Saturday, January 09, 2010

Sola Fide Lie for Rhology

The Lie of Sola Fide Exposed by Rhology
Alan/Rhology on James 2
"When James says that faith alone does not justify, faith here refers to mere intellectual assent. For instance, demons affirm monotheism, but such “faith” is not wholehearted and glad-hearted assent that leads demons to embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Instead, the faith of demons is theologically orthodox, but leads them to shudder because they fear judgment (James 2:19). The faith that saves, according to Paul, embraces Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, placing one’s life entirely in his hands. James criticizes a “faith” that notionally concurs with the gospel but does not grip the whole person. In other words, James does not disagree with Paul’s contention that faith alone justifies, but he defines carefully the kind of faith that justifies. 

sw:  The point which Alan appears to be missing here is that St. James is contrasting faith with works vs. faith alone.  Faith alone is dead, whereas faith with works is not dead - and faith with works justifies.  THAT is the context of James 2.  We can fully understand why Alan would want and even need to minimize the actual context of James 2, for it flies in the face of his version of Calvinism - and there are several versions of Calvinism.  The demons St. James refers to do not have mere intellectual assent, they know that Jesus is God - and they also know that they are damned, and thus they shudder.

AR continues:  The faith that truly justifies can never be separated from works. Works will inevitably flow as the fruit of such faith. Faith that merely accepts doctrines intellectually but does not lead to a transformed life is “dead” (James 2:17, 26) and “useless” (James 2:20). Such faith does not “profit” (ophelos [James 2:14, 16 RSV]) in the sense that it does not spare one from judgment on the last day. 

sw: Alan confirms, accurately, that faith which truly justifies can never be separated from works.  By that testimony he is also affirming that sola fide is a lie, for faith which justifies is never alone.  

AR continues: Those who have dead and barren faith will not escape judgment. 

sw: We agree.

AR continues: True faith is demonstrated by works (James 2:18). 

sw: Again, we agree.

AR continues: James does not deny that faith alone saves, 

sw: Yes, in fact he explicitly states that such a faith is a dead faith and cannot save you!

AR continues:  ...but it is faith that produces (synergew) works and is completed (teleiow) by works (James 2:22). The faith that saves is living, active, and dynamic. It must produce works, just as compassion for the poor inevitably means that one cares practically for their physical needs (James 2:15-16)....
 
sw:  Alan confirms again that a faith which is alone is not living, active or dynamic - but is precisely what St. James condemns as a "dead faith."

AR continues: The foregoing comments, of course, need qualification. As I argued above, in some contexts Paul also emphasizes that good works are the fruit of faith and are needed for justification (e.g., Rom. 2:13; 4:17-22). The purpose of James as a whole, as is evident from this entire discussion, is to emphasize that good works are necessary for salvation. 

sw:  It is encouraging to see that Alan does agree that St. James is saying that good works are necessary for salvation, a statement we have not seen much - if ever - from the Calvinist camp.  The fact that good works are necessary and "needed for justification" tells us that faith is not alone and sola fide is indeed a lie.  Alan has not come out and said it is a lie and I'm quite certain that until his conversion is complete that he will deny he's saying sola fide is a lie but a plain reading of his own words exposes the truth here.

AR continues:  His letter apparently responds to a situation where moral laxity was countenanced. Nevertheless, James should not be interpreted to teach that believers can gain salvation on the basis of good works. Righteous deeds are the fruit of faith.

sw: It must be noted that Catholicism does not teach and has never taught that one can gain salvation on the basis of good works.  Again though, Alan's words betray his underlying Calvinism, for he says "James should not be interpreted to teach that believers can gain salvation..." believers are already given the gift of faith - if they are true believers.  True believers will not be without good works.  Again, true/saving faith is never alone.

AR continues: James recognizes that all believers sin in numerous ways (James 3:2), and that even one sin makes a lawbreaker of the one who commits it (James 2:10-11). Being sinners, humans lack the capacity to do the works required to merit justification. They are saved by the grace of God, for in his goodness and generosity he granted believers new life (James 1:18).

sw: On this point we concur.  The point that Alan appears to be missing is that God did provide the means of forgiveness of sins - and it was through his bishops.  Sins THEY forgive are forgiven and sins THEY do not forgive are NOT forgiven (John 20:23).

Even faith is a gift of God, for God chose some to “be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (James 2:5). What James hammers home is that such faith must always manifest itself in good works if it is genuine faith, but such good works are a far cry from perfection, as James 3:2 clarifies.”
-Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), pp.603-605.

sw: Yes, faith is a gift of God.  Jumping to James 3 does not negate what was said in James 2.   In fact, nothing in James 2 says good works equate to perfection - nor does Catholic teaching.  Good works are part of justification - which is a PROCESS TOWARD perfection.  We are, if we are faithful Christians, constantly in the process of perfection.  Yet, we do remain sinners - and we do fail from time to time and are in need of on of Christ's bishops - or one whom they have empowered to forgive sins.  My prayer remains that one day you will seek out one who truly has the authority from Christ to forgive your sins and that you will emerge from the lies of Protestantism which, in reality, keep you entrapped in your sins.
 
