Throwback Thursday: Moses and Hobab: Sin or obedience?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 4, 2016 and has been revised.


God’s Word is rich beyond measure. We are so blessed that we can feast upon God’s Word daily. But sometimes I get a little lackadaisical in my approach to the Word. In my haste to complete my daily Bible reading, I can sometimes overlook some very profound truths and admonitions from the Lord. Slow down, Tom! It’s quality, not quantity. “Lord, speak to me!” But there are also times when I come across some verses/passages that I can’t completely understand and I end up scratching my head. “Lord, what does this mean?”

Case in point: My wife and I have recently been reading through the Book of Numbers together. In chapter 9, the Lord revealed to Moses that He would lead Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land by the pillar of cloud during the day and by the pillar of fire during the night. There obviously could not be a more perfect guide than the Lord God Almighty.

Yet in chapter 10 we read that Moses entreated his brother-in-law,* Hobab, to act as a guide for the Israelites:

29 And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the Lord has promised good to Israel.” 30 But he said to him, “I will not go. I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.” 31 And he said, “Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. 32 And if you do go with us, whatever good the Lord will do to us, the same will we do to you. – Numbers 10:29-32

Why would Moses ask Hobab for his help as a guide when the omniscient Lord God Almighty was already leading the Israelites? Was Hobab, a Midianite, even a follower of the Lord at that point? One commentator suggests that, in His providence, the Lord sent Hobab to Moses and the Israelites because of his practical knowledge of wilderness survival, e.g. locating water wells and oases, camp protocol, etc.

So couldn’t the Lord, the perfect guide, have led the Israelites to the very best possible campsites? Why would they have needed Hobab? Here’s three possible interpretations of the passage that I came across:

(1) By turning to Hobab for help, Moses was doubting in the care of the Lord. Moses was trusting in the arm of flesh rather than the Lord. This passage is recorded in God’s Word to show us, once again, that even Moses had his failings and was an imperfect sinner. (2) Moses saw Hobab, a seasoned veteran of wilderness living, as a help provided by the Lord to assist the Israelites in their journey. (3) Moses was only flattering Hobab in an effort to persuade him to accompany the Israelites so that he might eventually also trust in the Lord.

Anyone have an opinion on this passage? We probably won’t resolve this one conclusively this side of eternity.

*Bible scholars are still debating whether “Hobab” refers to Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro/Reuel, or his brother-in-law, although recent scholarship seems to favor the latter view.

Jesus in the Old Testament? Yup!

Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament
Christopher J. H. Wright
IVP Academic, 2014, 288 pp.

After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and was born again in the Spring of 1983, I thoroughly enjoyed diving into God’s Word. I couldn’t get enough. After I finished the New Testament, I began reading the Old Testament. Things were going along pretty well until I got to parts of Exodus and then Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Man, those books were heavy lifting with lengthy passages involving the intricacies of the Mosaic ceremonial law and the tabernacle, etc., etc. Around that time, the pastor at our church mentioned “types” (i.e., foreshadowings, symbols, prefigurings) of Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament. That really triggered my curiosity and I went to the local Christian bookstore and bought a couple of books on Old Testament types/typology. Fascinating stuff! You’re probably already aware of such types as young Isaac as a sacrifice, the slain Passover lamb, and Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. The list of such symbols is as long as the “red thread” of Jesus Christ’s coming redemptive work that is interwoven throughout the entire Old Testament narrative, from Genesis to Malachi. Admittedly, there were some Bible scholars who were a bit too zealous in their search for veiled types and sometimes attempted to make a case where there wasn’t one.

