touching graduation night in Austria… and I love my job

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Last night, the students who’d come together twelve weeks ago to begin their Bible School experience, brought it to completion with a graduation supper, and a closing service, honoring both the students and the staff who, together, were the body of Christ in this beautiful part of the world for the past months.  I do the last week of teaching because my lectures are on I Corinthians, which is about what it means to be a church, an appropriate topic for just before students leave.

The week was refreshing both because of the students hunger for the word, and because of the conspicuous absence of the fighting between the emergent church and neo-Calvinists.  On Sunday the 20th, I’ll share a video about the history of the Protestant church in this village, along with God’s movement of ecumenism between Protestants and Catholics.   I must say, the absence of rancor between Catholics and Protestants over here is humbling.  Both groups recognize that, within their organizational ranks there are both believers and unbelievers, realizing that institutional loyalty, or loyalty to doctrines beyond the sufficiency and centrality of Christ, are entirely secondary.   I wonder if we have anything to learn from this?

These students will scatter, back into churches of many flavors, in many parts of the world.   They won’t bring rancor over issues of sovereignty and total depravity.  They won’t consider themselves emergent.  They just love Jesus, and are trying to love others too.  This, of course, is the point isn’t it?

Anyway, I love my job – shepherding a tremendous flock in Seattle, and declaring Christ to the next generation as I travel and teach several weeks a year.  I thank the Lord for both worlds, as I’m increasingly convinced that each enhances the other in profound ways.

Cheers!  And students… congrats.  You blessed me more than you can know this past week.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • Lamont

    “OH HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, PERPETUAL VIRGIN, “SINLESS CO-REDEEMER” OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!
    ASSUMED INTO HEAVEN IN LIKE MANNER AS YOUR HOLY SON THE SAVIOR, AS ATTESTED TO BY HIS “HOLY FATHER,” AND “VICAR OF CHRIST” THE POPE BY INFALLIBLE ORACLE NOV. 1ST 1950.
    We appeal to you to make intersession to your Son Jesus, on our behalf, knowing a Mothers love can do much in convinving Your Son to bless our efforts of ecumenicism.
    To disregard silly things like Salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Knowing that we have earned our salvation by merit in participation in the Mass and the Eucharist, and our belonging to Mother church!
    For early parole out of Purgatory, by our indulginces (tithes, good works) and appeals to dead saints!
    Not surrendering to “legal fictions” such as the “imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ” by those who have been pronouced “ACCURSED” by Mother Church at the council of Trent, which has never been repealed, but validated by Pope Ratzinger!
    OH HOLY MOTHER, help shut the mouths of those “Neo Calvinist” and all their bickering over “Scripture alone!”
    Teach them, as Mother church taught their forefathers, by making “human candles” of them for thinking one could be saved apart from Mother Church, by Grace Alone, through faith alone!
    Thank you for being my Mediatrix!

    P.S.
    Tell Jesus hello for me!

    • Dan

      Zoiks!

    • raincitypastor

      I’m so tempted to match your sarcasm, but will withhold and only say this: There are Catholics who believe that salvation is through faith in Christ alone, and there are Protestants who don’t. My responsibility isn’t to call people out of a certain club (maybe that’s God’s job) – but to call people to the ‘simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ’ (like that other guy told us to do, remember Paul?) If you have a problem with that, and feel the need to point out the flaws in Catholicism, why do you stop there? Luther was anti-semitic in spite of the realities of Ephesians 2 and persecuted the anabaptists vigorously in spite of the realities of I Cor. 13 and the absence of adult baptism in the new testament. Does that invalidate the reformation? I didn’t think so. But if you must spend your days picking on one particular church and pointing out it’s weaknesses, while remaining strangely silent regarding the weaknesses of the other ones… have at it. It’s as if you’re angry because I don’t come across like I hate Catholics. Well, given a choice, I’d rather hang with young people who come across like they love Jesus, rather than those who come across like they hate Catholics. And strangely, the choice isn’t even difficult.

      One last thought… my reference in the post to ecumenism comes in the light of a two hour conversation with the pastor of Protestant church about the real and abiding doctrinal fissures between Protestants and Catholics, AND the realities that within both camps there are genuine believers. The Protestant pastor speaks in the Catholic church twice a year, and vice versa for one simple reason: both believe in salvation by faith in Christ.

      • Linda

        The Roman Catholic church have a different view on justification (they do not teach imputation), they also teach being “born again” by water baptism, totally un-Biblical.

        They need to be evangelized. Do you not care about their eternal souls???

