Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tending to Truth

I hope my readers will visit Brooke's blog, "Tending to Truth" and find out why this former Presbyterian converted to the Catholic Church. Welcome home Brooke.


21 comments:

Faithful Witness said...

Why would anyone in their right mind forsake the gospel of grace for a works-righteousness replacement? Eph 2:8-9, 1John 2:19

Tim A. Troutman said...

Faithful,

I can understand that you think that Rome teaches a works-righteousness gospel (I used to think the same thing myself) but the fact is that you've been misinformed. You are right, no one in their right mind should do such a thing.

I encourage you to read for yourself what the Catholic Church says about her own doctrine rather than accepting what you've heard. You'll discover that the Catholic Church condemned the idea that man can earn his salvation long before the Reformation was ever an idea.

If you're willing to learn, I'm willing to show you where the Catholic Church condemns it.

Faithful Witness said...

I am well educated in the doctrines of Rome. You might be inclined to learn more about the reformed faith. My tradition is essentially identical to that of the radical reformers, and I have had to labor long and hard to understand where we parallel and where we do not. Your assumptions aside, the Roman church does indeed teach a works-righteousness gospel. Most grieviously the vatican has denied the gospel of faith alone/grace alone/ by Christ alone/ to the glory of God alone. In addition the classic doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is considered an illegal transaction by the Roman church, via the 1st counsel of Trent. Infusion and imputation are two radically different things.

Works-righteousness does not mean that it is or is not without some element of grace. The title simply identifies the abberation from the free grace and righteousness offered in scripture, as per the reformed doctrine of Justification. The difference being, hmm, about infinity. . .

Tim A. Troutman said...

Faithful - I am former Reformed myself and I know the doctrines well. You might be interested in our site: www.calledtocommunion.com (All of us are formerly Reformed and now Catholic).

As for your claims - you're simply repeating them. If you have a quote from an official Catholic source that says we earn our salvation then produce it please. Otherwise, you should retract your position.

Faithful Witness said...

As I mentioned;

1st Catholic Ecumenical Council at Trent (session #6)

CANON IV. If any one shall affirm, that man’s freewill, moved and excited by God, does not, by consenting, cooperate with God, the mover and exciter, so as to prepare and dispose itself for the attainment of justification; if moreover, anyone shall say, that the human will cannot refuse complying, if it pleases, but that it is inactive, and merely passive; let such an one be accursed"!

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

The proof is in the heretical pudding.

Faithful Witness said...

By the way, try and reconcile this with the true scriptures (the 66 books):


CANON XXX.-If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Faithful,

If you're interested in real dialogue on the subject, I would again suggest www.calledtocommunion.com You and I can't have a meaningful conversation on imputation because you likely believe in Monergism and I don't. We have to start at the basics - that's what we're doing at CTC.

And I'd also ask you to use more irenic language.

I won't address the second issue you brought up because we haven't settled the first. It is quite easy to reconcile even with the Protestant canon.

Now again, I asked you to show where the Catholic Church said we earned our faith and you pointed to a condemnation of imputation. These are two different things.

Earlier, you said that there the Catholic Church rejected the classic view of imputation. It may be called "classic" in the sense of a classic Reformed view, but it is not a classic Christian doctrine.

If you disagree, you can demonstrate the view of imputation through any of the fathers or even through the middle ages or even anyone before the Reformation. If it is, in fact, a classic Christian doctrine, then you will easily be able to demonstrate it. If you cannot demonstrate it, then you should retract the claim that it is "classic".

At that point we will need to evaluate - whether or not the Catholic Church had the right and duty to make such a decision on the recent issue of "imputation" (recent to the Reformation I mean).
But before moving forward, we need to come to an agreement that it either A) it is not a classic doctrine or B) it is a classic doctrine (which will be very easy for you to demonstrate if you are correct).

Tim A. Troutman said...

Sorry- "earned our faith" should have been "earned our salvation".

Faithful Witness said...

"Now again, I asked you to show where the Catholic Church said we earned our (salvation) faith and you pointed to a condemnation of imputation. These are two different things."

Lets clear this up. I never said that the Roman church believes in earned salvation. No, I said works-righteousness. You inserted the idea of earned salvation. Your denile of monergistic salvation is by definition works-righteousness via a man's decision. Simply examine the notion of apostasy in light of logic: If there is something you can do to loose your salvation, then there must have been something you did to get it and keep it. Salvation in your tradition is currently predicated on a personal decision motivated by an esoteric experience. I find it humorous that the Vatican has been marketing this "welcome home" concept. Truth is, those who walk away into the Roman church never left; they were always under the law.

But that aside, the excerpts I provided touch directly on the topic of justification. Imputation certainly is addressed as well, but Ca. IV. carries with it the tell tale: " so as to prepare and dispose itself for the attainment of justification"

Justification is a singular act that occurs at the moment of salvation. This aside from baptism which has no salvithic power. One need not ascent to justification as the work has been done (Rom 5:1).

