Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Catholic Understanding of Grace

The writer of Evangelical Catholicism has posted a concise Scriptural discussion of grace, faith and salvation. His last paragraph sums it up but I encourage you to read the whole posting on his blog. It will help to dispel another of the mythic false representations of Catholic doctrine.

"Salvation is only by Jesus the Lord, only through a commitment to faith by means of grace, and only through suffering in conformity with He who conquers death and desires to exult humanity within himself. To imitate Christ is to believe in the plan of God, to obey the plan of God and to act out the plan of God. To reject any aspect of this imitation as necessary for salvation is to reject the very Word that saves."

10 Comments:

Blogger Howard Fisher said...

I must admit, it is very sad that many Evangelicals think Catholics ignore God's grace. Many would be very surprised to read such a post on your Blog.

With the functional semi-Pelagian beliefs of many Evangelicals, it is no wonder so many are falling back to Rome. They have been theologically on that road all along.

Those who do understand Roman theology are not under any false impressions.

The difference between RC theology and Reformed theology is not that grace is necessary, but whether or not it is sufficient in and of itself to save a sinner.

In other words, monergism verses synergism. Hence the Five Solas of the Reformation.

RCs believe (as many Proestants do) one must cooperate with some kind of prevenient grace in order to be saved. In other words, God's grace is just hanging out there, God is hoping you'll come and believe. But until you do your part, His grace is not able to save you.

Reformed theology is far more Biblically sound. Men are dead in sin. Men are raised to spiritual life. This is a monergistic grace in salvation. This is so plainly taught in so many places, I am amazed people miss it.

Such is the power of human philosophy and the Traditions of men. All religions are synergistic. Only the Bible teaches monergism.

God Bless

Howard

September 27, 2006 10:28 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Perhaps the Cathechism can shed a little more light on what Catholics believe the Bible says about grace and salvation and our response to it.

Faith is a grace

153
When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come "from flesh and blood," but from "my Father who is in heaven."24 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. "Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.'"25

Faith is a human act

154
Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed are contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason. Even in human relations it is not contrary to our dignity to believe what other persons tell us about themselves and their intentions or to trust their promises (for example, when a man and a woman marry) to share a communion of life with one another. If this is so, still less is it contrary to our dignity to "yield by faith the full submission of . . . intellect and will to God who reveals,"26 and to share in an interior communion with him.

155
In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace: "Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace."27



Mary is the best model of this whole concept because she chose to cooperate with God (being full of grace first). "May it be done unto me according to thy word"

September 28, 2006 7:54 AM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

To make the above statement seems to be an attempt to say that we believe the same thing? Did the Reformation happen over a misunderstanding? Or are you thinking I misunderstand what is being said?

Let’s also cite from Trent:

CANON 9: "If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."

CANON 12: "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified ... let him be accursed"
Canon 14: "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema."
Canon 24: "If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema."
Canon 30: "If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema."
Here Trent clearly repudiates the Biblical doctrine of Justification as proclaimed by the Reformers.

In Martin Luther’s debate with Erasmus he stated:

“that unlike all the rest, you alone have attacked the real issue, the essence of the matter in dispute (i.e. man's so-called free-will--RB)... You and you alone saw, what was the grand hinge upon which the whole turned, and therefore you attacked the vital part at once; for which, from my heart, I thank you.”

Again, the issue of the Reformation was not whether Grace was necessary, but whether Grace was sufficient in itself to raise dead sinners to spiritual life. Rome rejects the Biblically driven Reformed view of grace and faith.

Here are some statements from the London Baptist Confession which summarize what Reformed Protestants have believed for centuries:

Chapter 10

1. Those whom God hath predestinated unto Life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, (a) effectually to call by his word, and Spirit, out of that state of sin, and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and Salvation (b) by Jesus Christ; inlightning their minds, spiritually, and savingly to (c) understand the things of God; taking away their (d) heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his Almighty power determining them (e) to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come (f) most freely, being made willing by his Grace.
2. 2. This Effectual Call is of God's free, and special grace alone, (g) not from any thing at all foreseen in man, nor from any power, or agency in the Creature, coworking with his special Grace, (h) the Creature being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickned & renewed by the holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the Grace offered and conveyed in it; and that by no less (i) power, then that which raised up Christ from the dead.

Chapter 11

1. Those whom God Effectually calleth, he also freely (a) justifieth, not by infusing Righteousness into them, but by (b) pardoning their sins, and by accounting, and accepting their Persons as (c) Righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone, not by imputing faith it self, the act of beleiving, or any other (d) evangelical obedience to them, as their Righteousness; but by imputing Christs active obedience unto the whole Law, and passive obedience in his death, for their whole and sole Righteousnnss, they (e) receiving, and resting on him, and his Righteousness, by Faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
2. 2. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ, and his Righteousness, is the (f) alone instrument of Justification: yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving Graces, and is no dead faith, (g) but worketh by love.
3. 3. Christ by his obedience, and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did by the sacrifice of himself, in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead, the penalty due unto them: make a proper, real and full satisfaction (h) to Gods justice in their behalf: yet in asmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his Obedience and Satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both (i) freely, not for any thing in them; their Justification is only of Free Grace, that both the exact justice and rich Grace of God, might be (k) glorified in the Justification of sinners.

