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May 30, 2007

Comments

Quick note -

All I could think after reading all of this was wow, no wonder non believers can be confused about what it means to be a Christian. We have made it so very complicated.

There's a lot to be dealt with there. But the one thing that stood out was the many times he referred to this or that tradition, teaching from leaders of old, etc. All good and fine, and there is much to learn from those who came before us. When it deviates from Scripture is where I have trouble. Things like he mentioned: the Real Presence, purgatory, intercession of the saints and indulgences - none of this corresponds to Scripture.

What I don't like is the nastiness I've heard he's received from fellow believers. There is no need for that, ever.

"But if the Church is right about itself and the sacraments, I acquire graces I would have not otherwise received."

No dog here, of course. Just curious as to what this means.

I'm with Mo. No need to be nasty to him, but there is also no reason to put so much weight on tradition.

The early church had lots of traditions as well. But many weren't in line with sound doctrine, so Paul and others wrote letters to correct them.

Traditions that don't contradict scripture may be benign or even instructive. Traditions that violate scripture should be eliminated.

What commands does the Bible give believers in regards to those who go after doctrines of devils?

"That’s why Abraham’s faith results in righteousness only when he attempts to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God."

That seems an odd statement for one well acquainted, as Francis is, with scripture, wherein Abraham believed God and it was credited as rigtheousness. Perhaps Mr. Beckwith will chime in, I am trying to understand his decision. I too was raised RC and I too attended a charismatic bible study group in my mid teens which I found very meaningful. But I am protestant-reformed today because of the doctrine of justification, and the certainity with which God soveriegnly brings about righteousness. This seems in jeoprdy in RC (as well as other "Arminian" type systems.

Alan
RC doctine holds that the sacraments (there are 7, they maintain) infuse grace into a believer that ultimately is meritorious with respect to justification. Perhaps I am over-simplifying, but RC sees justification (declaration of righteousness before God) as a process, whereas most Protestants see scripture teaching that justification is an immediate act by God, followed by a process og becoming more Christ like in action, thought, and deeds.

A little brief, perhaps, but I hope that helps.

I think that Beckwith holds out a hope that he can change the Catholic church form within. It might, maybe, but change in the Catholic church is very, very slow and it is often too little and too late.

Thank you, Melinda, for giving me an opportunity to read Francis Beckwith's interview. I have been reading all the blogs, etc. that he mentions.
All I can say is, "Welcome home, Frank!" The Catholic community is so much richer for your presence.

I think Mo is right when he said that Mr. Beckwith appealed a little too much—and gave a little too much weight—to the early Church Fathers and to the teachings of the Church throughout the centuries. Mo said this is “All good and fine, and there is much to learn from those who came before us. [But] when it deviates from Scripture is where I have trouble.” And this is exactly the problem.

How can Mr. Beckwith compare and reconcile the historic teachings of the Catholic Church (including any false teachings of the early Church Fathers) with the infallible Word of God?

I am amazed at how Mr. Beckwith is willing to associate with an organization that upholds such blatant contradictions in regards to the inspired Word of God.

Truly a sad set of days.

Should evangelicals witness to Catholics?

John MacArthur was featured on Way of the Master radio recently preaching on this very topic. It is a MUST LISTEN:

http://www.wayofthemasterradio.com/podcast/2006/11/09/november-09-2006-hour-1/

Francis gives a convincing, well researched reason for his switch back to RC. Almost all of my Catholic friends provide similar reasons and never seem to hold to the simplistic characterizations protestant reformers hang on them.

Beckwith lends a lot of credibility to RC in my books. He's a careful thinker who isn't afraid to follow the scripture and authority where it leads. There is clearly something present in Catholicism that is missing from modern protestant movements and I think we're going to see a trend back to the early church mysticism.

I'd be curious to hear Koukl offer a commentary given he's an ex-Catholic and best friends with Beckwith.

"John MacArthur was featured on Way of the Master radio recently preaching on this very topic. It is a MUST LISTEN:"

MacArther claiming the Pope is the anti-Christ while quoting the book of Luther and Calvin...the Reformed Apocrypha. Moronic.

Doug T
I think some of what you are speaking of with respect to a return to mysticism is the kind of hiliness movements that marked some of the Moravian and continental pietist movements at the end of the 18th and 19th centuries. But I do not understand your very sweeping statement that RC has something in that regard which (all) protestantism is lacking. RC needs the holiness/experiential component of the faith every bit as much as any protestant movement. Perhaps you could further qualify your observation?