To make things go from bad to worse examine this in detail:

Ca. XI "to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost,"

What is your interpretation of this text?

The current Roman Catholic stand is that through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, those who have been infused must display works of charity and love (see the popes latest sermonette on justification) to achieve justification.

Ultimatley, it is a convulution of the process of sanctification and the event of justification.

Faithful Witness said...

And by the way, if you are suggesting that you can appeal to the patristics to defend your doctrine, you might want to think again. Examine the shorter (that is the true) retentions of the fathers and you will be quick to recognize that they abide by the witness of scripture which intimatley coincides with the gospel of grace alone.

Sometimes it is difficult to apprehend one's attitude in this type of format. If my comments were anything less than cordial I apologize. However, given the stakes, I tend to take things rather seriously. From this brief exchange, I can see that you love the Triune God, and I dare not purposefully offend.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Faithful-

I never said that the Roman church believes in earned salvation. No, I said works-righteousness. You inserted the idea of earned salvation.

You're right - I misunderstood what you meant by works-righteousness. So at least you agree that the Catholic Church doesn't teach that we earn our salvation. We're on the same page here now.

Simply examine the notion of apostasy in light of logic: If there is something you can do to loose your salvation, then there must have been something you did to get it and keep it.

This is not logical. It does not follow that if you can lose something that you earned it. I may give a homeless man a dollar out of charity. It does not follow that he cannot subsequently lose it. Likewise, it does not follow that since a man can lose a dollar, that he must have earned it.

As for the rest of your reply, you need to back up your claim that imputation is a classic Christian doctrine or retract it before we can continue. I can't spend time refuting everything you write when you won't take time to admit where you're wrong or back up where you still think you're right.

I'm very willing to dialogue, but it has to be genuine, truth seeking, and done in humility. We can toss out attacks on each others' faith for a long time but we won't get anywhere. Let's stick with the issue at hand.

Is imputation a classic doctrine or isn't it?

Tim A. Troutman said...

Faithful - I understand and I don't doubt your sincerity in the least. But please understand that when you call my faith heretical, it is not conducive to a cordial discussion.

I don't ask you to condone what you believe to be in error. You should be defending what you believe is the truth of Christ's gospel. Anything less would be a sin - I'm sure you would agree.

Faithful Witness said...

"It does not follow that he cannot subsequently lose it. "

Apples and oranges. We are talking about eternal life here. It is the business of God to forgive sin and give life, and it is also the business of God to preserve His elect. Jesus said, "you must be born again," not "you must be born again and again and again." In addition, the whole meaning of the phrase eternal life indicates an infinite possession of life, from the moment of regeneration forward.


Reformed people are people of the book, and therefore I will provide you with the foundation on which all true doctrine resides. Unless you disagree with entering a scriptural debate because of the Roman churches denial of Sola Scriptura. I don't think an argument can be made against the clear teaching of scripture as being classic.

To begin with:

Romans 5:19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

Philippians 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Philippians 1:11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God

Romans 5:21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness

This righteousness is nowhere predicated on any kind of work, empowered by the Spirit or otherwise. The burden of proof is now on you. Do you deny imputed sin? Augustine didn't (check out the Palagian heresy and the beginnings of East. Ortho schism).

I commend to you this:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/BySeries/2/1095_Faith_and_the_Imputation_of_Righteousness/

Tim A. Troutman said...

Apples and oranges.

You gave an argument which I demonstrated does not logically hold water by showing an example where it clearly is false. So you'll need to add something to your argument in order to make it work.

It is the business of God to forgive sin and give life, and it is also the business of God to preserve His elect.

I don't deny this with a probable asterisk on the term elect. No need to get into that now. But this is unrelated to your argument and doesn't prove it or even help it. So we're still left with the original argument not following. We have no reason to believe that in order to be a gift, salvation must be "once saved always saved".

I don't mind discussing the Scriptures even though I certainly deny sola scriptura. But we won't get very far because I deny that the individual can read Scripture apart from the Tradition that we received from the Apostles.

But all the Scriptures you gave affirm salvation de fide.. the Catholic Church also affirms this. None of this proves imputation.

They also affirm that we receive righteousness i.e. are made righteous not that we remain dung hills and God ignores our sin. We believe that righteousness is infused in the believer by God's grace. I.e. that we are truly made righteous through faith in Christ by grace not that we remain in sin and still get to Heaven because God ignores it.

I certainly do deny imputed righteousness and you've given me no reason to think otherwise.

