f, 9f; I Cor 12:12f). All this is from God alone, for Christ’s sake, by grace, through faith in “the gospel of God’s Son” (Rom 1:1-3).

    The justified live by faith that comes from the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17) and is active through love (Gal 5:6), the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22f). But since the justified are assailed from within and without by powers and desires (Rom 8:35-39; Gal 5:16-21) and fall into sin (1 Jn 1:8,10), they must constantly hear God’s promises anew, confess their sins (1 Jn 1:9), participate in Christ’s body and blood, and be exhorted to live righteously in accord with the will of God. That is why the Apostle says to the justified: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12f). But the good news remains: “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1), and in whom Christ lives (Gal 2:20). Christ’s “act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all” (Rom 5:18).

    19.We confess together that all persons depend completely on the saving grace of God for their salvation. The freedom they possess in relation to persons and the things of this world is no freedom in relation to salvation, for as sinners they stand under God’s judgment and are incapable of turning by themselves to God to seek deliverance, of meriting their justification before God, or of attaining salvation by their own abilities. Justification takes place solely by God’s grace. Because Catholics and Lutherans confess this together, it is true to say:

    20.When Catholics say that persons “cooperate” in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God’s justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities.

    21.According to Lutheran teaching, human beings are incapable of cooperating in their salvation, because as sinners they actively oppose God and his saving action. Lutherans do not deny that a person can reject the working of grace. When they emphasize that a person can only receive (mere passive) justification, they mean thereby to exclude any possibility of contributing to one’s own justification, but do not deny that believers are fully involved personally in their faith, which is effected by God’s Word.

    Want to read the whole thing? http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html

    What I’d like you to answer is this: Where in the Bible does it ever say that the Bible is the only rule of faith? The true “rule of faith”—as expressed in the Bible itself—is Scripture plus apostolic tradition, as manifested in the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church, to which were entrusted the oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly.


  27. I’m sorry for your poor experience with whatever Protestant churches you visited. I wonder at how RC’s view some of the statements made in the JDDJ:

    “Justification is the forgiveness of sins,”
    Must be only past sins, because future sins can make you un-saved again, right?

    “It is acceptance into communion with God: already now, but then fully in God’s coming kingdom”
    Provided, of course, you cooperatively keep your works up to par, right?

    “It unites with Christ and with his death and resurrection”
    But if Roman 8:1,33-39 is correct, and there is no condemnation for those in Christ, and those who have been justified can never be separated from Christ, yet you say that it is possible for a justified man to go to hell, where does that put Christ? Among the flames?

    “It occurs in the reception of the Holy Spirit in baptism and incorporation into the one body (Rom 8:1f, 9f; I Cor 12:12f)”
    Those references do not speak to water baptism.

    Either these statements from the JDDJ contradict numerous things you’ve said above, or they are not to be understood in their plain meaning. (To the JDDJ’s credit, it attempted to use Scripture to back up its claims, instead of simply asserting that Scripture supports their position, in cases where it is highly contested by Protestants and Roman Catholics.)

    Again, if you want to convince me of the RCC’s (and your) devotion to Scripture, as ones who submit to Scriptural truth, then you’re going to have to justify your assertions by *showing* me from Scripture, not just quoting passages.

    I see that this exchange has naturally shifted to another issue, that of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. So be it. Let that be our new focus. I probably should have started there, for it our presuppositions are the place where from each of us is forced to argue. As the assertion “The Bible alone is the Word of God” is my logical axiom, it is literally the starting point of all argumentation on my part. As it is an axiom, it cannot be proven, yet it is certainly self-attesting, as I will attempt to demonstrate in answer to your last paragraph.

    Here are some reasons for accepting Scripture as the only infallible rule of faith:
    1. Scripture is God’s Word (II Timothy 3:16).
    2. Jesus & the Apostles referred only to Scripture as authoritative, nothing else (Luke 16:29; 10:26; John 5:39; Rom. 4:3;2 Tim. 3:15).
    3. The Bereans were commended and encouraged, not rebuked, for testing even the apostles by Scripture (Acts 17:11).
    4. Adding to the Scriptures is sin (Matt. 15:7-9; Mark 7:5-8; Rev. 22:18, 19; Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Josh. 1:7).
    5. If Scripture is given so that man may be complete, and thoroughly equipped, then why is tradition necessary? Are the Scriptures insufficient? Was God unable to communicate His Word effectively without using the papacy? Yet Scripture itself claims that it is sufficient.
    6. If the Pope is infallible, and Peter was the first Pope, then why was he rebuked by Paul for his hypocrisy? In all seriousness, I’m sure RCs have an explanation for this, but I’ve just never heard it (I can’t find a way to word this sentence without it sounding sarcastic, but I assure you it is sincere.).

