Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Exchange with Anti-Catholic Calvinist Austin Reed on the Definition of "Christian" and Whether Luther and Calvin Regarded Catholicism as a Christian System

 Anti-Catholic efforts to "prove" that Catholicism isn't Christan . . .


Austin's words [see his Facebook page] will be in blue. We had an exchange on 1 May 2013 on Facebook about the definition of Christian (which is included as the first part below). The latest dialogue began in June 2013 on one Facebook thread, spread to another, and then to this website paper.

See the Facebook Introduction to this paper and further discussion.

* * * * *

Do you believe that the Catholic Church is a legitimate form of Christianity, Austin? Can a Catholic be saved if he or she believes all that the Catholic Church teaches? Or do they have to be a lousy Catholic to be a (good) Christian?

I'm not sure how to answer that question Dave. I believe there are many Catholic Christians, but I don't believe that being a Catholic automatically makes a person a Christian (and the same goes for Protestants). The second half of your question seems to be loaded, but I'll answer anyway, a true Christian must place the entirety of their faith in the sufficiency of Christ's work on the cross for them. They must experience a total transformation so dramatic it can only be described as a "new birth". Notice, nowhere did I include a "sinner's prayer" or any sort of altar call nonsense. Becoming a new creation in Christ is a matter of placing your faith in the sufficiency of Christ's work on your behalf.

Can a Catholic do that and at the same time believe all that the Catholic Church teaches? Is Catholic theology a species of Christian theology?

Of course they could, and many do, but they are inconsistent with the official teaching of the Catholic Church concerning justification.

So that is your answer: you have to be a lousy Catholic in order to be a (good) Christian. 

Yeah because its a loaded question.

That is classic anti-Catholicism. It's a perfectly sensible question; not "loaded." It seeks a straightforward answer. You gave the textbook answer, which doesn't surprise me in the least.

Dave, proving that I'm "anti-Catholic" (a designation I find incredibly immature and offensive) proves nothing. It does nothing to discredit the truth claims I've made thus far.

Didn't say it did. But it has to do with how willing I am to spend time discussing stuff. "Anti-Catholic" is a perfectly legitimate term, used for many decades by historians, sociologists, and other scholars, as I have documented. [links to those papers provided below]

I will definitely check out all of the blog posts. To be clear, I reject the designation "anti-Catholic" because I have a great deal of affection for my Catholic family and friends. The term "anti-Catholic" seems to suggest some sort of malicious intent on my part for bringing up these distinctions when in reality I simply want to defend or clarify the Protestant position. The term itself really makes honest dialogue impossible.

My use has nothing to do with that at all. Zero, zip, nada. It's strictly a theological meaning (denial that Catholic theology or Catholicism is a fully Christian system, in the way that you think fellow Protestants are Christians, even though you disagree with them on various points). But of course, to believe that, you clearly must misunderstand elements of our belief-system.

It's not the term that makes dialogue impossible, but the point of view designated by the term. At least that's been my experience, and I tried dialoguing about theology for 17 years with anti-Catholics, before giving up in 2007 (many scores of those past debates remain online). I gave up when I was refused by seven different Protestant anti-Catholics, to engage in a chat debate about the definition of "Christian." That was the last straw. If the basics couldn't be honestly discussed, then nothing really could be. Dialogue is literally impossible when even the most basic of premises can't be agreed-upon at the outset. There's no common ground.

You seem like you're right on the edge of accepting us as fellow Christians, though: an R. C. Sproul type, who should know better.
If you read Trent on justification closely and carefully, I think it's possible you could be persuaded that we're in the fold. Here's a quick summary that may be helpful (see further related papers: one / two / three / four).


* * *

I am not anti-Catholic and I am personally offended by the term, in the same way I am offended by the term "homophobe". I love Catholic people and have several near and dear Catholic friends.

We've been through this before, Austin. "Anti-Catholicism" as I use it, in accordance with scholarly usage, means "one who denies that Catholicism is a Christian system of theology." It has nothing to do with behavior per se (in its basic definition). [see past papers on the topic: one / two / three / four]
 


There is also some usage, granted, of behavior, as in this instance [in an article I cross-posted], which was clearly anti-Catholic not only doctrinally, but physically, in terms of persecution. Thus, events of this sort will be described as "anti-Catholic" in the sense that, e.g., a violent Catholic attack on Protestants in Belfast might be described as "anti-Protestant." Words can have different and multiple meanings as well.

But in my own frequent usage it refers (almost always) to doctrine only. Thus, an anti-Catholic could love Catholics around him to death and have nothing but benevolent and warm fuzzy feelings, wanting to see them saved, etc. He remains anti-Catholic if he believes that in order to be a good Christian and be saved, one has to be a "bad" Catholic (i.e., denounce various Catholic tenets that are abominated by the anti-Catholic and regarded as subversive of true Christianity).

I've reiterated all this 97,603 times through the years, and no doubt I will continue to be misunderstood (to my endless frustration), but it's all perfectly consistent and linguistically / logically sound.


My point is, the use of the term "anti-Protestant" suggests an appeal to pity. Every consistent Protestant will fall under the designation "anti-Catholic" using your criteria . . . 

That's sheer nonsense. The vast majority of Protestants regard Catholics as fellow Christians, and do so with perfect consistency, just as we do the other way around. For a Protestant to say that we are not Christians makes mincemeat of any reasonable, sensible, solid definition of "Christian". 

We are Protestants because we're protesting the doctrine of Justification as set forth in the Council of Trent. Anyone who adheres to that understanding of Justification is unequivocally NOT a Christian.

Hogwash. Define "Christian" and explain where your definition comes from and why all Christians are bound to it.
 

Dave, your assumptions are massive and totally unwarranted. You know as well as I do that the alleged historicity of Roman Catholicism has been critiqued over and over again, and I am yet to see any serious responses (and yes I've read your Sola Scriptura book). I would love to see a Roman Catholic make a historical case that Protestantism has historically allowed for consistent Roman Catholics to be Christians.

That's easy. Luther acknowledged that the Catholic Church was Christian in the basic sense of the word, and the debt of Lutheranism to it. I have several of his comments to that effect. His main beef was with the papacy. He regarded Catholics on a much higher plane than he did Zwinglians, whom he regarded as definitely damned. Even Calvin accepts Catholic baptism. That makes us Christians. [see documentation below]

You're a good and sharp guy. With more education, I believe you'll come around and see the foolishness and utter untenability of the anti-Catholic position. Sometimes these things take time.

*** 

That's all I've said: regard us as fellow Christians and I'll never classify you as an anti-Catholic. It ain't rocket science. Disagree on all the usual stuff, but don't take the intellectually suicidal route of denying that the entity that you came from (and must have come from, historically speaking) is Christian.
 

. . . which would really make the term completely useless. Its clearly a term loaded with emotional baggage that is totally superfluous and unhelpful. I would be happy to dialogue with any Catholic who wants to interact with Protestant truth claims regarding any doctrine, but I have a very difficult time someone serious who regards those who disagree with him as "anti-Catholic". 

Refute the scholars in my papers about the term if you disagree . . . I've told you how I use it.

I'm happy to dialogue with any Protestant who regards me as a fellow Christian (as I am). Otherwise, I'd much rather dialogue with an atheist, because th
at is a more consistent position than that of the small anti-Catholic wing of Protestantism, that takes the ridiculous and indefensible position of Protestantism being Christian while the Catholicism from which it derived somehow is not. It's impossible to defend such a position historically, biblically, or logically.

This is why seven anti-Catholics turned down a debate on that: at which time I gave up on debating theology with anti-Catholics altogether (in 2007). [and I have to make an exception to my usual rule to engage in this present one] [see papers about these anti-Catholic "live chat" debate refusals: one / two / three / four / five ]

Are you referring to the challenge you issued in the Alpha and Omega chat channel?

No. Jimbo White was only one of seven who declined.
 

I'm pretty sure they've responded to your claims any number of times.

I'm sure "they" think they have. There needs to be a serious debate about the definition of "Christian" before anything else can be intelligently talked about. But it won't happen anytime soon. I brushed the dust off of my feet in 2007, and if anti-Catholics ever get up the guts and gumption to have that discussion, it won't be with me. They had their chance to do that and blew it.  

Martin Luther

1528


In the first place I hear and see that such rebaptism is undertaken by some in order to spite the pope and to be free of any taint of the Antichrist. In the same way the foes of the sacrament want to believe only in bread and wine, in opposition to the pope, thinking thereby really to overthrow the papacy. It is indeed a shaky foundation on which they can build nothing good. On that basis we would have to disown the whole of Scripture and the office of the ministry, which of course we have received from the papacy. We would also have to make a new Bible. . . .

We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source. For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the creed . . . I speak of what the pope and we have in common . . . I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints. 
 . . . The Christendom that now is under the papacy is truly the body of Christ and a member of it. If it is his body, then it has the true spirit, gospel, faith, baptism, sacrament, keys, the office of the ministry, prayer, holy Scripture, and everything that pertains to Christendom. So we are all still under the papacy and therefrom have received our Christian treasures. 
. . . We do not rave as do the rebellious spirits, so as to reject everything that is found in the papal church. For then we would cast out even Christendom from the temple of God, and all that it contained of Christ.

[251] . . . We recall that St. John was not averse to hearing the Word of God from Caiaphas and pays attention to his prophecy [John 11:49 f.] . . . Christ bids us hear the godless Pharisees in the seat of Moses, though they are godless teachers . . . Let God judge their evil lies. We can still listen to their godly words . . .

Still we must admit that the enthusiasts have the Scriptures and the Word of God in other doctrines. Whoever hears it from them and believes will be saved, even though they are unholy heretics and blasphemers of Christ.

. . . [256] if the first, or child, baptism were not right, it would follow that for more than a thousand years there was no baptism or any Christendom, which is impossible. For in that case the article of the creed, I believe in one holy Christian church, would be false . . . [257] If this baptism is wrong then for that long period Christendom would have been without baptism, and if it were without baptism it would not be Christendom.

(Concerning Rebaptism: A Letter to Two Pastors, 1528, Luther's Works, Vol. 40, 225-262; translated by Conrad Bergendoff, pp. 231-232, 251, 256-257)
1532 
This testimony of the universal holy Christian Church, even if we had nothing else, would be a sufficient warrant for holding this article [on the sacrament] and refusing to suffer or listen to a sectary, for it is dangerous and fearful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, belief, and teaching of the universal holy Christian churches, unanimously held in all the world from the beginning until now over fifteen hundred years.

(Letter to Albrecht, Margrave of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia, 1532; from Roland H. Bainton, Studies on the Reformation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1963, p. 26; WA, Vol. XXX, 552)
  

This letter, apparently passed over by Luther’s Works, Vol. 50 (Letters III), was, thankfully, cited at some length by the celebrated Protestant historian Philip Schaff, and refers to, as Schaff notes, “the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper”:

Moreover, this article has been unanimously believed and held from the beginning of the Christian Church to the present hour, as may be shown from the books and writings of the dear fathers, both in the Greek and Latin languages, -- which testimony of the entire holy Christian Church ought to be sufficient for us, even if we had nothing more. For it is dangerous and dreadful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, faith, and doctrine of the entire holy Christian Church, as it has been held unanimously in all the world up to this year 1500. Whoever now doubts of this, he does just as much as if he believed in no Christian Church, and condemns not only the entire holy Christian Church as a damnable heresy, but Christ Himself, and all the Apostles and Prophets, who founded this article, when we say, “I believe in a holy Christian Church,” to which Christ bears powerful testimony in Matt. 28.20: “Lo, I am with you alway, to the end of the world,” and Paul, in 1 Tim. 3.15: “The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth.”

(The Life and Labours of St. Augustine, Oxford University: 1854, 95. Italics are Schaff’s own; cf. abridged [?] version in Preserved Smith, The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1911, pp. 290-292; cf. Johann Adam Mohler, Symbolism, 1844, 400)


Schaff, writing in The Reformed Quarterly Review (July, 1888, p. 295), cites the passage yet again, and translates one portion a little differently (my italics):

The testimony of the entire holy Christian Church (even without any other proof) should be sufficient for us to abide by this article and to listen to no sectaries against it.
 
1538 


The papacy has God’s word and the office of the apostles, and we have received the Holy Scriptures, baptism, the sacrament, and the office of preaching from them . . . we ourselves find it difficult to refute it . . . Then there come rushing into my heart thoughts like these: Now I see that I am in error. Oh, if only I had never started this and had never preached a word! For who dares oppose the church, of which we confess in the creed: I believe in a holy Christian church . . .

(Sermons on John 14-16, 1538 [on Jn 16:1-2], Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, translated by Robert C. Schultz, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966, 336; WA, Vol. 46, 5 ff. [edited by Cruciger]; cf. LW, Vol. XXIV, 304)

Thus we are also compelled to say: “I believe and am sure that the Christian Church has remained even in the papacy” . . . some of the papists are true Christians, even though they, too, have been led astray, as Christ foretold in Matt. 24:24. But by the grace of God and with His help they have been preserved in a wonderful manner.

(Sermons on John 14-16, 1538 [on Jn 16:1-2], LW, Vol. XXIV, 305)

[I]t is necessary to consider their beliefs and teachings. If I see that they preach and confess Christ as the One sent by God the Father to reconcile us to the Father through His death and to obtain grace for us, then we are in agreement, and I regard them as my dear brethren in Christ and as members of the Christian Church.

Yet the proclamation of this text – together with Baptism, the Sacrament of Christ, and the articles of the Creed – has remained even in the papacy, although many errors and devious paths have been introduced alongside it. . . . All errors notwithstanding, the true church has never perished.

(Ibid., 309)

[for more on Luther's positive statements about the Catholic Church headed by the pope in Rome, see these articles: one / two / three]
 
John Calvin

Institutes of the Christian Religion


Roman Primacy in Some Sense in the Early Church


I deny not that the early Christians uniformly give high honour to the Roman Church, and speak of it with reverence. . . . pious and holy bishops, when driven from their sees, often betook themselves to Rome as an asylum or haven. . . . It therefore added very great authority to the Roman Church, that in those dubious times it was not so much unsettled as others, and adhered more firmly to the doctrine once delivered, as shall immediately be better explained. . . . she was held in no ordinary estimation, and received many distinguished testimonies from ancient writers. (IV, 6:16)


Semblance of Remaining Christianity in Catholicism


Still, as in ancient times, there remained among the Jews certain special privileges of a Church, so in the present day we deny not to the Papists those vestiges of a Church which the Lord has allowed to remain among them amid the dissipation. When the Lord had once made his covenant with the Jews, it was preserved not so much by them as by its own strength, supported by which it withstood their impiety. Such, then, is the certainty and constancy of the divine goodness, that the covenant of the Lord continued there and his faith could not be obliterated by their perfidy; nor could circumcision be so profaned by their impure hands as not still to he a true sign and sacrament of his covenant. Hence the children who were born to them the Lord called his own (Ezek. 16:20), though, unless by special blessing, they in no respect belonged to him. So having deposited his covenant in Gaul, Italy, Germany, Spain, and England, when these countries were oppressed by the tyranny of Antichrist, He, in order that his covenant might remain inviolable, first preserved baptism there as an evidence of the covenant;—baptism, which, consecrated by his lips, retains its power in spite of human depravity; secondly, He provided by his providence that there should be other remains also to prevent the Church from utterly perishing. But as in pulling down buildings the foundations and ruins are often permitted to remain, so he did not suffer Antichrist either to subvert his Church from its foundation, or to level it with the ground (though, to punish the ingratitude of men who had despised his word, he allowed a fearful shaking and dismembering to take place), but was pleased that amid the devastation the edifice should remain, though half in ruins.  (IV, 2:11)
Therefore, while we are unwilling simply to concede the name of Church to the Papists, we do not deny that there are churches among them. The question we raise only relates to the true and legitimate constitution of the Church, implying communion in sacred rites, which are the signs of profession, and especially in doctrine. Daniel and Paul foretold that Antichrist would sit in the temple of God (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:4); we regard the Roman Pontiff as the leader and standard-bearer of that wicked and abominable kingdom. By placing his seat in the temple of God, it is intimated that his kingdom would not be such as to destroy the name either of Christ or of his Church. Hence, then, it is obvious that we do not at all deny that churches remain under his tyranny; churches, however, which by sacrilegious impiety he has profaned, by cruel domination has oppressed, by evil and deadly doctrines like poisoned potions has corrupted and almost slain; churches where Christ lies half-buried, the gospel is suppressed, piety is put to flight, and the worship of God almost abolished; where, in short, all things are in such disorder as to present the appearance of Babylon rather than the holy city of God. In one word, I call them churches, inasmuch as the Lord there wondrously preserves some remains of his people, though miserably torn and scattered, and inasmuch as some symbols of the Church still remain—symbols especially whose efficacy neither the craft of the devil nor human depravity can destroy. But as, on the other hand, those marks to which we ought especially to have respect in this discussion are effaced, I say that the whole body, as well as every single assembly, want the form of a legitimate Church.  (IV, 2:12)


Baptism Initiates Us Into the Body of Christ; Makes Us Christians
[all emphases added]
Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God. Moreover, the end for which God has given it (this I have shown to be common to all mysteries) is, first, that it may be conducive to our faith in him; and, secondly, that it may serve the purpose of a confession among men. The nature of both institutions we shall explain in order. Baptism contributes to our faith three things, which require to be treated separately. The first object, therefore, for which it is appointed by the Lord, is to be a sign and evidence of our purification, or (better to explain my meaning) it is a kind of sealed instrument by which he assures us that all our sins are so deleted, covered, and effaced, that they will never come into his sight, never be mentioned, never imputed. For it is his will that all who have believed, be baptised for the remission of sins. Hence those who have thought that baptism is nothing else than the badge and mark by which we profess our religion before men, in the same way as soldiers attest their profession by bearing the insignia of their commander, having not attended to what was the principal thing in baptism; and this is, that we are to receive it in connection with the promise, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).  (IV, 15:1)
In this sense is to be understood the statement of Paul, that “Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25, 26); and again, “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” (Titus 3:5). Peter also says that “baptism also doth now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). For he did not mean to intimate that our ablution and salvation are perfected by water, or that water possesses in itself the virtue of purifying, regenerating, and renewing; nor does he mean that it is the cause of salvation, but only that the knowledge and certainty of such gifts are perceived in this sacrament. This the words themselves evidently show. For Paul connects together the word of life and baptism of water, as if he had said, by the gospel the message of our ablution and sanctification is announced; by baptism this message is sealed. And Peter immediately subjoins, that that baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, which is of faith.” Nay, the only purification which baptism promises is by means of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, who is figured by water from the resemblance to cleansing and washing. (IV, 15:2)
We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism, and thus fortify our minds, so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins. (IV, 15:3)
. . .  we are washed from our sins by the blood of Christ. And what is the sign and evidence of that washing if it be not baptism? We see, then, that that forgiveness has reference to baptism. . . . there can be no doubt that all the godly may, during the whole course of their lives, whenever they are vexed by a consciousness of their sins, recall the remembrance of their baptism, that they may thereby assure themselves of that sole and perpetual ablution which we have in the blood of Christ. (IV, 15:4)
Another benefit of baptism is, that it shows us our mortification in Christ and new life in him. “Know ye not,” says the apostle, “that as many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ, were baptised into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death,” that we “should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3, 4). . . . as the twig derives substance and nourishment from the root to which it is attached, so those who receive baptism with true faith truly feel the efficacy of Christ’s death in the mortification of their flesh, and the efficacy of his resurrection in the quickening of the Spirit. On this he founds his exhortation, that if we are Christians we should be dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness. . . . in the passage which we formerly quoted, he calls it “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5). We are promised, first, the free pardon of sins and imputation of righteousness; and, secondly, the grace of the Holy Spirit, to form us again to newness of life. (IV, 15:5)

The last advantage which our faith receives from baptism is its assuring us not only that we are ingrafted into the death and life of Christ, but so united to Christ himself as to be partakers of all his blessings. . . .  Paul proves us to be the sons of God, from the fact that we put on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27). (IV, 15:6)
Baptism serves as our confession before men, inasmuch as it is a mark by which we openly declare that we wish to be ranked among the people of God, by which we testify that we concur with all Christians in the worship of one God, and in one religion; by which, in short, we publicly assert our faith, . . .  (IV, 15:13)
In so far as it is a sign of our confession, we ought thereby to testify that we confide in the mercy of God, and are pure, through the forgiveness of sins which Christ Jesus has procured for us; that we have entered into the Church of God, that with one consent of faith and love we may live in concord with all believers. This last was Paul’s meaning, when he said that “by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).  (IV, 15:15)

