Principles of Comparative Studies

[The following excerpt is taken from John H. Walton’s Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament (Baker Academic, 2006), Chapter 1]

“Ten important principles must be kept in mind when doing comparative
studies:

1. Both similarities and differences must be considered.

2. Similarities may suggest a common cultural heritage or cognitive
environment rather than borrowing.

3. It is not uncommon to find similarities at the surface but differences at the
conceptual level and vice versa.

4. All elements must be understood in their own context as accurately as
possible before cross-cultural comparisons are made (i.e., careful background study must precede comparative study).

5. Proximity in time, geography, and spheres of cultural contact all increase the possibility of interaction leading to influence.

6. A case for literary borrowing requires identification of likely channels of
transmission.

7. The significance of differences between two pieces of literature is
minimized if the works are not the same genre.

8. Similar functions may be performed by different genres in different
cultures.

9. When literary or cultural elements are borrowed they may in turn be
transformed into something quite different by those who borrowed them.

10. A single culture will rarely be monolithic, either in a contemporary cross-
section or in consideration of a passage of time.[16]”

Cultural Dimension of Language and Literature

[The following excerpt is taken from John H. Walton’s Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament (Baker Academic, 2006), Chapter 1]

“When we study an ancient text, we cannot make words mean whatever we want them to, or assume that they meant the same to the ancient audience that they do to a modern audience. Language itself is a cultural convention, and since the Bible and other ancient documents use language to communicate, they are bound to a culture. As interpreters, then, we must adapt to the language/culture matrix of the ancient world as we study the Old Testament. But as P. Michalowski has pointed out, “It is one thing to state banalities about ‘the Other,’ or about the inapplicability of western concepts to non-western modes of thought; it is something quite different actually to step outside one’s frame of reference and attempt a proper analysis.”[9]

When comparative studies are done at the cognitive environment level, trying to understand how people thought about themselves and their world, a broader methodology can be used. For instance, when literary pieces are compared to consider the question of dependency, the burden of proof is appropriately on the researcher to consider the issues of propinquity and transmission—that is, would the peoples involved have come into contact with one another’s literature, and is there a mechanism to transmit said literature from one culture to the other? Literary questions of genre, structure, and context would all be investigated as well as geographical, chronological, and ethnic dimensions.[10] When considering larger cultural concepts or worldviews, however, such demands would not be as stringent, though they could not be ignored altogether. When we see evidence in the biblical text of a three-tiered cosmos, we have only to ask, Does the concept of a three-tiered cosmos exist in the ancient Near East? Once it is ascertained that it does, our task becomes to try to identify how Israel’s perception of the cosmos might have been the same or different from what we find elsewhere. We need not figure out how Israel would have gotten such a concept or from whom they would have “borrowed” it. Borrowing is not the issue, so methodology does not have to address that. Likewise this need not concern whose ideas are derivative. There is simply common ground across the cognitive environment of the cultures of the ancient world.[11]”

The Lord’s Prayer (Part 2)

Verse: Matthew 6:10

A) English Translations

KJV: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. NASB: ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. NLT: May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

B) Greek

ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου,
ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς·

Source: https://www.nestle-aland.com/en/read-na28-online/text/bibeltext/lesen/stelle/50/60001/69999/

Source: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/matthew/6-10.htm Continue reading “The Lord’s Prayer (Part 2)”

God’s Sovereignty in relation to Man’s sinful acts

[The following excerpt is taken from Henry Clarence Thiessen’s Lectures in Systematic Theology (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1979), pp.124-125]

“How then do the sinful acts of men fit into the program of a sovereign God? Does God necessitate sin? Several incidents make it appear that way. God hardened Pharoah’s heart (Exod. 10:27); it was sin for David to number Israel, yet the Lord moved him to do it (2 Sam. 24:1; cf. 1 Chron. 21:1); God gave the sinner up to more sin (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28); he shut up all in disobedience (Rom. 11:32); and, during the tribulation, God will send a deluding influence so that unbelievers will believe a lie (2 Thess. 2:11). If God is not the author of sin (Hab. 1:13; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; 2:16), how can these incidents be explained? How is God related to man’s sinful acts?

