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USU78

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Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

The faithful servants who received and increased their Lord's talents received the approbation, "Well done."

Now, I don't know much from Greek, but I do know the KJV translation is highly consistent with the Luther German, and Luther and his partner Melanchthon keep getting high marks for their NT translations, but it seems to me that there is a "do" at the heart of "well done," indicating that what the Lord's servants who did well got the well done and got to enter G-d's Kingdom.

That seems a good thing.

So how does one reconcile this and other works-oriented sayings of the Master with a sola gratia world view?

Thanks in advance!

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USU78,

The doctrine of sola gratia is not opposed to "doing." It does not discourage believers from doing. In fact, the historic evangelical doctrine of sola gratia insists on good works as the fruit of God's grace in salvation:

"If works and love do not blossom forth, it is not genuine faith, the gospel has not yet gained a foothold, and Christ is not yet rightly known" (Martin Luther).

"We dream not of a faith which is devoid of good works, nor of a justification which can exist without them" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion)

The root of the unfaithful servant's problem was that he did not trust the Lord. He regarded him as a hard taskmaster and actively chose not to serve him. Anyone professing faith in Christ but having such a hard heart toward him is fooling himself.

Note that the consequence for this fellow's unbelieving attitude and behavior was not a consolation prize of life in a lower kingdom, but banishment to the outer darkness, where he will be wailing and gnashing his teeth (Matt. 25:30). Jesus' parable, consistent with the rest of the Bible, pictures two destinations for human beings: God's kingdom, and some other place where you definitely do not want to go.

The faithful servants who received and increased their Lord's talents received the approbation, "Well done."

Now, I don't know much from Greek, but I do know the KJV translation is highly consistent with the Luther German, and Luther and his partner Melanchthon keep getting high marks for their NT translations, but it seems to me that there is a "do" at the heart of "well done," indicating that what the Lord's servants who did well got the well done and got to enter G-d's Kingdom.

That seems a good thing.

So how does one reconcile this and other works-oriented sayings of the Master with a sola gratia world view?

Thanks in advance!

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USU78,

The doctrine of sola gratia is not opposed to "doing." It does not discourage believers from doing. In fact, the historic evangelical doctrine of sola gratia insists on good works as the fruit of God's grace in salvation:

"If works and love do not blossom forth, it is not genuine faith, the gospel has not yet gained a foothold, and Christ is not yet rightly known" (Martin Luther).

"We dream not of a faith which is devoid of good works, nor of a justification which can exist without them" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion)

The root of the unfaithful servant's problem was that he did not trust the Lord. He regarded him as a hard taskmaster and actively chose not to serve him. Anyone professing faith in Christ but having such a hard heart toward him is fooling himself.

Note that the consequence for this fellow's unbelieving attitude and behavior was not a consolation prize of life in a lower kingdom, but banishment to the outer darkness, where he will be wailing and gnashing his teeth (Matt. 25:30). Jesus' parable, consistent with the rest of the Bible, pictures two destinations for human beings: God's kingdom, and some other place where you definitely do not want to go.

Thanks, RB, and may I say, this is consistent with my experience with the non-LDS-focused evangelical worldview.

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The faithful servants who received and increased their Lord's talents received the approbation, "Well done."

Now, I don't know much from Greek, but I do know the KJV translation is highly consistent with the Luther German, and Luther and his partner Melanchthon keep getting high marks for their NT translations, but it seems to me that there is a "do" at the heart of "well done," indicating that what the Lord's servants who did well got the well done and got to enter G-d's Kingdom.

That seems a good thing.

So how does one reconcile this and other works-oriented sayings of the Master with a sola gratia world view?

Thanks in advance!

From the Catholic point of view, the faith which initiates our justification is by grace. We also believe that any charitable works by which we persevere in justification is also by God's grace.

It seems that the Scriptures clearly warn us against "works salvation". On the other hand, there is a sense in which we must "work out our own salvation" as the Apostle tells us. Catholics hold that there are works which are not efficacious and works that are efficacious. Not surprisingly, we are the author of the non-saving works and God is the author of saving works, such as what seems to be described in Mt. 25.

If it were not for the polemics that have troubled Catholics and Protestants for five hundred years, I could argue that there is a sense in which Catholics even believe in sola fide. But we definitely believe in sola gratia. We cannot save ourselves. We can condemn ourselves. We believe we can resist grace contrary to the teaching of Calvin. But we cannot generate grace and so we preserve freedom of the will without having anything to boast about.