[C]hildren derive some benefit from their baptism, when, being ingrafted into the body of the Church, . . . (IV, 16:9)

God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption, . . . (IV, 17:1)

Baptism being a kind of entrance into the Church, an initiation into the faith, . . . Wherefore, as there is but one God, one faith, one Christ, one Church, which is his body, so Baptism is one, and is not repeated. (IV, 18:19)


Catholic Baptism is Valid


Moreover, if we have rightly determined that a sacrament is not to be estimated by the hand of him by whom it is administered, but is to be received as from the hand of God himself, from whom it undoubtedly proceeded, we may hence infer that its dignity neither gains nor loses by the administrator. And, just as among men, when a letter has been sent, if the hand and seal is recognised, it is not of the least consequence who or what the messenger was; so it ought to be sufficient for us to recognise the hand and seal of our Lord in his sacraments, let the administrator be who he may. This confutes the error of the Donatists, who measured the efficacy and worth of the sacrament by the dignity of the minister. Such in the present day are our Catabaptists, who deny that we are duly baptised, because we were baptised in the Papacy by wicked men and idolaters; hence they furiously insist on anabaptism. Against these absurdities we shall be sufficiently fortified if we reflect that by baptism we were initiated not into the name of any man, but into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and, therefore, that baptism is not of man, but of God, by whomsoever it may have been administered. Be it that those who baptised us were most ignorant of God and all piety, or were despisers, still they did not baptise us into a fellowship with their ignorance or sacrilege, but into the faith of Jesus Christ, because the name which they invoked was not their own but God’s, nor did they baptise into any other name. But if baptism was of God, it certainly included in it the promise of forgiveness of sin, mortification of the flesh, quickening of the Spirit, and communion with Christ. Thus it did not harm the Jews that they were circumcised by impure and apostate priests. It did not nullify the symbol so as to make it necessary to repeat it. It was enough to return to its genuine origin. The objection that baptism ought to be celebrated in the assembly of the godly, does not prove that it loses its whole efficacy because it is partly defective. When we show what ought to be done to keep baptism pure and free from every taint, we do not abolish the institution of God though idolaters may corrupt it. Circumcision was anciently vitiated by many superstitions, and yet ceased not to be regarded as a symbol of grace; nor did Josiah and Hezekiah, when they assembled out of all Israel those who had revolted from God, call them to be circumcised anew. (IV, 15:16)

[see also, Calvinist Francis Nigel Lee's paper, "Calvin on the Validity of 'Romish' Baptism"; see a list of his voluminous writings and his obituary. He was quite a scholar. May he rest in peace; he was afflicted with the horrible Lou Gehrig's disease. He treated me very kindly on one occasion (c. 1999) where I was scorned, mocked, and pharisaically consigned to hell on one ridiculous Reformed discussion forum n the Internet. He was literally the only one there who acted like a Christian should, and also, I might add, with intellectual consistency on this issue. Lee (like Calvin) was himself baptized as a Catholic and never rebaptized]

                                      The Difficulty of  Determining Who is Among the Elect

The judgment which ought to be formed concerning the visible Church which comes under our observation, must, I think, be sufficiently clear from what has been said. I have observed that the Scriptures speak of the Church in two ways. Sometimes when they speak of the Church they mean the Church as it really is before God—the Church into which none are admitted but those who by the gift of adoption are sons of God, and by the sanctification of the Spirit true members of Christ. In this case it not only comprehends the saints who dwell on the earth, but all the elect who have existed from the beginning of the world. Often, too, by the name of Church is designated the whole body of mankind scattered throughout the world, who profess to worship one God and Christ, who by baptism are initiated into the faith; by partaking of the Lord’s Supper profess unity in true doctrine and charity, agree in holding the word of the Lord, and observe the ministry which Christ has appointed for the preaching of it. In this Church there is a very large mixture of hypocrites, who have nothing of Christ but the name and outward appearance: of ambitious, avaricious, envious, evil-speaking men, some also of impurer lives, who are tolerated for a time, either because their guilt cannot be legally established, or because due strictness of discipline is not always observed. Hence, as it is necessary to believe the invisible Church, which is manifest to the eye of God only, so we are also enjoined to regard this Church which is so called with reference to man, and to cultivate its communion. (IV, 1:7)

The earlier 1536 version of the Institutes at this point read as follows:

Consequently, all who profess with us the same God and Christ by confession of faith, example of life and participation in the sacraments, ought by some judgment of love to be deemed elect and members of the church. They should be so considered, even if some imperfection resides in their morals.

(in Willem Balke, Calvin and the Anabaptist Radicals, translated by William Heynen, Grand rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1981 [orig. 1973 in Dutch], p. 50; p. 82 in the Battles translation of the 1536 edition)

For more on Calvin's view of the elect, see my paper on that topic.

Calvin also signed the ecumenical Augsburg Confession, which certainly didn't deny that Catholicism was a species of Christianity. He signed, specifically, the 1540 revised version by Philip Melanchthon, called the Variata.

Reply to Cardinal Sadoleto (1539)

We, indeed, Sadolet, deny not that those over which you preside are Churches of Christ, but we maintain that the Roman Pontiff with his whole herd of pseudo-bishops, who have seized upon the pastor's office, are ravening wolves, . . . Destroyed the Church would have been, had not God, with singular goodness, prevented.

(September 1, 1539; translated by Henry Beveridge, 1844; reprinted in A Reformation Debate, edited by John C. Olin, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966 [online link] )

Ulrich Zwingli

                 Against the Catabaptist Catastrophe (1527)


In this work, Protestant "reformer" Zwingli defended infant baptism and the essential validity and unrepeatability of Catholic baptism. [see the paper by Francis Nigel Lee above, p. 45]

[see also Presbyterian Charles Hodge's classic argument about Catholicism being Christian]

***

So what is your response to my reply to your very confident (and false) assertions, Austin? I fell asleep waiting 13 hours . . .

[I posted on Facebook (6-4-13) about one of anti-Catholic James White's innumerable insults at my expense. I entitled it, "One of My Favorite 'Dr.' [?] James White Potshots"]

Dave, can you provide an exegetical "paper" that interacts with the relevant passages in their original language?

No (I only know English). Can you provide an answer to my last comments in our exchange yesterday? You said you'd love to see a Catholic produce classical Protestants saying that Catholics were Christians (after saying that anyone who accepted Trent on justification couldn't possibly be a Christian). I quickly produced documentation from Luther and Calvin, and you haven't been heard from since, except to produce this non sequitur.

Sure I can. Generally I stop posting because you are either incapable of interacting with the substance of my critique or you just refer me to one of your books (one of which I purchased by the way). I'll look at it and get back to you. 

Right. So you take the same approach as White: I'm a dumbbell and imbecile, incapable of even comprehending opposing arguments, whereas I said twice recently that you were a "sharp" guy and a "good" guy. Case study in Catholic vs. anti-Catholic methodologies . . . You stopped because I am an ignoramus, but now you'll get "back to" me. That's a fascinating juxtaposition there. LOL

Dave, my point is, you felt the need to bring into question Dr. White's credentials (see the title "dr." followed by [?]) yet you are unable to provide exegesis on the same level as Dr. White and others. You're calling out Dr. White for his alleged "pot shot" while you're guilty of the very same behavior. Dave, I didn't get back to you because I severely doubt that you'll even interact with my post in any meaningful way. I try to budget my time wisely when it comes to this sort of thing. Since you've called into question my ability to answer you, I will gladly respond.

I've written several papers documenting White's bogus "doctorate." [one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight] That's a completely different issue from one's exegetical abilities (or alleged lack thereof). I don't go around misleading people as to my educational attainments. White simply calls me names and talks about how stupid I allegedly am, whereas my papers on his degree are filled with facts, documentation, and his own statements. No direct comparison whatever.

[I also praised White in the same Facebook thread: "I think White does good work in a number of areas: e.g., fighting various heresies, KJV-only, liberal theology, and Islam. It's when he goes on his anti-Catholic tirades that he lowers himself into the slime pit."]

You can go jump in the lake. I gave you exactly what you wanted when you asked about classical Protestants acknowledging Catholicism as Christian; you have ignored it for about 20 hours now, and then you come back with insults and act like a condescending, pompous ass, precisely as your hero White does when he has no answer to something. I ain't interested in slinging mud with you and White, but in serious argumentation, minus ad hominem.


Yeah, sounds like I struck a nerve and now you're trying to save face. This is typical RC apologetic "rah rah" talk.

Answer my replies. Put up or shut up, if you think you are so superior in intellect and argumentative prowess.

Do you want a response or not? I was lead [sic] to believe by your comment ("go jump in a lake") that you weren't interested in hearing my response.

What part of "Answer my replies" don't you grasp? Personally, you can go jump in the lake, but as a supposed great intellect, you need to have the courage of your convictions, since you have read me and all my Catholic friends here out of Christianity.

Great, I will respond to your articles.

All will end up on my website, including your obligatory anti-Catholic insults. All par for the course with you guys.

Now let's watch Austin try to "prove" that no obedient Catholic could possibly be a Christian: a position far beyond what even Luther and Calvin held. It should be very entertaining and fascinating indeed. He's done a great job digging his own pit; now he can gradually bury himself in it or else flee in abject horror of fact and logic to the hills, with insults and potshots flying, all the way up (James White style).

Wow, Dave do you want a substantive response or not? Give me a few days and I'll answer every thing you brought up in your post. I have a family and, believe it or not, obligations outside of this discussion. Believe me, you will have your response. 

***

In one of my initial posts I said, “I would love to see a Roman Catholic make a historical case that Protestantism has historically allowed for consistent Roman Catholics to be Christians.” I’m going to argue that you have failed to meet my challenge. Before I go into your various quotes from Calvin and Luther, I want to explain why I say a consistent Roman Catholic cannot be a Christian. A consistent Roman Catholic must believe all that the Church has “infallibly” defined as dogma. Rome has dogmatically defined an aberrant gospel. Therefore, every consistent Catholic must hold to the aberrant gospel of Rome, in order to be a consistent Catholic. By “Christian” I mean, anyone who is in possession of true and saving faith that proceeds from a correct understanding of the Gospel as set forth in Scripture. 

This analysis suffers from a number of problems:

1) You falsely assume that Catholics follow an "aberrant gospel."

2) You define Christian minus any demonstration from either Scripture or Protestant dogmatic statements on the matter (precisely what I requested of you).

3) You assume without argument or demonstration that the "true and saving faith" is Reformed soteriology. This is extremely common in Reformed circles: it's assume assume assume, without argumentation or authoritative demonstration (from either Scripture or denominational creeds and confessions, as far as they go). It's also very common for Reformed to collapse the gospel into soteriology only, and (of course) with the assumption that the peculiar and historically novel Reformed soteriology is the correct and only one.

4) You assume (again without argumentation, but I take it you will at least attempt that as we proceed) a "correct" conception of the gospel that Protestants supposedly accept and Catholics deny.

All of this is essentially circular argumentation, or begging the question.

In fact, the Bible is very clear about what the gospel is. I noted this many years ago (in 1997). The big difference between myself and Austin / Reformed anti-Catholic apologists is that they talk a good game about the "gospel" (as they define it) being "biblical" without showing it from Scripture, whereas I actually take the Bible seriously and do that, rather than just make a bald and unsubstantiated claim. I cite my earlier paper (with a few clarifying additions now):


***

It's quite curious to me that so many Protestants want to define the gospel in the strict sense of "justification by faith alone," when the Bible itself is very explicit and clear that this is not the case at all.

For example, we know what the gospel is because we have a record of the apostles preaching it immediately after Pentecost. St. Peter's first sermon in the Upper Room (Acts 2:22-40) is certainly the gospel, especially since 3000 people became Christians upon hearing it (2:41)! In it he utters not a word about "faith alone." He instructs the hearers, rather, to "repent, and be baptized . . . so that your sins may be forgiven" (2:38). So, immediately after the resurrection, at the very outset of the "Church Age," an apostle teaches sacramentalism and baptismal regeneration.

St. Paul defines the gospel in Acts 13:16-41 as the resurrection of Jesus (vss. 32-33):

And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, [33] this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, `Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee.' [RSV, as throughout]

. . . , and as His death, burial, and resurrection:


1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, [2] by which you are saved, if you hold it fast -- unless you believed in vain. [3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, [5] and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. [6] Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. [7] Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [8] Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

When Paul converted, straightaway he also got baptized, in order to have his sins "washed away" (baptismal regeneration again):

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

The explicit scriptural proclamations and definitions of the gospel strikingly exclude "faith alone," while other actions by Jesus and the Apostles contradict it by force of example. Conclusion?: The gospel is - as Paul teaches - the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus. This is the "good news," not some technical soteriological theory. Even common sense would dictate that this "good news" is comprised of Jesus' redemptive work for us - the great historical drama of His incarnation and atonement, not forensic, "legal," imputed justification. And the prophets foretold these events, not a fine-tuned theory of application of those events to the believer - irregardless of whoever has the correct theory. How could a mere theological abstract reasonably be called "good news"?

***

I provide many more biblical examples in my paper, The Gospel, as Preached by the First Christians. There is not the slightest disagreement between Catholics and Protestants regarding any of the biblical definitions of the gospel. We heartily concur. Acceptance of this gospel, having to do with Christs finished work on the cross for us, comes through grace alone, and through faith, but not faith alone. Hence Paul refers to the "obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5; 16:26), and the "work of faith" (1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:11), and the notion of "obeying" the truth of the gospel (Rom 2:8; 10:16; Gal 5:7; 2 Thess 1:8).

Faith alone or imputed, forensic, extrinsic justification is so far and remote from the gospel and salvation, that I have found 50 passages concerning the final judgment and eschatological salvation, that all talk about works, with scarcely a mention of faith at all. Works (being the other side of the "coin" of faith) simply cannot be separated from the question of salvation or from justification (separated into a category of sanctification that is optional). The apostle Paul constantly aligns grace, faith, works, and actions. I've found 50 passages along those lines, too.

You largely ignore my quotations from Luther and Calvin. Regarding one of the most explicit Luther statements about the remaining Christian nature in the Catholic Church, you note:

But he goes on to say, “Listen to what St. Paul says to the Thessalonians [2 Thess. 2:4]: ‘The Antichrist takes his seat in the temple of God.’ If now the pope is (and I cannot believe otherwise) the veritable Antichrist, he will not sit or reign in the devil’s stall, but in the temple of God. No, he will not sit where there are only devils and unbelievers, or where no Christ or Christianity exists. The Antichrist must thus be among Christians. And because he is to sit and reign there, it is necessary that there be Christians under him. God’s temple is not the description for a pile of stones, but for the holy Christendom (1 Cor. 3:17), in which he is to reign.”

So what? Ho hum. None of this undermines or even contradicts what he just wrote (which you ignore, in terms of grappling with):

[Luther] We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source. For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the Creed. . . . I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints.

Etc. Good grief! What more is needed? How much more explicit could he get? It's the Anabaptists and Zwinglians whom Luther thinks are damned and non-Christians, not Catholics. We already know that he rails against the pope as antichrist, and the system of government in the Catholic Church. But that is a separate issue. He still recognizes a remaining Christianity.  I have noted for many years (far more than you, I'm sure), the negative things that Luther says about Catholicism (see, e.g., my most in-depth paper on it). Sometimes he seems contradictory. But he did state the above, and we have no reason to doubt it. It has to be dealt with on its own terms, but you have taken a pass.

To refresh the memory of our (very patient) readers, here is your original claim that you have to defend:

I would love to see a Roman Catholic make a historical case that Protestantism has historically allowed for consistent Roman Catholics to be Christians.

That's proven in just this one citation alone from Luther (and I have many of his and Calvin's). If a Catholic accepts the pope (as he must, by definition), nevertheless he retains "true baptism" and all the other "good" and "true" and "Christian" attributes mentioned above by Luther. The one thing doesn't wipe out the other. Baptism remains what it is. And baptism (for Luther, Calvin, and Catholics alike) is the entrance into the Christian faith and the Body of Christ. This is what you won't be able to overthrow, no matter how hard you try.

But he goes on to say, “Listen to what St. Paul says to the Thessalonians [2 Thess. 2:4]: ‘The Antichrist takes his seat in the temple of God.’ If now the pope is (and I cannot believe otherwise) the veritable Antichrist, he will not sit or reign in the devil’s stall, but in the temple of God. No, he will not sit where there are only devils and unbelievers, or where no Christ or Christianity exists. The Antichrist must thus be among Christians. And because he is to sit and reign there, it is necessary that there be Christians under him. God’s temple is not the description for a pile of stones, but for the holy Christendom (1 Cor. 3:17), in which he is to reign.”

Thanks for proving my point and doing my work for me! This is great!  Luther again proves that Christianity is not inconsistent with Catholicism (as is made out today by anti-Catholics). It's central to his point here: "he will not sit where there are only devils and unbelievers, or where no Christ or Christianity exists. The Antichrist must thus be among Christians . . ." Exactly. Thank you Luther (and Austin). No talk here of complete apostasy, etc. That's reserved for Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, Campbellites, and various anti-Catholic fundamentalist evangelicals and Calvinists.


You play the same fallacious game again:

Luther goes on to say, “But when we oppose and reject the pope it is because he does not keep to these treasures of Christendom which he has inherited from the apostles. Instead he makes additions of the devil and does not use these treasures for the improvement of the temple. Rather he works toward its destruction, in setting his commandments and ordinances above the ordinance of Christ. But Christ preserves his Christendom even in the midst of such destruction, just as he rescued Lot at Sodom, as St. Peter recounts (1 Pet. 2; 2 Pet. 2:6).”

The fallacy is that Luther's negative statements somehow eliminate or refute his positive statements regarding Christianity in Catholicism. They do not. You haven't demonstrated that they remove the other "positive" statements from consideration or relevance. You simply relentlessly assume without basis that which is your burden to prove and demonstrate.


My position, the very same position as the Reformers, is that the Roman church possessed enough truth that some came to know Christ in spite of the “additions of the devil”. Now, the problem for Protestants today is that the Roman church contains just enough truth that many have been duped into false ecumenism and ungodly compromise, that has led some to embrace a false gospel.

More bald, assumed statements sans argumentation and demonstration; hence, no need to interact with it. You just keep repeating the same fallacies. I don't have to keep repeating the refutations of them over and over. Once is sufficient.

Luther is merely reinforcing the fact that it is the Scriptures and the correct exposition of the Scriptures that should be obeyed. Naturally, I agree. 

So do we. But we actually respect and adhere to all of Scripture, not merely highly selective tidbits (ignoring many other portions and motifs of Scripture), according to an eisegetical predisposition, carved out from the novel traditions of men.

My position is not that Rome gets it wrong 100% of the time. It is my position, that anyone who confesses the Roman Catholic doctrine of Justification cannot call himself or herself a “Christian” in possession of true and saving faith.

I know that; but you're not proving it; you're simply asserting it. You haven't overthrown a single statement of Luther's where he upholds the Christian nature of Catholicism: not one. All you do is quote his railings about the antichrist. I wait in vain for some sort of actual argument from you. This is the same boorish, pedantic nature that we observe in so much of Catholic vs. Reformed anti-Catholic "interaction" (and why I seek to routinely avoid it). Nothing is ever accomplished.

You listed several other quotes regarding Baptism which are completely irrelevant to our discussion. I don’t agree with Luther’s views on Baptism, and I’m not obligated to in order to be a consistent Protestant.

Same old same old (my patience is rapidly dwindling). They're not irrelevant at all. Baptism is the entrance rite or sacrament into the Christian faith. Obviously, then, one who is baptized is a Christian. You don't have to agree with Luther. He is relevant in answer to your charge about the "historical case that Protestantism has historically allowed for consistent Roman Catholics to be Christians". Luther as the founder of Protestantism is obviously central to that. But if you throw him out, as if it is of no import to our discussion. I have far more quotes from Calvin on baptism, and presumably you would accord them much more weight. But today's Protestants are often only dimly aware of their own denominational heritage, so I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if you diss Calvin on baptism. [he does, folks]

I suspect many of your Luther quotes came from Schaff.

They generally come from primary sources. If you had actually consulted the bibliographical information I provided, you would see that they are from the standard collection of Luther's Works, Roland Bainton, and Paul Althaus (whose book you call a "fantastic work"). I have one citation from Schaff, because it was an alternate rendering.

Why did you ignore the fact that Schaff’s comparison of Rome’s gospel with the gospel of the Galatian apostates?

I'm not dealing with Schaff, but with Luther, Calvin, and historic Protestantism. I have studied and documented at extreme length (for 22 years now), Luther's and Calvin's negative statements. They don't eliminate from consideration the ones at hand. 


