Archive for the ‘Jay Dyer’ Category

Alternative Responses to Jay Dyer

January 19, 2011

A brother posted his response to Jay Dyer’s challenges to Calvinism (link to his response). Drake Shelton begins his response this way:

I was ashamed of Turretinfan’s responses to this so I decided to devote the past year and a half to these issues.

I’m always appreciative of assistance. Thanks, Drake! I still like my answers, but I always appreciate those who lend a helping hand.


Brief Responses to Jay Dyer

April 14, 2010

Jay Dyer has resurrected a few old jibes at his blog in two posts (first)(second).

In the first article he resurrects the assertion (which I already debunked) that Calvinists are Nestorians or “proto-Nestorians”:

Here, St. Athanasius rebukes the Proto-Nestorians and by extension, their modern day re-incarnation, the Calvinists. So, we now officially have five well-known Calvinists who have made pro-Nestorian statements: A.A. Hodge, R.J. Rushdoony, Eric Svendson, Turretinfan and John W. Robbins co-author, Sean Gerety.

Mr. Dyer is being a little misleading in presenting things this way. Speaking only for myself and A.A. Hodge, our comments were that Nestorius was false accused of holding Nestorianism. Jay’s comment suggests something else to the reader.

What about the substance of what Athanasius wrote? Is it opposed to Reformed theology? On the contrary, Athanasius properly distinguishes between the human and divine natures, even while affirming the unity of the person: “But the Word Himself offered His own Body on our behalf that our faith and hope might not be in man, but that we might have our faith in God the Word Himself.” And again: “For humanly He enquires where Lazarus is laid, but raises him up divinely.”

Athanasius even mentions the issue of the substitutionary atonement: “And it has been made plain to all that not for His own sake but for ours He underwent all things, that we by His sufferings might put on freedom from suffering and incorruption [1 Corinthians 15:53], and abide unto life eternal.” And again: “But in the same body in which He was when he washed their feet, He also carried up our sins to the Tree [1 Peter 2:24].”

The second article resurrects the assertion that Calvinists are Manicheans (which I already debunked). The second article primarily relies on Gregory of Nyssa. The bigger part of my response will have to wait for another time, where I will argue that although Gregory of Nyssa does not make reference to “original sin” as such (that term is one that has historically been more popular in the West, especially following Augustine), Gregory inconsistently affirms various of the aspects of it, namely those aspects that are the most clear from Scripture. The lesser part of the response (and an adequate response to the quotation provided from Gregory) is that like Gregory of Nyssa we oppose dualism of the kind that posits two distinct first causes: one good and one evil. Thus, we avoid the charge of Manicheanism or even any reasonable accusation of tendency thereto.


>Further Response to Dyer

March 16, 2009

>Dyer has produced a further response (link) and my response to him is below.

Dyer wrote: “1. Turretinfan is at it again, in an audio response to my audio response, found here. To begin with, he says I mischaracterize the reformed position according to Charles Hodge about Jesus suffering the wrath of God, which is not true. Charles Hodge most definitely held to this awful, anti-Trinitarian view. Turretinfan says I misquoted, because Hodge was simply laying out various views. On the contrary–it is most certainly his view.”

a) My objection was to the idea that Hodge held that Jesus had to spend an eternity in hell. That was not Hodge’s view, though Mr. Dyer made it sound like that.

b) Hodge, of course, held the perfectly orthodox view that Jesus suffered the wrath of God.

c) Mr. Dyer has not shown that this orthodox view is anti-trinitarian, nor (apparently) can he do so. We’ve given him several tries to do so, and all we can do is ask him again to try to set forth his demonstration.

Dyer wrote: “Hodge clearly says that the Father turned His favor from the Son for a period.”

I answer: ok

Dyer continued: “That is an undeniable division in the Trinity, if one accepts the orthodox view that Jesus is a divine Person.”

I answer: Why on earth should that be? Mr. Dyer just asserts this, but he in no way substantiates this.

Dyer continued: “Note that Hodge doesn’t want to go there, as its “vain to enquire.” Yes, it is, because its heretical.”

I answer: That’s just a silly argument from Hodge’s unwillingness to speculate.

Dyer continued: “For more examples of this heresy, Nick of Nick’s Catholic Blog has listed several quotes here.”

I answer: I’m actively debating “Nick” on the topic of the atonement, and so (in fairness to Nick) I’ll decline to address Nick’s quotations using this mechanism, as that might be viewed as trying to circumvent the word limits imposed on that debate. The debate will be over in a month or two, at which point I will be free to respond at greater length if need be.

Dyer again: “2. Turretinfan goes on to remark that St. Augustine had some things in common with Rome, but others in common with Protestantism. He implies its the same with St. Athanasius. This is not the case. I showed last year in this article that St. Augustine is thoroughly a Roman Catholic, and its not just “monasticism” as Turretinfan tries to say. St. Augustine was a Catholic Bishop. Consider his view of the papacy, as shown here.”

I answer:

a) I don’t know why it is so difficult for Mr. Dyer to accept that Athanasius and Augustine both had points of agreement with the Reformed church as well as points of agreement with his (Dyer’s) church. It’s like he wants to exclusively “own” the early church.

b) But, the early church cannot be “owned” by anyone. They are who they are, which was neither “Protestant” nor “Roman Catholic.” That’s why I continue to insist that it is improper to pick a few doctrines where a particular father is not “X” (whether “X” is Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Reformed) and then conclude that a particular father is consequently “Y” (where “Y” is whatever the person making the claim himself is). This is not only an absurd anachronism, it is a display of one’s ignorance of the full range of any particular father’s beliefs as expressed in writing.

c) Certainly, on particular doctrines, we can say that a particular father held to “the Roman position” or “the Reformed position,” but what I’m objecting to here is therefore concluding that they were “thoroughly” this or that, based on one or a few points of agreement.

d) Augustine’s view of the papacy was not the same as post-Vatican I Roman Catholicism’s view. This is the sort of undeniable historical truth that everyone who has seriously explored the topic has to agree. If Dyer is suggesting otherwise, and it sounds like he is, then he is either ignorant of the definition of papal infallibility in Vatican I, or ignorant of Augustine’s mode of thought.

