Sunday, November 28, 2010

bossmanham, Pope Benedict, condoms, and me

bossmanham and I have just concluded a Facebook conversation.  He had posted this:
Like usual, the media has made someone say what they didn't actually say. Sad. The media truly is dead.

about this column from Roman Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin - "The Pope Said WHAT about Condoms???"

bossmanham is a bit too sympathetic to Rome for my taste, and I chimed in with a comment.  The following is our dialogue.

--Rhology-- Well...I don't know about that. He said it, after all.
This kind of ridiculous double standard doesn't make sense from Roman Catholics, like: "It does not carry dogmatic or canonical force."
Oh, b/c Jimmy Akin says so? Where's his imprimatur, nihil obstat, or Cardinal hat? Where's his Magisterium card?

Also, the Pope's statement that the use of condoms by males prostitutes could be "the first step towards moralization" was quite disturbing. As if the job of the church is to see that the world is "moralized". I think that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Pope doesn't know the Gospel. He talks like a politician, not a shepherd of souls.


--bossmanham-- It's the spin the media has put on what he said that is the problem. A private interview with the pope isn't a dogmatic judgment. Catholics are pretty clear about this actually. Only when the pope speaks ex cathedra does it carry infallible force in their view. The pope can have private views that are wrong according to RC doctrine.

The media has painted this statement as an approval of using condoms, if only in this situation, when it seems that what he is saying is that in that case, it is a realization by the prostitute that what he is doing isn't necessarily right; that perhaps they are having a moral reckoning that what they are doing is wrong. That's what I take away from it after reading about it for a bit.

I'm not sure why Akin would need any of those things to try to interpret what the pope was saying. As a Catholic, it would seem he'd have some knowledge as to Catholic dogma.

I'm not sure how the pope saying that someone may be realizing their moral failure could lead you to believe that his soteriology is one of moralizing the world. I don't have a problem with moral teachings as long as we aren't concluding that that can make us right with God. So I think you're being a little hasty saying, "I think that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Pope doesn't know the Gospel." I don't think we can make that judgment off of this tiny portion of an interview.

But I will agree that it seems to be something said carelessly. I wouldn't have said that was acceptable at all, but would have said that if you need to use a condom, you shouldn't be having sex. So it was a dumb thing to say, but my critique of media spin still stands.


--Rhology-- ‎--A private interview with the pope isn't a dogmatic judgment.

Says you. You need to explain why what you say is more important/authoritative than what the Pope says.

--Catholics are pretty clear about this actually

Not that clear, if you read the combox of the post to which you linked. One is tempted to think that RCism is a blueprint for anarchy.

--Only when the pope speaks ex cathedra does it carry infallible force in their view.

Not that anyone can ever identify when he does speak ex cathedra.

--could lead you to believe that his soteriology is one of moralizing the world.

Why would someone who's familiar with the Gospel say anything, ever, to the effect that "moralising the world" is a worthy goal?

-- I don't think we can make that judgment off of this tiny portion of an interview.

I didn't, thanks for your concern. ;-)
But you'd never catch me saying anything like that. Ever. Words mean things, you know?


--bossmanham-- ‎"Says you. You need to explain why what you say is more important/authoritative than what the Pope says"

Because what the pope says isn't always authoritative as dogma. Beyond that it could be debated, I'm sure. Just like many opinions of other Catholic theologians, liberal or conservative.

"Not that clear, if you read the combox of the post to which you linked. One is tempted to think that RCism is a blueprint for anarchy."

Well one reason I'm not Catholic is because I don't think their hierarchical structure is Biblical. I honestly don't think that many random internet Catholics are that informed about their dogmas. But then here's another problem with magisterial infallibility, who interprets the magisterial proclamations?

Anyway, I said they were clear on what is authoritative from the pope. That doesn't mean that I approve.

"Not that anyone can ever identify when he does speak ex cathedra."

Perhaps, but what IS ex cathedra teaching is distinct from the dogmatic proclamation that ex cathedra is all that is considered infallible.

"Why would someone who's familiar with the Gospel say anything, ever, to the effect that "moralising the world" is a worthy goal?"

I don't know that he said that, but I also wonder what the problem with moral teaching is. Jesus did it. So did Paul. That doesn't mean it saves you, but it also doesn't mean that it's bad to tell people to stop sinning either.

"But you'd never catch me saying anything like that. Ever. Words mean things, you know?"

