Archive for the ‘Soteriology’ Category

Can God Have Mercy on Whom He Wishes?

November 23, 2010

One of the alleged errors condemned by Rome is this: “All whom God wishes to save through Christ, are infallibly saved.” (see discussion here)

But Scripture says:

John 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Who should I believe? Rome or the Bible? Rome denies God’s omnipotence in salvation, whereas Scripture affirms it. With Scripture, I gladly affirm that All whom God wishes to save through Christ, are infallibly saved.


The real Turretin on: Old Testament Salvation

August 30, 2008

JetBrane at Iron Ink has a nice post providing a quotation from the real Francis Turretin on the topic of the salvation of believers in the Old Testament (link). Although their temporal relationship to the true atonement was different than ours, Old Testament saints were saved the same way that we, New Testament saints, are.


Response to Paul Hoffer – Salvation of Muslims

August 29, 2008

This article is in response to one by Paul Hoffer (link to PH’s article). I had written:

Question for my readers who follow Vatican 2’s proclamation that “the plan of salvation includes” Muslims: Can you see from the example above that zealously following Islam leads to eternal destruction? If so, how do you justify to yourself your church’s claim? Can you not admit that your church has erred on this point?

Mr. Hoffer has characterized my statement by claiming that “TF suggests that Catholics believe that Islam is salvific.” Let’s leave aside whether Mr. Hoffer’s ability to extract suggestions is correct, for now.

Assuming this to be the case, Mr. Hoffer complains for a full paragraph about how this is an “prime example” of “plurium interrogationum.” Again, for the moment, we will leave aside whether Mr. Hoffer has actually found a p.i. or not.

Mr. Hoffer proceeds by stating what he believes to be my motive: “Turretinfan hopes to create the impression in the minds of his audience that the Catholic Church teaches that Islam is salvific …,” meanwhile disputing as untrue this impression that he supposes I intended to convey. Again, let’s set aside, for the moment, whether he has correctly divined my intent.

Mr. Hoffer then offers “Proof” of his “contention that TF’s questions are based on a false premise … .”

Mr. Hoffer first confirms that my quotation “plan of salvation” is accurate, and provides a context for that quotation. I appreciate the fact that he has acknowledged that I accurately quoted the document, and I think it is fair to observe that the quotation must be understood as it was intended in context, and not simply according to what serves one’s apologetic or polemic needs.

Mr. Hoffer provides the following excerpt:

Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. (Emphasis Mr. Hoffer’s).

The first sentence that Mr. Hoffer highlighted makes sense: it is the sentence from which my quotation was taken. I found Mr. Hoffer’s second highlighting an odd choice. I would have thought in fairness he should highlight second, “Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.”

I would think that sentence, and particularly that phrase, and most especially that word “also” would inform the reader that the comment about the people in the two previous sentences (1) “in the first place” the Muslims and (2) “those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God … ,” were comments about people who “can attain to salvation.”

Mr. Hoffer, however, argues that the reason is that “they claim to profess a belief in the God of Abraham” and that this is “a step closer to accepting the fullness of His Gospel even if there is much error in what a Muslim may otherwise believe.” Mr. Hoffer goes on to claim that, “If we accept that Muslims do in fact believe in the God of Abraham, then such a belief would make them more receptive to accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and thus be saved.” We’ll return to this briefly.

Mr. Hoffer then tries to support the idea that truth contained in a pagan religion can prepare adherents to accept the Gospel of Christ. Of course, I don’t think anyone doubts this. That is to say, God can use truth contained in anything to prepare people for the Gospel.

Mr. Hoffer, however, does not rest on this argument, but quotes from Dominus Jesus (2000), which states that “It would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her.” I found it a bit odd that Mr. Hoffer (after seemingly chastising me for providing only a snippet) does not even quote the whole sentence. Since he would doubtless not be opposed, I provide the entire paragraph:

21. With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.83 Theologians are seeking to understand this question more fully. Their work is to be encouraged, since it is certainly useful for understanding better God’s salvific plan and the ways in which it is accomplished. However, from what has been stated above about the mediation of Jesus Christ and the “unique and special relationship”84 which the Church has with the kingdom of God among men — which in substance is the universal kingdom of Christ the Saviour — it is clear that it would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her, even if these are said to be converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God. (emphasis in original, though form of emphasis changed from italics to bold)

What is especially interesting is the tail of the sentence that Mr. Hoffer snipped off, the part about these other religions “converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God.” Also of note is the initial sentence of paragraph, “With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.”

