Tagged: apologetics

Fullness of Truth comes to Prince of Peace

 

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Dr. Michael Barber: Michael Barber is the Professor of Theology, Scripture and Catholic Thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University. He has his Ph.D. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. His dissertation was on the Historical Jesus and Sacramental Eschatology under the world famous scholar, Colin Brown. He has an M.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and received his B.A. in Theology and Philosophy from Azusa Pacific University. He is the author of several books, including,Coming Soon: Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying Its Lessons Today (Emmaus Road, 2006) andGenesis to Jesus: Studying Scripture from the Heart of the Church(Servant, 2007), a Bible study co-authored with Kimberly Hahn.

Dr. John Bergsma: Dr. John Bergsma is Full Professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, in Steubenville, Ohio. He holds the M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and served as a Protestant pastor for four years before entering the Catholic Church in 2001 while pursuing a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame. He specialized in the Old Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls, graduating with high honors in 2004. His major study of the interpretation of the Year of Jubilee in ancient times is published as The Jubilee from Leviticus to Qumran (Brill Academic, 2007).

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What Scripture does not say

There’s an interesting discussion going on in the comments to the Paradigm article. Thanks to all who are participating there. The idea that is surfacing is that Protestants make up doctrine according to what they claim, “Scripture does not say”.
Read More…

Mary, Ark of the New Covenant

Ark of the New Covenant (Rev 11:19-12:1)

I have, in the past, discussed this passage with several of our Reformed brothers and sisters.  And they are of the opinion that this verse does not describe the Blessed Virgin Mary.  So, I’d like to visit some Scriptures of which they might not be aware, to perhaps get some understanding as to why the Blessed Virgin Mary is considered the Ark of the New Covenant. Why we consider her so important to our faith. And why we believe she is our mother, given to us by God the Father.

The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture
Revelation 11:19
19And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Revelation 12:1
1And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

Perhaps you will agree with me that the Jews considered the Ark, made of wood, a very important part of their faith. In that Ark of the Old Covenant, were contained the Word of God written by the finger of God on stone tablets, the Rod of Aaron, symbol of the Aaronic High Priesthood and the Manna from heaven (i.e. Bread of heaven).

Perhaps you will also agree that those three things are symbols of Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, who was contained in the Ark which was not made by human hands, the womb of our Blessed Mother.

Hebrews 9:4
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

Luke 1:30-32

King James Version (KJV)
30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:


The Israelites had a great deal of reverence for this wooden box. They even bowed before it:
Joshua 7:6
And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.

And they considered it the Glory of Israel:
1 Samuel 4:22
And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

Of course, Catholics are frequently berated by Protestants for bowing before images of Our Blessed Mother:
Meet Your Mother: An Introduction to Mary
Luke 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

Power flowed from this wooden box. So much so, that the Philistines, when they stole it, were forced to return it even though the Israelites did not intervene at all (see 1 Sam Chapter 5).

Reformers berate Catholics because we believe that power now flows through the Virgin Mother.
Revelation 12:17

King James Version (KJV)
17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.There are so many parallels between Mary and the Ark of the Old Covenant, that it would take a small book to list them all. For the sake of time, I’d like to simply post a small snippet from a Catholic source:

Compare David and the ark to Luke’s account of the Visitation:

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:39-45).Here are the parallels:

Mary: Handmaid of the Lord

  • Mary arose and went to the hill country of Judea. Ein Kerem (where Elizabeth lived) and Abu Ghosh (where the ark resided) are only a short walk apart. Mary and the ark were both on a journey to the same hill country of Judea.
  • When David saw the ark he rejoiced and said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” Elizabeth uses almost the same words: “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Luke is telling us something — drawing our minds back to the Old Testament, showing us a parallel.
  • When David approached the ark he shouted out and danced and leapt in front of the ark. He was wearing an ephod, the clothing of a priest. When Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, approached Elizabeth, John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb — and John was from the priestly line of Aaron. Both leapt and danced in the presence of the ark. The Ark of the Old Covenant remained in the house of Obed-edom for three months, and Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months. The place that housed the ark for three months was blessed, and in the short paragraph in Luke, Elizabeth uses the word blessed three times. Her home was certainly blessed by the presence of the ark and the Lord within…..