Well we all have unguarded moments, which is why I'm thankful for the forgiveness of Jesus :D


--Rhology-- ‎--what the pope says isn't always authoritative as dogma

The problem is that it's virtually never clear when it is authoritative as dogma. It's left up to the layman in real practice, just like now.
And of course, why would a layman have authority to pronounce this statement of the Pope non-authoritative? Akin has no standing, no authority. Guy's not even a priest.
I should think Akin should do the right thing and submit himself to the Pope, not the other way around.

--But then here's another problem with magisterial infallibility, who interprets the magisterial proclamations?

Um, yep.

-- I also wonder what the problem with moral teaching is. Jesus did it. So did Paul.

I'm sure you realise that "moralising the world" is far different from teaching people about morals.

--we all have unguarded moments, which is why I'm thankful for the forgiveness of Jesus

And if your statements were to cast doubt on your acceptance of Christ ALONE as your atonement and merit... you would not in fact have His forgiveness. That's the problem here.


--bossmanham-- Well just because it isn't clear when it is authoritative doesn't mean really anything about it, other than we may face epistemic issues in figuring out when it is. I would say that Catholics would say that a private interview where the pope airs his private views on things is clearly not.

"I'm sure you realise that "moralising the world" is far different from teaching people about morals."

Sure. But I'm not sure the pope has ever advocated the former.

"And if your statements were to cast doubt on your acceptance of Christ ALONE as your atonement and merit... you would not in fact have His forgiveness. That's the problem here."

I don't think confusing statements one may make causes you to not have forgiveness. No one is perfect, and I'm sure I haven't spoken clearly before. Doesn't mean my relationship with Christ is nullified, does it?


--bossmanham-- Also, "moralizing the world" seems a tad ambiguous anyway, as I could take it as just spreading moral teachings. If it means to preach sinless perfection to gain heaven, well then Catholic dogma is against that.


--Rhology-- The point is: Why say "moralising the world"? Why not talk about preaching the Gospel? A man's priorities say a lot about him.

-- I would say that Catholics would say that a private interview where the pope airs his private views on things is clearly not.

I'm questioning on what basis they say that.

-- I'm not sure the pope has ever advocated the former

He just did, man.

--I don't think confusing statements one may make causes you to not have forgiveness.

If you're THE POPE, a man who has studied theology his entire life, and say stuff like that, there's a reason. The reason is not that he made a mistake or that he's ignorant. The reason is that he believes what he said and communicated what he believes.

-- Doesn't mean my relationship with Christ is nullified, does it?

What reason could you give me to think that he has a relationship with Christ, to begin with?


--bossmanham-- Did he say "moralizing the world?" I think he said that the use of a condom by such a person is a moralizing step. And just because that might be a priority wouldn't mean it's THE priority. Without knowing the man, I couldn't make that call.

"I'm questioning on what basis they say that."

You'd have to ask them, I suppose. They'd probably point to the magisterial teaching.

"If you're THE POPE, a man who has studied theology his entire life, and say stuff like that, there's a reason. The reason is not that he made a mistake or that he's ignorant. The reason is that he believes what he said and communicated what he believes. "

We're debating what he said too, so just saying this statement damns him would be begging the question. He's said other things too. It's not as if one sentence of an interview is an appropriate source to gauge his soteriology.

"What reason could you give me to think that he has a relationship with Christ, to begin with"

He professes Christ as Lord. I have no reason to doubt that. Just being the pope doesn't mean he isn't saved


--Rhology-- ‎--You'd have to ask them, I suppose.

Oh, I do. Over and over again.

--They'd probably point to the magisterial teaching.

Which is as easily identifiable as "ex cathedra" papal pronouncements.

--He professes Christ as Lord.

The demons do too, and the unregenerate will. There's a bit more to it, and a few things you need to NOT have in your confession, like any trust in your own merit for example.


--bossmanham-- Heh, the Catholic bloggers you interact with don't really have a handle on their own theology. But I've not looked into it enough to see if there are good answers.

"The demons do too, and the unregenerate will"

They know Christ is God, but they don't profess Him as Lord. And I'm aware that unregenerate can make the false claim that they are in Christ. I'm saying we can't make that determination because we don't have access to their hearts.

And Catholics don't trust in their own merit. They think the merit comes from God through the sacraments and then through the actions the sacraments and God enable and initiate. They do believe one has to willingly do good, but they chalk it all up to grace.

The main disagreement historically was over justification, and I think it's mostly talking past one another. Plus, I've quoted to you citations where the pope extols the merits of Luther's teaching on justification. I don't think your contentions here are viable.

Not only that, I'm not sure that vocalizing the doctrine of sola fide is a necessary condition of salvation.


