Exodus From Rome, Volume 2: A Biblical and Historical Critique of Roman Catholicism (The Scofield Institute Press, 8 April 2018), by Todd D. Baker, is the latest of a long line of anti-Catholic critiques of Catholicism (i.e., from the perspective that Catholicism isn’t a species of Christianity, and is a “false gospel”). They’re utterly predictable in their lame, oft-refuted “arguments.” I’ve dealt with them innumerable times on my Anti-Catholicism and James White web pages. I wouldn’t spend any time on this at all, except that he mentions my name, and I have an “exception” policy of responding to direct arguments against my own writing: even from anti-Catholics.
Dr. Todd Baker is president of B’rit Hadashah Ministries and Pastor of Shalom Messianic Congregation in Dallas, Texas. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biblical Studies, a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Apologetics from Trinity Seminary under the auspices of Liverpool University at Liverpool, England. He is a professor at Scofield Bible Institute and staff theologian and writer for Zola Levitt Ministries. He has appeared on the television program Zola Levitt Presents several times. With his extensive experience in Jewish Evangelism, he conducts Gospel outreaches to Israel several times a year.
Dr. Baker’s words, from his book, will be in blue.
I. Apostolic Tradition and “Traditions of Men” in Scripture, and Sola Scriptura
[Footnote] 23. Dave Armstrong, 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura (San Diego, Catholic Answers, 2012); Msgr. George Agius, Tradition, 11. Armstrong’s ridiculously entitled book purports to give 100 airtight arguments from the Bible against sola scriptura (the belief Scripture alone is the final and ultimate authority for the Christian). Upon a closer reading of his text the savvy, intelligent Bible discerner will see that all of Armstrong’s arguments are basically riddled with half-truths, straw-man arguments, and begging the question premises—all of which have been thoroughly answered and refuted, in one form or another, by Bible believing apologists.
That may or may not possibly be true of my book and my arguments, of course, but by the same token, this description (as Dr. Baker certainly knows) is not a rational argument. It’s merely a hostile description. In order to demonstrate the merit of the arguments I make in my book, they would have to actually be interacted with, and attempted refutations made.
But anti-Catholics would rather crawl over broken glass on their bare knees for a mile than ever do that! It’s much easier to mock and dismiss with a few childish lines. I’ve written more about sola Scriptura than about any other topic (in my 27 years of Catholic apologetics), and there are plans for my third book on the topic to be published soon. See my Bible and Tradition web page.
See, for example, William Whitaker, Disputation On Holy Scripture;
Yeah, I wrote an entire 310-page book in which I deal point-by-point with the arguments of Whitaker (1548-1595) and also those of William Goode (1801-1868). I did so because many Protestants contend that these two men are the best historic defenders of sola Scriptura. And (what a surprise!) no Protestant (for nearly six years now) has ever even attempted to refute what I offer there. To modify an old saying a bit: “if you can’t beat ’em, flee for the hills.”
David T. King and William Webster, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, vol. 1–3;
Yep. I’ve refuted large portions of the books of these two men (or other papers by them) many times. With regard to the present topic, see:
Answer to Sola Scriptura “Prooftexts” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 & Romans 16:15-16 (vs. Reformed Pastor David T. King) [6-26-12]
David T. King Ignores Sola Scriptura Biblical Disproofs (Incl. lengthy analysis of 2 Peter 1:20: “no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation”) [11-13-17]
Johann Gerhard, On the Nature and Theology of Scripture; Don Kistler, Sola Scriptura; Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, vol. 1; William Webster, Roman Catholic Tradition: Claims and Contradictions.
I’ve dealt with Chemnitz’s arguments as well, and have his book about Trent in my library (hardcover). Presently, those articles are only available at Internet Archive (I have to upload them to my current blog), but if anyone wants to read them, they are listed on my Lutheranism web page (search “Chemnitz”).
