Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
A Few Roman Catholic Notes (and...Other Stuff)
01/31/2007 - James WhiteTQuid (James Swan) has a fascinating post here. I would like to suggest another scenario that is more likely than the one TQ mentioned. I would suspect that one of the regular RC readers of my blog contacted Hahn. I doubt he reads my blog anymore than he has to (i.e., when he is mentioned, or when a relevant topic is addressed). In any case, you cannot help but chuckle a bit at the language of conversion. I've seen it for decades now. If a young man, a student even, who has read some Reformed theology (and has even listened to some Greg Bahnsen tapes!), apostatizes, all of a sudden that young person becomes one of the most brilliant thinkers of our age as a newly minted RC. Of course, had he stayed where he was, he would not have been a brilliant thinker at all. You truly wonder if those who use such language don't chuckle a bit as they are typing.
I may just have to get TQ to join Team ProsApologian. If I could convince the Calvinist Gadfly to come over, too, we would definitely have the firepower to take out ol' Team Pyro in the Calvinist Blog SuperBowl X (I haven't a clue what happened in the previous nine, but X looks so much more impressive than I).
I likewise noted this paean to sacramentalism from another writer, a "re-convert" to Rome. My sacramentalist critics (both Roman and non) attribute my views to ignorance of the "beauty" of the sacraments. I have to apologize to them all, but you see, I truly do seek to bring all aspects of my thinking under the lordship of Christ. I find Him speaking with clarity in His Word. I do not find Him speaking at all in the mumblings of Rome, or the ever-self-contradictory ramblings of the traditions of men. So those things that arise from those non-divine sources hold no attraction for me. But beyond even this, when they become self-evidently contrary to divine truth and pure worship, they cease being simply items of irrelevance but instead they become objects of disgust. When God's glorious gospel becomes encrusted with layers of human accretion in the form of "sacraments," I find it hard to find any "beauty" in them at all.
Join with this reality the fact that I find most sacramentalists to have a higher love for their activities and rituals than they have for the divine truths of God's revelation, and you can see why I really am in no position to find much common ground with these folks. Inevitably the human-originated religiosity over-powers the divine decrees concerning purity of worship, and the results are predictable. In the case of Rome, even the gospel itself is lost, forced out of the realm of proclamation by the bloated self-importance of an allegedly infallible, unreformable hierarchy.
So the person trusting in the grace channeled through the sacraments of his church, who has been willing to trade in a finished work and a perfect Savior for the endless treadmill of sacramental obligation, will not find me traveling that road with them. Nor will I find any basis upon which to embrace the exaltation of these unbiblical, human inventions. When you've found the real thing, all these baubles and bangles just seem so...cheap. It was like the Papal Treasures exhibit I visited in 1993 in Denver. Gold and silver and diamonds and crowns and clothing---all utterly worthless in my eyes. Repulsive, actually. But that one piece of papyri from the beginning of the third century written by a fellow believer long, long ago (seen here), well, that was true treasure. Likewise, all the gaudy gold and jewels of the Vatican, adorning all the monuments to man and his religiosity and his power---utterly cold and empty. Do forgive again (I know I offended many when I made that comment on this blog when I was in Rome), but marble monuments to man's self-absorption and perversion of God's truth are not attractive to me. In comparison, this martyr's cross, which speaks to the suffering of God's people at the hands of communists and Muslims across the world today, is far more attractive to me than all the gold and silver and relics and tombs and religiosity and fanfare and sacramentalism anyone can offer. Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder. One's sense of beauty is trained by one's world view, one's heart. My heart still breaks when I see people abandoning the truth for a lie. Yes, I know that probably means they never knew the truth in the first place. But I do pray that I will never become accustomed to seeing people moving away from truth and toward destruction. God help me to not become jaded to such things.
Finally, I could really stretch things and make some kind of connection between Pete Ruckman and Roman Catholicism...but I will leave that kind of humor to the experts. Since everyone else has just recently discovered Tom Slawson, I thought I'd link to this article. I have been insulted by Ruckman many times. I get to laugh about it.
Can this kind of faith save him?
01/16/2007 - James WhiteThe following is taken from The God Who Justifies pp. 333-336:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? (NET)The text of the verse presents no difficult variants, and its translation is not questioned in the main. However, one vitally important syntactical issue must be addressed, that being the translation of the last phrase and in particular the presence of the definite article h` before the word pi,stij (faith). As this is the opening statement of James thesis for 2:14-26, we need to take special care in our understanding of what he intends to communicate.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? (NIV)
What use it is, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have deeds? Is the faith able to save him? (Luke Timothy Johnson, The Letter of James, 236)
What good is it, my brothers Literally, what benefit or gain is there? The phrase is repeated in 2:16. The question is rhetorical. There is no benefit or substance to the claim being made, anymore than there is in 16. The NET takes the plural masculine as a generic plural forthe entire Christian congregation ("brothers and sisters"), recognizing that the words of James apply equally to men and women.
