Sunday, March 28, 2010

*BEST OF DTB #8* Did Mary have other Children?

Mary: Ever virgin

Another "former catholic" (1 John 2:19) on You Tube goes by the moniker serveCHRISTnow and is assailing the Catholic position that Mary was a perpetual virgin. Like so many of the protestants I have met, he is quite confident in his prospects of winning the day on this issue.

Obviously, my friend's confidence is misplaced. Mary's perpetual virginity is a matter of demonstrable fact and statements to the contrary merely reflect an ignorance of scripture and history.

My friend plays a little linguistic gymnastics with the greek and I'll deal with that in a moment. First, let's start with what we can know with absolute certitude and use that as a starting point.

A Brother is a brother...except when it isn't.

Quoting my protestant friend:

Before we dialogue, please let me share with you my very simple clear honest starting point. I believe these men clearly identified on numerous occasions in the N T as JESUS Brothers were indeed his Brothers .

I would say to my friend that if that is your position, then you have already lost the debate. "Brothers", according to our reckoning, which is full brothers, is the one impossible position.

Full brothers are born of the same Mother and of the same Father. Surely, you are not suggesting that James and Joseph are conceived by the Holy Spirit?

No, I do not believe you are suggesting this but, nevertheless, it proves that the term "brother" is not as straightforward as you suggest, right from the start.

Possible interpretations

This leaves us with a number of other possibilities to be explored.

  1. They are children of Mary and Joseph.
  2. They are children of Joseph from another marriage.
  3. They are cousins or relatives.
  4. They are spiritual brothers.
  5. There are different combinations of 2, 3 and 4

Let's be clear, from the start. Since the doctrine in question is whether or not Mary remained a virgin, I do not have to demonstrate who each of these "brothers and sisters" actually are. per se. All that I have to prove is that they are not children of Mary. That is a burden of proof that can certainly be met in a number of ways.

Not near so clear as you suggest

Let's start with his arguments and circle back from there.

Scripture is very clear, Mark 6;3" Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and BROTHER of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" however Read Luke 21:16 "But you will be betrayed even by PARENTS and BROTHERS and RELATIVES and FRIENDS. Notice that unlike the O T Hebrew the N T Greek makes a clear distinction between parents and brothers relatives and friends etc .

Your argument is circular at best because most of the NT was translated from Aramaic using the rules of translation common at that time.

You then said ## some could be children of Joseph from a previous marriage...that is an open question and makes for interesting speculation. ##  You don't seem very certain here? Using words such as Could be and speculation, where is the certainty in that?

Now You using Luke 2:48 as support for your poor interpretation of the verses mentioning JESUS brothers is amusing indeed. Let me make this simple for you ok?

Absolute certitude when it is imprudent is folly. I am very careful never to overstate my case. You seem to have no such reservations. Do not be upset when I use that against you.

I would be very grateful if you are not dishonest about my arguments. I did not use Luke 2:48 to support my "poor interpretation" of Jesus brothers. I used Luke 2:48 and 49 to establish a precedent. Since you obviously couldn't counter the precedent, you create a straw man. Very dishonest. Please don't do that again. Think of it this way, when you avoid confronting my actual argument and set up a straw man like this, you actually confirm to me that you have no confidence in the strength of your case. I would think you wouldn't want to give me such an impression.

Luke 2:48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety."
2:49 And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"*
Here is the point I was making... a simple one, really. Here, both Joseph and Our Heavenly Father are called Jesus' father. The same greek word is used in both verses.

So, if you were completely unfamiliar with the Biblical account and context, but you knew greek, and I gave you these two verses alone, you would conclude that both verses were referring to the same father.

You and I know that they are not, only because we understand the context.

Always careful, as I said before, not to overstate my case, I am not alleging that I have proven Mary had no other children on the strength of Luke 2:48-49. First of all, to do so would be a complete non-sequiter.

What I am establishing is that a family relationship cannot be established on the strength of exegesis of the text alone. That seems to be the entire crux of your argument. If it is, you will lose this debate very quickly.

The nuts and bolts of your case

You said ## I can prove that some of those called ''brothers'' are actually cousins ##. I assume your trying to use a Linguistic argument here? If so then please base it on the N T Greek and not the O T Hebrew as this would only highlight an absolute ignorance to the fact that these are different languages. The O T Hebrew only has the word Ach (brother) and no separate word for relative, however this argument would not apply to the new testament as the N T was written in a far more precise language ( koine greek) which has separate words used for distinction such as adelphos/ brother, Anepsios/cousin and syggenes/relative.
You just made my previous point.

I am well aware that the Old Testament was written originally in Hebrew and Aramaic (though most NT quotes of the OT are from the greek Septuagint) and that the oldest existing NT manuscripts exist in greek. (though much of it was translated from Aramaic).

Notwithstanding all of the above, your linguistic case is not nearly as strong as you suggest. Take your characterization of the greek Adelphos as a starting point. You infer that this word only indicates ''brothers'', in the full sense but we know that is simply impossible by the very reason that it is used in this context.

It is impossible for Jesus and James to have been brothers because we know at a minimum, that Jesus is not a son of Joseph. The case for Joseph being Jesus' father (Luke 2:48) is every bit as strong as for James being his brother from the stand point of the greek word assigned. Yet, we know that Joseph was not Jesus Father in the full sense.

So, at a very minimum, the meaning of Adelphos would have to allow for half-brothers to support your interpretation. So, at the very start, your argument already stands refuted.

Unfortunately for you, it goes even further. The Hellenistic Jews who wrote/translated the New Testament books to greek were well versed in the Septuagint. There are a host of sources that prove that Jesus and the Apostles and writers favored the Septuagint overwhelmingly when quoting the Old Testament. Here is but one. I could easily produce more.

The reason this is important is that the Septuagint (LXX) makes very liberal use of the word greek word Adelphos. In fact, is actually used in contexts where we know the person being described is a cousin. Examples are Genesis 14:14 and 1 Chr. 23:21–22.

I get a chuckle when protestants attempt to dismiss this argument out of hand, rejecting the "false" greek translation of the Old Testament in favor of the "more reliable" Hebrew (Masoretic). The reason this argument is silly is because the New Testament quotes the Old Testament five times as often from the LXX as from the Masoretic text and even the protestants retain the greek name of the Bible's first book- Genesis over it's Hebrew equivalent Bereshit. This, in itself is a concession by the protestants that the LXX is the more reliable source.

The New Testament translators/writers followed the same rules of greek as the LXX translators. Contrary to my friend's argument, the greek word Anepsios appears nowhere in the gospels for cousin. In fact, it appears only once in the entire New Testament. (St. Paul's epistle to the Colossians, Chapter 4, verse 10) In this context, it refers to Marcus' sister's son which would clearly be a nephew, not a cousin.

Further, in two clear opportunities to use Anepsios for cousin, Luke 1:36 and 1:58, the greek syggenes is used instead. In this instance, the fact that Elizabeth was Mary's cousin is factually established and even the error riddled KJV correctly translates it so.

All James are not the sames

Therefore, as all the above evidence shows, your linguistic arguments are at best inconclusive, at worst, proven false. The case gets even murkier when you attempt to identify these brothers. Take James, for instance. In the NT, there are as many as 7 men called James.

There is James called "The brother of Jesus" (Matt. 13:55, Acts 15:13-21, 1 Cor. 15:7, Gal. 1:19) at the center of our current debate but there is also James "Son of Zebedee" (Matt. 4:21, 10:2, 17:1, Acts 12:2) and James (and Joseph), sons of another Mary (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40). In John 19:25, this other Mary is clearly differentiated from the mother of Jesus. She is the wife of Clopas. (Alpheius in Matthew 10:3).

John 19:25 proves that these were not sons of Mary but of her "sister" Mary. Not only does this prove they were not children of Mary but they prove the literal use of the term "sister". Could Mary's sister be named Mary? Come now.

However, if you take Mark 6:3 as literally referring to James and Joseph (always listed in that order) as brothers of Jesus, one then has to conclude that two different sisters named Mary each had sons, in order, named James and Joseph. A bit of a reach by any one's measure.

Yet, scripture does not make this case. If Mark wanted to specifically identify James and Joseph as biological (uterine) brothers of Jesus, he would have used the specific term Ho Adelphos. To not include this descriptor, means relative and not necessarily brother. This, with the other Biblical evidence makes it clear.

