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February 17, 2009 / vivator

Infused righteousness versus imputed righteousness – which one entitles us to enter heaven?

There is still on-going discussion on infused righteousness (Catholic position) and imputed righteousness (Protestant/Reformer position).  Rev. Chase Sears of Reformed Baptist Church wrote a number of posts on this issue in his blog (http://chasesears.info/) – he already closed his blog.  It is quite natural (and he is entitled to do so) that he tried his best to defend Protestant’s position and tuned down that of Catholic.

Imputed righteousness means we use Christ’ righteousness accepted by faith alone to cover our unrighteousness – in other words we do not contribute anything and we are declared righteous.  It is like Christ covers our dirty robe (the dirt represents our sins) with his spotless robe and He needs to do it only once.  Infused righteousness, on the other hand, means God through Christ helps us to become righteous.  Note that the source of righteousness is God, not us, yet the outcome of justification is we become righteous.  Using similar analogy of dirty robe representing our sin, in infused righteousness God through Christ helps us to clean our dirty robe.  This needs our cooperation and it is an on-going process.  Our dirty robe is first washed clean through (Sacrament of) Baptism. Whenever we make it dirty again through sinning, God through Christ helps us to clean it through (Sacrament of) Reconciliation.  When we die with our robe still stained with venial sin then purgatory will cleanse it.    Imputed righteousness concept cannot go inline with purgatory – purgatory makes what Christ did (covering our dirty robe) insufficient.

Which righteousness entitles us to enter heaven? In Matthew 25:31-46 the sheep are welcomed into heaven while the goats are sent to hell  Verse 46 boldly says that the righteous will go to eternal life.  Are they declared righteous or made righteous (hence are righteous)?  Verses 35 and 36 tell us that they did righteous acts, i.e. they did not use Christ’ righteousness to cover their unrighteousness or to make their unrighteous things appear righteous (before God).   1 John 3:8 defines righteousness as “He who does right is righteous, as he [Christ] is righteous”.   Certainly to believe in Christ is one act that leads to righteousness – but it is not the only one.  The phrase “He who does right” implies our cooperation. The goats are condemned to hell because they did not do righteous acts or they are not unrighteous (1 Corinthians 6:9).  They are not declared unrighteous but they are indeed unrighteous.

The reason why Protestants are against infused righteousness is they view it as work-based justification, in contradiction to their concept of faith alone justification.  Catholics do not believe in working on or earning our justification either.   God’s Grace always first moves us to do righteous acts, be they believe in Christ, love one another, repenting etc.  This means without His Grace we can neither do them nor even have the initiative to do them.  Protestants, while insist on justification by faith alone, at the end of the day have to admit that faith that justifies is not alone as what Rev. Sears, quoting from Calvin, wrote below (emphasis added):

Calvin said, “When we say a man is justified by faith alone, we do not fancy a faith devoid of charity, but we mean that faith alone is the cause of justification.” Again Calvin makes this remarkable statement “I wish the reader to understand that as often as we mention Faith alone in this question, we are not thinking of a dead faith, which worketh not by love, but holding faith to be the only cause of justification. It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone.”

For more information about Justification from both Catholic and Protestant position, read my page: https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/223/

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37 Comments

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  1. Gil Garcia / May 20 2009 1:30 pm

    I agreed with John Calvin, over against the Coucil of Trent and the Roman Church or the Pope.

  2. Roger / Oct 31 2009 9:23 pm

    What a novel idea: quoting Calvin himself to argue against his own view of justification. Calvin apparently was not a Calvinist, but a closet Roman Catholic! Your argument is a textbook example of an edifice built upon sand: the “edifice” being Calvin’s (& Luther’s, and the Reformers’, and “Bible-only’s”) unwitting acceptance of the Roman Catholic view of justification, and your “sand” is equivocation, where you slide from one meaning of “faith alone” to an entirely other meaning.

    When Calvin, Luther, and the Reformers say “a faith that is not alone” they never veered from “grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone.”
    When YOU say “faith alone” you mean the initial grace of God alone coupled with the cooperating works of the believer. To conflate the two views and suggest that the Reformers and other “Bible-only” believers are closet Catholics is ignorance at best and deception at worst.

    It’s the difference between what happens AFTER justification and what is REQUIRED FOR justification. Think of what it’s like to be given a billion dollars versus a joint-venture to become a billionaire.

