Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #12: “We Are Justified All At Once”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist begins his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ arguments that believers are justified “all at once.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that people must diligently work their entire life attempting to merit their salvation. Catholics hope that following their death they may be able to stand justified before God based upon their baptism and subsequent reception of their church’s sacraments and their obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. Catholics contend that they must become intrinsically/subjectively holier and sanctified in order to merit Heaven. In marked contrast, Gospel Christians believe that a person is justified at the moment they repent (turn from their rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The moment a person trusts in Jesus Christ as their Savior, His perfect righteousness is imputed to them and they are extrinsically/objectively/forensically justified by His righteousness alone. Gospel Christians then follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly. Broussard offers Romans 5:10 as an example of a verse that Gospel Christians use to defend their belief:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the above verse, Paul was summarizing his example of Abraham in Romans 4 as one who “believed (Greek πιστεύω pisteúō – “put one’s faith in, trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow”) God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

Broussard then counters with the following proof-texts with which he alleges that justification is a process rather than a moment in time:

Romans 2:13: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”

Romans 6:16: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Galatians 5:5: “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”

James 2:21-23: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”

Those verses/passages do not befuddle Gospel Christians. Ephesians 2:8-10 succinctly presents the correct correlation between faith and works:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Obedience and charity are the fruit/verification of genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, but not the basis of salvation. A person who has genuinely repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone WILL bear evidential fruit. It’s vitally important to know that when Roman Catholics speak of “faith,” they are referring to faith in their clerics and their institutional church and its sacramental-works system, they are NOT referring to faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

For examples in the Bible of people who were saved in a conversion moment, think of the thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43. Think of the publican in Jesus’s parable in Luke 18:9-14. Think of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:9), “Today salvation has come to this house,” and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), and the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:25-34), and the apostle Paul (Acts 9:20). Those souls did NOT go through a year of RCIA, learning the complicated details of a legalistic religious system, but genuinely repented of their sin and placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior in a moment. A genuine conversion does not entail accepting Christ as Savior daily, over and over and over again. True conversion in Christ is by necessity a moment in time, being born-again in Christ Jesus. It is NOT a lifelong process of toil, failure, and imperfect, sin-tainted works.

Martin Luther rightly argued that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. Not just Roman Catholics, but pseudo-Christians of all other works-righteousness denominational stripes cherry-pick verses from the Bible to support their view of merited justification and salvation. How can they miss the Gospel of grace? We think of Jesus’s words in Matthew 13:10-15, “You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

Catholic apologist Broussard’s passionate arguments for a process of intrinsic justification and merited salvation SHOULD BE a red flag for all ecumenically-minded evangelicals who misguidedly embrace the RCC as a Christian entity.

In this short post, I could never do proper justice to this all-important topic. For more information, see the articles below:

Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works?
https://www.gotquestions.org/salvation-faith-alone.html

What is justification?
https://www.gotquestions.org/justification.html

Please pray for Roman Catholics, that they will see their desperate need for the Savior, Jesus Christ, rather than attempting to merit their justification and salvation, as they are taught by their church.

Next up: “Not Because of Works”

27 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #12: “We Are Justified All At Once”

  1. LOL, Romanists and their sophistry…however, these people disagree with Karlo:

    Clement of Rome (fl. 96 AD): Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ANF: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 32.

    John Chrysostom (349-407) on Romans 3:27: For if even before this, the circumcision was made uncircumcision, much rather was it now, since it is cast out from both periods. But after saying that “it was excluded,” he shows also, how. How then does he say it was excluded? “By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.” See he calls the faith also a law delighting to keep to the names, and so allay the seeming novelty. But what is the “law of faith?” It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 7, vs. 27.

    John Chrysostom (349-407): For he makes a wide distinction between ‘commandments’ and ‘ordinances.’ He either then means ‘faith,’ calling that an ‘ordinance,’ (for by faith alone He saved us,) or he means ‘precept,’ such as Christ gave, when He said, ‘But I say unto you, that ye are not to be angry at all.’ (Matthew 5:22.) That is to say, ‘If thou shalt believe that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ (Romans 10:6-9.) And again, ‘The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart. Say not, Who shall ascend into heaven, or who shall descend into the abyss?’ or, who hath ‘brought. Him again from the dead?’ Instead of a certain manner of life, He brought in faith. For that He might not save us to no purpose, He both Himself underwent the penalty, and also required of men the faith that is by doctrines. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on Ephesians, Homly 5, Ephesians 2:11,12.

