Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sacraments: The Sacrament of Baptism...

For the first time ever, in the history of this blog, I have a contributor. Willison, has been involved in some of the discussions on this blog post in the past, and motivated by the current discussion happening on the post titled, Anonymous Challenges Salvation, where we have talked more about Sacraments and specifically the Sacrament of Baptism, he offered to contribute this blog post. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Thanks Willison...

Let’s cut to the chase: What is a sacrament?
If a sacrament DOES something, than it becomes a lot more important than if it only SYMBOLIZES something. It’s awful hard to argue that something “symbolic” is “necessary”. It might be helpful, therefore, to consider sacraments generally, to better understand the sacrament of baptism specifically.

Jesus taught us to call God “Father” not just so we would feel close and cuddly to God, but so we could better understand why he does some of the things he does. Anyone who has been a parent of a 3 year old has dealt with those never ending “why” questions. The answers to “why does it rain?” or “why do things die?” or “why do we use money?” are very complicated issues that a 3 year old couldn’t understand even if he wanted to. Yet, a growing mind with a question deserves an answer. So a good Dad boils it down. He starts using words the kid will understand and draws on experiences the kid can relate to. That’s what we do – the sinful flawed version of a parent. God – the perfect version of a parent – who is infinitely more advanced compared to us than a human adult compared to a human child – would do no less. Thus, he made sacraments.

As far as we know, humans are unique in all of creation. We are physical beings – formed out of the dust of the earth – with a spiritual soul – breathed into us by God himself. Angels are only spirit. Animals are only physical matter. Humans are both. In fact, the Church teaches that BOTH body and soul are ESSENTIAL to be “human.” (That is why we believe in the resurrection of the body. Our physical form is not a “soul transportation device.” It is – and always will be – half of what God created us to be. Humans do not become angels in Heaven.)
So let’s say that God – the perfect parent – wants to transmit his grace to a human. Two issues come up: First, he chose to design humans with this dual nature, so undoubtedly he would want to impart his grace to the whole creature, not half of it. Second, like a parent, he wants us to understand what is happening - and he knows that our physical experiences are more familiar to us than the purely spiritual ones.

Consider Matthew 21:24-25. Jesus was being questioned about his authority to act as he was. In classic Jewish style of debate, he answered a question with a question, “John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from Heaven or from men?” Of course, the chief priests and elders were trapped and couldn’t answer that without shooting themselves in the foot. It seems to me, that is still what we are talking about. Clearly I think Jesus was saying it came from God, as did his authority. And the Priests thought it was John gone wild, just like they thought Jesus was doing, but they couldn’t say that because the people would disagree. Notwithstanding the Priests, Jesus’ question all but says Baptism is an institution ordained by God.

But more than that, the questions to Jesus were, “By what authority are you doing these things?” “And who gave you this authority?” His response was to bring up his baptism! Now sure you can argue that they are two unrelated issues that happen to have the same answer, but Jesus rarely did that when he taught. I believe he brought up his baptism and the Baptist, because they were the answers. By what authority? Through the grace of God received in my baptism. Who gave it to you? God Himself, through John the Baptist. But instead of saying that, Jesus tried to get the priests to realize it for themselves by asking, “John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from Heaven or from men?” When they responded with “we don’t know”, he basically said, “then I’m not telling.” But I believe the answer is there nonetheless.

This “symbol-only” view of baptism doesn’t seem in line with something created and given by Heaven. Did God give us a ceremony simply as a public display of what he already did? If true, this symbol would be intended to glorify God, but glorifying Him is something from us to Him (From men to Heaven). Jesus implied baptism was from God to men. So consider two things: If baptism was designed by God to be the method by which he chooses to give us His grace, wouldn’t that clearly be “from Heaven” and not from men? And secondly, does God, anywhere in the Bible, create any institution (other than holidays and activities to remember his great acts like Passover) where humans are supposed to do certain things simply to symbolize a passing of grace which they have already received? Let me save you some time: no.

So, can THE BIBLE, prove for us that this is how God works? Of course! The Bible is filled with references to actions God requires humans to do BY WHICH he chooses to confer his grace. This is not an exhaustive list, but consider the following examples:

1- Circumcision – In Gen. 17 God told Abraham circumcision was a sign of the covenant, but went on to say if a man is not circumcised he is not part of it. In other words, your part of the covenant when you become circumcised. The surgery does something. If you argue it is ONLY a sign of the covenant, you must overcome the fact that without the sign, you don’t get the covenant. He said to the Jews if you’re 9 days old and not circumcised, you’re not part of the covenant. The moment you become circumcised, you’re part of it.

2- Priests – In Exodus 28:40-42 God says to anoint and ordain certain men as priests. Then later in Leviticus 8 He describes how it should be done and it gets VERY relevant to our discussion. 1st the man had to be washed, but it is not until oil is poured on him that he becomes the consecrated priest of God. The oil does something, the ritual washing doesn’t. In fact, this sacred oil to make things Holy is so special God himself specifies the recipe and limits both its use and the people who can use it in Exodus 30:22-33.

3- In Exodus 17, when the Israelites were thirsty, God said go on ahead and you’ll see a rock. Strike the rock, and I’ll make water come out of it. He didn’t say, up ahead I placed a well. Or there’s a rock with water coming out of it up ahead. He made Moses strike the rock, with a particular stick, to get the water. A physical act THROUGH which he chose to give his blessing. In fact later, Moses struck a rock too many times and God was so mad he didn’t let Moses go to the Promised Land.

4- When Israel decided they wanted a king, Samuel anointed Saul in private (1 Sam 10:1) and from that moment on he was King. Not when he accepted. Not when Samuel recognized him. But when the oil hit him. We know this wasn’t symbolic because later, in the public ceremony, he was not re-anointed as a symbol of his submission to God for the people. He was simply presented as their king. Then later when David had a chance to kill Saul, he refused – not because he was king – but because he had been anointed. (1 Sam 24:10) In the same way, the Bible says David got God’s power after his anointing (1 Sam 16:12-14).

5- In 2 Kings 5 God cured a King with leprosy. Elisha told the king to be healed he would have to wash 7 times in the Jordan River. He didn’t cure him and command he go through the traditional washings commanded in Mosaic Law. In fact the king was mad that Elisha didn’t just pray over him. He couldn’t understand why the Jordan River when he had perfectly good rivers close by. But to be healed, he had to do it God’s way. The 7th washing actually cured him.

6- In Mark 6:12-13 the Apostles anointed the sick with oil and healed them. The anointing with oil is how God chose to heal them. In the same way, James tells us at James 5:14-15 that sick people should have elders of the church (not just any believer) pray over them and anoint them to get better. Certain people, doing certain things, to receive God’s blessing.

7- In 2 Cor. 1:20-22 Paul explained that by anointing us, God put His spirit in our hearts, and His seal of ownership on us. He doesn’t specifically mention baptism, but I can’t think of what else he would be referring to. Because of our anointing, through our anointing, by our anointing, God put His spirit in our hearts.

I believe the Bible is pretty clear. God often chooses to bless us through physical actions and tangible things. Of course, sometimes He also blesses without a physical act. But I have never seen where he blessed someone in the quiet of their hearts and then required, or even suggested, they go perform some physical act to symbolize the blessing. (No, not lepers Jesus healed presenting themselves to priests. The presentment was a legal procedure so they could rejoin the community.) That is why the Church teaches the baptism Jesus and the apostles keep talking about is not symbolic, but a transference of grace. If you are not baptized, you are not part of the kingdom of God. You have not received his grace. At the moment you are baptized, you receive the grace.

Now does God NEED sacraments to produce his grace and power? No. He is almighty. He can do it whatever way he wants. However, he has created us and knows we are physical creatures in addition to our spiritual nature. Therefore, it was out of His kindness and understanding of human nature that he has chosen to use physical things that we can witness to pass His grace on to us. Now because He has chosen to do that, He also requires us to utilize it. I believe God is not the type of God who institutes something and makes it optional. That’s why I believe it is required, and actually causes us to receive His grace and be cleansed of original sin.