    The RC claims to have a 3-legged stool consisting of Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium. It seems to me that the stool is a little unbalanced. For (correct me if I’m wrong) the Magisterium is the infallible interpreter of Scripture. Thus, it is the authoritative word on what God’s Word actually says. Tradition is simply the historic practice of… the Magisterium. Where is the check on the Magisterium? The RC’s 3-legged stool gives ultimate authority to the Magisterium, not equal authority. There are no checks and balances here, for when does Scripture ever exert authority over the Magisterium? It cannot, for it has been robbed of it’s power. The ancient Chinese proverb-writer was correct when he said that “He who defines the terms, wins the argument.” The Magisterium, in proclaiming itself (on no authority but its own) the sole infallible interpreter of Scripture, effectively exalts itself beyond all question. The Bereans who dare to use Scripture to question Tradition are silenced. The blood of martyrs screams from history against the Magisterium who burned countless numbers of the original Lutherans (The Lutherans of today bear little resemblance to their namesake.). Was the Magisterium correct in this? If you’re consistent, you’ll have to agree that it was. History and Tradition are your betrayers, for they expose the many errors propogated by the RCC throughout history.

    I want to express that I do not claim Protestantism as innocent of all of these sins. Many Christians have died at the hands of other Christians. I merely wish to point out that the RCC’s past is not as pristine and Christ-like as you’d expect, if the papacy was indeed infallible. Reread Bennett’s article for a refresher. Once you apply Scripture and logic, the self-authenticating authority of the Roman Catholic church crumbles.


  28. Let me take your assertions 1-6 in order:
    1. 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness

    This does not say that it is the only document. It says that scripture is a useful document for teaching.
    Cardinal Newman said:””It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still it is not said to be sufficient. The Apostle [Paul] requires the aid of Tradition (2 Thess. 2:15). Moreover, the Apostle here refers to the scriptures which Timothy was taught in his infancy.

    “Now, a good part of the New Testament was not written in his boyhood: Some of the Catholic epistles were not written even when Paul wrote this, and none of the books of the New Testament were then placed on the canon of the Scripture books. He refers, then, to the scriptures of the Old Testament, and, if the argument from this passage proved anything, it would prove too much, viz., that the scriptures of the New Testament were not necessary for a rule of faith.”
    The true “rule of faith”—as expressed in the Bible itself—is Scripture plus apostolic tradition, as manifested in the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church, to which were entrusted the oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly.

    Protestants read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 out of context. When read in the context of the surrounding passages, one discovers that Paul’s reference to Scripture is only part of his exhortation that Timothy take as his guide Tradition and Scripture. The two verses immediately before it state: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14–15).
    Paul tells Timothy to continue in what he has learned for two reasons: first, because he knows from whom he has learned it—Paul himself—and second, because he has been educated in the scriptures. The first of these is a direct appeal to apostolic tradition, the oral teaching which the apostle Paul had given Timothy.
    2. How did Jesus transmit his teaching? Did he write it? Who wrote the scriptures of Moses and the Prophets? You think Moses actually wrote the Penteteuch? Isaiah wrote Isaiah? There’s even dispute in Protestant circles if there were two authors of that book. These books were spoken before they were written down. Also, see #1 above.
    3. They were testing the apostles adherence to the Old Testament.
    4. Where has any Catholic ‘added to’ the scriptures?
    5. The Bible denies that it is sufficient as the complete rule of faith. Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition which is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2). He instructs us to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess. 2:15).

    This oral teaching was accepted by Christians, just as they accepted the written teaching that came to them later. Jesus told his disciples: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10:16). The Church, in the persons of the apostles, was given the authority to teach by Christ; the Church would be his representative. He commissioned them, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

    And how was this to be done? By preaching, by oral instruction: “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). The Church would always be the living teacher. It is a mistake to limit “Christ’s word” to the written word only or to suggest that all his teachings were reduced to writing. The Bible nowhere supports either notion.

    It is also clear that the oral teaching of Christ would last until the end of time. “’But the word of the Lord abides for ever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:25). Note that the word has been “preached”—that is, communicated orally. This would endure. It would not be
    supplanted by a written record like the Bible (supplemented, yes, but not supplanted), and would continue to have its own authority.