Mr. Beckwith I am here to say I support you in whatever you do in respect to your personal religious affiliation...I have many a RC friend. I more then anything want to thank you for your work that has encouraged me in my faith. You a truly a man that is true and good. Your writings have amazed me and I have learned so much...

Patrick, the statement about Abraham's righteousness being complete is a reference to James 2:20-26. Abraham's obedience perfected and completed his faith.

Protestants, whether Reformed or Arminian, often emphasize either James or Paul to support their positions and then try to explain away the conflicting passages. Mr. Beckwith believes that the Catholic Church's understanding of the relationship between faith and works properly incorporates all of these principles.

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Beckwith, which is one of the reasons why, a couple of years ago, I made the same journey he has now made.

"But I do not understand your very sweeping statement that RC has something in that regard which (all) protestantism is lacking. RC needs the holiness/experiential component of the faith every bit as much as any protestant movement. Perhaps you could further qualify your observation?"

Patrick, I don't think we're that far off from each other since I agree there are deficits in RC as well as protestantism. I see Beckwith's joining RC differently than even he sees it: Protestants are losing someone great in the cause of our "protest" while RC is gaining someone great to help expand the Church with a brilliant evangellical. Beckwith might need the Catholic church but the Catholic church definitely needs Beckwith. I rejoice.

We agree that both RC and Protestants need holiness and legitimate experience of faith...but given today's rampant individualism, anti-mystic modernism and a fascination with the "new" instead of the "true" perhaps Beckwith found RC to be less off-base than he'd been told by anti-catholics.

The entire church (Catholic and protestant) need constant reformation to get back to the scriptural church. Man's hand has poisoned both RC and the protestant movement in different ways. I can see why some would find the failings of RC to be more tolerable than those in Protestantism.

Don't forget that I'm on your side of the aisle...if I thought Beckwith made the best move I'd be a catholic too. While he didn't make the best move, I think he made a good move and maybe time will reveal that I didn't make the best move in remaining a Protestant.

Once again Doug you give the reasonable and coherent answer.
Refreshing!

It would be nice if Beckwith could explain or provide information that can answer from scripture why the RC church believes in purgatory, indulgences, intercessory prayer by the saints, the special place of Mary the mother of Jesus, why are only some christians "saints", and the new doctrine of inclusivism the church has put forth. Does he believe all these things, must one believe all these things to join the catholic church?

I was eight years in Catholic grade school. My unchurched wife converted to marry me. We went through Engaged Encounter and later spent seven years as a Marriage Encounter presenting couple. We were mentored by in-laws who were from the Cursillo and Charismatic movements. I'd say we experienced the best Roman Catholicism had to offer. When my wife was beset by a compulsive disorder that got her in a lot of trouble, we found that the only solutions were available through Evangelical circles. Most specifically New Life Clinics, but a world opened up to us that provided forgiveness and renewal. In our small town, our Catholic family disowned us.
I find that we humans crave our rituals and ceremonies. It is so easy to let ritual take the place of true fellowship with Christ. I find the vast majority of our Catholic acquaintances to be so ignorant of the Bible, you can't even begin to have a discussion with them.
It must be hard for Greg and Melinda to watch their friend walk away from truth and reason, succumbing to a desire to recapture a childhood ideal about how the world should be ordered. I, however, have no qualms about telling Beckwith, as Churchill said to Chamberlain, "Sir, just go." [paraphrase]

I think that Francis' decision was not as simplistic as some would seem to think. A skilled apologist for Rome could convince many modern evangelicals [with scripture I might add] that she is the true church, and that salvation outside of it is not possible. The small distinctions matter at this point, and the proof of what the Spirit of God in His saints is confirming in them is measured in the end by the correct interpretation of Holy Scripture. But, Eph. 4 says that God gave pastors and teachers for the building up of the Body until "we all attain a unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God". Skilled teachers are given by God, tradition is of God so far as it conforms to the scriptures in their intended meaning--some have gotten it right who've come before us. Just because a man wrote it in his own words, doesn't mean it's worth-less if it conveys the TRUTH.

