Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word "apologetics" derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense.

Please help convince me to not convert to Catholicism...

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  • Please help convince me to not convert to Catholicism...

    Hi, my name is James. I hope this is an appropriate use of the forum and not in violation of any etiquette or rules. If not, I apologize.
    I'm posting to a few different forums in the hope/prayer that people will share with others and help me in my journey as I navigate some questions I have about Protestantism v. Catholicism. I'm hoping to pursue that journey here:

    In Limbo – a Protestant foray into Catholicism … an open invitation to observe or dialogue.

    Grace and Peace,
    James

  • #2
    Originally posted by fivepointer View Post
    Hi, my name is James. I hope this is an appropriate use of the forum and not in violation of any etiquette or rules. If not, I apologize.
    I'm posting to a few different forums in the hope/prayer that people will share with others and help me in my journey as I navigate some questions I have about Protestantism v. Catholicism. I'm hoping to pursue that journey here:

    In Limbo – a Protestant foray into Catholicism … an open invitation to observe or dialogue.

    Grace and Peace,
    James
    Hi James,

    Curious as to which Presbyterian church you belong? For example, the OPC, PCA, or PCUSA?

    God bless,
    William
    Comment>

    • #3
      Hi William,

      I am currently attending a Baptist church, but have previously been a member in the PCA for several years. :)
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by fivepointer View Post
        Hi William,

        I am currently attending a Baptist church, but have previously been a member in the PCA for several years. :)
        What is your experience there? Are you finding yourself doubting your Reformed/Protestant roots because of what is being taught from the Pulpit in the Baptist church?

        I'm also having an issue knowing where to begin. Your blog wasn't very helpful in determining your current depth of theological knowledge. I guess we should start with the Five Solae which "Reformed" encompasses. Have you any objections to the Five Solae? Here they are for your reference in historical context:

        The “five solas” is a term used to designate five great foundational rallying cries of the Protestant reformers. They are as follows: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory).

        These “five solas” were developed in response to specific perversions of the truth that were taught by the corrupt Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Church taught that the foundation for faith and practice was a combination of the scriptures, sacred tradition, and the teachings of the magisterium and the pope; but the Reformers said, “No, our foundation is sola scriptura”. The Catholic Church taught that we are saved through a combination of God's grace, the merits that we accumulate through penance and good works, and the superfluity of merits that the saints before us accumulated; the reformers responded, “sola gratia”. The Catholic Church taught that we are justified by faith and the works that we produce, which the righteousness that God infuses in us through faith brings about. The reformers responded, “No, we are justified by faith alone, which lays hold of the alien righteousness of Christ that God freely credits to the account of those who believe”. The Catholic Church taught that we are saved by the merits of Christ and the saints, and that we approach God through Christ, the saints, and Mary, who all pray and intercede for us. The Reformers responded, “No, we are saved by the merits of Christ Alone, and we come to God through Christ Alone”. The Catholic Church adhered to what Martin Luther called the “theology of glory” (in opposition to the “theology of the cross”), in which the glory for a sinner's salvation could be attributed partly to Christ, partly to Mary and the saints, and partly to the sinner himself. The reformers responded, “No, the only true gospel is that which gives all glory to God alone, as is taught in the scriptures.”
        You said, in your blog, there's a ten percent chance you'd convert to Catholicism. That just seems kinda high (anything more than zero) from someone that understands the Reformed position. Especially a 5 Point Calvinist. If you could explain or list some questions, that probably would help others engage your thread because as is now it is too open ended. Is there any one point of Calvinism that is troubling?

        As for attending the Baptist church, they are a particular group (if Reformed leaning). Does your congregation even consider themselves Protestant? The Baptist I have met online usually do not follow the Five Solae (they usually don't even know what that means), and some even reject the Nicene Creed because they can't get past the fact that we profess unity to the "catholic" church.

