Friday, April 30, 2010

No Food or Water for 70 Years / Only the Eucharistic Host for Decades

That's the claim that the man described in this article (link to article) makes. Of course, it's false. What is interesting, though, is that his claims are being taken seriously and investigated.

Roman Catholic priest, Dwight Longenecker, pointed out an interesting coincidence, namely that he noticed a related article on the feast day of Catherine of Sienna, a woman who is allegedly a saint within the Roman Catholic pantheon of saints (link to article).

Longenecker notes that Catherine of Sienna is alleged to have lived for decades on nothing except the Eucharistic host. There are many parallels between Indian mystical claims and those associated with ascetic sects and branches. As Longenecker points out: "He's a sadhu-- a Hindu holy man. The sadhus are well known for their extreme asceticism and amazing supernatural powers--levitation, painless body piercings, being impervious to extreme cold, fire walking etc."

Asceticism, whether it be Hindu or Roman Catholic, is a surprisingly attractive error. The good things that God has given are to be received with thanks by believers, not treated with contempt. The alleged miracles of ascetics, however persuasive they may seem, are no match for the teachings of Scripture. Even if it could be demonstrated that this sadhu is honestly not consuming food or water, we will simply pity the man for his intentional self-abuse.

-TurretinFan

61 comments:

John Bugay said...

Hi TFan -- I think your comment about asceticism being a "surprisingly attractive error" is very appropriate. Whether it's the ooh's and aah's we've heard over John Paul's self-flagellation, or stories like this one, it always comes back to the human desire to save oneself by one's own efforts. To give God some help along the way. And in the process, of course, to endear God to ourselves, to put him into our debt, and to enjoy the warm "attaboy," the nice pat on the head that we get from momma Church.

Jim said...

>Asceticism, whether it be Hindu or
>Roman Catholic, is a surprisingly
>attractive error.

Speak for yourself! :-)

John Bugay said...

Well, it's surprisingly attractive to a whole lot of people...

Turretinfan said...

LOL Jim. It is surprising to me ... I think it is surprising to lots of folks, though.

John Bugay said...

Hi Alexander.

Re. the the human desire to save oneself by one's own efforts... that's not something that Trent defined. But the Roman system does encourage the notion that we ought to "increase" our own justification:

CHAPTER X.
On the increase of Justification received.

Having, therefore, been thus justified, and made the friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day; that is, by mortifying the members of their own flesh, and by presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified, as it is written; He that is just, let him be justified still; and again, Be not afraid to be justified even to death; and also, Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. And this increase of justification holy Church begs, when she prays, "Give unto us, O Lord, increase of faith, hope, and charity."

John Bugay said...

Oh, hey, where did he go?

louis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Turretinfan said...

I deleted Alexander's comments. He needs to tone it down here, if he wants to participate, and he's aware of that.

louis said...

TF,

Why not let these guys show their true character?

Turretinfan said...

They do enough of that at their own blogs. If they want to discuss the issues in a reasonably courteous way, they are free to do so. They don't have to agree, they just have to be civil.

Alexander said...

First of all, I see that Turretinfan is keeping his unstated vow to allow snide, snarky commentary to be used in opposition to those he opposes. As I am pointing out by exposing your double standard, it is apparent that I am not alone in needing to "tone it down." Just because you, Louis, and John oppose our theology, there is no need in being disrespectful. To ignore John's slight in courtesy towards us (ooh's and aah's we've heard over John Paul's self-flagellation...enjoy the warm "attaboy," the nice pat on the head that we get from momma Church.) is indicative of a double standard and is in fact an increase in insult. I don't see why it is so difficult for you people to say, "You know what, we probably should not talk like that, it is disrespectful. We can engage the topic more respectfully."


Thank you John for avoiding that sort of rhetoric in your response. This I can deal with.

