Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Imputation of Righteousness in Church History (As discussed on the Dividing Line today)
11/20/2012 - Tur8infanPastor David King was of great help in providing the following example of an early church Father, a medieval Father, a Doctor of the Church (according to Rome), and a cardinal of the Roman church, all affirming imputation in some form or other.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): The fragrance of your wisdom comes to us in what we hear, for if anyone needs wisdom let him ask of you and you will give it to him. It is well known that you give to all freely and ungrudgingly. As for your justice, so great is the fragrance it diffuses that you are called not only just but even justice itself, the justice that makes men just. Your power to make men just is measured by your generosity in forgiving. Therefore the man who through sorrow for sin hungers and thirsts for justice, let him trust in the One who changes the sinner into a just man, and, judged righteous in terms of faith alone, he will have peace with God. See Kilian Walsh, O.C.S.O., Bernard of Clairvaux On the Song of Songs II (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, Inc.,1983), Sermon 22.8, p. 20.
Latin text: Porro sapientiae tuae odorem ex eo percipimus quod audivimus quia si quis indiget sapientia, postulet eam a te, et dabis ei. Aiunt siquidem quod des omnibus affluenter, et non improperes. At vero justitiae tuae tanta ubique fragrantia spargitur, ut non solum justus, sed etiam ipsa dicaris justitia, et justitia justificans. Tam validus denique es ad justificandum, quam multus ad ignoscendum. Quamobrem quisquis pro peccatis compunctus esurit et sitit justitiam, credat in te qui justificas impium, et solam justificatus per fidem, pacem habebit ad Deum. Sermones in Cantica, Sermo XXII, §8, PL 183:881D.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Man therefore was lawfully delivered up, but mercifully set free. Yet mercy was shown in such a way that a kind of justice was not lacking even in his liberation, since, as was most fitting for man s recovery, it was part of the mercy of the liberator to employ justice rather than power against man s enemy. For what could man, the slave of sin, fast bound by the devil, do of him self to recover that righteousness which he had formerly lost? Therefore he who lacked righteousness had another’s imputed to him, and in this way: The prince of this world came and found nothing in the Saviour, and because he notwithstanding laid hands on the Innocent he lost most justly those whom he held captive; since He who owed nothing to death, lawfully freed him who was subject to it, both from the debt of death, and the dominion of the devil, by accepting the injustice of death; for with what justice could that be exacted from man a second time? It was man who owed the debt, it was man who paid it. For if one, says S. Paul, died for all, then were all dead (2 Cor. v. 14), so that, as One bore the sins of all, the satisfaction of One is imputed to all. It is not that one forfeited, another satisfied; the Head and body is one, viz., Christ. The Head, therefore, satisfied for the members, Christ for His children, since, according to the Gospel of Paul, by which Peter’s [i.e., Abelard] falsehood is refuted, He who died for us, quickened us together with Himself, forgiving us all our trespasses, blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross, having spoiled principalities and powers (Col. ii. 13, 14). Dom. John Mabillon, ed., Life and Works of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, trans. Samuel J. Eales, Vol. II, Letter CXC – Against Certain Heads of Abaelard’s Heresies, 6.15 (London: Burns and Oates Limited, 1889), pp. 580-581. Cf. Epistola CXC, ad Innocentum II, Pontificem, Tractatus de erroribus Petri Abaelardi, Caput VI, §15, PL 182:1065B-D.
Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621): And in this way, it were not absurd, if any one should say that the righteousness and merits of Christ are imputed unto us, when they are given and applied unto us, as if we ourselves had satisfied God. For translation, see The Works of John Owen, The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, General Considerations, ed. William H. Goold, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, Third printing, 1977), vol. V, p. 56.
Latin text: Et hoc modo non esset absurdum, si quis diceret nobis imputari Christi justitiam et merita; cum nobis donentur et applicentur; ac si nos ipsi Deo satisfecissemus. Roberti Bellarmini, Opera Omnia, De Controversiis, Tomus Quartus, Pars Prima, De Justificatione (Neapoli: Apud Josephum Giuliano, 1858), Liber II, Caput 10, p. 523.