In “Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament,” Christopher Wright focuses primarily on the Israelites, God’s chosen people, as a foreshadowing of Christ. As with all Old Testament types, the Israelites were an imperfect prefiguration that would find perfect fulfillment in the incarnation of God of the Son. Some of the characteristics of Israel by which they were to foreshadow Christ include:

  • Israel as the nation “son” of God the Father
  • Israel as the servant of God
  • Israel as a witness/light to the nations
  • Israel as a holy nation

The fact that chosen Israel failed so miserably in its role as a prefiguration of Christ is one of the prime examples of mankind’s absolute need of the Redeemer. Wright does an excellent job of examining other examples of the fulfillment of Old Testament history, prophecy, and song (psalms) in Jesus Christ in the New Testament. The reader will feel like one of the sojourners on the road to Emmaus. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27). Wright’s suggestion that Jesus was somewhat limited in His knowledge/omniscience as a condition of His humanity and was therefore not initially confident of His divine identity and mission will raise some eyebrows, however I’ll leave it to theologians to debate “What did Jesus know and when did He know it?”

There are some popular, progressive mega-church pastors we know (i.e., Andy Stanley) who would do away with the Old Testament if they had their druthers. That’s sheer idiocy and this book will explain why. “Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament” is informative as well as a blessing to read. Thanks, Mandy!


  1. Jesus and the Old Testament Story
  2. Jesus and the Old Testament Promise
  3. Jesus and His Old Testament Identity
  4. Jesus and His Old Testament Mission
  5. Jesus and His Old Testament Values
  6. Jesus and His Old Testament God

Throwback Thursday: Why did Jesus tell the apostles to buy a sword?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on April 29, 2016 and has been revised.


The Bible is an inexhaustible fountain of knowledge and wisdom. I need God’s Word every day just like I need food, water, and oxygen. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to teach me, correct me, admonish me, encourage me, comfort me, and delight me. Praise the Lord for His wonderful and glorious Word!

The depths of Scripture can never be plumbed in this lifetime. I’ve read verses and passages many times without really understanding the full extent of their meaning. Then one day I’ll be reading a verse and, “Pow!,” the Holy Spirit illuminates it to me so that I really “get it” for the first time. I’m sure that’s happened to many of you as well.

I’m currently reading through Luke and yesterday I was reading chapter 22, verses 35-38:

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

I’ve read this passage many times before but it never “clicked” with me. Why did Jesus instruct His apostles to buy a “sword” (Greek: makhaira: generally a large knife or sword with a single cutting edge) when He subsequently rebuked Peter for violently wielding one of those swords in the Garden of Gethsemane just a few verses later (v. 51), causing the reader to question if Jesus had contradicted Himself. I asked the young pastor of the church we attended last year about this seeming contradiction and he confessed he didn’t know the answer. In the documentary, “Fight Church,” the macho son of the macho former-pastor of the independent fundamental Baptist church we used to attend, who is now the pastor, uses these verses to justify Christians owning guns and violently kicking some butt whenever needed.

But as I read the verses yesterday, the Holy Spirit finally illuminated their meaning to me. Jesus told the apostles to buy a sword to fulfill prophetic Scripture:

“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” – Isaiah 53:12.

Jesus was with Peter and the apostles in Gethsemane when Peter transgressed by using a sword to cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Jesus was counted among the violent anomos (lawbreakers). Oh, I get it now! It’s so simple. So easy. Why didn’t I understand it before? Jesus even states QUITE CLEARLY in the passage that the need for a sword was to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that He would be numbered among the criminals:

“…and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’”

Why didn’t my previous pastor just out of seminary know this? Why does the IFB macho pastor not see this, but instead twists the passage to support his own misguided, macho man viewpoint? Why didn’t John MacArthur, J. Vernon McGee, and other notable Bible commentators understand this clearly obvious reason for Jesus’ instruction to buy a sword? Because it’s the Holy Spirit who illuminates God’s Word to us. Understanding of God’s Word doesn’t come to us from our own human wisdom.

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” – John 16:13

Jesus would also be numbered with the transgressors when He hung on the cross between the two criminals.

“With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” – Mark 15:27-28

Jesus interceded for Peter after his violent act and He also interceded for the repentant criminal hanging beside Him (along with all the rest of us sinners who trust in Him by faith alone), just as Isaiah had foretold.

Lord, thank You for Your Word and for illuminating Your Truths which we can’t possibly discern through our own human understanding.


