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June 10, 2016 / vivator

A review on Sproul book: Are We Together, Part 2

Part 2: Justification

for pdf file of this post click here

Quoting from Luther who asserted that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or fall[1], Sproul stressed the importance of justification – the material cause of Reformation.  On the issue of justification, i.e. how a sinner finds salvation in Christ, there are a number of irreconcilable differences between the Reformers and the Catholic Church.

  1. The meaning of the (Greek) verb dikaioo (to justify)

According to Sproul, the early Latin fathers who used Latin instead of Greek (in which New Testament books were written), developed the doctrine of justification based on their understanding of the legal system of Roman Empire and this explains why to them to justify means “to make righteous”.  The English word “justification” comes from Latin “iustificare”, while in Greek it is “dikaiosis” – it is related to righteous (Greek dikaios) and righteousness (Greek dikaiosune).  The Reformers, on the other hand, based on original Greek meaning, understand the same verb to mean “to declare righteous”.

The Protestant Reformation, which followed the revival of the study of antiquities, focused attention on the Greek meaning of the concept of justification, which was the word dikaioo, which means “to declare righteous” rather than “to make righteous”. 

Sproul: Are We Together, page 30

While it is true that the Church in the west switched to Latin perhaps sometime in 3rd century AD, the Church in the East, which is now known as Eastern Orthodox Church, continued using Greek to this day. But they do not follow the same understanding of justification as taught by the Reformers[2].  Certainly the use of Latin, instead of Greek, is not the source of difference understanding of Greek verb “to justify”.

  1. According to the Reformers justification is by faith alone and occurs before sanctification. They separate sanctification from justification but these two must come together[3]. The Catholic Church, on the other hand teaches that justification is a process that starts from faith and includes sanctification[4].

What Paul wrote in Romans supports Catholic teaching: “And those whom he [God] predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30, RSV). In the above verse Paul did not even mention sanctification, but jumps directly to glorification, which is the state after dying.  Scripture says that through sanctification we are saved (2 Thessalonians 2:13) and sanctification is the work of God (1 Thessalonians 5:23). If Romans 8:30 supports Reformers teaching then the last part should say “those whom he justified he also sanctified; and those whom he sanctified he also glorified”. Catholic teaching on justification, perfectly explains why sanctified does not appear in Romans 8:30, i.e. it is included in the word “justified”.

In 1 Corinthians 6:11 Paul wrote (RSV): And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul placed “justified” after, and not before, “sanctified”.

According to what Paul wrote in Romans Abraham was justified by faith but he was also justified by his obedience to God in James.  On page 45 – 46, Sproul wrote that it would be nice if those books use different Greek word and different patriarch.    Certainly it would be nice if James 2:21 says Abraham was sanctified when he offered his son, but it does not.  James 2:24 even plainly denies justification by faith alone.  What Sproul proposed to reconcile Romans and James is typical among Protestants, i.e. James talks about manifestation of our faith-alone justified state in the form of works of obedience before men.  But this does not explain why Romans and James use the same Greek word “to justify” – it is only an attempt to tie justification only with faith.  Catholics, who understand justification as a process and includes sanctification, do not need to reconcile Romans and James.

On the relation between justification and works Sproul wrote:

A living faith shows its life by obedience. Such works of obedience contribute nothing to our justification, but it the works are not present, that absence is proof positive that justification has not occurred.

Sproul: Are We Together, page 46

Note that while Sproul stated that works of obedience do not contribute to justification their absence indicates justification never takes place.  The question is how much works (amount and/or frequency) need to be present in order to manifest the existence of our faith-alone justification?  It is very unlikely to have a situation where works are totally absent in a believer, which according to Sproul means the person was not justified in the first place.  Even during Reformation Luther had to admit that good works are necessary for salvation, even though our justification is by faith alone[5].

  1. According to the Reformers through justification is the righteousness of Christ imputed on us while according to the Catholic Church the righteousness of God infused in us

The Reformers taught that through justification by faith alone we are declared righteous, whereby the righteousness Christ is imputed on us.  This means we are both righteous and sinner at the same time – there is no change within us. Thus a Christian man is righteous and a sinner at the same time[6], holy and profane, an enemy of God and a child of God, wrote Luther[7].  This does not mean the justified persons continue remaining like that; it is their state at the time they were justified by their faith alone – God will change them through sanctification[8].

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, through Council of Trent, defines justification as translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour[9].  Through justification the righteousness of God through Christ is infused by the Holy Spirit in us and this implies a change within us, from sinner to righteous, from enemy of God to child of God.  That’s why Catholics understand the Greek verb “to justify” to mean “to make righteous” and through justification we really become righteous.  Scripture does say through Christ we are made righteous (Romans 5:19).

Why did the Reformers believe in imputation?  Sproul gave the answer as follows:

The psalmist asked, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Ps. 130:3). In other words, if we have to stand before God and face his perfect justice and perfect judgment of our performance, none of us would be able to pass review. We all would fall, because as Paul reiterates, all of us have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

Sproul: Are We Together, page 41

Thus according to Sproul we must have perfect performance in order to pass God’s perfect justice and perfect judgment, which is certainly impossible. That is the reason why we have to rely on Christ’ perfect righteousness, imputed on us to cover our unrighteousness.

The question is does the Bible teach that God demand from us to be perfectly righteous in order to pass His judgment?  Before answering that question, how does the Bible define as being righteous?  Ezekiel 18:5-9 provides us with definition of righteous persons, i.e. those who obey Commandments and they shall surely live (verse 9).  1 John 3:7 defines a righteous person as the one who does what is right, which is in agreement with Ezekiel. Does a righteous person must continue, without failing, not even once, in doing righteous acts?  If we read Ezekiel 18:24, 26 it seems it is the case, because it says if a righteous person commits iniquity then he shall die and none of the righteous things he did will be accounted for.  But Ezekiel 18:21-22, 27-28 says that if a wicked person turns away from his sins and commits righteous acts then he will live and none of his past sins will be accounted.  Based on those verses, what ultimately counts is our state when we die, whether we are in righteous state (the Catholic Church refers it as in the state of grace) or not.  Thus based on Scripture we don’t have to be perfectly and continuously righteous through-out our life to enter heaven.

But Scripture says: Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20, RSV).  Yet Scripture refers Noah (Genesis 6:9, Ezekiel 14:14), Daniel, Job (Ezekiel 14:14), even Lot (2 Peter 2:7) as righteous persons.  There are many verses indicating the existence of righteous persons, without naming them (Psalms 1:6, 5:12, 34:15, Matthew 5:45, 13:17, 10:41, 23:29, 1 Peter 3:12 etc.).  Certainly they are sinners while being righteous.  What Ecclesiastes 7:20 means is even righteous persons will commit sin – in other words being righteous is not being sinless. Protestants may argue that those righteous persons were only declared righteous through faith.  But when Christ said in Matthew 25:46 that the righteous will go into eternal life, their righteousness is not based on being declared righteous by faith, but on doing righteous acts (verses 34 to 36), which agrees with Ezekiel 18:5-9 and 1 John 3:7.

Catholics believe that our ability to do righteous acts is only possible with grace of God.  Thus what Sproul wrote on page 44 that infused righteousness means we will be judged by our own righteousness totally missed the point!  Our righteousness comes from God – it is His grace that enables us to believe in Christ and to obey His Commandments, which make us righteous according to Scripture.  Our justification comes from the grace of God[10]!

Based on Scripture (1 John 5:16-17), Catholics believe in the existence of deadly (or mortal) and non-deadly (or venial) sins.  Luther still believed in mortal and venial sins, though he defined it differently, i.e. the former is applicable to unbelievers while the latter to the believers[11]Similarly Calvin taught that only the Reprobate, i.e. those whom God predestines to hell, commit deadly sins[12].  Sproul was wrong when he wrote (on page 32) that there is no agreement in the Catholic Church on which sins are mortal.  Mortal sin is defined as sin whose object is grave matter (breaking any of Ten Commandments) and done with full knowledge and full consent[13].  Christ Himself said in Luke 10:28: “do this [the Commandments], and you will live”. What He said is in agreement with Ezekiel 18:5-9.  Catholics believe that we will enter heaven if we die in the state of grace, i.e. without any un-repented mortal sin.  That is why to Catholics both sacraments of Baptism and Penance are essential.  Through the former Original Sin (which we inherit from Adam), all past sins as well as punishment of sins are forgiven and through the latter sins and their punishment committed after Baptism are forgiven.  To Catholics Baptism is sacrament of regeneration that not only frees us from sin but also makes us reborn as sons of God. Through Baptism we enter the state of grace – thus our justification is conferred in Sacrament of Baptism[14]. Scripture says that through Baptism we have new life (Romans 6:4). Titus 3:5 talks about washing of regeneration, which the Catholic Church refers to Baptism – and so did Luther[15] and Calvin[16]. This state of grace is lost when we commit mortal sin and it is restored back through sacrament of Penance only if the person truly repents. We cannot repent unless we are moved by Grace. Contrary to what Sproul wrote Luther still believed in Baptism of Regeneration[17].  In 1519 he wrote a trilogy on three Sacraments: Penance, Baptism and Lord’s Supper; and one year later he dropped Sacrament of Penance[18].   Calvin taught that through Baptism all sins, including future sins, are forgiven[19].