I don't write that to convince. I don't want to try to persuade anybody that takes a contrary view. I don't have the energy. This is just to inform. I suppose I might defend it to a point. But I am hoping to get out of here with just passing on how to understand Catholic sola gratia.

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From the Catholic point of view, the faith which initiates our justification is by grace. We also believe that any charitable works by which we persevere in justification is also by God's grace.

It seems that the Scriptures clearly warn us against "works salvation". On the other hand, there is a sense in which we must "work out our own salvation" as the Apostle tells us. Catholics hold that there are works which are not efficacious and works that are efficacious. Not surprisingly, we are the author of the non-saving works and God is the author of saving works, such as what seems to be described in Mt. 25.

If it were not for the polemics that have troubled Catholics and Protestants for five hundred years, I could argue that there is a sense in which Catholics even believe in sola fide. But we definitely believe in sola gratia. We cannot save ourselves. We can condemn ourselves. We believe we can resist grace contrary to the teaching of Calvin. But we cannot generate grace and so we preserve freedom of the will without having anything to boast about.

I don't write that to convince. I don't want to try to persuade anybody that takes a contrary view. I don't have the energy. This is just to inform. I suppose I might defend it to a point. But I am hoping to get out of here with just passing on how to understand Catholic sola gratia.

Thanks!

And quite accurate. Title to the talents, after all, never left the Master.

As the old Mormon hymn goes, "We give Thee but Thine own."

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The following is what Luther had to say concerning his own writings in comparison to Scripture:

I would gladly have seen all my books forgotten and destroyed; if only for the reason that I am afraid of the example. For I see what benefit it has brought to the churches, that men have begun to collect many books and great libraries, outside and alongside of the Holy Scriptures; . . .Not only has good time been wasted, and the study of Scripture neglected; but the pure understanding of the divine Word is lost, . . .Then, too, it was our intention and our hope, when we began to put the Bible into German, that there would be less writing, and more studying and reading of the Scriptures. For all other writing should point to the Scriptures, as John pointed to Christ, when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” . . .I only ask in all kindness, that the man who wishes at this time to have my books will by no means let them be a hindrance to his own study of the Scriptures, . . . (Luther’s preface to the first part of his German Works, 1539 edition, pp.7-9)

From Wikepedia:

The Five solas are five Latin phrases that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers' basic theological beliefs in contradistinction to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day:

1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")

2 Sola fide ("by faith alone")

3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone")

4 Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone")

5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")

The Latin word sola means "alone" or "only" in English. The five solas articulated five fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice.

All five implicitly rejected or countered the teachings of the then-dominant Catholic Church, which had in the reformers' mind usurped divine attributes or qualities for the Church and its hierarchy, especially its head, the pope.

The three I’m emphasizing in the context of this thread op are two together (by grace/through faith) contained in the third (Scripture). This understanding comes from here:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The phrase, “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” is the result of having a saving faith in that faith produces the works (none of this is in contradiction with what James has to say of which Protestant Christianity is always being accused of, having the view that our works don’t save us which they don’t as it says above, “not of works”).

“Doing” is a good and natural thing when it is the result of faith in the truth! Works are a testimony that one has faith. Biblical faith has works as Luther says here (in agreement with James) in which we don’t deny:

works are not absent where faith is

Note the following quote of Luther in a Mormon proselytizing pamphlet:

A falling away from the true religion that Christ preached, from the ordinances he performed, and from the church he organized was foretold in the Bible. Confirming this loss of truth are many of history’s great Christian reformers. Many of them sought to conform with the Holy Scriptures; some looked for the restoration “of all things” that Peter had prophesied. The Latter-day Saints not only recognize that this falling away did occur, but also announce that God has made himself known to mortal men in these modern times and has restored his church in detail as it was anciently. . . .Christianity Has Ceased to Exist- I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. . . .I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among those who should have preserved it. . . .MARTIN LUTHER. . .The Gospel of Jesus Christ Restored Through a Modern Prophet—Joseph Smith (The Falling Away And Restoration Foretold pamphlet, pp.1, 4, 5, 14, 15)

The Biblical teaching on apostasy (or falling away- the truth has to be there to fall away from) is taught through the apostle Paul. The Holy Spirit says that “some” would fall away from the faith, not that the truth would be lost or that the church would be destroyed (“some” does not mean “all”):