        God bless,
        William
        Comment>

        • #5
          Hi William,

          My current church considers itself Reformed Baptist, and embrace all 5 solas as well as the Nicene Creed. Solid church overall.

          My background: very strong Protestant/Calvinist. I've studied classic reformers as well as more recent. Have a strong leaning toward theonomy and presuppositional apologetics. I currently wouldn't categorize myself as having any significant issues or doubts around any of the 5 solas, Calvinist soteriology, etc.

          What began as me attempting to "bring back" a now Catholic friend has evolved into an increasing "respect," for lack of a better word, for some of their apologetical arguments such as purgatory, prayer to saints, etc. I have not yet am beginning to start a deep dive into justification.
          Comment>

          • #6
            Originally posted by fivepointer View Post
            Hi William,

            My current church considers itself Reformed Baptist, and embrace all 5 solas as well as the Nicene Creed. Solid church overall.

            My background: very strong Protestant/Calvinist. I've studied classic reformers as well as more recent. Have a strong leaning toward theonomy and presuppositional apologetics. I currently wouldn't categorize myself as having any significant issues or doubts around any of the 5 solas, Calvinist soteriology, etc.

            What began as me attempting to "bring back" a now Catholic friend has evolved into an increasing "respect," for lack of a better word, for some of their apologetical arguments such as purgatory, prayer to saints, etc. I have not yet am beginning to start a deep dive into justification.
            That added information helps tremendously. If you have any specific questions to help you in your apologetics feel free to ask. I'm sure other members will jump in and help. Justification is pivotal to the Protestant Reformation, and was responsible for Martin Luther's conversion, that is, Romans 1:17.

            I dunno want kind of commentary you have at your disposal, but please feel free to ask: For example, on Romans 1:17 from John Calvin and Matthew Henry (Reformed/Calvinist). What I especially like about Calvin is he usually addresses the common positions of the day and then addresses them himself from an exegetical standpoint:

            John Calvin:

            For (39) the righteousness of God, etc. This is an explanation and a confirmation of the preceding clause — that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. For if we seek salvation, that is, life with God, righteousness must be first sought, by which being reconciled to him, we may, through him being propitious to us, obtain that life which consists only in his favor; for, in order to be loved by God, we must first become righteous, since he regards unrighteousness with hatred. He therefore intimates, that we cannot obtain salvation otherwise than from the gospel, since nowhere else does God reveal to us his righteousness, which alone delivers us from perdition. Now this righteousness, which is the groundwork of our salvation, is revealed in the gospel: hence the gospel is said to be the power of God unto salvation. Thus he reasons from the cause to the effect.

            Notice further, how extraordinary and valuable a treasure does God bestow on us through the gospel, even the communication of his own righteousness. I take the righteousness of God to mean, that which is approved before his tribunal; (40) as that, on the contrary, is usually called the righteousness of men, which is by men counted and supposed to be righteousness, though it be only vapor. Paul, however, I doubt not, alludes to the many prophecies in which the Spirit makes known everywhere the righteousness of God in the future kingdom of Christ.

            Some explain it as the righteousness which is freely given us by God: and I indeed confess that the words will bear this sense; for God justifies us by the gospel, and thus saves us: yet the former view seems to me more suitable, though it is not what I make much of. Of greater moment is what some think, that this righteousness does not only consist in the free remission of sins, but also, in part, includes the grace of regeneration. But I consider, that we are restored to life because God freely reconciles us to himself, as we shall hereafter show in its proper place.

            But instead of the expression he used before, “to every one who believeth,” he says now, from faith; for righteousness is offered by the gospel, and is received by faith. And he adds, to faith: for as our faith makes progress, and as it advances in knowledge, so the righteousness of God increases in us at the same time, and the possession of it is in a manner confirmed. When at first we taste the gospel, we indeed see God’s smiling countenance turned towards us, but at a distance: the more the knowledge of true religion grows in us, by coming as it were nearer, we behold God’s favor more clearly and more familiarly. What some think, that there is here an implied comparison between the Old and New Testament, is more refined than well-founded; for Paul does not here compare the Fathers who lived under the law with us, but points out the daily progress that is made by every one of the faithful.

