Saturday, November 28, 2015

Is sinfulness what prevents "Works" from saving us?

I'm glad to say this blog is not dead. I did take a break, but mostly because I was busy with life and didn't have anything new/original to share. I never wanted this blog to be about posting for the sake of posting, so I deliberately limited my number of posts and only would post when I felt I had something worthwhile to share that wasn't the same old apologetics you read anywhere else. 

For this post I want to discuss an interesting twist on the "not saved by works" discussions a Catholic will typically get into with a Protestant. First, the Catholic must understand that, in the Protestant mind, man is absolutely saved by his own works apart from faith and God's grace, but because of sin man is now unable to save himself and must have Jesus do those works for man in man's place. Human works alone (apart from faith and grace) are still what save us in the Protestant mind, the only thing that changes is that now Jesus does that work in man's place. This is completely contrary to the Catholic understanding of salvation, in which man can only be saved by faith and grace, never by his own works no matter how good those works are. I discuss this more HERE

This leads me to the main focus of this post: Did Paul say that the reason why "works" cannot save us is because those works are 'tainted by sin'? That's certainly the typical Protestant answer, but as you will see, that's not the 'plain teaching' of Paul at all. For this post I will look at some of Paul's key salvation 'apart from works' texts. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Penal Substitution is the key to understanding Protestant Evangelicalism.

Over at the CCC Blog I recently posted "Understanding Christ's Cry of Abandonment" and I began by 'predicting' that by Good Friday we'd see a flood of posts from well-educated Protestants (mostly Calvinist/Reformed) who were going to completely botch the meaning of "My God, Why have you abandoned me?" And it turned out, a number of Protestant outlets posted on precisely this.

As you read the following quotes, take note of how the Protestant understanding of the Cross (Penal Substitution), in which they openly speak of "Christ being damned to hell in our place," is directly linked to Justification by Faith Alone and is the heart of the Gospel as Protestants understand it. So if you want to improve your apologetics and dialogue with Protestants, you should be ready to talk about this issue. Even the average Evangelical you run into believes this stuff, they just don't realize this is what they're espousing with their "Just say the Sinner's Prayer" theology.

And now the quotes from famous conservative Protestant ministry blogs (with my highlights). Since it's about 2.5 pages of quotes, I have trimmed them only to cut down on size:

How much did prayer cost God?
March 30, 2015 by Justin Taylor [The Gospel Coalition blog network],

[Quoting Reformed Pastor Tim Keller:] The only time in all the gospels that Jesus Christ prays to God and doesn’t call him Father is on the cross, when he says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus lost his relationship with the Father so that we could have a relationship with God as father. Jesus Christ bore all the eternal punishment that our sins deserve. That is the cost of prayer. Jesus paid the price so God could be our father.
“My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?”Mar 30, 2015 by Dr. Pastor Joel Beeke [Ligonier Ministries],
Experiencing the full brunt of His Father’s wrath, Jesus cannot stay silent. He cries out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Here Jesus descends into the essence of hell, the most extreme suffering ever experienced. It is a time so compacted, so infinite, so horrendous as to be incomprehensible and, seemingly, unsustainable. All the sins of the elect, and the hell that they deserve for eternity, are laid upon Him. With Jesus as our substitute, God’s wrath is satisfied and God can justify those who believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). You are immune to condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and to God’s anathema (Gal. 3:13) because Christ bore it for you in that outer darkness. 
This is a beautiful summary of the Protestant understanding of the Gospel. Jesus died in our place, we accept this by Faith Alone, and we can never lose our salvation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Two new posts at CCC: Problems with the Reformed view of Federal Headship and problems with the Reformed view of Liturgy.

I have two new posts up at Creed Code Cult. The first deals with the Reformed doctrine of "Federal Headship" and the problems with seeing salvation strictly in terms of Imputation (from a perspective most people don't think about), and the second is an article that explores the problems with the Reformed approach to Liturgy (and how Sola Scriptura is to blame).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Biblical proof that being "Clothed in Christ" has nothing to do with Protestant Imputation.