This James and Joseph were cousins, not brothers. A second century historian has stated that Mary's "sister" Mary was actually Joseph's sister Mary, making James and Joseph cousins by marriage. Of course, I cannot prove that Mary, mother of James and Joseph, was a sister of Joseph, adopted father of Jesus. However, that this James and Joseph were not sons of the Mother of Jesus is beyond disputable.

Now, back to the James that is called "brother of Jesus".

You are correct that much of the speculation of his identity grows from the Protoevangelium of James. That this document is extra-Biblical does not mean it is factually in error.

It was written specifically as a defense of the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity. At a minimum, it's antiquity should give you pause. Being written about 120 AD, memory of Mary's life would still have been well intact.

You claimed using the protoevangelium is a "curious" starting point but nothing could be further from the truth. It seems a logical starting point since it alleges insights that the scriptures leave unclear. It seems perfectly prudent that the early church would take this first hand account into consideration to determine whether it's claims are meritorious and credible against the revealed truth of scripture, especially since the canon would not be set for more than 260 years.

If the facts presented in the protoevangelium were in contradiction with inspired scripture, the church would have condemned it as heretical. It did not. If, however, this document can be used as a tool for reexamining our understanding of the Biblical account, it is absurd to say we should not do so.

Is the Protoevangelium account reliable?

The protoevangelium makes a number of assertions that we can positively say are supported, or even confirmed, by the Gospels. Further, it makes none that are directly opposed to scripture.

I want to focus on two for now. These claims are contained in paragraphs 8, 9 and 10.

Claim #1

The first claim is that Joseph was a widower who already had children and that Mary, at this point was in her early teen years.

Does the Bible support this view? it certainly does! Joseph is last mentioned in the Gospels when Jesus is 12 years old. He is not present as Jesus ministry begins. At that point, Mary would have been in her 40's. In the account of the 12 year old Jesus being in the temple, there is no mention of any other children. This seems odd due to the fact that it is likely that Mary would be fast approaching the end of her child bearing years.

This alone, is compelling but not overwhelmingly so. However, examine what Jesus said to the Pharisees in the 7th chapter of St. Mark's gospel, verses 10-13;

Mark 7:10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother shall die.'
7:11 Yet you say, 'If a person says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"' * (meaning, dedicated to God),
7:12 you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.
7:13 You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things."

It is very clear that Jesus is saying that providing material support and care for your parents is a direct requirement of the Mosaic law. Even if James, "the brother of Jesus" did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah, he was a Jew and would not have disobeyed the clear mandate of law (to say nothing of the mandate of his own conscience) to care for his mother. The same is true of Joseph and all the other brothers and sisters. They would have stepped up and assumed her care. Certainly, Jesus would not have violated the law by entrusting His Mother to any other than her own sons and daughters.

Further, history tells us that James the Just was an elderly man when he was martyred in 62 AD. If you assume old man means 70+ (certainly a reasonable conclusion), then James was older, not younger, than Jesus.

If James were Jesus younger brother, he could not have been more than 60 or 61 years old. Hardly, elderly.

Allowing, also, that James was the oldest of at least 6 children (4 brothers and at least 2 sisters), it is likely that James was older than Jesus by at least 10 years or more. In fact, at the time of his betrothal to Mary, it is likely that Joseph's son was nearly as old as his wife!

Claim #2

The second claim that I want to focus on is that Mary was of the House of David. This would mean that Joseph and Mary were actually related and that sex between them would actually be incest!

Is there any support for this claim? There certainly is!

How is Jesus established as being in the Davidic line? Most would answer by reciting the genealogy in the first chapter of St. Matthew's gospel.

When you look at verse 16 you find an astounding problem.

Matthew 1:16 Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Jesus would indeed be of the Davidic line if Joseph was his father...but he isn't. The verse clearly tells us that Jesus is of Mary, not Joseph.

Of course, you may try to get around this by saying that Jesus was of the Davidic line by adoption but that is a clear violation of Scripture.

ROM 1:3 the gospel about his Son,
descended from David according to the flesh
As you can see, it is impossible for Jesus to be descended by flesh from David unless Mary was also of the house of David. This gives powerful support to the protoevangelum that Joseph could not possibly have had a conjugal marriage with Mary and, thus, James the Just could not possibly have been Joseph and Mary's son.

Please allow me to develop my own arguments
rather than doing it for me

However, this makes a good dovetail into refuting another of my friend's arguments;

If what you are saying about mary is infact true then you would have no need for all this wrangling to support your erroneous theological position, which most definitely originated in a false gospel (Protevangelium of james) and was promoted by dualistic philosophers of the Roman catholic Church

I am not wrangling and my position is certainly not erroneous. However, we must first address the burden of proof. Your allegation is that the one- and only- explanation of the verses in question is that the "brothers" of Jesus are children of Mary. Thus far, you have failed to meet that burden of proof. If you have other arguments to make, you may yet strive to still make it. Yet, since your first argument is that the greek terms used establish these brothers as sons of Mary, to the exclusion of all other explanations, that argument certainly stands refuted.

Even if you are audacious enough to assert that I have not yet proven they are not her sons, even you must concede that I have proven that you have not yet proven that they are.

In proving the question, one way or another, I went more than 40 paragraphs, and refuted your linguistic arguments, without even mentioning the protoevangelum of James. Yet, you alleged that my;

"erroneous theological position, which most definitely originated in a false gospel(Protevangelium of james)"
As a lifelong Catholic, I find this kind of argumentation hillariosly audacious. How dare you presume to tell me the origin of my own arguments! This again, adds fuel to our perception that protestants know they cannot win an argument meritoriously so they attempt to re-frame the argument into terms that favor themselves. You should listen long and hard to what I am telling you because we Catholics find this tactic very, very offensive. Allow me to develop my arguments, then counter those arguments. Do not create strawmen. If you intend to "educate" me, as you assert, do so with honest arguments.
I do not know if you have further arguments to make than the linguistic ones. If you don't, you have lost this debate already (since you bear the burden of proof), if you do, I should be only so happy to hear them.

What need to go further?

I could probably rest my arguments now and be the winner but I don't wish to do that. The reason why is because it is not enough for me that your arguments not be proven correct but that they be proven incorrect, if not for your benefit, than for the benefit of someone watching.
The problem for me is that there are so many ways to prove you wrong that it is hard to whittle them down into a cohesive case and I wind up sounding long-winded.

I may still be a long time before I have mentioned all the pertinent arguments of the protoevangelum and, even then, may do so only peripherally. However, I do need to address one specific allegation that you make and we can circle back to this later.

What is not proven true is not as a consequence, proven false

You allege that the Protoevangelum of James is a "false gospel".

This is a circular argument. First of all, the Catholic Church did not include this writing in it's canon of sacred scripture (the very same canon you attempt to use against me now) but that does not mean it is false or even that it isn't inspired. It only means that we cannot infallibly declare it to be true or inspired.

To claim that the protoevangelum is false on the basis of it's not being contained in the canon is a fallicious argument of burden of proof;

X is false because it has not been proven true.

In saying this, I do not deny that the Protevangelum could be proven to be a false writing. I am only pointing out that it is not proven such merely by it's not being included in the canon of scripture. Extra-Biblical does not necessarily equal Anti-Biblical. That is a non-sequiter.

"I know not man"

The protoevangelum asserts that Mary was a dedicated temple virgin. If so, for someone- including Joseph- to have relations with her would be a grievous crime (1 Samuel 2:22-25).

Is this claim credible?

Once again, this claim squares exactly with scripture. For, when the Angel Gabriel told, the already betrothed, Mary that she would conceive and bear a son, she immediatly asked how this could be since she has no relations with a man (Luke 1:34).

This question is absurd if she and Joseph were betrothed in a conjugal marriage. Mary was not stupid! She knew how babies were made. If she and Joseph were betrothed in the normal sense, she would have immediatly, if erroniously, concluded that Joseph would be the father of this child. Mary was questioning how she could possibly have a child and not break her vow. Once again, the account in the protoevangelum is borne out.

No relations until...

Protestants wrongly interpret Matthew 1:25....

Matthew 1:25 He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
The greek word heos is translated to 'until'. It affirms that something did not happen up to that point, but does not imply that it happened after that (Hebrews 1:13, 1 Timothy 4:13). The Old Testament equivalent can be found in 2 Samuel 6:23, a verse that is absurd if interpreted as the Protestants interpret Matthew 1:25.