According to Sproul confession of sins is not an issue; the issue is on the fact that repentant sinners must perform “works” (like pray, Scripture reading, acts of charity etc.) in order to return to the state of grace.  To him this means we do additional works for the forgiveness of sins, which was already accomplished by Christ on the cross.  Yet Scripture does not forbid expression of works as outward sign of repentance like fasting, weeping, wearing sackcloth (Jonah 3:8, Joel 2:12).  Without genuine repentance all those “works” are meaningless.

 

End Notes:

[1] Actually Luther did not write that phrase – the phrase appears in the Introduction of the Disputation Concerning Justification.

Though Luther was not a theological systematizer in the manner of Melanchthon or Calvin, he recognized that all aspects of evangelical theology were related to the one article of faith by which the church stands or falls. That is why he said in the preface to this disputation, “As you have often heard, most excellent brothers, because that one article concerning justification even by itself creates true theologians, therefore it is indispensable in the church and just as we must often recall it, so we must frequently work on it.”

Introduction to the Dispute Concerning Justification (underlined emphasis added)

English translation from Luther’s Works, Vol. 34, page 147

[2] I cannot find official teaching (something equivalent to Catechism of the Catholic Church) of the Eastern Orthodox Church on justification, but the following links may help:

https://orthodoxwiki.org/Justification

http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/how-are-we-saved

[3] God justifies not only by pardoning but by regenerating, he asks, whether he leaves those whom he justifies as they were by nature, making no change upon their vices? The answer is very easy: as Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable.

Calvin: Institutes of Christian Religion III.11.6

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2019, available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P72.HTM.

[5] I reply to the argument, then, that our obedience is necessary for salvation. It is, therefore, a partial cause of our justification. Many things are necessary which are not a cause and do not justify, as for instance the earth is necessary, and yet it does not justify. If man the sinner wants to be saved, he must necessarily be present, just as he asserts that I must also be present. What Augustine says is true, “He who has created you without you will not save you without you.” 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” [Rom. 10:10]. Outward salvation shows faith to be present, just as fruit shows a tree to be good.

Luther: The Disputation Concerning Justification (underlined emphasis added)

English translation from Luther’s Works Vol. 34, page 135

[6] The underlined phrase in Latin is simul iustus et peccator

[7].Luther: Lectures on Galatians. English translation from Luther’s Works, Vol. 26, page 232.

[8] Refer to end note 3

[9] Council of Trent: Chapter 4 of the Decree on Justification, available at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds2.v.i.i.iv.html.

[10] Our Justification comes from the grace of God

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1996

[11] Therefore it is a pernicious error when the sophists distinguish among sins on the basis of the substance of the deed rather than on the basis of the persons. A believer’s sin is the same sin and sin just as great as that of the unbeliever. To the believer, however, it is forgiven and not imputed, while to the unbeliever it is retained and imputed. To the former it is venial; to the latter it is mortal. This is not because of a difference between the sins, as though the believer’s sin were smaller and the unbeliever’s larger, but because of a difference between the persons.

Luther: Lectures on Galatians

English translation from Luther’s Works, Vol. 27, page 76

But from this text a gloss has flowed, namely, one sin is venial, another is mortal. I understand a mortal sin to be like the sin committed by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, about which one reads in Num. 16:15, where Moses prays against them, saying: “Lord do not respect their offerings. Thou knowest that I have never taken even an ass from them.” Sins of this kind are those that are committed under the guise of godliness and do not mean to be sins, as they actually are. Sins of this kind are those of the heretics, who are hardened after one or another rebuke.

Luther: Lectures on 1st epistle of John

English translation from Luther’s Works, Vol. 30, page 324

[12] Calvin Commentary on 1 John, available at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom45.v.vi.v.html.

[13] Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1857 and # 1858 available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P6C.HTM

[14] Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1992 available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P6Y.HTM.

[15] Refer to end note 17

[16] Calvin Commentary on Titus 3:5 is available at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom43.v.v.ii.html.

[17] In Titus 3:5 St. Paul terms Baptism “a washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” In the last chapter of Mark we read that “he who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). And in this passage Christ declares that whoever is not born anew of the water and the Holy Spirit cannot come into the kingdom of God. Therefore God’s words dare not be tampered with. Of course, we are well aware that Baptism is natural water. But after the Holy Spirit is added to it, we have more than mere water. It becomes a veritable bath of rejuvenation, a living bath which washes and purges man of sin and death, which cleanses him of all sin.

Luther: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John Chapter 3

English translation from Luther’s Works Vol. 22, page 284

Baptism, then, signifies two things—death and resurrection, that is, full and complete justification. When the minister immerses the child in the water it signifies death, and when he draws it forth again it signifies life. Thus Paul expounds it in Rom. 6[:4]: “We were buried therefore with Christ by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” This death and resurrection we call the new creation, regeneration, and spiritual birth.

Luther: The Babylonian Captivity of the Church

English translation from Luther’s Works Vol. 36, page 68

[18] Luther’s Works, Vol. 35: Word and Sacrament I

[19] Institutes of Christian Religion IV.15.3, available at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.vi.xvi.html

 

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33 Comments

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  1. Per Zetterberg / Oct 12 2017 8:35 am

    You say that sanctification is included in the word justification and just omitted in Rom 8:30. But I see in verse 29 the predestination “to be conformed to the image of his Son”. What do you say that this conforming work is if not sanctification? My concern as an evangelical is that the work of Christ on the cross with the catholic view is “not finished” at all and therefore gives no one any hope. What is YOUR CONCERN as you reject the concept of double imputation; imputation of our sins unto Jesus (Rom 4:25 “who was delivered up for our trespasses”) and the imputation of his righteousness unto the believer (Rom 4:25 “and raised for our justification”)?

    • vivator / Oct 12 2017 8:30 pm

      Even if you think Rom 8:29 talks about being sanctified, Rom 8:30 still omits being sanctified – from being justified it jumps directly to being glorified. In 1 Corinthians 6:11 Paul placed (being) justified after (being) sanctified, indicating that we are justified after being sanctified or justification is a process that includes sanctification.

      The Catholic Church never teaches that what Christ did on the cross is not finished – that is only your caricature or your perception. On the cross Christ made atonement for all of us. He gave His life as ransom for many (Mat 20:28, Mark 10:45), for all in 1 Tim 2:6. Before you even accuse Catholics of adding works for salvation, I suggest you examine what Luther, Turrentin, Hodge A.A. and even John Piper (who is still alive) taught. All of them wrote that while good works are not the ground of justification (which, of course, is by faith alone), they are necessary for salvation. If they are necessary for salvation then according to them what Christ did on the cross is not sufficient. You are entitled to disagree with them but that is what they wrote.

      The verses you cited do not say there is double imputation – it is only your interpretation of them that makes you think they teach double imputation. If you insist Scripture teaches double imputation then what Christ said in Matthew 25:46 contradicts your belief. Christ said the righteous will go to eternal life. He did not say those who are declared righteous (that is what imputation implies) go to eternal life.

      • F / Nov 3 2017 5:29 am

        “[Works] are necessary for salvation”? What a misrepresentation of the Reformed position. Talk about putting the worst possible spin on your enemy’s position, despite repeated attempts to set you straight. Honestly, how can you call yourself a Christian?

      • vivator / Apr 29 2018 2:20 pm

        It was them (Luther, Turretin, Hodge and Piper) who wrote that works are necessary for salvation. I did not fabricate their statement. There is no such thing is mis-interpretation of Reformed position as you falsely accuse. I understand that it is very hard for for you to accept that fact because you have been told all the time that salvation by grace alone through Christ alone and now you have to face the fact there are necessary hidden works behind that slogan.