This can be answered in four ways. (1) Often God restrains man from the sin which man intends to do. This is called “preventative providence.” God said to Abimelech, “I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her” (Gen. 20:6). David prayed, “Also keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me” (Ps. 19:13; cf. Matt. 6:13). God has promised not to allow the believer to be tempted above what he can bear (1 Cor. 10:13).

(2) God, instead of actively restraining man from doing evil, will sometimes permit sin to take its course. This is called “permissive providence.” In Hosea 4:7, God said, “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.” God “permitted all the nations to go their own ways.” (Acts 14:16; cf. 2 Chron. 32:31; Ps. 81:12; Rom. 1:24, 26, 28).

(3) Further, God uses directive providence. He allows evil but directs the way it goes. Jesus said to Judas, “What  you do, do quickly” (John 13:27). Those involved in the crucifixion of Christ did what God predestined to occur (Acts 2:23; 4:27f.). Man’s intent was evil, but God used this evil intent to accomplish his will. God used the wrath of man to praise him (Ps. 76:10; cf. Isa. 10:5-15).

(4) Finally, God, through restrictive providence, determines the limits to which evil and its effects may go. He said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him” (Job 1:12; cf. 2:6; 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Thess. 2:7; Rev. 20:2f.).

From these considerations it is clear that all evil acts of the creature are under the complete control of God. They can occur only by his permission, and insofar as he permits them. Though they are evil in themselves, he overrules them for good. Thus the wicked conduct of Joseph’s brethren, the obstinacy of Pharaoh, the lust for conquest of the heathen nations that invaded the Holy Land and finally carried the people into captivity, the rejection and crucifixion of Christ, the persecution of the church, and the wars and revolutions among the nations have all been overruled for God’s purpose and glory.”

God alone is good by nature

[The following is an extract from Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae: Volume 2, Existence and Nature of God: 1a. 2-11 (Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp.89-90]

“For to be called ‘good’ a thing must be perfect. Now there is a threefold perfection in things: firstly, they are established in existence; secondly, they possess in addition certain accidents necessary to perfect their activity; and a third perfection comes when they attain some extrinsic goal. Thus the primary perfection of fire lies in existing according to its own substantial form, a secondary perfection consists in heat, lightness, dryness, and so on; and a third perfection is being at rest in its appropriate place.

Now this threefold perfection belongs by nature to no caused thing, but only to God; for he alone exists by nature, and in him there are no added accidents (power, wisdom and the like which are accidental to other things belonging to him by nature, as already noted). Moreover, he is not disposed towards some extrinsic goal, but is himself the ultimate goal of all other things. So it is clear that only God possess every kind of perfection by nature. He alone therefore is by nature good.

Hence: 1. Being one does not involve being perfect, but only being undivided, and things belongs to everything by nature. For the natures of simple things are both undivided and indivisible, and the natures of composite things are at least undivided. So things whilst necessarily one by nature, are not, as we have shown, necessarily good by nature.

2. Although things are good inasmuch as they exist, nevertheless existence is not the nature of any created thing, and so it does not follow that created things are good by nature.

3. The goodness of a created thing is not its nature, but something additional: either its existence, or some added perfection, or some relatedness to a goal. This additional goodness however is said to be good in the same way that it is said to exist. Now it is said to exist as a mode which something exists, not as something having its own mode of existence. And so it is said to be good because things that possess it are good, not because it itself possess some other goodness making it good.”