The Woman, the Queen mother, The Mother of God,
and The Ark of the Covenant

One of the reasons protestants don't understand the New Testament is because they don't understand the Old Testament. The Catholic church has a much deeper understanding of both. That is just a fact.

In Genesis 3:15, we read that enmity is placed between the Woman1 (Mary) and her offspring (Jesus first2, and then her adopted children3), The Douai (the best english version ever produced) even goes so far as to state that it is the woman who will crush the serpent's head.

In 1 Kings 15:13, and 2 Kings 10:13 we see on display the role of the mother of the king as the Queen Mother4.

In Isaiah chapters 7 and 9, we read of the virgin who literally becomes the mother of God. 5

Finally, throughout the Old Testament, we read of that holy vessel made of incorruptble wood that carried within it the very Word of God. So, holy was this Ark of the Covenant6 that for a man to even touch it meant death! 2 Samuel 6:6-7

Then, in dazzling splendor, and startling clarity, we see all these elements tied together in the singular person of Mary, in the 11th and 12th chapters of John's Revelation.

Revelation 11:19 Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant6 could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm.

12:1 * A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a 4crown of twelve stars.
12:2 She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.*
12:3 Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, * with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems.
12:4 Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth.
12:5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.2 * Her child was caught up to God and his throne 5

12:6 The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days.*
12:7 * Then war broke out in heaven; Michael* and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back,
12:8 but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
12:9 The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, * who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.
12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
"Now have salvation and power come,
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.
For the accuser * of our brothers is cast out,
who accuses them before our God day and night.

12:11 They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
love for life did not deter them from death.

12:12 Therefore, rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them.
But woe to you, earth and sea,
for the Devil has come down to you in great fury,
for he knows he has but a short time."

12:13 When the dragon saw that it had been thrown down to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
12:14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, * so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half-year.
12:15 The serpent, * however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current.
12:16 But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth and swallowed the flood that the dragon spewed out of its mouth.
12:17 Then the dragon became angry with the woman1 and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring 3 , those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus.


The above evidence proves, beyond any possible doubt, that Mary could not possibly have had other children. That has been the church's position since day 1, and for good reason.

Your move.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

*BEST OF DTB #7* How we are saved- a catholic perspective

Part I: "All Me or All He"?

Many of you, who are not as old as me, probably don't remember the Stevie Wonder classic Higher Ground. From a musical standpoint, it's a masterpiece. You cannot listen without tapping your foot.

Theologically? Eh, not so much.

I'm so glad that he let me try it again,
Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I'm so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin'
Till I reach my highest ground...Whew!
Till I reach my highest ground

Talk about your "works based" salvation scheme! If you mess up your whole life, you keep doing it over until you reach the higher ground. This belief system mimics Buddhism and it is incompatible with Christianity.

One thing virtually all Christian denominations agree on is that you get one shot in this life. So the reincarnation element is not widely held.

However, some people do buy into the idea that we can achieve salvation simply through our own efforts. They are mistaken.

Stevie Wonder's works based scheme alleges that man can obtain his own salvation, if only given enough time and by exerting enough effort, to learn and live the right way. This scheme over estimates man's ability to overcome his own weakness and provides no means for the atonement of His past sins. Therefore, it negates our need for God and is, thus, idolatry.

There is another extreme position, however- the position that man cannot cooperate with God's grace. That extreme is personified in an Amy Grant song called I have decided. Among the lyrics;

I have decided,
Being good is just a fable,
I just can't 'cause I'm not able.
I'm gonna leave it to the Lord.
There's a wealth of things that I profess,
I said that I believed,
But deep inside I never changed;
I guess I'd been deceived.

'Cause a voice inside kept telling me,
That I'd change by and by,
But the Spirit made it clear to me,
That kind of life's a lie.
So forget the game of being good,
And your self-righteous pain.
'Cause the only good inside your heart
Is the good that Jesus brings.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love nearly all of Amy Grant's music, but in this song, she gets it very, very, very wrong. What she is espousing here is not Orthodox Christianity, in any sense, but a heretical doctrine of Reformed protestant theology called Total Depravity. This theology is part of a series of beliefs that have come to be known as Calvinism after it's principal author- John Calvin.

Grant's Calvinist model, offers that man is totally depraved and lacks the sufficient light of faith and reason to be even minimally good. Salvation, therefore, must be done for us, in it's entirety, externally, as we cannot make even the smallest contribution to it on our own.

This scheme denies the fact that there is, placed by God, within each person, sufficient light to choose God and the right way.

Part II: A false faith, a false choice.

The way that Calvinists often argue the question of how we are saved is to present these two approaches as the only two, falsely attributing the "saved by our own efforts" position to Catholicism.

Calvinists will offer (and many actually believe) that catholics believe in salvation according to our own efforts via a system of performing sufficient numbers of good works, rituals and sacrifices, as if God is keeping score.

Many believe that our church teaches the possibility of additional opportunity to earn salvation points in Purgatory.

In short, Calvinists believe that the Salvation debate is a very simple one.

Catholics believe in Salvation by works, while they believe in Salvation by faith.

I'm here to tell you different.

Catholics reject both Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. We do not believe that Salvation is of human origin or even partial human origin.

Catholics believe in Salvation by Grace through Faith while Calvinists believe in Salvation by Grace through Verbal and Intellectual assent, alone. Notice, I did not say "Faith alone". Though that is the term, by which, The Calvinist view is clearly refuted by James 2:24;

See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
A more specific translation of the word "faith" in this context would be "Assent" because the entire point of the teaching of the second chapter of James is that works are actually inseparable from true faith. Faith is active with and completed by works (v 22) and without works, faith is dead (v 26). James asks us rhetorically if such dead faith can save us (v 14) and obviously, the answer is no. In v18, he tells us quite plainly that works are the very demonstration of faith. Not the byproduct of faith, as some allege, but the very proof of it.

So, a Verbal and Intellectual assent to faith is not actually faith, but only the first part of faith.

You want proof? So, you say your faith is so strong? Pass the test of Matthew 17:20 before you lecture me about your alleged strong faith. Did Jesus pose this as the threshold of saving faith? No. However, it was His intention that we realize our little faith and not become too proud of ourselves.

Verbal and Intellectual assent
are necessary but insufficient means to Salvation. What I mean by necessary but insufficient is that you cannot be saved without them, but you cannot be saved with only them. Verbal and Intellectual assent are the decisions made, by the sinner, to believe, and to voice that belief, in the Lordship and saving power of Christ.

Calvinists constantly accuse Catholics of not believing in this essential part of Salvation. It is nothing but a straw man. Catholics, most defiantly, affirm this fundamental truth.

We assert, however, that Calvinists have the beginning confused with the end. An Assent to faith is not faith, itself. An Assent of faith is a declaration and an affirmation to a new life- A Vow.

It is, in essence, like a Marriage vow. The promise to accept Christ and live in faith, and actually doing it, are two very different things. Just as the marital vows to have, hold and cherish, are a different matter than actually doing it.

In both cases, you must first, make the vow, then you must fulfill the vow.

The reason is that all of the verses of scripture pertaining to accepting Christ as Savior, point to accepting Him as Lord and Savior.

Many call Jesus the Lord but do not actually submit to His Lordship over them by keeping His commandments;

Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
These are the ones who claim that Salvation is not about works but about a personal relationship with Jesus. Salvation, they insist is about knowing Him. They are wrong. Knowing Jesus intimately is impossible for those who don't keep the Commandments.

1John 2:4 Whoever says, "I know him," but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him
So, here is the real choice. Calvinists assert that Faith is only the assent to belief in what has been done by Christ, while Catholics believe that Faith is the assent of what has been done as well as the lived hope of what He is doing and will do.

A Calvinist will say of himself "I have been saved" while a Catholic may say "I have been saved, I am being saved and- if I remain faithful- I will be saved."

Catholics believe the work of Salvation is accomplished by Christ every bit as much as Calvinists do. For some reason, (despite centuries of Biblical evidence) Calvinists seem to reject God's ability to work His will through human beings while still retaining all of the Glory.

In short, the difference between the two positions is that Calvinists believe that Salvation is the act of Jesus declaring an unjust sinner Justified while Catholics believe Salvation is the process of Jesus making an unjust sinner Justified.