    The issue is kept cleaner if we speak of whose righteousness is more efficacious: mine or Christ’s? If it is Christ’s, how is His righteousness applied to me? 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
    Romans 4:8 “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count (reckon, or impute) his sin.” Who is the man of verse 8? None other than the man in verse 6: “just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works.”
    Give me this Biblical idea of imputation any day over the Catholic idea of imputation (by the transfer and reckoning of merit from the treasury of merit).
    R.C. Sproul spoke on the topic of Imputation at the Ligonier Ministries 2008 National Conference, Evangelism According to Jesus. From my understanding, someone from the Vatican was streaming it online during the conference.

    • Jeremy / Nov 8 2011 8:09 am

      Roger.. the author never said that Calvin was a closet Catholic. You put words into his mouth. The reason the author brought Calvin up is because he says “Faith alone justifies.. but faith without works is dead.” You might as well just say it that works are necessary for salvation! Come on man! Where do you draw the line? It’s like saying “Gas is not necessary to drive my car, but without gas, my car will not drive.”

      All of your comments so far reek of straw-men arguments and an unjustified arrogance on your part. Until you learn to see things objectively, and with a spirit of humility, you will not learn anything.

      • Jeph / Apr 5 2012 5:10 pm

        Calvin never taught that works are necessary for Salvation. What St. James (and Calvin) meant when he said “faith without works is dead”, according to context, is that mere profession of faith (i.e. “you say that God is one” v. 19, *which is a Jewish creed) does not bring you any good. If you claim to have faith, you should be bearing fruits consequent to that faith you claim to have. Now if you claim to have faith but do not have works (“show me your faith without works, and I’ll show you my faith by my works”) – it becomes evident that the faith you claim to have is just in your head. It’s not the kind of faith which justifies. It is dead. Not that it died due to lack of works; but that the reason it does not bear works is that it is in the first place dead!

        All reformers teach that works aren’t necessary for attaining the grace of Salvation. Whenever they say that “the faith that justifies is never alone”, they do not mean that faith would not justify until it is coupled with works. What they mean is that the kind of faith which justifies always lead to a new life in Christ – or good works. To put it in order, Abraham was justified by grace through faith LONG BEFORE he worked (Rom. 4), but later on he eventually evinced that he was truly justified when he worked (James 2).

      • vivator / Apr 7 2012 9:39 pm

        Jeph,
        Let me ask you this question. If a person has faith in Christ but does not show the fruits of his faith will he be saved? If the answer is no then faith alone does not save. Luther candidly admitted it when he wrote:
        Works are necessary to salvation, but they do not cause salvation, because faith alone gives life. On account of the hypocrites we must say that good works are necessary to salvation. It is necessary to work. Nevertheless, it does not follow that works save on that account, unless we understand necessity very clearly as the necessity that there must be an inward and outward salvation or righteousness. Works save outwardly, that is, they show evidence that we are righteous and that there is faith in a man which saves inwardly, as Paul says, “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” [Romans 10:10]. Outward salvation shows faith to be present, just as fruit shows a tree to be good.
        Luther: The Disputation Concerning Justification, from Luther’s Works Vol. 34, page 135

      • Jeph / Apr 8 2012 2:59 pm

        Vivator,

        For God’s sake! Are you reading with your lights on? Where in that statement from Luther did he say that works are necessary for Salvation in the Catholic sense?

        Notice what he says there. He says that works saves us only “outwardly”, that is, it showcases our faith and inward Salvation, which means we work because we are already saved (inwardly) – not that we are inwardly saved because of works.

        Protestants teach that we are justified (Greek, dikaioo) in God’s sight only through faith, without works, as is perfectly clear in Romans 4:1-6. Abraham was counted as righteous in God’s sight through faith, before he even worked. This is the inward salvation which Luther walks about in that statement of his.

        Now, the Bible also tells us that years after Abraham’s experience of gratitious justification, he was evinced to be righteous (Greek, dikaioo) in OUR SIGHT – not God’s – when he offered Isaac to God, as indicated in James 2:22-23 according to its context. This is the outward salvation referred to by Luther.

        We are saved, inwardly, that is deemed worthy before God, through faith alone.
        But we are saved, outwardly, that is deemed righteous before men, through works.

