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 Post subject: How does “Faith-alone” not turn into a mere psychology?
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2022 11:23 am 
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I suppose the same argument could be made for any argument over the treatment of human identity, and the human person.

What I mean to say, is how is any form of Salvation by Faith Alone anything more than a test of the human language between one person (the preacher or “prophet”), and another (the hearer, or reader?) I used to struggle quite a bit with the theology of the more “fundamentalist” sects, and I put that in quotes because from my current perspective, their theology wholeheartedly eschews the fundamentals of the Christian Faith, namely the Apostles and the Assembly, and the Incarnation (Not as concepts, but realty.)

I used to get troubled listening to and reading some of the more eloquent and, seemingly, knowledgeable Protestant preachers and theologians. Though I was never an academic myself, and because of that, I can’t understand the Greek or Hebrew. But now, and this is disrespectful as these men have dedicated their lives to this type of work (tho so have all men and women that attempted anything important, for better or worse), they all seem like word-smiths in competition with each other, like rappers at a rap battle.

Also, to the women on this board…if anything I wrote above makes sense to you, do you think much of this has to do with the innate differences between men and women?

God Alone!!!


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 Post subject: Re: How does “Faith-alone” not turn into a mere psychology?
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2022 4:23 pm 
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It can, and insofar as people become obsessed with getting all their theological i's dotted and t's crossed and pursue what I call a "cult of clarity" (stolen from a friend of mine), it can become just that. But a more traditional faith-alone gospel insists that, strictly, we aren't saved by faith at all, much less by faith alone. We're saved by grace, and this grace is accessed by faith alone.

In other words, it's the object of faith that saves, and the object of faith is Jesus Christ, and following Peter, that means the object of our faith is actually God.

So far from being mere psychology, it is actually theology in the most proper sense of the word.


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 Post subject: Re: How does “Faith-alone” not turn into a mere psychology?
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2022 5:32 pm 
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Ah, I was hoping you’d respond!

Saved by Grace alone through Faith alone…is the same thing. Or as one Christian (Protestant) politician put it, “We are what we believe.”

And yea, I absolutely am obsessive and me coming back to this forum might actually be a compulsion, it depends how I treat it moving forward (here I’m speaking with from a mental/spiritual health perspective.) Yet this forum, and you in particular, helped establish me in the Faith. So I feel some sort of obligation to re-engage.

We are bound to the Rock, which in my mind, is why we are part of the Assembly and the Kingdom. And yea, much of our differences are absolutely due to differences in Church Polity. When you’re part of the Catholic Church, you understand quickly that organizations, all organizations, rot from the top down. But again, we are bound to the Rock. And we continue to let the academics and clerics continue their disputes of the meaning of the Sensus Fidei:)

That being said, we are saved by Jesus Christ alone. Here I am not arguing semantics; but am speaking sacramentally, in light of Ephesians 5. Unless of course we wish to throw off the entire Old Testament as God playing a mind game with us, which anyone, of course, has the freedom to do.

EDIT: That phrase “cult of clarity,” bothers me. If you were to study the Saints a bit, you would know that eyes and ears come with a price.

EDIT 2: Touched up the punctuation and wording. It's harder to post clearly from my phone!


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 Post subject: Re: How does “Faith-alone” not turn into a mere psychology?
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2022 8:25 pm 
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I'm not sure I understand here. Grace comes first. It is Grace that allows us to have Faith.

The problem I see is the belief that salvation comes through Faith alone. In the Epistle of James, he (James) says that faith without works is dead. This is a refutation of the doctrine that Faith alone is enough.


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 Post subject: Re: How does “Faith-alone” not turn into a mere psychology?
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2022 12:12 pm 
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Vern Humphrey wrote:
I'm not sure I understand here. Grace comes first. It is Grace that allows us to have Faith.

The problem I see is the belief that salvation comes through Faith alone. In the Epistle of James, he (James) says that faith without works is dead. This is a refutation of the doctrine that Faith alone is enough.


This is why the Church has delineated different kinds of Grace. As these discussions go, we get into the weeds pretty quick. However the Sacraments communicate Sanctifying Grace, as the regular means of communication. Actual Graces, which are temporary in nature, predispose the soul to the reception of Sanctifying Grace. Both are unmerited; however since we are synergistic, we work with Him to increase Sanctifying Grace (favor, authority, power in the spiritual realm), as well as receive Actual Graces for us and others, so that we become more pleasing to Him (more Holy, I suppose.) In that sense Grace can be earned in as much the more we are like God, the more we are imbued with His Likeness. (James 5). The treasury of merit in regards to the Economy of Salvation.