Catholic Culture

I’d like to ask this. Is Scripture telling us that St. Mary’s role in salvation history is much more important than Protestant theology teaches? And also, for those who do not believe that she is the ark of the New Covenant, are all these verses merely coincidence?

Sacred Tradition, milk and honey

On Craig’s blog, THOUGHT ON “MILK, HONEY, BAPTISM, AND THE DEATH OF TRADITION”, I made the following comment:

De Maria said:

  1. Craig said;  If Catholicism and Orthodoxy have preserved “Tradition,” why isn’t there milk and honey used during baptism?

    Because it is the Pope and the Church which holds the keys to the Kingdom. Not individual priests or Bishops.

    Believe it or not, tasting a delicious concoction of milk and honey used to be a very important baptismal tradition.

    I believe it.

    First, why is this a big deal? It is because they claim that a Sola Scriptura view leaves out important traditions and teachings that are not found in the Scripture, but rather in tradition.

    That is correct.

    To prove this viewpoint the will point to quotes from Fathers such as Basil of Caeserea that say something to the following effect:

    Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or enjoined which are preserved in the Church, some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have delivered to us in a mystery by the apostles by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force
    If such traditions have the “force” of true religion, why isn’t drinking milk mixed with honey something still required as part of the baptismal rite?

    Let’s talk about something a bit different. Just to make a comparison. God said, in His Word,

    Exodus 20:8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

    Those words and that Tradition was set forth by ALLMIGHTY GOD. Right?

    Do Christians still keep the Sabbath? Not in the eyes of the uninitiated. They see us keep the first day, that is, Sunday. Not the Sabbath. However, the word Sabbath has two meanings. One is 7 and is a reference the seventh day, which is Saturday in our calendar. The other is OATH. And we still keep the oath, except we keep it on Sunday Mass as a day of obligation and are free to make the oath on a daily basis in the daily Mass.

    So, why was it transferred, if God commanded us to keep it on Saturday? Because of the authority which Jesus Christ, (aka God) vested in the Catholic Church when He said, “the gates of hell will not prevail against it and I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. What you lock on earth will be locked in heaven. What you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

    Therefore, the day of worship was changed to the first day of the week and you see no objection in the Scripture. In fact, the Scripture only mentions it in passing:

    Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

    Some apologists will say that maybe milk and honey was never quite so serious. However, it was.

    Do you think that the command to keep the Sabbath was serious? or not?

    Ok, now let’s examine what St. Jerome has to say. First, you are essentially like the Luciferians (No, it is not a reference to Satan). You are questioning the authority of the Catholic Church. So this is an excellent document to study. Let’s begin a bit earlier than you did, though.

    8. L. Thirsty men in their dreams eagerly gulp down the water of the stream, and the more they drink the thirstier they are. In the same way you appear to me to have searched everywhere for arguments against the point I raised, and yet to be as far as ever from being satisfied.

    And to me, you appear to be in the same situation as these men.

    Don’t you know that the laying on of hands after baptism and then the invocation of the Holy Spirit is a custom of the Churches?

    You do know that this is a reference to the Sacrament of Confirmation, right? Note how he calls it a custom or what we, today refer to as SacredTradition of the Church.

    Jerome writes Against the Luciferians:

    Do you demand Scripture proof? You may find it in the Acts of the Apostles.

    I doubt that you would accept that proof today. If you did, you would be Catholic.

    And even if it did not rest on the authority of Scripture the consensus of the whole world in this respect would have the force of a command.

    Now, he refers to the authority of the Tradition which is being practiced by the whole world at that time.

    For many other observances of the Churches, which are due to tradition, have acquired the authority of the written law, as for instance the practice of dipping the head three times in the laver,

    We still do that. Notice that he is not referring to full immersion. The Church has ever practiced pouring, sprinkling and immersion. And it has always been three times. And there is Scripture proof for all three.

    and then, after leaving the water, of tasting mingled milk and honey in representation of infancy; 

    We don’t do that anymore in the West. But it is not forbidden, as far as I know.

    and, again, the practices of standing up in worship on the Lord’s day,

    A reference to Sunday Worship, which before the invention of the “pews” by Protestants, was always standing.

    and ceasing from fasting every Pentecost; 

    You probably understand that to mean that we cease from fasting on the day of Pentecost. But, that is because Protestants celebrate single days, such as Christmas day, Easter Sunday, and perhaps, some, the day of Pentecost.

