It seems that just about every week a new book comes out on the subject of how we are getting the Gospel wrong. I am getting tired of it. Once I read a book and adjust my thinking to getting the Gospel right, I find out in the next book I read that I got it wrong again! Is the Gospel that difficult? Does every generation get the Gospel wrong, thus requiring the next enlightened generation to get them back on course?

Last week, I wrote a post about whether or not Roman Catholics are saved. I chose this topic because, within the past couple of weeks, I had been asked this question (or some variation of it) four times. It is an important question, which caused quite a conversation. I had to close the comments down on this blog topic within 24 hours of posting it!  The reason for closing the comments was not so much the belligerence of Roman Catholics who did not agree with what I had written, but because of some very (ahem…) committed Protestants who were being less than gracious. James White did a thoughtful Dividing Line broadcast, where he strongly disagreed with me. Over the last week, the most common objection I received about what I had written was that I had been asking the wrong question. What is the right question? Well, the consensus seemed to be this: “Does the Roman Catholic Church have the right Gospel?”, not, “are Roman Catholics Saved?” There are myriad ways I could have phrased it:

“Are Roman Catholics saved?”

“Can Roman Catholics be saved?”

“Does the Roman Catholic Gospel save?”

“Does Roman Catholicism have the right Gospel?”

All of these require a slight variation in response. Most of my Protestant friends are more than willing to admit that Catholics could be saved, and that some are saved. However, they are quick to point out that “Rome’s Gospel does not save.” Of course, in order to make such a comment, the assumption is that we already have the “right” Gospel, which begs the question: “How much of the Gospel do we have to get right?” Another way to put it: “How much of the Gospel can we get wrong and still have the right Gospel?”

Head hurt? Mine too. But stay with me.

The Gospel is simply the “good news” of God. However, there is so much to it. We can boil the Gospel down to its basic essentials, or we can expand it to include all of its implications and benefits. If we take the former, then it is absolutely necessary to have the right Gospel. However, if we take the latter, how can we ever expect to have the “right” Gospel? I don’t have everything right. I don’t necessarily know what I have wrong, but I like to think that I am open to change, and am willing to nuance my views as I learn. In other words, “Do we have the right Gospel?” is not as black and white an issue as we may be inclined to assume. There is so much of the Gospel in which all of us can improve our understanding.  In other words, I think we could all have a “righter” Gospel today than we did yesterday.

Paul speaks of the Gospel in two ways. His letter to the Romans, the entire book, is the Gospel (Rom. 1:15-17). Romans 1:17 makes it clear that, in this context, the vindication of God’s righteousness (which is, I believe, the essence of chapters 1-11) is part of the Gospel message. Here, sin (Rom. 3:23), justification by faith alone (Rom. 3:21), imputation of sin (Rom. 5:18), imputation of righteousness (Rom. 4:1-5; Rom. 5:18), the vindication of creation (Rom. 8:16), the freedom from bondage (Rom. 7), the power of the Spirit (Rom. 8), the security of the believer in Christ (Rom. 8:28-39), and, I believe, the eternal elective decree of salvation which vindicates God’s faithfulness (Rom. 9-11) are all part of the Gospel message. However, in 1 Cor. 15:1-8, Paul seems to suggest that there are issues within the Gospel that are of “first importance.” These issues surround Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Was Paul saying that these were the only issues which were of “first importance”? Here, he does not mention (much less emphasize) faith, grace, imputation, Christ’s humanity and deity, or Christ second coming. All of these, we would say, are integral parts of the “good news.”  All of us would say that getting the Gospel “right” needs to include these things.

We could also do a study based on the sermons in Acts. I count thirteen evangelistic sermons in Acts (meaning they were speeches given to those who were unbelievers). Most likely, Luke summarized these sermons, frequently giving just the essence of what the Apostle taught (Acts 9:20; Acts 10:42; Acts 20:21).  Therefore, it is difficult to make too many theological conclusions, or even draw out a definite kyrugma (essential preaching).  Similarly, these sermons were highly contextualized, often being given exclusively to Jews, Gentiles, philosophers, or kings. For example, I can only identify one place where freedom from the law is explicitly mentioned (Acts 13:39).  In a similar sense, I don’t find substitutionary atonement explicitly mentioned in any sermons recorded in Acts. In addition, it is interesting that the deity of Christ, in the strictest sense of the term, is mentioned on just one occasion (Acts 9:20). In all but two sermons, I find the subject of the death and resurrection of Christ addressed. In about half of the sermons, I find repentance and forgiveness being part of the focus. And in many messages (especially to the Jews), Christ’s messiahship (kingship) is mentioned. It is of further interest to note what aspects of the Gospel are included, but it is just as interesting to see which are left out.

What does all of this mean? How do we know when we have the right Gospel? Are we supposed to find the least common denominator and then focus exclusively on that? Or are we supposed to see letters, like Romans, as the most developed and comprehensive of all, and use them as models?

When we ask questions like, “Does Rome have the right Gospel?”, I am not sure what is being implied. “Do they have a right enough Gospel?” Right enough for what? Normally, we mean “right enough to save.” Which aspects of the Gospel are we questioning? Are we getting the essence of the Gospel from Acts? If so, then yes, Catholics seem to be OK.  Are we getting it from Paul in Romans? If so, I would say comme si, comme ca. However, if that is the case, one could just as easily assert that Arminians receive the wrong Gospel, since they fail to see (generally speaking) the “good news”  of security and/or the “good news” of sovereign election. Furthermore, is a Gospel that does not support the doctrine of the security of the believer really a Gospel at all? Well, yes and no. It could be “more right”. It could be “better news.”  Finally, to those who deny these aspects of the Gospel (security and eternal election), using the standard above, one could call upon them to experience a “righter” Gospel.

When it comes to the Gospel, I believe Calvinist Evangelical Protestants have the “rightest” points of view, but I think there are certain aspects of the Gospel we can overemphasize to such a degree that we lose focus on more central components.  Moreover, I think we can also lose sight of important (not central) components that other traditions are more faithful to preserve. For example, I believe that substitutionary atonement is the essence of the “for” in Christ, who gave himself up “for me” (Gal. 2:20) as payment for sin. Protestants and Catholics do well to see this doctrine, while the Eastern Orthodox church outright deny this substitutionary aspect of the Gospel in particular.  Do they have the wrong Gospel? In one sense, yes. However, in another sense, I think they have a “righter” Gospel in that they call upon people to see the “recapitulation” aspect of Christ’s life. Protestant and Catholics, in my opinion, are very deficient in understanding how Christ qualified to be our substitute. Therefore, Eastern Orthodox traditionally have “better news” with regard to the humanity of Christ.

What is the solution? Well, I don’t like the least common denominator approach, since it suggests that having the entire Gospel is not that important, i.e., only those things to which we can boil it all down (i.e. sin, messiahship, death, burial, resurrection, faith). The entire message is the Gospel. Therefore, “getting the Gospel wrong” is not an option. Yet, it has to be. Catholics miss grace and, in this sense, have a different Gospel. Their Gospel needs to be “righter”, and this causes serious concern.  Preterists, who deny Christ’s future coming, have a different Gospel. Their Gospel needs to be “righter” and their position should be considered serious. Universalists, who deny the reality of an eternal punishment, have a different Gospel. Their Gospel needs to be “righter” and its ramifications are similarly serious. Arminians, who deny sovereign election, have a different Gospel. Their Gospel needs to be “righter”, and it is (Are you getting my point?) serious. From a charismatic perspective, cessationists, who do not believe in the continuation of certain gifts of the Spirit, have a different Gospel. Maybe our Gospel needs to be “righter.” Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox all have different Gospels in some respects. All of these traditions emphasize different aspects of the Gospel and need to be anathematized in some ways.

So, “Does the Roman Catholic Gospel save?” is such a loaded question for me. People can antagonistically ask everyone all of these questions: “Does the Calvinist Gospel save?”  “Does the Arminian Gospel save?”  “Does the fundamentalist Gospel save?”  “Does the Church of Christ Gospel save?”  “Does the Eastern Orthodox Gospel save?” “Does the Universalist Gospel save?”  I don’t even know what the Roman Catholic Gospel is these days. It has quite a bit of dynamic progression throughout history. Is there one sentence you could write which would clearly articulate the essence of their Gospel? I doubt it. And if you did, the next Roman Catholic apologist would write it down differently. “Does Rome have the wrong Gospel?” Certain aspects of their doctrines are wrong, yes. However, in the real world, people are not asking these questions. They are asking something more specific. Concerning Calvinism, what one is really saying is, “Can one deny libertarian free will and be saved?” Concerning Arminianism, “Can one believe that salvation can be lost, yet still be saved?”  Concerning fundamentalism, “Can one who is a separationist be saved?” Concerning the Church of Christ, “Can one believe in baptismal regeneration and still be saved?” Concerning Eastern Orthodoxy, “Can one believe in deification and be saved?” Concerning Universalism (of the Christian variety), “Can one deny hell and be saved?” And concerning Roman Catholics, “Can one who believes that works contribute to their justification be saved?”  That is what people are really asking.

The broader question is always: “Can one have bad doctrine and be saved?”  All but the most ardent maximalists would say “yes.”  But where do we cross the line? And I don’t really like the false dichotomy which says, “doctrine does not save . . . God does.” That misses the point of the conversation, as it discredits the necessity of faith in God altogether. If faith is necessary in any sense, that faith must have content. And it is that very content on which this discussion centers. In other words, if faith is important, then content is, as well.

There is definitely a line that can be crossed. I can’t always tell you where that line is, exactly. I know that the center of the Gospel is the person and work of Christ. In addition, I would contend that one must accept who Christ is (the God-man), and what he did (died for our sins and rose from the grave).  Acceptance of these requires, I believe, the presence of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). I believe that it is a “wronger” Gospel when works are added as a factor to justification. I believe that Protestant Evangelicals have the “rightest” Gospel. I think that Evangelical Protestants have a better answer for the history of the church, the development of doctrine, and the systematic nature of canonical truth. That said, I also know that we can all have a “righter” Gospel. Indeed, one day we will all stand before God and see this “righter” Gospel more clearly. Does the Roman Catholic Gospel save? To the degree that the individual Catholic is trusting in the God-man who takes away the sins of the world, it can. All of us (Protestant and Catholic) can and should trust Christ more, but Catholics need to get the Gospel “righter” by abandoning their denial of justification by faith alone. Their application of the Gospel is not very good news.

Grace is incredibly mind blowing.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    224 replies to "Does the Roman Catholic Gospel Save? or “Getting the Gospel ‘Righter'”"

    • Jugulum


      I’m glad to see you address the issue through this lens–i.e. “Does the Roman Catholic Gospel save?”, as opposed to “Can Roman Catholics be saved?” Both are important, and I don’t see how any discussion of this subject can be complete without including both.

      And the issues that discussed in this post are important aspects of answering “Does the Roman Catholic Gospel save?”

      But I’m surprised that you didn’t delve into Galatians. It’s obvious on the face of it that Paul introduces the category of “another gospel” in connection with how people were relating Christianity and one kind of “works”. And I know this is not news to you–in the past I’ve heard you discuss the anathema in Galatians, specifically concerning Catholicism. And Galatians was a big part of Dr. White’s podcast response to you.

      I think your first post hinted at how you understand Galatians. Please, elaborate, and present your exegetical case.

    • Les

      Nice article. I’ve had a hard time understanding where these lines are. I have a tendency to throw the baby out with the water in most cases. As I’ve grown in faith and grown my belief I’ve had times where someone I read would become “anathema” to me and I’d abandon them. I’ve tried to back off that line, trying not to judge based on labels or even disagreements. I once put down “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis because he denied the depravity of man, which I found unacceptable. I do understand though that that is no reason for me to abandon everything Lewis brings to the theological/literary table.

      Thanks for the articles.
      God bless.

    • Damien

      Thanks again for taking a risk by putting posts like these out here. These questions need to be asked, if for anything, helping us all to be sharpened. At the end of the day, it’s not theological nuances we’ll be needing to wrestle with, but the real, messy, real-life situations in which we find ourselves, our responses to which will be informed by those theological nuances.

      It’s very easy to see a domino-effect on both sides. If one disqualifies all Roman Catholics from salvation because they believe works/sacraments contribute to justification, then, by consequence, one must disqualify Lutherans, Anglicans, Church of Christ. . . and the bulk of Christianity up to the Reformation. But if one says Roman Catholics can be justified even with an unbiblical and dangerous view of justification, then, it is argued, the floodgates are opened for all kinds of heresy.

      But I don’t think this issue can be dichotomized to simply, and I think the questions you ask above show why that’s not the case. Much of what you said is how I’ve come to see it; the biggest argument against our position, is indeed Galatians, and so I agree with the above comments – I’d love to see another post addressing whether or not Galatians can be applied to Roman Catholicism.

      My own thoughts – Galatians is about the law/gospel distinction and doesn’t even touch sacramentalism; however, by consequence, an expositor can make a case that all forms of legalism and superstition are dangerous based…

    • Manuel

      If you break it down like that it does get complicated, lol. Where do I fit? I don’t believe in Divine election however I do believe in eternal security. The way I see it Christ died for the sins of the whole world(everyone), however each one must accept God’s free gift of Eternal life. Whoever believes in Him and accepts Him will be born again(That’s if we really accept him) and will have a secure and eternal redemption because of God’s grace and not our own works. So the way I see it anyone can be saved even a Catholic, Mormon, etc. if they really believe and once they accept Jesus the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth and they will learn to leave behind that which doesn’t honor God and will grow in all areas of the complete Gospel which is the whole bible. That is my simple way of seeing it. lol

    • david carlson

      I want me some of the funamentalist Gospel. I have had enough of the fundamentalists and having me some fun would be very nice right now…..

      apparently it is not just emails for which you need a proofreader…..

    • Ryan

      Can a person deny that Salvation is by Grace Alone alone through Faith Alone In Christ Alone and still be considered a believer In the Gospel ? Paul said If anyone preaches to you another gospel contrary to what we have preached let him be anathema. Does a Gospel that adds works to Justification qualify as a gospel contrary to the one Paul preached ?

    • Greg.

      Ok..I will be the first to stand in the way of the grenade. Firstly, what is the gospel to me? Answer: believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. It’s that simple. BUT! that belief must be with the heart. That is the element that I feel you have not addressed in your ” catholic gospel can they be saved are they??” questions. I find myself asking the question always that people or rather ” born again Christians” who ask about the catholic gospel don’t , to me at least, seem to understand the catholic church and it’s doctrines. So let me tell you what they are.

      The roman Catholic gospel begins at birth: One is baptised into the catholic church as a baby and you are now part of the church.

      you then receive Christ for the first time at holy communion usually aged seven.

      You then receive the holy spirit through the laying on of hands by a bishop usually at age twelve. (whether you truly believe in Christ with all your heart or not. i would say for the majority if not all children I went to school and was confirmed alongside..I would say not!.

      It is then considered that your allegiance is to Rome and the Pope and his priests and bishops in matters of faith as they are the one true church. and don’t think for a moment that the Roman Catholic hirearchy see it as any other way.

      So you tell me…is that how one gets saved??

      To cement what I have said if you want to get a full understanding of the Roman Catholic Gospel go to a mass or an RC funeral…

    • bossmanham

      I believe Catholics would say their works contribute to their justification, but that they are saved by Christ. The Catholic Catechism says, “The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.” In other words, it is still of God’s doing, but it comes through the works.

      It’s wrong, but it doesn’t seem to me that they intend to say that we’re saved by our works. Rather it seems God continues to infuse more justifying grace due to the works.

    • Jugulum


      I have great hope:
      1.) That God protects people in the Catholic church from truly understanding the places where the worst problems lie in dogmatic Catholic theology.
      2.) That many Catholics interpret & articulate Catholic theology in a way that avoids actually denying the gospel.
      3.) That when they articulate the relationship between works and justification in a way that does actually deny the gospel, it does not reflect what they actually trust in.
      4.) That in their hearts and minds, what they are actually trusting in is solely what Christ for them. That they truly believe the gospel, even if they elsewhere say things inconsistent with it.
      5.) That when true members of the body of Christ articulate works & justification in a way that does deny the gospel, that God protects their listeners from stumbling.

      I have no idea how often it turns out that way, but I hope it happens frequently. I hope it happens more often than not. (And I know that to some degree, we all need God’s grace to protect us from problems & immaturities in our understanding & pursuit of Him.)

      You argued against the necessity of perfect doctrine in order to be saved–even doctrine about the gospel. I somewhat agree. And this is how I apply it. And this still allows people to agree that official Catholic doctrine denies the gospel, without sacrificing the concerns that you raised in this post.