Note from February 11, 2021: I’m a bit embarrassed by my bold certitude regarding the interpretation of this difficult “let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” passage. I still hold to the above interpretation (which seems quite obvious to me), but in retrospect I would ratchet down my “triumphant” tone a few notches.

Jesus Christ in the Old Testament?

The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament
By Edmund P. Clowney
P&R Publishing, Second edition, 2013, 220 pp.

I remember reading the Old Testament for the first time as a new believer thirty-seven years ago. It was quite challenging, especially such portions as Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But in his sermons, our pastor at the time would occasionally point out “types” or foreshadowings of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Ah, that was VERY cool. I remember subsequently reading a couple of books specifically about Biblical Typology. The first thirty-nine books of the Bible are full of veiled references to the coming Messiah. I subsequently read the Old Testament with a new appreciation for the many symbols and foreshadowings of Jesus Christ contained within.

This book about OT types recently caught my eye and I gave it a read. Below, I’ve listed the chapter titles and the respective Old Testament characters examined, who, as Clowney demonstrates, foreshadowed Christ in some form or fashion. “The Unfolding Mystery” is a very good introduction to Typology.


  1. The New Man (Adam)
  2. The Son of the Woman (Abel & Seth)
  3. The Son of Abraham (Isaac)
  4. The Heir of the Promise (Jacob & Joseph)
  5. The Lord and His Servant (Moses)
  6. The Rock of Moses
  7. The Lord’s Anointed (Joshua, Samson, Samuel, David)
  8. The Prince of Peace (Solomon)
  9. The Lord to Come (the Prophets)

Final Word

Nope, it’s not my goodbye to the blogosphere, but, rather, it’s the title of John MacArthur’s latest book!

Final Word: Why We Need the Bible
By John MacArthur
Reformation Trust, 2019, 136 pp.

5 Stars

Over the past couple of years, Reformation Trust has published three short books written by Pastor John MacArthur on some of the basics of Christian belief. This latest one focuses on God’s Word, the Bible. Whether you’re new to the Christian faith or you’re a “seasoned saint,” you’ll enjoy this book, which explains why the Bible is our totally reliable standard of faith and practice. Argh! We Christians sometimes take God’s Word for granted. May we always cherish the Bible for what it is; God’s inerrant and infallible Word.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17


  • The Bible is Under Attack
  • The Bible is Truth
  • The Bible is Authoritative
  • The Bible is the Catalyst of Spiritual Growth
  • The Bible is Central to Faithful Ministry
  • The Bible is Food for the Soul

Order this book from Amazon here. See my reviews of the two other books by JMac in Reformation Trust’s basics-of-Christianity series, “None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible” here and “Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ” here.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 93 & 94: Purgatory and Prayers for the Dead? – Part 3

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

The previous two weeks, we examined the first two passages presented by Armstrong in chapter twelve of his book, in which the Catholic apologist attempts to prove the existence of purgatory and the need to pray for the dead. This week we will examine his final two proof-texts:

#93) 2 Timothy 1:16-18: “16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiph′orus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me— 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.” (RSVCE)

Beneath the passage, Armstrong writes,“Catholics believe in prayers for the dead, in order to aid them on their journey through purgatory to heaven. In fact, praying for the dead makes sense only if some sort of purgatory or intermediate state is presupposed, because it would be futile to pray for those in hell (prayer cannot help them; it is too late) and unnecessary to pray for those in heaven (they have everything they need). This verse [sic] offers one probable biblical support for this belief.”

Catholics would like to make the case from this passage that Paul is stating Onesiphorus is dead and that he is praying for him, but such an interpretation is self-serving eisegesis. I specifically addressed Catholicism’s misinterpretation of 2 Timothy 1:16-18 in a post last May, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll direct you to that post here.

#94) Acts 9:36-37, 40-41: “Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas or Gazelle…In those days she fell sick and died…But Peter…knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, rise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive.” (RSVCE)

Beneath the passage, Armstrong writes, “I readily grant that the example is unusual, because of the uniqueness of praying to raise someone from the dead (as distinguished from a prayer that aids someone in purgatory), and I agree that the Apostles had extraordinary powers of healing, so that this is not exactly a normative state of affairs…Nevertheless, it seems indisputable that here St. Peter literally prayed for a dead person, as far as that goes – which Protestants say is not permitted by, and supposedly not recorded in, the Bible.” – pp. 174-175.