      • RJP / Nov 3 2017 7:38 pm

        you write “then according to them (Luther, Turrentin(sic), Hodge, Piper) what Christ did on the cross is not sufficient.” Please note that is YOUR fallacious conclusion, not theirs. If you wish to make this THEIR conclusion, then show the proof from their writings that Christ’s work on the cross was not sufficient.

        By the way, please note the correct spelling of “Turretin.”

      • vivator / Apr 29 2018 2:16 pm

        Thank you for your correction of Turrentin, not Turrentin. As for your argument that Luther etc. never made statement that what Christ did on the cross is not sufficient: When they wrote that good works are necessary or essential, it implies that you must do good works (if you don’t need to do them then they will use the word optional, not necessary). Your slogan is by grace alone through faith alone – but behind that slogan your have good works that you must do because they are necessary or essential for salvation. Luther etc. did not need to make statement that Christ work on the cross is not sufficient, once they wrote good works are necessary then you must add what Christ already did on the cross in order to be saved.

      • RJP9 / May 2 2018 10:17 pm

        Umm… it is Turretin, not “Turrentin.”

        The Reformed people you cited believe that Christ’s atonement is sufficient, therefore you still have not proven otherwise. indeed you claim that proving such is unnecessary because of their claim that works are “necessary” for salvation.

        It seems you are trying to create an equivalence between the role of works in RC theology and that of Reformed theology. But you can only do so by equivocating on the word ‘necessary’ or ‘essential’.

        Rome uses ‘necessary’ as in ‘necessary to cooperate FOR justification.’
        But the Reformed use ‘necessary’ as evidence that justification has occurred, as in ‘works necessarily FOLLOW justification.’
        These are clearly different senses [cause/effect] of the word ‘necessary.’ To conflate these two senses is to commit the fallacy of equivocation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation

        You repeatedly state, “If [works] are necessary for salvation then according to them (the Reformed guys), what Christ did on the cross is not sufficient.” That statement is easily refuted because the Reformed believe that…
        a) Christ’s work on the cross IS sufficient, and
        b) This is proved when works necessarily follow justification. You affirm this when you state “All of them (the Reformed guys) wrote that while good works are not the ground of justification…” In other words, when you say that works are not the ‘ground’ of justification, then they cannot be a cause of justification as is the case of Rome’s paradigm that melds justification with sanctification. By having eliminated works as the ground of justification, you leave only the possibility of works as evidence.

        Another way to express the difference in the role of works:
        For Rome, works are for a yet-to-occur justification.
        For the Reformed, works are from a past justification, not part of the justifying equation.

        I’m afraid you have proven the Reformed case here, albeit unwittingly.

      • vivator / May 3 2018 7:25 am

        The English word “necessary” means something that must be there – something that is mandatory. Let me ask you, if a person, who was born again after being monergistically regenerated, does not show effect (or fruit) of his true faith in Christ, will he/she go to heaven? Even if he/she does show effect of justified state in good works, what is the minimum amount or frequency to show them as effect of his/her justified state? This question may never cross your mind but it is nevertheless crucial. For example, that person may say that every year he donates money for charity, say $ 1,000/year, and claims that he has shown effect of his justification. According to you, is that enough or must he do more? What is the cut-off point? You still do not or pretend not to realize that while your justification is by faith alone (because you separate justification from sanctificatiuon), your salvation is by faith plus works, regardless you call that works as necessary effect of your justification, and not as necessary for cause of justification (which I am fully aware). And if you must do good works as effect of your justified state, then what Christ did on the cross is not sufficient, even you (and all Reformed guru’s) don’t explicitly say that. If Calvinism is a product that “By grace alone through faith alone” must be its best-selling point because it is indeed very appealing until one realizes that there are necessary works that you must do as effect of your justified state.

        I am NOT trying to create an equivalent between Catholic view on good works with that of Reformed. According to Reformed teaching your good works are polluted with sins (Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion 3.15.3, Berkhof: Systematic Theology, page 523) and deserve no rewards. In contrast the Bible says God rewards us for our good works (Proverbs 13:13, Psalms 18:20, 2 John 8, Revelation 22:12 etc.) and his rewards include even eternal life (John 5:28-29, Romans 2:6-7) – and that what the Catholic Church teaches. The Bible does not teach salvation or justification by works and neither does the Catholic Church. The rewards of our god works are gift from God, whom by His Grace through Christ, enables us to do them and without it we can do nothing (John 15:5).

      • RJP / May 3 2018 4:31 pm

        What you say here hints at where you’ve gone wrong:
        “If Calvinism is a product that “By grace alone through faith alone” must be its best-selling point because it is indeed very appealing until one realizes that there are necessary works that you *must do* as effect of your justified state. (emphasis mine)

        One must be careful not to make an imperative “you must do” out of something that is properly an indicative ‘works are the result.’ This is a category error. An indicative (the facts, the results) cannot be confused with an imperative (you must). We are not talking about the same thing.

        And as much as you’d like to impute works to Reformed theology, you’ve not been very convincing so far.

      • vivator / May 3 2018 5:23 pm

        Even if you consider good works as result of justified state, it still implies you must do it in order to be saved. Reformed Guru, John Piper, makes it crystal clear:

        Paul calls this effect or fruit or evidence of faith the “work of faith” (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11) and the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26). These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation. No holiness, no heaven (Hebrews 12:14). So, we should not speak of getting to heaven by faith alone in the same way we are justified by faith alone.
        Piper, John: Does God really saves us by faith alone? 25 Sep 2017 online article at http://www.desiringgod.org

        I have no intention to impute good works to Reformed theology. There is no such thing as imputed good works.

      • RJP / May 11 2018 7:54 pm

        Alan Jacobs offers this advice in his book How To Think: “Before you critique another person’s argument, make sure you can express their argument to their satisfaction.” This you failed to do with respect to Piper, as he would never agree with your assertion:
        “Even if you consider good works as result of justified state, it still implies you must do it in order to be saved.” Ah… No. It. Doesn’t.
        Your conclusion is not proven or warranted in any way—it is mere assertion. Is there another theologian on earth—Catholic or non-Catholic—who shares this conclusion about Reformed theology?

        In Reformed theology it is NEVER the fact that works “must be there” (repeat ad nauseam) “in order to be saved.” It is rather that works WILL be there IF you are saved. This is precisely what the Lord Jesus meant: “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”

        For the correct view from the Reformed camp, see this post from John Hendrix at Monergism.com:
        https://www.monergism.com/blog/sanctification-monergistic-or-synergistic
        Hendrix’s conclusion:
        “Now I know Dr. Sproul and others have taught that sanctification is synergistic. But it is pretty clear that what they mean by this is that the Christian life is not passive and we DO obey and work.  We are not quietists.  But a careful reading will reveal that he does not mean that we sanctify ourselves.”

        You’re out of bullets.

      • RJP / May 11 2018 8:32 pm

        For a clearer view of Piper on the issue of sanctification, see his chapter from the book on this very subject: Acting the Miracle–God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification. That chapter along with Piper’s other works and even the quote you cited above, cannot be squared with your erroneous conclusion.

        Here is the final paragraph:
        “The place of sanctification is embedded in the sequence of divine acts from eternity to eternity that infallibly come to pass. All whom he foreknew, he infallibly predestined. All he predestined, he infallibly called. All whom he called, he infallibly justified. All he justified, he will infallibly pursue with sanctifying grace till everyone is glorified.”

      • vivator / May 12 2018 11:58 am

        To reply to your both comments:

        I do not know who Alan Jacobs is but his good advice is applicable to you as well. Did he write that Reformed Christians are immune from violating his concept of “before you critique another person argument, make sure you can express their argument to their satisfaction”? There are many Reformed Christians out there, who keep on accusing synergism to be equal with semi-pelagianism and who keep on accusing Catholics to contribute works in their salvation?

        You wrote that in Reformed theology it is never the fact that works must be there in order to be saved. For sure you have been told that way many times but what John Piper wrote (I quoted word by word) is “These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation. No holiness, no heaven (Hebrews 12:14).” Is that clear enough? John Piper is not (and will never be) your magisterium, so you don’t have to agree with him but you cannot deny that his statement make works necessary for salvation. What Piper wrote in his book “Acting the Miracle – God’s Works and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification” does not negate his statement above. Even the tile of the book indicates that both God and we work in sanctification, which synergists agree 100% and yet synergism never teaches that we contribute to our salvation by our “works”. In contrast according to monergism God alone does the work and therefore the title of the book indicates that Piper believes in synergistic sanctification, just like Sproul and many others.