53 comments:

triednotfried said...

Ok, I agree Mr. Willison that we need to cut to the chase....so I'll ask a couple of questions...why do you believe in infant baptism and transubstantiation?

Also I can't get past this statement... "It’s awful hard to argue that something “symbolic” is “necessary”."

Ummmmm....if God says "Do this in rememberance of me" it doesn't seem that tough to me...

Willison said...

Wow, first ever - thanks Carlus. Now the questions come my way. So be it.
First, let me clarify something that I think was poorly worded. Jesus was fully divine and did receive some authority he did not have before by baptism. The question was where do you get the authority and he brought up baptism in the context of whether that was from God or the man named John. Now on to the question.
BECAUSE I believe in transubstantiation, "do this in memory of me" is very easy to call necessary. The Eucharist is not symbolic - it's real. That's why Jesus said in John 6 that you either eat his body or have no life in you. Is there any other Christian denomination that requires it's members to have communion? The Catholic church mandates at least once per year and offers it every day. That my friend is taking something serious. So let's stay on point.
Is God a sacramental God? Does he you the physical to perform the spiritual? Yes - often. So baptism does something - that's why it's part of the great commission. I think we all agree he changed mud into a human, so he surely can change bread into his body if he wants to right? Wouldn't that be just like a God who understands our dual nature to promise to be with us always and then find a way to do it spiritually AND physically. And if he did that in a way that required you to trust your faith more than your senses or logic, would that sound like the God of Gideon and young David, and the snake on a stick, etc etc?
Confession? He could have said pray and I'll forgive. Instead he gave the apostles authority to bind OR loose sins in Heaven. Why so we can physically hear or forgiveness. You mentioned marriage. Isn't cool how easy it is to tell whether two people are married? What if marriage were just a level of love you discerned in your heart - much harder. Must be that wedding DOES something right? Then Jesus said "what God has joined . . ."
So are sacraments Godly? Are they Biblical? Do they DO something?

triednotfried said...

First of all I apologize for even bringing up transubstantiation, it is not for this post. I will stick to baptism/sacraments.

I still think alot of typing could be saved by cutting and pasting anonosean's last entry on the previous post. Hopefully some of what he said will be addressed...but so be it. I wasn't sure who to address Mr. Willison...so I thought since you wrote the blog it may be appropriate to answer you. Hope that is ok....

I still don't see anything mentioned on infant baptism, so I'll start with sacraments "doing something."

It is most important to me to A) stick to scripture and B)Stick to scripture in context. I can see where some scriptures, when taken out of context, in and of themselves may convey a benefit..etc. But, when taken in the context of Scripture as a whole, I find no foundation for the belief that God ever intended those passages to be taken as support for rituals as a means of conveying grace. Therefore, to me, the whole idea of "sacraments" that convey saving grace on people is unbiblical.

For instance, because of your belief that baptism is required for salvation, you believe it is important to baptize infants. Can you show me in scripture where there is a single command or example of this? If you would like to go into Acts 16:33..we can.

Faith alone is seen in scripture as the means through which we receive salvation. Of course we should be baptized. But that is not what infuses us with grace. All the grace I will ever need to receive happened the moment I put my trust in Jesus, by faith. The grace that God's Word calls us to receive is by faith, not ritual. So yes, the seven sacraments are great things to do when understood in the Biblical context, but thinking they convey some kind of sanctifying grace...is completely unbiblical.

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

I find no foundation for the belief that God ever intended those passages to be taken as support for rituals as a means of conveying grace. Therefore, to me, the whole idea of "sacraments" that convey saving grace on people is unbiblical.
Can you go into this more, in light of some of the scripture used in this post?

All the grace I will ever need to receive happened the moment I put my trust in Jesus, by faith. The grace that God's Word calls us to receive is by faith, not ritual.
Are you saying that you don't need any more grace than the amount that you received once you put your trust in Jesus? Please clarify...

but thinking they convey some kind of sanctifying grace...is completely unbiblical.
Can you use some of the verses that Willison used in the post to explain this point? I think it would help with discussion.

God bless...

Sean said...

Carlus,

You wrote regarding 1 Peter 3:21

“The only thing that makes this passage complicated and difficult and requires diagraming, would be a refusal to just accept what it says.”

Then it should be easy – you presented what you assert to be evidence. Let’s look at your grammatical reasoning.

1.) Water of the flood symbolizes baptism

Yes, that is clear from the passage, but what does that mean? And it is unclear that actual water is necessitously the New Covenant parallel. Surely you’ve seen the many passages in which the metaphor is water and the reality is the Holy Spirit? Are we to presume that life-giving rivers flowing from us must be a physical reality? Water is one side of the analogy, but since dirt being washed away is excluded, there is no reason to absolutely presume that it is water baptism.

2.) that now saves you also...what now saves the flood? What is the 'that' that Peter is referring to....logically it is baptism.

This is, again, a word-thing problem. Presumably, since you are taking “saved” to mean regeneration, then you must also take 1 Timothy 2:15 to mean regeneration, right? How else would you present it? It says “save” using the same word that it says here. Carlus, exactly what is being said here is greatly unclear to Greek linguists, your assertion of it’s clarity does not make it so.

3.) He then goes on to say that it is not the removal of dirt from the body....it is not a bath...

You insert bath. But the problem is that that is, as far as the water goes that is exactly what happened in the flood. In fact, the parallel he makes is

4.) but the pledge of good conscience toward God. What pledge....baptism

You cannot be faulted for this, but I have no idea why the word is sometimes translated “pledge”. The word, in every lexicon I own, means almost universally request, inquiry, or sometimes, demand…never “pledge”. I have no idea what the CSB, NET, and NIV are doing. Even the Vulgata has “bona rogatio” or “good request or entreaty”. The most literal translations bring out the proper translation…others must be trying to interpret the inherently unclear, because that is not what the word means.

So a baptism is a request for a clean conscience? That’s what it says, Carlus. Does that sound like regeneration to you?

Thereby Noah and his family didn’t have a clean conscience before hand? And after or during the flood they needed to request a clean conscience? What is the parallel? You say it’s clear as day, but you are not explaining the meaning.

5.) It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.....what is 'It'....baptism.

Again there is a necessitous analogy here, one which you say is clear as day, and you are still not explaining the parallels. Analogs must have parallel concepts, so if you think that this is clear, you need to be explaining them. Maybe you can, perhaps you can do what others have not, seriously. But you haven’t done this yet.

Sean

Sean said...

I need to address Mr. Willison’s citations before this thing completely comes off the rails, but first, I would like to note is that what a Sacrament actually is remains unanswered.

I want to address this false dichotomy:

If a sacrament DOES something, than it becomes a lot more important than if it only SYMBOLIZES something.

There are a lot more potentialities along this spectrum than the RC application of ex opere operanto and “just a symbol”. As was shown in looking at John 3:5 and 1 Peter 3:21 in the last post, it does not biblically follow to say that sacraments are efficacious in and of themselves. Presumably the Roman Catholic would affirm this, in that, it is God who does the work, not the act. So, if there is a symbol, a remembrance, a representative public act through which a person declares fealty to and faith in the One True God, it is, at the very least, God who rewards that through the praxis of the symbol. It is a significant middle point, and, not surprisingly, it is one in which God is the prime mover and authority – a notable lack in Mr. Willison’s formulae of purportedly dead symbols and meritorious deeds.

But additionally problematic for Mr. Willison’s false dichotomy is the entire book of Leviticus. Are we to believe that the hair-splitting detail ordained by God was only symbolic and serves no functional purpose in and of itself? Are we to think that obedience to God’s commands in the matter of the symbolic was unnecessary? For Mr. Willison says, It’s awful hard to argue that something “symbolic” is “necessary” Not for the obedient Christian, it is not…not that Mr. Willison is not obedient, that certainly is not my point nor my inference. But as in other debates in which the question is raised about why people would obey God if election is a real biblical concept, the obvious answer is that real faith brings obedience. If God ordains that a facet of his work be done through a symbolic act, then to question its necessity is to question God and the the value of the obedience of faith.

