Skip to comments.Justified by Baptism (fallout from the Beckwith conversion grows)
Posted on 05/09/2007 10:01:17 AM PDT by NYer
Francis Beckwith’s announced return to the Catholic Church has generated an avalanche of invective and revilement from evangelicals. I have been stunned by what I have read. It is clear that in the minds of many the Catholic Church remains the hated Antichrist. To enter into her communion is to abandon the faith of the Apostles and to jeopardize one’s eternal salvation.
But some evangelicals have responded with sobriety and directed their reflections to the important theological differences between Catholicism and evangelicalism. Guy Davies, a Welsh Reformed preacher, identifies justification by faith as the crucial difference between the two traditions:
The Roman teaching on justification is that we are justified by grace at baptism. But this initial justification must be improved by our works. Does this understanding of justification really have greater ‘explanatory power’ than the Protestant view? Where in the New Testament is justification related to baptism? In the teaching of Paul, we are justified by faith apart from works. God’s declaration that we are right with him in Christ cannot be improved upon. The Roman Catholic teaching is not straightforward justification by works, because it is held that we are graciously justified at baptism. But the notion that our justification by grace must be supplemented by works is at best semi-Pelagian. The Catholic teaching downplays the seriousness of sin and calls into question the the freeness of God’s grace. Perhaps the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement (here) has had the effect of blurring the dividing lines between Rome and the Reformation over justification? The new perspective on Paul has had a similar effect.
Davies rightly notes that the Catholic Church teaches that sinners are justified by grace, decisively communicated to the person in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. But he asks, “Where in the New Testament is justification related to baptism?” Here we see the terrible reductionism of sola scriptura at work. Scripture is ripped from the eucharistic life of the Church and becomes a free-floating entity to which the beliefs and practices of the Church are then subjected according to alien hermeneutical criteria. For all within the eucharistic community the intrinsic connection between justification and baptism/Church is so manifest, so obvious, so clear, that no prooftexts from Scripture are needed. To be baptized is to be incorporated into the Church; to be incorporated into the Church is to be made a member of the body of Christ; to be made a member of the body of Christ is to be adopted as a son in the Son and regenerated in the Holy Spirit; to be adopted in sonship and regenerated in the Holy Spirit is to be elevated into the divine life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. St Augustine saw clearly the union of justification and theosis:
It is clear that He calls men gods through their being deified by His grace and not born of His substance. For He justifies, who is just of Himself and not of another; and He deifies, who is God of Himself and not by participation in another. Now He who justifies, Himself deifies, because by justifying He makes sons of God. For to them gave He power to become the sons of God. If we are made sons of God, we are also made gods; but this is by grace of adoption, and not by generation. (Ennar. In Ps. 49.2)
Life in the Church is life in the Holy Trinity, and this simply is our justification. If a person cannot see this when he reads the New Testament, there can be only one response: read it again but this time read it with the Church and her Eucharist. It might also be noted that significant advances along these lines have been made in Lutheran-Orthodox ecumenical discussions (see One with God: Salvation as Deification and Justification by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen).
But the New Testament is hardly silent on the relation of baptism and justification, though the relation between the two may not be as explicit and obvious as our evangelical brethren would like it to be. Peter Leithart notes two passages in particular:
At least twice, Paul makes a direction connection between baptism and justification. Having reminded the Corinthians that they had been the kind of people who do not inherit the kingdom, he goes on to remind them that they are no longer such people: “but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of God” (6:11). Is Paul taking about water baptism when he refers to “washing” or to some spiritual and invisible washing? I believe the former; the phrase “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” echoes the baptismal formulae of Matthew 28 and Acts, and the reference to the Spirit also links with baptismal passages (Acts 2; 1 Cor 12:12-13). This whole passage is in fact embedded in a baptismal formula: “you were washed . . . in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Note too that Paul marks the shift from what the Corinthians “were” to what they “are” by a reference to their baptism. They have become different folk by being baptized. What, though, is the relationship between the baptism and sanctification and justification? The connection here is not absolutely clear, but I suggest that sanctification and justification are two implications of the event of baptism. The pagan Corinthians have been washed-sanctified-justified by their baptism into the name of Jesus and the concommitant action of the Spirit.