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, . . .In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. (1 Timothy 4:1 2, 6)

Following the death of the apostles, revelation ceased. The authority of God was no longer among men. Christianity sickened and died. In time, a new religion grew up in its place—a religion that professed to be Jesus Christ’s Church, but which in reality was a conglomerate of pagan worship and Greek philosophy, “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”. . .that eventually led to the complete apostasy of the true church and the eventual creation of an apostate religion that has been responsible for the extermination of the Messiah’s true followers and the persecution of his chosen people, the Jews. . . . (APOSTASY AND RESTORATION pamphlet, p.9)

The realization that the Lord’s true church was not only vulnerable, but destructible, comes as a shock to many people. But if wicked men were able to put to death the Messiah himself, is it so strange that they should have power to destroy his church? (APOSTASY AND RESTORATION pamphlet, p.11)

The following is part of a past conversation I had with Kevin [Wayne] Graham from his Mormon Answers website (first my statement, then his response; this was from back in May of 1999):

When your Church teaches that what I believe as a Protestant Christian is “pagan” and “heretical” and that I’m wrong, my point back is to give a defense of both what I believe from scripture (the Bible) and what I have been told officially by members of the LDS Church.

In reference to the word “some” Paul as you know wrote both 1&2 Timothy as well as 1&2 Thessalonians. The word apostasy in Thessalonians and some that would fall away in Timothy is speaking about the same thing. . .There will always be people falling away from the truth which will eventually culminate in the final delusion of the last anti-Christ (Paul identifies as the son of perdition)(there have been many anti-Christ’s as John says), who will be destroyed at the appearing of Jesus in the clouds. The point being there was and always will be the truth as contained in the Bible, preserved by the Holy Spirit of God. . . .

Excellent post Roy, and I do agree with most of what you stated. You have made an interesting argument about the two epistles to Timothy, and I do appreciate this, since I have never heard this as a defense for “someapostasy. It is well noted! But I do have to say that the “Falling away” passage never literally saidCompleteeither, and is perhaps one of the weaker scriptures used to defend the LDS position of a “complete apostasy”, although it is probably the most cited. . . .

The Mormon “gospel” as defined by Church leaders, derived from the specific Mormon scriptures (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and official statements made by the leaders), is described differently than the way it is in the Bible.

I would point out, as a Protestant Christian, that Mormons (and others) arrive at a different understanding of Biblical truths (original understanding) than Christians do. The following quote (in context dealing with constitutional jurisprudence) explains how I think the Mormon Church fits that belief:

Those who deny the validity. . .of original understanding. . .“The denial of a scheme wholesale is not heresy, and has not the creative power of a heresy,” said Belloc. “It is of the essence of heresy that it leaves standing a great part of the structure it attacks. On this account it can appeal to believers. . . .Wherefore, it is said of heresies that ‘they survive by the truths they retain.’”. . .For that reason, it is crucial to recognize a heresy for what it is and to root it out, for “heresy originates a new life of its own and vitally affects the society it attacks. The reason that men combat heresy is not only, or principally, conservatism. . .it is much more a perception that the heresy, in so far as it gains ground, will produce a way of living and a social character at issue with, irritating, and perhaps mortal to, the way of living and the social character produced by the old orthodox scheme. (The Tempting of America, Robert Bork, intro. P.11)

I would say that in essence the point of when Justification is applied to the individual (especially at one’s baptism in a Sacramental way) is at the moment of when one comes to faith and believes in the Gospel.

Objectively (Objective Justification) it was true way before one actually comes to faith (Subjective Justification). This was all known in God’s foreknowledge of the fall and all that it entails/requires.

Once one comes to faith, remaining faithful is part of our Sanctification (being set apart for works of service) in which both our Justification and Sanctification (a process of becoming mature as opposed to remaining a baby) is a work of the Holy Spirit:

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. (Hebrews 5:11-6:3)

As a child of God (post salvation) it is important to grow (come to maturity) in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (what we are all called to do):

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
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The faithful servants who received and increased their Lord's talents received the approbation, "Well done."

Now, I don't know much from Greek, but I do know the KJV translation is highly consistent with the Luther German, and Luther and his partner Melanchthon keep getting high marks for their NT translations, but it seems to me that there is a "do" at the heart of "well done," indicating that what the Lord's servants who did well got the well done and got to enter G-d's Kingdom.

