July 3, 2010

  • Question 258 – Does Quanto Conficiamur Moerore deny Original Sin? 4

    “RS: We are not judging God. We are merely accepting God’s testimony that he is a fair and just God and does not lie, and we make our subsequent conclusions on that basis.”

     

    DF: God is fair and just, but He says nowhere in scripture that an unrighteous, depraved, fallen sinner, can be saved by general revelation or by looking looking at nature. If fact, he says they ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

     

    RS: Read Romans 2:6-8 or Romans 2:14 again. In the latter, St. Paul says that some men disobey and some men “do instinctively the things of the law.” It is these same men who obey that , in vr. 13, are said to be “justified by their works.” Don, your problem is that you’ve already decided that you must exclude these passages from your understanding of how God works in salvation. Instead of believing that God wants to save the Amazon and is waiting for him to “do instinctively the things of the law,” you claim that God put him in the Amazon precisely because he doesn’t want to save him. That is a perversion of both God and salvation. 

     

    RS: Read Romans 2:13-16:

    DF: I read it, but using the analogy of scripture look at Gal 2:16–” knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified”

     

    RS: This is another problem you have, Don. You make your favorite verses rule out the ones that don’t fit into your preconceived theology, instead of trying to see the truth of both verses. Galatians 2:16 is not talking about people who don’t hear the Gospel, but people who have, namely, the Jews. Romans 2:13-15 is talking about Gentile men who have not had the Gospel preached to them as the Jews have, but who still can be justified by doing what the law requires.

     

    DF: How can a unregenerate be born again? John 3 says you MUST be born again.

     

    RS: God’s grace does it, and he can apply it any way he wishes.

     

    RS: As with most Protestants, you take this scripture out of context. It is Romans 10:17. The context, beginning in verse 16, concerns the Jews who actually heard the Gospel but refused to obey it. In other words, the Gospel came to them by the word of Christ, verbally and directly, but they refused to listen. The verse is NOT teaching that someone must hear the Gospel in order to be saved. In fact, Paul directly answers and defeats your argument about general revelation, since in verse 18 he says that the Gospel was not only preached to the Jews directly by the word of Christ, but also, in Paul’s quote from Psalm 19:4 (“into all the earth went their voice, and to the ends of the world their words”), it was preached to them by the very creation of God as seen in the cosmos, not merely the actual preached word. According to Paul, both are sufficient to bring the message of God. One does so directly, the other indirectly.

    DF: It’s referring to the Israel. Yes, they heard the gospel but they rejected it. As for Psalm 19:4 that is a stretch to say the creation is the same as preaching the gospel, the Atonement, being regenerate, Born Again, Justified, sanctified, glorified,  adopted as Sons of God, etc.

     

    RS: Don, your preconceived idea about the Gospel is now denying the very Scripture passage that says the creation is used of God to bring the message of God’s existence and the possibility for salvation. Go read Romans 10:18 again. It says that the Jews “heard” the “word of God” by the fact that God made the creation.  It’s the same thing that Paul says in Romans 1:18-20 and Romans 2:6-8 and 13-15.

     

    DF: So if a man that doesn’t know Christ, the gospel, hasn’t been regenerated, is lost, living in the flesh can be saved, then there are two ways of salvation. The Cross and nature. If that’s the case, Christ did not have to die, all one has to do is look at nature, hug a tree and worship whatever he thinks is the thing to worship. They do not have saving faith, and worship or works without faith is sin.

     

    RS: Don, you haven’t been listening to me. I’ve never said there were two ways of salvation. I’ve made it very clear to you that anyone who is saved is saved by Christ’s atonement and nothing else. Let me say it again. The Gospel comes directly and indirectly, that is, by direct preaching and also indirectly by the creation; man’s conscience; and the law written on his heart by God. In whatever way the message comes to man, and whatever way he comes to repentance, it is Christ alone who saves him.

     

    RS: They are in hell because THEY refused God, not because God arbitrarily decided not to give them the same opportunity to be saved. Scripture NEVER teaches that people are in hell because God didn’t give them the same opportunity to be saved. If you know of one, be sure to let me know.

    DF: No, and God desiring all to be saved, is not talking about all without exception, and you know it. If God DESIRED all without exception to be saved, all would be and hell would be empty.

     

    RS: There you go again, Don. Since 1 Timothy 2:4 (“God desire all men to be saved”) doesn’t fit into your preconceived theology, you claim that it doesn’t mean what it says it means, just like all Calvinists. Unfortunately for you, there is no passage that says God desired to save only some but the rest he didn’t desire to save. Or can you find me such a passage, Don? The missing piece in your theology is free will. With man’s free will to reject God, God can desire him to be saved but will not intrude upon his free will to reject God if the man so chooses. You need to get rid of your Calvinism, Don. It’s making you distort and ignore Scriptures you don’t like.

     

    RS; But that is not what free will is…..

    DF: Come on Robert, WHAT free will? We are all born under a death sentence. What’s free about that? The only “free will” we have is to be able to act according to our essence and nature, which is a child of wrath and at enmity with God, until the Holy Spirit enables us to believe.

     

    RS: Right, the Holy Spirit enables us to believe. We couldn’t do it without his prompting grace. But the decision to act on the Holy Spirit’s grace is from the gift of free will that the same Holy Spirit gave us. That’s what Scripture says, Don. It is constantly asking man to exercise his free will and accept God.