    This is made clear when the apostle Paul tells Timothy: “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Here we see the first few links in the chain of apostolic tradition that has been passed down intact from the apostles to our own day. Paul instructed Timothy to pass on the oral teachings (traditions) that he had received from the apostle. He was to give these to men who would be able to teach others, thus perpetuating the chain. Paul gave this instruction not long before his death (2 Tim. 4:6–8), as a reminder to Timothy of how he should conduct his ministry.
    6. You need to understand the term infallible. It does not mean impeccable, it does not mean free of sin. Peter was sinful, he denied Christ three times. He was forgiven when Jesus asked him “Do you love me more than these?” Peter answered “Lord, you know that I love you.” Three times. Jesus commissioned him to “feed my sheep.” Sinful, yes. But Jesus promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit would protect them from teaching something that was incorrect. Christ instructed the Church to preach everything he taught (Matt. 28:19–20) and promised the protection of the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). That mandate and that promise guarantee the Church will never fall away from his teachings (Matt. 16:18, 1 Tim. 3:15), even if individual Catholics might. Infallibility applies only to solemn, official teachings on faith and morals, not to disciplinary decisions or even to unofficial comments on faith and morals. A pope’s private theological opinions are not infallible, only what he solemnly defines is considered to be infallible teaching.

    Your last paragraph, as I’ve said above, the Holy Spirit protects the Church. And Scripture proves that. The first Christians had no doubts about how to determine which was the true Church and which doctrines the true teachings of Christ. The test was simple: Just trace the apostolic succession of the claimants.

    Apostolic succession is the line of bishops stretching back to the apostles. All over the world, all Catholic bishops are part of a lineage that goes back to the time of the apostles. The role of apostolic succession in preserving true doctrine is illustrated in the Bible. To make sure that the apostles’ teachings would be passed down after the deaths of the apostles, Paul told Timothy, “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). In this passage he refers to the first three generations of apostolic succession—his own generation, Timothy’s generation, and the generation Timothy will teach. The Church Fathers, who were links in that chain of succession, regularly appealed to apostolic succession as a test for whether Catholics or heretics had correct doctrine. This was necessary because heretics simply put their own interpretations on Scripture. Clearly, something other than Scripture had to be used as an ultimate test of doctrine in these cases.

    J. N. D. Kelly, a Protestant, writes, “Where in practice was apostolic testimony or tradition to be found? . . . The most obvious answer was that the apostles had committed it orally to the Church, where it had been handed down from generation to generation. . . . Unlike the alleged secret tradition of the Gnostics, it was entirely public and open, having been entrusted by the apostles to their successors, and by these in turn to those who followed them, and was visible in the Church for all who cared to look for it” (Early Christian Doctrines, 37).

    For the early Fathers, “the identity of the oral tradition with the original revelation is guaranteed by the unbroken succession of bishops in the great sees going back lineally to the apostles. . . . An additional safeguard is supplied by the Holy Spirit, for the message committed was to the Church, and the Church is the home of the Spirit. Indeed, the Church’s bishops are . . . Spirit-endowed men who have been vouchsafed ‘an infallible charism of truth.’” (same reference)

    Crumbles? Not by the power of the Holy Spirit!


  29. 1. My assertion was that this verse attests to Scripture being God’s Word, not that it is the only useful document. Pay attention to my arguments if you plan on refuting them. Cardinal Newman ignores the words “complete,” “thoroughly,” and “every” from verse 17.

    2. That does not change the truth of my statement. Jesus and the Apostles referred only to Scripture as authoritative, regardless of the history behind the Scripture. Don’t forget #1, that Scripture is the word of God, not merely the production of human tradition. Incidentally, yes, I do believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch, and that Isaiah wrote Isaiah. But that’s another subject.

    3. Uh, yeah. That’s what I was saying. The Apostles didn’t say “Believe us and our interpretation of Scripture on our own authority,” they encouraged the Bereans to use Scripture as the rule of determining the truth of the Apostolic teaching.

    4. Let’s see, the dogmatic assertion of the sinlessness of Mary, for one. Either way, that wasn’t my point. I made that statement as *part* of an argument for Scripture as the only infallible rule of faith. I actually didn’t mention Catholics in this statement, you did. Again, pay attention to what I’m actually saying.

