The Catholic Defender Responds to Mr. Duckworth

Posted by John Benko - August 6th, 2013

There was an open debate today between Deepertruth’s John Benko and Matt Duckworth on the question of Sola Fide and it did not take long before both sides were critical of the other.

Obviously, John Benko was winning the issue on point while Mr. Duckworth began to attack the person.

This would continue until about 12:30 in the morning.  Lets just take a look at the real argument of Mr. Duckworth.

Duckworth, “Your primary problem, John, is a complete inability to sort out what is law and what is gospel, and what is works and what is grace. Roman Catholics have to throw them all in a blender in order to come out with their theology on the other side, and still sound like they have a modicum of Biblical accuracy.” 

The Catholic Church does not have to throw works and grace  and the law in a blender, not at all. 
 

GRACE AND JUSTIFICATION
I. JUSTIFICATION
1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism:34

But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.35

1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:36

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.37

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39
 
1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.
1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.
1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:40

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.41

1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:

When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.42

1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God’s love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that “the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth,” because “heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away.”43He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.

1995 The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the “inner man,44 justification entails the sanctification of his whole being:

Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification. . . . But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.45

The works of the Law gets you really nowhere, that is the Old Law, but we are given into another law.  The law of grace.  This includes the works that are appointed to the Christian to fulfill from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 2:10).

Duckworth “There will more to follow, as it’s going to take some time to untangle your bird’s nest of law and gospel, and sort things out a bit when I hopefully get some time later today.

I still retain the floor.

 I’m going to skip several pages of material to the bottom because there is one more essential issue I wanted to address. I hesitate to address it because it is off topic, the very thing I am trying to discourage, but I can’t resist.

John wrote:
[[Mat
thew 7
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many
will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons
in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them,]]

The primary question here is, what does Christ mean by fruit? The first implication is you will know them by their works.”

IV. CHRISTIAN HOLINESS
 
2012 “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him . . . For those whom he fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.”64
2013 “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.”65 All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”66

In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ’s gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.67

2014 Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called “mystical” because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments – “the holy mysteries” – and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.
2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.68 Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:

He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.69

2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.70 Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the “blessed hope” of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”71
 
IN BRIEF
2017 The grace of the Holy Spirit confers upon us the righteousness of God. Uniting us by faith and Baptism to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the Spirit makes us sharers in his life.
2018 Like conversion, justification has two aspects. Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, and so accepts forgiveness and righteousness from on high.
2019 Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.
2020 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God’s mercy.

2021 Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of becoming his adopted sons. It introduces us into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life.
2022 The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom.
2023 Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.
2024 Sanctifying grace makes us “pleasing to God.” Charisms, special graces of the Holy Spirit, are oriented to sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. God also acts through many actual graces, to be distinguished from habitual grace which is permanent in us.
2025 We can have merit in God’s sight only because of God’s free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man’s collaboration. Man’s merit is due to God.
2026 The grace of the Holy Spirit can confer true merit on us, by virtue of our adoptive filiation, and in accordance with God’s gratuitous justice. Charity is the principal source of merit in us before God.
2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

2028 “All Christians . . . are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity” (LG 40 § 2). “Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having none” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, De vita Mos.:PG 44, 300D).
2029 “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24).

Mr. Duckworth, I see nothing here that says anything about throwing “ throw them all in a blender in order to come out with their theology on the other side”.
I admit that this might be a bit much for you to digest,  but it is important to note that the Catholic Church is well founded on it’s doctrines.  Your going to have to do far more than simply make false accusations.

Duckworth If this is true, than Mormons are not false teachers, since they are actually very efficient at charity, caring for the poor, and promoting traditional family values as well as a strong moral fabric in society. Not to mention, verses 21-23
are actually attributing mighty works in Christ’s name to those who are being rejected by Christ.

III. MERIT

You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts.59

2006 The term “merit” refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of justice, in conformity with the principle of equality which governs it.
2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.
2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God’s gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us “co-heirs” with Christ and worthy of obtaining “the promised inheritance of eternal life.”60 The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.61 “Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God’s gifts.”62
2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit be
fore God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.63

Doing good in and of itself gets you no where, however, if your following the truth of God and his principles, then doing good works is very important.  You will be held accountable for how you live your life.  We are called to be faithful.  Good works is important in picking up our cross and following him.  To taking care of the widows and orphans is a responsibility.

Duckworth  In a great sense of irony, I actually believe this to be a condemnation of Roman Catholic teaching… in that Christ is condemning those who called on His name and point to their own works as their justification on the last day. It is a condemnation of Mormons too, and every other religion in the world that bases salvation on works done (which is the worldly religion).

Actually, this warning from Jesus in verse 22-23 points to works made by those who were false prophets to include those disciples who perform works of healing and exorcism, but live evil lives. We see this in Deuteronomy18:18-20, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.  If any man will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.  But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die”.

Mormans are not a good representative group because any group that proclaims something contrary to the Catholic teaching place themselves in this situation.

Duckworth So that brings us back to the question, what is fruit? What is the context? The context is false prophets… the fruits are their teachings! You will know them by their teaching.

I can accept teaching here, no question about that, but works are also indicated by the evil they do.  

It is very interesting how people attempt to minimize the works of God in our lives.  

We shall know them by their fruits.  Matt, this is how I can know your teaching is false and full of misrepresentations.

What are those works that we are to strive?  

The Corporal Works of Mercy

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Visit the sick
  • Visit the imprisoned
  • Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

  • Admonish the sinner
  • Instruct the ignorant (This and the next work are extremely pertinent categories today, when so many people are confused by what the Church teaches on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, etc.)
  • Counsel the doubtful
  • Comfort the sorrowful
  • Bear wrongs patiently
  • Forgive all injuries
  • Pray for the living and the dead

These are things that are important for the believer.  This is not the same as the works of the law was in the Old Testament.  We are to be that grace the Lord works in our lives by doing his will.