     

    RS: Whatever. The point remains: all men are under the curse of sin and death from Adam and need salvation from Christ in order to be saved. You were implying that I don’t believe that.

    DF: I’m not implying that, that’s what you said. How in the world can someone who never heard the gospel, is at enmity with God, doesn’t know Christ, be regenerated by hugging a tree? All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. All die, therefore all have sinned. Without the Holy Spirit regenerating a person, they are lost, and you can’t tell me our native can be regenerated. If so, show me scripture.

     

    RS: I’ve already shown them to you but you don’t want to listen to them (Romans 1:18-20; 2:6-8; 2:13-15; 10:18). Like all Calvinists, you relegate these passages to the hypothetical and, in reality, you make St. Paul a liar.

     

    DF: General revelation cannot save, but only further condemn. God hates sin, and the lost, unregenerate is sin. Looking at the trees won’t do it.

     

    RS: That’s right. Hugging trees never saved anyone. Only Christ saves. The tree merely shows the man that Christ made the tree and thus Christ requires his honor and obedience. Otherwise, how could he “be without excuse,” as you claimed earlier, Don? Obviously, even in your own truncated theology the man recognizes God’s existence by the fact that he can hug a tree that God made, since you say that that same man now has no excuse for knowing that God’s exists. You’re only problem is that you won’t let that same men repent and do the things God requires, but Paul says otherwise.

     

    RS: Right, regeneration is from the Spirit of God who does the regeneration after man accepts God by faith when he sees his handiwork in the cosmos. That’s Paul’s argument in Romans 10:18.

    DF: And HOW can a man, before being regenerated, while in the flesh, while still a child of wrath, at enmity with God, “accept” God? You are attributing to fleshly man, something that is impossible for him to perform. God regenerates, THEN the person is able to have faith. Like John 3:27 says, or 1 cor 4:7 states, all gifts our from above. And of course, Heb 12:2 says that God is the AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH. We must be enabled to believe or we are lost.

     

    RS: And I’ve said the same thing about a half dozen times to you already – we must be enabled to believe. Go back and read my posts about God’s prompting grace.

     

    DF: It’s not whether the fallen man accepts God, but the point is does God accept the sinner?

     

    RS: According to Paul in Romans 2:13-14, there are some whom God does accept.

     

    DF: Robert, this could go on and on and we are not going to agree. That’s fine. I will finish your study of Romans and will enjoy it. I’ll try not to start anymore arguments.

     

    Peace

     

    Don Fahrenkrug

     

    RS: I hope you enjoy the rest of the study. Just remember one thing, Don: ALL Scripture is given for teaching, correction, training and service. When you find that your interpretation of one Scripture conflicts with your interpretation of another, then you are on the wrong track. Making Romans 2 hypothetical and, in turn, making Romans 3 the only reality, is not good exegesis. It will lead to a distorted view of both God and Scripture, as well as QCM.

     

    Final Response:

     

    Robert, I will indeed enjoy the rest of the bible study. I agree that scripture cannot contradict scripture and we have to be careful to keep things in context.

     

    I’ve read some commentaries that make Romans 2 hypothetical,  and that’s because they don’t want to face head on Romans 2:6-10.

     

    I pray that you and your family are doing well.

     

    Don Fahrenkrug

     

    R. Sungenis: Don, glad you think that way about Romans 2. That’s a start in the right direction.

     

    God be with you.

  • Question 257 – Does Quanto Conficiamur Moerore deny Original Sin? 3

    DF: I don’t need to delete Romans 1 & 2. And I did read your comments.  Who are we to judge whether God is fair or not?

     

    RS: We are not judging God. We are merely accepting God’s testimony that he is a fair and just God and does not lie, and we make our subsequent conclusions on that basis.

     

    DF: No where in Scripture does it say General Revelation is enough to save someone. It is enough to condemn someone further, because they are without excuse for suppressing the truth. I think of evolutionists, who stick to their dogma and really do suppress the truth that the universe was created and didn’t just happen.

     

    RS: Read Romans 2:13-16:

    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. 14 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them. 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

     

    Verse 13 says that the doers of the law will be justified (saved), and then Paul uses the Gentiles who obey the law (“do by nature what the law requires”) as examples of those who are doers of the law and will be justified because of their obedience. 

     

    DF: You cannot be saved without faith, and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the preaching of the Word, as Romans points out.

     

    RS: As with most Protestants, you take this scripture out of context. It is Romans 10:17. The context, beginning in verse 16, concerns the Jews who actually heard the Gospel but refused to obey it. In other words, the Gospel came to them by the word of Christ, verbally and directly, but they refused to listen. The verse is NOT teaching that someone must hear the Gospel in order to be saved. In fact, Paul directly answers and defeats your argument about general revelation, since in verse 18 he says that the Gospel was not only preached to the Jews directly by the word of Christ, but also, in Paul’s quote from Psalm 19:4 (“into all the earth went their voice, and to the ends of the world their words”), it was preached to them by the very creation of God as seen in the cosmos, not merely the actual preached word. According to Paul, both are sufficient to bring the message of God. One does so directly, the other indirectly.

     

    DF: Your tribal man is in the natural state of the flesh, and the flesh cannot please God. In fact, the natural man not only has no ability to come to God, he is at enmity with God and is, by nature, a child of wrath. Eph 2:1-5

     

    RS: Granted, but when God gives him grace to respond, as is apparently the case of the man in Romans 2:4-16, then the man can fight the natural tendencies of his flesh and begin to please God.

