Thursday, October 30, 2008

John Calvin: a tri-theistic heretic???

In the recently published book, His Broken Body, the Eastern Orthodox professor, Laurent Cleenewerck (go HERE for an abbreviated biography), contributed the following:

Paul Owen [for context, see THIS ESSAY] is correct when he notes that the Western tradition tends to the conclusion that each Person is autotheos, but it should be clear that this has never been the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. This heresy of tri-theism was only proclaimed by John Calvin who denounced the eternal generation of the Son as “an absurd fiction”. (Page 324 – bold emphasis mine.)

Shortly thereafter we read:

For whatever reason, what we call the Western tradition has tended to theologize on the opposite extreme of Arianism. As we have mentioned, the early tendencies of the Roman Church were on the Modalistic side, and it is in Reformed / Protestant Western Christianity that we find such aberrations as ‘Oneness’ theology and the triple autotheos of John Calvin. (Page 341.)

Concerning the term autotheos, and its usage by John Calvin, the esteemed Reformed theologian, B. B. Warfield wrote:

The circumstance that Dr. Charles Hodge, writing three centuries afterwards (1559-1871), reproduces precisely Calvin's position may intimate to us something of the historical significance of Calvin's discussion of the Trinity. Clearly Calvin's position did not seem a matter of course, when he first enunciated it. It roused opposition and created a party. But it did create a party: and that party was shortly the Reformed Churches, of which it became characteristic that they held and taught the self-existence of Christ as God and defended therefore the application to Him of the term autotheos; that is to say, in the doctrine of the Trinity they laid the stress upon the equality of the Persons sharing in the same essence, and thus set themselves with more or less absoluteness against all subordinationism in the explanation of the relations of the Persons to one another. When Calvin asserted, with the emphasis which he threw upon it, the self-existence of Christ, he unavoidably did three things. First and foremost, he declared the full and perfect deity of our Lord, in terms which could not be mistaken and could not be explained away. The term autotheos served the same purpose in this regard that the term homoousios had served against the Arians and the term hypostasis against the Sabellians. No minimizing conception of the deity of Christ could live in the face of the assertion of aseity or autotheotēs of Him. This was Calvin's purpose in asserting aseity of Christ and it completely fulfilled itself in the event. In thus fulfilling itself, however, two further effects were unavoidably wrought by it. The inexpugnable opposition of subordinationists of all types was incurred: all who were for any reason or in any degree unable or unwilling to allow to Christ a deity in every respect equal to that of the Father were necessarily offended by the vindication to Him of the ultimate Divine quality of self-existence. And all those who, while prepared to allow true deity to Christ, yet were accustomed to think of the Trinitarian relations along the lines of the traditional Nicene orthodoxy, with its assertion of a certain subordination of the Son to the Father, at least in mode of subsistence, were thrown into more or less confusion of mind and compelled to resort to nice distinctions in order to reconcile the two apparently contradictory confessions of autotheotēs and of theos ek theou of our Lord. It is not surprising, then, that the controversy roused by Caroli and carried on by Chaponneau and Courtois did not die out with their refutation; but prolonged itself through the years and has indeed come down even to our own day. Calvin's so-called innovation with regard to the Trinity has, in point of fact, been made the object of attack through three centuries, not only by Unitarians of all types, nor only by professed Subordinationists, but also by Athanasians, puzzled to adjust their confession of Christ as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God" to the at least verbally contradictory assertion that in respect of His deity He is not of another but of Himself. (B. B. Warfield, “Calvin’s Doctrine of the Trinity”, in Calvin and Calvinism, volume V of The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield – Baker Book House, 1981 reprint, pages 251, 252; note: I have transliterated all Greek terms for my readers.)

