Imputation and Infusion: A Reply to R.C. Sproul Jr.

May 11th, 2011 | By | Category: Blog Posts

In “Imputation, Infusion and Eternal Consequence: A Parable,” R.C. Sproul Jr. recently claimed that the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (St. Luke 18: 9-14) not only supports the Reformed notion of imputation over the Catholic doctrine of infusion, but also shows that those holding the Reformed doctrine of imputation are justified, while those holding the Catholic doctrine of infusion “will spend eternity weeping and gnashing teeth.”


R.C. Sproul Jr.

Sproul appeals to the Pharisee’s use of “Lord, I thank you” as evidence that the Pharisee knows that he needs the grace of God, that the power to make him righteous came from God, and that God deserves all the glory for his obedience to God. The Publican too, notes Sproul, knows that he needs grace from God. Thus, according to Sproul, the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican does not lie in their awareness of the divine origin of grace and righteousness. They both know that grace and righteousness come from God.1

According to Sproul, the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican is this: the Pharisee believes that God’s grace has “made him whole” while the Publican knows that he is an unrighteous sinner. Because of this difference, claims Sproul, the Publican will spend eternity walking with God, while the Pharisee will spend eternity weeping and gnashing his teeth. But here’s the kicker. According to Sproul, the Publican’s belief that he is an unrighteous sinner corresponds to the Reformed view of the extra nos imputation of the alien righteousness of Christ, while the Pharisee’s belief that he has been made righteous by the grace of God corresponds to the Catholic doctrine of the infusion of Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, according to Sproul, this parable shows that holding either the Reformed view of imputation or the Catholic doctrine of infusion has eternal consequences. Because Reformed Christians, like the Publican, believe that they are unrighteous sinners having the righteousness of Christ only imputed to them, not infused in them, they will spend eternity walking with God in paradise. But because orthodox Catholics, like the Pharisee, believe that Christ’s righteousness has been infused into them, they will spend eternity in hell, weeping and gnashing their teeth.

Before replying to Sproul’s argument, let’s consider some excerpts from the Church Fathers and teachers, concerning this parable:

Outline
I. General Excerpts from the Church Fathers on the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican
II. Collation from the Catena Aurea on the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican
III. Reply to Sproul

I. General Excerpts from the Church Fathers on the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican

St. Irenaeus

Then, in the case of the publican, who excelled the Pharisee in prayer, [we find] that it was not because he worshipped another Father that he received testimony from the Lord that he was justified rather [than the other]; but because with great humility, apart from all boasting and pride, he made confession to the same God. (Against Heresies, Bk IV, chapter 36)

Tertullian

And yet, when He introduces to our view the Creator’s temple, and describes two men worshipping therein with diverse feelings— the Pharisee in pride, the publican in humility— and shows us how they accordingly went down to their homes, one rejected, the other justified, Luke 18:10-14 He surely, by thus teaching us the proper discipline of prayer, has determined that that God must be prayed to from whom men were to receive this discipline of prayer— whether condemnatory of pride, or justifying in humility. (Against Marcion, Bk IV)

But we more commend our prayers to God when we pray with modesty and humility, with not even our hands too loftily elevated, but elevated temperately and becomingly; and not even our countenance over-boldly uplifted. For that publican who prayed with humility and dejection not merely in his supplication, but in his countenance too, went his way more justified than the shameless Pharisee. (On Prayer)

Origen

But since he says, in addition to this, What is this preference of sinners over others? and makes other remarks of a similar nature, we have to reply that absolutely a sinner is not preferred before one who is not a sinner; but that sometimes a sinner, who has become conscious of his own sin, and for that reason comes to repentance, being humbled on account of his sins, is preferred before one who is accounted a lesser sinner, but who does not consider himself one, but exalts himself on the ground of certain good qualities which he thinks he possesses, and is greatly elated on their account. And this is manifest to those who are willing to peruse the Gospels in a spirit of fairness, by the parable of the publican, who said, Be merciful to me a sinner, and of the Pharisee who boasted with a certain wicked self-conceit in the words, I thank You that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. For Jesus subjoins to his narrative of them both the words: This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. We utter no blasphemy, then, against God, neither are we guilty of falsehood, when we teach that every man, whoever he may be, is conscious of human infirmity in comparison with the greatness of God, and that we must ever ask from Him, who alone is able to supply our deficiencies, what is wanting to our (mortal) nature. (Contra Celsus, Bk III)

St. Cyprian

And let not the worshipper, beloved brethren, be ignorant in what manner the publican prayed with the Pharisee in the temple. Not with eyes lifted up boldly to heaven, nor with hands proudly raised; but beating his breast, and testifying to the sins shut up within, he implored the help of the divine mercy. And while the Pharisee was pleased with himself, this man who thus asked, the rather deserved to be sanctified, since he placed the hope of salvation not in the confidence of his innocence, because there is none who is innocent; but confessing his sinfulness he humbly prayed, and He who pardons the humble heard the petitioner. (Treatise 4)

St. Athanasius

And, to mention nothing else, there are many who exalt themselves above their neighbours, thereby causing great mischief. For the boast of fasting did no good to the Pharisee, although he fasted twice in the week Luke 18:12, only because he exalted himself against the publican. (Letter 1)

St. Basil

What say I, brethren? Not that I am a sinless person; not that my life is not full of numberless faults. I know myself; and indeed I cease not my tears for my sins, if by any means I may be able to appease my God, and to escape the punishment threatened against them. But this I say: let him who judges me, hunt for motes in my eye, if he can say that his own is clear. I own, brethren, that I need the care of the sound and healthy, and need much of it. If he cannot say that it is clear, and the clearer it is the less will he say so— (for it is the part of the perfect not to exalt themselves; if they do they will certainly come under the charge of the pride of the Pharisee, who, while justifying himself, condemned the publican) let him come with me to the physician; let him not judge before the time until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. (Letter 204)

St. Ambrose

In our very prayers, too, modesty is most pleasing, and gains us much grace from our God. Was it not this that exalted the publican, and commended him, when he dared not raise even his eyes to heaven? Luke 18:13-14 So he was justified by the judgment of the Lord rather than the Pharisee, whom overweening pride made so hideous. Therefore let us pray in the incorruptibility of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price, 1 Peter 3:4 as St. Peter says. A noble thing, then, is modesty, which, though giving up its rights, seizing on nothing for itself, laying claim to nothing, and in some ways somewhat retiring within the sphere of its own powers, yet is rich in the sight of God, in Whose sight no man is rich. Rich is modesty, for it is the portion of God. Paul also bids that prayer be offered up with modesty and sobriety. 1 Timothy 2:9 He desires that this should be first, and, as it were, lead the way of prayers to come, so that the sinner’s prayer may not be boastful, but veiled, as it were, with the blush of shame, may merit a far greater degree of grace, in giving way to modesty at the remembrance of its fault. (On the Duties of the Clergy)

I know, he says, how to be abased. Philippians 4:12 An untaught humility has no claim to praise, but only that which possesses modesty and a knowledge of self. For there is a humility that rests on fear, one, too, that rests on want of skill and ignorance. Therefore the Scripture says: He will save the humble in spirit. Gloriously, therefore, does he say: I know how to be abased; that is to say, where, in what moderation, to what end, in what duty, in which office. The Pharisee knew not how to be abased, therefore he was cast down. The publican knew, and therefore he was justified. (On the Duties of the Clergy, Bk II)

St. John Chrysostom

When lately we made mention of the Pharisee and the publican, and hypothetically yoked two chariots out of virtue and vice; we pointed out each truth, how great is the gain of humbleness of mind, and how great the damage of pride. For this, even when conjoined with righteousness and fastings and tithes, fell behind; while that, even when yoked with sin, out-stripped the Pharisee’s pair, even although the charioteer it had was a poor one. For what was worse than the publican? But all the same since he made his soul contrite, and called himself a sinner; which indeed he was; he surpassed the Pharisee, who had both fastings to tell of and tithes; and was removed from any vice. On account of what, and through what? Because even if he was removed from greed of gain and robbery, he had rooted over his soul the mother of all evils— vain-glory and pride. … Whereas he publicly came forward as an accuser of the whole world; and said that he himself was better than all living men. And yet even if he had set himself before ten only, or if five, or if two, or if one, not even was this endurable; but as it was, he not only set himself before the whole world, but also accused all men. On this account he fell behind in the running. And just as a ship, after having run through innumerable surges, and having escaped many storms, then in the very mouth of the harbour having been dashed against some rock, loses the whole treasure which is stowed away in her— so truly did this Pharisee, after having undergone the labours of the fasting, and of all the rest of his virtue, since he did not master his tongue, in the very harbour underwent shipwreck of his cargo. For the going home from prayer, whence he ought to have derived gain, having rather been so greatly damaged, is nothing else than undergoing shipwreck in harbour.

Knowing therefore these things, beloved even if we should have mounted to the very pinnacle of virtue, let us consider ourselves last of all; having learned that pride is able to cast down even from the heavens themselves him who takes not heed, and humbleness of mind to bear up on high from the very abyss of sins him who knows how to be sober. For this it was that placed the publican before the Pharisee; whereas that, pride I mean and an overweening spirit, surpassed even an incorporeal power, that of the devil; while humbleness of mind and the acknowledgment of his own sins committed brought the robber into Paradise before the Apostles. Now if the confidence which they who confess their own sins effect for themselves is so great, they who are conscious to themselves of many good qualities, yet humble their own souls, how great crowns will they not win. For when sinfulness be put together with humbleness of mind it runs with such ease as to pass and out-strip righteousness combined with pride. If therefore thou have put it to with righteousness, whither will it not reach? Through how many heavens will it not pass? By the throne of God itself surely it will stay its course; in the midst of the angels, with much confidence. On the other hand if pride, having been yoked with righteousness, by the excess and weight of its own wickedness had strength enough to drag down its confidence; if it be put together with sinfulness, into how deep a hell will it not be able to precipitate him who has it? These things I say, not in order that we should be careless of righteousness, but that we should avoid pride; not that we should sin, but that we should be sober-minded. For humbleness of mind is the foundation of the love of wisdom which pertains to us. Even if you should have built a superstructure of things innumerable; even if almsgiving, even if prayers, even if fastings, even if all virtue; unless this have first been laid as a foundation, all will be built upon it to no purpose and in vain; and it will fall down easily, like that building which had been placed on the sand. For there is no one, no one of our good deeds, which does not need this; there is no one which separate from this will be able to stand. But even if you should mention temperance, even if virginity, even if despising of money, even if anything whatever, all are unclean and accursed and loathsome, humbleness of mind being absent. Everywhere therefore let us take her with us, in words, in deeds, in thoughts, and with this let us build these (graces). (Concerning Lowliness of Mind)

The publican was accepted only from his humility, the Pharisee perished by his boastfulness. (Homily 17 on 1 Timothy)

For I would not that our virtue should be rendered vain by accusing others. What was worse than the Publican? For it is true that he was a publican, and guilty of many offenses, yet because the Pharisee only said, I am not as this publican, he destroyed all his merit. (Homily 2 on 2 Timothy)

[Jesus] roots out in what remains the most tyrannical passion of all, the rage and madness with respect to vainglory, which springs up in them that do right. … It behooved therefore first to implant virtue, and then to remove the passion [i.e. vainglory] which mars its fruit. And see with what He begins, with fasting, and prayer, and almsgiving: for in these good deeds most especially it [i.e. vainglory] is wont to make its haunt. The Pharisee, for instance, was hereby puffed up, who says, I fast twice a week, I give tithes of my substance. (Luke 18:12) And he was vainglorious too in his very prayer, making it for display. For since there was no one else present, he pointed himself out to the publican, saying, I am not as the rest of men, nor even as this publican. (Luke 18:11) (Homily 19 on Matthew)

Many are elated on account of their humility; but let not us be so affected. Have you done any act of humility? Be not proud of it, otherwise all the merit of it is lost. Such was the Pharisee, he was puffed up because he gave his tithes to the poor, and he lost all the merit of it. (Luke 18:12) But not so the publican. Hear Paul again saying, I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified. (1 Cor. 4:4) Do you see that he does not exalt himself, but by every means abases and humbles himself, and that too when he had arrived at the very summit. (Homily 2 on Philemon)

For, Judge not, says He, that you be not judged: Matthew 7:1 since he too who spoke evil of the publican was condemned, although it was true which he laid to his neighbor’s charge. (Homily 44 on 1 Corinthians)

St. Jerome

Pride is opposed to humility, and through it Satan lost his eminence as an archangel. The Jewish people perished in their pride, for while they claimed the chief seats and salutations in the market place, Matthew 23:6-7 they were superseded by the Gentiles, who had before been counted as a drop of a bucket. Isaiah 40:15 Two poor fishermen, Peter and James, were sent to confute the sophists and the wise men of the world. As the Scripture says: God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5 Think, brother, what a sin it must be which has God for its opponent. In the Gospel the Pharisee is rejected because of his pride, and the publican is accepted because of his humility. (Letter 12)

Yet for all that the publican with his humble confession of his faults went back justified far more than the Pharisee with his arrogant boasting of his virtues. (Letter 77)

The publican in the Gospel who smote upon his breast as though it were a magazine of the worst thoughts, and, conscious of his offenses, dared not lift up his eyes, is justified rather than the proud Pharisee. And Thamar in the guise of a harlot deceived Judah, and in the estimation of this man himself who was deceived, was worthy of the words, Genesis 38:26 Thamar is more righteous than I. All this goes to prove that not only in comparison with Divine majesty are men far from perfection, but also when compared with angels, and other men who have climbed the heights of virtue. You may be superior to some one whom you have shown to be imperfect, and yet be outstripped by another; and consequently may not have true perfection, which, if it be perfect, is absolute. (Against the Pelagians, Bk. I)

St. Augustine

But inasmuch as faith belongs not to the proud, but to the humble, [Jesus] spoke this parable unto certain who seemed to themselves to be righteous, and despised others. … The Pharisee in the Gospel did indeed call himself just, but yet he gave thanks to God for it. He called himself just, but yet he gave God thanks. I thank You, O God, that I am not as the rest of men. I thank You, O God. He gives God thanks, that he is not as the rest of men: and yet he is blamed as being proud and puffed up; not in that he gave God thanks, but in that he desired as it were no more to be added unto him. I thank you that I am not as the rest of men, unjust. So then you are just; so then you ask for nothing; so then you are full already; so then the life of man is not a trial upon earth; so then you are full already; so then you abound already, so then you have no ground for saying, Forgive us our debts! What must his case be then who impiously impugns grace, if he is blamed who give thanks proudly? (Sermon 65 on the New Testament)

Did not the Pharisee and the Publican go up to the temple? The one boasted of his sound estate, the other showed his wounds to the Physician. For the Pharisee said, I thank You, O God, that I am not as this publican. He gloried over the other. So then if that publican had been whole, the Pharisee would have grudged it him; for that he would not have had any one over whom to extol himself. In what state then had he come, who had this envious spirit? Surely he was not whole; and whereas he called himself whole, he went not down cured. But the other casting his eyes down to the ground, and not daring to lift them up unto heaven, smote his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. (Sermon 87 on the New Testament)

How shall we, says our author, escape sharing the condemnation of the Pharisee, if we fast twice in the week? Luke 18:11-12 As if the Pharisee had been condemned for fasting twice in the week, and not for proudly vaunting himself above the publican. He might as well say that those also are condemned with that Pharisee, who give a tenth of all their possessions to the poor, for he boasted of this among his other works; whereas I would that it were done by many Christians, instead of a very small number, as we find. Or let him say, that whosoever is not an unjust man, or adulterer, or extortioner, must be condemned with that Pharisee, because he boasted that he was none of these; but the man who could think thus is, beyond question, beside himself. Moreover, if these things which the Pharisee mentioned as found in him, being admitted by all to be good in themselves, are not to be retained with the haughty boastfulness which was manifest in him, but are to be retained with the lowly piety which was not in him; by the same rule, to fast twice in the week is in a man such as the Pharisee unprofitable, but is in one who has humility and faith a religious service. (Letter 36)

Hence also those two are set forth praying in the Temple, the one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican, for the sake of those who seem to themselves just and despise the rest of men, and the confession of sins is set before the reckoning up of merits. And assuredly the Pharisee was rendering thanks unto God by reason of those things wherein he was greatly self-satisfied. I render thanks to You, says he, that I am not even as the rest of men, unjust, extortioners, adulterers, even as also this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all things whatsoever I possess. But the Publican was standing afar off, not daring to lift up his eyes to Heaven, but beating his breast, saying, God be merciful unto me a sinner. But there follows the divine judgment, Verily I say unto you, the Publican went down from the Temple justified more than that Pharisee. Then the cause is shown, why this is just; Forasmuch as he who exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoso humbles himself shall be exalted. Therefore it may come to pass, that each one both shun real evils, and reflect on real goods in himself, and render thanks for these unto the Father of lights, from Whom comes down every best gift, and every perfect gift, and yet be rejected by reason of the sin of haughtiness, if through pride, even in his thought alone, which is before God, he insult other sinners, and specially when confessing their sins in prayer, unto whom is due not upbraiding with arrogance, but pity without despair. … [L]et not man, now that he knows that by the grace of God he is what he is, fall into another snare of pride, so as by lifting up himself for the very grace of God to despise the rest. By which fault that other Pharisee both gave thanks unto God for the goods which he had, and yet vaunted himself above the Publican confessing his sins. (On Holy Virginity)

Forgive us our debts, we say, and we may well say so; for we say the truth. For who is he that lives here in the flesh, and has no debts? What man is there that lives so, that this prayer is not necessary for him? He may puff himself up, justify himself he cannot. It were well for him to imitate the Publican, and not swell as the Pharisee, who went up into the temple, and boasted of his deserts, and covered up his wounds. Whereas he who said, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner, knew wherefore he went up. (Sermon 8 on the New Testament)

He is far from the proud: He is near to the humble. For though the Lord is high, yet has He respect unto the lowly. But let not those that are proud think themselves to be unobserved: for the things that are high, He beholds afar off. He beheld afar off the Pharisee, who boasted himself; He was near at hand to succour the Publican, who made confession. Luke 18:9-14 The one extolled his own merits, and concealed his wounds; the other boasted not of his merits, but laid bare his wounds. (Exposition on Psalm 40)

Let us then drive away from our ears and minds those who say that we ought to accept the determination of our own free will and not pray God to help us not to sin. By such darkness as this even the Pharisee was not blinded; for although he erred in thinking that he needed no addition to his righteousness, and supposed himself to be saturated with abundance of it, he nevertheless gave thanks to God that he was not like other men, unjust, extortioners, adulterers, or even as the publican; for he fasted twice in the week, he gave tithes of all that he possessed. Luke 18:11-12 He wished, indeed, for no addition to his own righteousness; but yet, by giving thanks to God, he confessed that all he had he had received from Him. Notwithstanding, he was not approved, both because he asked for no further food of righteousness, as if he were already filled, and because he arrogantly preferred himself to the publican, who was hungering and thirsting after righteousness. (On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, Bk II)

For that publican, who would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner, Luke 18:13 was a sinner; but since he was not proud, and since God will render a recompense to the proud; the pit is being dug not for him, but for them that are such, until He render a recompense to the proud. (Exposition on Psalm 94)

II. Collation from the Catena Aurea on the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican

Theophilus:

Pride also beyond all other passions disturbs the mind of man. And hence the very frequent warnings against it. It is moreover a contempt of God; for when a man ascribes the good he does to himself and not to God, what else is this but to deny God? For the sake then of those that so trust in themselves, that they will not ascribe the whole to God, and therefore despise others, He puts forth a parable, to show that righteousness, although it may bring man up to God, yet if he is clothed with pride, casts him down to hell. … It is said “standing,” to denote his haughty temper. For his very posture betokens his extreme pride. … Observe the order of the Pharisee’s prayer. He first speaks of that which he had not, and then of that which he had. As it follows, That I am not as other men are. … It becomes us not only to shun evil, but also to do good; and so after having said, I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, he adds something by way of contrast, I fast twice in a week. They called the week the Sabbath, from the last day of rest. The Pharisees fasted upon the second and fifth day. He therefore set fasting against the passion of adultery, for lust is born of luxury; but to the extortioners and usurists he opposed the payment of tithes; as it follows, I give tithes of all I possess; as if he says, So far am I from indulging in extortion or injuring, that I even give up what is my own. … Although reported to have stood, the Publican yet differed from the Pharisee, both in his manner and his words, as well as in his having a contrite heart. For he feared to lift up his eyes to heaven, thinking unworthy of the heavenly vision those which had loved to gaze upon and wander after earthly things. He also smote his breast, striking it as it were because of the evil thoughts, and moreover rousing it as if asleep. And thus he sought only that God would be reconciled to him, as it follows, saying, God, be merciful. … But should any one perchance marvel that the Pharisee for uttering a few words in his own praise is condemned, while Job, though he poured forth many, is crowned, I answer, that the Pharisee spoke these at the same time that he groundlessly accused others; but Job was compelled by an urgent necessity to enumerate his own virtues for the glory of God, that men might not fall away from the path of virtue.