        I checked the link you gave me and one phrase written by John Hendrix caught my attention. The phrase is “So sanctification is monergistic”. What he wrote contradicts what Sproul wrote: Sanctification is not monergistic. It is synergistic. That is, it demands the cooperation of the regenerate believer (Sproul, R.C.: Chosen by God, page 131). The following online articles from his Ministry also affirm Sproul belief in synergistic sanctification: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/producing-fruit/ and http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/climbing-out-mire/. Note that synergism does not and never teach that Christians sanctify themselves – that would be Pelagianism. Neither Sproul and Hendrix are your magisterium and you may choose what you want to believe but how do you know who is right? Do not try to reconcile monergistic sanctification of Hendrix with synergistic one of Sproul – they will never be the same. One of them must be wrong!

      • F / May 17 2018 1:53 pm

        I’m a bit confused…
        you agree that Jacobs offers good advice: “before you critique another person argument, make sure you can express their argument to their satisfaction”… and then proceed to summarize RJP’s book recommendation by its title, justifying your behavior by citing Reformed Christians who allegedly misrepresent Catholicism. But this is merely a ‘tu quoque’ argument.

        You then summarize “Note that synergism(here, Roman Catholicism) does not and never teaches that Christians sanctify themselves…” Let me then quote from one of Rome’s official sources so that I cannot be guilty of misrepresentation…

        From the Catholic Catechism #2010:
        “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then MERIT for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our SANCTIFICATION, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”

        Yes it is true that in Catholicism, God kickstarts the whole thing, but AFTER that man must cooperate with works of merit for final justification. No works, no justification; no justification, no salvation.

        Taking up RJP’s challenge… if you can provide one respected theologian to support your misrepresentation of Reformed theology, I would be interested in seeing this.

        Interestingly, prior to the Council of Trent many Catholic theologians agreed with the Reformed understanding of justification.

      • vivator / May 17 2018 4:21 pm

        You don’t need to get confused. Jacob’s good advice is applicable to everybody because everybody, be he Catholic or Reformed or atheist etc. However, I did not make mistake in writing the necessary of good works for salvation in Reformed theology based on what Reformed Gurus’ wrote – unfortunately you and RJP and others keep on in self-denying state and accusing me of mis-interpreting their statement. What Piper wrote is pretty clear on this issue. He wrote: “These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation. No holiness, no heaven (Hebrews 12:14). So, we should not speak of getting to heaven by faith alone in the same way we are justified by faith alone.” He is the only one and neither the first one who admit the necessity of good works in Reformed soteriology. What Piper wrote speaks for itself – it does not require any further interpretation. RJP threw the towel!

        What you wrote about CCC # 2010 is common misunderstanding among Reformed Christians. I can assure you are not the first and the only one. Glad that you raise the issue because I have the opportunity to clarify it. In that clause you failed to see that it starts with phrase “moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity”, i.e. we “merit for ourselves and/or other because we are fist moved by the Holy Spirit. For example, moved by the Holy Spirit, a person works as missionary I a far-away land and his missionary works merit the grace of salvation for others. Any missionary would work – they are not on long term vacation paid by their sponsor. Another example is when you pray for yourself or for other for healing or for conversion etc. and God answers your prayer. To pray is act of work, even you spend little calorie in it. Remember that God does not need any of us to work as missionary or to pray for one another – He can do everything by Himself. This is the concept of grace merits grace as the Scripture says “from Christ we receive grace upon grace” (John 1:16). For sure this involves synergism but you still confuse synergism with semi-pelagianism. I know this from your statement “after that man must cooperate”. An analogy may help to clarify your mis-understanding of synergism. A good advertisement of a product may make you buy the product. It does not force you to buy it and being human and fully alive (i.e. not under the influence of alcohol or drug or sedation) you can decide NOT to buy the product. But you did NOT do it and willingly bought the product. If a man-made advertisement can do such thing, what makes you thing that (prevenient) grace from Almighty God cannot do the same? In synergism Grace from God makes us cooperate while being free. Being free means we can reject it but we do NOT do it – just like good advertisement analogy above. You still think that prevenient grace from God depends on our response in using our free-will, i.e. we decide whether we cooperate with it or not – but that is the error of semi-pelagianism. Catholic teaching on synergism makes prevenient grace governs our free-will – or grace does not depend on free-will. This is not my own teaching – if you do your home-work you will realize that it is the official teaching of the Church. If you need an analogy to understand monergism here it is: A mechanic decides to repair a car. He will do all the works monergistically, i.e. he does not need any cooperation from the car. The car does need to give consent and no kicking and screaming either. After all, monergism is derived based on equating “dead in sin” with physically dead person. A dead person, just like a car, can neither cooperate nor resist any action performed on it.

        You claimed that prior to council of Trent there were many Catholic theologians who agreed with Reformers teaching. Can you name them and state the source of your statement? Many reformed Guru’s do not know this – if they do, they will for sure express it in their writings. Even the late RC Sproul admitted that Augustine understood justification to mean to make one righteous and not to declare one to be righteous as taught by the Reformers. Sproul wrote that Augustine arrived at this “wrong” understanding because he used Latin, not Greek. However, Eastern Church (now known as Eastern Orthodox Church), continued using Greek to this day (their Old Testament is even translated from Greek LXX) but they do not believe in justification as understood by the Reformers and you.

      • F / May 24 2018 11:53 am

        Reformed people have always said works are a necessary condition (consequent, not antecedent, to faith) for salvation. Piper says as much in the citation you provided: “these FRUITS (works) of the Spirit that come by faith”—in other words the fruits/works are “subsequent” to faith, i.e., they follow faith.

        You continue to paint Piper and other Reformers Luther, Turretin, Sproul, and others with a synergistic brush, reading and judging their Reformed doctrines by your Roman Catholic view of justification mixed with sanctification. But a close reading of each of your citations proves your mishandling of them.

        Yes, I understand that on the surface one might reach your erroneous conclusion, especially given the ill-advised wording “synergism” used by Sproul and the nuances of “necessary” used by others, but here is where scrupulous charity must be exercised in presenting their teachings honestly. Theology is about fine distinctions, and these are what we must be in the business of ferreting out accurately and honestly.

        Once again, you can prove your point with ONE theologian—Catholic or Reformed—who agrees that Reformed theology teaches works are a necessary antecedent to faith for salvation. You seem to be the only one in the world with this fanciful conclusion. Heaven help you if you cannot understand the implications between the two views.

        The following leaves no room for doubt about John Piper’s position on justification/sanctification from the book Acting the Miracle, pgs 158-160, responding to this question:

        Question: Hebrews 12:14 says that there is a holiness without which we will not see the Lord. What is the meaning of that verse, and how does that relate to us being fully accepted by God on the basis of another’s holiness?

        John Piper: So, to boil that down, the answer to your question is this: “Pursue the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” means there is a measure of holiness required in order not to justify us but to demonstrate that we’re justified, to give evidence that we are justified. And it is essential. You will be lost if you don’t have evidences that you are justified. Sanctification is not optional. If you have no sanctification, you’re not born of God. Those who are born of God do not continue in sin, meaning they do not give up on the fight and surrender to the flesh and say, Once saved, always saved, I’m safe, and live like the Devil the rest of their life, thinking eternal security means that. It doesn’t. Eternal security means those whom he justified he will sanctify and, finally, glorify. And I think the reason God set it up that way is because he wants there to be a public vindication of his Spirit’s powerful work in the lives of these justified people at the last day.
        About the thief on the cross—this may be helpful for those of you who are worried about quantification here, because that is where you start moving. Okay, how much evidence do I have to have? The thief on the cross had a very small file of good works and a very large file of bad works. So let’s just say he was forty years old. He was “saved” only two hours before he died on the cross. And I do believe he was saved, because Jesus said, “Today you’ll be with me in paradise.” He had thirty-nine years and three hundred, sixty-four days of bad works. Everything he did was sin up till that moment. So the file is jam-packed with bad works that are going to damn him to hell if he has to take the credit for those. And Jesus says he’s going to go to heaven. And I don’t believe he’s exempt from the judgment according to works. So at the last judgment, as he stands there with all the condemning demons around him accusing and laughing up their sleeve at this guy, he’s going to pass the judgment according to works? God opens his file cabinet and goes to the back and pulls out this little, skinny file of good works, and he says, “ When I touched him on the cross, he turned to his fellow thief and rebuked him and confessed his own sin before him and humbled himself and said, ‘We deserve to be here and this man’s done nothing. So why are you talking like that?’ And that’s the evidence I will put on the table of the courtroom that he’s mine.” And then he burns up the rest of the file or puts it under the blood. And that’s all it took.
        What’s required is not a quantity but a reality. Is there a reality in your life that will be able to show on the last day that you’re born of God?