    • C Michael Patton

      I would say that the most important thing is to interact with the contents of this post. That would go far in advancing the discussion.

    • Pete again

      Michael, another excellent post & “what ifs”, enjoyed reading it.

      A question that I would ask would be: for the first 1,500 years of Christianity, the Gospel of the Protestant Reformation hadn’t yet been created.

      Therefore, where do you think the souls of these millions of faithful, “pre-Reformation” Christians – many of them who were martyred for the Faith – are right now?

      Maybe attempting to answer that question will enlighten us as we discuss contemporary issues.

      Glory to God for all things

    • Jugulum


      I can’t tell if that’s a response to my first comment, to someone else’s, or to my second. Could you explicitly address that kind of comment to someone in particular?

      Assuming it’s a response to my first comment:

      Fair enough–you did discuss “different gospel” in the post. And I had actually forgotten that, when I started writing my comment. I apologize.

      But that doesn’t mean you delved into Galatians, and I wouldn’t change my first question much. I’ll explain why. If you think my question is still deficient due to not interacting with the contents of your post, please point out something specific.

      Paul uses language like “deserting him who called you”, and “a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you”, and “let him be accursed”, and “false brothers”, and “all who rely on works of the law are under a curse”, and “I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain”, and “You are severed from Christ”.

      At least at first glance, that gets into territory that your discussion of “different gospels” doesn’t. Paul seems to be raising a concern of false/contrary gospel, not just a version of the gospel that is somewhat different but still contains the core. And I can’t tell where your post acknowledges that possibility about Roman Catholic teaching.

      I agree with & appreciate much of your post, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask you to delve into Galatians. It is, arguably, biblical data that brings…

    • Jugulum

      Odd… The end got cut off, even though I was under the character limit.

      That was supposed to be “It is, arguably, biblical data that brings faith & works into the core of the gospel.”

    • Shane Dodson

      “Of course, in order to make such a comment, the assumption is that we do have the “right” Gospel.”

      The Bible contains the “right” Gospel. If Rome doesn’t hold to the Gospel as contained in the Scriptures, then she doesn’t possess the “right” Gospel.

      What am I missing here?

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • Shane Dodson

      Did the Judiazers have the “right” Gospel?

      What it antagonistic of Paul to tell those Galatians who embraced circumcision that they were “severed from Christ?”

      Maybe Paul should have told them…”well, you ‘got it right’ who God is, who Jesus is, and you believe that He died and was resurrected…so hey, that’s right enough!”

      Or were those who held to the insufficiency of grace REALLY severed from Christ, as Paul said?

      Shouldn’t we take the sufficiency of grace as seriously as the Apostle Paul did?

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • Irene

      In all good humor, I just have to say that this reminds me of a couple of teenagers talking about how their parents don’t know anything about dating, boys, or what leads to a happy life. 

    • Shane Dodson

      How so, Irene?

    • The essence of the Gospel will always be in the very “face” of Christ Himself: “For God who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6) And so, the Incarnation and the Incarnate One are the very substance and the revelation of the fulness of God, leading to salvation.. and the life of the triune God, itself…”for through Him we both (Jew & Gentile) have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph. 2:18) Certainly, we will come to doctrinal and dogmatic understanding as we grow ‘In Christ’, but only Christ Jesus Himself, is the Salvation of God itself, as HE is too the “Elect” of God, and the Head of His Elect & redemptive Body! And we all should be able to say Amen here…Protestant, Catholic & Orthodox! As Matt. 1:21, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus (Savior), for He will save His people from their sins.” Incarnation, Covenant, Redemption & Salvation are all connected…’In Christ’!

    • Irene

      Oh, I just mean that kind of like teenagers think their parents know next to nothing, about them or the world, Protestants question whether the “Catholic Gospel” is even salvific.  It’s just ironic to question the authenticity of the tree that you (general) yourself grew from. 

    • And the so-called Reformational and Reformed doctrine reach back into this very essence of Christ Jesus Himself, Incarnate, and in Himself too the Salvation History of God, (Gen. 3:15).

    • We Protestant, Reformational and Reformed Christians don’t doubt the “Catholic Gospel” being “salvific”, as it is the Saving Gospel itself! But we doubt that Rome and the Roman Church have always given the fulness of that Gospel! As in fact, the whole historical church is always but a Pilgrim church, Protestant, R. Catholic, & the Orthodox!

    • Carrie

      If all this is in fact the case, then the Reformation was not necessary, as it reduces the actions of the Reformers to that of holding differing opinions from Rome. Just a difference of opinion and nothing more. They just felt Rome had a less accurate understanding of the Gospel, right?

      Of course if you read the Reformers, and what they had to say of Rome and her minutemen, you will find their collective view to be a little more than a difference of opinion.

      Of course the Reformers are not our ultimate authority. Scripture is. So ultimately I punt to Paul and let him do the dirty work then let the ecumenical chips fall where they may.

    • Irene

      “Can the Roman Catholic Gospel save?” is definitely a better, more precise question than “Are Roman Catholics saved?”. But I’d like to share a different question –same issue, maybe a truer perspective. 

      Are Catholics in a covenantal relationship with God?

      Because, after all is said and done, it’s not so much the *knowing* as it is the *being*, right?
      Catholics would believe that a newly baptized baby has no intellectual knowledge of what just happened, but has received grace and is now in a covenantal relationship with God.  So not _knowing_ as a qualifier for salvation, but rather _being_. 

    • Ken Siulva

      “Reformed Christians don’t doubt the “Catholic Gospel” being “salvific”, as it is the Saving Gospel itself! But we doubt that Rome and the Roman Church have always given the fulness of that Gospel!”

      Apparently you’re not familiar with the actual Protestant Reformation. I am a former Roman Catholic whom God graciously led away from its false gospel and saved me.

      If Jesus felt the RCC had a salvific gospel, He wouldn’t have had me convert. God hates the Roman Catholic Church because it is, as John MacArthur has rightly stated:

      “Satan’s best front for the Kingdom of God.”

    • Indeed, Baptism is a “covenantal” act, itself. But, it is always a ‘sign and seal’ of that work of God Himself. Only in the eschatological end will we see, as in Matt. 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” This is for all the redeemed of the Lord also! Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox..and all those real Christians in between.

    • Btw, all real Christians are “Catholic” and “Orthodox” in my theological understanding! 🙂

    • Francis

      Mt approach is: if a certain theist
      1. believes that Jesus Christ lived and died and resurrected for our salvation
      2. thinks that he is personally in need of this salvation
      3. decides that, having been saved, he now submits (at least least willing to submit, or tries to submit) himself to Christ
      He is saved in my book.

      Whether he truly is saved or not, that’s God’s job to decide, not mine.

    • I am convinced this is the wrong question. Nowhere in Scripture are we required to determine if another person is saved. Rather we are commanded to teach God’s truth and correct those who deviate from it. Galatians makes it clear that faith versus work is a critical issue. While there are other issues that are mentioned as critical, not all of the aspects of gospel teaching are so emphasized. Whether there are those who are unclear on this truth who will be saved is in the hand of God. But we cannot simply assume they will be saved, but try to instruct them.

    • Shane Dodson

      “Oh, I just mean that kind of like teenagers think their parents know next to nothing, about them or the world, Protestants question whether the “Catholic Gospel” is even salvific. It’s just ironic to question the authenticity of the tree that you (general) yourself grew from. ”

      The Roman Catholic “gospel” is another gospel whose preachers Paul anathematized in Galatians 1:8-9. “Catholic” merely means “universal” so in that sense, there is One “Catholic” Church. However, we are specifically speaking about the Roman Catholic Church. If Judiazers were “severed from Christ” because they added ONE work to grace, then the RCC is most definitely severed from Christ for the many works they add to grace.

      The RCC teaches the necessity of grace (which is a good start)…but not the sufficiency of grace (which is a horrible finish).

      I didn’t come from the tree of Roman Catholicism.

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • C Michael Patton

      White responded quickly: I think he too easily dismisses the “What abouts?” but who am I to ask questions? 🙂

    • Shane Dodson

      Ok. I’ll bite. What about the “What abouts?”

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • C Michael Patton

      See OP. I suppose one could ask if we are to throw certain Arminians who believe that some sins can cause the loss of salvation? Do they have a Gospel that saves? Or what about the those who believe in baptismal regeneration? Do they have a Gospel that saves? Not to mention the first 1500 urs of church history.

    • C Michael Patton

      Did CS Lewis, who believed in Purgatory, have a Gospel that saves?

    • C Michael Patton

      Not to mention again the distinction between the fuller Gospel as expressed in Romans or the more essential version in 1 Cor.

    • cherylu


      As one that you know disagress with you on issues regarding Calvinism, I can’t help but say that I find it rather amusing that you of course think that Calvinists have the “rightest” gospel! I reckon there are a lot of folks out and about that would not agree with you on that one at all.

    • C Michael Patton

      Cheryl, “reckon” is an understatement. But what would any expect? That I would think there was a “righter” Gospel out there but I am just hanging out here for drill? Of course I would think that!

    • samuel

      Mr. Patton, I read your original response, James White’s response, and your second post. “There is definitely a line that can be crossed. I can’t always tell you where that line is, exactly. I know that the center of the Gospel is the person and work of Christ. In addition, I would contend that one must accept who Christ is (the God-man), and that what he did (died for our sins and rose from the grave) requires, I believe, the presence of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14).” We preach who Jesus is, and what He did – both parts are defined biblically. Its the second part – what He did that is biblically defined and just as with 1st part, don’t Paul’s epistles define what deniel is non salvific (gal 5, romans 10?) The dividing line? Do you agree that the Scriptures are enough to define true gospel/false gospel? Have you read “Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology” – your second post reminded me of the discussion Chapter 4 (Mark Dever) “Improving the Gospel?)and Greg Gilbert “What is the Gospel?” p.108 “But according to Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, that is not sharing the gospel:”We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” Do you think we should preach the gospel to commited RC (Matthew 28)? God sent His gospel of peace through the blood of His Son to a child of wrath, granting repentence, the gift of faith, the Holy Spirit, eternal life and the gift of righteousness.

    • JB Chappell

      Maybe I missed it somewhere, but it strikes me as truly interesting that in a discussion of the “Good News” or gospel that just about the only evangelist being named is Paul. As if no one ever had anything else to say on the subject.

      What about the “Good News” that Jesus preached? Seems like that might be relevant. In Mark 1:15 we see Jesus proclaiming the euangelion of God – that the Kingdom of God was near. Is that a gospel “other” than what Paul preached? Bottom line: whatever “Good News” Jesus was preaching, it doesn’t resemble what Paul was preaching.

      This doesn’t mean that Paul was wrong to preach what he did, of course. It just means that perhaps we should pause before declaring what is and what is not “Gospel”. Especially if we claim that it is “Gospel” that we need to be “saved”. Others point out that Paul makes reference to a false gospel and that one can apparently be condemned (at least by Paul) for it. I don’t think this is too surprising. It seems obvious that we can be wrong to the point of being damned. Did Paul bother to point out what these “false gospels” were? Not really. Just that they were “other” than what he taught. But he neglects to point out what specifically constitutes “gospel” – so we have no clear-cut reference point for an “other”.

    • JB Chappell

      As for our Roman Catholic brethren, and the significance they ascribe to works, well, it seems to me that James would have agreed with them. Everyone likes to focus on the “believe” part of of John 3:16-18 and ignore 19-21. One cannot separate works from faith. So if we are saved by faith, then works are somehow involved as well. That seems to be at least part of what Jesus is saying in John 3:16-21, and James obviously echoes it. Last I checked, Jesus and James had access to the “gospel” as well. I think some of us need to be less Paul-centric. To me, CMP’s study on sermons in Acts was very illuminating. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that it’s the only reference (that I’ve noticed) to someone other than Paul. If they were proclaiming “Gospel”, it is clear that they were emphasizing different things, not the same things, which is what I’d expect if it were so formulaic.

    • Rick


    • Ken

      ‘The Lord knows those that are his’ and ‘let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity’.

      In the end, God alone knows what has gone on in a man’s heart, we don’t – though wouldn’t we love to! The nearest we can get to judge apart from a profession of faith is to see if that profession leads to a life moving away from iniquity.
      In the light of recent events, this is clearly not the case amongst a section of catholic clergy, but then evangelicalism has its share of the bogus too, lest we should ever get self-righteous.
      I have rarely if ever met Roman Catholics where the essence of their religion wasn’t largely external rather than something spiritual that had gone on on the inside. Perhaps the distinction is between religion and faith for external versus internal reality. This would then allow for those who go through the outward trappings to also have a genuine faith on the inside, but the latter is what counts – religion never justified anyone.

    • R David

      I have to go with Scot McKnight’s view on the gospel:

      1 Corinthians 15 is a summary of the gospel.

      It summarizes the sermons in Acts, which in turn are summaries of the gospels themselves. We don’t want to start saying the Apostles were unable to preach the gospel.

      McKnight is right- if it is just about how I am saved, then it limits the wide scope of the good news, namely, about who Jesus is.

      The gospel is about Jesus, who He is, and what He has done. It is not just about us getting saved (although that is a part of it). To focus just on the soteriology aspect is to make it too much about me, not Him.

      Would a RC be want to preach the sermons in Acts?

    • michelle

      Um, this might be a strange question, but am I understanding this right- that Calvinists believe that once they’re born again no matter what they do afterwards they won’t be kicked out of salvation? I hope I got that wrong, as that is just WRONG and that’s a point made in all of the NT letters, I believe.
      Ok now that I have asked that, let me clarify two things: One: I know of the exact Roman Catholic Church that everyone dismisses, living here in France dealing with it up front. Two, I wasn’t raised in that faith, but I was raised Roman Catholic as well. I was taught from a very young age that we are saved by God’s grace through Jesus’s birth into human form, and his submission to death on the cross in our place. I didn’t learn a bunch of fancy terms or anything, just that. I also learned that Mary has a respected place in the church as she also willingly and openly submitted to God’s will for her, as many prophets from the Old Testament have done. Again, back to my comment on the 1st
      post, Mary was Jesus’s earthly mother… Christ threw out the Law, but not one line from the law has been changed either. Those are both paraphrases of Christ’s comments in the Gospels-which to me are the four books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the rest are just supporting chapters to help us to flesh out the words of Christ. I was also taught to believe that we are forever to be changed in our HEARTS and minds and submit to God’s will through the Holy Spirit. After that it’s…

    • michelle

      Hmm cut off as well:
      After that it’s God’s place to judge each person’s heart for our place in eternity.
      And as I get a little extra space let me add that last night I was reading 1 Corinthians 3:5-17. There is an implication of works being judged as well as faith in that text. With all due respects to each of you, and many blessings of the Holy Spirit, and that presence stay
      in this discussion.

    • Shane Dodson

      First I notice that Mr. Patton sets Romans against 1 Corinthians (the “fuller” gospel as opposed to the “essential” gospel).

      Then I read from JB Chappell that the fact that Paul was the only Biblical author being quoted was a problem…as if another author of Scripture had something completely different and opposing to say.

      Why are setting Scripture against Scripture?

      Mr. Patton…did the Judiazers get the gospel “right enough?” Obviously, they didn’t possess the Gospel because Paul said they were “severed from Christ.” Why would Paul judge in such a manner?

      Answer that, and these nagging questions about Roman Catholicism (the “What abouts?”) are no longer nagging questions.

      Grace is sufficient, friend.

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • Shane Dodson

      “Did Paul bother to point out what these “false gospels” were? Not really. Just that they were “other” than what he taught. But he neglects to point out what specifically constitutes “gospel” – so we have no clear-cut reference point for an “other”.”

      He did specifically mention those who desired to add the practice of circumcision to grace, JB. Read the entire book of Galatians.

      Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
      (Galatians 5:2-6 ESV)

      Anyone who adds anything to grace is severed from Christ…be it circumcision, or the Sacraments.

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • […] Patton put up a great post about how differing segments of Christianity view the gospel and if those views actually lead to […]

    • C Michael Patton

      I guess u can’t answer the questions?

      So, if the Gal would have accepted circumcism they would have lost their salvation?

    • Shane Dodson

      Mr. Patton…

      The text says that those who added circumcision to the grace of God were/are “severed from Christ.”

      In Galatians, Pau cites Lev 8:5 when he writes “The one who does them shall live by them.”

      Those who willingly add works (on in the case of the Judiazers…only ONE work) to God’s grace are putting themselves under a curse, for “cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, and do them.” (Gal 3:10; cited from Deut 27:26)

      To answer your question specifically…one cannot lose what one never possessed.