            As it is written, etc. By the authority of the Prophet Habakkuk he proves the righteousness of faith; for he, predicting the overthrow of the proud, adds this — that the life of the righteous consists in faith. Now we live not before God, except through righteousness: it then follows, that our righteousness is obtained by faith; and the verb being future, designates the real perpetuity of that life of which he speaks; as though he had said, — that it would not be momentary, but continue forever. For even the ungodly swell with the false notion of having life; but when they say, “Peace and safety,” a sudden destruction comes upon them, (1Th_5:3.) It is therefore a shadow, which endures only for a moment. Faith alone is that which secures the perpetuity of life; and whence is this, except that it leads us to God, and makes our life to depend on him? For Paul would not have aptly quoted this testimony had not the meaning of the Prophet been, that we then only stand, when by faith we recumb on God: and he has not certainly ascribed life to the faith of the godly, but in as far as they, having renounced the arrogance of the world, resign themselves to the protection of God alone. (41)

            He does not indeed professedly handle this subject; and hence he makes no mention of gratuitous justification: but it is sufficiently evident from the nature of faith, that this testimony is rightly applied to the present subject. Besides, we necessarily gather from his reasoning, that there is a mutual connection between faith and the gospel: for as the just is said to live by faith, he concludes that this life is received by the gospel.
            We have now the principal point or the main hinge of the first part of this Epistle, — that we are justified by faith through the mercy of God alone. We have not this, indeed as yet distinctly expressed by Paul; but from his own words it will hereafter be made very clear — that the righteousness, which is grounded on faith, depends entirely on the mercy of God.

            (39) “The causative, γὰρ, indicates a connection with the preceding, that the gospel is the power of God: the reason is, because by the gospel is revealed the righteousness of God, that is, made known by it is a way of righteousness and of obtaining life before God, which neither the law, nor philosophy, nor any other doctrine, was able to show.” — [Pareus ]

            (40) “The righteousness of God,” δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, has been the occasion of much toil to critics, but without reason: the very context is sufficient to show its meaning, it being what the gospel reveals, and what the gospel reveals is abundantly known from other passages. Whether we saw, it is the righteousness which is approved of God, as [Calvin ] says, or provided by God, or contrived by God, or imputed by God, the meaning does not materially differ, and indeed all these things, as it is evident from Scripture, are true respecting it.

            There is more difficulty connected with the following words, ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν. The view which [Calvin ] gives was adopted by some of the Fathers, such as [Theophylact ] and [Clemens Alexandrinus ]; and it is that of [Melancthon ], [Beza ], [Scaliger ], [Locke ], and many others. From [Poole ] we find that [Chrysostom ] gave this exposition, “From the obscure and inchoate faith of the Old Testament to the clear and full faith of the New;” and that [Ambrose ] ’s exposition was the following, “From the faith or fidelity of God who promises to the faith of him who believes.” But in all these views there is not that which comports with the context, nor the construction very intelligible-”revealed from faith,” What can it mean? To render the passage intelligibly, ἐκ πίστεως must be connected with δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, as suggested by [Hammond ], and followed by [Doddridge ] and [Macknight ]. Then it would be, “The righteousness of God by faith or, which is by faith:” this is revealed in the gospel “to faith,” that is, in order that it may be believed; which is often the force ofεἰς before a noun; as, εἰς τὴν ἀνομίαν — in order to do wickedness; or, εἰς ἁγιασμόν in order to practice holiness, Rom_6:19 [Chalmers ], [Stuart ], [Barnes ], and [Haldane ] take this view. The verse may be thus rendered, —
            For the righteousness of God by faith is in it revealed in order to be believed, as it is written, “The just shall by faith live.” The same truth is conveyed in Rom_3:22; and similar phraseology is found in Phi_3:9.
            [Barnes ] seems fully to express the import of the passage in these words, “God’s plan of justifying men is revealed in the gospel, which plan is by faith, and the benefits of which plan shall be extended to all that have faith or that believe.” — Ed.