Dyer continued: “Turretinfan says St. Athanasius had no view of papal authority as we do, yet he hasn’t read much of St. Athanasius, since had he done so, he would know St. Athanasius, an Eastern Patriarch, appealed to Rome to Pope St. Julius. for condemnation of Arius. All one has to do is read his Apologia Contra Arianos, which I have.”

I answer: The idea that Athanasius appealed to a bishop of Rome is an example of Athanasius not acting like a modern Reformed person. There is no doubt about that. But why has Dyer conveniently forgotten about Athanasius’ opposition to Pope Liberius, Julius’ successor? If one wants to deal honestly with Athanasius, one has to recognize that parts of Athanasius not only that agree with one’s theology, but that disagree with it as well. It seems that Dyer would prefer to remember only a part of Athanasius’ life and writings, but not the remainder of it.

Dyer wrote: “Yes, I am quoting a second-hand work, but I’ve read Contra Arioanos. Within, St. Athanasius reproduces the entire Arian contrversy, including the papal appeals. It can be read here. I’m willing to bet, however, Turretinfan has not read it. He’s sure, nevertheless, about the Christianity of Augustine and Athanasius’ day.”(errors in original)

I answer: The entire Arian controvery would span many volumes (with Athanasius’ “Against the Arians” providing a partial summary). If, however, Mr. Dyer can find one time where Athanasius claims that the doctrine of the Arians is wrong using the reasoning that (a) the pope says it is wrong, and (b) the pope is infallible, then I’ll be happy to revise my view of Athanasius. I’m sure I can give plain statements where Athanasius appealled to the infallibility of Scripture – does Dyer think that Athanasius appealed in as clear terms to anything else as infallible besides Scripture alone?

Dyer wrote: “3. Inregards to Jaroslav Pelikan, with whom Turretinfan is obviously unfamiliar, since he didn’t know he was the chief editor of Luther’s works and became Serbian Orthodox, I admit to not knowing the Serbian pronunciations of names (as he made fun of me for doing). And yes, Pelikan if of Serbian descent. However, Pelikan is world renowned as both a patristics scholar and asa textual scholar. I’ve read several of his books, and I highly recommend them, including others beyond his 5 volume set, such as his work on the Cappadocians, his book on textual traditions, and his book on Mary in history. I mean, seriously–we used Pelikan at Bahnsen Seminary.”

I answer: As with so many things, Dyer is wrong in assuming that I’m unfamiliar with Jaroslav Pelikan. There’s no doubt that he’s a famous historian – and it is for that he is known, not for being a great theologian. If you recall, however, Mr. Dyer cited him as a theologian in his original audio clip, and I took him to task for that. He may well have edited/translated one edition of Luther’s works (actually, an impressive 22-volume edition in English, if I recall correctly), but (of course) the primary editions of Luther’s works came out long before Pelikan was a twinkle in his father’s eye.

Dyer continued: “Turretinfan continues to say I do’t understand Nestorianism when what I mentioned was various possibilities for Nestorian outcomes. “

I answer: I think in his attempts to be polemical against Calvinism, Mr. Dyer brings a lot into the definition of Nestorianism beyond what Nestorianism actually is.

Dyer further stated: “There are different ways of being Nestorian, since Nestorius was not always clear, and even admitted a “hypostatic union,” yet always denied a single subject, as McGuckin explains.”

I answer: As I’ve pointed out numerous times already, Nestorius did not define Nestorianism, his theological opponents did. Trying to get Dyer to recognize this difference between Nestorius and Nestorianism seems to be as difficult as getting Amyraldians to recognize the difference between Calvin and Calvinism.

Dyer continued: “St. Cyril did not misunderstand Nestorius, and I have read selections of actual writings of Nestorius at”

I answer: It’s hard to say whether Cyril misunderstood Nestorius or whether Cyril knowingly misrepresented Nestorius. Nevertheless, it does not appear, on the historical record that we have before us, that Cyril accurately represented Nestorius in his characterization’s of Nestorius’ views. I’m not sure why Dyer is so set on defending Cyril on this point. Why not just admit that Cyril was fallible, and may have misunderstood Nestorius for a variety of reasons? Nestorius’ own words can be found (to a limited extent) on-line here (link).

Dyer continued: “I mentioned Pelikan on this because he quotes from Nestorian works.”

I answer: I only addressed the Pelikan issue because it seemed that Mr. Dyer wanted to consider him a theologian rather than an historian.


>Response to Jay Dyer’s Audio Remarks

March 15, 2009

>Mr. Dyer has provided an audio response (audiocorresponding page at Dyer’s blog) to several of the comments I have provided to his critique of Calvinism. For the bigger context, including my thirteen-part series defending Calvinism from his accusations, see my index of interactions with Mr. Dyer (link).

I’ve broken up the response into three parts, since it is around 30 minutes long (compared to about 50 minutes for Mr. Dyer’s audio response).

Part 1

In the series I challenge a number of significant assertions by Mr. Dyer. To put it very briefly, I think Mr. Dyer’s claims seem to hang on what he thinks are the logical consequences of Reformed doctrines, but it seems that Mr. Dyer has erred in understanding what the Reformed authors teach, at least some of the time.


Follow-Up Response to Jay Dyer

February 21, 2009


I have recently had the pleasure of going through an 11-point set of accusations against Calvinism by Mr. Jay Dyer. He has responded to several of the posts in my series and directed me to other posts that he has written that he thinks are relevant to the issues under discussion. The Jay Dyer Index provides a full set (at least I believe it is full) of the relevant posts in this interaction.