St. Augustine didn't deny imputed righteousness because it hadn't been invented yet. Augustine does not agree with the Reformed position here. Here's a quote from an article I wrote:

And so it does no good to quote the Catholic Catechism saying, “Our justification comes from the grace of God,”5 or “Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us,”6 if Christians in the Reformed tradition object on the ground that the Catholic Catechism also says, “Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us.” But this is not a quotation from the council of Trent or Vatican I or even Aquinas; this is St. Augustine! At this fateful point where Reformed theology and Catholic doctrine collide with uncompromising force, the Catholic Church unambiguously preserves the ancient and precisely Augustinian doctrine, and this should not be lightly dismissed by anyone who claims that the Bishop of Hippo was a forebearer of Reformed soteriology.7

So you see here that Augustine rejects any idea of Monergism and affirms our real cooperation in salvation. This would of course, be a rejection of imputation as well.

I'll be upfront with you that I won't have time to read that article.

Faithful Witness said...

You completely usurped the substance of what I stated regarding the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.

If the scriptures didn't teach imputation, they might have read something like this:

Abraham's belief was credited to him as the ability to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do works of charity and love that are pleasing to God in order to earn righteousness.


So far as apostasy...

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ

John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

Do you think that He included the sheep themselves in the above text?

"I certainly do deny imputed righteousness and you've given me no reason to think otherwise."

My response:

Romans 4:22-25 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Where are your works?

Tim A. Troutman said...

Faithful, I said, "You gave an argument which I demonstrated does not logically hold water by showing an example where it clearly is false."

You need to respond to my argument or admit that yours was false before we can continue this conversation.

Faithful Witness said...

"You gave an argument which I demonstrated does not logically hold water by showing an example where it clearly is false"

Ok, lets allow logic to run it's course. Your church predicates salvation on a personal decision. This actually is not unlike the reformed position. The actual question is; is the acceptence of such a gift based on a person's decision alone (a la semi-palagianism) or is it based on the work of a completely sovereign God. I contend that it is based on the latter. Therefore, the definition of "gift" that is described in the scripture describes a gift unlike what you are suggesting. This gift is given irrespective of anything other than the arbitrary decision of God (Rom 9:18).

Should I give a man something, and he decided to keep it out of his own volition, it would be his to maintain or to release.

This is your position; agreed?

This is my position, to which I have ample scriptural backing.

If a child is born, he cannot choose to be unborn. He cannot decide to go back from where he came, there is no previous destination. He cannot undue his birth, no matter what he does; the event is fixed in time. He could no more loose this birth than a he could create a square circle.

Therefore logic states, that if a man can do something (decide purley out of his own volition) to accept salvation, then he very well may loose it. Likewise if a man may loose his salvation, there must have been something he did to obtain and keep it; ie, a self made decision.

What keeps a man who believes such a thing from boasting? He decided freely, and therefore he may be entitled to the very thing God deserves.

Do you think that Augustine denied imputed sin? Do you believe in the doctrine of Original Sin?

I would hope that you realize that your answer to the above question will either uphold the reformed position or it will deny the clear teaching of scripture.

By the way, I appreciate this dialogue. How do you feel about Trinitarian apologetics? Have you written anything on the topic?

Tim A. Troutman said...

"position. The actual question is; is the acceptence of such a gift based on a person's decision alone (a la semi-palagianism) or is it based on the work of a completely sovereign God. "

This dichotomy assumes monergism or maybe worse - assumes occasionalism. The dichotomy is false because it states if man truly does something (accept a gift in this example) then God does not and vice versa. I deny this. I wrote a piece on Soli Deo Gloria on CTC which touches on this issue more though not fully. You may be interested in it if you have time (its a few pages long):

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/?p=463

"This gift is given irrespective of anything other than the arbitrary decision of God (Rom 9:18)."

It is not my position that the gift is predicated on anything in the individual.

"Should I give a man something, and he decided to keep it out of his own volition, it would be his to maintain or to release.

This is your position; agreed? "

I was just using this example to refute the idea that a thing must be non-losable in order to be a gift.

My position is that man has free will by nature and since grace does not destroy nature - it does not destroy free will. Therefore even after receiving God's grace - we retain free will and hence the ability to turn away from God.

"If a child is born, he cannot choose to be unborn."

Yes this is true, but this is now a different argument than your previous one. There might be something special about the gift of salvation to make it completely un-losable but it cannot be so by mere virtue of it being a gift. That does not follow logically as I proved earlier.

So what you are now saying is that it's not necessarily the gift part of salvation that makes it un-losable (I'm assuming you're conceding that point) but it's something intrinsic to the nature of the gift which makes it unlosable. This is fair and it might be true. I believe that of some things. You mentioned birth - I agree that you can't be "unborn" but you can die. You can even kill yourself. So to be unborn means to undue a thing that literally happened in the past which is impossible.