The imminent Protestant historian Schaff regarded the Roman church as apostate; does he represent the same extreme minority you referenced earlier?

H
is view is standard anti-Catholicism (far more prevalent in the 19th century than now), but he is also extremely fair as an historian and presents the facts of history as they are, as I have noted many times. He gives the facts, and then proceeds to editorialize on them, but he doesn't whitewash the facts. 


You cite Althaus and then Luther to the effect that the Church has no binding authority. But that is the separate issue of sola Scriptura and the rule of faith, whereas we are discussing the nature of Christianity (not authority and Church government). Thus, it is a non sequitur rabbit trail.


You then use your tired, silly pseudo-technique of citing other negative statements of Luther, while refusing to accept or interpret his positive ones (the ones under consideration). This is not even rational dialogue or argument. It's "ships passing in the night." I have extremely little patience for that . . .

Oh okay: you finally make one dinky comment about all the Luther citations I produced (thank you!):


. . . while he may use the term “Christian” in an elastic sense (in the same way some refer to America as a “Christian” nation), he did not view the gospel of Rome as the true Gospel by which men are saved, and can thus truly call themselves Christians.


This is sheer nonsense: merely your cynical, predetermined spin and sophistry in response to what Luther actually wrote. I'll cite it again (my bolding):


We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source. For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the Creed. . . . I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints. 

Baptism is especially important with regard to his statements.  He thought that the Catholic Church possessed true baptism. Now, when we analyze what Luther thought about baptism, it's clear that he thought that Catholics could very well be saved by means of it. Here is what Luther expressed along these lines:

    Little children . . . are free in every way, secure and saved solely through the glory of their baptism . . . Through the prayer of the believing church which presents it, . . . the infant is changed, cleansed, and renewed by inpoured faith. Nor should I doubt that even a godless adult could be changed, in any of the sacraments, if the same church prayed for and presented him, as we read of the paralytic in the Gospel, who was healed through the faith of others (Mark 2:3-12). I should be ready to admit that in this sense the sacraments of the New Law are efficacious in conferring grace, not only to those who do not, but even to those who do most obstinately present an obstacle.
    (The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, 1520, from the translation of A.T.W. Steinhauser, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, revised edition, 1970, 197)
Likewise, in his Large Catechism (1529), Luther writes:
    Expressed in the simplest form, the power, the effect, the benefit, the fruit and the purpose of baptism is to save. No one is baptized that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare [of Mark 16:16], that he may be saved. But to be saved, we know very well, is to be delivered from sin, death, and Satan, and to enter Christ's kingdom and live forever with him . . . Through the Word, baptism receives the power to become the washing of regeneration, as St. Paul calls it in Titus 3:5 . . . Faith clings to the water and believes it to be baptism which effects pure salvation and life . . .
    When sin and conscience oppress us . . . you may say: It is a fact that I am baptized, but, being baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and obtain eternal life for both soul and body . . . Hence, no greater jewel can adorn our body or soul than baptism; for through it perfect holiness and salvation become accessible to us . . .

    (From edition by Augsburg Publishing House [Minneapolis], 1935, sections 223-224, 230, pp. 162, 165)

Again, you cite Calvin's polemical statements against Rome, with the obligatory mention of antichrist statements. Ho hum; yawn. I've been doing that for over 20 years (see a long 2004 paper on that). I devoted two books (one / two) to answering Calvin's Institutes line-by-line (and I cited the entire book IV in one of them). This sidesteps the issue of what he stated regarding whether a Catholic could be a Christian.

Under the heading “Baptism Initiates us Into the Body of Christ” you quoted Calvin as saying, “Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God.”

If we take this quote without any additional context, we could possibly conclude that Calvin agreed with Rome’s doctrine of Baptism. However, in the very next section, Calvin goes on to say, “For Paul did not mean to signify that our cleansing and salvation are accomplished by water, or that water contains in itself the power to cleanse, regenerate, and renew; nor that here is the cause of salvation, but only that in this sacrament are received the knowledge and certainty of such gifts.” (IV, 15:2)


We understand that Calvin rejects baptismal regeneration. He still believes that Rome's baptism accomplishes exactly what he thinks Reformed baptism accomplished, and that it was efficacious no matter how many things about it were wrongly believed by Catholicism. This was obviously the case in his own life, since he was baptized as a Catholic and never was re-baptized. He thought that to do that was to repeat the ancient mistake of the Donatists (whom St. Augustine so eloquently opposed).

Calvin thought Catholic baptism (the same as Reformed in its effects) was an indication of the sins of an entire life being wiped out, which goes beyond the Catholic position. That can be seen in the citations I presented, above.

I’m not sure why you chose to cite section 1 and not section 2, knowing full well (if you’ve read the Institutes in their entirety) that Calvin would clarify his position. Calvin just doesn’t sound as Catholic as you would want your readers to believe.

I posted what was relevant to our discussion. You can play the game of my supposed cynical citation, as if I try to hide other data. Anti-Catholics habitually "argue" like this. As I said, I have two books devoted to Calvin's negative arguments against the Catholic Church, and tons more papers online. That's been covered. I haven't hid them from anyone.  If someone wants to see those things, they can go read it. As I said, I cite the entirety of Book IV in my book, Biblical Catholic Answers for John Calvin. Right now we are on a specific topic: what is a Christian; how does baptism in particular tie into that? Has historic Protestantism acknowledged that Catholics are Christians in some sense?

True to form, you want to largely ignore Calvin's statements on baptism, and move over to his remarks on justification. The baptism exposition has to be interpreted in its own right. Sadly, you resort to obfuscation, obscurantism, the quick accusation of citing-out-of-context, switching the topic, going down rabbit trails, sophistry, spin, claims that the opponent is abysmally ignorant, assuming what needs to be proven, systematically ignoring opposing arguments . . . you show all this in spades and then some. It's classic anti-catholic technique in "argumentation" (ha ha).

There is no dialogue or interaction here in any meaningful sense of the word. It's non-existent. You started the "dialogue" with insults and you end with sophistry, obfuscation, and obscurantism. Nothing new under the sun!

Having moved over to justification in order to avoid the implications of Calvin's remarks on baptism, and evade your intellectual responsibility to engage them, you pontificate:

Does that sound compatible with the statements of the Council of Trent or even the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Of course not! Because we are preaching two separate Gospels!

You have yet to cogently define the gospel from either Scripture or Reformed confessions or other authoritative statements. So how can we know we disagree before we have even defined our terms? I did so (from the Bible); you have not. Luther and Calvin do not assert that there is no Christianity in Catholicism. There certainly is: clearly through baptism, if nothing else.

And if those previous two passages are not enough, consider what Calvin has to say regarding Purgatory . . . So Dave, do you and other consistent Catholics affirm the doctrine of Purgatory? You and I both know the answer to that question.

Another rabbit trail. Nice try. Have fun down there . . . You then move on to the Mass and justification again. I will simply note in passing that we fully concur that initial justification is by grace alone, without any consideration of man's merit; contra Pelagianism and even semi-Pelagianism. Trent makes that abundantly clear. Catholics also assert monergism (not synergism) as essential to initial justification, as I have documented.

I think our readers are entitled to at least one serious treatment of Calvin's views on baptism. According to him, baptism (including Catholic baptism) bestows upon its recipients all the following characteristics (all taken from the citations above):

. . . sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God.  (Institutes, IV, 15:1)
. . . by the gospel the message of our ablution and sanctification is announced; by baptism this message is sealed. (IV, 15:2)
We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. . . .  secure of the remission of sins. (IV, 15:3)
. . .  we are washed from our sins by the blood of Christ. And what is the sign and evidence of that washing if it be not baptism? . . . all the godly may, during the whole course of their lives, whenever they are vexed by a consciousness of their sins, recall the remembrance of their baptism, that they may thereby assure themselves of that sole and perpetual ablution which we have in the blood of Christ. (IV, 15:4)
Another benefit of baptism is, that it shows us our mortification in Christ and new life in him.. . . if we are Christians we should be dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness. . . . in the passage which we formerly quoted, he calls it “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5). We are promised, first, the free pardon of sins and imputation of righteousness; and, secondly, the grace of the Holy Spirit, to form us again to newness of life. (IV, 15:5)

The last advantage which our faith receives from baptism is its assuring us not only that we are ingrafted into the death and life of Christ, but so united to Christ himself as to be partakers of all his blessings. . . .  Paul proves us to be the sons of God, from the fact that we put on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27). (IV, 15:6)
Baptism serves as our confession before men, inasmuch as it is a mark by which we openly declare that we wish to be ranked among the people of God, by which we testify that we concur with all Christians in the worship of one God, and in one religion; by which, in short, we publicly assert our faith, . . .  (IV, 15:13)
. . . we have entered into the Church of God, that with one consent of faith and love we may live in concord with all believers. (IV, 15:15)

[C]hildren derive some benefit from their baptism, when, being ingrafted into the body of the Church, . . . (IV, 16:9)

God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption, . . . (IV, 17:1)

Baptism being a kind of entrance into the Church, an initiation into the faith, . . . Wherefore, as there is but one God, one faith, one Christ, one Church, which is his body, so Baptism is one, and is not repeated. (IV, 18:19)

Surely it is extraordinary to assert that all of these characteristics or qualities are not Christian (!!). These are all Christian attributes. He's talking about Christians; disciples of Christ; believers, followers of Jesus. Baptism brings this about. If Catholics are not Christians by virtue of their baptism, then you are ludicrously asserting (from straightforward deductive logic), the following propositions:


1) Non-Christians are admitted to the fellowship of the Church.

2) Non-Christians are ingrafted into Christ.

3) Non-Christians are accounted children of God. 
4) Non-Christians obtain sanctification.
5)  Non-Christians are washed and purified once for the whole of life.
6)  Non-Christians have new life or newness of life in Christ.
7)  Non-Christians are united to Christ himself. 
8) Non-Christians are the sons of God.
9) Non-Christians are ranked among the people of God.
10) Non-Christians have entered into the Church of God.
11) Non-Christians live in concord with all believers.
12) Non-Christians are ingrafted into the body of the Church.
13) Non-Christians are initiated into the Christian faith.

This is simply not possible: especially not in the Reformed schema of TULIP where the non-believers are totally depraved and predestined to hell by a decree from all eternity (with no chance for it to be otherwise), and could, therefore, not possibly partake in all these attributes and estates (or even, quite arguably, any one of them). But Calvin says the baptized possess these things. Therefore, undeniably, those who do are Christians. And that includes Catholics, since he holds that Catholic baptism is valid and efficacious. It's the case even more so for Luther, given his much stronger position of baptismal regeneration.

Therefore, baptized Catholics are Christians and possess all these qualities, according to Calvin, with strong support from Luther and even Zwingli. And this is but one consideration of many . . .Whether this contradicts his own statements about justification, etc., is another issue. It's not unknown for Luther and Calvin to be internally inconsistent (believe me, I know, after many years of studying them). But as it stands, insofar as they are baptized, according to the many statements above, Catholics are fellow Christians.

There's nowhere else to go with this if this is how it is "argued": ending up in the literal nonsense we see above, where a non-Christian is at the same time a Christian, etc. We've descended to utterly irrational babbling and an Alice-in-Wonderland world where words change at whim or have no meaning, or no relation to other words: where contradiction is all-pervasive and self-contradiction viciously present. Subjective mush . . . gobbledygook.

I close with remarks from Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge's classic argument that Catholics are Christians (bolding -- I believe -- is from the person who cited it):

That Romanists as a society profess the true religion, meaning thereby the essential doctrines of the gospel, those doctrines which if truly believed will save the soul, is, as we think, plain. 1. Because they believe the Scriptures to be the word of God. 2. They direct that the Scriptures should be understood and received as they were understood by the Christian Fathers. 3. They receive the three general creeds of the church, the Apostle’s, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, or as these are summed up in the creed of Pius V. 4. They believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. In one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. And the third day rose again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And they believe in one catholic apostolic church. They acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins, and look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

If this creed were submitted to any intelligent Christian without his knowing whence it came, could he hesitate to say that it was the creed of a Christian church? Could he deny that these are the very terms in which for ages the general faith of Christendom has been expressed? Could he, without renouncing the Bible, say that the sincere belief of these doctrines would not secure eternal life? Can any man take it upon himself in the sight of God, to assert there is not truth enough in the above summary to save the soul?

Dave, you have completely ignored the vast majority of what I've said regarding both Calvin AND Luther. I went into almost every single quote you listed by providing important context and offering explanations.

I gave you the respect of actually dealing with what you wrote, instead you start out by arguing Justification by Faith alone and plug some more of your silly "quote books".

I provided positive Protestant statements regarding the doctrine of Justification from the Westminster Confession of Faith and juxtaposed them with the dogmas of the Council of Trent.

You sir, are wasting my time and the time of your readers by engaging in the oh so typical chest beating and triumphalism that you have become known for.


On his Facebook page, Austin took some more potshots [he later deleted the thread]:

If anyone would like to read my full response to Dave's unbelievable proof texting PM me and I'll send it to you.

Dave has remained true to form and completely ignored my responses. 

Same old same old. I should have known better than to waste time again with an anti-Catholic sophist. But whatever: some good was accomplished, by demonstrating what Luther and Calvin believed about the Christian status of Catholicism. So Austin doesn't get it; not the end of the world. You can lead the horse to water but you can't make it drink. We never even got to first base. Austin has chosen to ignore virtually all of my arguments and documentation, in various ways, already noted. There is no discussion here. 

But others (reading) will get it. And that's the main reason why I made this an exception to my rule as regards debate with anti-Catholics. I knew all along there wasn't one chance in a thousand that Austin would 1) actually interact with the arguments, or 2) be convinced. It's always -- repeat, always the same with anti-Catholics. One hopes for at least #1 (which is quite possible, agree or no, for any self-respecting thinking person of any stripe), but with Austin we got neither, and he ends (appropriately and humorously) with the personal insults with which he began. So anti-Catholics en masse despise and loathe me and lie (like he does) about the nature of my apologetics efforts: like that is some bombshell revelation?

One last note: I mentioned no "silly 'quote books'." I do have several collections of quotations, but they weren't mentioned in this paper. I mentioned my two books devoted to John Calvin, that answer his arguments in his Institutes point-by-point and line-by-line. They are, therefore, "dialogue books," not "quotes books." Nor did I "plug" them. They were mentioned because Austin implied that I was quite unfamiliar with Calvin's views. Thus, they were counter-evidence for that assertion. Whether they are "silly" or not, I'll let my many thousands of readers judge.

***

Brigitte, an articulate Lutheran apologist of sorts, has made some insightful comments on James Swan's dense anti-Catholic site. Swan is a highly confused wannabe apologist who doesn't get these things and can't comprehend them, in his anti-Catholic fog of confusion (and in his case, considerable bigotry). Writing about Luther's 1528 work, Concerning Rebaptism, that I cited above, Brigitte contends:

Here is how I read this: the pope will say, yes we share the Lord's prayer, sacraments, etc. --but they (the Lutherans) are heretics. So the pope is dissembling--speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Luther is said to be "dissembling" because against the Anabaptists he defends the creed, sacraments, catechism... etc., come down from the RC church. But he is not dissembling and not speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He does believe that the RC church is right on many basic and original teachings and believes in common with the Lutherans (until they have been ruined by false teachings and innovations of the papacy).

The accusation of dissembling is wrong. Luther is not dissembling, at all. There is irony here. The question is thrown out: who is really inventing monstrous teachings and instituting innovations in the church? Is it the Lutherans? or is it the Pope? It is the Pope. Ergo. The Lutherans have held onto all the good stuff and are not calling RC anything bad for those kinds of things; only the innovations. . . .

The real point is that Luther was greatly concerned about Anabaptist teaching and the loss of the sacraments and whatever else was under dispute. Luther will stand with the RC church where it is right, and not call it heretical for those,(but not where it is wrong, i.e. innovations) and thus he will also stand with it against Anabaptists. And this is no "dissembling" whatsoever. He is only using the lingo of his opponents. . . . 

Just because something is taught by the "papacy, the Antichrist" does not mean [in Luther's view] it is automatically wrong.

So what he is saying is: he will state, contend for and sincerely believe (by the way) that all the things he lists are the right kind of Christianity in the papal church. --Some may call this "flattering the pope" or here he says "dissemble". They can call it what he wants. Shall he change his position on the account of them calling him this? (Of course not, and certainly he has been called many things.) He will not quit "dissembling" if what he says about the papal church must be called "dissembling" (not his choice of words, but using the assertion of his foes.) . . . the Rebaptizers are getting it exactly wrong. Instead of attacking the Antichrist (the one who rejects the gospel and calls its preachers heretical) they attack the "temple", i.e. that what is true Christianity.

Luther is not dissembling or flattering--at all. He is dead earnest. The poor Christians who are baptized and go to the sacrament of the altar, have Christ thereby, even if the pope is their tyrant, but those who do away with the sacraments take away Christ from them altogether, thus doing great harm and causing people to go to hell.

The "dissembling" is an accusation against Luther that does not stick at all, and he is not going to change his mind.


* * *

On a humorous note, Austin found the post and opinion that Brigitte was contending against and expressed his approval:

Great post! I was dialoguing with a RC "apologist" about this very issue. Good stuff.

So we know they are referring to me. Swan's post was clearly in response to this post (he habitually refuses to name me, so people know whose opinion is being talked about: it's a childish game he plays). The illustrious, all-wise Swan then chimed in:

Here's what I think will happen next: the next card played by the modern-day papists will probably be that Luther contradicted himself. This is usually how it goes with them once you expose their propaganda. 

Too late; I already played that "card" in the paper, which (as usual), this buffoon hadn't even read before he set out supposedly "refuting" it:

Therefore, baptized Catholics are Christians and possess all these qualities, according to Calvin, with strong support from Luther and even Zwingli. And this is but one consideration of many . . .Whether this contradicts his own statements about justification, etc., is another issue. It's not unknown for Luther and Calvin to be internally inconsistent (believe me, I know, after many years of studying them). But as it stands, insofar as they are baptized, according to the many statements above, Catholics are fellow Christians.

I also wrote above:

He still recognizes a remaining Christianity.  I have noted for many years (far more than you, I'm sure), the negative things that Luther says about Catholicism (see, e.g., my most in-depth paper on it). Sometimes he seems contradictory.


I know all about Luther's negative opinions concerning Catholicism. I've been dealing with them for 23 years. He also expressed some positive things (which is far more interesting and infinitely less boorish; even remarkably "ecumenical" for that troubled time). I've also been contending that Luther and Calvin were both self-contradictory and also at times how they vacillated and went back-and-forth. That is nothing new, either. I discussed it, in fact, in my first published article, about Martin Luther, in January 1993: over 20 years ago now.

Thus I can hardly use this supposed "tactic" in response now, when I already stated it in the paper, and have been arguing this for 23 years. It's just one more ridiculous salvo in the never-ending arsenal of the bigoted, profoundly ignorant strain of anti-Catholic polemics: typified by this website, among several others.

It's far more sensible to follow Brigitte's take. She gets it; she's the Lutheran. She understands Luther's forms and methods of argumentation. She's right about this. The point has been established and documented, and neither Austin nor the anti-Catholic zealot on this site have overthrown that.

***

That Luther regarded properly baptized persons as Christians is backed-up by the most well-known Luther biographer, Roland H. Bainton. Referring to his opinion in 1526, he stated:

. . . he had relinquished the hope of gathering the ardent and had turned to the education of the masses. There should be neither a sect nor a cell, but the Church should coincide with the community and all those baptized in infancy should be accounted Christian.

(Studies on the Reformation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1963, p. 38)


We know that Luther regarded Catholic baptism as valid; therefore, by ineluctable logic, Catholics are Christians, on that basis, if he regarded baptized people as such.

Luther (like Calvin) was not rebaptized as an adult (and excommunicated Protestant), and regarded his Catholic baptism as valid (since, after all, he himself argued against rebaptism). Luther clarified his opinion on baptism in his 1539 treatise, On the Councils and the Church:

I excuse St. Cyprian . . . for he held that the heretics had no sacrament at all and that therefore they had to be baptized like other heathen. . . . But our Anabaptists admit that our baptism and that of the papacy is a true baptism, but since it is administered and received by unworthy people, it is no baptism at all. St. Cyprian would never have concurred in this, much less practiced it.

(Selected Writings of Martin Luther: 1529-1546, Fortress Press, 1967, p. 238)

Austin then chimed in again on James Swan's anti-Catholic thread on the Boors All site, getting in one last postshot:

Great stuff. Thank you for sharing. You should know that the comments (Brigitte's comments) on this thread are being shared by Mr. Armstrong, presumably because he's not able to articulate his own original exegesis of Luther's writing.

