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Archive for the ‘Obadiah’ Category

I remember about two things out of Edersheim’s giant 63-million page The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. One of the two things I remember is that he says that a common saying that was abroad in the first century world was, “No one can hate like a Jew…” That seems to me to sum up the problem with first century Judaism. I am elect, I have grace, and I despise you because you do not share my inness.”

It has seemed to me for a long time that “no one can hate like a Calvinist.” The very people with the highest view of sovereign grace and unearned election can be the most exclusive and hateful people around. What was criminal about first-century Judaism wasn’t that they were medieval pelegians, it is that they were proud ingrates. If we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we Calvinists are prone to wander on the same errant trail.

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In a recent interview evangelical theologian Robert Saucy summarized his view of the primary theological differences between Catholics and Protestants in the following way:

Q. What are the differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants? A. They’re the same as they were at the Reformation. There are three significant ones. First is the question of final authority. Protestants hold to sola scriptura [Scripture as their final authority]. For Catholics, the final authority is Scripture as interpreted by the church, that is, the magisterium (the pope and bishops). That’s where Catholicism gets its teachings that can’t be found in Scripture, like veneration of Mary, indulgences and purgatory. Second, Catholics view the church as an extension of Christ’s incarnation. For them, the church is divine as Christ was divine. One result of this is the Catholic proclamation: “Come to the church for salvation, for faith in the church and faith in Christ are one act of faith.” That leads to the third difference: salvation. The Catholic catechism makes it very clear that you are born again and justified through baptism. That means faith plus a certain rite – which is administered by the church – is necessary for salvation. So, the church essentially grants salvation. Although this salvation is “by faith,” additional grace enables us “to work” to attain eternal life. And that’s the problem with saying we speak the same gospel. One of them is clear: Christ did it; we can’t add anything to that. The other one is: Christ did it, but to actually avail yourself of what Christ did you have to do this and this.

Unfortunately, this quote is just one example of the kinds of inaccurate and misleading characterizations of both Catholic and Protestant doctrines that are all too common in evangelical treatments of Catholic beliefs. Sadly, there are important differences that continue to divide Catholics and evangelical Protestants, but Saucy’s quote fails to get to the heart of the matter and winds up distorting both Catholic and Reformation teachings.

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