Re. the the human desire to save oneself by one's own efforts... that's not something that Trent defined. But the Roman system does encourage the notion that we ought to "increase" our own justification:

Does Catholic theology distinguish between there being an "increase" in our "justification" (really those two terms are packed with meaning which must not be dismissed or overlooked), and something done out of one's own efforts, putting God in our debt?

One of the question that should be asked is, how does a person aquire virtue? From what are faith and good works derived?

One would think that considering the order of the canons, the fist canon must be of vital importance:

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

Turretinfan said...

"As I am pointing out by exposing your double standard,"

So we're clear, your allegations of double-standards aren't on topic, and aren't welcome here. I'll let your post above stand, per the requests of the others here.

John Bugay said...

Alexander, I'm sorry for the snarkiness; I'll make it a point to tone down my rhetoric.

As for Canon 1, there is no question that Rome sees the "beginning of justification" as through grace. (The definition of the word "grace" here, though, needs to be clarified, because we don't even agree on that.)

But beyond that, the works that are done -- "the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ.

But Biblically, our own works add nothing to the total and free imputation of Christ's perfect righteousness to us.


"Good works" are the effect of justification. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10)

These good works do not "increase our justification." They do not incur any kind of merit before God. This is the fruit of our justification, and they will be rewarded in the eschaton.

But to think that God gives us the power to do things that will increase our stature or merit or justification or anything at all in his presence, is just not Biblical.

Alexander said...

As for Canon 1, there is no question that Rome sees the "beginning of justification" as through grace.

Canon 1 does not mention “beginning” of justification. It mentions that man cannot be justified by his own works before God absent the grace merited through Jesus Christ.

Here is the canon again:

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

Since Ephesians 2:10 does not automatically prove in any substantive way Christ’s imputation over and against the Catholic view, we will stick to deliberating the above for now.

Turretinfan said...

"Canon 1 does not mention “beginning” of justification. It mentions that man cannot be justified by his own works before God absent the grace merited through Jesus Christ. "

Uh ... the fact that it doesn't mention that word is totally irrelevant. Red herring.

Alexander said...

Turretinfan, if man cannot be justified by his own works, then that applies towards the beginning, middle, and end. You can't read into the Canon what you will, nor can your interpretation be supported by the text. Pointing this out is not a red herring. It is up to you to show us where Trent teaches that the grace of God only applies to the beginning of justification. Otherwise, you are just asking us to take your interpretation on good faith without regard to the text.

Turretinfan said...

"Turretinfan, if man cannot be justified by his own works, then that applies towards the beginning, middle, and end."

You've omitted the crucial "without the grace of God." Was that a knowing omission or an unintentional omission. It makes all the difference.

"It is up to you to show us where Trent teaches that the grace of God only applies to the beginning of justification."

a) That also is not the claim.

b) I don't feel compelled to prove to you the real claim, namely that initial justification is attributed to grace. Since you don't deny.

-TurretinFan

John Bugay said...

The point is, and just using colloquial language, in Rome's system of justification, after the initial justification which (it says) comes in baptism (which is by grace), then, you are on your own. Grace is available to help you, but "you gotta do your own part" to keep yourself justified: through reliance on the sacraments, mostly. "The commandments of the Church". And in the process of completing these good works, God is kind of in your debt; if you do the work, he's gotta pay up.

natamllc said...

The agony here is this about that. Unless, for some fortunate reason, know only to God, by decree, you or I were not born as John the Baptist or one whose birth was prophesied to come along later, Josiah, all of us, who have been regenerated, can relate to this "surprisingly attractive error", which I believe to be inherit in us by original sin. We have a flesh. We are urged on to such things by our own pride and lust for approval.

I sympathize with this sort of error as I know I was delivered and I am being delivered still from such temptations to sensationalize my own importance among men.

Because the temptation to one up you is severe within my own flesh at times, I, like the Apostle Paul, exclaim:

Rom 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?