    John Chrysostom (349-407): Let us see, however, whether the brigand gave evidence of effort and upright deeds and a good yield. Far from his being able to claim even this, he made his way into paradise before the apostles with a mere word, on the basis of faith alone, the intention being for you to learn that it was not so much a case of his sound values prevailing as the Lord’s lovingkindness being completely responsible. Robert Charles Hill, trans., St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis (Boston: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2004) Sermon 7, p. 123. These sermons were delivered by Chrysostom in Antioch during Lent of 386 (see p. 3).

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 2:12http://www.logos.com/images/Corporate/LibronixLink_dark.png: For if the law is given not for the righteous but for the unrighteous, whoever does not sin is a friend of the law. For him faith alone is the way by which he is made perfect. For others mere avoidance of evil will not gain them any advantage with God unless they also believe in God, so that they may be righteous on both counts. For the one righteousness is temporal; the other is eternal. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 65.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:24http://www.logos.com/images/Corporate/LibronixLink_dark.png: They are justified freely because they have not done anything nor given anything in return, but by faith alone they have been made holy by the gift of God. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 101.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:27: Paul tells those who live under the law that they have no reason to boast basing themselves on the law and claiming to be of the race of Abraham, seeing that no one is justified before God except by faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 103.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), commenting on 1 Cor. 1:4bhttp://www.logos.com/images/Corporate/LibronixLink_dark.png: God has decreed that a person who believes in Christ can be saved without works. By faith alone he receives the forgiveness of sins. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VII: 1-2 Corinthians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 6.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 1:11http://www.logos.com/images/Corporate/LibronixLink_dark.png: For the mercy of God had been given for this reason, that they should cease from the works of the law, as I have often said, because God, taking pity on our weaknesses, decreed that the human race would be saved by faith alone, along with the natural law. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 23.

    Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): [As the Apostle says,] Let him who boasts boast in the Lord, [I say that] Christ has been made by God for us righteousness, wisdom, justification, [and] redemption, that, as it is written, “he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.” [For] this is perfect and pure boasting in God, when one is not proud on account of his own righteousness but knows that he is indeed unworthy of the true righteousness and is (or has been, δεδικαιωμένον, perfect passive participle, accusative, masculine of δικαιόω) justified solely by faith in Christ. See Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, trans. Fred Kramer (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971), p. 505.

    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Romans 3:22-23: He (Paul) briefly showed all to be guilty and in need of grace. Justified gratuitously by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (v.24): bringing faith alone, we received the forgiveness of sins, since Christ the Lord offered his own body as a kind of ransom for us. Whom God put forward as a mercy seat by his blood effective through faith (v.25). The mercy seat was of gold leaf, situated on the ark; on either side it had the carvings of the cherubim. From there God’s benevolence was revealed to the high priest as he ministered. The divine apostle, then, teaches that Christ the Lord is the true mercy seat: the old one had the function of a type of the latter. Now, the title belongs to him as a man, not as God: as God he gave a response through the mercy seat, while as man he receives this name as he does others, like sheep, lamb, sin, curse and suchlike. Whereas the old mercy seat was without blood, insofar as it was lifeless, and drops of the blood of the victims fell on it, Christ the Lord is God and mercy seat, high priesnt and lamb, and with his blood worked our salvation, requiring from us only faith. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 1 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 64.

    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Ephesians 2:8-9: By grace, in fact, you are saved through faith(v.8): the grace of God regaled us with these good things; we had only faith to offer, but divine grace worked with it. He went on in this vein: This is no doing of yours: it is the gift of God, not from works lest anyone boast (vv.8-9): we have not believed of our own volition; rather we made our approach when called, and when we did he did not require of us purity of life―instead, he accepted faith alone and granted us forgiveness of sins. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 39.

    Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67) on Matthew 9: This was forgiven by Christ through faith, because the Law could not yield, for faith alone justifies. Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 57, No. 4, October 2006 published by Cambridge University Press. D. H. Williams, pg. 658

    Ambrose (c. 339-97): Ye behold the mysteries, ye behold the grace of Christ, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is conferred in some sort fortuitously; forasmuch as every one is not justified by the Lord by reason of his works, but by reason of faith. George Finch, A Sketch of the Romish Controversy (London: G. Norman, 1831), p. 220.

