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Showing posts from July 26, 2015

Justification, Continued

In my last post, I wanted to lightly touch on the Catholic and Reformed doctrines of justification, so we might be aware that the difference is not a trifling one. In general, the educated Catholic--of which there are too few, sadly--knows that he or she must give unyielding, unqualified assent to much more than that which appears in the ecumenical creeds--the Apostles' and the Nicene--in order to suppose that he might possess the virtue of faith. Therefore, even if we supposed incorrectly that the Catholic and Reformed mean the same things in giving their affirmation to those creeds, we would still be divided. We are divided over charity ; that is, the fundamental theological significance of it. In crude terms, the Reformed person locates the goodness of God's sovereign mercy in the divine electing will; the Catholic locates the same in the sacraments of the New Covenant. They are efficacious signs , for the Catholic. There are 2 ways to be denied salvation, for the Catholic

What Is Meant By "Justification By Faith Alone"?

We were asked about this in our Reformed and Catholic dialogue group; one PCA elder mistakenly believes that yours truly does not understand his position. Well, when I was in fact Reformed, the words from Chapter XI of the Westminster Confession of Faith were my own:   Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,   they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God. II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alo

The Circle Of Life

Certain self-appointed lecturers of conservatives and the pro-life movement have charged that by switching the discussion back to Planned Parenthood in the midst of the outrage over Cecil the Lion, we are deflecting. You get this charge a lot with other things, if you point out the selective outrage of the Left. I admit that the gaping hole in their moral vision angers me, not least because moral superiority is the means by which they shift the discussion in their favor in other contexts. Here's my personal key: Do I actually care about the other things, or do I just want the shaming to stop? No; I actually care about innocent, dead babies, dead lions killed by trophy hunters, sub-standard wages, criminal justice reform, and dozens of other things. If we're talking about structural racism and violence in policing, it is deflection to yell out, "All lives matter!" just to make yourself less uncomfortable. I actually agree with that. But   I don't grant to a cer

No Compelling Moral Vision

You know, I might have been a liberal, if a few things had gone differently when I was younger. One reason why I don't get angry about the GOP lapses from Catholic Social Teaching is that very few even know what it is. It's still pretty new to me. And abortion is that thing for me that blows all that liberal righteousness away. You wanna talk to me about food stamps, and you're not even sure a baby is a baby! I like moralistic crusading zealots, but they'd better be right. (This is why Mark Shea is intolerable, God bless him. He's joining in their chorus against student loans today; sorry guys, your moral credibility died in 1973.) I'm pretty sure I'm not against a national heath care system, at least in theory. Naturally, it's just going to be a means to enrich certain lawyers and doctors at the expense of everyone else, on top of implicating all of us in killing more defenseless children. Please tell me more about how the GOP hates poor people. Wha

Not Shocked About Planned Parenthood, Revisited

I'm going to take a few minutes to clarify some things in my last post. I do not intend to suggest that, in light of Planned Parenthood's sale of human organs, there is no opportunity to re-examine the central moral questions underlying the whole matter. If someone is moved to reconsider, whether by the videos, or by the sight of fellow citizens marching in the streets, I rejoice. I am well aware, however, of the reality of political co-option and subversion. There are quite a few politicos perfectly willing to grab the outrage of this moment to great personal benefit, without considering the morality of abortion as such. Voicing that cynicism may well have dampened the joy and hope that an opportunity for conversion should bring. One of the holiest people I know was converted by a line in Humanae Vitae; nothing in there was directly relevant to her experience. But you can encounter Jesus even when you least expect Him. May our prayers be added to theirs, those who do battl

Not Shocked About Planned Parenthood

I'm sure many are grateful that political momentum has built to de-fund them; I'm not. Abortion is wrong anyway.  Why are they being funded at all? Why should I be astonished that a more unsettling evil has been taking place? The dignity of a human being has already been transgressed in the murder that is their business. Philosophically, a grave moral evil has been justified on account of the circumstances, or the intention of the people involved. Once the character of acts in themselves is disregarded, almost anything can be justified, either by appealing to other good that may result, or to the fact that one person or another does an action without malice. People have tolerated grave evil in our society, because they imagine that growing up poor or sick would be worse, or because they have done their own evils. It's hard enough to bear my own burdens. Where do I get off, telling people what to do? Do we have souls? And is the nascent life in the womb a person? If we