    But we don’t. We celebrate seasons. The Christmas season is 12 days long. Before that is the season of Advent. After Christmas is the season of Lent, which is forty days and we fast during that time. Then comes Easter and Easter Sunday is the first day of the Easter season which is simultaneously the first day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost is 50 days after Easter. And we cease to fast during those 50 days. We begin to fast again, afterwards.

    and there are many other unwritten practices which have won their place through reason and custom.

    Yes sir. But, you don’t follow those. Because you make up your own mind how you will worship the Lord. Even though Scripture says:

    Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

    So you see we follow the practice of the Church,

    Notice how he keeps repeating this phrase. Why? Because he recognizes the authority which Jesus Christ vested in the Church.

    although it may be clear that a person was baptized before the Spirit was invoked.

    What is he talking about? He is advising rebaptism of heretics. Do you know that the Catholic Church does not, usually, follow his advice on this matter? If you read the entire document, he is advising to rebaptize heretics. But, for the most part, the Church doesn’t follow and has never followed that advice. Yes, even Doctors of the Church have erred in their advice.

    The Church has always recognized that some heretics have a valid baptism. For instance, today, the Church does not recognize the Baptism of the Mormons. But recognizes all others of which I’m aware, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, etc.

    But that wouldn’t bother St. Jerome. In fact, he may well be aware of that fact but is simply not thinking about it at the time that he is writing this document.

    Over 150 years previous, Tertullian wrote on another continent in De Corona in reference to baptism that “we taste first of all a mixture of milk and honey” and that is
    “sufficiently plain that you can vindicate the keeping of even unwritten tradition established by custom; the proper witness for tradition when demonstrated by long-continued observance.”

    Yep.

    Elsewhere, Hippolytus records the practice in his book “The Apostolic Tradition.” Doesn’t that mean it is Apostolic Tradition to have milk and honey with baptism? Or is he lying?

    Nope.

    Clement of Alexandria is an early, Eastern witness to the practice, just as Chromatius is a later western witness.

    Ok.

    Isn’t it clear that all of these men attest to the practice over centuries and that it was precisely the sort of extra-biblical tradition Basil was talking about. So, this begs the question, why do we not do it anymore when it was so clearly practiced as Apostolic Tradition in both the east and the west?

    Because the Church which the Holy Scriptures describe as the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15) and the teacher of the Wisdom of God (Eph 3:10) no longer requires it.

    Yet, the tradition died. Christ states that “[h]eaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33). Clearly milk and honey could not be originally his words.

    Lol! That is because you don’t understand the “spiritual” meaning of the words. Now, let’s go back to the example of the Sabbath. Do we continue to hold that God given Tradition, or no? I say, “Yes!” Because we still hold to the day of the OATH. It is mandatory for Catholics to come to the Sunday Mass on pain of mortal sin.

    Do we still drink milk and honey? Yes. Spiritually. Because we enter the land of milk and honey when we are baptized.

    Of course, all of this begs the question: how do we know that another tradition attested to by such a wide witness is actually legitimate? The truth of the matter is, apart from the Scripture (which is defined as “God breathed” in 2 Tim 3:16), no tradition can be held with the same degree of certainty. You heard straight from the horse’s mouth, milk and honey had “the authority of the written law.” Yet now, it doesn’t.

    All law is subject to the authority of the law maker. In this case, God speaking through His Church. But you don’t believe that. But the Scriptures attest to this truth:

    2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    This is because there is not a single extra-biblical tradition that defines itself as literally breathed out by God. If God Himself did not breath it out, then how do you even know it is actually true with the same degree of certainty? Plain answer: you don’t.

    Now, let’s go through the Scriptures to find more defunct laws. You say you are guided by Scripture alone, right?

    Ok, do you, as a Christian, follow the Kosher laws?

    Acts 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain…. from blood.

    And again, do you, keep the Saturday Sabbath?