In JMJ,
Scott<<<

PS- Of note, it appears that Alan merely quoted Thomas R. Schreiner here, but those words become his argument too when he posts them on his blog.

16 comments:

  1. the lies of Protestantism which, in reality, keep you entrapped in your sins.

    Not according to Lumen Gentium, but thanks for the concern.

    Peace,
    Rhology

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  2. I'd be interested to hear your understanding of and definition of righteousness/justification, since a lot of this hinges on those foundations.

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  3. "Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved." Lumen Gentium

    "They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops." Lumen Gentium

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  4. Whenever the Sacrament of Baptism is duly administered as Our Lord instituted it, and is received with the right dispositions, a person is truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ, and reborn to a sharing of the divine life, as the Apostle says: "You were buried together with Him in Baptism, and in Him also rose again-through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead".

    Baptism therefore establishes a sacramental bond of unity which links all who have been reborn by it. But of itself Baptism is only a beginning, an inauguration wholly directed toward the fullness of life in Christ. Baptism, therefore, envisages a complete profession of faith, complete incorporation in the system of salvation such as Christ willed it to be, and finally complete ingrafting in eucharistic communion.

    Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory. Therefore the teaching concerning the Lord's Supper, the other sacraments, worship, the ministry of the Church, must be the subject of the dialogue.
    23. The daily Christian life of these brethren is nourished by their faith in Christ and strengthened by the grace of Baptism and by hearing the word of God. This shows itself in their private prayer, their meditation on the Bible, in their Christian family life, and in the worship of a community gathered together to praise God. (source)

    Or:

    For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ... Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (source)

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  5. Alan, Yes, I am aware of where you MIGHT take some refuge in those words, in fact the very next paragraph after what I had quoted got into that. However, it does not mean what you expect it to mean when you willfully and deliberately remain outside the Catholic Church. I find it interesting how you on one hand reject anything to do with the Catholic Church, but then when it suits you, you cling to (a misinterpretation of) Lumen Gentium. LG does not say what you think it says - in fact, as I quoted earlier from the same document:

    "Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved." Lumen Gentium

    You refuse to enter the Catholic Church. You know that the Catholic Church teaches it is was necessarily created by Christ and is necessary for salvation (see the other recent blog entries here on the subject of EENS).

    May God have mercy on your soul and soften your heart before it's too late.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  6. John, I will try to get to your request momentarily. I am working on another blog entry right now answering James White.

    As for Alan, it must also be noted that he has not responded to the substance of what was said in the blog at all - and has, instead, diverted attention to Lumen Gentium, and a misinterpretation of that document. I'll take that as concession of the REAL points unless he changes his mind and actually comes back to engage those points.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  7. John wrote: I'd be interested to hear your understanding of and definition of righteousness/justification, since a lot of this hinges on those foundations.

    Righteousness
    First we must look at the root here, which is "right." Right, as a substantive (my right, his right), designates the object of justice. When a person declares he has a right to a thing, he means he has a kind of dominion over such thing, which others are obliged to recognize. Right may therefore be defined as a moral or legal authority to possess, claim, and use a thing as one's own. It is thus essentially distinct from obligation; in virtue of an obligation we should, in virtue of a right, we may do or omit something. Again, right is a moral or legal authority, and, as such, is distinct from merely physical superiority or pre-eminence; the thief who steals something without being detected enjoys the physical control of the object, but no right to it; on the contrary, his act is an injustice, a violation of right, and he is bound to return the stolen object to its owner. Right is called a moral or legal authority, because it emanates from a law which assigns to one the dominion over the thing and imposes on others the obligation to respect this dominion. To the right of one person corresponds an obligation on the part of others, so that right and obligation condition each other. If I have the right to demand one hundred dollars from a person, he is under the obligation to give them to me; without this obligation, right would be illusory. One may even say that the right of one person consists in the fact that, on his account, others are bound to perform or omit something. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13055c.htm Righteousness is 1 : acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin
    2 a : morally right or justifiable [a righteous decision] b : arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality [righteous indignation] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/righteousness

    OK, there are definitions - but how do *I* understand the term? Righteousness in the context of the New Testament is the "right" of God upon us. We are made "righteous" in His eyes through His Sacrifice and Resurrection - and through the process of justification.

    Justification
    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. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08573a.htm. I'm quite fine the CE definition here.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  8. Well... these definitions seem to bring more confusion. Your definitions from the dictionary speak of rights and obligations providing corresponding expected mutual behaviour, with the one acting in accordance with his obligations being righteous.

    Your newadvent definition speaks of the one justified (aka declared righteous), to have a state of the soul, which is a work of God.

    I would question especially the latter definition.

