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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Preaching the gospel to Roman Catholics
Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
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Now, a bit on Thomas Aquinas. Look, I don’t doubt that the man was a dead set legend in the logic and reason stakes, the sort of man you’d trust to do a liver transplant on the basis of a rough sketch, the availability of a scalpel and his own above average intuitions. But I keep hearing how if I turn to the RC tradition, of which Aquinas is an exemplar and transmitter par excellence, I will be completely blinded by science as my plain reading of scripture falls by the wayside in the face of people like Aquina’s interpretive powers.

The problem? We almost never actually see Aquinas engaging with the text of Scripture.

This, for example, is sheer brilliance:

quote:
originally posted by Thomas Aqinas, raging bull of medieval philosophy:
Whether the infusion of grace is naturally the first of the things required for the justification of the ungodly? <...>

I answer that, The aforesaid four things required for the justification of the ungodly are simultaneous in time, since the justification of the ungodly is not successive, as stated above (Article [7]); but in the order of nature, one is prior to another; and in their natural order the first is the infusion of grace; the second, the free-will's movement towards God; the third, the free-will's movement towards <i.e., with respect to, in fact, away from> sin; the fourth, the remission of sin. <...>



And as a piece of metaphysics that seems to do the trick at the level of reasoned theology, what can you say? In my case, not a lot.

But is there any actual connection with the text of Scripture to show us whether this piece of philosophising is anchored in truth? Any evidence, for example, that the way Aquinas has used the word ‘grace’ here actually corresponds to the way it is used in the Bible? And where does he get, from Scripture, the notion that the will is free to choose the good?

Now for the average liberal theologian such questions matters not a toss. But for the Roman Cath church, which makes all sorts of claims about the necessity of having a good interpreter for Scripture, I think it matters a lot. We need to see that the claim to be interacting with and interpreting God’s word in scripture is backed by reality.

[ 23. February 2006, 10:17: Message edited by: Gordon Cheng ]

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Matt Black

Shipmate
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Gordon, in my view, Paul’s letters provide the greatest storehouse for the kind of soteriology promulgated by you. Evangelical theologians draw heavily from the Pauline corpus in formulating their views of what it means to be saved. It is therefore important that this body of New Testament writing be critically looked at for the purpose of this thread.

Paul is frequently at pains to stress the utterly transformed nature of the Christian’s new life in Christ, and the consequences of this. The classic starting point here is 2 Cor 5:17 – the Christian as a new creation, as it were ab initio. This ties in well with the discourse on baptism in Romans 6, particularly v4; the picture is generated of the old having died and been completely replaced so that, the Christian being “in Christ”, there is “now no condemnation” (Rom 8:1) and nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom 8:31-39), there being complete reconciliation (Col 1:21-23). The consequences of this for us as Christians, particularly vis a vis God, are clearly laid out in such Scriptures as Gal 3:26-47, Eph 1:5-14 and Eph 2:1-10. The general thrust of Paul’s message to many of his churches is that we are made righteous (or justified) as a result of putting our faith in the crucifixion (eg Rom 5:1-2) and thus God regards us as if we were Christ (perfect) with all the attendant rewards; furthermore, this is referred to in the past tense, indicating that it has already been done for us.

I think therefore it is fair to conclude that there is much agreement between Paul and evangelical soteriology over what salvation means, with some important provisos:-

• As with any Biblical interpretation, the usual exegesis needs to be carried out – for example, we have to ask ourselves whether Paul wrote what he did because there was a particular issue in the addressee church which required comment. It is important to bear this in mind; for the moment, I would say that the fact that the above soteriological theme was communicated to a number of Pauline churches strengthens the case for it being treated as a principle of general theological application.

• There are also apparently contradictory Pauline passages that cannot be ignored – on suffering, on the lack of completion of God’s work in us, producing a dialectic tension with my comment above

I will look first at the Pauline scriptures that appear to go against the picture of salvation painted above, with a view to explaining these to a degree; this includes examining the meanings of both salvation and sanctification.

It is clear that, despite the verses referred to in the last section, Paul also talks about the concept of ‘unfinished business’ between us and God quite a bit. Important verses here include Rom 6:18-22, 1 Cor 9:24-27, Phil 3:12-16 and, perhaps most perplexing of all, Phil 2:12. The Romans passage is of particular interest since it contains the ideas of both salvation (Rom 6:18) and sanctification (Rom 6:19-22). Both these terms need looking at.

The distinction between salvation and sanctification has been the subject of a great deal of writing and preaching, especially by evangelicals, and I don’t really want to add a great deal to what has already been said here. Broadly speaking, most evangelicals would draw a clear-cut line between salvation, which they would see as being a once-and-for-all event occurring when an individual repents and gives his/her life to Christ, and sanctification, which is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit within that individual beginning at the point of salvation and working out the consequences of salvation within this/her life. Putting it simply, whilst salvation is a crisis, sanctification is a process.

I think it is fair to say that, in contrast, the interpretation of the more traditional churches, such as the Catholic and Orthodox churches, appealing more perhaps to Phil 2:12, is to blur the difference between the two terms, and also to down-play to a degree the role of the individual in both whilst emphasising the agency of the Church (the Holy Spirit is seen more as acting in the Church collectively, through for example the hierarchy of the Church). Salvation and sanctification are more interwoven, and sanctification is seen more as a means of effecting salvation rather than as a consequence of it (see for example the notion of purgatory and, perhaps also, suffering as an agency of sanctification).

To a degree, I find both approaches to salvation and sanctification inadequate. Whilst agreeing with the general principle that salvation is a once-and-for-all occurrence (and thus disagreeing with the Catholic view), I take issue with it necessarily being a crisis event; I know many people for whom conversion was far more of a process, and perhaps evangelical soteriology needs to recognise this and be couched more in terms of individuals making a series of steps towards Christ rather than just one great leap. As an example, I understand that apparently Billy Graham can put his finger on the exact moment when he came to faith (crisis) but his wife cannot and her experience is better described as a journey to faith (process). Phil 2:12 is however a verse that cannot simply be ignored. It could be, adopting an exegetical approach, that Paul is admonishing the Philippians for taking their salvation lightly. It can also be interpreted as the results of salvation working themselves out through sanctification, but this does not explain the use of the words “fear and trembling”.