As one of the commenters on Mr. Dyer’s blog indicated, Mr. Dyer is not your average Romanist. This is true on several levels, but the most relevant levels are those connected to having an Eastern Orthodox background and being a “Byzantine Rite Catholic” these days, as well as previously having been associated with a Reformed church. More than that, Mr. Dyer has clearly spent a lot of time reading and studying the issues, and cites not only to the teachings of the Ecumenical Councils (though he pretty much sticks to the first seven – perhaps a hangover from his EO days) but also the some of the church fathers (particularly those of the East – perhaps another artifact of his journey).

These things place Mr. Dyer in somewhat of a unique position, which both makes reading his material interesting, but also reduces the value in addressing his position. That is to say, because his views are so unique, they are interesting, but a response to them is pretty much just a response to Mr. Dyer. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of Mr. Dyer’s accusations get repeated, especially by people who are simply looking for a cattle prod with which to zap Calvinists, even though they themselves do not understand Mr. Dyer’s methodology or arguments. In this respect (the desire to label Calvinism a heresy) I think Mr. Dyer is more creative than others, but not completely unique.

So, perhaps a further response is justified. After carefully reviewing all of the material that I’ve identified at the Index post linked above, I think I may have identified a number of core issues that are at the heart of Mr. Dyer’s criticisms of Calvinism. I will try, in this post, to identify those issues and provide a suitable response. Mr. Dyer’s postings have been voluminous, and I apologize in advance that I will not be providing specific citations to his comments in support of the items I identify. I do invite Mr. Dyer to provide a response (at his own blog) to this, in the event that he feels I have mischaracterized his position.

1. Luther Was Not a Calvinist/Systematic Theologian

Mr. Dyer in several places makes reference to Luther, as though Luther were a Calvinist and/or a Systematic Theologian. Neither of these is correct. Although Luther had many powerful insights, and though Luther did a lot to aid the awakening of Europe to the truth of the Scriptures, Luther was neither fully Calvinistic nor systematic.

2. Question in Responses to Accusations is Calvinism not Romanism

Mr. Dyer seemed to have the impression that my responses were directed to showing distinctives of Calvinism in contrast to Romanism. Although each of the responses had an “accusation redirected” section, those sections were the only ones dealing specifically with Romanism. Just because Rome presents a false gospel doesn’t mean that every aspect of Roman theology is necessarily wrong. There are certainly points of at least apparent formal agreement between Calvinism and Romanism, where Romanism embraces the truth. Thus, when (in my responses) I state the Calvinist position, this may or may not be accepted by Rome. That’s not the point: the point is that Calvinism’s position is the Scriptural position. If others agree, great.

3. Monergism Means God Alone Saves

A few times Mr. Dyer seemed to rely on a sort of play on words to suggest that monergism, the doctrine that God alone saves, is equivalent to monothelitism, the idea that Jesus had only one will. There’s no logical connection, however, just a verbal similarity. Mr. Dyer nowhere (that I could find) presents any good reason for making this jump, and this sort of analysis via play on words is not a valid criticism.

4. Paul Says It – We Believe It

In a couple of instances, Mr. Dyer seemed to take issue with the fact that I quoted Paul. For example, Paul says

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:


Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Mr. Dyer seems to treat my quotation of these passages as implying what he perceives to be a Manichean view of God. If so, however, Mr. Dyer’s issue is not really with me, but with Paul.

In fairness, I should point out that Mr. Dyer does elsewhere rely on things that Paul says, so Mr. Dyer is just being obtuse or inconsistent here. What Mr. Dyer doesn’t do, however, is get beyond a reaction to expressions like “sinful flesh” and “by nature the children of wrath” to explain what he believes Paul means, and how he think that what Paul is saying differs from what Calvinists believe. In other words, the combination of exegesis and application isn’t there on these texts.

5. Atonement Issues

Mr. Dyer seems to have a number of issues relating to the atonement. In Mr. Dyer’s criticisms of the Calvinist position, the issues connected to the atoning work of Christ on the cross arise repeatedly. Nevertheless, it is not clear whether Mr. Dyer himself has a clear understanding both of the necessity and manner of Christ’s atoning work. For Mr. Dyer, the emphasis seems to be (as with remaining writings of a few of the Early Church Fathers) more on the incarnation itself than on the atonement. There does not seem to be a “sacrifice for sin” concept present in his explanations regarding the saving work of Christ. This is an unfortunate gap in Mr. Dyer’s theology, and may be one of the sources of his objections, though it is not made explicit in his critiques.

5a. In the Atonement, the Trinity Had One Purpose

Mr. Dyer repeatedly makes the claim that (in effect) if Jesus suffered the wrath of God on the cross for the sins of the elect, this implies that Jesus’ divine will was somehow separate from the Father’s divine will. There is, however, no logical link. Christ suffered the cross and the wrath of God voluntarily. Not only was there no disunion in the divine will over this, the Son and the Father were of one purpose, will, and intention in the cross. Christ’s human will was made subservient and obedient to the divine will, which is one reason we can refer to the death of Christ as the “passive obedience” of Christ (though that label is not the most useful).

In short, there is no merit to the claim that the Calvinist view of the atonement implies a severance of the divine will. Mr. Dyer appears simply to assert this, and does not provide a supporting argument or explanation to back it up (although he makes a vague reference to “legal imputation”). There’s no logical reason why Jesus would have to have a different will in order to experience the wrath of God on the cross on our (the elect’s) behalf, nor for legal imputation to take place. Quite to the contrary, it is the unity of the divine will that is important to show that Jesus’ death for our sins was not unjust, since he voluntarily offered himself on our behalf.

5b. Invalid Appeal to Perichoresis – Confusion of Persons

Mr. Dyer further objects to the Calvinistic doctrine of the atonement based on reference to perichoresis: the eternal mutual indwelling of the persons of the Trinity. It seems as though rather than properly affirming the relationship of the persons of the trinity, in trying to criticize Calvinism Mr. Dyer is flirting with Sabellianism, as though there were no distinction between the persons (though, of course, Mr. Dyer is not a modalist).

Mr. Dyer appears to believe that the Calvinistic view of the atonement necessarily involves a termination of perichoresis, but he provides no real argument in support of this contention. Mr. Dyer frequently refers to the expression “cut off” but the Calvinistic position is not that the Son was removed from the Trinity, but that he was crucified, died, and was buried – and continued under the power of death for a time.