        *Note the second-last sentence where Piper answers your repeated rhetorical question of “how many works are necessary to be saved.” Piper: “What’s required is not a quantity but a reality.” Yup, just like Romans 5:1 says.
        This excerpt from Acting the Miracle reflects Piper’s larger body of work, and cannot be reconciled with your uncharitable caricature of his position.

      • vivator / May 26 2018 9:37 pm

        I never wrote that good works in Reformed soteriology must come before faith. Faith is free gift from God, which both Catholic and Reformed Christians believe, i.e. we do not need to be good persons or do something to receive this free gift. I am fully aware that good works are fruits or effect or outcome of faith in Christ – no problem with that. The question, which you keep on avoiding is the necessity of works as fruits of faith. Necessary means you are under obligation to do them, they are not optional. Quoting from Piper you claimed that what is required is “reality” and not “quantity”. Piper arrived at this statement based on his analysis of the repented person crucified with Christ. This person was “lucky” enough to die shortly after he put his faith in Christ or his sanctification is very short or none at all. Imagine a hypothetical case, he did not die but survived to live for many years then he must show fruit of his faith. Most of us are in this situation, quite few of us died soon after having faith in Christ like that person crucified with Christ. Thus we come back to the same question: what is the minimum amount or frequency of good works he must do as fruit of faith? What we did BEFORE having faith in Christ, either all our past horrible crimes or our good deeds, does not count – faith is free gift from God, all Christians believe that! Catholics have no problem with justification by faith, WITHOUT the word “alone”, which was added by the Reformers. Any person who dies shortly (i.e. no chance to undergo sanctification) after having faith in Christ will go to heaven.

        Catholics do not mix justification with sanctification – here you try to force Reformer’s teaching of justification by faith alone and sanctification comes after justification. According to you, what Catholics do is mixing or merging these two into one. This is false charge!

        What Sproul wrote and Hendrix wrote are their words – I did not change any single letter. One wrote sanctification is synergistic while the other wrote it is monergistic.

      • F / May 24 2018 11:57 am

        For more information on the many Catholic theologians prior to the council of Trent who agreed with the Reformed understanding of justification:

        Trent: What Happened at the Council, by John W. O’Malley

        In Search of Ancient Roots: The Christian Past and the Evangelical Identity Crisis, by Kenneth Stewart

      • vivator / May 26 2018 9:39 pm

        Can you quote their relevant statement recorded in those two books including page numbers?

      • F / May 27 2018 9:15 pm

        You write: ” ‘Necessary’ means you are under obligation to do them [works].” No that is not the only way of understanding “necessary”… see #2 of Google’s definition of “necessary” here below:
        nec·es·sar·y
        adjective
        1.
        required to be done, achieved, or present; needed; essential.
        “members are admitted only after they have gained the necessary experience”
        synonyms: obligatory, requisite, required, compulsory, mandatory, imperative, needed, de rigueur; essential, indispensable, vital
        “parental permission is necessary”
        2.
        determined, existing, or happening by natural laws or predestination; inevitable.
        “a necessary consequence”
        synonyms: inevitable, unavoidable, inescapable, inexorable, ineluctable; predetermined, preordained
        “a necessary consequence”
        PHILOSOPHY
        (of a concept, statement, judgment, etc.) inevitably resulting from or produced by the nature of things, so that the contrary is impossible.

        #2 above says ‘necessary’ means “inevitable,” “a necessary consequence,” as in “inevitably resulting from or produced by the nature of things [in this discussion: the nature of justification by faith alone]. That is exactly what the Reformers mean by “necessary.”

        Once again the challenge: find ONE theologian—Catholic or Reformed—who agrees that Reformed theology teaches works are necessary for salvation in the sense of #1 above.

        You write “Catholics do not mix justification with sanctification.” Ah, yes that is exactly what Roman Catholicism teaches. This has already been proven to you with official Catholic citations.

        You write “Catholics have no problem with justification by faith, WITHOUT the word “alone…” What then is necessary for a Catholic to be saved, if not by faith alone?

      • vivator / Jun 9 2018 10:46 am

        You provided definition of necessary from Google but cherry picked the second one because it fits well with your agenda. Why not use the first one? I suggest you read the following post at:

        https://thorncrownministries.com/blog/2018/5/6/john-piper-final-salvation-and-the-decline-and-fall-of-sola-fide-part-i

        The author, who I believe is a Reformed Christian (and former Catholic), attacked Piper for what he wrote. He may not be Reformed theologian – but he does understand that Piper adds works to salvation, which is supposed by “faith alone”.

        In Catholic teaching sanctification is part of Justification, because the Bible says so. The Bible nowhere says that Justification is one-time event and is by faith alone. How many times Abraham was justified? He was justified by faith in Roman and was justified again by his obedience in James. The same Greek verb “to justify” is used in both cases – James does not say he was sanctified by his obedience and even flatly denies justification by faith alone.

        Following Scripture, Catholics believe we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8) and through sanctification (2 Thessalonians 2:13). That is the scriptural reason why Justification starts with faith and included sanctification.

  2. Rog2012 / Oct 13 2017 8:29 pm

    Per Zetterberg, a warning to you before you take up Vivator’s challenge, “I suggest you examine what Luther, Turrentin, Hodge A.A. and even John Piper (who is still alive) taught. All of them wrote that while good works are not the ground of justification (which, of course, is by faith alone), they are necessary for salvation.”

    Aside from being a complete misrepresentation of these men, it will not matter how much evidence you present to Vivator. He’s already been told repeatedly the difference between ‘works necessary as cause’ and ‘works necessary as effect’.

    If you insist on answering the challenge, start with Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology and read the chapter on SANCTIFICATION AND GOOD WORKS. You’ll see it is written AGAINST synergism, and against Rome’s lifelong system of cooperative salvation. Then you’ll understand how the others are misrepresented.

    ***
    Re.: the alleged “omission” of “sanctified’ in Romans 8:30 means nothing. This is an argument from silence, a very poor argument. See more below.

    Re.: double imputation: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words: our sin is accounted to Christ and his righteousness is accounted to the believer. This coheres perfectly with Romans chapter 4.

    Re. Matthew 25… there is no contradiction with imputation there as Vivator claims. Verse 34 of Matthew 25 reads:
    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
    Notice this coheres perfectly with Ephesians chapter 1:
    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”

    From these two verses alone you can conclude:
    –God chooses and blesses his elect before the foundations of the earth.
    –Those chosen by God WILL be “blessed with every spiritual blessing,” and be “holy and blameless before him,” i.e.: SANCTIFIED. For more, see this article by Guy Waters for Ligonier Ministries (R.C. Sproul’s ministry): http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-are-justification-and-sanctification/
    –Works have no role in salvation except to prove that one has been chosen and blessed by God before the foundations of the earth.
    –Generally speaking, one can only receive an inheritance… it is a gift granted to you. You cannot cooperate in bringing about the inheritance and may only receive it with gratitude. Matthew 25:34
    –One cannot choose to be adopted. That is a privilege granted to you, and received with gratitude.
    –All this is “according to the purpose of his will” according to Ephesians 1:5… does this not cohere perfectly with Romans 9:15-16?

    • vivator / Apr 29 2018 9:48 pm

      First I am fully aware that good works are not the base of your Reformed understanding of justification. “necessary as effect” implies that you must do good works in order to be saved because you must show the effect or fruit of your faith. Something that is referred as necessary is something that must be there, if no, then you should call it “optional”. Reformed guru John Piper expresses this belief in concise way:
      Paul calls this effect or fruit or evidence of faith the “work of faith” (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11) and the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26). These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation. No holiness, no heaven (Hebrews 12:14). So, we should not speak of getting to heaven by faith alone in the same way we are justified by faith alone.
      Piper, John: Does God really saves us by faith alone? 25 Sep 2017 online article at http://www.desiringgod.org

      You tried hard to tone down the missing “sanctified” in Romans 8:30, simply because you find no way to explain it.
      2 Cor 5:21 does not support double imputation. It says “we become the righteousness of God” – in other word we become righteous. Imputed concept of righteousness as taught by Reformers, which you adhere, implies that we remain unrighteous and use the perfect righteousness of Christ to cover it, in order to pass God judgment.
      Catholic have no problem with Election – the Elect were chosen, called, justified and glorified as written in Romans 8:30. The Elect did not choose to be saved or to be adopted, if they did, then we do not call it Election anymore. Remember Catholics do believe in Election and we do believe that our salvation is by grace given through Christ. You wrote that “works have no role in salvation except to prove that one has been chosen and blessed by God” – you are entitled to write that that it does not fit what Piper and others wrote.
      Your problem, which is common among Calvinists (even the late R.C. Sproul), is confusing (or pretending to confuse) synergism with semi-pelagianism.