    And, do you, require women to cover their heads in church? do you, baptize for the dead? do you consider the commandments mandatory?

    Those requirements are in Scripture. But Protestants no longer hold to them. They don’t have any excuse not to hold them since they claim to hold the authority of Scripture alone. Whereas, we understand that Christ placed His authority in the Church.

On the sheep and the goats

Another response to  Craig Triuglia, this time on the article,

Jesus, Justification, Works, and Faith–The Sheep and the Goats

De Mariasaid:

April 27, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Craig said:

Are good works needed for salvation? Yes, God’s good works.

God established the Sacraments and through the Sacraments washes our souls with the grace of the Holy Spirit.

But how about all of those passages where Jesus seems to demand from us to do good works? Is He contradicting Paul?

No. They are saying the same thing. Let me show you:

Romans 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Are Reformed Theologians misrepresenting Paul 

Yes. Reformed Theologians don’t realize that St. Paul was talking about the justification that occurs in the Sacraments.

and missing out on what Jesus is saying?

Absolutely. Because of their disobedience to the Church which Jesus established, they are being deceived by the lies of the original Reformers.

Let’s take a look at the “pro-works” passages of Jesus.

Ok.

God will one day separate the sheep from the goats.

Passage in question: “Sheep are justified because they have done good works, and the goats are condemned for the lack thereof.”

Ok.

All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another… and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink…’

Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me…’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:32-46).

Questions to ask: Does the passage actually say that the sheep are saved because they did good?

Yes. It says,
“For (i.e. because) you gave me food, drink…”

If the kingdom was “prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” does not God anticipate the salvation of the sheep before they ever did anything good?

Certainly. But that only means that God knows that the sheep will do good and be justified. Not that the sheep will be justified before they do any good.

Context of the passage: Much of the meaning of the passage can be discerned from an important passage earlier in the same chapter. In the parable of the ten virgins, five of the virgins were foolish and did not bring enough oil. As a result, they were late for the wedding. The moral of the tale would have been “you snooze, you lose” if it simply ended there. However, in Matt 25:12 the Lord says to the virgins, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.”

Correct. He does not know them because they did not do the works which He prescribed (keeping the light lit.) The lamps represent Baptism. All 10 virgins were baptized. They were enlightened. But the 5 who were foolish began to sin, that is what it means that they ran out of oil. While the wise virgins continued to keep the Commandments.

Luke 12;
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak…..42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

As we covered in the previous installment of this series concerning the “Lord, Lord” passage, God knew all those who would profess their faith in Christ before they were born.

God knows all. But that doesn’t excuse us from doing the works which He prescribes.

So, of course He never knew those with their false professions. Obviously, those whose apparent moral failings result in a lax attitude towards the coming of the Lord is contingent upon God’s foreknowledge.

God knows. But we don’t. Therefore, it will be good for all men to obey His Son:

Hebrews 5:9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

This is not the only passage of the Scripture which talks about this. Rom 8:29-30 states:

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, 

He predestined mankind to be born in the image of His Son:

Genesis 1:26
And God said, Let us make man in our image,

so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

In order that when Jesus died upon the Cross, He would be the first fruits of our redemption.

1 Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

and these whom He predestined, He also called;

All mankind was predestined. All mankind is called:
1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

and these whom He called, He also justified;

The assumption here is those who obey Him:
Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

And here, the assumption is “suffering”. Because God only glorifies those who suffer with Christ:
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Being conformed to the image of Christ, evident by our works, is the logical result of God’s foreknowledge. The passage does not say (nor does the Catholic Catechism teach) that God foreknows those who, by their own free will decide to be conformed to Christ’s image. God, in His grace, moves the hearts of men to become more like Christ. Hence, any good works that God praises are the result of God working in the man, for “[e]very good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17).

That is Catholic Teaching.

Likewise, we see the same with the sheep and the goats. God by His foreknowledge already prepared the kingdom for the sheep. 

Agreed. But the sheep are the ones who worked:

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Likewise, it would be fair to say, He never knew the goats. So, the choosing of the sheep and the goats is ultimately not contingent upon man’s good and bad choices, but God’s choices pertaining to whom He will be especially gracious to and elect to salvation.