Part III: The Calvinist case fails to meet the Biblical standard.

Lest I be accused of mis-representing Calvinist theology vs Catholic theology, Protestant theologian RC Sproul states the different view clearly;

For Rome, God both makes just and declares just. For Protestants God both makes just and declares just -- but not in the same way. For Rome the declaration of justice follows the making inwardly just of the regenerate sinner. For the Reformation the declaration of justice follows the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the regenerated sinner.
The Calvinist view is, of course, a heretical view because it violates God's Justice, not to mention violating common sense and the clear teaching of Scripture.

God cannot declare Just, he who is not just. Christ's death on Cavalry is, indeed, my path to salvation. It is my path to Salvation but I must still do my part. For despite, Sproul's contention, the Protestant model most certainly does not "both make just and declare just".

The protestant view is based, in large part, to a hand full of scriptures in which the King James version translates ''credited'' righteousness as imputed righteousness.

Here is one example of such arguments made.

The reason the protestant model does not match scripture that it nullifies God's justice. That each person is judged by his merits and that God is not mocked is clear to the point of agony. Here are many right here.

Let me quote just a few;

Matthew 3:10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Part IV: "Christ became sin".

No verse is misused more by reformers of the Calvinist bent than 2 Corinthians 5:21. The Calvinist bible of choice, the King James Version, quotes it this way:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
A proper translation of the verse (and the one that is faithful with the rest of the Bible) is that Christ became a sacrifice for sin. I may be reasonably accused of splitting hairs here but the distinction is an important one.

As I often hear my protestant friends say that "Jesus took my sin upon Himself", I have to respond that you are ascribing to Jesus that which He simply could not do. God cannot take, that which contradicts Himself, upon Himself. A careful reading of the scriptures shows that Jesus took the penalty of sin upon Himself, not the sin itself.

Isaiah 53:4 Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
While we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.

53:5 But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins,
Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
Jesus Christ, by offering Himself as the atoning sacrifice, purchased the Graces sufficient to save every man. He did not directly remit our sins at Calvary. Rather, He provided the Sacrificial means for their remittance. Otherwise, all men would be saved and, clearly, all are not. All men are redeemed but not all are saved. Sufficient graces exist to save us all but we are free to refuse those graces if we (foolishly) choose to do so.

Romans 5:2 through whom we have gained access (by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.
Through Christ, we receive Grace and, in that Grace WE stand. WE stand, not Christ standing in our place. Therefore, we are saved, not by imputed righteousness but by infused righteousness. Not by Grace over us but in us.

Calvinists argue against infused righteousness because they believe in the total depravity of man. In short, Calvinists claim that man cannot be made just actually but only positionally.

If unsaved man lacks the capacity to become just, he lacks both the ability to choose God and the culpability for not doing so. Therefore, the fact that unsaved man can demonstrate the virtues of repentance before, and surrender to, Christ, demonstrates that God has hard wired the ability to choose right into him.

Further, if God both commands us to choose right, and enables us to do so, His justice demands we be punished if we fail to do so.

Despite RC Sproul's contention, the Calvinist model doesn't make the man just, it merely hides his injustice behind Christ's Righteousness.

This kind of peek-a-boo theology blasphemes the saving power of Christ's blood to truly wash away sin. It also flies in the clear face of only about a billion scriptures. Here are but a few;

Matthew 3:10 Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
Romans 2:6 who will repay everyone according to his works:
Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds.

Revelation 22:12 "Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds

Our ability to choose and do what is right cannot be made perfect through our own efforts.

Nevertheless, The fact that our conduct is a component in our salvation is a concept that is clear in the Bible to the point of agony. The second chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans is but one example;

2:1 * Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.* For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things.
2:2 We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true.
2:3 Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
2:4 Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance?
2:5 By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God,
2:6 who will repay everyone according to his works:*
2:7 eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,
2:8 but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.
2:9 Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.
2:10 But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.
2:11 * There is no partiality with God.
2:12 * All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it.
2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified.

Verse 13 alone, refutes the theology espoused by Calvin (and subsequently by Sproul and Grant). Again;

2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified.

If you need further evidence, you need only go to the Second chapter of James;

2:8 However, if you fulfill the royal * law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.
2:9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it.
2:11 For he who said, "You shall not commit adultery," also said, "You shall not kill." Even if you do not commit adultery but kill, you have become a transgressor of the law.
2:12 So speak and so act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom.*
2:13 For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

2:14 * What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? [of course not]
2:15 If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day,
2:16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?
2:17 So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
2:18 Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.
2:20 Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?
2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.
2:23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God."
2:24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
2:25 And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route?
2:26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

So, the Apostles Paul and James clearly decry the fallacy of faith without works ideology.

So, if Jesus lacks the power to actually remove our deadly sins from our record, we are in a world of hurt. I know for certain that I am! Fortunately for us, Jesus does not lack this power. He truly can remove your sins and make you whole and righteous before God.

He never promised you a life without pain or suffering or sorrow. What He did promise was to save you if you truly have saving faith. If you have never really looked at this, now might be a good time to listen.

Part V: but the Bible says "there are none righteous, no not one"

Actually, no it doesn't. The Bible says;

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
and, no, I am not playing games with the scriptures. Once again, context is of dramatic importance. The folks at argue this brilliantly!

Romans 3, verse 10 says, " it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one.'" Yet, James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much. If absolutely no one is righteous, then who is James talking about? Luke chapter 1 says that Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous before God. If absolutely no one is righteous, then how can that be? Is Scripture contradicting itself? No, the folks who interpret Romans as saying absolutely, without exception, no one is righteous, are misinterpreting that passage. They are failing to realize that the key to understanding Romans 3:10 is the phrase, "it is written."
Here in Romans, Paul is quoting from the O.T., Psalm 14 to be exact. In Psalm 14 it says, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God. They are corrupt...there is none that does good.'" But then that same psalm goes on to talk about the "righteous." Well, if none has done good, who are these righteous the psalm is talking about? Obviously, when the psalmist says that none has done good, he is talking about the fools who say there is no God. He is not talking about absolutely everyone.
Just so Paul when he quotes from this psalm. Paul is not saying absolutely no one is righteous, if he was, then how do you explain all the Old and New Testament passages that refer to the righteous? In Romans 3:11 it says that no one seeks for God. Does that mean that absolutely no one is seeking God? No, to interpret it that way would be ludicrous!
Just so verse 23 which says that "all have sinned". Babies haven't sinned, have they? Little children haven't sinned, have they? No! This is not an absolute. There are exceptions. What about John the Baptist? Did he sin? Scripture says that he was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb. Can someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit his entire life ever sin? It's something to think about.

Part VI: The role of works in saving faith.
Since the "Salvation by Faith Alone" and "Once Saved, Always saved" beliefs of Calvinists are wholly untenable, they cannot (and will not) ever be debated honestly. That is, the positions will never be genuinely compared to what Scripture actually teaches vs an equal comparison of the actual Catholic position.

To do so, means certain exposure of the Calvinist doctrines as Biblically false. This does not mean that anyone who defends Calvinism is a dishonest person. It only means that they are using a dishonest set of arguments (though they may not even realize it).

Once a Calvinist has convinced you that Salvation is either a matter of faith alone or of works, he has won the argument. At the point, He has reduced the subject at hand to a false dilemma between the power of you vs the power of God.... God will always win that one.

The clever way that Calvinists attempt to do this is with the God plus argument. If Catholics offer that our conduct is what we will be judged on, Calvinists will claim that we believe in a God plus something else means of salvation.

However, it's a patently dishonest argument and one that a shrewd Catholic should see right through. How does one add to infinity? Nothing can be added to God, things can only be taken from Him.

Calvinists will argue that, in doing good, Catholics are attempting to add to Christ's completed work. Let me see if I get this straight.;

I failed to do what is right, which I was compelled to do.
therefore I am a sinner and under God's wrath.
Being justly condemned, I threw myself at the feet of His mercy.
Being saved, I am no longer compelled to do what is right?

This is a complete non-sequiter.

There are some very simple Biblical precepts that must be observed here.

