Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Logical Relationship Between Faith and Works

Among Christians and non-Christians alike there continues to be confusion over the relationship between faith and works. In many cases I think this stems from a basic misunderstanding of cause and effect. In this post I would like to briefly describe the relationship using basic logic.

In logic a distinction is made between "necessary" and "sufficient" conditions. Simply stated, a necessary condition is one which must be present for a thing to be the case (but does not guarantee it), and a sufficient condition is one which, by itself, guarantees that a thing be the case. For example, one must be female to be pregnant, but there are non-pregnant females. So being female is necessary for pregnancy, but does not guarantee it. Pregnancy is sufficient for femaleness, however, because only females can be pregnant.

In logical terms this relation can be expressed in the hypothetical phrase "If P then Q" (symbolically, "P>Q"). In this equation P is the sufficient condition and Q is the necessary. This can be demonstrated using the above example. It is clear that "if female then pregnant" is false, for there are non-pregnant females, but it is true that "if pregnant then female." So the relation between two terms is only correctly stated when the necessary and sufficient conditions are in their correct place.

Concerning faith and works we see from Ephesians 2:8-10 that:

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from
yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no
one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus
for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.
(NET)

Thus, it is clear that faith is the instrumental cause of salvation (what we are saved through)and that good works are the effect of salvation (what we are saved for), and an effect cannot be its own cause. However, confusion arises in James 2:14-22 when he states:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to
have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? . . . faith,
if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. . . . would you
like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not
Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
You see that his faith was working together with his works and his
faith was perfected by works.
(NET)
Those who see James as contradicting Paul here miss a very important point - Abraham was already affirmed in his faith by the time he offered his son Isaac (see Heb. 11:8-20). While Paul is stressing that faith alone saves - it is for good works. Thus, what James indicates is that faith that is alone is a worthless faith because it is not achieving the end to which it is oriented. James contrasts mere assent (which even demons have) with true, saving faith - one that will have good works as its result.

So it seems then that the proper way to understand this relation is that faith is the sufficient condition for good works (Thus, "If F then W"). Faith guarantees good works, but good works do not guarantee faith (for one can do "good works" without having faith).

Now, it might seem that if faith has good works as a result then we ought to be able to evaluate someone's faith by their good works. Alas, this is not the case. In a hypothetical syllogism (see below) there are only two valid forms: in order to arrive at a sound conclusion one can either affirm the antecedent ("F") or deny the consequent ("W") - neither works vice-versa. So, for example, in the arguments above one could not validly conclude faith ("F") from good works ("W") for this would be committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent.
F > W
F
= W

or

F > W
~W
=~F
However, can one validly conclude lack of faith (~F) from lack of good works (~W)? Logically, yes - practically, no. There are two difficulties. The first is that we are not privy to the entire life of a person so we may simply be ignorant of their good works. But even if we had access to one's entire life we are not given a biblical standard for the amount, quality, or frequency of these good works. Theoretically even one good work would satisfy the equation (indeed James' illustration of Abraham included only one). I think the most we can say is that when examining our own lives we can be pretty sure that zero good works are indicative of the kind of "faith" James is attacking - but we must be careful in how we judge others.

23 Comments:

Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

One must also keep remembering that faith itself is a gift Rom 12:3, Eph 2:8,9.

And that it is HE who works in you according to his own will and good pleasure Phi 2:13

This is so no man can boast and God gets all the glory !!

4:51 PM  
Blogger Douglas Beaumont said...

Actually the referent in Eph. 2:8-9 is inclusive with regard to the gift - this is clear in the Greek but not in English. Thus the preceding phrase "it is by grace that you have been saved through faith" is what the free gift is - not the faith. But yes, good works come from God although our will is still involved - otherwise reqrds and punishments would be senseless.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

I am a student of Greek.

But off point temporarily for clarification:

What is the source of faith? Is it the God-given means whereby the God-given justification is received, or is it a condition of justification which is left to man to fulfill? Do you hear the difference?