HERE is my latest post at Creed Code Cult where I show St Paul certainly did not have the Protestant dogma of "Christ's Imputed Righteousness" (by faith alone) in mind when he said we are "Clothed in Christ."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Traditionalism is the 'right wing' of AmChurch

The "American Catholic Church" (or "AmChurch" as some call it) refers to the Catholic experience in America of practicing the Faith with a "don't tell me what to believe" type attitude that is characteristic of Protestantism. The term is typically used by Traditionalists when speaking of “Liberal Catholics” in America, but the problem is much more serious because the Tradosphere is actually founded upon essentially the same erroneous (Liberal) principles as the AmChurch’s 'left wing'.

Long ago Rome saw these dangers creeping in, and so Pope Leo XIII issued an Encyclical against "Americanism" in which he singled out three big dangers we face:
These dangers are: (1) the confounding of license with liberty; (2) the passion for discussing and pouring contempt upon any possible subject; (3) the assumed right to hold whatever opinions one pleases and to set them forth in print to the world. (Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae)
The first error is the chief characteristic of Liberalism, which states that man is not bound to any law beyond himself, including not bound to Natural Law. The result is that "Liberty" becomes defined as “the right to do or say whatever you want” - which is not true Liberty at all, since it lacks restraints.

Building on the first error, the second and third AmChurch errors listed above immediately find their justification. They now think they have the right to discuss, criticize, pour out contempt upon, and especially publish anything he pleases. This "assumed right" states that one can even smear the reputation of another, protected under the guise of "free speech" (another Liberal error).

Monday, November 17, 2014

A clear prophecy of the Catholic Church in the Old Testament?

Over at the Creed Code Cult blog is an Article on how the Old Testament Prophet Daniel gave an unmistakable prophecy of the Catholic Church as a universal, visible, and everlasting entity on earth. This prophecy doesn't fit with the Protestant understanding of Christ's Church (ecclesiology), which is that of an invisible body and which fell into full apostasy prior to Luther (else there would have been no reason for Luther to break away if there was a faithful remnant already).

I firmly believe this is an awesome and effective apologetics argument to use against Evangelicals.

Update 11-19-14: I have found online an article called “Interpretations of the Kingdom of God in Daneil 2:44” by Gerhard Pfandl (1996). He gives a good summary of the patristic data. The following Patristic sources he cites I was able to find online and verify the quotes:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Is Imputation taught in 2 Corinthians 5:21?

Protestants consider 2 Corinthians 5:21 to be one of the chief Biblical proof texts for for their doctrine of the Imputed Righteousness of Christ. In fact, they put so much emphasis on this verse that a lot of their credibility hangs on it. Given this, I want to provide Catholics with some key information on what to say when speaking with a Protestant on this crucial text, because if you can stop them in their tracks here, you'll have gone a long way towards causing them to rethink everything about their own position and what Catholicism has to offer them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The difference between Catholics and Protestants

Over at Creed, Code, Cult, there is a new post (LINK) briefly discussing the core differences between Catholics and Protestants. People on each side of the fence need to know both their own position as well as the position of those on the other side, otherwise dialogue will never go anywhere. When each side defines key terms very differently, it does no good to simply quote verses, since each side is reading them with their own lens.

There is also an good discussion going on in the comments between me ("Nick") and "Eric," as well as a few others. The other comments are not really on topic, so if you don't have the time, just skim over them (e.g. the person posting by the name "Faith" is going off on his own tangents).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Does Infant Baptism contradict Calvinism?

I wrote an article for Jason Stellman's blog on why I believe Infant Baptism is incompatible with Reformed Theology. Since the Reformed tradition adamantly teaches Infant Baptism is a necessary and orthodox Christian teaching, if Infant Baptism is incompatible with other points of Reformed Theology, it means the Calvinist system is self-refuting and thus false.

The key question is: Does Baptism actually produce a change in the infant? For example, does the act of Baptizing, by the very act, induct an infant into the New Covenant? The answer is either Yes or No. 

If the answer to that question is Yes, then on what basis do the Reformed really have for opposing the Catholic notion of Baptismal Regeneration? None that I can see. Since no text of Scripture limits the effects of Baptism to merely inducting one into the New Covenant, it would naturally imply that if Baptism does something 'automatically' to the infant, then all baptized infants receive the same gifts that the Bible says Baptism bestows. So a Yes answer is obviously unacceptable.