            (41) Here is an instance in which Paul quotes the Old Testament, [Hab_2:4 ] neither exactly from the Hebrew nor the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “the just, — by his faith shall he live,” וצדיק באמונתו היה : and the Septuagint, turns “his” into “my,” ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως μοῦ ζήσεται — “The just shall by my faith live,” — “by my faith,” that is, according to the tenor of the passage, “by faith in me.” The passage is quoted by him twice besides, in Gal_3:11, and in Heb_10:38, but exactly in the same words, without the pronoun “his” or “my.” His object in this, as in some similar instances, was to state the general truth contained in the passage, and not to give a strictly verbal quotation. — Ed.
            Matthew Henry:

            Paul here enters upon a large discourse of justification, in the latter part of this chapter laying down his thesis, and, in order to the proof of it, describing the deplorable condition of the Gentile world. His transition is very handsome, and like an orator: he was ready to preach the gospel at Rome, though a place where the gospel was run down by those that called themselves the wits; for, saith he, I am not ashamed of it, Rom_1:16. There is a great deal in the gospel which such a man as Paul might be tempted to be ashamed of, especially that he whose gospel it is was a man hanged upon a tree, that the doctrine of it was plain, had little in it to set it off among scholars, the professors of it were mean and despised, and every where spoken against; yet Paul was not ashamed to own it. I reckon him a Christian indeed that is neither ashamed of the gospel nor a shame to it. The reason of this bold profession, taken from the nature and excellency of the gospel, introduces his dissertation.

            I. The proposition, Rom_1:16, Rom_1:17. The excellency of the gospel lies in this, that it reveals to us,

            1. The salvation of believers as the end: It is the power of God unto salvation. Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, how mean and contemptible soever it may appear to a carnal eye; for the power of God works by it the salvation of all that believe; it shows us the way of salvation (Act_16:17), and is the great charter by which salvation is conveyed and made over to us. But, (1.) It is through the power of God; without that power the gospel is but a dead letter; the revelation of the gospel is the revelation of the arm of the Lord (Isa_53:1), as power went along with the word of Christ to heal diseases. (2.) It is to those, and those only, that believe. Believing interests us in the gospel salvation; to others it is hidden. The medicine prepared will not cure the patient if it be not taken. - To the Jew first. The lost sheep of the house of Israel had the first offer made them, both by Christ and his apostles. You first (Act_3:26), but upon their refusal the apostles turned to the Gentiles, Act_13:46. Jews and Gentiles now stand upon the same level, both equally miserable without a Saviour, and both equally welcome to the Saviour, Col_3:11. Such doctrine as this was surprising to the Jews, who had hitherto been the peculiar people, and had looked with scorn upon the Gentile world; but the long-expected Messiah proves a light to enlighten the Gentiles, as well as the glory of his people Israel.