      • vivator / Apr 13 2012 9:21 pm

        Jeph,

        Luther clearly wrote “works are necessary for salvation” – it is crystal clear statement. It is you who tried to soften his views. If true saving faith must show its fruit in good works then the one that does not is false faith and non-saving one. You still deny that works are not necessary?

  3. vivator / Oct 31 2009 10:04 pm

    Dear Roger,
    According to your interpretaion then what Paul wrote contradicts Matthew 25:31-46 and 1 John 3:8.

  4. Roger / Nov 1 2009 11:14 pm

    With all due respect, I don’t think you know what a contradiction is. These verses support my case.

    • vivator / Nov 4 2009 9:17 pm

      Dear Roger,
      With all due respect, you don’t know what you are talking. You insisted, quoting from those verses, that the only required righteousness to enter heaven is the one that comes through faith, i.e. when you believe in Christ as personal Lord and Saviour or mostly known as born again experience. If read Matthew 25:31-40, did Christ tell the sheep/the Elect that they inherit the kingdom simply because they believe in Him as Lord and Saviour?

  5. Roger / Nov 5 2009 8:25 pm

    Hi Vivator,
    I believe your initial claim is that Matt 25:31-40 contradicts Paul:

    2 Cor 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” and
    Romans 4:8 “BLESSED is the man against whom the Lord will not count (reckon, or impute) his sin.”
    Romans 4:6 “just as David also speaks of the BLESSING of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works.”

    I maintain these passages are perfectly consistent with the Reformed (monergistic) view of justification.

    Let’s have a look:
    Matthew 25:31 – “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and HE WILL SEPARATE people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And HE WILL PLACE THE SHEEP ON HIS RIGHT, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, YOU WHO ARE BLESSED by my Father, INHERIT THE KINGDOM PREPARED FOR YOU BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.”

    What it means:
    There WILL be a judgement.
    God is sovereign: HE does the choosing.
    HE will choose between the sheep and the goats.
    The sheep HE will BLESS.
    The BLESSED will inherit the Kingdom.
    The Kingdom is prepared for the blessed sheep BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.

    Verses 35 to 40 go on to describe the BLESSED SHEEP.

    The blessing to the “sheep” (Matt. 25:32) consists of their inheritance of the Father’s kingdom, given not as a reward for good works but because of their saving relationship with the Father and the Son.

    Could not a man or woman of good conscience come to the same conclusion?

  6. vivator / Nov 5 2009 9:38 pm

    Dear Roger,
    You wrote “The blessing to the “sheep” (Matt. 25:32) consists of their inheritance of the Father’s kingdom, given not as a reward for good works but because of their saving relationship with the Father and the Son” Christ did not say that, unless you put your words in His mouth. Catholics do believe that our good works do not deserve reward. When God rewards us, which He does, it is a gift from Him.

    • Jeph / Apr 5 2012 5:19 pm

      I think you have no idea what differs a gift from a reward.

      Rewards are given as recompense to what has been done. Romans 2:6 says, “God will reward every man according to his works.” Now reward is essentially different from a gift in that gift is given freely and not according to works. “Now to him that works, his reward is reckoned not according to grace, but according to debt” (Rom. 4:4).

  7. Roger / Nov 9 2009 11:53 am

    The bible doesn’t say there is a trinity either, or that Christ had two legs for that matter.
    My goodness, I wonder how much Catholic dogma you’d lose if you stuck to your own advice “Christ did not say that.”

    Nevertheless my interpretation is consistent with the preceding verses and with the whole of Scripture, and does not cause me to perform theological gymnastics with passages like these, to name a few:
    Romans 4:4-8

    4 “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
    5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
    6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

    7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
    8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

    Not to mention the entire book of Galatians, especially chapter 3 which begins:

    1. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
    2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
    4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
    5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

    Finally, your comment: “Catholics do believe that our good works do not deserve reward. When God rewards us, which He does, it is a gift from Him.” Here I encourage you to inhale deeply of Romans 4:4 from above.

    • George Zwierzchowski / Apr 11 2014 1:19 pm

      “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8″But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” revelations 21

      It would seem that sin is still sin acording to Christ.

