Monday, November 02, 2009

Works and Grace

On October 17, 2007, Alan, aka "Rhology" wrote:

NOT as a result of works

The usual Roman Catholic claim regarding the interpretation of Ephesians 2:8-10 was recently repeated, that the works by which we are not saved are works of human invention and/or are works of the now-obsolete Old Testament law. I'd like to devote a post to dealing with this by itself. This is mostly, ISTM, an exegetical question.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Now, let's be clear - our RC friends are saying that justification is at least PARTLY due to works, ie, justification is not by faith alone.
As for this passage, let us note how the ***same*** good works that God has prepared for us to do are the same works that are *NOT* the cause of our salvation. So if the 1st "works" are works of human invention or of the OT Law, then why isn't the 2nd "works" the same?

How can this be (pardon the pun) justified in the RC view?

On November 2, 2009 he asks me:
Scott wrote: (...the only times) I would have to be concerned about "private interpretation" is if I am interpreting something contrary to an already defined teaching

This leads me to two questions, if you would be so kind.
1) When I cite Eph 2:8-10 as evidence that Roman soteriology is contrary to biblical teaching, do you consider "That's just your private interpretation" a valid argument against my contention?
2) When we cite ECF or papal statements that teach contrary to modern Roman dogma on certain topics, do you consider "He was only speaking as a private theologian on that point" a valid argument against the Reformed contention?

These are both related to this issue of personal interpretation.

Peace,
Rhology


My response then is:
I am responding here rather than on the Beggars All Blog since in the comments section I cannot include all the formatting you have used (above).

Let's begin with responding to the 2007 posting:

How can this be justified in the RC view? Simple, the context will show that this is in regard to "works of the Law" - as is the case virtually everytime St. Paul contrasts works and grace. Simply look to the very next verse, verse 11 speaks of a work of the Law, circumcision:
11Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands--
And this fact is made crystal clear by verse 15:
15by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, (emphasis mine)
No Catholic argues that works of the Law justify. We stand by Scripture wherein it says (James 2:24):
24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Ironically, the ONLY PLACE where the words "faith" and "alone" are used together in Scripture is in absolute negation of "sola fide" or "faith alone." You see, we believe that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works," and that true saving faith is never alone - but is always accompanied by good works. Going back to James 2:
17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18 But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

St. James, the Apostle, makes it quite clear that sola fide is a lie - it is a "different gospel" not heard of for some 1500+ years after Jesus Christ and the Apostles formed the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Now we move on to the November 2, 2009 questions:

1) Based on our other conversations, I would suggest you use "Catholic soteriology" or "Roman Catholic soteriology" as opposed to "Roman soteriology." We are not Romans. We are Catholics in communion with the Bishop of Rome. "Roman" alone implies citizenry in a Roman government. If you are uncomfortable with "Catholic" alone (which you should not be, since as a proper noun it implies someone or something related to the Catholic Church or Roman Catholic Church) then I suggest you use "Roman Catholic."
I found it a bit interesting that you respectfully used "Roman Catholic" back in 2007, but now in 2009 you're being less respectful and using the derogative term of "Roman" (alone).

2) I have not nor do I plan to respond to you with "that's just your private interpretation." Your claim is based on an out of context reading of St. Paul and without any consideration of St. James - and is validly dismissed as just that, an out of context statement which has no bearing upon your conclusion. Context specifically denies your conclusion.

3) Regarding your question about Early Church Fathers (ECFs) or papal statements which are allegedly contrary to (Catholic) dogma (you don't need "modern" or "Roman" in there) then I would have to say "I need specifics." I'm not going to issue a definitive statement based upon an ambiguous hypothetical argument.


In JMJ,
Scott<<<

PS - Alan, if you will provide your real first and last name, I will include it in the "Categories/Labels" section, making when I have responded to you here searchable by your name. I'll not be linking just your first name or a nickname like "Rhology."


7 comments:

  1. Hello Mr Windsor,

    I have responded here.

    And thank you for the offer to assign the post a bloglabel, but I blog under the name "Rhology".

    Peace,
    Rhology

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have written an apologetics article on Eph 2:8, showing why the Protestant understanding is not faithful the the full text:

    http://catholicdefense.googlepages.com/eph2

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nick,

    You said:
    Is Paul describing a legal decree of righteousness and a grace of external favor?

