'Replies from Roman Catholics'

Mike Martin - 10

17th February, 2003

(Continued from page 287)

Luther threw out seven entire books of the Bible? 

You write:  'Luther's scandal did not stop with only the morality front.  His actions toward God's Holy Word were unconscionable.  He just felt he could do whatever he wanted with the Bible on merely his own authority'.  He threw out seven entire books of the Bible that had been in it for the 1100 years that the Bible had been canonized.  Those deutero-canonical books contained teachings on indulgences and purgatory, which were Christian beliefs that Luther did not share.  He singled out those books, even though other passages in the Bible support the beliefs he opposed, because they were written by Greek-speaking Jews.' 

TCE:  This is certainly untrue - we have already given good reasons why the Apocrypha were not accepted as Scripture by the Church Fathers. It was the Council of Trent that accepted these books so they could have support for the false doctrines you mention and which were most definitely not 'Christian beliefs that Luther did not share'- no orthodox Christian would ever share these beliefs.  To suggest he 'singled out those books, even though other passages in the Bible support the beliefs he opposed, because they were written by Greek-speaking Jews' is the height of stupid bias, for we only have to consider that the Scriptures were written by Jews (apart from Luke and Acts!) and proved no problem to Luther!  If you want to try and prove otherwise you need to supply historical data, particularly concerning who spoke in Greek and who did not, not hopeful dogma!

We need only intensify our previous statements - the Papal Roman Catholic Church's many problems in the area of soteriology begin in the arena of authority. Protestantism has one authority - the inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Rome has two authorities - Scripture and Tradition - and Protestantism disagrees with Papal Rome's understanding of, teaching on, and interpretation of both.

Papal Rome placed twelve additional Apocryphal ('hidden, obscure, spurious') books within the Old Testament, namely, Tobit, Judith, the (six) Additions to the Book of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach (known also as Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men (considered one work), Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and 1 and 2 Maccabees.  How did this error come about? At the end of the fourth century Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome, the most learned Biblical scholar of his day, to prepare a standard Latin version of the Scriptures (the Latin Vulgate).
In the Old Testament Jerome followed the Hebrew canon and, by means of prefaces, called the reader's attention to the separate category of the apocryphal books. In the preface to his Latin Version of the Bible Jerome, after translating the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, says:  'Anything outside of these must be placed within the Apocrypha,' that is, within the non-canonical books.  Subsequent copyists of the Latin Bible, however, were not always careful to transmit Jerome's prefaces, and during the medieval period the Western Church generally regarded these books as part of the holy Scriptures.  At one of its prolonged sessions which occurred on April 8, 1546, with only fifty-three prelates present, not one of whom was a scholar distinguished for historical learning (consistent with the degree of non-Biblical knowledge exhibited by Papal Rome theologians in Luther's day) the Council of Trent decreed [in its 'Sacrosancta'] that the canon of the Old Testament includes these books. They excepted the Prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Esdras but, of course, any reason they might have been able to give for this decision would have contradicted their reasoning for choosing the other books - but when has logic played any part in Papal Roman theology or doctrine?  Once the cat was out of the bag and people like Luther were advertising the utter hypocrisy that Papal Rome had masqueraded behind for 1200 years, Trent was forced to anathematize any one who 'does not accept these entire books, with all their parts, as they have customarily been read in the Catholic Church and are found in the ancient editions of the Latin Vulgate, as sacred and canonical.'  This decree was confirmed by Vatican I (1870) - and nothing has changed to this day.  Subsequent editions of the Latin Vulgate text, officially approved by the Roman Catholic Church, contain these books incorporated within the sequence of the Old Testament books. Thus Tobit and Judith stand after Nehemiah; the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus stand after the Song of Solomon; Baruch (with the Letter of Jeremiah as chapter 6) stands after Lamentations; and 1 and 2 Maccabees conclude the books of the Old Testament.  The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men is placed between Daniel 3:23 and 3:24; Susanna is placed either at the beginning of Daniel as an introduction to chapter 1 (this placement is that of the Greek text of Theodotian and the Old Latin, Coptic, and Arabic versions) or at the end of Daniel as chapter 13 (this placement is that of the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate); and Bel and the Dragon is placed either at the close of Daniel 12 in the Greek manuscripts of Daniel or at the end of Daniel as chapter 14 in the Latin Vulgate, Susanna being chapter 13.  An appendix after the New Testament contains the Prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Esdras, without implying canonical status - or reasons for non-canonical status!