6. Relation of Human Nature to Salvation

Another central problem that seems to crop up is the relation of human nature to salvation. Mr. Dyer seems to have a confused idea (or at least his comments are confused or confusing) about the way in which human nature relates to salvation. It is people (individual people) that are saved, not “human nature” as such. Salvation is about turning away the judgment of God from individual people, which people are consequently referred to as “saved.”

There is an important relation of human nature to salvation, and this was highlighted in Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo. The basic issue is that it was necessary that a human being be punished for sin. The blood of bulls and goats was insufficient. Furthermore, that human being had to be undeserving of the punishment himself. Finally, the human being had to be of such great personal dignity as to, by his death, satisfy justice for all those whom God wished to save. Thus, Jesus took on human nature: that is to say, he became a man, even while still being God. Thus, he was and is, God and man, in two distinct natures and one person, as he will be forever.

6a. By Nature, Children of Wrath

The fall brought about a change in mankind, such that all men under Adam’s headship are, by nature, depraved in their spiritual faculties, so that they love darkness rather than light. They are, as Paul describes it, by nature children of wrath. This is the natural state of man, after the fall. One thing that saving grace does is, in regeneration, that it begins to restore the spiritual faculties of man. Man begins to love God rather than hating him. This is a restoration of man’s nature. The restoration begins in and continues in sanctification. In glorification (upon death or translation), the restoration is complete, and (one might say) gloried man is better off than Adam was before the fall, since the glorified man will not sin.

It is unclear from Mr. Dyer’s remarks whether he simply does not understand these Scriptural doctrines, or whether he objects to them. For example, Mr. Dyer alleges that Calvinism teaches that “nature” is inherently evil. This is misleading at best. Fallen human nature is depraved, but not human nature in the abstract.

Mr. Dyer seems to treat human nature as though it were a thing. Such that (in his view) when we say that in the fall human nature became depraved, we are referring to this “thing” of human nature being corrupted, as opposed to the manifestation of the concept being corrupted (as is the actual position). If we meant what Mr. Dyer said, the idea of human nature being restored wouldn’t make much sense – the concept of the restoration of human nature, in an individual, only makes sense from the standpoint of a concept of human nature with individual corrupt manifestations, rather than from the standpoint of a “thing” that stands alone.

6b. Christ’s Human Nature Not Corrupted

There are a number of odd things that Mr. Dyer suggests regarding Christ’s human nature. For example, Dyer asserts that Christ assumed “universal human nature.” While this is not necessarily wrong, Mr. Dyer emphasizes “universal” to the point of apparently suggesting that the manifestation of human nature in individual people cannot suffer the effects of the fall in terms of depravity, or that if it does, then Jesus two must necessarily similarly be depraved to be truly human.

This is nonsensical for two reasons. First, Mr. Dyer himself realizes that Jesus did not have original sin (which all men after the fall have at birth, save Christ alone) or concupiscence (proclivity to sin). This is one way in which Jesus is just like the rest of humanity, but without experiencing the spiritual effects of the fall.

A second reason that this is nonsensical is Mr. Dyer’s recognition that grace alters nature. That is to say, Mr. Dyer appears to recognize that God’s grace can transform the nature of a man. Mr. Dyer even refers to deification/divinization which – at least to a degree – relates to this concept. If, however, any improvement in nature rendered the person outside of humanity, then we would cease to be human if we experienced grace. This, however, is an absurd outcome.

Consequently Mr. Dyer’s allegation is demonstrably false. Jesus can take on human nature in a pure form, without the depravity introduced in Adam’s heirs by the fall, while still being as truly human as Adam was before the fall.

6c. Jesus Was Raised For of Our Justification

Mr. Dyer seems to suggest that Jesus’ nature inherently needed to die and be “raised/deified.” This is a very strange claim. Jesus’ death was for our sins. Jesus did not die because it was intrinsic to his human nature, but because the wages of sin are death. Jesus was raised by the Father because our righteousness had been accomplished and the Father was satisfied with the work of Christ.

Jesus’ humanity was not itself deserving of death. He took our sins upon himself. Thus, from his birth he suffered (though he did not deserve to suffer), he was humbled (though he deserved to be exalted), and he was eventually cruelly killed (though he deserved life). These things he did to satisfy God’s justice and liberate us from the deserved judgment for our sins.

7. Confusion of Nature and Person

One accusation that Mr. Dyer makes is that Calvinism confuses nature and person. Actually, though, it appears that the shoe is on the other foot. Mr. Dyer himself seems to confuse person and nature, or at least to confuse the relation of nature to person.

In particular, Mr. Dyer doesn’t seem to appreciate that certain things that Christ did, he did “as man” or “with respect to his humanity.” This is simply a necessary consequence of the fact that humanity can do some things that divinity cannot. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. In contrast, man is body and soul, he is finite, he had a beginning, and he can change.

This is actually an important issue, particular with respect to responding to the errors of Islam. Muslims seem to make a similar in respect to the Incarnation. They will make comments to the effect that when Jesus relieved himself, are we claiming that God was sitting on the toilet?

The answer to be given to these sorts of objections, as well as to Mr. Dyer’s objections, is that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. Nevertheless, Jesus was omniscient and eternal in his divinity, not in his humanity. Jesus’ humanity had a beginning and Jesus’ humanity changed. Jesus was born as a baby, and he grew in stature over time. God (as divine) was never a baby and never grows. Jesus, as man, was hungry and thirsty. As God, Jesus did not need anything.

Many more examples could be given. The point, however, is that although Jesus had two natures, not everything about each nature is communicable to the other nature. Thus, Jesus was conceived in his humanity, not in (or as to) his divinity. Jesus is eternally divine. Before Abraham was, Jesus was the I AM. Jesus created the world and all that is in it. But Jesus condescended to take on human nature: he became a man.