Interestingly enough, Hodge says some very pointed things regarding Roman Catholicism and the Gospel. Once again, Armstrong takes them wildly out of context to "prove" a point. 


Since Austin now wants to write stupidly about Hodge, let's take a brief look at what he thought about Catholic soteriology. Here he is, writing in his Systematic Theology about the atonement (my bolding):


The first is that which has been for ages regarded as the orthodox doctrine; in its essential features common to the Latin, Lutheran, and Reformed churches. This is the doctrine which the writer has endeavoured to exhibit and vindicate in the preceding pages. According to this doctrine the work of Christ is a real satisfaction, of infinite inherent merit, to the vindicatory justice of God; so that He saves his people by doing for them, and in their stead, what they were unable to do for themselves, satisfying the demands of the law in their behalf, and bearing its penalty in their stead; whereby they are reconciled to God, receive the Holy Ghost, and are made partakers of the life of Christ to their present sanctification and eternal salvation. 

This doctrine provides for both the great objects above mentioned. It shows how the curse of the law is removed by Christ’s being made a curse for us; and how in virtue of this reconciliation with God we become, through the Spirit, partakers of the life of Christ. He is made unto us not only righteousness, but sanctification. We are cleansed by his blood from guilt, and renewed by his Spirit after the image of God. Having died in Him, we live in Him. Participation of his death secures participation of his life. 
No problem there . . . S. Donald Fortson III, Ph.D.,Associate Prof. of Church History and Practical Theology at the Reformed Theological Seminary - Charlotte, wrote a paper entitled "One Baptism." He noted:

American Protestants have struggled with the issue of rebaptism. Presbyterians, for example, at their annual meeting in 1845, declared that Roman Catholic baptism was not Christian baptism, therefore, inferring that rebaptism would be in order. Professor Charles Hodge of Princeton Seminary countered that this action was “in opposition to all previous practice and to the principles of every other protestant church.” Hodge acknowledged the errors of Catholicism but he also observed, “there is not a Church on earth which teaches the doctrine of the Trinity more accurately, thoroughly, or minutely, according to the orthodoxy of the Reformed and Lutheran churches, than the church of Rome...they teach the doctrine of the atonement far more fully and accurately than multitudes of professedly orthodox Protestants.” The Catholic Church is “a part of the visible church on earth” and rebaptism is out of order. (See Charles Hodge, “Review of the General Assembly,” 1845) Hodge’s basic argument was the insoluble connection between baptism and belief – if Catholics are Christian then one cannot pronounce their baptism illegitimate through rebaptism. 
***

Ewald M. Plass's magisterial 1667-page volume, What Luther Says (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959) -- I have it in my own library -- provides more evidence. He writes, himself, on p. 128:

. . . while scoring papal innovations, Luther never ceased to confess indebtedness to the Church of Rome and to regard it as a Christian organization. He expresses this clearly in a Church Postil sermon on John 15:26 - 16:4, in connection with John 16:3. Between the Church of Rome and the Lutheran Church a relation exists similar to that which once existed between the Jewish Church and the apostolic Christian Church . . .

I found this sermon online. It dates from 1522. Here is an excerpt, with his "ecumenical" sentiments, in-between a mountain of hostility and his usual lies about the Catholic Church:

28. Accordingly, we concede to the papacy that they sit in the true Church, possessing the office instituted by Christ and inherited from the apostles, to teach, baptize, administer the sacrament, absolve, ordain, etc., just as the Jews sat in their synagogues or assemblies and were the regularly established priesthood and authority of the Church. We admit all this and do not attack the office, although they are not willing to admit as much for us; yea, we confess that we have received these things from them, even as Christ by birth descended from the Jews and the apostles obtained the Scriptures from them. . . .

32. Thus we say to the papists: We grant you, indeed, the name and office, and regard these as holy and precious, for the office is not yours, but has been established by Christ and given to the Church without regard for and distinction of the persons who occupy it. Therefore, whatever is exercised through this office as the institution of Christ, and in his name and that of the Church, is at all times right and proper, even though ungodly and unbelieving men may participate. We must distinguish between the office and the person exercising it, between rightful use and abuse. The name of God and of Christ is always holy in itself; but it may be abused and blasphemed. So also, the office of the Church is holy and precious, but the person occupying it may be accursed and belong to the devil.  . . .

43. We admit that the papists also exercise the appointed offices of the Church, baptize, administer the sacrament etc., when they observe these things as the institution of Christ, in the name of Christ and by virtue of his command (just as in the Church we must regard as right and efficacious the offices of the Church and baptism administered by heretics), . . .

Plass, in the same vein, cites Luther, writing in 1533:

By His miraculous power God nonetheless preserved under the pope, first, Holy Baptism, then, in the pulpit, the text of the holy Gospel in the language of each country, thirdly, the forgiveness of sins and absolution in both private confession and the public services; fourthly, the holy Sacrament of the altar . . . fifthly, the calling and ordaining to the pastorate, the ministry, or the care of souls . . . finally, also prayer, the Psalter, the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments; likewise, many good hymns and songs . . . Therefore Christ with His Holy Spirit surely was with his own and sustained Christian faith in them . . . (p. 129, #375)


Luther's exposition of Galatians 1:2 in his 1531 commentary is also quoted by Plass:

. . . even though it is in the midst of wolves and robbers, that is, spiritual tyrants, it nevertheless is the church. Although the city of Rome is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, yet Baptism, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the reading (vox) and text of the Gospel, Holy Scriptures, the ministry, the name of Christ, and the name of God remain in her. (p. 130, #375A)

***

Selected further comments from Austin, from the combox below:

I know that I will worship at the foot of the Father with many Catholics, but I am convinced, from the bottom of my heart, that the doctrines of Rome are a hindrance to saving faith.

In his conversion story (yes Dave I read your conversion story in "Surprised by Truth") Dave mentions participating in pro-life ministries with Catholics. I'm very involved in pro-life ministries as well, and I can say that I have met some absolutely fantastic Catholic people that I'm happy to call friends! My beliefs regarding saving faith come from a place of love and concern for the welfare of their souls, and not from some petty desire to win an argument.

I've dialogued with dozens of Catholic College students, priests, chaplains, and lay people, and not one of them has called me "anti-Catholic" for my beliefs. If anything, they appreciate my honesty. False ecumenism never helped anyone.


***

[replying to Adomnan]  You apparently just picked up these ideas somewhere rather casually in the course of your life. Why can't you drop them just as casually now that you see they're mistaken? And you must see they are mistaken, if you're a rational man. Why this obstinate loyalty to falsehood and sophistry?"

I checked out when I read that. I offered you a fairly in depth (at the very least not cursory) exegesis of the text and you respond with that? Have you actually studied semiotics? Have you actually spent any time studying Hermeneutics? Of course your answer will be a resounding "Why yes I have! As every good Roman Catholic has!"


Give me a break. You can't even understand how a "red herring" fallacy works, as evinced by your accusation that I commit a red herring fallacy when arguing for imputation.  

This is why I don't discuss these issues on blogs or Youtube. Silly papists like you come out of the wood work making cavalier claims with absolutely nothing to substantiate them. Where is your Magisterial interpretation of this passage? So far all I've seen is a laymen make assertions. Where is the infallible interpretation? Can you point me to it please?

Fortunately, not all Catholic exegetes are as dense as you are...see Fitzmeyer
[sic] and Thomas H. Tobin.

I'm out. Its been fun, but not that fun.

Go ahead boys, claim victory. Anyone can read the comments and determine for themselves which side can actually exegete a text.


***

Dave, I have found a venue through which we can debate this issue publicly if you are willing. It would be via skype and it would be moderated by a third party. If you agree, we can pursue (albeit we'll need to refine it a bit) the topic that you've brought up in this thread. This will *not* be a written debate.

If everything you claim is true, this should be a "slam dunk" for you.

If the debate format is too intimidating we can go with a dialogue format. I'll let you choose.

I simply don't have the time to respond to this thread as you've chosen to update it every couple of hours. I would much rather focus in on one Reformer and discuss their particular views in depth. I think the discussion would be very beneficial to both sides.

I'm no James White, so this one should be very easy for you.  



Hi Austin,

I have no interest whatever in an oral debate; never have; and nine years ago I explained why, in great depth.

I made a one-time exception in this exchange, to my usual policy of not debating theology with those of an anti-Catholic theological outlook.

It has not gone well, and has become ugly and acrimonious: just as it always has in the past. That was the reason I adopted my policy in 2007, and this present farce has given me no reason at all to doubt the wisdom and prudence of that choice. It's the same old same old.

I may make a few more responses if you choose to add more comments here (especially regarding matters of historical fact), but essentially I'm done with this.

Now you've chosen to get in with James Swan: a guy who tries to refute my papers without even mentioning my name or providing a link, so that folks can read the other side. If I comment on his combox to try to present another side, he deletes all my comments. He's also on record claiming that I suffer from psychosis.

Despite all that, you're free to give your opinions here as you wish. And others are free to interact with you if they so choose. Like I said, I may even still chime in now and then.

Facebook is a different story. I exercise a very strict moderation policy there because I want amiability and a congenial atmosphere at almost all costs, in order to be able to share my writings, and allow discussion on them: especially for inquirers, seekers, and those considering becoming Catholics.

Acrimonious "debate" doesn't achieve those ends. Thus, you've been blocked on Facebook.

***

James Swan pontificated with his two cents:

Austin,

We are not the anti-Catholics. Rather it is those belonging to the Roman sect and defend her that are the true anti-catholics. They attack the universal church by attempting to subject us all to the Roman papacy. If Rome ever repented of the heresy of the infallible papacy, perhaps she could be part of the catholic church again. If she repented of this authority claim, true constructive dialog would perhaps be possible. Till then, we can only pray for those enslaved and blinded by the papacy, that God will have mercy on them, and also stand ready to demonstrate that neither the facts of Scripture or the facts of history support their worldview. That they are willing to invoke Luther to support their cause shows you to what extremes Romanists are capable of. 

Absolutely classic, textbook  anti-Catholicism . . . Please pray for those trapped by this insidious thinking and (in Swan's and Reed's case) also a pronounced hostility and derision.

So you are choosing to decline my challenge to public debate?

If you change your mind I will be ready to accept. Consider this a standing challenge.


Hardly, since I made an exception to my rule of not debating anti-Catholics for this exchange. You chose to descend into silliness, rabbit trails, evasiveness, and insults (extending the latter even to my friends in the combox). Your choice.

This was a debate (or, more accurately, could have been, if you had stayed on topic). That is a fact. I expressed what I wanted to express, and as far as I am concerned, have established my contention beyond rational argument.

Just because you are obsessed with oral debate (precisely as your hero "Dr." [?] White is), doesn't change that fact.

I explained nine years ago why I regard written debate as vastly superior to oral debate, and why I think the latter is mostly a farce and a three-ring circus. I have stuck by that principle at all times, and will indefinitely into the future.

I turned down your hero White three times (1995, 2001, and 2007) -- he wants to debate me even though he thinks I am an idiot and an imbecile: odd! --, and you think I would do an oral debate with you?

You have forfeited your opportunity to engage in an intelligent discussion with me.

I would refuse even if I had no principled objection to oral debate (nor to debate with anti-Catholics, which has been universally farcical, these past 18 years).

After your performance above, I wouldn't consider that for a half-second, as I seek to find the most able of theological opponents to interact with, not the least able and most insulting ones.

Austin wrote on the same tired thread at Boors All (6-12-13):

The hilarious thing is, the RC apologist will insist on "development of doctrine" to explain away flagrant contradictions within their own communion, but they're not willing to apply that same standard when reading any Protestant works. Just one more double standard.

***

Austin was still taking potshots on another Boors All thread (17-18 June 2013):

The problem with interacting with this particular "apologist" is his unwillingness or inability to actually exegete the writings of the reformers he quotes. Its nothing more than shameless proof-texting. And its ALL intended to bolster the infantile "anti-Catholic" designation for ANYONE who disagrees with Rome on certain key issues!

There are times when he omits a sentence in the middle of the paragraph! I tried pointing that out, but to no avail....I guess only ''anti-Catholics'' bother with trivialities like context.

***

Last updated on 19 June 2013.



*****


 

77 comments:

Paul Hoffer said...

Mr. Reed said: "We are Protestants because we're protesting the doctrine of Justification as set forth in the Council of Trent. Anyone who adheres to that understanding of Justification is unequivocally NOT a Christian."

I wonder if Mr. Reed knows that the term "Protestant" was first coined in response to a civil decree issued by the Holy Roman Emperor cancelling the holding of the Diet of Speyer in 1526, years before the Council of Trent was ever convoked...

God bless!

Adomnan said...

Why is the Christianity of Calvinists so seldom questioned? That is the really pressing question.

My own opinion, which I know you don't share, Dave, is that fundamentalist Calvinists like Austin Reed are not Christians.

They can't be because they believe in penal substitutionary atonement, a doctrine that posits a false god and denies the God of the Bible.

I don't see how someone who believes in a false god can be a Christian. Their idol is not our God.

I'm sort of surprised that every person with a biblical conception of God can't see this. How can a Trinity that was at war with itself be the Holy Trinity?

I see them as hopelessly lost, unless they can be shocked out of their dogmatic slumber, because they are tragically wrong about the most fundamental object of faith: the nature of God.

Austin said...

Dave you issued this challenge, “Now let’s watch Austin try to ‘prove that no obedient Catholic could possibly be a Christian: a position far beyond what even Luther and Calvin held. It should be very entertaining and fascinating indeed. He’s done a great job digging his own pit; now he can gradually bury himself in it or else flee in abject horror of fact and logic to the hills, with insults and potshots flying, all the way up (James White style).” You went on to say, “Disagree on all the usual stuff, but don’t take the intellectually suicidal route of denying that the entity that you came from (and must have come from, historically speaking) is Christian.”

In one of my initial posts I said, “I would love to see a Roman Catholic make a historical case that Protestantism has historically allowed for consistent Roman Catholics to be Christians.” I’m going to argue that you have failed to meet my challenge. Before I go into your various quotes from Calvin and Luther, I want to explain why I say a consistent Roman Catholic cannot be a Christian. A consistent Roman Catholic must believe all that the Church has “infallibly” defined as dogma. Rome has dogmatically defined an aberrant gospel. Therefore, every consistent Catholic must hold to the aberrant gospel of Rome, in order to be a consistent Catholic. By “Christian” I mean, anyone who is in possession of true and saving faith that proceeds from a correct understanding of the Gospel as set forth in Scripture.

Your first quote read (I’ve included additional context in bold print): “In the first place I hear and see that such rebaptism is undertaken by some in order to spite the pope and to be free of any taint of the Antichrist. In the same way the foes of the sacrament want to believe only in bread and wine, in opposition to the pope, thinking thereby really to overthrow the papacy. It is indeed a shaky foundation on which they can

Austin said...

build nothing good. On that basis we would have to disown the whole of Scripture and the office of the ministry, which of course we have received from the papacy. We would also have to make a new Bible…..We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source. For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the Creed. Similarly, the pope admits that we too, though condemned by him as heretics, and likewise all heretics, have the holy Scriptures, baptism , the keys, the catechism, etc. O how do you dissemble? How then do I dissemble? I speak of what the pope and we have in common. He on his part dissembles towards us and heretics and plainly admits what we and he have in common. I will continue to so dissemble, though it does me no good. I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints. Shall I cease to make this pretense?” But he goes on to say, “Listen to what St. Paul says to the Thessalonians [2 Thess. 2:4]: ‘The Antichrist takes his seat in the temple of God.’ If now the pope is (and I cannot believe otherwise) the veritable Antichrist, he will not sit or reign in the devil’s stall, but in the temple of God. No, he will not sit where there are only devils and unbelievers, or where no Christ or Christianity exists. The Antichrist must thus be among Christians. And because he is to sit and reign there, it is necessary that there be Christians under him. God’s temple is not the description for a pile of stones, but for the holy Christendom (1 Cor. 3:17), in which he is to reign.” You pick the quote back up here: “The Christendom

Austin said...

that now is under the papacy is truly the body of Christ and a member of it. If it is his body, then it has the true spirit, gospel, faith, baptism, sacrament, keys, the office of the ministry, prayer, Holy Scripture, and everything that pertains to Christendom. Therefore, we are all still under the papacy and from it we have received our Christian treasures. We do not rave as do the rebellious spirits, so as to reject everything that is found in the papal church. For then we would cast out even Christendom from the temple of God, and all that it contained of Christ.” Your quote ends there, but Luther goes on to say, “But when we oppose and reject the pope it is because he does not keep to these treasures of Christendom which he has inherited from the apostles. Instead he makes additions of the devil and does not use these treasures for the improvement of the temple. Rather he works toward its destruction, in setting his commandments and ordinances above the ordinance of Christ. But Christ preserves his Christendom even in the midst of such destruction, just as he rescued Lot at Sodom, as St. Peter recounts (1 Pet. 2; 2 Pet. 2:6).”

My position, the very same position as the Reformers, is that the Roman church possessed enough truth that some came to know Christ in spite of the “additions of the devil”. Now, the problem for Protestants today is that the Roman church contains just enough truth that many have been duped into false ecumenism and ungodly compromise, that has led some to embrace a false gospel.

You quoted Luther as saying (I’ve provided additional context in bold print), “[251]…We recall that St. John was not averse to hearing the Word of God from Caiaphas and pays attention to his prophecy [John 11:49ff.] Moses and the people of Israel received the prophecy of the godless Balaam as a word

Austin said...

from God [Num. 24:17]. So also St. Paul recognized the heathen poets Aratus and Epimenides and honored their saying (as a word of God). And Christ bids us hear the godless Pharisees in the seat of Moses, though they are godless teachers. We need to be much less self-complacent. Let God judge their evil lies. We can still listen to their godly words. If they are evil, then it is to their own harm. If they teach correctly, we can be correctly instructed. Consider the pious Magi in Matt. 2:4ff. They heard the Word of God from the book of Micah through the mouth of Herod, the cruel king, who in turn had heard it from the godless high priests and scribes.” Luther is merely reinforcing the fact that it is the Scriptures and the correct exposition of the Scriptures that should be obeyed. Naturally, I agree. My position is not that Rome gets it wrong 100% of the time. It is my position, that anyone who confesses the Roman Catholic doctrine of Justification cannot call himself or herself a “Christian” in possession of true and saving faith.

You listed several other quotes regarding Baptism which are completely irrelevant to our discussion. I don’t agree with Luther’s views on Baptism, and I’m not obligated to in order to be a consistent Protestant.

The 4th quotation beneath the heading “1532” reads (I’ve provided additional context in bold print): “In reference to the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, he says: ‘Moreover, this article has been unanimously believed and held from the beginning of the Christian Church to the present hour, as may be shown from the books and writings of the dear fathers, both in the Greek and Latin languages, - which testimony of the entire holy Christian Church ought to be sufficient for us, even if we had nothing more. For it is dangerous and dreadful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, faith, and doctrine of the entire holy Christian Church, as it has been held unanimously in all the world up to this year 1500. Whoever now doubts of this, he does just as much as if he believed in no Christian Church, and condemns not only the entire holy Christian Church as a damnable heresy, but Christ Himself, and all the Apostles and Prophets, who founded this article, when we say, ‘I believe in a holy Christian Church,’ to which Christ bears powerful testimony in Matt. 28:20 ‘Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the world,” and Paul, in 1 Tim. 3:15 ‘The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth.” Again, it is no surprise that Luther would use such strong language in response to his opponents on this particular issue. As a matter of fact, Luther tends to use strong language against all of his opponents. Take what he said regarding Zwingli’s death in battle, “Zwingli drew his sword. Therefore he has received the reward that Christ spoke of, ‘All who take the sword will perish by the sword’. If God has saved him, he has done so above and beyond the rule.” [No. 1451: Zwingli, Too, May Be Saved by God (Between April 7 and May 1, 1532)]

Luther could be a very nasty guy, as we both know, but that is frankly irrelevant.