A Refinery Called Purgatory

Many of us would have heard of Purgatory from pop culture, most notably the Divine Comedy (aka Dante’s Inferno) by Dante Aligheri. Deriving its name from the Latin root word purgare, it means to purify and to remove dirty/impure things. It was one of the main teachings that the Protestant Reformation sought to establish doctrinal stances around.[1]

What is Purgatory

Purgatory is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) as follows:

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.[2]

and

The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.[3]

This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” From the beginning the Church has honoured the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.[4]

As mentioned in another article, the Roman Catholic understanding of justification is not the same as the Protestant understanding of Justification. The Protestant understanding of Justification takes on a more forensic overtone as it builds on the belief of Imputed Righteousness, where the perfect iustitia aliena (alien righteousness) of Jesus Christ is imputed onto the believer at the moment of belief and the believer’s legal standing before God is made right. Conversely, the Roman Catholic understanding of Justification is built on infused righteousness which is seen as the preparation of the believer’s disposition to a sanctifying process where a believer’s righteousness can be enhanced or diminished, rather than a declarative of a believer’s legal standing before God.  Because a believer is infused with saving grace and the righteousness can ebb and flow with the observance (or neglect) of the Sacraments and other works, it stands to reason that at the end of a believer’s life a believer may still have some unrighteousness left from lesser sins.[5] Purgatory is then the final purification to rid the believer of the leftover unrighteousness after which he may enter heaven.

Scriptural Support

For the sake of brevity, the author will only be highlighting the passage most commonly raised by Roman Catholics when defending the doctrine of Purgatory which is 2 Maccabees 12:38-45.

Other verses also commonly raised to defend the doctrine of Purgatory include Matthew 5:26, Matthew 12:32, 1 Corinthians 3:15, Colossians 1:24, and 1 Peter 3:19-20. As these books are all present in the Protestant bible and thus available for self-study, the author will leave these verses out.

Catholic apologist Tim Staples writes on Catholic.com as below:

A Very Good Place to Start

Perhaps the best place to start is with the most overt reference to a “Purgatory” of sorts in the Old Testament. I say a “Purgatory of sorts” because Purgatory is a teaching fully revealed in the New Testament and defined by the Catholic Church. The Old Testament people of God would not have called it “Purgatory,” but they did clearly believe that the sins of the dead could be atoned for by the living as I will now prove. This is a constitutive element of what Catholics call “Purgatory.”

In II Maccabees 12:39-46, we discover Judas Maccabeus and members of his Jewish military forces collecting the bodies of some fallen comrades who had been killed in battle. When they discovered these men were carrying “sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear” (vs. 40), Judas and his companions discerned they had died as a punishment for sin. Therefore, Judas and his men “turned to prayer beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out… He also took up a collection… and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably… Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”[6]

Aside from asserting the non-canonicity of the book of 2 Maccabees, the author would argue against Staples that even within this passage, it does not support the doctrine of Purgatory the way that he writes it in his article and is at best silent on the issue. To establish this point, let us read through the whole passage to understand the context:

2 Maccabees 12 38-45 (NRSV)

38 Then Judas assembled his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom, and kept the sabbath there.

39 On the next day, as had now become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kindred in the sepulchres of their ancestors.

40 Then under the tunic of each one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was the reason these men had fallen.

41 So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden;

42 and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen.

43 He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection.

44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.

45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.

In short, Judas Maccabeus’ army had just defeated the governor of Idumea, Gorgias’ army. Judas was looking through the clothing of his own men that died in the battle and found that they were carrying amulets of the idols of Jamnia and asserted that this was the reason these men were slain in battle. He then collected some money as a sin offering for those that died and is praised by the author of Maccabees for doing so.

Refutation

Upon initial reading of the passage, it would seem that Staples has a case for a proto-Purgatory especially from v.43-45 as the author of Maccabees did imply that Judas prayed and made atonement for the dead. However, this can be refuted with a simple read through with basic hermeneutics.

Let’s read through v.43-45 and highlight the content Staples left out in his article with ellipses.

43 He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection.

44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.

45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.