  8. Jim / Mar 20 2011 6:07 am

    I am a Catholic who is tired of Catholics denying that we do work for a reward!. They are so afraid of protestants accusing us of pelagian “works righteousness” that they fail to put forth what the Church actually says about merit. We do not merit initial justification although good works are often a disposing for that same justification ( don’t confuse this with semi-pelagianism).
    Once justifeid, made a temple of the Holy Ghost, an adopted son, made a partaker in the Divine nature, etc. etc. we are most certainly in a position to MERIT. And we had better do good works or we don’t get the final justification at the pearly gates.
    God has made a promise to reward our good works. He keeps His promise.
    God has promised to reward His sons. Hirelings don’t get the familial reward but adopted sons do.
    As St. Paul says,neither the faith to move mountains nor natural do-gooderism apart from CHARITY merits anything. But once infused with sanctifying grace and Charity, we do most certainly work for a reward! Our works must have a supernatural motive to merit. Even fear of hell is such a motive.
    Read romans 2;7.
    Still, final perseverance in grace and good works in something we must constantly pray and work for. If we stop doing good works we will start doing bad works. The earn us hell. Eternal life is both a gift and a reward. The wages of sin is death.
    Please fellow Catholics, quit wimping out and boldly profess our faith. amen

  9. vivator / Mar 20 2011 11:34 am

    Hi Jim,
    Thank you for your comment. We do merit reward from good works but our merits are gift from God – it is not something we deserve, i.e. is not like meriting our salary through our job. You can read what I wrote on this subject at this post:

    https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/merits-in-catholicism/

    Also on my post on Justification: Contrasting Catholic and Protestant’s position, which you can access at the top of the blog

  10. Jeph / Feb 1 2012 1:11 pm

    F.Y.I., Viva… Protestant Justification is not just a cover-up for sins. It is an actual putting away of sins. Christ didn’t just cover their guilt with His righteousness, He actually washes them away with His blood. God no longer remembers them.

    Once again, you failed to represent accurately the historical Protestant position.

    • vivator / Feb 6 2012 9:25 pm

      Pls read my page at https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/223-2/
      In short according to Reformers Justification is one-time event where the righteousness of Christ through faith is imputed on us. What happens after faith is not part of Justification. Thus John Calvin believed that through Baptism all sins (past, present and future) are forgiven but Baptism is not part of Reformer definition of Justification.

      • Jeph / Apr 5 2012 5:24 pm

        Vivator,

        That Protestants believe in Justification via imputation of righteousness is already given. What I disagree with, however, is your claim that Protestant justification is just a cover-up for sins as if they don’t believe in the forgiveness and washing away of sins.

        This is simply not true. Again, I don’t want to think that you do these misrepresentations on purpose, but please get your facts straight. Thank you.

        P.S.
        Calvin didn’t teach that Baptism washes away all sins (past, present, and future). He didn’t hold to any form of baptismal regeneration. FYI.

      • vivator / Apr 7 2012 9:48 pm

        Jeph,
        Please read my post on comparing justification in Catholicism and Protestantism at
        https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/223-2/
        In short to the Reformers justification is one-time event where we use Christ’ righteousness to cover our unrighteousness. What happens afterwards is not part of justification.
        Do not confuse baptism for forgiveness of sins and baptism of regeneration – they are not the same. Calvin did believe that through Baptism all sins (past, present and future) are forgiven. You may read his own words at Institute of Christian Religion Book 4 Chapter 15. He did reject Baptism can erase original sin.

  11. Jeph / Feb 1 2012 1:17 pm

    One more thing, when Calvin stated that “we are justified by faith alone, but by that kind of faith which is never alone” – he is simply saying that as far as the attaining of justification is concerned, faith alone suffices as means, but this faith always produces works as evidence of a genuine conversion. These works always accompanies faith in the life of the justified, but it doesn’t contribute to the attaining or maintenance of justification once received by faith.

    • vivator / Feb 6 2012 9:22 pm

      Yes, I do know that and am aware of Calvin’s view. You may read the following:
      https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/223-2/

      • jephrbny / Apr 6 2012 2:21 pm

        If you knew what Calvin teaches on these matters, why misrepresent him on many points? I’ve seen you do that plenty of times as I read through this website, mind you.

      • vivator / Apr 7 2012 10:18 pm

        Before you accused me of misinterpreting Calvinism read the following post at
        https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/223-2/
        All my statement on Protestantism are based on those made by Luther, Calvin, Berkhof and Sproul – check all the end-notes. For your convenience you can download the article as pdf file (which you can print, if you wish).