Schaff makes this illuminating comment regarding whether or not Roman Catholics can be Christians, “Nor did Luther or any of the Reformers and sensible Protestants doubt that there always were and are still many true Christians in the Roman communion, notwithstanding all her errors and corruptions, as there were true Israelites even in the darkest periods of the Jewish theocracy. In his controversy with the Anabaptists (1528), Luther makes the striking admission: ‘We confess that under the papacy there is much Christianity, yea, the whole Christianity, and has from thence come to us. We confess that

Austin said...

the papacy possesses the genuine Scriptures, genuine baptism, the genuine sacrament of the altar, the genuine keys for the remission of sins, the true ministry, the true catechism, the Ten Commandments, the articles of the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer….I say that under the Pope is the true Christendom, yea, the very elite of Christendom, and many pious and great saints.’ For proof he refers, strangely enough, to the very passage of Paul, 2 Thess. 2:3-4 from which he and other Reformers derived their chief arguments that the Pope of Rome is Antichrist, ‘the man of sin,’ ‘the son of perdition.’ For Paul presents him as sitting ‘in the temple of God; that is, in the true church, and not in the synagogue of Satan. As the Pope is Antichrist, he must be among Christians, and rule and tyrannize over Christians. Melancthon, who otherwise had greater respect for the Pope and the Roman Church, repeatedly expressed the same view. Luther came nearer the true position when he said that the Roman Church might be called a ‘holy church’ by synecdoche or ex parte, with the same restrictions with which Paul called the Galatian Christians ‘churches,’ notwithstanding their apostasy from the true gospel.” (Schaff, The History of the Christian Church, vol. 7, The History of the Reformation).

Look familiar? I suspect many of your Luther quotes came from Schaff. Why did you ignore the fact that Schaff’s comparison of Rome’s gospel with the gospel of the Galatian apostates? The imminent Protestant historian Schaff regarded the Roman church as apostate; does he represent the same extreme minority you referenced earlier?

I’m pleased to see that you’ve read Paul Althaus’ fantastic work “The Theology of Martin Luther”. He offers some incredible insight into the theology of Luther and actually interacts with a great deal of Luther’s writing. His work on Luther is one of my favorites.

Your quotation reads (I’ve provided additional context in bold print): “ ‘The papacy has God’s word and the office of the apostles, and we have received the Holy Scriptures, baptism, the sacrament, and the office of preaching from them.’ Does this not mean that whoever opposes the Roman Church also opposes the church of Christ and Christ himself? This is what the opponents ask and Luther feels it is extremely difficult to deprive them of this argument and to talk them out of it. ‘Yes we ourselves find it difficult to refute it….Then there comes rushing into my heart thoughts like these: Now I see that I am in error. Oh, if only I had never started this and had never preached a word! For who dares oppose the church, of which we confess in the creed: I believe in a holy Christian church…” [The Theology of Martin Luther, translated by Robert C. Schultz, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966, 336)

Althaus goes on to say a few pages later, “We owe Christ unconditional obedience, but we pass judgment on the apostles, the church, and even on angels according to the standard of God’s word. (For this reason, the apostles must also permit us to measure them by the standard of Christ’s word even though they have greater authority than the church does.) [Luther] ‘We obey the apostles and the church insofar as they bear the seal of that man [Christ],’ that is, if they preach the gospel according to Christ’s commission in Matthew 28:19 ff. [Luther] ‘If they do not bear this seal we do not pay any more attention to them than St. Paul did to Peter in Galatians 2.’ Paul did not listen to Peter but rebuked him because he had deviated from the gospel. Under such circumstances, an appeal to the authority of the church carries no weight. The authority and thereby also the duty to obey is based on and limited by the gospel, that is, because and

Austin said...

insofar as the church bears true witness to the gospel and thus demonstrates that it has been sent by Christ.” (Ibid. 338)

Althaus goes on to illustrate my contention, that a consistent Roman Catholic is not a Christian, in the following statement, “The Christian’s obedience to the church must therefore take the form of obedience to Christ. But these two can be different. It can happen that, for the sake of obeying Christ, we must refuse to obey the church. And there is also an obedience to human authority that is disobedience against God. In a memorable statement, Luther expressly names the church among such human authorities, ‘Let all obedience be damned to the depths of hell which obeys the government, father, mother, or even the church in such a way that it disobeys God. At this point I know neither father, mother, friendship, government, or the Christian church.’” (Ibid. 339)

Regarding the testimony of the church fathers Althaus cites Luther as saying, “’Even though saints are present at the council, even though there are many saints, and even though angels are there, still we do not trust personalities but only God’s word, since even saints can make mistakes. There is no excuse for saying that a man was a saint and is therefore to be believed. Most certainly not; Christ says just the opposite, believe him only if he speaks correctly about me.’ This is not a majority decision; rather ‘if I see someone who thinks correctly about Christ I ought to kiss him, throw my arms around his neck, and let all the others who think falsely alone.’ Thus the pure truth of the gospel gives genuine authority to the men of the church who witness to Christ.” (Ibid. pg. 340)


I’ll conclude my comments on Luther with this quote from his “Address to the Christian Nobility”. He says, “Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink to ruin. For there is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved, Says Peter, Acts 4:12. And with His stripes we are healed, Is. 53:5. And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practice in opposition to the Pope, the devil, and the [whole] world. Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.”

Justification became the primary issue for Luther, and it was because of Rome’s aberrant and unbiblical view of Justification that Luther chose to split from the church. Was Luther concerned with a number of other issues as well? Yes, but it was his rediscovery of the doctrine of Justification that ignited the Reformation. And while he may use the term “Christian” in an elastic sense (in the same way some refer to America as a “Christian” nation), he did not view the gospel of Rome as the true Gospel by which men are saved, and can thus truly call themselves Christians.

The second half of your response consisted of quotes by Calvin from his “Institutes of the Christian Religion”. When I was an Arminian, I spent a considerable amount of time in this wonderful work; so naturally, I was disturbed by how you quote Calvin on several occasions.

Before I get into your quotes, I found this quote from Calvin’s commentary on Acts helpful in understanding his view of

Austin said...

Rome’s gospel. He says, “So the priests of Gaul gave rise to the sacrifice of Great Cybele’s celibacy. Nuns came in place of vestal virgins. The Church of All Saints to succeed the Pantheon; against ceremonies were set ceremonies not much unlike.” [Commentary on Acts, CO 48:325)

In his work the “Inventory of Relics” Calvin says along the same lines, “But the first vice, and as it were, beginning of the evil, was that when Christ ought to have been sought in his Word, sacraments, and spiritual graces, the world, after its customs, delighted in his garments, vests, and swaddling clothes; and thus overlooking the principle matter, followed only its accessory.” [Inventory of Relics, CO 6:409]

Calvin saw the practices of Rome as obstacles to belief in the Gospel, though he did believe that the true sacraments and the Scriptures were still contained within Roman Catholicism. There is absolutely nothing in Calvin’s writings that are inconsistent with my initial statements! I framed my statements, regarding the possibility of consistent Roman Catholics being truly Christian, the way I did because I understand what Calvin thought about Roman Catholicism and how he engaged Roman Catholics.

Under the heading “Roman Primacy in Some Sense in the Early Church” you quote Calvin as saying (additional context in bold), “Now let us consider the ancient church, to make plain that our opponents no less rashly and falsely boast of its support than of the testimony of God’s Word. When, therefore, they vaunt that axiom of theirs, that the unity of the church can be maintained only if there is one supreme head on earth for all members to obey, and that the Lord accordingly gave the primacy to Peter and then by right of succession to the Roman see to reside therein even to the end, they declare that this practice has always been observed from the very beginning. But since they maliciously distort many testimonies. I wish to first say this: I deny not that the early Christians uniformly give high honor to the Roman Church, and speak of it with reverence.” (Calvin’s Institutes, IV, 6:16)

It’s true that Calvin knew, as every Church historian knows, that the church in Rome was held in honor. We don’t dispute the fact that the Roman church held sway, we deny the centrality and supremacy of the Roman See. It should be obvious to anyone who’s read the Institutes that Calvin was much harsher towards Roman Catholicism than you represent him to be. (I recommend you read “John Calvin Student of the Church Fathers” by Anthony N. S. Lane, for more on Calvin and his Patristic studies)

You quote Calvin as saying (additional context in bold print), “Therefore, while we are unwilling simply to concede the name of Church to the Papists, we do not deny that there are churches among them.” I’m going to continue the quote, but reading from a different translation so it will sound a bit different, but the gist is the same, “Daniel [Dan. 9:27] and Paul [II Thess. 2:4] foretold that Antichrist would sit in the Temple of God. With us, it is the Roman pontiff we make the leader and standard bearer of that wicked and abominable kingdom. The fact that his seat is placed in the Temple of God signifies that his reign was not to be such as to wipe out either the name of Christ or of the church. From this it therefore is evident that we by no means deny that the churches under his tyranny remain churches. But these he has profaned by his sacrilegious impiety, afflicted by his inhuman domination, corrupted and well-nigh killed by his evil and deadly doctrines, which are like poisoned drinks. In them Christ lies hidden,

Austin said...

half buried, the gospel overthrown, piety scattered, and the worship of God nearly wiped out.” [IV, 2:12]

I doubt I could find a clearer statement than the one above, but you’ve skipped over it entirely and continued a few sentences later, “In one word, I call them churches, inasmuch as the Lord there wondrously preserves some remains of his people, though miserably torn and scattered, and inasmuch as some symbols of the Church still remain-symbols especially whose efficacy neither the craft of the devil nor human depravity can destroy. But on the other hand, because in them those marks have been erased to which we should pay particular regard in this discourse, I say that every one of their congregations and their whole body lack the lawful form of the church.” (IV, 2:12)

The Gospel was always contained in the Scriptures, but due to lack of correct exposition and rampant sin and idolatry, the Gospel lay emaciated and hidden underneath all the Romish practices and traditions. That is what Calvin was referring to when he said, “the Lord there wondrously preserves some remains of his people,” and what Luther meant when he said, “But by the grace of God and with His help they have been preserved in a wonderful manner.” [Sermons on John 14-16, 1538 [on Jn. 16:1-2], LW, Vol. XXIV, 305] What were they being preserved from? Why did they need to be preserved in the first place? They were being preserved from the false gospel of Rome, as both Calvin and Luther correctly understood it to be.

Under the heading “Baptism Initiates us Into the Body of Christ” you quoted Calvin as saying, “Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God.”

If we take this quote without any additional context, we could possibly conclude that Calvin agreed with Rome’s doctrine of Baptism. However, in the very next section, Calvin goes on to say, “For Paul did not mean to signify that our cleansing and salvation are accomplished by water, or that water contains in itself the power to cleanse, regenerate, and renew; nor that here is the cause of salvation, but only that in this sacrament are received the knowledge and certainty of such gifts.” (IV, 15:2)

I’m not sure why you chose to cite section 1 and not section 2, knowing full well (if you’ve read the Institutes in their entirety) that Calvin would clarify his position. Calvin just doesn’t sound as Catholic as you would want your readers to believe.

You quote Book IV, 17:1 (additional context in bold), “First, the signs are bread and wine, which represent for us the invisible food that we receive from the flesh and blood of Christ. God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption, so we have said, that he discharges the function of a provident householder in continually supplying to us the food to sustain and preserve us in that life into which he has begotten us by his Word.”

Admittedly, Calvin is not as clear in this passage, but he is clear in other places with regards to the relationship between salvation and baptism (IV, 15:2). We must take into consideration everything else that Calvin says about salvation and Justification.

“With good reason, the sum of the gospel is held to consist in repentance and forgiveness of sins [Luke 24:47; Acts 5:31].

Austin said...

Any discussion of faith, therefore, that omitted these two topics would be barren and mutilated and well-nigh useless. Now, both repentance and forgiveness of sins-that is, newness of life and free reconciliation-are conferred on us by Christ, and both are attained by us through faith.” (III, 3:1)

Or consider how he defines the doctrine of Justification, “Christ was given to us by God’s generosity, to be grasped and possessed by us in faith. By partaking of him, we principally receive a double grace: namely, that being reconciled to God through Christ’s blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a Judge a gracious Father; and secondly, that sanctified by Christ’s spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life. Of regeneration, indeed, the theme of justification was therefore more lightly touched upon because it was more to the point to understand first how little devoid of good works is the faith, through which alone we obtain free righteousness by the mercy of God” (III, 11:1)

Calvin goes even further and says, “How would this argument be maintained otherwise than by agreeing that works do not enter the account of faith but must be utterly separated? The law, he says, is different from faith. Why? Because works are required for law righteousness. Therefore it follows that they are not required for faith righteousness. From this relation it is clear that those who are justified by faith are justified apart from the merit of works-in fact, without the merit of works.” (III, 11:18)

Does that sound compatible with the statements of the Council of Trent or even the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Of course not! Because we are preaching two separate Gospels! And if those previous two passages are not enough, consider what Calvin has to say regarding Purgatory: “Let us, however, grant that all those things could have been tolerated for a time as something of no great importance; but when expiation of sins is sought elsewhere than in the blood of Christ, when satisfaction is transferred elsewhere, silence is very dangerous. Therefore, we must cry out with the shouting not only of our voices but of our throats and lungs that purgatory is a deadly fiction of Satan, which nullifies the cross of Christ, inflicts unbearable contempt upon God’s mercy, and overturns and destroys our faith.” (III, 5:6)

So Dave, do you and other consistent Catholics affirm the doctrine of Purgatory? You and I both know the answer to that question.

In his response to Cardinal Sadolet, Calvin said, “I have also no difficulty in conceding to you, that there is nothing more perilous to our salvation than a preposterous and perverse worship of God.” [Tracts and Letters of John Calvin Vol. 1, 34, Banner of Truth]

What type of “perverse worship of God” was Calvin refuting? The kind found in Roman Catholicism! Participating in worship as prescribed by the Roman Catholic Church causes one’s very salvation to be in peril.

In the same letter Calvin says, “You, in the first place, touch upon justification by faith, the first and keenest subject of controversy between us. Is this a knotty and useless question? Wherever the knowledge of it is taken away, the glory of Christ is extinguished, religion abolished, the Church destroyed, and the hope of salvation utterly overthrown. That doctrine, then, though of the highest moment, we maintain that you have nefariously effaced from the memory of men….But you very maliciously stir up prejudice

Austin said...

against us, alleging that, by attributing every thing to faith, we leave no room for works.” [Ibid. 41]

Which doctrine did Rome virtually eradicate from the minds and memory of men? The doctrine of Justification itself was deposed, and with it the correct, faithful, and frequent exposition of the Gospel itself.

“We maintain that in this way man is reconciled in Christ to God the Father, by no merit of his own, by no value of works, but by gratuitous mercy. When we embrace Christ by faith, and come, as it were, into communion with him, this we term, after the manner of Scripture, the righteousness of faith.” [Ibid. 42]

Dave, do you believe that? And if you do, how do you reconcile your belief with clear Catholic teaching regarding the relationship between faith and merit (specifically the section on “Merit” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

“We maintain, then, that at the commencement, when God raised up Luther and others, who held forth a torch to light us into the way of salvation, and who, by their ministry, founded and reared our churches, those heads of doctrine in which the truth of our religion, those in which the pure and legitimate worship of God, and those in which the salvation of men are comprehended, were in a great measure obsolete.” [Ibid. 125]

Now compare the statements from the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) with those from the Council of Trent (1547).

Session VI, decree VII of the Council of Trent says, “The causes of this justification are: 
the final cause is the glory of God and of Christ and life everlasting; the efficient cause is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance, the meritorious cause is His most beloved only begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father, the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever justified. Finally, the single formal cause is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He wills, and according to each one's disposition and cooperation.”

Or what about these Canons of the 6th session:

Canon 7: If anyone says that all works done before justification, in whatever manner they may be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins, let him be anathema.

Canon 9: 
If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.

Austin said...

Canon 11: If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema.

Now consider the Westminster Confession of Faith on Justification:

1. Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

2. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

3. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to His Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet, in as much as He was given by the Father for them; and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for any thing in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

4. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.
5. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

How can you possibly view these statements as compatible with one another? They are clearly at odds with one another on virtually every point! There is certainly a level of agreement that we can arrive at regarding certain doctrine, but we believe in two different gospels.

Austin said...

N.B. I was not able to locate a "hard copy" of "Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings" so I had to use the Google books version (found here:http://books.google.com/books?id=Ve7Sybjp5s8C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false) It should be very easy to verify all of my citations using the search bar provided by Google books.

Austin said...

Dave was kind enough to link my facebook page on this blog, so if you would like to ask me any additional questions feel free to contact me via private message or friend request.

Adomnan said...

Calvin: "Of regeneration, indeed, the theme of justification was therefore more lightly touched upon because it was more to the point to understand first how little devoid of good works is the faith, through which alone we obtain free righteousness by the mercy of God” (III, 11:1)

Adomnan: This statement makes absolutely no sense. Have you translated it correctly? I mean, is Calvin saying that justifying faith is "devoid of good works" or that it abounds in good works? Besides, the "of regeneration" is just dangling there and refers to nothing in the following sentence. I guess he's saying that that when he, Calvin, wrote about regeneration, that he hardly mentioned "justification;" i.e., that regneration are justification are two utterly different things. I guess. But who can say?

Another quote from Calvin, “How would this argument be maintained otherwise than by agreeing that works do not enter the account of faith but must be utterly separated?"

Adomnan: Calvin misunderstands Paul completely. When Paul writes of works, saying they have no role in justification, he always means "works of the Law," and works of the Law do not mean good works in general but only specifically Jewish observances, such as circumcision (the only example Paul adduces of a "work of the law.") Calvin mistakenly thought Paul's "works of the Law" were good works or human efforts to please God.

Calvin: "The law, he says, is different from faith. Why? Because works are required for law righteousness."

Adomnan: This is quite false. The Jewish law is different from faith because faith comes before the Jewish law and does not need the Jewish law to make men righteous. The Jewish law was something added on that can be dispensed with. Besides, Paul is not saying that what he calls the "righteous requirements" (dikaiomata) of the Jewish law are not "required for righteousness." He is only saying that "works of the Law" (Jewish legal observances like circumcision) are not required for righteousness. There is a difference between a righteous requirement (dikaioma) of the Jewish Law and a "work of the Law," a difference that Calvin fails to see, although Paul could not be clearer about it.

Just reread Galatians and Romans. You'll see this if you're not blind.

Calvin: "Therefore it follows that they are not required for faith righteousness.

Adomnan: Yes, the "works of the Law" (e.g., circumcision and other Jewish rites and taboos) are not required for faith righteousness. Calvin has somehow mistaken these works of the Jewish Law for "good works."

Calvin: "From this relation it is clear that those who are justified by faith are justified apart from the merit of works-in fact, without the merit of works.” (III, 11:18)

Adomnan: Paul's point is, of course, that one is justified apart from the "merit" of carrying out Jewish observances mandated by the Jewish law, such as circumcision. Paul was never referring to good works in general.

Adomnan said...

Here's what the Westminster Confession of Faith declares:

"Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; ... nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, ....but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them ..."

Here's what Paul declares:

Romans 4:3: "Abraham put his faith in God and it was imputed to him as righteousness."

Romans 4:5: "When someone who does not work believes in the one who justifies the ungodly, it is this faith that is imputed as righteousness."

Romans 4:11:"...the faith he had while still uncircumcised was imputed to him as righteousness."

Romans 4:22-25: "This is the faith that was imputed to him as righteousness. And the word 'imputed' in scripture applies not only to him; it is there for our sake too -- our faith, too, will be 'imputed' because we believe in him who raised from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ who was handed over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification."

Okay, let's see. The WCF says that "God does not impute faith itself." Paul says "our faith will be imputed as righteousness."

Now, whom should I believe, the WCF or Paul? I'll go with Paul (and the Council of Trent).

Adomnan said...

I might note that my comments are directed at the substance of Protestant heretical beliefs. I personally am indifferent to Luther's or Calvin's views about the Christian status of Catholics, and so I have nothing to say one way or another about that issue.

The Reformers taught a false gospel. It hardly matters what they thought of those who rejected their false gospel, in my view.

Now, others may of course be interested in Luther's and Calvin's opinions about who was or was not a "Christian" and may opt to engage Mr. Reed on that subject, which is, I admit, the focus of the OP.

Dave Armstrong said...

.

Austin said...

Adomnan, you've raised a completely different issue. I would be happy to discuss the issue of imputation with you, but preferably in a different forum.

Feel free to friend request or private message me.

Austin said...

Paul, yes I was aware of that, which is why "Protestant" was used primarily by German reformers whereas "Reformed" was used by the Swiss and French reformers. Either way, its irrelevant to our discussion.

Adomnan said...

Austin Reed: Adomnan, you've raised a completely different issue. I would be happy to discuss the issue of imputation with you, but preferably in a different forum.

Adomnan: I'd only be interested in discussing imputation in this forum.

Austin Reed: Feel free to friend request or private message me.

Adomnan: No, thanks. I don't do private messaging on this subject. I am not bringing it up for my benefit, or even for yours, but rather to enlighten whoever might be reading this blog.