--Rhology-- ‎--They do believe one has to willingly do good

And there it is.

-- I've quoted to you citations where the pope extols the merits of Luther's teaching on justification

I'm confused now. When do I believe that what a Pope says outside of an official ex cathedra capacity really matters? Trent is infallible w/o question and it condemned the Gospel.

-- I'm not sure that vocalizing the doctrine of sola fide is a necessary condition of salvation.

Normally no. But Ben16 is a trained theologian. He's the Pope! If he believed the Gospel, it would come out sometime. Since it never does...


--bossmanham-- There what is? You don't think we need to willingly do good?

"I'm confused now. When do I believe that what a Pope says outside of an official ex cathedra capacity really matters? Trent is infallible w/o question and it condemned the Gospel. "

Because we're talking about the pope.

Trent was pretty much overturned in Vatican 2 (at least the anathemas, though they can't say that) and I don't judge people by 500 year old documents. Though I can judge that the institution that is Catholicism is inconsistent in what it says and what it practices.

I mean at one time it was said there is no salvation outside the institutional Catholic church, and now we're separated brethren and they've pretty much adopted an expanded mercy, respond to the light given, explanation of those outside and their salvation. 500 long years since Pope Pius and the Trent boys.

"Normally no. But Ben16 is a trained theologian. He's the Pope! If he believed the Gospel, it would come out sometime. Since it never does..."

Again, I've cited to you where he does. And I'm not sure how being a theologian magically changes his status. You and I can't examine his heart, let alone his life, so I don't think we can make that judgment.


--Rhology-- ‎--(at least the anathemas, though they can't say that

Haha, well, those were no small thing! And that's precisely what I'm talking about.
Besides, appealing to po-mo flower-child Vatican II is not the way to go. There's a reason many conservative RCs shy away from it.

-- I don't judge people by 500 year old documents.

What about judging them by their still-active allegiance to them? Their unwillingness to put them aside and embrace the biblical faith?

--And I'm not sure how being a theologian magically changes his status.

It leaves him w/o excuse. He has zero excuse for speaking imprecisely and for not sharing the Gospel most every chance he gets. I challenge you to find me one place where he's shared it.


--bossmanham-- I agree they were no small thing. I'm not defending it, I'm saying they only give it lip-service today, because if they didn't it would show that, in fact, Roman Catholic dogma CAN change. Then they'd have to admit something they espoused didn't come from apostolic succession. But in practice it is ignored.

"It leaves him w/o excuse. He has zero excuse for speaking imprecisely and for not sharing the Gospel most every chance he gets."

Well we're all without excuse, and hopefully the blood of Christ covers our imperfections. Of course we can't really take one sentence from an interview and say it proves he believes a false gospel.

"The Letter to the Philippians, provides moving testimony of Paul's shift from a justice founded on the Law and achieved by observing certain prescribed actions, to a justice based upon faith in Jesus Christ. ... It is because of this personal experience of the relationship with Jesus Christ that Paul focuses his Gospel on a steadfast contrast between two alternative paths to justice: one based on the works of the Law, the other founded on the grace of faith in Christ"

"Paul knows that in the twofold love of God and neighbor the Law is present and fulfilled. So in communion with Christ, in faith, which creates charity, the Law is realized. We become just by entering into communion with Christ, who is love."

I mean that really contradicts at least two cannons of Trent.


--Rhology-- ‎--I mean that really contradicts at least two cannons of Trent.

If he really believes consistently with that, then here are the consequences:
1) He's a hypocrite. As Pope, he is bound to uphold the infall teachings of Rome, but here he's beating up infall anathemas.
2) What does it say about his conscience, that he would rise to be THE BIG CHEESE of a church that has officially anathematised the Gospel? Not "a priest". THE POPE.
3) He's a double-talker, a politician. These quotations are incompatible with the goal of "moralising the world".


--bossmanham-- ‎1) Perhaps, or he's just unwittingly inconsistent.

2) It shows that they no longer believe that we're anathema.

3) You've not shown that he actually said anything about moralizing the world. Those words aren't in the statement.


--Rhology-- ‎1. Unwittingly? The man has been thinking theology longer your and my combined lifetimes. Highly doubtful. Lk 12:48 and all that.

2. They SHOULD. That's part of the point, I should think. If they don't, I guess it would go to show two things:
a) What you said about their unbiblical authority structure - they can't live it out! (very Francis Schaeffer-like)
b) The supposed strong distinction between infallible-authoritative teaching and fallible-non-authoritative teaching is a phantom. Individual RCs will pick and choose between whatever whoever says, as they like. If they say they're supposed to be held fast to infallible-authoritative teaching and yet toss it aside as you're suggesting they've done, that's the exact same as what they do with what *I* say.