Our only hope even still is:

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
Rom 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Rom 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
Rom 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Anyway, that's my story and I am stickin' to it! :)

Alexander said...

All of justification is attributed to grace. That is the point of the Canon.

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

You are not on your own. God is not in your debt. The grace of God through Jesus Christ applies to the very end, and not simply at the beginning of justification.

Alexander said...

"you gotta do your own part" to keep yourself justified

Please expound upon this comment. Properly speaking Catholics do not keep themselves justified. This comment violates Canon 1.

louis said...

"If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works... without the grace of God... let him be anathema."

It's your works, with the aid of God's grace, that keep you justified. Can we agree on that much... so far?

Alexander said...

If the works are entirely dependent upon God's grace, as the Canon says, do you really expect me to agree with the implications of your unqualified statement Louis?

I agree to the extent that our works are ours as much as faith is ours. Keep in mind that the Catholic believes that without grace we cannot even have faith.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

However, continuing in our justified state is all by grace and we are not "on our own." It is not a simple matter of grace being available to help us. If grace is absent we cannot persevere:

CANON XXII.-If any one saith, that the justified, either is able to persevere, without the special help of God, in the justice received; or that, with that help, he is not able; let him be anathema.

Alexander said...

To make it clear Louis, explain and develop more what you mean by "your works." I've taken part in way too many conversations with non-Catholics who somehow begin with slight concessions towards admiting the necessity of grace in order to do good works when discussing Catholicism, but they seem to loose sight of it in the end.

louis said...

"If the works are entirely dependent upon God's grace, as the Canon says, do you really expect me to agree with the implications of your unqualified statement Louis?"

So you agree then, so far, that it is our works in cooperation with God's grace, that make us justified?

We can work out the exact nature of that cooperation -- "entirely dependent" or whatever -- later. But for now you agree that it is works plus grace that justify in Romanist theology?

Alexander said...

You use the word "your" which implies some sort of possession. If God graciously gives us the grace to do good works, and if it is only due and through His Divine grace that the works done are good, then in what sense could I claim possession of them? I think that this is the point we need to agree upon.

Alexander said...

But for now you agree that it is works plus grace that justify in Romanist theology?


No, I do not agree that it is works plus grace. You have missed the point of the Canons.

louis said...

For now I'm just working off the text of Trent. They are the ones who say "a man... by his own works" (Canon I). I don't see "your" as implying any more possession than "his own".

louis said...

We can work out the relationship between works and grace later. For now, we should at least be able to agree that grace and a man's "own works" are operative in justification, according to Trent. Correct?

Alexander said...

Louis, you are missing the point. The use of the term "your" is not at issue. Any misgivings in improper connotations towards the use of the term is what is at issue. The term is refering to some sort of possession. The sort of possession being described is the issue at hand. If we can't come to a proper understanding of this point in Catholic doctrine, then there is no need to deliberate any further or we will be talking past each other. Actually, we should go back to the discussion of "grace" itself, as John rightly pointed out.

Alexander said...

The relationship between grace and works is the issue at hand. Without the proper understanding of it, we can't even begin to identify what works are, much less are we to understand the proper possessional relationship of works.

louis said...

"The relationship between grace and works is the issue at hand."

Correct. But before we can discuss the nature of that relationship, we have to agree that both grace and works play their part in justification in your theology.

Sorry if I misunderstood, but I thought you were disputing that point.

Jim said...

Alexander,

That's cool. So the Reformation was just one big misunderstanding.

Trent Session 6 ch 5:
"the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to AND CO-OPERATING WITH that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight.

There's two issues here. It is clearly not by "grace alone" in your case.

You're hung up on "your works." OK - then it's God's favor on us, plus "things you do." What is the point of "prevenient?"

Funny how many times the scripture says that if it's by God's favor then it can't have anything at all to do with what we do.

Also, whence "merit?" " ...absent the grace merited through Jesus Christ ..."

"... grace merited ..."