Armstrong is shamelessly engaging here in some theological slight-of-hand. From the outset, he readily admits that the passage does not support the notion of praying for the dead in purgatory. But he says the passage is valuable because it refutes the alleged Protestant belief that prayers for a dead person are nowhere permitted in the Bible. I’ve read or listened to many Catholic apologists over the years, but the above may be the most blatant example of irresponsible apologetic chicanery I’ve ever seen. Armstrong is presenting a straw man fallacy and claiming victory where there is no victory.  Bible Christians are certainly familiar with the above passage in which Peter prays to God on behalf of Tabitha and raises her from the dead. We are also familiar with other passages in the Bible in which the dead are raised. We believe God gave prophets and apostles the ability to raise people from the dead and we fully believe and accept all of those passages, none of which give ANY support to the Catholic doctrine of praying for dead souls in purgatory!!!

After examining the four passages Armstrong presents as proof-texts for purgatory and praying for the dead, we can very safely say that we are not “confounded.” For more information on the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, see the article below:

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #91: Purgatory and Prayers for the Dead? – Part 1

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week we will examine the first passage Armstrong presents in chapter twelve of his book in which the Catholic apologist attempts to prove the existence of purgatory and the need to pray for the dead.

#91) 1 Corinthians 3:11-15: 11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble— 13 each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Following this passage, Armstrong writes, “It will be an extremely serious business when we meet God face-to-face. There will be no more “imputation” – merely “covering over” of sins – then. No, to stand in his presence we must be literally, actually sinless, because that is how we were created to be in the first place, in his image. We have to be cleansed of actual sin (“sanctification” in Protestant theological language). There is no Protestant Catholic difference on this particular point, from either side. The only difference is a quantitative one: Catholics think this cleansing will involve a process, like our life on earth. And that process of sanctification can continue after death: in purgatory. Protestants, on the other hand, seem to think this all occurs in an instant.” – pp. 157-158.

Catholic apologists misinterpret 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 as a reference to purgatory, but of course Paul is referring to the Bema Seat of Christ where believers will be judged according to their service. The existence of an intermediate, purgatorial state is to be found nowhere in the Bible. In contrast, the Bible teaches, without any ambiguity, that upon death a believer will immediately be with the Lord:

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

“I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” – Philippians 1:23

Purgatory is an essential cog in Catholicism’s false salvation system of sacramental grace and merit. Catholics are taught they must become intrinsically and subjectively good and righteous in this life in order to merit Heaven at the moment of their death. That’s a tall order, so the Roman church has broken sin down into two categories; major/mortal and minor/venial. It teaches that if anyone has unconfessed mortal sin on their soul when they die, they will go straight to hell. But any minor sin will consign a person to purgatory for a period of time. Catholics augmented their doctrine of purgatory with a number of ancillary teachings including the granting of indulgences to reduce time spent there. Catholics prelates of old taught that the suffering in purgatory would be equal to that of hell, but contemporary clerics liken purgatory to the comfortable waiting room of a train station.

Bible Christians believe, as the Bible states, that we cannot become intrinsically and subjectively good. We are all sinners and even the things that we do that we call “good” are tainted with sin. We are made righteous before God ONLY by repenting of sin and accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone. It is the perfect righteousness of Jesus that is imputed to us when we accept Him as Savior that justifies us before a Holy God.

“And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” – Philippians 3:9

The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses a believer not of just some sin, but of ALL sin.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7

Praise my Savior that I don’t have to merit my salvation as Catholicism teaches!!! I can’t possibly merit my salvation and no one else can either.

Armstrong presents three more Bible passages as proof-texts for purgatory and prayers for the dead and we’ll examine another one next week.