3. "There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where ***this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization***, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality."


--bossmanham-- ‎1) I don't know for sure. I'm just saying it isn't necessarily some malevolent intent on his part just because he's the pope.

2) I agree, and think this should be pointed out to RC's.

3) I don't take that as his whole goal is to moralize the (world).

40 comments:

Joel said...

Gotta say, man, I think I'm on bossmanham's side with this one. Sure, smack the Catholics about all you like over their silly inconsistencies - the ex cathedra hat is invisible, the emperor is nude and all the rest.

At the same time, I don't think that inconsistency is the same as apostasy. If the Pope says he believes in the gospel, and articulates it to mean something in the same ballpark as what we do, then that should end the soteriological debate. It makes the doctrinal questions, if anything, even more pressing: now we aren't arguing against some random hater, but for the purity of the Church. But I don't think the Bible gives us the kind of guillotine cut-offs you seem to be employing here.

Rhology said...

I suppose my first reactions would be:
-Mormons SAY they believe the Gospel. Do they?
(They also say they believe in Jesus.)
-Is faith+works indeed "the same ballpark" as faith+nothing?
-I see plenty of good reasons to DIScount RCC as "the Church", so "the purity of the Church" would be a non-starter there in that case. Since RCC has officially anathematised us, why would we consider ourselves part of the same Church?

bossmanham said...

There's a marked difference between Mormon doctrine and Catholic doctrine. Just soteriologically, Mormons teach that you're saved after all you can do. Catholics teach that we are saved by the grace of God. Beyond soteriology, Mormons are also polytheists, and don't think that the Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one being.

Catholics hold to all of the early orthodox creeds that have defined orthodoxy.

It's not really a faith + works system for Catholics. As I understand it, they view justification and sanctification as one thing. They think justification is a process. Any good works we do they would attribute to God's grace. I just don't think this misunderstanding on their part is something that is the "guillotine cut-off," as Joel put it.

Rhology said...

Mormons teach that you're saved after all you can do. Catholics teach that we are saved by the grace of God.

...after all they can do.
There's really not a difference once you drill down into it a bit.
And I can understand the desire to say "that's the big diff, and it's not that big", but Galatians 1:8-10 does not allow us that wiggle room.

aztexan said...

Wanna see my guillotine? The hard-nosed Arminian is, in my mean ol' judgmental book, about as likely regenerate as are your RC, your Mormon, your Russellite, etc. So there.

Do all Christians receive the same Scriptures? The same Spirit, Who, among many other works, illumines those Scriptures? Then how to account for the Dave Hunts, Norm Geislers and Roger Olsons (etc., etc.) of the world?

Once I've determined that a self-styled "Christian" has had ample exposure to Biblical teaching, understands the issues/stakes involved, and yet still defies Scripture and reason by remaining Arminian, I cannot see that person as a fellow-believer. At that point I figure they need evangelism, not a doctrinal "tune-up."

I've wondered for some time now: Am I alone in this? Am I a douche for strongly suspecting unregeneracy in such a case?

Rhology said...

Well, it all comes down to whether they believe the Gospel. Galatians 1:8-10, I repeat.

aztexan said...

Sure it does. What I mean is, doesn't it make you doubtful of the veracity of their profession? Does me.

Rhology said...

Just depends, case by case basis. For example, bossmanham here is a pretty serious Arminian. With that in mind, I asked him about his beliefs with respect to salvation, and his answers showed that he does believe the Gospel.
When you start talking about ppl who remain in the RCC, then I start getting REALLY suspicious, to be sure.

aztexan said...

With apologies to Ham and other "serious Arminians" who contribute here, my rejoinder would go something like, "'Serious Arminian'" is either (a) a contradiction in terms or (b) another check mark in the LIKELY UNREGENERATE column."

Didn't mean to throw the combox off topic; just typing out loud.

bossmanham said...

Scuse me while I massage both my temples and the bridge of my nose after reading the amazing insight of aztexan. Thank goodness for guys like him restoring what was lost for the first several hundred years of the church. Those dummies like Justin Martyr and Tertullian with their free will heresy. Yes, the major early theologians and martyrs who fought against the gnostic's determinism were very uber mega wrong.

I finally see the error of my stupid ways, and that I never have really been a Christian all this time and that it must have been the fake assurance.

Joel said...