[ . . . ]
Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong concludes this has to be what Paul meant:
When Paul spoke of receiving and delivering such traditions, he gave no indication that they were infallible or that he questioned any of them because they came through oral transmission rather than the written word. Thus, he appears to take for granted that which many Protestants have the hardest time grasping and accepting. 76 (Emphasis mine.)
[Footnote] 76. Armstrong, 100 Biblical Arguments, 23.
Dr. Baker botches the quote and in so doing, changes the meaning quite a bit. Where he has “infallible” the actual word I had was “fallible.” I will give him the benefit of the doubt that it was probably an innocent mistake, but this demonstrates the supreme importance of citing accurately.
The thought I was expressing, then, was that, for St. Paul, tradition (including extrabiblical tradition) was authoritative and binding and infallible: both in written and oral form. This directly contradicts sola Scriptura.
What Armstrong fails to take into account is that the Pharisees, in Paul and Jesus’ day, believed Judaism’s oral traditions (later codified in the Talmud) were the unwritten Word of God equal in authority to the written Word of God in Holy Scripture.
Agreed; and Jesus and Paul and the early Christians believed in oral tradition as well. See my papers:
Biblical Evidence for the Oral Torah [10-18-11]
Paul, a former Pharisee, not only knew of this major tenet of Pharisaism, but also once believed it as a former Pharisee (Philippians 3:5).
St. Paul was not a “former Pharisee. He still called himself a Pharisee after he became a Christian. He says so twice:
Acts 23:6 (RSV) . . . “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees . . . “
Acts 26:5 . . . according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.
St. Paul continued to worship in the temple and observe the rites there, including animal sacrifice (Acts 21:26; 22:17; 24:12, 17-18). Indeed, he was doing so when he was arrested. He continued to worship in the synagogues as well, even presiding over some of the services (Acts 13:13-44; cf. 18:4). He acknowledged the authority of the Jewish high priest as his own “ruler” (Acts 23:1-8).
The oral law was placed alongside Scripture by the Pharisees to complete the Word of God. But both Jesus and Paul rebuke this grave error by calling these traditions what they really were in origin and creation—“the traditions and doctrines of men” (Matthew 15:1–10; Mark 7:1–13; Colossians 2:8).
There were indeed (and are) mere “traditions of men” (i.e., contrary to apostolic, true traditions). Jesus and Paul refer to both, so it must be determined which is being referred to in any given context. Jesus told his disciples to observe what the Pharisees told them to do, even if they were hypocrites (Mt 23:1-3), and He said they had this authority because they sit on “Moses’ seat”: a notion that is not found in the Old Testament. See:
“Tradition” Isn’t a Dirty Word [late 90s; rev. 8-16-16]
If Armstrong were adequately educated about what first century Judaism teaches then and today about the so called divine origin of their oral tradition, he would see that Jesus’ and Paul’s condemnation of man-man tradition purported to be from God, is the same thing the Roman Catholic Church believes their Sacred Tradition to be—the unwritten word of God. So the well-deserved rejection of manmade religious traditions by Jesus and Paul equally applies to the traditions of Rome, which also deny the sole sufficiency of God’s Word alone!
This doesn’t follow logically at all, nor has Dr. Baker demonstrated it. He’s merely spouting anti-Catholic talking-points, from the 500-year-old playbook. I provide biblical (and patristic and rational) arguments for every single distinctively Catholic doctrine; most notably in my volume, Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths (which is 95% Scripture verses), but also in my books, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants, The One-Minute Apologist, Proving the Catholic Faith is Biblical, and Revelation!: 1001 Bible Answers to Theological Questions. If any doctrine is “manmade” it’s sola Scriptura: a completely unbiblical and incoherent, self-refuting doctrine.