Warfield concluded his essay with:

In his assertion of the autotheotēs of the Son Calvin, then, was so far from supposing that he was enunciating a novelty that he was able to quote the Nicene Fathers themselves as asserting it " in so many words." And yet in his assertion of it he marks an epoch in the history of the doctrine of the Trinity. Not that men had not before believed in the self-existence of the Son as He is God: but that the current modes of stating the doctrine of the Trinity left a door open for the entrance of defective modes of conceiving the deity of the Son, to close which there was needed some such sharp assertion of His absolute deity as was supplied by the assertion of His autotheotēs. If we will glance over the history of the efforts of the Church to work out for itself an acceptable statement of the great mystery of the Trinity, we shall perceive that it is dominated from the beginning to the end by a single motive - to do full justice to the absolute deity of Christ. And we shall perceive that among the multitudes of great thinkers who under the pressure of this motive have labored upon the problem, and to whom the Church looks back with gratitude for great services, in the better formulation of the doctrine or the better commendation of it to the people, three names stand out in high relief, as marking epochs in the advance towards the end in view. These three names are those of Tertullian, Augustine and Calvin. It is into this narrow circle of elect spirits that Calvin enters by the contribution he made to the right understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. That contribution is summed up in his clear, firm and unwavering assertion of the autotheotēs of the Son. By this assertion the homoousiotēs of the Nicene Fathers at last came to its full right, and became in its fullest sense the hinge of the doctrine. (Ibid. pages 283, 284.)

So, is one to conclude with the venerable Warfield that Calvin’s, “assertion of the autotheotēs of the Son”, “marks an epoch in the history of the doctrine of the Trinity”; or, should one side with our Eastern Orthodox professor, denouncing Calvin’s “triple autotheos” as heretical and an aberration?

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Subordinationism in St. Irenaeus

In the ESSAY that I linked to in the previous thread, I provided numerous examples of clear, unequivocal, Subordinationism from writings of various early Church Fathers. One Church Father who was absent from the list was St. Irenaeus, the second century bishop of Lugdunum (i.e. Lyon). I shall now remedy that vacancy via the following quotations from the corpus of the esteemed Church Father:

But, beyond reason inflated [with your own wisdom], ye presumptuously maintain that ye are acquainted with the unspeakable mysteries of God; while even the Lord, the very Son of God, allowed that the Father alone knows the very day and hour of judgment, when He plainly declares, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, neither the Son, but the Father only.” If, then, the Son was not ashamed to ascribe the knowledge of that day to the Father only, but declared what was true regarding the matter, neither let us be ashamed to reserve for God those greater questions which may occur to us. For no man is superior to his master. If any one, therefore, says to us, “How then was the Son produced by the Father?” we reply to him, that no man understands that production, or generation, or calling, or revelation, or by whatever name one may describe His generation, which is in fact altogether indescribable. (Against Heresies, 2.28.6 – ANF 1.401)

For if any one should inquire the reason why the Father, who has fellowship with the Son in all things, has been declared by the Lord alone to know the hour and the day [of judgment], he will find at present no more suitable, or becoming, or safe reason than this (since, indeed, the Lord is the only true Master), that we may learn through Him that the Father is above all things. For “the Father,” says He, “is greater than I.” The Father, therefore, has been declared by our Lord to excel with respect to knowledge; for this reason, that we, too, as long as we are connected with the scheme of things in this world, should leave perfect knowledge, and such questions [as have been mentioned], to God, and should not by any chance, while we seek to investigate the sublime nature of the Father, fall into the danger of starting the question whether there is another God above God. (Against Heresies, 2.28.8 – ANF 1.402)

God, therefore, is one and the same, who rolls up the heaven as a book, and renews the face of the earth; who made the things of time for man, so that coming to maturity in them, he may produce the fruit of immortality; and who, through His kindness, also bestows [upon him] eternal things, “that in the ages to come He may show the exceeding riches of His grace;” who was announced by the law and the prophets, whom Christ confessed as His Father. Now He is the Creator, and He it is who is God over all, as Esaias says, “I am witness, saith the LORD God, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I AM. Before me there was no other God, neither shall be after me. I am God, and besides me there is no Savior. I have proclaimed, and I have saved.” And again: “I myself am the first God, and I am above things to come.” For neither in an ambiguous, nor arrogant, nor boastful manner, does He say these things; but since it was impossible, without God, to come to a knowledge of God, He teaches men, through His Word, to know God. To those, therefore, who are ignorant of these matters, and on this account imagine that they have discovered another Father, justly does one say, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Against Heresies, 4.5.1 – ANF 1.466)