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • C Michael Patton

      So they were not really attached to Christ? We are not to take it literally?

    • Shane Dodson

      Attached to Christ on what basis?

      Can somebody be under the curse of the Law and still be in Christ?

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • EMSoliDeoGloria

      Let’s deal with Galatians.

      I’m really appreciating this conversation. Yet I’m very aware that when I read and seriously examine Galatians, I appear to walk away with a different understanding of its implications than commenters Jugulum & Shane Dodson, for example, or certain pastors whom I respect.

      I could be wrong – maybe CMP and I are just uncomfortable with the message of Galatians and are inventing ways to avoid its implications for people who don’t think as we do theologically.

      But maybe not. Maybe we aren’t ignoring Galatians. Maybe Paul wants the Galatian church – those truly connected to Christ – to see how very useless it is to try to add to what Christ has done – that their motivation for right living should be gratitude, not earning. That to try to walk in their own good works is to refuse to walk in what Christ has done. He’s not saying that circumcision kills in itself (he circumcised Timothy, though the circumstances were different); he’s saying that believing / trusting in circumcision – in the law – is to act like Christ’s work is incomplete. And that means we are not fully living in the grace we’ve received.

      Paul doesn’t want the church to be foolish but to live in the full benefits of their union with Christ – and to reject false teaching that would have them do otherwise.

      I don’t have time to elaborate on that right now… but we must discuss – and rightly exegete – Galatians on this topic…

    • @Ken: I was raised Irish Roman Catholic in Ireland and got my first degree from a Roman Catholic College, so I quite understand the RCC. MY statement about the “Catholic Church” includes all in the proper historic Church! I have quoted this by Philip Schaff before: “The Reformation is the legitimate offspring, the greatest act of the Catholic Church.”

      I like MacArthur oftentimes, but indeed many times his zeal outruns the reality of the historical and theological truth. And as Michael correctly says, God’s salvation and saving grace of Christ, were quite alive before the Reformation! WE all of us must remember that CHIRST Himself is the Salvation of God itself, and not our best or worse understanding of it, but of course we must KNOW the biblical revelation of Christ – Savior, Lord and God & Man! And of course many Roman Catholics have and are the redeemed of the Lord! Based again, upon Christ Jesus Himself…His Person & Work!

    • Kim

      Paul referred to the Galatians as brethren, sons of God, being adopted by God, brought into his grace.. He uses ‘us’ including them as those saved. He just can’t believe they want to go back and is sickened by the perverting of the truth. He does stand in doubt and worries he labored in vain on them. I don’t know how he could warn them of being severed unless he thougt there was a possibility they were in. And then what would that severing mean, certainly not loss of salvation. I don’t think Paul knew their standing for sure but he treated them as brethren and pleaded with them as brethren. Yep, Galatians is the same topic and discussion, nothing new under the sun.

    • JB Chappell

      Shane, I realize that Paul is referring to “Judaizers”. However, what I’m saying is that he’s not exactly real detailed in how he describes their doctrine. The problem with understanding heretical doctrines in the early church is that often our only reference to them are from people who oppose them. That doesn’t necessarily lead to a fair summary or a right understanding. Is it possible that those who Paul would have cursed would have understood their doctrine differently?

      Read between the lines and it is clear that the apostles and Paul did not exactly see eye to eye, and in fact Paul’s actions toward them may very well be what led Barnabas to leave him. It doesn’t seem coincidental then, that Paul actually seems to be distancing himself from the apostles by saying his gospel does come from man. Seems reasonable to suppose, then, that his ideological opponents were claiming authority from the apostles.

      So if there was disagreement that early on, it is perhaps not surprising that we can pit scripture against scripture. Because it certainly seems no coincidence that James & Paul use the same example (Abraham), but emphasize opposite sides of the coin.

      And let’s be clear: the Judaizers Paul is ranting against were (according to him) claiming that one was justified according to the Law (meaning Torah). This is hardly what Roman Catholics claim.

    • Jugulum

      JB Chappell,

      Are you not familiar with Acts 15? It discusses both (1) Paul and the other apostles’ unity in addressing whether circumcision is necessary, and (2) the circumstances of Paul & Barnabas’s separation (15:37-38).

      Or are you familiar with it, but you think Acts 15 gets it wrong?

      Or is there something I’m missing?

    • In Galatians the Apostle Paul is speaking and dealing with the Mosaic Law and the rite of Jewish circumcision, it is this addition, and again the Jewish Mosaic Law itself being kept, that Paul presses to the Galatians, and the so-called “false brethren”, who were really Jews alone, and thus not really Christians, who had met Christ and the liberty of the Gospel of Christ Himself! (Gal. 2:4) But, St. Paul also knew that any “works” without Christ was the Gospel principle that was at stake. So indeed we must look at the Judaizing ideas that the RCC has oftentimes presented, and here I believe was and is the essence of the Reformation. Note, Galatians chapter 3 and 4, and certainly Gal. 5: 1, etc.

    • Paul Owen

      Um, I hate to point out the 800 pound gorilla in the room, but appealing to Galatians to solve the Protestant vs. Rome dispute is pretty naive, for several reasons.

      1. Paul rebuked Peter for contradicting “the truth of the gospel” by his refusal to eat with Gentiles (Gal. 2:14). Does that mean he did not regard Peter as a brother?

      2. Paul continually addresses the Galatians as fellow Christians who had received the Spirit (Gal. 3:1-2), even though he rebuked them for turning to a “different gospel” (1:6).

      3. Evidently it is possible to contradict the gospel (both in doctrine and behavior) and yet still be addressed as a Christian in some meaningful sense.

      4. Galatians 5:4 does not mean that the Galatian Christians are necessarily damned to hell. In context, his point is that Christ has freed them from slavery to the Law. If they put themselves back under the Law, then they are cutting themselves off from receiving the benefits of that freedom from the Law Christ had secured for them. You sort of have to read the whole context (Gal. 5:1-13).

      5. The theological situation in Galatians is not the same as the debate with Rome. Defining justification differently is not the same as denying that Christ is the fulfillment of the types and shadows of the Law. The issue in Galatians is grace vs. Law (2:21), not justification by faith alone.

    • Jugulum

      P.S. For those who don’t look up Acts 15:37-38, it says that they separated over whether to take Mark along with them again. (He had been with them before, Acts 13:25, and then dropped out.) Paul didn’t think they should take Mark with them, and Barnabas did.

      So, what Acts describes about Paul & Barnabas’ separation is not what JB is reading between the lines.

    • C Michael Patton

      What Paul said.

    • JB Chappell


      Yes, I am aware of Acts 15. I won’t go so far as to say that you’re “missing something”, but it seems to me that Paul and the apostles may not have been as united as you think. But maybe it is I that am missing something.

      No question that they agreed that circumcision was not necessary for *Gentiles*. However, this was merely I keeping with, well, Jewish law at the time. So, what do you think James & Peter’s opinion would have been of whether or not Jews needed to keep the law?

      It is there that it seems Paul and the apostles may have been divided. In Acts 15, James explicitly condemns eating the meat that Paul later says is OK… as long as you watch out for “weaker brethren”… Which apparently James (and other apostles, presumably) qualify as.

      Furthermore, read about the Barnabas incident in Galatians 2 to get more perspective. In both Acts and Galatians, Barnabas leaves shortly after the Jerusalem Council, but Paul provides a bit more insight.

      To keep this more relevant to the post: if Paul and the apostles could not agree on some issues, then we are not pitting “scripture against scripture” by turning to sermons in Acts or the book of James to gain perspective. And if we gain perspective reading those aside from Paul, then perhaps we should reconsider the notion of the gospel being *only* what Paul preached, which is what many appear to be thinking.

    • JB Chappell

      Indeed, Paul Owen just stated far more articulately what I was trying to communicate (at least in part). I will say, though, the part that makes this reading of Galatians difficult (however sensible it may seem otherwise) is the anathema in Ch. 1. Referring to his point #2 above, it seems to me that he didn’t just rebuke them for turning to another gospel, but actually cursed those that taught it to them.

    • JB Chappell

      Fr. Robert, does it not seem to you that by teaching that *Jews* did not actually have to adhere to the Law of Moses, or by teaching that they “severed from Christ”, that he is deviating significantly from what was agreed upon at the Jerusalem Council? They agreed that Paul to minister to gentiles and that Gentiles needn’t be circumcised – not that Paul was to curse other Jews for still keeping the Law of Moses.

    • Btw, It is also a false dichotomy to pit the interior life against the outward Christian life! How can I know that I have really met and love Christ, if not in some measure, I am obedient to Him! (“The fruit of the Spirit” Gal. 5:22-24, etc.)

    • EMSoliDeoGloria

      Paul Owen’s 5 points, and particularly his 3rd summary statement are exactly in line with my own reading of Galatians. This is why I cannot embrace the notion that the Judaizers can be directly corresponded to the RC church. Simply I believe that Paul is remonstrating with those he regards as fellow believers, even as he is correcting them for errant doctrine. Thus, Paul can have strong words for the Galatian church because he wants them to experience the full benefit of their union with Christ, not because he counts them as unbelievers.

    • @JB Chappell: Indeed St. Paul’s revelation of the “liberty” ‘In Christ’, pressed him to see that the Gospel of Christ was for both Jew & Gentile! We can see this in the further NT writings and Letters of Paul…Eph. 2:14-15…’creating the two into one new man’! As too, in Gal. 3:26-29, especially verse 28! 🙂 This is simply High Ground theologically, and in the NT Covenant!

    • Shane Dodson

      “This is why I cannot embrace the notion that the Judaizers can be directly corresponded to the RC church. Simply I believe that Paul is remonstrating with those he regards as fellow believers, even as he is correcting them for errant doctrine.”

      How can I consider someone who is “severed from Christ” as my “brother IN Christ?”

      Those who shunned Paul’s warnings about adding works to grace revealed their true nature: unregenerate. Apart from Christ.

      We’re not talking about true believers who err in secondary doctrine but are continually open to correction. We are talking about believing that one is righteous APART from the finished work of Christ. That is error with eternal consequences, and if one is not open to correction on that particular point…that reveals a hardness of heart with eternal consequences (unless, of course, God grants this person true repentance and faith).

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • Irene

      (: Someone tell the poor old Catholic….what’s that word again–perspicuity? (:

    • Paul Owen

      J. B. Chappell,

      You raise a good point. I would simply say that Paul does not give a one size fits all solution. Some people actually do preach a different gospel (cf. 2:4), whereas others simply do not adequately understand the implications of the gospel, or give in to pressure to compromise its message, and thus add to, take from, or otherwise contradict the gospel. Paul would apparently put Peter and the Galatian church in the latter category; the Judaizers from Jerusalem (cf. 2:12) in the former.

      Furthermore, not every theological error qualifies as adopting a different gospel. There is no debate in Galatians about the definition of justification (as there is in the dispute with Rome). The debate is whether Christ’s death fulfills the Law on our behalf and thus brings it to an end (Gal. 3:10-29), or whether the people of God are still obligated to it. Paul sees an affirmation of the latter as a denial of the very reason for Christ’s death (to fulfill the typology of the Law), and thus an essential denial of the very heart of the Christian message (2:21).

    • JB Chappell

      Shane, your point is about the severity of Paul’s rebuke is important. An “anathema”, to me, does not imply continued brotherhood. Nevertheless, Paul’s warnings were not against those who would add “works to grace”. His warning seems to be against those who were eliminating grace altogether, and placed themselves fully under the Law of Moses (in his mind) needlessly.

      Furthermore, if – as you say – “we are talking about believing that one is righteous APART from the finished work of Christ”, then I think Roman Catholics are on solid ground here. I don’t know any RC who would claim that the work of Christ is unnecessary.

    • Jugulum


      I substantially agree with Paul Owen’s points–I think 1-3 are completely valid observations, and while I’m more hesitant about 4 & 5, they at least deserve discussion. (I’ve wondered about 5, too. It may be that an important aspect of the Judaizer situation is that circumcision in particular involved going back to the Old Covenant. I think it’s an obvious weakness in Dr. White’s case, that he spoke of circumcision simply as “a work”, disconnected from its Old Covenant context.)

      This is what I expected you to bring up when I asked you to delve into Galatians. I’d also expect someone to point out that Paul says, “I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain”.

      It’s clear Paul hasn’t written them off as unregenerate. Yet it’s also clear that Paul does fear he may have labored over them in vain. He didn’t call them false brothers, but the category of “false brothers” was relevant. That’s something you haven’t acknowledged, and it puzzles me.

      The issue with circumcision wasn’t enough for Paul to immediately write them off–perhaps his audience wasn’t thinking things through, and in their hearts they weren’t seeking to be justified by the law. But he was at least concerned that they might be–they could be stumbling like those in Romans 9:32.

      This is the only way I can make sense of all that Galatians says, without minimizing the language Paul uses. I had this in mind in my second comment…

    • C Barton

      In 1 Cor. 3:12, there is the allegory of building on a foundation: if you build with stubble, your works will not stand the fiery test, even so, you will be “saved”. Salvation does not apparently guarantee an unconditional nod of approval for what you do or believe in your life. Perhaps this is a line of discernment to be addressed in the future.
      The deity, humanity, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus appear to be paramount regarding knowledge of Him in the Gospel. After all, Jesus Himself said that it is those who, “. . . believe in me . . .”, who are saved, and those who reject Him are judged by the words He spoke. So, if you can define what is a de facto rejection of Christ, then perhaps you can answer the banner question, also.

    • JB Chappell

      Paul, I agree with just about everything you said. It’s just not as clear to me that Paul would place those who would have “lapsed” back into the law into a different category than those who taught them such. After all, those who were teaching them these things may have simply been making an honest mistake as well. I definitely agree that there is no “one size fits all” solution, however.

    • Jugulum

      It got cut off again. That was supposed to be “my second comment yesterday.” That means comment #9, posted 3:54pm, April 4.

      I’ll add: I don’t see how it does justice to Paul’s language to suppose that Paul simply wants them “to experience the full benefit of their union with Christ”.

    • On theological principle I agree with Shane! But, of course there must come the individual place and walk of each hopefully real Christian! And of course we cannot see this in Galatians. But we can, and should see the Biblical and Theological positions here: “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation or creature.” (Gal. 6:15) And it is here too, that we should see or judge the RCC. It is creating and teaching this biblical and theological position and reality? I would say, not equally so, but it is a “pilgrim” church, itself.. that ebbs and flows, but teaches the great Nicene “homoousios”! And yet, has also to still “reform” itself, in many places! As has too the Reformational and Reformed Churches! But, we must note, that the Reformed Doctrine/s are not a “Church”, but a theology itself. As I am myself an Anglican churchman, who is “Reformed” in doctrine, but I hope and pray is also a “Catholic” Christian! This is btw, the essence of the Anglican Communion, both “catholic” and “reformed”. 🙂

      My question is always, will the papacy ever really “reform” itself? By this question I mean the “papal” office itself? I have never seen this, ever! This was Luther’s great charge!

    • JB Chappell

      Fr. Robert,
      I don’t want to get too far off-topic here, but you didn’t quite answer my question. I understand what Paul came to believe. My question refers what he and the “Pillars” supposedly came to agree on. Presumably, everyone would have known what Paul’s doctrine was and it would have been discussed (that’s not known for sure, though). Yet, at the Council of Jerusalem, they did *not* agree that Jews had this liberty, only Gentiles. Furthermore, it would appear that Paul was directed to preach only to gentiles. One can’t help but wonder if that’s not because they did not want Paul preaching his doctrine to Jews, which of course he did anyway, just as he told Gentiles it’s OK to consume the meat that James forbade (unless “weaker brethren” were present). It just seems to me that even as Paul acknowledges the “Pillars” as leaders of the Church, he then turns his back and undermines Peter as a leader for very spurious reasons (which Barnabas would seemingly agree with).

      Now, i’m not one to uphold figureheads as infallible authority. But for the purposes of our discussion here, it just seems to be me very relevant for those who rely *completely* on Paul to at least consider the fact that others – those who we would not consider heretics – of influence in the Church appeared to disagree with Paul.

    • Paul Owen

      J. B. Chappell,

      I agree there is a tension here. Paul is for sure concerned about the spiritual welfare of the Galatian Christians. Paul’s language in 2:2 and 4:19 definitely indicates that the sound faith of this church has been undermined by the heresies of false teachers. I’m not denying that. And if the foundations of a building are damaged, it is certainly possible for the whole structure to fall down. Nonetheless, Paul does not yet appear to withdraw or deny to the Galatians some sense of meaningful Christian identity. Otherwise 3:1-5; 3:23-29; 4:9, 12; 5:10-11 make no sense whatsoever.