On the contrary, the sheep chose to do God’s will. The goats chose to disobey:

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Conclusion: While many people look at such a passage with fear, much like they look at the “Lord, Lord” passage, there is no need to fear. The Scripture teaches that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). A Christian need not fear whether he has done enough good works, because Christ has done enough for us. 

That contradicts the Word of God:

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

Jesus tells us that “all that He has given Me I lose nothing…for this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 6:39-40). Where is this possibility that our salvation can be lost if we have not done enough good works?

It is those who believe Christ who do good works. Those who do not will not only not do good works, but will do works of evil:

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Christ says He will lose none and that the Father’s will is that everyone who believes in Christ will have eternal life.

This is a very plain, easy to understand guarantee.

Yes. It is. It guarantees that those who have enough faith to do the will of God will be saved. It says nothing about judging yourself saved. Nor about judging your own faith. Nor even about judging your own works:

1 Corinthians 4: 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

As we have seen thus far, the passages of the Scripture where works may play a role in salvation are usually vague and interpreted totally out of context.

They aren’t vague at all. They are explicit. It is those who want to twist Scripture to force into it Protestant doctrine. It is they who make Scripture vague in order to put themselves over the Word of God.

James 2:
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

We are saved by grace,

Because salvation is a gift of God to those men who keep the Commandments.

through faith, 

Because the faithful obey God.

and not by works (Eph 2:8-9),

We can’t save ourselves. But God will not save those who do not do the good works which He established from the beginning.

so the only consistent way to understand what Christ said is that the sheep were saved by grace, through faith, and the goats were not. 

The only consistent way to understand what Christ said is that the sheep were judged faithful because they did the good works which God established from the beginning. And the goats did not.

It, then, should not surprise us that the sheep saved by grace do “good works, which God prepared beforehand,” because Eph 2:10 says this is the very reason why God shows grace to men.

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

You misunderstand that verse. It is a double entendre.

1. Jesus Christ created us from the beginning. No one was conceived in their mother’s womb whom Jesus did not create therein:

John 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

2. God prepared the Ten Commandments that we should walk in them from the beginning.

God created mankind, in, with and through Jesus Christ, in order that we would keep His commandments and be saved.

Note how this conforms to Rom 8:29-30

Response to Craig Truglia said:April 13, 2015 at 12:52 am
But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.

You ought to read the whole chapter. Its talking about suffering for and with Christ in order to be saved.

2 Cor 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

That is the Doctrine of the redemptive nature of suffering. It is a Catholic Doctrine. It is in Scripture. And Protestants reject it.

Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

“I saw no sense is duplicating his work.”
I don’t think you have an exegesis to actually put forward,

You don’t know me very well, do you?

I don’t see where any of the points made in the article have been answered. 

I think the Restless Pilgrim was doing an excellent job of addressing all your points. Which one do you think he missed?

If you can show me I would be grateful, but I am honestly not seeing it.
“That is exactly the opposite of that which James 2:24 says…”
Again, that is why it is so important that if someone wishes to reply to the article, instead of just my replies to the article, that there be some attempt to rebut the specific exegesis of the article. 

Your word is my command.

You said:

Catholic apologists (as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons, and other works-salvation groups) will use James 2 as evidence that we are saved by works, and not by faith alone.

The Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox agree on this teaching. Salvation is by faith and works.

Now, being saved and not by faith alone should not be scandalous. After all, that is what James 2:24 says word-for-word.

Good. Then you agree with works salvation.

However, how do we square this with Rom 4:4, 5 which states, “Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness?”

Easily. Remember that St. Paul was not talking to Luther or Calvin. He was talking to former Jews and former gentiles at a time in Christian history when there were as yet, no cradle Christians.

Let’s break this down:

“Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due.

This is a reference to the Old Testament Jew. Remember that God made a pact with them through Moses:

Exodus 19:4-6King James Version (KJV)

4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

And they said to Moses:
8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.

Therefore, the Jews expected their salvation as their wage.
But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness?