If tradition, in the three places Paul mentions it in a positive light in the New Testament, became a part of his inscripturated writings of the New Testament, as we have thus far adequately demonstrated, then Armstrong’s forced and unwarranted differentiation between traditions of men and the unwritten traditions of God does not hold water; and he is simply committing the fallacy of equivocation. The fallacy of equivocation occurs when an ambiguous term is taken one way in one occurrence in the argument and then in another way in the second occurrence without showing clear epistemic and contextual justification for making this difference in meaning (i.e., man-made tradition vis a vis the unwritten traditions of God permanently existing outside of Scripture). 77
[Footnote] 77. Douglas N. Walton. Informal Logic: A Handbook For Critical Argumentation (New York: Cambridge, 1989), 250.
This is far too simplistic. Dr. Baker claims that all legitimate traditions become “inscripturated.” But this is a circular argument. The Protestant who argues in this way simply assumes it without demonstrating it from the Bible. Nowhere in the actual Bible does it ever say that absolutely every tradition must eventually wind up explicitly mentioned in the Bible, or else it is non-binding and illegitimate.
Nor does the Bible ever say that every Christian doctrine must be explicitly laid out in Scripture. Nor does it ever spell out and define sola Scriptura and claim (as Protestants habitually do) that only Scripture is infallible and binding as the rule of faith. The quickest way to demonstrate this is to bring up the canon of the Bible, which is nowhere listed in the Bible.
Therefore, it is an extrabiblical tradition that is universally accepted by Christians (the only difference being the Protestant non-acceptance of the seven books of the deuterocanon). Every Protestant uncritically accepts on faith the 27-book canon of the New Testament, not because of sola Scriptura, but because of Church authority and declarations (infallible tradition and an infallible Church decree) going back to the 4th century. There is no way out of this dilemma.
Another quick way to refute sola Scriptura is to cite the Jerusalem Council, which gave a binding decree that all Christians everywhere were henceforth bound to. St. Paul himself passed along the decree in his missionary travels (Acts 16:4). It was an infallible council and Church authority: expressly contrary to sola Scriptura, which holds that only Scripture is infallible.
Dave Armstrong does the same thing when arbitrarily assuming for the Catholic Church that the tradition(s) Paul equates with apostolic teaching do not point to the apostolic writings in Scripture. Therefore Armstrong assumes these traditions must, of necessity, exist outside of Scripture; without unequivocally demonstrating that the apostle meant exactly this when he writes of the apostolic traditions taught in the churches of the first century. Indeed, we have contextually proven in each case these traditions are the very teachings and instructions Paul writes in his New Testament epistles— and thus part of the written Word of God.
Such a universal negative cannot and has not been proven. It’s assumed without argument, which is no rational (or biblical) argument. This is one of many arbitrary Protestant traditions of men: that every time “tradition” is alluded to in the New Testament, it must be referring to something in Scripture (i.e., because the Protestant has unbiblically assumed from the outset that it must do so; not because the Bible ever says so).
II. Mary and the Ark of the Covenant
Catholic theology also believes that the Ark of the Covenant typifies the person of Mary, and like the Ark that could not be touched because it was so holy, Mary in this way could not be touched by a man. Mary symbolizes the Ark since she bore the incarnate Son of God, much in the same way the Ark of the Covenant housed the presence of God. Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong makes the following comparison between the Ark of the Covenant and Mary:
The ark of the old covenant was constructed according to meticulous instructions from God (Exod. 25:9; 39:42–43). How much more perfect must the “God-bearer” be who would carry in her womb God made flesh, the eternal Logos, or “Word” of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity? 117
[Footnote] 117. Dave Armstrong, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (Bedford, NJ: Sophia Press, 2003), 179. [The correct bibliographical information is Manchester, New Hampshire and Sophia Institute Press. Apparently, Dr. Baker got “Bedford” from Wikipedia, but still got the state wrong. Both my book and the current website for Sophia list Manchester, New Hampshire as the mailing address (street address: Nashua, NH)]
Once again, both Staples and Armstrong, following a long train of Roman Catholic tradition, read their own presuppositional ideas of Mary into the biblical texts.