    • Shane Dodson

      “Paul’s warnings were not against those who would add “works to grace”. His warning seems to be against those who were eliminating grace altogether, and placed themselves fully under the Law of Moses (in his mind) needlessly. ”

      Adding works to grace IS eliminating grace altogether.

      “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6

      “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” Romans 4:4-5

      “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Galatians 2:21

      Also…you mention people placing themselves under the law “needlessly.”

      Under what circumstance would a person NEED to place oneself under the law at all?

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • JB Chappell: I am not sure we can answer this question in a definitive manner? Since St. Paul certainly always went and did what both his conscience and what he believed the Spirit of God was leading him to do. And certainly too here no doubt Paul saw his ministry as that of the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” But, we can note I believe that Saul/Paul was always a Christian-Jew! (Rom.1:16) Note, I am Historic (Covenant) Pre-Mill.

    • JB Chappell

      Fr. Robert: I can appreciate that response. Not knowing that for sure, I would urge caution to those in using only ONE person for determining absolute “gospel”. You obviously adhere to a certain position, but you seem to be open to others as well, and I appreciate that.

    • JB…I am a certain Pauline Christian overall. 😉 But even Paul was no Pope! And yet I am as I believe, the NT teaches, one that sees the progressive nature of the Salvation History of God.

    • Ron Marlin

      Doesn’t Law vs. grace essentially have to do with how one is justified before God? Seems like Paul’s point #5 makes a distinction, and I don’t see how one would be warranted…

    • Btw, just a side note, but behind Paul’s doctrine lies the OT conception of “righteousness”, note the LXX or Sept., This cardinal idea defines the Hebrew faith, and here is more than justice or holiness, but the “righteousness” of Faith! This is Paul, and “revelation” itself!

    • C Michael Patton

      I have just read a couple of these, but I think Kim and EM are both expressing the essence of the way I see things.

      I also think that we need to be sympathic and bring in James. James is very interesting. Of course we don’t believe he is teaching what he SEEMS at first glance to be teaching (justification is not by faith alone), but he does explicitly say such. In context, I know where his rhetoric is going. However, let us be sympathetic to see that those who look at James and see him teaching something akin to Roman Catholicism have reasons and it is not necessarily because they are denying the authority of Scripture.

      We see James through the filter of Paul and I think we are justified in doing so. Paul is the theologian of the NT, James is not. James is a pastor trying to deal with his congragants who are taking this faith alone stuff too an unhealthy place. James responds with strong and (often) sarcastic rhetoric. Unfortunately, many people just see this on face value. However, we need to understand why someone might believe that works contribute even in light of Gal. What seems clear to us in Gal SEEMS just as clear to others in James.

    • JB Chappell

      Shane: Adding works to grace is not eliminating grace. Just ask James. Or, you know, Jesus. Does it not concern you that there is only one person that you can cite to support your position?

      There is a difference in saying that works are important, even needed, and saying that works are what constitutes the “gospel” or what gets you saved. I don’t understand the all grace-or-no grace position here.

      In all your passages, Paul is referring to those who would work exclusively through the Law, or works. I don’t know of any Roman Catholic who would claim that you can earn your salvation apart from the grace of God.

      Even Paul, though he seems to want to semantically separate them, believes that proper faith is connected to proper works. They are inextricable.

      As for a need to be under the law… well, that seems to be the whole question being raised in the Council of Jerusalem. It would seem that they agreed that Gentiles did not need to. Only Paul is on records as saying that Jews do not need to, and we know that there are those “from Jerusalem” who disagreed with him.

      So it would seem to depend on who you were to have asked. Some, apparently, would have said everyone has this need. Others would have said only Jews. But, as far as I can tell, only Paul says no one does. But we have a good indication in Acts that, at the very least, Peter continued to be a practicing Jew. Whether he felt this was “needed” is an unanswerable question, probably.

    • Indeed when one sees Paul’s grid over James (as I think we must!), James really teaches the same “righteousness”! (See, James 1: 17-21, etc.)

    • C Michael Patton

      Jug, its a good statement about questioning whether Catholics are/were committing the Gal error. I think they probably are, so my case would not be to draw a distinction between where they went wrong and where Rome goes wrong. If one is adding things to Christ, it is anathema, whether (and here I go…) it is trying to keep one’s salvation through abstinence from certain sins, keep the love of God through abstinence, gain salvation through even ONE act of baptism, or earn the love of God through giving money to the church. This is all anathema and severing from the grace of God through Christ.

      Now, the permanence which the Gal were doing this may come into play as they were returning to a dead system.

      As well, the rhetoric of Paul is extreme (not in a bad sense…just extreme). He is very angry and can’t believe what they are doing. One can see this immediately as, I think, Gal is the only one of his letters without any introduction. He just jumps right into it.

      I think Paul felt like these were true children of God (for the most part at least) but they were abandoning grace. He could not believe they would want to do such a thing. He tells them that Christ is no benefit to those who do such. And I think this is still true. If I were to pick back up a system of works righteousness, I am not living by grace and mercy. If I am not living by grace and mercy, in this context (Christian life), I am severing myself from Christ and he is of no benefit (since it is all of grace or all of law…no in between). But this would not mean I am not saved. It would mean that I need to be discipled so that I could live within the sphere of grace (the only option for Christian living).

      So, my basic thesis here I think is that Christians can be “severed from Christ” yet still be saved by grace.

    • C Michael Patton

      BTW: I think that James is such an interesting study. It is the earliest book of the NT and his people are abusing what? The doctrine of justification by faith alone. This is a clear indication not only that this doctrine was taught before 49 A.D. but that it was articulated as “justification by faith alone.” Otherwise, James makes no sense. And this is in the Jewish community, not Paul’s! Increadible!

    • Shane Dodson

      “So, my basic thesis here I think is that Christians can be “severed from Christ” yet still be saved by grace.”

      How can someone not be “in Christ” and yet–at the same time–be “in Christ?”

      The justified cannot be separated from Christ. Why? Not because we’re able to keep ourselves “in Christ,” but because He alone is able to keep us.

      In light of this text, please explain how someone separated from Christ can still be justified.

      “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
      (Romans 8:33-39)

    • CMP: I agree, that it is possible that one can be, flawed and apart from the “positional” doctrine/doctrines of grace, and yet still be saved by grace! There are many Christians in this place really. Again, I think the real issue comes back to the great Person of Christ Himself: “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2: 19-20) Here simply is Paul’s Gospel! And without doubt the high-water mark of the Gospel of God In Christ! But for Paul both Christ and His work are found together! Though again, I may not understand the work of Christ properly or fully, but I surely must know and love Christ Himself, i.e. the Savior-the Lord!

      *Note, one cannot have the grace of God in Christ, without the Person of Christ! As John can say, in 1 John 5:12, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”

      With texts like this, I think we can see how we can discern where the People of God lie, as Paul can also write: “For to me, to live is Christ..” (Phil. 1:21).

      And note too, I am a Calvinist, but surely heaven will hold many who understand not this great doctrine, but who love Christ! I am thinking right now of John and Charles Wesley! 🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      Shane, I think it is all theological context and we cannot be too ridged. How can someone be dead to sin and still sin?

      How can someone have the Spirit dwelling in them and still live according to the flesh.

      The question is severed in what way? You are assuming that it is in adoption. Remember, every vine that does not produce is cut off … Cut off from what and how. It is all in context.

    • C Michael Patton

      BTW: If you take this as being in Christ in the sense of salvation, to be severed necessitates that one be connected. In what sense were they connected before they were severed. If it was they were justified then they lost their justification. Oh the difficulty as we now have a situation where someone lost their justification because they believed they had to do something! Irony…

      But if one cannot lose their justification then the severing must mean something else. Which is where I go.

    • C Michael Patton

      Fr. Amen.

      What did the publican go away believing? Not much. He just asked God to have mercy on him.

    • Jugulum


      I think we may be in 90% agreement. The clincher is whether Paul is saying that the issues he’s discussing could impact whether or not someone is saved. I think he does, you don’t.

      I have a hard time seeing how “severed from Christ” can mean what you suggest, but I can at least marginally see some room for the possibility. I’m open to the notion that I’m making false assumptions about it, though it’s pretty hard for me to see.

      However, I don’t yet see any way around Paul’s reference to “false brothers”, and “a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you”. He did hold back from saying “You are false brothers”, but the category was relevant. The danger was present.

      We have to harmonize the strong language with the language that still treats his audience as brothers. Even the strongest language makes sense, if the idea is that someone who actually is truly trusting in Christ can get confused or mistaken or led astray by a false teaching, without it reflecting an actual change in what they’re trusting in. There’s a difference between (1) being able to accurately articulate what you trust in (or having a developed understanding of the gospel), and (2) actually trusting/depending on Christ.

    • Ron Marlin

      If “severed from Christ” doesn’t really mean severed from Christ in context, I wonder if “emasculate themselves” really means what it appears to in Galatians 5:12? hmmm. Perhaps context dictates otherwise.

    • C Michael Patton

      Jug. I just about agree with everything you said too! I don’t think even think we have to assume Paul thought that they were all believers. I think he might have been implicitly questioning their justification in some cases. I just think the result is the same either way in his mind: pick up works and you are severed from grace through Christ.

    • Jugulum

      We should also point out the similarity to the passages elsewhere in the New Testament where there are warnings against falling away. The harmonization issues seem similar in the two cases.

      Anyway, if the problems in Galatians apply to official Catholic doctrine after the Council of Trent, then we’re getting very close to what Dr. White said–Catholics being saved “in spite of Catholic teaching, not because of it”. I’m really interested in bridging the gap between what he said and what you said, to whatever extent possible. And to the extent that it can’t be bridged, I want to have a very clear understanding of where the difference lies.

    • R.L.S.

      Interesting discussion to which I would like to interject two quick points:

      1. What do we do with the creeds? That is, historical Christianity. If the Nicene Creed is the creed by which the Church has declared since the 4th century, is this not to be understood as the core beliefs that is needed for salvation? Or did the fathers leave out something essential to salvation – i.e., justification, etc.? I, personally, am uncomfortable with assuming or arguing that the fathers made a mistake.

      2. To me, and as an errant human being I may be wrong, the “gospel” ought to be understood as a trajectory, not so much as by proof texting. If we are going to be honest with the text, one has a difficult time reconciling much of what Saint James says with what Saint Paul says; the same could be said for the gospels (pull out your Aland Synopsis and break out your markers). Perhaps any question concerning the “gospel” must first be prefaced with a degree of contextualization; that is to say, the particular particularities by which one’s thinking is constrained.

      While I have my fair share of qualms with the Roman Catholic Church, I do appreciate, however, the fact that everyone in the church is rather clear about the rules. I find their practices remarkable because they are engineered, through the centuries, to usher the faithful into heaven.

      Happy Maundy Thursday, the darkest day of the year.

    • samuel

      Mr. Patton, I would answer your questions by pointing out “Examination of the Council of Trent” by Martin Chemnitz or the Book of Concord ( I’m a Christian and a Baptist – of course the very elect of God don’t lose salvation and infant baptism is no baptism at all. But looking at confessional Lutheranism (or confessional Reformed), the Gospel of peace is preached and believed. Book of Concord “Accordingly, we believe, teach, and confess that our righteousness before God is (this very thing], that God forgives us our sins out of pure grace, without any work, merit, or worthiness of ours preceding, present, or following, that He presents and imputes to us the righteousness of Christ’s obedience, on account of which righteousness we are received into grace by God, and regarded as righteous. We believe, teach, and confess that faith alone is the means and instrument whereby we lay hold of Christ, and thus in Christ of that righteousness which avails before God, for whose sake this faith is imputed to us for righteousness, Rom. 4:5.
      6] 4. We believe, teach, and confess that this faith is not a bare knowledge of the history of Christ, but such a gift of God by which we come to the right knowledge of Christ as our Redeemer in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him that for the sake of His obedience alone we have, by grace, the forgiveness of sins, are regarded as holy and righteous before God the Father, and eternally saved.”

    • samuel

      In regards to those who try to pit the Apostles of Christ against each you should remember that these eyewitnesses of Christ’s Resurrection where chosen and sent by our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. We do not depend on only one Apostle. Even a RC cannot do this – we all agree that the Church is Apostolic (or biblical).
      Shane, you made some important points on severed from Christ.
      Mr. Patton, questions on your post 1) can Paul be speaking to different individuals/groups in the letter to the Galations or does the text force you to think he is talking about the same person(s)? 2) 1 Cor 15 does talk about the preached word, grace, faith and salvation, doesn’t it? (Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.) ver 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.)? 3) When you read 1 Cor 15, when it says ‘Christ’ don’t you put orthodox content of who the Messiah is, so why not “died for our sins according to the scriptures’?
      4) Christ told us to make disciples of all nations. Should we preach the Gospel to our Roman Catholic neighbors, coworkers, family members? Should churches support missionaries to preach the Gospel to to Poland, Italy, Mexico?

    • C Michael Patton

      One thing to note is that while I do appreciate Catholics and am closer to them than hard liberals, this issue of not accepting grace does create quite a gulf. I would not sign ECT. So I am not really THAT ecumenical (at least as much as Chuck Colson and JI Packer). When missing Mass without a valid excuse is a mortal sin that can send one to hell if left unconfessed is part of one’s system, no matter how one words it, grace is not in the building.

    • C Michael Patton

      “Do this and live the law demands, but it gives me neither feet nor hands. A better word God’s grace doth bring, it bids me fly and it gives me wings.”

    • CMP: Indeed as Calvin said of the RCC in his time, it had become a system of Judaization. Such legal statements are still on the books in Catholicism. And sadly, in the Irish Church I grew-up in works-righteousness really did exist. I am not being anti-Catholic here, just speaking the historical aspects and certain theological realities.

    • samuel

      “Verse 4. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Paul in this verse discloses that he is not speaking so much of circumcision as the trust which men repose in the outward act. We can hear him say: “I do not condemn the Law in itself; what I condemn is that men seek to be justified by the Law, as if Christ were still to come, or as if He alone were unable to justify sinners. It is this that I condemn, because it makes Christ of no effect. It makes you void of Christ so that Christ is not in you, nor can you be partakers of the knowledge, the spirit, the fellowship, the liberty, the life, or the achievements of Christ. You are completely separated from Him, so much so that He has nothing to do with you any more, or for that matter you with Him.” Can anything worse be said against the Law? If you think Christ and the Law can dwell together in your heart, you may be sure that Christ dwells not in your heart. For if Christ is in your heart He neither condemns you, nor does He ever bid you to trust in your own good works. If you know Christ at all, you know that good works do not serve unto righteousness, nor evil works unto condemnation. I do not want to withhold from good works their due praise, nor do I wish to encourage evil works. But when it comes to justification, I say, we must concentrate upon Christ alone, or else we make Him non-effective.”(Luther,Galatians)

    • Shane Dodson

      The issue is strikingly simple…

      Grace is not only necessary, but it is sufficient.

      Rome would agree with the former, but not the latter.

      Thus, the most loving thing we can do to our Roman Catholic friends/neighbors/relatives is to evangelize them.

      They need the Gospel.

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • Roger E. Olson

      CMP said, “Grace is incredibly mind blowing.”

      yep! 🙂

    • Indeed, Roman Catholicism does not teach a gospel of assurance in salvation, but they have always taught the doctrine of Christ, Incarnate Son of God (Virgin Birth), God & Man, Savior, Lord & Redeemer!

    • I have said this before, but growing up Irish Roman Catholic in Dublin (50’s early 60’s), my pastor and priest, Fr. Sweeny was a Catholic Augustinian, both in his education and his order. When I was about 6 years old, I asked him who was this man hanging and nailed on the Cross or Crucifix? I never forgot what he told me: He is Jesus, God Incarnate who died for your sins! My first gospel sermon!

    • I can myself, be critical of Rome and Catholicism, but I will never call them a negative cult! As they preach the biblical Christ: the God-Man, and Savior & Lord, etc.

      Btw, we had a Reformation, not a reformulation of the Church. No Radical Reformation for me! As Melanchton, I can accept the Bishop of Rome, but not the “papacy” in toto. And as I have said, they do have certain non-biblical (Judaistic) doctrines, but they do have the Christ of the Gospel!

    • Irene

      When I was about 6 years old, I asked him who was this man hanging and nailed on the Cross or Crucifix? I never forgot what he told me: He is Jesus, God Incarnate who died for your sins! My first gospel sermon!
      That’s touching, Fr Robert…I grew up Lutheran, from tot to adult, and I’ll never forget my pastor. I still think of him as one of the best men I ever knew. He taught me to love God and his Word. Another little note– when I was married in the Catholic Church, there were three ordained Lutheran ministers in the congregation (not presiding). That’s a precious memory to me.
      I appreciate your disposition toward Catholicism. While yes, distinctions must be made for truth’s sake, division never should be the goal.

