Monday, August 6, 2018

Answering Catholic Apologist De Maria's Illogical Protests Against Sola Fide

  • Discussion:
          -Catholic apologist De Maria wrote a rebuttal on his blog to a comment that I left in response to his quibbles on one of my articles expressing disagreement with Calvinism. He complains about my belief in justification by faith, apart from the merit of works, saying that I have adopted a Calvinist doctrine. Quite frankly, this occasion illustrates just how far some followers of the Roman Catholic Church will go in order to substantiate their works-based theology. 

          "Unfortunately for Jesse, he doesn't realize that Protestant doctrine logically leads to Calvinist thinking. Calvin did not come up with these things in a vaccuum. The groundwork was already laid down by Luther."

          But I am neither Calvinist nor Lutheran. I am non-denominational. So I do not see how De Maria could rightly associate me with such theological ideologies. As for the Reformers, they did some good things and some bad things. They made errors, like we all do. My intention here is not to defend these people.

          De Maria is indeed correct that the French Theologian John Calvin did not develop his TULIP systematic in a vacuum, in that he was heavily influenced by the early mystic Augustine. Even Calvin himself confessed this in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. Calvinists are Protestants, but that does not mean all Protestants are Calvinists. To illustrate the point using mathematical language: rectangles are squares but not all squares are rectangles.

          Interestingly, a number of Lutherans do not subscribe to double predestination. They teach that salvation is obtained by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. A number of Lutherans believe that it is possible for a person to lose salvation. Lutheran soteriology is between Calvinism and Arminianism. There is simply no evidence supporting the idea that rejecting Romish dogma leads to Calvinistic thinking. This Roman Catholic apologist's slanderous argumentation only displays his deafening ignorance of the subject matter being discussed at hand.

          "If good works have nothing to do with salvation, then double predestination must be true. Double predestination is the idea that God creates some people for hell and some for heaven. And, according to that Protestant teaching, there's nothing people can do to change what God has ordained."

          De Maria's train of reasoning attempting to demonstrate my theology to be fallacious is nothing more than a false dilemma. There is no logical connection here. His ideas do not follow. To argue that in order to believe in Sola Fide also requires belief in unconditional election has no basis in reality. It is painfully obvious that this Roman Catholic apologist monstrously distorts the belief systems of other Christians. The place that good works have in the Christian walk is that they serve as evidence of a saving faith.

          The reason we cannot merit eternal salvation with God in heaven is that we have fallen short of His glory. Mankind is under condemnation due to having a stained record. We need the perfect righteousness of Christ and His atonement in order to be saved. We are redeemed in the Lord Christ Jesus alone (Galatians 3:8-9). But that has nothing to do with some predetermined decree by God. If De Maria cannot grasp these vital spiritual truths, then he has a dangerously lacking view of Christ and His gospel.

          "Your conclusion that salvation is not merit based is illogical since you believe that one must have faith in order to be saved. Faith is a meritorious work in God's eyes."

           If faith is a work, then why did the inspired writers of the New Testament repeatedly distinguish between faith and works? See these articles for further details:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/07/does-rejection-of-calvinism-mean-that.html

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2019/11/refuting-roman-catholic-apologist-de.html

           Now, De Maria may run to the text of John 6:28-29 and say something to the effect of, "See! I told you that faith is a work." But this would only be pitting Scripture against Scripture, since it clearly tells us that justification is an unmerited gift of God. Jesus was not affirming faith to be a work, but rather instructing performance-oriented Jews that they need to believe on Him in order to receive eternal salvation.

           Justification is either obtained by grace or by works (Romans 11:6). It cannot be both, which automatically disqualifies the Catholic position. There is nothing meritorious about salvation being obtained by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

           De Maria said the following in response to my brief comments on his usage of Romans 2 as supporting justification by faith and works:

           "They were justified BY GOD because they did good deeds. Look at the previous 12 verses...Exactly! God looks at our works in judgment in order to determine if they are meritorious."

           Romans 2:1-12 does not teach justification by works. Rather, it contrasts between the people who are changed by the grace of God and those who refuse to live according to the truth of the gospel. It presents God as the judge who rewards everybody according to their deeds. Romans 2 is part of a developing argument.

           On Judgement Day, every man shall be rewarded according to his deeds. God looks at our works in judgement because they are the evidence of what is in our hearts. They are not prescribed as criterion for salvation, but rather offer descriptions of who was faithful or unfaithful to God. Works are the evidence, not the cause, of justification. It is not as though God has provided a specific list of things we need to do in order to be saved.

           The context which addresses how one is made right with God is Romans chapters three through five, and it says not by works of righteousness which we have done. Additionally, it is strange how De Maria acts like we have never debated the subject before, but he knows better. See our last exchange on Sola Fide:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/05/a-refutation-of-falsehoods-propagated.html

           See also one of our exchanges on Sola Scriptura:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/09/refuting-de-maria-on-roman-catholicism.html

           De Maria claims that I have taken Romans 3:27-28 out of context, but an honest look will prove such an accusation to be false:

           "because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." (Romans 3:20-28)

           "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” (Romans 4:2-8)

           These texts plainly rule out the idea of meriting salvation on the basis of human efforts, even during the Old Testament because the Apostle Paul cites Abraham and King David as examples of people being justified in the sight of God. Justification is not accomplished through baptism, sacraments, church attendance, or by any other works. It is by grace through faith in God. If such a proposition were false, then the Apostle Paul must also be quite an incompetent minister, since he never mentions the various requirements for salvation in this crucial context.

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