I am convinced that many of the problems the modern church faces today are a result of turning our backs on sound tradition and using our own schemes to measure the truth. Justifying everything from getting a divorce, and having an abortion or leaving our responsibilities all the while mishandling God's word without any support since "I'm going to trust my heart to tell me what the scripture means to me". It been a recipe for disaster, and I dont blame Beckwith for leaving that. Do I think he is in serious jeopardy, you be I do. Since he's such a sound logician. his actions will have logical root in his thoughts, and thoughts that lead him to belive the RC view of justification leave me no other choice but to worry for his soul, because that view cannot get away from works counting for something which leaves room for some merit.

Brad

I am so glad I am a CHRISTIAN, not a Protestant, not a Catholic, not a Fundamentalist, not an Evangelical, not a Baptist, not a Presbyterian.

I am so tired of hearing arguments about each of these and what is wrong with the other.

I leave all of them behind.

I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I am His follower. I am glad to wear the title CHRISTIAN. After all, I am simply following in footstep with those disciples who were first called Christians at Antioch.

Great message by MacArthur. All I can say is that many people don't even know all that the Catholic Church teaches. I sure didn't, when I was Catholic.

Jason, you wrote, "Protestants, whether Reformed or Arminian, often emphasize either James or Paul to support their positions and then try to explain away the conflicting passages. Mr. Beckwith believes that the Catholic Church's understanding of the relationship between faith and works properly incorporates all of these principles.".

I respectfully disagree, while there may be those that struggle to articulate those passages, the biblical position harmonizes them quite well. Faith cannot legitiamtely be called faith except it manifest in works that characterize that faith. Just as an apple has the essense of appleness (those characteristics which are unique to and qualify the apple as an apple) saving faith has as "saving faith" essence those qualities unique to saving faithness, which is belief that cannot said to be belief without the works that by definition attend that belief. In that way, faith is perfected or shown to be complete inasmuch as without those works, the faith cannot be said to exist with any certainty from a human perspective and as evidence before God (so to speak)

The difference remains in the most important detail - RC holds that justification is a process, and therefore justification in Abraham's case is viewed as progressive action based on what we observed. Hence, he was not "justified" until he acted. But the scriptural position recognizes that the justification already took place, but that we could not insist upon that inward reality without the external manifestation. So RC and protestantism are both very consistent in theier respective positions, it just that RC is wrong int the position that they hold.

Hope that makes some sense.

Hey Mo,

Yeah, most Catholics have no idea what their Church teaches. Very sad and tragic. Again, I recommend the previously posted MacArthur sermon very highly.

This Beckwith situation is very sad as for what it reveals about his spiritual condition and also how it can be used to further confuse and lead people astray.

Hence, he was not "justified" until he acted. But the scriptural position recognizes that the justification already took place, but that we could not insist upon that inward reality without the external manifestation. So RC and protestantism are both very consistent in theier respective positions, it just that RC is wrong int the position that they hold.

Hope that makes some sense."

Patrick, I must be missing something because this sounds like a difference without a difference. Forget that RC might describe forgiveness as "a process". Why can't it just be another way of saying, "Finish the race"? I ask lots of Reformers about the devout Christian who falls away and appears to counter 'eternal security'...they tell me that because the Christian didn't finish the race he proves (upon death) that he wasn't set aside in the first place.

It seems that given we are both physical and spiritual beings that we should have internal AND external expressions of forgiveness and salvation. It almost seems Gnostic to speak of salvation as happening completely outside of physical reality, wheras the RC position that requires physical action to accompany internal action seems a tenable position.

I find Catholics can offer Biblical reasoning for most of thier positions, but the Evangellicals (and MacArthertards) over-simplify RC to a point of creating a straw man like "salvation by works". It's no different than saying that MacArther believes we are just God's puppets with no free will at all. I also reccommend people listen to the MacArther sermon so you we get to hear what a brother like Beckwith will have to hear from ignorant evangellicals for the rest of his life.

Next time I see Frank I'll be sure and ask him how worshipping Mary is working out right after I see MacArther and ask him why he's an anti-semite who quotes a murderer like John Calvin. I think we need to get beyond this.

"No sin will separate us from the lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day." - Martin Luther

Doug
you are very easy to follow as you are careful to be articulate. I appreciate that. And I am so with you in the physical/spiritual symbiosis - I have been camping there of late - wandering about such passages as Paul's "a law at work in my members".