Though the books of the Hebrew Old Testament were written mainly in Hebrew and Aramaic, the books of the Apocrypha, including 2 Maccabees, were generally written in Greek. The word translated as “For” in v.44 is εἰ in Greek. The Greek εἰ is a Conditional Participle or Conjunction which means that the subsequent serves as an explanation to the notion presented beforehand.[7] In other words, v.44 serves to explain the reason for Judas’ actions in v.43. V.45 then serves as the antithesis to the reason provided in v.44.

We see here the author of Maccabees in v.44-45a explaining the foolishness of Judas’ actions if he did not believe in their resurrection and commending the wisdom of Judas’ actions if he did believe in their resurrection. In other words, the author is providing commentary on Judas’ action and commending the consistency of his actions with his belief regardless of whether it was factual or not, not postulating the veracity of his beliefs. In simpler words, the author of Maccabees is praising Judas for not being a hypocrite rather than telling the readers that his beliefs were correct.

Closing Notes

There are many other passages that serve as antitheses to the doctrine of Purgatory. The author has only addressed one particular passage as it is one commonly referred to when discussing this doctrine.  The author strongly encourages readers to read the book of 2 Maccabees for themselves so that the readers may be spurred to inculcate a Berean spirit and examine for themselves to see if these things are true.[8]

Fides Quarens Intellectum

 

[1] Cf. 95 Theses by Martin Luther; Article XXII of 39 Articles of Religion and other notable works

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church 1030

[3] Catechism of the Catholic Church 1031

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church 1032

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church 1030

[6] Tim Staples, Is Purgatory in the Bible? on Catholic.com

[7] Strong’s Greek Concordance #1487

[8] Acts 17:11

Righteousness: Imputed? Infused? Confused?

Righteousness presents itself as no minor theme that finds itself peppered all over Scripture. When asked what Righteousness is, many Christians find themselves befuddled in attempting to explain this concept especially to our non-Christian friends. It is important to note that other beliefs also have concepts of Righteousness; so when I say many Christians have trouble explaining Righteousness to our non-Christian friends, I mean to explain Righteousness in the Christian context with all its nuances. For example, many religions traditionally associated with the Far East like Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism employ the word Dharma to mean righteous living/practice or truth.[1]

Much can be said on this subject even when narrowed down to within the Christian sphere of understanding, so I will focus this article to an aspect of Righteousness hotly debated in the Christian realm, namely the nature of Righteousness’ relationship to us whether by imputation or infusion. This article is meant to provide some layman understanding of the issue so that further self-study will be made easier.

But before we delve into the matter, it would be best to establish some solid footing in the definition of Righteousness in order to see how it relates to the whole imputation versus infusion debate.

What is Righteousness?

The Greek δɩκαɩοσύνη (dikaiosunē) and Hebrew צדקה (tzedakah) are traditionally translated into English as Righteousness, Justice (or even Charity) depending on the context.[2] In these contexts, Righteousness/ Justice is usually presented and defined along the lines of “fulfilment of an obligation/ requirement/ demand.”

A couple of examples of Righteousness being rendered in the fulfillment sense with brief commentary are listed below:

(All translations are taken from the ESV unless stated otherwise)

Deuteronomy 6:25

And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’

Commentary:

Moses had just given Israel the commandments and statutes which they were supposed to observe when they lived in the Promised Land. Israel would be counted righteous if they were to do and fulfill all that they were commanded to do.

Matthew 3:15

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

 Commentary:

It is the author’s belief that the baptism of Jesus was symbolic of His entry into the priestly ministry, just as priests and high priests had to perform a ritual bath to consecrate themselves to minister in the Tabernacle, fulfilling the commandment of God.[3] Much more can be expounded on this matter but that is not the focus of this article.

Now that we have established the definition of Righteousness as the state of fulfillment of God’s demands, let us now proceed to define and examine each mode by which we receive righteousness, and how it all fits into the understanding of soteriology.