Mr. Hoffer also provides another quotation, from the next paragraph, “If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation” (emphasis omitted by Hoffer restored). This quotation seems rather helpful to the idea that in fact followers of other religions receive divine grace, even if they do not have the fullness of the means of salvation.

Mr. Hoffer provides a further quotation from John Paul II, in which the pope notes that “Islam is not a religion of redemptino.” Mr. Hoffer, however, appears not to appreciate the fact that JP2 is simply describing Islam for what it is (forgiveness of sins in Islam is arbitrary, not based on redemption), not suggesting that Islam cannot serve as a means of divine grace.

Next, Mr. Hoffer links to an argument from Mr. Armstrong, which I plan to address some other time. Since Mr. Hoffer does not reproduce the argument, and since it appears to reflect Mr. Armstrong’s rather unique views on the subject, I trust Mr. Hoffer will not mind me passing it by for now.

Mr. Hoffer concludes his line of thought by stating in bold capital letters (not shown here): “The Catholic Church does not believe that a person can be saved through adherence to Islam.” Even if that is true, it is somewhat moot. After all, a good adherent of Catholicism will insist, consistent with the following, that the “Catholic Church does not believe that a persona can be saved by adherence to” Catholicism:

However, “all the children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be more severely judged”.93 (Dominus Jesus, 22)

The question is whether God graciously rewards those who follow Islam, not whether adherence to Islam is itself meritorious in the sense mentioned in the above block quotation. Catholicism claims not to believe in such salvation through meritorious adherence to religion.

Now, let’s return to some of those issues we previously deferred.

1) “TF suggests that Catholics believe that Islam is salvific.”

In response, I should point that many Roman Catholics do actually believe that following Islam will save you. “I believe that all roads lead to the same place,” is the way I once heard a very elderly Roman Catholic put it. That, however, is a moot point. Inclusivism, as popular as it may be amongst the laity, is not (as such) official church dogma, at least not yet.

Next, I should point out that saying that Muslims who practice Islam faithfully will be saved is different from saying that Islam itself is salvific. In fact, given the emphasis on grace, a consistent, conservative Roman Catholic would be hard-pressed to argue that even Catholicism itself is salvific (since salvation is by grace, not adherence to religion).

Finally, I should note that Mr. Hoffer doesn’t ever seem to dispute that Muslims who are Muslims (not Muslims who become Christians) are able to be saved as such. Furthermore, that is the best and plainest sense both of Vatican 2’s Lumen Gentium and JP2’s Dominus Jesus (which, again, Mr. Hoffer does not seem to expressly dispute).

2) This is an “prime example” of “plurium interrogationum.”

No. This is not a prime example. Even if it were what Mr. Hoffer suggests, it would not be a prime example, because of the fact that (at a minimum) Mr. Hoffer seems to have overlooked an alternate premise upon which the questions can be founded, namely that practicing Muslims (as such) can be saved (i.e. that Muslims can be saved without becoming Christians). That lesser premise Mr. Hoffer only reaffirms via his quotation of church documents. Thus, even if I were guilty of what Mr. Hoffer tries to charge (i.e. loading the question), this is not a prime example.

3) “Turretinfan hopes to create the impression in the minds of his audience that the Catholic Church teaches that Islam is salvific … .”

No. I actually directed the question to those who hold to Vatican 2. I was assuming that my audience would be familiar with Lumen Gentium, and consequently place the snippet quotation I provided in its proper context. I assumed (perhaps rashly) that the reader would recognize that modern Catholicism does seem to teach that non-Christians can be saved, without becoming Christians, as demonstrated above.

In fact, popular apologist for Catholicism, Jimmy Akin recently (about two years ago) stated:

Thus any atheist who could say, “I don’t think that God exists, but if I was shown convincing reasons to believe that he does then I would go and get baptized immediately and become one of his devout followers” then this person’s heart is such that God will not hold his ignorance against him and will allow him to be saved.