    • JB Chappell

      I applaud CMP’s acknowledgement that one can interpret James differently and honestly, without sacrificing the authority scripture. With all due respect to Shane, what appears to him to be a “strikingly simple” thing is obviously anything but, otherwise we wouldn’t have this huge schism in the Church. And let’s be honest, when most people refer to something along the lines of “strikingly simple”, it’s usually anything but.

      I was struck by CMP’s comment, however, that “of course” we don’t interpret James to mean, well, what he certainly seems to mean. Because, apparently, we need to filter James through Paul, due to Paul being “the” NT theologian. It strikes me as obviously false that Paul is “the” NT theologian. That isn’t to be meant as a slight to his contributions! But surely the mere fact that he was more prolific or that his writings were better preserved does not necessitate that we filter everything through his theology. Do we need to filter Jesus through Paul?

      For what it’s worth, I do think Paul and James can be reconciled to a certain extent. James claims that faith and works are inextricably linked, not that you can gain your salvation through works. Different concepts. Likewise, Paul in Galatians 5:6 claims that the only thing that counts is “faith working through love” (ESV). Yes, that’s right… a *working faith* is the only thing that counts. Faith without works is not faith at all.

    • JB Chappell

      Nevertheless, let’s not ignore the fact that James seems to deliberately use Paul’s example of Abraham to emphasize the opposite side of the coin. Perhaps those questioning why someone would set “scripture against scripture” need look no further than James and Paul.

      James would certainly seem to emphasize the ethical nature of Christianity more so than Paul. And not just in a casual way. Yes, it is possible that this could entirely be the result of James merely addressing the concerning matter at hand in his congregation. Even Martin Luther suspected James felt this way. But, of course, it is equally possible that James felt Paul’s emphasis was wrong. It could also be both. Those who would filter James through Paul can simply hand-wave this away, but I suspect this is more due to preference than it is due to any justification. But, to be fair, I also suspect there is more to CMP’s justification than just his few-sentence blurb. And he is honest enough to admit that there is another way to look at it, even if he disagrees.

    • samuel

      May you preach the Gospel to many people Shane. This whole discussion encouraged me to read Galatians again. May we all be encouraged to do so. I also pulled out my copy of the God who Justifies by James White (have you all read it?) as there is detailed discussion of the passages in Galatians that seem to anticipate this discussion well. I’d encourage Mr. Patton to look at this issue like he looks at the Trinity: doesn’t he look at all the passages systematically? If you were reasoning with an JW or a UPC Modalist, wouldn’t you take all the passages about the identity of Christ and present a systematic portrait? You would say ‘this other view of Jesus is another Jesus, it crosses the line,’ right? Presenting the two natures & two wills of Christ in one person? Why can’t we do the same with defining the true gospel/false gospel? I pray for you as you consider our questions and encourage you to keep looking at Galatians.
      It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.

    • JB Chappell

      Sorry, I got my sentences jumbled above. When referring to Martin Luther, I meant to say that even he suspected that James disagreed with Paul, or was even attempting to refute him.

    • Steve Martin

      Christ commanded the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy they are not add-on’s.

      Christ knows our hearts and He will judge who is saved.

      Roman Catholics are Christ +…that is for sure. But so are most Christians. Whether it be ‘one’s decision for Christ’, or particular fingertips having to touch clergy (the historic episcopate, or an inerrant text, or one’s seriousness and cooperation…all add-on’s to Christ.

      And Christ can save in spite of it all. Will He? Only He knows the answer.

    • Chris Nelson

      I have a relative who recently paid for a Mass for a loved one. Indulgences are real. The RCC has doubled down on its blasphemy and heresy since the Reformation. The Mass is a blasphemy all by itself, as it rejects Christs sufficiency. This article is just post modern gobbledygook. Just as C.S. Lewis begat Rob Bell, so this jibberish was begat by the same lies we’ve heard forever, “did God really say.”

    • Shane Dodson

      “Christ commanded the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy they are not add-on’s.”

      Neither of those justify us before a holy God.

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • Greg.

      @ Fr.Robert..

      I can myself, be critical of Rome and Catholicism, but I will never call them a negative cult! As they preach the biblical Christ: the God-Man, and Savior & Lord, etc.
      Btw, we had a Reformation, not a reformulation of the Church. No Radical Reformation for me! As Melanchton, I can accept the Bishop of Rome, but not the “papacy” in toto. And as I have said, they do have certain non-biblical (Judaistic) doctrines, but they do have the Christ of the Gospel!

      As I said in my post above I was saved in Ireland and was brought up in the RC religion of which I had no choice. The RC may preach Jesus but he is made null and void by their traditions and extrabiblical teachings concerning salvation, redemption, mediation, works, false worship of saints and angels, false priesthood, forgiveness through the intercession of a false priesthood, false depiction of sanctification and sainthood, false depiction of baptism (believers only should be baptised), false communion (administered to anyone born into the RC church whether they truly believe or not, non addressing of sin (e.g a priest will marry people who are living together), non fellowship with other RC members outside of the mass, false depiction of celibacy, false understanding of being born again and receiving the spirit. And you say RC is not a cult???!!!

      And may I ask respectfully Robert why you yourself are an ordained priest? Can you show me such a thing from scripture?

    • The Biblical Sacraments are hardly add-ons, but the will and purpose of God! Neglect of them in their proper place certainly robs the Christian life! This has somewhat been the bane of many Protestant & so-called Evangelical Churches. We can see that St. Paul even sees their foreshadows & figures in the OT, 1 Cor. 10: 1-4.

    • @Greg: This is not the place (blog) to respond to my place as an Anglican priest/presbyter, sadly however I get this question quite often, from “fundamentalists” on the blogs.

      And the RCC has several doctrinal ideas and practices that I myself don’t believe or follow. But again, no historical Church is without poor, sometimes wrong, and even false doctrine. Note the “emergent church”!

    • Greg.

      Re-my post above, the first paragraph is from a post by Fr Robert’s and should be within quotation marks. Apologies.

    • Greg.

      @Fr Robert,

      I believe my question to you is very relevant as you are commentating here as a representative of Christ and in a form of priesthood that I would contend is unscriptural. There is only one Fundamental view of priesthood in the scriptures and that is the priesthood of all believers. One does not need to be ordained and given a title and have oneself addressed as father as in meaning a holy father and with a need for a uniform which depicts an upper echelon of priesthood.

      I say all this for the benefit of those who have escaped the cage of religion and who have come into a freedom with Christ and may be vulnerable as yet to being persuaded that any alternative to the priesthood depicted within scripture is acceptable which it is not. Any religion which depicts a priest to be a special rank over and above any true believer is a false priesthood I contend.

      Secondly your affirmation it seems that the RC church has the essential truth about Christ and is therefore ok is misleading. I have named several things above which should clearly show that those teachings of the RC church are fundamental to it’s very existence. And if one does not hold to them then one can not be a Roman Catholic any longer. Tell can a RC priest dedicate the mass to Mary and the saints and state that we(Roman Catholics) rely on their prayers and intercsessions for us before God?

      And this priest, any! RC priest is supposedly born again and has the holy spirit?

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      “When missing Mass without a valid excuse is a mortal sin that can send one to hell if left unconfessed is part of one’s system, no matter how one words it, grace is not in the building.”

      Can one go to Hell for disobeying Christ?

      Can one be saved by faith if one is slothful about one’s faith?

      Does faith have to be “living” or is intellectual assent sufficient?

      Is the problem with “confession” and if it is, what if the believer actually believes that Christ meant what was reported in John 20:23? Is such a belief within the realm of permissible “private interpretation”? If not, why not?

      Was Augustine – the person the Reformers relied on for their understanding of grace – just having a bad day when he wrote, “In the first place, we feel that we should advise the faithful that they would endanger the salvation of their souls if they actd on the false assurance that faith alone is sufficient for salvation or that they need not perform good works in order to be saved.” On Faith and Works, 21.

      Does it not take grace to have a living faith?

      My point is to suggest that there is a deeper nuance to the issue than the strawman characterization about going to Hell because one has missed mass without a valid excuse, i.e., choosing a worldly and trivial end at the expense of worshipping God may point to the absence of a living faith in a rather more direct way than the issue is formulated in the initial statement.

    • @Greg: I can see that you are somewhat ignorant of the history of the Anglican Communion! I am myself one that believes in the ‘priesthood of all believers’, but that does not negate the place of Christian ministry, and the pastor-teacher, etc. and here is the NT “presbyter”. For the Low Church Anglican the term “priest” is seen more within the biblical word and place of “presbyter”. I am not a Roman Catholic or a High Church Anglican priest. But, I am a classic type Anglican, which is historically both “catholic” and “reformed”. And I am also Reformed and Calvinist. But again, in the history of Anglicanism, there are actually three places historically in ministry and belief, i.e. The Evangelical or so-called ‘Low Church’ (where I am at), the High Church, or Anglo-Catholics, and then the Broad Church, or more liberal. Sometimes these aspects bleed together, but not so much in my case.

      As to the term “Father”, St. Paul used such in his statement about the pastoral ministry to the Corinthians, (1 Cor. 4:15).

      Btw, if you were raised in Ireland, you should know the majority are Roman Catholic, but as in Belfast, and that area, there are certainly Protestant Irish also. And then there is the Church of Ireland, which is generally classic Anglican Protestant, being both “catholic” and “reformed”. But there too, many are somewhat High Church, etc. And of course there are some Presbyterians, Methodists, etc. And too some Independent type Christians.

    • And btw Greg, I have been a ‘High Church’ Anglican “priest”, in my long Anglican history, but I am not so any longer. And I have also been close to the EO, or Orthodoxy in my past. Check out my wee little blog, to see some of my history and belief, etc. 🙂

    • Carrie


      “Can one go to Hell for disobeying Christ?

      Can one be saved by faith if one is slothful about one’s faith?

      Does faith have to be “living” or is intellectual assent sufficient?”

      1. One goes to Hell for rejecting God. One can disobey God but by way of conviction of the Holy Spirit feel sorrowful and and repentant. One Who has rejected God has rejected the Holy Spirit and thus does not fall under His conviction. Disobedience is not a total an utter rejection of God. And when we are disobedient we have an advocate with the Father who steps in on our behalf, and covers our unrighteousness with His complete and perfect righteousness. Which is why if one misses mass, or Sunday service, they are not in danger of hell fire.

      2. If one is slothful about their faith, their faith should be in question. If they are not actively living out what they profess to believe in then there is a red flag. This is why Paul tells us to examine ourselves to see that we are in the faith.

      3. Faith is both intellectual and volitional. We trust in Christ and act upon that trust. If we are not acting upon that trust then … (see answer #2.)

      If anyone think it right to trust in Christ’s work and their own good works as a means of being justified before a holy God, they have been deceived.

      Repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation. Once we have truly trusted the living Christ, it will then transfer over into a living faith.

    • EricW

      Does it not strike you as odd that in your entire post on “the Gospel” you never once cite or reference any of The Gospels or what Jesus said was the Gospel?

      In The Gospels (i.e., Κατα Μαθθαιον, Κατα Μαρκον, Κατα Λουκαν, Κατα Ιωαννην – i.e., THE GOSPEL According to Matthew, According to Mark, According to Luke, According to John … because they each tell what THE GOSPEL is) Jesus talks about “the Gospel” and “the Gospel of the Kingdom” and what it is and what it means and what one’s response to it and acceptance of it involves and what one’s salvation in relation to it involves.

      Yet you never once cite or reference what Jesus said is The Gospel, what Mark explicitly calls The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

    • Peter Sean Bradley


      I appreciate your attempt at an answer, but I think you are making things easy for yourself, as was the case with Mr. Patton.

      I should not have to remind anyone that one doesn’t commit mortal sins by accident. “Mortal sin” is not the default setting. For there to be a mortal sin, the intellect must perceive and judge the morality of the act, and the will must freely elect it, and it must concern a “grave matter.”

      I take it that everyone would agree that disobeying Christ is a grave matter. So, if one assumes that (a) do this in memory of me and (b) those who hear you hear me means going to church on Sunday, the issue is not missing church without a “valid excuse” but one’s knowledge and intent in missing church.

      Can one never be in danger of going to hell for missing church? What if a person says, I know that Christ commanded me to go to church on Sunday and receive him in the Eucharist, but I’m not going because while I have faith in him, I just don’t want to go because I want to watch football.

      Are you so certain, that such a person is in no danger of going to Hell? I’m not. I would question that person’s faith as shown by their works.

      Would you counsel that person to change his ways?

      If so, why?

      The uncharitable characterizations of Catholic belief that spring up in these Protestant kaffeklatches about how Catholics are not saved are uncharitable. They are a kind of pharasaic gossip, rather than an attempt to understand,…

    • Greg.


      I appreciate the time you took to explain the Anglican community to me. But! I am sorry to say that whether it is high or low or whatever it is still a religious system in the sense of manmade tradition. If you are saying that because you are in some kind of a teaching/elder role you should formally be given the title “Father” and introduce yourself and your role as that of being a priest then should one who is a prophet or evangelist also be called “Father” and have a formal ordination?

      In Corinthians 1:4 Paul was challenging their following of certain leaders over others. He pointed out that this was nonesense and that he was like a father to them through the gospel. He taught them and corrected them. But the term “father” was a euphimism and not an office. He was not saying he gave their faith birth but that he was a protector and teacher until they grew up in their faith. And Paul was specifically sent to them. Likewise Timothy was a teacher but was never addressed as or given the title “Father” such a title as a biblical office such as “elder” does not exist.

      I am afraid to say the Robert that what any religious system that uses formal ordination to confer priesthood is not in step with the depiction of priesthood in the scriptures. If you are a teacher and an elder than you should simply call yourself as such. But you cannot..because you are tied to a manmade system of religion. Anglicanism perpetuates false religion…to me.

    • Greg.

      So the question remains… “Does the Roman Catholic gospel save?” So here is my challenge. Can anyone articulate the Roman Catholic gospel?? i.e the Roman Catholic version of the good news about Christ and how one receives eternal life, how one passes over from death to life never to see decay?

    • Fernando

      Hi… are you all sure that Rom. 3:21 implies “justification by faith alone”? Maybe I have a different text here because in it I can only read that there’s no justification outside of faith…

    • Fernando

      Sorry once again… do you think that RC religion defends justification by faith and works?

    • Carrie

      Peter, I am certain that anyone who has fully trusted Christ as savior, can miss church for a football game. I don’t agree with their actions, but I don’t think them to be damnable.

      That is grace though. True grace.

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      “Can anyone articulate the Roman Catholic gospel??”

      Well, in one sense there are four of them, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”

      In another sense, there is only one gospel, i.e., Jesus Christ himself.

      “…the Roman Catholic version of the good news about Christ and how one receives eternal life, how one passes over from death to life never to see decay?”

      Presumably, the answer includes what Jesus taught, such as Luke 18 and Matthew 25.

      If by “gospel” we mean a “bumper sticker” slogan, then the closest thing might be “faith working through love.”

      Augustine suggests a longer answer in On Faith and Works 27 when discussing the rich young man:

      “It should be evident to our opponents that he did not tell him to believe and be baptized – according to them a man would not have to do any more than this to obtain eternal life. On the contrary, He gave them precepts of morality which, certainly, one cannot observe unless he has faith also. For we do not want anyone to think that, because the Lord says nothing here about faith, we say and maintain therfore that it is not necessary to instruct a person who desires to obtain eternal life in anything but morals. Both are necessary, morals and faith, for they are mutually connected, as I said before. A man who does not love God does not love his neighbor; and he who does not love his neighbor does not love God.”

      It doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker and is more complicated than faith alone, but it pays…

    • @Greg: Indeed there is no such thing even in Christianity, which does not touch and include “Man” or humanity! This is certainly one of the reasons that Christ Himself became man and incarnate, of course “sin apart”! Your arguments are circular, for the world we live in is sinful, including the historical Church! So if you keep “separating” yourself, you must needs as Paul said, “then must ye needs go out of the world.” (1 Cor. 5:10) Btw, I am not unaware of this kind of “fundamentalist” Christianity, as my greatgram was among the PB’s or Plymouth Brethren (so-called ‘Kelly Brethren’ to be exact). And surely they have had some profound Christians…JND (John Nelson Darby, William Kelly, etc.) My last name is Darby and my middle is Kelly, but no relation. 😉 Though JND was a Irish Anglican priest at one time!