The fact that there are incommunicable aspects of Jesus’ humanity does not convert Jesus’ human nature into a separate person. Mr. Dyer, however, seems to think that it would – and seems to assert that it would, without providing any supporting reasoning or argumentation to demonstrate it.


I hope that this post answers all (or virtually all) of the points that Mr. Dyer has raised in response to my series. I trust that I have fairly characterized his criticisms, but welcome his comments (via his own blog) if I have mischaracterized them. Calvinism doesn’t fall into (or logically lead to) any errors with respect to the Trinitarian relationship or the person of Jesus Christ. The reason that it does not is that it is a system of theology properly derived from Scripture, and Scripture is an infallible rule of faith (the only one we have today).


Jay Dyer Index

February 19, 2009

This is an index post for my interactions with Mr. Jay Dyer. So far, we have only one set of interactions (based on a single initial post of his), thus there are no categories yet, except those that fall out naturally from the nature of the discussion.

Jay Dyer’s Initial Post.

My Initial Responses to Jay Dyer’s Post
Intro to My Response to Jay’s Post
My Response to Part 1 of Jay’s Post (Nestorian Accusation)
My Response to Part 2 of Jay’s Post (Manichean Accusation)
My Response to Part 3 of Jay’s Post (Monothelitism Accusation)
My Response to Part 4 of Jay’s Post (Tri-Theism Accusation)
My Response to Part 5 of Jay’s Post (Gnosticism/Iconoclasm Accusation)
My Response to Part 6 of Jay’s Post (Paganism Accusation)
My Response to Part 7 of Jay’s Post (Pelagianism Accusation)
My Response to Part 8 of Jay’s Post (Ecclesiastical Relativism Accusation)
My Response to Part 9 of Jay’s Post (Un-deification Accusation)
My Response to Part 10 of Jay’s Post (Liberal Higher Critic Accusation)
My Response to Part 11 of Jay’s Post (Agnosticism Accusation)
Conclusion to My Response to Jay’s Post

Jay Dyer’s Video Responses
Jay’s Video Remarks Part 1
Jay’s Video Remarks Part 2
Jay’s Video Remarks Part 3

Jay Dyer’s Written Responses
Jay’s Rebuttal With Respect to Nestorianism Accusation
(Related Post by Dyer, Identified as relevant)
Jay’s Posting of Athanasius against the “Nestorian-Calvinists”
Jay’s Rebuttal With Respect to Manichean Accusation
“Replies to the Calvinists on Fallen Nature”
Jay’s Rebuttal With Respect to Monothelitism Accusation
Jay’s Rebuttal With Respect to Tritheism Accusation
Jay’s Rebuttal With Respect to Gnostiticism/Iconoclasm Accusation
Jay’s Rebuttal With Respect to Arianism/Paganism Accusation

Peanut Gallery (meant in the kindest way)
Comments from Michael Burgess on the Monothelite Accusation
Remarks on the Discussion – and a loaded question – from Perry Robinson
Piling On the Accusation of Pelagianism – from Perry Robinson
(Response to Perry from Nathanael Taylor)
(Initial Response to Perry from Steve Hays)
(Full Response to Perry from Steve Hays)
(Mark at the Bellarmine Theological Forum asks Mr. Robert Sungenis to Give the Dialog Coverage)
(Matthew Bellisario Claims that Dyer has Refuted me, referencing the audio from Mr. Dyer below)

General Response to Jay Dyer’s Rebuttals
Follow-Up Response of February 21, 2009

Further Informal Dialog
Hodge and Alleged Reformed Denial of Nature/Grace Distinction (already addressed both in my original series (which included a quotation from Hodge on the very issue) and in my General Response at point 6a, where we discuss Mr. Dyer’s treatment of nature as a thing)

Further Audio Response (around 51 minutes long) from Jay Dyer (link to post)(direct link to audio).

My Response to Mr. Dyer’s Audio commentary (link).


Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 13 of 13)

February 18, 2009

This is part 13 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).

Throughout the series, we have seen the Calvinist position explained with respect to each of the eleven accusations leveled against Calvinism, we have seen the accusation refuted in most cases (the exception being labeling us, like Moses and Gideon, as iconoclasts), and we have seen that generally the accusations lead to greater headaches for those within Catholicism.

It should be clear that the headaches for Catholicism are not strictly speaking either an inversion of the accusation (just because, for example, there was a Monothelite pope doesn’t make modern Catholicism consist of Monothelitism) nor are they themselves a rebuttal of the accusations (just because Catholicism has some ideas that are similar to those of the Gnostics doesn’t – as a matter of logic – tell us whether Calvinists similarly err).

I hope that I have steered clear of making the same indefensibly inflammatory comments that I have been correcting with this series. That is to say, I hope I have not only demonstrated that Mr. Dyer’s comments were inflammatory and indefensible, but I hope that in the process of redirecting those accusations, I have limited myself to legitimate critiques of Catholicism, Mr. Dyer’s present affiliation.

For me the bottom line is that the Doctrines of Grace, a soteriology of monergism, as summarized against the Remonstrant errors with the acronym TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints), is what the Bible teaches about salvation. It leads to the position of “compatibilism” namely that God is sovereign in ordaining everything that comes to pass even while man is responsible for what he does. Calvinism is not and does not lead to heresies, precisely because it has been properly derived from Scripture.

After all, that is the one way in which we may avoid error: careful, prayerful consideration and examination of the Bible. Careful consideration of the Bible can include asking our fellow believers for their thoughts and going to commentators (including folks like John Calvin, John Owen, and Francis Turretin) that are steeped in the Word of God. Those writings of our fellow men, however, must always be placed beneath Scripture, since they are fallible, but the Word of the LORD is infallible.

Thus, in conclusion, Calvinism is orthodox because Calvinism is Scriptural. The measuring stick of Scripture is the umpire that shows whether John Calvin or Benedict XVI is the false teacher on any given doctrine.