      • Jeph / Apr 8 2012 2:43 pm

        I’m not merely accusing you of maligning Calvin. When you claimed that when Calvin said “we are justified by faith alone, but with the kind of faith which is never alone” he in effect betrays the very essence of sola fide, you are evidently maligning him.

        As I explained above, Calvin teaches that justification is attained through faith alone, without needing works. But he also clarifies (and I perfectly agree with him on this point), that saving faith always leads to a transformed life. Therefore, faith is never alone, as far as Chritian life is concerned. But in justification, faith suffices as means apart from the works it would soon produce as a consequence of being saved by grace.

      • vivator / Apr 13 2012 9:36 pm

        Let me repeat my question, if faith does not produce works, will that person be saved or not? You mention transformed life – If the person sometimes produces good works, sometime he returns to his old way and the cycle repeats, will he be saved? This is not hypothetical case.

      • Jeph / Apr 14 2012 9:18 am

        Don’t you want to talk about your deliberate MISREPRESENTATION of Calvin anymore?

      • vivator / Apr 14 2012 9:50 am

        Read what I wrote on comparing Justification in Catholicism and Protestantism and let me know which point(s) I misinterpret your belief. In the past I did revise that post based on inputs from my readers.
        Why don’t you answer the question I raised? If you want to have discussion or dialogue it must be two way – eventually I won’t tolerate one way discussion because it is interrogation, not discussion.

      • FourFingersBackAtYou / Apr 23 2012 3:16 pm

        Pleased to do so.
        You ask for proof of where you misrepresent Calvinism…
        Below are instances of where you misrepresent not only Calvinism, but Calvin, Berkhof, the Canons of Dordt, and the Westminster Confession. Starting with your comparison of Catholicism and Protestantism https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/223-2/ – which has a number of problems ranging from the trivial (it’s “depraved,” not “deprived”) to the severe. Here is but one of these severe problems, under the heading ‘Predestination’ where you write:

        “In Calvinism (monergism) God chose unconditionally from eternity the Elect whom He will regenerate (monergistically) and consequently will be saved. Those He chose from eternity not to be regenerated (also unconditionally), or the Reprobate, will end up in hell. This is known as double predestination…”

        No, that is known as ‘(single) predestination,’ not double predestination which is a gross misrepresentation of Calvinism. This egregiously wrong definition of Calvinism makes God the author of sin and One who “positively” predestines the damned, a view that is denied by Luther, Calvin, Berkhof, and Sproul, the Westminster Confession, and the Canons of Dort. A careful look at the corpus of their work proves them in the ‘passive reprobation’ camp, or ‘infralapsarian,’ or ‘(single) predestinatarian’: that God actively saves the elect, but only passively “passes by” man in his sinful nature.

        That is a tad different than your assertion: “In both Positive and Negative Unconditional Reprobation God is behind the Reprobate’s damnation. In contrast Catholic position makes the Reprobate responsible for their damnation…”

        God knew from eternity that all men would fall to sin and thus reprobation – from these He predestined some to be regenerated. No Catholic is going to deny the fall, or The Council of Trent’s fifth session on Original Sin (#1) for that matter. The reprobate are always “responsible for their damnation.”

        The Catholic Encyclopedia is more charitable on this than you:
        “Even on so strictly Calvinistic a soil as Holland, Infralapsarianism, i.e. the connexion of reprobation with original sin, gained ground.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12376b.htm

        You continue:
        “… double predestination, which some, like R.C. Sproul, believe to be non- symmetric, i.e. He does actively predestine the Elect to salvation but passively bypasses the rest from being regenerated [58], i.e. they remain in their totally deprived [sic] state, the state of all mankind after the Fall.”

        Please note: “Non-symmetric” double predestination is what everyone else in the world calls “predestination,” which is a “(single) predestination” or “infralapsarianism.”

        The Synod of Dort also affirmed a passive, single predestination, or “infralapsarianism,” and condemned “double predestination.” And the Canons of Dort I hasten to add, provide a more authoritative summation of Luther and Calvin than what you or Rome can provide.

        You end with:
        “[The] Westminster Confession of Faith, on the other hand, seems to indicate active unconditional reprobation [59].”