That seems a good thing.

So how does one reconcile this and other works-oriented sayings of the Master with a sola gratia world view?

Thanks in advance!

I think you are confusing some things, and Rob is confusing you even more! Belief in "sola scriptura" does not automatically lead to a "faith alone" based theology which the Evangelicals subscribe to. But you are right that belief in "faith alone" theology is incompatible with "sola scriptura". And the example you have cited is not the only one. There are hundreds of more robust verses in scripture that more thoroughly debunk the "faith alone" perversion of Protestants/Evangelicals.

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USU78,

The doctrine of sola gratia is not opposed to "doing."

I agree; the Evangelicals are!

It does not discourage believers from doing.

I agree; the Evangelicals do!

In fact, the historic evangelical doctrine of sola gratia insists on good works as the fruit of God's grace in salvation:

Except that "doing good" is not an Evangelical doctrine; but it is a scriptural one.

"If works and love do not blossom forth, it is not genuine faith, the gospel has not yet gained a foothold, and Christ is not yet rightly known" (Martin Luther).

"We dream not of a faith which is devoid of good works, nor of a justification which can exist without them" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion)

Here we go again, the Evangelical perversion or the gospel! So, according to Evangelicals (and Luther and Calvin), doing good is not something you need to make a conscious effort to do. If your "faith" is genuine, it is something that will happen to you willy-nilly whether you like it or not! I am persuaded that these are the kinds of false doctrines that the Lord told Joseph Smith in the First Vision were an "abomination in His sight".

The root of the unfaithful servant's problem was that he did not trust the Lord. He regarded him as a hard taskmaster and actively chose not to serve him. Anyone professing faith in Christ but having such a hard heart toward him is fooling himself.

That is not what the Lord said his problem was. His problem was that he was wicked and slothful. Both of these are action words. In either case, you are failing to do something, not merely "believe" in something.

Note that the consequence for this fellow's unbelieving attitude and behavior was not a consolation prize of life in a lower kingdom, but banishment to the outer darkness, where he will be wailing and gnashing his teeth (Matt. 25:30). Jesus' parable, consistent with the rest of the Bible, pictures two destinations for human beings: God's kingdom, and some other place where you definitely do not want to go.

Now you are taking a side swipe at Mormonism, unrelated to the OP. Okay, let's look at it and see what it says. It says the wicked servant ended up in a place of torment; but it doesn't say how long he would stay there. By what right are you reading something there that is not there? Mormonism doesn't deny that you go to hell if you do wrong; it says that you won't stay there forever unless you have committed the unpardonable sin; and that is consistent with what the Bible teaches.

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Zerinus, I intended this as a peaceful exchange in which the evangelical can speak for himself and answer questions. I object strenuously to RB putting words in our mouths.

Please don't put words in his mouth. If you can't play nice here, please take your dolls and dishes to another thread.

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The Biblical teaching on apostasy (or falling away- the truth has to be there to fall away from) is taught through the apostle Paul. The Holy Spirit says that “some” would fall away from the faith, not that the truth would be lost or that the church would be destroyed (“some” does not mean “all”):

WHAT does THIS have to do with the OP?

The Mormon “gospel” as defined by Church leaders, derived from the specific Mormon scriptures (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and official statements made by the leaders), is described differently than the way it is in the Bible.

WHAT does THIS have to do with the OP?

I would point out, as a Protestant Christian, that Mormons (and others) arrive at a different understanding of Biblical truths (original understanding) than Christians do. The following quote (in context dealing with constitutional jurisprudence) explains how I think the Mormon Church fits that belief:

WHAT does THIS have to do with the OP?

Why the gratuitous off topic cheap shots?

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WHAT does THIS have to do with the OP?

WHAT does THIS have to do with the OP?

WHAT does THIS have to do with the OP?

Why the gratuitous off topic cheap shots?

It did tend towards the polemical, didn't it? What that there poster doesn't seem to get is that his approach is so very offputting, not to mention unintelligible to us Mormon types, since he writes in an argot that conveys no useful meaning. RB "got" it right off the bat and wrote in terms that did convey meaning . . . and in doing so, without polemics and based upon actual writings of early protestant thinkers (mingled with scripture), helped push the OP's agenda along.

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Zerinus, I intended this as a peaceful exchange in which the evangelical can speak for himself and answer questions. I object strenuously to RB putting words in our mouths.