This is a reference to the Christian who is justified in Baptism. We, Catholics, are children of Abraham. We believe God and His promises. We request Baptism. God sees our faith and reckons us righteous. He then gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Are we justified by works, 

Yes.

yet made righteous by faith without works as Rom 4:5 says, at the same time? No. This would be a contradiction.

Its a contradiction to you. But not in Catholic Teaching.

We are justified by faith apart from works in Baptism.

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

We are justified by faith and works at the Bema Seat of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Now, there is a lot of Scripture that mitigates any understanding that man can contribute anything whatsoever to his own justification. Chief among them is John 14:6: “”I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus did not say “mostly Me and a little bit of you.” Christ’s work, and His work alone, on the cross, makes a man righteous, not his own attempts at righteousness.

As long as we’re arguing what Jesus didn’t say, Jesus also didn’t say: “I will carry them to the Father without any effort on their part.”

But John 14 also says:
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Notice the emphasis on works.

So, how do we deal with James 2? We will exegete the text while responding to a Catholic defense of Faith+Works salvation from the Shameless Popery blog.

The rest of James 2 has some pretty clear justification before God statements that don’t make sense if he just means justifying yourself to men.

Agreed.

And, as we shall see, a correct understanding of James 2 does not compel us to believe that works add to Christ’s work on the cross.

Interesting. We don’t believe that our works add to Christ’s work on the Cross. We believe that Jesus Christ came to give us an example to follow in order that we would walk in His steps. Therefore, our works are in obedience to Christ’s will:

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Jesus called us to good works and to imitate Him:

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Before responding point by point, the following is a synopsis of the “tough parts” of James 2:

Christian orthodoxy teaches that we are justified by faith alone,

False. Catholicism teaches Christian orthodoxy. Faith alone is a heresy which is taught by Protestants.

but we are judged by works. Judgement by works is explicit in the Scripture:

Correct. Justification is the forensic result of Judgment. There are two forensic results possible at the Judgment, justification and condemnation.

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds (Rev 20:12-13).

Indeed, we are judged by works. Let’s read James 2. In verse 22, were his works ever divorced from his faith?

James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

No, and that is exactly James’ point. Abraham believed God. And then he lived according to his beliefs.

That is Catholic Teaching.

The belief occurred first. It is common sense. People don’t act a certain way, and then as a result believe because of their actions. Instead, people have a belief, and their actions are informed by their beliefs. Beliefs precede actions.

Very good. You are teaching in conformity with Catholic Doctrine.

Here’s a simple example: Let’s say we really like chocolate. So, when we see it we reach for it and then eat it. The desire for the chocolate preceded the eating of it.

Not so. The desire for chocolate does not precede one’s experience of its good taste. Unless we first taste, we won’t know that we like it.

But that is the same with faith in God. Until we perceive that God is good we will not have faith in Him. And until we have faith in Him, we won’t obey His commands.

Likewise, the faith of Abraham in God preceded doing the good works out of faith (by as much as 20 years in the case of Isaac). 

Uh-uh. You are contradicting Scripture. Abraham exhibited works of faith in God from the very first time that God spoke to him:

Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

James makes this point to show that we are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.

On the contrary, as you confirmed earlier, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?”

Without works, Abraham’s faith would not have been a saving faith.

That is why he says in verse 18, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

And also why he says:
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

The fact that James speaks of works as something that shows faith instead of something that is needed in addition to faith speaks volumes. James is never saying we need something in addition to faith. He is saying that his faith is something you can actually see (i.e. it is not imaginary.)

He says that you can see his faith in his works. And he denies that you can claim to have faith by your words at the very same time. Something that Protestants boast about everytime they claim they are saved by their faith alone.

Does this interpretation hold up?

Your interpretation has a lot of holes in it.

We have James 2:21-23 where Abrhamam’s believing in Gen 15 is conflated with his near-sacrifice of Isaac, two events 20 years apart. Clearly, James’ point is NOT that Abraham was made righteous by faith 20 years previously and then lost it and regained/maintained it by doing the good work of listening to God’s request for sacrifice.

Protestantism conflates the two. The reason being that Protestantism equates faith and justification. Another reason being that Protestants believe in a one time justification.

However, if having faith alone justifies anyone, then Abraham would be justified in Gen 12. Listen to St. Paul:

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

When did that happen?