Therefore have the Jews departed from God, in not receiving His Word, but imagining that they could know the Father [apart] by Himself, without the Word, that is, without the Son; they being ignorant of that God who spake in human shape to Abraham, and again to Moses, saying, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people in Egypt, and I have come down to deliver them.” For the Son, who is the Word of God, arranged these things beforehand from the beginning, the Father being in no want of angels, in order that He might call the creation into being, and form man, for whom also the creation was made; nor, again, standing in need of any instrumentality for the framing of created things, or for the ordering of those things which had reference to man; while, [at the same time,] He has a vast and unspeakable number of servants. For His offspring and His similitude do minister to Him in every respect; that is, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Word and Wisdom; whom all the angels serve, and to whom they are subject. Vain, therefore, are those who, because of that declaration, “No man knoweth the Father, but the Son,” do introduce another unknown Father. (Against Heresies, 4.7.4 – ANF 1.470)

Truly, then, the Scripture declared, which says, “First of all believe that there is one God, who has established all things, and completed them, and having caused that from what had no being, all things should come into existence:” He who contains all things, and is Himself contained by no one. Rightly also has Malachi said among the prophets: “Is it not one God who hath established us? Have we not all one Father?” In accordance with this, too, does the apostle say, “There is one God, the Father, who is above all, and in us all.” Likewise does the Lord also say: “All things are delivered to Me by My Father;” manifestly by Him who made all things; for He did not deliver to Him the things of another, but His own. But in all things [it is implied that] nothing has been kept back [from Him], and for this reason the same person is the Judge of the living and the dead; “having the key of David: He shall open, and no man shall shut: He shall shut, and no man shall open.” (Against Heresies, 4.20.2 – ANF 1.488)

I have also largely demonstrated, that the Word, namely the Son, was always with the Father; and that Wisdom also, which is the Spirit, was present with Him, anterior to all creation, He declares by Solomon: “God by Wisdom founded the earth, and by understanding hath He established the heaven. By His knowledge the depths burst forth, and the clouds dropped down the dew.” And again: “The Lord created me the beginning of His ways in His work: He set me up from everlasting, in the beginning, before He made the earth, before He established the depths, and before the fountains of waters gushed forth; before the mountains were made strong, and before all the hills, He brought me forth.” And again: “When He prepared the heaven, I was with Him, and when He established the fountains of the deep; when He made the foundations of the earth strong, I was with Him preparing [them]. I was He in whom He rejoiced, and throughout all time I was daily glad before His face, when He rejoiced at the completion of the world, and was delighted in the sons of men. There is therefore one God, who by the Word and Wisdom created and arranged all things…” (Against Heresies, 4.20.3, 4a – ANF 1.488)

But let us revert to the same line of argument [hitherto pursued]. For when it has been manifestly declared, that they who were the preachers of the truth and the apostles of liberty termed no one else God, or named him Lord, except the only true God the Father, and His Word, who has the pre-eminence in all things; it shall then be clearly proved, that they (the apostles) confessed as the Lord God Him who was the Creator of heaven and earth, who also spoke with Moses, gave to him the dispensation of the law, and who called the fathers; and that they knew no other. The opinion of the apostles, therefore, and of those (Mark and Luke) who learned from their words, concerning God, has been made manifest
. (Against Heresies, 3.15.3 – ANF 1.440)

...there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption. Since, therefore, this is sure and steadfast, that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the Spirit of adoption. (Against Heresies, 4.1.1 – ANF 1.463).

Wherefore they also imagine many gods, and they always have the excuse of searching [after truth] (for they are blind), but never succeed in finding it. For they blaspheme the Creator, Him who is truly God, who also furnishes power to find [the truth]; imagining that they have discovered another God beyond God, or another Pleroma, or another dispensation. Wherefore also the light which is from God does not illumine them, because they have dishonored and despised God, holding Him of small account, because, through His love and infinite benignity, He has come within reach of human knowledge (knowledge, however, not with regard to His greatness, or with regard to His essence — for that has no man measured or handled — but after this sort: that we should know that He who made, and formed, and breathed in them the breath of life, and nourishes us by means of the creation, establishing all things by His Word, and binding them together by His Wisdom — this is He who is the only true God); but they dream of a non-existent being above Him, that they may be regarded as having found out the great God, whom nobody, [they hold,] can recognize holding communication with the human race, or as directing mundane matters: that is to say, they find out the God of Epicurus, who does nothing either for himself or others; that is, he exercises no providence at all. (Against Heresies, 3.24.2 – ANF 1.458, 459)