Interestingly, these books themselves bear clear testimony to the assertion of the Jewish historian Josephus (Against Apion, 1.8) that 'an exact succession of the prophets' had been broken after the close of the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament. Not only is the phrase, 'Thus says the Lord,' which occurs so frequently in the Old Testament, nowhere to be found in them but also divine authority is never claimed by their authors for these books and by some of them it is virtually disowned, as is suggested by the following citations:

1 Maccabees 9:27:  '...there was great distress in Israel [in the time of the author], such as had not been since the time that prophets had ceased to appear among them.'

1 Maccabees 14:41:  '...the Jews and their priests decided that Simon [Maccabeus] should be their leader and high priest in perpetuity, until a trustworthy prophet should arise.' (See also here 1 Maccabees 4:46:  '...until there should come a prophet...')

2 Maccabees 2:23:  15:37-38:  '...all this, which has been set forth by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we shall attempt to condense into a single book [that is, 2 Maccabees itself].. .So I too will here end my story. If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do.'

[This is reminiscent of the work of the false prophet of the Mormons, Joseph Smith who put similar excuses into the mouths of his supposed inspired writers of the Book of Mormon]

Moreover, Malachi, the last canonical Old Testament prophet, predicted that the next messenger God would send to Israel as the forerunner of the Messiah would be Elijah the prophet (
Mal 3:1; 4:5), which prophecy the New Testament teaches was fulfilled by the birth and ministry of John the Baptist (Mark 1:2; Matt 11:10-14; 17:11-13).

This is why the Palestinian Jews never accepted these Apocryphal books as canonical, their canon being essentially the same as that of the Protestant Old Testament today (see Josephus,
Against Apion, 1.41; Babylonian Talmud, Yomah 9b, Sota 48b, Sanhedrin 1 la).  We do not find Jesus or the New Testament writers ever citing from these books.  Paul's declaration that the Jews possessed 'the oracles of God' (Romans 3:2), implicitly excludes the Apocrypha from those 'oracles'.

As stated in the first letter, while it is true that the Septuagint served as the Greek 'Bible' of the early church and of the apostles in their mission to the Gentiles, there is no evidence that a New Testament writer cites from any of the Apocryphal books. It must also be noted that these books abound in historical, geographical, and chronological inaccuracies and anachronisms which would not occur in divinely inspired documents. Consider the following historical inaccuracies:

1. In
1 Maccabees 8:1-16 the author describes the power of Rome. His description contains many inaccuracies such as (1) his statement in verse 8 that Antiochus the Great surrendered Media and India to the Romans when in fact he kept Media - and India was not even part of Antiochus' domain; (2) his statement in verse 12 that the Romans 'kept friendship' with those who rely on them which simply was not true; (3) his statement in verse 15 that three hundred and twenty (actually three hundred, but this could be the author's 'rounding' of a number which should not be faulted) Roman senators deliberate daily in matters of government when in fact they met three times a month and on festival days; and (4) his statement in verse 16 that the Roman senate trusted one man each year to rule over them with no envy or jealousy existing among them when 'in fact, to prevent the concentration of power in one man's hands they elected two collegiate chief magistrates (consuls) year by year, each of whom had the right of veto over the others proceedings,' and envy and jealousy among them were constant.

Tobit 1:4-5 teaches that the division of the kingdom (under Jeroboam I in 931 B.C.) occurred when Tobit was a 'young man.' But Tobit is also said to be a young Israelite captive living in Nineveh under Shalmaneser in the late eighth century B.C. This would make him as a 'young man' almost two hundred years old at the time of the Assyrian Captivity and he lived into the reign of Esarhaddon (680-668 B.C.).  But according to Tobit 14:1 1 he died when he was one hundred and fifty-eight years old (according to the Latin text, he died at one hundred and two).

Judith 1:1 declares that Nebuchadnezzar reigned over the Assyrians at Nineveh at the time that Arphaxad reigned over the Medes in Ecbatana. But Nebuchadnezzar did not reign over the Assyrians at Nineveh; he was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire reigning at Babylon. Arphaxad is unknown.

These books also teach doctrines which are at variance with the inspired Scriptures. For example,
2 Maccabees 12:43-45 teaches the efficacy of prayers and offerings for the dead.  Papal Rome  bases its doctrine of purgatory and Masses for the dead primarily upon this apocryphal passage, but a close examination of this passage shows that it does not support Rome's teaching. Rome teaches that at death only those Christians go to purgatory who have only venial and no unforgiven mortal sin against their souls. But the dead soldiers in the Maccabees context fell in battle because 'under the tunic of every one of the dead [were] found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia' (12:40) - so these men were idolaters (admittedly like Papal Roman Catholics!) and thus guilty of violating the first commandment - a mortal sin! They would therefore have already been consigned to hell, and would not have been in purgatory!  Ecclesiasticus 3:30 teaches that almsgiving makes atonement for sin and justifies cruelty to slaves (33:26, 28). The Wisdom of Solomon teaches the doctrine of emanation (7:25) and the Platonic doctrine of the pre-existence of souls (8:18-20).