That happened in Gen 12.

Genesis 12 King James Version (KJV)

1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4 So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

Furthermore, Protestants are confused by Moses’ narrative comment. Yes, Moses. It is Moses who wrote Gen 15:6 and James reveals that it was a narrative comment pertaining which was fulfilled in Gen 22.

23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Don’t get it? In other words, when Moses said, “and Abraham believed God and it was imputed him as righteousness”, he meant that Abraham would live by faith, obeying God until God would justify him in Gen 22.

Finally, all of this agrees with Catholic Doctrine that justification is a process and not a one time event. Abraham’s justification, as you noted, took over 20 years.

2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

James is merely reiterating what he said in verse 18: I’ll show you my faith by what I do. Isn’t it clear to all, even 20 years later, that when Abraham believed God that He really meant it? Of course! He was willing to offer up Isaac specifically because “when put to the test [Abraham] offered up Isaac” after he had “considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead” (Heb 11:17, 19). Did you catch that? Abraham did the good work, because he believed God’s promise that his descendants would be through Isaac (Heb 11:18), and he believed this so much that he figured even if he were to kill Isaac, God would have certainly raised Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His promise! Have you even seen such faith? I know I have not!

Nor have I. And this proves faith PLUS works. Because unless he had faith, he would not have done the works which God required.

Now let’s look at verse 25: “..was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?”

What do we know about Rahab? When she received the spies, she told them that she heard of the mighty works of Jehovah, how he humbled Egypt and the kings east of the Jordan, and she knew that no one can deliver her or her family from Israel’s hand because God was with Israel (Josh 2:8-11). She then asks that the Israelite spies “swear to me by Jehovah” that they will spare her family when they come to take the city of Jericho (Josh 2:12).

Clearly, her beliefs were behind her actions. She didn’t merely say she believed something, and did nothing about it like so many false Christians. She feared the Lord and lived in accordance with that Godly fear. See Heb 11:31: “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” Notice that? She received the messengers “by faith.” Her works, therefore, are synonymous with her faith and not some additional criteria she had to bring to bear for her own salvation with God.

That proves faith and works. Ask yourself, what if she had not done any works but simply said, “I believe in your God, but your on your own.” What then?

With this in mind, let’s respond to Shameless Popery’s rebuttal to one reformed thinker’s take on James 2.

[A] claimed faith, without works, doesn’t exist. That is, that it’s not faith. James clearly disagrees, calling it “that faith.” This is reinforced by James 2:20 and 2:26.

You need to put quotation marks on the things you ascribe to Shameless Popery. Are you saying that the statement labeled [A] above, is from Shameless Popery?

If that is true, then you missed what else James calls it. He calls it a “dead faith”.

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

So what’s the point. A faith without works can’t save and is therefore dead. Why call it faith at all?

It has been ascribed to Luther the quote, “‘We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” So, whether or not he really said it is besides the point. The idea is repeated by Reformed Theologians such as R.C Sproul, and it is a pretty good explanation as to what James is really talking about in James 2:24.

On the contrary, it is gibberish.

To say that you are saved by faith alone but the faith by which you are saved is not alone is a self contradiction. Both statements can’t be true at the same time.

I do not believe James’ calling it “that faith” means he is equating it with saving faith,

Nor does any Catholic. So, with whom are you debating?

a faith that actually exists in the mind of someone and affects every facet of that person’s life. Obviously, Abraham and Rahab were two good examples of this.

Obviously. But that proves faith and works.

While the Reformed claim that a saving faith results in works, the Catholic (and Biblical) view is more nuanced: we view faith and works as interconnected…[This is] why James says that Abraham’s “faith was active along with his works” – because the works he was doing were works of love done out of faith.

Correct.

So far, such a differentiation would literally be nominal. So, the problem is not terminology (nor’s James’ terminology) but our application of what he taught. How does Shameless Popery interpret what it means to do works of love out of faith?

So rather than a simple causality, like in science, this is more relational: we must believe in God to obey Him, but obeying Him proves to us that He’s trustworthy, and we begin to trust Him more; this, in turn emboldens us to obey Him about things which might have seemed unrealistic before.

Is it just me, or does this read like nonsense? 