Matthew 21:24-5. There is one commonality between the question of the Jews and Jesus rhetorical comeback – where does the authority come from in those particular instances. To say Jesus’ question all but says Baptism is an institution ordained by God. is an unfounded generalization…the most that can be asserted from this passage is that John’s authority in baptising came from God. Certainly, as Willison cites later, following from the Great Commission, Christ’s authority was given by the Father and was conveyed by Jesus in matters of discipling via, at least in part, teaching and baptising. My issue is certainly not that all authority in all matters comes from God, my issue is making a passage say something that, in and of itself, it does not. To responsibly make a dogmatic assertion, much more systematisation is required than was presented in this passage and there is an uncalled for amount of what Walt Kaiser calls “marginal reading”s. Making baptism the central thrust of this passage is eisegetical at best.

Genesis 17. Firstly, this is not the passage of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant is in Genesis 15, and in it God engages in a self-imprecatory oath, swearing that he will bring to pass all that he promised to Abraham. The Covenant ratifying ceremony has no stipulations other than that which God so beautifully and amazingly places upon himself. That is the covenant. Secondly, Mr. Willison is presuming cause-effect in the matter of circumcision, when, again, that is a conclusion which cannot be found in the text. The text only says that those who do not do it are not in the Covenant, it does not say that disobedience is the cause of not being in the Abraham Covenant only that the two are commensurate. It is so important to have an eye for linguistic detail in these matters. If it were to say – in a standard protasis/apodosis formula, “if a person is not circumcised, then they are not in the Covenant.”, then you would be able to infer causality. As is, the most that can be said is that disobedience is a symptom of not being in the covenant, not the cause. And, again, since this is a renewal oath for the Abraham Covenant – which has no stipulations, it’s satisfactory fulfillment is completely on the back of our perfect God – then obedience to the renewal oath presupposes at least a superficial allegiance to the Covenant itself.

Exodus 28 ff. “The oil does something, the ritual washing doesn’t.” This is a consistent Roman Catholic idiosyncracy, to speak of the sacrament as functional in and of itself. It is one of the consistent reasons I find the Roman Catholicism to implicitly, if not explicitly, teach a religion in which God is lacking. I know that is not your intention, and it is probably not the way you are thinking about it, but the from the borderline ancestor worship within the relic racket to St. Joseph statues buried all over Stockton, CA and other depressed real-estate markets, the result of God-free religious language cannot help but convey a God-free religion. It really gets me down.

But the fallacious implication here seems to be that the New Covenant activity is somehow directly commensurate. To cite what God did then as representative of what we should do now does not follow, just ask the Crusaders. What God commanded the Levites in this context has no bearing on us in matters of praxis at all.

Exodus 17. Not really sure what is being said, here. Firstly, the passage being cited is not the passage in question – that is Numbers 20. Again, unless we are to be striking rocks in Sacramental obedience, citing a contextually bound command from God as evidence of the Roman Catholic teachings on sacraments is the non-sequitur of the week. And the following bothers me as well and leaves me a bit suspicious, Moses struck a rock too many times and God was so mad he didn’t let Moses go to the Promised Land. This absolutely does not follow from the text. Again, at best, eisegetical. Firstly, Moses was not to strike the rock, he was to tell the rock to bring forth water. But secondly, in 20:12 God does not specifically say what the offending disobedience was. Was it because he struck the rock instead of telling it? Was it because he yelled at the people first? We can’t know…only showing further that this passage is contextually bound to the point that it absolutely cannot be used in any way other than what God ordains to come to pass will come to pass, no matter how imperfect the person. How this relates to Catholic sacramental dogma is a complete mystery.

1 Samuel 10. Again, we find ourselves reading into the passage much more than is actually there. Mr. Willison writes, from that moment on he was King. Not when he accepted. Not when Samuel recognized him. But when the oil hit him,”

This cannot be existentially asserted from this passage..

In 1 Samuel 9:16 God is recorded as saying, “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel."

So in that passage Samuel is the one who does the anointing…beware the word-thing fallacy with this word

But then in 1 Samuel 1:10 Samuel says, “Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince over his people Israel?”

So who’s doing the anointing? There is a clear clue in the Septuagint and in most modern translations (I know RCs love the LXX!) of 1 Samuel 10:1,

And this shall be the sign to you that the LORD has anointed you to be prince over his heritage.The anointing will be a sign that God has anointed you?! The act of Samuel pouring oil on Saul was a sign of what God had already done, namely מְשָׁחְךָ “anointed you”. The act of anointing with oil was a symbol signifying what God had already done, and the symbol was for the benefit of Saul and no one else.

2 Kings 5. Again, what could be pertinent to the topic in this passage is a complete mystery.

Is the inference that God commands us to do this and that and we are to be obedient? If that’s the case then the “all of life is sacramental” people are right on in a liturgical sense. I don’t think that’s your point. But let’s take that as the possible inference since the biblical accounts cited are behaviorially related to RC sacraments. It should then follow that when Jesus said,

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me.that he was signifying the sacrament of holy pilfering via jedi mind tricks of domesticated beasts of burden (there has got to be a saint dedicated to that!) OR that he was accomplishing his purposes in his perfect way through imperfect people. God commanding something and that something always coming to pass - or those who love him being obedient - is not even close to default evidence of Roman Catholic sacramentalism. If it were, then the whole bible and all the acts in it would be a sacrament. These are instances in which God commanded something and those who love him obey. That is not necessarily, or even usually, sacramental in the RC sense.

Mark 6 and James 5. Oil is used to soothe wounds as much as it is used to signify blessing in first century Palestine, but what is missing is God’s command to do it. If this is to be evidence of God ordained sacraments, what is missing is the command of God. So then you may suggest that the command is part of the tradition and is contained in James…but again…what is the theme? What is central? What is the most significant and prominent pastoral command in 5:13-17? Prayer, prayer, prayer. To make oil the metaphysical lynchpin of the healing is to take something that had proliferative other uses and applications in both religious and secular societies and make it central to not only your point, but to Paul’s point as well.

Ok, lastly, 2 Cor 1:20-22. The root of “anoint” is the same root from which “Christ” comes. Can you imagine the didactic issues if a person were to begin teaching that Jesus Christ meant “Yeshua the baptized one”? Anoint can mean blessed, marked for a particular purpose, etc. This is where the word-thing fallacy is such a skandalon, for not being able to “think of what else he would be referring to,” is indicative of not being able to look to the context of what is being said without thinking of how to engage in RC sacramental apologetics.

But it gets worse. Mr. Willison goes on, Because of our anointing, through our anointing, by our anointing, God put His spirit in our hearts. which absolutely completely and totally does not follow in the manner being suggested from this passage. It is a massive interpretive error to not look at the sentence structure here. There are so many other causative blessings in this passage that to presume “anoint” to be baptize (not how it is used anywhere in the New Testament, nor throughout the entire bible – only of metphysical/spiritual anointing or the application of oil), and then make this short clause in a long chain of commensurate clauses central (one doesn’t need to be able to read Greek to assert this – it is clear in any English translation) is not responsible handling of the text.

As I said in the last post pertaining to baptism, the case for RC view of sacraments remains not just unpersuasive, but almost non-existent. That is not to say that God has not ordained what we call sacraments, but the RC take on it is biblically unfounded to this point.

Sean

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the core issue is the question of whether there is an actual transfer of grace through sacraments, rather than their significance in the life of a believer connected to what they symbolize, for there certainly is great significance. Jesus appears to have directed the observance of the rite/ordinancees of baptism and communion, although there are ritualistic aspects to them both in the manner in which they are offeredand/or received.

What I have read of scripture (all of it, repeatedly) does not specifically state in so many words that sacraments specifically "transfer" grace, or that they do not. Howerer, would it be appropriate to define "grace" to hekp us along?

Grace, by definition, is unmerited and undeserved favor, in this case God's. I may sound simplistic, but Ephesians 2:8-9 is of great assistance here:

"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."