St. Augustine:

Since faith is not a gift of the proud but of the humble, our Lord proceeds to add a parable concerning humility and against pride. … His fault was not that he gave God thanks, but that he asked for nothing further. Because you are full and abounds, you have no need to say, Forgive us our debts. What then must be his guilt who impiously fights against grace, when he is condemned who proudly gives thanks? Let those hear who say, “God has made me man, I made myself righteous. O worse and more hateful than the Pharisee, who proudly called himself righteous, yet gave thanks to God that he was so. … He might at least have said, “as many men;” for what does he mean by “other men,” but all besides himself? “I am righteous, he says, the rest are sinners.” … See how he; derives from the Publican near him a fresh occasion for pride. It follows, Or even as this Publican; as if he says, “I stand alone, he is one of the others.” … If you look into his words, you will find that he asked nothing of God. He goes up indeed to pray, but instead of asking God, praises himself; and even insults him that asked. The Publican, on the other hand, driven by his stricken conscience afar off, is by his piety brought near. … Why then marvel you, whether God pardons, since He himself acknowledges it. The Publican stood afar off, yet drew near to God. And the Lord was nigh to him, and heard him, For the Lord is on high, yet has he regard to the lowly. He lifted not so much as his eyes to heaven; that he might be looked upon, he looked not himself. Conscience weighed him down, hope raised him up, he smote his own breast, he exacted judgment upon himself. Therefore did the Lord spare the penitent. You have heard the accusation of the proud, you have heard the humble confession of the accused Hear now the sentence of the Judge; Verily I say to you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.

St. Basil:

“He prayed with himself,” that is, not with God, his sin of pride sent him back into himself. It follows, God, I thank you. … The difference between the proud man and the scorner is in the outward form alone. The one is engaged in reviling others, the other in presumptuously extolling: himself. … In like manner it is possible to be honorably elated when your thoughts indeed are not lowly, but your mind by greatness of soul is lifted up towards virtue. This loftiness of mind is seen in a cheerfulness amidst sorrow; or a kind of noble dauntlessness in trouble i a contempt of earthly things, and a conversation in heaven. And this loftiness of mind seems to differ from that elevation which is engendered of pride, just as the stoutness of a well-regulated body differs from the swelling of the flesh which proceeds from dropsy.

St. Gregory:

There are different shapes in which the pride of self-confident men presents itself; when they imagine that either the good in them is of themselves; or when believing it is given them from above, that they have received it for their own merits; or at any rate when they boast that they have that which they have not. Or lastly, when despising others they aim at appearing singular in the possession of that which they have. And in this respect the Pharisee awards to himself especially the merit of good works. … So it was pride that laid bare to his wily enemies the citadel of his heart, which prayer and fasting had in vain kept closed. Of no use are all the other fortifications, as long as there is one place which the enemy has left defenseless.

St. Chrysostom:

To despise the whole race of man was not enough for him; he must yet attack the Publican. He would have sinned, yet far less if he had spared the Publican, but now in one word he both assails the absent, and inflicts a wound on him who was present. To give thanks is not to heap reproaches on others. When you returns thanks to God, let Him be all in all to you. Turn not your thoughts to men, nor condemn your neighbor. … He who rails at others does much harm both to himself and others. First, those who hear him are rendered worse, for if sinners they are made glad in finding one as guilty as themselves, if righteous, they are exalted, being led by the sins of others to think more highly of themselves. Secondly, the body of the Church suffers; for those who hear him are not all content to blame the guilty only, but to fasten the reproach also on the Christian religion. Thirdly, the glory of God is evil spoken of for as our well-doing makes the name of God to be glorified, so our sins cause it to be blasphemed. Fourthly, the object of reproach is confounded and becomes more reckless and immovable. Fifthly, the ruler is himself made liable to punishment for uttering things which are not seemly. … He heard the words, that I am not as the Publican. He was not angry, but pricked to the heart. The one uncovered the wound, the other seeks for its remedy. Let no one then ever put forth so cold an excuse as, I dare not, I am ashamed, I cannot open my mouth. The devils have that kind of fear. The devil would fain close against you every door of access to God. … This parable represents to us two chariots on the race course, each with two charioteers in it. In one of the chariots it places righteousness with pride, in the other sin and humility. You see the chariot of sin outstrip that of righteousness, not by its own strength but by the excellence of humility combined with it, but the other is defeated not by righteousness, but by the weight and swelling of pride. For as humility by its own elasticity rises above the weight of pride, and leaping up reaches to God, so pride by its great weight easily depresses righteousness. Although therefore you are earnest and constant in well doing, yet think you may boast yourself, you are altogether devoid of the fruits of prayer. But you that bears a thousand loads of guilt on your conscience, and only think this thing of yourself that you are the lowest of all men, shall gain much confidence before God. And He then goes on to assign the reason of His sentence. For every one who exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. The word humility has various meanings. There is the humility of virtue, as, A humble and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. There is also a humility arising from sorrows, as, He has humbled my life upon the earth. There is a humility derived from sin, and the pride and insatiability of riches. For can any thing be more low and debased than those who grovel in riches and power, and count them great things? … This inflation of pride can cast down even from heaven the man that takes not warning, but humility can raise a man up from the lowest depth of guilt. The one saved the Publican before the Pharisee, and brought the thief into Paradise before the Apostles; the other entered even into the spiritual powers. But if humility though added to sin has made such rapid advances, as to pass by pride united to righteousness, how much swifter will be its course when you add to it righteousness? It will stand by the judgment-seat of God in the midst of the angels with great boldness. Moreover if pride joined to righteousness had power to depress it, to what a hell will it thrust men when added to sin? This I say not that we should neglect righteousness, but that we should avoid pride.

Venerable Bede:

Typically, the Pharisee is the Jewish people, who boast of their ornaments because of the righteousness of the law, but the Publican is the Gentiles, who being at a distance from God confess their sins. Of whom the one for His pride returned humbled, the other for his contrition was thought worthy to draw near and be exalted.

III. Reply to Sproul

Sproul claims that the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican is a difference in belief. According to Sproul, the Pharisee believes that God’s grace has made him whole, while the Publican believes that he is an unrighteous sinner. Sproul then uses this difference in belief (between the Pharisee and the Publican) to argue that believing the Reformed conception of imputation grants justification and eternal life in heaven with God, while believing the Catholic doctrine of infusion leads to eternal weeping in gnashing of teeth in hell.

However, it needs to be pointed out that from the Pharisee’s “God, I thank You …,” we are not warranted in concluding that the Pharisee knows that he needed the grace of God, that God had to work in him, or that God is due all the glory for his obedience. His expression “God, I thank You …” may have been the use of religious language as a pretense of piety, not sincere gratitude for what he recognized to be a gift from God. Even a Pelagian could thank God for the power he has by nature to accomplish good works. So thanking God for his state, even if the gratitude was sincere, does not show that the Pharisee recognized that he had received grace from God. It surely does not show that he thought of himself as having received by infusion the righteousness of Christ. So Sproul’s insinuation that the Pharisee’s position corresponds to that of the Catholic is already an unwarranted claim.

But, setting that problem aside, what we see throughout the Church Fathers’ comments on this passage of Scripture is that the reason why the Publican goes down to his house justified and the Pharisee does not, is not fundamentally because of an intellectual error on the part of the Pharisee concerning his own condition. Strictly speaking, the Pharisee uttered no false statement in his prayer, so far as we know. Rather, according to the Church Fathers the Pharisee went away not justified, because he was full of pride, while the Publican possessed true humility. Though pride distorts our conception of ourselves, nevertheless, pride and humility reside first and fundamentally in the will, not the intellect. Hence the relevant soteriological difference between the Pharisee and the Publican was not an intellectual or doctrinal difference, but that the former was full of pride, while the latter had true humility.

The Pharisee’s pride condemned him, not his awareness of his external obedience in other areas. And for this reason the case of the Pharisee does not justify the conclusion that those who believe that through baptism they have received by infusion the righteousness of Christ are ipso facto unjustified or condemned. The infusion of Christ’s righteousness does not entail the presence of (or need for) pride any more than does the extra nos imputation of Christ’s righteousness. When St. Paul wrote, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11), he was not giving the Corinthian believers a ground for pride or vainglory, by reminding them that they had truly been sanctified. The sin of pride does not necessarily accompany the infusion of righteousness merited for us by Christ; it if did, we could never become internally righteous, not even in heaven. This is why what caused the Pharisee to go away unjustified does not necessarily accompany believing the Catholic doctrine concerning infusion. But Sproul’s argument assumes that believing the Catholic doctrine regarding infusion entails the error of the Pharisee in the parable. Of course a Catholic could, like the Pharisee, fall into the sin of pride. So could a Christian of any tradition, including those in the Reformed tradition. But because the sin of pride is not entailed by the Catholic doctrine of infusion, therefore the conclusion of Sproul’s argument does not follow.

The person who has received righteousness by infusion knows that he still possesses concupiscence (see the section “V. Errors Regarding the Removal of Sin Through Baptism” in “Aquinas and Trent: Part 7.”), that in comparison to the saints and angels (and God Himself) he is an unrighteous, unworthy sinner, and that he has a long, long way to go in growing in sanctification. He knows that he sins venially at least seven times a day. In the lives of the saints we find that the greater the saint, the more clearly he sees his remaining sinfulness. That’s the paradox. And yet, that does not entail the Lutheran or Reformed notion of simul iustus et peccator, precisely because of the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin (see comment #58 in the “St. Augustine on Faith without Love” thread for an explanation and defense of that distinction).

In the Reformed picture, all sin (both mortal and venial) is compatible with having received extra nos imputation. Hence a person can be simultaneously justified and in [mortal] sin. But the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin explains why mortal sin is incompatible with being in a state of grace and righteousness, while venial sin is compatible with being in a state of grace and righteousness. And so the person who has received Christ’s righteousness by infusion is, at the same time, truly righteous (because he has agape in his soul — see Romans 5:5), and yet still in continual need of conversion and repentance in turning away from venial sin, and asking daily for the forgiveness of such sins. (See “Reformed Imputation and the Lord’s Prayer.”) He has no ground for the pride exhibited by the Pharisee; he has every reason like the Publican to beat his chest in contrition and humility, asking the Lord to have mercy on him.

The difficulty, from the Reformed point of view, is understanding how a person can be truly righteous internally, while still having concupiscence and venial sin. In baptism, the sanctifying grace and agape merited for us by Christ on the cross are infused into our souls; we have the spirit of the law in our hearts, even while concupiscence remains in our lower passions and appetites, and even when we commit venial sins. Agape is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:8, 10, Gal. 5:14, James 2:8), because agape is the standard of the law. And agape is in the will.2 Therefore righteousness in its essence is in the will, while concupiscence is not in the will, but in the lower appetites. Just because a person has disorder in his lower appetites, it does not follow that he is not righteous before God, because as long as he has agape in the will (i.e. he loves God with the supernatural love by which God loves Himself), he is truly a friend of God, even if he has disordered lower appetites which he resists with his will, because of his love for God. That is why if we have agape in our soul, we are truly righteous, even though we still have concupiscence. We grow in agape not by moving from some percentage of agape (and hence from unrighteousness or enmity with God) to a higher percentage of agape, but by growing in our participation in agape, from a state of friendship with God, to a state of deeper friendship with God.3

So, in short, the mistake in Sproul’s argument is assuming that the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican is that the Pharisee believes that God’s grace has “made him whole” while the Publican knows that he is an unrighteous sinner. According to the Church Fathers, the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican is not fundamentally a doctrinal or intellectual difference, but that the former had the sin of pride, while the latter possessed the virtue of humility. And for that reason, Sproul’s conclusion that believing the Catholic doctrine of infusion grants one an eternal destiny of weeping and gnashing of teeth along with the Pharisee, does not follow. However, Catholics can agree with Sproul that we all should put on the humility Christ reveals in the parable, beating our breasts and crying out, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

  1. On this point, Sproul is following John Calvin. See Tim Troutman’s “Soli Deo Gloria: A Catholic Perspective.” []
  2. Summa Theologica II-II Q.24 a.1. []
  3. See Summa Theologica II-II Q.24 article 5. []
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  1. Permit me here to write under a pseudonym for reasons that will become obvious.

    I suffer from severe depression that lends itself towards despair. What I have to deal with from time to time because my brain isn’t wired right is not fun but it does provide a certain clarity for various topics. Imputed justification, even if it were true, points towards a god that is not worthy of being worshiped. What is wrong with me is not something that can be resolved by imputed justification and in fact turns salvation into hell. People who are depressed do not feel love, often even self love, and their affect is all screwed up. The human person is a creation that is a being in relationship — we exist to be with others and what we desire is to truly know those that we love and to be known truly by those that we love. We desire this immense personal connectivity. The problem with imputed justification is that it says that it is not “I” whom the Father loves but rather the Father loves only the merits of Christ that have been imputed to me. The Father doesn’t love me or even really has a connect to me. It is also not just that the Father is distant and unable to reach me because Christ is in the way (yes imputed justification on the flip side says that Christ is a barrier between my being and the Father — if Christ is the barrier that protects me from the wrath of the Father, the barrier also prevents me from receiving the Father’s love) but there is also a real sense that the Father doesn’t want to have anything to do with me who is hidden under Christ’s imputation — the Father really is only interacting with Christ / Christ’s imputed merits. That type of reality is not merciful in the least, especially for someone who suffers from depression, and it is quite hellish to consider that the Father, who saddled me with this cross, doesn’t really want to have anything to do with me, and, in fact, does not have anything to do with me only the imputed merits of Christ (which are not a part of me anyway). Besides, the whole problem with imputed justification is that the problem is not with me and my sin, but rather with the Father’s wrath — the Father has all this wrath that needs to be emptied out either by sending me to hell or emptying it out on the Son on the cross (this implies arianism or nestoranism). But this whole system has no effect at all on my depression which makes it impossible at times to feel connected to anyone, even God. Depression and despair cannot be resolved by imputed justification. If it is imputed, I am still cut off from the Father (because Christ is in the way) and I do not have salvation.

    Bryan — Good article. It needs to be pointed out more that Mr. Sproul Jr has at best a very sloppy understanding of Judaism. The prayer of the Pharisee given in Luke is a variant of the barakhot prayer

    Baruch atah Hashem Elokenu melech haolam, shelo asani goy.
    Praise to you, the Lord Our God, King of the universe, who did not make me a Gentile.
    Baruch atah Hashem Elokenu melech haolam, shelo asani aved.
    Praise to you, the Lord Our God, King of the universe, who did not make me a slave.
    Baruch atah Hashem Elokenu melech haolam, shelo asani isha.
    Praise to you, the Lord Our God, King of the universe, who did not make me a woman.

    The whole theology of this prayer needs to be taken into context when addressing Luke.

    First, it wouldn’t be correct to say that the Pharisee believes that he has been made righteous — the Pharisee believes that he is righteous because he is a descendent of Abraham and holds to the Pharisaical understanding of Judaism. He wasn’t made righteous by grace, he is created righteous because he was born a Jew. Now the tax collector is not a sinner in the eyes of the Pharisee because he collects taxes (implying that he cheats people) but rather the tax collectors, in gathering the treasure of Israel to give to the (hated) Romans, is viewed as a betrayer of his people. It is important to keep in mind the racial elements that are in play here as well as the understanding that one’s religion was dependent upon one’s race — especially for Judaism, a gentile could practice aspects of Judaism but they would never be a Jew and were relegated to the court of the gentiles and could not enter the temple to worship.

    If anything, the parable in Luke needs to be taken as a repudiation of the Reformed view that one is assured of election to eternal salvation simply because they are part of the elect here on earth. After all, that is the actual view of the Pharisee — because I am a Jew, I am saved. That is even what the bible directly says “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others:” Because I am Reformed and hold to a cognitive belief in imputation I am saved. Is that not the same pride as the Pharisee?

    Not surprisingly Sproul Jr. really doesn’t understand Catholicism. The whole concept of infused justification is setup to engender a spirit of humility and dependence upon God’s grace for sanctification and salvation. Synergistic salvation only works if one is humble and always seeks after God’s mercy and grace. Catholics are not rightious because they are Catholics they are rightious only if they are in a synergistic relationship with God. Thus his argument that the Catholic belief system is detrimental is without merit unless he is saying that one should not be humble and seek after mercy and rather only pridefully proclaim that they are of the elect and having been so imputed are so saved. Then again I have been castigated plenty of times by Reformed individuals for saying that. But Sproul Jr in his last sentance says that Reformed should be humble so it seems to me like he is trying to have it both ways. But if Sproul Jr. wants Christians to have humility and to ask for mercy then he should look to Catholic theology and infused justification for it is all about humility and mercy.

  2. I can grant the difference of conviction, though I believe that imputation view is wrong, being not biblical and not supported in the Church Fathers, as in the Apostolic Tradition, but this view of relating the infusion to eternal destination, is not only wrong, but absurd. It smells of intellectualism, and a kind of mind assent theology of salvation, which I have seen affect some section of the Reformed world. And appealing to the Bible, on the basis of their proclaimed basic system, Sola Scriptura, when I read this, the passage of Matthew 25, came to mind, as I have just read it a few days a go, on a reference of Saint Francis De Sales challenging Beza who had attacked him on the presupposed serious error of Catholic teaching on works, as being salvific, with this passage, when Christ simply relates the eternal fate of one with the presence or absence of good works, out of love for Him. So I wonder where he and other Reformed teachers get this idea to go so far to such a conclusion.
    Leonard

  3. Did anyone else notice this flaw in Sproul’s argument?

    The publican, on the other hand, knows what he still is, a sinner. The mercy he cries out for isn’t that he would be made a saint, but that he would be a forgiven sinner. He cannot cooperate. He cannot stand. He can only, and even this is the grace of God, cry out for the mercy of God, which is found in Christ alone.

    According to Sproul, the publican “cannot cooperate”… “he can only [cooperate]…by the grace of God. Am I missing something or is Sproul missing something here?

  4. But at the same time I think that it should not astonish us at all, since it is within their system of thought, in harmony with previous references in this blog, on the absurdity of the implication of the idea that only after the Reformation, the teaching of the Church was corrected, which brings with it the presumption that before the Reformation, except some individuals, the majority are condemned. Now, as I am reading a book on the life of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, I relate all his generous works, to this conclusion, and I am so terrified of the idea that such saints, like Mother Teresa, and many other end up in hell because of a deviation of justification by faith or imputation theology. And when you think that though there are individuals from both protestants and Catholics who are involved in great works of charity, who else except the Catholic sisters are involved institutionally in helping the needy and the poor, in fulfillment of Matt. 25, and many faithful Catholics? It is a pity that Dante could write His famous Divine Comedy before Reformation, that he could not include in his work a description of a specific section in hell, with all those who adhere to infusion.

  5. The Parable of the Pharisee and Publican explicitly refutes Protestantism! Consider three points:

    1) Both men were already believers, going to daily prayers. Thus, they were not converting for the first time, and thus the justification of the Publican must have been a restoring of lost justification by sin (a la David in Rom 4:6-8, quoting Ps 32, who wasn’t converting but repenting after grave sin). Side note: Lutherans (rightly) teach in the Book of Concord (Smalcald Articles 3:3:43), quoting Martin Luther: “when holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them.” In other words, David lost his salvation (justification) and had to repent to recover it, as Romans 4 describes his repentance in Psalm 32.

    2) The term “faith” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Parable (though it’s presumed)! Thus, it cannot be JBFA. Instead, we see something truly abominable to Protestant ears: Justification by Humility (a ‘work’ they’d say). Moreover, this humility was indeed a good work that pleased God, again something abominable to Protestant ears.

    3) The Parable explicitly refutes Imputation in favor of Infusion when it defines Justification: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” This is an inner transformation of the soul!

  6. It seems obvious upon reflection that RC Sproul Jr. is forcing his theology on the text. It’s the tail wagging the dog. It’s sad actually. His bias against Roman Catholicism and in favor of Reformed theology comes accross loud and clear. In short, his interpretation is in no way a good faith effort. Most sadly of all it does not seem as though he even has the slightest clue that he has done this.

  7. I haven’t finished the article yet, so forgive me if this gets addressed: What exactly was the problem with the Pharisees?

    According to Reformed theology, the problem with the Pharisees was not that not that they were rank legalists who thought they could work their way to heaven, but rather, the problem was that they considered their relative, grace-wrought obedience to be sufficient not just to secure God’s temporal blessings for the nation (such as long life in the land), but also to gain the eternal rewards promised to Abraham. So they weren’t proto-Pelagians, but they were more like proto semi-Pelagians.

    And of course, the Reformed look at Rome’s soteriology and see a remarkable similarity, with the whole “God looks at us through eyes of grace and accepts our admittedly imperfect obedience as suffcient” thing. Think facientibus quod en se est… and you’ll get what I’m referring to.

    Now, if I am properly characterizing Catholic soteriology (recognizing that this is massively abbreviated), then I would expect that the Catholic, in order to avoid being compared to a Pharisee, would disagree with my description of Phariseeism, right?

    So back to my original question: You know what the Reformed consider to have been the problem with the Pharisees, but what was their problem according to Rome?

  8. Hi Jason,

    The Pharisees were condemned in the Gospels because of their hypocrisy, not “pelagianism”. (Pelagianism isn’t really an issue in the Bible.) What many people don’t know is that the Judaizers and Pharisees strongly emphasized a form of “Unconditional Election”. They taught by simple virtue of being born a Jew (especially upper class, “I thank thee God for not making me like this Publican”), they were entitled to all the benefits and promises of Abraham. The “non-elect” were the inferior classes of Jews and Gentiles. This is the very thesis Paul seeks to demolish in Romans 9 to 11.

  9. Jason,

    Jesus sums up their problem in Matthew 23 and Luke 11. They were not in a state of grace; otherwise, they would have accepted Christ.

    If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:42-44)

    They did not have sanctifying grace, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or agape. Hence their obedience was all external and outward; in fact their lives were full of disobedience and hypocrisy, as Jesus often pointed out.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  10. JJS,

    Good to see you again. I try to stay up on your blog to understand you better.