You accuse Luther of actions which prove to be totally justifiable, but history proves that he was not the first to have relegated the Apocrypha to non-canonical writings.  The Dutch Bible published by Jacob van Liesveldt at Antwerp (
1526) placed the Apocryphal books after Malachi and identified the section as 'the books which are not in the canon, that is to say, which one does not find among the Jews in the Hebrew.'  The six-volume Swiss-German Bible (1527-29) placed the Apocryphal books in the fifth volume, the title page of which volume reads:  'These are the books which are not reckoned as biblical by the ancients, nor are found among the Hebrews.'  Concerned to return to the sole authority of inspired, inerrant Scripture, Martin Luther in his German translation of the Bible (1534) also placed the Apocryphal books once again between the Old and New Testaments with the title:  'Apocrypha, that is, books which are not held equal to the sacred Scriptures, and nevertheless are useful and good to read.'  Miles Coverdale's English translation of the Bible (1535) put them in the same position with the title:  'Apocrypha. The books and treatises which among the fathers of old are not reckoned to be of like authority with the other books of the Bible, neither are they found in the Canon of the Old Testament.'  The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England (1562) state concerning the Apocrypha:  'And the other books (as Jerome saith) the Church doth read for example of life, and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine.'  And the Westminster Confession of Faith (1648) declares:  'The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings' (I.3).

Thus we see that every Protestant authority recognises the place of the apocrypha as outside inspired Scripture - just as Jerome did!  But, because of its views on Tradition, Papal Rome also rejects most of the great attributes of canonical Scripture which Protestantism holds in the highest esteem, namely, Scripture's self-canonization, its inerrancy, its necessity, its self-attestation, its sufficiency, its perspicuity, and its finality.  So historic Protestantism and Roman Catholicism do not share the same Bible, either extensively as to the number of books or intensively as to the nature of Holy Scripture itself. For Protestantism the Bible alone (
sola scriptura) is self-validating and absolutely authoritative in all matters of faith and practice; for Roman Catholicism its enlarged Bible (and this applies to any given statement in it) has only the meaning and thus the authority the Roman Church has determined to grant to it at any given moment.  Hence her ability to contradict what has gone before and prove to the world - never mind the Spirit-led, born again, child of God - that she has no special relationship with God at all!

Vatican II's
Dei Verbum, 9 (November 1965), declares that the church 'does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence' (emphasis added).  The foolishness of this is made clear to anyone conversant with the facts - the supposedly infallible popes really think that Christians should accept and honour Apocryphal books and the writings of fallible popes which are clearly shown to be at odds with the facts we can observe all around us!  As a result, we find those purporting to be Roman Catholic apologists straining to find in the statements of passages, such as John 20:30 and 21:25, grounds for the traditions they added later which clearly contradict New Testament teaching.

Luther added the word 'alone' to Romans 3:28?

You write:  'Luther's disdain for the Word of God did not stop at the deutero-canonicals, however.  He wanted to remove the Pentateuch, because he said, 'I have no use for Moses.'  He labeled Moses 'a heretic, yea even worse than the pope and the devil,' for 'burdening our consciences with the Ten Commandments.'  (Apparently Luther forgot it was God who gave the Commandments to Moses in the first place).  Luther despised the book of James, calling it 'an epistle of straw,' which in modern language would probably be rendered 'a crock of shit.'  He wanted to remove it along with Revelation and 2 Peter, and he stopped short of doing so only because his colleagues convinced him he would lose all credibility by doing so.  Instead, he relegated the books he didn't like to the back of the Bible.  Luther also had the audacity to add the word 'alone' to Romans. 3:28 in an attempt to justify his newly-invented doctrine of justification by faith alone.'

TCE:  Luther made many coarse and even arrogant statements as he struggled with the truth that he found plainly stated in the book of Romans, and his path into the full light of justification by faith apart from the works of the law did not occur overnight.  But your attempt to put the language of the Papal Roman Catholic Church into the mouth of Luther fails utterly and your comment on Revelation and 2 Peter needs proving, for he eventually came to terms with the book of James as he saw beyond the puerile interpretation Papal Rome tries to give Chapter 2.  The translation you give to 'epistle of straw' is your problem rather than Luther's.