We’re not reading into anything! The many parallels are there in Scripture (as I have written about), as an example of types and shadows or typology: a familiar biblical motif that Protestants accept as much as we do. Secondly, Protestants always claim to be more in line with the teachings of the Church fathers in the early centuries than Catholics are. There is plenty of documentation of this comparison of Mary with the ark from the Church fathers.
For example, it is alluded to by Hippolytus, Ephrem, Ambrose, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Dionysius, Theodotus, and Jerome (not a one of whom ever taught sola fide or sola Scriptura or denied baptismal regeneration or the Real Substantial Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist). Anti-Catholics like Dr. Baker need to take it up with them, then, if they don’t like this, rather than Armstrong and Staples, who are merely reiterating and passing along what has long since been observed.
III. Mary Spouse of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit was not a husband to Mary; He was the super-natural Person and means that conceived the incarnate Son of God in her virgin womb. In this capacity, the Holy Spirit can no way be a spouse to Mary, any more than the seed from the man inseminates the female womb in normal birth could function as a spouse. Joseph was the spouse of Mary, as so plainly revealed in Scripture. Matthew 1:18 identifies Joseph to be the spouse of Mary. “After His mother Mary was espoused (betrothed) to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” Clearly it was Joseph identified to be the male spouse of Mary, for they were already betrothed to each other before the virgin conception of the Holy Spirit. Betrothal in first century Israel was considered as binding as living in a married state, so much so that divorce was necessary to break off the engagement (Matthew 1:18). Hence, they were, in effect, already married, with Joseph being the legal spouse of Mary. Joseph was thus considered to be the only spouse of Mary before and after the virgin birth (see Luke 1:27; 2:5, respectively). A logical understanding of what is involved in marriage between a man and a woman require that only Joseph could be the legal spouse of Mary. It is assumed by Rome, without proof or mention in Scripture, that in order for the Holy Spirit to supernaturally conceive the God-Man Jesus in her womb, she had to be married first to the Holy Spirit. This belief borders on complete absurdity, for this was no ordinary conception.Of course Joseph was her spouse. No one is denying that. So was (in a sense) the Holy Spirit. Dr. Baker, once again, is woefully ignorant of this motif in Scripture of God being a “spouse”. It’s nothing new at all, and I have written about it. Here is a large portion of that paper of mine:
Scripture speaks in terms of the bride being the Church, and makes analogies between marriage and Christ and His Church. So why should there be controversy about Mary being the spouse of the Holy Spirit?
By the same general reasoning that applies to Theotokos (arguing solely from the Bible, not Catholic tradition), it seems to me that “spouse of God” would also be appropriate and non-objectionable. That Jesus’ conception was of the Holy Spirit as a sort of “Father” is plain in the Bible [Mt 1:18-20 is then cited; cf. Lk 1:31, 34-35].
If we ask, then, “Who is Jesus’ father?” (in terms of the origin of His conception), it’s not Joseph, but the Holy Spirit in one sense, and God the Father in another. Multiple senses and meanings and applications are common in Holy Scripture.
By analogy, then, if Jesus’ parents were Mary and the Holy Spirit, then by simple analogy it follows that Mary (in this particular sense, and this alone) is the “spouse of God” just as she was the Mother of God.
Likewise, “spouse of God” is thought to imply an equality with God, when in fact it’s only a limited analogical description based on Mary’s relation to the Holy Spirit in the matter of the conception of Jesus. This description is no more “unbiblical” or non-harmonious with scriptural thought than St. Paul saying “we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor 3:9; cf. 2 Cor 6:1), or St. Peter referring to men becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4; cf. 1 Jn 3:2). These are similarly understood as not entailing equality with God.
Along these lines, there are many biblical passages about Israel or the Church being the “bride” of God the Father or Jesus Christ, God the Son:
Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; . . .