    The problem with the Pharisees according to Matthew’s witness was (1) hypocrisy-Matt 3:7, Matt 15:8-9, 23:29, (2) they equated Christ with the devil-Matt 9:34, 12: 24, (3) had not faith in Christ as God-Matt 12:38, 16:1, 22:41-45, (4) were false teachers-Matt 16:12, (5) stopped people who were “trying” to enter the kingdom of heaven-Matt 23:13, and (6) didn’t have infused righteousness (sanctifying grace)-they only got the outside of their tomb/cup clean-Matt 23:25-28; Luke 7:29-30.

    The passage in Luke 18 can be understood within the pedagogical purpose of Jesus, to set straight those who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at nought” (Luke 18:9). What can you do to be saved? A: Humble yourself (something the pharisee could not do). This interpretation is consistent with the encounter in vv.18-23 and Christ’s words in vv.29-30, “No man has left…who shall not receive…eternal life”.

    Peace to you on your journey,

    Brent

  11. Bryan,

    So it sounds from your reply that there is no distinct thing called “Phariseeism,” but that the Pharisees’ problem was the same shared by anyone who is not a believer. Is that correct?

  12. Jason, (re: #11)

    I didn’t say that there was no distinct thing called Pharisaism. There was. And throughout the gospels Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for practices and beliefs that characterized the Pharisees as a sect. Their problem wasn’t that they considered “their … grace-wrought obedience to be sufficient … to gain eternal rewards.” They didn’t have sanctifying grace, and they didn’t have genuine obedience, only external obedience. That’s how they ‘justified’ tithing mint and dill and cummin, while neglecting the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. (Mt. 23:23) The root problem was at the level of the heart, where it is for all men. They washed the cup and the dish, and they washed their hands before they ate, and kept ritual purity, but inside they were wicked, whitewashed sepulchers (Mt. 23:27). Hence Jesus says, “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” (Mt. 23:26)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  13. Pharisee: “I thank Thee, Almighty Father, that Thou hast in Thy graciousness gathered me into Thy family, through no merit of my own, and hast through the operation of Thy Most Holy Spirit poured out into my heart the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and love, gifting me with Thy most undeserved presence, through the instrumentality of that fides quae per dilectionem operatur, by means of which the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity infuses His own righteousness to me, which is the formal cause of my justification in Thy sight. I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast forgiven me of my most grievous sins for the sake of Christ, and that Thou hast moreover in Thy goodness wrought goodness within me, so as to draw me nearer to Thee, as I convert myself with the help of Thy grace toward the vision of Thy glory and away from all sinful attachment to creatures. Amen.”

    Publican: “Gracious Father, I know that Thou hast infused Thine own righteousness to me, as I become progressively sanctified with the help of Thy grace, in accordance with Westminster Confession 13. Nevertheless, I know that this most gracious infusion of Thy righteousness is not the formal cause of my justification before Thee, but that Thou hast reckoned me holy on account of an imputed righteousness alien to me, for the sake of Christ. And so I now beat my breast, recognizing that I myself have sinned in Thy sight, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do. Mea maxima culpa.”

    Really? I mean, no need to go all NT Wright or whatever. But c’mon.

  14. Neal,

    That was good…real good!

    Wasn’t it said of the Jansenists, “You are as pure as angels but as proud as devils.” As Bryan said, the tragic problem of many Pharisees was pride, many aimed for mere external obedience, thus reducing the faith and this led to many rejecting the One who came in their midst to lead them out of exile.

  15. Leonard (#2): “So I wonder where he and other Reformed teachers get this idea to go so far to such a conclusion.”

    It is absurd. That’s why a great many Protestants have suggested that being justified by faith alone doesn’t necessarily entail believing in justification by faith alone (as if mere assensus to a doctrinal proposition justified). I even remember Sproul Sr. saying as much on a few occasions (though admittedly while he allows for a wide berth of mercy to Catholic laity in this regard, he’s not so patient with Catholic clergy/theologians, since he figures they understand the issues and knowingly reject the truth).

    Anyway, for what it’s worth.

  16. JJS,

    “grace wrought” works wouldn’t be semi-pelagian. That would be Augustinian. Semi-Pelagianism was, if it ever was anything, a thesis about the first movement of faith apart from the inner working of grace. It wasn’t a distinct thesis about synergism per se. Augustine is quite happy with synergism in justification for example. See Fairbairn’s, Grace and Christology in the Early Church, Oxford.

  17. Bryan said:
    “The infusion of Christ’s righteousness does not entail the presence of (or need for) pride any more than does the extra nos imputation of Christ’s righteousness.”

    In my experience as a recent convert to the Church this is what Protestant critics of Catholic soteriology nearly always fail to understand. I think I grasp the difference and “understand the issues” as Chris Donato says in #15. And having believed wholeheartedly specifically in imputation as opposed to infusion (as taught to me by Sproul Sr.) and now believing in infusion, I can say that I certainly don’t feel any more pride or any trust in my own works or anything like that. If God infuses sanctifying grace into us, how in the world does that lead us to pride? In my experience it leads to a greater awareness of sin, but I don’t think I am any more prideful. Salvation is a work of Christ in me, and I am no more tempted to pride as a Catholic than I was when I was Reformed.
    I used to be a huge fan of RC Jr. I have most of his “basement tapes” and used to subscribe to his magazine “every though captive”. He is funny and smart, and a godly guy. His views on family life and education are the best in the Reformed world imo. But in his isogesis of this parable to make it fit an imputation model and condemning infusion he seems to be really grasping at straws.

  18. ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, Arminians, or even as this Roman Catholic who holds the Catholic doctrine of infusion rather than the Reformed doctrine of imputation.’

  19. Hi,
    Can you clarify the relationship between concupiscence and Trent’s statement that God hates nothing in the regenerate? Why is concupiscence eliminated in those in heaven if it is not hated in some sense by God? Davenant expressed the concern better than I can:

    “The regenerate hate this rebellious concupiscence within themselves, and that from a good will conformed to the Divine. But there is nothing hateful to God and good men, except sin. That the regenerate hate their own rebellious concupiscence the Apostle testifies, Rom. vii. 15, What I hate, that I do; which words refer to the rebellious act of concupiscence, which is resisted. For so says Augustine: “That love is to be hated, wherewith an object is beloved which ought not to be so loved. For we hate our concupiscence, wherewith the fiesh lusteth against the spirit; for what is that concupiscence but an evil love?” Now it is an opinion perfectly true, and most commonly received among all Theologians, that nothing must be hated except sin. Bellarmine replies, That concupiscence is hated by God and good men, not as Sin Properly So Called, but as a Disease. In this, however, he expressly contradicts the Council of Trent, which declares that God hates nothing in the regenerate; nor does what he adds help him out of the difficulty, that the Council means hatred redounding upon the person. For the Fathers of Trent, and almost all the Papists, contend, that if anything remains in the regenerate deserving the hatred of God, that hatred cannot but redound upon the persons of the regenerate. Bellarmine therefore, has now plainly become a deserter to our side, and acknowledges that the hatred of God does not fall upon the regenerate, although they have in them disorder most worthy of hatred. Moreover, as to what he further says, that concupiscence is hated by God, not as sin but as a disease, is a foolish evasion; for God does not hate diseases, seeing they are not sins, but mere penalties. But the disorders of the mind deserve the hatred of God, require remission, and fasten guilt upon the person unless they are remitted; and by consequence they are most strictly sins.

    Hence Augustine, speaking of such diseases, says “Those disorders require no bodily physician, but are cured by the medicine of Christ’s grace; first, so as not to bind under guilt; next, so as not to overcome in the conflict; lastly, so as to be entirely healed, and disappear altogether.” But the notion which Bellarmine puts forward, That concupiscence is hated, not because it is sin, but because it incites to sin, and because we sustain a constant strife with it, altogether favours our view. For that which, in the form of an innate and corrupt disposition incites to actual sin, is thereby shewn to be Original Sin. But the evil against which the regenerate are constantly striving, is not merely a disease bearing the character of a penal infliction; but a rebellious principle which, in its very nature, leads to condemnation; for to penal inflictions we are to submit; but innate sin is to be resisted. Our demonstration, therefore, is invincible ;—that concupiscence is an evil deserving the hatred both of God and man, therefore it is sin.”

  20. Jennie, (re: #18)

    To be fair, that’s not what Sproul is saying. He’s saying that the Reformed are going to heaven, and that Catholics are not, but I don’t see him thanking God for not being a Catholic. In fact, he urges his fellow Reformed brothers and sisters to humility at the end of his article.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  21. Interlocutor, (re: #19)

    What Trent means by ‘hated’ is that which is at enmity with God, and that is in the will. Suffering will also be eliminated in heaven, but suffering is not at enmity with God, or else Christ could not have suffered. So, when Davenant says, “But there is nothing hateful to God and good men, except sin” he is conflating the different senses of ‘hate.’ And that’s why his criticism of Bellarmine is misguided, because Davenant seems not to understand that Trent is speaking of ‘hate’ in its absolute sense, and not in its relative sense. Also, his statement, “For that which, in the form of an innate and corrupt disposition incites to actual sin, is thereby shewn to be Original Sin,” is a non sequitur. I discussed concupiscence and Session V of Trent in “Aquinas and Trent: Part 7.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  22. Bryan,
    yes, I went back and read Sproul’s article AFTER I posted that comment, as I should have done before.

    I do disagree, however, with Sproul seeming to say that it is what we believe that saves us, rather than who we believe in. I believe the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican was that one saw his continuing sinfulness and need of God, and the other thought he was righteous (we are not told whether he thought his righteousness came from God or not) and didn’t need to be forgiven. He was blind to his own sin, of pride and whatever other sins he had.

  23. I think Sproul is misunderstanding the point of the parable, as I stated above; but is he also misunderstanding Catholic beliefs? Does the Catholic church really teach that “God has poured righteousness into him, and there he stands”?
    And am I misunderstanding Reformed beliefs, Does Sproul think that believers never have anything but imputed righteousness? Don’t they also believe that we are ‘conformed to the image of Christ’ as we walk in the Spirit?

  24. Jennie,
    Reformed definitely believe in infusion and union with christ and all the benefits that flow from that. They just believe our infused/inherent righteousness and sanctification is always inchoate and never perfect in this life and so can’t stand as the sole formal cause of justification.

  25. Interlocutor,
    you say the Reformed believe infused righteousness is never perfect and ‘so can’t stand as the sole formal cause of justification’. I would think they believe it can’t stand at all as a cause of justification. I think I agree with them that only Christ’s imputed righteousness justifies us, or makes us right with God. Once we are justified then what we become or do is by God’s grace as well. We can’t be any more justified. That’s my belief, and I think that of the Reformed as well.

  26. My point here might be jejune, but Sproul, Jr. is simply borrowing from his father’s work in What is Reformed Theology: Understanding the Basics. I recommend reading here to better understand the confusion at play. The confusion is highlighted, I think best, by the paragraph that concludes at the top of pg.71 and the following paragraphs. One is left thinking that the Publican went along his way praising God in a spirit of humility and penance, all the while “proving” by works that he possessed living faith in the imputed, alien righteousness of Christ.

  27. Interlocutor, what do you propose the union with Christ consists in? What kind of union is it?

  28. Hi Jennie,
    Agreed about the Reformed not believing infusion can stand as the sole formal cause of justification – I was just citing Trent there since there were debates amongst Catholics before Trent (such as Contarini at Regensburg) about a twofold righteousness in justification – one imputed, one infused – and some Catholics today think that Trent could permit imputation (it may, but the latin wording describing infusion as the sole formal cause seems to lock out room for that). So yeah you’re right that justification for the Reformed is a binary thing since they believe imputed righteousness justifies and so there are no degrees of justification or becoming more and more justified as in Catholicism – but infusion is still part of salvation and sanctification and a benefit of union with Christ (as Bucer said, “God never imputes righteousness without also imparting it”), but not justification.

  29. Interlocutor,

    It doesn’t seem right to gloss the Reformed view as binary. Rather, the Reformed view seeks to secure human activity as only a causal effect and moral credit cannot be grounded in the individual’s state. The difference seems to be thus-for Rome, the justice has to be grounded in the agent, therefore it must be incomplete-for the Reformed, the justice has to be complete so it cannot be grounded in the agent.

  30. Hi Perry,
    Do you think theosis/divinization is incompatible with imputation – the two are mutually exclusive? Not sure exactly what you’re asking, but union is not foreign to the Reformers as I’m sure you’re aware – one can just echo Calvin’s thought “Let us then mark, that the end of the gospel is, to render us eventually conformable to God, and, if we may so speak, to deify us. But the word nature is not here essence but quality.” We do not become one with Christ’s essence as Calvin’s dispute with Osiander laid out, it is a mystical union as Calvin says – “That joining together of Head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts – in short, that mystical union – are accorded by us the highest degree of importance, so that Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed. We do not, therefore, contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body – in short, because he deigns to make us one with him.”

  31. Interlocutor,

    By imputation, if you mean that moral credit is extrinsic and ungrounded in the agent, then yes, I do think it is incompatible with the patristic doctrine of theosis, as well as a Chalcedonian Christology. And nothing in Calvin or any other Reformed figure changes that so far as I can see-more on this below.

    I realize that union is not foreign to the Reformers, but there are many notions of union. For example, Cyril and Nestorius both believe in a union in and with Christ, but they differed on what constituted the union. So my question is, what constitutes the union? Saying it is “mystical” doesn’t really do that work. I am aware of the debate with Osiander and a denial of a union to the divine essence. but then to what is one united that is deity if there is nothing more to God for the Reformers than the divine essence?

    This is given I think by Calvin in the material you cite. By “gifts” and “quality”, Calvin seems to mean a created thing that is an effect produced in us by divine power. That is, we receive the same created effects of divine power that the humanity of Christ received. This I’d argue is in the Reformed tradition, a subtle form of adoptionism and nestorianism along the lines of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Diadore of Tarsus and Theodoret of Cyrrus. (Its pretty clear in John Owen for example.) The Spirit comes to humanity from the outside so that grace is extrinsic and alien to nature, empowers the humanity so that it can earn divine favor, climbing the Pelagian ladder of merit on our behalf. Calvin can no more advocate the patristic doctrine of theosis than he can advocate of view of “Christ” as all and only a divine person. His Christology precludes such a view since “Christ” is the person of the mediator, which is more for Calvin and the Reformed tradition than the person of the Eternal Logos.

    Hence his language picks out a much more anemic view of theosis than the patristic doctrine (and biblical doctrine). I realize that right now everyone has “theosis envy” (R) and this is something of a fad. The same can be said of attempts to find the doctrine in Luther and other figures. But finding langauge that speaks of deification doesn’t of itself pick out the patristic teaching on the matter, nor the biblical one necessarily. (This is the fundamental weakness of Billing’s work. Sure, lots of people have A doctrine of theosis, but not THE doctrine of theosis. so who cares if Calvin and Luther had their own particular doctrine of it, if what is significant is if it was the patristic one?) For myself, I can’t see how participating in something more purely human amounts to participating in the divine nature, except in the weakest sense of participation.

    That said, I can’t see how what you’ve written so far cashes out what kind of union Calvin has in mind. In my own judgment, it is a kind of union had by two extrinsically related things, one of which is the cause and the other which is the effect. Perhaps you have something more to add that could correct or clarify my thoughts.

  32. Hi Perry,
    Good thoughts I’ll have to mull over – any works you recommend concerning these issues? Do you think that a robust notion of theosis cannot survive without the essence/energies distinction? If so, and you think that the imputation + infusion model is incompatible with it, can the Catholic infusion-only model still account for it, or do you find problems with that leading to a deficient notion of union as well?

  33. Interlocutor,

    There’s a ton of stuff on theosis, but Russell’s survey is probably the best place to start. No, I do not think imputation + infusion model will work with or without the essence/energies distinction, because it is incompatible with a Chalcedonian Christology. I don’t think Catholic models work either since they lack the doctrine of energies, but the scholastics make a better go of it than the Reformed do. At the end of the day I don’t think either wash.

    That said, that doesn’t tell me what you think constitutes the union with Christ in Reformed theology, so perhaps you can spill some ink for me on that score.

  34. Perry,

    The Covenantors would explain the union as being defined by the Covenant of Redemption. As Christ is the representative of the eelct they are federally united to him. The metaphysics of it are not spoken on. At least in my studies. John L. Girardeau has a section in his Discussion of Theological Questions where he deals with the metaphysics of the union. He explains how the elect particpate in the eternal sonship of Christ as united to him. That would be an uncreated aspect of Reformed Soteriology.

    I feel no obligation to defend the scholastic view of God in the Reformers as Dr. Clark clearly rejected it. However, the raison d’etre of Clark’s system is univocal knowledge of God through union with the Logos as he communicates his mind to us. Our participation in God is therefore clearly uncreated. With regard to theosis, the righteousness of God and the created/uncreated issue is apples and oranges with the EO. The issue with the Reformed is the law is created and obedience to it, must be in that context. The whole covenant theology of the Reformers is centered around God’s Law. The forensic aspects of redemption are dealt with at that level. But participation in God which overlaps here and there in Clark’s system would be the clearest explanation of theosis. That’s real particpation in God. The Eastern Church has only uncreated middle-men. Farrell explains the Energies as being in a middle position between God and man while the essence of God resides in the darkness. That’s not theosis. I’m sorry. You are not participating in God on that system.

    With regard to the righteousness of God as 2 Cor 5:21 states it, and whether it is created or uncreated:
    James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, Part 2 LECT. VIII. Justification; The Scriptural Meaning of the Term, Proposition 3

    “secondly, a work of righteousness by God the Son,[CREATED]—His vicarious righteousness as the Redeemer of His people, when He ‘became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross,’ and thus became ‘the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ But these two-God’s righteousness which was declared,[UNCREATED] and Christ’s righteousness which was wrought out, on the Cross[CREATED]—********although they may be distinguished, cannot be separated, from one another; for they were indissolubly united in one and the same propitiation;********* and while the righteousness which is revealed for our Justification may be called ‘the righteousness of God’ ********with some reference to both, it properly consists in the merit of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and perfect obedience,******** for these were offered by Him as our substitute and representative”

    So in the Reformed view you have created and uncreated aspects to it. I simply do not see the Eastern Orthodox ontological soteriology as being something that can explain the New Testament due to all the forensic language about a paraclete, an advocate, a certifcate of debts being nailed to Christ’s cross, etc. Uh, I think it was Meyendorf that i was reading a number of months ago that stated that seeing only one aspect to God’s works is the primary error of a theologian. I have to agree with him which is why the Ontological-aspect-only Theology of the East does not satisfy me. Second, I don’t see the Eastern View of God as being something that can sustain a Christian Theology. Dionysius the Areopagite’s plagiarism of Proclus has become all to obvious to the world and maybe Perry should consider that a bit more.

  35. Drake,

    Saying that the Covenantors would explain union as defined by the covenant of redemption bakes no bread. What kind of union is it? This is what I asked “interlocutor” above. If you can specify the kind of union, then please do so.

    Given that the Sonship of Christ per the person of the mediator comes into existence at the incarnation for the Reformed, I fail to see how that could provide an uncreated platform for participation in God. Besides, participation is a notoriously ambiguous term in metaphysics, so you’d need to spell out exactly what that term means as to what kind of union is actuated.

    I don’t think anyone knows who Farrell is here except me and you so merely mentioning his name does nothing but…well…drop a name. That said, let me disabuse you of your caricature of the Eastern view. Since the energies are deity and fully so, as a “middle” position, they are not created intermediaries and so do not present the problem you pose. So yes, that is theosis and it is theosis as articulated by a good many Fathers down through the centuries, as Russell and tons of other works point out. Thinking of the energies that surround the divine essence as created substitutes is a common and almost comical mistake.

    If God’s declaration of just has a beginning relative to an agent in this world, then it is not uncreated. And besides, an extrinsic legal category isn’t theosis either. Buchanan’s work (which I’ve read) is predicated upon the same faulty Reformed Christology where the person of the mediator is a product of the union, tying two things together under a single name.

    I grant that the NT has plenty of legal language ein it, but it is also has language of being made free, being made clean, and being made immortal, glorified with divine glory and escaping corruption. And none of those things can be done by a legal flick of the cosmic wrist. More to the point, you seem to assume that the presence of legal language entails a specific theory of law, one that finds its home in the 16th century and not that of the first century world of Jesus and the Apostles. So I simply reject the implied claim that the NT has “forensic” language all over it, whereby is meant language of being classed as such apart from any internal state. The publican had the right disposition, which is why he went down to his home vindicated by God.

    I don’t take Dionysius’ use of Proclus any more plagiarism than the Plotinus’ use of Plato. Besides, ancient standards for using sources were significantly different than our own. And having been, as Damascius, the head of the Platonic Academy, I think he was in a good enough position to do so. That by itself says nothing as to his Christian faith. That said, there is nothing I need to “consider” it a bit more. It would be helpful to exercise your mind to imagine a more plausible reading of the person’s position you wish to criticize so as to anticipate any rejoinders prior to your fingers hitting the keys.

    At the end of the day, a mere forgiveness of our sins doesn’t change the fact that we are going to die. Nor does such a remission by itself give us the power to advance in divine virtue. The problem of sin and death is far deeper in human nature.

  36. Perry,

    You can listen to Richard Gaffin’s account of union with Christ here. From 32′ onwards is most relevant to your question. I doubt you’ll be satisfied with the explanation, but it’s still worth checking out.

    God bless,
    John

  37. I have read Mr. Cross’ reply to Spoul, and if he has correctly presented Spoul’s argument (and I have no reason to think otherwise), Spoul is really quite foolish and is making the parable serve as a prop for a preconceived dogma, rather than taking the parable on its own terms — and he isn’t the only theologian to so do. The fact is that the parable has NOTHING to do with infusion vs imputation.

