Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A response to Pastor Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries

Recently over at "Symphony of Scripture" Pastor Ken Silva responded to my criticism of Dave Hunts "A Woman Rides the Beast" with a reference to a article he wrote entitled "THE NON-GOSPEL OF SACRAMENTS AND BAPTISM IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH"

Pastor Silva opens with a quote from Acts 15:1-2, while it is clear he views it as a slap against sacraments, it is really nothing of the sort, if we read on in that chapter to the Council of Jerusalem, we see why Paul disagreed with them and it had nothing to do with sacraments. It had to do with the fact that under the new covenant of Christ, it is no longer necessary to follow the mosaic law.

He moves on to criticize Rick Warren, who is not a Catholic, so we will not go into his "brand" of Christianity.

Next, he states that the Catholic Church has not changed since the Council of Trent anathematized "salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone". Now, let's look at what Trent does say.:

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

That's right, the Church starts out by saying that good works, cannot save. That being said, however, the Council goes on to say:

"CANON XX.-If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema."

This Canon is Trents' response to "salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone", because what the Fathers said at Trent is the logical outcome of that belief, if we believe our faith alone saves us, then the Bible becomes irrelevant, Jesus' teachings to obey his commandments becomes optional. That is my big complaint about that doctrine.

Of course the usual response to this is that if we are truly saved then we cannot help but follow his commandments. Thus we abdicate all personal responsibility for our actions. If we sin, it is because Jesus made us do it (I am not making this up, people have said this to me). If we lie, cheat, steal, it is the Holy Spirit allowing us too. See, the failure in this line of thinking?

He goes on to quote para 1257 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (minus the footnotes), but neglects to explain how if Baptism is not necessary for salvation, why Jesus commands it to be done? (John 3:5, Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:16). For the fun of it? Or, once we are saved, are we free to "pick and choose" which commandments to follow?

He goes on to accurately reproduce the paragraphs on the sacraments and grace. But he does not explain the Catholic belief on Justification. Catholics believe we are justified in Baptism, but at that point we are also being sanctified by the Grace of God. Being justified is just a legal state, we are still unclean, but now we are justified and can have hope of salvation. And, it is in Baptism, we first receive that:
"But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11).

Paul clearly shows a separation between justification and sanctification. In all his letters he is exhorting them to avoid sin, to become closer to God. If he believe that justification alone was enough, he would have felt no need to keep them from apostasy, because they were already saved.

Pastor Silva claims we are justified by faith alone, yet the Bible says:
" See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." (James 2:24). How can a man hold a position that is so clearly contradicted by scripture?

He also claims that good works are the result of salvation. Yet, he and others criticize the Catholics for performing good works to earn our salvation. If we are not saved, how can we perform good works? And, if the unsaved can also perform good works, how can you say that good works can ONLY be performed by those who are saved?

And he states that those who are holy in Christ are "blameless" before God. Now, I searched Ephesians I and I could not find the word "blameless" anywhere. In many places in the NT Paul discusses judgment, and if there is judgment, no one is blameless.

He closes with a anti-catholic quote from the "great reformer" Martin Luther, even though Martin agreed with the Catholic Church on Grace and Baptism:


In these words you must note, in the first place, that here stand God's commandment and institution, lest we doubt that Baptism is divine, not devised nor invented by men. For as truly as I can say, No man has spun the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer out of his head, but they are revealed and given by God Himself, so also I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, lest any one regard it as a trifling matter, like putting on a new red coat. For it is of the greatest importance that we esteem Baptism excellent, glorious, and exalted, for which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is now so full of sects clamoring that Baptism is an external thing, and that external things are of no benefit. But let it be ever so much an external thing here stand God's Word and command which institute, establish, and confirm Baptism. But what God institutes and commands cannot be a vain, but must be a most precious thing, though in appearance it were of less value than a straw. If hitherto people could consider it a great thing when the Pope with his letters and bulls dispensed indulgences and confirmed altars and churches, solely because of the letters and seals, we ought to esteem Baptism much more highly and more precious, because God has commanded it, and, besides, it is performed in His name. For these are the words, Go ye baptize; however, not in your name, but in the name of God.

For to be baptized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore although it is performed by human hands, it is nevertheless truly God's own work. From this fact every one may himself readily infer that it is a far higher work than any work performed by a man or a saint. For what work greater than the work of God can we do?

But here the devil is busy to delude us with false appearances, and lead us away from the work of God to our own works. For there is a much more splendid appearance when a Carthusian does many great and difficult works and we all think much more of that which we do and merit ourselves. But the Scriptures teach thus: Even though we collect in one mass the works of all the monks, however splendidly they may shine, they would not be as noble and good as if God should pick up a straw. Why? Because the person is nobler and better. Here, then, we must not estimate the person according to the works, but the works according to the person, from whom they must derive their nobility. But insane reason will not regard this, and because Baptism does not shine like the works which we do, it is to be esteemed as nothing.

From this now learn a proper understanding of the subject, and how to answer the question what Baptism is, namely thus, that it is not mere ordinary water, but water comprehended in God's Word and command, and sanctified thereby, so that it is nothing else than a divine water; not that the water in itself is nobler than other water, but that God's Word and command are added.

Therefore it is pure wickedness and blasphemy of the devil that now our new spirits, to mock at Baptism, omit from it God's Word and institution, and look upon it in no other way than as water which is taken from the well, and then blather and say: How is a handful of water to help the soul? Aye, my friend, who does not know that water is water if tearing things asunder is what we are after? But how dare you thus interfere with God's order, and tear away the most precious treasure with which God has connected and enclosed it, and which He will not have separated? For the kernel in the water is God's Word or command and the name of God which is a treasure greater and nobler than heaven and earth." (Martin Luther, Larger Catechism, Ch 4)

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