The Blessed Virgin is sort of the lynchpin of this idea, I think. In that she was confirmed by an Angel of the Lord as “Full of Grace,” even though she was manufactured before hand to carry out her mission in the Divine Plan. Many are called, few are chosen…careful making that judgement for yourself, type of thing.


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 Post subject: Re: How does “Faith-alone” not turn into a mere psychology?
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 1:05 pm 
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Well I'm honored to have been a part of your spiritual journey, Nathan. In the end, all is of God, and you know me well enough to know I'm not being cliche in that. May He continue to move you.

Two thoughts came to mind as I read your words. Perhaps they're unnecessary, but I'd like to say something to clarify what my own words meant. First, as to obsessions, I wasn't thinking of you when I wrote that. I have in mind a particular group of people in my own faith-alone circles who I do regard as being obsessed with doctrinal clarity. For these people, they seem to approach the faith largely as getting their facts, their propositions right, so that faith in Christ just is giving assent to all the correct propositions. I see that as mere psychology on two levels. First, it's psychology in these that everything really is in the mind. And look, there's a place for the (renewing of) the mind. I just don't think that's the sum total of faith. And second, when you see the entirely or even bulk of the faith as mental assent, then spiritual transformation becomes little more than an exercise in cognitive therapy, and I do mean that fully as stated.

Anyway, I think it's probably a true principle that obsession with doctrinal clarity can turn faith into a psychological exercise. And perhaps that applies to other groups. But I really was intending my comments to the faith alone crowd I thought you were asking about.

The second thought has to do with the cult of clarity. Here I'll invoke C S Lewis. If the language or metaphor isn't helpful, by all means, feel free to get rid of it! But I'll offer why I find a lot of meaning in it. First, I'll grant that there is an essential truth that can be clearly understood of the gospel. If not, nothing is really preached and faith becomes at best a vague feeling of positive regard for a nebulous spiritual concept of salvation. I don't think that's biblical. But given that essential and clear truth, I also think the gospel is, in the end, ultimately a mystery. Our words are true as far as they go. But I think there comes a point we can't go further. As I said, it's not faith that saves, but grace. Faith stops where the meaning of our words are exhausted. But grace picks up infinitely from there. This isn't all that surprising to me, either. When I was a child, I believed my parents loved me unconditionally. I said as much. Having children of my own, I appreciate what those words mean in a way I simply could not before. There was a mystery to them I could not grasp, despite their basic and essential truth. Now there are many faith alone people that don't like this mystery. As a result, they are forever creating new things to believed, and these things atomize the faith in an entirely artificial way. They destroy the faith by separating it illicitly. And then they exclude people for disagreeing with them while exalting those who make their favorite distinctions. That's cultic behavior, imho. So there's some metaphorical truth to my language there and something I mean rather literally, too.

Anyway, I appreciate, I think, your larger concern. I appreciate taking things from a spiritual health perspective. That's closer to my heart than you might think. Ultimately, I think our faith IS embodied, incarnated if you will. It is practiced physically and not just held mentally. It is a lived expression of meaning and hope that orients every aspect of ourselves. It's truly beautiful and awe inspiring.

So I hope you keep coming back. I keep coming back, too! :-)


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 Post subject: Re: How does “Faith-alone” not turn into a mere psychology?
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 2:41 pm 
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theJack wrote:
Well I'm honored to have been a part of your spiritual journey, Nathan. In the end, all is of God, and you know me well enough to know I'm not being cliche in that. May He continue to move you.

Two thoughts came to mind as I read your words. Perhaps they're unnecessary, but I'd like to say something to clarify what my own words meant. First, as to obsessions, I wasn't thinking of you when I wrote that. I have in mind a particular group of people in my own faith-alone circles who I do regard as being obsessed with doctrinal clarity. For these people, they seem to approach the faith largely as getting their facts, their propositions right, so that faith in Christ just is giving assent to all the correct propositions. I see that as mere psychology on two levels. First, it's psychology in these that everything really is in the mind. And look, there's a place for the (renewing of) the mind. I just don't think that's the sum total of faith. And second, when you see the entirely or even bulk of the faith as mental assent, then spiritual transformation becomes little more than an exercise in cognitive therapy, and I do mean that fully as stated.

Anyway, I think it's probably a true principle that obsession with doctrinal clarity can turn faith into a psychological exercise. And perhaps that applies to other groups. But I really was intending my comments to the faith alone crowd I thought you were asking about.