Duckworth A right handling of God’s Word, of law and gospel, will result in the hearers coming to a genuine repentance and trusting faith in Christ alone for salvation, which is the will of the Father in heaven (v.21)

It is interesting that you say “A right handling of God’s Word“, you want to make yourself the arbiter  of God’s word?  This was given to the Catholic Church by Jesus himself so anyone who proclaims to be a disciple who has no tie to the apostolic Church is self deceived.  The true Gospel of Jesus Christ has to be 2,000 years ago, it cannot be formulated in 1917 or any other man made date.  Then you fall right into (Deuteronomy 18:20, Matthew 7:22-23) placing yourself as a false prophet.

You also speak of the law as to say rightly handling God’s law.   “Know this, my brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he looks like. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing” (James 1:19-25).

The Catholic Faith has been the safeguard of the Word of God from the beginning.  The law of Grace is in effect until the Lord does return and everyone will be held accountable to their works.

Duckworth “A wrongful handling of God’s Word, and a confusion of law and gospel, will result in a different “fruit”; one where the hearers are confident in their own works for salvation, and who are actually deceived into believing they just need to follow Christ “a little better”, or be “obedient enough” to enter heaven. The fruits of this teaching are self righteousness, and the trusting of one’s own works for salvation, as is evidenced in v. 21-23″

On this point, I have no quarrel, I would simply say that you are looking at your own mirror when you direct that erroneously at others.  Grace, faith, and good works together strengthen a rope that will not break.  When you try to unravel the obvious truth behind this rope, you simply weaken yourself and are subject to heresy.

Duckworth “Alright, that’s all for now. I await your response, and would appreciate some focus, instead of trying to lead the conversation down 100 different rabbit trails. Salvation SOLA FIDE is the topic of discussion.”

It is very interesting to me to see you say this because your side of the line are masters of using the scatter-gun  technique? If we could really get you to stay focused on a subject that would be great.  I wish we could have had you act this way today as opposed to your name-calling, threats, and insults.  That was your focus today.   

The Late John Gerstner was a Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary once said, “If Protestants were wrong on Sola Fide–and the Catholic Church was right that Justification is by faith and works, I’d be on my knees tomorrow morning outside of the Vatican doing penance”.

According to Luther and Calvin this was the article on which the Church stood or fell, Sola Fide was the material principle of the Reformation.
 
Consider 1 Corinthians 13:2, “If I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” St. Paul is essentially saying that if you have no love, your faith is in vain.

 This is in total agreement with James 2:14. St James asked the question, “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works. Can his faith save him?”

Duckworth  “We can go ahead and dispense with the insults, condescending remarks, and mad proclamations of victory over sola fide. I’ve already heard them, have already yawned as a result, and am only interested in the content of you addressing my arguments.”

Well, unfortunately, this is the best you can do? No wonder you gracefully bowed out of the debate? That again is your right.  It’s a shame that you were not able to hold to your own principles.  You can yawn all you want to, Jesus is not yawning, this is no game to him. 

 Duckworth  “I would like to see if anyone was following along or all that work was for naught, so after this is finalized, I would ask Robert to open the thread up for discussion.
Unfortunately, there is probably something like 50,000 + characters of text, that I expect most people, sadly, will not read through. To that end, I would like to ask John F Benko to delete some of the unnecessary banter in the middle and I will delete mine. This cleans the thread up a little for people to hopefully read.”

This is all the more why the forum is not ideal for debate.  There are way too many opportunities for people to get misrepresented, sort through the wrestling of the volume of information piling up, it takes the responder a long time to go through it.  Unfortunately, at the end of the day, you were not really interested in debate.  You wanted to go personal.  Personally, I would want my opponent to give their best to the table.  I want those following the debate to be able to get both points of view.  You made this virtually impossible with your personal insults.

Matt Duckworth, I dedicate this song to you. (Editors note-upon learning of Sylvester Stallone’s return to his Catholic Faith, Praise the Lord for the return of the prodigals)

A response from Matt Duckworth:

If you want forgiveness for ripping my words out of context and using them to falsely characterize me on your web site, than I forgive you for that. I mean that too, I truly don’t hold a grudge. I accept that as part of the hazards and risk of online debating with bloggers. Most people would be quite angry with that but I am not.

There are not many people who follow me, and I am not popular online. I am just another anonymous guy who debates with opposing viewpoints in my SPARE TIME.

If what you say is true, about this “going viral” than my anger has truly turned into amusement. Is there that many people with that much spare time on their hands?

Matt, I took your words and tried to correctly respond to them, I will admit that blogging a debate can be easy to misinterpret a meaning so for that, I can easily say that I’m sorry if I missed your point.

The past couple of days has shown how things can go south very quickly and so it is good to have the opportunity to clarify it and bring it into perspective.

People love a fight, Ali vs Fraiser, Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior, the Catholic Defender vs Matt Duckworth.  These things bring excitement out of an ordinary day.

The power of the internet is far reaching that can be used for good or evil.  Here at Deepertruth, we are dedicated to serving Jesus and His Catholic Church which is our foundation.  To “Consecrate yourself to God the Father through the Son, Christ Jesus.”

I do want to invite you on a show with me in the future that we can talk this over.  It doesn’t have to be a debate, Catholic vs Protestant or anything like that, just two guys getting together about the past couple of days to show respect.  Matt, the ball is back in your court.


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