Perhaps I could be more accurate in saying that our actions are not causal with respect to the application of the atonement. Does that better highlight what I see to be the crux of the matter.

You have also done well to expose the caricatures that take place within protestantism. Your last paragraph is a riot! Good stuff.

And your quote from Luther is food.

Thanks for the exchange

Patrick, this is the common problem in all of these discussions. You describe the "biblical" view of justification in a way that any devout, well-informed Catholic could describe it, then say basically, "That's not what the Catholic Church believes. They believe justification is a process." Similarly, many Catholics poke fun at Evangelicals because they put so much emphasis on having a "born-again experience" that it can seem that being a Christian or not is determined by five minutes of one's life and nothing else before or after matters. The truth is that saving faith yields obedience and obedience strengthens faith. That is a process, but it is not as if one is working toward a point where they will be "justified." Justification is the fruit of the redemptive work of Christ made effective in those who are "in Christ." It is a process of growing in holiness, becoming more like Christ.

What I learned, and I assume what Mr. Beckwith found as well, is that the Catholic position is the biblical one, but Protestants tend to misrepresent it because unless the Catholic Church is heretical, there is no reason to continue to disrupt Christian unity and stay outside of the Church.

Still, I understand where you're coming from, Patrick (I was just like you not long ago myself) and I value my evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ very much.

Sorry Jason,
our disagreements are real. Justification is an instantaneous act by God. That, in biblical theology, is the error of Rome. You are describing the biblical doctrine of sanctification and calling it justification. But scripture clearly describes these as distinct events, and as much a I appreciate your enlightened understanding ( "you once were as I am")of protestantism, I do reject that understanding.

By the way, I might further advise that The RC church is anything but monolithic. Calling it all RC does not level the theological hills and valleys that mark the various movements and schisms and sects within RC. But perhaps you were not drawing that conclusion.

"Next time I see Frank I'll be sure and ask him how worshipping Mary is working
out right after I see MacArther and ask him why he's an anti-semite who quotes a murderer like John Calvin. I think we need to get beyond this."

I think the difference is this, MacArthur's church does not promote anti-semitism and/or murder as part while on the other hand Mary being "Co-redemptrix" and "Co-mediatrix" IS endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church.

Does the RCC really believe this?:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day" (CCC 841).

AC,

As I understand it, the passage you quoted from the CCC (841) is one of a series of questions in the Catechism regarding Catholicism and other faiths. The plan of salvation includes all mankind, for God wishes all to be saved, but the Church does not explicitly (or implicitly) teach that Muslims are saved. The Church does teach that those who are outside of Her are in "a deficient state of grace" (from the document 'Dominus Jesu') and it also teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation, and that there are 3 types of baptism: baptism by water, baptism of blood, and baptism of desire. It's the third type - baptism of desire and exactly who belongs in this category - that is debated over nowadays.

It is possible, though not necessarily probable, that those of good will who, through no fault of their own, have not heard the message of the Gospel may attain salvation. Their salvation would be the fruit of the merits of Christ's atoning death and would come about through the graces given by God, through the Mother of God (which is another topic), to the Church. But again, it depends entirely on the mercy of God and who He includes in the "baptism of desire" category. (That's my understanding.)

For the sake of full disclosure, I'm a Catholic living with a religious community - the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate - and I plan on entering religious formation in the fall.

Thanks for the response Karl.

Do you agree with this part of the statement, "Together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day."?

How do you reconcile this with the Scripture that says:

"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God." 2 John 9

Hi Jason, I think Patrick has done well to keep you from straying off of this most important detail, that is that there is no more good in man after he's been born again than there was before that indwelling of the Spirit of God. But, because of the adoption[legal], at that instant, the man is justified[legal] in the sight of God. It is a forensic declaration that can be easily supported with scripture, and in fact it's healthy for the Christian to know that he's a new creation, but with a body of death, so he's on guard for himself and humble.

I think it is a necessary mindset for true sanctification which one would miss without an understanding of his own depth of fallenness. The legal declaration of God granting forgiveness of sin towards men who are in Christ is the motivation that produces the work[gratitude], not some promise of reward for being an obedient servant[a work].