We can easily show that Luther was correct about justification by faith in Christ apart from the law and works, for Scripture clearly teaches the doctrine (
Romans 4:1-25; Galatians 3:6-14). God justifies 'the one who has faith in Jesus' (Romans 3:26). 'A man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law' (Romans 3:28). 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness' (Romans 4:3). 'Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ' (Romans 5:1).

The 1994
Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing the Council of Trent (Sixth Session, Chapter VII), declares:  'Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man' (paragraph 1989 - emphasis supplied). Clearly, Rome declares by these statements that the Christian's faith in Jesus Christ plus his life of meritorious works leads to his justification before God.  Papal Rome's most tragic error is in declaring that this  justification is never completed in this life so that every adherent to their doctrine is subject to her tyrannies - even beyond the grave - and assurance is an unfamiliar word to Papal Roman Catholics.  Against Rome's teaching stands the testimony of Scripture that affirms that Biblical justification says nothing about the subjective transformation that necessarily begins to occur within the inner life of the Christian through the progressive infusion of grace that commences with the new birth.  This progressive sanctification follows Biblical justification which refers to God's wholly objective, wholly forensic judgment concerning the sinner's standing before the Law, by which forensic judgment God declares that the penitent sinner who trusts Christ is righteous in his sight because of both the imputation of his sin to Christ on which ground he is forgiven and the imputation of Christ's perfect preceptive obedience to him on which ground he is constituted righteous before God. In other words, as Paul states clearly in Scripture after Scripture:

Acts 13:38-39:  '... through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not he justified from by the law of Moses.'

Romans 3:20-22:  ' ... no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law [ergōn nomou]; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known.... This righteousness . from God comes through faith in Jesus Chrisf to all who believe.'

Paul uses the phrase
erga nomou, 'works of law,' eight times:  he affirms that no one can be justified by 'works of law' (Galatians 2:16 [3 times]; Romans 3:20, 28), that the Spirit is not received by 'works of law' (Galatians 3:2,5), and that all those whose religious efforts are characterized by 'works of law' are under the law's curse (Galatians  3:10).  The simple erga in Romans 4:2, 6; 9:12, 32; 11:6; and Ephesians 2:9 almost certainly has the same meaning.  Paul intends by the phrase anything done in accordance with whatever the law commands - the moral law no less than the ritual, the ritual no less than the moral - with the intention of achieving justification or right standing before God.  We have to ask - why would anyone, knowing this, put themselves under the curse that the popes are under?

Romans 3:26:  '[God] justifies those who have faith in Jesus.'

Romans 3:28:  'For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.'

Romans 4:2-6:  'If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about - but not before God. What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works.'

Romans 4:13-14:  'It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless.'

Romans 9:30-32
:  'What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not obtained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.'

Romans 10:4:  'Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.'

On the basis of Paul's statement in
Romans 4:5 to the effect that God 'justifies the wicked' - the same Greek phrase as is used in the LXX (Greek Septuagint) in Exodus 23:7 and Isaiah 5:23 of corrupt judgments on the part of human judges which God will not tolerate.  Paul declares that God does precisely what he commanded human judges not to do but also that he does it in a manner designed 'to demonstrate his justice' (Rom 3:25-26). Of course, Paul relieves what otherwise would be a problem of theodicy by teaching that God justifies the wicked on just grounds, namely, that the claims of God's law upon them have been fully satisfied by Jesus Christ's doing and dying in their stead.

Romans 11:5-6:  '...there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.'

Galatians 2:16:  '...a man is not justified by observing the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.'

Galatians 3:10-11
:  'All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written:  'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.' Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because 'The righteous will live by faith.'

Ephesians 2:8-9:  'For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.'

Philippians 3:9:  .... '...not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law but that [righteousness] which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.'

Titus 3:5,7:  '[God] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.. .so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.'

If we are fully justified by His grace - and there is no Scripture that says differently - then it is no longer by our works and these verses make plain that Paul teaches that justification is by 'faith alone'
(sola fide) in Christ's preceptive and penal obedience - just as Luther declared! 
The moment the penitent sinner casts himself upon God's mercies in Christ, God
pardons him of all his sins and the Greek is absolutely specific about this in these verses:

Acts 10:43 - 'everyone who believes has received [labein] forgiveness of sins,'

Romans 4:6-7
  - 'David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:  'Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven [aphethesan], whose sins are covered [epekaluphthesan]'.