When any "work" is added to grace - providing the occasion to "boast", grace is no longer grace. Baptism (and other sacraments) are works. In the case of adult baptism, a work of the adult, and in the case of infant baptism, a work of the parents. There is "occasion to boast" in either case.

What is essential for salvation is faith in the individual granted eternal life because of his/her trusting in Christ (John 3:18). Infants do not yet have faith. In the case of the adult, it is his/her faith (a gift from God for those chosen before the foundation of the world to receive it and become his people) that saves and NOT water. John 3:18 should make this clear to even a casual reader skilled in textual interpretation and human logic.

Willison said...

I'm new to this blogging thing, but I already see the difficulty. To make sense to some we need to break it down simply, others want deep theology. But that challenge excites me. We should be able to do both.
Let's get some common ground on what we are talking about.
1. This post is about sacraments, not just Baptism. Triednotfried, it was fine to bring up the Eucharist in that sense. When you raise Infant Baptism, I assume you want to specifiaclly discuss the "infant" part. That's another post. It doesn't matter if its infant, adult or even dead people(as the Mormons claim), if the "baptism" part itself is invalid - so we'll stick to sacraments in this one. We'll discuss infants (gladly) later.
2. There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Annointing of the Sick. There are no others rising to the level of "sacrament".
3. In all of those instances, God is doing the work. God is transferring the grace. The physical aspect of it is delivered through a minister (usually a priest - but not always). God ordained a process which requires the participation of a person doing certain things. So in that aspect I agree when Sean writes, "If God ordains that a facet of his work be done through a symbolic act, then to question its necessity is to question God and the the value of the obedience of faith." So before GOD would part the Red Sea, Moses had to raise his staff. Before God imparts the grace of Baptism, the priest, deacon (or any baptised person in an emergency) has to use water and invoke the 3 persons of the Trinity. If someone knowingly uses milk, or only words, or baptises in the name of "all that is good" God recognizes the disobedience and refuses to act. So if we want to parse the use of "symbolic" as it pertains to only the physical actions, we don't disagree much. The WHOLE PROCESS is what makes a sacrament (words, actions, and the transferrence of Grace), and that, a sacrament, is what I say is not symbolic.
4. "Biblical" should mean that it is never contrary to the Bible, and is consistant with what is in the Bible.
5. Let me save everyone some time: All those things I cited from the Old Testament are not sacraments. No where in the Bible does it say, "here are the seven sacraments and how I want you to do them". So my brothers rise up and say "AHA!" Sit down and re-read the end of John. That is also why none of this depends on the translation of any word in any verse. The owners manual of a car does not encompass everything a car can do - but you can't do stuff contrary to the manual and expect to last long. Same with the Bible. The book isn't God (nor should we let it become one) it is the basic understanding of something all knowing and all powerful.

So my brothers in Christ let's go through whether the sacraments exist - then we'll get into details of how they work. Does Jesus talk about Baptism? Yes. Does he talk about marriage? Yes.
Does he personally establish the Eucharist? Yes. No Christian should have any problems with those. Jesus sent out certain disciples, and after the resurrection told Peter "feed my sheep" - and every Christian denomination has some "ordination" process so Holy orders shouldn't be a problem. Certainly we all agree in the institution of the forgiveness of sins so reconciliation is there and moreover Jesus tells the apostles they have authority to bind and loose. In James, we read that sick people should go to the presbyters (priests) and be annointed. Confirmation is harder to understand as it is more a sacrament of strengthening than establishing something new, but that too has Biblical evidence that I don't have time to get into (I'm at work).

So let's get some one sentence responses on this limited issue: do you agree that these 7 types of graces exist (or 6 if you want to wait for my explanations of confirmation)? It doesn't make sense to debate how they work if we don't agree they exist. So real quick, everyone reading this (even those who have never commented) Yes or no on existance and do you agree all 7 are supported or only 6.

I promise we will get into the meat of Church teaching, but let's work from some common ground.

triednotfried said...

"Can you go into this more, in light of some of the scripture used in this post?"

No, because as I stated they are taken out of context. God never intended us to conform His Word to us, He expects us to conform to His Word. The real issue in all of this, as it always will be, is monergism, vs. synergism. To say that any work or action of our is part of our salvation completely tramples on the sovereignty of God, and gives us occasion to boast.

"Are you saying that you don't need any more grace than the amount that you received once you put your trust in Jesus?"

Are you saying He is not capable of such a thing, or that you have to earn more as you go?

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous (New One),

Welcome to the conversation. If you could please identify yourself, it would help a lot when it comes to the responses. Underneath the area where you type in your comment, just type in a name. It doesn't have to be real, just so long as it is consistent. The random anonymous people makes it hard to identify who is who and what exactly to respond to.

It seems to me that the core issue is the question of whether there is an actual transfer of grace through sacraments, rather than their significance in the life of a believer connected to what they symbolize,
I agree with you 99.9%. I will make it 100% if you say that the contrast between the two positions is if there is an actual transfer of grace or if it is only significant in the life of the believer. I think that everyone here would agree that it is, at the very least, significant in the life of the believer.

What I have read of scripture (all of it, repeatedly) does not specifically state in so many words that sacraments specifically "transfer" grace, or that they do not.
This is interesting. It seems as though you are saying that there is neither support of denial from Scripture that sacraments actually convey grace. Am I right?

When any "work" is added to grace - providing the occasion to "boast", grace is no longer grace. Baptism (and other sacraments) are works.Can you describe your definition of a "work"? Also, just so I can understand things better:

1.) Was it a work to be circumcised into the Old Covenant?
2.) Was it a work for the people of Israel to look upon the carved serpent in order to be healed from their snake bites?
3.) Was it a work to answer an Altar Call, or recite a sinners prayer, or ask Jesus to come into your hear to be your personal Lord and Savior?
4.) Was it a work to start believing and having faith in God?
5.) Is the act of the individual receiving the free gift of faith from God a work

I am trying to get a better understanding of your definition of a "work" and I think that it would be helpful for me if you would answer those questions.

I don't believe that Baptism or the other sacraments are works. They are methods instituted by our Lord and Savior. Our God is the cause, not man.

If it is just Man that is involved and motivated and moved to do something and God is not involved in the least amount, then that would qualify (in my opinion) as a work.

But instead, if it is God that has instituted Sacraments, and is actually participating with the exercise of the Sacrament, it cannot be just a mere work of man.

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

To say that any work or action of our is part of our salvation completely tramples on the sovereignty of God, and gives us occasion to boast.
If God establishes the sacraments, and someone recognizing that God established them and participates in them, how is that trampling the sovereignty of God? If I can make an analogy, as a good American, I pay taxes. I pay taxes because I recognize the soverignty of the state and Federal government and they told me that I have to pay taxes. Does that mean that since I am paying my taxes, I am somehow trampling on the sovereignty of the State and Federal Government?

triednotfried said...

Carlus: To me your analogy is absurd. Sorry, but you have absolutely nothing to do with your salvation but saying Yes, Lord. AND even that is because He first drew you to Himself...for you to think you can do something, anything to secure your salvation, stomps on His sovereignty. It's that simple.

Hi Mr. Wilison...you have a sister here too...ahem...just sayin' =^)

Sean said...

Willison,

"these type of graces exist...let's work from some common ground."

I really appreciate your desire to establish communicative commonalities, but your desire is not yet actualized. We haven't any common ground yet in this particular matter because the Roman Catholic view of (in part) the administration and (in much, much larger part) efficacy of "Sacrament" is the source of the ongoing disconnect. We are not yet speaking the same language, and the premise of your well-intentioned simple question is unacceptable in this matter to me. First Scriptural support for the Roman Catholic point of view on baptismal regeneration needs to be established, for without this presuppositional foundation, your question takes on the character of “When was the last time you beat your wife,” in that, I would need to accept the RC teaching on baptismal regeneration in order to answer in the affirmative. I do not. I think it is clear why.