For more information on purgatory, see the article below:

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – # 86: Veneration/Worship of Saints? – Part 4

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week, we will finish our examination of chapter ten of Armstrong’s book that we began three weeks ago, in which the Catholic apologist presents passages that allegedly support veneration/worship of “saints.” Prior to presenting his last proof text, Armstrong writes the following, “We are not told in Scripture that we cannot ask someone in heaven to pray for us. Saints in heaven are more alive and aware and far holier than we are. They watch us (Heb. 12:1). They are aware of earthly happenings (Rev. 6:9-10). They can certainly be given extraordinary capacities for knowledge by God; there is nothing implausible or intrinsically impossible or unbiblical in that notion at all. St. Paul states about the afterlife in heaven:”

#86) 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.”

Following Armstrong’s proof text, he writes, “Therefore, they (saints) can pray for us, and we ask for their prayers. We know that they can come back to earth (from the four examples given earlier). Are we to believe that when such saints come to earth, they can pray, but immediately upon returning to heaven they cannot once again? And if they can present our prayers, why is it so inconceivable that they could intercede for us?” – pp. 143-144.

NOWHERE in God’s Word does it teach that believers can or should pray to anyone other than God. Praying to any entity other than to God is idolatry, which the Bible condemns.

“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.” – Isaiah 45:5

Catholic apologists cannot produce one single Bible verse that even vaguely supports praying to “saints,” so they must resort to sophistry. In defending the Catholic man-made tradition of praying to “saints,” Armstrong utilizes Catholicism’s oft-used argument of “fittingness,” which goes something like this:

  1. God can do anything.
  2. Since God can do anything it would be “fitting” for Him to do X.
  3. God did/does X.

Catholics use the “fittingness” argument to justify many other fabricated traditions including the immaculate conception, the assumption of Mary, and indulgences.

God’s Word is our sole authority rather than the fanciful traditions of sinful men. God alone is omnipresent and omniscient. To ascribe those qualities to the souls of the dead is to make them deific, but Almighty God is the only God.

“I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images.” – Isaiah 42:8 (NKJV)

For a Biblical understanding of saints compared to Roman tradition, see the article below:

The Saints of God – Grace to You

Another betrayal of the Gospel in the push for “unity”

Justified in Christ: The Doctrines of Peter Martyr Vermigli and John Henry Newman and Their Ecumenical Implications
By Chris Castaldo
Pickwick Publications, 2017, 234 pages

I’m already acquainted with the author of this book, evangelical pastor Chris Castaldo. I’ve reviewed two books he wrote and one he co-wrote previously about Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics (see here, here, and here). I welcomed those efforts because there are very few books dedicated to outreach to Catholics published by major (c)hristian publishers these days. But the books were also disturbing because they came across as a bit too soft on Catholicism. It was as if, in the final analysis, Castaldo was saying to Catholics, “Yes, your church is legitimate to a degree, but evangelicalism is a better way.” Castaldo shares that kind of accommodating and compromising attitude with other notable evangelical pastors and para-church leaders. This new book is even more disturbing as it appears Castaldo is determined to formulate a “middle way” theology on justification that is acceptable to both Catholics and Bible Christians.

There are many irreconcilable differences between Catholicism and Biblical Christianity, but the most important difference is in regards to the doctrine of justification. Martin Luther rightly said that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls.

In brief, Catholics believe they are initially justified by their infant baptism and that they must continue to receive their church’s sacraments in order to receive graces so that they may successfully obey the Ten Commandments and church rules so as to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics believe they can become subjectively, intrinsically righteous through the infused grace of the sacraments and the merit of obedience and good works.

In contrast, Bible Christians believe they are justified by repenting of sin and accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. They believe that they become objectively, extrinsically, forensically righteous before God solely because of Jesus Christ’s perfect righteousness that was imputed to them the moment they accepted Him as Savior. Bible Christians believe good works are the fruit (verification) of justification in Christ, not the basis of it.

The two views are diametrically opposed. One is wrong. One is right. They cannot both be right.

In this book (which was actually the author’s doctoral thesis), Castaldo presents two theologians from the past, one an Italian Protestant Reformer, Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562), and the other a famous convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism, John Henry Newman (1801-1890).