Kindest regards.
-Brian

9:04 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Also, just read a little of your site and some of it is fascinating. I have a few Norm Geisler's works and it's great stuff. About the music, I read a little about you on your site and it looks somewhat similar to my life as well but you wouldn't recommend anyone listen to Metallica or Iron Maiden...right?
-Brian

9:53 PM  
Blogger davis said...

Hi Brian,

Why wouldn't Doug recommend that someone listen to Iron Maiden or Metallica?

-Davis

4:28 AM  
Blogger Douglas Beaumont said...

soli,

I was not trying to imply that anyone here was ignorant of Greek - you probably know a lot more than I do in fact. So sorry if it sounded that way. As far as the answer to your specific question - I believe that faith is the response of a person to God's gracious offer. We could not have faith were it not for this grace, but I see no warrant for thinking of faith as being "given" in the sense that man passively receives it from God (a sort of "faith by salvation alone" as my friend M. Hipsley has said).

More importantly (haha), as to Metallica and Iron Maiden, I think these are too large of categories for an easy answer. I don't think Christians should imbibe falsehood or evil on an ongoing basis - and never for pleasure. But only if a given band produced nothing but those kind of messages in their songs could I make a single pronouncement on the band. Both of the bands you mention, in fact, have very good messages in some of their songs - Iron Maiden especially!

In fact, Rob Halford says, "Metal rules the land." You gonna argue with the lead singer of Judas Priest??? Didn't think so! (hahahaha) :)

Well, there's my enlightened commentary for the day.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Professor,

About the Greek, didn't mean to sound argumentative, I was tired and groggy. Next time I'll break the prozac in half. :):)

I agree with you about the music, that question was unfortunate (prozac) and I think was meant to be more rhetorical and right after I sent it I wanted it back:( . I used to be a big fan of Lars, James and the rest of em. Some of like you said have some good stuff in it and I don't think the beat is Satanic just...well I wouldn't let my daughter listen to it or Marilyn Manson. Of course those bands are definitely different but the analogy of the bathroom wall could apply here...some of what is written on that bathroom wall may be poetry but...urr..the other junk... I wouldn't recommend reading it just because of that. I know what it is. It is what it is.

Was it Plato who said "To say of what is, that it is, is true"...
"While to say of what is not, that it is, is false"

I'm sure you already know this because your site said you were a Professor. Are you a Professor at Dallas? I once wanted to attend there but couldn't afford it, anyway.

Anyway about the Soteriological question. Not sure if you answered me but...and sorry to pin you down on this point but if don't mind and if you have the time could you humor me on this?

“A” Is it the God-given means whereby the God-given justification is received?
Or is it
“B” Is it a condition of justification which is left to man to fulfill?

I'm thinking that because you wrote...”but I see no warrant for thinking of faith as being "given" in the sense that man passively receives it from God” that you would have chosen “A.”? So you don't believe saving faith is “given” and is a gift of God? Is this saving faith the one little thing we do?

You wrote: “I believe that faith is the response of a person to God's gracious offer...”
Do you mean sort of like a man drowning and is thrown a life preserver and has to reach out and grab it?

Quick anecdote. I don't really take prozac but my wife says maybe I should:) It's hard also being a parent...the other day I called an adoption agency...but the lady on the phone told me I was too old.:) ...Thank you...I'll be here all week...Don't forget to tip your waitresses.

Kindest regards and look forward to hearing from you soon.
-Brian

11:56 PM  
Blogger Douglas Beaumont said...

“A” Is it the God-given means whereby the God-given justification is received?
Or is it
“B” Is it a condition of justification which is left to man to fulfill?

Faith is up to each person. It is his response to God's gracious gospel which is the free gift that we cannot earn. Faith is not a work done for salvation, rather it is trusting in God's gracious plan. I do not believe this faith would be possible without God's working in a person, but the response remains free.

11:07 AM  
Blogger SBAce said...

One thing I think I have noticed about refrences to scripture is that Catholics resort to the Gospels first, while Protestants (if that term isn't offensive) resort to Paul first.

Our Lord said, "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." That does not seem to me to allow much wiggle room for you or for me. Is He not clearly demanding Works of us in order to be found worthy of Heaven? I think He is.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Douglas Beaumont said...