Chapter 14

1. The Grace of Faith, whereby the Elect are enabled to beleive to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ (a) in their hearts; and is ordinarily wrought by the Ministry of the (b) Word; by which also, and by the administration of Baptisme, and the Lords Supper, Prayer and other Means appointed of God, it is increased, (c) and strengthned.
2. 2. By this Faith, a Christian believeth to be true, (*) whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the Authority of God himself; and also apprehendeth an excellency therein, (d) above all other Writings; and all things in the world: as it bears forth the Glory of God in his Attributes, the excellency of Christ in his Nature and Offices; and the Power and Fullness of the Holy Spirit in his Workings, and Operations; and so is enabled to (e) cast his Soul upon the truth thus beleived; and also acteth differently, upon that which each particular, passage thereof containeth; yeilding obedience to the (f) commands, trembling at the (g) threatnings, and embracing the (h) promises of God, for this life, and that which is to come: But the principal acts of Saving Faith, have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon (i) him alone, for Justification, Sanctification, and Eternal Life, by vertue of the Covenant of Grace.

As is plainly seen, the dispute between RCs and Reformed Protestants continues on. Rome has pronounced with an anathema anyone who believes what the confessions and creeds of historic Protestantism has taught.

Faith Alone (Sola Fide) is absolutely dependant upon Grace Alone (Sola Gratia). If RCs really agreed with us, there would be no anathemas pronounced against us.

All of man’s religions could have agreed with Tiber’s comments on a fundamental level. Mormons and Christadelphians and others, who call themselves Christian, could also agree. God is not synergistic in salvation. Yet what has been said is.

Soli Deo Gloria

September 28, 2006 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Howard said in part...

"Those who do understand Roman theology are not under any false impressions."

To which I reply...


Your love of God, your righteous zeal for truth and your obvious desire to see all souls saved and converted unto Christ testifies to your Christianity.

I nevertheless must observe that your conversation thus far testifies that you are not yet numbered among "those who understand Roman theology," though I sincerely pray you will be someday--and someday soon.

I regret not having time enough to address your lengthy quotations and your conclusions about their meanings and or implications.

Your primary difficulty seems to be that you're unaware of the distinctions between dogma, doctrine, cannon law, cannon (not the same as cannon law), and perhaps other types of pronouncements / practices. You seem to imagine that all are dogma.

As a Catholic with some understanding of theology, I humbly submit that one is not likely to truly understand Roman theology without actually learning it.

May God continue blessing you!

--Theo

September 29, 2006 8:21 PM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

Theo,

Grace and peace to you.

You stated, "Your primary difficulty seems to be that you're unaware of the distinctions between dogma, doctrine, cannon law, cannon (not the same as cannon law), and perhaps other types of pronouncements / practices. You seem to imagine that all are dogma."

I say this is irrelevant. Disagreeing with a clearly stated position is not misunderstanding nor ignorance of one's position.

Trent was clear. Trent spoke with authority. If I were alive during the Time of Trent, it would make no difference to me whether Trent was speaking with dogmatic, canon law or any other kind of authority.

Has Trent been repudiated by modern RCs? Obviously not. Therefore the clarity of my argument and the differences of the two faiths were clearly stated.

Our Faith was anathemetized.

God Bless

September 30, 2006 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Dear Howard:

Thank you for your prayers of grace and peace for me. The prayers of the righteous availeth much--and I'm grateful therefore for your intercession on my behalf.

Regarding understanding Catholic theology--let's begin by addressing your previous comments.

You assert that disagreeing with a clearly stated position is neither "misunderstanding" nor "ignorance." Actually, those are two assertions.

Let's look at them in the light of reason and truth:

What you say is true provided that the hearer actually understands.

Jesus clearly stated with authority:
"I came not to send peace,
but a sword. I am come to set son against father, daughter against mother..." (Matt 10:34).

By your argument, it is not "misunderstanding" to "understand:"
--Jesus wants us to kill our parents.
--Jesus is not the Prince of Peace.
--"Sword" means "X Box 360 game system"
--The planet Mars has a creamy chocolate core.

You continued...

"Trent was clear. Trent spoke with authority. If I were alive during the Time of Trent, it would make no difference to me whether Trent was speaking with dogmatic, canon law or any other kind of authority."

Interestingly enough, your not understanding distinctions between dogma, doctrine, etc., extends to ignorance of Church councils in general.

I'm sure you recall that the Council of Jerusalem exercised its apostolic authority to address the growing conflicts between Jewish converts and Pagan converts. The council commanded Christians to abstain from meat that had been offered to idols; yet apostles who heard Jesus preach, "It is not what goes into a man's mouth that defiles him."

The ruling was not dogma (Confirmed truth), but canon law (Guideline of Christian behavior) understood in the context of the time, issue and need for Christians to refrain from something that is "allowed" but not profitable. The council *might* have erred, nevertheless, it was done--and has since been rescinded (though not repudiated).