      • Dan

        Richard,

        I am kindly asking you to please stop using the term “neo-Calvinists”. I am attaching a link, and ask that you at least read the first 3 paragraphs. To be lumping me into what I feel is a negative and pejorative terminology I feel is unfair and unproductive to the real debate that rears it’s head here all too often, and does not reflect who I am as a traditional Calvinist.

        http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/neo_gnostic.html

        Hopefully you read it. Thanks in advance.

      • Dan

        I think this is a good paragraph that emphasizes why I object to the “neo-calvinist” term Richard. It’s from one of the essays in the link I pasted above. That is a great link!

        Amid the bewildering welter of ephemeral ideologies that we will inevitably confront in this pursuit of learning true Calvinism, we need to meditate upon the memorable words of Thomas Goodwin: “God is the most glorious object that our minds could ever fasten upon, the most alluring. Thoughts of Him should therefore swallow up all other thoughts. . . . “. “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord. . . . . . ” (Jer. 9:24a) .

        As Charnock observed, “a man may be theologically knowing but spiritually ignorant”. A thoroughgoing Scriptural knowledge of Biblical soteriology is only truly engendered by a fervent love for “The Lord Christ” (as Owen affectionately and reverently addressed our Regal Lord and Saviour) . The proper attitude of a Calvinist imbued with this fervent love for our Lord, and possessing a comprehensive knowledge of Biblical, Systematic, and Historical Calvinism, was wonderfully exemplified by a stalwart of the nineteenth century, Mr. Alexander Carson. His remarks form a fitting conclusion to this essay:

        ” If there is a progress in the Christian’s knowledge of the Gospel itself, every step in that progress, he must get rid of a proportional degree of ignorance and error. This proves, then , that perfect uniformity of view, much less of language, even with respect to the gospel itself; is not to be expected among Christians. According to their respective progress, there will be a difference, whether expressed or not. As far as Christians are taught of God they will agree. But even in the Gospel they are not all equally taught of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nothing, then, is farther from my wish then to be understood as dooming to damnation all who are not prepared to adopt the whole of my views. . . . . . . . . . . that arrogance that makes a god and saviour of its clear views, that confines salvation to a mode of expressing faith, that looks with contempt on the body of Christians, as a sort of pious infidels, that seems to delight in the fewness of the saved, finds no sanction from the Scriptures, and originates in the pride of human nature, not in godly zeal for the truth. When a man seems anxious to find out something in the faith of professing Christians at which to cavil, when he strains their language to condemn them, there is no ground to suppose that he is influenced by love. Keeping clear, therefore, of a censorious spirit, I would wish to impress Christians with the importance of my views of the subject. They have no sectarian tendency, but address themselves to the candor. . . . . of all Christians. The strength, the beauty, the glory of Christianity will appear in proportion as it is viewed in this light. ” –Greg Fields

    • http://girlwithflathat.blogspot.com Juliet

      I try to avoid debates on blogs these days and will therefore avoid addressing Lamont’s caricature of my faith directly, but anyone who wants to learn more about the current state of affairs regarding Catholicism, Lutheranism, and justification may wish to read the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (from 1999, I believe, a little more recent than the Council of Trent!), linked below. Obviously the Lutheran World Federation does not represent all Protestants, but it gives an idea of the sort of reconciliation that is happening between Catholics and Protestants from a number of denominations.

      http://tinyurl.com/6ee1

      • Linda

        This is from the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification:

        11.Justification is the forgiveness of sins (cf. Rom 3:23-25; Acts 13:39; Lk 18:14), liberation from the dominating power of sin and death (Rom 5:12-21) and from the curse of the law (Gal 3:10-14). It is acceptance into communion with God: already now, but then fully in God’s coming kingdom (Rom 5:1f). It unites with Christ and with his death and resurrection (Rom 6:5). It occurs in the reception of the Holy Spirit in baptism and incorporation into the one body (Rom 8:1f, 9f; I Cor 12:12f). All this is from God alone, for Christ’s sake, by grace, through faith in “the gospel of God’s Son” (Rom 1:1-3).

        The Lutherns also need to be evangalized, because they believe a person is justified when they are baptised by water, they are lost just like the Roman Catholics. May the Lord have mercy on them and show them the way.

    • Dan

      Uh Lamont, I didn’t write what you are lambasting. Richard (Raincitypastor) did. But you always seem eager to fight. Very Christ-like! Toning it down a bit would open a lot of ears, I would think. However, because I can be a little “stern” sometimes, your entries are a nice foil to mine, and make me look less…well…pharisitical. So thanks.

      • Lamont

        Richard, Dan, Kevin, Linda, and all!
        After further review….
        I was being an Arse!
        Please forgive me for such a harsh attack! Especially Richard!
        There’s better way’s to deal w/differences.
        Thank you Dan.

        P.S.
        Linda, great job!