    5. First let me clarify that I don’t reject tradition outright, or claim that it is without value. Sorry if any of my statements were confusing on this point. The “Word of the Lord” (“good news which was preached”) is simply the gospel message. It is not supplanted by Scripture, but it is contained in Scripture, and will abide forever. Scripture can be preached. The gospel continues to be preached. But the gospel is found in God’s word, not man’s word. As far as Paul and Timothy are concerned, as you are fond of pointing out, Scripture was not yet complete. Yet now, the canon is closed… Isn’t it? If so, why is it closed? Doesn’t the Magisterium hold the teaching authority of the apostles? Why can’t new Scripture be written? Wouldn’t it help to have more of God’s word authoritatively written down, instead of stored in the heads of a succession of popes?

    6. You said, “Infallibility applies only to solemn, official teachings on faith and morals, not to disciplinary decisions or even to unofficial comments on faith and morals. A pope’s private theological opinions are
    not infallible, only what he solemnly defines is considered to be infallible teaching.”
    How can you sustain this claim, this distinction? Is it in Scripture? Or do you only have the word of men to authorize their own word? So much for the claim that Scripture supports this position, if you have to start throwing in disclaimers like this.

    Quoting an ecumenical Anglican such as Kelly really isn’t the best source for a Protestant view. I could quote Richard Bennett, a former priest, who should therefore have even more weight, but you wouldn’t like that. You also sidestepped the RCC’s bloody history, just as the Manhattan Declaration did. Does this mean you believe the RCC was correct in it’s treatment of the Reformation “heretics”? Or is this another case where the infallible magisterium was fallible? You also ignored how the “3-legged stool” gives ultimate authority to the magisterium.

    This seems to be an ongoing practice of bait and switch. Observe:
    1. You claimed that Roman tradition never contradicts the teaching of Scripture.
    2. I tried to demonstrate that the RC teaching on justification does indeed contradict Scripture.
    3. You responded by calling on RC tradition to back up your assertions.
    4. We switched topics to the authority of Scripture and Tradition.
    5. I provided some Scripture references as evidence for the sufficiency of Scripture.
    6. You responded by ignoring what I actually said and going off on tangents (points 1 & 4, and my last two paragraphs), offering “refutations” that didn’t refute my arguments (points 2 & 3), and again calling on RC tradition to back up your assertions (point 6).

    Your argument boils down to “RC tradition is correct because RC tradition is correct.” This is called begging the question. I really don’t have time to keep chasing my tail like this. If you can’t prove the RCC’s scriptural authority without resorting to RCC tradition, you’ve lost your initial argument. Some non-fallacious argumentation is needed before this can continue. The Pharisees had traditions too, but they weren’t founded on Scripture, and thus were rejected by Christ. Isaiah 8:20 is a good verse to consider: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”


  30. 1. Then we agree that Apostolic writings and Tradition are valid. And that Scripture is the inspired word of God. But even the words “complete”, “thouroughly” and “every”, if they were in 2 Timothy 3:17 (is that the verse 17 you were referring to?) do not cut out apostolic writing as being true
    2. You seem to be saying that the New Testament is not Scripture. They were authored by men. Sinful men. I don’t think you really believe that.
    4. That’s not added to scripture.
    5. Apostolic writing is also the “word of the Lord” because it is kept true by the Holy Spirit, which is Who kept the writing in the canon of the New Testament correct. The Holy Spirit kept the teaching of the apostles and their successors on point. Why can’t new Scripture be written? Because the Catholic church decided, under guidance of the Holy Spirit, that canonical scripture was certain things, namely written by those closest to Jesus Himself. And once the last apostles died, there was no new canon. But can their be more writing? Sure, even John said that “all the books on earth could not contain all that Jesus did.” By the way, Popes write incessantly. We honor all their writings.
    6. Because Jesus said so. He told Peter that he was the Rock on which he would build his Church, and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. He sent the Holy Spirit to protect the Church, Peter being the head of the Church on earth.Matt 16:18-20. Thanks!
    I haven’t sidestepped humanity’s bloodshed in the name of the Catholic Church at all. I’m waiting for you to show me some sources that the “RC” Church burned Lutheran heretics. Regarding the magisterium, you need to try to understand what infallibility is and what it is not. Try reading above. There was only one sinless human.

    You’re right, I did claim that the RC Church doesn’t contradict Scripture in any way. And I showed you that Scripture supports our teaching on justification, and how Tradition supports that definition. When we switched to Scripture and Tradition (and Magisterium), you quoted some scripture to prove your point, and I showed you how, in context, you were wrong.

