Open Discussion on Justification

JustificationByFaithThis post is for the purpose of discussing the topic of justification on the request of Nick from Nick’s Catholic Blog. I invite Nick to begin the discussion.

385 Responses to Open Discussion on Justification

  1. Mike says:

    Hi Bryan – this is not my blog, so I can’t delete anything. I see Brian tells you he’s deleted nothing.

    However, if you like analysis on conversion stories, why don’t you visit my website I did an overview on the conversion of Scott Hahn here:

    While I don’t usually question conversions since that’s a personal journey, I’ve always suspected Hahn’s story to be somewhat inconsistent and questionable. The article shows the inconsistencies and illogical aspects of his conversion.


  2. Etekia. M. Bouatoa says:

    Hi Phil

    Since we have been through this earlier, I will just go straight to my interpretation as you asked. Here is my interpretation on 2 Peter 2:20-22.

    Taking that passage given, that is 2 Peter 2:20-22 in its own context (1-22) and to relate it to other important passages from the same scripture will show a full picture rather than taking it out of context, and as we all know the whole context merely referred to false prophets that are not true believers, even if they were in the Church in the first place, “…after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” They would act like Christians upon that knowledge, however, they have no basis for doing it for if they have, they would not leave the church as we are told in some place by John concerning this same situation (1 John 2:19).

    In 2 Peter 2, Peter warns about false prophets, just like John, who came out from the Church even “…after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” Peter told us that such people where in the church through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and that knowledge, therefore, is the cause of their escaping “…the pollution of the world”, but we need to understand that that does not mean they truly escaped that pollution. The knowledge Peter was referring to is the faith, and those false prophets escape that pollution not through saving faith but through a mere temporal faith, the kind of faith that the devils also believe in and tremble (James 2:19). That, I believe, is exactly what Peter actually mean if we relate his view with John.

    There are two ways in which people can received that knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; through saving and temporal faith. And it is true for people who received such a knowledge in either ways if they live in the Church to have escaped that pollution of the world for they would have the feeling of liberty in it, however, those who hold on to the temporal faith would have their deeds far from the true meaning of that freedom.

    But unfortunately we cannot tell who really is a true Christian and one that is not, in other words, who has saving faith and one who has temporal faith except God. However, God has provided us a sign to come to know it and that is in 1 John 2:19. So no one can deceived true Christians and especially God if you are in the assembly of Christ and outwardly manifested such a Christian way of living. And indeed God would not waste His time protecting such hypocrite.

    But if those false prophets were indeed true Christians (a true born again) they would not depart the church because they are saved and protected, because God “…knoweth how to deliver the godly from temptation…” (2 Peter 2:9). Thus would receive eternal life and would never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of His hand, as our Lord Christ Jesus say so (John 10:27-29). Why is that? As a true Christian, he or she hear His “…voice, and He know them, and they follow Him.” On the contrary, the unbelievers (i.e. false prophets), did not hear His voice and did not follow Him as well. They did betray God in their outward appearance to others, and for that reason God cannot give unto them eternal life; and they shall perish, and was possible for anyone to pluck them out of His hand, because God did not protect them, but “…reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2 Peter 2:9)

    Therefore, to my understanding, 2 Peter 2:20-22, I would agree with Mike that this passage has nothing to do with true Christians. It wasn’t about those who have been saved and later on lost their salvation. It is all about the still not save people pretending to be saved by acting like one while living within the assembly, but their temporal faith has been manifested in their departure from the church.

    Finally, you interpret 2 Peter 2:15 by saying, “if they have forsaken the right way, it can only mean that at some point they had the right way and they forsook it.” Since we have one side supporting the OSAS and another against it, we need to examine, as Mike says, that passage with other related scriptures, and to me, that passage you quote could possibly mean those people (false prophets) who “…come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15). They, like Jesus to the Pharisees, justify themselves before men, for instance acting in a right way “…but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) Even those false prophets “…draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13). From such given passages it now obvious that there are kind of people who did live in the right way as the only means to be seen as sheep to deceive others. They were, like true Christians, able to have the knowledge of the right way in a different manner which never rooted in themselves.

    Therefore, to me Peter is speaking about false teachers or unbelievers, who turned from God, because they were not even saved from the first time they came into the Church. No such true Christians can turn away from Him for even the Devil cannot snatch the true converted Christian from God’s hand (John 10:28-29.) if he or she truly saved. God“…knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,…” (2 Peter 2:9).

    The scripture says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1) So is Jesus lying when he said “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.”?