Infused Righteousness

Traditionally associated with the Roman Catholic perspective of justification, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is consistent with the Protestant view that justification is through faith[4] by the grace of God.[5] However, it is the mechanism by which that faith justifies which the two camps differ on. The Catechism states:

The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.[6]

Robert Hooker, a 17th-century theologian writes of the Catholic doctrine of infused righteousness as below:

(Words have been rewritten to reflect 21st century spelling. Word order and grammar remains)

This grace (righteousness) they (Roman Catholics) will have to be applied by infusion, to tend that as the body is warmed by the heat which is in the body, so the soul might be righteous by inherent grace, which grace they make capable of increase; as the body may be more warmed, so the soul more and more justified,…[7]

Lest the author be accused of referring to a non-Catholic for the explanation of Infused Righteousness, below is an excerpt from the Council of Trent:

“Justification is not the mere remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renovation of the inward man through the voluntary reception of grace and gifts of grace; whereby an unjust man becomes just, the enemy a friend, so that he may be an heir according to the hope of eternal life … The only formal cause of justification is the justice (justitia) of God, not that by which he himself is just, but that by which he makes us just, — that namely by which we are gratuitously renewed by him in the spirit of our minds, and are not only reputed, but really are and are denominated just, receiving justice into ourselves each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Spirit imparts to each as He pleases, and, also, according to each one’s own disposition and cooperation . . .”[8]

From Hooker and the Council’s explanation, we can note that the Roman Catholic understanding of infused, justifying faith is that it is seen as the preparation of the believer’s disposition to a sanctifying process where a believer’s righteousness can be enhanced or diminished, rather than a declarative of a believer’s legal standing before God. The source of this ebb and flow of this saving grace thus lies in the observance of sacraments, performance of good works with the proper disposition… or the neglect/ denial thereof as implied by the Council:

If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; – though all (the sacraments) are not necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.[9]

Purgatory

Based on the understanding of Infused Righteousness, the Roman Catholic understanding of Justification which separates the period of change in legal status before God and the change in a believer’s disposition allows for (or dare I say, necessitate) the doctrine of Purgatory. Purgatory is explained in the Catechism as:

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.[10]

and

The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.[11]

To explain further, because a believer is infused with saving grace and the righteousness can ebb and flow with the observance (or neglect) of the Sacraments and other works, it stands to reason that at the end of a believer’s life a believer may still have some unrighteousness left from lesser sins10. Purgatory is then the final purification to rid the believer of the leftover unrighteousness after which he may enter heaven. The doctrine of Purgatory is further expounded here.

Imputed Righteousness

Imputed Righteousness, which is traditionally associated with the Reformed camp, postulates that our justification before God stems not from the inherent righteousness of a believer but from the iustitia aliena (alien righteousness) of Christ.

Believers are thus, according to Luther, righteous on account of the alien righteousness of Christ which is imputed to them – that is, treated as if it were theirs through faith[12]

The Westminster Larger Catechism elucidates the distinction between justification and sanctification in this manner:

“Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification, his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued; the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.” [13]

It is important to note the distinction made in the Reformed camp between justification and sanctification as the making of this distinction forms the main thrust between the divide between the Roman Catholic and Reformed understanding of Justification.

Imputation in the context of Scriptural language means to ascribe the status of righteous i.e to regard someone as having fulfilled the Law, or in other words ‘to justify’. It is in this nuance which the Reformed camp speaks of Christ’s righteousness (Christ fulfilling the Law) being imputed unto the believer. The believer is then looked upon by God as though the believer has fulfilled the Law himself.

Though a believer’s legal status may be right before God, the Apostle Paul rightly points out that this declaration of a believer’s justification in Christ is by no means a license to sin.[14] Sanctification, though distinct from Justification, always follows Justification. Sanctification therefore, in one of many understandings in the Reformed mind, is the continual working towards Holiness in conformity to the character of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.[15]

Much can be said about the nature and mechanism of imputation such as the double-imputation or whether it is only the Passive Obedience of Christ that is imputed. Once again, the author may do so in a future article.

Closing Notes

It is the author’s opinion that the divide between the Roman Catholic and Protestant understanding of Justification can mostly be characterised in one question:

Do the change in a believer’s legal status before God and the change in the believer’s disposition to the will of God come together or separately?

