Monday, August 6, 2018

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

  • Discussion:
          -De Maria apparently does not understand how one can believe in Sola Fide and not also be a Calvinist. Following are a handful of excerpts from his polemic alongside with a critique:

          "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 theologies. As for the Reformers, they did some good things and also made mistakes. They made errors, just like the rest of us. 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 justification 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 Roman Catholic dogma leads to Calvinistic thinking.

          "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. His ideas are not logically connected or do not follow. To argue that in order to believe in Sola Fide also requires belief in unconditional election has no basis in reality. The place that good works have in the Christian walk is that they serve as evidence of a heart regenerated by the Spirit of God.

          Mankind is under condemnation due to having a stained record. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. 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? If "faith" is to be understood as "faithfulness," then it would not make sense for Paul to add the qualifier "working through love" to "faith" in Galatians 5:6.

           Someone may point to John 6:28-29 as biblical evidence for the idea that faith is meritorious. But that would only be pitting Scripture against Scripture, since it clearly tells us 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 place their trust in Him in order to be saved from the sin and condemnation.

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

           "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 contrasts between the people who are changed by the grace of God and those who have not been changed by His grace. Romans 2 presents God as the judge who rewards everybody according to their deeds. This passage is part of a developing argument. The context which addresses how one is made right with God is Romans chapters three through five.

           "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 justification in this crucial context. The constant emphasis of this context is faith.

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