Bellarmine cannot deny this when he says that Christ can rightly be said to be made righteousness meritoriously "because he satisfied the Father for us, and gives and communicates that satisfaction to us, when he justifies us, so that he can be called our sanctification and righteousness, as if we ourselves had satisfied God" ("De Justificatione," 2.10 Opera , 4:523). This he confirms on 2 Cor. 5:21: "The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us as to the satisfaction, which he made for us" (ibid., p. 524). Nor can that which our opponent adds in the same place help his cause when he says: "But not on this account can we be reckoned righteous, if the stains and corruption of sins truly inhere in us" (ibid.). For if the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us (as he had already confessed), then certainly we are considered righteous in him; for no one imputes righteousness to him whom he does not count righteous. And if the satisfaction of Christ is imputed to us, then our debts for which he satisfied are not imputed [to us], but are remitted. Falsely also he holds "that the righteousness inhering in us is here called the righteousness of God because it is given to us of God; or also because it is the image and effect of the righteousness of God" (ibid.). For the little clause "in him" stands in the way; for how could it be said to be in Christ, if it was in us? [Cardinal] Contarini acknowledges this: "The righteousness of God in him, since his righteousness is made ours, is given and imputed to us" (cf. "De Justificatione," Casparis Contareni Cardinalis Opera , p. 592).
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 2, pp. 652-53, Sixteenth Topic, Third Question, Section XVII, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1994)
Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Psalm 22:1: Let it [i.e., the LXX] therefore heed John’s loud cry, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” and the divinely inspired Paul’s words, “For us he made him to be sin who did not know sin so that we might become righteousness through him,” and again, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us.” So just as the one who was a fount of righteousness assumed our sin, and the one who was an ocean of blessing accepted a curse lying upon us, and scorning shame endured a cross, so too he uttered the words on our behalf. After all, if he willingly submitted to chastisement prescribed for us—“Chastisement of our peace is upon him,” the inspired author says—much more is it the case that it was on our behalf that he employed these words in our person, crying out, The words of my failings are far from saving me: do not have regard to the faults of nature, he is saying, but grant salvation in view of my sufferings. Robert C. Hill, The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 101, Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Psalms, 1-72 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2000), pp. 146-147.
Greek text: Ἀκουσάτωσαν τοίνυν Ἰωάννου τοῦ πάνυ βοῶντος· «Ἴδε ὁ Ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου.» Τοῦ δὲ θεσπεσίου Παύλου λέγοντος·«Τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς γενώμεθα δικαιοσύνη ἐν αὐτῷ.» Καὶ πάλιν· «Χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξηγόρασεν ἐκ τῆς κατά ρας τοῦνόμου, γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα.» Τοιγαροῦν ὥσπερ δικαιοσύνης ὑπάρχων πηγὴ, τὴν ἡμετέραν ἁμαρτίαν ἀνέλαβε, καὶ εὐλογίας ὢν πέλα γος, τὴν ἐπικειμένηνἡμῖν ἐδέξατο κατάραν, καὶ σταυρὸν ὑπέμεινεν αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας· οὕτω καὶ τοὺς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐποιήσατο λόγους. Εἰ γὰρ τὴν ὡρισμένην ὑμῖν παιδείαν ὑπῆλθενἑκών· «Παιδεία γὰρ εἰρήνης ἡμῶν ἐπʼ αὐτὸν,» ᾗ φησιν ὁ προφήτης· πολλῷ μᾶλλον τοῖς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἀνθʼ ἡμῶν ἐχρήσατο λόγοις, καὶ βοᾷ «Μακρὰν ἀπὸ τῆςσωτηρίας μου οἱ λόγοι τῶν παραπτωμάτων μου.» Μὴ ἀποβλέψῃς, φησὶν, εἰς τὰ τῆς φύσεως πλημμελήματα· ἀλλὰ δὸς τὴν σωτηρίαν διὰ τὰ ἐμὰ παθήματα. Interpretatio in Psalmos, Psalmi XXI, v. 1, PG 80:1012.
