𝐏𝐀𝐏𝐀𝐂𝐘 𝐁𝐎𝐎𝐊 𝐑𝐄𝐋𝐄𝐀𝐒𝐄
It is my privilege to finally announce the release of my book 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑷𝒂𝒑𝒂𝒄𝒚: 𝑹𝒆𝒗𝒊𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒃𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝑩𝒆𝒕𝒘𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝑪𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒊𝒄𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑶𝒓𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒅𝒐𝒙𝒚 with the amazing Emmaus Road Publishing of St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. It is available for order on the website of St. Paul Center (see link below). Deo gratis! It is finally done.
Another Reformation day reflection (a summary of my presentation linked above)
Just like with the vast array of doctrinal and liturgical differences that formed the ecclesiastical battles between the Latin West and the Greek East (e.g. the Byzantine lists, Photius’s encyclical anathema of 867, Kerularian response to Humbert, etc., etc.) were eventually reduced down to a debate over the nature of the Papal primacy and what precise kind of government is divinely authored by Jesus Christ, so also the vast array of doctrinal and liturgical differences that formed the battles between the Lutherans and Catholics (the Mass, indulgences, prayers to Saints, relics, etc., etc.) have really centered upon the doctrine of sola fide (I would also add the sacrifice of the Mass and others are still points of contention, though to a lesser degree). And just like between Catholics and Orthodox, the debate became even more magnified with whether Christ commissioned St. Peter and office holds of his lineal succession to wield direct, immediate, and universal jurisdiction over all Christians, so also the Lutheran and Catholic debate over sola fide (justification by faith), once magnified further, widdled down to a difference of how we are exegeting and interpreting Romans 4:1-8.
In the past couple years, the debates between the online Lutheran voice Dr. Jordan Cooper versus Dr. Robert Koons and Jimmy Akin showed some progress in how Catholics and answer the basic objections of Romans 4. Nevertheless, Cooper brought out some very pertinent and significant points about the text of Romans 4 that aren’t always caught by Catholic exegetes. I spoke briefly about this in the stream I published earlier today on my YouTube channel entitled “The Reformation and St. Paul’s ‘Righteousness of God.’” I want to truncate the message:
(1) Cooper correct points out that when Paul cites Genesis 15:6 to describe Abraham’s justification by faith apart from works, this is *not* the initial justification of Abraham. And therefore, the exclusion of “works” entirely from the “justification” of Abraham in Gen. 15:6 cannot be due to the fact that this is Abraham’s initial step into the spiritual life. This has often been the explanation of may exegetes, not least Medieval and post-Medieval Catholics, but also even of Latin, Greek, and Syrian Church Fathers when they attempted to resolve Paul and James. The obvious problem with this is that Abraham’s initial justification has to be back in Genesis 12 when he first believed and obeyed, as the author to the Hebrews tells us. Therefore, Catholics will need to explain how Abraham can receive a workless justification in Gen. 15:6 at a moment far after his initial conversion.
(2) Cooper is correct to also point out that “works” in Romans 4 are not speak restrictively to the outward works of the Jewish boundary markers, otherwise popularly referred to as the “ceremonial” law of the Old Covenant. Throughout the book of Romans, “works” are excluded from people who exist far outside the context where such a restriction would make any sense. For example, mercy of God in electing Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Israel over Egypt, and the righteous remnant of Israel over the blinded mass of ethnic Israel, none of this electing mercy was on the basis of moral works over and against ceremonial works. Rather, God’s merciful election took no works at all into consideration as a cause for God’s undeserved grace of salvation. Therefore, the early Patristic commentators who restrict “ergou nomou” to ceremonial works, as well as the medieval to post-medieval exegetes such as exist popularly in today’s New Perspective on Paul, fail to do justice to the argument of Romans 4:1-9.Continue reading