Results tagged “Catholicism” from Reformation21 Blog

Faith at Work: Sola Scriptura


Tradition is helpful, but even Protestants can be guilty of treating Augustine and Calvin as a magisterium. This week, Dan Doriani encourages readers to have a proper understanding of Sola Scriptura.

The difference between Catholic and Protestant teaching is more subtle than people realize, for Catholics confess that Scripture is inspired, infallible, and authoritative. It is wise to remember, too, that the first Reformers were encouraged to study Scripture by scholarly Catholics: Staupitz told Luther to get his doctorate in biblical studies, Erasmus encouraged Zwingli's studies, and Faber Staupulensis and Lorenzo Valla inspired others. The difference lies in our views of the sufficiency of Scripture.    

The Catholic position is that Scripture is part of God's revelation. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) said Scripture "is the true rule and a foundation of faith for Christians." Notice "a foundation," not the foundation. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) explained: "The controversy between the heretics [Protestants] and ourselves focuses here on two points: first, when we affirm that the Scripture do not contain the totality of necessary doctrine, for faith as for morals... Apart from the Word of God written, it is necessary to have his non-written Word, that is to say, divine and apostolic traditions."

So the RCC affirms prima scripture, the primacy of Scripture. Scripture is the primary source for theology, but not the final source. Tradition and church teaching effectively limit Scripture's authority. If a matter is uncertain in Scripture, and tradition has an authoritative interpretation, then it has the final word...

Head over to Place for Truth to read the rest of the article! 

The following comes from an article posted by Dr. Dan Doriani. Dan's new column at Place for Truth draws from his experience as both a professor and a pastor. This column is titled "Faith at Work," because, as Dan puts it, "we are saved by faith alone, but saving faith is never alone." The Reformers knew that the Gospel demands a response; Dan helps us revisit that truth today, particularly as it relates to the our roles in the workplace.  

The leader of a major campus ministry recently said "If forty people approach a campus minister with an objection to Christianity, one worries about Bart Ehrman and his attacks on the authority and reliability of Scripture. The other thirty-nine have moral questions: Why does the Bible have a repressive sex ethic? Why is it silent about abuse of power? Why do evangelical churches support politicians who tolerate racism and misogyny? Why do so many pastors say "God wants you to be rich" and get rich pushing that message? In short, they ask, "Can I look to the church for moral direction?"     

The Reformation era had similar questions and they fueled a desire for reform in an era when the church was society's dominant institution. Priests were everywhere and their flaws were clear. For example, Zurich had a population of 5,000 people and about 400 priests - over 20% of the adult male population. They lived beside the people, who saw that most of them had concubines and illegitimate children. At the time, popes like Alexander VI and Julius I had acknowledged children.

We rightly assent to the doctrinal elements of the Reformation, but it began as a moral movement and retained a moral flavor... 

Read the rest of Dan's article over at Place for Truth today!


A Roman Catholic at Death (with Luther near by)

My wife's step-father has attended a Roman Catholic church his whole life. But he has just been moved to palliative care, and likely has days or weeks to live.

He has a book beside his bed where he lies dying: not the Catechism of the (Roman) Catholic Church, but a book by Martin Luther on justification through faith alone. 

I left that book at his house years ago, and now it's at his death-bed. That's the book he chose to take with him as he left his house for the last time. As heretical as this might sound, and open to obvious misunderstanding, I am happier he has Luther beside his bed than a Bible in this instance. (Without the church's confession, which, of course, is grounded in Scripture, the Scriptures are ineffectual - Bavinck).

For about 10 years I've spent many hours with him in private, explaining the gospel and the need to renounce his "good works" and lay hold of Christ's righteousness that comes through faith. What sounds so easy is actually so hard for man to receive, especially someone who has grown up trying to justify himself - and, believe me, he did! Often, thoroughgoing Romanists are harder to talk to about free justification than atheists. 

But having a far greater advantage than his priest, who does not do pastoral visits, I was able to speak many times with my wife's step-father in simple terms about the gospel and his sin. He needed to be reminded about his "foot-wedge" on the golf course that he regularly used (thus breaking the 8th, 9th, and 10th commandments). But, more importantly, he needed to be reminded that the seed of every known sin lies in his heart and he is guilty before a holy God. 

To be made aware of the vileness of our sin - i.e., that we are internally what Naaman was externally - puts us in a position to understand the beauty of the gospel and justification by faith alone: "for," as John Owen said, "although this faith is in itself the radical principle of all obedience,... yet, as we are justified by it, its act and duty is such, or of that nature, as that no other grace, duty, or work, can be associated with it, or be of any consideration."

This is good news. We can be justified in this life (Rom. 8:1). And because of that we can be assured of our salvation (1 Jn. 3:2). As Cardinal Bellarmine said, assurance is the greatest Protestant heresy. And I'm exceedingly grateful to embrace this "heresy." 

The battle with Rome is not unimportant. We are dealing, quite literally, with matters of life and death. Rome gives no true comfort; Rome gives no true hope; and Rome cannot give true assurance. But the doctrine of justification that Luther recovered gives penitent sinners hope in a gracious God who welcomes sinners (immediately!) into paradise for the sake of his Son.

Rome does its worst; but Christ does his best. And in this case, Luther, not Benedict, sits beside the bed of a man who, I pray, knows (as Newton did) that he is a great sinner, but Christ is a greater Savior.

If we want to pontificate about these matters, it seems to me to be a good idea to spend time with people, especially dying people. And then - and perhaps only then - will we realize the importance of good theology, and why people have died at the stake in defence of these truths. Those who condone popery pour gasoline on the flames that engulfed Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and others who died for the sake of truth. 

Pastor Mark Jones hopes that if a priest visits his step-father, the priest will see Luther's book beside the bed and take up and read!

Polish Catholic Priests stealing sermons

The 28,000 Polish Catholic priests have been reprimanded by Father Wieslaw Przyczyna for plagiarising sermons off the internet. See the story here in Saturday's Guardian newspaper. Rumour has it that some have been downloading Trueman's sermons from the web. Can we expect a reformation to result?