The second thought has to do with the cult of clarity. Here I'll invoke C S Lewis. If the language or metaphor isn't helpful, by all means, feel free to get rid of it! But I'll offer why I find a lot of meaning in it. First, I'll grant that there is an essential truth that can be clearly understood of the gospel. If not, nothing is really preached and faith becomes at best a vague feeling of positive regard for a nebulous spiritual concept of salvation. I don't think that's biblical. But given that essential and clear truth, I also think the gospel is, in the end, ultimately a mystery. Our words are true as far as they go. But I think there comes a point we can't go further. As I said, it's not faith that saves, but grace. Faith stops where the meaning of our words are exhausted. But grace picks up infinitely from there. This isn't all that surprising to me, either. When I was a child, I believed my parents loved me unconditionally. I said as much. Having children of my own, I appreciate what those words mean in a way I simply could not before. There was a mystery to them I could not grasp, despite their basic and essential truth. Now there are many faith alone people that don't like this mystery. As a result, they are forever creating new things to believed, and these things atomize the faith in an entirely artificial way. They destroy the faith by separating it illicitly. And then they exclude people for disagreeing with them while exalting those who make their favorite distinctions. That's cultic behavior, imho. So there's some metaphorical truth to my language there and something I mean rather literally, too.

Anyway, I appreciate, I think, your larger concern. I appreciate taking things from a spiritual health perspective. That's closer to my heart than you might think. Ultimately, I think our faith IS embodied, incarnated if you will. It is practiced physically and not just held mentally. It is a lived expression of meaning and hope that orients every aspect of ourselves. It's truly beautiful and awe inspiring.

So I hope you keep coming back. I keep coming back, too! :-)


I think I actually agree with everything you wrote above. That Mystery: I suppose that's where the dialogue, debate, and then disagreements arrive. I also think that might be where the disagreement, then perhaps a somewhat bitter disappointment came in between the awesome friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. C.S. Lewis was close (High Anglican), but he couldn't (or perhaps his conscience wouldn't let him) enter into that space where Tolkien (Trad Catholic who would intentionally give the Latin responses after the Mass turned to the vernacular) was trying lead him.

Tolkien, however, was a better story teller and linguist, imho :D .

I got into a debate about scripture with my supervisor at work who is a pentacostal, but seems to mostly believe in Assurance of Salvation (I didn't grill him too hard, he's my boss after all:). He's an immigrant as well and seems mostly content with the new life he's been able to build for himself and his wife in the States, so, he seems free of the burden that this type of theological discourse still weighs on me personally. It isn't worth the stress for either of us to keep taking shots at each other, but sometimes we do, and when the fire dies down, our interaction subsides into good-natured humor, and Thank God for that!!!

In our last debate, shots were fired, and he started (whether he was conscious of it or not) "bull-baiting" me in regards to scripture. That's what I call it when a protestant puts out a verse that's connected to a longer passage that'll drive home the point their trying to make even further, should I look it up myself. Is that fair? Maybe not, maybe they're not even doing that at all, but I'm overly sensitive and tend to see it that way (I know I'm still being purged, that's for SURE!)

Anyways we were going back and forth and I eventually said "I as a Roman Catholic, am bound to the Rock." And now the corruption of language which the Holy Ghost is repairing until Christ comes again becomes starkly evident. I added some passages from my favorite exegete, Corneilus a' Lapide (Lapide, which from Latin can mean Stone, Gemstone, or Gravestone in English, I think... I really wish I had a handle on languages myself :D)

That ended that discussion. I'm still not Protestant and he's not Catholic.

The exchange reminded of an article from faithalone.org I read a while back (after hearing about the site from you). It was either on dispensationalism in Romans or the fealty of the "Roman's Road," but prolly a little bit of both. It was either by Hodges or Wilkin...I'll try and find the exact article later.

The author was speaking about Romans 6 and casually referred to the "baptism into death" as "spirit baptism." Immediately, I said to myself, "Wait, what!?" For me, I realized the entirety of what he was saying, from my point of view, rested on that casual definition he offered. For if Paul was speaking of Baptism as the Catholic Church defines it, everything this theologian said was wrong.

Now, with that (and whole libraries could be written on this, and indeed have.) I offer that which I have taken from that same exegete, Lapide.