    Augustine (354-430): Although it can be said that God’s commandments pertain to faith alone, if it is not a dead [faith], but rather understood as that live faith, which works through love. See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 361 for translation.

    Theodoret of Cyyrhus on Rom 1:17: The righteousness of God is not revealed to everyone but only to those with the eyes of faith. For the holy apostle teaches us that God foresaw this for us from the beginning and predicted it through the prophets, and even before the prophets, had it hidden in his secret will.

    Paul quoted Habakkuk for the benefit of the Jews, because he wanted to teach them not to cling to the provisions of the law but to follow the prophets. For many centuries before they had predicted that one day there would be salvation by faith alone.

    Then departing from his admonition to the Jews, he accuses everyone else of having brazenly departed from the natural law which the Creator had placed in them. For when God made them, he did nor allow them to live like beasts bur honored them with reason and gave them the ability to know the difference between good and evil. Those who lived righteous lives before the time of Moses confirm this by their witness. Interpretation of the letter to the Romans. IER, Migne PG 82 col. 57-60, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Romans, InterVarsity Press, 2014, ed Gerald L. Bray, Pg 31

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  2. Why was Abraham righteous? What does scripture say?

    Gen 15:6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

    Also in Romans 4 and Gal 3.

    John Chrysostom (349-407): The patriarch Abraham himself before receiving circumcision had been declared righteous on the score of faith alone: before circumcision, the text says, “Abraham believed God, and credit for it brought him to righteousness.” Fathers of the Church, Vol. 82, Homilies on Genesis 18-45, 27.7 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1990), p. 167.

    John Chrysostom (349-407) : They said that he who kept not the Law was cursed, but he proves that he who kept it was cursed, and he who kept it not, blessed. Again, they said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed. And how does he prove all this? for it is no common thing which we have promised; wherefore it is necessary to give close attention to what follows. He had already shown this, by referring to the words spoken to the Patriarch, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed,’ (Genesis 12:4.) at a time, that is, when Faith existed, not the Law. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Commentary on Galatians, 3:8.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:5: How then can the Jews think that they have been justified by the works of the law in the same way as Abraham, when they see that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law but by faith alone? Therefore there is no need of the law when the ungodly is justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 112.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:6 , ‘righteousness apart from works’: Paul backs this up by the example of the prophet David, who says that those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 113.

    Oecumenius (6th century), commenting on James 2:23: Abraham is the image of someone who is justified by faith alone, since what he believed was credited to him as righteousness. But he is also approved because of his works, since he offered up his son Isaac on the altar. Of course he did not do this work by itself; in doing it, he remained firmly anchored in his faith, believing that through Isaac his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 33. See PG 119:481.

    Jerome (347-420): For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed in God. So great was the faith of Abraham, that both his former sins were forgiven him, and it alone was declared to be accepted above all righteousness. Afterward, he burned with great love, that he prepared himself for the performance of all good works. And it was imputed unto him for righteousness. Therefore he hath glory with God, according to that which the law approved. Now to him, who worketh, is the reward reckoned, not of grace, but of debt. For it is the part of a debtor to do things which are commanded: and; unless he obeys, he is condemned. But, if he does them, he has no glory: for he still is called an unprofitable servant, who does nothing more than is commanded. Righteousness is not given unto him freely: but a reward is paid for his former works. But to him, who worketh not but believeth on him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is imputed for righteousness. When an ungodly man is converted, God justifies him through faith alone, not on account of good works which he possessed not: otherwise, on account of his deeds of ungodliness, he ought to have been punished. Observe: he doth not say, that a sinner is justified through faith, but an ungodly man; that is, one who hath lately become a believer, according to the purpose of the grace of God: who purposed to forgive sins freely through faith alone. For translation, see George Stanley Faber, The Primitive Doctrine of Justification (London: R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837), pp. 120-121.

    Jerome (347-420) : Being justified therefore from faith. The matter having been handled, that no one is justified from works, but all from faith; which he proves by the example of Abraham whose sons the Jews deemed themselves exclusively: he shows by argument, that neither descent nor circumcision, but faith alone, makes sons of Abraham, who from faith alone was first justified. Which argument being concluded, he exhorts them to have peace: because no one by his own merit, but all equally by the grace of God, are saved. For translation, see George Stanley Faber, The Primitive Doctrine of Justification (London: R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837), p. 122.