  1. We have been given very specific Commandments (not suggestions) concerning what we must or must not do. The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) are among these. Since violating some or all of these precepts is what got us in trouble in the first place, it makes no sense to suggest that regeneration removes the penalty for future sin.
  2. Without Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5), so the very idea that I can add good works to faith is utter nonsense. This is the so-called filthy rags argument (Isaiah 64:5). However, reading the Isaiah passage in context shows that what is being decried here is man's sinfulness, not his good works. The good works are not condemned, it is the abandoning of them, to what they have become (deteriorated to). Good Works are not filthy, my feeble attempt at them is what is filthy. If Good Works are what I am called to by God, (Ephesians 2:10) how can I actually be offending God by observing them?
  3. With Christ's Grace, I can do all things. Calvinists argue that Grace is merely unmerited favor but the Bible clearly says otherwise. Grace is something given to us by God that makes us able to do His will.
    2COR 9:8 Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.

    Therefore, being equipped to do all things, and commanded to do all things, it is absurd to suggest that I would not be held accountable for doing all things.

Part VII: "Not of works" does not mean "Without works"

Calvinists assert that salvation is by faith alone and that works are no component of it whatsoever. There are perhaps a dozen or so scriptures that Calvinists will use to support this contention. Among their favorites is Ephesians 2:8-9;

2:8 For by grace* you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; 2:9 it is not from works, so no one may boast.

* (see part VI comments on 2Cor 9:8)
At face value, Calvinists make these verses seem to support exactly what they claim. How? By wrenching the passage from it's context and redefining the key words; Grace, faith and works.

First, let's examine the context;

2:1 You were dead in your transgressions and sin
2:2 in which you once lived following the age of this world, * following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.
2:3 All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.
2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us,
2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ * (by grace you have been saved),
2:6 raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
2:7 that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;
2:9 it is not from works, so no one may boast.
2:10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
The context is key. Let's work through it and I will explain how Calvinists actually define the words differently, to their own detriment.

2:1 You were dead in your transgressions and sin

That is, by your own works/deeds. Your choice to act in disobedience to God.

2:2 in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.
2:3 All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.

So, we used our own free will (a concept rejected by Calvinists) to live according to our own selfish desires.

2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us,

Mercy? What need is there for mercy if we were not justly condemned? and how could we be justly condemned if we were not culpable for our choices? and how can we be culpable for our choices if we did not have the ability to choose to make them or avoid making them?

If we are to be condemned for our wrong choices, does this not presuppose a natural ability to make the right choices?

This is where the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity comes apart at the seams. This doctrine suggests that man is totally depraved, incapable of any good thing. There is no difference between a Mother Theresa and an Adolph Hitler. No distinction between Ghandi and Nero. Curse your own lying eyes for suggesting otherwise. Unless you have formally accepted Christ as your Savior, you are evil through and through, irredeemable, indistinguishable from Hitler.

The view is so abberant that it is borderline cult theology. Certainly sin has deformed us and alienated us from God. However, total depravity theology makes us all little hitlers, incapable of anything but evil. Actually. on second thought, Orthodox Christianity demands the belief that even Hitler could have repented...even Judas!

Orthodox Christianity allows for the belief of only one totally depraved person; Anti-Christ. In fact, the very thought of a human being with zero contrition, zero empathy, zero compassion, zero genoursity, and zero love should be enough to make your skin crawl. This is what makes the idea of Anti-Christ so frightening.

The doctrine of Total depravity juxtaposes those traits on every unsaved person.

The assertion is absurd on it's face and turns the narrative of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) on it's ear. This is to say nothing of the fact that human beings, with simple observation, can see how ludicrous this doctrine is. All of you, in your life, have seen good and bad in every station of life.

Yes, all human beings have the capacity to choose bad but all, likewise, have the capacity to choose good. Only the damned lack this capacity. If man were totally depraved, he could not confess his sins, repent and choose Christ.

Catholic theology recognizes, in each person, both the light of God and the concupiscence of the flesh. Your salvation is decided by which of those two opposing forces becomes your master.

Remember, we are created in the image and likeness of God, not Satan.

So, tell me, Calvinists, how do you evangelize to a totally depraved person? Imagine trying to get a demon to accept Christ. There is a difference between an unsaved person and an unsavable person. A person who is totally depraved cannot feel remorse for he is so completely sociopathic as to worship himself.

2:6 raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
2:7 that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;
2:9 it is not from works, so no one may boast.
2:10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
Verses 2, 7 and 10 are so important in providing context and Paul is saying so much more here than our Calvinist friends suggest. The whole meaning of these verses can only be determined by how these words and phrases are defined. Catholics define them correctly, Calvinists do not.

First, Grace. A Calvinist offers that Grace means only unmerited favor. They offer that Grace is nothing more than God's disposition to save us- his kindness, if you will. Catholics offer that the Grace described here is something much more and misunderstanding that means misunderstanding the whole passage.

Grace is a thing, not a disposition to give a thing. Otherwise, verse 2:7 would literally be saying;
.....he might show the immeasurable riches of his kindness in his kindness.....

V7 clearly tells us that Grace is something given to us according to His kindness. It is not the kindness, itself. Grace is something we receive from God. Something that dwells inside us and, in which we are able to stand.

JN 1:16 From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,

JN 1:17 because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

ACTS 6:8 Now Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.

ACTS 11:23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart,

ACTS 13:43 After the congregation had dispersed, many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.

ACTS 15:11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they."

EPH 1:7 In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace

EPH 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

EPH 2:7 that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

EPH 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;

EPH 3:2 if, as I suppose, you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit,

EPH 3:7 Of this I became a minister by the gift of God's grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power.

EPH 3:8 To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,

EPH 4:7 But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.

EPH 4:29 No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
2:8 For by grace you have been saved

For by Grace.... Grace is what has saved you. So what is Grace? How does it save you? Grace is a supernatural substance, given to us by God. It Sanctifies us and removes sin and makes us stronger. In short, it makes us able to grow in holiness- something we cannot do of our own effort.

through faith,
Faith is the means by which you have received the Grace. Read it again. BY Grace, THROUGH faith. What is Faith? Is it just Verbal assent? This is what Calvinists say. However, you will see that that view does not hold up.

Now pay close attention...
and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;
2:9 it is not from works, so no one may boast.

Part VIII: The Gift of God

What is 'this'? What is 'it'? What is the gift of God? Salvation?

Calvinists offer that Salvation is what Paul refers to here as the free gift of God. If you accept that premise then they have the foot in the door of making you accept the premise that works bear nothing on our salvation.

However, what the Calvinists cleverly assert is not at all what this passage says. Follow the simple structure of the sentence.

2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; 2:9 it is not from works, so no one may boast.

Paul is simply stating. You have no cause to boast. You were saved by Grace and that Grace was given to you as a gift from God. You did nothing to earn it, you did nothing to deserve it. In fact, it is only by your disobedience that you need it in the first place.

That should, indeed, be cause for humility.

What Paul is addressing here is, indeed, the 'works' based salvation of the Jews who believed that they were saved by the works of the Mosaic law. In other words, their own efforts.

Were you saved by works? No, you were saved by GRACE through FAITH. Even those of the Old Covenant were saved by GRACE that they received through FAITH.

So, did this faith preclude the law? NO. It was demonstrated by adherence to the law, according to faith. The law didn't replace faith, it only demonstrated it.

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.
2:23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God."
2:24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Paul is not merely teaching that the animal sacrifices under the Mosaic law no longer have the power to save, in actuality, they never did. Those who were saved under the law, were not saved by the law. They were saved by Grace, through faith that was demonstrated by following the law. Some of the Jews were blinded, by their own haughtiness, into believing that it was their own holiness that was demonstrated by their adherence to the law. Their faith became placed on the law, rather than in the very person who the law pointed to, as the means of their salvation.

John 5:39 You search * the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf.
5:40 But you do not want to come to me to have life.

In the same way, Abraham would not have been saved by sacrificing Issac, even if he would have gone through with it. Issac's blood could not save him anymore than the blood of goats or bulls. However, it was Abraham's faith (proved by his works) that opened him up to the reception of Grace. That Grace was purchased at Calvary at great cost and transported to Abraham through time and space according to his faith.

Calvinists are confusing mere Verbal/Intellectual Assent with Saving Faith and they are two very different things. Again, Scripture tells us that;

[Abraham's] faith was active along with his works, and [his] faith was completed by the works.

The distinction Paul is making is between a work done as a humble submission to faith and a work done to demonstrate before men.