It is manifest that there is no imputation of Christ's righteousness in the Bible. It is a fantasy. For Paul, as I showed in my quotes above, the only thing that is imputed to anyone is that person's faith, not someone else's righteousness or faith. If Paul wanted to say someone else's righteousness were credited to anybody, he would have said just that. He didn't.

The Westminister Confession of Faith contradicts Paul directly and verbatim by stating that faith is not imputed as righteousness, when Paul says in so many words, and repeatedly, that it is. It's not a scribal error.

No true Christian can knowlingly subscribe to a statement that directly contradicts the Bible. Thus, the authors of the WCF were not true Christians. No Catholic would ever consent to the WCF, because to do so would be to call Paul a liar.

Furthermore, Paul never speaks of the "righteousness of Christ" in any context, and thus the claim that Paul teaches that Christ's righteouseness, which he never mentions, is imputed, while faith, which Paul says is imputed, is not (the WCF), is as bald as falsehood as one could imagine.

So, choose, Austin. Believe Paul or the WCF and Calvin. You can't believe both.

By the way, you are of course free to ignore my postings and just interact with Dave, or anyone else who chooses to discuss with you the somewhat arcane historical issue of whom the Protestant heretics considered "Christians."

Dave Armstrong said...

I have now issued my reply, added to the paper.

Austin said...

"So, choose, Austin. Believe Paul or the WCF and Calvin. You can't believe both."

A false dichotomy. I highly doubt whether or not you're actually interested in discussing the issues, given your glib generalizations and shallow understanding of what Calvin actually believed. Remember, a LOT has been written about Justification since the days of the Reformation...

I would rather try to keep this thread on topic. If Dave opens another thread on this forum dedicated to the issues you've raised, I would be happy to interact with you in that context.

Austin said...

Dave, you have completely ignored the vast majority of what I've said regarding both Calvin AND Luther. I went into almost every single quote you listed by providing important context and offering explanations.

I gave you the respect of actually dealing with what you wrote, instead you start out by arguing Justification by Faith alone and plug some more of your silly "quote books".

I provided positive Protestant statements regarding the doctrine of Justification from the Westminster Confession of Faith and juxtaposed them with the dogmas of the Council of Trent.

You sir, are wasting my time and the time of your readers by engaging in the oh so typical chest beating and triumphalism that you have become known for.

Adomnan said...

Austin Reed: A false dichotomy. I highly doubt whether or not you're actually interested in discussing the issues, given your glib generalizations and shallow understanding of what Calvin actually believed.

Adomnan: I just spent several postings discussing "the issues," which you won't discuss at all.

So it's "glib" and a "generalization" to point out that the Westminster Confession of Faith states that faith is not imputed as righteousness whlie Paul says faith is imputed as righteousness?

No. The glib person would be he who blithely ignored the direct contradition between the two statements. You are in denial, and I am absolutely sincere. Not every issue is complex.

As for my treatment of Calvin, where is the "generalization" there? I quite specifically said that he mistook Paul's "works of the Law" for "good works/works in general." How could I be less "general" and more specific?

I also genuinely did not follow one statement from Calvin that you posted, which seemed to me to be gobblygook, and asked you to clarify it. Too general for you? Am I supposed to pretend I follow it when I don't? Do you know what he's saying? Is it a garble or a typo?

Moreover, how is quoting the WCF and Paul and comparing them a "generalization?" I could hardly be more specific. You apparenlly like to call specificity "generalization," oddly enough.

Here's a real example of glib generalizing: "we are preaching two separate Gospels." And yet you never once define what you mean by "gospel," despite Dave's repeated, exasperated requests. We're just supposed to get what you mean "generally."

Austin Reed: Remember, a LOT has been written about Justification since the days of the Reformation...

Adomnan: Austin, you can write a million pages about justification and they will not turn Paul's statement that faith is imputed as righteousness into the WCF's statement that faith is not imputed as righteousness.

In fact, the more perverse and untenable a teaching is, the more sophistry is needed to uphold it. So I'm hardly surprised that Protestants have written a LOT about justification.

Besides, this is the answer I always get from Protestant Fundamentalists or Calvinists when I point out their disagreement with the Bible: "Well, I can't answer you, but rest assured, some Protestant worthy somewhere, sometime has answered all the questions."

No. You answer. How do you reconcile the WCR's teaching on the imputation of faith ("doesn't happen") with Paul's ("does")? Come on, I sincerely want to know, and so does everyone reading this. How about it?

Austin Reed: I would rather try to keep this thread on topic.

Adomnan: Fine. Reply or not, as you wish. However, my comments, while not focusing on the central historical issue, are in response to observations you have made on the topic, for example: "It is my position, that anyone who confesses the Roman Catholic doctrine of Justification cannot call himself or herself a 'Christian' in possession of true and saving faith."

Here, of course, you are expressing your own view, not the historical views of the Reformers (whatever those may be). And you do this in a number of places. I was responding to glib remarks of this general sort, and thus my postings are not completely off topic. Of course, I'm free to comment on any aspect of the OP that I care to.

Austin said...


"Here, of course, you are expressing your own view, not the historical views of the Reformers (whatever those may be). And you do this in a number of places. I was responding to glib remarks of this general sort, and thus my postings are not completely off topic. Of course, I'm free to comment on any aspect of the OP that I care to."

I made a statement regarding whether or not a consistent Roman Catholic can possess true and saving faith. Dave said I was in the vast minority so I challenged him to make a historical case to the contrary. He accepted, and now we're discussing whether or not Calvin and Luther believed that a consistent Catholic can be considered a Christian.

You want to debate me here because you think I'll be a slam dunk for you. Like I said, I'm aware of what Paul says, and I'm aware of what the WCF says. I believe that the WCF got Paul right. That is not what this thread is about though...

Let me ask you this: do you believe that a consistent Protestant can be a Christian?

Adomnan said...

Austin Reed: You want to debate me here because you think I'll be a slam dunk for you. Like I said, I'm aware of what Paul says, and I'm aware of what the WCF says. I believe that the WCF got Paul right. That is not what this thread is about though...

Adomnan: Great! So if you believe that the WCF got Paul right and you're aware of what everyone said, then you can explain how the WCF's insistence that "faith is not imputed" as righteousness squares with Paul's insistence that "faith is imputed as righteousness."

I would very much like to hear this.

Just take a little time to fill us in. I'm sure Dave won't mind. After all, you are the one who brought up what the WCF had to say about imputation; and therefore you made this thread about that to some extent.

Go on. Here's your chance to witness to us Catholics about your "gospel." After all, no Catholic is going to agree with the WCF that faith is not imputed as righteousness -- although you say we must do so to be saved -- when we see that Paul says the exact opposite. It's not unreasonable to ask you to deal with this, uh, difficulty, is it?

Austin Reed: Let me ask you this: do you believe that a consistent Protestant can be a Christian?

Adomnan: A Protestant like you? No.

Nick Nunya said...

Adomnan: Baptized Protestants, including Calvinists, are Christians in the eyes of the Catholic Church. I agree with you that they misunderstand Paul and so on, but let's not overstate our case. It will only give Austin and those like him a false impression of Catholic teaching.

-Nick

Paul Hoffer said...

Mr. Reed, please show me where it says in Scripture that in order to be a Christian, I have to ascribe to your understanding of justification. Romans 10:9 says that all who confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead are saved. If I do this, does it really matter that I believe God's grace is infused as opposed to merely imputed? Does the fact that I believe that God's grace is actually transformative rather than an accountant's trick bar me from entering the gates of heaven?

Quite frankly, your polemic against the papacy is merely an addition to that Gospel found nowhere in the Scriptures. Not only is it anti-Catholic, it is anti-biblical. I believe in what the Church teaches because the Church is Christ. Either St. Paul's right and the Church is the Body of Christ or he is a liar and Christ does not reside in the Church because Our Lord did not rise from the dead. If you deny the teachings of the Church, you deny Our Lord. It is as simple as that.

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

Adomnan, Lumen Gentium 15 and Unitatis Redintegratio 3 says that Protestants are Christians so Protestants are Christians. That said, whether their doctrines are sufficiently salvific is a different matter altogether.

God bless!

Adomnan said...

Nick Nunya: Baptized Protestants, including Calvinists, are Christians in the eyes of the Catholic Church. I agree with you that they misunderstand Paul and so on, but let's not overstate our case. It will only give Austin and those like him a false impression of Catholic teaching.

Adomnan: Nick, the Catholic Church does not oblige me to consider every Protestant a Christian. i am allowed to make my own judgments in individual cases.

For example, you might agree that a properly baptized Protestant who denies the Trinity or the Resurrection is not truly a Christian.

Most Protestants, separated brethren, are indeed Christians. However, Fundamentalist Protestants who believe in penal substitutionary atonement are not. The problem, as I pointed pointed out in my first posting on this thread, is that they do not believe in the God of the Bible, because the god of penal substitution is not the god of the Bible.

Their misbelief is as great as, or greater than, that of someone who denies the Trinity or Resurrection, in my opinion. After all, one can deny these things without blaspheming God, but one cannot assert penal substitution without blasphemy. That is why Jews, for instance, are not blasphemers.

Fundamentalist Calvinists posit a deity who imputes others' sins to an innocent Christ and then punishes or "damns" Christ to satisfy his wrath. This is not the God I believe in and is not God at all.

As for other false beliefs, such as the non-existent "imputation of Christ's righteousness," they are of course heretical, but they do not necessarily entail a falsification of the very nature of God.

Finally, most baptisms, at least by "Reformed Baptists," are probably invalid, because lacking in matter and form. Even if some of them are regenerated by their baptism, they soon fall into apostasy and abandon the Christian faith.

How did the Catholic teaching on the efficacy of properly administered baptism morph into the assumption that every carelessly dipped heretic is ipso facto a Christian?

Nick, why not join me in a Christianity that is free of James Whites, Fred Phelpses, Bob Joneses, Jimmy Swaggarts, Jack Chicks and other heretical bigots? Do you really feel that you're in some kind of spiritual communion with these people and their followers? I'm hardly excluding everybody; but, Nick, we can't embrace everybody either.

Nobody can tell me that I have to consider these characters, who don't believe anything that I believe, to be brothers in Christ, because I can't. It's impossible.

Austin said...

Adomnan: Fine. I'm assuming you're referring to Romans 4:4-5.

The text says: "Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. (v.5) And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,"

Bottom line, Paul sees faith as the absence of working. That is not to say that one in possession of saving faith does not live in accordance with his profession by performing good works. Protestants don't believe that, and we've never believed that.

The question is, where does faith fit into the framework of imputation? Or does it?

Now, If you view faith as a work how do you reconcile that with the conceptual framework laid out by Paul in vv. 4-6? Specifically what Paul says in v. 6: "just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God *counts righteousness apart from works*"

Paul speaks, in v. 4, of something outside being credited to a person according to debt and *not* grace. He then says, in v. 5, "And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his *faith is counted as righteousness*,"

It seems that a much more natural reading of the text would indicate that Paul views faith as the means by which we receive something (impute, credit, logizetai) that is outside of ourselves.

It makes much more sense that v. 5 "faith is counted as righteousness" would serve as shorthand (so to speak) for faith being the instrument by which we receive the outside righteousness.

Now if you read the text as faith being the thing credited to us as righteousness, you have to square with the strong parallel between vv. 5-6. That is, the link between "justifies the ungodly," (v.5) and "apart from works" (v.6).

Now I find all of this really interesting given the fact that no Catholic can claim full assurance of salvation. Ott says, "The reason for the uncertainty of the state of grace lies in this: that without a special revelation nobody can with certainty of faith know whether or not he has fulfilled all the conditions which are necessary for achieving justification." [Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, (TAN, 1974 262)]

Adomnan said...

Paul Hoffer: Adomnan, Lumen Gentium 15 and Unitatis Redintegratio 3 says that Protestants are Christians so Protestants are Christians. That said, whether their doctrines are sufficiently salvific is a different matter altogether

Adomnan: Paul, I admit that some, indeed most, Protestants are Christians. I am merely denying that all Protestants are Christians. I don't think the encyclicals you cite require me to consider every single person who calls himself a Protestant to be a Christian. You know what a varied lot Protestants are.

Blessings.

Austin said...

"Mr. Reed, please show me where it says in Scripture that in order to be a Christian, I have to ascribe to your understanding of justification. Romans 10:9 says that all who confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead are saved."

Paul, I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that saving faith is faith that does not seek to justify oneself before God. True saving faith is confessing Christ and believing that He died on your behalf, and is currently living and reigning at the right hand of the Father.

I know that I will worship at the foot of the Father with many Catholics, but I am convinced, from the bottom of my heart, that the doctrines of Rome are a hindrance to saving faith.

In his conversion story (yes Dave I read your conversion story in "Surprised by Truth") Dave mentions participating in pro-life ministries with Catholics. I'm very involved in pro-life ministries as well, and I can say that I have met some absolutely fantastic Catholic people that I'm happy to call friends! My beliefs regarding saving faith come from a place of love and concern for the welfare of their souls, and not from some petty desire to win an argument.

I've dialogued with dozens of Catholic College students, priests, chaplains, and lay people, and not one of them has called me "anti-Catholic" for my beliefs. If anything, they appreciate my honesty. False ecumenism never helped anyone.

Austin said...

Adomnan: I want to point out that I don't think that all Protestants are Christians either. Praying a prayer during a "revival" meeting will not save you.

Adomnan said...

Austin: Bottom line, Paul sees faith as the absence of working.

Adomnan: Nope. Bottom line, Paul sees faith as imputed as righteousness, and the WCF denies this.

Besides, in this passage, "the one who works not" is, specifically, Abraham. And the "not working" is not "doing the works of the Law." The works of the Law are not "good works" in some general sense. They are specifically Jewish observances, not moral precepts but merely ethnic markers. Abraham had not yet done any of these specifically Jewish works, because he had not been circumcised.

That's why Paul says shortly after, in Romans 4:10: "We said of Abraham that his faith was imputed as righteousess. Now when did this come about? When he was already circumcised, or before he had been circumcised. Not when he had been circumcised, but when he was still uncircumcised."

Therefore, Abraham hadn't "worked" any Jewish works, and thus he was the "one who works not;" i.e., uncircumcised. Romans 4:5. Certainly, you recognize that circumcision is the very first "work of the Law" that anyone works?

Austin: That is not to say that one in possession of saving faith does not live in accordance with his profession by performing good works.

Adomnan: Two points:

First, this "not working" has nothing to do with good works. It refers only to Jewish observances, circumcision first of all.

Secondly, Protestants are contradictory on this score. They say that even the "good works" of Christians don't "justify," because they are "filthy rags." Thus, they call them "good works," while claiming God rejects them as imperfect or "filthy rags." But how can they be good works if God doesn't consider them good?

Austin: The question is, where does faith fit into the framework of imputation? Or does it?

Adomnan: I see. Now there's suddenly a "framework of imputation." Where did that come from? Paul picked up a word ("impute") that he found in an OT passage about Abraham and uses it only in Romans 4 in a very narrowly defined way. Lo and behold, this word entails a whole "framework" of some sort.

Well, okay, if you want to speak of a "framework of imputation," then there's no mystery how faith "fits" into it; namely, "faith is imputed as righteousness." So, it fits in there pretty tightly. No mention of "Christ's righteousness" being imputed to anybody, by the way. That apparently doesn't fit into Paul's framework at all. I mean, if it did, he'd mention it somewhere, sometime, right?

Austin: Now, If you view faith as a work how do you reconcile that with the conceptual framework laid out by Paul in vv. 4-6?

Adomnan: When did I ever say I viewed faith as a work? Of course I don't view faith as a work, because, for Paul "works/works of the Law' (same thing) are specifically Jewish observances. And his whole point is that faith is not specifically Jewish or a matter of the Jewish Law.

Adomnan said...

Austin: Adomnan, I want to point out that I don't think that all Protestants are Christians either. Praying a prayer during a "revival" meeting will not save you.

Adomnan: Good. Then we agree on something.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Mr. Reed, you wrote that faith is an absence of working...

Me: We get to the nub of the matter. You suffer from the erroneous Calvinist notion that the Catholic Church is infected with Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism. It isn't. Considering one can not come to faith in the first place without grace and the fact that we could not work without grace and works themselves are grace-filled, your notion of justification is merely a Calvinist tradition of men foisted upon you to delude you into thinking that Catholic Church is in error. Mere semantics should not get in the way of true faith nor should it trick you into thinking that faith=belief. It is obedience in faith, that is submission to God's will, that is salvific. And it is God's will that His children belong to the Church. That is why He founded it.

God bless!

Adomnan said...

Austin: Specifically what Paul says in v. 6: "just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God *counts righteousness apart from works*"

Adomnan: David is speaking of himself, as someone who excluded himself from the Law by sin, as well as of others. However, Paul doesn't cite this verse to comment on David. He cites it to apply it to the Gentiles. That's why he adds immediately after quoting David, (Rom 4:9): "Is this blessing only for the circumcised (Jews), or is it said of the uncircumcised (Gentiles) as well?"

Paul's point is that Gentiles, such as Abraham was, are justifed apart from the works of the Law; that is, apart from Jewish observances. They don't have to become Jews to be justified. They just have to believe.

Austin: Paul speaks, in v. 4, of something outside being credited to a person according to debt and *not* grace.

Adomnan: There's no "something outside" in this verse. Paul simply says that people who work are owed, but that God can give more than what is owed, which is is to say, He can give "according to grace" and not just "according to what is owed."

Austin: He then says, in v. 5, "And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his *faith is counted as righteousness*,"

It seems that a much more natural reading of the text would indicate that Paul views faith as the means by which we receive something (impute, credit, logizetai) that is outside of ourselves.

Adomnan: No. He is saying that God can reward faith with more than just "what is owed." He can give much more than is owed. Besides, this "outside of ourselves" business that you see in these verses is a red herring, not mentioned by Paul. I mean, the wages that a workman receives in verse 4 can be said to come from "outside of himself" as well. So what? I don't see your point.

Certainly, faith itself, which is what is imputed as righteousness, is very much "inside ourselves," not something apart from us.

In any event, none of these dubious speculations of yours negates the fact that Paul says "faith is imputed as righteousness," while the WCF says "faith is not imputed as righteousness." Isn't that what you're trying to do here?

Adomnan said...

Austin: It makes much more sense that v. 5 "faith is counted as righteousness" would serve as shorthand (so to speak) for faith being the instrument by which we receive the outside righteousness.

Adomnan: So what you're saying is that Paul wanted to say, like the WCF, that "faith is not imputed as righteousness," but he did this by saying that "faith is imputed as righteousness." No, Austin, that won't do.

If Paul wanted to say that faith was the instrument by which we reeeived righteousness, but was itself not imputed as righteousness, he would have said that, not the opposite of that.

Really, Austin, (and I'm sincerely perplexed here), why do you insist on defending these indefensible and absurd contradictions? Why? You do realize that, given the cavalier way you treat language, anything can be "interpreted" to mean anything?

You apparently just picked up these ideas somewhere rather casually in the course of your life. Why can't you drop them just as casually now that you see they're mistaken? And you must see they are mistaken, if you're a rational man. Why this obstinate loyalty to falsehood and sophistry?

Fundamentalist Calvinism is not the only game in town.

Austin: Now if you read the text as faith being the thing credited to us as righteousness.

Adomnan: Gee. I see the words "faith is imputed as righteousness" right in front of my eyes. That's why I read the text "as faith being the thing credtied to us as righteousness." I mean, do you see something else in front of your eyes?

Austin: you have to square with the strong parallel between vv. 5-6. That is, the link between "justifies the ungodly," (v.5) and "apart from works" (v.6).

Adomnan: I am square with these things. "Justifies the ungodly" means "justifies the Gentile," because the Greek word translated "ungodly" here is "asebes," which means, in context, "not observant" of Jewish practice, not circumcised. So, Gentile. According to the Law, Abraham himself was "asebes" before he was circumcised; that is, he was a Gentile. He was "asebes" according to the Jewish Law, but not according to God. Just like Christian Gentiles.

"Apart from works" of the Law means "apart from specifically Jewish observance." Thus, the person who is "ungodly" and the person who is "apart from works" is the same person; namely, the Gentile.

So, you see, I "square" everything.

Austin: Now I find all of this really interesting given the fact that no Catholic can claim full assurance of salvation.

Adomnan: A Catholic can have what is called a "moral assurance" of salvation; that is, of being in a state of grace. We cannot be absolutely sure that we will persevere in grace until the end, though, because there is always the possibility of sinning mortally and abandoning God and His grace. In fact, except in cases of special revelation, to be certain that we will persevere to the end is a sin, the sin of presumption.

Many people who are certain they will be saved will be lost. And many who have doubts are in fact saved. Uncertainty about eventual salvation is no sin. In fact, it keeps people on the straight and narrow road. Someone who is absolutely certain that he will be saved does not need God; nor does he need to pray for grace.