The fact that you could use that phrase (regardless of Who we're talking about) seems like there's a disconnect somewhere.

Alexander said...

What I am disputing is what appears to me your use of the conjunction "and" as if works used in this particular Catholic sense have can be distinguished in any meaningful way apart from grace so that grace could be considered an addition. In other words, could works stand alone here? No they cannot.

Jim said...

... also, a couple of days ago I posted a dialog with my kid about the RC view of merit.

http://jiminger.com/blog/?p=312

You're welcome to criticize.

John Bugay said...

It's necessary to define what is meant by "grace," but it is also necessary to define what is meant by "works". As was alluded to above, it's not only the "Commandments of God" that are in view, but "the Commandments of the Church."

These are expressed now as "the precepts of the church":

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c3a3.htm#II

2042 The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.

The second precept ("You shall confess your sins at least once a year") ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness.

The third precept ("You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season") guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.

2043 The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.

The fifth precept ("You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church") means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.


This version of the CCC suggests that they are "the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort." An earlier version of the CCC calls them "indispensable minimums." These are the minimum "things you have to do," and not to do them is to fall into mortal sin. And if you die in mortal sin, the Catholic version of "justification" no longer benefits you.

For example, to miss Mass on a Sunday or "Holy day of obligation" is to commit a mortal sin.

You absolutely must keep up with these "works", or you must get a dispensation. In my day, not doing these things was a mortal sin.

You do gotta do your part.

Alexander said...

That's cool. So the Reformation was just one big misunderstanding.

No, it was one big act of disobedience against the Gospel.

"the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called

God's grace begins everything pertaining to justification. So what's your point again???

that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace,

Grace again...just sayin

to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to AND CO-OPERATING WITH that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight.

So in your view co-operating must mean good works, and those works are alone? Where is that supported in the text?

Alexander said...

You do gotta do your part.

Yet the point is that you have to show where the Church teaches that this is absent God's grace.

Alexander said...

Gotta go...

louis said...

"In other words, could works stand alone here? No they cannot."

I agree that's what Trent says. Grace is necessary. Now, will you agree that works are also necessary?

Jim said...

Alexander,

You said: "Canon 1 does not mention “beginning” of justification."

and then: "God's grace begins everything pertaining to justification. So what's your point again???"

Deep breath my friend.

My point was, Ses 6, ch 5 DOES say it's the "beginning." And then we CO-OPERATE with it.

Commenting on Trent's statement "... His quickening and assisting grace, ..."

you said "Grace again...just sayin"

It doesn't say simply "grace." It says "quickening" (preveinent/beginning) and "assisting" grace ... just sayin'

>So in your view co-operating
>must mean good works,

I'll let you clarify if I misunderstand.

>and those works are alone? Where is
>that supported in the text?

I never said they were alone. The point is - the grace is not.

Turretinfan said...

"Yet the point is that you have to show where the Church teaches that this is absent God's grace. "

This is the same red herring I pointed out earlier.

natamllc said...

Alex,

I believe John is onto something here?

Would you concisely define "good works" as the RCC defines them?

Would you agree with that definition?

In hopes you will, I will further post a verse I would consider useful to understanding the dividing line between the "two" good works, the defined good works of the RCC with all the qualifications you want to build upon them and the definition of "good works" Reformational thinkers define them to be, taking the lead from the Apostle Paul's understanding, written about here:

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Turretinfan said...

"No, it was one big act of disobedience against the Gospel."

It is interesting that the Roman Pontiff becomes de facto "the Gospel" for those involved in Romanism.

-TurretinFan

John Bugay said...

I wonder if Alexander would tell us what the Catholic version of "the Gospel" is, according to official documents, so that at least we're understanding that correctly.

Turretinfan said...

"What I am disputing is what appears to me your use of the conjunction "and" as if works used in this particular Catholic sense have can be distinguished in any meaningful way apart from grace so that grace could be considered an addition. In other words, could works stand alone here? No they cannot."