My issue is what I assert to be the complete lack of Scriptural support for the dogma of baptismal regeneration in Roman Catholic. My detailed replies are necessary, because both though both you and Carlus are very intelligent, you are still both completely misreading these passages as I have shown - not the theological implication of the passages, but the basic syntax of them in their context. Without Scriptural support for baptismal regeneration there is no intellectual or spiritual foundation for the Roman Catholic teaching on the matter. This is the big issue at this point. To get side-tracked on to multiple, ill-defined, unmarked and unmaintained Roman Catholic dogmatic logging trails is unwise, for it will distract from what has been, to this point, the failing of this and other posts – Scriptural Support for baptismal regeneration sufficient for a dogmatic stance on the matter. Though you wrote, “This post is about sacraments, not just Baptism,” the title of this thread is, “Sacraments: the Sacrament of Baptism…”, which cannot be said to convey anything other than a discussion about the Sacrament of Baptism. This clearly logical presumption is upheld by the content of all of your Scriptural citations, which attempted to convey, as far as I can tell, nothing but baptism and baptismal support from a Roman Catholic understanding of the Sacrament. Though you want simplicity, to, in mid-stream, add six more discussion topics, and again without any Scriptural support, is unnecessarily tangental. As Carlus is wont to say, “Let’s stay on topic”, which to this point is the title of this thread.

A couple of corrections –

"[O]thers want deep theology." Perhaps you think I want deep theology (forgive my presumptuousness in thinking that you are talking about me) because of the details contained in my reply. I don’t think that this necessarily follows. The detail of my replies is resultant from the error of the citations, not my desire to make things more complicated than necessary. Instead of “deep” theology, I want Scriptural support for the Roman Catholic concept of Sacrament. Therefore I don’t accept the epistemological premise of this question “do you agree that these 7 types of graces exist”. Nor do I accept the premise of this statement, “It doesn't make sense to debate how they work if we don't agree they exist.”

Lastly, I think the issue with blogging is chronic superficiality. I am certain that a one sentence answer to a question will not help, even if I accepted the premises (that is, if I were to ignore the dearth of Scriptural support to this point), which I don’t.

I appreciate your desire to establish common ground, but what you have done in this post is to take away the one commonality – Scripture – while expecting up or down answers to faulty questions. You have made the conversation almost impossible with this move.

Sean

Sean said...

Carlus,

This is a false dichotomy

the contrast between the two positions is if there is an actual transfer of grace or if it is only significant in the life of the believerThere are a lot of possibilities other than those two.

saying that there is neither support of denial from Scripture that sacraments actually convey grace.I know you are talking to someone else, but are you actually hoping to argue dogmatically from silence?

Your five questions are all acts of faith - faith is the predicate to faithful works, and faith is a gift of God, so, no, it is not a “work”. Look to Paul's contrast in Romans 4:2-4 in the matter of something deserving wages...but not before God, and the fact that these "works" are several hundred years before the Mosaic Covenant.

Making this kind of a distraction –

I don't believe that Baptism or the other sacraments are works. They are methods instituted by our Lord and Savior. Our God is the cause, not man.Carlus, no one is disputing who instituted it nor who is the cause. But this “Our God is the cause, not man “ needs about 3 paragraphs of Scripturally supported definitions and clarification. “Cause” of what? What happens according to Rome? Where does Scripture teach it (regeneration)? Surely not the passages you have cited to this point? You aren’t going to make me type all that again, are you?

And again, a false dichotomy –

But instead, if it is God that has instituted Sacraments, and is actually participating with the exercise of the Sacrament, it cannot be just a mere work of man.No one is asserting an Anabaptist sort of God-free activity with baptism. You need to stop thinking that.

Sean

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

Sorry, but you have absolutely nothing to do with your salvation but saying Yes, Lord. AND even that is because He first drew you to Himself
By your words, you are saying that you participate with God in your salvation. Like you said, you have to say Yes, Lord. The Yes, Lord is how you receive the free gift of salvation. Of course, you are not the cause of the salvation, but it is Christ working with you, prompting you, irresistably attracting you (as some would say), to Him.

Willison said...

The only reason we are so caught up on this business of "works" is because Luther a Calvin went too far trying to prove they were different.
If I give you a birthday present, it is a grace. You didn't earn it. You don't have a right to demand it. I agree with anonymous that grace, like my birthday present or God's salvation, is an unearned undeserved favor.
But to get the birthday present what has to happen? First you have to take it from me, pick it up, hold it, or somehow take posession of it. If I chose to wrap it, you have to unwrap it. Now there is no person in their right mind who would claim that accepting my birthday present and unwrapping it was an act that you could boast about and giving you the right to claim that you earned the watch inside. Accepting it and unwrapping it does not change the fact that the watch is an unearned gift, it was simply the process by which you received it.
That is completely different than me saying if you mow my lawn, I'll give you a watch. In that scenario, mowing the lawn gave you the right to demand the watch.
So it is with God. The Grace of Salvation is an unearned gift. Faith is the reason you want salvation - not the right to demand it. Baptism is your acceptance of the gift, not an act like mowing the lawn. Baptism is how God chooses to "wrap" salvation. If you accept my gift and then refuse to unwrap it - I'm insulted. If you ask God for salvation and he offers it to you, but you refuse to take it - because it comes "wrapped" - you don't have it.

I hear no dispute that things like Baptism and Marriage and Eucharist exist.

Carlus Henry said...

Sean,

It is as you said...

I know you are talking to someone else,
I am trying to get a better understand of what the New Anonymous person's position.

No one is asserting an Anabaptist sort of God-free activity with baptism.
You may be right, but how do you know what Anonymous believes? Let's let Anonymous answer the question in their own words.

I know you are talking to someone else, but are you actually hoping to argue dogmatically from silence?
I was actually going to wait for a response to the question that I asked. Once again, I am trying to get a better understanding of what Anonymous believes.

You are at an advantage. You can know and understand exactly what the Catholic Church believes. But in order for me to understand what Protestants believe, I have to poke and prod with questions. I have learned that no two Protestants are ever exactly the same (of course the same can be said of Catholics, but at the very least you can determine what the Catholic Church teaches). So out of respect, I do not want to assume anything from our latest Anonymous newcomer.

God bless...

Willison said...

Sean,
You and I would have a great time getting together and talking. It would be loud, but certainly fun. Let me know if you are anywhere near Grand Rapids.

I understand we are going to disagree about what Baptism does, but we agree it exists. We may disaqgree about what communion is, but something involving bread, wine and remembering Jesus exists. We might fight about how it comes about but marriage exists - right?

That's all I want agreement on right now. Believe me - we won't get superficial. And ignore the title - the post we are discussing is whether "Sacraments" do something, and whether the concept of a physical act being used to transfer grace is proper thing for a Chrstian to believe.

And by the way eveyone, I don't discount scripture it is one of my greatest joys because it is the words of my God.

Willison said...

triednotfried,
Sorry, I love my Christians sisters too!

Willison said...

Sean, wrote Without Scriptural support . . .there is no intellectual or spiritual foundation.
Sean, if you think about it, I doubt you believe that only things explicitly stated in the Bible exist. Do you believe in the concept known as the Trinity? Do you believe Jesus was actually God and not just the first among created beings? Belief in those things are pretty much definitional of being a "Christian" but they are not explicitly stated in the Bible. They are inferred. Those doctrines are also consitant with what we know about God from the Bible. And they are true.
Sounds like you believe sola scriptura. That is not in the Bible. The reason I don't believe in that is I believe that concept IS NOT consistent with what is explicitly stated, you disagree and claim it to be true. I am not rejecting our common ground of scripture, but we need to use scripture properly.

Sola scriptura is a whole other posting. Likewise the Trinity. I raise these only in a context to illustrate the false premise that we can reject sacraments out-of-hand because the word "sacrament" is not contained in the Bible.

So is there evidence in the Bible that the premise of the concept of sacraments - God sometimes uses physical things to impart spiritual gifts - consistant with what is explicitly stated in the Bible? If yes, we can move on to what the Church teaches about sacraments and how it imparts them. If no, then we don't have to worry about concepts like baptismal regeneration because if the premise is wrong, the whole argument fails. (Of course even if the premise is correct, the argument still may fail - but let's do this in steps.)