      • Rog2012 / May 30 2018 8:29 am

        Re.: Catholicism is Semipelagian.

        From the Wikipedia entry on Semipelagianism:
        “Catholicism teaches that the beginning of faith involves an act of free will, that the initiative comes from God, but requires free collaboration on the part of man:
        “The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration”.[2] “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”[3]
        [2] Catechism of the Catholic Church #2008
        [3] Catechism of the Catholic Church #2010

        Wikipedia has it right.

        Overturning the charge of Semipelagianism will require more than a mere assertion that God makes the “first move” or a tautology that everyone else is wrong on the issue or just don’t understand the Roman Catholic church.

        The real issue is over who makes the determining decision for salvation: man or God. The Catholic Church has made this plain: man does. That is clear from many official teachings of Rome. The order of things (God first) is not so important as what makes this initial grace efficient (man). If you want to deny this teaching from Rome, that’s great–but recognize you are more Reformed on the matter than you may realize.

        You try to escape the charge of Semipelagianism–which you agree is heresy–by appealing to a section from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Controversies on Grace (Thomism), which CONTRADICTS Trent, which has never been repealed.

        I see your attempts to evade the clear teaching of Trent as an admission that you know something is very wrong with Roman Catholic doctrine. Had you not already committed yourself to Rome, you’d have readily seen the serious theological problems there which continue in the Vatican to this day. Had you known how transient and incoherent Roman Catholic theology is, and really understood Reformed theology as opposed to evangelicalism’s easy-believism, I doubt that you’d have returned to Rome.

        The honest way to deal with doctrinal contradictions is not to close our eyes at them, but to realize like untold numbers of former Catholics that we must leave a church that speaks from both sides of its mouth.
        “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” -Matthew 5:37 (NKJV)

      • vivator / Jun 9 2018 12:26 pm

        You wrote: “The real issue is over who makes the determining decision for salvation: man or God. The Catholic Church has made this plain: man does.” You made false statement – the Catholic Church never officially teach that man makes determining decision for salvation, that is the error of semi-pelagianism. Trent does not contradict Thomism, another false charge! You keep on accusing without providing any proof!

        Let me repeat the analogies to help you to understand synergism:
        1. A good advertisement of a product may make you buy it willingly. It does not force you and you are not under any obligation to buy it. Being human, fully alive and free (i.e. you are not under the influence of alcohol, drug, under sedation or suffer from Alzheimer) you CAN decide NOT to buy it. But you did not do it and willingly bought the product – no kicking and screaming!
        2. If you are married man, you did propose to your (now) wife and asked her to marry you. Unless it is a forced marriage, your soon-to-be-bride cooperated by saying “Yes”. She is not under any obligation to marry you (sorry to say that) and you do not force her to marry you. Being free, she can turn down your proposal – but she did NOT do it and willing marry you – no kicking and screaming!

        If a man-made advertisement and you can do such thing, what makes you think prevenient and efficacious grace cannot do the same, i.e. it makes us cooperate while we remain free? Being free means we can reject it but we do NOT do it. Both Synergism and Monergism teach that Grace, not our free-will, governs our salvation!

        You don’t have to agree with synergism and keep on believing in monergism – it is your life and your business! But by keeping on equating semi-pelagian with synergism, you are attacking straw man! You are wasting your time and mine as well.

        You asked me to believe and to rely on “testimonies” from former Catholics. Will you rely on testimonies from former Calvinists turned (or apostatized, in your terminology) Catholics or atheists?

  3. Rog2012 / May 3 2018 2:13 pm

    You write “Something that is referred as necessary is something that must be there, if no, then you should call it “optional.”
    Is the heat from a bomb “optional”? No, heat is necessary to show that the blast did in fact take place. In the same way, works are necessary to show that true justification has taken place. This is what James describes “…show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” -James 2:18

    You write “You tried hard to tone down the missing “sanctified” in Romans 8:30, simply because you find no way to explain it.”
    There is no “missing ‘sanctified'” in Romans 8:30–If God wanted it there, it would be there. One can still arrive at the conclusion that all those who are justified will be sanctified, by examining other verses on sanctification, for instance: John 17:17-19, where it is clear that God is responsible for our sanctification.

    In your post dated Oct 12 2017 8:30 pm, you make a big deal of the word order in 1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
    Regarding this citation you say, “Paul placed (being) justified after (being) sanctified, indicating that we are justified after being sanctified or justification is a process that includes sanctification.” A couple of points mitigate strongly against your interpretation:
    1) both sanctification and justification here are in the past tense, which mitigates against your suggestion that they are a “process.” The Bible does describes sanctification as an ongoing process, but one that proceeds from an initial justification and sanctification which is done TO us. See John 17:17-19; Romans 5:1.
    2) both sanctification and justification here in 1 Corinthians 6:11 are in the passive voice, indicating we are not ‘active’ in acquiring them.
    3) 1 Corinthians 1:30 says “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Here the idea of being “in Christ” has great importance, as it is something that happens BEFORE justification or sanctification. See more on union with Christ here: https://www.crossway.org/articles/10-things-you-should-know-about-union-with-christ/

    You also write: “2 Cor 5:21 does not support double imputation. It says “we become the righteousness of God” – in other word we become righteous.”
    Here is 2 Cor 5:21: “For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Two things mitigate against your interpretation here:
    1) note the parallelism in this verse… should we also interpret the verse to mean that Christ *became* a sinner? No, our sin rather was imputed to Him. We must interpret 2 Cor 5:21 in light of ALL scripture, thus it makes sense to bring Romans chapter 4 to shed light on the imputation/accounting/crediting of Christ’s righteousness to our account.

    Finally, I understand the difference between synergism and semi-Pelagianism. Yes Rome denies being semi-Pelagian, reasoning that God’s prevenient grace makes the first move. However even prevenient grace is resistible which means that one’s salvation still rests upon what a sinner can do for him/herself. The Bible says nothing about the so-called “prevenient grace.” The Bible does say that I have nothing to boast about regarding my salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27.

    I think it is reasonable to say that if my salvation rests upon my acceptance, then I have a legitimate reason to boast. I think most people, if honest with themselves, will acknowledge this.

    • vivator / May 3 2018 5:13 pm

      You made poor comparison between bomb and human. A bomb is dead object when it explodes it produces energy in the form of pressure and heat. Let me ask you the same question I raised to RJP9. If a person, who was born again after being monergistically regenerated, does not show effect (or fruit) of his true faith in Christ, will he/she go to heaven? Even if he/she does show effect of justified state in good works, what is the minimum amount or frequency to show them as effect of his/her justified state? This question may never cross your mind but it is nevertheless crucial. For example, that person may say that every year he donates money for charity, say $ 1,000/year, and claims that he has shown effect of his justification. According to you, is that enough or must he do more? What is the cut-off point?

      Based on John 17:17-19 you stated that sanctification is responsibility of God (see also 1 Thes 5:23), which I agree, then why it was not mentioned in Romans 8:30? Also, Scripture says that through sanctification we are saved (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Romans 8:30 is sometimes referred as ordo salutis (order of salvation) then sanctification must be there, i.e. it is included in justification as per Catholic teaching.

      As for your argument of 1 Cor 6:11: Greek does not have past tense. All verbs in 1 Cor 6:11 are in aorist tense. Aorist tense, not found in English, indicate action with undefined aspect. It usually, but not always, took place in the past and it could be on-going or continuous. The famous verse John 3:16 “ for God so loved the world”, the verb love is aorist. If you understand aorist tense as past tense, then does it mean God no longer loves the world now? Aorist tense may indicate actions that happens all the time, i.e. the verbs to wither and to fall in “The grass withers, and the flowers fall” (1 Peter 1:24) or actions that happen in the future, i.e. the verbs to come and to reign in: “They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).