As Gregory of Nyssa (circa A.D. 335–395) said: “Let the inspired Scripture, then, be our umpire, and the vote of truth will surely be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words.” It is my hope that the preceding series of responses have demonstrated to you, the reader, that the vote of truth with respect to each of the issues presented is to be given to the dogmas of Calvinism because of their agreement with, and derivation from, the Holy Scriptures.


Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 12 of 13)

February 16, 2009

This is part 12 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).

Jay Dyer says:

11) [A consistent Calvinist must be] An agnostic, in that human reason is so damaged by the fall and total depravity, it cannot accurately reason about God and ever attain certainty.

I answer:

a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)

Scripture has been given so that we may know God and believe on the Son of God (John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.). Through faith we understand the things that Scripture teaches (Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.). The unregenerate man’s faculties are hopelessly ruined in the fall (Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?) Thus, Jesus spoke of the unregenerate Jewish leaders as “blind guides” (Matthew 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.). Indeed Jesus went so far as to say that without regeneration one cannot see the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.)

b) The Accusation Disputed

Agnosticism is a lack of belief in the existence of God. No consistent Calvinist can be an agnostic, since faith in Christ is a central tenet of Calvinism.

Calvinism denies that unregenerate man comes to God of his own abilities, rejecting this Pelagian error in favor of the Scriptural teaching that God changes the hearts of men and opens their spiritual minds to see the truth. However, in regeneration, there is a restoration of the spiritual faculties of man: this is variously described as giving site to the blind, making the lame walk, curing the leper, and raising the dead to life. Jesus performed physical miracles in illustration of these principles, and each of these physical miracles Jesus performed pointed to the spiritual work that the Holy Spirit does.

Thus, Calvinism consistently affirms the total depravity of man and denies that unregenerate man can come to know God, even though God can be clearly seen:

Romans 1:19-20
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

c) The Accusation Redirected

Of course, Catholicism is not inherently an agnostic religion: it does acknowledge the fact that God exists. Practically speaking, however, Catholicism tries to instill a lack of confidence in people, in their ability to read and understand the Bible (even though, the Bible itself teaches otherwise). They suggest this for one obvious reason: if people weigh each doctrine of Catholicism in the scales of Scripture many doctrines (papal infallibility, the immaculate conception of Mary, Purgatory, etc. etc.) fall short and are seen to be unbiblical and even anti-Biblical.

Furthermore, the teachings of Catholicism, while not formally imbuing agnosticism do lead one to distrust human senses/reasoning (whether or not this related to the fall), not only for the unregenerate but for all men. Thus, the founder of the so-called Society of Jesus, Ignatius Loyola, stated: “I will believe that the white that I see is black if the hierarchical Church so defines it.” The only path to certainty is apparently the definition of “the hierarchical Church.” But such certainty is not obtained by reasoning, and really cannot be. Thus, if Calvinists were guilty for the reasons Dyer alleges (which, of course, they are not) then those in Catholicism would be similarly guilty, if they followed in the footsteps of Ignatius Loyola.

As you must already know, the difference is that Calvinism places faith in the Bible (the written and unchanging Word of God), whereas Catholicism places faith in Rome (that they allege is the true Church of God, but which has abandoned the true gospel). That may seem harsh because those in Catholicism claim to believe the Bible. On the other hand, they have the order of authority reversed, so that they will simply accept whatever teaching Rome gives (even when it is contrary to the plain sense of Scripture) and understand the Bible in light of that teaching, rather than the other way around – accepting only those teachings that jive with Scripture.


Continue to Part 13

Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 11 of 13)

February 16, 2009

This is part 11 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).

Jay Dyer says:

10) [A consistent Calvinist must be] A liberal higher critic, since Luther can slice up the canon, it follows so might anyone.

I answer:

a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)

Virtually all Calvinists hold to the same 66 book canon of Scripture (see Belgic Confession Article 4, Westminster Confession of Faith 1:2, London Baptist Confession of Faith 1:2, and Savoy Declaration 1:2). The canon of Scripture is just a list of the inspired books (2 Timothy 3:16-17 “16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”).

The Calvinist position is well expressed by the Formula Consensus Helvetica (1675), which states, in its first two canons:

Canon 1: God, the Supreme Judge, not only took care to have his word, which is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believes” (Rom 1:16), committed to writing by Moses, the Prophets and the Apostles, but has also watched and cherished it with paternal care from the time it was written up to the present, so that it could not be corrupted by craft of Satan or fraud of man. Therefore the Church justly ascribes to it his singular grace and goodness that she has, and will have to the end of the world (2 Pet 1:19), a “sure word of prophecy” and “Holy Scriptures” (2 Tim 3:15), from which though heaven and earth pass away, “the smallest letter or the least stroke of a pen will not disappear by any means” (Matt 5:18).

Canon II: But, in particular, The Hebrew original of the OT which we have received and to this day do retain as handed down by the Hebrew Church, “who had been given the oracles of God” (Rom 3:2), is, not only in its consonants, but in its vowels either the vowel points themselves, or at least the power of the points not only in its matter, but in its words, inspired by God. It thus forms, together with the Original of the NT the sole and complete rule of our faith and practice; and to its standard, as to a Lydian stone, all extant versions, eastern or western, ought to be applied, and wherever they differ, be conformed.

b) The Accusation Disputed

In fact, Luther did not “carve up the canon.” James Swan has provided a great paper on this subject (link) plus a three-part response to criticism (part 1)(part 2)(part 3). And, of course, Calvinists are not Lutherans.

Furthermore, as discussed above, Calvinists accept Scripture because of its divine authorship. Thus, consistent Calvinists do not feel free to discard books that are inspired or to accept additional books (such as the so-called “Deutero-canonical” book) that are not inspired. Even when Calvinists believe the legend that Luther removed one or more books from the canon, consistent Calvinists reject such action as inappropriate.

The term “Higher Criticism” has been used various ways. One definition I found is

“HIGHER CRITICISM” is a phrase used to express all investigations respecting the genuineness, authenticity, and integrity of ancient literary works especially the various books of the Bible.