If this is the case then (1) no human but Jesus will be in heaven, (2) all red blooded heterosexual males should have their eyes plucked out by the age of 13, (3) everyone should get the death penalty for murder (i.e. being angry) . . . it's all in the same sermon and "be perfect" is just the summary.

I think the point of Jesus is: "Look, here's how you get into heaven: by being as perfect as God. And, since you can't do that, I'm going to die for you and if you believe in that I'll let you in anyway."

10:33 AM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Dennis, it sounds like you are saying you have to be perfect.

Yes you do have to be perfect (Matt 5) and that is a present perfect imperative, and yes the covenant of works is still in effect...but the problem for you and I is that we cannot keep all God's commands. But for us men and our salvation God fulfilled what he commanded, he provided a sacrifice for us in the Messiah.

The question for Douglas was dealing more with his position as it relates to faith and regeneration.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Professor,

There is no question as to who has to exercise faith. We do.
But in Salvation, are you saying that there remains in us just enough goodness to make that choice prior to regeneration? As far as being "free" to choose, are you saying we are free agents able to choose Christ? I was under the understanding that only Adam, Eve and Jesus had free will.

These Soteriological questions were so very important to the Reformers (as you probably know)and are the bedrocks of our faith as Protestants.

Kindest Regards,
-Brian

6:15 PM  
Blogger Douglas Beaumont said...

First, we are not under the covenant of works - this is made crystal clear throughout the NT and by the nature of the covenant itself which was made with Israel only (Acts 15; Heb. 7:22; 8:6-8; 2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 4:24-26; etc.).

Second, I do not believe it is goodness in us that = free will. Sin (which is acting contrary to the will of God) seems to require freedom (to oppose God's will). human free will is the only way I know of to make sense of blessing and cursing, and reward and punishment, for human choices.

Nor does being a Protestant entail a denial of human free will. There are moderates and extremists with regard to this issue and I take the moderate stance.

Extremists believe that a non-saved person is totally unable to understand or respond to God's truths so that the unsaved essentially has no free will. But it seems to me that in the overall picture of Scripture man in his fallen state retains the ability to understand and respond to the truths of Scripture - and thus can be punished or rewarded for their choices.

In the extreme camp, man has nothing to add to God's plan for his salvation (true) including his faith (false - faith is not an addition to the plan it is a response within the plan). Regenerative faith is seen by extremists as a gift given to man without any move of his own will. This eliminates any aspect of free will, for God simply acts to elect and the sinner is regenerated without any choice of his own (making it very difficult to allow for God's will that all be saved when we know they won't, or for the fact that God is all-loving yet chooses not to save some). The moderate asserts that man's will is involved and that faith precedes regeneration, being chosen by man. This solves the issues raised by the extreme view and does not contradict the total evidence from Scripture.

Now, according to God's omniscience man's actions are fixed, but what God knows and decrees are free choices. If God's knowing of an choice makes us non-free then no one, not Adam, Eve, or even Jesus in His humanity was free (which would contradict Mt. 26:39).

In the moderate view, human freedom of will and divine sovereignty can be equally affirmed which explains the equal conclusions presented in Scripture without denying either.

10:24 AM  
Blogger SBAce said...

I think that if a believer reads only the Gospels and no other Scripture, at the end of a year they will be Catholic. The discussion above is heavy on Paul but light on Jesus of Nazareth. Would you think it profitable to examine what Jesus said and did even more so than what his followers said and did? Seems reasonable to me.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Dennis,

Their is a Hermenuetical principle we must keep in mind when dealing with the Gospels and that is that •The Historical Narratives are to be interpreted by the Didactic• You need to get a good book on this. Try "Knowing Scripture" by Dr. R.C. Sroul. By the way, Sir, are you perfect yet?

Throughout your day, please cling to Christ as your righteousness. He is the one who justifies the wicked.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

•PB: Professor Beaumont Said: “First, we are not under the covenant of works - this is made crystal clear throughout the NT and by the nature of the covenant itself which was made with Israel only (Acts 15; Heb. 7:22; 8:6-8; 2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 4:24-26; etc.).”

