Debating with a Calvinist: Tradition


Quite a job, debating with a Calvinist. It just so happens that an excellent apologist of the Catholic Faith is a former Calvinist—Scott Hahn. He has a presentation on Purgatory and one on Mary that both address this question. I’d suggest looking at some of his writings. And you might want to read "Rome Sweet Home’ by Scott and his wife Kimberly. Scott was a Presbyterian minister when he converted and answers a lot of Calvinist objections in that book. You might also appreciate the CD or DVD about his conversion.


Good discussion…I’m learning a lot. You might inquire as to why, he as a Calvinist, who believes in “sola fide”, could ignore James, chapter 2.

Faith and Works.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day,
16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?
17 So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
19 You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.
20 Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.
23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.”
24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
25 And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route?
26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

I’ve seen a clip from Tim Staples about this, but for some reason I can’t find it now on However, I did find a clip on youtube entitled “Tim Staples, Sydney, 2009”, where he covers a bit of this at the end of the video. Not sure I can post the link here, but you could google it or search for it on youtube.


The bigger issue with Calvinists isn’t Sola Fide, Faith alone. That’s more a discussion for Lutherans. Calvinists, when you get right down to it believe in double predestination; That men are destined for Heaven or Hell since time began and nothing they do can change that. Those destined for Heaven will believe AND do good works. Those destined for Hell will not. Its a complete disavowal of Man’s free will in favor of God’s sovereignty. While they think this is the proper view of an almighty God, it actually undersells both God and Man. Man, because he becomes no more than a robot or a puppet. and God because they don’t recognize that God is so great that he can leave man with free will and still accomplish his plans perfectly…

Hi, Pheonix,

Hold on a minute - the Church is a body of believers… and not a brick or wooden structure.

814 From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God’s gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church’s members, there are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. "Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions."263 The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church’s unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity. And so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."264

Now, in reality, Calvin’s ‘credibility’ as always been somewhat questionable and this is brought out in his view of predestination. He appears to be the only one that he knows of who was predestined for heaven… everyone else is standing of sand! He is the only one in his own mind that has OSAS down to an art-form and that those who abandon Calvin’s way were never really saved at all. Truly a depressing individual with a depressing view of God Who is Love.

God bless

Re the Calvinist denial of the value of tradition. Well, consider this. Before there was a New Testement, Christian teachings were passed along by oral tradition. This turns the Calvinist argument on its head since in fact New Testement documents arose out of a living tradition before a New Testement biblical basis even existed. This living transmission is what keeps our church vital worldwide into the 21st century. How vital and growing are today’s Calvinist based churches?

Hi, Danize,

What is interesting is that the Calvinist have their OWN traditions… but, just do not call them that. Geneva is a famous city for those who want to walk in the step of Calvin … here is a link: Visiting this would be like a tradition similar to that of going to Jerusalem or Lourdes or Fatima. Honoring Callvin’s writings and sermons is another example of THEIR traditions. Here is a link:

Unlike the Sacred Traditions of the Catholic Church which pre-date the Bible and enabled the young Catholic Church to grow during the murderous perssecution, events around Calvin’s life are more like the traditions of a celebrity (where they were born, grew up, went to school, etc.)

God bless

Thank you everyone for all the wonderful information given thus far. :smiley:

I’m still waiting for a reply from him. Either he can’t answer my objections, or he’s taking his time to reply. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying it’s the latter; my reply was rather long, after all.

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