Please don't put words in his mouth. If you can't play nice here, please take your dolls and dishes to another thread.

LOL! I am not aware that I have broken any rules; and I am not going to let you, Rob, or anybody else intimidate me from participating fully on the board. It is an open forum. Anybody can start a thread, and anybody else can join the conversation. I am not "putting words" in anybody't mouth. Rob enjoys making sideswipes at Mormonism, and I enjoy giving him the answer he deserves! :) If you want to drop out of the race early, you can, but I am not going to.

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Rob enjoys making sideswipes at Mormonism, and I enjoy giving him the answer he deserves! :) If you want to drop out of the race early, you can, but I am not going to.

Then address Rob directly and not a third party. Since USU started this thread he can set the parameters.

Reminder to all, keep away from character aspersions.

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Then address Rob directly and not a third party.

I thought that is what I did. The OP asks a question that relates to Evangelical doctrine. The question is framed to refer to Evangelical theology. Rob gives a misleading answer. He portrays Evangelical theology other than what it is. I wrote to correct his misrepresentation. I am not aware that I broke any rules in doing so.

Since USU started this thread he can set the parameters.

What are the parameters; and who decides if the parameters are right? Can I set up any parameters I like for my threads? I thought that is why the board had rules, to determine the parameters within which everyone's should operate?

Reminder to all, keep away from character aspersions.

If that is a reference to my post, I am not aware that I had engaged in any "character assassination;" if it is a general remark addressed to all, I object to your making it in a post addressed to me, because it gives people the false impression that I am being reprimanded for engaging in "character assassination," which I don't believe I have been guilty of. I should be grateful therefore if you would be kind enough to correct that misunderstanding.

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From the Catholic point of view, the faith which initiates our justification is by grace. We also believe that any charitable works by which we persevere in justification is also by God's grace.

..... But we cannot generate grace and so we preserve freedom of the will without having anything to boast about.

I don't write that to convince. I don't want to try to persuade anybody that takes a contrary view. I don't have the energy. This is just to inform. I suppose I might defend it to a point. But I am hoping to get out of here with just passing on how to understand Catholic sola gratia.

I appreciate you pointing this out about Catholicism, but what I don't understand, and what I think goes to the heart of the OP, is that if indeed even if we receive faith as a free gift from God, which as you say, "initiates our justification", how can we be responsible for anything we do?

If we require God's grace to do anything praiseworthy- why should we be praised at all, since it is grace working in us anyway?

It is almost as if we are "graced" automatons programmed to do whatever is right while at the same time, inheriting original sin.

The image that occurs to be is that if this is correct, we are like little balls in a great cosmic pinball game between Grace and original sin, and really cannot be praised or blamed much for anything we do, and if that is the case, one wonders what place, if any, "free will" has at all.

I know you don't want to argue about it, and frankly neither do I.

I am just wondering if you would like to modify your characterization of Catholic doctrine, or correct my understanding if I am off base.

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.... In fact, the historic evangelical doctrine of sola gratia insists on good works as the fruit of God's grace in salvation: ....

So how would you contrast this with the Catholic view as stated by 3DOP?

If "good works are the fruit of God's grace", it would appear that we cannot do "good works" on our own at all, but only by God's grace.

IF that is the case (and I realize I may be misunderstanding you)that we can only do good works by God's grace, why then do we get saved by expressing faith in Christ at all?

Where do we get enough grace to be able to express our faith in Christ, and then be "saved" by that expression of faith? It seems circular to me.

We cannot get grace until we are saved, but we cannot be saved until we get grace. What am I getting wrong?

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So how would you contrast this with the Catholic view as stated by 3DOP?

If "good works are the fruit of God's grace", it would appear that we cannot do "good works" on our own at all, but only by God's grace.

IF that is the case (and I realize I may be misunderstanding you)that we can only do good works by God's grace, why then do we get saved by expressing faith in Christ at all?

Where do we get enough grace to be able to express our faith in Christ, and then be "saved" by that expression of faith? It seems circular to me.

We cannot get grace until we are saved, but we cannot be saved until we get grace. What am I getting wrong?