        No it doesn’t. “…seems to indicate” is a weasel clause. Your own reference [59] from the Westminster Confession states the passive implications of predestination.
        Nevertheless, why not use this reference from the Westminster Confession:
        Chapter III:
        “I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]”

        Even Wikipedia does a fairer job of defining Calvinist ‘predestination’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predestination_(Calvinism)

        Perhaps your problem stems from Rome’s mischaracterization of Calvinism:
        “But from all eternity God has also made a decree not less absolute whereby he has positively predestined the non-elect to eternal torments. God can accomplish this design only by denying to the reprobate irresistibly efficacious graces and impelling their will to sin continually, thereby leading them slowly but surely to eternal damnation.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12376b.htm

        Elsewhere in this blog, you attempt to recruit Berkhof to your wrong view of Calvinism because he happens to use the word “positive” in this passage:
        “The positive side of reprobation is so clearly taught in Scripture as the opposite of election that we cannot regard it as something purely negative.” Pg 116, Systematic Theology, Berkhof.

        But one must be careful not to assume from this that Berkhof is describing “positive” reprobation, as Berkhof clarifies himself a page later in his Systematic Theology:
        “Preterition is purely passive, a simple passing by without any action on man, but condemnation is efficient and positive. Those who are passed by are condemned on account of their sin.”

        “God’s decree undoubtedly rendered the entrance of sin into the world certain [“positive” to use Vivator’s language], but He did not predestinate some unto sin, as He did others unto holiness. And as the holy God He cannot be the author of sin. The position which Calvin takes on this point in his Institutes is clearly indicated in the following deliverances found in
        Calvin’s Articles on Predestination:

        “Although the will of God is the supreme and first cause of all things and God holds the devil and all the impious subject to His will, God nevertheless cannot be called the cause of sin, nor the author of evil, neither is He open to any blame.”

        “Although the devil and reprobates are God’s servants and instruments to carry out His secret decisions, nevertheless in an incomprehensible manner God so works in them and through them as to contract no stain from their vice, because their malice is used in a just and righteous way for a good end, although the manner is often hidden from us.”

        “They act ignorantly and calumniously who say that God is made the author of sin, if all things come to pass by His will and ordinance, because they make no distinction between the depravity of men and the hidden appointments of God.”
        Pg 116,117, Systematic Theology, Berkhof.

        If I may say so, your inclination to interpret everything in the light of Rome proves that your “will” is not “free.” Your “free will” is constrained by your sin nature which acts according to its greatest inclinations. And your greatest inclination here is merely to defend an erroneous Catholic position, and not about finding the objective truth.

        To speculate a bit here, perhaps your intransigence (and Rome’s) on this issue is because if you were to deal honestly with Calvinism’s passive reprobation, you would see its affinity with Thomism’s passive reprobation.
        And if you were to deal honestly with Calvinism’s active or “positive” election, you would see its affinity with Thomism’s active or ‘positive’ predestination.

        In your words: ““Catholics are still free to choose from a number of predestination views, among which are: Thomism… Thomists (and some Molinists) teach Unconditional Election…” https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/2007/08/12/predestination-in-catholicism/

        So not only does Thomism teach positive unconditional election, it also teaches a passive unconditional reprobation – just like Calvinism! And we haven’t even started on the subject of Augustinianism.

        (and please don’t start with your ‘free will defense’ for Thomism that even your Catholic Encyclopedia will not dogmatically defend or explain – in Thomism, God’s will is infallibly efficacious).

        Thus Calvinism’s close kinship with Thomism is mighty uncomfortable for Rome. But what does one’s comfort have to do with truth?

        You need to be much more careful about how you toss around the term “double-predestination.” Calvin is helpful here: “I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels.”

        Really, you returned to Rome too soon – you should have waited until you better understood the biblical doctrines of grace, and better understood the problems with Roman Catholic doctrine.