But if the answer to that question is No, then it means Baptism doesn't do anything to the infant, and instead is an external sign of an already existing reality. For example, throwing a birthday party is an outward sign that someone is a year older, but it doesn't make the person one year older. The problem here is that it would mean children of believing parents are automatically part of the New Covenant in virtue of their natural conception or natural birth, which seems blasphemous since basically makes Baptism superfluous and it reduces New Covenant membership to a matter of biology. This would mean a No answer is also obviously unacceptable

If both options are unacceptable, then it means Infant Baptism contradicts Reformed Theology, despite being a part of Reformed Theology, making the system inconsistent and thus self-refuting. 

From my study on this matter, I think the problem is even worse, since it seems that the Reformed have equated baptism with circumcision, rather than drawing a parallel between them. And if that's the case, I see it as a variation of the Judaizer heresy, conflating life under the Mosaic Law with life in the Church. I address this more in the article linked above.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Reformed Professor Matthew Barrett and the shallowness of the Protestant grasp of Scripture

I'm not writing this brief article to make fun of anyone, but simply as an example of the sad situation Protestantism finds itself in when it comes to interpreting Scripture. I really want to emphasize this because for a long time and even still to this day Protestants are under a serious delusion that Catholics are too dumb to really know the plain teaching of Scripture. In this post I want to give a brief look at what a Reformed Seminary Professor posted on his blog.

Matthew Barrett has a PhD in systematic theology, is editor of a major Reformed magazine (Credo), and is a professor at a Reformed college. Just yesterday he posted on the Credo Magazine blog a post titled "It is finished: A reflection on John 19:30." Just by the title, you'd think that Dr Barrett is going to exegete this verse, and in fact I was drawn to read this post precisely because I know this verse is important for the Calvinist view of the Atonement. But when you read the brief "reflection," there's no actual exegesis of the text at all. He merely quotes the text in passing a few times, which is simply how most Protestants approach this verse. 

These two concluding paragraphs form the heart of his post, so that's all I'll quote and comment upon:
When we come to the cross and we see the enormous amount of suffering Jesus underwent, we tend to focus solely on his physical suffering: the crown of thorns, the nails, and the crucifix. But as important as all of this is, we cannot miss the main thing: the most excruciating thing about the suffering servant’s cross is that he bore the very wrath of God that was ours. The Lord laid upon Christ our iniquities and Christ took the due penalty for those iniquities. We see this and we hear it when Christ cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34). And then come three beautiful words, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

What is finished? Christ, as he says in the garden of Gethsamani, has drunk the cup of God’s wrath in full (Matt. 26:39), and by doing so, as Hebrews 1:3 reminds us, Christ “made purification for sins.” As our high priest Christ “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11-12; cf. 9:13, 25-26). Indeed, this is good news.
Again, this man has a PhD in systematic theology, so he should know how to exegete Scripture and know how things fit together. And yet these handful of sentences show the most embarrassing level of interpretive skill and grasp of theology. But really, this is par for the course for the highest levels of orthodox Reformed Protestant scholarship.

Dr Barrett starts off by making the standard Protestant claim that Christ's physical sufferings at the hands of men, as dreadful as they were, were in fact nothing compared to the spiritual suffering of enduring the Father's Divine Wrath. Such statements are so obviously outrageous that I'd expect others to be speaking up against it. Dr Barrett both trivializes the physical sufferings of Our Lord and introduces a completely foreign concept of God's Wrath being poured out on Christ. Sadly, as I noted earlier, this is in fact the best Protestantism has to offer. It's not that they do this on purpose, but they have serious 'blinders' on that prevent them from thinking clearly. Such is the reality of sin, and such is the position one is put in when they're outside the Catholic Church. Trivializing the physical sufferings of Christ is equivalent to denying the Crucifixion, and God help me if I or any Catholic trivializes the heart of our salvation like that.

I'm not going to beat a dead horse on the "My God, why have you forsaken me?" comments, because I've covered that many times before. I just want people, Protestant and Catholic, to just stop and look at how shallow Reformed theology is and the liberties and desperation it takes with the Sacred Text. It's truly an abuse of God's Word if there ever was one. And to follow this up, Dr Barrett brings up the main text in question, "It is finished," as if he had actually exegeted and proved his thesis. He is oblivious to the fact "It is finished" has it's own context in John, and he's oblivious to the fact John (and Luke) never mention the "forsaken me" quote, despite Dr Barrett's insistence that this "forsaken me" text is the heart of the true understanding of the Cross. He has the audacity to ask "What is finished?" without even looking at the context. And he concludes by quoting all these texts from Hebrews, not realizing the absolute silence in Hebrews about any reference to God's Wrath (or Active Obedience). What's going on folks? And to think this is the enlightened 'wisdom' of men who don't want you to be Catholic? Give me a break.