All of the cannons you cited were of the same reactionary nature as the Jerusalem cannon law--and (in answer to your other question) though the church has not "repudiated" Trent, it has either clarified or rescinded most of its counter-reformation motivated cannon laws (not dogma).

That's all the time I have for now.

May God bless you. May we all grow in His grace and understanding.

Respectfully,

Theo

October 01, 2006 6:36 AM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

Theo,

Your counter-arguments are interesting, but they are irrelevant to me. My point is quite clear. Trent stated emphatically that those who hold to the Reformation's Confessions and Creeds on the definition of faith and Grace are anathemetized.

Therefore, you can use language that sounds just like a Reformed Protestant, but it is not.

My argument is quite simple. It has nothing to do with different levels of authority. It has to do with the definitions being used behind the terminology.

Your view of Grace and Faith is synergistic. Why? Because it is part of a system of theology that has nothing to do with Reformation theology.

For example Roman Catholic theology does not believe in Penal Substitutionary Atonement. They deny the doctine of imputation of Christ's Righteousness. They deny the Reformed Protestant doctrine of Justification and Sanctification. They deny the Reformed understanding of Election. They deny man is DEAD in sin and totally UNABLE to come to Christ at all (Even with prevenient grace). ECT ECT ECT.

Therefore, whatever is said about faith, it must be understood in light of a sacramental system that dispenses Grace in a treasury of merit system. (IE: Baptism and the Eucharist are both means in receiving justifying grace that never fully justifies in the Protestant sense.)

Therefore, say what you want about councils and levels of authority, I was simply demonstrating with clarity that the RC faith and the Reformed Protestant faith are light years apart. Unless of course you are denying Trent's position? Do you believe Trent is in error here?

I have had this exact conversation with Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. Why you might ask. Is RCism a cult? Nope! Because they all have external authorities and their understanding of grace and faith is synergistic.

God Bless

October 01, 2006 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Howard said in part...

"Your counter-arguments are interesting, but they are irrelevant to me."

I interject...

Whether an argument or statement is *interesting* is indeed irrelevant (unless one seeks entertainment rather than knowledge).

Whether an argument or statement is *true* is relevant.

Today if you hear His voice, harden not your heart.

October 04, 2006 9:21 AM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

"Whether an argument or statement is *interesting* is indeed irrelevant (unless one seeks entertainment rather than knowledge)."

Come now Theo, you know what is meant. I simply meant that although what you have to say may be meaningful to you, it is not actually interacting with my position. That is why I said it is irrelevant to me. I do not care about levels of authority, but what is the Biblical definition of Grace and faith as believed by both sides and expressed in their creeds and confessions. That is why I quoted from my own confession. To give exactly what you wanted...to gain knowledge of the other person's view.

Trent clearly explains that the Protestant Faith as expressed in their confessions is anathemitized and no amount of equivocating is going to make that go away.

God Bless

November 02, 2006 2:27 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Howard wrote:

"Trent clearly explains that the Protestant Faith as expressed in their confessions is anathemitized and no amount of equivocating is going to make that go away."

I reply...

Is there some reason why you would expect a Catholic Church council held at a time when what was intended as internal reformation turned into wholesale spiritual rebellion and hatred of the Church itself, would not call its doctrines anathema? I'm *not* being flippant or insulting when I ask you: Do you know what you're talking about? Here is the Catholic definition of anathema:
“Solemn condemnation, of biblical origin, used by the Church to declare that some position or teaching contradicts Catholic faith and doctrine.”

Howard, if you *truly* want to understand the position you oppose, rather than simply attack it, then you *must stop asserting what you want that other position to be* and by golly, try to understand it.

Please carefully re-read:

Interestingly enough, your not understanding distinctions between dogma, doctrine, etc., extends to ignorance of Church councils in general.

I'm sure you recall that the Council of Jerusalem exercised its apostolic authority to address the growing conflicts between Jewish converts and Pagan converts. The council commanded Christians to abstain from meat that had been offered to idols; yet apostles who heard Jesus preach, "It is not what goes into a man's mouth that defiles him."

The ruling was not dogma (Confirmed truth), but canon law (Guideline of Christian behavior) understood in the context of the time, issue and need for Christians to refrain from something that is "allowed" but not profitable. The council *might* have erred, nevertheless, it was done--and has since been rescinded (though not repudiated).

All of the cannons you cited were of the same reactionary nature as the Jerusalem cannon law--and (in answer to your other question) though the church has not "repudiated" Trent, it has either clarified or rescinded most of its counter-reformation motivated cannon laws (not dogma).

What you deem is irrelevant is at the very heart of addressing your questions and concerns.

You are ignorant of the actual meanings of the things you critique. That is human: we all do such things, and we do so more often than we realize. However, if you continue to willfully choose ignorance, then know that you seek darkness.

This choice is yours alone, Howard.

With prayer and thanks I remain,
your Brother in Christ,
--Theo

November 03, 2006 10:33 AM  

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