From his commentary on John 3,

Quote:
Verse 3. Jesus answered, and said to him: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.—Amen, Amen. John on many occasions doubles the Amen, when the other evangelists have only one. Why? I answer 1. Because he had above the rest the most certain and most lofty revelations, and knew the deepest mysteries of the Deity. This was especially the case in his exile at Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, which has, says S. Jerome, as many mysteries as it has words. And after this he wrote his gospel when he was very old, and the sole survivor of all the Apostles. Therefore he was thenceforth the mouthpiece and oracle of the Church, the foundation and pillar of the Faith, the patriarch of patriarchs. He saith therefore, as it were with plenary authority, as it were the elder of elders, as the patriarch of the fathers, Amen, amen. It is as though he said, “I announce to you, with the utmost weight and confidence, things most lofty and sublime, which surpass all human understanding and belief, but which Christ nevertheless has revealed to me, which are therefore most certain, most true in themselves, and most salutary for you. For Christ really used this two-fold Amen, to indicate the seriousness, sublimity and certainty of what He said. But the other evangelists, studying conciseness, compressed the two amen’s of Christ into one: but I, John, because I, beyond the others, have weighed and penetrated both the words of Christ and their meaning, say, Amen, amen, as Christ Himself spoke.”

2. Because amen is the same as “verily”. S. John was delighted with the name of Truth. And this he calls Christ, because He was the Word, that is, “the Truth” of the Father; the truth, I say, both of speculative faith, and also of practical prudence and the exercise of the virtues.

3. Because Amen is either a noun signifying “the True One,” or else an adverb meaning “truly”. Hence you may interpret it thus: He who is the Amen, that is, Christ, whose name is True and the Truth, says this Amen, that is, in truth, or most truly. Thus it is said in Apocalypse 3:14, Thus saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness; Greek, ὁ Ἀµην, i.e., “He who is the Amen,” who is steadfast, true, constant, faithful; who is steadfastness itself, Truth itself, faithfulness itself. Amen, therefore, is an epithet, which S. John attributes to Christ. See commentary on Apocalypse 3:14 and 22:20, where I noted that some think that amen signifies the ninety-nine years which S. John lived.

4. Amen, amen, denotes the perfect truth and certainty of the matter and the things which are recorded by S. John. ‘The things which I say are most true and certain, more truth than any other truth, more certain than all other certainty.”

5. By Amen, amen, he intimates a two-fold manner of certainty, viz., that S. John knew the things which he wrote by means of a two-fold knowledge, natural and divine; that is, by experience and revelation. For with his eyes he saw these things, and with his ears he heard them, and by Christ’s revelation, when he lay upon His breast, he understood them. Therefore in his First Epistle he thus writes, Which we have seen, which we have heard . . . and our hands have handled . . . we declare unto you (1 John 1:1, 3).

Unless a man be born again. Note that John leaves us to gather from this answer that Nicodemus, either tacitly or expressly, asked Christ to teach him the way to the kingdom of heaven which He preached. For Christ answers by saying that baptism is the way to heaven.

Again. Greek, ἄνωθεν, which has a two-fold meaning. 1. “From above, from heaven,” meaning, “Except any one be born again by a heavenly and divine regeneration, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Thus Cyril and Theophylact. 2. ἄνωθεν signifies “again, a second time.” And it is plain that it is so to be understood here from the answer of Nicodemus, verse 4. So S. Chrysostom, Nonnus, Euthymius. The Syriac translates “from the beginning”, i.e., over again. And the meaning is, man has two births, one which is natural and carnal, whereby he is born in the flesh of father and mother, and so is brought forth a carnal man subject to Original Sin; therefore this birth makes a man liable, not to heaven, but to hell. In order therefore that a man may be freed from this sin contracted through his first birth, a second and spiritual birth must be experienced, by which he is born again in baptism of water and of the Spirit, and so is cleansed from sin and sanctified.

He cannot see the kingdom of God. See, that is, enjoy and possess it. This is the figure of speech metalepsis. Thus in Latin one says hereditatem cernere, literally, “to distinguish an inheritance,” that is, to enter into it, to possess and occupy it.

Verse 4. Nicodemus saith to him: How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born again? “He knew,” says S. Augustine, “of but one birth from Adam and Eve.” That is why Cyril adds, “Not understanding spiritual birth, nor thinking of anything beyond human affairs, he is forced to imagine the return of a man to a corporeal womb and a physical birth.”