I wouldn't go so far as bmh - it's not clear to me that Catholics are hunky-dory, either. (Incidently, B, I'd be a little more wary in your appeals to Tertullian - not exactly the apostle Peter, was he?)

Trent, for instance, is an obviously Pelagian document. As Rho has pointed out several times, you cannot seriously believe that you get to heaven on your own merits and simultaneously expect to go there. But Trent is also in many respects extremist and reactionary, produced in a climate of intense anxiety. If you go back two centuries, the Tridentine conclusions seem far outside the mainstream.

Nevertheless, it would seem that devout and studious Catholic, like the Pope, knowing these doctrines' content and their officially binding status, and not renouncing them, could not be a Christian. Which follows well enough. But I think that argument fails to consider the human capacity for contradiction.

The Pope has vast, seemingly bottomless issues with his ecclesiology, and this entails a certain amount of inconsistency.

Which, really, you seem to acknowledge: you agree he claims to believe the gospel, while (at least implicitly) defending various heresies. You have supposed that the insincerity, or at any rate the part that gets cancelled when you balance the equation, lies in his affirmation of the gospel. I just want to allow for the possibility that it could be on the other side too.

Joel said...

The other thing - and here is where it gets a little sticky - is that the biblical delineation between faith and works is sometimes a little less that crystal clear. (At least to me.) Forensically it's comprehensible enough: humans are morally incompetent, ergo, we are saved, if at all, by the free gift of God. Woot.

But the reception of said grace necessarily produces works. The two are in a very practical sense inseparable. Cf, for example, Matthew 25, where admission into heaven apparently turns on the performance of certain works of charity. Not that that passage is the only one on the subject - we have to read the bible as a complex, and I do wholeheartedly subscribe to the reformed view of the matter. I'm just trying to point out that the details get very messy very quickly.

Joel said...

Aztexan,

Same to you, I think: yes, agreed, hard (by which I mean, not inconsistent) Arminianism does seem a very poor, possibly heretical reading of Scripture. I still think we need to be cautious in deciding, especially in the absence of clear biblical warrant, which interpretive mistakes coincide with apostasy. Sure, it's one thing to try to correct the mistakes. I just think that kind of "guillotine" approach is a lot more fraught that you're letting on.

aztexan said...

Joel:

The guillotine reference was tongue-in-cheek, a riff on the illustration already in play. As stated, I don't take upon myself to pronounce apostate even the “hardest” of freewillers. I'm merely owning up to my position: simply that I have honest doubts as to the regeneracy of those Arminians (even the more-common "inconsistent" type) who have been duly instructed, yet refuse to submit to the overwhelming testimony of Scripture, the Spirit and plain reason.

Perhaps Arminian was a poor choice of words; synergist is better. I do not see any brand of synergism as at all viable or valid for the mature Christian. IMO it is a God-dishonoring, Gospel-distorting, man-exalting circumvention of both Scripture and common sense, an innovation that is sure to be purged by the Spirit from all "serious" students of the Word. I consider them insolent who, having been shown the innumerable pitfalls and inconsistencies of synergism contrasted with the organic/systematic harmony and God-glorifying simplicity of monergism, nevertheless cling to the freewill fiction.

My doubts are not motivated by meanness or snobbery; I sincerely cannot understand how a soul taught from the only Word of God by the only Spirit of God can embrace what is, in my mind, a thoroughly anti-Christian view.

But again, I am here expressing only doubt as to the unrelenting synergist’s salvation, NOT certainty as to his unregeneracy. Hopefully that is crystal.

Ham:

Please don’t take this personally. I don’t know you, your level of Scriptural knowledge, the extent or quality of teaching you have received, or your heart. Forgive me if my words come across unkind or condescending.

See it this way, if it helps: My point was only to admit that I am not ashamed to be the “weaker brother” in this area, if indeed I am out of line. Bear with my weakness, and seek grace not to mistake my tender conscience for hostility.

Rhology said...

Joel:
I'm just trying to point out that the details get very messy very quickly.

I sorta see what you're saying, but in my short time as a Calvinist, I've discovered that Calvinism seems to solve that issue pretty well, actually. Not saying it's impossible for the Arminian side, but it seems clearer/easier for the Calvinist.

And the thing about Trent is that it has never been un-stated. I have nothing but scorn for RCs who pretend it didn't happen part of the time, pretend it doesn't matter part of the time, and rip Reformedigelicals for not being semi-Pelagian the rest of the time.

Rhology said...

aztexan,

Approx how long have you been born again, and how long a Calvinist?

Joel said...

