Errors of Protestants
Protestants generally hold that the sacraments are signs of something sacred (grace and faith), but deny that they really cause Divine grace. Episcopalians, however, and Anglicans, especially the Ritualists, hold with Catholics that the sacraments are “effectual signs” of grace. In article XXV of the Westminster Confession we read:
Sacraments ordained of God be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and God’s good will towards us by which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken but strengthen and confirm our faith in Him (cf. art. XXVII).
“The Zwinglian theory”, writes Morgan Dix (op. cit., p. 73), “that sacraments are nothing but memorials of Christ and badges of Christian profession, is one that can by no possible jugglery with the English tongue be reconciled with the formularies of our church.” Mortimer adopts and explains the Catholic formula “ex opere operato” (loc. cit., p. 122). Luther and his early followers rejected this conception of the sacraments. They do not cause grace, but are merely “signs and testimonies of God’s good will towards us” (Augsburg Confessions); they excite faith, and faith (fiduciary) causes justification. Calvinists and Presbyterians hold substantially the same doctrine. Zwinglius lowered still further the dignity of the sacraments, making them signs not of God’s fidelity but of our fidelity. By receiving the sacraments we manifest faith in Christ: they are merely the badges of our profession and the pledges of our fidelity. Fundamentally all these errors arise from Luther’s newly-invented theory of righteousness, i.e. the doctrine of justification by faith alone (see GRACE). If man is to be sanctified not by an interior renovation through grace which will blot out his sins, but by an extrinsic imputation through the merits of Christ, which will cover his soul as a cloak, there is no place for signs that cause grace, and those used can have no other purpose than to excite faith in the Saviour. Luther’s convenient doctrine on justification was not adopted by all his followers and it is not baldly and boldly proclaimed by all Protestants today; nevertheless they accept its consequences affecting the true notion of the sacraments.
Against all innovators the Council of Trent declared: “If anyone say that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace which they signify, or that they do not confer grace on those who place no obstacle to the same, let him be anathema” (Sess. viii, can.vi). “If anyone say that grace is not conferred by the sacraments ex opere operato but that faith in God’s promises is alone sufficient for obtaining grace, let him be anathema” (ibid., can. viii; cf. can. iv, v, vii). The phrase “ex opere operato”, for which there is no equivalent in English, probably was used for the first time by Peter of Poitiers (d. 1205), and afterwards by Innocent III (d. 1216; de myst. missae, III, v), and by St. Thomas (d. 1274; IV Sent., dist. 1, Q.i, a.5). It was happily invented to express a truth that had always been taught and had been introduced without objection. It is not an elegant formula but, as St. Augustine remarks (Enarration on Psalm 138): It is better that grammarians should object than that the people should not understand. “Ex opere operato”, i.e. by virtue of the action, means that the efficacy of the action of the sacraments does not depend on anything human, but solely on the will of God as expressed by Christ’s institution and promise. “Ex opere operantis”, i.e. by reason of the agent, would mean that the action of the sacraments depended on the worthiness either of the minister or of the recipient (see Pourrat, “Theology of the Sacraments”, tr. St. Louis, 1910, 162 sqq.). Protestants cannot in good faith object to the phrase as if it meant that the mere outward ceremony, apart from God’s action, causes grace. It is well known that Catholics teach that the sacraments are only the instrumental, not the principal, causes of grace. Neither can it be claimed that the phrase adopted by the council does away with all dispositions necessary on the part of the recipient, the sacraments acting like infallible charms causing grace in those who are ill-disposed or in grievous sin. The fathers of the council were careful to note that there must be no obstacle to grace on the part of the recipients, who must receive them rite, i.e. rightly and worthily; and they declare it a calumny to assert that they require no previous dispositions (Sess. XIV, de poenit., cap.4). Dispositions are required to prepare the subject, but they are a condition (conditio sine qua non), not the causes, of the grace conferred. In this case the sacraments differ from the sacramentals, which may cause grace ex opere operantis, i.e. by reason of the prayers of the Church or the good, pious sentiments of those who use them.
Errors of Protestants
Interesting. Lots of quotes from the Westminster Confession, the Zwinglian theory, Mortimer, Luther, the Augsburg Confessions, Calvinists, Presbyterians, the Council of Trent, Peter of Poitiers, St. Thomas, St. Augustine, Pourrat and St. Louis.
But not a single quote from the Gospels. Any of them. Not a word. Not a syllable. Not even a passing reference. As if they are a side dish to be brought out when the occasion suits and returned to a dusty box in favour of more recent ruminations by men who made up the rules as they went along.
The Gospels should be centre stage in any discussion about God. They contain the Good News He sent through His son, Jesus. They are the words written down by men who either witnessed what Jesus said or did. God-given rules, not rules made up by men of power and privilege.
The Gospels should be centre stage in any discussion about God.
Thus what they teach re Christ founding His Church on St Peter and His mandates, and thus the actual teaching of His Church through His Magisterium should be paramount.
I can agree with everything you said here, even though you yourself did not quote 1 iota from scripture. :hmmm:
I think much of the OP is cut and paste from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Gospels are Catholic books.