Once you have the right glasses on, you have a hard time taking Protestantism seriously. To get the right glasses on, you just have to realize that Protestants don't really follow the Bible at all, but rather they follow a completely unbiblical "tradition of men"  called Sola Fide, and they accept this as a starting premise and from there proceed to make Scripture fit. The Reformation wasn't about Sola Scriptura, it was about Sola Fide, specifically the agenda of presuming its truth and forcing the Scripture's to agree (resulting in numerous other "traditions of men" they are forced to embrace). 

I guess what's really hard about reading this kind of stuff is that I really hoped for better, and I truly believe Protestants owe us Catholics better. But it's almost as if God's Word has a built in safety feature, where the moment someone starts to tamper with it, absurdities surface. That's precisely what happens with Protestant scholarship, and Reformed theology in particular. If the Reformed blogosphere isn't going to call out such embarrassing statements which the Reformed PhD's routinely make, then how can we really take them seriously?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Can Protestants drink from Christ's Cup and Carry their Cross in obedience to Jesus? I don't think so.

Today on John Piper's Desiring God Blog a guest writer named Steven Lee wrote a post titled "The Cup Consumed for Us." The post is a brief reflection on Matthew 20:20-28 where the apostles James and John are asked by Jesus "Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" Lee interprets this verse in the way many Calvinists do, claiming that this cup Jesus is going to drink is "the cup of God's wrath." But is this true? And wouldn't such a claim make nonsense of Our Lord's words? That's what I'll address in this post. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Does the Catholic view of Christ's Atonement permit the Reformed view of "Penal Substitution"?

Some Reformed Protestants have commented to me that the Catholic Church doesn't have an official view of the Atonement and that the Catholic Church even permits the Reformed view of "Penal Substitution". The problem with these kinds of claims is that they don't understand what the Catholic Church means when the Church uses terms like "atonement" and "sacrifice" (and similar terms), so these Protestants end up reading foreign ideas into Catholic teaching. The fact of the matter is, the Catholic Church doesn't have to condemn every single error that comes up in history, especially if those errors are already condemned in other forms. So while you won't find any Church teaching that says "Penal Substitution is heresy," you will find the Church teaching things directly contrary to what Penal Substitution espouses. Typically, the Church lays out parameters for orthodoxy, and while one is free to work within those parameters, one is not free to transgress those parameters. For this post I'll be giving some examples of Catholic teaching that go against the concept of Penal Substitution, showing that a Catholic cannot embrace that view of the Cross and be within the parameters of orthodoxy and Catholic thought.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Protestant apologetics site GotQuestions? says Jesus "spiritually died" on the Cross.

Sorry to annoy you dear readers, but I'm going to have to post a third post this week, after finding yet another big name Protestant apologist making it clear that God the Father damned His Son Jesus in place of damning us. This time it's the website GotQuestions?, a popular online source where Protestants can get their theological questions answered from a conservative Protestant viewpoint. I'll try to make this brief since I mostly just want it to be a "for the record" type post.

The following quotes about what kind of suffering Jesus endured come from various Question & Answer posts on the GotQuestions? website, so I'll quote and provide the link to each (quotes are trimmed down for brevity).
  • A physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death, which is of greater significance, is the separation of the soul from God. When Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord, they “hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God.” The fellowship had been broken. They were spiritually dead. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He paid the price for us by dying on our behalf. Even though He is God, He still had to suffer the agony of a temporary separation from the Father due to the sin of the world He was carrying on the cross. After three hours of supernatural darkness, He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:33-34). This spiritual separation from the Father was the result of the Son’s taking our sins upon Himself. That’s the impact of sin. Sin is the exact opposite of God, and God had to turn away from His own Son at that point in time. (Question: "What is spiritual death?")

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reformed apologist Joe Mizzi says Jesus was "forgotten" by the Father while on the Cross.

