Assurance in Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Biblical Christianity

 

In Kaddish and Purgatory, I compared Pope John XXIII with Ben Zakkai, the founder of modern Judaism.

Here is the diary entry of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (his original name) of 22 Sept 1898, when he was 18 years old and studying at the Seminary of Bergamo.

“This evening, when I thought about it seriously, the tears came to my eyes. (John was anxious about the health of a fellow seminarian that was very ill). I imagined myself on that sick bed and I wondered how it would go with me if I were to be judged in this very moment. I should deserve to go to hell, but I hope I shall not be sent there. In any case I am sure I ought to be sent to purgatory. Yet the mere thought of purgatory makes me shudder. What then will become of me? Oh poor me, how wretched I am!”

Here is Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, founder of rabbinic Judaism’s  view:

” I’m about to meet Ha Shem, God , Blessed be his name, and before me there are two roads, one leading to Paradise and one leading to Gehenna; one leading to Heaven and one leading to Hell, and I do not know to what road Ha Shem will sentence me” (Rabbi ben Zakkai). This view is also the Muslim view.

Jews and Roman Catholics believe that their good deeds can earn merit for themselves and for the departed soul, which will shorten the time spent in purgatory (the Roman Catholic view) or the time spent in Gehenna or at a lower level of heaven (the pious Jewish view). They can, however  never be sure, because they feel that it would be pride to presume on God’s mercy. Unblessed assurance. How different is the Christian biblical view!

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him” (Romans 5:7); “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew (foreloved) he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified ” (Romans 8:28-30).

 

Herbert Butterfield – Christianity and history. Fontana book, 1949.

p. 27 “There exists in most historical writing…an appearance of definitiveness and finality which is an optical illusion…”. The history lacks fibre.

p. 28 “How much more easy it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the most excellent trained historian to repeat a piece of gossip or an anecdote at the dinner table without adding a little varnish…”

If this is true, how can one trust the written historical record? And the written historical record of the Bible? Is it harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle without the most competent recorder of biblical history to write what God has revealed without adding a wee dram of godsip.

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13 thoughts on “Assurance in Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Biblical Christianity

  1. Unfortunately you misunderstand what the Catholic Church teaches. The Catholic Church has official written teaching, which you can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (available online). I already wrote side by side comparison between Catholic and what you call as “Biblical Christianity” on the issue of Justification. You can read it at
    http://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/223-2/
    Catholics do NOT believe we merit heaven through our works in the same way like workers merit their salary through their works. Please read the following post:
    http://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/merits-in-catholicism/

    • Hello Vivator. I read your first reference on justification. Here is something you said. The CAPITALS are mine:

      “Grace is favour, the free and undeserved help [GOD HELPS YOU TO HELP HIM SAVE YOU, BECAUSE ACCORDING TO THE CC, THAT’S HOW GOD WANTS IT TO BE] that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons (John 1:12, Romans 8:16), partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and of eternal life. Through-out our (on-going process) Justification God always takes the initiative to save us [BUT THE REST IS UP TO US].  His Grace will move [HELPS] us to believe in Christ as Lord and Saviour, as well as [HELPS US] to obey His commandment “[16]

      Here isyour NOTE 16 on the COUNCIL OF ORANGE – CANON 5

      (Your emphasis)
      If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism — if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers. Council of Orange (529 AD).

      There is also CANON 4, which you didn’t mention:

      CANON 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

      Here is the CC commentary on Canon 4

      “Again, this is an example of prevenient grace given prior to our cooperation with subsequent grace. Pelagius considered that the free will could pray and could desire that God cleanse us from sin prior to grace. The Council taught that grace is first; that is what prevenient grace means.”

      MY QUESTION:
      Do you (that is, the CC) say that the Father gives every human being “prevenient” grace, that is, the desire to come/believe in Christ, but that only those who cooperate with the Father come to Christ? Is that what you understand by “No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day” (John 6:44)?