On the other hand, if an atheist says, “Even if there is a God, I’ll still refuse to believe in him and I’ll spit in his face when I die” then this person is toast.

Between the two would be atheists who display some openness to God but who also to one degree or another resist compelling reasons to believe that he exist when they encounter such reasons. These individuals would seem to be in an ambiguous condition. If their openness to believing in and following God is their more fundamental motive then they would be open to his grace and be saved. If their resistance to believing in or following God is their more fundamental motive then they would be closed to his grace and thus lost.(emphasis changed from italics to bold)


At the end of the day, I’m afraid I feel that Mr. Hoffer’s comment in his first paragraph, “I have been accused at times of reading things into what people write,” is supported by the present illustration. Mr. Hoffer read something into what I wrote, and got it somewhat wrong.

Against Mr. Akin and Vatican 2, I insist that the only way to be saved is by explicitly believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Thus, I deny that non-Christians can be saved as such. Of course, the only sense in which “the plan of salvation includes” non-Christians is in the sense that there are some non-Christians today who are among the elect: men for whom Christ died, who will – some day – come to a saving faith in Him and be justified by faith alone in Christ alone, thereby being saved by grace alone.

Glory to the One Name under Heaven whereby men are saved, Jesus,


P.S. It is something of a pet peeve of mine to note that what Mr. Hoffer has called “Begging the Question,” is more properly called the fallacy of the “complex question” or more colloquially, “asking a loaded question.” In logic, the fallacy of “begging the question” normally refers to petitio principii, where an argument is made in which the conclusion is smuggled in as a premise. I am especially sensitive to this, because of the rampant abuse of the phrase “begging the question” to mean simply “raising the issue.” Mr. Hoffer, thankfully, does not fall into that ditch. Likewise, the example of the question, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” is a prime example of the plurium interrogationum fallacy, although it can take several forms. Incidentally, “plurium interrogationum” literally conveys the idea of “many questions” – hence the English “complex question.”

Update: Mr. Hoffer, in a new post (link) seems to miss the point of my correction of his irregular use of the term “begging the question” to describe plurium interrogationum. So that things are clear for him, I’m saying that his accusation/objection should have been to “complex question” or “loaded question” if he was objecting to a fallacy of plurium interrogationum (and I have assumed that it was his intent to object to plurium interrogationum, as petitio principii would be an even less appropriate, for the formal reasons Mr. Hoffer outlines in his post). The phrase “begging the question” derives from the petitio principii fallacy, not the plurium interrogationum fallacy. As well, the preferred spelling of petitio principii is ending with two “i”s (i.e. four total “i”s in the word).

Update: In yet another new post (link), Mr. Hoffer has tried to continue to insist on his nomenclature. The fact that “begging the question” derives from the petitio principii fallacy, not the plurium interrogationum fallacy is something that would be obvious to anyone who knows Latin. I commend to Mr. Hoffer’s reading the following:

  • “Fallacies” by Alfred Sidgwick (link), particularly p. 175
  • “The Laws of Discursive Thought, Being a Text-book of Formal Logic” by James McCosh (link) particularly p. 184
  • “An Elementary Treatise on Logic” by William Dexter Wilson (link) particularly p. 184
  • “Logic” by George Hugh Smith (link) particularly pp. 174 and 189

Additional rudimentary books on Logic could be brought to bear to establish by authority what should be plain to everyone by now.

Only One Way to Heaven

August 26, 2008

The Bible is clear that there is only way to heaven:

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Thus, the idea that the plan of salvation includes Christ-rejecting followers of Judaism or Christ-rejecting Muslims (and yes, if you deny Christ’s divinity, you are rejecting Christ, even if you do not mean to do so) is clearly wrong and contrary to Scripture.