Just last week I wrote about how Calvinist John Piper explicitly said Jesus was "damned in our place," and today another Calvinist apologist named Joe Mizzi wrote on his blog a similar article. The article is titled “Why have you forsaken me?” (3-26-14), which briefly deals with Jesus’ words on the Cross and what these words mean. Included in the reflection was the following claims by Joe Mizzi:
But the next time he opened his mouth, Jesus uttered these mysterious words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Many centuries before, the Psalmist had declared: “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken” (Psalms 37:25). But on the cross the Righteous One was forgotten by God – He who never committed the least sin, who unfailingly obeyed the whole will of God, and in whom the Father was well-pleased. In that dark hour the Father left the Son on his own.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

John Piper says Jesus was "damned in our place" - Do Calvinists realize what they're saying?

A few days ago I was skimming over John Piper's blog (he's a popular Calvinist author, pastor, and writer) and I noticed his post for March 18, 2014 contained an outrageous comment regarding Our Lord's Passion and Death. I didn't read the whole post since it was an odd mixture of thoughts, but his conclusion caught my eye just because it was so outrageous: 
When Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” it was the scream of the damned — damned in our place (Isaiah 53:5–6; Romans 8:3; Galatians 3:14). If we will repent and trust him, no Esau, no lesbian, no president, no pastor, no person will be condemned. Our sight and our reason will return to us.
This isn't the first time Piper has said such things about Jesus being "damned in our place," as I've recorded such comments of his in prior articles, but I wanted to post on this just for the record that he's still saying this stuff even today. And Calvinists really don't mind, because they agree that what he's saying is what the Protestant understanding of the Cross is all about: Jesus enduring the hellfire damnation that we deserved to endure, substituting himself to be punished in our place, also known as Penal Substitution.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Isaiah 53 - Does it really say God "crushed" Jesus? (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

Whenever I challenge a Protestant to show where the Bible teaches that God the Father poured out His wrath upon Jesus, one of their go-to verses is Isaiah 53:10 where it says: It was the will of the Lord to crush him. At first appearance, this does come off as suggesting the Father actively inflicted punishment upon Jesus, but it turns out that there are two versions of this text, one of which uses a very different word than "crush".

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Reformed exegetical whopper on The Parable of the Good Samaratan (plus a bonus Papacy Proof)

From the What in the world was he thinking? File comes a link that Bryan Cross shared a little over a month ago on his blog, but I didn't have a chance to re-share it until now. The link is to a January 2014 blog post by Tullian Tchividjian, who teaches at Reformed Seminary (and is Billy Graham's grandson). In his post, Tullian "interprets" the parable of the Good Samaritan - that famous parable from Luke 10:29-37 where Jesus teaches us what it means to 'love our neighbor'. This is pretty straightforward stuff, and yet, astonishingly, Tullian ends up turning the simple lesson of Jesus on it's head. 

Here are some key excerpts (see the main article for the full story) from Tullian's article: 
This parable is perhaps the best known story Jesus ever told after the parable of The Prodigal Son. It is, however, also the most misunderstood.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Another Papacy proof from the Early Church - (Pope Hormisdas, AD519)

Here's a relatively brief apologetics argument for the Papacy that I was introduced to which I think is worth sharing. I'll start with a historical background (with lots of assistance from Wikipedia), then present the argument, and then I'll end by examining some potential objections.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Natural Law...OR...New Covenant in Rom. 2:14-15 - What "Law" is written on the heart?

This is somewhat of a Part 2 to my previous post, "Imputed Righteousness in the New Covenant?"

For this post I want to share a fascinating find regarding a fascinating text of Scripture that is often glossed over when reading Romans 2. Embedded within the context of Paul's claim that "the doers of the law will be justified" (2:13) is a curious statement that the Gentiles "who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires" (2:14) and so reveal that "the law is written on their hearts" (2:15). This text can play a key role in Protestant-Catholic discussions because the way it uses the term "law," which is a crucial term to understand when reading Paul. It is my contention, as well as that of a growing number of Protestant scholars, that the term "law" (Greek: nomos) specifically refers to the Mosaic Law, and not to some more generic eternal law of God. Recognizing the serious negative implications of this for Sola Fide, some Protestants are fond of turning to Romans 2:14-15, thinking that this text provides an escape. In this post I will show that this text doesn't help this Protestant objection at all, and in fact opens an avenue to prove the Catholic position.