if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Literally the text reads, "says" rather than "claims," but the NET translation is very accurate, retaining the infinitival form, "to have." James presents a hypothetical question. Is there any benefit or use in the claim of a person to be in possession (e;cein) of faith (pi,stin, placed first in the clause for emphasis) when that same person is not in possession of e;rga, deeds. Two immediate issues confront us:
First, the subjunctive le,gh| (says, claims) will be expanded upon by James throughout the section. It is plainly his intention to contrast the mere claim existing only in the realm of wordswith the true possession of real faith that is demonstrated by something more than mere speaking. Hence the accuracy of the NETs claims,for this carries more forcefully in English the idea of empty profession than merely says. This translation will be seen to fully fit James application in the next two verses.
Next, what is the correct translation of e;rga? Obviously both deeds and works fit the original meaning. Johnson comments,
The translation of erga as deeds attempts to represent more accurately the point as well as to avoid precipitous or inaccurate comparisons with Paul. Luke Timothy Johnson, The Letter of James (1995), 237.
A person seeking to equate Paul's context with James' context will object to such a translation. And as we have already seen, Paul's normative use of e;rga is actually perfectly in line with James! Paul often speaksof deeds done in righteousness that flow from a changed heart. Indeed, Paul teaches that we are saved by grace through faith unto good works (Eph. 2:8-10). He insists that it is God's purpose that we should walk in or live in doing good works (e;rgoij avgaqoi/j). Yet, we also know he says that no one is declared righteous before him by works of the law (Rom. 3:20) and that God credits righteousness apart from works (Rom. 4:6). So it is primarily in Paul that we see the same Greek term being used in more than one sense. Since the confusion generated by this passage is due to the errant assertion that James is addressing the same context that Paul addresses in Paul's decrying of works,choosing, with Johnson and the NIV, to use the term deeds makes perfect sense, and the wisdom of the translation will be borne out throughout the exegesis of the text. ...
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On this Day, 1521
01/03/2007 - James WhiteThis is the Papal Bull, Decet Romanum, by which Martin Luther was formally excommunicated by the Roman See. The earlier Papal Bull, Exsurge Domine, had been burned by Luther December 10, 1520. Given the paucity of cell phones in that day, it took a while for word to get to Rome of Luther's response. Hence, on this day, January 3, 1521, this document was promulgated. Its text follows. (ht: RW)
Through the power given him from God, the Roman Pontiff has been appointed to administer spiritual and temporal punishments as each case severally deserves. The purpose of this is the repression of the wicked designs of misguided men, who have been so captivated by the debased impulse of their evil purposes as to forget the fear of the Lord, to set aside with contempt canonical decrees and apostolic commandments, and to dare to formulate new and false dogmas and to introduce the evil of schism into the Church of God—or to support, help and adhere to such schismatics, who make it their business to cleave asunder the seamless robe of our Redeemer and the unity of the orthodox faith. Hence it befits the Pontiff, lest the vessel of Peter appear to sail without pilot or oarsman, to take severe measures against such men and their followers, and by multiplying punitive measures and by other suitable remedies to see to it that these same overbearing men, devoted as they are to purposes of evil, along with their adherents, should not deceive the multitude of the simple by their lies and their deceitful devices, nor drag them along to share their own error and ruination, contaminating them with what amounts to a contagious disease. It also befits the Pontiff, having condemned the schismatics, to ensure their still greater confounding by publicly showing and openly declaring to all faithful Christians how formidable are the censures and punishments to which such guilt can lead; to the end that by such public declaration they themselves may return, in confusion and remorse, to their true selves, making an unqualified withdrawal from the prohibited conversation, fellowship and (above all) obedience to such accursed excommunicates; by this means they may escape divine vengeance and any degree of participation in their damnation.
I [Here the Pope recounts his previous Bull Exsurge Domine and continues]
II We have been informed that after this previous missive had been exhibited in public and the interval or intervals it prescribed had elapsed [60 days]—and we hereby give solemn notice to all faithful Christians that these intervals have and are elapsed—many of those who had followed the errors of Martin took cognisance of our missive and its warnings and injunctions; the spirit of a saner counsel brought them back to themselves, they confessed their errors and abjured the heresy at our instance, and by returning to the true Catholic faith obtained the blessing of absolution with which the self-same messengers had been empowered; and in several states and localities of the said Germany the books and writings of the said Martin were publicly burned, as we had enjoined.
Nevertheless Martin himself—and it gives us grievous sorrow and perplexity to say this—the slave of a depraved mind, has scorned to revoke his errors within the prescribed interval and to send us word of such revocation, or to come to us himself; nay, like a stone of stumbling, he has feared not to write and preach worse things than before against us and this Holy See and the Catholic faith, and to lead others on to do the same. ...
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