PB said...

Sean, you seem to continually challenge others interpretations of Scripture. Who's to say you are right? or triednotfried? or Carlus? or Willison?

An authoritative interpreter is needed, or each one is his own pope....which is why there are 1000's of denominations. The first step to understanding RC is to submit to an authority.

And reading lists are not bad, they expand your knowledge base. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is online and may be a good place to start.

Sean said...

OK, movin on, I guess. The discussion is losing it's point.

PB,

You think I'm wrong. That's OK. But some idea why I'm wrong would go a long ways in matters of establishing any of your own bona fides. Although that first paragraph of post-modern messiness and meaninglessness is pretty funny.

If I am wrong, show me. I would rather know.

Remind me, PB, from where does the Roman Catholic Church derive it's authority?

Awaiting the next tangible point...

Sean

Anonymous said...

"It seems as though you are saying that there is neither support of denial from Scripture that sacraments actually convey grace. Am I right?"

Not really. What I said is that the specific words "grace is transfered" in sacraments. Salvation is a gift of grace through faith. Saving grace is transfered/imparted through the exercise of the faith of the one who has been drawn to Christ by God's electing love. Saving grace is NOT imparted through the ordinance/rite/sacrament of baptism.

One dies not need specific words in scripture to make the point.

Lee

Willison said...

My my Sean, I didn't take you for the "take my ball and go home type."

The Catholic Church derives its right to interpret scripture from the same place it got the right to decide what scripture is - the Holy Spirit.

Now back to the point, Sean. You seem affraid to concede that you agree with the Church on any point - that's pretty sad. Let me do it for. Baptism is real and Biblical and from God or John spent way too much time in the Jordan! Of course, Sean, God uses physical things to transfer Grace all throughout the Bible.

So let's get to the central issue of this stream - and the only issue you will discuss without pouting - does baptism DO something? Well, the Church teaches that it actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of God." So where do they come to that conclusion from? Let's look at scripture:
First there are many instances in the OT that prefigured baptism (creation with water, then death by water in Noah's ark, crossing to freedom by passing the water of the Red Sea and the Jordan) which reached its fulfillment in the Baptism of Christ. We know this because Jesus said that his baptism would be "fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Matt 3:15. So by Jesus' baptism he fulfilled all rightuousness prefigured in those major events in the OT. (no none of those OT events were either a baptism or a sacrament.) Then in John 3:5 he says no one can enter the kingdom unless they are "born of water and spirit." Did you see that? Spiritual AND physical. Water and Spirit. You must be born of water. You must be born of the Spirit. Without both, you don't enter the kingdom.
Nicodemus said, "What?" You can almost hear "where is that in the Torah???" So Jesus says (listen close all you descendants of Nicodemus), "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?" Fair question!
Now stop salavating Sean. I know he goes on to say "so that all who believe may have eternal life" and "whoever believes will not be condemned" but as you have said, look at the context. He just finished saying you must be born of two things. He didn't change his mind. He's saying "believers" "know my voice" and do what I say. That's why the Church has ALWAYS taught there cannot be baptism without faith. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household," St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer "was baptized at once, with all his family." Acts 16:31-33(Hey Sister triednotfried, do you see his household baptised because of the jailer's faith?) In John, Jesus makes clear that belief is necessary but there is NO being born again without being born of water too. Which of course someone would do if they believed and knew how to get it right? Believers obey, right?
So is it necessary? Let's step away from that passage (which clearly answers yes) and look at Jesus' command: ""Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" He didn't go tell them to accept me in the quiet of their hearts. He didn't say go teach. He didn't say, "Hey boys, get that book written!" He said go baptize.
Does it do something? Well Peter thought so. He declared to the crowd astounded by his preaching: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR the forgiveness of your sins; and YOU SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 16 He made pretty clear that THROUGH baptism GOD forgives sins and people receive the Holy Spirit. Paul agreed. He told the collassions that in baptism we rise with Christ through Faith (again they go together). Col 2:12. I stick with Peter and Paul and say, yes.
So does the Church do it correctly? Read what we do here http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c1a1.htm#1234 Sounds exactly like what Peter and Paul describe.

So Sean, I've had this conversation before. You will either concede that is a way to llok at it you had not considered, or attack my style, focus on a specific word, or just declare me hopelessly lost and be content you know better. But understand this, I learned this, I didn't create it. Most of this was plagerised from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You very well may be smarter than I - and everyone else you know, but in this discussion Augustine is on my side. Thomas Aquinas is on my side. Mother Teresa, and John Paul are on my side. Even Luther and Calvin agree with me on this one.
You are smart enough to think of your own position. Congratulations. Who agrees with you?

PB said...

Sean,
It is not meaningless, it is the heart of the question. You must trust something, or someone. It seems that you believe the Scriptures to be the only authoritative source for knowledge of God.

I would suggest that the RC Church has authority because Christ made the apostles his successors and they in turn have passed down the faith through oral and written tradition for 20 centuries in an unbroken line. The early Fathers writings confirm the same doctrines were taught then as they are now. When Christ said he would be with His Church until the end and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it, I don't believe he was talking about some amorphous set of ideas, but a real, physical Church. And didn't he also promise to leave the HS to guide that Church. That individual men have sinned along the way does not negate the truth of the doctrines.

I would ask you, Sean, when did the Catholic Church lose it's authority? I don't know of a time when Christ removed his promise from the Church.

I have put my trust in the only Church with 2000 years and unchanging Truth to back it up.

PB

Anonymous said...

"I don't believe that Baptism or the other sacraments are works. They are methods instituted by our Lord and Savior. Our God is the cause, not man."

If it is just Man that is involved and motivated and moved to do something and God is not involved in the least amount, then that would qualify (in my opinion) as a work."

So whatever motivates a person to "act" is the "cause" of the action?

Let's open all the jails and prisons!

Lee

Carlus Henry said...

PB / Sean....

Okay you two....let's try to stay on topic.

God bless....

Carlus Henry said...

Lee,

Saving grace is transfered/imparted through the exercise of the faith of the one who has been drawn to Christ
How is baptism or any of the other sacraments an exercise of the faith which in your own words, is how saving grace is transferred / imparted? It is as you said...

One dies not need specific words in scripture to make the point.God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

Lee,

So whatever motivates a person to "act" is the "cause" of the action?

Let's open all the jails and prisons!

I don't understand the correlation...can you expand on this?

Willison said...

Hey Lee, did you understand my post about the Birthday present? What do you think about that?

Anonymous said...

W - I think youe example of a birthday present in the temporal realm cannot be compared with the spiritual aspects of God's grace. Apples and oranges.

To cut to the chase once more, it comes down to whether or not God is sovereign over the salvation of men or if men help. this is monergism v. synergism. Scripture teaches monergism. If you are interested in pursuing it further, here are what Jesus and the NT authors have to say about God's sovereignty:

JESUS:

Matt 22:14
John 6: 37, 44, 65
John 10: 26-27
John 13: 18
John 15:16, 19
John 17:2, 6, 9

PETER:

Acts 2:23,39
Acts 3:16
Acts 5:31
1 Pet 1: 1-3, 20
2 Pet 1:10

PAUL:

Rom 1:6
Rom 8:30
Rom 9:11, 13, 15-16, 18, 21
Rom 11:5-7 ,36
1 Cor 1:26
Eph 1:4-5
Phil 1:29
Col 3:20
1 Thess 1:4
2 Thess 2:13
2 Tim 1:9
2 Tim 2: 10-25
Titus 1:1

WRITER OF HEBREWS:
Heb 12:2

LUKE:

Acts 2:37
Acts 11:18
Acts 13:48
Acts 14:27
Acts 16:14
Acts 18:27

JAMES:

James 1:18
James 2:5

JUDE v. 24

JOHN:

John 1:12-13
1 John 5:1
Rev 13:8

Note the themes of God's sovvereignty and the 'actions' of by God on the behalf of men, from before creation even. Also note the absence of 'actions' of men contributing to the process.

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

While we can discuss the Declaraion of Rome as the TRUE Church and when exactly this came about, Peter as the First Pope, Apostalic Succession...this is not the post to do it on.