Sanctification also is a term that can cover a multitude of sins (if you’ll pardon the double entendre). The very word itself has connotations of holiness, which is one of God’s defining attributes, so one way of looking at it is to regard sanctification as being the process by which we are made more like God (cp Rom 12:1-2). Clearly, therefore, on one level this is a life-long process; as obvious evidence of this I know of no Christian who does not sin (even those who have been baptised into Jesus’ death and resurrection) and who is therefore already perfect ‘on the ground’, as it were, and accordingly we all have some ongoing business with God that we need to attend to in this area (some, like me, more than others!). On the other hand, Paul also talks in terms of sanctification having already occurred in 1 Cor 1:2. Applying exegetical principles to this passage, we need to ask ourselves whether Paul was correcting an imbalance within the Corinthian church here, as he sometimes did with his churches elsewhere. For example, he is keen to stress grace to the Colossians and Galatians, who were still bound up by the Law to a large extent, but is by contrast harsh with the Corinthians’ licentiousness. It seems unlikely, given the Corinthians’ general arrogance in their spiritual gifts etc, that Paul is trying to reassure them that all is well between them and God; in fact, if there is any corrective soteriological concept which is addressed to this church’s over-confidence it is the idea of beholding God “as through a glass darkly” (1 Cor 13:12 and 2 Cor 3:15-18). I think therefore we need to take what Paul is saying here at face value; that there is a level on which sanctification is already accomplished – having been declared righteous, God regards us as being holy already and treats us accordingly. (Elsewhere, Paul does seek to correct the possible attitudinal problems arising from this way of thinking (Rom 6:1-2)).

I would prefer accordingly to see a fine tuning of the definitions of the terms salvation and sanctification. I see salvation (and sanctification too, in the way set out in the above paragraph) as being accomplished by a combination of grace and faith, grace being a past act (the crucifixion and resultant forgiveness) with continuing consequences, and faith being a response-decision to that (whether taken instantly or over a number a graduated steps). The life-long ongoing process resulting from that I see more in terms of developing and deepening our relationship with God which flows from our salvation and in that way, God being Love, we are fitted for heaven; we try not to sin, not so much because it is wrong, but because it wounds God – love, not Law, should be the motivating factor.

[ 23. February 2006, 11:24: Message edited by: Matt Black ]

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"Protestant and Reformed, according to the Tradition of the ancient Catholic Church" - + John Cosin (1594-1672)

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
I suppose all evangelicals are perfect examples of Evangelicalism, Gordon and Lep? [Roll Eyes]

I'm not quite sure what i did to merit this rolleyes as I wasn't casting aspersions when I said this, but actually attempting to say how helpful I was finding this discussion. So [Roll Eyes] back to you with an extra [Razz] .

Justinian
quote:
Comments about Torquemada, Dr. Dobson and other evil Christians notwithstanding?
I dont understand this. I was saying that it is not (on my understanding of the Gospel) per se a sin to claim certainty of salvation, not that everyone who claims that certainty is correct.
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Callan
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Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:

quote:
But is there any actual connection with the text of Scripture to show us whether this piece of philosophising is anchored in truth? Any evidence, for example, that the way Aquinas has used the word ‘grace’ here actually corresponds to the way it is used in the Bible? And where does he get, from Scripture, the notion that the will is free to choose the good?
As you declined to provide a reference the whole question can be found here: 1a2ae 113 q8

The passage you quoted is an explication of this conclusion:

quote:
The cause is naturally prior to its effect. Now the infusion of grace is the cause of whatever is required for the justification of the ungodly, as stated above (7). Therefore it is naturally prior to it.
I would be interested to see a scriptural justification for the claim that Aquinas is wrong at this point, to wit that the justification of the ungodly takes place prior to the infusion of grace. Does he really need to quote Romans to labour the point? Furthermore Aquinas is arguing that the will is not free to choose good aside from divine grace that is, exactly his point. Aquinas is a good Augustinian. Finally to suggest that Aquinas didn't have a good working knowledge of scripture or that he doesn't engage with scripture in the Summa doesn't speak highly of your reading. In the very first question Aquinas considers (1a 1 q1), he writes:

quote:
On the contrary, It is written (2 Timothy 3:16): "All Scripture, inspired of God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice." Now Scripture, inspired of God, is no part of philosophical science, which has been built up by human reason. Therefore it is useful that besides philosophical science, there should be other knowledge, i.e. inspired of God.

I answer that, It was necessary for man's salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God besides philosophical science built up by human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason: "The eye hath not seen, O God, besides Thee, what things Thou hast prepared for them that wait for Thee" (Isaiah 66:4). But the end must first be known by men who are to direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. Even as regards those truths about God which human reason could have discovered, it was necessary that man should be taught by a divine revelation; because the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Whereas man's whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation. It was therefore necessary that besides philosophical science built up by reason, there should be a sacred science learned through revelation.

Philosophy is the handmaid of theology. Aquinas is concerned to deal with sloppy reasoning, which is why so much of the Summa treats of questions which are philosophical in nature and interprets scripture through the lens of Tradition, as did just about everyone prior to the sixteenth century but neither of those detract from his central enterprise which is to set forth in a coherent manner the teaching of the Catholic Church which is revealed in Scripture. That is the point of the Summa. Really, anyone with a nodding acquaintance of the subject, would be more inclined to criticise him for proof-texting than for blithely ignoring the Bible.

[ 23. February 2006, 12:14: Message edited by: Callan ]

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
Justinian
quote:
Comments about Torquemada, Dr. Dobson and other evil Christians notwithstanding?
I dont understand this. I was saying that it is not (on my understanding of the Gospel) per se a sin to claim certainty of salvation, not that everyone who claims that certainty is correct.
I'm pointing out that there are some undeniably evil Christians out there. Do they still have certainty of salvation?

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
I was saying that it is not (on my understanding of the Gospel) per se a sin to claim certainty of salvation, not that everyone who claims that certainty is correct.

Can I try and rephrase my question, Lep? I'm not point-scoring here, I'm trying to grasp where you're coming from.

If not everyone claiming certainty is correct, are you saying that those who're incorrect are lying or that they're mistaken? Because if it's possible to be mistaken, on what is your certainty that you're not mistaken yourself based?

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:


If not everyone claiming certainty is correct, are you saying that those who're incorrect are lying or that they're mistaken? Because if it's possible to be mistaken, on what is your certainty that you're not mistaken yourself based?

2 reasons
1) Objectively because the finished work of Christ is enough to deal with even wicked old me.

2) Subjectively,because Jesus is changing me. Because I am repenting and believing and we speak. because I love other Christians.

The difference as I understand it is that I am behaving this on the basis of unconditional acceptance from God, which is not the explanation that either my Catholic or orthodox friends give for their good works, although may well be the official Catholic position from reading this most enlightening thread.

However, my point remains that in RC theology as explained here, it is the sin of presumption to believe you are certainly going to heaven, which seems to me to be quite a difference between Evangelical and Protestant soteriologies. Which means, very helpful as the Catholic replies have been on this thread, Gordon is not burbling on about nothing. On this occasion.
[Biased]

[ 23. February 2006, 14:04: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]

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He hath loved us, He hath loved us, because he would love

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mousethief

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But Leprechaun, surely all those people who aren't really saved but think they are can produce exactly the same reasons as you do? What then proves you're not one of them?