What he means is something very different from what the Catholics mean. According to his (Evangelical) theology, you don't need any "works" at all to be saved; all you need is "faith". The "works" is an incidental thing that just happens to you when you have "faith". And what he means by "fruits of grace" is another Protestant perversion of Christianity, to the effect that you don't need to do any "works" (i.e. take any proactive steps) even to obtain faith. It is an arbitrary gift from God, which you do not obtain by any kind of "merit". He likes to sugar-coat it by identifying it with "grace" to dampen its impact and hide its true identity. In other words, his theology is an aggressive form of predestination, pure and simple. Salvation is purely a matter of faith; and it is God who decides arbitrarily who has that faith; so that your salvation is utterly independent of anything you can do to influence it one way or another. That is the Evangelical theology he adheres to; and he likes to frame it in gentler words to soften the blow so that you don't fully perceive it for what it really is.

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zerinus,

You wrote:

I thought that is what I did. The OP asks a question that relates to Evangelical doctrine. The question is framed to refer to Evangelical theology. Rob gives a misleading answer. He portrays Evangelical theology other than what it is. I wrote to correct his misrepresentation.

CFR. I don't mind a non-evangelical disputing what I, an evangelical scholar, say is the evangelical doctrine, but if you're going to do so, you should provide evidence from recognized evangelical sources for your understanding of evangelical doctrine. This you did not do. (Even though I am an evangelical, I provided quotations from Luther and Calvin showing that what I said was representative of evangelical theology.) Therefore, I am officially issuing a CFR to you to show that what I said misrepresents evangelical doctrine.

Good luck.

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Mr. Bukowski,

Catholicism historically and officially teaches salvation by grace alone. It also maintains that the good works of believers are the result of God's grace. Regrettably, many Catholics do not know their own church's teaching on the subject (as some of my Catholic theologian friends will be quick to agree), but that is the church's teaching.

The difference between Catholic and evangelical Protestant doctrine concerning salvation has to do with the relationship among faith, works, and justification. Catholicism teaches that justification includes both forgiveness of sins and an infusion of righteousness or holiness in the believer, and that a person's continued "justification" depends on his doing good works (by God's grace). (I'm perhaps simplifying somewhat; if we have any Catholic theologians in the house they are welcome to offer any comments.) Protestant theology teaches that "justification" (specifically, in Paul's writings) refers to God's judicial declaration that the believer is just or righteous before him (legally or judicially) on the basis of Christ's atonement, and that works play no role in securing or maintaining this justification. However, Protestant theology also teaches that along with this justification God imparts a new, holy nature or disposition through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and what is called regeneration (being "born again"). It is this new life in the Spirit that results in a changed life and good works, according to evangelical Protestant doctrine.

The questions you ask raise a different issue, which is the relationship between grace and faith. All orthodox Christian churches (Catholic, evangelical Protestant, Eastern Orthodox) teach that grace precedes faith in some way, i.e., that people come to faith only because God makes the first move to lead them to faith. Exactly how this works is a subject on which you will find orthodox Christians have some differing opinions. The Reformed (Calvinist) answer -- and the answer of the fifth-century church father Augustine -- is that God's grace actually causes a person to change from unbelief to faith. That is, God changes a person's heart so that the person believes. On this view, the person's faith is not a means to obtain grace (initially) but a result of God's grace.

One other point: technically, faith doesn't save people. It is the object of faith--Christ himself--who saves people. Faith "saves" in the sense that faith is the response or attitude of the heart by which we trust in Jesus, who saves us. If I am drowning and struggling in the water, and a lifeguard comes to me in the water to rescue me, my trust in that lifeguard doesn't save me--the lifeguard saves me. But if I don't trust him and instead resist him or try to flounder my way out of the water on my own, the lifeguard will not save me and I will drown. In that sense, faith is necessary for salvation, because it is simply trusting in Christ to save me. But it isn't a work by which I save myself. In fact, it is a kind of "anti-work": it is a giving up of the effort to save myself and a relinquishing of that mirage of control over my own eternal future to Someone Else.

So how would you contrast this with the Catholic view as stated by 3DOP?

If "good works are the fruit of God's grace", it would appear that we cannot do "good works" on our own at all, but only by God's grace.

IF that is the case (and I realize I may be misunderstanding you)that we can only do good works by God's grace, why then do we get saved by expressing faith in Christ at all?

Where do we get enough grace to be able to express our faith in Christ, and then be "saved" by that expression of faith? It seems circular to me.

We cannot get grace until we are saved, but we cannot be saved until we get grace. What am I getting wrong?

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Rob:

Well the most simple non-argumentative response I have to your post is that once again, I am glad I am LDS.