Jesus makes this distinction with crystal clarity.

Matthew 6:2 When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
The act of giving alms cannot save you. This is what Jesus meant when he said "they have received their reward". They did not give alms to please God but for their own self aggrandizement. Nevertheless, it is not the giving of alms that was their sin, it was their hypocrisy.

Giving alms is an objective good but they did it for evil purposes and robbed it of it's value.

Why should one give alms? To please God, to show compassion, to alleviate suffering. One should want to give alms in secret, if for no other reason, than to preserve the dignity of the receipient.
Giving alms in this manner is a demonstration of saving faith. This is why the Bible tells us that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). This verse makes no sense if you follow Calvinist theology.

How does love cover sin? Well, directly, it doesn't. Except that genuine love is an act of (proof of) faith and it is through faith that we are able to receive grace.

Here is a perfect example;

Luke 7:36 A Pharisee invited him to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.
7:37 Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
7:38 she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
7:39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner."
7:40 Jesus said to him in reply, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Tell me, teacher," he said.
7:41 "Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days' wages * and the other owed fifty.
7:42 Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?"
7:43 Simon said in reply, "The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven." He said to him, "You have judged rightly."
7:44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
7:45 You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
7:46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.
7:47 So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. * But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
7:48 He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
7:49 The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
7:50 But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Nowhere in this discourse are we told that she prayed the sinner's prayer. She did not have to. Her tears came from a truly broken and contrite heart and her actions were truly done in faith. Was it the perfume that saved her? Certainly not. Her faith saved her because it was genuine saving faith. She emptied herself out and her love covered her multitude of sins.

Saving Faith requires action. Good works are not the nullification of faith, they are the proof of it!
When you do what is right, you are not trusting your own efforts, you are allowing Christ to work within you. Good Works are an act of surrender to Christ. What could be more a demonstration of faith then to abandon your own will, in favor of His?

Part IX: Can a compelling case be made for the doctrine of total depravity?

In a word, no.

Let's address one of the verses Calvinists point to.

2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
This verse actually refutes Calvinist thinking because it does not indicate Christ placing His righteousness in our place. On the contrary, this verse indicates an actual change of state Christ brings about within us, not a cover He throws over us.

were dead, WE were brought to life. Yet, our death was a relative death and not a complete death, per se. I know it may seem strange to think of death in degrees. If it helps, think of cement. If you make a mistake in pouring cement, you have a short amount of time to make it right. However, once the cement hardens, the cast is set.

We cannot be totally dead to Christ until our rejection of Christ is sealed by our physical death. As long as we retain the ability to choose Christ and repent, we cannot be said to be totally depraved. We always (as long as we are alive) have at least some capacity to cooperate with, or reject, God's saving grace.

There can be no doubt that Mortal (deadly) sin causes a degree of spiritual death- a separation from God. Yes, you can even say a depravity, to greater or lesser degree.

That that separated link must be restored, by an act of repentance on our own part, is a simple matter of Biblical fact.

1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray.
5:17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.
Yet, this is where imputation theology breaks down and these verses are at the heart of why Calvinist theology is heretical.

Imputationist Calvin theology first fails to recognize the difference between deadly (mortal) sin and non-deadly (venial) sin. Second, it fails to recognize the degrees to which a person, who has committed mortal sin, retains enough of the light of God in them to turn away from that sin and back to God.

Calvinism suggest that a totally dead person can cast off his deadness by accepting Christ. This argument is a complete contravention of itself.

The ability to accept Christ comes from Christ. Since Christ is the ultimate good, accepting Christ is the ultimate good work because it is (Calvinist protestations notwithstanding) an affirmative act of the human will.

Part X: What of Predestination?

The Calvinists' misunderstanding of the concept of predestination really compounds their difficulty in understanding Salvation and reinforces their misguided belief in the lack of human free will in accepting and following Christ in faith.

Flowing from this misguided view of Predestination are two key supports of Calvinistic TULIP platform. We have already discussed the 'T' (Total depravity) but we must address the, frankly, blasphemous, doctrines represented by the "U" (unconditional election) and the "L" (limited atonement). These views are actually so blasphemous and heretical that I fear I will be accused of ascribing to Calvinists views that they do not have. Therefore, I will provide the quotes directly from the website of The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics.

Once again, because I am certain that I will be accused of misrepresenting the Calvinist positions, I will quote one of their own leaders;

Unconditional Election is the doctrine which states that God chose those whom he was pleased to bring to a knowledge of himself, not based upon any merit shown by the object of his grace and not based upon his looking forward to discover who would "accept" the offer of the gospel. God has elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory and others for damnation (Romans 9:15,21). He has done this act before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4-8).
It is difficult to aprehend the fact that there are Christians who actually believe such blasphemy. My guess is that most people who call themselves Calvinists or proponents of reformed theology would be aghast at the thought that God is in heaven creating baby souls for the expressed purpose of burning them in hell. Does this not counter Matthew 18:12-14?

Ah, but let's look at the "L".

Limited Atonement is a doctrine offered in answer to the question, "for whose sins did Christ atone?" The Bible teaches that Christ died for those whom God gave him to save (John 17:9). Christ died, indeed, for many people, but not all (Matthew 26:28). Specifically, Christ died for the invisible Church -- the sum total of all those who would ever rightly bear the name "Christian" (Ephesians 5:25).
Again, the Calvinist belief runs 100% counter to scripture.

LK 2:10 The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

ROM 6:10 As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.

2COR 5:14 For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died.

2COR 5:15 He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

I am continually struck by the irony by which Calvinists refer to themselves as Bible Christians since so little of what they profess is biblical. The Biblical concept of Predestination (Romans 8:29-30) speaks of the assurance that the chosen are set on the path to glory. This is because it is God's intention that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Predestination states that there are two paths you can choose and each has a Predetermined destination.

Part XI: Why Predestination is so foundational to Imputationist theology.

If we are predestined for heaven or hell, before the foundation of the world, we are really only pawns in a huge cosmic game played out by God.

This theology would make our choices irrelevant and evangelism would be folly. Predestination ignores that Billy is good and Susie is bad. All that matters is that God chose Susie for heaven and Billy for hell. justice doesn't matter, sin doesn't matter, mercy doesn't matter.

Imputation actually suggests that Christ's blood covers your sin (like paint) rather than removing it. This makes sense under a predestination scheme. If God isn't particularly worried about Susie's sin, just getting her to heaven by any means, He simply slaps on a coat of paint and beams her up.

Of course, Jesus told us different;

Matthew 5:3
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,*
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

5:4 * Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

5:5 * Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.

5:6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, *
for they will be satisfied.

5:7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

5:8 * Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.

5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

5:10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of
righteousness, *
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

5:11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.
5:12 * Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

In order to beleive in Predestination, as defined by Calvinists, Matthew Chapter 5 must be ripped from your Bible.

Who will see heaven? The poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the righteousness seekers, the merciful, the clean of heart, the persecuted and slandered.

In other words, those who don't merely accept Christ in word but emulate Him in life!

Unless salvation is a Divine lottery, all of Calvinism crashes under it's own heretical weight.

Part XII: But how can we live to God's perfect standard?

We can't, and I never suggested we could. Further, the Bible never suggests that either.
Yet, though the Bible tells us that sin causes a spiritual death, Grace brings life.

It is ironic that Calvinists often accuse Catholics of believing in a weak Jesus, yet they, themselves, deny the power of Christ's blood to remove sin.

RC Sproul;

......The Bible speaks figuratively about the sin being washed, cleansed, healed, and blotted out. The sin, which is scarlet, may become white as snow, the crimson may become like wool, in God's sight. The sin may be cast into the sea of forgetfulness or purged with hyssop. But these images describe an expiation for sin and divine forgiveness or remission of our sin. Our record does not change, but our guilt does. Hence Paul declares, "Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin" (Romans 4:8 NKJV)........

This of course flies in the face of what the Bible teaches;

PS 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us.

Imputation theology falls because it fails to recognize Justification for what it really is- a person actually becoming Justified, not merely grafting on to Christ's Justification. Rather than Justification merely being something Christ does for the sinner, it is something he does through the sinner. Jesus doesn't merely declare a sinner just, He makes him so. What Calvinists actually propose is that Christ declares an unjust man just. Christ cannot do that because it is not within Him to lie. Therefore, only the Catholic model makes sense.

