Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Crimson Catholic on Soteriological and Trinitarian Issues II of II
07/03/2005 - James WhiteI had written:
And I cannot help but contrast such a statement with Jesus' own words, which again so strongly illustrate the contrast between the anthropocentric mind-set of Roman Catholicism (God wants to save, tries to save, but fails to save so often because He is dependent upon the cooperation of man's will--and yes, I know, that's Arminianism as well) and the theocentric mindset of inspired Scripture taken as a whole.Prejean replies:
I can't believe that you haven't managed to grasp the distinction between Arminians and Catholics in fifteen years of debating.And I can't believe someone can think that the identification of a parallel regarding the views of Arminians and Roman Catholics on the nature of grace and the will of man means I conflate the two views or do not recognize their differences. This kind of rhetoric works great on the Envoy boards where no meaningful interaction can ever take place, but in a debate, that kind of statement would collapse in the blink of an eye. No one who seriously reads my works on either subject would ever, ever even suggest that I say the two are identical or that I do not recognize the differences between them. But at the same time, on the key issues of the grace of God and the will of man, Rome and modern Arminians do, in fact, share wide swaths of agreement in direct and shared opposition to Reformed theology. This is not even a debatable proposition, which is why Prejean has to create a straw man before knocking it down, another tactic designed only to impress the home court audience, but one that would evaporate in real debate.
God is not dependent on the cooperation of man's will in Catholic soteriology; we believe in election and predestination, unlike Arminians, who believe that God responds to foreseen actions. The entire discrepancy between Calvinists and Catholics is over the philosophical problem of how to reconcile God's providence with free will, and Calvinism is simply a singularly poor attempt to do so based on a fatalistic Greek notion of cause and effect that isn't even logically necessary. You're the one saying that God is so feeble that he can't ordain the outcome of systems with voluntary causes, not us.
I will respond to the exceptionally poor argumentation at the end of the statement in a moment. I am struck by Prejean's willingness to present himself as a Magisterium of one here. I stood in the Catholic Answers offices in 1991 listening to Patrick Madrid and Gerry Matatics debate this very issue, taking two completely different sides! To presume he somehow has the "final word" on this issue is to ignore the vast array of differing views that exist within the writings of Roman Catholic theologians. Of course God is "dependent" upon the cooperation of man's will in the vast majority of Roman Catholic theology. The entire sacramental system, the concept of penance, all flowed from a viewpoint that is surely anything but Reformed in its view of both grace and the nature of the will of man in sin. But beyond that, the "new" views of Rome enshrined in 841 and 1260 raise all sorts of other issues that once again muddy the waters. So I truly do not know who Mr. Prejean is in thinking his own particular view defines the issues, but that is a common problem when dialoguing with Roman Catholics who assure you that you have misrepresented Rome because you did not view things the way they personally do.
The false accusation of simple "Greek fatalism" exposes either a grossly flawed level of study on Prejean's part, or an Envoy-like disdain for accuracy or truthfulness. The same is true regarding the "God is so feeble" accusation. It is very easy to say Rome has in some fashion affirmed providence on the one hand with some form of libertarianism on the other, but that really answers nothing and accomplishes nothing. Can the theory pass the test of Scripture and can it answer simple questions, or does it simply leave everything in the realm of "mystery"? Prejean's argument here is particularly weak and aimed only at his base, not at providing anything compelling for those who are not on his side already.
I had written:
Simple question: can Jesus do the will of the Father? Can He save perfectly those entrusted to Him?
Since we believe in predestination and election, of course we think that He can. We don't doubt Jesus's power.Once again, Prejean speaks with magisterial authority. Is Prejean seriously suggesting that we are using "predestination and election" in the same way, or is he equivocating? It is not logically possible for a person to believe what I believe about predestination and election and believe what sections 841 and 1260 say, nor to believe that the Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice, nor to believe in what is said by Indulgentiarum Doctrina. You simply cannot hold these things together in a coherent whole without subordinating or redefining the original meaning of one or more of these concepts. And if he doesn't doubt Jesus' power, then why is he writing in defense of an entire post written to support the proposition that eternal security is the most dangerous false doctrine being taught today? No matter what he does, he is going to have to adopt one of the many redefinitions available to him to make room for his contradictory "authoritative sources." Either he will have to adopt the "yes, the elect will persevere, but you can be a Christian without being elect" concept of Augustine (and then we could take that to Scripture to test it), or some other form, but by simply ignoring the task he faces Prejean truly denigrates any meaningful weight his retort might have carried--at least with those outside his circle.
I had written:
What a tremendous promise to the one who takes all of Scripture, not just parts, into account.
What tremendous hubris to take a declaration of God's power as a promise to oneself! There's a rather large difference between determining whether God is capable of saving the predestined (He is, no doubt) and whether you personally are entitled to think that you are one of them. And you think this bears no relationship to the antinomianism of certain Protestant sects? Please.On what logical basis could the promise to Christ's sheep of His power to save not be a great source of comfort to the sheep? Here we see the ugly side of Rome's theology, and I'm glad Prejean made it clear: you can never know Christ is your Shepherd, you can never have any meaningful confidence in this life that you are His sheep. Indeed, to speak as Paul spoke in joining himself with the people of God in Romans 8:31ff is identified as "tremendous hubris" by Mr. Prejean. This moves predestination and election into the theoretical and unknowable, and shows us just how different are our beliefs and their application in time and to life itself. For Prejean, predestination is a theoretical subject of speculation, not something that impacts daily life. For me, predestination and election are so woven into the fabric of the apostolic message that to remove them is to destroy the entirety of it. Even when Paul is speaking of his hardships in life he cannot help but view things in light of this divine truth, for he says, "For this reason I endure all things for the elect's sake that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 2:10). Paul surely did not have the hesitation Prejean has in speaking of the subject, and that is because, of course, Paul did not have the baggage of all of the false teachings of the Roman magisterium to contend with. And likewise, when the child of God today refuses to listen to all of the hirelings that surround us, but listens carefully, and only, to the voice of the Shepherd in His Word, he or she will be able to speak in harmony with the apostolic message.