I agree that Calvinism explains things successfully, but I think that Calvinism includes a healthy dose of doing stuff. Work out your salvation, for it is God who is at work in you for his good pleasure. In order to be faithful to the text, we have to affirm both that works are indispensable, and that the only thing that matters is grace. If you push on either statement, you get heresy (either hard Determinism or Pelagianism); pushing on both produces paradox. And I think we need to be prepared to live with that tension.

Not, certainly, that some things aren't out of bounds. I just think that we should err on the side of charity.

Joel said...

In re: Trent, yeah, I know, and it is just a little frustrating. Although, since the Catholics did kinda sorta take a lot of it back in Vatican II, don't you think that amounts to a de facto retraction, at least of some of it? Do you agree, at any rate, that the two councils are inconsistent with each other? Now of course this is quite the dilemna for a Romanish ecclesiology, but we already agree that their view of the relationship between Church and doctrine is incoherent. Since it appears that Trent does not govern what modern Catholics think, what is its relevance?

aztexan said...

Rho: 22 years.

bossmanham said...

Joel,

I didn’t say Catholics are “hunky-dory” depending on what you mean by that. Do I think that Roman Catholic dogma is automatically damnable? No, just like I don’t think Calvinist dogma is damnable. I think some aspects are wrong and would attempt to convince people of that for that reason.

I think you’d need to point out how Trent is Pelagian, since in the document it never says that people can come to God and choose good under their own natural power without divine aid. I mean to say that is to not have really read the document. I mean the fifth session is all about refuting Pelagiansim and semi-Pelagianism. Canon 3 of the fifth session, for instance, says, “If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam,--which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own, --is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, santification, and redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the church; let him be anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.”

I think there are issues with Roman Catholic ecclesiology in general. Mainly I don’t see the prerogative in scripture for it. What heresy has the pope defended? What do you mean by heresy? Most commonly, heresies refer to the false teachings condemned in the early church councils.

I never said Tertullian was Paul, and I don't think the fathers have the authority that the apostles do (though I think they do have some clout), but if you condemn me based on believing in freedom of the will, then you must condemn the early church fathers as well.

aztexan,

I, in reply to your opinion, could simply regurgitate what you just wrote with minor modification. I mean anyone can say that about someone else’s theological system. I so commonly see this stuff from online Calvinists and I never see an argument for the assertion. It's just asserted as the gospel truth without any grounding, and it's honestly tiring and a sign of an insecurity with your own view that you have to do that to others'. If it's true, then you ought to be able to back it up with argument.

But I do thank you for your most recent reply. Perhaps, if I may suggest, you don't label the system automatically so negatively. It only fosters hostility.

Now, if you're interested in discussing it further I'm willing to, but not here since it isn't at issue here.

Rho,

Much of Trent was kind of modified, for lack of a better term, at Vatican 2. They give lip service to Trent, but they don't seem to think that those who disagree on certain points are anathema; if anathema means damned, which I think it does.

Matt said...

My doubts are not motivated by meanness or snobbery; I sincerely cannot understand how a soul taught from the only Word of God by the only Spirit of God can embrace what is, in my mind, a thoroughly anti-Christian view.

Therein lies the rub. People do not learn the Scriptures in isolation, but are taught and influenced by others. If you grow up (in the faith) within the context of a certain theological tradition, it is difficult to evaluate things from outside the context of that tradition. Many Arminians (like Dave Hunt) are not even aware that they have a specific theological tradition - such people, to paraphrase James White, are more blinded by their traditions than anyone else. There are others (a significant minority, I would argue) that have "converted" to Arminianism through being convinced by various arguments. For the most part, I would argue that the average Christian on the street believes what he/she believes in large degree as a result of the traditional bias imparted to that person through the specific demonination in which they have grown up in the faith.

Human consistency is not a logical necessity. We are all inconsistent at some level, on some things. While it is irrational for a human to believe both X and not-X, this is not a contradictory state of affairs.

The study of the mind, and its corruption by sin, is a deep well of speculation and potential disputation. The complexity of the issue aside, I would posit that a person whose mind is functioning properly and thinking rationally, free of traditional and emotional bias, would come to accept the Doctrines of Grace with enough study of Scripture and relevant theological arguments. The fact that fellow Christians do not come to accept these doctrines suggests then that there are traditional biases, emotional biases, or other irrational thought-patterns at play. I can attest, from my own personal experience, growing up as a Once Saved Always Saved Arminian, that all three were present in my thinking at that time regarding soteriological and related matters.