(The Higher Criticism, Introduction, Charles Wesley Rishell)

Arguably, some form of higher criticism is the apologist’s role in defending the genuineness, authenticity, and integrity of the various books of the Bible. Although the ultimate answer for why we accept the books of the Bible as genuine and authentic is the persuasion of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit uses means, including (in some instances) historical evidences.

I think that by “liberal higher critic” Dyer probably meant to refer to those who approach “higher criticism” from the standpoint of extreme skepticism (doubting everything in the extreme way that, for example, Bart Ehrman does) or from the standpoint of pure naturalism (that is to say, treating Scripture as being purely the product of human composition). For the reasons stated above, the consistent Calvinist cannot accept either of these forms of higher criticism.

c) The Accusation Redirected

Modern Catholicism’s view of the canon is one that is based on determining which books were received by “the Church.” Thus, Trent declares: “And it has thought it meet that a list of the sacred books be inserted in this decree, lest a doubt may arise in any one’s mind, which are the books that are received by this Synod.” (4th Session) Although one might think that this sort of magisterial announcement might at least prevent Catholicisms adherents from carving out a canon of their own.

James Swan had discussed this issue earlier when Gary Michuta (an apologist for Catholicism) had argued that Trent did not reject the Septuagint book of 1 Esdras by not including it in the list (link). This would seem to suggest that further carving out (or carving in) of 1 Esdras is still possible in Catholicism, if Michuta is correct (which itself seems unlikely).

Perhaps of greater interest is the fact that Trent went beyond merely identifying the canonical books. Trent also declared:

But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema. Let all, therefore, understand, in what order, and in what manner, the said Synod, after having laid the foundation of the Confession of faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and authorities it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the Church.

(4th Session) (emphasis added)

Note that Trent identifies the “old Latin Vulgate” as the authentic version, even as to “its parts.” There are two things that must be kept in mind: (1) the “old Latin Vulgate” was not an edition of the Vulgate then in existence. Pope Sixtus V was given the task of preparing the “official” version of the Latin Vulgate, but he failed. His version was so riddled with errors that his successor, at Bellarmine’s suggestion, withdrew all copies of the original Sixtus V translation and issued a new edition in which there was an attempt to correct the errors of the Sixtus V translation. This edition (called the “Celementine Vulgate” after pope Clement VIII who promulgated it) includes the famous “Johannine Comma.” If the Sixtus V translation, even as edited by Clement VIII, must be accepted as to “its parts” then it would seem that it would be a violation of the teachings of Trent for people in Catholicism to deny the authenticity of the Johannine.

Of course, that does not stop the modern textual critics with Catholicism. The Nova Vulgata, promulgated by pope John Paul II, omits the Johannine Comma. It also makes numerous other changes to the text.

Thus, although Catholicism in Trent would appear to eliminate the possibility of higher criticism, in the sense of accepting additional books or not accepting listed books, certain prominent apologists for Catholicism do not feel so limited. Likewise, although Catholicism in Trent would appear to be locked into a particular edition (or at least into the Latin textual tradition), modern Catholicism seems willing to revise the text in accordance with modern textual critical theories and resort to the original languages, rather than reliance on the Latin textual tradition.

Pope Leo XIII (in 1893) put it this way:

Hence it is most proper that Professors of Sacred Scripture and theologians should master those tongues in which the sacred Books were originally written; and it would be well that Church students also should cultivate them, more especially those who aspire to academic degrees. And endeavours should be made to establish in all academic institutions – as has already been laudably done in many – chairs of the other ancient languages, especially the Semitic, and of subjects connected therewith, for the benefit principally of those who are intended to profess sacred literature. These latter, with a similar object in view, should make themselves well and thoroughly acquainted with the art of true criticism. There has arisen, to the great detriment of religion, an inept method, dignified by the name of the “higher criticism,” which pretends to judge of the origin, integrity and authority of each Book from internal indications alone. It is clear, on the other hand, that in historical questions, such as the origin and the handing down of writings, the witness of history is of primary importance, and that historical investigation should be made with the utmost care; and that in this matter internal evidence is seldom of great value, except as confirmation. To look upon it in any other light will be to open the door to many evil consequences. It will make the enemies of religion much more bold and confident in attacking and mangling the Sacred Books; and this vaunted “higher criticism” will resolve itself into the reflection of the bias and the prejudice of the critics. It will not throw on the Scripture the light which is sought, or prove of any advantage to doctrine; it will only give rise to disagreement and dissension, those sure notes of error, which the critics in question so plentifully exhibit in their own persons; and seeing that most of them are tainted with false philosophy and rationalism, it must lead to the elimination from the sacred writings of all prophecy and miracle, and of everything else that is outside the natural order.

(Providentissimus Deus, Section 17)


Continue to Part 12

Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 10 of 13)

February 13, 2009

This is part 10 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).

Jay Dyer says:

9) “[A consistent Calvinist must be] Un-deified, since the Logos’ holy Flesh is not your food, because there was no true henotic union.”

I answer:

a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)

We do eat Christ’s flesh and drink his blood, not in a grotesque, cannibalistic and literally physical sense, but spiritually.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Indeed, eating and drinking Christ can be Scripturally said to be necessary for salvation:

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

Of course, Jesus does not mean, in John 6:53, physical life but spiritual life. After all, the physical eating of the sacrifices was done under the shadows and types of the Old Testament administration:

1 Corinthians 10:18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

The Israelites ate the physical flesh of the sacrifices that were sacrificed on the altar. Through those physical signs, the spiritual reality of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross was depicted.

Christians are united by faith with Christ. This is accomplished by the death of Christ, who reconciled us to God, and purchased for us the adoption of sons and as well through the work of the Holy Spirit applying the benefits of Christ’s death to us. Thus, we have become the children of God by adoption. Thus, we are become through the love of God, the sons of God. Thus, in the words of the Psalmist:

Psalm 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

This is a harmonious union between Christ and the church (all believers), which is likened to the union of love between husband and wife (see, for example, Ephesians 5:25).

b) The Accusation Disputed

The concept of “deification” (in Roman Catholicism – sometimes also called “divinization”) or the related concept of “theosis” (in Eastern Orthodoxy) is an easily misunderstood topic, and it is hard to locate good explanations of this concept from modern Catholicism (the Eastern Orthodox explanations seem to generally equate theosis with salvation).