      If justification is not a process, as you believe following the Reformers, then inspired by the Holy Spirit Paul would write justified by faith in Romans 3:28, 5:1, Galatians 2:16 and 3:24 in Greek passive perfect tense. Passive perfect tense in Greek implies the action, i.e. to be justified, is completed by faith with continuing result to the present (from speaker/writer point of view) or we remain justified ever since. If this is the case then Justification by faith alone certainly has solid scriptural support. However, Paul wrote those verses in passive present tense (Romans 3:28) and in passive aorist tense (Romans 5:1, Galatians 2:16 and 3:24).

      Catholics have no problem with passive form of being justified and being sanctified. We do believe that our justification (that includes) sanctification comes from God’s grace. Synergism does NOT mean that we and God work together hand in hand for our salvation – that is the error of semi-pelagian. You need to improve your understanding of synergism because you still confuse it with semi-pelagian, i.e. our salvation still depends on our free-will, even while grace is prevenient. In synergism, prevenient and efficacious grace from God governs our free-will. The Elect cooperate using their free-will, while they remain free. Being free means they have the ability to reject it but they DO NOT do it. A simple analogy could help. A good advertisement of a product may make you buy it. It does not force you to buy it and being free, you are not under any obligation to buy it but you willingly did buy it. If an advertisement can do that, what makes you think God’s grace cannot do the same, i.e. it makes us cooperate while we remain free? Below is quotation from Catholic encyclopedia and New Catholic Encyclopedia.

      So it remains true that grace is not efficacious because free will consents, but conversely the free will consents because grace efficaciously premoves it to the willing and performance of a good act.
      Catholic Encyclopedia: Controversies on Grace: Thomism
      For it is not the will which by its free consent determines the power of grace, but conversely it is grace which makes the free good act possible, prepares for it and co-operates in its execution.
      Catholic Encyclopedia: Controversies on Grace: Molinism

      Sovereignty of Grace. Catholic belief in the sovereignty of grace holds that no free act leading to salvation can be performed unless it is initiated, sustained, and brought to completion by the merciful gift or grace of God. To deny this is to destroy the whole meaning of the gospel of Jesus Christ (see, e.g., John 6.44; 15.5; Phil 2.13, 2 Cor 3.5, Rom 11.6), as the Church affirmed in its vigorous reaction to Pelagianism (Denz 222-230, 371-397).

      Catholic Theology. Every Catholic theology maintains that man’s supernatural act is produced both by his free will and by God’s grace, but the relationship between them is not that of two independent causes mutually cooperating. On the contrary, the free consent is itself a gift of grace. While one legitimately speaks of “cooperating with grace” (Denz 379, 397, 1525), this cooperation is given to men by the gracious God. He so gives it to men that is truly theirs, but it is theirs without ceasing to depend on the saving good pleasure of God. God and man act on totally different planes. Only the divine freedom is absolutely independent. Man’s freedom is creaturely freedom, and even in its free activity it is dependent on Subsistent Freedom. Yet this dependence does do away with human freedom, for God’s causality transcends every category of cause man can imagine. It gives lesser causes their own action in a way that is totally in harmony with their natures. Beings that are not free He moves to an activity that is determined; beings that are free He moves to an activity that is free and responsible while not ceasing to be the product of grace. Herein there is mystery, but not absurdity.
      New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, page 93: Free Will and Grace

      Remember that the Greek verb sunergeo (to work together) appears in the New Testament – a good example is Romans 8:28. Greek verb monergeo, on the other hand, appears nowhere and it does not even exist.

      In 1 Cor 1:30 does not say that in Christ took place before righteousness (dikaiosune, not dikaiosis = justification). What it says is in Christ we get our righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Of course, you may interpret any verse to suit your belief. Scripture is quite clear that through Christ we are made righteous (Romans 5:19) and nowhere says we use righteousness of Christ to cover our unrighteousness as taught by the Reformers.

      2 Cor 5:21 does not say Christ become sinner – to be sin does not mean to be sinner. After all Christ mission on earth is to give His life as ransom for all (1 Tim 2:6). In the Old Testament, an animal must die as sin offering for atonement (Exod 29:36, 30:10). This does not make the animal become sinner, neither does it mean sins are imputed on the animal and the animal “righteousness”, if there is any, is imputed on Israelites.

      • Michael / May 8 2018 11:33 am

        And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

        Saved from death by looking (trusting in the prescription). It does involve the repent act or “work” of gazing on the remedy, but no other work, even if re-bitten because of further sin.

        Of course Jesus uses this example to refer to Himself to explain the situation to someone who should of already understand, but who apparently did not know the scriptures as well as those who distort them.

        With the Holy Spirit, you cannot understand.

      • Rog2012 / May 29 2018 1:37 pm

        1) The bomb analogy is as good as analogies get.

        2) You write, “If a person, who was born again after being monergistically regenerated, does not show effect (or fruit) of his true faith in Christ, will he/she go to heaven?”
        You keep asking that—but it’s the wrong question. The right question is: will someone who is truly saved and going to heaven show fruit? (answer: yes)

        3) On the issue of free will… is there a reason you appeal to two sections from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Controversies on Grace? If you could explain why you like Thomism’s free will which is very close to the Reformers’ view, while rejecting Thomism’s doctrine of predestination, which is nearly identical to that of the Reformers, that would be appreciated.
        Also, why do so many Catholic authorities, including writings with the Imprimatur, contradict Thomistic free will? In other words, why are you dogmatic on Thomistic free will, and not so on Thomistic predestination?

        Can you appreciate the intellectual integrity of the Reformers who did not play both sides of an argument?

        4) You write “Greek does not have past tense,” and “If justification is not a process, as you believe following the Reformers, then inspired by the Holy Spirit Paul would write justified by faith in Romans 3:28, 5:1, Galatians 2:16 and 3:24 in Greek passive perfect tense.”

        Let’s test your thesis by analyzing Romans 5:1. From James White (who actually knows Greek) in his book, The God Who Justifies:
        “The NET and NIV both render the aorist participle ‘dikaiothentes’ as “since we have,” with the NIV choosing “been justified through faith” and the NET going with “been declared righteous by faith.” The NASB’s “having been justified by faith” is only slightly more literal. In each of these translations, we see one of the key elements of the passage: the declaration of justification is in the past. That is, the aorist participle, syntactically speaking, refers to an action that is antecedent to the action of the main verb, here ‘echomen.’ As Fitzmeyer observed,
        “now that we are justified through faith. Lit., “justified from faith,” expressed by the air. pass. ptc., which connotes the once-for-all action of Christ Jesus on behalf of humanity. What is stated at the beginning of this verse is a summation of the latter section of part A, especially 3:22-26.” **

        The relationship between justification and having peace is clear: because we have been justified through faith as an action in the past, we now have, as a present possession, peace with God.

        There can be no doubt what lies behind Paul’s use of the term “peace” in this passage. The Jew steeped in Scripture knew full well the meaning of ‘shalom.’ It does not refer merely to a cessation of hostilities (though surely it means this as well, and such is true of justification, for the reason for hostility is removed in the work of Christ). It is not a temporary ceasefire. ‘Shalom’ would not refer to a situation where two armed forces face each other across a border, ready for conflict, but not yet at war. ‘Shalom’ refers to a fullness of peace, a wellness of relationship. It has a strong positive element. Those systems that proclaim a man-centred scheme of justification cannot explain the richness of this word. They cannot provide peace because a relationship that finds its source and origin in the actions of imperfect sinners will always be imperfect itself. Only the gospel of Christ, which says that Christ is our all-in-all, that Christ is the powerful Savior, that Christ is able to save completely (Hebrews 7:25), can provide for true peace.

        Justified by faith as a past action, resulting, infallibly, invariably, in peace with God: Paul will repeat this theme in Romans 8:30, where he will say that those who are justified by God will, without fail, be glorified by Him as well. The Christian can speak as the apostle Paul, “I have been justified by faith, I have peace with God through my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

        ** Some aorist participles can express a simultaneous action, but in this case the aorist participle with the present tense verb clearly refers to an antecedent action, as all meaningful translations recognize. Aorist participles are routinely and regularly antecedent in their time to the main verb of the sentence. They can be contemporaneous in action, but they are so with (1) other aorists and (2) what is called a “historical present.” Romans 5:1 fits in neither category, hence, the translation.”

        The lesson here: Greek participles matter.

      • vivator / Jun 9 2018 11:58 am

        The bomb analogy works, if you cherry-picked the second definition of “necessary” from Google as stated in the comment by “F”. You are entitled to pick any definition that fits well with your belief.