The answer to the above question, be it ‘together’ or ‘separately’, will then lead to one of the two views. As mentioned in the beginning, the aim of this article is to provide a basic framework by which the reader may use to understand the arguments employed by the various camps in their espousing of each doctrine in their own self-study.

The author notes that there is a lack of Scripture quoted in this article employed by both sides in support and against each position. This has been intentionally done so that the readers may be spurred to inculcate a Berean spirit and examine the Scriptures for themselves to see if these things are true [16].

Fides quarens intellectum.

 

[1] Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1.4.xiv

[2] Strong’s Greek Concordance #1343; Strong’s Hebrew Concordance #6666

[3] Exodus 40:12-15; Leviticus 16:4

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church #153

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church #1996

[6] Catechism of the Catholic Church #1999

[7] Hooker, Justification (Works V, 110.11 – 111.7)

[8] Canones Concilli Tridentini; De Justificatione, vii. viii.

[9] Canon IV, The Seventh Session of the Council of Trent

[10] Catechism of the Catholic Church #1030

[11] Catechism of the Catholic Church #1031

[12] McGrath, Reformation Thought: An Introduction pp.126

[13] Westminster Confession, Larger Catechism. Q.77

[14] Romans 6:1-14

[15] Goodwin, The Work of the Holy Ghost, Book VIII pp.390

[16] Acts 17:11

Introduction to Soteriology (Debates)

This article is a follow up from our previous articles, also on an introduction to soteriology, which focuses on:

i) Creeds & Confessions[1]

ii) Books[2]

This article contains links to recorded debates on the doctrine of salvation. Debates are a good way to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a position as the debaters will rebut and cross-examine one another.

Arminianism – Calvinism

Calvinism – Traditionalism

Arminianism – Traditionalism

*None at the time of writing




 

[1] “Introduction to Soteriology (Creeds & Confessions).” LaikosTheologos.com. Laikos Theologos. Accessed October 15, 2019.

https://laikostheologos.com/introduction-to-soteriology/

[2] “Introduction to Soteriology (Books).” LaikosTheologos.com. Laikos Theologos. Accessed October 15, 2019. https://laikostheologos.com/introduction-to-soteriology-books/



The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 10]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Samuel

(pp.91-100)

A) About the author of the chapter:

George Foot Moore “graduated from Yale College in 1872 and from Union Theological Seminary in 1877, in 1878 Moore was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry and until 1883 was pastor of the Putnam Presbyterian Church, Zanesville, Ohio.

He was Hitchcock professor of the Hebrew language and literature at Andover Theological Seminary, 1883–1902. In 1902 he became professor of theology and in 1904 professor of the history of religion at Harvard University.” [1]

[1] https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Foot-Moore

B) Chapter Summary:

“First Samuel shows how the conquest and occupation of central Palestine by the Philistines led to the establishment of a national kingdom under Saul, a Benjamite; narrates the rise of his rival, the Judæan David, and the feud between them, down to the disastrous battle with the Philistines at Mt. Gilboa in which Saul and his gallant sons fell. Second Samuel is the history of David’s reign and the tragedy of his house, the conclusion of which, the intrigue which raised Solomon to the throne and the death of the aged king, is treated as the prelude to Solomon’s reign and carried over into 1 Kings.”[1]

“Chapter 9, in which Saul is a young man in his father’s house, does not tally with c. 14, where he has a grown-up son. The author of this narrative made it up from traditions of diverse origin, some of them more strictly historical, others embellished with legendary traits. In its main features, however, it gives us a trustworthy account of the establishment of the kingdom. In c. 13, the breach with Samuel, vs. 7b-15a (with x. 8 which prepares for it), are not part of the original narrative; c. 15 gives another account of the origin of this breach, which was evidently a standing feature of tradition. In the remaining chapters of 1 Samuel the central interest is the relations of David to Saul. Here also there are not only two main literary sources but evidence of variant traditions underlying the oldest narrative, and of the additions by later editors, sometimes of their conception, sometimes taken from old and good sources.”[2]