Isaiah 62:5 . . . as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
Jeremiah 31:32 . . . my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. (cf. 3:20)
Hosea 2:16, 19-20 “And in that day, says the LORD, you will call me, `My husband,’ and no longer will you call me, `My Ba’al.’ . . .  And I will betroth you to me for ever; . . . (cf. 4:12; 9:1)
Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” (cf. Mk 2:19-20; Lk 5:34-35; Mt 25:1-10)
2 Corinthians 11:2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.
Ephesians 5:28-29, 32 Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, . . .  This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (cf. Rev 19:7; 21:2; 21:9)
IV. Mary Mediatrix and “Mini-Mediators”
The Catholic justification for Mary’s special role of mediatrix is rationalized on the supposition that God had appointed other mediators in the past. Moses acted in this capacity when he gave God’s law to the nation of Israel (Exodus 32:30; Galatians 3:19). The same Greek word for mediator that is used in 1 Timothy 2:5 is also used in Galatians 3:19–20. Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong phrases such justification in this way:
Mary is Mediatrix in that way, but she is in a second sense also. God clearly uses many human beings as mediators. We pray for each other. Moses interceded and “atoned” for the Jews in the wilderness, and God decided not to destroy them (Ex 32:30). If Moses could successfully intercede on behalf of an entire sinful and disobedient group, and if Abraham’s prayer could spare his nephew Lot (and potentially Sodom and Gomorrah also, if enough righteous men had been found there: Gen 18:20–32), why is it so remarkable that God would choose to involve Mary in intercession and distribution of graces to an entire sinful and disobedient group (mankind)? 84
[Footnote] 84. Dave Armstrong, “Mary: A Biblical & Theological Primer” at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2016/12/mary-mediatrixvs-jesus-christ-sole-mediator.html. Retrieved on February 8, 2017.
Despite the casuistic explanations to defend Mary’s title and function as mediatrix of all salvation graces, the death knell for Mary in the role of special Co-mediatrix is definitely and absolutely refuted, first and foremost, by the shattering truth of 1 Timothy 2:5, which states Christ alone is the one established God-ordained Mediator between God and man. “For there one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Paul’s emphatic proclamation in 1 Timothy 2:5 is both absolute and exclusionary of any other effective Mediator of the New Covenant, from whom and through the salvation of sinners is given. . . .
1 Timothy 2:5 doesn’t rule out secondary, non-essential “mini-mediators” by the grace of God. As usual, the Bible has a “both/and” outlook; not an “either/or” one, based on false dichotomies. They are not usurping the sole prerogative of Jesus Christ. They are functioning as His messengers or “aides” in the application of the grace that always ultimately comes from God. See my papers:
Biblical Evidence for Mary Mediatrix [11-25-08]
That Paul would not allow any other mediators of the saving grace of the New Covenant is further reinforced a fortiori by the fact that he uses a one to one correspondence between the one God and His one Mediator; for the one God corresponds in incontrovertible kind with His one Mediator Jesus Christ. One, thus, means one only and thereby excludes all other mediators from this role. Consequently, by logical deduction, this excludes Mary or any other person from being an additional God-appointed mediator and dispenser of salvific graces under the New Covenant. . . .
Paul, and the rest of the New Testament church, . . . knew that God’s undeserved favor (grace) was channeled, distributed, and given by God through Jesus Christ alone—the fount and great Mediator from whence all saving grace flows and is given for the salvation of sinners. Long after Mary’s death, the apostle John wrote in the mid-nineties, in the book of Revelation, that nothing has changed with regard to Jesus being the only source of God’s saving grace: . . .
That’s a very odd thing to claim, since Paul wrote about himself and others:
2 Corinthians 4:15 For it [his many sufferings: 4:8-12, 17] is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Ephesians 3:2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you…
Ephesians 4:29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
Peter also stated in inspired divine revelation:
1 Peter 4:8b-10 . . . love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
Dr. Baker tries to dismiss the above passage (used in this way) as irrelevant by writing:
[W]hile every believer has been called to be a steward of grace (1 Corinthians 4:1–2; 9:17; 1 Peter 4:10), which involves sharing the saving grace that is part and parcel of the Gospel, these Christian ministers, or mediators, do not have the power or authority to give and delegate that grace from the throne of God.