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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Dinghy Sailor

Ship's Jibsheet
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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
I'm pointing out that there are some undeniably evil Christians out there. Do they still have certainty of salvation?

There's a lot going for salvation by grace, y'know [Smile]

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Preach Christ, because this old humanity has used up all hopes and expectations, but in Christ hope lives and remains.
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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
1) Objectively because the finished work of Christ is enough to deal with even wicked old me.

That can't be relevant. I don't think you'd subscribe to the idea that his work is insufficient to save reprobates, yet you think it's not going to do so, so it doesn't answer the question. It's like saying you're certain you've won the lottery because there was a draw on Wednesday and you bought a ticket.

quote:
2) Subjectively,because Jesus is changing me. Because I am repenting and believing and we speak. because I love other Christians.
This makes more sense to me, but once again how do you know it's not a temporary phenomenon given the parable of the sower and the existence of people who have lost faith?

It seems to me that when an evangelical speaks of certain, complete and total assurance, what they mean is that according to the generally accepted indicators things look favourable, or even that they are as sure as they can possibly be without knowing the future or reading God's mind, but that's not exactly certain, complete nor total is it?

Incidentally I'm not accusing you or anyone else of the sin of presumption - just trying to find the logic in this aspect of evangelical doctrine.

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:


Incidentally I'm not accusing you or anyone else of the sin of presumption - just trying to find the logic in this aspect of evangelical doctrine.

Indeed. And all I'm trying to do is point out that this is quite an important gap between evangelical and Catholic theology - not explain fully the implications of the doctrine of assurance.

With reagrds to my previous answers:

1) I do think the objective stuff comes into it. Assurance isn't just "am I really a Christian?", but also "have I done something bad now to stop me being a Christian?" Now, ISTM, that the evangelical answer to the latter question, especially because of PSA (don't take the bait Greyface [Biased] ) is to say - Christ has totally covered and dealt with God's anger at your sin. God will not deal with you in terms of judgement any more. Now, (and again I reiterate, I am only beginning to understand the official Catholic position from this thread) but the reaction to some of my Catholic friends would NOT be that at all to this question, but "You must go to confession or you aren't forgiven" or "If you say the rosary a few times it will make up for it". I do think it was this type of thing that Luther was trying to refute. Hence my question above to the RCs - how do these things, sacraments and set prayers and the like, fit in to justification and imputed righteousness at the point of conversion, if they do at all?

2) How do I know I am not bad soil? Good question. I suppose what we mean by the doctrine of assurance is that God won't change his mind. My sin (or lack of good deeds) won't change his mind on "letting me in." If I believe that, then it will change my life. But it is the status with God that changes first. No change does not equal try harder, but examine where I am with God.

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Niënna

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ok - Gordon Cheng - basically your issue is assurance-right? You are into the assurance of our salvation and you feel that Roman Catholism somehow is deficient in providing it (among other issues that you have), however, Calvinism provides this need that you seek. Do I understand you correctly? Is this basically what it boils down to? Assurance of our salvation?

Now for some strange reason this is not an issue I have at all. I think if one understands what God's nature is like (vis a via Christ) then this issue just doesn't even make sense or is even relevant.

I mean, if I had was one verse for assurance, I would just use John 3:16. That's all the assurance and insurance I need. Period.

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[Nino points a gun at Chiki]
Nino: Now... tell me. Who started the war?
Chiki: [long pause] We did.
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ken
Ship's Roundhead
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
1) Objectively because the finished work of Christ is enough to deal with even wicked old me.

That can't be relevant. I don't think you'd subscribe to the idea that his work is insufficient to save reprobates, yet you think it's not going to do so, so it doesn't answer the question. It's like saying you're certain you've won the lottery because there was a draw on Wednesday and you bought a ticket.
No - its like saying that your number has already been announced on telly as the winning ticket and you are on your way to collect your prize.

Lep is saying that even if you pop into a bar to celebrate, get smashed, and lose your ticket they'll give you the prize anyway, because they registered who had what number.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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cocktailgirl

mixer of the drinks
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
the reaction to some of my Catholic friends would NOT be that at all to this question, but "You must go to confession or you aren't forgiven" or "If you say the rosary a few times it will make up for it". I do think it was this type of thing that Luther was trying to refute. Hence my question above to the RCs - how do these things, sacraments and set prayers and the like, fit in to justification and imputed righteousness at the point of conversion, if they do at all?

If I may join in from a catholic-end-of-the-Anglican-spectrum POV (and the RCs will be able to tell you where we differ), your characterisation of RCism here is misplaced, which is not to say that there aren't people who believe it. As Duo and others have pointed out, there a whole lot more to grace than that. I presume that, assured of your salvation or not, you still need to confess your sins to God, yes? This is all that happens in confession - it's just another way of doing it. When I go to confession I am no more earning my salvation than you are when you ask God to forgive you for something you've done wrong. Confessing our sins is a response to God's love, and all that Christ did for us in his life, death, resurrection and ascension. I can't earn God's forgiveness by saying a few Hail Marys, though I could give thanks for and enter into a deeper understanding of his forgiveness by meditating on Christ's life, as the rosary encourages. Do you see the difference? Penance isn't a way of earning our forgiveness; it's a way of giving thanks for it, and sometimes of making reparation for something we've done wrong (so if I've confessed the sin of anger, I might be told to go and make up with the person I've fallen out with).
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FCB

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Though Callan has already admirably made my point, I would like to point out to Gordon that Thomas wrote commentaries on:
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah and Lamentations
  • Job
  • Psalms 1-54
  • Matthew
  • John
  • the Pauline Epistles (plus Hebrews)

Perhaps Gordon would like to consult these next time.

The article that Gordon quotes is a rare one in which Aquinas's argument does not grow out of a scriptural or patristic quotation in the sed contra.

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Agent of the Inquisition since 1982.

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Carys

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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
However, my point remains that in RC theology as explained here, it is the sin of presumption to believe you are certainly going to heaven, which seems to me to be quite a difference between Evangelical and Protestant soteriologies. Which means, very helpful as the Catholic replies have been on this thread, Gordon is not burbling on about nothing. On this occasion.
[Biased]

Maybe I'm just weird but I have no problem combining a doctrine of assurance and seeing presumption as a sin. I think that they talk of slighly different things. Discussing this with seasick on one occasion he came up with an analogy about presents which I then developed with reference to <i>Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone</i>. We can have confidence that our parents (for example) will give us a present, but we could still presume on that. Dudley Dursley demonstrates this presumption when he complains he has fewer presents than he did for his previous birthday.

