Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #13: “Not Because of Works”

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. The Catholic apologist continues his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ arguments that believers are saved “not because of works.”

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In opening this chapter, Broussard acknowledges that Catholicism initially seems to have a dilemma. Chapter twenty-six of the “Decree on Justification” issued by the Council of Trent in 1547 states, “Hence, to those who work well unto the end and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits.” There can be NO misunderstanding regarding the interpretation of this Tridentine decree. According to Roman Catholicism, and seconded by Broussard, “eternal life will be given at (the) judgement as a reward for…good works” (p.73).

Broussard then refers to Ephesians 2:8-9, which is often used by evangelical Protestants to refute Catholicism’s works-based soteriology:

“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.”

Broussard admits that this and other Bible verses/passages that proclaim salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone seem to contradict the Catholic view declared at Trent. How to solve this dilemma? Broussard offers the Catholic argument that the grace by which Catholics are saved apart from works is the sacramental grace of initial conversion, i.e., baptism, but after baptism, works are meritorious.

“Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion (baptism). Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” – CCC 2010

Broussard makes a ham-fisted distinction between the “works” cited in v.9 and the “good works” cited in Ephesians 2:10 below:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

He argues that the works mentioned in v.9 are the Levitical ceremonial rituals of the Mosaic Law (e.g., circumcision, dietary restrictions, etc.) while the “good works” cited in v.10 are meritorious acts of obedience and charity. Broussard would argue that the passages below that prohibit salvation by “works” are also referring to Levitical ceremonial rituals:

Romans 3:20 – “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

Galatians 2:16 – “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

Galatians 3:11 – “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

Qualifying these verses as referring only to the Levitical ceremonial rituals is sophistry of the deadliest order. Paul encompasses ALL aspects of the Mosaic Law, whether they be the ceremonial rituals or the moral teachings (e.g., the Decalogue) in the verse below:

“For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law” – Galatians 3:21

Gospel Christians get it. There is no one who is righteous (Romans 3:10). Even our supposed “good works” are tainted by our sinfulness (Isaiah 64:6). We have no plea of our own that we can stand upon. A genuine believer’s only plea is their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and His perfect righteousness that was imputed to them.

Important: It’s ironic that Broussard and other conservative Catholic apologists continue to contend for Catholicism’s salvation system of baptism and the six other sacraments in conjunction with the rigors of Catholic legalism, when modern popes and prelates since the Second Vatican Council have declared that people of all religions, and even atheists, are also able to merit salvation if they “follow the light they have been given” and are “good.”

Next up: “Justified by Faith, Not Works”

27 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #13: “Not Because of Works”

      1. It’s always tough catching up after falling behind. Glad your sons are doing better. I’ve had a nasty cold the last 4 days and have been mainly doing couch duty.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. It does certainly seem like the modern Popes are making it more difficult for these apologists. However, I think you’ve sufficiently shown that this would be unbiblical even if it didn’t contradict Francis! Well done, brother!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, sister! I often hear Catholic apologists distinguish the references to the Law in the grace passages as pertaining only to the Levitical ceremonial rituals. Yes, by proclaiming that EVERYONE can merit Heaven, Catholic prelates have put themselves out of a job.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Gal 3:10 quoting Deut 27:26
    For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

    The Law is the Law, all 613 commandments, including the morality commands. I don’t believe the Jews distinguish between ceremonial and moral. So a Jew reading those passages would understand works or works of the law to refer to EVERYTHING in the Torah (supported by Deut 27:26 and Deut 28:15), not just circumcision, dietary laws etc, so essentially works, period.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Unfortunately for Romanists, that isn’t what the Bible teaches.

        Titus 3:5
        he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Those who believe in Catholic teachings must have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to make themselves think the Scriptures are not saying what they are saying. Either that, or perhaps they went to Catholic training schools and invested a lot of time, money, and pride in their programs so they want to believe badly enough that they refuse to admit the truth of God’s word.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Steeny! Yeah, the Catholic apologist must seriously contort the grace passages to try to make them mean what they don’t. What an impossible task he has because the ONLY Person who could have possibly merited His salvation was Jesus Christ.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Answering your question: I’m doing well, at my parents place for the girls to hangout with their grandparents; going to teach Bible study later tonight and a pastoral visitation afterwards for dinner with a new person who have come to our church for weeks now; hope that it be evangelistic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, brother. I appreciate the support! Yeah, the distinction made between works and justifying good works is so artificial. It’s really sadly ironic that these works righteousness folks are so enthusiastic in defending their works religion because in the end it will condemn them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jesse. Thanks for the link to the excellent article. You’ll want to take a second look at the last sentence, though, which didn’t come out as you intended: “He is arguing against seeking after justification by faith alone.”

      Yes, Galatians 3:21-24 is a good rebuttal to Broussard’s argument and I’m very glad to have it here in the comments, although Broussard would certainly dismiss it as he must. “For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law” (v.21) covers ALL aspects of the Law, whether they be the ceremonial Levitical rituals or the Decalogue. Thanks. I’m going to add this argument to my article.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Too many contradictions. Works vs good works is a semantics game. I also agree that the leaders of the RCC are not leading from this apologetic. I actually am starting to have pity on this author. He really believes what he is saying, yet his own hierarchy/authority is contradicting him. At what point does the author address current issues in the RCC and church “doctrine”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mandy. Yeah, Broussard must repeatedly jump through semantics hoops in his fraudulent attempt to differentiate ceremonial law from moral law in order to qualify the grace vs.law passages.
      Yes, the RCC holds to an impossible dichotomy by holding to the old legalistic soteriology that Broussard defends, while simultaneously teaching a form of Universalism that the church adopted at its Second Vatican Council.

      Liked by 1 person

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