    My argument goes one step further than your characterization. I hold that RC Tradition is correct because the Holy Spirit makes it correct. I have constantly provided Scripture references that you think don’t prove anything.

    Finally, regarding Mary’s sinlessness, when the Angel Gabriel visited Mary, and greeted her, not by name, Luke 1:28, what exactly does “full of grace” mean? Our answer is that she was sinless at the time, and based on the Greek, would always be sinless. The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind. Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning “to fill or endow with grace.” Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present. So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit. In fact, Catholics hold, it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence.


  31. 1. Depends on what you mean by “valid”. The point is that Scripture is self-sufficient. Apostolic tradition can be useful, edifying, etc. but if Scripture makes a man complete, and thoroughly equipped for every good work, then that tradition should be based upon the written word. Yes, I was referring to 2 Tim 3:17. You are correct, I’m not saying that apostolic writings must be false; I’m saying that they should not be held at the same level of authority as God-breathed Scripture.

    2. Reread my comment, I said “Scripture is the word of God, not merely the production of human tradition.” This includes both Old and New Testaments. I don’t know how much clearer I can be on this point.

    3. Am I to take your silence as a concession?

    4. Yes it is. I’ll treat your final paragraph regarding Mary here. Interesting that you say that there “was only one sinless human,” and later you identify Mary as that sinless one. But Christ was human, wasn’t He? I’ll assume this is just a careless mistake. To interpret kecharitomene to mean without sin is quite a stretch (and claiming that the Holy Spirit told you so won’t work either). Whereas Jesus Christ was often described as sinless (I Peter 2:22; I John 3:5; Isaiah 53:9; John 8:46, etc.), Mary is never described in such terms, only that she was “full of grace,” or better yet, a “favored one.” Now, Mary was certainly favored, in that she was chosen out of all women to be the mother of Jesus! Jesus was also favored (John 1:14, etc.), as well as Noah (Genesis 6:8). Noah certainly wasn’t sinless. Roman Catholics are on shaky ground when they try to use Luke 1:28 to prove that Mary never sinned, especially when that would make her the exception to the rule of the entire human race (besides the God-man Jesus Christ). Notice that I’m not denying that she was “full of grace,” as some might. I’m denying that “full of grace” means “without sin”. Sin is not mentioned, as it is often mentioned when describing the sinlessness of Jesus.

    5. Are you saying that extra-biblical apostolic writing was inspired in the same way as canonical Scripture? Just want to be clear before I respond, thanks.

    6. No, Jesus did not say “Infallibility applies only to solemn, official teachings on faith and morals, not to disciplinary decisions or even to unofficial comments on faith and morals. A pope’s private theological opinions are not infallible, only what he solemnly defines is considered to be infallible teaching.” You did. I wasn’t disputing Peter as the first pope (although I’d be happy to). I was asking where in Scripture do you find a distinction made between a pope’s “solemn, official teachings” and “unofficial comments.” I don’t see that anywhere in the passage you provided. Incidentally, Peter was a stone, Christ Himself was the Rock. But that’s another discussion. The point is, the RC disclaimer about papal infallibility only applying to solemn declarations is completely arbitrary and has no basis in Scripture.

    Regarding the RCC’s execution of protestants (which is what I meant by “original Lutherans,” sorry for any confusion) as well as pre-reformation executions, I originally posted Bennett’s article in which he reminds readers of the following:

    Beginning in 1203, with “ethnic cleansing” of the Bible-believing Albigenses in France, the Papacy instituted its murderous system of Inquisition. In 1572, the Papacy, under edict from Pope Pius V before his death, was instrumental in the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, in which as many as 70,000 French Huguenots were “ethnically cleansed” from France. In the seventeenth century, the Papacy was heavily invested in “ethnic cleansing” of the Bible-believing Vaudois, or “people of the valleys” of the Cottian Alps. During World War II, the Roman Catholic state of Croatia, with the approval of the Papacy, inflicted “ethnic cleansing” on the Serbian Orthodox and others.

    See Bennett’s article for his sources. One need only pick up a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to find many other examples.

    I understand that infallible does not mean sinless. But if actions speak louder than words, as they say, the atrocities committed by popes of the past are evidence of their fallible nature, for did they not solemnly authorize such executions in the name of God, as His vicar?