Carys

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O Lord, you have searched me and know me
You know when I sit and when I rise

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Really, anyone with a nodding acquaintance of the subject, would be more inclined to criticise him for proof-texting than for blithely ignoring the Bible.

Yes!

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
I'm not quite sure what i did to merit this rolleyes as I wasn't casting aspersions when I said this, but actually attempting to say how helpful I was finding this discussion. So [Roll Eyes] back to you with an extra [Razz] .

Please accept my apologies for mis-reading. I'll give myself a [Roll Eyes] .

Ian.

[ 23. February 2006, 19:18: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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Gordon Cheng

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Or rather, to elaborate, I in no way accuse the mighty Thomas Aquinas of ignoring scripture. Indeed one of the things that makes a sola scriptura discussion interesting for the likes of me is that as far as I am aware (and I admit, that is not very) every medieval Catholic theologian of note believed themselves to be, in fact, sola scripturists—though it would have been anachronistic to find them describing themselves thus. It is when you start to become aware of the scholastic and interpretive superstructure that they had built around scripture—the four-fold sense of scripture, the speculations built around Peter Lombard's Sentences, that you start to ask "What the Hey?"

I don't for a moment deny that these dudes used Scripture, in the sense of larding their speculations through with it, and seeking to build up elaborate systems of interpretation to help establish philosophical (in Thomas's case, Aristotelianism) ideas. Callan's point about it looking like prooftexting is exactly right.

But if this is meant to cause us to think that the medieval church was interpreting Scripture well, then what's the word I'm looking for?—no.

If you read a Ray Brown or a Joe Fitzmyer today (excellent RC bible scholars), they won't be giving you the literal analogical, tropological or even fruitological meaning of the text of the Bible. We just don't interpret the Bible in the way they did in medieval times (although we are more likely to do it now the way they did in Alexandria, which might be termed "reading for comprehension". Athanasius was a kick-butt bible exegete.)

Now a liberal or an evangelical might say, oh well, that is because scholarship has moved on and we just know that is not how historico-grammatical exegesis ought to be done. But I don't think the RC church has the liberty to do that.

If the claim is, you need the church to mediate and interpret the words of God to the average hapless punter in the pews, then it just looks as if the job done by a fair swag of them was, for a fair period of church history, mediocre (I'm trying to put that charitably, having been told off for my lack of politeness more than once [Smile] ).

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PaulTH*
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# 320

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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng
And where does he get, from Scripture, the notion that the will is free to choose the good?

From Deuteronomy 30.19 where Moses exhorts the Israelites to choose life. And where do you get from Scripture the Calvinist notion that we are utterly depraved and unable to choose good?[code]

[ 23. February 2006, 22:43: Message edited by: John Holding ]

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
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quote:
ok - Gordon Cheng - basically your issue is assurance -right? You are into the assurance of our salvation and you feel that Roman Catholism somehow is deficient in providing it (among other issues that you have), however, Calvinism provides this need that you seek. Do I understand you correctly? Is this basically what it boils down to? Assurance of our salvation?
Hi Joyfulsoul.

In some ways I regret that this has become a discussion about assurance, as existentially significant as that topic is, and even though I think I introduced the subject (mea culpa). As AP said at the bottom of the previous page (and I agree with him), it’s not the gospel. It is possible to be saved without assurance, indeed I know people who believe the same gospel I do, yet still don’t have a sense that they are right with God. Nevertheless I believe assurance is a reasonable (ie in accord with logic) consequence of belief that Jesus has achieved (past tense) our final salvation (future tense) on the cross.

So, my reason for discussing assurance is not because I see it as fundamental to the gospel or to salvation (it isn’t). It’s because it is one of those tell-tale signs that really do indicate profound underlying differences between RCism and evangelical Christianity. For Roman Catholics, complete assurance of salvation is nothing but presumption. It’s a sin. For evangelical Christians, assurance is a right outworking of the gospel—even allowing that some people may not possess that assurance. It’s an understanding that Jesus’ death really was sufficient to cover all my sins; past, present, future. It’s a rejection of a weakened understanding of grace which sees grace as an ‘infusion’, almost like a substance that gets you to a certain point, and then your free will (as Ingo’s quotes from Aquinas demonstrate) will keep you on the path to righteousness, as you continue to choose to do the good. Hopefully. Or perhaps not.

As Ingo has argued elsewhere on these boards, and even on this thread, various ecumenical dialogues (Lutheran-RC and Anglican-RC for example) show that there has been a shifting of positions. But IIRC, his view is not that Rome has changed at all on basic questions like the nature of grace and the meaning of justification. It’s that some Protestants (on Ingo’s view) are finally getting their act together and shifting closer to an RC view. I agree. There is a shift. I just don’t think it’s a good thing. Ingo has compared Rome’s position as politely looking away while Anglicanism (and others) make a few necessary and important adjustments to their doctrinal views.

That’s why of all the Roman Catholic writings that we could be discussing, it’s the declarations of the Council of Trent that most usefully point up the issues at stake. Put simply, they condemn what I believe, along with anyone who continues to hold to the teachings of historical Protestantism. If they are really no longer relevant to contemporary discussion, then Duo, Ingo, Trisagion or some other helpful shipmate will be able to show where the Roman Catholic church has repealed the specific condemnations included with these declarations.

Matt, thanks for your thoughtful post. I think that the traditional evangelical view of sanctification as process, whilst theologically useful, doesn’t in fact do justice to New Testament usage of the “sanctification” (Greek hagiadzw) vocabulary. Primarily, the New Testament uses sanctification, sanctify, and related to refer to a past, completed act. Anyone who belongs to Christ is, in the New Testament understanding, a “saint”—eg the “saints” in Corinth (!) (1 Corinthians 1:2, although note that the words “to be”, in many English translations are not in the Greek. The Corinthians are “called saints”)

PaulTH, Deuteronomy 30:19 does indeed set a choice before Israel (Does Aquinas appeal to this BTW?) Not, I believe a free choice, or the prophecy of Deuteronomy 31:16-22 becomes at best a ludicrous piece of overstatement and at worst a lie.

[fixed code]

[ 23. February 2006, 22:13: Message edited by: RuthW ]

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
# 8895

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Sorry hosts, stuffed code. Hubris on my part.

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Niënna

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Thank you, Gordon, for your post. I greatly appreciated the effort and time you put into it.

Ok, so let me see if I can finally get this right - Gordon, your main issue is still the fire and smoke debate [Biased] ?

