« first day    last day (61 days later) » 

12:17 AM
@LeeWoofenden Sounds good! I'll keep you informed of my progress through it, and I'll come here or to the main site with questions.
 
 
3 hours later…
3:15 AM
@Mr.Bultitude So far I've read up through Chapter 4 in Sproul's book. As you say, he sees "faith" as more than mere intellectual assent, but as something involving the will. And that is good. But so far the basic fallacy of justification by faith alone as he describes it appears to be exactly what I have been saying.
@Mr.Bultitude The bulk of the early chapters are devoted to the conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism. Since I think both are wrong, those chapters are mostly of historical interest to me.
@Mr.Bultitude The first really substantive statement for me was this one, in Chapter 2:
> The Reformers viewed justification as being forensic, resting on God's judicial declaration that the sinner is counted as just or righteous by virtue of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.
@Mr.Bultitude This confirms my view that Protestant doctrine is essentially a legal doctrine. Which is why I think it is essentially still an Old Covenant doctrine. It is a doctrine of law, not a doctrine of grace. It is a doctrine of God judicially clearing humans of the consequence of sin.
 
 
3 hours later…
6:07 AM
@Mr.Bultitude And then in Chapter 4, "Justification and Faith," Sproul writes:
> Paul does not exclude justification altogether. He does exclude it by virtue of our doing deeds of the law. Justification on the ground of our works is eliminated as an option. (italics added)
Here he makes what I view as the basic error of Protestants in interpreting Paul: confusing "the works of the Law" with "good works."
"The works of the Law" refers to something specific: observing the Jewish ritual and ceremonial law under the covenant of circumcision. This is not the same as "good works."
@Mr.Bultitude He then goes on to say:
> The law of God requires perfection. It is a requirement that sinners do not and cannot meet.
This is another one of those Protestant sayings that sounds sort of biblical, but as far as I can tell, really isn't. I simply don't see it as any significant teaching in the Bible, if it is a teaching at all, that God's justice requires perfection in human beings. This, I believe, is a human accretion added to the Bible, not something the Bible itself says.
Instead, the Bible is full of commandments to repent from our sins and do righteous deeds instead. And I simply don't believe that the entire Bible tells us to stop sinning and be good only to end with a big, "GOTCHA! YOU CAN'T REALLY BE GOOD!!!" That sort of trickery and "I-told-you-so-ism" is unworthy of a loving and just God.
So far, then, Sproul has mostly confirmed what I already thought about Protestant justification doctrine: that it is legalistic, that it misunderstands Paul, and that it makes God out to be a petty tyrant.
And now I'm about to head into Chapter 5, on "Imputed Righteousness," where I suspect the doodoo will start really hitting the fan from my perspective. But that will have to wait for another day.
I do appreciate that Sproul makes faith out to be something more than intellectual belief. But so far, the rest of it has all the trappings of Protestant sola fide fallacy that I've been talking about all along.
 
 
7 hours later…
1:28 PM
@Mr.Bultitude On a less critical note, Sproul's coverage in Chapter 4 of Notitia (the act of knowledge), Assensus (theoretical assent), and Fiducia (fiducial and practical assent) has a strong parallel in Swedenborg's common triad of scientia (knowledge), intelligentia (understanding), and sapientia (wisdom).
Wisdom in Swedenborg's understanding of it is not mere sagacity, but rather a commitment in heart to living by the truth known and understood. Wisdom in Swedenborg's schema necessarily involves love and action as well as knowledge and understanding.
So it is inherently not mere intellectual knowledge and assent, but combines the full "trinity" of love, understanding, and action. I think this is what Sproul is getting at with his essay defining Fiducia. Although on a more critical note, I believe Sproul's definition of Fiducia is inherently contradictory to sola fide, "faith alone," just as for Swedenborg wisdom necessarily includes love and action, and is therefore in no way "alone."
I.e., although Sproul does have some fine insights, once again it is the non-biblical "alone" that vitiates the whole doctrine. And in the early chapters Sproul is adamant that that "alone" cannot be dispensed with.
In ordinary terms, you can't just define "faith" as "love, faith, and action," and then say that faith alone saves us. That would be like defining "blue" as a color consisting of red, white, and blue, and then declaring that the U.S. flag is "blue alone."
 