This is what is called in logic, a “red herring.” In other words, the above claim has nothing to do with the argument as used by Catholics, since we never claimed that anyone but God was sending grace “from the throne of God” in the first place. They obviously couldn’t do that because only God sits on God’s throne! This is obvious from the passage itself, which employs the notion of “steward of grace ” (or, “distributor”) exactly as Catholics do in talking about Mary Mediatrix. The believer “received a gift” from God and then blesses others with it, or passes it on.
A related thought occurs in 4:11, where Peter refers to services rendered to others “by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” The scriptural notion of a spiritual gift is, of course, always presented as coming from God: “gifts bestowed on us by God” (1 Cor 2:12), “gifts of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:14), “each has his own special gift from God” (1 Cor 7:7), “All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Cor 12:11; referring back to his earlier reference to “gifts”: 12:4), “gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will” (Heb 2:4), “every perfect gift is from above” (Jas 1:17).
Note a fascinating thing, though, that perfectly reinforces the Catholic argument about “mini-mediators” or “mini-distributors” of God-originated / God-caused grace. Just as all grace comes from Him, but He often sends it through human channels or “conduits”, likewise, spiritual gifts all come from Him, but we see in Scripture that they, too, are sometimes passed along to men from God through human intermediaries:
Romans 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you,
1 Timothy 4:14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.
2 Timothy 1:6 Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;
God gives His grace to the believer directly through Jesus Christ—a fact stated multiple times in the New Testament.
And sometimes this grace from the Father and the Spirit through Christ comes through human beings, as just proven above.
Paul frequently states this indispensable truth in the salutary opening of his epistles: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3).
Yes He does, and of course that is true (being in Scripture). But Dr. Baker conveniently left out another biblical truth (harmonious with the above) that he didn’t care for: one that shows that creatures are also involved in distributing grace from God:
Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
Isn’t it interesting that — with all our marvelous searching capabilities today — Dr. Baker could find no less than thirteen Bible passages all discussing “grace and peace” from God, while he somehow managed to miss Revelation 1:4. Could it be that it’s because the latter neatly, definitively refutes his notions that “Paul would not allow any other mediators of the saving grace of the New Covenant” and “excludes all other mediators” and “excludes Mary or any other person” and that “(grace) was channeled, distributed, and given by God through Jesus Christ alone” and is given “to the believer directly through Jesus Christ”?
When I do a “proximity search” of “grace” and “peace” in the same passage in the New Testament, on the online Bible I use, it lists all 13 of Dr. Baker’s passages, plus Revelation 1:4 and four others. Perhaps in wishing to avoid John’s verse that contradicts his argument, he restricted himself to Paul’s epistles. Only he can tell us. In any event, the Bible contradicts him. His 13 passages contradict nothing in Catholic theology, but Revelation 1:4 and the several other related passages I have provided sure do contradict Dr. Baker’s man-made theology on this point.
We have no problem whatsoever with the view that God originates and gives all grace. It is our view. We do have a problem, however, with the notion of God alone (excluding any creature participating as His agent) doing so, because it’s not biblical, as has now been demonstrated beyond all counter-argument. This is so often the problem with Protestantism and it’s unbiblical “either/or” approach. It talks about faith alone (while we affirm with them grace alone), and Scripture alone, etc.
It’s the false and unbiblical dichotomies that we reject. We do not reject faith or Scripture. We reject putting them in isolated positions in a way that Holy Scripture never does. We heartily agree with them about the scriptural instances of things being alone: like Jesus alone being our savior, redeemer, and dying for us on the cross, and grace alone.