      And there can be no false religion really with the “Biblical” Christ, for it is HE we worship and are tethered (bonded), if we are real Christians! GOD, the Triune God, makes and sustains the Christian, and the Christian life!

    • Peter Sean Bradley


      Is your position really that a person who wilfully and intentionally disobeys Christ with respect to a grave matter is in no danger of damnation?

      That should be a very easy answer, and the answer should be “No, no one who disobeys Christ can be said to have faith in Christ.” Ironically, since I’m quoting him, Augustine was dealing with your position in On Faith and Works, and he concluded that “they would endanger the salvation of their souls if they acted on the false assurance that faith alone is sufficient and that they need not perform good works in order to be saved.” (Augustine’s issue was whether remarried people could be baptized. His answer was “no” because he felt that no one could affirm faith in Christ and reject his teachings.)

      I think you are making your life easy by saying “Gee, it’s just one time going to church and it’s only a football game. Heck, I do that all the time, so who am I to judge him.”

      But what I asked you to assume was that this person really knows that the obligation to worship God each and every week is a really, really big deal.

      If you make the assumption that worshipping God is a “grave matter” that is commanded by God, can you see that an intentional and deliberate choice to disobey God might put a person in danger of Hell?

      Obviously, if you disagree with the gravity of the matter, you might come up with a different answer. But what if you are wrong? What if it is a grave matter? Is there then no…

    • And again Greg note we are “baptised” in the “name” singular of “the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19) Always the mystery of the Triune God, One in Three, Three in One! Sadly, so many professing Christians are ignorant of their Baptism! A profound ‘sign & seal’ of their salvation itself! And we can note, this is a “covenantal” act/action, and of itself does not save, (Heb. 10: 29). But, surely we must not take lightly the sacrament of Baptism!

      *And just a note, the R. Catholic Church does surely baptise in the name of the Trinity of God! Do you? And yes, I believe in padeo-baptism!

    • Carrie

      Peter, all sin is a grave matter.

      Not all sin is equal, but all sin is a grave matter.

      Which is why no amount of good we can do, can negate the rancid darkness of our sin. Which is why we need a savior.

      We don’t merely need a savior to give us the ability to do enough good to be saved. We don’t need a savior to infuse us with grace gas, to fill up the tank for us to run on.

      We need someone to completely and wholly stand before us on our behalf to defend us. We need someone who is perfect and right. We need God himself to appease His own sense of righteousness. Which is why we need Christ.

      If we have Him, when we do sin, it is His righteousness that covers us when we need forgiveness. It is by His righteousness we can even begin to ask forgiveness. It is not by our own.

      So when we fail to desire to worship God as we should we should 1. Ask ourselves why – examine ourselves to see that we are in the faith more or less and 2. Find forgiveness where it is given freely and 3. Strive to cease from such behavior.

      Grave matter…. Peter, all our sin is grave before a perfect God. Which is why our less than perfect works can never undo the graveness of our wretched sinfulness.

      This is not an argument against doing works… it is not an argument against living a godly life … it is an argument for who truly justifies us. Jesus Christ, Him alone … not ourselves.

      Rome has it wrong. And, Peter, that really sucks!

    • @Fernando: Yes, I believe the RCC teaches ‘faith & works’. As in fact so does the Reformed theology & churches, but they do so with the Law/Gospel distinction! Roman has the doctrine of “merit”!

    • Ouch Carrie! lol But I agree! 🙂

    • And btw, just to jump into the Indulgence question, here is something that really does “suck”! Sorry, that system needs to go! Sad, the papacy under Pope Paul the VII, thought about getting rid of it? but they did not. Note John Paul I’s affirmation of it. Sad, and wrong to my mind! I don’t see a bit how this thing can be defended!

    • *VI

    • Peter Sean Bradley


      You say that “all sin is a grave matter.”


      Does Jesus stand in for those who do not have faith in him?

      Might it be that by sinning, one rejects God?

      Could it be that intentionally, willfully disobeying God is – pace Augustine – inconsistent with a living faith in God?

      I’m not seeing any engagement with my point – and that of Augustine and the Catholic Church – that morality and faith are two sides of a single coin. To crib Augustine:

      “…morals and faith […] are mutually connected, as I said before. A man who does not love God does not love his neighbor; and he who does not love his neighbor does not love God.”

      Also, you know what really sucks – being on the side of the wrong side at Christ’s last judgment because one didn’t pay attention to Augustine’s warning:

      “In the first place, we feel that we should advise the faithful that they would endanger the salvation of their souls if they acted on the false assurance that faith alone is sufficient for salvation or that they need not perform good works in order to be saved.” On Faith and Works, 21.

      If as you say, all sin is a serious matter, and if intentionally and deliberately disobeying God in one thing is a rejection of God, and if Christ doesn’t intervene for those who reject him, I’m thinking that the guy who deliberately stayed hom to watch football knowing he was disobeying God would be in some serious trouble.

      Even if he believed that faith alone is sufficient…

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Pope Paul the VII???

      John Paul I was thinking of getting rid of indulgences during his 30 day pontificate???? Evidence please?

      Also, having a Mass said for the dead is not what is meant by an “indulgence.” Certainly, a donation is made when the mass is requested, but it is not a matter of paying for the mass. People are rememberd and prayed for in Masses all the time gratis.

      Admittedly, the idea of indulgences and praying for the dead as a way of helping them in their sanctification have common roots. Roots found in the Bible:

      2 Maccabees 12:43 And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection:
      2 Maccabees 12:44 For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.
      2 Maccabees 12:45 And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.

      The only point, really, that I hope to get across here is that a prudent critic ought to distinguish between “indulgences” and “praying for the dead,” and not be so uncouth as to suggest that Masses are bought like a commodity, any more than good tithe paying Protestants “buy” prayers when they tithe…

    • *Of course that was Pope Paul the VI, and John Paul II, my typing “sucks”! 😉

    • Greg.


      Robert you said: @Greg: Indeed there is no such thing even in Christianity, which does not touch and include “Man” or humanity! This is certainly one of the reasons that Christ Himself became man and incarnate, of course “sin apart”! Your arguments are circular, for the world we live in is sinful, including the historical Church! So if you keep “separating” yourself, you must needs as Paul said, “then must ye needs go out of the world.” (1 Cor. 5:10) Btw, I am not unaware of this kind of “fundamentalist” Christianity,

      Robert…what do you mean by my arguments are circular? and what are you implying that I am “Separating” myself?? I do not understand your use of 1 Cor 5:10 in relation to me. I certainly do associate with unbelievers and do not cut myself off from them as Paul was saying we should not do.

      But as far as separating myself from the teachings of the RC church I am a million miles away. You do not seem to answer the questions I ask which is to justify from scripture an ordained office of priesthood. I also named doctrines of the RC church which I believe are unscriptural and which need to be justified from scripture for me to accept them. These doctrines are essential for salvation according to Roman Cannon Law.
      Also I did not ask you about what baptism is about I asked in general about the RC churches interpretation of what baptism is about and what it effects. I think Believers full well understand what their baptism is about as I have…

    • Btw, we Anglicans know the “tithe” is a OT injunction!

    • Greg.

      @Peter Sean Bradley

      Peter I didn’t ask what Jesus taught or what it says in the four gospels I asked what the roman Catholic church says Jesus taught, “the roman Catholic version” I believe I said.

      In other words how does the R.C church believe one receives eternal life? Lets start here Peter…is it confered at infant baptism? does one enter into a life with Christ when one is baptised as a baby? because the R.C church instructs it followers that this is what they should do with their children in order for them to enter in to the life of the church?

      So yes..Jesus said to be baptised so is this how the R.C church interprets what he said?

      Here is what scripture says about receiving eternal life and becoming a child of God.

      John 1:12;13 “12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

      Not born of Natural descent: “I am a Roman catholic and therefore a Christian because my parents were”

      Nor of human decision” I just woke up one morning and decided I was a Christian”

      Nor of a husbands will: ” Well my father decided I was going to become a Christian so I was baptised as a baby into the Christian church”

      In other words Peter no one can decide for you…not even yourself. The Holy spirit convicts you that you are a sinner and your heart calls out to Jesus and he answers you…

    • @Greg: Your “methods” are simply “fundamentalist”! And I am not a Roman Catholic “priest”. I will let the Roman Catholics here speak for their Church and doctrine (though I am not unaware of Catholicism myself). I consider your approach towards the RCC, to be archaic somewhat, and just completely negative. We must always beware of bigotry in what we disagree with! Truth is not our truth, but God’s truth, wherever we find it!

    • Steve Martin

      Shane Dodson,

      How do you know that we are justified in our Baptisms?

      Acts 2:38 says that we receive forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit in Baptism. 1st Peter says that “Baptism now saves you”

      In Galatians, Paul says that “those of us who have been baptized have put on Christ”.

      You are pretty cock sure of yourself. But the Scriptures bear out a different reality.

      Like I said before. Our Lord is NOT into empty religious ritual. He commanded Baptism (and the Supper), and He’s at work there…for us.

    • Steve Martin

      ‘NOT justified’, is what I meant to type.

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Fr. Robert,

      That’s good to hear. I felt for a moment like I had dropped into an “alternate reality” where perhaps Luther died in that lightning storm or Mohammed became a Christian saint. (See Turtledove, Harry.)

      I will still dissent from your claim that Paul VI thought about “getting rid” of indulgences. The concept of indulgences – apart from the myth or any abuse of the system – far too biblical for anyone to get rid of it.

      But, hey, if you have a source, I’d like to see it.

    • Peter Sean Bradley


      You initially asked about the “Gospel.” I answered that question.

      I have seen “gospel” used by Protestants to refer to “salvation by faith alone” and “Christ and him crucified” as well as other things.

      The gospel strictly speaking is the entirety of Jesus’ message, which includes his life. That’s why the Lord’s Prayer can be said to be a “summary of the Gospel.” I stand by that as “the Gospel.”

      But if you want a bumper sticker slogan for the Catholic position on salvation, “faith working through love” works.

      Obviously, therefore, one does not become a child of God because of natural descent or human action. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach that.

      It teaches that “faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification.”

      The Catholic Church also teaches that “Faith, unless hope and charity be added to it, neither unites man perfectly with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body.”

      You undoubtedly will agree with that when you think about. (See “Sanctification.”)

      Concerning baptism, it sounds like the epitome of the free gift of the grace needed for faith which is beginning of human salvation.

    • Carrie

      Peter you said:
      “Carrie, You say that ‘all sin is a grave matter.’ Why?”

      I say:
      Because sin is unrighteous. Sin is evil. Sin is contrary to God’s perfection and His holiness.

      Peter said:
      “Does Jesus stand in for those who do not have faith in him?”

      I say:
      Well yes and no.

      Yes because anytime we as Christians sin, it shows a lack of faith. All sin is rooted in un-belief. Also, Scripture states that He is faithful even when we are not, for He can not deny Himself. He remains faithful to those who genuinely belong to Him. And His Holy Spirit brings about conviction on the hearts of believers to where they are prompted to repent. (In my case, on a daily basis.) The work of the Holy Spirit on the heart of the believer is evidence of God remaining faithful even when we fail to be.

      Now I said yes but I also will say no.

      No because when John was explaining that if we sin we have an advocate with the Father, he was explaining that to Christians. So that means for those who do not have faith in Him, they lack any representation.

      And when I said those who do not have faith in Him I mean those who have never trusted in Him, those who have 1. never had knowledge of the truths of Christ 2. Believed those truths to be, true and 3. Willfully invested trust in Christ (as in trusted in Him alone for their justification – which entails a realization that Christ’s righteousness is the only righteousness that can possibly satisfy God’s holiness.)

      That faith is the faith of a believer. So yes Christ stands in for believers but does not stand in for the unbeliever. Christ stands in for believers who sin (exhibit a level of unbelief) but Christ does not stand in for unbelievers who are sinners (those who never exhibited true faith in Christ.)

      Peter said:
      “Might it be that by sinning, one rejects God?”

      I say:
      Yes. I think what I have said above indicates I believe sinning is rejecting God.

      Peter said:
      “Could it be that intentionally, willfully disobeying God is – pace Augustine – inconsistent with a living faith in God?”

      I say:
      Yes absolutely. And I don’t simply agree because Augustine said it. Paul said it in Romans 7 (and elsewhere.)

      Peter said:
      “I’m engagement with my point – and that of Augustine and the Catholic Church – that morality and faith are two sides of a single coin not seeing any.”

      I say:
      I have no reason to engage with you on this. I explicitly stated that I am not arguing against doing good works or arguing against living a godly life. You are putting these quotes in from Augustine as though that somehow argues against my view.

      I will say that if Augustine genuinely believed his justification was based on anything other than the perfect work of Christ, then he was genuinely wrong. But if Augustine means to say that works are a part of our salvation (as in our sanctification) then I have no disagreement with that. I can’t force my understanding of sanctification on Augustine’s writings however. I am simply ignorant of his motives in writing what he wrote as I am not sufficiently read in that area.

      I believe fully we are too do good works, Peter. We are to live godly lives. We are also to examine ourselves to see that we are in the faith. Good works are the evidence of faith. They aren’t the cause of it. Good works are a result of our justification not the cause of it. Christ is the cause of our justification, and the works that stem from it simply show the world that we love Him and eagerly desire to follow Him and live a life for Him. We are to live a life worthy of the calling. We however are not Him and are not perfect, so when we fail (and believe you me, we do and will) thank God for Jesus.

      Peter said:
      If as you say, all sin is a serious matter, and if intentionally and deliberately disobeying God in one thing is a rejection of God, and if Christ doesn’t intervene for those who reject him, I’m thinking that the guy who deliberately stayed hom to watch football knowing he was disobeying God would be in some serious trouble.

      Even if he believed that faith alone is sufficient…

      I say:
      Yes he is in serious trouble. We all are. Which is why Paul says oh who will deliver me from this body of death. Peter, we are being saved from sin daily. But it is through Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit on our hearts that is doing it. We are not being saved by our good works. We please God when we do good (as Scripture says our obedience pleases Him.) We however do not satisfy His wrath. Only Christ can do that. And he did. On the cross.

    • Dozie

      Who in the world said Protestantism or Evangelicalism is Christian? It is almost pitiful. It is close to Easter and while Christians are busy doing what Christians have always done during this time of the years – “christians by name only” are over here being occupied with absolute nonesense and being scared to death with the idea of actually being christian.

      Today is Good Friday but going by your “church” or your “christianity”, the world would not know this Friday means something to Christians – shame on you Protestants.

    • C Michael Patton


    • Carrie

      And Dozie what exactly is it you are doing? Dropping in to heap scorn on a system you disagree with.

      What is being discussed is at the very heart of Good Friday and what better day to stand up for the truth of what the crucifixion actually means.

    • samuel

      Thanks Carrie for the uplifting words. The Lord Jesus shines truth out from error so clearly – may God shine the light of the Gospel of grace into all hearts.
      Peter, it seems unlikely that you agree with everything Augustine wrote, correct? You are comparing his writings to – what your organization currently teaches, right?
      I’ll compare his writings to the writings of the Holy Spirit. And yours, the council of Trent and the CCC too. We are not ignorant of the quotes you produce from your organization’s writings. And No, I do not agree with the bad news you are preaching. You might think that trying to recruit people to your organization shows great zeal, but look at Romans 10. What is your rightousness before the all-Holy One? See my previous posts – I’ll pray for you that the Lord will open your eyes like Lydia, granting repentence and the gift of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God crucified for sinners, and raised gloriously from the dead. All who believed are justified from all things, everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. And yes, the only loving, gracious thing I can do is to give you the command that Paul (Acts 17) gave to all men: repentence towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord open many eyes this weekend to see the crucified Christ, Who is the Lord our Righteousness.

    • Chris Nelson

      C.S. Lewis denied the gospel at every point.

    • Chris Nelson

      The Mass itself is a blasphemy. It is a re-sacrifice of Christ and denies His sufficiency. Purgatory likewise denies Christ’s work on the cross.

    • Danny Crowder

      I believe the Gospel is proclaimed, believed, and denied from among RC, EO, and Protestantism. If it’s proclaimed, what Jesus fulfilled for us through his obedience, death, and resurrection is considered the foundation for our justification, sanctification, and glorification. If it’s believed, it’s because of God’s grace and mercy we have been made disciples of Christ. If it’s denied, it’s because of remaining dead in trespasses and sins.

    • Now come the raven anti-Catholics, which simply don’t have logic or truth on their side! Very sad! Has anybody on this side read a line of Melanchton?

    • @Chris: This statement is just your so-called theological (or really lack thereof) bigotry! C.S. Lewis may not have been a Christian fundamentalist, but anyone who has read some of his “depth”, certainly sees Christ! Wake up and smell the coffee!