Armstrong vs. Aquinas – Classifying Reformed Christians

April 9, 2008

As recently noted by the “Shrine for the Holy Whapping,” a Catholic blog, Aquinas quoted with approval, the following (link to source):

“We believe that the bodies of the saints, above all the relics of the blessed martyrs, as being the members of Christ, should be venerated in all sincerity” and “If anyone holds a contrary opinion, he is not accounted a Christian, but a follower of Eunomius and Vigilantius.” (citing De Eccles. Dogm. xl)

Lay Catholic Dave Armstrong has asserted: “I would note that the official Catholic position is to acknowledge Protestants as Christian brothers, whereas many Protestant groups either are officially anti-Catholic or contain within themselves a strong legacy of anti-Catholicism which is then passed down almost unconsciously. ” (source)

Let me be clear: the body (in whole or in part) of no Christian whatsoever should receive religous veneration of any kind, whether alive or dead. Furthermore, religious veneration of corpses is open necromancy (in the broad definition of that word). Nevertheless, that does not mean that we cannot treat corpses with respect, or that we cannot hold funerals, etc. Thus, religious worship (such as Catholic veneration of relics) is to be distinguished from non-religious consideration. In view of these statements, it should be apparent that I hold a contrary position to that of Aquinas expressed above. According to Aquinas’ standard, I should not be accounted a Christian.

On the other hand, Armstrong broadly defines Christianity this way: “[A]nyone who is a trinitarian and who adheres to the Nicene Creed is (doctrinally) a Christian (that is basically the official Catholic position on other Christians)” (source – including all bracketed material).

So, now the question is this:

1. Is Aquinas out of touch with the Official Catholic Position?


2. Is Armstrong out of touch with the Official Catholic Position?


3. Has the Official Catholic Position changed? (If so, when and by whose authority?)


4. Are Aquinas and Armstrong somehow reconciliable? (If so, how?)


5. It doesn’t matter / no one can understand Catholic theology, except people who agree with me / some similar cop-out


6. Your views are not contrary to those of Aquinas.

That last option seems utterly implausible.

Option 5 is self defeating.

Option 4 doesn’t seem possible, but I’m open to attempted explanations.

Option 3 is my thought as to the best guess – with the Vatican II era being the place where the tide shifted in favor of people who think it is a species of necromancy to venerate the “relics of saints.”

Option 2 is presumably the answer that traditional Catholics, especially sedavacantists, would give.

Option 1 would take a great deal of gumption, but perhaps someone will try to make that claim.

NOTE: Although I enunciate very quickly the objection to veneration of alleged relics, this is not the post for that debate. This post is questioning whether modern Roman Catholicism (and/or Dave Armstrong) defines Christianity the way that Aquinas did.


The Real Turretin on: The Will of God in Salvation

February 11, 2008

Ismael Hilerio has provided a some reading from the real Turretin on the Will of God in Salvation. (link) This title may whet your theological appetite: “God acts seriously in the calling of reprobates, although he does not intend their salvation


Evangelism – Islam Style

September 7, 2007

Osama bin Ladin has released a new video. The present author has no plans to link to it, nor to any transcript of it.

The summary is:

America is bad,
Bush is bad,
Christians are bad,
Capitalism is bad,
Corporations are bad,
Democracy is bad,
Globalisation is bad,
Islam is good,
Terrorism is justified,
Muslims don’t incinerate Jews and Christians,
The Qaran and the Gospel are from the same source, and
The Qaran has been preserved from the alterations of men.

And, of course, key quote:

“[T]he greatest mistake one can make in this world and one which is uncorrectable is to die while not surrendering to Allah, the Most High, in all aspects of one’s life – ie., [sic] to die outside Islam.”

May God have mercy on Bin Ladin, and convert him from the error of his way, before it is too late.

As for his specific claims:

– As a matter of historical fact, the Qaran was subject to alteration and standardization by various people. Furthermore, early Muslims famously acknowledged that much of the Koran was permanently lost: ” ‘Uthman, A’isha, and Ibn Ka’b (among others) all insisted that much of the Koran had been lost.” (source)

– As a matter of theology, the path of salvation in Christianity is different from that of Islam, and the doctrines of the Evangelists are not the doctrines of Islam. Christ is the I AM, and the Muslim denial of that truth is blasphemy.