     

    DF: Yes, a few gentiles joined Israel and were saved, but the gentile nations were not chosen by God. They were left in their paganism.

     

    RS: Yes, but we are not talking about the nations at large but about individuals from those nations who fit the description of Romans 2:13-15. To claim that no individuals from those nations were saved without coming to Israel is not information the Scripture gives you.

     

    DF: God doesn’t gave the same opportunity to all,

     

    RS: Not according to Scripture:

    1 Timothy 2:3-4: “This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

    Romans 2:9-11:  There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

     

    DF: since some are in hell.

     

    RS: They are in hell because THEY refused God, not because God arbitrarily decided not to give them the same opportunity to be saved. Scripture NEVER teaches that people are in hell because God didn’t give them the same opportunity to be saved. If you know of one, be sure to let me know.

     

    DF: Faith is a gift. If all without exception were given that gift, then why do some accept and some do not? If the difference is in the individual, then the one that accepts would have something to boast about, which contradicts scripture–1 Cor 4:7.

     

    RS: No, because once again, you are taking Scriptures out of context and making illogical conclusions based on preconceived ideas. This is the perennial problem with most Protestant interpretations. Yes, faith is a gift, but that truth says nothing about how one acquires the gift. If he acquires it by a decision of his free will in cooperation with God’s moving grace (as opposed to your belief that God just gives it to him without the man’s cooperation), it is still a “gift” either way, because free will doesn’t mean that one is earning anything from God or that he can boast that God owes him something. Boasting involves the idea that one has God under contract and that God is obligated to give. But that is not what free will is. It means we respond to God’s grace, and if we respond positively, God still doesn’t owe us anything. Rather, he gives it to us by his intrinsic benevolence and good will. If we respond negatively and refuse the gift of faith, then, of course, God has no option but to send that individual to hell.

     

    DF: John 3:27: “John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”

     

    RS: Certainly. But what is given from heaven can also be refused by someone on earth. THAT is why people go to hell. Not because God didn’t give him the same thing he gave someone else.

     

    DF: Or James 1:17–”Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

     

    RS: Certainly.

     

    DF: Phil 1:29–” For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”

     

    RS: No argument from me.

     

    DF: You say the man can be saved if he does what God requires. And what might that be?

     

    RS: Read Romans 2:13-15. That is your answer.

     

    DF: How can that natural man, dead in trespasses and sin and at enmity with God, the one who is in the flesh and CANNOT please God, that man that is spiritually dead, how can that man do anything toward God?

     

    RS: He can do so after God gives him the grace to do so. The problem I see here, Don, is that you have imbibed the Calvinistic “total depravity” presupposition, and do not believe that God gives prompting grace to the man who is dead in trespasses and sins. But the Catholic Church teaches that God gives all man actual grace to respond to him, but prior to that actual grace he is absolutely dead in trespasses and sins and cannot respond. From that prompting grace, man decides with his free will whether he will respond positively or negatively, and his decision will determine his eternal destiny. This is covered in the Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapters 4-5.

     

    DF: 1 Cor 2:14–”But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

     

    RS: That’s right. The “natural man” must be prompted by the grace of God in order to respond.

     

    “RS: Has nothing to do with what we are talking about, since I never said the Amazon was not under condemnation for sin.”

    DF: It’s not the Amazon, but the people who are under condemnation. I assume that’s what you meant.

     

    RS: Whatever. The point remains: all men are under the curse of sin and death from Adam and need salvation from Christ in order to be saved. You were implying that I don’t believe that.

     

    DF: Romans 2:13-15–for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)”

     

    And the law saves no one, according to Paul in Galatians.

     

    RS: Again, you are taking things out of context, or, even worse, conflating texts that are talking about two different things. In Galatians, Paul is teaching that the law, in and of itself, cannot save anyone (Galatians 3:10-11). No argument from me or the Catholic Church. Canon 1 of Trent says the same: “If anyone shall say that man can be justified before God by his own works which are done either by his own natural powers, or through the teaching of the Law, and without divine grace through Christ Jesus: let him be anathema.” But Paul also teaches that works done under the grace of God are rewarded by grace, not law. This is precisely what he teaches in…

     

    Romans 2:6-8: “For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.”

     

     And the same in James 2:21-24:

    “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

     

    DF: A person that never heard the gospel would not know Christ or the gospel.

     

    RS: Granted, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be saved. You are still working under your unproven premise from Romans 10:17, the one you took out of context.

     

    DF: Regeneration is NOT by looking at nature.

     

    RS: Right, regeneration is from the Spirit of God who does the regeneration after man accepts God by faith when he sees his handiwork in the cosmos. That’s Paul’s argument in Romans 10:18.

     

    DF: We can speculate or wish, or hope God saves without means, but that isn’t what the scriptures teach.

     

    RS: Right, the means is the Holy Spirit, the Person who goes where He wills without us necessarily knowing how he does so and when he does so (John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”)

     

    DF: How does the lost man, by nature a child of wrath, know about the Atonement or even care about it? Those things are spiritually discerned and CANNOT be understood by the natural man.

     

    RS: By God’s prompting grace.

     

    DF: There is no scripture whatsoever that says regeneration can occur to someone who knows nothing about Christ, nothing about the gospel, and is at enmity with God.

