Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Critical Reply To De Maria On Justification

  • Introduction:
          -Recently, lay Catholic apologist De Maria responded to an objector who argued against the Roman Catholic view of how man gets saved by God. Following are his remarks in quotation form with all of my replies being in pink. Alright, shall we begin?:

"But who is the judge of true faith, you or God?"

          >>No doubt, God is the ultimate judge of the validity of our faith (2 Corinthians 5:10). However, there is a tremendous difference between merely recognizing genuine faith in God and arrogating ourselves to a position of judging ourselves as being worthy of inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ specifically said that we shall know people by people by their fruits (Matthew 7:20). We can certainly apply that principle of discernment to ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). And yes, we can have great assurance of our eternal salvation (John 5:24; 1 John 5:11-13).

"They claim faith ALONE saves. Whereas Scripture says differently."

          >>We Protestants proclaim the gospel of salvation by faith apart from the merit of all works because that is EXACTLY what Scripture affirms. What part of "not by works of righteousness" do Roman Catholics not understand (Romans 4:2-8; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:8-9; Titus 3:5-7)? Furthermore, it is vital to recognize that the Apostle Paul repeatedly mentioned the concept of meritorious works in the context of boasting throughout his epistles to the New Testament churches. He rightly did so because the works-salvation mindset provokes man's prideful nature. 

"Salvation is granted to them who OBEY Christ (Hebrews 5:9)"

          >>Obedience to the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ comes as a RESULT of salvation.

"Much less is one saved by faith ALONE (James 2:24)."

          >>The context of James 2:24 is not about justification, but rather is about how we demonstrate the reality of our faith by our good deeds. Good works are simply the EVIDENCE of a saving faith in God (James 2:18), NOT the cause of salvation. The word "justified" in this particular context best means VINDICATED or PROVEN, and is used in the same manner elsewhere in Scripture.

"But, for the most part, they (Protestants) deny the Catholic Teaching and call it blasphemous."
           >>Well, that's because Roman Catholic doctrine IS blasphemous.

"First, faith, if it is accompanied by the fruits it produces, is not alone..."

           >>Remember, works are the product of salvation by faith, not the cause. The moment that the repentant man gets saved by faith is the moment that Jesus Christ begins to transform him into a holier person. Converted individuals are "a new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are created in Him for the purpose of good works (Ephesians 2:10). In short, works come as a result of faith, which is the moment of salvation. THAT is how good works accompany faith.

"Second, true faith produces good works and salvation follows (James 2:14)."

           >>Never does Scripture teach, "Works follow faith AND THEN salvation follows." The Bible teaches that the performance of good works occurs as a RESULT of salvation, not the cause. It almost seems as if De Maria has his "theological underwear" placed on backwards! Furthermore, the New American Bible, an official translation approved by the Church of Rome, emphatically translates the question posed in James 2:14 as, "Can THAT faith save him?" This is rather supportive of the "faith alone" position, for the addition of the implied "that" lends support to the interpretation that the inspired writer James was combating the error of using Paul's teaching on justification as an excuse for participation in sin or being negligent of Christian duties. Again, it is clear that James does not argue against salvation by faith alone, but rather argues against a salvation that is devoid of good works.

"Scripture tells you what else is needed. Baptism (Mark 16:16). And after, Confession (Heb 13:17) and throughout your life, good works (Matt 25:31-46). Do you take one verse and discard the rest of the Gospel?"

           >>Is De Maria actually serious in interpreting the Scripture passages that he just cited above in the manner that he just did? 

           >>In Mark 16:16, Jesus only condemned the unbelieving. In fact, He did not even say that baptism was necessary for salvation in the Mark verse. 
           >>Hebrews 13:17 simply talks about submission to godly, biblically appointed leaders of the church, not confession to a priest! This verse is not even talking about the confession of sin.               
           >>Concerning Matthew 25:31-46, the context is all about faithfulness to the will of God, not justification. The works mentioned in the text from the Gospel According to Matthew offer descriptions for various states of the human heart, not prescribed as criteria for salvation. As with all biblical scenarios of the final judgment, God looks at people's works because they are the evidence of what is in their hearts by faith.
           >>Salvation as presented by the biblical gospel is NOT works-based (John 20:30-31). 
           >>While De Maria claims that salvation is determined on the basis of faith AND works, Scripture teaches that mankind can only be saved on the basis of faith OR by works (Romans 11:6). But Scripture teaches that we are saved by FAITH, apart from the merit of all works. Sorry De Maria, but you can't have it both ways!