        You keep on avoiding answering crucial question by going around it. You wrote that the right question is: will someone who is truly saved and going to heaven show fruit? (answer: yes). But it still goes back to the same question: How much works a person must show that he is truly saved? To help you understand this dilemma of your belief, watch the videos from the late Sproul (you can find them by googling – there are at least two of them) who talked about carnal Christians.

        According to Sproul, a Christian who is 100% carnal is not Christian and is not saved – which I agree 100%. How about 99.9% carnal? Still go to heaven or not? Or must it be less than a certain percentage? Your salvation is by faith plus works – the works is to maintain your carnality (which everybody has) below X% (0% < X < 100%). Question: What is X? If you say your carnality is always covered or imputed by Christ’ righteousness, then it makes no difference whether you are 0.1% carnal or 99.9% carnal, as long as it is not 100% – do you, honestly, believe that?

        The Catholic Church does not define dogmatically until today whether Election is Conditional or Unconditional. It may remain as mystery because God does not have to reveal everything to us (Deut 29:29). Contrary to what you wrote, the Church does not and never condemn Unconditional Election of Thomism. Both Thomism free-will and that of Calvinist state that we need God’s efficacious grace that will move our free-will towards our justification. In both views it is Grace, not our free-will, that governs our salvation and that explains why both have predestination. The difference is in Thomism when Grace works in us, we cooperate with it while we remain free, known as synergism. Being free means we can reject it but we do not do it. In Calvinism, on the other hand, we remain passive when grace works in us in our regeneration, known as monergism. What happen after regeneration is synergism, according to most Reformed theologians.

        James White is not expert in Greek and neither am I. We need statement from scholar in Greek New Testament. I choose William Mounce (https://www.billmounce.com) – you can choose other, if you like. The phrase “justified by faith” appears four times in New Testament, one in present tense (Romans 3:28) and the rest in aorist tense (Romans 5:1, Galatians 2:16 and 3:24). Of the aorist tense, Mounce wrote: The aorist tense has often been mishandled by both scholars and preachers. Aorist verbs too frequently are said to denote once-for-all action when the text has no such intention (Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, page 202). James White is one of scholars who mishandled this aorist tense!

        Greek verbs have aspects and there are three of them: continuous or on-going action, completed action with continuing result to the present (from speaker/writer point of view) and undefined. Aorist tense has undefined aspect, the speaker/writer does not tell us whether the action is on-going or completed. It does indicate a completed action with continuing result to the present in Romans 6:10, Hebrews 7:27 and 9:12 because we have phrase “once for all” in those verses. Those four verses that contain “justified by faith” do not have that “once for all”. If Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, intends to teach justification by faith alone, then he would use passive perfect tense. It is the tense that precisely capture the teaching! Mounce wrote about Greek perfect tense: The Greek perfect is one of the more interesting tenses and is often used to express great theological truths. The Greek perfect describes an action that was brought to completion and whose effects are felt in the present. Because it describes a completed action, by implication the action described by the perfect verb normally occurred in the past (ibid, page 225). Certainly, Justification by faith alone, if it does exist in Scripture, should be one of great theological truths, isn’t it?

      • Rog2012 / Jun 19 2018 8:40 pm

        About the bomb analogy… which you actually made better with your comment “A bomb is dead object…” That is exactly what the Bible says about man’s inability to convert himself, or prepare for salvation (John 6:44, 65; Eph 2:2,3,4,5; 1Cor 2:14; Titus 3:3-5).

        Your charge of “cherry-picking” definitions is laughable in light of your Thomistic free-will which is truly at odds with normative Catholic teaching—this is why your supportive citation is found under the heading Controversies on Grace! Thomistic grace is efficacious because God makes it so; while normative Catholic teaching says grace is efficacious because man’s free will makes it so (by accepting or denying grace). Therefore my question to you remains unanswered: why are you dogmatic on Thomistic free will and not so on Thomistic predestination which is virtually the same as Calvinist predestination?

        You go on to write “… the Church does not and never condemn[sic] Unconditional Election of Thomism.” I didn’t say it did—what I did say is that Rome wants to own both sides of the argument. Talking from both sides of its mouth is nothing new for the Catholic church: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2018/06/weathercock-apologetics.html

        Your question “How much works a person must show that he is truly saved?[sic]” is best put to a system that combines justification and sanctification: i.e., Yours. Nevertheless Piper answers that question on page 159 of the book Acting the Miracle, God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification: “What’s required is not a quantity but a reality.”

        Do you have a good reason to doubt James White’s expertise of Koine Greek? Do you read and write Greek? Can you parse Greek verbs? Do you teach Greek?
        You go on to claim “James White is one of [those] scholars who mishandled this aorist tense!(of Romans 5:1), then you have the audacity to cite Greek scholar William Mounce to support your allegation, by quoting him on the Greek perfect tense—clearly a tactic of misdirection. Why not actually cite Mounce’s interpretation of Romans 5:1, which agrees with James White’s interpretation: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/romans-5-11/new-testament/william-mounce

        Yes, justification by faith alone is indeed a great biblical and theological truth. The book of Romans proves it.

      • vivator / Jun 19 2018 9:52 pm

        Catholics agree that without efficacious and prevenient grace from God man CANNOT convert himself – no problem with John 6:44, 65; Eph 2:2,3,4,5; 1Cor 2:14; Titus 3:3-5. The problem is on your side who keeps on confusing (or pretending to confuse) synergism with semi-pelagianism, despite being explained so many times.

        A bomb may not explode, i.e. it does not produce hear but we still call it a bomb. From time to time they discovered bombs dropped during second world war, but did not explode. We know they are bombs, not simple corroded metal objects, because they need experts to defuse and remove them.

        You wrote “Thomistic grace is efficacious because God makes it so; while normative Catholic teaching says grace is efficacious because man’s free will makes it so (by accepting or denying grace)”. The second part indicates your constant and perpetual intention to label Catholicism with semi-pelagianism. This is NOT what the Catholic Church teaches – you NEVER show reference from authoritative Catholic source to support your statement! What you did is quoting statement from your allies like triablogue etc., which is silly and wasting time. Both Thomism and Calvinism teach Unconditional Election and the similarity ends there – other wise they would give the same name, whichever came first. Let me repeat again that both in synergism and monergism, efficacious grace from God governs our destiny.

        How much works required to go to heaven does not apply to Catholic teaching on salvation – it always applies to yours, which you try desperately NOT to answer. First following Scripture (1 John 5:16-17) Catholics believe in deadly and non-deadly sins. If one dies with just ONE unrepented deadly sin then he/she goes to hell, even he/she did zillion good works through out his/her life. For scriptural support read Ezekiel 18:24, 26. Everybody commits deadly sin in one way or another and God’s efficacious grace moves him/her to repent. Anybody who dies without unrepented deadly sin will go to heaven, regardless how many deadly sins he/she committed. For scriptural support read Ezekiel 18:21, 27. Our salvation depends NEITHER on how many good works we do NOR on how many deadly sins (i.e. carnality) we commit but on whether we die without unrepented deadly sin, which is possible only by Grace. Thus Catholics can say that our salvation is by grace, that GOVERNS our free-will. By grace alone is the slogan of the Reformers – it is one of the five solas. But in reality there are works that are necessary for salvation, i.e. to show fruit of your true faith, as stated by Piper and others, including Luther. You will NEVER know minimum works required to show fruit as your faith or maximum carnality you may have – what you do is avoiding answering this issue or keeping it in the closet, so to speak. Why Christ’ perfect righteousness cannot cover, per your belief, 100% of our carnality or 0 % of our good works is something you need to ponder. Remember, according to Reformed teaching, our good works are always polluted with sin and imperfect.

        Mounce is a Protestant and that explains why he believes in justification by faith alone. Being a scholar, he will not write his made-up version of Greek aorist and perfect tense.

        You are entitled to believe in justification by faith alone and I am entitled to believe in justification by grace – that is what the Bible and the Catholic Church teach.

  4. vivator / May 8 2018 5:08 pm

    I don’t see the point of drawing a parallel between Number 21:6-9 with the role of good works in Reformed soteriology. The verses do not say how many times they must look at bronze serpent, only one time or every time they were bitten. Even if you insisted they need to do it once, the verses do not negate the necessary of good works in salvation, as candidly explained by John Piper and others. An you claim that you know Scripture than I do simply because you”manage” to understand it according to your Reformed tradition.

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