     

    RS: So Paul’s is speaking about men in Romans 2:6-8 who obey and are rewarded with eternal life, and he believes they do so without being regenerated?? And he also speaks about the same man being “justified by works” in Romans 2:13, and says this is the same man who obeyed his conscience in doing God’s will in verses 14-15, but he gets this justification without being regenerated?? You need to read all of Scripture, Don, not just the passages that give you one side of the story without the other side. Scripture needs to be read in context, not proof-texts.

  • Question 256 – Does Quanto Conficiamur Moerore deny Original Sin? 2

    Don,

     

    Thanks for the discussion, but you should read what I say more carefully. See my comments below.

     

    Robert

     

    Buy Robert, my friend, God is not obligated to save anyone at all. He does out of his mercy and for his glory.

     

    RS: I never said he was. I said that to be fair and just God gives everyone the same opportunity to be saved.

     

    You are making things up to fit your theology, not going my the Scriptures. The wages of sin is death. All sin and fall short of the glory of God. Therefore, the man in the jungle has sinned and is under a death sentence, unless regenerated.

     

    RS: I never said he wasn’t under a death sentence. I said he could be saved just like everyone else if he does what God requires.

     

    Looking at nature is enough to show there is a God that created everything, but general revelation is not enough to save. You can’t look at the stars or the trees and come up with the gospel. Nature doesn’t tell you that Christ died for your sins, was buried, and raised on the third day. Rather basic stuff.

    There are no scriptures whatsoever that say that person that has never heard the gospel can be saved by general revelation. We are not to question God, as Paul stated in Romans. Who in the heck are we to judge God?

     

    RS: According to Paul, you don’t need explicit knowledge of Christ to be saved, per his argument in Romans 2:13-15. All one needs is an Atonement provided by Christ, outside of which no one can be saved.

     

    If God put a person in the jungle out of touch with civilization, my guess is he knows what he is doing, and like Acts 17:26 states, he determines when we are born, to what set of parents, and where we will be born.

     

    RS: Putting a person in the jungle has nothing to do with whether he can be saved or not. You are mixing apples and oranges. Paul was merely trying to tell the Athenians that the real God knows and does everything, and they don’t need to worship their multitudinous false gods.

     

    Look at the OT. God chose Israel, but let the gentile nations go their condemned way. Was the “unfair” of God? Of course not.

     

    RS: Not really. Romans 2:13-15 says the Gentiles could be saved with the knowledge and conscience they had. By the same token, Paul says that only a remnant of Jews were saved in Israel (Rom 11:5). God was fair to both.

     

    I am correct on all points, and you are incorrect. There are no scriptures that say you can be saved without faith in Christ.

    RS: But those Scripture are concerned only with people who actually hear about Christ. Obviously, if they hear about Christ and reject him, then cannot be saved. We are talking about those who don’t hear about Christ. Paul is clear that they too can be saved.

     

    According to Augustine, the transmission of Adam’s sin was immediate, not mediate. As you know, Romans 5 is clear on that.

     

    RS: Has nothing to do with what we are talking about, since I never said the Amazon was not under condemnation for sin.

     

    You are saying that a person can be saved without Christ,

     

    RS: Nope, never said that. All that are saved are saved by Christ’s atonement. There is no other name under heaven by which men are saved.

     

    without any knowledge of the gospel,

     

    RS: Paul says God wrote his laws on their heart (Romans 2:14-15) and by their works they will be justified or condemned (Romans 2:9-13). When the Gospel proper comes with the advent of Jesus Christ, men now have much more of responsibility to repent and do the work of God than those they didn’t have the Gospel proper preached to them, but all of them can be saved with what God gave them.

     

    and without being regenerated. Prove it by scripture.

     

    RS: Don’t need to prove it by Scripture, since I never said it.

     

    Now, my friend, I know you are a busy fellow and don’t have time to argue with me.

     

    RS: I’m in this for the truth, Don. It doesn’t matter with whom I argue the points to get to the truth.

     

    I took your bible study because I want the Catholic, Arminian view from the best. And you are the best Catholic Theologian/Apologists in the country, if not the world. So I take your comments seriously and I will continue the study.

     

    RS: Thanks for the compliment! But if you want to take my comments “seriously,” then try not to ‘read into’ them.

     

    If you go by Scripture, I am right and you are wrong on this. This guy in the jungle being saved by general revelation is about as bad as Paragraph 841 that the demonic, false, pagan, violent, bloodthirsty, lunatics and morons that go by the pagan religion of Islam, worship the same God we do. Wrong! They worship a pagan, unknown, and unknowable God. Be worship a Triune God.

     

    RS: You’re mixing apples and oranges again. General revelation doesn’t save anyone. Christ saves, period. General revelation (Romans 1:18-20) and the conscience and laws written on his heart (Romans 2:14-15) can be used of God to bring him to repentance and justification (Romans 2:4-13), but all is done by, with and through Christ. If that is not true, then I suggest you delete Romans 1 & 2 from your Bible, since you are not paying attention to what Paul says there. :)

     

    I will try and restrain myself with my comments and enjoy the bible study.

     

    I wish you, your family and your 34 kids a fantastic day.

     

    Sincerely,

    Don Fahrenkrug

     

    RS: Wrong again. I have 10 kids! :) God be with you, Don.

  • Question 255 – Quanto Conficiamur Moerore deny Original Sin?