– Not all Muslim incinerate every Christian or Jew that they meet. Nevertheless, Muslim terrorists routinely incinerate both themselves and the Christians, Jews, and other Muslims they attack. Those young men who foolish follow Bin Ladin and the false prophet of Islam demonstrate that incineration is a weapon that Muslims use. Furthermore, whether or not they use incineration, Muslims are notorious for the use of the sword (whether literally or with reference to modern hand weapons like the gun). Only in the last week it has been reported that Christian missionaries in Pakistan were martyred by Muslims who used a gun.

– Bin Ladin claims that there are no taxes in Islam, but instead “a limited Zakaat totaling only 2.5%.” Of course, Muslims famously eradicated Christianity in North Africa not only by the sword but also by confiscatory taxation.

– Terrorism is justified how exactly? Bin Ladin hints that the Christian west, especially America, Britain and France, deserves to be attacked. Why? Apparently because of our continued warfare against Iraq. Huh? It should be fairly obvious to those who read the news that the population of Iraq has accepted the regime change and is fighting a war against radical Muslim extremists who, like Bin Ladin, seek to spread Islam by the sword. We’re there to help Iraq – we’re not waging war against Iraq. Oh yes, one other thing. Were we at war with Iraq or any other Muslim nation when Bin Ladin attacked on September 11? (He notes that he cannot reasoanbly claim to be innocent of the September 11 attacks.)

– Ironically, Bin Ladin asserts that “our [Muslim] rulers in general abandoned Islam many decades ago.” That should make it clear that Bin Ladin is advocating a particular – rather strict – variety of Islam.

– Bin Ladin claims to be “winning … the war against you despite the fewness of our numbers and materiel.” In contrast, however, about 75% of Al Quaeda has been destroyed, and the 25% that remains is mostly either hiding or incarcerated.

– Bin Ladin may be right that democracy is a bad idea (and this blog is not taking a position on that issue), but if it were not for democracy, he would have been long ago destroyed by the Russians. In any event, Bin Ladin is probably confusing democracy with pluralism.

– Bin Ladin uses the communist propaganda against capitalism, asserting that it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. History has shown that capitalism made the Christian world rich when the Muslim world suffered in gross poverty, so that obesity (not starvation) has become the afflication of the poor in Christian nations throughout the world.

– Bin Ladin lumps in globalization with capitalism and democracy – an odd combination, but apparently an appeal to the anti-globalization radicals in America. Interestingly, the forces of globalization have been the major visible cause of improvement in the health and welfare of developing countries.

– Bin Ladin notes “abject poverty and tragic hunger” in Africa, but this occurs mostly in Muslim, former Communist, and pagan societies.

– Bin Ladin asserts that the war has aided “major corporations.” What Bin Ladin does not seem to recognize is that “major corporations” are virtually all publicly owned. If Lockheed Martin benefitted, all its stockholders benefitted, and anyone who has money can buy stock in that corporation. Have “major corporations” benefited from the eradication of Al Quaeda? Probably yes. And that benefit has been transferred on to the stockholders, the American and global public.

– Bin Ladin blames Rumsfield for the Vietnam war, yet Rumsfield was a “dove” in the Nixon administration. (source)

– Bin Ladin blames Christianity for the Spanish Inquisition and the “holocaust of the Jews,” when he should be blaming athiesm and Catholicism. On top of that, has Bin Ladin forgotten why the Spanish Inquisition was formed? One of the reasons was the invasion by militant Islam in Southern Europe.

– Bin Ladin claims that Bush is try to win the war by turning sect against sect in Iraq. In fact, Bush has already succeeded in uniting multiple sects against Al Quaeda in Iraq.

Finally, a summary of Bin Ladin’s soteriology.

Bin Ladin writes (well, the transcript of his speech reads): “And all praise is due to Allah, who awakened His slaves’ desire for the Garden, and all of them will enter it except those who refuse. And whoever obeys Him alone in all his affairs will enter the Garden, and whoever disobeys Him will have refused.”

This is not so different from an Arminian or Pelagian soteriology.

But compare it to a Reformed soteriology:

All praise be to The One Triune God! He has redeemed His children from out of every land, nation, tribe, and tongue. He will open their eyes to the glory of His name, and they will follow Him. He will riase them to spiritual life from spiritual death, and they will dwell with Him in Heaven forever!


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