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PaulTH*
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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
For Roman Catholics, complete assurance of salvation is nothing but presumption. It’s a sin. For evangelical Christians, assurance is a right outworking of the gospel—even allowing that some people may not possess that assurance

What utter arrogance you are capable of, Gordon. Catholics are born again of water in their baptism. They partake of Christ's sacrifice on Calvery at every Mass they attend which is offered for the living and the dead. Now its obvious that you don't share in this view of redemtion. But I don't share in your nauseating PSA nor your condemnation of most of the human race to the eternal fire.

Perhaps it comes down to temprament. Eternal damnation can be proved from Scripture. But so can universal reconciliation. One who chooses to forgive will be more attracted to the biblical concept that God forgives seventy times seven. One who gloats in the downfall of their enemies will be happy with the idea that they must rot for eternity. But there's a psychotic element in enjoying such suffering.

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John Holding

Coffee and Cognac
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Gordon --

Do you think you could relieve some of the irritation I get from your posts (not as a Host I want to make clear) by contrasting either RC christianity and evangelical christianity or RCism (to use your abbreviation) and Evangelicalism?

You see, every time you compare (and contrast) "RCism" and "evangelical Christianity", it looks an awful lot to me as if you don't think "RCism" is a version of christianity.

Petty of me, I know, but there it is.

Thanks

John

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Perhaps it comes down to temprament. Eternal damnation can be proved from Scripture. But so can universal reconciliation. One who chooses to forgive will be more attracted to the biblical concept that God forgives seventy times seven. One who gloats in the downfall of their enemies will be happy with the idea that they must rot for eternity. But there's a psychotic element in enjoying such suffering.

While I'm probably more closely aligned with you theologically Paul, I have to say something here.

I don't see any gloating: more concern for those they believe to be on the wrong path. I may not agree with Gordon's theology, but I couldn't attribute "joy in suffering" motives to him. I've never met him, but from discussions here and on another board, I only see concern from him.

I believe he may be misguided in terms of his beliefs about our Catholic brothers and sisters, but I can't see him rejoicing in anyone's eternal suffering.

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
# 8895

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Sure John H

it's a product of writing in haste. Just for the record, I think Roman Catholicism can rightly be described as Christian!!

PaulTH*

quote:
Best Wishes
Paul


this is nice but looked a bit funny coming at the end of your previous post, I gotta say. But in response to what you said, here I believe is the right reaction to realizing that people are under judgement. The thought of people going to hell appals me, which is why I very much hope (but fear I'm wrong) that I can get away thinking that there's just Judas and two other people down there.

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AdamPater
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Just curious: are you absolutely sure that Judas is damned?

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
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Hey AP,

the trajectory of the gospel narratives, Jesus' seemingly fixed belief in the reality of hell, and verses like this:

quote:
originally posted by Jesus:While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
seem unequivocal to me.

Or the straight answer: yes, as sure as you get to be on these things.

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Niënna

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# 4652

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PaulTH*, I really don't get the I-enjoy-people-burning-in-hell vibe at all from Gordon Cheng. He may express some views that you and I find bewildering (or repulsive) if not downright unbiblical, but I doubt he would put so much effort into "preaching the gospel" if he didn't feel a genuine concern for others.

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Duo Seraphim
Ubi caritas et amor
# 256

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quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
PaulTH*, I really don't get the I-enjoy-people-burning-in-hell vibe at all from Gordon Cheng. He may express some views that you and I find bewildering (or repulsive) if not downright unbiblical, but I doubt he would put so much effort into "preaching the gospel" if he didn't feel a genuine concern for others.

O I agree. His concerns are,however, completely misplaced - at least in terms of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Surely it's better to worry about those who have not heard or who refuse to hear the good news, rather than worry whether those who have heard it got exactly the same message out of hearing it that you did.

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The Messiah, Peace be upon him, said to his Apostles: 'Verily, this world is merely a bridge, so cross over it, and do not make it your abode.' (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 319)

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Luke

Soli Deo Gloria
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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
What utter arrogance you are capable of, Gordon. ...

[Confused]

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Robert Armin

All licens'd fool
# 182

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The point has been made that, whatever the "official" teaching of Catholicism, your average "Catholic on the street" believes and behaves in a way that looks as though they are trusting works for their salvation. It seems to me that there is some truth in this charge, but (again ISTM) that this is a problem that afflicts every variety of Christianity.

If we look at Calvinism itself, despite its proclamation of "salvation by grace alone", in practice it has resulted in terrible cases of individuals trying to "prove" that they are of the elect by doimng good works. Look at the excesses of Calvin's Geneva. Or that terrible book Pilgrim's Progress - one mistake after conversion and you are lost.

Now this is not Calvinist bashing. Instead it is a recognition of an aspect of human nature, as I see it - we all like to try to earn valuable things, so we can claim them as our own; we find accepting big gifts hard. So every branch of the church has to struggle with this gap between belief and practice. (BTW, this is a serious point, and I would be glad of some response to it. I'm afraid I don't think GC will answer it as I think I'm on his lists of SHipmates to ignore, but if any other Calvinists would like to correct my perception I would be glad to hear from you.)

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Leprechaun

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# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by The Wanderer:


Now this is not Calvinist bashing. Instead it is a recognition of an aspect of human nature, as I see it - we all like to try to earn valuable things, so we can claim them as our own; we find accepting big gifts hard. So every branch of the church has to struggle with this gap between belief and practice. (BTW, this is a serious point, and I would be glad of some response to it. I'm afraid I don't think GC will answer it as I think I'm on his lists of SHipmates to ignore, but if any other Calvinists would like to correct my perception I would be glad to hear from you.)

I don't think this is untrue Wanderer. I have met, and attended a number of evangelical/Calvinist congregations where grace really didn't seem to be believed in practice. [Frown]

I suppose the question I am asking is whether the official Roman Catholic doctrine, on things like the sacraments, imparted rather than imputed righteousness, penance, and the role of the priest is more likely to feed this aspect of our nature than a a clear and unequivocal evangelical interpretation.

Coktailgirl's post above was helpful in explaining some of these things, so I am still pondering.

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Robert Armin

All licens'd fool
# 182

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Thanks for the reply Lep. It seems to me that in every branch of the Church we have to struggle with this gap between what we believe and what we actually do - and working for our salvation is a trap many of us fall into.

Can I ask a further question please? You mentioned the difference between imputed and imparted righteousness, and I know that this has come up before. Could you explain the difference to me very simply please, because I honestly don't know what it is? And, while I know that shades of meaning can sometimes be vitally important, why is this distinction so critical? As a stranger to this particular debate I'm afraid it sounds like hair splitting to me - but I am happy to be proved wrong.

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by The Wanderer:
Could you explain the difference to me very simply please, because I honestly don't know what it is? And, while I know that shades of meaning can sometimes be vitally important, why is this distinction so critical? As a stranger to this particular debate I'm afraid it sounds like hair splitting to me - but I am happy to be proved wrong.