    You did not show that Scripture supports the RC definition of justification. You quoted some passages, and instead of exegeting them, you provided the RC interpretation of those verses, and bade me not question them, since they were given with the authority of RC tradition. As my last reply showed, you did not demonstrate that I was wrong. Surely, you do not accept my explanation of Mary’s favored status, do you? I thought not, even though I argued from Scripture without resorting to traditions of men. Simply speaking, you cannot be proved right merely by claiming to be right.


  32. Scripture in no way proclaims that it is self-sufficient. Period. The point is that the apostolic writings were actually held as equal for 1500 years, so what changed? That some people all of a sudden didn’t think that 1500 years was important to know their Savior?
    Regarding #2, the same Holy Spirit that provided for the Scriptures to be the word of God was also at work on the Apostles and their successors, making their writings just as important.
    Regarding #3, yes, I rely on Scripture, Magisterium and Tradition, none of which contradicts any of the other two.
    Regarding #4 Christ was God AND Human, Mary was pure human. kecharitomene/full of grace-what exactly does that mean to you? Full (to the top) of God’s grace. Since the word kecharitomene is a perfect participle it means always was, always will be. That’s scripture. “Favored one” is a much later interpretation to get you protestants out from under Mary’s sinlessness.
    5. Yes.
    6. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide the pope and magesterium.

    I’ll deal with the rest another time.


  33. Regarding the Albigensians, I think you have to put yourself in that place in history to understand. And while doing that doesn’t change how you think of things, and looking in hindsight brings it into 20/20 clarity, it gives you insight.

    The Albigensians were a group of fallen away Catholics in a Catholic country who believed opposite of Church teaching. They believed marriage to be evil, pregnancy to be abhorred, abortion to be ethical, and suicide by starvation to be revered. The Church did not just gather them up and burn them. They tolerated them, and preached to them, with the likes of the great St. Dominic.

    So, before any inquisition or trial, attempts were made to rehabilitate them. Mostly unsuccessful. Also to be noted, the Church never killed anyone, though they did stand by and allow it. Raymond VI and Raymond VII along with Simon de Montfort were the ones who actually tried and sentenced them.


  34. I mis-spoke of the Albigensians, who were actually more of a Gnostic sect, rather than Catholics gone wrong.


  35. First, let me thank you for your patience as I’ve taken awhile to respond. Life’s been busy lately, with no sign of slowing down.

    Regarding points 1 & 3, those are assertions that I disagree with. In fact, if I accepted them, we wouldn’t even have begun this conversation. Merely repeating them won’t convince me.

    2 & 5: If Scripture forbids adding to Scripture, what does this mean? If it does not mean regarding extrabiblical writings as holding equal weight as Scripture, it means nothing.

    4: “Christ was God AND Human, Mary was pure human.” If you’re implying, by stating that Mary was pure human, that Christ was not (perhaps half-human?), you may want to revisit Chalcedon. Christ is/was human. He was sinless. He is/was also God. I already explained what “full of grace” means. Since neither of us will accept the other’s translation/interpretation, we’ll have to let the readers decide which interpretation is more of a stretch: that Mary was highly favored, or that she was sinless from the cradle to the grave, despite Scripture’s teaching that all have sinned. Either way, #4 was originally not about Mary, but about adding to Scripture. It seems that points 2,4, and 5 have all melded into one another, so I’ll point you to my statement above re: 2&5.

    6. No He didn’t. The Pope and the Magisterium have performed a massive eisegesis, reading themselves into Scripture. Again, as with points 1 & 3, this is an assertion that you can’t expect me to accept on the basis of Magisterial authority. I’m not Roman Catholic. Like the Bereans, I examine Scripture to validate teachers, rather than consult the Pope to validate my reading of Scripture.

    Regarding Catholic persecution of Protestants & others, I fear our discussion will result in another back-and-forth, dead end interpretation of history. Protestant (and other) historians will be accused of twisting the facts, whereas Catholic historians will deny any part in the matter, including influence over governmental executions of Protestants. Alas, it seems that we’ve reached a dead end at every turn. Gratuitous assertions may be just as gratuitously denied. Still, I thank you for this opportunity for interaction.

    I’d like to suggest three resources, written by far greater minds than I. First, regarding the subject of Sola Scriptura vs. Sola Ecclesia, I recommend W. Gary Crampton’s “By Scripture Alone,” which includes responses to arguments made by Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis in his book, “Not by Scripture Alone.”