One Roman Cardinal stated: “above all, keep in mind that the words with which Saint Paul described his prodigious deification: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20) can be applied to each and every Christian.” Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos (May 15, 2000). Likewise, a joint commission for dialog with Eastern Orthodoxy, defined the Roman position as “The soteriological meaning of the faith: every expression of the faith should envision the human being’s final destiny, as a child of God by grace, in his or her deification (theosis) through victory over death and in the transfiguration of creation.”

Pope John Paul II stated:

The Spirit of the Lord not only destroys sin, but also accomplishes the sanctification and divinization of man. “God chose” us, St Paul says, “from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thes 2:13).

Let us look more closely at what this “sanctification-divinization” consists of.

The Holy Spirit is “Person-Love; he is Person-Gift” (Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 10). This love given by the Father, received and reciprocated by the Son, is communicated to the one redeemed, who thus becomes a “new man” (Eph 4:24), a “new creation” (Gal 6:15). We Christians are not only purified from sin, but are also reborn and sanctified. We receive a new life, since we have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pt 1:4); we are “called children of God; and so we are!” (1 Jn 3:1). It is the life of grace: the free gift by which God makes us partakers of his Trinitarian life.

(General Audience, July 22, 1998)

With these expressions in mind (and keeping in mind that these may be very inadequate explanations of the entire concept intended by the term “deification”), a claim that someone is “un-deified” is really (at its heart) a claim that they do not have faith and/or the new birth: that they are not a Christian. No consistent Calvinist, of course, could be an unbeliever or an unregenerate person. (That is not to say that every person who calls himself a Calvinist is saved, and no one should place their hope in the fact that they label themselves a “Calvinist” or know what “TULIP” stands for.)

Furthermore, the grant of new life – the regeneration of man – is an important concept in Calvinistic soteriology. Regeneration produces a change in man’s heart, opening his spiritual eyes to the truth of the gospel, so that a man sees and believes to the saving of his soul. This renovation of man’s spiritual faculties is one way in which man is given life by God, and the eternal life that comes from being justified in God’s sight is another way in which God gives us life. He provides and sustains the believer. This too is central to the Calvinistic tenet of perseverance of the saints. So, not only could no consistent Calvinist be an unbeliever, no consistent Calvinist could reject the idea of God giving life to believers.

The label “deification” itself, however, is problematic. Christians will immediately recall the temptation that Satan gave to Eve:

Genesis 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Man’s desire to be a god (or to be equal to God) is one of the most alluring aspects of many false religions, from the very beginning. Thus, great caution should be exercised with respect to those who suggest that through union with Christ we become “deified.” That is not to say that every such label is automatically wrong. Recall Jesus’ words:

John 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken …

Nevertheless, Paul explained that this cannot contradict the central Christian tenet of Monotheism:

1 Corinthians 8:5-6
5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

So, even while such respectable theologians as Augustine (“We mustn’t find it incredible, brothers and sisters, that human beings become gods, that is, that those who were human beings become gods.” – Sermon 23B, Section 1) and Athanasius (“For the Son of God became man, that we might become God.” De Inc. 54:3 as quoted in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”) may use this terminology, we would do well to be more gaurded, particularly in view of the error of some (especially Mormons) to take such statements in a very literal way.

The term “henotic union” is not a standard term. I’m not sure if Dyer really means to use that expression (although he uses it several times on his website) or whether he is trying to use the expression “hypostatic union.” The hypostatic union is the true doctrine that Jesus is both truly man and truly God.

One reason to guess that Dyer means “hypostatic union” is that He makes the comment that I (TurretinFan) have “written what [TurretinFan] perceives to be a response to the accusation I made that Calvinists are Nestorians, in that they end up denying the henotic [sic] union.” (source) Of course, Nestorianism is normally defined as a denial of the hypostatic union (see response to Nestorian accusation).

In any event, the term “henotic” means irenic or harmony-promoting. An “henotic union” would, grammatically speaking, seem to be a union that promotes harmony. The union between Christ and the elect is the most harmonious union imaginable between Creator and creature. Indeed, Calvinism – as a central aspect – promotes the concept of God’s special abounding love for the elect, which is the basis of Christ’s sacrificial death on their behalf. Thus, no consistent Calvinism could deny a henotic union between Christ and the elect.

c) The Accusation Redirected

Catholicism is full of unbelief. This is apparent, at a minimum, from the high level of nominalism. Now, someone should rightly complain that I’m comparing consistent Calvinism with inconsistent Catholicism. Very well. Consistent Tridentine Catholicism anathematizes the gospel – insisting that man’s salvation is obtained by cooperating with grace.

One cannot be saved by any gospel except that preached by Peter (Acts 4:12) and every other gospel is anathema, no matter who teaches it (Galatians 1:8-9). Those who seek salvation by works (whether that be cooperation with grace or any other works) will not attain to righteousness, because that is not by faith (Romans 9:31-33).

That is not to say that every person who is part of the Roman Catholic church is unsaved, but there is no salvation through obedience to the gospel that Rome teaches. I know this is a hard doctrine for many soft-hearted people, but God is a Jealous God (Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24 and 6:15, Joshua 24:19, and Nahum 1:2). He does not accept strange fire (see, for example, Numbers 26:61) or even apparently sincere acts that are contrary to his revealed will (2 Samuel 6:3-7), which is sometimes hard for believers to accept (2 Samuel 6:8-9).

Recall Jesus’ words:

Luke 13:23-24
23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

And again:

Matthew 7:13-14
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

And finally:

Matthew 7:21-23
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Salvation comes through union with Christ, justification by grace alone through faith alone, not through works, or else it would not be by grace (Romans 11:6 and 2 Timothy 1:9). That’s the Scriptural truth that Rome has placed under its anathema.


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