Thus God
constitutes him righteous before Him by imputing or reckoning the righteousness of Christ to him - as the following verse make clear:

Romans 5:1 - '...having been justified [dikaiothentes] by faith;

Romans 5:19 -
'... so also through the obedience of the one man the many shall be constituted [katastathesontai] righteous,';

2 Corinthians 5:21
- 'God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.'
On the basis of his
constituting the ungodly man righteous by his act of imputation, God simultaneously declares the ungodly man to be righteous in his sight. The now-justified ungodly man is then, to employ Luther's expression, simul iustus et peccator ('simultaneously a righteous man and a sinner').  Therefore the doctrine of justification means that, in God's sight, the ungodly man who is now 'in Christ,' has perfectly kept the moral law of God, which also means that 'in Christ' the penitent sinner in God's sight has perfectly loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength and his neighbour as himself.

So Martin Luther declared perfectly correctly that the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith alone, that is, by faith in Christ apart from all our works, is the article of the standing or falling church
(articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae).  John Calvin declared it to be 'the main hinge on which religion turns', 'the sum of all piety,' and the 'first and keenest subject of controversy'' between Rome and the Reformation.

By contrast, Rome's unevangelical, anti-Pauline nomism (a form of 'legalism') has never been repudiated, for she continues to insist on following the teachings of Trent and proving her continuing apostate condition.  Paul condemned the Judaizers' teaching in his day and, were he living today, he would denounce Papal Rome in the exact same terms.

Papal Rome's apologists make much of the two facts that Paul never employs the phrase
'faith alone' and that the only place where the phrase 'faith alone' (Gk. pisteos monon) does occur it is preceded by the words 'not by' (Gk. ouk ek) (James 2:24). But these facts had hardly escaped the attention of Martin Luther and John Calvin, both of whom had heard the same things said in their day and who directly addressed the objection. Luther observed:

Note.. .whether Paul does not assert more vehemently that faith alone justifies than I do, although he does not use the word
alone (Gk. sola), which I have used. For he who says:  Works do not justify, but faith justifies, certainly affirms more strongly that faith justifies than does he who says:  Faith alone justifies... Since the apostle does not ascribe anything to [works], he without doubt ascribes all to faith alone.'  (Martin Luther, What Luther Says, edited by Ewald M. Plass; St. Louis:  Concordia, 1959, 2, 707-8).

Calvin also acknowledged that
alone (Gk. monos) does not appear in Paul's exposition of justification by faith, urges that the thought of 'faith alone' is nonetheless there:

Now the reader sees how fairly the Sophists today cavil against our doctrine, when we say that man is justified by faith alone.  They dare not deny that man is justified by faith because it recurs so often in Scripture.  But since the word 'alone' is nowhere expressed, they do not allow this addition to be made. Is it so? But what will they reply to these words of Paul where he contends that righteousness cannot be of faith unless it be free? How will a free gift agree with works? .... Does not he who takes everything from works firmly enough ascribe everything to faith alone. What, I pray, do these expressions mean:  'His righteousness has been manifested apart from the law'; and, 'Man is freely justified'; and, 'Apart from the works of the law'?'  (John Calvin,
Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.11.19.)

It would be good to see an apologist for Papal Rome answer Calvin's treatment of justification by faith alone which was given almost four hundred and fifty years ago in his
Institutes, 3.11-19. But quite clearly, since Paul never represents faith in Christ as a work but rather as a divine gift whereby the sinner looks away from himself and his work to Christ's doing and dying, and since Paul always sets faith in Christ -  that is, the receiving and resting upon what God has done for us and freely offers to us in Christ - over against even our good works (Titus 3:5), then it must be by faith alone that sinners are justified.  Paul's sustained emphasis on justification by faith in Christ as alone the justifying instrument is not exactly rarely found in Scripture, but dominates his work on the subject, e.g.:  Galatians 2:16; 3:1-14, 22-24; 5:2-11; 6:12-16; Romans 1:17; 3:20-22, 24,28; 4:2-12; 5:1, 12-19; 8:1,28-39;9:30-32; 11:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5.

As has been made clear, anyone who looks not only to the work of Christ but also to his own 'good' works for his justification and/or counsels others that they must do the same becomes guilty of the same heresy that the Judaizers committed in the churches of Galatia and thus falls under the Pauline anathema of
Galatians 1:8-9.