•B: Brian Said: Professor, it is generally agreed that the Covenant of works was not abrogated. (1)“No change in the legal status of man can ever abrogate the authority of the law; that God's claim to the obedience of His creatures is not terminated by their fall in sin and its disabling effects; that the wages of sin continues to be death; and that a perfect obedience is always required to merit eternal life. This means that the covenant of works is not abrogated: (1) in so far as the natural relation of man to God was incorporated in it, since man always owes God perfect obedience; (2) in so far as the conditional promise still holds. God might have withdrawn this promise, but did not, Lev. 18:5; Rom.10:5, Gal. 3:12. It is evident, however, that after the fall no one can comply with the condition”. (1)

•Brian: Further, the scriptural references you mentioned do not get to your point. Christ did not abolish the law but fulfilled it. The better covenant is just that, a better covenant (it's wasn't God saying, “boy, this didn't work, here let me try something different”). The duality of the two covenants do not work against each other.
....God seems to be always going around destroying his credibility by promising too much...

•Brian: Please remember that the fault did not lay in the covenant but lay upon us for not being able to keep it, therefore the need for a better covenant and one who could keep it. God demands absolute righteousness from his creatures even now.

•PB: Second, I do not believe it is goodness in us that = free will. Sin (which is acting contrary to the will of God) seems to require freedom (to oppose God's will). human free will is the only way I know of to make sense of blessing and cursing, and reward and punishment, for human choices.

•Brian: This is the most important question of all. »»» Was your free will choice to be born again a “Righteous Act”?
You said “I do not believe this faith would be possible without God's working in a person”.
And then you said “Extremists believe that a non-saved person is totally unable to understand or respond to God's truths so that the unsaved essentially has no free will”
So does the unregenerate person have the ability or not to choose to be born again or is it the work of God? Your statements above seem to be contradictory. “Ye did not choose me, I have chosen you...” John 15:16
Do we believe we were dead in trespasses and sins? How can we, as dead men choose life?
I have free will to choose my wife, job, car, pet and what kind of deodorant to use, yes. Choosing to be born again, no. Pelagius would've said “yes”. This is at the heart of this Pelagian/Arminian vs. Reformation Theology debate.
I'd like to note that the view of sin as primarily separate acts (bad behaviors rather than primarily a state of corruption/guilt) is heretical. That is the Pelagian view of sin and is a deep dark hole. It is a LOW view of sin and what this leads to is the atomizing of sins and becomes a checklist of behaviors (ref. the new evangelical obedience) and at the end of the day makes Pharisees out of us all. If Christ is primarily “Example”, we are damned. He must remain primarily “Savior” throughout our lives.
As far as the problem with punishment and rewards: This is the argument in a nutshell. (3) “Some would say it takes away all motives for human exertion. This objection is to the effect that people will naturally say that, if all things are bound to happen as God has determined them, they need not concern themselves about the future and need not make any efforts to obtain salvation. But this is hardly correct. In the case of people who speak after that fashion this is generally the mere excuse of indolence and disobedience. The divine decrees are not addressed to men as a rule of action, and cannot be such a rule, since their contents become known only through, and therefore after, their realization. There is a rule of action, however embodied in the law and in the gospel, and this puts men under obligation to employ the means which God has ordained.”
(3)“This objection also ignores the logical relation, determined by God's decree between the means and the end to be obtained. The decree includes not only the various issues of human life, but also the free human actions which are logically prior to, and are destined to bring about the results. It was absolutely certain that all those who were in the vessel with Paul (Acts 27) were to be saved, but it was equally certain that, in order to secure this end, the sailors had to remain aboard. And since the decree establishes an interrelation between means and ends, and ends are decreed only as the result of means, they encourage effort instead of discouraging it. Firm belief in the fact that, according to the divine decrees, success will be the reward of toil, is an inducement to courageous and persevering efforts. On the very basis of the decree Scripture urges us to be diligent in using the appointed means, Phil. 2:13; Eph. 2:10.” (3)

“The Psycological Fiction of Free-Will”

•PB: Nor does being a Protestant entail a denial of human free will. There are moderates and extremists with regard to this issue and I take the moderate stance.