Its just you.

How does obeying God prove that God is trustworthy?

Because God rewards obedience.

Doesn’t it prove that our faith is trustworthy?

God judges our faith by our works.

What does God’s trustworthiness have to do with our works? 

If you don’t trust God, you won’t obey Him.

This is simply not a sensible application, it does not make sense.

To you.

The notion that James is becoming image-obsessed, and wants to make sure everybody looks good publicly by playing good Christians just isn’t supported either by the text or basic New Testament doctrine. Thus, it is quite evident how James 2:24 is understood by Protestants.

Does Shameless Popery really believe this? Has my pretty run-of-the-mill defense of Sola Fide resorted to such argumentation? Perhaps “Shameless” is the name of the website for a reason.

You aren’t the only Protestant, are you? There are many Protestants who claim that St. James teaches that works are for justification before men and not God.

Here’s an example.

“Paul is speaking about justification before God, while James is talking about justification before humans.”

That is a direct quote from that link. It is a very common Protestant argument against faith and works.

Calvinists claim that justification refers only to the initial act of being justified (forensic justification), and that everything after that is sanctification and not justification…Yet both James (as seen here) and Paul (as seen in 1 Corinthians 6:11, e.g.) seem to think of them as co-occurring….the Calvinist notion that justification is merely forensic, and precedes sanctification, lacks obvious Biblical support.

While 1 Cor 6:11 may be grounds for Calvinists to perhaps change the terminology of what we call the “sanctification process,” it hardly proves his point. Justification is not an ongoing process. Paul uses the past tense to refer to it. In fact, Rom 4:9-10 makes it abundantly clear:

We say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.

Unless you claim that Scripture contradicts itself, you need to handle two things.

1. Paul says that Abraham exhibited faith in Gen 12.
2. St. James says that the statement “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness” was fulfilled in Gen 22.

Did you catch that? Before Abraham was circumcised and before he was obedient to God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, he was justified. How much more clear can Paul be? The only consistent way to read the Scriptures on this point is that Abraham was already justified before the Isaac episode and therefore, we are compelled to interpret James 2:24 as consistent with this fact. James is making a point about how nominal faith is not faith at all, not how works are needed on top of nominal faith because both have salvific qualities.

On the contrary, James is saying that without works, Abraham’s faith was not a saving faith.

Shameless Popery claims any distinctions made about justification is “making a mountain out of a mole hill.” However, simply put, the question is whether good works are the basis of our salvation.

On the contrary, all Catholics admit that faith is necessary for salvation. But, we also admit that works are necessary for one to exhibit faith in God. Therefore, both elements are necessary for salvation and God reveals that He will judge our faith based upon our works. As you have admitted above.

The answer is yes, good works ARE the basis of our salvation: Christ’s good works, specifically His sacrifice and resurrection! Our good works cannot possibly add anything in the least to our justification in light of what Christ has done for us.

On the contrary, our good works are absolutely necessary for our salvation. Without them, God will not save us. See Matt 25:31-46.

God demands perfection from His people (Deut 18:13). If your good works are in anyway imperfect, they are no good, and they are filthy rags to Him (Is 64:6).

On the contrary. Look at the context of Isaiah’s verse. It is the works of unbelievers which are filthy rags to God. But God looks at our works and takes them into account. Listen to St. Paul:

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Hence, if I am saved upon belief in Christ, then God gets all the glory and no longer do I work for my own salvation. If I need to maintain a saved state, as Catholicism teaches, then Christ’s works was only good enough to get me in the game and I have to now exert myself to win it.

Let’s see what Scripture says:

2 Corinthians 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Yep. Scripture says that He died for us in order that we might turn and live for Him.

Let’s see another verse:

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Yep. He died for us in order that we would also die for our brethren.

This is no molehill. The very Gospel is at stake in this issue. So yes, true faith will result in good works. And works, the proof of real faith save and not faith in name only alone. But, in the grand scheme of things faith alone justifies, faith alone results in good works, and faith alone saves, to Christ’s glory. Amen.

Faith which results in good works is not faith alone:
James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Faith which saves is not alone. Because faith alone, is dead.
James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Works make faith perfect.

James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

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