    Mr. Cross, on the other hand, has made a number of errors, the first is to assume, as did the Fathers, that the parable is a piece of morality, and is about pride vs. humility — thus making the parable a prop for a moral, rather than dogmatic, teaching. The parable really has little to do with pride and humility, or at least only tangentially, and really isn’t a “go thou and do likewise” teaching. The teaching is rather about the way the world is, about the trap that lies in wait for good people.

    I wonder if Mr. Cross also has adopted a ineffective argumentative strategy. Spoul, a Fundamentalist Protestant, could care less what the Fathers or The Tradition has to say. I wonder if it would have been better to meet Spoul on his own grounds, the Scripture, and to show how he has misread the parable completely.

    I’ll develop my ideas in the course of the day. First let me read through the writebacks and see if the problem has already been addressed.

  38. Let me immediately add that “exalting” and “humbling” are the consequence of the teaching, but are not the chief teaching of the parable.

  39. Jennie,

    I agree with what you said in #22. As for your question in #23, “Does the Catholic church really teach that God has poured righteousness into him, and there he stands,” the Catholic teaching is that Christ’s righteousness is infused into a person instantly at baptism, such that that person is truly made righteous, because he has agape, and agape is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:8, 10, Gal. 5:14, James 2:8). It is not that one must have some certain degree or quantity of agape in order to be righteous. Just as even the tiniest measure of faith is sufficient (think of what Jesus says of the the mustard seed in Matthew 17:20, “for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you,” so having even the smallest measure of agape is sufficient to be righteous.

    Either we have the life of God (i.e. sanctifying grace), or we do not. There is no middle position. To have the life of God, is to be righteous, i.e. to have agape. The change from not having sanctifying grace and agape, to having sanctifying grace and agape and thereby being in friendship with God, is not the sort of thing that can take place through a process. It is necessarily instantaneous. Agape is a virtue (i.e. a ‘habitude’) of the will. (See Summa Theologica II-II Q.24 article 1.) A person either has it or he does not. There is no middle position. We grow in agape not by moving from some percentage of agape (e.g. 23%) to a higher percentage of agape, but by growing in our participation in agape. (See Summa Theologica II-II Q.24 article 5), from a full small cup, to a full larger cup.

    This is where the Reformed and Catholic paradigms differ. The following cartoon from Michael Horton’s Putting Amazing Back into Grace depicts the state of the Christian throughout his earthly life:

    In Catholic doctrine, by infusion we are worthy right now; we don’t cower from the Father behind Jesus. That’s what it means for our hearts to be circumcised (Rom 2) Those in a state of grace are truly righteous, by the agape that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). This is just what the gospel is — Christ actually makes us righteous, empowering us by grace and agape to keep the moral law (Rom 13:8,10, Gal. 5:14, James 2:8). Imputation in Catholic doctrine is not a legal fiction or a mere promissory note; we are counted righteousness by the God who cannot lie, because we are presently truly righteous by the infusion of sanctifying grace, faith, hope, and agape merited for us by Christ, received at our baptism, and nourished in the Eucharist.

    If the infused righteousness is there from the moment of regeneration, then God can truthfully declare the person righteous on the basis of that infused righteousness (that’s the Catholic position). In order to claim that there is infused righteousness and yet God cannot truly declare us righteous on the basis of that infused righteousness, you have to treat righteous as divisible into parts, such that the person who, at the moment of regeneration receives infused righteousness, only gets a part of righteous. St. Thomas argues against that in Summa Theologica II-II Q.24 a.5. Charity does not increase by addition, but by an increase in participation.

    The problem with claiming that God declares us justified, but that we remain not actually righteous (not friends with God), is that it makes God out to be a liar. God only imputes (reckons/counts) a person righteous, if that person is truly righteous. The notion of simul iustus et peccator (simultaneously justified and sinner) makes God into a liar, in that He calls us presently righteous when in fact we’re not presently righteous. (See the “Parable for Philosophers.” ) The nature of the “credited” [λογίζεται] in Romans 4:5 is not an extra nos, nominalistic imputation. Instead, the God who cannot lie counts (or reckons) us according to what we have actually been made by the immediate regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  40. You know guys, one of the best points on this, IMO is Watchman Nees distinction regarding what is said in Romans 6 and what is said in Romans 7.

    The cartoon above is great and I think the problem with the reformed view is that, in trying to understand why I still sin even though I am justified, they slip off the log.

    Romans 6 teaches that we died to sin and are no longer a slave. The death was real and complete (even miraculously physical as alluded to in Rom 8:11) and thus the resurrection makes us “alive to GOD in Christ” So we are NOT in slavery to sin…..

    Yet we still sin….This conundrum was of such severity that, as we all know the early Church wrestled and wrestled with how to deal with it.

    Watchman Nee pointed out simply that even though I am dead to sin, (Romans 6) sin is not dead to me (Romans 7) Going all the way back to Genesis and Cain we see that “sin is crouching at your door…” It is a living active predatory thing which, even though we are dead then resurrected is still actively attacking us.

    It seems that the idea of imputation ignores (or is simply ignorant of) the fact that while the Cross of Jesus Christ ontologically changes me when I access it through my baptism, the entity “sin” continues to attack…..

  41. BTW Anon for this post, your transparency is precious and I want to thank you for using your own situation to encourage the brothers (and sisters)

    Please know that our love for you, In Christ, is very real and I have no doubt that any of those posting here would in no way look down on you for your struggles…..We all have “our thing”…..the wreckage in our soul and bodies due to sin is certainly a common thread between us all and certainly one of our great hopes is what a life and world without the “sand in the gears” looks like.

  42. John,

    thanks, but I’ve heard Gaffin before. I don’t think there is any worry in theosis of a kind of hypostatic union between Christ and believer. Deification doesn’t imply a kind of relatinship where we are a drop melting away in an ocean of deity. For Gaffin though he still seems to build his view on the Reformed view that the Spirit and grace come to the humanity of Christ in an external fashion as well as the fundamental relationship between the believer and Christ in an extrinsic fashion, either in sanctification or justification.

  43. I am waiting for an admission from Perry that he is not participating in God. Cross and the West have a created light outside of God that they get and Perry and the East have an uncreated light outside of God or to use Farrell’s language “around God” that they get. Neither position gets anything in God. Will they admit it?

  44. Sid, (re: #37),

    You wrote:

    Mr. Cross, on the other hand, has made a number of errors, the first is to assume, as did the Fathers, that the parable is a piece of morality, and is about pride vs. humility — thus making the parable a prop for a moral, rather than dogmatic, teaching. The parable really has little to do with pride and humility,

    The consensus of the Fathers on this passage is precisely that it is fundamentally about pride and humility, as I showed in the article. Their testimony carries much more authority than does your assertion to the contrary. Also, I didn’t “assume” that the parable is about pride and humility; I arrived at this conclusion from the patristic evidence.

    Also, just as a general reminder, this thread (and CTC in general) is not a platform for anyone to use as his own vehicle of publication. For that purpose, it would be best to start one’s own blog. The only purpose of this combox is to discuss the article at the top of this page, as the Posting Guidelines point out: “Note that the comment boxes at CTC are for discussing the corresponding posts or articles, not a forum for merely voicing one’s opinion or expressing oneself.”

    Also, in the Posting Guidelines, you will find this:

    If you are criticizing another participant’s claim or position, address your criticism to that person in the second-person; don’t speak about that person in the third-person. Speaking about another participant as though that person is not present is impolite, and suggests that you wish only to criticize a person, and not to be reconciled with that person in the truth.

    So, if you wish to address me, please do so in the second-person, not in the third-person.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  45. Drake, (re: #43)

    If you wish to participate here, please abide by the requirement in the Posting Guidelines that participating persons be addressed in the second person.

    Cross and the West have a created light outside of God that they get … Neither position gets anything in God.

    Created grace is precisely a participation in the divine nature. The divine nature is eternal, but the participation itself is not, since the creature participating in the divine nature is not eternal. Yet, the object of the participation is God. So, the creature, by this participation, does ‘get’ something “in God,” namely, he participates in the divine nature, as St. Peter says in 2 Peter 1:4.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  46. Depression and despair cannot be resolved by imputed justification. If it is imputed, I am still cut off from the Father (because Christ is in the way) and I do not have salvation.

    Anon, I also am thankful that you shared your struggles with depression and despair. I’ve had depression all my life, though I had gotten so used to it that I didn’t realize how it was still affecting me until recently. Thankfully God has opened my eyes and made me not afraid to seek counseling, which I will be doing.
    Though it seems you don’t believe in imputed justification, I’d like to share a little about what I believe. I’m not reformed, but I believe that, as it says in Romans 4:5-8, God does impute righteousness to us when we believe on Christ. However, I don’t believe that is the end of it, which I think I said in an earlier comment. We are now new creations in Christ by faith, and with the Holy Spirit in us we can now walk by faith and grow in obedience and good works. This does not justify us any more, since Jesus did all that was needed, but it makes us more and more like Christ in love and goodness, if we abide in Him. Of course, the Father, together with the Son and the Spirit, planned from eternity to show his love for us by the sacrifice of the Son. The Father loves us dearly, no less than the Son does. Jesus is the image of the Father, and so Jesus shows us what the Father is like, in His tenderness and concern. Of course God also has wrath, but it will be for those who remain in rebellion. So it is possible to believe in imputed righteousness and still believe in the Father’s love. He doesn’t hide his face from us. In Psalm 22, which is a prophecy of the crucifixion, it says (even though Jesus had first cried out ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?) “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
    Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
    But when He cried to Him, He heard. ”
    So the Father never hid His face. That was only the effect which the burden of sin had upon Christ’s mind and spirit. We are also veiled from seeing God’s love because of the sin in us, until He opens our eyes.
    God bless you.
    Jennie

  47. In Catholic doctrine, by infusion we are worthy right now; we don’t cower from the Father behind Jesus. That’s what it means for our hearts to be circumcised (Rom 2) Those in a state of grace are truly righteous, by the agape that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). This is just what the gospel is — Christ actually makes us righteous, empowering us by grace and agape to keep the moral law (Rom 13:8,10, Gal. 5:14, James 2:8). Imputation in Catholic doctrine is not a legal fiction or a mere promissory note; we are counted righteousness by the God who cannot lie, because we are presently truly righteous by the infusion of sanctifying grace, faith, hope, and agape merited for us by Christ, received at our baptism, and nourished in the Eucharist.

    If the infused righteousness is there from the moment of regeneration, then God can truthfully declare the person righteous on the basis of that infused righteousness (that’s the Catholic position).

    Bryan, Thank you for your explanation of infusion and agape. I don’t know that I would agree with all that infusion means to you, but I do believe that we because we are new creations and indwelt by the Spirit of God by which we have all the gifts of grace that make us His children, that we are able to freely walk in good works for His sake (rather than trying to do good for our own sakes, or doing evil for our own pleasure as we did before). I agree that as you said, we do not grow in the percentage of agape we possess, but we grow in our participation in it. I believe that when we have faith, we don’t need to grow in faith, because as you said, one grain as a mustardseed is all we need. But we do need to learn to walk by faith and in the Spirit rather than in the flesh, so we can conquer unbelief. Unbelief is something we can have even though we have faith. It is a sin and a blindness that we need to root out. We do this by submission to God as opposed to walking in our own fleshly ways (James 4:7-10).

  48. Bryan,
    “If you wish to participate here, please abide by the requirement in the Posting Guidelines that participating persons be addressed in the second person.”

    ok

    “Yet, the object of the participation is God. So, the creature, by this participation, does ‘get’ something “in God,” namely, he participates in the divine nature, as St. Peter says in 2 Peter 1:4.”

    But if God is simple as described in the Scholastic West with no REAL distinctions or parts then if you participate in God doesn’t that mean you have to participate in all of him. That is, if you grasped anything of God in the Western Philosophy this entails a grasping of all of him, that is because the fact that he is a distinction-less monad.

  49. I guess my conversation with Perry here is rejected.

  50. Drake, (re: #48)

    You wrote:

    But if God is simple as described in the Scholastic West with no REAL distinctions or parts then if you participate in God doesn’t that mean you have to participate in all of him. That is, if you grasped anything of God in the Western Philosophy this entails a grasping of all of him, that is because the fact that he is a distinction-less monad.

    Yes, we participate in all of God (not a part of God), but that doesn’t entail that we grasp all of God or fully comprehend God. Just as the fullness of the object grasped is not equivalent to fully grasping the object, so participation in the all of God is not equivalent to fully grasping God. In the Supplement of the Summa we read, “The created intellect sees the Divine essence not according to the mode of that same essence, but according to its own mode which is finite.” (Q. 93, article 3)

    Your conversation with Perry is not rejected here; but the topic in this thread should remain on the general subject of imputation / infusion, of which, union with Christ and deification are within limits.

    (Perry, your comment #35 got hung up in the spam filter for some reason that I don’t understand; fortunately, I found it before it was deleted. And CTC is not unfamiliar with Farrell. :-)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  51. Perry,

    “Saying that the Covenantors would explain union as defined by the covenant of redemption bakes no bread.”

    Perry I just said above, “The metaphysics of it are not spoken on.”

    “Given that the Sonship of Christ per the person of the mediator comes into existence at the incarnation for the Reformed,”

    That’s an assertion. Girardeau calls it eternal. Perry you are talking about Augustine’s predestination of the Son of God doctrine that Hodge explicitly rejected in his Romans commentary. From what I remember it was a bad translation of the vulgate that tripped up Augustine. I remember reading that in Farrell’s book and he never mentioned Hodge’s explanation.

    “Besides, participation is a notoriously ambiguous term in metaphysics, so you’d need to spell out exactly what that term means as to what kind of union is actuated”

    The propositions of the divine mind are communicated to the Logos and the Logos directly impresses those ideas on the mind of the elect. Same propositions, same meaning, univocal participation in God.
    “Since the energies are deity and fully so”

    That’s an assertion. Farrell describes them as being “around God.”

    “they are not created intermediaries and so do not present the problem you pose”

    I never said they were created. I said they stand in a middle position as you admit. It is incoherent to describe something as being in a middle position between A and B and at the same time being A.

    “Thinking of the energies that surround the divine essence as created substitutes is a common and almost comical mistake.”

    Show where I made it. I never said the energies were created. I said in my subsequent quote, “Perry and the East have an uncreated light outside of God”. If I made the comment “comical mistake” you would send me an email about how condescending and rude I am.

    “If God’s declaration of just has a beginning relative to an agent in this world, then it is not uncreated”

    The point was not that the declaration is uncreated but that which is being declared is uncreated.
    “And besides, an extrinsic legal category isn’t theosis either”

    I never said it was. I thought I made this very clear. I said, “The whole covenant theology of the Reformers is centered around God’s Law. The forensic aspects of redemption are dealt with at that level. But participation in God which overlaps here and there in Clark’s system would be the clearest explanation of theosis.” I clearly said the forensic legal category was created. Where I see theosis is not in justification but in epistemology and sanctification.

    “Reformed Christology where the person of the mediator is a product of the union, tying two things together under a single name.”

    Assertion. I would like to see that stated by Buchanan. The obedience and surety righteousness of the mediator is a product of the union. The Christology of Farrell seems to have the worst problems of any Christological system I have yet seen. In Free Choice in Maximus the Confessor Farrell says, “Proper Christological method is recapitulational, for Christ possesses and is all the fullness of Deity and of humanity; ” (223)

    The Bible teaches that Christ was a Hebrew Male. Both of these are distinct parts of humanity not the fullness of humanity. Christ was not German, Mexican. Swedish, Male and Female. Christ was not a universal ethno hermaphrodite savior god. This is just wacky. How could the man make such a statement without telling us what he means if that is not what he means. But that seems to be exactly what he means if immortal being is infused to each human nature, both Mexican, German, Male and Female.

    “I grant that the NT has plenty of legal language ein it, but it is also has language of being made free, being made clean, and being made immortal, glorified with divine glory and escaping corruption.”
    I reject your view of immortality. I posted an article from Edward White’s writings here: http://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/edward-white-on-regeneration-and-immortality-the-eastern-view-refuted-ed-drake/

    He shows that 1 John 2:15-17, John 6:53-58, and John 10:10-11 clearly teach that only those who believe in Christ and obey him get biblical immortality.

    “And none of those things can be done by a legal flick of the cosmic wrist. More to the point, you seem to assume that the presence of legal language entails a specific theory of law, one that finds its home in the 16th century and not that of the first century world of Jesus and the Apostles.”

    As long as there is a system of penalty and reward I don’t care.

    “I don’t take Dionysius’ use of Proclus any more plagiarism than the Plotinus’ use of Plato.”

    You are avoiding the argument. Was Dionysius the Areopagite the first century disciple of Paul? Was Dionysius teaching straight from Neo Platonism [Proclus]? Current scholarship answers no to the first and yes to the second. I thought that was standard fare. Your Church answered yes to the first and has yet to admit the second. Lossky doesn’t touch the issue in Chapter 2 of Mystical Theology. He simply exposits him like its gospel. The fact is, the Neoplatonists refused predication of the One because predication requires distinction between subject and predicate and the one had no distinctions [Simplicity]. Therefore positive theology and predication of the One was rejected. That is the same theology as Lossky and the East. It is the same Neoplatonism and simplicity that you criticize in Scholasticism.

    I am still looking for some statements that you actually represented properly and argued me on.
    In reference to union with Christ. Rutherford explains that the elect are in Christ as a plant is in a seed. The covenant of redemption is made with Christ the Logos the seed in the eternal covenant and the elect are represented by him in eternity. This completely denies any created person in redemption and posits an organic union between Christ and the elect. That satisfies me and if it doesn’t satisfy you then you are using a degree of measurement far more severe with us that with your own Church.

  52. Bryan,

    “Just as the fullness of the object grasped is not equivalent to fully grasping the object, so participation in the all of God is not equivalent to fully grasping God. In the Supplement of the Summa we read, “The created intellect sees the Divine essence not according to the mode of that same essence, but according to its own mode which is finite.” (Q. 93, article 3)”

    So the quantity of God is not the same as the quantity of the human mind’s understanding of that quantity. Great, sounds like a true Clarkian! It’s not quality it’s quantity. But the reason we say that the quantity that is in our minds is not the same as the fullness of the divine knowledge is because we believe there are real distinctions between the Ideas in God’s mind. You cannot say that because, you have no distinctions in God. Your comparison must be strictly qualitative not quantitative.

  53. Perry,

    Thanks. I don’t think Gaffin had theosis in view with his comment about hypostatic union. He was just trying to close off a rabbit trail.

    Could you expand on what you mean by “extrinsic” and “moral credit”?

  54. My point is that quantity and fulness language is incoherent in your Doctrine of God, because in reality there is ONLY ONE THING there. There is no complexity or distinction to it.

  55. Drake, (#52, 54)

    Your objection is that if God is simple, then it is impossible for a person who participates in God, not to fully grasp God. But, as I already explained, that conclusion does not follow, because comprehension is a relational activity, and therefore the matter of degree can be on the subjective side of the relation; it need not be on the objective side of the relation. And therefore there can be degrees of participation even in that which is simple.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  56. Bryan, re: 55
    This is a conversation I had with Andrew Preslar a few weeks ago. The folowing assumes that you are an Aristotelian after the order of Aquinas, which you seem to be. It is interesting to me how all these debates come to down to epistemology and metaphysics. I’m not surpised. I reject that you have a theory of relation, quantity and quality. So I reject your distinctions. You have no theory of logic or individuation. In Aristotelianism, only individuals are real they are the primary realities. Take for instance a mountain like Mount Blanca. On your view a individual rock would only be a fraction of the reality and therefore not real. But then again Mount Blanca is a part of a range and itself is a part of something else as everything then becomes and therefore nothing is real. Which is the reality, rock mountain or range? What about the bear that hunts on the mountain range? Which is the individual, the bear’s teeth, his hair, his toenails? If you appeal to the numerical unity through qualitative change I ask how do you know that a change such as the change in blood composition is a change in the animal or a change from one animal to another animal? This is the problem with Aristotelianism: sometimes Aristotle determines numerical unity by prior knowledge of what a substance is, and other times determines what a substance is by its numerical unity. Which primary substance is a man; His blood, his fingernails, his hair, his skin? Which one? What if you have two men who are the exact same weight, 200 pounds? Are they then not alike quantitatively? Is then 200 pounds a relation between a man and a unit of weight? Likeness would then fall under the category of relation. This destroys Aristotle’s distinction between quality and relation. He even admits that some things can be both qualities and relations. Yet the categories are supposed to be grasped by an infallible intuition arising from sensible particulars. So in summary Bryan, 1. The categories cannot be distinguished among themselves. Quantity, quality and relation was just shown indistinguishable. 2. Primary realities cannot be identified.

  57. I am waiting for the bibliography. It’s coming folks, just wait and see.

  58. Drake, (re: #56)

    You wrote:

    I reject that you have a theory of relation, quantity and quality. So I reject your distinctions.

    Those are statements about yourself (notice the subject of each sentence), not refutations of what I said.

    You have no theory of logic or individuation.

    That’s a statement about me; it doesn’t refute anything I’ve said.

    In Aristotelianism, only individuals are real they are the primary realities.

    No, just because accidents are not substances, it does not mean they aren’t real. Otherwise there would be only one category instead of ten.

    Take for instance a mountain like Mount Blanca. On your view a individual rock would only be a fraction of the reality and therefore not real.

    No, that’s not my position. If you want to know my opinion, just ask. Individual rocks, even ones found on Mount Blanca, are real.