Under the Catholic model, We are redeemed by Christ's death on Calvary, we are sanctifyed by receiving and persevering in God's Grace and, at the end of our lives we are declared Justified before God and saved.

Redemption is the work of Christ, without which Salvation isn't possible. Grace is what was purchased by His redemption. Sanctification is the process by which Grace removes our sin, strengthens us and makes us saints. Justification is the ultimate result. We are declared just before God.

ROM 3:24 They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus

Once again, some will say that I am advocating works based salvation and impugning the clear meaning of the text that we are freely Justified by Grace through redemption.

Yet, the other verse said we are Saved by Grace through Faith.

Which is it? Are we Saved or Justified? Is it through Faith or is through Redemption?

The obvious answer here is that Paul is breaking it down for your understanding. Try as you might, you cannot navigate through this dilemma until you accept the fact that Salvation is not something Christ does to us but something He does through us.

Is Christ the author of our Salvation? You bet. Does He get all the credit? You better believe it. Can we do it on our own? No way in the world.

Yet, the way God saves us not only allows for our cooperation, it compels it.

In this, Calvinists see contradiction but Catholics see only paradox. Calvinists say that only a weak Jesus needs our help to save us.

Was it a weak Jesus that saved the world through a boat made by Noah's hands?

Was it a weak Jesus who saved the Israelites from the Egyptians through the staff of a shepherd?

Was it a weak Jesus who brought down the Giant through the sling of young David?

Was it a weak Jesus who crushed the walls of Jericho beneath the trumpet blasts of Joshua's men?

Was it a weak Jesus who used God's hand maiden to bring us the Savior?

Did God need the help of any of these people? No. Therefore, the weak Jesus argument is a vain and silly straw man constructed by fleshy Calvinist minds. What God can and cannot do is clearly not the issue because He is clearly able to do anything. Anything, that is, except violate His own nature.

It is necessary that we participate in our own salvation because to not do so is to reject the Sovereign will of God which is the very thing that makes our salvation necessary in the first place. In acknowledging that our salvation is God's free gift, do we repay His kindness with the same beligerance as before? Wouldn't it make sense that, having freed the slave, God would desire that he not get ensnared again? If God did not desire such a thing, He is not Just. If God lacks the ability to bring it about, He is not Omnipotent.

Yet, God cannot abide in sin, nor can He violate the free will of man. He can only redeem he who is willing to be redeemed and he can only forgive he who is willing to repent.

Try as you might, you simply cannot escape the fact that, in each day and in each decision lies the choice of man to reject God's will or embrace it. Therefore, there is no contradiction between God's disposition to offer His Grace freely, and our choice whether to receive it and cooperate with it or reject it and forever separate ourselves from God. Obviously, this assent or rejection, will be faced repeatedly and must extend beyond mere words to actions.

Calvinists, as I stated earlier, reject this on the alleged grounds that they give God all of the credit and the glory rather than we who (supposedly) give the credit and glory to men.

They forget two crucial things.

  1. God gets the glory either way. For I cannot do His will without the grace He gives me and I cannot do His will without glorifying Him.
  2. Giving Him empty glory is lip service that does not impress Him.

    MK 7:6 He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me
Does this violate faith? No, it confirms it. Because if you more than just talk faith, you walk faith, you cling to the blessed assurance of that faith until it's conclusion;

ACTS 20:24 Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God's grace.

PHIL 1:6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Part XIII: But what of the good thief on the cross?

Good question.

Luke 23:39 * Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us."
23:40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?
23:41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal."
23:42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
23:43 He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Calvinists will say this man did nothing except give a verbal assent of faith. Oh really?

On the contrary. The first thief was mocking Jesus. The second knew better. The second thief knew who Christ was but He accepted His own suffering as the just punishment for his own crimes. He did not plead with Christ to remove him from the cross, though he knew Jesus had the power to do so.

His was a supreme act of faith. I know I am a sinner and I accept the consequence I have been given. His only request to Jesus was "Remember me".

In short, the good thief, in the most literal way imaginable, lived out Christ's admonition;

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me

Part XIV: Earning salvation or working it out?

Absent an understanding of this fundamental, scriptural truth, one cannot understand salvation.
Catholics understand that there are certain things that we must do simply because we must do them. There are other things we must do because love and faith compel us to respond. There are other things we do in order that we may better know God and do His will or bring others to His saving faith. These things are all salvific, not in and of themselves, but in and of the faith that motivates them. To refer to these things as attempting to earn salvation is just silly. One does not seek extra credit in doing the things they are compelled to do.

Christ commands these things, therefore we are compelled to do them. It is the difference between a Jesus who is Savior only and one that is Lord and Savior. If Christ is Lord, He must be obeyed. For one must understand the difference between the mere remission of sin and the totality of discipleship. Accepting Christ's Grace to change what I am is all well and good, so long as I don't keep becoming what I was and fail to become what I should be. The cost of discipleship means not just the rejection of old things but the embrace of new things.

Among these things are bearing hardships that life may give us. Enduring trials and fighting our own sinfulness. Far from Salvation being a single act of profession, it is a lifelong process to be worked out with the upmost seriousness and perseverance.

Phillipians 2:12 So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
Matthew 24:13 But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.
Matthew 13:13 You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

1COR 15:2 Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
The Calvinist notion that salvation is something that cannot be lost is hogwash. A Calvinist will say of himself "I have been saved". A Catholic will say of himself "I have been saved, I am being saved and I will be saved".

Part XV: I have been saved, I am being saved, I will be saved.

"Once saved, always saved" flies in the face of scripture. Only by reducing the concept of faith/belief to mean a verbal or intellectual assent (something scripture never actually prescribes) can one purge the commandments of God from God's salvific work.

However, there is just one problem. It is the rejection of God's Commandments that made your salvation necessary in the first place.

If sinning put you under the wrath of God, how can committing the same sin not put you, again, under the wrath of God? If God would be just in condemning you for murder before you were saved, He would be unjust for not condemning you all the more after you have come to the knowledge of His saving faith. If, knowing the truth, you do the same thing, you are all the more guilty...not less. That's just simple logic.

However, if you won't accept a logical argument, perhaps you'll be persuaded by Biblical arguments.

2 Peter 2:1 There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.
2:2 Many will follow their licentious ways, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled.
2:3 In their greed they will exploit you with fabrications, but from of old their condemnation has not been idle and their destruction does not sleep.

2:4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but condemned them to the chains of Tartarus and handed them over to be kept for judgment;
2:5 and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, together with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the godless world;
2:6 and if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (to destruction), reducing them to ashes, making them an example for the godless (people) of what is coming;
2:7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man oppressed by the licentious conduct of unprincipled people
2:8 (for day after day that righteous man living among them was tormented in his righteous soul at the lawless deeds that he saw and heard),
2:9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the devout from trial and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,
2:10 and especially those who follow the flesh with its depraved desire and show contempt for lordship.
Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to revile glorious beings,

2:11 * whereas angels, despite their superior strength and power, do not bring a reviling judgment against them from the Lord.
2:12 But these people, like irrational animals born by nature for capture and destruction, revile things that they do not understand, and in their destruction they will also be destroyed,
2:13 suffering wrong as payment for wrongdoing. Thinking daytime revelry a delight, they are stains and defilements as they revel in their deceits while carousing with you.
2:14 Their eyes are full of adultery and insatiable for sin. They seduce unstable people, and their hearts are trained in greed. Accursed children!
2:15 Abandoning the straight road, they have gone astray, following the road of Balaam, the son of Bosor, * who loved payment for wrongdoing,
2:16 but he received a rebuke for his own crime: a mute beast spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet's madness.
2:17 These people are waterless springs and mists driven by a gale; for them the gloom of darkness has been reserved.
2:18 For, talking empty bombast, they seduce with licentious desires of the flesh those who have barely escaped * from people who live in error.
2:19 They promise them freedom, though they themselves are slaves of corruption, for a person is a slave of whatever overcomes him.
2:20 For if they, having escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of (our) Lord and savior Jesus Christ, again become entangled and overcome by them, their last condition is worse than their first.
2:21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment handed down * to them.
2:22 * What is expressed in the true proverb has happened to them, "The dog returns to its own vomit," and "A bathed sow returns to wallowing in the mire."

Part XVI: Never saved to begin with?