V. Have I Argued (or Even Claimed) that Protestant Sola Fide Doctrine is Antinomianism?
Sadly, Roman Catholic apologists primarily reject the biblical doctrine of sola fide based on a common misunderstanding of the doctrine. Consequently, salvation by faith alone is rejected based on straw-man arguments constructed by the defenders of Rome. The number one straw-man argument, ad nauseam, used by Roman Catholic apologists, is that the concept of faith alone is teaching, or at least implying, that obedience to God’s law is not important and good works performed after salvation are ignored. The notion that one expresses an intellectual assent to believe the facts of the Gospel without the fruit of obedient commitment to Jesus Christ is not sola fide, but the heresy of Antinomianism.
Much ink has been spilt by Catholic apologists Dave Armstrong, Patrick Madrid, Tim Staples, and Robert Sungenis, in setting up the antinomian “faith alone” straw-man argument based on a misunderstanding of what sola fide really teaches. Historically, the Reformation theologians never taught that the good works of the believer were inconsequential to salvation, but these works are wrought by the supernatural outworking of the indwelling Holy Spirit within the saved believer that shows genuine marks of spiritual regeneration and a salvation already received by faith in Jesus Christ. These good works are not antecedent or concurrent to earn or cooperate with God for salvation, but are the necessary result of that salvation.
It never ceases to amaze me how intelligent (anti-Catholic) scholars like Dr. Baker so often are out to sea when it comes to searching a writer’s material in order to determine what he or she believes on a given topic. Failing to do that, they will almost invariably embarrass themselves, as Dr. Baker does in the present instance (as I will shortly demonstrate).
I’m sure the good doctor is able to navigate websites and do searches. It wasn’t rocket science for him to be able to figure out that I don’t believe at all what he falsely accuses me of believing here. Ironically, he says I utilize antinomianism as a straw man tactic to misrepresent the classic “Reformation” sola fide doctrine. In point of fact, it is he who has created a straw man in making false and outrageous claims about my alleged position on this matter. How ironic, huh?
We know Dr. Baker has at least visited my website once, because he cites an article from it (seen above, regarding Mary Mediatrix). There are many easy ways to search it. He can do a word search on the right sidebar. I typed in “antinomian” there and lo and behold: look what came up first!: Martin Luther: Faith Alone is NOT Lawless Antinomianism. (all caps emphasis in the original title). This alone proves that I am not engaged in warring against straw men. I know what sola fide is (and how Protestants define it), and I know what antinomianism is, and I know that the two are not equivalent at all.
I’ve done extremely extensive research on Protestantism and the “Reformation”, and was an evangelical Protestant myself for thirteen years: including being a cult researcher, street evangelist, campus missionary, and apologist during that time. I know that Luther, the founder of Protestantism, did not teach it. At the end of that paper, we see a related link: Martin Luther: Good Works Prove Authentic Faith.
Without too much concerted effort word-searching (using the drop-down menus on the top) in my various related web pages: Luther, or Lutheranism, or Calvin, or Calvinism, or Justification and Salvation, Dr. Baker could also have easily run across my paper, John Calvin: Good Works Manifest True Saving Faith. This proves that I don’t think Calvin was an antinomian either.
But he was either unable, or — much more likely –, unwilling to do the necessary work of documenting an opponent’s views before proceeding to knock it (or rather, a mere straw man caricature of it down). He vastly underestimated his Catholic opponent (another extremely common mistake these guys make). And so he makes the dumb, clueless “argument” that I and other Catholic apologists are supposedly “setting up the antinomian “faith alone” straw-man argument based on a misunderstanding of what sola fide really teaches.”
It’s his choice if he wants to look like a fool or not. It’s not like it’s the first or last time an anti-Catholic zealot manifested himself as such, in the course of battling against us poor, pathetic papists, like Don Quixote going after the windmill. It’s about as frequent as the number of grains of sand in the Sahara Desert. Lest anyone doubt this for a second, see my Anti-Catholicism and James White web pages for extremely abundant examples.
Photo credit: The Image of the true Catholic Church of Christ, according to John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1563) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]