Is the Calvinist understanding of Justification even in the Bible?

There is a fascinating discussion going on at a Catholic blog, showing the that Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness isn’t the Bible, especially in the Book of Romans. This is about the Calvinist view of Justification, but other Protestant views might also be affected.

creedcodecult.com/the-need-for-perfect-law-keeping-part-2/

If you have read the link (it’s only about 1 and a half pages long), please share your thoughts. :thumbsup:

It seems like this post really delivered a devastating blow to Calvinists, as they’ve not been able to address a single verse that’s been quoted.

Anyone read the article yet?

I read it.

It is unclear to me why you want to reinvent a dialog that was started there, which has 160 comments and counting, here, and why you posted what is meant to be an attack on Calvinism in the apologetics forum, which is meant to discuss Catholic belief. You might get more of a response if this were in the non-Christian forum.

Does it give an accurate representation of the Reformed position?

There are a lot of advantages to bringing a discussion here. There is more flexibility in writing posts, inserting links (editing features), etc, search features, and the forum rules protect everyone.

Guidelines for Apologetics forum.
For both Catholic and non-Catholic posters:
It is acceptable to question the doctrine or dogma of another’s faith
It is never acceptable to question the sincerity of an individual’s beliefs
Bringing up historical controversies peculiar to a particular religion should be done cautiously*
It is acceptable to discuss the effect the incident had on current policy or practice.
It is acceptable to seek the truth vs. commonly-held beliefs or conventional wisdom about actual events.
It is fallacious reasoning to use embarrassing incidents to claim that they “prove” a particular religion is false.
Expecting members of any Church to defend or answer for the excesses or extremism of bodies that have broken with it is a technique that has no merit and can’t be defended.

I wondered about that too, but if you look on the home page the people reading and posting on Apologetics right now are about three times the number in non-Catholic.

I can assure you that Catholics need a lot of work undersanding and responding to this topic.

Apologetics should not be an “attack” on anyone. We are to respond (make an apologia) with gentleness and respect.

You are right, though, we do not see the Calvanist understanding of justification in the Bible. With a lot of tutoring here from Calvanists, I have been able to understand, at least in part, how it is extracted and applied. It is a notion so far afield from what we have received from the Apostles it is difficult to wrap ones mind around it.

I am not sure. I hesitate to say there is one Reformed position. I am not an expert by any means in this area, and from what I know there are interweaving complexities. The prime question in any critique like this is does he really understand what he is critiquing, or is he just presenting a critique that sounds good? From the comments on the thread over there, it seems more like the latter. I would have to digest what he wrote and digest the comments and see where things are.

There are a lot of advantages to bringing a discussion here. There is more flexibility in writing posts, inserting links (editing features), etc, search features, and the forum rules protect everyone.

Guidelines for Apologetics forum.
For both Catholic and non-Catholic posters:
It is acceptable to question the doctrine or dogma of another’s faith
It is never acceptable to question the sincerity of an individual’s beliefs
Bringing up historical controversies peculiar to a particular religion should be done cautiously*
It is acceptable to discuss the effect the incident had on current policy or practice.
It is acceptable to seek the truth vs. commonly-held beliefs or conventional wisdom about actual events.
It is fallacious reasoning to use embarrassing incidents to claim that they “prove” a particular religion is false.
Expecting members of any Church to defend or answer for the excesses or extremism of bodies that have broken with it is a technique that has no merit and can’t be defended.

I know nothing about the site or its rules. It seemed there were a bunch of knowledgeable Protestants there. It just seems like a duplication of effort, and most Calvinists, frankly, wouldn’t be caught on a Catholic site.

I wondered about that too, but if you look on the home page the people reading and posting on Apologetics right now are about three times the number in non-Catholic.

I can assure you that Catholics need a lot of work undersanding and responding to this topic.

Apologetics should not be an “attack” on anyone. We are to respond (make an apologia) with gentleness and respect.

You are right, though, we do not see the Calvanist understanding of justification in the Bible. With a lot of tutoring here from Calvanists, I have been able to understand, at least in part, how it is extracted and applied. It is a notion so far afield from what we have received from the Apostles it is difficult to wrap ones mind around it.

The thread title certainly is suggestive of an attack and hard to interpret any other way.

Rather than the fisticuffs approach, I would prefer we worked towards mutual understanding and agreement. We have had way too much polarization.

Perhaps we can pursuade them to come over?

It takes a lot of courage, tenacity, and patience. Most of them are utterly mobbed here and it is difficult to keep up with all the posts. And as I am sure you have observed, Catholics do get away with saying impolite things where often non-Catholics do not. There is a bias.