Addendum, thanks to Bruce McCormack's Justification in Perspective:
Ambrosiaster (fl. 4th century): This he says, that without the works of the law, to an impious person (that is, a Gentile) believing in Christ, his faith is imputed for righteousness, as it was to Abraham. How then can the Jews imagine that through the works of the law they are justified with Abraham's justification, when they see that Abraham was justified not from the works of the law, but by faith alone? Therefore there is no need of the law, since an impious person is justified with God through faith alone. Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul's Epistles, on Romans 4:5 (PL 17:86).
Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225): In short, faith in one of two gods cannot possibly admit us to the dispensation of the other, so that it should impute righteousness to those who believe in him, and make the just live through him, and declare the Gentiles to be his children through faith. Such a dispensation as this belongs wholly to Him through whose appointment it was already made known by the call of this self-same Abraham, as is conclusively shown by the natural meaning. Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book 5, Chapter 3 (see here).
Transcript: Does The Bible Teach Sola Scriptura? - James White vs. Jerry Matatics - Vintage
11/15/2012 - James WhiteOpening Argument
It is good to be with you this evening on a rather chilly evening outside. You need to remember that in Phoenix it has not been this cold in probably about 3,000 years. But I enjoy it, the air is clean and it is good to be with you here in Omaha.
I want to take you back, as we discuss sola Scriptura this evening, to the period following the Council of Nicaea in 325. You may recall from your church history that the Council of Nicaea the full deity of Our Lord Jesus Christ was affirmed by the council--that Jesus Christ was not a creature, he was not a created being-- yet you may also be aware that in the period that followed the Council of Nicaea, for the next number of decades, Arianism reigned supreme in the Church. For example, Athanasius, the great bishop, was driven from his See five times during the period of time following Nicaea because of the political activities of the Arians. During that particular period of time, Athanasius, writing to his friend, Adelphius, against the Arians, wrote the following. Please listen closely.
"Such then, as we have above described is the madness and daring of those men (speaking of the Arians). But our faith is right and starts from the teaching of the Apostles and tradition of the fathers, being confirmed both by the New Testament and the Old. For the Prophets say, 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name 'Immanuel' which is being interpreted 'God with us.' What does that mean, if not that God has come in the flesh? While the apostolic tradition teaches in the words of blessed Peter, 'For as much then as Christ suffered for us in the flesh' and in what Paul writes, 'Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.'"
Now why do I bring this to your attention? First of all, if you read Athanasius' letter, he argues solely from the Scriptures as the rule of faith against the Arians. He argues that this is what defines what Christians are to believe. In fact, if you listened to the passages that he cited, for example, Titus 2:13, a passage that I have often cited in dealing with modern Arians and there are many of them out there today--Jehovah's Witnesses, The Way International, individuals who deny the deity of Christ--Titus 2:13 is one of the passages that I have frequently used as well. He uses those same Scriptures and he defines the apostolic tradition by the words of Scripture. Apostolic tradition, in this letter from Athanasius, refers to the Scriptures and that may explain why this same writer, Athanasius, said, for example, "The holy and inspired Scriptures are sufficient of themselves for the preaching of the truth." And he also said, "These canonical books are the fountain of salvation so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in them. In these alone the school of piety preaches the Gospel. Let no man add or take away from them."
When the early Church Father, Basil, was attacked by his opponents regarding his beliefs about the Godhead, he replied much like Athanasius. When his opponents talked about the customs they had he responded, "If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them." Listen closely. "Therefore, let God-inspired Scripture decide between us and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the Word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth."
Now we have come here this evening to discuss sola Scriptura. Well, what does that mean? Well, first, I'd like to start with the negatives, what it doesn't mean, because I've discovered there's a lot of confusion about what it does mean. Let me tell you some of the things it doesn't mean. First of all, it is not a claim that the Bible contains all knowledge. It is not a claim that the Bible contains all knowledge. The Bible is not exhaustive in every detail. In John 21:25 we read that if everything that Jesus said or did had been recorded that the world itself would not be large enough to contain the books that would be written, but it does not have to be exhaustive, either, to be the rule of faith for the Church. We don't need to know the color of Matthew's eyes. We don't need to know the menu of each of the apostolic meals of the Lord Jesus by the Sea of Galilee to have a sufficient rule of faith for the Church. Curiosity that goes beyond what God has revealed is not godly.
