Monday, January 21, 2019

The Intellectual Sophistry Of Roman Catholic Apologists

  • Discussion:
          -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled Is sinfulness what prevents "Works" from saving us?, providing evangelistic tips for fellow Catholics to use in dialogues with non-Catholics on the subject of Sola Fide ("faith alone"). This critique begins with a quote from the author:

          "First, the Catholic must understand that, in the Protestant mind, man is absolutely saved by his own works apart from faith and God's grace, but because of sin man is now unable to save himself and must have Jesus do those works for man in man's place. Human works alone (apart from faith and grace) are still what save us in the Protestant mind, the only thing that changes is that now Jesus does that work in man's place."

          It is an indisputable fact that the Law of God demands perfect obedience. If there was no sin, then there would be no need for God to show forgiveness, as there would be no spiritual corruption in the first place. There would be no need to speak of "getting saved", as everything would already be functioning in a perfect order. But the fall of man has brought about sin and thus condemnation. God has voluntarily paid an infinite sin debt on our behalf because of His love for us. He saved us because He is gracious.

          "This is completely contrary to the Catholic understanding of salvation, in which man can only be saved by faith and grace, never by his own works no matter how good those works are."

          The fact that works are added to the equation of salvation in Roman Catholicism proves that the Roman Catholic view on justification is indeed works-based. The concepts of purgatory and the treasury of merit further render the claims of the author unconvincing. In Roman Catholic theology, God gives grace through baptism, which itself is a work, so that man can perform good works to merit more grace and salvation.

          Next, the author quotes Romans 4:1-3, Galatians 3:10-12, Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 3:4-7, and Titus 3:4-5. Then, he also goes on to say the following:

          "Without going into detail on each of these passages, notice that in the 'plain reading' of these texts, there is no mention of the works in question being 'tainted by sin'. In fact, such a reading would make these texts nonsensical. The only reason given for why works don't save is to prevent boasting. That's it."

          The texts that the author mentions are quite straightforward, in that they say our works cannot save us. We are saved because God is forgiving and compassionate. He is literally reaching out to helpless mankind because of His love. We are not deserving of His salvation. If we could make amends for our own sin, then why did Christ need to come? How many works must we do in order to enter the kingdom of God? The reason that boasting must be excluded from justification is that it would be wrong for us to take credit for God's work.

          The Bible tells us that the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness and ungodliness (Romans 1:18). We have all sinned against Him. We all have a stained record. Therefore, we have all incurred His wrath and judgement. But Jesus Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice to appease that wrath. He is our propitiation (Romans 3:24-25; 1 John 2:1-2). The Law is what makes us conscious of sin (Romans 7:7). It condemns us. Christ obeyed the Law perfectly in our place (Romans 8:1-4). He took our punishment. We have redemption through Christ's blood (Ephesians 1:7-8). We are purified by placing our trust in His work. He is our reconciliation. Salvation is gift from God. His grace is unmerited.

          "Now it is true that the "works" Paul has in mind are "Works of the [Mosaic] Law," which are the 613 individual Commandments found in the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), centered around the Ten Commandments. But even this doesn't change anything, because keeping the Law never did save."

          We can agree with the author that nobody was saved by keeping the Law. Justification has never been by works. Nonetheless, the contexts of Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 nowhere limit "works" as exclusively referring to the Mosaic Law. That is not what the Apostle Paul said. We are justified by faith, apart from the merit of any and all good works. It would be wise for the author to stop spewing off falsehood.

          "And it is true that all men come into this world dead in sin and separated from God, but even that's not the point behind Paul's repeated 'works don't save' statements."

          It would be proper for me to allow the reader to decide who has a more reasonable interpretation of Scripture by citing one of those "not by works" verses that the author alludes to in context:

          "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9)

          If the "works" spoken of in Ephesians 2:8-9 are a reference to the works of the Mosaic Law, then why not interpret Ephesians 2:10 in the same fashion (created in Christ Jesus for good works of the Mosaic Law)?

          "Protestants think you are worthy of Eternal Life upon being Justified, but that's not what Paul teaches. In reality, Justification and being Judged worthy of Eternal Life happen at two different times in a person's life - and to confuse the two events and turn them into one event the way Protestants do is a huge mistake."

          So, a person who is justified in the sight of God is not necessarily entitled to heaven? That statement is ridiculous, as well is it illogical. If an individual is converted to Christianity and one day later just so happens to die in a vehicle accident, would he or she not be allowed into the kingdom of God at that point? Was that person not saved? Is that person automatically going to hell for potentially not getting a chance to greet a neighbor or feed the poor?

1 comment:

  1. "First, the Catholic must understand that, in the Protestant mind, man is absolutely saved by his own works apart from faith and God's grace, but because of sin man is now unable to save himself and must have Jesus do those works for man in man's place. Human works alone (apart from faith and grace) are still what save us in the Protestant mind, the only thing that changes is that now Jesus does that work in man's place."

    I have never read, nor have I ever heard, ANY protestant or non-Catholic Christian even suggest what Nick is saying here. He just made this up out of whole cloth! No one would ever suggest that we could ever save ourselves by our works, and to suggest such an idea is stupid. And I'll bet Nick complains about non-Catholics misrepresenting Catholicism.

    ReplyDelete