Romans 6:7 is another passage where Paul links baptism and justification. He who has died, Paul writes, is “justified from sin.” And when, in context, does one die? “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (vv. 3-4). Baptism into Christ means baptism into death; those who have been baptized have been crucified with Jesus; and those who are dead in and with Jesus have been justified from sin. Here, “justify” carries the connotation of deliverance from the power of sin. Through baptism, we die to our natural solidarity and society with Adam and brought into solidarity with and the society of Jesus.
I cite Leithart because he is a Reformed scholar. Lutheran, Anglican, and Catholic testimony could be quickly produced, but would also be just as quickly dismissed by evangelicals. Having recently re-read Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, I truly wonder how anyone can miss the union of justification and baptism. Do evangelicals stop at Roman 4:25? How can they not see that Paul’s discussion of justification in the first four chapters must be interpreted in light of Paul’s subsequent discussion of the death and resurrection of the believer in baptism and his rebirth in the Holy Spirit? They do not see, because they are reading their Bible through evangelical spectacles. There is a blindness that only the healing of Eucharist and the authentic teaching of the Church can cure.
In the conclusion of his short article, Leithart makes a turn which Martin Luther would have thoroughly approved:
There is a key difference between the Word declared in the gospel, and the declaration effected by baptism. The Word offers the favor of God generally; baptism declares that God favors me in particular. If baptism is not the public declaration of justification, where does that public declaration take place? Is it ever heard on earth, about me in particular? Is it heard anywhere but in my heart? … It appears to me that justification by faith and forensic justification are difficult to maintain apart from a strong view of baptismal efficacy, without saying that in baptism God Himself says something about me in particular.
I would want to significantly expand the relation between justification and baptism (Leithart would also, I’m sure), but this is a good place to begin. As soon as one sees the intrinsic connection between justification and baptism, the New Testament begins to read very differently. Perhaps Dr Beckwith had this in mind when he wrote on his blog: “Even though I also believe that the Reformed view is biblically and historically defensible, I think the Catholic view has more explanatory power to account for both all the biblical texts on justification as well as the churchs historical understanding of salvation prior to the Reformation all the way back to the ancient church of the first few centuries.”
All who take up the great commission have that apostolic authority by virtue of having taken up that commission. In short, all of the body of Christ have it. If you don't have it, get it!
Where did Trent curse anyone to hell?
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editor-surveyor says (regarding Apostolic Authority):I ask, why then did the Apostles get selected as a body by Our Lord and why, when they were diminished by the treachery of Judas did they select ONE to fill that place? Why not simply assume (as you have) that ALL baptized in Christ have equal authority? What odd reading of Scripture puts you on the same plane as St. Peter?All who take up the great commission have that apostolic authority by virtue of having taken up that commission. In short, all of the body of Christ have it. If you don't have it, get it!
He is unsaved because he does not agree with you?
I saw an interesting interview on “The Journey Home”, with a former Baptist. She said that after she read the writings of the early church fathers (those that had contact with the apostles), she realized that “she had been robbed”, and regretted that she had lost so much valuable time missing out on Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
She also said that her family and her best friend turned on her and that caused her great anguish; it was painful to watch.
It’s so sad that there is so much animosity between Christians, the only one who gains by this is the devil.
I assume only what the Lord himself said, and the fruit of his apostles demonstrate daily.
That is the original meaning of anathema
No because he is unsaved because he is looking to his law keeping and works and a church to be saved.
Rom 9:32 Wherefore? Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
Tts 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
ahem you may want to visit the word of God
Jhn 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Jhn 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Jhn 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Jhn 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
Jhn 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Jhn 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
Jhn 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins.
Jhn 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment::9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Jhn 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Act 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses
Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
It all depends on who we got in trade. :-)
I have a church full of former Catholics that feel they were misled and deceived by the Catholic church ..
I assume only what the Lord himself said, and the fruit of his apostles demonstrate daily.Where did Our Lord say that EVERYONE was an Apostle and had Apostolic Authority?
All four of them, right? As opposed to the more than one BILLION who hold dear the True Church.
So? What was the meaning the Council intended? The Church does not ever “damn” anyone to hell.
LOL, Actually we have as many at our services on Sundays as most local Catholic churches do.
How is it that if there is all that comfort in the Catholic church under threat of going to hell 75% of Catholics still do not go to church
Sure they do. Read trent.
I have, they don’t. But you sure do, why?
Whenever he spoke, he spoke to all of us, and Paul reiterated all of it in his epistles, where he was always speaking to the church, not to the original disciples. The power of the Holy Spirit is working just as much today as at Pentecost.
So you deny the Apostles Creed?