Adomnan said...

Paul Hoffer: Hi Mr. Reed, you wrote that faith is an absence of working...

Adomnan: Paul, Mr. Reed's observation here that "faith is an absence of working" doesn't square very well with Galatians 5:6: "In Christ Jesus it is not circumcison or uncircumcison that avails --- only

faith that works by love!"

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Adomnan:

I agree with your exegesis of Rom. 4:4-6. I was merely pointing out that Mr. Reed's viewpoint falls into the trap of placing faith and works in opposition to each other when the truth is, as St. Paul, St. Augustine and witness of the ECF's is that we can't have either faith or do good works without God's grace causing either to happen.

God Bless!

Nick said...

"Adomnan: For example, you might agree that a properly baptized Protestant who denies the Trinity or the Resurrection is not truly a Christian."

True, and at that point they can hardly be called "Protestant" any more anyway. Folks like that are an entirely different breed (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses), which is why Lumen Gentium and so on wouldn't be talking about them when referring to "Protestants."

"Most Protestants, separated brethren, are indeed Christians. However, Fundamentalist Protestants who believe in penal substitutionary atonement are not. The problem, as I pointed pointed out in my first posting on this thread, is that they do not believe in the God of the Bible, because the god of penal substitution is not the god of the Bible...Fundamentalist Calvinists posit a deity who imputes others' sins to an innocent Christ and then punishes or "damns" Christ to satisfy his wrath. This is not the God I believe in and is not God at all."

This is an argument I haven't heard before, and I think you're painting with a rather broad brush to simply write all people who believe in penal substitution out of Christianity. It would seem you could argue this way about any Protestant teaching you didn't like: "Well, a God who would institute fake sacraments that are only symbols and don't impart grace is not the true God of the Bible, ergo people who believe in that don't believe in the true God, ergo they're not Christians." It seems to prove too much. As long as they can profess the Nicene Creed, historically and theologically speaking (from what I understand), these folks are Christians.

"Finally, most baptisms, at least by "Reformed Baptists," are probably invalid, because lacking in matter and form. Even if some of them are regenerated by their baptism, they soon fall into apostasy and abandon the Christian faith."

This seems like an uncharitable assumption.

"How did the Catholic teaching on the efficacy of properly administered baptism morph into the assumption that every carelessly dipped heretic is ipso facto a Christian?"

Again, this seems pretty uncharitable. As a guy who has seen a lot of Protestant baptisms, I can say I've never seen one that was a "careless dipping."

Second, the entire basis of Dave's perspective over against Austin's in the post we're commenting on is that Baptism enrolls a person into the true faith. This is fundamentally why Catholics, even from a classic Protestant perspective, are Christians. You seem to oddly be siding with Austin here by acting as though baptism is basically irrelevant. I agree that a person can write themselves out of the faith via an egregious heresy, but penal substitution has never been on that list in any official Church document I've ever seen.

Nick said...

"Nick, why not join me in a Christianity that is free of James Whites, Fred Phelpses, Bob Joneses, Jimmy Swaggarts, Jack Chicks and other heretical bigots? Do you really feel that you're in some kind of spiritual communion with these people and their followers? I'm hardly excluding everybody; but, Nick, we can't embrace everybody either."

It's more than a little dangerous to simply write out of Christianity anyone you find too bigoted or close-minded. There are tares in the Church. Part of the problem with the discussion you're having with Austin seems to be that (maybe this is just Austin and not you) "Christian" is getting defined as "a person who's going to heaven." Strictly speaking that's not what "Christian" means. A Christian is a person who has undergone Trinitarian Baptism and adheres to the Nicene Creed.

"Nobody can tell me that I have to consider these characters, who don't believe anything that I believe, to be brothers in Christ, because I can't. It's impossible."

If you're Catholic, it's simply not true that they "don't believe anything [you] believe." They believe lots of things you believe. The entire Nicene Creed, for example.

Adomnan said...

Paul Hoffer: I agree with your exegesis of Rom. 4:4-6. I was merely pointing out that Mr. Reed's viewpoint falls into the trap of placing faith and works in opposition to each other when the truth is, as St. Paul, St. Augustine and witness of the ECF's is that we can't have either faith or do good works without God's grace causing either to happen.

Adomnan: I very much much agree with this, Paul. I commented on your earlier post not to dissent from it, but to build on your observation.

St. Paul, as you say, never puts faith and good works into any kind of opposition. As you would proabably agree, however, he does contrast faith with works of the Law -- works of the Law being not "good works" but merely Jewish observances.

Austin said...


Sooo am I arguing with several Catholics over imputation now? I thought this thread was about whether or not consistent Catholics can be considered Christians?

"First, this "not working" has nothing to do with good works. It refers only to Jewish observances, circumcision first of all."

Uh care to flesh that out a bit further? I think there is a massive burden of proof on YOU to establish that there is in fact another law that men are held accountable that Paul conveniently never mentions.

"Really, Austin, (and I'm sincerely perplexed here), why do you insist on defending these indefensible and absurd contradictions? Why? You do realize that, given the cavalier way you treat language, anything can be "interpreted" to mean anything?

You apparently just picked up these ideas somewhere rather casually in the course of your life. Why can't you drop them just as casually now that you see they're mistaken? And you must see they are mistaken, if you're a rational man. Why this obstinate loyalty to falsehood and sophistry?"

I checked out when I read that. I offered you a fairly in depth (at the very least not cursory) exegesis of the text and you respond with that? Have you actually studied semiotics? Have you actually spent any time studying Hermeneutics? Of course your answer will be a resounding "Why yes I have! As every good Roman Catholic has!"

"You do realize that, given the cavalier way you treat language, anything can be "interpreted" to mean anything?"

Give me a break. You can't even understand how a "red herring" fallacy works, as evinced by your accusation that I commit a red herring fallacy when arguing for imputation.

"You apparently just picked up these ideas somewhere rather casually in the course of your life."

This is why I don't discuss these issues on blogs or Youtube. Silly papists like you come out of the wood work making cavalier claims with absolutely nothing to substantiate them. Where is your Magisterial interpretation of this passage? So far all I've seen is a laymen make assertions. Where is the infallible interpretation? Can you point me to it please?

Fortunately, not all Catholic exegetes are as dense as you are...see Fitzmeyer and Thomas H. Tobin.

I'm out. Its been fun, but not that fun.

Go ahead boys, claim victory. Anyone can read the comments and determine for themselves which side can actually exegete a text.






Adomnan said...

Austin: Sooo am I arguing with several Catholics over imputation now? I thought this thread was about whether or not consistent Catholics can be considered Christians?

Adomnan: Don't know why you're complaining. Dave has been discussing the main subject of the OP with you on the front page of his blog.

By the way, you got the subject wrong. It's not about whether Catholics "can" be considered Christians, but about whether the 16th-century heretics considered Catholics Christians.

But forget about that. I don't care.

Austin, quoting me: "First, this "not working" has nothing to do with good works. It refers only to Jewish observances, circumcision first of all."

Uh care to flesh that out a bit further? I think there is a massive burden of proof on YOU to establish that there is in fact another law that men are held accountable that Paul conveniently never mentions.

Adomnan: I've already demonstrated it on other -- looong -- threads on Dave's site. I don't want to go over it again.

But the proof's on you to show that "works of the Law" don't mean Jewish observances, because anyone who reads Galatians and Romans with any attention can see that that is what Paul means by that term.

Well, I'll give you one little example of the massive proof of this, just to be nice:

Romans 3:28-30: "As we see it,a person is justified by faith and not by the works of the Law. Do you think that God is God only of the Jews, and not of the gentiles too? Most certainly of gentiles too, since there is only one God. He will justify the circumcised by their faith, and he will justify the uncircumcised through their faith."

Paul is saying that if one were justified by the works of the Jewish Law, then God would be a God of the Jews only. That means that "works of the Law" are something that only Jews can do. In other words, they are specifically Jewish observances, like circumcision, not "good works" in general. Gentiles don't do them at all. Nor are they expected to. Note that in this passage, Paul uses (once again!) circumcision as his typical "work of the Law." Circumcision is a specifically Jewish rite, a work of the Jewish law.

Austin: I checked out when I read that.

Adomnan: Then why are you still here?

Austin: I offered you a fairly in depth (at the very least not cursory) exegesis of the text and you respond with that?

Adomnan: Of course, as you conveniently ignore, I dissected your laughable "exegesis" point by point. Go back and read it if you've forgotten. I didn't "just" respnd with that.

Adomnan said...

Austin: Have you actually studied semiotics? Have you actually spent any time studying Hermeneutics? Of course your answer will be a resounding "Why yes I have! As every good Roman Catholic has!"

Adomnan: Why yes, I have, as every good Roman Catholic has!

So I'm supposed to read the brain-dead Fundamentalist dreck that you read to be able to "exegete." Isn't it enough that I have an IQ of 160 and speak 14 languages (including ancient Greek) fluently? I'm not up to your standards?

No. I lower myself by even talking to you.

You Fundies are so funny. First, every Tom, Dick and Harry is supposed to derive his religion from reading the Bible. Then, every Tom, Dick and Harry has to have a PhD in "hermeneutics" even to be qualified to begin to read the Bible with any understanding. (But I do hope, at least, that you mean a real PhD, not a fake PhD from an unaccredited Fundy diplomat mill such as that charlatan James White touts.)

Austin: Give me a break. You can't even understand how a "red herring" fallacy works, as evinced by your accusation that I commit a red herring fallacy when arguing for imputation.

Adomnan: Well, your argument stunk, was misleading, distracting, and led to a false conclusion. That's fishy enough for me.

Austin: This is why I don't discuss these issues on blogs or Youtube.

Adomnan: And yet here you are discussing it. You have a real problem with telling the truth, don't you?

Austin: Silly papists like you come out of the wood work making cavalier claims with absolutely nothing to substantiate them.

Adomnan: Are you talking about the contradiction between Paul's statement that "faith is imputed as righteousness" and the WCF's lie that "faith is not imputed as righteousness?" I immediately provided four citations of Paul in which he says that faith is imputed as righteousness. So, citing the Bible does "absolutely nothing to substantiate" my claims? And here my only claim was that Paul says "faith is imputed as righteousness," a claim that you absurdly try to overturn, with no "substantiation" whatsover. A series of confused and dubious impressions that you have about the Bible doesn't amount to anythnig substantial, especially when they're aimed at showing that when Paul writes "faith is imputed as righteousness," what he really means is that faith is not imputed, but is merely an "instrument," blah,blah: Insubstantial stuff that Paul never, in any context, states, implies, or hints at.

But the most glaring, crucial point that you can't around the fact that you, Calvin and the WCF roundly and insolently contradict Paul's very words.

Adomnan said...

Austin: Where is your Magisterial interpretation of this passage? So far all I've seen is a laymen make assertions. Where is the infallible interpretation? Can you point me to it please?

Adomnan: My magisterial authority is Paul. He is part of the Magisterium, you know. And he says, "faith is imputed as righteousness," while your authorities "interpret" Paul as saying "faith is NOT imputed as righteousness." They manage to interpret that "not" into Paul's statement. Oh, well, it's just one little word, I suppose.

Austin: Fortunately, not all Catholic exegetes are as dense as you are...see Fitzmeyer and Thomas H. Tobin.

Adomnan: Austin, my thick friend, Fitzmyer (which is how you spell it, by the way) does not interpret Paul to say that faith is not imputed as righteousness. Or did you miss that?

Austin: I'm out. Its been fun, but not that fun.

Adomnan: Run away, loser. You know you can't defend your absurdities and so you're out of here.

Oh, and I had lots of fun. It's always fun toying with ignorant know-it-alls. Thanks!

Austin: Go ahead boys, claim victory. Anyone can read the comments and determine for themselves which side can actually exegete a text.

Adomnan: Absolutely. Folks, just read Austin's argument that faith is not imputed as righteousness and compare it with Paul's statement that faith is imputed as righteousness, and then decide for yourself what you think of Austin's brilliant "exegesis."

Adomnan said...

I almost missed another red herring that Austin wrapped into his last posting. Here it is: "There is in fact another law that men are held accountable (to?) that Paul conveniently never mentions."

Adomnan: Wrong again. Paul does not hold Gentiles accountable to any law. The only law he is concerned about is the Jewish law, which, of course, applies only to Jews.

Proof?

Romans 2:12-13: "All those who have sinned without the Law will perish without the Law; and those under the Law who sinned will be judged by the Law."

Romans 2:14 "...Gentiles have not the Law..."

Romans 4:15 "...where there is no law, there is no transgression."

Romans 5:13-14: "Sin already existed before there was any law, even though sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Nonetheless, death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sin was not the breaking of a commandment, as Adam's was."

So, what do we see? Gentiles don't have the law, not the Jewish Law, not any Law. Where there is no law, there is no transgression. Thus, Gentiles are not transgressors. Even though Gentiles sin and die, their sin "is not reckoned," as is the case with Jews, who are under the Law. Gentiles sin, but their sin is not the breaking of a commandment, because commandments, for Paul, must be explicitly revealed, which happens only in the Mosaic Law (and with the commandment God explicitly gave Adam and Eve). Gentiles are outside of the Law and are not judged by the Law, never have been and never will be.

So how is there "a massive burden of proof on (ME) to establish that there is in fact another law that men are held accountable (to) that Paul conveniently never mentions?"

There is no such "other law."

The Protestant assumption that everyone is held accountable to the Jewish Law or some "law" is utterly unbiblical.

One note: When Paul speaks (in Rom 2:14) of Gentiles who behave as the Law commands, "even though they have no Law," he is referring to Gentile Christians, and not to Gentiles in general. Gentile Christians will follow the precepts (moral requirements/"dikaiomata" in Greek) of the Law (Rom 2:25-29), though they do not, of course, perform the "works of the Law" (specifically Jewish observances, like circumcision.) Precepts, yes. Works, no.

Adomnan said...

I ended my second post replying to Austin's latest with the following sentence:

"But the most glaring, crucial point that you can't around the fact that you, Calvin and the WCF roundly and insolently contradict Paul's very words."

There's a typo. It should read:

"But the most glaring, crucial point that you can't GET around IS the fact that you, Calvin and the WCF roundly and insolently contradict Paul's very words."

Adomnan said...

Nick Nunya, I'll respond to your judicious comments tomorrow. I'll try not to be too verbose.

Dave Armstrong said...

I've added three new sections to the end of the paper, starting with the words, "Brigitte, an articulate Lutheran apologist of sorts, has made some insightful comments . . ."

Dave Armstrong said...

I wrote on my Facebook page:

Austin is now blocked from this site, as he is manifestly acting like a pompous ass and a boor to boot. I am dead-set against folks who carry on like that polluting the great atmosphere for discussion and exchange of ideas that I have cultivated here, now for a year-and-a-half.

He's still free, however, to comment on my blog post, as he wishes. I have much stricter standards for what I allow here, compared to my blog, where I virtually never delete any comment, unless it is plainly spam or vulgar.

If he rants against me further on his Facebook page, I'd appreciate it if someone lets me know, so I can document the bilge that he writes and add it to the blog paper. Just search "Austin Reed" on Facebook. His posts are public, and you'll be able to see them if he hasn't blocked you. I won't be able to see it, since I'm blocking him now.

Dave Armstrong said...

I added yet another section to the end, starting with the words, "Since Austin now wants to write stupidly about Hodge, . . ."

Dave Armstrong said...

Also added to the end three citations from Ewald Plass's book, "What Luther Says."

Austin said...

Dave, I have found a venue through which we can debate this issue publicly if you are willing. It would be via skype and it would be moderated by a third party. If you agree, we can pursue (albeit we'll need to refine it a bit) the topic that you've brought up in this thread. This will *not* be a written debate.

If everything you claim is true, this should be a "slam dunk" for you.

If the debate format is too intimidating we can go with a dialogue format. I'll let you choose.

I simply don't have the time to respond to this thread as you've chosen to update it every couple of hours. I would much rather focus in on one Reformer and discuss their particular views in depth. I think the discussion would be very beneficial to both sides.

I'm no James White, so this one should be very easy for you.

Nick Nunya said...

On the contrary, the far more interesting (and relevant) topic would be "Is Catholicism Christian?" rather than "Did Luther (or Calvin or whoever) think Catholicism was Christian?" Because again, this would force you to define your terms and explain why your definitions are accurate, Biblically and historically (something you didn't do in this debate).

Second, it's a little desperate that you don't want to deal with all the data Dave has presented, so you want a "re-do" in a format where you won't have to go into as much depth. Oral debate lends itself to style over substance 99 times out of 100. Cmon, Austin. If you want to respond, just respond. If there was going to be a "re-do" at all, I'd rather see it remain In written form and be re-oriented toward whether YOU think Catholicism is Christian, and what your rationale is for that. Dave might even be willing to do a word count limit, who knows?

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Austin,

I have no interest whatever in an oral debate; never have; and I have explained why, in depth, here:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2004/09/oral-vs-written-apologetic-debates.html

I made a one-time exception in this exchange, to my usual policy of not debating theology with those of an anti-Catholic theological outlook.

It has not gone well, and has become ugly and acrimonious: just as it always has in the past. That was the reason I adopted my policy in 2007, and this present farce has given me no reason at all to doubt the wisdom and prudence of that choice. It's the same old same old.

I may make a few more responses if you choose to add more comments here (especially regarding matters of historical fact), but essentially I'm done with this.

Now you've chosen to get in with James Swan: a guy who tries to refute my papers without even mentioning my name or providing a link, so that folks can read the other side. If I comment on his combox to try to present another side, he deletes all my comments. He's also on record claiming that I suffer from psychosis.

Despite all that, you're free to give your opinions here as you wish. And others are free to interact with you if they so choose. Like I said, I may even still chime in now and then.

Facebook is a different story. I exercise a very strict moderation policy there because I want amiability and a congenial atmosphere at almost all costs, in order to be able to share my writings, and allow discussion on them: especially for inquirers, seekers, and those considering becoming Catholics.

Acrimonious "debate" doesn't achieve those ends. Thus, you've been blocked on Facebook.

Dave Armstrong said...

I just added excerpts from a Luther sermon, starting with the words: "I found this sermon online. It dates from 1522. . . ."

Austin said...

"
I have no interest whatever in an oral debate; never have; and I have explained why, in depth, here:"

So you are choosing to decline my challenge to public debate?

If you change your mind I will be ready to accept. Consider this a standing challenge.

Dave Armstrong said...

So you are choosing to decline my challenge to public debate?

Hardly, since I made an exception to my rule of not debating anti-Catholics for this exchange. You chose to descend into silliness, rabbit trails, evasiveness, and insults (extending the latter even to my friends in the combox). Your choice.

This was a debate (or could have been, if you had stayed on topic). That is a fact. I expressed what I wanted to express, and as far as I am concerned, have established my contention beyond rational argument.

Just because you are obsessed with oral debate (precisely as your hero "Dr." [?] White is, doesn't change that fact.

I explained nine years ago why I regard written debate as vastly superior to oral debate, and why I think the latter is mostly a farce and a three-ring circus. I have stuck by that principle at all times, and will indefinitely into the future.

I turned down your hero White three times (1995, 2001, and 2007) -- he wants to debate me even though he thinks I am an idiot and an imbecile: odd! --, and you think I would do an oral debate with you?

You have forfeited your opportunity to engage in an intelligent discussion with me.

I would refuse even if I had no principled objection to oral debate (or to debate with anti-Catholics, which has been universally farcical, these past 18 years).

After your performance above, I wouldn't consider that for a half-second, as I seek to find the most able of theological opponents to interact with, not the least able and most insulting ones.

Nick Nunya said...

You know among Austin's anti-Catholic friends this is going to go down as a, "Dave Armstrong was too chicken to debate me!" chest-pounding moment for Austin. Meanwhile he was already in the middle of a debate with Dave which he chose to end because he "doesn't have time" to respond. Sigh.

Dave Armstrong said...

Exactly, Nick. I couldn't care less what these clowns do or how they interpret my words. Let them have all the fun they like, wallowing around in the mud and sewer slime.

I'm engaged in serious apologetics; presently compiling my "Quotable Eastern Church Fathers."

James White just turned down an oral debate challenge from a new Catholic convert (I documented it here). But see, if he does it, it's because he thinks the opponent is unworthy (and his word is GOSPEL TRVTH among his sycophants and idolizers).

If I do it, on the other hand, based on my estimation of the limits and flaws of an opponent, and moreover, due to the principled reasons I have expressed, it HAS to be that I am chicken and an intellectual coward. Couldn't possibly be precisely for the reasons that I make very clear.

