A Protestant Seeks to Educate a Catholic on Justification

A new video I made through xtranormal where a Protestant and a Catholic have a discussion on justification, imputed alien righteousness, infused righteousness, initial and ongoing justification, and so on.

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5 Responses to A Protestant Seeks to Educate a Catholic on Justification

  1. Ann Pulliam says:

    Wow — What an amazing and clear explanation. The best I’ve ever heard on this topic. The figures are a little stilted and odd but it does keep your attention and is a creative way to present theological concepts. Thank you!

  2. Devman says:

    Thanks Ann! To get better looking characters and more exciting settings/expressions, you have to pay a subscription fee. :)

  3. Mike says:

    There IS a set of verses that teach that we are forensically justified by the imputed, alien righteousness of Christ. Probably the smallest set includes Roman 4:3, Romans 5:19, and II Corinthians… 5:21. These verses, of course, have to be exegeted in context. Brian Vickers, for one, has done a fabulous job arguing that the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is a legitimate and necessary synthesis of Paul’s teaching in his book, _Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Imputation_. While the fullness of the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s alien righteousness for justification is not found in any one verse (just as the fullness of the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in any one verse), it is there.

    The Catholic guy claims: “The Catholic church does not teach, as you claim, that we are initially justified by works” (emphasis added). That is NOT the claim that Protestants make against Catholics. You have to take the “initially” out. (I DID know, by the way, unlike the Protestant guy in the video, that Catholics hold that there is a distinction between initial justification and an increasing justification that follows, and that the former is by grace through faith but that the latter come in degrees by works.)
    There is no reason to believe that Paul in Romans is talking only about some “initial justification” alone. (Or should I ask you to show me a single verse where he does this?)

    I have given careful study to James’ teaching on justification, and the explanation that the Protestant guy gives of James is pretty weak. Two things: (1) The “faith” that James is talking about that does not justify is not true faith but only a false form of faith—even the demons have this kind of false “faith”. That the kind of faith that James is talking about is not true faith is clear from the context. Furthermore, (2) James chapter 2 is not a soteriological context—the type of justification that is spoken of there is not justification before GOD but justification before MEN. Read the book of James and see for yourself whether or not these things are the case.

    Unlike the Protestant guy in the video, I have thought about the relationship of faith and love—and while faith is never present without love, it is only faith that justifies, just as where there is fire there is always both heat and light, but only the heat burns.

    Unlike the Protestant guy, it is VERY clear that the Reformed tradition says that faith is never present without love—take, e.g., the Westminster Confession, Chapter 11, § 2: Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.”

    There is an equivocation on the phrase “our own righteousness” in the video after the Protestant guy says that Catholics believe that we are saved by “our own righteousness.” The equivocation is between a righteousness that we produce and a righteousness that is internal to us. Protestants say that justification involves neither. The Catholic guy argues that the former is not the case, but (unlike the Protestant doofus in the video) informed Protestants know that Catholics do not think this. Informed Protestants criticize, not the former view, but the latter view, some version of which informed Catholics do indeed hold. The Protestant position is that the righteousness that justifies is an alien righteousness that is completely OUTSIDE of us. This is in contrast with the Catholic view that the righteousness that finally justifies is infused INTO us—hence, the fact that Catholics claim that the righteousness that justifies us is Christ’s righteousness does absolutely nothing to respond to the Protestant criticism.

    The long monologue that the Catholic guy gives about the Catholic view of infused righteousness parallels very closely with (although is not identical with) what Protestants mean when they talk about sanctification.

  4. Randy says:

    There IS a set of verses that teach that we are forensically justified by the imputed, alien righteousness of Christ. Probably the smallest set includes Roman 4:3, Romans 5:19, and II Corinthians… 5:21. These verses, of course, have to be exegeted in context.

    In context? You mean in the way you want them exegeted? Are you aware of the way Catholics interpret these verses? If you are then it would be good to explain why such an interpretation is out of context. For example 2 Cor 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” That fits very well with the Catholic idea of Christ being the once and for all sacrifice for sin in line with the Old Testament concept of sacrifice and in line with the sacrifice of the mass.

    Brian Vickers, for one, has done a fabulous job arguing that the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is a legitimate and necessary synthesis of Paul’s teaching in his book, _Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Imputation_. While the fullness of the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s alien righteousness for justification is not found in any one verse (just as the fullness of the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in any one verse), it is there.

    This is what is known as the phantom argument fallacy. Claim a superb argument for your position exists and don’t say what it is. Is there no way to summarize Brian Vickers argument? Is it really that different than the standard protestant exegesis we were all familiar with?

    There is no reason to believe that Paul in Romans is talking only about some “initial justification” alone. (Or should I ask you to show me a single verse where he does this?)

    Rom 2:6 says God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” If Paul’s main thesis is that works don’t matter, ever, then this is a strange point to bring up.

  5. Randy says:

    I have given careful study to James’ teaching on justification, and the explanation that the Protestant guy gives of James is pretty weak. Two things: (1) The “faith” that James is talking about that does not justify is not true faith but only a false form of faith—even the demons have this kind of false “faith”. That the kind of faith that James is talking about is not true faith is clear from the context.

    Calling it false is a problem. He says Abraham has faith like this. Is he calling Abraham’s faith false? The demons have incomplete faith. Abraham has the same thing plus whatever is needed to complete it. That completing thing is obedience or works.

    Furthermore, (2) James chapter 2 is not a soteriological context—the type of justification that is spoken of there is not justification before GOD but justification before MEN. Read the book of James and see for yourself whether or not these things are the case.

    You like to play with words. Got a problem? Just assume a key word means something completely different. Call it context. How could “faith alone” ever be even considered when talking about justification before men? Men can’t see your faith. They can only see your works. So James 2 would make no sense at all. Who says we even want to be justified before men. Who cares? If it is God who justifies, who is it that condemns?

    The Protestant position is that the righteousness that justifies is an alien righteousness that is completely OUTSIDE of us. This is in contrast with the Catholic view that the righteousness that finally justifies is infused INTO us—hence, the fact that Catholics claim that the righteousness that justifies us is Christ’s righteousness does absolutely nothing to respond to the Protestant criticism.

    I don’t get your point here. Exactly what Protestant criticism are you referring to? Protestants often talk about Christ’s righteousness and our righteousness as an either/or. Catholics say it is both/and. You seem to accept the both/and thing and then dismiss it because it isn’t protestant.