How do Catholics respond to the charge of semi-Pelagianism?


#1

I know, I know, likely a topic that’s been covered many times before. But my interest is sparked by the discussion of a few other threads (51% Protestant) and the blog found on reclaiming the mind (quite a charitable essay by an evangelical FWIW). Anyways, one of the bloggers on that site wrote the following regarding what he/she perceives to be the Catholic soteriological position:
“Traditional (Tridentine) Roman Catholic theology affirms that salvation is by grace alone, but it is clearly a semi-pelagian/cooperationist system and, therefore, not really an affirmation of grace alone. Also, Roman Catholicism affirms that salvation is by faith, but it denies that justification is by faith alone. Is the gospel still the gospel if justification is by grace plus anything I do?”

So, how would you respond?
Cheers


#2

Catholics are not semi-pelagian because we believe that even our good works are a gift of God’s grace. The Eastern Orthodox, on the other hand, truely are semi-pelagain because they believe that they can take the first steps towards salvation, un-aided by grace.


#3

I would agree. And I think the quote illustrates a distortion in the understanding of the Catholic position - namely, that he/she makes the false assumption that the cooperation is prompted by the individual and not the grace originating in God as imparted to the individual.


#4

"Traditional (Tridentine) Roman Catholic theology affirms that salvation is by grace alone, but it is clearly a semi-pelagian/cooperationist system and, therefore, not really an affirmation of grace alone.

It is by grace alone in the sense that no human effort unaided by the Grace of God can achieve salvation. However, the grace of God does require a response. We are created free and that grace is a gift that can be accepted or rejected.

Also, Roman Catholicism affirms that salvation is by faith, but it denies that justification is by faith alone. Is the gospel still the gospel if justification is by grace plus anything I do?"

Nowhere in the Bible does it state that justification is by faith alone. The author of the Blog is simply incerting their own theological views into the Bible.

Ut


#5

good pick-up on the faith alone statement. :thumbsup:

Also,their other statement/question “Is the gospel still the gospel if justification is by grace plus anything I do?” reveals that their understanding misses the mark - “plus anything I do?”

Not I, but God working in and through me.


#6

I think that most Protestants would actually not take a complete faith “alone” or grace “alone” position. Everyone thinks that something must be added to grace–at the very least, an act of the human will to accept the grace offered.

Otherwise, there would be no need for preaching, since grace alone would effect salvation. Human acceptance or rejection of the gospel would mean nothing. Everyone would be saved, because God’s grace would be sufficient for believers and unbelievers alike. Believers, by adding something to grace, would not be in a better position than unbelievers who do not add something to grace.


#7

I’m wondering if someone can correct me if I’m wrong – I was told that because of Martin Luther, the word “alone” is added in the Protestant bible to a passage about salvation requiring faith, to support the sole fide perspective. Is this true?


#8

I’ve heard the same thing, although I don’t remember where. There is a passage in Romans where Paul says

Rom 3:28 For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

I think Luther added the word alone so it reads like this:

For we consider that a person is justified by faith alone apart from works of the law.

I think this is the passage in question and Luther later admitted to the addition. I don’t know the source for this information either, but I think I’ve heard it on Catholic Answers a few times.

Ut


#9

semi-pelagain

Please define terms thanks


#10

Ditto.


#11

Semi-Pelagianism was condemned in 529 at the Council of Orange. Catholics are not in any way Pelegian.

If a Protestant states that Catholic teaching is semi-Pelagian then they must also confess that their teaching of salvation by faith alone is also semi-Pelagian. Faith and works are both by grace. If one argues that works are Pelagian then they must also argue that faith is Pelagian.

Furthermore, scripture even says that faith is a work. The following passages should make this clear:

In John’s vision in the book of Revelation, Jesus warns members of the church at Ephesus that they might be destroyed if they do not repent and return to the love they once had. This is very clear in Rev 2:4-5 where Jesus says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the **works **you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” Then again just before addressing the transgressions of the church at Thyatira, Jesus says in Rev 2:19 that, "I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.” These verses are significant in two ways. They show the necessity of love in the plan of salvation, and they show that both love and faith are referred to as works.

Paul also makes this point in 1 Thessalonians 1-4

PAUL, SILVANUS, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father **your work of faith **and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you;


#12

As far as I know Luther added a number of “alones” into the bible, as well as removing significant sections of scripture that disagreed with his theology. Most protestant Bibles these days have removed Luther’s insertions, but still retain his exclusions. :rolleyes:


#13

I would respond that God’s grace is something that He allows us the freedom to cooperate with or reject. That freedom is part of being made in His image and likeness. God has a free will. His happens to be perfect as well so that it is entirely oriented to that which is “good and pleasing and perfect.” Our will is not perfect. We can choose to accept or reject even grace. Rejecting Grace is rejecting God and results in sin. Clearly when we choose to sin, we have chosen to reject the grace he promises to each of us during our trials (1Cor 10:13). We are his handiwork created in Christ Jesus for the good works he has provided in advance, and we SHOULD walk in them(cf Eph2:10). When we do, we are simply acccepting something He provided; when we choose not to, we are simply rejecting Him. That is not “grace plus something I do”; it is grace and how I respond to it, but my responses, independent of God’s grace, accomplish nothing salvific.
As far as “justification by faith alone” goes, James 2:24 pretty much eliminates that concept. We are talking about the central protestant theme and it is directly refuted by a plain rendering of that verse. It is only with a preconceived notion(sola fide) and much twisting and explaining that one can hope to for it to mean anything other that justification is NOT BY faith alone. For such an important concept directly relating to our salvation, it is unthinkable - if sola fide were true - that God would inspire James to write something so easily misunderstood to mean the exact opposite.


#14

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