LOL It's just a big joke. I don't care what they write about me. It's been going on for 16 years: since I had a website. It will continue to. They can't say anything that hasn't already been said (I've been insulted in almost every imaginable way).

I continue to do my work, unabated and completely unaffected by insults. Almost 2,500 website papers and 38 books . . .

And folks continue, by the many hundreds, to come into the Church, and report that my writings helped them along in their journey.

All glory to God, from Whom all gifts and good things flow.

Austin said...

So I'M the one hurling insults?? Let me remind you it was YOU who suggested I go "jump in a lake" because I acted like a "pompous a__". YOU accused me of "stupidly" quoting Hodge. But now YOU decide you're done debating "anti-Catholic" (the infantile term you refuse to let go of) so YOU should just be let off the hook.

You won't debate because you cannot answer direct questions, and you're simply not capable of performing well during cross examination (wait for the blustery ego bruised rants).

My life does not revolve around debating you Dave. And you should ask yourself, "Why does my life revolve around saving face?" That's what this entire blog post is about....YOU saving face.

Dave you are probably the only RC apologist who *won't* debate because his case is simply too strong. Why don't you just re-state and defend the unbelievably verbose case you've already made?

You're the only person I've ever met who will try to act disinterested and then in the same breath ask others to monitor my Facebook page so you can see what I'm saying about you. Don't worry, I'll tell you right here right now.

Dave, reading your posts is like watching a Chris Farley sketch. There's nothing substantively funny about it, but its so flamboyantly ridiculous that you cannot help but roll with laughter. That has been my experience from our limited engagements. So, in a way, I'm in your debt sir.

When you're ready, have one of your cronies message me on Facebook (since you've chosen to block me) and I'll be happy to debate you. A theological mind like yours should have no problem decimating a puny illiterate Protestant like me in a public debate.

So, my offer still stands. Debate me in public and prove once and for all that I'm simply not capable of engaging you in any meaningful way.

Adomnan said...

Austin, I have a suggestion for you. (No, no. Don't thank me. Please.)

Instead of debating the boring topic of whether Catholics can be Christians (according to the sixteenth-century heretics or whomever), which I've seen hashed out many times to no avail, why don't you look for someone (not me!) to engage in a debate with you about a truly pressing and perplexing question that does not get nearly the attention it deserves: Can Calvinists be Christians?

That way your impressive debating skills and amazing semiotic prowess can be put to some good use.

How about it?

Adomnan said...

Nick Nunya, concerning my argument that people, like Austin Reed, who believe in penal substition aren't Christian:

Nick: This is an argument I haven't heard before,

Adomnan: Well, I try to bring fresh perspectives rather than merely repeating the same old same old.

Nick: and I think you're painting with a rather broad brush to simply write all people who believe in penal substitution out of Christianity.

Adomnan: What I'm doing is no different in principle from your writing all people who reject the Trinity out of Christianity. We're both looking at what people mean when they speak of "God" and asking, "Is this the God of the Bible?"

Nick: It would seem you could argue this way about any Protestant teaching you didn't like: "Well, a God who would institute fake sacraments that are only symbols and don't impart grace is not the true God of the Bible, ergo people who believe in that don't believe in the true God, ergo they're not Christians." It seems to prove too much.

Adomnan: I could apply the same argumentation to your exclusion of certain people from Christianiy, to wit: "Well, a God who would institute empty 'sacraments' cannot be the Trinitarian God. Ergo, people who believe in fake sacraments don't believe in the Trinity and so are not Christians."

Now, you would of course reply that belief in merely "symbolic" sacraments doesn't necessarily imply disbelief in the Trinity. And I would concur that you're absolutely right. But I would add that neither does belief in "pretend" sacraments necessarily imply disbelief in the God of the Bible.

I restrict my critique of the concept of God held by the "penalists" to what they actually say about God and His nature, not other issues. That's where we see that they aren't Christians; i.e., they do not worship the Christian God.

Nick: As long as they can profess the Nicene Creed, historically and theologically speaking (from what I understand), these folks are Christians.

Adomnan: They don't truly believe the Nicene Creed; they just think they do. For example, when they say "I believe in God, the Father Almighty..," the "Father" they have in mind is a supposed deity who imputes others' guilt to an innocent man and punishes him to satisfy his wrath or "justice." This is not the Father of Jesus Christ and so is not the Father of the Nicene Creed.

Nick Nunya said...

Austin, you have a case of plank-in-eye disease so bad it's a wonder you don't fall over. Dave has been debating you, in public (this is a public blog, if that's news to you), for days now. You CHOSE to drop out of the debate because you "don't have time," and you claim he ignores what you say anyway, etc. Now you're coming back into the fray, trying to change the debate format into something less in-depth, and trying to play it off as though Dave has been unwilling to publicly debate you and you're the big hero with the "standing challenge" that is unanswered. If you're willing to debate then DO IT: respond to the points Dave has already made to you, right here on this blog, before you dropped out and said you were "done." If you stay on point you might actually compel Dave to respond.

Adomnan said...

Nick: I agree that a person can write themselves out of the faith via an egregious heresy, but penal substitution has never been on that list in any official Church document I've ever seen.

Adomnan: It's true that the Church hasn't focused on penal substitution, but it is rejected as a heresy. For example, St. Francis de Sales glances at the doctrine in his "Catholic Controversy," when he writes
(The Rule of Faith, Art. VIII, chapter 3): "Is it not to value more the travails of Jesus Christ when we say that a single drop of His blood suffices to ransom the world, than to say that unless He had endured the pains of the damned He would have done nothing?"

Calvin had written in his Institutes that Christ's passion and death would have amounted to nothing unless God had imputed sins to Him and damned Him for them. He also thought it was a question of the First Person of the Trinity damning the Second, because only a, well, damned God could satisfy for sin, a mere human being too paltry. (I'm sorry. A lot of this sounds blasphenous, but it is their doctrine.)

So the Church definitely rejected the idea of penal substitution. That is enough for me to make "a big deal" out of it if I choose to.

I imagine there were reasons that the Church focused on justification rather than "the atonement" in its dispute with Protestantism. (What follows is basically speculation on my part. I'm not an expert on the history of the Council of Trent.)

First of all, although the idea of penal substitutionary atonement originated in one of Luther's neurotic fantasies, the Lutherans did not actually adopt this belief in statements of faith such as the Augsburg Confession. Calvin did, however, quite explicitly, and he dogmatized it, thus making it standard Calvinist teaching. At Trent, the assembled bishops were more concerned about Lutheranism and did not want to concentrate on a doctrine that was somewhat in the background. Since then, however, it has become the bedrock on which much Evangelicalism and all Fundamentalism rest.

Secondly, if the Tridentine fathers were to single out the idea of penal substitution, they would have had to define the Catholic doctrine of the "Atonement" more precisely in contradistinction to the Protantant notion. However, there is no well-defined teaching about the "Atonement" in Catholism that is ready for precise doctrinal formulation. Trent was not going to do a "Decree on the Atonement." (I often put "atonement" in quotation marks, because it's a word that covers. or perhaps confuses, a number of discrete Biblical concepts -- expiation, reconciliation, redemption -- and is really an import from English-language, and Calvinist, discourse.)

Thus, "penal substitution has never been on that list in any official Church document I've ever seen" either. However, that's no reason to avoid making it a topic of discussion now. It's another weapon in the arsenal of arguments against anti-Catholic Fundamentalism, and a pretty effective one, at least in my opinion.

You see, when a Fundamentalist says to a Catholic, "You're not a Christian," it enables the Catholic to respond "I'm a Christian. It is you who aren't, and here is the reason." Changes the whole focus of the discussion. Believers in penal substitution become uneasy when the concept is exposed to the full light of day and shown to have no biblical basis.

Adomnan said...

Nick: Part of the problem with the discussion you're having with Austin seems to be that (maybe this is just Austin and not you) "Christian" is getting defined as "a person who's going to heaven." Strictly speaking that's not what "Christian" means. A Christian is a person who has undergone Trinitarian Baptism and adheres to the Nicene Creed.

Adomnan: I agree with your definition of "Christian," providing the baptism is valid, of course, and providing the "Christian" hasn't fallen away.

However, I conceded Austin's definition for the sake of argument. In other words, rather than haggling with Austin over the correct definition of the word "Christian," I assumed along with him that a Christian was a person who is going to heaven because he believed the right things, and then contended that Austin was not a Christian in this sense because he did not believe in the God of the Bible.

Austin says that Catholics can be Christians, but "consistent Catholics" cannot be. My position is that Calvinists can be Christians but "consistent Calvinists" cannot be.

Nick said...

“Adomnan: What I'm doing is no different in principle from your writing all people who reject the Trinity out of Christianity. We're both looking at what people mean when they speak of "God" and asking, "Is this the God of the Bible?"”
I see what you’re saying, but I reject, at this point, the idea that penal substitution is equally as egregious an error as denying, say, the deity of Christ. One can have incorrect ideas about God, or how God did or might conceivably work, while still fundamentally believing in the true God.

“Adomnan: I could apply the same argumentation to your exclusion of certain people from Christianiy, to wit: "Well, a God who would institute empty 'sacraments' cannot be the Trinitarian God. Ergo, people who believe in fake sacraments don't believe in the Trinity and so are not Christians."”

But that was precisely my point: I wouldn’t argue in that way at all. I was giving an argument analogous to the one (I think) you’re making about people who believe in penal substitution, to show that the argument proves too much. People can fundamentally believe that God is One Being in Three Divine Persons while still having other inaccurate ideas about Him or how He works in the world.

“Adomnan: Now, you would of course reply that belief in merely "symbolic" sacraments doesn't necessarily imply disbelief in the Trinity. And I would concur that you're absolutely right. But I would add that neither does belief in "pretend" sacraments necessarily imply disbelief in the God of the Bible.”

I agree, and again, that’s entirely my point. :)

“Adomnan: I restrict my critique of the concept of God held by the "penalists" to what they actually say about God and His nature, not other issues. That's where we see that they aren't Christians; i.e., they do not worship the Christian God.”

This is the crux of what you’d need to show to make your point. What is it about penal substitution that strikes to the heart of the very nature of God, such that it’s equivalent to denying the Trinity? I simply don’t see it.

Nick said...

“Adomnan: They don't truly believe the Nicene Creed; they just think they do. For example, when they say "I believe in God, the Father Almighty...This is not the Father of Jesus Christ and so is not the Father of the Nicene Creed.”

You’re reading too much, I think, into the meaning of the Creed. One doesn’t have to be free of any misunderstandings of the Father in order to profess true belief in Him. The Creed doesn’t speak to the exact nature of the atonement at all. So to pack the need to correctly understand how Christ’s death atones for our sins all into the meaning of “Father” seems to stretch things too far.

“Adomnan: It's true that the Church hasn't focused on penal substitution, but it is rejected as a heresy…So the Church definitely rejected the idea of penal substitution. That is enough for me to make "a big deal" out of it if I choose to.”

I don’t deny the idea that penal substitution is inaccurate or even outright heretical. But it’s another thing entire to say that anyone who subscribes to that idea is therefore fundamentally not a Christian. Again, the major, and undeniable, point that Dave made in this “debate” is that Baptism is the entrance rite into the true Faith. Protestants possess valid Baptism, ergo they are Christians, even if they tack on a boatload of other inaccurate stuff. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that Protestants who are born into that faith are not properly and formally referred to by the Church as “heretics,” even though they may adhere to heretical teachings, precisely because they don’t know any better.


“Adomnan: Since then, however, [penal substitution] has become the bedrock on which much Evangelicalism and all Fundamentalism rest.”

Here’s another question (and potential confound) for your idea. Earlier you acknowledged that most Protestants are, in the proper sense of the term, Christians. You were only claiming that a small, extreme fringe were outside the Faith. This is why you said that the dogmatic proclamations of the Church about the Christian status of baptized Protestants don’t apply to your position, because they’re not talking about the folks you’re talking about. But as you just pointed out, penal substitution is a view that pervades a great deal of Protestantism – as you say, “much” of Evangelicalism, “all” Fundamentalism,” and of course the original, purist form of Calvinism. What’s left, after all that? The Lutherans and the Anglicans? OK, but they’re hardly “most Protestants.” With that many people being written out of the faith by the standard you’re setting, I don’t see how you can maintain that “most Protestants” are Christians. Moreover, it would seem that if your position is channeling the mind of the Church here, and there’s this big of a rift between Protestants who are “in” and those who are “out,” the Church would point this out in its specific discussions of Protestantism. And yet the Church hasn’t done that; She has simply spoken of “Protestantism” as a general entity. This suggests that the leaders of the Church don’t have the categories in their brain that you do when examining their Protestant brothers and sisters.

Nick said...

“Adomnan: However, there is no well-defined teaching about the "Atonement" in Catholism that is ready for precise doctrinal formulation. Trent was not going to do a "Decree on the Atonement."”

Isn’t that just another excellent reason, then, why we SHOULDN’T examine one’s exact theory on how the atonement works to determine whether a person is a Christian or not? If the Church hasn’t done it, why are you doing it?

“Adomnan: You see, when a Fundamentalist says to a Catholic, "You're not a Christian," it enables the Catholic to respond "I'm a Christian. It is you who aren't, and here is the reason."

Be honest: isn't this at least in part about being able to have a good "come back," then for what anti-Catholics say? “Oh, yea, you think I’m not a Christian, you stupid Protestant? No, YOU’RE not a Christian!” The thing is, we shouldn’t be repaying evil for evil. We don’t need to spit in the faces of anti-Catholics just because they spit in ours. We don’t need to appeal to an extreme position just to make a point. I have no problem with Catholics critiquing penal substitution, but we don’t need to use that as a battering ram to “get them back” when they call us reprobates. Hope that helps clarify my perspective. Thanks for sharing yours as well!



Adomnan said...

Nick,quoting me: I restrict my critique of the concept of God held by the "penalists" to what they actually say about God and His nature, not other issues. That's where we see that they aren't Christians; i.e., they do not worship the Christian God.”

Nick, commenting on what I said: This is the crux of what you’d need to show to make your point. What is it about penal substitution that strikes to the heart of the very nature of God, such that it’s equivalent to denying the Trinity? I simply don’t see it.

Adomnan: Yes, you're right. This is the crux, showing that penal substitution strikes to the heart of the very nature of God.

Here's how I look at it: God is often depicted as a judge. In fact, much (not all) of the concept of "justification" in Paul's theology is based on how the divine Judge acquits people. The leading Catholic exegete of Paul, Fr. Joseph Fitzmyer, points out that (in the Old Testament) "dikaios, 'righteous,upright,' usually denoted a person who stood acquitted or vindicated before a judge's tribunal,...Used of Israelites, it denoted their covenantal relationship, their status of 'uprightness' achieved in the sight of Yahweh the Judge..." And in the New Testament,according to Fitzmyer, "God's uprightness is now manifested toward human beings in a just judgment..." Paul demonstrates how God, as a Judge, "is righteous (just) and justifies (acquits) the one who puts faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).

The point of all this is to underscore that being a just Judge is essential to the nature of God, as depicted in the Scriptures. It's not merely a matter of "how God did or might conceivably work" that is unrelated (or dubiously related) to His true nature.

Now, who is a just judge as defined in the Bible? Well, the OT tells us quite concretely. It's not an abstraction or a matter of conjecture. Exodus 23:7, referring to judgment, says: "Do not cause the death of the innocent or righteous, and do not justify (acquit) the guilty." Proverbs 17:15 admonishes judges: "To justify the guilty and condemn the righeous, both alike are an abomination to the Lord."

We know from the Bible what a just judge is. We don't have to speculate about it. Now, what sort of judgment does the god of penal substitution make? It's no secret: He justifies the guilty (those who are in fact guilty but are accounted righteous) and he condemns the Righteous One (Jesus Christ). Is this god God?

To sum up, God as just Judge is central to the Biblical account. His justice is inseparable from the divine nature as described by Paul based on the Old Testament. Our God must be a just Judge, the God of the Bible, not an "abomination to the Lord."

Therefore, people who believe in penal substitutionary atonement cannot be Christians.

Adomnan said...

Nick: The Creed doesn’t speak to the exact nature of the atonement at all. So to pack the need to correctly understand how Christ’s death atones for our sins all into the meaning of “Father” seems to stretch things too far.

Adomnan: I am not saying that the word "Father" in the Creed implies a particular doctrine of the atonement. However, the Father of the Creed is the Father of Jesus, about whom Jesus said, pray like this: "Our Father, who art in heaven,... forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are in debt to us." This alone shows that the Father to whom Jesus prayed could not have been the god of penal substitution, because that god does not "forgive debts" but rather exacts payment for them by punishing Jesus. (You cannot forgive a debt and be paid off at the same time.)

The Creed does not speak of the exact nature of the atonement, but it does exclude penal substitution with its very first assertion.

Nick: But as you just pointed out, penal substitution is a view that pervades a great deal of Protestantism – as you say, “much” of Evangelicalism, “all” Fundamentalism,” and of course the original, purist form of Calvinism. What’s left, after all that? The Lutherans and the Anglicans? OK, but they’re hardly “most Protestants.”

Adomnan: Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, and mainline Protestants (even if their denominations were originally Calvinist; they don't believe in that stuff anymore). I'm not sure where the Pentecostals fit in; they're all over the place and tend to prefer feel-good religion to anything doctrinaire.

As for Evangelicals, many of them have heard something like penal substitution as the gospel, but it doesn't sink in. And the teaching can be stated vaguely, e.g., "Jesus was punished for our sins," without actually asserting that the Father punished Him. Such a statement, in itself, can be given an orthodox meaning ("He was punished unjustly by wicked men, not justly by God").

Therefore, many Evangelicals, if they're Calvinists at all, are "inconsistent Calvinists" and thus may well qualify as Christians.

Really Fundamentalist Protestants, however, like Austin, who are almost invariably anti-Catholic, understand exactly what penal substitution is, believe in it ardently, and are therefore definitely not Christians.

Adomnan said...

Nick: This suggests that the leaders of the Church don’t have the categories in their brain that you do when examining their Protestant brothers and sisters.

Adomnan: True. However, the leaders of the Church actually spend very little time thinking about Protestant Fundamentalism. More domesticated kinds of Protestantism, yes, but this particularly virulent anti-Catholic variety, no.

The Vatican will dismiss them as "sects" and leave it at that. And that's fine. It's actually better for them to stay aloof from this nonsense and acrimony.

We, however, are down here in the trenches, and we can be creative in how we deal with anti-Catholic Fundamentalism. No harm in having a little fun with it either.

Nick: We SHOULDN’T examine one’s exact theory on how the atonement works to determine whether a person is a Christian or not? If the Church hasn’t done it, why are you doing it?

Adomnan: I do it because it's effective and, as I tried to show earlier, true. I don't think I'm the only Catholic out there who has doubts about the Christianity of Fundamentalist bigots. I merely articulate those doubts and give them a foundation.

As for the church leaders, they tend to be eirenic and to avoid controversy. As I said, they mostly ignore the existence of Protestant Fundamentalism, except when they have to note the activity of the sects, in Latin America, say.

I doubt that there's ever been a Vatican, or even American Bishops', statement about Jack Chick and his comics or the books of James White. Nor should there be. So we're free to wing it in dealing with these people.

Nick: Be honest: isn't this at least in part about being able to have a good "come back."

Adomnan: Honestly? Yes. You must admit, though, that dialogue with these guys is never at a very lofty level. If it occurs at all, it's generally just a matter of good comebacks. Maybe a few doctrinal issues can be cleared up for third-party observers, but that's about it. Besides, if the comeback is really good, it will shake the bigots out of their complacency.

In short, what's wrong with transforming a bigot-initiated discussion of the Christianity of Catholicism into a discussion of the Christian status of the anti-Catholic bigots themselves? That alone would raise the tone of the dialogue. Or maybe they'll march off in high dudgeon, which is fine, too.

Nick: The thing is, we shouldn’t be repaying evil for evil.

Adomnan: That's not entirely fair. While I may think my approach has rhetorical advantages, I also sincerely believe that the "penalists" are not truly Christian, for the reasons I outlined above. So I am not being "evil" about this. I'm being quite reasonable and speaking my mind.

Nick: Hope that helps clarify my perspective. Thanks for sharing yours as well!

Adomnan: You're welcome. Your perspective is clearer, and I have no issue with you feeling as you do about this subject.

For me, although I've stressed the logical difficulty with considering Protestant Fundamentalists, like Austin Reed, to be Christians, I should add that I don't "sense" they are either. To me, they have always been utterly alien in belief, and I don't feel that we share the same faith in any way.

That's just the reality of it, for me.