Verse 5. Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Calvin, in order to detract from the effect of justification by baptism, and therefore from the necessity of baptism (for he maintains that the children of believers are justified in the womb simply because they are the children of believers), denies that baptism is here spoken of. He says that by water, not water is to be understood, but the Holy Ghost, who, through faith, cleanses like water those who believe in Christ. He interprets the verse as follows: unless a man be born again of water and (that is, of) the Holy Ghost. Thus he says it is similarly spoken in Matthew 3:11, He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire, i.e., with the Holy Spirit, who, like fire, shall inflame you with the love of God. So says Calvin. But all these things are absurd, convoluted, and wrong, and condemned by the Church as heretical.

For, in the first place, why does Christ here make mention of water, if not men, but only fishes, are born again of water? Why did He not say briefly and simply to Nicodemus, who was ignorant of Christian doctrines (whom He here catechises and instructs like a child), except any one be born again of the Holy Ghost?

2. Because in a similar way S. Paul, alluding to this conversation, (Titus 3:5), calls baptism the laver of regeneration. Therefore in baptism, a spiritual rebirth, we are born again by water and are made children of God, (Eph. 2:3).

3. If it be lawful with Calvin to twist this passage, then we may do the same with every other passage, and so pervert the whole of scripture. No clear precept will remain in it, not even the institution of baptism itself.

4. Calvin and his followers cannot possibly prove against the Anabaptists that infants, who lack the use of reason and faith, ought to be baptized, from any other passage of holy scripture but this. Therefore, since they do not allow of tradition, they must needs prove infant baptism from this passage, unless they are willing to confess themselves vanquished by the Anabaptists.

5. All the fathers and orthodox interpreters explain the passage in the same way as the Council of Trent (Sess. 7, Can. 2). Nor is it contradicted by Matthew 3:11, He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire. For there real fire is to be understood, as here true water. For that verse refers to Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire.

Very appropriately, moreover, was water designated by Christ in baptism for this spiritual regeneration. 1. Because water excellently represents inward regeneration. For out of water at the beginning of the world were the whole heavens and all other things born and produced, as I showed at Genesis 1:2-3. 2. Because moisture, such as is in water, is a chief agent in the production of offspring, as physicians teach. Again, because justification is a cleansing of the soul from the filth of sin it is well figured by water. Thus S. Thomas (Summa, III Part, q.66, a. 3). He adds: “By reason of its coolness, water tempers superfluous heat: wherefore it fittingly mitigates the concupiscence of the fomes [‘tinder’]. By reason of its transparency, it is susceptive of light; hence its adaptability to baptism as the sacrament of faith. 3. because it is suitable for the signification of the mysteries of Christ, by which we are justified. For, as Chrysostom says [hom. 25 in Joannis] on John 3:5, Unless a man be born again, etc., ‘When we dip our heads under the water as in a kind of tomb our old man is buried, and being submerged is hidden below, and thence he rises again renewed.’ 4. Because by being so universal and abundant, it is a matter suitable to our need of this sacrament: for it can easily be obtained everywhere.”

You may ask why Christ says, Unless a man be born of water and the Holy Ghost, and did not rather say, “of water and the form of baptism?” For water is the “matter” of baptism, but the “form” is, “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” For the sacrament of baptism consists of its “matter” and “form,” as its essential parts. I reply, because Christ wished to describe to Nicodemus, a prejudiced old man, the new teaching of spiritual life and generation, by means of the analogy and similitude of natural generation, in which a father and mother concur. So in like manner to spiritual regeneration, which takes place in baptism, water, as it were the mother concurs, and the Holy Ghost as the father. For He is the chief agent and producer of grace and holiness, by which the children of God are born again in baptism; just as in the generation of Christ, the Blessed Virgin was the mother, and the Holy Spirit took the place of the father, as it says, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy [One] which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Thus S. Chrysostom, Euthymius, Ammon and others.

From this passage S. Augustine (lib. 1 de Peccat. cap. 10) proves, against Pelagius, that infants are born in Original Sin. For that is the reason why they must be born again in baptism, that they may be cleansed from that sin. And he exposes the folly of the Pelagians, who, in order to elude the force of this passage, said that infants dying without baptism would enter into the kingdom of heaven and eternal life, but not into the kingdom of God; as if the kingdom of God were something different from the kingdom of heaven.

Lastly, born of water ought here to be understood either in actual fact, or by desire. For he who repents of his sins, and desires to be baptized, but either from want of water, or lack of a minister, is not able to receive it, is born again through (ex) the desire and wish for baptism. So the Council of Trent clearly explains this passage (sess. 7 can. 4 de Sacramentis in Genere).


Lapide is old-school and many Catholics who abide by this sort reading feel trapped or cast out in the current climate of the Church. As I said to my boss, so I say again to you, I am freely bound to the Rock.


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