      • To answer your question. Yes God gives every human what you call as prevenient grace. I understand you have problem with that because, if I am not wrong, you follow Calvinist view, which is monergist in nature, i.e His Grace does not need our cooperation and is irressitible..
        First, there is no problem with John 6:44 in Catholicism – God draw us first and we respond to His initiative, i.e. we cannot take the initiative to come to God using our own freewill.
        Now the problem with monergism is it inevitably leads to double predestination, i.e God chose from eternity those He wants to save – those chosen one can neither resist nor cooperate with His grace, while the rest will end up in hell. Unfortunately this goes flatly against Scripture in 1 Cor 15:22 and Titus 2:11.

  2. Vivator
    You made various points. Let me return to “No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw HIM; and I will raise HIM up in the last day” (John 6:44)?

    In your view, are the two “hims” referring to the same person? If so, what you call God’s
    “prevenient” grace WILL (with no exceptions) raise every human being up “on the last day.”
    In your (and the CC’s) scheme, “raise up on the last day” refers to every human being. But you (and the CC and Methodists and Anglicans; that is, all synergists ) believe that man can choose to believe in Christ one day and not believe (what all Protestants call “being saved”) the next day; as many times as he chooses. The only conclusion must be that for synergists, “raise him up on the last day” must refer to believers as well as non-believers, where the former is raised up to eternal life and the latter to eternal damnation. But this cannot be right because a few verses earlier in the same chapter, we read:
    6:40 It is my Father’s will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and that I should raise that person up on the last day.

    About Titus 2:11 (a favourite Arminian/Synergist verse):
    “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.”

    To cite what should be trite to you and me, whenever you see a “for,” you need to ask what the “for” is there for.
    If you read the preceding verses you will see that “all people/men” refers to all people without distinction – such as young men, old men, young women, old women, slaves – and not to all people without exception.

    You’re familiar with Romans 9:
    As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
    [14] What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! [15] For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” [16] So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy (Romans 9:13-16 ESV).

    The Reformed position, as you know, is that man is totally free to follow the inclination of his heart, which, as you also know, is not to choose Jesus Christ. You could probably counter: “Ah but the above passage is only saying that “prevenient” grace doesn’t depend on the will of man.” Then I will definitely come back and ask: where does the text – or anywhere in the Bible – distinguish between “prevenient” and “saving” grace? Another thing that should kill that distinction dead is “I will have mercy on whom I want to have mercy.” Now, if you say that Romans 9 is only about “Israel,” I will cry: “that’s not fair,” which will give you every right to rebuke me: “Who are you to talk about to God?”

    http://goshareyourfaith.wordpress.com/resources/reformed-doctrine/the-arminian-understanding-of-titus-211-refuted/

  3. Your argument is weak. In John 6:44 it does NOT say God will raise every human on the last day – you tried to pull me in other direction. That verses says that we cannot come to God by own will, the initiative always belongs to God. As for Titus 2:11 you simply copied what Calvin and Berkhof wrote. You wrote nothing about 1 Cor 15:22 – is it because even Calvin skipped this verse in his commentary of 1 Cor? Romans 9 is favourite verse of Calvinists. Scripture will not contradict itself. Your interpretation of Romans 9 makes it contradict 1 Cor 15:22 and even Romans 5:18. From Scripture we know that God gives His grace in abundance to the Elect (Eph 1:7-8) – yet this does not mean the non Elect or the Reprobate (like Esau) does not receive any grace – they do, which they pervert (Jude 4). We cannot question God why He gives His grace in abundance only to the Elect and not to the Reprobate – it is His right to decide so, thus He has mercy to whom He will. Yet Catholics and other synergists believe now matter how little grace God gives to Reprobate it is sufficient for him/her to be saved – the Reprobate are ultimately responsible for their damnation. In contrast in Calvinism it is God who wants them to end up in hell.

    • Vivator, with regard to John 6:44, you said: “Your argument is weak. In John 6:44 it does NOT say God will raise every human on the last day – you tried to pull me in other direction. That verses says that we cannot come to God by own will, the initiative” always belongs to God.”