If a person claims to be a Christian, and trusts Christ alone to save him from his sins, through no work of his own, but by His grace alone through faith alone, and if such a person exhibits the fruits of a child of God, then I have no grounds for doubting that such a person is a fellow believer. If such a person holds soteriological beliefs whose logical consequences ultimately contradict the truths of the Gospel, I don't necessarily have to regard them as an unbeliever. Such a person may not believe that their soteriological beliefs have logical consequences that ultimately contradict the truths of the Gospel. Such a person is inconsistent in that area, but not necessarily unsaved.

Matt said...

I think a final point of analysis is the importance of the various beliefs to a person. Some beliefs are more fundamental to a person than others. Whether or not their is water on the Moon is quite trivial compared to whether or not the Gospel is true. When it comes to soteriology and the Gospel, those truths are logically related, but they are not of equal importance. An unsaved theologian can have a perfect soteriology and not believe the Gospel, while an honest but undiscipled believer can believe the Gospel and have a confused soteriology. If a person places soteriology above God and the Gospel, he/she is committing idolatry at best, and is an unsaved theologian at worst. I would have doubts about the salvation of an Arminian who spends most of his time railing angrily against the sovereignty of God and the God of Reformed theology, while placing little or no emphasis on the Gospel. On the other hand, I could accept as my brother a fellow professing believer who, even though he argues for Arminian theology, seems to have his priorities in the right order.

In summary, I've struggled with this issue myself. While I agree that having a correct and God-honoring theology is important, I think that to go down the judging-salvation-solely-by-verbal-credal-affirmation road is to end up like Marc Carpenter in the end. The human mind marred by sin has an amazing capacity for inconsistency, (which never ceases to amaze me, especially w.r.t. myself), which renders insufficient any analysis of salvation solely on the basis of bad soteriology.

I think this article sums up the issue nicely.

bossmanham said...

Well I posted something, then blogger actually looked like it was here, and now it's not. It screwed up about 50 times. I'll see if I can repost it later.

aztexan said...

Well said, Matt -- thank you for your two cents. Assuming I correctly understand all you wrote, then I disagree with nary a word.

The Monergism.com article you linked is an especially nice piece -- the author seems to state my position precisely, in his own words. He even threw in a Roger Olson quote (which was in response to J. Piper on the '07 bridge collapse, memory serving), and I mentioned Olson by name earlier in this thread.

If one wants to quickly get the gist of my point and my reason for stating it (unaware as I was, mind you, that Ham is Arminian; I wasn't aiming for controversy, dispute or hurt feelings), then read the quick article linked by Matt. The heart of my sentiment can be found between On the other hand, if they say they rest in Christ alone... and [...] I will not count out the fact that such a person may be saved. Nice link, Matt.

I'll provide some others, this one dealing specifically with Dave Hunt. One of countless such links on A&O's site alone, and a short one.

A couple of lengthier interactions with Hunt et al and their jaundicing traditions (as Matt so charitably puts it) follow, also from A&O/James White:
The Great Calvinistic Conspiracy
Blinded By Tradition: An Open Letter to Dave Hunt

Does it bode well, do you think, for Hunt, Olson and their ilk that, in spite of their education, resources and decades as so-called Christians, they yet distort, misrepresent, malign and hate the DoG's, and teach countless others to do the same? Does this indicate a love of God, a reverence for Scripture, a concern for fairness, and a passion for truth? How seriously do these "brothers" take their solemn duty as teachers? Can a regenerate child of God conduct himself in this way? See again the article Matt provided, in which the author raises the same question.

I merely extend these questions beyond teachers and high-profile spokesmouths for freewillism to rank-and-file laymen who have been duly instructed as to the errors of Arminianism and the corresponding antidotes in "Calvinism," yet remain staunchly Arminian. Sadly my own dear Dad is one of these, and as a result I fear for him. I hope my fears are unfounded, but I can't deny my doubt.

Once again, Matt, thank you for the link. I hope that your contribution has helped in clarifying to others my position, especially to BossManHam and any other Arminians who might be reading.

zilch said...

I have problems enough as an atheist, but at least I don't have these problems, which seem to be insoluble. They say that if you torture the Bible, you can get it to say whatever you want; but my impression is that even plain reading will not get you any further towards the "true" meaning of Scripture, and two thousand years of casuistry and exegesis bear me out.

In any case, looks like I'll have lots of company in Hell, what with all the so-called Christians who will be there with me: the Catholics, the Mormons, the Arminians...

cheers from the real world, zilch

aztexan said...

Ham: I could try c-and-p-ing your reply from my inbox onto the thread, if that would help.

aztexan said...