    ROBERT:

    In Quanto Conficiamur Moerore:  “…God will not permit, in accord with his infinite goodness and mercy, anyone not guilty of a voluntary fault to suffer eternal punishment.”

     

    That’s a rather interesting statement. What happened to Original Sin? All sin “in Adam,” therefore we are all born under a death sentence, including the lost little tribal man in the deepest jungles of the Amazon. No exceptions other than Christ.

     

    If that tribal man can be saved without knowing that Jesus Christ lived, died, was buried and rose on the third day, for the forgiveness of our sins, THEN why did Christ have to die? If this man can be saved by hugging a tree and giving thanks to God for the tree, the Cross was unnecessary.

     

    I would think that the tribal man who has never heard the gospel has ALREADY BEEN JUDGED. According to Acts 17:26:

     

    “and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation”

     

    Since God knows “completely, the minds and souls of men, etc…” by Him putting that person in the Amazon, he’s been judged; otherwise God would have been him in the United States next door to the Immaculate Conception church, so to speak. But no, he stuck him in the jungle.

     

    On this one I believe the Protestant interpretation is correct. General Revelation can only further condemn, not save.

     

    Don Fahrenkrug

     

    R. Sungenis: Don, take this kindly, but you are incorrect on all counts. First, QCM is not dealing with the topic of Original Sin but with the topic of Actual Sin. Catholic theology must be read in context. Second, yes, there are no exceptions outside of Christ, but this doesn’t mean that the man in the Amazon is saved without Christ. Having conscious knowledge about Christ is not the same as being saved by Christ. Third, if one does not have conscious knowledge about Christ the corollary cannot be that Christ died in vain. Christ can apply his atonement to whomever he wishes. Although water Baptism and explicit knowledge of Christ are the normal means, Christ can use extraordinary means, since God is greater than his sacraments and greater than man’s predicament of global isolation. If we were dependent on everything being perfect before we received salvation, hardly anyone would be saved. Christ’s salvation must work not only through man’s sin but also through the consequences of that sin (e.g., that a man in the Amazon may not have had the privilege of actually hearing about Christ in his lifetime). As Jesus said about the sabbath (“the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”) and allowed abnormal circumstances to be remedied on the sabbath (e.g., saving an ox that fell into a ditch), so it is with salvation. Salvation was made for man, not man for salvation. There are abnormal circumstances we confront in this sinful world (e.g., an Amazon who cannot hear the Gospel). But if we allow salvation only for certain candidates (e.g., those that actually hear about Christ) then we make man for salvation, not salvation for man. Fourth, it is incorrect to say that God put the man in the Amazon because he doesn’t intend to save him. This is an ex post facto fallacy. Not even Protestant theology teaches that God put him in the Amazon because he doesn’t intend to save him. No, the solution is that every man has the opportunity to be saved despite his condition, otherwise God would not be just. God’s integrity is at stake here, and thus you can depend upon it that God is fair to everyone, otherwise Christianity isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. According to Romans 1-2, the Amazon man knows God exists and what God requires of him. QCM is merely saying that if he obeys those requirements, he can have Christ’s atonement applied to him and thus have eternal life, regardless whether or not he actually hears of Christ before he dies. That is exactly what we would expect from a fair and rational God. This is why Catholicism has the only answer, since it shows that God is fair and rational, not arbitrary and capricious.

May 2, 2010

  • Question 254 – Question on oath of citizenship

    Dr. Sungenis,

     

    Hi. I was hoping you could answer a question I have regarding the U.S. oath of citizenship. The following is the oath that those who wish to become citizens of the United States of America must take:

     

    I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

     

    I want to draw your attention to the bold regarding allegiance and fidelity to a foreign prince. How does this relate to a Catholic’s fidelity to the Pope?

     

    Thanks,

    Brian

     

    R. Sungenis: Brian, I believe the answer lies in the fact that the pope is not a “prince, potentate, state or sovereignty” insofar as civil government is defined. A church is not a civil government. That is why the pope does not assume titles with civil connections. We call him pope, Holy Father, vicar of Christ, Supreme bishop, et al, but nothing resembling a civil leader.

  • Question 253 – Mark Shea on Noah’s Ark

    Robert,

    This was on Mark Shea’s blog today. He mentions you and not in a very respectful way. Care to comment on it?

    John

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Big Doings on the Biblical Archaelogy Front Today

    Some Evangelicals think they have found Noah’s Ark. This is the sort of story that gets nine-day-wonder play in the MSM, is trumpeted as “proof” of the Bible by Fundamentalists whether Evangelical or Conservative Catholic (you watch, it will show up on Bob Sungenis’ site along with “Dinosaurs lived alongside man” and “Pyramids prove the flood” articles.

    Meanwhile, what we actually know is that some Evangelicals *think* they have found Noah’s Ark and have issues a press release to that effect. Our information so far consists of a picture of a guy in a little wooden structure. They say the thing dates from 2800 BC, which is allegedly “around the same time the ark was said to be afloat”. (That, in itself, is a somewhat dodgy claim). They say it’s found at 13,000 ft on Mount Ararat, which is surely an intriguing thing and worth investigating more. How did it get there? Does it actually have the measurements of the biblical ark? If not, then couldn’t it just be some structure that somebody built for some reason? Obviously there’s something there, since the Turks want to investigate it. But I think the smart money is pretty clearly on “wait and see” before leaping to the Ark conclusion.