“It must suffice to say that the further on we go, the more the older and better of the histories predominates. In 2 Samuel almost the whole is from this source (c. 7 is a notable exception, in the spirit and manner of the seventh century). Abridgment and transposition have brought matters into disorder at some points; but 2 Sam. 9-20 is a well-preserved piece of continuous narrative, of which 1 Kings 1-2 is the sequel. 2 Sam. xxi. 1-14 and c. 24 are from the same source, but must originally have stood at an earlier point in the history; their present position is best explained by supposing that they were once omitted—which their contents make very natural—and subsequently restored from a completer copy, not in their proper connection but in an appendix.”[3]

“The history of Saul and David gave little invitation to a moralizing improvement such as we have found in Judges and shall find again in Kings. Whatever faults those heroes had, a propensity to the worship of heathen gods could not be laid to them. The national uprising against the Philistines was, in fact, a revival of religion. If in times of peace men sought the blessing of the gods of the soil (the Baals) upon their tillage, in war their only reliance was on Jehovah, the god of Israel. Nor was the worship of Jehovah at the village sanctuaries (high places) or upon altars erected for the nonce, illegitimate, even in deuteronomic theory, till God had taken up his sole abode in Solomon’s temple.”[4]

“Its historical value is also very high. The account of David’s later years in 2 Sam. 9-20; 2 Kings 1-2 bears all the marks of contemporary origin. It comes from one who not only knew the large political events of the reign, but was intimately informed about the life of the court, and the scandals, crimes, and intrigues in the king’s household which clouded the end of his glorious career. These things are narrated with an objectivity and impartiality which cannot fail to impress the reader. The author has a high admiration for David, but this does not lead him to gloze over his faults or even his grave sins, nor to disguise the weakness of his rule in his own house which was the cause of so much unhappiness.”[5]

The continuity is, however, only a narrative continuity; historically there are great gaps in it, or, more exactly, the traditions cluster about only a few points, such as the exodus and the invasion of Palestine, and these are embellished with a wealth of legendary and mythical circumstance beneath which the facts are effectually hidden. The nature of this material may be judged from the fact that between Joshua and Eli there are only the episodes of the judges, strung on a chronological string, generalized as experiences of all Israel, and put under a theological judgment—invaluable as pictures of civilization, but as a history of a couple of centuries (the chronology says four) evidently insufficient.”[6]

“This earliest book of history is commonly designated in the Pentateuch and Joshua by the symbol J. It is disputed whether the oldest history of the founding of the kingdom in Samuel should be regarded as a continuation of J. If it were meant thereby to affirm unity of authorship of this strand from Genesis to Samuel, that would be saying much more than the facts warrant; but there is through the whole so noteworthy a congruity of conception and sameness of excellence in style that it is not inappropriate to use for it the one symbol J in the sense of the oldest Judæan history.”[7]

[1] pp.91-92

[2] pp.93-94

[3] pp.94-95

[4] p.95

[5] p.96

[6] p.99

[7] pp.99-100

 

Jewish Theology Systematically and Historically Considered (1918) [Chapter 7]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Torah – The Divine Instruction

(pp.42-47)

A) About the author of the chapter:

Kaufman Kohler “… was educated at the Universities of Munich, Berlin and Leipzig, (1865-69), and received the degree of Ph.D. from the University of Erlangen in 1868.” [1]

“Feb. 26, 1903, he was elected to the presidency of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati.” [2]

[1] https://www.jta.org/1926/01/29/archive/dr-kaufmann-kohler-president-emeritus-of-hebrew-union-college-dies

[2] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9419-kohler-kaufmann

B) Chapter Summary:

“During the Babylonian Exile the prophetic word became the source of comfort and rejuvenation for the Jewish people. Now in its place Ezra the Scribe made the Book of the Law of Moses the pivot about which the entire life of the people was to revolve. By regular readings from it to the assembled worshipers, he made it the source of common instruction.”[1]