Brad

Did you guys read "SharoninKorea's" comment? I think she is being far too simplistic. She says:

"I am so glad I am a CHRISTIAN, not a Protestant, not a Catholic, not a Fundamentalist, not an Evangelical, not a Baptist, not a Presbyterian.

I am so tired of hearing arguments about each of these and what is wrong with the other.

I leave all of them behind."

I wonder if Sharon believes in Absolute Truth. I think not. If she did, she wouldn’t treat religious differences as insignificant. Here is a Truth: some religions and denominations are wrong and some are right. Thus, it does matter which you are affiliated with.

And in regards to this blog on Catholicism, Catholicism is wrong when it comes to matters of theology.

"...that there is no more good in man after he's been born again than there was before that indwelling of the Spirit of God."

I would say that's definitely true of most Calvinists I know.

Or, to put it another way, Doug T, one cannot, by works (be they meritorious by virtue of grace imputed through the sacraments or otherwise), merit "imputed" righteousness.

AC,

At this time, I'm still a layman in my understanding of the Catechism (and my understanding of most things), so I'm probably not the best one to respond, but I'll take up G.K. Chesterton's flag that "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." That may be the theme of all my posts.

Nonetheless, how does Catholicism reconcile 2 John 9 with the statement "Together with us they (Muslims) adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day."?

Catholics hold that there is truth (greater of lesser) in other faiths, for all truth comes from God. In so far as the Muslims worship God, acknowledge that He is One, and acknowledge that He is mankind's judge on the last day, there understanding is correct. Do they worship Him "in Spirit and in truth"? My understanding is, at best, they worship Him partially in Spirit and partially in truth, and I think that was the logic behind the Cathechism's statement. I think the CCC tries to put as good a face as it can on an ultimately false religion, for the Cathechism was written not only for Catholics, but for all men of good will. In so far as the Muslims deny the Trinity of God, they are wrong; in so far as they deny the Divinity of Christ, they are wrong; in so far as they deny the Catholic understanding of grace and justification, they are wrong.

With all that, it may be that the writers of the recent Cathechism were too generous in their sentiments towards those of other faiths. I hesitate in saying that, though, because, as with scripture, the Cathechism must be understood as a whole, and I haven't yet been formally instructed in it. As the Evangelicals say of scripture, a text (verse) without a context is a pretext.

Hey Karl,

While I prepare to respond to your post can you answer me this one question... say I have 3 minutes to live and I come up to and say, "Karl, I'm dying! Im afraid of what will happen to me when I die. I think I'm going to hell. What must I do??" What would you say to me?

Thank you, Doug T. I do think, however, that John MacArthur should be willing to sit down with Catholic theologians and dialogue on the matters on which he speaks. What little I've read of his comments, I must say that his lack of knowledge on Catholicism makes him unfit to teach anyone on the subect. That is not to say he is not a good man with his heart in the right place. For I believe that he is that and more. However, teachers and pastors have a special responsibility to make sure that when they are critical of other Christian groups that they do so charitably. Admittedly, this is difficult to do at times. And I have surely been guilty of not doing it myself on occassion.

Dr. MacArthur has, as many of you know, sat down privately with Mormon leaders. And for that, he should be commended. But all the more, then, should he reach out in the same spirit to Catholic Christians, those who protect the Nicean tradition the LDS reject and MacArthur believes.

Mr Beckwith,

It is unclear to me what you mean when you say that Christian pastors and teachers should criticize other "Christian" groups charitably. For example, would you say that Paul was charitable when he criticized the Judaizers? Bearing in mind that the essence of their teaching was "faith + works of the law (circumcision and such) = justification", yet we have Paul the Apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, pronouncing:

"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed."
Galatians 1:6-9

Was Paul being charitable or uncharitable? Please clarify this for me.

As far as MacArthur, all I know about his knowledge of RCC doctrine and such is what I have heard from his sermons. Here are the transcripts of some of the sermons he has preached about Catholicism (the top 7 specifically). It is definitely worth a read.

http://gty.org/sitesearch.php?search=catholicism&search_mode=keyword&where%5Bresources%5D=resources&catg%5B36%5D=daily

Please allow me to clarify something that I stated in my previous post. I do not intend to say that Christian leaders should be un-charitable. Rather, I'm asking for you to clarify what your definition of charitable is in this circumstance and how does God's anathema fit into it?