Yep, something is screwy with the thread. My post just disappeared, too.

zilch said...

Hmmm... no problems with Blogger from this end at the moment. But I've had problems in the past too. That's one bit of common ground we all have.

cheers from icy Vienna, zilch

bossmanham said...

aztexan,

Is my post showing on your computer? That's weird...

bossmanham said...

If it'll let you post it, please do.

aztexan said...

BOSSMANHAM wrote:
Joel,

I didn’t say Catholics are “hunky-dory” depending on what you mean by that. Do I think that Roman Catholic dogma is automatically damnable? No, just like I don’t think Calvinist dogma is damnable. I think some aspects are wrong and would attempt to convince people of that for that reason.

I think you’d need to point out how Trent is Pelagian, since in the document it never says that people can come to God and choose good under their own natural power without divine aid. I mean to say that is to not have really read the document. I mean the fifth session is all about refuting Pelagiansim and semi-Pelagianism. Canon 3 of the fifth session, for instance, says, “If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam,--which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own, --is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, santification, and redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the church; let him be anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.”

I think there are issues with Roman Catholic ecclesiology in general. Mainly I don’t see the prerogative in scripture for it. What heresy has the pope defended? What do you mean by heresy? Most commonly, heresies refer to the false teachings condemned in the early church councils.

I never said Tertullian was Paul, and I don't think the fathers have the authority that the apostles do (though I think they do have some clout), but if you condemn me based on believing in freedom of the will, then you must condemn the early church fathers as well.

aztexan,

I, in reply to your opinion, could simply regurgitate what you just wrote with minor modification. I mean anyone can say that about someone else’s theological system. I so commonly see this stuff from online Calvinists and I never see an argument for the assertion. It's just asserted as the gospel truth without any grounding, and it's honestly tiring and a sign of an insecurity with your own view that you have to do that to others'. If it's true, then you ought to be able to back it up with argument.

But I do thank you for your most recent reply. Perhaps, if I may suggest, you don't label the system automatically so negatively. It only fosters hostility.

Now, if you're interested in discussing it further I'm willing to, but not here since it isn't at issue here.

Rho,

Much of Trent was kind of modified, for lack of a better term, at Vatican 2. They give lip service to Trent, but they don't seem to think that those who disagree on certain points are anathema; if anathema means damned, which I think it does.

aztexan said...

Well, Matt, I spent a good deal of time last night responding to your remarks, thanking you for the nice Monergism.com link, and even providing several of my own links to further reinforce my point. But all that has been sucked down the Blogger memory hole, so screw it.

Suffice it to say that, if I understand your comments correctly, I disagree with nothing you wrote. And the Monergism.com link was near perfect, as if the author were summing up and expounding on my sentiment in his own words. Look for the heart of my argument especially between "[...] On the other hand, if they say they rest on Christ alone,..." and "[...] I will not count out the fact that such a person may be saved."

Thanks again, Matt, for your contribution; I believe you have helped to clarify and strengthen my hypothesis. Good stuff, my friend.

booker Z said...

None of you are regenerate. Only universalists will be saved.

zilch said...

None of you are regenerate. Only Hindus/Muslims/Druids will be saved.

C'mon guys, get a grip. The world is a much bigger place than you imagine.

cheers from icy Vienna, zilch

Rhology said...

Only ___ will be saved.

Careful about feeding the troll, y'all.

aztexan said...

And my post is back! "Pee-tee-ell," as they used to say.

Quoth Rho: Only ___ will be saved.

Careful about feeding the troll, y'all.


No ess. Apparently facetiousness doesn't exist in the "real world" (which, strangely, is alleged to include Austria, of all places). So don't blame Zilch for not getting the irony -- he's one of those enlightened Realitybergers, keepin' it "real" while chillin' on Trueplatz, right off of Factstrasse. ;-P

Rhology said...

And my post is back!

Yeah, I cleared that stupid Blogger spam filter. It's gotten sort of bad.

zilch said...

Ooo, there are some real smart people here- I guess I'd better crawl back in my hole. Have fun deciding who'll end up in Hell!

cheers from snowy Vienna, zilch

zilch said...

Btw- I don't think I've had the pleasure of making your acquaintance before, aztexan. Allow me to extend an invitation to lunch, if you're ever in my area, or I in yours. I've never been to Arizona, or Texas for that matter, but there's often a first time.

cheers from snowy Vienna, zilch

aztexan said...

Pleased to meet you, Zilch. Should we ever find ourselves in sufficiently close proximity for drinks and/or lunch, t'would be grand.