    Colossians 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

    Then you said:
    The comparison between Colossians 2:11ff and Ephesians 2 is amazing, in that it is essentially a summary of Ephesians chapter 2.

    Exactly.

    There is no wedge between baptism and faith in Paul's mind, but Protestant theology is forced to create one because faith alone is the only instrument by which grace and salvation comes. This realization also explains passages like 1 Pt 3:21

    So contrary to what Mr Windsor said here, you DO believe that you're justified by works. Cool, good to know.
    And just for the record, I don't have to create one at all, since baptism in those psgs refers to Spirit baptism. Thanks though.

    Peace,
    Rhology

    ReplyDelete
  4. It sure would be nice if "Rhology" had sincere Christian Charity in his remarks instead of so much thinly veiled smart aleck, unsubstantiated remarks. (ie, that "since baptism in those psgs refers to Spirit baptism" nonsense.)

    I read your response to Scott. You not only take brief passages out of context from Scripture to form your non-Scriptural conclusions but you take the ECF's comments out of context to "prove" your still unsubstantiated statement that the Church has not always been one in doctrine. One of your quotes was against Gnostics--heretics. One was against a group that was superstitious--heretics. And on and on...All of those ECF passages were against heresies opposed to Church teaching, not the use of images in Church used properly. The heretics used images in a wrong, superstitious way. After all, God DID use images. (ie, the people were to look at the snake to be healed in the desert, specific instructions for images/statues of angels to be made and displayed in the Temple, the Ark had images on it and around it, etc. We could even say that Jesus was *the* IMAGE OF GOD).

    IF that was supposed to be a jab at the Catholic use of images (as I said thinly veiled jabs of sarcasm), you did not succeed in making your point at all. If you read more about the ECFs and the early Church, you would see that your out of context quotes do NOT support your contention.

    It's too bad that such an otherwise seemingly intelligent man would use his intelligence for such foolery. Many who read your "answer" will see the very thinly veiled contempt you have for your fellow Christians.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Rhology,

    Your comments don't go against anything I've said. In Col 2:13, Paul is saying the same thing as Eph 2, in which we are saved by means of being given spiritual life while the Law is done away with. That supports the Catholic 'infused grace' position, not the 'imputed external righteousness' one. I'm trying to figure out why you responded with your first two quotes, when the Catholic position is being upheld in them.

    R: So contrary to what Mr Windsor said here, you DO believe that you're justified by works. Cool, good to know.
    And just for the record, I don't have to create one at all, since baptism in those psgs refers to Spirit baptism. Thanks though.

    N: This is totally irrelevant to what you quoted. For your comment to even stick, you would need to show Baptism is a 'work' which Paul was speaking against. I don't believe you can, because Paul wasn't speaking in that manner at all (again note the Col 2 parallel which mentions Baptism). As I already noted, Protestants are forced to create that 'wedge' because faith is the only instrument that justifies.
    As for the whole "Spirit Baptism" thing, that's a total invention. Even if it were true, the final result would be just as damaging to your forensic view of justification, because "Spirit Baptism" isn't forensic, but transformative.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nick,

    As for the whole "Spirit Baptism" thing, that's a total invention. Even if it were true, the final result would be just as damaging to your forensic view of justification, because "Spirit Baptism" isn't forensic, but transformative.

    A major theme in the NT discussion of salvation is an "invention", eh? OK.

    You are apparently very ignorant of Reformed soteriology - Spirit baptism is transformative and occurs concurrently with justification, which is forensic.

    Peace,
    Rhology

    ReplyDelete
  7. R: You are apparently very ignorant of Reformed soteriology - Spirit baptism is transformative and occurs concurrently with justification, which is forensic.

    N: I am not ignorant of Reformed soteriology. The bind you put yourself in with the above claim is proving justification is purely forensic when you have just admitted a 'concurrent' transformation. The problem is, Paul speaks of this 'concurrent transformation' in the very contexts he speaks of justification, yet you're forced to artificially separate the transformation from justification in order to preserve your theology. Paul describes the salvation/justification in those contexts as a transformation, thus a purely forensic declaration has no place.

    ReplyDelete

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