“Upon the Pentateuch was built up the divine service of the Synagogue as well as the whole system of communal life, with both its law and ethics.”[2]

“The prophets and other sacred books were looked upon only as means of “opening up” or illustrating the contents of the Torah.  These other parts of the Mikra (“the collection of books for public reading”) were declared to be inferior in holiness, so that, according to the Rabbinical rule, they were not even allowed to be put into the same scroll as the Pentateuch.”[3]

“… neither the number, order, nor the division of the Biblical books was fixed. The Talmud gives 24, Josephus only 22.96 Tradition claims a completely divine origin only for the Pentateuch or Torah, while the rabbis often point out the human element in the other two classes of the Biblical collection.”[4]

“The traditional belief in the divine origin of the Torah includes not only every word, but also the accepted interpretation of each letter, for both written and oral law are ascribed to the revelation to Moses on Mt. Sinai, to be transmitted thence from generation to generation. Whoever denies the divine origin of either the written or the oral law is declared to be an unbeliever who has no share in the world to come, according to the Tannaitic code, and consequently according to Maimonides also.”[5]

“Originally, no doubt, Torah signified the instruction given by the priests on ritual or juridical matters. Out of these decisions arose the written laws (Toroth), which the priesthood in the course of time collected into codes. After a further process of development they appeared as the various books of Moses, which were finally united into the Code or Torah. This Torah was the foundation of the new Judean commonwealth, the “heritage of the congregation of Jacob.”[6]

“Judaism has the two factors, the priest with his regard for the law and the prophet with his ethical teaching; and the Jewish Torah embodies both aspects, law and doctrine. These two elements became more and more correlated, as the different parts of the Pentateuch which embodied them were molded together into the one scroll of the Law. In fact, the prophet Jeremiah, in denouncing the priesthood for its neglect of the principles of justice, and rebuking scathingly the people for their wrongdoing, pointed to the divine law of righteousness as the one which should be written upon the hearts of men.”[7]

“In a still larger sense the Pentateuch as a whole contains priestly law and universal religion intertwined. In it the eternal verities of the Jewish faith, God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and moral government of the world, are conveyed in the historical narratives as an introduction to the law.”[8]

“Thus the Torah as the expression of Judaism was never limited to a mere system of law. At the outset it served as a book of instruction concerning God and the world and became ever richer as a source of knowledge and speculation, because all knowledge from other sources was brought into relation with it through new modes of interpretation. Various systems of philosophy and theology were built upon it. Nay more, the Torah became divine Wisdom itself, the architect of the Creator, the beginning and end of creation.”[9]

“While the term Torah thus received an increasingly comprehensive meaning, the rabbis, as exponents of orthodox Judaism, came to consider the Pentateuch as the only book of revelation, every letter of which emanated directly from God. The other books of the Bible they regarded as due only to the indwelling of the holy spirit, or to the presence of God, the Shekinah. Moreover, they held that changes by the prophets and other sacred writers were anticipated, in essentials, in the Torah itself, and were therefore only its expansions and interpretations. Accordingly, they are frequently quoted as parts of the Torah or as “words of tradition.”[10]

“Orthodox Judaism, then, accepted as a fundamental doctrine the view that both the Mosaic Law and its Rabbinical interpretation were given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai.”[11]

“To them and to us the real Torah is the unwritten moral law which underlies the precepts of both the written law and its oral interpretation. From this point of view, Moses, as the first of the prophets, becomes the first mediator of the divine legislation, and the original Decalogue is seen to be the starting point of a long process of development, from which grew the laws of righteousness and holiness that were to rule the life of Israel and of mankind.”[12]  

[1] p.42

[2] Ibid.

[3] pp.42-43

[4] p.43

[5] Ibid.

[6] p.44

[7] pp.44-45

[8] p.45

[9] Ibid.

[10] pp.45-46

[11] p.46

[12] Ibid.