Since James' statement in James 2:24  is claimed to be significant in this matter, we must examine what he means by his statement:

'You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone'

It has always been urged by Roman Catholic apologists (see Council of Trent, Sixth Session, Chapters VII, X) that
James 2:14-26 is a corrective to the Protestant (not the Pauline) 'heresy' that justification is through faith alone completely apart from works, for James expressly declares:  'You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone [ex ergon dikaioutai anthrōpos kai ouk ek pisteōs monon]' (2:24).  But an exacting exegetical analysis of James' teaching will disclose, as John Murray ('Appendix A:  Justification,' The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1968, 1, 351) states, that 'in James the accent [falls] upon the probative character of good works, whereas in the Pauline polemic the accent falls without question upon the judicially constitutive and declarative [character of justification].'  Paul and James clearly mean something different by their use of the words 'justified,' 'faith,' and 'works,' and they turn to different places in Genesis and thus to different events in Abraham's life to support their respective applications of Genesis 15:6.

What is meant by this?  Whereas Paul intends by 'justified' the
actual act on God's part whereby He pardons and imputes righteousness to the ungodly, James intends by 'justified' the verdict which God declares when the actually (previously) justified man has demonstrated his actual righteous state by obedience and good works.'

How can this be proven?  That a distinction must be drawn between God's
actual act of justification, whereby he pardons and constitutes the sinner righteous, and his subsequent declaring of this act of justification whereby he openly acquits the justified sinner before others is borne out by our Lord's actions in connection with the woman who washed his feet in Luke 7:36-50. He openly declares to Simon the Pharisee and to the woman herself that her many sins were forgiven (v47-48) 'because she loved much [hoti ēgapēsen polu]' (v47).  But it is apparent that she had already been actually forgiven on some previous occasion because her acts of devotion toward him - the fruit and evidence of a lively faith - were due, he states, to her having already had 'her debt cancelled' (v41-43).  The chain of events then is as follows:  On some previous occasion Jesus had forgiven her (this was her actual justification, and Paul's concern). This provoked in her both love for him and acts of devotion toward him. This outward evidence of her justified state evoked from Christ his open declaration to Simon that she was forgiven (her declared justification, the interest of James).

Whereas Paul intends by 'faith' trustful repose in the merits of Christ alone for pardon and righteousness, James is addressing those whose 'faith' was leaning toward, if it had not already become, a cold, orthodox intellectualism in which bare assent is given to such propositions as 'God is one' which even the demons confess with seemingly greater appreciation, for they tremble (
2:19) - but which is devoid of any exhibition of love for the brethren.

Whereas Paul, when he repudiates 'works,' intends by 'works' 'the works of the law,' that is,
any and every work of whatever kind done for the sake of acquiring merit, James intends by 'works' acts of kindness toward those in need performed as the fruit and evidence of a true and vital faith and the actual justified state (2:14-17).  Paul is concerned with the question, how may a man achieve right standing before God, and turns to Genesis 15:6 to find his answer, while James is concerned with the question, how is a man to demonstrate that he has true faith and is therefore actually justified before God, and turns to Genesis 22:9-10, as the probative 'fulfillment' of Genesis 15:6 (see Genesis 22:12), to find his answer (2:21). Note he says 'show me' [deixon] and  'I will show you' [deixō ] in 2:18; and he states 'you see' [blepeis] in 2:22; and 'you see' [horate] at the beginning of 2:24 -  the very verse under discussion:  'You see that a man is justified by [his] works, and not by [his] faith alone'.

Finally, whereas Paul believed with all his heart that men are justified by
faith alone in Christ, he, as forthrightly as James does (2:17, 26), insists that faith, if alone, is not true but counterfeit faith:  'For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. [What counts] is faith working through love [pistis di' agapēs energoumenē ]' (Galatians 5:6), an  expression which is hardly different in meaning from James' expression:  'You see that [his] faith was working with [Abraham's] works, and by works [his] faith was brought to its goal [blepeis hoti hē  pistis sunērgei tois ergois autou kai ek tōn ergōn hē pistis eteleiōthē ]  (2:22). Paul can also speak of the Christian's 'work of faith' [tou ergou tēs pisteōs], that is, construing the genitive as a subjective genitive, 'the work produced by or originating from faith' (1 Thessalonians 1:3).  In the very context where he asserts that we are saved by grace through faith and 'not by works' [ouk ex ergōn] Paul can declare that we are 'created in Christ Jesus for good works [epi ergois agathis] which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them' (Ephesians 2:8-10).  In sum, whereas for James 'faith without works is dead,' for Paul 'faith working through love' is inevitable if the faith being considered is true faith, which amounts to exactly the same thing, only stated somewhat more positively.  Clearly, there is no contradiction between them and we find that both Paul and James believed in justification by faith alone and both believed that faith without works, as probative evidence of that faith, is dead faith.  To believe anything else is to go back to Luther's view and apply the title 'epistle of straw' to many passages of scripture, for the truth is clear that Papal Rome cannot handle the clear Pauline doctrine which he learned from the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