      Btw, I love coffee! 😉

    • “Christ died, not for valuable men, but for sinners – human souls whose value, out of relation to God, is zero.” (C.S. Lewis, WG 115)

    • Chris Nelson

      C.S. Lewis denied penal substitutionary atonement, he proclaimed his belief in Purgatory and was an inclusivist/universalist who believed a merciful Buddhist could find salvation with out Christ. This is a whole sale rejection of the Gospel and the Mass is still, blasphemy, resacrificing my blessed Savior every day. It is just the Galatian heresy all over.

    • @Chris: Actually, this describes many Christians theologically today, even so-called the emergents, etc. Thankfully it is CHRIST whom saves the sinner, and not really even our best or correct understanding of it. Though of course we want to be theologically correct as closely as possible, but again Christianity is Christ and not gnosticsim (just knowledge)! As St. Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).

      I am myself, much more conservative biblically and theologically than many of my fellow Anglicans & British Christians, but this certainly does not save me more, or really make me better. This was one of the problems with the Judaizers. I can certainly appreciate for standing close to orthodoxy myself, I love the doctrine of God, and theology, etc. I am in fact myself very creedal and Trinitarian. But again, salvation is Christ, and Christ Incarnate is always central in Christology, and presses the rest of the work of Christ!

    • Btw, I am not a sacerdotalist myself, but I do believe strongly in the “mystery” of God! And our place is to be faithful as stewards of Christ therein, (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      C. Michael Patton: “When it comes to the Gospel, I believe Calvinist Evangelical Protestants have the “rightest” points of view”

      In an Olympic Year, this is a Gold Medal statement!

    • There is a “rightest” ‘ordo salutis’ here, Protestant Evangelical Calvinists. 😉

    • Peter Sean Bradley


      We started with the statement that a person missing church could never be in danger of Hell. I offered a scenario where a person’s decision not to go to church was clear disobedience of God on a grave matter. You agreed that such a decision is inconsistent with a living faith. If this person does not have a living faith in God, then, presumably, you will agree that this person does not have a saving faith.

      You beg the question by assuming that this person is still has “faith” in some sense. This contradicts your prior points that sins are “grave” and offend God’s perfection.

      Sinners can be returned to justice through repentance and amendment, but if the person doesn’t repent, then the person is continuing to choose his sin over God and deny the living faith required for salvation.

      You can save a “faith only” system by building in epicycles such as “Once saved, always saved” or “faith is an intellectual adherence.” Read Augustine on the problems with that.

    • JB Chappell

      So, for the hardliners (I would say “fundamentalist”, but I don’t want to stereotype), it would appear that we need to:

      1. Ignore what Jesus referred to as “gospel”
      2. Ignore how Jesus said to enter the Kingdom
      3. Ignore the early sermons in Acts
      4. Cite only Paul
      5. Ignore early church disagreement (1 Cor. 10, Acts 15, Gal. 2) as evidence that brothers & sisters in Christ can reasonably disagree with Paul on some issues.
      6. Ignore Paul’s warning not focus on him (Was Paul crucified for you?” – 1 Cor. 10:13)
      7. Ignore the agreement on those things which Paul considers “of first importance” – 1 Cor. 15 (which certainly implies that everything else is of *less* importance).
      8. Ignore James, who appears to be directly addressing Paul (or at least his theology)
      9. Denounce all who disagree as heretics, including Augustine and C.S. Lewis. (would they have been considered an “anathema” by Paul – or just “severed from Christ”, I wonder?)

    • JB Chappell

      Call me crazy, but by “Christians” we are followers of Christ first, not Paul. I would suggest to those whose theology centers around Paul that if you could throw everything out of the NT except for Paul’s letters and have your theology remain unaffected, then you are quite possibly closer to the camp of Marcion than you should be comfortable with. Marcion believed that *only* Paul got the gospel right. So, I wonder if some commenting here would feel the same way?

      Did Jesus have a correct understanding of the “gospel”? He seemed to place an awful lot of emphasis on deeds. Is it possible he even declared the sufficiency of the Law of Moses…? (Mark 10:17-27; Luke 16:17).

      Did Peter have a correct understanding of the “gospel”? Then why was he still an observant Jew (Acts 10)?

      Did James? Then why did he understand works to justify us? (James 2:24)

      Did Jude (brother of Christ!)? Then why was he worried about “keeping yourselves in the Love of God” and “waiting”…

    • JB Chappell

      Last sentence should have ended with “waiting” for His Mercy

    • Shane Dodson

      Did Paul write his epistles under the inspiration of the Triune God?

      Please…enough of this fallacious “Paul vs. Jesus” nonsense.

      I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. By extension, I am under the authority of His word…which includes Paul’s epistles.

      If you are truly a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, you are, too.

      If you are not, then please repent and believe in the Gospel.

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • JB Chappell

      As for Paul, what was his understanding of the “gospel”? As far as I can tell, he explicitly summaries the “gospel” (using that term) in three spots: Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 15, and 2 Timothy 2. In both cases, although phrase differently, it is essentially boiled down to: Christ died and rose again for our sins.

      In 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (ESV), Paul specifically says that the “gospel” saves us, “…*if* you hold fast to the word I preached to you — *unless* you believed in vain.” [emphasis added]

      “IF”?! “UNLESS”?! Sounds to me like RC caveats! And I’m pretty sure that RC’s preach Jesus’ death & resurrection for our sins. That – according to Paul – is the gospel that saves us.

      In any case, I look forward to celebrating Jesus’ resurrection tomorrow. And I know I will be joined in that celebration with my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters – even if we don’t worship in the same building, and even if I disagree with them on a lot of other points (as I do with…

    • JB Chappell

      OK, character count is definitely off. Ugh. Happy Easter everybody!

    • @JB Chappell: This is certainly an overstatement! The theology of St. Paul in many ways is a spiritual complement of St. John’s, and vice versa! To miss the Hellenistic Greco-Roman backdrop of John’s Gospel, is a sure loss! Btw, it is here I would recommend the older book by the Brit and English Roman Catholic, Robert Sencourt: Saint Paul, Envoy Of Grace. There has been far too much division between the Pauline and the Johannine, the two really do have the same basic Christology!

    • Shane Dodson

      JB…if your heart were to give out on you tonight (or whatever time it is where you’re at right now)…

      Where would you spend eternity?

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • JB Chappell

      Shane, are people who are “inspired” by God *infallible*? Did Paul claim to be infallible?

      But in this case, I don’t think this debate matters. The fact of the matter is, inerrant scripture or not, those who restrict themselves to referencing only one source – in the Bible or elsewhere – are more likely to be wrong.

    • Shane Dodson

      “those who restrict themselves to referencing only one source – in the Bible or elsewhere – are more likely to be wrong.”

      A red herring, since nobody here is doing that.

      Apparently, it’s okay for the RCC to embrace the person of Jesus Christ and His historicity, but deny His sacrifice as a full and complete payment for their sins,

      Talk about restricting oneself…

      In Christ,

      – Shane

    • JB Chappell

      Fr. Robert, what exactly is an overstatement? Don’t think for a second that I don’t think that Paul, Jesus, John, etc. can’t be compatible in many ways. The main points I am trying to get across is that

      1. Those trying to condemn RC’s to hell are being awfully selective in their quotations
      2. For all their unity on other issues, the early Church clearly had tension disagreed on some points, even key ones.

      Even as they did so, however, it doesn’t appear they were condemning each other to hell (with perhaps the one disputed exception in Galatians). Instead, it appears they met and tried to work out their differences. Apparently, this is a lost art, as we now simply resort to excommunication, condemning the other party to hell, or starting our own fork church.

    • JB Chappell

      Shane, I don’t doubt that I may have missed a reference or two, but those who are claiming RC’s are deficient in their “gospel” are almost – if not exclusively – quoting Paul to support their contention. That is one source.

      And I would claim that even the quotations from this one source are rather selective.

      I have caught other scripture references, but they were on peripheral issues. It’s hardly a red herring to point this out, as even CMP was advocating some to at least *consider* James (even as he advocated filtering his view through… guess who…).

      I know of no RC (though I don’t know everyone) that denies the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. We all believe that he died “for our sins”. We also all believe that there is action required on our part to partake in this gift. Disagreeing on the nature or extent of our part does not make Christ’s sacrifice deficient.

    • Michael T.


      1. C.S. Lewis denied penal substitutionary atonement

      The penal substitutionary theory wasn’t fully articulated until the Reformation. Prior to that there was the Satisfaction Theory, and prior to that almost all the Early Church accepted the Ransom Theory. Basically by insisting on this you are saying that nobody was saved prior to the Reformation

      2. He proclaimed his belief in Purgatory

      I’d be interested to know where he proclaimed this, but regardless I don’t see how believing that one must be sanctified after death rather than instantly being made pure makes one unsaved

      3. Was an inclusivist/universalist who believed a merciful Buddhist could find salvation with out Christ

      His statements concerning the “with their will or without it” makes it clear he was not a universalist. As to being an inclusivist it would be rather odd if believing that someone who doesn’t have explicit belief in Christ might be saved would undue the salvation of someone…

    • JB Chappell

      Re: C.S. Lewis

      I realize this is off-topic, but it is interesting once one takes such a stringent stance on what “gospel”, just how far that takes us in dismissing other brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether you judge him by his fruits or by his words, the man made much of Christ.

      I too was surprised at the comment that C.S. Lewis believed in purgatory. However, Scot McKnight seemed to document that reality pretty well here:

      But he clearly didn’t consider it a linchpin of his theology. And while inclusivism may be considered heterodox by many, it teaches that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. That hardly seems like grounds for saying he “rejected the gospel on every point.” If you’re going to judge him solely on correct knowledge, then that would seem to be at least a somewhat gnostic view.

    • samuel

      JB – No, we don’t take the epistles of Paul only. Look at the lives of the millions of Christians. There is no way that we can throw out the rest of what God the Holy Spirit has told us – after all, the Author of these Scriptures dwells within us, as a temple. Per 2nd Peter, it is not only the writings of Paul that the unstable and untaught distort, but the rest of Scriptures. James, John, Peter all of the Apostolic writings are against the RC – as are the Prophets of the OT. Of course we agree with the ‘if’ and ‘unless’ of 1 Cor 15. The One Source we use is the Holy Spirit. Of course God spoke through many human authors. I just went to a service, where the Gospel of Mark was preached from. Of course Romans and Ephesians was preached from as well. Why not take the 25 hours or so to read through the NT, see the unity of the teaching, and the specific authority of the Apostles, who are the witnesses of the Lord’s resurrection.

    • JB Chappell

      Samuel, appealing to the Holy Spirit may convince those who are like-minded, but keep in mind what you have just claimed is that clearly I must NOT be using the Holy Spirit… apparently because I disagree with you.

      I agree wholeheartedly with you that there is “no way that we can throw out the rest of what God the Holy Spirit has told us…”. Presumably, you mean the the entirety of scripture that is “against the RC”. Well, I don’t doubt that there is some scripture that is in opposition to RC teaching. I’m certainly not claiming that the RC church is infallible. The question is whether “their gospel” (which is already begging the question) saves. If you say no, then you need to both demonstrate a proper understanding of “their gospel” *and* the scripture.

      So far I would say that those in the “No” camp seem to demonstrate neither. You can *say* that James stands against RC, but you need to demonstrate your point.

    • Greg.

      @Fr Robert:

      “@Greg: Your “methods” are simply “fundamentalist”! And I am not a Roman Catholic “priest”. I will let the Roman Catholics here speak for their Church and doctrine (though I am not unaware of Catholicism myself). I consider your approach towards the RCC, to be archaic somewhat, and just completely negative. We must always beware of bigotry in what we disagree with! Truth is not our truth, but God’s truth, wherever we find it!”

      Firstly Robert I didn’t ask the question about the R.C gospel Michael did. It is not a light topic of discussion it is about life and death in eternity. The question must be addressed by truth, which is to be found in the scriptures those scriptures would, to my understanding demolish every single doctrine and tradition of the R.C church with utmost clarity,as in the following.

      1. the R.C priesthood and all that it entails.
      2. Their doctrines of how one enters into salvation and a relationship with God via the sacraments.
      3. Idol…

    • Greg.

      To any Roman Catholics reading this blog and possibly my comments:

      May I say that I am not attacking Roman Catholic persons individually or en masse. I was at one time a Roman Catholic myself. My family members still are as are some of my friends. What I am against with all my heart is the teachings of the ordained body of the church. I believe that these teachings do not send people to hell as a persons unbelief in Jesus does and a persons refusal to have him as Lord over your life. I was once such a person.

      I cried out to God for mercy and he answered me and revealed to me who Jesus is but also what real faith in him is.

      What I do believe about R.C teachings is that it takes the truth about Jesus and covers it in a morass of tradition and also causes massive confusion as to how a person can find their way to God themselves. This is done I believe mainly by promoting the teachings about a false priesthood and a false leader and saying that only these men can bring you to…

    • Greg.

      My two posts above should have finished with:

      Post 1.
      3.Idol worship.

      Post 2.

      …bring you to God.

    • Michael

      If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

    • C Barton

      It is curious that when Paul referred to “another gospel”, he chose to identify it by its attack on grace-alone. And seeing that the word, “gospel”, means good news, the false gospel which added works wasn’t so good after all: if it is broken here, then any further debate is futile, in a sense.
      On the other hand, if this part is kept inviolate, then we have a wealth of revelation about how to know and apply our salvation and faith in our lives to become disciples, and to dwell in Christ.
      Therefore, in the RCC ( in which I was raised), if the “how to be saved” part is broken, all the corruption and syncretism are moot, logically.
      Adding Mary as co-mediator (and a rather cultic Queen of Heaven), works-based salvation, and the infamy of elevating a man (Pope) to Godhead status are all symptoms that perhaps their “how to be saved” message is broken. I grew up Catholic, but had to hear the true, unadulterated Gospel before I was really saved, I believe.

    • @Greg: First, I am also one who was born, raised and baptised Roman Catholic, and this too in Dublin, Ireland. But my experience is not one of complete negativity, as you. With many other comments on this post, I think we can see that R. Catholicism certainly has the basis of the Gospel, with the biblical & theological Christ, incarnate.. God & Man, etc., and again the basic doctrine of Christ’s death for sinners, and the resurrection, etc. We have not mentioned the Trinity, which Rome certainly believes, as also most other orthodox Christians. But, we can certainly disagree with Rome’s lack of sufficiency and assurance from the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. And their lack of Christ’s medatiorship, alone! But to make Rome and the papacy, as THE Antichrist, as did Luther and Calvin, is more of a position of historicism, in the Book of Revelation, etc. Has R. Catholicism been anti-christian in their history? Certainly, but so has some of the Protestant Reformers.

    • Peter Sean Bradley


      Re Augustine on Faith and Works.

      The problem for you is that Augustine was basing his conclusions on scripture. Read “On Faith and Works.”

      Augustine was not reading scripture through Luther through “Paul alone,” as you are. Augustine was reading Jesus, and insofar as he was harmonizing, he was harmonizing Paul with Jesus, not vice versa.

      How is this wrong?

      The further problem is that you and others here are sending Augustine and everyone prior to Luther to Hell for not adhering to your narrow “gospel,” i.e., your creed.

      Presumption and pride deny charity – love – and that is a sin.

      I think Protestants have the faith part, and they may live faith through charity, but this error has caused Protestants I know to live without charity because they had faith alone.

      There are many denominations of Protestants who believe that because they have “faith alone”, they can embrace sin – divorce, contracepton, abortion.

      Jesus said faith must be…

    • Oh please Peter, this is a red herring, Protestants could fire back with the redundancy of the Catholic doctrine of the Sacrament of Penance! In the long past at least this Catholic doctrine has been used, excuse me, but like a potty chair! I know I was raised Irish Roman Catholic in the 50’s and early 60’s. Not to mention, if you had money, one could get an indulgence of marriage. And btw, many Roman Catholics practice contraception, and even pre-marital sex these days! We need to stop this tit for tat with each other.. Protestant verses Catholic, and vice versa!

      *Though now, the so-called Sacrament of Penance is rarely used by many R. Catholics, at least in spiritual sense!

    • C Barton

      So, to conclude, in logic, IF A THEN B can be reversed to IF NOT B then NOT A. So, if a church has the correct Gospel, they will show the fruit of that Gospel, which includes repentance, charity, and other signs of a living faith in action.
      If there is no spiritual fruit, you can suspect that the “gospel” they believe is false.
      This is, I believe, the meaning of “know them by their fruit” – not spying on each other (personal conduct) but a corporate manifestation of works based on the action of fatih.
      But, some might see my method as an end-run around a direct examiniation of doctrine, Aquinas be still! The RCC is not devoid of good fruit so we can suspect that the Gospel is yet preached within their walls, in spite of the syncretic and occult-based deviations in the official doctrine.