      • Dan

        Richard,

        I didn’t apologize. :) It was Lamont. He was the one who had a lot to say to your comments, but he thought I had written what you wrote. Big mixup.

        I did write to ask you to read a link about neo-Calvinism, since I feel your use of the term connotes something I and most Calvinists are not. Did you get a chance to read any of that?

  • Lamont

    “OH HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, PERPETUAL VIRGIN, “SINLESS CO-REDEEMER” OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!
    ASSUMED INTO HEAVEN IN LIKE MANNER AS YOUR HOLY SON THE SAVIOR, AS ATTESTED TO BY HIS “HOLY FATHER,” AND “VICAR OF CHRIST” THE POPE BY INFALLIBLE ORACLE NOV. 1ST 1950.
    We appeal to you to make intersession to your Son Jesus, on our behalf, knowing a Mothers love can do much in convinving Your Son to bless our efforts of ecumenicism.
    To disregard silly things like Salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Knowing that we have earned our salvation by merit in participation in the Mass and the Eucharist, and our belonging to Mother church!
    For early parole out of Purgatory, by our indulginces (tithes, good works) and appeals to dead saints!
    Not surrendering to “legal fictions” such as the “imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ” by those who have been pronouced “ACCURSED” by Mother Church at the council of Trent, which has never been repealed, but validated by Pope Ratzinger!
    OH HOLY MOTHER, help shut the mouths of those “Neo Calvinist” and all their bickering over “Scripture alone!”
    Teach them, as Mother church taught their forefathers, by making “human candles” of them for thinking one could be saved apart from Mother Church, by Grace Alone, through faith alone!
    Thank you for being my Mediatrix!

    P.S.
    Tell Jesus hello for me!

    • Dan

      Zoiks!

    • raincitypastor

      I’m so tempted to match your sarcasm, but will withhold and only say this: There are Catholics who believe that salvation is through faith in Christ alone, and there are Protestants who don’t. My responsibility isn’t to call people out of a certain club (maybe that’s God’s job) – but to call people to the ‘simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ’ (like that other guy told us to do, remember Paul?) If you have a problem with that, and feel the need to point out the flaws in Catholicism, why do you stop there? Luther was anti-semitic in spite of the realities of Ephesians 2 and persecuted the anabaptists vigorously in spite of the realities of I Cor. 13 and the absence of adult baptism in the new testament. Does that invalidate the reformation? I didn’t think so. But if you must spend your days picking on one particular church and pointing out it’s weaknesses, while remaining strangely silent regarding the weaknesses of the other ones… have at it. It’s as if you’re angry because I don’t come across like I hate Catholics. Well, given a choice, I’d rather hang with young people who come across like they love Jesus, rather than those who come across like they hate Catholics. And strangely, the choice isn’t even difficult.

      One last thought… my reference in the post to ecumenism comes in the light of a two hour conversation with the pastor of Protestant church about the real and abiding doctrinal fissures between Protestants and Catholics, AND the realities that within both camps there are genuine believers. The Protestant pastor speaks in the Catholic church twice a year, and vice versa for one simple reason: both believe in salvation by faith in Christ.

      • Linda

        The Roman Catholic church have a different view on justification (they do not teach imputation), they also teach being “born again” by water baptism, totally un-Biblical.

        They need to be evangelized. Do you not care about their eternal souls???

      • Dan

        Richard,

        I am kindly asking you to please stop using the term “neo-Calvinists”. I am attaching a link, and ask that you at least read the first 3 paragraphs. To be lumping me into what I feel is a negative and pejorative terminology I feel is unfair and unproductive to the real debate that rears it’s head here all too often, and does not reflect who I am as a traditional Calvinist.

        http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/neo_gnostic.html

        Hopefully you read it. Thanks in advance.

      • Lamont

        Dan.
        Talking about purity of devotion! A Catholic pray’s to Mary (as I was imitating) and you have a problem w/that? That’s a scratch in the surface of what Catholicism teaches Dan!
        You see sarcasm, I see idolatry!
        You see fellow-Christians, I see an apostate church luring people into certain eternal death through works salvation!
        Why are you appalled at my prayer to Mary, Mediator between Christ and man, but not appalled at the Catholic Church’s false doctrines, in which this is merely one of them? Why the hypocrisy?
        Ever see what happens when a cheese sandwich turns up w/the virgin Mary’s icon on it? I guess that’s o.k. w/you as well? That is the Horror that is Rome!
        This is only one reason I will not sing Kum-Bi-Yah in fellowship them!