Please stay focused on the subject at hand...

God bless...

Willison said...

Anonymous, you are missing the whole point if you think human action could even be capable of affecting God's sovereignty. The whole concept of free will is hard to grasp, but it also speaks to why he chose a sacramental system to impart Grace.
We were made to love and serve God, but there is no love, unless there is also the choice to not love. God made us capable of betraying him so that if we choose to love him it is truly love. Calvin (who I sense has greatly influenced you) was 180 degrees wrong with the concept of irrisitible Grace. If you have no choice, it's not love. Lucifer saw God face to face and still made the choice to leave.
So the God who created free will CONSTANTLY calls us to participate in his work. The ongoing work of creation has been entrusted to us. We can choose to continue our species or stop. We can invent medicines and we can invent bombs. He made us capable of choice. The essense of HUMAN DIGNITY is the ability to choose good for our self or bad for our self. So yes, we can choose salvation or damnation. We can choose faith or self. And guess what - if we choose salvation today we can choose to abandon that salvation next week. And if we choose to return the week after that - there is a way to do it.
Get over the concept that we are not allowed to do anything. We are REQUIRED to participate.
Eve could have chosen to not bite the apple. Moses could have chosen to not split the Red Sea. And Mary could have chosen to not give birth to Jesus.
So it is exactly like unwrapping the present. We don't earn our salvation, we accept it in whatever way he wants to give it. You say accepting him in the quiet of your heart is what he wants, I say it is participation in sacraments. Either way we're just doing what he wants, not forcing him to act.
So we are not talking about the difference between a work or a non-work. We are talking about which style is the way GOD wants us to receive his Grace. Your way is purely spiritual. And at first glance that makes sense. God is Spirit. Our soul is Spirit. Our main goal is for our spirit to get to Heaven and live with his. In that view, the body just carries the soul around and gets in the way of salvation - calling us to this dirty world.
But then we have that pesky problem of the resurrection of the body. Doesn't it seem odd that once we are in Heaven God would want us to be reunited with our physical body? But he does. Beacuse you can't be human without two natures. So your way makes sense if God only wants to sanctify the soul. But the Bible is full of God including and emphasizing the human body as well. So sacraments address that. The body and soul are both sanctified and both participate. So it seems the way of the Church (sacraments) is more in line with how God sees us and cooses to operate.

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

Once again...I am going to ask that we stay on topic. As I stated before, we can surely talk about anything you want, but right now we are talking about the Sacraments...nothing else, nothing more.

Until this discussion is complete, it makes no sense to bring up any other topics. If and when this subject is over, then we can discuss something else.

God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

Lee,

I am sorry that you have decided to leave us. I thought that you added an interesting perspective to the conversation.

You are welcome to return any time.

God bless...

Anonymous said...

"The whole concept of free will is hard to grasp, but it also speaks to why he chose a sacramental system to impart Grace."

Sir, I do not find that anywyere in scripture, that God 'chose' any 'system' in which men take part, to effect the salvation of anyone. What is in scripture of God's choosing, is that he chose PEOPLE for salvation. If faith (a gift from God) is ALWAYS tied to salvation, and 'water' is mentioned in conjunction with salvation but a few times, and by some interpreted to mean the Sacrament of water baptism, the matter should be clear to even the most casual reader of the bible. See Eph 2:8-9.

Salvation of is of the Lord, from beginning to end. He planned it, He sets it in motion, He ensures those he intends to give to the Son WILL come to the Son,and the Son will cast not a single one from the Kingdom.

That sir, is scripture. I leave it to you to examine it without the Catholic blinders.

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Sir, I do not find that anywyere in scripture, that God 'chose' any 'system' in which men take part, to effect the salvation of anyone.According to this statement, you believe that the Bible does not teach that men take part to effect the salvation of anyone. I have to be misunderstanding you, because obviously God chose Peter and Paul and the rest of the Apostles to share the Gospel with everyone. Scripture is full of instances where God "chooses" and "commissions" others to be witnesses for Him. In that regard they are taking part to effect the salvation of those that hear them.

If faith (a gift from God) is ALWAYS tied to salvation, and 'water' is mentioned in conjunction with salvation but a few times, This is intersting too. How many times does God have to mention something before it validly becomes the true Word of God? You are suggesting is only mentioned in conjunction with salvation but a few times, that the use of water is somehow diminished.

and by some interpreted to mean the Sacrament of water baptism, the matter should be clear to even the most casual reader of the bible.
What matter? What is the conclusion that you are coming to?

Salvation of is of the Lord, from beginning to end. He planned it, He sets it in motion, Amen!!!!

and the Son will cast not a single one from the Kingdom.
Amen!!!

Willison said...

I will agree with you on this point: If God is a God of pre-destination (as defined by Calvin that some will go to Heaven no matter what and some will go to Hell no matter what) then sacraments make no sense - at all. Of course, then neither does going to church, or reading the Bible. And if that mindset is correct, then that one guy who said, "If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire." is wrong too. Clearly, he thinks that your actions can determine if you end up in eternal fire. Help me out, who was it who said that? We should tell HIM he's wrong.

triednotfried said...

Carlus: Your response to me and what I wrote is very misleading. If you did not feel that what Anony. wrote was pertinent, why did you publish the comment? Why are picking and choosing instead of having the entire coversation published...that to me is extremely dishonest. I'm with Lee, there's no point in discussing with blinders on. Did you happen to go to Sean's site and read his post from yesterday...it pretty much sums up why people are leaving...sorry

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

Your response to me and what I wrote is very misleading. If you did not feel that what Anony. wrote was pertinent, why did you publish the comment?
The comment that I was referring to was rejected. I allowed the first comment from Anonymous, and rejected a second one that no one else saw. I guess I could have been more clear, but the comment that made that I did reject had the elements in it that I already mentioned.

Why are picking and choosing instead of having the entire coversation published...that to me is extremely dishonest.
I feel that it is important to stay on topic. The topic is Sacraments, Sacrament of Baptism, and also God's Soverigenty...all things that are pertinent to the conversation.

When the Catholic Church claimed to be the TRUE Church, If Peter was the first Pope and the other things mentioned in the comment that I rejected from Anonymous have nothing to do with the conversation.

Did you happen to go to Sean's site and read his post from yesterday...it pretty much sums up why people are leaving...sorry
I have not seen Sean's site...but I will check it out.

I would hate to see you go, but I would also hate for the conversation to go in so many different directions that we don't ever get to the point of one thing.

God bless...

triednotfried said...

"When the Catholic Church claimed to be the TRUE Church"

This sums it up for me right here...show me in scripture where God claimed the Catholic Church to be the TRUE church...or is that off topic? To me it is the crux of all dicussion....

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

This sums it up for me right here...show me in scripture where God claimed the Catholic Church to be the TRUE church...
This would be a good discussion. At the same time, I am still waiting from to hear your responses to some of the points that I have made to you. Namely:

By your words, you are saying that you participate with God in your salvation. Like you said, you have to say Yes, Lord. The Yes, Lord is how you receive the free gift of salvation. Of course, you are not the cause of the salvation, but it is Christ working with you, prompting you, irresistably attracting you (as some would say), to Him.
And also...
Carlus: To me your analogy is absurd.
Why is this such an absurd analogy regarding betraying soverignty?

Thanks...

Carlus Henry said...

Have we exhausted this topic....Should we move on to something else?

Seems like the discussion is taking another turn into the Soverignty of God, Free Will, History... but not so much about Sacraments and Baptism anymore.

Thoughts? And if possible, please try to give me your opinion of whether or not we should move the discussion without sneaking in any little comments to support your view (regardless on which side of the discussion you fall on).

Thanks and God bless...

triednotfried said...

Carlus: It's too hard to discuss the branches and leaves so to speak, (baptism, sacraments, etc) before you have first established a root. One root for me is why the Catholic church is THE church?

We need a base to build on, there is none. Even this in your own comments is confusing....in one you state "The topic is Sacraments, Sacrament of Baptism, and also God's Soverigenty...all things that are pertinent to the conversation."