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Fr. Robert,

      As an attorney, I represent small local Protestant churches that seek to leave their denominations, such as the Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian denominations, because those denominations have embraced, inter alia, abortion and active homosexual clergy in the name of “faith alone.”

      Unlike Catholicism, which has never taught that divorce, abortion and the gay lifestyle are not sins, most mainstream Protestant denominations now do, (See e.g., The Episcopal Church.)

      In light of the arguments presented here, how are these denominations wrong? Does “faith alone” not save? Are “works” required?

      Your outburst doesn’t engage the arguments that have actually been made here against Catholicism. Why don’t those arguments apply to Protestantism, which is willing to change its moral teachings to conform to the current age? Wasn’t that Augustine’s concern?

      Many may argue that TEC, etc. are aberrations, but how can that be said without being “works…

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Father Robert,

      On further reflection, you seem to think that I’m tit for tatting about practice. But I’m addressing doctrines. The doctrine that I have been defending is Augustine’s position that moral practice cannot be excised from faith. I have learned here that I am going to Hell for saying that because I am teaching a “different Gospel.”

      Protestants here have been more than willing to point to any flaw in Catholic practice to make their case. You lept in with both feet while brandishing your RC credentials with flourish, albeit what your experience have in common with my Post-V2 experience is a mystery to me.

      After reading Augustine and Allister McGrath on “Christianity’s Dangerous Doctrine,” I have to wonder how I’m wrong. In Faith and Works, Augustine was dealing with unrepentant divorcees. Augustine said no, because faith and moral were linked. TEC and people here take the opposite view.

      So, why am I wrong as a matter of doctrine?

    • @Peter: Your whole basic argument is simpy ad hoc, rather than really theological and historical! As indeed many of the posts on this tread. One of the many weakness of the blog I suspect? I just don’t like evidential arguments by themselves. And I have not tracked Augustine really either in your arguments? And I am an Augustinian certainly!

      And yeah, my first degree was Roman Catholic, a BA in Philosophy, back in my 20’s. And Post Vatican II has yet to land, fully, that is for certain! To my mind, Rome has gravely exposed their errors since Vatican 1 (1869-1870). And Papal Infallibility looks even worse since the sexual sins of so many of those in the R. Catholic priesthood today. This sin reeks today!

    • Note, I speak of the general idea of the Roman Magisterium, and not just from the so-called Chair of Peter.

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Fr. Robert,


      My argument re Augustine is based on quoting Augustine. I’m no very surprised that you haven’t read “On Faith and Works” because it hardly fits in well with sola fide.

      My argument re the application of Augustine’s observations to the current state of American Protestantism is too well-established by evidence. Or are you unaware of the doctrinal positions taken by the Episcopal Church U.S.?

      But rather than deal with those arguments you (a) don’t answer my questions about Protestant first principles and (b) drag a smelly red-herring across the trail vis a vis “sexual sins.”

      I ask again, where in Catholic doctrine is sexual sin taught as moral?

      But relative to the Episcopal Church, I will have no problem showing you that sexual sin is taught as being moral; there’s a US Episcopal bishop who is a practicing homosexual. I can show you where TEC accepts abortion.

      If faith and morals are two different things, we should expect this…

    • @Peter: I have seen little dialogue on “doctrine” here at all? And again you have not “placed” Augustine, either! Again, maybe a blog problem? Or just maybe I am an old man, and I have missed it? 😉

    • Btw Peter, it is “nonsense” to even ask if in R. Catholic doctrine sexual sin is not moral! Roman has a whole place for “Moral Theology”! Don’t uncork my “Catholic” mind now! 😉

    • Just a note Peter. Though I am in the US right now and mainly for my wife’s health, I have very little to do with ECUSA! I am semi-retired at 62, and I mostly do hospital chaplain work. My dear wife (younger than me) also suffers from chronic COPD. I am hers daily also. Though I do get to preach some, mostly with Lutherans and some FV Presbyterians.

    • *Peter: Here is a nice link about Augustine’s Theology.. I hope Michael does not mind?

      Augustine and the Varieties of Monergism
      by Phillip Cary, Ph.D.
      Synergism is just a Greek way of saying “co-operation,” which in turn is just a Latin way of saying “working together.” Paul uses the corresponding Greek verb when he describes himself and his colleagues as “co-working” (2 Cor. 6:1) with God as ambassadors for Christ, through whom God urges people to be reconciled to himself (ibid., 5:20). Monergism, a much more recent term, means to work alone, having no co-worker. So monergists are those who think that in some respect God works alone.
      The crucial question is: in what respect? The standard Protestant view is monergism with respect to justification: God alone renders us just or righteous in his sight, without our co-operation. But most Protestants would add that sanctification is a co-operative enterprise in which our will and work have a necessary role to play, working…

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Father Robert,

      With a 1,000 character limit, I can’t do a lot of recapping.

      At 1:10 pm on April 6 – just above one of your posts – wrote:

      “Augustine suggests a longer answer in On Faith and Works 27 when discussing the rich young man:

      “It should be evident to our opponents that he did not tell him to believe and be baptized – according to them a man would not have to do any more than this to obtain eternal life. On the contrary, He gave them precepts of morality which, certainly, one cannot observe unless he has faith also. For we do not want anyone to think that, because the Lord says nothing here about faith, we say and maintain therfore that it is not necessary to instruct a person who desires to obtain eternal life in anything but morals. Both are necessary, morals and faith, for they are mutually connected, as I said before. A man who does not love God does not love his neighbor; and he who does not love his neighbor does not love God.”

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Father Robert,

      Here’s another text from “On Faith and Works” that I have cited throughout this thread.

      At 11:02 am – just above another one of your posts – I wrote:

      “Was Augustine – the person the Reformers relied on for their understanding of grace – just having a bad day when he wrote, “In the first place, we feel that we should advise the faithful that they would endanger the salvation of their souls if they actd on the false assurance that faith alone is sufficient for salvation or that they need not perform good works in order to be saved.” On Faith and Works, 21.”

    • @Peter: Of course the context is also important, but we can see the same in 1 John chapter 4.

    • @Peter: So what is your “persuasion” of faith, theologically?

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Father Robert,

      First, I have no idea what you mean by “Roman” and “moral.” Typos?

      Second, I assumed you weren’t Episcopalian. However, what does that have to do with my point that TEC is teaching that sins are not sins and is doing so on the basis that of “faith alone”? TEC thinks that it has faith in Christ and so – like those who wanted to baptize divorcees in Augustine’s day – that was secondary to issues of sin and morality.

      Third, I’m a Prof. Cary fan, but having reviewed his TC courses several times, he goes too far in denying that Augustine included morality as a component of faith.

      Fourth, please explain to the Protestants who have been sending me to Hell for including “works” in salvation that their system includes works as part of salvation. I know that; they don’t. My argument during this entire thread is that works matter. I agree with that; Augustine agrees; Cary agrees. Do you agree? If so, tell everyone else.

    • Greg.

      @ Fr Robert:

      ” I think we can see that R. Catholicism certainly has the basis of the Gospel, with the biblical & theological Christ, incarnate.. God & Man, etc., and again the basic doctrine of Christ’s death for sinners, and the resurrection, etc. We have not mentioned the Trinity, which Rome certainly believes, as also most other orthodox Christians. But, we can certainly disagree with Rome’s lack of sufficiency and assurance from the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. And their lack of Christ’s medatiorship, alone!…”

      Robert..a Christ that does not give you assurance from his work and a Christ that needs someone else to mediate for us between us and him is not the biblical Christ. Not even close. Why are you defending the indefensible Robert. Shall we sift through their doctrines one by one for clarity sake? Starting with the sacrament of baptism perhaps? Or maybe the RC doctrine of sainthood? which denies one can be a saint and be living? “to the saints in…

    • Greg.

      @ Fr Robert:

      Contd from above: “to the saints in Ephesus”

      how does the doctrine of canonisation fit in there Robert?? To deny the act of living sanctification which produces living saints is to deny salvation while one is alive. If Christ does not save while one is alive he is not the biblical Christ.


    • @Peter: I am certainly Reformed on soteriology, but I also did my D. Phil. on Luther’s Ontology of the Cross, and I just love the man Luther! His doctrine of “theologia crucis”, and his Hidden God (Deus Absconditus), etc. But I am really more of a Calvinist, with Law/Gospel in Calvin’s sense. But, that big “but”, I am also always an Anglican, which is classically both “reformed” and “catholic”. And I also read Barth, though I am no Barthian! Note, too as I said I am friendly with the FV or Federal Vision ideas. I am very “eclectic” really! But, always a conservative also. Funny, I heard the term Post-conservative recently.. not sure what that is? lol I am not post there for sure! I was a Royal Marine, and mustang there.. so that still runs in my blood too. 😉

    • @Greg: The doctrine of the Biblical Christ and the fulness of Salvation therein, seems to be a very different reality and definition between us. It seems for you salvation is a “knowledge” alone, or foremost. I love theology and doctrine, but to “know” Christ is to simply love HIM! And thankfully many Roman Catholic love the Savior-Jesus! Its just that simple! And though I am a Calvinist and certainly Reformed toward the Doctrines of Grace, it is Christ alone that “saves” me! I think many of our Roman Catholic brethren would say Amen here also, at least to the Person and mercy of God In Christ! Yes, again the ecclesiology of Rome is not my bag, either, but we worship the same “Christ Jesus”, even if they miss many things in the sufficiency of Christ – prophet, priest & king, etc. Indeed from here Christ is Mediator and in His Sessions above!

    • That was *Rome there Peter. And have you not heard of “Moral Theology” in Roman Catholicism?

    • Peter Sean Bradley


      Catholicism unquestionably teaches “sanctification during life” and “living saints.” Certainly, you’ve heard such things said about Mother Teresa, Padre Pio and Pope John Paul II?

      But Catholicism teaches – as does most of the Protestantisms – that sanctification culminates in the beatific vision (“B.V.”), the presence of God. When people refer to “saints,” they normally mean those in the B.V.

      For some reason, Protestants are uncomfortable with the saints in the B.V. But their blessedness and superiority to the state of “living saints” is biblically attested.

      Read Col. 1:12 – “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

      Note, “saints in the light.”

    • Btw, the literal Greek in Col. 1:12 is, “Giving thanks to the Father, the one, having qualified you for the share of the allotment of the saints in the light.”

      Here “qualified” is the Greek word: Hikanoo, and it is or has made meet or sufficient, or able, by God the Father. And the “allotment” or “partakers” (sunkoinonos), is partaking jointly or together, it is more of fellowship. But the action is with the Gospel itself, as co-operating in its activity. The focus is the Father-God, and the Gospel itself, as the gift of His or “the Son of His love”! Here is “the light”! Here “light” (Phos) is that place and glory of God’s dwelling-place, itself.

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Fr. Robert,

      IColossians 1: 12 refers to the movement of the believer to the kingdom of light. As part of that movement, the living believer shares a community with the “saints in light”, i.e., those who enjoy God’s presence directly in the Beatific Vision.

      Certainly, we can talk about believers who share the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Colossians 1:12 also seems to be gesturing towards another group, the “saints in light” with whom the living believers share fellowship.

      Hebrews 12:1 refers to a “cloud of witnesses” of whom Aquinas says, “658. – We have this cloud of witnesses over our head, because the lives of the saints impose on us the need of imitating them: ‘Take, my brethren, for an example of suffering evil, of labor and of patience, the prophets’ (Jas. 5:10).”

      The “saints in light” matter, even though they are dead, especially because they are dead and have ended their race in glory.

    • @Peter: I had guessed you were Roman Catholic, but I was not sure, now I know. Thanks.

      I have read the Old Ox, Aquinas is always worth the read. He was something of an Augustinian as you perhaps already know. But, the information you give, especially from the Text itself in Col. 1:12, is of course more than the Text itself allows. This is more than exegesis, but certainly “Catholic” doctrine and dogma. Fine, I will not argue against such here, but it is well beyond the basic text here in Col. 1:12, etc. Again, this is simply “Catholic” Doctrine. But again, the exegesis is toward the “Father”, and the “qualification” of the Gospel itself, as it moves toward verse 13, and “the kingdom of the Son of His (the Father’s) love”. Again, this whole piece moves down into verse 14, and futher into the Christology of Christ..thru or to verse 1:20.

    • Peter Sean Bradley

      Father Robert,

      A few questions.

      First, insofar as there is “private interpretation,” how can I be “wrong”?

      As I mentioned, I’ve read McGrath’s paen to private interpretation, “Christianity’s Dangerous Idea.” So that’s a serious question.

      Second, are you denying the Beatific Vision (“BV”)?

      Third, are you denying that the separated souls – and you should be getting a feel for my Thomistic background – experience the BV prior to the Resurrection?

      Fourth, do you think that “clouds of witnesses” and “saints in light” can in no way possibly be referring to saints enjoying the beatific vision?

      I’m not denying your interpretation. I’m suggesting that a permissible interpretation of Col. 1:12 is not limited to your interpretation.

      Are you claiming some authority to interpret scripture for me. If so, where do you get that authority from? I can read. I’ve got the internet.

      At least that’s what I hear when I quote Augustine. 🙂

    • @Peter: The whole “private interpretation” thing must be seen in what heresy really means, wanting “my” own will, over the whole and revealed will and doctrine of God! As an Anglican I of course see the need for the so-called proper authority of the Church, and the general revealed and “catholic” doctrines of God. But Holy Scripture is still the sola, of course “in spirit & truth”!

      I read and have that McGrath book too, but it has been awhile, and I read so much. And seeing how I can’t find it right now? lol I will refresh.

      And yes, I believe in the “Beatific Vision”, but I don’t see a text absolutely, save perhaps Matt. 5: 8, and perhaps 1 John 3:2? My point is that it is just beyond our comprehension, save our nice scholastic definitions. Which are certainly not the reality itself! And no, I don’t see the exegetical idea to move beyond the Texts. Even the aspect of Heb. 12:1, etc. is general, and the focus is really on Heb. 12: 2, etc. I am not saying your…

    • I was out of space! 😉 I am not saying your completely wrong, just perhaps using more theological ideas than full revelation, and the complete understanding!

    • 2 If By SEA: Rhonda Lee Welsch

      Unless one is born again he can not see the kingdom of God….who said this? What does it mean and how does the Gospel answer these questions?
      John 3:3
      Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
      John 3:7
      Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
      1 Peter 1:23
      having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
      It is not the name of the Church, but the individuals relationship to the person of Jesus Christ and the fulness of the miracle of having been drawn unto Him,by faith which comes from having heard the word of God, accepting His forgiveness and the laying down of one’s life as Jesus did on the cross, to be born of the seed of the Living God through faith in Christ. This is the “only” way. We are drawn to Him, we then must choose His life over our own. The free will is involved in this decision… It is a positional reality based on being “in Him”, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
      Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    • […] Does The Roman Catholics Gospel Save? […]

    • brad dickey

      Nicely said.

      First, if someone thinks the gospel is about being saved, they are leaving out the most important parts of the Gospel. Salvation only teaching is like trying to spend the heads side of the quarter with the tails side removed.

      Second, I think a nice verse to throw into the chat would be Eph 4:11-17. The brad-a-phrase has it something like this:

      The God gifted and appointed leaders of the Church are to lead the people to WORKS OF SERVICE (see also gal 5:6) for the building up of the church, and also all it’s members, until it’s in unity and grows in understanding of Christ. This makes a perfect man/mature man, fully developed in the faith, even to the fullness of the development of Christ.
      Just in case people want to poo poo the last of it away, the description Paul gives is…
      If Christ’s maturity was measured in a glass then:
      Our glass is the same size.
      AND it’s the filled to the same level as Jesus’ was. That’s what Spiritual maturity looks like.

      Key words, this comes through works. Not individual study. OR application of Agapao, not reading about it.
      You can no more learn, intellectually to love as God does (matt 5:48) by reading, than you can learn how to throw lefty instead of righty by watching film. You need application.

      Rome gets that down better than the west. somewhere after the reformation, the Western Churches seem to focus more on what you know, than how you live. I think we miss out a lot because of that, in our finished understanding. Example, if you never touch hot water, reading about how hot it is, doesn’t mean much.

      This is my third post, and I’m afraid I need to turn away from the threads. I love hearing your thoughts, but I’ll never shut up. So I don’t wanna impose.
      TY for your ministry.

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