        1. Sarcasm is biblical, therefore I use it!
        2. There are saved Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Emergent types)! That’s in spite of Rome & etc…, not because of it!
        If they trust in Christ alone by faith alone, then they are actually espousing Christianity, “NOT” Roman Catholicism &etc…. (Big ETERNAL difference!)!
        5. What Gospel did “the sinner” Martin Luther proclaim Dan? wasn’t it salvation by Grace alone through faith alone?
        That’s not Catholicism!
        Augustine rightly said: “One should judge a belief system by it’s content, not it’s abuses!”
        We should all heed Augustines words!
        I’m sorry Dan if I isolated one false church in relation to another (I hope they arn’t offended!)
        It’s not a weakness Dan! It’s a lie! It’s Satanic!
        This is a difference in a “salvific” category, not a non-essential, in which Richard is either ignorant of, or, wants to pretend it doesn’t exist!
        If I expose the false religion of Roman Catholicism, I’m a hater?
        If I reject the Kum-Bi-Yah sing along, because I fear that some unsaved Roman Catholic thinks he’s a Christian because I refused to tell him/her the truth about Christ, and that trusting in a works oriented religion has condemned them to Hell, and that praying the Rosary will not add one iota of merit toward salvation, then so be it!
        Who is the one who loves here Dan? It’s very difficult to confront someone w/the gospel, when they think they have it! But I hope I would refuse to let them deceive themselves, or be deceived!
        You said it right there! You’d rather hang w/young people who “come across like they love Jesus!?”
        Mormons come across like they love Jesus Dan!

        One last thought!
        The Roman Catholic, once he became a priest, signs to uphold the “doctines” of the Catholic church!
        Twice a year, the protestant pastor, allows the representative of a pagen religion, feed poison to the the flock under his care!
        Mormons, Jehovahs Witness’ . Oneness Pentecostals all believe in salvation by faith!
        How do you know he was a christian pastor Dan? Did he tell you this?

        Nuff said!

      • Kevin

        There is so very much that one could object to amongst your fragmented sentences, confused tenses and chaotic punctuation, but I’m going to have to go with:

        Sarcasm is biblical?

      • Dan

        I think this is a good paragraph that emphasizes why I object to the “neo-calvinist” term Richard. It’s from one of the essays in the link I pasted above. That is a great link!

        Amid the bewildering welter of ephemeral ideologies that we will inevitably confront in this pursuit of learning true Calvinism, we need to meditate upon the memorable words of Thomas Goodwin: “God is the most glorious object that our minds could ever fasten upon, the most alluring. Thoughts of Him should therefore swallow up all other thoughts. . . . “. “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord. . . . . . ” (Jer. 9:24a) .

        As Charnock observed, “a man may be theologically knowing but spiritually ignorant”. A thoroughgoing Scriptural knowledge of Biblical soteriology is only truly engendered by a fervent love for “The Lord Christ” (as Owen affectionately and reverently addressed our Regal Lord and Saviour) . The proper attitude of a Calvinist imbued with this fervent love for our Lord, and possessing a comprehensive knowledge of Biblical, Systematic, and Historical Calvinism, was wonderfully exemplified by a stalwart of the nineteenth century, Mr. Alexander Carson. His remarks form a fitting conclusion to this essay:

        ” If there is a progress in the Christian’s knowledge of the Gospel itself, every step in that progress, he must get rid of a proportional degree of ignorance and error. This proves, then , that perfect uniformity of view, much less of language, even with respect to the gospel itself; is not to be expected among Christians. According to their respective progress, there will be a difference, whether expressed or not. As far as Christians are taught of God they will agree. But even in the Gospel they are not all equally taught of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nothing, then, is farther from my wish then to be understood as dooming to damnation all who are not prepared to adopt the whole of my views. . . . . . . . . . . that arrogance that makes a god and saviour of its clear views, that confines salvation to a mode of expressing faith, that looks with contempt on the body of Christians, as a sort of pious infidels, that seems to delight in the fewness of the saved, finds no sanction from the Scriptures, and originates in the pride of human nature, not in godly zeal for the truth. When a man seems anxious to find out something in the faith of professing Christians at which to cavil, when he strains their language to condemn them, there is no ground to suppose that he is influenced by love. Keeping clear, therefore, of a censorious spirit, I would wish to impress Christians with the importance of my views of the subject. They have no sectarian tendency, but address themselves to the candor. . . . . of all Christians. The strength, the beauty, the glory of Christianity will appear in proportion as it is viewed in this light. ” –Greg Fields

    • http://girlwithflathat.blogspot.com Juliet

      I try to avoid debates on blogs these days and will therefore avoid addressing Lamont’s caricature of my faith directly, but anyone who wants to learn more about the current state of affairs regarding Catholicism, Lutheranism, and justification may wish to read the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (from 1999, I believe, a little more recent than the Council of Trent!), linked below. Obviously the Lutheran World Federation does not represent all Protestants, but it gives an idea of the sort of reconciliation that is happening between Catholics and Protestants from a number of denominations.