Castaldo attempts to find some agreement between the two theologians as a basis for ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and evangelicals. Vermigli taught that the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ was the “formal cause” of justification, however he also taught that God also “accepts and rewards Christian works as a necessary constituent of final justification.” Castaldo labels this as “double-righteousness” or “double-justification.” So Vermigli gave more credence to good works in salvation than Bible Christians would allow.

Over the years, Newman shifted in his theology from an “evangelical” to a high-church Anglican, to a Roman Catholic. Castaldo references Newman’s writing at the time he was an Anglican, when he still allegedly held to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as a “factor” in justification, while concurrently holding to baptismal regeneration and progressive sanctification as other contributing factors. Later, after he converted to Catholicism, Newman rejected his previous opinions about imputed righteousness and embraced Catholicism’s notion of sacramentally infused grace and subjective, intrinsic righteousness.

I’m only a Theology 101 type of guy and I don’t normally seek out theology texts that are loaded with Latin phrases to impress academicians like this book does, but I am well-versed in the Protestant-Catholic debate over justification and was able to follow Castaldo’s arguments pretty well. The attempt to blaze some kind of middle-road between evangelicalism’s and Catholicism’s views on justification using Vermigli and pre-Catholic Newman falls totally flat and the differences remain.

It’s sad that Judas evangelicals like Castaldo seek to advance unity with Rome through accommodation and compromise of the Gospel of grace. In the acknowledgements, the author credits Timothy George, one of the principals of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), as a strong supporter of this effort as well as three Roman Catholic priests. Save your time and your money.

Was Mary really sinless?

Roman Catholicism teaches that Mary was conceived without original sin and lived a totally sinless life. Why do they teach such a thing? Because Mary holds such an exalted place in Catholicism and is claimed to share many of the offices of Jesus Christ (e.g., Advocate, Mediatrix, Co-Redemptrix, Channel of all Graces, etc.), Catholics argue she must necessarily have been sinless just as Jesus was since they allege she also played a role in redemption.

But doesn’t the Bible say all men are sinners?

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23

How do Catholics get around those passages in defending the sinlessness of Mary?

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to the 1/15/19 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show and apologist, David Anders (above photo), attempted to deftly sidestep Scripture’s clear and unambiguous teaching on the sinfulness of all mankind, including Mary. We begin at the 48:35 mark of the podcast:

Tom Price, show moderator: This (question) is from Andy, checking us out on Facebook. “My brother-in-law and I are discussing the sinlessness of Mary. He used Romans 3:23 as a proof-text that all have sinned, including Mary. How do I respond to that?”

David Anders: So Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What’s Paul’s point in the argument? His purpose in writing the book of Romans is not to speculate on the doctrine of Mary. Mariology doesn’t enter into the thing at all. He’s talking about the grace and “Judential”* relationships in relation to the Law of Moses. It’s just not even concerned with Mariology. And we use this kind of language all the time in an imprecise way. I remember Colin Donovan (Catholic theologist) used this illustration when he said, “Everybody went to the ballgame.” Well, NOT EVERBODY went to the ballgame, but you know what he meant. Or “Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore because it’s too crowded” as Yogi Berra would say. This is just colloquial language in how St. Paul’s speaking. He’s not making an argument about Mariology one way or the other. If you want to go for Mariology go to the Gospel of Luke.

Tom Price: Yeah, and don’t get hung up on the word “all” in this particular case.

David Anders: Right.

We can all agree that people sometimes use “all” as a generality without meaning every specific case, but was that Paul’s intention in Roman 3:23? The “no, not one…not even one” of Romans 3:10-12 precludes Anders’ sophistry. Mary acknowledges she was a sinner in need of the Savior in Luke 1:47. She also offered up a sin offering along with a burnt offering in Luke 2:22-24. Yes, Mary was a sinner in need of the Savior as we all are. Catholic apologists must deviate from the precise and crystal clear meaning of Scripture in this example in order to justify their doctrine of the sinlessness of Mary.

*Anders routinely invents words during “Called to Communion” broadcasts, such as this example; “Judential.”