    Can you please provide from scripture proof that the person indicated in that passage had true saving faith in Christ, and not a mere temporal faith, which is not rooted in regeneration?

    And finally, I was interested to hear your reply to Mike’s question which says and I quote: “So, if Phil is correct that those Peter is speaking about were once true Christians, how did they become slaves of depravity – snatched from God’s hand, contrary to the Scripture?”

    If you had attempted that already,but I missed I apologize.

    To Bryan, thanks for your response. And maybe I will try to comments on some.

    God bless all

  3. Mike says:

    Mike – again you insist on misleading people by stating that ” RCC declares that “each priest IS CHRIST ON Earth”.

    Take it easy Bryan. I forget you’re new to this blog so further explanation is required.

    What I mean is that the ordained priest it Christ’s representative on earth, not actually Jesus. However, there is a very thin line here in Roman Catholic theology. The thin line is the performing of duties by Roman Catholic priests that blur that line.

    For instance, we all know that priests claim to be able to forgive sins “through” Christ. So, we all know they’re not claiming they are Jesus, just that they have his powers. This is not much of a distinction as a matter of practice, but we get the drift. This introduces problems for the Roman Catholic priest. For instance, one of the duties of the priest is to perform communion, and offer the body of Christ to the faithful. As you probably know, Roman Catholics belief the wafer is the actual body of Christ, and the wine is his actual blood.

    Now, say the priest commits a mortal sin just before communion, behind the curtain at the sanctuary. He then performs Mass, and handles the body and blood of Christ to administer it to the laity. The question then becomes; what of the priest’s sins? Are they transferred to the body and blood of Christ? Do they matter?

    Here’s an explanation from a Roman Catholic teaching site I found:

    When receiving or celebrating the sacraments, the priest is subject to the same requirements of sanctity and state of grace as every other Catholic; that is, the state of grace is required for fruitful reception of all sacraments except those that actually forgive sins.

    Therefore a priest who is in a state of mortal sin should seek to confess as soon as possible and refrain from celebrating the sacraments until he has done so.

    Normally, to celebrate Mass or receive Communion while in a state of mortal sin would be to commit a sacrilege. Yet, the sacrament would be valid; that is, there would be a true consecration and a true sacrifice.

    The reason is: Christ is the principal actor of the sacraments, so they are efficacious even when performed by an unworthy minister. As St. Thomas Aquinas says: Christ may act even through a minister who is spiritually dead.

    However, a priest who has fallen into mortal sin, but who is unable to make his confession despite his desire to do so, may celebrate Mass for the benefit of the faithful without adding a further sin of sacrilege.

    Thus, as Canon 916 of the Code of Canon Law states: “A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible (see also Canon 1335).”

    Note that the code requires a grave reason in order to avail of this exception.

    One such grave reason is based on the principle of the good of souls. If a priest is required to celebrate Mass or a soul requests the sacrament of reconciliation, the anointing of the sick, or indeed any other sacrament from this priest that would have to be performed before he can avail of confession, then he may, and usually must, administer the sacrament.

    A second grave reason stems from the danger of infamy by publicly revealing the state of one’s soul.

    This can occur in the case of a priest in isolated circumstances when there is no one else to perform the usual celebrations. There is no need for him to do anything that might lead people to suspect his lack of a state of grace.

    Even in the case that the priest, or any other person, has secretly committed a grave crime, which would normally lead to his or her being automatically forbidden to receive the sacraments, Church law (in Canon 1352) foresees the possibility of the penalty being suspended to avoid infamy or scandal, to wit:

    Ҥ1. If a penalty prohibits the reception of the sacraments or sacramentals, the prohibition is suspended as long as the offender is in danger of death.

    “§2. The obligation to observe an undeclared ‘latae sententiae’ penalty which is not notorious in the place where the offender is present, is suspended totally or partially whenever the offender cannot observe it without danger of grave scandal or infamy.”

    While the possibilities of a layperson or a religious in a state of mortal sin being placed in a similar dilemma as the priest are far rarer, the same basic principles would apply should they occur.

    Furthermore, while it is nobody else’s business why somebody does not approach Communion, pastors should do all that they can to avoid creating public pressures that might induce a person in a state of mortal sin — or otherwise unable to receive Communion — to receive out of an objective fear of infamy or even out of human respect.

    For example, when parish ushers move down the aisles during Communion to assure an orderly procession, it becomes very difficult for someone, especially if well known to the other parishioners and who for some hidden reason cannot receive Communion, not to go forward with the others because staying in the pew is often the equivalent of making a public self-denunciation.