      Vivator, let me try to be clearer about the direction the Bible indicates. Here is Jn 6:44 again:
      “No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw HIM; and I will raise HIM up in the last day” (John 6:44).

      I, of course, agree with you that God doesn’t raise every human on the last day. The meaning of “raise” in 6:44 can obviously only refer to those whom Christ will raise to eternal LIFE. JN 6:44 says clearly that the drawing of the Father CAUSES the coming to (believing in ) Christ. He whom the Father draws will (CERTAINLY) come. Jesus then says: and I will raise him (the person the Father draws) up in the last day.” So, all those who come to the Christ are those who were INITIALLY drawn by the Father. AND, ALL those that come will be raised up on the last day.

      Jn 6:40 says:

      “It is my Father’s will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and that I should raise that person up on the last day.”

      Those who see (6:40) are those who come (6:44). And those who see/come will be raised to eternal life (6:40,44). The “world” doesn’t see/come, and that is why Jesus doesn’t pray for the “world,” but only those (the elect) that the Father has given Him (John 17).

      You also said in connection with Romans 9, “We cannot question God why He gives His grace in abundance only to the Elect and not to the Reprobate – it is His right to decide so, thus He has mercy to whom He will.” Are you saying that God elects those to whom he will give abundant grace IN ORDER TO enable them to come to Him (as is clear in Jn 6:40,44)? Or are you saying that God foreknows who will ULTIMATELY come to Him of their own free will, and for this reason gives them abundant grace to come to Him. If you are saying the latter, then “elect” is not the right term to use, because “election” in the Bible does not have the same meaning as a political election, where the one thought most worthy gets the vote (more grace). This is how “election” is used in the NT:

      “No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw (ELECTS) him; and I will raise him (the same person) up in the last day” (John 6:44).

      Also important in 6:44, once you come you will never leave. In other words “apostasy” can not mean that once the Father has drawn you, and you have come, that you will leave. If this were true, then 6:44 should have said “I might raise him up on the last day; it all depends whether he obeys the rules (of the Church).”

      About 1 Cor 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Here is the context:

      [20] But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [21] For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

      Now, Vivator, it is obvious that the “all” in “in Christ shall all be made alive” refers to all those that come/believe (Jn 6:44). We can then deduce that the “all” in “in Adam all die” refers to the same group as the “all” who are in Christ. It is ALSO true, of course, that all in the world have died in Adam, but this cannot be what “all” means in 1 Cor 15:22. Verse 23 makes this abundantly clear:
      [23] But each [of ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE] in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ (that is, ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE).

      Another thing you say:
      “the Reprobate are ultimately responsible for their damnation. In contrast in Calvinism it is God who wants them to end up in hell.”

      As you know, the Bible says that every human being in the natural state is reprobate and is, therefore, under condemnation and deserves eternal punishment. Therefore, as you say, they (we) are responsible for their (our) own damnation – UNLESS the Father draws them (us) by his grace (free undeserved gift). And as John 6:44 states:“No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw (ELECTS) him; and I will raise him (the same person) up in the last day” (John 6:44). The whom in “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” (Romans 9:15) is – must logically be – the same person as him in Jn 6:44.

      And to drive the point home: “So then it [Jn 6:44] depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:16).

      Romans 9
      [14] What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! [15] For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” [16] So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

  4. You wrote “He whom the Father draws will (CERTAINLY) come”. Unfortunately there is no word “certainly” in the original Greek text. In synergism those who are drawn must response using their free will. The problem with Calvinism is you take away human freewill from the equation and this leads to disaster. In Calvinism human is totally deprived that they cannot make any decision or will towards their salvation. Unless God regenerate them without their cooperation they will be damned. While you are fully entitled to have such opinion, it will make God responsible for both salvation of some and damnation of some and yet the Bible says God so loves the world, not loves only part of the world.