 
6 hours later…
7:31 PM
@Mr.Bultitude I just finished Chapter 5: "Imputed Righteousness: The Evangelical Doctrine." And though there are a few correct statements in it (from my point of view, of course), for the most part it is a tissue of legalism and confused ratiocination that has no relationship whatsoever to what the Bible says about sin, justification, and righteousness.
First, it argues that:
> justification has to do with alegal or judicial matter involving some type of declaration. We can reduce its meaning to the concept of legal declaration. (italics in the original)
It then goes on to argue that God declares us just legally due to the imputed righteousness of Christ. And it insists that this imputation is not anything that becomes inherent in the person, but (in one of the few tie-ins with the Bible) it is like God clothing us with righteousness. It specifically rejects the "Roman" idea that God declares us just or righteous because we have any actual justice or righteousness in us.
Then it does a poor job of trying to argue its way out of the Catholic objection that this view of justification is a mere legal fiction: God declaring something to be so when it actually isn't. I was actually surprised at how weak Sproul's argument against this was. Basically, it amounted to yelling, "Is Not!!!!"
@Mr.Bultitude In short, the chapter followed pretty much the trajectory I expected, and completely failed to convince me. For one thing, although Sproul keeps asserting that his Calvinist view is what the Gospel teaches, so far, in typical fashion, he hasn't quoted a single passage from the Gospels or anywhere else in the Bible that actually says these things.
It's as if he thinks that if he repeats often enough that sola fide is "the heart of the Gospel," it will become true just through mere repetition, without the need to actually show that these things are stated in the Gospel.
@Mr.Bultitude The relevant chapter in Swedenborg's True Christianity is Chapter 11, which in the New Century Edition translation is titled, "The Assignment of Spiritual Credit or Blame." However, that is a bit of a neologism for Swedenborg's much simpler Latin title for the chapter: De Imputatione.
@Mr.Bultitude in the chapter, Swedenborg basically trashes Protestant views of imputation, saying that they are a complete fiction with no basis in the Bible whatsoever. I won't repeat it all because presumably you'll get to it in your own time.
@Mr.Bultitude For now, I'll just say two things: 1. God does not engage in fakery and legal fictions, declaring humans just when they aren't actually just. 2. When Christ's righteousness is "infused" into us (or whatever word you want to use), it doesn't become ours or "inherent" in us. Rather, it is still God's in us. That's what it means to be filled with God, or the Holy Spirit.
So the righteousness is never ours, and is always God's. But when we open ourselves up to God's presence in us, we become filled with God such that godliness becomes our primary characteristic. And then, due to God's presence in us, we become righteous people because God's righteousness is what primarily moves us.
Oh, and I'll say once again that God is not some petty tyrant or nitpicker who requires absolute perfection. I really don't know where Protestants get that idea.
 
 
2 hours later…
10:14 PM
@Mr.Bultitude In reading Chapter 6 I just came across Calvin's famous statement:
> It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone:
And here is his illustration:
> Just as it is the heat alone of the sun which warms the earth, and yet in the sun it is not alone, because it is constantly conjoined with light.
As it turns out, Calvin was wrong about this. The light of the sun does warm the earth also. See, for example, this Q&A at Quora.com: "How does light energy turn into heat energy?"
Just so, the statement itself is wrong and contradictory. And as I read on, I see that Calvin and Sproul keep right on trying to have it both ways, saying that it is only faith that justifies us, but that faith is accompanied by will, charity, and so on. It's just a lot of fine hair-splitting distinctions that have no real-world meaning.
But more than that, it is based on an entirely wrong and legalistic understanding of justification.
We are not justified because God legally pronounces that we are just and righteous. We are justified because God makes us righteous. And that doesn't happen by Christ magically "imputing" his righteousness to us, and covering up our sin like a beautiful garment covering a diseased body. It happens by the body itself being made well.
Besides, God doesn't look at our clothing in deciding whether or not we are righteous, or justified:
> But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
No amount of righteous "clothing" can change a person's heart from sinful to righteous.
Honestly, I'm finding it difficult to keep reading, because it is just fallacy piled upon fallacy. But I'll persist.
 

« first day    last day (61 days later) »