We do indeed pray that these men may not remain in the pit which they themselves have dug, but separate themselves from a Mother of this nature, and depart from Bythus, and stand away from the void, and relinquish the shadow; and that they, being converted to the Church of God, may be lawfully begotten, and that Christ may be formed in them, and that they may know the Framer and Maker of this universe, the only true God and Lord of all. We pray for these things on their behalf, loving them better than they seem to love themselves. For our love, inasmuch as it is true, is salutary to them, if they will but receive it. It may be compared to a severe remedy, extirpating the proud and sloughing flesh of a wound; for it puts an end to their pride and haughtiness. Wherefore it shall not weary us, to endeavor with all our might to stretch out the hand unto them. Over and above what has been already stated, I have deferred to the following book, to adduce the words of the Lord; if, by convincing some among them, through means of the very instruction of Christ, I may succeed in persuading them to abandon such error, and to cease from blaspheming their Creator, who is both God alone, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Against Heresies, 3.25.7 – ANF 1.460)

But as we follow for our teacher the one and only true God, and possess His words as the rule of truth, we do all speak alike with regard to the same things, knowing but one God, the Creator of this universe, who sent the prophets, who led forth the people from the land of Egypt, who in these last times manifested His own Son, that He might put the unbelievers to confusion, and search out the fruit of righteousness. (Against Heresies, 4.35.4 – ANF 1.514)

Now man is a mixed organization of soul and flesh, who was formed after the likeness of God, and molded by His hands, that is, by the Son and Holy Spirit, to whom also He said, “Let Us make man.” (Against Heresies, 4.pref.4 – ANF 1.463)

For never at any time did Adam escape the hands of God, to whom the Father speaking, said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” And for this reason in the last times (fine), not by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but by the good pleasure of the Father, His hands formed a living man, in order that Adam might be created [again] after the image and likeness of God. (Against Heresies, 5.1.3 – ANF 1.527)

For by means of the very same hands through which they were molded at the beginning, did they receive this translation and assumption. For in Adam the hands of God had become accustomed to set in order, to rule, and to sustain His own workmanship, and to bring it and place it where they pleased. (Against Heresies, 5.5.1 – ANF 1.531)

Now God shall be glorified in His handiwork, fitting it so as to be conformable to, and modeled after, His own Son. For by the hands of the Father, that is, by the Son and the Holy Spirit, man, and not [merely] a part of man, was made in the likeness of God. (Against Heresies, 5.6.1 – ANF 1.531)

Now this God is glorified by His Word, who is His eternal Son, and by the Holy Spirit, who is the wisdom the Father of all. And those, powers of the word and wisdom, which are called Cherubim and Seraphim, praise God with unceasing voice, and all who have existence in heaven praise, God the Father of all. He formed all the world by the Word. (Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, chapter 10, trans. by Bishop Karapet and Dr. S.G. Wilson, in Patrologia Orientalis, vol. 12, p. 667.)

Grace and peace,


Addendum (12-23-08) – “But we must necessarily believe God in all things, for God is in all things truthful. And that there was born a Son of God, that is, not only before His appearance in the world, but also before the world was made. Moses, who was the first to prophesy, says in Hebrew: BARESITh BARA ELOVIM BASAN BENUAM SAMENThARES, of which translation [ ] is: A Son in the beginning God established then heaven and earth…for the Son was as a beginning for God before the world was made…(Irenaeus, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, 43 – ACW, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, trans. Joseph P. Smith, 16.75.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Subordinationism and the pre-Nicene Church Fathers

I have gotten involved in a new thread at Fides Quaerens Intellectum, concerning the issue of Subordinationism and the pre-Nicene Church Fathers. I have long maintained, with John Henry Newman, R.P.C. Hanson, and many other Patristic scholars, that ALL of the pre-Nicene Church Fathers held to some form of Subordinationism. However, this view is being challenged by one who posts under the name “Photius Jones”. In the comments section of the above mentioned thread, Photius wrote:

I believe Hanson to be wrong when he states that every single theologian East and West was a subordinationist. I do not see Subordinationism in the anti-Gnostics. The result of subordinationism falls upon a defective ordo theologiae, taken from pagan philosophy, that starts with the Apologists, Clement, and Origen. This inevitably led to the Nicene Crisis. The explanation of the Faith based on philosophical concepts resulted in this confusion. Look at Justin Martyr, is the Logos a Person, a power, or an attribute to St. Justin? Hence, the problem. (October 22, 2008 at 10:03 am.)