    You interpretation of 1 Cor 15:22 is questionable. If all in the first part refers to all men, without exception, then why the second all refers only to the Elect? If that is how you understand it, then inspired by the Holy Spirit Paul then should write “all Elect” instead of “all”. 1 Cor 15:22 does say that God offers salvation through Christ to everyone and this is not in line with Calvinism. Why some end up in hell is not His will but their own will. The following analogy perhaps will better explain monergist view, i.e that God will some to be saved and others to be damned.

    In monergism all men are like damaged cars on conveyor belt that will bring them to crushing machine. There is nothing those cars can do to save themselves – they are not even aware that they will be crushed. They don’t have a will to be saved let alone make request to be saved. God is a good mechanic – what He did is He chose some cars unconditionally, i.e. His choice does not depend on their colour, year of make, type, size, manufacturer, country of origin, degree of damage etc. He repaired those chosen cars, filled their tanks with gas and then drove them home. During the process those cars gave neither resistance (no kicking and screaming whatsoever) nor cooperation. The damaged cars He did not choose obviously ended up being crushed – there is nothing they can do.

    • Vivator
      you say “In monergism all men are like damaged cars on conveyor belt that will bring them to crushing machine.”

      That is not correct; in monergism, men, all men, deserve eternal damnation because they have wilfully rejected God. All of us have sinned and fallen short. We, in our natural state, are not not merely damaged; we’re dead (Eph 2) – dead to Christ, and all are under God’s wrath. The natural man hates Christ. God saves those on whom he has mercy, and, as Paul, says, if you think that is unfair, who are you to talk back to God. Whatever God appoints will occur. He never fails. In your synergistic system, God tries, begs, pleads, cajoles, but in the end he mostly fails. You will reply that God wanted to fail because that is the only way he could preserve man’s free will. The Bible says otherwise; it says that man is free to do what he wants (unless another man prevents him); he is free to follow his heart. But, what does the heart want? it wants it’s Self.

      The bottom line is that “He whom the Father draws will come”. Tell me what else this means besides will CERTAINLY come. If man says he will do something, you can bet your bottom dollar that he will often not come. When God says he will do something, it’s absolutely certain that he will accomplish it.

      [9] remember the former things of old;
      for I am God, and there is no other;
      I am God, and there is none like me,
      [10] declaring the end from the beginning
      and from ancient times things not yet done,
      saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
      and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
      (Isaiah 46:9-10 ESV)

  5. What I wrote exactly describes monergism. They represent all men which you described as “in monergism, men, all men, deserve eternal damnation because they have wilfully rejected God. ” They are like damaged cars deemed for destruction in the first place. God chose some to be saved and bypassed the rest. The chosen ones can neither resist nor cooperate with His saving grace – just like damaged cars. Like most Calvinist you try to shield your belief using God sovereignty – God is indeed sovereign but He cannot contradict Himself. If 1 Cor 15:22 says “through Christ shall all be made alive” then He would not bypass some.

    • The verse following 1 Cor 15:22 explains who the “all” are who “shall be made alive:

      [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming THOSE WHO BELONG TO CHRIST.
      (1 Corinthians 15:22-23 ESV)

      In your (the synergist) interpretation, “made alive” does not mean those who come to Christ, that is, “belong to Christ;” it means something like “raising awareness” that Christ exists. “Made alive” cannot mean that; it means those who come to belong to Christ, those who are born again, those whom the Father has given to Him, which he then draws and they then come. And to those who come, Christ grants eternal life.

      “No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw (ELECTS) him; and I will raise him (the same person) up in the last day” (John 6:44).