    But then again Mount Blanca is a part of a range and itself is a part of something else as everything then becomes and therefore nothing is real.

    Just because something is in some sense a part of something else, does not mean that it is not real.

    Which is the reality, rock mountain or range?

    Both.

    What about the bear that hunts on the mountain range? Which is the individual, the bear’s teeth, his hair, his toenails?

    They are integral parts of the bear. Integral parts are real, even though they are [each] not the whole of the substance of which they are integral parts.

    If you appeal to the numerical unity through qualitative change I ask how do you know that a change such as the change in blood composition is a change in the animal or a change from one animal to another animal?

    You would have to explain exactly what you mean by “blood composition” in order for me to answer your question.

    This is the problem with Aristotelianism: sometimes Aristotle determines numerical unity by prior knowledge of what a substance is, and other times determines what a substance is by its numerical unity. Which primary substance is a man; His blood, his fingernails, his hair, his skin? Which one?

    The organism is the primacy substance; and his parts are parts of that substance. Everyone knows that.

    What if you have two men who are the exact same weight, 200 pounds? Are they then not alike quantitatively?

    Sure.

    Is then 200 pounds a relation between a man and a unit of weight?

    Weighing two hundred pounds is an accident. Both men have the same accident type, not the same accident token.

    Likeness would then fall under the category of relation. This destroys Aristotle’s distinction between quality and relation.

    No it doesn’t.

    He even admits that some things can be both qualities and relations. Yet the categories are supposed to be grasped by an infallible intuition arising from sensible particulars.

    Those two things are fully compatible.

    So in summary Bryan, 1. The categories cannot be distinguished among themselves.

    Sure they can. You haven’t provided any argument that they cannot.

    Quantity, quality and relation was just shown indistinguishable.

    No they weren’t.

    Primary realities cannot be identified.

    Sure they can. We do so all the time, and we’ve done so since we first started grasping the world around us.

    But, perhaps you will notice that all this is far removed from the topic of this post. So, let’s keep any further comments on topic.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  59. Bryan,
    You said in constructing your own theory, “because comprehension is a relational activity”. I am rejecting that you can even speak of a “relational activity”. Then you say: “Those are statements about yourself (notice the subject of each sentence), not refutations of what I said.” Huh?
    “No, just because accidents are not substances, it does not mean they aren’t real.”
    Actually that’s exactly what it means. On your view, you begin with sensation. One never senses a universal quality or abstract concept. All you sense is individuals, therefore they are all that’s real.
    “No, that’s not my position. If you want to know my opinion, just ask. Individual rocks, even ones found on Mount Blanca, are real.”
    You can’t ever tell us which individual.
    “Just because something is in some sense a part of something else, does not mean that it is not real.”
    It does if only sensible particulars are the realities and that is what Aristotelianism is.
    “They are integral parts of the bear. Integral parts are real, even though they are [each] not the whole of the substance of which they are integral parts.”
    So which individual is the form applied to? Or are there numerous forms for every individual?
    “You would have to explain exactly what you mean by “blood composition” in order for me to answer your question.”
    Ok, Frank the Bear has a lower T Cell count on Wednesday than one Thursday. Is Frank the same or is Frank now Buford? Has the form changed from Wednesday to Thursday?
    “No it doesn’t.”
    Assertion. Your opinion. Show it. Prove it.
    “Those two things are fully compatible.”
    Assertion and more assertions.
    So hey, at least Bryan didn’t give me a bibliography. Usually I get a book list that the person I am debating has not read himself when I bring up these arguments.

  60. Drake, (re: #59)

    You wrote:

    I am rejecting that you can even speak of a “relational activity”.

    Stating that you reject x, is not a refutation of x. It is a statement about yourself. You can state all day and all night that you reject that I can speak of relational activity, but that doesn’t show that I cannot speak of a relational activity. It merely informs us that you think I cannot do so.

    Then you say: “Those are statements about yourself (notice the subject of each sentence), not refutations of what I said.”
    Huh?

    Again, a statement about yourself, such as “I reject x” is not a refutation of x. Saying that you reject x is not a reason to believe that x is false.

    “No, just because accidents are not substances, it does not mean they aren’t real.”
    Actually that’s exactly what it means.

    No. For Aristotle, accidents are real; those nine categories are categories of being, not categories of non-being. Only if one assumes that the only category of being is substance could one conclude that accidents, for Aristotle, are not real. But Aristotle does not assume that the only category of being is substance. He provides us with ten categories of being. He doesn’t think that all statements about accidents and accidental changes are false. Such statements can be true because they correspond to the real accidents and real accidental changes in the world. See his work On Interpretation.

    On your view, you begin with sensation. One never senses a universal quality or abstract concept. All you sense is individuals, therefore they are all that’s real.

    We do not sense only individuals; we also sense their qualities, such as color, taste, smell, texture, sound, temperature, shape, etc., and all the other accidents. See Aristotle’s work “On the Soul.”

    “No, that’s not my position. If you want to know my opinion, just ask. Individual rocks, even ones found on Mount Blanca, are real.”
    You can’t ever tell us which individual.

    Sure I can. I’ve never met a rock I thought was unreal.

    “Just because something is in some sense a part of something else, does not mean that it is not real.”
    It does if only sensible particulars are the realities and that is what Aristotelianism is.

    That’s a misunderstanding of Aristotelianism. Aristotle acknowledges that parts of substances exist. He even wrote a book called Parts of Animals.

    “They are integral parts of the bear. Integral parts are real, even though they are [each] not the whole of the substance of which they are integral parts.” So which individual is the form applied to? Or are there numerous forms for every individual?

    There is one substantial form of the bear, and all the integral parts of the bear are informed by that substantial form [that’s what makes them to be in their essence bear parts], even as they each have their own subordinate forms by which they each have the structural and functional unity and identity (as part) that they have.

    “You would have to explain exactly what you mean by “blood composition” in order for me to answer your question.”
    Ok, Frank the Bear has a lower T Cell count on Wednesday than one Thursday. Is Frank the same or is Frank now Buford? Has the form changed from Wednesday to Thursday?

    Same bear, same substantial form, different accidents.

    “No it doesn’t.” Assertion. Your opinion. Show it. Prove it.

    You’re the one criticizing my position, so you have the burden of proof.

    “Those two things are fully compatible.” Assertion and more assertions.

    Feel free to show that they are not compatible.

    None of this refutes anything I said in #55. And none of this is sufficiently related to the topic of this post to be suited to this combox.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  61. Bryan,

    “Stating that you reject x, is not a refutation of x.”

    I gave numerous refutations that you simply asserted to be wrong on your subjective authority.

    “Aristotle acknowledges that parts of substances exist. He even wrote a book called Parts of Animals.”

    I am fully aware that Aristotle posited that categories of being, and qualities, etc. eixisted, as Plato asserted that there was matter, but Plato would never say that the matter was a reality. This issue is something I see you do not understand.

    “There is one substantial form of the bear, and all the integral parts of the bear are informed by that substantial form”

    Again you can never distinguish between the part and the matter on which the form is applied. Which is the matter/substratum and which is the part? Are making the parts all secondary substances? Which one is the primary substance? Are you seriously saying that a bear is numerous primary substances? That would mean that Christ’s human nature is numerous substances for the same reason and your Church teaches the human nature is one substance. In Aristotle’s construction, the start of a thing was its matter/substance. To this attaches the form/nature and then accidental qualities attach to the form/nature. With respect to relation Aristotle says, that a relation is whatever is said to be OF something else. Socrates is never a Socrates of anything, therefore Socrates is not a relation. Frank the Bear is not a relation his is a primary substance. Not many primary substances, but one substance. So you are walking through a battlefield, and you see a severed head. Do you have to know whose head it belongs to, to know it’s a head? No. You know it’s a head by itself. Therefore it is a substance and a primary reality. Yet a head has no meaning unless it is the head of someone. The meaning of head lies precisely in that relation. Here’s the problem: How does the bear retain the unity of a primary substance if the bear himself is a composite of primary substances?

    “Same bear, same substantial form, different accidents.”

    So then he is now a different set of primary substances? Doesn’t that mean he is a different substance?

    “You’re the one criticizing my position, so you have the burden of proof.”

    I have the burden of proof to disprove the authority of your subjective experiences? Wow! You said, “Sure they can. You haven’t provided any argument that they cannot.” What you are wanting is a burden of proof on me to disprove a subjective experience that you have had. First, I ahve no burden to prove a negative, second, your assertion simply demonstrates the solipsism of empirical philosophy.

    I showed very clearly, “What if you have two men who are the exact same weight, 200 pounds? Are they then not alike quantitatively? Is then 200 pounds a relation between a man and a unit of weight? Likeness would then fall under the category of relation”

    Here a quantity is a quality and a relation. If you won’t admit it, you are only deceiving yourself.

  62. @ Jennie S. #46

    You are welcome. Thanks for sharing too. Depression is essentially an acute feeling of alienation from others, from self, and from God. It becomes despair when one considers that this feeling should last forever and that there is no hope. Religiously speaking, people who in depression/despair have the feeling that they are only deserving of God’s wrath and that is in fact what God must and has to give them. I cannot tell you how many people I have come into contact with that are completely screwed up both emotionally and in their relationship with God because someone told them that the Father’s primary attitude towards sinners is that of wrath. Scripture has a very different view of God — a God who seeks out the sinner and who is in solidarity with the sinner — a God who is so omnipotent that He doesn’t have to empty out His wrath — a God who can set his bow down in the sky, a God who can marry the alien, then unrighteous, the adulterous harlot, a God who can let his Son be killed and His first response is to forgive them rather than blowing them all out of existence, a God who finds that the solution to mankind’s distance from Himself is to give mankind a participation in His very own divine life.

    One of the most helpful books at getting my head screwed on straight if Josef Pieper’s book FAITH HOPE LOVE. I still suffer from depression because, for me, it is part of my genetic makeup, but that book really has helped me to truly understand what it is to have hope and faith and love. What the world tries to tell you (as well as many Christians) is really quite far afield. Let me suggest the book to you that it might help you as well in your struggles. It is not a feel good book, but it is a book that gives you some really good spiritual tools and understandings to really help one pray.

    Getting into what you said, let me unpack things a bit.

    If you have been imputed righteousness you are not a new creation — you are simply the same creation that has been declared to be righteous. If imputation is the full extent of justification, as you said, then the totality of what salvation is is contained within that imputation — sanctification simply is the appearance of fruit within the human soul. However if one truly is a new creation, righteousness must be infused and it is only in the infusion of righteousness that one finds the fullness of justification.

    Why?

    Consider a potter and his clay. A potter makes a pot but the pot, due to the material of the clay, comes out wrong and cannot withstand the heat of the kiln. How does the potter make the pot? He cannot simply remold the clay, for whatever form the clay takes, the deficiencies of the clay will prevent it from surviving the kiln. The potter cannot simply declare that its going to work — that is folly. Only be infusing properties into the clay that are not inherent to the clay’s nature will the potter be able to make a pot that will survive the kiln. We cannot surive death unless we have God’s own nature infused into us — we must be born anew of the water and spirit as Jesus says to Nicodemus – we cannot simply be declared rightious like Abraham or remolded according to the Law of Moses – we must be infused with God’s own life to go beyond the kiln of death. Heaven is not something that we can arive at according to our nature — only infusion theosis can elevate us to that supernatural end.

    Consider now a criminal. He serves his time and then is brought before a judge before is time is fulfilled. The judge declares “time served”. Does the declaration of the judge in anyway shape or form indicate that the individual is now “just”? Of course not. The individual remains as he was, only his legal status has changed. How can the legal status of an individual be the “fullness” of justification? The individual has only been punished and his sentance commuted — he has not been restored to communion with the community. An individual imputed is like a freed criminal — he is no longer being punished but still not in communion with the comunity. Not until the individual actually becomes, in his person and morality, just has he been fully justified.

    I am glad to see you using Psalm 22. If you use Psalm 22 in relationship to the crucifixion, it is impossible to hold to imputed justification. Here is why:

    Imputed justification has the following principles:

    1. Man is a sinner deserving of the fullness of the Father’s wrath.

    2. The Father has been storing up this wrath since the very beginning.

    3. On the Cross the demerits of only the elect (if you are Reformed) or all people (if you are Lutheran) are imputed to Christ.

    4. Christ suffers the fullness of the Father’s wrath due to sinners on the Cross.

    5. The Father rewards Christ’s meritorious act by the resurrection.

    6. At a later point in history (at baptism for Lutherans, at an unknown point for Reformed, at the Sinner’s Prayer for most Evangelicals) the merits of Christ (which the WCF XI states very specifically as, and limited to the obedience and satisfaction of Christ are imputed to the individual.

    7. Because Christ has been so raised, those that have been so imputed will so be raised.

    Let us set aside the fact that if one posits that the Son suffered the fullness of the Father’s wrath, then there is a real separation within the Godhead between the Father and the Son at the level of being — thus this understanding of God is not Triune. Let us look at Psalm 22. If we read Psalm 22 we find that the suffering individual is not suffering the wrath of God, but rather it is those that mock the sufferer that say that the sufferer is undergoing the wrath of God (v. 7b-9) while in reality God is in solidarity with the sufferer and that God will vindicate him before all those that mocked him. If Psalm 22 is a prophesy of the crucifixion then one cannot hold that Christ suffers the Father’s wrath or is being punished on the Cross for mankind’s sins as Psalm 22 is quite clear that the sufferer is not suffering God’s wrath and not being punished by God for sins. Imputed justification, as it is understood by Lutheran and Reformed thus collapses.

    I would dispute that reckoning is synonymous with imputing especially if imputing is understood as the double imputation that goes on in Lutheranism/Reformed. After all in Abraham nothing of Abraham’s is transferred to God — and even further here we can say that faith proceeds reckoning and if you understand faith in the Lutheran sense of fiducal faith or trust, that is activity and thus work — thus technically man is justified by his work/act of faith — which is something that Arminians caught and why Methodists and certain evangelicals (the Sinner’s Prayer types) view justification the way that they do.

    I think that if you would look at Romans 4:5-8 in context you will see that being reckoned righteous is not actually being righteous. Being counted as something is not the same thing as being something. A great example of this is the engagement period/betrothal period. The bride is reckoned as the future wife, but she is not wife in her being. Even at the altar the declaration of “man and wife” is still just a declaration and a reckoning until the bride is made wife in her being in the consummation of the marriage. Consider now justification, if a person is reckoned righteous, are they righteous? No. Is Abraham in Romans according to Paul actually righteous? No. Why? He hasn’t been born anew in Christ yet. True justification comes from Romans chapter 6. That is when a Jew (because Paul is taking to a bunch of Roman Jews and they are the focus of this epistle) becomes truly righteous. And Romans Chapter 6 is very clearly infused justification.

    Blessings and Peace Unto You.

  63. Drake, (re: #61)

    You wrote:

    I gave numerous refutations that you simply asserted to be wrong on your subjective authority.

    You haven’t refuted anything yet. You have merely asserted criticisms of Aristotle’s position (or propositions you think are part of Aristotle’s position), and I pointed out that these were false. To show that your criticisms are true, you have to do more than merely assert them; you have to construct an argument.

    I am fully aware that Aristotle posited that categories of being, and qualities, etc. eixisted, as Plato asserted that there was matter, but Plato would never say that the matter was a reality.

    So Plato asserts that there is matter, but doesn’t say that matter is a reality, therefore when Aristotle talks about parts of animals, Aristotle thinks they aren’t real. That conclusion does not follow.

    This issue is something I see you do not understand.

    That’s an ad hominem.

    Again you can never distinguish between the part and the matter on which the form is applied.

    Sure I can. The matter is what endures through the changes. But a person’s who loses an arm has lost not that matter that endures through his accidental changes, but an integral part.

    Which is the matter/substratum and which is the part?

    The matter is a metaphysical principle of the organism, having no weight or dimensions, while the bear’s right front leg, for example, is an integral part of the bear, having weight and dimensions.

    Are [you] making the parts all secondary substances?

    No.

    Which one is the primary substance?

    The bear.

    Are you seriously saying that a bear is numerous primary substances?

    No. But for Aristotle, parts are potential substances. Each integral part of a primary substance has its own unity, and its thus its own subordinate form, but it does not exist as an actual primary substance. Yet for Aristotle parts nevertheless exist and are real; they exist as parts of substances.

    So you are walking through a battlefield, and you see a severed head. Do you have to know whose head it belongs to, to know it’s a head? No. You know it’s a head by itself.

    Correct.

    Therefore it is a substance and a primary reality.

    That conclusion does not follow from your premises. It is a part of a primary substance, but not itself a primary substance.

    Yet a head has no meaning unless it is the head of someone. The meaning of head lies precisely in that relation.

    True, but I don’t need to know whose head it is, in order to know that it is a head.

    Here’s the problem: How does the bear retain the unity of a primary substance if the bear himself is a composite of primary substances?

    The bear is not a composite of primary substances.

    So then he is now a different set of primary substances?

    No, the same primary substance.

    I showed very clearly, “What if you have two men who are the exact same weight, 200 pounds? Are they then not alike quantitatively? Is then 200 pounds a relation between a man and a unit of weight? Likeness would then fall under the category of relation” Here a quantity is a quality and a relation. If you won’t admit it, you are only deceiving yourself.

    No, the ability to measure a quality does not reduce that quality to a quantity. The quantified measurement of the quality is distinct from the quality itself. Likewise, when two substances have the same accident type, this does not reduces that accident to a relation. When we speak of relation, in that case, we are talking about formal unity of the accident both substances have, i.e. both men are white, or both men are bald; we’re not speaking of the category of relation. Formal unity is not the same thing as the category of relation.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  64. Bryan
    Re 63

    “So Plato asserts that there is matter, but doesn’t say that matter is a reality, therefore when Aristotle talks about parts of animals, Aristotle thinks they aren’t real. That conclusion does not follow.”

    Well you will not get me to defend either view because Dr. Clark’s theory is a criticism of the categories of being and the whole “what’s real” question. On Clark’s view everything is real. The question is: what is it? What I am criticizing is that Aristotelianism determines numerical unity by a prior knowledge of what a substance is and then determines what a substance is by numerical unity.

    “Sure I can. The matter is what endures through the changes. But a person’s who loses an arm has lost not that matter that endures through his accidental changes, but an integral part.”

    You are just asserting the same issue. You have not shown the difference between a part and the matter. What then is the matter, the spinal cord the brain, the blood?

    “The matter is a metaphysical principle of the organism, having no weight or dimensions, while the
    bear’s right front leg, for example, is an integral part of the bear, having weight and dimensions”
    You mean the potentiality. No weight, no dimensions, it’s nothing. Aristotle says, “I define matter as that which is in itself neither a thing, nor a quantity, nor any other of the categories of being.” Aristotle (Metaphysics, VII, 3, 1029a 20-21)

    I just can’t see how someone could believe this stuff.

    “Which one is the primary substance?
    The bear.”

    Which is nothing.

    “No. But for Aristotle, parts are potential substances.”

    But then so are primary substances. So whether we are talking primary or secondary substances we are talking about nothing that is real. These are only potential actualities.

    “That conclusion does not follow from your premises. It is a part of a primary substance, but not itself a primary substance.”

    If it is an object of knowledge it has its own matter and form. That is Aristotle 101. The form being the object of knowledge the changeless principle through qualitative change impressed upon the matter.
    The substitute for Plato’s Ideas.

    “I showed very clearly, “What if you have two men who are the exact same weight, 200 pounds? Are they then not alike quantitatively? Is then 200 pounds a relation between a man and a unit of weight? Likeness would then fall under the category of relation” Here a quantity is a quality and a relation. If you won’t admit it, you are only deceiving yourself.

    “The quantified measurement of the quality is distinct from the quality itself.”

    Assertion.

    “Likewise, when two substances have the same accident type”

    I am not saying they have the same accident type as in all men have weight. I am saying they are both 200 pounds. I am not saying both men have weight. I am saying they are the exact same unit of weight.

    “this does not reduces that accident to a relation.”

    Sure it is, we are talking about the weight OF Man A and the weight OF Man B. That is a relation.

  65. Anon,
    you have given me alot to think about, and i would like to read the book you recommended. I’m reading Romans again and will comment if allowed, probably on Monday. Off the top of my head, as I read Romans 4 and 5, I am wondering if it would help to explain imputed righteousness by the fact that we are justified by Christ’s blood while we are yet sinners, so that we have no righteousness yet God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us, but He also makes us new creations as it says in Romans 5: 1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” This seems to be saying that the initial faith justifies us and is counted as righteousness, and then we continue in faith to be given grace to walk in righteousness and to grow in character and hope and love. I think it is clear that Romans says righteousness is imputed by faith while we are still sinners. Anyway, I’m still thinking about it.

  66. Anon,
    my husband wrote this last year and I am reading it again to see if it helps explain imputed righteousness. I think he is saying that we actually have Christ’s righteousness given to us when we are justified and made regenerate. It is not just a legal declaration of righteousness, but is a gift of God which we must learn to walk in by grace through faith just as we were justified by grace through faith.
    “We are the Righteousness of God”:
    http://www.exchangedlife.com/Sermons/topical/righteousnessOfGod.html

  67. Drake, (re: #64)

    You wrote:

    What I am criticizing is that Aristotelianism determines numerical unity by a prior knowledge of what a substance is and then determines what a substance is by numerical unity.

    Aristotle doesn’t do that. If you don’t agree, please show where you think he does that.

    What then is the matter, the spinal cord the brain, the blood?

    The matter, as Aristotle is using the term, is not a substance nor a set of substances nor an integral part; it is a metaphysical principle.

    I just can’t see how someone could believe this stuff.