A bit later he posted:

Your are [you are; or you’re ?] ambiguous on subordinationism. Subordinationism in its heretical form is that the Son is inferior in nature to the Father. The Son is however subordinate to the Father qua Person according to Orthodox Theology. Where do the 1st Century Fathers and Irenaeus teach that the Son is inferior in Nature to the Father? Igantius? Clement of Rome? They do not, nor does the New Testament teach this. You beg the question based on your received Augustinism, and read the Fathers through that lense. (October 22, 2008 at 2:43.)

Before moving on to the writings of the Church Fathers themselves, in an attempt to eliminate any charge of ambiguity, I shall provide a few selections from recognized, scholarly sources that delineate “Subordinationism”:

SUBORDINATIONISM. Thus we call the tendency, strong in the theology of the 2nd and 3rd cc., to consider Christ, as Son of God, inferior to the Father. Behind this tendancy were gospel statements in which Christ himself stressed this inferiority (Jn 14, 28; Mk 10, 18; 13, 32, etc.) and it was developed esp. by the Logos-christology. This theology, partly under the influence of middle Platonism, considered Christ, logos and divine wisdom, as the means of liaison and mediation between the Father’s position to him. When the conception of the Trinity was enlarged to include the Holy Spirit, as in Origen, this in turn was considered inferior to the Son. Subordinationist tendencies are evident esp. in theologians like Justin, Tertullian, Origen and Novatian; but even in Irenaeus, to whom trinitarian speculations are alien, commenting on Jn 14, 28, has no difficulty in considering Christ inferior to the Father. (M. Simmonetti, Oxford Encyclopedia of the Early Church, II.797.)

SUBORDINATIONISM. Teaching about the Godhead which regards either the Son as subordinate to the Father or the Holy Ghost as subordinate to both. It is a characteristic tendency in much of Christian teaching of the first three centuries, and is a marked feature of such otherwise orthodox Fathers as St. Justin and Origen. (The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., p. 1319.)

SUBORDINATIONISM. The term is a common retrospective concept used to denote theologians of the early church who affirmed the divinity of the Son or Spirit of God, but conceived it somehow as a lesser form of divinity than that of the Father. It is a modern concept that is so vague that is that it does not illuminate much of the theology of the pre-Nicene teachers, where a subordinationist presupposition was widely and unreflectively shared. (John Athony McGuckin, The Westminster Handbook to Patristic Theology, p. 321.)

Ante-Nicene SubordinationismIt is generally conceded that the ante-Nicene Fathers were subordinationists. This is clearly evident in the writings of the second-century “Apologists.”…Irenaeus follows a similar path…The theological enterprise begun by the Apologists and Irenaeus was continued in the West by Hippolytus and Tertullian…The ante-Nicene Fathers did their best to explain how the one God could be a Trinity of three persons. It was the way they approached this dilemma that caused them insoluble problems and led them into subordinationism. They began with the premise that there was one God who was the Father, and then tried to explain how the Son and the Spirit could also be God. By the fourth century it was obvious that this approach could not produce an adequate theology of the Trinity. (Kevin Giles, The Trinity & Subordinationism, pp. 60-62.)

I could literally spend hours, typing up like quotations from various other contemporary scholars, but shall refrain from doing so, being somewhat confident that the above references have dispelled (at least for most) charges of ambiguity concerning the sense of the term “subordinationism”, as applied to the pre-Nicene Church Fathers.

Specific examples of subordination from the pre-Nicene Church Fathers corpus will have to wait until after lunch, a workout, and beach run. Until my next thread, I would like to urge my readers to reflect upon what I contributed in THIS OLDER THREAD.

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Presuppositional apologetics vs. atheism.

Right or wrong, I have, for a number of years now, embraced many of the aspects of the apologetic method developed by the Reformed philosopher/theologian Cornelius Van Til, known as presuppostionalism and/or TAG (transcendental argument for the existence of God).