•Brian: I'll gladly stand with the Reformers of the Church like the “Extremists” Luther and Calvin and a host of others not willing to bend on these issues.

•PB: Extremists believe that a non-saved person is totally unable to understand or respond to God's truths so that the unsaved essentially has no free will. But it seems to me that in the overall picture of Scripture man in his fallen state retains the ability to understand and respond to the truths of Scripture - and thus can be punished or rewarded for their choices.

•Brian: No he doesn't have the ability and the argument is this: (4)“That it is inconsistent with the Moral Freedom of man (that God sovereignly elects). Man is a free agent with the power of rational self-determination. He can reflect upon, and in an intelligent way choose, certain ends, and can also determine his action with respect to them.”
“The Decree of God however carries with it NECESSITY. (1a)”God has decreed to effectuate all things or, if he has not decreed that, He has at least determined that they must come to pass. He has decided the course of man's life for him.”(1a) “In answer to this objection it may be said that the Bible certainly does not proceed on that assumption that the divine decree is inconsistent with the free agency of man. It clearly reveals that God has decreed the free acts of man, but also that the actors are none the less free and therefore responsible for their acts, Gen.50:19,20; Acts 2:23; 4:27,28. It was determined that the Jews should bring about the crucifixion of Jesus; yet they were perfectly free in their wicked course of action and were held responsible for this crime. There is not a single indication in Scripture that the inspired writers are conscious of a contradiction in connection with these matters. The never make an attempt to harmonize the two. This may well restrain us from assuming a contradiction here, even if we cannot reconcile both truths.”
“Moreover, it should be borne in mind that God has not decreed to effectuate by his own direct action whatsoever must come to pass. The divine decree only brings certainty in the events, but does not imply that God will actively effectuate them, so that the question really resolves itself into this, whether previous certainty is consistent with free agency. Now experience teaches us that we can be reasonably certain as to the course a man of character will pursue under certain circumstances, without infringing in the least on his freedom. The prophet Jeremiah predicted that the Chaldeans would take Jerusalem. He knew the coming events as a certainty, and yet the Chaldeans freely followed their own desires in fulfilling the prediction. Such certainty is indeed inconsistent with the Pelagian liberty of indifference, according to which the will of man is not determined in any way, but is entirely indeterminate, so that in every volition it can decide in opposition, not only to all outward inducements, but also to all inward considerations and judgments, inclinations and desires and even to the whole character and inner state of man. But it is now generally recognized that such freedom of the will is a psychological fiction., However, the decree is not necessarily inconsistent with human freedom in the sense of rational self-determination, according to which man freely acts in harmony with his previous thoughts and judgments, his inclinations and desires, and his whole character. This freedom also has its laws, and the better we are acquainted with them, the more sure we can be of what a free agent will do under certain circumstances. God himself has established these laws. Naturally, we must guard against all determinism, materialistic, pantheistic, and rationalistic, in our conception of freedom in the sense of rational self-determination.”
“The Decree is no more inconsistent with free agency than foreknowledge is, and yet the objectors, who are generally of the Semi-Pelagian or Arminian type profess to believe in divine foreknowledge. By his foreknowledge God knows from all eternity the certain futurition of all events. It is based on His fore-ordination, by which he determined their future certainty. The Arminian will of course say that he does not believe in a foreknowledge based on a decree which renders things certain, but in a foreknowledge of facts and events which are contingent on the FREE WILL of man, and therefore indeterminate. Now such a foreknowledge of the free actions of man may be possible, if man even in his freedom acts in harmony with divinely established laws, which again bring in the element of certainty; but it would seem to be impossible to foreknow events which are entirely dependent on the chance decision of an unprincipled will, which can at any time, irrespective of the state of the soul, of existing conditions, and of the motives that present themselves to the mind, turn in different directions. Such events can only be foreknown as bare possibilities.”(4)

•PB: In the extreme camp, man has nothing to add to God's plan for his salvation (true) including his faith (false - faith is not an addition to the plan it is a response within the plan).