    I see that. But you’ll never see it if you continue to approach it in the hostile manner in which you are approaching it. To learn Aristotle takes a great deal of patience, intellectual humility, and prior training. Avicenna read Aristotle’s Metaphysics forty times before he understood it.

    Which is nothing.

    That’s not Aristotle’s position.

    But then so are primary substances.

    No, that conclusion does not follow. Just because integral parts are potential, it does not follow that primary substances are potential.

    If it is an object of knowledge it has its own matter and form. That is Aristotle 101.

    Not all forms are substantial forms, and not all matter is primary matter. That’s why a part of a substance does not have to be itself a primary substance.

    Sure it is, we are talking about the weight OF Man A and the weight OF Man B. That is a relation.

    As I explained in my previous comment, the unity relation between two quantities (e.g. Tom’s 200 lbs and Bob’s 200 lbs) is not the same thing as the two quantities, or the same thing as the two qualities (i.e. Tom’s weight and Bob’s weight) measured by those quantities.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  68. I had to work a 16 hour shift yesterday and answer Bryan betrween customers so now I have my library at my hand I can actually get down to business here:

    To prove that Aristotelianism posits the individual as the reality I have provided the following.

    Metaphysics, Book 1 Part 1
    “(The reason is that experience is knowledge
    of individuals, art of universals, and actions and productions are
    all concerned with the individual; for the physician does not cure
    man, except in an incidental way, but Callias or Socrates or some
    other called by some such individual name, who happens to be a man.
    If, then, a man has the theory without the experience, and recognizes
    the universal but does not know the individual included in this, he
    will often fail to cure; for it is the individual that is to be cured.)”

    Book 7 Part 4
    “Or has ‘definition’, like ‘what a thing is’, several meanings? ‘What
    a thing is’ in one sense means substance and the ‘this’, in another
    one or other of the predicates, quantity, quality, and the like. For
    as ‘is’ belongs to all things, not however in the same sense, but
    to one sort of thing primarily and to others in a secondary way, so
    too ‘what a thing is’ belongs in the simple sense to substance, but
    in a limited sense to the other categories. For even of a quality
    we might ask what it is, so that quality also is a ‘what a thing is’,-not
    in the simple sense, however, but just as, in the case of that which
    is not, some say, emphasizing the linguistic form, that that is which
    is not is-not is simply, but is non-existent; so too with quality.

    “We must no doubt inquire how we should express ourselves on each
    point, but certainly not more than how the facts actually stand. And
    so now also, since it is evident what language we use, essence will
    belong, just as ‘what a thing is’ does, primarily and in the simple
    sense to substance, and in a secondary way to the other categories
    also,-not essence in the simple sense, but the essence of a quality
    or of a quantity.”

    Book 7 Part 3

    “Now the substratum is that of which everything else is predicated, while it is itself not predicated of anything else. And so we must first determine the nature of this; for that which underlies a thing primarily is thought to be in the truest sense its substance….By matter
    I mean that which in itself is neither a particular thing nor of a
    certain quantity nor assigned to any other of the categories by which
    being is determined. For there is something of which each of these
    is predicated, whose being is different from that of each of the predicates
    (for the predicates other than substance are predicated of substance,
    while substance is predicated of matter). Therefore the ultimate substratum
    is of itself neither a particular thing nor of a particular quantity
    nor otherwise positively characterized; nor yet is it the negations
    of these, for negations also will belong to it only by accident.”

    Dr. Clark explains,
    “What would remain of an individual thing if the other categories did not exist? It could not be white, two feet long, seated, seated, shod or cauterized. Could it be anything? Aristotle further asserts that every primary substance is just as real as every other…And still further no single substance admits of degrees of reality within itself…This is one distinguishing characteristic of substance as opposed to quality, for obviously one man can be more or less heavy than another and than himself at another time. In a secondary sense, species and genera, and nothing else, are substances; for example man and animal, or olive and plant, for only these define a primary substance. Other statements such as Socrates is white, *************are irrelevant to the definition**********. The species is more truly real than the genus because it is more closely related to individual things: In answer to the question, What? *************more information is conveyed by stating the species than by stating the genus*************. To be told that the thing growing out of the ground is an olive is more satisfying than to be told that it is a plant.”(Clark refer the reader to Aristotle’s Metaphysics, 1042a21, 1053b 21 *********“where genus is removed from the category of substance”**********)[Huge point: DS]

    Thales to Dewey, 95-96

    Metaphysics

    Book 7 Part 4
    “Nothing, then, which is not a species of a genus will have an essence-only
    species will have it,”

    Book 7 Part 12
    “”If then the genus absolutely does not exist apart from the species-of-a-genus”

  69. Bryan, re 67

    “Which is nothing.

    That’s not Aristotle’s position.”

    Aristotle, Book 7 Part 3

    “By matter I mean that which in itself is neither a particular thing nor of a
    certain quantity nor assigned to any other of the categories by which
    being is determined

  70. Bryan,

    Above (post 58) it was stated,

    [I said]“I reject that you have a theory of relation, quantity and quality. So I reject your distinctions.”

    [You said] Those are statements about yourself (notice the subject of each sentence), not refutations of what I said.”

    That was extremely unfair. I just gave you three arguments why I reject it. It was not subjective. 1. You have no coherent definition of what a substance is to relate to. Which individual, and the circular determination of numerical unity 2. I then showed how a unit of weight is a quantity, quality and relation, collapsing the categories. 3. Dr. Clark mentions this a few times in his book, I cannot find Aristotle’s quote as of yet but Aristotle is said to have identified qualities with relations himself.

    You then said, “That’s a statement about me; it doesn’t refute anything I’ve said. ”
    I just made three arguments in refutation that you have a theory of logic.

    “In Aristotelianism, only individuals are real they are the primary realities.

    No, just because accidents are not substances, it does not mean they aren’t real. Otherwise there would be only one category instead of ten.”

    I just answered this. And this takes care of the rest of your statements in post 58. I will not let the extended nature of this dialogue confuse the facts. It is you who have asserted your way through this conversation not me.

  71. @ Jennie S # 65

    Ive been studying Romans this last few months myself. Lets keep things to imputation and infusion here, pulling in Romans as needed, and if you would like to study / talk about Romans as a whole, let me know and Ill get in touch with you via your email as listed on your blog.

    I really recommend Pieper’s Faith Hope Love. Its one of the best books I have ever read. Hopefully you can get it from the library or someplace (it would be a better use of your time than reading “Does Love Win?”, which if you are interested in that subject matter, Balthasar’s Dare We Hope That All Me Be Saved? should be read and Bell’s simply skipped as Bell doesn’t add anything new to the discussion.).

    Let me give two more examples of why imputed justification being the totality and fullness of what justification is doesn’t work.

    Consider pre-Fall Adam. Pre-fall Adam is legally pure/just/righteous any like term that you would like to apply. Does pre-Fall Adam have a state that contains the fullness of relationship with God/salvation/justification? No. Two reasons for this. First biblically Genesis tells us that though pre-Fall Adam walks with God and has communion with God, he is lonely. Why would Adam be lonely if his state of justification was complete total full? So God creates Eve for Adam so that he would have a helpmate during this period when His state of justification was not yet at its teleological end. Thus we know, even if we consider a state of justification to be purely a legal state, that this state does not contain the fullness of what it is to be justified or eschatological right relationship with God. Secondly from a philosophical point of view, if pre-fall Adam has the fullness of justification, then he fully just in his created being — he is just not because of grace but because of his created nature and it is his pre-fallen created nature that establishes his position of being just in relationship with God — not God’s independent, free willed, and gratuitous election. Thus eschatological justification which prefall Adam posesses, in this example is natural not supernatural and what you have is Pelagius’ pull yourself up by your own boot straps justification.

    Consider now Abraham in Romans again. Let me stress what I said before from a different angle. Is Abraham’s reckoned righteousness actual or the fullness of what it means to be just according to Paul? Watch what happens if we say yes. If Abraham is just then he doesn’t need Jesus. Again, if Abraham is actually just then Jesus is not need because Jesus’ sacrificial atonement is surpluflous to Abraham’s condition of already possessing the fullness of justification. If this is so, then the Jews, of then and today, don’t need Jesus so long as the have the faith of Abraham which reckons them just. This is actually the Judaizer position that Paul in Romans is arguing against. The Jews of Paul’s time were arguing that they were just because they had the faith of Abraham and followed the Law of Moses. They were arguing that those two things are what made Jews just and were what made Christians just — not Christ. This is why they were arguing that pagan converts to Christianity had to accept the circumcision of Abraham (the faith of Abraham) and conform to the Mosaic Law because it was these two things, not Christ, that actually made a person just. The book of Romans is structured so as to show that while these two things make a person just via reckoning, only Christ moves an individual to a position of actually being just. (as a point of order, the Law is a two edged sword — it both causes an individual to be reckoned just but because they are reckoned and not actually in their being, it also condemns them because they are still in a state of transgression. Thus to say that Christ only imputes justification is to say that the justified individual is both justified and condemned at the same time — which is precisely what Lutheran/Reformed “simul iustus et peccator” says. That is not eschatological justification and not an improvement over the Jewish system.)

    BTW I can tell from reading how you phrase things (as well as your blog and your husbands website) that you are definately not Reformed (neither 5 point or 4 point). What denominational line do you consider yourself to be?

    A few questions so I can understand how you understand things better.

    1.) Could you take and parse the verses that you gave me? Take each bolded word and replace it by what you understand its definition to be, and if Paul in Romans defines that term, use that syntax.

    “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

    2.) When you say “justified by Christ’s blood while we are still yet sinners so that we have no righteousness yet God imputes Christ’s righteous to us…”, how do you square imputed justification with Paul in Romans 4 saying that Abraham was reckoned righteous by faith (notice that Paul is saying that non circumscribed are also reckoned righteous by faith v. 4:11) yet he goes on in v. 5:6-8 to say that Christ didn’t die for those reckoned righteous but for those who were still sinners, implying here that those who have been reckoned righteous are still “far off from God”, that is justified but not yet justified? Further how do you square the “justified by Christ’s blood” with Romans 2 where Paul says that some Gentiles (who neither know the Law nor Christ) can be and are in fact righteous (v. 2:13-15)? — (For me, I find that Paul here is talking about increases in righteousness — not a singular onetime imputed event — as well as several different types of “being righteous” — the reckoned righteousness of Abraham, the moral works righteousness of the Gentiles and those that follow the Law directly, the infused righteousness of Christ).

    3.) How does “imputing righteousness” make an individual a new creation? It seams to me that if we grant imputed righteousness but then talk about sanctification as a becoming a new creation that this new creation, once it has become fully sanctified, stands at a position that is greater in justification than the individual was at the point in time where the initial justification was first imputed. It seems to me that santification must increase justification and that imputed justification cannot be the fullness of man’s “right relationship” with God.

    4.) What does it mean to “have Christ’s righteousness”? Now I know you say that it is “not a legal declaration of righteousness” but do know that for Reformed, it is strictly and only a legal declaration of righteousness (spelled out very specifically in the WCF). You will get called a heretic for thinking otherwise and you will be told you are going to hell for thinking otherwise and if you are a pastor you will get censured and called to repentance by the Presbytery Council for thinking otherwise. I bring this up because of the focus of this website and also because this point is quite the big deal in the Reformed world when it comes to soterology. What does it mean to have Christ’s righteousness? Is it something that we have like we might have a coat? Is it something that we might have like we have brown eyes? Is it something that we have like we might have a kidney replacement? Is it something that we actually have — is it our righteousness? How do we exactly “have” this rightiousness of Christ?

    Ok enough with the questions.

    Blessings and peace.

  72. @ Jennie S. #66

    I read through your husband’s article. I don’t know if I would say he is addressing imputed justification in the article — the thrust of it tends to be on whether or not one can loose one’s salvation and how one works out that salvation (which he seams to answer by saying “by not working and instead relying on Christ” if I might phrase things a bit more Lutheran). It is an interesting article because on several points it’s at odds with Luther (namely the positing of the accountability of sins of a Christian) and at different points at odds with Calvin (namely positing that righteousness is not exactly exclusively juridical).

    There are many things that I would like to pull out from the article to hear you expand upon them but I am gravitating towards two items at the end so let me pull those out for expansion.

    I don’t like Aristotle that much (ya I know don’t say that too loud around a bunch of Thomists, but Aquinas’ Christianized Aristotle is much less bothersome to my sensibilities than pure Aristotle) and you can always see his influence underlying someone’s theology when they posit that God and the created world cannot have anything to do with each other — the unmoved mover remains wholly transcendent and never imminent, moving the created world but never actually interacting with it, and the created world being moved by the unmoved mover but never really interacting with it.

    Firstly, in the conclusion, your husband writes as if who we are and what we do means nothing to God, only who Christ is and what Christ does means anything.

    Do not be offended at this but, does your husband love you? No seriously does he love you or does he only love the things of his that he has given to you? Does he love you only because he gave you his last name? Does he love you only because he has given you the fruit of his work – cloths, jewelry, food on the table? Does he love you only because he has clothed you in his love? Does he love you only because he has given you his life, clothing you in it? Or does your husband love you for who you are and all these things that I have said are not given to you to enable him to love you but were given to adorn you with expressions of his love for you.

    Does God love you? OR is He a narcissist that only loves the things of His that he has given to you?

    Does God love you just because you are clothed in Christ? Or did God love you before when you were not and this wedding garment that you wear is the expression of God’s love for you and not the reason of God’s love for you?

    Scripture though is clear. God loves us when we were still far off…He loves us when we are still sinners….He loves us even before we exist. The point of the crucifixion is not so God can love us (He already loves us) it is so we can love Him. It is so we can be brought close. The reason why your husband gave you his wedding ring was not to allow him to love you, it was to bring you who were far off from him into his embrace. The reason why God gives us the wedding garment of the blood of the Lamb was so that we who were far off could be brought into His embrace.

    God’s gift of righteousness to us is not the cause of His love for us, it is the cause of our love for Him. Our love for God is our love for God. It stems from and arises from God’s love, but it is equally our act. The kiss of the Lamb elicits our response and we respond through the kiss and it is our kiss back. A husband kisses his wife, the kiss originates from the husband and that which the kiss is encapuslated by his action, but for there to be an actual kiss, the wife must herself kiss back. If she responds not, if she doesn’t press back if she doesn’t allow what her husband gives to have fecundity to transform her and to move her to kiss back — withour her response withour her action, is there a kiss at all? The wife must participate in the kiss. If God gives to us His own very life so that we might have life more abundently (John 10:10) we must participate in that which is given in order for us to actually have abundent life.

    If we are made righteous then our participation in righteousness is our cooperation and participation in righteousness and because we have activity here there is an increase in righteousness or justification based upon our work / our love for God. Scripture says “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8 RSV. If we are drawing nearer to God and God to us then there is an increase in righteousness. Consider this: When you first married your husband, you loved him totally — yet has not your love for your husband increased since then and even though you still love him totally now, you find yourself closer to him and with a love greater than it was. Does righteousness increase since we first put on the wedding garment of the Lamb? Yes. Though God totally give Himself to us then and still totally gives Himself to us now, what has increased is your capacity to love Him in return.

    Secondly, in your husband’s conclusion he states “how can we add to the righteousness of God?”

    Let me answer here with two verses from Paul

    Colossians 1:24
    Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

    1 Corinthians 15:58
    Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

    First notice that in Col Paul clearly says that there is a lacking in Christ’s sacrifice. What is lacking according to Paul? The individual’s participation in Christ is what is lacking. This makes sense for consider that your husband’s “I love you” is lacking until it is answered by your “I love you too”. If Christ gives himself to us, that is lacking until we embrace Him in return. Jesus says “Pick up your cross and follow me”. What cross? His cross, his yoke Matthew 11:28-30. But it is also our yoke, our cross. As two oxen are yoked together, there is two actors there is one labor. As man and Christ are yoked together there are two actors but one labor.

    Second notice that in 1 Cor Paul clearly stats “your labor in the Lord is not in vain”. Paul does not say “the Lord’s labor is not in vain”, he says “your labor”. How is righteousness added? Because you labor. Because “you labor” (we are not at rest) there is a growth as any action produces growth and, as Paul says “not in vain” to indicate that there is an increase (for if there was no increase then the labor would be in vain). Notice that Paul also says “in the Lord” to indicate that the labor is done in Christ — the labor is not done external to Christ by man, nor is the labor done by Christ and not man but rather the labor, and thus the increase, is done as a unified thing between the Lord and Man so that one can say that, as it is in the Lord it originates from grace, as it is in the Lord it is a labor of the Lord, and as it is your labor its really man’s labor.

    Remember also that Jesus says that we are “laborers” and “co-workers” in the Father’s vinyard. It is not Christ who alone works.

    Thus righteousness must increase.

    Brining everything back around……

    Does God love you? Or does he only love that which Christ gave to you?

  73. Drake,

    I would recommend finding an Aristotelian forum somewhere and going all haymaker there.

    All,

    Regarding the thread under discussion and the relevant comments heretofore, I am currently considering the nature of baptism in general (at my blog) but particularly as it relates to infant baptism. Could anyone from the Reformed tradition describe for me why a new born infant would benefit from imputed righteousness?

    Also, if baptism is our participation in Christ (the glory of the Father) and thereby our participation in His Resurrection, what notion of participation in his Resurrection am I to adduce from legal substitutionary atonement? The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead cleaned my record book? Or, could it be, that the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead infuses the soul with life and life in abundance? In other words, it rises the soul from death to life, thereby granting the soul its rightful anticipation of physical resurrection.

    In Christ,

    Brent

  74. @ Brent #73

    Could anyone from the Reformed tradition describe for me why a new born infant would benefit from imputed righteousness?

    Two points:

    1: That is why paedobaptism is such a hot topic in the Reformed world.

    2. Secondly, for Reformed baptism is not the point of initial imputed righteousness. It is for Lutherans but not Reformed. Baptism simply is the sign that indicates that the individual has entered into the covenantal community. Thus the question doesn’t make sense for a Reformed as no one benefits from baptism in the sense of justification.

    Also, if baptism is our participation in Christ (the glory of the Father) and thereby our participation in His Resurrection, what notion of participation in his Resurrection am I to adduce from legal substitutionary atonement? The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead cleaned my record book? Or, could it be, that the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead infuses the soul with life and life in abundance? In other words, it rises the soul from death to life, thereby granting the soul its rightful anticipation of physical resurrection.

    Is baptism our participation in Christ for Reformed? Not its not. It is only a sign and seal of that (WCF XXVII.1)

    Penal substitutionary atonement (Reformed) is always legal but not all legal substitutionary atonement is penal (for example Methodist). The “cleansing” of your sins is accomplished by the imputing of the punishment owned to your sin to Christ on the cross where Christ then undergoes the fullness of the Father’s wrath that was owned and stored up by the Father from the beginning. This here zeros your record book (your record book is not how much damge sin has done to you but rather how much wrath the Father owes you). The “imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto” (WCF XI.1) the elect is what thus justifies the individual — causes the justified individual to be seen by the Father as an adopted Christ and it is because they are seen as such that are “are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by his as by a father; yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation. ” (WCF XII.1)

    Real clear point here — for Reformed everlasting life is granted to the individual not because of anything that they do, not because of anything they are, not because of anything that is infused into them, it is given because they are viewed by the Father as in Christ due to imputed alien righteousness.

  75. Bryan,
    I will drop the Aristotle thing but one last thing:
    You said,

    “because comprehension is a relational activity” this was in contrast to a propositional comprehension as in Clark’s philosophy. Is that right?

  76. If I may, where does Aquinas say that in the Summa? I am familiar with the articles on created light but I don’t remember him saying that comprehension was a “relational activity” explicitly. I don’t doubt you are right, that Aquinas does say that, but I just want to know where that is.

    Thanks for the dialogue.

    Drake

  77. Anon,
    You have said so much that I will have a hard time responding to it all. I’ll respond to a few things that I’ve been thinking through.
    If you have been imputed righteousness you are not a new creation — you are simply the same creation that has been declared to be righteous. If imputation is the full extent of justification, as you said, then the totality of what salvation is is contained within that imputation — sanctification simply is the appearance of fruit within the human soul. However if one truly is a new creation, righteousness must be infused and it is only in the infusion of righteousness that one finds the fullness of justification.
    I’m not sure that you are understanding what imputation really means. I’m not sure that I understand what it really means either. I don’t agree with the reformed idea of it however, though I’m not sure if your depiction of reformed thought is completely accurate either. Anyway, if you look in the Old Testament, the word imputed is not used much, but I did see two places: One was in Leviticus 7 and the other in Leviticus 17. Leviticus 7:17-18 says “the remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day must be burned with fire. And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, nor shall it be imputed to him; it shall be an abomination to him who offers it, and the person who eats of it shall bear guilt.” Leviticus 17:3 says 3 “Whatever man of the house of Israel who kills an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or who kills it outside the camp, 4 and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer an offering to the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, the guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man. ”
    Here we see that guilt can be imputed, which is true guilt for not obeying the law, and also peace with God can be imputed to a person if they obey the law, or not imputed if they disobey. Peace with God is justification or being made right with God. So in imputation we are not just considering a declaration of rightness, but true guilt or true righteousness. When we are justified by faith, we are first cleansed of true guilt, and our sins are taken away. Then we are made right with God because we are forgiven this guilt, and given new life, in which we can truly live righteously by faith and love. You can’t leave out the fact that God lifts us out of the pit and gives us life, immediately when we believe. We are new creations. We were truly dead, and now we are truly alive. That is justification. I don’t know if the reformed would disagree with that or not.