If it was possible to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the
entire Christian world that justification is, as Roman Catholicism and other cults maintain, not by faith alone in Christ but by faith in Christ plus human efforts looked upon by God as possessing congruent merit, such a demonstration would still not be any foundation for anyone becoming a Roman Catholic. For far from the Roman Catholic Church being the sole depository of the 'fullness of grace and truth' as it contends in the Vatican document entitled, 'Declaration 'Dominus Iesus' On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church' (Sections 16 and 17, dated August 6, 2000), it is, within professing Christendom, the ecclesiastical epitome of serious doctrinal error.  Its theology is systemically filled with all kinds of idolatries in connection with its doctrines of transubstantiation and the mediation of Mary and the saints, its images and relics, and its works salvation, and it makes idolaters out of virtually everyone who enters into its communion. And idolaters do not go to heaven.

It is a tragic irony that several of Roman Catholicism's most competent modern Biblical scholars (for example, Brendan Byrne, a Jesuit and member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Joseph Fitzmyer, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America, and Raymond E. Brown, late Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Union Theological Seminary, New York) concede that the Pauline
dikaioō (a verb denoting 'to declare to be righteous, to pronounce righteous') has primarily and fundamentally a forensic meaning.  Further, the very same document of the Second Vatican Council, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964), asserts on the one hand Trent's medieval doctrine of justification but, in the ultimate paradox, also makes the entire doctrine irrelevant on the other by teaching that all sincere people are saved, whatever their faith or lack of it.  An official footnote to the offending paragraph [16] elaborates:

'The Council is careful to add that men unacquainted with the biblical revelation, and even those who have not arrived at explicit faith in God, may by the grace of Christ attain salvation if they sincerely follow the lights God gives them.

With this one statement, everything that modern Rome teaches about justification is blown out of the water! 
What is the point of any Papal Roman Catholic arguing about Luther's supposed addition of 'alone', or what Scripture means by dikaioo, when everyone can be saved by sincerity?  Apparently, even the sincere atheist, who has not arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, can be saved as long as he lives a good life.  By responding to the light of conscience, he is (without knowing it) responding in a salvific way to Christ.'

As we have stated on other pages of this site, Papal Rome has never been the home of orthodoxy, but modern Rome now houses every kind of heretical mix of Tridentine conservative, crypto-Lutheran, moderate liberal, and outright syncretist beliefs, with an over-all drift toward total religious pluralism.  The Papal Catholicism you think you are defending and to which the misguided think they are converting - Thomistic, Tridentine and devoutly Christian (at least in a historic creedal sense) - no longer exists.  Even if such a Rome existed, it would still be the wrong choice, until or unless it reformed its official teaching about justification and the myriad of other errors in doctrine and practice that it has inculcated into its body.  It was in response to such error that the apostle Paul was inspired to write:

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you:  Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?.. .Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:1-5)

Thus we prove that Luther's supposed addition of 'alone,' which has long been a bug-bear of the Papal Roman Catholic Church, is fully Scriptural -  which is more than can be aid for the re-writing job of Sixtus V which you seem to have forgotten about!

However, what can we say about the many
'and's' which Papal Rome has added to Scriptural truth?  Where the Holy Scripture and classical Protestantism have placed their solus ('alone') (as in sola scriptura, sola gratia, solus Christus, sola fide, soli Deo gloria), Papal Roman Catholic theology has continued to place its et ('and') - as in:

  • Scripture and Tradition as its authority [The Bible teaches that Scripture alone is the authority for the believer];
  • God and man play a determining role in the accomplishment of salvation. [The Bible and classical Protestantism teach that Christ s saving work at Calvary was a unique,  'once for all,' atoning work which he alone accomplished];
  • Papal Rome places its 'and' in the sphere of the application of salvation [The Bible teaches that Christ, by his Word and Spirit, applies the benefits of his redemption to his own, but Rome adds its 'and' so they have Christ and the 'meritorious' work of Mary, and the supererogatory work of its other saints, to this applicational work of the Godhead].
  • Papal Rome teaches that the proper object of saving faith is Christ and the Roman church (which it would appear for most Catholics becomes faith in the Roman church and its sacraments).
  • Papal Rome teaches that the great mass of Christians, who are only imperfectly 'justified' in this life, dying in communion with the church, go to purgatory after death and 'undergo purification [by suffering in the fires of purgatory], so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 1030).
  • Papal Rome assert that faith in Christ is not alone - their 'and' applies to images of Christ, and the Mother of God ever Virgin, and of the other saints - which should be owned and kept, and due honour and veneration should be given to them.
  • Papal Rome affirms that Christ and the Holy Spirit are not enough to keep the sinner, and the divine forgiveness possible only through the godhead, needs help - so they have the godhead and indulgences and relics - as if the fallible and variable opinions of the popes and inanimate lumps of garbage could possibly influence the God of the Bible!