But there's nothing so unique about birth here. Lets take the gift example again - if I give a man a dollar - he cannot be ungiven that dollar. The fact that I gave him that is now an eternal truth; it really happened. It can never be undone. So I say this to show that nothing can be undone in that sense. I brushed my teeth this morning; they cannot be unbrushed etc... But the man may still reject my dollar - he may throw it away. I can still eat candy or something that will make my teeth dirty and never brush again. And though a man can't be unborn - he can reject his gift of life and commit suicide. That is what we would say happens when a man turns from God. He rejects the gift of God's grace and turns to sin instead.

So we've seen that just because a thing is a gift does not mean that it is not losable. We've now seen that because an event in time is not reversible it does not follow that its effects are permanent.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Part 2:

"Therefore logic states, that if a man can do something (decide purley out of his own volition) to accept salvation, then he very well may loose it. Likewise if a man may loose his salvation, there must have been something he did to obtain and keep it; ie, a self made decision."

This does not follow at all from what you said earlier.

And the way you keep stating the issue it sounds like you believe the contrary of what I do; i.e. that man has no part in salvation.

So is it your position that God arbitrarily chooses some men to save and then forces them like puppets into salvation?

"What keeps a man who believes such a thing from boasting? He decided freely, and therefore he may be entitled to the very thing God deserves."

That we truly cooperate with God's grace does not earn our salvation or entitle us to anything - just as a child doing his chores does not earn his keep.

"Do you think that Augustine denied imputed sin? "

I've already said that Augustine did not deny the doctrine because it did not exist during his time. I've also shown Augustine to agree with the Catholic doctrine of cooperation with God's grace but I haven't seen you retract your idea that Augustine taught something similar to the Reformed idea of salvation here.

Luther plainly admitted that his doctrine of soteriology was a departure from the early fathers and Augustine. Luther believed they got Paul wrong. I commend Luther for his honesty. Calvin wasn't quite as honest and he has lured a number of Reformed thinkers into the false idea that they are in continuity with the early Christians.

"Do you believe in the doctrine of Original Sin? "

Absolutely. This has been a Catholic dogma for some time now.

" How do you feel about Trinitarian apologetics?"

I haven't written anything specifically on the Trinity. Its a difficult subject!

Faithful Witness said...

Sorry, I have been away from home for the last few days.

The point is this; the nature of the gift of salvation as written in scripture is different than that of the teachings of the Roman church. Because it is a gift from God, and because an act of God is needed to actually apply this gift to a sinful heart it is by nature irrevocable. Because salvation is of the Lord from first to last, it cannot be shunned or lost unless the Lord wills it. But He has made it absolutley clear that this will never come to pass.

"So is it your position that God arbitrarily chooses some men to save and then forces them like puppets into salvation?"

This is classic. Your kidding right? You said you were reformed, and then you come up with this? Perhaps it would be of some benefit to you to research what exactly the doctrines of grace are; with a focus on irresistable grace. T-U-L-I-P

"I've already said that Augustine did not deny the doctrine because it did not exist during his time. "

Are you familiar with the Palagian heresy? If you are, what do you think Augustine was fighting for? The basis of Original sin is imputed sin. In Adam we, in him, sinned. His sin has created in us a nature that is fallen (Rom 5:12). This sinful nature is credited to the account of all men. This is by definition imputed sin, and you can bet the farm that Augustine knew this and fought long and hard to preserve this doctrine. Read about the heresy.

If your own doctrine of Original Sin states that all men have sinned by nature and by choice because of one man's sin (adam), then why do you reject that through one man (the Lord Jesus) many may be made righteous?

Your idea of free-will has a serious flaw. It is completely absent of biblical backing. Tell me, how free is your will? Free enough to live sinlessly?

Tim A. Troutman said...

Faithful, this conversation seems to be going in circles.

I've made a number of challenges that you've not answered and I guess you don't intend to.

If you're interested in continuing, you need to demonstrate that you're seriously seeking truth and not just trying to bash the Catholic position. So you'll notice above that I demonstrated that Augustine disagrees with you (i.e. that he believes we DO cooperate with grace).

So you should admit that he's not on your side.

Also, you should back up your claim that imputation is a classic doctrine or drop it. You haven't done so yet.

So you've said you don't believe God forces us into salvation? Then it follows that we have the choice to reject it. Which is all the Catholic Church says of initial grace. So you must agree with her there. If not, which is it?

So please make sure your response includes:

1. An admittance that Augustine does not agree with you (or proof that the quote I provided is mistranslated or spurious)

2. Evidence that Imputation is classic in any meaningful sense (this means evidence that any substantial number of people affirmed it before the Reformation)

3. An answer to my last question. Since you don't believe that God's grace overrides man's free will and forces him into heaven, then you must agree that man may reject God's grace. If we are not forced, then we may reject. Do you agree with the Church here or do you disagree?

BTW, you might have noticed my latest post , Fr. Jeffrey Steel a former PCA Pastor and later Anglican priest just announced his conversion to the Catholic Church.