    Regarding Papal origins, historian Eamon Duffy, in his book “Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes,” points out the blurred history behind Petrine succession. See an excerpt here: http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/eamon-duffy-on-the-origins-of-the-papacy/#more-7615

    Regarding our earlier topic of Justification & Sanctification, I’d like to recommend the following excellent article: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/139a-TheRelationshipbetweenJustification.pdf

    It succinctly explains the distinction and relationship between justification and sanctification, in a manner clearer than most modern Evangelicals today. I think you (and other readers) will find it a very thought-provoking read.


  36. That’s no problem, I’ve been on vacation. Easy to be patient when you’re not thinking of blogging or computers at all. 🙂

    Regarding #1,2,3 and 5, we’re just going in circles. But nobody is adding anything to scripture. Explaining it, understanding it, yes. Being given insight by the Holy Spirit, yes. But we’re not adding to canon.

    Regarding #4, don’t put words in my mouth, please. Mary was only human, pure human. Christ was human and divine, 100% each. But Mary was the only perfect human, made perfect by God’s grace, through no act of her own. But what about Romans 3:23, “all have sinned”? Have all people committed actual sins? Consider a child below the age of reason. By definition he can’t sin, since sinning requires the ability to reason and the ability to intend to sin. This is indicated by Paul later in the letter to the Romans when he speaks of the time when Jacob and Esau were unborn babies as a time when they “had done nothing either good or bad” (Rom. 9:11).

    We also know of another very prominent exception to the rule: Jesus (Heb. 4:15). So if Paul’s statement in Romans 3 includes an exception for the New Adam (Jesus), one may argue that an exception for the New Eve (Mary) can also be made.

    Paul’s comment seems to have one of two meanings. It might be that it refers not to absolutely everyone, but just to the mass of mankind (which means young children and other special cases, like Jesus and Mary, would be excluded without having to be singled out). If not that, then it would mean that everyone, without exception, is subject to original sin, which is true for a young child, for the unborn, even for Mary—but she, though due to be subject to it, was preserved by God from it and its stain.
    Regarding #6, let’s see in scripture where Jesus proclaimed the pope and magisterium, and that he made them infallible:
    Christ instructed the Church to preach everything he taught (Matt. 28:19–20) and promised the protection of the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). That mandate and that promise guarantee the Church will never fall away from his teachings (Matt. 16:18, 1 Tim. 3:15), even if individual Catholics might.

    As Christians began to more clearly understand the teaching authority of the Church and of the primacy of the pope, they developed a clearer understanding of the pope’s infallibility. This development of the faithful’s understanding has its clear beginnings in the early Church. For example, Cyprian of Carthage, writing about 256, put the question this way, “Would the heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come?” (Letters 59 [55], 14). In the fifth century, Augustine succinctly captured the ancient attitude when he remarked, “Rome has spoken; the case is concluded” (Sermons 131, 10). So actually, scripture, here, validates the teachers, just as you asked them to do, as it always does when properly understood. That you don’t believe it is your own problem, and by doing that, you make yourself your own pope. In fact, every protestant, and many Catholics (including me) make themselves their own pope when they strike out on their own and do not obey the word of God, the way it was meant to be understood. By removing the early church writings you disassociate yourself with the true meaning of what was written. If you’ve ever played the game of telephone, where you whisper something to someone, and they pass it on, and they pass it on, etc. when it comes back to you it’s totally different than what you originally whispered. On the other hand, if you trust the Church Fathers, and their successors, who are guided by the Holy Spirit from teaching error (see above for reference), you see the completeness of what Christ left us. The line of papal succession is not blurred at all. We may not know a great deal about some of them, but who they were, we know.

    At any rate, let me leave you with this. You say that the Catholic point of view favors Catholics and the Protestant point of view doesn’t, but who are you going to believe, an insider or an outsider? When you enter a church and see someone kneeling before a statue of Mary, someone who doesn’t know any better might think she’s worshiping a statue. That’s what it might look like on the surface, and truth be told, in some cases with some people, it borders on that. But if you ask the person what they were doing, they will most probably say that they were praying for Mary’s intercession. You might have all sorts of misconstruals of exactly what they were doing, because you believe that saints can’t be prayed to/worshipping statues is a sin (it is, BTW)/ even having statues is a sin (it isn’t)/what makes Mary so important?/praying to Mary is wrong (that’s not what the person was doing), and so on. With most people, they were living their faith. And the Catholic church nowhere teaches that we should worship Mary or any Saint or any statue. We know that those in heaven are alive because it says so in the Bible. We know that making graven images is not forbidden, in fact, God commanded Moses to make one. Worshipping them is what’s forbidden because only God is to be worshipped. We don’t worship Mary, the Church doesn’t teach us to. But only a Catholic would know that.