Well, I'll try, but hopefully some more knowledgable person will explain better afterwards.

Imputed rightoeusness is the idea that we become the righteousness of God - it is really the idea that sparked the reformation as I understand it as Luther realised that the "righteousness of God" in Romans means God's righteousness given to us as a status from the moment of conversion. In this understanding, AFAICT, the process of becoming more holy in action is done from a basis of right standing with God given by God, God views us as righteous from the time we trust in Christ.

Imparted righteousness I think is the idea that God does not make us righteous through a legal fiction - that he views me through the lens of Christ's righteousness - but rather God comes to me and begins making me righteous in fact. This is not something our first group of people deny - but the question is when do I become righteous in God's sight. The imputed righteousness view says, at coversion, the imparted righteousness view, I think, says throughout life becoming righteous is a process.

I think that is correct summary of the views. It's worth saying that until now I hadn't viewed imparted righteousness as a particularly Roman Catholic view - several conservative scholars go for it too - NT Wright being the most obvious. I (you can probably guess) am firmly of view number one!

Why does it matter to me? Because I think imparted righteousness can become salvation by works through the back door - how right you are with God, can, ISTM be measured by how righteous your acts are at a particular time. I don't buy that. But as I said, it may not mean this - I'd love some Catholic (and Orthodox, because I think this may be closely tied up with the idea of theosis) shipmates to tell me their views.

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
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"imputed righteousness" = God treats me as righteous even though I'm really a sinner. i.e justification precedes sanctification.

"imparted righteousness" = God gives me the power to be come righteous. i.e. justification and sanctification are two sides of the same coin.

As more or less all Christians believe in the eventual sanctification of the redeemed, the difference is really one of timing.

The Reformed/Calvinist tradtions, tending to go back to Augustine and to be very heavy on the eternity and omniscience and sovreignty of God, perhaps like to talk more about our eternal condition - saved - than our temporal one - still sinners.

From the point of view of eternity we are saved, and were saved and chosen from before the founding of the world. From a point of view within time we are still looking forward.

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L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
As more or less all Christians believe in the eventual sanctification of the redeemed, the difference is really one of timing.

To be even more specific about it, it's always seemed to me to be an argument over terminology not doctrine. What matters is the concept, not the jargon, and the jargon says the same thing in multiple ways when it's looked at deeply.

It's when it's skim-read that confusion arises. A Calvinist says a person is saved, and that implies to some that the person can go off to axe-murdering, total rejection of faith, spitting at icons and Satan-worshipping with impugnity. A Catholic says we must avoid presumption and that implies to some that God doesn't know and didn't always know who would be saved, or that we save ourselves.

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Josephine

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quote:
Originally posted by The Wanderer:
The point has been made that, whatever the "official" teaching of Catholicism, your average "Catholic on the street" believes and behaves in a way that looks as though they are trusting works for their salvation. It seems to me that there is some truth in this charge, but (again ISTM) that this is a problem that afflicts every variety of Christianity.

I would agree. But the difference that I tend to see is this: Catholic types often seem to believe that their own good works earn them brownie points from God, while evangelical and fundamentalist types often seem to believe that the the sins of others cause them to be utterly incapable of receiving grace from God.

The result of this is that Catholic types may work ever harder at virtue, while evangelical/fundamentalist types may become ever more judgmental of others.

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Callan
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Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:

quote:
Or rather, to elaborate, I in no way accuse the mighty Thomas Aquinas of ignoring scripture. Indeed one of the things that makes a sola scriptura discussion interesting for the likes of me is that as far as I am aware (and I admit, that is not very) every medieval Catholic theologian of note believed themselves to be, in fact, sola scripturists—though it would have been anachronistic to find them describing themselves thus. It is when you start to become aware of the scholastic and interpretive superstructure that they had built around scripture—the four-fold sense of scripture, the speculations built around Peter Lombard's Sentences, that you start to ask "What the Hey?"

I don't for a moment deny that these dudes used Scripture, in the sense of larding their speculations through with it, and seeking to build up elaborate systems of interpretation to help establish philosophical (in Thomas's case, Aristotelianism) ideas. Callan's point about it looking like prooftexting is exactly right.

I don't think Thomas was in the business of establishing philosophical ideas, Aristotelian or otherwise. The ideas were already in situ, and Thomas sees his role as being to set forth the Christian faith in the light of these ideas. If you look at the sections on creation, for example, you will notice that the objection is often drawn from the work of Aristotle whereas the Sed Contra is drawn from scripture or Christian doctrine. (Hence my jocular remark about proof-texting, in any controversy between Scripture and Aristotle it is Scripture that invariably triumphs in Aquinas' scheme of things.)

quote:
But if this is meant to cause us to think that the medieval church was interpreting Scripture well, then what's the word I'm looking for?—no.

If you read a Ray Brown or a Joe Fitzmyer today (excellent RC bible scholars), they won't be giving you the literal analogical, tropological or even fruitological meaning of the text of the Bible. We just don't interpret the Bible in the way they did in medieval times (although we are more likely to do it now the way they did in Alexandria, which might be termed "reading for comprehension". Athanasius was a kick-butt bible exegete.)

Medieval forms of exegesis derive from the patristic era. Aquinas, for example, draws heavily on Augustine's schema when he discusses the matter. It is quite true that Aquinas did not produce modern scholarship, of course but that is a rather trivial objection. Your position, judging from previous threads, seems to be that when modern scholarship diverges from the conclusions established by the Magisterial Reformation (e.g. your dismissal of N.T. Wright) so much the worse for modern scholarship but when modern scholarship differs from Aquinas, so much the worse for Aquinas. I think that Thomas' assertion that scripture is capable of bearing more than its primary meaning is a sound one. The notion that the events described in the Old Testament foreshadow Christ, for example, I would have thought was comparatively uncontroversial.

quote:
Now a liberal or an evangelical might say, oh well, that is because scholarship has moved on and we just know that is not how historico-grammatical exegesis ought to be done. But I don't think the RC church has the liberty to do that.

If the claim is, you need the church to mediate and interpret the words of God to the average hapless punter in the pews, then it just looks as if the job done by a fair swag of them was, for a fair period of church history, mediocre (I'm trying to put that charitably, having been told off for my lack of politeness more than once :Smile: ).