Then in the next one further down you say "Seems like the discussion is taking another turn into the Soverignty of God, Free Will, History... but not so much about Sacraments and Baptism anymore."

So is the Sovereignty of God pertinent or not? Seems like it is to me, but these two statements conflict on your feelings in the matter....

Willison said...

The free will discussion is directly on point with the concept that God doesn't use sacraments because our salvation is beyond our participation.

And Sean is now beating me up on his own blog so I'll add what I wrote to him - for the record:

Sean,
My initial post cited all those stories because they were EXAMPLES of "actions God requires humans to do BY WHICH he chooses to confer his grace." Let's hit them for you now:
1. Genesis 17 is correct. That is where it says "Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant". You want to argue the converse cannot be inferred. You point out that it says those who don't broke it, not those who do get it. True enough, but even still it is an example of God tying spiritual and physical together.
2. In several posts I have made clear that God is the actor in a sacrament, not the person performing the ritual. Nonetheless, you my friend are off point. God annoints with oil (tells a personto use oil) so it is an example of physical and spiritual going together. And by the way those St. Joseph statues buried to sell a house are not Catholic. It is pure superstition - and good for you opposing it.
3. I was in error. In Exodus 17 God ordered Moses to stricke the rock and in Numbers 20 he struck it twice - but in that passage he was told to speak, not hit. The point is in both stories Moses had to do a physical act before God would give the blessing of water. Doing it wrong had grave consequences, so the physical act must be important. God gave the water anyway, so He clearly has the power to do whatever he wants. He doesn't NEED the rock spoken to, he just commands it. The tie to sacraments is what I said - an example of physical and spiritual going together - we weren't discussing actual sacraments yet. But God is saying I choose to bless you after you do what I say (bring Aarron and the staff, go to that rock, etc.) - sounds like the same God who might later say, in faith poor water over a person seeking salvation and I will clean them from orginal sin.
4. Similar to #2. You point out the 2nd half of the verse but ignore the 1st. It's all present tense (while) annointing and kissing hes says "The LORD annoints you" That was the moment. Nonetheless it was an example of God using both.
5. It's an example. God won't cure until the 7th washing. And yes my point is that sacraments are nothing but obedience. Why do we disagree again? But you can't stay with the point and insult my faith - as if having heros to learn from is silly.
6 & 7. Examples of spiritual and physical. In James he doesn't say oil is good for you. He doesn't say any person is as good as the next he says go to the priest to have it done. Where's the command? I thought we agreed that all of the Bible is God's word. If James wrote it in the form of scripture isn't that God speaking? I thought that was our common ground.

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

It's too hard to discuss the branches and leaves so to speak, (baptism, sacraments, etc) before you have first established a root. One root for me is why the Catholic church is THE church?
Great point. I think that would be a great discussion.

We need a base to build on, there is none.
I am open to suggestion.

So is the Sovereignty of God pertinent or not? Seems like it is to me, but these two statements conflict on your feelings in the matter....
It is definitely pertinent. The second comment of mine was to test the waters in order to see if we should change topics.

Willison said...

Likewise I think triednotfried's statements on soveriegnty are pertinent IF she is saying God would not establish a sacramental system, because sacraments are and infringement of his sovereignty. Is that what you are saying triednotfried?

But I agree with Carlus on things related to the HOW part - like whether we baptize infants, or whether there is apostolic succession, or when we became THE Church.

But on that last point, its a simple matter of history. Whether you think the reformation was right or wrong, every Christian denomination can trace its history back to the day when it was part of a different Christian denomination - except one. That one, for good or for ill, gets to claim the capital "C" Church. "Catholic" is simply a way of saying "universal."

Anonymous said...

Again, that the RC is THE church seems, according to the historical record, to be a result of the RC to have declared herself so, based on reading back into scripture what was necessary for claiming superiority over Constantinople

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Again, that the RC is THE church seems, according to the historical record, to be a result of the RC to have declared herself so, based on reading back into scripture what was necessary for claiming superiority over Constantinople
I am curious if you can give more detail to this. When? Where? What is this statement based off of?

Carlus Henry said...

Everyone,

Since Sean and Lee have both left the conversation, and it would appear that we have a different Anonymous as well as triednotfried, and they seem to be interested to know why the Catholic Church claims to be the One TRUE Church, I am thinking that this would be a worthwhile discussion.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I can only speak for myself, but I already know why Rome claims to be the TRUE church and it's a house of cards. We all know about Peter and the rock. It all hinges on Peter being the first Pope. Concerning the Petros/petra differentiation in the Greek, that anyone reading the exchange between Jesus and the disciples in Greek would pick up.

Is Peter the foundation of the church, or is the truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Then we have the context of the conversation indicating the truth about Jesus that Peter spoke being the rock.

There are other reasons from scripture that indicate the Christ is the head of the church on earth, with the Holy Spirit being sent to be His only 'replacement' as God's presence on earth.

Then we have Peter never claiming authority over the other disciples, but claiming to be equal with them. And Peter spoken of as one of the 'pillars' of the church. Pillars are suppoets, not the foundation.

Perhaps the 'silliest' thing I have heard about the rock issue and Peter is:

"From the grammatical point of view, the phrase "this rock" must relate back to the closest noun. Peter’s profession of faith ("You are the Christ, the Son of the living God") is two verses earlier, while his name, a proper noun, is in the immediately preceding clause"

http://www.catholic.com/library/Peter_and_the_Papacy.asp

For those who might be reading this and wondering what this is about, here is the discourse in MattheW.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." ‘Matthew 16:13-18

So here is Jesus asking his closest followers "Who do folks say I am?"

He gets a couple of answers and Peter jumps in the conversation with the real deal. "You are the Christ, the son of the living God."

To which Jesus says, You got it, dude! And you didn't come up with that on your own, God let you in on it! And by the way, I"m going to build My church on that little God given tidbit!

You don't even need to know Greek to follow that conversation!

The 'Jesus spoke Aramaic not Greek'argument is weak also because the inspired scriptures were written in Greek.Men wrote what God told them to write through the 'breath' of the Holy Spirit.

Now that's settled, we don't even need to get into Gregory the monk being elected Pope in 590 and thinking it a bit over the top to claim to be the top dog of all the churches; and that in about 606 Rome (Boniface III)did declare himself the "Universal Bishop" (Rome/Constantinople tussle).

If Peter wasn't any sort of first Pope by any honest examination of scripture, the whole supremacy of Rome and Primacy of the Pope is a dead horse.

Lee - the same one, I couldn't help myself since you seemed to think I wanted to know why the RC conslders herself the one TRUE church.

I've already done my homework on that one.

Willison said...

Hi "Lee",
Maybe before we tear into how "unbiblical" the "house of cards" is, I would like to look at the part where you say "I already know" and then go on to be wrong. Peter is not and never has been the foundation of the Church. Let's go to the horse's mouth. This is copied from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

763 It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent. "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures." To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery."

764 "This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ." To welcome Jesus' word is to welcome "the Kingdom itself." The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the "little flock" of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is. They form Jesus' true family. To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new "way of acting" and a prayer of their own.

765 The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head. Representing the twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem. The Twelve and the other disciples share in Christ's mission and his power, but also in his lot. By all his actions, Christ prepares and builds his Church.

766 The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus." "For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the 'wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'" As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.

If you go to any online or printed version, the paragraph numbers will be the same. There you will find footnotes after every sentence. Enjoy your journey!

Carlus Henry said...

Everyone,

Okay. That was definitely my fault. I meant the last anonymous comment to be the last one on this topic, and an introduction to the next blog post.

Thanks everyone for participating and contributing. Remember, even though we do have differences, we also have many similarities. To just focus on the differences would not do justice to what we have in common. I believe that we are all striving to know and love the Truth. We have come to different conclusions, but I do feel that everyone here has a true desire to know Christ, and His plan of Salvation for us. Please pray for each other and I will also pray for you that we will all come to a deeper understanding and love for the Truth - Christ Jesus.

God bless...