Secondly, it is not a denial of the Church's authority to teach. I Timothy 3:15 describes the church as the pillar and foundation of the truth. And what is the truth? The truth, of course, is Jesus Christ. And how do we know Jesus Christ? We know Jesus Christ from his Word. The Church teaches truth and calls men to believe in the truth, calls men to believe in Jesus Christ. But the Church does not add revelation or rule over the Scriptures. The Church, being the Bride of Christ, listens to the Word of Christ, which is found in the God-breathed Scriptures.
Thirdly, it is not a denial that God's Word was, at one time, spoken. Apostolic teaching was authoritative in and of itself, yet the Apostles proved their message from Scripture. You'll note, for example, Paul's example, in Acts 17:2 or Apollos in Acts 18:28 demonstrating the consistency that existed between the message that they preached and the Old Testament Scriptures. And remember, also, that John commended those in Ephesus in Revelation 2:2 for testing those who claimed to be Apostles, and how would they have done that, if not by the Scriptures?
And finally, number four, it is not a denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding and enlightening the Church. It is in no way a denial that the Holy Spirit is absolutely, positively necessary for anyone to have a full understanding of the Scriptures because they need to be spiritually discerned.
What then, is Sola Scriptura?
Well, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura simply states that the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the regula fide, the rule of faith, for the Church. All that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture and in no other source. That which is not found in Scripture is not binding upon the Christian conscience. To be more specific, I provide the following definition. The Bible claims to be the sole and sufficient rule of faith for the Christian Church. The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement. Their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation. Their authority is not dependent upon man, church or council. The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting and self-authenticating. The Christian Church looks to the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith and the Church is always subject to the Word and is constantly reformed thereby.
Now I want you to recognize that I am emphasizing that the doctrine of sola Scriptura is based upon the inspiration of Scripture. Now that term, inspiration, that you will find, for example, in II Timothy 3:16, is really not the best way of rendering the term. The Greek term, theopneustos, is best rendered as "God-breathed." And in fact, in the New International Version, that is how it is rendered. In II Timothy 3:16 we read that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction, for training in righteousness, in order that the man of God might be complete, fully equipped for every good work." We learn from this that Scripture's authority is God's authority. You don't have Scriptural authority over here then God's authority over here. You don't have different authorities in the Church. The authority of the Church is one: God's authority. And when God speaks in Scripture that carries His authority.
Notice, for example, from the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 22 when he is talking with the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, he says, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures, nor the power of God, for in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as the angels in Heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead have you not read what God spoke to you, saying 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.'" Please notice that from the Lord Jesus' perspective that which was found in Scripture was God speaking and he held those men responsible for what God had said to them, even though what was spoken had been written a thousand years earlier. Scripture is God speaking to man. It is theopneustos. God-breathed.
Note as well Peter's words in II Peter 1:20-21, "Knowing this first of all that no Scriptural prophecy ever came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For no prophecy ever was born by the will of man. Rather, while being carried along by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God." That is why the Scriptures can function as a rule of faith for the Church, because they are God-breathed. What God says is the final authority for the Church. ...
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Why I Left The Roman Catholic Church - by Benny Diaz - Vintage
11/14/2012 - Rich Pierce(Part I)
In October of 1981, while visiting a friend in the hospital, I was confronted with the question, “Are you a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ according to the Word at God?” I was also asked, “Would you like to invite the Lord Jesus in your heart to save you and to give you eternal life?” Well, these phrases were foreign to my vocabulary. You see, my friend happened to be a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I wasn’t.
In his hospital room he shared with me from the Bible how God in us Supreme love and grace, provided a way for me to have all my sins forgiven and washed away. He shared with me how God sent us only-begotten Son to die for me. It was amazingly revealed to me that Jesus Christ died once and for all on the cross at Calvary for the sins of all that would believe and call upon his name. Tears filled my eyes when I began to realize how Jesus carried the cross, shed His blood on that cross, was ridiculed, spat on and beaten for ME! It was shown to me from God’s glorious Word how Jesus then died, was buried and how He arose in glory to be my Savior! He is now my only way to God and my only Mediator.