    On the other hand, what fun grist for a novel! The great thing about fiction is that you just make stuff up! I’ve got some ideas on that score!

    R. Sungenis: John, what can you expect from someone like Mark Shea? I mean, here’s a guy that actually advertises his ignorance and indiscretion right on the top of his own blog with the inane banner: “Mark Shea’s Blog: So That No Thought of Mine, No Matter How Stupid, Should Ever Go Unpublished Again!” Do I need to say more? He thinks he’s being funny but behind every joke there is a pertinent truth. Mark Shea is actually telling us how his mind works. Most of his comments are just knee-jerk reactions that first pass through the “I must be as endearing and accommodating to the world as possible” grid in his brain, which are then spiced up for sale with his usual dose of sarcasm and off-color wit. So I’ll just follow Mr. Shea’s suggestion that what he says about me this time is just another one of his “stupid” comments.

    As for the issue itself, Mark Shea, if you don’t already know, is of the school of thought that tries to divest Genesis of as much historically accurate material as possible. You’ll see this in his book Making Senses of Scripture in which Shea tries to tell us that we can minimize biblical history by turning it into little more than spiritual platitudes. Basically, Mark Shea is ashamed of much of what the Bible regareds as historical. Thus, he dismisses most of what occurred in the narratives of Genesis as fanciful accretions. Mark Shea wants his history to be palatable to what the world believes occurred in the past. Additionally, Mark Shea has made no in depth study of “Dinosaurs living alongside of man” or of Noah’s Ark Archeology. He doesn’t know the first thing about science, much less paleontology and archeology. His only academic credentials are that he was a literature major in college. Just look at the ignorant comments he makes:

    Mark Shea: “They say it’s found at 13,000 ft on Mount Ararat, which is surely an intriguing thing and worth investigating more. How did it get there? Does it actually have the measurements of the biblical ark? If not, then couldn’t it just be some structure that somebody built for some reason?”

    Someone please tell Mr. Shea that the whole reason investigations of large wooden structures on or around Ararat have occurred for the last 100 or so years is precisely because nobody lives at 13,000 feet above sea level, much less builds structures the size of a football field at that height! Geeesh! We can tell Mr. Shea’s real motivation for his inept stab at explaining the structure, for he then says, “On the other hand, what fun grist for a novel! The great thing about fiction is that you just make stuff up! I’ve got some ideas on that score!” Wow! Is this what Mark Shea does when he sits down to his computer in the morning? You see, the real problem is that Mark Shea has already decided that he doesn’t like attempts to legitimize as real events narratives about big boats or global floods or animals being collected two-by-two. That sounds too much like fiction to him. He would much rather chalk up these items as remnants of Mardukian cosmogony than he would the eye-witness account of a man of God named Noah. The world will accept Marduk, but they don’t much like Noah, since if Noah is true, then they have to accept everything else in Genesis as having the pedigree of truth and historical accuracy, including accepting all the stories that Mr. Shea now deems as fanciful. Mark Shea doesn’t want to upset any of their sensibilities, since that, in his view, will make the Catholic Church look bad in their eyes. Oh, I better stop. Mark Shea is a real temptation for me to fall into sin.

  • Question 252 – Questions about the Canon of Scripture

    Mr. Sungenis,

     

    Thank you for taking the time to participate in this project.  I am looking forward to reading your answers.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    Andy Erwin

     

    1.)   Do Catholics believe in a “closed” canon?  If so, what or who closed the canon?

     

    Robert Sungenis: Yes, the Catholic Church teaches that the biblical canon is closed. It also teaches that the Catholic Church, as represented in its universal magisterium by the pope and the bishops, was given the authority to make such decisions (cf. Matt 16:18-19; 1Tim 3:15; Act 15:1-12). In brief, by the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church determined which books are canonical (inspired by the Holy Spirit).

     

    2.)   Concerning the apocryphal books of the Old Testament, why do you include some in the Canon and not others?

     

    Robert Sungenis: Because it was determined by the Catholic Church that some were not inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore not canonical.

     

    3.)   Do you accept any of the Church Fathers as being inspired?  Are their works considered canonical by the Roman Catholic Church?

     

    Robert Sungenis: No, none of the Church Fathers were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and none of their works are considered canonical. The only official attribution the Catholic Church gives to the Church Fathers is that, when the Fathers are in consensus on any given topic of faith or morals, we are obliged to accept their consensus as being of Apostolic origin, and therefore a Sacred Tradition that must be accepted, as commanded by St. Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

     

    4.)   Could a canonical book’s status change today if the Roman Catholic Church decreed it did not belong?  What about the status of a non-canonical book?

     

    Robert Sungenis: That is like asking if God could uncreate the world if he decided one day that he didn’t want it to exist any longer. The answer, of course, is no, since God cannot lie. By the same token, the Catholic Church cannot lie when it is infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit to determine the canon of Scripture. Therefore, what the Catholic Church decreed infallibly in the past cannot change in the future. Therefore, all books which have been chosen as canonical will remain canonical and their status will never change. All books that have been determined to be non-canonical will remain non-canonical.

     

    5.)   How does your view of canonicity affect the doctrine you teach? 

     

    Robert Sungenis: It affects it in the sense that when we preach from the Bible we know that what we preach is true because the book from which the information is taken has been declared canonical by infallible decree. If it were not the case that the book was determined to be canonical by infallible decree, then we would not be able to teach from it as being the word of God, since we could never be sure that God actually inspired its words.