I think you misunderstand the nature of the RCC's claim to authority. I think virtually all scholars would agree that there have been periods in the Church's history when teaching has been better than others. Intra-Catholic debates tend to be about which periods this is true of. The same is almost certainly the case with all Christian traditions (Karl Barth, IIRC, was pretty scathing about some forms of the protestant tradition during the 18th century.) But even you (one hopes!) would agree that a mediocre biblical exegete can be saved. It would be unusual but you can have a low opinion of St Thomas and be a Catholic in good standing with the Church. The RCC's claim is that when it teaches something infallibly in matters of faith and morals one can be certain that it is, actually, infallible. That is not the same as saying that every single Catholic theologian and exegete is uniformly wonderful.

[ 24. February 2006, 15:24: Message edited by: Callan ]

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Robert Armin

All licens'd fool
# 182

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by ken:
As more or less all Christians believe in the eventual sanctification of the redeemed, the difference is really one of timing.

To be even more specific about it, it's always seemed to me to be an argument over terminology not doctrine. What matters is the concept, not the jargon, and the jargon says the same thing in multiple ways when it's looked at deeply.

Many thanks to all of you who have posted in answer to my query. Insofar as I have understood things correctly, I think I'm in agreement with GreyFace's comment that this is an argument over terminology not doctrine.

--------------------
Keeping fit was an obsession with Fr Moity .... He did chin ups in the vestry, calisthenics in the pulpit, and had developed a series of Tai-Chi exercises to correspond with ritual movements of the Mass. The Antipope Robert Rankin

Posts: 8927 | From: In the pack | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
PaulTH*
Shipmate
# 320

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Dear Gordon Cheng

I unequivocally apologise if I accused you of gloating over people going to hell, which you obviously don't from the things you write. I think there's a fair bit of distance between us theologically and I don't find your views easy to deal with, but I'm sure you would join me in at least hoping for the salvation of all mankind.

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Paul

Posts: 6387 | From: White Cliffs Country | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
GreyFace
Shipmate
# 4682

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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
Why does it matter to me? Because I think imparted righteousness can become salvation by works through the back door - how right you are with God, can, ISTM be measured by how righteous your acts are at a particular time. I don't buy that. But as I said, it may not mean this - I'd love some Catholic (and Orthodox, because I think this may be closely tied up with the idea of theosis) shipmates to tell me their views.

Can I have a go at answering from the point of view of an Anglican who's highly sympathic to Catholic and Orthodox thinking?

Omniscience and grace totally short-circuit the idea of salvation by works (as opposed to through them - that's a more subtle issue) even in imparted righteousness. Put simply, God treating a sinner as righteous does not mean that God pretends said sinner is not a sinner but rather that he treats him through his mercy according to what he will be when sanctification is complete - righteous in all senses of the word by what he is, though clearly not according to past offences.

It seems to me that if you consider omniscience and the eternal viewpoint long enough, you can't help but realise that there's only a difference between imputed and imparted righteousness if you think God imputes righteousness (legal fiction) to those to whom he will never impart righteousness (reality).

Which is basically what ken said, in less words.

Posts: 5748 | From: North East England | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
# 8895

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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Dear Gordon Cheng

I unequivocally apologise if I accused you of gloating over people going to hell, which you obviously don't from the things you write. I think there's a fair bit of distance between us theologically and I don't find your views easy to deal with, but I'm sure you would join me in at least hoping for the salvation of all mankind.

No worries PaulTH*. I seem to get up some people's noses. Sometimes it's deliberate, but it wasn't for you and it often isn't for others ("others" includes you Trisagion, Duo; my offence to you is never deliberate).

****

This imputed/imparted question matters a great deal here; Leprechaun and Ken have said what I think too. I will try to come back and explain things a bit better from my end.

Callan, the fact that when Thomas Aq. sets up his argument using Aristotle and then refutes using Scripture has got to be right in there as one of the basic observations with which you approach TA. On the doctrine of creation, for example, I can't see there's a question at all. Thomas just sticks it to Aristotle big time, as does anyone who calls themselves Christian. It's the epistemology and within that, the role of reason, that is going to be the contested ground in a discussion with historical Protestantism.

--------------------
Latest on blog: those were the days...; throwing up; clerical abuse; biddulph on child care

Posts: 4392 | From: Sydney, Australia | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
DangerousDeacon
Shipmate
# 10582

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Just trying to make some sense of this fascinating thread (and full of admiration for Gordon's defence of Sydney Anglicanism).

OK, we agree that Catholics and Evangelicals are Christians? And we also agree that there are differences between them, some of which have been debated above in illuminating detail. And undoubtedly we have much to learn by considering doctrines that are at variance with our own. So publishing Evangelical tracts and Catholic papers which are aimed at illuminating our differences (and helping to explain centuries of controversy) are good things.

But should the aim of such work be to "convert" other Christians? Surely only the most rabid extremist would claim that salvation is only to be found in their denomination. As I understand it the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and the Protestant denominations would not deny that members of other churches are Christians who have salvation through the grace of God. We will argue about the form of the salvation, but would we deny that salvation?

Accordingly, if we accept that the members of other denominations are Christians who have salvation, why would you want to proselytise those other churches? Surely Christians are better off evangelising the unchurched rather than "sheep stealing"?

--------------------
'All the same, it may be that I am wrong; what I take for gold and diamonds may be only a little copper and glass.'

Posts: 506 | From: Top End | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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I'm somewhat confused what the main issue is at the moment, so I will for now just make a minor but I think nevertheless important point concerning this:

quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
It's the epistemology and within that, the role of reason, that is going to be the contested ground in a discussion with historical Protestantism.

The mediaevals up to the late scholastics and prior to them the ancients including the church fathers, did not understand "reason" quite as we children of the enlightenment do. The word that gets translated as "reason" is the Latin "ratio". Now what "ratio" actually means is the conformity of the mind with reality. This is not the same as modern "reason", which is basically used to describe a variety of mental processes, like deduction, by which we arrive at conclusions about reality.

To give an example that should make this clear: I stand at the beach and observe a fantastic sunset. I sigh and say "This is fantastic." At this point in time, a mediaeval would say that my "ratio" was engaged, I have "ratio-ed" to bring my mind into conformity with reality. But few moderns would say that I have reasoned. Nevertheless, "ratio" usually becomes "reason" in translations.

A lot of the statements of for example St Thomas Aquinas make only sense if one knows this. For example, when he says that reason (ratio!) always precedes will, he's not at all saying that we always deliberate in a rational manner. What he is saying is that in order to want anything, we first must know that it is there. If I see chocolate and grab and eat it, first "ratio" realized the existence of chocolate in my vicinity, giving my will the necessary information for acting. This remains true even if I shouldn't have eaten that chocolate because I'm too fat already. In that case then my "ratio" was deficient in that it did not take into consideration the greater good of my health, which is also a reality. But "ratio" wasn't absent in my actions, whereas moderns would say that it was unreasonable.