    Jerome (347-420) commenting on Galatians 3:6: Abraham believed in God: and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. Thus likewise to you faith alone is sufficient for righteousness. For translation, see George Stanley Faber, The Primitive Doctrine of Justification (London: R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837), p. 122.

    Bede (672/673-735), commenting on Paul and James: Although the apostle Paul preached that we are justified by faith without works, those who understand by this that it does not matter whether they live evil lives or do wicked and terrible things, as long as they believe in Christ, because salvation is through faith, have made a great mistake. James here expounds how Paul’s words ought to be understood. This is why he uses the example of Abraham, whom Paul also used as an example of faith, to show that the patriarch also performed good works in the light of his faith. It is therefore wrong to interpret Paul in such a way as to suggest that it did not matter whether Abraham put his faith into practice or not. What Paul meant was that no one obtains the gift of justification on the basis of merits derived from works performed beforehand, because the gift of justification comes only from faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament XI: James, 1-2Peter, 1-3 John, Jude(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 31.

    Augustine (354-430) : Not so our father Abraham. This passage of scripture is meant to draw our attention to the difference. We confess that the holy patriarch was pleasing to God; this is what our faith affirms about him. So true is it that we can declare and be certain that he did have grounds for pride before God, and this is what the apostle tells us. It is quite certain, he says, and we know it for sure, that Abraham has grounds for pride before God. But if he had been justified by works, he would have had grounds for pride, but not before God. However, since we know he does have grounds for pride before God, it follows that he was not justified on the basis of works. So if Abraham was not justified by works, how was he justified?” The apostle goes on to tell us how: What does scripture say? (that is, about how Abraham was justified). Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom 4:3; Gn 15:6). Abraham, then, was justified by faith. Paul and James do not contradict each other: good works follow justification.
    3. Now when you hear this statement, that justification comes not from works, but by faith, remember the abyss of which I spoke earlier. You see that Abraham was justified not by what he did, but by his faith: all right then, so I can do whatever I like, because even though I have no good works to show, but simply believe in God, that is reckoned to me as righteousness? Anyone who has said this and has decided on it as a policy has already fallen in and sunk; anyone who is still considering it and hesitating is in mortal danger. But God’s scripture, truly understood, not only safeguards an endangered person, but even hauls up a drowned one from the deep.
    My advice is, on the face of it, a contradiction of what the apostle says; what I have to say about Abraham is what we find in the letter of another apostle, who set out to correct people who had misunderstood Paul. James in his letter opposed those who would not act rightly but relied on faith alone; and so he reminded them of the good works of this same Abraham whose faith was commended by Paul. The two apostles are not contradicting each other. James dwells on an action performed by Abraham that we all know about: he offered his son to God as a sacrifice. That is a great work, but it proceeded from faith. I have nothing but praise for the superstructure of action, but I see the foundation of faith; I admire the good work as a fruit, but I recognize that it springs from the root of faith. If Abraham had done it without right faith it would have profited him nothing, however noble the work was. On the other hand, if Abraham had been so complacent in his faith that, on hearing God’s command to offer his son as a sacrificial victim, he had said to himself, “No, I won’t. But I believe that God will set me free, even if I ignore his orders,” his faith would have been a dead faith because it did not issue in right action, and it would have remained a barren, dried-up root that never produced fruit.
    4. What are we to make of this? That no good actions take precedence of faith, in the sense that no one can be said to have performed good works before believing? Yes, that’s right, because although people may claim to perform good works before faith, works that seem praiseworthy to onlookers, such works are vacuous. They look to me like someone running with great power and at high speed, but off course. This is why no one should reckon actions performed before belief as good; where there was no faith, there was no good action either. It is the intention that makes an action good, and the intention is directed by faith. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Part 3, Vol. 15, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms 1-32, Exposition 2 of Psalm 31, §2-4 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2000), pp. 364-365.

    Marius Victorinus (born c. 280): Every mystery which is enacted by our Lord Jesus Christ asks only for faith. The mystery was enacted at that time for our sake and aimed at our resurrection and liberation, should we have faith in the mystery of Christ and in Christ. For the patriarchs prefigured and foretold that man would be justified from faith. Therefore, just as it was reckoned as righteousness to Abraham that he had faith, so we too, if we have faith in Christ and every mystery of his, will be sons of Abraham. Our whole life will be accounted as righteous. Epistle to the Galatians, 1.3.7. Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 39.