  78. @Anon. #73:

    I wonder if you can help me with something about Reformed Baptism. I was brought up nothing, became a Christian (more or less street Christian) at age 27, was Reformed (not Reformed Baptist) by 32, and a Catholic at 53.

    I am fairly academic by inclination, so read my way into Reformed theology – and into the Catholic Church. I understood, or think I understood, the WCF approach to the covenantal nature of baptism. But I confess I have never understood in what sense – other than, as I ultimately think, the Catholic sense – baptism could be a ‘seal’. A ‘sign’, yes. But a ‘seal’ ought to be something that puts the owner’s mark on something. And as I understood the Reformed view of Baptism, I didn’t see how it could mark anything.

    Of course now I have different views. But I wonder what your take on the ‘seal’ business is.

    jj

  79. Anon,

    Thank you for your kind response. I wish a Reformed apologist could help me through this passage (italics and bold for emphasis):

    Romans 6:4, “Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death through the glory of the Father so we too might walk in newness of life.” (see also Col 2:22).

    It would seem to me that without an ontological reading of this passage, the passage is rendered metaphorical dribble. Romans 6:4 (new translation), “Therefore we are figuratively and symbolically buried with him through the sign of water washing that is a sign of our psychological death to the hope of possessing any righteousness on our own to safeguard soli deo gloria so that we can now walk proudly in a renewed sense of our value because the record book is in our favor and that should give us a pep in our step.”

    Ironically, Anon, it was when I figured out that penal substitutionary atonement wasn’t orthodox theology, I left protestantism. I mean like that day. We attended Mass for about 2-1/2 years before becoming Catholic (that’s a lot of arm-folded blessings!) I figured if someone with a degree in theology who spent thousands of hours studying the Bible prayerfully could be a material heretic than anyone could. What was I passing off to my children! Gasp.

    Jennie,

    When I read through all of your posts I am getting the picture that: “I am Reformed”, “I’m not Reformed, “I am Reformed”, “I’m not Reformed”, “I believe a little of this”, “I don’t believe so much of that.” That’s fine. We are all on a journey. However, I think we all have to at some point stop and ask, “Where did I get my theology from?” Clearly men and women of goodwill, learning and prayer, reading scripture alone come to diametrically apposed positions. Is our only recourse to truth combox hurls? Is all there is really only self-published internet treatise to clear things up?

    As Catholics, we get blamed for our certain epistemic “need” for “certainty”. However, Christ said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Can’t we know what this means? Isn’t endless conjecture and debate tiresome? My yoke is easy and my burden is light…

    Wouldn’t Christ leave us with a Church that could teach us if it’s infusion or imputation? Are you weary of figuring this all out on your own? 2,000 years is a lot to think through in one lifetime no matter what cognitive faculty you’ve been given.

    Peace to you on your journey,

    Brent

  80. @ Jennie S. #77

    You said Peace with God is justification or being made right with God. That is not standard Protestantism. You further said When we are justified by faith, we are first cleansed of true guilt, and our sins are taken away. Then we are made right with God because we are forgiven this guilt, and given new life, in which we can truly live righteously by faith and love. You can’t leave out the fact that God lifts us out of the pit and gives us life, immediately when we believe. We are new creations. We were truly dead, and now we are truly alive. That is justification. That is Catholic.

    I think that perhaps underneath all the various terms and phrases your soterology is actually Catholic.

    @John Thayer Jensen #78

    When we are dealing with the whole sign/seal/symbol issue we are dealing with major debates in philosophy revolving around the problem of universals. Different Reformed theologians understand universals differently and thus there is a variance in how sign and seal and symbol are interpretated.

    The way that I interpret the WCF and “standard” Reformed texts on the matter is this : signs/seals/symbols represent but do not participate in the reality of the thing represented. A Reformed individual could put things this way I suppose: a man’s signature on a marriage license represents that he is married but this signature is not the actual marriage nor does it participate in the reality of that marriage, it is simply an indicator and assurance that a marriage exists. Thus baptism, in the WCF exists as a sign/seal/symbol , and thus assurance, that at some point the individual has moved from a non-covenantal relationship with God to a covenantal relationship with God.

    In the Reformed view of Baptism, a seal is a mark in the sense of declaration not in the sense of participation. The individual is redeemed in the sense that God declared him justified not in the sense that the individual is actually in his being just.

    @ Brent #79

    It seems to me that Romans 6:4, in the more highly esteemed Reformed translations, is rendered so as to indicate ontological change. In the absence of a Reformed apologist, use google to search for the verse in Reformed apologetically website — the more hostile to Catholicism the better at turning up the nub of what they view as why baptism cannot be ontological.

    Looking over quickly the Geneva Bible with Notes quickly, the sense that I get is that baptism is a symbolic act that mimics that trust that Jesus had in the Father that though he would die, the Father would raise him. Thus baptism exists as a mimic / symbol / stage play of Jesus’ own trusting obedience and death. I think that the difference between Catholic and Reformed here is that for the Catholic there is a real connectivity between the individual’s baptism and Christ’s death and resurection so that the events are unified and have a participation in each other. For Reformed they are separate events with the individual’s being a sign of what Christ did — but not actually a connected act because if it would, then the act or work of the individual in baptism would be seen as taking away from Christ’s activity (this I find to be the rationalization but the reason I find to be Reformed’s problem with universals).

  81. typo

    In my above
    @ Brent #79

    It seems to me that Romans 6:4, in the more highly esteemed Reformed translations, is rendered so as to indicate ontological change.

    should read
    @ Brent #79

    It seems to me that Romans 6:4, in the more highly esteemed Reformed translations, is rendered so as to not indicate ontological change.

  82. […] had a conversation with Bryan Cross of Called to Communion the other day here. In our conversation I was pressing the imposibility of participation in God on the Scholastic view […]

  83. When I read through all of your posts I am getting the picture that: “I am Reformed”, “I’m not Reformed, “I am Reformed”, “I’m not Reformed”, “I believe a little of this”, “I don’t believe so much of that.” That’s fine. We are all on a journey. However, I think we all have to at some point stop and ask, “Where did I get my theology from?”

    Brent,
    You may be getting that impression because I don’t subscribe to any denominational tradition, but have been studying with my husband for years from the scriptures. We do attend a Baptist church, but most of the members are not lifelong Baptists so we’re not mired in tradition. We have seen that many traditional beliefs of the Baptists, Catholics, and others are not scriptural and have discarded these, but have retained what scripture upholds. As you said, we are on a journey and haven’t come to the end of learning, but the learning process has been good, and has of course been aided by the Holy Spirit and other brothers and sisters.

    However, Christ said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Can’t we know what this means? Isn’t endless conjecture and debate tiresome? My yoke is easy and my burden is light…

    We can know what it means, but I don’t think it necessarily has to be immediately and all at once. I believe God wants us to search scripture and wrestle with it to find the meaning. Yes endless conjecture an debate is tiresome, and can’t be sustained for long by people who know they have better things to do. After more than two years of blogging, I’ve gotten pretty tired of debating, and have mostly gone on to commenting on my own journey. Sometimes like now, I’ll see something interesting and link to it, but I am fairly satisfied in my own understanding of the subject, though I don’t know as much as some of these gentlemen here. Certainly Christ’s yoke is easy, and it is only because there are opposing views which incorporate much of man’s traditions that make it such a controversial subject.
    Wouldn’t Christ leave us with a Church that could teach us if it’s infusion or imputation? Are you weary of figuring this all out on your own? 2,000 years is a lot to think through in one lifetime no matter what cognitive faculty you’ve been given.
    Personally I believe we don’t have to choose between the two. Imputation is biblical, but I don’t agree with the strict reformed idea of judicial imputation. As I said in comment #77 imputation is more than just God looking at Christ instead of at our sinful selves. Guilt can be imputed, and it is true guilt. Righteousness (or right relationship with God, peace with God) can be imputed as well, and it is true righteousness based on faith and obedience. In the case of salvation it is obedience to the gospel producing repentance and bringing regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
    Infusion is not a biblical word, but when someone is regenerated they are given new life, and made a new creation. They are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and made children of God, so are now able to love and experience God’s love, and to walk in the Spirit doing good for good’s sake rather than for their own sake. That is what happens when we are saved by faith, immediately. They go from death to life and from darkness to light. I don’t think the new life can be separated from the imputed righteousness that justifies us. I believe both things happen, though I don’t call it infusion. There isn’t anything to fight about if one sees that. The Catholic church puts more emphasis on infusion, and the Reformed put more emphasis on imputation, but each can learn from the other, i think. There is alot I don’t agree with in both traditions.

  84. Firstly, in the conclusion, your husband writes as if who we are and what we do means nothing to God, only who Christ is and what Christ does means anything.

    Anon,
    I think you are misunderstanding his meaning. In the conclusion he was making the point that because we are given the righteousness of Christ when we are saved, it is ours and all we have to do is walk in it by faith, not by our own power. If we walk by faith, with the help of the Holy Spirit in obedience to the word of God, we will be walking in the way God predestined for us: to do good works. If we walk in the flesh, by our own power, then we will be sinning, wasting our time, and not walking in God’s plan for our lives. We will gain no rewards for that. So you are right, he wasn’t speaking of imputation, but I remembered the study because I had asked him about imputed righteousness once and he had referred me to this study about being the righteousness of Christ by faith.

  85. @ Jennie S. # 84

    “As if…” “As if..”

    Since your husband is in your house, would you mind asking him these questions:

    1.) Does man, in his natural being and in his works, have intrinsic moral value before God? I am not asking about salvific value here.

    2.) In the walk with God of a justified individual does the individual’s action and his person have intrinsic moral value or is it only the action of the Holy Spirit that has value?

    3.) Is the action of the justified individual, is the individual to remain wholy passive so that it is only the Holy Spirit that works?

  86. 1. Intrinsic value with God, yes. Morally, no.

    2. According to the scriptures, the flesh profits nothing. As Paul said to the Galatians, “Are you so foolish having begun in faith, do you now think you are justified by works?” The real question is, are we walking in the Spirit, or are we walking in the flesh. Our new nature (the new man created in Christ) has the ability to walk in righteousness, but the Bible also says that sin remains in our members (body of flesh) and wars against our minds trying to take us back into captivity to sin.

    3. I’m not sure what you mean by wholly passive. If you mean to sit back and do nothing, that would be false.

    A lot of these questions can’t be accurately answered as ‘yes’ or ‘no’. To make an assumption without understanding the foundation leads to error. That’s why the Apostle Paul said they first laid the foundation in Christ, but then we must take heed how we build on that foundation. Even the Old Testament affirms this truth. God said he teaches us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. We can’t learn the deeper truths until we first understand the truths they are built upon. We can discuss this in detail if you’re interested. Just email me at gesnipes -at- gmail -dot- com. Or you can email through my ministry site at http://www.exchangedlife.com or my personal site at http://www.eddiesnipes.com

  87. BTW, Just for the record, RC Jr. missed the mark on this discussion. The discussion is an important one, but not in the way Sproul approaches this topic on is blog. Jesus’ parable has nothing to do with infusion vs. imputation. But as I said in my previous post, I’d love to discuss what the Bible says on this topic and discuss the foundational scriptures that help us to understand righteousness. It’s a worthy topic. But let’s approach it based on what the Bible teaches and not get sidetracked by Sproul’s article.

  88. But I confess I have never understood in what sense – other than, as I ultimately think, the Catholic sense – baptism could be a ‘seal’. A ‘sign’, yes. But a ‘seal’ ought to be something that puts the owner’s mark on something. And as I understood the Reformed view of Baptism, I didn’t see how it could mark anything.

    John Thayer Jensen,
    Do you mind if I jump in? I don’t know the official reformed teaching on baptism as a seal, but I know that the New Testament refers several times to believers being sealed with the Holy Spirit:
    2 Corinthians 1:22
    who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

    Ephesians 1:13
    In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

    Ephesians 4:30
    And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

    2 Timothy 2:19
    Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

    Scripture also refers to the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit in Titus 3:4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
    I think baptism is a seal because it is our response by faith to the inner washing that the Holy Spirit does in us, making us the children of God, that belong to Him and reflect His image and ownership in our lives. Like the seal of a King which shows his ownership and which gives only the authorized person permission to open the seal and reveal what is inside.

  89. Here’s another passage that refers to the washing by the Holy Spirit, as well as justification.
    1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

  90. Jennie, thanks for these Scripture passages. When I was on my way into the Catholic Church, I found myself reading all these with astonishment that they had never made me uncomfortable as a no-baptismal-regeneration Reformed Christian.

    jj

  91. John Thayer Jensen,
    thanks, I think :) I’m a Baptist, so I don’t believe in baptismal regeneration as such. I had an interesting conversation via email with a man who didn’t agree with either the Baptist or the Catholic views. I think I can agree with him. Here’s the conversation I posted on my blog: http://pilgrimsdaughter.blogspot.com/2010/03/discussion-about-baptism.html

  92. Jennie,

    Can you explain to me how a severely mentally handicap person is to be saved? A newborn infant? Do you believe in original sin?

    This is relevant, I think, because it would seem that an “imputation model” (either Reformed or Jennie’s) or faith then baptism model (either an evangelical Baptist or Jennie’s) would have to answer this question.

    Peace to you on your journey,

    Brent

  93. I believe in original sin as far as I understand it, if it means that all the descendants of Adam and Eve have received the sin nature passed down from them. I know it’s not as simple as that in the different traditions.
    I believe that God isn’t bound by any system or model that would seem to make it impossible by some ‘law’ that someone could be saved apart from faith, such as mentally handicapped people or infants. I believe that these people are saved by God’s mercy and grace, in some way that we can’t understand yet. Perhaps, I conjecture, when they die they are able to understand and see the truth and believe. Or maybe they are just automatically saved because they are not able to understand. I kind of lean towards the first idea. I don’t think scripture is clear on this. After all, even if you believe in infant baptism and baptismal regeneration, there are many infants that are not baptized and die as infants. Maybe I’m too swayed by emotion in this, but I don’t think anything on this side of eternity will change my mind on this.

  94. Jennie,

    The Catholic teaching is that original sin is a privation of sanctifying grace and of the righteousness that results from the presence of having the supernatural virtue agape in the soul. Adam and Eve lost this grace and righteousness when they sinned, and in so doing, they lost the privilege of passing on that grace and righteousness to their descendants through procreation. (I explained the Catholic teaching on original sin, drawing from Session 5 of the Council of Trent, in this post. ) Now, because of Adam’s sin, children are born without sanctifying grace and without the divine righteousness of agape. And this is why they need baptism, because (a) no one can enter into heaven without having sanctifying grace and the divine righteousness of agape in his soul, and (b) in the New Covenant, sanctifying grace and agape are given to us through the sacrament of baptism — see “The Church Fathers on Baptismal Regeneration.”

    As for children who die before receiving baptism, the Church calls us to entrust them to the mercy of God:

    As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism. (CCC, 1261)

    In the New Covenant established by Christ, baptism is the ordinary way by which those having original sin receive grace and agape, and are thus translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. The Church knows no other way, because Christ revealed no other way. The Church has no explicit revelation from God concerning what happens to persons who die before having attained the age of reason, and without having been baptized. However, the Church does know that persons who have been baptized and who die prior to attaining the age of reason, enter immediately into glory. This is why it is very important not to delay the baptism of infants, as St. Cyprian pointed out in the third century, and as our own Taylor Marsall pointed out recently. But, the Church also knows that God is not bound by the sacrament, as you said. He is surely capable of working beyond the sacrament.

    The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. (CCC 1257)

    Yet it would be presumptuous and foolish to neglect or delay baptism on the ground that God is not bound by His sacrament. The wise person pursues grace through the means of grace Christ has established in His Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  95. Since the Protestant are particularly receptive to biblical support for arguments, I’d like to point out a text from Ezekiel whose straight interpretation clearly supports Catholic doctrine on this subject as explained by Bryan Cross in #39:

    “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

    The statement “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” refers precisely to the new creation, the infusion of sanctifying grace. Now, “infusion” may give the erroneous impression that sanctifying grace is a kind of “fluid”, which it is certainly not. Quoting from IMHO the best reference on the subject, the catechesis from Fr John Hardon SJ:

    Sanctifying grace is, first of all, not a substance but an accident. … It is a quality, since it makes the soul qualitatively different than it was or would be without such modification. … Most important, sanctifying grace is a habit. This means a permanent and not transient quality, by which the soul is disposed for a supernatural life.

    Spiritual habits in general are those abiding qualities which perfect the very substance of the soul or its faculties. There are two kinds of habits, one that perfects the soul in its being, and the other perfecting the soul’s faculties in order to assist them in the performance of their proper actions.

    Sanctifying grace is a unique kind of habit, which St. Thomas called entitative, as distinct from the other type, or operative. The difference between the two species is subtle. An entitative or existential habit disposes a thing in ordine ad ipsam naturam, i.e., in the order of its very nature; it may be described as an inherent quality by which a substance is rendered inherently good or bad, like beauty, health or disease. An operative habit, on the other hand, gives not only the power to act, but also a certain ease or facility

    As supernatural habits of whatever type, whether entitative (like sanctifying grace) or operative (like the virtues), can be imparted to the soul only by infusion from God Himself, … they are called infused habits, which the Holy Spirit pours into the human spirit. When He infuses sanctifying grace, the result is an existential quality which gives the soul a supernatural principle of being.

    In Aristotelian terminology, then, sanctifying grace is a kind of entitative habit because it lays the foundation for permanent righteousness, holiness and divine sonship. It is also an infused habit because a person is not conceived or born with it, nor can it be acquired by sheer natural practice. All the terms used in Scripture to describe grace warrant this classification: it is a re-creation, a regeneration,

    Continuing with the quote from Ezekiel, the statement “I will put my Spirit within you” refers to uncreated grace, divine indwelling, which is infinitely greater than sanctifying grace as it is God Himself. Quoting from another page by Fr Hardon:

    In considering sanctifying grace we have been considering created grace. But there is another grace, greater than sanctifying grace: Gods gift of Himself to us.

    The fact that the Blessed Trinity dwells in the just is beyond question. St. Paul wrote: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (I Corinthians 3, 16). But not only the Holy Spirit, but also the Father and Son dwell there, for “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14, 23).

    All theologians agree that this Indwelling is common to the three Persons. And most of them hold that it is specially attributed to the Holy Spirit only by appropriation. This seems to be also the mind of Pope Leo XIII: “This wonderful union, which is properly called ‘in-dwelling,’ differing only in degree or state from that which binds the blessed to God in eternal happiness, although it is without doubt produced by the presence of the whole Trinity … is attributed in a peculiar manner to the Holy Spirit.”

    Clearly sanctifying grace is oriented to divine indwelling. The first is “a permanent quality, by which the soul is disposed for a supernatural life”, but “it is the Spirit that gives life” (Jn 6:63), as the LORD says in another passage of Ezekiel: “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live” (Ez 37:14). Just as the body is alive when it is inhabited by the soul, the soul is alive when it is inhabited by the Holy Spirit, as St Augustine said: “As the soul is the life of the body, so God is the life of the soul”

    Rounding up: at justification God, solely by the merits of Christ (as we cannot possibly have any at that time), pours into our soul the Holy Spirit that:

    – creates our soul anew, “gives us a new heart and puts a new spirit within us”, making our soul worthy and capable of being inhabited by Him,

    – starts dwelling in our soul causing it to live, and

    – infuses in our re-created and vivified soul the theological virtues, supernatural powers that, by faithful cooperation with actual grace, can develop into facilities for performing salutary acts.

    Ending the quote from Ezekiel, the “cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to keep my laws”, refers to “actual grace”, which again is not a “fluid” but specific acts of the Holy Spirit whereby He aids our intellect and our will to adhere to truth (and reject error) and do good (and avoid evil).

    Thus sanctifying grace and actual grace are two kinds of works performed by the Holy Spirit in our soul. The first is a one-time “foundational” work whereby the Holy Spirit “upgrades” the soul making it worthy of being inhabited by Him. The second is an ongoing work whereby the Holy Spirit intervenes at specific times to aid us “to walk in God’s statutes and be careful to keep his laws”.

  96. Johannes,
    I’m non-reformed Baptist, and I’ve always loved that passage from Ezekiel about the new heart. I really don’t think reformed people would deny that God gives us a new heart. They just would carefully separate the aspects of justification and sanctification. One follows the other, as we continue in faith by grace. They are not really separate in reality, but to the reformed they need to be understood separately because they stress that God in His sovereignty does all the work. I do believe that we can choose to obey the gospel, but only after the Spirit opens our eyes.

  97. Great article! The only thing that I would add is that following the Patristic and Jewish understandings of this parable, it is clear that those who claim that they KNOW they are going to heaven or who allege that they are saved while those who differ from them in their beliefs are not are commiting hubris and it is this sinful pride that condemns them just as it did the Pharisee in the parable. The humble man who honestly asks God for pardon and does not practice a “name it and claim it” style religiosity will be favored by God REGARDLESS of his underlying theological paradigm.

    This is what Protestants don’t get. God intends each of us to become a particular person, the exact nature of whom is not based on some absolute standard but on one’s particular identity as the child of God. We don’t need the imputation of the perfect righteousness of Christ. We need to become who it is we are in Christ. The Pharisee thought he was imputed as totally righteous whereas the Publican knew that at best he was a work in progress. I see here the difference between the Protestant error on justification and the traditional Catholic teaching about salvation. There is no “faith alone” extolled in this parable. In fact, the parable is a damning indictment of the whole idea.