      http://tinyurl.com/6ee1

      • Linda

        This is from the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification:

        11.Justification is the forgiveness of sins (cf. Rom 3:23-25; Acts 13:39; Lk 18:14), liberation from the dominating power of sin and death (Rom 5:12-21) and from the curse of the law (Gal 3:10-14). It is acceptance into communion with God: already now, but then fully in God’s coming kingdom (Rom 5:1f). It unites with Christ and with his death and resurrection (Rom 6:5). It occurs in the reception of the Holy Spirit in baptism and incorporation into the one body (Rom 8:1f, 9f; I Cor 12:12f). All this is from God alone, for Christ’s sake, by grace, through faith in “the gospel of God’s Son” (Rom 1:1-3).

        The Lutherns also need to be evangalized, because they believe a person is justified when they are baptised by water, they are lost just like the Roman Catholics. May the Lord have mercy on them and show them the way.

    • Dan

      Uh Lamont, I didn’t write what you are lambasting. Richard (Raincitypastor) did. But you always seem eager to fight. Very Christ-like! Toning it down a bit would open a lot of ears, I would think. However, because I can be a little “stern” sometimes, your entries are a nice foil to mine, and make me look less…well…pharisitical. So thanks.

      • Lamont

        Sorry Dan! I didn’t see your “ZOIKS” there! my Bad!
        It should have been addressed to the RCP.

      • Lamont

        Richard, Dan, Kevin, Linda, and all!
        After further review….
        I was being an Arse!
        Please forgive me for such a harsh attack! Especially Richard!
        There’s better way’s to deal w/differences.
        Thank you Dan.

        P.S.
        Linda, great job!

      • raincitypastor

        thanks for the apology Dan and apology accepted…

        it’s funny because I think we both have the same fundamental belief, i.e. that there is “no other name under heaven whereby we might be saved” – In christ alone!

        May our dialogues always reflect the charity of the one who, alone, can bind us together.
        best… RD

      • Dan

        Richard,

        I didn’t apologize. :) It was Lamont. He was the one who had a lot to say to your comments, but he thought I had written what you wrote. Big mixup.

        I did write to ask you to read a link about neo-Calvinism, since I feel your use of the term connotes something I and most Calvinists are not. Did you get a chance to read any of that?

      • Dan

        Lamont,

        I am as passionate as you about these things, and in my passion, and my desire to “show people the way”, I can come across as an arse myself, which is no way to convince anyone of anything, I’ve found. Even if our tone, when typing, is sounding light or fun, if you use a lot of CAPITALS and exclamation points people feel yelled at. Glad you can see that now. I agree with you on most points. It’s just the delivery that turns me off, and I agree with you most of the time.

        Thank you for the apology. You mean well, I know.

  • Linda

    The Roman Catholic church proclaims a different way of salvation, to which the Apostle Paul would say:

    “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! ” from Galatians chapter 1

  • Linda

    The Roman Catholic church proclaims a different way of salvation, to which the Apostle Paul would say:

    “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! ” from Galatians chapter 1

  • Linda

    The Roman Catholic Church does not teach that a sinner can be justified by his own works of merit. Briefly, its position on justification is this: Christ’s work for us has made the gift of the Holy Spirit available to believers. Men must receive an infusion of righteousness by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit must work repentance and charity (love) in the believer. God then pronounces the believer just because of the work that the Holy Spirit has done in him.

    Or to express it another way: The Roman Church teaches that a man is justified before God because the Holy Spirit has given that man a just nature. God the Father merely recognizes the work which the Holy Spirit has done in the heart of the believer. Justification means to make just or righteous, according to Roman Catholic theology.

    The Reformers abandoned the idea that the Holy Spirit’s work in them could make them righteous in the sight of God. These men knew what it was to struggle for holiness of heart. Never were there more earnest Roman Catholics than Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Farel, Philipp Melancthon, and William Tyndale. They believed that holiness came only from God, and they tried to apprehend enough holiness in their lives in order that they could be accepted before God.

    Yet, being honest men, they could never see enough of God’s grace in their own experience to give them any confidence toward God. Indeed, as they looked deep within their poor hearts, they saw sin in the form of pride, selfishness, unbelief, unresponsiveness to God’s love, and egotism. They despaired of ever being justified by virtue of God’s work of grace in them.

    Then came their enlightenment in the Biblical faith. They rediscovered Paul’s doctrine of justification through belief alone. In the book of Romans the apostle sets forth the Gospel truth that the sinner is not justified by an infused righteousness but by an imputed righteousness–meaning a righteousness that is found wholly in Another. A believer is not justified by virtue of what God has done in him but by virtue of what Jesus Christ has done for him (Romans 3:21-28 & Romans 4:4-11).