    In such cases, a less organized procession at Communion allows such people to pass unnoticed.

    You can probably see the fabrication, legalism, and outright silliness of all of this, especially since it’s reasonable to assume not all priests go through confession to absolve themselves before handling the elements. The RCC realized early that people know priests are sinners. They also knew the priests handle the actual body and blood of Christ (according to Roman Catholics.) The natural question is “what of the sins of the priest, if the priest is God’s representative to man?”

    I’m sure you can see the issues here. Who came up with all this nonsense? You guessed it – men.


  4. Etekia. M. Bouatoa says:

    Hi Bryan

    Thanks for answering my question, however, it seems that there is a conflict if we consider the definition of the Council of Trent on the issue of justification with your belief, if I’m right. The Council of Trent, Canon 9 on Justification, reads:

    “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

    So to my understanding you agreed that work does not save us. And if I’m right in my thinking, then how can you reconcile what you believe with Canon 9 on justification of the Council of Trent?

    Now you may be right in your interpretation on John 10:27-29, but I don’t see any reason why going back to 10:22 impact my understanding. John 10:22 does not pointing to us that Jesus was the Christ and Messiah, because He already told them that but they don’t believe. The truth is verses 1-6 did, because when you read, which is an illustration used by Jesus, it will tell you that Jesus is the true shepherd which means He is the Messiah and the Christ. Verses 22-29 only shows us the reason why they did not understand His illustration, which leads me to my understanding that verses 22-29 is about the shepherd (i.e. Jesus) knowing His sheep. So it is not of Jesus being the Messiah.

    The whole context of John 10 is this Jesus is a true shepherd and a good one, because He can “…giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11), and one who comes to believe that, and Christ knows His true heart, He would protect him or her (verses 7-21) by giving His life for him or her and that no one can snatch him or her out of His hand, thus would not perish and have eternal life. And this is exactly what John 10 is all about.

    Verses 27-29 is elaborating the truth given in verses 4 to 5. It’s kind of verses 4 to 5 is an introduction and verses 27-29 a conclusion.

    So John 10 further illustrating the meaning, I believe, of John 3:16 that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    Your second question is a good one, however, I don’t see any contradiction to the theory of OSAS in that passage. But before, I explain my reason, I will try to explain what that passage, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; [and] whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained” really mean.

    To explain that, let me put a question, who can really forgive sins Jesus or the disciples? I don’t know your answer to that question, but to me Jesus is, because He is God, the disciples are not. Even though it is true that Jesus did gave them such power to bind and loose sins, the fact is we need not to take it literally, because it is not the same power that God alone can do. What really that passage (i.e. John 20:21-23) mean, based on other sources that I have read, is the forgiveness of sins through the gospel they preached which He has taught them, and if men respond to that message of that gospel they are loosed from their sins. If they reject it they remain bound in their sins. And that, I believe, is what exactly that passage really meant. Additionally, the power to do miracles is a sign of the power of the gospel they preached.

    Now one example on the power of binding and loosing being exercised is in Galatians 1:8. In that passage, Paul exercise that power by saying and I quote:

    But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)

    Do you believe Paul has no power to bind and loose? I don’t think so, so what Paul says bear the meaning of that passage (i.e. John 20:21-23). By accepting the gospel that Paul and the other disciples preached, your sins are forgiven, and for those who does not believe would remain bound in their sins, thus, as Paul says, are accursed which means “…would remain bound in their sins.”

    So what brings me to an understanding of the passage you gave seem to support OSAS to the fact that once you received the gospel through faith your sins are forgiven and become His sheep and Christ will protect you thus no one can snatch you out of His hand, because “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,” …”and to reserve”… those who refuse the gospel “…unto the day of judgment to be punished”. That is exactly what is meant by binding and loosing.

    So those are my thoughts.

    God bless you

  5. Bryan said ” Mike you mislead people by insisting that each priest is Christ on earth.” The Catholic church calls them an “alter Christus”, another Christ. They act in the place of Christ.The misunderstanding of the Roman Catholic Synagog is that when anyone says to a person who confesses their sins ” your sins have been forgiven” its a statement about something that is already true, the declaration doesn’t make it true. The Catholic church or its priests are not the mediator of God’s grace, the Spirit of God delivers all Christ’s victory spoils. The church is the recipient of grace, not the provider. Rome’s Priest and their Priestcraft is an abomination to God.

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