The criticism isn't that Rome teaches that men are saved by works alone. Hence, the line of argument looks like the red herring that I've called it a few times.

natamllc said...

I hope this doesn't offend; if it does, please acknowledge and I will retract and ask for your indulgence to forgive me of my foolishness?

TF,

it may be the use of color that is problematic? Maybe a green herring works better? :)

But now that I think about it, when on the Pacific ocean fishing with my Dad, we did see both greenish looking and reddish looking herring harrying about as the grey whales were a hungered from such a swim south! :)

But, notice, Alex had to go.

Yes, I agree, John, it might be wiser to have Alex lay out the complete definition of the "Good News", the Gospel as he understands it.

I don't know if your use of Eph. 2:10 was the same as mine? I will state it clearly now even though Alex hasn't as yet defined the RCC's or his concurrence to the definition of "Good Works".

My position is this. When Paul writes this way:

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

he intends that we understand that the resulting position before God at the point of redemption "is" the "good work" and by Grace through Faith, when we are divided from the world we were redeemed out of, that is the "good work" of God.

Without God's decree, we would not experience "regeneration" by the powerful working of the Holy Spirit because of the powerful "good work" accomplished, foreordained and predetermined, of Jesus Christ being crucified, experienced physical death and buried. Of course we hold to the Eternal Truth that Jesus Christ "is" the Resurrection and the Life. Just ask those who had to die twice about that?

Being saved is the "good work". It is the Work and Will of God, not of man lest anyone should claim, as we see some claim in here, that their good works are based on the Grace of God and without the Grace of God there would not proceed from them any good work/s.

Anyway, herrings in the water appear greenish too! :)

I suppose if you hold to a great whale swallowed Jonah, he might tell us what a herring looks like in the belly of that great fish? Hah!

I love it when I get to correct you TF! It's rare that I do and usually it's some dumb typo, grrrr!

Matthew Bellisario said...

Faith and supernatural works are never separated. Works done apart from faith are not supernatural works and are not done in God's grace. Works done in faith receive the gift of grace which elevates them above works of the "Law." They become works of love or what is commonly known as works of charity. I do not see what is so hard to understand about that.

Turretinfan said...

"Faith and supernatural works are never separated."

How did the Magicians of Egypt duplicate Moses' first few miracles?

"Works done apart from faith are not supernatural works and are not done in God's grace."

Are you denying that the devil has the power to perform the supernatural?

"Works done in faith receive the gift of grace which elevates them above works of the 'Law.'"

That isn't an accurate picture either of the Scriptural view of grace or of the Roman view of grace.

"They become works of love or what is commonly known as works of charity."

Works of love/charity are those that arise from love/charity in the heart (with some additional caveats that we don't need to go into right now).

"I do not see what is so hard to understand about that. "

I'm not even sure which of the many comments your words are aimed at.

-TurretinFan

Viisaus said...

"You absolutely must keep up with these "works", or you must get a dispensation. In my day, not doing these things was a mortal sin."

So Mr. Bugay, are you old enough to remember pre-Vatican II times? :)

I mean, those glorious days of unfiltered Romanist Pharisaism.

John Bugay said...

Hi Viisaus, I just turned 50 this year. I was born in 1960, and some of my earliest recollections are Latin Masses, which I did not understand. Some of my most vivid recollections growing up, however, involved a kindly old Pre-Vatican II priest trying to explain all of the many changes in his homilies.

I love virtually everything you say, by the way. I just never feel able to improve on it, so I rarely comment. But I appreciate the dimension that you bring to these discussions.

John Bugay said...

He would like to say, for example, that it would take approximately seven or eight minutes for the consecrated host to dissolve in our stomachs, and the closing benediction never lasted that long, and so we had an extra-special reason to be kind to people as we raced to get out of the parking lot after Mass.