      • vivator / Jun 1 2012 10:24 am

        You wrote “which has a number of problems ranging from the trivial (it’s “depraved,” not “deprived”)”. OK point taken and thank you for your input.
        You wrote “No, that is known as ‘(single) predestination,’ not double predestination which is a gross misrepresentation of Calvinism. This egregiously wrong definition of Calvinism makes God the author of sin and One who “positively” predestines the damned, a view that is denied by Luther, Calvin, Berkhof, and Sproul, the Westminster Confession, and the Canons of Dort. A careful look at the corpus of their work proves them in the ‘passive reprobation’ camp, or ‘infralapsarian,’ or ‘(single) predestinatarian’: that God actively saves the elect, but only passively “passes by” man in his sinful nature.”
        My comment:: First you claim that Calvinists believe in single predestination. I must say you know little about it. You may read what Sproul wrote in http://www.the-highway.com/DoublePredestination_Sproul.html
        Second you charged me of not knowing “passive reprobation”. This is a false charge – this is what I wrote: “This is known as double predestination, which some, like R.C. Sproul believe to be non-symmetric, i.e. He does actively predestine the Elect to salvation but passively bypasses the rest from being regenerated, i.e. they remain in their totally depraved [thank you again for your correction] state, the state of all mankind after the Fall.”
        I did state that Westminster of Confession of Faith seems to promote active reprobation – you can judge it yourself after reading the following
        As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins, does blind and harden, from them He not only withholds His grace whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their heart; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had, and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.
        Westminster Confession of Faith V.6
        Please note I never stated that Calvinists believe God is the author of sin.
        You wrote “God knew from eternity that all men would fall to sin and thus reprobation – from these He predestined some to be regenerated. No Catholic is going to deny the fall, or The Council of Trent’s fifth session on Original Sin (#1) for that matter. The reprobate are always “responsible for their damnation.””
        My comment: When you wrote “He predestined some to be regenerated” does it imply that He decided to bypass the rest not to be regenerated?
        You wrote “Please note: “Non-symmetric” double predestination is what everyone else in the world calls “predestination,” which is a “(single) predestination” or “infralapsarianism.”
        My comment: please do your home-work and study the issue diligently. No one equates single predestination with non-symmetric double predestination and “single predestination” and infralapsarianism are not the same.
        Next you quoted from Catholic Encyclopedia: “But from all eternity God has also made a decree not less absolute whereby he has positively predestined the non-elect to eternal torments. God can accomplish this design only by denying to the reprobate irresistibly efficacious graces and impelling their will to sin continually, thereby leading them slowly but surely to eternal damnation.”http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12376b.htm
        My comment: Do Calvinists believe that God bypass the Reprobate from being monergistically regenerated? If the answer is yes then you should not have problem with statement from Catholic Encyclopedia.
        Finally you accused me of misunderstanding Berkhof when he used the word “positive” by quoting half of his phrase. Here is the complete phrase: “Preterition is purely passive, a simple passing by without any action on man, but condemnation is efficient and positive.” Again positive reprobation and active reprobation are NOT the same.

  12. Bryan McDaniel / May 15 2012 10:32 am

    Vivator,

    The question is not, “If faith does not produce works, will that person be saved or not? You mention transformed life – If the person sometimes produces good works, sometime he returns to his old way and the cycle repeats, will he be saved?” but rather, is true faith (living faith) capable of not producing works? The Reformed view holds that faith without works is dead, thus not genuine faith to begin with. However, true faith is given (as the gift of God, that no man should boast) only to a regenerate heart, and such faith will inevitably produce good works. Thus, your first question is irrelevant in respect to the Reformed view. Also, you refer to salvation as a future event (“…will he be saved?”), not as something obtained once and for all. Do you believe that salvation can be lost through sin? Your wording seems to suggest that salvation is indeed something we work toward throughout our lifetime and hope to receive in the end, based on a repeated covering up of our sin. I ask this not as a challenge but in an attempt to truly understand where you’re coming from (the last thing I want is for this to become an argument, as truth not spoken in love rarely bares good fruit). In the end, it all comes down to the key question: was Christ’s sacrifice sufficient to cleanse us of our sins (not cover them up until we sin again), or does salvation require more than His blood to atone for our unrighteousness?

    If Christ is not enough, then what are we to make of Hebrews 10:10, “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Read within its context, and I ask that you do read all of Hebrews 10 before replying as it is not a lengthy passage, it seems obvious that nothing serves (or ever fully served) to satisfy God’s wrath towards sinners other than the “once and for all” sacrifice of His Son.