These are not, as Calvinists argue, people who were never saved to begin with. At least by the Calvinist formula. These are people who abandoned the right way and fell back into the depravity of sin. To argue another interpretation is to make a mockery of the plain face of the text. Yet, here, Calvinists try and make that claim and get ensnared in their own tautology.

In assigning a ridiculously simplistic interpretation of the requirements of Salvation to verses like the following;
Romans 10:9 for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
You actually create a situation where not having been saved is virtually impossible. Indeed, if you believe that Confessing Jesus' Lordship with your mouth and assenting to the historical truth of the ressurection are sufficient for salvation, even the demons would be saved!

The demons acknowledge His Lordship, they just refuse to submit to it. The questions that arise from the they were never saved tautology are;

  • How could anyone mess up something so easy?
  • If their Salvation didn't take, how do you know yours did?

Take the case of Christian singer Ray Boltz.

Here, in his own song, Boltz espouses the view of Sola Fide quite plainly...

He said "Friend, you may not know me now",
then he said "but wait",
"You used to teach my Sunday school,
I was only 8".
"each day, you would say a prayer, before the class would start"
"one day, when you said that prayer, I asked Jesus in my heart".
Boltz was openly embraced by Calvinists as a saved and committed Christian. That is until he came out of the closest and declared himself a homosexual.

Expositors of Once saved, always saved theology have to reconcile Boltz's professed Christianity with his professed homosexuality. The two are incompatible.

The story of Ray Boltz, however sad, refutes Sola Fide and Once saved, always saved theology for the Bible is crystal clear on this matter;

LEV 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals
6:10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Some will say that Boltz is still saved because he confessed Jesus as Lord according to Romans 10:9. The problem with assigning this type of interpretation is that you put Paul at variance with Paul...and in the same epistle, no less!

2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified.
Herein lies the greatest failure of Calvinism. Calvinism simply cannot reconcile God's mercy with God's justice. It simply erases the latter with the former. This is a logical and mystical impossibility. For without Justice there can be no mercy. Witholding deserved punishment from a penitent sinner is mercy but witholding punishment from an unrepentent sinner is injustice. God cannot violate His own justice. If Ray Boltz dies in his intransigence, his soul will be lost because he has given himself over to unrepentance and set himself in enmity with God.

Part XVII: Works of the law vs Good Works, Moral law vs Mosaic law.

In as much as Calvinists want to believe easy religion, verses like Romans 2:13 make it impossible to do so. Yet, the lure of simple, uncomplicated salvation is just too strong and they just don't want to let it go. Therefore, they read verses like Romans 10:9 and Ephesians 2:8-9 over and over until they convince themselves that those verses really say what they so desperatly want them to say.

  • Salvation is painless.
  • Salvation is effortless.
  • I can have my Salvation and still enjoy the sinful pleasures of earth.

It is this selfishness, and not some Scriptural construct, that makes Calvinists cling to "Once saved, always saved". Oh, don't get me wrong, it's not that someone could not honestly misinterpret Romans 10:9 or Ephesians 2:8-9. Afterall, the Apostle Peter tells us that parts of Paul's letters are difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16).

I do not deny that, to the naked eye, these verses (for example) can seem to set Paul against Paul;

Romans 2:7 eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,

Romans 3:28 For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

In the same way, these two citations can also seem to be in contradiction;

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 5:18 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

Romans 6:14 For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.
Calvinists dishonestly define works as all works and the law as all of the law. In doing so, they must cast Romans 2:7 aside and embrace the other two verses as freedom from all law and all works, as it pertains to salvation. That is not freedom, that is license.

To interpret Romans 3:28 as abolishing all good works (including works of mercy and charity) and Romans 6:14 as abolishing the Moral law (including the 10 Commandments) is blasphemy.

Romans 6:14 refers to the law of Moses and Romans 3:28 refers to the works of the law of Moses. It is referring to the Old Covenant Sacrificial system that was followed in anticipation of Jesus. That means of Salvation is no longer in practice because, through Christ's redemptive work, we have now received Grace in place of the law of Moses.

John 1:15 John testified to him and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'"
1:16 From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,
1:17 because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Part XVIII: The sin of presumption

"Once saved, always saved" argues that future sins are included in God's forgiveness, by the power of the sacrifice of the cross. This is impossible. God's justice demands obedience. Deliberate disobedience rightfully incurs God's wrath because He is a just God. Mercy requires repentance and repentance cannot be felt pre-emptively.

Here is where Calvinists like to accuse Catholics of believing in a ''weak'' Jesus, as if Jesus strength is best demonstrated by how many times He allows Himself to be mocked.

Some Calvinists contend that if you question the right of the saved to sin as much as they possibly can, you are casting aspertions on the sufficiency of Christ's atonement. This is, without question, one of the silliest and crudely constructed straw men in the history of rhetoric. This is like suggesting that the prosecution of arsonists casts slurs on the competency of fire fighters.

I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul;

Romans 6:1 * What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may abound? Of course not!
6:2 How can we who died to sin yet live in it?
6:3 Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
6:4 We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.
6:5 For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
6:7 For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
6:8 If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
6:9 We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.
6:10 As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.
6:11 Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as (being) dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.
6:12 * Therefore, sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires.
6:13 And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness.
6:14 For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.
6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not!
6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
6:17 But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.*
6:18 Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.
6:19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature. For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawless ness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.*
6:21 But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
6:22 But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, * and its end is eternal life.
6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Others will contend that, once a person has been saved, they simply cannot be given over to serious sin. This is the Calvinist doctrine of irresistable Grace. This, of course, is also complete and utter nonsense, refuted by a great many Calvinist hypocrites I have known in my life and, more importantly, by the passages above that are highlighted in red. Clearly, The Apostle Paul did not believe his flock was immune to backsliding.
It is amusing though. First, they claim they are free from the power of sin. Then, when you point out their sins, they claim that they don't matter anyway because they will be getting to heaven via Christ's completed work at Calvary. In other words, because Christ completed His work, I have no need to complete mine?

Of course, Jesus Christ said no such thing. Calvinists claim that Jesus took our place in total. He suffered in my place in total. His completed work was done in my place in total. His death was in my place in total. It was all in my place in total. He paid the price in full so I don't have to pay anything. All I have to do is accept His completed work. Nevermind that this is an affront to Scripture;
Matthew 10:38 and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

John 15:20 Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

1COR 4:12 and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;

2TM 3:12 In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Collosians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church,

Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
1COR 3:15 But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.

Phillipians 1:29 For to you has been granted, for the sake of Christ, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him.

Phillipians 3:10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,

Not only is that at complete opposition to Scripture, it defies our own eyes!

I don't know a single Calvinist who has escaped suffering or work and I know not one that will escape death. So, if Jesus worked, suffered and died in my place in total, I got a raw deal.

It didn't work so well for the Apostles and Martyrs either.

So, salvation by imputation collapses under it's own weight.

Of course, absent Christ's suffering, work and death, my suffering, work and death is worthless. Even if I could have willingly gone through the suffering and death Jesus suffered (and I know for certain that I could not), it would not have been sufficient to blot out even one of my mortal sins.
Calvinism is impotent to explain why we must work, suffer and die, when they claim that Jesus did so in our place. Do they believe in a weak Jesus?.... or have they missed something?

Yes. They have missed the entire reason that Jesus was baptized, that He suffered and that He died. It is because He- the God Man - was baptized, suffered and died, that baptism, suffering and death have any value. Otherwise, we would still be baptized, suffer and die....and then go to hell.

For good people who have had unimaginably difficult lives, this is a monstrous thought.

In Jesus, they have hope that cannot be quenched because this miserable world is not the final answer.

Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan river. Because of this, Baptism is a supernatural event. Jesus suffered, so, when we suffer patiently for Him, we are united to His sufferings. Jesus died and rose again so, that through death, we may rise again to eternal glory.

Did He remove our death? No. He removed death's victory over us, if we die in His friendship.

1COR 15:55 Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
Jesus death was not intended to make our life painless and our salvation easy. Jesus death means that our life is not hopeless and salvation is possible. I have many friends who are Protestants who I believe will be saved because they truly love Jesus and seek to serve Him in all ways. However, I have little patience for some of the Calvinist hypocrites I have encountered, who believe that Jesus owes them a painless life and a free, effortless sail to heaven.

Jesus owes you nothing. You owe Him everything.