For us it is not, since we do not consider ourselves a “religion of the book”. There are many doctrines of the faith not found so explicity in the bible. The word “Trinity” for example.

This is the goal of ecumenical dialogue, certainly.

Do a little exercise for me, please. Read through the thread titles in this [Apologetics] forum. Where it says ‘Catholic’ read ‘Protestant’. Where it reads ‘Calvinist’ or ‘Protestant’ read ‘Catholic’ and consider what your reaction is then to this forum. Do you think it is inviting friendly discussion and brotherly, genteel sharing of our common Christianity?

I am not sure this is an accurate statement.

Scripture clearly states that righteousness was imputed to Abraham by faith, and to all those who were united with him through circumcision.

Rom 4:11

11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Rom 4:22-25

22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Is it not clear how one could read this, and understand that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us for our justification?

James 2:23

23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

I was listening to Catholic Radio today. I am not sure who the guest was, but he was talking about reading Scripture through the lens of Sacred Tradition, or what Tomi calls my “Roman Catholic glasses” or something of that kind.

I realized that the same applies in reference ot this thread. Of course the Calvanist understanding of Justification is in the Bible! You can see it quite clearly if you are wearing your Calvanist glasses! It seems bizarre to Catholics because we use a very different set of filters.

It seems that faith itself is imputed for righteousness, not necessarily the righteousness of Christ Himself.

But, why is faith considered righteousness? It is because it acts in obedience through Love. It mirrors the Obedience of Christ. In our faith the Obedience of Christ is reflected.

That is why holding faith is paramount.

But I think Catholic Dude is overstating his case. He made more sense in the past when he said “imputed” is really just a synonym for “regarded” or “recognized”, and that the type of “recognition” accorded was one that is of something truly existing and not just “imagined” to be there.

I think the Obedience of Christ is a necessity in considering our justification, and that being “in Christ” makes His Obedience for the time of our sanctification ours. In the tiem of our sanctification we build our own righteousness through the works given to us by God, with the gift of merit that accompanies them.

However, we must remain in Christ, and to do so we have his Blood to wash away our sins as we confess and repent them (after Baptism).

But the question is, did the sacrifice of the OT come about because His blood would save us and it would be a sign of that salvation in Blood, or did He sacrifice Himself in order to provide the Blood to forgive our sins as the OT sacrifices were established to do?

In any case His Blood contains His Life, by inundating us with it we share His Life.

peace
steve

Mankind has only one path to salvation - by grace, through faith, by the blood of Jesus on the cross.

1 Cor 1:30
He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption;

What other way can we understand that He is the source of our righteousness?

2 Cor 5:21
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

It is not. Righteousness is imputed to us by grace, through faith. Faith is how we access the grace that makes us righteous.

You will never cease to have trouble having dialougues with Protestants if you purport that human beings can “build our own rightousness”. I understand the point you are trying to make, but to the Reformed ear it will sound like “works based salvation”.

Besides, this formulation does not account for those who are unable to effect “obedience” and “good works”. An accurate concept of salvation must include how infants and the disabled can be saved without these things.

I think this wording is much more effective. What does it mean to be “in Christ”? It means that we are obedient to His commnadments and to the authority He appointed over us. It means that saving faith is faith that that works itself out in love.

Guanophore,

I appreciate the sensitivity, understanding and respect you display here for those you do not agree with.

Thank you.

Tomi

I appreciate your encouragement.

I trust that you will let me know if and when my charity ever fails!

God is the source of our Life in Christ, yes, but see what the nrsv says about the rest of 1 cor 30:

30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption

Slightly different and moves Christ a step away from us: “for us” and not “our”. But the reason why I said faith is our righteousness is that Paul says “Abraham believed God and his faith was reckoned for righteousness”. So God sees faith itself, of course in God as its object, who is in the person of Christ, as righteousness.

2 Cor 5:21
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I see this as 2 points. The first is that faith in Christ is accounted by God as righteousness in itself, (basically a gift at baptism). Secondly our life in Christ accrues to us the merit of the obedience of Christ as we walk in the works that the Holy Spirit. The merit is not earned but is a gift actively received by us in the process of our works. Like digging hidden nuggets of gold where God tells us the gold is hidden. The work incorporates the merit into ourselves.

Note that it is God who both works in us to will and to do. So we can claim at best that we don’t hinder God. How is that earning?

It is not. Righteousness is imputed to us by grace, through faith. Faith is how we access the grace that makes us righteous.