  98. Re: comment #2 & 6, we read,
    1) “imputation is not biblical” …and
    2) “It seems obvious upon reflection that RC Sproul Jr. is forcing his theology on the text”

    The charge of “forcing one’s theology on the text” is beyond ridiculous and shows the depth of ignorance and hypocrisy amongst Catholics. Let me get this straight: We are to suppose that Catholics are exempt from the charge of “forcing their theology” into the Text, but Protestants ARE guilty of this? We are to suppose that even though most of Rome’s peculiar doctrines are not explicitly mentioned, theyyyy get a free pass to believe anything they want because the Pope decided to appoint himself infallible in 1870?
    Methinks these are the results of rejecting the purity of the gospel, and for that reason, “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thess 2:11-12).

    As for the doctrine of imputation being unbiblical; Catholics conveniently “forget” that they do indeed believe in the concept of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ (R.O.C.), but would prefer not to think about it because it gives too much credibility to the Protestant position.
    Is it not true that somewhere out there in outer space, is a so-called “Treasury of Merit” which we are told contains all the “excess merits” of Christ and the saints (beyond that which was needed for them) which are then distributed piecemeal to the faithful via an indulgence to lessen punishment time in purgatory after the merit of a good work is accomplished? The merit of these good works via an indulgence are then “APPLIED” (says the catechism in #1471) to either the living or the dead. That is, (whether you like it or not) these “applied merits” are IMPUTED (not infused) to the individual. Again, there is no other way other than by the imputation of the R.O.C. that a Catholic may receive an indulgence; and as I told you last time, there is no other way other than by imputation, that sins were “applied” to the animal sacrifices, and there was no other way other than imputation than our sins were “applied” to Christ, and hence there is no other way other than by imputation, that righteousness may be “applied” to us in justification, whether Protestant orrrrr Catholic.

    Moreover, at the get-go, the very word is used in Scripture over a dozen times—but “infusion” is no where used, so it is undeniable the non-Catholic certainly has a VERY good case to bring into court, especially when the very essence of our salvation hinges on it; namely, whereas the one act of Adam brought condemnation to us all, so too will the “one act of righteousness” bring justification to “many”, per Romans 5. This “one act of righteousness, consisting of the entire scope of Christ’s earthly life and death, must be imputed, because the act of one cannot be made the act of many, except by imputation!

    Mr. Cross says: “the case of the Pharisee does not justify the conclusion that those who believe that through baptism they have received by infusion the righteousness of Christ are ipso facto unjustified or condemned.”

    On the contrary, the R.O.C. is not infused at baptism or at any other time in the believer’s life. Mr. Cross suffers from theological hemophilia, in that he has scratched his head and bleeds badly, failing to articulate the issue properly for his readers. The infusion of the R.O.C. that justifies, of which heeee speaks, is not Christ’s own personal righteousness, as it is for Protestants. To be clear:
    Since the R.O.C. is exclusively the Lord’s own, it is ludicrous to suggest we can apprehend it personally via infusion. No such promise is even hinted at. When Paul said he knew that in his flesh dwelt no good thing (Rms 7:18) he did not at the same time console himself with the infusion of the R.O.C. Therefore, it did not exist then, nor does it now. When Catholics speak of the infusion of the R.O.C., they are not speaking of the actual R.O.C., but “A” righteousness which is infused BY Christ, as if it were some sort of metaphysical substance infused into them like a doctor’s needle via the sacraments. Trent does not use the term “R.O.C.”, but says Christ “continually infuses strength into those justified.” Consequently, it is not Christ’s PERSONAL righteousness, but “A” righteousness which provides the strength necessary to perform good works. When that person cooperates with this infused “strength”, they then come to possess an “inherent righteousness” (according to Trent), manifested in good works via God’s grace (#1821) which then become the ground of their justification. This theory is biblically bankrupt because (now listen up!)
    If it is a salvation based on works that come FROM grace, it is not based on grace—but on the Christian’s works that come FROM grace.

    Protestants, armed with Scripture and common sense, know they are co-heir’s with Christ, as a bride is to her husband. A wife becomes co-heir simply by her union in marriage. There is no virtue or merit in that. She simply possesses what is his by that relationship. The marriage ceremony does not deserve or merit a reward, it simply brings the hubby’s possessions along with him. This is essentially what is meant by imputation. The R.O.C. is exclusively His own. We have nothing to do with it personally and never will. But we can be partakers of that righteousness which He accomplished here on earth, in His doing and dying, by imputation. The justified one does not merit heaven by good works via God’s grace, but is clothed in the actual, EARTHBOUND R.O.C….

    “by imputing the OBEDIENCE and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness, by faith”
    —Westminster Confession [Matt 22, Mark 9:3, Isa 61:10, Zech 3:3, Rms 13:14, Rev 3:5].

    The concept of being “in Christ” (pervasive throughout the Text) allows God to view us AS IF this righteousness were our own, …AS IF we had fulfilled the law and suffered its penalty—just as the state considers the wife’s possession of her husband’s goods, her own, AS IF she had paid for them herself.
    Hence, “I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only” (Ps 71:16)…He being called, “The Lord our Righteousness”, because we are now said to be “the righteousness of God in Him” [Jesus]… (Jer 23:6, 2 Cor 5:21).

    Mr. Cross says:

    “The person who has received righteousness by infusion knows that he still possesses concupiscence… he is an unrighteous, unworthy sinner, and that he has a long, long way to go in growing in sanctification. He knows that he sins venially at least seven times a day.”

    NO. Rather, it is the doctrine of the imputation of the earthbound R.O.C. which allows the sinner to know he still has a long way to go in sanctification. The logical ramifications of the infusion of the R.O.C. (if it were true) should render a person pristine and infallible, with no room for “conforming to the likeness of Christ” as Scripture indicates….because they would already have it! However, since we do not see any perfect Catholics walking this planet; the claim is false due to their sinning all the day long.
    While Trent says that this righteousness may increase, they may not say that it is the ACTUAL R.O.C. because the same CANNOT be increased. It is perfect as is. I will get to that shortly in the next comment box.

    Protestants escape the ramifications of “infusion” (which begs the objection of “where is your perfect life?”) by simply believing the promise of Christ to send the Holy Spirit to reside with believers 24/7, yet knowing He has seen fit to leave us in a constant battle with the flesh which pits itself against the Spirit (Rms 7:23, Gal 5:17).

    Hence, Mr. Cross, by no means, proved his position. Quoting the fathers at great length on the Pharisee’s mental state of mind was a complete waste of time, his point being that the Pharisee was full of pride—-as if any Protestant ever denied it! His argument is an eloquent example of a strawman, and proves absolutely nothing.

    [E]ssentially, Catholics wish to attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments (CCC 2068)., which exposes the soul of those who simply are not resting in the merits of Christ alone! The Bible speaks of being justified by “faith” (Rms 3), by His “blood” (Rms 5) and being justified “freely by His grace” (Rms 3:28). But Scripture does NOT confirm what #2068 declares.

    At the end of the day, grace has become the medium of exchange in the RCC merit system. Is it any wonder that Catholics are always accused of “working to earn grace”— (a contradiction in terms) try as they might to avoid it. The accusation is valid because the conclusion flows freely from your theology. You are told to do works, which result in God’s grace (G.G.). The more of G.G. you have, the harder you work and the more G.G. you earn—yet all the while claiming G.G. is a free gift. However, this is arguing in a vicious circle. The Romanist says that the works resulting in G.G., are themselves a product of the previous grace! All of this “righteousness” is said to “increase” one’s justification, per Trent. But we steadfastly refuse such chatter. Justification, according to the Bible, CANNOT “increase”, nor can the actual R.O.C. increase, infused orrrr imputed. The R.O.C. imputed to our account is perfect as is, because, “In Him, you have been made complete.” (Col 2:10). Sadly, a sense of completeness in a one time justification is unknown to every Catholic on earth due to a desire to “increase” their justification.

    Again: the R.O.C. is perfect as is, per Mark 9:3, where Christ’s own raiment is illustrative of what WE will be wearing. “It became exceedingly white as snow, so no fuller on earth can white them”. In God’s view, we are in desperate need of a change of clothing. That clothing is the righteousness of Christ which is described as something we wear, but which is actually something that is imputed to us. “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation….covered me with the robe of righteousness….take away the filthy garment from her…..behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment” (Isa 61:10, Zech 3:3, Rev 3:5). Thus, we are asked to “PUT ON” the Lord Jesus Christ (Rms 13:14). The Catholic Church attempts to “add bleach” to the wash in the form of good works increasing (or making “whiter”) our righteousness before God to the point that it renovates the sinner and now becomes acceptable at the bar of justice. Trent says that when someone is justified, “the robe given to them through Jesus Christ must be preserved [by good works] pure and spotless so that we may bear it before the Judgment Seat” (Session 6, chap. 7).
    NO WAY. The wedding garments of yesteryear were supplied by the Bridegroom! What a horrible thought to bear the unattainable burden of preserving a pure and spotless robe before the eyes of a thrice-holy God, agonizing all your life in a desperate attempt to keep it spot-free. No one on earth is capable of this, as Paul admits (Phil 3:12), which is why he wanted to be found, “NOT having a righteousness of my own” (3:9). The R.O.C. is perfect AS IS, since no fuller on earth can whiten it, and we are given this “gift of righteousness” WHOLE and ENTIRE, not piecemeal, by faith alone (Rms 5:17).

  99. Glenn, (re: #98)

    As for the doctrine of imputation being unbiblical; Catholics conveniently “forget” that they do indeed believe in the concept of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ (R.O.C.), but would prefer not to think about it because it gives too much credibility to the Protestant position. Is it not true that somewhere out there in outer space, is a so-called “Treasury of Merit” which we are told contains all the “excess merits” of Christ and the saints (beyond that which was needed for them) which are then distributed piecemeal to the faithful via an indulgence to lessen punishment time in purgatory after the merit of a good work is accomplished? The merit of these good works via an indulgence are then “APPLIED” (says the catechism in #1471) to either the living or the dead. That is, (whether you like it or not) these “applied merits” are IMPUTED (not infused) to the individual. Again, there is no other way other than by the imputation of the R.O.C. that a Catholic may receive an indulgence;

    I’ve addressed this objection in comments #29, 35, 46, 59, and 65 of the How the Church Won: An Interview with Jason Stellman” thread.

    and as I told you last time, there is no other way other than by imputation, that sins were “applied” to the animal sacrifices, and there was no other way other than imputation than our sins were “applied” to Christ, and hence there is no other way other than by imputation, that righteousness may be “applied” to us in justification, whether Protestant orrrrr Catholic.

    All these mere assertions presuppose what is in question. Guilt cannot be transferred for the reason I explained in comment #192 of the “Catholic and Reformed Conceptions of the Atonement” thread.

    Moreover, at the get-go, the very word is used in Scripture over a dozen times—but “infusion” is no where used, so it is undeniable the non-Catholic certainly has a VERY good case to bring into court, especially when the very essence of our salvation hinges on it;

    Catholics affirm imputation, but not extra nos imputation. See the paragraph that begins, “First, Catholics believe in imputation.” in comment #140 of the “Catholic and Reformed Conceptions of the Atonement” thread. As for the argument from the “infusion’ is nowhere used [in Scripture]” premise, not only does that fall into the word-concept fallacy (cf. Romans 5:5), but it presupposes that all theological terms must be present in Scripture, and thereby presupposes precisely what is in question between Protestants and the Catholic Church with respect to “solo scriptura” and the role of Tradition, as explained in the “VIII. Scripture and Tradition” section of my reply to Michael Horton in Modern Reformation.

    namely, whereas the one act of Adam brought condemnation to us all, so too will the “one act of righteousness” bring justification to “many”, per Romans 5. This “one act of righteousness, consisting of the entire scope of Christ’s earthly life and death, must be imputed, because the act of one cannot be made the act of many, except by imputation!

    That mere assertion (i.e. that “the act of one cannot be made the act of many, except by imputation”) presupposes precisely what is in question between the two paradigms. In the Catholic paradigm, Adam’s sin resulted in his offspring not receiving sanctifying grace through the sexual act, as they would have otherwise. But being conceived without sanctifying grace is just what original sin is. Thus in this way his descendents received original sin without any extra nos imputation. (See “Lawrence Feingold on Original Justice and Original Sin.” Likewise, Christ’s obedience unto death results in our righteousness, because His satisfaction won for us the sanctifying grace which, by infusion through the sacraments, makes us righteous, as explained in the “Imputation and Paradigms” thread, and the “The Church Fathers on Baptismal Regeneration thread.

    Mr. Cross suffers from theological hemophilia, in that he has scratched his head and bleeds badly, failing to articulate the issue properly for his readers.

    I’ve given you a pass, because you might not know the rules for commenting here. But among those rules is one that disallows personal attacks. See our comment guideline page. (Moreover, your personal attacks do not show anything I’ve said to be false.)

    Mr. Cross says: “the case of the Pharisee does not justify the conclusion that those who believe that through baptism they have received by infusion the righteousness of Christ are ipso facto unjustified or condemned.” On the contrary, the R.O.C. is not infused at baptism or at any other time in the believer’s life. … The infusion of the R.O.C. that justifies, of which heeee speaks, is not Christ’s own personal righteousness, as it is for Protestants.

    Here you’re equivocating on the term “righteousness of Christ.” For the Protestant, the “righteousness of Christ” means Christ’s own acts of obedience in His human will. This is righteousness as conceived of according to the list paradigm. In the Catholic paradigm, by contrast, we receive not the acts of obedience of Christ in His human will (these cannot be transferred anyway), but sanctifying grace and agape which is the essence of righteousness. (The difference between these two paradigms is explained in the “Imputation and Paradigms” thread, and the comments in the thread under it.)

    To be clear: Since the R.O.C. is exclusively the Lord’s own, it is ludicrous to suggest we can apprehend it personally via infusion. No such promise is even hinted at.

    Agreed, given the Protestant definition of ‘R.O.C.’

    When Paul said he knew that in his flesh dwelt no good thing (Rms 7:18) he did not at the same time console himself with the infusion of the R.O.C. Therefore, it did not exist then, nor does it now.

    That’s a textbook example of both a non sequitur and the fallacy of arguing from silence.

    When Catholics speak of the infusion of the R.O.C., they are not speaking of the actual R.O.C., but “A” righteousness which is infused BY Christ, as if it were some sort of metaphysical substance infused into them like a doctor’s needle via the sacraments.

    I wonder how many times we have to say that grace is not a substance before Protestants stop attacking this straw man. See, for example, comment #201 in the “Why Protestantism has no visible catholic Church” thread, comment #271 of the “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?” thread, the body of the article titled “Nature, Grace, and Man’s Supernatural End,” comment #54 in that same thread, footnote 9 of “Sola Gratia,” and the body of “Michael Horton on Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life”,” and comment #95 in this present thread.

    Trent does not use the term “R.O.C.”, but says Christ “continually infuses strength into those justified.” Consequently, it is not Christ’s PERSONAL righteousness, but “A” righteousness which provides the strength necessary to perform good works.

    This is another example of a non sequitur. From the fact that Christ infuses strength into those justified, it does not follow that the righteousness of God is not infused into us. As Trent teaches:

    the single formal cause is the justice [i.e. righteousness] of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He wills, and according to each one’s disposition and cooperation. For though no one can be just except he to whom the merits of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet this takes place in that justification of the sinner, when by the merit of the most holy passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Ghost in the heart of those who are justified and inheres in them; whence man through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives in that justification, together with the remission of sins, all these infused at the same time, namely, faith, hope and charity.

    You wrote:

    When that person cooperates with this infused “strength”, they then come to possess an “inherent righteousness” (according to Trent),

    That’s an inaccurate description of the Catholic position. We come to possess an “inherent righteousness” only at the moment of initial justification. If what you said were true, then babies could not have inherent righteousness until they reach the age of reason. But in Catholic doctrine, babies have inherent righteousness from the moment of their baptism, years before they cooperate with any infused strength. Hence the “inherent righteousness” we are given does not arrive only after someone does some good work, but through the sacrament of initiation Christ has established.

    manifested in good works via God’s grace (#1821) which then become the ground of their justification.

    That’s a straw man. See above.

    The justified one does not merit heaven by good works via God’s grace, but is clothed in the actual, EARTHBOUND R.O.C….
    “by imputing the OBEDIENCE and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness, by faith”
    —Westminster Confession

    This presumes that the Westminster Confession has some authority. So before you can appeal to the WCF as authoritative, we would need first to establish whether and why it is authoritative.

    NO. Rather, it is the doctrine of the imputation of the earthbound R.O.C. which allows the sinner to know he still has a long way to go in sanctification. The logical ramifications of the infusion of the R.O.C. (if it were true) should render a person pristine and infallible, with no room for “conforming to the likeness of Christ” as Scripture indicates….because they would already have it!

    Your objection presupposes (a) the Protestant conception of the R.O.C. and (b) the list-paradigm. In both ways, then, your objection presupposes precisely what is in question between Protestants and the Catholic Church.

    However, since we do not see any perfect Catholics walking this planet; the claim is false due to their sinning all the day long.

    This objection conflates the distinction between mortal and venial sins (a distinction explained here), and thus presupposes precisely what is in question between Protestants and the Catholic Church.

    While Trent says that this righteousness may increase, they may not say that it is the ACTUAL R.O.C. because the same CANNOT be increased. It is perfect as is. I will get to that shortly in the next comment box.

    Again, this objection is based on conceiving of “R.O.C.” according to the Protestant conception of the R.O.C., and in this way presupposes what is in question between the two paradigms.

    Protestants escape the ramifications of “infusion” (which begs the objection of “where is your perfect life?”) by simply believing the promise of Christ to send the Holy Spirit to reside with believers 24/7, yet knowing He has seen fit to leave us in a constant battle with the flesh which pits itself against the Spirit (Rms 7:23, Gal 5:17). Hence, Mr. Cross, by no means, proved his position.

    That conclusion does not follow from those premises.

    Quoting the fathers at great length on the Pharisee’s mental state of mind was a complete waste of time, his point being that the Pharisee was full of pride—-as if any Protestant ever denied it! His argument is an eloquent example of a strawman, and proves absolutely nothing.

    I never claimed that Protestants deny that the Pharisee was full of pride. Rather, what I show from the patristics in the post above is that the parable, as understood in the light of Tradition (rather than abstracted from Tradition) does not support the assumption in Sproul’s argument that the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican is that the Pharisee believes that God’s grace has “made him whole” while the Publican knows that he is an unrighteous sinner.

    All of this “righteousness” is said to “increase” one’s justification, per Trent. But we steadfastly refuse such chatter. Justification, according to the Bible, CANNOT “increase”, nor can the actual R.O.C. increase, infused orrrr imputed. The R.O.C. imputed to our account is perfect as is, because, “In Him, you have been made complete.” (Col 2:10).

    Again, this objection presupposes the list-paradigm conception of “R.O.C” and thus begs the question, i.e. presupposes precisely what is in question between Protestants and the Catholic Church.

    Again: the R.O.C. is perfect as is, per Mark 9:3, where Christ’s own raiment is illustrative of what WE will be wearing. “It became exceedingly white as snow, so no fuller on earth can white them”. In God’s view, we are in desperate need of a change of clothing. That clothing is the righteousness of Christ which is described as something we wear, but which is actually something that is imputed to us. “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation….covered me with the robe of righteousness….take away the filthy garment from her…..behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment” (Isa 61:10, Zech 3:3, Rev 3:5). Thus, we are asked to “PUT ON” the Lord Jesus Christ (Rms 13:14).

    I’ve addressed this in the last part of “Imputation and Paradigms: A Reply to Nicholas Batzig.”

    The Catholic Church attempts to “add bleach” to the wash in the form of good works increasing (or making “whiter”) our righteousness before God to the point that it renovates the sinner and now becomes acceptable at the bar of justice.

    This objection, according to which any increase in righteousness must indicate that the righteousness we received from Christ was imperfect, presupposes the list-paradigm, and thus begs the question (i.e. presupposes precisely what is in question between Protestants and the Catholic Church). I have explained how, in the Catholic paradigm, an increase in righteousness does not imply imperfection in righteousness, in comment #5 of the “Imputation and Paradigms” thread.

    Trent says that when someone is justified, “the robe given to them through Jesus Christ must be preserved [by good works] pure and spotless so that we may bear it before the Judgment Seat” (Session 6, chap. 7). NO WAY. The wedding garments of yesteryear were supplied by the Bridegroom! What a horrible thought to bear the unattainable burden of preserving a pure and spotless robe before the eyes of a thrice-holy God, agonizing all your life in a desperate attempt to keep it spot-free.

    I’ve addressed this kerygmatic consumerism in comments #97, 108, and 110 of the “Trueman and Prolegomena thread.

    No one on earth is capable of this, as Paul admits (Phil 3:12),

    Phil. 3:12 reads “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Nowhere in this verse does St. Paul say that no one on earth, or even St. Paul himself, is unable (with God’s help) to preserve the pure and spotless robe of righteousness we receive at baptism.

    which is why he wanted to be found, “NOT having a righteousness of my own” (3:9).

    Of course the Catholic Church also condemns Pelagianism. Your objection, however, presupposes that St. Paul’s condemnation of the soteriological value of graceless works entails also the condemnation of the soteriological value of works done in and by grace. And that presupposition begs the question between Protestants and the Catholic Church.

    The R.O.C. is perfect AS IS, since no fuller on earth can whiten it, and we are given this “gift of righteousness” WHOLE and ENTIRE, not piecemeal,.

    So teaches the Catholic Church as well. But we can grow in our participation in this perfect righteousness. That’s something impossible according to the list-paradigm, but perfectly intelligible in the agape paradigm. Presupposing the list-paradigm in your criticism of the Catholic paradigm presupposes precisely what is in question between the two paradigms. As for your “faith alone,” claim, see “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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