Roman Catholics and Evangelicals
Agreements and Differences
Fri Feb 16 17:45:59 EST 2001
God is Trinity
We have one God. This One God reveals Himself as three
distinct Persons. These distinct Persons are One in nature and Being.
This is not a logical contradiction. The Trinity does not teach that
we have one God and three Gods. It means we have one God and three Persons.
"We believe there is one substance (ousia) of the Father and the Son
and the Holy Spirit in three most perfect Subsistences (hypostaseis)
or Persons." Second Council of Constantinople (554)
- We believe in one God, not three gods (tritheism).
"Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One!" Deu 6:4
- We believe in three Persons, not one.
"Jesus told the Jews: I have come down from heaven to do, not
my will, but the will of him that sent me." John 6:38
Modalism says that God is only
one Person, who reveals Himself
is three different ways. You may recognize this as the "Ice Water Steam"
illustration. It is a doctrine of the heretical "Oneness Pentecostal"
God is Self-Existent
This does not mean that God is self caused - that
would be a logical contradiction. It means that God has no cause, but
is the ultimate cause of everything that is. "All things were made
by Him, and without Him, was not anything made that was made."
"God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.'" Exo 3:14
- Immutable - "For I am the LORD, I do not change." Mal 3:6
- Omnipresent - "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from
Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make
my bed in hell, behold, You are there." Psa 139:7,8
- Omniscient - "Even before a word is on my tongue, behold,
O LORD, You know it altogether." Psa 139:4
- Omnipotent - "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" Gen 18:14
- Eternal - "From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God." Psa 90:2
God is Other
He fills the universe, but is not the universe. "But who is
able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens
cannot contain Him?" 2 Chr 2:6
Christ is God
Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity took on a second nature
in the incarnation. The Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon declares that
Christ is one Person with two natures.
- Christ has not one nature, but two: 100% God, 100% Man. This is not
a logical contradiction because these natures are completely different
- Jesus has a true human nature. "That which
was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with
our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning
the Word of Life" 1 John 1:1
The Gnostics (Docetism) admit only a divine
nature saying Christ had only the appearance of flesh.
- Jesus has a true Divine nature. "In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
Arians (and Jehovah's Witnesses) say that Christ is not divine,
but a created being.
- Jesus is truly Emmanuel, God with us. "And the Word became 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 1:14
Modern Liberals admit only a human nature denying that God ever
- Monophysitism says that Christ has only one merged divine/human
nature. (The 50/50 theory.)
- Christ has two wills, a divine will and a human will. "For we do not
have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in
all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Heb 4:14
says that Christ lacks a human will. Apollinarianism says
that Christ lacks a human mind and soul.
- Christ is not two Persons but one.
Not a Divine and a Human, as the Nestorians say, teaching that
Mary gave birth to the Human person but not the Divine person.
Nestor objected to the title Theotokas, "Mother of God" given
to Mary on the grounds that it could lead to Apollinarianism.
Nestor's objections were overruled by the Council of Ephesus. His followers
separated from the Church and went on to found the Nestorian heresy. It
is not clear whether Nestor was a Nestorian.
- Are created in the Image of God. "Then God said,
Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness." Gen 1:26
- Have both material bodies and immaterial souls. "And the LORD
God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." GEN 2:7
- Were created perfect and innocent. "Then God saw everything
that He had made, and indeed it was very good." GEN 1:31
The Law of Sin and Death
The doctrine of Original Sin is the most disliked of all Christian doctrines,
and the most easily verified by reading a newspaper. The Pelagian heresy
denies Original Sin. We have many today who feel that they can be
good if they try hard enough.
- Innocence - possible to sin.
Although the first Man and Woman were perfect and innocent, it was
possible for them to sin. And they did.
- Original Sin - not possible not to sin. Now we are born slaves to sin.
"Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus
death spread to all men, because all sinned." Rom 5:12
Going to the other extreme, we have what could
be called the "Contra-Pelagian" heresy which denies the Image of God in the
staunchest Calvinist, while insisting on Total Depravity, admits
that "the Image of God is effaced, but not erased". We have many in the
Church today who feel that nothing is worthwhile unless it is
produced by Christians.
This work by Stuart David Gathman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.