Van Til’s most erudite disciple, the late Greg L. Bahnsen, is now being represented via YouTube. His debates with two prominent atheists, STEIN, and SMITH (along with many other items) are available for all to take in, and reflect upon. ENJOY!!!

Grace and peace,


Perspicuity: Recent controversy sheds some “light”.

I am still deep into my research concerning the development of the doctrine of justification. While engaged in some online research this morning, I came across a new blog (new, of course, to yours truly), The Heidelblog, which has two recent threads discussing Peter Leithart, “Federal Vision”, and the NW Presbytery of the PCA: FIRST POST; SECOND POST. The following snippet from the second post, should wet the appetite of some of this blog’s readers:

The refusal yesterday by the NW Presbytery of the PCA to discipline a minister who deliberately, provocatively, and openly challenged and contradicted God’s Word as confessed by the Reformed Churches serves as a reminder that adopting “pastoral advice” is not enough.

It seems that many PCA brethren were not as convinced as Mr. Clark that Dr. Leithart, “deliberately, provocatively, and openly challenged and contradicted God’s Word as confessed by the Reformed Churches”. The fact that conservative, Reformed, confessional, Presbyterian scholars cannot come to a clear consensus on the doctrine of justification, certainly speaks to the issue of PERSPICUITY. It also raises the question: which interpretation/doctrinal stance is the correct one?

If brilliant, Reformed scholars, remain embattled over this issue, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

James Swan on justification

The way things unfold in the blogsphere can at times be quite interesting. For instance, my last thread here at AF (09-27-08) dealt with the topic of justification, with the broader picture of the development of doctrine in the background. In the comments section, “Interlocutor” in THIS POST posed a couple of important questions that I chose not to answer at that time. I started ‘hitting-the-books’, focusing on Lane, McGrath, and Oberman. After lunch, I enlisted the internet, and while browsing, came across THIS THREAD, posted yesterday at the AOMIN blog. Though the thread itself is essentially a diatribe directed at James’ all too frequent internet foes, his link to a THREAD at his Beggar’s All blog, which references three books I had read: Oberman’s, The Harvest of Medieval Theology; McGrath’s, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification; and Sproul’s, Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification, caught my interest.

In that same post, James’ then links to yet another BA THREAD, and cites two more books I have read: Pelikan’s, Obedient Rebels: Catholic Substance and Protestant Principle in Luther’s Reformation and his, The Riddle of Roman Catholicism. NOTE: all of these books touch on the questions that “Interlocutor” had posed, and all (with the exception of Sproul’s book) are part of my self-imposed re-reading list for a future attempt at try to address those questions. Interesting indeed!

Now, I still have at least a couple more days of intense reading before I attempt an answer to “Interlocutor”, but in the meantime, feel somewhat compelled to address some of the comments I came across in James’ threads:

In dialoging with Roman Catholics on sola fide, I have sometimes argued from their point of view: that is, the doctrine of justification was not, at the time of Luther’s writing, dogmatically defined in the Roman Catholic sense. In other words, Luther had freedom to hold the view on justification that he did within a Roman Catholic framework.

I think James is substantially correct on this, as long a one keeps in mind that Luther did in fact introduce a theological novum—i.e. justification (soteriologically speaking) via imputation alone.

I share this for one reason: don't get sucked into those silly arguments that "sola fide" was a theological "novum" previous to the Reformation.

Now this depends on how one defines “sola fide”. There is, and has always been, a Catholic sense of the phrase. However, the way in which Luther and Calvin qualified the phrase, one finds a clear departure from the Augustinian and Thomistic understanding, which dominated Middle Age thought/theology. (See Heckel’s informative ESSAY.)

I admit, the historical aspect of sola fide is a difficult issue, but applying a historical test to the Catholic notion of justification has its problems as well. Historically, one can make a case that Augustine didn't know Greek and the entire direction of the Church was redirected away from what the Bible says on sola fide.

This issue has been addressed in a concise and cogent manner HERE.

There is so much more that could be commented on, but I do not want to spend too much time on James’ musings. If others wish to engage the content contained in James' threads and links, please feel free to do so. As for me, time to hit-the-books…

Grace and peace,