Thanks Frank, I don't want to undermine MacArthur's overall ministry. He's normally profound, but when Protestants teach against Catholicism it's weird to see their standards of scholarship inexplicably hit the floor. I admire David Hocking's teaching and he does the same when slamming RC.

There is a legit debate to be had but it doesn't sound like we're going to get around to it any time soon. Perhaps you're "Why I'm a Christian" book requires a follow-up "Why I'm a Catholic Christian".

AC,

If you said to me "Karl, I'm dying! Im afraid of what will happen to me when I die. I think I'm going to hell. What must I do??" I would first ask if you were validly baptized, and if you were unsure, I would find some water and, with your consent, baptize you "in the name of the Father, etc." (Beforehand, I'd ask you if you'd like to be baptized and I would explain, as briefly as possible, what it meant if you didn't understand, and I would invoke the words of Christ: "He who is baptized and believes will be saved; he who refuses to believe will be condemned.")

If you were baptized Protestant and had committed a (or many) mortal sins after your baptism, I would tell you that I wouldn't be sure of your salvation since you haven't received the sacrament of penance, but I would ask you to make a sincere act of contrition nonetheless and beg for God's mercy. Committing a mortal sin kills the life of sanctifying grace in your soul, and without sanctifying grace, you cannot enter heaven.

That's a mouthful for 3 minutes time, but the bottom line is that I would try to get you as close to the Catholic Church as possible.

Karl,

I think your response reflects one of the concerns many of us have with Roman theology; the conflation of justification and sanctification. To the man dying with only 3 minutes to live you immediately offered him works to perform. Whatever happened to repentance & faith?

We must first agree with God that we have committed crimes against him and that if he were to judge us based on our works we would be rightly be sentenced to hell. We then must put our whole faith in Jesus to provide our escape from this penalty; that His sacrifice on the cross alone paid the penalty for our crimes, allowing us to enter into eternity with Him in heaven.

In this scenario, baptism needs not even come up because while this man can be saved he won't live long enough for his faith to produce works.

What Denis just explained is actually what happened with the thief on the cross. All he had time to do was acknowledge that he was a criminal worthy of death (repentance) AND place his trust on Jesus Christ alone to remember him when He entered His kingdom (faith). On account of his repentance and faith, Jesus Christ told him that he would be with Him in paradise that very day, in other words he was justified.

Notice that there was no talk of baptism or any other works mentioned. Had the man somehow survived his crucifixion and lived to tell the story he surely would have been baptized as Jesus commanded but not in order to justified but rather as an outward sign of the justification that took place the moment he first believed.

In other words there is a huge difference (the difference between heaven and hell) between these two views:

1) faith and works (of which baptism is one) produces justification

2) faith produces justification which in turn produces works

I believe it is this second view which Ephesians 2:8-10 expounds on:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

We are saved by grace through faith (justification). Which is not of ourselves nor of works but rather a gift of God. Those who are justified are a new creation; a creation created (in Christ Jesus) for good works.

To know the reason why I say the difference between the two views is heaven and hell please read the epistle to the Galatians.

"It is unclear to me what you mean when you say that Christian pastors and teachers should criticize other "Christian" groups charitably."

They should tell the truth. And when something is unclear they should give it the most charitiable interpretation without compromising accuracy.

So, for example, when a person says that Catholicism confuses justification with sanctification, I understand that person to be saying that he believes that Catholicism is wrong because it is not Protestantism. But then that person has to ask himself, if he is being charitable, "Why would anyone believe that?'

Unless one already knows that being a Catholic is the contemporary equivalent of being a Judaizer (and that argument was not offered), then the analogy above is more slur than substance.

Charity is a not a sentiment. It is a virtue and a sign of sanctification. (see I Cor. 13).

Frank

P.S. Maybe it's time for some of the commentators here to remember STR's vision:

Stand to Reason equips Christian ambassadors with knowledge, wisdom, and character. An effective ambassador has three essential skills:

Knowledge - an accurate grasp of the foundational precepts of the Kingdom

Wisdom - skillful, tactical, fair, and diplomatic use of knowledge

Character - a mature expression of virtue, warmth, and personal depth

(JMJ) Hi Denis,

I’ll respond here as best as I can.
Your comments in the first paragraph confused me, perhaps because of my lack of knowledge and also not knowing where your theology fits into the Protestant ‘tradition.’