John Bugay said...

Hi Natamllc, I wanted to answer your question about Ephesians 2:10:

I've used that verse as part of my "profile" for as long as I've been participating in internet discussions:

http://www.blogger.com/profile/17728044301053738095

"We are His workmanship," His poiema, His "poetry." If you've ever studied poetry, or struggled to write a poem, you understand the care God takes to "work all things together for good" in our lives. For this reason, and many others, I believe in the Sovereignty of God. I have seen His hand working in my life, and I submit myself to His merciful will, with all my being. I love Christ's church, and I hate what some of the big players have done to it. I'm in learning mode and I very much appreciate the Reformed blogs that seem to be cropping up.

Hoehner, in his commentary on Ephesians, says that the word "poiema" is also used in classical times for "the work of a craftsman, such as the making of a crown." It is "God's new creation." His works are perfect. Therefore, each Christian has a kind of perfection. Each is "predestined ... called ... justified ... glorified..." all in the past tense.

The works which are prepared for us to walk in are named by a different word than what is used for God's works, "ergon," in Eph 2:9. These works, he says:

God prepared these good works before the believer was created in Christ Jesus, most likely as a part of his plan in eternity past. This corresponds with 1:4 where it states that God "chose us in him before the foundation of the world in order that we might be holy and blameless before him in love." Hence, God not only chose his own before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame, but he also prepared beforehand good works for them. But what good works did God prepare beforehand? It is the good works or conduct given in chapters 4-6, that proceed from salvation. Before coming to faith, human beings exist in the sphere of bad works and were the objects of God's wrath. When they come to faith they are not left in a vacuum of no activity, but they have in this new creation works already prepared by God in eternity past... This is grace from beginning to end.

God's role in human salvation, together with the fact that these works were "prepared beforehand" for us, mean that these are a part of the perfection that He created, when He created us, in Him, before the foundation of the world.

"Works are an evidence of salvation -- God's working in the believer his prepared works." God gives the salvation, God prepares the works, and He works the works in us. In the light of this, it is impossible to think that Trent's portrayal of this has any basis in the Scriptures:

through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified...

God’s justice is perfect when given. To say that one can “increase” it is to really suggest that it wasn’t perfect in the first place.
In Matt 5, Jesus says, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." It is this perfection that He gives to us. "Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" No one can. That's the point. We can't, by "co-operating" or by any other means, add one thing to the justification that God first gave to us in Christ.

We are "His workmanship." He perfects us, as the craftsman is said to create the perfect crown. We don't add anything to that perfection. The works that we do are merely a part of the perfect work that He has already done.

Andrew said...

Everyone,

I have read all the comments thus far and we seem to be going in a circle. I would like to add something if I may. If my comment is helpful, then good. If it is not, please ignore it. Anyway.....
My Protestant brothers are insisting that the RCC teaches that works are necessary for salvation and therefore it is a system of merit wherein God pays the sinner what he is owed. Alexander keeps insisting that grace is absolutely necessary and therefore the works are not a way of earning salvation. No one has brought this up yet, so I will ask a question and step aside and let those who know more than I deal with my question (or not if they don't see fit) as they please. Isn't the real issue the total sufficiency of grace over against there mere necessity of grace? That is all. If I have missed something then I welcome any correction.

John Bugay said...

Isn't the real issue the total sufficiency of grace over against there mere necessity of grace?

Andrew, there is a bit more to it.

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about "merit" and how it relates to "good works":

2006 The term "merit" refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of justice, in conformity with the principle of equality which governs it.

2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life." The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God's gifts."



The real Turretin, vol 2, pg 711 says, "no one denies that the good works of the believer are worthy of praise."

Where we have issue with the Roman Catholic Church is that, not only are good works "worthy of praise." But, they earn actual merit before God for those who do them.