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  3. It’s funny how out of step Broussard is with scholars from his own church:

    Joseph Fitzmyer S.J. commenting on Rom 3:28: That emphasis and the qualification “apart from deeds of (the) law” show that in this context Paul means “by faith alone”. Only faith appropriates God’s effective declaration of uprightness for a human being. These words repeat what Paul already said in v20a. Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J., Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Yale Bible, Yale University Press (January 1, 1993), Pg. 363

    Brendan Byrne S.J. commenting on Rom 3:28: The following “thesis-type” statement of the principle of justification by faith apart from works of the law (v 28) has been highly significant in the history of interpretation, becoming the watchword of the Reformation movement, which (rightly) understood Paul’s simple qualification “by faith” (pistei) to have the sense of “by faith alone”. Brendan Byrne SJ, Sacra Pagina: Romans, Liturgical Press, Mar 18, 2016, Pg 137.

    Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger): And he adds “we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (ibid., v. 28). At this point Luther translated: “justified by faith alone”. I shall return to this point at the end of the Catechesis. First, we must explain what is this “Law” from which we are freed and what are those “works of the Law” that do not justify.

    ……..

    So what does the Law from which we are liberated and which does not save mean? For St Paul, as for all his contemporaries, the word “Law” meant the Torah in its totality, that is, the five books of Moses.

    ……..

    The wall is no longer necessary; our common identity within the diversity of cultures is Christ, and it is he who makes us just. Being just simply means being with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Further observances are no longer necessary. For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love

    Found here

    Luke Timothy Johnson commenting on James 2:21: shown to be righteous on the basis of deeds:The hardest term to translate here is dikaioun, primarily because of its frequent use by Paul in contexts opposing righteousness by faith and “works of the law” (Rom 2:13, 3:4, 20, 24, 26, 28, 30, 4:2, 5; 5:1, 9, 8:30, 33; Gal 2:16-17; 3:8, 11, 24) and the complex use of the verb and its cognates in the OT (e.g. LXX Gen 38:26; Exod 23:7; Deut 25:1; Pss 50:6; 81:3; 142:2; Sir 1:22). The precise meaning in each case must be determined by context, not some general theological concept. Given the previous statement demanding the demonstration of faith, the translation here as “shown to be righteous” seems appropriate ( see Hort, 63, “appear righteous in God’s sight,” and Marty, 104, “God sanctions his righteousness”). The meaning would be similar to such NT passages as Matt 11:19; 12:37; and 1 Cor 4:4. The phrase ex ergon (literally, “out of works”) has the sense of “on the basis of deeds,” meaning that the deeds make his righteousness manifest. At first glance, the sentence appears flatly to contradict Paul’s argument concerning the righteousness of Abraham on the basis of faith rather than works (Gal 2:16; 3:5-6; 3:24; Rom 4:2), until we remember that in Paul’s case, the contrast is with “works of the law” (including circumcision), whereas in James it is with pistis arge (ineffectual faith). The Letter of James: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Yale Bible, Yale University Press (September 5, 2005), Pg 242

    Luke Timothy Johnson commenting on James 2:24: Is shown to be righteous on the basis of deeds: For this translation of dikaioun, see note on 2:21. The entire argument rests on the concept of “demonstration.” Patristic readers saw the potential for conflict with Paul on this point, but resolved it simply by two distinctions: a) that between faith as “simple assent” and faith as full response in action, and b) that between faith leading to baptism and faith after baptism. The Letter of James: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Yale Bible, Yale University Press (September 5, 2005), Pg 244

    Patrick J. Hartin S.J. commenting on James 2:21: our father Abraham: In Gen 17:4 God had made the promise to Abraham that he would be “the father (patér) of many peoples.” This tradition is continued
    throughout the biblical heritage: see Isa 51:2; Sir 44:19; 4 Macc 16:20; 17:6; Matt 3:9; Luke 1:73. This again points to the writer’s Jewish background: James sees himself and his community as part Of those promises in that they can claim Abraham as their father.