    In these words of the apostle Paul, the Reformers found a certain ground of hope. They saw that men need not look within their own experience to find something that will give them any assurance that they may stand acceptable before God. The Reformers were confronted with the great Gospel truth that Christ has already satisfied the wrath and justice of the Father, that justification–God’s declaring them righteous–was evidenced by belief in Christ alone. By faith in God’s perfect work, the finished work of Jesus Christ, they could now rejoice that the righteousness of Jesus was freely imputed to them.

  • Linda

    The Roman Catholic Church does not teach that a sinner can be justified by his own works of merit. Briefly, its position on justification is this: Christ’s work for us has made the gift of the Holy Spirit available to believers. Men must receive an infusion of righteousness by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit must work repentance and charity (love) in the believer. God then pronounces the believer just because of the work that the Holy Spirit has done in him.

    Or to express it another way: The Roman Church teaches that a man is justified before God because the Holy Spirit has given that man a just nature. God the Father merely recognizes the work which the Holy Spirit has done in the heart of the believer. Justification means to make just or righteous, according to Roman Catholic theology.

    The Reformers abandoned the idea that the Holy Spirit’s work in them could make them righteous in the sight of God. These men knew what it was to struggle for holiness of heart. Never were there more earnest Roman Catholics than Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Farel, Philipp Melancthon, and William Tyndale. They believed that holiness came only from God, and they tried to apprehend enough holiness in their lives in order that they could be accepted before God.

    Yet, being honest men, they could never see enough of God’s grace in their own experience to give them any confidence toward God. Indeed, as they looked deep within their poor hearts, they saw sin in the form of pride, selfishness, unbelief, unresponsiveness to God’s love, and egotism. They despaired of ever being justified by virtue of God’s work of grace in them.

    Then came their enlightenment in the Biblical faith. They rediscovered Paul’s doctrine of justification through belief alone. In the book of Romans the apostle sets forth the Gospel truth that the sinner is not justified by an infused righteousness but by an imputed righteousness–meaning a righteousness that is found wholly in Another. A believer is not justified by virtue of what God has done in him but by virtue of what Jesus Christ has done for him (Romans 3:21-28 & Romans 4:4-11).

    In these words of the apostle Paul, the Reformers found a certain ground of hope. They saw that men need not look within their own experience to find something that will give them any assurance that they may stand acceptable before God. The Reformers were confronted with the great Gospel truth that Christ has already satisfied the wrath and justice of the Father, that justification–God’s declaring them righteous–was evidenced by belief in Christ alone. By faith in God’s perfect work, the finished work of Jesus Christ, they could now rejoice that the righteousness of Jesus was freely imputed to them.

  • Hannah

    Richard, that is really cool about the different churches there in Austria and how they interact and respect each other. I am tired of catholics and protostants fighting and it gives hope to hear what is happening there. I work with a lot of teens who have been raised in the catholic church and the other day i had a hilarious conversation with one of them. Two girls were talking about how they dont like to go to church ( i knew they were catholic) so i was like, oh really, why not? Girls: Its boring, my parents make me etc… Me: Yea i understand i felt like that when i was your age and my parents made me, bla bla bla. Then i talked a little about why I go to church now and what i get out if it. Then the girls asked where i went to church and I told them (a local christian community church.) Then what happened was sooooo funny, there was an awkward pause and then, only the way a teenage girl could say it she said……….oh……your a “Christian.” It was so funny to be on the other side for once and to be viewed as crazy.
    Anyway, besides this conversation there are many of the teens who go to different denominations youth groups and are very non-judgemental about different denominations. They are young and just trying to figure out life and learning about Jesus which is awesome. From what i have seen the next generation is much more open minded and non-judgemental and this in an encouraging thing although I am sure there are a lot who would not agree.
    Its really cool what you are doing at Torchbearers too, actually the reason i listen to your podcast and read your blog is because some of my friends in Toronto went to torchbearers in Quebec and had you as a guest teacher and loved your teaching and reccomended that i go to your church in Seattle. Unfortunatly it would still be a bit of a drive for me and i have a great local church. Anyway, you are making a difference following Christ. Thanks!