From that perspective it makes for example also perfect sense to say that for sex to be good it must be "reasonable" - in accordance with "ratio". That's not saying anything about the intensity of passion, it's saying that you presumably don't want to end up bonking a tree... Of course, moral theology builds on that by saying that you should "reasonably" have sex only with your wife. Whatever you may think of that, what's not meant is that sex should be a reasoned affair in the modern sense, i.e., a well thought-through, calm act of opimization.

To repeat, ancient (and in particular Thomistic) reason (ratio) means first simply to be in correspondence with reality itself. Second, it cannot be reduced to natural cognition, it refers in the widest possible sense to the human mind grasping reality. Third, stressing the importance of reason (ratio) does not at all mean advocating an emotionsless state which applies reductionism to life until it dries up and shrivels. Rather we would perhaps express the same as "You've got to stay real!" or "Things are as they are." Fourth, in no way is implied that reason (ratio) as mental process may never be absent or otherwise we lose accord with reality. Aquinas himself gives the example that losing reason (ratio) in going to sleep is very reasonable and refutes that being overwhelmed by passion during sex must be sinful because of the loss of reason (ratio).

With all that said, I wonder how many objections to Aquinas' reason (ratio!) can remain among our Protestant brethren. Actually, perhaps more interestingly, I wonder if this doesn't go some way to reconciling the Orthodox a bit with Aquinas. Aquinas is most definitely not denying a "mystical" approach or "faith" with his ratio. Indeed, if they are real, he would say they are kinds of "ratio" (though possibly super-natural ones...)! Aquinas however would object to worshipping a tree or being an atheist, because for him that is being ir-ratio-nal, not being in accord with the reality of God. I find it hard to see fault in this...

--------------------
They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

Posts: 12010 | From: Gone fishing | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Dinghy Sailor

Ship's Jibsheet
# 8507

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quote:
Originally posted by DangerousDeacon:
OK, we agree that Catholics and Evangelicals are Christians?

Neither every single Catholic nor every single evangelical is a Christian.

Oh s***. I just saw that this was my thousanth post. Oh no, I'm a true nerd! I have acheived over 1000 posts on two messageboards! NOOOOOOO!

[ 25. February 2006, 11:27: Message edited by: dinghy sailor ]

--------------------
Preach Christ, because this old humanity has used up all hopes and expectations, but in Christ hope lives and remains.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Posts: 2821 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
# 8895

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
I'm somewhat confused what the main issue is at the moment, so I will for now just make a minor but I think nevertheless important point concerning this:

quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
It's the epistemology and within that, the role of reason, that is going to be the contested ground in a discussion with historical Protestantism.

The mediaevals up to the late scholastics and prior to them the ancients including the church fathers, did not understand "reason" quite as we children of the enlightenment do. The word that gets translated as "reason" is the Latin "ratio". Now what "ratio" actually means is the conformity of the mind with reality. This is not the same as modern "reason", which is basically used to describe a variety of mental processes, like deduction, by which we arrive at conclusions about reality.

To give an example that should make this clear: I stand at the beach and observe a fantastic sunset. I sigh and say "This is fantastic." At this point in time, a mediaeval would say that my "ratio" was engaged, I have "ratio-ed" to bring my mind into conformity with reality. But few moderns would say that I have reasoned. Nevertheless, "ratio" usually becomes "reason" in translations.

A lot of the statements of for example St Thomas Aquinas make only sense if one knows this. For example, when he says that reason (ratio!) always precedes will, he's not at all saying that we always deliberate in a rational manner. What he is saying is that in order to want anything, we first must know that it is there. If I see chocolate and grab and eat it, first "ratio" realized the existence of chocolate in my vicinity, giving my will the necessary information for acting. This remains true even if I shouldn't have eaten that chocolate because I'm too fat already. In that case then my "ratio" was deficient in that it did not take into consideration the greater good of my health, which is also a reality. But "ratio" wasn't absent in my actions, whereas moderns would say that it was unreasonable.

From that perspective it makes for example also perfect sense to say that for sex to be good it must be "reasonable" - in accordance with "ratio". That's not saying anything about the intensity of passion, it's saying that you presumably don't want to end up bonking a tree... Of course, moral theology builds on that by saying that you should "reasonably" have sex only with your wife. Whatever you may think of that, what's not meant is that sex should be a reasoned affair in the modern sense, i.e., a well thought-through, calm act of opimization.

To repeat, ancient (and in particular Thomistic) reason (ratio) means first simply to be in correspondence with reality itself. Second, it cannot be reduced to natural cognition, it refers in the widest possible sense to the human mind grasping reality. Third, stressing the importance of reason (ratio) does not at all mean advocating an emotionsless state which applies reductionism to life until it dries up and shrivels. Rather we would perhaps express the same as "You've got to stay real!" or "Things are as they are." Fourth, in no way is implied that reason (ratio) as mental process may never be absent or otherwise we lose accord with reality. Aquinas himself gives the example that losing reason (ratio) in going to sleep is very reasonable and refutes that being overwhelmed by passion during sex must be sinful because of the loss of reason (ratio).

Yeah this is it, and brilliantly summarized as always Ingo, on the epistemology question. What you've said here, is what I understand by "reason", at least when we're talking Thomas A. What a powerful and attractive view of the world this is. Within Protestantism, it is what Brunner was advocating and Barth was insisting "Nein!!!!" [exclamation marks mine].

The other question Ingo, and the one that really worries me, and it's the whole imputed/imparted thingy, is "How can I be right with God?". My answer is not yours.

(By the way, you are one of the people that I am trying to deliberately offend. Unfortunately, I seem to have failed completely at every step of the way. Perhaps you are hiding your hurt. [Biased] )

--------------------
Latest on blog: those were the days...; throwing up; clerical abuse; biddulph on child care

Posts: 4392 | From: Sydney, Australia | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fauja

Lesser known misfit
# 2054

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Y'know, I wonder if half the problem with ship-mates in purgatory is that they too often confuse their own finite reason and rationality with that of the Holy Spirit's.

Scuse the interruption (one r or two?).

Posts: 829 | From: uk | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
The other question Ingo, and the one that really worries me, and it's the whole imputed/imparted thingy, is "How can I be right with God?". My answer is not yours.

I don't think I've said anything specifically about that yet? I'm not clear as to what precisely the problem is supposed to be and I have not spend enough time thinking through what has been said above by other people.

quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
(By the way, you are one of the people that I am trying to deliberately offend. Unfortunately, I seem to have failed completely at every step of the way. Perhaps you are hiding your hurt. [Biased] )

But Gordon, I rest entirely assured that I try to follow the way, and the truth, and the life. Why should I become offended by what you say? [Smile]

--------------------
They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

Posts: 12010 | From: Gone fishing | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged



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