  • Question 251 – What is the state of Catholic apologetics today?

    Robert,

    What is your view of Catholic apologetics today? I know that a lot of other apologists have tried to ostracize you because of your views on certain things, and I guess I have to wonder myself. Didn’t you used to teach on EWTN? Can you give me your assessment on what the controversy is all about or what you do that others do not do?

    Paul

    R. Sungenis: Paul, glad you asked. Let me start with the state of Catholic apologetics today. Overall, I think it is good, at least compared to what it was about 25 years ago when Catholic apologetics was practically non-existent. But I think it could be much better today if we all banded together and used each other gifts and talents instead of competing with one another. As the saying goes, all ships rise with the tide.

    But while we are on the subject of the division in Catholic apologetics, I think we need to analyze what causes it. In brief, a Catholic apologetics organization’s appeal and approach depends basically on two things: (1) whether the organization deals with the controversies within the Catholic Church itself, and (2) whether the organization deals with highly controversial issues, such as Jews/Judaism, Scientism, Feminism, Contraception/NFP (to name a few).

    Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise. Just what is “apologetics”? Normally it is defined as a “defense of the faith,” but that definition means many things to different people. To use a more biblical analogy, I would say that each Catholic apologetics organization defines itself along one of two lines: (a) it sees itself as predominately filling the role of an evangelist, introducing people to the Catholic faith and educating them on a basic level; or (b) it sees itself as predominately filling the role of a prophet, seeking correct doctrine above all; exposing sins and weaknesses in the Church; and educating the public on a deeper and more academic level. There are certainly combinations of these approaches in each apostolate, but the basic distinction exists, nevertheless.

    By and large, you will find that organizations such as EWTN, Catholic Answers, Envoy Magazine, Catholic Convert,  CUF, Scott Hahn ministries, Catholic Legate, and many similar apostolates that follow the same approach, will engage in very little of #1 and #2. They have a very light, or possibly sanitized, portrayal of Catholicism, looking to avoid as much controversy as possible and instead sticking with the mainstay of the “us/them” arena – the criticism of Protestantism in general, or the usual suspects like Harry Potter, The Davinci Code, etc. I’m not saying this is entirely bad. I’m only saying that, if you are looking for apostolates that portray this more positive/less controversial side of Catholicism, these are the apostolates you will want to follow.

    The unfortunate thing I see, however, is that many of these lighter-fare apostolates often criticize or ignoring other Catholic apostolates that engage in much more of #1 and #2, and they tell their patrons to stay away from such apostolates, making them look like miscreants or extremists. These apostolates seem to have an overriding fear – the fear of having Catholicism portrayed as being out-of-touch with the status-quo and modern academia (e.g., science, politics, psychology) or in any way critical of the Jews, Judaism or Zionism for fear of being labeled “anti-semitic.” This is bad because it keeps the Catholic in a sort of Alice-in-Wonderland menagerie and prohibits him from seeing and dealing with all the other groups and problems he will eventually confront in being a Catholic.

    Then there are the more traditional apostolates, such as the Remnant and Catholic Family News (CFN), to name just a few, who concentrate vigorously on #1 and #2, although they go, as far as I see, too far on #1 since they more or less reject Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Missae as largely worthless and riddled with doctrinal error; and they seem a little unsure about how much of #2 they should be doing, since they also have a certain fear of being stigmatized with the “anti-semitic” label. Further, they too seem to be lacking in the expertise needed to deal with the intricacies of the scientific fields. Still, if you want to know the dirt on every pope in the 20th century, or the coverup of Fatima, or the compromising pereti of Vatican II, or of every liberal Catholic theologian from Karl Rahner to Hans Kung, then Catholic Family News, The Remnant, and organizations similar to them are second to none. For the most part their scholarship is impeccable. My only concern, sometimes, is the final interpretation of what they find (e.g., the rejection of all or parts of Vatican II, Novus Ordo, etc).

    Our organization, CAI Publishing, Inc. and the Bellarmine Theological Forum, is somewhere in between the above two approaches (and I don’t say that just to put us in the middle of two extremes). We deal with a moderate amount of #1. I say “moderate” since we do not question the validity and/or applicability of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass (in fact I hold that Vatican II is without error in its doctrinal teachings). By the same token we have been highly critical of the actions of John Paul II (e.g., Assisi prayer meetings; institution of altar girls and female authorities in chanceries; failure to discipline and stop wayward clerics both in doctrinal aberrations and moral laxity; bowing to modern cosmology and cosmogony; unbridled philosemitism and causing undue confusion about the Old Covenant; failure to do the Fatima consecration properly; failure on properly treating the SSPX (which Pope Benedict had to reverse); changing the tradition on papal power; the inordinate canonization of saints; profusely but needlessly apologizing for pre-twentieth century popes, etc.), since we believe he departed, in these actions, from Traditional practices and even Vatican II. We also do a lot more of #2 than either of the above two groups, mainly because we have studied much more about the Jewish/Zionist threat against the Church and are not curtailed in the slightest degree by demagogic accusations of “anti-semitism.” We are also unafraid to take on modern science (e.g., evolution, Big-Bang cosmology, Copernicanism) since we have sufficient expertise to do so.  I think I should also say that the literature produced by our organization is not for the light of heart. If you have read our biblical commentaries, for example, you have noticed that they are written on a high academic level, for that is where we feel God wants our niche to be. There are a lot of Catholic apostolates that want to appeal to Joe-Six-Pack, and they have my blessing, but that is not our focus.

