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The Reformation's Conflict With Rome: Why it must continue Paperback – May 16, 2001
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"Dr Reymond clearly demonstrates in this monograph that there are serious doctrinal differences between the Roman catholic teaching and Biblical Christianity... I am confident the reader will find this work clear, fair and accurate. I highly commend its close reading" (R.C. Sproul ~ Founder & Chairman of Ligonier Ministries, Orlando, Florida)
"This is an important book dealing with the great doctrine of Justification by Faith alone. Roman Catholicism brings works into it by some form or other, therefore denying the clear words of Holy Scripture." (British Church Newspaper)
"the serious purpose of the work - that the true gospel and the salvation of souls are at stake - make this recommended reading for contemporary evangelicals." (Banner of Truth)
"Dr Reymond calls us straight to justification by faith as the central issue of the conflict; so immediately we know where we stand and why. The argument is clear, whether he is demonstrating the flawed basis of authority in Rome or expressing disappointment at J I Packer's signing of Evangelical and Catholics Together." (Evangelical Times)
"Robert Reymond is to be warmly commended for producing such a lucid book on the reformation controversy with Rome, and why that controversy must continue even today." (Nick Needham ~ Lecturer in Church History, Highland Theological College, Dingwall, Scotland)
"The Christian public is indebted to Dr. Reymond for producing such a lucid and incisive volume evaluating modern attempts to rejoin Protestant churches with the Roman Catholic Church... The reader will be well informed by this decisive, but irenic, rejection of the notion that the Roman Church has always embraced the biblical concept of justification by faith." (Richard Mayhue ~ Research Professor of Theology Emeritus, The Master's Seminary, Sun Valley, California)
About the Author
Robert L. Reymond (1932-2013) taught for more than 25 years on the faculties of Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis, Missouri) and Knox Theological Seminary (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida). He held degrees from Bob Jones University and did post-doctoral studies at Fuller Seminary, New York University, Union Seminary (New York), Tyndale House, Cambridge, and Rutherford House, Edinburgh.
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Robert Reymond, in this short book of 141 pages, addresses these and some wider Protestant-Catholic issues. In the foreward to the book, Dr. Nick Needham notes that "the doctrine of forensic justification through faith alone in Christ alone was at the heart of the Reformation." The Reformers felt that herein lay the heart of the Gospel; they were convinced that Scripture did not allow any synergism between God and man in our salvation. God and God alone saves sinners; we cling to Christ and his finished work on the cross by faith alone. Any Gospel that claimed there was anything we did that contributed to our own salvation the Reformers recognized from Scripture was no gospel at all and thus would not save anyone from their sins. The stakes were such that they could not continue in fellowship with Rome when Rome made it clear it would have nothing to do with "sola fide", a gospel of faith alone.
Fast forward to today. What of this document, JDJ? Is there now a consensus in basic truths between Lutherans and Catholics on the issues of justification? If so, one of two things has to be the case. Either Rome has changed and embraced sola fide, or Lutherans have rejected sola fide and embraced Rome's sacramental system. An examination of the document reveals, however, that neither of these conclusions is to be arrived at. Nothing has changed since the days of the Reformation, except the ability of many theologians to think clearly.
The document says that they can agree on justification because both parties agree that somehow justification is by God's grace through faith. As long as you can say "we are saved by God's grace through faith" that's all that matters. How you explain it, that's your business. But this will not do: we need to understand how we are justified by grace, and what is missing from the formula is the word "alone". The Reformation was fought over the word "alone."
Consider the following statement: "Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to do good works." On the surface, this sounds pretty good. The problems arrive when we try to figure out just what is being said in this statement, but we are not told. "By grace alone" is not the same as "by faith alone." "Not because of any merit on our part" does not exclude merit produced by the Spirit of God (that is, by us, while in a state of grace). Finally, how "we receive the Holy Spirit" is not defined here.
Trent (the 16th century Roman Catholic council that responded to the Reformation and systematized much of modern Catholic dogma) never denied that justification comes by grace alone. Trent did, however, deny that we receive this grace by faith alone, insisting that justifying faith must be clothed with love, that there are necessary works we must do in addition to having faith, before we can be justified. Rome also believes that the Holy Spirit is called down in the waters of infant baptism; this is Roman sacramentalism and baptismal regeneration which Christians do not accept.
So you can say all day long "I'm justified by grace alone" but if you deliberately do not use careful language and refuse to define terms, you haven't said anything. Evangelical apologist Rob Zins, speaking on the subject, puts it this way: "We are asked to swallow the language of spin and equivocation. What this amounts to at the end of the day is absolute sheer obfuscation. It is a total distortion and muddle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Author Robert Reymond comes to a similar conclusion: "In sum, there is no consensus on the doctrine of justification in the Declaration but rather only an expressed willingness to overlook one another's "errors," presumably because church unity is to take precedence over doctrinal truth."
Let me just quickly address the second thing my pastor said that morning in his office, that it was enough that he could say the Apostle's Creed with a Roman Catholic. The early creeds of the church were focussed on the person of Christ but had very little to say about the work of Christ, and it is primarily this latter subject that is at issue. Reymond argues that "according to Paul there is no saving value in holding to an 'orthodox view' of the person of Christ if one is at the same time also holding to an 'unorthodox' view of the work of Christ." What follows from this is that "one can believe from his heart that every statement of the Apostles' Creed" and all the other ancient creeds "is true and still be lost, if in order to be saved he is trusting to any degree in his own character, and/or if he believes that he must contribute at least some good works toward his salvation, and/or if he is trusting in Christ plus anyone or anything else."
Robert Reymond urges us not to ignore or downplay the Protestant Reformation; instead he gives us good reasons "why it must continue." Martin Luther called "sola fide" the doctrine by which the church stands or falls. May we consider these things before we make an idol of ecumenism and declare peace where there is no peace.
As the Centuries have progressed from luther's revolt, the protstsants have back peddled on many of the major isssues. The anti-Aristotelian bias that luther and calvin espoused led to wide spread anti-intellectualism and Fideism in which logica and coherent thinking were ignored. The remedy was Protestant Scholasticism in which logic and reason were retruned to the study of theology instead of the existential encounter withte h text that had dominated the Protestant world. In the 19th Century The study of Scripture and the development of higher criticism made the conceit of 'Sola Scriptura' untenable. The the rise of Patristic studies wshowed that the theological positions of catholicism were not products of a Medieval 'decline' into paganism but a continuation of theological traditions from teh Eariest church.
In the 20th Century Protestantism kowtowed to the dictatorships and could not develop a comprehensive worldview that was distinctly Christian and modern. They began to fall back on mere Fundamentalism as a test of orthodoxy and tried to undermine the advances of science. Then in the late 20th Century, the new perspective on St Paul showed that the principles allegedly recovered during the Protestant revolt were in fact the product of projection on to the Bible of alien ideas borrowed from medieval Nominalism.
So now with no philosophical, biblical, historical, or Pauline warrant Mr. Reymond asserts his preferences in theology as if they were long hallowed values instead of imaginary man-made rules.
Spare yourself and pass this one by.