On a personal & historical note, I listened to evangelicals on the radio for many years and learned much from them, but I wholeheartedly agree with Pope St. Pius X that the first step to atheism is Protestantism. The Reformation destroyed (or attempted to destroy) the idea that Christ has established a religious authority on earth. It attempted to take divine authority – the power to loose and bind - away from the Church and place it the mind and opinions of the individual believer. Luther essentially said, “Against all history and authority, my opinions are right and Rome’s dogmas are wrong.” It’s not hard to see how this leads the man on the street to be skeptical of The Church, then of Luther, then of Christ, then even of God. Western history and philosophical inquiry since the Reformation reflect this downward spiral.

I agree with the essential thoughts of your second paragraph regarding our stance with God and our need for Christ’s mediation.

Your third paragraph: “In this scenario (the dying man worried about his salvation), baptism need not even come up because while this man can be saved, he won’t live long enough for his faith to produce works.”

Baptism is necessary for salvation. It is a work of faith for the dying man to request baptism, therefore he not only receives the sacrament and the grace the sacrament confers, but he also performs a work at the same time. An act of faith is a work.

For those interested, John MacArthur recently did a 6 part mini-series on Roman Catholicism focusing primarily on justification and the role/purpose of the Scriptures.

There is also a summary post that itemizes some other points of contention between Protestantism and the Roman Catholic church. His blog is http://www.sfpulpit.com

Mr. Beckwith, I would love one day to read your response to the arguments and disagreements highlighted forward by Mr. MacArthur one day (I'll have to start stopping by your blog).

At the risk of derailing things, I was wondering if you had ever considered the Orthodox church as opposed to the Roman church? I recently listened to an interview with an Orthodox priest and, with regards to the split between Rome & the other churches he made an interesting comment to the effect of: "If you have a group of six and one separates itself, who is it that left?" The implication of course is that the Orthodox church is the one Christ instituted and that Rome left the fold just as Rome claims the Protestants left their one true church.

Karl,

I will try to address your questions/points raised by first quoting the relevant portions of your post.

::Your comments in the first paragraph confused me, perhaps because of my lack of knowledge and also not knowing where your theology fits into the Protestant ‘tradition.’::

I don't think anything I said was specific to a given Protestant tradition. I was referring to the difference in the salvation theology that was re-born in the reformation compared to that of Rome. The Protestant position being that we are saved through faith alone by God's grace alone. This is different than the Roman Catholic church's teaching that we are saved through faith + baptism + adherence to the 10 commandments enabled by God's grace (feel free to correct me - this is my understanding of the RC position).

::Luther essentially said, “Against all history and authority, my opinions are right and Rome’s dogmas are wrong.” It’s not hard to see how this leads the man on the street to be sceptical of The Church, then of Luther, then of Christ, then even of God.::

With due respect, reading the history of the church is enough to make one sceptical that the Roman Church is the authoritative source of truth. Luther tried to help provide a solution (imperfect as it was) but he did not create the problem.

::Baptism is necessary for salvation.::

First maybe I should define my terms. By baptism I an referring to what you called above "baptism by water" (i.e., the physical act commanded in the Scriptures).

The other terms you mentioned above "baptism by blood" and "baptism by desire" simply mean that one can be saved without the physical act of baptism having occurred. I honestly do not understand the Roman Catholic position that baptism is necessary for salvation because this must always be qualified with special cases. Logically speaking, if you can be saved without (the physical act of) baptism then baptism is not necessary for salvation. If it was necessary then by definition there would be no exceptions.

Beckwith,

I apologize if my comment came accross as substance-less slur. This is my attempt to clarify my position that Roman Catholicism is included in the anathema that is declared in Galatians 1:6-7. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

The gospel proclaimed in Galatians (and the whole Bible) is that

1) a sinner believes on Christ
2) is justified before God
3) produces works

The Judaizers (who professed to be Christians and some even believed them) taught that

1) a sinner believes on Christ
2) is circumcised and keeps Gods law to the best of his ability
3) is justified

Now, my understanding is (and again correct me if I am wrong) that the RCC teaches that

1) a sinner believes on Christ
2) is baptized, takes the eucharist, keeps the law to the best of his ability, confesses for mortal sins before death etc
3) is justified

If this is so, then yes, I am compelled to believe that God's anathema applies to Roman Catholics.

Adiel

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