I was just trying to show how Paul’s statement about Abraham can make sense. You are taking about #2. I am talking about #1. But both are necessary parts of our righteousness.

You will never cease to have trouble having dialougues with Protestants if you purport that human beings can “build our own righteousness”. I understand the point you are trying to make, but to the Reformed ear it will sound like “works based salvation”.

LOL! That’s why I stopped posting on the website hosted by the fellow with the initials of MS!

Besides, this formulation does not account for those who are unable to effect “obedience” and “good works”. An accurate concept of salvation must include how infants and the disabled can be saved without these things.

That’s part # 1 the faith that comes with baptism, a gift of righteousness. I believe it is so because it puts us in Him, who is our active source of righteousness (ie from works).

I think this wording is much more effective. What does it mean to be “in Christ”? It means that we are obedient to His commandments and to the authority He appointed over us. It means that saving faith is faith that that works itself out in love.

Exactly.

But remember Canon 32 from Trent:

Canon 32.
If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified, by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, ***does not truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life, and in case he dies in grace, the attainment of eternal life itself ***and also an increase of glory, let him be anathema.

Works are the mechanism whereby we gain the merit of attaining heaven (although Baptism being without any works of our own brings no extra rewards, due to a lack of meriting that salvation).

peace
steve

Righteousness is being in right relationship with God. Faith does not accomplish this “alone”. I can put my faith in Yoda, and still not be righteous before God. Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness by grace - because his faith was in God. It is not the faith that makes us righteous, but grace from God. We access that grace through faith, but it is faith placed specifically in God.

At baptism the work done by Christ on the cross is applied to us by grace.

No argument there! :thumbsup:

1 is not separated from #2. The same grace that makes us righteous is the grace that produces the good works in us.

You’re right, faith does not accomplish this alone. But are you saying God did not need to accord Abraham righteousness for his faith? Hmmmm, OK, I can see that. Grace*** is*** a gift.

But I thought righteousness was being in the state of being of lacking any guilt. That’s the way it is used in the OT. But on the other hand, I could see how lacking guilt could be equivalent to being in right relationship with God.

So maybe you are right but the problem remains that Abraham wasn’t really guiltless.

My way of resolving this is that God cancels out our guilt with the perfect obedience of His Son.

In the OT, God said that He will not justify,ie, declare innocent, the guilty. But in Christ we are justified. Thus we are innocent because we give to the Father the obedience, Christ’s obedience, that the Father really wanted to begin with. He has been restituted with what was properly His, that is, a life of obedience. And we have this becuse we are incororated into Christ’s Body, ie, are a part of Him.

And we are in Christ by our living faith. Our faith is a reflection of Christ’s Life.

The guilt of our rebellion is paid for not by the Cross, but the Life of Christ. His Cross was to give us His Blood and Body by which we can Live and remain in Him.

At baptism the work done by Christ on the cross is applied to us by grace.

I believe His Cross is how we get into and maintain ourselves in His Life (in our faith). But His Perfect Life is what makes us just.

1 is not separated from #2. The same grace that makes us righteous is the grace that produces the good works in us.

Yes, but I am comparing the initial entry into that righteousness with the holding of that righteousness. Of course baptism is our entry into the life of our lord. And in it we are given faith, hope and charity, Our baptism then uses our Lord’s death and resurrection to give death to our Flesh and life to our Spirits.

But our holding of our faith, our remaining in Him, is also mediated by that same cross.

The Grace that makes us righteous allows Christ’s Life to be placed in us. Faith Hope and charity to be poured into our souls. But the Life of Christ in us keeps that faith a living one through Good works.

Thus living faith is kept alive through our assent to the work of the Holy Spirit in us to do Good works.

And this brings up the problem of Trent canon 32. We can merit eternal Life. But what does this mean for those who are just baptized and have no works?

I think canon 32 can be explained by both the parable of the 5, 2 and 1 talents, and that of the hirelings at the 1st, 4th, 6th and 8th hrs of the day.

Basically, to Him who is given, more is expected of Him. But as we see with the hirelings, each receives that same pay…OR DO THEY?

Those hired first actually have an advantage, if they thought about it. They had worked with the landowner for a longer time and could have learned more about how the farm operated and what the landowner wanted. Though they only had a days wage, they could use that wage to work more competently for the landowner in the future (think, in the kingdom).

Thus merit prepares us for the responsibilities in heaven. The newly baptized receive heaven, but are not prepared for great responsibilities.

peace
steve

Agreed.
:thumbsup:

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