    Look, I know that the hierarchy of the Church through the centuries has been made up of sinful men, sometimes immoral men, and have made bad decisions (or good decisions which produced bad results). But we tend to remember that Jesus was in the Upper Room with a bunch of sinners. Peter was as much a sinner as Judas was. The difference is that Peter repented, Judas didn’t. The Crusades were necessary for what the Church wanted them to do, their expected results. But the people who actually did the crusades didn’t do what was expected, instead turning to worldly cares. There are countless examples. But the Church is holy because Jesus, her head, is holy, not because Peter or any other Pope might be. The pope, and the magisterium gain their holiness only from the grace of the Holy Spirit, and only in matters of teaching faith and morals.

    By the way, speaking of history, did you know that the Catholic Church was reforming itself 100 years before Martin Luther ever nailed his 95 theses to the door at Wittenburg Cathedral? And that he was being used by secular authority to wrest power and wealth from the Catholic Church?


  37. The problem with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is that when a believer disagrees with the leaders he is supposed to submit to, he then finds other leaders that agree with his interpretation to submit to. This is not submitting to church authority, it is submitting to self. Submitting to yourself is just another way of saying you don’t submit at all! There is a helpful way to remember this concept:

    “If I only submit when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.”


  38. “Francis Schaeffer spoke of co-belligerents – those with whom we battle on particular issue but with whom we continue to harbor serious disagreements. It seems to me this is intended to be that kind of document, for better or worse.”

    Certainly it is for worse and Schaeffer was sadly wrong. I came across this recently on another blog and from Ron Paul’s former Chief of Staff (and a man Patrick is certainly familiar with) that speaks directly to the question of co-belligerency:


    BTW, enjoyed your conversation with Mr. Thayer. Nice job explaining the Gospel. 🙂


  39. @David: Please provide source material for your accusation of the Albigensians.

    The elevation of the apocrypha & deuterocanonicals by the Roman Church is adding to canon. These books were never considered by the Jews to be inspired.

    Again, you cannot exegete and dogmatically claim that Mary was sinless from the phrase “full of grace.” Sorry.

    Yes, Jacob & Esau had committed no acts of sin prior to their birth, yet this does not mean they were not sinners by nature (cf. Ps 51:5).

    Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and was not born under the curse of Adam. Where in Scripture is Mary referred to as the “New Eve”? I wasn’t aware Jesus had an Oedipus complex.

    Matthew 28:19-20 mentions no pope, magisterium, or infallibility. It is a command given to Christians.

    John 16:13 mentions no pope, magisterium, or infallibility. It is a promise made to Christians that the Holy Spirit will enlighten their minds to truth.

    You claim that Matthew 16:18 and 1 Timothy 3:15 teach that “the [Roman] Church will never fall away from [H]is teachings.” Yet this cannot be deduced from Christ promising that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. At most this implies that there will always be a remnant of believers, just as there has been throughout history. The Roman church inserts very imaginative leaps of logic and interpretation into key passages, assuming their conclusion, not proving it.
    Far from me disbelieving Scripture, I believe all of it (that’s 66 books, mind you), and place it in its rightful place as the highest authority, above popes, councils, and creeds. While the Holy Spirit is my guide to truth, I am still a fallible sinner. Not to be cliched or anything, but unless I’m convinced by Scripture and plain (not popish) reason, I’ll stick to my current view.
    “The line of papal succession is not blurred at all.” More assertion without argumentation or even citation. You might as well be saying “Nuh-uh!”
    Thank you for clarifying that for the Romanist, prayer is not a part of worship. I wonder what worship is?
    Luther was used by secular authority (I assume you mean the German nobility?) to wrest power and wealth from the Catholic Church? Interesting how one’s point of view changes how they would state the nature of affairs. One might also say that Luther’s exegesis of Scripture encouraged Christians to end their recognition of the Roman usurping of authority. One might say that 9/11 was an inside job; one might also say that’s propaganda. We can only know what Scripture tells us.
    Believers are called to compare their leaders’ teaching with Scripture, and reject false teachers. These false teachers will rise up *inside the church,* no less. This is not submission to self, it’s submission to Scripture, and to godly leaders who continue to preach the good news of the work of Christ alone, by grace alone, received through belief alone, known by Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.


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