•Brian: A response that has been conditioned by a regenerated heart through means. Yes. And no, man has NOTHING TO ADD to his salvation, even his faith (God grants what he requires). If you fancy believing you had some part in this ... think about it this way...your hand was clenched into a fist in your pocket, God took your hand out of your pocket, unclenched your fist, put the gift in your hand and closed it back up and put it back in your pocket. Then you discover what great thing you received. (The “moderate” soon claims he had his hand out, happened to be standing in the right spot and took it).

•PB: Regenerative faith is seen by extremists as a gift given to man without any move of his own will. This eliminates any aspect of free will, for God simply acts to elect and the sinner is regenerated without any choice of his own (making it very difficult to allow for God's will that all be saved when we know they won't, or for the fact that God is all-loving yet chooses not to save some). The moderate asserts that man's will is involved and that faith precedes regeneration, being chosen by man. This solves the issues raised by the extreme view and does not contradict the total evidence from Scripture.

Now, according to God's omniscience man's actions are fixed, but what God knows and decrees are free choices. If God's knowing of an choice makes us non-free then no one, not Adam, Eve, or even Jesus in His humanity was free (which would contradict Mt. 26:39).

In the moderate view, human freedom of will and divine sovereignty can be equally affirmed which explains the equal conclusions presented in Scripture without denying either.

•Brian: In Reformation Theology, faith does precede regeneration, God is the source of that faith and it is given passively! (Check Luther,Calvin on this) We are the “acted upon” and it is not “chosen by man” before regeneration by the Holy Spirit through means. The problem still is the claim that fallen man has the capability in himself to make a choice that he cannot make according to scripture. It may appear to him that he made the choice (after regeneration) but that it would be erroneous for him to continue to believe that he had anything to do with it.

A good bibliography would suffice here for further reflective exercise. (Romans) (Bondage of the Will, Luther) (Calvin's Institutes) (Machen, Warfield, Hodge, Berkhof, etc.) If we understand the basic thrust of Paganism which is basically man to God and Christianity which is God to man we can clear this up.
(1a) Cf. Watson, Theological Institues, Part II, Chap. XXVIII; Miley, Systematic Theology II, pp. 271 ff. (1)>>(4) Berkhof, Systematic Theology.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Good article on the Pelagian Captivity of the Church
http://www.modernreformation.org/rc01pelagian.htm

3:31 PM  
Blogger SBAce said...

The Schoolmen were criticized by the Reformers for straying away from Scripture and into their theologies. Here, on this Thomist blog, I find this conversation that is salted with scripture quotes enough, but few of them from the Gospels themselves.

My own favorite quote from the Epistles is 2 Peter 3:16, wherein Peter warns that Paul writes things that are easily misunderstood, to the ruin of many.

A Thomist blog article that explores the relationship between Faith and Works from the perspective of the Church, would seem to me to be well founded if what Jesus of Nazareth said and did forms the central portion of the conversation. I see above some 13 citations of Paul, and only three citations of the Gospels.

Put another way, I'm glad that there are 13 quotes of Paul. I would have thought that on such an important issue as Faith and Works, that there would be 14 quotes of Jesus of Nazareth.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Dennis, you have not answered my question yet, are you perfect right now? That is Christ's requirement.

I think if you check with your priest (if he has an education at all) he'll tell you that in the Holy Scriptures, Christ is not and must not be set against the Epistles, they are entirely complimentary. Like I said, the Historical Narratives are to be interpreted by the Didactic (as a general principle). This is well established within Christendom and for very good reason. The Scriptures are not a religious rabbits foot, you cannot simply pick and choose and set them in opposition to each other, the outcome is horrible.

We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Scholasticism can be a dangerous business, however, we have no other option. Good Scholarship must be pursued if for no other reason to oppose bad scholarship and/or anti-scholasticism / anti-intellectualism. Knowledge however must be tempered with wisdom to be useful and effective for the cause of Christ.

Some would also seek to elevate the fallen mind of man and his bent will, human free will and philosophy above God.