  13. Bryan McDaniel / May 15 2012 10:36 am

    To use the analogy from the article above, it is not as though He covers our dirty robe or rag, but rather that He took ours upon Himself on the cross and gave us a new one (as He does with our hearts/lives when we are born of the Spirit). My apologies for the double posting. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    • vivator / May 15 2012 12:04 pm

      Thank you for your comment.
      You wrote “true faith is given (as the gift of God, that no man should boast) only to a regenerate heart, and such faith will inevitably produce good works.” Actually you don’t answer my question here. I am aware of the phrase “inevitably produce good works” – the question is: does it produce good works continuously without any failure or will the regenerated person may fall into sin, then repent, and sins again and so on? If you say the former I am doubtful anybody can do it – just read Romans 7:14-25.
      Your question: Do you believe that salvation can be lost through sin? For the answer you can read Hebrews 10:26-27 and according to James 1:15, full grown sin brings forth death. 1 John 3:8 says those who sin belongs to the devil.
      You wrote “Your wording seems to suggest that salvation is indeed something we work toward throughout our lifetime and hope to receive in the end, based on a repeated covering up of our sin.”
      First Catholics do not believe in repeated covering up our sins – God does forgive and blotted out our sin. Second what do you mean by the word “work”? If by works you mean we have to contribute in our salvation, the answer is NO. Catholics believe that we enter heaven when we die with all mortal sins repented – it neither depends on the amount of good works we do, nor on the amount of sin we commit (Ezekiel 18:21-22, 27-28). We cannot repent unless we are fist moved by God’s Grace – there is no such thing as our contribution in our salvation. By works Catholics mean we cooperate with God’s Grace and you may read Philippians 2:12-13 and 1 Corinthians 15:10 for scriptural support. Most (if not all) Calvinists think that in synergism God contributes x % and we contribute (100 – x)% in our salvation. Some Calvinists in the past rhetorically asked me “what is our minimum contribution to secure a place in heaven?” Here they confuse cooperation with contribution. They are not the same and the following analogies may help. A person has one million dollar debt and he has no way to pay it. Another person who happens to be generous and super rich gives him one million dollar cheque to pay his debt. It is a free gift, i.e. no strings attached and no re-payment is required. The first person cannot claim he contributes in his debt-free status because he must go to the Bank to cash the cheque. He does cooperate but he does not contribute. As analogy of contribution, in some countries you may save x% of your salary for retirement fund and if you do then (by law) the employer will contribute another y%.
      According to Scripture Christ came into the world to give His Life as ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:6), not only for the Elect, which He accomplished on the cross (John 19:30). If you understand it to mean that there is no cooperation required from us then Paul would not write in Colossians 1:24 that in his flesh he completed what is lacking in Christ afflictions. The Greek word translated as “lacking” (RSV) is “husterema”, which means absence or wanting. In the New Testament the word also appears in Luke 21:4 (translated as poverty in RSV and NIV, as penury in KJV), 1 Corinthians 16:17, 2 Corinthians 8:14, 9:12, 11:9, Philippians 2:30 and 1 Thessalonians 3:10.

    • vivator / May 15 2012 3:25 pm

      I do understand that Reformer justification is forensic – it is a legal exchange where we get Christ righteousness and He got our sins (and bore them on the cross) but there is no change in us, in other words we remain unrighteous. Thus Calvin defined justification as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favour as if we were righteous (Institutes of Christian Religion 3.11.2). The phrase “as if we were righteous” means “ we are not righteous but only counted as righteous based on righteousness of Christ”. Reformed scholar Berkhof elaborated further when he wrote that Justification takes outside of the sinner in the tribunal of God, and does NOT change his inner life, though the sentence is brought home to him subjectively (Systematic Theology poage 513). However Revelation 19:8 uses fine linen as the righteous deeds of the saints, i.e. (1) they do not use alien righteousness of Christ imputed on them; and (2) infused righteousness concept fits well here. Keep in mind that according to Reformers Justification is one time event and by faith alone and does not include sanctification; Catholics, on the other hand, consider sanctification as integral part of justification.

      • Danno / Jan 5 2017 12:46 pm

        “Keep in mind that according to Reformers Justification is one time event and by faith alone and does not include sanctification; Catholics, on the other hand, consider sanctification as integral part of justification.”

        Actually the Reformers consider justification and sanctification an integral part of *salvation*, the former being a declared *perfect* righteousness, the latter being an achieved *imperfect* holiness. The apostles didn’t conflate righteousness and holiness (1 Cor 1:30) and neither should we.

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