Once again, Papal Rome is found to be at odds with reason and Scripture!

(Continued on page 289)

Full Menu

Topics discussed on pages responding to Roman Catholics
Section 8-25:

Do TCE write out of 'hatred of the Catholic Church'?

'Two sides to every story' - or the truth versus the lies?

Scandalous behaviour of 'just a few popes'?

Luther was far from perfect - but Salvation is not based on him or his doctrines!

Luther struggled to leave all of Rome's corrupt doctrines

Hagiography - a sure mark of 'religion' and religiosity

Don't check out the facts when your mind is made up?

Are the scandals of Papal Rome acceptable?

Why does Rome persecute those following the Bible alone?

Have there really been only 'a few scandalous popes'?

Has Rome really 'survived 20 centuries'?

The blasphemy of Mariolatry

Matthew 23 describes the clergy of Rome!

'Some popes were great sinners … Luther … was far more scandalous'

Luther taught that good works were to be avoided/performing them was a mortal sin 

'Luther's' Protestant society much more immoral than Papal Rome?!

Luther threw out seven entire books of the Bible

Luther added the word 'alone' to Romans 3:28?

Protestants still use Luther's canon of the Bible instead of the rightful Catholic one

Protestant-Fundamentalism began a hundred years ago? - I

Protestant-Fundamentalism began a hundred years ago? - II

Who have conflicting beliefs and no unity of doctrine - 'Protestants' or Roman Catholics?

Catholics were just about the only Christians around until the Reformation - did Rome kill millions?

Were other heresies around before the Reformation?

The Papal Doctrine of 'The Two Swords'

The 'first' Protestants persecuted Roman Catholics?

Who really massacred millions?

Who really began the witch-hunts!

Witchcraft was one excuse used to persecute 'heretics' such as the Anabaptists

Oliver Cromwell:  Lord Protector of England (1599-1658)

Can anyone claim that Rome is even slightly Biblical?

How did we actually get the Bible?

Can Rome logically deny Sola Scriptura?

Did the apostles consult Scripture or the Holy Spirit?

Does 'Tradition' - 'oral teachings' of the apostles - have a place?

Passages in Scripture point to the importance of Tradition?

No Christian faith is more closely aligned with the Bible than Catholicism?

Baptism is necessary for salvation?

Keeping 'The Commandments' is essential for salvation?

'Once Saved Always Saved' means you can wilfully sin?

The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is Biblical?

The Bible is not the sole authority in matters of faith?

Catholicism was present from New Testament times?

Peter is always listed as the first apostle in all the gospels?

Jesus didn't say that Peter would be perfect in behavior - only in his teaching?

Early Christians prove the Papal view of the Eucharist is correct?

Claims of 'cannibalism' prove the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?!

A letter to Clement proves that the Corinthians appealed to a Bishop and did not consult Scripture?

An Ignatius letter proves Papal Rome's 'presidency'?

Ignatius tells us that the Eucharist is truly the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ?

Justin also emphasizes the fact that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?

Irenaeus supports the Roman Catholic view of the Papacy and the listing of the Bishops of Rome?

Polycarp mentions Ignatius approvingly - and this supports the claims of Papal Rome?

Do the Church Fathers' beliefs support Rome or 'Fundamentalist' beliefs?

Salvation from the Perspective of the Early Church Fathers





Papal Roman Catholic HERESIES

If the Catholic Church were really a tool of Satan, then its exorcism rite would go against the words of Jesus?

Satan was jealous of Padre Pio and 'attacks' by Satan and evil spirits prove he was used by God?

If the Catholic Church is a tool of Satan, why does Satan harass holy Catholics?

Do Catholics check their minds in at the door?

Should we point out Papal anti-democratic behaviour - as well as the heretical nature of some 'Protestant' pastors? 

Papists believe that each 'Protestant' has the right to interpret the Bible personally so that millions of 'views' exist?

Protestants don't have Christian unity while 'one billion Catholics' have 'one set of doctrine'?

'Protestant' arguments have little power against Catholics who know the Bible and History?

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