Any view which makes it necessary to put grace as a prior condition to faith seems to make some sort of predestination inevitable. Perhaps that is what Zerinus was saying in his own way.

If God gives us a gift without which we cannot be saved, then is never really our choice. If it is not our choice, we cannot be punished for NOT being "saved". I think there is no way out of the conundrum.

Surely we cannot be saved on our own- we can never merit it on our own, in the sense of doing enough to make up for our own sins on our own, but surely we have agency to accept or reject what God freely reveals to each of us in our hearts.

THAT is how I see it. The gift is given to make up for what we cannot do ourselves, but the choice is ours, and repentance is our responsibility, not someone else's.

The surrendering is to his will for us and in humility for the supernal gift he gives- we are nothing compared to Him! But the choice is ours and must always be ours.

One other point: technically, faith doesn't save people. It is the object of faith--Christ himself--who saves people. Faith "saves" in the sense that faith is the response or attitude of the heart by which we trust in Jesus, who saves us. If I am drowning and struggling in the water, and a lifeguard comes to me in the water to rescue me, my trust in that lifeguard doesn't save me--the lifeguard saves me. But if I don't trust him and instead resist him or try to flounder my way out of the water on my own, the lifeguard will not save me and I will drown. In that sense, faith is necessary for salvation, because it is simply trusting in Christ to save me. But it isn't a work by which I save myself. In fact, it is a kind of "anti-work": it is a giving up of the effort to save myself and a relinquishing of that mirage of control over my own eternal future to Someone Else.

I agree with this- both in word and in sentiment.

But in your analogy, I would only add that it is our choice to first holler "HELP"! to the lifeguard, and at least try to paddle in his direction

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Backing up Monsieur Bukowski:

Mosiah 2:

23 And now, in the first place, [God] hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

* * *

I think people often misunderstand the Mormon position on the sola <fill in the blank> discussions.

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Mr. Bukowski,

You wrote:

Any view which makes it necessary to put grace as a prior condition to faith seems to make some sort of predestination inevitable.

Well, since predestination is in the Bible, that doesn't seem like a problem to me.

You wrote:

If God gives us a gift without which we cannot be saved, then is never really our choice. If it is not our choice, we cannot be punished for NOT being "saved". I think there is no way out of the conundrum.

There's no conundrum at all. No one will be punished "for not being saved." People will be punished for their sins.

You wrote:

Surely we cannot be saved on our own- we can never merit it on our own, in the sense of doing enough to make up for our own sins on our own, but surely we have agency to accept or reject what God freely reveals to each of us in our hearts.

We do have "agency," but our capacity for making choices has been fatally compromised by sin. We are in bondage to sin, to the flesh, and we need God to pull us out.

When I was 17, I read Erasmus's Freedom of the Will and Luther's response Bondage of the Will. I was predisposed to reject Luther's view, but I had to admit that he was right. I recommend his book to you.

You wrote:

But in your analogy, I would only add that it is our choice to first holler "HELP"! to the lifeguard, and at least try to paddle in his direction

The problem arises when a religion teaches that you must "follow" the lifeguard by swimming the English Channel behind him in order to make it back to the King's Country.

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The problem arises when a religion teaches that you must "follow" the lifeguard by swimming the English Channel behind him in order to make it back to the King's Country.

I agree.

But of course I know of no religion which would require that. Another one of your little slaps I suppose.

I gave up on medieval philosophy long ago.

Among other things, those poor guys had no understanding of free will at all. Even slaves can make decisions, it is overcoming bondage that counts, as in Rev 3.

But that discussion has gone on forever and we know it goes nowhere

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Mr. Bukowski,

You wrote:

I agree. But of course I know of no religion which would require that. Another one of your little slaps I suppose.

There is substantial basis in the teachings of LDS Church prophets to support that characterization.

You wrote:

I gave up on medieval philosophy long ago. Among other things, those poor guys had no understanding of free will at all.

Sounds like chronological snobbery, as C. S. Lewis liked to call this kind of fallacious reasoning. And Martin Luther's book is not medieval philosophy.

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Sounds like chronological snobbery, as C. S. Lewis liked to call this kind of fallacious reasoning. And Martin Luther's book is not medieval philosophy.

We already had a whole thread on the quality of his philosophy, call it what you will. Anyone who believes in "substance" of any kind is a medieval philosopher no matter when they live(d). I stand by my statement.

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