Roman Catholics and Evangelicals
Thu Jan 19 18:48:19 EST 2012
This brief outline cross references TULIP with the Four Spiritual Laws.
God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
In what way is God good? Why should we expect His plan to be
Calvin: Whatever God does is "good" by definition. Who are we to question
the Almighty? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, "Why have
you made me like this?" [Rom 9:20]
Others: God is objectively good.
However, God is sovereign, and is Himself the author of the standard of
We must all affirm both the Sovereignty of God and the
Goodness of God.
"God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man." [James 1:13]
Does God have a wonderful plan for everyone?
Calvin: Only for the elect. This is called Unconditional Election.
Others: Yes. God elects those he fore-knows: Conditional Election.
We must all affirm the doctrine of Election. [Rom 9:11-14]
Our Desperate Situation: Sin Separates us from God.
Without Christ, we are dead in trespasses and sins, walking according to
the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. Without Christ,
we conduct ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the
flesh and of the mind, and are by nature children of wrath, just as the
others. [Eph 2:1-3] We are without hope and without God in the world,
and our destiny is eternal separation from God.
Total Depravity vs. Original Sin
Reformers: Original sin has so completely destroyed our
likeness to God and our moral faculties in the natural order, that
our will has lost its freedom regarding works morally good or bad,
and we are consequently condemned to commit sin in every action. "The
plowing of the wicked is sin." [Prov 21:4] Even what we consider good works are nothing
but sin. This is called Total Depravity.
The Reformers are defining sin as "falling short of the glory of God".
Trent: Original Sin has weakened and deflected, but not entirely destroyed
or extinguished the freedom of the human will.
Here sin is thought of as deliberate rebellion against God.
We must all affirm both the Sovereignty of God and the
Responsibility of Man.
Update: Total Depravity was originally coined in response to the idea of
Thomas Acquinas that almost all of human nature was touched by Original Sin,
excepting Reason. Calvin said that no, the totallity of our nature,
including Reason, was corrupted. He did not mean that every part of
our nature was totally corrupted (which is how people understand the
Christ Died for our Sins.
How does this help?
The Church in earliest times taught that the Atonement ransomed us from
the devil, as Aslan ransoms Edmund from the White Witch. Anselm and later
the Reformers taught
that the Atonement satisfies the justice of God in our place - the
Penal Substitution theory. Modern theories include the
Moral Example theory - Jesus showed us how to live,
the Moral Government theory - God had to demonstrate His justice,
and the Reconciliation theory - God had to show us that He still really
loved us after our Sin.
Who did Christ die for?
Calvin: Only the Elect. This is called Limited Atonement.
Others: All men, Universal Atonement.
How do I get in on God's Salvation?
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He
loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together
with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Eph 2:4,5
All agree that God takes the initiative. Calvin and Luther say our will
is in bondage before we are made alive. Rome agrees, but says that there is a
mystical union between God's initiative and the cooperation of our will -
Grace can be resisted and ultimately rejected.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of
yourselves; it is the gift of God, Eph 2:8
We are all still in agreement here.
not of works, lest anyone should boast. Eph 2:9
Here there is a disagreement over what is meant by works. Rome says this
is talking about works of true merit,
of which we have none. The Reformers say this is talking about any
kind of works at all.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10
All in agreement again. Essentially, the Reformers say we are saved
by grace, through faith in Christ, for works in Christ. Rome says we
are saved by grace, through faith in Christ and works in Christ.
The Council of Trent clearly states that we merit eternal life through our
good works. Protestants, on the other hand, insist
that our good works merit eternal reward, but that our eternal life is
merited solely by the atonement of Christ on the cross. In both cases,
our works have only secondary, not intrinsic merit. Only works
prompted by Grace are pleasing to God, and only the work of Christ has
intrinsic or true merit.
But what do I need to do?
Reformers: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.
Rome: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. (But he that
believeth not shall be damned.) [Mark 16:16]
Compare: If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe
in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Note that for all parties, "belief"
includes repentance - which implies an intention to obey God from now on.
I've been born again (or regenerated).
Why do I still sin?
Reformed: You are a new sanctified creature, "yet imperfect in this life: there
abideth still some remnats of corruption in every part, whence ariseth
a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit
and the Spirit against the flesh.
"Through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit
of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome: and so the saints grow
in grace, prefecting holiness.
"After death, the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness,
are received into the highest heavens, ... and await the full redemption
of their bodies." - Westminster Confession
Luther: You are simultaneously legally righteous, but practically
still a sinner. You must daily bring the flesh under subjection
to reduce actual sin and increase holiness. After death, any
remaining actual sin is purged.
Rome: You are a new sinless creature with a problem. The problem is
concupiscence - temptation to do evil. You must daily bring the flesh
under subjection to rid it of this problem - finishing up in Purgatory
if needed - before you can enter heaven.
Can I lose my salvation (or justification)?
Rome: Mortal sin destroys your new spiritual life, and you must be
re-justified to gain new life again through Penance.
Some Reformers: No.
Other Reformers: Yes, by grave deliberate and persistent rebellion against
God. However, there is no recovery from this state of Reprobation.
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