      • 1 Cor 15:23 does not support monergism either – it does deny universalism. If it supports monergism then verse 22 should read “in Christ shall SOME be made alive”. Synergism can fit perfectly well in both verses. God offers salvation to ALL (satisfying verse 22) yet we have freedom to either accept or reject this free offer. Thus verse 23 refers to those who accept the offer. Elsewhere Scripture gives support of synergism. In Rev 3:20 Christ takes the initiative to knock at our door, yet He does not enter UNLESS we hear His voice and open the door. In 1 Cor 10:13 God says He provides way of escape to us to endure the temptation of sin. The fact that we still sin from time to time shows that we sometime do not use this free offer. You keep on quoting John 6:44 as verse that supports monergism. Synergism has no problem with that verse because while we have freedom God always takes the first initiative, i.e we cannot come to Christ using our freewill. In John 17:12, Jesus said: While I was with them, I kept them in thy name, which thou hast given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that Scripture might be fulfilled. Here Christ talked about his twelve disciples whom God the Father GAVE to Him but one of them (Judas) later betrayed Him.

        • Vivator

          Here is 1 Cor 15:22-23 again:

          [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

          With regard to your “1 Cor 15:23 does not support monergism either – it does deny universalism. If it supports monergism then verse 22 should read “in Christ shall SOME be made alive”.

          According to your argument, then, the phrase “made alive” (by Christ) supports monergism. are you sure you mean that? For if you do believe that, then you would accept that the following passage in Ephesians is monergistic:

          [2:1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— [3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV).

          Now, you’re a synergist, like all Catholics, so I don’t know where you’re going with this

          About your “in Christ shall SOME be made alive,” (your re-adjustment of v. 22), verse 23 explains that the “all will be made alive” in v. 22 refers to “But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN CHRIST,” that is, ALL those who believe in Christ.
          Here are two related verses:

          Romans 5:17 – For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

          Romans 6:4 – We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

          The letters of Paul are addressed ONLY to Christians and so is your next issue addressed to Christians only, namely, “In Rev 3:20 Christ takes the initiative to knock at our door, yet He does not enter UNLESS we hear His voice and open the door.” This verse has nothing to do with becoming believers, because the people Christ is addressing are already believers. Is Christ Knocking at the Door of Whosoever’s Heart? Synergists say yes; monergists say no.

          ” [14] What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! [15] For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” [16] So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:14-16 ESV)

  6. In verse 22 (of 1 Cor 15:22) if the first “all” means all, without exception, then the second “all” should be the same. God offers salvation through Christ to ALL but we have freedom to either accept or reject it – this is synergism. Those who accept will belong to Christ and they will be made alive as stated in verse 23. Following monergism then verse 22 should read “For as in Adam all die, in Christ shall the Elect be made alive” and Paul would not bother to write verse 23.
    Ephesians 2:1-5 is not against synergism. Even in synergism we are saved by grace. Do not confuse cooperation with contribution. We do cooperate with God’s grace but we do not contribute to our salvation. As an analogy if you threw a life line to a drowning person and pulled him to safety – that person cannot claim he contributed to his “salvation” because he had to grab and held the lifeline firmly until you pull him into safety. He did cooperate but he did not contribute.
    You cited Romans 5:17, why not Roman 5:18? Is it because that verse offers same problem to you like 1 Cor 15:22? You interpretation of Rev 3:20 is ridiculous – if in your understanding the person inside is already believer in Christ then he has option either to open the door to welcome Him or to ignore Him totally (and still claims to be His believer?). Even Paul’s letters were addressed to Christians, 1 Cor 10:13 still implies that Christians have freedom to either use the way of escape God provides or not – this is synergism. Romans 9:14 is not against synergism either – even in synergism there is predestination, i.e. we cannot use our freedom to choose or have will to be saved (most Calvinists confuse synergism with semi-pelagianism, which believes we can use our freedom to will our salvation and hence there is no predestination – God only foreknows who will go to heaven and who will go to hell). God gives the Elect His grace in abundance (Eph 1:7-8) – the Reprobate still receives grace, which they pervert (Jude 4). In Catholic teaching the Elect receives sufficient and efficacious grace while the Reprobates receive sufficient but inefficacious grace. Why is it so? Catholics cite Romans 9:15 as answer but without having problem with 1 Cor 15:22, Romans 5:18 and Titus 2:11.

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