    I think there is one more thing to point out as an example of our influence and success in light of how small we are compared to EWTN, Catholic Answers and Hahn-CUF. In 2008, the US bishops voted 243 to 14 to eliminate a heretical sentence from page 131 of the 2006 United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. The sentence stated that the Mosaic covenant was eternally valid for the Jews, implying by the word “eternal” that it has the power to give salvation to the Jews. Ours was the only Catholic apostolate in the United States to bring this gross theological error to the attention of the Vatican and the US bishops. Not only did no other apostolate help, they actually criticized us for our strong stance on the issue, and they sought to make excuses for prelates that were holding the same view as the US catechism. Once the US bishops took their vote in 2008, however, we were obviously vindicated, and we helped save the Church from a terrible heresy. My critics went to their respective corners licking their wounds, as it were. The point I’m trying to make is, since our apostolate had, for many years prior, already taken a strong stand against the Jewish incursion into the Catholic Church, and since we made a practice of not shying away from highly controversial issues, we were really the only apostolate in the US equipped, theologically and psychologically, to take on the issue and survive the criticism from Jewish ideologues. Not only would other apostolates (e.g., those of the EWTN, CUF, CA, variety) not even consider taking on such an issue, the truth is, they are so reticent to deal with Jewish issues that they actually find themselves promoting Judaism and Zionism in one form or another, as we have pointed out on various occasions.

    So there you have it. Each of these groups has a different focus and philosophy. I think they all produce a certain amount of good in their own way, but they also have their particular problems. Overall, I would say that EWTN, Catholic Answers and Hahn-CUF are, for lack of a better term, somewhat milquetoast when it comes to dealing with the more controversial and significant problems occurring in the Church and in the world. My assessment is that they either don’t know where the real battles are or they know and choose to ignore them, and have more or less settled into a politically-correct apologetic. Except for the abortion issue, I really don’t find much of a clarion call from them. On the other hand, I would say an organization like ours that regularly deals with these controversial issues runs the risk of alienating a lot of Catholics because our focus is much more on the problems in the Church than its positive movements. Hence, because of their more positive appeal, I would expect the EWTN-like apostolates to have the lion’s share of the Catholic “apologetics” community, whereas I would expect apostolates like ours to attract the deep thinkers and politically-incorrect crowd. That’s just the nature of the respective animals. But that’s ok. We each have our gifts, strengths and focus. I think God is using us all, but I think He would like to see us all get along much better than we have, and that is what all three groups need to pray for.

  • Question 250 – Is Cardinal Ratzinger Guilty regarding Fr. Maciel?

    Robert,

     

    What do you make of this clip from ABC about Ratzinger’s involvement with Fr. Maciel? And what about the story we heard last week in the New York Times about Ratzinger failing to discipline the pedophile priest who had been doing his dastardly deeds for 20 years? I am very confused about this, and it is affecting my faith. Please help.

     

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/questions-pope-benedicts-role-sex-scandal/story?id=10241536

     

    Paul

     

    R. Sungenis: Paul, regarding the ABC clip, it shows (without ABC actually admitting it) that Cardinal Ratzinger is to be completely exonerated. ABC admits that Ratzinger went against the wishes of the two most powerful men in the Catholic Church at that time (i.e., John Paul II and Cardinal Angelo Sodano) in seeking to bring Fr. Maciel to justice. That kind of move takes a lot of courage. It shows Ratzinger was looking toward pleasing his God and not pleasing his fellow clerics. If anyone should be under suspicion for trying to sweep the case of Fr. Maciel under the rug it is John Paul II. He was shown evidence of Maciel’s deviance for close to a decade, but he did nothing about it.

     

    As for the issue of Ratzinger dealing with the pedophile priest, I suggest you read Cardinal Levada’s defense of the pope. It is covered (albeit not impartially) by the New York Times here:

     

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/01/world/europe/01vatican.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fworld%2Feurope%2Findex.jsonp

  • Question 249 – Science and salvation 2

    Dear Robert,

    I’m a web developer working late tonight waiting for some process to finish, so I thought I would write back.

    You know that I’m open and sincere.  I can simply say I believe what the Church teaches as the pillar and foundation of the truth even though I don’t fully understand many truths which are Mysteries to me.

    It is definitely possible that the earth is immovable but I think it would be not because of its own gravity keeping every object in the universe in orbit around itself, but because God placed it in a position such that all the other orbits of all the other stars keep it still by the effects of gravity of all other objects in the universe on itself.

    I believe the more mass an object has, they greater gravitational force it has on other objects.

    That is the part that confuses me.  But if Peter could say to Our Lord: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” then I would say the same about the Church which is one and the same as Christ’s Mystical Body.

    I do not understand at all how the earth does not move, but I believe God can do anything He wants and it would not be up to us to determine how things are.

    For, Our Lady made the Sun physically move and change colors and almost strike the earth, and the earth did not move during that time in
    Fatima.  I believe with a supernatural Faith what the Church teaches which is what God has revealed who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

    Honestly, at this point, I’m open…

    Sincerely in +JMJ,
    Roger

     

    R. Sungenis: That’s good, Roger. Keep thinking about it. If I can be of any more help, just let me know. God be with you, and have a blessed Easter remembrance.