  • Hannah

    Richard, that is really cool about the different churches there in Austria and how they interact and respect each other. I am tired of catholics and protostants fighting and it gives hope to hear what is happening there. I work with a lot of teens who have been raised in the catholic church and the other day i had a hilarious conversation with one of them. Two girls were talking about how they dont like to go to church ( i knew they were catholic) so i was like, oh really, why not? Girls: Its boring, my parents make me etc… Me: Yea i understand i felt like that when i was your age and my parents made me, bla bla bla. Then i talked a little about why I go to church now and what i get out if it. Then the girls asked where i went to church and I told them (a local christian community church.) Then what happened was sooooo funny, there was an awkward pause and then, only the way a teenage girl could say it she said……….oh……your a “Christian.” It was so funny to be on the other side for once and to be viewed as crazy.
    Anyway, besides this conversation there are many of the teens who go to different denominations youth groups and are very non-judgemental about different denominations. They are young and just trying to figure out life and learning about Jesus which is awesome. From what i have seen the next generation is much more open minded and non-judgemental and this in an encouraging thing although I am sure there are a lot who would not agree.
    Its really cool what you are doing at Torchbearers too, actually the reason i listen to your podcast and read your blog is because some of my friends in Toronto went to torchbearers in Quebec and had you as a guest teacher and loved your teaching and reccomended that i go to your church in Seattle. Unfortunatly it would still be a bit of a drive for me and i have a great local church. Anyway, you are making a difference following Christ. Thanks!

  • lauren

    thank you, thank you for this post, richard. amen and amen for the Holy Spirit bringing unity among believers of all denominations. in my 30-year lifetime, i’ve been members of baptist, presbyterian, lutheran, non-denominational, foursquare, and covenant churches. i went to a free methodist university, and have worked for inter-denominational christian organizations. (my family moved a lot while is growing up, and our criteria for finding a church wherever we lived was not a question of denomination, but of “where is Christ being preached? where is the church really alive, grounded in Scripture and responding to it?”) i appreciate the differences between denominations and groups of christians. some of these differences and disagreements are substantial. but it really is just about following Christ and knowing Him, and there are catholics, lutherans, quakers, episcopals, pentecostals, and non-denominationalists who know Him and who don’t. there are “emergents” and “neo-calvinists” who know Him and those who don’t. so, with richard (and paul) i stand in agreement: let’s return to the “simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

    also, just as a side note, the raging debate between the emergents and the neo-calvinists has come up on this blog many times, and i just have to say that for me, this debate is so peritpheral. i don’t think these two “positions” are our only choices. i absolutely affirm (as i did above) that there are emergent and neo-calvinist lovers of Christ who seek and know Him genuinely. but i don’t find myself in either camp and therefore just don’t find this debate very relevant to my pursuit of knowing and growing in Christ. i think that both camps have helpful insights to offer, but they also (in my view) really miss the boat on some things.

    • Dan

      In the same way that the right peppers it’s faithful with the word “liberal” about the other side; and the left calls the right “neocons”, I’m interested why everyone on this blog who talks about Calvinists always uses the term “neo-Calvinist”. I realize neo-calvinism is a real movement in Calvinism, but it seems to me that it’s used here in a pejorative manner. Why?

  • http://girlwithflathat.blogspot.com Juliet

    I’m probably going to regret this, but here goes:

    Lamont,

    St. Bonaventure, who wrote this psalter, lived in the thirteenth century, not that your link bothers to mention this (I suppose they want you to think it’s a standard piece of Catholic devotional literature, which it’s not). The Council of Trent happened in the sixteenth century. I don’t know what century you think this is, but I live in the twenty-first century. If you want to stop being an “arse,” as you put it, I agree that it’s a matter of tone, but it’s also a matter of loving the person you’re talking to enough to find out what they believe from them or others who share their beliefs, not from people who only describe their beliefs in order to refute them. I suggest you quit reading anti-Catholic propaganda and take some time to learn something about the modern Catholic faith from Catholics. Read the catechism (the most recent one, please), read the documents of Vatican II, go to a few masses if you can stomach it. Don’t worry, if you’re right then God won’t let it hurt you, will He? I am Catholic, I am reasonably well informed about my faith and about church history, and I can tell you don’t know what you’re talking about and haven’t given much critical thought to your sources, which are clearly biased. I’m sure you write what you do because you sincerely believe you are proclaiming the truth of Christ, but if you loved the people you are trying to convert (you do, don’t you?), you would have enough respect for us to learn what we think *from us*. Besides, you can only make an effective argument when you understand what the other side really believes.

    Peace be with you, and thank you for listening.

    • Kevin

      Well said, Juliet.

  • Lamont

    Juliet/Kevin

    I understand your position! My problem isn’t w/Catholics per say, but the Catholic Church, and, its teaching. But, since you identify yourself this way, then it becomes personal! That’s understandable! When I attack the Catholic church, I’m in fact attacking you right? As a protestant, Rome is an Apostate church, and she did it to herself!
    That being said….