    According to the Anchor Bible Dictionary, righteousness in the old testament is frequently used to mean order, ordinance, judgment, a regular way of doing something. So righteousness is doing things the proper way, according to what God proscribed. Jepsen (1965: 79, 81), maintains that righteousness in the OT means right order; it is concerned “with a situation that in fact is as it ought or must be”. Schmid (1968: 67, 179) follows Jepsen in saying it concerns proper order, willed by Yahweh, appropriate, proper. (Fahlgren 1932); mentions order, fitting into order. (Crüsemann 1976); legal order, proper order in the community

    In that case, Abraham was justified by faith because that is what God wanted from Abraham at that time. That was the appropriate and correct response for Abraham to have had. And in Galatians 5:6, Paul contrasts the legal system of the Jews with "faith working through love", the latter of which is now what God is requiring from people, in contrast to the legal system that had caused all the problems Paul describes in Romans (and also Jesus aludes to in his dealings with the Jews).

    What do you think?

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  9. Hi John,
    I think you missed the point of the example of Abraham in James 2. Abraham was justified by works!

    Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou that faith did cooperate with his works and by works faith was made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled, saying: Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him to justice, and he was called the friend of God. Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only? (James 2:21-24 DRB)

    So, what do I think? I think we're drifting from the original article which pointed out Alan's (Rhology) pointing out the lie of sola fide. He did a great job, though I think it was a bit unwittingly.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  10. Err, I'm not really worried at this point about James, I'm just discussing the meaning of the terms. Not much point really talking about what this or that verse implies if we're not all on the same page about the terms.

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  11. but then when it suits you, you cling to (a misinterpretation of) Lumen Gentium.

    I'm not "clinging" to it. I bring it up to show that your own side is inconsistent. It's an internal critique of Roman dogma in this case.
    I could hardly care less what the Roman Church thinks of my eternal destiny.

    Anyway, as for most of the content of your post, I'm happy to let each side stand the way they are. You've interacted with Schreiner; let the reader judge whose exegesis is correct.

    Peace,
    Rhology

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  12. Alan,
    As I tried to point out to you, "my side" is consistent - even within LG. You've taken a piece or pieces of LG out of context - and I've shown you within the context that in LG the teaching of EENS is still upheld. You may THINK you have something with such out of context statements - but you do not.

    The FACT is, without those whom Christ empowered (His bishops) to forgive your sins then they are retained. You ARE trapped in your sins. You can try to distract with misinterpreted out of context statements - but the objective reader can see through what you're doing. If that's all you have to say, then sure - let the reader decide. John 20:23 clearly gave the authority to forgive or retain sins to the bishops of Christ's Church. Sins THEY do not forgive are NOT FORGIVEN.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  13. John wrote: Err, I'm not really worried at this point about James, I'm just discussing the meaning of the terms. Not much point really talking about what this or that verse implies if we're not all on the same page about the terms.

    What do you disagree with me in the terms? Righteousness is where the "right" is shown in men. Justification is the process of sanctification, being made holy - or "right."

    Do you disagree with this? If so, explain.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  14. Well, I'm not sure that it is "an act of God transforming the sinner". I don't think I'm convinced also that it is a "state of the soul", or at least I'm not sure that this definition is helpful.

    It seems to me, righteousness is about being in a right relationship, and this is tied up with behaving in the appropriate manner with regards the other party.

    When Paul says we are justified by faith, I'm not sure that he is saying God is transforming us by faith (even if that is true). And I question whether his readers would recognise he is talking about some kind of "state of the soul". I think what he is saying is that we are in a right relationship with God by faith, because that is the appropriate, proper, and correct response to God. James is saying we are justified by works, because these works also are a proper, appropriate and correct response to God.

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  15. > J: Well, I'm not sure that it is
    > "an act of God transforming the
    > sinner". I don't think I'm
    > convinced also that it is a
    > "state of the soul", or at least
    > I'm not sure that this
    > definition is helpful.

    sw: I'm not sure what "it" is you're referring to here.

    > J: It seems to me, righteousness
    > is about being in a right
    > relationship, and this is tied
    > up with behaving in the
    > appropriate manner with regards
    > the other party.

    sw: I'm OK with that.

    > J: When Paul says we are
    > justified by faith, I'm not sure
    > that he is saying God is
    > transforming us by faith (even
    > if that is true). And I question
    > whether his readers would
    > recognise he is talking about
    > some kind of "state of the
    > soul". I think what he is saying
    > is that we are in a right
    > relationship with God by faith,
    > because that is the appropriate,
    > proper, and correct response to
    > God.

    sw: Well, the primary subject here is James, not Paul - but that being said, Paul does not contradict James (as most Protestant interpretation would force) rather James clarifies for us what KIND of faith justifies and that faith is never an alone faith.

    > J: James is saying we are
    > justified by works, because
    > these works also are a proper,
    > appropriate and correct response
    > to God.

    sw: That may well be, but I must assert that James' point is that an alone faith is a dead faith and that TYPE of faith cannot save (or justify). James comes right out and says we are justified by works AND he's the ONLY writer of Scripture who uses the words "faith" and "alone" together (sola fide) and his statement is in NEGATION of sola fide!

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  16. "It" is what you assigned that definition to - i.e. justification.

    "rather James clarifies for us what KIND of faith justifies"

    "that TYPE of faith cannot save (or justify)"

    Really? Isn't that Protestant side you are arguing here? To try and make James' point to be a distinction between TYPES of faith, rather than about faith and works? Is the deficiency in the demons the nature of their faith, or the works which accompany their faith?

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