            2. The justification of believers as the way (Rom_1:17): For therein, that is, in this gospel, which Paul so much triumphs in, is the righteousness of God revealed. Our misery and ruin being the product and consequent of our iniquity, that which will show us the way of salvation must needs show us the way of justification, and this the gospel does. The gospel makes known a righteousness. While God is a just and holy God, and we are guilty sinners, it is necessary we should have a righteousness wherein to appear before him; and, blessed be God, there is such a righteousness brought in by Messiah the prince (Dan_9:24) and revealed in the gospel; a righteousness, that is, a gracious method of reconciliation and acceptance, notwithstanding the guilt of our sins. This evangelical righteousness, (1.) Is called the righteousness of God; it is of God's appointing, of God's approving and accepting. It is so called to cut off all pretensions to a righteousness resulting from the merit of our own works. It is the righteousness of Christ, who is God, resulting from a satisfaction of infinite value. (2.) It is said to be from faith to faith, from the faithfulness of God revealing to the faith of man receiving (so some); from the faith of dependence upon God, and dealing with him immediately, as Adam before the fall, to the faith of dependence upon a Mediator, and so dealing with God (so others); from the first faith, by which we are put into a justified state, to after faith, by which we live, and are continued in that state: and the faith that justifies us is no less than our taking Christ for our Saviour, and becoming true Christians, according to the tenour of the baptismal covenant; from faith engrafting us into Christ, to faith deriving virtue from him as our root: both implied in the next words, The just shall live by faith. Just by faith, there is faith justifying us; live by faith, there is faith maintaining us; and so there is a righteousness from faith to faith. Faith is all in all, both in the beginning and progress of a Christian life. It is not from faith to works, as if faith put us into a justified state, and then works preserved and maintained us in it, but it is all along from faith to faith, as 2Co_3:18, from glory to glory; it is increasing, continuing, persevering faith, faith pressing forward, and getting ground of unbelief. To show that this is no novel upstart doctrine, he quotes for it that famous scripture in the Old Testament, so often mentioned in the New (Hab_2:4): The just shall live by faith. Being justified by faith he shall live by it both the life of grace and of glory. The prophet there had placed himself upon the watch-tower, expecting some extraordinary discoveries (Rom_1:1), and the discovery was of the certainty of the appearance of the promised Messiah in the fulness of time, not withstanding seeming delays. This is there called the vision, by way of eminence, as elsewhere the promise; and while that time is coming, as well as when it has come, the just shall live by faith. Thus is the evangelical righteousness from faith to faith - from Old Testament faith in a Christ to come to New Testament faith in a Christ already come.

            II. The proof of this proposition, that both Jews and Gentiles stand in need of a righteousness wherein to appear before God, and that neither the one nor the other have nay of their own to plead. Justification must be either by faith or works. It cannot be by works, which he proves at large by describing the works both of Jews and Gentiles; and therefore he concludes it must be by faith, Rom_3:20, Rom_3:28. The apostle, like a skilful surgeon, before he applies the plaster, searches the wound - endeavours first to convince of guilt and wrath, and then to show the way of salvation. This makes the gospel the more welcome. We must first see the righteousness of God condemning, and then the righteousness of God justifying will appear worthy of all acceptation. In general (Rom_1:18), the wrath of God is revealed. The light of nature and the light of the law reveal the wrath of God from sin to sin. It is well for us that the gospel reveals the justifying righteousness of God from faith to faith. The antithesis is observable. Here is,

            1. The sinfulness of man described; he reduceth it to two heads, ungodliness and unrighteousness; ungodliness against the laws of the first table, unrighteousness against those of the second.
            2. The cause of that sinfulness, and that is, holding the truth in unrighteousness. Some communes notitae, some ideas they had of the being of God, and of the difference of good and evil; but they held them in unrighteousness, that is, they knew and professed them in a consistency with their wicked courses. They held the truth as a captive or prisoner, that it should not influence them, as otherwise it would. An unrighteous wicked heart is the dungeon in which many a good truth is detained and buried. Holding fast the form of sound words in faith and love is the root of all religion (2Ti_1:13), but holding it fast in unrighteousness is the root of all sin.
            3. The displeasure of God against it: The wrath of God is revealed from heaven; not only in the written word, which is given by inspiration of God (the Gentiles had not that), but in the providences of God, his judgments executed upon sinners, which do not spring out of the dust, or fall out by chance, nor are they to be ascribed to second causes, but they are a revelation from heaven. Or wrath from heaven is revealed; it is not the wrath of a man like ourselves, but wrath from heaven, therefore the more terrible and the more unavoidable.
            God bless,
            William

            P.S. Glad to have you aboard Christforums!
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