    Did you know that in the 21st century that “you & Kevin” live in, that, the 16th century document (to present) your Church holds to, still calls those who trust in Christ alone, by faith alone, “Accursed?” (Canon IX on justification).pg 30?
    Where’s the love there?
    Rome also denys that Justification is a one time pronouncement (see Trent Justification) thereby making Christs atonement insufficient, hence the invention of “pugatory!” (Blaspheme).
    Juliet,
    The Roman Catholic Church determines her doctrines, not you, or Kevin! Period!
    The fact that Bonaventure wrote that psalter in the 13th century show’s how long Rome has be worshiping Mary, regardless if it’s a standard devotional or not!
    Even if you don’t do it yourself, Roman Catholic Doctrine still suppports this!
    Look the Church catechism?
    So, lets look at article 9 sec. 6, 963ff, of the Catechism. That Mary “The Ascended Queen of Heaven” remained sinless, and was assumed into heaven, and that she shared in His (Christ’s) sacrifice as co-redeemer? (Blaspheme BTW).
    Romes view of Mary has not changed!
    I suggest you quit reading anti-protestant propaganda, and read what the Roman Catholic Church actually teaches!
    Also…
    I’ve given much thought to my sources, and, have seen them debate Roman Catholics on these very topics! Calling someone “biased” doesn’t prove that the are! That’s called a “Genetic Fallacy!” I also know a little about church history too! And it’s on my side!

    The Arse.

  • http://girlwithflathat.blogspot.com Juliet

    Lamont, I have to be quick because I have to go somewhere, but to give Kevin credit, I don’t think he’s Catholic, or I don’t know that he is; agreeing with me doesn’t mean he’s “on my side,” so to speak.

    Clearly you came here to have an argument. It takes two to tango and I’m not gonna dance anymore because I find these arguments a waste of time. Your made is clearly made up, and I am secure in my faith–I don’t want to convince you to be Catholic (and if you would PLEASE read Vatican II’s Document of Ecumenism you would see that the Catholic Church *does* think you can be a saved Protestant–Trent is not the end of the story no matter how much you insist on it)–so really, what are we trying to accomplish here? You are naturally going to take this as an indication I can’t defend my faith. I can, I just don’t really care to defend it against you in particular. Peace.

  • http://girlwithflathat.blogspot.com Juliet

    Lamont, I have to be quick because I have to go somewhere, but to give Kevin credit, I don’t think he’s Catholic, or I don’t know that he is; agreeing with me doesn’t mean he’s “on my side,” so to speak.

    Clearly you came here to have an argument. It takes two to tango and I’m not gonna dance anymore because I find these arguments a waste of time. Your made is clearly made up, and I am secure in my faith–I don’t want to convince you to be Catholic (and if you would PLEASE read Vatican II’s Document of Ecumenism you would see that the Catholic Church *does* think you can be a saved Protestant–Trent is not the end of the story no matter how much you insist on it)–so really, what are we trying to accomplish here? You are naturally going to take this as an indication I can’t defend my faith. I can, I just don’t really care to defend it against you in particular. Peace.

  • Lamont

    Dear Juliet.

    This blind guy can see you’re “VERY SINCERE” about your faith, and, I need to be very careful that I don’t attack you personally. If I’ve done that, then I have sinned, and I ask you to please forgive me! Period!
    Even a homosexual would tell me that to attack his belief, is to attack him! I understand that!
    My frame of reference is not my opinion, but Gods words in the new, and, old testament! Anything contrary to what God say’s, (if I am stating this correctly) is sin/evil.
    If what the “Roman Catholic Church” (not Juliet) teach’s something that is contray to Gods word, then wouldn’t you agree that it also sinful/evil?

    Here’s why I’ve said what I’ve said

    Did I come here to argue? Yes, I did! But not at first!
    Richard (as Dan has “clearly” pointed out) has taken “drive-by shots” at fellow X-tians w/his “derogatory” remarks about Calvinists, though he would use the term “Neo-Calvinists” (Dan rightly points that out as well, so I’m not alone in this!)
    Yet, when I confronted him on his “mis-quote” and, “pretext” of 2 Peter 3:9 (blog 11/03/09 Its not even a paradox), he ignored that, and, is now going to continuing w/more of the same in this article?
    X-tians are called to defend the faith, and to rebuke and correct as well.
    I believe that I have responded to Dans rebuke and correction, and I’m not even a pastor.

    Next

    Where in Vatican 2 was Trent recanted?
    Nowhere!
    As Linda has rightly stated, Rome teaches a different gospel!

    The bottom line is…. Christ sheep will hear His voice, and they will follow Him, and not another!
    Juliet. Are you following Him, or Her?
    That’s (I believe) what Richard s/b concerned about!

    I understand why you wouldn’t want to argue (particularly) w/me!

    Hopefully I can be called:
    Lamont “the lesser” (Arse)

    P.S.
    I give credit to Richard that he hasn’t just deleted opinions that have been contrary to his!

  • Lamont
  • Kevin

    Well said, Juliet.


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