But what happens to this "merit" before God? Not only does this merit "increase our justification," as Trent says. But, if the Catholic does enough good works, these accomplish two things: They pay (in some way) for "the temporal punishment" of sin. In the sacrament of confession, or penance, or reconciliation, God forgives the guilt of sin. But the “temporal punishment” for sin remains to be borne by the sinner. This is where the whole notion of “indulgences” comes into view.

Continued next post.

John Bugay said...

If you're really "good enough," your excess of "good works" flow into the Church's "Treasury of Merit," a repository of Merit which the pope has access to, and from which he grants "indulgences."

Here's the section in the CCC:
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm#X

1471 The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.

"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."

"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin." The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.

1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the "eternal punishment" of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the "temporal punishment" of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.

1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the "old man" and to put on the "new man."

1474 The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God's grace is not alone. "The life of each of God's children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person."


Continued

John Bugay said...

1475 In the communion of saints, "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things." In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.

1476 We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church's treasury, which is … is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ's merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy."

1477 "This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body."


Sorry this has been so long. But when Catholics argue that “our good works are the gift of God,” they frequently fail to say just why it’s necessary that they have merit. They have merit because they are the currency for this whole back-end economy of purgatory and indulgences.

If you allow that Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice earned justification, -- if you allow that Christ’s righteousness is freely imputed to the believer, it eliminates the need for this whole back-end economy, and it eliminates the need for the whole “sacramental” structure that Rome, through “Tradition,” has established.

As I’ve cited at my blog, Catholics must continue to defend the notion of “merit” being earned and stored, because it facilitates this whole back-end economy, not one bit of which is Biblical.

"The Reformers' forensic understanding of justification ... the idea of an immediate divine imputation [of righteousness] renders superfluous the entire Catholic system of the priestly mediation of grace by the Church." (Bruce McCormack, What's at Stake in the Current Debates over Justification, from Husbands and Treier's Justification, pg 82.)

This “superfluous” back end system of “mediation by grace of the church” is what Luther argued against. It is why “the church stands or falls” on justification. If we can say, “this system is not necessary,” then we can say, “Rome is not necessary. “ But if we allow legitimacy to this back end system, then Rome’s choke-hold on “the free grace of God” continues.

This is what’s at stake in the whole Roman Catholic system.

Turretinfan said...

Andrew asked: "Isn't the real issue the total sufficiency of grace over against there mere necessity of grace? That is all. If I have missed something then I welcome any correction."

Yes. As I've set several times, Alexander has tried to divert the conversation elsewhere, but that is the primary issue.

Lvka said...

There are many examples of ascetics (desert fathers) who lived only on the Eucharist -- it's not rare.

Turretinfan said...

The allegations are not rare.

natamllc said...

John B,

very good!

When you write in your last post:

"....It is why “the church stands or falls” on justification....".

I would make a distinction as is made by the Apostle in Romans 5 and the translations that use the "English" Word "justification" in verses 16 and 18.

I believe once you get ahold of the nuance made in those two verses, you would drop that whole back end economy like a lead balloon!

Here's the three verses together. Then I will make the distinctions with the Greek definitions following:

Rom 5:16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

The Greek word in verse 16, translated "justification" is: δικαίωμα
dikaiōma
dik-ah'-yo-mah
From G1344; an equitable deed; by implication a statute or decision: - judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness.

Notice "someone" is "doing" something!

The Greek word in verse 18, translated "justification" is: δικαίωσις
dikaiōsis
dik-ah'-yo-sis
From G1344; acquittal (for Christ’s sake): - justification.

What are the "justified" left doing?

Nothing but receiving the "abundance of Grace and the gift of Righteousness" and by so accepting such a sentence, "acquitted", one is left to enjoy God and His Blessings forever, notwithstanding we war not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of spiritual wickedness! To which, with Christ, I hold to this idea:

Joh 12:27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
Joh 12:28 Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
Joh 12:29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
Joh 12:30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine.
Joh 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
Joh 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."