    proved to be righteous (as shown) through his works: This is the central aspect of the verse. The difficulty with understanding the verb dikaioun (“proved to be righteous”) comes from its rich range of meanings and the fact that it is used in different ways in different contexts. In the writings of Paul the term dikaioun is used to oppose a faith that is achieved by one’s own efforts through carrying out the works of the law. In Rom 4:1-3 Paul claims that Abraham was justified by faith and not by works (of the law). He goes on to use a biblical quotation that James also uses: “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6; 2:23; see Gen 15:6). In Paul’s usage the term dikaioun captures God’s action that produces a transformation within the life of the believer so that he or she is brought into a right relationship with Christ. All this occurs through the transforming gift of Jesus Christ’s faithfulness (Rom 3:23-26) (see TDNT Excursus 7: Faith and Works in James and Paul). In James the concern is very different. Works (that is, good deeds) show that one’s faith is living and that one is in a right relationship with God. Hence dikaioun in the context of James bears the meaning “demonstrates…………..” Patrick J. Hartin, Sacra Pagina: James, Liturgical Press, 2009, Pg 153

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    1. Thanks for more good references. Ratzinger, of course, is tricky. While he feigns here to be agreeing with Luther, he absolutely supported the Roman salvation system of sacramental grace and merit while pope from 2005 until 2013.

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      1. The million dollar question is why be a Romanist when a Muslim or even an Atheist who are “good” can be saved? LOL

        Bishop Barron: Even Vatican II says an atheist of good will can be saved, because in following his conscience, if he does – John Henry Newman said the conscience is “the aboriginal vicar of Christ in the soul” (it’s a very interesting characterization) – it is, in fact, the voice of Christ if he is the Logos made flesh, right? He’s the divine mind or reason made flesh. So when I’m following my conscience I’m following him, whether I know it explicitly or not. So even the atheist, Vatican II teaches, “of good will”, can be saved.
        http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2020/02/bishop-barrons-inclusivism.html?m=1

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  4. Romanists love to twist James 2:21-24 to support their works righteousness system, when the context is a demonstration.

    Augustine commenting on James 2:23: That Abraham believed God deep in his heart is a matter of faith alone, but that he took his son to sacrifice him . . . is not just a great act of faith but a great work as well. (Sermons 2.9) WSA 3/1:181, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, InterVarsity Press, 2014, ed Gerald L. Bray, Pg 33

    Clement of Rome commenting on James 2:23: Abraham, who was called the friend of God, proved himself faithful by becoming obedient to the words of God. (Letter to the Corinthians 10.1) Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, InterVarsity Press, 2014, ed Gerald L. Bray, Pg 33

    Cyril of Jerusalem commenting on James 2:23: Abraham was justified not by works but by faith. For although he had done many good things, he was not called a friend of God until he believed, and every one of his deeds was perfected by faith. (Catechetical lectures 5.5) Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, InterVarsity Press, 2014, ed Gerald L. Bray, Pg 33

    Oecumenius (6th century), commenting on James 2:23: Abraham is the image of someone who is justified by faith alone, since what he believed was credited to him as righteousness. But he is also approved because of his works, since he offered up his son Isaac on the altar. Of course he did not do this work by itself; in doing it, he remained firmly anchored in his faith, believing that through Isaac his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 33. See PG 119:481.

    Bede (672/673-735): Although the apostle Paul preached that we are justified by faith without works, those who understand by this that it does not matter whether they live evil lives or do wicked and terrible things, as long as they believe in Christ, because salvation is through faith, have made a great mistake. James here expounds how Paul’s words ought to be understood. This is why he uses the example of Abraham, whom Paul also used as an example of faith, to show that the patriarch also performed good works in the light of his faith. It is therefore wrong to interpret Paul in such a way as to suggest that it did not matter whether Abraham put his faith into practice or not. What Paul meant was that no one obtains the gift of justification on the basis of merits derived from works performed beforehand, because the gift of justification comes only from faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament XI: James, 1-2Peter, 1-3 John, Jude(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 31.

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    1. 👋🏻 Most church members are oblivious, but I can imagine security at church has taken on a whole different dimension these days. No need to discuss. I wrote my draft rebuttal for next Friday today. Always feels great when I finish those.

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      1. Awesome you finished last week draft. Yeah church security has become its own field and I’m impressed with what’s taught today; seems tomorrow will be helpful too with how today’s classes are going

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    1. Thank you, Mandy! There are evangelical Christians who find these debates over theological “details” to be distasteful and who are prone to proclaim, “Close enough,” when it comes to Catholicism’s soteriology, but this RC apologist unabashedly admits the RCC’s bottom line teaching that justification must be merited. That’s an irreconcilable difference!
      I actually enjoy these debates to a certain degree because I know exactly what the RCC teaches about salvation (although they veil their teachings on works salvation with “grace” and “faith” nomenclature, and I know the genuine Gospel and neither the twain shall meet.

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