About quoting Christ (I have and you didn't answer me). Rome officially rejects Sola Scriptura so it wouldn't make a difference if I did quote him. Catholics march to the drumbeat of the Pope and church councils, not Scripture Alone which is where Christ speaks (in all of Scripture).

10:55 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Dennis: Some Jesus quotes from: Matthew Chapter 5

20- For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Notice that the quotations of Jesus from the Old Testament are taken from Deuteronomy.

21- "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'
22- But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, `Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, `You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23- "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24- leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
27- You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.'
28- But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29- If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
30- And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
31- "It has been said, `Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'
32- But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
33- "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'
34- But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne;
35- or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
36- And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.
37- Simply let your `Yes' be `Yes,' and your `No,' `No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
38- "You have heard that it was said, `Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'
39- But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40- And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
41- If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
42- Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you
43- "You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44- But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45- that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46- If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47- And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
48- BE PERFECT, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect

ALSO TO SUM UP, LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, HEART, MIND AND STRENGTH AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.

11:13 PM  
Blogger SBAce said...

It pleases me to see such a generous quotation from Our Lord. A couple thoughts along the way.

Gospel passages were uttered by Our Lord within the hearing of those present. It seems to me that it need not be illuminated ...need not be necessarily illuminated...by any comment from one of the saints, in many cases St Paul. Otherwise, Our Lord's utterances would have been ineffective at the moment he spoke them. Paul and other saints do helpfully illuminate Our Lord's teaching, but Our Lord was a superb teacher on His own. His meaning was understandable to those present.

You're right of course that one part of scripture cannot be opposed to another, for all is the Word of God. When I see an apparent difference of opinion between Our Lord and Paul, I defer on first blush to Our Lord, "and wait to see whether they can make the matter clearer in Rome" (a quote from Hilaire Belloc).

It is the Church which interprets scripture, the Church He founded and the Church he espoused. Scripture is an indispensable guide for us. When arguments arise, it is the Church which settles appeals: the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

My original point in writing was that it is good to cite scritpure and good to read the epistles. It is also very good to read Our Lord's words and actions, and that these should not be considered mere footnotes to St Paul.

My priest does have an education. Joseph Ratzinger was elected (some time around 1996) one of the Forty Immortals of the French Academy, by the other thirty-nine Immortals, to the only seat reserved for non-Frenchmen. It is the combination of high learning and high culture that distinguishes exemplary Catholics, in my mind.

A further quote from Hilaire Belloc comes to mind for some reason. He wrote in one passage of "the golden light cast over the earth by the beating of the wings of the Faith." I consider that thematic of the effect of the Catholic Church upon mankind.

Tu quoque bills itself as a site for moldy Thomists. But I find much evangelical protestantism. If I have misunderstood the purpose of the site, and if it is a site for prickly evangelical protestants, then I would do well to find more congenial sites. No sense bloodying each others' noses.

4:09 PM  
Blogger SBAce said...

A further thought about the difference between Catholics and Reformers.

I think I'm not the only one to see the seeds of the Reformation in the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John. Our Lord is teaching a eucharistic doctrine so extreme, so unmistakeable, so startling, so demanding that "That day many left Him, for this was a hard saying." He teaches that we must eat His Body and drink His Blood or we have no life in us. It caused many, perhaps most of those present, to go away. He turns to His disciples and asks if they will leave Him too. It is Peter who answers, "Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life."

In that one moment, I think we have the ageless model of the conflict between the Church and the Reformers, between those who will accept His hard saying about eating His Body and drinking His Blood, and those who will not accept it. In fact, it may be the foreshadowing of all the conflicts the Church has had with her opponents: it always seems to come down to the Real Presence.

At least it so appears to me.

I think the Reformers miss an inestimable gift in plain speech and in plain sight here in the Gospel of John. And I wonder if this is not why Reformers prefer the texts of Paul to those of the Gospels. And why I insist that the Gospels themselves constitute an essential, a primary source for Believers.

5:59 PM  
Blogger SBAce said...

"Do what He tells you."

This is what Our Lady told the water bearers at Cana. It's what the Catholic Church tells us all down to this day. It's the best advice we could receive.

"Do what He tells you."

4:51 AM  

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