Yes, I needed salvation and I came to realize then, and every day since then, that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ alone. No other can fill His place nor can He again be put to death for He died once and for all on that cross at Calvary almost 2000 years ago! On that day I prayed and received Christ Jesus and believed in His Lordship! And do you know what? He saved me because He promised to in His Word, the Bible!
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with my leaving the Roman Catholic Church. Everything! I was a Roman Catholic for 23 years prior to my conversion. As a Catholic I believed many things which were necessary in order to be a “good” Catholic. I came to realize at the time of my conversion and the months following that most of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church stand contrary to the Bible. I realize this may sound shocking to some but I believe if anyone is willing to take God's Word in one hand, the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in the other, one will come to the same conclusion. With this conclusion one is left with the decision of following the teachings of Rome or the teachings of God’ s Holy Word, the Bible. I would like to, lovingly and Biblically, share with you these differences. I prayerfully hope God might use this information to edify and help you. ...
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A Biblical Basis for the "Immaculate Conception"? - Vintage
11/13/2012 - James WhiteA Review and Rebuttal of Patrick Madrid's Article "Ark of the New Covenant" in "This Rock" magazine, December 1991.
Catholic Answers has some interesting ways of grabbing your attention. By placing the beginning paragraph or two of the lead article of their monthly magazine, This Rock, on the very cover of the work, they draw your attention into reading the rest of the article. True to form, the December, 1991 edition sported Pat Madrid's article, "Ark of the New Covenant" with the interesting lead in, "His face stiffened, and his eyes narrowed to slits. Until now the Calvary Chapel pastor had been calm as he `shared the gospel' with me, but when I mentioned my belief in Mary's Immaculate Conception, his attitude changed." Using a "real-life" backdrop for the presentation of some particular topic is another fine writing tool used by the folks at Catholic Answers. As you continue to read about this encounter, you discover that our author, Pat Madrid, is going to provide Biblical support for his belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. He writes of his encounter with the Protestant pastor,
After we'd examined the biblical evidence for the doctrine, the anti-Marianism he'd shown became muted, but it was clear that, at least emotionally if not biblically, Mary was a stumbling block for him. Like most Christians (Catholic and Protestant) the minister was unaware of the biblical support for the Church's teaching on the Immaculate Conception. But sometimes even knowledge of these passages isn't enough. Many former Evangelicals who have converted to the Catholic Church relate how hard it was for them to put aside prejudices and embrace Marian doctrines even after they'd thoroughly satisfied themselves through prayer and Scripture study that such teachings were indeed biblical.
Such words indicated to me that I was going to have the opportunity of seeing solid, Biblical argumentation for the concept of the Immaculate Conception in what followed. Unfortunately, what was presented as "biblical evidence" turned out to be much less than convincing.
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Mark Shea Defends Mariolatry Regardless of the Facts
11/05/2012 - James Swan
Posted by Mark Shea on Friday, Nov 2, 2012 5:18 PM (EST):
Luther, by the way, believed in the Immaculate Conception.
"It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin" - Martin Luther's Sermon "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527.
"She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. - Martin Luther's Little Prayer Book, 1522.
Instead of ignorantly and reflexively regurgitating whatever an American Evangelical might say after 20 minutes of glancing at the New Testament, consider the possibility that the Church doesn't just make stuff up and actually has real grounds for considering this to be apostolic teaching.
Sorry Mark, the first quote has been debunked for quite a few years now. I originally took this bit of Luther propaganda apart in 2003. You can read a detailed explanation here. You can read about the second quote here.
And while we're on the topic of Luther's Mariology, back in 2007 you put out this blunder about Luther's tomb supporting Luther's belief in Mary's assumption. I suggest sticking to defending your Romanism rather than exegeting Luther. That is, "instead of ignorantly and reflexively regurgitating" pop-apologetic Romanist propaganda about Luther posted on the Internet, why not do a little homework first?